Back in the dark ages of the web, sometime around early 1998, I was a total newbie. I graduated art school, having learned nothing of 3D modeling, but had somehow taught myself HTML and Photoshop. A year before, I bought a version 3.2 manual and had been slowly learning the formatting of text and the basic tags I would need to build pages.
I had an idea 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.
I bought the domain name bigheadboy.com (I lost the domain after a difficult period in my life. I guess I would repurchase it if I had $2900) because I had been working 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 also lost that domain, and someone snatched it up before I could get it back again. Sadly, I’ve lost some genuinely cool 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 weblogs 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.
I’ve realized the web has become cluttered with bad blogs that serve no purpose, and am advocating for creatives to start taking advantage of the giant portfolio platforms and websites. I tell people to use social media for exposure when it doesn’t make sense to build a self-hosted blog.
I tell most people that they don’t need a blog because the web needs simplifying and healing. We need to get rid of the noise, fluff, and sleazy marketing techniques if blogging is to have any future.
Face it, around the turn of the Millenium, 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 tell people not to build a blog.
There is a way to make money online without scam 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 have been using 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 that is 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 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.
Are You With Me?
If you want to have some fun, follow me for the next two months as I embark on an experiment to find realistic and honest ways to make money blogging and writing that don’t involve trickery and lies.
I will research and use every bit of my twenty-two years of blogging experience to come up with a plan to realistically and honestly make money with a self-hosted blog or platform. We will avoid the old and tired income streams like advertising and use today’s technology to create income streams that add value to others instead of just padding our pockets.
If 2020 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 it allows them to make fast money. They will balk at changing anything because the status quo works for them.
We are going to ignore those people and usher in a new age of blogging.
How Will This Work?
Over the next two months, I will be creating essays and articles about blogging that will go into a book next year. We will be spending our time trying new things. We are going to break shit and find out what works and what doesn’t.
We will start with two self-hosted blogs and my account on Medium to find out which way is better. But, we are not starting at zero because I have been blogging on Medium for over two years and my self-hosted blogs for almost a year. I have existing content that will help us on our way. We are starting from a solid position, with established properties and followings
I will give you tips to create a following that doesn’t involve making money but to get you to a point where you have a solid foundation from which to build your blogging empire.
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 real 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 off what is 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 the 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.
In the next two months, I will take my platforms and 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 this time, I will prove you wrong.
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 right education, or even if you are not sure you can believe in yourself yet, I am here to help.
We are going to 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?