Looking to start a blog?
Then you’ll need to get a web hosting service.
As a beginner, it can be confusing and downright overwhelming once you see all the choices available.
I still remember the time I started my first blog. And, seeing all sorts of free and paid blog hosting providers.
…But, not knowing what the difference was or which one was better than the other.
If you’re feeling that right now…
In this article, you’ll understand what a blog host is and why you need one.
You’ll also see who the best free webhosting services are.
And, if you should go with a free or paid blog host.
So let’s get started.
What is Website Hosting (Blog Hosting)?
Blog hosting providers allow your website to be seen online (on the web).
They do so by “hosting” your blog on web servers. These servers along with their network connections enable your site’s visitors to see your content when they enter your blog’s name on their browsers.
To ensure that your website is up 24/7, 365 days a year, they use thousands of servers together, in what’s called “server farms”. So, if one machine goes down or crashes, another device can quickly take its place.
This way, your site ALWAYS stays online even when glitches in their system happen.
This is why having a reliable web host is essential for every blogger. It ensures that your website is always up and your blog loads quickly.
When it comes to web hosting for beginners, I highly recommend BlueHost. It’s very affordable and easy to use. Plus, it offers excellent customer support.
Best Free Website Hosting for Bloggers
Like most things online, there are free and paid (self-hosted) web hosting services.
Besides their pricing, the main difference between the two is your ability to monetize your blog.
With paid web hosting (which is also called a self-hosted blog), you’re able to make money with your blog however way you want.
You own the website… So, you can monetize it the way you see fit.
Free webhosts are cheaper, mainly because you don’t spend anything to use them.
But, in order for them to keep operating as a business, they do need to make money somewhere. In most cases, that’s through ads.
That’s why free web hosts often have ads in them.
Additionally, they’ll have certain rules you need to follow, including how you can and can’t monetize your blog.
This is why I highly suggest going with a paid web host like BlueHost if you plan on making money with your blog.
On the other hand, if your blog is more of a hobby or you don’t plan on making money with it, then using a free web host is the way to go.
That said, here are the best free web hosting services around.
WordPress comes in two varieties: WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
Both are free. But, there’s a difference…
- WordPress.com is a free hosting service. That is, you can sign up and they’ll host your blog for you. T
- WordPress.org needs to be downloaded and installed in a web server. This is the version that’s used by paid web host services. The good news is, blog hosts like BlueHost have one-click WordPress installation setups that lets you get everything up and running within 5 minutes.
WordPress is what you’d call a blog platform.
That is, it’s a piece of software that’s installed on your blog host.
It lets you create, edit and design your blog without having to know a line of code!
That lets you focus on blogging and not the tech stuff.
Better yet, it lets you customize the look and function of your site by offering thousands of themes and plugins. Together, they allow you to adjust the style, color, design and features of your website.
This is why WordPress is used by over 30% of all websites on the internet, making it the most popular blog platform around.
As such, I highly recommend using WordPress.
And, if you plan on making money with your blog, sign up with BlueHost, which costs as low as $2.75/month (with this discount link). It comes with WordPress which you can quickly install with just one click.
Wix is another popular free hosting service.
In part, it’s probably because they run a lot of ads online, including YouTube. You’ve probably seen some of them!
That said, its popularity is warranted.
That’s because it comes with a very easy to use website builder.
For me, that’s it’s biggest selling point.
Unlike WordPress, which uses word editor that looks somewhat like Microsoft Word, Wix uses a drag and drop design. This lets you drag different components say a text box, image or video frame to create content.
This makes it easier to use. And, allows you to design the look of your blog home page and posts easier.
Wix offers free and paid packages.
- The free package comes with ads, limited space and you don’t get your own domain (blog) name.
- If you want your own domain and remove Wix’s ads, plans start at $8.50/month.
This allows you to start with a free subscription and upgrade if you want to start monetizing your blog.
- Drag and Drop feature makes it easy to use and very user-friendly
- You can easily design the look of your site, which works great for designers, artists and creatives
- You’ll be able to get your site up faster because of the shorter learning curve
- You can start out with the free plan then move up
- Lots of design templates you can choose from
- Good customer support
- Isn’t as versatile or customizable as WordPress
- You don’t own your blog
- Free version comes with ads and you don’t get a domain name
- Lower plans are very limited for bloggers
Weebly is very similar to Wix in that it comes with a drag and drop interface as well.
And, like Wix, it offers both free and paid plans.
The free version sets your blog up as a subdomain, meaning your blog name looks more like:
That’s not very professional looking, which is why it’s only a good idea to get free hosting if blogging is a hobby.
You also get 500 MB of storage with that.
Paid plans start at $5.00/month and go all the way up to $25.00/month depending on what you need. Do note that these prices apply if you pay annually. If you pay monthly, the cost a bit higher.
Weebly isn’t as popular as Wix.
It also has less features and functionality though pricing is competitive.
Blogger is one of the oldest, if not the oldest free blogging site.
