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From hobby websites to making money

The story of a several years journey into web development

     
11:32 pm on Sep 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi webmasters, this thread has no purpose self promoting anything or business click bait, etc. It is just the story of how something started, how it got big and how this is probably about to end. I've been a forum member for years and ALWAYS enjoyed real life stories, sadly this forum has none, so I had to read them elsewhere; sure, many websites post gray stories that are mostly about self promotion or trying to sell something.

This is not about that. I will try to cover different chapters in different posts to make things easier.

Coding and software developing background
Everything began around November 1998 and I was able to code in Pascal, Basic, Visual Basic, Fox and Informix. I knew nothing about web coding or server coding, HTML, Javascript, or Java, etc.

Graphic design background
Had some studies involving graphic design and worked at some advertising agency, then at one large editorial company. If you ask me, in my case, editorial design was a great school for web development. But don't worry, this is not a story of how great I am (or was) designing stuff, I was about to discover sometimes ugly stuff does sell on the web.

It all began with pictures
I had no ambition regarding web design or web development, access to the web around 1998 was nothing like today, it was mostly about Internet Explorer, dial up connections, slow website loading and pretty boring stuff. I was working still in editorial design but also practicing my hobby as a photographer. Soon I found myself getting better at it, to be fair I consider myself way better at taking pictures than web development. And so accidentally started selling my pictures, soon I had this hobby that I wanted to project on the web: travel and historical photography.

Sure it felt like easy money, I could sell a picture for good money once, or less money but several sales (different licences). Soon I found the need to share the pictures on the web, it was easier to tell people "go there and choose the pictures you want or need". My first website was static, hand made and it wasn't easy. I fell in the mistakes of trying to build something based on how it looks, lacking absolute knowledge on optimization (making it fast) or usable (user experience). But it wasn't that easy or fast, first I talked to some developers and oh boy it was expensive to have a website were I could add and manage a set of pictures (around 200 at that time). Later I found I needed a website with access control: I didn't need everyone to have access to all the pictures, even for selection (I'm not talking high res here, yet).

I was using Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia Dreamweaver along with some other free tools. I hated it. To me it was about what program worked better in the wysiwyg realm and soon I discovered diff browsers = diff look, unless you know how to code correctly, but anyway web standards were not so easy back then, every browser had diff features (more than at present time) and it was easy to find badges about "better viewed with X webbrowser". Enough about that, soon I found myself needing specific access control on the website, this meant more coding. I did everything mostly using Javascript (how terrible huh?) you could find your way to the resources just by looking at the source code.

Firs serious website
And so I replaced my first website (personal) with a new version, this time HTML + Javascript and CGI / Perl and flat files databases. And I fell in love with Perl. Sounds funny I know but back in the day you had to pay for database access, most basic hosting packages didn't offer DB access.

Then set up the first payment options and delivered the product on CDs around the world. Invested many hours setting the website and it was working.

Incoming post...
11:43 pm on Sept 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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UX, user experience
I believed my coding learning was the most important part on building websites but looking back: it wasn't. Sure it was important but I found myself explaining visitors how to buy my pictures and while it sounds easy, it wasn't. I believe people were a lot smarter then (seriously) but I had to explain in different ways to diff people (diff countries, diff languages). And so I discovered I needed to find the best layout for the website, and the best approach to explain how to buy the pictures. Mostly: I had to find a way to make the process intuitive. This was my first contact with User Experience, or UX.

I found WebMasterWorld forum and oh boy I got a lot to read, and got some help from kind forum members. Soon I found the technical aspects of building useful websites (KISS, keep it simple stupid) and making the structure light as a feather. See, it's not just how it looks, it's also how it's made, it must be light and fast. Looking back I understand and agree what others have said: many were trying to mimic paper online, and so a transition chapter began: from paper to screen. You had to design for the screen, not for paper.

The ugly duck
In order to sell, to become relevant on the web, and to keep your visitors your website must be attractive, right? well, attractive and usable are tricky concepts. Surprisingly I invested a lot of time creating a better version of the website every X months, every year, only to fail. Yes I tried focus groups, I studied how people interacted with the website on first contact... only to find some ugly simple design made my website not only fast, but easy to understand. Honestly I didn't like it, even posted a thread about the ugly duck. I managed to perform different tests (people and search engines) and so the ugly design remained for years untouchable.

