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Web Site Third Anniversary
By: Zdenko Kahlina
‘What the Hell Is Zdenko’s Corner?’
Keeping track of my 500+ blogs and stories, emailing my contributors, designing graphics, editing stories and answering emails/comments from my growing readership of 20,000+ monthly loyal fans – while at the same time maintaining regular job, family and bike riding, it’s sometimes too easy to get stuck in the trenches. So as I am approaching “Zdenko’s Corner” 3rd birthday, this is a great time to up-periscope and take stock of just where the heck am I, how far I’ve come, and where I’m headed with this blog site.
How it all started
A little bit more than three years ago, I got this idea about having my own web site. My computer at home was loaded with files that I wanted to share with my friends and family. Every year, Vera and I would travel to different destinations, several times a year. I was always taking photos and making notes about these trips. Upon return, I was using my notes to create diaries and stories from the trips, but was unable to share my stories with anyone. In addition to these written stories, came digital photography era and need for easy photo sharing. Instead of developing photos and mailing them to my friends around the world, the idea was to post them on the web site, so everybody can see them, at their own time and pace. So, that’s how all this started…
Zkahlina.ca – English front page
At the beginning I had to learn how this web business worked, and what is required to have my own personal web site. That’s when I started talking to people who knew more than I did and I was asking lots of questions. Soon after I registered my domain name, choose host provider and was ready to go.
In January 2009, I started the “Zdenko’s Corner” web site with the help from friend of mine Bobby Gorman. He already had experience working on other web sites, knew HTML code and wanted to learn WordPress. I on the other hand, wanted to learn everything, so it was a perfect match.
We designed a website that I thought would be cool – a place where fans like me could get info on traveling, retro cycling – beyond race results, and a little bit about my home city of Zagreb and city where I currently live Edmonton.
Zdenko loves cycling
What the Hell Is Zdenko’s Corner?
Right from the beginning I knew what I didn’t want to write about. I didn’t want my site to turn into site that reports about the race results, daily news and similar stories. There are many sites that already do that. They have professionals who work every day, travel around and have enough time (and money) to be on top of all this.
I wanted to write about stuff that very few write about. Like about old heroes in cycling, or some old race stories from the time when I was still competing. Nobody ever wrote about the cycling in Croatia as well as about cycling here in Alberta. It’s a small sport in both countries. I also wanted to write about my home city of Zagreb, some unknown local stuff. Than I figured because I am living in Edmonton, that I should also write similar old stories about Edmonton.
2009 – Awstats produces visual statistics about visitors of my site.
My first year…
That’s how all this started, and that’s what “Zdenko’s Corner” is all about. I admit I never had a clear idea that I would develop the range and depth of quality content blogs that I have, but I did have a desire to build it and see what happens.
The site looked cool – so I thought – even if I only had few blogs at the beginning. At the time, I was pulling in other site’s headlines and blogs from a third party provider as content – I knew it was lame, but I had to do something. So I began searching chat rooms and forums for other fans, who I thought might want a place to publish their comments. I found several friends and few bloggers and somehow convinced them to send me a few travel or cycling reports. I had no marketing budget, but thanks to the beauty of the web – readers started finding me.
Traffic grew slowly but steadily, ever since I started. I was creating new blogs and stories and closely monitoring visitors on my site. To give you some perspective – I had about 2,000 Unique Readers in May of 2009 and that number doubled by December. I was happy with this.
Zdenko on his bike
We Have Lift Off
Over the next twelve months traffic continued to grow and with it my responsibility about everything I was writing in the blogs. I now live and breathe thru my writing every day and most nights, and I’m still not (touch wood) bored by all this and someone please shoot me if I ever become “jaded” – I really do love it – and consider this the most fun and rewarding “job” I‘ve ever had.
The only disappointment came from the ones close to me – my friends, for whom I started this site in the beginning. They failed to show much interest in all this and judging on their luck of comments left on the site, they are not stopping by very often to read any of my stuff. But other than that, I’ve had many rewarding moments in the past three years, and have earned a place on the desktops of many readers all over the world. I gained enough credibility to be received well by most people I ask for interviews and a loyal readership that our advertisers want to connect with.
