You've been playing games or reading some books, and you want to share your passion with the world. The problem is that you're on a tight budget and don't have either the time or the money to start a personal blog.
What options are available to you? Here are three platforms that you can start from without too much hassle or investment.
Starting an account on Medium is free. You don't have to pay a single penny to start publishing there.
Medium itself is also a great source of targeted traffic. You can write on different topics if you want, and Medium will refer readers interested in those topics to your article.
Another benefit of Medium over the rest of the list is that you can actually make money on the platform by joining the MPP (Medium Partner Program) and putting your pieces under the paywall. When paying Medium Members read your story, you get paid a portion of their monthly subscription money.
As of 2021, Medium also allows you to collect email addresses at the bottom of your articles. They do not allow you to choose what gets sent over an email to your subscribers, but that feature will be coming soon, too.
If you plan to open a branded blog, you can also open a Publication on Medium, which acts as a fully-fledged magazine. You can send letters to your subscribers, manage a team of writers and editors, and operate a completely free business on the platform.
With Medium's traffic engine, it's an excellent place to start your creative journey. People pay to read on Medium every month, and these people are interested in a plethora of topics. If you niche down and write excellent articles, Medium will help put your words in front of more eyes and build your audience.
Just don't forget your long game! You're not on Medium to operate primarily from Medium. You're on Medium to build an audience that you can then take to your platform. Focus on giving great content and using Medium's email list building feature to create that list.
You probably didn't expect a social media platform to be on this list. Let me explain myself.
There's a considerable difference between Instagram and other social media platforms. On Facebook, every post you publish dies in minutes. It's easier to discover you through tags on Twitter, but there's so much content on the platform that no one will ever see you. You need to craft personal relationships with people on Twitter so that they won't gloss over when they see you on their feed. Instagram is different.
First, using tags can put your posts in front of thousands of people in minutes.
Second, Instagram employs on-platform SEO, which means that you can show up on someone's feed days after a post's original publishing date.
Third, you can write up to 2200 characters on Instagram captions. If you have a simple outline of what you want to say, you can condense your blog post ideas and publish them on Instagram.
Fourth, Instagram comments are flexible. You can have several meaningful conversations with people in the comments on your photo. This feature helps build a community—something you ought to be thinking about from the beginning.
Instagram is also free. You don't need to spend money to get started. And the visual aspect of it will allow you to develop your unique style and voice.
So, what's the catch? Why don't more people open "blogs" on Instagram? Because we don't own the audience. One day, Instagram could change the algorithm, making you lose all of the eyeballs you used to get on your posts.
So, why do I still recommend it? Because you can build an email list from Instagram. People who are interested in your content will want to follow you. And they will have to go to your bio to do so. There it's your opportunity to wow them with your bio with something that will interest them. Make them click your link and sign up to your email list to get it.
Substack / Revue
Both Substack and Revue offer a writer to open a newsletter-based blog. The difference between a regular blog and those services is the delivery. In Substack or similar websites, any post you publish goes straight to your email subscribers via email.
If you plan to start a newsletter instead of a fully-fledged blog, this could be an exciting proposition for you.
Do note, though, that both of these platforms do not help you build an audience. They will offer excellent deliverability and rich formatting options, but they don't have tools to help potential new readers to discover your newsletter.
Both platforms allow you to gate specific posts to paying members and start a membership business on their platform. This way, you can monetize the newsletter and offer that extra for people excited by your content.
While Substack is entirely free to use and takes a percentage of your members' payments, Revue is free only for the first 50 subscribers - and when you have paid members - it will take a 6% transaction fee from your earnings.
I've talked about three leading platforms I'm recommending new creators. Let's see some more options if your wallet is a little larger, or your needs are a bit different.
Ghost is open-source and is growing fast. My website, which you might be reading this article on, was built with Ghost.
Hosting your website with Ghost.org costs money. It's $29 per month for up to 1000 subscribers. If you have that kind of money to spare, you'll get a lot of value in return.
If you're knowledgeable about launching a server, you can deploy Ghost on your own. The software is open-source and doesn't cost a cent.
But beware, if you deploy it on your own, you will have to integrate an email server to make sure you send messages that won't go to the spam folder.
If you're interested in a full-on guide on how to set up your own Ghost server, let me know in the comments below, and I'll make it happen!
WordPress as a software is excellent for new bloggers. It has lots of online support, plugins, and extensions.
Same with Ghost, you can self-host a blog without paying for the software.
I don't highly recommend you open a blog on Wordpress.com because you are very limited in what you can do with it. If you're looking for a place to publish thoughts without any regard to email or monetization, go ahead and open a blog there. But if you intend to make money with this blog, you will need to self-host it.
Many geeks are on Tumblr. If your audience is geeks, you might want to have a presence on the platform and link or syndicate posts from your main blog. Or you can start your main blog there. You will not be able to monetize a Tumblr blog, but at least you'll meet your audience where they hang out and build a following and an email list.
I recently found and opened a personal blog on write.as. I even went as far as to go with the paid plan since that platform offers something I haven't seen anywhere else: Write.as allows me to create a novel-themed blog where the oldest post appears first. And you can also download the blog as an e-book! That's awesome!
They are also working on a feature to allow you to export your email subscribers, and you can add a subscription form at the end of each post.
What I love about write.as is that it's minimalist and highly customizable. I might do an entirely separate blog post only as a review of that service.
I presented Medium, Instagram, and Substack or Revue as possible platforms to start your online home in this blog post. I had three categories in mind when talking about the websites: email-building, traffic, and monetization.
I also gave some bonus mentions for websites like Wordpress.com, Ghost.org, Tumblr.com, and write.as.
Is there a specific platform you considered using? Should I review Any of these more in-depth? Let me know in the comments, and I will make that happen for you.
Thanks for reading!
The Geek Writer Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.