Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Back to the grindstone - website optimization..

You may ask what is website optimization and why do I need it? Website optimization is the process of making a website search engine friendly and hopefully brings it to the top of the list during a search. Sometimes called SEO (search engine optimization), it is a necessary step for any successful webmaster. There are many companies on the internet (I know because they spam me) that promise to make your website #1 on a Google search for a fee. They promise it can be done in a week! This is just plain bullcrap. You can optimize your website yourself, but be patient, the wheels of progress turn very slow. You may not reach #1 on a search, but you will have a definite advantage over websites that don't optimize. The following is the tried and true HTML method.

Step 1. To make a long complicated story short and simple, a website page is broken up into 2 parts, the and the . The body section is what is actually seen by the visitor. The head section content is not seenby the visitor. But it contains 3 valuable tools for website optimization. They are called "Meta Tags", and are the "Title", "Description" and Keywords" You can only create, install and modify your meta tages if you have access to the HTML code in your website's text editor. You need to do every page of your website, and costumize it to be topic specific for each page. The "title" should contain the name or title of your website and a REALLY brief goal of your website. The "description" should be approximately 2 sentences and contain a more detailed summary and goal of your website. The "keywords" should be a list of words and 2-3 word phrases separated by commas. You want to use words that would be used in a search to find your website in a Google search. You also need to use words that are found in the visible text in the body section of your web page. You can use a tool that creates your meta tages for you for free by just filling in a form, then copying the results and pasting them in the head section of your web page. The tool can be found HERE.

Step 2. The actual visual content of your web page should contain a good amount of text. Try to implement as many of the keywords you used in your "keywords" in your meta tags. When Google indexes youe website, it will compare the visual text to the keywords and also evaluate the text to see if it is relevant to your site's topic. There is no real "correct" way to do it, but like I said before, be patient. Set your site up to the best of your ability, then in a month or so, do a few searches on Google that would be relevant to your site. If you have a really competitive site topic, it may take several months to even appear on a search. If you do find your site, but on the 40th page, you could make a few changes (back up your work in case you lose ground). It may take up to a year to reach a consistent level.

Step 3. Another step that used to be way more important than it is now is getting people to link to your website. This is called a "backlink". The most valuable backlink is someone linking to your site without you linking to their site. This is called a "1-way link". The more links that are pointed to your website makes your website appear to be more popular and is supposed to help you in search engine listings when all things are considered. There are many ways of getting backlinks, but the most efficient way is to search for websites thate are similar in content to your's and contact the webmaster. Linking etiquette will have you link to them first, send them an email with the location of their link, and include your information for linking back. If they don't answer or refuse, just remove their link.

Another good way of getting backlinks is to find discussion groups, boards and forums that are related to your website. Contribute a bit of intelligent text and leave a link to your site. Also guestbooks are good to leave a link, and it helps to compliment the websmaster if you don't want to be deleted. And the new kid on the block for creating back links is blogging. Your archived pages are all listed on search engines one way or the other. So what better blog is there than a Google blog? ;-) There are link building programs and websites to try and automate the process, but I have had very little luck with them.

Backlinks used to weigh a lot more heavily in search enging ranking, but in the last year they seem to have less of an impact. I think it has to to with what is known as "Link Farms". A lot of companies and websites (mostly based in India) created thousands of websites that have no other purpose that to create 1-way backlinks for paying customers. Google is catching on to them and participating websites can drop right off the list with no warning.

In summary, create a site with good useful content and rub your lucky rabbit's foot.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This pisses me off too.

First let me clarify that I am in favor of public assistance for those who truly need it. But the idea has gotten truly out of hand. The welfare system is rewarding and actually encouraging people to be non-productive. The more babies a mother has, the more money she gets monthly and the more tax deductions she has at the end of the year. With the cost of daycare, it is a vicious cycle. She cannot afford to go out and get a job, but with the rising cost of living, she needs more money as the children get older. The system is set up for abuse.

To take it one step further, since she has all that extra time at home (probably with the deadbeat dad), she has more time to have sex. After all sex is free and what else do they have to do? So the productive ones like us work our asses off all day to make ends meet are too damn tired to make babies when we get home. Plus we see the bigger picture, if we can barely afford to live within our budget, how can we afford another mouth to feed? And our budget is growing ever smaller from taxation to fund more public assistance programs. So looking at it from a pessimistic point of view, civilization as we know it is doomed. Just for the plain fact that in a short time, the productive will be outnumbered.

