If I wanted to set up a free blog, what platforms would you recommend?
This question came to me from another follower and friend of mine.
If you’d like to start a blog, but you’re not sure whether or not you want to invest in a domain and a hosting plan just yet, here are four places you can start publishing your content to right away.
Blogger launched on August 23, 1999. It was developed by Pyra Labs, but Google bought it in 2003.
The Blogger platform allows multiple users to contribute to a single blog, and they have a variety of templates you can choose from. The platform also keeps track of your stats, and they even have many convenient widgets that can be added to your blog, some of which might be difficult to find or integrate on other blog management tools.
Decidedly, none of their templates are all that special. If you have the itch to customize and tweak your blog’s design, there’s only so much you can do with Blogger.
If Twitter is considered micro-blogging, and your average article is an example of long-form blogging, then Tumblr is often seen as a platform that fills the niche in between. It is often used to share interesting content that people find across the web (like on Pinterest), and is always home to medium-length posts as well.
Some musicians even use Tumblr exclusively, which is a good idea if you want to post often but not spend a lot of time doing it. Like Squidoo, there is also a bit of a community aspect to Tumblr. You can follow other people and “reblog” their content too.
The best strategy with Tumblr is to pick a focus (subject) and post content around that focus as much as possible. The platform doesn’t necessarily offer the most intuitive layouts, and you can expect your visitors to bounce around to different blogs often, but you can gain some traction by posting viral content frequently.
As you are likely aware, WordPress blogs are growing in popularity. If you’d like to get a feel for the platform, then WordPress.com does offer the free use of a hosted version of the seminal blog management tool.
This WordPress is a little different from the one that can be downloaded at WordPress.org and installed on your website. However, if you just want to get up and running, this is a good place to start.
WordPress.com will allow you to create more of a traditional blog compared to some of the aforementioned options. It does have a community aspect to it as well, but you can create a little more of a destination for your readers compared to a site like Tumblr. There is a pretty decent selection of themes as well.
Conclusion: Free Blogging
Keep in mind that, with free options, there are always going to be some limitations. The platforms mentioned here are all reliable, and Google does give a fair bit of weight to each of them, but if you ever want a fully customizable site, the best option is still to shell out the money for a domain and a hosting plan.
In addition, content that you create on another site isn’t necessarily yours to keep (despite the fact that you created it). I would suggest backing up a hard copy of a list of your followers and your content frequently, just in case the site you’re using goes down.