The 5 Best Free Blogging Platforms in 2019 (100% Unbiased)

The 5 Best Free Blogging Platforms in 2019 (100% Unbiased)

So, you’d like to take blogging for a test drive, eh?

See if you like it or not before ponying up the bucks for a complete self-hosted WordPress setup?

You’ve probably heard you can start a blog for free, and indeed you can. The big question is:

What’s the best free blogging platform right now?

And the answer is… it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

In this post, we’ll go over all the different free blogging platforms and give you the pros and cons of each, but first, let’s stop to ponder a more fundamental question:

Do You Even Need a Free Blogging Platform?


The truth:

Blogging can be expensive.

If you’re a seasoned blogger who’s been around the block a time or two, who’s already figured out which ideas work and which don’t, it’s easy to chalk up these costs as the price of doing business. Spend money, make money. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

But what if you’re a beginner learning how to start a blog for the first time? What if you’re someone who hasn’t yet figured what works and what doesn’t?

I’ll let you in on a secret…

You can experiment just as well on a free blogging platform as you can on a self-hosted WordPress setup with all the bells and whistles.

Actually, you can experiment better on a free blogging platform since the learning curve isn’t as steep.

Do you really want to experience the inevitable growing pains of blogging while forking over large piles of cash each month?

Free blogging platforms allow you to confirm your blog topic has potential, spy on the competitors in your niche, and test your ideas without spending any of your hard-earned dough.

So which one is best?

Well, that’s the thing:

No Blogging Platform Is Right for Everyone


Different bloggers have different needs, and different blogging platforms are good for different things. Ultimately, “best” will depend on you and your situation.

That said, each of the platforms we’ll discuss do have common traits (besides being free). Let’s briefly look at them before we dive in:

  • There’s zero maintenance hassle. The burden of maintenance doesn’t fall on you when you use a free blogging platform. No worries about software updates, data backups, or gremlins hacking your server — they’re all handled by someone else.
  • They’re easy to use. To varying degrees, each platform is friendly to beginners. With limited tech savviness, you could get started today.
  • Customization is limited. If you’re a micromanager, take a deep breath: you will not have full control or unlimited options when you use a free blogging platform.

That last one can be both a blessing and a curse.

Once you get serious about blogging, the limited customization options of free platforms will likely hold you back. When you’re just starting though, the limitations will help you focus on what’s important: the aforementioned testing of your ideas.

Alright, enough prologue.

Ready to find out which platform is best for you? Let’s go.

#1. Medium: Best Platform for Simplicity


First up is Medium.

Founded by Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, Medium launched in August 2012 to much fanfare, and it’s grown into a behemoth. According to the New York Times, as of May 2017, Medium was up to 60 million unique visitors each month.

That’s considerably less than WordPress, but Google Trends indicates the tide could be turning:

Worldwide searches for WordPress

The red line in the graphic above represents the number of worldwide searches for “wordpress” during the past five years. The blue line represents the number of searches for “medium.”

Granted, some of those “Medium” searches could be for the TV show of the same name that starred Patricia Arquette from 2005 through 2011.

Nonetheless, its growth is impressive.

How Do You Get Started?

Medium offers multiple ways to register.

Don’t want to remember yet another password for yet another account? No problem. Sign up using one of your social media accounts.

Go to Medium.com and click the “Get Started” button:

Join Medium

Choose Google or Facebook. You’ll then be asked to log into your (Google or Facebook) account. Once you authorize Medium to access your account, it will redirect you back to Medium.

That’s it.

To get to your Medium account in the future, all you have to do is click “Sign In” on the homepage and choose the “Sign in with Google” or “Sign in with Facebook” option.

Or if you already have a Twitter account, it’s even easier. Choose the “Sign In” link instead of the “Get Started” button, and you’ll see the following:

Welcome Back to Medium

Click the “Sign in with Twitter” button (even though you haven’t yet signed up).

If you haven’t already logged into Twitter, you’ll be asked to log in and then authorize Medium to access your Twitter account.

Click “Ok,” and you’ll be off to the races.

What Do You Get For $0?

A simple, beautiful WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) blogging platform that embraces minimalism.

After you join, click your avatar (the floating head) in the top-right corner of the page and then, select “New story.”

New Story on Medium

You’ll land on a clean, easy-to-use editor.

Where to insert the title for your post is clearly defined. So, too, is where to begin typing your first sentence.

Title on Medium

Every change you make gets automatically saved in the background. And as you type, you begin to see exactly how your finished post will appear to your readers.

Medium's WYSIWYG editor

That’s the beauty of a WYSIWYG editor.

There’s no guessing, no wondering, and no trial and error. If your post looks good in the editor, it’s going to look good when your post goes live after you click the “Ready to publish?” button.

And speaking of what happens after publishing, there’s something else Medium offers you for the whopping price of zero dollars and zero cents:

The chance to be featured in front of their 60+ million readers.

Write something that wows people and, if it receives enough love from readers (they click a “clap” button to show their approval), it could get featured as one of Medium’s top stories on their app and website…

Medium's Daily Digest

Or in their “Daily Digest” email…

Medium's Daily Digest

Such a spotlight would mean lots of new eyeballs on your content.

Who Should Use Medium?

Anyone. Everyone.

Seriously, though it isn’t perfect, you’ll be hard pressed to find a blogging topic or niche that Medium can’t service.

This is especially true if your niche will be self-improvement or entrepreneurship. Medium puts your content, your message, front and center to your readers.

Why Use Medium?

As Evan Williams once put it: “Medium is not about who you are or whom you know, but about what you have to say.”

Best-selling authors. Entrepreneurs. Writers who stepped away for a season, but are making a comeback. Ministers who have a good sense of humor. Yours truly.

All have things to say, and all have found homes on Medium.

Who Should NOT Use Medium?

Microbloggers (you’d be better off using Instagram — more on that later).

Those who don’t plan on using their blog for writing (photographers, podcasters, etc.).

Anyone who likes to color outside the lines.

Medium is all about the written word. Sure, graphics embedded into Medium posts look great, but in the end, it all comes back to the words.

Medium is best for those who love words. It excels at typography. It uses an abundance of white space so that its text has a perfect canvas. It embraces a minimalistic design so that nothing distracts your readers from your precious — yes, I’m going to repeat it — words.

Look at this example screenshot from a post written by Jeff Goins:

Why You Should NOT Use Medium?

Black text on a white background. A simple, easy-to-read font. It’s a perfect arrangement for Jeff’s strong, unique voice.

Medium offers no glitz, glam, or sparkles. And, unlike WordPress.com (which provides a few basic design themes and customization options), Medium is one size fits all.

What you see is what you get.

If you like what you see, great. If you don’t, there’s not a lot you can do about it.

Final Word on Medium

What are the Pros?

  • Built-in audience of over 60 million readers!
  • Good for all blog types
  • Excellent typography — your blog will look professional
  • More business friendly than WordPress.com

What are the Cons?

  • Little, if any, customization — your blog will look like every other Medium blog
Conclusion: If the written word is your preferred medium, you’ll do very well with Medium. It’s an easy-to-use platform that puts your words front and center, and it’s the platform we most often recommend to beginner bloggers.

But is it the right choice for everyone?

Let’s look at the other options…

#2. WordPress.com: Best Sandbox Platform


Wordpress.com - Best Sandbox Platform

Source: Lorelle on WordPress

Launched in 2005, WordPress.com is a turnkey blogging platform built on the open-source WordPress.org software.

In any given month, over 409 million people will view more than 21 billion pages on WordPress.com’s network of blogs. In September 2018, more than 70 million posts were published and over 52 million blog comments were written.

