I have been working hard since Thursday to get as much done on my passive income properties as I could, and I have learned a few things, both about myself and about the internet marketing game.
The first thing I learned is that my first niche site is for keywords that are way too competitive for a total SEO newbie to have taken on. Even with an exact keyword match for my domain name, my garlic site has still only reached the #7 spot in Google for the benefits of garlic. My ideal keyword is hanging out down at #14, and some other good keyword phrases are at #15, #25, and #26. I need to produce a ton of additional content for the site and do a lot of backlinking to get it to the top, and it’s just killing my motivation. And despite putting in a lot of hours trying to make it otherwise, the site is still badly designed and ugly as sin, which doesn’t help my motivation either.
I also learned that I can’t write quite as quickly as I previously thought. Knocking out content for my new niche site went much more slowly than I thought it would, but I do need to consider that I spent a lot of time modifying HTML and CSS files. That’s right. I have been putting together the second niche site by hand, instead of using WordPress. Why? because it is easier for me to modify things in HTML and CSS, and I actually know how to make it look good. I have no idea how to modify a WordPress theme. I can’t figure out how to tweak the navigation, or line up images properly, or make certain page NoFollow to keep them from sucking PR away from the homepage unless I do it manually.
I absolutely have to learn how to make my own WP themes from scratch. I want something designed specifically for niche sites that looks like it isn’t supposed to be a blog, and I haven’t found a theme yet that didn’t need to be modified to achieve that. Since I have no clue how to modify a theme, I’m stuck until I learn how to make a niche site theme of my own. I may even figure out how to make this blog look like more than a plain white page at some point, too.
I tried following an online tutorial on making a WP theme, but the author was a horrible communicator. So I got a book on WordPress and tried out the chapter about creating themes, and the author was even worse than the online tutorial guy! Allow me to paraphrase every bit of literature I have managed to find on WP themes so far: “WordPress themes are made up of templates. Within the templates is something called “the loop”. I’m not going to tell you what that is, but just know that the loop does everything important in WP. It calls stuff. PHP. Using multiple loops is possible, and can let you do lots of cool stuff. I won’t tell you what cool stuff that is, but there are more elegant ways to do those things, which I will also not talk about. Header. Post. <? Gizmo. The End.”
Don’t get me wrong here. I am not some computer-illiterate simpleton. I was writing programs when I was 12. I taught myself two programming languages, HTML, and CSS (although CSS still confuses me quite a bit). I just cannot for the life of me find any material on WP themes that was written by someone who knows how to talk about them to someone who doesn’t already know exactly how to create them.
Even worse, though, was the article about how to modify a WP theme for use on static sites (“Yay!” I thought when I saw the article’s title. Oh, little did I know…). The author literally said, “Delete all the files you don’t need.” How the hell do I know which ones I need? He listed a few specific ones, but basically just threw the reader under the bus for the rest. Later in the article, he said, “You didn’t delete such-and-such file did you? Well, you need it.” Such-and-such was, of course, one of the files that he specifically told the reader to delete just a few paragraphs before. Why would you not correct that, instead of leaving it in the damn article and making the reader dig the deleted file out of their recycling bin?! WTF?! Why can’t one reasonably competent person write a freaking tutorial on WordPress themes?! GAH!!!