Category Archives: Building A Blog

Building A Blog: Is It Time For Paid Hosting? Pt. 2

Last week, I started this discussion by asking the question of when is it time for paid hosting and whether I am ready to make the switch. 

Today, I ask how moving my blog to a paid host might improve the business of my site, what I would have to do to move to a paid host, and whether now is the time to make the switch.

What will it mean to switch over to paid hosting?

A switch to paid hosting means instant autonomy.  One of the downsides to free-hosted web applications such as WordPress.com and Blogger is that the creator of the website – you – is not the owner of the website.  When you create a website with a free host such as WordPress.com or Blogger, you are subject to the terms and conditions of those providers. 

In addition, you do not own your domain. Owning a dedicated domain name for your site promotes credibility especially in business.  A domain name from subdomain providers such as WordPress.com and Blogger free-hosted sites look something like this: www.yourblogname.wordpress.com or www.yourblgname.blogspot.com, where your blog name is inextricably intertwined with the subdomain host’s name.  If you own a business, it is a lot more credible have a dedicated domain containing only the name of your business or related keywords.   

Subdomain accounts also dictate how much bandwidth your site can support.  Thus, if your site is attracting increasing amounts of traffic, the subdomain provider could choose to shut down the site once your bandwidth maximum is reached. 

Moving your website from a subsdomain to a paid host gives you autonomy, the ability to have a dedicated domain, and increased bandwidth capacity that you choose. 

What will I have to do to make the switch?

1. Choose a Host and Publishing Platform

iNetPublication lists its editor’s picks for the top three web hosting services as (1) midPhase; (2) Easy CGI; and (3) Start Logic.  Each of these services offer hosting for under $8.00 a month for 2-3 GB of storage space.  I haven’t yet gone as far as researching paid hosting services, but when I do, I will be sure to check up on these sites.  They seem to provide valuable services for the price. 

I think that I will stay with the WordPress’ blog publishing platform.  I am accustomed to WordPress’ platform through their free-hosted service.  In addition, WordPress’ platform is reputed to be very user-friendly and simple to use. 

2. Purchase a Domain Name

When you move a blog to a paid host, you will want to have a domain name, which will be the address for your site. 

A few months ago, I purchased the domain ‘aspiretograce.com.’  So, once I switch over to a paid host, I will be able to point my blog to my chosen host’s server at the address www.aspiretograce.com.  As of now, I am forwarding www.aspiretograce.com to my subdomain such that when you type that domain into your browser, it directs you to www.aspiretograce.wordpress.com.  Once I move to a paid host, I will need to redirect my aspiretograce.com to the paid host’s server. 

One of the downsides to pointing my domain name to the subdomain now is my inability to track referrals.  If someone follows a link directly to my subdomain, WordPress will tell me who referred the link.  So, in other words, I will be able to tell from which site the visitor is coming, whether it is from Twitter, Facebook, or another blog or website.  But, if the link is www.aspiretograce.com, the referral information will originate only from www.aspiretograce.com.  Thus, I am not able to tell where a visitor is coming from if they have clicked on the aspiretograce.com link.  Having accurate referral information is important because if you can tell where your traffic is coming from, it will help you target your marketing.

3.  Find a Good Step-by-Step Guide to Moving to a Paid Host

Gemma Baltazar of The Lady Programmer (on JaypeeOnline) provides pretty comprehensive step-by-step instructions on moving a blog from Blogger to a new host using the WordPress.org blog publishing platform.

Some of her suggestions include:

  • Backing up your existing blog
  • Choosing a publishing platform and upgrading to the latest version
  • Purchasing domain name 
  • Choosing a theme
  •  Announcing the move to your readers 

What Have I decided to do?

As you may already know, I will be moving in about two months.  If you’ve been keeping up with other post topics on Aspire to Grace, then you know that I am in the process of converting our primary residence to a rental property, preparing for the transition to telecommuting, and looking for a place in Mississippi.  So, I will be pretty busy for at least the next month.

Do I have time to move Aspire to Grace to a paid host now?   The short answer is ‘no.’

One of the reasons for writing this post was so that I could go through the motions of determining what value and effort would go into moving over to a paid host.  I have learned a lot about this topic and have answered many of my own questions.  

As excited as I am about making the move, however, I have decided to wait.  Since purchasing a paid hosting service would mean a sharp increase in responsibility for maintaining my site, I think it wise to wait until I have more time to take full advantage the service.  Once I make the move, it will be time to take Aspire to Grace to the next level in terms of design and functionality.  I simply do not have the time right now to jump all the way in to get my money’s worth. 

