Over the past couple of days, I’ve been in the process of changing over my blog to its new self-hosted website here at thebiglakemi.com (thanks Bluehost! ). I’m still new to blogging and have lots to learn throughout this process, but I thought it might be helpful to share some of my goals and reasons for making these changes (such as purchasing a domain & self-hosting my website) early. I recommend working backwards from big picture ambitions first, then breaking those down into smaller and smaller goals and action steps. For example, if your goal is to build up your e-commerce site as a side hustle, what small steps can you take today to make that happen? Or, if you’re like me, maybe you’ve been wanting to find ways to expand your brand, connect with more people, and support your income through writing. Lots of big goals there–time to break them down!
1.) Start blogging.
Okay, you might be thinking, this one seems at once obvious and not all together challenging…unless you’re an over-thinker like I am. Prior to starting this blog, I spent months and months looking up blogging tips and tricks and inspiration on Pinterest, and have since devoted several hours each week looking for new content and reading my ever-growing list of blogs I follow via bloglovin‘. I’ve read posts from hundreds of bloggers on a variety of subjects, but in the process, failed to start writing anything of my own. My advice on this part of the experience, however, is not to avoid reading others, but to simply start writing. Write right now. Do the thing. Start blogging.
2.) Build an aesthetically pleasing, accessible website.
Again, this part can get completely overwhelming. I’m actually still in the process of refining my website, but I’ve decided not to let that stop my pursuits. I’ve chosen to simply let my style evolve and site change as needed, which is why I decided against an official “LAUNCH” event, despite what several other sites and entrepreneurs have suggested. Perhaps in the future, since my blog is very much connected to my business and brand, a capital-L Launch might be appropriate, but for now, I’d rather take this time to start connecting and sharing with you.
There are so many choices to make in starting a blog or website–which hosting platform to use? do I purchase my own domain? what type of site do I want? which font color?!–that it can easily impede the process of starting and doing. Whether you choose Blogger or WordPress or Tumblr or _____, just make sure it’s a platform you’re comfortable with and something you will actually use, and want to use. And as to deciding on the look and feel of the site, I recommend starting with the free templates provided for your platform. This will give you an opportunity to decide if the layout, design, and options really work for you. From there, you can customize a free template, or you can purchase one that meets your needs (Etsy and Creative Market have wonderful options!). For example, I initially started my blog at WordPress.com, and have since transferred it to WordPress.org, as the options with self-hosting became more important to me. In both instances, I started with a free template, and decided which features and widgets I actually wanted or needed to use, and I’m continuing to evolve from there.
3.) Create interesting & relevant content.
This is the whole reason for starting a blog, isn’t it? To create and share interesting content with your friends, family, or readers? Personally, I found myself wanting to share more of my photos and go into greater detail with the content I was (and am currently) sharing on Instagram. I absolutely love connecting with people who share a love for the Great Lakes region, and sometimes a single photo and caption aren’t enough. I want to share more about the beauty of winter here in Michigan, create travel guides and lists, offer artistic freebies and product process photos, and generally dive into the process for The Big Lake in order to create more, connect, and hopefully inspire!
4.) Enhance revenue streams.
I’m a maker, freelancer, and entrepreneur, and I’m looking for ways to grow my brand and support my work in ways that are authentic to me, The Big Lake, and my overall goals and values. One of the key things I like best about working for myself is the flexibility that comes with it. Of course, there are lots of long hours that come with a varied return on investment as my income changes from month to month, which is why I’m always seeking ways to diversify my income and sustainably grow my business. I appreciate the ability to promote my art and generate income through my blog, and I hope I’m able to continue to share my insights and experiences with you as I learn more. Which leads me to my fifth goal,
5.) Continue to learn more.
Especially since I’m just starting out, there’s so much to learn, and so many mistakes to make (this is a good thing!). It’ll be a constant effort not to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there. But in sticking true to my word of the year, it’s going to process of doing–learning and researching and asking questions, yes–but ultimately doing the actual thing and working hard and making a continued to effort. Hopefully I’ll be able to share those processes here with you, and I’m sure we’ll be able to learn from each other!
What about you? Do you have any goals for your blog or website this year? Any blogging resources you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!
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