If you were to take a brief glance at my current projects, off the top of my head, you’d see any of the following:
- Ongoing copy project for client (on retainer)
- Copy project for new client
- Marketing my copywriting to get new clients
- Bookkeeping for my business
- Write on a regular basis, mainly for this site
- Consider other writing avenues and options
- Ghostwriting a book
- Writing and staying involved with my writing group
- Contributing to writing group’s first book
- Studying copywriting to improve my skills
- Taking online courses in writing and business
- Lately, taking care of my sick cat
- Addressing a fraud claim on a purchase that a customer of mine made
That’s all I can think of at the moment – and these are things that I deal with at least weekly, if not daily. For those who think working from home means sitting on your duff in your pajamas and doing what you want, I refer you to the above list.
All of these commitments are also in addition to my responsibilities around the house, and to my wife, and trying to find some free time to work on my hobbies, like playing guitar and reading books, for my own sanity.
In recent weeks, I’ve really struggled with these commitments. I have my work days booked through Google Calendar, blocked out by the hour, to keep me on task.
But falling behind happens to all of us (especially when we have sick cats in the house that do unspeakable things in my office that need my urgent attention). And I’ve found that, when I fall behind, the rest of my day goes to crap.
I’ve tried different things to keep me on task, with little success. So finally, I am making some tough choices:
That big announcement? I’m not doing it anymore…
…at least not right now.
I was planning on spending this summer raising money for charity:water, a cause I really believe in and was moved by at the World Domination Summit last year. I spoke with some friends of mine who had raised money successfully in the past year, and was really trying to find the best way to go about it.
But one thing leads to another, and I wasn’t giving this project the priority it needed and deserved in my time. So, after much prayerful consideration, I am putting it on the back burner for now.
I do passionately want to take on this challenge, but I don’t think this is the right time for me. And if my heart isn’t in it, it does nobody any good. I will be considering it later this year or next year, depending on how things go. But I want to find the right time to do it.
I’m cutting back my responsibilities to 3 things per day
This means, at most, I will work on 15 things a week. That sounds doable to me.
The fear in doing this is that I won’t be able to touch base with all the things I want to do. But the reality is, I only have so much time in the day. I have a home life that comes with responsibilities, and I have a wife that I want/need to spend time with.
By stretching myself too thin, nothing was getting done, and it has been a very big problem of mine. If I want to take my business and my work to the next level, I need to pop in some real, honest, dedicated time to it. Otherwise, my time will be useless.
“Never half-ass anything. Whole-ass one thing.”
Wise words from my main man, Ron Swanson.
Because I’d taken on so much stuff, I grew increasingly hard on myself. I was mad. I was frustrated. I never ended the day with any sort of feeling of accomplishment. It was always failure or coming up short.
Plus, my efforts were often rushed, which left little to be desired in a lot of areas. I still have work to do on developing my discipline, but for now, limiting my responsibilities will, hopefully, keep me on task, keep me focused, and ultimately, make me work better.
What do you think? Do you ever struggle with this? Have you tried cutting back, or do you think it’s not a possibility in your life?
I was floored by a recent work development.
One of my clients keeps me on retainer, and I work directly with their head copy guy – a very smart, hard-working copywriter who I’ll call “Pete”.
Pete has built his career over the past few years doing what I do: he’s a freelance copywriter. He writes marketing copy for finance companies while working out of his home office. He travels to Austin, Texas to work with our shared client on-site on a regular basis.
In February, I flew down to Austin as he drove 10 hours to meet up at the client’s offices for the week. There, he told me that he was accepting a full-time position at the company, and he would be selling his home in Kentucky to move there.
After several years of freelancing and working from home, I could tell in conversation that there were some things he was going to miss about working from home. Adjusting to a 40-minute commute from no commute at all, clearly would be a challenge to him. But it didn’t strike me that it bothered him all that much.
Weeks went by. We were all working towards the idea that Pete and his family were moving to Austin.
But then, a couple weeks ago, Pete gave me a call – he wasn’t going. After all the planning, and even selling his house, and about a week or two before the trigger needed to be pulled. When asked why, he said: “There were some things that just kept nagging at me. My heart wasn’t in it.”
Is Pete in the wrong here? Maybe his timing wasn’t great. But would you rather have a guy break it to you a week or two before the switch, or be in town for a month and then decide it’s not for him?
The boss was mad, but there was a lesson here: don’t ignore your heart.