Once I have moved to Mississippi, I will reopen this topic for consideration.  I anticipate being ready at that time since I will have a lot more time on my hands during the month before my husband returns from Kuwait.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried paid hosting?

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications.  I am currently hosting a series of posts called “Building a Blog.”  This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website.  I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Lite Fare: Glimpse and Modified Schedule for Aspire to Grace

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Make Money Monday:  TBD

Techy Tuesday: Building a Blog Series: Is it Time for Paid Hosting, pt. 2: I will continue my discussion of whether now is the time for me to switch over to paid hosting. 

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: TBD

Tough Life Thursday: Discontinued Until Further Notice

MODIFIED SCHEDULE FOR ASPIRE TO GRACE

You may already know that I will be moving to Mississippi in July.  I can feel the crunch on time and have many things to do to get ready for the move. Those things include preparing our house for the rental market and finding a home in Mississippi.  In the meantime, I will continue working full time and am party- planning for at least one and maybe two parties at my house.  I am also continuing to provide updates to Aspire to Grace.  I am going stir crazy right now as you can imagine. 

In the interest of sparing additional time to accommodate my schedule, I have decided to discontinue Tough Life Thursdays until further notice.  This will give me an extra day to concentrate on my other obligations.  After looking at my stats and considering the subject matter for Thursdays, which is pretty random at the moment, I realized that removing this day will have the least impact on Aspire to Grace. 

So, until further notice, you will still find my regular updates for Make Money Mondays, Techy Tuesdays, Wedded Bliss Wednesdays and Lite Fare Fridays. But, on Thursdays, you will not see an update.  On Thursdays, you will continue to see the post from Wednesday.  On Friday, you will get the usual Glimpse and Roundups.

Please bear with me for these next couple of months.  When I emerge from this schedule, hopefully sometime in July, I plan to rethink the entire schedule and may make additional modifications.  But, at any rate, I hope, at that time, to get back to posting everyday. 

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Building A Blog: Is It Time For Paid Hosting? Pt. 1

I have been blogging now for a little more than three months.  My goal with Aspire to Grace has always been to get to a point where I could earn passive income directly or indirectly from this site. 

I still have a ways to go building and marketing this website and receiving enough traffic to enable me to earn an income.  As part of this process, I have been thinking more and more about moving over to a hosting service for which I would pay.  I had always intended to do this down the line and even possibly before traffic levels get high enough to warrant such a move. 

My question today is whether now is the time. 

When I sat down to write this post, I realized that I had quite a bit more to say about this topic than I thought at first glance.  I also realized that I am short on time to get this post published.  So, I will break this post into two parts and post the second part next week.  But, you will have to wait until next week to find out whether I have decided to move over to paid hosting at this time. 

When is it time to switch from free to paid hosting?

In a previous post, I discuss some of the benefits of owning a domain name, especially for a business.  Owning your own domain name and coupling it with a paid hosting account, gives you complete control and discretion when it comes to the content and applications on your site. 

Sometimes free hosted, subdomain sites such as WordPress.com and Blogger have restrictions.  For example, some free services won’t allow you to post ads on your page.  Therefore the alternative income side to blogging is severely limited.

The benefits of paid hosting include web support to help you when you are having a problem with your site and the ability to increase bandwidth to accommodate a growing website. 

Great bursts of traffic can take down a subdomain site.  With a paid host site, you have a lot more control over the function of your site.  With the right design, paid hosted sites can look and feel like a higher quality site, which will be good for your business. 

Am I there yet?

I have not yet reached the traffic levels that would compel me to move to a paid host service.  However, traffic levels would not be my only reason for making the switch. 

With a paid host service, I will be forced to learn a lot more and a lot faster.  I will also be able to improve the look and design of this website.  Part of the process of building this website and increasing traffic will include improving the look and feel of Aspire to Grace.

I notice the better quality of sites like The Smart Passive Income Blog and Trish Jones.  These sites include graphics that are a bit more enhancing and compelling.  The visual quality of the sites, in my opinion, is more appealing. 

On this site, I am currently hosted by WordPress.com’s free host service.  I have limited capabilities to manipulate the appearance and functionality on this site as far as improving visual quality and efficiency.  I realize that I may not have tapped into the full potential of WordPress.com’s applications, but I am aware that there are limitations to these types of sites even though I may not be equipped to specify all such limitations here.  That’s why I will need to do a little more pecking at the surface to really figure out whether this is the right move at this time.  Who knows, with a little more research, I may discover additional improvements to make to this site before making the switch to paid hosting.

