Can I Start a Blog for Free (and Make Money)?

July 9, 2020

It’s a common question: Can I start a blog for free? The information online isn’t always clear so let me be completely straightforward.

Yes, you can start a blog for free. However, if you want to make money blogging, it is not recommended. Why? There are several reasons, along with a simple solution.

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Type in “start a blog for free” into Google and you’ll get something like this:

Looks so simple, right? As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. It’s important to understand the fine print.

A free blog like Wix (as linked in the screenshot above) is a good choice if you intend your blog to be a hobby. But do you hope to make money eventually? Then you’ll need more. The good news is, it’s not a lot more, but we’ll get to that.

Let’s dig a little deeper first.

Here’s a chart from Wix comparing their Free vs. Premium features:

source

Notice the 3 items I circled. They will hamper your success if you want to make money. On Wix’s free plan:

  • You can’t use your own domain name. You have to use the one assigned. That’s not very professional and readers won’t take you seriously. Plus, it’s cumbersome to communicate. If I’m in a conversation, I’d much rather say, “My website is AmyLynnAndrews dot com” instead of “AmyLynnAndrews dot wixsite dot com.”
  • Wix puts their ads on your site. That’s definitely not advantageous for you! That’s them making money. Plus, if you do have any money-making elements on your site, you have to compete with Wix!
  • You can’t install Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides huge amounts of information about your traffic, what pages your readers are visiting, where your readers are coming from and so much more. Analytics are a must-have for any site making money.

I’m not just picking on Wix here. You’ll run into the same types of problems with any free blog service you use.

6 more reasons not to start a free blog if you want to make money

  1. Limited money-making capability. Some free services limit the money you can make unless you “upgrade” to a higher level. You’ll have to pay for that upgrade of course, which defeats the purpose of having a free blog in the first place.
  2. Lack of control. When you build your blog on a free platform, it’s like building your house on rented land. If the landowner decides they don’t like your house or they want to use the land for something else, you are at their mercy. After all, they own the land. They call the shots. Don’t put your livelihood in someone else’s hands!
  3. Lack of support. Companies don’t offer free blogs out of the goodness of their hearts. They want to make money. If you’re not making them money, they won’t go out of their way to keep you happy. Sometimes this means you’ll have little to no support. Other times you’ll be badgered with offers for their paid-for products. Or, in the case above, they’ll shamelessly put their ads directly on your site.
  4. Only basic features. Basic features might not be a problem at first, but as you grow, you’ll feel the pinch. Expandability and flexibility are key. Both are limited with free blogging services.
  5. Switching isn’t easy. If you want to switch to a better service later (common for those who start a free blog), it’s a hassle and can be costly. Doing it yourself takes a lot of time and know-how. Hiring someone to do it correctly costs hundreds of dollars. Plus, you’ll have to learn and entirely new platform.
  6. You can’t use others for inspiration. This happens to new bloggers all the time. They start a blog for free. Soon they notice cool features on other blogs they want too. The problem is, those features aren’t options on their free service.

A much better option (and almost free)

When someone asks if a free blog is possible, it’s usually because they have a limited budget. I understand this completely. When I started blogging in 2004, my family was in a very tight financial situation. I was blogging to make extra money, not spend it!

Despite what you hear from many “gurus,” you do not need a lot of money to start a blog.

Here’s how to start a blog on a budget. A good blog, built on the best platform, used by big and small bloggers alike. Start small and lean. Add as you go. Click here to read my complete step-by-step tutorial.

The best free blogs

If you’ve gotten this far and the common problems I mentioned above don’t convince you, or a free blog is truly your only choice, you do have options.

Just be aware of the tradeoffs.

In my opinion, the best free service to start a blog in your own space is Blogger. It’s a bit clunky, you can’t have your own domain without paying, and the features are limited, but it (mostly) doesn’t interfere with your money-making options. As much as the others anyway.

A second option is Medium. You won’t have your own blog. You’ll be one of many bloggers all writing on the Medium website. But, making money on Medium is still possible.

Conclusion

A free blog is attractive, but I would highly encourage you to think twice if you intend to make money blogging.

I have never met someone who regretted spending a very tiny amount of money to get started on the right foot. I can’t overstate how glad you will be down the road.

Don’t let money stop you. My blogging budget was about $100 per year for many years. It’s completely doable. Don’t forget to read my step-by-step guide for beginners. It’s easier, faster and cheaper than you think!

2 thoughts on “Can I Start a Blog for Free (and Make Money)?”

  1. Hey amy, I have a question about the design of the blog using wordpress and elementor. I now have only 5 pages : Home, Blog, Contact, About and Privacy policy. I am just starting, so I customize everything myself. Should I use a template for my pages ? should I customize them from scratch ? I can’t afford a designer for the moment. Also which one is better: elementor or gutenberg ? Thanks in advance

  2. Hi Amy,

    I started my first blog on the blogger platform. And I earned some AdSense money with that. Later I bought a custom domain. A few years later I completely moved the blog to self-hosted WordPress. Now I have two blogs on the self-hosted WordPress platform.
    So, It’s not bad for a new blogger to start a blog on a free platform to learn the nitty-gritty of blogging. But it takes some works to transfer the blog from free platform to paid platform. And a lot of things need to be started again.
    That’s why, as you said, it’s better to start blogging on the self-hosted platform. Although it takes some money to invest, but it’ll reduce many hassles late.
    Thanks for sharing your nice observation. It’ll help many bloggers to take the right decision to start their blogging journey.

    -Liton

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