This is for anyone who wants some advice on how to set up a website of any sort. I just thought I would tell you about the process. Since I started marisa.com.au a lot of my friends have been debating the idea of having their own virtual doorstep as it were in cyberspace. And though they may have been using the internet for awhile, they read blogs rather than write and publish them and they visit websites rather than run them. And there is a lot of work involved in creating and running websites. The list starts below the fold.
So here we go:
- Do The Research:
I had to do research to find out what other freelancers put on their websites. I had to research hosting and domain name prices. I had to research what software hosting providers offered. I had to research domain name availability. Some of this stuff took awhile, some of it didn’t take longer than five minutes. But it needed to be done and you should be doing this BEFORE you even buy the domain name.
- Plan Ahead:
I knew WHY I wanted the website, WHAT I would put on it, WHAT it would be called, HOW much it cost to set up initially, WHAT back-end publishing software I wanted (WordPress) and I knew HOW it would work for me and my business. I knew all that again BEFORE I started.
- Use What You Know:
I have been blogging online since 1998. I know what I am doing – to a reasonable degree anyways. I knew I wanted a blog but I had to make sure that it would work with the site’s purpose rather than against it. The purpose of the site is to advertise my writing to readers and potential employers/clients who may want to hire me for writing/editing work. The purpose of the blog part of it is to provide karma and marketing. Karma in a sense because I do like helping people which is why I like editing their work for them and teaching them where they go wrong and how to write and I also like making things more efficient. And I know this stuff, inside and out. So even if I can’t get paying clients, I have no problems with blogging about writing, editing and the issues involved with running a freelance business for free. Seriously, come learn something from me and if you can and need to, feel free to hire me. You can and should make the use of my experience whether you pay me or not. That’s two things – I know about blogging and I know about writing. Number three was knowing about wanting advice for free when I couldn’t pay for it. Number four is knowing how invariably easy it can be to market a website if there is a blog on it. Number five was knowing enough about Photoshop to do the graphics for my cards, flyers, letterheads and website myself. I used what I know to create a website, content, marketing strategies and graphics.
- Learn How To Do The Things You Need To Do:
I learnt simple CSS commands in the hour it took to design the layout of this site. It was either that or hire someone to do it. Hire someone if you must but first try it yourself. I learnt a hell of lot more than I ever thought I would know about the taxation laws, small business, accounting and superannuation because I had to. I am the one doing the books and filling out my tax return. Even now I am doing the books for a friend of mine. I am beginning to think I should put “light bookkeeping and nagging” on the list of services I provide.
- Be Responsible For Your Website:
This website is a marketing tool essentially for my business. It is also, however, in need of being marketed itself. So I have to find time to submit it to search engines, to find plugins that allow you – the readers – to add it to whatever social networking site you frequent, to take time writing my posts so that I have written tags, picked categories and formed excerpts. Some of you might have seen those excerpts on facebook – don’t laugh too hard, those words are what gets searched – and if my name is in every single one of them along with the words “freelance writer and editor” it’s because I want them to be.
This is why I am on Likaholix, and why my blog feed is running on planets like Kottu.org (In fact, I link to Kottu so much these days, Indy should give me a medal), why it’s turning up in facebook, on twitter and if you would just click on the RSS link in the right sidebar, it has the potential to turn up in your email inbox as well. It’s why I run around looking for plugins all the time. My RSS feed url is even in my email signature – how random is that? It means having to figure out what Google Analytics is trying to tell me by all those odd phrases, terms and numbers.
It is hard work running a blog. I plan to blog several times a week. But while I have no editorial calendar or schedule of what posts turn when during the week, I have no set pattern. I apologize if this is annoying to you but if Sunday is when I announce Perth Diary posts I am dependent on whether or not the Sunday Leader editor wants to publish an article this week. The same with music reviews on Tuesdays. The folks over at RTR FM may have to wait about three to four weeks AFTER they get a review from me till the album in question is released before they publish. The only other thing I can think of is List Friday – so that all the list posts go up on Fridays. However, I usually can’t wait to continue the next list post so I never end up doing this. My point though is that you have to keep providing content. You are responsible for maintenance, new content, marketing and spam control, feedback and generally being nice to the people reading and commenting. You have to do all that on top of running your business. It is not easy. Half the time I am wondering whether I should publish a really good article on the blog or send it off to a magazine instead.
That’s it – five important things you need to know about setting up a website. I hope it helps. Feel free to add you $0.02 in the comments.