My solution: every able body on public assistance will have to spend time at the landfill. Create an assembly line where the trash is dumped on a slow moving conveyor belt. Each person will have the duty of pulling out a specific material, like newspaper, orange plastic, tin foil, you get the idea. Give bonuses to those that show promise and move them to a more profitable recyclable. Promote those who show initiative to supervise the others. Provide the daycare and staff it by those capable. Do this with RESPECT and not a punishment. Create a positive attitude, as a majority of people WANT to be productive, they are just in a hole they can't get out of. As a byproduct, the landfills could cut their space needed by 50%? And the positive publicity for the landfill and the city would be enormous.

I do not say this from a point of view that I am better that these people. I would be the first to volunteer to do my time on the line. There probably woud be others that would volunteer to do the same. It may not even save any money in the short term, because they would all be paid what they were being paid before, but this would bring people together to network and come up with ideas of their own. I truly believe it would be self perpetuating. After all "green" is the new catchword.

Now I know the nay-sayers are going to say "what about liability"? Well if they are on public assistance, we are paying the medical bills any way. right? Or we could all just stay home and make money on the internet ...

Friday, September 26, 2008

This pisses me off...

Daylight Savings Time. Who do we think we are that we can just pass a bill to say what time it is? I lived in Indiana and for about 40 years we did not have daylight savings time. Everything ran smooth and you could count on the constant of time to never change. You could welcome the earlier sunrises of spring to bring us out of the depths of an Indiana winter. Television shows were on at the same time all year.

Then our Governer Mitch Daniels in 2005 would have you believe our state is on the verge of anarchy with civilization collapsing because we are not aligned chronologically with Chicago to the west or Cleveland to the east. Of course we couldn't decide which city we should align with so most of the state went one way and some went the other way, with some counties changing their minds at the last moment. So twice a year we change our clocks to supposedly be able to have financial transactions with like timed cities. This is to save the state of Indiana tons of money.

Here is the main reason it pisses me off. I used to be able to ride my bicycle to work from May to September. Now it is too freaking dark in the morning to commute on a bicycle safely and it cuts 2 months off my ride time. I would normally save $4 a day every day I rode to work, so 60 days X $4 is $240. Not to mention the exercise I am not getting. Plus I have to have the lights on in the morning to get ready to work. You can see where I am going with this.

And now, the state of Indiana has extended DST into November. So if you throw in the safety factor of kids having to get on the bus in the dark. The cost of businesses having to turn on the lights for that hour in the morning, I don't see how this could possibly be saving money for Indiana. This is just stupid, It reminds me of when I first moved to Texas in 1981. I was furnishing my apartment and went to Kmart to buy a shower curtain on a Sunday. I carried it to the checkout and was told I could not buy it on Sunday because of the Blue Law. They named off a bunch of seemingly unrelated things that could not be purchased on Sunday. However the pawn shops were open and I could by a machine gun with no waiting. The Blue Law was repealed (after I moved back to Indiana) and Texas realized how outdated the law was and we moved on with our lives.

This is what Indiana should do with Daylight Savings Time. Admit your mistake Mitch, repeal DST and maybe you will get re-elected. Or maybe Jill Long-Thompson should campaign on that platform... I'll vote for her then. Maybe we could form a focus group with a catchy acronym like ReTArDS (Repeal The ARchaic Daylight Savings). Abunch of us with focus group t-shirts lobbying should get the job done...

While I was telling you about Texas, I remembered an experience I had at an Arby's restaurant in Garland outside Dallas. Me and a friend had sat down to eat there and talk. They had drink refills for 25 cents, and at that time the Texas state sales tax was 5%. So I took our cups to the counter and asked for 2 refills. The kid at the counter asked for 53 cents. So I asked what was the sales tax on 25 cents and he said 1 penny. So I told him I wanted to pay for them seperately; 26 cents x 2 or 52 cents. He sid I could not do that, so I told hime I changed my mind, I just wanted 1 refill. He gave me 1 refill for 26 cents. I then told him now I wanted another one. He refused to give me one and said he was going to get his manager. I asked him if the Texas sales tax was 5%, then why isn't it broken up 20, 40, 60, 80, 1 dollar? So the sales tax on on 50 cents would be 2 cents. Evidently there was some sneaky psychology going on at the treasury department. Well the manager came out and told the kid to give me my sodas, and I could pay for them any way I pleased. The manager smiled, and I told him if I was manager, I would be looking at the register tapes, changing all the 53's to 2 26's and putting a penny in a jar. He laughed. Now I'm sure there are going to be 2 schools of thought out there reading this. Kudos to the ones that share my triviality.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All caught up..

