Installing WordPress Multisite for TLDs

These days, a lot of the websites I create are using WordPress on the backend. It’s a breeze to install, fairly light weight, and the developer community around it is fantastic.

The only complaint that I ever have with it is that its framework is being updated ALL THE FREAKING TIME. And it probably wouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but having it say “There’s a new WordPress version” every time you login is kind of annoying. And its even MORE annoying when it happens on CLIENT sites because they expect you to constantly update it for every little change in version. Usually I just say “No thanks”, but despite this I still try and update it for the big releases.

And ladies and gentlemen, I believe that WordPress 3.0 is such a release.

Multisite Functionality Built In
If you’ve been a user of WordPress for any period of time, you may want to check out all the cool additions that are now in 3.0. For me, the biggest feature has GOT TO BE Multisite Functionality or WordPress Mu integration. If you’re not familiar with WordPress Mu, it allows you to run multiple sites off of one WordPress installation. But because it was always treated as a bit of a seperate product, there was an evident lack of consistency between the two products from a usability and functionality point of view. Now to be fair, I don’t know for sure that that has changed, but everything I’ve seen so far leads me to believe it has.



Why I Need WordPress Mu or WordPress Multi-Site
If you don’t know why this is so cool, you probably have not tried to use WordPress Mu and/or have never had a collection of sites powered on WordPress. In my case, I have done both. I had one site that is no longer up called Learn Stuff Online which was basically an About.com before About.com was what it is now. It was supposed to generate tons of AdSense revenue but it was a lot harder to manage than I thought it would be. I had multiple “subjects” on multiple subdomains (hometheater.lso.com, internet.lso.com, etc) and always updating html files to update content on the site became old quick. So one day I had an epiphony to try this whole WordPress Mu thing and I got it KIND OF working. To be honest, it took a lot of work and never felt all the way there as I had to do a lot of fudging on the functionality side to get things working the way I thought they ought to.



Fast forward a couple years, and now I have a collection of my own MFA sites that are powered by WordPress. And more to the point, they are all powered by their own separate WordPress installations. So when I need to create a new site, update the WordPress base or update the slew of plugins on these sites – It’s a huge pain. Now to be honest I don’t think that’s why I hardly update content on those sites, but I think it definitely has kept me at arms reach from doing anything really impactfull with them.

Multisite in WordPress 3.0 is Awesome
But now with WordPress 3.0, I can run all of these sites from a single WordPress installation. That’s right, I’m not just talking about subdomains or directories on a single domain (which you can do too), I’m talking about powering multiple TLDs with a single WordPress 3.0 installation. It took me a lot of figuring out to do it, but with a bit of research and a LOT of work, I did it – And I’ll show you how to do the same. Oh, and before we begin let me say that I host with LunarPages and I have a dedicated server. I’ll show you exactly what I’ve done and I think if you’re in a similar (or even not) a similar situation you should be able to do the same.

Steps to Install WordPress 3.0 Multisite

  1. Download and Install WordPress 3.0.
  2. Download and MANUALLY install the Trunk Version of the Domain Mapping Tool.
  3. Create new WordPress site.
  4. Map TLD to new WordPress site.
  5. Test new WordPress site.

Download and Install WordPress 3.0
So first, go to WordPress.org, download version 3.0 and install it on a domain on your server. Once you’re done and you can ensure that it’s working – go to the next step.

Download and MANUALLY Install the Trunk Version of the Domain Mapping Tool
This part of the tutorial is what I really gleamed from Otto’s post sited below and linked here: http://ottopress.com/2010/wordpress-3-0-multisite-domain-mapping-tutorial/. The domain mapping tool is what’s going to make sure that when someone hits one of your TLDs, that it goes to the appropriate place for your single WordPress installation to serve its particular content. To get the files, download them from here: http://plugins.svn.wordpress.org/wordpress-mu-domain-mapping/trunk/, and then follow steps 1-3 on Otto’s site to MANUALLY INSTALL the Domain Mapping Tool.

