How to be Creative

I have been following @gapingvoid (Hugh MacLeod) on Twitter for a few months now. He’s a really interesting guy and I enjoy his Tweets. So, today I decided to read up on him and I found that he has posted some very influencial content over the years on his long-standing blog (maybe it’s only new to me).

According to his bio, he’s most known for this post (called “How to be Creative” – long and very good). You should really take the time to read this post. It inspires without the superficial, patronising motivation-speak (he’s frank and direct). Oh, he’s also known for some pretty interesting cartoons.

Why Time Tracking is Important to Freelancers

Time TrackingIf you’re a freelancer in your chosen profession and you don’t track your time, you can count on one thing: you won’t be a freelancer for long.

At six years and counting, I think I’ve finally got freelancing down. Every time before this – this is my fourth time as a freelancer – I lasted about a year before my cash flow ran out and I ended up punching the clock for someone else’s pleasure. All because I wasn’t smart with how I handled time. I see that now.

Time has a flow, but unlike cash, it doesn’t rise or fall; it’s steady. Everywhere in the world, there are 24 hours in a day. Money comes and goes. Sometimes you have more. Sometimes you have less. (Well, more or less.) That’s why the cliché “Time is Money” is wrong. Time is not money. And as much as I like the implications, time is also not a river.

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A New CMS and Why

  
As some of you may know, I launched a new, simple cms system yesterday called Clover Content. I thought you might be interested in understanding why I spent the last year developing yet another cms.

There’s a real problem with content management systems. I’m not talking about the big enterprise platforms. I’m talking about the basic content management software that simple web sites need and use. They often do too much. That’s right. Modern content management software does too much.

For example, I have a friend with a pretty average technical acumen. This friend needed a simple website for an organization that he had started and I, being a web nerd, decided to help him set up a site. So we did the usual. I went to Godaddy and bought a suitable domain along with a basic Linux hosting account, while he stared over my shoulder in wonder. I found a template for his site and we paid a fair price for a nice pre-made design. So the next step was to get him up and running with a cms so he could manage all of his content without needing any further assistance from me.

My first instinct was to go with Drupal. I have tooled around with Drupal in the past and it has a good reputation among the web-savvy. So I installed Drupal, started configuring the site and I soon realized, this is way more functionality and configuration than my friend needs. Not to mention, it’s way more than he can handle. A little time with Joomla presented the same dilemma. These systems have too much complexity; too much functionality; too much configuration. Not only that, but working with the template frameworks of these systems was going to be a nightmare. Remember, I already spent some money on a pre-made template for this site. I was going to have to make the template fit the cms. Not fun.

So, with all these issues before me, I realized why so many developers end up rolling their own cms system. It’s because what’s out there is more than a simple site needs. A simple website needs a simple cms. Don’t get me wrong, Drupal, Joomla, Worpress and the like are all great systems and they have their markets, but often they are more complex than necessary for small sites. Another major issue with the standard content management system is the need to have a database running on your server and the need to install software. It’s always a problem to have to patch your cms because of some update, or deal with setting up a database to run your cms.

Just like software is moving more and more from the desktop to the cloud, it seems advantageous that server based systems might do the same. Instead of installing 10 versions of WordPress on the sites of 10 of your clients, on 10 different servers (all separate, all requiring maintenance), why not host your content in a central location? This way all of your client’s content is in one place and there are no software installations or databases to maintain. Centralizing content makes good sense. Using a CMS as a services makes good sense.

I realize there are lots (thousands) of content management systems out there and there’s no one system that’s right for everyone, but I think that Clover Content is right for most small sites and for people who manage a lot of sites for clients. Anyway, that’s why I boostrapped this startup and entered the arena. Let me know what you think.