Saturday, June 19, 2010

Don't be scared to jump in to social media

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Friday, June 18, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Metro section

Don't be intimidated by social media: A blog post that an online friend made earlier this week really made me think. After much thought and contemplation, Ray Hiltz ( has finally started his journey into working full-time in the world of social media, blogging, etc. He's articulate, thoughtful and can write. So, why not?

Well, the fear of having to be perfect was holding him back in expanding his online efforts. I can certainly relate. But at some point, you just have to jump in and make your mistakes, learn from them and move on.

The point is that no one has ever learned a lesson when they were being perfect. We only learn lessons from the mistakes we've made in life - and online.

There's nothing as sad as untapped potential, and it's become abundantly clear that people with few technical skills and little money can now be in business for themselves online. Through the creation of information products, the promotion of others' products through affiliate marketing, creating original content that others find useful, and by cross-marketing all of these initiatives through your blog, video and audio, you can make money online. You just have to do it.

I'm no exception to this - and neither are you if it's something you want to do. There are teenagers out there right now making good, legitimate, honest money online from doing just what I described above. They don't know a world without the Internet.

They'll also never know having a boss telling them to be in certain places at certain times. They'll get paid for their efforts. They'll get paid for their ingenuity. And the more they do, the better paid they'll get.

For us older folks, making money online is a bit more of a challenge. Personally, I've made a little bit - and by a little bit I literally mean a little bit - of money online, but I know that the potential is for so much more. Content creators and writers have it easy in that department - they know how to write and it comes easily to them - but their lack of technical skills sometimes holds them back in their online business goals.

Personally, Ray's blog post hit home. I've been paying hosting fees for a new online social media-related blog for nearly a year. The fee isn't a lot - about $10 per month, but $10 per month for something that's not being updated is a waste of time and embarrassing, especially when the domain name is your own personal brand.

So, what was the delay? I can tell you right now... it was the fear of making mistakes and the fear that things wouldn't be just "perfect."

It's OK to make mistakes online. I rant often about mistakes made by others in their use of social media, but it's the continuation of mistakes after they're pointed out that is the real problem. Social media is so new to so many that we're all bound to make mistakes. I've made them and will continue to make them, but that's no excuse not to start.

If you have a company or are an individual who's thinking of starting an online business, a blog, or diving in to the social media sphere, do yourselves a favour: just do it. When people point out mistakes, fix them and move on. The online world is not a place for perfectionists. Typos on websites can be fixed in 10 seconds and no one will ever know the difference, but not having a blog because you're afraid of typos is like not driving a car because it might get a scratch. It's going to happen. Just accept it and move on. You can correct typos and factual errors in a heartbeat - just own up to them.

Learning to use WordPress: One of the reasons why my new blog has taken so long to get started is that I was intimidated by learning WordPress, a free blogging platform used by millions around the world. It's not impossible to learn, but if you're a bit of technophobe and used to more visual (and idiot-proof) kinds of blog layout platforms (like Blogger), it can seem a bit intimidating at first.

If you want to make your learning curve a bit easier, I suggest investing in a premium WordPress theme. You can start from scratch, of course, which can be quite intimidating, or you can get your hands on a theme and incorporate it onto your WordPress blog. This will give you some basic layout already done and you can tweak things from there. There are lots of free ones, but the best ones (for more serious bloggers) are "premium" themes that you pay for.

The Thesis theme is probably the best known of the premium themes these days. I purchased it last year and never could get my head around it.

Maybe it was my own "paralysis of analysis" attitude when it came to my blog, or maybe because it was for slightly more advanced users than me. Whatever the case, while many in the world swear by it, I eventually abandoned it - and wasted my money - because it wasn't right for me. Thankfully, I recently found Headway, a new premium theme that is taking the world by storm and scoring higher on many reviewers' lists than Thesis. After much research, I got my credit card out and bought Headway. I have not regretted my decision for a second. For a newbie to WordPress like me, Headway was easy to use, very visual and helped get me over the WordPress phobia I'd been suffering for a year.

In only a couple of hours, I went from a blog that looked like garbage to one that was presentable. It's not finished yet and it's only starting - and not even officially launched, but I'm miles ahead of where I was - and in only a couple of days. I'm happy and motivated.

Check out if you want a sneak peek! I'll be sharing more of my blogging journey in the weeks ahead. And to those out there thinking of starting a blog, go for it! If you do it right, it may just put a few pennies in your pocket.


gsr said...

Inspiring yet common sense post. Totally on the money. A site of mine has ground to a halt simply because I guess I have done too much research on it and built up way too many content files.

Time to just do it.

As you say, just get started.

Julia said...

Hi Brian, good article. I agree that custom themes are a good idea - as a woman, I hate going to an event and seeing someone wearing the same outfit as I am, same goes for Wordpress themes. You and your readers might find this link of use, it helps you generate custom Wordpress and Blogspot themes and it's affordable. You could change your theme each week if you wished. #1 Wordpress Theme Generator. Instantly create great looking and professional Wordpress Themes.