Blog Prefect Situation Report January 2017

Firstly, Happy New Year, I hope you all had a great festive season however you celebrate! 2016 was a year of ups and downs (I’m not talking politically) so it is good to finally see a new year in.  They say you shouldn’t wish your life away and that is definitely true. I always like to think of a New Year starting as a prime time for a renewal of interest in all things.

On Blog Prefect I have stepped away from publishing purely seasonal articles mostly because they don’t have longevity. If Blog Prefect was a news site I would rely more on seasonality in my marketing mix. This is a little departure to inform you of what is going on with the blog. Undoubtedly this article will date so I will only be leaving it up until the end of March this year.

There are a number of elements to address in this report so without further ado, let’s get into it.

Traffic Reports

The Blog Prefect Traffic reports are my most fun element of writing for BlogPrefect.com. I have developed dashboards, get to interact with all of the analytic goodies and generally talk over the data. I enjoy stats a great deal, doesn’t have to be mine. I have always been a statistic fan.

These are officially on Hiatus for a number of reasons:

Anomalous Data

There was a period during the Trump election where data, especially on Google Analytics, became very unreliable due to an attack by, you guessed it, Russians. The Trump election wasn’t the only sign of dodgy dealings so lay down your Kalashnikov. There were some other unpleasant marketing ploys which have warped the analytical data. It will take me a while to sterilise the infected elements. When producing my dashboards I rely on two sources of data, one of those is compromised at this time.

Low Numbers

My readership of this blog has dropped to a whimper. Part of this is my own fault for not pushing more content and doing more to keep the tribe moving. Otherwise my competition is doing better so I am bound to take a hit.

My Concern

I often feel that my Traffic Reports, whilst informative, take out the wooden bat on myself and beat me. Also, as posts are in short supply at the moment they become the only post some months which doesn’t look great.

Blog Re-tuning

Last year I performed a mass effort to clear deadwood and non-performing posts. I’ve deleted a lot of content. Some of this content occasionally scored hits which provided me some inflow of visitors. They just happened to be the type that didn’t gel with my other content. Until I have more of the right material on the blog, I need to improve what I already have.

Until I feel that the traffic is making a positive bounce Traffic reports will be on hold until further notice. I will still continue to record data and generate monthly dashboards but they will not be on public view.

Image/Logo

I will be refreshing the logo this year to aid with branding efforts. I will be continuing to use the FIMO related picture logo but will create a new scheme for this year with some alternate colours.

Social branding will be uniform.

Watermarks will be applied to personally produced images. (I will be continuing to use Pixabay images.)

Theme

I am quite happy still with the Premium Clicky theme. It does everything I need it to beyond the defaults that were provided with the WordPress install.

Welcome Page

This area needs work as I feel by the data presented that it is a poor converter to viewings. I will be revealing more on this during 2017.

General Feel

I have grown a little distant from BlogPrefect.com over recent time owing to the fact that post-graduation I’ve had a lot to rekindle. I aim to return the sense of fun I initially had with this blog back when I started in June of 2013.

Part of my major plan going forwards is to complete my first science fiction novel. It is currently residing in a 3rd draft status and moving along well.

For BlogPrefect.com over the past year I had really enjoyed some participation between Ahmad Imran and Eli Seekins and want to make this flourish and hopefully carry this interaction on going forwards but with new faces also. I have also enjoyed Twitter immensely whilst Google+ has dwindled.

Current BP project

I’m putting together a toolkit for new bloggers at this time to cover off on a blog post I floated in December. This toolkit will feature in the Resources page and may replace the welcome page.

This was entitled 7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January. I have one of these steps covered in detail so far and am not far off launching it. The next will follow.

 

A Callout to You the Viewer

This site is not intended for my own pleasure so if you have a burning desire for something to be covered in detail regards blogging (or any of its constituent activities) feel free to contact me.

headboy@blogprefect.com

Via twitter on @blogprefect

Even leave a message in the comments.

