Ghacks turns 10: a look at the past, present and future of the site
When I posted Welcome to Ghacks on October 3, 2005 I did not know what to expect from this site. It was my first blog and initially designed to provide information about software that a friend of mine was creating.
I had previous experience on the Internet, ran a successful web forum for instance for a long time, but the blog was different and about to change my life.
I began to write about things in tech that interested me, tweaks, how-to articles, news, all that good stuff. One day I decided to add Google Adsense to the site, and it was on that day that the site got promoted to the Digg frontpage for the first time.
Remember Digg? It was great in the beginning and could throw tens of thousands of visitors to your site in a couple of hours.
Anyway, the earnings jumped through the roof and I realized immediately what a chance this was.
The site became popular quickly after that initial push and made the frontpage on Digg, Slashdot, Delicious and other sites fairly regularly which I think helped a lot to establish it.
I made the decision to do this full time in 2006 after carefully evaluating all options, making calculations and going over worst-case plans more often than you can imagine. I quit my job at the end of that year and started working full time on the site ever since.
This turned out to be the best decision that I ever made. In those years, I learned a lot. While research and writing are important, there are other things that I learned or had to do on a daily basis including keeping an eye on SEO and social marketing, moderation of comments, WordPress development and updates, communication with third-parties, and web server administration.
The ride was not always pleasant. For instance, the site was hosted by GoDaddy in the beginning. GoDaddy suspended the site one day without informing me (due to it hitting another frontpage at that time). I had to call them in the US to get things sorted out and find a server for the site on the same day to get the site transferred to it.
I moved the site to Hetzner first, a German provider which did not offer managed Linux servers at the time. This meant that I had to setup up most of the server by myself.Â While that worked mostly through trial and error in the beginning, it taught me a lot, including that Linux administration was not pleasant back then.
Hetzner is a great company but servers were still my responsibility back then. I made the decision to move the site again, this time to Wiredtree which offered managed solutions. The main benefit of the move was that this freed up time that I could spend in other areas.
Wiredtree takes care of security updates and server availability, and their support is just awesome.
The site had its ups and downs in the past couple of years (mostly downs) ever since Google introduced Panda, Penguin and other algorithmic changes to its search engine.
I still have issues with Google's approach and how it determines quality and ranks sites and articles based on it but have given up on the idea that I can find out why they made the site tank so much.
The situation was so dire that I wrote Ghacks is dying back in February of this year. I received incredible support afterwards and things have become better since then thanks to a number of changes I made and an uptick in traffic from search engines.
One core goal that I had back then was to reduce the site's reliance on a single traffic source. Ghacks Deals and Patreon are two of the major efforts that help me with that and both are off to a good start.
I know that some readers may not like these deals posts and I can understand that. I'll never post more than two or three deals per week which means that they make up less than 10% of posts on the site.
I try my best to find deals that should be interesting to a number of readers (and usually myself as well), and think I did a good job so far doing that.
I don't know what the future holds and if I'll be sitting here in ten years from now writing the site's 20th anniversary post just like I do today.
I hope I can do that but things are changing so quickly on the Internet that one never knows. Will blogs still be a thing in five or ten years from now? What about independent sites, will they still exist and be able to compete with well-funded company-operated sites?
The current trend seems to steer away from technical sites like mine as the majority of Internet users seem to be less interested in topics like privacy, security, Windows programs or web browsers.
I'll do my best to keep this site up and running, and if that means that I have to adjust it somehow, I'll do that to the best of my abilities provided that it won't effect the integrity of it or its core.
We (that is Daniel Pataki mostly, great guy) are working on a new theme for the site that will move the current one to the modern age. It won't make changes for the sake of making changes, but there will be important improvements that I would like to point out right now.
- The new theme will do away with Font Awesome and other icon fonts. In fact, we try to reduce the number of outbound calls for design purposes to Zero.
- We will switch on HTTPS for the whole site.
- Usability will improve thanks to better colors, fonts, line width and such.
This will be a massive undertaking but if everything goes well, it should improve the site by a lot without taking anything away from it that you have come to love and enjoy.
Ghacks would not be there without you. Regardless of how you read the site, whether you are a regular who reads every since article or just an occasional visitor who comes by every now and then, whether you spread the word to others or not, support this site on Patreon or by sharing articles, or by being a silent reader.
If it were not for you, the site would probably never come take off and I'd be sitting in some office doing mundane boring things all day long to earn a living.
I'd also like to thank all past writers of the site and blog owners that I have been in contact with over the years.
And now, onward to the next ten years.Advertisement