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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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