7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January

You could potentially be reading this article at any time of the year, even January itself. You might be holding off on getting things done because you want to get the blog just right. Blogging is popular and is netting people profit, notoriety and attention.

“It is not easy” will be a phrase you read a few times in this article. If it was easy it wouldn’t be an enriching challenge. Anyone can blog but not everyone can blog well enough to get their name in lights.

Launching a new blog in January is going to be a breeze right?

The ‘Hypercompetition Sea’

My favourite developed idea for the kind of competition you are up against in the blogging world is the Hypercompetition Sea.

Competition is one thing but when there are no barriers to entry, you enter this overwhelming ocean of competition. I neatly refer to this crushing crowd of voices shouting around you as the Hypercompetition sea.

If you haven’t been living under a rock you know that in Star Wars they have a hyperdrive; it’s not just a drive, it’s so much more!

Step 1 Plan First

Plan your empire!

  • Before you decide on anything, plan first.

I could leave this tip as one sentence because it is enough but you should plan if you are going to spend hard-earned cash on the infrastructure you are going to need to become successful.

I filled two A5 journals before I launched my blog. Without that creative thought it wouldn’t have started with the warmth that it did.

I asked myself a lot of questions. Tried to answer them as best as I could. When I felt confident I moved on.

Don’t go cold into anything. Yes you’ll learnt a lot but you’ll also have far more regrets which leads neatly to:

Step 2 Research

Dip your head in the books

Research is critical. Businesses perform extensive research before launching brands to ensure that they are hitting the right future buyer for their product. These businesses may have to adjust their product to cater better to what is available in the market.

A/ Know Your Market

A market differs slightly to your target audience in that you could be offering a product or service which even an un-engaged reader would be interested in. You have to know who the big players in your chosen niche are, and by observation, determine what works and what doesn’t.

You are not looking to copy but more to find the gaps that those big players leave. There is always an angle you can fill if you look hard enough. There is always a chunk you can tear off for yourself. It just takes time.

B/ Know Your Audience

Your audience is your raving fans. You need to know how to keep them engaged and returning. Audience retention is the core activity of your blog and it is not easy. In order to get yourself ready for the challenge ahead, you must have a target audience member in mind.

My friend Ahmad Imran over at Reasontouse.com goes into detail about Audience Profiles. I think that you can learn a lot from this. Click this link to open this insightful post in a new window.

Step 3 Ask Yourself Can you Commit?

Commit or don't

Whilst I’ve made every effort to streamline and make blogging easy for myself, it takes time.

You will be spending a lot of your time:

  • Developing content
  • Developing networks
  • Developing the brand
  • Developing your sell

Determining whether you are well placed to do that will depend on:

  • Your personal level of motivation
  • How resistant you are to feeling the crushing blow of defeat
  • How open you are to advice, no matter how painful
  • Your ability to battle it out when you just don’t feel in the mood
  • Planning ahead during the good times to avoid the crash in the bad

Even if you are a woman, you’ve got to have some balls. You need to have grit. You need to dig in.

Think of blogging as a campaign. Even an email marketing platform uses the word “campaign” to refer to your endless stream of articles. The important thing to note is that each post is a battle. You will lose some, more so in the early days, but eventually you’ll start winning the war.

You might think, why this step here? You won’t know how committed you are to a subject until you’ve explored it’s potential first.

Step 4 Try Out Some Free Blogging in a Different Subject

Try it out

It is tempting to diverge. Divergence is the one way to kill your blog in the long-term.

  • Focus is important.

The word ‘niche’ is banded around. You will hear it more and more as you develop your blog. A niche is your unique position within a field of discussion. As you laser target your blog, your niche will tighten to a razor-sharp focus because you will start to understand the unique areas that you can capitalise on where other bloggers can’t.

The trouble is, there are those topics you want to write about that aren’t beneficial to your audience as a whole. They may be your own personal passions but cannot be used as a good way to relate your audience to your content aim.

