Part 1 Discussing the Site
This is Part 1 of One Hour Website Makeover for the Your Organic Gardening Blog site and in this session we discuss the areas that can be improved on the site as well as suggest ways to generate some income.
Rick: So let’s see, we’re going to start off by turning on Jared’s microphone. Good evening, Jared.
Jared: Can you hear me okay?
Rick: I can. There’s a little odd electronic sound behind you but I can certainly hear you.
Rick: Okay so here’s what we got. We were… obviously, the task here was to come up with a scheme that gives you an opportunity to monetize your blog. And it does a good job of demonstrating the skills that your wife has in gardening. And so what we did… actually, I’m going to show you… this is actually a site that I created just like last time for the purpose of sort of demonstrating some of the stuff. But the graphic that we’re working on is this here. This is sort of the… this is the mock up that Kim came up with for the site. Kim, you want to talk about this?
Kim: Sure. So I was trying… well, I wanted to make it more colorful obviously, because it’s a gardening site. I mean, what better way to feature you know, beautiful colors and lots of photos. So that little header, more fun. Some color green, red, whatever those colors and then I wanted to make it more personal for Polly. So if you’ll scroll down, we made a little personal signature after every post that was from Polly. We also talked… we were just talking about downloading her PDF about secrets about growing her tomatoes. Just make it a little bit more personal so it is you know, it is Polly. What else did we do? Oh, I also added more lengths coming out to gardening sites which I think is you know, it can be a little fun just linking out to you know, nursery or whites or whatever. There also… I also saw somewhere… since Jared is also on Twitter, if he is following other organic gardening Twitter folks, that he could make a little widget for the bottom that is just a consulate of dating a Twitter feed about organic gardening and that kind of makes everything a little bit more interesting. So you just feel like you got more information on this site besides just you know, just what it is. Just a little bit more interesting. And what else did we do?
Rick: Well then we looked at ways to add advertising to the site so we have the free growing tips here for linking… essentially as an opt-in email capture. And then we have the purchase the book which you know, it’s probably the most important element.
Kim: Oh and mention that pop-upthing that we’ve also found.
Rick: Well yeah, okay. We’ll get that a second then. And then affiliate advertising, Kim came up with… or found a bunch of affiliate advertising sites that could be used you know, on a site like this. And she also included some Google text ads. These are likely to be more profitable would be my guess. But you know, I have a couple of sites with Google ads and they still haven’t… in 2 years, they still haven’t gotten to the point where I earned enough to get a check from Google. But from affiliate advertising like this, I still… you know, we make several hundred dollars a month off of that. And then also the same kind of a thing here, I think you ought to do some sort of a banner ad at the end of each post. Again, that is a banner ad that has a banner of something that is significant or appropriate for the site. Jared, I unmuted your telephone. Are you with us?
Jared: Yes. Can you hear me?
Rick: I can, yes.
Jared: Are you recording this by chance?
Rick: Of course, yes.
Jared: Because I’m not sure how mine’s going to come out with the audio on this.
Rick: Yeah. No, I am recording it and it’ll make its way…well, last week’s recording will be on the site here probably tomorrow. And this recording will be on in a week or so. And then Kim did have one other suggestion. I’m going to open that up. Let’s see, where did that go?
Kim: I think it was called pop up…
Rick: Right, it was called pop ups. What did I do with that?
Kim: I just saw this on somebody’s site and I kind of liked the idea that…
Rick: Yeah. This right here where this is the pop-up and so when you click on this button…
Kim: No, the ebook button.
Rick: Oh, I’m sorry. The ebook button… although you can do the same thing, right? You can do it in both cases.
Kim: That’s true.
Rick: Where clicking on it brings up a pop-upthat gives you a chance to… for them to act without having to move away from the page, whether it’s purchase now. What you could easily do with WP estore this way or with… or for an AWeber form or something like that. Either those things would work very easily with that. And or you know, you could also… for the free growing tips, you could go ahead and put the you know, address, the name and email address and submit on this widget if you didn’t want to do the pop up. I’m sort of assuming that this isn’t the link to another page but what it is is a link to a pop-up that clicks open.
