Does Being a Webmaster Make You Bitter? Rake The Zen Garden

Written On Day: 326
Raking Sand Zen Garden

Like a green oasis in the desert, a life giving miracle has appeared.  This website is making a profit.  Finally after 320 days this website has incurred $538.23 in costs and made $544.71 in revenue – revenue is a bigger number then the costs number.  That is a cool $6.48 that goes straight into my pocket.  A crisp five dollar bill and some jingling change.

Of course $6.48 is a lot less then the $10,000 I was hoping to have.  But I take is a learning experience.  I have no other choice, the only other thing I can take it as is a total failure; so in this case I am choosing optimism over the truth.  I learned that my expectation was way to high.  I year ago I thought that in 320 days I would be drinking hundred dollar wine and deciding between a red or black corvette.  Instead, I have made just enough money to buy a coffee and ride the bus.

Bitter?  Yep.  Basically I got ripped off.  I have put in 494 hours of work and received a meager $6.48.  This is criminal – a scam.  A rational human being would never accept these terms.  The only way a person could end up in this situation is by force or trickery.   In my case it was not force – nobody made me make a website.  I chose to make a website.  I chose to build a website because I believed that I would get paid fairly for my efforts.   

Who knows how I fell for it.  Or who did it to me.  Or how they benefit.  It is like the Kennedy assassination – the deeper you look the more mysterious it gets.  I have tried to analyze what happened, how I get duped, where did it all start.  My investigations have led nowhere.  Somehow I believed that the internet would be a great source of income.  I have no idea who did this to me.  But to keep my sanity I have stopped asking who and why.  Kennedy is dead and the circumstances around it strange – period.  I spent 494 hours to get $6.48 – period. 

What To Do With The Bitterness?

Being bitter raises an interesting problem for a webmaster.  There is no way to vent or redirect negative feelings.  At the work place it is easy to redirect bitterness. 

Let’s say you do not get the bonus you expected.  No problem.  Do not buy toilet paper, pens, calculators, or coffee – the office will supply you with these.  Take one or two items a day.  It’s not stealing, it is your bonus.  You can come to work a little later, have a longer lunch, leave a little earlier.  Its is not abuse, it is your bonus.  One way or another you will get your bonus.

Boss does not appreciate your work?  You work over the weekend to get the report on the boss’s desk first thing Monday morning and all you get is a ‘great – thanks’.  No problem.   Monday and Tuesday you play solitaire and browse your favorite websites with a clear conscience because you are simply recouping your weekend.

Having a bad day at work:  Co-worker talking in your ear about her stupid domestic issues?  Crappy computer crashes?  Client upsetting you with unrealistic demands?  Phone keeps ringing?  No problem.  Hit the keyboard a few times, open and close the laptop monitor many times and really fast, hang up the phone extra hard, start a dirty rumor about your co-worker and give her real domestic issues.

That’s what so great about the work environment.  You get bitter and upset, but at least there is something you can do to vent.  The workplace offers many ways to redirect that bitterness onto other people and office equipment.

Sadly a webmaster has no such luxury.  A webmaster works alone and with their own equipment.  Nothing to steal, nothing to hit, nobody to bad mouth.  Something goes wrong and all you can do is sit there and stew.  You could hit the keyboard but then you need to buy a new one.  You could have a longer lunch but then you will have to make it up later.  You could yell at the dog but he will just wag his tail and want to play catch.

Like a egg, a webmaster can only boil in their pot and harden.

Raking The Sand

The other day I was browsing Amazon for something to spend my $6.48 on.  I quickly discovered that I have enough money to pay for shipping but not enough for the product.  So I went to the only place where I can spend my website profits – the dollar store.

The pin wheel hat was too tight and the plastic gun did not look real.  But then I saw it.  As soon I as I tried it I knew it was exactly what I needed.  It is a simple thing.  Sand, rock and a rake – a mini zen garden.

Now it sits beside my computer.  Before I check my stats I pick up the rake with my left hand and begin to slide it across the sand.  It has a calming effect.  Little rocks are placed randomly in the sand so I rake around them.  The four little lines in the sand twist and turn around the rocks and relax me as I check my revenue stats.  Monks have zen gardens to bring them closer to nirvana.  I have my little zen garden to avoid destroying my own keyboard.

