I’ve written various posts offering tips on blogging, as well as how to use WordPress. I thought I’d gather them all into one page, as part of a general guide on setting up and managing a WordPress-based blog/website.
Why run a blog?
While it’s not for everyone, running a blog can have various benefits, including:
- Gaining writing experience
- Writing about a subject one enjoys
- For writers, writing examples to add to a portfolio
- A way to generate increased site traffic
- Demonstrating expertise on a subject
Why use WordPress?
WordPress has become one of the most popular content management systems (CMS). While WordPress initially was more aimed at bloggers, it’s since become quite popular for running entire websites. Its ease of use and versatility makes running a site easy.
WordPress also has a large amount of support online, as it’s estimated to run 27% of all sites online.
WordPress dot com or dot org?
My post on which version of WordPress to choose, the free hosted version run by Automattic (the creators of WordPress), or the self-hosted version users manage themselves.
Selecting a domain name
Selecting a good domain name for your site includes checking for availability and making sure it’s easy to remember. It’s also worth considering a .com domain if possible.
Creating blog topic ideas
I’ve written a post about ways to come up with ideas for what to blog about. My list of suggestions doesn’t completely prevent writer’s block, but it does offer some useful ways to come up with quality material.
Useful WordPress plugins to install
WordPress has an assortment of plugins that’re useful, or even vital, in running a WordPress-based site. At a minimum, I’d recommend installing:
- A security plugin (such as iThemes or WordFence)
- A comment anti-spam plugin (if not the default one, Akismet)
- A cache plugin (such as WP Super Cache)
Setting up HTTPS
Google has made clear that in the future, they plan on emphasizing sites that use the more secure HTTPS over plain, unencrypted HTTP. Fortunately, setting up HTTPS on a new WordPress site (or moving an existing site to HTTPS) has gotten a lot easier in recent years.
Free SSL certificate services such as Let’s Encrypt have also made setting such up an HTTPS site a lot easier.
Make sure your blog/site is mobile-friendly
Mobile devices have become a dominant way of accessing websites. As such, it’s no longer optional to ignore smartphones and tablets when setting up a site.
Fortunately, most modern WordPress themes are now responsive, or mobile-friendly. Blog services such as Tumblr, Blogspot, and WordPress.com are also usually mobile-friendly by default.
For those that don’t have a responsive WordPress theme, my suggestions are either:
- Consider switching to a responsive theme
- Use a WordPress plugin offering a basic mobile theme, such as WPTouch
Use Google Analytics
Google Analytics is probably the most popular website traffic statistics tracking service. It offers a wealth of statistics, both for beginners and advanced users. Knowing which pages or posts are receiving traffic, as well as how it’s being accessed (social media, Google searches, etc.), is quite useful.
However, dealing with referrer spam’s become an issue in Analytics. While spammers’ tactics keep changing, there’s some ways of trying to block worthless site statistics from showing up in Google Analytics data.
Securing WordPress sites
Securing WordPress sites is also an important task. At a minimum, one should install updates for themes and plugins when prompted by WordPress.
Promoting a blog via social media
Social media’s an important part of any modern blog. But at a minimum, I’d suggest using Facebook and Twitter, the two biggest social networks.
Sources of free photos
- 5 sources of free Creative Commons licensed images
- NY Public Library releases 180,000 public domain images
- Ways to attribute Flickr Creative Commons photos
There’s plenty of sources of free photos that’re free to use, thanks to Creative Commons and public domain photo archives.
Final pre-launch check
There’s some final things to check before making your website go live, such as spelling errors, SEO setup, etc.
- How to put social network buttons in your WordPress sidebar
- 15 basic WordPress errors to avoid
- The value of a customized 404 error page
- How to check your site for broken links
There’s a lot you can do to run a successful blog, plus make good use of WordPress. Of course, things change constantly, plus I’m always discovering new blogging and WordPress tips. Thus, I’ll keep this page updated with new material in the future, as needed.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. You can also subscribe to future blog posts via the email subscription link in the sidebar.