How can you apply this?
Put together your definition of “happiness”
Hey, happiness is different for everybody. Some of you are happy with the structure of an office job. I’m not. Some would prefer to be single for the rest of their lives. I wouldn’t.
Everybody wants to be happy. You hear it all the time – but what does that mean? That’s the first step.
You gotta figure out what happiness means. If you’re just blindly running around trying to be happy, but you don’t know what that end goal is, you’re screwed. You’re destined to be miserable for the rest of your life.
And here’s a quick summation of how to determine what happiness is to you: Figure out where you want to be, not where you don’t want to be.
Does that make sense? Find the finish line and run toward it, don’t run away from the starting line.
You need to know what you’re trying to do. If you are just trying to figure out what you want to avoid, again, you’re screwed.
Let me give you an example: you hate your job. Quitting your job won’t make you happy. You’ll just wind up in another crappy job that you hate. Instead, bide your time there while you collect a paycheck and work on figuring out what it is you really want to do. Take the steps to get to that job, and then quit your lousy job.
Find a goal. Find a target. Run towards, not away.
Ask yourself, “Will this make me happy?”
Now that you’ve defined happiness, you have a benchmark to measure your decisions against. This section is short, and I don’t care. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
When faced with a decision, just say, “Hey, will this help move me toward that definition of happiness that I figured out?”
No? Don’t do it.
Yes? Give it a shot.
Give the decision time
The worst thing you can do when faced with a big decision…
- …buying a new appliance…
- …buying a car…
- …spending more than $50…
- …proposing to someone…
- …getting a new job…
- …moving to a new city…
…is rush the decision.
Let your brain process the decision. As humans, we are driven by emotion way too often.
Our brains are great at fooling ourselves. We can talk our way into anything, especially when we want to like a decision. We like the car. We like the girl. We like the idea of a new city.
But is it the right decision? You don’t know that yet. That’s why car salesmen try to get you to buy as quickly as possible. The more you think, the more you entertain other options. And you need to do that.
It sounds lame to say “Make a pro’s and cons list!” That’s what a sitcom has a nerd say when making decisions. But it works. A lot.
Figure out your options and consider which one will drive you closer to that definition of happiness. Take the route that leads to it.
What’s left? What does your gut really say? Define happiness, weigh your options, and take your time.
Pete’s decision had bad timing, and that happens. But at the end of the day, he made the right decision.
What do you think?
…and I’m Going to Love It.
To the educated television/comedy fan, those two words ignite a flurry of mental images, laughter, and fond memories.
NeverNudes. “No touching!”. Mr. Manager. “I’ve made a huge mistake.” And so on.
To the uninitiated, Arrested Development was a television show that ran from 2003-2006. It won awards for being the best comedy on television in its first season. And yet, viewers never came. The FOX Network had little understanding of how to market such a show, and being the time before DVRs and streaming video became mainstream, a show that rewarded repeat viewings with inside jokes and recurring gags simply wasn’t going to last.
For seven years, those of us who have loved Arrested Development and hold it up on a pedestal, rightfully so, as one of (if not THE) greatest television shows in history sat back, saddened. We rewatched the 53 episodes that we were blessed with, and we grew sadder as we watched Jason Bateman act in mediocre movies. We watched Will Arnett go through failed comedy after failed comedy. We chuckled and shouted “BUSTER!” whenever Tony Hale popped up in some show. We watched Michael Cera essentially play lesser versions of George Michael Bluth in everything he did.
And mostly, we grieved. Because we felt that there was no hope for more, and we thirsted for more of the Bluth family.
Rumors came and went. A movie is coming! They’re working on a script! And yet… nothing happened.
Then, all of a sudden, at a cast reunion, show creator Mitch Hurwitz announced he was developing not just a movie… but a full fourth season. Except that he didn’t have anybody to air it yet.
So we tweeted. We hopped on Facebook. We shared the announcements. “ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT IS COMING BACK”, we said. And we got giddy. And we went back and watched those 53 episodes again, for the 15th time.
But still… we doubted. We didn’t believe it in our hearts.
Then, Netflix made the announcement: a fourth season. Ten episodes. The entire cast, plus almost all of the guest stars. Back. Again. It’s happening. 2013 will be the year the Bluths return to television.
We celebrated. We danced (mainly bad chicken dances, however). And we rejoiced. Our loyalty and praise of this show has resulted in a new season.
