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The year was 2009 when I started Urban Housewife Adventures. It was just a hobby, a little place where I could write about my life. I didn’t exactly have a direction or any type of vision for the blog. I simply wrote what I wanted when I wanted.
As time went by, I realized that I needed to start organizing my writing. I had so many different topics that I covered and I had a feeling that I was outgrowing my space. You see, I was using a free blogging platform. I had no categories, no set theme, no structure. I guess it was just a free online diary of sorts.
It wasn’t until 2011 that I started looking into WordPress, domains, and hosting. I was clueless. It was the worst kind of trial and error you could ever imagine.
My first mistake was choosing the wrong hosting company. I absolutely regret ever using my first hosting company. It was nothing but problems. All the money I paid for extra security measures were useless. I won’t go into details of my nightmare, but needless to say, I lost everything and was refunded a lot of money for services that were not put in place that I had paid for.
It was then that I switched to Bluehost. After reaching out to other bloggers, I realized they would be perfect for my needs. They did everything they could to help me switch hosting services, even though in the end I knew it was best to start from scratch. For anyone starting out with self-hosted websites and blogs, Bluehost is the the standard – step by step instructions on setting up your site, how to download WordPress, amazing customer service (I admit, the wait time can get a little long, but I’ve found it totally worth it because of how accommodating they’ve been to work with), and extremely helpful emails that offer tips and tricks on how to boost your page. I’m going on two years with them now and couldn’t be happier with their services. I wish I had started with them from day one.
In relation to the hosting, I also look back now and wish I had gotten my own domain to start. Writing on a free platform is great if you’re not looking to grow beyond a personal online diary. The moment I realized I wanted to switch gears from personal to professional, I knew that a .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com ending to my domain wouldn’t cut it. I needed to be urbanhousewifeadventures.com. I wanted complete control over my content and website.
Finding the right theme. You could lose your mind with how many options there are, free, paid, responsive, Genesis Framework and child themes, layouts, colors, etc. The sky is the limit but can be totally overwhelming. I think I’ve changed the running theme on my site 5 times since I started over. My most recent are certainly how I want the posts laid out, but there’s still more tweaking to be done. I’m OK with that. I know this is the theme I’ll be staying with for a while, but man, it took a long time to get there. My biggest word of advice when looking for the theme that fits your page: always do a live demo. Look at it, envision your content. It’s like buying a house. Can you see yourself housing your blog in something you don’t love or doesn’t feel right?
Hastiness. Rushing and not taking the time to really love and build your page. For a while, after I started over, I felt the pressure to publish post after post, no matter how half-assed they were. I tried rebuilding in the worst way, and in the long run turned out to be more time-consuming for me. I needed to go back to each and every post to edit typos, fix broken links, and update to clearer photos. Having 50 mediocre posts was pointless when I could have had half that number with rich content. Step back from the numbers game and focus on one post at a time. It’s worth the time.
Not having a schedule by writing when the mood strikes. Yes, I know it works for some people, but the more I write, the more I realize I need some kind of set schedule. I still write posts when the moment hits me, but I also plan out posts for the future in case I need a little push. For myself, I noticed that I wasn’t writing as much when I was winging it. I would neglect my blog and go weeks without anything new. That obviously killed my readership and forced me to start a blog binder that organized posts, analytics, expenses, income, and even a little section for brainstorming and goals I’d like to accomplish. If I can keep all aspects of my website organized and in one central location, I can create content without stress.
I should have joined blogging groups a lot earlier than this past year. The knowledge that other bloggers have is limitless. I’ve been able to learn so much about the technical side of blogging, how to grow my email list, create free content to share and download, sponsored posts and affiliates, and so much more. I admit, I felt embarrassed at first, but then saw that so many others were in the same boat I was and jumped right in commenting and asking questions. It’s really opened my eyes to what all is possible, even with a small blog.
Since pinpointing these mistakes, I’ve taken the time to continue my quest to improve my site every time I log onto my computer. I pour over blogging books and helpful websites. That’s the great thing about running your own blog, it’s ever evolving. There’s no time for me to get bored because I’m constantly learning and creating, updating and changing so that I can give my readers something they want to return to for years to come.