We’ve had many questions from our readers about just how exactly we put together our blog and which sort of products and services we use to keep our site up and running. On this page you will find a collection of the best resources we’ve found along the way. Hopefully this page will be a help to you, when you begin to start your new blog or website.
!Disclosure – Affiliate Links Ahead!
A domain name is like a personal address to your website. If people are going to find you on the web, you need to have a domain name. Example – getinspiredeveryday.com
Almost every hosting company can provide you with a domain name. In fact, usually they will even offer you a better deal if you get both your domain name and hosting service from the same company at the same time. We purchased our domain name through GoDaddy. They are the world’s largest registrar of domain names. Consider which Top-Level Domain (TLD) you want. A TLD is most commonly known as .com or .net, however in recent years there has been more and more TLD’s becoming available. To learn more about top level domains you can visit this wiki page – List of Internet Top-Level Domains.
3 Tips To Consider While Choosing A Domain Name
- Visit Domainr to check and see if your domain name idea is available.
- Consider a name that has keywords that apply to the topic of your website. This will help you rank higher in Google’s search results sooner.
- Try to pick a simple, shorter name that’s easy to spell.
Web Hosting Service
A web host is a company that will provide you with a server to store your website name and website files. The server, they are essentially renting to you, is sort of like a digital filing cabinet where you can store web pages. They also make your website available to the world wide web(www).
Bluehost – We hosted our blog for a short period of time with Bluehost after we moved from a shared hosting plan with GoDaddy.com. At the time, we were really impressed by how user-friendly their control panel was. I remember when we were starting out, everything seemed so overwhelming and difficult that it was nice to have a simple layout to work from. So, if your just starting out, Bluehost is a great choice.
Media Temple – Get Inspired Everyday! is currently hosted with Media Temple. The reason we switched from Bluehost to Media Temple was because in early 2013 Bluehost didn’t have a dedicated server hosting plan available where Media Temple did. We were beginning to experience traffic spikes and wanted a server that could handle the busy times without crashing our site. Also, by moving to a dedicated server we learned that we wouldn’t be as open to the risk of viruses and other security threats that a shared server has. Overall, we are happy with the performance and the “uptime” of our website and can stand behind their service.
For more details about our experience with web hosting providers and what to consider before choosing a web host, you can visit – http://getinspiredeveryday.com/web-hosting/
Content Management System (CMS)
A content management system is a critical part of blogging that you will use day in and day out. It is what creates, edits, and manages your web pages, posts, and media. It also publishes your content to the world wide web. It is often referred to as the backend or “behind the scenes” part of a website that the world doesn’t see.
The 3 Most Popular Content Management Systems
I honestly can’t speak for Joomla or Drupal because I haven’t worked with them. However, I can highly recommend using WordPress as a great CMS for your website, and – Great news! – WordPress is one of those completely amazing and critical resources that is free to everyone. WordPress is also the #1 used blogging platform. WordPress offers a very easy, user-friendly layout and design for you to work from. They are constantly updating and upgrading so you stay current with the latest the web has to offer. We recommend using WordPress.org (self-hosted version) as opposed to WordPress.com, mainly because it gives you the ability for more customization of your website. You can read more about the differences from their website – WordPress | .com vs .org. You can also check out this video that does a great job of explaining the differences. – WordPress.com Vs. WordPress.org
Here’s the link to where you can download the latest version of WordPress(self-hosted) – WordPress.org
Back-Up Service – VaultPress
What is VaultPress? According to their website, VaultPress is a subscription-based protection, security and backup service for WordPress blogs and sites. After doing research of our own, we decided that VaultPress was the best choice for us to backup the content on our blog. There’s nothing worse than losing all your hard work to a computer crash; so backing up your work can be a life-saver. Many hosts offer routine backups for your site, but when it comes to your content, it’s best to have it stored in more than one place. The great thing about VaultPress is that they offer not just daily backups but also “Realtime Backups”. Realtime backups means they can be synchronized with your website. So, when you make any change at all, VaultPress immediately saves those changes. They also look for any security threats that could be within your website coding and they will notify you right away.
For more info about what they offer you can visit them at – VaultPress.com
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
If your looking into hosting or how to install WordPress, you may come across the term FTP Client. This is basically a program that will upload files from your home computer onto the server that stores you website’s files. Once you get to know how to use FTP, it’s pretty easy. You can usually drag and drop files from your desktop into the program, and the program will do the rest. This should be a term you are familiar with and you may want to consider downloading an FTP Client. For Mac users, a few good free ones are Transmit and CyberDuck. For Windows users FileZilla seems to be popular.
Choosing the right theme for your blog or website can help really set you apart from others. Consider choosing a premium(paid for) theme. These themes are highly search engine optimized(SEO) in the way their code is written right into the framework of the theme. I thought that I should mention, some people use a free WordPress theme and then install a whole bunch of plugins to add functionality to their website. That can be a lot of extra work and frustration in the long run, not to mention, most of the plugins available will actually slow down your website. So…. that is kind of the point of premium themes, they have a lot of the extras built right into them. These days when choosing a theme, you should highly consider a theme that is mobile optimized. A theme that is responsive and works on all desktop, tablet, and phones will not only increase traffic to your website but also can save you the headache of customizing it yourself.
X| The Theme
The WordPress theme we are currently using is called X | The Theme by Theme.co. You can purchase this theme from ThemeForest in the Envato Marketplace. I can’t say enough about how great this theme is. It is highly customizable, mobile responsive and really really user-friendly. With the research I’ve done, I’d venture to say that the X Theme is likely the best theme available for your WordPress blog. They have an incredible list of features that you should really check out… it’s quite impressive and seems to be unmatched.
