Hey, everybody! I just wanted to post an update on things. Also, I want to share some of my observations on the challenges of starting a business while working a full-time job. When we started this blog, our goal was to share our journey with others who might also be starting an online business or thinking about starting one. This process doesn’t have to take years, but if you’ve been following us for a while, you’re probably aware that we launched this blog over a year ago and we still haven’t officially launched our businesses. However, we have set up our LLCs, got our state business licenses, bought our domain names and hosting and we’re presently working on designing our blogs (which has turned out to be more challenging than expected – more about this in a minute). So this update is going to focus on where we are presently and what difficulties we’re facing along the way.
This week we continued to hammer out the design details for our new blogs. We are quickly learning that sometimes designing a new blog can be fairly mind-numbing. There are so many options, add-ons, plugins, widgets, and whatchamacallits to consider. Ok, so we’re easily distracted by bright shiny objects. The process is fun at times, but I think we’ve both gotten a little off-track at times and had to really struggle to move forward. We are still making progress, in between the brief periods of time that we are reduced to bumbling, babbling heaps of confusion. This week we’ve spent a lot of time looking at other successful blogs to see what elements they have in common. We are also trying to determine the best placement for the elements we want on our blogs. It’s probably somewhat of a disadvantage that we both tend to be perfectionists most of the time. There’s always one more possibility, one other “what if” and – I’m pretty certain – just one last thing we haven’t considered. We did manage to start installing some critical plugins on our blogs this week. We’ve spent some time learning more about Headway so that we can use all the features it offers to the best of our ability. We also began working on the color schemes for our blogs.
For next week: We will continue to work on the designs for our blogs. We both need to decide exactly how we want our blog to look and act so that we can start finalizing the design aspects and start focusing on content.
January 2010 is here. I hope you’ve all taken the time to set some important goals for the new year. If you want to start a business, work for yourself, and ditch your 40 hours/week ball and chain, you’re going to have to get really clear on what steps to take to make that a reality. Also, you should try to set up some kind of accountability to keep you in the hot seat and keep you making progress. That’s partly why we started this blog. We want others to be able to learn something from our experiences as well as hold us accountable for our actions (or non-actions). That’s also why we try to do weekly updates about our progress and goals for each week. Tammy and I enjoyed the holiday season and took a couple guilt-free weeks off. That was totally needed and very refreshing. But now we’ve rolled up our sleeves and are getting in gear again. So for starters, I’ll bring you up to speed on our activities since the last update.
We’ve started our logo design contests over at 99Designs and it’s been a really fun and eye-opening process so far. The logo designs are for the new blogs we’ll be launching soon. Scott’s contest is for BehaviorandMotivation.com and my contest is for EcoFriendlyBasics.com. We’ll be writing more about the experience when the contests are over and we have our nifty new logos. The contests will be ending this week, and then we’ll have a period of time to stare at all the entries and scratch our heads, pull our hair out, and change our minds a gazillion times before we pick the winner. We would love to get your feedback about which designs you like and/or don’t like. Can you help us out?
The links to each of our contests are below. When you get to the contest page you’ll see all the current entries. You can click on the button labeled “read the brief” to get an idea what we’re looking for. Feel free to leave comments in the general discussion area on the contest page. The artists love feedback. Or, you can come back here and proclaim your favorite design (they’re all numbered for easy reference). We can’t wait to hear what you think!
Click here to check out Scott’s 99Designs logo contest
Click here to check out Tammy’s 99Designs logo Contest
I expect that with the Christmas holiday season upon us, our progress will be slow for the rest of the month. But we managed to get a few things done this week in spite of taking extra time to Christmas shop and related activities. We have more shopping, house decorating and visiting family and friends to finish off the month.
So here’s what we got done: I set up my business PayPal account account this week and Tammy has spent a lot of time pursuing a work-from-home opportunity which she already reported about (see her LionBridge post). Aside from that, most of our activity has revolved around designing our blogs. I’ve spent a lot of time selecting what kind of widgets and plug-ins we plan to use on our business blogs. We continue to play around with Headway to learn how to use it to get the effects we want. Another big part of blog design for us is choosing our categories and tags as well as determining how our blogs will function.
When looking at things like site functionality, the goal is to make it as easy as possible for a visitor to navigate your site. If a site is overly complicated, you risk the user moving on quickly rather than hanging around and reading. Having a well-functioning site that’s easy to find your way around is important for building trust with your audience. That’s why we’re paying a lot of attention to this.
Pages, Categories and Tags
I’ve been kind going crazy over this topic. Properly defining your pages, categories and tags increases your site’s visibility in search engines. Things like page and category names as well as post tags, formatting text using heading presets are all ways to code each post and your entire site so that specific keywords are properly emphasized for search engines. Knowing these things, I’ve been taking a lot of time trying to think like a visitor to my site so I can choose the right keywords, pages, categories, and tags. Though it seems like it’s much ado about nothing, taking the time to consider these things can, as I understand it, make a huge difference in page and site rankings. So we really want to get this right.
Marketing Your Ebook
I purchased an ebook last week that’s all about how to market an ebook. So far, I’m very impressed with it. I’m not ready to write a review, but stay tuned. I’ll probably try to write something about it in January. I don’t have a lot of time to work with the book but my time will free up after the holidays. However, I will still be working through the material, so I’ll write when I have something more substantial to report about it.
- More site design activities
- Hiring someone to create the logos for our sites
- Start setting up social networking accounts (time permitting)
- Start writing blog content (as time permits)
- A lot of holiday stuff totally unrelated to starting a business
Just a quick update this week because there’s not a huge amount of progress to report. But, we continue to take steps in the direction of our goals. We’re getting into the process of designing our websites, and that was the main focus of our progress this week. We keep having to remind ourselves (and each other) that everything doesn’t have to be perfect from “Day 1.” Both of us tend to over-analyze every element of our sites and every step along the way. Yes, we are our own worst enemies at times! So, If you’re going through this process with us, try to keep in mind that your site will never be “perfect” or “finished.” Throughout the life of your business, your site will continue to grow and evolve based on your customers’ needs, business demands, and a host of other factors. Okay, with that said, here’s what we’ve been up to this week…