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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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Karol Krol

Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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