In today’s podcast, we are going to show you what you need to be focusing on when you start!
In this episode, we share what you should be focusing on if you are interested in starting your own blog or website including:
- What you need to include in your blog
- How much content you should have when you start
- How often you should be writing or adding to your blog
- What you need to be focusing on in the beginning
- Where you should start
Can’t Miss Moments This Week:
Each week Jocelyn and I share moments that we might have missed if we had not started our online business. We hope these moments inspire you to see the possibilities and freedom online business could provide for your family.
BONUS: The Bare Bones Blog Checklist!
We love sharing resources that we know will help you make growing your business as easy as possible. That’s why this week we have included our FREE Bare Bones Checklist to help ensure you are focusing on the right things when you first get started with your blog or website.
- Join The Flip Your Life Mastermind here
- Get a professional logo design for cheap
- Make website design simple with color palettes
- Check out our reviewer Crystal’s website
Enjoy the podcast; we hope it inspires you to explore what’s possible for your family!
Thanks again for listening to the show! If you liked it, make sure you share it with your friends and family! Our goal is to help as many families as possible change their lives through online business. Help us by sharing the show!
If you have comments or questions, please be sure to leave them below in the comment section of this post. See y’all next week!
Can’t listen right now? Read the transcript below!
JOCELYN: Hey ya’ll! On today’s podcast, we’re going to tell you exactly what you should be focusing on when you start a blog or website.
SHANE: Welcome to the Flipped Lifestyle Podcast where life always comes before work. We’re your host, Shane and Jocelyn Sams. Join us each week as we teach you how to flip your lifestyle upside down by selling stuff online. Are you ready for something different? All right, let’s get started.
What’s up, guys? Welcome back to the Flipped Lifestyle. We’ve had a lot of people emailing us lately asking about the process of starting a blog, like, what do you focus on, what should you be looking at, and what are the things you really need to worry about, like there’s so much information about keyword research and all the components you need to include in your blog that we thought this would be a great opportunity to address a lot of those questions in our podcast so we can really get these answers out to everybody at once and not just focus these answers on a few people because, you know, it’s like when you ask a question, everybody else in the room probably has the same question.
So we’re kind of going to do that today and this is not going to be your normal “How to Start a Blog in 10 minutes” type podcast. We’re not here to show you how to install WordPress and at no time am I going to be like, “Go click on this awesome hosting company affiliate link. Go do this so you can give us $50.” I’m not going to do that. This is not that kind of show and there are people out there that have done that and they do it very well. So if you’re looking for something on how to install WordPress or something like that, this is not what we’re doing.
Our goal is to show you how to set up a minimum viable blog. Now you’ve probably heard the term “minimum viable product.” You know, you get a product in its most basic form and get it to the market and then improve it. We’re going to kind of take that and flip it on its head and talk about a minimum viable blog in this podcast and show you the exact things you really need to focus on, the important things, kind of cut through the fluff and get your blog up and running, and do it quickly and efficiently.
JOCELYN: So a few of the things that we’re going to talk about today – what you need to include in your blog, how much content do you need to have when you launch it, how often you should write, things that you don’t need, and probably and most importantly, where you should start.
SHANE: Yeah, that’s a very important part is like what the actual beginning is because there’s a lot of information out there. I mean, when you first start out, I suffered through the same thing. We had so much information overload like, gosh, where do we even begin? How should we focus? You know you hear so many people telling you, you’ve got to have all these things – you’ve got to have a podcast, a YouTube channel, you’ve got to be able to have all these links and backlinks, and keywords, and – it can just get really overwhelming. So our goal really is just to get you started and to give you some basic steps or checklist to where you can cut through all that and just say, “I’m going to have a blog. It’s going to be online and these are the things that really matter to lay a great foundation for the future of my online business.”
JOCELYN: So the first thing we’re going to do though before we get into all that is we’re going to share an iTunes review with you. We have been so appreciative of all your kind words on our iTunes reviews. We have gotten just so many great, awesome words. We just appreciate it so much. Today, the review we’re reading comes from Crystal and Crystal’s website is fineartmom.com. Crystal has been with us just about since the beginning of…
SHANE: She found us very early.
