Three quarters of the way into our first years of professional schools (law school for Ian, medical school for Josh), we decided that we needed a way to express our views and ideas on topics that were most of the time unrelated to our careers. We needed a way to relax at the end of the day in order to maintain our sanity. In May 2009, we decided that starting a blog would be the most appropriate way to accomplish our goals. Today, we are on our own domain and host and use WordPress to power our site. However, it took a long time to get to where we are; we started off using Blogspot with little to no knowledge of or experience with blogging.
In the beginning, we used a very simple black and white style template, that was very basic and straightforward. It had no frills. There were very few, if any, widgets on our blog. Every thing that we did was through Blogger’s visual layout page. We never dared to to edit any html. We also only posted two or three times a week. Rarely did we ever exceed that amount of posts for months. It was no surprise to us that our hits were generally stagnant and we barely saw any increases for several months. In the middle of August, we decided to really focus on the blog.
After realizing that we were failing to see any increase in traffic over the preceding three months, we made a decision in August to really start focusing on the blog. The most important decision we made was to try to post at least an article per day for each of us. Often we would write more than two articles a day or we would also post a video we found interesting or funny, attempting to integrate newer methods of interactive social media. As the weeks progressed, and we became comfortable with exploring some more html coding, widgets, buttons, lists, polls, and eventually podcasts appeared on our blog. Blogger was a great first step for us. It allowed us, with little to no knowledge regarding programming on the internet, to publish articles that we thought young adults would be interested in reading.
As of December 24th, our blog is now powered by Word Press. We chose to switch to Word Press because of its great track record, flexibility, and its large community of helpful users. We host our data on Blue Host’s servers and we purchased our new domain name (www.whatsgoodblog.com) through Go Daddy. At first, we thought exporting our Blogger data over to our new servers and setting up the new blog design would be easy, but we were terribly mistaken.
None of the pictures or videos uploaded to Blogger transferred to the Word Press blog. We eventually found a solution online that would allow us to properly transfer our original posts in Blogger to the new blog but would also transfer the search engine traffic of the original articles to our new website.
We started using Adobe Dreamweaver to design the blog’s webpage from scratch and installing Word Press into a subdomain, but with no prior knowledge of PHP, CSS or HTML, this was impossible. Dreamweaver is an extremely intricate and complicated program to use, with a learning curve that is way beyond our limited time frame. We chose to redesign the site last week because it was the beginning of our winter breaks, which are only two weeks long. We therefore decided to simply use a predesigned, free theme for Word Press, after learning that Word Press could be used as a content management system (CMS) and also can be used to design websites. However, there were numerous problems, and after switching to a new theme, we have still yet to resolve several issues. After spending countless hours this week, we have managed to solve many of the issues but several are still outstanding and are beyond our ability to fix.
Another issue we ran into was the unexpectedly programming-oriented side of Word Press. As opposed to Blogger, Word Press is basically edited by code only; only widgets can be installed via a graphical interface. This was extremely limiting once again for us, thus causing us to spend several hours resolving an issue that someone with ordinary knowledge of web programming could resolve within minutes. We also have had great difficulties editing the layout of our site and its CSS style sheet.
We regularly read articles from John Chow dot com about how to increase web site traffic, creatively utilize SEO strategies and eventually earn higher revenues from our site. His advice has been priceless; we have increased our monthly traffic from one or two hundred in the first few months to three thousand hits per month. We record our web statistics using Google Analytics, and the number of visitors has been steadily increasing since we decided to focus on the blog in August. We hope that in making the switch from our Blogger blog to a paid server hosting Word Press, our blog will be able to increase its traffic and revenue in the long run and will allow us to have more freedom with the site itself to expand our creative horizons.
This was a guest post by Ian Sherwin and Josh Bucher of What’s Good Blog.