PS:298 – Step Forward

So I decided to give things a go.  The issue I sometimes have is I tend to overthink a step, so I said: “Take one”.

My day has far from wound down, it’s nearly 2 AM, and I’m exhausted but I sat down and drafted 3 t-shirts from quotes and old friend used to say – from there I made a very BASIC advertising commitment on Facebook to see if I can actually create a response, and maybe, just maybe make a profit.

I have other options for making shirts, but since I’ve used the platform TeeSpring before I figured why not.

The shirts are located here at the Awesomely Hardcore Store:

PS:297 — What next?

I have a lot on my mind lately. Christmas is over, and yet here we move quickly into 2017, and I’m trying to formulate a plan. What’s next is my big question.

I talked tonight to one of the tech’s where I do some server work, and found out one of the other engineers put in his notice a few days before the holiday. He asked when I was to be hired full time. So far no offers have been made – not sure!

Aside from that, I’m toying with several ideas; several “side” projects that I can create a more passive revenue stream.

So far creating T-Shirts has been on my radar. Quite a bit strangely. I mean I have FlockHosting/Thrust Networks to work on the continued growth and expansion of the brand, but still creating has been a big desire for me lately.

I see customers making money, I see others making money, and while this year my revenues are up from last, I would like more security in my revenue stream. Right now a handful of customers haven’t paid or “the checks in the mail” and with Holiday shipping, I bet it is… somewhere.

I want to build. I want to create. Shirts would give me that option, but I think the thing is with marketing, I’m afraid to be annoying. LOL

What I mean by that and I think the same goes for FlockHosting and Thrust Networks is I am not one to create a fuss. No reason to blast weekly about my services, there is no need to make 30 posts about features, functions, promotional options because honestly? I block them too. I don’t like annoying people with offers.

I recently watched a short webinar on using one T-Shirt design platform in which they said if I did their tactics I could easily be making $20,000 a month. I don’t know about you but making $240,000 in a year, I could eliminate my debt, build up savings, and heck I could hire someone to do a lot of my heavy lifting.

Now do I honestly think that I could make $20,000/month? I don’t believe it. Even if I did spam Facebook Groups, promote on Google, Amazon, etc. I still think I’d be more in the realm of a job as then a Part Time Designer / Full Time Marketer. I haven’t slept well in a month, adding that sounds like it’d kill me!

Lots to consider, lots to layout if I want to make it happen. For now, going to take a short break, stretch my legs and chill out for a bit.

PS:296 — Got nothing to say

And yet, I’ve opened the app. Maybe just the action of going to do it will help? Nope. Didn’t really help. It has been a long week, a long day, and after fighting with the amazingly beautiful “I don’t need to sleep dad” (I won!) I’m back at the desk solved 2 billing issues, and bouncing back and forth on the options to:

A) Goto Sleep.

B) Work on a Server

C) Veg on YouTube

D) Dance.

E) Consider A again.

The year’s nearly over. Hoping that 2016 will wrap up with more paying customers (the dreaded Pre/Post Christmas Delay) with folks who are out of town/not checking billing issues – hoping its quick and painless.

Back to pondering my options, Happy Friday.

First Dispute with Stripe

Over the years I’ve used a few Credit Card Processors, oi. Some good, some bad, some nightmarish (coughpaypalcough)

Well, today I start the journey of a disputed charge with Stripe. I love the service; I love the ease, the UI for the phone app & web end, smooth, clean, suggest it night and day to customers.

Well, I just got the chime on the phone & the email explaining to me the dispute at hand, that a client (who likely just didn’t realize his two years was up and needed to pay again) disputed two charges one for the domain, and one for another two years of hosting. Not exactly what has helped me “wind down” tonight, but such is life. Buckled down, showed the invoices, the email chains with each invoice, and terms of service about canceling service.

So we shall see, the only thing I don’t like (but I understand) is that Stripe is taking funds from my bank -> repay the “fraud.” The last transactions for my account before Christmas is them removing the funds I got + $15 fee for each. I’ve submitted my info, I’ve emailed the customer, hoping between the two we can sort this out and get things rolling smoothly.

I will say this compared to my first “terminal” I used & PayPal’s dispute process, so far I like the quick info provided & a well structured response system. We’ll see if it pays off.

PS:295 — Cleanup on Isle WordPress

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had some customers and customer’s customers who have had their WordPress installs hacked. Bad.

