This past week, on my members-only podcast, Shawn Today, I spent 5 episodes on the subject of working from home.
I’ve been working for myself out of my home office for just about 3 years, and, as anyone else who works from home knows, it’s not all coffee and pajamas. Yes, there are many awesome advantages, but there are also many unique challenges and distractions.
While there’s no way I could fully exhaust the topic, I did want to hit a few of the areas that are hot topics for me personally right now. In the weeks ahead, I plan to continue this conversation on the podcast and here in written form as well.
Here’s a quick overview of this week’s episodes:
On Monday’s show, I talked about how taking time off is hard and shared some thoughts on working from anywhere and working all the time, and how it’s so easy to do (especially when you work for yourself).
On Tuesday’s show, I talked about “The Transition”. That time after work where you decompress from the work day and leave behind what was unfinished, and let it wait for the next work day. I shared some of my own pros and cons of working from home as it relates to having an office just one flight of stairs away, and thus the lack of a transition before and after the work day.
On Wednesday I shared many pros and cons to working from home as submitted to me by folks via Twitter in response to this question.
Thursday was about how to deal with the being alone (as in, not physically around other coworkers for face-to-face conversation and interaction) in our victories and defeats. When you’re working on a project alone how do you best celebrate the victory of shipping something and how do you best minimize the criticism that comes with a failure, learning from it rather than taking it to heart?
And on Friday, I shared some thoughts on defining our work by schedule rather than to-do lists.
A huge thanks to those of you who wrote something of your own, sent in emails, and/or shared your thoughts via Twitter after various episodes. These shows turned out better because of your feedback.
If you’re a current member to the site and haven’t already listened to this week’s podcast episodes, you’ll find them here (as always).
And, of course, if you’re not a member, you can sign up here. It’s $4/month and you’ll get access to the members-only podcast feed and the archive page with links to every single one of the 450 episodes recorded to date (including this week’s series on working from home).
Today is the day. It’s here. The Sweet Setup has launched.
There are three groups of people I want to thank:
All the contributing authors who’ve been working with me over the past few months to research, test, compare, and pick a “best” app: Federico Viticci, Ben Brooks, Dr. Drang, Bradley Chambers, Stephen Hackett, and John Moltz. As well as Jeff Abbott who edits every word on the site.
There is much more to say about the site, but right now I’m busy fixing launch-day typos and broken links. I hope you’re able to take some time to check out the site and read some of our fantastic and considered articles. If you’re not sure where to start, take the Dime Tour.
By the time you read this, my laptop lid will be closed and my iPhone’s push notifications turned off for the week.
I don’t know if it’s like this for others, but for me, taking time off is one of the biggest challenges I face as a self-employed person. In the past, when I’ve gone on vacations or spent holidays with the family, I still try to spend at least a little bit of time every day working to keep the site updated.
But for this year’s vacation, I am unplugging from all my inboxes and publishing responsibilities and leaving the writing to someone else.
Friends, I’m pleased to introduce you to my cousin, Nate Spears, who has agreed to step in as the first-ever guest writer for the week.
Nate is 29 days younger than I and was the best man in my wedding. When he and I were 14 we tried to start a comic book company — our drawing skills were pathetic, and my dad was our first and only customer. Now, Nate is a software developer living in Colorado while currently commuting to San Francisco every week bless his soul.
When I was considering who I wanted to hand the reins over to for this week, I knew Nate would be perfect. For one, Nate emails me links to random, interesting, and/or hilarious stuff all the time. This week, instead of sending links and commentary to me through email, I’ve given Nate the keys to the site so he can post things here for you instead. Also, Nate is a great thinker and storyteller, so who knows what he’s got in store for the site.
Today is the last day of the 2013 Membership Drive. The window of opportunity to win something from the more than $3,000 in prizes in the giveaway closes tonight at Midnight CST.
