Let’s face it, many of us would like to build something of our own. Maybe it’s a community, a platform, a brand, a charitable cause. No matter what you want to build, you’ll need an online presence.
Last week, I caught up with an infamous blogger whose passion it is to support equality amongst the gay community.
This conversation felt like dejavu. I seem to be getting a lot of people ask me about starting an online presence for the first time. Sadly, almost everyone I meet goes about it the wrong way. I too, just like you, had to go through this process once upon a time, so I’ve got some super cool, very simple tips that will help you.
Should you start with a website or something else?
This is the very first question you should ask yourself.
Benefits of a website:
You own it.
You control the look and feel of the site.
You can capture subscribers and get their email address.
Downsides of starting a website:
No one will find it initially.
You need basic skills to code it, or you must go back and forth with a web developer.
It takes time to build so you may give up too soon.
Maintaining it takes effort.
So there are pros and cons to having a website. In my situation, I got lazy and knew that I would give up if there were too much of a barrier to entry. I chose to do what I’m going to recommend next.
Consider leveraging someone else’s website or blog.
I’m one of those people that is not technical and just wants to get started because I know I’ll procrastinate if I don’t.
I chose to leverage someone else’s website which already has a massive following. I chose to join Addicted2Success and use there more than 3 million followers to find my voice. This a great option for you too.
Just getting started helps you find your way.
In the beginning, it’s hard to know what direction you will take. Your message, your voice, the topics you focus on, the people you work with, will all change. I found it best to get these things sorted out first before starting my own website.
As I’ve created content, I’ve narrowed in on the topics I write about which are now personal development and entrepreneurship. I’ve finally found my voice which is simple, a tad sarcastic, a little bit funny (says me LOL), extremely vulnerable, and again, hopefully authentic.
Using someone else’s platform works well before you start a website.
Social Media is challenging: here’s why.
In my experience, using most social media platforms to start now is one of the hardest ways. It’s not impossible; however, it has got a bit harder.
“The trick I’ve found if you want to start exclusively using social media is that you need to get on a platform early before the organic reach is destroyed”
Organic reach = the ability to have your content shown to people without the need to pay.
The other downside with most social media platforms nowadays is that you can only communicate with your followers through posts. Who gets to see these posts is heavily influenced by what’s good for the social media platform and not what’s good for you. Your creative freedom can be limited.
You also should keep in mind that on a social platform you don’t control the design or user experience whereas you do when you own your own website.
Now onto SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
In the old days, this was a big thing if you were thinking of starting a website. Now, it still matters although the game is changing. SEO came about because of Google and people using search engines. A lot of searches are not happening on Google anymore.
Here’s what’s changed:
People use Amazon to search for products.
People use Instagram to find things like restaurants because they can see pictures beforehand.
People find people using Facebook.
People find professionals through LinkedIn.
People enjoy video through SnapChat and Instagram Stories.
As you can see, there are now way more targeted places to search for things. When creating a website, one of the ways it will be found is through Google. There’s a lot of competition to appear and money is often required. It’s no longer so much about keywords, and more to do with the value you bring to a potential user. Measuring this value is becoming increasingly complicated.
One approach to consider before starting a website.
Find a platform you love.
Start on that platform first in any capacity you can.
Refine all the elements that make up the one big thing you want to start.
Once you get some traction in the form of followers and engagement, set up a landing page.
Landing page: a single website page that only has one button you can click.
Use this landing page to capture subscribers and begin the early stages of a website. When you feel you have reached the tipping point and you’re regularly getting what you set out to do, then, maybe think of starting a website.
Having a website means nothing if people can’t find it.
Having a website means nothing if you are not adding value.
Having a website means nothing if it’s not updated and looks terrible.
Having a website means nothing if you are not in it for the long game (years).
Don’t be so quick to want to set up a website. Really think about what you are trying to achieve. Consider your options and focus on the simplest path forward to finding your passion, your why and the way you can add value to everyone on this planet. Once you’ve nailed all of these, then maybe think about a website.
Alternatively, ignore everything I’ve said and you may find yourself right back where you started, quicker than you think (months even).
Instant gratification is the challenge.
“One reason people give up on their beloved website so easily is because we live in a culture that craves instant gratification. If we don’t see one hundred followers on the first day like our cousin Emmanuel, then we think we’ve failed”
What I’ve learned through this same process is that the early stages are quiet. Not much seems to be happening in the beginning. That’s because like I said before, you’re still finding your voice. You’re not going to be 100% congruent with all of the elements of your vision until you’ve got some runs on the board and seen what works.
That’s okay. Don’t make the world pity you; make the world see what you have to give through taking action for more than a short period of time.
A website doesn’t make you a baller.
There seems to be an element of ego attached to having a website.
“Let me break the bad news to you Johnny: Anyone can start a website and you’re not superior for owning one”
So now we’ve got that out of the way, focus again on what you can do for all of us who may become a follower of your mission. Find ways to inspire us all. That’s what makes you a baller.
Authentic and real trumps all (sorry I said the word trump).
Whichever direction you decide to take, know that more than any single element, telling a real story that is authentic will help you the most. People are tired of fake. A website that has a fake founder or a fake message is boring. We’ve seen it all before and no one is tuning into that station anymore.
Be different instead of better.
If I had a dollar for every person that told me they want to interview entrepreneurs, I’d be a billionaire. Doing what everyone else is doing and trying to be better doesn’t work. It’s hard and when times get tough, you’ll give up.
Instead, get inspired by something you love and do it differently. If you want to interview entrepreneurs, then maybe do it with your iPhone while riding around on a motorbike in different cities. Maybe dress up in a 1980’s tennis outfit and interview your beloved entrepreneur.
Just do the online thing in your own unique way without trying to be like all the wannabes. That’s how you stand out and have your own website one day that does get noticed.
Let’s wrap it up so you can get to work.
There are multiple options to consider before starting a website. Having a website is not the only way to build something of your own. You can use social, try a landing page or leverage someone else’s platform first.
A website is not a big deal anymore. Who you are, what you have to say and the value you bring is what matters – not your website.
If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net
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