The way in which these widgets are styled, this is something I’ve been planning on doing for quite a while but your site gave me the reason to get it done. And so for this site, I created a plugin that’s not on the website yet. It’s got a couple of bugs I still need to monkey with just a tad bit. But in the next day or two, it will be up on the site called BYOB Thesis Widget styles. And it will allow you to create widget styles and then you know, modify those styles in a familiar Thesis format. And then when you’re at a widget, you can assign a style to that widget. And right now, well you can be either Thesis default style 1 or style 2. If you go to Thesis default then it goes back to the typical Thesis style which is… oh actually, that’s that one. It doesn’t count so it doesn’t really matter. But if we were to look at… well, if we look at this one instead and instead of being style 1, we went to Thesis default, this is what it would look like instead. It goes to the default text style and the default heading and that kind of stuff, the default background where if we switch back to the style that I created with this or for this and refresh it then it comes back to this style like this.
So otherwise, this is the Header Widgets plugin and using the Thesis nav menu. And then we used the… in the same way or in the very similar way to what we did with Sean’s site last month or last week, this is a repeating background image that’s added to the body using that Full Width Backgrounds plugin. And then we’ve got another header area background image and then the content area background image and then a footer area background image and then use the WP Nav Menu plugin to place another menu bar down here at the bottom.
Kim: And that footer isn’t long enough so…
Rick: And Kim wants the green to continue all the way down here to the bottom so when we give you the styles or the artwork, it’ll come all the way down here so that you can… so that this isn’t in the dirt but it’s the green goes all the way to the bottom. Let’s see, I didn’t actually have time to…
Kim: Can I say one thing about the ebook?
Kim: The reason that we put it in a book form was just so people… and make the ebook look really big is just so you can know that it is a book. I mean, it just visually tells you what it is without having to redraw all of it. You know, put it on a book, making it look like a book. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but the for me being a visual person, it just feels like it’s…
Jared: No, it does stand out more significantly.
Kim: Right. You see right off it. That’s what I’m looking at. And before it was sort of, with the PDF above it, I wasn’t really sure which one was the book and which one was the free tip. You know what I mean? Just trying to make sure that it was you know, you definitely know what is the ebook.
Rick: And the other thing that I didn’t get done on my prototype was Polly’s signature. You want to talk about that a little bit, Kim?
Kim: Sure. It’s just I… it’s just a transparent PNG. It doesn’t have to be in that type base. It could actually be in Polly’s own font, I mean you know, handwriting. But it’s sort of more personal to add that signature to that you know, because the post choose you know, just… I don’t know. I just made it post like it’s a little bit more personal from her.
Rick: And so we could actually… well, there are a variety of plugins for putting signatures on after posts. But we could use the Shortcode Content Widgets plugin to do this and then you would just put the shortcode after each post that would have… actually, that could have the signature and also could have the banner ad in it. And maybe, even could have the social networking sharing buttons with that as well so you see…
Kim: Oh I wanted to mention that Twitter… we should make the Twitter… I didn’t actually go over and looked at the Twitter background but we should definitely fix your Twitter to match whatever you have on your site with the background and you know… if you want to use these graphics, we should make those look sort of the same.
Jared: Twitter is our number one biggest source for driving traffic.
Kim: Well, there you go. I think we should you know, make it look… if you want to change your site to look like this, we should totally… I’ll make you a background and stuff to fit in there. And I kind of like the bigger… I don’t like it like “Follow me…”. People know just to click on the Twitter buttons and I like the larger Twitter buttons here just so you know, or Twitter and Facebook, the social media buttons.
Jared: I’m not sure what you’re talking about when I can’t see it.
You’re not able to see this… my screen?
Jared: Yeah but she said… what is she going to do with the Twitter button? I don’t understand.
Kim: Oh I just like the larger buttons instead of saying “Follow me on Twitter.” I like the… and instead of the smaller Twitter buttons, it’s the one, the white one with the T. I like them really larger then.
Jared: The two in the left, the Twitter and Facebook, is that you mean by larger buttons?
Kim: That’s correct.
Jared: Okay and the Like button the right is what you mean by smaller buttons?
Kim: Well, before… well, some people have really tiny little buttons on their sites and I think you just have text that say, “Follow our tweets.” I just think…
Jared: Which, again, are you using for that?
