Congratulations! You finally decided to create your own blog. If you approach it the right way, blogging will quickly become your favorite hobby and maybe something more.
If done wrong, however, you can soon find yourself feeling disappointed and even overwhelmed. At the time of this article, my blog is all of two weeks old and boy has it been an experience!
The purpose of this article is not to give you all the best blogging tips or professional advice on how to make money online. I obviously can’t offer that (yet!). Instead, I’m going to share what it’s REALLY been like to start my own website, so you can hopefully avoid the common slow-downs that prevent a lot of people from ever gaining traction with their sites.
Becoming a Blogger – Advice on Starting a Blog or Website
Since you are interested in learning how to make a website, you should!
If you are reading this article then you’ve already realized that you have plenty of unique ideas to share and value to add. Now you need to get your ideas out there for the rest of us to enjoy.
Ah, but let me guess: you don’t know the best way to get started with blogging? I truly believe that creating a site or starting a business online is easy enough for anyone to do. Heck, I’ve picked it up in two weeks with no background of any kind in this. But, because it is so easy and attracts lots of newbies like us, we face a lot of pitfalls when getting started.
This may seem backwards, but getting started was the most difficult part for me! Now that my site is up and I’m writing every day, I feel like I’m on cruise control.
Would you like to feel that same way in two weeks? If you take my advice you’ll be up and running even faster than I was, like, today! I’m going to share a few mistakes, headaches, and speed bumps that I’ve encountered over these past few days, so that you can fly past them to get your website live.
Creating a Blog – Do’s and Don’ts
1. DON’T READ everything you come across! This might sound like counter-intuitive advice. If you’re new to blogging shouldn’t you want to learn everything you can before jumping into it? Well the answer is, HECK NO!
You already know this, but the internet holds an incredibly vast ocean of information on blogging, and you’ll drown if you try to tread through all of it. So instead…
2. DO READ the bare minimum that you need to get started. It is so much more important for you to start writing and posting on your blog than for you to earn an internet Ph.D. in SEO and Google Analytics. Trust me, that stuff ain’t going anywhere.
For the past week, I have been drinking out of a firehose when it comes to best practices for new bloggers. All that did was leave me bloated and agitated, wondering when I would hit the bottomless pit of advice that I was coming across.
I started to realize that much of the advice from self-proclaimed experts is just an invitation to open my wallet. Which leads to my next point…
3. DON’T BUY every plugin, service, an optimization tool on the planet, or you’ll go broke faster than MC Hammer in a jewelry shop! And even beware of the free ones. I was shocked by how many “free” services are nothing more than portals to upsell a “premium” subscription.
If you’re wondering whether to buy, ask yourself, will my site function without this? If yes, then hold off until you need it.
4. DO BUY only the bare minimum of what you’ll need to get started. I began with a hosting service (I use and recommend Bluehost) and a domain name, which came free with the subscription.
Bluehost also allows you to install WordPress with a single click. You have probably heard by now that WordPress is THE choice for bloggers. I’m not going to tell you any differently.
WordPress comes with a couple of free themes which have more than enough features for you to create a clean and functional site. Eventually I bought a child theme to further shape my user experience, but this is not necessary day one.
5. DON’T PAY for a premium email service in anticipation of having a mailing list of 100,000 followers. I obviously did not have those followers the day I started my blog, I still don’t two weeks later, and – tough moment of being honest with myself – I may never have an email list that merits using anything beyond the free or basic versions that many email providers offer.
6. DO SIGN-UP for the free version of an email provider’s service if this is feature you plan to use. I went with MailChimp over Aweber precisely because of their free offering. When you outgrow the freebies, then you can upgrade.
7. DON’T WAIT until everything is perfect to start posting your content. The guiding principle of the tech world is to go to market with the minimum viable product. Meaning, as soon as you have something, anything, that can be posted to your blog, do it! Don’t worry about polishing it, paying a graphic designer for a neat logo, or setting up your email autoresponder. All things in good time, grasshopper.
8. DO POST that draft you wrote but you think kind of sucks. First of all, you’re right! And you will eventually want consistency and quality on your website. In the meantime, embrace the radical idea that what your first blog posts will be sloppy, imperfect, potentially even embarrassing.
Just WRITE, CREATE, POST and don’t look back!
9. DON’T ANSWER the robocalls! Say what? You heard me correct. Here’s a problem that nobody else warns you about.
If you don’t know what I mean (no worries – I was totally clueless too), here’s the quick explanation.There is a nonprofit organization called ICANN which, among other things, establishes procedures for recording domain registrations.
In plain terms, it means that when you create a website some of your information, including name, phone number, email and physical address can be found with a simple “Whois” search of your web address.
And THIS means that if your information is left public marketers will start calling you the day you register your site. So, if you want to avoid the unsolicited calls and emails, consider paying a wee bit extra for the domain privacy that your hosting company provides. With Bluehost, you can easily add this to your shopping cart for a couple bucks.
10. DO HAVE FUN! I had to end with something cheesy but honest, and this fits the bill. If starting your blog feels like you are swimming through molasses, then it’s time to reevaluate what you are doing and why you are doing it.
Always return to the question, why did I want to start doing this in the first place? Which sounds like the truer answer: I want to share my thoughts, talents, and ideas, or, I wanted to research which plugin to use for 8 hours today.
Return to the thing that brought you to this moment in the first place. Indulge in the passion you have for your purpose. Then, when you have a little bit of perspective, go back and perfect all the other details of your site.
At least that’s what I’ve been trying to do! We’ll see if it works 🙂