Well we are almost caught up to my everyday life. I currently maintain 15 websites and my earnings are almost enough to live on, but not quite enough for me to retire from my day job. I switched the original content of jimmohr.com to gaming, and bought several more gaming related websites. The reason I have built so many sites around computer games is that I have a captive audience. While the visitor is playing a game on my site, they usually stay on the page for the duration of the game. I surround the game with a banner or text link or two and the visitor cannot help be exposed to your revenue generating ads. Another advantage of building a gaming website, is once you have the website done, it really does not need to be updated. This is a big problem with websites that offer current information. It is very time consuming updating multiple pages. Also if you operate a Big Fish gaming site (which is free) you earn up to 40% of any revenue generated from game sales!

A common misconception is that webmasters make money when a visitor comes to their website. This is not true, a visitor must do something when they get there. The way I make money is when someone downloads a free screensaver. Several companies pay $1 (or so) for a download that you refer. Several companies also offer from $.25 to $5 for every free website that is built from your referral. There also generous payouts if you refer someone to sign up for paid web hosting. For example, if someone pays for 1 month (approximately $10) and signs up for Yahoo web hosting, Yahoo gives you $60! There are dozens of web hosting companies that pay as much or more for referrals! You an also make some good money if someone purchases an item from your referral though this is actually the hardest way to make money. These methods and more can be implemented by joining affiliate programs. Several websites like Commission Junction or PepperJam represent hundreds of companies that NEED you to run their campaigns. You need to have a website with some useful content before you apply for an affiliate program as they will look at your website to make sure you are ready. A lot of affiliates will also not accept a website built on a free webhost.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The more the merrier...

Well if 2 websites can make $100 a month, then 4 websites could make $200 a month? And you also hear of people selling domain names for an outrageous profit, so getting a couple more domain names seemed like the logical next step. I spent a few days just seeing what website related domain names were available and settled on WebsiteFreebies.net and free-templates.org. I wanted websitefreebies.net because I wanted to develop a website similar to buildfree.org only with emphasis on the cool free add-ons and widgets you can put on a free website. I still promoted free webhosting, but I concentrated on my 6-7 favorite free hosts. WebsiteFreebies.net also reflected a bit of what I had learned in the last few months. I was learning a little more HTML and the benefit of using tables and cells in the design.

I chose free-templates.org because every attempt I tried to use a free stock web page template was a failure. They want you to download everything to your computer, then edit sections with a photo editing program. You have to do this to add your logo and to personalize the photos and images embedded in the template. Every time I did this, the template never looked right or was distorted. The lines never lined up and it was totally distracting. It was hard enought to come up with web page content, and fighting the configuration of a template just plain sucked. Well with my increased knowledge of HTML and tables and cells, it was just a matter of putting tables inside tables to create a template. I will be honest with you though, I can't code by hand. It was all done using the Microsoft FrontPage wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) editor. All you have to do, is click on the page, choose "insert table" and wala! It took some practice, but I turned out 35 or so cool free templates. I decided to just give them away, free as long as the end user left a link back to free-templates.org on the page. This causes a kind of viral visitor traffic system that works out real nice. The templates for beginners contain no images, so you can just copy the code and paste it in a text editor and edit away. For someone that wants a background image, there are several free templates that that allow an easy way to use a single image. I recently added a set of advanced templates that look really professional, yet are easy to use and edit. (just look for the "advanced" section at http://free-templates.org/).