Kim: The Twitter, the little T button is the Twitter button. Actually, I don’t know if that would be Twitter this… I don’t know if that would be a Twitter this….
Kim: Wait, that’s not… I don’t think that’s even hot to your Twitter anyway but there could be a “Tweet this” like on… I know on Blogger, you have a tweet… you know, if you want to… if someone wants to tweet this story on their Twitter, we can make sure that that is possible too and then have a “Follow me on Twitter.”
Jared: That’s just a social plugin there… to choose just want you want…
Jared: So I’m just curious which buttons she choose, I mean, what the social…
Kim: Oh, I’ll stay with the Twitter and the Facebook. I’ll just…
Kim didn’t use a plugin for that. Kim just used artwork.
Jared: Graphic, okay. I understand now.
Kim: Yeah, I just mock this stuff up in Photoshop and Rick does all the magic.
Rick: But I don’t know where Kim got her artwork but I do have you know, that’s what I’ve done here too is just use these images in my… in this format and then created links off of that to you know, our Twitter feed or…
Kim: Which I think is not bad idea to also have those on his sidebar. He could also have that on his sidebar. I think that’s not a bad idea to have those.
Rick: Sure. And then the other thing I just wanted to point out was the image size.
Jared: Yeah, I saw that.
Rick: I’m not sure you know… well, gardening is a very visual thing. And I would definitely have nice, big images like this. Kim did 3 different versions. She did a post with a big image but not much text and then a post with a smaller image but then has text you know, that wraps around it. And then this is really the smallest image. And if we see that on a live site for a second here… well, here’s that second image. There’s the 3rd image and then the Wicked Organic Decorations, that’s the first one.
Kim: Well and I had said something to Jared about this in our last meeting that you know, tomatoes and gardens and all of those just spring for beautiful photos, right? And that you don’t have to have a huge… you don’t have to have a lot of text. It could just be a visual thing with a little bit of text and then it just sorts of break down those really long posts you have which are great. All the information but you could just also throw in something that’s kind of fun and quick with a visual something. Does that make sense, Jared?
Kim: Are you okay with here? You’re not saying much.
Jared: Well, I’m just spending… finding your… putting in your website address and I see it crystal clear than me… video in the webinar.
Kim: Oh yeah, I got you. Oh yeah.
Jared: so… where did you get the artwork for the tomato and the organic and also the favicon?
Kim: The favicon I made. The one…
Jared: And the one in those (19.45) and the organic?
Kim: I made that one.
Kim: The dog is my dog and the pumpkin is my pumpkin. And I got the book art off of your wife’s site. And I (20.03)…
Jared: Are you there?
Kim: Yeah. I stand in a bunch of stuff I took from Rick’s wife’s garden, some carrots and all that stuff and I photographed those. And then I turned those into silhouettes in Photoshop and then I just colored them or just to silhouette them.
Jared: My wife is standing here beside me to look at this and she’s going… nodding her head yes.
Kim: Oh she likes it? Oh good.
Jared: Say hi.
Kim: Hi Polly.
Rick: Hi Polly.
Jared: Polly’s a pen name.
Kim: Oh I see.
Jared: Because we were… it’s one of the things we heard a long time ago, if you ever want to sell your site or something, you can’t sell your own name.
Jared: So anyway, I like that. Regarding the different… what are those 3 sizes that you used in the pictures?
Rick: Well, one of them is the full width of the column so however wide your column is, these columns… this column happens to be 550 pixels wide. So one of them is the full width of the column, one of them is 2/3 of the width of the column and one of them is ½ the width… well actually, it’s a little less than ½ of the width of the column.
Kim: I think I was trying to fit it in so I did and 80% just so the text would fit in there.
Rick: Yeah. So… I mean, I think those are probably good… the height of the image doesn’t matter, right? It’s the width of the image. And I think it probably makes sense to have sort of in your mind, a size that goes all the way across so it’s always, say 550 pixels wide and then a size that goes ¾ or 2/3 of the way across and then a size that goes 1/3 or ½ across.
Jared: What I like about it is it breaks up the eye rather than all the images be in the same size.
Kim: Exactly. You’re right.
