Shutting a Website Down

shutting a website downShutting a website down is never easy but recently I went through this process.  I downloaded all the files for this site, zipped them, and then deleted them from the server on my web hosting account.  I recommend anyone who is going to shut down a website do this since if you have all the files backed up, you can put them up again.

It was kind of sad for me to shutdown the site honestly.  Why?  As a web developer you essentially feel like a failure that your project, which you invested a lot into, did not work.  I sort of blamed others for the fact it didn’t work.  However it really was my fault and there is not anyone else to blame.

I could have tried to redesign the site and make sure to keep adding new content everyday but deep down I knew the niche wasn’t going to work and it was a waste of time.  By that I mean it wasn’t going to make any money and my original monetization plan was misguided. Even if it the site had made money and had worked I wouldn’t have made enough to cover the investment into running and maintain the site.

Checking the stats I could see that it still the site still had traffic from long tail keywords.  When I closed it down a few days ago I actually was contacted by someone who liked the site asking what happened.  I explained the issue, like most web projects is, resources.  I can’t invest time into websites that won’t produce decent revenue.  I wish I could see everything through till a project works but hey life just doesn’t work that way.

I decided for now to keep the domain name if I want to revisit this niche in the future.  I just renewed the domain but I doubt that I will have the time, energy, or to tackle this niche again.  I guess we will see once I’m an internet millionaire. :)

If you have gone through the process of shutting a website down, how did you feel about it?  Relieved, bad, angry, or did you just accept it was the right thing to do?

HostGator Review – Terrible Web Hosting

hostgator reviewQuite often I get asked about HostGator as a web hosting company since a lot of people use and still recommend them.  What you are about to read is a an honest HostGator review about how they are a terrible web hosting company.

Adam’s HostGator Review

Let first start off by saying that I have used HostGator before the company’s founder, Brent Oxley, decided to sell his web hosting company to Endurance International Group (EIG).  Before the buyout they were a great web hosting company with pretty much unbeatable customer service, servers, and uptime.  However, since the EIG buyout things have gone downhill like all web hosting companies they acquire.

Server Speed

HostGator has moved a majority of customers using shared and VPS hosting from the Softlayer datacenter in Dallas, Texas to the the Bluehost datacenter facility in Provo, Utah.  HostGator Outages at the Provo datacenter have been often and really annoying for EIG customers which includes other web hosting brands like HostMonster, JustHost, and BlueHost.

Speed tests I’ve run using WebPageTest.org show that on average AdamYamada.com takes roughly 9-10 seconds to fully load the homepage while a second pass shows it usually takes 5-6 seconds.  Google PageSpeed Insights is not any better and my mobile speeds are pretty horrendous with HostGator.

Checking Google Webmaster Tools I can see that ever since the move to the Provo datacenter it takes Google much longer to crawl my websites too.  For anyone that does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you know that Google only allots a certain amount of crawling time each site.  So server response time is important and Google has said that speed is a factor in search rankings.

I did try to improve this my subscribing to MaxCDN but if you read my MaxCDN review you will see that didn’t help.

Uptime

I use UptimeRobot and StatueCake to monitor my websites in addition to clients websites.  HostGator tends to have constant downtime which is expected from

Sometimes when I manually tell the Googlebot to crawl this site I get “Temporarily Unavailable” errors even though the site is up.  This isn’t reassuring to tell me that HostGator isn’t overpacking servers and my websites probably look down in the eyes of Google which I assume isn’t helping my SEO rankings.  In my opinion downtime hurts search engine rankings.

HostGator Customer Support

Dealing with HostGator customer support now feels like I’m doing karaoke during amateur hour.  Response to tickets can take a full 24 hours and mostly they will not reply with any helpful advice that isn’t canned or regurgitated from something they said before.  Chat times before the EIG buyout were minimal but now they are usually 30+ minutes so what is the point?  Phone support is terrible so I wouldn’t even try calling.  Only call HostGator if you believe you idiot and they will treat you like one.

Final Thoughts about HostGator

I’m definitely not sticking around with HostGator and I’ve already begun the process of searching for a new web hosting company.  I’ve been looking at shared hosting plans mostly from LiteSpeed web hosts which do not promise “unlimited” storage and bandwidth and have better uptime, server speed, and customer support.  I’ve stopped recommending HostGator altogether and no longer do I send any affiliate traffic their way.  Another thing to be aware of is that HostGator parks domains of customers using their DNS.