Create New WordPress Site
At this point, you should have the Domain Mapping Tool rockin’ and rollin so in your Dashboard go to “Super Admin->Sites” and fill out the bottom blanks under “Add Site”. So for instance, you can enter “test” for Site Address, “Test” for Site Title and an appropriate e-mail for Admin Email. Once you’re editing this new site, change the “Domain” blank to the exact address of your TLD (i.e, example.com). For “Path”, enter “/”. Under Site options, make sure Siteurl is the domain name “http://example.com”, under Home enter “http://example.com” and for Fileupload Url enter “http://example.com/files”. Then scroll all the way down and click the “Update Options” button.

Map new TLD to WordPress Site
Now at this point, your WordPress install should be setup to serve files and content for your new site. And even though we’ve pointed everything correctly in the Domain Mapping Tool, we haven’t actually setup your TLD to point to this WordPress location. For me, this was hands down the hardest part of the install as I couldn’t figure out how to get the server part of this whole thing working. What started me on the good path was Matt Dunlap’s post on the subject here: http://mattdunlap.org/website-development/wordpress/how-to-create-a-network-of-top-level-domains-with-wordpress-3-0.html where he directs you to editing your httpd.conf file. I did this and I believe I got it to work, but I really didn’t like editing my conf file directly. So instead, I went into my WHM and parked my new TLD on top of the domain I installed WordPress on. After that I was IN baby!

Test Final WordPress Site and Tweak if Necessary
So at this point if you’ve setup everything correctly and you’re money like me, you should be able to see your new site when visiting your new TLD. If not, you obviously need to find out what’s wrong. For me, it’s usually in the individual site settings under “Super Admin->Sites”. There’s a little checkbox labeled “Update siteurl and home as well”. This whole section just doesn’t update as I thought it would so I ended up going back in and editing this information again.

NOTE : This was a REALLY long post and I will probably come back and edit it when I get the chance to make it much more helpful.

Also, it wouldn’t be nice of me to not credit the various pages I found that helped me out installing WordPress Multisite on my own server:

Taking Care of My Business with Quickbooks 2007

While it might sound silly (with me being a business owner), I don’t think that I’m a numbers guy. So when it comes to filing our taxes and figuring out which number goes on what line – I’m pretty useless. And since this past filing was really the first time where my main business made any money, I was even more useless than normal and my wonderful wife had her work cut out for herself.

So at the advice of my mom, (who herself is more or less self-employed as a Real Estate agent), I visited her CPA who gave me the skinny on what I should be doing financially with my business, how I should be tracking my money, and what deductions I was probably missing.

Why I Need to Change
After an hour or two of talking with this guy and frantically scribbling down notes, I knew that it would really be to my company’s benefit to start taking my financials more seriously. Plus I knew it would take a lot of pressure off my wife too. I mean, even though I’ve never been one to make people do things for me and the business is for the family and not just me… I really don’t feel good about having the wife do all that work every year since I know others could do it faster and easier. Additionally, (and this is honestly new to me but would’ve made sense if I had stopped to think about it), apparently when you apply for loans and such from banks, you generally provide your financial records which at this point I’d be unable to do because they’re in such disarray.

I’ve Started with Quickbooks!
And yes, it was what my CPA suggested. Basically I can track all of the monies of my business in the program, and at the end of the year (or quarterly or whatever), I can submit a file to my guy that he can use to easily do my taxes. Now, I’m not sure how easy I thought it was going to be to jump into the program but there is def a learning curve to it. For me, it took me about a day, the help of a “Learn Quickbooks” DVD and searching through the Intuit forums to really get going. And by “going”, I mean halfway through getting my records up to date for the year.



You see, I started Quickbooks what… Yesterday?, some 5 months into my company’s fiscal year. And if you’re as new to this whole thing as I am, know that Quickbooks wants to account for EVERY SINGLE penny coming and going from your business. “Of course it does, what’d you think it’d do?” Well what this means in practicality is that every transaction from Jan 1st 2010 to now has to be entered, and correctly, so that your balance from Dec 31st 2009 goes up and down to the correct balance on your statements now… For me, that’s a lot of statements to enter!



