The Basics: Anyone can start a Blog and yes, that includes you too.

However, before you jump right in ask yourself this question:

 

“Do I want to start a Blog OR a Website?”

In the early days of the internet a Blog was basically an online journal or diary of events, happenings, personal observations and general trivia. Nowadays the lines have become blurred.

Millions of Blogs are not really Blogs (in the traditional sense) anymore. They are fully-fledged Websites that include (but are not limited to) Blog articles.

The growth of Social Media sites like Facebook have all but killed traditional Blogs. Why share your experiences via a Blog when you can quite easily (and efficiently) gain a massive (or private) audience via a Facebook Profile, Facebook Page or Facebook Group?

If you wish to have an online presence simply to share your life’s exploits, then Facebook rules nowadays and I would highly recommend you setup a Facebook Page (or Group) to share your experiences.

However

Freedom & Control

If you wish to achieve any of the following, then you should forget ‘Facebook’, forget ‘Blog’ and start thinking… ‘Website’:

Build an email contact list.

This can be used to keep in touch with your visitors, provide links to recent content and is the backbone of every successful Website. It is also widely recognised as a potentially valuable asset.

Value.

A successful Website can be a very valuable asset. Both in terms of the number of subscribers, current and future earned income (more about that later) and ‘niche market penetration’. Many large companies appreciate the value and scope of a successful Website and can pay handsomely to buy it from you – should you hit the sweet spot and decide to ‘sell out’.

Data Privacy.

This is a double-edged sword as it comes with a responsibility to look after any personal data you may hold about your subscribers. On the plus side, you are not dictated to by third-parties.

Creative control.

You remain in charge of the style of your Website, it’s content and affiliations.

Independence.

You are the owner and you are the boss! This can sound daunting at first, but you’ll thank me later...

Making money.

This is the main factor for most people wanting to venture out online and do something. There are 1,000’s of articles online about YouTube millionaires, product ‘influencers’ and Digital Nomads earning a small fortune working from an idyllic beachfront retreat, trendy loft apartment in San Francisco or nature reserve in South Africa. Sure it’s possible – but let’s not get too excited just yet!

My mistakes

KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid

Although I started off by teaching myself how to start a website using the WordPress & Wix platforms, I got bogged down by seeking perfection in the presentation of my articles, affiliate links, fancy online widgets and a professional polished look. WRONG!

Be authentic

I managed to get a website online that looked nice, but it didn’t reflect me. I also made the classic mistake of adopting an online persona that wasn’t the real me. I was never fake in my reviews, opinions or advice and my content was always genuine. But I wasn’t portraying the authentic me. I was sort of acting. WRONG! Take it from me, this is unsustainable longer term.

It is your individuality that will really make your website shine.

Baby steps

Likewise, I didn’t feel like I was a global expert on anything really. Who wants spend their valuable time reading my articles when there are numerous other experts out there better qualified than me? WRONG!

You do NOT need to be an expert to start a website – but you do need to START!

nakedexpatStripped back to basics

Content is KING

By far the most important thing to remember above and beyond anything else is that “Content is King”. Your Blog articles, your website pages and your comments need to be unique. If you have an opinion, then be prepared to share it and don’t be put off by those that disagree with you. So what if they do?

Stay strong

The internet is massive. I was reluctant to start a website because I had read about the potential to attract nasty comments from ‘internet trolls’ and ‘keyboard warriors’ that could jump on any slight inaccuracy or detail I got wrong.

Don’t get into a war of words with such people – they will sap your energy and this will do you no good whatsoever. Accept them for what they are (sad people with nothing better to do) and just correct any mistake(s) promptly. Any genuine online apology for an error or inaccuracy, directed toward your regular visitors/subscribers is likely to be warmly received and appreciated. Think Brownie points!

You ARE a Niche

I fully agree with the numerous, very successful online experts that advise everyone to always consider a ‘niche’ for their website. Don’t let this logic put you off though.

Always remember that unless you have been cloned, you are a ‘one-off, one of a kind’ YOU. So in this regard, if you write interesting articles from your own perspective (which you should always try to do) then of course they will be unique, as it is only YOU that writes the words you write.

