When I looked at free blogging platforms, they included LiveJournal, which is now owned by Russians. Really.
Another free option was MSN Spaces. Remember that? No? Now you know why it isn't around any more.
There was AOL Journals. It's nowhere to be found.
There was ... um ... well, that was about it. Except for a couple called Blogger and WordPress.com.
At the time, I suggested those two and none of the other ones for free blogging. There may be some other decent free blogging platforms around, but I'm sticking with those two.
Paid options are available, too. WordPress.com has a paid option. Or, you can use a third-party Web host and install WordPress there. But, you'll need your own domain name for that. And that means we're getting ahead of ourselves.
But, this is a good time to talk about domain names.
Your Own Domain
Do you want your own domain name? If you use Blogger or WordPress.com, you don't need your own domain name to have a blog. But, if you want your own for whatever reason, then you have plenty of options. However, that means your blog is not really free.
If you don't care about your own domain name, skip to the next part. If you do, though, here are some options you have. There are more options than I'm going to mention. I'm just focusing on a few of the cheapest or most popular options.
To get your own domain name, you'll pay around $12 ... or more. Often more. Sure, registrars will offer sale prices for multi-year or bundles with other services, but here's the basic one-year price (rounded to the nearest dollar) for some of the most popular registrars.
Google: $12 ($12 first year)
GoDaddy: $15 ($12 first year)
Network Solutions: $38 ($20 first year)
Many hosting companies will offer to register your domain for you, so you may find good prices if you go the hosting route. However, the idea here is to do it most economically.
Then, there's private registration. That is an extra service that's above and beyond the standard domain registration. It's totally up to you whether or not you want your information private. I choose to do that. If you don't, anyone can look up your name, address, and phone number. Nope. I'm going private.
Network Solutions: $16
Here's the yearly price for registering a domain and having the information private:
Network Solutions: $54
I've used all three of these services. I have moved all my domains to Google Domains because it's cheaper, the interface is easy to use, and it does everything I need it to do.
Choosing A Platform
If you don't want your own domain name, you'll likely want to use Blogger or WordPress.com for your blog. Your URL will be http://yourblog.blogspot.com or http://yourblog.wordpress.com
If you do want your own domain name, you can use a third-party for hosting, which means add around $100 or more per year to the cost.
Or, use either Blogger or WordPress.com for hosting. Here's the total yearly cost.
Blogger: $12 (hosting is free; $12 for domain registration)
WordPress.com: $18 ($13 for hosting; $5 for domain registration add-on to hosting; net is $18)
You can't register a domain name through WordPress.com unless you buy it with a hosting plan.
So, whether you get your own domain name or not, I'm suggesting Blogger or WordPress.com for your blog. I've used both. I like WordPress better, but not enough to justify the extra cost. For some, it's worth it.
Money Money Money
If you want to monetize your blog, fine. Keep in mind that if you bombard people with ads, that turns them off. I have ads on this little blog, but they don't get all up in your face. Blogger lets you put your own ads on your Website. They also have their own advertising service for which you may apply. I participate, but haven't made a lot of money on it. Very little, in face.
WordPress.com does not let you put ads on your Website. Well, they do, but that's with the $5,000/month package. They have their own advertising service that's available with the $100/year plan.
If you're going to pay WordPress.com $100/year to host your Website, you might as well pay a third-party host and get the full WordPress software, which is more setup, but lets you put ads on your Website.
Blogger clearly has the advantage in price on this topic.
Before we leave this topic, let me reiterate: if you attempt to monetize, don't be obtrusive with your ads. Put yourself in your readers' place.
So, do you want your own domain name? If so, I'm suggesting to use Google domains. Cheaper.
For hosting, either WordPress.com or Blogger (Google). I'm suggesting Blogger because ... cheaper. Unless you aren't using your own domain name. Then they are the same price: free.
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