Blog [n] – a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc. by Dictionary.com
This is probably the hundredth (or thousandth) post about building a blog you’ll read in your lifetime. So, I thought of adding my own spin to things. Namely, let me ask you: Do you really need a blog?
Maybe after reading another blogger’s platform, encouraging you to do so by saying: “hey, it’s not that hard to start and become famous and be invited to these press trips!”
You’ll be plagued with the question and the millions of ideas running through your mind about what blog you’d create.
This has to be different.
Something so good, people can’t ignore.
Or better yet, a site they’ll happily stalk until their last dying breath in front of their keyboards.
In truth, getting your name out into the unknown (a.k.a the inter-galactic webs) is tons harder than any popular blogger would honestly tell you. Being a freelance writer for a year and a half now, I’ve made significant income from not maintaining my own blog.
Blogging takes a whole lot of work. You’ll be a marketer, wannabe writer, and the sole financier of your little corner in this makeshift Universe. Not only will you be anxiety ridden from building your name, but you’ll also be incredibly insecure about yourself too.
After a year of failing at building a blog, a “mental detox” diet, and lots of self-loathing, I can now say I do enjoy the beauty of being able to share my ideas to the Internet. Without the added pressure of being perfect about it.
Especially when there are so many Facebook support groups, creatives, and arguably, the best people on the Internet to help you in your quest.
In this sense, I’m writing this to you, avid freelancer, in hopes of teaching you that you don’t need to have a “blog” to build a career. Your business — the mechanism of everything — will still be able to reach new heights without the stress, anxiety, self-doubt.
Case in point, look at many software developers who freelance. A ton of them don’t even write once a week or even have a “blog” section on their website. Instead, they focus on what’s important: the design, usability, and contact details of their space.
For writers, it can be completely different. You’re going to have to write, continually share your ideas and thoughts on the Internet for your prospective client to find you. Owning your domain gives you that benefit.
The key is to choose what’s important for your business to grow.
The biggest pro of having your own blog: Your little corner in this makeshift Universe
Whether you’re a freelance writer, or filmmaker, owning your domain makes it like a virtual office or portfolio. From small to mid, and big-sized companies can easily contact you your blog.
Plus, once you’ve started creating a name for yourself, and marketing the shit out of that — doors you never knew about, will open.
These type of opportunities can’t be found when you’re only on sites like Upwork or Freelancer. You’d still have to go send cold emails like a crazy person, or constantly ask for testimonials from previous clients.
Especially if you own a website that’s under your own name, the possibilities of people finding you are endless. Oh, and don’t forget to lock your windows just in case.
The biggest con of having your own blog: Unless you have a stable, 9-5 job, you won’t make much time for anything else
The first ever blog name I owned was: “The Art In Cities” where I talked about museums, architecture, fancy hotels, and fine art workshops around the major cities I’ve visited.
For the longest time, I was obsessed. So much so, that I ignored looking for freelance work, paid for web design classes that I forgot to attend, and basically became a hermit.
Well, safe to say, neglecting other aspects of my life made my freelance writing business fall to the ground. Like, getting hammered, inconceivably drunk, and lost in Socrates’ words for the better part of the year (my business, not I).
But lo and behold, I got the fort down together before it crumbled. I stopped for a while and focused on what mattered: building a name, going back to design class, and eating cup noodles.
I’m Asian, sue me.
Many entrepreneurs who started out “blogging” actually had stable jobs keeping them afloat for the first year or so. I’ve read stories on the Internet of people working at it before- and after- their jobs instead of making the jump full-time straight away.
This “professional career” isn’t easy money.
So, my friend, if you’re looking for more friendly advice about blogging: Don’t do it if you can’t commit.
It’s nothing like riding a bike. Believe me.
So, how do we create a blog that doesn’t suck?
Tough question, buster.
I mean… After the hundreds or thousands of “how to start blog” posts that’s probably hidden in your tabs bar, I’m beginning to question where to start.
For one, I’m here to tell you none of this stuff is easy. It’s going to take a while and a whole lot of commitment to build your name on the Internet. Especially when you have tough competition in the influencer-sphere.
(I’m putting this lightly because every market is saturated. Thanks, Universe)
But I’ve also come to realise one of the many things I can help you with is choosing the right tools. Before we even begin with the marketing strategy, we have to choose where to set-up our corner.
What tools do I need to start?
- Domain: Hover
- Hosting: BlueHost
- Platform: WordPress, SquareSpace
- Theme: Genesis Framework, Envato Market
- Photography: iPhone, Mirrorless Camera (I use the Canon EOS M)
- Branding: Design Seeds, Pinterest, Flat UI Colour Picker, Adobe
Okay, so I’m giving you a run down from top to bottom on the benefits of each tool. I’m sharing this because I trust you’d want to invest in a service or product which works for you.
Domain: I’ve stuck with Hover, despite the free domain in hosting plans, I’ve found it easier in the long run to register a new name, contact details, and have it strictly away from getting removed from when I decide to no longer continue with my current host.
