I am Ron Hendriks
Hi, this is Ron from Netherlands. For the last 12 years, I have been working as chief editor for serveral print magazines and as professional freelance writer for a number of other publications on traffic, public transport, bicycling, driving safety and other related topics. In another word, I’m an experienced blogger specialized in traffic and transport.
Some of you may find my name familiar from the book Publish your own digital magazine released on Amazon in late 2011. Yes, that is my first hand book about how to build a news website and get favored by both online readers and interested advertisers.
But what you may not know is that the book was initiated based on my experience creating the website verkeersnet.nl back in 2008. Got curious? Let’s hear my story on this web project.
Creating a WordPress site got me into serious business
I live in Zoeterwoude, a tiny village not far from The Hague, Netherlands. Back there, I noticed that there was not many websites around the country dedicated to traffic and transportationvehicles, at least not on a professional level. Since this topic has always been a big one, influencing people most, I believed it would draw in a large audience. As I have also had lots of experience on traffic and transport field, I wondered why not make a website on this?
That’s how verkeersnet.nl was born. And the final result didn’t disappoint me at all.
The last couple years has seen a profitable business coming from the website through selling banners and job ads. And it also somehow advertises my other activities as a freelance writer. People see me as an expert on the subject and I have been asked to write special articles and magazines for many groups. By now verkeersnet.nl has got about 7000 subscribers and 35.000 pageviews monthly. Not quite stunning but acceptable for a small website. And FYI, the name “verkeersnet” means traffic network in Dutch.
If you didn’t have a chance to read my book on how to utilize a news website, you may get some ideas from my development process with verkeersnet.nl below.
How I started from scratch
The theme I use for my website is DW Focus – responsive WordPress news theme from DesignWall team. Here are why.
First of all, DW Focus theme has a trendy design for online news magazines as The Next Web, Mashable, The Verge and was ranked 10th on 20 Stunning responsive WordPress themes. Enough for its credibility, yeah?
Secondly, the traffic world is divided into different specialized niches like public transport, parking, bicycling, road safety and so on. Therefore, I need a clean and neat menu system for my site with well-organized categories and sub-categories. There are lots of WordPress themes for news portals, but not many can can handle that in a nice way as DW Focus.
Moreover, as I also focus on selling ads, there must be rooms for some banners with various sizes on my site. And DW Focus offers it quite well.
Some valuable lessons learnt
It took me a few days to implement the theme, and one or two weeks on and off to fine tune the theme and translate things. I’m no expert but I know enough from PHP and CSS to make simple adjustments. DW Focus made me realize that making a news website from scratch is not hard at all.
Before changing to DW Focus theme, I put a lot of plugins on verkeersnet.nl. That made the website heavy and slow, so I spent some time to find other solutions and the Focus theme made external plugins become totally redundant. For instance, I skipped using WP Touch because the responsive design of DW Focus did a better job.
At the same time, I switched to a more professional WordPress specialized hosting solution using W3 total cache and a CDN to speed up things. Lesson learned: use as few plugins as possible.
As a next step for the site improvement, I’m thinking about introducing a paid subscription. I have tested several plugins and found some potential ones but more testing would be needed though. However, I believe DesignWall support team is always there if I need any help as they have always given me prompt support for every of my technical questions over the time.
That’s my story, guys. I’m available for any question regarding things above. So just comment or tweet me if you have some. I would love to hear your story too.
Enjoy the story from Ron Hendriks? Want to share your own story? If you have a beautiful project and want to share your story with us, simply submit your WordPress site and we will get back to you for more discussion on delivering an interesting showcase like this. Feel free to submit multiple times should you have more than one website.