If you still want unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth on a shared hosting plan, I would recommend you go with Site5.  You can read my Site5 Review to get an idea about Site5 as a web hosting company.

If you have any thoughts about my HostGator review, please leave them in the comments below.  I’d be interested to hear others experiences with HostGator and Endurance International Group web hosting companies.  Has it been good, bad, or really awful and terrible?

Text Spam? Actually a Really Bad Domain Name

text spamDon’t you hate text spam?  How do these people even get your phone number?  Oh, wait… it’s actually just a really bad domain name and text spam.

Let me explain what happened.  Over the past few weeks I was getting text spam, or that’s what I thought, from what could only be described as a spam texts from a spam domain.  Here was the email – sh5@smile.ms – what am I supposed to think?  This is something legit?

I deleted most of these texts on my phone and then made attempts to actually block this annoying email from sending anything else my way, unsuccessfully.  A few weeks later when I when I had an appointment to get a teeth cleaning I learned at the dentist’s office that this was a service they use to actually confirm appointments.  Apparently these SMS services are a new and popular tool among medical offices.

Good idea but lets analyze this for a second.  Why would dentists pay a SMS service that uses a terrible domain name like Smile.MS? I’m a tech-savy individual that knows what a country code top level domain (ccTLD) is and I still thought this was text spam.  I’m sure there are thousands of non-tech inclined people that don’t know anything about domains and automatically assumed this was text spam as well.

I was not aware of this until I looked it up bu the .MS domain extension is for the country of Montserrat.  This is a tiny island in the Caribbean and is a territory of the United Kingdom.  The .MS domain touts itself as a good alternative on it’s website stating;

  • It is almost impossible to get your preferred easy to remember name in the .COM name space.  However, chances of getting a similar if not better name at the .MS name space are still very high.

  • There are only 35,000 one-word domain .com and .net names still available that use English words and phrases.  Get your preferred name with a .ms extension.

Of course then they make this statement;

 

  • Domain names give your company a degree of credibility on the Internet.  If you want to do business on the Internet, a domain name is essential.  Choose .ms

I’ve chronicled in my writings on here about my experiences explaining .CO domains to a relative, who hadn’t heard about them.   As well as how I lost out on consulting work due to mentioning the .IO domain extension.  The executive gave me a funny look when I said, “.IO domains” and I’m pretty sure saying anything about these start-up domains were a mistake.

So what is the angle supposed to be with Smile.MS?  Is this supposed to be cute, funny, or hip?  I honestly don’t understand it.  Matt Cutts doesn’t even really recommend ccTLDs when they are not used for their original intended purpose.  Of course how many people in Montserrat are buying .MS domains?  I imagine not that many.

I should admit I do own one .ME domain name but it’s intended purpose is as a URL shortener, not for building a service or website on.  I feel like alternative domains are as controversial as abortions these days as the debate rages on.

I appreciate this easy way to confirm appointments but again the major problem with this service is that now that I know what it is, I dislike it.  Since others do NOT know what it is they probably dislike it too.

Solution Reach, the company behind the Smile.MS service, clearly has the resources and capabilities to find something better.  They are just trying to save some bucks and are lazy.  They need to spend a ton of money on marketing and advertising to make this bad domain name better known, so people like me don’t assume it is text spam, or look for an upgrade.

Do you agree?  What do you think of getting emails from this terrible email – sh5@smile.ms?  What’s your general opinion of companies with resources opting for bad domains?

Forums are Dead, So Why are you Still on a Forum?

forums are dead

Forums are dead… soooo why are you still on a forum?

I had this question the other day when I was posting on a webmaster and SEO discussion forum because some smart ass dropped this bomb into a thread;

Forums are dead! Everyone and everything is moving to social and social media.

I will concede that online discussion forums have lost some of their luster over the years.  Social media is definitely the “new kid on the block” and this doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

I see these types of comments a lot on bulletin boards all over the web.  Since I was an active member of this particular forum I did what any rational person would do, I quoted him in my reply and said:

Get of this ____ forum then.

