@k-a-grey Hey great questions! Let me go through and share my personal knowledge on some of these topics. I’m afraid don’t know what to say in response to question 1 and would have to think longer on question 4, but I think I can help with the others.
Thing about WordPress: its free and the easier one out there to use to create a good site. But it has ads (unless you pay basically what WordPress is getting from the advertisers), It’s quite frustrating and honestly I have trouble reading blogs that do have the ads. “Weird Ads” like you said and they take away from the experience. Additionally they took down the cheapest paying option recently, so no more just $3 a month for new users who want a clean look with no distractions from a picture of “foods you must stop eating right now.” Or worse. 😛
The free and ad-less platforms I know of are Blogspot (Google’s) and Weebly (if you don’t count the blue banner at the bottom of the page that says “Weebly” as an advertisement).
My first blog was on Blogspot and I used that for a couple years. Some people say they can’t stand to use it but I didn’t find it that difficult. The reason I left was because there weren’t many options in designing the blog like you want it to look like. The templates are pretty outdated. However if you want it to look nice, there are a ton of downloadable templates from $5 to $20 on Etsy. Which isn’t bad at all. Especially considering how long you will use your blog.
If you want to have a more in depth description of what it is like to use Blogspot vs. WordPress or just one or the other, let me know and I would gladly explain further! I spent a lot of time researching this kind of stuff many times in the past and it is very time-consuming and hard. I’ve found its best to talk to someone who uses the platform to really get a look at what it’s like. 🙂
As for Weebly, I’m afraid I don’t have any experience there.
Earning money without ads
Partnership! I’ve never done this myself, but basically if you have a good amount of followers you can ask say Amazon to send you a book to review and then review it. They will give you a special link to direct readers too and a small percentage of sales through that link will go to you. Tea/jewelry/clothing-piece … whatever it is!
I’m not sure how to get started on this, but I know some people around here have done it, so I’m sure they can explain further.
I hope this helps! And I can’t wait to hear more about your coming blog. 😀