Launching a blog – technically speaking – is ultra easy. Really. All you need is 10 minutes of your time, $5 to spare on hosting, and you’re good to go! Plus, with all the 1-click install features that many web hosts provide these days, you don’t even have to know what’s going on under the hood. That being said, I’m afraid this is where the fairytale ends.
Taking care of the initial setup is just the beginning of your adventure, and from that point going forward, you will have to deal with a lot of challenges, all of which can make your blogging a lot harder. Now, I’m sure you’ve noticed that blogging advice is not something that’s scarce on the web, so what I want to do today is take a different approach. Let’s make it interesting and talk about what to do to mess up your blog. I’m going to tackle the topic from two separate angles:
- Technical issues – those that can kill your blog overnight just like that, with no warning
- Issues with the way you publish content – those that will continue killing your blog gradually, one step at a time
1. Not being ready for a hardware fail
There’s something you should know about hardware (servers, hard disks, other machines that basically keep your site online). The thing is that it’s only a matter of time before your server fails you. There really is no if. There’s only when.
Every person who has ever worked in data recovery will tell you that all hard disks (that’s 100 percent) fail at some point. Granted, some fail on the second day, some fail after 20 years of flawless performance, but all of them fail eventually. Here’s an interesting post by Backblaze on how long disk drives last, just to give you an idea. Therefore, instead of hoping that the failure won’t happen to your site’s data, you’re way better off preparing yourself and setting things up in a way so you can get your site running again as soon as possible.
First of all, you need to take care of site backups. In its core, backing up is a simple thing. It’s about preserving a copy of your website somewhere else other than your standard server. You can get such functionality with a plugin like WordPress Backup to Dropbox. It will create a backup copy and store it in your Dropbox account. You can then take this backup and use it however you wish. Or you can go for a more high-end solution and get yourself a VaultPress account.
Another thing worth doing is checking out CloudFlare. CloudFlare creates multiple copies of your website and distributes them across a network of servers. You get a load of benefits because of this, and some additional site security is just one of them. (CloudFlare is free, by the way.)
Having taken care of site backups and having a tool like CloudFlare in your arsenal will allow you to keep your site online for a little longer (should it fail) and also enable you to restore it on a new web host quicker, in case of a major hosting fail.
2. Not using any security plugins
Although I know that plugins are just as much part of the problem as they are part of the solution (there are often a lot of security flaws in outdated or low quality plugins), having some high-quality security plugins can only pay off.
Here’s the thing. There are many different threats just waiting to throw a punch at your website. You have hackers, bots, server vulnerabilities, and etc. Some good security plugins will help you protect yourself from these threats. Here are two of my favorite ones:
- BulletProof Security. One of the top .htaccess security plugins out there. The best thing about it is that you don’t even have to know what .htaccess is to use this plugin. There are built-in presets that will take care of your site on autopilot.
3. Falling for the prettiest free theme you can find
Even though you will stumble upon hundreds of list posts on the web, giving you the “top free WordPress themes for [BLANK],” you shouldn’t trust them all that much. The people who publish those lists rarely go through each theme individually to check whether it’s actually a quality product. Instead, they just rely on the visuals. What it means for you – the reader – is that you can never know for sure if a given theme is going to be safe. In short, be cautious when looking for a free theme. Try these alternative paths instead:
- Right here at WPExplorer we offer some pretty awesome free WordPress themes. Our free themes are coded with care and include premium features such as custom post types, Google fonts, theme sliders and more.
- The official theme directory at WordPress.org. All themes in the directory have been tested, so you at least don’t have to deal with malicious code that someone included on purpose.
- Commercial theme stores. Apart from offering premium (paid) themes, some theme stores also give away free themes as a promotional method. Need a trusted source? Try WPExplorer Themes, Engine Themes, Themes Kingdom or ThemeIsle. Those themes are always the same quality as the store’s standard paid themes.
And finally, I know that this advice might not sit well with some of you, but if you want a safe, secure, functional, and nice looking theme, you’ll have to pay for it 90 percent of the time. You can also hire a designer do build a custom theme for you, but that will cost you much much more.
4. Not setting up an Editor account for your daily blogging tasks
WordPress has a range of built-in user roles that you can use when creating new accounts for yourself or for your team. There are accounts for Subscribers, Contributors, Authors, Editors, and Administrators. The default account that WordPress gives you when you first install your site is the main Administrator account (by the way, don’t ever make your login “admin”). The tricky part that they don’t tell you is that it’s a very good practice not to use this account for your regular blogging tasks. The Administrator account has access to every section of the wp-admin and can be used to change every setting. You just don’t need it to handle your standard blogging tasks.
For writing and publishing, create an Editor account for yourself with a semi-complex password that you can still remember. And when it comes to the Administrator account, change the login to something non-obvious (like “the-site-master-chief”), and change the password to something unguessable (like “dfqWW341##2”), then store this password with a tool like 1-Password or LastPass.
Is there anything else you should worry about?
Sure, there are tons of things that can cause you trouble from a technical point of view. Luckily, we’ve covered many of them in our previous posts, so instead of listing everything here again, I’ll just give you the links:
Although there’s much that can go wrong, don’t get discouraged. Let’s not forget that WordPress is an extraordinary piece of software and that it will simply take some time before you become proficient at it. For now, just start by getting familiar with the things described here and get ready for the second part. In it, we’ll be covering a completely different kind of ways to mess up your blog.