Creating ChiliMath.com Using WordPress
Date Posted: April 21, 2018
Disclosure: Some links included in this post are affiliate links which means we will get compensations/commissions whenever you click the links and make a purchase. We do not do any paid reviews. All the products and services, free or paid, that we mention here are those that we use to keep our website, ChiliMath.com, up and running.
My wife and I are both novices in creating a website. We need to make this disclaimer first to make it clear that we are not experts in this field and are actually far from it. However, if we can do it, so can you! If you’re interested in creating your own website to have an online presence – for personal or business reasons, this post may provide some insights on how to get started. We sincerely hope that by sharing our experience, though limited in scope and based on a lot of trial and errors, it may inspire you to find your inner passion. But at times, it’s the other way around. You might create your website first before you find your passion. It may sound counter-intuitive, but believe me, it happens. Our goal here is to share the things that work for us.
We will spare you with a lot of details on how we got started. We registered the domain of this site way back in July 2011. My wife came up with the domain name after a few days of talking about it. Since I love spicy foods and math, she asked me, “Why not call it SpicyMath.com or ChiliMath.com?”. Long story short, we agreed to take the latter for obvious reasons. To be honest, this started as a hobby of sharing free algebra lessons online with the intent of being straightforward and practical in approach.
After a few years, we started seeing noticeable organic traffic from search engine results. Patience is truly a virtue. We then decided that it’s time to revamp the design of the site most especially for our mobile visitors. Currently, we are working on putting header tags and alt text on each of our images. It is a lot of work. But they said it’s good for search engine optimization (SEO), so why not? We’re getting there though, just at least 2,000 images to go.
Due to our limited knowledge, we truly never try to make the site perfect. We just keep on going by creating new content and tweaking the site along the way to make it load faster. This is a growing site so the work doesn’t stop. We remain engaged by adding new math contents, fixing typos, correcting content errors (caught by us or by our very helpful readers), reducing the file size of the images, changing font sizes, and more! By doing all these, somehow we are able to create a website that gives us a modest revenue or passive income with the help of AdThrive (which we recently joined last December 2017) to manage our display ads on the site.
Tools and Services that We Use
Here’s the current setup of our site:
Our domain name, chilimath.com, is currently registered at Amazon Route 53. We pay $12 per year to renew the domain. The best part is that Privacy Protection is included in the price.
For our DNS servers, we use two providers. Our favorite is DNSMadeEasy for ease of use and affordable pricing. This is where most of our test website(s) and domain redirects (like chilimath.org and chilimath.net) reside. For chilimath.com though, we are using NS1. The reason? Well, it’s on the top five best DNS servers (the last time I checked) based on DNSPerf.
When it comes to web hosting, we decided to use Managed WordPress Hosting by Liquid Web. Their WordPress platform uses Nginx as the web server and there’s an option to turn on Varnish as the reverse-proxy. The greatest thing about Liquid Web is their friendly and knowledgeable customer support team. If you have any technical problems with your WordPress site, you can call them anytime and somebody will actually pick up the phone to help you. And they are available 24/7!
Maybe, for us, the most difficult part of creating the site is choosing the WordPress theme. There are just so many selections out there with different pros and cons. It’s mind-boggling. After a long hunt for the “best” WordPress theme, we stumbled upon StudioPress. With a little research to vet the company, we were convinced that we can invest in their products. Since then and up until now, ChiliMath is using Genesis Framework as the parent theme and Magazine Pro as the child theme. We never replaced the child theme because it took us weeks to get used to it and replacing it means another learning curve to travail.
WORDPRESS PAGE BUILDER
Then we had to decide what Frontend editor to use to write content. We tried a couple but Visual Composer (now known as WP Bakery Page Builder) became our obvious choice although Beaver Builder came very close.
Here come the plugins! Just looking at the number of plugins available for WordPress, saying we were overwhelmed is an understatement. We can be methodical or intentional about what we do, but with plugins, we lost it. It came to a point when we had so many plugins installed, maybe at least 50, and we knew it was a terrible idea. We had to stop and actually list all the plugins that we thought we need from the most to least important. Right now, we have narrowed it down to less than thirty plugins and we’re happy with it.
Our List of Plugins:
- Admin Menu Editor
- Cookie Notice
- Duplicate Page
- Enhanced Media Library
- Genesis Simple Edits
- Genesis Simple Hooks
- Genesis Title Toggle
- HREFLANG Tags Lite
- Kraken Image Optimizer
- PDF Embedder Premium
- Plugins Garbage Collector
- Remove Widget Titles
- Safe Redirect Manager
- Title and Nofollow For Links
- WP Edit
- WP Mail SMTP
- WPBakery Page Builder
- WPForms Lite
- Yoast SEO
WEBSITE PERFORMANCE TOOLS
After all our hard work, it’s time to check if the site has an acceptable performance. For us the biggest question is, does it load fast enough?
Our goal is to get at least an optimization score of 80 out of 100 in both mobile and desktop.
This online tool provides you with a lot of information regarding the performance of your site. To make it simple for us, the main two things that we look at are the First Byte Time and Start Render results. For the First Byte Time, we want to get no more than 500 milliseconds or 0.5 seconds. On the other hand, our goal for the Start Render is between 500 milliseconds and 900 milliseconds.
This is an awesome tool because it will test the mobile speed of your site. The results will show you your site’s load time on a 3G network. Our target is to get a load time of no more than 5 seconds.
KEYWORD ANALYSIS/RESEARCH AND TRACKING TOOLS
We mainly use these two online services to check the ranking of our keywords, perform on-page optimization, find opportunities to improve our site, and many more.
SEMRush has a complete suite of tools such as Domain Analysis, Traffic Analysis, Backlinks Analysis, Keyword Research, On-Page SEO suggestions, and more.
SerpBook for us is the best keyword tracking tool. The dashboard interface is very clean and straightforward yet powerful in its simplicity. Our favorite part of it is that you have the option to track your keywords with daily or bi-hourly updates.
If you find any errors, typos, or have any suggestions how to improve this site, please don’t hesitate to let us know anytime using the Contact Us form located below in the footer.