Running a website is hard as sh*t.
Especially if you choose to post… oh, I don’t know, let’s say roughly five times a month.
Before I had started my website, every article I read basically said the exact same thing: posting once a month is more then enough. Once a month? How am I supposed to build a following if I only post once a month?
I can see now that… well, not that I was wrong, but I was pretty naïve to think that I knew better then other professionals. My thought process was something akin to, ‘a month is a long time, I can definitely post every week and be fine.’ So that’s what I did at the very beginning.
Posting every single week got old/infuriating real fast. I felt like I was losing my mind, having to constantly be preparing the next post, worrying about how was I going to tackle the vastly different topics that interested me, and perhaps the worst of all – it didn’t leave me any time for continuing with my books.
Needless to say, that was not a good way to run my website, nor a good way to keep my sanity in check. It took me probably the better half of 2017 to get into a groove and set myself a schedule for what was to be posted when. I still struggle with the system I’ve put into place sometimes – we all know how life likes to ruin our plans – so while I haven’t quite perfected the art of managing my website – and it’s not even close to being everything I want it to be – I’ve definitely learned a lot in the process.
This article is to share 3 tips I wish I’d known when I was starting out.
- Start with One Idea
This is probably one of the hardest things I had to learn when I was starting out. I had been ‘planning’ all the different elements/topics I wanted my website to have, so when I finally went for it, I was all over the place. One week I’d post a TAF (short story), the next I’d post a recipe, and still another would be a product review. There was absolutely no structure, and it was driving me crazy flipping back and forth each week between different ideas.
One thing I wish I had read/or heard, was this: Your website will expand. It takes time to establish a website from nothing. You have to pick things like layout, theme, how you want it to look, and that’s all before you start adding content. Your best bet when you’re just starting out is to focus your energy and time on one thing – preferably the main thing you’d want the website to be about – and only post that.
You may feel like you’re limiting yourself, since you’re bursting with ideas about this and that, but trust me – focus on one thing, and get yourself to fall into the pattern of posting that one thing. Remember, you can always add more once you’re more established. Give yourself time to get used to having a website before you try to go whole hog.
2. Pick a Posting Schedule (That You Can Realistically Keep Up With)
Give yourself a posting schedule that you think you’ll be able to stick to. It doesn’t have to be just once a month, it could be more, or less then that. When you’re just starting out, I’m sorry to say but no one is looking at your website yet. Now is the time to experiment and find what works for you. Before you begin to build a following, and especially before people start expecting you to post in the schedule you’ve set.
Give yourself enough time between posts that you’ll be able to do the following three things:
- Write the post that needs to be posted
- Write the next post (or at least, have the idea)
- Have a personal life (hang out with friends, be able to go to family functions [like holidays], have a few ‘off’ days, etc.)
Let’s say you tell yourself you’ll be able to post each week. Will you have enough time in one week to come up with an idea for next weeks’ post, while simultaneously writing this weeks post, and still be able to go to grandma’s birthday/Christmas, etc.? Also, if you’re too stressed, feel like you never have a day off, and are constantly wracking your brain for the next idea? You need to dial back your scheduling.
Remember, you can always add more things to post later. You don’t have to come out of the gate doing everything all at once.
You gotta walk before you can run.
3. Plan Your Posts
It sounds simple, and yet… it can be one of the hardest things to do. You don’t want to wake up on your posting day with an ‘oh shit, I don’t have an idea for what to post today!’
True, you could always just skip that day, and get yourself ready for the next one, but, you’ll want to get yourself into the habit of not skipping posting days. Since your website is still new, and you’re still getting used to having it, you’ll want to be able to schedule your time so you’re able to do your work and still have fun. Think of it like you’re forming a new habit – you gotta find ways to incorporate it into your already established routine, without disrupting the rest of your life.
I’m assuming you didn’t quit your day-job while you’re starting this website, so let’s pretend you just got in from work, perhaps you have kids who need to be fed/put to bed, or a pet that needs to be taken care of – next thing you know it’s 11pm, you’re just about to collapse into bed when you suddenly remember: you were supposed to post something to your website today. You begrudgingly drag yourself to your website, and double-check and it’s just as you thought: no posts were scheduled, and you don’t have any finished/ready to post.
Now you have to spend your precious sleeping time thinking/writing/editing and finally posting an article to your website.
You have a schedule you want to stick to – awesome! Now it’s time to put it to good use, and start planning out the posts you want to put up on those days. For simplicity sake, we’ll just use my posting schedule for this example. Which is every two weeks, and the 13th of every month.
This past Friday (Nov. 2nd) I posted what I call a Throw Away Fic, (which is just a short story), and today (Nov. 5th) I posted this, which internally I just call an Article. Next thing I need to post this month is a Product Review, which I do on the 13th of each month.
After that, my next two posts are:
Nov. 16th: Another TAF
Nov. 19th: Another article
I try to alternate my article content between writing tips and veganism, as these are the prime two other things I post, excluding the Throw Away Fics. Back when I was first starting my website, I had sat myself down and wrote out a list of all the possible article topics I wanted to post, and saved them to my computer. Now, I go to that list and plan out my next few articles, usually till the end of the month.
Organization is key here. I know it’s not fun, and is probably one of the least fun parts of having your website, but this saves me from having those last-minute freak outs of not having content, and not having an idea for content, too. I try to schedule out my articles at least one month in advance.
My TAFs are a bit of a different story. Last time I’d counted, I had roughly 60-something short stories that I could finish and post. I schedule those, but sometimes, plans change. For example, if a holiday is coming up, I will write a new TAF specific for the holiday, and leave the scheduled one to be posted at a later time. I don’t always know exactly which story idea I’ll be posting – sometimes it’s one of the ones from The Vault, and sometimes it’s new stories I write on my commute – but I try to get it done/scheduled at least the week before it’s supposed to go up.
Planning out your posts can put your mind to ease and not make you feel like you’re scrabbling each week (or month) to get a post to your website. This will also allow you to actually schedule the posts in your website.
In WordPress, when you make a new post, it enables you to Post Now, or you can schedule the post for a later date. This is extremely helpful when life decides to get in the way, and you’re not able to make it to a computer to manually post your article on your scheduled day – you can set it to go up automatically.
It may seem like a small thing, but it can be a life saver, especially around the holidays, when you’re pre-occupied with holiday-related worries. This gives you one less thing to try to remember after you finish cooking/hosting/buying presents, etc.
And there you have it. My top three tips of website running help I wish somebody had told me when I was starting out. It will take some time for you to adjust your schedule no matter how much of your time you commit to your website, so if you hit a few bumps along the way, don’t get discouraged – that’s just part of doing something new.
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