JOCELYN: of Flipped Lifestyle, yeah, and we’re so appreciative of Crystal. She always has something really nice to say to us and we just love her. So thanks, Crystal. She says, “What a breath of fresh air in the world of podcast. It only took only a few moments to be hooked. I could listen to Shane and Jocelyn talk business all day. I love entrepreneurship advice information and these two are the real deal. What a success story for everyday people doing extraordinary things. Wow, the possibilities.” Thanks so much, Crystal. We love it!
SHANE: And if you want to leave us an iTunes review, we would really appreciate that. Those are very important for the rankings in iTunes. They look at that and they see how many stars you’re rated and all the comments about your podcast and you can do that in iTunes. You can go to the website. We have links in the show notes to this podcast to iTunes but it will take you to the website. There’s a button over on the left that says “view in iTunes” and that is where you have to leave reviews. So if you want to leave us a review, we would really appreciate it if you find our content valuable and I want us to keep doing this. Please go leave us a review so that we can move up the rankings in iTunes.
All right, let’s jump into our topics today. The first thing we’re going to talk about is where to start with your blog. Now, this can be a very confusing topic because there’s a lot of information saying other things out there, things like, you know, you should build an audience, you’ve got to start your blog and do all these postings, you’ve got to get on the video at YouTube, you’ve got to get on podcast. So there’s a lot of people really say that you should start with an audience first and they want you to start your blog as fast as possible.
We actually, from experience, do not think that is the best way to go about it. We believe that you should start with your product first, okay. Now, I’m not talking about $1 million product or something that you want to have $100,000 launch, nothing crazy like that, just something for people to consume and maybe purchase or maybe even download for free, kind of like an email opt-in, but we think that you should start with your product first because if your audience comes and you’ve got these blog posts, that’s fine. They found you and that’s cool, they found your blog and all that. But they need something, you know, hard evidence of your expertise, hard evidence of your authority that they can take with them when they leave your site that will give them a reason to come back.
So we like to tell everybody, “Yes, you do. You need a blog to grow your audience” and things like that but you’ve got to have something there for them when they get there or they are not going to stick around. What does it matter if you get good traffic if everyone that shows up at your site reads one blog post and leaves? We really like to say you should start with your product first.
JOCELYN: Chances are, people probably aren’t coming to your blog for your compelling content although we really like to think that that’s true. People are coming there because you’re going to solve a problem for them and that’s what you need to do.
I am a big advocate of having at least a free product for opting in with your email address available from the very beginning.
That’s where I started with my Elementary Librarian site. I had maybe one or two just quick blog post before I had my product finished just saying that my free lesson plans are coming soon. “Look out for them. I’ll send out an email when I get them. Join my email list,” things like that, but the very first thing that I did besides that is to get that free product done so that people knew what I had to offer and more importantly that they will want to come back and get more of that.
SHANE: A lot of your posting is basically opinions or it’s how to do something quick. It’s not really a major life crisis problem-solving thing. If you can do that, if that’s the first impression that you give to people who do find your site eventually, then they are so much more likely to respond to your future communications to come back and to be a part of your community, so we really recommend that you have a product first mentality.
Figure out what you want to sell, create it, it does not have to be some huge product. It can be a small 10-page ebook or maybe a 20-minute screen capture of how to do something – a video- something that you can take money for or people can give you an email address for. Do that first and then you can move on toward your blog content. So the first thing you need to worry about is what you’re going to sell or give away, and that needs to be done before you create your first blog post.
JOCELYN: All right, so the next thing we’re going to discuss is what you need on your blog when you first get started. This is assuming that you’re going to have a blog. A blog is probably one of the best ways to get started instead of just having like a static website that doesn’t change a lot because you need people to be able to find you in search results. And so first of all, we recommend using WordPress. It is probably the biggest website…
SHANE: Platform or whatever, yeah.
JOCELYN: Platform, yeah.
SHANE: Super easy to use. It’s like a word processor basically.
