I am Simon Ward.
Im a husband and father to 2 amazing sons. I am also a musician and web developer.
The reason for this website is both personal and business and I hope to help people with guides and blogs that I write and also share my photos, videos and life experiences with family, friends and anyone else who is interested in the things I do.
I started building websites before Google and Facebook took over the internet. I have had a lot of success and a lot of failures, more so failures over success. I don’t get on with the big monopolies and think the internet has become a playground for the rich. I fight hard against what I think is wrong and I support what I think is right. I will document every argument I have alongside every success and hopefully I can be of some assistance to both beginners and established online workers and at the same time, meet other people in the same predicament as myself.
When it all started for me.
I started back in 2002, messing around with basic HTML sites, nothing complicated, the internet was in its starter stages. There were no smartphones, WIFI was very limited and you would be amazed at 1 meg internet speeds, most people were on dialup. If you wanted to talk to someone, you would call them on your Nokia or in most cases, just pay them a visit. The internet didn’t exist for the majority of people. Looking at the state of the world today, it was so much better then. However, I just knew that the internet would be the place where the money would come in, against everyone else, I decided that I could really do something.
My first idea was a homepage with everything, news, weather, a search bar and an instant messenger chat, so you could login, do what you want and say hello to your family and friends. I didn’t have the knowledge or programming skills to do such a thing, so I tried other things, not knowing that the entire internet would be based around my concept in many years to come. At the same time, Google was just around the corner, but most people would use Ask Jeeves or Yahoo. Google was in its experimental period, working from a garage. I did try Google but that was only after I searched around looking for something that I already knew would blow the internet apart.
At the very start, I did try the homepage but got lost in coding and just couldn’t make it work. So I bought a $5 script from Tufat who are now defunct as a script provider. It was a chat script and good job they did, that chat script started something that changed my life. I bought the domain name LiveOnlineChat.net and installed the chat script from Tufat. Basic text chat for groups of people. At the time, Yahoo had chat rooms, they were always busy, I thought nothing would come of it but built a chat site anyway using Tufat’s flashchat script.
I began working on something that I thought would be a great tool for webmasters, a hits counter with live stats. Refresh the page and you would see how many people are on your site, which browser they used and where they came from. That site was freehitscounter.net, as of writing this, the domain is available and although I would love to buy it back, its just not worth it, unless you can beat Google Analytics. It was a really good tool at the time because webmasters used it, I used it and my friends used it. Eventually it just got overloaded with spam sites and I pulled the plug when Google Analytics became the normal.
As I was working on a classifieds site, I still had the chat site running Tufat flashchat. My mate, Kev, was also interested in the internet and we shared a living room, a computer each side. One day he shouted over to tell me “Simon you know there is like 20 people chatting on Live Online Chat?” That I didn’t know! Amazingly, without any promotion, I had people from all over the world in a single basic chat room! I went straight in there and asked whats happening here? They all said “Iggy” brought us here and we like it because its not Yahoo. I spoke to Iggy and gave her full admin access. I then thought to myself, I have been doing this for a while, time to make money, so looked for advertising possibilities and found Adsense. I rebuilt the site, worked very hard to bring in one of the very first chat sites that offered video chat, added Adsense and began to earn some revenue. The revenue was very little to start, but that was back in 2004 when the internet and advertising had just begun.
As the chat site began to earn more revenue, I began to meet other competitors who would spam the chat rooms with their links. I had to work on the script to prevent spam, it was like fighting a lion with a toothpick, although to them it probably felt the same. We were all new to the internet and had most of the people who had internet access looking to chat. Eventually, the site grew, the simple chat rooms where not good enough and the server was overloaded with chatters, I needed to do something so I built one of the first social networks, very similar to Facebook and what was to become Google Hangouts.
I have made my living over the years with Adsense.
Adsense was my only income from the site, but enough to take a jump and invest around $800 into Flashcoms chat script and a social network script with integration to Flashcoms. Basically, the competitors disappeared as everyone joined up to the brand new Live Online Chat. I worked very hard, decided this would be my main business, it started with a fluke but the green lights said do it and make it work, so I did. Yahoo chat rooms died, my chat rooms were full. The social side was a feed of members updates, groups and photo sharing. I added an instant messenger from Cometchat, it was almost like my first idea of a homepage but a place occupied by people who wanted to chat, meet others and connect. That was back in early 2005.
It took time but it became something amazing. I met so many people from around the world. Others did the same, the site put people together who would never had met before without the platform I had built. I know of marriages, babies and long term friendships because of the site I built. It changed my own life incredibly because I met my wife on the site. If it wasn’t for the chat site, my life would be totally different. So as far as I am concerned, it was well worth the effort, the time and the investment to keep it going.
I had a very successful chat site!
At its peak, I had around 10,000 people a day visiting the site, using it and enjoying it. That was around 2012. Unfortunately, Google decided I had posted spam links and de-ranked the site, bringing the traffic down from 10,000 visitors a day to 1,000. The 1,000 were mostly the regulars, but it became boring because we had no new chatters coming into the chat. Two months later, Google brought out Hangouts, coincidence or not, it killed the site. Hangouts was almost a direct copy of what I had, what I had tried to do and create. I swear down on my life, I never posted any spam links, but you can’t argue with Google, they own the internet. That is until Facebook became popular, unfortunately for me, I had the first idea and success, I could have had the Facebook of today, but greed from the monopolies screwed that right up!
I fight against the internet big boys!
So my battles today are a constant fight against the big boys. I did have a Facebook account but deleted it a long time ago. Facebook wouldn’t have been anywhere near as popular as it is today. Facebook take 100% advertising revenue, no opportunity for any website owner to earn from them. All big business prefer to pay Facebook over Adsense (Google). At least Google pays, Facebook don’t, the website owner loses out. But its come to the point where Facebook have the monopoly using an idea I already had in motion. If I could eliminate Facebook, I would, it is the wrong of the world. I Don’t trust Zuckerberg, he is in it all for money and does not care about anyone else other than himself as far as I’m concerned. You may have heard that he is a philanthropist, every billionaire hides behind that tag because they give more than most, but it is a drop in the ocean what they give. I’d happily live on 2k a month, there is no reason for more. If my social network was still alive today, I would make it as free as possible as long as everyone had a good experience. I’ll go further into Facebook in my blogs and hopefully you will understand that the internet is not a fair playing field for anyone any longer, not even the end user.
With my website I hope to be able to help people with guides and tools that you may find useful. I have had some good success online in my life but since the monopolies took over the internet, I have more failures over success. In-fact writing this now, I am surviving on almost zero income from the internet. If you do find any of my guides or tools useful, please share my website, that would be a great help!