WordPress.com is quite popular.

In short, WordPress is quite popular.

How Do You Get Started?

Signing up for a free account takes only a few minutes.

Go to WordPress.com and click the “Get Started” button to get to Step 1:

Getting Started with WordPress.com

You’ll need to enter your email address, a username, and a strong password.

Next, enter a few details about your blog for Step 2:

Getting Started with WordPress.com

For Step 3, enter an address for your site:

WordPress.com - Give your site an address

Once you’ve typed something, you’ll get a list of options. Be sure to select the “Free” one.

Finally, in Step 4 you pick a plan. Again, choose the “Free” option.

What Do You Get For $0?

WordPress.com’s “free for life” plan gives you numerous features, including:

  • A free WordPress.com subdomain
  • “Jetpack” essential features
  • Community support
  • Dozens of free themes
WordPress.com - Choose your flavor

Let’s look at those features in more detail:

Free Subdomain

A couple of definitions are probably in order…

First, what’s a domain? See the address bar at the top of your browser? What comes after the “https://” is the domain.

In the case of this site, the domain is smartblogger.com. For my site, it’s beabetterblogger.com.

And in the case of WordPress, the domain is wordpress.com.

So what’s a subdomain? If the domain is the parent, the subdomain is the child. Anything between the “https://” and the domain is a subdomain.

Some examples:

  • alumni.harvard.edu
  • braves.mlb.com
  • finance.yahoo.com

That’s what WordPress is offering with its free subdomain.

So, if I wanted to start “Kevin’s Awesome Blog” on WordPress.com, my subdomain might be something like kevinsawesomeblog. Readers would type kevinsawesomeblog.wordpress.com in their browser to view my site.

It’s not a good look if you’re a business (more on that later), but for a sandbox blog where you’re testing your ideas, it’ll do the trick.

Jetpack Essential Features

WordPress.com doesn’t allow third-party plugins (unless you upgrade to their “business” plan). So, if your buddy tells you about this “amazing” WordPress plugin “you’ve got to try,” you’re out of luck until you upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress site.

However, WordPress.com’s free plan does come with many built-in plugins that offer everything from spam protection to contact forms.

For a complete list of the built-in functionality that WordPress.com offers, check out their plugins page.

Community Support

Possibly WordPress.com’s best feature (beyond the price) is its extensive support system and knowledgebase.

You can find virtually anything you need to know about using their free platform in WordPress.com’s Support section. To call their collection of how-to articles merely “extensive” would be an understatement.

WordPress.com - Select your theme

And if you have a specific question you need an answer for, they have you covered there too.

Visit the WordPress.com forum, search to see if anyone has had your same question, and browse the answers. Can’t find the solution you need? Post the question yourself.

Free Themes

Whereas Medium prevents you from customizing the look of your blog, WordPress.com gives you options.

With “dozens” (93 at the time of this writing) of free themes from which to choose, WordPress.com offers design flexibility that isn’t available with Medium and the other free platforms.

WordPress.com - Select your theme

What we’re saying is…

You get a lot for “free.”

Who Should Use WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a solid platform for almost every type of blogger.

Do you want to be a self-help blogger? Good news — WordPress.com will meet your needs.

Want to blog on food, pets, or politics? You’re in luck.

Just want to write about life? That’s WordPress.com’s jam, my friend.

Why you should use WordPress.com

Source: The Next Adventure

But WordPress.com is good for more than just blogging. You can also use it for projects and e-commerce stores, which isn’t something the other free platforms can claim.

That gives it an edge over the other options. If you want to blog and do something else with your site, WordPress.com offers flexibility the others do not.

However, it’s not a good fit for everyone…

Who Should NOT Use WordPress.com?

If you want to blog for a business, you should skip WordPress.com and look into Medium or LinkedIn (which we’ll discuss in a moment).

Why?

Because it makes you look like a cheapskate.

Free is wonderful, but using WordPress.com when you’re a business is the equivalent of handing out business cards with the printer’s logo on the back of them.

Doesn’t exactly scream “I’m a professional,” does it?

Also:

If you’re hoping to join a blogging community where your posts have a chance to be discovered by new audiences, you should look elsewhere.

Medium shines a spotlight on the best their members have to offer. If you write something great, it has a chance to be featured and seen by millions.

WordPress.com? Not so much.

Here’s a screenshot of the most-recent “Editors’ Picks” on the official WordPress.com blog:

Why you should NOT use WordPress.com

There might as well be tumbleweeds blowing across the screen.

Final Word on WordPress.com

What are the Pros?

  • Suitable for a variety of blog types
  • Solid support articles and forum
  • More design options than other free platforms
  • Shorter learning curve if you choose to transition to self-hosted WordPress later
  • Good for more than just blogs

What are the Cons?

  • Not ideal for businesses
  • You can’t install third-party themes and plugins
  • Lack of community makes it difficult to build an audience from scratch
  • WordPress advertising and banners may appear next to your content
Conclusion: If you’re a non-business blogger who wants an easy to use platform that gives you some control over customization, WordPress.com is a solid option — especially if you plan to transition to self-hosted WordPress someday.

#3. LinkedIn: Best Platform for Professionals


LinkedIn - Best Platform for Professionals

Source: Darren Rowse

Next up is LinkedIn.

Primarily used for professional networking, LinkedIn also offers a publishing platform. This allows any of its 560 million users (as of September 2018) to write posts that could (potentially) be read by any of the 260 million members who are active in a given month.

(Again, potentially.)

How Do You Get Started?

Go to LinkedIn.com, and you’ll see this window encouraging you to join:

Getting started with LinkedIn

Enter your name, your email, and a strong password. Then click the “Join now” button.

You’ll then be asked to answer a few simple questions:

  • Your country and zip code
  • Whether or not you’re a student (if no, you’ll enter your job title and the name of your employer; if yes, you’ll enter the name of your school and other relevant info)
  • Your reason for joining LinkedIn

It sounds like a lot, but it’s fairly harmless.

Still, if you feel the urge to throw your computer into the dumpster, we won’t blame you.

LinkedIn hurdles

What Do You Get For $0?

A free-to-use publishing platform that’s focused on professionals and business contacts.

If you’re already a LinkedIn member, publishing your content will be easier than WordPress.com, Medium, or any other blogging platform.

Why?

Because it’s built right into your LinkedIn profile. Click the “Write an article” button and start writing.

LinkedIn - Profile

Who Should Use LinkedIn?

Anyone who wants to reach professionals and businesses.

After all, that’s what LinkedIn is all about, right? Nurturing business relationships.

Why you should use LinkedIn

Source: Syed Balkhi

Blogging on LinkedIn helps to cultivate those relationships.

When you write an article, LinkedIn will notify your existing connections. If your article is great (and why wouldn’t it be?), they’ll take notice. Write more and more great articles, and they’ll start to see you as an authority.

And, like with Medium, great content on LinkedIn has a chance to get noticed by those outside your list of connections.

If one of LinkedIn’s editors sees your masterpiece and decides to feature it on one of LinkedIn’s numerous channels, your work gets exposed to a giant audience of interested, like-minded professionals.

Tip: Want to increase the chances a LinkedIn editor will see your article? Share it on Twitter and include “tip @LinkedInEditors” in your tweet.
Sharing LinkedIn posts on Twitter

Who Should NOT Use LinkedIn?

This one is pretty straightforward…

If you aren’t a working professional, or you’re not looking to reach working professionals, you’ll be better off choosing one of the other free platforms.

Final Word on LinkedIn

What are the Pros?

