At this time of year people always like to get started with new ideas and concepts. A LOT of people tend to want to start a blog or create a website, either for themselves or to make money. Over a year ago I created The Money Shed however it has been far from smooth sailing at times and I’ve made some right bonehead mistakes and decisions. I’m going to share my top worst 5 decisions in the hope that you don’t follow me!
1) Don’t tinker with things unless you understand how they work!
My background is in IT so I tend to think I have a decent grasp on how things work on the Internet. I past experience with with WordPress and forums etc and generally know what I am dong when it comes to setting them up from the get go. However I made a decision early on that I wanted to Geolock The Money Shed to only UK folk to get a better quality of opportunities for members when it came to working from home. To do this I wanted to block all none UK IPs from accessing the site and thought I would do that at a level ABOVE the site using IP Blocking tools within cpanel. What I actually ended up doing as I got the setup wrong was locking out anyone with Sky Broadband. Worst still I managed to do this for the first 2 months and not realise I had actually done it until people starting talking to me about how they just get a white screen when they access the site!
2) Throwing money blindly at advertising
Advertising right now is complex to say the least. It used to be if you wanted your site to get noticed naturally you would just create the site, submit it to a few search engines and away you went. Now, while you can still do that there are SO many sites out there in whatever niche your site sites in that you may want to look into paid advertising. Because I didn’t really have any money for advertising it threw money at un-targetted audiences in the way of blogs and other sites offering advertising for £5/£10 a month. The audience that reads that blog wasn’t really connected in any way to the audience I wanted and as course there was no crossover happening. People that read a beauty or fashion blog just aren’t interested in a website about earning money from home in the UK but I didn’t grasp that concept and just thought any exposure was good exposure. It’s not, it’s a waste of money.
I also spent money on various gigs on Fiverr/fiversquid which offered backlink building, forum posts, tweets to people with millions of followers. All of it a complete waste of time and probably did more harm than good with Google at the start if i’m honest. There is no ‘quick fix’ when it comes to getting ranked well with search engines. I believe there are just two simple rules. Write good unique content & get people within your sector to link to it.
3) When you get people on board, don’t change the design too much, too fast
You have readers / Users on your site – Great stuff! There are there because they like your content and your design. Be warned though, if you go changing the design of your blog on a whim every other week as you find yet another WordPress template you like you are going to end up running the villagers out of town. This goes double if you run a forum like I do where people view the site as a sort of ‘home’ and like the sofas to be in the same place each time they visit. If you go changing the layout too often you may find your userbase doesn’t quite see things the same way you do and neither may Google. I find it best to test changes behind the scenes for a number of weeks if possible, checking everything works as it should do and most of all that YOU like the new layout enough to stay with it. Confusing users by changing things constantly is one sure fire way for them to lose trust in you and the site. At the very beginning of The Money Shed when it was just a blog and not a 15,000+ post forum I changed how things looked FAR too much. Not only the layout but also the functionality as well. It was a bad decision. Even the forum has gone through quite a few changes (you can see them here). I know it can take quite a while to find a look and feel that you want but I sort of wish I had done that a LOT earlier than a few months into when the site(s) were live as when you make a change to the layout you have to consider things for the readers then not just yourself.
4) Embrace social media!
I dragged my heels with social media for the longest time possible at the start. No Idea why, I think I just found it a bit too much. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pintrest – you need to have accounts on all these services and keep them updated. People only seem to follow things if they see there is constant updates on them. By updates I don’t just mean news but interactions as well, especially on Twitter. People are far more likely to like / follow if they see you actually communicating with people online. All be told it’s a great way to connect with other people in your arena and I wish I hadn’t spend the first few months being so ignorance about it all. Like it or lump it, social media isn’t going anywhere and you need to get all you can from it.
5) Don’t burn out – Too much content, too quickly!
Starting a new website / blog is all very exciting. That blank canvass stage where you can literally do anything and have it setup in any way you want will be something you wish you could get back many months or years down the line. It’s very easy with blogs to maybe think you should post new content everyday but if you are doing a niche site it is very easy to run out of content sooner rather than later. I realised this after just a few weeks and made the decision to drop posting back to 1 new post a week with decent social media around that post and some SEO. I find this works much better and it also creates a ‘timetable’ for your readers/users to learn – New content, once a week, on a particular day. It may be your site isn’t in a niche and you can create new content all day everyday, it certainly wasn’t like that for me though.