Unseen Japan Site Construction

After a long hiatus, I’m thinking about starting up a blog again, but I’m no longer familiar with the various tools. Unseen Japan sees to be well structured, easy to navigate and view, and stable. Would the hosts be willing to identify the various tools that were used to build the site? For example, what hosting options did you consider and ultimately select? What Wordpress plugins do you use, and which ones did you reject? What third-party sites did you link in (like your Patreon and Discourse connections)? Template choices for the look and feel of the site? Sources for content graphics?

I’m not involved with the site, but the base theme is Bam Pro and it’s hosted on Google Cloud. The sources for the content graphics are indicated individually.

Indirectly :slight_smile: I use Kinsta, which uses a combo of Google Cloud and AWS.

And yes - the BAM Pro template but I also have created my own child theme to override some of BAM Pro’s behavior. The formatting of header images w/ the excerpt and the picture source attribution on single posts, e.g., is a child theme customization.

Here’s a list of what I use. Keep in mind I’m not just casually blogging but supporting a platform of 10+ writers that I hope to scale out into a larger operation in the future. So some (a lot?) of this might be overkill.

External services used include:

  • Discourse, obviously :slight_smile:
  • Pixta for most stock images. I chose Pixta because it’s a Japanese company and most of their stock features Japanese models.
  • Shutterstock. Been using this for images I can’t get on Pixta (like some pictures of famous Japanese people, locations in Japan that Pixta doesn’t feature, etc.). I also added a stock footage subscription this week in order to help us add more flare to vids on your YouTube channel, which we’re spending more time on cultivating recently.
  • Occasionally I’ve bought image packs from Getty as well. I may not use them any more until our income grows, however, as they’re soooo bloody expensive. But they feature images from Kyodo, Asahi and others of pretty much every aspect of Japan and Japanese news - stuff you really can’t get elsewhere.
  • AFP. We license their Japan news content from them. This rounds out our publishing schedule, helps with backlinking, and gives us authority news content we can reference in other articles.

Some of the plug-ins I use for WordPress:

  • Yoast SEO plugin. Useful for keyword tuning of articles as well as creating a baseline for all of our authors to write to with its automated Readability metrics. - Nelio Content. Social media sharing + automated social re-sharing of evergreen back catalog content. A subscription plug-in but worth its weight in gold in terms of generating social media traffic.
  • Autoptimize. Minification and code redundancy elimination. Helps with site speed metrics.
  • Embedly for fancy, Medium-style URL embeds.
  • Patreon WordPress. If your want more info on this, I recently wrote a piece for Blog Herald explaining how I implement it.

Hope that helps.


Thank you so much, Jay, for the great summary. I’ll check into each of the features / plugins / services you mentioned. I used have a templated, self-hosted WordPress site, and I also wanted to expand it with multiple authors and the works. But life has a way of fiddling with the best of plans. Hopefully this time it will work out better.

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