I have been using this website as my primary blogging platform for the past 5 years, and have enjoyed it immensely and have learned a whole set of new skills and even enhanced many existing skills. It all started as a fun little side project, which I just started as a mechanism to explore a few things partially related to my day to day work, but not something I necessarily do - I wrote more about it around the time.
I never really had that much of plan, other than really to discover what are the unknown unknowns for starting and running a website or blog. Along side trying to promote my services as a contract/freelance software developer.
I really didn't have a clue about what I was doing. I also quickly found out that building websites and running websites are two completely different things, and having skills in one area doesn't always mean you're going to successful in the other.
At the time of registering the domains, I was torn between two names, that I wanted to call the website, so I went ahead and registered both. Needless to say, I went ahead with just using garywoodfine.com and parking the other domain for a few years.
Looking at the early site designs and logos I created it is clear that I had some kind of intention of building some kind of brand with blog, but no clear plan on how to do it.
The evolution of garywoodfine.com
During the course of the past 5 years, I spent quite a bit of time reading a number of books outside of my usual choice of technical focused books. I started to read and learn more about Marketing, Digital Marketing, Sales, Personal Development and Business in general. While still focusing on software development.
I have taking the opportunity to implement, test and analyse the new things I've learned from these books on this site. It's been fun.
I have tried to provide tutorials, on this site which in many respects has just been me learning stuff out loud. A majority of the blog post tutorials I have generated on this site, have just been the culmination of notes I have taken while learning something myself. In a vast majority of the cases, these are inspired by new Ideas or needs I am actually implementing for client based work, So I usually find I have to actually re-implement what I do in smaller demonstration projects.
All this usually requires vast amounts of my time, energy and even sacrifice. While all the time giving it away for free, only to rewarded when somebody actually takes the time to say thank you, or as in the vast majority of cases say absolutely nothing at all, and just become a number in the web analytics.
There is a certain fraction of the self entitled web community - that despite you put in the hours, pay for the web hosting and actually spend your money in an effort to help them to succeed - still feel that they can demand yet more. They normally just leave comments which would normally amount to just "Being a Jerk", the great thing about using Disqus as a comment platform like I do, is that you get to see their history of comments they've left on other websites, and often leave a trail of "Being a jerk" across multiple websites.
The recurring aspect, from all these self-styled experts is that they never actually seem to run or own a website of their own. Yet, they feel they have the necessary expertise to criticize others who do. It is clear that these people hate the free internet therefore must prefer to spend money on premium learning materials.
The effort of writing code tutorials
What many people don't realise is the amount of time and effort that goes into creating code tutorials. Even one of the most basic code tutorials can take me about 8-10 hours in total to produce. Which considering my hourly rate as a Software Developer is usually between Â£45 - Â£75 an hour, which just given those figures an average article would potentially cost between Â£450 - Â£750 to produce. That is just my time, then maybe you want to factor in the time and money I spend on actually hosting and maintaining the blog, then you want me to provide fully functioning code samples, in some cases videos etc. There is a a lot of effort and money that goes into making Free code tutorials.
I admit it, I do enjoy writing code tutorials and like I have said in previously in Why I blog and why you should too it is all to help pay back the debt to the community in general. When I was learning to code, and even to an extent even these days as a professional software developer I still use community driven resources to learn, understand and fix issues. I really appreciate the efforts put in by the community.
I am always reminded of a saying my Dad used to say:
You only appreciate the things you have worked or paid for, free is never appreciated until it is paid for!Graham Woodfine
To be honest, I never really understood what he meant by that a lot of the time. However, I think I understand it now!
Fun side project
One of the great aspects of being a blogger, is that I have been able to explore a number of different side projects, under the guise of learning! In fact, I have previously blogged about the importance of side projects , they are a fun way of learning cool new and interesting aspects of the technology we use day to day.
So it was, during a cold, rainy and dull November Saturday afternoon, I was sat typing some blog posts, when my 8 year old daughter asked me what I was doing. Most parents, will know when an 8 year old, starts a question there is bound to be another 100 why based to follow.
