This definitive guide to the best free bloggings sites of 2021 explores everything you need to know to find a free blogging platform best suited to your needs, including design aesthetics, maintenance and features.
Table of Contents: Quick Links
As we enter the new year, one big item that has most likely found its way onto everyone’s list of resolutions is to develop an additional income stream that can help them make life more affordable and help them achieve greater financial success as they move forward. One of our favorite and most versatile ways to do this is to start your own blog. But while this is recommended quite often, there are many variables that can make it difficult to get started.
One such example of this is finding the right platform to help you launch your blog, with a major focus being one that will help you launch for free. If you’re interested in starting your own blog this year, here are the best free blogging sites (as well as some helpful tips) that will allow you to build a blog for free and set you up on the path to greater income!
What Goes Into Blogging? A Blogger’s Big List of Considerations to Make
Starting your own hobby blog can be a fun way to express yourself and engage with a wide variety of people along the way. However, if you plan on turning your passion into profit, it’s important that you map everything out long before you begin churning out your first blog post. That being said, if you take a look at any successful blog to date, you’ll notice that there a lot of factors contributing to their continued success. What should you be thinking about when you plan on launching your own blog?
To help you get started more successfully, here is a comprehensive list of considerations and items you’ll need to develop if you want to see your own blog thrive!
Blogging: The Fundamentals
Some people may believe that starting a blog is as simple as jumping on a website and writing your thoughts. In some instances (as you’ll find out in the list of 10 free blogging sites below), this is absolutely true. However, for bloggers who plan on scaling their blog and making it popular enough to see revenue, the truth is that there is more that goes into it than initially appears.
To help you get a better understanding of what you will encounter when you begin building your blog, let’s take a look at a few of the fundamentals.
- Domain name: Your domain name is the address of your website. It will generally include your brand or blog’s name, so it’s important to figure out what you want your domain name to be and whether not it’s available before you go to register it. Some blogging platforms will allow you to register your domain name through them, making it easier for you to get all of the blogging services you need in one place.
- Hosting: A web hosting service provider, put simply, provides you with what you need in order to store your website’s information and allow it to be accessible via the world wide web. Generally, hosting and domain name services will be lumped together, making it simple to get started.
- Website templates: Unless you have web design skills you can leverage to your advantage or you wish to outsource the work to an independent contractor, using website templates is the best way to help you find the look and feel of your blog. The good news is that many blogging platforms and websites offer a host of free website templates that you can choose from, with plenty of plugins and add ons only costing a bit more to help you get the most out of your website. Develop a sense of what you want and where you picture your blog going before you start looking at various website templates.
- Plugins: It’s rare for a website template to provide you with all of the features you need to get the most out of your new blog. The good news, you don’t need to know how to code or have to hire someone who does (unless you have something very specific in mind that you want to achieve). Instead, you can find free and paid plugins that you can implement into your website to achieve a certain effect. Make sure to look around to find the best ones for your website as your final design will play a major role in how well your website is received by both your audience and the search engines that you’re trying to rank on.
- Content: As soon as you launch your blog, you’ll want to make sure that you have all of your pages created and filled in so that new users can easily navigate your website. This may include contact pages, directories, main landing pages, and other areas of your website that you won’t want to leave blank. Don’t worry! All of this can always be edited later. You just want to make a good impression as blank pages or pages filled with filler text can make your blog seem unprofessional and drive potential readers away from your website.
A blog can often be far more work than most people anticipate. The above list will introduce you to some of the main components of initially building your blog so that you’re prepared for the road ahead. Another thing that you need to remember to have? Fun! Even though most blogs are designed with the intention of making money, having a passion and interest in the topics you’re covering goes a long way in keeping both you and your readers engaged so that the blog continued to gain the positive traction that you need to truly scale your readership over time!
What Skills Do You Need As a Blogger?
Most bloggers know that they’re going to need to write entertaining, informative writers to attract and encourage readers to stay. However, blogging is much more involved than just writing, especially as your blog grows over time. But exactly what skills will you need as a blogger (or what may you need to hire others for as you move forward)?
- Knowledge of SEO: Searching engine optimization (SEO) is arguably one of the most important skills that bloggers need to have once they begin their journey. Unfortunately, writing and publishing blogs is not the way that you bring in your audience. Instead, you must focus on optimizing your website using certain keywords and strategies so that your blog becomes visible to search engines like Google. Then, Google ranks your pages based on your optimization and overall authority. The more effective your SEO strategy, the higher you will rank and the more organic traffic you can bring in. If you’re looking to dive deeper into SEO so that you can know how to generate traffic, here is a guide to get you started.
- Social Media Marketing Skills: Self-promotion goes a long way in attracting an audience, engaging followers of your blog, and ensuring that they are updated about any new blog posts or other changes to the website. Social media, like SEO and other aspects of online marketing, takes time and skill to master. One of the best resources to help you learn these strategies for free is HubSpot Academy. There, you can learn everything you need to know to get started on your digital marketing journey and even get certifications that you may use down the road!
- Digital Marketing Skills: Strategies like social media and SEO are just some aspects of a digital marketing strategy that you will need to know in order to grow your blog. You can learn more about digital marketing in its entirety in the resource we provided above as well.
- Coding (Can Be Helpful) and Other Technical Skills: Not every blogger knows how to code or program, and you can always hire someone else to take care of your extremely technical issues. However, having some knowledge of basic programming languages like HTML and CSS can go a long way in making your blog easier to manage, especially if you want to create your own designs or plug-ins. A couple of free resources you can use to dive deeper into coding include freecodecamp and Codeacademy.
- Graphic Design Skills: Learning to make your own graphics can greatly improve your social media channel as well as the featured pictures on your blog. Fortunately, you don’t have to take extensive classes on Adobe Photoshop to know how to do some basic graphic design. Instead, you can use tools like Canva to create stunning graphics without having to do all of the hard work that goes into graphic design.
- Networking Skills: Developing relationships with others in your industry can help you grow your authority and form connections that help you tap into new audiences and revenue streams. Networking can be very tricky, so taking the time to learn this skill will make your journey far easier than if you were to try to go without it!
This list of skills touches upon some of the main items you should know as a blogger, but there are always further skills you may want to pick up that will be unique to your journey. As a new blogger, some of these are vital while others may not be necessary until later down the road. However, developing a broad focus on each of these skills is a good idea if you anticipate taking your blog to the next level after you’ve tested your free blog out!
