A major, major update!

If you’re an old reader, you may have noticed a change in the site design last weekend (you may also have been notified by email). Not only have their been cosmetic changes but there have been big changes under the hood too. Following is a rundown of what changed – and why – but some major personal news first.

Guess who has ADHD?

THIS GUY (just imagine me gesticulating with my thumbs).

I realized in November that I’ve had (been?) ADHD my whole life (details will be forthcoming in the form of journal comics). This has been clinically confirmed and I started taking ADHD meds this week.

This has been both mind-blowing and mind-occupying as I process it. I’ll have a lot more to say about it in my journal comics, but everything in my life makes sense now. EVERYTHING.

We’re moving to North Carolina

I don’t think I’ve mentioned living in Florida much, besides in my bio, but we’ve been here since 2012. We had planned on buying a house last year, which fell through due to some shitty mortgage advice from a shitty mortgage advisor/douchebag. But the housing market also went insane, with our area of Tampa Bay having the most dramatic price increases in the nation.

Before the batshit pandemic housing craze, we were looking at really nice houses for under $225k – and now those houses are at least $100k more. Rents also went up on average of 24%, so we decided to hightail it out of here to Durham.

Now Durham also has had major housing price increases but it’s more affordable than here in MANY respects. Frankly I’m up for a new adventure, as are most of the kids. There’s a LOT to do in Durham, with a big unschooling community, a kick-ass concert scene, and maybe – just maybe – a cool comics community.

Which made me take a break from making comics

Looking for a house and having no idea where you’re going to live in a few months is stressful as hell, so I gave myself permission to take a creative break until we move and are (reasonably) settled in.

BUT… I have ADHD so I just can’t sit around and do nothing. so I looked through my list of Someday/Maybe tasks and saw Roll your own Patreon – and ran with it. Which leads me to…

A new Patreon-inspired website design

There’s no point beating around the bush – I took design inspiration from Patreon because most creatives are familiar with it. And since Patreon has spent millions of their venture capital fine-tuning their website for maximum revenue, learning from the best was the right thing to do. My hope is that familiarity makes the purpose of my site more obvious.

So I threw out my usual website MO – like a typical website home page, etc (basically everything I did for my last redesign) – and followed Patreon’s idea of stating who I am and what I do right away, focusing on the posts, making clear what was member’s only & what was 100% free, and getting rid of everything frivolous or unnecessary.

All of this was done using my go-to WordPress theme framework, GeneratePress (ref link), which is easy for non-techie people but with plenty of geeky possibilities.

PS I also have more thoughts on Patreon.

With Fan Club functions provided by a FREE WordPress membership plugin

Paid Memberships Pro (ref link) is a free WordPress plugin that lets anyone create their own subscription-based membership site in minutes.

NB: a membership site is the traditional term for a website that provides private content for members. Patreon took that idea and built a platform around it. But I'd like to get away from calling them membership sites or use Patreon's terms, so I propose calling them Fan Clubs moving forward (I'm going to have to advertise in the back pages of comic books to make it super legit).

PMPro has paid addons, of which I’ve used a few, but the majority of the functions on this site can be replicated with their main & always free plugin, along with free add-ons.

I’m going to create some PMPro tutorials later this year to help others to not be reliant on platforms who can change terms anytime they want – you’ll find my detailed beliefs on this in my post here about digital sharecropping.

I’m also testing a new host

I’ve never been fully satisfied with the performance of my various web hosts, so I decided to go way outside of my comfort zone and into the uber-geeky realm of Digital Ocean’s cloud hosting (apologies for all the ref links but they do help a brother out).

DO is a no-frills, cloud computing host with an outstanding rep for performance – and one that I’m really happy with. This site is WAY faster than any of my sites on my regular host. DO has a serious learning curve, but it’s been worth it.

Please forgive all the broken images

There were some migration issues that resulted in a lot of broken images. I’ll be resolving them slowly moving forward.

I might be ditching Mailchimp too

I’m testing the Newsletter plugin for WP, for two reasons:

  1. I’d love to do all of my website oriented marketing & communication from one place: this website.
  2. Since I write blog posts that are newsletters, I’d prefer that everything be archived on my site.

This post is the first one I’m gonna try Newsletter’s Instasend feature with, where I write a post and then create a newsletter with that post’s content. Copying & pasting posts into Mailchimp took time, and this might shave up to half an hour out of the process for me.

This is combining with a dedicated email service called Mailgun to handle the mailings.

Last but not least: a thanks to a few subscriber guinea pigs

I made the new site live last week and notified my subscribers about it. And, as expected when a website has so many major changes, it wasn’t smooth.

Here’s a shout-out with extra special thanks (with sugar on top) to Kerstin, Gibson, and Josh, who took the time to send me details on the problems they ran into, which allowed me to fix them. I am grateful for y’all.

So… what do y’all think of the new look, feel & features?

I know that a site like this is what other creators need. So I’m going to work out the kinks on my own site before making it something that other creators can use.

If you’re a creator, or anyone interested in having their own fan club or membership site, I would love to hear what you think about all of this.

Keep on keepin’ on ✊🏽✊🏽✊🏽

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