The dreaded 8 year old interrogation started when I foolishly responded that I was typing up a blog post!
I canâ€™t remember the how, but somewhere in the haze of all the Whyâ€™s I found myself starting a new side project, in assisting my daughter in starting a Kids Toys, Computer Game and Books Review blog!
Sheâ€™s the gamer of the family, and loves playing most types of games from Board games to video games. When I introduced the concept, of all the technology behind blogging and that people from all over the world could read your stuff. She was hooked, all of sudden I could see the lights switch on as she made the connection to why she was spending all that time in school learning to read and write!
It was when I told her, that people make websites and blogs from all sorts of interests and hobbies, that she asked if people made websites about games and stuff. When I showed her some examples of Video Game review sites, she decided she wanted to do it!
I made her a deal that if she would write a game review, I would create a blog for her! Well I was surprised when she fired up the family Asus Chromebook Flip and started furiously typing away! â€“ ( Well as much as an 8 year old can furiously type away)
She became consumed by writing, spending at least an hour or more dedicated to the task! The least I could was create a website for her efforts! So I started exploring some options. To see what we could do together.
Typically, for any blog type project I would just recommend to most people to use WordPress, TSO Host WordPress Hosting and be done with it. However, for this particular project I felt that this would probably be way too much, and if I was going to involved in this, I wanted to take the opportunity to learn something new myself.
During the week I read an article on Gridsome â€“ A Vue.js framework for static websites and more! and thought I sounded pretty cool! I had also read about Netlify and the JAMStack and decided that this might be a chance to further explore and play with these options.
To cut a long story short, we ended up creating the Geek.I.Am website and posting a couple of her blog posts. We had a bit of fun for a few weeks, but then Xmas came around, then a few other things and we all know the attention span of an 8 year old, running and maintaining a blog just isn't a priority.
I was therefore sat with another web property, not really doing anything. Initially I was going to just tear it down and forget about it. The trouble was, I had already spent some effort on writing a tutorial series documenting everything I had learned along the way. The tutorial series, had also started to gain some traction, with the daily visitor count increasing! It did seem to be a terrible waste to delete it!
After some deliberation, I decided to do what some in the Start-Up arena and Eric Ries in his book The Lean Start-Up would call a Pivot!
The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.
I was pretty confident that I couldn't continue writing 8 year game reviews and if I'm totally honest I'm not that interested in games. However, I do like writing code tutorials. Maybe I could maybe merge both of those worlds and build something to teach people how to code, but try build a business out of it?
I am no stranger to building businesses, I have actually built a few successful businesses in the past. Obviously not the Billion Dollar empire type businesses, honestly they have never really appealed to me, but I have built businesses that have been able to provide a more than adequate level of financial income for myself and others.
I also realise, just how much effort it is required to build a business and it is a massive commitment. However, I am one that loves a challenge. So after thinking about it for a few weeks, I have decided to give it go!
I have now started the process of building and planning the future of Geek.I.Am , it is still very early days at this stage and there is a lot of work to be done and many challenges to face. That aside the first steps have been taken!
I have also been in some discussions with other interested parties in some exciting possibilities for Geek.I.Am, but we will have to wait and see whatever they turn out into in the future!
I would stress, for at least the next 12 months or so Geek.I.Am is still going to be a Part-Time side project but will probably still consume all of my available free time!
The future of garywoodfine.com ?
This is my personal blogging site, so I am sure that it will continue to exist. I will more than likely continue to develop some free coding tutorials on this site - I will probably for the foreseeable future at least continue the Gridsome tutorial series, primarily because that is the primary platform I am building Geek.I.Am on at the moment.
However, over time I would foresee me using this as more of platform to discuss more Software Industry related topics, from my own personal perspective. I know these probably won't be as popular as my free code tutorials, but some people may still appreciate them.
I will more than likely still review some books and products I use, these also seem to growing in popularity - I use the term loosely - so I will probably focus on trying to learn and improve on those.
garywoodfine.com has and probably still will be one of my fun side projects and a test bed for many of my ideas. I have always taken a bit of a laissez-faire attitude towards it and what it actually is, this will undoubtedly continue!