Update: The giveaway drive is now over and winners will be contacted during the first week of March. The ability to sign up for a Membership to shawnblanc.net and all the perks that includes, of course, always open.
You can sign up for your awesome membership right here.
As a reminder for the giveaway, all active members (new or longstanding) are eligible to win — it’s not just for the new members. If you want to toss your name in the hat for a specific prize from the list please fill out this form. If you end up winning something I’ll do my best to hook you up with the prize you’re interested in.
I am so incredibly grateful and honored by all the friends of the site who’ve generously donated something to to the giveaway. And thanks to all the members who have signed up already over the past two weeks. Without an ounce of hyperbole, I mean it when I say I could not do what I do without your support.
I tend to enter into these drives with two expectations: a low-end expectation of how many people will “probably” sign up, and an optimistic goal of how many people I “hope” will sign up. This year, my low-end expectation was for 100 new members to join. And my hope was for 250 because, well, my wife and I have our second kid on the way and she’ll be quitting her part-time job this fall.
There is still a half-day to go, but already this year’s membership drive has been a success. As of this writing, there have been 115 new member signups. Which means the future of this site continues to look bright. Thank you!
Moreover, quite a few members who were on the PayPal system have migrated their membership over to the new Stripe system. (To those still on the fence about if it’s worth it to migrate your membership, I say go for it. Everything about the Stripe system is just better and easier.)
Something that’s interesting to me is the ratio of Annual Membership signups versus the month-to-month signups. For the previous PayPal-based membership system, about 10-percent of new signups were for the annual membership plan. But on the Stripe-based system, it’s just over 20-percent. I can only attribute this change to the fact that the Annual Membership plan is much more visible on the new signup page.
On the old sign-up page, there was just one button and it was for the standard $3-month plan. And down the page were some text-link options for the Executive Membership and the Annual Memberships. When building the new signup page I was very concerned that showing all 4 membership plans so prominently would actually dissuade people away from signing up at all. But, so far as I can tell, that has not been the case.
Another concern I had was with the price increase. I effectively raised the cost of a membership by 33-percent, from $3/month to $4. But I have not received a single complaint that $4 is too much. Not even from the longstanding members who voluntarily migrated their membership from the $3 PayPal subscription to the new $4 Stripe subscription.
All this to say, I am once again blown away at the generosity of this site’s readership. The membership continues to be the primary source of income allowing me to write here full time. Thanks to everyone who has supported this site over the years through a membership or through simply showing up to read. It means the world to me.
And, though I wanted to, I decided not to post any cute pictures of my 1-year-old son announcing his unborn sibling as a way to tug on your heartstrings and maybe guilt you into becoming a member. I mean, come on. Who would do a thing like that?
Yesterday was the kickoff to the 2013 membership drive. As mentioned in that post, there is a new membership system which is now based on Stripe. Also, I announced a new, members-only perk: the Coffee Methods section to the website.
Today, I aim to make things even more fun through the giveaway.
But first things first: my sincere thanks to all the new members who’ve signed up in the past 24 hours. Welcome!
Also, thanks to all the current members who have chosen to migrate their membership over to Stripe. For those of you who aren’t sure if you should migrate over to the new system, I hope you will. Unfortunately, I cannot port your membership for you, nor can I merge the two — which means there are two unique systems in place. Those who wish to stay with PayPal will continue to get access to the membership benefits just as they always have. But new Stripe-based system is leaps and bounds better than the PayPal system, removing nearly all of the frustrations and shortcomings of the latter. I apologize for asking you take this extra step, but I think it’s worth it and the feedback I’ve heard from all the members who have migrated so far has been great. Everyone gives Stripe two thumbs up.
For those who haven’t yet signed up for a membership, well, like they say: there’s no time like the present.
Members contribute nearly half of this site’s income. Which means there is no way I could be writing here as my full-time gig without the generous support of the members.
Ideally, you are signing up to become a member because the value and enjoyment you get from the writing on this site is worth it to you. But, modesty aside, the members-only perks are a sweet bonus as well, if I do say so myself. But that’s not all.