Developing a Business and Marketing Strategy
Interested in running a blog for fun? If so, you don’t necessarily have to worry about all of the items included in this list of considerations a blogger should be making before they get started. A free blog for the sake of making a free blog does not require you to engage in any of these activities, other than writing.
However, if you’re developing a free blog to dip your toes into the blogging world before you take it more seriously, the next major item to focus on is developing a business and marketing strategy.
Your blog is your product, and in order to get your blog to everyone out there who may be interested in the wisdom that you have to offer in your industry, you must have a business and marketing strategy that helps you increase your exposure and spark interest in your blog. But what should you be focusing on when you develop a plan? Some things to think about include:
- How much money should I be spending on my blog? Where will that money be going and how will it support my operations?
- Who is my audience? Why will they want to read my blog instead of any of the other blogs that already exist on the topics that I cover?
- What topics do I want to cover? What sub-categories exist within those topics and am I knowledgeable enough to speak about those in this capacity?
- What keywords am I going to target as I get started? When am I going to publish and how often? How do I do keyword research and how do I ensure that my domain authority is rising so that I can rank for more keywords?
- How often and when should I be posting on my social media?
- How am I going to monetize my blog? Are any of these monetization methods accessible to me? If not, when can I start working on them?
- How have other similar blogs achieved success and what can I learn from them?
These are just a few major questions that can help you begin working on your own business and marketing strategy. Additionally, you should take the time to research local and state laws to see if you need to register your blog as a business. You can learn more about building a business plan and what permits and other items you may need to acquire along the way here.
How Do Others Monetize Their Blogs?
One of the major questions blog owners ask (and one that we included in the above section), is how do others monetize their blogs? After all, some blog owners earn a full-time salary doing what they love, and this is often the reason why others decide to start blogging in the first place. What’s exciting to learn is that there are many ways to monetize your blog and develop a passive income stream along the way. But what are these monetization methods?
- Selling Advertising Space on Your Website: Monetizing your website through ads is typically the first step for bloggers to make money as they start attracting more eyes to their blog. There are two ways that you can make money through ads. The first way is to sign up with a program like Google Adsense, where Google will place relevant ads onto your site’s space and pay you for the number of impressions or clicks, depending on the ads (you have control over the types of ads and where they’re placed as well). The other option is to sell ad space directly to other businesses in need of the advertising placements through a platform. While you won’t make a ton of money through these methods, you can begin to develop substantial passive income with the right traffic and engagement from your readers.
- Becoming an Affiliate for Another Business: Affiliate programs are great for bloggers because they allow you to sell the concept of certain products or services to your audience so that, when they decide to click on your link and purchase whatever it is you’re pitching, you get a portion of that sale for your hard work. There is an abundance of businesses that offer an affiliate program for those who wish to tap into this revenue stream. Just keep in mind that there are laws regarding affiliate link disclosures that make it so you have to let your audience know you’re actively marketing something you can make money off of. This is just one example of a guideline you’ll need to make yourself more familiar with as you navigate this new space!
- Developing a Membership Model for Your Site: If you have a great deal of value to offer your readers and you believe that they’re willing to pay for this value, you may wish to develop a membership model for your new blog. With membership, members may be able to access secret products or knowledge bases, forums, receive special prizes or other goods, and beyond. Take some time to look around at other websites that offer memberships and see what they offer their readers in return for a monthly subscription on their blog.
- Becoming a Sponsor for Other Brands: If you can develop relationships with other brands who will pay you to sponsor their products or services on your blog, you can make a great deal of money in the process, especially if you have the traffic needed to bring real exposure to their brand. Another option you have when you have stronger traffic is paid posts, where others will pay you to write a blog or even provide you with their own blog that you plug into their website so that they can direct some traffic or authority over to them. Never underestimate the power of relationships with other brands!
- Creating and Selling Your Own Digital Goods: If you’re more creative, you could always choose to create and market digital goods to your audience instead. But what types of goods would sell on a blog? Just a few ideas that others have used to monetize their blogging efforts include e-books, online courses, masterclasses, printable spreadsheets (such as those for planners or workshops), and beyond. If you’re creative enough to make it and savvy enough to market it, chances are that you can make money from your digital creations!
- Selling Products or Services on Your Website: E-commerce is quite popular in this day and age, with many turning to online stores as a way to bring in a consistent income. That being said, you don’t have to quit your blog in order to sell items online. Incorporate your products or services into a space on your blog and sell them directly to your audience. Although it will take a bit more technical knowledge as well as business know-how to keep you on track as you dip your toes into e-commerce, it may be a more efficient way to monetize your website if you’re not too interested in the other strategies that we’ve listed so far. It’s your blog, and you can monetize it with all of these items or just one such as e-commerce!
- Flipping Your Website (Long-Term Strategy): Flipping your website is not a monetization recommendation that will help you make money over time. Instead, it’s a consideration to make if you find that your blog reaches a major level of success and you believe that selling it would be worth it. Blogging can be great but as you grow, it can also be a major responsibility both financially and in regards to time in order to keep it going. Some people may instead find buyers who want an already successful blog and can sell it to them for 2 to 3 times what it’s worth. Whether you want to make this your main goal when you first start blogging or something to look into later down the road, keep it in the back of your mind as you scale your blog.
Blogs can make some serious money and while that shouldn’t be your only focus, it should be a priority as you’ll want to have that regular income to sustain your blog without going into the red spending your own money on your website. Hopefully, this section has provided you with some greater insight into how you can make your blog work for you!
What Am I Able to Do With My Blog Once It Gains Traction?
Once your blog has been built and you begin to gain some traction, you can take it in any direction you wish! Whether you want to build it out into a membership-based site where you provide value to your readers, develop an e-commerce platform/hybrid blog where you write extensively about the various products you sell, or even find a buyer for your blog, the sky is the limit for what you can achieve.
But it all starts with taking the first step, which brings us to our main point in this extensive guide on blogging!
10 Best Free Blogging Sites in 2021
Starting a paid blog right out the gate can make it harder for you to keep your momentum and avoid common mistakes that beginner bloggers make. Think of free blogging as a way to practice for the real thing and to give yourself time to become accustomed to the ins and outs of your chosen platform so that you’re more likely to achieve a greater level of success in the future.
