Back in the dark web ages, sometime around early 1998, I was a total newb. I graduated from art school, having learned nothing of 3D modeling and animation, but had somehow taught myself HTML and Photoshop. A year before, I bought an HTML version 3.2 manual and slowly learned the formatting of text and the basic tags I would need to build pages.
I had ideas for what I wanted to build. A website named links.net, created by Justin Hall was my muse. It was a simple HTML page that had entries, like a journal. I had been writing in a journal all my young life, and it seemed like a natural progression to start posting it for the world to see on this incredible new internet thing.
I bought the domain name bigheadboy.com because I had worked on a series of stories about a superhero of the same name.
The first webpage was much like the style of many websites during that time — a loud, tiling background, light-colored text that was hardly readable, dancing GIFs of gophers, and gyrating skeletons. But almost every day, I would add an entry to my online journal.
In those early days, I became known for writing about my life, which was cringeworthy at best. Even if my writing skills were subpar, I kept writing, and even if I got emails about being too honest, it led to me scoring my first $100 website build and got me my first job in the web design industry.
Later, I started using JasonWeiland.com and continued building cool things and writing about everything going on in my life. Eventually, I lost that domain and others, and someone snatched them up before I could get it back again. Sadly, I’ve lost some genuinely excellent domain names because my mental illness got the better of me, and I failed to pay for renewal.
Of course, in 2003, WordPress came out and changed the landscape for those of us who had web journals and blogs. Even though I had a sophisticated system of templates and style guides using CSS, I couldn’t argue that WordPress made the whole process easier and saved me a considerable amount of time.
I was fond of using every new bell and whistle I could find in those early years, but my style has changed. I’ve embraced minimalism and simplicity as I focus more on the writing than I do the formatting.
And even though I still have several self-hosted WordPress blogs, I realized the blogging landscape is changing, and in certain situations, it makes more sense to blog on a platform with high domain authority, like Medium.
At least, that is what I thought for a time.
I’d realized the web has become cluttered with bad blogs that served no purpose and advocated for creatives to start taking advantage of the giant portfolio platforms and websites like Medium. I was telling people to use social media for exposure when building a self-hosted blog doesn’t make sense.
I told most people that they didn’t need a blog because the web needed simplifying and healing. We needed new blogging ideas. I thought we needed to eliminate the noise, fluff, and sleazy marketing techniques if blogging is to have any future.
Because, face it, around the turn of the Millennium, marketers and opportunists saw the potential for using the web to line their pockets. That led to where we are today with crappy sales funnels and people charging thousands to teach you how to make money online by teaching others to make money online.
We’ve got to the point where advertising is so overused that people either use an ad-blocker to surf or don’t visit blogs anymore because they hate maneuvering around pages with these huge, loud user interface nightmares. They don’t want to try to read around the flashing, cumbersome billboards.
The web used to be about creation, art, and writing, and now it’s more like a run-down amusement park, with carnies at every booth screaming at us to try our luck and win a prize.
If you look at what I advocate as a way to save the web from capitalism and change it into a resource instead of a freak show, you can see why I was telling people not to build a blog.
There is a way to make money online without scams and spam. There is a way to make a living from blogging that doesn’t involve sales funnels and $10K faux coaching plans. There is a way not to fall into the guru trap and become plastic in a search to support ourselves in a post-pandemic world.
The broken and outdated way we use the web and blogs to make money needs to change. It is unnecessary to trick people into buying our products with confusing sales funnels and vanilla content available elsewhere for free.
It’s time we started focusing on what we can give instead of what we can take. It’s time that ‘adding value’ started to mean something again. It’s time we started coming up with new blogging ideas again.
It’s time we got rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy and started Kondoizing the fuck out of the web and blogosphere before the internet becomes a flaming dumpster fire.
Welcome to Web 2.0
According to Wikipedia, a Web 2.0 website or blog allows users to interact and collaborate through social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community.” So much different than what we are used to with Web 1.0 websites, “where people were limited to viewing content in a passive manner.”
Web 1.0 ran until about 2004, and there were few content creators. Most were stuck in a pattern of consumption. But, Web 2.0 saw the explosion of social media and personal blogs like WordPress and Tumbler.
Web 2.0 saw the web change from a static consumption model to a platform filled with rich content, tagging, user-generated content, and sociality.
I started blogging in Web 1.0 when readers of my website couldn’t interact or even comment. All they could do was read and maybe shoot off an email. Web 2.0 saw the advent of WordPress, allowing blogging to not only become more accessible but able to be monetized, which is why blogging was widely accepted so quickly. People will flock to it as long as something has proven to make money.
