If I had to start all over again…

Marian ParsonsRunning a Business11 Comments

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.

Enter Squarespace.

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!)

The first one was set up as an online shop – French Blue | Farmhouse White.

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.

This is the Jaunt template and I really love the format of it.  I want to set up my online shop differently and I might end up moving it to Squarespace.  I like that I can get it set up myself.

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…

Start here.

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.

If I had to start all over again…

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11 Comments on “If I had to start all over again…”

  1. You have so much talent. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Now if I only had the courage to start, and the direction of what I should do!

  2. I can’t say thank you enough for this honest review! I started a blog on Blogger in 2007 and just never really did much with it. But it’s been on my heart to make it “for real”. But I wanted a good one. I can’t wait to check it out!

  3. THANK YOU for this info…the techy thing isn’t my strong suit so I’ve been dragging my feet at getting the online gig going. I rent space in two shops (local to me but in two different towns) but need one place where the vintage reprints I work with are all located where customers can see all of the 100+ photos/dictionary art I’ve worked with this far. About six months ago I did purchase a domain name with the intentions of starting online then…but…like I already stated, ;). Going to check this out very, very soon. Like maybe even today!

  4. I have had my blog on Squarespace for over a year now and LOVE it! The template selections are incredible, the ease of set up and use is delightful, and the customer service for questions is awesome. I have nothing but good things to say about my experience and highly recommend them myself!

  5. What does this compare to? Blogger and WordPress and/or website styles after you are signed up with B and WP?

    Also, have you ever been interviewed for a TV show? Nester mentioned something about having done a couple and I thought that would make a fascinating post. Just the little she shared was funny and entertaining.

    Thank you Miss!

    1. I am currently on WordPress, but I had it all set up by a designer and technical firm. I use it for my posts and to make minor changes, but I cannot make major technical changes myself.

      I would compare Squarespace to Blogger, since it’s what I used when I first started and I was able to set things up by myself. The professional look of Squarespace, though, blows Blogger away. It’s definitely what I would’ve gone with if it was available at that time.

      As far as a TV show, I’ve been on TV shows, like the Nate Berkus show (when it was on the air), Fox News, and many local news shows. I was interviewed once for a reality show, but I really wasn’t interested in that at all!! 🙂

  6. I started a blog on “another” type of platform when I started and it always looked awful because I am not a designer. I have a designer son, but he doesn’t always have time to do work for me….even though the coolest thing on my old site was the banner he had created for me 🙂

    I moved to Squarespace and WOW, it is so much easier to use. Couple that with finally finding my specific focus for my website (entrepreneurial home educators) and even though I have not filled the pages yet, I am really excited for my new launch. Squarespace is about 10X easier to use than the other platform and everything just looks more polished and professional. Old site is now defunct and I will be moving posts to the new site.

    Pictures just look BETTER on Squarespace too.

    Anyway, not that anyone is asking me, but I agree that anyone starting a website would do better to use this platform. Also, that you really find your focus and/or niche. It was frustrating trying to write to “everyone” and wanting to cover everything under the sun.

  7. Hello Miss~

    I am not a blogger and have no interest in becoming one. But, I do go to blogs for ideas, and occasionally follow some.
    My suggestion for bloggers would be to remove all or most of the annoying pop up adds. I realize they may be necessary to the financial success of the blog (if that is the intention). But, if a blog is peppered with ads, and I am spending more time Xing them out than reading the blog, I will not follow that blogger. I will just try patiently to navigate the info as quickly as possible and exit the blog. Having an ad between each paragraph is maddening. I do appreciate when purchasing links are available. That is a plus.
    I am just stating an opinion that might be considered when a blogging website is getting started. It might be a good idea for long time bloggers who have established websites to try navigating their own blog. Cooking/recipes websites are the worst.
    ~Nora

  8. I love the simplistic beauty of your blog. What platform did you use when you first started? What platform do you use now? I am getting ready to create a blog and I like Squarespace. Thank you!

  9. I just bought a domain name after reading your post (and thanks for the discount, too)! I’m not ready to use it just yet, but it’s part of my plan, and this is just one more step that will keep me inspired along the way. Thanks for your continued inspiration!

  10. Thankyou Marion!
    I have been wanting to start a blog but had no idea what to do. Now to make some time to do it!
    Being a small business owner in her 50’s I hope I can prove myself wrong and can conquer this challenge.
    You have inspired me for the last 3 years and I just love what you do!

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