Is cms right for me?

Hello everyone!

First, i want to apologise for my english, its not my native language so bear with me guys.

I have a dilemma and a turning point in my (coding) life. I am considering, if i should take the time and learn cms or build my own to jumpstart future projects.

A bit about me:
Im no ordinary developer. I dont make websites for clients and nobody besides me will ever, at least when im still around, need to manage it. I make them for myself and for the visitors, of course. I love creating websites and coding and learning about it. I am self educated man (29) who codes for hobby and until now, have done it for free for non profitable projects. My knowledge on php, mysql, html, javascript and css varies on situation because i have learned as i go when and if i needed something. Every project has taught me a lot of new. I think i have about average skills in all but javascript and im always learning and improving myself (i recently laughed at a code i wrote few years back - it was so… i dont even know what to call it). And of course, i often read articles and tutorials about coding and new possibilities.

My endgoal - my dream
I find myself needing extra money and since i am in between jobs right now and have time i thought its a good idea to start to make my dream happen. To make new and innovative websites for everyobody and make a living out of it through ad revenue. It would be my dream job!

My kind of websites
I am no writer or even decent designer. My websites will always be functional - i dont know how else to call it in english. They will not be content driven websites but mainly focusing on one or several functions for visitors or bringing people together through it. I also use a lot of free responsive website templates or buy them and then write my code around it. I have constantly 10 or so website ideas that are new and innovative in my opinion and what i have not seen done yet, so there is no shortage of ideas.

How to start
I have allready made couple of websites in my native language and they are beginning to be popular. However, they are focused on relatively minority group so i know they will never be very popular. Since i have a lot of ideas i sometimes need to make a new but small websites fast for some functions and ideas and since now, i have copy-pasted some parts of previous project code to a now one, for example, user registration, some my preferred time calculations or database queries-statistics and so on. But most of my websites have 70% of custom code, made specially for functions it needs to have. But i have never perfected that 30% of code or made it customiseable enough for other projects - i made most of it work for that website only.

CMS or my own framework
So here i am now, deciding to make my own framework or use existing cms. I admit i know very little about cms. Pro of my own framework is that i always know how everything is coded and can add additional functionality pretty fast and i dont have to learn how to make plugins for open source cms. But some of that functionality can be added just by downloading a plugin and installing…


One major point in my opinion is that since i mostly make unique websites i rarely have any plugins i can use… besides user account and profile and some date functions. Maybe the learning curve to troubleshoot and create plugins of my own is far greater than building my own framework.

any thoughts, tips and ideas
I would appreciate a lot for any tips or thoughts about cms or what i am about to do - my dream.

Hi TaunoM. Welcome to the forums. :slight_smile:

It’s up to you, really, but your time would probably be better spent using an existing system rather than reinventing the wheel. A lot of people have put their heads together to create some amazing CMSes with lots of great add-ons. Rather than spend your time redoing all this, you could perhaps create add-ons for one or more CMSes and make money from them. And if you do get hit by a bus, someone else will have a better chance of picking up from where you left off.

Hi! :slight_smile:

What is cms you would reccommend for me? Just a reminder, my websites are with minimal content and a lot of unique functionality i probably cant download with plugins.

Your English is quite good. :slight_smile:

Your end goal is one that many have and is not easy to achieve. For every Facebook, Yelp, or Reddit there have been dozens of others who tried and never achieved the same kind of success for one reason or another. The thing about making websites with the goal of generating revenue is there are too many variables beyond your control. Whether or not people will like it is one thing (that is one thing you have the most control over). Search engine traffic is another thing. Whether or not people are going to share your site with their friends by clicking a Facebook like button is another. And whether or not any of your traffic translates into revenue is another thing.

You can launch a new website today, put 2 or 3 hours a week into publishing new content, put Google Adsense on it and at the end of one year make less than $10 in revenue. I had that happen. Making money was not the goal of starting the site. It was a personal interest site and some people really liked it. Sometimes I would look at the referring URLs and see people discussing my content, and sometimes outright copying entire posts (which bothered me). I would get some Facebook visitors, too. But the click-through rate was very low and the pay on clicks was sometimes as low as $0.04.