The reply I got one day later was;

Oh no, I don’t mean these forums!

Come on, people… really?  Why would you post this statement on a forum and then say you obviously don’t mean this particular forum is dying?  What I find odd is this user had far more posts than I did and was still quite active in the community.  While a lot of his posts and reputation took years to build-up there was no indication he was interested in abandoning his place in this webmaster community.

On this website I once asked, “Are forums better than Social Media?” If you see the study by Social Media Explorer shows they are.  I assume social media gurus like Dave Kerpen might tell you otherwise I still believe online discussion forums have a market and will stay.  Does anyone think text messaging is going anywhere?

While my foray into building online forums and communities hasn’t gone that well, I still don’t think that means there is no interested in them.  (My wide fucking open niche didn’t work out that well.)  Gaming and tech forums are still popular and active.   Hey, I even see some social media marketing forums out there.

Derek Mueller showed us the disadvantage of platforms in his Facebook Fraud video.  On social media you aren’t sure if you are getting bots or real people.  With forums, as long as the spam stays off, you know you are actively engaging in meaningful discussions.

Probably people who believe forums are dead are the same people who think email marketing is dead.  It’s not in case you were wondering and email newsletters have seen a resurgence in the past couple of months.

Anyway I’m unsure where this rhetoric comes from, but what are your thoughts? Are forums dead?  Is social media taking the place of these outlets?  Will some other technology or type of site replace forums?

Crowdfunding Campaigns are Not Easy

crowdfunding campaignsCrowdfunding campaigns are all the rage nowadays.  Who doesn’t need money for their business or entrepreneurial venture?  I mean the whole concept sounds like a dream, post your great idea or product and watch the money pour in and rack up.   Of course… it’s not that easy.

Lately I’ve been getting more questions and crowdfunding and the best way to go about setting up and promoting campaigns.  I think crowdsourcing and crowdfunding and amazing and show the power of the internet, but the majority of these crowdfunding platforms and sites have painted a fair rosier picture than what reality is.  Honestly, raising money on these sites is much harder than it used to be as it’s getting more and more crowded everyday.  Keep in mind we only hear about the success stories and not about all the failures on these crowdfunding sites.  There are a lot of crowdfunding campaigns that might have been executed extremely well that failed or ones that were basically were not even worth running.

In my article suggesting tips for running a successful Kickstarter campaign check out #3 on the list, getting people to write about you campaign.  This has become much more important since I wrote that article.

A couple months ago I was contacted by someone who had a business-to-business product for the music and tradeshow industry.  He wanted, or needed, to raise money for his company so that he could take product manufacturing to the next level.  His plan was to run a Kickstarter campaign to get the money as he already had poured quite a bit of his own savings into launching this product.

As I talked with this potential client more about this lighting system and doing a crowdfunding campaign it became apparent he wasn’t sure of a lot of things.  This gentleman had yet to setup a website and was going to launch it along with the campaign.  (The main sales platform for had used was eBay.)  This was a really bad idea.   I started to grill him more about all his plans for the website, the design, and if he wanted to sell products directly on there.   He claimed he had ecommerce experience but wasn’t really aware of options like WordPress (with Woocommerce), Magneto, or OScommerce.  On top of this the reward system he had for contributing money was wacky.  This was a bad way to get started and it sort of felt like he was trying to get to first place in a car race with a faulty transmission and engine.

Bottom line, he was seriously underestimating how hard this was going to be and the time commitment he needed to invest.  (You have to invest a lot of your time to do crowdfunding successfully.)  Also business products typically don’t do well on crowdfunding platforms.  Really consumer oriented products do better since people want to find things they can use in their everyday lives.

My biggest issue though was I couldn’t think of any colleagues, sites, or bloggers we could approach to write about this product.  Therefore I knew it was “dead on arrival” since if we couldn’t create buzz on from any websites, it would be hard to gain a critical mass to reach the funding goal.  People think social media creates web buzz but often it works the other way.  Also generally the most successful campaigns are for companies and people that already have a reputation.

