Blogging is not an art. That’s precisely the attraction of blogging.
Anyone can talk about anything of interest to them. They will then find an audience that shares the same interests.
There are ways to make your blog more attractive and easier to find. But for the most part, it’s about talking about something that interests people.
It’s why so many of us take to the medium. But if you’re planning to start out now or trying to change things around to improve your existing blog, there are a few things you should know.
A year into blogging actively, there are things that make the whole experience a lot better for your audience.
And at the same time make your blog noticed by Google.
I wouldn’t call it fine margins. But every little improvement counts.
Here's what we'll cover
- The user experience
- WordPress Hosting
- WordPress Themes
- My recommendation
- Your takeaway
The user experience
Blogs are first and foremost about content. What is it that you’re saying? What’s your take on this topic?
Are you stating your opinion? Or are you drawing a picture that shows a collection of opinions on the topic?
What sort of tone do you use? Is it humorous? It could even be a bleak tone that you chose.
Then there is the actual look and feel of a blog. This includes the images, themes, mobile-friendliness etc..
This is what I want to discuss here. What are the things, other than content, that keeps the audience hooked and looking forward to more?
So I’ll try to pick apart each of them to give a clearer idea of things you need to decide when planning your blog.
This is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting a blog. And it has to be made early on.
The right one has to check a few boxes. It has to have close to 100% uptime, great load-times, easy on the wallet and good timely support.
Beyond the absolute basics, we should strive for managed WordPress hosting. This is absolutely the way to go when picking a hosting option.
Why is managed WordPress hosting important?
There are a bunch of reasons why managed WordPress beats out the cheaper shared hosting options.
- Page Load Speed: I mentioned in one of my other posts about how important page load speed is for a blog.
It is necessary for a smooth user experience and boosts your SEO rankings. Managed WordPress is also built for high performance.
It strips away all the stuff that are not needed for WordPress hosting. This is different to shared hosting options where they have a lot of stuff you’ll never use.
What this means very optimized performance from your server. And the speed will also be on another level compared to shared hosting.
- Scalability: One thing you will do is change plans is to keep upgrading your plans. This can be due to more traffic, bigger website space requirements or because you need more blogs to be hosted.
Managed WordPress hosting services are aware of this and makes sure you have smooth transitions and not require constant plan upgrades.
- Support: Because these hosting options are WordPress only, the support will be ultra-focused.
All staff involved will be WordPress specific and the quality of support goes up because of that.
- Testing: Most managed WordPress makes testing a breezy affair. You will need to test your blog after making changes like adding or removing plugins.
Within managed WordPress, this is a simple affair. Unlike the convoluted mess you would need to navigate in shared hosting
Best Managed WordPress hosting
Assuming you see the benefits of using managed WordPress, I’d like to give you the top 3 options out there.
It’s a great option. Lowest plan is priced at $21 per month when you subscribe for a whole year. You can host 5 different blogs with the base plan. So no worries for a while in terms of expansion.
With a 99.95% uptime guarantee and 100Gb bandwidth, your audience will have a seamless experience on your blog.
Backups for the last 28 days is also included.
BlueHost WP Pro
BlueHost also dabbles in shared hosting. But they’re reputation comes from the WP Pro plans.
Lowest plan begins at $20 a month. BlueHost throws quite a few perks at new sign-ups. This includes a 100 WordPress themes.
They even have a social marketing dashboard included, which is a big asset during the promotion phase of your blog.
And they let you work with as many blogs/websites as you want, even with the lowest plan. They also don’t have limits on bandwidth.
They only have managed WordPress hosting. Suffice to say, they’re pretty focused.
Their lowest plan starts at a measly $3.95 a month. But that supports just one blog.
Opt for the $5.95 plan and you can have as many as you want. There are limitations on the monthly traffic you can handle.
But with the $11.95 a month plan that limit is 100K visits a month. It’ll be a while before you have to worry about breaching that cap.
Let’s start with the overall look and feel of your blog. Working with WordPress has a lot of benefits.
One of them is that it’s very easy to set the look of your blog. You can do it with the help of plugins.
There are page builder plugins that make it easy for a newbie to change around the layout of the page and set the coloring and so on.
Even easier is using a pre-built theme to get a definite look. You can stick with that look or modify it to make it your own.
The popularity of WordPress themes has meant that a lot of top designers have come forward with reasonably priced top-notch themes.
Why are WordPress themes important?
It’s easy to forget just how important your choice of theme is. There’s the obvious aesthetic side to it.
Great content should not be held back by a shoddy look. So a minimalist classy look always goes a long way in keeping your audience hooked to your writing.
The other, more overlooked reason is that it has a big say in how fast your blog is.
A lightweight theme can say you half a second or more in load time. And that’s a big factor in your visitors’ book and also that of Google SEO.
A fast-loading blog will rank much higher, all other things being equal. So for a blog, it makes no sense to go with heavy themes with a lot of dynamic elements.
The fastest WordPress theme – SukiWP
It’s the lightest WordPress theme on the market. Hence, the fastest out there. With default content, it sits at an unbelievable 20kb.
Until you bring all that content and spoil the fun. Kidding aside, that’s a big number, small rather, to remember.
In terms of speed, it’s a great starting point. And it doesn’t disappoint in other areas either.
It has more complete typography, colors, spacing options, and also a built-in header builder.
It is one of the most flexible themes I ever used and you’ll be able to bend it every which way to get the perfect look.
It even has 1000 different options you can tap into without a lick of code.
It uses SVG icons instead of icon font. SVG icons are smaller in size and look sharper. So there’s not even a choice to be made here.
It really drives home the point about them wanting to be ultra-lightweight. And for a blog that’s the way to go.
The most popular WordPress theme – WP Astra
Astra is still the most popular theme in the market though.
One good pointer to how good it is from its rating in the WordPress website. And it has a free version!
Of course there is a premium version that’s even better. So start off with the free version and once you’re sold on that, you can always upgrade.
Even though it’s not ultra-lightweight like SukiWP, it’s still very fast. It’s default mode loads in less than half a second. Needless to say, that won’t test anyone’s patience.
Astra includes many features like custom page layouts, usually reserved for premium versions, in its free version.
It works with any page builder. That’s always convenient when it comes to making a choice.
My personal recommendation would be to pick BlueHost WP Pro for your hosting needs.
And purchase the SukiWP theme to give your blog a headstart in the SEO race.
Spend good time doing your own research. There will be a lot of voice on the web like mine. Take your time before making a choice.
As popular or light as my recommendation may be, sometimes the aesthetics may not be to your taste.
Go with your instincts on that one. After all, you’ll be the one on your blog the most.