Being A Webmaster Is Psychologically Challenging

Written On Day: 71

The first few months of being a webmaster are challenging. Especially psychologically. All new webmasters should be ready to deal with the following:

Silence

You pluck away for hours creating new content.  After reading it and re-reading it, adding sentences and deleting others.  Making sure every sentence flows gracefully from one to the next.  Creating perfection.  Finally it is done, your Saturday is spent, but it is done.  You post your creation online and wait. 

Nothing.  No comments.  No emails.  Like it was never written.  Like it does not exist.  Silence.  The tumbleweed rolling through a ghost town kind of silence.  The time spent trying to please the masses was for nothing.  There is nobody out there.  Like Robinson Caruso writing a beautiful story, putting it into a bottle, and throwing it out to sea.

As a new webmaster do not expect praise or feedback for your work.  Expect nothing.  Write it, post it, and then write another one. 

Zero

For the first few months expect to see a lot of the number 0.  Especially when it comes to revenue.  With so few visitors to your site, most of the time your revenue will be zero. 

Normally this means that once a day you are disappointed by seeing 0.  But you will see it more then once a day.  You will see it at least 10 times a day.  Because every free moment you have will be spent checking your revenue.  Waiting for the coffee to brew…good time to check the revenue.  A commercial on TV…good time to check the revenue.  Three o’clock in the morning coming out of the bathroom and walking past the computer…good time to check the revenue.

You will come to despise the zero.  Its size, font and color will be ingrained in your head.   $0.00.  As the revenue page is loading you will have a slight emotional high.  The expectation that maybe this time it will be some other number.  But the page loads and there it is.  $0.00.  You close the window and sigh.  For a   fleeting moment you consider the possibility that a mistake has been made.  Maybe the servers are not refreshing and the value is not being updated.  But your energy is drained – you do not care enough to do anything about it.  Acceptance comes at last – it is true. $0.00.  30 minutes later the process starts all over again.

The Unknown

Normally when you perform a task successfully the feedback is immediate.  The boss gives you a raise.  The teacher puts a big A on the test.  The dinner guests compliment your spicy spaghetti.  A website is different.  For the first few months you get no indication whether the website is good or not.  You think it is good – that is why you visit it so much.  But the real test is whether other people think it is good.  At the beginning there is no way to tell. 

For months you build with no feedback.  Similar to building a prototype machine.  Spend lots of time designing and assembling.  No way to test whether it will work.  You have to build it first.   Day in and day out you faithfully work on the prototype. Hoping that when it is complete it works.    Only then will you discover whether all that work was worth it or not.  If in the end  it works then it was time well spent.  If not, then you have to acknowledge that is was a waste of time.

Thomas Edison had the same problem.  He had no idea whether a filament exists that enables a light bulb to burn for days.  He just hoped there was.  His only option was to try as many different filaments as possible.  After trying the 500th filament he was no closer to the answer then he was after the 2nd filament.   No indication if he was on the right track or even if success is possible.  Days, weeks, months passed and he was no closer to finding out whether a filament exists.  No feedback.  Only the hope that one day he will find a working filament drove him to continue.

A webmaster must work the same way.  Not knowing whether what is being attempted will work.  Whether the website will become a success or not.  A webmaster’s motivation must simply be the hope that it will work. 
       

You Have No Idea What You Are Talking About

To have a informative website you need to know what your are doing.  You need to be a authority in the field.  But you are not.  You cannot be.  You just started your website.  Only when the website is a success and only after a few years can you claim to be an expert.  It is a catch-22.  You need to know what you are doing to become a success, but only by succeeding can you know what you are doing.

Fortunately the fact is that you do not need to know what you are doing.  You only need to appear like you know what you are doing.  All that matters is the audience believing that you have authority in your field.  It is an illusion that is not too difficult to produce.  Do your research and the audience can be convinced with ease.  Nobody will know that most of your information is coming from books and not your head. 

The real problem is that you actually do not know what you are doing.  This causes a confidence issue.  It is hard to wake up every morning with confidence in your efforts when you yourself know the truth – that you have no idea what you are doing.  Doubts begin to form about whether your website can work.  “How can I be a success, if I do know what I am talking about?”

The answer is that for all things new – for all things that where created first – like your website, the first person had no idea what they where doing either.  They were just bumbling along, making guesses, trying things.  But all along appearing to everybody else like the expert.  All creators need to sell the appearance of confidence and knowledge about their product.  And then if it works, and the product becomes a success, they become the true expert.  Just like your website.  When it becomes a success, after many years of writing about the topic and discussion, you too will be an expert.

  1. March 13th, 2009 at 15:05 | #1

    I really like your website and want to say thank you for starting this website and blog. It’s enjoyable to visit. I enjoy the upfrontness of this specific post and I regularly like to check on your site to see how you are doing as well as get ideas of strategies that work well for you. Keep it the good work and I wish you the best.

  2. March 13th, 2009 at 17:17 | #2

    Lol I laughed quite a bit reading the first half of this post.
    You were describing exactly me!

    I used to spend so much time checking Adsense stats that I didn’t have enough time for other things. Thankfully it changed by installing the Adsensor widget for Yahoo Widgets. It is a small app always in your desktop that automatically shows you how much you have made – it saves you a lot of time from logging into Adsense!

    As for silence – I agree, it is the most difficult thing to endure! Getting some comments to my posts is what keeps me going.

    PS! Gave you a thumbs up in StumbleUpon, hopefully that will get you some much needed traffic!

  3. roman
    March 14th, 2009 at 11:05 | #3

    @Roman @ Financialjesus.com
    Thanks the for thumbs up in StumbleUpon. It worked. I have received over 30 visitors from your actions. Keep up the good work!

  4. March 14th, 2009 at 17:31 | #4

    @roman
    Nice to hear that!

  5. Ericka
    March 15th, 2009 at 11:29 | #5

    There is something crisp, clean and real about your writing that I so appreciate. I am still writing the content for my site wondering if what I’m doing will interest anyone. This post inspires me to work through the impending “silence.” As I’ve been working on my site, I’ve been referring frequently to yours for advise. Thank you for making me aware of what is to come.

  6. roman
    March 16th, 2009 at 18:29 | #6

    @Ericka
    Ericka, I wish you good luck on your upcomming site. I am glad that you can extract some value from my experience.

    Yet, the funny thing is that so far this is my least silent post. So the good news is that it is not always silent – just most of the time.

  7. August 21st, 2009 at 09:32 | #7

    I love this website. I have wasted countless hours scouring the internet for information and trying to figure out whether the information out there is actually valid and helpful or just another way to make money from me, or from manipulating my actions. Ironically the only website actually giving me the information that I want is the most forthright about how it is making money from me.

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