Whether you are blogging for fun or trying to build your business, a blog offers a unique way to connect with people. But without technical knowledge, setting up a blog can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are many helpful resources available to get you started.
Use these tips below to de-mystify some of the technical aspects of blogging.
Hosting & Blog Software
Hosting companies provide you with storage space on their servers – by setting up your blog with a hosting company, you’re making it accessible on the internet. Paying for hosting is like paying rent for your blog, because your blog “lives” on its server. And like renting an apartment, you want a good place that is comfortable and doesn’t have any problems for your blog. Make sure your hosting service is scalable, offers support, and has an uptime guarantee.
Blogging software provides the interface for your blog and is ultimately what powers your site. It allows you to create and publish posts, change themes or templates, and upload pictures. When choosing your software, look for one that is easy to use and offers design tools or plugins.
You need both hosting and software in order to start blogging, and there are only two options to build and host your blog:
1. Use a third-party blog service. WordPress and Blogger not only provide blogging software, but they will host your blog as well. Some of these are even free!
2. Host your blog with a hosting company and use blogging software. If you want to monetize your blog, this is your only option. You can use shared or dedicated hosting and free blogging software like WordPress.
The speed at which your site loads is really important to your visitors. A page should load in five seconds or less, and many visitors will hit the back button if it takes more than three. In fact, a one second delay could cost you 11% fewer page views. This is critical because it means less people will read your blog if it’s slow.
A great way to increase the speed of your site is to use a CDN (content delivery network). Your blog is really just a large set of files, and a CDN places some of these files (such as images and videos) on their high-speed servers, which allow the files to download faster for your visitors. Try using CDN services for WordPress to increase the speed of your site. There are other benefits to using a CDN as well such as resistance to crashing and higher rankings in searches.
Update blog software
The last thing anyone wants is a security breach. Updating your blog software takes care of security vulnerabilities and isn’t too hard, especially if you are using WordPress. The process typically consists of backing up your site, downloading the new files, unzipping them, then uploading the files to your site. You can also use the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin for an even easier process.
For those utilizing other types of blogging software, call your web host. Some web hosting companies will take care of the updates for you while others can walk you through the steps. If you need to, hire a professional. They should be able to help you update your software for less than $200.
If your blog is custom designed, call your designer before updating. It’s possible that software updates could mess with your design.
Back up your blog database
Have you ever lost beloved family pictures to a hard drive crash, never to be seen again? Hackers can completely wipe out your blog, which is why it is important to routinely back up your information. This can be done daily, once a week, or once a month. Pick a schedule that you are comfortable with and stick to it. If you need instructions, see this article on backing up your blog. Make sure to do a full site backup. This includes themes, plugins and images.
If your blog has already been hacked and you don’t have a backup, there are a few things you can try to restore it.
1. Call your web host. They might have stored a backup on their server.
2. Locate your content on Google’s cache. Find your URL in Google search and click the down arrow to see the cached content.
3. The Way Back Machine could have a copy stored on their index.
Learn the basics of PHP and HTML
Blocks of code can be very intimidating, especially if you have limited knowledge about what it does. You don’t need to know PHP or HTML to blog, but it can be very helpful for troubleshooting or tweaking the appearance of your blog.
PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. In blogging, the coding language is used to store and retrieve data from a database. This can be tables, posts, comments, or categories among many other elements.
HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. This type of coding is responsible for how your blog looks. Anytime you want to insert a widget or edit the sidebar, you will most likely need a bit of HTML knowledge to make the tweaks.
Most blogging software uses PHP files with blocks of HTML and PHP code dispersed throughout the file. The PHP code is executed against the server and returns the information as HTML. W3 Schools offers free tutorials on HTML and PHP. Spend a bit of time familiarizing yourself with the code before making changes in your blog.
If all the above makes sense, why not also read our post on a couple of things you need to know to become a great blogger?