The answer is yes. However, I would caution against it. The reason is, when you use a free service, you don’t have as much control over your blog—the free service does. This can be risky, especially if you will rely on your blog for income. A self-hosted WordPress blog is my recommendation and can be started very inexpensively. See my step-by-step tutorial here.
For example, Erica Tannen, a former retail executive and founder of The-e-list.com, describes her site as “an excruciatingly opinionated guide to the Connecticut shoreline and best Connecticut shopping.” The hyper-local blog, which now has over 16,000 free e-newsletter subscribers (the money comes from ad revenues) and 74,000 monthly page views, includes reviews of restaurants, shops and tourist attractions, as well as notifications about sales and events.
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My understanding is that you have to subscribe/pay for the business version of Word Press in order to use any of the monetizing functions. I think you should clearly state this in this article at the beginning. I think there is a degree of bait and switch here if people are just signing up for the free subscription and then finding out they have to pay for a subscription to make money. I am ok with that, it just needs to be stated up front everywhere.
Jon, this is a great article. Thank you. As usual, you are full of useful information. I am new to blogging (just launched in March) and I initially started with the small e-mail list from my business website, which does not have a blog. I started a completely new website after realizing I was on the wrong platform altogether to grow an audience. I learned this thanks to the information you and other professional bloggers provide. You recommend affiliate marketing to monetize a small new blog, which are my exact thoughts for my blog. Do you have an affiliate program? If so I would love to promote your info on my site. Thanks again!
One example is this: since our blog is a sub-domain for my wife and I’s boutique beach resort, nobody seems to want to touch me as a guest blogger. I get the same response every time “you’re commercial and so you’ve got to pay for a sponsored post”…and while yes, we are commercial and not a private blog per se, we’re a tiny family run business and 95% of private blogs are striving to be commercial, whether they’re associated with a company name or not.