I’ve written tips on blogging pretty often in the past. Thus, I thought it’d be helpful if I rounded up the more relevant tips in one post on how to set up and maintain a blog.
Why run a blog?
While it’s not for everyone, deciding to set up and maintain a blog can have various benefits:
- Gaining writing experience.
- Writing about a subject one enjoys.
- For writers, new writing samples to add to a portfolio.
- A way to generate increased site traffic.
- Demonstrating expertise on a subject.
General blogging tips
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 topics. My list of suggestions doesn’t completely prevent writer’s block, but it does offer some useful ways to come up with quality material.
Make sure your blog 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 blog themes (such as ones for WordPress) and platforms (including Tumblr, Blogspot, and WordPress) are responsive and mobile-friendly by default.
Promoting a blog on social networks
Social media can be an important part of promoting a blog. Facebook and Twitter are the two dominant social networks. However, one should choose the platforms that work best with their website, or feel comfortable using.
Sources of free photos
- 5 sources of free Creative Commons licensed images
- How to attribute Creative Commons images
- Sources of stock photos featuring people of color
Thanks to Creative Commons and public domain photo archives, there’s plenty of sources for free photos (versus blindly searching Google Images).
Final pre-launch check
There’s some final things to check over your blog set up, before going live: spelling errors, SEO setup, etc.
- The value of a customized 404 error page
- How to check your site for broken links
- How to manage older blog posts
- What are some Tumblr blogging alternatives?
- Favorite blogs about blogging and WordPress
- 7 blogging mistakes to avoid
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.
Useful WordPress plugins
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).
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.
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.
Those setting up a new blog through blogging services like Blogspot, Tumblr, or WordPress.com will find HTTPS included by default.
There’s a lot you can do to set up and run a successful blog. Of course, things change constantly, and I often discover new blogging tips or try something new. Thus, I’ll keep this post updated if anything changes.