With this article, I want to share a few tips, tools, pieces of advice and methods for starting your blog with no money. Whether you are new to blogging, or looking to save money on your existing blog, I hope that I can help you on your blogging journey.
Step 1: Plan your blog content
Content is the most important part of your blog. Without any content, you won’t have anything for people to find. You also won’t have any topics to share with your audience.
If you already have existing content, feel free to skip ahead!
The easiest way to get started is plan 5-10 articles in a Google Drive folder or in your notepad on your computer. If you’re on the go, you can even use the “Notes” app on your phone.
The idea is to have content ready to go, so it does not become a blocker in the publishing of your blog.
Once you have content, you need to find a place to publish it.
Step 2: Pick a content provider for your blog
There are lots of blogging services that make publishing easy. A small sample of those services offer a free plan for you to get started and add your own content.
There are a few more technical options that I’ll review, toward the bottom of this post.
Wix offers a free and paid option. With their free service, you are limited to the following set of features:
- You can’t use a custom domain. Your site will be
- Wix will add their own ads to your site.
- You have a 500MB storage limit.
- You have a 500MB limit for bandwidth.
- You can not accept online payments.
- You will not be able to enable Google Analytics.
Now that you know these limitations, you can determine if Wix will be a good place to start. Keep in mind that it includes templates, hosting and a framework for creating a great website or blog.
WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms out there. In fact, a ridiculous amount of websites are powered by WordPress. They claim that 39% of the web is built on WordPress. Chances are, most websites that you visit are WordPress sites.
Within WordPress, there are two paths that you can take. Self-hosted (wordpress.org) and hosted (wordpress.com).
I’ll be discussing the hosted path because although the self-hosted is also free, you’ll usually have to pay for hosting in order to set it up. I’ll talk a bit more about this below.
WordPress has a comprehensive pricing page to give you a better idea of what to expect with the company’s pricing tiers.
For the free version, you can expect the following:
- No custom domain
- A few free themes
- WordPress tools (AKA some Jetpack features)
- A 3GB storage limit
I like this option because the next step up is $4 and has a lot of great features that you can grow into as your blog gets more established.
Medium allows you to write your content and share it with an audience for free. To get started, you only need to sign up, and then you can get started sharing your content.
Medium decided to monetize its platform as a company by offering a subscription for readers of your content.
On the flip side, you can also monetize your own content by applying for their Partner Program. This article doesn’t cover an in-depth way for you to make money with blogging, but Medium is one of the easier ways to do that.
When you write for Medium, your content lives in the Medium domain. When you decide to move your content away, it gets a little tricky to handle that migration.
Substack is one of the first platforms to focus on empowering independent writers to publish their content for free, with no limits. They offer lots of tools that you can use, and these allow you to focus on your content, and nothing else.
Substack is built around being able to put a paywall on your content for your more premium thought pieces.
Substack will only take a fee once you start getting paid. They take the fee from your subscriber memberships, and you don’t have to pay anything.
I publish a lot of my work in progress projects on GitHub pages. In fact, this blog was hosted on GitHub pages for years until I started to dedicate more time to it.
You will need some coding experience because GitHub will host your static code, and give you any publishing tools.
GitHub pages will easily integrate with your custom domain, if you happen to have one. If you don’t have a custom domain, you can use GitHub’s free domain, which will appear something like
Netlify will integrate with your existing code repository, or accept an upload of a pre-built blog. Similar to GitHub pages, you’ll need some sort of static site generator in order to publish your site using Netlify.
Netlify is great because it gives you more flexibility for tweaking your site, such as a CMS, build plugins, contact forms for your static site and so much more.
I use Netlify for a lot of my projects like Halfhalftravel.com.
Step 3: Monitor your site traffic
Now that you have your website published, check your analytics every few days and see how your articles are performing.
Keep in mind that it takes time for articles to rank. There are a lot of strategies for getting your articles in front of more people, like through SEO tactics and social media marketing. I won’t be covering those in this article, but I recommend checking out what I’ve written about SEO in how I built halfhalftravel.com.
If you are a new blogger, you’ll want to prove to yourself that you can have a blog that people can find organically. Once you activate that proof of concept, you’re ready to move on to the next phase of your blogging venture.
Step 4: Scale your website
For some of these services, if your website becomes popular, you may have to scale your site to a more expensive plan. This is a good problem to have!
If you outgrow some of the free options, you’re now ready to start thinking about how to monetize your traffic.
Step 5: Monetize your website
Once you have a significant amount of traffic, you’re ready to monetize it. When your blog starts earning money, it’s technically free because you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket for it.
Conclusion: you can start a blog with no money
I hope you’ve learned through reading these steps that yes: it is possible to start a blog with no money. You’ll see through your own process and experience how growing a site will lead you to some paid options that will add a huge amount of value to your blog in the future. For now, it’s fine to start with free services and start learning as soon as possible.
First published on December 14, 2020