What It Takes To Setup And Maintain A Blog/Website (Detailed)
Those that run and manage their own websites or blogs know how much work is required to make it successful; but I feel a lot of people don’t actually know all the work that actually goes into it. Whenever I have this conversation with people wanting to start a website or blog for the first time, they think all you have to do is provide content and that’s it.
If only it was that easy, everyone would have a successful blog.
Here are the details on what I do for each one of my websites. Hopefully those wanting to start, will get a gauge on how much work and effort goes into it and hopefully those that already run their own blogs or websites pick up something they might have missed (and please comment on things that I missed that will help me out as well!).
Items To Do Before Even Starting A Blog or Website
Brainstorm – You’ll need to brainstorm the idea, name, slogan, how to make money, how to market and if you think it will have potential to be successful or not.
Now if you’re just blogging as a passion then that’s a little different. But if you’re going to take it more serious then you’ll need to come up with a plan.
Research – Is that idea, name or slogan already taken? How much competition do you have in that niche? What can you do to differentiate your blog from others in the same niche? What’s your target audience?
Business Plan – If you’re going to take it seriously, you should have a plan. If you’re just winging it, more often than not, you’ll run into issues in the long run. In your business plan, you should go into details about such things, but not limited to:
– Vision and mission statements
– Target Audience
– Products, Services and Monetization
– Promotion/Marketing Strategy
– Short and Long Term Goals
I’m sure there are items I missed but ultimately, the business plan should be a guideline you follow, refer to and revisit to check your progress as well as see what has worked, what hasn’t, etc.
Purchase Domain and Web Hosting – You can search here to see if the domain is available and you can purchase cheap web hosting through HostGator, the company I currently use.
There are many free website and blog platforms but I would recommend doing it this way from the beginning. I’ll have to write a post in the future on why you shouldn’t blog or build websites on free platforms.
Fun fact: Some of you guys already know this but DatMoney was started on a free blogging website, Blogger.com, and when I transferred to a self-hosted WordPress site, there were some headaches I had to deal with.
If you’re selling products directly from your site, have a membership service or your visitor’s submit sensitive content, you’ll need to purchase a SSL Certificate for your site as well. But if you’re just blogging or taking payments from third-party sites like Paypal, you probably don’t need one.
Setting Up The Website
Now that you already have your idea, business plan, domain and web hosting, you’re ready to set up your website. Although you can use any Content Management System (CMS) or even build your site from scratch, I use WordPress to build all my sites so I’m going to base this section on that.
Configure WordPress Through Your Hosting – I personally have my own dedicated hosting server but that’s not necessary for most people starting off. Most people will probably start off with a basic hosting account and then eventually upgrade, if needed.
HostGator has an easy installation process of WordPress so you don’t have to manually setup MySQL Databases, upload the files, etc.
Pick and Upload A WordPress Theme – Whether you want to build a custom theme/template from scratch, use a free one or purchase a premium theme, once you decide on one, you’ll need to upload it.
You can find a lot of amazing WordPress themes here.
Create Logo/Banner – You’ll want to create your own logo, pay someone to do it for you or I can do it for you for free.
Customization of WordPress Theme – Changing colors, font styles and sizes, widgets, sidebars, footer and menus. You’ll want to customize these items to fit your needs.
Updating Settings – This is separate from customizing your theme, these are the settings for your site. Here’s a quick list of what I usually change:
– Site Title
– WordPress/Site Address: I usually include the “www.” part but I know some who don’t. It’s your preference, really.
– Date/Time Format
– Update (Ping) Services
– Reading Settings: I usually display 5 posts on any given page
– Permalink: I recommend NOT using the default setting on this. I usually use a custom structure that looks like datmoney.com/postID/postname. Whatever you end up doing, I recommend including the post name.
