Now I know anybody who writes for a livin’ might not agree with me on that Timmy. Especially the real writers. Tongue in cheek y’all. But after finishin’ my 50th blog last week, I’m runnin’ out of good ideas. And you might well argue I ran out of good ideas before I ever started, but if you’re lookin’ for a fight, you came to the wrong house.
Just consider this. When a person writes about just one or two things – say web design and development – the number of topics narrows considerably from say writin’ about politics – where there’s a never-endin’ stream of foolishness to dip your bucket into. Or even interior design, where the world is your oyster.
I regularly use The Google to hunt for new topics when my brain goes dry nowadays, but it seems I keep runnin’ into the same “100 Blog Post Ideas for Web & Graphic Designers.” Sadly, I’ve already used all the good ones. And a lot of them are just dry as owl pellets. Maybe it’s time to circle back. Or use one of those AI things to make stuff up for me. Highly unlikely.
Or maybe I just need to come up with my own list of possible blog ideas for my chosen field. Certainly, there are topics yet untouched. Maybe questions that our clients might ask or those that we ask of ourselves. Frequently or not.
Surprise! This website’s a mess
For example: “It took HOW long?” There’s a good one. When we first look at a project – especially on a site we didn’t build – the task might seem straightforward. Maybe two or three graphics need to be updated. And the pages were built with some flavor of WordPress. Should be fairly simple.
And Timmy, just an FYI – whenever I hear those four words, somewhere, likely from the deepest and darkest recesses of my brain, somethin’ Pavlovian is triggered and what comes out of my mouth next, as my blood runs cold, is often unfiltered and sometimes shockin’. Too many times I’ve seen “simple” be anythin’ but, causin’ ocular migraines, night sweats and general malaise – so my conditioned response is as liable as not to set you on your heels – if only for an instant.
But here’s the truth. Once we pop the hood, we often find out nothin’ looks familiar nor anythin’ like we expected to see. All the parts are there, but they were put together usin’ tools from 10-12 years ago. Perhaps even hand-crafted by dinosaurs like me who refused to embrace the ways of the Brave New Ways of the WordPress World way back when.
Or worse, it’s a hybridized such and such employin’ pieces and parts from an editor that called up images via PHP from a database that can still be accessed, but not easily updated. The only reason things are still workin’ is because that database is still there. We just can’t make changes because the interface once used to access it has mysteriously vanished. And it was the only link available for us mere mortals charged with updatin’ stuff. Unless you’ve lived that nightmare, it’s probably hard to feel our pain.
So we resort to an end run, bypassing the interface and editin’ the PHP file directly. After rootin’ around for the file we need to update for an unspecified amount of time, we find the right one. But we can’t get to it from the WordPress dashboard and theme editor. Seems the server settings won’t allow us to update it. Timmy, Timmy, Timmy.
Off we go to cPanel. Assumin’ we have access. Which if it’s not on one of our servers, we probably don’t. So whatever time that takes. And once we get there, we have to find the file on the server and the code we need to update, and do so, hopin’ nothin’ breaks along the way. At best, a band aid, but a viable option given the circumstances. Sure, we could probably find the right database and manually edit the entries, but that could take nigh on half a day given the number of databases an average site uses. And databases are touchy. One wrong move and a site is down for the count.
The good news is that goin’ forward, if the site ever needs updatin’ again, we’ll jump to the end right quick, skippin’ the discovery phase.
So that’s why it took HOW long. And while the details of this debacle are unique to its situation, there are similar scenarios and outcomes wrapped in completely different circumstances and variables. If it were easy, everyone would be doin’ it.
Read the above section before trying this yourself
Then there’s the companion question: “It cost HOW much?”
Sometimes that’s answered simply because it took HOW long. Other times, it’s more complicated.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Matters of Expertise. I talked about my tree guys, and how I briefly wondered why I’d paid $900 for 33 minutes of tree cuttin’. Until I thought about it. The whole point of that piece was how it baffles me when folks pay others for their expertise then decide they know best and opt not to follow the advice of those they’re payin’ for their experience. Still dwellin’ on that.
But beyond that I think people wonder why all things digital cost what they do. It seems a more difficult concept to grasp than watchin’ a tree not fall on your house.
For the most part, what we do won’t generally result in grievous bodily injury, death, the destruction of property and/or the end of civilization as we know it. But were it not for the time we’ve invested in learnin’ to ply our trade, your website might not look as spiffy as is does after we’ve had a hand in it.
And again, I know full good and well we’re not all that and a bag of Doritos to most, but we are professionals. We’ve all made sizable investments in education, software, hardware and have done our time in the trenches. We’re not somebody’s cousins who do this stuff as a side hustle. You probably wouldn’t be readin’ this if we were. We take a good deal of pride in our work and strive to give you the best outcome we can. And we stand behind our work. Hopefully, that’s worth a little somethin’.
Get to the root of your chakras
On another note, I think I’ll start sharin’ some of the spam I catch in my nets with y’all each week. “Brent’s Catch of the Day” perhaps. While I do my best to keep you from havin’ to deal with the likes of this on a regular basis, some of it’s just too rich (or downright scary) not to share. Here’s my favorite from this week:
Subject: If you are receiving this email, the universe has chosen you. A rogue government scientist is exposing a secret experiment about wealth attraction. But the website will ONLY be up until midnight tonight. It’s simply too dangerous to leave up any longer than that. The U.S. government is already hot on this banished scientist’s trail. But this hero is risking it all to share this information with a chosen few one last time. So this is an exclusive and extremely rare chance to see how the 1%ers are harnessing the power of their Root Chakras…blah blah blah.
Wow. Mighty melodramatic there Spammy. At least one of my Root Chakras is all atwitter. For the record, pretty sure it wasn’t just me who the universe chose for this amazin’ opportunity. And 3 days later, the website hasn’t been shut down, because yes, I did check. Just had to know. So there’s still time. Call me if you’re interested. But I hear the U.S. government is very close to catchin’ the “rogue government scientist” tryin’ to set the chosen few free.
Now if they could just do somethin’ about the spammers Timmy…