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The More Things Change…

Full Circle…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).Old Tidbits

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 CircleSneak Peek at Tidbits

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.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • cashflowmantra December 12, 2011, 9:02 am

    Learning and the ability to adapt is what makes survivors in business and life. You are a survivor. I like your word for 2012. It makes sense.

  • Crystal December 12, 2011, 11:02 am

    Focus and then sustainability – I love tagging along on your journey, Felicia! Tidbits is where I visited you first and then got to know you here on NJFM. I’m looking forward to seeing your improvements to Tidbits.

  • Syn December 12, 2011, 12:41 pm

    I have a playground site that I started on Ning about 3 years ago and then switched to self-hosted Wordpress last year when Ning stopped being free.

    Google doesn’t recognize my site at all, really, despite being all original content. Now, I did allow my content to be distributed through feeds in certain directories for traffic purposes (and posted the same articles in my name on AC and Yahoo Shine) so maybe that hurt me because it looked liked duplicate content.

    Now, all the duplicates are gone/deleted from the web as far as I can tell, but Google still doesn’t recognize me. Guess it will take time.

    To be honest, maybe it’s also because I’m just learning to monetize. I swear I only started using tags and specific keywords two months ago (SMH).

    So, I’m revamping that site too, not confident I know what I’m doing.

    P.S. Your line about Digg scared me. How do you NOT spam Digg or social media? I use social media solely to post links to my new articles. Is this dangerous?

    • Felicia December 12, 2011, 1:24 pm

      Syn, back when I got banned, I was adding new content to my sites daily. I think the fact that I posted so many new articles on Digg without being truly social did it.

      When I was kicked to the curb I contacted them because I didn’t understand why I was banned. They advised that although my content was not promotional in any way, it was because I did nothing but post my own content. So, I learned the hard way (a newbie mistake).

      I no longer use such methods for traffic anymore. If any of my articles are Dugg or Stumbled, it’s not because I Dugg or Stumbled them. No sense in getting banned by more than one social networking site. 🙂

  • Deanna December 12, 2011, 1:16 pm

    Felicia – I think going full circle is a positive thing (as I think you believe also) because sometimes you do have to revisit the past to move on to the future. Isn’t it wonderful that you are able to take a site that, at times, has been good to you and give it a new face and new life? Think of how great the site will be going forward when you are done. I’m sure you will end up with an even better, successful site. 🙂

    • Felicia December 12, 2011, 1:25 pm

      I hope so, Deanna. Even if it’s a flop, I’m having a grand time revamping the flop. 🙂

      • Deanna December 13, 2011, 2:09 am

        Oh, I think you are beyond flopping by now, don’t you? 😉

  • CNW December 13, 2011, 5:49 am

    2011 started off rocky for me after an impressive 2010. “Real life” took precedence this year and impacted my online activities. I really hope I can make 2012 my “focus” year.

    • Felicia December 13, 2011, 11:29 am

      I know how real life can sidetrack online activities. Hopefully 2012 will work out better for you.

  • Edward G Gordon December 13, 2011, 6:03 am

    Brilliant Felicia, you learn, you teach and hopefully we don’t make the same mistakes. (Only we do, lol)

    I had some luck recently – found a site called the wayback machine – it had all my old articles on it. At first it was phew, isn’t that lucky, but when I read them again most where so out of date as to be unusable.

    Note to self: create more evergreen posts and articles.

    I guess I learned something in 2011 too.

    Cheers Felicia, I’ll make sure to drop in again over the holidays.

    PS, I’m glad you like Wordpress as I think it’s one of the best blogging tools out there.

  • Gip @ So Much More Life December 13, 2011, 9:49 am

    Having an online playground is essential, and I have a couple of them. I learned whatever I know from them.

    I focused on focus in 2011 also, and it worked pretty well. I have a very long way to go, but the doors are open on some of most important paths and closed on the useless ones. That’s focus.

    Sustainability might be a good 2012 focus for me too.


