SEO, eCommerce and Presence — Oh My!

Since returning to self employment at the start of October, I’ve focused all my attention on finding new passive sources of income that I could scale up. I’ve spent almost 18 months working as a contractor and have experienced a similar kind of burn out to full time work. Not only do I need a change, the world has has changed a lot since I first became a web developer in 2008. There was a time when being a developer in an agency was the dream, but I think the dream is dead now. Especially in Perth.

I have played around with web development since the age of 12 when I started playing with the Netscape Navigator editor tools, as well as Dreamweaver and Flash at school. I’d played around with game development, Linux and software development but it was creating something visual and with an audience that really excited me. Having mind blowing new gradient features within the Macromedia (Adobe) tools helped too.

20 years later, with a coding career at over 12 years now, I can say for sure that my biggest regret was taking each role and project too seriously. Caring more about the deadline than whether I’d eaten, or showed up to someone’s birthday drinks never made me happy. I’ve worked with some awesome people and wished I’d gotten to know them better. Certainly my family and friends would have preferred my priorities were different too. All up, my career has cost me much and while I’m proud of what I’ve achieved I do feel like I should have more to show for the toll I’ve paid. But I digress.

Using Open Studios as my vehicle, I can create something new for myself that integrates all of my experiences and knowledge into an innovative and sustainable business that doesn’t put a strain on my person. A big revelation to me was that I could get involved in e-Commerce via dropshipping, which is something that I could also be using to create custom paid plugins as I go. Print on Demand services like RedBubble and TeePublic have also made it trivial for me to monetise my existing catalog of custom artwork and designs. Due to it’s amazing features, I now maintain a store on RedBubble as the official Open Studios merch store.

Kamigen is growing by leaps and bounds, well into it’s 4th issue now and standing at 108 developed pages at time of writing. I’ve created a wiki on the Kamigen website and begun experimenting with revenue via advertising and merchandise. Sadly, donations have not come through at all. I’m not sure anyone has even visited the donations page on the Open Studios site. The hardest part here is growing the audience and marketing the comics without spending too much money on ads. I’ve begun analysing the past 12 months of ad performance so I can get better ROI as I don’t have much cash to throw at this.

After being cancelled for 3 years, I’ve decided to renew langenium.com. The franchise has a purpose again within the Open Studios wheelhouse, particularly as it’s huge asset cache alone make it valuable for other artists and developers. I’m really excited to revive this project, particularly to show off the multiplayer aspect and other great ideas I never followed up in the 5 year run it originally had.

Echoes is the working title for a short story anthology series I’m working on, where each short story is a tribute to a different author. The stories are connected and tell an overarching tale when read from beginning to end. When I was a kid I really enjoyed writing short stories and so this is an outlet for that energy. One of the issues I had when working on Langenium is that I tried to use that project to contain every idea I came up with however that made for an overly complicated universe that crumbled under its own mythological and intellectual weight. The Open Studios brand gives me a space to create multiple franchises, multiple worlds and different ideas and then progress them to products that go to market if there’s something worth developing.

Finally, I am working on a new world with the working title of Malbork. Named after a Polish castle, the medieval setting will be a break from the science fiction and ocean scene heavy worlds of Langenium and Kamigen. I’m still figuring out the scaffolding of this world and so far the ideas I’ve had have mostly been aesthetic and too dotted to call it a concept for a world.

There’s a lot of hard work, perseverance and experimenting in my future but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve felt held back by various constraints put on me by clients and employers of yesterday, for the first time I’m making a move that focuses on my strengths and giving me work that I enjoy. It can only pay off, in time.

Don't dream it, be it.