How to Start a Blog for Free
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One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that to enjoy great things in life, they need to invest a significant amount of money. With some things, like blogging, nothing could be further from the truth. As you are about to discover, there are viable options for starting a blog without any financial investment.
With the right platform, an interesting topic, some creative writing and a desire to succeed, you can start a blog for free. While there are several steps involved, each one is easy to complete. Before you know it, you will have a live blog that attracts your target audience.
Why You Should Blog
Blogging gives you a chance to not only connect with people but also market your brand. Blogs have become a powerful tool for communicating and spreading the word about companies, products, services, information, news and anything else relating to a specific brand.
For example, if you sell fishing poles, artificial bait, lines and other fishing products online, you could blog about a recent fishing trip. Describe the equipment you used which, of course, would be something you sell.
Then, as mentioned, you can also blog about news in respect to fishing, perhaps a story about someone who recently caught the largest shark or catfish.
Although there are millions of blogs online, you can still have an impact on your audience, helping your company stand out. Through blogging, you can express your opinions. You can even incorporate photos and videos.
If you are a novice writer, this is an excellent way to hone your craft. The best part is that even without spending any money, your blogs will generate revenue if done correctly.
Keep in mind that when you first enter the world of blogging, there is a learning curve. Typically, it takes newbies at least 30 minutes to write a short blog article.
However, as you move forward and gain experience, you can start churning them out in 15 minutes or so, sometimes even less, depending on the topic.
Step 1 – Choose a Blogging Platform
As you will see, you can start a blog for free using easy-to-follow steps. You don’t need any coding skills, and very little technical ability is required.
The first step is to select an excellent platform, which is the site you use to build your blog. Among the many different options, most bloggers agree that WordPress is the most straightforward and easiest to learn. This platform also produces professional results.
When you look at the 10 best platforms, more than 50 percent of bloggers prefer WordPress over others, although both Tumblr and Blogger are also worthy contenders.
The following will give you an idea why you should consider WordPress as your first option:
- WordPress is the largest and most trusted of all blogging platforms.
- This site has a small learning curve.
- It offers an abundance of add-ons and plugins that give you incredible options for the layout and design of your blog.
- You can choose WordPress with or without hosting.
- It has an almost unlimited number of free layouts and themes.
- You can create a blog quickly.
- The finished blogs look professional.
- You can share your blog.
- WordPress has a fantastic support forum, if needed.
- Other people can interact with you and comment on your blogs.
Step 2 – Select a Hosting Service
For hosting, you have two options: hosted and non-hosted. Remember, if you decide to use WordPress, Tumblr or Blogger to create your blogs, you can use their hosting services.
Otherwise, you would can a different hosting service in exchange for a nominal fee, usually no more than $10 a month.
While a free hosting service might initially sound like an excellent idea, there are a few things to consider. After all, this step is perhaps the most important when you start blogging.
- Rather than own your domain, it belongs to the hosting service. Also, you will end up with a short URL associated with the blogging platform. For example, with WordPress, you would have a domain like yourblog.wordpress.com. Tumblr would give you a domain name like yourblog.tumblr.com, and, for Blogger, it would be yourblog.blogspot.com. While free, these domain names are not overly impressive.
- When creating a blog using the three top platforms, there is no way to fully monetize it without paying to use their hosting. The reason is that you have limitations as to what you can upload, including photos and videos. Probably the biggest obstacle is that with WordPress, not using their hosting service blocks your access to all the incredible free themes.
- Because your domain resides on a web property belonging to someone else, you do not own it. That creates a risk in that the company that owns it can delete your domain whenever wanted and for no reason. If that happens, you would probably lose all the blogs you wrote and posted. Even if you have a backup copy, which you should, you would have to start over to put them online on a new domain.
A better option is to self-host. With this, you are the actual owner of the domain, which gives you the freedom to name it whatever you want. Along with a .com extension, you can select .org, .net, and even other country web suffixes.
