The Proverb for the Month:
“One who causes others misfortune also teaches them wisdom.”
I was initially going to choose a different African Proverb for this week, but the Ancestral Wisdom within it resonated so deeply within me, I decided to write about this one, instead.
Because this Proverb is one I can really relate to.
When I finally decided to build Asis Chronicle, I knew without a doubt that I could create solid content for the site; creating the look and feel of it, however, was a different story.
I didn’t want the headache of worrying about something at the time I felt was “outside my lane, which was why it was so easy for me to surrender to the relief I felt when I was introduced to my former “web designer” (more on that in a minute). He had come highly recommended by an entity that I had grown to trust, so when I was told that he could design a website that would perfectly match Asis Chronicle’s branding and message, I was – as they say – “All in”.
And as long as I was happy with what he gave me (zero professional design consultation on the front end, and 100 percent bullshit on the backend), I didn’t have any problems.
Then came the day when I realized I wasn’t happy.
That was the day I started having problems.
When I first embarked on this journey, I didn’t know there was a difference between website design and template modification. (For those of you who may not know, “website design” is basically the process of building an entire website from the ground up, while “template modification” is the process of taking a pre-built layout, and customizing it to a desired aesthetic.)
Because the work requirement for template modification and web design are markedly different, the pricing between the two is also different. Web design work can easily run into the thousands, while template modification (based on my research) is usually capped at about $500, if that.
Because I was unaware of these differences, I didn’t realize that – at over $1,000 into it – I had already overpaid the web guy by half; by the time subsidy I received from an entrepreneurship program I had participated in was added (as part and parcel), he had received almost three times the market rate for the service he provided.
Or, to put it another way, I paid this dude for a custom web design, and was charged for custom web design, yet what I got instead was template modification.
When I discovered the fraud, and demanded a return of the money paid to Mr. Modifier for services he didn’t provide, he flat-out refused.
Not only did he refuse to refund the money he knew he had defrauded both me, and the State of Louisiana, he also – in retaliation – removed Asis Chronicle from his servers, once I explained to him that I would not continue paying him for services he knew he never provided.
Mr. Modifier, in addition to being a fraud, was also a petty, vindictive sort: After moving the Asis Chronicle domain to a new server, I discovered that I was also going to have to re-upload everything, all over again, because the content management system (CMS) Mr. Modifier used was incompatible with the one I switched to.
Now, I was forced to re-input articles, as well as find a new template.
Needless to say, I grew to hate Mr. Modifier with every fiber of my being. I resented his arrogance, and I resented his duplicity.
I was also pissed that he played me.
Most of all, however, I resented having to build my website, again.
The little momentum we had managed to build (two months’ worth) was gone, leaving me with the unenviable task having to engage readers from the beginning – for a second time.
I couldn’t get around having to start over. As much as I hated the idea, if Asis Chronicle was to ever go back online, I had no other choice.
That’s when it hit me: Since I had to start over, anyway, I might as well GO HARD.
I got a free WordPress account, and familiarized myself with the ins and outs of widgets, plug-ins, posts, and pages; I wanted to ensure that whatever changes I needed to make, I would be able to make them, myself (Mr. Modifier had me on Joomla CMS, which is much harder to navigate and make changes to if you’re not already somewhat familiar with code).
Next, I went through the process of migrating my site from Joomla to WordPress.
Then I spent a month searching for a new template, and uploading my files.
By the time ALL of that was said and done, Asis Chronicle had been offline for two and a half months.
And, truthfully speaking, I was worried that we were over before we really had a chance to begin.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
As it turned out, the time spent offline only served to help us sharpen our focus, and strengthen our resolve. Once we found a template that fit the brand, ideas for content came to us a lot easier; we also became better at interacting with our readers through social media, which kept a lot of people engaged with us, even as we had no “live” site for them to visit.
We were honest with our readers, every step of the way with our progress; they rewarded that honesty with loyalty and came back to us, once we re-launched.
Not only did our initial readers return; they also brought other readers with them.
Those readers, in turn, brought in more readers.
Little by little, we began to regain the ground we lost.
When we yanked off the Internet in December 2011, after having launched a month before, we had 175 Unique Visitors, 305 Visits, and 896 page views.
We ended December 2012 with 1,696 Unique Visitors, 5,505 visits, and 12,575 page views.
And we’re continuing to build.
While I will never approve of the disrespect Mr. Modifier displayed towards me, I must acknowledge that had he not done what he had done, I never would have challenged myself to learn and go beyond where I was, then, to be where I am, now.
This experience has helped me grow, and has changed me – for the better.
That’s my wisdom.
And I’m paying it forward.