But It’s Worth It
At this point I’ve setup all of my clients and their current contracts into the system (which again took me the better part of a day) and I’m sure it’s gonna take me another full one to get all my year’s transactions into the system. But already I can see that this will be great for my peace of mind and organization. It has tons of reports you can run, invoicing, and a bunch of other stuff that I could go into. For me, I’m just very excited to be able to (at a glance) figure out how much money is still coming to me by way of contracts. Of course I could set this up in Excel or something but setting up all those relationships so that sending invoices, receiving invoices, reporting and everything else plays nicely together would take QUITE a long time so again – I’m glad someone did the work for me.

Too Busy to be Bothered With Posting!

There are a number of posts in the queue that I’m really ready to crank out, but I’ve been far too busy to polish them up for your reading pleasure.

Currently, my time has really been split between a certain client site that I had hoped to have done in December, the fantastic goodness that is Borderlands and of course – My kids. It looks like the client site in question is nearing an end which I couldn’t be happier about. It really is a project that has dragged on beyond dragging on. Part of that has been my fault admittedly, but in fairness I know that I’m dealing with one of those clients where you have to gently nudge them at certain times. But I love’em so it’s all good. (#):) (All this time with the site not being done however is hosting money lost so it WOULD be in my best interest to wrap this one up before March).

Kids are doing well and I think I’ve been doing a better job of getting away from the keyboard during the day and giving them some quality dad time. Of course you always worry that it’s not enough but I’m doing what I can and I think it IS an improvement relative to what they were used to. I’ll say though that I think all of us are ready for this cruel Maryland winter to be over so we can go outside and play again. Going on walks and stuff is as good for me as it is for them no doubt.



And finally there is the GEM that is Borderlands. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy the game as much as I have but even on my second playthrough I can’t get enough of the game. I think it’s very possible too that I’ll be downloading all the DLC too! …Which on that note may mean that I won’t be posting again for a long time ha ha!

I’ll Tell You What I Want What I Really Really Want (Part 2)

When you’re a budding entrepreneur, (even though at this point, I think I’m full-fledged), you often look ahead to nicer times…

Times when you’re not worrying about keeping your server dues paid, times when you’re not stressed about paying your designers, times when you’re not worried about getting new work…

It’s also these times when you look ahead to when you’ll have some disposable income to blow on the good stuff! Week before last I shared some of the things I’m most excited on incorporating back into my life from insurance to my gym membership, but today I’ll share with you some of the good stuff!

A PS3
If you’ve followed me for any period of time, you may be surprised to hear this but yeah – I’d like to get a PS3 (when I have disposable income that is). I really haven’t come around in my thinking on the system, (being as how there are still only a handful of PS3 exclusives I want to play), but the video game hoarder/enthusiast in me is willing to look past that. Plus, in addition to God of War III coming out soon, I’m hearing that PSN Home is looking a lot better than when I last saw it.

Kratos Could Winterize My House
I bet Kratos could Winterize my house. Or burn it the ground. Either way I’d probably be warmer.

Winterizing My House
As I type this, I’m sitting in my basement looking at the news on my Windows 7 box hoping that getting the latest NVidea drivers will stop Windows Media Center from crashing. And let me tell you, as much as I love my basement, my fingers are freezing. The only reason the rest of me isn’t is because I’m wearing several layers, a hoodie and shoes. It sucks. Last year I tried to do something about this problem myself but it’s way beyond even MY industrious skills.

Amplifier for My Car
I’m not sure if it was around Christmas or my birthday this past year, but around that time I got my some Best Buy gift cards. (SIDE NOTE: If you ever want to make me happy, buy me some Best Buy gift cards). And interestingly enough, “right now” there isn’t too much at Best Buy that I want – Which is to say that I’m at a weird point with my electronics (home theater, computer, etc) where everything is pretty up to date, so the next step up would mean major dollars.