If I consider the benefits of paid hosting, which include the ability to improve the quality of this site and have full discretion to design and implement alternative income functions, I could be ready to move to a paid host.  But, there are still some other considerations that I will take into account. 

Next week, I will discuss what it would mean to move over to a paid host and what I would have to do to make the switch.  I will also look at whether it is worth the move at this time, considering some of the other things that I need to get done before my move to Mississippi in July. 

Stay tuned for the rest of this discussion. 

In the meantime, do you have any stories to share about moving over to paid hosting?  I’d love them. 

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications.  I am currently hosting a series of posts called “Building a Blog.”  This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website.  I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

 
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Lite Fare: Glimpse and Roundup

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Make Money Monday:  From Auto Commuting to Telecommuting – As I prepare to make the transition from reporting to an office everyday to telecommuting from a home office everyday, I will discuss some of the changes that I will need to make in the way I do my job.  When telecommuting, it is important to maintain a strong and permeating presence with employers and with your clients. 

Techy Tuesday: Building A Blog Series: Is it time for me to start paying for a hosting service?  I want to look at this question a little closer and decide whether now’s the time to go at it alone. I will examine the question of when is the right time to leave the safety of free host services and host your own website.

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: TBD

Tough Life Thursday: TBD

ROUND UP

  • Every once in a while, it is good to have a reminder to Stop Reading, Start Doing.  Here, Kevin Muldoon from Time to Tweet reminds us not to spend all of our time reading other people’s blogs at the expense of updating our own.  Scheduling is key and although reading others’ blogs may help us with our own writing, he suggests not spending more than 25% of your allotted blogging time reading other blogs. 

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Why Subscribe?

Its funny how we can move along without doing something for so long and then all of a sudden we become enlightened one day. On that day, suddenly, we ask how is it that I could have lived for so long without doing ‘X.’

That’s how I feel about subscribing to websites.

For me, it happened very contextually. I was interested in a particular subject matter – personal finance. I started reading everything I could get my hands on dealing with personal finance. Then, I discovered the blog entitled My Dollar Plan and it kind of all fell into place from there. Soon, I was reading many other personal finance blogs, most of which had been referred from My Dollar Plan.

Then, never wanting to miss a My Dollar Plan update, I followed the directions on her website for subscribing. Soon, I was receiving updates by email and then I discovered the Google RSS reader.

Now, I am subscribed to over 40 blogs through my Google feed reader, and not just in the subject of personal finance, but also entrepreneurship, marriage and relationships, blogging, and technology.

With Google’s RSS reader, I can get as little as a want or as much as I want whenever I want. I can follow my favorite writers and participate in conversations between the writers and readers and among readers in the comments section. I feel good because I receive valuable content in the subjects in which I am interested.

At the same time, I am giving something back to the authors of these blogs in the way of my subscription to their website.

What does it mean to subscribe to a website?

These days, most websites offer the ability of readers to receive updates whenever the content on the site is updated. Websites ranging from larger news websites to the smallest weblogs often include such update tools, known as RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds.

To an author or owner of the website, your subscription means you are interested in the site content. It means you are interested enough to want to follow updates on the site. In a lot of ways, a subscription is a high compliment to the content author and is a confirmation that the site is offering valuable content.

A site that attracts numerous subscribers can build on the content being provided by soliciting input from readers that frequent the site or receive regular updates. These readers are most vested in the content being provided on the site.

Why does it matter?

In many cases an author or owner of a site receives revenue from ad views or sales from the site. A website owner and advertisers may look to the subscriber count, among other statistics of the site, to determine the scope and reach of the website for purposes of revenue production.

Your subscription is positive feedback to the site. When you subscribe to a website, especially a blog, it matters to the author of the site because it shows a demand for the content provided. Sometimes subscription numbers are a demonstration of the success of a blog.

What does my subscription mean to the author of the website I am visiting?

Your subscription will inevitably mean many different things to different authors. But most will see it as a nod to the author or owner of a website. It often provides reassurance to the author that he or she should continue doing whatever it is he or she is doing.

How do I subscribe?

Most websites providing the option of subscribing offer the ability for a reader to subscribe by email or by RSS feed reader. The RSS feed icon looks like this:

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Usually, the website will provide instructions on how to subscribe, which will include clicking on the icon and following the directions for completing your subscription.

