“Babysteps are the key,” says Jennie. “I’ve attended five hackathons, but have only done one solo project. My first two hackathons, I didn’t do any work beyond the UI. Then, I worked with a friend with a similar knowledge on two hackathons, where I did about half the work. Finally, this weekend I ventured out on my own, and worked on my own. I’ve been interested in coding for about three years now, and though I still have much to learn, I feel as though I have been able to do a lot. By teaming up with friends, I was able to slowly learn how to make my own hacks.”
I’ve been to a lot of “All Hands” meetings over the years. For about 13 years at the bank, we had them four times a year, plus division ones. I’ve probably sat in on 50 or so of these where I’m supposed to understand the status of the company, how we’re doing and where we’re going. They’re usually 90 minutes long with slides.
For the first time, I’ve walked out of one and actually understood what the fuck is going on in my company, where we’re going, and where we’ve been.
It’s a whole new world these days, with amazingly obvious simple stuff. The basic “I’m not being treated like a criminal” is the biggest for me. Being trusted to do my work alone made me feel fantastic. But when you add in the fact that DreamHost wants me to enjoy my life and work, it’s everything I thought work was supposed to be. Having a passion for what I do is a huge part too. I like WordPress (I wish I could explain why) but I like working here. I get new and interesting things to fix, I get to
A lot of this is that I just wasn’t a great fit for a Bank. Anytime they asked me ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ my answers weren’t in line with them. Yesterday I thought “Wow, in 5 years, DreamHost will be 20 and I’ll be 40. I want to still be here!” I’ve never felt that way before about work. I no longer see my work as my job, but as something I love doing and going to. I don’t want to call in sick, I want to be in the office, working, with the crazy people.
The meeting was just over two hours, followed by bowling (I don’t bowl, sorry, it’s bowl or be able to use my arm) and it had an open bar. I spent the hours listening, poking Shredder about 3.5, and sipping whiskey (on an empty stomach, I’ve done dumber things, but I did not get drunk). Simon mentioned me by name a couple times (we started making a mini-drinking game about the number of times he said ‘WordPress’ and ‘Mika’), and we cheered on news and bowling for two hours, which just sped by. I didn’t look at my watch, or wonder when it’d be over, until around the 2 hour mark.
On top of that, I’m in the (WordPress) news this morning as an example of how you can be a WP Professional:
How to Become a Top WordPress Professional
You do not need to know how to write code to get ahead in WordPress. If the only people involved in WordPress were developers, then WordPress wouldn’t be the software that it is today. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Project Manager
- Support Pro
- Documentation Writer
- Teaching & Training
If you aren’t convinced that you can make it doing these things, check out my post on the WordPress Economy to scope out some of the people who are already doing it.
A great example of this is Mika Epstein (more commonly known as Ipstenu). For her, WordPress started out as a hobby but it quickly became more rewarding than her IT job at a bank where she did everything from application installs on desktops to deployment automation and monitoring for servers. Recently, though, she’s started a job as a support specialist for DreamHost.
I would point out I can (and do) write code, but I’m no Nacin or Otto, where I dream in ones and zeros. I know how to unravel someone else’s code and fix it, which is why I’m awesome at support. Am I a developer? You bet! Am I a coder? Yes, I am! But am I also a documenter, a spin doctor, tech support, teacher, encouraging, enabler, and advocate. All of those things make me an amazing component of the WordPress ecosystem. I love helping people more than coding, but I also love helping them with coding. Go figure.
Don’t think I regret working for The Man for the time I did. I learned a lot about how things work together. The intricacies of how everything has to mesh to function as a company isn’t something I’ll forget any time soon, and makes me very respectful of my coworkers and their responsibilities. Help, don’t assume, and share. I’m taking all the best things about working at the bank and carrying them onward.
My life is totally different, and I’m totally happy.
My ebooks have been up in Kindle for a month and a day and the numbers are interesting.