Therefore I suggest you start out blogging on a free platform and get into the habit of what you have to do to make a bigger splash, draw more engagement, and layout your thoughts.

Why Free?

The free platforms start out with a pre-made audience. Audience on your fresh blog that you plan to start may not reach the numbers you hope.

In order to be encouraged in your writing endeavours, and determine whether you can stick with it; I recommend you join WordPress or Medium.

These platforms come with a large amount of readers already so you can trial your style and tweak with basic elements of your writing without making investment. It is a way to make a name for yourself and to start enticing engagement.

Note: The free platform audience is not necessarily as amenable to your work as an audience you generate through your own efforts. You will find that on free platforms a lot of the audience are other bloggers. Rivals may not necessarily be the individuals that you will want to make that final sale to. This audience might be the kind that gives you access to visibility or looks to steal good ideas.

Here Comes the Decision

You are now committed.

The engine is about to be started.

Your driving gloves are on.

Your foot is poised on the accelerator pedal.

Step 5 Your Domain Name is Critical

Critical Domain Name

Always Chose .Com!

You have to make sure that the name you are after is free to use and that you aren’t going to infringe on copyrights before you go ahead and start using it.

My friend Eli Seekins over at LaunchYourDream.Com has a great guide about picking domain names. Click this link to open a new window for a great article.

A/ Register Your Name as Soon as You Have Decided

These names can be swallowed up quickly so if you see the perfect name is available, purchase it as soon as you can.

B/ .com or Something Else?

I would always recommend .com because with .com you reach the world. I would only recommend a localised URL if you are targeting a localised demographic. Depending on how diverse your blog intends to be, having the possibility to touch your site out to the world gives you opportunities.

  • A lot of people speak English that aren’t from America/UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand/Africa/India
  • A lot of Ex-pats live in foreign countries

Step 6 Have Several Blog Posts Ready to Go

Ready to Rock!

Having a suite of posts ready saves you time out of the gate. If you can have at the minimum, 3 posts, this gives you the opportunity to make some key adjustments to your blog without being in a rush to produce content.

Being in a rush, especially if you are working in a full-time job, leads to bad quality and you want your first couple of posts to move people*. You need some good quality to lead you out of the gate.

*You want all your posts to move people but you have to take into account that occasionally you’ll produce sub-par content. Your first 3 posts need to have some substantial useful content. Think of it as the launching trajectory, you don’t want to fire into the ground.

Step 7 Start Making Friends

Friends make life easier

You can start making friends before you get going. If you are still working on the content you can start getting into the kinds of circles your content is likely to be reaching.

You can start to gauge what’s hot, what’s not and what’s meh.

It is possible to start your social media elements before your blog. I remember suggesting this before and one gentleman was so flabbergasted by this “outrageous” idea that they went into length about how wrong I was. The truth is you can put the cart before the horse for a little bit.

A conversation can often be just as valuable as a post.

Other Ideas to Consider

Determine Your Launch Month

January may not be your niche’s best time to start out of the gate. You can have just as good a start in June or July. I started BlogPrefect.com in mid June of 2013 and received a better start than Jackowrites.com which launched in December.

Doing your research should indicate when there are likely to be peaks in interest. Use this data to be strategic with your launch.

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect in the Beginning

  • You are going to make derps, fails and brain farts.

Blogging is an evolutionary journey so you may eventually wipe the slate on that crappy image or rubbish sentence.

Own your mistake.

Learn from it.

Move on.

Take it All With Good Humour

You are the boss and you have enjoy what you are doing. Blogging is work, work can get dry sometimes. Try to inject fun in what you produce and put zest into your work.

At times you are going to have to be serious and lay ideas out as straight as you can. Where you are permitted to lighten the mood, go all in.

Try a Few Things That Experts Tell You Not to Do

Blogs are unique in that what works for one blog doesn’t necessarily work for another. As your audience builds, you’ll have a unique audience that likes your content a certain way. In order to determine what is working best you have to experiment.

