by Hannah Brown, Europe Blogger jaBlog!
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
Most publishers and agents prefer aspiring writers to have a social media platform prior to publishing, be it Twitter, Facebook, even a Wattpad or Instagram account. However, another way to get a great readership is a blog.
Other great reasons for having a blog? You can get your voice out there (most of the time, for free); feedback is often given (also for free!); most of all, you can help other people! For example, on my own blog, I post articles with writing advice every week. And look at jaBlog! How many of you have been helped by a post there?
If you want to set up a blog, there are several sites you can use. Here are 10.5 free blog sites for writers; they are free unless you want to buy your own domain. But that comes later.
WordPress can give you a free domain, a brilliant look, and hundreds of views. You can queue posts, add pages, and place things called “widgets” to your page, which can then link up to other platforms, like Twitter and Facebook. Although WordPress is probably the most famous blog, don’t let it’s reputation deter you. It’s easy to use, quick in uploading posts, and you can start blogging within the hour. And if you don’t want that “.wordpress.com” after your name, you can upgrade for $13/year to get your own domain (URL).
Blogger is another well-known platform. It’s connected to your Google profile; if you don’t have one, you have to sign up to use it (this also then gives you Gmail, Google Docs, etc.). Then, you can either blog connected to your Google profile, or under a pseudonym. Like WordPress, Blogger can look very professional; unlike WordPress, you can edit the HTML. Since Blogger can be connected to your Google+ account, it’s great for a personal blog, too.
Aah, the famous Tumblr. I’m sure you’ve all heard of it. Tumblr is a free domain blog, owned by Yahoo. Tumblr has a varied community, and it’s mainly a host for GIFs (moving images), pictures and videos––not so much long pieces of text. If you want a place to promote your writing (especially if it is fanfiction) then Tumblr is great, but bare in mind that not many people will stick around to read a big piece. However, it has awesome customizations, and due to the number of people who like to “reblog,” you could get a fairly wide readership.
This is different from the WordPress I’ve outlined above. The main difference is that you have to download WordPress.org to your computer. However, it’s then much more flexible than it’s online counterpart, enabling you to edit your HTML, add in plugins, and choose from a wider variety of themes. But––and this is a big but––WordPress.org costs money, so perhaps it isn’t best for a young person who is just trying to get their voice out there. $7/month to host, with an additional $10+/month for a custom domain name. However, “.org” has less restrictions than “.com”––even though you may need to be a tech-genius to maneuver your way through it.
Personally, I’ve never tried this blog, but now that I’ve looked into it, it looks pretty cool! On the downside, it isn’t free––the cheapest is $8/month (although you can get a free 14-day trial). However, if you decide to go for a WordPress.com, Tumblr or Blogger blog first, you can then change your mind and import it. Squarespace can also give you (free) custom domains, themes you can customise that still look great, and a drag and drop feature, meaning it is ridiculously simple to edit your website. Furthermore, all images are uploaded by Squarespace in a variety of sizes, so your website will look great on any device. Finally, Squarespace offers 24/7 customer service––and a 50% discount on your first year for students!
Not your obvious blogging site, because it’s not a blogging site, Weebly can give you a professional looking website. The only downside is that if you don’t upgrade, which means paying, you can have a maximum of 5 pages (which isn’t that many––look how many this website has!). If you’re looking for somewhere to showcase your work, perhaps this is it. On the other hand, it’s perhaps not the greatest for an eager blogger.
If you’re after a personal blog, you can use Facebook Notes on your own profile. A downside is that, although you can customise who out of your Facebook friends sees the note, only your friends can view it. However, if you want to reach to a wider audience (and, as Facebook has over 1.1 million users, this is quite large!) you can create a Facebook Page (for example, LTC’s PollyWantstobeaWriter page or Laura’s LauraThomasAuthor page). Just be aware that, like Tumblr, people don’t always want to be reading large chunks of text. If you look at the PollyWantstobeaWriter page, much of it is writing advice in pictures or a few lines. However, if you don’t have as much time to commit to a blog, perhaps Facebook is the place for you. You can also add Notes to your Facebook Page––a potential location for you to place longer articles.
Are you looking for a slick, good-looking blog? Silvrback can give you all that and more. Your followers can sign up by email, to receive alerts every time you post. Silvrback includes tons of cool features. You can link it with your Twitter, have a bio, and readers can even comment on posts. There’s even a new, great looking home page! A downside? Silvrback isn’t too well known yet. Still, if you want to get started before it gets popular, the time is now! This could mean your readership may not be as wide as, say, Facebook, WordPress, or Tumblr. Also, Silvrback isn’t free, even though the fee is less expensive than several other sites ($29.99/year after a 14-day trial).
Simply, Medium is simple. Easy to use, with a basic uniform look for everyone (aside from a photo and the text), Medium may not be the obvious choice for a blogger, but I’m told it’s full of authors sharing book excerpts and artists sharing their work. I noticed it was much like ReadWave – the main difference being that on Medium people tend to share longer works, and on ReadWave it’s limited to 3-minute (800 word) pieces. So, whilst Medium may not be a great place for sharing your articles, it’s a good platform to share your experiences.
Wattpad is my dread half on this list. It’s rather well known, but this website is primarily used for stories––fiction, fanfiction and poetry. There’s always stories about about young writers on this website being fatefully discovered and picked up for contracts by big time literary agents. Wattpad also has a “non-fiction” section, which gets a high amount of readers as well. Why not use this to your advantage, and create a blog book? For example, you could create multiple blogs, including one about your personal writing journey and one chock full of writing advice for others!
So there you have it: 10.5 free blog sites for writers. My personal recommendation for a budding young blogger looking for a free host for their blog is WordPress.com. But if money is less of an issue, why not try Squarespace?
What are you waiting for? If you’ve never blogged a day in your life, this could finally be your chance to give it a go. If you do have a blog, which platform do you use? Do you like it?
Hannah hosts her own blog, Sprinkled With Words, on WordPress.com.