So I was thinking about what I would use my gift cards on, and then I thought that I always wanted to upgrade my car audio. Well after I got a new deck, I had to get new speakers and despite getting rave reviews, I was really underwhelmed with them. So I went onto Crutchfield and asked one of their fantastic advisors what the deal was and they said it’s probably because my speakers are underpowered and that I desperately needed an amp.

Alpine MRP-F300
Alpine MRP-F300

I even picked one out at the time, but because I left my cushy 9-5 shortly thereafter, I had to put this little baby on the backburner where she sits to this very day. Truth be told, I COULD buy it using reward points from my credit card but we’ve had a pretty harsh winter so I don’t think I’d be in a rush to install it – Yes, that’s how I roll.

And if you think that’s a lot, think again! I still have more to write but I will not subject my fingers to the frozen tundra that is my basement any longer! Maybe another iteration next Friday?

Bugzilla Install Was Torture

Saying that installing Bugzilla was painful would be the understatement of the year. From what I’ve been able to piece together through this nightmare, it probably took me 9 hours to get the whole thing done – 3 hours on 3 separate days. And if it wasn’t for @mkanat suggesting that I give it another try, I probably would’ve walked away a LONG TIME ago.

I mean, I believe that everyone who works on large computer projects like myself should have some kind of issue tracker setup and while I’ve been using Mantis very happily – It doesn’t look very attractive (which is important when opening this up to clients and associates). So I began searching for something that it looked a bit better which is when I found Bugzilla. *shaking head*

First Things First
If you’re thinking about installing this on your server, know that it’s not for the feint of heart. There are A LOT of “moving parts” with this thing (Perl, CGI, db stuff) and many of them are things that I don’t have intimate experience with. Aside from that, the install guide that comes up Bugzilla is very vanilla in that seemingly ALL the issues that came up for me were not addressed in the guide either in notes next to the instructions or in the troubleshooting section. Even Google searches weren’t yielding me the help I really needed. @mkanat suggested that I use the Bugzilla newsgroup which I tried, but look – I’ve never used a newsgroup before and at 11:30pm at night well into hour 7 or something… I just wanted to get this done, not learn yet another thing.

So hey, I finally got things going last night so I wanted to put something out there that might help others who are going through the same pain. This isn’t an install guide but just the problems that I had that I didn’t see answered anywhere else. Oh and keep in mind that I don’t fancy myself a Unix Administrator either so if I get things wrong or sound stupid – It IS what it IS.

Getting Started
First you’ll need to probably shell into your server using the username for the website you’re installing it into. That’s to say, even if you think you can only or SHOULD shell in as “root”, you should instead shell in as the group/owner of the website where you’re installing Bugzilla… This will probably fix problems for you later. After you download the Bugzailla tar file and untar it, you have to run this script called checksetup.pl. (You run it by typing “./checksetup.pl” at the command line. When you first run it, you’ll be told about all the Perl modules you need to have installed to get things going. It will also say that to install all the modules, do “./install_modules.pl –all”. When I did that, everything went fine until it prompted me for “pg_config” which is when the first big headache started.

Installing the Modules – Oh and “pg_config” or “pg_path” is the Devil
I found out later that the “pg_config” prompt was for a PostgreSQL module. Here’s the thing, I have MySQL. You can think that you can just skip this by pressing [enter] but when you do, the script quits out and then I was getting an error when re-running it saying “Can’t locate Constant.pm in @INC” blah blah blah. At this point, I couldn’t go forward in my installation. The only way I found to deal with this was re-installing Perl (if you use CPanel, you can follow the instructions to do so here: >http://docs.cpanel.net/twiki/bin/view/11_24/AllFAQ/PerlFAQ#How_do_I_upgrade_Perl After doing this 2 or three times, I think I stumbled onto something through Google searches saying that you may NOT want to install ALL the modules. This was a big turning point. Instead, (after I was able to run checksetup.pl again), I ONLY installed the modules that were required (I think there was about 3). After that, I got past this HUGE hiccup. And again – Why this information isn’t included as a note in the install guide is beyond me.