  • It is important not to harbour pre-conceptions about what is expected of your blog.
  • You don’t know until you try.

The early days of blogging provide the best opportunity to make big experiments. As your blog starts to mature, you can upset your audience when you make big changes. Whilst you have a small audience you have few people to alienate.

Note: One proviso is that you don’t over experiment. As you can guess, it will become difficult for your audience to feel warm if the seas (your blog) are choppy. Limiting experiments to targeted areas is better.

Don’t Clone, Innovate!

It is very easy to make your blog/website like every other in the niche. You can have every decoration that your neighbour has on their tree. The problem is it won’t make you stand out as a different voice.

As a successful future blogger you need your own unique blend. Don’t keep up with the Jones’s. Push the fringes of your topic, you may then find the perfect sub-niche to dominate!

Buy Yourself a Decent Notepad or Journal

Keep a Journal so you Don't have to remember!

They say that handwriting is dead but I believe not. I swear by handwriting some notes every so often, whether it is progress, ideas, websites, words of encouragement or new experiments to try out. I even have award stickers to make the process fun. Yeah, I’m a big kid but this job is the one you can enjoy!

As you write, you realise where you were and where you’ve come to. Some ideas may not have had the best shape in the past but one little jog can provide you an idea for a post or something more.

A Kind Courtesy

Please share this post if you felt it was insightful and useful.

Feel very welcome to leave me a comment, especially if you feel there was more that I could have mentioned.

I lurk on Twitter and would love to hear from you.

 

Image Credits

Note: All images have been modified. All are covered under CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay. I have only attributed to pay a courtesy to Pixabay and the creators of these images.

Featured image by Unsplash via Pixabay

Drafting image by Pexels via Pixabay

Book Door image by Ninocare via Pixabay

Wet Ring image by Josemdelaa via Pixabay

Bald Eagle image by FlashBuddy via Pixabay

Domain image by EStudioWebDoce via Pixabay

Letters image by Andrys via Pixabay

Doggy pals image by Herney via Pixabay

Notepad image by DariuszSankowski via Pixabay

5 Reasons Why Bloggers Should Use a Never Publish Folder

As a blogger, you are ultimately going to commit your writing to your CMS (content management system) at some point. Many bloggers write straight into the editor and then may either publish the work or leave it in draft for a time.

As you grow as a blogger it becomes more important to think about the big picture. The big picture consists of, but is not limited to:

 

  • Niche
  • Direction
  • Brand
  • Community
  • Values

 

When you start making account for all of this, you may start to drive your drafting back into a Word Document, Pages, an Email or a Notepad file.

Placing your work in compartmentalised folders allows you to organise what you are producing.

As a blogger you will realise that keeping a schedule is hard and that you have to ‘keep the meat filling the sausage’. It can be tough at times and I am no stranger to the ups and downs of trying to maintain a schedule.

Down to the 5 reasons of why to keep that all important ‘Never Publish’ folder

Reason 1: Eliminating Poor Quality

Sometimes you are not on your ‘A’ game. It is inevitable that you are going to reach a point of poor quality.

Green/Newbie bloggers do push out a lot of garbage along with their good posts in the first year of blogging. It is part of wearing the T-Shirt. You have to experiment in order to understand what your audience likes best out of the boundaries of what you are covering. Over-posting is common in order for you to gain traction with an audience, a lot of that hard work will be wiped away because certain articles just don’t cover the depth that the audience needs to find satisfying. You should be able to get a sense of what your audience reacts to and what they find uninspiring.

 

Reason 2: Eliminating Jumping on the Band Wagon

gellinger-band-wagon

It is dangerous to jump on the band wagon. You have to know what you are talking about. The other major issue with the band wagon is that most of the time, it was somebody else who creatively thought to ask the questions and somebody other than you to provide the answers. You could be late to the party, so late that you don’t get any warmth from what you’ve written.

