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Before we put money into a business idea or a blog, we want to get some sort of idea of whether it will work or not. We don’t want to waste money on something, right? When it comes to writing, this means testing your writing niche, and one of the ways writers do this is by using free blogs.
But should you really do this? Is it a good idea to get your content out there on a free platform only to move it all in the future?
I’ve tested writing niches out on free blogs in the past. I’ve also jumped straight into self-hosted domains for some of them.
I’m going to share my experiences testing my niche using free blogs, so you can see if it helps or not.
I got a good idea of my writing niche
One of the biggest benefits of starting on a free blog is that I got a good idea of my niche. It helped me decide if I wanted to further it or whether I even could. I was able to take a few risks without actually losing anything.
Those that worked out, I could then move to a self-hosted domain. I needed to see the potential, not necessarily start making a lot of money on the free domain. I wanted to know if there was an audience.
Not only could I test the niche, but also the types of content that would work. Taking risks with content is important to see what your audience really wants to read, but when you’re starting with a blog making no money you may not be too inclined to unless you know you’re not going to waste money.
I could develop my audience
The free blog allowed me to develop an audience. I could reach out to people who were looking for answers on a particular topic and help give them a reason to follow me.
Sure, I could do this with a self-hosted domain, but I grew an audience without losing out on too much money. I only invested once I had a base audience to move over to the new blog.
The downside was losing that audience. Not everyone came over the new the blog when it was moved. They either didn’t get the message or weren’t really interested in it at all.
It also still took time to build that audience. It may have been better to build it straight on a self-hosted domain.
I didn’t treat the site as seriously
When a blog is on a free domain, I don’t tend to treat it as seriously as I would when it’s on my own domain. There’s the ability to forget that it’s a business, which means going weeks without updating a post.
This isn’t great when trying to test a writing niche using a free blog. At least when I put money into the niche, I know that I have to treat it seriously if I want to make it grow afterward.
I don’t just do this with free blogs, though. There are self-hosted sites that I’ve not treated properly. I find that I make this mistake when I start losing interest in a niche.
Free blogs can also be ones that readers don’t take serious. They’re hobby blogs more than business blogs in the majority of cases—note I say the majority of cases. People aren’t going to pay much attention if they think your own blogging for a hobby.
I had to move lots of content over
Sure, I get to test a niche with a free blog. If the niche doesn’t work out then I can just shut the blog down or just let it go dormant.
But if I decide to move the blog to a paid domain, there’s a lot of work to do. I have to go through posts and decide if I’m going to move them across or not. In some cases, I’ll be best waiting for them to deindex from Google before putting them up on the new blog!
It’s a long process. Sometimes I end up just starting the blogs from scratch again. I have to go through all that work again. Is it really worth all that hard work? I’d have been better just starting with the self-hosted blog in the first place.
While I’ve tested some niches using free blogs, I’ve made a habit of just taking the plunge with self-hosted blogs now. There’s less work involved and I take the blogs more seriously to get them going and make sure they work out.
Do you use free blogs to test a niche? Are you planning on doing that? Share your thoughts in the comments below.