I wanted to start off my blog with the most involved, arduous and fun writing position I have had so far. Me and a group of friends created a website called Mindwafers.com (which is still up even though nothing has been added in months) which gained a bit of popularity for awhile (at least among our circle) but eventually fizzled out and died. I still have hopes that we can revive the website someday, as it’s still in my mind most days. But before that moment I wanted to share our story to perhaps analyze what went wrong. Hopefully someone out can gain some insight if they’re preparing to start their own website and even more hopefully avoid the pitfalls that we fell into.
Out of the blue on a Wednesday, sometime in 2009, I got an email from my friend Mike. He had moved to Hawaii a couple years earlier to do God knows what. I hadn’t heard from him much since he left, but knew he would eventually return. In the email, he told us how he wanted to start a website based on an idea he had been toying with. He basically was compiling a list of things he hated in the world, whether it be a numbskull cultural trend, an annoying band or an oft-repeated phrase that made no sense. He collected these in a collection we decided to call “Why People Suck”.
it was strange and random to get the email. Even more strange was, for no apparent reason, I purchased the domain name of Mindwafers.com a month previous. I originally wanted MindCookies.com but it was taken. My original idea was to have it be a news analysis and culture analysis site, with no real clear focus in mind. But it would be like “snacks for the brain”, hence the Mind Cookies.
Three other friends were on the same email chain. They all loved the Mindwafers name. Within an hour, another guy in the group came up with a logo, one that I still to this day. Here it is:
So off we went, compiling everything that annoyed us over the past ten years. And if you knew us, you would know that we were annoyed by a LOT. Mike and Reece took the major roles in these articles. My job was to spruce the site up with politics and entertainment news.
Due to our day jobs and the site’s tagline: “Killing Work For Over 10 Years” we wanted to keep our identities anonymous. I created two fake characters to write my articles, each with their own distinctive style. In time, I would create so many different characters that it would be difficult to keep track of them all. But it did work my writing muscles, as it was challenging to write in different points of view, often more than one in a single day. As time went on, the character’s developed more and I had the idea to integrate their lives into the site. Other fake characters would comment on the articles, rivalries were created, backstories were told. It was a novel concept.
The leader of Mindwafers was H.M. Mindwafer, a ruthless corporate titan whose plan to take over the world would be undertaken by running a small website by some no name twentysomethings who wouldn’t make any money from the project. Mr. Minwafer would periodically issue memos to the “company” indicating any changes in direction for the site. In time, the memos became more common.
So we had our site, a logo, a tagline, an idea. Before we even started, we had a “brand”, a concept I admittedly hated enough to want to feature it in a Why People Suck column. But I realize now how important and difficult it is to create a unique brand. If only we had known what to do with it.