This latest client spotlight features Mickey Richardson of Share My Guitar, a community for musicians. Started as a blog for guitar enthusiasts, Mickey transformed Share My Guitar with SocialEngine into an active community for musicians to socialize and share.
SocialEngine: What inspired you to create a community for musicians?
Mickey Richardson: I took up playing guitar and wanted to connect online with other musicians so I could learn more about the instrument and how to play. I decided to start a blog and that morphed into sharemyguitar.com.
SE: Did you initially begin with SE3?
Mickey: As a matter of fact I did! It was back in 2009 when I began looking around for the right software. I even tried to integrate a few other social network platforms before finding SocialEngine. Luckily I found SocialEngine early in the design process and it was exactly what I had been looking for.
SE: How do members typically participate, and what do they love about your community?
Mickey: Our members post a wide variety of cool and relevant posts in the form of original videos, music and tons of photos. Everything posted on SMG can be viewed or listened to by other members. It can also be liked, reviewed and commented on. The ability to interact and suggest content to friends really helps keep people involved and coming back for more.
SE: Are members mostly individuals or do whole bands join up? About how many members do you have?
Mickey: It’s mostly individual members right now, but we do get bands on SMG too. Right now we are nearing 9,000 members with new members joining everyday!
SE: Do you use add-ons and have you worked with any third-party developers?
Mickey: Yes we definitely utilize many third party plugins. We have tried a ton of them by the way and we have found that certain plugins work best for our needs. With that, some plugins we tested would seem to slow down the website while others would not. It has taken a lot of trial and error in finding the right balance for our website needs.
SE: How did you approach design and development?
Mickey: It started with a basic idea. Then I hired a web developer who specialized in SocialEngine to help integrate the ideas I had with SocialEngine software. I used custom code right from the start. This made it more difficult and costly to get things going, but it also allowed us to brand our website our own way and match our blog.
SE: You’ve said you’ve solved the common speed issues people generally complain about, what advice can you share with SocialEngine users who wish to increase performance and speed?
Mickey: Yes. Now I would first make the disclaimer that SocialEngine code is resource intensive and I understand that SE developers are working on improvements to the speed/loading of the software and that is something that everyone is excited about. However if you login to SMG, you will notice that the pages load quickly. We experienced super slow loading in the past. So what did we do to fix this? The most important thing I could recommend is to use a dedicated server with adequate memory. However, the major improvements we made to really speed up the site was to use APC cache, CDN and a dedicated solid-state hard drive for MySQL.
SE: Any other tips for those of us just getting started?
Mickey: I would suggest that you find a nice theme that you like rather than go for a custom designed theme. We had a lot of costs, downtime and other compatibility issues with third party plugins simply because we wanted to build our own theme. But there are a ton of excellent themes available for SE, so look around and you will probably find one you like and it will probably save you a lot of time, money and stress!
SE: How would you describe your experience of creating ShareMyGuitar with SocialEngine?
Mickey: Creating SMG with SocialEngine has been an awesome experience. SocialEngine has allowed us to create a killer community, just for musicians. We receive feedback all the time from our members about how much they enjoy SMG and that is a direct reflection on the software that SE has created. Along with our incredible core group of website members, who are on the site everyday, a bunch of private developers who we have hired over the years (and some really long nights)…. SMG wouldn’t exist if not for the software SocialEngine has built, and we are extremely thankful to everyone involved in helping to make ShareMyGuitar.com what it has become today. I look forward to what the future has to bring for SMG and for all of us who use SocialEngine. It just keeps getting better and better. Cheers!
SE: Thanks, Mickey!