This is a list of all the stuff you need to start blogging. The only things you NEED are a domain name (a web address) and hosting (‘land’ on which your address can live).
You don’t need to pay for other stuff until you grow a bit bigger. You may never need to pay for anything else, bar maybe a hosting upgrade because your website is so successful that the server can’t handle it.
Some of the links below are affiliate links, but rest assured I would never link to any products that I don’t use and love. I’ve wasted so much money on crappy themes and addons over the years, and I don’t want you to make the same mistake.
I’ve used Siteground for over three years and their customer service is great.* My site is never down, and I highly HIGHLY recommend them.
*They do everything for you.
I’ve used Hostgator in the past, and whilst they were fine, they were a bit more expensive.
Here is a list of all the services I use:
As I mentioned I use Siteground, and love them. Whenever I’ve had an issue (always my fault), they’ve sorted it out for me.
You can sometimes get a free domain with Siteground when you sign up for hosting (in which case, go for that), but I like to buy my domains from Google Domains.
Er, because they’re cheap.
If you’re just starting out, DON’T buy a theme straight away.
Not because I think they’re a waste of money (they can actually really help your site rank) but because it’ll take you a while to decide on a design you like, and you’re better off whacking on a free theme and getting to work on your content.
I recommend GeneratePress – the free version is really lightweight and fast, but has some really great customisation options. There’s a fantastic paid version with some really great features AND it works well with page builders, should you wish to use them.
I like it because it’s fast as hell, which is great for your user experience.
I know that you want your site to be all-singing, all-dancing, but just hang fire. Here is a list of the 7 plugins I like to put on my sites to start with. If I need any extra, I can always add them later.
- Antispam bee – obvs to reduce spam.
- Autoptimize – image and code smushing
- Content views – great for creating a post gallery which is GREAT for navigating your site
- Insert Headers and Footers – lets you add snippets of code without having to edit your theme.
- Pretty links – great for setting up and tracking links
- Recent Posts Widget With Thumbnails – I like to have my posts in my sidebar to encourage clicking
- SG Optimise – a great plugin that’s great for increasing page speed. I think you can only use it if you have Siteground hosting.
- UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore – backs my site up to Google Drive
- WP-Optimize – Clean, Compress, Cache – clears old databases and revisions etc. I turn this on every month, run it, then deactivate it again.
I like to use Canva to design my logos, header images, Pinterest pins…everything. I used to use Pic Monkey, which is a great option, but Canva is that bit more powerful. Pic Monkey is good for editing photos, but Canva is the best for adding text, overlays, etc.
There is a paid version of Canva which has a few really useful features – magic resize and the ability to download an image with a transparent background. It also has tonnes of more fonts and elements.
Canva pro isn’t necessary, but it can save you a tonne of time, especially when you’re first starting out. For example, if you want a featured image with a text overlay, you could use magic resize and use your Pinterest pin.
Procreate is an iPad app, and it’s a great tool for adding your artwork to your blog. It’s pretty similar to drawing in Illustrator and is super powerful. It’s also extremely cheap in comparison to Illustrator – a one-off payment of £9.99.