First of all, I’m so excited for you! It will be so liberating and rewarding, however challenging for sure. Blogging has been an educational and self-reflecting journey for me. I have spent well over 8 years studying blogging, marketing, affiliate marketing and site design, by reading articles, journals, watching how-to’s on YouTube, doing courses and so much more. The one thing that stands out to me the most through re-starting and redesigning my sites over the years, is that I have struggled the least because of a great hosting plan and platform. I have tried and used many but the winner over and over again is SiteGround!
Web Hosting & Domain
So in the spirit of getting you off on the right foot, I have listed my highly suggested and foolproof platforms for blogging. Many are integrated into one, however to make the most of it you’ll want to build it using all the parts.
First, you will need a web hosting plan, platform and domain name. Technically the domain name can be purchased from any website that sells or registers domain names…watch who you are buying from and make sure they are legit- stick to the big guys- yes it might cost you a few dollars more but they have the infrastructure to help you if you ever need it.
–OR– you can go with an all-in-one provider that you pay once for your hosting plan(s), domain name, security and tutorials. I would highly recommend SiteGround for this. I personally use them and have for three years because they have consistently provided assistance when I needed it (when my old website was hacked) and have an amazing fool-proof system. As they say, you definitely get what you pay for.
To be specific, I registered my domain name (rachdupree.com) through their service, then set the site for a WordPress.ORG site. This is very important to research and understand. I could go on and on about the importance of having a WordPress. ORG site versus their .com site and for that matter any other platform. The beauty and purpose of having a WordPress.org site is that you have full control and ownership of your site, content and design. It’s an open source software that is configurable and fully user friendly. You add plug-in’s to customize the site (similar to phone applications). Templates are used for site design and visual appeal. These can both be purchased or downloaded for free. Below I will list my favorite Template sites.
There thousands of templates to choose from but it is important to pick one that is meant for a WordPress.ORG site. Many are not structured (coded) this way. Be sure to purchase/use a template that will also you to integrate an online shop if that is something you want as well. Below I have a list and links to my favorite template sites. These sites have great resources as well.
BluChic: Feminine, beautiful and professional WordPress templates and landing pages. They also have great services for getting your site setup and theme installed. BluChic also offers great Canva, Funnel, and add-on templates. If you’d like to learn more about a septic blogging or website topics they have amazing digital books too.
It’s truly amazing what good plug-ins can do for a website. I am not as proficient and knowledgeable in all the options available. However, usually when you purchase a template from a company they will include a list of needed plug-ins for the template to properly work. Don’t skip those. There will be variations on said plug-ins some will have free options and paid options. I don’t personally pay for any upgrades however if you need more functionality I would suggest it. Plus most of the time you’ll end up supporting a smaller creator/business this way.
Additionally, it’s suggested that you add Google Analytics to your site for advertising options and for SEO optimization. This is an area I’m not an expert on but there are a ton of videos and articles on YouTube, articles and even SiteGround can help.
Lastly, if you’d like to offer digital products, services or physical product for sale on your site, I would suggest using Woocommerce. This can be integrated right into your website and doesn’t need to be a separate site. I love that I don’t need to manage and pay for two sites in order to sell products. Plus Woocommerce is just about the best in the business. They have upgraded their business user interface tremendously in the last 2 years to compete with Shopify. It’s easy to use, setup and manage through the back end of your WordPress site. Also, be sure to purchase/use a template that is Woocommerce ready.
I’ll be honest here, I have always loved the Shopify interface as a customer and the backend as an employee (used this as a platform when I worked for a small biz). I have experience on both ends of the site. It truly is unmatched in many ways, which makes it even stronger as a platform compared to others. I would recommend sitting down and really thinking about the future of your brand, company and products. If you think at all , that you might want to expand more into physical products AND digital, or if you just want to expand your physical products and collections then you will be happy you set this shop up in the begining instead of waiting to transfer to a larger site once we get there. I will tell you from years of experience then time and headache it will be to transfer later will make you wanna hit your head against a wall and if you’re not that dramatic I can guarantee that you will get frustrated and you will lose a lot of important time doing what you could have done from the start.
I can understand that you may antisipate that it is a large cost and that you may not be ready to take on that overhead. I totally get it! I would say though depending on what your real needs are for site management and SKU quantities, you will probably truly just need their $29/month plan. When you compare to other sites like Etsy, you will find that they charge a long list of fees. These fees can appear low, like their $.20 per listing fee but when you add this up every time you sell something this is re-charged. They also charge a transaction fee, payment processing fee and a shipping fee. This really undercuts or completely eliminates your profits. Please be sure to check out all the fine print and fee schedules for any selling, payment processing or e-commerce platforms that you are thinking of working with. This can make or break your business.