November 30th, 2010

let down hair

Today, on the chopping block: Portrait Adoption

Portrait Adoption is arguably the best idea I've ever had. Of all the aspects of EMG, it has been the most lively, the most profitable for all involved, and is the most unique. It also requires very little of my time to maintain - finally.

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Overall Feelings about the Project

I love this project. I am still quite proud of the concept, and feel like the site has (finally!) gotten close to the vision I had - even exceeded it in places! It hasn't been a runaway success, and there is some emotional abandonment baggage that has been sort of eating away at my brain. Most Internet-only businesses could not survive 18 months+ of crippled website - that's almost 1/3 of the time the project has been up! This one has survived, and that says a lot. It continues to give a handful of active artists good pocket money, and even pays some major bills for a few of them.

Cold Hard Cash and Time Evaluation

This project asks very little of me, anymore. I have to check once a day to approve any new work, which can be done with two clicks, and approve adoptions when payment is received (another two clicks) and print the portrait (for standard adoptions) and pay the artist (easily managed through the lilypad, now). I can program All By Myself, now, if I want to add improvements, but it doesn't **require** any, and I've been able to fix any problems that come up with relative ease.

I set up the payment structure thoughtfully from the very beginning, and it's fair - I don't make a ton on artwork that's not my own, but I DO make enough to make my time investment worthwhile, and I also have the opportunity to sell my own work as one of the artists - which is very worthwhile indeed.


Oh, don't think that improvements couldn't be made - there are several that I'd love to pursue: the ability to share wishlists, and to show wishlist counts, more peer review interactivity, more forum activity for artists (which is more a personal activity push than a coding investment), and the avatar adoption option that is already half-built. I have been toying since the very, very beginning with the idea of approaching established gaming platforms for licensing rights to legitimately offer things like WOW portraits and Star Wars specific races and creatures (and enter partnerships with those platforms for more exposure), and the very basic framework for making that happen is actually in place, should I have the guts to actively try.

But none of these improvements are necessary for its current forward motion, which is very nice indeed.

Final Thoughts

Portrait Adoption is safe from the executioner today. It is worth ramping up again, even - it's time to let go of my frustration and baggage and actively pursue this in earnest. The momentum we had at the beginning was tremendous and encouraging, and the whole concept has serious merit. There is so much potential in this project it's somewhat staggering, and I've under-utilized it because I've been so afraid of further platform failure. It's time to let go of the negative here and let this project reach the heights that it can.


Chopping block discussions continue again - I took a week and a little bit off for a slight mental breakdown and a bit of a weather disaster (OH, and FINISHED MY NOVEL!!!), but am back up at, well, at least at half power, for now.

Some end of the month reminders: the deadline for our 'creation' theme is tomorrow for EMG-Zine! and

Sketch Fest is coming up on Friday-Saturday!

Be sure to give me a word that I can give back to you!

Portrait Adoption artists, there are several wonderful submitted descriptions in the hopper now, ranging from $20 - $125, with very few sign-ups!

In random information that you warm-climate people will find interesting, it is nearly 30 below today!

And... have some art:

(Obviously, a PA piece...)

Today, on the chopping block: EMG forums

At one point, the EMG forums were hopping. They've never been the kind of zooming social platform that some forums achieve, with dozens of posts a minute, and I've always been honestly happy with that, because I'm not the kind of person who has time to hang out moderating a forum all day every day. We had a good, solid community where we could exchange lots of heartfelt market and business advice, get a reliable artistic critique by several people within a few hours, rant about a bad client, or share something silly. There were always a handful of interesting posts to read each day, and projects to discuss and brainstorm on. EMG-Zine took most of its form there, as did Fantastic Portfolios. Most of the sites got their feedback and took their final form through user discussion on those forums, with lively and thoughtful input from our users - almost exclusively member artists.

We've always been blessedly, blessedly free of drama. I blame this on the fact that I have always been the most active participant (or close to it), and I have always been a fan of common courtesy. I've been clear that I wouldn't tolerate meanness, and set a general example of friendly but firm, trying to offer thoughtful counterpoint to opinions, act encouragingly and fairly to all the members. (Also, I wrote the paychecks. That might have played a role...) I've had to have private words with... maybe one artist, ever. The only threads I've censored have been spam.

Ah... spam.

Spam joins were a big bother for a while there. At one point, there were hundreds joining every day. I kept 'em out, and Tiziano helped me kill them, before the forums were upgraded to the point where we could keep them from joining effectively. Even if they don't make it through to leave their spammy little links on the boards, it was still a bit of a buzzkill. We got hacked once, too.

Largely, those problems are behind us, I hope.

But wow, has it slowed down. It used to be that a new member was greeted by between four and a dozen people. Now? I say hello when I think to check the boards, three days later. Or a week.

There is a TON of great material on the boards, but it's largely static, now. I keep it updated - I updated it just tonight, actually - because I have learned my spam and hacker lessons quite thoroughly (don't leave out of date software on the web, boys and girls!), but rarely remember to post anything there anymore.

Does anyone USE forums anymore? Is this worth trying to blow the dust off of? I would love to see the critique boards active again, and if other folks were to meet me in the effort, I'd love to post WIPs for review again, and chat about businessy topics and see how you are. Has Facebook and Twitter and Livejournal replaced this role too thoroughly, or would you stop in if it was active again?

I'm... not sure what to do here yet. You, gentle readers, may act as jury in this matter, because it's not something I COULD single-handedly revive.