If you read my first post, then you know that this isn’t my first (or second) blog. It is my newest obsession and the blog that I have put the most effort into. This effort has led me to a huge community of fellow bloggers, photographers, designers, and entrepreneurs willing to share their experience and advice. In this spirit, I thought that I would share the websites that I have found most useful in creating my blog.
I chose WordPress as my blogging platform because of its user-friendly interface and customizability. The free version has over ninety themes to choose from and make your own. WordPress has monthly plans that offer additional features available for purchase. These plans are not required and WordPress doesn’t try to pressure users into buying them. Users also have the choice of self-hosting through WordPress.org. If you are new and just testing the waters, I recommend starting with a free WordPress.com account. You can always add features later on.
Even if the focus of your blog is writing, you will need to make it visually appealing in order to attract and engage readers. I decided to take the pictures myself and use photo editing software to make them blog-worthy. After test driving a few, I settled on PicMonkey. You can use it to edit photos, make collages, and create headers. It can make graphics and logos, and probably do a ton of other things that I haven’t discovered yet.
PicMonkey also has an app available. This allows users to take photos with their phone and add them to PicMonkey’s Hub. The photos can be retrieved and edited later from a computer. The app also offers watered-down features which are great for editing personal photos. Despite all that PicMonkey can do, it is unintimidating and reasonably priced (looking at you, PhotoShop). Their lowest plan is just $5.99 per month billed annually.
While I have been able to produce some great photos and graphics using PicMonkey, I found that I still have a need for stock photos. Sometimes I don’t have the opportunity to take a certain photo because of my geographic location. Sometimes I just don’t have the time or desire to to take and edit all of my own photos. There are a lot sites that sell stock photos of various quality and price. Two of my favorites are Pexels and Unsplash. Both sites have beautiful photos available for free. They are also attribution free though the photographers always appreciate a link to their site and/or shout-out on social media.
As user-friendly as these site are, I sometimes have difficulty figuring out how to do something – create a particular effect on a graphic or add a certain feature to my blog. YouTube has become my go-to site for blogging questions for one simple reason: the answers are visual. I’ve watched blog design tutorials, videos on ways to drive traffic to your blog, and step-by-step guides on how to use certain website features.
There are an infinite number of bells and whistles that you can add to your blog. Do not let yourself get distracted by them in the beginning. Familiarize yourself with your content management system’s controls. Add content. Tweak the design. Add more content. If all goes well and your new blog seems like something that can commit to, then you can add additional features. You will have a better idea of what you need. Please leave a comment below if you have any sites to add.