JOCELYN: And so we recommend starting with that from day one. You need to just pick a simple theme, just use one side bar, you know. Don’t get really stressed out about the details of this blog. Just get it started. The only pages you really need at the beginning are like an about me page. You do need a contact page. People need a way to be able to contact you and then you need some blog posts, and so I recommend having, you know, having around 10 blog posts before you really start trying to get your blog out there because if someone comes to your website and you have like two posts and they were written six months ago, then probably, they are not going to be coming back, so just something to think about. You do need to have a decent number of posts on there. It doesn’t have to be like 100.
SHANE: And you can write those in MSWord or something. Write your content out before you start messing with the blog. Same thing with the product first, let that be done and then all you really got to do is set the thing up and then copy paste your content into 10 different posts, publish them all, and there they are. You’ve got pretty much your website launched.
JOCELYN: And so aside from that, you pretty much just need a way to collect emails. We use Aweber to do this. There are other options out there as well, but we like to use Aweber.
SHANE: Day one, start collecting emails. You have to.
JOCELYN: Yeah, you really, really need to do that and even if you don’t have your product 100% finished yet, put it out there. “I’m working on a free ABC product and this is what it’s going to include. If you want to know when this product is available, join my email list,” and that’s just people that are waiting to consume your content so that’s always a good thing to have.
SHANE: And on the email collection, you know, don’t just put, “Sign up for my newsletter” or “If you want to have great content from us…” that is not going to compel people to join your email list. You need to have that freebie done even if it’s not perfect, get it out there and let those people who download it give you feedback so you can improve that thing.
The last thing that we want to say about your actual blog is your side bar. People really stress out about what they should put on their side bar, where they should put things and it’s really actually pretty simple. The top side of your side bar, it just needs to be like maybe a picture of you or the one sentence description of what your website is about. The next thing under that needs to be how you collect your emails, like, “download my free product” or “check out this free product” whatever and a button that opens up a opt in box, and then you need to put your recent post. Show about 10 of them because you’re going to have 10 when you write the blog anyway. That’s all you need in your side bar first.
You can always change it later, just that’s how you get it up and get it quick, and that’s the nuts and bolts that you need to really focus on to get started. If you want some help with this, go to flippedlifestyle.com/podcast9 and you can download our Bare Bones Blog Checklist to show you exactly what you need to kind of tick off as you’re creating you’re creating your blog, okay?
All right, #3, the next thing we want to talk about is how much keyword research should you do when you’re starting to create your blog. People really stress out over this, about SEO and keyword research. I know a lot of people talk about great SEO and the bottom line is, this used to be a lot more important than it is now. Sure, we want the search engines to find us but remember, you’re creating your content, your products, your blog, for people, not for search engines and you really want to write to your audience and you don’t want to get totally freaked out about SEO and researching the perfect keyword for every single post. You know, you can look that up. You can go and look for a few keywords but really, it’s just to guide you on what people are searching for, not that you should have that keyword in this post 10 times and it has to be written in a certain way, and so many headlines have to say the keyword and things like that.
Don’t worry about that. Google is smart. The search engines are very intelligent that if your content is good and it’s focused on a certain topic, they will figure out what you are talking about and, you know, you can get a lot of those SEO plug ins like SEO by Yoast and things like that and I do use those. I’m not saying they are a bad thing. I’ve got them. I kind of look at it every once in a while to make sure I am on point. But like, don’t get freaked out if every single light is green or everything says “yes, you got the SEO right on this part. You know, that can be a road block. If you look down and you’re sitting there stressing for 30 extra minutes on how to work a keyword into a subheading, well, you could have went ahead and posted that blog post and moved on to the next topic.
I would not even recommend at first putting one of those plug ins on your site, just write content. Write about things that you wish you knew about your topic when you started and write about questions that people ask you about your topic. That’s what you want to put into your content and this, the keyword and all the search terms, they are going to happen organically. You cannot game the system. You just have to write about what you’re talking about and all that is kind of going to happen as you do that. Always remember that search engines find keywords but they reward engagement, traffic, and people staying on your site because of good content.
If you’re answering people’s questions, if you’re writing good content and people are actively engaging with it in your comments or they are asking you questions on email, they are actually sitting on your site for 30 seconds a minute and they are reading your content, that’s what’s going to move you up in the search engine. Google wants to see that people find your site valuable, not that you figured out a magic formula for including keywords to trick the search engine into putting you on the first page. So really focus on just writing your content, don’t get caught up with keywords at first.