Of course, as someone who’s just starting to take an interest in blogging, you may ask, which are the best platforms to help me start my own blog for free. Let’s take a closer look at these 10 amazing options to help you get a better feel for your new blogging lifestyle!
Arguably one of the biggest names in blogging, WordPress.org (which is slightly different than WordPress.com, something that we’ll cover as we dive deeper into both of these options) is an open-source platform that makes it easy to design and launch your own blog. This can be illustrated in the fact that WordPress powers 40 percent of the world wide web.
It’s important to note upfront that WordPress.org is free, but it is a self-hosted platform, which means that you’ll have to pay for your domain name and monthly hosting. Hosting can be as little as $10 a month, so you won’t have to pay too much. However, WordPress.org may be better for bloggers who have already developed a strategy and are ready to dive in (as it’s likely that your monetization methods will be able to cover these charges as you begin to grow your audience). If you’re trying to save money, you’ll want to jump down to our next suggestion for WordPress.com.
As you can see on their website, they have an extremely simple setup process that’s perfect for both beginners and experienced WordPress users (if you choose to test out a free version and shift over to paid options in the future). Just find your ideal web host to get your website up and running, download and install WordPress, and go through their documentation to get a comprehensive overview of how their platform works. With over 55,000 plugins, free, customizable designs, and a seamless user experience, WordPress is one of the top platforms to use for both beginners and experienced blog owners.
WordPress.org: Pros and Cons
So, what makes WordPress so great, and what could potentially be a deterrent for new users? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this platform.
Pros of Using WordPress.org:
- Designed for Non-Technical Users: The biggest barrier to entry for new bloggers is the fact that there are multiple website builders out there that require some technical knowledge in order to get set up. This leaves you with two options: either find free templates to upload to your platform or hire someone who is capable of designing the layout that you envision (which can be very costly and come with a wide variety of issues). Fortunately, WordPress.org is designed to make it easy for anyone of any experience level to get started. With 55,000 plugins, plenty of free templates that are WordPress compatible, customizable designs, and everything you need to get a simple start, you’ll find that WordPress is an excellent platform to use for your blog.
- Offers SEO Support: As a blogger, SEO is one of the most important marketing tactics to learn. Without it, you’ll never be able to drive the traffic that you need to your site in order to increase your DA and monetize it. WordPress makes SEO easy by offering comprehensive plugins that explain the process of optimizing your posts so that they can receive the exposure that you need. Just remember that you will have to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to keyword research and promotion (you can see a list of free keyword research tools here to help you get started).
- Plenty of Optimization Opportunities: The more technical of a website you run, the more difficult it is to introduce new features to your platform. For example, creating a Google AdSense account to begin monetizing your blog is something that any user can do. However, if you were to want to create a membership feature, sell products on your blog, or even accept donations or tips, chances are that you’ll be at a loss of how to achieve this. With WordPress’s extensive collection of plugins, it’s easy to find the functions you need to make money and make for a better experience for your readers.
Cons of Using WordPress.org:
- It’s Not Entirely Free: Most of the options on this list are free, which are perfect for those who are completely new to blogging and don’t want to spend any money until they’re more familiar with the process. Being that WordPress.org is self-hosted, you will have to spend some money to get your blog up and running. This can be a deterrent for some, but it’s also something that you’ll want to consider at some point as hosting is an essential part of the blogging process. If you’re trying to test out blogging with a WordPress domain name, you are going to have an extremely hard time seeing what it’s like getting your content to rank as you don’t own your own blog.
- Learning WordPress Can Take Time: Despite WordPress being a platform that is beginner-friendly, that doesn’t mean that the platform is necessarily going to be easy for beginners to use. Learning WordPress can take time as you become more acquainted with the platform and learn how to create a website that’s responsive and easy to navigate. If you’re not looking to take the time to learn WordPress, you may be better suited for a website builder that has drag-and-drop functionality and is easier to set up.
- You’re Largely on Your Own When It Comes to Running Your Website: Once your website is set up, you’re on your own when it comes to maintenance, which can be very difficult as you’re trying to make changes that could prove problematic should certain plugins or designs not work together. They do have support, but sometimes programmers who are offering support are doing as much guesswork as you are. Put simply, running a blog can be exciting but it can also be quite frustrating. Keep this in mind when you are using WordPress for your blogging needs.
WordPress is one of the biggest and best platforms for starting your own blog. If you wish to start a blog and anticipate taking it very seriously, consider getting WordPress for free, paying for hosting, and getting started on your blog right away!
WordPress.com is very similar to WordPress.org, with the exception that you can take advantage of their limited free plan instead of having to host your own website. This free plan is often utilized by those who are very new to the concept of having a blog and want to try things out for themselves. Fortunately, we’ve learned quite a bit about WordPress in our previous section, so the only major items we will need to cover in regards to WordPress.com is the pros and cons of using their free plan!
WordPress.com: Pros and Cons
Pros of Using WordPress.com:
- You Can Test Out WordPress Before Fully Committing: Making a commitment to a platform before you’ve had time to test it out and see whether or not you like its functionality is a big ask for many new bloggers. Fortunately, WordPress.com’s free plan gives you the ability to do just that so you’re not joining anything you’re not comfortable with using. Then, when you’re ready to make the leap, you can upgrade to start getting the functionality you need to truly build a blog.
- WordPress Manages Your Technical Website Needs: Unlike the open-source alternative, WordPress.com actually deals with things like updates and backups, which can be a major relief for non-technical users who were concerned about losing part of their website due to being unable to conduct these actions.
Cons of Using WordPress.com:
- WordPress.com Is Not a Free Platform Like WordPress.org: WordPress.org is open-source, which means that the software is made free for everyone. WordPress.com, on the other hand, only offers a free plan. After that, you will need to purchase a monthly or annual subscription to their service to actually run your blog. Fortunately, WordPress is very affordable, and plans run from $4 a month for a personal plan to $45 a month for an e-commerce platform. When it comes to running a blog, these prices are very user-friendly and should pay for itself once you start monetizing your hard work.