  • Good for professionals and businesses
  • Clean, simple design
  • Easy to use — publishing platform is built right into your LinkedIn profile
  • Built-in audience of like-minded professionals

What are the Cons?

  • Only good for professionals and businesses
  • Very few customization options
  • You can’t schedule posts for future publishing
Conclusion: If you’re looking to write posts that will reach professionals and businesses, LinkedIn is the best free blogging platform available.

#4. Instagram: Best Platform for Visuals


Instagram - Best platform for visuals

A photo and video-sharing platform that’s owned by Facebook, Instagram is one of the largest social media sites in the world.

As of June 2018, Instagram has 1 billion users worldwide. The previous September, they had 800 million users — a growth of 200 million in only nine months.

Even if you subtract everyone who follows a Kardashian or has posted a photo of themselves impersonating a duck, Instagram offers an audience of well over 75 people.

(Kidding. Mostly.)

How Do You Get Started?

On a personal computer, go to Instagram.com, and you’ll see the following:

Getting started with Instagram

Enter your phone number or email address, your name, your desired username, and a strong password. Then click the “Sign up” button.

Or, skip all that and click the “Log in with Facebook” button (assuming you have a Facebook account). If you aren’t already logged in, it will ask you to log into your Facebook account.

You could also do the above using the Instagram app on your mobile device.

What Do You Get For $0?

You get an extremely popular social media platform that’s perfect for microblogging.

What’s microblogging, you ask? Here’s how it works:

You get a great image. Maybe it’s a photo you took on your camera, or perhaps it’s a Creative Commons image that perfectly fits your current shade of melancholy.

You upload the image to Instagram.

And for the caption? You write a short blog post.

Here are a couple examples:

What do you get with Instagram?

In the above screenshot, Sarah Von Bargen cleverly plugs a course she offers in the midst of a tiny, bite-sized post (accompanied by a photo of assorted beverages).

And in the below screenshot, my friend Jaime Buckley (in true Jaime Buckley style), uses Instagram to publish an eye-catching graphic alongside 107 inspirational words on parenting.

That’s microblogging — and it can be done very, very well using Instagram.

Who Should Use Instagram?

Anyone who focuses on highly-visual topics.

Models…

Photographers…

Yoga instructors…

Professional chefs…

Make-up artists, hair stylists, clothing stores…

The list goes on and on.

If you’re someone who can combine great visuals with short posts that pack a punch, you can have great success using Instagram as a microblogging platform.

Who Should NOT Use Instagram?

If your idea of a great image involves pulling out the iPhone 3G you’ve had since 2008 and snapping a photo, Instagram may not be the platform for you.

If you tend to draft novels when you write, Instagram’s 2,200 character limit when writing captions could prove problematic.

Also, if your target audience tends to shy away from mobile devices for any reason, Instagram might not be the best platform to test your ideas. Instagram started life as a mobile app. Mobile is where it shines, and it’s where most of its users call home.

(So, if you’re planning to start a Wilford Brimley fan club, it’s probably best to skip Instagram.)

Final Word on Instagram

What are the Pros?

  • Great for visual topics
  • Ideal platform for microblogging (short posts)
  • Great if your target audience primarily uses mobile devices

What are the Cons?

  • Limited to 2,200 characters
  • Limited to one hyperlink (in your bio)
  • If your target audience isn’t on mobile, it’s less than ideal
Conclusion: Instagram offers a great microblogging platform geared toward visual topics. However, it is not kind to fans of the great Wilford Brimley.

#5. Guest Blogging: Best Platform for Building Your Authority


Sometimes, the best platform for your work is someone else’s popular blog.

Why? Because it can mean instant credibility.

Once your post publishes on a site like Smart Blogger, Forbes, Lifehacker, or Business Insider; people look at you differently.

Yesterday, you were just you — a talented, attractive writer living in obscurity. But then, after having your work published on a well-known website, you’re now seen as a subject matter expert in your field.

What happened? Guest blogging happened.

How Do You Get Started?

There are two approaches to finding sites where you can contribute guest posts.

The first is easy…

Check to see if the blogs you already like to read (that are relevant to your niche, of course) accept guest post submissions.

Browse their “About” or “Start” pages. Try their “Contact” page. Sometimes, they’ll make it easy and have a “Contribute” or “Write for Us” link in their navigation menu or footer.

Guest Blogging - Best platform for building authority

The second approach involves utilizing Google’s and Twitter’s search capability.

Here’s how it works:

Use Google to find the best places to guest blog.

As you can in the screenshot above, you can query a topic (in this example: “blogging”) along with a search phrase (“write for us”).

Google returned a list of results that contained both of those search terms/phrases.

Click on the results that look promising, browse the sites, and see if they’re a good fit. Not all sites will be worth your time. Skip the ones that aren’t. Bookmark the matches.

Then try some other, similar queries:

  • “Blogging” + “guest post”
  • “Blogging” + “contribute”
  • “Blog tips” + “write for us”

And so on.

Replace “blogging” and “blogging tips” with whatever topics you would like to write about.

Searching for guest blogging opportunities on Twitter follows a similar routine:

Search guest blogging opportunities on Twitter.

Type “guest post”, “guest blog post”, “guest article”, etc. in the search box. Twitter will give you a list of tweets where people used those exact phrases.

Every time someone proudly tweets that a guest post they’ve written has been published on someone’s site, as Meera Kothand does in the above screenshot, it’s saved by Twitter for posterity. And it allows you to go on an archeological hunt find it.

Scroll through the results.

Based on the title of the guest post and the site that published it, you will have a good idea whether or not it’s a match for you. Keep scrolling until you find some possibilities. Click the link in the tweet, browse the site, and bookmark it for later if you think it’s a contender.

What Do You Get For $0?

You get the chance to put your words in front of already-existing, relevant audiences.

Jon wasn’t an unknown when he wrote How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World as a guest post for Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger in 2011, but he was an unknown to me until I discovered the post a few years later.

Why guest blog?

Then everything changed.

It didn’t matter that Jon was already well known by most thanks to his former role at Copyblogger; for me, his ProBlogger post was a gateway drug.

Jon went from being an unknown — a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, smothered in secret sauce — to an authority on blogging I had to read.

That’s the power of guest blogging. Every time you put your words in front of newly targeted audiences; you have the chance to gain fans for life.

Who Should Guest Blog?

Anyone who wants to build their credibility and boost their authority.

How can guest blogging do that, you ask? Let’s use me as an example.

Before I wrote my first guest post for Smart Blogger, the only people who viewed me as an authority on blogging were my wife and maybe one of our cats.

My site, Be A Better Blogger, was less than a year old. After reading a post about quitting your job and moving to paradise written by some guy named Jon, launching my own “blog about blogging” sounded like a great idea.

So that’s what I did. I was on unemployment at the time, and I had a lot of free time on my hands.

And I was doing a great job in such a short period.

The only problem?

I had little credibility. Few saw me as an authority on the topics I was writing.

Then I received an email…

Gain credibility through guest blogging.

Jon’s editor, the talented Glen Long, invited me to write a guest post for Smart Blogger (formerly known as Boost Blog Traffic).

That guest post…

Gain opportunities from guest blogging.

Led to a second opportunity

Gain opportunities from guest blogging.

Which led to a third

Gain opportunities from guest blogging.

Which led to the post you’re reading right now.

It led to opportunities like writing for Syed Balkhi over at OptinMonster.

It led to being asked to provide quotes for dozens of blog posts and articles.

It led to flattering, tongue-placed-firmly-in-cheek emails like this one from James Chartrand:

Guest Blogging legitimizes you as a blogger.

