Most of the scummy “make money systems” out there will promise you that owning and operating your own website is the key to an automated income and a life of leisure. Well, there might be some truth to the increase in leisure time available, but your websites definitely won’t run on their own forever. Even if the software and hosting is stable and paid through the next few decades to come, inactivity is the quickest way to lose traffic and revenue.
I just got back from a quarter-year hiatus from my websites, and suffice it to say that some significantly annoying issues popped up in my absence. Primary among these is spam – enough spam to seriously impact server performance on my VPS. While the filtering plugins I had were enough to stop the spam from getting published, the hundreds of thousands of rows being stored in the SQL files was creating huge spikes for the web server. Load times were up about three or four times what they had been when the sites were last optimized in phpmyadmin.
Between the slow load times and lack of updates, Google search ranks also seemed to take a hit. The cache for the homepages of my domains are all showing their most recent updates as being from March and May. I mean, what kind of website doesn’t update or add content for three to five months? One that is increasingly irrelevant to the search engines and advertisers!
Of course, the temptation to let the sites run on auto-pilot is a pretty natural danger to anyone operating a website. Your schedule isn’t demanding like a typical 9-5 office job, because you can let some days and even weeks go without bothering to show up – especially if you’ve got some fresh content queued up to auto-publish in the meantime. Most employers won’t be so forgiving, and most paychecks don’t slowly dwindle over the course of a few months after you’ve stopped working. So it’s pretty easy to take that extra bit of slack way too far.
Is there a way to fight the impulse? Probably, but I don’t seem to be doing as well with that as I did. One reason is because I have the option of working for an awesome contracting gig, and the effort that goes in to publishing online is never actually guaranteed to return anything. It seems to if you’re working smart and hard enough, but there are some projects that soaked up some time without ever really earning a dime. There’s a whole lot of risk to embrace, and self-motivation to rely on, but I guess the rewards are good enough that I want to keep coming back after all!