It took 20 years to turn “blogging” into a dirty, unseemly word and an industry that sold its parts piece by piece to the capitalists to make money from every part of it.
The pandemic saw a resurgence of people blogging for the right reasons again, not just as a place to throw up a few ads and make some revenue. People were writing content about their new hobbies and how life had changed because of COVID. Video became a powerhouse, and Vlogging became a thing, even sometimes outshining blogging.
It looked like the web and content would make a comeback for all the right reasons, and that is why I have been experimenting and trying new things again.
There is also the surge of sites where you can publish your content online and even make money from views and reads, like Medium, NewsBreak, and Vocal.Media. These sites allow you to blog and post content without the hassle of a self-hosted blog, and because they are platforms, they are simple to start and maintain an account and web presence. You can even make money publishing on these websites, but they are not very predictable or trustworthy when it comes to paying writers and artists.
And who knows what Web3 or Web 3.0 will bring with decentralization and the web living on the blockchain.
Are You With Me?
If you want to have some fun, follow me here at Blog Differently as I embark on new experiments to find realistic and honest ways to improve blogging and also make money blogging that doesn’t involve trickery and lies.
I will research and use every bit of my twenty-two-plus years of blogging experience to develop a plan to realistically and honestly take blogging to the next level and, in a smaller capacity, make money with a self-hosted blog or platform. We will avoid the old and tired income streams like advertising and use today’s Web 2.0 and 3.0 technology to create income streams that add value to others instead of just padding our pockets.
If our new reality has proven anything, it has shown that we all need to stop being so selfish and start looking for ways to help others before we help ourselves to our followers’ credit card numbers.
Some people love capitalism and chaos because they can make fast money. They will balk at changing anything because the status quo works for them.
We will ignore those people and usher in a new age of blogging.
We will be spending our time trying new things. We will break shit and find out what works and what doesn’t.
Why Should You Trust Me?
Many of you don’t know me from a hole in the wall, so you don’t know what I bring to the table.
As I said before, I’ve been blogging for a long time. During that time, I have battled a severe mental illness. I still do. Despite that, I’ve had a few successes.
My actual experience comes from making mistakes and finding out what doesn’t work. Most blogging gurus are going to give you income reports and website analytics.
I don’t have any of that.
While those guys were working hard building their funnels, more than likely, I was in a hospital somewhere, watching my blogs wither and die. While those guys were getting funding, I tried to build a blogging business using only my Social Security check.
I didn’t have the resources, education, time, or even the drive and motivation they did to build their businesses, and that is why I have failure experience and not income reports.
Why Would I Tell You All This?
I am not and will never be a guru. You will not fall into one of my endless sales funnels because I won’t use them. I will never try to make money from common knowledge in the blogging industry.
I am willing to bet that your experience is much closer to what I have experienced. You are far removed from the lives of the million-dollar bloggers. I bet your life has been as much of a shit-show as mine has, and it would help you relate to me more than the blogging boys and girls club.
I have made mistakes and felt the sting of failure in the past. But now, I am at a place in my life and in the cycle of my illness that I am ready to take all the lessons from the past, mix them up with the knowledge of what works now, and create a blogging or writing business that will not only support my family and us but help me to thrive and prosper.
I will take my platforms and the self-hosted blogs, apply all I know to them, and prove that I know what I am talking about.
Hey, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is, and nothing will stop me this time. I will not let my illness stop me from finding my version of success, and I want to help you build your blogging and writing empire right along with mine.
Many of you have led a hard life like me and don’t have a lot of success to brag about. But now is the perfect time to change that, while the world is changing and evolving. It’s time that we figured out ways to succeed with blogging that don’t ask you to buy $5k courses and coaching programs.
It’s time that the little guy and girl started having their own income reports to show off.
That is why I am challenging myself and doing it publicly. I want you to know that you can still achieve your version of success no matter what kind of shit you have been through if you want it badly enough.
Many of you may even think I am setting myself up to fail, but I will prove you wrong this time.
It’s time we stopped accepting the table scraps we have been living on and started eating at the adult’s table for once.
So, if you have been down on your luck, suffered from an illness or condition that has negatively impacted your life, been in a dead-end career, don’t think you have enough money or the proper education, or even if you are not sure you can believe in yourself yet, I am here to help.
We will learn by doing, so buckle up and enjoy the ride. I’ll never tell you it will be easy, but it will be fun.
Together, we can do it.
Let’s get started blogging differently, shall we?