Since that announcement, little bits and pieces popped up. Photos on Twitter of the set being rebuilt. Leaked pictures of the family back in-character here and there. News bits about what guest stars were returning.
And then, on Monday, a trailer. A glorious, glorious trailer. The first real, tangible, video proof for legions of fans that Arrested Development is coming back.
These weren’t photos of a couple members of the family. These weren’t actors reuniting on the red carpet. This was, for the first time in 7 years, the Bluth Family. Together again. In full-bore insanity.
We shared this trailer everywhere. We celebrated more. Our stomach leaped with excitement. It’s actually coming. It’s actually coming. It’s actually coming…
…except now, there’s something called “internet fans”. And they are cynical, my friend.
99% of the press and reaction to the trailer has been undeniably positive. But once you glance at the comments, you see it: the cynics.
“It looks like they’re just rehashing the same jokes.” “Buster has gone into full-on mental disability.” “I didn’t laugh once.” “It didn’t tell me anything.”
And that’s where the fun of being on the internet is going to be, at least for me. You see, we’ll beg for something. Plead for it. Pay for it, if we have to.
But when we get it, we will tear it down. Complain about it. Tell everyone how we would have “done it better”.
Scores of reviews from cynical fans will come in, complaining about repeated jokes and plotholes. And I will sit back, and laugh.
They did it with The Dark Knight Rises. You can bet your bottom (“*giggle* My BOTTOM!”) that they’re going to do it with Arrested Development.
All I can say is that you’ve been warned. I don’t know that I have an end to this post, other than to say, “Don’t do that.”
But I’ve said that before, and I’ll say it again. Just chill out. Watch it. Enjoy it. Savor it. We’re getting a gift that devoted fans don’t normally get. We’re better off for it.
And most of all, heading into this: trust the cast. Trust the writers. Trust Mitch Hurwitz. The show they put together was darn near perfect. Even if this new season doesn’t reach the greatness of the previous three, it’ll be pretty doggone close.
Been a quiet week here, huh? I promised a special announcement for Monday and… I still can’t confirm it. It’s going to happen, but I’m still working out a few details.
But I do have a different announcement: I’m officially, 100% writing a book this year. Just not the one I was planning on.
I had intended to put together a piece of fiction this year and publish it – but that has to be relegated to the back burner. Friends of mine have a very unique story that they want to share with the world. So I’ll be ghostwriting their book!
I’m very excited to see where this goes, and if nothing else, I hope I can help get their story out to the masses. Announcement #2 will be coming soon, but stay tuned…
On Monday, I’ll be sharing some information with you that is very important to me – and hopefully, it will be important to you too.
The almost-silent pitter-patter of my feet kissing the sidewalk.
The collective “GOOD MORNING EVERYBODY” chirp-chirp-chirping of the bird community rising for the day.
The occasional vrrrrrooooooommmmm of a commuter driving past on their way to work.
I’m a runner – for the most part. While I don’t have the dedication of some of those on my Facebook news feed, I enjoy heading out for a run. There’s just something about dialing up a sweat without needing a piece of equipment that appeals to me (which might be why I like yoga as well).
This morning, I pulled myself out of bed at 5:00am, hopped into the running clothes I had set out next to my alarm clock, strapped on my Vibram FiveFingers and headed out the door to greet the sunrise on a daybreak mile.
I haven’t run regularly in months. Winter really locked me down this year – which happens sometimes. Can’t say I was all that motivated to head out in 11-12 degree weather anyway. But now that temperatures are hitting the 70s and even the 80s already, I’m out catching some fresh air while building up my endurance and leg muscles for another running season.
Being forced to disconnect…
Usually, before every run, I grab my phone, switch on the GPS signal, and open up RunKeeper. I like RunKeeper because it’s always been quick and easy to track my running. For those who don’t know, RunKeeper will use my GPS to tell me how far I’m going, how fast I’m going, and how long I’ve been running. It plots out my run on a map and I even have it set up to update me every half mile so that I don’t have to turn on my phone’s screen and look at it all the time.
It’s the system I used to run a half marathon a year ago. And it’s wonderful… when it works.
A couple days ago, when I was about to head out for a run, I tried to connect to RunKeeper and… nothing. It sat at “Searching…” for a few minutes while I paced at the end of my driveway. Once I connected and started running, it initially told me I was running at a pace of about 30 seconds/mile (“Somebody call Guinness – I’m about to set a world record!”).