It’s owned by Google, which means you can use your Google account to sign up for the service.
Blogger is very similar to WordPress.com in that you’ll be using a more traditional text editor as opposed to the drag and drop interface.
As such, it isn’t as easy to use (in the beginning) as Wix or Weebly.
But like them, your blog gets hosted in a subdomain. In this case, you’ll get a “.blogspot.com” after your site’s name.
That said, blogger does offer fewer design templates you can use. Unlike WordPress it doesn’t have any plugins. This means you aren’t going to be able to add extra functionality to what’s already there.
As such, Blogger is ideal only if you want to blog as a hobby or make a personal blog. It isn’t well suited for making money despite the fact that you can use Google Adsense with it.
- It’s free
- Very easy to setup
- Simple interface
- You can use your Google account to sign up
- Not too many design options
- No plugins to add functionality
- Less advanced compared with those above
Tumblr is somewhat different to the other services above.
It’s somewhat a hybrid between a blogging platform and social network (at least by definition of the term before Facebook and the other modern social media platforms you see nowadays.)
Some people even call it a microblogging platform because it was really meant for shorter content. This is why you’ll see a lot of Tumblr posts consisting of one or two images, videos or even paragraphs.
Like Blogger, Tumblr is one of the older platforms around. And, it hasn’t really changed all that much in terms of functionality.
Interesting, did you know that there are over 475 million blogs on Tumblr?
That said, it’s fairly limited in terms of design and functionality. Like blogger, you’re not able to add plugins, which makes it hard to add things like email opt in forms, security and SEO features.
For this reason, Tumblr falls in the same category as Blogger in that they’re ideal if you want to blog for fun and hobby.
- Very simple to use
- Community and simple social networking features
- Limited designs and features
- You need to pay if you want to use premium themes
- No plugins to add more functionality
Medium is very different from the other blogging platforms on our list.
With Medium, you don’t really have your own blog.
Instead, you sign up as a user and write for Medium’s blog under your username.
As such, it’s more like one big blog where you can publish your stories and articles.
This means it isn’t well-suited if you want to make money or establish a brand. That’s because you don’t own the traffic you receive, can’t place ads or collect email addresses on it.
That said, it works well in helping you get your name out there.
By writing on Medium, you can connect with other bloggers and get exposure for your blog.
- You can piggy-back on Medium’s high authority to get exposure for brand and blog
- Easy to use, no setup needed. Just sign up and start writing
- It’s free
- You can’t set up your own blog
- No design features so your page looks like everyone else’s
- Medium owns everything you put on their site
Why You Should (Almost) Want to Pay for Web Hosting
The only exceptions to this rule are:
- If you don’t need to make money from your blog.
- If you want a place to write your journal or a personal blog.
For everything else, going with a paid web hosting service (or a self-hosted blog) is the way to go.
Basically, it comes down to the limitations of free blog hosts, which include:
- You don’t own the blog. This means they can delete your account or shut your website down any time.
- They’ll put their own ads on your blog. This also means you can’t earn money with your own ads.
- You won’t be able to use certain monetization strategies
- No domain name. Instead, you’ll be using their subdomain.
- You can’t collect emails to build your own list
- Limited storage space
- Design and functionality are limited as well
All in all, it comes down to your ability to make money from your blog.
… And ownership.
Best “Nearly” Free Website Hosting
So what should you do instead?
Go with either of the two paid web hosting services below.
With them, you own your blog.
…Which means you can write whatever you want and monetize it however way you want.
In short, you get total control.
This is my #1 recommendation for beginners.
BlueHost is one of the largest web hosting companies around.
But, it isn’t just about size…
It’s about performance, service and pricing.
At $2.75 per month, BlueHost is very affordable. That makes it perfect for beginners, even if you’re on a tight budget.
But what I really like about it is you get excellent reliability.
It guarantees 99.9% uptime, offers 24/7 customer support, gives you 50GB of disk space and unlimited bandwidth.
You also get a free domain when signing up, free domain email addresses for your brand and easy one-click WordPress installation.
SiteGround is my top pick if you have some experience under your belt. Or, you’re more of an intermediate blogger.
From my experience, it’s faster, comes with custom tools to optimize your blog and one of the best customer support teams I’ve come across.
The one setback is it costs more than BlueHost.
As such, it’s a better option if you’re already making money with your blog and want something to take you to the next level.
As a beginner, I recommend saving the extra cash for other blogging costs.
Nothing in this world comes for free.
…When they do, you know there’s always a trade-off somewhere.
That’s the case with free blog hosting.
They take away your ability to monetize your website the way you want or need to.
Thus, a better option is to go with “almost-free” web hosting.
At $2.75 per month, BlueHost gives you ownership of your blog, your own domain name and the ability to make money blogging via ads, affiliate marketing or even selling digital products or services.
This lets you start your online business without having to worry about suddenly getting shut down by your free web hosting service (and losing all your hard work).