I also learned you have to wait when you make changes: search engines hate it when they detect what they consider "noticeable changes" and can put you on some sandbox.

Full website
At this stage I was able to build and maintain a website with text, pictures, easy to update, flat file database (yes I know) and user access control so visitors could log in and have their separate client view along with their account. And then added buy + download right away. People could create an account, select pictures and download them right away. I had around 2,800 pictures back then online.

Other options? I tried all the stuff I could find online (freeware, paid, etc) and honestly I hated it. I'm happy that I created my own solution because at one point or another many of those companies left the stage and their product died (or increased it's price) not to mention the security flaws, hacked websites, etc.

Incoming post... and things became more interesting.
11:59 pm on Sept 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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At this point I was already making money, how much? I don't think such specifics matter but it wasn't enough to keep it as my main income source. I was still naive enough to discuss coding languages and their importance on websites. Tried ASP, JSP and PHP, I hate them all. Kept Perl as my favorite, still is. It's damn, damn fast, you can use databases or flat file databases, did I say fast? it is dam fast. This forum was built over Perl and Flat File databases, just so you know.

From Dreamweaver to Notepad. Many forum members mentioned notepad or similar, I hated it but learned my lesson and made the change. I really learned to code HTML and built better stuff, faster stuff. Same for Javascript and Perl. I was using BbEdit (free version on Macintosh) and some simple text editor on Windows, then moved to EditPad (freeware). I never looked back and permanently coded on simple text, for good.

Looking back over the years, web developing changed in my view from coding and technology to common sense, listening to wise people (here) and polishing my skills for writing and organizing work. I was about to experience challenges on a big company (regarding web development), I will post some of that later, that's the most important part of the thread.

[edited by: engine at 6:17 pm (utc) on Sep 3, 2019]
[edit reason] Typo corrected at OPs request [/edit]

1:06 am on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@explorador ... This thread will be a useful resource for new and experienced alike. Look forward to the rest of the saga!
10:35 am on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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i look forward to hearing more too, thanks!
1:01 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld was the first real chapter learning how to create websites and I can't explain full enough the differences between the gold posted on this forum VS the low value content posted on other forums where people easily talk about money and success (even if their websites get nowhere and everything is about social media). At this point things get really interesting because I faced the challenges of creating content (the most important part of a website, technical aspects aside).

Learning to read and write

Promoted to webmaster at a large company
Back in year 2000 there weren't many webmasters around, many were taking their first steps and, as usual, some were pure noise selling dreams... or lies. We had some of those at the company I used to work, it was a media company covering newspaper, magazines, TV and radio, the largest in the country, largest in the region. And so some famous (locally) webmaster got a job elsewhere and some project was left abandoned. We got that project. Having a hobby and learning to create my own website proved useful to get this promotion and it wasn't easy to find a replacement, so they allowed me to continue. It's a bittersweet memory because it was an abandoned project so don't you think they had high hopes on us (or on me) they were probably about to shut down that project at the end of the year. They didn't.

Being a newspaper (mostly) there were professionals in the field in terms of writing (in Spanish). I was already good at it but still a long way to go: I had to learn some styles in terms of writing, there are different methods and structures you can follow to tell a story, and so I began reading with a different purpose, I wasn't reading the stories, I was reading the structures, how each paragraph has to begin and how the next paragraph should continue. And I learned from them. I learned the styles used at the Media Company.

Original traffic numbers
The first website had only 200 unique visitors per day and we would get several email messages per week. The ratio between traffic and emails was good. Sadly many pointed out mistakes in the stories, but I wasn't writing them at first: the writers team was in charge and they would pass me the notes, stories used in the newspaper and magazines. A few months later I pushed for a full redesign and so we did, things got better and so traffic went up to 500 daily unique visitors at the end of the year.