I would have had a 3rd domain but I learned a hard lesson. I got an email from a fine gentleman from England who claimed he was part owner of a company that offered web hosting. He was inquiring on what it would cost to buy a small text link on buildfree.org, and I think he did even pay for a couple months. What he wanted to do was build up a java script section on his website. Java script is just a short bit of HTML code that has all kind of applications to do things with a web page. It is used to embed games, create calculators, change the look of a webpage and tons more. Anyhow, he said if I helped build up his java script section, he would give me a domain name and hosting for free. It would only involve me copying and pasting some of the scripts that are listed for free elsewhere, so I jumped on the deal. I chose the domain name webfreebies.org and started working on that site as well as his script. All was well, but in about 6 months, I got an email from his billing department saying I owed money to keep the site. When I explained to them the deal I had made, they said the guy I had talked to was out fighting a war somewhere. I did not have administrative control over the domain name, and it didn't seem like they wanted to give it to me even if I paid up, so I bit my tongue and lost the domain name. Another lesson from the school of hard knocks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Just like clockwork.. not

Buildfree.org actually went together quicker and easier than expected. It seems I spent so much time building free websites myself, that I had a wealth of information tucked away. It was kind of like writing this blog, once I got going, the site kind of built itself. Buildfree.org also turned out to be a website in the right place at the right time. It seems that others were going through the same frustration I was. They were looking for a no frills website that helped them build a free website, period. Within 6 months, buildfree.org was getting 600 visitors a day. The site was living proof that a regular guy with no computer skills or website training can develop a succesful website. I started putting a few of my money-making affiliate programs on the pages, and now buildfree.org was on the gravy train!

I am going to jump ahead as the next year or so was for the most part uninteresting. I am not going to say it was uneventful though, as being new at web building, things happened I was not expecting. I can only say that ther are a lot of small things that caused day-to-day stress. I had an issue with web.com, where they claimed I was using 30 gig of bandwith a month all of a sudden. That would be like getting 100,000 hits a day for as small as my site was. I was on the phone about every day for a week and had to pay approximately $50 in penalties just to keep my sites live. The all of a sudden it just quit, no explanation, no refunds, strike one. Then I started having a problem publishing my sites; everything would go ok until the very end of the publishing process, the it would just keep saying "publishing website" and the scrool bars would take 2-3 minutes to publish. Web.com said it was because of my FrontPage - the same program I had been using for a year. Strike two. Then several times, both sites went down for hours at a time. They blamed it on migrating servers, and they would be more reliable and I would be happier blah, blah, blah. Strike 3.

So whether I wanted to or not, I was going to learn how to move my websites to a different web host. In theory it is very simple. Purchase hosting at your desired location, furnish your domain name you want to use and they give you the "DNS settings." You then log into your domain name administration and change the DNS setting to point to the new host. I decided to leave my domain names at web.com and just move the hosting. I also chose to move jimmohr.com first to the new web host. They do warn you that it may take 24 to 72 hours to propagate across the internet. I found out that that means your site will be down for 1-3 days! It is weird too, sometimes it will be up, then down, up, down. It is a helpless feeling, I was sure I had done something wrong. You really have to monitor it close too, as soon as you see a default page on your website, you have to publish your website ASAP. In 2 days plus, jimmohr.com was back up. I calmed down for a couple days, then repeated the steps with buildfree.org. I took almost 2 days to complete the process.

I can see why people give up on making their internet fortune. I had basically been working on this (whatever you want to call it) for almost 2 years, had my share of headaches, and my monthly earnings were about $100 a month. It worked out out to about $1 an hour. What I did see is constant growth. And at this point, I really just can't quit, everything is paying for itself. I guess I need a couple more websites...

Monday, September 22, 2008

In the trenches...

There is no turning back now. I am not one to give up easily, so now I am determined to see what I can make of this endeavor. It's all profit for at least the rest of the year so at least I am out nothing, but I can see the potential. Early retirement is flashing before my eyes. It seemed to boil down to visitor traffic. It appears that anyone could make money from a website almost effortlessly if they had traffic. I am not talking a ton of hits, just around 300 hits a day seemed like the break even point. Now I am talking natural traffic, people that WANT to be on your site, not the forced traffic that some programs promise.

