It’s odd how the most obvious things can take longer to realise. Here’s one that has been dawning on me. I love building websites. But websites are only tools; each one a different kind. Blogs are expression tools, for instance. And when websites are revenue-generating websites, they’re business tools. Each one is a business. Perhaps a tiny business, but a business nonetheless. With a model, a plan, costs and revenue and customers and suppliers.
But that shouldn’t be scary, right? Starting and running Electric Book Works has been super-hard, so starting a business seems scary when I think of what that took. But the scariness and the complexity is not built into the business. It’s built into my mind.
In the 52sites experiment, we’re really going to have to build super-simple businesses that largely run themselves – the websites are just the most visible part. I’m going to have to get over some neuroses, especially the one about taking myself too seriously.
I’ve dragged Michelle in for this one. She’s an awesome cook, and has a great collection of cookbooks. She has a knack for buying amazing books and producing incredible meals from them. But sometimes she’ll buy a cookbook, or more likely I’ll get her one, and she just won’t find it useful. Sometimes the cover and the reviews just don’t tell you what you need to know. I reckon lots of people want reviews they know they can trust.
So, Books for Cooks contains Michelle’s reviews of her favourite cook books. (She says writing these reviews is like working in my own private sweatshop, but I think she’s secretly enjoying it.) From the About page:
How do you really know whether a cookbook is worth buying? Standing in a bookstore, you can’t cook from it. And most reviews on websites are all marketing copy or written by people who’ve only had the book a few hours. Books for Cooks is for finding out about books we’ve used and loved for ages. No quick-glance reviews here. These are books we have actually cooked from and learned from.
The site’s designed as a niche store, and to monetize it, I’ve got affiliate links pointing to local retailer Kalahari.net and to Amazon.com. Mish and I will split the proceeds.
Tools used: The site has a WordPress CMS with the eStore theme from the fabulous Elegant Themes. I took all the photos of the books with Michelle’s Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD, resized and renamed them in batches using Faststone Image Viewer, and uploaded them directly (not through WordPress) with Filezilla.
Process: Register domain (we use Hetzner); install WordPress; download, install and set up the eStore theme; create a site logo in Photoshop; take lots of photos and rename and resize them using Faststone; ask Michelle (nicely) to write a bunch of reviews; paste the reviews into WordPress as Posts; adjust the eStore themes settings for each Post; open affiliate accounts with Amazon.com and Kalahari.net; create affiliate links and add them to each post. Boom, done! All in all, probably about ten hours’ work spread over several days.