You Won’t Believe My Morning

Straight out of a futuristic Gulliver’s Travels…

I went out on my daily excursion to sit on the front step of my building for ten minutes holding my breath when people walked by. Normally, I spend the time diddling around my phone, but I forgot to bring my phone this morning, so I just looked around.

As I was taking in the emptiness of the street, a little glint caught my eye in a patch of dirt on the sidewalk. I bent over to look closer, and there was the glint again. It wasn’t a normal glint like from a shiny rock or a piece of metal—it was a little pinprick of flashing light.

Intrigued, I was now on all fours looking closer. And I saw the most surreal thing.

Tiny houses.

Like tiny houses. Each about a millimeter high, like ornately carved grains of sand.

I was either dreaming or looking at the coolest, cutest little art project ever.

As I examined the microscopic village, I noticed what looked like a scrawl of teeny letters on the dirt next to the houses. It said:

PUT YOUR THUMB ON THE OVAL

You HAVE to read this.

Blogging Full-Time

Blogging full-time is a goal for many…he made it happen before it was a thing.

Not sure if you have ever heard of Kottke.org, but it’s one of the internet’s oldest and well-known blogs. Somehow I stumbled across a 15-year-old post over there, when Jason Kottke wrote about going “full-time blogging”.

After thinking about it for a few weeks, I had a bit of an epiphany. The real problem was the tension between my web design career and my self-publishing efforts; that friction was unbalancing everything else. One of them had to go, and so I decided to switch careers and pursue the editing/writing of this site as a full-time job.

I would imagine that was as terrifying then as it is now…probably more so. He had been working full-time and keeping up his blog as it picked up steam for about 7 years.

Think about that.

7 years keeping his blog up and running before he jumped in to it full time.

Ok, but why else are you doing this?

Blogging — or personal publishing in general (not that they’re synonymous) — as a pursuit has been somewhat marginalized as a hobby or something one does to support other more worthy and/or lucrative pursuits. People leverage their blogs in order to write books, write for magazines or newspapers, pursue art or photography, go work for Gawker, Mediabistro, or Weblogs Inc., get jobs at startups, do freelance design (as I used to), start a software company, or as a vehicle to sell advertising. All worthy pursuits, but I’m interested in editing kottke.org as my primary interest; blogging for blogging’s sake, I guess.

I have always seen blogging as a way to share my interests…and I think most folks see it the same way. Many might see blogging full-time as a dream job, but I bet it’s a lot of work too. What’s the saying?…

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life

We have the benefit of hindsight and reading this post from 2005 is pretty cool to see. Jason’s write up still holds up all these years later.

Doing kottke.org as a full-time job

Note: I saved that post to read later and write about here and little did I know that just a couple days later (March 14th to be exact), Kottke.org turned 22.

Hello all. I know there’s a pandemic going on out there, but I wanted to take a moment to celebrate kottke.org turning 22 years old today. If you’ve been reading along the entire time or for only a few days, it’s been an honor for me to inform, provoke, entertain, and possibly even infuriate you all for a few minutes every day. Thanks for reading — and an extra-special thanks to those who support the site with a membership. As I said a few weeks ago, all this really means a lot to me.

Celebrating 22 Years of Kottke.org

Creative Intimacy

You ever wonder about who Albert Einstein hung out with?

Albert Einstein’s mind was the first to grasp the theory of relativity. William Shakespeare penned the timeless drama of Romeo and Juliet. Pablo Picasso’s brilliance brought cubism to the masses. Royal Robbins’ adventurous spirit drove him to the first ascent of the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome.

image via Wikipedia (Pablo Picasso and scene painters sitting on the front cloth for Léonide Massine’s ballet Parade, staged by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, 1917)

These geniuses of their time are all credited with amazing accomplishments. But did they accomplish these things solely because of their own brilliance or were there others that deserve some of the shine credited to these stars? An article in the New York Times dove into the myth of the ‘lone genius’.

We’ve all seen it.

image via Wikipedia (Tom Frost, Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, Yvon Chouinard at the completion of the first ascent of the North America Wall on El Capitan.)

At one point in time we have all probably revered those figures from the past who discovered a law of physics, wrote a timeless song, created a masterpiece of art, or (in my old circles) established a classic climb. Often times these creations and discoveries are attributed to someone of genius who was probably known for their solitude and is still widely pictured in that same light. Yet the Times article brings to light the partners, confidants, and even rivals that helped these men push their generations into the future.

Birds of a feather flock together right?

image via Wikipedia (Also known as “Shakespeare and His Friends at the Mermaid Tavern”. The painting depicts (from left in back) Joshua Sylvester, John Selden, Francis Beaumont, (seated at table from left) William Camden, Thomas Sackville, John Fletcher, Sir Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, John Donne, Samuel Daniel, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, the Earl of Southampton, Sir Robert Cotton, and Thomas Dekker.)

