One of the best part of my “job” is when I get to encourage and mentor aspiring creative entreprenuers. I don’t have all of the answers, but I can share my experience and give them the benefit of learning from my successes and failures.
I’m asked a lot of questions about starting and running a business like mine, but the most common one is how to start a blog.
The technical landscape has changed a lot since I hit the publish button for the first time, so if I had to start all over again, from scratch, as a brand-spanking-new blogger without a budget for a designer or a tech team… What would I do? When I first started, it was important for me to keep things simple and low pressure. That meant doing a lot of it on my own and that is exactly how I would do it again. Starting a business with big financial obligations and loans can sap creativity.
That means acting as my own blog/website designer, which is, admittedly, a little intimidating, since I have people who handle that for me now. I would definitely need to work with a platform that was simple to use, intuitive, and would give me a professional look.
I had heard of Squarespace, but since I already have an established blog, a virtual assistant, and my “tech guys”, I really didn’t have a reason to check it out. I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing Squarespace and I thought it would be great research, so I could let aspiring bloggers know if it was a good platform.
So, I’ve been testing it out for a few weeks and actually set up not one, but two sites.
All by myself.
The first step is selecting a template. They narrow the templates down into categories, so you can look at the ones that will be right for you and your business. You can pick templates that are good for an online shop, a website, or a blog, and even templates suited for specific industries, like music, fashion, photography, and design.
I decided to set up two different websites, creating a “home” for domains I already owned. (I tend to be a domain hoarder!)
You can actually click over and check out the live site. I didn’t set up the shipping, so you can’t actually buy anything, but you get the idea of how it functions. It’s clean, visual, and easy to navigate. It probably took me about 30 minutes to get the site set up.
I only scratched the surface of the available features and options, but as you’re starting out, simple is effective and, well…simple. You can always get complicated later!
The other site I set up was a blog, www.marianparsons.com. This one is the Wexley template and I picked it because I like the visual homepage, but then a reader can easily click over to read blog posts.
I have found navigating the dashboard to be intuitive and there are so many options for customizing the side bar, blog pages, etc. that I haven’t even gotten into, yet. One thing that I love, though, is that they offer 24/7 customer support through e-mail and live chat, so I’m not alone if I get stuck or hung up. They also have video tutorials, workshops, forums, etc. to show how to do what you want to do.
Here’s what a blog post window looks like, as an FYI…
And this screenshot shows a bit more detail on the “content blocks” you can add to customize the post…
I was also able to easily connect my domains to both of the Squarespace sites. I thought I might need to get help with that, but it was a matter of just making a few selections in the dashboard and then it was done. If you don’t own a domain, you can purchase one directly through Squarespace, making it even simpler.
I really love the art blog I created and I think I might even keep it up as a place to share my artwork.
The fact is, the internet is the way to connect with the world in this day and age. So many of the opportunities I have had in my business, from writing for HGTV.com, being featured in magazines, launching a milk paint line, becoming a vendor at Lucketts…all of those things came about because I put myself out there.
If you have a business, an idea, a talent, an opinion, a voice, a gift, or anything that is worth sharing, a website, blog, or online store is the best way to get yourself and your work out in the world. And, after experiencing Squarespace, I can say confidently that there really are no excuses! If you want to do it, you can do it!
And you can sign up for a Squarespace trial for free. No credit card information is required.
If you want to start your blog, online shop, or website, the first 50 readers who use offer code MISSMUSTARDSEED will receive 10% off their first website or domain purchase.
So, if you’re one of those people who have asked me where to start and how to start…
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Squarespace. I spent a lot of time trying out different templates and setting up these sites, so I could give an honest review. I do not receive any additional compensation for readers who sign up for Squarespace. All words and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.