One website became 4 (around 2001)
Soon we were assigned new projects, printed magazines would have online versions. Many pushed for PDF's as the solution, we refused and so we launched in a matter of one month a set of new websites. Over the following years I would continue to learn how to write and our traffic went up to approx 700 daily unique visitors (reaching year 2002). Diff websites = diff results. The team of writers were still in charge of the content. I believe what helped the sites get more traffic was having the link on the magazines, link on the main newspaper portal (high traffic) and posting constantly, but the articles were not good enough, how so?

The conflict (writers)
We were still getting emails pointing out mistakes, and the ratio of messages and visitors didn't look better. Most articles could be deleted and nobody would miss them. Printed versions were "good" but things were different in paper back in the day, it was a different era: the company was HUGE and resources were no problem, there was no real competition and people would read just whatever you gave them. Soon other newspapers created competition but that wasn't the problem, the real challenge when you are on the web is: the local writers were accidentally in competition against the world. They were good locally, but they were terrible internationally. Many people with real hobbies were authority in different matters. Other magazines or hobby sites were better, far damn better using way better writing styles and had more data to contribute than the local writers, and yes people read (good readers) but less demanding in terms of data.

The problem with SEO
There is little you can do to optimize an article if you don't get the chance to write it, instead you just use meta tags and links, this is a huge limitation. The writers were actually terrible now that I look back, but I have to be fair: those were different times and different styles worked (on paper), but not on the web.

Learning to read and write again
This was a challenge. I took time to read different sources about writing styles for the web. Most of them lacked explanations and went straight to the point, some had no backing data in their style, I mean: straight to the point, but somehow it felt better. And so I started learning the benefits of avoiding classical story telling and becoming more fact - structure - based. Overall the most beneficial learning in terms of website creation in my perspective were: (1) UX and (2) Learning to really create content.

The situation at this stage
At this point the writers and editors refused to listen, it made no sense to have a printed story that they had to edit again or change the title, not to mention put some extra intro, it made no sense to them but it made sense to me. Our websites at this point were in the range of 1,200 unique per day max. There were other groups in the company creating websites and none of them were as good as ours: those were slow, bad UX, low traffic (around 200-500 per day).

We had 4 well established websites around year 2002, constant emails, growing traffic and different results among the websites (due to their nature and frequency of updates). The company had no need to make them profitable, and so there was no advertising of any kind on the websites, they considered them as plus, an extra product, the online version of the stuff you can get on the streets or the online version of the printed versions you got as a subscriptor. But yes, now the paid content was posted online for free, interesting.
3:57 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Learning to write (again) Year 2002
Around 2002 I was in charge of 4 websites at the company. Still had my own photography website and just launched another website. That meant: 4 in the company, 2 on my own. Soon I would end up caught in the false premise of needing a full redesign every year. I was still reading every day how to create more effective content, yet the editors at the company were not interested. I could read the magazines and I would get some experience out of the articles, but when I read them on the web I took like 1/4 the time for reading and the articles gave me the impression of being empty. I believe we all changed as readers with the presence of websites.

Website redesign
Makes sense and it makes no sense. Back in the day standards and technology were different. You would build a fast website with specific picture size, and two years later people would have better screen resolution meaning more space, and also faster web surfing experiences, this mean your redesign wasn't needed only on looks, it was a full UX thing, a full experience.

Let's write something: the big difference
My main website was mostly about pictures and little content (but still ranking great with now 500 daily visitors, constant emails and selling stuff), my second website had stories. Still around 2002 I decided to erase everything on my second website and start from scratch, many things were different.

- Title, intro, story, pictures
- Yes intro, a different set of text for the article
- Articles and pictures included credits when needed
- A different picture for the intro
- Pictures had watermarks on them

Just using a different text for intro (and intro picture) gave the full sense of having resources, content. And all the content was generated by me, both pictures and text. This is something no everyone can afford but solved a lot of future issues. The challenge. In some ways my second website was competing with one of the company websites (accidentally). I was the webmaster on both sides. The difference: I had to work on their standards there, but on my websites I was free to do whatever I wanted to. We would have discussions at the large company on how to do everything, and they would have the last word there, but I would apply what I believed was right on my websites.

