“Yay! Writing is easy – blogging is fun! There’s no work involved at all!”
I was blissfully unaware of the tasks that are involved with keeping a blog maintained!
Luckily, WordPress maintenance isn’t too much of a brain-bender – and it seems like it’s always getting easier. But there ARE a few things that you need to stay on top of if you don’t want to wake up one morning and find out you’ve lost all your hard work.
(Yes, I know people that has happened to – I thank the Bloggy Goddess that it’s never happened to me)
Here’s a guide to the five main areas you need to take care of.
1) Keep Regular Backups
This is the first thing on the list because it is the #1 thing that will save your butt if the poop ever hits the fan.
While some hosts keep backups, it’s never a good idea to depend on them to rescue you – it’s always better to have your own backups. Even if you don’t know how to restore your blog from the backups, if you have them you can beg, cajole or pay someone else to do it for you.
Backing up your blog has two steps. The first thing is the database – it’s where the settings, posts, pages and so on are stored. To back this up, you can use a plug-in like WP-DB-Backup; it’ll send you a backup of your database file right to your email. Here’s a video I made to show you how easy it is to install the plug-in.
The next part of backing up your blog is the content folder – it contains all your plug-in files, your images and and all the other stuff you’ve uploaded to your blog. To do this, you need to login to your hosting account via your regular FTP program. Find the folder where you’ve installed WordPress and locate the “wp-content” folder. Copy that to your local computer hard drive. Simple!
2) Updating Your Blog
Every so often, WordPress comes out with new versions of their platform, and that means you need to update your blog to the newest version. The danger of not updating is that you leave your blog vulnerable to hackers and other security risks. Fortunately, updating is super easy.
When there is a new update, you’ll get a notification on your WP dashboard – just click on it, and do what it says to update. I know a lot of people are nervous about updating, because yes, it is possible that there’s going to be some sort of issue and the update will go wonky on you.
That’s why you always make sure to do a backup BEFORE you update. 😉
3) Keep Your Plug-ins Organized
Generally, when WP gets updated, a lot of your plug-ins will send out an update also, to keep them working with the new version. You’ll know when you see something that looks like this –
That little orange number is your sign that there’s an update! Just click the buttons to update as needed.
Updating isn’t your only plug-in maintenance – Once a month or so, you should go through your plugins to deactivate and delete any that you no longer need or use. It will help keep your blog running smoothly, and also reduce vulnerabilities to hackers.
4) Broken Links
This is a tough one if you have a lot of out-going links, like affiliate links. But you you need to check them on a routine basis and make sure that none of the links are broken. Vendors can remove products, or more them to new pages – and then your link goes to an error page and that makes you look bad.
You can use the plugin Broken Link Checker to do a sweep of all your outgoing links and find any broken ones. You can set that plugin to do automated sweeps on a regular basis, or use it manually. I recommend the manual method, especially if you’re an Amazon affiliate – if it sweeps too often, it can really do a number on your click-thru stats.
5) Extra Security Measures
Please, please, please – make sure you use a secure, hard to guess password; I’m absolutely floored by how many people use the word “password” as their password!! Don’t reuse passwords on different sites, and you should also avoid using the default “Admin” username on your blog.
I like to create passwords out of sentences, making sure to include numbers and/or symbols. The sentence would be something about the site – for instance, if I had a blog about my kids, the sentence might be “This is where I blog about my 2 boys Chino & Chato” – then taking the first letter from each word, the password would be “TiwIbam2bC&C” – and that’s a pretty secure password.
You can also install the plugin Secure WordPress to help keep vulnerabilities to a minimum.
So – you can see that keeping your blog maintained doesn’t take hours to do, and in fact most of it can be done with simple plugins.
If your blog is your business, you definitely need to make sure that you take the time to do these tasks – after all, a hacked or crashed blog can cause your income to dry up, and that would truly suck.