…the more they stay the same. I’m having a full-circle moment.
Many moons ago I created my online playground, Tidbits and Stuff. You guys know the story. It was a hand-coded site, then a WordPress site, then a Joomla site and now…I’m converting it back to a WordPress site. I expect the process to take a month or two.
I learned a lot since March of 2006 when I first created the site. This site, as you know, has been beat down, picked back up and then Pandalized. It has been ignored, plagiarized and the object of constant experimentation. Tidbits has been one of my greatest teachers.
Paid to Learn
Over the years I’ve earned a bit of money from the site. Some years more money than others, but it consistently earned each month (earnings have dropped since being pawed by Panda).
When I first created the site I didn’t know I could earn money from it. It was a labor of love. Then I learned I could earn money from it and took the “let’s add as much content to the site as possible” route. Sound familiar?
To populate my site with fast content I used free article directories. Not knowing any better, I used Digg and Reddit to gain quick traffic. I was brand new back then and didn’t realize I was spamming the social media sites.
My efforts gained results. I received record traffic and my earnings increased. All was going fine until one day, while on vacation, I checked my stats and the bottom fell out. Traffic dropped and so did the income. Tidbits was nowhere to be found on Google. My heart was sick (not to mention that Digg kicked me to the curb)!
When You Know Better…
To use Maya Angelou’s phrase (as spoken several times by Oprah Winfrey), “When you know better, you’ll do better.” Now as I look back at my major blunders, I understand why Tidbits never holds on to Google favor. If I were a search engine, I would Pandalize it too.
I stopped using article directory content on the site, but I’ve got hundreds of old articles that need to be removed. Additionally, the site is visually unappealing, which brings me to another lesson: When you find a tool that works for you, work it. Become an expert on it. Spend time learning the nuances and the quirks. By mastering a tool, you’ll reduce your effort and maximize your results.
Playing with Joomla was fun, but non productive. Joomla was too much of a tool for my needs. WordPress, on the other hand, is a nice comfortable fit.
Closing the Circle
I’ve returned to my first online love and am in the process of revamping Tidbits and Stuff. The difference this time is I’m approaching it with a different philosophy. I’m applying the philosophy that I’ve been developing over the past 4 ½ years as an online writer (online writing has transformed my life in many ways).
Slow, steady and honesty wins the race. I want long-lasting results. If I had taken this approach initially, Tidbits would only need a few nips and tucks. Instead I’ve got to perform major surgery in order to transform it into the site I want. Don’t read that as a complaint. It is a learning experience and I love playing around with themes, colors, images and of course, creating content.
I’m back to where I was 4 ½ years ago; playing with a site that I created out of love and taking it to a new and improved level. If I’m lucky, I’ll have it done by January. However, with the holidays upon us February seems to be a more realistic target.
I can’t help but understand why you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The old dog has been around the block enough times to realize the tricks aren’t new. They just have a new façade. Why spend the time trying to master a new trick when the tricks only work for a short time?
In 2011 my word for the year was focus. My goal was to focus on residual income instead of up front pay. My word for 2012 is sustainability; only work on projects that have a long and enjoyable shelf life.
BTW: If you don’t have an online playground, I strongly suggest you create one. It will teach you more than any guru can.