JOCELYN: All right, so the next tip that we have for you is that you need to decide on a color scheme. Shane and I sort of differ on this a little bit, like, I really like for all of my things, all of my websites to be a nice, neat little package from day one and Shane is sort of just a “Throw it up there and I can change it later” kind of person.
SHANE: All my websites are white background with one color or something.
JOCELYN: And so I really like things to be, I guess, cohesive from the beginning, like, I just want everything to have a nice neat feel and like it has really been thought out. This is actually not as hard as you would think. There is a website that I really like for color palettes and for those of you who, you might be a dude out there like driving around like “What the heck is a color palette?” A color palette is just basically a few colors that look nice together and there are lots of website out there that will help you with this if you don’t know anything about color palettes or if you’re color blind like my partner here.
SHANE: Well, you calm down, now.
JOCELYN: So if you go to the website design-seeds.com that is one of my favorites. I really like Design Seeds because they put pictures of things from nature and they grab colors from that, and it will actually, you can find out like what the hex code numbers of those are and just use those to start out. So just find one that you like, find one that makes sense for your space that you’re in. It might not have any certain color but, you know, it might. If you’re writing about, like, the ocean or something related to boating…
SHANE: Travel or something like that.
JOCELYN: Yeah, you might want to use like an outdoor ocean picture.
SHANE: Like in Coach X O and Jocelyn helped me pick my color palette. I picked, my colors are green, white, and brown because football is like green grass, the football was brown, so I just kind of picked football related colors and we just found like a color palette that kind of guided everything or tied everything together. Flipped Lifestyle is, what is it? Four colors I think.
JOCELYN: I think we used four colors on Flipped Lifestyle, Elementary Librarian has three in the palette. I would recommend that you choose at least four if you can. It makes things a little bit easier when you’re making images later on down the road, but definitely use those palettes. There are other websites out there also that you can find palettes on but that’s just a really quick and easy way to find colors that look nice together.
SHANE: And make sure that everything matches. Jocelyn has kind of bent me toward this whole color palette stuff lately because when I’m making stuff, like for Flipped Lifestyle or anything, I just go to the color palette and I don’t have to think about what things look like, I don’t have to worry about things matching. Everything in the site just flows together because you picked the colors and the color palette helps you to be like, you don’t have to sit there and stress over what you’re making your site look like. You can just say, “That one looks nice. I’ll choose it.” Pick it and be done kind of deal.
JOCELYN: Yeah. It just ties everything together. It makes it look really nice so that’s something that I would do from the very beginning.
SHANE: And one more thing about this choosing what your site is going to look like is go ahead when you write those posts and use images. Don’t just have a wall of texts for your people. Along with the color scheme of your site, make sure that you’re choosing some images that are related to your topic and use those in every post because you really want to have some images or pictures in everything. That way when people do start coming to your site, you’ll have images, you’ll have a nice color scheme that all matches, and you don’t have to worry about it matching because someone else figured that out for you and it will work good. So that was design-seeds.com.
JOCELYN: Along those lines, I really also recommend having a logo professionally designed from the very beginning. A lot of people leave this step out and I think that it’s so important for your branding to have…
SHANE: Or spend a month trying to design their own and it looks terrible at the end of the process anyway, which I did at first.
JOCELYN: Yeah, there are some things that are better left to the professionals and logo design is one of those things. Unless you have a background in graphic design, probably your logo skills are not what they need to be to make a professionally designed logo for your website. And so we recommend going to a website. You can hire a graphic designer if you want. There are a lot of people out there that do this but we have actually used one called logonerds.com in the past and you pay them.
SHANE: Their starting package is $27. I mean, it’s not very expensive at all to get a really good logo made. I mean, you can go look at coachxo.com and see my logo that I have. It’s like $27 and they did an awesome job on it. Super easy process and it’s really cool for really cheap.
JOCELYN: So you basically just give them an idea of what you want. You might want to tell them your color scheme and maybe even show them a couple of examples of logos that you like, other people’s, and I think they allow you like so many revisions depending on the package that you choose. You are going to have to spend a little bit of money on it but honestly, it’s so much better than sitting there for hours trying to make a logo if that’s something that you’re not good at, and that is something that I am not very good at.
