Meet Damian Roberton; car enthusiast and self-confessed “technology newbie”.
I recently ‘met’ Damian on an online forum and we got to chatting about what we do and it eventually emerged that we both run websites, though have certainly traveled very different paths to get there!
Damian is the walking definition of a guy who has turned a passion into an online business, having turned his passion for motor vehicles into an Australian blog – www.ryda.org.au – Rate Your Drive Australia.
Via his website, Damian documents everything from safe driving tips through to how to get the best deal on insurance products and even tips on how to get your employer to make you car repayments for you!
Although not yet turning much of a profit from his website, Damian is well on his way to a nice income earning “passion project” and so I thought it would be good to get a testimonial from someone who is using open source software to great effect.
Damian, how does a self-confessed “tech newbie” start a successful car website, with no background in technology?
Well I think the first thing is that I had a friend that knows how to build websites. He build the site for me using WordPress and he used that platform knowing that I would have no shortage of online help should I have any questions about how to use it ongoing. I think that is actually a key to open source software; if you need help, there are plenty of people out there who use the product, are familiar with the product and can help.
That brings up an interesting point about issues and support, can you outline an area where the fact you are using an open source platform such as WordPress has come in handy?
There have been many instances, as you can imagine with someone running a website for the first time! The one that sticks out was early on, I spent literally 3 hours trying to workout how to do a custom menu. It finally dawned on me that there is probably someone in a forum that can help, so I did a Google search and found exactly what I needed within 5 minutes and had the navigation menu set-up 10 minutes later.
If I was using custom software I would have either been stuck until my developer got around to helping me, or paying someone to do it.
The other great thing about WordPress as a platform is the access to plugins, many of which are completely free. I use All in one SEO to help me get that area right, and I also use the Redirection plugin to help conserve the all important “link juice” from the inevitable 404 errors.
A final thing I have found useful is the ability to find a cheap niche theme. I use them from WooThemes and have found them very easy to use, low cost and again, had it not been for the WordPress platform and it’s millions of users, access to such great themes would not be available to webmasters like myself.
What are your goals for the site ongoing?
Initially my goal was just to document all my knowledge on a topic that I am so passion about; cars. But as I have moved on, I have become more “commercial” with it. I am now looking at Google Adsense and perhaps selling me advertising space. That is still a while off, but it’s in my mind anyway.
If you would like any further information about cars, car finance saving tips or a first-hand insight into Damian’s journey, follow him on Google+.