Odd-Scotland was on my mind, when Gordon and I were poking around in a Scottish tartan giftshop on the Ness River, on the lookout for silly souvenirs like Haggis mating call whistles and fluffy green “Nessies” - what they call Loch Ness Monsters here in Inverness. The variety of odd tourist twat mixed in with the lovely tartans was astonishing. But even more astonishing, to me at least, was the moment I looked up and saw a long row of tartan tam o'shanters all lined up near the shop ceiling, bright oranges, reds and greens in every tartan under the sun - and saw instead a “Nav” bar.
”Hey look Gord, those tams would make a great Nav bar!!!” I fairly squeeled with glee.
A Nav bar? Turning a line-up of tam o'shanters into a Nav bar? (The look on his Scottish face...something like: “there she goes obsessing about websites again.”)
I snapped as many photos of the tams as I could without the shopkeeper getting too suspicious. I wasn't sure how I would patch the tam pics together, because I was totally new to PhotoShop. I was totally new to web design and Site Build It! too, but I was so encouraged by all the helpful video content, taking my hand step-by-step, and all the exciting Snags-to-Niches success stories I was reading on the forums and in the SBI newsletter, that I felt if I really really wanted to, I could find a way. Or find someone who could help me find a way.
And guess what? I did find a way. And after experimenting with PhotoShop to get my NAV bar and crazy logo design, and using the SBI tools to customize the Look and Feel of the Odd-Scotland website, I began writing my homepage content. Late one night I was trying out the SBI online tools with my homepage content and accidentally hit the Build It! button before I meant to – many days before I meant to.
Suddenly what I had written was ONLINE!!! for the world to see. I was excited and terrified. I had no choice but to keep going, because you can't have an orphan homepage with nothing else on the site. Slowly, block by block, another page got built. And then another. And truly, I have found that the more I do the easier it gets, and the more I do, the more I eagerly WANT to do. It's so gratifying to put my words and photos out to the world – publishing on my own terms.
I turned to SBI after I hit the wall as a freelance travel writer and photographer. I was weary of copyright-grabbing contracts and word limits, and indemnity clauses, and pay 1/5 of what I got even ten years ago – and all of this to allow big publishers to use my work forever and ever in any media now existing or yet to be invented, and to make ongoing, forever and ever money from it.
I began my freelance magazine writing career in the good old prosperous times of magazine freelancing in New York City in 1969, when a contract with GEO Magazine or the New York Times meant they could use my story or my photo one time only. I kept the copyright, and could re-license my story or photo to other publications thereafter. This was the industry standard, one-time use. Now the industry standard has changed, squeezing freelancers out of a living.
Magazines and newspapers are taking writers' works, publishing them on their own websites, as well as in print, and reaping all the revenues. Publications are also enjoying free content, stories and photos from citizens at large, eager to see their names online. Until recently, the reaping of this advertising and affiliate link revenue, and revenue generated by free citizen content – readers contributing their own hotel and restaurant reviews, photos and stories, was the province of the BIG GUYS. But now the software is available for anyone to do that – and SBI is showing me how to create a profit-making travel website.
I discovered Site Build It! in Inverness, Scotland through travel writing colleagues Donna Dailey and Mike Gerrard of Pacific-Coast-Highway-Travel.com who raved about it. I was amazed to discover that SBI itself – the huge wonderful people-empowering operation – is based in Montreal on Rue Maissoneuve, a few blocks from where I used to live! It figures, because Montreal is such a people-empowering place, where social networking is as vital as the daily pain au chocolat and cafe au lait.
I voraciously began to read all information that I could online. I was especially excited by the encouraging stories I read at
Successful Case Studies and was particularly encouraged by the peptalk offered at
Turning your travels into an online business Now as I enjoy working away at Odd-Scotland.com here in Inverness and on the road, I think of Ken Evoy walking to work, in the same neighborhood in which I lived and loved, and I am back there, in bi-lingual Montreal, imagining my friends and colleagues reading about Odd Scotland. Thank you all for empowering and inspiring me, and may our world wide web be unbroken.
And like Doughall Mohr, the ancient Scottish Douglas fir tree which started out as a wee seedling so many ages ago, may our websites grow to mighty heights and empower us with the expression of mighty ideas.