During the next two weeks of this membership drive my chief aim is to try and sweeten the deal as much as possible. Therefore, I’ve arranged for some sweet prizes to give away to all members who are currently active, or who sign up for a membership on or before March 1.
Anyone who signs up for a membership before 11:59 pm CST on Friday night, March 1 is eligible to win. And all members who already have an active membership are automatically eligible as well. In short, if you’re an active member as of Friday night, March 1, then you’re entered to win.
There are a slew of top-notch prizes donated by friends of the site, with an aggregate value of $3,150.
The List of Prizes
- Visual Supply Co.: 3 copies of a VSCO Film pack (winner picks the pack they want).
- Studio Neat: 5 Cosmonauts and 5 Glif+ kits for either iPhone 4 or 5.
- Backblaze: Three 1-year backup plans.
- Tom Bihn Tri-Star travel bag.
- Tom Bihn Travel Tray in Darcy Gray.
- One GroovBoard for iPad.
- The Sketchnote Handbook: Mike Rhode’s illustrated guide to visual note taking.
- Ugmonk: 2 Mountain Tees.
- United Pixelworkers: 4 t-shirts (winner picks the shirt they want).
- Bloc: 3 of the large blocs, and 3 of the bloc minis (one each in: cherry, walnut, and maple).
- Two 20×30 prints from Jorge Quinteros (winner picks the print they want).
- Five 8×10 signed prints of my “Americano” photo.
- Incase: Origami Workstation keyboard case and iPad stand.
- Slate & Stylus: Origami iPad Case for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation iPad.
- Dominion: Base card game for 2-4 players.
- Cuvée Coffee1 bag Dead Fingers and 1 bag Espresso Medici. (Courtesy of Seth Goldberg.)
- Summermoon Wood Fired Coffee: 2 bags of Swinging Lantern Tri Roast. (Courtesy of Seth Goldberg.)
- 1Password: 2 licenses each for both Mac and iOS.
- Flickr: Ten 3-month subscriptions to Flickr Pro.
- Fusion Ads: A one-week “Burst” campaign spot. (Winner must have a relevant product / service to promote on the Fusion Ad network.)
- Byword for Mac: 5 licenses.
- 22slides.com: 1-year subscription
- Droplr: Five 1-year subscriptions to Droplr Pro.
- Basics of Markdown: Three copies of this Mijingo screencast.
- Static Websites with Jekyll: Three copies of this Mijingo screencast.
- Evernote Essentials: 5 copies of Brett Kelly’s Evernote guide.
- Fantasical: 5 copies each of the Mac and iOS app.
How to Win and Other Rules
Anyone who signs up for a membership before 11:59 pm CST on Friday, March 1 will automatically be in the runnings to win something.
If you are already a member with an active membership, you are eligible to win.
You do not have to live in the United States to win — international members are most welcome and most eligible.
The drive ends at 11:59 pm CST on March 1, and the drawing will be held sometime the following week. It will be random and I will contact the winners via their PayPal or Stripe email address.
If there is a certain prize in particular that you’d like to win over another, please fill out this form. I will check it once the winners are drawn to try and get people a prize they prefer. You do not have to fill out the form to win, only to request a particular prize.
Welcome to the kickoff of the 3rd Annual Membership Drive.
This is always a fun time of year for me because not only do I get to give away some awesome stuff (check back tomorrow for the giveaway), but I also get to brag on the current members a bit as well as try my best to persuade any and all non-members to sign up.
It’s been two years since I quit my job and began writing shawnblanc.net as my full-time gig. It’s amazing how vividly I remember being scared out of my wits the morning I announced my intentions to take this site full time. It’s worked out well so far, and I have every intention of continuing.
What’s New This Year?
This year there are some new and fancy things to take note of. For one, the membership system now uses Stripe for processing payments. Secondly, there is a new member’s only section to the site.
