Blogging Tools & Resources That I Use And Recommend
Creating a blog (about travel or not) can be one of the most rewarding online projects on a personal level – and professional, if that’s your intention. However, the vast majority of times, building something from scratch in the digital world (such as a website) can seem like a “daunting” task, due to the lack of knowledge on the subject, or the need to invest time and money from the beginning.
I myself decided that I wanted to create a website in my own name, that would function as a travel blog, back in 2016. Yes, more than five years ago! However, I postponed this project for the reasons I described above, and the website Daniela Santos Araújo only saw the light of day in the last quarter of 2019.
What I mean is that blogging is an activity that requires a lot of effort and dedication. And that the success of our website/blog depends directly on our level of commitment. But even so, the rewards are countless and, today, there are thousands of tools and resources that can help you create a successful blog, even before it’s published!
1. Domain and Hosting
I’ve been using Bluehost as a hosting platform for my website since the moment I created it, in August 2019. Bluehost is one of the largest and best-known web hosting companies, serving more than 2 million domains! Their plans are among the cheapest on the market (from €3.29/month for shared hosting) and they even offer you the domain name in the first year of membership.
In addition, setting up the service itself is very easy and fast, with everything explained step by step. As if that weren’t enough, whenever you need help, you can count on free and impeccable lifetime support! Bluehost‘s customer care is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they’ve already helped me a lot (for example, when I started working with email marketing).
2. Content Management System (CMS)
Currently, WordPress is the most popular tool for managing website and blog content. Its installation is also very simple and most hosting platforms have an almost automatic integrated installation. This is the case of Bluehost, which gives you detailed instructions so that you can start creating your website/blog as soon as possible and with total design freedom!
As you may have noticed in searches, there are two types of WordPress: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. It’s very, VERY important that you choose WordPress.org from the start. It’s the only one that gives you control and flexibility over all aspects of your website/blog, namely in terms of appearance and functioning. WordPress.com doesn’t let you install themes or plugins, nor monetize your pages and posts in most plans, just to exemplify.
3. WordPress Theme
A WordPress theme is a website template that makes its creation and editing much easier, faster, and cheaper. It’s, therefore, the perfect solution for those who don’t want or can’t hire a web designer to design a website/blog from scratch. Any website that uses WordPress to manage its content has a theme (free or paid) and there are thousands of themes in the WordPress library to get started.
My site has had three WordPress themes since it was launched: Vega (free), Astra (free), and Astra Pro (my current theme, paid). At first, it’s normal not to know exactly the graphic aspect that you want for your website/blog. I didn’t know it either, and I started experimenting with free WordPress themes. But after some time using Astra from the company Brainstorm Force, I decided to upgrade to Astra Pro, the paid version of it.
Astra is one of the most popular WordPress themes of all time. With more than 1 650 000 users, its worldwide reputation is based on three fundamental parameters for the success of any website/blog: speed, lightness, and flexibility of customization. If you’re looking for a performance-focused WordPress theme, with impressive design options and full integration with other building and editing tools, then Astra is your solution!
TIP: Did you love a website/blog design, but don’t know what theme it’s using? I have the answer for you! What WordPress Theme Is That? is a free online tool that allows you to detect the WordPress theme and plug-ins used by a website. You just have to copy the URL or domain of the website and it will do the search for you! If you want, try to search my own site Daniela Santos Araújo.
If you don’t have advanced training in programming or simply don’t feel comfortable manually editing the source code of your website/blog, you’ll need the help of plug-ins. Also known as an add-on, a plug-in is essentially a software component that allows you to add a feature or extend the functionality of a computer program, in this case, WordPress.
That being said, a plug-in can help you, for example, to:
- Improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), so that your content is found by search engines like Google
- Create contact forms for your readers, subscribers, or customers
- Develop an online store of products and/or services (the so-called e-commerce)
- Automatically detect spam and abusive comments
In the WordPress plug-in library, there are tens of thousands of free and paid tools to choose from. Each blogger and content creator selects plug-ins according to their priorities, but it’s important that you try to keep a small number of active plug-ins. This is because each one of them adds extra information to the source code of your website/blog, which translates into slow loading speed
I currently have nine plug-ins installed (and active). This number fluctuates from time to time, but I try not to exceed fifteen for the reason I mentioned above. The vast majority of them are essential on any website/blog, while others depend on the type of content you want to produce.