- WordPress.com Is VERY Limited: When we say that WordPress.com offers a free limited plan, we mean very limited. If you want to try the free plan, you can expect to encounter drawbacks such as a 3GB storage limit, free ads placed on your website by WordPress.com (without the ability to add Google AdSense until you’ve upgraded), no ability to upload plugins but only use those offered to you by WordPress, only select free template options to choose from when you first get started, and no ability to download Google Analytics to see your stats. Put simply, WordPress.com is a limited website builder for those using the free plans and the desirable aspects can only be unlocked with a paid subscription plan.
- Your Domain Name Is Branded, Not Your Own: Free blog options like the free plan on WordPress.com are great for learning how to build your own blog but not much else. Being that it’s free, your website is given a “wordpress.com” ending as you don’t own your own domain without paying for it. This means if you’re writing with the purpose of ranking or trying to get your brand off the ground, you’re going to have an extremely hard time doing it with a branded domain until you upgrade your blog. If you just want to test out WordPress.com, the free plan is great. If you really want to see whether or not you can make money blogging, testing the waters with the free plan is not possible and you may want to consider other options or buy a domain name immediately.
- You Are At The Mercy of Their Actions: The issues that come with not owning your blog don’t just stop at limited functionality. WordPress also has full say over whether or not they deem your blog and its content appropriate in regards to its terms of service. If it believes that you’ve violated any of these points, they have the right to delete your website completely. This is another reason why using WordPress.com can be a major drawback for those who want complete control over their blog.
WordPress.org offers an open-source solution to those who want to start a blog seamlessly while WordPress.com offers a free limited plan where users can test out WordPress before they move onto a paid plan with greater functionality. However, is WordPress.com worth it for bloggers diving into their own blogging journey? If you’re a prospective blogger who’s just looking to write and see what building a blog will look like, then a free WordPress.com plan may be just what you need to get off to the right start.
However, if you want to test the waters with something more so that you can see what your digital marketing skills are really made of, you’ll find that the branded domain name, extremely limited functionality, and bare-bones design elements can be a major drawback. Consider looking into other options if you fall in the latter category or start off with a cheap WordPress.com plan so that you have more of the features that you need to build a better website for your needs.
If you’ve had a Google account in the past, you likely heard about Blogger. Blogger is a free blogging platform offered by Google that was relatively popular in previous years but not so much today. Given that many of Google’s features are geared towards connection, Blogger is a great way to develop a personal blog that you can use to keep friends and family updated on your life without spending the big bucks on a blog that you’re not running for fun.
Starting your own blog on Blogger is easy. Just create an account, work on developing your blog with the many free templates and designs that Google provides for you, and start working on your first blog posts with a seamless story builder. If you want to get your blog set up fast and with minimal issues, Blogger is an excellent blogging platform to consider starting with.
Blogger: Pros and Cons
Pros of Using Blogger:
- Quick and Easy Setup: Blogger is especially easy to sign up for, especially if you already have an existing Google account that you wish to link to your new blog. Once you’ve signed up, website creation and blog writing and publishing is just as simple. If you’ve wanted to use a platform that is designed for beginners, you’ll find Blogger to be one of the easiest websites on this list.
- Plenty of Free Designs to Choose From: Design can often be the most stressful part of blogging for new users. Fortunately, Blogger comes with a host of free designs and templates that you can tap into to make your blog in a matter of minutes. Tired of having to scour websites for free templates? Blogger makes it easy to design your blog faster so that you can start writing immediately.
- Perfect for the Non-Technical User: With Blogger, you don’t have to worry about doing any coding in order to get the functionality that you need out of your website. This platform is designed for easy blog creation and writing. Of course, these features come with a cost as we’ll discuss when we evaluate the disadvantages of using Blogger for your blog.
- Managed By Google: Google Analytics and Google AdSense are two major tools that are used by bloggers everywhere given that Google is the top search engine that you’ll be looking to rank for in the future. Because Blogger is a Google service, Google AdSense is built into your blog so that you can monetize as soon as you have blog posts up.
Cons of Using Blogger:
- Outdated Style: When it comes to most popular blogging platforms, Blogger is one of the most outdated websites, meaning that your blog is going to look like it was built in the early 2000s, which can keep people from taking your blog seriously and going elsewhere for information. Blogger is great for storing memories and personal stories, but not for serious blogging.
- Limited Functionality: Blogger makes it easy to launch your own blog. However, its limited functionality means that growth will likely be stunted should you choose to use Blogger as your main platform rather than testing out blogging with Blogger and moving to a more serious service like WordPress.
- No Telling When Blogger Will Be Shut Down: When you sign up with a service, you want to make sure that the service will be around for as long as your blog is. Because Blogger is so old and outdated, there’s always the risk that it could shut down in the near future, causing you to shift all of your content over to another platform we’ve included here. If this is a risk that you’re not willing to take, Blogger may not be the right platform for you.
- Google Has Control Over Your Content: As per our previous bullet point, springing for a domain name is not advised as you never know when the service may go out. However, developing a blog fully owned by Google gives them control over your site and content. If they believe that your blog contains content that violates their terms of service, they have the right to delete it should they wish to.
When it comes to ease of use, Blogger is arguably one of the best platforms to approach. However, should you wish to go beyond its free templates and designs, you’re going to encounter issues with the limited functionality and features of the platform. Put simply, Blogger can be a great place for those who wish to pursue personal blogging, but if you are going to be taking blogging more seriously in the future, opt for another service.
Wix is one of the most popular website builders out there, and for good reason. This drag-and-drop builder makes it possible for anyone to develop their own site without the need for coding or having to scour the web for free plugins that may or may not be compatible with each other. If you want greater control over the look and feel of your blog without having to rely on finding templates and altering them extensively in order to get the most out of your website is the way to go.
All you have to do to get started is to sign up for an account and enter the website builder. Although Wix is easy to use, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to figuring out how to incorporate all of the features into your website. Take your time to experiment with each feature to create a layout that you’re happy with. Another great thing with Wix is that their free plan covers a bit more than other options like WordPress. But is it right for you? Let’s dive in.
Wix: Pros and Cons
Pros of Using Wix:
- Plenty of Templates and Plugins to Begin With: Wix is one of the easiest website builders to use, and they offer an extensive range of beautiful templates, plugins, and other features that are designed to make creating your first blog a breeze. If you found that many other blogging platforms were limited in their selection of these types of features, you’ll be happy with what Wix has to offer.
