Advice for a dummy trying to set up a very simple blog?

My goal is to use blogging software to create a record of my travels over the next few months. A static page showing the map, a sidebar listing stops, and then a page for each stop, with photos and simple commentary. White text on an otherwise totally black page. Ideally the photos extending horizontally to take up most of the screen.

Very simple.

I have the web space, and I have a Word Press installation, but the themes I have tried to this point offer so many options regarding widgets and analytics and headers and logos and transparency and… for fuck’s sake, how bout a way to set page color, text color, and let me get at it? (Almost all the settings refer to headers and footers, and when they finally offer control over body background, it just puts black around the paragraph but leaves the page white, which is butt ugly.)

At this point, I don’t know whether this basic stuff is right there in front of me and I am missing it, or whether they deliberately withhold this until you upgrade to pro, or whether I am using entirely the wrong theme, and there are themes meant for users like me.

Any advice out there for a total dummy?

Are you using (hosted wordpress) or your own install of Wordpress?

I’m using the hosted option and I basically just scroll through the list of available themes and try to find one that’s close to what I want. Usually you can find a setting inside the theme to let you change the theme to a light version or a dark version.

I’d warn anybody against running a non-hosted Wordpress in today’s climate since there are so many security vulnerabilities.

This 100x.

Sorry, I meant Keeping abreast of DIY security on Wordpress’s myriad of plugins and themes is a losing battle.

Unless you are a web developer, use hosted, medium, or even linked in.

Even web devs aren’t network security specialists and can’t always keep on top of the infra-based bugbears. Security is the last item on their checklist from the devs I know. If it even shows up as an item at all.

Disappointed in a lack of linked git tutorials and Github Pages or maybe Jekyll if we’re feeling spicy.

Squarespace is another easy option.

Neither. The install was done by the same web host I have used for other things. Are you saying that that is a problem?

Yeah, that won’t keep it security updated. You’ll get the security stuff for free if you sign up at

I do manage this stuff as a (small) part of my job. I sort of regret even doing it for myself because it’s a pain to keep everything up to date. There’s probably a decent photo/trip template on Wordpress ready to go. You might need to buy one non-free template and then, depending on your other needs, might be able to get by with the 100% free hosting plan or use the cheapest of their plans if you do need a more specific template and/or your own domain name.

If you were developer you could do it in Github pages free and be secure but it’s not nearly as user friendly.

For reach you really should consider what you could do regular social networks. Consider ‘blogging’ on Facebook or Linked In for example. You’ll have to compromise on how it looks but a lot more people will see it.

All that said getting a non-critical site hacked isn’t the the end of the world. You’d have to nuke the site and restore from an old backup but I still think the only reason to run it yourself is if you really need to get into the guts to customize it.

Okay, looking into

Years ago, my blogsite set up in the same way was rendered frozen due to unpatched Wordpress issues. Not worth your time to have a non-hosted install.

Yep, what all the others have said. I have a few hosted wordpress blogs and you don’t have to get a plan to get a custom domain name or CSS modifications. A lot of that stuff is available for you to purchase on its own. I try to keep my expenses low. I can help if you have questions about the service. I hosted my own install in the past and found it to be a big PIA (as others have mentioned). I have run wordpress hosted a long time now. It’s pretty good for what you want to do.

As a colleague of mine once put it, “Wordpress is a remote code execution platform with blogging features.”

If you know how to git, there’s Github pages or (my favorite) Hugo hosted by Netlify. Works great, and it’s safe and fast, and after the initial setup it’s pretty straightforward.

Oh, cool. I didn’t know about this. I’ve been using git every day now for the last few years. I’m going to give it a try. Thanks!

I really like my wordpress; it has multiple types of maps I can implement, including GPS track data, etc., with a tiny bit of effort. Of course, I haven’t put in basically any effort yet, but the maps features have been very easy.

I also use Squarespace for a different person. It’s a lot simpler in terms of SEO, but a lot more stripped down as far as what you can do with it. For simple blogging, I don’t think that it’s a bad plan. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s 500x easier than wordpress for simple tasks, either. And wordpress is a lot more powerful.

Report from security scanning provider so consider their self-interest but the findings are still valid: