This being my 100th post, I would like to take time to talk about myself and my site. What can I say? It’s been a crazy ride. I am currently in a super transitory moment in my life. My student internship is ending, I’ve already graduated with a masters, and the time to leave Bloomington-Normal, is near. Goodbye College. I am currently looking for a full time position, I apply for a few jobs a day. Luckily, I am always bringing in freelance work, but I still want the real thing. I might be leaving what was my home for the last six years, but I’ve also created my own home-base, geebart.com.
I’ve often been obsessive over this site and at times even pulled my hair out. When it is all said-and-done, geebArt.com is my identity. It is who I am. It means everything to me. geebArt is the culmination of roughly 8-10 months of research, coding, and sleepless nights. It has been an insane amount of work, but the process has been invaluable. Every problem solved, every plugin researched, every design refurbished, has put me closer to being a full-out “WordPress” professional. And today, I am proud to say that I am there!
In order to explain this journey, I’d like to explain how I got here, showcase my site’s features, analytic, and proudest moment, and finally, dream about my future.
After taking an advanced web course at Illinois State University with my friend and mentor, Rick Valentin, I started to get increasingly interested in Content Management Systems. At this point I wasn’t sure exactly how they worked or exactly they could do. I knew they were powerful and taking over the web. WordPress, being the most popular, easy to use CMS, seemed like a good place to start. However, after installing and jumping right into the files it was obvious I didn’t understand theme structures or have a basic understanding of PhP. Luckily, my advanced web course gave me a crash course on mySQL and PHPmyAdmin. This allowed me to build my own CMS around my site. The extent of my CMS was mostly using mySQL databases with PHPmyAdmin as an interface for uploading and maintaining content. It was crude and rudimentary, but it worked.
Below is the old version of my site upon finishing my own CMS. At the time I was on Vista and a custom FireFox skin. The site itself had a LiveStream window above the nav (which rarely worked), and had a slightly different design. As you can see, I’ve always been interested in white on black, tubes, and long, horizontal navigation.
After researching WordPress some more, I decided that I needed to make the switch. Further developing a CMS seemed to be outside of my current skill set. Even with months of work, I’d still be building towards a WordPress-like CMS anyways. So, why not start with my own site in order to learn WordPress? It had to be done.
After getting my feet wet with WordPress, I landed an internship at Institutional Web Support Services (IWSS) at Illinois State University (ISU) as a WordPress Specialist and Designer. Over the course of this internship I fine tuned my design skills and WordPress Development. It was a great experience in learning how to work towards deadlines, to work in a team of others, and to better understand design and development simultaneously.
I would like to take this moment to thank Jake DeGeal for taking me under his wing and living up to the name, Jake “the Dream Destryoer” DeGeal. I appreciate your help and guidance. I only hope we can continue to work together in the future.
In this section I’d love to go over three sub sections; site features, analytics, and the future.
After months of work, I am now on my 100th post in my new WordPress CMS backed site. It’s hard to believe that my site is only 8 months old. It has come along way from “simple blog site” to “full featured WordPress CMS site.” Needless to say, I am proud of what it can do…
- It is SEO friendly
- Heavily optimized for load speeds
- Supports mobile devices
- Has a newsletter mailing system
- Redesign that is less than two weeks old
- Advanced share icons with ShareThis
- Displays my latest posts from Facebook and Twitter
- Uses a Caching plugin with a Content Distribution Network (WP Super Cache with AWS CloudFront)
- Auto-tweets old posts from a range
- And much more…
While my site doesn’t showcase everything I am now capable of with WordPress, you can visit my Hire Me page to get more info! Another new section of the site by the way.
Over the past 8 months I have amassed a total of 5,000 hits, 3,000 of which have happened in the last 2 months. In the last month I have had 1,888 hits, but here is list of all the data from the last month…
- 1,888 Visits (With return visitors)
- 1,317 Absolute Unique Visitors (Without Return Visits)
- 4,949 Total Pageviews
- 2.62 Average Pageviews per Visitor
- 00:03:49 Time on Site per Visitor
- 67.80% Average Bounce Rate
- 65.25% New Visits
It is clear that I am at the start of something that is starting to snowball. At one point, I did break 2,000 visits in single month but currently I am below. I am happy with the new design, the new shareThis icons, and the response I am starting to generate. One day I’ll be at 10,000 visits a month and probably laughing at this post. I can only hope.
With all this traffic, you would guess that I have some interaction taking place on geebArt. The post, “Facebook Status RSS Feed” currently holds the most comments for a single post at 32. My first explosion of visits was the direct result of this short tutorial. As more and more people visited I started to get complete strangers posting comments. It was exciting! This lead me to redesign this area, the default styles just looked terrible. Just another area I looked over when I first built the site.
The great thing about this post is that is solved a simple problem that a lot of people were having. This helped generate some search traffic for keywords that did not include the string, “geebart.” Commenters even assisted in making this post better. It has evolved quite a bit over the course of its lifespan. This included adding sections to the post that addressed the different URL’s for specific feeds, and even using a Facebook App to extract your RSS feed. Check out the post to get a better understanding. Overall, I am super excited about this post and glad I finally made a breakthrough.
So what is in store for Geeb and GeebArt? Sadly I have been moving away from the Artistic phase of my life. This is mostly due to the fact that I am constantly working and blogging. Generally I work 8-4 during during the day and then work on freelance stuff at night. The free time I do have, I generally put towards my own site. I have been working so much lately, I almost didn’t realize I was about to embark on my 100th post. Had I known, I would have published this guy a little sooner.
But, as I mentioned earlier, I am in an extremely transitory state in my life. I Graduated about two months ago, and I am applying for jobs like a madman. I’d love to continue a professional career developing WordPress sites, and I am pushing that skill set above the rest. The good news is, I am starting to land more face-to-face interviews instead of phone interviews. Much of the credit must go to job postings on LinkedIn and my new Hire Me page. Both seem to be generating traffic to my site as well as e-mails.
I just hope I transition into someone I like. While working the rest of my life seems scary, I want that experience, at least for a while. It is easy to call it a starting point of the worst time of my life (as so many people do when they refer to the professional world) but I am going to reserve my own judgements. Don’t get me wrong, I love college life, the friends, the hangouts, the bars, but It is time to move on. I am tired of being poor and dealing with other drunk poor people (still love all of you). Hours spent at the college pool just aren’t the same anymore. Different crowds and friends every year lead me to believe that is time for something more stable.
The truth is I have lot’s of experience with WordPress, my freelance work keeps me insanely busy, and I’ve been getting responses back from employers… I think this means it is only a matter of time before the next phase of my life begins. With that said I’d like to send out a special thanks to my ATK professor Rick Valentin, for your critiques, patience, wisdom, and friendship. A great deal of my success has been guided by your time and efforts. Also, thanks to my Uncle Shawn Smith. You are the creative genius I’ve always looked up to. Thanks for pushing me and sharing your advice. Thanks again.