Saturday, September 22, 2012

Affiliate Ducks

It's strange. I had like nothing to do for two and a half months, and now I have more to do than I know what to do with.

Well maybe not quite that much, but it seems like a lot relative to how it's been. It's funny how that goes. To a point it seems like my level of stress is the same if I'm doing one thing a week or 30. To a point. There was only one season in my life that I can remember being so busy that I literally had NO time. And all I really remember from that period is wanting to die. So I'd rather not repeat that.

Still, it's good to have something to do again.

This week I got a contract (I'm calling it that even though there isn't technically a 'contract'––most of the 'contractors' that I've known in my life never actually had contracts) to do a promo video for an organization out in the wilderness about an hour west of us. It was all thanks to an old friend/former sort-of-coworker from church who showed them my demo-reel without me even asking him to. So I've spent yesterday and today over there discussing what it should be like with them.

Today I took Misha, my sister, over with me to play with a girl she happens to know there. We ended up waiting for a while, so I showed her around the property, which is really beautiful. It rained a bit though, so we ended up inside with all the stuffed animals.

Also this week, I picked up a job posting (not writing, just posting) articles and reviews on a website for another friend/former sort-of-boss from church who has been building this affiliate marketing empire online. Will probably be only a few hours a week, but hopefully I'll learn some stuff from it that I can apply to my own attempts to make money that way.

And I'm studying for the FSOT.

I've been doing that for like three months now on and off. Haven't really told a ton of people about it, first because I don't know if I'll pass, and even if I do, passing is only about 10% of the battle. It doesn't mean you get to be a Foreign Service Officer, it basically just means you have the right to apply to be a Foreign Service Officer. So that's October 1.

The second reason is I don't want people to start thinking that I'm some sort of professionally unemployed test-taker––after I randomly took the LSAT this spring. The difference is I did that just to see if I could. I've never wanted to be a lawyer. I have, on the other hand, thought working for the State Department would be awesome since at least my first semester at Bryan... which is almost three years ago now. Wow. Has it really been that long?

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Gray Colorful Life

Life just seems to work for some people.

In saying that, I don't mean that my life doesn't work. Obviously I've had a tremendously blessed one compared to the vast majority of people throughout time and space. But there are some discrepancies that make me stop and think sometimes.

I have a few friends and relatives––by no means all of them, but a fair group––who I've always felt see life in a very black and white way, and have lived lives to back their views up.

They're talented in the same areas that  they have interest in, and are able to turn those interests into occupations. They have plans that work. They're attracted to people who are attracted to them, and generally mary their high-school sweethearts and all that. And while I'm not saying they don't struggle, they generally see less of a discrepancy between what they believe about God, life and the world and their own experience of those things.

I'm not jealous of those people (in fact I'm usually very, very happy for them) but when I look from them to my own life, it gives me pause sometimes. 

When I was a little kid, the only thing I was really interested in was science. I loved reading about the world––or rather having my Mom read about it to me because I'm dyslexic and couldn't read till I was about 13. And so I wanted to be a scientist. Preferably an environmental biologist. 

Then I got to high-school, and right about the time I finally learned to read, I discovered I had huge problems with higher math––to the point that I couldn't even pass high-school chemistry. So there went the scientist thing. 

When I went to college (after half a year of indecision and fear) I decided to major in anthropology as the next best thing. It was basically science, it involved research, but it didn't require chemistry, or calculus, or anything other than the remedial algebra class that I had to have hours of tutoring to get through. A couple years into that though and I realized the only practical application for it after school was more school, and then eventually becoming a college professor, which I had no interest in doing. 

At that point, I pretty much said screw-it to whatever I was interested in, transfered schools and changed my major to communications. I guess I'm still trying to figure out if I can actually do anything with that. 

On a different but related front, the only girl I liked all through my teens had no interest in me, and even if she did, we were completely incompatible in many, many ways.

In college, the only girl I ever tried to date pretty much rejected me (okay, it was more complicated than rejected but in the end I would have probably preferred that to what happened). 

I could give more examples, but the reason I'm writing this isn't to complain that I've somehow had a depressing life of failure, but that I feel like it's been a very convoluted life. 

The things I've been successful at have generally been seemingly random things that I wasn't even planning on succeeding at. Sometimes to the point that it seems absurd. "I hiked the Lebanon Mountain Trail and produced an award winning documentary about it.... Wait, I did what?"

Likewise, I've had many people, from English professors to journalists tell me I'm a good writer (something you can easily and unequivocally discount by reading this blog). But I can't remember ever wanting to write... anything really. 

Why is it that things I want to do are almost always things that I can't do, and vice-versa? Why is it not that way for some people? Why is it only black and white for them?

Occasionally I think it's better this way. Sometimes I even like to flatter myself and think that I have a more colorful life. But other times I wonder if it's just more gray. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"And money answers everything...."

So it's been a really, really long time since I posted.

I think part of the reason is after my Beowulf post,  I got so many compliments and responses that the idea of coming up with anything that would top or compare to it seemed exhausting.

Getting traffic and attention isn't ever what I wanted this blog to be about. So sorry about that.

The other, probably bigger reason though, is that for the first time all summer, I have been really, intensely busy working on a big project.

It's actually several projects, but they all fit together into one big scheme or organism.

For the last two years I've been making a little bit of money from Google Adsense for YouTube, and two weeks ago, two things happened that caused me to try and scale my efforts on there to the next level.

The first was traffic on my personal YouTube channel increasing dramatically, to where I was consistently getting over 3k views a day.

The second was meeting a friend, and former boss who has been using Adsense in conjunction with affiliate marketing programs to the point that he's completely replaced his income with it.

So Sunday before last, I registered the domain name,, and throughout the course of the week designed a website, hosted it on the domain, created a YouTube channel with the same name, and wrote four in-depth product reviews, three of which have now turned into review videos that I've posted on the channel.

It's pretty simple really. The trouble with my old channel was that even though it is quite heavily trafficked, the videos aren't about things that are easily or effectively monetized. So my new channel is about digital video cameras and recording equipment––as is the website that it links to.

If I can just get the level of traffic on the ProsumerReviews channel that I have on my personal channel, then I'll be in serious business. The trick will be getting there. It took me a few years to get my personal channel to where it is, and I haven't yet thought of a good way to leverage that momentum over to the new one.

The cool part about these things is once you get them set up, they will continue to pay you constantly for a long period of time whether you continue to do much work on them or not. And that's financial freedom... something I think we all want.

It's probably a long road to that. Right now my monthly take is only barely enough to cover my student loan payments. Not enough to stop looking for other jobs, or even to fix my car's transmission probably. But that's something at least.

At any rate, all that's what I'm working on––almost constantly––right now.