NOTE: Justin got too busy traveling around the world and writing books to maintain his site — but it's still a great story. 🙂
I found the Doglirious site through a link in our Forum and my first reaction was “WOW!”
SO impressed was I, that I emailed Justin (the webmaster) to find out if I could profile his site in the Super Affiliate Handbook as an example of how an affiliate site SHOULD be fleshed out.
When Justin replied with a little background about the site, I was even MORE impressed. Here's what he had to say:
Michelle (my girlfriend) and I adopted a dog from the Atlanta Humane Society about a year ago and ever since then, had been disappointed with the dog websites that existed. We were interested in reading product reviews from a website other than Amazon.com. Also, we were looking for reliable tips & advice that was fun to read (and sounded like it came from real dog owners). Finally, we wanted a central place to find online dog-product discounts from across the Web – but we just couldn't find a website that offered these elements in a user-friendly manner.
So, about two months ago, we began brainstorming about how to create a dog lover's website. One month ago, I bought your eBook, and with a lot of hard work, this project quickly blossomed due to our enthusiasm for the subject.
Justin and Michelle started with exactly the right motivation and enthusiasm for building a business website. They saw the demand and went with the topic based on the fact that they're both completely ‘doglirious'.
LOVE that name – Doglirious.
The WordPress Theme
The theme Justin is using for the site is Brian Gardner's (Studio Press) Lifetyle theme. I asked him if they had an Elancer produce the graphics for the template or whether they designed them.
Other than Brian's theme and the WordPress plug-ins, we developed the entire site ourselves – the layout, content, and technical design. Michelle and I had a concept for how we wanted the website to look & feel. I then saw the Revolution Lifestyle theme and thought, “Yep, this is it!“
I thought pretty much the same thing when Brian released his new WordPress theme package — especially about the Lifestyle, Church and Chrome themes — so I bought the StudioPress multi-theme package right away and have it up on a few sites already including 101Date.com (Lifestyle theme) and MyEnergyPal.com (Church Theme), the latter of which was a combined venture with my friend, Ed who wanted to generate leads for his local energy assessment business.
The affiliate in me said “let's make money!” so I started that site on Sunday afternoon and pretty much had it the way it looks now by Monday afternoon — a total of about 12 hours which included time to collect and create some content as well as research and place a few offers. Now it's just waiting for that all-important content from Ed.
Granted, I have a ‘little bit' of experience with WordPress and WordPress themes but I wondered how much experience Justin had when he started working with the Lifestyle theme. Here's what Justin had to say about his own level of expertise prior to starting Doglirious…
I have been tinkering with Web design for years and also obtained a Masters degree in usability & information architecture. So with those skills and the very helpful people at the Revolution community forum I quickly grasped WordPress (which I've never used before). The Revolution forum admins – just like yours on NetProfitsToday – are prompt and extremely helpful with their feedback and advice.
Oh…if you are interested, I've attached our early drafts of the website layout to this email for your reference (see screenshot to the right). A $5 box of Crayola colored pencils was our very first business expense.
In addition to aesthetic appeal, Justin's educational background is likely what caused him to jump at the chance to work with this beautiful theme. The section layouts lead visitors down a natural path from Featured articles / posts near the top of the page to various sections of featured categories, and lastly to the sidebar navigation.
What sets the latest StudioPress themes apart however is the Featured Content Gallery plugin which allows you to attach those large pictures at the top of the page to specific articles, and add thumbnail pictures to the category sections — all of which increases the likelihood that a visitor will click a link and go deeper into the site.
For example, according to the Google Analytics report for MyEnergyPal (which hasn't even officially launched 'cause I still have tweaking to do), of the 40 unique visitors we've had so far, the landing page has a 0.00% bounce rate. Bounce rate is the average percentage of initial visitors who “bounce” to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.
But better yet, the average Pages/Visit is 16.50 and average time on the site is almost 24 minutes. Granted, that could have something to do with the fact that I count as one visitor and I had the site open in a browser for many, many, MANY hours. 🙂
Needless to say, when a theme makes a site that ‘sticky', I plan to covert each of my sites to one of the StudioPress themes as soon as possible.
