Want to Launch a Personal Blog? Try These Tips and Tricks
Okay, okay, I didn’t do any serious research around this, so strictly speaking I don’t know how much time one can save on average doing the things described below. That being said, I will still do my best to show you that working with WordPress can be a lot less time consuming than it is for most people.
The advice I have for you here revolves around: productivity, tools, hosting, and interacting with your future blogging community, which, when combined together, can make you much more effective and time-efficient as a WordPress blogger.
First of all, I’m a blogger myself. I have a handful of blogs I work with every day (either as the owner, or as an editor/writer). Over the years, I’ve learned that some areas of work related to WordPress management can be done with much less effort if we just set the right technology in place.
Let’s start with hosting.
Managed Hosting for WordPress
Having a quality hosting platform is a must. This is something I had to find out the hard way, when a month ago (or so) my site got infected with malware.
It wasn’t my fault—I didn’t do anything shady, I didn’t use simple passwords, or any of the common mistakes. This was a problem on my hosting account. And to make things worse, my site got temporarily banned from Google as a result. This all happened on a shared hosting plan, and I lost three days figuring out the issue. I enjoyed not one minute of that time, by the way.
I was lucky, though: I have some development background so I was able to find the flaw myself and send my webhost some insights on how to fix it, but all of this could have been prevented if I had used a managed hosting platform.
Managed hosting is one of the popular hosting types, usually offered as managed VPS hosting (in this case it’s WordPress-optimized). The difference between standard shared hosting and VPS hosting is that in the VPS model, you get to use your own virtual machine, as opposed to sharing it with other customers. Even though the server is virtual, it is as close as you can get to the functionality offered by complex dedicated hosting machines, yet for a fraction of the price.
The managed part means that you don’t need any technical skills in order to work with your server. Actually, you’re not even the person working with it; it’s your hosting provider managing it for you, through their own resources and staff. That means that if any problem presents itself, it will be fixed by a professional, without you having to worry about it.
Since we have hosting out of the way, let’s focus on WordPress security.
I’m sure you don’t have time to read security forums and be up-to-date with everything that’s going on in the WordPress world, which is why I have a short two-step security routine for your blog:
- Once you launch your blog, update WordPress and the plugins you use once a week (if updates are available). This is crucial because every update introduces new security tweaks and bug fixes (by the way, you can ask your hosting provider to update this for you).
- Get a plugin called BulletProof Security. It provides quality .htaccess protection and takes care of all known holes in various web protocols and WordPress.
Blogging Apps and Software
Undoubtedly, the most time-consuming task for every blogger is the creation of new posts. While I don’t have any advice for you today that’s specifically about writing (let’s leave this for some other time) I want to encourage you to use one of the popular blogging apps just to speed up your writing.
For instance, the app I’m using to write this very post is Windows Live Writer. For me, it’s the best app available: it’s free (which is kind of a surprise coming from the Microsoft camp), and it allows you to craft your posts offline. To understand why it’s the way to write posts, let’s have a look at two of the most common alternatives:
- Creating a post directly in the WordPress interface—you need to be online for this to work.
- Using MS Word (or similar text processors) and then copying your post into WordPress—Word is not an optimized environment for WordPress, so most of the time your formatting will get messed up along the way.
Live Writer handles both of these issues. I can honestly say that using it has massively reduced the time I spend managing my posts. Everything is in one place, already properly formatted and just waiting to be sent out to any blog I want.
Proofreading is an essential step when publishing a post (and a time-consuming one). Naturally, we want our posts to be as well-crafted as possible, but at the same time it’s quite easy to overlook some typos or other minor errors. Although you still have to edit your posts by hand, there are some plugins that can help you with the final proofreading. I can recommend two:
Jetpack. This is a big plugin, but one part of it—After the Deadline—is a really handy proofreading tool. It analyzes your text and points out a number of spelling, style, and grammar issues.
Error Notification. This is a plugin that makes it possible for your readers to join the proofreading process. Whenever a visitor notices an error, they can highlight it and then press a button to send you a direct notification.
Better Spam Management
Spam—every blogger’s favorite thing, ain’t it?
The most popular spam protection plugin is called Akismet, however, I’m not a fan of it. For some blogs, it does a very poor job at handling spam. There are even people reporting their own author comments being marked as spam. This is why I use something different—a combination of two plugins:
Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin places an additional checkbox in your comment form that every commenter has to check before sending their comment.
Antispam Bee is a free (and ad-free) plugin that delivers the final blow to the human-generated spam that gets through the previous plugin.
I literally haven’t seen one spam comment since I’ve introduced these two, which means that my spam management time has been reduced to zero.
That’s it for my tips. I hope you’ll take advantage of some of them and make them part of your own WordPress blogging routine. One last thing: How much time are you planning to spend interacting with your new blog on a regular basis?
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