It happens now and again, sites get abandoned, and by abandoned I mean this: WordPress was built to be a blog. Its primary mechanism of updates is to do pushed WordPress upgrades upon visitors coming in, NOT plugins & themes – while this sucks for customers, it is hours for me.

Lately, the hacks infect some benign files like the index.php’s that prevent director indexes in wp-content (so themes & plugins primarily) but today’s was a doozy!

Thie was incredibly basic, literally a theme, a framework, and Akismet. That’s it. Couple pages but it’s one of those “Set it and forget it” style sites, someone, isn’t coming in daily to write, post or check in. They made their content, why do anything else?

Well, it appears the customer downloaded an “Awesome theme!” which was pirated. They didn’t know! I say this was knowing a good chunk of customers sadly who hit this rut are small churches who aren’t out to steal, but when you goto a random site, and it says it’s “Free!!!!” how can you say no? It looks great, pro features and zero cost? Sign me up.

So actually having a legal developer license for this, I got things cleaned up, scanned with maldet, Wordfence, and ClamAV. Their site is now being updated daily by me, well my WordPress management routine which updates WordPress installs with a few clicks of a button, in about 5-10 minutes I’ve run updates and things are safe once again.

While I love hours, and I love getting things done, I do hope tonight wraps up earlier than 5-7am – I’ve had too much going on lately! Next big project is, of course, figuring out a way to get a customer to pay his $1000+ design bill sigh the joys of small business.

PS:294 — Building Sites

So I picked up 6 hours of work from a server customer who was having issues with Apache just puttering out. After reviewing and Apache was getting pounded with about 100+ assets accessed per visit, and about 100 visits a minute, it couldn’t keep up – enter my first run with a CDN, and I must say much easier than any other I’ve ever researched.

keyCDN has been super easy and worked for this customer insanely well as it’s taken the load of those additional resources and serves them from several points around the world to make the site run smoothly. It’s even increased a few scores for the site 5-10 points. This has saved them a TON of bandwidth from my server resources, as well as server resources of CPU/MEMORY as Apache is no longer fighting to load them as quickly as it can and have the PHP processes start to choke as it eats up every ounce of memory.

I’m still, of course, tuning Apache and MySQL moving forward, but overall my first jump into a CDN and a site which had a real justifiable need for it went amazingly well. If you require help setting up your site with a CDN give me a shout and I’ll help get this great tool working for you.

PS:293 — Movies, Sleep, More Work

So I went out and saw Rouge One, not too shabby. I have enjoyed Star Wars since I was a kiddo, it was my go to VHS when I was sick, sadly I don’t actually own it anymore 🙁 but maybe one day I’ll grab the Blu-Ray and binge watch once Rouge One comes out and just do a BIG binge. Worth a watch! Great storyline to lead into Episode 4.

I did manage to get some extra sleep, it’s been nice to rest a little, but those things are always hanging just keep nagging then tonight or this morning… it started almost 5 hours ago a BIG WordPress optimization project with some server tweaks to help a server customer – but who knows I may rest a bit soon. I got the kiddo and wife asleep, though I think Lilly fought more than her mom.

I have a few more tweaks to make, then the final hour which I’ll do tomorrow will be taking the collective stats of the server for the last 12 hours and optimize things a bit further to allow a cleaner Apache tune-up, may do a MySQL tune-up too.

The joys of servers! Off I go.

PS:292 — Finding Drive

With as much that is going on lately, the drive to get things going is difficult to find. Late nights are doing work for other people, most of the day doing upkeep of servers, code, etc. I just get to the point of the day when it’s supposed to be “Me!” and as the clock reads even now 1:08 AM, I find myself say “I just want to watch a few videos on YouTube and go to bed.”

I’ve been pondering the idea of a “me” day. I know a tad self-centered, but how I feel lately it seems like it’d be awesome to have and just give me a bit of a boost in doing something. Not for others, but take all that know-how and dump it into fixing up my 3D Printers, taking control of my garage workshop I have in the works (including mounting a small TV I have for the wall) but just get it all nice and setup. Bigger projects too like that of TechFriendly.Help which while I want to make it a business-friendly blog and maybe make some money from it/youtube channel of it, I never have the time as-is.

Sure I am a husband & a dad, no complaints there, important to spend time with the family, even when sadly it means I’m up till 3-4AM working on customer projects – but I need to be the best version of Chuck for my family.

