Get a snapshot of it took to have site success in 2019, the hurdles we overcame, and what’s coming next from BlogAid.
My Success is Your Success
Honestly, there’s only one true measure of success for BlogAid and that’s my clients succeeding with sites that get found, read, and acted upon, are fast and secure, and that they are empowered to fully run themselves.
And that’s exactly what happened in 2019.
The Biggest Site Success
Hands down, my site audit clients received THE most in-depth coverage of what it takes to run a successful site. They enjoy our private Facebook group as well as a free member area where I share news and tutorials I don’t make public.
Tips Tuesday readers had a super easy to keep up with everything that affects your site success. And it’s by far the best way to keep WAY ahead of the curves so you can calmly go about your daily business while other bloggers are panicking about the latest change that caught them by surprise. 15 minutes a week is all it takes to stay ahead.
And of course, the designers and site maintenance providers in the Webmaster Training are keeping their client’s sites super secure and fast and up-to-date way before any changes go into effect. And that keeps both them and their clients in business.
I am SO proud of everyone who embraced Gutenberg this year via my Gutenberg Ninja course! They are enjoying the ease of creating their own landing pages, optins, home pages, and saving 80% on design costs for new themes!!
What Happened in 2019
Site tech changes ALL the time.
My job at BlogAid is to keep you well informed with deep testing of hosts and plugins so you can choose the best ones for you.
And, I keep a constant eye on security and performance enhancements for you too.
All of this keeps us WAY ahead of the curves so we don’t get caught by surprise.
Following are the highlights of what my clients calmly succeeded in doing this year that helped bring them success.
More importantly, it helped them avoid expensive pitfalls and panic.
Peace of mind is worth more than anything.
And the best part – they did it all a little at a time and in a calm way.
We like easy and no panic around here!
- A Jump Start series of quick checks on Yoast and Google settings prior to the start of live workshops in the DIY SEO course.
- Continued to hold off implementing Gutenberg in the WordPress 5.1 update, as I suggested they do back in 2018 when WordPress 5.0 came out.
- Knew what theme changes to look for in the Genesis 2.8 update.
- Got faster sites by reading my 2 posts on the best free and paid social share button plugins and switched to the ones I recommended as best for both site speed and max function.
- Knew what steps to take when the huge Collection #1 data breach hit.
- Began following my Hobby to Money-Making Site series with great interest as I started the process of flipping the carving site I had let go fallow into a woodworking site.
- Discovered that Kate Ahl was my secret influencer was for my Pinterest case study.
- Made use of a tutorial on all Scriptless Social Sharing settings, which was the case study winner for speed, bar none.
- Whoever was still using Social Warfare had to leave due to it being hacked. But my clients read my post on what to do and didn’t make the mistake of deleting the plugin too soon and didn’t lose all of their extra meta data and share and such.
- Got insider info on rapid changes to Social Pug on my review and settings tutorial due to me working directly with the dev to make it faster and incorporate even more functions that were similar to those found in Social Warfare.
- Discovered why it was finally time to jump on the Gutenberg train.
- Learned how to find and whitelist their IP address in Cloudflare that became necessary due to conflicts with the WordPress REST API tripping wires on the Web Application Firewall.
- Knew to wait to update to Yoast SEO 11 so they would not setup an SEO schema markup conflict with Genesis themes.
- Learned how to export redirects from the Yoast SEO premium plugin to the Redirection plugin before dumping the paid version of Yoast SEO.
- Got a sneak peek at what was in WordPress 5.2 before it was released and whether it was okay to update yet or not.
- Testing results for speed and SEO on the GeneratePress theme.
- Quick look at tests on the new features in WP Tasty and WP Recipe Maker plugins that directly impacted their SEO.
- First notice of the new speed reports in Google Search Console and whether to pay attention to them yet or not, plus how that data was being gathered.
- Jumped into the new Gutenberg Ninja course and were totally amazed at all they could do with Gute.
- Got a heads up 7 months in advance to upgrade their PHP level to at least 7.2, as support for 7.1 would be dropping in Dec.
- Learned how to whitelist their Facebook ASN IP in Cloudflare due to changes Facebook made to their API that also tripped security wires at the Cloudflare WAF.
