Wow I can’t believe its been 3 months since I first started this website. It still boggles my mind that I waited this long to start a blog. I’ll be posting monthly updates from now on to share progress of how my blog is progressing, lessons I’ve learned, or just general blogging advice from my personal experience. I admit, this is a longer post than usual, but I hope you’ll enjoy this more personal style of writing.
The very first article that I posted explains why I decided to start blogging, but today I want to share how I took those first steps. I’ve had a few people already ask me how they should even get started. Trust me, I was blind when I began…but now I see, just a little bit clearer. And maybe by reading on a bit more, you’ll be able to get a bit more of a head-start than I did.
Just Do it
Those famous three words from Nike (and grand speech by Shia Labeouf). Such a simple, yet motivational phrase. As mentioned earlier, I’ve always enjoyed writing and had a real desire to start a blog. I wanted to be able to share my thoughts with the world and in doing so help people out. But I always fell into the trap of thinking too much!
“I have no idea where to start.” “What if my website fails?” “What if I lose my passion for writing?” “There are so many things I have to do to even begin writing.”
All these thoughts raced through my head at some point. I was able to convince myself for years that I just wasn’t ready. But without committing to something, when are you ever ready?
I had to decide one day that the journey was ultimately worth it. Just as Neil Armstrong took that one small step, I had to break everything to small steps. It’s certainly a marathon getting your website off the ground. There’s no Usain Bolt method, unfortunately.
Making that critical decision to begin the journey and committing to it was the key catalyst to getting me where I am today. The journey is obviously far from over, but sometimes those first few steps are the hardest to take. I went into this whole thing having no regrets, not worrying about the goals, results, pageviews. All of that comes later and there’s always time to handle those things. But when I thought about everything at once, it was too overwhelming. So the simple first step is to Just Do It.
Well then, now that you’re committed – there’s no turning back. I must shamefully admit that one of the biggest roadblocks I had initially was thinking of an actual website name. When you first want to start, the first thing you need is a domain, which is basically the web address that you type in to get to your site. I must’ve spent hours thinking of something…it had to be funny, clever, catchy. It had to be perfect.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “You spent hours and you came up with the name kongtemplate?” In short, yes. And I think as long as you are satisfied with the name, you should just roll with it. At first I was thinking way too much of what others would think and how it would show up in search engines. But I lost sight of the whole purpose I wanted to start writing in the first place. As soon as I felt at peace with the name, I just rolled with it.
The reason you need the name is because you need to purchase it. That’s right, it’s not free. In fact, some popular names can be thousands of dollars. Don’t expect to just go out there and get whatever name you want. You need to find a web host. That’s essentially what gets your website out onto the internet for people to find.
I made some fairly novice decisions here early on. I went with Wix early on. It’s a website builder and basically does everything for you. To me, it sounded great. I just came in with my website name in mind, signed up for the service (it was about $15/month), and voila – I had the tools to start creating my own website. They hosted it, provided the domain name, provided security/backups, and had very user-friendly options for customization. It was just what I wanted!
….For about three days. Once I started to really get into my website and got familiar with all the accessible tools and plugins that Wix offered, I realized how much customization was truly locked away.
When I first started, I was publishing posts like a madman. I was shooting out posts nearly once a day. When I checked out other blogs and saw that some only posted once a week or once a month, I merely scoffed at them. I thought, “I’ll catch up to these guys in no time.”
After a couple weeks of this, I found the need to switch platforms. Wix just did not offer what I was trying to accomplish with my website. So, I made the difficult decision to switch to WordPress.
The Website Pt. 2
Mistake number two. I went for the wrong WordPress. There’s a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Basically, WordPress.com is a hosted service where a lot of things are still limited and done for you. WordPress.org is the open source platform for you to create your website – you just need a web host. With WordPress.org, you have complete freedom to the website code and database. I wanted WordPress.org and unknowingly signed up for WordPress.com. If you want a more in-depth comparison between these two, check out this article.
I was definitely frustrated at this point. I had gone through the process of switching web designs, rebuilding my content, copying over all the saved images and everything. And now, I needed to switch again. But I knew that this was completely worth it down the road, so once again…I cancelled my WordPress.com subscription and signed up with BlueHost as my webhost to use WordPress.org.
And let me tell you…switching to BlueHost was a fantastic decision. Even though it took me three tries to finally get where I wanted to be, I knew I wouldn’t have to make any more changes down the road. Having my own freedom to control all my content and make changes wherever I needed was really the ultimate sandbox that I had envisioned.
Picking Your Host
If you like training wheels and having your hand held, definitely use all the great website creators out there. Wix and WordPress.com are really good for what they’re trying to accomplish. But if you want to take complete charge of your website, I definitely recommend self-hosting and using WordPress.org.
BlueHost is just one of many web hosts out there. It ties seamlessly with WordPress.org. You can manage your website and content right from BlueHost. If you’re interested in starting your own website, you can use the following sponsored link to get a discount with BlueHost and help support my site (I want to use BlueHost!)
Like I said earlier, this whole blogging thing is a marathon, and I’ve just taken taken off. I’m really excited to see how this blog looks like in a year, five years, ten years. I really don’t know what it will look like at that point. What I do know is that I wouldn’t even be where I am today if I hadn’t taken those initial steps. There will definitely be more challenges ahead as I grow and learn more about blogging, but I really do believe that the first steps were the hardest. Since then, I’ve enjoyed writing content and just managing and tracking the website. It’s a hobby that wouldn’t have kicked off if I hadn’t made the first move.
I probably sound like a mix between a broken record and your elementary school teacher. “Pursue your dream! You can do anything you want to do! You can be anything you want to be.” I’m not trying to build false hope or make any promises I can’t keep. I just want you to know that just three months ago I was thinking about starting a blog. Now, I’m actively managing a blog. What happened in between was simply a decision. A decision to commit and take the small steps necessary to get to where I am today.
I’ll probably write more about how I went about combing through stats and analytics and how I’ve hit writers block and took a break only a couple months in. There’s a lot more to come in the future for sure!
If all that’s stopping you is the same thing that was stopping me, take the leap of faith and start letting your voice be heard. I’m truly having fun with this, and everyone is welcome to join.