Several people have read my post How to Start a Blog in a Day and contacted me sharing that they would prefer to have a hobby blog rather than a business. In the blogosphere today, it is very rare to have a blog that is not a business in some way. This means that you do no partnerships with brands, you do not have display advertising on your page, and that you accept no free products for review. It means you will not endorse any products and that you will only blog about things in your own life.
If you know for sure that your blog will be a hobby and will never transform into a business or a non-profit agency of some sort, then here are my suggestions for that:
1. Select a Name
You don’t need to worry about buying a domain name because you have chosen to not start a business. There would be no point in purchasing or owning a domain name, since this is just a hobby. When you decide what your blog name will be, search all of the social media channels you wish to associate with it and be sure they are also available. You can brainstorm or you can use a site like SpinXO to create a name.
2. Select a Blogging Platform
There are several free blogging platforms. The most common free blogging platfroms are Blogger and WordPress.com. (Please note that WordPress.org is free software that you use on your own self-hosted blog. This is much, much, much better and gives you more options which I recommend in my other post, Start a Blog in a Day.)
If you think your posts will be less than 140 characters or just a photo each time you post, you may want to think about only getting a micro-blogging account. Twitter is a microblog. Tumblr is also a microblog that allows you to post a bit more than 140 characters and also reblog things that other people post. Also, if you’re a fan of pornographic material, Tumblr is a great place to be.
3. Recognize You are Donating Your Time and Talents
When you do not host your own blog, in most cases, you do not own your content. You are donating it to the blogosphere and are giving it away at no cost. It is purely for enjoyment.
4. Recognize That Changing Your Mind And Deciding to Become a Business Is Annoying
I will be honest, I HATE writing this blog post. The reason is that when it only costs a little over $100/year to have a self-hosted blog, I personally do not recommend having a hobby blog if you think you will ever in the future want to make money from it. It will save you a lot of money, time, effort, and energy in the future if you just follow the instructions in my other post, Start a Blog in a Day. You will not have to pay someone to transfer your files to your host, you will not have to learn how to use WordPress.org if you were formerly using Blogger, you will not have to transfer the domain name you purchased from WordPress.com (and risk losing your domain name) to a new host, or deal with the multitude of headaches I’ve heard from bloggers who originally started on a free platform. You won’t lose out on time that you could have been spending during the earlier months and years of your blog learning out how to use WordPress.org and customize with plugins.
Nearly all bloggers I have met started out having the idea that their blog may not be a success and some even plan for it to only be for family and friends. However, the nature of the blogosphere is that a blog is public and therefore you have the opportunity to gain a following regardless of what path you take. When you begin to get a following, the following will expect things of you. Obviously, you can chart your own course, but in most cases I’ve seen that bloggers want to grow and develop their sites in particular when they begin to develop an audience. It will also be a challenge to turn down opportunities to post banner ads, blog about brands, and review products for free. When you get that first email from a Public Relations firm asking you if you’d like some free diapers when you’re blogging about your new baby, you won’t want to resist the urge and then your blog just went from being a hobby to being a business overnight. Why not just plan for that from the beginning? If it fails, what did you lose? $100? In most cases, that is a very small investment to lose for a new business.
Sometimes your free blogging platform will not permit you to monetize your blog. For example, affiliate links are not permitted on Tumblr. (I learned the hard way.) Blogger allows Google Adsense Ads, but maybe that is because Google owns Blogger so they are going to make money from it anyway. Wordpress.com will allow you to monetize but they take a huge amount of the earnings in exchange for letting you use their service for free so then you’ve basically donated your content/intellectual property to them AND are making them money by having ads on your site AND are running a business. You might as well be on WordPress.org and actually making money from your ads. You deserve it! You are the one writing the posts and gaining a following.
So, if you don’t want to cheat yourself read my post Start a Blog in a Day. If you’re a fan of cheating yourself, then go for it. Start a hobby blog. I hear it’s more fun that knitting, flying kits, crossword puzzles, baking, and bicycling combined.