Letting Go

So, my collection of websites continues to shrink as I refuse to renew any that (1) aren’t earning enough to be profitable or (2) bore me. That said, I have purchased 5 new domain names this year in pursuit of my other business. So.

Soon, it will be time for a reorganization of epic proportions. I keep hanging on to the sites that are earning, even though the earnings are stagnant in the best cases, disappearing in the worst, now that I’m not putting any work into any of them.

I’ve moved on. It’s time I let a few things go. :)

My Obligation as a Writer

Hah! I start this off with a blatant misdirection because as a writer, I feel I have only one obligation. That obligation is to tell a story that means something, either to myself, or to those I want to read it.

Since no one is obligated to read my writings, I feel the same lack of obligation to make any adjustments to my story for any particular person.

A lot of people claim that if you want to publish your writings, you should pay for proofreading, cover creation, line-editing, and sometimes even more editing, but first I ask why?

And then I say, No.

Are artists obligated to have someone edit their art, adding splashes of color where maybe it needs a little something extra, or throwing on another daub of paint here or there? I don’t think so.

I’ll be honest here. I’m not that good with metaphor. That’s why I make it a point to avoid any kind of deliberate attempt at metaphors when I write.

But I can’t think of that many instances where people are sitting around telling an artist that if they don’t have the help of others, then they’re not doing their best work.

I can’t imagine writing as an interactive process, either with readers or editors. That’s not why or how I write. It really is all about me, until I’ve crafted something I want to share and then I personally feel a small obligation to make the story I wrote come across as cleanly and crisply as I imagined it in my head. So I reread, and I edit myself, but no one knows what I intended better than me, so having someone else do this stuff for me is not part of my process. I don’t want people telling me I’m not clear here or I need more description there. The story is what it is. The reader isn’t obligated to like it. The reader isn’t even obligated to read it.

Seriously, I never finish reading a story I don’t like, because I don’t have enough time in the day as it is.

When I get done with a story, I know it’s right for me when I find myself wanting to reread it, and when I do reread, I don’t find anything I don’t like. Boring parts? Don’t need to be there. Clanky sentences? Rewrote. Bad plotting? Trash it. The thing is, I’m telling a story. If it sucks, I know it. If it doesn’t, then maybe there’s someone out there who will enjoy it as much as I do.

I reread the stuff I really like. I can reread a good story within a day of my first read. And if I’m not finding myself tempted to reread my own stuff? I haven’t written a good story. Plain as that.

That’s my obligation as a writer. Admit when I haven’t written something worth rereading. For the rest, edit myself, proof myself, and take full ownership for everything in my story as my art.

Bummer.

Okay, I’m not usually one for strong language but it’s come to my attention that I totally effed up a few of my websites. Back when I thought websites were my ticket out of a JOB, I decided I should go all static on them, which was and still is a great thing. But no, it’s not a great thing because now I’m not pursuing a web empire with quite so much fervor and I only want to do updates when I have something I want to say, quickly. And static does not lend itself to quick little pithy updates.

Only problem is that with my newfound lack of attention to my websites, static is about the safest way to keep the sites. Any other software just makes them vulnerable to un-updated packages that will end up getting my sites hacked.

Bummer.

Gateway Issues

So, when you have router, modem, and ‘gateway’ issues, and you lose your internet for days on end, the downtime gives you plenty of thinking time. :) I’m not so sure I’m into all this cloud computing any longer, when the only things I could work on were my local copies. Don’t get me wrong, I do have local copies of almost everything. However, it just made me wonder at the value added by the cloud. For me? Personally?

Not as much as I’d thought.

I have my email set up as IMAP, and of course, when I create a draft it is supposed to save a copy to the server. Didn’t happen on more than one occasion as my ‘gateway’ issue cropped up in the middle of composing. So, lost emails. When I realized what was happening, I was able to save a local copy through cut-and-paste, but by then I’d already had to back out of the compose window on another, and when it happened again, invariably, I gave up on the email because it didn’t seem worth the effort.

I ‘ve already figured out alternatives for what I could have done, but honestly, I think I’m just going to go back to keeping more stuff on my computer and my backup hard-drives and less elsewhere.

I’m a bit of a privacy enthusiast, if you want to call it that, in that I prefer to keep as much of my life and the information about my life in my control, rather than in the control of others. Email, documents, etc., seem like the least I can control, because unfortunately unless you just never EVER visit a doctor or dentist or professional something you’ll end up with a heck of a lot of data on yourself completely out of your control.

One Project at a Time Might Be a Bad Idea

So, at and be. Just wondering which is appropriate to capitalize in a heading and which isn’t….

Didn’t really come up with an answer so time to move on.

Well, I decided to focus in on one thing, as I was reminded was a good way to finish things you want finished. The problem is the thing I want to finish is a bigger project and one from which I’m not going to make money.

So there’s an inherent problem in that this one project at a time thing is going to make me poor. So I’m rethinking how I want to apply this concept.

Maybe one project per area of life? This would seem to be the normal solution but normal doesn’t exactly fit the way my brain works.

