Read This before You Start a Website or Blog

Here’s what happens most of the time when you start a website for the first time.

  • Register a domain name.
  • Pick a hosting company that is advertised the most.
  • Pick their cheapest option.
  • Use their standard WordPress installation.
  • Spend a lot of time browsing through different themes. Choose and install one of them.
  • Add and remove a bunch of WordPress plugins.
  • Start new accounts on all the social media channels that you can get your hands on.
  • Add a bunch of stats trackers to your website.
  • Add several monetization options to your website, Google ads, Amazon Affiliates, and other affiliate networks.

After a while, you realize that your website doesn’t make a penny. Your stats show that not even your friends and family are visiting your website.

Then you realize that you haven’t added much content to your website, because you were busy with social media, plugins, themes, analytics, monetization, and other fancy stuff.

You start creating content for your website. You realize that it’s hard work and neither your stats nor your income justifies that hard work and you give up on your website.

What went wrong?

You forgot to ask the most important question.

What is the objective of my website?

Here’s the objective of my website.

To build an audience interested in reading original, interesting, valuable content about business, entrepreneurship, leadership, creativity, writing, blogging, life lessons, and personal development.

That objective is the foundation of my website. Everything I do or not do is determined by that objective.

How would it look like if I achieved my objective?

Elaborate on Your Objective. Make it tangible. Add some details.

  • The size of my audience reaches 100K Medium followers and 20K email newsletter subscribers.
  • My traffic sources are balanced between Medium, my email newsletters, word of mouth marketing, and search traffic.

What is the ideal scenario?

A person comes across my content via Medium, word of mouth marketing, or search traffic. They read some posts in my blog. They like them so much that they subscribe to my email newsletter.

They consume the newsletter every week, which contains links to my latest posts. That way, this person consumes my content regularly. I want to create an audience of 20K email newsletter subscribers like this person.

How do I realize that ideal scenario?

The secret to realizing that ideal scenario is to focus on a few action items that serve that goal and let go of everything else.

Time is precious and it’s a limited source. I don’t have the time to create the best content I can come up with and then keep up with a dozen social media channels.

It’s either great content or social media. The first one serves my purpose more than the second one. That’s why I limit my social media use to a bare minimum.

Focus Your Content

I could write posts on a bunch of topics from sports to politics to whatever topic is popular at that moment, but none of them would serve my objective. So, I choose not to.

I have given up writing about investing and cryptocurrencies, even though they are slightly related to my niche.

Keep Your Website Simple

My goal isn’t to overwhelm the visitors of my website with a bunch of widgets and flashy graphics. Taking ads on my website would interfere with my objective. The income from affiliate marketing wouldn’t justify the distraction they would create on my website at this moment.

So, I keep my blog extremely simple. It’s all about providing the best reading experience to the visitor.

Make strategic adjustments

Even though I keep things simple, I also make some strategic adjustments to my website. I use Google Analytics and heat maps to see where my visitors come from and what they do on my website.

The heat maps show that people use the social media share buttons. Those buttons serve my word of mouth marketing goal.

Analytics shows that people click the category links a lot and they prefer to see the image and summary of ten posts instead of two complete posts.

The MailChimp stats show that people prefer to see the summaries of all of my posts in a week in a newsletter instead of a single one discussed in detail.

In summary, people want to have several options and to choose one or more of them.

People want to see an image coupled with a post to keep their imagination engaged. People want to read short paragraphs with subtitles and quotes in between. However, they don’t like it when the post is overformatted.

As a website admin, you need to be able to read your stats and come up with strategic adjustments. If you can’t find any adjustments as a result of checking your stats, you’re wasting your time with them.

Track Key Stats

Don’t overwhelm yourself with a bunch of stats. Focus on a key numbers that matter. Here’s what I focus on.

  • Medium followers
  • Email newsletter subscribers

My goal is to grow both of them 10% every week.

Another goal is to create a balance between the following traffic sources.

  • Medium
  • Word of mouth marketing
  • Email newsletter
  • Search traffic

In order to maximize the number of visitors from Medium and word of mouth marketing, I try to write the best content I can.

In order to maximize the email newsletter traffic, I feature the most popular post of the week in that week’s email. I also add links to the other posts with a few sentences.

In order to maximize the search traffic, I publish a blog post per day and use the import tool of Medium.

How to Promote?

There’s a single social media channel that I use to promote my blog. That channel is Medium. This serves my purpose, because the people that I’m targeting are visiting Medium. In Medium, they read my end product, my blog posts. There’s nothing fancy or tricky here.

Conclusion

When you first start a website or blog, you have countless options to choose from. Unfortunately, most of us are drawn to fancy stuff that don’t serve our purposes at all. As a result, we don’t make any progress and quit.

A wiser approach is to determine your objective first and then build everything else on top of it. Determining your objective first helps you to focus on what matters and let go of what doesn’t serve your objective.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.