So you’re starting a blog, hoorah! But the moment you sit down to type it all gets rather confusing. Webhosts, domains, WordPress, Blogger, SEO, social media, plugins… Is it time for lunch yet?
Here’s a basic guide to the most important tools, websites and services you need to know:
Blogger or WordPress?
There are lots of different blog publishing services around, but the most common are Blogger and WordPress.
The only difference is that Blogger is a little simpler, so a great choice if you’re just starting a simple blog and are looking to create a site for your friends and family only.
WordPress, which I use, requires a little more time to get to grips with, but offers much more opportunities, and can even be used to create more complex websites.
If you want to get geeky, WordPress is a full content management system (CMS) and you can either host your site through them, or if you’re after a more personalized site or something a little fancier, you can do it yourself.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
With WordPress.org, you host your own blog or website. WordPress.org is where you’ll find the free WordPress software that you can download and install on your own web server.
WordPress.com hosts the site for you. You don’t have to download software, pay for hosting, or manage a web server.
I use WordPress.org.
The webhost is the site which will host your blog on the internet.
I use Site Ground and I’ve never had any problems. Both are helpful, inexpensive and really user friendly (although the Site Ground price does jump after the first year – be sure to check this).
If you’re you’re just after a basic site to keep in touch with your friends, then the free Blogger / WordPress.com versions alone are fine.
These are extra tools which you can program into your WordPress site, for example extra security measures, spam blockers, and SEO tools.
Jetpack is a service which automatically backs up your blog. While WordPress automatically saves your latest drafts, I’ve had a few run ins with both my laptop and my internet and nearly lost a lot of data. Think of Jetpack as insurance for your blog. The basic service is free and you pay a premium for extra support.
Akismet is a free spam blocker. It’s designed by the WordPress parent company. Akismet is really useful at stopping all the random ‘click on this site for free breast implants, penis enlargements’ bla bla bla comments.
Wordfence provides extra security for your blog. It sends email notifications if anyone logs in and protects against malware (hackers and the like). You might not need the premium version, but the free version is also great.
Search Engine Optimization. This can get really complex and ohh so anoraky, so if you’re just starting a new blog, don’t get too obsessed. The idea is to keep your blog as easy for search engines to understand as possible.
Yoast: Yoast advises on your individual blog posts’ SEO. It suggests links to other posts, recommending subtitles to make your post more readable etc. I updated to the premium version and it’s very helpful at guiding my posts so they’re more SEO friendly. Think of Yoast as a tutor sitting by your side and helping you with your SEO homework.
Google Analytics: Darn tricky to understand, but once you get the hang of Google Analytics, it’s a really useful tool for discovering more about what your readers are into, where they are from and topics you should consider covering.
Are you starting a new blog? Feel free to leave a comment below if there’s anything you’d like covered.