There are those entrepreneurs who have made a fortune by making clones of popular services. Nothing is immune from reverse engineering. You’ll find that if you strike on something good, you will get a competitor analyse it before too long. That shouldn’t put you off trying though. It is normally the person who was best able to make something work first who gets the warmth from it. Everyone else gets an ever decreasing share of that warmth.

What you could end up with if you straight copy is a bland experience, ultimately forgettable to your audience.

Forget following the masses. Be original.

 

Reason 3: Avoid “Jumping The Shark”

fonzie_jumps_the_shark“Jumping the Shark” is a pop culture reference; it dates back to a sitcom called Happy Days where the Fonz literally jumps a shark with a pair of water skis. The truth was that Happy Days was suffering a sustained drop in ratings and in order to keep the show ticking over the shark jump was added as a gimmick. It was seen as a departure from the show’s spirit. Such a gimmick can be cited, in more modern settings, as the point where creative evolution declines or where the style change takes it away from what made it great in the first place, a shadow of its former self.

One of the major challenges with blogging is keeping the tone and intent the same whilst moving with the times. There are periods when you write something you hope encapsulates the passion for your topic but more often than not falls flat or lands out-of-bounds for your niche. Blogging has a difficulty in that owing to ‘hypercompetition’ the boundaries of niches are much smaller than they were in the old days. You can talk about a great deal in a blog but be washed away with the masses.

It is tempting to try to seek that one post that will change your fortunes but in truth you do better when you continually tweak your everyday to make it better. It’s about leaving no weak links.

 

Reason 4: Avoiding Inflammatory Personal Digs

There is a difference between opposing viewpoints and making a personal attack. On most occasions we can be relied upon to make the right call, tread the right balance of not destroying a person entirely. Sometimes on a rare occasion our objectivity towards a person can erode beyond a point where we are rational. We can enter a state where it is likely that we will do our own self-image harm if we engage in debunks.

It is important to remember that not everybody has the same moral and ethical code that we have. We can’t be friends with everybody in life, it just doesn’t happen. It is important not to get into tit-for-tat situations because they can quickly escalate. Self-image as a blogger is quite important because many bloggers sell through the positive influence that they exude. Whilst you can sell a lot on negativity consider what gain you will receive out of an attack. Sometimes it is better to put the guns back in the holsters even if that bandit is calling you a chicken.

These provocative situations need to be kept under a lid. It is right for you to defend yourself but it is much better to do this person to person or email to email rather than involve your audience.

Reason 5: It All Acts As A Reminder To Self

The best way to prevent making mistakes is to have some form of log of the stuff you have vowed never to release. You will discover by a quick glance, the kind of situations you know you shouldn’t have gone into further detail about and it will hopefully prompt you not to make the same mistake again. Obviously it can be tough to quarantine any work indefinitely, especially after so much work has been dedicated.

If you are running off niche topic in a big way then quarantine is the best answer. You could spark negative issues by going off topic which have long-lasting effect to your audience and their satisfaction.

 

BlogPrefect’s Never Publish Folder

In over 3 years of writing I organise BlogPrefect post drafts (outside of the editor) into three buckets.

Bucket 1: Unpublished

These are the posts that are not fully fledged thoughts just yet, they are awaiting enough content to be transferable to the CMS (WordPress in my case). I try to keep this bucket’s contents small, mostly because every extra file and folder in this bucket becomes potentially wasted time. As a blogger, the less wasted time you have, the better.

Bucket 2: Published

Once the unpublished becomes published I move the drafts over into the published folder where they may sit for a time until I archive the post after it no longer drives meaningful traffic. Reviewing published posts is an important staple of blog management. Often you can find a lot of ideas from seeing the gaps in what you have written before. A lot about becoming more successful in a niche hangs on how you fill out the gaps that other bigger bloggers have left behind (the clearing in the wood).

Bucket 3: Never Publish

This metaphorical bucket is the nub of this article.

This third bucket is a sub-bucket of Bucket 1. There are certain times when I may have committed some time to writing a draft but later realise that what I am writing about may cause issues, is just not what I should be writing about or just isn’t that engaging to read for a would-be visitor.