It may not have led to tons of traffic for my website or large crowds chanting my name in the streets, but guest blogging did something that would have taken me considerable time to do on my own:

It legitimized me.

Hey, and speaking of website traffic…

Who Should NOT Guest Blog?

Anyone who wants to build up their own blog.

The reason? It isn’t very efficient.

Brace yourself…

You would better off publishing your masterpiece on your website, even if it isn’t yet popular, rather than on someone else’s — even if their website is very popular.

Please don’t misunderstand: Guest blogging is a great way to gain credibility; however, it isn’t a great way to get traffic to your blog. Not anymore.

Guest blogging may have been a nice traffic source in the past, but those days are long gone.

In his eye-opening article on the topic, Tim Soulo determined guest blogging was a poor return on investment if your goal was to generate traffic to your website.

According to Tim’s survey of over 500 bloggers (which included yours truly):

  • Guest posts from those in the marketing niche earned their authors an average of only 56 website clicks
  • 85% of the authors received fewer than 100 referrals to their sites

That doesn’t mean you should never guest blog. It just means you need to be clear about your reasons for doing so.

Guest blog for credibility, for boosting your authority, and for building your brand.

Don’t guest blog if you’re hoping for traffic. More often than not, you’ll be disappointed.

Oh, and there’s one more group who shouldn’t guest blog:

Those who want to take shortcuts.

There’s both good and bad when you’re putting your words in front of a large audience. If your post teaches them something new, inspires them, or gives them something juicy to chew on; they’ll remember you for it.

And if it sucks? Yeah, they’ll remember you for that too.

Guest blogging is a great way to build your authority, but it’s also a great way to destroy it.

If you’re not willing to put in the time and do the work, guest blogging isn’t for you.

Final Word on Guest Blogging

What are the Pros?

  • Write for interested, targeted audiences
  • Fastest way to build your authority and reputation

What are the Cons?

  • Fastest way to destroy your authority and reputation
  • Not an efficient method for getting traffic to your own website
  • Getting published on quality sites is hard work
  • Time-consuming — may be hard to fit into busy schedules
Conclusion: Guest blogging is a great way to build your authority and get your content in front of new readers. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. However, it’s unlikely to generate tangible traffic to your blog.

Making the Switch to Self-Hosted WordPress


Technically, there’s one more free option out there…

The WordPress.org software — the same software used by WordPress.com — is free too. It’s free for any and all to use.

However, just like there’s no such thing as a free puppy (once you factor in food, veterinarian bills, and replacing all your shoes after they’ve become chew toys), WordPress.org’s software isn’t actually free once you add up the other expenses.

See, to use the software, you have to install it on your own web host. That costs money.

Is this something you will want to do eventually? Absolutely. Just not right now. Not when you’re getting started.

So how will you know when you’re ready?

Jon recommends making the switch once you reach a 20% outreach success rate.

What does that mean? Let’s break it down:

Step #1: Register for a Free Blog

Sign up for Medium, WordPress.com, or whatever free platform best fits your needs.

Step #2: Follow Jon’s New Method for Starting a Blog

If you haven’t read How to Start a Blog in 2018, do so immediately.

(Well, not immediately. Finish reading this post; leave us a comment; and share it with all your friends, loved ones, and acquaintances. Then, by all means, immediately after saying hi on Twitter, go and read Jon’s excellent tutorial.)

In the post, Jon shows you how to conduct a miniature outreach campaign where you email 10-20 influential bloggers and ask them to share your blog posts.

Once you’ve hit a 20% success rate, you’re ready to make the transition.

Step #3: Switch to Self-Hosted WordPress

Jon’s post also offers guidance for making the switch. When you’re ready to choose a web host, be sure to read WordPress Hosting: A Brutally Honest Guide That’ll Save You Money.

It’ll help you pick the best host for your needs and budget.

What’s the Best Free Blogging Platform for You?


That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

You now know why testing your ideas on a free blogging platform when you’re just starting is a good idea. You now know the pros and cons of Medium, WordPress.com, LinkedIn, Instagram, and guest blogging. And, you now know how to get started with each of them.

So which one is it going to be?

If you want my honest opinion, the answer is simple…

The best free blogging platform is whichever one will get you to stop dipping your toes into the water and start diving in head first.

The next blogging masterpiece isn’t going to write itself.

Are you ready?

Then let’s do this thing.

About the Author: Kevin J. Duncan runs Be A Better Blogger, where he uses his very particular set of skills to help people become the best bloggers they can be.

74 Comments

  1. Jaime Buckley
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 12:26:30

    Am I first? I need to be first….

    I know, I know, it’s a mental thing.

    I’ll comment next…just want my toe in the door!

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 12:31:10

      Hey Jaime,

      Yep, I think you’re first. Congratulations are in order. 🙂

      Reply

      • Jaime Buckley
        Nov 09, 2018 @ 10:34:47

        Wow, Kevin.

        Seriously, wow. Forgot how well you write and how deeply you inform.

        I missed that. Too many schmucks out there and most of them can’t comment worth a damn, either.

        *rolls eyes*

        Ya know, I’ve been a writer and blogging since 2004 and I’ve never heard of some of this stuff before. Maybe that’s because I’ve always done my own thing, eh?

        Didn’t we talk years ago when we first met, that I believed the future of blogging was going to be based on personalities and not SEO, platforms, etc?

        That was the very reason I signed up to follow your blog, Kevin, because your personality shines through in your writing and it was both entertaining and educational (if you forgot that by now). So first off, thanks for always being you—your success just proves my beliefs.

        Never heard of Medium. Looks very interesting and though I am a follower of the word and I daresay ’spewer of the word’, I doubt I’d use it.

        Not that there’s anything wrong with Medium, it’s just that I’ve learned my lesson about ‘free’ (spits on the ground) options and the terror that comes with it when you’re trying to build a business. Here’s a story that should curl your leg hairs…

        In 2007-2008 I wasn’t able to draw, so I built a business around promoting MLM companies and doing what the traditional distributors couldn’t do because they were restrained by the Policies and Procedure rules of the various companies.

        Poor schmucks.

        So I was hired by both companies and people to get the word out and craft a whirlwind of attention to funnel new inquiries and sales to any given product line or MLM team.

        One company paid me $29K a month to build them a national foundation, which I did, and one of those methods included several blogs using the ‘free’ (spits on ground) WordPress.com which I loved using. Over the course of a year, the few blogs I was running and writing brought me an additional $8,000/mo. which was strictly for me to take home to my wife and 9 kids.

        In a wild fight between financial companies online, the press covering the products I promoted got so bad—even though it was all false—that every one of my blogs were instantly shut off because WordPress didn’t want to be involved in the dogfight.

        Just like that, my personal income I’d built was gone. Flip of a switch, ‘poof’.

        Never had a ‘free’ (spits on ground) blog/website since then.

        Now, you got my attention with the Instagram—and thank you for using me as an example—never knew I was a Microblogger! Was cool and never knew it.

        Actually, I never considered blogging that way. The whole Social Media aspects of the web just mystify me. I’d rather have a conversation and laugh with folks myself. Instagram was used to make mini points and grab people’s attention, because, as you put it—it’s a visual platform and if there’s one thing a professional illustrator is—VISUAL.

        You never let me down in your presentation, Kevin. That’s why I’m your second biggest fan.

        Well, I’m probably the third now…you’re little girl has that spot alongside her mom (grin).

        Great to have you back, buddy. The internet completely sucks without you.

        Until the next brain-fart, I remain your faithful stalker and commenting comic relief.

