So you’re creating your blog. Consider these 5 rules that hugely successful blogs employ; these are lessons I’ve learned while building my own blog and business. Things I learned while becoming my own boss, from others who shared their experiences, building my business, hosting my site, finding software and services to use, selecting easy to use tools and importantly budgeting for software, advertising and hosting.
Hugely Successful Bloggers Learn This
You know what I’m saying. Frankly, some days are a challenge and other days are a balancing act. We all face that when building a business. There are days when you wear many hats to create your website and make it grow. It’s exciting but it also demands effort, patience and motivation. So having a plan, a few rules and sticking to them can help focus on goals and keep everything on track.
In 2012 I bought my first domain name. I knew about GoDaddy, HostGator, and BlueHost as service providers. In fact, the very first site I built was with BlueHost. I like them but eventually migrated to my current provider A2Hosting. (I discuss my pro’s and con’s on hosting in another post). Now looking back on it I had no clue what made a “good” domain name for a website. An “easy” to search for domain name. I also had no idea how to build a website or what to put on it (I supported web hosting for years but at the time didn’t build websites). And I had no idea what it would cost. I just knew that I wanted to have one and eventually a business with my site. It seemed like a great idea.
5 rules of thumb for your website business
Hey, I’ve been in IT (Information Technology) for almost 20 years. From teaching computer classes to building home pc’s, administering firewalls and internet access, to running networks and servers I’ve done a range of jobs for a few fortune 500 companies. I’ve worked in IT security, networking, internet and system administration. Building a site sounded like fun, and I figured building a website would be a piece of cake. Actually it is, with the right tools, knowledge and time. And here’s a tip. You don’t need 20 years of computer work to figure it out.
Fast forward to today. It’s still straightforward to build a website. In fact, it’s a LOT easier now then people think. Really, it is. Plus, there’s a lot of advice out there; you’ll find a gazillion youtube videos on the basics. But few websites, experts and videos actually cover the steps from beginning to end. And few go beyond the basic how to’s. Yes, most everyone know that you need a hosting provider, have to configure software, need to write your content and then load pictures and video.
End of discussion. Right? Wrong.
There’s more then just hosting.
Think about this. To attract visitors, subscribers and potential customers to your site, it needs to look professional. You site also has to load the main page in under 3 seconds. If it you can get a cup of coffee while waiting for your site to load, how many visitors to your site do you think you’ll get? No one in today’s world waits for a webpage to load. Plus, we now expect the Internet to work just as well on our smartdevices as on our laptops. So making your site look great on your smartphone is essential. Not sure about you, but I’m not a huge fan of ridiculous monthly subscription services and I don’t want to pay someone to constantly maintain my site.
So if you thought about what I’ve just described then continue reading.
Since I’ve always been a control freak; I tend do what I can without having to depend on others. Plus, it’s cheaper when you do it yourself. If you’re a control freak like me, then you probably want to build your site yourself and control the cost. And you can do that.
There’s a ton and I mean A TON of choices. The trend these days is on “hosting” or “service” providers that let you build a site or a couple of pages using a drag and drop builder. People LOVE these. Mostly because they are easy to use. Here’s the catch. They are expensive to use. If you go that route, plan on $99 to $399/month. Some services but not all limit how much customization is possible based on the templates you modify. I do admit they still look fairly good.
However, no matter who or how you get your site, there are still costs you need to consider. You will need email services (everyone does!) and possibly other services like content delivery or automation for social media. These monthly costs are in addition to your initial investment. Add advertising, if your site is for business and not just for personal use. Thats a lot to think about but, with the right knowledge you can plan, budget, and prioritize, AND have a fantastic looking website/blog.
So back to my rules. Where to start when you want your own website or blog.
RULE NO. 1 – Hosting is important.
Seems trivial. Some folk go for companies that make it easy to build webpages with their drag ‘n drop tools; did i mention they’re popular? However I hate the cost and I want customization beyond what they offer.
If you decide to go this route, it will look good; it should for that kind of money. As an entreprenuer, I see some value in this option BUT I like budgeting costs, maximizing control and customizing a unique site. So I build my own. The drag n drop services, for me, are extra infrastructure around what I create rather then the core of my content.
RULE NO. 2 – What is your monthly budget?