 

At time of writing I have 5 ‘never publish’ articles sitting in this bucket. I’ll talk you through each one:

 

Don’t Upset a Hipster Geek

Sadly this was a non-relevant blog post. I belong to a science fiction group on Google+ and got into a bit of a spat with a certain individual about a piece of art (made from Lego) depicting an AT-AT walker. I am suffering some severe Star Wars fatigue, mostly from the very poor prequel quality and a massive merchandise drive. Cutting a long story short, we managed to have a civil conversation about it but we both agreed to disagree.

I wasn’t really sure how I was going to steer this article to be relevant for BlogPrefect.Com. This may have suited JackoWrites.Com better although ultimately it was a personal experience and one that you had to be there to get the full benefit from.

Word Count 1031 – First started on 26th July 2013

 

Great Expectations Legacy

This article followed another similarly titled piece. It was meant to cover in detail the issues with a game called The Sims 4. I decided to abandon this because whilst the original did well, it was off topic.

This article also came too late after the fact and there seems to be a lack of criticism web-wide on The Sims 4. You only tend to find true rants on YouTube.

Word Count 3925 – First started on 4th September 2014

 

How Not To Treat Your Customers

This was a piece on EA and Bioware, obviously as with the above post, it was not relevant to this niche but unlike the article above, I only committed 807 words to it so it wasn’t as big a loss overall. The article went into detail about how EA and Bioware made a chronic miss-step in their franchises, specifically Mass Effect which had the worst third installment. EA had also killed the Sim City franchise with a critical online only error, symptomatic of their need to greed. Many Sims fans are concerned that they are doing this to the Sims franchise as well.

Whilst a passionate article it was not suitable on BlogPrefect.Com for the audience I was trying to attract.

Word Count 807 – First started on 23rd August 2013

 

“Brian Randolph”

Brian Randolph is both a sinner and a saint.

I’ve had to change the name on this article because it was again, a personal look at someone who had been a patron on BlogPrefect.com during my stellar year.

Brian Randolph, known by another name, was a prolific responder. He spent the best part of a month replying to every article I posted during a very heavy posting month. He was the only commenter who consistently made comment on every post. In that way he was a saint.

I had deep concerns about Mr Randolph. It seemed even Enstine Muki agreed when he laid down his own scathing criticism at a number of frauds including Brian roughly two years ago (although recently he’s changed his tune). Brian was into some pretty shady business practices including a Pyramid/Ponzi scheme (rebranded as MLM).

I had started writing a praising article about him and his website but couldn’t pull the trigger. He was tainted by this MLM business. I can’t tell you too much more because if you garner too much detail you’ll know who Brian Randolph actually is. He gets around a lot.

The problem is, I like Brian. He’s a nice guy, a Buddhist with plenty of wisdom about blogging. He’s written several million words in his long blogging career and some of his books have been used by University lecturers in respectable colleges in the USA.

He still carries that taint and I don’t entirely trust him as a result. It’s why I didn’t deepen the relationship even though it may have meant “cutting my nose off to spite my face”.

Word Count 441 – First started on 6th August 2014

*If you head over to Enstine’s site at the moment you might catch a glimpse of Brian but if you come to this article in a couple of months time he may be less visible.

 

Using the Community for Help – Zero Second Bounce

As you may know by now, I love statistics. Statistical information rocks so having the opportunity to look at graphs and charts, dripping with statistical butter, makes my mouth salivate. Okay, maybe that’s a bit strong – you get the idea.

During my early first year with BlogPrefect.com I covered a lot on my statistics. Google Analytics was a favourite hangout zone for me and I would expend a long time looking at this data in intrigue.

The article felt like a bit of a stretch. The Zero Second Bounce referred to readers who had not even spent 1 second looking at my content. I later found out that GA is a bit harsher than other statistical measures in that it struck people off the list if they only viewed 1 page on entry to the site before leaving. The problem was that I was floundering on this topic because I didn’t know what I was talking about. I didn’t have the knowledge to form a useful frame for knowledgeable GA users. In other words readers would see through my shallow words. This article got parked.