        Jaime Buckley

      • Kevin J. Duncan
        Nov 09, 2018 @ 11:53:18

        Hi Jaime,

        You certainly are the Mozart of composing genuine, heartfelt, epic blog comments, my friend.

        Yes, I remember us talking about that. And I agree, it’s a big part of the equation…

        Because SO MANY bloggers are good at SEO, outreach, social media, etc.; it’s getting harder and harder to stand out. That’s where, as you state, personalities matter.

        The best bloggers/writers in my opinion are the ones who, if you read something they wrote, even if you didn’t know the name of the author, you’d know it was them.

        I don’t need to know it’s Scott Weiland (may he rest in peace) singing when I hear his voice on the radio. I know it’s him. I know his voice.

        So, that’s what I try (knock on wood) to do when I write. When someone reads…

        “As of June 2018, Instagram has 1 billion users worldwide. The previous September, they had 800 million users — a growth of 200 million in only nine months. Even if you subtract everyone who follows a Kardashian or has posted a photo of themselves impersonating a duck, Instagram offers an audience of well over 75 people.”

        …I want my readers to be able to go, “Ah, yeah… Kevin wrote that.”

        Sometimes I succeed with this goal. Sometimes I fail. But that’s the goal. 🙂

        Anyway…

        You’re welcome on the Instagram shout-out. And as for your “free (spits on ground”) story… yikes. That is awful.

        That truly is a “con” to every free platform, and it’s one I should have mentioned: you don’t own the platform. It, and your work, can be taken away at any time.

        Better hit POST before I write an epic rant…

        Thanks again for the great comment, buddy.

      • Jaime Buckley
        Nov 14, 2018 @ 09:54:51

        Ya know Kevin, I’ve started having conversations about this article and bringing Medium into play.

        I’ve been doing this, not because of the platform so much as because Medium brings something so important to light–an issue I talked about on my Life Is Like Fiction show yesterday:

        Our mode of ‘free’ communication has been taken over by large corporations, ads, and clickbait.

        Do you agree? Do you believe, Kevin, that the openness of a conversation between people of this world is now being monetized more often than not?

        I’m bothered by this. Deeply.

        Though I’m still thinking about Medium, this article (bless you) has me thinking about my own tactics, about my own messages, about how I address things in this world and especially online.

        Funny how it all comes back to what my darling wife told me:

        Just be you. That’s what people want. Be genuine.

        Thoughts?

      • Morphiophelius Smith (a.k.a. Chuck)
        Nov 14, 2018 @ 09:57:39

        You gettin’ sentimental on us now?

        I THOUGHT you were the king of creativity, the PRINCE original thought and comments….so whatdya have to worry about my boy?

        Get back to writing your next book and leave these poor souls alone.

        They have enough things to worry about than your emotional banter!

      • Dax
        Nov 14, 2018 @ 09:58:47

        Cool it, Chuck.

        The kids feeling passionate. You know he does his best work when his hearts into it.

        Let it go.

      • Morphiophelius Smith (a.k.a. Chuck)
        Nov 14, 2018 @ 10:02:27

        Have you forGOTTEN how long it’s been since he’s written about US, monkey?

        When’s the last time we went to the Black Market?

        When’s the last time you had a proper liver, banana and kelp sandwich?

        …and frankly, there are still too many people wearing spandex in this world, which should NOT be ignored–so with all due respect, my boy, why should we be sitting by while he contemplates whether or not he’s going to make MORE work for himself by using this Opium platform!?!

        It’s frustrating.

      • Dax
        Nov 14, 2018 @ 10:03:48

        “Medium”, Chuck. The platform the kid’s talking about is called Medium, not Opium.

        Opium I think is a drug.

      • Morphiophelius Smith (a.k.a. Chuck)
        Nov 14, 2018 @ 10:05:16

        Opium, Medium,….Apes playing Cricket in Norway…..DOES IT MATTER?!?

      • Dax
        Nov 14, 2018 @ 10:05:59

        Well,…..yeah.

        I’d watch Apes playing Cricket in Norway.

      • Morphiophelius Smith (a.k.a. Chuck)
        Nov 14, 2018 @ 10:06:29

        Good point.

        Me too.

      • Jaime Buckley
        Nov 14, 2018 @ 10:09:55

        Look, guys, relax, okay?

        My thoughts here about Medium are that it seems to be a fantastic method to get back to the power of the written word–and start having more conversations with people without all the clutter, that’s all.

        I’m not looking to make more work for myself, nor do I want to take more time away from you guys–OR the rest of the gang–but rather find a way to spend MORE time with you and to push that out to the world.

        Though I may not use Medium right now, this article and Kevin specifically has gotten me to think more about how I blog and specifically how I can alter the WAY I blog to become more effective and entertaining to readers.

        You two will play a key role in this, so stop sweating about it.

        Alright?

  2. Morphiophelius Smith (a.k.a. Chuck)
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 12:32:43

    DANG it boy!

    …and curse these old fingers for not responding faster.

    Glad to see you back in the game, Kevin. You’re a talent that makes the internet a much better place to visit and explore.

    Just wish you didn’t give Jaime more attention. You know he starts talking when you do that and we can’t control that genetic side of his personality.

    Think TWICE next time, alright?

    We should get together and down some Jell-O squares sometime.
    …I’ll bring the straws and Rocky theme music.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 14:12:39

      Hey Chuck,

      Glad you enjoyed the post! Yeah, it’s good to be back. Had to knock the rust off when I was writing this one. Think it turned out pretty good, though. 🙂

      I’ll try not to give Jaime attention, but it’s hard… he’s pretty talented, you know?

      Reply

      • Morphiophelius Smith (a.k.a. Chuck)
        Nov 09, 2018 @ 10:39:24

        Oh sure, *talented*

        If you could call playing the kazoo worthy of musical praise…

        …or throwing a wadded up piece of paper worthy of sending someone to the NBA…

        ….or microwaving a Hotpocket worthy of getting you onto The Great British Bakeoff!

        *PSHHHH!!*

        Like I tell folks in my line of work, ‘Pulling a rabbit out of a hat is child’s play. You pull a hat out of a rabbit and we’ll talk.”

      • Kevin J. Duncan
        Nov 09, 2018 @ 12:03:08

        Hey Chuck,

        In Jaime’s defense, properly microwaving a Hot Pocket isn’t easy.

        To paraphrase the great Jim Gaffigan: There’s only two ways to serve a microwaved Hot Pocket… ice cold in the middle, or boiling lava hot.

        If Jaime has figured out how to cook it perfectly, he demands our respect and admiration.

      • Jaime Buckley
        Nov 09, 2018 @ 16:23:49

        Well, I guess I won’t get respect OR admiration, cause the LAST thing you want me using is the microwave.

        Why didn’t someone TELL me you had to take the foil off the leftovers beFORE you put it in the microwave?

        …though the sparks really were pretty if I’m being honest.

      • Kevin J. Duncan
        Nov 09, 2018 @ 22:48:32

        Note to self: Write “The Definitive Guide for Using a Microwave Without Setting the Neighborhood on Fire” and send it to Jaime.

      • Jaime Buckley
        Nov 10, 2018 @ 16:56:28

        Will it include hot pads?

        ….hot pads would be nice as well as a manual.

        Just sayin….

  3. Ayodeji Awosika
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 12:53:37

    Hey Kevin,

    It’s good to see you back! I hope all is well with you and the little one.