I decided to put jimmohr.com on the back burner for a bit, it was holding it's own. I hade tweaked the website to the best of my knowledge by optimizing it with Meta Tags. And since it takes months for a website to reach it's potential, I was getting restless. I decided to put everything I had learned to this point to good use and buy (rent) another domain name. Everything I had learned revolved around building free websites, so I did some research and found that buildfree.org was available. Feeling like an old pro now, I did not hesitate much and bought the domain. My problem with all the websites that promoted free web hosting kind of led you in circles, the offered you a free trial, not a website that was truly free. I felt I could develop a list of free websites and offer some helpful hints to get beginners on the right track. After all, I had spent a year jumping through hoops refining my free website building skills. I had made mental notes of the locations that I found helpful and I felt I had found a niche by organizing it in a manner that did not belittle a beginner.

The hardest part with starting a website is just that; starting. I always recommend putting your ideas down on paper before you actually start building web pages. As a matter of fact, creating an outline (just like you learned in school) works great. Your main page links to inner pages which link to even more pages, so seeing it in outline form helps you with the structure. Carry a notebook (paper) with you and jot down ideas as you think of them. No one I know can just knock out an entire website in one sitting, so be patient with yourself. The best website a beginner could build is an informational website. Choose a topic or hobby that you know the most about. Starting out thinking you can build a 100 page site selling widgets is not going to happen.

I am going to go off on a tangent for a bit and throw out a bit of personal philosophy. Most of the people on the internet and TV that say they make a living on the internet are lying. Yes, there is money to be made, but it happens in nickels and dimes. Almost every turnkey website that is pre-built and stocked with figurines will fail. You cannot buy your way in, you have to pay your dues and learn to do it yourself. You have to be able to update your website(s) as needed, not wait for days and pay someone. It will also not happen overnight and that is why most people give up. As in my prior posts, it may take a year to make your first dollar. But on the brighter side, once the ball starts rolling, it is almost impossible to turn it off. The term "It is always 5 o'clock somewhere" has never been more true than on the internet. Be patient, and people in Europe want to make you money even before you get out of bed!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pull the trigger...

It may sound funny, but I sat and stared at the keyboard for about a half hour before I finally hit "publish website". I entered the user name and password and the bars started scrolling. In about 30 seconds I got a pop-up windo saying my website was published successfully! Jimmohr.com was live on the internet. It did not have the content it has today but it had 20 or so pages of fun and interesting stuff. I also popped a couple of the banners and links on some pages and I was back on track to starting (trying at least) to make a little money. My goal was to make just enough money to offset hosting costs, as I thought that would be a good start. I was hosting my site at Web.com and in 2003 it cost around $17 a month and the domain name was (I think) $13.95 a year for a total of around $218. You can do the same thing now for around $50 at Go-Daddy. I submitted the site to Google and other search engines, signed some peoples' guestbooks, I made some posts on some forums and crossed my fingers.

It was a mixed blessing the the free web host I was formerly using started putting the porn on their pages. Yes, it pulled the plug on my ticket to financial independence, but it also forced me to make a change that I would have had to make sooner or later. I guess since it takes forever to get listed on Google, sooner was better, but I was not at all thrilled with having to spend money. After all, I was not getting any younger. As a matter of fact, I had only had a computer for about a year and half. Sometimes I wondered what am I getting myself into? I came from a hobby / money-making venture of fixing and selling bicycles between guitar gigs, and web building was about as far from that as I could get.

Updating jimmohr.com did not really take up much time in my day, but I came to realize that a website is never done. The more I learned about web pages and using FrontPage, I kept making changes and tweaking the site to make it just a tiny bit cooler every couple days. I was also always on the lookout for affiliate programs that I could join to make a bit of extra money. I tried to find items I could promote that were related to my website content. I made a welcome discovery that most affiliate programs will not let you join using a free website, so having a REAL domain name was a blessing. In about 6 months, I had built my web traffic back up to about 200 visits a day and had reached my goal of earning $218. Everything I earn for the rest of the year is PROFIT!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Moving on...