At the end of October, Yahoo/Bing killed the traffic on the site I put the most effort into. It was launched I believe in early 2006 and for all those years Yahoo sent consistent traffic to it. Google ranked it #1 for 2 weeks in early 2008 (when there was no advertising no it and no revenue) then in a matter of hours it went from #1 to sub-600 and to this day that site gets anywhere from 1 to 4 visitors per day from Google (it was getting 200 - 300 from Yahoo/Bing before they killed the traffic). The revenue from that site was $220 in October 2013. For November it was $0.

If you are in between jobs, your best option is to focus your time and effort on finding more consistent work and make websites with the goal of generating revenue as a sideline or after work hobby. Making websites requires a huge upfront investment of time with no guarantee of any payoff. Would you spend 100 hours working on something knowing you would only make $10 from it?

I think I have new and innovative ideas, too. Then I do some research and find my idea has already been done many times over.

Re-using 30% of your code is pretty good if you ask me. Investing the time to make your code re-usable is worthwhile. I have one set of database and other functionality that I use across 3 sites.

I visit the webmaster boards and I see people asking questions all the time about using a CMS in ways for which it was never intended to be used (especially Wordpress). There are plugins available? Do they do exactly what you want? Maybe, but probably not. Is the plugin author going to keep the plugin updated? Will updates come quickly after new versions of the CMS are released? Will the plugin author abandon the project leaving users who rely on it with nothing, as happens a lot? Then what about security risks? Using an open source CMS or plugin, everyone has access to the code and if a vulnerability is found, it spreads like wildfire. (I have been hacked because I failed to check for updates to open source CMSes like SMF, Joomla, and I think I got hacked through a Wordpress because I forgot to check for updates for a few days.) Then you have to consider the issue of resource usage. Some open source CMSes are big and bloated meaning that cheap shared hosting is not going to be suitable for you once you start getting traffic. Even a few thousand visitors per day will cause your host to tell you to upgrade to a VPS.

Then you have to learn the CMS. Not just how to use it to publish content, but the back-end programming of how to make it do what you want, something that may not be easy to accomplish. That alone can take 40, 80, or maybe even 100 or more hours. And when it changes, you have to learn more.

Using a CMS is like being placed inside of a box. Sometimes that box is just what you need. Other times it isn’t, and you are going to have to hammer that box into the shape you need it to be. That can be a lot of work. To this day I cannot understand the benefits of using a framework and inextricably tying your code to another code base.

Determine your requirements, all the functionality you need, consider security concerns, and so forth. Then see if you can find a CMS that does the majority of what you need by default. If you can find a CMS that does 80% of what you need, then maybe you are better off going with it. The benefit of writing your own code is that you can get exactly what you want, provided you have the skill.

For blogging or basic sites, I go with Wordpress. For everything else, I will write my own code.

Thank you! Very informative post! I probably wont be able to find a suitable cms… been browsing through the sticky list and trying to wrap my head around all of the “why ours is the best” reasons but havent quite found anything particulary usefult to me.

Good thing is i learned a lot watching tutorial videos and reading about cms… it will help me to build my own :slight_smile:

About ideas, yeah, have had that feeling many times! Thinking i just found a cool new idea and seen it done allready better than i could… but 10% of these ideas have been not been done, i think… i hope.

I get what you are saying about finding a job and profitability of sites. I didnt mean i wont find a new job, im just saying i will make the time useful while finding an opportunity. I currently have 3 sites that have minority group of users and these sites make me about 30 euros a month. i get about 500 users total per day across all three. Right now, i am planning a website that is fun and useful for almost everybody and try to at least double the monthly revenue.

Another ideas i had about minimizing risks was that i need to use multiple ad providers and since i will make many sites (probably around 10-20 that i need to keep an eye on and tweak now and then), the risk of suddenly loosing-it-all will decrease too. Currently using one in my native country and adsense, maybe will use another if it suits the theme of future project.

I wonder if i should make a blog about the experiences i have trying and hopefully succeeding…

A funny sidenote: i cant ever bring myself to use joomla in my native country websites because in my language, it means “drinking place”. Weird word to have in footer of a website that tries to be serious. lol

You can learn a lot by looking at existing CMSes and incorporating the features you need into your own project. CMSes contain a lot of code you will never need to use for your particular application.

A lot of people have done that. Maybe it might help drive some traffic to the sites you are working on.