This week in review

It’s that time of week again.

This week was mostly focusing on eliminating cluttered on the blog. Eliminate distractions. Focus on content. Focus on opt-ins. It is somewhat your more minimalistic approach to blogging.

You really can’t go wrong with narrowing the things someone can do on your website. If you look at my music blog, you see the follow:

  1. You can look at my content pages (currently only have 1 content page and my about page). More is going to be added.
  2. You can read my latest post.
  3. Or you can opt in.
  4. Or read my most popular posts (which is actually static but probably some stuff my targeted audience would want to look at).

So content pages are my way of linking to my categories but really highlighting my best content. This is better for pulling out all the posts a new person on your site WANTS to see. I’ve learned that the problem with blogs is that it’s not always easy to find someone’s BEST posts. This also gives another method of getting people to opt in. In general, content pages will follow this following format:

  1. Give a small intro
  2. List my best posts (or in the existing example, my downloads).
  3. Offer an opt-in form
  4. List more ways to learn about ___________
  5. And then another opt-in form

Notice also, that I don’t have a sidebar on my content pages or my about page. This is the whole part of eliminating distraction. Content pages are meant to be “Hey see my best content in this category here and then sign up for my email list”

My about page is suppose to say “Hey, here is what this site is all about and you should opt-in to my email list.”

To the point, you want people to subscribe and while you don’t want to be too “in your face” with email forms, you want it to be obvious that “hey, we have a mailing list where you can get updates”

At least that was my thinking.

With very little technical work left to do on my blog, I have nothing left aside from writing content and creating more pages. Promotion and all that will always continue, of course.

 

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Updates

Here is what I’ve done this week:

– I wanted to hash out a blog design that I could be happy with. I’ve pretty much got it figured out. The only thing in question is the header image but that’s easily changed.

– created a wordpress widget for my opt in form. It was causing some CSS conflicts having it just sit in a text widget.

– added a Facebook button. I’m trying to utilize this as a free resource of other tutorials on the internet instead of a glorified RSS feed.

– started my rank building in google. This is just going to be an on-going process so this is probably the last time (not!) that I’ll talk about it.

This week, here is what I want to complete:

– start mindmapping a product idea.

– start experimenting using different sidebar per post/page to display more relevant content.

– figure out a tagging system for WordPress. Tags often get messy so I think I’m going to research a set list, add those into WordPress, and pick my tags out of those.

– make at least one video post. I’m thinking Mondays would be a good time for video posts since I’d have the weekend to film it and edit it.

Other notes:

Having a blogging schedule has been working wonders for me. I don’t feel like I have to be constantly writing blog posts. I feel like I spend more time and give more thoughts on blog posts because I give myself 2 days to write it. I feel like I’m not ignoring other aspects such as promotion and things. It’s just really nice having a day/time for everything.

Finally did it!

The past few days, I’ve been working on article directories and building backlinks to try and rank in Google for my primary keyword “how to read music”.

I finally did it!

Granted, it might jump around by the time anyone reads this but hence the screenshot!

After I build some solid backlinks, I’ll zone in on communities like forums and such. But for now, this is definitely encouraging.

I need to stop at this point

Tonight, I spent a lot of time re-working my blog layout.

Lets face it, when you becoming a web developer/design/coder for a living, you just don’t really want to do that shit when you come home.

For this project, I was going to make a whole custom design. Well, it somewhat fell through. I am using Thesis. While a lot of people use it, I actually find it harder to customize than trying to figure out a theme on my own. I could have built a custom theme from scratch but I didn’t want to. It’s too much coding for me. I’m lazy.

So yesterday, I really screwed up the mediocre design I had going for me. It wasn’t that good. But it was something. Anyways, I messed it up at some point and then went to bed shortly afterward.

Then today, I got this design going. It was from a premade Thesis skin (free ones are few and far).

