Starting a free WordPress blog is an easy and quick solution for everyone who simply wants to find a cyber space to share their thoughts. It’s all done in a few steps where you’re guided through the process. Here’s what to expect and how to handle it:
- It all starts at WordPress.com. You’re given the option to create a new website (big button in the middle of the screen). If you scroll down, you can choose to either create a website or start a blog. Even though the description of the offered functionality in connection to the two options is different, the two buttons lead you through the same setup process, meaning that you can click on either of them without thinking too much about which one you should choose.
- The first step of the setup let’s you choose the design of your blog. You can choose between 9 standard designs but can easily switch to another one later on.
- In the second step you have to choose a name for your blog (domain name). You’re given the option to use the free version where your domain becomes a subdomain at the WordPress website, meaning that it’ll look like: mydomain.wordpress.com. You can also register or map your own domain name but I’d advise you not to do it. The prices for these services are way too high in comparison to the market average. Furthermore, you can’t use a custom domain if you want free hosting. If you’d like to have your own domain name, consider creating your website outside of WordPress.com, that is by installing WordPress on a server.
- The third step prompts you to choose between free hosting and two paid options. As a rookie one might compare the three options and decide to pay and get some “advanced features”. However, if you take a look at the hosting plans out there, you’d find out that the hosting offers at WordPress.com are simply too poor. Learn more about hosting and how to choose the best providers before making such a decision. My advice is clear: use WordPress.com’s free hosting. If you need more resources, choose a dedicated hosting provider instead. They are cheaper – you can end up paying as low as 30 USD per year – and offer a lot more to customers. Take a look at the offers of MochaHost or HostingWinds for example.
- The last step is to enter your details: email address, user name and password. You’ll have to confirm your email address by clicking on a link in a mail you’ll receive after submitting your data.
You’re ready to start blogging.
What to Keep in Mind When Starting a Blog on WordPress.com
Hosting your blog on WordPress.com for free means unfortunately that you’ll have to deal with a lot of limitations. Besides the fact that you can’t choose your own domain name and you only have around 3 GB space (that’s really small space for serious bloggers or website developers), you’ll bump into the following pitfalls of free blogging:
- You can use only themes from the WordPress collection made available to you via Themes on your main editing screen. Also, once you start browsing through the available themes, you’ll find out that more than half of them are paid. I’m directly warning you against using these paid themes – they’re super overpriced! Outside of WordPress.com, you can get a premium theme for around the half of what these cost – check out ThemeForest’s collection for example.
- You can’t use plugins. If you’re a beginner-blogger, this doesn’t say much to you. However, not being able to use plugins means that you’ll only have to rely on the functionality provided by the theme you chose. You’ll soon find out that this is far from enough – and quite frustrating. You have, however, the option to “upgrade” in order to be allowed to use some plugins. Such upgrade means, however, that you’ll be paying for hosting. As mentioned above, it’s not worth it to buy hosting on WordPress.com.
- You can’t add team members to a free blog. Even though you’re the administrator of the blog, your rights are quite limited. Your blog can get followers but you’ll be the only one who can edit content.
- Your options for upload and editing of media are incredibly limited. On top of the fact that you have to forget about SEO essentials as ALT tags, you have to remember that you’re dealing with 3 GB space limitation – goodbye high-def images. You can’t add video to your blog either.
- You don’t have access to your installation files in case you have to edit them, create a backup, etc. This means also that if your blog get’s hacked, there’s pretty much nothing you can do.
Even though there’re tons of limitations when working with a free WordPress blog, I’d still recommend this option to beginner-bloggers who’re blogging for fun, trying out the platform or just want to share their thoughts.
For everybody else needing real flexibility and looking for results, the recommendation is to go for a dedicated hosting provider (or host WordPress on own server), pay the price of a meaningful domain name, and order a premium or customized theme which meets their needs. Why? Because creating a professional blog is more about results than anything else – and results require resources – in terms of time, effort, money, etc.