SHANE: And also too like, your logo is important. It does represent your brand but no one is going to show up at your website and go, “That is a sweet logo. Where do I send this person money?” I mean, no one is going to actually do that. They are going to buy your content. People really freak out about this logo and making it perfect and really, it’s important but it’s not the most important thing. It should not consume a week of your time where you could have been writing other blog post that is going to draw content. So go to logonerds.com. It’s super cheap, super inexpensive and you can get a really professional logo made. Also don’t forget, you can always go back and change it later if your brand needs that to happen. So what you’re doing at the very beginning is not going to- if you don’t get your logo perfect, it’s not going to cripple your brand forever. So just get it done, get it on there, and let the professionals kind of handle that, all right?
The next thing that you need to do when you first start your blog or website is you’ve got to have a schedule. When are you going to release posts? After those first 10, you drop them all in at once, set a schedule that is realistic for you and your life. Don’t kill yourself. You’ve got kids, you’ve got jobs, you’ve got things going on when you’re starting out that are going to take a lot of time up and you don’t want to mess up your other responsibilities and you don’t want to overload yourself in your online project when you first start. So the goal is to keep moving forward.
Create a schedule, maybe once a week and just be consistent. That’s what the search engine is really like and that’s what your audience likes. They like a consistent schedule. They know something is going to come every week and they know that it’s always going to be there for them when they come back and that’s going to help to know that the site is active. The worst possible thing for any website is you show up and then nobody posts anything for three months and then it comes out again. You have to create a schedule and stick to it, so really pick a realistic schedule that you can stick to when you’re writing your blog post and doing things like that.
Just don’t forget the consistency is what the search engines really like and your audience likes. Set a simple schedule, stick to it, and make sure you’re constantly flowing. Even if it’s once a month, you know, you don’t have to stick to any- there’s no pro that can tell you “This is the exact perfect formula for releasing content.” That’s not true. The perfect formula for releasing content is when you can do it, especially when you’re working a full-time job and raising your family. So be consistent, get a schedule, have it ready to go ahead of time when you start your blog so you know that you can stick to it and you’ve got it planned out.
JOCELYN: And when you mess up, not if, we do this all the time, just jump right back in. Don’t make a big deal about it. Don’t say, “I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long.” Just jump back in and start creating content.
SHANE: Yeah, no one is going to get mad at you because you posted on Monday instead of Sunday, or anything like that. Or if you missed a week, don’t worry about that. You can always batch some content too, like you could pick one day a month where you write like four blog posts and schedule them out, and that way, you know that you’ll stick to that consistent once a week, twice a week, whatever you pick as schedule. So there’s nothing wrong with doing that. Write your content ahead of time. If you’ve got one day off and you just want to spend all Saturday writing your blog posts, do that, schedule them, keep that consistent flow of traffic and content coming no matter how far apart you choose for it to be.
All right, our last tip is something that we learned the very, very hard way and it’s something that you might not hear a lot coming from people who maybe give online business advice. We believe that when you first start your blog, website, online business, whatever it is, that you should really zero in and focus on one platform at a time. You know, if you’re going to start a blog, you need to write on your blog. Now, can you record a quick video to include in your blog post? Absolutely but you don’t have to have a podcast.
A podcast is not a business. It’s a channel of your business. You don’t have to have this big YouTube channel to get subscribers and do all these videos. YouTube is not a business. It’s a channel of your business and the core of your online business is always going to be your blog or website. That is what all these channels like YouTube and your podcast, and things like that drive people back to. So there’s no reason to try to do all of that at once. Focus on your blog, make sure it kind of gets its legs under it and you can go back to all those other things later.
Now, we totally believe in like the “be everywhere strategy” that guys like Pat Flynn talk about, but we believe in that because we have a large audience. You know, we’re two and a half years into this now and we need to be doing webinars. We need to be doing podcasts. We need to be writing blog posts, making YouTube videos, but you can’t be everywhere at the beginning. We can be everywhere and some of the bigger blogs and bigger sites, they can be everywhere because we can afford to hire VAs to do processing of the videos. It takes three or four hours to get a podcast ready for publishing, and I don’t have that time now and you don’t have that time in the beginning. You may only have a couple of hours a day or maybe an hour a day to work on your online business.
