We all work or blog in industries that require a unique perspective in order to succeed. We don’t produce commodity products. Instead, we work with clients who want a fresh and informed opinion or idea.
Due to the speed of information movement in today’s society and the low barriers to entry in many industries, competition is increasing at exponential rates. If you create a product, that product will be copied. If you have a wonderful blog that enjoys success, it will inspire others to blog and connect in that circle. If you are a graphic designer, individuals with access to the same tools and technology will use your ideas. What are you putting out there to make sure people choose you?
What makes you You?
There’s an economic principle called competitive advantage, which says that firms that succeed have some form of advantage over their competition—an ability to add more value, therefore bringing in and retaining more customers (or more readers, if you are blogging). One of the keys to success in business is to find your competitive advantage early and exploit it.
What is your competitive advantage?
You may have a faster product assembly or access to better materials. Or perhaps it’s more intangible than that – relationships that you have cultivated or a creative spin on an idea that you’re able to take to market with great speed.
What is your competitive advantage? How are you exploiting it for your business? Can it be replicated?
After your domain name has been registered and you’ve chosen a hosting provider, the first thing that you will want to do is create email addresses. A few addresses you may want to add:
You can choose to manage these email accounts through your hosting company’s email interface or manage the account through your personal internet email address or with Outlook. I manage my blog email addresses through my personal Gmail account. If you would like to do the same, visit Settings ? Accounts and Import in Gmail. Choose ‘Send mail from another address’ and follow the prompts.
Your hosting provider should also give you instructions for setting up your first FTP user (if one was not already set up for you).
What is FTP?
FTP, or file transfer protocol, is the way that you upload and download files from your server. Your hosting provider will give you access to a web FTP program that is good in a pinch, but to get the full power of FTP I recommend downloading one of the several free FTP programs available. I personally use Core FTP, which you can download for free here. In essence, what this program allows you to do is to transfer files back and forth from your computer to your server with one click.
To log in to your FTP program you will need the following information:
- Host Name – a host name can be either your server name, your website address, or your IP address. For ease, let’s use your website address. So, my host name would be editandpost.com
- Username – this is specified either by your hosting company or by you within your hosting company’s interface.
- Password – also specified by you or your hosting company during setup.
The port for log in is typically 21 (verify with your hosting provider). Your connection type is FTP.
Once you’ve logged in to your FTP program you should see a screen that looks a bit like this:
Now you’re ready to rock and roll with FTP, you have email, and your server is a blank slate. Next in this series, we’re ready to install WordPress!
Let’s face it, a lot of us are fans of horrible reality TV, including The Bachelor. But we if dive in a little closer, we can see that we can actually learn something from the “journey”…
Photo: © ABC
Lesson 1: Not everyone is your soul mate
The Bachelor has 25 amazing women to choose from. Of course, his connection will be stronger with some than with others.
So how does this translate?
- Not every client is your client.
- Not every potential sponsor is right for you.
- Not every guest blogger fits your aesthetic.
- Not every blog/website/magazine/etc is a good fit for your advertising needs.
It took me a long time to come to terms with this. It’s hard to feel comfortable with saying no! But in the long run, it’s in your best interest to know your business or your blog well enough to make an informed decision about who you should work with and where best to spend your time and money.
Lesson 2: The popular choice isn’t always the right choice
Remember Bachelor Jake? Polls showed that most viewers wanted him to choose Tenley, but he followed his heart instead and proposed to Vienna.
There will inevitably be a time where you have to choose a path for your business. Perhaps it’s a price increase, a geographic move, or a new product you want to introduce. Your decisions won’t always be popular among the masses, and that’s OK. If you have evaluated and determined your course of action – stick to your gut and believe in yourself, because what’s right in everyone else’s eyes isn’t always the right choice for you.
Lesson 3: Sometimes you just have to let go
Megan left Chris’s season of The Bachelor when she knew the “spark” wasn’t there.
One of the most difficult problems faced in business is when to let go – of an idea, of an employee, of a product line, etc. There is no right answer. It’s of course different in each situation, but the key is learning to recognize when it’s time to cut the cord, and when you make the decision, confront the problem directly, make an action plan, and follow through.
Lesson 4: First impressions are important
On episode 1 of Ben’s season of The Bachelor, the all-important initial first-impression rose went to Lindzi, who was also one of the final two ladies.
We all know the old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. It’s cliche, but it’s true. Most first impressions are now made online, when someone is researching service providers or reading past reviews of products. Potential customers or clients may find your Twitter feed, personal blog, Facebook page, and of course your website.
- How do you present yourself online?
- How does your website/blog reflect on your business?
- Is the branding consistent with your intended message?
- Is what they see representative of what they get?
Lesson 5: It’s OK to admit you were wrong
Even if you aren’t a fan of The Bachelor, you may remember the absolutely wild After the Final Rose where Jason broke up with the winner, Melissa, only to ask Molly to date him again. Jason and Molly have now been married for 5 years and have a daughter, while Melissa married a former boyfriend and has two children.