US books sold: 10
Now wait, I hear you say. At $7.99 a pop, with 70% royalty, that’s $55.93, what’s happening? Not all the books sell at that rate. Most go for the traditional 35% and no, Amazon doesn’t specify why. I also sold three copy on Amazon.de for £4.44 profit or there about ($5.45 USD) which is about $16 US so my total is lingering at $64.
The part that is annoying me right now is that the Kindle Store pays you 60 days after the first month where you make over $10. So July I made about $30, but I won’t see that money until October first, give or take. Does that seem odd to anyone else? If feels like they’re still a little mired in the old paper way of doing business.
I still get a grin seeing myself show up in a search for ‘WordPress Multisite’ on Amazon, though!
It’s interesting to watch a man with his dick in a hornet’s nest try to solve the problem by tossing his balls in as well.
— Matthew Inman (@Oatmeal) June 14, 2012
The rest of this post contains language like this, so walk away now if you’re faint of heart.
Here’s the simple story.
- The Oatmeal writes funny/offensive stuff
- FunnyJunk reposts other site’s funny stuff, often without attribution
- The Oatmeal doesn’t like this
- Stuff was taken down, but FunnyJunk bitched
- A year later, FunnyJunk sued The Oatmeal for $20k (official lawyery reply here)
- The Oatmeal said ‘Fuck that’ and raised (at this point) over $180k for charity
- The Internet went wild
Now this is when it gets weird. The lawyer, Charles Carreon, dipped his balls in honey and waggled them over a beehive by escalating this. See, first he whined to MSNBC that he didn’t think the internet would be mean to him. It’s important to note that Charles made his ‘reputation’ as an Internet savvy lawyer and brags about it. He ‘made his name’ on the Sex.com case(which I can tl;dr as ‘a dude stole a domain name and it made the news because it had the word ‘sex’ in it’). This guy claims he knows the net. Clearly he doesn’t.
“I really did not expect that he would marshal an army of people who would besiege my website and send me a string of obscene emails,” he says.
“I’m completely unfamiliar really with this style of responding to a legal threat — I’ve never really seen it before,” Carreon explains. “I don’t like seeing anyone referring to my mother as a sexual deviant,” he added, referencing the drawing Inman posted.
The Oatmeal is popular. It’s often vile, graphic, and offensive, but it’s funny. For some of us, that makes it perfect. Certainly I follow it. But with popularity comes great power. Matt Inman, the brains behind it, was public in saying he thought the lawsuit was bullshit, and naturally his followers took action, to the point that Carreon had to turn off his website’s contact form saying “Due to security attacks instigated by Matt Inman, this function has been temporarily disabled.” They weren’t security attacks, it was a de facto DDoS by pissed off people who thought he was an idiot.
Oh and then he proved he was.
First he donated to the fund, then he sued it.
On June 15, Carreon filed suit in United States District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland against IndieGoGo (where Inman is raising the money), the American Cancer Society, and the National Wildlife Federation. In the suit Carreon is listed as as “attorney pro se,” which means “I am attorney but am representing only myself” and “I will continue to wreak havoc until forcibly medicated,” which doesn’t need further explanations, I think.
PopeHat explains it all in gory details. I love this part:
38 Plaintiff is a contributor to the Bear Love campaign, and made his contribution with the intent to benefit the purposes of the NWF and the ACS. Plaintiff is acting on his own behalf and to protect the rights of all other contributors to the Bear Love campaign to have their reasonable expectation that 100% of the money they contributed would go to a charitable purpose […]
Which basically means ‘He donated, now he sues.’ And this is a guy who has pretty nasty cartoons about GWB and Condalezza Rice on a site he and his wife run. Also you can find some awesome tidbits about how much he doesn’t get it if you poke around. Here’s the WaPo:
“Carreon tells Comic Riffs one of his goals is to become the go-to attorney for people who feel they have been cyber-vandalized or similarly wronged on the Internet.”