So you need to pick one platform to really focus on and that should be your blog because that’s going to kind of be your home base. You can’t be everywhere at the beginning. You will eventually get to the point hopefully where you can be everywhere because you can outsource some of the work but it takes time to get there. So just remember that you have to be somewhere before you can be everywhere, and that somewhere should always start out with your blog post.
JOCELYN: You do need to start out and be good at one thing before you start trying to do everything, I think is what we’re trying to say.
SHANE: All right guys. Those are our tips for starting out your blog, the things that you really need to focus on to make sure that that thing gets, you know, a good foundation and it is off to a solid start. So were going to move on to our “Can’t Miss Moment Section.” This is a section of the podcast that we like to talk about where we kind of bring up things that we got to do in the last week because of our online business and these are moments that we might have missed if we had never started an online business and we are able to make our living this way and quit our jobs.
I’m going to start off. My Can’t Miss Moment this week has to do with my little girl Anna. She has started swimming lessons. She is 3 years old so we thought, you know, we need to get her in the pool and get her swimming and make sure she knows how to do that. Her swimming lessons are always at about 2:30 each day and it’s just so awesome to be able to take her to that swimming people because I would have been at work or football practice or something like that before we got into our online business.
It was awesome the other day I got to take her by myself. Sometimes Jocelyn comes with me and we go together but sometimes we have to kind of divide and conquer because Isaac has something at the same time. And in the car, Anna was in her car seat, and we were driving home and she said, “Daddy, I’m glad you brought me to swimming lessons.” I just thought, “Oh, that brought it all home for me, this is where we need to be and all the sacrifice at the beginning and all the hard work has totally worth it, just to be able to take my little girl to swimming lessons at 2:30 in the afternoon.” That was a pretty awesome moment last week.
JOCELYN: And for me was that very same day, I picked Isaac up off the school bus that day and we went to the post office. I have several little errands that I run after we pick him up off the bus sometimes. And so we went in the post office together. He loves to open up the mailbox with the key and close it with the key. They think that’s really fun.
SHANE: The best thing ever.
JOCELYN: And so we went to the post office and I had gone to the bank to make a deposit. He said, “Mommy, can we go to the yellow restaurant?” That’s what they call the local Mexican restaurant because it is yellow.
SHANE: It is yellow.
JOCELYN: And he said, “Can we go to the yellow restaurant, just me and you?” And I said, “Well, sure we can.” So we went in and, you know, I just talked to him about his day and just had a good time, you know, just me and Isaac. So it was a good time and I just love to have those kind of moments that we probably wouldn’t have been able to have without starting online business.
SHANE: And that’s a big reason that we do this podcast is we want other people to be able to experience can’t miss moments, whether it’s, you know, a little less stress because you’ve made a little money online and you’ve got more in your budget or you’re able to actually make your full living on the internet and be able to have those can’t miss moments with our family too. So those are huge kind of motivating points that we always want to bring up to kind of give you some focus on why all the sacrifice and hard work are worth it as the beginning.
I want to remind you again, please go to iTunes and give us a review. We would be so thankful if you would do that. It really helps us in the rankings and it’s just so fun for us to read those on the air. And if you leave us a review, we may use yours in our iTunes review segment and make sure you send us an email or something with your name and if you have a blog or website, we will be happy to read that on the air like we did for Crystal today. Don’t forget to go over to flippedlifestyle.com/podcast9 and you can download and Bare Bones Blog Checklist so that you can make sure you are ticking off the most important things that you need to do when you set up your blog or website, and until next time. As always, we will catch you all on the flipside. Thanks for listening.
JOCELYN: See you.
Do you need step by step instruction? Do you need us to help you create your digital product and get your online business started? Well, you can do that. We actually now offer a course called the Flip Your Life e-course where we show you how to create your first digital product in 29 days or less.
All you have to do to get more information on this program is go to flippedlifestyle.com/flipyourlife, and that’s all one word, and you can check out everything that we do in that course to help you get your digital product created for sale online even if you don’t have a website. That’s flippedlifestyle.com/flipyourlife. You can check when our next session is starting at that link.