    I’m glad you mentioned Medium first. It is, by far, the most meritocratic platform out there. Medium has personally helped me add 5 figures to my bank account AND email list. I know many foremerly unknown writers who landed book deals and built 6 and 7 figure business solely from Medium. It’s the place to be. It’s also great that you can republish all of your WordPress post to Medium without suffering a duplicate content penalty because of their import feature. I’m biased because of the success I’ve gained from using Medium, but I’m a total evangelist of the platform.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 14:16:04

      Hey Ayodeji,

      Thank you! It’s awesome to be back here at Smart Blogger. My first guest post for them went live… gosh, 4 years this month. It’s a blast every time I get the opportunity.

      The little one is doing great. She’s 2 now, which is hard to believe. She’s growing up so fast.

      That’s awesome to hear how well you’ve been doing with Medium! Shoot me an email with a link to your profile. I’d like to check it out and send a tweet or two promoting it. I might even want to pick your brain about how you’ve been using it.

      Thanks again!

      Reply

  4. Ryan Biddulph
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 12:54:13

    I love my self-hosted blog Kevin but goodness; Medium is easy peasy for using, a nice free blog add on to a self hosted joint. Rocking post, buddy.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 14:17:45

      Hey Ryan,

      Good to see you! It’s been a little while. Still blogging in paradise?

      Glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, I’m self-hosted WordPress, too, but the convenience of Medium is so nice. I really need to do better about levering the platform.

      Hope all is well on your end…

      Reply

      • Jaime Buckley
        Nov 10, 2018 @ 16:58:50

        If you already have a self-hosted blog (and I have many, many) …is there a good reason to utilize Medium as well?

        I mean, the written word is so important to me, but I’d love some feedback on what Medium could be used for.

        Suggestions?

      • Kevin J. Duncan
        Nov 10, 2018 @ 21:39:01

        Hey Jaime,

        Good question. If you already have a self-hosted WordPress site (as you do and as I do), Medium could be used to republish/repurpose content you’ve already created (with the goal of introducing it, and you, to a new audience).

        As an example, if you have written a series on a particular topic, you could republish Part 1 (tweaking the headline to fit Medium’s audience) and include a link at the end of the Medium post for people to read the rest of the series at your site.

        Chelsea Baldwin wrote a post about Medium republishing here at Smart Blogger. (Search for “How to Get More Traffic from Every Post by Republishing on Medium”.)

    • Jaime Buckley
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 10:42:58

      Ryann!

      Good to see you, buddy!! Yeah, I second Kevin’s question–still blogging in paradise?

      I’ve been out of the loop for a while, writing for kids and illustrating for authors–which makes showing up to this article extra special for me. Wonderful to see great people still in the sphere.

      Wish you all the best and even more success!

      Reply

  5. Charles Emmanuel
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 13:47:07

    Wow Kevin, am blown away by the debt and insight in this post.

    You know what?

    Everything you pointed out here is true…guest blogging for traffic works but credibility, influence and relationship building is the real thing.

    Thank you Kevin.

    You nailed it.

    And am off to share!

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 14:19:40

      Hey Charles,

      Thanks! I had a quite a few late night spent writing this one, so it’s great to hear people are digging it.

      Appreciate the tweet! I’ll head over to Twitter and thank you proper in a little bit.

      How are things on your end?

      Reply

  6. Esther
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 13:51:00

    Hey – just this morning I was looking for an easy platform to set a blog up for a new client of mine and this post came right into my inbox. What a perfect post. Thank you for this detailed and timely article!!

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 14:21:09

      Hey Esther,

      Sounds like perfect timing then! 🙂

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for taking the time to read it and leave me your comment. I hope things work out with your client’s new site!

      Reply

  7. Blaine Wilkerson
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 13:53:34

    Bravo Kevin, bravo! Well what do you know, you learn something every day! Had no idea that Medium is the “new” blogging recommendation. I dig it.

    I gotta go work on my Wilford Brimley blog now. Lots of work to do…

    Oh and thanks for this. Very helpful and very well done.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 14:23:16

      Blaine!

      It’s been forever. How are you doing, buddy?

      Hey, if you create a Wilford Brimley blog, I will gladly tweet it. It’s the fan club the interweb has needed for a long, long time.

      Glad you enjoyed the post! It was a lot of fun to write. It’d been over a decade since I’d used a free platform, so I had to do quite a bit of research for this one.

      How are you doing these days?

      Reply

  8. James Chartrand
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 15:23:08

    You wrote:

    “Forget Jon and Glen.”

    No, wait, actually, I wrote that. But since you didn’t listen the first time, it bears repeating. 😉

    This was actually a nice post to read. Your writing style is great, your down-to-business attitude and information is perfect, and there are lots of helpful instructions that tell anyone how to get started. I also like that you didn’t over-complicate things or write tons just for the sake of hitting a 5k word count.

    And I like that you quoted me. Even if you don’t listen…

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 15:30:09

      Hi James,

      Haha! Yeah, that’s a recurring theme in my life. Smart, successful people give me advice, and I fail to listen!

      Appreciate the kind words, James. They mean a lot coming from you. (I love your writing too.)

      I promise to listen to you next time, deal? 🙂

      Reply

  9. Mel Wicks
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 15:45:38

    Hey Kevin,
    So good to see you back in the saddle. Love your work (and, boy, did you put some work into this one). Medium’s definitely da bomb these days, but I hadn’t given as much credence to LinkedIn, which is an oversight. I’ll add that one to my growing list of things to do.
    Cheers, Mel

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 16:00:59

      Hi Mel,

      It’s good to BE back! Appreciate the kind words. (I’ve loved the posts you’ve written here too. And the guest post you wrote for Be A Better Blogger, too, of course!)

      Yeah, LinkedIn was the platform I had to do the most research. I really haven’t used it much. I think that will change, though. Maybe. Someday. Who knows. 🙂

      Reply

  10. Geoff English
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 18:16:41

    Hi Kevin,

    Amazing post. I love how many different ways there are to start blogging (for free!).

    I wish this post existed three years ago. I started with a self hosted site, which is fine, but I wish now that I had started free. Not because it isn’t worth the money mind you!

    If I’d started with a free blog I would have put less pressure on myself to write the most incredible, game-changing posts that I could (they definitely were not incredible, game-changing posts).

    If I’d started free I would have had the freedom to just relax and, I guess, learn how to write good.

    I would have had the freedom to stretch my legs, write a lot, find my voice, find my niche, and all of the other things that you really need to do before you have a shot at becoming a super star.

    Thanks so much for this post, it’s inspired to go and check out Medium and see what it’s all about.

    And thank’s for getting back in the game Kevin, I’m all the more grateful for it!

    God bless.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 19:05:11

      Hey Geoff,

      Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

      Yeah, while writing the post I had a similar thought… “I wish Medium existed back in 2005 when I was starting out.” It certainly would have made things easier for me.

      Of course, “easier” can be a trap in some ways. Maybe it’s good that you pushed yourself to write epic posts three years ago to justify your self-hosted WordPress costs? Maybe it was good for me that I had to roll up my sleeves and learn WordPress inside and out? I didn’t realize it at the time (since I was running a humor blog of all things), but that background became invaluable when I started Be A Better Blogger.

      Anyway, yeah, it’s fun to play the “what if” game. 🙂

      Shoot me an email or tweet if you end up trying Medium. I’d love to check it out and give your first few posts some tweets!

      Thanks again, Geoff. Great comment.

      God bless you too.

      Reply

  11. Rae
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 19:28:50

    Really great article and well thought out Kevin. I enjoyed it thoroughly and am finally giving LinkedIn a second thought because of it 😀

    Hey, just one point on the Instagram platform. Linktree could be used to display multiple links via your bio link…and its free too! Check it out and let me know what you think.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 19:41:25

      Hey Rae,

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Good to know it’s made you rethink LinkedIn! Take it you’re a business professional then (or looking to reach them)?

