A Peek Under The Hood

By glblguy

Hemi Engine

I thought it might be interesting for some of you to get a “peek under the hood” (plonkee, that’s a bonnet for you) at Gather Little By Little. So without further adieu…

Hosting and blog platform

Gather Little By Little (or GLBL from here on out) is hosted by DreamHost. GLBL is the first site I’ve hosted with DreamHost they have been great so far. Their control panel interface is easy and simple to use. They offer “one-click” installs of some of the most popular web software packages and unlimited email addresses and domains. One of the things I really like is the longer you are with them, the more disk space you get…all for the same price!

One of their “one-click” installs is WordPress, the blogging software used by GLBL. WordPress is the defacto standard software for blogs and the best part, it’s FREE! It offers a tremendous amount of features and an easy to use interface. Want to customize your site? No problem, WordPress makes it easy. There are literally thousands of plug-ins and themes available for download and most if not all of them are free! Plugins are “pluggable” controls of features you can easily add to WordPress to add all sorts of features.

GLBL Plugins

You can find a list of plugins I use on my top notch plugins I use article.

Theme

I use a heavily modified version of the minus 19-09 theme. Modifications I’ve made include:

  • Removal of the large footer
  • Replaced the header
  • Added a main navigation menu
  • Modified width of the sidebar
  • Modified to use a larger font
  • Custom Logo

I really like the colors and layout.

Statistics and Tracking

I have tried various different statistics packages for tracking site usage and volumes. At this point I have settled on using the following:

SiteMeter - I use this to provide viewable real-time statistics for visitors to the site, including potential advertisers. You can view my stats by clicking on the SiteMeter icon in the footer of every page.
Google Analytics – This is the main statistics package I use. Analytics provides an enormous amount of data, with easy to use graphs.
Feed Burner Feed Stats - Subscriber count and feed stats. I also run their web-site stats which provides similar data to SiteMeter and Google Analytics, but with different views.
HitTail – For tracking search hits and long tail keyword recommendations. Hittail also displays nicely formatted site hits in real time which is really nice. I keep this open and running at work sometimes so I can keep an eye on where my traffic is coming from.

Posting Schedule

When I first started the blog I really didn’t have a posting schedule my readers could expect. Over the past few months, I have fallen into the following schedule:

Monday - Monday Saving Monday Tip
Tuesday - General PF Posting
Wednesday - General PF Posting
Thursday - General PF Posting
Friday - Friday Gatherings, where I highlight my favorite M-Network and other pf blogger postings for the week
Tuesday - Thursday topics vary highly depending on what is on my mind or maybe even on what other bloggers are saying. I try to include articles on debt, savings, budgeting. Many with references to biblical scripture.

My schedule

I’m an early bird. I get up around 5:30am, eat breakfast, shower and then write articles until around 8:00am. During the evenings and during my lunch break at work, I spend time reading my favorite blogs. I also spend my evenings commenting on blogs I enjoy reading, and networking on MyBlogLog, Blogcatalog and StumbleUpon. I participate in a number of forums including forums on blogging, personal finance, and Christianity.

In the past few weeks, I’ve written a number of my articles while at my oldest son’s football practices. I’m the only one on the field typing away on a laptop, but hey I have to optimize my time. Most of this article was written on the field.

I don’t generally post on the weekends as I try to spend weekends with my family. If I do get time on the weekends I spend that time enhancing my blog by adding plug-ins and tweaking it by moving things around, changing fonts or just cleaning things up. I spent this past weekend cleaning up my sidebar and cleaning up some clutter.

I usually spend roughly 2-3 hours a day on my blog. Sometimes much more, seldom less.

Article ideas

I get article ideas from all over:

Things I see, like the green Lexus I saw one day driving to work. All of these provide great inspiration, but most of my articles come to me when I am driving to and from work. I’ll often see something or think of something completely unrelated to personal finance. As I think on it, I begin to either think about it from a financial perspective or put a financial slant on it.

