Here’s the thrilling conclusion of the rise and fall story of Mindwafers.com, a site that me and four of my friends created. Check out the last two installments or you’ll be completely lost (unless you’re into that sort of thing)
So things were going good. We had success with March Fatness, we were contributing daily. We even picked up a few extra writers. But where would we go from here.
That’s where we stalled.
Since we started the site for fun, we had no idea of what we wanted to accomplish with the site. We loved organizing the Mustache Ball and the idea that we could use the site for something good for people. But we felt like the site still looked amateurish on the Weebly platform. Also, Weebly had LOTS of bugs. We invented a fictional character that ran Weebly, named Mr. Oopsie Doopsy, who would erase posts once we were done with them since this happened so often.
We hated Mr. Oopsie Doopsy.
Erik bought a fancy template on WordPress and went to work on creating a professional looking site. It had a slider like you see on the Yahoo homepage, lots of categories. It looked nice. But by that time, our writing had slowed down. We weren’t posting everyday, the posts were getting shorter. We had created so many different categories that it became difficult to manage. And we still didn’t have an overall theme to the site. We had no idea who our audience was, which would make it difficult when we decided we needed some advertising if we wanted to take in any income for the site. Because we didn’t know much about sales, all of our efforts to monetize the site were half-assed and ineffective. In addition, we ran into the single hardest obstacle: Life.
Work was busy for everyone, we were getting married, having kids. The website was taking a backseat to the various events in our life. It soon whittled down to me and Reece writing. But even we didn’t have time to keep up with a schedule that would ensure constant readers or keep us high in the Google rankings. After a while, it just seemed pointless to write. No one was reading it anymore even though we had this nice looking website.
We called the WordPress version Mindwafers 2.0. But Mindwafers 2.0 never took off like we wanted it to, mainly because our hearts weren’t into it. Sure we would talk about it every time we got together, how we needed to get back on the schedule we had before. But it’s difficult to force enthusiasm. As it stands, I posted an article about 3 months ago and that was it. Like I said, we haven’t given up on the idea. The challenge now is recreating that initial excitement we had when the site first went up. It’s easy to be excited when something is new, but keeping that attitude? Not so much.
As I’m thinking about the site, I learned much about why it failed, or more accurately why we gave up. The site could have eventually been a success, and it still might be, but it takes tenacity to have a successful website. You are competing against millions of others, many of whom are simply better writers. The key is coming up with a novel concept and engaging readers in a way that these better writers can’t.
Some key lessons I learned:
1) Have a plan: We started the site out for fun. We never set goals of where we wanted to be. This led to the eventual disinterest in creating more content.
2) Monetize: As much as it pains me to say this, I think we would have kept going if we saw some money coming in. Not that we were looking to become rich, but some income would have allowed us to pay other writers or a web designer. It also would have validated our success and kept us pushing for more.
3) Focus: The site became unwieldy and disorganized. We had so many categories but no central focus. We had a unique style for sure. But if someone had asked me what the site was about, I would have had a difficult time describing it to them. I would always fall back on, “just visit the site and you’ll see.” It would have been helpful to come up with a one-sentence description of the site, just so we know if a particular topic fit the scope of the site.
4) Put Yourself Out There: We didn’t spend nearly enough time promoting the site. We barely knew how to use Twitter until it was too late. In retrospect, it would have been helpful to have one person be the social media person to make sure we were being promoted regularly.
5) Guest Post: We never cultivated relationships with other blogs. We should have contributed guest posts to other blogs to get our name out there and get some support from similar sites.
6) Have Faith: This is probably the biggest. We gave up. Had we continued on, surely we would have gotten back the audience we once had. Yet we expected too much too soon and our enthusiasm dried up. If you have a goal, stick with it. If your content is strong, people will come.
It’s not too late for Mindwafers. I hope to someday resurrect the site. It’s one of the reasons why I started this blog. Basically I wanted somewhere to put the writings that didn’t fit into the website and learn to develop my online presence at the same time.
I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Mindwafers. But at the very least, I hope you, imagined reader, learned a thing or to about what NOT to do when you create a website.
Thanks for reading and good luck on your internetting.
Joel AKA Bobby James AKA Big Sus AKA Jonah Goldfarb AKA Rod Pilf