Looking for the best free blogging platform to start your own blog on a budget? There are plenty of great free places to start a blog, no matter what your goals are. If you want to build your own platform, you can use WordPress. To create your own community of subscribers, you may want to Substack or Ghost. You can also use Medium to access a built-in audience or choose from many other options.
No matter what your goals are, there is a great free blogging solution for your needs.
In total, we will cover 8 different platforms. Let’s start by starting with the most popular way to blog.
How to Choose the Best Blogging Platform
WordPress.org (Self-Hosted WordPress)
By the numbers, WordPress is by far the most popular way to blog or any kind of website in general. Over 40% of all sites use WordPress and it also feeds over 96% of the blogs in BuiltWith’s Million Sites Index.
WordPress started exclusively as a blogging platform, before morphing into a complete website building solution. While it’s still great as a blogging platform, it means you also have the flexibility to expand and add features to your blog in the future, like launching your own online courses or adding a product store.
To do this, you can use tens of thousands of themes (they control the layout of your blog) and plugins (they add new functions to your blog); Most of these extensions are free!
It is important to note that while the WordPress software itself is 100% free, you will need hosting to run the WordPress software, which can be expensive.
You can find free WordPress hosting that could work for a hobby blog. But for a serious blog, I recommend investing in a paid hosting service, which only costs $ 5 a month when you’re just getting started. You can check out our picks for the best cheap WordPress hosting providers.
Medium is an interesting mix of blogging platforms and publishers. As a copywriter, you can sign up and start posting just like any other blogging platform. But because you are posting to Medium, you also have the opportunity to have your content presented to Medium readers, which is like appearing in a magazine.
However, the downside is that you are stuck on the Medium platform. Therefore, in the short term, it is beneficial to access this integrated audience. But in the long run, it might be more beneficial to build your own platform using something like WordPress, especially if your goal is to make a living from your blog.
On the other hand, if you don’t care about money and you just want your text to be seen by people’s eyes, Medium can be a great option.
WordPress.com is a specific implementation of the WordPress.org software recommended above. While WordPress.org/self-hosted WordPress is a non-profit open-source company, WordPress.com is a for-profit company of a company called Automattic that is based on WordPress open-source software.
WordPress.com makes it much easier to create a basic blog using WordPress, but the downside to this simplicity is that it loses much of the flexibility of self-hosted WordPress software (unless you pay for one of the more expensive paid programs in WordPress.com). plans).
WordPress.com allows you to create a free blog using a subdomain of wordpress.com, such as yourblog.wordpress.com. To use your own custom domain name and/or unlock more features, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan from WordPress.com.
Substack is a new platform that has grown rapidly in popularity, especially among big-name journalists seeking a solo career like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi.
Substack calls itself a platform for creating an email newsletter, but it’s really just a blogging platform with built-in email functionality. When you publish content, it appears on your website like a traditional blog, but it also targets all of your email subscribers.
One of the unique things about Substack is its focus on generating paid recurring subscriptions, which it does with built-in features (so you don’t need technical knowledge to start accepting payments). You can make all your content free, make your blog 100% paid, or do a combination where you offer premium and free content.
Substack is 100% free until you want to start charging for access to part or all of your writing. That is, you can publish as much free content as you want, without having to pay. Once you start posting premium content, Substack will take 10% of the money you collect, but there is no fee beyond that.
Ghost is similar to WordPress in that it is free open-source software that you can install on your own web host to create a blog. However, unlike WordPress, Ghost focuses 100% on blogging/posts.
Ghost also includes built-in features to help you build a community of members around your blog and even charge for access if you want to monetize your blog. It’s like Substack in that sense, but you have more control because it hosts the Ghost software on its own host.
Wix is a complete website-building platform rather than a dedicated blogging platform. However, it does include blogging functionality so you can easily use it to create a blog with the added benefit of still getting access to website building tools if required.
Most people probably know Wix for its paid plans, but it does offer a free plan that works for basic blogs, although there are some notable limitations, such as mandatory Wix ads on every page and you must use a Wix subdomain.
To use your own custom domain name, you will need the $ 4.50 per month Connect Domain plan, and to remove the ads, you will need at least $ 8.50 per month for the Combo plan.
Weebly is another full-featured website builder that, similar to Wix, also includes blogging features, making it a suitable choice for a free blogging site.
It shares the exact same pros and cons as Wix, so your choice between the two should be limited to the interface and templates.
That is, you have the advantage of having a full website builder, but the free plan has mandatory Weebly ads and you cannot use your own domain name. To use a custom domain, you will need the $ 5 / month Connect plan, and to remove the ads, you will need the $ 12 / month Pro plan.
Jekyll is a great blogging platform for more technical users who have at least some development knowledge. If you are not a technical user, you will definitely want to choose a different platform. But if you are a developer who wants to blog simply, Jekyll can be a great free solution.
Simply put, Jekyll offers a database-less way to convert text/multimedia content into a blog, complete with categories, pages, posts, and more.
You can create a blog from the command line using a few commands and then host it for free using something like GitHub pages.
Where Should You Start Your Blog?
All of these free blogging platforms have pros and cons, making it difficult to recommend a single winner. Instead, it’s about choosing the best free blogging tool for your needs.
If your goal is to build your own blog brand, there is no better option than WordPress. And to access the full power of WordPress on a budget, self-hosted WordPress is your best bet.
If you publish long-form content and you don’t need the flexibility of WordPress, Substack (or Ghost) is a great option if you want to create a monetized community, while Medium is a good option if you want to reach an existing audience.
All the others have their pros and cons, but I’d say these options are the best place to start your search.
Still, have questions about choosing the best free blogging platform for your needs? Ask in the comment section!