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PC Doctor – Blog Case Study

Pc-DoctorThe following post was submitted by Adrian W Kingsley-Hughes as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

PC Doctor blog, a blog designed to help people get more from their PCs, back in April of last year.

I bought it to life after a long period of being asked by people why I didn’t have a blog and a longer period of thinking, worrying (standard stuff like “do I have the time?”, “do I have enough to say?”, “will I ever get any readers?”) and then, finally, some constructive planning. One day I just uploaded WordPress to the server, set it up and within five minutes I had a brand new blog. Admittedly, I’d set up a load of blogs and forums before this so the process wasn’t new to me but I still felt a huge buzz of excitement because this was MY blog! After a few basic tweaks and mods (specifically, I let FeedBurner handle my RSS feed and added SiteMeter stats tracking so I could see what was going on, stats wise) I was ready to blog!

I got going straight away and even used the default WordPress template for quite a few months. I worked on the assumption that it was content that was going to draw readers and not how it looked, and since I’m a writer by trade I wasn’t put off by having to write a lot. I’m glad I did this because I could have spent weeks on the style and have no content. Also, since I knew that it would take weeks for any real traffic to show up on the site (from the search engines) I knew that I had time to tweak the look and fix anything that might be broken (or that I might break).

I started off populating the blog with stuff that I’d wanted to put up on the website for some time but hadn’t found the time. I found that by having a backlog of material to go on the web actually help because after a couple of weeks the blog had a good number of posts and the place didn’t feel empty any more. Traffic was slow to begin with but by using Technorati (I tagged everything back then!), leveraging my existing websites by cross-linking, and stated participating in the blogosphere through comments and trackbacks. Traffic was depressingly slow for the first few weeks but I knew that I’d be basically talking to myself for week and I remained optimistic. I lived by the motto that “if you build it, they will come”, and eventually, come they did! Within a year Google has gone from bringing no one to the blog to now bringing in 85% of my readers.

After a year, and over 2500 posts, I can say that I’m now really addicted to blogging. I love the speed with which I can get information onto the web, the speed that others can find out about it through RSS/web feeds and the great sense of community that has formed around blogs.

Three of the best decisions that I made in running my blog were:

  1. Use WordPress. This platform is a joy to use and the folks behind it really are committed to the project.
  2. Use BlogJet for posting. BlogJet allows me to concentrate of my content rather than having to mess around with HTML. Some of my posts containing a lot of formatting and dozens of images and
    BlogJet handles all this for me.
  3. I’m so glad that I used FeedBurner to power my RSS/web feed. Using FeedBurner I’m able to offload all the technical issues onto someone else and I’m able to keep an eye on the stats. I now also make use of the
    FeedBlitz RSS-to-email service incorporated into FeedBurner – I’m amazed how many people want to get news of daily posts via email!

I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way but the biggest by far was not starting earlier. I wish that I’d just gotten on with the blog two or three years ago rather than putting it off. Don’t be put off – just start blogging! I also wish that I hadn’t put the blog into a folder called ‘WordPress’ – I could change it but I can’t be bothered and it’s not worth risking the loss in traffic – choose your URL and the folder for your blog carefully!

For the next year I plan on doing what I did last year and post a goodly number of posts every day. I also have plans to launch two new blogs, both spin-offs of the PC Doctor blog and both on computer-related topics. After that, who know what will happen!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. elamr says:

    I’ve tried Blogharbor, Blogger, typepad, Expression Engine, and Drupal.. but have yet to try WordPress.

    Everyone is so positive about WordPress I feel obligated to at least try it especially if it only takes a few minutes to set up. I’ve been looking for a blogging system that is as easy as Typepad/blogware as cost effective as blogger and as powerfull as drupal/expression engine! Is this asking too much?

    My experience:
    Blogharbor – blogware based about $9/month
    pros: easy to use, set up in matter of minutes, GREAT help/support (the best on the net by far). Somehow pulls traffic very fast (almost automatic traffic).
    cons: Limited design (No PHP), Heavy traffic will cost you (Probably not built for BoingBoing type traffic).

    Blogger – Googles successful Free blog service
    pros: cost effective, Google seems to like it (almost automatic traffic), easy walkthrough style set up
    cons: limited design (but I’ve seen some very creative blogger designs even with limitations), limited features

    Typepad – From Sixapart about 5 dollars/month
    pros: feature rich, very cheap, easy to set up
    cons: Very limited design, I’ve had trouble getting good traffic with Typepad (perhaps I just need to work at it more).

    Expression Engine – Downloadable software about $99 – 250 for license (will need server hosting)
    pros: unlimited design potential, beautifully designed code features (once understood), feature rich, really beyond a mere blog (more of content management system
    cons: high learning curve (even with predesigned templates), proprietary, fairly new not many default templates.

    Drupal – My favorite hackable open source Content Management Software
    pros: far beyond just a blog, only limited by your pateints and skills, hundreds of features that can be added, allows users to have there own blog on YOUR blog! very community centric, MySQL/Linux/PHP powered
    cons: THE HARDEST LEARNING CURVE, very community centric, features can not be added very easily (some features can conflict with each other), requires programming/Linux and/or other geeky back ground to do really cool stuff.. did I mention that it take patients? have to deal with geeks who only speak Geekaneese and binary. So you ask “Hey Geek, how do I add a trackback to my blog entries?” to which the geek will reply “100100111010100.. and then you enable your module… its easy!?”

  2. rols says:

    Get tip on not wasting weeks on style and looks but focus on writing and content. I would not have wasted hours and hours trying to add that “next” and previous buttons on my blog only if I had read this before. This is really a very good overall article covering all the important things one would need to create a blog.
    Good job.

  3. Matt says:

    Great article Adrian. Nice tips and easy to understand and implement.
    I will definately be using some of your tips on my next project.

    Wish I had started earlier as well.

  4. A.B. Dada says:

    Putting /wordpress as your folder IS a big mistake, and something that bloggers need to think about from the get-go. My most popular 3 blogs were on blogspot and had a great pagerank and tons of in-bound links. Blogspot has been driving me nuts for months, so I moved them to new domains and what a pain it was to change everything. Thankfully Feedburner makes it simple to move stuff around :)

    I bet there are utilities that will let you change the wordpress directory easily. Look into them, maybe get a blog.domain subdomain for it?

  5. Mike says:

    I don’t know if it is a huge mistake using wordpress as your directory. It might just look a little “legacy like” if they ever change their name. Think Mambo -> Joomla.

  6. Razib Ahmed says:

    I am a big fan of blogger for two reasons. First it is free and I do not need to pay anything. Blogger also seems to be fast- may be it is blessed by Google. Secondly, blogger seems to generate traffic easily and also gets indexed by Google very quickly.

  7. Martin says:

    in my opinion too much advertising – the content is almost lost in all these ads, banners and links to books. also some numbers about amount of visitors would be welcomed :)

  8. colbert says:

    I love WordPress 2 too and just getting the hang of Movable Type now. They look different and its tough when you need to go online. So its always better to just try offline blog software like Blogjet and Qumana.