There’s no deep thought or idea in this article. Or maybe there is for you. I don’t know. This June 2008 is special to me. How special? You’ll have to wait a couple of weeks before I tell… *smile*
I’m also in a sort of transitional period. So I’ve been thinking and reflecting. And I’m going to tell you a little story…
[referral links present]
I actually hate to have to say that. You’re a big boy (or girl). You’re an intelligent person. You’re a programmer for crying out loud! Can’t you hover over a link and decide if that link is an affiliate or referral link without clicking on it? Are you that pressed for time?
It started with 2 back-to-back seminars (2-day-4-day). The first was a wealth seminar. It’s an event where some wealthy people go up on stage and teach, inspire and generally make the audience feel good about themselves. The presenters told their own stories of how they overcame their own fears, doubts and poverty (to a certain extent). In the end, there’s a sales pitch. If the audience liked what they’ve heard, and they wanted to continue learning from the presenter, they signed up for a package, or bought a product, or joined a membership.
I’m usually relatively inert to such tactics. As an experiment, I gave in, and bought a product, a set of CDs containing recordings of a workshop conducted by the presenter. It cost me slightly less than 500 Singapore dollars. I actually thought it contained a video recording, not audio. Well, I listened to the first 2 CDs, and then decided I had better things to do.
It wasn’t a complete loss, since I learnt how sales pitches worked, what a wealthy person’s mindset was, and how innocent and naive I was about the Internet marketing world. Besides, the seminar was uplifting. And an investment in a business education.
The second seminar was the World Internet Summit. This one seemed a bit more up my alley. It’s still like the first one, but with an emphasis on online businesses. There were some flaky tactics presented that I didn’t quite approve of. But I was there to learn, so I kept my mind open.
That was where I learnt about Adsense, pay per click and pay per lead. That was where I got to know about affiliate marketing, copy writing and selling digital products (eBooks). That was where I found article directories, Technorati and blogging. It was a lot to take in.
I was in the mood to create my own business. Somehow. I remembered something from the Summit.
The Internet is the cheapest place to fail.
Agreed, up to a point. If I made a phenomenally stupid mistake, it could also be an expensive place to fail. AdWords could eat up thousands of dollars if careless.
So I started my own business. You’re reading it. I started blogging. I’ll be honest with you. When I started writing, it was mostly to make some money online. The original idea was a combination of affiliate sales, advertisements (Adsense primarily) and possibly a product of my own (eBooks were the hottest and easiest to create. Supposingly…). Now, I write to make a difference in the world. I still desire making a living online somehow, but it’s now shunted down my list of priorities.
My chosen blog topic wasn’t the make money online ones (thankfully on hindsight). I was still floundering around. I disliked writing essays when schooling and had to accept that I had to write stuff regularly *urgh*. I was just browsing around doing research, when I happened on this Australian blogger Yaro Starak. He was starting a blog mentoring program, Blog Mastermind, teaching people how to blog and earn enough for a comfortable lifestyle.
One of the good points I learnt from the seminars was, I needed to invest in my education. After the $500 product purchase, Yaro’s program looked cheap in comparison. So I joined. Not before reading his long sales page though. If I was going to learn anything, I might as well have a look at how sales pages were written.
His program is great! I learnt loads from that program. I’m a beginning blogger and businessman, remember? A couple of weeks in, I finally decided on my focus: programming. It’s not the most profitable niche, but it’s the topic I’m really good at and passionate about.
From the seminars, WordPress was strongly recommended as a blogging platform. Yaro recommended it too. Luckily, I was already using it. If you’re not on WordPress, or considering a move, take a look at Injader. It’s written by Ben Barden, and it’s got lots of easy to use features. It’s also free! You can’t beat this price…
So from Yaro’s program, I learnt about marketing myself and my blog. Which was hard, considering I’m generally an introvert. Many things require me to sell myself anyway (asking for raise, promoting proposals), so this was practice. Blog carnivals? No programming related ones. Start one? Too much effort, too little time. Blog networks? None of significant repute willing to take me in, a small time blog (although now I’m in Alltop). But I plodded on. I learnt more about creating online businesses, which was fun.
Join and participate in discussion forums? Hmm… and I found Dream In Code. Very awesome, great programmers, fun people. Check it out. I was itching to help with programming questions anyway. My handle is orcasquall.
RSS out of hand
I read more blogs, and started subscribing to blogs. Blogs related to programming, such as The Daily WTF, Coding Horror, Joel On Software and The Old New Thing (Raymond Chen). Funny thing about Raymond’s blog. He writes about Windows development, I don’t do any Windows development yet I continue to read. I think it’s his style of writing, and his sometimes resigned tone of voice as in “why do people do such egregious coding?”. I can so totally relate…
I also thought maybe I’d try out technological blogs too, since it’s sort of related to my field. So I subscribed to TechCrunch. Big mistake. I caved after my unread RSS feed items climbed above 50 within a day (including my existing ones). I thought Lifehacker, a self improvement site might be ok. Another gargantuan mistake. I unsubscribed after scrolling through the items without reading for the umpteenth time.
Then came BlogRush. That seemed interesting and effortless. It eventually didn’t quite live up to it’s promised results, but it was fine. Another lesson learnt.
Then came Entrecard. I get to play with being an advertiser and take on advertisers? Cool, even if it’s with play credits. I might as well learn to deal with advertisers, hopefully practising for the real deal.
For some reason, I couldn’t find any programming blogs with, shall we say, a lower priority on the make money online part. In the Blog Mastermind lessons, I was instructed to approach bloggers on a similar level to mine. Basically a blogger with a huge following would generally ignore a fly blogger like me. Where was I to find programmers with a blog of similar size to mine? That was a challenge.
Still, with Entrecard, I found lots of interesting sites and people, some of whom were even passionate about their non-make-money-online topic. Shocking I know. Slowly, I found interesting people, much more and much faster than I would in real life. I don’t know, I start on Gaussian elimination or the finer points of string manipulation and people start nodding their heads. In stupor.
- Scott Beale from Laughing Squid. I knew about Laughing Squid as a hosting provider, but didn’t know he had a separate site too. If you’re an artist or writer, check out his “starving artist” discount.
- James Chartrand and Harrison McLeod from Mens with Pens. They’re the ones behind Escaping Reality and Capturing Fantasy. I actually prefer rolling dice… Dungeons and Dragons anyone?
- Adrian Corscadden. I haven’t met a person who could differentiate between a theory and a hypothesis for a long time…
- Brent Diggs from Ominous Comma. If you’re one of the 75% of the Internet audience who have an Iron Maiden deficiency, you know who to call for… Not Dr Toboggans hopefully.
- Ken Armstrong, with his vividly described and unexpectedly funny ending of Aliens movie night out.
Ever since I started blogging, I am even more supportive of some sites. Please go download Paint.NET, and put away Photoshop or even Paint *urgh*. Please also go visit demoscene resources pouet, scene.org and Nectarine (demoscene music).
Ultimately, blogging made me a better programmer, because I’m forced to challenge some of my internal understanding. I had to think about the concept before I could write about it. Helping with programming questions in forums forced me to explain concepts and terms in easier to understand language. Plus blogging related activities are fun sometimes.
I’ve also decided in this most special of months to join … Twitter. I know, I can’t believe it either. How would I ever squeeze my thoughts into 140 characters? *smile* Follow me on http://twitter.com/orcasquall. Social media and software is going to be important. If I’m to understand it, I’d better be part of it too.
So if you’re a programmer, or you know someone who’s a programmer, please ask that person to start writing. The best ideas in the world are useless if they’re kept locked up in that genius mind.