Add/Upload WordPress Plugins Then Configure – Plugins will help your site run effectively and the way you want it to. Every website will be different based on their needs but I’m going to list the plugins I currently use here (keep in mind you’ll have to configure each one to fit your needs too):
– Akismet: Protects from spam comments
– All in One SEO Pack: Helps set up your site for SEO
– BackUpWordpress: Backs up your WordPress automatically
– Captcha: Helps prevent bot spammers from attacking
– Google Analytics: Once you set up a Google Analytics account, this plugin will help keep track of your stats
– Google XML Sitemap: Helps index your content better in search engines
– Jetpack by WordPress: More powerful features to help your WordPress
– Limit Login Attempts: Prevents brute attacks on your login
– MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate: Cloaks and tracks outgoing links
– OIO Ad Manager: Controls private ad space and makes it easy to deal with private advertisers
– Pinterest Pin It Button: Easy way to PIN any images
– Redirection: Manages 301 redirects and 404 errors
– Reveal IDs: Shows hidden IDs in Admin interface
– Social Media Share Icons: Helps share social media profiles
– Contact Form: Contact form to get in touch with me
– WP Block Referrer Spam: Blocks analytics spam
– WP Super Cache: Caches site to make it load faster
I also have a Banner Ad Design page if people contact me for design work.
Navigation – Menus, related pages, categories and any items that will help your readers navigate through your site and find exactly what they’re looking for.
Other Items To Set Up
Now that you have your blog set up, for the most part, these are additional items that I recommend.
Google Analytics Account – This is the best free analytics tracking out there. Keep track of your stats, what people click on, top pages/posts, referring traffic, etc.
Google Webmaster Tools – This is an essential tool that will tell you what’s wrong with your site, if there are issues that need to be fixed/address, where you upload your Sitemap, additional stats and so on.
Social Media Accounts – If you’re going to have a social media presence, you need to set up the accounts for them and update it pretty regularly.
Email Accounts – If you’re going to set up your personal email accounts from your hosting that looks like email[at]yourwebsite[dot]com, you’ll have to create them.
SEO Accounts – Looking for keywords, checking backlinks, pagerank, etc, you’ll need to sign up and possibly pay for some of those accounts.
Email/RSS Subscription Service – Building an email list is essential and there are free services but eventually you’ll probably upgrade to a paid service for more options and benefits.
Legal Documents – If you end up treating your website or blog as a business, you’ll need to set up a sole proprietorship or LLC for your business.
Third-Party Sites For Monetization – Whether you’re going to display PPC ads, affiliate links, sell your own products or set up workshops, you’re going to have to set up accounts for all the companies. This will be different for everyone.
Content and Marketing
At this point, you have your site set up and signed up for all the required items that will help you succeed. Now you have to create content and market.
Content – This goes without explaining but you need content for your site. You’ll also need content for social media platform if you promote on them as well as content if guest posting is one of your methods of promotion/building backlinks.
Images – You’ll need some visuals for your site and if you’re going to promote on social media.
Social Media Marketing – You’ll need to provide content for each social media platform you’re using to market. Each social media platform’s content should be slightly different. You don’t want to promote the same exact items on each one (depends on your blogs content).
You’ll probably need to create images, templates and/or content for each one. For example, Instagram is all images and short videos so if you’re promoting on there, you’ll have to create that content to upload.
Search Engine Optimization – Build links, use keywords and anchor texts, etc so you can hopefully rank on the first page of a popular search term to get search engine traffic.
Other Marketing Strategies – Email marketing, paid advertising, etc, you’ll need to manage and track those items.
Test And Analyze Stats
There’s a lot of trial and error involved. What works for me may not necessarily work for you and vice versa so everyone should do their own testing to see what works and what doesn’t. I can’t stress this enough but test, test, test! You should test everything from ad location, promotional methods, color schemes, link building, click-throughs, basically, anything and everything to see what works specifically for you and what you should cut out.
Analyzing stats will help determine what works and what doesn’t. You know what they say, “numbers don’t lie”.
I’d like to think that “if you build it, they will come”, but that’s not always the case. You can have some of the best content in the world but like the saying goes, “if a tree falls and no one is around, does it make a sound?”
I’m sure I missed a whole bunch of items from this list but the point was to show that a lot of work and effort is required. It’s not as simple as writing posts and hoping to be successful. Hard work goes a long way but if you enjoy what you do, then it doesn’t really feel like work.
Or you can just outsource a majority of the work too. Hey, that is an option!