A Mostly British Obsession

The Joys of “Hobby” Websites

xkedata.jpgAs many of my six regular readers know (can an irregularly published blog even have “regular readers?”), I created (and continue to maintain) XKE Data and XK Data, databases of surviving Jaguar sports cars. Overall, it’s been a positive experience–but since I have a podium here, you’re going to have to read about the pluses and minuses of this type of site.

Fortunately, the positives thus far have out-weighed the negatives, though when there is something negative going on it can really drain your energy.

On the plus side of the ledger:

  • Nearly everyone has been very supportive, and I’ve “met” some wonderful and interesting people.
  • Some amazing volunteers have stepped forward to help; indeed, without the concentrated efforts of a very few individuals, I think there would be many, many fewer cars online.
  • The sites have given me a chance to experiment with coding that has been put to use in my professional life…having a “playground” to experiment in is nice.
  • The project itself is very cool and it astonishes me how many E-Types have survived.
  • Hearing positive comments on the sites really is nice, and I enjoy the opportunity to give folks something to enjoy

I am probably going to list more negatives (and in more detail), but that’s only because they tend to stick in my head more. Like I say, the project has been overwhelmingly positive.

The bad:

  • It costs a fair amount to run the site in real dollars. My expenditures total about $1,000 a year, not charging for any of my time:
    • Fortunately, I have received donations…oh, wait. Three donations in four years, totalling $210. And one of those donations was made by someone trying to get my attention, as their email had been languishing in my “get to it soon” folder. (Oh, my.) I’ve resisted banging the drum like jag-lovers.org does constantly, but even they get really craptacular results (apparently) from the donations “whoring.”
    • Ah, but what of my Cafe Press store? Haha! Sales have been dead for awhile as I haven’t had any time to create new designs. I made about $500 in 2006, but this year it’s around $100. I made a mistake on my calendar last year–I gave everyone whose photo appeared in it a complimentary copy…that actually cost me about as much as I made in total from all the rest of the sales (I enjoyed the gesture but clearly needed better sales)!
    • Unless you run a site about popular electronic gadgets or a few other topics, there isn’t much money to be made via ads. I had ambitions when I started but quickly realized that there just wasn’t any way to make “real” money. Adsense on XKE Data would bring in around $10 a month. Yeehaw!
  • It’s a bit of a drain on my time–I spend about 100 to 150 hours a year on the sites. That’s a lot if I wear my professional cap (I do sites like these for a living), but as I’d probably fritter away some of that time in any case, I can’t really say I “spend” that potential revenue.
  • Threats of legal action are always a bummer. A couple of “gentlemen” have had their panties twisted over the years. Why do they feel that “threatening” with Lots of Terms in Initial Caps and vague quoting of laws that don’t actually apply will get results? You know, guys, it isn’t always a conspiracy of People Out To Get You.
  • I did receive some help from Philip Porter’s XK and E-Type clubs (but even that led to a short-lived misunderstanding). The rest of the clubs can go jump in a lake. They all want “exclusives” for their members if they get involved (and what do I get in return? A headache!). Clubs like JCNA seem stocked with people who are openly dismissive–after all, this isn’t “official.” (Many clubs are starving for members and new things to do and yet they’re incredibly insular and even downright spiteful.)
  • My favorite is criticism for not being exactly what someone else wanted–clearly, I should have asked them what to do. Often these criticisms take the form of a lengthy note (er, like this blog entry, actually), usually copied to a popular forum or multiple email recipients, pointing out tragic flaws and then suggesting the way to really do it right. Do these people then either write their own site to do what they want or pay someone to code it? (No.) The joy of the web is if you do something important badly, hundreds of others will come along and do it better. I haven’t seen a better database online of these great cars…yet!
  • Finally, I do this in my spare time. Sometimes I get to things immediately, other times it takes far longer. I suppose it’s natural to whine a bit if you’re feeling ignored, but it’s not you, it’s me–honest! Please don’t pout.

It’s fun and I enjoy the sites. But venting is also fun, and I’m done now!


  1. chuck goolsbee

    Forgive me for thinking out loud here about money, but: $1000 per year for webhosting… sounds like a $75 per month plan with some additional expenses (bandwidth overages, etc) on top. My query says it is a FreeBSD server, and you mentioned it is a MySQL database back end.

    Do you require a “control panel” training wheels to manage it? Or are you versant enough in the overly complex protocols of FTP and PHPmyAdmin to do it yourself?

    If so, I could likely cut that grand down to almost, if not $0. (Provided of course we could take all those proceeds of CafePress and Donations and run off to Puerto Vallarta for a lost weekend or something equally frivolous. ;)


  2. Roger

    Thanks for the offer, Chuck, but I do require the easy-peasey front-end stuff for the freeBSD part of it. And it’s not killing me, it was more as a contrast to the huge–HUGE–monies coming in. ;)


Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