Word Count 534 – First started on 19th July 2013

 

In Conclusion

There are more than five reasons why you should have a ‘Never Publish’ folder. Something to always remember with these list type articles is that the most important facts rise to the top, but there can be more reasons lurking underneath. You may be shocked to know that over on www.jackowrites.com I list a massive group of novel ideas that I quarantined indefinitely (around 700 hours worth by rough estimation). I had to do this in order to move on and complete novels.

The truth is that sometimes you have to enact the cutting blade to ensure you maintain quality. Don’t be afraid to park work that doesn’t meet the standard but if it is something that you think you need to be reminded of, don’t delete it. Nothing is ever truly a waste.

 

Sharing is Caring

If you have enjoyed, can relate to, or have found this article useful then please share.

You can contact me at headboy@blogprefect.com or hit me up over at Twitter

 

Image Credits

Featured image source by Tookapic via Pixabay

Happy Days, “Fonzi” image located from Wikipedia under fair use.

Wagon with horses image by Gellinger via Pixabay

FastMail MX Record Setup BlueHost

BlogPrefect.com switched from the mail systems provided by BlueHost to redirecting the MX records to FastMail. This was done primarily for visibility and consolidation purposes. I shall be taking you through a How To on redirecting your MX records to point to FastMail from BlueHost. This guide also includes the step to include the DKIM signing key.

FastMail MX Record Setup BlueHost

This guide provides some assistance on setting up your MX record on BlueHost server end so that you can use FastMail to manage your email. The steps are fairly straightforward, you just have to wait some time when the MX records are updated.

  • Estimated time to change the code: 10 minutes.
  • Ease of coding: Easy to Moderate.
  • Time for the record changes to cascade through: Upto 24 hours.

Before getting started:

  • Make sure you have your domain username and password to hand.
  • Make sure you have your FastMail username and password to hand.

Notes and Disclaimer

Note 1: This change is considered “highly visible”. The exact words that FastMail uses. This means that you should schedule making this change when there is less activity. A good time is at night when you are receiving less email.

Note 2: The Subdomain I have that rests underneath BlogPrefect.com doesn’t have a subdomain MX Record setting like the one displayed in FastMail with the form of maindomain.subdomain.com. It appears as its own DNS record in the DNS zone editor on BlueHost, therefore it is considered its own domain for the purposes of email. This means you have to setup a new domain on FastMail.com and edit the MX records on the host.

Note 3: If you are hosted elsewhere (not BlueHost) these instructions can still work but please note that some of the settings such as “Host Record” may use a different character than @.

Note 4: For my own privacy and security I have redacted my host details and the DKIM signing key in the images displayed.

Disclaimer: I do not assume responsibility for any changes you make to your DNS record. If you are unsure of how to proceed I recommend you consult with a professional before continuing.

Disclaimer: FastMail is a paid email service and after a trial period will cost a fee.

Stage 1: FastMail Setup (The Easy Part)

1. Access “Settings” from the top left drop down.
2. Select “Domains” on the left hand side menu.
3. Click the “Add Domain” button.

Stage 1

Note that in this picture I already have my main Domain at BlueHost setup. Your version will be blank if you have not yet set up your domain.

 

4. Add your domain, e.g. example.com, you don’t need the www.

FastMail Settings 2

 

5. Press “Save” when complete.

Stage 1 Complete.

Stage 2: Make a Note of the FastMail DNS Required Settings

1. Press Edit on the Domain

p3

Note: you won’t get a unique DKIM signing key if you don’t save the Domain first. This is an auto generated alphanumeric long chain code that is hard to break.

2. Press “Show DNS settings”

This link can be easy to miss.

This link can be easy to miss.

3. Make a note of these settings, leave the window open so that you can copy and paste them later.

You will need these 4 settings. 2 are MX, 2 are TXT.