- Easy to Transition Into Paid Plans: Starting off with a free blog is the best way to go to become more accustomed to how Wix works. However, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription if you want to actually tap into your blog as a passive income stream. Fortunately, shifting from a free plan to a paid plan is seamless and allows you access to the tools you need to blog professionally in the future.
- Built-in Tools Designed for Blogging Success: Minimalism seems to be the main focus for many website builders these days, but the issue is that minimalistic platforms can often lack the tools that you need to rank your content, not just publish it. Wix focuses on SEO and helps you create alt tags, nofollow links, and SEO titles and meta descriptions so that you get more out of your blogging efforts.
Cons of Using Wix:
- Free Plan Is Still Limiting: The free plan for Wix offers 500MB of storage, 500B bandwidth, and customer support to help you through the process of using Wix to create your first website. However, like many other platforms, this free plan is fairly restrictive in what it allows you to do as you will need to shift over to a paid plan to leverage the platform to your advantage. Keep this in mind when you start using Wix.
- Your Choice to Use Wix Will Make Transitioning to Another Platform More Difficult: Migrating your blog to another blog provider is almost always a difficult process. However, choosing to establish a blog on Wix means having a very difficult time trying to shift your content and website design to a new platform. Unless you plan on using Wix forever, you may want to take a look at other options first and think in terms of the long-term when it comes to managing your blog.
- You Have to Use Their Ads: Wix free plans come integrated with ads that stay on your site until you upgrade to a paid plan. This is just a minor inconvenience and not something that serves as a major disadvantage when it comes to using Wix.
If you want full control over the blog creation experience and don’t want to spend time stringing together a wide variety of templates and plugins to get the job done, Wix is one of the best platforms to turn to for support. Although the free plan can be limiting and using Wix may lock your blog in place for the foreseeable future, it’s still a great website that offers all the features you need to create a stunning and responsive blog.
Coming next on our list is Weebly. Weebly is a close competitor of Wix, making it another alternative that users should consider if they’re looking for a website builder. To best explain Weebly, we think that it’s a mix of Blogger and Wix in regards to the fact that it includes fewer features than Wix, which makes it easy to set up a website in a similar fashion to Blogger (with more appealing design aspects and templates, of course).
That being said, Weebly is geared towards e-commerce as it’s powered by Square. For those focused on monetizing their blog by selling goods through an online store, this can be a major advantage. To get started using Weebly, simply sign up for an account, get the step-by-step guidance you need to start working on your website layout, and start using the simple plugins to create content that will engage your desired audience. With Weebly, creating your first website is simple!
Weebly: Pros and Cons
Pros of Using Weebly:
- Offers a Very Simple Website-Building Experience: Website building for beginners should be easy, not stressful. With Weebly, you still have access to responsive designs but have fewer options so that you can start your blog quickly. If you want a no-nonsense platform that offers an alternative to other website builders, Weebly is an excellent option!
- Plenty of Features in the Free Plan: Weebly’s free plan comes with far more than the average platform, which is a major bonus. With Weebly, you can expect 500MB storage, SEO support, lead capture and contact forms (this is a platform geared towards e-commerce), free SSL security, chat and email support, and a community forum to connect with other Weebly users.
- More Control Over Your Blog Experience: Unlike Wix, Weebly makes it easy to transition between templates to play around with your blog until you find a suitable design that fits your concept. This is an invaluable feature to have as trying to change templates can be difficult on most website builders.
- Low Monthly Subscription Plans: The monthly subscription plans on Weebly are surprisingly low, with a starter account costing $5 per month, a pro account only costing $12 per month, and a business account only costing $25 per month.
Cons of Using Weebly:
- Less Customization and Features Than Wix: Fewer features lend themselves to the advantage that Weebly is easier to use. However, when it comes to building a website yourself, this can be seen as a disadvantage. If you plan on using Weebly, remember that you’ll be limited by their selection.
- Said to Have a Greater Learning Curve Than Wix: Every platform takes time to learn how to use. However, Weebly is said to be a bit more difficult than Wix. Again, take your time to learn the website and play around with the features until you have a simpler time putting a website together.
Having alternative options that you can go to is always great when you’re looking to set up a blog of your own. If Wix wasn’t doing it for you and you want something with a better free plan and a platform that can help you get your blog set up quickly, consider Weebly instead!
When you start looking into platforms that can help you launch your first blog, you’ll be surprised to discover the sheer number of options you have available to you. One of the lesser-known platforms that you may wish to consider using is Joomla.
Joomla, like WordPress.org, is an open-source platform that is entirely free to users. Unlike WordPress.org, however, you can either pay for hosting and a domain name or choose to launch a free site at launch.joomla.org.
Joomla is a bit more difficult to use than other website builders as it does require some technical knowledge to get started. Simply create your account, buy your domain name and hosting or launch a free site through their service, and begin the website creation process. Although Joomla is more like a blank slate in comparison to services like Wix or Weebly, the possibilities are endless when you decide to use Joomla for your blog.
Joomla: Pros and Cons
Pros of Using Joomla:
- Great Platform If You’re Looking to Scale: Open-source software comes with the disadvantage that you have to do a lot of the work yourself. That being said, it also comes with greater potential as the direction of your blog is entirely under control. If you plan on scaling your blog over time into something much larger than it is now, Joomla is an excellent platform for this.
- 100 Percent Free: Paying for hosting and a domain name is something that you’ll inevitably have to do no matter which platform you choose. Fortunately, this open-source software allows you to test out a website through its service rather than having to jump right into purchasing these items as other options like WordPress.org require you to do.
- Perfect for Monetization: Because this is an open-source platform, you’re able to decide how you monetize your blog. Whether you plan on opening an online store or just want to install ads, you’re in control!
Cons of Using Joomla:
- Far More Technical Than Your Average Platform: The downside to many open-source platforms is that you have to be a bit more technical than the average person in order to successfully launch and operate your website. If you don’t already have knowledge of programming or aren’t looking to learn it, this isn’t the platform for you.
- Compatibility Issues With Plugins You Source Are Likely: Some plugins may not be compatible with Joomla and, if you aren’t able to code to fix the problem, you have to find someone who can do it or try to find another plugin for your needs.
Open-source platforms have a greater learning curve but give you full control over your website. If you liked WordPress.org but wanted to see another alternative, consider Joomla for your blogging needs instead!