And Then There Was the Group Owner Permission Problems
After all this, I finally got to the point where I could try and run things again (./checksetup.pl and the like) and I was still getting problems. Turns out now that I had group/owner permission problems… Remember before when I said you should make sure to shell in using the group/owner account of the website where you’re installing this? Well see, I’m using something that I found out is called SuExec… From what I understand, it makes individual websites on your server run scripts by that website’s group name… If you let them run as “nobody” or “root”, it’s a big security thang. So anyway, when I installed all of this Bugzilla stuff as “root”, my owner and group permissions for all these files were all over the place (which is obviously bad). Using the commands “chown” and “chgrp”, I ended up fixed things and I made sure to update the “localconfig” file with the right group name.

At about this time in the process, you can run “testserver.pl” to try and see what’s wrong and even though things were a little broken, it was saying that the group name on the “localconfig” file was different than the name being used by the webserver. Even though it says “this MAY not be a problem”, when nothing is working you tend to second guess yourself so obviously I spent hours changing my Apache httpd.conf file, restarting Apache and then changing Bugzilla’s “localconfig” file and hoping it all worked. Bleh. Let me sum up things for you if you’re a bit confused:


I’ve been looking at this screen a lot lately.

Let’s say that I’m on my Linux box running Apache with Cpanel installed. I’m going to install Bugzilla onto hockeyrules.com – A domain that I own (for conversation’s sake anyway). When I FTP or or login to the CPanel for this domain, I know my username is “hockey”. Chances are, this is what SuExec is using for your group name when running scripts. So this is what you’re going to use in your “localconfig” file’s $webservergroup variable. Got it?

403 Forbidden My A$$
At this point, “checksetup.pl” was lookin’ good but I still was having problems with “testserver.pl” saying that it couldn’t retrieve some PNG file or something. When I checked out the site through my browser, I saw that I was getting a 403 Forbidden error. I mean seriously, could this thing just work!?!? After a little while searching and a little while investigating, I found out that my Bugzilla directory that was supposed to be serving files didn’t have the right permissions. What tripped a flag was when I saw that “Other” didn’t have read permissions which is when I think I chmodded it to 755 to get it to serve…

And that my friends is when it FINALLY worked.

So now I have a working version of Mantis AND a working version of Bugzilla. Oh, and I tried to get into Bugzilla a little while earlier today, but I found myself bamboozled. There’s a lot in there and it’s going to take a while to suss out I think. And don’t worry – I still plan on comparing the two so check back in a little while and you may see a FANtastic (or mediocre) review!

I'll Tell You What I Want What I Really Really Want (Part 1)

Before my wife got her hooks into me, I used to spend money like it was going out of style. Which is really all to say that I never saved money and just enjoyed a comfortable single guy lifestyle of eating out all the time with friends.

Now that I’m married, have kids, and just “getting off the ground” with web design stuff, I’ve REALLY had to dial it back. But with every new financial foothold I gain back (it’s a rough transition from the 9-5 to this), the more I can dream about life’s little luxuries.

Day Care
By far, the biggest luxury I’m looking forward to in the near future is being able to afford day care again for my 2 kids. Don’t take this the wrong way, the kids are great and I know I’m lucky to be able to spend so much time with them – But trying to program while my littlest one is on my lap turning off my monitors, trying to take conference calls while my oldest is yelling for more apple juice… It can be a bit trying sometimes. And I also look at this as an important milestone because conceivably with more time, I’ll have more of an opportunity to grow my business. Or at least the theory goes.

Insurance
I know you’re going to get a kick out of this one Pete, but I can’t wait to have decent insurance again either. Right now we have the “if you lose an arm, you won’t lose a leg” insurance so for things like going to the Allergist, I’m pretty much SOL. I’ve been pretty lucky that I haven’t been really sick either but just being able to get back on my allergy meds would do so much for my sleeping habits.

