Reflecting on Starting My Blog – My Experience So Far
“Start a Blog they said, it will be fun they said…”
Well… it ain’t a fuckin walk in the park! I’ll tell you that for free.
It’s been 2 months and 2 days since I launched my blog, which has flown by… but also hasn’t at the same time. I’ve learnt a lot over the past 5 days in particular, and at this point I thought it would be good to reflect on my experience thus far.
I often get asked by people how to start your own blog, what would I recommend doing etc… and as much as I’m not an expert in any shape or form – I’m more than happy to share my observations.
My blog is still a baby in blogger terms, but babies develop each day… and so does my blog??
Okay that was a shit expression, and also I know nothing about babies, but you get my point.
Enjoy, and I hope this helps if you are thinking of starting your own blog!
(I’ve used hyperlinks to good articles throughout that explain the technical stuff in more detail – so click on them if you get lost in the sauce)
Do’s and Don’ts
- Write content in your own voice!
- Ask people what they would like you to talk about
- Research other bloggers in your market – look at what they are posting about it
- Enjoy yourself
- Research which hosting service works best for you (I used Bluehost)
- Use wordpress.org NOT wordpress.com
- Invest in SEO Optimising Platforms (I use Yoast)
- Be afraid to reveal information about yourself that may help others
- Get lazy… not every post is going to go amazing, your site takes a lot of time to grow
- Avoid using other people’s blogs for inspiration – just remember to reference them
- Use wordpress.com
- Seek help from hosting/ security platforms if you get hacked – they will try and rip you off
- Do anything to the back end of your site like edit the code if you are unsure
- Try and crack Russian hacker’s codes
A hosting service is what actually makes your website available to people, it’s essentially the reason your site exists.
I chose to use Bluehost as my hosting service. I’ve not had any real problems with Bluehost so far (apart getting hacked – fucks sake – I’ll elaborate on that one later), they offer hosting packages where you pay for a period of time up front to have the site up.
WordPress – Web Building Platform
Okay first thing I’ve learnt this week is that wordpress.com is a piece of crap.
Let me elaborate. WordPress is a tool for website building, it provides Themes that shape the look of your website, and an admin area called the Dashboard where you can manage your site, create new posts and pages etc.
WORDPRESS.COM AND WORDPRESS.ORG ARE NOT THE SAME THING.
So this was the point I realised that I’d played myself. When I started my site, I signed up to WordPress.com – I had no fucking clue that there was two different ones.
WordPress.com is a great starting point if you just want to be able to add new pages, posts and view your sites’ stats.
It is VERY restrictive; it blocked my site from being optimised on search engines like Google, which is a key part of growing traffic. It wouldn’t let me add plugins (add ons/ tools) to my site to perform SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). In addition, I couldn’t access the HTML code behind my site – making it very hard to develop.
Therefore anyone signing up to wordpress – make sure you install WordPress.org through Bluehost!
Self-Host your site. That’s the best piece of advice I could give you.
Here’s a good article explaining the difference:
Shock horror, as with most things in my life, I always get hit with the unfortunate stick.
If someone was gonna get hacked, it had to be me didn’t it?
I think it happened at some point when I was migrating my site over from wordpress.com to wordpress.org.
I noticed that when I tried to access my site through Google, it was redirecting to some next man’s concept art site – shout out to Alex the concept artist – dick.
Anyway, at University I did a bit of Computer Science and I’ve worked a bit with computer coding – so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
(DISCLAIMER – I’m not even good at coding, but I can grasp the concept of what is being said – I REALLY wouldn’t recommend touching the code of your site if you are unsure)
I accessed the files behind my site and managed to locate the malicious piece of code and delete it, they even left hidden messages in my code – which discovering at 2am when you’re on your own in a dark room is a bit creepy.
After this I still had issues, I tried asking Bluehost and they quoted me £300 to run a scan on my site – good one. If your site ever gets hacked don’t fall for their money-making schemes.
I managed to contact an old friend from University who is a coding genius and he managed to fix the issue (Thanks Kristian!) . Turns out I needed an SSL certificate which Bluehost can provide for you.
Lessons learnt –
- Russian Hackers are pricks.
- Get an SSL certificate set up through Bluehost.
- Don’t go to security companies for support on your site, ask a friend.
Write in Your Own Voice
I really don’t want this post to scare people btw! I’m just talking about MY experiences. So please, take the above as useful advice, and if something every goes wrong you’ll know who to ask!
When I started this blog I didn’t realise how fun it would be to sit down and just write. I’ve only ever written academically before, so writing in my own voice was completely new to me.
I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of people who have complimented my writing, even some saying that I should write a book – lol.
But seriously, if I could recommend doing one thing, it’s writing in your own way. Don’t try and be, or sound, like anyone else. I write how I speak, cause I want my content to be real, no bullshit.
Before this I’d never really done something purely for myself. I’ve always tried to put others first, and stray from being center of attention. I’m a perfectionist and I’m also petrified of failing at anything, which actually holds me back from putting myself out there.
So even if it may not seem it, this blog was a big risk for me, and I’ve been absolutely blown away by the amount of support I’ve received.
I never thought this many people would be genuinely interested in what I have to write. It really does motivate me to do more, and push myself further.
So I did just want to say a massive Thank You to anyone who puts the time aside to view my shit, I hope I manage to brighten people’s days with my sarcastic outlook on life 🙂
And I hope you are starting to see more of my complex personality.
I’ll continue to reflect on my experiences with starting a blog, after all – its only been 2 months and in that time I’ve managed to launch my blog, been on the radio, migrate my site, have my site hacked… so who knows what could happen next to be honest.
Moving forward I want to continue to grow, and produce great content! I want to take over the world and be an advocate for redheads and satirical humour – and to be knighted by the Queen as Sir Witch (I didn’t know what the opposite of Sir was? So I just went with it – genders not a thing anymore apparently anyway so).
If you have any suggestions of things you’d like me to write about then please get in contact!
Here is another really useful blog purely dedicated to how to start your own blog – Smart Blogger
Again, THANK YOU for reading!
Ciao for now – Elz, the Witch.