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all dem eggies in one basket

08 Dec 2013

2013-12-08 22:46:01 -0600

What I had intended to write about was my new writing tools and process.

It's still a work in progress as I had only really officially decided yesterday that I was going to change things up. Still, I thought that writing about how I was leaning might help me to further clarify to myself, what my actual needs were.

But no, I'm gonna leave that alone for the moment.

Instead, I'm going to talk about my scary day. Scary, in a first world problems sort of way. Except that it's not.

First, a confession. The core of my current income is far too fragile.

Basically, most of what I'm making right now is coming from web projects that I run, that rely on google traffic to function.

These sites are also very fragile in that they're almost entirely monetized through Google Adsense.

So, if Google drastically changes their algorithm, and my sites take a dive in traffic, I'm screwed. Or if something happens to my adsense account for whatever reason, I'm screwed.

And every day, I'm paranoid that it's all about to end. And really, it's not paranoia, because even getting into this, I was already hearing all of the horror stories about people who had lost their organic-traffic-built empires overnight because of the algorithm updates.

Ergo, this stuff was never intended to be the majority of my income, but instead something supplemental. Something that could be lost without taking me down with it.

Really, what I've wanted to do from the beginning is to have a direct-pay project. And by that I mean, instead of indirect ways of monetization like adsense or Amazon's affiliate program, I want something where people pay me directly for a thing or a service. But, there's a problem.

I have a problem asking for money.

That's how it feels. I had no problem asking for money from employers (though I did always suck at negotiating an initial offer) because that was expected. But past that, it just didn't feel right. And in a bizarre way, it was unfortunate that I was so comfortable financially at my jobs, because I was never hungry enough outside of work to do anything other than work for free. That's not to say that I was working an incredible amount for free, it's just that I'd work on passion projects of my own, or I'd help people out here and there for free, because I didn't need the money.

I need the money now.

Plus, there's just the fact of, how am I ever going to be truly successful being in business for myself if I don't ever get over this hangup?

So, what happened today?

Today's earnings were cut in half.

See, the thing I'm very cognizant about is not that any particular day means it's the end of the world, but any big drop might mean the beginning of the end.

Today felt like the beginning of the end.

Except that it might not have been as fatal as I was thinking.

After seeing disappointing numbers anytime I'd check today, I suddenly saw a decent increase in the span of one hour. Far more of an increase in both traffic and earnings than should've been possible in one hour. So I was already suspicious that the system might be delayed. And finally I am seeing a message about the data in the reports being delayed. In my experience, I generally see a message like that before I'm personally aware that there seems to be an awkward drop occurring.

Now of course, the reports might not be all that delayed (like what counts as a delay, 15 minutes? an hour? more?), but I can say this: as of now, the day still sucks in my eyes, but it's not as fatal as it was initially feeling before I saw the large jump.

But it all brings me back to this.

what I really really want

I need a direct pay project. Basically, my goal is to come up with a project where I can pay for traffic and still make it profitable.

Obviously it's lovely to find something where google sends you traffic for free, but that's too scary. I want to know that if google enacts some big algorithm change (which they continue to do, so it's not like this is a theoretical), I want assurance that my project can keep on ticking just so long as I keep pumping money into that magic adwords box.

But I'm stuck on what to do.

I have several user-account-site type ideas, but I've never put together anything of the sort. I have no idea how to do user accounts, I have no idea how to do payment integration. It's all a big and scary box to me. And what's funny is that this problem has been solved technically, time and time again. Shouldn't there be a dummy proof solution?

Of course, that probably does exist. And it probably exists in PHP. And I refuse to touch PHP. Technically, I hang out in that limbo zone where I have enough smarts to know that I don't want to be anywhere near solution X because it drives me nuts as a programmer, but that I'm too dumb to implement what I need in my preferred working environment.

So there's that.

The easier thing would be to make a pay-for digital product and sell it on gumroad or something of the sort. But frankly, I have no ideas for ebooks or anything else that I could sell.

So I'm stuck.

So basically I'm screwed because I'm stuck technically and I'm stuck mentally. If I didn't have the hang up about "asking" for money, I'd probably just buckle down and figure out a stupid authentication system. And if I had already implemented a bunch of authentication systems and payment integrations, I'd be like, "it's cool, let's just try this and see what happens".

Like me and todo lists and yak shaving. The kind of yak shaving that I heard about from Seth Godin originally. I just feel like I'm so likely to get stuck any time that one task depends on another. And ten times as likely to get stuck on something if one of those dependent tasks makes me a little anxious.

So yeah. I'm stuck.

All I can do is hope that today wasn't indicative of future days.

Hell, even stagnating makes me nervous at this point.

I just wish I could figure out what to do. Frankly, the idea is unimportant. What's important is that I implement anything basically because then I will have figured out the system. Doing so will open the doors for me to try other business ideas in pursuit of finding one that actually makes money.

Instead of sitting here freaking out about all of the logistics of implementation.

And whether this is the beginning of the end.