Interested in a LifeStyle Change?
Join us at Affiliate Blogger PRO which features the use of StudioPress themes.
Ben Behrouzi says
Great Job on the Design Justin. I find myself on the WordPress section of Mashable.com often. Definitely a great resource for all bloggers using wordpress.
Derek Heck says
Thanks for the article. I am always looking for good templates. It is much easier to start with a good well built template and then do my customization.
The other site I have found that seem to have great templates is wootheme.com
Rosalind Gardner says
I agree, the guys at WooThemes also do very good design work. The template that I use on https://rosalindgardner.com is a WooTheme.
You’ll find them listed in my Where to Find Professional WordPress Themes article. 🙂
Mark Washburn says
Great information as usual. I love the look of your green energy site, the colors jump out and really catch the eye. I also like your logo graphic, simple but classy. One question…did you do that graphic work yourself or outsource that to a designer?
Thanks again for all you do…
Rosalind Gardner says
Thanks for the nice compliment about the look of MyEnergyPal.com.
Ed had the logo created through a contest at 99Designs.com. I think it cost him $175.
Brian Gardner’s themes really look good, and I was going to buy the Lifestyle one. But then I came across the Affiliate Theme which has recently been launched by Unique Blog Designs. Though it doesn’t look as nice as Brians’ it does offer some good features, which is causing the confusion..
Can you please recommend which one should be used for an Affiliate blog?
Hi Ros, after I asked you about where you get the theme for your travel blog, I too went to purchase the lifestyle theme from Brian Gardner for my asian hair blog, and I’ve to say I’m really impressed by how easy and professional it looks! I’m using the same theme to build 2 more other new blogs. Plus Brian and his team give great support and my questions are answered really quickly. His manual guide is also clear and easy to understand, thumbs up! I’m thinking of buying the rest of his themes soon, when my current sites are stablized.
P/S: Is Brian Gardner your brother?
Rosalind Gardner says
No, Brian Gardner is no relation, but my family would certainly be willing to adopt him! 🙂
And you’re right about his Support. I sent him a quick note the other morning and he replied in minutes. Awesome!
Very impressive sites.
The big photo on the top home page and the thumbnail images representing each articles really make the sites look very professional.
May I know where do you get those photos to use for the sites. Are they stock photos? Is it free to use or some fees are involved?
Rosalind Gardner says
I access photos and graphic images from a number of different agencies including:
They’re all fee-based, but you can get some of them fairly cheap either through having a subscription. BigStockPhoto is especially good for great, inexpensive yet high-quality photos.
Hope that helps!
First congrats to Michelle and Justine for producing terrific website.
On the other hand I feel so inadequate, hopeless and useless after seeing such sites produced by very talented individuals that I’m abt to give up trying to earn something on the net. I’ve been struggling for more than a year now but haven’t earned a penny yet. All these folks who show/sell step by step systems and “walk you thru holding your hand” hasn’t help one bit.
May be it is not for me.
doglicious…. Great site, nice job Justin and Michelle! As a dog lover who has often looked for many of the things that prompted you to start this venture, I will be visiting you regularly.
You serve as an inspiration for me. 🙂 I’ll be checking out StudioPress.
All the studiopress themes look good. Just had a golf site built and it uses the lifestyle theme and it is easy to navigate around for a visitor. Before had been using the plrpro themes on all my sites, but I am going to swich then over to one of the studiopress theme that fits it.
John P says
Wow, Justin, great looking blog. I really like the slide show feature with the words that come up from the bottom. Not sure how to do that, but it gives me some great marketing ideas. Is that a feature of the StudioPress theme?
Well, like Roz says, time to do some more tweeking,
Is this easy for a newbie to use?
Has a delicious feel to it!
It’s really strange that, for example, we hear in Europe there are too many doctors, but when we live there we find it hard to get a family doctor…
Same with dog websites, there are like a gazillion of them, but obviously Justin and Michelle made theirs stand out simply because it contains info that others don’t. Makes you realize that anything is possible in the niche world…
DJ Baker says
Rosalind this is simply awesome. Justin, Michelle and Brian are all amazing!
