Analytics or Bust

WordPress.com is a lovely tool for putting a web site out there, but it doesn’t allow for access to Google Analytics, which is a little like sending Achilles out to war wearing armor everywhere but on his heel. It’s just not going to get you far if you want to market and understand what’s happening on your site. So now that we’ve gotten comfy, it’s time to uproot and pick a hosting partner, then hope I can pick up a thing or two about web design. This is where it’s handy to be a quick learner, and thankful that there is a Google, and there are wonderful things called plugins that make life very simple for someone who’s not a programmer.

The blog now has swanky new digs at Bourbon and Bluegrass, with minimal disruption and all the Google analytics data I can get my hands on. Initial site setup includes social media follow and share buttons on the sidebar and RSS feed call to action. I’ve installed a few SEO plugins that give me more control on titles, meta descriptions have been installed, and I edited the page links of previously posted blog entries to optimize for relevant keywords. The only major hiccup has been a Flickr sidebar plugin, which would theoretically demonstrate timely photos on my photostream, which will not function.

Once I have completed my Digital Media certifications over the next couple of weeks, I’ll focus on generating more content and seeing what I can whip up with a small PPC campaign to drive more traffic to the blog!

Marketing Experiment – Starting from Scratch

A few months ago I put together a blog focused on one of my biggest passions, the sport of horse racing. My hope was to turn some sporadic writing and photoblogging habits into something more consistent that could provide me with a small sandbox in which I could experiment with basic content marketing and social media strategies, SEO, keyword research, PPC ad campaigns, and then study the analytics to measure results.

I chose horse racing because I already possess a great deal of knowledge about the sport, I am familiar with a lot of the influencers in the industry and social media presences, and most importantly, I feel there is a niche that I can fill. While there are a lot of news and handicapping sites associated with this sport, there are not a lot of bloggers who focus simply on enjoying not only the sport, but its history. As I have archives of photos that lend themselves powerfully to narrative stories, I felt that I could not only add to the conversation already taking place, but do so with attractive visual media that can make those stories stand out more in marketing channels.

I started with a basic setup on a free WordPress site to get a feel for the process before committing the funds that would be needed to get access to ad campaigns and better analytics. First on the docket was choosing a name. I went with Bourbon and Bluegrass, because while something more friendly to SEO may have been wiser, it was also a pretty dull title. In the end this might be a rookie mistake, but considering the market competition for this corner of the internet is so small, I’m fairly certain it won’t be a hard problem to overcome.

A blog home and a title doesn’t mean much without content, so I placed the majority of my initial focus on creating entries rather than concerning myself with site traffic or marketing strategies, aside from posting links on Twitter and Facebook. This initial foray into content generation is going to be difficult due to time constraints on my end, but once this particular life knot passes in a few weeks, it’ll be time to hit a goal of two consistent posts per week: one feature (likely focused on the fall Breeder’s Cup championship, or racing’s Super Bowl) and one ‘Throwback Thursday’ post, in which I loot my plentiful archives for good stories worth telling.

Let’s make something happen.