It took a while, but I finally decided to desert my free website and look towards paid hosting. This was somewhere around 2003 and web hosting was a bit more expensive than it is today. I found out that you have to buy a "domain name" as well as web hosting. So step one was to think of a name that would actually be worth getting. Most of the good .com and .net sites are already taken since they have been available for many years. I did a search for my name and sure enough jimmohr.com was available, so I purchased it. Let me clarify, you never really "own" a domain name, you merely rent it. You pay a registrar a yearly fee, and you control it for as long as you keep your payments current. You can get a domain name at thousands of registrars, and you can switch it to a different registrar if you need to with not too much trouble. Having a domain name does not mean you have a website. You also need to purchase web hosting. Thousands of companies will gladly sell you web hosting and usually a beginner should probably get their domain name and web hosting at the same place. Also, get the cheapest hosting account to start. There is ample space and bandwith for a beginner site, and you can always upgrade at a later date. If you get your domain name from a different location than your hosting, you have have to log into your domain name administration and change your name servers to "point" the domain name to the web host. I would also recommend choosing a location that has 24 / 7 telephone technical support. (check their website and call the number to see how long you would have to wait.)

The next problem I ran into is how to build my site. Most free websites have a browser-based web builder. That means that you build and maintain your website on the internet and there are no files stored on your computer. A lot of paid web hosts now have a site builder that is free to use to build your site, but I have found they are fairly limited and complicated to edit. I was really not sure what I wanted to put on my website anyway so I started looking for a program that I could install on my computer that I could work on my website at my leisure whether I was hooked up to the internet or not. This is very handy if you carry a laptop and can only work on your website a bit at a time. You can wait to publish your website until your site is done.

The two most popular website building programs at that time was Webweaver and Microsoft FrontPage. I tried both and I have found FrontPage is more similar to a lot of the free websites' interface I had learned on. It is a matter of choice, but I found a college student that could get me Microsoft FrontPage for $10, so that was all it took. I still use FrontPage to publish all my websites, but I understand it has been replaced by "web publisher" or something like that in the Microsoft Office Suite. You can still find FrontPage on Ebay though.

Like all my endeavors, I vow not to pay anybody to do something I can do myself. It is the same for website building, so I spent the next couple months learning FrontPage. I could turn out a plain page rather quickly, but I found it fun testing out all the cool things FrontPage could do. I was also unsure of what I wanted my final website to look like, so it was a slow process. The great thing about FrontPage, you do not really need to know any computer coding or HTML skills. You can use what is called a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) site builder. It is like using Microsoft Word or Outlook. Then you can see what makes things happen by looking behind the scenes by "viewing the code". It is kind of backwards learning that comes in handy as your web pages get more complicated.

Ok, so now I have a domain name and paid hosting, but still no website on the internet. It is nearing the end of 2003. To get your website live on the internet, you have to "publish" it using your site building program. And I found out that if you use FrontPage to publish your website, you have to have "FrontPage Extensions" turned on on the server on your hosting account. I made good use of the 24 / 7 telephone tech support, and now I was finally ready. I was nervous as the first day of school...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Important lesson #1

All was well for the next few months, my 7 dollar monthy earnings blossomed to a whopping 24 dollars, then averaging around 80 dollars a month at the end of the first year. This was all on a free website in my spare time while working a day job. The free website was getting around 400 visits a day, and I was getting nice emails from people thanking me for offering free clipart collections and good feedback on my other funny site content. I even got a nice email from a teacher saying she was using the website for her students to get clipart and photos for their projects. Little did I know the web world as I knew it was about to come crashing down.

I had mentioned before I especially liked the free host I was using because it was easy to edit and had a nice interface. Well another benefit was there was no forced advertisements, no pop-ups or banners of any kind. Well I woke up one day and got an email from my formerly happy teacher asking how could I put porno pictures on my website. Sure enough, I opened my website and across the top, almost as big as half of the page was a couple of pornographic pictures, and links to other questionable sites. This material appears on every one of their free sites on all the pages. That is why I have not told you the address to my first website or the location of the free host. I will only say they were not based out of the United States. They are still out there and they have porno on the pages. It made me very angry and I am still very disappointed. All of the people that trusted me to provide a cool website were sure I was responsible for the photos and there was nothing I could do.

Now I was the learn the pitfalls of a free website. The web address (domain name) they give you is what is known as a sub-domain. It is a name you choose that goes in front (or behind) of the name of the site. Just like what Blogger.com does with blogspot. This is all fine and dandy until the host decides to discontinue service or makes unacceptable changes. You have no control over the name and cannot take it with you. The 400 hits a day I had built up over the year were lost. My reputation tarnished and all the time it took for people to be able to find my website by searching on search engines like Google and Yahoo was out the window. My 80 dollars a month was lost...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The journey continues...