You will need these 4 settings. 2 are MX, 2 are TXT.

Stage 2 Complete.

Stage 3: Edit/Add the DNS entries to the MX record in BlueHost

Note: You can do these out of order if you wish as long as you have amended 1 MX and 1 TXT entry and added 1 MX and 1 TXT entry.

1. Login to BlueHost
2. Go to Domains > Zone Editor

Domains > Zone Editor BlueHost

3. Select your domain from the drop down (if you have more than one). The page will expand to show you the DNS records.

Select Domain

4. Scroll down to MX (Mail Exchanger)

MX Records on BlueHost

5. Edit the first record by clicking edit. The default is set to Priority 0. You will be changing the priority to 10 and changing the points to field to FastMail’s SMTP mail engine.

Edit BlueHost

6. Enter the following, then press save.

After Edit Bhost

7. Scroll up to “Add DNS Record” and enter the following, then press add record. This will add the priority 20 element of the SMTP mail engine for FastMail.

Add P20 MX Bhost

8. Edit this TXT entry for SPF by scrolling down to TXT. SPF helps prevent spam.

Edit SPF Bhost

9. Paste in the “txt value” and press save. You will cut and paste this info from FastMail.

Edit SPF Bhost P2

10. For DKIM Scroll up to “Add DNS Record” and enter the following, then press “add record”. DKIM is another spam protection feature.

Note: The Host Record is mesmtp._domainkey, The txt value is the really long chain of alphanumeric code that begins “v=DKIM1; k=RSA; p=

DKIM Key

11. When complete you should see the following:

Records Complete

Stage 3 Complete.

Stage 4: Await Confirmation

Await your Confirmation, you will see when you go into Settings>Domains in FastMail that it has been approved. If you’ve made a hash of things you’ll have to check what you entered at BlueHost’s end.

FastMail Domain Active

You should receive this email from FastMail:-

FastMail DNS Confirmation Email

If you don’t receive this email, something went wrong. Propagation doesn’t take as long as 48 hours normally. Mine was ready in less than an hour.

If you did make a major mistake or in future want to leave FastMail, you can return the records back to the BlueHost default by pressing this button:

Reset Zone File

The default will direct all mail back to its original destination.

Stage 5: Setting Up Aliases

You will need to set up your aliases in order to send and receive as different personas of your domain. E.g. sales@example.com

I will show you how to setup 1 alias, then you just need to rinse and repeat.

1. Go to FastMail Settings > Aliases and Press “New Alias”.

Alias Screen - FastMail

2. Enter your new alias in the Email Box. Select the drop down to the right after the ‘@’ sign to select the correct domain if you have more than one. Press “Save” when you are done.

Add New Alias Screen - FastMail

3. The information will take 15 minutes to update so be patient. This 15 minutes will apply to each Alias.

15 minute wait. FastMail.

4. FastMail recommends that you add Abuse and Postmaster as two default aliases. This is so that spam issues can be mitigated. Other good suggestions include your  First Name, Sales, Support and Info.

5. Test your new email addresses by sending from another account. Make sure you can send and receive without errors.

Stage 5 Complete.

 

In Closing

I hope you found this guide useful. There is nowhere specifically written to take you through this process so I hope this has provided a sufficient short cut. If there are any refinements you think are needed or you hit a log-jam with your setup, let me know.

 

Sharing is Caring

Please share this with the world, not only to help your fellow man and woman but also because I asked nicely. You can use the sharing links to the left from SumoMe.

If you’d like to get in contact with me regarding this guide, you can leave a comment below, you can DM me on Twitter by following this link, or you can send an email to headboy [at] blogprefect.com.

Happy Emailing 🙂

 

Image Credits

  • FastMail Screenshots depict UI from FastMail.com and have been used for illustrative purposes only. The FastMail logo is copyright of FastMail.com.
  • BlueHost Screenshots depict UI from BlueHost.com and have been used for illustrative purposes only. The BlueHost logo is copyright of BlueHost.com.