Insofar, we’ve covered website builders and blogging platforms that can help you set up your own website with the potential to make money in the future. For this recommendation, however, we’re going to take a bit of a different direction and recommend LinkedIn as a way to get started on your blogging journey.
LinkedIn is a professional social media networking site designed to help working professionals expand their network, find job opportunities, and make themselves more visible in their industry and beyond. However, like many other social networking sites, professionals will use LinkedIn as a way to create and distribute content that proves their authority and improves their reputation.
Signing up for LinkedIn is easy. Simply create an account, develop your professional profile (and create your resume), and start working on content that you believe would resonate with those who are following you. It’s that simple.
LinkedIn: Pros and Cons
Pros of Using LinkedIn:
- Completely Free: Unlike other solutions listed in this guide, LinkedIn is 100 percent free to use and to blog through. The only time you can expect to pay is if you decide to upgrade your LinkedIn account for professional purposes.
- Perfect As a Platform to Improve Your Business: Because LinkedIn is business-oriented, it’s the perfect place for you to blog about business topics and attract more attention to your business or yourself as a working professional.
- More Focused on Content Creation: Most social media platforms allow you to write but aren’t focused on providing you with a story builder that can help you create engaging content. Fortunately, LinkedIn’s story builder offers more features to develop real blogs instead of long text posts.
- Easy to Use: With LinkedIn, all you have to do is sign up and start writing. No more worrying about choosing templates or trying to code new plugins into your platform.
Cons of Using LinkedIn:
- Only for Business Professionals: LinkedIn is great for business content but if you want to write anything else, you’re out of luck.
- Little Opportunity for Monetization: LinkedIn may be a place if you’re looking to find leads or sell a digital product that you’ve created. However, you won’t be able to place ads or do anything else that you would be able to on another platform like WordPress. This can be a disadvantage if a true blog is what you want.
- Not a True Blogging Platform: LinkedIn is a social media site, not a true blog. However, using it alone for business purposes or in conjunction with your blog can be a good idea!
Social media sites are great for advertising but not for blogging. However, LinkedIn breaks the mold by offering a story builder that helps business professionals write about whatever’s on their minds. If you are a working professional or business owner looking to blog about business topics and increase their following for more opportunities or leads, LinkedIn is the right platform for your blogging needs.
Sometimes, diving right into the process of creating a website without first knowing what it’s like to blog can feel like the wrong way to get started for some ambitious writers. Fortunately, the platforms that we’ve offered above as a way to get started aren’t the only options you have at your disposal. Some of the best platforms to use to get started if you want to test your writing abilities, as well as your ability to engage your audience, are revenue-sharing websites like Medium.
For these next three recommendations, we are going to focus solely on revenue-sharing websites rather than website builders, starting with Medium as our first entry!
What Is Medium?
Medium is an open publishing platform that allows writers who want to publish their work but don’t have the platform to do so to publish directly on Medium. Medium’s release received a lot of attention for its functionality when it was first introduced. Rather than bogging down your dashboard and writing space as many other revenue-sharing sites will often do, Medium is very minimalistic, providing you with a blank space to write down your thoughts. If you’re someone who generally struggles to get writing because of the sheer number of features floating around your dashboard as you write, Medium may be the best open-publishing platform to consider using when you first start your foray into blogging.
Medium: At a Glance
Whether you’re somewhat familiar with blogging or are completely new, Medium is a website that is accommodating for writers at any stage in their journey. All you have to do to get started with Medium is to sign up for an account. Once you have your account, account name, profile picture, and profile set up for any visitors who you may attract in the future, you’re ready to start writing.
You can begin working on your first story by clicking on your photo in the top right corner of the website, clicking on “Write a Story”, and going to the story builder. The story builder is very basic, which can be both exciting and jarring when you first see it. You’ll notice that there’s a place where you can write out your title as well as a space where you can work on the body of your post. If you click on the plus sign located on the left of the screen next to your cursor or highlight text, you’ll unlock more features like headings, bold, italics, images, videos, and more.
If you’re simply looking to write, you can then click publish, identify the tags that you want to use to help increase visibility for your story, and share it on social media with your friends, family, and fans. If you’re looking to make money with your work, you can enroll in the Medium Partner Program for free. All you need to do is create a Stripe Account to connect to your Medium account and you’re ready to receive payouts based on your engagement!
If you’re looking to dive deeper into SEO and optimize your piece further to try to improve its engagement, click on the three dots at the top right of the screen while you’re in the story builder to reveal more settings that you can use while writing. These settings include the ability to pin your story to the top of your profile, create SEO titles and meta descriptions for your work, send a link to your friends so your friends can read your stories for free, and more.
Put simply, Medium is a comprehensive open-publishing platform that is very easy to navigate and desirable to use.
Medium: Pros and Cons
While open-publishing, revenue-sharing platforms can work amazingly for one person, they can be very inefficient for another, which is why it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using a platform before you decide to fully commit to it. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of using Medium over similar websites?
Pros of Using Medium:
- Strong Following: Medium is a very popular platform, which is very important if you’re looking to write for an open-publishing site and make money in the process. With its existing fans that use the platform frequently and those who will be willing to read your work when you share it outside of the platform, you should be able to find the engagement that you’re looking for.
- Simple, Transparent Dashboard: Many revenue-sharing sites have outdated interfaces that make navigating the site and diving deeper into your work near impossible to do comfortably. With Medium, all you have to do is log in, write without distraction, and publish once you’re ready. If you don’t like other revenue-sharing sites that are far too difficult to use, this is a major advantage.
- Easy Payout Process and No Minimum: One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to get paid with revenue-sharing sites is that they often have a minimum payout threshold. If you’re struggling to get the engagement you want, this means not being able to see your money until you manage to reach that minimum. With Medium, all you have to do is connect your Stripe account and they will pay out regardless of whether you earn a couple of cents or a couple hundred dollars.
- Medium Has a Very High Domain Authority: Working with a revenue-sharing site that has a low DA score makes it difficult for you to make your own content visible when testing out SEO strategies for yourself. Fortunately, Medium has an impressive DA of 96, making it so that getting your content seen is far easier than it would be on other open-publishing platforms.