My zen garden has taught me something else.  Just because I spend lots of time on my website and receive almost nothing in monetary return, does not mean my time is wasted.  Now I know that there are even bigger wastes of time possible – like raking sand around little rocks.  This calms me and the bitterness floats away.

I strongly recommend that you purchase a zen garden.  It will really help you as webmaster and make you gentler and kinder blogger.

If 26 of you buy the zen garden via the Amazon link above then I will earn $6.50 from Amazon – almost doubling my annual profits.  I am raking with my left hand and pecking the keyboard with my right.

  1. November 24th, 2009 at 11:08 | #1

    Interesting read, but I must say 320 days without making any real profit should get you thinking. Zen and relaxing is great, but did you ever thought about changing your approach, exploring other ways of making money on the internet? Is this the only web site you have? Is this the only way you hope to make money with? If you don’t change something in your approach to make money online, I fear the next 320 days will not bring you more income! If something doesn’t work out, fine, learn and try to adjust, SY

  2. roman
    November 24th, 2009 at 20:53 | #2

    @hospitalera
    Hello hospitalera,

    If there a rub, you found it. It is a question I struggle with all the time. How do I know when it is time to quit?

    Get quick schemes tell me it should take 1 week to make my first $1000 online. While other more reputable sources tell me that it takes years. Since I do not have the $19.99 to buy the get quick rich ebooks I am forced to believe the reputable sources.

    If I were to open a restaurant I would not expect any profits for at least a year. You need time for the word to spread, for the business to grow, for the cook to perfect his recipes. Nothing happens overnight except winning the lottery and conception.

    So, although I bitch in this post, I still am not ready to give up. What keeps me going is seeing steady growth. Month by month things get better. When that stops, I stop. Till then I will stand at the door and beg people to visit my restaurant.

  3. November 25th, 2009 at 09:45 | #3

    @Roman
    First tip: To get your visitors to come back, provide something on the lines of “subscribe to receive an email if somebody answered to your comment” Nearly forgot to check back here 😉

    I am not speaking about quitting, I am speaking about adjusting your business plan, evaluating what works and what doesn’t and to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. And yes, you are right, there are no quick rick schemes on the internet, only for the ones that sell them 😉

    I like your restaurant analogy, see it like this:
    If you have a menu, you will evaluate which dishes sell and which not and take the ones that don’t sell from the menu, correct? Making money on the internet is a bit the same, our “menu” contains niche web sites, blogs, affiliate products etc etc. Not all guests / visitors to a site are the same and so we have to adjust our menu to their taste.

    😉 SY

  4. November 26th, 2009 at 16:51 | #4

    Hello!
    I am a regular reader of your blog and find it very interesting! I have even bookmarked your site and make it a point to visit it once or twice a week looking for new posts.

    A suggestion is to at least provide a subscribe form from Google feedburner so that people do get notified when you write down a new post. I am sure there are many readers like me who like your site but forgot to bookmark it and then its lost. Also I think you have many silent readers..make them speak out and connect with them. The only drawback i see with your website is that it does not seem to be that interactive! maybe you can add a follow me twitter plugin as well.

    Even I am a starter in this field and made a blog for myself..actually I have two..one related to make money online and the other one is documenting my prep for United States Medical Licensing Examination (i am a doc from india). What I learned nurturing those blogs is that its much easier if you not in “money making niche” coz competition is so hard there..other niches(micro niches) like USMLE is much easier to get traffic and good ranking..Further its hard for me to keep posting on both the blogs!! so now i think if i made a mistake?? well..even I am not willing to give up :)

    Cheers

  5. November 26th, 2009 at 16:52 | #5

    Just noticed that you do have subscription option..my bad but maybe it is not visible enough :)

  6. roman
    November 26th, 2009 at 17:31 | #6

    I thought there was a RSS feed for the comments. I have never tried it so do not know if it works. I guess I will have to try it.

    Even with your elaboration on the restaurant analogy I am still left with the same problem. I do not know how long to keep something on the menu. How long till I can declare it a failure. True, I can try other things – but time is limited. I am the only cheif and so only have time to cook a limited amount of items.

  7. November 26th, 2009 at 18:28 | #7

    When to quit depends on your focus. I’ve heard many experienced marketers say they’ve seen many a beginner quit too soon.

