How to Blog Without Breaking the Bank - Part 1: Start A BlogMonday, May 9, 2016
So you have decided to start a blog. Awesome! You've worked hard on narrowing down your idea, your name, and your blog topic. You can't wait to get writing, but you really don't want to spend a ton of money to get started. I'm here to tell you that you don't need a ton of money, or really any money for that matter.
Over the next four weeks we'll go over what it takes to run a blog with as little money as possible. I'll offer free resources as well as inexpensive resources so you an choose which ones work for you and your blog.
This first week is laying your foundation by setting up a blog.
Choosing Your Platform
Years ago, when I started blogging I was really pretty clueless about everything. Through searches and often by chance I figured a few things out. The first was where to blog. Back in 2006 there were only a few choices. Most of the craft bloggers were using either Blogger or Typepad, both of which I've used. But today, there are so many blogging platforms to choose from. Tumblr, Weebly, Blogger, Wordpress, Medium, LiveJournal, Squarespace, Typepad, Wix, and Ghost are just a few of the many options there are out there.
With so many choices it can all get a bit overwhelming, but we'll make it really easy with one simple question.
Do you want to spend any money on your platform?
If you answered no, don't worry you are not alone. So many of us are really strapped for cash today and just want to try our hand at blogging without spending any money. And the best news is there are a lot of options out there for you.
Let's take a look at some of the free platforms that are available.
These platforms are 100% free. You just sign up with a login name and password, set up a blog, and you are on your way. They are also known as hosted platforms, which means the company you are blogging with will be your blog host. You don't have to pay a company like GoDaddy to host your blog, which is really nice and simple.
One of the downsides of having a hosted platform is you usually don't get to choose your domain name. Meaning, if I set up a blog on say Weebly my domain name would be craftingwithcathair.weebly.com. That isn't a problem, unless you are looking to only use your name as the domain name.
Purchasing Your Own Domain Name
Now if you are willing to spend a little bit of money, you also have an option.
You can choose to blog on a free platform, but purchase your own domain name. This is what I do. I have my blog on Blogger, but pay $10 a year for my craftingwithcathair.com domain name. I think it is totally worth $10 a year to have my own domain name associated with my blog.
There are quite a few places where you can purchase a domain name. GoDaddy, Name, and Dreamhost are just a few. I have my domain name through Namecheap. They are great and very affordable! I highly recommend them if you are thinking about purchasing your own domain name. If you go to their website, you can also search to see if your domain name is available. I used that handy tool when I was coming up with the name of my Etsy shop. I quickly found out that many of the names I had chosen were already taken. :(
I will be honest. It can be a little tricky setting up your own domain name on Blogger. But, if you Google setting up a domain name on Blogger and include your domain name company you will find a lot of step by step tutorials, like this one from Wonder Forest on setting up a GoDaddy domain name on Blogger.
Inexpensive, But Not Free
If you still want to stay with a hosted platform, but want to have a little more flexibility you can take a look at some of the more inexpensive blogging platforms.
Squarespace ($12-$18 per month)
Typepad ($8.95-$49.95 per month)
Wordpress.com ($8.25-$24.92 a month)
Wix ($9.75-$24.92 a month)
I have actually blogged on both Wordpress and Typepad. Both were really great. I preferred Typepad, because it was easier for me to use than Wordpress, but I could no longer afford the $100+ a year price tag. That is one of the main reasons why I went back to Blogger. It is 100% free!
Find The Platform That Works Best For You and Your Blog
My advice is do a little research on the different platforms. Many of them offer a free week or longer trial. Set up a blog and see how it feels. While Blogger is the perfect fit for my blog Weebly, Tumblr, or Typepad might be best for you.
And I know there are a lot of bloggers out there that swear their allegiance to Wordpress only, so much so that they say you can't have a successful blog without it. They are so wrong! Just take a look at these successful craft/DIY bloggers:
And did you notice that none of them have their own domain name!
Don't feel like you have to follow in other people's footsteps. Not every platform will be the perfect fit for your blog. Choose the one that feels the best for YOU!
Be sure to check back next Monday when we'll look at decorating your blog with free and inexpensive templates and other blog bling.