Cons of Using Medium:
- Membership Limits Earning Opportunities: Medium is able to pay you because of their membership program. Members who pay the $5 a month to read paid content on Medium are able to read unlimited stories. However, those who only have a free account can only read free content or up to three paid stories. Because Medium isn’t a major publication, this can be a deterrent for some users, and you rely on individuals who pay memberships and engage with your content. Unless you are able to bring numerous individuals willing to pay money to read your content to the platform, getting paid won’t be that easy.
- You’re At Medium’s Mercy: Running your own blog comes with a great deal of responsibility, but it also comes with full control over your writing and creative aesthetic. Should Medium choose to change any aspect of their service, you have to comply and deal with these changes whether you like them or not. If a change occurs that does not work in your favor, you may end up having to leave the platform altogether.
- There’s No True Way to Test the Quality of Your Content: Using Medium as a way to venture into blogging is risky because there’s no way to truly test whether or not the quality of your content is good or if it will attract and resonate with the audience you’re looking to connect to. Without full control over your posts or way to be visible without Medium’s help, there’s a lot of guesswork involved.
Medium is a great way to learn what blogging looks like and to see whether or not it’s right for you (while getting paid a little for your work in the process). However, it may not be the right platform for those who want full creative control over their writing or desire to dive straight into the experience of owning their own website and marketing it too.
Vocal is another open-publishing, revenue-sharing site that is much newer than Medium but still seems to be going strong. If you’re looking to test out multiple sites similar to Medium to see what these types of platforms have to offer, Vocal may be your next best bet. But is it worth it, and does it hold as much appeal to authors as Medium does?
Vocal: At a Glance
While it’s not as stripped down as Medium, Vocal still provides users with a minimalistic dashboard that they can use to write their stories. All you have to do to get started with Vocal is to create your account, set up your Stripe wallet (if you’re looking to get paid for your work), and set up your profile. Once your profile has been established, navigate to the top right corner and click on “Create Story”.
The great thing about Vocal is that they provide you with their guidelines and expectations upon going to create a story so you know exactly what they’re looking for. Unlike Medium where anyone can publish an article, your work on Vocal does go through an evaluation process (even though it may not be as comprehensive as it should be at times). Once you’ve agreed to the rules, you’ll find yourself at your dashboard, where you can add your title and subtitle, relevant images, and begin writing and formatting your content.
Once you’re ready, hit publish and wait for the Vocal team to go through your content to do a quality check. Once it’s live, you’re ready to share it! Earnings are a bit different on Vocal than they are on Medium as Vocal calculates your earnings by views (although, again, there’s no true clarity on what constitutes a view). If you get a high number of views, you can earn some money and eventually reach their $35 threshold.
Looking to make more? One unique aspect of this website is that they offer memberships for their writers rather than their readers. With Vocal+, which costs $9.99 a month, they promise to double your earnings for views, grant you access to writing competitions with thousands of dollars in prizes, and make your time at Vocal more lucrative. We’ll dive into this a bit later in the pros and cons section.
Vocal: Pros and Cons
Pros of Using Vocal:
- Ease-of-Use: As it is with Medium, Vocal is easy to sign up for and set up your payment account with. They offer a relatively minimalistic dashboard so that you aren’t bogged down in features that make it difficult to focus on your writing. If you want to keep the minimalist style, Vocal is another great website that achieves this.
- Payment By Views: Medium’s system of paying authors by claps can be messy and unfulfilling, making it difficult to write for Medium to get paid. Although Vocal does not specify what constitutes a view, you do get paid by who sees your article, which is a much better system of doing things for most writers who put their effort into the work they create.
- You Can Get Tipped for Your Work: Although it’s highly unlikely that many use this feature, Vocal’s platform does feature a tip button so that others can tip you for your work if they find it especially valuable and wish to offer you more than a view or a share. Another benefit that comes with receiving tips is that tips are sent directly from your Stripe account to your bank and there’s no minimum required to transfer them over.
Cons of Using Vocal:
- Low DA Score and Visibility: Medium is a decent open-publishing platform because it has such a strong DA score and following, making it possible for you to earn money when members decide to engage with your content. The problem with Vocal being that it’s new is that it has a much lower DA score, resulting in lower rankings for its content and, therefore, your own content. With lower rankings, this means getting your content seen can be the hardest part of the process if you don’t have the strong social media following you need to rack up views.
- Vocal+ Creators Largely Unhappy With Membership: At first glance, the Vocal+ membership looks like a great idea. After all, it pays you double what you would earn per 1000 views if you had only created a free profile and allows you to access private contests that could potentially earn you thousands of dollars in prize money. What’s important to pay attention to whenever a platform asks for a membership is to see what other writers have said. As you can see online, many writers pay for the membership but still don’t receive the engagement they need to make the most of it, losing money rather than truly increasing their earnings. Additionally, while the contests boast massive winnings, they’re only beneficial if you win, and it’s important to keep in mind that you’re going up against other writers on the platform. Put simply, if you’re going to sign up for Vocal, it’s a much better idea to test it out as a free platform rather than as a paid one. Otherwise, you can end up losing money and having a less-than-ideal experience along the way.
- Payment Threshold Can Prevent You From Getting Access to Your Money: The great thing about Medium’s payment program is that they pay out monthly regardless of how much you earn (yes, this means that you could get a payout for as little as $0.01). This allows you to tap into the money you’ve earned immediately. Vocal, on the other hand, works a bit differently. Vocal has a $35 earning threshold ($20 for Vocal+ members) that you have to meet before you can request a withdrawal. Should you want access to your money or should you be earning very slowly over time, you won’t be able to touch it until you reach that threshold. This can be a major downside for new users who are seeing earnings but not enough traffic to cash out.
- No Transparency About Views: As we’ve already covered, Vocal pays by views rather than by engagement. The issue, however, is that there’s no transparency regarding what is considered to be a view. Instead, writers have to put their trust into the platform when they say that they’ve received a certain amount of views. This can be problematic as you don’t have a full awareness of what you need to do in order to boost your earnings over time.
- No Control Over Posting or Content: The final item that we must touch upon is one that we experience with every open-publishing platform, which is that you have no control over your content or any say with the platform should they decide to change creative direction. Additionally, you have to deal with them should your content be removed or prevented from being posted in the first place. Open-publishing platforms are places to blog, but in the end, they don’t offer the same benefits as owning your own blog would.
