In case you haven’t read my About Me Page, my name is Chantal Vanderlaan and this is my new blog! I should clarify and say that this isn’t my FIRST blog ever but it’s the one that I’m the most passionate about!
Quick background – I’m a former WordPress developer who has also dabbled in internet marketing and graphic design. I work full-time at my “day job” but like countless other bloggers, my hope is to make a full-time income online so I can leave my day job at some point.
I recently closed my web design business because it was adding too much stress to my daily life which I didn’t need because I’m also a mom to two wonderful girls. My goal is to blog about everything I’ve learned so far and share with you what I’m doing to make this blog a success! Not only do I want to share with you what works for me but I also want to share my mistakes along the way (I know I’ll make some for sure).
So basically I want to maintain complete transparency. I will be sharing financials and analytics in my “Weekly Round-Ups” along the way (no matter how crappy or good they are!) so I invite you to follow me through my journey!
Here’s a summary of what happened this past week
- Building the blog: Luckily, designing my own blog didn’t take much time considering I’m a WordPress geek. If you’re new to WordPress, check out my WordPress Tutorials For Beginners which shows you how to set up your very own blog! You can also buy really cute “premade” themes through Restored 316 Designs or Pretty Darn Cute Designs (they provide set-up services if you don’t want to do it yourself). Both of these designers build their themes on the Genesis Framework which is the BEST WordPress framework available (in my opinion) and is also the same one that I use to build my websites.
- Choosing a color scheme: I HATE choosing colors for websites! I wanted to choose feminine colors and luckily you can get great ideas for palettes on Pinterest and Colour Lovers.
- Designed my logo: If you haven’t heard of Design Cuts, check it out!!!! They have awesome deals for creative professionals (up to 95% off). I bought a bundle with 33 professional fonts so I used one of these fonts in my logo. I just wanted something plain for my logo (yes I know I’m boring) but may change it in the future. I just wanted to design a quick text logo so I could move on to other things. For my design work, I use Photoshop and Illustrator but if you’re on a budget, you may want to check out free design tools such as PicMonkey, Canva or Pixlr.
- Picked my fonts: I use Google Fonts for my web fonts. Currently they have over 700 fonts to choose from and it’s a FREE service! (Tutorial Coming Soon!)
- Imported blog posts: I had a collection of blog posts (WordPress tutorials) on my old site which I wanted to import to My Two Cents Project. Learn how I quickly imported my old blog posts with a FREE plugin!
- Updated blog posts: I went through most of the blog posts that I imported from my old site to update some material and add images.
- Wrote my “About Me” page: Usually I can never think of anything to say when I’m talking about myself, but this was quite easy.
- Installed a few key plugins: There is a handful of key plugins that I use on all my sites. Check out my toolbox and see which plugins I swear by!. Not sure how to install a plugin? No problem! Check out my post “How to Install WordPress Plugins”.
- Contact Form + new email address: Using a free plugin (Contact Form 7), I set a basic contact form in case readers need to contact me. In order to set this up, I needed a new email address which I created via my cPanel.
- Added newsletter sign-up form: You may have noticed a few sign-up forms scattered through my blog. I added one in the header next to my logo, one that appears automatically at the end of each blog post and I’ve also added one before my footer. I think having multiple forms throughout your site increases your chances for your readers to sign up. (Tutorial Coming Soon!)
- Set up Google Analytics: Obviously, monitoring traffic is crucial and even though I’m not expecting any for a while, I installed my Google Analytics Tracking Code.
- Signed up for Google Webmasters Tools: I submitted my blog to Google.
- Made my blog “Pinterest-friendly”: In order to achieve this, I am trying to design “Pinterest Friendly” images for all my blog posts. I also added a “Pin It” button which automatically appears when someone hovers over an image. The plugin that I am using for this is the jQuery Pin It Button.
- Launched blog: I took my blog out of ‘Maintenance Mode”. I felt like I had enough blog posts to get started so I figured “why not?”
Goals for Next Week
- Set up social media accounts: Ideally, I would like to have an account set up for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I hope to get into Instagram at some point (and possibly others) but I feel that mastering a few social media accounts is far better than poorly managing a whole bunch of accounts.
- Business plan: I’m really stubborn when it comes to writing a business plan. I’m one of those people who usually just shrugs it off and wanders around blindly trying different things. This time, I’m actually going to sit down and develop an actual plan for my blog!
- Pinterest strategy: I’ve done a LOT of research on driving traffic to my blog using Pinterest. I would like to develop my very own “Pinterest Strategy” and start monitoring what is working and what is not.
At this point, I don’t have much for expenses!
- Hosting: Currently my hosting is through HostGator and I pay $9.95 per month.
- Adobe Creative Cloud: I couldn’t do without my subscription to Creative Cloud. I pay about $35 per month which gives me access to a suite of tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.
Things to Remember
- Don’t be a sprinter, be a long-distance runner: I really love this saying and I have to constantly remind myself of this. I’m one of those people who expected results yesterday. I need to make the switch from sprinter to marathoner if I want to see this blog succeed!
- Don’t worry about what other people are doing: I am constantly comparing myself to others and this is a behavior that needs to stop! Sometimes I get a little discouraged when I see how many bloggers seem to be doing a better job that I am…I need to remind myself that I’ve learned a lot over the last 5-6 years and that I have a lot to offer my readers.
So that’s it for Weekly Roundup – Week #1! I’m looking forward to moving on to Week #2…Follow me on BlogLovin’ to stay up-to-date on what I’m doing from week to week! I’m super excited because I just bought Ruth Soukup’s book “How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul” yesterday and I can’t wait to read it!!!
If you’ve just recently launched your own blog, let me know how you made out below! Or if you’re thinking of starting your own blog, let me know how I can help!