Are you planning to make a website or blog for yourself? Maybe it's to promote a new line of work you've started or to publicise your current work. Or perhaps you just feel like starting a blog about a topic you're into?
I meet a lot of people in this situation and I notice the same mistake being made again and again. See if you're in danger of making the same one...
I'm sure you want to get your website or blog right - you want to get the design and content just right so you can give right the message. Or perhaps you're still at the stage of trying to choose what that message is - what is this business or this blog about? And what would be the ideal name to capture that?
It's stressful stuff. And it can stop you in your tracks. How long have you been putting off setting this thing up? I've met people who have gone without a website for years because they couldn't decide how to approach it all.
The problem with that of course is that meanwhile you have no website! That is a big mistake. As long as you don't have a website (or at least something I can point at), I can't easily refer people to you, I can't tweet the interesting project or client you told me about because you don't have a website or blog telling the story.
So here is my very sophisticated and genius solution for websites:
STICK THE DAMN THING UP NOW!
Here's what you need to remember about websites: they're editable!
They're not written in stone, or even paper. They're not the same as designing a brochure that you're going to print 10,000 copies of. You can't edit a poster after it's printed but you can edit a website.
So you can chuck your website up today and improve it tomorrow. Now, I'm not suggesting you throw up some mess of a site but the fact is that with the wonders of WordPress and free designs, you can actually create something in a couple of hours that looks really good. And if you install WordPress on your own hosting, you still end up with a website that is completely expandable and under your control.
I built my Scanners Night website on WordPress with a free theme several years ago and it's still up there. It's due for an update for sure but as long as you can still read about and book events it serves its purpose.
Here's my second tip:
DO LESS BUT DO IT WELL
Don't lay out some incredibly sophisticated menu structure with 14 pages and sub-pages that you then have to fill in before you can go live with the site. Just choose 4 pages(e.g. Home, Blog, About, Contact) with 1 or 2 paras of text each and get something up.
Hide any pages you might have created where it currently says "This page still under development" and go live with it right now!
You could even just make it a one page site as a placeholder with your contact details. At least you're now findable and people can see what you do.
Write less content. Don't go writing reams of prose in Microsoft Word to paste into the site. Your pages will end up a mile long on screen.
Here's an important reminder:
NO ONE WILL SEE YOUR EARLY SITE!
Another reason not to fret about your website at the beginning is that no one is actually going to see it when you first put it up (unless you point them to it). It won't even appear on google for a while (until other people link to it).
Just make sure that if anyone did stumble across your site, it won't embarrass you. So delete the bit where you wrote "Insert some nonsense here".
This is called a 'Soft Launch' in the website business - the site is visible but it doesn't matter too much if it's not perfect yet because you haven't pointed anyone to it.
Here's another surprising tip:
YOU WILL THROW THIS WEBSITE AWAY
At some point, much sooner than you imagine, you will change the design, content, focus and probably even the name of your website or blog. You may even choose to abandon it or take it offline altogether.
This is particularly true when you are just starting out on your entrepreneurial or creative adventure because a huge amount of work at the beginning is to discover what it is you are actually trying to do. And that means your market, your message and even your business (or focus of the blog) changes.
The business you start is never the business you end up succeeding with.
And that's even more reason to get something up as soon as possible.
LET ME CREATE YOUR SITE. FOR FREE!
I feel strongly about this topic as you can probably tell so I want to make sure that everybody who has an idea for a website or a blog can get it up and get cracking on it.
Let me install your site for you!
In what must surely be final proof I'm losing my marbles, I am offering to install your WordPress website or blog for you.
For no more than the price of normal web hosting (less than a fiver a month) my team and I will set you up with WordPress and dozens of luscious designs you can simply click on to apply to your site instantly.
There's no cost for our time and no cost for the premium designs but only if you take the offer right now. We are only giving one chance to get in on it - so we can get everyone set up in one go very soon after.
That means you could have that website or blog you've been thinking about set up and running by the end of next week!