The large company VS... me
We were not competing, I was the same webmaster on both sides and there was no conflict of interests, yet I was able to put into competition what they said was right and what I said was right. I can say in full happiness... too bad they didn't listen to me. The main difference was the writing style. This proved effective after the first year, suddenly I noticed my second website (similar in nature to one inside the company) growing in traffic.

Slow growth but solid. Around 2005 website A (inside the company) had between 1,500 to 2,500 visitors daily, while mine would have 800 average. BUT my website would have more repetitive visits, less bounce rate and more emails per day, I was engaging with the readers.

And so I created more websites
My hobbies made it possible, I could create a different website for a different hobby. I wasn't just growing as a webmaster but also as a human being because I was forced to research more and more about my hobbies in more depth than before. Soon I started getting invitations from companies or business to visit their place and talk. Yes, talk. The amount of people wanting me to include them on publications wasn't big, it was mostly about people who shared same interests and wanted to meet me for conversation. I gained access to interesting places and posting a story was a secondary event.

Making money
Selling my pictures online wasn't that easy anymore, there were lots of paid resources and free pictures online but I was still making a bit of money. To me, honestly money is not that important, but it is somehow an indicator of how good are you doing your work online.

I would NEVER copy content, instead I fully worked on creating it my own even if that meant reading lots of material and using my brain in expensive ways. My websites allowed me to become a better writer, a better photographer, a coder and a better webmaster. Soon I would have invitations and a portfolio to sell my work, specially creating websites for clients.

Adsense was launched on June 2003 and soon after I joined out of curiosity. Surprisingly I was making money out of it, can't post the specifics, it wasn't that much as big players, but it wasn't low. I could pay for my hobbies and invest on better equipment. Remember, the money came from my hobbies so I felt I was getting paid by playing with the things I enjoyed the most. The money I got from Adsense over the years was enough to buy a small house outside the city (to give some indicator) and the combination of Adsense and work related to the web was good enough to contribute to my full life expenses. I always refused to leave my main job.

The differences
- The big company had resources, my websites didn't have full budget for production
- They had lots of traffic / authority site providing traffic, I only had my websites
- They had a team of writers, I was on my own
- They told me what to do and I did it, but on my sites I did what I think was right
- They used their professionals for writing, I had me and my learning

Over the following years I would witness the company sites grow to reach ranges between 5K to 7K daily unique, while my sites reached the range of 1,500 to 2,300. Quite a difference right? but the company sites NEVER had the readers, repeated visitors and constant mails I had. My sites proved more effective. Things didn't look good in the web realm: too many competitors, scrapers stealing content, media companies and specifically newspapers facing financial issues, etc. So the company added Adsense to the websites, the income was lower than mine.

Promoted to editor
While still being the webmaster I was promoted to editor around 2008 specifically to manage and create the content one of the company websites. Since then I gained editorial control over that website, but not full control. I would still suggest changes they would refuse, and I would continue watching my sites get better while the big company along with the "experts" failed. Large companies are slower in terms of adapting to changes, decisions depend on a chain of command while a one man band or a small team can move faster. Besides there are things a company might not want to try but you are free to do so.

Different languages fail
This was also addressed here on WebmasterWorld regarding native vs translations. The company decided to translate the main website (the one I was in charge of) to English, Italian and French. The results were terrible, most of the traffic were bots and not people. Diff people brought different translations, lesson learned: if you want a translation be sure you have someone on your team knowing the language, why? the company paid people who brought edited translations by free online services, what a rip off.

I tried on my own creating content in English and failed too :) I can produce great content in Spanish and sure I need time for that. English content required more time, and I would never produce the same result as a native English speaker. After failing I hired a Canadian lady who was really good at translating because she was asked to read several times and rewrite the article. It wasn't a translation, it was a full generation of new content, it worked better, way better. I learned my lesson and never again tried to generate a mirror site in another language, instead I would generate specific pages or specific websites only, never again dual language websites. That was my choice.
4:13 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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A one man band
My efforts and results proved better than the company work. They had a team, I was on my own regarding my websites. At the end of the month I had better results, interesting enough I could never break the barrier of 2K daily visitors while the company was reaching 7K daily, but I couldn't complain, my results were better in terms of ROI (Return of Investment). I confess, tried hiring people but failed, the ROI wasn't good, and I wasn't good at delegating work or training people. I considered training a risky waste of talent and information, and sadly I would compare their work to mine in terms of production and efficiency, I know I wasn't doing the right thing and failed only to come back being a one man band. Part of me regrets this, part of me doesn't. Yes I understand how faster and larger I could work with a team of people, but... I have my limitations.