Jared: And another sense also, sometimes people put on the… they alternate one of those. That one on the right, one on the left, one of the right as you go down. And so I was just curious about that but when you have a standard size that you click on, you have different options available too…
Kim: You do. Actually, on the post on the dog one, I just click on the image and it gives you… you can change it to 80% or 70%. I just sort of adjusted that size to fit with the text.
Jared: I see.
Rick: And I do have videos on how to do that although you know, after a while, you’ll sort of get used to you know, what the image size wants to be you know, given its orientation. This is a little vertical image so it works out well in this half size or so. This is more of a traditional format you know, 4 by 3 format as is the pumpkin.
Jared: I noticed that you have the dates on there and I was trying to think of leaving the dates off so that it would be evergreen all year round.
Kim: You know, I was… oh, I’m sorry. My dogs are barking. I was talking to Rick about that. I understand why you are doing that and I have… and I thought about that because when I go on a site and if I see the same thing, I’ll feel like next time I go on and it doesn’t have a date, I’m always sort of looking for the date to see if this is one of the last things that was posted. Because I don’t want to… you know, I just kind of like to know. If you posted that last year and this is really old or if you posted that yesterday because it kind of gives me an idea of how frequently you’re posting, you know what I mean? Or if you even still have this blog? I mean, a lot of people start things and just leave them so…
Jared: Well, what I think is that would be in a person’s… in a newcomer’s mind to the site but when he comes fairly regularly, he would know that it’s quite a lot.
Kim: Sure. Well, I think that’s a personal preference.
Jared: Yeah. And if a person gets interested, they’re going to search, I think. I think the key thing in the front page of the blog is to engage a person.
Kim: Sure, absolutely.
Rick: So do you have any other questions for us?
Jared: No. Did you use your header plugin for up there?
Rick: I did and I’m going to do the same thing on your site that I did with Jared’s which is going to start with a fresh installation of WordPress and go through it step by step, how to use the images and the plugins together to get you know, all the way to this point.
Jared: When will you be doing that?
Rick: I’m going to start that Wednesday of next week.
Jared: Okay, cool.
Kim: Hey Jared, were you here when we were talking about the linking app on your site? I don’t know if you had already called in or not.
Jared: What do you mean by the linking? I just barely got in at 5 o’clock.
Kim: I’ve just added gardening links to sort of just add some fun links to your site down there. You know, if you have other friends that organic gardeners that you want to link to or you know, local nursery sites, I just added little gardening links down there.
Jared: I have a question for you. Why would you put in a link to take them off of your site?
Kim: Actually, that’s open until blank.
Jared: That’s what?
Kim: It opens up. It doesn’t take you away from the site. It opens up into a blank page.
Well, that one did.
Kim: Did it? Oh well you know what? Because you changed it.
Rick: You’re right. I may very well… you’re right.
Kim: Because you grabbed the wrong one because I opened… yeah, I opened those up to a blank page. But you know, I don’t think that people are going to just come here and just automatically leave. I think it adds a little bit of interest. I mean, gardening is a huge, huge subject and there are lots of local things. I mean, you’re not going to have all the answers on your site, right? There are lots of other interesting gardening sites that have… that are fun to link to. I mean, I don’t know if… you don’t have to do it but I just… I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
Jared: I hear what you’re saying and I can see some (27.25) in it. I’m just wrestling with the (27.30) that says it’s hard enough to get people on your site. If you take them off then they get into some other site and not come back or so.
Kim: Yeah I mean, that’s something to consider.
Jared: But no, I can plea your point definitely because when I do a search, I’m looking… I think when people do searches, they’re looking for the answer to a question at the back of their head until they find that answer and then they stop looking. And when they stop looking, that to me is a definition of a search matching what they’re looking for. Their value has been reached of what they’re looking for then they don’t want to look any further.
Rick: Well and…
Kim: Well, as an addicted internet user, I am never… I never stop searching so I’m always linking and finding things that I’ve…if I find your site and I like it, I’m going to save it somewhere and I’ll come back to it but it doesn’t mean I’m going to link off to something and not come back to it.
