I started my website in October 1998. At the time I was in between two studies and certainly didn’t lack any time. A friend of mine, who had recently started a website with royal genealogies, inspired me. He borrowed me a booklet about HTML and helped me starting the site up. Just imagine, I didn’t even have my own computer and just had learnt how to work with it. I simply worked from the library of the university of Groningen, of which I was a member. It turned out to be easier than I thought, and surprisingly more than 18 years later I am still there. Times have changed a lot. In 1998 there weren’t that many royal sites yet, and nowadays there are thousands of them.
When starting a blog or a website, there are a few things you have to think about. First you need to know what you want to write about, it should at least be something that interests you a lot yourself. For me that was simple. I loved royals and came up with a few ideas. The single princes and princesses pages turned out to be a huge success. I had a birthday calendar, started collecting royal news … the basic website is still more or less there, although over the years I have stopped with some pages, while I came up with other ideas. One thing: just don’t copy what everyone else is already doing. Make it your own, even when the theme is about the same.
Blogs became more and more popular in recent years and therefore in September 2012 I decided to start a blog too. Maintaining a website costs lots of time, and I hoped that a blog would make it easier to write somewhat shorter pieces of text and express my opinion about certain things. It is also a good way to share my own photos and experiences with others. It was not until quite recently that I, inspired by Moniek of History of Royal Women and some others, started posting more often. It turns out it is rather fun, although I wouldn’t mind a few more likes and comments on the blog itself.
There have always been free hosts for websites and blogs. Where in the past you needed to use either Word or have some HTML knowledge, nowadays, all you have to do – at least when you have a blog – is to write your text, add some photos and post it. When you’re not quite sure what to do yet, a free host is the easiest and best way to start. Just look at what others use. But if you’re ambitious, buy yourself your own domain name, with a catchy name of course, that is not too long and easy to remember. A nice design would be lovely, but it is the content that counts most. Maybe you know someone who would like to design your site for you, or you pay someone to do it. Blog hosts like mine offer lots of free and paid themes that you can use and often alter.
As soon as you have started, a bit of advertising on Facebook, Twitter or forums could help you attracting visitors, but don’t overdo by sending the same links over and over again. And, oh yes, check your texts. Your English (or whatever language you write in) doesn’t have to be perfect – it is not my native tongue either – but at least try not to make too much typos and spelling mistakes, especially not in the headers of posts. In the past I have even seen websites that had a mistake in the main title!
Some advice: please, write your own texts and don’t just copy what others have written. It is much more rewarding writing your own stuff, instead of stealing the work of others, who have surely spent lots of time on writing and researching. You might have noticed that I only use my own photos, photos of friends I am allowed to use and photos released to the press on this blog and also on my website. Professional photographers are not exactly happy that people spread their photos all over the internet, often even without mentioning sources. Remember it is their work and they do it for a living. When they find them some might well send you a nasty email with the question to remove the pictures or even ask you to pay for them. There are photo agencies nowadays, like for example Getty Images, who allow you to embed some of their pictures into your website. By the way, even when you’re an amateur, it is not OK for people, but also not for media, to take over your pictures and texts without permission.