The #1 mistake in creating your website or blog

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!

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Cezanne Poetess

    Hi John!
    I've been working on my blog all week, have a look and let me know what you think, and how it can be improved!Best wishes,Cezanne

  • Cezanne Poetess

    ...It would help if I gave the address!
    http://www.cezannepoetess.wordpress.com

  • It's so true that so many people get distracted by living in the future or caught up by small things (oh what if I haven't got a logo, my niche is not refined yet) that forget to do the next immediate step.
    John - I must say downloading/following your instruction is one of the best decisions I made in 2012 (I had been holding back for about 6 months. Thank you!

    To anyone who is looking into creating a website but get frustrated by the technical or design side - CLICK THE BUTTON AND DOWNLOAD NOW. Who knows, it could be the best decision you make this month, or this year...
    (disclaimer: no, John didn't pay me to write this comment LOL)

  • Thanks Yiye. But better still if people wait until Monday I'll do it for them!

  • Sorry - when I read the "FOR FREE" i thought there is a link for people to click & download etc...

  • I think you've already posted a how-to about how to create a website, haven't you?
    I agree with you. In general, the best way to get into any type of activity is simply doing first, even the smallest step: write a short story if you want to be a writer, draw a wine glass if you want to be an artist, open an online shop if you want to sell anything etc.

  • John, you are a star! (even if you say you are not a "Star" in WD terms)
    This is such a generous offer that I'm sort of wishing I didn't already have a site, so I could take you up on it. So what I will do is apply your advice (e.g. "keep it simple" ) to my existing site.
    Michael

  • Gareth Williams

    Hello John,

    Thanks for your e-mail today.  Always entertaining.

    I have created my own website through WordPress called http://www.abouttimeto.com. 

    It's been going really well until I found that I am getting a lot of spam e-mails.  They are currently running at 10,000+.  Can you advise on the best form of action to stope these from pulling through? 

    Thanks

    Gareth Williams

  • Fay Rees

    I've been ffaffing around for weeks reading all sorts of articles on blogging but not getting anywhere, or daring to take the plunge & here you swan into the picture, giving the BEST advice yet. Not sure I have the patience to wait till Monday,
    Whatever - thanks a million.
    Fay Rees
    L'anglais Zen

  • Clare Denyer

    Excellent! I've been faffing about trying to design something for my embryo freelance writing business whilst trying to write for other people at the same time! All I need is a basic 'Here I Am, This Is What I Do' site for now!

  • Satbi rAllman

    This does sound to good to be true John! Whats the catch? will the hosting cost go up later on and/or are we tied to the hosting later if we want to switch? Or am i being simply sceptical?

  • Great post John! Someone recently told me they were looking for a theme that they'd love for the next year. I said something similar to her. The beauty of WordPress is that you can change it quickly. No one knows what technology will exist in a year. Just choose a theme you love right now and get the site live. The site will evolve with time and can easily be changed. Thanks!

  • Lucia

    Hi John. I am reading your book and there is a passage in which you describe ...me. I even checked if there are bugging devices in my house! I am trying to find my direction, but I have created a blog by myself  (and maybe for myself) and I would like to advise your readers to accept your offer, because a blog can be therapeutic. Writing your ideas can make you see things differently. So, thank you all the same. And the reading of  your book goes on...

  • Great post! Great offer 🙂 I agree with you. Just do it!

  • Hi Gareth, beautiful site. I love science fiction too. also believe that we can actually creat more time by being fully present and engaged with every moment, instead of just dragging on...
    Re spam:
    1. Have you installed any anti-spam plug ins? you should if you haven't yet.
    2. When you leave your email address do it this way: Gareth [dot]....[at]....
    3. When you leave your website link via comment areas try to utilise the URL area instead of posting your link directly.
    Hope it helps. I am sure John and others have great tips. Hope you don't mind me jumping on...

  • Nancee

    I am so in. It is overwhelming to start from scratch. I don't have a focus yet, but this will get me in the game and out of my head. I have pared down the folks that send me stuff several times and you've survived every time. I suspect that won't change. Thanks!!

  • Absolutely! Very much the theme of my 2nd book

  • Aw, thankyou Nancee!

  • Thanks Anna

  • Yes, writing a blog is a great way to help discover what it is you want to do and where to focus

  • Indeed!

  • No, no catch! The hosting isn't an introductory offer or anything. Watch out Monday for all the details - be sure to be on my mailing list to find out.

  • Absolutely, you can always grow it later

  • Yay! Less than 24 hours to go so worth waiting for...

  • If it's WordPress and you're talking about comment spam, try Akismet or   Growmap antispam plugins

  • Don't worry Michael, we can help you with website stuff in Play To Win next month.

  • Lucia

    Wow, I did not expect you answering my comment! I know less famous bloggers in Italy not answering at all. I usually answer everyone (37 followers... imagine what effort!) Not doing it seems to me like closing a door. So, thank you. I appreciated very much.

  • That's OK! Did you read Mollo Tutto? You should check out Scanners Night Italia - http://www.scannersitalia.it/

  • Alexandra

    Dear John..  I hate my job as an English teacher and have been procrastinating since 2005. I dismissed each idea as I found a multitude of reasons not to do it and have been on  what seems like an eternal quest to find the 'right business'. I am reading your book- after reading about it in Red Magazine- and although only on page 169 I have started two hopefully profitable 'projects.' I have a long way to go and a load to learn but got a blog up last night. 
    End of summer hols and I go back to work tomorrow - but this time I KNOW it's not for long. Thank you - going to try a website now !

    Alex @ whiteroomentertainments!!!