    That being said,since you brought up the subject of Zen, I’ll bring up the subject of psychology. If your focus is to make money, you can either quit any time or change what you are doing.

    If your focus is to help others see what does and doesn’t work and why, then you currently have the wrong focus. If money is your goal, you’ll never be satisfied, if helping people is your goal, you’ll rarely be unsatisfied.

    With all that stuff out of the way, back to business, how are you marketing your product? For making money, your focus needs to be driving traffic to your product, not your blog, and using the blog to add value.

    Start with something simple, the button to your product wasn’t easy for me to see even though it’s in the top right corner. I actually clicked on your “Learn How” page looking for it since that seemed to be a logical place. On blogs people often just skim the sidebar, so your product button is in the proverbial “no man’s land”.

    Personally I’d move your ad from the upper right to a banner across the top, right above the post titles.

    At the end of your posts put something like “p.s. Get your own website that makes money “.

    And put a blurb with a link about it in your “Learn How” page.

    Those are simple ways to get people to notice, or remind people, that you have a product. Beyond that, you need to drive traffic. If you haven’t yet, I’d also put a link to your product in your signature files on any forums you visit.

    Now on my blog I’m not selling my own product, so I’ve incorporated some of this stuff, but not all of this stuff. But if there was one product I was going to actively promote, those are the first things I’d do.

    No, you don’t have to listen to me, no I’m not an expert, but I do know what’s working for those who are…and using some of those techniques I’ve made more money this year than you.

    I think it’s great that you are not going to use your blog to make money, but if you’re going to make money, you need to get people to notice your product. And these are painless, subtle, yet effective ways to do it.

    – Jeffery

  8. November 27th, 2009 at 17:08 | #8

    Progress can be very slow, but it’s interesting reading your comments above. I definitely don’t think you should quit, I believe your blog has something unique to offer and as such could go much further. I do agree that you maybe should change your approach a little though. You don’t need to give up on what you’ve already been doing, but maybe try something new. The comments above are interesting, I also think maybe posting a little more often and sticking to a schedule that you set yourself could also really help :)

    I have dealt with a lot of bitter moments in my time online, but you’re right it’s all a great learning experience. Keep learning and you’ll keep improving.

  9. November 28th, 2009 at 19:07 | #9

    @roman
    Not an rss feed for comments, a “subscribe to this comment by email” option, it works wonder for participation and re-turning visitors on my blog, the plugin is located here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe-to-double-opt-in-comments/
    Hope that helps, SY

  10. roman
    December 2nd, 2009 at 09:42 | #10

    @hospitalera
    Thank you hospitalera for taking the time to send me link. I tried the plugin, but unfortunately it does not work. It claims to be compatible up to WP 2.8.5 – I have 2.8.6. Maybe it will work with the next update.

    I could try to fiddle with it and make it work. But I am not that motivated. I try to avoid plugins. The reason is an arrogant and stubborn one: minimalism. Bells and whistles are an irritating noise that I try to avoid. I prefer this blog to be simply content. How, when, and why people come to it is their business.

    The blogs I respect most are the simple ones with no comment section. These blog owners write and do not need to hear what people think about it. They write a post and expect no response – to me that is godlike.

  11. roman
    December 2nd, 2009 at 10:02 | #11

    @Jeffery Wood
    Hello Jeffery, thank you for your 417 word comment. It not too often that I see such a selfless act. You gave lots expecting little in return – at most a few visitors from this site to yours.

    What surprised me about your comment is that you put real thought into it. You actually looked around this website, thought about how it can be improved, and wrote it all down. For what? – A few visitors?

    I was bitter, but you have rounded the edges. Humanity stands a chance – people can be kind to strangers. People want to help people. There are people out there that want to make the world a better place. You spent at least 20 minutes thinking about me and how you can help. This makes me happy.

  12. December 5th, 2009 at 19:11 | #12

    I liked your story and had a good laugh about your dry style. I always laugh when I read your stories. I don’t know why. Don’t worry about money yet. You are right on track.
    It is normal to spend one year and make almost nothing. I got a very good website that is just one year old that makes just a bit more money than yours.

    Don’t give up and keep going…your style is unique.

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