After a long period of drudgery — I think it had something to do with falling out of love with Chicago and winter boots and snow — I’ve fallen back in love with my London restaurant blog. I’ve been trying to give the site some TLC after all these years. I’ve made a huge Google Doc of things I want to do with the site…there are 110 projects on the list as of this writing. I’ve already completed 24 of them and four are currently in progress. This is the problem with my historical career in the online world. I used to manage financial websites all over the globe and I always had a long list of projects to work on.
To have a website that doesn’t change and stays static feels weird to me. Having lots of projects for Passportdelicious.com feels good. Maybe I should set up a Jira!!
The projects for my London restaurant blog run the gamut. A few are pretty simple…For example, I wanted to create an Amazon store of Travel products I like. (Complete!) I also wanted to implement social media icons in the right sidebar for Twitter, Facebook, etc. (Complete!) Other projects are more vague. “Figure how how to use Bloglovin,” for example. (Someone please tell me because I don’t really get it.) Some projects are a lot of hard work…like fixing all my old Urbanspoon links that got messed up when I moved to WordPress in 2010. Some I don’t even want to think about…like resizing all my photos so they fit into a different site layout. Uggh.
It would be impossible for me to do all this work myself, so I’ve been doing some experimenting.
The first experiment was with Fiverr.com. Fiverr has people who will do lots of jobs for you and your website for $5 USD. I wanted to get some feedback on the structure and speed of my site, so I paid a guy $5 to run some reports and tell me what I needed to do. One of his main recommendations was that my site was TOO SLOW. Over the years, too many plugins and too many photos have really been dragging things down. I’ve already removed about 15 plugins and then I paid Bluehost, my hosting provider, $89 to do some site optimization for me, which improved my load times immensely. I still have a lot of other work to do based on the Fiverr report, but I’ve already made a ton of progress. And I am down to just 23 WordPress plugins!
The second experiment was with 99designs.com. My site needs a redesign. I want it to feel cleaner and more modern and less blogg-y. Also, Google is now penalizing sites that aren’t truly mobile responsive/mobile ready. So I started a design contest on 99designs to see what people could come up with. I didn’t put a lot of money forward — I just ran a “bronze” contest — which was maybe a bad idea. I wasn’t too impressed with the results that I got. I need to call them and get my money back. Would I try 99designs again? Assuming no one reads this and volunteers to redesign my site…probably…but I would pay more money to access the more experienced designers.
This kinda all leads me to monetization. I don’t particularly like having ads on my London restaurant blog, but I need them. (I did take the ad out of the header though.) My site hosting with Bluehost costs me about $144 a year. (They are very pleasant people and I recommend them.) Backup Buddy costs me $30 a year. Moo cards…£50? After my scare last summer with the crazy song that kept playing whenever I loaded my site, I also purchased Sitelock at another $30 a year. And don’t even ask me about that day recently when I renewed all my domains for the next 5+ years and how much that cost me. If Adsense can help me recoup some of that spend, that’s not a bad thing. So the ads will stay for now unless you have other suggestions for how I can break-even if not make a little bit of money. Also, I have some life changes coming up and truth be told, the money would be most welcome. (More about the life changes later this month.)
Ah, and content. I have made a list of 51 posts I want to write! 51 posts! Let’s see how far I get. Content is king! I need more content.
And people! The 1 year anniversary of my return to London is next month. I know I haven’t seen a lot of people that I spent a lot of time with in the days of old. That has everything to do with me and the work and the job. People, I am coming for you. Soon. I promise. Get ready for coffee.