28th October 2017
For those who prefer to read you can also view a transcript of the video.
A YouTube playlist of Chris's vlogs can be found at the bottom of the page.
Hey, it’s the 8th of October 2017. I’m currently standing under the iconic Chester clock and that’s what I’m here to talk about today, my side hustle everythingchester.co.uk.
It’s just a little project I have been working on of evenings and weekends when I’m not in my day job. You can find out more about my role in ecommerce in vlog number 2.
I’ve actually got some notes with me today to keep me on track and a bit more concise. What I’m going to do is go for a walk while I talk so you can see some of the sites of Chester as well. I’m sure I will do a video just about Chester, but I thought I would kill two birds with one stone.
From the clock you can see the main street running through Chester. We’ll take a quick look the other side, there’s not that many people around today, the weather is not to good but there are a few tourists having a little look around.
I came up the idea for Everything Chester while cycling back from my role in ecommerce. I wanted to come up with some sort of web project that allowed users to query a database, run searches and pull back some sort of valuable information.
I wanted to pick something that was close to my heart and something that I was passionate about, so I chose my home town of Chester. Although I backpacked when I finished my undergraduate degree with a couple of friends. We went around the UK, and then I’ve interrailed around Europe a couple of times and been to visit my brother in Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Actually, you can find out more about that, the South Pacific in my first vlog. I think I actually talked about my brother and all of his projects more than about myself in that one.
Let’s consult my notes before I go widely off track. So I started the project in April. Like I said the idea was for it to be a dynamic site, but it seems to be quite static at the moment.
I just started with social media at first. I started a Twitter account in April of this year 2017. It’s now up to around 3,500 followers.
I started an Instagram account for it only a couple of months ago. That’s up to like 1,500 followers. All the other various social media like Pinterest for driving traffic to the site, Facebook.
I haven’t really had much success with Facebook. The Facebook page hasn’t really got that many followers. I guess a lot of the traffic from Facebook is coming from groups. So if I post a new blog post, I will put a message a message on other various Chester pages on Facebook and traffic seems to click through from that. Like I said the actual page not too much success like I have had with Twitter.
The primary goal of the project was to work on my web development skill set, my HTML and CSS. I know the project would have been quicker to create had I just knocked it up in WordPress. It would look a lot better as well to the visitors, but I guess the goal was to work on my development and coding skill set.
We will just take a quick little intermission here. You can actually see the roman amphitheatre and also a bar called Off The Wall. Many a messy night has been had in there.
I actually bought the domain on the 2nd of June, and coded the first page and published it in the early hour of the morning, I think the 3rd of June. The first page was literally just a welcome message and an embedded Twitter stream and that was it.
Since then it has grown and really taken off. I guess some of the other pages I have added, there is lots of fresh content for visitors when they arrive. There’s RSS news feeds, job board widgets for Indeed and Jobsite and then RSS feeds for Hays and Randstad.
I’ve got a weather page for the local weather. That is quite simply a Met Office widget that is embedded on there as well.
So the content on there each time visitors arrive is new, but none of that has any SEO benefit as they are all just widgets and RSS feeds.
But then I also regularly post a blog as well on there. I actually didn’t want to start a blog, but once I did I really enjoyed writing the content and editing the content and things.
Another quick stop, you can see the Roman gardens here. Chester’s roman gardens. We are actually on the Roman walls at the moment. It is a very Roman City and there are also lots of Victorian buildings as well. You can see the classic black and white buildings there.
The project has also caused me to meet up with a lot of different people. People contacting me through LinkedIn and Twitter and things like that.
I met up with a lady who’s been working on a website called UpToday which is like a what’s on guide for Chester.
They have come up with like a map, where users can go and pin events and locations on the map. The idea is that everybody can contribute towards it. They are struggling at the moment, although they have kind of got all the coding down, they are just trying to promote it.
It doesn’t really work unless everyone gets involved and starts pinning things on the map, all the events going on in Cheshire. I have embedded that on my what’s on page, they said I could go ahead and do that, as it more exposure for them. That’s kind of caused me not to go down the whole dynamic side of querying a database, I will get around to that.
We’ll just take another quick break. You can see the Grosvenor bridge over there in the distance going over the River Dee. And this restaurant down here is called Hickories, Hickories Smokehouse. It’s great for like briskets and pulled pork and really like slow cooked meats as well. I thoroughly recommend Hickories if you are in Chester for the weekend. Always book ahead though, it’s always fully booked.
I’ve kind of put some other little cool things on the site as well like Google translate, so you can translate the site into over 100 languages. I’m not sure how well those translations work. I may need some Spanish and French, and people with different languages skills check that out.
I find that having the site is good as I go to Chester CodeUp and Chester web dev’s so as I’m pick up new development skills I can implement them straight away on a live project, so it’s always cool to do that. I suppose the faster you actually apply the skills you are learning they stick in your head then.
Let’s have a look at the list. So the primary goal was my web development skill set, but a secondary goal, that wasn’t the main intention but now I’ve started to love doing that as well is like the marketing of it and the promotion. All the social media side and just trying to drive as much traffic to the site as I can.