After disconnecting and reconnecting to “correct” the error, it told me I was running at a pace of 71 minutes/mile. Which means I’m basically crawling on my stomach. Backward. Blindfolded. With a broken leg.
So I had to just say “SCREW IT” and not use the phone.
This morning, while trying to connect, my phone instead decided to just reboot.
So I left it on my doorstep.
It’s a different world…
Sometimes, especially on long runs, I have to bring some stuff with me – the ol’ phone, headphones, and dual-running apps for tracking my workout and pumping music into my ears.
But this morning, for the first time in, like, forever, I wasn’t carrying a phone. I didn’t have headphones. I wasn’t even wearing a watch. I was just… out there.
When you’re not busy trying to distract yourself, or huddled over your phone, you can learn to appreciate the world and environment around you. I know this (again) sounds like Crotchety Old Man talking, but you don’t realize how dependent we are on our phones and gadgets until you put a little distance between you and them.
It takes a few minutes to adjust, but suddenly, your brain switches on. Your senses kick in. You can hear and see the critters of the world going about their day. Your brain starts working to help you process information and thoughts that bounce around in your head. You can hear your body sending you information and different signals.
It’s actually pretty wonderful.
Can you do it?
Could you go out for a run or a walk without a phone or headphones? How about just to the bathroom? Or down to the mailbox?
We’ve pushed ourselves to be always on and always connected to the cloud, and I can appreciate that. I get it, and I’m certainly one who does this as well. But I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
You can roll your eyes if you want, but for thousands of years, human brains have been more than capable of entertaining their owners. In fact, you might have some creativity locked away in the deep recesses of your mind, but you can’t hear it trying to get out because you’re too busy checking Facebook whenever you have to stand or sit in one spot for more than 15-20 seconds.
I’m not saying we should all get rid of our phones. What I am saying is maybe we should start depending on them a little less.
You’re not that important…
Okay, you are. You’re important in the sense that every human life is important. Congratulations.
But the world won’t screech to a halt because you didn’t answer an email within 45 seconds. Society won’t crumble because you didn’t reply to that Facebook comment or “like” your “friend’s” photo of their cat. Your friends and family won’t abandon you just because you let a call go to voicemail.
Find time to switch off and get away from it. It could be as little as going into the other room and leaving your phone behind. Or fighting the urge to pull it out and check it when you are standing in line.
Just disconnect. And then… pause.
Take a breath. Listen to it. Feel it fill your lungs with good ol’, life-giving oxygen. Get engrossed in that conversation with the person you are talking with. Appreciate them. Listen to whatever goofball ideas your brain is firing back at you.
It’s kind of hard to explain. But I promise, if you make the effort, you’ll like it. And you might even get something out of it.
Let the text message sit. Turn off your email and Facebook notifications. Schedule time to do those things. None of these tools are bad for you, but they can be if you let them control your life. Take better control of yours. Live with intent. You’ll be surprised at the results.
Last week, I talked about self-hosting apps on your own domain. Many of you, undoubtedly, switched off into Nerd Retaliation Mode, where you say things like, “I don’t know anything about this!” or “This is too much to remember!” And that’s cool – it’s a slightly nerdy topic.
But within those layers of nerdity is a useful tool. As I learned more and more about this, I figured out how to find a photo sharing setup that I’m pleased with, and today I’m going to show you how to do it.
Before we look at the how, I want to talk to you about the why: what’s the point of going through all these steps if you can just grab Instagram and share your photos that way?
I’ve got a few reasons…
Instagram, like most apps, is closed. It’s a system that is shut off from the world. So if you don’t like something about it, tough noogies.
I’m a huge advocate for control over the apps and services that you use. That’s why I went into self-hosting apps in the first place: they offer me more control over what I’m doing.
I’ve considered switching to a Windows computer, or even a Mac, but those are ecosystems that are designed to keep me from digging in and making it work the way I want it to work. We all have things we don’t like about our computers – but only Linux (and in my case, Ubuntu) gives me the opportunity to figure out how to fix it and make it work even better.
You don’t like the interface on Instagram? Lump it. You don’t want Instagram to use your photos in advertisements? Hey, if they want to, they will. Sure, they changed the terms of service back again, but what’s going to stop them from doing it again? They’ll find a way – clearly it’s on their minds.