    • Felicia December 13, 2011, 11:33 am

      Awesome, Gip. I like the fact that you closed doors to useless paths. If only we all could learn to do that and not waste time on paths leading us in the wrong direction.

      Here’s to a sustainable 2012!

  • Ken Muise December 13, 2011, 1:36 pm

    Good stuff, per usual. I think my word for ’12 will be “growth”. I’m going to find a positive, consistent stream of decent revenue so that I can concentrate on building more. I want to grow…

    I like TidBits. Every time I visit it I find something new and completely unique.

    Felicia, your cup runneth over with talent, determination and positive thinking. You’re a role model. I was actually talking about you to my wife the other day and she stopped at one point and said, “Wait…who is this girl?” LOL…I had to assure that you were jut a blogging friend that I met online.

    Thanks for being you and, oh…by the way…the Pats are gonna’ finish 13-3.

    Peace, Love and Hummus!


    • Felicia December 14, 2011, 7:10 am

      LOL! If your wife only knew. She’s very generous in calling me “girl.”

      My husband gets a quick lowdown on folks when I mention you guys to him. He knows you as the Patriots fan. I had to differentiate you from the other Ken over at The Freelancer Today.

      Your Pats have a good record, much better than the Giants. Oh well, football is football. You win some and lose some.

  • Shelley December 14, 2011, 8:42 am

    After reading all the comments, I realize just how much there is to learn. What I like about you, Felicia, is I don’t have to visit half a dozen sites to gain as much knowledge as I glean staying right here.

    I’m wondering if the automatic Twitter blog feed is such a good thing, if it’s not overkill in some way. I do engage socially by reading, commenting, and sharing on a regular basis.

    One more thing. I’ve always wanted to create my own site, but it’s so intimidating. I’ve been to some sites that teach you how to code, but maybe I should try, again. Felicia, you make everything seem so do-able.

    BTW, I’m still employed through Elance and it looks though I might be doing more work for this company. Thank you, again, for all you do.

    • Felicia December 15, 2011, 7:54 am

      Shelley, I’m the worst when it comes to Twitter. Some time ago I enabled an auto feed where my posts are automatically tweeted. That’s about the extent of my Twitter involvement.

      Actually, I forgot about the feed until you mentioned it.

      Regarding coding, I don’t think it’s as necessary now as it was when I first got started, but learning some code won’t hurt. My coding knowledge got me out of a lot of online formatting jams.

      Congrats on your Elance success.

  • Jenny December 19, 2011, 11:38 pm

    Felicia, I just wanted to drop a note to tell you how very much I have enjoyed discovering your website here. You have a voice that is friendly, insightful, and down to earth. I have spent the past two years planning for what is next in my life when I retire from teaching at the end of January. I love photography and writing and hope to make enough income from these interests to avoid having to take on another full time job. Your website has given me so much inspiration and reassurance that I’m not crazy or misguided in believing I can be successful online and tie my two passions into an online presence that is financially beneficial. I’m so glad I came across your site today. Best wishes for continued success in your endeavors! BTW the only on-line money I’ve made so far have been through my photography website and with Demand Studios last summer, and they have totally changed, so I don’t know that I will go back once I have more time to write.

    • Felicia December 20, 2011, 7:13 am

      Welcome to NJFM, Jenny.

      The one thing I’ve discovered with online writing is that anything is possible. If your desire is to earn money online from your two loves, photography and writing, then go for it. It is absolutely possible.

      Once you get things going, please check back and share your progress with us.

  • Ivin Viljoen December 23, 2011, 4:59 am

    Hi Felicia,

    I just wanted to say, that hear your heart. I have found myself stuck in the ruts of life many times, giving my full effort, relying on the strength of my arm. Only to have made an improvement at the later end of the day. And find out it was attributed to an increase in knowledge.


  • Chris December 27, 2011, 9:54 am

    Thank you for such great information. This one give me more strategies on how to be more productive this coming 2012. Very inspiring one.Looking forward for your journey, Felicia!

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