Plugins are defined as tools that extend the functionality of WordPress. They can add greatly to your visitors experience by making your website look better, as well as help with SEO(Search Engine Optimization). As I mentioned earlier, some plugins are developed to help boost your websites speed, but most plugins will actually slow down your website. So, that is something to consider; you don’t want too many plugins.
Tip: Before you install a new plugin, ensure that it is compatible with the latest version of WordPress. Some plugin authors don’t maintain or update their plugins regularly. You can search for free WordPress plugins at – WordPress Plugins
Some of our favorite plugins we are using:
- Akismet – Protects your blog from spam comments.
- Broken Link Checker – Checks your blog for broken or missing links and reports back to you.
- Easy Recipe – This plugin is what displays our recipes in our Food section in a nice easy to read format at the bottom of each post.
- Sharing is Caring – Provides social media sharing options for your readers on each post
- Vaultpress – Backs up your site and kicks out any bugs. Subscription based – daily backups from $5.00/month
Google is commonly known to be mostly a search engine, but it doesn’t take much digging to find that Google is into just about everything on the web. Going way beyond just a search engine, they have done a really great job developing apps, and tools to help bloggers and web designers alike.
A few key apps that have been very helpful for us getting started:
- Gmail – Our preferred e-mail account
- Google Chrome – Our favorite web browser
- Google Drive – Your own personal hard drive on the web – or cloud storage as they say these days.
- Google Webmaster Tools – Essential for bloggers – Gives you a picture of your websites health, optimization, and insights about the traffic and audience your receives. Go through the Webmaster Academy to learn more about how Google works.
- Google Analytics – More in-depth detail about the visitors to your website. Helps you to understand how people are coming to your website and how they move through it.
Share This Page!
Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest etc… all excellent ways to send traffic to your site and get your name out there faster. Also great for interacting with your readers on a more personal level.
Last year we invested in Apple technology. Since then, we feel that it has really made blogging easier for us. These days you just can’t operate efficiently anymore using old technology. So, whether it’s Apple or Windows, a good fast computer with lots of RAM(Random Access Memory) and if you got the money a solid state hard drive can save you loads of time.
How do you manage your photos and videos? An external hard drive is a great way to store all your media in one safe place without slowing down your computer.
2 external hard drives we are using that I can personally recommend:
– Nice small portable drive. Great for traveling.
– Great desktop drive. Love the fast transfer speeds.
Photography is a whole subject unto itself. I’ll try to keep it brief. One of the best resources I can’t recommend enough is Trey Ratcliff’s website stuckincustoms.com. We have learned an incredible wealth of knowledge about all subjects of photography from his website. It’s definitely worth looking into.
Where to Buy?
We’ve done a great deal of research all over the web and have found that the best place to get your gear is from B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio. The reason is because they consistently have excellent deals along with an unmatched product selection, and they are a 100% U.S. based company. Guaranteed they will have just about anything you need, whether your just starting into photography or for professionals. The #1 reason you should buy your gear from B&H Photo, is because they are authorized re-sellers of the products they are selling. This is an extremely important point for many reasons. I’ve found that from time to time you may be able to find a slightly lower price elsewhere, but more often then not, the merchant isn’t an authorized re-seller. There is all kinds of knock-offs and black market products floating around out there that you don’t want to end up with. Not only that, but when you purchase from a reputable authorized re-seller, they ensure that you are getting the latest, original, factory fresh, quality product. Often times, other retailers will purchase their inventory from the manufacturer, it then sits on the shelf for several months or even years, then you buy it thinking you got the latest technology. Another great reason to buy from a reputable company, is because they stand behind the products they are selling. They can actually assist you with questions about your product, tech support, customer service, and can help you make more informed choices before you drop thousands of dollars. So, be sure to check out B&H Photo for all your photography needs.
Thus far, we’ve owned and prefer Cannon Cameras over other manufacturers. Most of the photos on the site come from our Canon EOS Rebel Xsi 12.2 MP. Occasionaly, we use our Canon PowerShot D10 12.1 MP (great, durable, and water-proof point and shoot camera) on some of our hiking and traveling endeavours. There are also a few photos we’ve used that were taken with an Apple iPad 32GB.
*Update January 2014* – Upgraded to a new Canon EOS 5d Mark III DSLR Camera – Expensive, but worth every penny. It will transform you life… if your a photographer.
SD Memory Cards
Memory cards can vary in size, shape, and speed depending on what you need them for. I guess maybe the important point that is often overlooked is the speed of your card. If you are shooting a lot of photos in high definition and in RAW file format, you should be considering a fast card with lots of memory. Your memory cards speed should be no less then 15MB/second. For high def. RAW images, taken in quick succession, you should use at least 40MB/second memory card. Amazon usually has some pretty good deals on SD Memory Cards.
We have been using Apple’s Aperture app for photo editing. It’s been pretty good thus far, but recently we made the switch to using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5. This program is wonderfully designed in everything from organization to powerful and creative editing tools. Adobe also offers some excellent video lessons on how you can use Lightroom 5 to it’s full potential. Additionally, some more great software for advanced editing techniques that allows you to work in layers with your photos is Adobe Photoshop CS6.
This list is by no means all encompassing, but it is a great place for you to get started. The one important thing to take away from all this, is that it pays to do your research. By doing so, you will make more informed choices about the resources you should use on your blog or website.
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