How to Successfully Build Your Place on the Web in 2021

How to Successfully Build Your Place on the Web in 2021

We delve into how you can create your own personal enclave on the web and get started with blogging 2021-style.

In the mid-90s, as the internet began to mature from the early days of community forums and online corkboards, blogging was starting its primitive existence in the world. Originally conceptualized as an online diary, bloggers would share entries about their lives similarly to how paper diaries had been used for centuries, only this time for an entire connected world to read.

A decade later, blogging hit the mainstream. Everybody from individuals to multinationals using it as an effective method of communicating directly with their audiences. You can now get started with blogging in seconds. And, significantly, the entire concept of what blogging is has transformed and mutated extensively, to become a broad and rich tapestry of content creation. In 2019, it was estimated there were more than 500 million active blogs available on the internet. With that in mind, it seems like blogging is ready for yet another metamorphosis.

Let’s get you started with blogging 2021-style.

Make It Personal

Personalized <span class=Templates" class="wp-image-167972" />These days, customizing templates is much more readily available. Image via Chaosamran_Studio.

In the early days, blogging was hard. Not only was it expensive to host something online, you also had to know how to code. This changed with the rise of platforms such as WordPress, which simplified the experience, throwing open the floodgates for the everyday person. Although this was a boon for blogging, the web soon went from a place of diverse experimentation and customization to a place of identikit design. Every website was defined by the few available templates from which they could be built. However, as WordPress and others have matured, the ability to customize templates has become more feasible, and with that, the popularity of personalized experiences is returning.

The beauty of having your own place on the web in 2021 is that, much like your physical home, you can customize it to match your preferences. You can choose the branding and design that speaks specifically to you and your audience. And, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous but also don’t want to spend years learning how to code, there’s a whole new category of tools available for building websites that allow you to create a design in a what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) user interface, which then converts to code on-the-fly. Webflow, Editor X, and Bootstrap Studio are all perfect starting points for getting your hands dirty.

Editor XDrag and drop tools allow anybody to create personalized experiences on the web. Image courtesy of Editor X.

What’s more, for those who’ve spent years building a following on social media, now is a better time than ever to move towards a more personalized way of serving your audience. Think about it. People follow you because of you and the skills, products, or services that you provide. Being able to do that in a place independent of social media means you no longer have the constraints of your profile being barely recognizable from millions of others. Plus, should a social media platform decide to change its rules and make it harder for you to do your thing, then you don’t have to scramble to think up a new way of reaching your audience. And, you don’t have to give up on social entirely—far from it! Combining with social media provides the best of both worlds, allowing you to build a following through social, provide a bespoke experience on the web, and give your audience even more reasons to engage with you. Win-win-win.

Think Blogging, but Better

Podcast MicsNow, the sky really is the limits in creatively exploring how to engage your audience. Image via LightField Studios.

Back in the 90s, the written word was pretty much all the internet could render. But, those restraints are truly behind us. That gives us the opportunity to think about other methods for how we might be able to engage audiences. You could say that blogging was the first example of content creation. And, as it’s progressed, it now encompasses a whole host of content creation methods for all types of audiences.

Podcasts

Podcasting is going through a renaissance of its own at the moment. Much like blogging, it has attracted the eyes of the mainstream, and is now extremely popular across all demographics. Incorporating the spoken word into your place on the web, alongside your written articles, is an easy—and cheap—way of expanding your reach. Interviews and talk shows are popular mediums, and even narrative podcasts that tell fictional tales over successive episodes are becoming increasingly more commonplace.

Infographics

Visuals—such as infographics—are a nice way of breaking up your written content. Plus, images are a fantastic method of showcasing a standalone topic in an entirely new and engaging way. Although some infographics could be considered works of art in their own right, you don’t need to be Picasso to get going with some simple visual pieces to complement your other content.

Vlogging

Woman Vlogger Vlogging gives you the ability to humanize your connection with your audience. Image via DisobeyArt.

We all know about the YouTube megastar brand of vlogging with millions and millions of hits per video, but there’s absolutely no requirement to incorporate vlogging into your place on the web. Much like podcasting, this medium gives you the ability to reach people in a whole new way, humanizing your connection with your audience. Popular types of vlogging include through camera, where the vlogger talks directly with the audience through a monologue or interview, or on location, where the vlogger ventures out into the world to discuss a particular topic.