The thing is this is really hard for me because when I focus in on something it becomes almost impossible for me to focus on anything else. I also lose enthusiasm for what I was working on when I switch my focus and often have a very hard time getting that enthusiasm back.

So, do I make a plan to see how long this should take and try to stay on track? Or if it looks like it’s going to take longer than it needs to, try to decide if I really need to be doing this in the first place?

Honestly, I need to find a way to focus on things in chunks and not have the whole switching back and forth issue to begin with, but that’s not worked yet. And I need to find a way to make my non-paying, desperately want to do anyway projects make me some money. :-o That would be the best solution.

Self Sabotage

This little video below is full of great advice. Although I am on a self-improvement book reading and video watching hiatus, I watched this anyway. Because, you know, I self-sabotage. A lot. :)

The only thing I disagreed with was the advice to proclaim your goal publicly. I read something a while back about how sometimes we get a dose of real satisfaction from broadcasting our goals that substitutes for the actual accomplishment of those goals. I saw myself in that and since then, I’ve been trying quite valiantly to keep my goals to myself.

The thing I most agreed with was the comment about change and suffering. I’ve always believed that epiphanies aren’t enough. Without real suffering of some kind, change is almost impossible. So the trick has been to try to find whatever it is that it’s going to take to change myself so I can stop repeating my mistakes.

Listening to (against my will): Good Luck Charlie

Monday Morning Update–Well, Crap. It Was Supposed to Be Morning Anyway, Now It’s 2:10 PM

So, today is the first day of an exciting time in my life. I’m about to tackle a topic on a website that’s near and dear to my heart and that has interested me since I was about 13 years old, and it’s going to make me a ton of money.

As if.

I’m about to get to work putting together some stuff that probably won’t earn me a dime and then what’ll I do when all my domains and hosting accounts come up for renewal?

Cry?

LOL.

The thing is, I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years when it comes to building websites. One thing I tried was running a site about something I loved doing in my personal time. I had a big, big site about this topic and it did okay. If I had only been spending 2 hours a week on it, it could have been seen as profitable. Since I was spending so much more time than that on it, it was instead seen, by me, as a big fat flop.

I wanted to parlay it into a career. Didn’t work.

Now I’m thinking about doing the same thing all over again, but with a different topic that I love.

I think this makes me crazy*.

*Legal disclaimer: This is not an actual statement on my mental health. Think of it as a metaphor. Noun: metaphor: 1. A figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote…

Sunday Morning Rambling About Some Dude’s Articles

I’ve read three posts by this dude (or dudette, because I haven’t read the about page yet, will do shortly) and I want to get something said before I forget what it is I want to say. His/her—okay, never mind, I feel compelled to read the about page now so time out…

OMG. That’s an awesome ‘about’ page. I know this already: it’s a guy, he’s four years younger than me, we both ran Windows 3.1. What I don’t know is if he’s single and honestly anyone who writes that well and engages readers so smoothly, probably isn’t. Dammit.

Okay—time to move on. :-o

Pixelrage posted "Business Without The Internet?" and although I totally see his point, for me, that’s not the point at all.

You see, I’m an employee, but I’m treated very much like a consultant and I have done some consulting work on the side a few times. I’m tired of it… so, so tired of it. I admit, though, that my current work on websites is more like that of a hobbyist than a professional (don’t tell the IRS though, they get picky about that stuff when you claim losses!). That’s not to say I don’t think of my websites as a business, because I do…I just don’t treat them that way because frankly that takes all the fun out of it. I have the kind of career where I can easily transition to my own business (professional services I won’t name because I’m not ready for my bosses to discover me here and realize I’m unhappy in my choice of career), but I don’t want to.

The silence I get from working at home, alone? That’s the sound of peace and contentment, and I admit it. You want a poster child for who this woman, author of Quiet, is talking about? That would be me. Running my own consulting or product business? Diametrically opposed to the things that drew me to the internet to begin with and not a road I want to go down.

My point is that I see why affiliate marketing is running into problems. The other 2 articles I read address the problems quite well when Pixelrage talks about the 2012 affiliate marketing apocalypse and how Google is against you if you have an affiliate site, particularly a storefront. The good news is that I’ve never done storefronts. They suck and I know they suck and Google’s dude has it right when he says they’re "…just an unnecessary step in the sales funnel." They ARE. Face it. That’s what stings, when you already know or suspect something and someone comes along and confirms it for you when you really just want to hear that you’re being silly and that of course your work is great…when it’s really not. I’ve had that happen a lot and it, too, sucks. But we all have to face it sometime. We’re often less stellar than we’d like to believe, and more ordinary than we ever want to imagine. The good news is it doesn’t matter. There’s still no one else who can live your life, and we each get to decide what we’re going to do a moment from now and even if the choice is terrible, or the consequences are disastrous, we can own that decision.

If brands are where it’s at, there’s still a chance to make a career out of something that doesn’t leave you holding an inventory of products and dealing with clients every day in your consulting business, or your lawn care business, or your sports memorabilia business.

There IS.

