These days, starting a blog is relative easy. This is particularly the case if you decide to use platforms like Blogger or Tumblr where everything is pretty much ready to go as soon as you create your account. Other platforms like WordPress.org (which is very different from WordPress.com) takes a little more effort but is totally worth it for the extra flexibility you get with your site design when you go with the platform. If however, you want to start a Wordpress.org blog/website and you don’t know where to begin – we’ve got simple instruction here to get you on your merry way.

3 Really Helpful Tools You Need To Supercharge Your Blog

Now, that your blog is all set up and running, the next thing you definitely should be focusing on is how to supercharge your blog. How can you take your blog that extra notch up and reveal it to be the unicorn that you’ve always known it to be. By unicorn here, I’m not talking about how to increase traffic on your blog – that’s a story for another day. I’m talking about how to get your site looking, running and feeling exactly as you’ve aspire for it to look all this while though in truth, upping your website’s design will actually help your increase your traffic!

1.) move to a managed Website host

There are so many hosting companies out there which are great for starter blogs but once your blog starts to get some decent traffic, it’s definitely time to consider managed hosting. We’ve been very fortunate to see our traffic grow a lot on here but that didn’t come without its challenges, we outgrew the initial hosting package we had very easily and as good as the cheap packages are, they tend to lack the reliability the managed hosting companies have.

I haven’t even told you what managed hosting is. Effectively, just think of managed hosting as having a butler for your website. They take care of everything for you including simple (yet not-so-simple) tasks like backing up your site, securing your site, updating the wordpress versions…etc. You can contact them anytime you have any issues and the teams sort out everything for you! Pretty sweet, right?

We’ve researched the Managed Hosting market quite thoroughly and had first-hand experiences with different hosts and while the releiability side of things tends to be quite good, the problem is that most of them don’t cheap (with prices starting around $50 per month).

Thankfully, we’ve managed to nail down two main companies which offer the best prices on managed hosting while still providing decent prices, especially when you initially move and don’t need / can’t afford $100s each month on hosting feed.

RECOMMENDATION 1: My preferred recommendation is Flywheel. This is the one that I’d go with as a first choice! Prices start at $15 / £10 per month with the tier increases being more reasonable as your traffic increases. Best still, they’ll migrate your site for you for FREE (this typically cost $100 anywhere else) so if you decide to go with them, all you need to do is just that – decide, and they’ll sort out the rest for you. If your site is already even bigger than the packages available, they can create custom plans to suit you which I love. You can check out the full features here.

3 Really Helpful Tools You Need To Super Charge Your Blog (2)

RECOMMENDATION 2: My next recommendation is Lightning Base. This is the cheaper of the two to start with (£6 /$9.95 per month) and you do get more features on the whole but at the starter level, you get less storage space for your site (typically images / videos on your site will take up the most space). They also offer free site migrations which is pretty sweet too! I’ve used this for the smaller site (photos.handluggageonly.co.uk) and never had any problems with it even once. You can check out the full features here.

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Website traffic benefits of moving to Managed Hosting: The move to managed hosting will speed up your site and optimise your site (if it isn’t running at optimum levels, your host’ll let you know and help you sort it out) which in turn will increase your site SEO rankings as Google tends to favour faster websites.

 

 

2.) Change your theme

Unlike managed hosting (which isn’t quite as mainstream), every blogger worth their salt pretty much knows what a blog theme is. If you don’t however, a theme is the design your blog has – simple as.

There’s such a temptation to go for the free themes that come with whatever platform you’re with however, when you do get started, it always makes sense to to go for a theme that feels and looks exactly how you’d love your website to look! Anything else is kinda like running on half tank and unless you can’t afford the cost to buy a decent theme, getting a premium theme is without a doubt an important step in getting your site to the next level of awesomeness.

RECOMMENDATION: My recommendation for buying a theme is ThemeForest. As you already know, we change thing up quite a lot on here and despite trying several theme website, we always go back to ThemeForest. Choosing a theme however does need a bit of thought and consideration but we’ve got that covered with a few handy tips to help you on your way.

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5 tips to help you choose the right theme.

1.) Don’t compromise – if you see the slightest thing you dislike about the theme, then disregard it. You won’t like it anymore than that initial moment when you see it for the first time. If you’re already doubtful of the theme from the start then, you’ll grow to resent it quite quickly.

2.) Look out for themes that have customisable options.

3.) Pay attention to the responsiveness of a theme. Responsiveness, for the uninitiated, means for your theme to always look good on whatever platform you’re using it e.g. mobile, tablet, laptops..). Always look out for this though to be fair, most themes are responsive these days.

4.) Avoid the popular page. You don’t want your site to look like everyone else’s website. This is your chance to let your personality shine so make the effort to search for the theme that’s just right. (Seriously, you should be fussier than Goldilocks when it comes to selecting a theme).

