Did you ever have a car that just wouldn’t run right, no matter how many times you took it to the dealer, independent mechanics, or friends? Numerous expensive parts were replaced; even the engine. After suffering through endless stalling and sputterring and pinging for a year straight, it left you stranded again on the side of the road. You just got disgusted and fed up, put up a For Sale, and walked home. And when you arrived at home, there’s a message waiting, from a mechanic that specializes in your car, saying he’s certain he can get it running right. Meanwhile, on the long walk home you realize what an utterly unique and valuable car this really is. And then the phone starts ringing with interested buyers.
That pretty much sums up the roller coaster I’ve put myself–and all of you– on, these past two weeks. And although I am happy about the outcome, I’m also more than a bit embarrassed by it.
There have been two major irritants the past few years: the constant slow-downs, time-outs and crashes of the site, and ad revenue that has been well below what it should be based on the Page Views. The site technical issues have been played out here on these pages repeatedly; we were told by our hosting company (Blue Host) that there were problems/errors in our “theme”, so we embarked on a complete expensive re-do, that wouldn’t run at all, as it overloaded the server much more than our existing theme/design. I asked Blue Host several times if we needed a more powerful server, and they kept saying no.
The very night I impulsively put up the For Sale post, CC Contributor Keith Thelen lets me know he does tech work professionally, and offers to look under the hood. He found a few minor loose ends, and I explain that we need someone who has experience with the interface of a high volume WP site and its server. And he recommended me someone (Josh), who has taken a closer look and come up with what I intuitively have been suspecting all along: we need a powerful dedicate server. And he turned me on to a Canadian company (OVH.com) that has them for remarkably cheap. And Josh has already started the prep work for the migration to the new server, and the change-over should happen in the next few days.
In a nutshell, the reason for the server overloads is because our traffic is high, and our files are massive, because of all the images embedded in each post. This has been an issue from almost Day1, but it just compounds with the growth in Page Views. This new server should make a very substantial difference. CC may never be lightning fast because of all the images, but the current slowness is much worse in the back end, where we all create our posts and organize things. Many times I have had to just give up writing a new post in disgust because the system just wouldn’t let me work properly. Maybe I’ll finally go back and finish them; 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst, anyone?
And that same night, I decided to play with the Google Adsense placements and sizing. It took me a while to figure it out, but I implemented some changes, which instantly made a substantial improvement in the Click Through Rate.
I’m not looking to get rich here, but it’s a seven-day a week job, and I need to pay someone to do what I would otherwise be doing on my rentals and new house. And with this change, I’m a step closer to that reality, and feeling a lot more optimistic.
With those two huge hurdles suddenly shrinking to manageable size, my attitude shifted 180 degrees instantly. I love this site; it’s literally a dream come true. After reading car books and magazines all my life, I’m able to shape a site that I want to read, and obviously quite a few others do too. There’s a lot of car sites out there, including some very good ones, but I think we have tapped into a particular niche that has some decidedly unique qualities.
Most of all, it’s the CC camaraderie: the willingness of so many to feel inspired to contribute with their talents, and the rest to appreciate that and engage in such insightful and respectful discourse in the comments. That’s the essence of what makes it really worthwhile and valuable, and that’s not something to be readily sold off.
We all struggle with work-life balance, and in my case it’s work-work-life. I’m very outdoors-oriented, and love building and fixing things, as well as outdoor recreation. I don’t want to be a slave to the keyboard. And all along, the goal was to create a community of writers who could keep the site going without my daily involvement.
That has already happened to a very substantial degree, and it’s very heartening. CC is much, much bigger than me, and I’m really gratified about that. And there will be times when I slip away for a time, knowing the show will go on.
With our growth and so many new writers, e-mail contributions and tips also come more coordinating and management demands, so my job here is constantly evolving. My goal is to eventually be able to hire a Managing Editor to take up a lot of that. I’d like more time and freedom to write, as well as to attend to some big-picture issues. We’ll get there…
Please accept my apologies about taking you down this bumpy road. And my apologies to those who expressed interest in buying the site. My job is to keep the CC wheels running smoothly, and this was not the way to do it. Thank you all for the expressions of concern and support. But we’re back on a solid and smooth road, so let’s let ‘er roll…