Even though the guy had a clear idea of why he needed the money and what he would do with it, it was still completely impractical to do a crowdfunding campaign for this product.  He hadn’t thought through a lot of his business plans and people will see through this.  I took apart most of his plans in 5 minutes and I couldn’t rewrite his material to make this sound better.  More importantly journalists, like myself, are great at sniffing out BS pitches or half-truths from PR agencies and reps regarding crowdfunding campaigns.  I get a lot from PR firms contacting me regarding crowdfunding campaigns but usually it’s not presented in this way.  They really try to make it seem like the product is already available.  If he isn’t clear, I can’t be serious about pitching this to anyone.

I advised this guy to;

  1. Consider other funding options, if they are available.
  2. Forgot the crowdfunding thing altogether.
  3. Get a website up, gather testimonials, build his web reputation.
  4. Reconsider his options 1-2 years down the road when he has proven sales.
  5. He he is serious choose another crowdfunding platform that is less crowded.

It would have been easy for me to take this guy’s money but since I knew he wouldn’t have a good experience running any crowdfunding campaigns with me, I wasn’t going to work with him.  Besides if he didn’t fulfill his promises this would leave a black mark on his company.  Not a good way to get started.

If you have thought of running any crowdfunding campaigns or have done one yourself, what are thoughts?  I am right that crowdfunding isn’t as easy as these platforms make out?  Do we too often hear of the success stories?

Audio Technica Microphones – ATR2100 vs AT2005

audio technica microphones I’m sure a lot of people have looked into buying Audio Technica microphones if you do any podcasting or online videos or have considered doing podcasts, webinars, or anything like this.  The most popular and highly recommend Audio Technica microphone I’ve seen is the ATR2100 dynamic mic which supports USB and XLR.  (XLR cables are what you would plug into a mixer for better sound.)

Recently I was going to buy the ATR2100 because tons of podcasters and tech people love it.  I’m working on starting another podcast as I recently had someone take over paying for Libsyn podcast hosting I was covering for another online radio show I was doing.   Originally when I looked at the Audio-Technica ATR2100 I noticed that the price had shot up since when I bought it last year for only $35.  It was about $50 now on Amazon so I decided to think about it a little.  When I was ready to pull the trigger and buy it, to my surprise the price had gone up by another $10 in one day.

While Amazon is known for doing this, there are price trackers to help monitor price fluctuations, I thought maybe it could be bought cheaper elsewhere.  Umm… nope.  B&H sells it for the same price and most other online music retailers have it for more.

Since the price of the ATR2100 has gone up I saw that there was another Audio-Technica microphone for $10 less, the AT2005.  It looked sort of similar and after doing some research it seems both these mics have the same components.  Just the AT2005 looks more “professional” for recording studio and stage productions and comes with a 1-year warranty.  The Audio-Technica ATR2100 comes with a limited lifetime warranty but I’ll doubt you’ll be able to utilize that.

Honestly, I was going to just buy the ATR2100, but I’m looking at investing in other audio equipment.  So a little savings here and there can go a long way.

Pictured above is the AT2005 and it feels pretty good and comes with a carrying case, which the ATR2100 does not, and I did some test recordings which sounded ok.  This time around I’m going to have an audiophile help me get setup for the best sound quality possible, at least on my budget. So far I’m impressed with the AT2005 and would recommend it.

What annoys me is I returned the ATR2100 I had.  I bought a unit last year for only $35, but I couldn’t get it to sound great fiddling around with it on my computer, so I returned it.  Argh, I guess I should have kept it for a year and I could have saved $15 bucks and put into other equipment.  I thought the price would at least stay the same or go down.

What’s also odd is that usually the AT2005 sells for more than the ATR2100.  I believe this microphone used to sell for $70+ but for some reason the price has dropped below that of it’s cousin.

Since I might want two mics for recording in person interviews that sound really clear, I looked at buying another Audio-Technica AT2005.  Then I saw in the Amazon suggestion area the ATR100 had dropped in priced to $53.97.

atr2100

My feeling is partly that Amazon shifting prices and Audio-Technica saying, “Hey, everyone is recommending these less expensive Audio-Technica microphones we have, why don’t we just start raising prices?”  Not really surprising I guess.

I would personally buy whatever is cheapest microphone when you need to buy one.  What are your thoughts about these Audio Technica microphones going up in price?  Are raw materials and manufacturing going up in just one year or did this music company just realize they could make more money?