Ever considered a job in content creation? Dream of being the next big gaming news website? If so, look away, as this article is a no holds barred discussion on running a website that gets thousands of visitors. This isn’t going to be pretty, as I share the ups and downs of running a website on WordPress, the most popular blogging platform. Boy, did I ever make a lot of mistakes?
Setting up your own website is one part brilliant, another part mad. Sure, with services such as WordPress.com, Wix.com and so many more, you’d think it’d be super easy to own and run your site. With a dedicated CRM, free storage, a domain name and so much more, you get a lot of bang for no bucks.
It sounds a bit too good to be true and arguably it isn’t – What you get is exactly the above, with no issues. You get a locked down CRM, where you can pay to unlock customisable features, such as CSS editing or premium themes. You get a domain name, which has a suffix that represents the tool you have chosen, unless you pay to remove said suffix. You get free storage, which can last a while if careful! You can pay for more storage too!
All in all, if you want a website, just for the sake of having a website, then this is a great option that you should consider!
But what if you want to be seen? To be noticed by thousands of people? To have thousands of page clicks? This takes time, patience and effort. It can be done for free, but results are faster with targeted ads via social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter. There’s organic growth and paid growth, both of which are totally viable and equally important! But before we get into that, let’s start at the beginning – Creating and managing a website.
Whilst it’s true that there’s better ways to run your own site, a lot of people don’t have that kind of resource. Hiring someone to write a professional website, whilst always preferable, often just isn’t viable. You would either need a lot of money, or an incredibly talented (and generous) friend… or maybe you are that talented friend! Do you know your way around an API, or do you simply just want to get started?
For arguments sake, let’s say you don’t have the resource or capacity to make your very own website from scratch. You would likely go to Google and find WordPress.com, or Wix.com, or one of the many other services similar to these. You would see free and go ‘Kerching!’, you’ve stricken gold.
You come up with a super cool name: Jane Doe’s Gaming Show! Good stuff – And then you go through the setup of a website. Bit by bit, you put your website together. A new page to tell people how to contact you; a blog post to get started; A wonderful theme which will impress people. Great job, you’ve now done it and you have your very own website… but now what?
See, when I started blogging, I had a devious ulterior motive. I started to write so people knew about my cool new idea – I came up with a group, called GeekOut South-West. We would go to a pub and talk geek together. I set the time and place, I had advertised**, I had fully fleshed out the purpose of the group. I told people a month in advance about my really cool idea***.
I felt like a fool! A whole month of planning, of speaking to people online. Articles – Once or twice per week. I put a lot of effort in, only for my first event to have 1 other attendee – Because he was a friend. I totally failed****. But how? I advertised**, remember? That is when I decided to look at my readers and stats.
Turned out, my basic, non-optimised website was getting some attention, but only because people like to find new blogs. There were one or two UK based readers, but a lot of US readers. I realised exactly why my first meet failed – So I put my hand in my pocket with a new idea: Make the website work. I paid for CSS editing privileges, I bought a domain name and I got to work. People noticed, too! I started to tag my articles, making them easier to find. I started putting media all over my articles – my 5 hours a week evolved to 15 hours a week.
Jump forward to 2017, the time I spent on the website is more akin to 45 hours a week. The drastic increase is through discussions with many fellow bloggers, being part of groups to help others and through targeted paid and organic marketing. Paid marketing lets me get a much higher page view count and, sometimes, I end up getting some regular readers from it. Organic marketing is through speaking to really cool bloggers and then they talk to their friends, who talk to their friends – ad infinitum.
Through the marketing time I have put in, I am satisfied with what’s next for my site. We get thousands of visitors and our meetup group has over 1700 members (and still rising!) our website grows as our meetup does. Hey, we even now have two Meetup groups to our name. However, you don’t need a Meetup group to run a website!
You must sell yourself – Why are you unique? What’s so cool about your video game reviews? Is your personality going to cut it alone? If you believe you have the it factor, you may very well do! Don’t be afraid to tell your audience what separates you from so many others, because trust me, there are a lot of people who have tried and burnt-out way before you even started.
Branch out – Do things outside of your comfort zone. The only person you have to answer to is yourself.
Whatever your desire for writing about games is; be it to be the next Kotaku, or just to be you, make sure you’re doing it because you’re passionate about it. Don’t write if you don’t like writing – Why not do videos*****? Or Podcasts? Gifs?! Let the articles flow around the formats you enjoy and most importantly – Remember to advertise on Facebook and Twitter. Reddit is also a great option, so it’s well worth checking that out if you are targeting a group of people.
As a final note, do not be afraid to chuck a tenner on advertising, if you want to see how popular your subject of choice is. It seriously goes a long way, but you may not get retention that way. You can advertise on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or StumbleUpon (a great way to see the sort of click rate you get!)
To grow and to expand on an audience, you’re going to need time, posts for the platforms and, more importantly, to have a strong understanding on networking with others. Recently, Later Levels did an article on that exact subject, which is both comical and true. Now it’s time for you to share your really cool website below – What do you write, record, edit or otherwise? Share some love in the comments below, or over on The Mental Attic’s Facebook or Twitter pages. Furthermore, wanna just chat to me? I’m flattered! Here’s my Facebook page, Twitter (and non-GeekOut Twitter) and, naturally, my website.
** I thought I had advertised by making my own WordPress website, but actually I was just writing to a tiny audience.
*** Guys, my meetup IS cool, but it evolved into a really cool idea over time.
**** Dramatisation for effect. We still had a good time; playing games and drinking beer!