Starting from square one is a confusing place to be. I was there a few months ago, staring at a blank sheet of paper wanting to relaunch online and get back to work.
Here's my thoughts on that first "blank sheet of paper" day...
I need to build an email subscriber list that I can mail offers to so I need an auto-responder but I can't mail my email list until I have subscribers so I need a website to build my list, I don't have a website so I need to build one of those too but I don't have a webhost so I need to get one of those as well so I'll start there, get a webhost!
$50 monthly for a reliable webhost, got it!
WordPress is free, so I install that for content management but I need a theme to make it look nice so that it sells stuff. What the heck is the best converting look for content this year? I've got no friggin clue...
So I look at what the big content providers are doing right now for inspiration.
My browser is Firefox and they have these interesting articles on every tab I open so I add that to my "perfect content system" swipe file.
There's lots of content articles from different sites and they seem to be using a similar formula for content presentation. I wonder who else is doing content like this? Hmmmm...
Medium.com seems to be doing content well and using the same format on it's posts except their posts look more storyish and not so bloggy.
I also like how they note story read times. I dig that, add that to the swipe file. Definitely something to keep in mind...
There's a million WordPress themes out there so it's gonna' to take hours to pick the perfect one and it'll cost me at least $50. Who knows if this will actually work?
The world is searching the web from mobile now and that's a growing trend that won't stop until the whole world is mobile so my new site needs to be mobile first. That's non-negotiable and on the "must have" list.
Amazon is worldwide, smartphones are worldwide and the internet is accessible from a lot of remote places in the world. This is the time to be mobile first and light weight as possible so page load times are a priority.
WordPress is SO code heavy for a mobile first content system and that WILL bog down load times, the complete opposite of a "mobile first" approach.
We need a light weight solution for a WordPress theme so I find one that claims to be "mobile first" although I know how code heavy WordPress is but we need it so out goes $50 and I have some crazy ass theme with a million options and drag and drop and it looks not as awesome as the demo version because I can't figure out how to cobble it all together in a few short hours.
This is gonna take all day and I can feel the time squeeze in my chest.
This sucks and I can only think that it shouldn't have to suck to do this.
Now I'm locked into $50 monthly to keep my site up on a reliable webhost and $50 for the WordPress theme so $100 in the hole so far this month and $50 more for the webhost coming every month after that.
How can I email my list? I can't send thousands of emails through my free gmail account so I need an auto responder like Aweber to store all my valuable emails and reliably send them my offers. So I sign up for a new auto responder starting at $50 billed every month.
$150 invested so far this month plus $100 monthly carrying costs is our tally. It's time to send traffic but we're not talking about sending traffic in this article.
Holy cow, I realize that I'm getting on the same hamster wheel that I was on before because that seemed like the the best option.
My most basic goal is write and monetize content. That's it. Not build a full affiliate tech stack.
I wondered why was I feeling tight in my chest thinking about putting all this together.
I'm a tech guy, I can do this and have done it dozens of times over the last 10 years but I still hated the idea of it all.
Then I realized that I simply didn't WANT to put it all together again just to get back to where I was.
That's why I was all tight in my chest again, deep down I hated that whole affiliate tech stack because as easy as everyone says it is, it still sucks to set up and maintain, plus there are traps that can get you stuck for hours trying to get resolved so the whole stack works well together.
I can't imagine what a first timer feels just trying to comprehend all the moving parts, not to mention making it all work together before seeing a single penny of return months or years from now.
There should be a better, simpler way to publish and monetize content and that's where I'm writing and publishing this story from today. The software project is called El Hefe and I'll be writing about it over the coming months.
~ Corey Bornmann