Since I’ve rolled my own photo stream, I have control over how it looks, how it acts, where the photos go, and who can see them. I can close off the whole thing if I want, or I can open it up for the world to see. But because it’s on my website that I pay for, I own those pictures 100%. I like that.
Do you really NEED another social network?
I’ll admit that I liked Instagram’s social network. Pure photo goodness in one stream? Crazy-awesome!
But once I took a step back, I realized something: what do I need this for? I’m on Twitter. I’m on Facebook. Pretty much everyone who is on Instagram that you might be interested in is already automatically sharing their photos on these social networks. I don’t need to “heart” or comment on a picture on Instagram. I can “like” it. I can retweet it. I can comment or @reply elsewhere.
It sounds like Crotchety Old Man talking, but seriously – what’s the point of THREE social networks? I use Twitter mainly for connecting with fellow entrepreneurial folks and you wonderful, wonderful readers, but that’s it. I use Facebook to mainly connect with friends and family that might be farther away, and that’s it. I used Instagram for… well, kind of a mashup of the other two.
If you can’t summarize in one sentence why you’re on Instagram, then maybe you don’t really need it.
How to set up your own photo stream
So let’s lay it out, step-by-step…
- Get a domain and hosting. I use HostGator, and if I ever have a problem, I can email them for help. They have a great FAQ section to guide me throughout the process, even if I don’t know anything about it. Remember: a domain is the “www.whatever.com” name that you buy, and hosting makes it available. Total cost will probably be around $100 for a year. Don’t have $100? HostGator will let you pay monthly for a few bucks. Seriously, it’s worth having your name on a .com.
- Already have a domain? Set up a sub-domain. Sub-domains have been covered in my last article on domains. I’ll show you what I used for mine in a minute.
- Install WordPress (*Note: holy cow, this will be easy.*). If you use a big-time hosting company like HostGator (or one of many others), there is virtually a 100% chance you’ll find a section called “One-Click Installs”. Find WordPress in the list, click “Install” and set it to whatever domain or subdomain you want. It will literally take 30 seconds. Then you’ll get an email with how to log in to your new WordPress site.
- Set up a pretty theme if you want. Here’s where it gets fun. You can mess around with the WordPress settings all you want – and you should – but go to “Appearance” – > “Themes” to search for a new theme to install. Easy tip: search for “photoblog”. That’ll give you plenty of pretty, free themes that will make your site look like a professional stream of photos. Again, one-click install and activate.
- Set up IFTTT. Go to IFTTT, create an account, and activate the following channels: Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. You’ll have to punch in your login details across the board. Then, create a recipe that says if a new post on WordPress is tagged with the word “photo”, then it will automatically post with the image on Twitter. Set up a second recipe with Facebook. (*Note: This will set up the photos to automatically share with both networks. If you want to pick and choose, you can set up different tags for each recipe.*)
- Install the WordPress app on your phone. Enter the information and login to attach your new site to your phone.
- Use it! Now, you can either take a picture on your phone and edit it in your phone’s photo app, then open your WordPress app and click the “camera” icon in a new post to add the photo to your stream, or you can just start in the WordPress app, click the same icon, and click “Take a new photo”. Either one will work. Pop the picture in the post, add a comment underneath it, tag it “Photo” and select the post type to “Image”. If you set up a shortcut on your home screen to create a new WordPress post with one click, then it takes much longer to explain this than actually do it.
You’re all set up. Like I said, it sounds much more complicated than it is. I find that the WordPress app moves much faster than any other sharing app I’ve used, including Instagram and Flickr. I’m really happy with how this turned out.
Want to see the finished product? You can see my Twitter stream to check out how the pictures are added to my Twitter stream, but you can click over here to see my homemade photo stream site. Pretty slick, hey?
Any questions? Tips? Adjustments? Opinions? Let’s hear them…
Self-control may be developed in precisely the same manner as we tone up a weak muscle,—by little exercises day by day. Let us each day do, as mere exercises of discipline in moral gymnastics, a few acts that are disagreeable to us, the doing of which will help us in instant action in our hour of need. The exercises may be very simple—dropping for a time an intensely interesting book at the most thrilling page of the story; jumping out of bed at the first moment of waking; walking home when one is perfectly able to do so, but when the temptation is to take a car; talking to some disagreeable person and trying to make the conversation pleasant. These daily exercises in moral discipline will have a wondrous tonic effect on man’s whole moral nature. - William George Jordan, Self control, its Kingship and Majesty
Found here – Manvotional: The Kingship of Self-Control
The death of Google Reader came at an interesting time for me.
