I’ve had a couple of friends ask me what I use for my blog, so I thought I’d just lay it all out right here!
UPDATED 4/26/18 – I recently switched from Blogger to WordPress.com because my creative and blogging needs changed (again), so I figured it would be a good idea to update this post! Interesting side note – most people hate the migration process, but I kind of enjoy it… I’m a code nerd lol.
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A lot of bloggers recommend self-hosted WordPress (wordpress.org) sites. I tried that for a while, but in the end I felt too much pressure to make money because of the cost, and I was too distracted by all the amazing themes and plugins they offer. Don’t get me wrong, it is an incredibly powerful tool and I loved fiddling with it, but it ended up being a little more than I needed for this here hobby blog.
Next up is Google’s Blogger, the platform I started out on back in 2010. It’s has a simple UI and all the tools a blogger needs to start out. The reason I switched is because I’m a huge nerd for HTML & CSS, and I like my blog to be as organized as possible. Blogger is a great tool, but I just couldn’t keep things (categories, tags, images, css, etc) as tidy as I could with WordPress.
I recently switched over to WordPress.com and I’ve been very happy with it. In addition to increased organization, it also offers different plans depending on your needs. I decided I wanted the features that come with the Premium plan (such as security, customer service, access to premium themes, CSS control, and the ability to use WordAds for site monetization. They offer free and personal plans if you need a little less, and a business plan if you need a little more.
I’ve also used Weebly in the past, and it is a fantastic website builder if you just need a static website, but at this point I don’t recommend it for blogging. The drag and drop interface gets a little glitchy in my experience.
If you’re looking for a flexible tool with more design control that doesn’t break the bank, Blogger is probably the way to go. It also integrates really well with Adsense and Amazon Native Ads if you choose to go that route. The templates that come with Blogger aren’t much to look at, but there are a lot of people who make beautiful templates and sell them on Etsy. The one I used is from Blog Pixie, and they have both Blogger and WordPress themes (but you can only use the WordPress ones with self hosted WordPress or WordPress.com’s business plan). If you’re not OCD about the look of your site like I am, WordPress.com’s free option will work just fine. When it comes down to it, you’ll just have to do your research and decide which platform will work best for your needs.
In my perfect world, WordPress.com and Blogger would just merge already…
Photos and Photo Editing
There are header designs and stock photos out there that you can buy or even find for free (check out Pixabay for free ones!), but I usually like to make my own blog headers and take my own pictures. I am by no means a professional photographer, but I feel like I’ve made some progress over the years and a lot of that is due to wanting to have pretty pictures for my blog haha. I use Adobe Illustrator for my headers and Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to edit my photos. I’ve tried to find cheaper alternatives, but there’s really nothing I’ve found that compares to Adobe. It’s powerful software that’s easy to learn!
For my pictures, I mostly use my phone (Google Pixel 2) but I’ve been trying to use my Sony Alpha a5000 more. It’s a mirrorless digital camera so it’s more compact than a DSLR, but still takes awesome pictures with most of the typical DSLR settings. The Pixel takes good pictures, but the Sony definitely takes them up a notch.
Sony Alpha a5000’s are a little harder to come by nowadays, but the next model up, the Sony Alpha a6000 is available on Amazon!
Most computers these days will work for blogging and photo editing. You really don’t need a specific recommendation, but I thought I’d still share my preference as a creative junkie.
I used to use a gaming desktop that my husband built for me, and that worked really well for 7 years or so, but it was huge and I really missed the portability of a laptop. When my desktop became too slow to function without me wanting to break things, I did a lot of research on laptops. MacBooks are an obvious choice for a lot of people, and they are great computers, but I wanted a PC.
At first I wanted to settle for whatever cheap laptop I could get, but then decided I’d probably be happier with something more powerful (since my hobbies consist of logo design, digital painting, photography and photo editing, and gaming). I looked into gaming laptops and laptops for designers, as well as convertible laptops that magically transform into tablets. I knew gaming laptops would have the power I needed for the software I wanted to run, but I ultimately settled on the Microsoft Surface Book 2. It’s a powerful touch screen convertible laptop that is great for both design and gaming. I loved that it can also convert into a tablet for drawing! I bought the Surface Pen to go with it, along with a cute pink case to protect it. This computer was NOT cheap, but it was an investment that has served me well and I’m extremely happy with it!
PS – I’ve got my Facebook page for my blog back up and running (I took it down for a while because I was too lazy to keep up with it… we will see how it goes this time haha) so head on over and click that “like” button if you want to stay in the loop 👍😁