I had one free website that I especially liked using because it was reasonably simple to edit. I uploaded a bunch of photos, and some of my witty quips (along with links to my music) and I guess at that time I would have called it my "Home Page". In a couple months, I was getting like 300 hits a day, but still had not sold CD number 1.

After doing some soul-searching, I decided to put my music aside and develop the free website and see where it would lead. After all, I had no investment other than my time. I no longer based the site around my music, just the fun and funny stuff. I joined a couple affiliate programs to maybe make a dollar or two; One was a company that gave away free websites and paid a dollar for every website that was downloaded by a US visitor. The other was a company that (surprisingly enough) gave away free websites. They paid a dollar for each website that someone built by your referral. It was very easy to do, I just copied and pasted the short bit of script code on several of my pages. Some of the code displayed banners and some of the code would be just a text link.

At the end of my 6th month having this free website, I made my first official internet money. It's funny now, but I have never been so excited about making 7 dollars. There is strange guilty feeling about making money anonymously. And though it was only 7 dollars, I could see the potential for exponential growth. I pictured myself like the people on the infomercials that you know are lying through their teeth claiming to $6000 a week working from their home. I now didn't feel so empty for deserting my music. All for 7 dollars...

So What...

Being completely new to the computer, I spent the next year building (or trying to build) a website in every free location I could find to promote my songwriting. I was amazed at the vast amount of places that you can build a pretty cool website easily. I learned a great deal about editing HTML and photo cropping and compression. I now had like 100 websites, but for what? Well... it did absolutely nothing to promote my songwriting except I had quite a following in Belgium for some reason.

So now with 2 years spent on promotion (and approximately 20 years in development), I came to a harsh realization; my singing sucks. Now I still feel my songwriting skills were ok, but unless a producer has a flat tire in front of my house and needs to use the phone while I'm barbecuing briscuit, I'm screwed.

My dream as a songwriter was to be a guy that would be getting the paper dressed in a robe holding a coffee mug while all my neighbors were leaving for work. I wanted to get a whole bunch of little royalty checks that would be residules from some obscure radio station played one of my songs. I would say to someone when one of my songs came on; "I wrote that song", and they would go "yeah right.." But I would have the last laugh when the neighbors would drive by and wonder "what does that guy do?"

But just like the junkman on the garbage route, the skills I learned on the journey would turn out to come in quite handy. My residual checks don't come from the record companies, but I'm not far off...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Going A Bit Deeper...

Ok, I admit it. I have several websites of my own. But I swear it happened by accident. I was a (not so) young Indiana guitar player / songwriter / partier following in the footsteps of fellow Hoosier John Mellencamp. But by necessity I was cheap, as I was pretty broke. I had learned though to not spend money promoting my songs. The rule of thumb is that if someone really likes your music, you shouldn't have to pay them.

I started out subscribing the A&R registry, which lists all the music producers and publishers that are interested in new music. I spent an entire year making phone calls and sending out at least 1 CD a day to an interested party. I met lots of interesting people and got lots of offers that unfortunately violated my rule of thumb.

After that year, I was truly frustrated. And it seemed like the music on the radio got worse and worse. I tried a different approach, get on the internet! I said before I was cheap, and did not want to pay anyone to build a webpage. So I scoured the internet looking for locations that I could promote my music for free. After several attempts and learning about bit rates and other completely frustrating computer crap, I uploaded my first songs at Broadjam.com.

More to come...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Well here it goes...

When blogging first began, I thought "what a waste of time?" I felt people spent so much valuable time blogging that could be doing something constructive on the internet. Let me clarify a bit; I see the internet as a tool. Good for gathering information or finding a way to make an extra buck. I still feel there are better things to do with one's time, but I am finally convinced blogging has a deserved space amongst the clutter.

I think part of why blogging is popular is because regular websites (for the most part) have gone to the dogs. 1. Webmasters are going overboard trying to monetize their pages. and 2. Flash, Java and video have made webpages just too busy to absorb the intended content.

So I think blogging is actually what websites intended to be at the beginning. And somewhat reluctantly, I am climbing aboard.

So right off I want to thank anyone for finding this page and may your internet journey be safe and pleasant. I make no claims of intelligence, and I apologize for puctuation and spelling errors. My goal is just to pass on tidbits of my life that you might find useful or interesting.

More to come..