If you steer away from the cultural icons and spend a little time learning about those around them, we can find some interesting characters that also theorized, painted, wrote, or climbed along side these pioneers.

Highly recommend reading the Times article. It brings a new perspective on the team work and community that genius can require.

This was first posted over on Medium. If you like these longer form posts, you can get early access to them by becoming a Patron for $1 a month.

AvantLink Affiliate Application [Update and Lessons Learned]

It seems I hit a snag…

It seems that my website does not get quite enough traffic to warrant being accepted to the AvantLink partnership program. Over the weekend I wrote about applying to their program in hopes that I could be a Patagonia affiliate. Yet for now I will have to wait.

In all fairness, AvantLink does spell out what they’re looking for.

One of the sites that they point to, Alexa.com, has a tool that they use to help evaluate applications they receive. Once I went there, it made a lot more sense. I plugged in my URL and saw that Scott from California is still too fresh to rank in the top 3 million sites in webtraffic.

Out of curiosity, I looked up some climbing blogs I know.

Some of these sites are still active. The crazy part is that I remember when sites like MojaGear and CruxCrush were first launched. Heck, CruxCrush isn’t even running anymore and it still ranks in the top 3 million. So why does a site that is no longer being posted to rank higher than me?

Because they have been around for a while.

Had I been smarter, 7 or 8 years ago, when I first started my own website; I would have picked a name, stuck with it, and at least kept it running.

Lesson learned.

For now I will continue to try and inspire those I can and find quality content for you to enjoy.

How to Make Your First $50 on Medium

You can do this…here are the 3 steps you need.

Ok, as of publishing this I’ve only made about $43 and change…but looking at my Medium stats I’ll reach $50 soon. I am going to teach you the (less obvious) things I’ve learned, and 3 steps you need to start.


One of the things that I never expected when I first discovered Medium was that I would make money there.

I wrote on my own blog for a few years off and on, and thought the initial Medium experiment was just that…an experiment. The earliest posts on Medium were all about the clean design, typography, and quality content.

the very first Medium article
the very first Medium post!

A couple years ago when the Medium Partner Program started up, my interest swung back around. The program matured and the metrics for payouts moved away from “claps” to time spent reading content. A much better method. A little like YouTube video watch time for creators making money there.

How Do You Get Paid?

From the FAQ page:

Partner Program writers are paid monthly based on how much time Medium members spend reading their stories. Earnings are calculated based on two components:

– How long members spend reading your story. As Medium members spend more time reading your story (“member reading time”), you’ll earn more. When we calculate your story’s earnings, we’ll also include reading time from non-members if they subscribe to Medium within 30 days of reading your story.


– How much of their monthly reading time members spend on your story. By calculating a share of member reading time, we support authors who write about unique topics and connect with loyal readers. For example, if last month a member spent 10% of their monthly reading time on your story, you will receive 10% of their share (a portion of their subscription fee).

Imagine an author writes about fly fishing. She finds an audience of fly fishing enthusiasts who subscribe to Medium primarily to read her stories, meaning she receives a strong share of reading time from each of her readers. In contrast, a generalist author might receive smaller shares from his readers, who also read a variety of other authors. The fly fisher can earn relatively more through the share calculation, even with a smaller audience.

Pay close attention to the last bit. My own earnings seem to confirm that writing towards the interests of a specific audience is important. Almost 70% of what I’ve earned came from 1 article. That story was about when I almost died rock climbing. It got picked up for Medium’s “Outdoor” section…thus getting pushed to more people with that interest.

my highest earning story on Medium

How can you make sure your articles pop on Medium?

1. The Push and Pull

This is my term but others may call it the flow. The reason I call it the push and pull is because that is how you write something engaging. Good articles start off with the author’s position, promise, or a primary question for exploration.

To engage readers past that initial push, you pull them in with a story that almost takes their mind off of that first promise. Then you push them back to the main point. This cycle can repeat throughout your post. Done well, this makes for an engaging read…especially for long articles.

And on Medium, higher “member reading time” is how you make money.

2. The “Medium Format”

This may seem obvious to some but it wasn’t for me at first. Yet I have learned that there is a format that works well here. I came across another author that spells it out quite well.

This article is FULL of great tips, tricks, and advice. After reading this and adjusting how I format my posts on Medium, I started getting picked up by Medium editors for distribution.

I recommend reading this article. Using images and white space, linking to your own work, and having a strategy for choosing the right tags…it all matters. Trust me.

Read that article and save it. I still go back and refer to it every now and then.

3. Spend Time (but not too much) on the Title

Obvious I know but it’s important.