As a bonus, you have unlimited bandwidth, giving you full reign to post photos, videos and your blog content. Self-hosting also gives you access to the vast number of free themes.
Step 3 – Select a Topic
When choosing topics for your blog, try to get into the minds of your current and potential customers. Think about things they would find interesting and useful. Remember to relate your blogs to your brand or industry news.
Regardless what you write about, it is imperative to blog on a level that anyone can understand. That means you want to avoid using overly academic or technical language, instead opting for a conversational piece.
It is also essential that you create topics that you feel passionate about, thus making the writing aspect easier. Some of the most influential blogs start with “How to…” and “Tips for…”
As an example, you could create a blog for a fishing company that walks readers through each step of putting live bait on a hook. For this, you could title your blog, “How to Hook Live Bait.”
Another possibility is a blog on replacing an existing line with something that has more weight. For this, you could title your blog, “Tips for Adding Heavier Weight Line to Your Fishing Pole.” To make your blog stand out, you will want to add photos and a video.
Keep the content light, readable, fun and informative. As mentioned earlier, you want to publish new content at least once a week. If you publish new content frequently, the likelihood of your target audience returning to your site increases.
This same rule applies no matter what you sell. Also, look at the topics posted by your competitors. That way, you can come up with something different, yet powerful.
Step 4 – Start Your Blog
The next step is to start your blog. Although you have different options for blogging platforms and hosting, WordPress combined with self-hosting is the best way to go. You first need to install WordPress on your website. From there, you would type in your domain name, such as www.yourblogname.com.
Then, to gain access to the WordPress backend where you build your blog, add /wp-admin to that extension. The entire URL would be something like: www.yourblog.com/wp-admin.
Before trying to post a blog, spend some time on the site becoming familiar with the layout and various features. At first, it might seem confusing and even overwhelming, but once you post a few blogs, you will get the hang of it.
Although there are more steps involved than those listed, the following represent a few examples of the actions required:
- After logging into the admin side of your blog domain, click on “New” in the upper left-hand corner, and then select “Post.” That will open a formatted page on which you add information including your blog content, videos, images, tag words and so on. In the designated areas for the title and body, you can either create the blog on the site or use MS Word or another word processing program, from which you copy and paste. For maintaining a copy of your blogs, use a word processing program.
- Once you have your content in place, you can add photos. For this, have images already saved on your computer. To make this step easy, it would help to have a folder for each blog article you write. That way, you will have your text document and images together. Click in white space under a sentence or paragraph where you want to insert a photo. Then, just above the title, you will see “Add Media.” By clicking on that, a separate page will open. Go to the “Add Media” button toward the upper left-hand corner. In the center of that page, select the “Upload” option. You then select the images from your computer folder. When adding a photo to your blog, make sure you have a blue checkmark on the correct image. Then choose the “Add” option in the bottom right-hand corner. Just like that, you inserted a picture on your blog. Directly above it, you will see coding that includes two quotation marks. Between the first set, you would add the source of the photo, such as a YouTube screenshot, person’s name, Facebook page, and so on. Between the second set of quotes, insert the URL address for that particular photo.
- You can add a caption to your blog to help it grab attention. Roughly halfway down on the same page, you will see a “caption” box where you enter that content.
- To share your blog on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites, scroll down the page to the “Social” section. By clicking on the word “Social,” the formatting for that area changes. Next, write or copy and paste the title that you want to use for the different social media sites in the appropriate box. Do the same for the description. You can also upload a photo from the folder on your computer.
- After filling in all the fields, you would go to the upper right-hand corner and either “Preview” it, so that you can see what the blog will look like once live, or “Submit for Review,” when ready to launch. As the Admin, you will approve the final copy. There is also a “Draft” option if you are not ready to post the blog.
Step 5 – Design Your Blog
Before you “Submit for Approval,” you will need to design your blog. For this, you can select from an impressive inventory of themes. When using WordPress, you have two possibilities.
