Hello! This post is a progress report, details of my endeavours elsewhere, talk of running a blog for profit, considering other ventures, a call out to any frustrated would-be entrepreneurs, and a request to those of you following the blog/on the mailing list.
What I’ve Been Up To
It’s been a while since I paid the world of wordpress.com any attention, with good reason, but it’s still a shame. All my efforts have been going into my other site over at TravelUnmasked.com, so I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs!
I originally made the move over to wordpress.org to take advantage of the bigger range of customisations you can make to a site, adding lots of functions (by way of simple plugins) that wordpress.com hadn’t got round to making available. However, in the last few months, the pests at wordpress.com (love you really!) have been on a mission and belted out a tonne of improvements! They’ve released almost everything that I went to wordpress.org looking for, like better galleries, sliders, social media links, and not forgetting they have released bucket loads of new free themes. They have also been busy providing wordpress.org users with more features that were previously only available on wordpress.com, by way of their Jetpack module, which is some consolation.
Fact is, I’ve spent more time since ~February 2012 dealing with hosting, plugins, installations, conflicts, updates, and configurations than anything else I’ve done online. Possibly even more than anything I have done offline too, including the 25,000+ photo’s and few hundred hours of video I’ve captured in 20+ countries! So my advice to anyone wondering which way to go with a blog… unless you have a burning desire to understand how to use File Transfer Protocol to edit lines of code and the permissions of your server’s .htaccess file because anyone trying to comment on your site is getting a 403 error (my most recent baffling hurdle), then maybe leave your site on WordPress.com or wherever until moving it warrants paying a professional to manage it for you. Adding further weight to that arguement, I’ve even had to pay for lots of costs using wordpress.org for the pleasure of the ordeal!
They say content is king. It is. Focus on that.
The winter season for me is going to be all about taking my own advice for a change. I got back to the UK in mid-October and I’m staying put now until I’m ready to move on again. Why? To create lots of quality content. Almost a year of travel and photography has left me with the burning desire to justify calling myself a blogger by putting stuff out there. It’s also part of treating blogging as a business, i.e. getting paid for it. The business of blogging, which I’m not going to go into properly now (I have a war-and-peace draft post on it that needs scrapping and starting again), has some simple requirements. You exchange what you have, for what somebody else has. The blogger aims to have an audience mainly, be it social media channels or site traffic, and usually both. The other party might have accomodation, food, expenses, products, or… the holy grail… real actually-goes-into-the-bank-account cash!
So the art of blogging is finding your audience. And the business of blogging is making money with it.
And yet, I’m still not convinced that blogging is the business for me. It requires a grenade in the starfish to get me highly motivated enough to put all my energy into something. So while I plan to continue blogging for my own pleasure, for documenting my journies, and because one day I’d like to get paid to photograph and write, I’m not sure it’s the business I want to run for the next 10 years. However, it does have other benefits too – like being mobile, and being a great platform for opening other doors with. And that’s what I’m in it for really, because it might help to start the real world business that I do choose.
I’d say I get struck by a genuinely great idea with the potential for turning into a successful business 3 or 4 times a year. I have at least a new idea for everyday of the year on average, but only occasionally do I know it is something more than just a spark of creativity. That’s part of the reason I’m being so damn fussy in choosing a business to start. The other reason is fear of the great unknown, and knowing how much work it takes to make any new business successful. My main fear is that the business I pick might not be ‘the one’. I know, it sounds like a girlfriend, but honestly, you can expect to spend more time with a new business than you can expect to see your other half, therefore it’s just as important!! So I haven’t picked an idea yet because when I do choose, it necessarily excludes me from going ahead with any of the other ideas for a long while…
Of course, the world is our Oyster.
Or does starting one business really stop me? You don’t have to start a business alone. Businesses with more than one founder have a better chance of success, and more hands make lighter work, so you get more done. It’s also more fun doing things with other people, and invaluable to have someone to bounce ideas off. I’ve had my eye out for a potential business co-founder for some time, but I get the feeling that kind of partnership is more naturally fostered when you stay put in places longer than I do. But if you’ve ever fancied starting your own business and are stuck for an idea, and you’re up for getting in at the ground floor with me – drop me a line, seriously. What’s the worst that could happen by starting a conversation? And if finding a managing partner for one idea works well, maybe working on more than one business at a time is feasible too.
I’ve read plenty of business books in my time, from academic study to those ‘here’s how I did it’ success biographies, and one that generated a lot of hype is The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. His serial entrepreneurship is certainly inspiring, but he does what I tend to refer to as ‘bastardising’ everything. He finds the simplest, quickest, most successful way to sell something, staples it all together, and then steps back to watch it magically hold together. Tim knows every trick going, from marketing and SEO, to using drop-shippers and virtual assistants.
In that respect I tend to think of him like the great Henry T. Ford of the age of digital entrepreneurship. But much like Ford, who pioneered assembly lines and compartmentalising tasks, his processes completely disempower the workforce. The ruthless efficiency of his constructs leave him with a healthy profit from taking advantage of business hacks and cheap labour. It’s fair game, but not the kind of business startup I aspire to. I want to start something where the employees are the heart and soul of the business, enthusiastic about their work and enjoying a share of the profits, so that sheer human momentum will carry the business forward.
Ok, call me an idealist, I’ll let you know how I go. And is The 4-Hour Work Week worth reading? Absolutely, it’s a goldmine of practical solutions for anyone starting up.
Can I Subscribe You To Travel Unmasked?
So to come full-circle on this post, all that’s left is for me to entice you over to TravelUnmasked and make a small request to people on the ShockAndOrr mailing list. Would you mind terribly if I popped your email address into the subscribe box at the new site? Reason being I’ve decided to put everything I’m writing over there for now, despite the URL initially being intended for travel content only. At some joyous stage in the new year I will be combining ShockAndOrr with TravelUnmasked, just don’t ask me how or what it will be called. When I was writing on S&O, I felt like posts just about travel didn’t fit. And now writing about social media, or the technology of photography, or politics, doesn’t quite fit on TU either. Clearly, they need to be one site, as SAO was supposed to be from the beginning. But regardless, you can expect the same content I promised here at ShockAndOrr.
You don’t need to do anything yet, as I’ve already decided I will be putting your email in the new site anyway. All that means is you will get an email asking you to confirm the subscription, and I’ll be putting an explanatory message together for said email, with a useful link to bring you… back here, in case you missed it. 🙂 If you aren’t interested, just ignore the email and say no more. It won’t be the end of the world (ha!).
If you do subscribe to posts from me at TU, you’ll get lovely content like this straight to your inbox;
(You can easily unsubscribe at any time)
- Heading to Scotland for Hogmanay, Haggis, and Highland Hijinks
- No Photos Allowed! Rise Of The Pointless Objector
- Unsung Heroes – The Artwork Of Antony Vassulo
- 3000th Tweet: Twitter Do’s and Don’ts
- The Quickest Travel Video Competition In The World Ever, Maybe
- Haunting Figures From Japan: Shinto Shrine Guardians
And other stuff too.
Well, that’s all for now folks.
Wishing you Happy Holidays for you, yours, and everybody else’s too. Now where did I leave my sprig of Holly…