A common question I get is – “Your blog is the best damn thing I’ve ever seen in my life! What did you use to set it up so quick?”. (I’m paraphrasing 😛)
So I created this post to tell you about the different resources I used to set up my minimal personal blog and how you can do the same. (without repeating my mistakes)
It’ll give you more time on the real work – writing, and less on the boring stuff like website maintenance and design.
Domain Name – Namecheap
After making comparisons, I found Namecheap offering the lowest price for the domain name I wanted. So I just went with them.
It’s just a domain name, so you don’t have to overthink this. Just find the cheapest provider for the domain name you want.
Google Domains, Namecheap, GoDaddy, CrazyDomains, etc., are all great options. Sometimes you can snag a free domain name based on the plan you pick from your hosting provider.
Hosting Provider – Hostinger
Researching a reliable hosting provider took me the longest time in the blog setup process because of all the contradicting information on this topic online.
Thankfully, I can simplify things for you after that experience.
👉 If you want to go for the cheapest but less reliable option, go for Hostinger.
👉 If price is not the main concern for you and you’re in this for the long haul, pick one of the more expensive and reliable providers like SiteGround or WPEngine. The peace of mind which comes from knowing your site is secure from attackers is priceless.
👉 Avoid Bluehost, Hostgator and others in that conglomerate of providers. They are great at marketing but not much else.
Content Management System – WordPress
Probably the most important choice of all. Some of the other options I considered were Substack, Ghost, Medium and Webflow. Let’s go through why I didn’t go with them –
👉 Medium – You don’t own the platform, and Medium can cancel you based on their ever-changing content policies. You can also repost your content on Medium to benefit the established audience there from your independent blog.
👉 Substack – This seemed like a good option but was more focused on newsletters. I wanted the flexibility of knowing that I can make my website something more than a blog like a store in the future which Substack does not allow.
👉 Ghost – I used Ghost for a while because of the beautiful design and the focus on content creation, but it suffers from a lack of flexibility like Substack.
👉 Webflow – Amazing choice as it offers even more flexibility and speed than WordPress, but quite expensive compared to WordPress. If I had a higher budget, this would definitely be my go-to choice.
WordPress offered just the right balance of flexibility, price, autonomy and ease of use to be my pick, but Webflow is also a great option.
WordPress Theme – Twenty Twenty
I didn’t put too much thought into this because themes on WordPress can be a deep rabbit hole to fall into. Picked something minimal, reader-focused and most importantly, free. 🙂
In hindsight, I recommend you go with the Independent Publisher Theme or the newer Independent Publisher 2 Theme for a personal blog like mine (based on Nat Eliason and James Clear). It’ll save you hours.
Several plugins I’m using –
- Akismet Anti Spam – Keeps the spammers at bay.
- Code Prettify – Highlights code automatically.
- Code Snippets – Easily add code snippets to your site.
- Heroic Table of Contents – Insert a table of contents in a post.
- Insert Headers and Footers – Add code or text to the headers or footers of your website.
- Jetpack – Analytics, marketing, security, optimization and much more!
- MC4WP – Integration plugin for Mailchimp.
- PRyC WP: Add custom content to post and page (top/bottom) – Adds custom content to the top and bottom of your posts.
- Smush – Resizes and optimises the file sizes for your assets.
- Themify Builder – Helps you build responsive layouts with ease using a drag and drop framework.
- Twentig – Toolkit for extra configurations for the Twenty Twenty theme. This one was a lifesaver!
- WPForms Lite – Helps you create simple contact forms.
- Yoast SEO – The big daddy of WordPress SEO. A must-have.
SSL Redirects – Cloudflare
Went with Cloudflare based on David Utke’s recommendation. Simple and straightforward setup process.
Email Marketing Provider – Mailchimp
Several different options in this space. Mailchimp, Substack, ConvertKit, SendFox are all good options.
I went with Mailchimp simply because I’d heard the name and because it’s free till you get 2000 subscribers on your list.
Logo Design – Canva/Snappa
While I am not using a logo currently, if I were to create one, I imagine I’d go with Canva or Snappa.
Website Analytics – Google Analytics
Pretty standard stuff, no need to go crazy here. Google is the big whale in the website analytics business.
Stock Images – Unsplash
Hands down the best site to get beautiful stock images for your blog to start.
Social Share Plugin – AddThis
There may be better alternatives, but this one was hassle-free to install, and it works. Good enough for me.
David Utke’s YouTube channel was my go-to resource for straightforward tutorial videos. The videos I watched –
- Setup a Blog Using Hostinger and WordPress Using The Twenty Twenty Theme
- Setup a Website Using Hostinger and WordPress Using The Twenty Twenty Theme
- Free SSL Setup using Cloudflare
🐰 That’s All Folks
Hope that cheatsheet of resources was helpful to you in starting your online writing quest! Don’t hesitate to DM me on Twitter if you’ve got any further questions. 🙂