Professional Blogging: Lessons Learned The Hard Way

Lessons learned the hard way

After working recently as a journalist/editor/manager for an on line publication run by a dubious flimflam man who was more con than pro (as in conman versus professional) a swift exit was made from the grasp of “Frackle Media” who owe hundreds of writers monies for articles written.  It was decided that lessons learned from working for the “seasoned” SEO publisher and professional con artist should be applied to my own “blogging” site.

It should be pointed out that it was the “white-hat” SEO techniques that were utilized and not this nefarious individual’s unethical use of self promotion and lack of promised payment to writer’s/editors and managers hired. It should also be pointed out that some of the SEO used by this man were also “black-hat,” and also not used on this site.

Taking a leap backward, it was further decided that all the time devoted to a website designed to rip off everyone else should be spent on mine own site, owned, operated and published by myself via the auspices of WordPress.  Professional blogging was the catchphrase and like most other things in this life, it was done the hard way.

Firstly; WordPress.com do not support advertisements on their hosted blogs. For that to happen, one needs to deviate from the norm and go with their .org side of things.  In essence, the blogger is still using the familiarity of WordPress but with additions that include Jetpack, plugins, SEO and picking the right hosting site to power your blog and ensure that your hard work, and the advertisements attached are seen.

This is not, amazingly, very straight forward.

Awareness of the pitfalls brings us to the first word of warning.

Beware which domain purchasing/web hosting service you use.

All offer similar low starting prices, per month (which usually equate to a one-time payment versus a monthly one) and domain name registrations and ownership vary in price but not too much.  Terms like VPS, Dedicated Server, Shared Hosting and so on all help to muddy the water in the decision making process.

What is the difference between VPS and Shared Hosting, do I need to know? Should I care? More importantly is more expensive or cheaper better?

In terms of expense, the best indicator of who one should chose really revolves around two important factors.

  1. The host’s ability to keep their servers up and running (preferably 100 percent of the time, or as close as possible) is perhaps the most important factor.
  2. Running a close second is the support features offered by the host. If your site goes down, or views suddenly drop through no fault of your own, can these providers quickly and efficiently fix your problem.
  3. In essence, expense is not the most important factor in the decision process, although it may become the mitigating factor.

Lost views equal lost revenue via advertisers.

Regardless of whether you have made a penny from your new site or not, lost views equals lost revenue.  This is the “bottom line.” If a hosting company is so inefficient that your site suddenly becomes invisible, several things immediately happen.

Firstly you are silenced. Your voice cannot be heard because the net is not displaying  your articles and fans of your site, or work are not able to find your articles.

This silence means that regardless of whether you use Google Adsense or some other form of revenue generating advertisements on your site no one is being given the chance to help your site earn money.

*Sidenote*

Beware SEO strategists who want to sell you “tricks” designed to bring views to your site.  90 percent of these are black hat techniques that Google hate and they will penalize you; causing your site to lose credibility and ranking.  The best “SEO” will be basic and consist of properly writing your articles and having content that is unique, original and not a watered down copy of someone else’s work.  The basic SEO package offered by WordPress will suffice, more often or not, and while “tricks” may work for awhile, Google will catch on to you and the site, both will suffer accordingly.

Blogging “professionally” means basically that you are using advertisers to earn money for your hard work. It allows you to put your “brand” out there for others to see and your aim is to get revenue from your website while proving that your writing skills are worthy of payment. This will also help you show that, as a freelance writer, you can generate income.

It also means not writing for other sites for free.  Claims that your article will drive traffic to your site are cheap folderol tactics designed to keep money in the publisher’s pocket while you sweat out an article to their specifications.  A friend on Facebook advertised for writers on her website with the proviso: “I can’t pay, but it will drive traffic to your site and there are lots of freebies.” I responded that the only site I write for “for free” is mine own.

Although, that is not entirely true,  when using advertisements for recompense, there is “eventual” payment if one’s site garners enough views. These views, however, can not reach their true potential if the web hosting site you have chosen is not up to the task.

Bluehost.com, the first, and for a very short time current, provider for my site, should be avoided at all cost.  This hosting provider has poorly trained techs for support and if using live chat (prepare for a 30 minute wait on average)  your problems are attended to along with several others, there is no “individual support” here. With their phone support, expect either platitudes, condescension, inept/incorrect responses and a problem not completely fixed, even if it appears to be sorted.

Their pricing is very reasonable, but this is a ploy to lure you in.  Once your site starts taking off (Mine reached over 22K views per month in four short months and was in the process of climbing higher.) problems will ensue.  A mate of mine, a couple of mates actually, hosted their website with Bluehost and ran an average of 500K views per month, after Google changed some policies these numbers fell and it was only later that my friends discovered that part of the problem was with Bluehost.

This will be the first of many articles written that will attempt to point out pitfalls and issues with hosting one’s own website and blogging professionally.  For all those who have made the move already from amateur to pro and have any recommendations of web hosting companies that should be tried or avoided, please do so. Do not, however, include links to said recommendations as these show as spam and will end up in the bin.