Gym
Lastly on my list of “must haves” is the gym. I belong/used to belong (it’s complicated) to a Globo Gym with admittedly, a pretty high price tag. I really want to get back in there because we all know that staying healthy does A LOT for you. But when you’re home with the kids every waking moment, it’s kinda hard to find a yourself out of the house with an hour to lift.

And of course I have a ton more on my list, but if I wrote them all out here, it would be an extremely long post. I think I’ll probably post more next Friday (fun stuff at that) – So make sure to check back then!

Facebook Development Sucks

Sometimes when you have a burgeoning web design company, you find yourself doings things you wouldn’t normally want to do. This weekend was such an occasion as I completed my first soup to nuts Facebook application for a local radio show.

Now let me be straight – Helping a radio show I like (with all things web) is something that I would do happily, especially when I met one of the hosts last year during a crazy ice storm where I found myself stranded and he couldn’t’ve been nicer. But I swear… If I knew what I did now, regarding how much work it would take to get this App off the ground… I don’t even know. I think it took me about 2 days work of straight programming to get this done and it was some of the most frustrating work I’ve done in quite some time.

I Have Developing for Facebook
Like most of the things I work on intensely, my wife gets to see all the peaks and valleys of the journey. Well this was no difference, and after two days of burying my head in my hands and occasionally pounding my fists on my desk, my wife asked “What’s wrong?” Now usually this question would drive me up a wall but she’s getting to be really good at finding the right times to ask these questions, so I answered her in words that she would understand…

  • Facebook’s developer documentation sucks
  • There doesn’t seem to be clear instructions on how to setup your dev environment
  • The tutorials don’t help that much and seem to use nothing but depreciated functions

Now maybe I’m way off on the above but look, I think of myself as a developer. And I’d like to think that over the past two days of furious work that if the above were NOT the case, I would know it by now. So I could go on and on and let this Facebook rage consume me talking about all the problems I had and what I did to try and fix them… But instead I will tell you about what irked me the most…

Facebook Has Crappy Documentation
Over the weekend I would run into the same code snippets from the same PHP tutorial using Profile.setFBML. (You’d think I’d run into other tutorials but there seems to be only one PHP tutorial people can find for Facebook). Anyway, when trying to figure out why this Profile.setFBML wasn’t performing as expected, I pulled up the following on Facebook’s Wiki:



So this is great. Not only will this method be depreciated, but it will happen oh… RIGHT ABOUT NOW. Unfortunately we don’t know if it HAS been depreciated or NOT, so I guess we gotta just roll the dice if we’re going to use it and hope that the depreciation hammer hasn’t fallen. Oh, and if you follow that next line about “application tabs” you know, if you wanted to program for the future, there’s basically no functional information in there either and instead points us again to the Developer Roadmap. If you go THERE, you will see the following:



And if you click “Detail” you get this: “Going forward (in the short term) application tabs will be the only way applications can integrate into profiles and Facebook Pages.” Soooooooo, application tabs are coming SOMETIME in early 2010 (but nobody knows when) and it will be the only way to integrate your apps into the profile, BUT there’s nowhere to find information on how to do it… *GROAN*

Again, this was an exceedingly frustrating weekend, but I got the App done, the programming is awful and sorely needs to be cleaned up but a Win is a Win. Screw you Facebook.

Get Paid – You Can and You're Worth It!

On my post Care For Your Clients yesterday, I relayed a story about a certain client who I gave tech support to even when they didn’t have the money to pay my employer and even after I was ordered to stop. I did that out of a responsibility I feel towards my clients, but Ian brought up something else that I tend to forget these days..

Just out of the virtue of you knowing things about computers or technology, people feel that they can come to you with any of their problems and that you will fix it for them for free. I think a lot of people in our industry have gone through this before. For me, it was my family who was always coming to me with their problems and expecting that I could not only fix ANYTHING they threw at me, but would do so out of the goodness of my heart.

And the majority of times they were right.