The first is to go to “Appearance,” “Themes,” and “Install a free WordPress theme.” The second is to choose “Premium Themes” under the “Appearance” category. For that, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $40 per theme.
Remember, if you want to start a blog for free, there is no reason to visit the premium area, considering there are endless options at no charge. When selecting a theme for your blog, make sure it is relevant to your brand and the topic of the blog.
Using the fishing example, a river or lake theme is ideal. If for any reason you decide you want something different, you can go through the same process without the fear of losing any of the content, photos or videos.
Just like your blog’s content, you want its theme to connect with people. A lot of people are visual, so the appropriate theme will enhance and reinforce your words. Also, this will help people remember your company, product or service.
Use Blogging Resources
Even if you have blogged for some time and have a significant amount of experience on social media sites, there is always room to learn and grow. After all, trends change, Google modifies its algorithms and a host of other things happen that would require you to adjust your blogs.
Periodically, take time out to read new articles about blogging, as well as the blog platform you use. That way, you always stay on top of vital information.
Blogging is an excellent way to stay ahead of the competition, which is why so many large corporations have blogs. However, it also gives startups and smaller companies a way to reach a targeted audience without increasing their budget too much. Regardless of the size or industry of your company, blogging is a vital tool that you do not want to overlook.
With blogging, you will see your company grow and thrive. Best of all, you will notice results in very little time. For zero money, blogging will take your business to a new level of success.
To light a fire under you or your marketing team, consider some of the primary benefits that go along with blogging:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engines, especially Google, love fresh content. By consistently blogging, meaning you post at least once a week, search engines will index your site more often, which in turn enhances your SEO efforts.
Instead of blogs going out to random people with no interest in what you offer, well-written and well-designed blogs will reach your target audience. The result is an increase in conversions.
Blogs will help boost your search engine results page (SERP) rankings, which means your blog site will slowly make its way to the first page. It will become more visible, increasing the volume of traffic to your site.
Through blogging, you can connect with both existing customers and prospects, giving you the chance to build long-term relationships. That makes people feel important, which leads to loyalty.
The more loyal your customers are, the more they will continue buying from you and telling other people about your incredible brand. To accomplish this, invite people to post feedback and comments, to which you respond. While it might take a little time to reply to everything, it is essential.
That way, you build rapport that turns into trust. Input from your audience also allows you to gain insight into what they like, do not care for, and would like to see from you in the future.
Authority and Leadership
With regularly posted blogs that people find interesting, useful, informative, and even entertaining, you become an authority on your brand. People will also begin to see your business as an industry leader.
With problem-solving blogs that are fun to read, you quickly gain credibility that leads to more customer conversions.
Although the primary goal of blogging is to increase brand awareness, there is a side benefit to this. Because blogs are more informal than articles and written in a conversational tone, you connect better with people than when using many of the traditional marketing strategies.
With blogging, you can show people a more personal side of your business. For a fishing blog, you could share a story of how the CEO of your company slipped on rocks and fell into the icy cold water, using a photo to support the content.
Not only will your site visitors get a kick out of the story, but many of them will relate because of having the same experience. Immediately, your blog creates a connection.
When you post blogs, you create an opportunity for your audience to share them. By offering visitors compelling and original content, they will gladly spread the word about your blog via email, tweet or link.
When you think about how fierce online competition has become, you realize that you need creative solutions to market your brand. That does not mean doing away with more conventional methods but simply adding blogs your arsenal of marketing tools.
What it comes down to is that blogs accomplish many things. From increasing site traffic to fostering relationships, they help grow your business.
If you have never blogged before, you can always dive in to see what you can do, take a blogging course, or spend time looking at blogs your competitors posted.
Just because you can start a blog for free does not mean it will go nowhere. In fact, you can expect the opposite. Think about topics that your audience wants to hear about and then enjoy the ride, as well as the success that follows.