First, let me describe my background in regards to web design so you know where I’m coming from.
I built my first web page in the year 2000 using Yahoo Geocities’ WYSIWYG site builder. It was simple. I just typed out some text and dragged it where I wanted it, and put pictures where I wanted them on the page. It was fun and sparked an interest to learn more about web design.
Shortly after that, I took a web page design class in college. The course almost entirely focused on html code. I enjoyed the course and felt proud to finally be a sophisticated “hard coder” creating web pages with Notepad. I created several websites by just writing html code and CSS, including the website for my company, a Las Vegas CPA Firm.
However, I soon discovered that creating a website this way has its problems. For example, changing a navigation bar for all pages in the website required me to cut and paste new code to all of the twenty-or-so html documents that comprised each page of the website.
My eyes were opened to a better way of managing a website at the AICPA Technology Conference in June 2009. One of the speakers demonstrated how he used a content management system (CMS) to pull content from other sources on the Internet and automatically create html code. Another session of the conference was entirely about “blogging, podcasting, and social networking” which covered how a blog can benefit a professional. I left the conference with the resolve that I wanted to learn to use a CMS and become a blogger!
It was a long journey from June to November 2009, when I posted my first article on my blog. Why did it take so long? Consider that I did all of the following:
- I carefully observed several other CPA bloggers and picked out things I liked and didn’t like from their blogs.
- I researched several CMSs and blogging platforms, including Joomla, Drupal, Blogger, and WordPress. I finally settled on using self-hosted WordPress so I could have total control over my blog and customize it as much as I like.
- I purchased my domain and web hosting after a few hours of researching several web hosting services.
- I installed WordPress on my web server.
- Among more than one thousand themes (or general designs) on the wordpress.org website, I had to choose my favorite. I then had to further customize my design so my blog wouldn’t look exactly like other blogs using the same theme.
- I installed several plugins and widgets (programs for backup, security, and sections of my blog, such as the Twitter and Google Reader feeds on the right sidebar).
- I started an account with Feedburner to create an RSS feed.
- I opened an account with Google Analytics and configured it to work with my blog, which I have discovered to be a great resource to see statistics of the traffic to my site.
- I also opened an account with Google Webmaster Tools to observe how Google indexes my blog.
- I created an “about me” page and a disclaimer (every blog should have one!)
- At this point, I started writing blog posts. Every blog post has to catch the reader’s attention, be informative, and be entertaining. I wouldn’t write anything I wouldn’t want to read myself! It’s not easy.
This might all sound overwhelming to someone who has never created a website. If you’re in this category, I have some good news. It doesn’t have to take months to start blogging. In fact, I created a simple blog using Blogger and finished it in about an hour. This blog (dustinwheelercpa.com) took me so long because I created it the hard way, and I’ve learned a lot in the process.