Aha People: Alex Ionescu, founder, CrazyLeafDesign

And we have another Aha personality with us today: Alex from CrazyLeafDesign. He is a dentist by profession but many of you may know him as an internet person and the face behind a known design blog today. Read further to know him closely as he shares his journey towards building a brand that started as a hobby.

1. Alex, tell us about your yourself. What made you name it CrazyLeaf Design (CLD) and what remains the core of the blog amidst pool of design blogs.

Well, this might come as a bit of a surprise … I’m actually a doctor of dental medicine, a dentist to put it shortly. I started designing in 2000 as a hobby, and it lasted to this day. I started CrazyLeaf Design in 2006, with my associate, Bogdan as a means to support ourselves through college. The name (Crazyleaf Design) came after a very long brainstorming session. I had about 10 other possible names and when I mentioned “Crazyleaf” to my associate, we instantly knew this was it.

alex crazy leaf founder

2. Where did you get the idea to create CrazyLeaf Design Blog? What sites did you use for inspiration when building the site?

At first we had the design firm, Crazyleaf Design. I had a blog before, called Alex Design, and Crazyleaf Design Blog was a natural transition. We used WordPress from the beginning because it was so simple to use and get our message out there. I can’t say I was inspired by a certain blog, but I remember following DevLounge daily. There weren’t all that many design blogs back in 2006. Not even Smashing Magazine was around.

3. What kind of articles do you think perform well i.e. tutorials, resource article, ebooks or any other?

In my experience the best performing articles are resource lists. This type of article was pioneered by Smashing Magazine and it is still very popular nowadays. There a lot of blogs that publish exclusively these kinds of articles and have made small advertising fortunes from them. Our best performing article is a list article (over 1 million visitors)

4.What is your experience when it comes to guest blogging? Have Crazyleafdesign done any guest posts?

We had quite a few guest authors over the years and our experience with this was mostly positive. We tried to select the topics we thought might be of interest to our readers. The only problem we had is that some guest authors don’t respect our article submission guidelines and this is time consuming both for us and for them.

5. Was there one moment that helped kickstart it? List out the top 5 best performing articles at CLD.

I can’t say we took advantage of a certain moment in time. There weren’t all that many design blogs in 2006 and that was an advantage for us.

Our top 5 articles are:

Free Vector Downloads – The largest collection of free vectors ever assembled

30 cool wallpapers for designers

40 most beautiful and inspirational website designs of 2008

Free Christmas Vectors

35 cool and inspirational business card designs

6. How effective is SEO in today’s changing world of algorithms. Share with us link building techniques you practice over CLD.

We are working in a world where Google is the ultimate force and can make or break a website. We have been hit over the years by these algorithms. Actually we are passing through a hit right now, but, you know, you have to hang on in there, do the best you can and hope you will get out of this ok. SEO is hugely important for any blog and if i were to give an advice to someone that would be to focus on providing good content, and other things will follow.

7. Is the site still growing now, could you give us any numbers behind it?

As I said we are not doing this full time, just as a hobby. The website is not growing at this point. It’s in an equilibrium state, traffic-wise. Some numbers: we get around 150.000 visitors per month, considering we are being hit full- on by the latest Google algorithm changes. All our network of websites gets over 500.000 visitors per month. Most visitors we had in a day on Crazyleaf Design Blog was about 50.000 (viral content does that). The most page rank we had was 5. We have over 1000 published articles that brought over 10 million visitors.

8. What are your favourite plugins?

My favorite plugin would have to be W3 Total Cache. We are using it with a content delivery network (MaxCDN) that we strongly recommend after about 100.000 visitors / month. Other than this, I like Akismet  (over time it caught over 150.000 spam comments) and WordPress SEO, by Yoast.

9. Name 5 web designers that you follow and respect for their work.

Here are those known names:

David Airey

Chris Spooner

Nick La

Larissa Meek   and

Davide Bianca from Saizen Media

10.Which 5 web design blogs, graphic design blogs and design resources sites you would recommend to someone interested in learning design?

I would recommend these :

Smashing Magazine

Codrops

Abduzeedo

Web Designer Depot

Web Design Ledger

 

11.List out any 5 random blogs from which you gain web inspiration.

5 inspiration websites, hmm, that’s a tough one. I would have to say :

Abduzeedo 

Behance Network

Vandelay Design Blog

Loviv

Dribbble

12.What is total number of daily visitors you witness at CLD? How do you generate traffic to your blogs? Which social media channels drive visible traffic to your blog?

A: We get around 5000 daily visitors on Crazyleaf Design. Most of these come from search engines (especially Google). For promotion we use StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, The Web Blend and our own design social media website, zaBox. In my experience the best social media traffic source is StumbleUpon.

13.How do you find Ahadaily? Suggest us a topic you would like us to post at Ahadaily.

Ahadaily seems like a good start. You should keep it up in the same direction and big rewards will follow. I would like to see some more photography inspiration (for example wedding photography would be something I haven’t seen all that much) and freebies collections.

14.What advise could you give me when it comes to making ahadaily a better place?

If there is an advice I can give to anyone is that you should provide quality content, and good things will follow.

15. Lastly, whom do you want us to interview next and why do you think he deserves to be amongst “Aha People”? (Name any one or may be two).

You should be interviewing David Airey or Davide Bianca. They’re interesting people with a lot of experience.

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