I’ve got Google Analytics installed on there, so I can see kind of how long people spend on the site, where they are coming from, what devices they are using.
So I’m a big nerd, hash tag geek, when it comes to looking at graphs and statistics. So I love doing that.
I’m getting a lot more organic visits to the site from Google at the moment, which is always good. It tuck a while for Google to index the site, but now they have those organic results are coming.
I’ve SEO’ed the site for meta tags and alt tags for images and identified keywords that I want to target, so all the blog posts are usually centerd around certain keywords that I’d like to rank for.
I actually did one blog post, the one that has had the most traffic so far, was like the 60 top Twitter accounts in Chester.
I just produced a table that ranked them all purely on the number of followers, it didn’t take into account how long the account had been running or the amount of engagement. I just published that and tweeted it out to all the other various Chester accounts and saw a huge spike in the traffic from that.
The graphs, when I post new content onto the blog and then promote it, there is a massive spike and then when it settles back down to the base level it’s always a little bit higher, so I’m just chipping away at that.
I also go to an SEO meetup in Chester as well, so I’m kind of using and applying those skills as well.
We will just stop here again. You can see Chester weir. That little building you can see over there, actually I did some work during my undergraduate degree when I was back for the summer with the Environment Agency tagging Salmon.
My degree was in genetics so it was all biology based. I was tagging the migrating salmon, anesthetising them to chill them out, putting tags on them, weighing them and measuring them all that kind of thing. Proper hands on data collection.
I’ll put a link as well, I have been posting to Warrior Forum. Although the SEO meetup is good, I also post on the Warrior Forum, which is a digital marking forum that’s on line. People chip in, you can ask questions and people give you advice.
One of them was the fact that the project has no overheads, and I was like am I doing something wrong.
The whole project has cost less than a cheeseburger to be honest. The domain name cost 99p from GoDaddy, that covers me for the first 12 months. Every year after that its 12.99.
All my hosting is done through Google Appspot. That probably won’t scale for free as more and more traffic goes to the site, but hopefully by then I will have monetised it as well.
I’ve kind of got some plans to monetise the site as well.
But yeah I just kind of posted to them “am I doing something wrong? Have I missed something? I don’t seem to have spent any money!”.
This place here, the Bear & Billet, that’s where the next SEO meetup is. Love going there for a burger actually, they do some really good burgers and some good beers as well.
At the moment I am just at the stage of creating as much buzz as I can for nothing. I know I could speed up getting more people to the site by doing like paid for Facebook advertising, or pay per click on Google, but I am really enjoying creating something from nothing.
I’ve wrote every single line of code, hand coded in notepad++. All the content is mine, all the imagery is mine.
Yeah its cool just seeing people go there, click around the site, interact with it, engage with it, then tweet and retweet and send message over, from something that has cost me 99p and my time.
I have put quite a lot of time into it, but like I said I’m enjoying the whole process so it’s not really work.
I cycle home as fast as I can from work, get back at about 6:30, throw some food inside me and then start hacking away on the site till probably 11 – 11:30 at night. Do that 5 days a week. And then if I’m not out on the weekend doing something I’ll do the same thing then.
So like I said it’s not monetised at the moment, I’m just reaching out to as many Chester accounts and businesses and organisations to see if there is anything I can help them with.
I’ve had quite a few people get in touch with me over Instagram and LinkedIn as well. Like The Core Music, which is like a promotions music thing in the Chester area. They said they were going to contribute towards the blog.
I went to that opening the other day of a furniture store in Chester. Got to meet the Lord Mayoress.
All of these things have come about because of the site.
I’m actually, as soon as I finish this video going to head straight to Hoole, one of the suburbs of Chester on the other side, on the English side of Chester, and attend a swing class, so get my dance on.
That again came about because of the site. They got in touch, Maria from Cheshire swing cats got in touch saying that she would like to contribute towards the blog.
Obviously I would promote that as well. If people provide blog content, all that I need is the imagery and the text. I’ll format it how they want it, put it on the site and tweet it up. Promote it and drive traffic to it as well.
So it’s good for them and it’s also content for me that I haven’t had to spend time writing so its win-win. She invited me to Hoole festival. They were doing a 45 minute show and a 45 minute intro dance lesson so I went along to that and decided “hey I’m going to sign up my Sunday evenings are free”. So I’m going to start heading over to Hoole now.
I think I’ll leave it there. I will do my usual check out everythingchester.co.uk. You can check out the Twitter as well. Its @every_chester. I couldn’t get Everything Chester because Twitter only lets you get so many letters.
An on Instagram and Facebook and everything like that, Pinterest, it’s just everythingchester for all of them.
Obviously my personal ones as well contact_roberts.
If you’re an organisation or a business or holding an event in Chester, just send a tweet over. I’ll retweet it or you can get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just send over any content, or if you know somebody who runs that kind of thing get them to send it over, I’ll happily promote it for them.
Right catch up with you soon.