Stripe for Payment Processing
The entire membership subscription system has been completely redone. I’ve abandoned PayPal for Stripe, and I’ve integrated the members-only sections into the site in a far more easy-to-use manner.
The new Stripe-based membership system is just fantastic. I switched because Stripe allows for several advantages, including: (a) more reliable billing (many members’ subscriptions have been suspended for no reason, other than a bug in PayPal), (b) easier way to find and access Shawn Today, along with overall better integration with the content on shawnblanc.net, and (c) easier membership management and administration for me.
It really is a significant upgrade the the entire membership system. If you’ve been waiting to become a member, there is no better time than now.
Note to current members who signed up using PayPal: If you wish to move to the new Stripe system, you will have to migrate yourself. I wish I could port your membership for you but I cannot. I apologize for asking you take this extra step, but I think it’s worth it.
Current members have two options:
- You can keep your current PayPal membership subscription active and continue enjoying the membership benefits as you have. Nothing will change for those who stay with PayPal.
- Or you can move to the new Stripe system and cancel your PayPal subscription.
To migrate your membership from PayPal to Stripe, here’s what to do:
If you have any trouble, any questions, or if you need a refund for a recent PayPal billing, please do not hesitate to email me.
Coffee Methods: The New, Members-Only Perk
I’m introducing a new content section to the site: Coffee Methods. This new members-only section is filled with my favorite recipes for AeroPress, French Press, Siphon Vacuum Pot, and Clever dripper. It also includes gear recommendations (such as grinders, brewing contraptions, coffee storage, etc.), and videos (gear overview and how-tos). All for the express purpose of brewing and enjoying good coffee.
My Humble Request
Over the years, this site’s membership base has continued to be the primary source of income allowing me to write here full time. Moreover, the feedback I get regarding Shawn Today proves to me that the perks alone are worth the price of admission.
If the value and enjoyment you get from this site is worth $4/month, then I would be humbled and honored to have your support as a subscribing member. Thank you.
Over the past week a handful of prizes have been added to the giveaway:
- Photography prints from Joel Zimmer.
- Mac or Windows licenses of 1Password.
- Mac and iOS combo codes for Day One.
- Signed copies of Patrick Rhone’s upcoming new book, Enough.
- A Fusion Ads Burst campaign.
- Some Symbolicon bundles.
The complete list of prizes is here, along with all the info about who’s eligible to win, and how to put your name in the hat for a particular prize if you’d like.
Reminder About The Members Journal
The first edition of The Members Journal went out today and I think it turned out great. It was lighthearted, fun, and had dozens of promo codes to four top-notch iPhone apps.
For members who want to get The Members Journal (you have to sign up because it is an opt-in list) you can do so on the members info page. Your password for that page can be found in the info email you received from me after signing up for your membership.
Reminder About the Executive Membership
Last week I introducing a new subscription level that gets you all the same benefits as the $3 membership but for $12/month. This is for those who have offered to or who are glad to pay more for their membership.
Reminder About How Awesome You Are
As always, to all the current members: a million thanks for your support. And to the readers who continue to show up day in and day out: thank you for your time.
Welcome to the 2012, PBS-Style Membership Drive and Giveaway for shawnblanc.net.
Yesterday I kicked off this years Membership Drive by introducing a new members-only perk (The Members Journal) and a new subscription level (the Executive Membership), and recording a new video.
For all the new members who signed up in the past 24 hours: thank you. To all the current members who have kept their membership going or who have upgraded to an Executive Membership: thank you. And to those who are about to join: thank you, too.
Members contribute nearly 50-percent of this site’s income. Needless to say there is no way I could be writing here as my full-time gig without the generous support of the members. It means the world to me that readers are directly supporting the work I do here.
Ideally, you are signing up to become a member because the value and enjoyment you get from shawnblanc.net is worth it to you, and the members-only perks are a nice bonus of course. But my job is to try and sweeten the deal as much as possible. And so, I’ve arranged for some things to be won if you sign up to become a member.