Vocal is definitely one great open-publishing platform worth looking into if you want to dip your toes into the world of blogging. However, Vocal is one of the newest revenue-sharing sites and one that comes with many pitfalls for writers who aren’t aware of how the platform works. If Vocal interests you, it’s best to test your writing and social media skills out with a free platform rather than diving right into a Vocal+ membership that may be financially burdensome than beneficial.
Our final recommendation on this list as well as our final revenue-sharing site, HubPages is one of the oldest open-publishing platforms still operating today. Founded in 2006, HubPages allows writers to discuss a wide variety of topics that they’re passionate about and even share them on other verticals owned by HubPages. But is it a website that’s outdated and no longer relevant, or is it still a platform worth blogging on? Let’s take a look to see how HubPages competes with newer platforms like Medium and Vocal.
HubPages: At a Glance
The first thing that will catch your attention with HubPages is that it still maintains some of the older design elements from when it was first created. For new users, this can be a bit jarring as it looks relatively outdated on the back-end. Even when you’re browsing stories on the renovated HubPage category sections, the design is fairly plain and leaves much to be desired. That being said, that alone doesn’t make it a defunct platform.
Once you sign up for HubPages and create a profile, you’re ready to begin writing your first story by clicking on the large orange “Write” button at the top right corner of the website. Before you get started on the piece itself, HubPages will ask you to come up with a title, an article layout (don’t worry, you can format everything later), and an existing topic within their verticals.
When you’ve successfully checked all of these boxes, you’re ready to begin working on the article itself. The great thing about Medium and Vocal is that their story builder is very minimalistic. However, HubPages shows that minimalism isn’t always the way to go. In HubPages’ story builder, you’re able to format your story in a way that appeals most to you. With plenty of extra features and ways to separate your sections and rearrange them so that your article is designed the way you like it, there’s no reason why beginners or experienced bloggers wouldn’t like using the HubPages story builder. Additionally, they provide you with tips and tricks as you’re building your story to ensure that it’s as successful as you would like it to be.
Once you’ve created your article, simply publish it, wait for story approval, and share it on social media.
HubPages: Pros and Cons
Pros of Using HubPages:
- Established Platform With High DA: At first glance, you wouldn’t expect that HubPages would be a platform that would surpass other options like Vocal or Medium. However, HubPages has the same domain score as Medium, making it much more visible than some of your other open-publishing platform options. Additionally, HubPages benefits from the fact that it has been around for far longer than Medium or Vocal. Put simply, HubPages isn’t a bad platform to start on if you’re just starting out.
- Multiple Ways to Earn Through HubPages: Medium pays by engagement while Vocal pays by views. So, how does HubPages pay writers? You’ll be excited to discover that HubPages actually has multiple ways to earn through their platform. The first way to earn is by creating a Google AdSense account so that you can earn money from ads that are placed on your published articles. Signing up is easy. Just make sure that your content is high-quality and that you have enough available articles that Google will take you seriously once you create an account and apply. The second way to earn is through the Amazon affiliate program. With an Amazon affiliate account, you can share URLs directly from Amazon and, should any reader click on the product to buy it, earn a bit of the revenue in the process. Placing these types of products on your articles can be tricky if you don’t do it the right way, so make sure to read up on the HubPages guidelines so that you don’t get your affiliate hubs removed for any reason you were unaware of. Finally, HubPages will also host contests that can provide you with cash prizes (no membership needed to engage with these). Should you be able to rack up the views and the clicks, you may just make money on HubPages!
- Multiple Verticals to Be Published on: If you navigate the HubPages website, you’ll see that there are multiple topics to choose from that you will likely be writing about in the future. Beyond these main topics, however, HubPages will choose top-tier articles to share on their sister sites, which may bring you even more views and ad revenue along the way. Some of the sister sites that they have include PetHelpful, ToughNickel, and CalorieBee, just to name a few. Once you have an account, you can see this full list of sister sites on your feed and even request that HubPages review your content to see if it’s a good fit for that website.
- Comprehensive Story Builder With Feedback: A minimalistic story builder is great for individuals who have a hard time writing when there are too many features surrounding the main content window. However, minimalism can have one drawback, and that is the fact that you’re unable to truly personalize it in the way you see fit. Whether you want to add a quiz or a poll, YouTube videos, or other types of items to your content, you have a full range of options on HubPages. If it’s your first time writing with the platform and you want to make sure that you’re on the right track towards getting your content approved, they give you all the guidelines and support you need upfront to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to succeed as a HubPages writer. Overall, this can be very beneficial to those who are just getting into blogging.
- Less Focused Content Requirements: In order to thrive on a platform like Medium, you really have to focus on content that falls in line with other popular stories being published. With HubPages, you have the ability to write about any topic you’re passionate about and may just see it thrive as a result. If you’re focused on writing about something that doesn’t have a huge following on other platforms, HubPages may have a home for your content.
Cons of Using HubPages:
- High Payment Threshold: The one downside to HubPages is that it does have a much higher payment threshold. In order to receive a payout, you will have to make at least $50 with the platform, which can take a considerable amount of time for new users, even when they’re leveraging both the Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliate programs to their advantage. Additionally, HubPages uses PayPal rather than Stripe, which can result in transfer fees as well as the fact that they don’t directly deposit money into your bank when you receive a payout. Keep this in mind when you sign up with HubPages.
- Spammy Website Design: If you’ve been brushing up on your SEO, you know that design plays a major role in whether or not your website is well-received. While HubPages isn’t the worst-looking website, it is certainly much more spammy-looking than other open-publishing platforms. Because it’s an open-publishing platform, this means that many readers may be unwilling to click on your links as they may see it as a platform that’s not authoritative rather than one that should be trusted. All of these factors can go against you if you’re looking to write with the intent to earn money rather than to write solely for the community.
Is HubPages the best-looking open-publishing platform? When you have other options like Vocal and Medium, you may find yourself being more interested in these as they have a more aesthetically pleasing user interface. That being said, HubPages does have the authority and the content builder that new bloggers may be looking for if revenue-sharing is the right starter path for them. No matter which platform calls out most to you, you can always try them all to see which one you have the best experience with.
Launch Your Own Blog Today!
Starting a blog is a lot more work than many anticipate. However, getting started is as simple as learning more about the blogging process. If you’re ready to start your first blog, use the guide above to dive deeper and discover 10 excellent free blogging platforms that you can use today!