I have been looking for this type of workable WordPress theme for so long! I went right out and bought the Lifestyle theme. If I had the bucks I would have bought them all! That will be soon. This is an amazing bargin!
I can’t even begin to tell you what I learned in reading this post! I have been following you for awhile now and I have learned so much about what makes a great affiliate site work and what NOT to do (oh man do I have some work to do!). Thank for for more great information. I will be featuring your site on my blog in the Next links and info segment. I hope you will check it out!
Dear Justin and Michelle,
In addition to the fact that your dog has found a good home with you, your blog is very easy on the eyes, good color coordination and balance. I am so impressed that I am considering obtaining it to redo my americanenglish phrases.blogspot.com blog.
Thanks Rosalind for sharing this with the community, you always have good bona fide content to offer and I look forward to your emails. I promote you to my students!
Eddie Gear says
A good site design indeed. Nice to see that you have taken the time to write about a newbie.
Dene Brock says
I used StudioPress and I liked it because it allows you to have a really nice format for mulitple authors (with their bio and photo). It was exactly what I needed, and much easier to configure than anything else I was finding in the WordPress world.
I recently switched to another format that has more of a “magazine” look and feel, but have kept StudioPress in my directory as well in case I decide to switch back. It’s an awesome theme!
Stomach Fat says
Great Post. I’ve noticed that there are a ton of new blogs either using the generic layouts, blogger.com layouts or just colors that are horrible for reading.
You can add your blog to the list too, but its not that new 🙂
Great job on the site…. I like to talk to you about some affiliate work and web work, can you contact me…..
Keep us all posted on the profit of the site…. Looks great…
Rosalind Gardner says
We’ll be posting links real soon to access Justin’s services, which are going to be NPT rates. HIS private rates are much more expensive! 🙂
I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been doing web design for 12 years, doing WordPress blogs for a little over 2 years and Brian Gardner’s themes are my favorite to work with. They come with great design, bells and whistles right out of the box. They are easy to customize. And he has GREAT support.
We are using the Church theme on our two new sites:
http://twilightblogs.com (uses WordPress MU)
And congrats to Justin. The dog site looks great!
Philip Chan says
I have know about Studiopress for a while now (even back when they were under the Revolution Themes Banner). They are pretty clean looking and user friendly and, as demonstrated here, perfect for marketing purposes out of the box.
I just wish that I had done it sooner 🙂
I have to give a big HUGE kudos to Justin and Michelle (and thank you Rosalind for sharing this).
We currently foster 2 dogs from animal shelters, and the experience has been fantastic! These guys (and gal) are wonderful animals and for the life of me we can’t understand why after 8 months of animal rescue sheltering they have not yet been adopted.
It is so nice to see someone go into this niche and make it their own (despite the incredible amount of competition in the dog training markets). I personally started my own dog care website almost 2 years ago and it’s still sitting on my desktop…so I’m so happy to see someone like Justin and Michelle share their passion in the way they have.
Their site has lots of valuable information and I’ve bookmarked it to assist us in the care of our little foster “kids”.
Following your loves and your passions makes this business so much easier, and I applaud you for helping them and them for following you.
Rosalind Gardner says
You’re SO right about how business is so much easier when you’re doing what you love.
And BIG kudos to you for fostering those pups. Maybe they HAVE found a home? 🙂
Coty wrote just what I was thinking. It’s a great web site, and I’m pleased you brought it to our attention Roz. Thank you.
Diner Dave says
Thanks for sharing these Ros! I too was impressed with Doglirious when I saw it in the updated SAH. I’m sold! I’ll be using the Lifestyles theme for my new website…but I will definitely need more help than Justin! 🙂
Rosalind Gardner says
I’ll get back to you via email.
Great job, Justin, and I suspect you and Michelle are blessed with a great deal of creativity as well as smarts.
Thanks for sharing, Ros. I certainly learned a lot by this example.