In the case of email subscription, sometimes you will be sent an email to verify your request for a subscription to which you must respond in order to activate your subscription.

Subscribing to a feed reader is even simpler. Click on the icon and choose the reader to which you are subscribed and the feed burner will deliver the updates to all of the websites to which you are subscribed.

Here on Aspire to Grace, the RSS icon is at the top on the right side bar.  

How much does it cost to subscribe?

Nothing – its free!!!

Should I subscribe to Aspire to Grace?

Yes! If you enjoy the content on Aspire to Grace, please subscribe. I’d love to send you my updates and receive any feedback you have to offer!

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications.  I am currently hosting a series of posts called “Building a Blog.”  This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website.  I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Building a Blog Series: Marketing, Giving Presence to Bookmarking and Social Network Icons

As part of the next steps I am taking in the development of Aspire to Grace, I have decided to give presence to bookmarking and social networking access on here.  Such access includes Digg, StumbleUpon, and Facebook access through branded icons. 

The format I will take in this post is to ask the questions that I have been asking for sometime and then attempt to provide the answers as best I can.  I figure that there are many out there like me with fairly new blogs and that you will have the same questions and will be looking for the same answers.  My goal is to have, at the end of this post, little bookmarking and social networking icons staring back at you.  That will mean that my quest was successful and that you can begin to access or interact with Aspire to Grace on these networking mediums.  

1.           If I am using the free-hosted WordPress.com blog service, can I add social network and bookmarking icons such as Digg or StumbleUpon?

A:            Yes.   With the right coding, you can include these icons at the end of each post with the ability for your readers to click through and refer your page to the site. 

Even though WordPress allows you to include widgets for services like Digg in your sidebar, it is better to have them visible at the end of each post.  Some of your visitors may never see that portion of your sidebar containing your widget.  In addition, using code specific to each post allows a visitor to click on a link to submit that post directly to the social networking website.  

I actually initiated this process on Sunday and was able to attach the icons to my Monday post. 

2.            How do I include these icons on my blog page?

A:            I had to search around for a while before I found what worked for me. 

Some sites recommended modifying the .php code or CSS code for your blog.  These codes are essential coding for your blog, however.  Incorrect coding could bring down the blog so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you know what you are doing beforehand.  I tried to do a quick tutorial for .php coding and knew right away that learning even the basics would take more than one evening.  So, I kept looking for alternatives and eventually ended up here and here.    The first website refers you to the second, which provides the coding necessary to add the icons.  I cut and pasted the code into my editor at the end of my post and the icons appeared. 

I did modify the coding to move the icons around and to eliminate ones that were not working or that were services with which I am not familiar.  Ultimately, my icons appear in the following order: Delicious, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Digg, Simpy, Newsvine, Reddit, and Fark. 

3.            How will my readers use each of these icons to access and/or interact with my blog? 

A:            Once a reader has finished reading your post, he or she can click on one of the links you have provided at the bottom of the post to share your story on the social network site of their choosing.  Thus, your reader may choose to Stumble your article, or post it to Facebook, or refer it to the site of their choosing.  Having your website promoted in this fashion will inevitably lead to an increase in referrals from these sites. 

4.            I have seen other blogs with these icons at the end of every post, how would I place these icons on my own blog? 

A:            This proved to be a lot more cumbersome than I expected.  There may be much simpler ways of doing this, but I have yet to discover them.  For now, this is how I have to do it:

            a.  I copy and paste the code provided through the archGFX blog.

            b.  I follow the instructions on the blog, which tells me to (i) replace all instances of ‘xURIx’ in the code with the URL of my post; and (ii) replace all instances of ‘xTITLEx’ in the code with the title of my post, using ‘+’ for the spaces. 

            c.  I paste this modified code to the end of my post in my editor. 

5.            How can I teach my visitors to use these icons?

A:             Write a post to your readers about why these icons are important.  I intend to do the same.   

6.            How do I market my page from each of these services?  

A:            This is an answer for another post.  Since I am new to some of these services and have not used others, I will need time to explore and learn.  So, I have decided to do a follow up post, or two on the ways in which you can market your blog through these services.   These posts will be based on my own experience with engaging these services. 

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications.  I am currently hosting a series of posts called “Building a Blog.”  This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website.  I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

 

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Blog Marketing, Marketing on Facebook, Star-Struck on Twitter

Last week, I mentioned having reached a plateau of traffic on Aspire to Grace in recent days.  In order to break through this plateau, I will need to step up my marketing efforts. 

