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Archive for February, 2008

When it Rains it Pours

When it Rains it Pours

Just last Saturday, 6 days ago, I posted about our recent big successes. Not only that, but I stated “as a general philosophy I believe it’s a good thing to share your successes AND failures“. Well today I’m going to share our big misadventures that happened yesterday. It was a brutal day! Luckily we’ve surmounted everything that was thrown at us and we’re back up and running at 100%.

What happened? Two major things.

The night beforehand we just noticed that our SSL certificate expired. The exact same thing happened to us last year, and I vowed to myself not to let it happen again. I still can’t believe I missed it, but I did. Of course, again like last year, our website was still completely safe it’s just that our website wasn’t a “trusted” site so we got that horrible warning in the web browsers.Obviously the first thing we did is purchase a new SSL certificate. It was installed by early afternoon the next day. But for about 12 hours our purchase page wasn’t officially “trusted” even though it was completely safe (don’t get me started on how useless and a cash grab I think this market is). Although I can’t know for the sure the impact this had on our sales, I can’t imagine it helped.

Secondly, and with a much bigger effect, a small upgrade was performed on our server the night before which didn’t go as planned and eventually caused our webserver to shutdown right around lunchtime. It took about an hour to figure out what was going on and to fix the issue. So for an hour we were completely down.

But it doesn’t stop there. Once we were back up and running, we were getting seg faults from our server. What this means is that the webserver wasn’t entirely stable and would error out. Something was still wrong. Although it wasn’t completely shutting down the server, something wasn’t right and it needed to be resolved right away. Without getting into the technical details, we basically worked with our hosting provider to resolve this issue over an hour or two. The eventually solution that worked was to rebuild our webserver.

The downside of rebuilding our webserver is many of our settings and customizations were lost. So for about 2-3 hours our main page looked horrible. For example the header and menu items weren’t showing up at all. You could still purchase the software safely and securily, but you couldn’t access the menus to navigate the website.

Before I continue let me just say that Servint, our managed solutions hosting provider, was great and worked with us the whole way. They knew what they were doing, and if it wasn’t for them, well I don’t really want to think about it… Yes they do charge a premium, but they’re worth it. When we really need them, they were there. I’d also like to especially thank Tommy from Servint, he was very knowledge and helpful. He was great. He saved the day for us. Thank you Tommy!

Getting back to our adventure, or should I say misadventure, Tommy eventually figured out what happened and resolved the issue. Of course it didn’t end there. My other site FindYourWeddingDress.com was also down due to some other technical issues. Thankfully they were also able to resolve this pretty quickly. We had a few more issues, but everything seems to be completely back to normal now. What a day!

Before I leave, let me share one last thing that really surprised me. During the few hours we were down, or mostly down, we still managed to generated some sales! I’m still shocked by this now. I expected we’d get absolutely no sales during this time. The site was completely down for an hour, then the site was barely operational. I wouldn’t have bought anything from us during this time. Yet we still managed to get some sales. What does it mean? I don’t know. All I can say is that I’m still shocked by this.

And there you go. Today I’ve just shared with you our most recent failures and struggles. This week we failed to renew our SSL certificate on time. Not only that, but we also struggled to keep our website up and fully operational for a few hours. Thankfully we rose to the situation and we’re fully back up and running now. What a day. When it rains it pours!






The Importance of Writing Your Blog Posts Ahead of Time

Write Your Blog Posts Ahead of Time

We all know the importance of writing regular blog posts, how important it is to keep a regular schedule. But few people talk about how to do this. The reality is that you need to get ahead of yourself, you need to write some of your posts before you’ll need to publish them to meet your regular schedule.

For the longest time I would write posts just in time. That is I would write and publish them the same day, or within a day. This worked well but I wasn’t nearly as consistent as I am today. Some weeks I would post new entries almost every day, then a week would go by with only one entry. As a general rule of thumb, I always wrote at least one entry a week, but it wasn’t terribly consistent.

That was ok when I was starting, like everyone else I had few readers initially. However as I’ve grown I’ve noticed more and more the importance of consistency in posting. These days I write at least 2-3 posts per week. You don’t have to write at that frequency, but what I strongly suggest is that you pick a regular blogging schedule, one that you can live with, and stick to it.

