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The end of 2016 is nigh… which means different things to different people.
Some use this time of year to practice gratitude for all of the wonders of the year. Others may choose to lament the passing of musicians, actors, and superstars (I <3 you David Bowie! :'( ) Still others prepare their resolutions to spend money on a gym membership they never use or to save more money… ironically opposing goals.
But not here at GCC… instead we get wild and crazy with acronyms like CSS and PHP, play with Internet servers and caching tools, and of course take steps to minimize taxes for this year and beyond.
And last but not least, Winnie’s book was released at the end of December, quickly becoming the #1 new investment book on the market! (Mandarin / Chinese only.)
You may have already noticed the results by how fancy everything now looks around here. Please allow me to highlight these investments in the future, with a focus on ease of use and improved access.
Fast, Flexible, & Mobile Friendly Theme
A theme is basically a layer of clothes for a blog… it determines how a site looks.
At the beginning of GCC, I picked a rather bland and boring theme with the equally bland and boring name of Twenty Ten. As in the year 2010…
A lot has changed since that long ago era, yet Go Curry Cracker looked much the same. This was most apparent on mobile devices… which this site just assumed was another computer with a big display. Along the way replacement themes were offered with names like Twenty Twelve and Twenty Sixteen, but I didn’t really care for them.
I played with twenty or so different themes over the past few years, but none of them clicked. But then last year I found the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes and I fell in love. It is fast, flexible, mobile friendly… and beautiful.
The downside is that it wasn’t free. I paid $224 for Lifetime Access to Divi (and 86 other themes plus several plugins.) The positive of working with a for-profit organization is that they provide better support, which I’ve used extensively. I think the results speak for themselves.
Alternatively I could have paid $69/year for Divi access and support, but I’m in it for the long haul and thus prefer a One Time Fee.
New Logo & Tagline
Go Curry Cracker also has a new logo.
This replaces the previous logo of… some black text.
This also wasn’t free. I paid $89 to a design company in Malaysia (I think?) This provided several design concepts and unlimited changes… I think I nearly reached that limit. (Here are a few of the early concepts.)
If you are looking for a new logo, you can get 15% off at Logo Design Creation by using code gocurrycracker.
To go with the new logo, we also got a new tagline that I think better reflects what we are about:
Retire Early. Travel the World.
I used to have a search function hidden in the sidebar that used the (terrible) WordPress search tools. It was so bad I deleted it.
Now the main menu contains site specific Google search, which should make finding what you are looking for a ton easier. Just click the magnifying glass logo in the upper right. (If you want Google search on your own site, Google CSE is your friend.)
Speaking of finding things… the old archives were kind of ugly and had poor layout.
The archives page is now clean and slick, and even highlights the number of comments on each post. Links to the page are available in the new header and footer menus.
This is a simple change with a nice free plugin called Clean My Archives.
As Go Curry Cracker grew in volume and content, it seemed more and more items found there way into the main menu. It started to look a bit like those programmable television remotes where it takes 15 minutes just to find the right button.
Now lesser used (yet important) functions have been placed in the header and footer menus.
Email List Management
For a blogger, the email list is kind of a big deal. Social media sharing is a great way for readers to see the content you create, but none of it comes close to email as a delivery mechanism.
I had been using MailChimp for quite some time, but I hated it from Day One. I didn’t want to spend hours messing with templates and editing layout, I just wanted to write good content. I don’t think I ever got the MailChimp setup right. I would even get emails telling me that the “font was too light” or “I can’t see the images”, yet I had no idea how to fix it.
So a few months ago I switched to ConvertKit. Everything was well formatted, and it just worked. I don’t get excited about techie stuff very easily, but Winnie actually told me, “Just shut-up about ConvertKit already!” So I will…. after one last thing…
Overall, this allowed me to eliminate the SumoMe tools I was using. I was able to drop a $199/month SumoMe plan (plus Mailchimp fees) and replace it with ConvertKit and some free plugins. If you are curious, they offer a free book, The Complete Guide to Email Marketing that is pretty good. Convertkit plans start at $29/month (I’m currently paying $159/month, but I paid for a whole year and got a couple months free.)
There are some ads displayed in the sidebar, which you probably can’t see because of your Ad Blocker. (I use Adblock Plus, personally.)
I’m using the Google Adsense plugin to manage those ads, and it really does a great job of making everything easy and turnkey.
I’ve also started trying to sell ad space directly, just for products/services that I think are valuable and worthwhile (details here.) I did this in part because I get asked, and also as a deterrent from the people who send me emails asking to do paid guest posts, sponsored posts, or paid links (those automatically get marked as spam.)
To help, I’ve purchased a plugin called AdRotate Pro for 29€. There is a free version too, but the guy who wrote it is a digital nomad living in the Philippines and I like supporting that kind of thing. He has easily provided more than 29€ worth of support, and the paid features like Geotargeting and Advertiser support are worth it.
If you happen to like what you read on Go Curry Cracker, please consider adding gocurrycracker.com to your Ad Blocker whitelist (all of my favorite blogs are in my whitelist.) If you think having ads makes me a terrible person… well, lots of other things make me a terrible person, we can just add this to the list. But ads do help pay the blogging bills and buy some cheese for Jr.
Of course all of this would just be lipstick on the pig if I didn’t (continue?) to write stuff that is useful, valuable, and inspiring. So that is what I’m going to do.
All of the investment of time and energy in ease of use and improved access is to help drive Go Curry Cracker onward and upward, which I believe can only be done by providing more value.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working through more advanced tax minimization ideas. I’ll share those in the new year. I’ll also share more details about blog income and tax optimization thereof.
We will begin IVF treatment in January and are evaluating a Destination Birth. I’ll share our planning and thoughts on pros and cons of a 3rd citizenship for GCC the Third.
And lastly we have a few ideas for our next big adventure. Our original retirement days were in Mexico and Central America, this year was SE Asia and Europe, and next year… stay tuned.
Happy New Year
We made some pretty significant investments in a new theme, new logo, and blogging tools. This should make it easier to find what you are looking for on devices of all sizes. And it should look pretty too.
And content wise, 2017 should be the best year yet with lots of exciting ideas to share and explore.
Thank you all for your support over the past 4 years. Here is to a very happy and exciting new year to all of you!
Onward and upward!
Jeremy, Winnie, & Julian
If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, please read How to Start a Blog. This tutorial walks you through the exact steps to create your own blog. Through my special Bluehost link, starting a blog of your own costs less than a monthly latte. And with an annual plan you can get a free domain name through our link!