Over the past few years, I’ve been scanning and making digital copies of my parents’ and grandmother’s photos. See, when I lived with my parents for 10 months right before my wedding, I lived in the basement. There I found a few old boxes with thousands of photographs that were not organized into albums, nor were they organized into boxes. We’re talking just piles of photographs in old cardboard boxes.
All it would take is one flood or one fire, and all those memories would be gone. As I dove deeper into the boxes, the photos became older and older. I watched myself transform into a child, a toddler, a baby. So did my brothers. So did my parents.
And, remarkably, so did my grandmother.
With photos dating back to 1917 (the earliest photo I’ve found as of this writing), I made it my personal mission to back up these memories for future generations. Each photo file was organized into a folder, and then burned onto DVDs as each box was completed. I organized each photo into decades.
In addition to that, I wanted to create an easily-accessible, searchable online database for friends and family members to look up photos quickly.
That way, instead of trying to convince everybody in the house to huddle around the kitchen table and go through thousands of photos (over 8,000 scanned in as of today), we could bring them up on a computer, phone, or even the TV, so that everyone could see them, and we could browse and search for specific photos or events.
After much searching years ago, I decided to use Google’s Picasa online photo storage service. With Picasa, I could tag faces, creating collections of photos for each member of the family. Then I would tag the photos different events and types, and you could cross-reference your way to any kind of collection you wanted. I also bought tons of storage for $5 a year to ensure I had plenty of room. It was pretty great.
Then, of course, Google+ came along.
In my opinion, Google+ is starting to ruin what Google had going for itself. Because Google is trying to force users into the social network that most people, frankly, don’t want to be a part of, Picasa began automatically redirecting to Google+ Photos. Hey, that’s fine. I don’t mind the Google+ interface one bit.
But suddenly, tagging faces couldn’t be done so easily. Now the people in the photos had to have a Google+ account to be tagged (like Facebook). Hmm. Well, my grandmother who died in 1998, or my grandfather who died in 1989, or the long list of relatives no longer with us in these pictures don’t have Google+ accounts, and I’d be hard pressed to convince them to at this point.
The process stalled. I still was uploading pictures to Picasa (there’s a link at the top of Google+ Photos to go back to the old Picasa, but you have to click it EVERY TIME YOU TRY TO GO TO PICASA), but I stopped tagging faces and photos. I knew a new solution needed to be found, but I hadn’t taken the time to look.
Then, Google announced they were killing off Reader.
Suddenly, my photos didn’t feel so safe anymore. Sure, they were backed up, but it was a punch to the face to realize, Hey, I’m putting literally 100 years of family memories in the hands of one company. They could easily just decide not to do it anymore!
That’s when, after migrating over to Feedly, I decided to start looking into other options for photo storage. But there are lots of options, and you’re never quite sure how long any of them will be around, really.
Then it dawned on me: why not on my own website?
Unlimited, flexible, customizable photo storage for free (well, for me anyway)
I already have web hosting – I pay for it once a year to run this site (though I’ve signed up for a couple years of service upfront). As Lifehacker explains, owning your name online is really useful, so I intend to own this for as long as I live.
I thought about adding a new website to my hosting plan. Maybe “meitnerphotos.com” or something. But after reading a bit, I realized that I can have unlimited sub-domains on my site for free!
What’s a sub-domain? It’s a completely-separate website you can use underneath your domain name. So my domain name is “tommeitner.com”. A sub-domain for, say, an online notebook would be “notes.tommeitner.com”, instead of “www.tommeitner.com”.
Knowing my way around WordPress, I found a WordPress photo album that is endlessly customizable, set up a new sub-domain for pictures, and installed WordPress, along with this plugin. Then I downloaded all 8K photos off of Picasa and uploaded them into the new website.
So why is this better?
If you’re not crazy about using a free service because of privacy issues, this one’s for you. Self-hosting allows you to password-protect your whole album, if you want, and you can choose to not let your site be searchable by Google (which I did).
It’s flexible, and I can make the albums look however I want, with new themes and configurations. And there’s nobody to go out of business – I hold complete control over these albums. As long as I want them there (and pay the hosting and domain fees, which amount to under $100/year), they’ll stay there.
Your free options run by someone else will be full of ads, or they will use your information to sell to ad agencies. Also, it’s cheaper than paying for a “premium service” that would provide the same thing (see Pancake below).