Google

By writing unique, engaging content you are bound to eventually receive comments from visitors and generate interest. This will be noticed by search engines like Google, that deploy clever widgets to wiz around the internet scouring for popular, unique content from websites – especially if your article addresses a problem or answers a question someone is searching for via Google. Clever stuff!

Similarly, the flip-side of this is that you should never, ever ‘cut & paste’ articles from other websites. By doing so you will be heavily penalised by Google and could also end up in court for copyright infringement.

If you wish to “[quote]” someone else’s work – make sure you get permission from the website owner (or author) and attribute it to them. Most websites and authors will be more than happy to be quoted in your article and/or mentioned on your website. Some may even link to your article on their website – which will help increase traffic to your website. But do check first!

Cost

You can start a website for free using a service (platform) like WordPress. They have two options, one which is free and hosted for you and one that you setup yourself.

WordPress.com

Free, but your website will have the name yourname.wordpress.com. This is not a problem to get up and running, however you will have limitations later on and ultimately it doesn’t look too professional.

WordPress.org

The fully-fledged WordPress platform that allows you to use your own domain name e.g. yourname.com (your online address) and have complete control over your website, and your destiny. WordPress.org is free to use, but you have to buy your own domain name and host your website independently via a hosting service. (Easy to do, don’t get put off!)

If you wish to earn money from your website, links, promotions and/or recommendations then you really do need to go the wordpress.org route, so you might as well start with it.

Domain names can be bought and renewed relatively cheaply, but it will take time to find something that suits your website and is available.

Hosting your website (where everything is stored from your styles, colours, photos, articles etc.) is now cheap. You can pay more for a faster service, bigger ‘brain’ and fancy other stuff later – once your website has grown and justifies further expense.

Fancy stuff

You do not need to design the website yourself. Even via wordpress.org there are thousands of free ‘Themes’ that help you style your website just the way you want it.

My mistakes

I spent hundreds of $$$ in the past buying fancy ‘Premium’ Themes to style my website, and have purchased numerous ‘Premium’ Plugins (which are like magic widgets) to add extra functionality to my website. Considering I never did anything much more than launch a website and then loose interest after a while, this was a complete and utter waste of money.

“There are now many free WordPress Themes available that are extremely versatile and professional looking – You do not need to spend extra on a premium Theme or fancy Plugins when you’re starting out”

Buying fancy Themes & Plugins will just over-complicate your life and give you headaches. You only ever see ‘Demos’ of all this fancy stuff working like a dream – but the reality is that they regularly clash with one another, stop working or never produce the end result you were hoping for. Again: KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Do yourself a favour

Spend your time writing interesting, thought provoking content and not messing about with the mechanics of running your website. If you’re any good, you will make enough money to pay someone else to do that. Eventually!

Key Points

WordPrerss.org

If you have the modest resources to do so, buy your own domain name, website hosting, and start your website via WordPress.org using either a free or Premium Theme template. Approx. 33% of all the websites in the world use WordPress, with good reason.

Get writing

If you do not have a clue as to what ‘niche’ you would like to focus your website in – then don’t have a niche! Simply start writing articles about what interests you, annoys you or gets your creative juices flowing. Over time you will see which articles garner the most interest and are shared, liked or commented on. In time these insights will help you discover what exactly you are good writing about and what interests your visitors. In the beginning you just need to get writing.

Be patient

Running a website, writing articles and being strict with your time is a commitment and at times feels like a very lonely place to be. Do not expect success overnight. By writing new articles regularly and sharing your thoughts with the world you will get noticed. Eventually.

The more NO’S! you get – the closer you are to a YES!

nakedexpatStripped back to basics

Ask!

Reach out to other Bloggers, Websites and online communities that interest you. Ask for help. We have all heard horror stories of nasty, internet Trolls making people’s life hell – but there are also plenty of genuine, fantastic people online ever-willing to help you. Just ASK!

And finally, remember…

There is life offline, away from the internet. Give yourself regular breaks and enjoy life. Your offline experiences will help you online.

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