You want to learn how to start a blog for free and make money. Who wouldn’t? It’s a great way to build an income that frees you from the 9-to-5, allows you to spend more time learning about topics you’re interested in, and makes it possible to work anywhere with an internet connection. In this guide on how to start a blog for free and make money, we’ll look at four of the best free blogging sites:
📚 Table of contents:
We’ll also take a look at how you can start a blog on a shoestring budget with WordPress.org and an affordable web hosting plan.
Free blogging platforms 🧰
Let’s begin with the elephant in the room.
There are many free blogging sites on the internet today. However, web hosting and software development costs money, and these platforms are created by businesses. This means that they often run ads on free blogs in order to make money. You’ll also frequently find strict limits on storage space and bandwidth (how many people can visit your site), plus design limitations that make it difficult to fully customize your blog.
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll find that monetization options are limited on many of these platforms. This can complicate things when you’re trying to figure out how to start a blog for free and make money. It’s not impossible, but we’re not going to sugarcoat it and tell you it’s the ideal route to take.
Having said that – and to deliver on why you’re here today – I’m going to break down four of the best free blogging sites, how to make money with them, but also what their limitations are.
- SSL certification
- SEO tools
- Lead capture tools
- Ability to connect Weebly to your Instagram feed
- Unlimited bandwidth
How to make money with Weebly 💸
Weebly offers ecommerce features to free users, including unlimited products, inventory management, and an easy-to-use shopping cart. This is the main way to monetize on Weebly, but you can also use affiliate links and sponsored posts to monetize a free Weebly site.
Free Weebly users can only have up to 500 MB of storage. You also won’t be able to connect a custom domain or remove ads from your free Weebly blog. The inability to remove ads placed by Weebly also means you won’t be able to place your own ads on a free site.
Weebly is one of the best free blogging sites if you want to start a blog for free and make money.
Weebly is an easy-to-use visual website-building platform with a full suite of blogging tools, including SEO tools and lead capture tools.
There are also over 50 free themes that you can use to build your website in a matter of minutes. This is a small number compared to the hundreds you can get with WordPress.com (or the thousands available for WordPress.org), but it’s more than you’ll get with many other free blogging tools, like Medium. You can also use Weebly’s visual editor to customize many aspects of your blog’s design.
The other big advantage Weebly has is that you’ll get some ecommerce features for free, including the ability to list unlimited items for sale on your blog. While this isn’t useful for all bloggers, it does make Weebly the top choice if you want to start an ecommerce store alongside your free blog.
When your blog outgrows the free plan, you can invest in a paid plan for $10 per month (billed annually) and gain the ability to connect a custom domain, plus access to more ecommerce features.
- 50+ themes
- Theme customizer
- Easy-to-use menu editor
- Ability to create multiple blogs (up to 100 per account)
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited bandwidth
How to make money with Blogger 💸
The primary way to make money with Blogger is to run ads using Google AdSense. You can also use affiliate links and sponsored posts.
Blogger’s themes are very basic and the customization options are limited. There are also no ecommerce tools and no SEO tools beyond basic analytics. Moreover, there are no options for upgrading your blog as it grows.
When it comes to the best free blogging sites, Blogger is among the most well-known options around.
Run by Google, Blogger is one of the oldest platforms created for people who want to learn how to start a blog for free and make money. The Blogger suite of tools makes it easy to create your own blog complete with up to 20 static pages, publish posts, and organize your content using categories and tags.
Unfortunately, Blogger is lacking in several other key areas. You won’t get any tools for optimizing your SEO or selling products online, the analytics are limited, and there’s no option to upgrade for access to better tools. This makes Blogger a poor choice if you want to start a business around your blog.
Blogger is 100% free.
- Email subscription option
- Easy import for email lists
- Eligibility to be included in “Medium Digest” emails and featured in sections like “For You” on the Medium website
How to make money with Medium 💸
Medium offers two main ways to make money:
- Tipping. Leave a link to a third-party payment processor so readers can give you tips. You can set this up right away.
- Medium Partner Program. This program allows you to make money when paid Medium members visit your site.
You can also use affiliate links on Medium.
The main limitation of Medium is that you can’t organize your content effectively into categories or control how you display content without signing up for a paid membership and starting a Publication. If you do start a Publication, you’ll find that customization options are still quite limited.
Another key limitation of Medium is that you must have 100 followers to access payments through the Medium Partner Program, which is the main way to get paid on Medium.
Medium also doesn’t allow you to connect your own domain or start an ecommerce store. Moreover, if you want to monetize through affiliate marketing, you’ll have to be careful: Medium doesn’t allow sponsored posts or third-party advertising. Medium’s rules state that affiliate links are permitted if they’re properly disclosed, but you’ll have to be careful to ensure that your posts don’t read like they’re solely created to market third-party products or services.
If you’ve been searching around for the best free blogging sites, then you’ve probably already heard of Medium.
