From Hobby To Business
When I first started blogging, I started with Weebly. It was an easy, drag and drop platform and very convenient but after further research I changed platforms to WordPress. I started blogging as a hobby back in end of 2015 with no idea of what I was doing. I was halfway around the world living on Oahu, Hawai’i exploring everything it had to offer. Being far away from family and friends, I figured that this would be a good way to document our time in Hawai’i. I quickly learned that I can achieve so much more through blogging than what meets the eye.
I took a break when we moved to Florida and found a full-time job at Banfield Pet Hospital. It was difficult to keep up with a full-time blog so I continued to use it more for a hobby than anything. All that changed in May of last year. We decided to quit our jobs and move back into our home in Tennessee. I took advantage of the opportunity to grow my blog as a business versus a hobby.
During this transition period I had sat down and done a lot of research. I knew that switching platforms was going to greatly hurt my stats but I knew it had to be done if I wanted the best outcome for my website and my business. I bumped into Lauren Elizabeth’s blog on Facebook and decided to read her blogging tips. This is when I really decided to make the change. In fall of 2017 I took the leap of faith. I decided to self-host and transfer my blog. I am not going to lie. This process was a huge headache and a huge learning experience. I was uneasy for weeks and even stressed out of my mind. I wanted to go back to my easy, drag and drop platform but deep inside I knew that this was the best decision for me to make.
Eventually, I decided to self-host with Site Ground. They were really easy to work with but I did loose my photos on every blog post. I had to find a new theme, learn a new platform, research plugins, and pretty much recreate a new website. Luckily the important stuff transferred such as my blog posts (with missing photos) and my comments. I decided to change my mindset and take it as a refresh button for my website. If I want a career and a business out of this, then I have to change it into a business and not a hobby. I had to be professional. I am no longer talking to my family and friends, I am now talking to the world.
Due to me loosing my photos, I decided to go ahead and redo each of my previous blog posts to be more professional. I added more details to each one of them along with key terms, SEO, better photos, etc. I also changed it from a journal entry to a professional post as well as fixing my horrible grammar errors. Being bilingual can be challenging at times so I apologize in advanced if something seems hard to understand or you find grammar errors. You may still find a few posts still being updated but soon enough all of my 100+ posts will be up to date with beautiful photos again.
What I Learned
Obviously I started as a hobby before going the business route but if you want to go directly to the business route, go for it. I highly recommend starting with WordPress. It is easy to use once you get the hang of it and the possibilities with it are infinite. There is so much room to grow when using WordPress and even more room to grow when you are self-hosted. Here is how you can do it.
Starting Your Blog
I highly recommend self-hosting your website with Site Ground. I haven’t had any issues with them. They were very easy to work with and helped me greatly in transferring my website from one platform to the other. This process should be much easier for you like you aren’t transferring your website but instead starting from scratch. If you are transferring your website, don’t be scared. The staff at Site Ground will help you out tremendously. You can sign-up through my link here to get started.
I recommend signing up for their Starter Plan. It is only $3.95 a month which is easy to keep up with. The best thing is that you get up 10gb of WebSpace, 24/7 Support (which are very helpful), fast server speed, and free site transfer. Once you set up your self-hosting account you can then start your WordPress. You should be able to do see it after you sign-up. There should be a way of installing it. If you have any questions you can always bug your 24/7 support system. They were the ones that walked me through it step by step.
Claim Your Domain
Once you have signed up make sure to find a blog name that suits you. Definitely buy a domain. You want to make sure you have a domain set up. One it looks professional and two someone else may purchase that domain leaving you empty-handed. I’ve seen it happen to other new bloggers before sadly. Make sure to pick something that goes with you and what you are writing about.
For my blog I chose “The Walking Mermaid.” I am a mermaid at heart and love to be out in the ocean but I also love to explore the mountains, chase waterfalls, and collect flowers. It literally took me months to come up with a name that I really liked. Please keep in mind that getting a website ready to launch may take weeks depending on the person. Patience is virtue.
Self-Hosting means that this blog is yours. Not WordPress’, not Weebly’s, not any other company’s! It is YOURS!!! You own the domain and the rights to your website. You paid for it so it’s yours! Your website won’t look unprofessional like when I first started. I had the horrible domain of www. The Walking Mermaid. Weebly .com. I cringed every time I had to share that link. It didn’t look professional and I felt like I was tied to someone. I had no freedom, I was limited as to what I could do, but not no more. I now have the freedom to do what I want with my business, my blog, and my passion. You can also use plug-ins which is something you can’t do with WordPress Premium.
By having more freedom you can monetize your website as you like, use whatever theme fits your business best, you can create a shop, and much more. So yes! Self host from the very beginning. I urge everyone to do so. Best of all, it gives you a sense of confidence and accomplishment. You have a website that is your own. No one else’s.
For more The Walking Mermaid blogging advice and tips click here.
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