I am writing this post for you to understand what it takes to build a site like inpeaks.com with no prior experience in website building or website designing.
The idea of starting a site grew up when I was reading a book called ‘The Success Principles’ written by Jack Canfield, an American author.
He had also brought out a book series named ‘Chicken Soup for the soul’ on different topics like work, marriage, family, teenagers and so on.
One of the sentences that strike me was ‘taking the first step is the difference between actually pursuing your passion and just dreaming about it’. So I felt that action is more important than just dreaming about what you need in life.
You would have come across similar situation in your life. Most of them give up on it because of lack of money or lack of knowledge or lack of support or lack of time.
In my case I always felt the need to start small and scale on it rather than going for the big shark and being swollen by it. Anything you start will obviously have an end and will have both failures and successes in it.
So I came up with a pre-determined mindset that failures will be present but that need not stop me from doing what I am doing. Only thing that I can do from failures is learn from it and move forward in life.
As I am working on shifts in a company on a salary basis I did not have much time to contribute to the growth of the site. However a couple of free hours a day was enough for me to build the site.
Domain and Site Registration
To begin with it was domain registration and server space. I am from India and so I felt the need to get customer support from here.
So I found the hosting provider to be bigrock. There was not much research done before choosing the provider. Then about the domain name I needed it to be short and simple.
Moreover the domain names are unique and so most of the names of interest were already taken up by other parties. Then with some search got the domain name ‘inpeaks.com’. It was started on a basic plan with limited options.
At first I was altogether stuck to understand what needs to done with the site.
Should I start a classifieds site or a forum site or a real estate site?
Slowly started exploring the softwares that were given along with the site’s registration.
WordPress was one among them and since I had earlier worked on a free plan with wordpress I decided to install it. With that done I found it was really a useful content management system to add content, edit content and modify content. It had a default twenty sixteen theme in it.
Secondly I felt the need to read a few blogs to understand the type of content that needs to be included. That is when the idea of reviews came into picture. So I started writing reviews on books, cars, mobiles movies and travel.
In the beginning it was easy because writing reviews on what you have already experienced is something special but writing reviews on something which you have never used was not making sense.
That’s when I thought about why reviews need to be only on the material things and why not on situations, circumstances, experiences and stories.
So the need to bring user opinions and user reviews became more relevant and meaningful.
In the process I was in the habit of reading leading blogs to get some insights on writing better content for the readers. Gradually I began to ask a few writers to add their content on my site with proper attribution and backlinks.
Having a few LinkedIn contacts on my professional network helped me to get a few write-ups that were posted on the site.
Later took ample time to compose a few online course materials on PowerPoint presentations, Microsoft Word, and an audio recorder. You will find both free as well as paid short-term courses in the site.
A few eBooks are also put on sale on the site for people who are interested to read online. The price of digital ebooks is pretty less and affordable. A few of them are given below:
Your Inner Greatness
The Organized Mind
Self Confidence Transformation
Organic Gardening For Beginners
Monetizing and Utilizing Your Website
A forum is incorporated to bring more user interactions and visitor engagements.
When I was looking at the site it was appearing a site that was pretty old and sluggish. I was trying to put all my efforts to make it look better but only to a certain limit. I felt the need to buy a WordPress theme that will solve the problem.
So I did a Google search and came up with a theme from Themegrill called ‘Colormag-Pro’. It was pretty good in design, layout, and functions. It costs me around 40 $ for a lifetime license.
Still, there were certain features that were missing on the site. Hence I realized the requirement to have plugins installed in WordPress. All the free WordPress plugins were looking great because of their features.
However, it was a tough time for me to figure out the best plugins on a specific functionality. While a large number of plugins serve the functions but they are not reliable and lack the desired quality. Most of the plugins have their free versions as well as their paid versions.
There are a number of online blog posts that write on the top WordPress plugins.
I might have tried around 80-100 plugins before coming up with a final list of around 18 plugins which I am currently using for the site inpeaks.com.
I will give the list of the plugins being used on our site and why we are using it. The same plugins need not serve your site’s design.
You may find the following list of plugins below:
- Akismet Anti-Spam: It blocks spam and protects the site from spammers.
- All-in-one WP security: This plugin helps to give user security to the WordPress site.
- Bbpress: Forum will not be possible on the site without the bbpress plugin.
- Better click to tweet: This plugin helps the user to share the post tips in Twitter.
- Broken link checker: It checks if any links are broken on the site.
- Contact form 7: It is needed to build forms to be used in contact us and feedback forms.
- Easy digital downloads: This plugin will help to place digital downloads like ebooks for customers.
- EWWW Image Optimizer: It compresses the pictures to improve the site’s performance.
- Google Analytics dashboard for WP: It is used to get the user analytics to monitor traffic zones.
- One signal push notifications: It will trigger a popup when a user first visits the site asking if he needs to receive notifications on new posts.
- Optin forms: This plugin is simple to get user email ids in exchange for a free download.
- Super socializer: It places icons for social media sharing like Facebook, twitter, Linkedin, google plus etc.
- Updraftplus – Backup/restore: It creates a backup in case your site crashes on account of malware.
- WP fastest cache: It helps to improve the site’s loading speed.
- WP fastest cache – Premium: It has additional features that help to improve site loading speed.
- WP Discuz: It is used in place of the WordPress conventional comment system.
- Yet another star rating: This plugin gives the visitor an opportunity to rate the posts.
- Yoast SEO: It is used as a search engine optimization to rank higher in google search results.
When you choose your plugins you have to consider the loading speed, complexity of the plugin settings, and reliability of its functions.
Sometimes your site may crash if you don’t have prior experience with the plugins.
While building the site there were times when the site got stuck, when it got hanged, sometimes it was unable to login as admin and also collapsed.
Due to the presence of online communities, it was easier to solve the issues because most of these issues were already tackled by other webmasters. The hosting providers are really helpful to approach and ask for solutions if it was an issue from their end.
Watching a few youtube videos on monetizing your blog, a few things that are included in the site for the purpose of monetisation are:
- Amazon affiliate ads
- Google AdSense
- Online e-courses
- Sale of E-books
Hope it helps you to find out what you are really looking after.
Developing the site did not cost me much but it really took time and effort to come up with the current state. Still, more areas need attention and improvement in the site.
Some of the bloggers whom I came across online are Neil Patel of Crazyegg, Harsh Agarwal of shoutmeloud, Amit Agarwal of labnoland and Jeff Bullas of jeffbullas.
Some of the interesting sites to know more about WordPress are:
Even if it took around 1 year to stabilize the first site I don’t think that a second site will take more than a month to build a similar one.
I would thank everyone who has directly or indirectly helped me to make this website possible. Appreciate if you leave your thoughts in the comment box below.
Tell us how we can improve?