Newsletter

Newsletters have been around pretty much since the dawn of online conversation. However, they shouldn’t be overlooked in a well-rounded set of communications for your new place on the web. Although not strictly content on your website itself, newsletters are a terrific way of announcing upcoming events or interviews, or rounding up the best bits from the last month. At the very least, it’s just another way of keeping in touch with your audience and reminding them why they should keep coming back.

Comments Are Dead

This one is a cautionary tale. If you’re used to how interaction works on social media, you may think that allowing comments on your website is the way to go. Don’t be fooled. If you think the odd wild comment on Instagram is a lot to deal with, then allowing comments on your blog posts, infographics, podcasts, or vlogs will simply open a firehose you probably don’t want to deal with. There are much better ways of introducing community involvement than simply turning on comments—social media, a dedicated WhatsApp group, or even live events are all much more beneficial ways of interacting with your audience. Keep yourself sane!

All the Kit and Caboodle

Food VloggerInvest in the right gear. Image via Golubovy.

Getting started has never been easier. However, whether you go with a templating platform such as WordPress or Squarespace or press ahead with some of the DIY tools we’ve already mentioned, inevitably, you’re going to need some additional kit to bring all the facets of your experience to life.

Laptop and Cell Phone

Hopefully, these are obvious! You may be able to run the whole thing from a tablet or phone, as many platforms now have feature-rich apps that allow you to upload all manner of content to your website with just one or two taps. If you’re editing a podcast or vlog, though, a laptop is probably the easier way to go.

Mic

Podcasting and vlogging are also going to need a mic. Don’t be tempted to use those built into your laptop or cell phone, as the quality is going to be subpar, and your audience isn’t going to listen for long. There are some amazing alternatives on the market, with companies such as Joby offering a comprehensive (and affordable) selection of kit for getting started.

Tripod or Selfie Stick

Selfie StickWhen traveling, a tripod or selfie stick is a good investment. Image via Flamingo Images.

Similarly, anything beyond the written word is going to need a mount for your phone and mic. If you’re thinking about vlogging, you’re probably going to want to take the show on the road, so a selfie stick or handheld tripod is a must.

Ring Light

This one isn’t a necessity, but if your place on the web will host visual content, then you need to consider lighting. A ring light is likely the most versatile option as it can be used for all manner of content types—basic camera footage, interviews, photo shoots, even longer-form material. And, given their prevalence, they’re a relatively cheap option for beginners.

Show Me the Money

Making MoneyPro tip: Don’t let money overshadow your audience’s experience. Image via Overearth.

Should all that effort grow into something that really catches the imagination, it may be time to think about monetization. The key here is to ensure that whatever methods you employ, income generation should never get in the way of the experience you’ve created for your audience—don’t lose the essence of what made it exceptional in the first place!

Affiliate Marketing

If your place on the web hosts reviews, one way you might want to generate a little income is by setting up affiliate marketing. By partnering with a company such as Amazon, you can earn a kickback every time somebody clicks on a product link that takes them to the product page on that company’s site. All companies handle their affiliate programs in different ways, so you’ll need to read up on how each one works. The key here is to be upfront about what’s happening, so your audience understands that you’re benefiting from them clicking through.

Selling Digital and Physical Products

Dependent on what type of place you’ve built on the web, it may be that you’ve always sold some kind of product or service anyway. However, for those that didn’t start this way, introducing this kind of service is another way to kick off a little extra income. If you’ve managed to build a highly-engaged and active audience, then chances are, your recommendations will matter to them. Partnering with companies that fit your niche is important here, as you’ll want to ensure you offer products and services that make sense to your audience.

Membership

Finally, for those that have the strongest relationships with their audiences, there could be an opportunity to create a membership service for all or some of your content. Many pundits, commentators, and journalists have created walled communities for their members. The key here is to ensure that you listen to your members. Give them the ability to vote on the kinds of content they’d like to read or hear, as this will increase the value of the membership and keep them engaged.

Your Place Could Be Next

Male Blogger Find your own personalized place on the web. Image via KeyStock.

Blogging started with humble beginnings, as a way for the everyday person to share their thoughts, opinions, and lives with a wider audience. In 2021, you’re now able to create entire personalized experiences backed by communities of engaged audiences, with some even making it their full-time jobs.

The rise of the personalized place on the web is a whole new frontier for blogging, allowing you as the content creator to provide an experience entirely unique, and therefore eminently more valuable to your audience.

If you have something to share, then there’s never been a better time to get started.

For more related articles, check these out:

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Cover image via Overearth.

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