It’s been a learning experience
My experience designing and launching websites actually dates to around 2003. I’ve always been a technology geek of sorts and when the internet emerged around 1994, I was intrigued at its potential. Not surprisingly, several of my coworkers shared the same interest and we’d get together for lunch around once a week and talk about our adventures.
Affiliate programs and web design
The first website I designed used PHP Nuke as its content management system. This venture was based on an affiliate program business model. I’ll spare you the details, but this is a notoriously competitive industry and I learned 95% of what I know today about digital advertising from that experience. Oh, and I forgot to mention this was a hobby site, meaning the primary source of my income would come from my full-time job.
In fact, my full-time job was in a marketing department and I unselfishly shared my learnings with my employer. Over the course of several weeks, I “schooled” several individuals in the techniques I learned from my hobby site. In turn, they launched advertising programs and much of what that company does today is based on advice I provided back in 2004. Interestingly, one of the persons in attendance later launched his own digital advertising firm.
Work comes first then search engine optimization
I’ve always been a workaholic, so finding time in the evenings and weekends to work on a website was never a problem until I was asked to be the front, middle, and back-office lead on a $160 million project to replace our aging customer system. That project took three years to complete, and the work hours were grueling.
By September of 2009, I once again had my evenings and weekends to myself again and I could work on my hobby site. This time around I chose Joomla as the content management system. This venture was also my introduction to search engine optimization. Back then Google would do a dance each month, which involved massive ranking fluctuations as they updated their algorithm. Webmasters would study these changes and talk about what factors may have influenced rankings.
Today, Google no longer dances and is much more transparent about the techniques webmasters should use to rank well on their search engine. Admittedly, much of this advice is intuitive.
AWS, Google Cloud and Azure
Over the years I used several hosting companies. Generally, you get what you pay for when it comes to hosting. Cheap hosting can be a recipe for disaster and might even result in the hacking of your website. I’ve been hacked myself and it’s a very unsettling experience. Thankfully, I maintained a schedule of offsite backups that I could use to recreate a site. Getting hacked also resulted in my introduction to security. It prompted me to learn about how to stand up a server and learn about offerings from Amazon’s AWS, Google Cloud Computing, and Microsoft’s Azure.
Putting it all together
All the above experiences are once again coming together with the launch of webhostconnect.com. And while working on websites continues to be a hobby, it might one day be a full time in-retirement job. Until then tireless hours will be spent in the evenings and on weekends trying to cobble something together that is representative of the nearly twenty years of experience in an industry that continues to pique my interest.