I’ll admit it. My primary motivation in writing this blog is to generate interest and perhaps, cultivate a following.
Is that so wrong?
Actually, that’s not true. I have secondary and tertiary reasons as well, and they change depending on the day. There is that whole building a business with no cash thing and satisfying my need to write on a regular basis while trying to make myself attractive for freelancing gigs.
Today, as I notice that there are only two posts on this blog, it’s the cultivating a following thing.
As of the time of this post, it is the beginning of December, 2014. That means in a couple of weeks, it will be exactly one year that I have been unemployed. It has taken me almost as long to come to terms with making the choice to work for myself. I would apply to the scant offerings in the paper, but hope would wane as the opportunities would become thinner and thinner. In a town where there’s very little work to begin with, no one is going to hire a guy in his forties who has no professional experience in…well…anything. The choice was made out of necessity; either beat my head against a wall some more (apply for jobs I have no experience in), or pull myself up by my bootstraps (do something different) and get it done the old fashioned way.
Since before 2007, I have been a curator and proprietor of another blog. It’s mostly just me rambling about nothing in particular, with no mission statement in particular. It wasn’t until about July of last year where I started to concern myself with matters involving SEO, branding, and just generally making a name for myself. I had no idea how to go about doing it. I had no product to market, no book to sell, no great insight to impart, I had nothing that I could polish off and call my own.
The only thing I did have was my blog…and it
looked ugly could use some attention.
With my first blog, my intention was to never sell. At first, it was all about clearing out space in my head and getting it all out on a page. Then, when the comments and views started rolling in, its purpose was to entertain, inform, influence. I’m more of a storyteller than “Salesman of the Year”. Besides, my reward was paid in comments…I would like it to be paid in gigs and ad revenue, but that’s another matter for another blog. This was the only thing I could offer the world, and at the time, it wasn’t very user friendly. It was plain, blog only and not much on the periphery. There were hardly any widgets nothing on the page to make it “sticky”; making the post attractive enough for readers to stay on the page. No pictures or anything visually stimulating. It was boring to look at, my words could have come from all the Divine mouths in the known universe, and it still would have been regarded as interesting as top soil because it was so dull. So, on came the widgets (the useful ones), and links to communities on g+, and well…why not? Let’s add a few more pages as well. Let’s make this place look professional! Let’s make this place look important! Let’s make this place look more like a home, because after all, I would be spending a lot of time in there, and if that be the case, I would rather make my home a place I’d like to live in.
After cleaning up, rearranging and giving it a good polish, it still looked….boring… Thank goodness for my trusty copy of Photoshop that I…barely knew how to use.
Anyway, I started noticing headers. Those things at the top of a web page? I never paid attention to them before, but after an attitude adjustment, I noticed that the better looking a header was, the longer I lingered. Its a crucial detail and it speaks volumes as to how serious we, as readers, should take you. It doesn’t have to be over the top with bells and whistles, it just has to project that what you have to offer is real, usable, tangible, relatable. It has to set the mood.
It has to sell…
My header had none of these attributes. In fact, it had no attributes whatsoever. Not even a different font. I only used what was offered as far as the Blogger templates went and called it good. Of course, I wasn’t as serious about my brand, my product as I should have been up until that point anyway. So started the mini quest to find the right tutorial to help me construct the perfect header.
Several Google searches later, I came across this tutorial. It was perfect. The style of the finished product was dynamic, dramatic, eye-catching, memorable. That it was made for a novice also helped in the decision making process. “Beginner? This’ll be a sinch!” said the guy with around an hour and a half total of Photoshop experience under his belt.
Time constrains are a nuisance. What should have taken me a few hours took me the better part of a week. Around this time, I was still working. On top of this, there were children to take care of and chores to be done…not to mention the fact that I kinda didn’t know what I was doing.
In less than a week, I came up with my own interpretation…
Less than a week.
If I were doing this professionally at this point, I’d be sunk. Sure, it looks pretty, but it took me longer than I wanted to spend on it. The point is that this was my first project. I could have started with something a little more my speed like adding text to a photo, but I wanted to take this out for a spin to see what it…see what I can do. And by “take it for a spin” I mean taking out my dad’s “3 on the tree” Chevy pickup truck to an abandoned parking lot at night and learning how to drive stick.
The point is that in order for me to overcome and succeed, I have to do things that are just a little bit beyond my skill set. I have to do it this way to have a skill set. The point is that I have chosen to live in this world, so I’d better start learning the language. The point is that it’s over a year later, and I am nowhere near the level that I want to be.
I hope that I never will be.
I hope that I am always striving; moving forward. I hope that when the project is done that I may enjoy it for a few moments, and then refuse to be satisfied with it.
I’m not making excuses, I’m happy with what I do. I know I can always do better, and I always look for that next thing that’s just beyond my reach. This is what I do now. I write, I design, I learn…