Personally, if you have the resources I would go for the second option. Not only does this tell readers who you are and if they’re in the right place. But it also gives you a chance to show social proof (that other people have recognized you as a thought leader). Of course, you might not have this right away, so it’s perfectly fine to just go with the first option.
For many visionary novice bloggers, the world is not enough. The stash of free themes (more than two thousand themes are available on WordPress.org) does not satisfy their particular desire for look and feel. There are two other options you can take a look at, premium and custom themes. But they incur a cost, sometimes a tiny one, at other times a huge amount.
I actually think that the recent success of more bloggers paves the way for new bloggers – we’re joining a growing industry at the perfect time. More and more brands see the benefits of working with bloggers, more affiliate programs are being offered, more consumers are turning to bloggers as a the source of their information. Ad networks are getting more competitive.
As you can see there is no shortage of methods with regards to making money on your blog. While it might be tempting to try and make money right away, I would advise you to focus on getting a nice foundation built up. Offering services from day 1 can work out for you and bring in some clients, but as your blog grows you’ll find that your time is better spent making products.
WP Engine is a superb prospect however you’re looking at $29p/m for their most basic package. This is way out of the reach of most of my readers. This article is aimed at people who are just taking their first baby steps into blogging, and aren’t yet at a level of knowledge or income to justify something that costs over $300 per year. In comparison the hosting I recommend costs around $72 for 3 years and includes a free domain name in year one.
Design isn’t about crazy colors, multiple fonts, and tons of images and videos. It’s about making the experience of your reader as enjoyable as possible. That’s why the first thing you should think about when it comes to transitioning from the basics of learning how to start a blog over to perfecting your design, isn’t what you can add. But what you can take away.
If you're a new blogger or a blogger with less than a year or two's worth of experience, this is probably a great book. The author does a great job of organizing the information into sections and she actually provides actionable steps that will improve your blog. Many are common sense - such as "write awesome content" and "determine your main theme..."