It’s inevitable that we will all make bad decisions. Handling success is easy, but handling failure and accepting our bad outcomes is so much more important, in life and in business. It’s OK to make bad calls, to admit you were wrong, and to try, try again.
Of course, there are many other life lessons we can learn from The Bachelor, most of which are quite obvious to non-reality-TV contestants! What have you learned from watching The Bachelor?
Now that you’ve taken the preliminary steps of designing your blog and purchased your domain name(s), it’s time to select a hosting solution. If you have a website for your business already, you likely already have a web hosting provider and either space on a server or your own server. If you are setting things up for the first time, you will contract with your chosen web hosting provider who will allot you website space on a server and set you up with a FTP (file transfer protocol – this is the way you upload and download files from your server) account.
Photo: © F.Schmidt / Shutterstock
What are the basics of hosting and which type is right for me?
Basics: A server is essentially a large computer that is held in a hosting provider’s data center. Your hosting plan determines how much of the server your account “owns”. There are three main types of hosting services: shared server, virtual private server, and private server.
Shared Server: The most economical option. Your website is hosted on a server along with multiple other websites. The hosting provider that you choose will set limits for your account so that you do not overload the server and cause the rest of your server’s websites to go down. This option is great for those of you just getting started, as the memory and bandwidth that you will be provided is likely sufficient for your needs. However, if you expect several thousand visitors per day (at peak times), you may experience slowness with shared server hosting and your web host even has the ability to take your site down to steady the server.
Best for: Just getting started; Non-complex sites; Static websites (non-blogs); Sites without a rush of traffic at peak times
Virtual Private Server: Picture a server as a packing box for glassware. You get the space for one glass and share the box with multiple other glasses.
The server is partitioned off so that you have full control over only your piece. No other website can touch your area of the server, and vice versa. Advantage: your own place to play, guaranteed server resources up to your partition’s cap. Disadvantage: you can’t take advantage of the resources that the other partitions aren’t using like you can with the shared server.
Best for: I personally don’t recommend VPS hosting. I tried it for a while and was completely unimpressed. In for a penny in for a pound, I say, and if I’m spending money and getting dedicated resources, I’d rather have…
Private (Dedicated) Server: Your very own home for your website. With dedicated hosting, you will have full control over your entire server. There are differences between private server plans, so you should do your homework and speak with potential hosting companies to see where your website fits in with their offerings. Be sure to know:
- Exactly what type of server you will receive and how much horsepower it has
- The level of support you receive from the hosting provider
- What you will be charged for (bandwidth, number of databases, disc usage, FTP accounts, etc)
Best for: High-traffic websites, those who want lots of control over their site and the resources it consumes.
Which hosting company is right for me?
As I’ve previously mentioned, each of my domains are registered with DreamHost, but my hosting is with LiquidWeb. I have a dedicated server. LiquidWeb is the third hosting provider that I’ve used, and I could not be more pleased with their service. Real, live people pick up the phone, ya’ll! They are incredibly responsive, my move over from my previous hosting provider was painless, and I experience very few issues. No hosting company is perfect, but LiquidWeb was recommended to me by a trusted friend, and I have personally recommended LiquidWeb to other bloggers who have also experienced the same stellar service.
I also know bloggers who use and enjoy Bluehost, though I have no experience with them.
Managed hosting providers
There are several commonly-used managed hosting providers, such as WP Engine and Synthesis. Managed hosting providers typically offer standard pricing plans, with certain levels falling under either shared, VPS, or dedicated server hosting. The benefit of a managed hosting provider is that their servers and architecture are optimized for WordPress. The downside is that some plugins and other functionality are disabled by default. Many plans also place limits on bandwidth transfer, storage space, and the number of WordPress installations you can run on your account. WP Beginner has a great article on managed WordPress hosting, which I highly recommend that you read if you’re thinking of going this route.
For experienced website owners: what type of hosting do you use and what hosting companies do you recommend? Have you had good experiences with Virtual Private Servers? If you have a high traffic site, when did you switch to a dedicated server, or, have you been able to stick with shared hosting and save money?
Coming up in this series: Setting Up Your Server, Installing WordPress
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Whether you have a blog or a website, you definitely want to tell Google that it’s yours! How do you do that? Google Webmaster Tools.
Now that you know how to FTP to your site, it will take you about five minutes to claim your site with Google Webmaster Tools. The benefits are simple but helpful. You can easily see:
- The top Google searches that led people to you
- A complete list of external links
- All broken links that Google finds as it crawls
- The keywords that Google views as significant
In addition, Google will notify you on the Webmaster Tools dashboard of any errors that they have found while they were attempting to access your site.
To claim your site:
- Visit Google Webmaster Tools and sign in or register with your Google account.
- Click “Add a Site”
- Input your website and hit continue, you will be taken to the “Verify Ownership” screen.
- Download the provided HTML verification file.
- Log into your server via FTP (I use CoreFTP).
- Navigate your left window to where your file is downloaded, and your right window to the root of your domain. Select the file on the left, and click the right arrow to copy it to your server.
Voila! Hit the “Verify” button and your domain is now “yours” in Google’s eyes. In a few days you should be able to log in and see all of the wonderful information above! Easy peasy, right?