In 2012, I created my first website. You may remember from the blog post about My Journey that around five years ago I was trying to discover something I was passionate about.
One thing I'm passionate about is the Chicago Bears. I was excited about the 2012 season. They had just signed Pro Bowl Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall, so a playoff run wasn't out of the question. Blogging was also very popular then. It still is, but people were actually starting to make a living writing their own blog.
I decided to create a blog titled Chicago Bears Central. I wanted to build a community of Bears fans to engage with. I also was going to post my thoughts about the team throughout the season.
It was exciting to get the site up and running, but as the season went along I started to lose interest. The site ended after one season. I quickly lost the passion about writing about the Bears to the point it was hard to finish out the season.
I don't regret anything about creating that website. I learned a lot from my mistakes. Let me explain five mistakes I made during that time:
1) My domain name - I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the right name for my website. I finally decided on chicagobearscentral.com. The name is catchy, the domain was available at the time, so I was set to go, right? Wrong. One of the things I learned along the way is trademarks. I was a small site so the Bears probably never knew I existed. But, if my site grew into a really big community and I started monetizing off of it, there could have been problems. I tried to come up with ways to create a new domain without the Bears name in it, but I didn't want to lose my content if I transferred everything to a new site. I'm sure I could have done it, but as I said above my interest started to fizzle so I didn't pursue it any further.
2) Use of pictures - Here's another thing I had no idea about when I started. When I first created the blog, I was pulling pictures off of Google images of Bears players to use. A month or so into it, I was notified by a blogging friend of mine about Copyright issues. You can't just pull any picture of the web and use it on your site without permission or buying the rights. This was very frustrating for me because you need pictures on your site to make it look good. If you're starting a website there are copyright free images at websites like the Creative Commons section at Flickr. Fortunately, I contacted a Bears season ticket holder on Flickr and got permission to use his images throughout the season, but he wasn't a professional photographer by any means and he didn't go to road games. So frustrating.
3) Lack of vision - I created the site to blog about the Bears. But what kind of site was I going to be? Would I post about Breaking News or would I just write my thoughts post-game about the Bears? Would it be a multi-functional site or just a blog? I tried to do everything and I didn't have a focus. Of course I wasn't going to break news, but if I didn't get a post up about a new coach hire within an hour of it happening, I would ask myself why would anyone visit my site. I needed a focus and I lacked one.
4) Lack of passion - The Bears are my favorite NFL team. Always have been. I'm passionate about them, but it turns out I'm not passionate about writing about them. It was fun for the first month or so, but it started to become a chore writing my thoughts. I write this to help anyone that is considering starting a blog or business. You have to be 100% passionate about it for it to work. Sometimes, and this is the hard part, it takes starting something and it failing a few times before you can find your niche.
5) Too much competition - Turns out there are a lot of Bears blogs out there. Some really good ones too. I"m not saying if there's competition out there don't pursue it. But, you have to be all-in on the project. It will be a grind. You may even have to hustle for several years before making a mark or a dime if you are trying to make money. I know several bloggers that have done this and been successful but you have to realize it's a marathon not a sprint. You have to continue to publish your blog post even if the only one reading is your mom.
I write all these things because I want to help you if you are deciding to start a website or a blog. Like I said before, I made a lot of mistakes on my first website but I don't regret any of it because it was a great learning experience.
Comment below if you've had any experiences similar to mine.