For those of you who have not yet signed up to be a member, there is, as they say, no time like the present.
The 2012 Membership Drive and Giveaway
Anyone who signs up for a membership before midnight CST on March 25 will be entered to win one of the prizes listed below. Current members who have signed up over the past year are also entered to win, so long as their membership is active.
There are a metric ton of top-notch prizes, all donated by friends of the site, with an aggregate value in excess of $4,200.
The List of Prizes
Jorge Quinteros photography: Two 20×30 prints (winner picks which prints).
Joel Zimmer photography: Two 11×14 prints (winner picks which prints).
Fantastical: 7 licenses.
Reeder: 10 license each of the Mac app, the iPhone app, and the iPad app.
Alarms App: 10 licenses.
Typekit: 5 Portfolio Accounts (one year long).
JetPens: A Portable Writing Kit, including: Field Notes Color Cover Memo Book, Red Blooded 3 Pack; Uni-ball Signo (DX) UM-151 Gel Ink Pen – 0.38 mm – Black; and Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Model Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm, Gun Metallic Body.
Flickr: 5 subscriptions to Flickr Pro (one year long).
1 bag David Lynch Signature Cup Organic House Blend. (Courtesy of Seth Goldberg.)
Enough: 2 signed copies of Patrick Rhone’s upcoming new book.
Day One: 5 sets of Mac and iOS app codes.
Fusion Ads: A one-week “Burst” campaign spot. (Winner must have a relevant product / service to promote on the Fusion Ad network.)
Symbolicons: 5 licenses for these icon bundles.
Writing Kit for iPad and iPhone: 10 licenses.
How to Win, Etc.
Anyone who signs up for a membership before midnight CST on Sunday, March 25 will automatically be in the runnings to win something.
If you are already a member with a current membership, you are eligible to win.
You do not have to live in the United States to win — international members are most welcome and most eligible (though some prizes are not available outside the US).
The drive ends at midnight CST on March 25, and the drawing will be held sometime around last week in March. It will be random and I will email the winners at their PayPal email address.
If there is a certain prize in particular that you’d like to win over another, please fill out this form. I will check it once the winners are drawn to try and get people a prize they prefer. You do not have to fill out the form to win, only to request a particular prize.
This time last year I was sitting at my desk with MarsEdit open and my mouse pointer hovering over the “Send to Blog” button. I remember my palms were clammy, like when you lean over a ledge, and I just sat there, hesitating, for what seemed like the entire morning.
The article was my announcement that I was taking shawnblanc.net full time. So long as that article stayed in my Drafts Folder, then things could continue on as they always had. But once I hit publish, I knew that I was committed.
Publishing that article was like announcing that I was jumping off a cliff and hoping to make it to the other side. And my only hope to make it was to humbly ask that you guys — the readers — be willing to support the site directly by becoming members.
I have been shocked and humbled by the incredible response to the membership — thanks to the direct support from the readers, I’ve been able to write this site day in and day out for the past year. It has been fantastic. And I’d very much like to keep writing.
For those of you who have signed up for a membership in the past year: thank you. With no exaggeration, I mean it when I say I am honored and humbled by your support. As your membership renews I hope you will continue to stay on as a direct supporter of this site.
Two points of note for current members:
Current members who want to subscribe to The Members Journal: it is an opt-in list. If you’d like to sign up you can do so on the members info page. Your password for that page can be found in the information email you received from me after signing up for your membership.
Regarding the Executive Membership: I’m introducing a new subscription level that gets you all the same benefits as the $3 membership but for $12/month. This is for those who have offered to or who are glad to pay more for their membership.
Excluding last year’s membership drive, I have done little to promote the membership over the past year. Primarily because, in my opinion, storing up all the attention of the membership for a big annual membership drive is more fun.
