Hey there, and happy Tuesday. I’ve finally got settled into the new house, and I’m definitely seeing an increase in my daily word counts, which is great. (Well, except for yesterday when I spent the day reading The Last Beginning, because OHMYGOD I could not put it down.) Of course, I’m still hopelessly behind with NaNoWriMo, but I’ve decided that I don’t care. Obviously I do, but as long as I keep writing every day, that’s what counts.
Once you’ve written something, and published it, all you really want is for someone to read it. Preferably lots of someones.
But what do you do when you just aren’t getting the traffic?
I’ll admit, I’m not necessarily the best person to be writing about this, since my own stats have been a little sad lately. But I’m not giving up, and I’m going to be taking my own advice and applying the tips below.
So, you may have noticed that today’s post isn’t at eclecticellen.wordpress.com, but eclecticellen.com. That’s right, I’ve finally made the jump to self hosting my blog. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, and it’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but I honestly feel like this was the right move for me, and the right time. So welcome to the new Eclectic Ellen. Since this is such a talked about issue, I thought I would share some of the reasons that I decided to move to my own little part of the internet.
If you’re using a free host, you don’t own your blog.
For me this was the most important of the reasons, since if you’re using a free hosting site you’re not in control of your work, and the site is free to shut down your blog whenever they want. It’s likely that this won’t happen if you follow their rules, but it’s a chance you have to take.
You can’t make money from it.
If you’re using a free hosting site, you’re not able to make money through affiliation, sponsored posts or adverts. If you’re serious about blogging, and want to turn it into a money maker, you’ll need to be self hosted. This wasn’t the biggest reason for me, but I wanted the option to be able to make money from it while I’m still studying.
You have limited customisation options.
Unless you’re willing to pay a lot of money for a customisable theme, you’re limited to the free themes that you’re given with a site like WordPress, and although they can be good, you’re not able to add your own plugins, widgets or create a custom design. For me this was a big deal, since I couldn’t find a theme that was exactly what I wanted. With a custom design, you can hire someone to do it for you, or you can have a go yourself. There are tons of free themes available, for every kind of blog.
Choosing a blog host isn’t an easy decision, and definitely not one you should go into lightly. For me, Bluehost was the right choice, since it’s one of the hosts recommended by WordPress, and has a reasonable price with good support. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can click here. (This is an affiliate link, which means that I get paid a fee for anyone who signs up having been recommended by me. However, I don’t share things that I don’t believe in.)
Ultimately it depends on what you want to do with your blog, and what your goals are. If blogging is just a fun past time for you, and you’re not so worried about building an audience or making money, then you’ll probably be fine with a free host. But if you want to be able to grow your blog, your audience and your experience, it might be worth looking into paid hosting.
So what do you think? Is self hosting something that you’ve looked at? What are your thoughts on free vs paid blog hosting? Let me know in the comments section down below.
Since this is something very much on my mind at the moment, I thought I’d open it up (the discussion, not my head) and share a few of my thoughts about this. What started out as a few tips evolved into, basically, an essay full of advice, which I hope you find useful. This essentially turned into a love letter to blogging, and the blogging community, and I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
If you read this blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed how many times I’ve changed the design and the colours, and you probably do the same thing with your own blog, until you’ve found the perfect combination of layout and tone you love. These graphics took a couple of hours to make, and every choice matters, from font to colour. But if you’re here, I don’t need to tell you that. You probably know exactly what it’s like.
But I think it’s something that you don’t hear enough when you’re first starting to look at blogging professionally, or just want to grow the size of your following a little. Looking from the outside it seems so easy, like people make their blogs in three seconds flat and write a few hundred words every day. No. Most posts take at least a couple of hours to think through, plan, write and design, and some can be in the works for days, or even months or years. If you really want your blog to succeed, whatever success you’re aiming for, you need to be prepared to put in the work and the time.
Blogging, to me, isn’t something you can think about for a few minutes and then put away again. It’s something that you’re always thinking about, at least in my experience. Everything you do in your life can be related back to your blog in some way. That recipe you tried, and the subsequent pictures, for instance.
Blogging is a commitment, and like any commitment you need to take it seriously if you want it to work out. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun, of course it can! If it wasn’t fun, or we didn’t enjoy it, most of us would have given up a long time ago. But if you want to make your blog more successful, it comes down to treating it like you would a job, because you reach a certain point when it feels that way. (Or at least, I have. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. A job that you love doesn’t feel like work, but it is.) You have to be willing to put in the hours, and you’ll see the rewards in no time.
What does that look like? Well, writing posts regularly, so people know when to expect them, and can look forward to those days. A lot of people write daily, but you don’t have to if you don’t think you have that much to write about. Try scheduling posts in advance if you know you’re not going to have the time to write that day, or if you have a ton of great ideas you want to write about. Sure, it’s a job, but if you do a job you love, you never work a day in your life. It’s super cheesy, but I think it’s true.
