From time-to-time I get asked exactly what I use to publish this blog among other questions so today I thought it would be a good time to answer this question, what do we use to publish pla.net.nz?
First of all, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few general bits and pieces about the 3-types of blogs.
- Hosted blog, this is where you use a service such as WordPress.com, Blogger or Tumblr to provide all of your blogging services. They give you everything you need including your website address, website hosting and the blogging platform
- Self-hosted blog, this is where you buy your own website hosting, domain name and choose the blogging software of your choice installed on your website hosting account
- Hybrid, this is where you have a hosted blog but use your own website address and maybe even a custom design
For pla.net.nz we run a self-hosted blog
Website hosting & domain name: for website hosting and our domain name (pla.net.nz) we have chosen to use Central Pulse. They have been around for several years, have a good service and their Linux hosting includes a 1-click installation of most popular blogging platforms to make it easier than ever to set up your blogging software.
Blogging software: we have gone with the pack here using WordPress, it is the worlds most popular blogging software powering around 16% of the worlds websites, that’s right – not just blogs. This means they have a strong community to support their free software offering.
Website statistics/analytics: for monitoring our website statistics and run analytics we use 3 tools, the website hosting plans statistics, Google Analytics and Jetpack site statistics.
The normal website statistics provide information at a server level via 1 of 2 interfaces depending on what you prefer.
Google Analytics is a free service that provides more in-depth tracking of the traffic to your site
Jetpack site statistics is part of a larger free WordPress plugin that manages statistics at a software level
In the world of WordPress, your design or template is called a theme. There are generally 2 ways to go, build your own custom theme or get one from a WordPress theme website. We went with the later as rather than spending our days and nights designing we wanted to get right to blogging.
Something we have noticed with every theme we have tried and used is none are perfect, we have customized every theme to do or show some things differently to how they were initially designed. In saying that if you don’t want to get into the code you don’t need to, most just work out of the box.
Also think about mobile, how does your theme work on a mobile device? With smartphones being more and more important this can no longer be ignored. Luckily a very large number of themes exist that support smaller screen sizes.
A WordPress plugin is a small software package that you can install on your WordPress installation to preform a function that WordPress itself does not do. The plugins we use are:
Jetpack for WordPress is a comprehensive suite of tools, you can choose what you want to use and what you don’t use. I have “bolded” the names of the tools we use
- Notifications: monitor and manage your site’s activity with Notifications in your Toolbar and on WordPress.com
- Publicize: connect your site to popular social networks and automatically share new posts with your friends
- WordPress.com stats: simple, concise site stats with no additional load on your server
- Jetpack comments: a new comment system that has integrated social media login options
- Subscriptions: allow users to subscribe to your posts and comments to receive a notification via email
- Carousel: transform your standard image galleries into an immersive full-screen experience
- Likes: a way for people to show their appreciation for content you have written. It’s also a way for you to show the world how popular your content has become
- Posts by email: publish posts directly to your blog from your personal email address
- Sharing: the most super duper sharing tool on the interwebs. Share content with Facebook, Twitter, and many more
- Spelling and grammar: improve your spelling, style, and grammar with the “After the Deadline Proofreading” service
- Vault press: realtime backup and security scanning for your WordPress site
- Omnisearch: a single search box, that lets you search many different things
- Gravatar hovercards: show a pop-up business card of your users’ gravatar profiles in comments
- Contact form: easily insert a contact form anywhere on your site
- WP.me shortlinks: enable WP.me-powered shortlinks for all of your Posts and Pages for easier sharing
- Tiled galleries: create elegant magazine-style mosaic layouts for your photos without using an external graphic editor
- Custom CSS: customize the appearance of your site using CSS but without modifying your theme
- Shortcode embeds: easily embed videos and more from sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and SlideShare
- Mobile theme: automatically optimize your site for mobile devices
- Beautiful math: mark up your posts with the markup language, perfect for complex mathematical equations and other über-geekery
- Extra sidebar widgets: easily add images, Twitter updates, and your site’s RSS links to your theme’s sidebar
- Infinite scroll: automatically pull the next set of posts into view when the reader approaches the bottom of the page
- Photon: give your site a boost by loading images from the WordPress.com content delivery network
- Mobile push notifications: receive notifications on your Apple device
- JSON API: allow applications to securely access your content through the cloud
- Enhanced distribution: share your public posts and comments to search engines and other services in real-time
- Jetpack debugger: a debugging platform for the Jetpack plugin. Find out why Jetpack isn’t working for you and submit a help request direct from your Dashboard
Akismet is a spam system that is operated from a web service. Highly effective, we recommend this to everyone
Fancier Author Box is a small plugin that places author information on your posts, it supports Google+ Authorship so kills 2-birds with 1-plugin so to speak
Google XML Sitemaps make creating and submitting sitemaps a snap
Limit login attempts stops people trying to crack your passwords from gaining unauthorized entry to your website
Multitags allows you to display all posts that have the same tags. Nothing revolutionary until you realize you can specify as many tags as you want, you are no longer limited to just 1 tag
Short URL provides a shorter URL to your pages making it ideal for sharing on social networks like Twitter where there is a limited amount of space to post
WordPress Editorial Calendar allows you to keep on top of when you posted your articles and what you have coming up in a handy calendar format
WordPress SEO (also known as Yaost SEO) is probably the most comprehensive SEO extension available to WordPress not only giving you to the tools to optimize your website but analyzing certain aspects of each page or post also. Don’t forget that quality content is key however!
WP Google Analytics integrates Google Analytics tracking on your website. Google Analytics is supported by Yoast SEO however 1 feature drew us to WP Google Analytics – don’t send admin user data when logged in, this allows us to get a better idea of what website visitors are doing without admin users muddying the data
Take your time
When creating your blog take the time to set it up right. Don’t just put something up and pretend it is going to work because it wont.
Think about your categories, what are your general topics?
Think about what information you want to be displayed on the side of each page.
Think about when you’re posting, the scheduling feature of WordPress is great for writing late at night and publishing the next day while your in the middle of something else.
Above all, have fun with it and create great content regularly.