The web changed
Algo and tech changes meant you couldn't just put more and get some more out of the system, and I wasn't alone, many webmasters tried to replicate the already successful formula tried on their websites only to fail. Why? I don't know, perhaps too many competitors, besides the more websites you have the slower you move. I had around 9 websites making a bit of money and business, later sold one and closed the others, it was a waste of money and only kept 4 websites.

Simple things VS fancy equipment, from Dreamweaver to Simple Text
The company and other webmasters changed their equipment from time to time using newer, expensive and faster hardware. I did the same but later I ended up simplifying and using very simple tools. Actually most of my content was created with a pocket size PC and a folding keyboard. Yes, that small, and I would be able to work anywhere inspiration kicked in. Very, very energy efficient.

The CMS
I always used my own CMS on the websites, different versions over the years until creating a fully online manageable CMS based on Perl and flat files databases. I would be criticized for this over the years but in terms of speed and stability nobody would beat my sites. The large company had a collection of around 15 websites, and OUR set was the best in terms of stability and resources, not to mention how easy it was to migrate to another servers, while Wordpress and custom made solutions bought yby the company failed constantly, miserably. I would invest a lot of time on my final CMS around... I don't know... 2009? and would also create my custom Framework. I hated this chapter but it helped me to work faster and never ever need changes on my websites or the CMS itself.

The clients, boring and conflicting work
Most of my income came from the websites and not from clients. Sure I made money that way too but it was too exhausting and proving to be a waste of time. Clients had the same needs: making money, but also had the same issues: limited budget and lack of organization and content. It's almost impossible to create a website for a client that never sends final content to be posted, and so many projects failed, some clients understood their responsibility there, others had issues getting the idea. At the end of the chapter I just refused to work for clients anymore, it was... proven to be a sad waste of my time. I might be a bad salesman, I got to know other webmasters who were making fast money based on selling smoke and Wordpress, none of those websites remain, while my own sites are still kicking after more than 15 years in a row. Several clients respected this

As a developer had issues presenting a portfolio. Many clients demand you to work certain way to produce websites that you will never want to take credit for, but that's business. Other websites won't be around enough time to keep them in my portfolio, that's about working for clients, so I refused to do so since 2013 and I don't regret it.
5:17 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The addictive years and change
I was one of those who suffered addiction to checking the stats, traffic, daily income. And also tried to adapt to changes but it was impossible, the web changed in many ways difficult to understand, and some changes I refused to adapt to. Being a webmaster changed from having fun creating websites and posting content to checking ROI, income, and failing to understand the latest trends and algorithms. Also got fed up by forum members everywhere who regardless of context they would always state "I'm doing great, you don't know how to manage the new algos", and you would never read a single useful contribution. You would see big players in the forum and other places having issues with their traffic, some despite having original content received penalization or faced constant content scrapping (I was one of those and dealt with that via DMCA effectively) but the web was different then, it was a whole set of bureaucracy and extra work. Sure, some see this as part of the evolution of things, I don't.

Instead of seeing the tech side and the dynamics of engaging the audience I started becoming bored about the web and having a negative feeling about creating and posting content. It wasn't as profitable but that was not problem, the problem is things made less sense, social media everywhere and despite disagreeing with it, I just had to try it in different ways to test it and see if some of that was useful, at the end of this I just took a break.