Naturally The Oatmeal has an opinion on this. I, like Inman, wish they’d go away so he can get back to insulting everyone’s mother in his comics.
Even if Carreon wins the suit (which is always possible), the public perception of a guy willing to sue charities over what is, essentially, a butt-hurt, is going to follow him forever.
After two weeks of downloads, my eBook PWYW held firm at 3%. There were 1200 downloads by last Thursday night (after I went in and removed all duplicate IPs from my lists) and donations averaged $7 dollars. So that worked out to about $250. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great.
How do I think it compares to ‘real’ ebook selling? Well, that’s hard to judge. If I’d posted on Amazon, it would have been in my best interest to sell the book cheaper. Books priced under $2.99 get a 35% royalty (70% if you’re willing to limit where you can buy the book), so an selling an ebook for $0.99 makes me $0.35. If 1200 people downloaded from Amazon, my money would have been doubled. That’s assuming people would have downloaded it from there. Actually, that’s assuming it would be found there.
There are about 350 ebooks that show up when I search the Kindle site for WordPress (and a whopping 2 for WordPress Multisite). And while I could re-release my book there (you can always grant exceptions to the CC license, I could give myself one), I’d have to get over that hurdle of DRM. It’s the same problem with iTunes. I have to get an ISBN, sign a bunch of tax agreements… And then you’re limited to what you can do with the book! There are alternatives, like lulu.com, which lets you release a book without DRM.
That actually rankles me more than the money. I’d rather make less money and keep freedoms. Yeah, I’m a socialist hippie eco blah blah fishcakes person. Deal with it. The freedoms of WordPress are what got me this smart. It isn’t right to just take and not give. I’m not the only one who feels this way. And funny enough, it’s Amazon’s fault that we got this way.
So once I’m committed to cutting out the middleman, I have to do my own advertising.
I got a lot of traffic when Weblogtools Collections, WPTavern, WP Ninjas, and the WPmail.me folks linked to me, giving me some of the biggest traffic I’ve had. More than when Matt linked to me, which is amusing. The advertising I did on my sites, blogging about it on my personal and tech site, as well as tweeting a few times and posting on Google Plus. I purposefully did not post on the WordPress forums about it (but I won’t stop anyone from doing that) because it’s against forum policy to advertise. On the other hand, it’s okay to post links to tutorials on your personal site. I could probably argue it both ways but in the interest of fairness, I decided not to mess with it.
My options for the sequel (there’s another 100 pages or so sitting on my laptop right now, yeah, there’s a lot to talk about!) are pretty simple. Do it again as pay what you want, or sell it. I’m in a niche market here, and that has a lot of problems. I need people to find me, otherwise they’d never buy, and I need people to know what I’m ‘worth.’
So my step one for all this is to clean up the formatting of the book. A lot. I’ve been doing a metric tonne of work on formatting things ‘right’, adding in better images, making the layout look nice. Secondly, I may not release this as an epub at all. It’s just as easy for me to export a PDF as an epub, but the formatting for epub is a lot trickier. Furthermore, it’s a 4:1 download ratio for PDF to epub. Clearly PDF is ‘more popular’ and it can be read on most ereaders anyway. And I suspect most of you are reading it on your computer, not your iPad. Save me time and effort.
Speaking of time and effort, there’s the reason I didn’t roll my own ecommerce solution. I’m not in a place where processing your credit cards is a smart idea, also it’s a lot more work than is worth it for one ebook. By posting books for ‘donations’ there are other benefits. That said, it makes me reliant on external sources. I’d not use Paypal if I could figure out how to explain PopMoney (seriously, if I could have a ‘send me money through PopMoney link’ I’d fuck Paypal right in the ear), but after a little work, I put up a WePay alternative to those who hate Paypal. I could make it so the download links are emailed to you after you donate, but that feels a little assy, and how would you skim to see if you wanted it?
I’m open to suggestions, clearly.