Saturday, March 19, 2011

The first 30 days after


Whoa, wall of text!

I've been collecting these thoughts over the past month as they've come to me since halting work on FTW. I thought I might share the impact all of this has had on my life. I do have some questions at the end for those who want to help me out. I'd certainly appreciate the feedback.

Week One: The urge to start over
And do the same thing again. I can't begin to tell you how many times I see something new and think I can add it to my site here. It'll only take a second to do and then I'll be all set. I'm constantly battling against it.

I like that the site is clean, fast loading and uncluttered. It's one of the ongoing battles I fought on FTW. With so much on there, it was a constant struggle to find the best way to keep it all organised and updated.

That was one of my early mistakes... not setting up a complete system that could expand as the site grew and that forced to me constantly have to rebuild and add onto the existing original structure. A structure not designed to do what I needed it to. I imagine it's how Orks go about building things in 40k. Assemble it, kinda repair it, make it into something else, fix it again...

Mrs.S is getting used to having me around the house more. We do more things like go out to lunch, watch t.v. together, stuff that had been given up before because I "needed to work on the site."

And I'm utterly amazed at the amount of traffic this site has been getting along with the amount of people who have signed up as Followers already. I can't say thank you enough.

One of the aspects I hadn't really anticipated was having to figure out how to post on the site here. On FTW I had a very clear format and guidelines I followed. I haven't established those here yet. I am worried my posts are too big and include too much information, but I'm not sure just breaking them down into a bunch of smaller posts is the answer either.

I've made a conscious effort to improve my linking to other sites by doing it better. Instead of just saying things like "check it out here," I'm going to make a concerted effort to post keywords in the link so that search engines can index the link more appropriately and give credit to the site with the link.

I've added an About Me section to the site now. It's what I had before with some new pictures. I think it's kinda neat to see about the person behind the blog. I'm also determined to keep this thing from getting out of hand, so I'm looking at post labels and such for my own sanity. I'll need a way to keep track of things behind the scenes.

Week Two: Finding my groove... maybe
Started the week with a game day with the Old Timer's league. Spent a few minutes talking about FTW and why I did what I did. Being able to explain to some of the guys why I made the choices I did and what kind of time requirements the site was asking of me put things into perspective. I'm not sure I would have even got out to play if I was still under the old workload.

I also went in and changed the background to white. After having trouble reading the words in one of my posts, it suddenly dawned on me why that was. One day I'll learn.

And if I may be brutally honest for a moment, the number of folks who have joined up to follow bolsters my determination to make this new site work and become everything I want it to be and more. To think that this many people are interested enough to let me know they are following is very humbling.

I would also like to thank those few folks who have emailed me personally to talk about the site and the direction things are moving in both on FTW and my new home here. Thank you.

I've spent some time adding more work to the gallery as well. Trying to pick out what I think best represents what I can do for folks is tough. I hadn't realized I'd done so much in the past couple years.

I've also refined my posting style a bit. I'm starting to develop a "style" if you will. I guess that's about right, took me about 10 posts to figure out how I wanted my stuff to look so it was easy to read and move through.

I still go back and forth on how best to Archive the site. Both on the viewer side of things and the admin side. Readers need to be able to find what they want quickly and I need to be able to archive things without a ton of work. That was another one of the things that made FTW so time consuming as it grew in size.

Week Three: Determination pushes me onward
I feel like I'm starting to get used to things. I can see patterns developing and I'm comfortable with the amount of work I've got invested in this site. I still go back and forth with the whole Archive thing, but I'm going to try it out for now.

It seems like more than I need at this point, but that may be only because it hasn't been populated with years worth of posts. If there is any indication that it will not scale up as the site grows, I'll be taking care of that rather quickly.

I'm also looking for other ways to include more content into the site. Part of me wants to bring on new Authors that contribute on a regular basis and part of me is not sure that's the right way to go. My Wife has been a huge help in keeping me on track here.

Week Four: Staying on track
It still feels odd to not have to run to the computer each night just to stay on top of emails and everything else. If I miss a day, it's not the end of the world and it won't mean a huge backlog when I do come back to the site. This last week was odd for me in that I didn't get on the computer for a few nights straight due to work obligations.

I think I'm in a much better place now than I was before. I've taken the Followers box down from the site. While it's cool to see how many people follow, I find it to be an artificial gauge of how important or how good a blog is based on how many Followers it has. That bothers me.

I still want to include a widget or two in the sidebar that helps readers find cool things on the site. I go back and forth on this though.

Final thoughts after one month
I miss the old site. But I can't justify the time it took anymore. This site has taken off better than I thought it would. With my new home here, I've had to redefine success. It's not the same thing(s) it was for FTW. Trying to measure them by the same criteria isn't accurate.

I still have to keep things in check and watch myself closely for little things that may start spiraling out of control and creating more work.

There is much less stress in my life now too. With more time available to put towards the modeling and painting aspect of the hobby, I'm finding a bit of a rebirth in the hobby.

And a few questions for you readers
I only have a couple questions that I can't seem to sort through on my own that I'd like some help with if you don't mind:

The posts. What do you all think about them? Are they too long? Am I cramming too much into them or is it a nice break to swing by once a week or so and find something substantial you can sink your teeth into for a few minutes and relax?

