May 24 2011
Greetings, Cool Peeps:
I’m very excited about my guest this week, Peter Pollock. At my invitation, Peter has kindly agreed to talk to us today about blogs: hosted blogs vs. free blogs, how to start a blog, and on and on. The blogosophere can always use a great guy like Peter to educate and enlighten us.
Hi Peter: So happy to have you as my guest today. Blogging is a way of life in cyberspace, but there are so many of us still trying to learn the ropes. First, can you explain to the cool peeps what the difference between have a hosted blog and a free blog is?
Hi Molly, Thank you so much for having me here.
Probably the easiest way to describe the difference between a free blog and a hosted one is to compare the differences between a free version of a game and a version that you pay for.
In a free version of the game, you get something which feels like it’s the whole version and works well, does what you expect etc. but it has limitations. Sometimes it’s a maximum number of levels, sometimes it’s only a limited choice of characters to be, but whatever it is, it’s limited.
If you then pay for the full version of the game, all of the limitations are taken away and you suddenly discover that what you thought was the full game was only a pale reflection of what it was really designed to be.
The same is true for hosting. You can get a free blog and it will seem fine, but when you start paying for a self-hosted blog, suddenly restrictions that you didn’t even realize were there are stripped away and the experience changes completely.
Starting up a new blog can be overwhelming. What would you say to the frazzled, would-be, I’ll-never-be-able-to-do-this peeps?
Blogging is a lot easier than you might think. There’s no harm in getting a free blog and trying it out for a while first to see how you like it. The initial setup is as easy or hard as you want to make it and then there’s nothing to do to it except write posts whenever you want.
There are many, many people out there who will help and encourage you. You’d be amazed how strong the community of bloggers is!
What are some of the most common mistakes you see people making with their blogs? What would you advise peeps NOT to do?
Don’t try to be something you’re not. If you’re not authentic online, people will see through you pretty quickly.
Don’t put too much on your page. It’s easy to clutter up your page with widgets and images and stuff. Don’t do it. Keep it as clean and simple as possible.
Don’t try to blog more often than you can reasonable manage. If you can only write one post a week, then that’s fine. Try to do it on the same day every week so there’s some consistency but don’t sweat it. People burn out because they try to blog at a rate which is unobtainable to any but the most hardened of writers.
Do try to keep to a few topics. Unless your blog is set up to be completely random, then try to keep some consistency for people.
Many bloggers don’t have big bucks, but want to design a site that is professional, way cool, and unique to said blogger. What are the costs involved on the design side?
You can do a lot without a professional designer, if they use WordPress there are thousands of free themes (design templates) available, which they can then personalize. If they want a cool pictorial header like yours though, they should probably expect to pay at least $100 for it. You can hire someone to match the rest of the site to the colors of your header for $50-$150 depending on how much you need them to do.
Promotion. There’s a thorn in our collective side. With so much competition out there, how can people promote their blogs effectively? Anything people should not do?
Wow, you ask the difficult questions, don’t you Molly?
I think the biggest things are:
1) Don’t beg people to promote you. You can ask, but people don’t want to be guilted into it.
2) Don’t be too pushy. You don’t want to come across like a new car salesman or a life insurance salesman. People won’t put up with pushy sales tactics to promote your site.
3) There’s a reason that this is called social media… and that is that you need to be SOCIAL. Don’t expect people to link to you and retweet your tweets if you’re not willing to interact with them.
Some peeps I’ve talked to are super nervous about all of the technical stuff. Can you explain Akismet, Google Analytics, and any other must-have blog components? Why do we need them? Are they difficult to install? Should we run screaming to the hills?
In a few lines… no I can’t. I’m going to be cheeky and say that if you subscribe to my newsletter at newbloghosting.com, I’m going to be explaining all that stuff.
The easy answer though is they’re not hard to install and some hosts will set those things up for you for free, if you need the help.
They all do different things to help:
1) You understand who is reading your blog and when the are reading.
2) Search Engines like Google know how to include your site in their index correctly.
3) Your readers navigate your site and join in with the conversations there more easily.
If a blogger were to go with your company, New Blog Hosting, what kind of service should she/he expect?
Expect the worst and I’ll try to beat your expectations ☺
No, seriously, my role, my aim is to help you succeed. I’ll walk you through everything step-by-step and make sure that you get your site running the way you want it to run.
I’m in business to help the little guy (or gal) compete with the big dogs. I want to help level the playing field so that you can have an awesome blog, too.
Please, tell us a little about yourself, your family, and your various endeavors, and interests.
Wow… how do I sum that all up? I’m English, born and raised. I married a beautiful American lady in 1997 and she came to live with me in England. Eight years and two children later, we moved to California, where we have been living ever since. I’ve run my own business since 2008. We’ve done everything from selling and repairing computers to selling TV’s and accessories to trying to open an internet café, running an ISP and now web hosting and web design.
How different is life in Northern California from life in the UK?
It’s interesting. There are so many things that are the same and yet so many that are different at the same time. I think the biggest thing is that EVERYTHING is bigger here. I went back for a quick visit to the UK a couple of years ago and found everything to be so small and pokey!
Social media, that ever-evolving beast, has changed the way we do everything. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?
I love the ability to keep in contact with people more easily. Through social media, I have reconnected with people I hadn’t seen for twenty years. The downside though is that it’s always on. Always. I miss so much because I don’t have Facebook and Twitter open 24/7 and there’s often important news about family and friends that they assume I know because they put it on Facebook… but I missed it and have no idea.
What do you know now that you wish you knew five years ago?
I wish that five years ago I would have known that the house my wife wanted to buy was a huge money pit… so I could have run for the hills!
I also wish that five years ago I had known just how much bloggers need help. I have been in the hosting business for eight years now, but only realized the breadth of need in the blog arena in the last couple of years. So many people have turned heel and run because they couldn’t find the help they needed with their blogs.
What do you hope to know in five years that you don’t know now?
In five years time, I hope to know how to manage my time better. Which was also my goal five years ago… and I’m still terrible at it!
What are the top-five items on your To-Do list?
1) Give my wife more attention.
2) Spend more quality time with my kids.
3) Build websites for the four people who are waiting for me to help them.
4) Write tutorials for my free newsletter to help people use their hosting accounts and WordPress better.
5) Redevelop three of my own websites: Day3.co.uk, Stoneagehosting.com and renewingromance.co.uk
Oh, then there’s the to-do list that I’m more likely to get to immediately:
1) Eat some chocolate
2) Eat more chocolate
3) Eat even more chocolate
4) Take a break from chocolate and eat some cookie dough (chocolate chip cookie dough, of course)
5) Get back to eating chocolate
I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?
I would never dare to call you picky! I’m picky about food though. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t like but I’m most picky about my chocolate. I pretty much don’t like any chocolate that’s actually manufactured here in the USA. My chocolate has to be GOOD!
Any parting words for the masses? And please, before you leave, let the cool peeps know where to contact you.
Parting words… don’t be afraid to try blogging and don’t be afraid to take the jump to self-hosted. There are plenty of us who will help! Our blog hosting is just $35 per year, which is less than $3 per month!
I can be contacted through the contact form on Newbloghosting.com or PeterPollock.com or through Twitter at @newbloghosting or @peterpollock.
I’m happy to answer questions anyone has and can even give you a place where you can take self-hosted WordPress on a test drive.
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me, Molly. I know you’re always busy.
(Special thanks to Peter’s mum & sister for supplying the photos of England. Much appreciated.)