The web is a different animal now
In the past it was html + javascript + your content, period. The rest was your writing style, SEO and some link building happening naturally, organic. Things changed into standards (that's good) but then you had to update things so websites worked the same in different browsers (I always disliked the way some CSS things just worked way differently across browsers), then you have social media, the likes, the fanpages, people failing to read, people writing one liners, the cookies, responsive designs were not an issue but the cookie thing it is still an issue, now the web will require you more than often to click an "accept" button, the return of popups, floating useless toolboxes and people posting terrible videos on the web. It used to be content, now it's like 1 minute asking you to subscribe, hit the whatever button and then whatever, or giveaways, etc. Adblockers created a mess I know, but sure they helped to deal with some of the web issues.

Back to hobbies
Sure I gained a lot of experience over the years, since 1998 to 2019 = 21 years, but things didn't look good in many ways so I stopped seeing creating websites as a business and I went back to it as a hobby. Things changed positively, and I started making money in different ways, non web related. It was surprising how other things were more enjoyable and profitable than dealing with clients or search engines, and most of all: less effort. I worked my way on working smarter and not just harder. At this point I surprise myself on the amount of experience I gained, how easy I would reject clients or business opportunities and how other types of work and sources of income look better in my mind (and in reality).

Some conclusions
Money.If you are an average reader you probably didn't enjoy some details and you were mostly expecting talks about money and "success". Well I'm myself quite surprised because over let's say 20 years I made enough money from the web to buy and pay a full decent house in the city, if that's serves for a measure of anything. In terms of success that's difficult, it means diff things to diff people. Expensive stuff, equipment and fancy life are not part of my concept of success, after all I could still be making money out of the web but the whole experience goes beyond money: it wasn't a pleasant thing and so I wouldn't see such thing as part of being successful today, so if dealing with clients is your thing then good for you, it's not mine.

Technology. Amazingly I moved far from high end computers to energy efficient equipment. A lot of stuff I write happens in a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard and I would be able to work full day with a single charge.

Mobile apps. Yes I learned to develop mobile apps, they need more time and work than you would imagine and most clients can't pay what those apps are worth. So after investing a lot of time trying different frameworks and technologies for mobile apps I just decided to keep them out of my services to clients. I don't need to learn specific new languages for Android and for iOS, the lack of stability in languages and framework versions is terrible, sure you can make good money there, but good luck, it's not a nice scenario.

Clients. I agree with Steve Jobs, most clients and users do not know what they want and YOU have to tell them. I learned most people don't have business ideas, they nave NEEDS and expect you to translate that into money, well it's better when I do that with my own ideas instead of theirs, most of their ideas and needs suck, it is the truth.

PRIVACY and SECRECY Most people I know have no idea about my websites or past work and that's great. A lot of people say you have to sell yourself and I disagree, this is too complex to explain but I learned here on WebmasterWorld it is better to keep your mouth shut and not tell anyone about your websites. I disliked that idea but proved to be valid, then I learned from a manager and business owner how terrible idea it is to have business cards stating you are the owner or manager, it's better to make up a different position with less power: people will mess with you a lot less. Both clients and salesmen.

I still have some of my websites and closed some out of boredom and to avoid wasting money, it's not efficient to do so. I keep only 4 websites and I'm still on green numbers there.
5:26 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The best learning over the years
I learned a lot, more than I can imagine or expected in this forum, nice people, wise people. A lot of lessons learned about technology, websites, coding, but mostly on human terms and how to deal with "success" (when you are making money) and some valuable lessons also from people who move to different things instead of insisting to constantly solve "challenges" on the web. At some point it's wise to let go, business are opportunities, not forced destinations you have to stick with.

Along the way I learned great techniques for coding and sure I became a better coder, amazingly. But the journey of being a webmaster and mostly, generating original content made me better at:

- Photography, being able to earn money that way again with more experience
- Writing, being able to read and write better (remember my native language is Spanish)
- Better editorial skills, being able to earn money by reading, writing and editing
- Better researcher in general
- Better handling clients
- Increased my experience and opportunities in video production and editing

I have read threads of people suffering because their websites failed after several years of success. I feel their pain, but I don't understand how being successful at creating websites needing several different skills to do so means they didn't polish such skills. Many skills together helped me to make money on the web, and now they also help me to make money in different places, or just separately. I will never be able to perfectly express the immense value of generating original content on your own, it makes you grow and avoids many issues.