And so, for those of you who are new to the site, or who perhaps are long-time readers, but have not signed up for a membership, this is the time of year where I humbly ask that you consider signing up for a membership.
The direct support that comes in from readers makes up for nearly half of this site’s income. I literally could not continue to write here full time without the support of subscribing members.
The primary membership benefit is that you’re allowing me to spend my full attention working on this site.
There are of course, some additional, members-only perks:
Shawn Today: The member’s only broadcast. It’s short, uncut, fun, and often involves coffee. It’s intended to be a daily show, but it averages out to about every-other day (in the past 12 months since starting Shawn Today, I’ve recorded over 175 episodes).
The Members Journal: This is a new-in-2012 perk that I’ve just launched. The Members Journal is an email sent out on occasion. It’s not a regular email (as in every week or every month) because I don’t expect to regularly have content for it. But, when it does go out it will contain things such as:
- Giveaways and promo codes for apps (developers often send me these to give away to the members).
- Links to apps, articles, videos, and other things which never made it onto the home page of shawnblanc.net for one reason or another. This is affectionately known as The Cut List.
If the value and enjoyment you get from shawnblanc.net is worth that to you, then I would love to have your support as a subscribing member.
A membership is just $3 a month — like a good cup of coffee — and you can sign up here.
Below are listed the proper spellings and capitalizations of certain tech names which are commonly capitalized incorrectly.
One Word, Medial Capitals
- MacBook (Air/Pro)
One Word, no Medial Capitals
Two words, not Title Case
- iPod touch
- iPod nano
- iPod shuffle
- iPod classic
- Mac mini
- Home screen
- Retina display
Product Names That Don’t Even Exist
TextExpander Snippet Group
Download and import this TextExpander snippet group to help you properly capitalize these names for the times you accidentally miscapitalize them.
On Friday I picked up the Tools & Toys t-shirts from the print-house and they look fantastic. Over the weekend Anna and I arm-wrestled PayPal, printed shipping labels, folded shirts, and packed the shipments. I am going to the Post Office this morning to drop everything off, which means the shirts will be arriving at your door within the next several days.
If you ordered a large shirt, they are unfortunately back ordered from American Apparel. The local shop that printed my order is expecting the shirts to arrive from American Apparel later this week, and as soon as they do your shirts will be the first to get printed.
Again, thanks to everyone that ordered a shirt. Wear it often, and wear it proudly.
About the Design
Designed by yours truly. I have always liked the use and look of gears in design. They are a fun way to conceptualize creativity as something which requires work, thought, and momentum. Gears are also a great way to communicate the idea of computers as mechanical hardware.
Also, I very much like the slogan “Computers are for Creating”. It rings true for all walks of creative professionals — writers, podcasters, photographers, musicians, designers, developers, et al. It’s a phrase for folks like us.
About the Shirts
The shirts are dark grey, 50/50 blend, ringspun American Apparel Tees. These are very high-quality shirts (I prefer them over the 100% cotton shirts), and they offer superior screen printing results.
They will be hand-printed at a professional screen-printing shop located right here in Kansas City.
Orders will be taken until 11:59 PM CST on Tuesday, August 23. The batch will then be printed and will ship around the first week in September.
It has been nearly two months since I began writing shawnblanc.net full-time, and it has been wonderful. I love this gig.
By far and away the most frequently asked question I’ve been getting is: How’s it going?
And so I am going to take this week and answer that question in great detail.
- I’ll be writing about the software I use to write this site and how I use it.
- I will be sharing what my day looks like and why.
- I’ll be bringing up some of the challenges and breakthroughs I’ve had as a writer since taking this gig full time.
- I’ll discuss how I’m balancing my work life and my personal life now that I work from home and am self-employed.
- And I’ll be answering some reader-submitted questions.
But to start it all off, I wanted to first say thank you. I would not be writing this if it were not for the support from all of you guys — the members, the weekly sponsors, the readers.
Those of you who have signed up as subscribing members are providing a critical income stream which has actually allowed me to publish this site full time.
