A lot of future webmasters know they want a website, but don’t understand all of the various responsibilities and steps that must be taken to start a successful blog, forum, community, or other type of site. Today we’ll be looking at all of the main technical stages of starting and maintaining a website, as well as marketing, community related, and other duties webmasters must take care of.
Starting Your Website
Before you can become an international sensation, there are a few things you must do to get your website online. Although we will not be diving too deep into these topics, here is a rundown of the general starting phase for almost any website.
- Register a website domain (.com, .org, or .net preferred, but any TLD or subdomain will work!)
- Find website hosting (shared hosting, VPS, or dedicated server for hosting your website files)
- Install a content management system (ex: WordPress), online software (ex: XenForo forum software), or opt for a static website (HTML/CSS, no database or management portal)
- Create or find a web design/theme (should be mobile responsive, easy to navigate/read, and fit your overall design choices and brand or logo)
As you can see, there are quite a few technical setup phases that must be taken care of. Not only that, there are a few additional steps for each major aspect of a new website. For example, you need to make sure your website domain is pointed at your hosting (Domain name system/DNS settings), alter some server settings to keep your website secure and optimized, and maybe even tinker around with more complicated settings such as mailing, caching, or security.
Content & Community
Whether you are starting a blog, forum, or some other type of website, you will need to focus on content and driving traffic to your website. This phase of owning your website can be the most difficult, especially if you do not focus your efforts. Here are some of your responsibilities…
- Create unique content for your website such as informational blurbs, articles, questions to readers, or resources such as product reviews, comparisons, or polling data… Give visitors a real reason to need and love your website, whether you’re managing a forum, blog, or even a professional company
- Share your content on social media, other communities you belong to, and everywhere that allows you to do so online
- Consider paying for advertisements – You may need to experiment with different networks, websites, or methods
This phase can be extremely frustrating because it’s no easy task. There are billions of web pages out there to get reader attention, and social media, apps like Discord, streaming/media sites like YouTube or Twitch are all stealing time away from new websites. You must compete, even if you do not know your competitors… but definitely do some research to figure out what might work for you and what might not.
You will likely face technical problems along the way, and some may be unpredictable. Just the other week, CloudFlare had issues with the CPU on their servers, causing 80% of their online traffic to see error pages and experience major connection problems. You heard that right, 80% of their supported websites were offline. That is around 13 million websites, according to their current statistic of supporting 16 million sites. Relying on a third party such as CloudFlare isn’t a bad idea though. That service still has around 99.99% uptime, even with the recent outage. However, you must be prepared to communicate with your site visitors to explain this type of downtime, especially because many will not read about global outages or issues.
- Update the software, following developer instructions
- Identify any non-working pages, plugins, or designs
- Fix all issues
- Communicate to your site visitors that you are upgrading, to avoid confusion or panic if your site is temporarily offline
Listening to Feedback & Changing Your Website
Whether it’s direct feedback from visitors, or a detailed look at your website analytics, you are inevitably going to develop a knack for understanding what your visitors enjoy, dislike, and want. You may find that your site needs to be updated over time. Design choices become outdated, content becomes irrelevant, and the way we share information is always changing. You must prepare for both small and large changes over the course of your website’s lifetime if you wish to stay on top of current trends, capture your target niche and audience, or be successful over a long period of time.
Although this may be the easiest concept to understand, many webmasters struggle in this area. Even people who claim to be open and willing to change will find themselves hesitant or unwilling from time to time. Just take a look at the popular show, Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey. The premise of the show involves poorly run restaurants reaching out for help and support. However, a lot of times the famous chef will arrive and discover that the restaurant staff or owners are not open to feedback at all. Some are even willing to serve raw meat and then claim they are the best chefs in the world. This is similar to webmasters who serve poorly written or designed web pages, while also claiming to need no help or support because they are “the next big thing”. Be careful of becoming too stubborn over time. Even highly successful websites like MySpace or Di.gg faced this issue. The glory of success and riches ruined both sites, ran by men and women who found themselves unable to adapt to society pressures and internet changes. Di.gg was dethroned by Reddit, and MySpace users fled for Facebook. Never let your success make you feel too comfortable!
All That, and More!
Of course, there are many other aspects to managing a successful website other than those mentioned here. You must be capable of bringing in valuable content creators should your site reach a global audience, hiring professionals or finding volunteers to assist with moderating your community or content (even simple blog comments), and ensuring your website is running smoothly. In other words, if you truly feel like you will have a successful website, be ready to ask for help. Even Albert Einstein couldn’t solve every equation. The smartest mathematicians, engineers, webmasters, and other industry experts need help. There’s a reason that the most successful companies and websites have entire teams working on them. No single person can do it all. However, I have seen many sites reach a period of success, only to disappear from computer screens because the site wasn’t able to keep up with all of the new exposure and activity.
Besides hiring or asking for help, you may face other issues like needing to scale up your server hosting, making a high end logo in Photoshop, releasing how-to guides (for using your site), creating rules, terms of service, or privacy policies, and taking care off all the various pages your site makes available. You may find yourself surprised at how difficult this can become without a good content management system or people to help you roll out every change.
How Forum Promotion Helps Webmasters
At Forum Promotion (also referred to as ‘FP’), we believe in helping new, intermediate, and advanced webmasters move forward and be successful in our shared, digital world. Whether you are from a lesser known country in a large continent, part of the EU, the USA, Mexico, or literally anywhere else, we can help you become a better website administrator, owner, and creator. If you have a device and an internet connection, you can participate! Boy, girl, old, young, or anything in between means nothing to our community. The number one rule at our forum is to be respectful, and if you can do so while you attempt to help others or ask for help, I can promise you with 100% certainty that you will not only enjoy your time, but be more successful both online and offline too.
You can participate in a large variety of forum discussions, from marketing and promotion related conversations to generalized brainstorming. We have tutorials, discussions, and articles that cover every single part of this article – and more than that. If you are not yet a member, we highly encourage you to register an account, introduce yourself to the community, and start a discussion!