Medium has a unique monetization model. Regular users sign up to view unlimited articles on Medium for $5 per month. As a Medium Partner, you’ll make money based on how much time paid users spend reading your articles.
Unfortunately, if you want to create a proper blog with post categories and an organized front page on Medium, you’ll have to spring for the $5 per month paid plan and start a Publication. Also, while Publications will unlock more customization than the free blog option (which has virtually none), they still have fewer customization options than blogs that use the other free platforms on this list.
Free or $5 per month.
- Hundreds of themes
- Advanced site customizer
- Block editor for easy post/page creation
- Pre-built block patterns to help you easily create attractive page layouts
- Built-in newsletter tools
- 1GB storage
- Unrestricted bandwidth
How to make money on WordPress.com 💸
As a free WordPress.com user, your monetization options are limited to affiliate links and sponsorships.
Many of the best features of WordPress software, such as the ability to install plugins, are restricted to the Business plan, which is quite expensive. You also won’t be able to sell products unless you spring for the Commerce plan, which is even more expensive.
WordPress.com allows affiliate links on the free plan, but you’ll have to invest in a paid plan if you want to become part of the WordAds program or run your own ads on your site.
When choosing between the best free blogging sites, WordPress.com is worth considering – especially if you intend on using affiliate marketing to monetize your blog.
WordPress.com is a powerful blogging platform that makes it easy to create a professional-looking website around your blog for free. There are hundreds of themes available for different types of blogs. Some themes are restricted to paid plans, but the variety of free themes means you can probably find one that suits your needs.
WordPress.com also offers a variety of paid plans that you can switch to, if you decide that your free blog is no longer cutting it. These can unlock larger storage space and a wider range of features, including the ability to install plugins for expanded functionality, SEO tools, and ecommerce tools. Paid users can also participate in WordAds, an advertising program similar to Google AdSense.
After the free plan, WordPress.com’s first paid plan is $5 per month. If you want to use plugins, the Business plan will cost you $33 per month. If you want to start an ecommerce store attached to your blog, the Commerce plan will cost you $59 per month.
How to start a blog cheap and make money with WordPress.org 🏁
Frustrated by the limitations of the free blogging platforms we’ve looked at so far? Concerned about the high costs of paid upgrades to Weebly and WordPress.com? Still trying to figure out how to start a blog for free and make money?
Well, it’s not quite free, but we have another option for bloggers on a budget: WordPress.org + a cheap web hosting solution.
WordPress.org provides free, open-source software for building blogs and websites. The core software’s built-in features are pretty limited, but you can access thousands of themes and plugins that can expand your blog’s functionality. These include plugins for SEO, marketing, and ecommerce, many of which are also free to install.
👉 The one thing you’ll have to pay for with this approach is a web hosting plan. However, WordPress.org is compatible with every reputable web hosting company, so you can find extremely affordable solutions:
- Bluehost offers introductory plans for $2.95 per month (billed annually)
- SiteGround offers introductory plans for $1.99 per month (billed annually)
- Hostinger offers introductory plans for $2.99 per month (billed annually)
Note that renewal prices for these platforms are significantly higher, so if you want your blog to be self-sustaining, you’ll need to monetize effectively before your first year of hosting ends. If you want cheap long-term hosting, Hostinger is your best bet, with renewal pricing at just $6.99 per month.
Setting up a blog through WordPress.org
👉 The one downside of using WordPress.org is that you’ll need to do more setup. Along with choosing a theme from the WordPress theme library, you’ll want to install plugins for key functions:
- Akismet for spam protection
- Yoast SEO for search engine optimization
- Otter Blocks for creating forms, review blocks, and other dynamic site elements
- AddToAny Share Buttons so that people can easily share your content on social media
- Revive Old Posts to automate sharing of your blog posts on your own social media accounts
👉 If you’re looking to monetize your blog, you may also want to install the following plugins:
- ThirstyAffiliates for enhanced affiliate marketing
- Simple Membership to monetize your blog content through a membership program
- WooCommerce if you want to sell products
You can add these plugins to your blog easily by going to Plugins > Add New within your WordPress dashboard and searching for the name of the plugin you want.
Final advice on how to start a blog for free and make money 🧐
So, what final advice do we have for someone who wants to learn how to start a blog for free and make money?
Well, the unfortunate reality is that blogging platforms, like all companies, exist to make money. This means that even the best free blogging sites are often quite limited. They can be great for starting a blog and making a little bit of money, but if you want to create a successful business around your blog, you’ll eventually have to move on to a paid option.
On the other hand, if you have some money to invest, you can start with WordPress.org + cheap hosting right away and grow your blog without having to switch tools. You can also install free plugins for monetization capabilities like better affiliate marketing, running a paid membership program, and creating an ecommerce store.
👉 If you want more guidance on how to actually make money once you’ve started your blog, check out some of our other guides:
- How to find affiliate marketing programs for your blog
- Best affiliate programs for bloggers
- How to make money blogging: the A-to-Z guide
Plus, make sure to return to this blog regularly for more practical guidance on how to make money as a blogger.