If you’re opening this post for the first time, you’re probably a little confused. The color scheme might seem off or maybe the navigation seems a little different. Make no mistake, this is a brand new blog that I own and operate alone called The Renegade Coder.
As a part of the transition, I plan to keep my weekly updates going strong. However, I am not migrating the old updates to this site. Instead, I’ve chosen to start fresh. So to kick off a brand new series of updates, I’m going to start by talking about why I chose to move to a new blog and how things will be different moving forward.
Table of Contents
Why the New Blog?
As a bit of a heads up, the following section is a small rant on my past experiences. I purposefully left out names and links as I do not want my comments to reflect poorly on my previous team. Instead, the commentary is meant to highlight the impact of a work ethic mismatch in a team. If you do not wish to read on, feel free to jump to the next section to read about how the new site will function.
You Have Not Enough Content
If you spent any amount of time on the previous site since its launch in October 2016, then you probably remember how heavily skewed the content was between the three authors. Below is a breakdown of my contribution to the blog based on article category:
|Category||Articles Contributed||Total # of Articles||% of Contribution|
At this level, the impact seems pretty clear. However, I’m only cherry picking statistics here. You should probably be saying something like the following:
“But Jeremy, what about the quality of the content? Sure you have significantly more posts, but that doesn’t account for what those posts contain.”
Of course! Let’s start by taking a look at word count. It isn’t the best measurement because it depends on the author’s writing style, but it’s a nice start. As a sample, I’ll snag the word counts from five posts from each author. The average of these samples should give us a good idea of the normal amount of time and effort given by each author when writing an article.
|Author||Article 1||Article 2||Article 3||Article 4||Article 5||Average|
The first thing you’ll probably notice is the two missing values for Author B. It turns out that Author B only really had 3 posts with original content. The rest of the posts were either my commentary on their videos or their brief introduction of their videos. In either case, Author B never really owned a piece of the blog, so the fact that their was any original content at all is pretty great.
A Closer Look
Alright, so what does all this data actually mean? As it turns out, there is a major difference between my average word count and Author A’s. To put this in perspective, we can actually estimate the total number of words for each author by simply multiplying their average word count with their total number of articles:
// Estimated Total Word Count = Average Word Count x Number of Articles Jeremy: 1624 x 54 = 87696 Author A: 626.6 x 8 = 5013 Author B: 528 + 184 + 1200 = 1912 // Author B actually wrote 5 articles, but 2 of them were videos // Proportion of Total Work Jeremy: 87696 / (87696 + 5013 + 1912) = 92.6% Author A: 5013 / (87696 + 5013 + 1912) = 5.3% Author B: 1912 / (87696 + 5013 + 1912) = 2.0%
With these numbers, the situation is far more clear. My content accounted for 92.6% of all of the content on the site.
That said, I don’t think my numbers are all that accurate. I mentioned above that I authored 21 SOLIDWORKS posts with an asterisk. All of these posts were videos with a handful of sentences (probably 50 words on average). That cuts my portion down to about 55,000 words. With a rework of the math, the proportions come out as follows:
// Proportion of Total Work Jeremy: 1624 x 33 + 50 x 21 = 54642 // Recalculation of the total word count -> 54642 / (54642 + 5013 + 1912) = 88.75% Author A: 5013 / (54642 + 5013 + 1912) = 8.14% Author B: 1912 / (54642 + 5013 + 1912) = 3.11%
Astonishingly, a 30,000 word count difference has almost no effect on the distribution. My proportion of the work dropped about 4% of which 3% was redistributed to Author A and 1% was redistributed to Author B. At the end of the day, I still walk home with an overly disproportionate amount of work on my shoulders.
Disproportional Work Ethic Across the Board
Of course, the numbers above just account for posts. I also designed the entire site layout aside from what was provided by the theme, and I managed the entire backend of the site. The backend mainly included management of all of the various plugins we used on the site as well as other major tasks like newsletters, marketing, and SEO.
Just before transitioning, I spent a considerable amount of time just cleaning up the media throughout the site to improve SEO. In addition, my tutorial series extended beyond a simple chain of posts. Each article included bonus material on GitHub for practice as well as a quiz.
