I don’t know how it happened, but a flurry of site builders and bloggers all started creating their blogs and websites around 2002, including me. I actually had many niche sites after a while and between trying to write about all of my passions on various sites, running some keyword-laden sites for monetary purposes, and having to pay for a dedicated server to host them all in the end, it became too overwhelming. I was seriously out of control with close to 100 different sites! There was a time when I would pick up my mail in bins from the post office on a weekly basis because so many CDs were coming in for reviews for my music site that they would not fit into a box! It definitely had its ups and downs and I learned a lot over the years about site building, so I think it’s high time I discussed some of my site building experience. Though let it be known that I am no expert, just an amateur sharing my finds.
If you are starting a new site, I would recommend considering three things: choosing only a few niches that you are passionate about and really have time for, selecting or creating a site design that you are happy with, and creating some base content before focusing too much on building visitors.
Choose niches that you are passionate about.
Here’s a little background information on how I chose my current niches…
So I recently started over, with only three sites with three new beginnings: Uteki, Tasty Tulsa, and White Fox Bath & Body. And it takes all of my willpower not to start new niche sites based on ideas or other hobbies that I have. Before I discuss the beginning of a site, let me explain a bit about why I chose these three topics.
I chose these three because I know that I am consistently passionate about these things, and here’s why… I’m attracted to making an online magazine style site like Uteki because to me, editing and adding to it is like creating a patchwork quilt or a magazine collage. After I had graduated high school, I dated a guy that suggested that I make a magazine collage. He told me I simply needed to cut out magazine pictures that interested me and paste them onto a posterboard in some way that I enjoyed. He pointed out that it was an easy way to be creative, and he was right. That night I stayed up late making one, just having fun setting all of the images together. Adding to this site is always fun for me in the same way because it’s a way to celebrate the different seasons, to add pops of color to the site with the images, to work with various guest authors, to share some of my own projects, and to push myself to keep the front page fresh and interesting. It also gives me a bit of breathing room to explore other hobbies in one place if I want to, and to experiment with different site techniques.
Tasty Tulsa was an easy choice for a site that I wanted to focus on, because I know I’ll always have a passion for good food. This is a site that I started with my sister a few years ago and we had a fun time with it; when she moved away I stopped working on it, but I’m trying to revive it again.
White Fox Bath & Body showcases my bath & body items that I love making, like soap, candles, and perfume. Having a separate site for this was a no-brainer because it is different from these other sites, focusing on physical products rather than content. And it’s a hobby that I love to do!
Choose a design that you are happy with.
It was also important to me to have site designs that I was comfortable with before putting a lot of time into growing visitors; getting the right design was an essential focal point for my beginner sites. One of my downfalls in previous years was spending way too much time tweaking the designs of my sites. This was a bit baffling to regular readers, who would visit a site that looked different every few months. Doing a site design overhaul is great every now and then, but spend some time choosing a design that you feel happy and comfortable with, so that you can focus on other aspects of the site once you’re settled in.
If you haven’t already discovered the joys of WordPress as a platform, I would highly recommend it, as they have many great free site themes to choose from. It’s also simply one of the best platforms out there.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your starting content.
Few things will turn away a site visitor as much as landing on a site that looks bare. There’s nothing like getting those emails where people ask why there’s so little on your site, which I have gotten, so just start experimenting with different kinds of posts that you find interesting.
In the beginning, a site is like a star, floating amongst a vast galaxy of stars. When you’re first building a site and adding content, at least for most people unless you’re pre-selling it, you write and nobody knows about it – it’s your own private space. This gives you a bit of freedom to experiment with writing styles and different types of posts, and you sometimes forget that someday people may be reading your site. Then you get a trickle of visitors, and if you’re like me, you start to rethink your content, and with that you also naturally focus more on writing useful, quality, inspiring, and ever-changing content in the future. Growing an audience builds these strengths as a blogger by keeping you a bit in check.
So now that I have chosen topics that I enjoy, have designs that I am happy with, and have established some content on these sites, I can think about where to take the sites from this point.