      I hadn’t heard of Linktree, but thanks for the tip. I do love free. 🙂

      Reply

      • Rae
        Nov 09, 2018 @ 06:33:02

        Lol of course Linktree has a paid version too where you could further customize the look of the tree to match ur brand. I’ll continue to use the free one until my sites are set up just right and my cashflow will allow.

        And yes, I’ve decided to focus on my skill as an Information Systems Specialist and Project Manager so it would be perfect for that going forward. Your article came in the nick of time 🙂

      • Kevin J. Duncan
        Nov 09, 2018 @ 11:34:56

        Hi again Rae,

        Yeah, I saw they had a paid version too. Biggest perk of it, for me anyway, would be removing the company branding.

        Oh yes, LinkedIn is a great option for you if you’re a Project Manager. Good luck with it!

  12. Faith'spen
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:38:30

    This post blew me away. I’m still new in the blogosphere- 10 months old, though. The Medium app is seated comfortably on my device but have been ignored in months. It’s high time I took to action your recommendation about it. Thank you so much for sharing this important piece. An excellent read to return to again and again.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:57:08

      Hi Faith,

      Thank you! A lot can happen in ten months, I bet. How’s blogging treating you?

      You’re very welcome. If you do try Medium, send me a tweet at @kevinjduncan so I can check it out.

      Good luck!

      Reply

  13. Virginia Reeves
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:44:15

    Thanks for a great overview Kevin. I’ve been using LinkedIn for weekly articles for about three years. Super easy. I simply copy and paste an article from my hard drive. I keep several pictures in my photo file that I get mainly from pixabay.com. Glad to know Medium is also so easy. I’d not gotten into WordPress as I am not at a point where I want to build a business.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:59:22

      Hey Virginia,

      You’re very welcome. Thank YOU for the great comment.

      Wow, so sounds like you’re a pro at publishing on LinkedIn. Three years doing anything in the blogging world is an achievement. How’s LinkedIn been going for you?

      Reply

  14. Philip V Ariel
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 23:14:59

    Hey, Kevin,
    Good to see you here again with a rocking post after a gap.
    Amazing to know the magic Medium can do with us!
    Though I am a member there, I really neglected the golden opportunity it offers!
    Thanks Kev for this shout out!
    Will surely be active again!
    Yes, Kevin as someone said it really inspired me to be more active on Medium.
    Second in line is WP it’s really a great platform with lot of features, but before the I started using Google’s Blogger pages, but now shifted to WP with a own domain, that’s really amazing and doing good to me, though it cost a bit, I am happy with it and of course the monetary benefits are on a higher side if use it wisely.
    Of course, LinkedIn too is a an amazing page for professionals.
    Lately I am into Instagram, and that’s really an eye capturing experience. But I did not get you when you mentioned about the 2,200 word limit there, is it the text and hashtags we write under the images? I am there with pvariel123
    Coming to blog comments, it’s my life! Yes, you read it, and I said it!
    I entered into this areana of blogging as a blog comment author.
    I could influence many thru my comments.
    I wrote a post on my page about this amazing strategy under the title ‘ The power of blog comments’ Yes, this amazing strategy anyone can follow and gain more. Our value added comments can do wonders!
    Thanks Kevin for sharing this valuable information through this EPIC post
    I am bookmarking it for my further read.
    Best Regards
    ~ Philip Ariel

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 00:41:56

      Hey Philip,

      Thanks for the warm welcome. It’s good to be back!

      Yeah, all the platforms have good things to offer. Good to hear you’re having success with your self-hosted WordPress, though. That’s what I’m using, as is Smart Blogger here. 🙂

      Yes, the 2,200 character limit for Instagram is for their captions (the text you write to accompany the image). If you’re used to keeping messages short due to Twitter, that number is plenty. But it’s something to consider. (Me, I would have a lot of trouble keeping my captions short!)

      Thanks again for the kind words, Philip. Hope you’re having a great day.

      Reply

    • Jaime Buckley
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 10:51:15

      Philip, Philip, Philip….

      How’s my little brother on the other side of the planet?!?

      If there’s one person with kindness, passion and focus on blogging, it’s you my friend.

      Kevin’s spot on about the Instagram character limit, but there a couple other things you’ll want to consider–so here are a few little tips:

      • Try and place your message in the art, not the character section.
      • When you craft your hashtags, know that there’s a 30 title limit–so you can only use 30 hashtags, which may seem extreme, but it’s not…
      • When you use hashtags, form them in a ‘story’–so if I was to do a family post, I would use general family hashtags and slowly work my way down to the specific hashtags.
      • Try to use hashtags that have 60,000 or less uses and you’ll get seen more–or at least that’s what I’ve experienced.
      • Create patterns with your posts to add visual candy when people look at your profile.

      Hope those tips help you or anyone else here. It’s all be trial and error, but hey–I love the visual mediums!

      Good to see you Philip!!!

      Reply

  15. Stella
    Nov 09, 2018 @ 00:17:51

    Good day to start my day.. thanks Kevin for the wonderful blog.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 00:43:08

      Hi Stella,

      Thanks! Your day is starting, mine is ending. (I should have gone to bed hours ago, in fact.) 🙂

      Reply

  16. Vatsala Shukla
    Nov 09, 2018 @ 00:23:54

    Hi Kevin, Good to ‘see’ you again!

    I’d put a caveat for using LinkedIn publisher. Nowadays the publishing side doesn’t get much mileage and is no longer included as a factor for determining your SSI. So if you want people to read the post, you have to literally tell them whether via the newsfeed or messages. This is a new development with the change in algorithms.

    Having said that, publishing articles is good for improving one’s LI profile and adding strength to it.

    I prefer blogging on my self-hosted website to get some Google attention. 🙂

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 00:48:27

      Hi Vatsala,

      Good to “see” you again too! It’s been awhile.

      Believe it or not, I was about to email you. Since I’m back in the wonderful world of blogging after a hiatus, to reconnect with readers I’ve started emailing anyone who has ever left me a comment at Be A Better Blogger. Wanted to touch base, see how they are doing (and maybe tell them about this new Smart Blogger post). 🙂

      Thanks for the LinkedIn tip. It’s the lone publishing platform discussed in the post I’ve never personally used. Writing about Medium, WordPress.com, Instagram, and guest blogging was like reconnecting with old friends. LinkedIn? Yeah, I had to do a lot of research!

      How are things in your neck of the woods? Still blogging?

      Reply

  17. Vatsala Shukla
    Nov 09, 2018 @ 01:06:27

    I was wondering where you had disappeared, Kevin, and was delighted to see your email earlier this morning.

    I actually tested the LinkedIn publisher a few weeks back thanks to a group discussion back in a Facebook Group. There was someone spouting SEO virtues and I do have syndicated articles on LI but had stopped posting so thought, give it a shot and see what’s new. Compared to a view of approximately 9k in the past, I got a measly 15 for the latest one. QED.

    Micro blog in the newsfeed is the better option.

    I’m still blogging for my business website but have changed my strategy to 2 new detailed posts a month with content update and upgrade for my older posts.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 11:40:13

      Hi again Vatsala,

      It does my heart good to know so many of you had wondered why I had disappeared! All the more reason I’m happy to be back. 🙂

      So your LinkedIn views went from 9k to 15? Wow. Yeah, that’s a huge algorithm change on their part then. It’s enough to make someone go from “let me write as many as I can” to “why even bother?”

      Glad to hear you’re still blogging! I like your content strategy. It sounds very similar to what Jon and the gang are doing here.

      Good luck with it, Vatsala. Thanks again.

