In the past 13 years I ran an ever growing web site network and also have done admin work for many of my web design clients. While not all of these sites are personal finance blogs, most have a blog attached to them and some of my clients (and myself, when being less experienced) complained they needed expensive hosting plans to handle the ‘load’.
Back in the day, when I was also providing web hosting services, most clients would come to me to get a big plan at a reasonable price. Since I like to be frugal even when it comes to hosting, I’d ask them to allow me to take a look. Almost every time the blogs had puny traffic (under 1000 visitors/day) and yet they used up some huge resources.
A proper set-up and some careful admin routines can help you keep your blog on a VERY affordable plan, while also earning money from various advertising deals and enjoying an increased traffic. This is what I’d usually give my clients before a web hosting offer: a list of what we can do to cut down on the resource consumption and only after few weeks we could decide if we need to move up on the hosting plans or not. 100% times their hosting plan was perfect, no need to pay extra.
So, here are the settings that allow me to keep my personal finance blog on a small hosting plan and might also help you:
1. Personal finance theme design – SIMPLE!
Right now, as I am writing this, PFToday runs on a premium theme I have adapted. It’s bad, just as many premium themes are today. With lots of useless junk that looks ‘cool’ and eats up resources. No, I haven’t yet dared look at my speed ranking, it would just make me sick. A custom theme is in the works, but it will take a while to finish. Something very simple, very professional and modern and SUPER-fast loading.
That’s what you need.
This is the no.1 one place you can make a huge change. A fast and still elegant theme can save a lot of resources, which saves you money.
2. Your money blog can really do without 500 active plugins.
There are a gazillion of plugins in the WordPress repository, this doesn’t mean our personal finance blogs should have all of them installed. Again, the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle works wonders: have the bare minimum and let your blog ‘breathe’.
All my blogs have few plugins that I can’t live without (Akismet, Redirections, a cache plugin, Yoast SEO etc.). I don’t think there are more than 10 and all of them do something very important for my blog: they keep spam away, they help minimize the resource consumption, they allow me to redirect broken links etc.
If you fear you have too many plugins, drop me a line and I can take a look. I can make a list with the plugins I’d ditch and you can then decide on what to do. Most my clients took my advice and were able to save lots of money by not having their small blog use up dedicated server resources.
3. Don’t upload big images
Most of the times my clients are almost on the brink of getting their account suspended (and asked to pay more for a bigger hosting plan) because of the HUGE images they upload. When you take a pic, resize it first and then upload it.
I had to do some ‘cleaning’ on my clients’ blogs and was appalled to see 6MB pictures (or close to this). You don’t need to upload a 4000 pixels wide pic, nobody can view it in full res, it takes more time to load and, as you guessed, it uses up resources (disk space and bandwidth).
As a personal rule, I try to not upload anything bigger than 800-1000 pixels wide, which roughly translates to about 100-200Kb. This means that I can upload thousands of photos like this instead of few huge ones.
If the damage was already done (you uploaded big photos), you can download the image resizer tool and resize the images.
Short tutorial on how to resize your uploaded images:
Connect via FTP to your blog. Go to wp-content. Then open the uploads directory. You’ll see there a list of directories. Download everything on your computer and then navigate to each directory.
List your files descending – based on size, this will list the biggest ones first. Select the big ones, right click and run the image resizer. Select a custom size (or a pre-set size), let the tool do the job. Upload the new files.
By doing this resizing for my clients I was able to save them a lot of space and also the bandwidth stayed low. If I could keep a pretty active blog on a tiny hosting account, theirs should have never needed more resources than it.
4. Your personal finance blog needs a good cache plugin
Fast-forward years ago (6, I think). I’d tell you to never bother with a cache plugin, since it will break your design. It did with few of mines back in the day, but these plugins have come a long way since. Right now I have been using them successfully on ALL of my WordPress installations. It’s one of the first plugins I also install on my clients’ projects.
The 2 I usually work with are WP Super Cache (we use it here) and also WP Total Cache (I recommend this to Godaddy hosting clients – in the past months I have noticed there were some issues with WP Super Cache at least for some of their clients I worked for).
Regardless, install a cache plugin: it will help a lot wit the loading time and it will also keep the resource consumption low.
5. Take a look at your errors files.
Sometimes things can go wrong with a theme or a plugin, so the server will create error files. They can be easily spotted via FTP. Look for error_log, usually it resides in the root and sometimes in other directories (the theme directory, plugins directories etc.)
In some cases, if you don’t apply a fix to said error, the log will grow every time someone views your blog. If we are talking a high traffic blog, you can waste a lot of space with such a file.
Ideally you should fix the problems (or get someone to do it). If the file is too huge already, you can delete it and in few minutes you should already have a log.
The error log view can also be done in cPanel, if you have a cPanel hosting account (which I recommend 1000%).
Here are my tips to keep your personal finance blog ‘slender’ and fast. It will allow you to save money on web hosting, have a fast site and provide an excellent experience to your visitors. Would you add anything to this list?