Celebrating the first year of ralphjsmit.com 🥳

Time flies! Just thirteen months ago I started this website and it has been a great ride. I really enjoyed the writing process and having the ability to share some of the solutions to problems I encountered.

In that first year, I:

  • published 47 articles;
  • got 42,9K visitors and 1,45 million views from Google (according to Search Console);
  • went to 12K monthly visitors.

All-in-all, I’m really thankful for how it went. When I started, I absolutely didn’t expect this. Thank you!

Timeline

Below is a short timeline of everything important that happened in the past year.

October 2020

I started looking for a WordPress job around October 2020. I didn’t have much of a portfolio back then, so I decided that a beautiful website would help me with finding a job,

At the time I was only into WordPress, so blog would be in WordPress. I initially focused much on the design for an individual blogpost and not so much on archive pages. (I thought archive pages would come naturally later!)

An empty blog is not a blog, so I wrote three articles for the website to get started:

  1. How to integrate Elementor in a WordPress theme (270 clicks in one year)
  2. 8 reasons to use Kirki as theme developer (0 clicks in one year; guess that I didn’t have a good feeling of what content ranks and what not 🙄)
  3. How to use TGM Plugin Activation – Full beginner’s guide (2021) (472 clicks in one year)

December 2020

Blog officially goes live. November 30, 2020 is also the first day that the blog appears in Google. (It received one view on that day.)

Traffic wasn’t much, but it was going upward. I still have fond memories of that time, checking out Google Search Console every day to see how it was going.

At the end of December I was at about 50/60 views a day and ~1-2 clicks a day.

Tuesday January 19, 2022

January 19, 2021 was officially the last day that my website got 0 clicks

Summer 2021

For a few months I posted almost nothing, because of my exams. You can see that growth went somewhat slower, but I mainly blame this for the slow growth in the last months of 2021.

July 2021

I started a newsletter. Since the start I’ve only sent out one issue, so I’ll probably need to do this better. (Sign up below.)

October 2021

The month October was the first month that I reached the magical number of 10K visitors a month. This really was a milestone for me, as it made me realize that SEO is really a long-term play. (Which I why I start loving SEO much more.)

November 2021

November 2021 was a bit of a weird month in terms of traffic. The first week, traffic spiked. Th enext week traffic fell 50%. I still don’t know what this meant.

I made a few changes in that time, with the goal of speeding up the website. I added a caching plugin and removed the featured image on mobile phones, as it was quite big and only repeated the title.

I quickly rolled back both changes and tried adding them back separately, in order to identify what issue caused the traffic changes. Because I had the idea that both were bad, I quickly rolled them back again.

Finally I settled on removing unnecessary WordPress plugins (I thought I already had everything quite barebones, but turned out I was wrong). This sped up the website and changed all my pages in Google PageSpeed from ‘Bad’ to ‘Needs improvement.’

Total traffic in the first year

Traffic in the first year of ralphjsmit.com.

Plans for 2022

To make a great second year also, I aim for the following:

  • Publish consistently every week and reach the total number of 100 articles on the site
  • Redesign the blog and move everything to (the more speedier and extensible) Laravel
  • Spend more time on the newsletter, e.g. by sending out an issue every day.

Sending the newsletter and registering new subscribers is a very manual process now. I noticed that I don’t really enjoy it, so when I’m taking a look at redesigning the website, I’ll certainly look at automating the newsletter as well.

As always, thank you for reading! ❤️

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Image Ralph J. Smit
Ralph is a designer gone developer. He happily lives in the Netherlands. His passion for good design drove him towards development, because he felt that no-code tools were too limiting. On this blog, Ralph writes the articles he would've wanted to have during his continual developer journey. → Follow on Twitter

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