Completely free blogging systems are an easy way to start blogging. You sign up to one of the free blogging services, Blogger or WordPress, (there are others but these two are by far the most well known), fill in a few details and within minutes you are typing up your first blog post.
Advantages of free blogging
No cost: The primary advantage to this option is that there is no cost involved. This is a great way to start blogging because you can try it out to find if it is something you will truly enjoy.
Very quick to start: You can sign up and be writing your first post within minutes.
No technology skills needed: You do not have to worry about backups, upgrades or any other technical problem.
You can try out blogging without any risk: If you find that blogging is something that’s fun for a couple of weeks and then becomes something you do not enjoy then you have not wasted any money, ou are not committed to any contract with a hosting company and you do not have the responsibility to dispose of the domain.
If you become an avid blogger, you can easily export your content to your own domain and hosted website in the future.
Name of blog: The first big disadvantage is that your blog will be a subdomain of the free blog service. If I had set up blogbasics as a free service it would have the domain name of http://blogbasics.wordpress.com or http://blogbasics.blogger.com which is not as stylist as just have the domain http://blogbasics.com
Features: Free services are often more constrained than if you controlled your own domain. One of the reasons I left Blogger, many years ago, was that I had to upload images in a very specific way. There are often limitations on customising your websites, or what plugins you can use, in these systems.
Moving away: Exporting your website is relatively easy, but there is always a possibility of getting wrong. A second consideration is that if you move away from the free service you could lose your existing visitors. (One trick is to keep on the free blog and use it to point at your new blog).
Free blog companies sometimes change the system or ownership: I originally started blogging in 2002 with Blogger and wrote a personal blog with over 300 posts. Then it was taken over by Google.
As I had a paid account, $5, I was sent a really nice fleece by Google to buy me out of the contract. Then one day the organisation of images became more controlled and the majority of images from my 300+ posts were no longer valid.
You could upset the free hosting company: If the company decides that you have broken their terms and conditions they may just take your site down and you may not be able to recover the content. (Sad story here).
I recommend the free option for people:
- for people who want to try out blogging, for a short time, before committing themselves fully to blogging.
- for people who simply do not wish to pay anything.
However, If you have the ability to pay a few dollars per month, I strongly recommend using a paid solution as it provides more and better options.
There are two main companies offering the combination of free software and free hosting. They are Blogger and WordPress.
Of these services, we recommend WordPress as the best entirely free solution as it has:
- less restrictions than Blogger
- WordPress is the most popular blogging, software package is likely to be the platform you would use if moving to your own domain
- you can use the full range of free themes and plugins
- WordPress is not a commercial organisation and so it less likely to change due to a takeover.
You may to consider: Own your own domain and use free blogging software
Over to You
So are you going to use a free system or are you going to set up your own domain? Have you good or bad experiences with any of the free services? Can you recommend any other free blogging service?