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Want to Launch a Personal Blog? Try These Tips and Tricks

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.

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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.

WordPress Security

Since we have hosting out of the way, let’s focus on WordPress security.

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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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

Tricky Proofreading

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:

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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.

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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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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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