The Archives, do they seem intuitive enough that you can find what you're looking for fairly quickly? Any recommendations here?

What am I missing? Is there something so obvious and right in front of my face that I'm not seeing it that you all wish was added to the site? Do you find yourself stopping by and saying, "If he only had..."

Thanks for grinding through this post. I know it was a lot, but I think it's worth sharing for those folks who wonder what it's like.

13 comments:

  1. I don't think that the posts are to long and they are well written and informative so I don't see a problem with you 'cramming to much into them'.

    Thats my two cents

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the article length and content is fine, in face it's refreshing to find decent modelling articles that don't skimp on the information.

    Archives are fine the way they are, just make sure the correct tags are on each post. If people want to see that information, let them find it, don't spoon feed it to them.

    Which leads me onto your last question. If you keep asking 'what am I missing?' then the focus shifts from it being yor' hobby blog to being everyone elses. If you go down that route then the site turns into FTW all over again.

    I'll keep reading either way you do it, but you need to treat it more as a personal blog instead of burning yourself out by putting up what everyone else wants.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree with Big Steve, keep this about you and your hobby.

    As for the overwhelming task of maintaining FTW...full blown websites are a little easier to manage than blogs I think...just sayin ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the feedback guys, it's much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have no issue with the content or the length of the posts. The only thing I could say about the length is don't let it run away from you so you take up more time with writing than spending with the family!

    The only other thing that I could recommend is since I read the majority of my Wargaming sites in google reader I only see half of the first paragraph when it comes up so then I have to go to then go to the website...

    I don't know if others would find that annoying but as far as I'm concerned the content it worth coming to see whenever there is a new post.

    Also with this you can post at your own pace... You don't need to have this up today or run yourself ragged trying to think what you need to put up.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lord Shaper: The length is a product of what I get done during the week and what free time I have above and beyond that.

    A good example is the Ragnar post that will go up tomorrow, it's not as long as most so far, but it shows what I've done this week.

    And the pace is the important thing. I can post when I get stuff and I'm not forced to fill in to keep up with a schedule.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like the length of your posts. I find them to be informative, while succinct - I don't find myself scanning for the juicy bits. I'm trying to be informative and succinct in my own blog postings too, but I think it may take some practice!

    I'm glad you were able to recognise you needed a change, and that you were able to make those changes to give you more time with what's really important.

    FTW was a daily visit for me, and BDB is too. I enjoy reading and appreciate the lessons (that's how I see them) you post Ron. Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think these guys have it right. What I'm "missing" is for you to stop trying to figure out what we want, and do what you want. Because the thing is, and I am going to let you in on a little secret here, we are not that different from you. So if you write what you want to read, there will be a lot of hobbyists that enjoy it :)

    And personally I do enjoy it. I've read every single post you've written, the site is nice and clean, and you write about what you are up to, which is interesting.

    I think that if you do want to "expand" you are going to end up being the editor, which might lead into time consuming issues again. I have an alternative idea, how about having "featured" blogs? More than a mere blog roll. Perhaps adding a post when a featured article as been released on another blog. Something that makes it so that you don't have to be responsible for so much. You sound happier in your posts these days, and I'd hate for that to go away :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am really enjoying what you are doing with your new blog. As Flekkzo says, just do what you want: there's no pressure other than from yourself. The content, archives, etc., are great!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for the honesty guys.
    There's always been an handful of folks who are willing to say what they think without worry.

    It's been interesting and dare I say eye opening to watch the how people have come from FTW over to this site.

    I'm going to keep on track. Sometimes it can be tough since I work in near bubble like conditions with very little outside interaction.

    It's comforting to know that I'm at least hitting the mark with how stuff is being presented here. And I'm glad you guys like the material in the posts too. Sometimes I fear it's nothing new or you'll get bored with it, but I find lots of people still like to see the basic stuff and can pull tiny bits of info from all kinds of posts.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have to agree with the rest of the people. This is your blog, don't expand it beyond what you want to. I'm actually surprised there's any tutorials on here as I expected this to be more of a journal. Even a hobby journal makes a great read as it can be inspiring to others. But tutorials take time, so don't lose track of yourself again :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ron to start of I really like the cleaner look of the new site.
    As for the length of the length of the articles I think that they are of a good size, enough material for me to sit down and dig into with out being so large that it becomes work for me to do so.
    At the end of the day it is your decision to bring on other contributors or not, but as others have already suggested I would be worried about the site growing too large and becoming a chore to manage.
    Chambers

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dave G: As far as tutorials, there aren't that many since I'm not always doing "new" things.

    Part of it is time involved in doing them and part is that I'm using techniques that I've already done tutorials on.

    I do try and touch on things as readers ask about them and I cover them in my workings, but going beyond that and doing them just to do them creates a substantial amount of work.

    I think they're important and I'll continue to add them (even if they're small) to my posts as I go along. In that sense, it's more of a journal than FTW was as I'm not creating some huge framework and expectation to see them.

    As I do things in projects, I'll try to highlight them and the step by step process in the posts. Outside of that, I'm really only posting "tutorials" when people ask me about things or I discover something new for myself.

    Chambers: Thanks, the cleaner look is something I think I will always struggle with.

    ReplyDelete