When I write a blog post about WordPress, I don’t just post a link to a few of my favourite plugins, but instead write a 3,000+ word resource post. When I release a plugin like I did on Reputation Management, I don’t charge for it but instead give it away for free to the masses. So, when I have an announcement to make, you should know that I’m going to have some very big things to say.
The most noticeable change to ViperChill, is the introduction of a brand new redesign which makes its debut today. Though it’s the most noticeable, it’s not the biggest news I have to share with you all. If you’re anything like me, you probably want to see what the site looks like before you continue reading, so check it out if you’re currently seeing this in your inbox or feed reader.
I did like the “old” ViperChill design, but it came with its limitations. First of all, I felt like there was just too much happening colour-wise which distracted people from what’s important: the content. With the addition of new plugins and services, I also wanted better page layouts to show them off, but with the previous design iteration this just wasn’t that easy.
In light of other changes which are happening – some of which I’m announcing below – I decided now was a better time than any to update the design of the site, just over a year after it was started. I’m sure some people won’t like it, but in all honesty I’m fine with that. I know people don’t come to my site for how it looks, but I do believe how a site looks can help you convert visitors into fans.
The new design aims to do exactly that.
“If I had given people what they wanted, I would have built a faster horsecart” – Henry Ford.
The main thing I had in mind when designing the new theme was simplicity. I wanted to dull down all aspects of the site which weren’t part of the main content, and highlight what I thought was important. If you look at the homepage, for example, you will see the main things that stand out are the popular posts, subscription options, and how many comments each post has (social proof).
The new changes aren’t just about what I want, of course. I reached out to fans of the ViperChill page on Facebook and received some great suggestions. Some of the most common being:
The categories are now back on the site, and you can find them on the right sidebar. I never added categories to the old design simply because I was trying to make it look as minimal and clean as possible. Ironically, I can add more “clutter” to this new design, and it still looks a lot cleaner. Please give me a day or two to finish “recategorising” (it’s a word, honest) all of the posts, since I added two more categories.
There is now a search box on the site, which you can find on the right in the footer.
Though I thought the old design made it very easy to share content, it is possible that I was overlooking this, as a few people did mention it to me. At the bottom of all posts you will now see very clear links (at least I think so?) to share posts on both Facebook and Twitter. I’ve never had a prominent Facebook share/like button on the site, so I’m curious to see how often it’s used.
As with the previous iteration of ViperChill, I took a theme “shell” and completely overhauled it. I do all design work myself, including graphics, so the work doesn’t cost me anything more than my own time. If you see any bugs in the design, please do let me know. I have tested it across multiple platforms and browsers and everything looks fine, but these problems do creep in at times.
I’ve been thinking long and hard over the last few months about the direction I want to to go in online. As many of you know, this site makes up a tiny portion of my income, but it’s by far the one I have the most fun working on. I seriously couldn’t respond to 100+ comments every time I write an article if I didn’t love doing this.
While the growth the site has experienced and the audience it has built in a little over a year is amazing, it does come with its downsides. First of all, the amount of emails I get is beyond ridiculous. Even though I make it fairly difficult to contact me, I still get a lot of requests. And, just like comments, I feel obliged to reply to people simply because they took the time out to contact me.
Spending my whole day replying to emails and helping people one-on-one is obviously not as effective as writing a blog post which can help over 13,000 people. I also feel like I’m not offering as much value as I could be. I do pour my soul into every post I publish, and maybe I’m being a little harsh on myself here, but I could be doing so much more.
The other day I sent out this tweet:
My friend Pat replied with:
Before I wrote the tweet I was reminded how far I, him, and other ethical marketing bloggers out there have to go in order to help change the perceptions of this industry. Even if we can’t, at least we can do our part, and give the most value we can. I really want to leave a mark on this planet and I’m building a large enough audience where I can do exactly that. Now I just have to step up on the value front.
That’s why I’m…
And I’m paying them to help me give away as much free value as possible (read: I’m not releasing anything paid or new to cover their salaries). The first position I am bringing someone on for is sort of an intern slash assistant. This person will be handling my emails (don’t worry Cloud Living customers, I’ll still be receiving yours), dealing with any customer issues besides marketing questions, and interacting online as a part of this brand.
This is going to free up a huge portion of my time, and allow me to do what I think I do best: writing content.
The second position I am hiring for is a full-time developer. I seriously have more tool and resource ideas than you could ever think possible. What’s more, I genuinely believe every idea is a “OMG, people are going to love this!” kind of project. For the first three months or so, this person is going to be working on nothing but free tools to help you all with your online marketing efforts.
To start with, I’m working on a number of free WordPress plugins, so if there’s anything you want to see created, then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If it’s a good idea, there’s a 99% chance that I will make it for you. That’s the kind of value I want to be giving to you all.
The new additions will not be starting straight away, but will hopefully be starting in the next week or two once I have the business side of things drawn up. Oh, and they’ll both be working with me in Cape Town (but from the comfort of their own homes). This isn’t some “cool I can pay someone in India $4 per hour and tell the world about it” kind of operation. I want quality work, and I’m happy to pay for it.
To start the value ball rolling, I’m releasing another free WordPress plugin today. You can see the plugin in action in the right side of the ViperChill footer. The aim of the plugin is to allow you to show forms of social proof very easily, to help you get more blog subscribers.
Not everyone can use their feed count as a “wow, this blog is popular” tool, especially if you’re just starting out. However, some blogs do have an impressive number of posts, comments, Facebook fans and Twitter followers. This plugin makes it very easy for you to show these off.
Head on over to our new WordPress Plugins page to get the download links and installation instructions for my latest offering.
To give an example of how I want to use the new full-page-width features of the site, I put together a list of the most popular and powerful article directories. As most of you know, article directories can be a good and easy to way to get backlinks to your website. The data is static, for now, but it was compiled in the last 24 hours so it is very fresh and relevant.
Head on over to the article directories page to see it in action.
Though it wasn’t too long ago that I put together a list of my most commonly used internet marketing tools, I did want to put a better resources page online. From free analytics tools, link building software and niche research offerings, I’ve put together a list of the most common things I use. I will be updating this on a regular basis so keep checking back for more.
You can click the link in the site header, or go to the page here.
I’ve literally worked 18 hours each day, for the past 5 days, to put all of this together (even the new plugin). Though the work load was quite extreme, hopefully you can see what is possible when you dedicate time to something. I’m going to fix any inevitable bugs which have cropped up with the new design and answer some comments, then I’m going into hibernation for the next 24 hours.
Happy Valentines Day to all of my female readers, and a massive “thank you” to all of you for being part of this awesome community.