I don’t know what/how that day rolls out, but I need to find some more dedicated time to where I set aside a day/hours for me. Like right now, I was resting, but when I saw the Vlog from the maker of saying that Desk3 was out, I wanted to get the tools to keep things ready to write. I love the interface of Desk previously and 3, so far as I type this? A joy to write on, wish Grammarly worked on it so I can look like I’m a better writer 🙂

Going to try and wrap up for the night, been reading, even have a book on I got for my free trial, I miss reading, but at this point, I’ll take someone reading it to me if it means I take in additional information! Been doing that with the Bible App for a while now, well in addition to pulling out the old trusty Bible from under this monitor – just gotta get in new information!

Night all.

PS:291 — No sleep.

It never fails. Sleep is completely lost over the process of a night, got maybe 45 minute power nap during the day, and tonight, I’m hoping to wrap up here soon.

Putting in some more ground work on the tasks I set ahead of myself, TFH is hovering pretty well, really going over some things which are part of a course I signed up for – it will help focus me a bit more and get things lined up to hopefully grow it into a business a bit more.

Clothing and such, really excited about this, but not sure what I am going to do design wise 100%, the company who’s going to do my printing has offered a sample, I just need to provide the artwork, thinking a nice FlockHosting shirt would be nice, take my collection up to two, and maybe get a poster for the wall in here… artwork, now I sound all fancy.

New is not where I want it to be, maybe more time on it here tomorrow after some sleep.

For now, few more hours of work, then hopefully in bed before 3 if I can wing it.

PS:290 — Bummed.

Many have said it and I’m going to agree. 2016 was rough, but you know what else is true about trials? You come out on the other side stronger, tempered, ready to conquer the world, unless you let it just shatter you.

I’ve felt incredibly un-appreciated lately. I’ve been running myself ragged the past few weeks even now it’s nearly 5AM, sitting in the office working. Customers aren’t paying. Some by choice, some out of spam filters, and others because they’ve passed away.

Sucks to have customers not care, but in the case of one project, it was to help a friend, but he’s now decided to take my “deal” pricing and explain to me he’s not going to pay because he’s not happy, and wants to part ways:

I just don’t want to waste your time anymore. I will not use site. Please let me know how much I owe you for your troubles. I really appreciate you trying to help me. Thank you

That’s what I got via text, and when I said what the total was for my time, he tells me we need to have a meeting to “discuss” things and mind you this is the common thread, last time to re-build everything, I was promised an additional payment for my troubles, but seems my troubles are up for discussion.

I’ve been bummed out about this, about another customer who’s over a week overdue on a 20hr project, bummed about a sick kiddo, no sleep, and just growth being lack-luster.

But that’s 2016 wrapping up, 2017? Not looking for bummed. Looking for big change. Growth, maybe a steady paycheck from a customer or two. Growing the hosting platform, even tonight building out a customer file-share to get customers video guides (like I just did tonight!) – maybe phasing out Dropbox or just using this for simple storage on my own hosted platform.

This year I want to really focus on growth of the business not just the ministry aspect of things – for a few years now the only growth center has been Church Hosting, on the Thrust Networks side it’s been more side work which is great managing other comapnies assets, but I want to grow mine.

Home office is still in the growth stage too – I want to build a backup server, I have 3 x 5TB drives which I want to use to build a FreeNAS setup – but that’s once the budget levels out, and probably taxes are done so I have everything out the door of big expenses.

I’ve been toying with the idea of an employee too if I can grow things. Thinking someone more in the realm of Sales/Billing – someone to handle that insanity, help me get myself easily be ready for things like taxes and things vs. the big rush in April.

It’s 16 years in business this year – 16 YEARS! That’s just plain crazy. Even one of the companies I do business with (and need to email later today) let me know was an amazing thing in our day in age. So many companies in hosting do sign-up, get a server, then fade away. I’ve know a number, but 16 years. Yowza!

Things I do want to do before the year’s end include (but not limited to:

  • T-Shirt Store Online – Random Gear for FlockHosting, Odd Jobs, and Maybe my own unique set of designs? Basically passive income.
  • Fully Launch TFH – Not going to be an overnight sucess, but have some good content in mind, again more passive income.
  • Launch New – New look, new packages, simpler, faster, cleaner.

That’s the big things, I want this year coming to be a big one, I know folks say that, but recently just looking at things, and you know if you don’t grow, things won’t get better, if things don’t get better, you become stale, and the next 21 yr old kid out of college does the same thing you do but with more energy, you’ve just lost 1/3 of your business because his site has more information.

No more being bummed out. For now though I do need sleep. Dad mode begins in like 2 hours. Night all.