I haven’t posted here too much lately, but what can I say? I don’t really need to!
Its just short of three years since I put my first domain online. Now, I did put some personal pages up on various third party platforms like Geocities and the local BBS way back in the day, but it was August 31, 2007 that I registered my own domain for the first time.
What skills prepared me for that leap?
Well… nothing in particular. I’m pretty good with the English language and solving problems in general, but I couldn’t even write an HTML link without having a cheat sheet open in another browser tab.
I had some vague notion that “more links” = “better search position” and I knew some places online where people could add their own links to pages. I knew Google had Adsense and that was supposed to be an easy and simple way to monetize your traffic.
Basically though, that was the extent of my preparation – and to be honest, I often feel like I still haven’t learned much beyond those basic concepts.
But that doesn’t really matter, because these days I’ve built up all the income I need to survive and I can spend the rest of my day doing whatever the heck it is I’d rather be doing.
Within about five months of starting my domains, I hit a big health problem. OK, so everyone gets the wisdom teeth out, but most people don’t have them impacted deep below the jaw bone. The surgery took 4-5 hours and I’m told that all my screaming unnerved the staff and the waiting patients alike, but it was the recovery process that really screwed up my day job.
For the severity of the surgery, the doctor had provided a narcotic prescription that kept me out of reality for at least another week. Unfortunately, that wasn’t nearly enough because lingering pain & exhaustion kept with me for another two months. While the job I had was flexible, it was getting the point where I was working just 15-20 hours a week and coming in at the oddest hours you can imagine. I might wake up at midnight and clock in at three – just to head home at 9 or 10 when the office was really filling up. Eventually, I’d have to choose between working through the pain and taking a huge risk with my small savings account.
So I did what any rebellious, short-sighted idiot would do: I quit!!!
Anyway, here is the big picture.
I really got started with the websites because I wanted a soapbox from which to shout my not-so-mainstream political ideas. My secondary ambition was to provide some no-nonsense financial guidance for students headed to college. There’s a lot of misinformation and profiteering in the higher education field, so I just wanted to share some of the ideas that got me to a degree without taking out any student loan debt.
This site, WebsiteBuilding.biz, was the third priority – and the original intent here was really just to create a journal of my web experiences in a way that I could direct some link juice toward the other domains.
I didn’t actually expect WebsiteBuilding.Biz to become a major contributor to my income in its own regard, but it became clear that hosting was the type of business that could boom in any economy – and the commissions are big chunks in the $50-$100 range. With one of those coming in every other day, I end up cashing the checks this domain earns to pay my share of the mortgage and go grocery shopping a couple of times. Oh yeah, and it turns out that the higher education niche is also a huge money-maker that easily pays for my cable & internet bill, as well as the rest of the grocery trips I need to make each month.
What was left? Oh yeah, there’s that political site I really really wanted to make successful. Until I realized there’s not actually any money in politics unless you’re corrupt and in office. I almost broke down – I almost gave up on that day that I hit 17,000 unique visitors. As ecstatic as I was to break the old shared hosting limits on Bluehost, it was fairly tragic to see I had only earned $8 from ad clicks. At that rate, I wasn’t going to get anywhere so I had to adjust my strategy and focus on the content that was bringing in real revenue. Social bookmarking success for sensational political content is a lot of fun, but it isn’t going to put food on the table.
There’s also the personal blog, but I haven’t really monetized that one at all other than installing site-wide links to some of my most profitable URLs.
So where am I today?
Well, today I got outside with the sunrise and spent two hours working in my garden. I’ve got tomatoes, cubanelle & cayenne peppers, watermelons, scallions, white onion, oregano, basil, and a couple of lettuce plants. The lettuce doesn’t seem to appreciate the Florida sun as much as the other crops, but they’re surviving… sort of.
I wrote a little bit about my tomatoes on the personal blog, and now I’m looking back and taking inventory on the status of my life thanks to my gamble on the website building biz.
Every once in a while, I do some contract work with that old employer – its not the most fun work but its meaningful and puts some extra money in my pocket for entertainment while working from home.
Now I do have to stop by here and a few other domains each day to delete the off-topic spam that ends up in the forums & bookmarking sites I run (see the content onslaught strategy guide). I also want to make sure that all the good comments do get posted (thanks Steve!)
Otherwise, I add some interesting web-related bookmarks when I see a bit story, and I don’t feel so much need to write these long 1,000 word posts about every new topic that pops up.
Once in a while though, I do feel that need – and I’ve got the platform ready to do it. In between the natural bursts of inspiration though, I’ve got to admit that its really nice to live without a boss or without any kind of pressure. So what are you waiting for? Maybe you’ve got a website already, but there’s no reason to stop there. For every thing you’re interested and active in, you should probably have your own domain for it. Ideally, you’ll even set it up on a different hosting provider or at least a unique IP address in order to maximize that link juice to your profit-centers.
Then, sit back, do what you love to do… and write about it every once in a while!