Building my first website – 10 things I wish I had known before I started

I have learnt a lot more than 10 things since building my first website. But these particular 10 things would have saved me many headaches, much time and a lot of money had I known them from day one.

And to be honest the list could easily have been 30 things I wish I knew back then. But for brevity and clarity I have distilled it down to the 10 things I feel are most useful for you to know now, before you get started.

1. You have to start to succeed. Just do it.

You will never know everything. And you will never have all the answers. 

At some point you just have to take the plunge. 

Not sure where to start? Just follow the simple steps in my guide “Build A Website With WordPress The Right Way”.

You will not have to pay anything for the guide and it will get you started the right way, right now.

And do avoid getting caught up searching for the perfect formula for guaranteed success.

The Internet is a constantly evolving environment  and what works today may not be best practice tomorrow. 

A couple of years ago everyone loved Pinterest. Now everyone complains about how algorithm changes have made pinterest difficult to work with. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the way to go.

Not to mention building backlinks via guest posts and Haro. And the list goes on.

If you ask me, you should do all of the above. Because you can never know what will work for you tomorrow. 

But most importantly. Do not get overwhelmed. It is better to do a little than nothing. You will soon enough see what works for you and your niche. And then you can dedicate more time to the activities that bring you visitors.

But do not stop with the other forms of promotion. You never know what will work for you tomorrow and it all fits together.

Let’s say SEO starts working for you and you get visitors from the search engines. Great. You focus all your attention on optimizing your articles. But when you stop with HARO, guest posts and Pinterest you get less new backlinks and you may hurt your rankings.

2. Use WordPress

WordPress is hands down the best and most user friendly Content Management System (CMS) out there. And it is free.

There is a little bit of a learning curve but with some determination you will get there. And there are tons of free guides available. 

And do not use page builders like Divi or Elementor just because it is easy to build an impressive design from day 1. Your website will be slow.

Instead use a fast loading theme and spend some time getting to know how to customize the look and feel of your website. Or start with one of the many free templates that are included and make it yours. 

In my opinion people focus too much time on design and logos when they first start. 

Focus on content. 

Think MVP – Minimum Viable Product. Get the website up and running and then spend time on improving the design.

3. Use a good hosting company from day 1

Your hosting company needs to be fast and reliable for your website to be successful. But hosting is of course also a money thing. 

If you can afford it I would go for a great and fast hosting company from day 1. My favorite is WPX. Outstanding service and support.

But you can of course save money by choosing a cheaper hosting company when you first start out. Here Bluehost seems to be the most popular choice with extremely attractive offers and good online support.

I have hosted websites with Bluehost and I have never had any problems. 

4. Define your niche and stay relevant

There are many ways to define a niche. My favorite is to look at what you are interested in and then investigate how competitive the niches are before you decide.

You will for example find that it is very difficult to compete with a new website about credit cards or web hosting. 

And equally important, when you have found your niche, always stay relevant. 

Do not start to write about your upcoming holiday on a website about camping.

Stay on topic for your audience and the search engines. 

5. Focus on keywords where you can compete

Proper keyword research will be an important part of your success. 

It makes no sense to rank number 1 for keywords that no one is searching for. 

It is also a waste of time to try to compete with authority websites for the most popular or obvious keywords.

You need to strike a balance between search volume and level of competition.

There are many free as well as pay alternatives to do keywords research. Always write with intent and do the best research you can given the tools at your disposal.

6. Focus on useful content – worry about money later

Focus on useful content and visitors first. Worry about how you will make money later.

You will of course have to do proper keyword research. Choose keywords with search volume where you can compete and you will be able to monetize at a later date. 

There is no need to start looking for affiliate programs or partners before you have visitors to your website. 

7. Think twice before buying another course or program

When I first got started I bought a course produced by a well-known guru. And then I bought another course. And I have learnt a couple of things.

When I talk about gurus I refer to people and companies selling their version of how to achieve success with an online business. I am not referring to myself as I have no intention to develop and sell my own courses. My tutorials and guides are free. 

  1. The information you find in the courses is almost always available for free on the Internet. But it will be all over the place rather than a structured path to follow.
  2. It all boils down to producing great content that solves problems for people. The secret sauce may vary but that part is a constant.
  3. Courses will explain what worked for the author at the time they started. This may or may not mean that it will work for you today.
  4. You will most likely learn a few valuable new things from each and every course you purchase. You have to decide if it is worth it.

I don’t think buying a course about how to succeed online is a bad idea. But you should be aware that there is no instant success to be had. 

And always investigate if the formula they advocate is universally applicable across all niches. 

It is as simple as asking if they have had successful students starting their first new website in your niche. Send off an email to the person selling the course and find out.

8. There is not much passive about passive income

We all love the idea of passive income. 

But from my experience, passive income requires constant tweaking, development and updating.

People will talk about passive income referring to an article they wrote two years ago and that is still making them money today without any additional work.

But that does not mean that you do not work on developing and promoting your website. 

And it is of course this work that helps the article you wrote two years ago to have success today.

For me that is not passive.

In my book, that is still great – but not passive income. 

So be prepared to put the work in and it will definitely be possible to make money.

9. Develop a publishing plan with at least 30 articles from day 1

Proper keyword research and epic content plays an important role in the success of your website.

Your first step should be to write a publishing plan including a minimum of 30 articles from well researched keywords.

If you find it difficult to find keywords and articles you need to revisit your niche selection.

Without a publishing plan it is easy to fall in the trap of writing articles that focus on keywords that are too generic, broad and competitive.

And face it, if you cannot find 30 articles to write today why would it be easier three months from now?

Developing a publishing plan will help you confirm your choice of niche and give you direction in your writing. 

10. Be patient and become the expert

Last but no least, do not expect instant success. You need to be patient and prepared to wait at least 6 months for organic visitors to your website.

You can get instant success with Pinterest and social media marketing but it is far from guaranteed.

Be prepared to stay the course and know that you have to be patient to reach success.

The fact that it is difficult and takes time will weed out many of your would-be competitors that do not have your staying power.

Keep learning and developing your knowledge and become an expert in your niche. 

Write epic and helpful content that is relevant and always remember that you need to stay in the race to win.

Meet the author: Serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years working experience from web development, Wordpress and the travel industry. Mattias is a big fan of Open Source and will show you how to build and manage a website using Wordpress and a bit of optional PHP for the true enthusiast. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs and also shares ideas on how to monetize a website.