- First look at why I started suggesting that folks leave SiteGround over their goofy changes and morphing into a pseudo managed host.
- Dumped the aging Contact Form 7 with the help of my tutorial on Formidable Forms to help speed up their sites and put them in better GDPR compliance too.
- First to learn about a little-known trick in Gutenberg for putting text links on images.
- Learned why they didn’t want to use AMP on their site, even though Google was pushing hard for it. This alone saved my clients from tanking thier revenue lower than whale poop!
- Learned about the new XML sitemaps coming to WP core and why we would not be using it and sticking with Yoast instead.
- How Genesis 3.0 was breaking a few sites and exactly what to check immediately after update, plus fixes.
- Got informed about the major changes to links that were announced by Google and how WP was now being super flaky with they way links were auto created by reading my Ultimate Guide for Creating Links in WordPress which covers all editors
- A heads up about the Ultimate Nofollow plugin getting unexpectedly pulled from the WordPress plugins repository and why they should not delete it and what to do instead.
- Why you need to check your site security after a theme redesign.
- All of the advantages of using Squoosh for image optimization prior to upload and why Google loves you for it.
- How Pretty Links was causing disk space overages and getting host accounts shut down.
- A primer on how to embed Pinterest images in your post, including hidden ones – covered all editors
- What was coming in Genesis 3.1 that could break your site
- Tests on the latest Gutenberg blocks and a page builder and why not to use it
- First word on the new custom control panel at SiteGround
- A video tour of the new custom control panel at SiteGround
- First look at a new hosting package at NameHero that I was the first to test
- First word on lazy load coming to Chrome and why not to rely on it and what to do instead
- Quick Check Booster for site audit clients to get their sites ready for massive holiday traffic
- Why I started taking a super hard look at Astra themes and now recommend it over Genesis
- Why not to use the new Lazy Load plugin from Google
- A first look at the new Site Kit plugin from Google and why not to use it either
- Why Google hates Instagram embeds on your site
- An emergency update of LastPass
- Updates on the new sponsored links from Google and when to use them
- Video tour of new features in WordPress 5.3
- Warnings about Chrome blocking mixed content for HTTPS sites starting in Dec
- Constant reminders and a tutorial on updating to at least PHP 7.2 before Dec
- The release of 38 new Gutenberg Ninja tutorials covering the WP 5.3 update even before it came out
- Why so many folks were migrating off SiteGround
- Heads up about a serious vulnerability in the Broken Link Checker plugin and why not to use it no matter what
- Why you need to stop using Thrive
- News of Social Pug being sold to Mediavine
- What was up with recipe and travel sites getting hit in latest Google update
- How Gutenberg makes it so easy to monetize a site
- What the personalization of SEO means for checking rank
- A sampling of 8 full pages that can be made with Gutenberg alone, no builders
Goals I Accomplished in 2019 for BlogAid
BlogAid is a two-fold business of site education and services.
That means I spend a LOT of time reading and testing and then bringing all of that info to you.
Following are the goals I set for BlogAid in 2019 and I’m proud to report that I got all of them done!
Gutenberg was released too early and I told all of my peeps to hold off using it because it just wasn’t ready yet.
Fortunately, that didn’t last too long!!!
Once we had the code base in the core development really took off. And when it became a viable editor, I started making the Gutenberg Ninja course.
And I’m SUPER excited about how fast and far Gute has come in less than 1 year!!!!!!
Gutenberg was absolutely the key to my future success with Heartwood Art – the hobby site I flipped into a money-maker.
And now it’s clear that Gutenberg means the death of page builders.
Plus, it’s quickly on its way to becoming a full theme builder too.
In 2019 I built THE premier Gutenberg course. It’s way beyond an introduction. It covers real-world content creation, styling, and layout.
I updated it twice in 2019, the last one nearly being a full rebuild with 38 new tutorials, as so much had been improved in just 6 months. Plus it included a whole new section with 8 full page layouts for home page, landing pages, optins, events, and so much more.
The Gutenberg Ninja course was first released on Teachable, as I wanted to try it to see if it would be a viable alternative to running my own member sites.