On average, I receive between 10 & 20 unique visitors daily.  My referrals come from Aspire to Grace subscribers, as well as through my marketing efforts. 

My Marketing Efforts to Date

For the past two and a half months that this site has been live, I have used rather common marketing channels. 

I have marketed this site by commenting on other people’s blogs.  By commenting on another blog, I am usually leaving a fingerprint in the way of a link back to Aspire to Grace.  Through my comments, others can click thru to my website.  But I caution anyone leaving a comment on another blog as a way to gain exposure to be sure to leave a meaningful remark that addresses or responds to the specific information in the blogger’s post.  Meaningless rants in the comment section are often dismissed as spam and may not be published by the blog’s owner.   If your comment is not published, you can not benefit from a back link.   

My other marketing efforts include submissions to directories.  I have submitted 3 articles to the Ezine directory so far.  Two were duplicate articles from blog posts here on Aspire to Grace.  But, I soon learned of the detriment to search engine rankings of having identical posts in more than one location on the web.  So, my latest article, Beware of Miscellaneous Charges on Your Phone Bill is not a duplicate.  From now on, I will submit unique articles to directories.  By submitting unique articles, I gain more exposure for my writings while having the benefit of a back link from the directory page to my website through the associated link in my author information.

I have also made an article submission to a blog carnival.  This approach was a little more nebulous for me, however.  I made the submission back in March and although I received a submission confirmation, I haven’t received any additional information.  Furthermore, the date on which the carnival was scheduled to update has now passed with no updated information to the site. 

Next time, I’ll try a different carnival and perhaps more than one at a time.

Marketing On Facebook

My next move has been to create a Page on Facebook for Aspire to Grace.  Although I have a profile on Facebook already, I never wanted to market my website as part of my persona on Facebook.   I feel like we are all part of a bit of a captive audience as far as our friends are concerned on Facebook.  I would never want to use tactics that are distasteful to market my site.  There’s something about marketing to a captive audience that is quite unappealing. 

Tonight, I created a separate page for Aspire to Grace while logged in as myself.  As far as I can tell, the Aspire to Grace page has no apparent connection to my own profile except to the extent that I am the administrator and currently the only fan.  Although, I still haven’t figured out exactly how my profile will be linked to the Aspire to Grace page, if at all, I know that the connection won’t be too obvious or in-your-face.  So far, the pages coexist without any apparent connection.  The connection is made even less obvious to me considering I can’t even find the Aspire to Grace page without going to the Facebook menu at the bottom of my own profile page, choosing “Advertising” and then “managing existing pages” once inside that link. In setting up the separate page, I found Facebook’s application to be very user unfriendly – not very efficient.  

So far, I have included one post on the page, but will need to do more work to populate the page completely and promote it.  I will provide updates as to whether and how much this additional marketing method works toward breaking Aspire to Grace out of her plateau. 

Update: I discovered a Facebook application called Simplaris Blogcast to use as an additional marketing tool on Facebook.  While his application may provide more exposure, I may actually have just contradicted my intentions to market Aspire to Grace separately from my persona on Facebook.  With Simplaris Blogcast, I am effectively subscribed to this blog site through my Facebook page.  Updates are accessible on my profile page through the Blogcast tab.  Although there are updated blogcast notifications on my profile page, I don’t see the notifications on my friends pages.  Hopefully, it will not send notification to all of my friends pages once my blogcast updates everyday.  Ideally, the blogcast tab will be on my page and my friends can access at their own leisure.  I am inclined to keep the Aspire to Grace page I created also to allow access to those who are not subscribed to my profile on Facebook.   

Star-Struck on Twitter….

I am slightly ashamed to say that yesterday I got caught up in the Ashton Kutcher v. CNN twitter phenom… I became a fan of Ashton (aplusk) and now, Ashton is one if the 13 people that I am following… and strangely, I find that I am a little star-struck. 

This is quite disturbing considering that I haven’t actually met this star, I just feel strangely excited whenever I hear a tone on my tweet deck and discover that aplusk is on deck again. 

But, is he really tweeting that often?  I counted like 4 times in a 30 minute period.  Then I went from being strangely star-struck to taking odd comfort in knowing that, while aplusk has the downtime to tweet 4 times in 30… oops 5 times, there goes another…. I am on a tighter schedule with less time on my hands.  But then again, that could just be because I actually work for a living. 

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications.  This post is part of a series called “Building a Blog.”  This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website.  I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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