“You do… what?” asks that random relative, peering at you over a glass of wine and varifocal lenses. “I write a blog,” I reply, my optimism draining away like the melted icing of the birthday cake on the table. Then the dreaded, “Oh, that’s nice” that falls like a guillotine, swiftly and sharply crushing my dreams.
I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there. Well, maybe not exactly there. I got a little carried away. But I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen the blank smile you get when you tell someone you’re at film school, or writing a novel, or you’re an artist of any kind, thus without a “regular” income or a tiny cubicle. (Side note: Do people really still work in those ghastly cubicles you see in old movies?)
It’s a fact of life that when you’re an artist of any kind, in this case a writer of a blog, you’ll have people that won’t understand. They won’t understand why you’re scrabbling for a notebook and a pen at three in the morning because you’ve just had the most awesome idea that anyone has ever had, that you’ll probably hate come the morning. These are the same people that will sigh heavily as you adjust your food, fiddle with your phone and stand on a chair to get that perfect Instagram-worthy shot of your dinner, the recipe of which is so going to go on your blog.
But what you’ll lack from those people is more than made up for by the amazing, wonderful, slightly-obsessive-in-a-nice-way, community that shares your love of writing and creativity, and is always there to have your back and support you. They might be in real-life, or just online, but I’m pretty sure that wherever your blog goes, there will still be those very same people that read the first tentative (and embarrassing) posts cheering you on, even if they’re just a few voices among the many.
It’s so easy to look at hugely successful blogs, of all genres, with their millions of subscribers, and hate yourself and your blog and your wardrobe and your life and your laptop and that stupid cheerful cupcake you bought that’s now laughing at your optimism.
Too extreme? Well, maybe a little. The point is that you can’t compare your blog, which you’ve been working on for a month or two, to a blog that someone’s been working on for years. 99.9% of blogs probably take at least a year (I’m guessing) to really build a following, and although there are a few blogs that get hundreds of subscribers in a matter of days, and you just can’t figure out how, that’s not something you need to worry about. You’ll get there eventually. Besides, I’d rather have less readers to see my embarrassing early posts, and have more followers later, when I’ve actually hit my stride. Plus, the few loyal readers that have followed your story from the start often mean so much more than people that just jump on the blog-wagon because now you’re “like, so famous”.
The moral here is, don’t compare yourself to other, über successful blogs. Although it’s not always obvious, they’ve probably been exactly where you are, and have spent just as much time as you have, trying to make it to where they are now. It’s not a race, and you can’t compare yourself to someone who’s vaulting, when you’re hurdling, or running, or jump roping.
To be completely honest, this advice could probably be applied to almost anything, and not just blogging, so feel free to take what you want and leave the rest.
I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this. What would your advice be for bloggers who are just starting out, or who want to build their blog? What do you think of the advice above? Let me know in the comments section down below.
This is something I wanted to try, and I know that anyone who reads this blog regularly is probably rolling their eyes right about now. “But Ellen, you’re always talking about new ideas”, yeah I know. But I’d really like this idea to work out.
So, what exactly is “Ask Ellen”?
Well, good question. It’s essentially what is sounds like. I’d like it to become a sort of weekly advice column type thing, where you (the reader), can write in to me with any questions you might have, and I’ll answer them here on the blog. These could be anything from a top you’re not sure what to wear with, to general advice about life or love. It’s all up to you, if you choose to write.
And how do I get in touch with you?
Well, there’s two ways. You can either leave me a comment on this post, or you can email me at email@example.com with the subject line “Ask Ellen”. If you want to remain anonymous, that’s okay too, just let me know.
Obviously, if no one writes to me then this will become a small blip in the history of the blog that we avoid making eye contact with and never speak of again. But I’d really love to answer your questions, and be able to help (if you need it).
Anyway, let me know what you think, or if you’re going to write in. Hopefully next Sunday I’ll be posting my first answered question! 🙂
I recently wrote a post about why you shouldn’t give up on your blog (which can be found here). In it I mentioned making a list of reasons why you blog, and why you love it, to remind you when you forget. Today I thought that I would share my own list, in the hopes of inspiring someone, and reminding myself when I forget.
Blogging can be tough sometimes, and so this post includes some of the lessons that I’ve learned while blogging. As I write this, I hope it’s a post that applies to bloggers of all different levels, not just newbies, but more seasoned bloggers, who can look back and agree (or not). I also feel that, having dealt with some really harsh rejection today, that this post can be inspirational, and encourage you to keep going, even though it can be tough. Note: this post is purely my opinion.