It’s okay. But honestly, I could do even more with coupons, affiliates, and marketing from my own member sites.
So, I moved the course back to my own member sites for new purchases and offered everyone still on Teachable an insane discount when they were ready to extend their time in the course and move over to the new home for it.
Flipped 2 member sites to new member system
I had been running my member sites on WishList Member for years. But I found it limiting, especially for affiliate integration and coupons, hence why I tried Teachable.
In the summer I made a HUGE change to both The BlogAid Learning Center, which is the member site for the DIY SEO course, the Gutenberg Ninja course, and the Site Audit Client private member areas, and to the Webmaster Training member site by switching them over to MemberPress.
It was a nightmare that went on for 2 months due to extremely poor support from the devs.
It will take me years to make back what it cost to do that switch.
But by the same token, it’s saving me money with an integrated affiliate program.
And it’s making me more money with those affiliates, and now that I can easily offer coupons and such too.
So, was it worth it. Well, it will be in the long run, let me put it that way.
But this fiasco put me 2 months behind on all of my other goals for BlogAid, and that hurt in ways I’m still feeling by what I had to do to play catch up by year’s end.
Switched Heartwood Art to Gutenberg and New Theme
I have been itchy all year to switch the theme on Heartwood Art!
And I was just waiting on Gutenberg to become viable to do it.
The theme revamp didn’t take long, as I already had most of my ideas for it planned out due to what I knew about Gutenberg. And Gute saved me a bunch on design costs as well.
I decided to use a Genesis theme for several reasons.
My designer had already converted the base theme (Kreativ Pro) to be fully Gutenberg compliant. That saved me money.
And that them had the layout options I needed, like widget areas in the sidebar and footer. That also saved me money.
I built most all of the pages, including the home page in Gutenberg and could lay them out any way I wanted. That saved me a TON of money.
Plus, going this route was faster too. And with me playing catch up on time, that became a huge factor in my decision.
Got into the DIY niche
Most of my clients are in the foodie, DIY, and craft niches. Many are huge on Pinterest and run ads on their sites for revenue. And most work with Mediavine as their ad agency.
They need all kinds of plugins and techniques that I just don’t work with on BlogAid.
So, it was in my best interest to get into their world so I would have a better understanding of their needs and could have my own site to test things on too.
That’s what Heartwood Art is all about.
And I knew all I would learn from creating it as a business site would flow over into BlogAid. And it did!!!!
I’ve been able to help my clients so much more because I’m experiencing first-hand what they face day to day with these particular niche sites and needs.
Ran a Summer Sale
I have run winter holiday sales for years on BlogAid.
But I had never run a summer sale before, until this year.
I was overwhelmed with site service requests!!!!!!!!!!
And folks gobbled up the course discounts like crazy.
For site services, I’ve been booked 4-6 weeks out since July. That normally happens starting around October and goes through March.
I’m thrilled about it and will definitely consider doing it again next year.
Participated in more blogger groups
Y’all know how I feel about the kind of advice you get in blogger groups.
If you don’t, read this The Worst Website Advice You’ll Ever Get
So, this year I decided to do something about it and get into several blogger Facebook groups.
It’s worse than I thought!!!!!!!!
I had to leave the groups that catered to newbies as the admin was promoting Bluehost and other horrible recommendations and I just couldn’t take it in silence. And there was no way I was going to refute the admin on their own turf!! So I left.
For the other groups, folks listen to who they know, not who knows what they are talking about.
So, I didn’t refute anyone for at least 6 months. I just gave answers where I could and let others say what they had to say.
After answering questions every day for at least 8 months, folks finally began to trust me, even more than the other non-techie top answering folks, and then the tide had turned.
Now I’m going after the bad advice when I see it pop up.
And the non-techie folks that had been answering everything with bad advice are having to update their knowledge base that is at least 5 years out of date.
I’ve noticed they comment later that my advice is spot on, and that’s riding my coattails so they can stay relevant in the game.
And more folks are tagging me with questions now.
All of this has started gaining the attention and respect of the admins too.
I hope that leads to more opportunities to partner with them as well.