5.) Do check out all the different layout available for your  theme e.g. single pages without sidebars, single pages with right sidebar, single pages with left sidebars…etc – you get my drift!

The overall thing to remember is that your theme should be reflective of you.

Website traffic benefits of moving to selecting the right theme: As they are getting paid to design the themes, paid for themes creators tend to spend that extra time and effort ensuring the theme has SEO benefits that might otherwise not be present in the default themes.

 

 

3.) Invest in plugins

Plugins are to a website what apps are to our smartphones. Thankfully, they’re also as easy to install and the need for a specific premium plugin tends to get be one that is self evident. Effectively, you never really need to worry about having to get the right plugins, the reason why you need any plugin will usually become apparent before you need to look for the plugin (e.g. SEO management plugins, social media sharing plugins, image gallery plugins, instagram display plugins… etc). As with apps, you can get away with using a lot of free plugins (e.g. you can use Woocommerce plugin to create a shop) but there are just sometimes when the only thing that’s left for it is for you to install a premium plugin.

RECOMMENDATION: My recommendation for buying plugins is CodeCanyon. Do remember that there are a lot of great FREE plugins out there of course but always check the ratings and if you can’t find a free plugin despite searching or if the free plugin has terrible ratings, then you definitely should head to CodeCanyon.

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Website traffic benefits of moving to selecting the right plugins: This is a fairly obvious one. Some of these premium plugins can help you organise your website better, improve the SEO rankings of your site (there are a LOT dedicated to this), make it faster…etc. Effectively, I can’t stress this analogy enough, plugins are like apps for your phone so if you realise that there’s something you’d like to add to or improve on your blog/website, then these plugins are bound to help you do so with lots of fringe benefits to be realised in addition to the original reason you set out to get the plugins in the first place.

3 Really Helpful Tools You Need To Supercharge Your Blog

3 Really Helpful Tools You Need To Supercharge Your Blog

And there you have it, three very simple tools that will help supercharge your website and make it that extra bit special!

Remember, if you do have any questions about any of this or indeed about whatever other matter related to starting or running a blog, drop us a comment below or send us an email and we’d be more than happy to help out!

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  • Thanks for sharing this! So helpful! (:
    I have a question though, it might seem stupid haha, but when you change themes do you lose everything you already have? I’m assuming your posts won’t go away…but pages or the plugins you have already installed, etc. I’m hesitant to switch because I don’t want to fu*k everything up…
    xx http://www.nuunablog.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Hi Emma,

      When you change themes, everything stays the same (content-wise). You sidebar and widgets move around but don’t get deleted (all you need to do it move them where you need them to be). The plugins stay the same as do the pages so you’ll be perfectly fine on that account. Best part, if you don’t like it, you can always roll back to the original so it’s a fairly stress-free way to change things up. 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

      • Thank you so much!! You guys are the best! (:
        xx

  • These are some great tips, and I’m heading over to ThemeForest as we speak to browse! 🙂 Thank you!

    — LisaLDN.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks Lisa! So glad you liked our tips!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Thanks for sharing those tips. I don’t have a hosting yet, but I’m looking for it. I will definitely keep Flywheel in mind!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      No problem Ariane! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Chris

    Thanks for suggesting Lightning Base Yaya. You’ve got a nice site here, I’m glad we’re involved in what you’re doing!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks Chris! 🙂

  • Thank you for these tips I’m going to check out theme forest!

    http://www.abigailalicex.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Hope it’s useful Abigail 🙂 xx

  • Exactly what you said it would be…3 simple tips. Happy Days! fxday2day is in it’s infancy and we’ll be sure to apply all three of your tips in due course, but for now…can you talk more about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Are they not the same thing? Is one better than the other?

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much. ‘.com’ is a much faster, quick to apply website maker, though you tend to have much less control or flexibility in the type of things you’d like to change. .org is more about a platform to piece together the website of your dreams though it can be more time consuming and a little more complex. In the long term, .org is very useful.

      🙂

  • dolceandmasala

    I recently discovered your blog and have quickly become obsessed with it! There is so much useful information here for new bloggers like myself. Though I have to admit that I get distracted from my own tasks and wind up scrolling through your travel photography instead. I went with a free theme to start because I couldn’t quite figure out the right layout…it was too much information to shift through. A couple of months in and I definitely need to change. Will use your tips to find a good fit.
    http://www.dolceandmasala.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much! We’re really happy you found it helpful… we did the same with the free themes at first, it really helps and the perfect way to dip your toes into the theme options without paying.

      Always happy to help in any way we can, just pop us a message if you have any questions!

      Lloyd & Yaya 🙂

  • I’ll have to look into Flywheel & Lightning Base, Having a managed site directly with wordpress is restrictive and since switching to a self managed site with them I’ve had some issues that I wasn’t having before. Really ANNOYING!! I really want to switch back to a managed site but wasn’t to sure on the options available.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Oh yeah, definitely check them out – let us know how you get on.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx