This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
There are a tonne of these posts out there, and whilst I think they’re useful, they can cause people to waste a lot of time implementing things that are unnecessary.
It’s worth noting that you can get all of these things set up in a day. Promise.
A good blog needs…a lot of great content
Arguably, this is the most important thing to have on a blog. A blog can have all the bells and whistles it likes but a good blog =/= great content.
I’m going to assume that you’re on a budget here – and assure you that it doesn’t matter. Spend less than $100 on hosting and a domain name, and you don’t need to spend any more money.
Your content is what sets you apart. Sure, if your site is slow (don’t worry, I’ll help you speed it up later) but you have great content, then you’re in a far better position than the world’s fastest website that has crappy content.
Content is king. If you build it, they will come. These are cliches that many bloggers say isn’t true, but I’m here to tell you that it is. I mean, it’s not easy – you need to learn what people need building – but I’m here to teach you. Also for free.
All I need you to do is put the time in to learn how to write content that people are searching for, and…write it. Repeat the process. Watch the traffic flood in (after you’ve waited a year or so, because Google takes her sweet time).
A good blog needs… a quality web host
This is extremely important. One of the main factor Google takes into a count when ranking content is user experience. This includes things like page speed, popups and ads. There are four main factors that will significantly increase your speed:
- Your web hosting
- The theme you use
- The plugins you install
- Any code snippets you add.
Web hosting is by far the biggest factor. I know that Blue Host is super popular, but it belongs to EIG which owns a lot of web hosting companies that piggyback on one another’s servers. Because so many many sites are running on a few servers, page speed is massively compromised.
I personally use Siteground hosting. Admittedly I use them for their customer service (which I think is going downhill, but is still better than comparably priced hosting companies), but their page speed is really good. You can get Siteground at a similar price point to EIG companies, but it’s significantly faster.
I’m not saying that Siteground are the best hosting company, or even the fastest, but I’ve had a great experience with them. The first years hosting is priced very competitively, and perfect for beginners (i.e. those of you with less than 100,000 hits per month).
A good blog needs…an about page
Don’t spend all day on your about page. They’re often not visited very often. Write a few paragraphs about why you write about your niche, your experience, and any relevant qualifications.
The most important thing here is that you put your contact details. Unless you’re offering services there’s no need to have a separate contact page. Make sure you have your email address and any social media handles that you don’t mind sharing.
This isn’t about providing value, it’s just a little extra step that proves to your audience that you’re real person.
A good blog needs…legal pages
Actually, if you’re not marketing your blog in any way, you maybe don’t but you may as well get your legal pages out of the way straight away.
If you don’t have any ads, email list sign ups, or affiliate links, these aren’t necessary.
This post has all the information you need, and links to the policy generators I used.
A good blog needs…a clean, uncluttered design
Don’t spend too much time on your blog design until you have some content up. Not because design doesn’t matter, but because it can turn into a massive time sap.
I would recommend using GeneratePress. It’s free, extremely fast, and has customisation options but isn’t a page builder that has to be built from scratch.
Page builders like Divi and Elementor can look incredible, but if you’re not a web designer they can get very slow very quickly. GeneratePress can be up and running in 5 minutes.
I’ve built a lot of websites over the years and tried a lot of themes – Genesis, Pipdig, Phlox with Elementor…GeneratePress is the easiest, and the most SEO friendly. it has a paid option that has more options, but the free one suits me fine.
A good blog needs…good pagespeed
I’ve already covered hosting and themes in the paragraph above, so I’ll just quickly mention plugins and random code snippets.
I also have a full post on increasing page speed here. It’s from Medium, but it’s not behind a paywall.
Plugins are one of the keys to WordPress’ versatility, but they can really slow your site down. Make sure you use plugins to increase your speed (autoptimize, WP-optimize and SG optimiser are the ones I use), and get rid of any plugins that are unnecessary or slow you down.
I had to get rid of Jeptpack, Contact form 7, Monster Insights and YARPP (yet another related posts plugin) and my site speed increased about 30% in a couple of minutes.
There are many plugins that slow you down (test them when you install them by running page speed tests before and after activation). I mentioned those three specifically because they seem to very highly recommended by other bloggers.
Be sure to check mobile as well as desktop – not only is it usually where most of your traffic will come from, but it’s usually significantly slower. GT Metrix is the one that provides the most information.
If your site is really slow, check out this YouTube video – it’ll hold your hand throughout the whole process of improving your website’s speed.
Random code snippets and links
I always suggest you add codes snippets to a plugin – I like Insert Headers and Footers – because it’s less risky than editing your theme file, I have no idea how to make a child theme, and you don’t run the risk of having to re input them every time your theme is updated.
Some snippets are necessary – Google Analytics for example. But other snippets of code can significantly slow your page speed, and you need to assess whether it’s worth it. Skimlinks had a huge affect on my pagespeed, so I deleted it – Ezoic also recommends you don’t use code to implement their ads because of the effect on pagespeed.
Affiliate links are also buggers for slowing your site, so be careful what you’re linking to. If the link isn’t getting much traffic, then maybe use a regular link until you’re getting enough traffic to make it worth the slow speed.
A good blog needs…resources page
This is a great way to get around having affiliate links on every page. It also stops you from looking spammy because you only need an affiliate disclaimer on pages with affiliate links. If you drive users to a resource page then you can keep all your affiliate links there.
In the beginning, you likely won’t have enough traffic to get many affiliate clicks, or even get accepted onto the programmes you want, so wait to apply. Create your content and send any product links to a resource page that links to the product with a non-affiliate link. That way, when you get some traffic and get accepted, you only have to change the link on your resources page, not go through all of your posts.
Another benefit of having a resource page is that it increases the number of page views.
A good blog doesn’t need…
- A paid theme
- A lot of images. You don’t need to a fancy camera, and Unsplash is available if you’re not a photographer.
- Sharing buttons – they quickly clutter up your site. Besides, if someone wants to share your article, they don’t need sharing buttons, especially on mobile.
- Pinterest pins. You can always batch them later when you have more content
- A comment section – turn it off if you don’t want comments
- A fancy logo and header. DIY it in Canva no one will know or care that a graphic designer didn’t make it.
Final thoughts on creating a great blog
Don’t overthink creating your blog. As I said, it can be done in a day or two. Get the initial stages done quickly so you can get cracking on the most important aspect of having a good blog – creating incredible content.