Why It Pays To Do Less

Few web developers would encourage such a controversial idea. Do less. I’m not talking about taking a 15 minute break once a day. I want you to drastically cut into the amount of time that you spend working online.

Here’s 10 reasons why. Sometimes you should do more work, but not if you’re falling into these categories.

10) Freshness. Do you ever remember coming up with an inspirational idea that has affected your business model while you were immersed in a heavy work load. Unlikely, because your brain is being occupied by redundant tasks that you’re repeating again. How can a new idea pop into your head when you’re overwhelmed with stress about a current project, meeting the deadline, and perfecting the current assignment.

9) Less Communication. While you might able to convince yourself that you’re accomplishing a lot by sending out a text message about a new development on your site to all of your buddies. More than likely you’re going to end up listening to their story which is important to friendship and bonding, but not your bottom line. Sarah’s story about her disastrous dentist appointment is going to have to wait until later. That goes for facebook and twitter as well. Next time that you’re on facebook attempting to promote your website, try to not veer off course, get in and get out. The Internet has blurred the lines between personal life and work, don’t fall into that trap.

Following forums and blogs is the red herring because while they contain valuable information like this this one, much of what you learn isn’t going to apply to you. Researching through these forums, and participating on them can become a bad habit. In moderation they very important.

8) Read Less. A teachers worst nightmare. With the influx of great writers online, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid intriguing articles that really are not beneficial to your pocket book. What may start off as an innocent escapade on reddit’s programming section may wind up a time wasting, fantasy driven, unproductive, unprofitable, trip to cracked.com. Where great agendas go to die. Entertaining..yes. But bankruptcy isn’t.

Also stop reading the same blog over and over again. After you’ve read “Where should I place Google ads on my pages?”. It even works for you or it doesn’t.

Read more books though, that doesn’t count as work.

7) Build Traffic. One of the fundamental mistakes that us “Internet Entrepreneurs” make is expecting to make a lot of money from a small user base. Even the smallest niches have massive markets.

I’m not discouraging, redesigning websites yet, or changing ad placement, but the amount of time that many of us consume attempting to increase conversion rates is outlandish. Besides if your niche happens to be “I’m the only blogger from another planet”, more than likely there is a lot of traffic going to other similar sites in your niche that you can intrude on. Who knows, in many cases, the new traffic might convert better than the old.

How do you build traffic? Have a kick ass website that people like.

6) Exercise. It’s pretty much an oxymoron for a linux administrator/web developer/designer to be recommending exercise yet that’s exactly what I’m going to do. What slows down many us more than anything is frustration and stress. Personally, it’s my achilles heel, the ability to thoroughly examine a bad situation with perspective by seeing the end game. We all have been in a spot where a problem looks so impossible that we just freak out. Instead of, relaxing and examining all of our options, we become angry and stop thinking rationally. Exercise is clinically proven to clear negative thoughts from your head. Positive thinking, resolution, and confidence solves issues. Exercise more, stress less. Even harder, drink less caffeine, which slows down signals to your brain.

5) Hire People/Form Partnerships. Making money online can be extremely hard to do depending upon what your predisposed skill sets are. It makes freelancers appreciate the value of the dollar therefore we are very frugal when it comes to expenditures.

Hence creating a huge dilemma because sometimes we think that we should do every task to save money. Just like a car mechanic wouldn’t understand why you’d ask someone else to change your oil when it’s such a simple job for him. Web developers are the same, the problem that arises from this erroneous practice is that we dedicate a tremendous amount of time to learning some arcane procedure that we might never use again to save money in the short term.

Being an expert at what you know, learn a little bit about everything else, but don’t try to be an expert at everything because it’s just not going to happen. There will always be someone out there that can bring experience from their field to move forward your project.

4) Choose Bigger Jobs. Paying the bills is probably the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of a smart person becoming self employed. Even after you’ve decided to make the leap to independence, a constant cash flow is necessary.

Therefore we take on jobs that don’t benefit us in the long run. When you’re starting out, of course, it’s good for experience. But doing jobs that pay minimal is going to get you nowhere fast.

At one point, I charged 50 dollars for custom templates that were well above the industry standard. How many of them I would have had to do in a year to make more than a Mcdonalds worker, especially if you consider the tax rates. I don’t even want to do the calculations.

Spend more time looking for the good jobs. In general, working with less people tends to be a good thing. As long as you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The amount of time that is spent communicating, receiving details, dealing with problems that are unrelated to the task that is at hand is almost never figured into the equation. What may seem like a small job at face value potentially could take longer than expected. In most cases, it does.

Surveys, clicking ads, any scheme like that is sure to not get you far. Learn a skill, that is the only way you’re going to make money online consistently.

3) Great ideas. Quality vs Quantity. It really depends on the type of site you have. Walmart is successful because they have vast quantity, digg is, even entertainment websites are, affiliate sites also. Sometimes the quality is horrible, other times it’s great. There is no doubt that how much traffic you received is determined by the originality and linkability of your page. If I were creative enough to sit down and come up with an awesome blog post that every SEO website would need to link to, which I’m not, that’s why I’m not a full time blogger, but if I were, working solely on that one post would be much better than scattering a few good ideas around.

Most of my failures, and many of yours, come from scattering a few good ideas into a pot and hoping they get cooking. If you work less on the good and more on the great. Your income is going to rise. If you manage your own servers, why not think about starting a hosting company. Always think bigger.

2) Scratch It. Start from scratch. I feel like I’m the only one who gives this advice. When you’re project is not working, it just may be time to scratch it, sell it, delete it. If money is your primary goal, which I’m assuming it is; if you got this far into the article than I beg you to scratch your sites that aren’t making money. Maybe, not completely get rid of them, but at least, stop working on them. When you have a new perspective in a few years, come back to them. Think about how much money your site is making, imagine if you had four times the traffic, still not adding up. Feel free to give it some time then take my advice. If a site is only making a dollar a day, that’s just not enough to dedicate your time.

1) Don’t change CMS. Maybe this isn’t the advice that you want to hear. If you change the url structure of your site permanently killing off 99% percent of your back links, removing features that your user base is accustomed to, and inevitable losing users. Just look what happened to digg and all of their links are still intact. What might seem like an awesome improvement to you could be horrible for your site.

Save yourself the time, launch your site correctly, with a goal of what you want it to look like in 5-10 years and what kind of platform you’re going to be running it on. Custom coding might seem like a great idea right now, keeping the code updated, fixing security flaws, and dealing

Posted in Tips & Code

One ResponseComments Feed

  1. Aaron

    I’ve found this to be very true.

    10/17/10, 5:24 am

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