That being said, the reality is that you can’t consistently write your posts week after week. Things happen. That little thing called life. But that doesn’t mean I still can’t post regularly. As a professional that’s not acceptable. You need to accept that you can’t write every day and find a solution. And that solution is to write as many posts as you can in advance.

Preparation is key. Prepare for when you have no time. Prepare for when you don’t have the motivation. Prepare for when you’re sick. Prepare prepare prepare!

And so I strongly suggest you write posts ahead of time. I currently try to keep at least 1-3 weeks written ahead of time. Since I’ve started doing this things have been running much more smoothly. For example, although many of you probably didn’t realize it, in the last 2-3 weeks I’ve only really written one or two posts! All the others were pre-written beforehand. And it’s a good thing!

Towards the end of January I was extremely busy trying to finish up the blogging book I’m writing (Interviews with the Pros: What does it take to create a Successful Blog?). It’s kept me extremely busy. Not only that, but I’ve been writing a lot for the book: The Preface, the Introduction, the Epilogue, etc. Needless to say what little time I had left, which was pretty much nothing, I wasn’t really interested in writing any more. If I hadn’t pre-written several posts ahead of time there would have been very few posts in the last few weeks, and what I would have posted would probably have been of lower quality. Something nobody wants, not me nor you.

At this point I’ve only got a few more pre-written posts so I need to start catching up again. And obviously this week I’ve slowed down a little in posting because of that, I will only published 2-3 posts this week. but that’s mostly because this week is also extremely busy for me for other reasons. For example tonight I’m giving a presentation to a passive income investment club (MyOpic) on revenue generating sources for a blog/website (being on both sides as a publisher and advertiser I have lots to tips to share).

In any case, a very big tip I can give you is that you should plan and prepare your blog ahead of time for when your life gets busier. It’s not a matter of if you’ll get too busy, it’s a matter of when. If you’re well prepared then things will go very smoothly and no one will notice.






Quick Links

Google Adwords Still Getting Owned
Some people have found a way to really abuse Google Adwords. If you go to this article by Jeremy (aka Shoe), he even has a great screenshot of the a Google search result with every single Adword ad pointing to the same page!

Bugatti Veyron Vs. Jet Fighter
This is one of the two lighter links for this batch. Ever wonder who would win between a Bugatti Veyron and a Jet Fighter? Wonder no more.

The Big Ball of Mud and Other Architectural Disasters
A while back Brian Foote and Joseph Yoder wrote a paper entitled Big Ball of Mud paper. Jeff’s basically extracted and summarized it, which makes for a great read. If you have time I also recommend reading the original.

Garlic Programmers for Silver Code?
It’s known that some programmers are much more productive than others, as much as 10x, if not more. However what’s less talked about is that the environment can also have as big an impact.

12 Learnings From My First Turn As Startup CEO
Some great lessons here from someone who’s already been around the block

Real Programmers
If you get each panel of this joke you’re definitely a real programmer. The fun we use to have with ed.

Deadlock
For those of you who aren’t computer programmers, deadlock basically means that you have multiple processes going and they somehow manage to block each other, so everything is completely deadlocked. This is a picture of a REAL traffic deadlock.

Outcomes vs. Activity
Many people often confuse busy work with valuable work. Just because you’re busy it doesn’t mean you’re creating value. For example organizing your emails is generally considered busy work as it doesn’t really create value. It helps, but it doesn’t create value. Here the author argues that all company founders have to learn and understand the differences between what’s busy work and what’s not.






LandlordMax Breaks Sales Record

Success

Every once in a while I share some of our sales metrics, and this month I’m excited to say has been great. We had some clear successes:

  • We beat our previous monthly sales record by a full 25.2% (in one month!)
  • Unique visitors for the month is up by another 10% (another new monthly record)
  • Downloads of LandlordMax trials were up 40%. This is a very significant increase. And since most sales usual come when the 30 day free trial is about to expire, next month should be very interesting…
  • We got a great video review of LandlordMax on theREIbrain.com.
  • The feedburner stats on this blog clearly increased more than usual (about 20% more than usual)
  • This blog had more unique visitors this month than any other month

And a few other successes that aren’t as publicly interesting.

In any case, as a general philosophy I believe it’s a good thing to share your successes AND failures. I’ve shared both of them here on this blog many times. Today I’m proud to share our most recent successes.






 
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