If you have no idea whether or not you are going to like blogging, you probably don’t want to invest money in it, or get involved in anything complicated.
And you don’t have to.
I’ll explain here, how to start a blog without paying anything. And I’ll also let you know how to avoid getting trapped into paying a fee you were not expecting.
What do I need to start a blog?
There are three basic requirements any blog needs in order to exist and be visible online.
- A domain
- A content management system
There are two different ways of getting your hands on these three things.
Let’s look at the first way
Getting hold of hosting, domain, and content management.
The domain is the name of a website – like thepetbloggershat.com.
You can buy a domain very cheaply – just a few dollars/pounds a year.
You’ll also need some space on a special computer, that stores all the files that make up your blog or website.
These computers are called servers.
Servers require specialist knowledge to set up and maintain, so almost everyone rents a little space for their website on a server owned by a company.
There are many companies, small and large, that own servers and that rent out the space on them to people like you and me.
They are called hosting companies and the service you buy from them is known as hosting.
Just like rented buildings, hosting rates range from the very cheap to the hugely expensive and vary depending on what services are included.
Even the cheapest hosting package won’t leave you with much change from $150 / £100 for a year’s hosting.
Keeping things simple
If this all sounds a bit confusing or daunting, don’t panic.
You don’t actually need any of it to start a simple, personal blog. There is an alternative, and we’ll look at that in a moment.
Let’s just dip into that content management system first
Because it’s no good just having a domain and some hosting. The server needs you to tell it what to display on someone’s browers, when they click on your web address.
Blog content management
Browsers (on your laptop, phone or tablet), read the computer code written on each web page, and theses web pages are stored and organised by a content management system
Blogs need a special content management system because they need to be ‘distributable’.
To be specific, what distinguishes a blog from an ordinary website is that its contents can be distributed by a ‘feed’ through emails, throughout your website, or read by an app designed for the purpose
Without question the state of the art content management system for bloggers is WordPress.
The wonder of WordPress
WordPress is amazing.
It also has worldwide international support.
Thousands of blogging tools are designed to work with it, and there is simply nothing else that comes close.
WordPress is the only system you should be considering if you are a beginner. And the only system for which there is widespread support available
It is also absolutely free
How to start a WordPress blog
There are two ways to start a WordPress blog.
One is to own your own domain, and then instal WordPress on it. This is much easier than it sounds.
You can buy easily buy a website address (domain), and hire space on a server (hosting package).
WordPress installation is normally fully automated and fully supported by your hosting company.
Should you make a mistake, which is hard to do, they will fix it.
If you are one of those people who likes to go for a top of the range model from the start, or to keep all your options open – this is the way to go.
The WordPress installation you’ll be using is provided by WordPress.org.
Our blogging system
Lucy and I use WordPress.org and we have a system for starting blogs. It is what works for us and we are happy to share it with you.
It’s ideal for people that are blogging around a business, sport, or activity. Or who want more control over their personal blog.
We’re running two new blogs through it at the moment and you can read about them in our twin blog case study here on The Pet Blogger’s Hat website
But, it isn’t for everyone.
There are costs in setting up the way we do. Hosting costs, and domain purchase. We also use a premium WordPress theme and some tools that we pay for.
Blogging the (very) easy way
We understand that many people want to have a go at blogging, dip their toe in the water so to speak, and aren’t sure if they want to invest in it financially.
Some people don’t even want to think about buying a domain and setting up hosting.
No matter how easy I say it is!
And I get that.
Fortunately there is a free alternative. And it is also provided by WordPress, but this time it comes from WordPress.com
If you would like to test the water, then I recommend you try out the free blogging system provided by WordPress.com It is the same system but the domain and hosting is provided
You don’t need to pay for anything, and wordpress.com take care of everything.
Sounds to good to be true? Well there isn’t really a catch. There are limitations, but no tricks or traps
Not many bloggers recommend will recommend this option to you, but that is probably more to do with the fact that there are no affiliate spin offs for them, than because the system is flawed.
You can build an attractive, readable blog this way.
Be aware that a free WordPress blog has its limitations. You cannot monetise it, you don’t own it, and have no control over it.
But it often serves as a useful starting point. I started my first blog this way, and for some people that is all they ever need
Here’s the link to get you going: WordPress.com
Beware of alternatives
There are alternatives to WordPress.
Some companies offer easy-build websites of one kind or another, that are free – up to a point.
The end of that sentence is the pertinent part
If they require a subscription further down the line, then these system are not WordPress, and you are spending on something that is provided free by the best system in the world.
There is no reason to pay for any blog that you don’t personally own.
WordPress is not the only free blogging system. But it is arguably the best, the most widely supported and the most popular.
If you want to create a business website, a website for a club or organisation, or serious hobby, you need a WordPress.org based system where you own your domain and rent hosting from a hosting company.
Should you like the idea of maybe one day earning some pocket money – or perhaps even a living – from your blog, or if you are hoping to be the next Deliciously Ella, you need a wordpress.org system too.
If however, you want an easy way to start a personal blog, to let your family and friends follow the adventures of your cat, or a simple way to record how you learn to sew, then a wordpress.com solution will probably be fine for you.
You’ll find people all over the world who can help and support you.
You will also learn skills that will stand you in good stead when you decide to go for the option of owning your own piece of virtual real estate.
How about you?
What are you waiting for? It’s free, it’s reliable, and it’s fun! Go get your WordPress blog now!
Have you started your blog yet? Drop us a link and let us know how you are doing!