DIY SEO workshops and fall booster
I run the DIY SEO live workshops starting in January and we go into April with them.
And the last ones are about content revamp, including what to do with older posts.
While I can cover what to do in the workshops, the doing of it is a lot of work!
So this year we did a booster in the fall to help all of us, including me, get back to work on those old posts.
It was very helpful and I plan to do it again in 2020.
What’s Coming in 2020 for BlogAid
Here’s what I have in store for us in the coming year.
I miss Blab – a LOT!!!!
I miss the community it created the most.
But the other big thing I miss was an easy way to do client interviews.
I’m convinced that site owners hearing from their peers is the best way to help them understand what it takes to be a successful DIY site owner.
I think streaming directly to Facebook is my best option, but I’m not thrilled with any of the livestream platforms that natively integrate with Facebook.
I have the $15/mo version of Zoom for my client meetings and live workshops. But I’m not crazy about paying $40/mo for their webinar feature that can stream to Facebook. It has their huge logo watermarked all over it and I think that is exceptionally tacky.
So, I’ve made room on my calendar to learn OBS and stream Zoom to Facebook using it. OBS has improved radically since the first time I tried it years ago and I think it may be the ticket.
I’ve got a few other options with this, if OBS/Zoom doesn’t work well.
I have THE premier Gutenberg course and I want the whole world to know about it.
I’ll be running ads for it in 2020.
But, the main thing I know will help the most is showing folks the power of Gutenberg and just how far it has come, and where it’s going.
Right now I’m working on the first major webinar to show off Gute and answer questions.
And that’s the other reason why I want to get the livestreaming setup figured out too.
It’s not just for interviews.
There’s also a new plugin that lets your stream Zoom to a page on your site and I’ll be checking that out too.
More time spent with Heartwood Art
Everything I’ve learned with flipping this site into a money maker has helped me help my BlogAid clients and webmasters even more.
I’ve laid the foundation in 2019.
For 2020, I have all kinds of plans to expand on that foundation.
I’m also using that site as my proof-of-concept for what it takes to have a profitable niche site.
I can already see new classes and workshops coming from what I’ve learned already.
And I think making money with that site in 2020 will be what it takes to advertise how to create a money-making site and folks believe that I know what I’m talking about.
Getting mad and doing something about it
For years now I’ve looked at the gurus and blogging groups that offer bad site advice as seeding my business for the next year.
Well, I’ve had enough of the crazy cycle this has grown into.
Those groups now advise folks who are making a little money to start their own course on how to make money online.
We have the ignorant leading the blind and it’s nuts!!!!!
I haven’t decided exactly all of what I’m going to do about it yet.
But I am going to start speaking out some sort of way.
LOTS of it.
I actually fell in Google rankings in 2019.
Despite what seems like a ton of content above, too much of it was just news, and too much was couched only in Tips Tuesday.
I run annual speed tests on hosts, plugins, and more starting in January every year. I generally only share that data with my webmasters. In 2020 I’ll be making it public.
I’ll also be updating results from last year’s tests on the best plugins to use for recipes, sharing, caching, and more, as things have changed with those plugins too.
And, I’ll be updating tutorials that are out of date for plugins and such too. That also means removing a lot of videos on YouTube and replacing with new ones. It’s like starting over all the time there as so much of the content is not evergreen. Oh well!! Needs to be done.
Less Emails from Me
If you subscribed to BlogAid News then you also subscribed to having all posts delivered via email.
Since I plan to be a content producing machine in 2020, I’ve decided to only send you emails for new news and tutorials and Tips Tuesday, which will have the roundup of everything I posted that week.
That makes Tips Tuesday even more of a must-read than it already is!!!
However, I will still be promoting every new and updated post on social media. See the links in the sidebar for your preferred place to follow me.
And the BlogAid Facebook page is where I always do livestreams of breaking news.
I’ll also send out the BlogAid News newsletter if it’s something urgent.
I’m actually going to jump the gun on the new year and start the email reduction with this post.
I’m excited for our future
I appreciate you taking your site ownership journey with me!!!!
I see big things in store for us this coming year.
And I see even more ways to help you continue to be a successful DIY site owner and webmaster in 2020.