Ahhhh, websites and blogs can drive you bananas. I started my own health and wellness website a few years back now, and to say I’ve learnt a lot would be an understatement. Even though I’ve worked in marketing and with websites on a daily basis for the last 15 years, there is something quite different about immersing yourself in the online realm, and doing everything yourself.
This post is for any of you out there who have started or are looking to start a wellness website, so that you can learn from me and the mistakes I made when I started my wellness website. There are a few affiliate links in here, which mean that at no extra cost to you, I might earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase, but those affiliate links are only to products I’ve bought myself, used, loved and recommend.
1. TRYING TO GET EVERYTHING FOR FREE
Oh the hours I’ve spent trying to get free themes, and free plugins and free fonts etc or the cheapest version of them. That’s time that I could have spent working on making my blog better, but instead I just wasted hours downloading free stuff and then deciding later down the track that I didn’t like it.
These days I just pay for things with the mindset that as far as hobbies go, this one is pretty darn cheap. A gym membership probably costs about $1,000 a year. So, $50 here and there isn’t going to break the bank. It’s all about mindset.
Don’t get me wrong. I do use a lot of free plugins, but I know when to pay for stuff and when not to.
For hosting and my website name I use Digital Pacific*. They’re an Australian company and they have green credentials which suits the ethos of my blog, but moreso, they’ve always been available (straight away) when I’ve picked up the phone and needed them… like twice when I accidentally deleted every single image on the blog. It was music to my ears when they said that they back up my website four times a day and could just restore one of the old versions and it has been a piece of cake to set up my site with them.
In fact, I almost want to dedicate this post to Digital Pacific*, because I truly have only good things to say about them. I’m a little bit of a tech geek, but I’m also learning as I go, so I screw up (frequently it seems lately!) and I said to the support guy on the phone the other day that whenever I call them, it’s always good news. I may have also managed to delete half my email inbox this week and lost a tonne of emails for an important charity project coming up (SO exciting – more news soon) and thought I’d have to contact all these people to get them to resend things, with my tail between my legs, but the guy on the phone was like ‘no problem, we can get those back’. Absolute phew!
I could have signed up for some super cheap hosting through the US, but I just know I wouldn’t receive the same level of support, and I need good support. You pay for what you get.
My website is a wordpress website (wordpress.org, not wordpress.com). Another mistake I made when I started out was using a Joomla website (too hard to use!), and I’ve also worked with Drupal before (better for large companies), but WordPress is hands down the easiest to use.
I have paid for a few themes in my time – all great, but I’ve enjoyed experimenting (one of the reasons I set up my blog to start was to learn a bit about how it all works, but for you guys, you probably just want to pick one and stick with it). The one theme I’d highly recommend and used on my site for about 2 years was Foodie Pro by Shay Bocks*. It’s an awesome theme for food and wellness blogs and Shay provides awesome tutorials and great customer service.
I’ve now settled (and am loving) my theme by Restored 316 Designs for my health and wellness blog, and for this website, I use another theme called Foundry by Tommy Rhodus (although I do not use the visual page builder that accompanies it).
Here are a list of most of the plugins I have on Modern Day Missus and whether or not I have the paid version:
- Google XML Sitemaps (helps Google index your site)
- Hypercache (makes your site load faster)
- Askimet (helps stop the spam comments. I also have recently stopped comments on posts older than 30 days, regrettably, but it has made a huge difference in the number of spam comments I receive)
- Easy Recipe Plus (helps your recipes get noticed by Google and display in the search engines with a pic, and also helps readers print your recipes – I have the paid version).
- Pinterest Pin it Button (to help people pin your recipes)
- Regenerate Thumbnails (this goes through and regenerates your images and image sizes when you swap themes etc)
- Related Posts by Zemanta (this displays the related posts at the bottom of your blog posts
- Social Warfare (this displays the social media sharing links on the side/bottom of posts)
- Wordfence (helps stop the site from being hacked. You would be shocked at how many people try to get inside this website)
- Yoast SEO (SEO stands for search engine optimisation, which means helping your website get noticed by Google/Yahoo etc – it’s pretty much an essential)
2. NOT CARING ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY
I have always cared about my food photography, but just not enough. At first I’d think ‘well, I’m eating it for dinner’ so I’ll make it look as good as I can at this time. Now though, if I don’t have natural light, or the time to properly photography it, then it doesn’t get posted. I really focus on quality over quantity. When I look at my earlier posts I cringe. Even some posts from a year ago. I wrote a post a few years back on food photography which is here. I’d also recommend the book, Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots*.
3. NOT CHOOSING WHO MY AUDIENCE IS
Modern Day Missus is primarily about helping women with infertility, particularly helping them SURVIVE INFERTILITY – I feel really passionate about this cause now, and perhaps that’s the reason I flitted between topics before.
4. NOT BEING CONSISTENT
The power of consistency is underrated. It isn’t about posting 3 x per week, but being consistent. Have you ever heard of the Oprah effect? People used to tune in because it was played at the same time, every day. It’s the same with the nightly news – what people can predict and what happens on a regular schedule, allows them to plan and await what you will produce, and creates a habit.
For Modern Day Missus, I release a podcast once a month (as this site is my core offering). Here, I reach out to my newsletter every Wednesday – super consistent.
5. NOT REACHING OUT TO OTHERS
Several years back, blogging was about posting good stuff and people would come. Not anymore. You have to feature on other blogs and provide value to others. You can spend hours trying to get your posts seen on Facebook, but it will just drive you mad because Facebook doesn’t show your posts to the people who like your page. The people who will see your posts are people who search on Google (but you need to have something like Yoast set up so you can do it properly), people who are searching the big blogs, or the people on your email list).
If you’d like more advice and tips on how to grow your traffic and build momentum for your business, I can provide you with tailor made strategies and advice – check out my services for more information or join my email list for freebie advice on a weekly basis.