Cingela, with a click

A while ago, I made a short book from a series of lectures our Dad gave shortly before he retired as a Methodist minister. He’s a fantastic deep thinker and theological historian, and a great writer too. The book really deserves better distribution. So I’ve built Cingela as a platform for his book, as well as some other things he’s doing now that he’s retired. You can buy the ebook edition for Kindle or any other major ereader there. There may be other books published under the Cingela banner later this year, so they’ll be sold there too.

The site explains what ‘Cingela’ means, but you’ll have to watch this week’s video for the correct pronunciation. Hint: it’s a one-click site. Haha. Anyway.

Tools used: The site has a WordPress CMS with the MyProduct theme from Elegant Themes. Photos are my Dad’s. I used Photoshop (at the office) or The GIMP (at home) for tweaking the images, like creating the glow around the featured-book cover image. For selling ebooks, I’m using Payloadz with PayPal.

Process: Register domain (we use Hetzner); install WordPress; download, install and set up the theme; set up an account on (for delivering downloadable ebooks), link it to Paypal, and create and upload the ebooks on Payloadz; create a site logo; find photos; write page copy; go through everything with Dad and make a few changes to text. Probably about five hours’ work spread over several days.

Stigue & His Instrument

Piano & Trumpet Lessons, Professional Musician

This week’s website was made for my friend Stigue who is about to finish his University studies at UCT and is heading out into the working world most of us are so familiar with (assuming I have my target market identified here… ok, analysis paralysis, my bad… never mind).

I offered some time ago to craft a website for dearest Stigue and have his skills and capabilities put out there. Needless to say I would take a small portion of his earnings generated from the site. Much like affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing in general is a superb way of gifting those who went to the effort of marketing a product with some portion of the revenue. So this week past whilst putting the site together I set about carefully calculating a means to make this work for Stigue and I in a way that would not seem unreasonable and stay mutually beneficial. What I didn’t realise is that affiliate marketing is used predominantly for physical and virtual products, and not a variety of services offered by one who blows on the end of a brass tube.

In the end, I chose not to opt for the commission-based-potential-client-or-band-owner-conversion strategy, but instead will charge a minimal fee of $5 / R30 per month to keep his site up and out there.

The website itself is quite stunning thanks to the amazing (and guided) content Stigue provided. From high res imagery to a video clip and music samples, it really has it all.


The fine print: If you’re hoping to sucker me into doing another website like this for the same price, think again!

WoW for WordPress

WoW for WordPress

I was [self] commissioned a little while ago to create a website for the World of Warcraft guild I play with. After much agonising over how I would make some kind of money from this site I eventually came up with the idea of modifying an existing free WordPress theme published under a licence that permits one to resell it. I added a few extra things like World of Warcraft WordPress plugins and some artwork too, of course.

The idea spawned from 2 days of pure frustration looking for a WordPress theme that would have a World of Warcraft look to it. I was actually quite surprised to find that there aren’t any half-decent themes out there.

The project itself took much technical work on back-end CSS styling (thanks for the help bro!) and a whole bunch of Photoshop work! For those less technically inclined, I’m certain one could apply the same principle I used to create this virtual product to create your own. Here’s a prime example: Toffee apples! Apples are practically free (like WordPress themes) and with a little caramelized sugar (or CCS styling in this case) customers will come a’ rushin’ to the till.

If you’re wondering how I did it, after registering a domain I simply followed standard WordPress installation guidelines and used Notepad++ to edit the CCS files. A little photoshop magic added some shine and I uploaded the packaged product to which connects to my PayPal account direct.

How to Publish Poetry

In a past life (aka my twenties), I spent a lot of time writing, editing, and publishing poetry. I even got my Masters degree in writing it and published a book. These days, other things are higher on my list of priorities, but I still admire good poetry, it’s the word-based equivalent of watching Barcelona pass a soccer ball.

Anyway, because about a zillion people try to write poetry, I used to get asked a lot how to go about publishing it. I wrote a few pieces about this for my personal blog, and after some years, those pieces still got more hits than anything else I wrote. So I’ve taken that content and built How to Publish Poetry specifically for it. It’s advice for South African writers specifically, since I know my local scene best, and there’s not much help for writers in this part of the world.

The site’s monetised with Google Adsense advertising. If I ever find time, I may write up a more comprehensive guide to writing poetry for publication in South Africa, and sell it as an ebook. (Those grand intentions don’t mean anything now.)

Tools used: The site has a WordPress CMS with the OnTheGo theme from Elegant Themes. Photos are either mine or they’re Creative Commons Attribution licensed pics from Flickr (attributed in the file names).

Process: Register domain (we use Hetzner); install WordPress; download, install and set up the theme; create a site logo in Photoshop; find photos; paste past blog entries into WordPress as Posts and edit/update them; set up Google Adsense account; get Adsense code and paste into WordPress backend. All in all, probably about five hours’ work spread over several days, not counting several hours writing blog articles occasionally over a few years. Also, in order to make sure Google sent people to the new pages (instead of the old blog pages, which Google’s been sending people to till now), I added redirect instructions to the old site’s htaccess file. This is pretty technical for non-developers, and messing it up can break stuff, but I followed instructions on a few sites (like this one) and it all worked fine.

This should be ’52businesses’

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.

Coaching Soccer

The most difficult part of using the existing domain’s we’ve already registered is reliving the failure we’ve already come to terms with when we abandoned them.

Initially I had great plans to digitize the soccer coaching manual I had scanned in a year ago. Given to me by the great friend and soccer fanatic Gareth Wilke, we set about selling this manual online when he confirmed the rights to sell it, given his co-authorship. Needless to say, my pedantic perfectionism built the project up to such great heights that the obstacles became to great to overcome.

So, Coaching Soccer USA – A lesson in overcoming my all-to-common “I can’t because it’s not perfect” hurdle.

The soccer coaching manual that now sells for the laughably low price of $1.99 for the first chapter does not do the actual content any justice. The 5-page soccer manual is actually really great and I curse at myself that I hadn’t found the time between World of Warcraft raiding to digitize it properly and restore it to it’s former glory.

Despite what the website may actually look like, the emotional investment in this project was massive and it eventually took a good few words via Seth Godin on ‘Quieting the Lizard Brain’ to push me over the edge and just ship it (no matter its current state).

Books for Cooks

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 and to 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 and; create affiliate links and add them to each post. Boom, done! All in all, probably about ten hours’ work spread over several days.