My article why personal finance is like driving a caris a prime example of this.

I frequently wonder what in the world I am going to post next week but it never seems to be a problem. My biggest problem is remembering all of the ideas I have. To help solve that problem, I purchased a Sony Digital Voice Recorder. It stays with me all the time.

When I get an idea, I jot it down along with a brief one or two sentence thought about the article and what I want to accomplish with it. This gets stored as a simple text file in my computer’s “To Be Posted WIP” folder (WIP = Work in Progress). When I get time to write, I go there first, open a to be completed article and begin writing.

My writing process

When writing articles, I usually go through a 4 stage process:

Initial draft – this is a first cut of the article with little focus on spelling, grammar, structure etc. The intent is to just let the writing flow and get the ideas on the computer before they leave me (which doesn’t seem to take long these days).
Clean-up – After the initial draft, I spend a great deal of time optimizing the wording, fixing grammar and spelling mistakes, and often moving sentences and paragraphs around. I also break the article into sections and frequently revise the title to more accurately portray what I’ve written. Recently I’ve really been focusing on post titles due to BlogRush.

Add to WordPress – At this point, I copy and paste the article into wordpress. I then begin re-reading the article looking for possible internal link opportunities to my articles. I do this by using the WordPress search feature, searching on specific keywords. I then create the links and add additional formating such as bolding, italics, spacing, etc.


Incorporate an image – Once the article is written and ready to publish, I then go on an image hunt. I use a number of sources for this. Recently I’ve been using a number of my wife’s pictures. I try to find images with bright colors and people. Something that will make you the reader say “wow” and remember the picture and hopefully the article.

At this point I publish it or queue it up to be published. Sometimes I’ll publish an article right away, other times I schedule it by adjusting the wordpress timestamp so it will publish automatically in the future.

Hardware/Software Used

I generally write my articles offline using a simple text editor. I use Notepad++, a powerful and easy to use text editor. I’ll later copy and paste the article into WordPress for completion including final formatting.

I have a laptop that pretty much goes with me everywhere. I often find I get time to write when I don’t expect to. As a result I like to keep my laptop handy. I keep it in my Targus Backpack, along with whatever current book I’m reading and my swipe file.

Curious about something I haven’t answered? Feel free to post a comment and ask or just contact me directly. I’m pretty much an open book.


9 Responses (including trackbacks) to “A Peek Under The Hood”

  1. plonkee Says:

    Honey, I know what’s under a car bonnet. And I now know what’s under glbl’s bonnet.

  2. Randy Peterman Says:

    You may also want to consider the offerings at search.creativecommons.org for images. You can search flickr.com images that meet your needs.

  3. Lynnae @ Being Frugal Says:

    Wow! You’re organized. Just wow! I’m in total awe.

  4. glblguy Says:

    @Randy – Thanks Randy, I’ll check it out. I think that is what Skellie uses on her site.

    @Lynnae – There’s a few things I’m good at, and one of them is organization. I get a bit out of kilter (sp?) when I’m not. I’ve always been like that…some friends I used to work with called me Rain Man ;-) Gotta watch Whapner…

  5. glblguy Says:

    @plonkee – I figured you knew, just trying to clarify the “English” ;-)

  6. Suzanne of New Affiliate Discoveries Says:

    Great peek inside the workings of GLBL! Thanks, and I’m featuring this post in this week’s “Sunday Seven”, so stop by tomorrow and check it out.

  7. glblguy Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the inclusion, I’ll certainly check it tomorrow!

  8. AndyS Says:

    Great and informative post. I am relatively new to blogging and I would say I am falling into a routine similar to yours. It is amazing how much our day to day life can provide ideas to blog about. The challenge is keeping a balance between quality, revenue generating (ads etc) and time management.

    I used a custom blogger domain – any thoughts on the blogger vs wordpress debate? Should I move to WP?

    Andy.

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