I’m not going to ramble about all that authority website crap that’s all over the internet these days, because the fact is, I feel like it’s stupid. You’re not an authority because you say you’re an authority. You’re an authority because other people say it. You need to be a destination, not a train depot. But you also need to have roads leading out to other interesting places, or you’re just a dead end. Get it?

This is going to be the difference between dead affiliate storefronts and actual internet businesses that don’t rely on Google to survive.

Pixelrage says it quite clearly when he says, "Become a Brand" and "This truly is the only way to stay alive these days: brands, as defined by search engines, are most likely websites that have real shopping carts and checkout systems. They supply products themselves, instead of shilling affiliate links to real storefronts" and I can’t disagree with the message, but I do disagree with the point. There are a lot of brands online, places I visit day in and day out, without any help from Google or any other search engine, that don’t sell their own product or service in the way I think he’s talking about, not the way a consultant sells a service. Their service is being a destination website. I don’t care about authority. I want to go somewhere to browse and hang out and waste what little free time I have. I tell my friends about these sites. I revisit when I want more information or another perspective or a few minutes to think about something besides the drudgery of my job.

Easy money days might be gone forever when it comes to internet businesses based on the affiliate model, but if I can build something that’s important because of what it is, not where it sits in Google’s search results, then I don’t know that I care. Work is only drudgery when you’re doing something you don’t want to be doing. Working hard for your money (thank you Donna Summer) doesn’t have to suck.

Disqus for Static Site Commenting

Although I personally hate(d) Disqus, as a user, I’m testing it on a website that I turned static.

The reason I hate hated it? Login/sign up requirements.

Why I want it anyway? Because some of my sites are just begging me to have some interaction on them, and the static HTML that I moved to doesn’t really let me do that easily. The sites would be so much more fun to run with other people commenting occasionally! I thought about setting up a comment form on each page I want comments enabled on and have visitors email me their comments. Since I moderate everything anyway, no one will notice. But what if things take off and I don’t want to moderate? Or I decide discussion is being stifled by not having more real-time comments?

I’ve since discovered that site owners set the requirement to login to Disqus or not, so maybe I don’t hate it as much as I just hate the site owners who make it so that only people who want to actually sign up with Disqus can comment. Oh yeah.

I don’t like having everything I do online being all linked up. It creates the creepy feeling of being followed around and spied upon and I already have enough of that paranoia, thank you very much!

The requirement for an email address is still there, and I had that with WordPress anyway, so that’s no biggie. I hadn’t realized though, that I could set this up as not requiring actual Disqus membership and that’s really nice! This might be just what I want.

I’m not that interested in the content from commenters showing up on my pages for search engines (it won’t, because you use a javascript code with the universal setup that works with static html sites) but I’m very interested in having some interaction with visitors on certain of my sites…

The only thing left to decide is whether or not to have multiple accounts myself. I set this one up with an admin user(name) that matches the site and realized quite quickly that that’s going to be awkward to reuse on another site. ;-)

Static Site Hell

I am in static site hell.

So, I got rid of WordPress on so many sites I can’t even count them… I also got rid of a lot of sites, period. Although I do have wide interests and an amazing capacity for picking up domains that I find appealing, I’ve decided I’ll have to forego that in the future. Life is WAY too short to spend it buying domains I’ll never develop. A (not so) short while ago, I bought my last domain for a (long) while.

Getting rid of WordPress isn’t a bad thing IMO. The bad thing is that I actually like discussion and not having WordPress means I have no commenting system on those sites now. Some of them don’t need commenting and that’s great. But some of them are definitely sites I run because I love the topics and those sites? They need commenting because without commenting I feel like I’m missing a huge opportunity to have fun with the sites!

And then there’s the updating. This is a mental block that I’m just going to have to overcome. The fact is, I’ve done the time studies to prove that I can update a static site just as fast as I can update a WordPress run site. Sure, the front-end effort is more time efficient in WordPress when I have a super-short post I want online. But it evens out when the posts get longer and the number of new images increases. I can whip out a formatted block of HTML just as fast as I can type in Word (or OpenOffice Writer when I’m stuck with it instead, no offense to Ooo fans everywhere, because it is a great free program, but dammit, I LIKE Microsoft Word). And when it gets complicated? Handcoded HMTL is unbeatable for customizing on a page by page basis and I can create a complex mini-site within a site with 10% of the effort and time I spend in WordPress trying to get it to do what I want. And I do have sites like that, where I want each section to be unique and have very little use for cookie-cutter pages.

But the problem is that even though I know this, it still feels like more of a chore to add a new article or page and I’ve really let that interfere with my site updating!

Then there’s another issue. When I converted, I kept all the old content, including tag and category pages. I can’t decide if I want to continue to update these (and even expand where appropriate) or just leave them as is and not add the new content to them (seems like a sure way to make the site look out-of-date even when it’s not), or delete them as I decide I don’t need them and convert relevant, useful tags and categories into actual subsections of the site(s). Guh. Over-categorizing just seems like a sure way to end up with a mess.

Maybe I’ll get this all straightened out soon. If not, I’ll just go back to worrying about my spy and not doing anything… ;-)