Building Shepherd

By Ben Fox

Follow along as I build the Shepherd book discovery platform (updates every 2 weeks).

Follow along as I build the Shepherd book discovery platform (updates every 2 weeks).

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Building Shepherd - Launched 3 book pages & more! 🥳

On November 15th, we launched the following... Individual book pagesI wanted to create a page that celebrates each book recommended on Shepherd. I wanted to make it unique and focus on why our community thinks you should read that book. Here is the result... …


Building Shepherd - Back from vacation, book marketing podcast, and more!

I biked 1,000km along the Via Francigena route in Italy and had a blast.I read 25 books, ate a wide array of amazing food, and enjoyed an utterly beautiful countryside. It was a really nice mental reset. The weather was insane. It was warm and sunny, and I on…


Building Shepherd - Podcast, filters, and vacation :)

We have much better coverage of books, authors, and topics with this growth. And that means happy readers! It also puts us in a good spot for our upcoming launch of genre and age pages since we now have ~30,000 recommended books in the system.


Building Shepherd - The pain of implementing genres :)

The last 2 weeks have been devoted to 3 things:Nail down the next batch of work. Work on the genre and age specs. Launching a members program!


Building Shepherd - Timeline worries, ads, and age data...

Things are going well, and growth for August was fantastic! Overall traffic was up 19% month over month, and traffic from Google was up 29%. I hope that continues as we build more great features for readers and authors :)!!!


Building Shepherd - New rec system + bookshelves UX is out!

The last two weeks were busy!


Building Shepherd - Preview the new rec system + ads

The last two weeks were rewarding!We finished July with 128,000 visitors. That is a 24% increase over June. It is satisfying to see the work I’ve been doing over the last four months start to accelerate growth. We also had an excellent mention in Jane Friedma…


Building Shepherd - Individual book pages and "books like" feature

It has been a fantastic two weeks. We are seeing significant gains in traffic, and it is great to see all the hard work I put in over the last five months start accelerating growth.


Building Shepherd - 2 new ways we will help authors!

I took the week of June 27th off, so this update covers the last week and is a little abbreviated.


Building Shepherd - Preview 2 *new* pages coming in Q3 2022...

Toward the end of Q3, I will be adding 2 new pages to the website. A "book celebration" page and a "books like" page. What are they for?The purpose of the "book celebration" page" is to create a dedicated page for any book recommended in our system and show w…


Building Shepherd - Updated topic system is live!

The developer switched the updated topic engine on Tuesday and we crashed the last of the severe bugs yesterday (before he heads out on vacation for a month). What does this update do?Improve the accuracy of the system. Add data from the Library of Congress.T…


Building Shepherd - Preview the new rec system and bookshelf UX!

I took Thursday/Friday/Monday to do a biking trip and it was a great break. I am going to take a few more of those in June. What have I been working on? The designer and I finalized the design of the new recommendation system that is coming to the book list p…


Building Shepherd - Catching up, woohoo!!!

I am finally catching up on everything, and it feels good!!!! What stuff? I published 300+ bookshelves and reviewed another 500 that were not quite ready to be published. Once we ship the huge topic engine update in early June I will finish publishing everyth…


Building Shepherd - Feedback on new features?

I set up a group here for readers and authors to join if they want to give me feedback on new features as I build them. How much time does it take?Just 10 to 15 minutes every 2 months. There are rare situations where it might be longer, but you would just ign…


Shepherd - Our 1 year anniversary!!! Woohoo!

...working very hard to finish editing and setting up 409 book lists for our April 19th launch. That meant setting up 2,305 books and 2,452 author profiles. It was a LOT of data entry and a lot of late nights. The website was officially launched on April 19th…


Building Shepherd - 3,799 pages + preview updates to the bookshelf and other pages.

As of today, we have published 3,799 book recommendation lists and have ~100 to be published on Monday. Plus...102 lists are being reviewed and tweaked by authors.376 lists are pending review/editing by our editor. 36 are waiting on a missing piece of info fr…


Building Shepherd - Added breadcrumbs and random cleanup.

The last 8 weeks have been intense. Between traveling, vetting places we might live, and the bumps in the road that Shepherd hit, I am exhausted. Things are finally starting to calm down which feels better. I am going to work fewer hours in April to get some …


Building Shepherd - Book API results & what comes next...

A lot! Serita put together a fantastic doc around editorial guidelines and it feels good to have more of that written down. I am very proud of the quality of our recommendations and Serita is doing great work there!I spent a lot of time improving how our syst…


Building Shepherd - Google traffic, conversion rates, and more.

I am 100% focused on growing traffic from Google in this initial stage of the project and growth has been amazing until February. Our month-over-month growth has generally been around 48% to 70%, but February was only 11%. Why did growth slow down? Once I add…


Building Shepherd - Refined 2022 plans...

I've spent the last 2 weeks questioning my 2022 plans and making sure I am working on the right things given the ambitious traffic goals I have for 2022. I received some good advice from a few individuals as well.My goal this year is to hit 20,000 unique visi…