Let’s talk about plugins and their importance in the blogosphere. What are plugins? They are basically bits of software or add-ons that expand the functionality of your site. They enable customization of new or existing features as well as adding extra functions to your site. In other words, plugins make your blogging work & life 10x easier.
They’re located on the left hand of your WordPress Admin panel, just below “Appearance”.
JetPack for WordPress:
This is the ultimate plugin for all bloggers, beginners or not. JetPack is a single plugin that consists of mini-plugins with numerous features. It consists of a main dashboard which shows an overview of your site statistics and analytics, i.e source of your site’s traffic, overall number of site views, total number of comments, etc..
It also has features which can enhance your media such as tiled galleries, photon and a carousel. I particularly love this plugin because the free option/package offers so many benefits.
Yoast SEO assists with optimizing your blog’s content so they’re easily findable by searchengines like Google. It simplifies all the steps that need to be completed in order for your content to be fully optimized. It lets you set a focus keyword, which is the keyword you’d like your post to be ranked for, or found by in search results. It then runs a content analysis on your post/page to ensure that keyword appears often enough and in the right places for your post to rank higher and better.
Coupled with other features like readability check (i.e how easy is the post to read, lengths of sentences & paragraphs, transition words, etc) and meta description (customizing what your post would look like on Google), etc..Yoast SEO provides a lot of benefits to content creators. For more on this, read here
This is a spam fighting service that protects your site from spam comments. This is because there’s nothing more annoying than having to filter through spam comments just to get through to genuine ones. Akismet comes pre-installed in your WordPress but it has to be activated to perform.
Essential for keeping tabs (literally) on your site’s performance. Shows analytics broken down into different categories such as Demographics, Country, Page Views, etc…Check herefor a step-by-step guide on how to install on your website.
Social Media Widget:
It’s one thing to create content and another to promote said content. Social media shares are very essential in this day and age to getting your content noticed by people all over the world. There are tons of social media widgets out there, for TAC, I use the pre-installed feature on the Jetpack plugin. I love how easily customizable it is to fit my website’s theme/layout.
I’m throwing this in as a bonus. It’s optional for beginners as you might not be sending out newsletters right away but as you grow, collecting subscriber emails for newsletters will become essential in building and maintaining a solid readership. There are tons of newsletter plugins but some popular ones are MailChimp, Newsletter & SumoMe.
Two years ago when I started The Alma Chronicle, I remember being overwhelmed by all the information I came across on the internet. I spent countless hours trying to make sense of words I had never come across and somehow never figuring out what exactly I wanted or needed to do. Over the years, I’m proud that I’ve managed to single-handedly grow it to what it is today.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be doing a series called “Owning your blog”, sharing pointers from how to get started as a blog/website owner to creating compelling content and even content management. There’ll be 4 engaging posts to this series published every Thursday in the month of March and I hope at the end of it, someone’s work will be made a lot easier.
Domain Name & Hosting:
This is the first step to owning your website. When I started, I remember being confused on the meanings of a “domain name” & “hosting” & why they were necessary. A domain name is a unique address to a webpage or in this case, your blog. It is essential to your brand identity as it’s what you will be known for years to come so please take it seriously. After deciding on a name, check for its availability & register it with a Domain Registrar for a fee. The most popular ones are GoDaddy & Bluehost.
Next thing is to integrate this domain name with a blogging platform such as WordPress or Blogger. Luckily, the domain registrars mentioned above have a simple, free, one-click installation process. Spending on a domain name and hosting is not necessary for everyone. I recommend it if you want a more professional looking site. On the other hand, if you’re just looking to try out blogging with no intention of committing, I suggest starting with a WordPress.com(e.g xyz.wordpress.com) which is free.
(Tip: Domain registrars typically go on promotions from time to time so be on the lookout to get a desired domain name at a cheaper price)
Update: In partnership with websitesetup.org, I’ve included an easy tutorial on how to get a registered domain name with Bluehost. Watch below!
Choosing a Theme/Blog/Brand Identity:
A theme sets the tone for your blog and overall brand. This is the first thing users see when they click on your link and you want to make sure it represents you and your brand identity to the latter. Before picking a theme, do an overall blog/brand analysis and make a mental picture of what you want your brand to be known for. Think colours, name, overall aesthetics, fonts, photos, layouts, etc.
Most platforms come with decent pre-installed and free themes that I advice people to take advantage of when they’re just starting out. You know, get a hang of blogging and decide it’s something you want to do/commit to before you start throwing some major bucks into it. If you decide to go a step further to make your blog look more personal and professional, I recommend purchasing a pre-made theme from a theme developer and customizing it to your preference. That way, you don’t stress with the technicalities behind web design and focus on tweaking the theme to your taste; and creating content. You can purchase themes off a lot of websites but my favourites are Etsy, SquareSpace, & Theme Forestto name a few.
This varies depending on what your blog is centered around. Contrary to popular belief, blogging isn’t as easy as it looks. A lot of work and thought goes into creating content, especially when it’s done for a living. Overtime, analyze your audience demographic and be intentional about every content you put out. Be it be entertaining, inspirational, educational, etc. Make sure it adds some sort of value to the person on the other side of the computer screen.
Have fun & be consistent:
Just like everything else in life, consistency is key to growth; but blogging shouldn’t be a chore. It’s important to view your blog as your brand and have fun nurturing it so it can grow. For me, I’m happiest when I’m in front of my computer editing photos or creating compelling content such as this one for you guys. It’s also amazing how many opportunities and doors this platform has opened to me and I’m forever grateful.