By doing all this I’ve met and work with the coolest people, get to see the best places in the world. I called up some interesting people for interviews, who were really surprised for my interest to write about them. I’ve received emails from all over the world, from people who read my blogs and had something to say. Some of them would send me links and other information that I needed at the time and some sent me books and magazines, to give me information I was still missing in my blogs. Incredible network of people – so, yup things were looking pretty good.
2010 – Awstats produces visual statistics about visitors of my site.
I Deserve a Break Today
The following year I had even more ideas to write about, just not enough time. Vera and I traveled throughout Europe, Mexico and United States and I created lots of new blogs with beautiful pictures. I was receiving only positive comments about my blogs.
Since my site was bilingual from day one, once I had enough blogs on both languages I decided to split the site between to different languages. In January 2010 Bobby helped me to create Canadian and Croatian sites as separate entities. I still like the concept, but this change requires more work on my part, as some of the blogs had to be written on two different languages (like this one!).
That’s why we implemented “Translator” application in 2011, which will bring some international visitors to my site and help me save some time, by not being in position to write the same blog on two languages. Already, I have people visiting from countries like Brazil, Germany, Japan, China, Russia, Mexico and others. Top three countries on my visitors list are: U.S.A, Canada and Croatia, which is normal and expected.
Gotta Add Some Training Advice
This is something I wanted on the site from the very beginning, but this is area where I would certainly appreciate some help. I am still looking for a cyclist, possibly ex-rider, who would like to provide training and fitness articles for my site. Toolbox section is also awaiting some articles… Of course this would be a volunteer position as I don’t have resources to pay for this work.
There’s no way I could have done this myself, so my hat goes off to all the people who send their text and pictures to me, and all the sponsors and advertisers that still support me. Of course big thank you to all readers – who’ve supported me and continue to visit “Zdenko’s Corner” day after day. Thank you all very much.
2011 – Awstats produces visual statistics about visitors of my site.
This will be an awesome year at Zdenko’s Corner – I promise to bring you more of the content you won’t find on other sites – and if you see me somewhere, please say hello or at least leave a comment after reading and viewing my blogs.
I’m going to continue to use my site for travel blogging, writing about sport of cycling (my passion), and writing about my family and my heritage. This will include memories about my home town Zagreb and Croatia – country where I was born. This is fun for me, like biking. I take it seriously, but it’s still fun, and for me fun usually means dumb, so I can’t guarantee that anything here will actually be worth reading. I can promise to ramble, preach, moan, whine, comment, brag for no apparent reason, and normally not say anything of too much importance. So yeah, hope you enjoy and THANKS for reading.
Camera is my tool when working on the blog
Milestones – Some Highlights of Zdenko’s Corner
- January 2009 – Zdenko’s Corner Launches
- April 2009 – For the first time reached more than 1,000 monthly visitors.
- December 2009 – After slow but steady traffic growth, readership reaches 5,000 monthly visitors and almost 200 published blogs.
- January 2010 – Site was split between Canadian (English) and Croatian blogs.
- September 2010 – Number of monthly visitors went over 10,000.
- December 2010 – Site continues to gain on popularity and by the end of the year I have record number of monthly visitors: more than 17,000 for two months in a row. I have published total of 378 blogs so far.
- January 2011 – Google AdSense was implemented as a first step to commercialize the site. In addition links to Facebook and other social sites were added to every blog, for visitors to select “Like” button and share the blog with others.
- January 2011 – Implemented Translator application on both web sites for more international audience.
- April 2011 – Commercial Ads were added to the header on the main page(s).
- April 2011 – Photo slide show of “Daily Distractions” Gallery was added to the main page on English side.
- May 2011 – Gotta comment? Was added to each blog template.
- May 2011 – Contact tab was expanded with information how to become a sponsor and RSS feeds.
- May 2011 – Set up the daily distractions box on the Croatian side.
- December 2011 – Site continues to gain on popularity and by the end of this year I have record number of monthly visitors: more than 22,000 for several months in a row. I have published total of 378 blogs so far. Remember: this is still a one man operation!
Zdenko and wife Vera; his biggest support!
At the end of another successful year, Zdenko thanks you for your support and for your reading. Best wishes to you, your family, friends and colleagues this Holiday Season. Merry Christmas and happy New year!