When you want to start a blog your first thought might be... which free blogging site should I use?
It makes sense. You want to start as cheaply as possible and free definitely comes under that bracket. But, have you really thought this through?
There are definitely times when using a free blogging site can be the right decision to make, however it's best to really think about the following questions before you sign up and start adding your content.
Please note that I've used web hosting and WordPress hosting interchangeably. Many web host providers offer web hosting specifically for WordPress and therefore call it... WordPress hosting. Pretty simple really!
Now we've got that little detail out of the way, let's get started...
Is your new blog or website for your business?
If the answer is yes, then you should definitely invest in your own web hosting because simply... it gives a more professional impression. Even if you have a very limited budget, web hosting is one thing you need to invest in, there are plenty other ways to cut costs when building your website, but hosting isn't one of them.
You can get WordPress hosting from Bluehost.com starting at £3.25/$3.95 per month. With Bluehost they will automatically install WordPress for you, just answer a few quick questions after you sign up and hey presto, your site will be created for you! Click here to go to Bluehost.
Don't worry, once WordPress is installed I won't leave you hanging with a dazed look in your eyes as you wonder what to do next.
Do you want to make money with your blog?
If you're not ready to start a business, however making a little extra money on the side (a.k.a side hustle) from your blog sounds like something you'd be interested in, again, you should invest in your own web hosting.
Why, if it's technically still a hobby should I pay for hosting?
Because of control and ownership.
Imagine you spend weeks, months or even years adding content to a third-party free blogging platform and they decide to shut down your blog.
Argh! Yes, it can happen if for some unknown reason you break one of their terms and conditions, or several people complain about your blog to the platform support team.
If you see potential for a long-term relationship with your new blog then get your own hosting. Here's the Bluehost link again.
Is there any reason you'd recommend using a free blogging site?
Yes, if you want to start one just for fun and you're not sure whether or not you'll continue with it long-term.
There's no point buying web hosting if you're not sure whether you are going to stick with something or not, and you're not that passionate about it.
Another reason would be... you just want to share your knowledge and have fun doing it... without any pressure for your blog to do well.
With most free platforms there are plugins/extensions you can use to add Google Adsense (Google's advertising platform) to make money on your blog (the amount depends on the amount of website visitors you receive), or you could add affiliates links to your content. Always check the platforms terms and conditions to ensure they allow this (with your own blog you don't have this issue!)
If you do decide to use a free platform and plan on promoting your blog (as you do) then having your own domain name is a must. It gives you the option to have your own blog later on and not have to change any of the links you've previously posted on social media and other places. So as a reminder... ALWAYS PURCHASE YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME
Often you can get a domain for 99p/99c for the first year. Check out Namecheap for great domain name offers and they come with free WhoIsGuard privacy for your domain (internet users can't find your details through your purchase details).
Want to know more about domain names? Check out the 'What is a Domain Name' post.