To all the fantastic developers, companies, and other fine folks who sponsor the RSS feed or advertise on Fusion, thank you.
And really, to everyone — all of you nerds who continue to show up day after day — thanks.
On the homepage of a weblog, when you’ve scrolled to the bottom of the recent posts displayed but before you get to the footer, what should you see?
Most commonly you’ll find a link for “previous entries” or “older entries”. A link that takes you to Page 2 of the site. And page 2 is always the same format as the homepage.
There are some unique dynamics to weblog design. You’re designing for three groups of people:
- Regular readers who check in daily, or near daily
- Familiar readers who check in occasionally
- New visitors
Regular readers tend to hang out at the top of the site or in the RSS feed. Since they are tracking with the weblog they are up to date with what’s been written lately. In fact, many regular readers may not even visit the site and read only from their feed reader.
Familiar readers who check in occasionally are likely to only peruse and read what’s on the homepage. They come to the site, look to see what’s new that they haven’t seen since last time, and then move on.
New readers are actually most likely showing up for the first time onto a permalink page because they got to your site via a link or a search result to something specific. From there, if they like what they’ve read, they’re likely to read more articles or click to the home page and see what is happening.
And so, when someone (who is most likely a new visitor) has scrolled to the bottom of the recent posts on the homepage, before they get to the footer what should they see?
Is a link to Page 2 the best option? I don’t know; the advantages and disadvantages vary based on the site.
Advantages of having a link to Page 2:
- It’s conventional: Lots and lots of sites use it.
- It’s familiar: Because it’s conventional.
- It’s simple: There is only one option: If you want more, click here. If not, see you later alligator.
- You stay in the same context: The format of page 2 is the same as page 1 which means the reader is not changing contexts from reading to lists to reading again.
Disadvantages of having a link to Page 2:
On this site I post dozens of links to every one article. If someone is scrolling through page by page it means they are primarily scrolling through lists of links. And while that’s cool, links are not the premier feature of this site. Though they are the most common type of post, they’re not the most valuable.
Some of the work I am most proud of may not have been in the past few weeks or even months. Someone browsing page by page may never get to what I am most proud of.
What Others are Doing
I wanted to see how other weblogs handle pagination navigation. I took screenshots of the bottom of the homepage of 31 different weblogs to compare how they’ve implemented pagination navigation, if they’ve implemented it at all.
I chose sites that are run as a traditional blog, meaning the most recent posts are at the top of the page and usually where several posts are shown at once. I also chose sites that are published by people who (most likely) have thought through this sort of thing for their site.
Of the 31 sites, 19 had some sort of “older entries” style pagination navigation and 12 had something else.
Weblogs with pagination navigation: Kottke.org, Jason Santa Maria, TechCrunch, Jeffery Zeldman’s Daily Report, dooce, Seth Godin, Andy Ihnatko, 43 Folders, Cameron Moll, Panic Blog, Liz Danzico, The Hickensian, Simplebits, The Brooks Review, I Love Typography, swissmiss, This is my next…, Waxy.org, and 37signals.
Weblogs with something other than pagination navigation:
- Marco.org: A list of all archives by month
- Subtraction: A list of all categories
- Shaun Inman: A list of all categories and all archives by month
- Ignore the Code: Infinite scrolling
- Daring Fireball: Full text of the two most recent articles that were not written in the past 7 days
- Airbag Industries, Kevin Kelly, and Rands in Repose: Nothing
- Veerle’s Blog: Featured article and recommended categories
- Zen Habits, Chris Bowler: Link to full archives list
- Paul Stamatiou: List of favorite articles
Trying Something New
Since the inception of this site I’ve had the common link to Page 2. I am now testing something new here: I replaced the link to Page 2 with links to recent articles, interviews, and reviews instead. I’ve also increased the number of articles and links that appear on the home page to 25 total.
