How to pocket $5500 in 2011

I make a pretty decent living from open source ideas and software. In the last two years I've travelled across Canada, the US, Europe and down to New Zealand. It's a pretty decent life. I get asked (a lot) about how I can afford my life style. I always tell people: I keep things simple at home. I prioritize. And I reduce my costs by using open source products almost exclusively. These days most of my income comes from technical writing. Previously I made most of my income from building Web sites for small businesses and non-profit organizations. Lots of people have asked me to consult with them on how they, too, can quit their day job and run around the world and do open source stuff at their leisure. (Jetlag isn't nearly as glamorous as it sounds, but let's run with it for now.)

Chris Gillebeau has literally written the book on how to quit your job and become a freelancer. (Start with Break out of 9-5 if you're new to the concept of freelancing.) It's nice of Chris to have done that because it means I don't need to write down all the crazy things I do to make money (it ranges from writer-for-hire, to book author, to web site builder, to tech support and on). It's also a really sane approach to starting a business with smarts instead of flailing and hoping to make money somewhere along the line.

Great. So you went ahead and bought the book on freelancing and now you don't have a job and it turns out you didn't really plan the whole thing and you don't actually know what to do? Well this is where I can definitely help out. I decided to get really focused with my business. "laser focused" p'joo-p'joo. Next year I'm going to do one thing that's going to put over half a million dollars into the economy and hopefully $5500 into your pocket.

In 2011 I'm running Design to Theme's Drupal 7 Site Building Extravaganza program. Every month I'm going to create a brand new Drupal 7 Web site. Complete with a theme, design files, documentation on how the site was built and videos. I'm going to give you this package and you're going to turn around and sell the package to one small business or not-for-profit who desperately needs a Web site. The theme (design files) will be GPLed and the documentation will be Creative Commons. The whole program is designed for you to make a profit.

"Open source? Profit? You're crazy." Yeah, maybe. But I think you'd be more crazy not to sign up.

Interested in Open Data? You Should Be.

Last week the Liberal Party of Canada launched their Open Government Initiative. There's been a bit of buzz in the blogosphere about the Liberal initiative. I'm delighted that we're moving towards open government. I'm looking forward to the Conservative government agreeing that this is really important and declaring that all (appropriate) data will be available.

But what if we launch into this "open" thing and it all goes horribly wrong? Let's assume that only appropriate data is made publicly available. Let's assume that all privacy and security concerns are met. There's still two very important points that need to be met before data is "open":

SEO: Plug your nose and get stuck in

This week I am almost completely consumed by search engine optimization. It's the topic for chapter in my new book on building Drupal Web sites and the topic for an SEO class that I'm teaching at the beginning of August. I've been comparing search results for phrases like "php drupal" and "php drupal help." I've been obsessing over click through rates and conversion rates and I've been studying the competition. And then I got side tracked. Using the little built-in Firefox Google search (so that Mozilla could get a few fractions of a cent from my search) I looked up the following terms:

If we do a little comparison against these four terms we'll see most people use the term "software" with occasional forays into "program" most people have been using the term "software" and that the most popular regions for any combination of these terms are from India, South Africa, New Zealand and the UK. GIMP ranks well in all four search phrases, but only the first link yields a top-ten result for Inkscape. What's up Inkscape? Why aren't you top ten how can we make you do better? SEO to the rescue. Before you get covered in hives and think that SEO is just for marketing wonks let's take a look at how all projects, products and businesses can benefit from a little bit of site optimization.

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