In terms of customer service, Hover has proven to be the easiest and most valuable site I’ve dealt with. They easily connect me to a customer service agent — even when I’m from the Philippines — and they fix my domain problems right away.
Hosting: Contrary to popular belief, I really didn’t have any problems with BlueHost. It’s extremely easy to go around when it comes to my Dashboard and once you sign-up, they spend no time in making sure your site is readily set.
Plus, I like how there are additional features like the JetPack package, Monster Market, and a sleek design for many start-up themes, you otherwise would have missed out on. In terms of their customer service, I would usually only shoot them an email and they’d respond to me within the day (or fixed it, for that matter).
Platform: Here’s the deal — I’ve tried out both WordPress (WP) or SquareSpace for too many times to count. If you head on over to my “legit” Alternative Post business blog, you’ll find it’s for the latter whereas this one just screams WP.
Honestly? I like both. At the end of the day, it depends on which platform works better for what you want to do. For example, SquareSpace is amazing for photographers, creative entrepreneurs (who don’t know how to code), and even bloggers.
While WP is amazing for shops, big-time entrepreneurs, and creatives too. The sole difference of using both is the functionality. For WP, you have a wide array of options in terms of plug-ins, themes, hosting plans.
With SquareSpace, everything is within the same environment. It’s a bit like buying an Apple product.
Recommended Reads: 5 Top differences you should know | SquareSpace vs WordPress by Website Builder Expert and SquareSpace VS WordPress by Website Builders
Theme: For my blog, I’m using one of SoloPine‘s designs whom I found on the Envato Market. Honestly, I’m not quite picky when it comes to having my blog in a certain way – as long as it looks pretty – but I’ve heard amazing things about the Genesis Framework by Studio Press.
It’s been used on popular blogs like CopyBlogger and Melyssa Griffin. It’s extremely versatile, and understandable enough for many beginners.
Photography: You’d be surprised to realise how most of the photos in my blog were taken by my iPhone 6s. On more than one occasion, I had to put my camera away for the day and explored — finding the best pictures didn’t need a DSLR to be interesting. That and I’d get back pain from lugging it around everywhere.
As far as mirrorless cameras go, I’m biased when it comes to using Canon. Especially the Canon EOS M I bought in Macau two years ago.
Branding: Before writing content and picking your target market, let’s get down to the experience readers get when visiting your blog.
Ask yourself: What colour works best for them? How do I describe my own brand? Fun? Professional? Luxurious?
When you have those covered, go on Pinterest and find images you’re attracted to. Pin them on a secret board, and look over which colours are common.
Afterwards, you can mess around with adjectives + colour guidelines with different online pickers before thinking of a theme to purchase. But in case you’re in need of inspiration: Design Seeds, and Flat UI Colour Picker would be a safe choice.
Is your blog a creative space, portfolio, or your next business?
No matter how much we try to deny it, we need the Internet “fame” to sell our products and make our dreams a reality.
I have not met one single creative who didn’t need a website to continue their freelance venture.
But blogging is a totally different ballgame — you either start one for your business, or to become an influencer. At least, that’s what they’re telling the kids these days.
You have to be honest with yourself: What’s the #1 reason why you’re going to start a blog? Is it so you can quit your 9-5? Become a writer? Travel the world? Beat Khan?!
Remember, you can create a solid freelancing income from going on sites like Upwork or attending conferences. You don’t necessarily need to have a blog.
However, if you have ideas, opinions, and the determination to share your thoughts to the Universe, having one can be your gateway to an adventurous life.
The key is to never give up or trying to have fun when it comes to creating a name for yourself in this big, bad, world. I’m totally quoting a song I don’t even remember. Hmm.
What happens next?
For the dreamers, believers, and hustlers wanting to enter the freelancing world, I’ve decided to give you valuable tips which you can use while you decide about putting up a blog:
- Find like-minded people whom you want to associate yourself with. Have coffee with them one afternoon, send a cold email, or join a Facebook group. Doing so helps you figure out what you like and share.
- Buy a notebook and label it your “Ideas to get things done.” This will serve as your creative outlet for every idea or thought which passes through your brain. Think: Ozzy and Drake-style.
- As an avid fan of books — visit Amazon or Book Depository, compare notes such as prices between books you’d like to read for motivation and encouragement. If you’re dead set on having a travel blog, I’ve got you covered.
Where do you go from here?
Here’s a quote from one of my favourite poets, rockstars, drunkards, and all-around cool person:
Find what you love and let it kill you.
Let it kill you and let it devour your remains.
For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.
~ Falsely yours” – Charles Bukowski
To be honest, this short piece is only here because I couldn’t think of anything better to write. And doesn’t it sound pretty cool?
Anyways, here’s another no-brainer: INTRODUCE YOURSELF. Write down your name on my “leave a comment” Disqus link below, and tell me who you are, where you’re from (I’m not a stalker, I swear), and if you have a key takeaway from blogging + freelancing!
I’d love to know your thoughts, recommendations, and even what’s been bothering you about this whole, crazy, Internet-filled Universe.