The goal is to offer the best choice for the reader, based on what I, as the publisher of my site, consider to be the most valuable. Is a link to Page 2 the best way for a reader to continue exploring my site, or would they be better served by discovering the articles I’ve written and am most proud of? 1
Honestly, I’m not sure yet. Though I do think that if I only ever wrote articles it may be a different answer.
- Some readers have written in to suggest that I offer a link to Page 2 as well as a link to recent articles, reviews, and interviews. I somewhat like this idea, but my biggest hesitancy is that it may present too many options. When a user is presented with too many choices they will likely chose none. In fact, I already am feeling like having 3 links at the bottom of the page is too many. But at least they are 3 links of the same type. ↵
Six weeks ago I announced that I was taking the site full time and that to make it happen I would be offering a membership to the site. There was a month-long membership drive with the goal of promoting membership sign-ups before I started my first day as a full-time writer for shawnblanc.net. (Which was yesterday, by the way.)
Here is a quick update on where things stand as of today.
For starters, I’m sure you will be delighted to know, the membership drive was a success. There are two benchmarks I have for the membership subscription base:
- There is the minimum number of members which is needed simply to cover the necessities of life and the hard costs of running this site.
- There is an ideal subscriber base which would cover the additional expenses now equated with publishing this site full time.
Up until yesterday the income I got from this site was all “extra” income. I had a full-time job and didn’t need the income this site was generating. The Fusion ads and RSS sponsorships covered the hard costs (primarily hosting and my internet service provider) and then what was left over I used to pay for software, hardware, and the other things I write about here.
But now that I’ve quit my full-time job, the income this site makes has a new priority: food and shelter. Or, put another way, the RSS Sponsorships help me buy food to eat instead of software to write about.
Thankfully, the membership numbers have gone above that minimum level needed for me to sustain this site as my full-time gig. Moreover, people are still signing up — every day the membership base grows a little bit more. (Thank you!)
Once the membership numbers reach my ideal goal I will be able to budget for the purchasing of software and hardware as needed, and even set aside enough funds for things such as traveling to Macworld in 2012. I try to run a tight and frugal operation, but at the same time being involved in and writing about the design- and tech-savvy community isn’t exactly a free ride.
All this to say that the lights in my office will stay on, my internet service will not be disconnected, and if I skip lunch one day it’s likely out of forgetfulness rather than necessity.
I cannot express how very grateful to have this opportunity. I get to work from the comfort of my own home, keep my own schedule, and be involved in the things which I love and am passionate about. Not to mention I get to write for and interact with fine readers such as yourselves all day long. Thank you for helping make this a reality.
Regarding the Membership Drive Giveaway
For those of you who signed up for a membership during the membership drive, all the emails have been sent out to the winners. They were sent to the primary email addresses in your PayPal account, so if you don’t check that email often, you may want to.
There were 84 prizes in total, worth over $2,000. Many, many, thanks to all the writers, designers, developers, and friends who donated to the membership drive:
- Jorge Quinteros
- First & 20
- Brett Kelly
- Fusion Ads
- Michael Lopp
- Cameron Moll
- Idea Cafe
- Red Sweater Software
- Icon Resource
- Ryan Irelan
- Realmac Software
- Sky Balloon Studio
- Attachment Tamer
- Due App
Another Shameless Plug to Sign Up for a Membership if You Haven’t Yet
Membership subscriptions are still available and will be indefinitely. Membership to the site is just 3 bucks a month — like a good cup of coffee — and includes some very cool members-only perks. Primarily that you’ll be supporting the full-time writing and growth of shawnblanc.net, and you’ll get access to Shawn Today, the daily, members-only broadcast.
And, what the heck? So long as we’re at it… Another fantastic way to support this site is to sponsor the RSS feed. Sponsoring the feed is a win-win-win situation: you get your product or service promoted to a large audience of design- and tech-savvy readers, the readers in turn get to discover something new they may have not known about, and I get to put food on the table.