I Love This Stuff
It’s true, and that was a large part of the problem. If I didn’t like all this computer nonsense, it is a mortal lock that I would’ve tried to find any excuse I could not to work on computers and everyone’s associated problems. But because I love learning, I love tinkering, and I love helping people – I would eagerly sign up to do everything I could to fix their stuff. What this usually resulted in was me spending a LOT of my own time and often some of my OWN money in the pursuit of their happiness. And I remember at one point that I looked around at all the things I “needed” to do one day, and most of them were computer freebies – Which sucked. I mean, who wants to be doing free work for everyone else that takes up your entire day’s time? Personally I would’ve rather tooled around on XBL given the choice.



So I Started a Company
At the beginning, I think I started my company so I could write off my hosting fees that I was paying regardless of whether I had any paying clients or not. *laughs* I think that my thinking was, “If I can write off my hosting fees, I’ll have a ton more money!”. Well let me tell you cupcake – That’s not quite how it works. But I’ll tell you that almost immediately, it had a radical effect on all these people trying to get the free work out of me. Next time I saw them I just said, “I’m really excited to start this new company of mine and if you have anything WE can help you with, please don’t hesitate to ask.” Almost immediately, people stopped asking me to do stuff for free. And amazingly, these people would still come to me saying that wouldn’t mind paying since they trusted my work and wanted to support my new endeavour!

So I don’t know kids… Pople are getting paid for way less out there and for me personally, organizing a business was a BIG turning point in my life. Don’t you want to write off your hosting fees too? (#):)

Care for Your Clients

“You may not know this Joe Rogan”, but I run a web design company. And despite the fact (at the time of this writing) that I have not uploaded any of our work online, and the only site I HAVE posted is a crappy one that yours truly designed (hence its crappyness), I continue to get some decent clients.

Yesterday I met with one of them (who truth be told) isn’t really a client, but will be very very soon. I have supported them and their website for probably a year now since I was the ones who pretty much put it together -And the whole time without compensation. (I know that probably sounds like a losing proposition, but there is a lot of story here that I probably shouldn’t divulge…) To put it another way, I wasn’t really ALLOWED to help them, but if I hadn’t, their life would’ve been hell and their brick and mortar business might have started out being a veritable disaster… So I helped them anyway. Hopefully I can tell the full story one day but this should be enough to catch you up for now…

People First – It’s a Karma Thing
At my last employ, the company certainly didn’t think about people first. For even the smallest of changes to this client’s website, you best believe we were charging them upwards of $100/hr. Now that may work for big clients like the US Government, but for smaller clients who are just trying to get their footing… I think showing them some compassion in those early months of their business pays dividends down the road. Now don’t think that I’m advocating to do everything for free (because I’m not) but if you’re getting paid anyway from them and you know that they’re struggling as it is, why not extend some free help to them once in a while? Case in point…



My previous employ didn’t really follow this thinking and my clients told me that at sometime during the whole process of getting their website “up to snuff”, they realized that any text they wanted to change and any question they had was going to cost them money. A lot of it. And because at the same time they were dealing with a myriad of contractors who were squeezing even more money from them, plus all the other headaches that come from opening up a brick and mortar space – They just stopped asking my employer for help.

And Where Do You Think This Leaves Everyone?
In a horrible spot – That’s where. In a place where the client had already spent tens of thousands of dollars on their website alone, it still wasn’t what they wanted and they didn’t have the money or energy to fight on its behalf any longer. And what’s worse, we (as the website provider) had completely fallen out of favour as their trusted advisor to all things Web. Sounds like a lose lose situation to me. They’re not getting what they want, and my employer had basically killed all future business with them but were either too dense to notice or too cold-hearted to care.

Honestly, I think what happened was as we were nearing the end of this project, a huge supposed money maker came in that El Jefe wanted us to devote most of our time to. Now I get that but on the other hand, you can’t really just abandon your clients because you think another project will be more fruitful. I’ve always felt that I had a responsibility to my clients, and especially with things like computers and the Internet – They’re coming to you because they don’t know anything about it. Furthermore, how do you know what is going to be a better return on your investment 5 years down the road?