Rick: Well and the… and actually, I think where this blog falls is what Kim’s talking about too which is… the blog is really a community act. You are sharing your expertise sort of… Polly is sharing her expertise with people that she doesn’t know and is talking about something that she is passionate about and enjoys. And that’s different than a typical commercial site hawking a product. And when you link off to other useful sites that like off of a blog like this, what you do is you become part of that community experience. And the chances are that if somebody’s going to join your mailing list or get your free growing tips or open your emails, they’re going to do that because they feel, in one way or another, connected to your site. And those people, you don’t really have to worry about. As long as you can engage people in that kind of conversation, you don’t have to worry about the difficulty of either getting them to your site or of keeping them on your site because at that point, they’re deliberate in their intention to go to your site.
Jared: 2 other general… questions, one is what’s the difference between a home and a blog on this?
Rick: Oh, you just ignore that.
Kim: Rick was kind of busy that I…
Rick: This is exactly the same site that you saw last week with Sean’s stuff on it and the very same site that the week before, I did the tutorial on how to do images in a navigation menu. So those pages existed, the site up until today had been you know, a static front page site and so there was a home page and a blog page. But for the purpose of this presentation, I switched it so that it was… the home page and the blog page are essentially the same thing. That is, it doesn’t have a static front page. And if you go to the blog page, now you see, it’s just a plain old page. And it’s just because I’m just using this site for the purpose of demonstrating creating this sites. So you don’t want to read anything into the pages.
Kim: I would definitely put my book up there. That’s one of the links I would have out there…
Jared: What do you mean ‘my book’?
Kim: The book, your ebook…
Jared: Yeah so which would you keep? The word ‘home’ or the word ‘blog’?
Rick: Well, on a blog, I would keep home. There’s no reason to have a blog page on a blog. The home page is the blog page. But on a static site, home is the home page and blog is a blog page. That’s all.
Jared: A couple of other comments on the graphic up above, first of all, I really like the Your Organic Gardening in red and it really makes it stand out especially with a favicon like that. That’s (32.35). But one of the things troubling me is the competition with the white there versus the white below with my eyes. If I look down below, I find peripheral vision of my eyes wanting to pull back to the red and the Your Organic Gardening blog. And if I read up above and I find the white one to pull me down. I guess what I’m saying is that white that seems to make… competing my eyes to look back up, switch back and forth.
Kim: Well you know, I did start that header with the images going all the way around on the top so…
Jared: Oh, a circle?
Kim: Right just sort of incorporated and I can say maybe mimic. But so the green sort of went all the way to the top and I do have that version. And also Your Organic Gardener in red, I mean, those are the things that can be changed very easily you know, that’s not stuff…
Jared: I would just…the other thing has to do with the image, the silhouettes of the images you used. In looking at them, there’s not very many that I would even recognize as being in a garden. Some of my… pardon?
Kim: Oh, you don’t recognize those?
Jared: Some I can tell. The second from the left of… will be in the…yeah. Some of them are…
Kim: Yeah, there’s parsley. There’s rosemary. I mean, that again is just… you know, if you want to…
Jared: Rosemary, second from the right and what you say as cilantro could also be…
Jared: Yes. But the rest… I would think it has to do with the…on the far right, more to do with trees or bushes or…
Kim: Well actually, that’s a carrot from Laura’s yard, carrot top or from her carrots and radishes and whatever she’s growing back there. But those are things that could easily be changed, right? I mean, if you have a preference, if you just want to use like a tomato leaf or that’s… it’s the idea of the silhouette. It’s not exactly what is the silhouette, does that make sense?
Jared: I see what you’re saying. I think that the thing… if ever, it’s more recognizable for people in the garden industry are going to recognize those things just like I did or not. I think you’re on the right track and I like the track that you’re on. It’s just a little finesse there. And looking at that on the background, it took me a long time to see it because I was… I think when it comes to this site, it’s the red that grabs my eye immediately and I start looking around.
Kim: Since you’re… with the tomatoes, since the whole, I think you said that the whole point of this blog is to try to sell your tomato, organic growing your tomato ebook, that was just sort of staying with the theme of that, you know?
Rick: Okay well, we need to move on to Fran so Jared, I will have all the artwork available to you here and we will go through the process of taking that artwork and building it into a site next week.
Jared: Thank you.
Rick: You’re welcome.
Rick: I turned his microphone off. Go ahead, Jared. I turned you off too quickly.
Jared: That’s alright. I was just saying thank you.
Kim: Oh you’re welcome.