If you’re methodical and sensible, there’s a way to start blogging for free. The one thing that will determine whether that figure is zero is your domain name and hosting choices.
There are lots of free services out there but the downside to those is a lack of control over advertising. That isn’t a bad thing because you’re aiming to have lots of advertising going through your site. That’s how you’ll eventually make a passive income. You need control over those ads though, right?
The other problem with free domains is that they’re often sub-domains. That’s not a problem if you’re getting direct visitors by the truckload. It is a problem if you’re depending on search engines throwing more than a handful of visitors your way.
So what’s a sub-domain?
A domain name is like a home address. It leads directly to your online front door AKA your home page. It’s your house.
A sub-domain is a room within that house that has it’s own key and tenant. When someone types in your sub-domain name, the internetz has to look up the home address, then the specific room it’s been asked to find. When you’re getting a free sub-domain from a provider, the original domain (house) has LOT of rooms (sub-domains).
Search engines tend not to index all of the individual rooms very well, if at all, because that would be a nightmare. Imagine there’s a hosting company specialising in offering art prints. They’re called BLUE ART. They have 100,000 sub domains. Anyone searching for BLUE ART via Google would end up with a 10,000 pages of results all thrown back from the same domain.
This is why you really have to pay for your hosting if you want to be able to effectively work on your discover-ability through search engines.
By now, you’re probably wondering why people go the sub-domain path. Well, there are two reasons.
Lack of funds
Easy set up
But there is another way to start blogging. It’s not a free way, but it is a cheap way. You could have a set up just like mine up and running for less than $12.
How to set up your own domain and hosting
My background is fundamentally online media and web design. Since I first sat down to learn about this stuff in 2002, a lot has changed. Between then and now, I’ve set up a lot of sites and used lots of different hosting services (and domain registries).
The hosting I have now is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good (if you don’t know Larry David, that probably looks a bit OTT. If you do, high fives).
The best thing about my host is their ‘One-Click Install’ system. When I made my first WordPress site to start blogging, I had to manually copy all the files over via ftp. So the concept of a one click install was like MIND. BLOWN.
They also have a 97 day money back guarantee, a phenomenal 99.97% uptime guarantee and unlimited bandwidth. Add their amazing customer service to the mix and they’re worth every penny (trust me, I’ve been burned by other companies in the past).
STEP BY STEP
I’m trying to pace this just right so if this moves too fast or isn’t explanatory enough, all you’ve got to do is comment and I’ll make changes or explain in more detail where I can.
Choose WordPress Hosting and choose one of the plans. As I said earlier, the 7.95 per month plan allows you to host multiple WordPress sites. That means you can buy as many domains as you like and host lots of sites. If you know another blogger, or maybe your partner or kids want to have their own sites too, you won’t pay anymore other than the cost of the domain names (which start at $0.99).
So here we go. You need to enter your email address and choose a password. Once that’s done, you’ll get a screen that asks you what domain name you want. For the purposes of my less than $12 claim, I’ll show you how to set up with a .xyz domain name.
The next screen you’ll see asks which plan you want. Well it’s the $10.95 per month plan! Once you’ve chosen that one, you’ll be asked if you wan’t to add extras. The only one you’re interested in at this point, is the ‘Install WordPress’ option.
Now you have to enter all of your details and pay the monthly fee. That’s it.
You now own your own little place on the web.
I’ll be writing a companion piece on setting up your WordPress blog soon, so keep an eye open for that. In the meantime, familiarise yourself with the backend, choose a them and start getting your copy together for your ‘About Me’ section. That’s the hardest part.
I hope this has been helpful. Don’t forget to leave a comment letting me know how you got on.
Disclaimer: I know it’s 9.95 per month but it only works out to 7.95 if you take a 3 year plan, on a monthly billing cycle it’s $9.95 but still refers to itself as the $7.95 plan.