Unbelievable as it sounds, most people in this day and age wonder aloud what blogging is all about. Isn’t is all about writing random stuff that flits through our useless minds? Well, allow me to tell you. It’s not random and it stops being a ‘hobby’ once you switch from a blog to a website. It is like being a mom. Just like a woman who has just had her first child, (or any number of child, they are all demanding anyway) there is so much to do in a short time period and no matter what anyone tells you; it CANNOT wait. Can you imagine a mother carry on watching TV while the baby is screaming because he is hungry or taking a shower when she needs to change his diaper? So how can you expect a newbie to allow that glaring glitch to stay on his/her site that took hours to design (or, in my case, customise) and have dinner in peace?
There are countless sleepless nights when you are writing and rewriting a post that would be perfect for your blog or website. Throughout the day your brain is buzzing with ideas that need to process and develop. Relax for a moment and your brain will throw away all those amazing ideas in the dump of useless memories. You know the scary pit they show in Inside Out? No luck trying to recover them.
Now I’ve been blogging for years. A better part of a decade really, so I’m not exactly a newbie. But I had never really taken it so seriously. It was more of a hobby. I have two blogs where I’ve written a lot but I wasn’t regular, never cared about my site ranking, SEO etc. Until now. And by now I mean a few months ago. Even though I didn’t take it seriously, I really do enjoy blogging so I asked myself, why not turn it into a career? At that time, I was almost done with my masters and I was deciding whether I wanted to look for a job again or start my own thing. I settled on the latter but things took an unexpected turn and I ended up with a three-month gig at a newspaper and had to shelve my dream of building my own website.
Three months later, here I am. I bought my domain three days ago and realised (too late) that I really had no homework done. I only had a vague idea of what I wanted the site to be about and a lot of other vague ideas that propped up from there but other than that…nill. Thanks to Epife I was still able to build a decent site and while the process is simple which is made simpler if you have a decent friend to help you out (another shout out to Arfa), it is time-consuming I still have a lot to do, a lot to learn, a lot to read and a lot to write.
Despite still being in the initial stages, I’ve gone through so much that I think I can give those bloggers, who are planning to go down the sinister path of getting a personal domain. I’m going to make you a list of the things you need to cross out when you build your own website. Still with me? Good. Stay for a bit longer.
Why do you want a website?
Really ask yourself that because it is a full time job. Buy a website ONLY if
- You are really passionate about it
- You are ready to take on it as a full time job instead of just a hobby. It requires patience, time and hard work for your venture to start paying off
- You are capable and ready to adapt to rapid changes so you stay on top of your game
If you are sure of everything listed above, move on to the next step. No it’s not buying a domain. Not yet.
How to build your brand?
Since you are moving forward from a blog to a website it means you are ready to build your own brand. In order to do that
- Decide on a name. If you have a niche, that makes things simpler for you since you have a specific area to focus on. Be creative but keep it simple and short. Remember, whatever you choose will be the name of your brand. I chose Farwa Rants because I couldn’t settle on a niche, scatterbrained as I am and I do rant a lot. Oh, and my name is Farwa, in case you were wondering about the first part.
- Once you’ve decided a name, design a logo that can you can use on your website, social media accounts and as watermarks on your pictures. If you know how to use any photo editing software, you can design it yourself or ask someone else to do it for you. Or you can generate a logo online. There are many websites that generate several logos for you to choose from and some of them are actually good. I’m not a very creative person so I tried a few sites, selected a few I liked to show my brother who will design a customised version of it for me because what are brothers for right?
Related: Site niche – is it really important?
Now that you sorted the above out, it’s time to take the final step: get a domain.
What to do once you have a website?
- Select or design a theme that goes with your niche and also represents YOU. There are millions of bloggers out there that are offering content that is somewhat, if not completely, similar to you so you need to stand out in whatever way you can.
- Create accounts on every social media channel that will bring you traffic. Do not underestimate the power of social media, it plays a huge role in driving traffic to your site. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr etc. and be active on your channels. Don’t just share your content. Share informative articles or pictures, videos etc. anything that will keep your followers engaged.
Done? Now to the next and most important step:
- Unlike Aladdin’s Genie, ideas do not pop out whenever you want them. Get a notepad and a pen or open a word document, whatever tool you find most comfortable and brainstorm. It’s a really eye-opening session, brainstorming. You realise that a lot of you think is rubbish that you shouldn’t ever utter or even think of again. You also realise that most of what you think are crazy ideas are actually the most wonderful and those are the ones you should end up developing.
- Prepare a rough draft first. Write whatever comes to mind without going back to edit anything. I call it Brainstorming Session #2. I’ve been at this stage for an hour now but it is better to write first and edit later because if you do both simultaneously, you’ll end up forgetting points you wanted to add or worse, lose direction.
- Inevitably, the next step is editing. No matter how good you are at writing, it is vital to go through what you have written because there is always room for perfection.
- Not all of us are amazing photographers or own expensive cameras that can make ugly look breathtaking. If you too fall in this category, there are many websites with a huge collection of stock photos that are free, free, FREE! Become a member of the site(s) you think have the best pictures and use them without having to worry about copyright issues. Find a list of free photography websites here. And yes, you can also post your watermark or logo on those pictures.
How to improve and grow your website?
- Interact with other bloggers. Remember, we are a community and here to support each other.
- Don’t just share your content. Share blogs from other bloggers that you find interesting or informative. You can also promote fellow bloggers and ask them to return the favour.
- Stalk other bloggers. It doesn’t matter what they write about, just go through their posts, check the layout of their site, the way they interact with followers etc. You can learn something from everyone.
- Read, read, read. Read everything you come across, blogs, news, articles, books, anything you can get your hands on. Not only will it increase your knowledge, it will also force your brain particles to sneak out of their comfort zone and come up with new ideas.
Well, that’s about it. This is all I’ve learned so far. But I know I have a long way to go and can really use your help! So do share your experiences and tips in the comments.
Also if you found this post helpful and interesting, don’t forget to share it with friends 🙂
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