And because you’re running it yourself, you’re essentially immune to the company’s failures. Pancake runs my invoices now. If they go out of business, I still have all the files on my sub-domain, so I can keep using the program as long as I want. I won’t have the support of the company to answer my questions, but I won’t have to rush to find an alternative.
What else can you self host?
Short answer: almost anything. There is a service called ownCloud that lets you turn a sub-domain into a Dropbox-style service. I installed Pancake to a sub-domain to run all my invoicing for my business. The Pancake files were a one-time fee of $49, which offer everything I need, including online payments and recurring invoicing, along with unlimited clients. My Freshbooks account limited me to 25 clients and cost me over $200 a year. See how the math plays out?
You can self host an RSS reader, like Google Reader. You can self host your own email (something I’m tempted to do at some point). Or a web-based calendar. Or a project management tool. Or video streaming. Or, most recently, a streaming music service. A quick Google search can help you find a lot of stuff.
It takes a little bit of technical know-how, but virtually everything that you want to set up will come with support. And you learn by doing. I didn’t know anything about how to set up a website, FTP files over to a server, or set up a MySQL database. But your hosting company (HostGator for me) usually will provide great step-by-step instruction.
Is it worth it to you? I can’t answer that. But to have complete digital backups of my family’s memories, unlimited invoicing without recurring fees, and a wealth of other opportunities all rolled into one payment of $100/year? Yeah, that’s worth it to me. Especially since I’m already using it.
What do you think? Ever dabbled into self-hosting? Think it’s great/stupid? Let’s discuss in the comments!
[Note: on the right side of this page, you'll see where you can sign up for a weekly email from me - a little thought or discussion-type piece that comes every Friday. Every once in a while, I'll share one here with you, so you can see what I'm talking about. I wrote this one earlier this morning, and I wanted to share it with all of you. Enjoy.]
So I get up at 5am every morning. While I like it, I also love my sleep. My goal every night is to be lights-out at 10pm so that I can get a solid 7 hours in.
If I am woken up by something out of my control before my 5am alarm, I’m cranky as all get-out. And as luck would have it, I have a cat that has no idea how to read a clock.
Every morning at 4:30am, he walks into our bedroom, starts meowing and pawing at the closet door, making a racket. It jerks me from my sleep, and I spend the next half hour getting up every 5-6 minutes to spray him with a water bottle and chase him down the stairs. Drives me NUTS.
This morning, it happened again – as usual. I stumbled downstairs with my yoga mat to get a workout in, alternating between changing positions and flashing him dirty looks. You know, because he can identify with the fact that I’m giving him dirty looks (sarcasm).
It was one of those mornings where I sat around thinking, WHY ME?!? Now, that sounds dramatic – and it is – but at the same time, I’m not getting all the rest I need, and it is next to impossible to get him to leave us alone that early in the morning. It leaves me exhausted for good chunks of the day.
Then, as I sat down at the kitchen table with my protein shake, I opened up Feedly on my tablet and saw the first headline:
“Region on Lockdown as Police Hunt for Second Suspect”
Whoa, I thought, They got one of the bombers!
I kept reading. And I learned of the unprovoked murder of two police officers. The chase through Boston suburbs. The gunfire and the bombs being detonated outside the homes of sleeping families in the wee hours of the night.
I learned that entire suburbs were closed. Families were urged to remain inside, in their basements, away from windows, and to not answer the door. At a time of day when most of us are incredibly vulnerable, these families were shaken from their rest and relaxation to sit in fear while their houses are literally being lit up in the night by bombs exploding outside their doors.
I glanced over at my cat who, after being fed, was finally calmed down and content with life. I stroked him on the chin. Maybe I don’t get a full night’s sleep. But it could be worse. Much worse.
When you are going through stress in your day-to-day activities, and you are tempted to go the WHY ME?!? route, pause for a second.
Think about the lives of those in other countries. Those under oppressive government regimes. Those who live their days in fear. Even those in your own country who are vulnerable.
It’s not a magic pill. Just because you have very little food in your home doesn’t mean you should settle. Thinking about those starving in third-world countries won’t fix your problem. But it will put your problem in perspective. Sometimes, that’s all you need to appreciate what you have, where you are, and who you are.
We have more blessings than we can imagine sometimes. It just takes a pause in our day to appreciate them.
Have a great weekend,