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Networking Part 3: Blogs and Websites

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Good morning and welcome to the third part of my networking series.

One of the first things we’re told is to have a website and blog to help build our online presence. While there are many different ways to build a site, two of the ones I’ve used were Webs.com, Weebly.com, and Wix.com among others. For blogs, I’m a fan of WordPress.com, but there’s also Blogger, Tumbler, and so on. I’ve only used a couple of those I listed, so I’ll focus on my experiences.

The sites I mentioned offer both a paid and free service. The biggest different between the paid and free services is control. If we own the domain, we have full control over the layout, design, and everything else out heart desires. This option really appeals to us if we’re into customizing everything. It also personalizes, and, in some opinions, professionalizes the site by taking the .site’s name out of the address. By that I mean, instead of Paul.webs.com we would have Paul.com, or Paul.wordpress.com would be Paul.com. It’s a slight tweak, but one that simplifies the website address. In some cases, we may have to pay for a domain through GoDaddy.com or other sites and link it to. Think of GoDaddy as a middle man or junction between us and our personal site.

While most website providers offer blogs on their sites, many of us may wish to have a blog and use that as our website or keep it separate. Why? Well, this is fairly simple, yet complex.

Websites are designed to be our online home or headquarters where our readers may have to sign up for our newsletters or the site to receive updates. There, everything about us and our projects are listed for easy access by our readers and other writers. In short, websites are self-contained entities that become our hub.

Blogs, in my opinion, are more for networking. A perfect example of this is WordPress.com or WordPress.org. Not only can we follow other blogs, but WordPress allows us the option to Reblog, or share, a blog post from another WordPress site with the press of the reblog button. If it helps, look at it like sharing a post on Facebook or retweeting on Twitter. It’s that painless. Other blogs may require you to join a network or copy and paste the blog post along with the link (You’ll want to do this to give the original poster full credit) going back to the original.

While each blog has its pluses and minuses, this feature gives WordPress a big boost for me. I look at what’s best for efficiency and functionality, and WordPress follows the KISS (Keep It Simple and Stupid) method perfectly.

One thing that’s really awesome is websites and blogs offer formats and designs that are professional looking and easy to use for free. They offer easy to follow instructions, and you can play around to discover things they don’t tell you about or to figure out something that may be confusing. In a way, it’s like a video game. If you love playing games like Sim City, you’ll love this feature.
Now, if we decide to hire a website designer, it’s important to do our research before handing over our hard-earned money. Don’t be afraid to google them, and any free sites for that matter, to find any potential problems. Are their clients content? Do the services regularly crash or fail? Does it take them more than a day to get back to their clients if there’s a problem with the site? Are their sites so complex they barely load?

While those are all legitimate concerns, it’s also important to research what are the most popular features on websites. It’s important for us to know what we want to achieve, so we can better weigh what the website builder offers. Remember, we are the boss. While others may have good advice, if it doesn’t fit in with what we do, we can say no. Look at it this way: The website is our virtual home. Would we build a house with a third bathroom in a one-bedroom house?

Now that we have our site, how do we draw attention to it?

This is where using other social media tools comes into play. In general, we can usually set our blog posts to post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and so on (If you’re unsure how to do this, ask your provider or google it. Each site is different, but may have a simple way of doing it). If we don’t have this option, then it’s up to use to post the link to our website and/or blog on our social media manually. Just copy and paste and add the title or a quick phrase about the post or asking people to check us out.
Most blogs allow us to network together by following one another like we would on Twitter or as a Facebook friend. As we start to follow other sites or blogs, their owners often follow back, creating our network. Sounds simple, right?

Well, it is and it isn’t.

The biggest thing is, we can NOT expect to have hundreds of followers overnight. Remember, we’re building a business and/or service, and it takes time and effort to build our endeavor. As my dad used to say, “Patience is a virtue.” It’s something I know I still struggle with at times, but I keep hearing his voice whenever I get frustrated. Other adages that apply are, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” “You can’t rush perfection,” and yadda, yadda, yadda. Add your own if it helps you keep calm and grounded. Like everything else, it’s about what works best for you. 🙂

The most important thing about building our network is to have fun. If we’re not, it’ll show and we’ll suck the fun out of it for our new friends. Where’s the fun in that, right?

This about wraps up my series on networking. I wanted to keep it as a brief overview as I’ve found it’s more of a self-discovery than not, but I hope it’s been helpful.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. What are some of your favorite sites? How do you build your following?
Until next time, let your imaginations fly, my friends.

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