Becoming a Better Blog
So I've had this blog for a while now. Since late 2008, in fact. the Urban Dater was actually the very first website I ever built with WordPress. My day time job actually isn't slamming the punanny all day from girls I meet on OkCupid. I know. Shocking. I'm actually a full-time WordPress developer. The only blogging I really do is on this site. Which is kinda sad, because I would love to talk about other shit for once, but this is what I make time for. I want to make a better blog and I want you to do the same!
A lot of effort goes into making this “go” and it's gotten “a little” easier over the past year or so; shedding dead-weight, changing philosophies and, really, just being consistent has helped increase this site's traffic and subsequent audience. But it's not some sort of mystical voodoo or anything like that. Being consistent has been the biggest difference maker, for starters. But, the other part? Making a couple solid tech decisions along the way. I'm going to share those decisions with you and tell you about what I use. Maybe you already use these tools or maybe you don't. I hope that this helps you out.
When an Experiment Gets REAL!
This site, for along time, didn't really make money and I didn't pay it the attention it deserved. But I needed to make a change. So I got more serious about the Urban Dater. You see, this site was an experiment to learn SEO. But it quickly morphed into a personal project and became something more. I began to really optimize content and was more mindful of plugins I used for the site and thought of different ways to make this site better.
It was alive. It was not an experiment any longer. This was a site that had a following that needed to be built and nurtured. There was no room to be lazy, even though I had been PLENTY lazy.
This past weekend, I gave a pair of talks at WordCamp OC 2013 and one of them was about WordPress SEO. I realized something at that moment. This blog has grown quite a bit in the last several months…. Hot diggity! I used the Urban Dater in many of my examples and analogies. Specifically, I talked about the tool I use as my primary weapon to craft strong SEO for this site. The first being a plugin called WordPress SEO, by Yoast. But that's not the only tool in my box.
When Your Shared Host Kicks You Off the Island
the Urban Dater used to be on Hostgator, a service I still use for an number of sites I manage. However, the Urban Dater had grown to a point where it was using a higher amount of resources and was kinda being a “dick” to its fellow neighbors on it's shared host server. Hostgator shut the site down a few times. I took the Urban Dater elsewhere, to another shared host and it also managed to get kicked off the island. I then moved to a managed WordPress hosting solution over at Synthesis, by Copyblogger. They were good, but I was having serious issues with my site and a ton of server errors; our visits tanked, Google was noting our errors and not sending as much traffic our way until we fixed our shit. While the guys at Synthesis were very friendly and helpful, it wasn't quite enough and the site was doing terribly. You can see from our Jetpack site stats in the image above where we were having a problem.
Something had to change.
And so it did. I made a decision to move over to a newer hosting company; a managed hosting company that dealt exclusively with WordPress (which we proudly run here) called: WPEngine (affiliate linkage) and I haven't looked back. They're more expensive. But if you're running a site that needs to be UP and uses a lot of resources, standard hosting on a shared account won't do and I don't have time to manage a VPS. I'd rather pay a little extra and have folks who know what's up handle the Devil and his details for me. They're not for everyone, but if timely email support is good enough for you then signup. Can't recommend them enough.
The Evolution of Blog
Blogging hasn't changed too much. The basic principle of creating awesome content hasn't changed, it's still the fucking King after all. But the way we consume content has changed. We view much of our content from our mobile devices anymore. So having a blog that doesn't scale in a graceful manner hurts a visitors ability to easily consume your awesome shit. For the last two years, the Urban Dater has run the Genesis Framework, by Copyblogger. Because I was a big fan of their framework, I used their hosting… The hosting sucked, but, hey, the Framework is still awesome. I have done all the design on the Urban Dater up until a few months ago. I didn't h ave time to redesign a site from scratch and also code up something that was responsive aka mobile friendly. So I picked an off-the-shelf theme that runs on the Genesis Framework. The theme we're using here? The Metro Theme (affiliate linkage) and there's a minimal amount of customization. Colors, fonts and some custom scripting; but, shit, I pretty much activated the theme and went with it because it was clean and responsive and similar to our previous incarnation. You can buy Genesis Framwork itself for 59.95, but you need a child theme in order to use it, which can cost an additional $50 or more. Since I'm a developer and have used Genesis a ton, I went with their All Pro Plus Package (affiliate link) so I get access to all their child themes so I can pick and choose what I want in a pinch. Since making that switch, our numbers have continued to rise.
Again, if you look at the graphic above, we surpassed 60k in views last month. Granted, this is a very modest number by many standards. But it's the most THIS blog has ever seen. And there's no magic Tom-Fuckery going on here. We produce content that is easy to consume. Genesis helps with that as does fast WordPress hosting from WPEngine. But I'm not just trying to build a blog, I'm trying to build a business. That's why I'm okay spending a little more, to make more. The average month sees about $300 come in from ad revenue (buysellads) and $30 from Adsense…. which honestly frustrates me. Lol.
But I've got another post or two about how I've made this blog a little bit better and I hope that it will help you build yo' shit. Thanks and I hope you guys didn't mind the affiliate links too much, but honestly, I link to them because you're on a site that uses them to succeed.
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