      Reply

  18. Lidiya
    Nov 09, 2018 @ 03:26:24

    Great stuff, Kevin. Thanks!

    We really live in the best possible times for anyone to become a blogger and make something big out of this 🙂

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 11:06:47

      Hi Lidiya,

      Yes we do! Isn’t technology amazing?

      Glad you enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun to write. 🙂

      Reply

  19. Icy Sedgwick
    Nov 09, 2018 @ 04:09:34

    Great post, Kevin!

    I started out blogging way back in 2009 on Blogger…finally graduated to self-hosted WordPress in 2014! But I think I needed that time to get the hang of blogging.

    I now teach design students and we get them to keep blogs rather than handwritten journals and we get them onto WordPress.com now. It’s nice and stable and if they decide they want to keep up blogging when their course is finished, they can export the contents for a self-hosted blog!

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 11:13:50

      Hi Icy,

      Thank you!

      Wow, so you’re an old timer like me. (I started with a “Xanga” blog back in 2005.) Graduated to self-hosted WordPress the following year!

      That sounds like a great walkthrough for your students. Originally in this post, I called WordPress.com the best “stepping stone” platform for that very reason — because of its ease when graduating to self-hosting WordPress.

      I’d probably use Medium if I was starting in 2018. Kevin From 2005 would have loved its simplicity! 🙂

      Thanks for the comment, Icy. And the tweet!

      Reply

  20. Anne Guillot
    Nov 09, 2018 @ 06:29:00

    Hi Kevin,
    so nice to see you again!
    I really appreciate the tip about Medium. To me, Medium was great for business and personal development, but I would never have thought about it for health and nutrition.
    After reading your post here, I did a quick search and realized dietitians like myself also write on Medium.
    So, I now have a new opportunity to put myself out there, which is great.
    Thank you so much!
    Anne

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 11:20:55

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks! It feels nice knowing I was missed. 🙂

      You’re very welcome. That was one of the real, surprising (for me) discoveries when I put together this post: how versatile Medium is as a blogging platform. The lack of customization would aggravate me, sure, but if I was just starting out? In 2018? It would have everything I need.

      Good luck putting yourself out there! Tweet me at @kevinjduncan if you start using it. I’d love to check it out.

      Reply

  21. Mustakim
    Nov 10, 2018 @ 02:18:03

    yes really a blogging is a platform that you can show your talent and knowledge

    Reply

  22. Lorraine Reguly
    Nov 10, 2018 @ 02:55:44

    Kevin, I love the layout of this post. You made it so simple for people to decide what they want to do if they have never blogged before!

    Wording Well is almost 5 years old. I’ve been blogging for 6. I’m currently using all platforms but Instagram is the one I use the least. Then again, like you said, it is mostly for visual stuff, and I work primarily with words!

    I do editing and I help others become authors (like me!).

    I’m off to Tweet this post out now. It is very share-worthy! <3

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 10, 2018 @ 13:10:01

      Hi Lorraine,

      Thank you! Yeah, with so much info and so many words (over 5k), getting the layout and structure right were key. Glad to hear I got it right!

      Congrats on your blog reaching the 5-year mark! That’s an eternity in blogging years. 🙂

      Thanks for the tweet! And for the great comment. Glad to hear you’re doing well.

      Reply

  23. Zara Pradyer
    Nov 10, 2018 @ 07:15:29

    Just a quick thank you, Kevin.
    So grateful for your clear, concise summary of free blog sites.
    The only topic that I have a passion for (apart from ‘cats that look like Hitler) is extraordinarily obscure. But, it might be useful for a tiny but appreciative audience – (undoubtedly uneconomic other than on a free site).
    I am therefore toying with Medium once I have confected a good ‘hook ‘em in’ headline.
    Thanks, Kevin. Please accept my best for your continued success.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 10, 2018 @ 13:19:41

      Hi Zara,

      Welcome back! It wouldn’t be “a Smart Blogger post written by Kevin” if I didn’t have a kind, witty comment from Zara. Thank you. I really appreciate the support. 🙂

      Trying to think of a topic more obscure than “cats that look like Hitler.” Maybe “food that looks like cats that look like Hitler”?

      Good luck if you do toy around with Medium! Shoot me a tweet at @kevinjduncan if you get it set up. I’d love to check it out. Might even promote it with a tweet or two. 🙂

      Appreciate the kind words and well wishes! Hope you have a great weekend, Zara.

      Reply

  24. Hannah Edia
    Nov 10, 2018 @ 14:13:12

    Kevin,

    So glad you are back!
    I like how you have laid this out in a simple, organized way – newbies can run with it. I definitely have heard of medium and read articles on it but not published anything yet.

    I really look forward to the day I’ll hit the publish button on Medium. Thanks so much for this post.

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 10, 2018 @ 21:20:35

      Hi Hannah,

      Good to see you! It’s been a while.

      So glad you enjoyed the post. Let me know if you end up trying Medium, okay? I’ll check it out. 🙂

      Reply

  25. Nick
    Nov 13, 2018 @ 08:12:08

    Glad to see you back in business, it’s a great article. I notice that in recent years, more and more gaining popularity large and extensive articles. On the one hand, in one place you can find all the information you need, and on the other hand, the article is very, very large. How many people will read it to the end? I like that you touch on different points of view, because without it it is impossible to argue the point of view, is not it? Please continue in the same spirit, do not leave us without the new articles!

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 13, 2018 @ 11:40:17

      Hey Nick,

      Thank you! It’s good to be back. 🙂

      Reply

  26. Hugh Beaulac
    Nov 14, 2018 @ 02:37:10

    Hi Kevin!

    Thanks for such a great post! I mentioned one thing: talking about Instagram, you wrote the following idea – “Limited to one hyperlink (in your bio)”. In fact, it’s possible to add another clickable link in your Stories if you have 10k+ followers. Plus, you can always collaborate with Instagram influencers to drive traffic to your blog.

    Maybe you can find this info useful.
    Cheers!

    Reply

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Nov 14, 2018 @ 09:02:57

      Hi Hugh,

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Since I’m a tad shy of 10k followers on Instagram (the understatement of the century), I’ll have to take your word for it. 🙂

      Partnering with influencers on Instagram is a good tip, and it’s a “pro” of Instagram I could have mentioned. Not to say it’s easy, but it’s easier to do on Instragram than on the other platforms we mentioned.

      Appreciate the great comment, Hugh. Hope you’re having a great day!

      Reply

  27. Anne R. Allen
    Nov 14, 2018 @ 17:25:46

    Great run-down. I used to recommend Medium, too. Good for book authors whose medium is text, not images, even though you don’t actually have your own blog. But Medium has become extremely reader-unfriendly. I used to get a Medium digest every morning, with articles in my fields of interest listed. Then they started charging for “premium” content. No problem–as long as they labeled premium content as such. You’re allowed 3 non-premium articles a month. But they changed their policy and they now won’t tell you which ones are premium, so you use up your 3 articles on day one just trying to find out which ones cost $$. It’s a nasty game of bait and switch that keeps a whole lot of people from ever reading a Medium article again. So it’s only a useful blogging platform if your target demographic is wealthy people who are willing to pay to read you–even if your own articles are free. Not a good way to expand your reach, IMO. Better to freelance for a journal that will pay you some of what they’re taking in.

    And please, please, please can I beg you to advise people who want to guest blog to visit the blog before querying? I get 100s of queries a week and less than 1% have any idea that my blog, called “Writing about writing. Mostly,” is about writing. No, we don’t want your make-up tips! Sigh.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Share
Pin
Tweet
Share