I have no regrets about my overall journey online because I believe any mistakes I’ve made have taught me great lessons. However I want to discuss some things I would do differently if I had the opportunity to start over again.
Using Free Web Hosts
I told my “free web hosting story” in a recent YouTube video. In a nutshell, I used free hosting some 11 years ago and the company decided to start charging. Anyone who did not want to pay their ridiculous monthly fees lost their site.
Fortunately it wasn’t a huge loss for me because I had already moved to paid hosting for my main site and those free sites were just sitting out there collecting Internet dust. But it taught me a huge lesson about the price of free… especially when it comes to web hosting.
Of course, there are many more reasons not to use a free host, especially if you are starting a business. However, my story is quite common when it comes to free web hosting space. Many of the companies simply cannot afford to remain free due to their own server costs.
Learn CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
When I was still at my 9 to 5 job some years ago, a coworker kept telling me about all the wonderful benefits of CSS. I remember it going in one ear and out the other. After all, I was just getting the hang of HTML and didn’t need anything else confusing me at the moment.
Now that I understand what CSS can do and I see how much time it has saved me, I wish I would have learned it much sooner. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to change your entire design in minutes by updating one file.
I recently completed a mini facelift of 2 Create a Website and it took me all of 15 minutes to update all 140+ pages. Heck, it took me longer to decide on the colors I wanted to use than it did to actually update the entire site.
Being familiar with CSS will also help you greatly if you have a blog. Blog templates are typically designed using CSS so having this knowledge will be a great benefit for you. This is especially true for Blogger users. There aren’t as many templates available for Blogger as there are WordPress so I find a lot of Blogger blogs with the same design.
The best way to learn CSS is to visit a site that teaches the basics like W3Schools or HTMLDog.com. Knowing the fundamentals will help with syntax and will also help you troubleshoot should you run into problems.
You can also learn the lazy way (as some call it) and download a template that already has a stylesheet attached and study the stylesheet to see how the coding actually affects the page. FreeCSSTemplates.org is one of my favorite free template sites.
This is the way I learned, but I frequently find myself going to sites like W3Schools if I need to troubleshoot something. Let’s face it. If you want to get the most out of CSS, you really should learn the fundamentals.
The Internet Marketing/How to Make Money Niche
I always tell people, “If you are not making money yourself, you should never create a site on how to make money or market online.” Not to mention the “how-to-make-money” niche is so heavily saturated.
This advice often confuses people because 2 Create a Website focuses on Internet marketing and making money, yet it is successful. But what a lot of people don’t know is I had a site before that which primarily focused on Internet Marketing and it failed.
The problem was I was not making much money at the time so my site was filled with paraphrased, common facts that you could find anywhere. My content was not fresh. Not to mention, I didn’t do any research and had no idea how competitive the niche was.
When you first start out trying to make money, it’s very tempting to build a site about how to make money and talk about what you’ve learned thus far. However, if you are not making much it’s very hard to build credibility and it’s equally as hard to put out fresh content because you cannot rely on your own experiences.
I believe 2 Create a Website has been able to compete in this saturated niche because I can now use my own success stories and personal experiences to inspire my content and people understand that I am actually walking the walk and not just talking the talk.
I Didn’t Own Most Products I Recommended
I either own or have owned/used most of the products/services I recommend on my sites, but I haven’t always done so. I remember when Site Build It! first launched 9 years ago, I blasted ads and articles all over my site because I was so excited about the $75 residual affiliate commission.
As my site’s traffic grew, I continued to get more and more questions about the product and most of them I couldn’t answer because I didn’t own it. I started to feel a bit uncomfortable because I was raving about the product as if I really owned it.
If you want people to respect you and your recommendations, you really have to be familiar with what you’re promoting. Not only will you feel more genuine, but you’ll find it will boost your affiliate commissions. Anyone can say a product is “great”, but a solid review that contains your own personal experience with the product will get you more mileage.
Also, don’t be afraid to talk about the negative points of a product. It actually adds to your credibility and shows you’re not afraid of giving people all the facts. Will it turn away a few potential customers? Maybe, but the credibility you’ll gain will improve your site’s overall earnings in the long-run. I cannot say enough about the importance of credibility.
When I first started out, I tried to maintain multiple websites when I hadn’t found success with any of them. The problem with starting out with too many sites is that your energy is spread too thin and you cannot focus.
If you’re doing something wrong that is preventing you from succeeding with one site, you’re probably making that same mistake on the others. So if you haven’t figured out how to succeed with one site, no point in starting others until you discover how to build traffic and make money.
Yes, I have multiple sites now, but I have discovered what works for me so I use that same formula for my additional sites. And if the sites are related, I use the existing site to promote the other (i.e. 2PlanAWebSite.com and 2CreateAWebSite.com).
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Focus on one website or blog at a time if you’re just getting started.
What About You?
What have you learned since you started marketing online? I’d love to know what you would do differently if you had the chance to begin again. C’mon… don’t be shy.