Once I factored in all that work, I started to see how unfair the situation was. After about 6 months, I decided I didn’t want to be taken advantage of anymore.
A Desire for Freedom
In all reality though, the issue wasn’t that simple. Sure, I was getting frustrated with the work ethic of the team, but I also wanted to be able to break out and make decisions of my own freedom. Being a 50% stakeholder of a site made it difficult to make changes without some backlash.
I also didn’t care for the scope of the site. We were covering a lot of topics that didn’t really mesh well together (i.e. SOLIDWORKS, Java, IT, etc). I remember getting comments from my dad saying something along the lines of “I really don’t know what you guys are trying to do.” That alone should have been enough for me to make some changes, but I still had a lot of faith in the site and the team. It was ultimately the combination of everything above as well as some other minor details that drove me to start my own blog.
If you want to read a little bit more about my story, I placed a bit of a summary of my experience in my About page. I plan to keep it there to serve as my motivation to continue building this asset. Feel free to let me know how I’m doing in the comments.
Now that I have my own site, I’m much more motivated than ever to continue writing. With the new website, I’m able to start over and call all the shots. I think it’s really worked out already. In my opinion, The Renegade Coder is much more clean and user friendly. It’s also largely more professional looking and consistent. The rest of this section will describe the specific differences between the old site and The Renegade Coder.
A Host of Improvements
For starters, almost nothing from the old site remains except for the content. In other words, I have only migrated my Java series and my general blog posts to the new site. Beyond that, everything is fresh and new. The last six months have given me a ton of insight into plugins which has allowed me to dramatically simplify the site. Now most of the work is handled by the theme, so the site itself is far less clunky. When you use the site, you can expect the following changes:
- The home page is more than just a list of the latest posts – users are greeted in style
- The site does not support login – just a newsletter (see the footer to sign up)
- Comments are open to anyone as long as you provide a name and email (social media works too)
- Java tutorials received a major boost
- Quizzes and bonus material will now link to buttons at the bottom of each tutorial
- Syntax highlighting switched from Crayon to Enlighter for SiteOrigins PageBuilder support
- Tutorials are now grouped in a series that can be accessed from the right sidebar
- The right sidebar is accessible from every page except the home page
- The newsletter uses mailchimp instead of the Newsletter plugin
- The theme is now OnePress instead of Colormag
- The site has a professional logo and icon
- Each page now includes a breadcrumb for easy backtracking
- The site does not host ads – I don’t plan to monetize my site using ads (though I may begin selling some of my material)
- There will not be any custom social media profiles for now – I plan to blast a lot of my content over personal channels
- There will not be any reviews or posts about SOLIDWORKS – only lessons and blogs
- And many more!
The Renegade Coder Updates
As is tradition, I plan to continue to provide a list of changes to the site every week (probably bumping them up a day to Tuesday). I want to keep this going as a personal goal because it forces me to work on the site a little each week. It also lets you know if the site is safe as plugins need to be updated regularly to address security concerns.
Latest Plugin Changes
- Updated TinyMCE Advanced to version 4.5.6.
- Updated Media File Renamer to version 3.2.9.
Latest Marketing Changes
- No more Linkis or CrowdFire – For a better user experience, I plan to engage in a more personal manner
- My only channels for The Renegade Coder content will be Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (they will also be my personal profiles) though I also use StumbleUpon and Pinterest
- Major changes in the way of branding:
- A custom logo and icon thanks to the wonderful work of Pamela Austin (never doubt the power of Fiverr)
- A cover sheet of stationary for all of my Java worksheets (thanks Pam!)
- All images are being updated with their source even if they are free to use
Coming Soon to The Renegade Coder!
With the new site, I’m hoping to begin selling some of my material. The posts and quizzes will continue to be free, but I plan to release a premium series of problems for users to solve. These problems could range from Google-style interview questions to full projects. Each project or problem set will be sold on the site in the form of a PDF. I have no timeline set for when these PDFs will be available, but I’m hoping to have something ready to go by June. So make sure to tell all your comp sci friends and teachers! 🙂
Every year, I like to reevaluate where the site is at, if for no other reason than to track my progress.
Markdown is great for generating HTML, but what if you want a PDF? Here are three quick ways to get it done.