In many ways being a webmaster took me on a path far away and then back to my origins.

That's all I can say, probably not what most people expected, but it is what it is.

[edited by: explorador at 5:29 pm (utc) on Sep 3, 2019]

5:28 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@tangor + @topr8, thanks, story posted.
5:35 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Very interesting, thank you very much for taking the time to go through all that.
I have bookmarked it for reference.
5:35 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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thanks, i really enjoyed reading all that, it was very interesting and informative in many ways!
6:24 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Though some might have missed it, you have lived an exciting life as a webmaster! I can read between the lines based on experience. My past is similar to yours ... started as a hobby, became an accidental business, built it to some major dollars, and eventually sold the biz and "retired". Still have the hobby site and a few long time clients (a very few!) who NOW know what they are doing and only need tech or design help once in a while.

Thanks for post, and at the same time clearly display all the things you learned along the way in giving a concise report ... and doing so in a second language!

Kudos

.
8:26 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It is just the story of how something started, how it got big and how this is probably about to end. I've been a forum member for years and ALWAYS enjoyed real life stories

So many are fixated on their destination they forget to enjoy the journey. Yet it is the story of the journey be it Homer's Odyssey, Tolkien's LotR, or your two decade long web adventure, that truly fulfills.

I could identify with much while some, such as the enterprise experience and contrast, is so different.

Thank you. Greatly enjoyed.
8:39 pm on Sept 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Best 6,000 words I've read today!
8:55 am on Sept 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Interesting read, thanks so much for sharing.
8:01 pm on Sept 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@explorador
A path I can relate to, a story full of "diamonds" : here is my best pick:
At some point it's wise to let go, business are opportunities, not forced destinations you have to stick with.

Implied Regret & Optimism intertwined into a single line : a chapter ends while a new day dawns. Life as it is meant to be.

Thanks for posting - rather brave!

.
6:13 am on Sept 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for taking the time to post your web story, Explorador.
Your eagerness to self train and learn new skills is what I liked most about your posts. Maybe you were lucky to find yourself in situations which didnít give you a choice, maybe you chose to find yourself in such situations (refusing to quit your job). Often it is easy and it makes more sense to focus solely on the money, to find a good recipe for generating nice income and then replicate that without the need to learn much new stuff. But I think in the end yours was a better choice because the more skills and experiences you have the better.
8:43 am on Sept 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for you story! It's very inspiring.
1:56 pm on Sept 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I love the fresh blood enthusiasm. My best advice is to test, test, test. Don't ever take what someone else says as gospel unless you can verify it yourself with your own data. My second best advice is to devote more time to creating and less to checking your stats, especially if you find yourself checking your adsense earnings a dozen times a day.

Google "We got Caffeinated, rankings will update super fast now!" being followed by it suddenly taking weeks and even months to rank at all and even longer to see traffic increase is part of the "game".

Good luck!
2:42 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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That was a beautiful read @explorador - a breath fresh air and some much-needed positivity in a forum bogged down by sour cynics .. Keep up the good work and the positive vibes :-)
10:23 pm on Sept 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks everyone, it's been fun, productive, beneficial. Some chapters can be turned into a separate discussion, sometimes I we talk about it (old friends in the business) or with my wife regarding how amazing this journey has been and the many aspects of life it covers.
7:06 am on Oct 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I had no ambition regarding web design or web development, access to the web around 1998 was nothing like today, it was mostly about Internet Explorer, dial up connections, slow website loading and pretty boring stuff. I was working still in editorial design but also practicing my hobby as a photographer. Soon I found myself getting better at it, to be fair I consider myself way better at taking pictures than web development.

Thanks for the information!
4:18 pm on Oct 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Linscott1C: Thanks for the information!

Quite confused about the quote you selected. For what is worth: I'm very good in web development, still make money from past projects, but I'm way better as a photographer. It's amazing how much time a web project consumes, the efforts and intensity, while in photography making the same amount of money can be achieved with very less effort.

In many ways I've been learning to work smarter, not "harder", its not a competition on difficulty, that's why I mention here and other threads why I moved away from working with clients on web stuff. It's just not worth it in my personal view.