This goes hand in hand with Rule #1. Everyone should have a budget. Whoops. Admittedly when I started my business, I didn’t understand the costs. I signed up for online courses, got into business forums, watch hours of video, google’d everything and paid for services. Then I realized that there were some services and tools I absolutely had to have and some that were not critical. The monthly subscription costs made me sit down and think about what I really needed. Don’t get wrapped up in services. You may find you suddenly are spending more per month then you wanted to.
Yes do plan for hosting fees, email, image editing and management, video creation and/or tools to manage your site. As you continue to build an online presence, you too will search for tools that managed content without high monthly subscription fees. I know I’ve been there. My goal always was to find services, software and tools that worked, had good support and in some cases were free. I pay for some because I want support and updates.
RULE NO. 3 – Prioritize your fees?
You can’t avoid this. Plan on a modest fee for hosting your site, anywhere from $3.95 to $9.99/month. If your well established you may go with the premium services that run $99/month but frankly if your at that point you probably don’t need my advice. On the other end of the cost curve, there are a few free hosting sites like WordPress.org but I don’t recommend that either. With any free hosting, you have limited support at best; plus some tools simply won’t work in those situations. Recognize that the hosting cost is related to level of service. The cheapest is not always the best. Neither is the most expensive. If you are new, as I mentioned companies like A2Hosting or BlueHost have multiple packages to pick from and multiple tools to build your website/blog. I use WordPress and most non-programmers use it too. As the defacto content management system out there with over 74 million WordPress sites to date, it’s a sure bet that there’s a large community of support to tap for advice on any questions you may have.
While WordPress is for both the DIY’er and the professional, it does require what are called “plugins“. These pieces of software provide useful functions and features that help manage, configure and maintain your site and content. I talk a lot about on plugin’s I personally use and think are worthwhile to use. The important thing to remember is not all plugins are free. There can be a cost to purchase and an annual renewal cost for updates and support. However many plugins are free. The goods news is that many plugins are available as free “lite” versions of paid ones. I use free, “lite” and paid plugins based on need. So there’s literally over 29, 000 WordPress plugin’s to date. With that many to choose from you can pretty much find what you need. The real point I’m making is that youdon’t have to pay for every plugin you use. However, you probably will pay some of them.
RULE NO. 4 – Get a good email service for your site?
Email is literally the lifeblood of your business or blog. I knew that long before I started working for myself. As an IT system administrator, if email went down for the company, literally people freaked out. So recognize a good email provider can cost between $19 to $49 in monthly fees. And frankly, You need it; they know you do. So just plan for it. However, there are differences between email providers. Some like Mailchimp are great on the budget. Others like Constant Contact have great support (phone and email. Yes, they answer the phone!). Then there is Convertkit which is easy to use. I’ve have used several of these very successfully.
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RULE NO. 5 – Your content affects what plugins you need for your site.
Wow. I could write a post just on this. Oh wait, I have. So I guess I’ll just summarize here using examples. Pick you topic and stick with it. Don’t mix and match your content. That is don’t have a site about food and then talk about your dog or cat. And your site’s topic or purpose on will affect what you use to build it. If its a blog, you’ll have a few pictures and a ton of written content. With any images or video you need good tools. If you plan on actually selling something you’ll need software to connect it into a payment processor like Paypal or Stripe. There’s a plugin for that. Looking to be an affiliate for Amazon or some other product? A good ad plugin for your website or blog will be handy. Do you already have a business and need a site just to be online? You’ll probably use Google, Bing or a combination of Advertisers to redirect interested customers to your site. There will be a few specific plugins (think pieces of software) that you will need. And there will be generic ones you need that every site out there uses.
Word to the wise – Bonus thought for the day. Secure and backup.
The first 5 rules I mentioned make your site live and functionally. This keeps it running. Now for the stuff no one generally wants to deal with. But you should think about it right now and not after you need it. That is securing your website/blog and having a backup plan if ever it is needed. Most of your providers will offer tools to backup your site, but it may require you to schedule and check it. Believe me. Nothing sucks more then to have a little issue that turns into a big one. I’ve used backups to restore my sites a couple of times. Never planned on using them but was thankful I had them. As for security, its not terribly hard to do. If you have a windows pc, you know Antivirus and updates are essential these days. A security plugin for your site is kinda like that. Not a perfect guarantee but definitely worth the time.
If you’re really interested and want to invest your time and effort then plan and execute is key to success. Remember, anyone can give you a list on how to build a website or what hosting provider to use. A list is just that: a list. It takes more then a list to make your site reality. But everyone loves to dream; it’s the ones who learn, reach out and grab their dreams.
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