Welcome to Episode #4 of Make Money From Blogging!
In my previous blog post, I shared with you my experience of integrating social media with my blog and how it is able to value-add to the whole blogging experience, both for my readers and myself. More posts from my Make Money From Blogging (MMFB) series –
- MMFB Ep1 – Real Steps, Real Income
- MMFB Ep2 – Start With Blogger Or WordPress?
- MMFB Ep3 – Getting Social With Media
I definitely enjoy reading about bloggers I follow on a more personal level, and what they are like as a person outside of the blogging environment.
In this post, I will continue the sharing and touch on my experience on changing my WordPress theme – which was previously Extra by Elegant Themes, after using it for a few years.
- Why I upgraded my WordPress theme
- How I upgraded my WordPress theme
- Post-upgrade activities
Just like what I always do, three points. Let’s go!
1. Why I upgraded my WordPress theme
A common problem that we bloggers inevitably face is that after a few years, the WordPress blog starts getting clogged up after repeated updates and starts slowing down. Speed is an important element that impacts user experience and Google even has its own PageSpeed Insights that performs analysis of site speed.
It has also been suggested by Google that site speed is of the factors used by its algorithm to rank pages. When it comes to speed, the Genesis Framework comes to mind. It has actually been on my radar for the longest time but I already had access to resources that I didn’t had to pay for back then.
Genesis Framework by StudioPress is renowned for being highly secure, search engine optimization (SEO) friendly and most importantly, fast-loading performance without the bloat. In case it piqued your interest, Genesis Framework isn’t a WordPress theme but a framework. A Genesis-compatible WordPress child theme is required to be built on top of it.
Although my main consideration was speed, there were definitely other reasons that nudged me towards a new WordPress theme. Contrary to popular opinions, selecting a WordPress theme isn’t merely a cosmetic consideration.
When I chose to use Extra by Elegant Themes previously, I already had a lifetime subscription with them so I didn’t had to incur any cost to use it. Coupled with the added benefit that Elegant themes had all the helpful plugins I needed, I didn’t have to spend much time to craft what I wanted.
Years later, when I felt that my blog needed a face-lift, I decided to go for a modern and sleek look. StudioPress filled this gap for me and brought along other advantages such as having ad-optimized layouts and being able to reduce the number of plugins I needed.
2. How I upgraded my WordPress theme
First of all, I had to purchase the Genesis Framework and child theme.
Having a basic technology background would definitely be helpful you’re intending to go with Genesis Framework, but it isn’t mandatory. Google would answer all the questions you have.
I chose an in-house theme developed by StudioPress that I really liked, because why not? It will minimize any friction or compatibility issues, and one wouldn’t exist without the other.
Starting a blog is very different from changing the theme for an existing blog. There are a lot more issues to consider when planning for and making the switch.
Number one tip is that if you have access to a staging environment, it will make the process a whole lot easier. It is a parallel universe where you can work on your blog while the public-facing production version is still up-and-running.
As a paying customer of SiteGround untiI 2024, their service has always been superb. You might think that I’m crazy but I have a habit of re-investing my earnings. I’m currently on their GoGeek plan and can endorse their staging feature plus verify it to be working flawlessly.
Once a staging version was created – basically an exact copy of the production blog i.e. backup – I started deleting the old theme and plugins and installed new ones on it.
At this point, it is important to reiterate that the staging and production blogs exist as separate entities. If new posts or comments have been posted on the production blog, they would have to be imported in to the staging copy. It is therefore a good idea to minimize any changes to the production blog.
Some of the important things to take note of and make sure to be working in the new theme –
- Google Analytics tracking code
- Ad integration (ads.txt)
- Newsletter subscription
- Social media
Once I have triple-checked my TODO list, done yet another full-site backup, took a deep breath, and clicked on the shiny button to push the changes to production.
My blog had quite a few posts and took a couple of minutes for the changes to be effected. The upgrade went perfectly without a single second of downtime! I was definitely expecting some hiccups so this was a pleasant surprise.
3. Post-upgrade activities
Now would be the time to perform another round of checks on the updated blog. Remember that all the things I did in the last step? Now I would want to make sure that everything was done correctly.
Many people who are clueless as to how Google works make a mistake – Google tracks our behavior and gives us what we want to see. I’d always switch to incognito mode before doing any form of tests.
Google Analytics should be correctly tracking my presence on the blog.
Ads should be showing. Regardless, I thought it would be an excellent idea to ask my ad partner to audit my site, just in case.
I tested the newsletter sign-ups. Contact forms. Comments section. Basically anything that required user interaction.
As arduous as it sounds, I clicked on the pages and quite a few blog posts to simulate real users’ behavior.
Well, it depends ..
What I wrote was applicable to my blog in very specific ways. Primarily, users’ accessibility and ad revenue were what I was concerned with so I tried to minimize any downtime associated with a WordPress theme upgrade.
Every blogger has different elements on their blogs, but the general concerns will always be the same. However, we all have access to different resources, and the lack of a staging environment (you can use a plugin if your web host doesn’t offer you a staging functionality) would be the number one obstacle.
In my instance, there were quite a few cascading style sheets (CSS) tweaks I had to get my hands dirty with, in order to get my new theme to look the way I wanted. It will definitely be a little challenging because Genesis themes aren’t known for being easily customizable.
I am happy with my new blog theme and generally how fast it loads, especially when SiteGround (my web host) has a data center located in Singapore. Having ads on a blog is definitely going to impact site speed and my focus will be maintaining a delicate balance between the two.
Ever since I started my blogging series posts, I have been chatting (individually) on different mediums and sharing my experiences. Drop me a comment or DM if you’re interested in a small chat group to talk about blogging related ideas that we can bounce of one another? I’ll make one if enough people are interested. Otherwise, a ready-made version already exists on my Discord server (#blogging-for-income channel).
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Hello! I’m Kevin, Turtle Investor
At the age of 30, I am the personal finance blogger who laid claim to a negative net worth of minus $25,755.
Seven years later in 2019, I hit CPF Full Retirement Sum (FRS) of $176,000 without making a single cent of CPF top-up. More tidbits about myself here if you’re curious. My blueprint for financial independence can help give you a headstart in your own FIRE journey.
I am married to a lovely wife and that means dual income with no kids. In my free time, I chase miles so that we can fly in business class. My hobby is making pocket change off this blog and sharing everything I know with you!
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