Over the past few months I've been working on a personal hobby site. I have to say, it's been a lot of work. It's been a while since I've built a new site, I've spent most of my time over the years working on my main business site and already-built client sites. Even when we are brought in for consulting in new site planning, it's someone else that does the work, not me.

After spending dozens of my free-time hours just getting this new site set-up, I can totally see why people would just rather pay someone else to do it for them.

Starting from scratch

I went the easy route and I found a $25 Wordpress theme that gave me most of the functionality I wanted with some extra cool features I liked. I spent the first week customizing it; adding plugins and tweaking the code. I don't know a whole lot of code outside of HTML but I can sort my way through it. I found some widgets to add and removed some that I didn't like.

Every now and then I came across an issue that I couldn't fix. A email to the theme developer and almost all my problems were quickly solved. I spent some time fiddling with a logo until I got it just how I wanted it.

Next I had to start building the site structure. How were my pages going to be categorized with both blog posts and the directory I was building? I did some tinkering along the way and I keep making improvements as I go, but finally got the basic structure in place.

Perfection never comes, so roll it out now

What I found most interesting during this process was the SEO elements. This took me far longer and was much more work (and a work in progress) than I anticipated.... and I haven't even started going through my optimization checklist.

But I realize that some things you have do to quickly so you can get moving forward. I don't have time to make it perfect, otherwise I'd never get the site done. I've spent countless hours tweaking this, that, and the other, but only after the site has been live and generating traffic.

In fact, that's been one of the most frustrating things: There is always something more to do. Put aside the actual content generation of the site (I write reviews of restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio,) I have an ever-growing list of things that I have to do in order to promote the site.

Let's see:

  • Twitter? Check. I'm was up to 80 followers in the first three weeks, and hover around 150 now.
  • Optimized directory title tags? Check. I performed more specific keyword research about a week and a half after going live.
  • Optimize directory page text for keywords? I got to that round four weeks after going live.
  • Populate the directory? Only what I've reviewed, nothing else.
  • Create a Flikr Profile? Started this about five weeks in and soon abandoned it.
  • Create a Facebook fan page? Done but not utilizing it well.
  • Create a coupon page? Sort of. Nothing special.

And it seems every time I get an item knocked off my things-to-do list I add two more! And I still have to write reviews of the places I go, which means I can't spend every evening in front of the computer working on these things, I actually have to go out and experience something to review.

All said and done, this little hobby site of mine has occupied just about every bit of spare time I've had and there is always somethign more, more, more to do.

The Client's vs. SEOs perspective

Now I understand why people hire SEO firms... this is a lot of work! Arguably I know a thing or two about SEO, yet I can't imagine trying to do all this without the knowledge base that I have.

Many people in this just-starting-out position jump into a new project without realizing just how time consuming this web stuff really is. Those that know enough to know that they don't know enough often times don't know quite enough to realize that even those of us that do know enough about what we are doing can't wave a magic wand that makes results appear overnight. (That was a mouthful!)

Client's want results and, rightfully so, but to some once they right that check, the results are supposed to be delivered like a pizza on game night. But in reality, it doesn't happen like that at all. There is a lot of details that have to be planned, implemented, and followed through on, otherwise the site won't go anywhere.

*Participation not included

Why have I been so successful with this project over the past few months? (I'm using that term relatively.) It's because I have been engaged in the marketing of the site, beyond the SEO and development. Had I handed the SEO and development of the site to someone else it probably would have been completed, but the site would be stagnating with very few visitors. Some things just can't easily be handed off with a check. Those that can still take active participation by the writer of that check.

I have to be engaged in twitter as often as possible. I have to join conversations and establish relationships. I could pay someone else to do this but guess what? It would take just as much time for someone else. I just have to decide where my time is most valued. Do I run the business or do I market the business?

Every business owner has to decide how they will proceed. Hire some or all of the marketing out or do it themselves. Those who don't do it themselves honestly have no idea what's involved. Heck, I do this for a living and sometimes I have no idea what's involved.

One of the best things about doing this is that I'm learning quite a bit. Some of this is old hat to me while other portions of it are brand new. Through this hobby site I'm learning valuable skills that I'll be able to bring to the table for my clients. That right there makes it all worth it.

December 15, 2009

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


We are our own worst enemies. I've been endlessly and needlessly fiddling with a personal site of mine. I just need to leave well enough alone and start working on the content.

"Perfection never comes, so roll it out now" - So true.

Perfection comes at a price. I know, for I too am never happy with what I have created and constantly tinker - but at what cost to your business?

It has been a hard lesson for me to learn, but I now apply the 80/20 rule to most of what I do. There are some tasks that demand perfection and they get perfection, but the rest, ie those that have minimal impact on my goals, get the standard treatment!

Great article.

"I performed more specific keyword research about a week and a half after going live."

Sounds familiar. That's about where I'm at with the new site. You're right though, if I waited for perfection the site would never have started. Ready-Fire-Aim is a good strategy, especially in anything related to business and technology.

I'm aiming for the niche of small business owners who really want to learn to do (most of) it themselves. I know for some of them there's no alternative, they have more time than cash at this point.

I've got over 20 years experience in corporate training, and I've tested my content with some clients who did 90% of their own site work themselves with no technical background, and built their first site with Wordpress just as you described.

It will be interesting to see how many of the people that I personally know who want a site will actually do the work.

I like your site. I'll keep reading!

With a couple of exceptions, that's the same experience we've had designing, developing and working with our web builder on our site. We went live last March and the site, www.standoffsystems.com, seemed pretty well developed at the time. Many months later certain realities are set firm in my thinking. First, it will never be done and second, even though it seems the heavy lifting is now done, experience indicates that is probably not accurate either.

Anyone developing and building a web site that is intended to serve some function other than a way to have a presence on the web, should beware. Your job will NEVER be done. The internet is a dynamic world. SEO methodologies continue to morph and improve requiring constant attention what's going on. Marketing in not a benevolent dictator. Web site viability comes from meeting needs of visitors. They are not static. The idea that you're finished with a web site simply means that you are content with it and nothing more. It's business; and business that is not growing is in the process of dying.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had everything they needed until they disobeyed God. No labor was required of them and they lacked nothing needed for an abundant and fulfilling life. After the fall, God told them that going forward, man would only eat by the sweat of his brow. Maybe building a web site is kind of like original sin it brings about the unintended consequence of never ending toil. That's OK though, because when done well, it can be a lot of fun with great potential for reward.

Some things just can't be outsourced successfully. Engaging customers in the social spaces like Twitter is probably one of them. Being an actual person concerned with your customers and their problems just doesn't translate well when you pay someone to do it. It also speaks volumes about the SEO professional that you hire - if they are honest and realistic, they will guide the client on how to get the most bang for their buck, rather than throw terms like twitter and social media in their face with promises of unlimited returns. In some situations the returns are going to be very modest no matter how much effort or money you put into it.

There is a typo in this line in the article above; once they right that check.

Thank you.

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Getting the Itch to Start from Scratch