Fast Forward a Year Later
And this past client of my employer has done over a half million dollars in sales, and by their estimate – 95% of which were completed through the technology we (or largely I) put together for them. And do you know how happy they are that I stuck by them when all the other S was hitting the fan? Do you know how much trouble I was getting in for working on their site on my own time ensuring that what we as a company delivered to them, WORKED? I know – The concept is a BIT out there. So anyway –



Yesterday they invited me to their space for what can now be described as a thriving business. They can finally get a decent night of sleep knowing that the million dollars they raised from investors will be repaid, and that they’re not going to lose the shirts on their backs. And not only did they treat me to a FANTASTIC three course meal with as much wine as I could drink, but they also prepared an exquisite gift basket for me, complete with a TON of chocolate, wine, fancy cooking ingredients, freebies from their business for myself and my wife, and yes – More wine! Oh and did I mention that they also invited me to put together a proposal for more work for them? Now I find myself with not only great new friends, but great new clients.

Moral of the Story – Care for your clients.

I've Been Unemployed for the Last 2 Months

If you’ve been following my Twitter feed for a while, you’ve probably seen some tweets from me that at times looked odd. For example, tweets that said that I was making cupcakes on Monday when you probably would’ve thought that I’d be at work. Well truth be told, I’ve been on a furlough from my job for the past two months.

If You Didn’t Know…
Don’t be sad because I didn’t tell many people. Unfortunately, I had to tell my wife because there was just no way I could explain away the fact that I wasn’t receiving a check twice a month. ha ha. And not to throw my 9 to 5’s business out there, but my furlough was a result of being on the wrong end of a lawsuit, and big clients not paying because of the worsening US economy.

So when I got the news that I was to be furloughed (with a few other co-workers), I was dolling out the high fives! I was def burned out at work, was tired of the commute and just wanted some time to work on a lot of my side projects. Thankfully during the time off, I did just that. The biggest thing I did was prepare some proposals for potential web design clients and even work out my first paying contract. So that by itself is deserving of applause. Additionally, I also did a lot of work for my new super secret affiliate marketing project which I couldn’t be any more excited about.



Working With Kids
It had certainly been a while since I had worked on stuff from home with kids and it was not easy for a long time. It probably took a good month into my vacation to finally figure out how to be productive with them but when I did it was a really a great thing. Being able to get work done on your schedule WHILE being able to spend copious amounts of time with your kids is definitely a really cool thing and one that everyone should be lucky enough to do. Of course for most of us that’s just a pipe dream since the 9-5 inevitably gets in the way.

Back to the Grind
Yesterday was my first day back to work. I was summoned back a couple weeks ago with an e-mail out of the blue that really just said, “Bush, great news – We’re ready to have you back!” When I read that, I started grinding my teeth. Nightmares of commutes, timesheets, and bosses all started flooding back. BUT, what could I do? My kids need to eat and my mortgage needs to be paid. So as I said, I went back yesterday and tried to make the switch from home life to work life again.

It was difficult to say the least but it was made easier by my awesome co-workers who seemed very happy to have me back. Let it be said that even though my 9-5 itself is not the bees knees, my co-workers are a bunch of very cool and talented people. So after I was welcomed back, one of the guys at work said offhandedly, “Hey, did you know you’d be working for free?” And I joked back that “Yeah, I’m the new intern.” Well, we go out to lunch and they start telling me how they’ve had to hold off on cashing their checks because apparently the company didn’t have the money to pay them.



Are you kidding me!?
I then inquire as to why our System Admin wasn’t back from furlough yet and I was told that “[he’s on the fence about coming back because he’s not sure why he should if the company can’t pay him]”. At this point, I’m feeling a bit hosed. Oh, and did I mention that I had to take a $3000 pay cut too? I kept wondering if I would’ve come back when I did if I had knew that the company was still having these big money problems as a result of the lawsuit in December. I just don’t know. But I’ll say this – With my boss not telling me about these problems in his “welcome back” e-mail… If my paycheck doesn’t go through in two weeks I may just have to take another sabbatical.

Jobs. Ugh.