I have officially decided to share more posts about blogging over here. You have asked for it many times and as I do not feel “expert” enough to share advice, I have postponed the moment when I would finally share tips with you. However, after five years of blogging, I must admit that I have gathered quite a broad knowledge around blogging. That being said, I feel that it is a duty to share some advice with you. Today, I have decided to share with you six things that have taken me quite a long time to figure out. I do not have the biggest following and I am clearly not a professional blogger but I feel like I can give advice that will really help those of you who, just like me, started with absolutely no knowledge at all about blogging. Let me tell you that if I managed to create a blog that so many of you love the design of, you can do it too. Ready? Let’s go!
WordPress.com is not WordPress.org
Let me tell you that my blogging tips will be dedicated to bloggers as inexperienced as I was when I first started. I want to cover the things you may consider “silly questions” and feel uncomfortable asking. Just know that asking is perfectly fine!
So WordPress.com is the platform I use and you probably use too if you found me on the WordPress Reader (go straight to the next point for more information on that topic). It is a free tool you can use to create a beautiful blog from scratch and with absolutely no money in the bank. I personally used WordPress.com for free for 4+ years before turning to a paid alternative! On WordPress.com, you have different plans: the free plan, the personal plan, the premium plan (mine), the Business plan and another plan more dedicated to E commerce. Each plan costs from around 40 euros a year to 250+ euros a year. My plan is a little less that 100 euros a year to be totally transparent with you. Depending on the plan, you have several possibilities and access to different ways to customize your blog. As long as you have a paid plan (even the 40 euros a year one), you get access to what is called a “custom domain”, which means that you can get rid of the “.wordpress.com” in the end. Thus, you look more professional, even though it is not necessary for you to take the leap if you do not want to.
WordPress.org is a powerful CMS through which you can also create a blog. However, it can’t be free with that option. There are obviously great reasons to turn toward the CMS (.org) as it allows for total customization and a more direct way to control and protect your site as you are a self-hosted blogger. It means that you pay for a hosting platform in order to have your very own corner of the internet, and for a domain name that is totally yours after you paid. WordPress.org in itself is free, but you need to pay for a hosting and a domain so it is actually far more expensive than WordPress.com. You will see online a lot of people saying that Wordress.org is better and they have good reasons to say so, but I also want to say that if you want a professional-looking blog but a total peace of mind (and if you are not a technology oriented person), a paid WordPress.com plan can be the best fit for you.
I definitely want to make an entire post on the topic of self-hosting and WordPress.com plans so if you would be interested, please tell me in the comments and ask me your questions!
The WordPress Reader is your best friend.
The WordPress Reader is the little “newspaper” icon on the top left-hand corner of your blog. You see it? No, reading other people’s blog is not uninteresting at all and no, you won’t be more successful by focusing on yours. You have access to it if you are on Wordperss.com (even with a free plan) and there, you can see other blogger’s posts and interact with them. Of course, do not make advertisement for your blog in the comment section of theirs, it is really rude, but you can genuinely comment on the posts you like. Thus, you may:
- make friends.
- have these friend visit your own blog.
- be part of a wonderful community of kind a helpful people.
Thus, there is absolutely no valuable reason no to click on the Reader!
The design of your blog matters as much as your posts.
I know that you want to share your wonderful thoughts with the world but the hard truth is that nobody will stay on a cluttered blog. What I mean here is that you need to have a clean design, something that represent the “vibe” of your blog. The best would be to have a visual identity composed of:
- a consistent logo
- fonts (3 different maximum – title, subtitle, text.)
- colors (5 maximum, including t least 3 neutrals – beige, light pink &c.)
It is really important that your blog looks great and that you have everything tidy on there. Do your best to organize your posts in categories and to make sure that tour readers can access them easily and fast.
You do not have to pay to have a good-looking blog
You can totally do it all with a free WordPress.com plan. Choose a them that can adapt to phones, computers and tablets (you can choose this option when looking for a theme in the “free themes” category) as it is really important that your readers can see your beautiful blog on every devices. Then, go into the “customize” area and customize it.
Extra tip: a lot of free themes do not have the best “posts page”, which means the page that displays all of your posts. Thus, what I would advise you to do is to choose the option “use a static page as a home page” so that you can design the home page of your blog (the first page readers see) yourself. There, you can use the “Posts” block (for it, accept to use the block editor when WordPress.com asks you to) to display your posts the way you want to. Tadaaaa, you have a beautiful “posts page” ready to get published!
Pages matter as much as posts.
We just talked about home pages and posts pages together. Basically, a page is a place on your blog where you can say whatever you want and that will have a dedicated place on the blog. Contrary to your posts, they are not present in the “archives” of the blog and people can access them very easily at all times. A blog with posts only would be super sad in my opinion.
Make sure to have at least:
- an “about” page
- a “contact” page
- a “disclaimer” page
Canva is the way to create stunning designs for free
If you have been wondering how bloggers can make these wonderful designs, banners and “images inside computers” pictures to put in their sidebar, Canva is the answer. Professional bloggers may use Photoshop but I personally think that Canva is perfect for my needs. I use a free version of it and all of my designs are made in less that 10 minutes, so I think it is a really good thing. If you know nothing about design, it is definitely the way to go, as I knew nothing myself when I started!
I really hope these first tips helped you and you are happy that I (finally) cover blogging-related topics with you.
This was really helpful to me – thank you! I’ve been blogging for one year and am just now learning some of these things.
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I am so happy about it! It took me 5 years to learn these things so you are very early at it, keep going! 😘
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Hello, Camille! It’d great if you write more about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I don’t think many people are aware of it, while they should. I’ve been heavily researching this for few months. However, I think WordPress.org is not expensive, hosting plans cost less than $3 a month for 3 years. Whereas WordPress.com starts with $4, but has almost none of the features and flexibility of WordPress.org. I totally agree with you that using WordPress.org requires more technical knowledge, so WordPress.com is undoubtedly the best choice for hobbyists. But to have a professional, monetized blog, learning WordPress.org is important. I found lots of free educational resources for learning WordPress.org on websites like wpbeginner, codeinwp, shoutmeloud, etc.
And the WordPress Reader, despite being a great way to connect with and discover new bloggers, isn’t really good if someone has Ads on their website and makes revenue from them. The Reader doesn’t show Ads of any network (WordAds, AdSense, Mediavine, etc.), so views from Reader don’t really count as Ad Impressions.
Let me know what you think of these points.
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First, thank you for commenting! I did not know for the ads on the WordPress Reader as I do not use them myself in spite of a premium plan. Of course if one wants to monetize their blog, WordPress.org is worth looking into. Wpbeginner is a very great website I agree, I learnt a lot from it!
I would say that both solutions are good but are just not meant to be used by the same people; depending on your goals, you need to find the right platform for you.
Financially speaking, I agree with you on the pricing of both WordPress.com and WordPress.org, but as you said, for people who basically just want a beautiful website that allows them to do their thing, WordPress.com is easier to use. However, if you run a business, I would highly recommend self-hosting, even though that means paying for a hosting platform + a domain name (you rent the domain name on WordPress.com anyway). You can also pay someone to set up your WordPress.org website for you, which is indeed expensive but can be great to know if you want to create a website for your business but do not want to get too deep into the learning process (that can be hard!).
To finish, I would say that one thing I did not mention in my post is Squarespace. I do not know much about it myself but I think it is quite an (expensive) in-between solution and I would be happy to know what you think about it. More and more YouTubers create websites through it so I am curious!