I liked the coloring. Anytime I pick up a free theme or in this case, skin, it’s because of color and not the actual design. So this is the gist of what I had to work with pre modifications (click to enlarge):

And while talking to some people working on similar projects on Skype, I quietly mumbled swear words while modifying this. Here is everything wrong I saw in this current layout:

  • No header image which just makes it very boring.
  • Header text is also… eh. Boring. I love text when text is there but just… hm. Not enough for me.
  • The sidebar kind dangles out on it’s own There’s no definition to it and no way to highlight what’s there. It’s like meant to be ignored.
  • Sidebar items were somewhat out of order too. After widgets were developed a couple years ago, I just through widgets I want to use and ignore the order until the design is done.
  • The “Learn More” buttons didn’t work for me. It blended in with the content and lacked the “hey, I have more to say” pull.
  • Not enough images in my post which you’ll probably have to go to the actual blog and check it out. I’m working on filling out my posts a bit more.
  • I didn’t like the amount of white on the page. This goes back to not having a header image.
  • I didn’t like the links in the sidebar. They look so plain. They really had the feeling of “a bunch of links on this page” instead of “hey, you should click over here because this is worth your while”
  • The headers of the sidebar were so plain also. You get that I don’t like plan too much.
  • Overall, it just needed a boost in color, more definition, and less “clean” because music notes are generally black and white. And if most of my layout is black and white, I might as well go write for the newspaper.

Here is my after picture:

Why I changed things and how they made it better:

  • Header image. I know there’s not much color to it but it does break up the wall of text feeling.
  • Colored navigation bar. I tried to make this not look like Thesis anymore. I colored it up. I bolded it.
  • Added the borders in. I tried to do without the default Thesis borders but I really just like the way they looked.
  • You don’t see it in this image but I changed to “Learn More” link to break off from the content and also the text to “Click here to continue learning more”
  • I also started filling out some of my posts by adding some images and breaking up the wall of text. You probably need to go to the actual blog to see how much better a wall of text post compares to a post filled with images and such. This is a music note reading blog. I SHOULD have images. I’m just LAZY.
  • I also got rid of the brackets.
  • And made it float right.
  • Notice the not so boring links in the sidebar. They can use more work but at least they sort of look like they serve a purpose instead of the “bunch of links on a page” feeling.

Overall, the site just feel a bit more filled out but still relatively organized. There’s a lot of CSS I still need to modify but I’m getting closer. I need to finish customizing widgets and finish adding little details here and there. Overall, I think this is close to the look and feel I want to go with.

Including all the technical difficulties, this took me about 4 hours to get to this point. Not too bad. Not all of it was making the changes above. I was having some technical difficulties for a while. And I ate dinner too. So maybe realistically, 2-3 hours.

I will finish the other aspects of the overhaul probably on the weekend!

Pro Motion

This week has been all about promotion which consists of the following:

– Posting in article directories. Every article I post is completely new and I’m not using any spinning software. I find writing a new article is less tedious than trying to spin a blog post.

– Signing up for forums. Have yet to participate.

– Finally posting to my social media pages.

– Researching more ways to gain exposure to my blog.

I’ve done some technical work on my blog:

– Working on a new design. It’s still in development (more like design). I was going to do something in resemblance to Corbett’s Think Traffic layout but I’m not feeling like it’ll work for my site.

– I’ve eliminated some plugins. I didn’t use a whole lot to begin with but I had a Google analytics plugin that wasn’t working as it was suppose to as it was counting my page previews and sometimes my own visits. I decided to just incorporate this into my theme manually.

– Added a Kindle subscription for my blog

Wow it’s starting to look like a site

So here’s another update of how much I got done since I last posted. But first, I want to say, I absolutely have fallen in love with Evernote. Okay…

Posts: I wrote another post last night. So now I have 6 posts. I also went back and edited some posts. A lot of work still needed on the amount of detail. I want to be super detailed and super specific.

Facebook: Hopefully going to do this tonight.

Twitter: See Facebook.

Mailing List: Got my list created in mailchimp and put in a simple opt-in form in the sidebar. I still need to design something a little bit nicer.

Layout: I’m still using Thesis but I’ve redesigned it to fit. I could launch with this design but I need to think about it…

SEO: I haven’t really touched on this yet. I’m not too worried yet.

Monetization: Still need to add related amazon products along with finding software that will let me create sheet music. I’ve decided to give the practice sheets away for free as a once-a-week autoresponder since I’m going to assume I can create them fairly easily. This can be my opt-in reward. Then I’m going to start a membership site that includes videos.

So there’s still some stuff to do. I’m waiting on some spare cash to pick up a camera and a whiteboard. However, I’m really feeling good about the pace I’m going considering I only bought the domain a few days ago.

Edit: I also updated the sidebar of this blog to reflect the new project.