On YouTube they say to spend a lot more time than you think on your video thumbnail. After all, if people never click on your thumbnail, they will never watch your video. The same advice applies for titles on Medium…or anywhere. Luckily titles don’t need photoshop expertise.

But you do need a cover photo that matches the tone of your title.

BE AWARE though. I came across the above article that did a statistical analysis on all the “standard title advice”. The author boiled it down to this:

The only thing that matters is writing about a subject people care about, and writing a title that suggests you’re giving them something of value. That’s it.

Great advice and a valuable read that will save you some time in the future. I skimmed past the data science parts of it to the meat of what most of us are looking for. What works, what doesn’t.

Topic + Simplicity + Value Proposition = Good Title = Clicks = Readers = $$

Photo by Gia Oris on Unsplash

Where to Start

  1. Sign up for the Partnership Program!! – It’s easy and I was surprised when I started getting paid. Although I guess I shouldn’t have been.
  2. Save this post for future reference – Click that bookmark or archive button. I saved the articles that inspired me and you will be happy you did too.
  3. Start writing – You can even import old stuff you’ve written from other websites. Don’t be afraid to share your free ‘friends and family link’ with…your friends and family. Sharing is caring and helps get your article read.

I hope this has helped give you that push to start writing here. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

This was first posted over on Medium. If you like these longer form posts, you can get early access to them by becoming a Patron for $1 a month.

I Can’t Help Myself…I’ve Done it Again

Ever in the pursuit of the perfect website design…

One of my biggest weaknesses (yet also a strength) is the fact that I like to fiddle with the design of my site. I feel like I have a very specific vision of what I want my site to look like.

The trick is that I have to balance that with how to best design it in such a way that I can work on serving information on community memberships, showing tasteful ads, display affiliate partnerships, etc. I’m trying to make a little money here and I want to show you how I do that along the way.

While my Hermes wordpress theme was very fast, it didn’t seem to allow me the ability to add a simple righthand column to display a little extra info. I experimented just a bit but decided for now to switch to the Twenty Sixteen wordpress theme. I love the classic and clean blog look of this theme, and it shows the full posts on the main page…which is nice because people who land here can spend more time on the page vice having to click around. (Although…do I want people to click around?) The only downside is that when I tested it over at Pingdom.com it failed the “speed test” miserably. Ugh. So I’ll be working on that.

All that to say, if you visit my site over the next few days you may seem some changes. Don’t worry, content will always be king and my content isn’t going anywhere. Hopefully I will just make it easier to peruse it all.

Drop a comment if you prefer the old design, like this one better, or just don’t give a damn.

Oh, and Happy Leap Day!!

Patreon for Bloggers

I’ve only ever heard of this for YouTubers…

One of the things that I have been very honest about when I started up this website was that I was going to try and make some money with it.

The tricky part is making money without being obnoxious, bringing down the quality of my site, or generally putting out garbage. I refuse. I don’t know about you, but I cannot stand websites that are riddled with ads and hurt your eyes with all of the click bait and pop-ups.

My initial goal is to be able to get enough income streams from various sources (affiliates, Medium.com partner plan, tee spring, etc) to be able to remove ads from here and break even on the cost of keeping the site going. The google Adsense advertisements that come with wordpress plans are ugly in my opinion…but I’m still trying to see if they have any benefit. If they don’t…perhaps I’ll get rid of them anyways. Luckily…quality content is always king.

When I was going hard on YouTube in 2018 and pumping out vlogs, I saw a lot of YouTube creators talking about their Patreon pages. I finally got curious enough to check them out but never signed up for one. It never really clicked for me until I came across Dusty Porter and his YouTube Creators Podcast. He is always talking about his Patreon page and calling out his patrons, encouraging folks to join his Discord channel to chat with likeminded folks.

After gaining a bit of inspiration from this creator…I have launched my own Patreon page.

But Scott…you post everything here for free…why a Patreon page? First, I do plan to offer early access to my longer form write ups. I haven’t mentioned it often, but I’ve posted some of my longer articles over on Medium and made a few bucks along the way. One thing they give writers that write for their partner program is a family and friends link for each article writen and published behind their paywall. This gets anyone with the link behind that paywall.

Medium has a ton of great content and I pay for the annual membership. I’d check it out if I were you. Hopefully $1/month is worth early/free access to articles I spend more time writing up. They’ll still get posted here, just a week or two after they go up on Medium.

Patreon Benefits

  • Get free access to my Medium.com longer form articles with a  Friends and Family link posted for Patrons only
  • Get a shout out on my next YouTube video
  • Access to chat with the community in our Discord channel

Not a bad start in my opinion. Honestly, I’m going to try it out and see where it goes. Let me know what you think about a Patreon channel and writing. I’m not sure how it will work out…but stick around and I’ll tell you.

Scott from California Patreon Page