Know When to Fold ‘Em

Oh my oh my, it has been an interesting few months, to say the least, which is why I haven’t posted anything since my ode to Robin Williams after his death back in August 2014.  “Interesting” probably isn’t really the best word….“insane” is probably a little closer to reality.  To catch up a little on what happened, before I go into what has happened since, you can read these 3 posts:

Some Dreams Just Aren’t Meant to Be

So back in December of 2009, I had developed a bit of a reputation on DentalTown as a photography/Photoshop “expert.”  Well…..relatively speaking, that is.  LOL  Looking back, I can honestly say that the reputation was only partially deserved, as there was a LOT that I didn’t yet know about either photography (in general) or Photoshop.  But within the dental community, and especially on DentalTown, I was pretty well-known and was getting a LOT of repetitive questions.  Since I was in the process of learning a lot about website design and WordPress at the time, I figured, “Hey, why not build  a new website and answer all those questions there, to avoid having to re-answer/type them every time they come up?”  So….I did.  Thus was born Dental Digital Photography.

DDP-Header-686-x130

Because it was a labor of love, basically, I only posted to the site very irregularly.  Oftentimes, it served as a place for me to work out some issues that I was having myself, whether with cataloging photos in Lightroom, watermarking, meta data management, editing, etc.  Since they were questions I had, I figured others would also be interested in the answers.  And so it seems, they did.  Within a short period of time, with no advertising at all, the site was soon receiving several thousand unique visitors per month and 10-20,000 Pageviews per month.  Here’s a screenshot of just the last 30 days – and remember – no advertising at all!

DDP last month stats

 

 

 

 

 

Like I said, it was just a labor of love and personal interest……..but in the back of my mind, I’ve always had some ideas on how I could make some money from the site if I could make it subscription-based.  After all, the only way I could ever justify taking more time to work on it (meaning less time for my practice), would be if I got paid to do so.

The Curse of Being ADD

The thing with being ADD, though, is that while it’s easy to have a lot of great ideas, and even to have the knowledge and skills to make those great ideas happen, it’s really damn hard to have the focus to make all of them come to fruition.  And it’s not like I didn’t have enough things on my plate already, right?  Wife, 2 daughters, 2 dogs, full-time dental practice in which I do all the website stuff and social media, a passionate hobby in photography (non-dental), an addiction to reading and learning new stuff, and the occasional need for some sleep.  In other words, while I strive for a balanced life, it doesn’t always work out that way, kind of like this:

ideal-squirrel-reality

 

And so, in the summer of 2014, I was on the verge of closing the site up for good.  Without enough time to put into the site to make it worth anyone subscribing, I’d finally recognized that I would never have the desire, time, or energy to make anything of it.  And so, I put out the word that I was interested in handing the site over to someone else, along with the associated social media pages.  It wasn’t long before I found a colleague who expressed interest in it, and we began talking about the transition.  This was right about the time i wrote my blog article about Feeling a Little Overwhelmed?  Yeah, Me Too.  I was feeling pretty good about the decision, too!  And then….

My 5 Minutes Of Fame Arrived!

Less than a week after writing the aforementioned blog post, suddenly things changed, as I detailed in the follow-up blog post The Law of Unintended Consequences (and Opportunities?).  Suddenly, it seemed that I had finally found a way to capitalize on the website after all, but this time, it would begin with social media, and in particular, my knowledge and experience with Google+.  Again, not that I would qualify as a real “expert” compared to many people whom I follow there, but relative to my dental colleagues, I sure did!  Heck, I’d even been christened “Dr. Google+” by a very knowledgeable Plusser, Linda Buquet.  And so, within a very short period of time (less than 2 weeks), I went from the verge of handing over the site to suddenly seeing a whole new future for it, expanding to become Digital Dentistry Inc.  I even invested the money with Ryan J. Rhoades of Reformation Designs (I highly recommend him BTW) for a new logo, YouTube header, etc, which quite frankly, I still REALLY like:

DDI Website Header2

Suddenly, I was a Hangout on Air HOST, for crying out loud!  With more than 50 people having expressed interest in watching and learning, and an all-star cast of Guest Experts (real experts, that is) including:

And so began the insanity.  Creating the weekly events, promoting them on G+, Twitter, and Facebook, making sure they were shared properly, hosting them, and all that jazz.  And for awhile, it was fun!  Hey – here I was, the host of a HOA series on G+, a rising star in the dental social media marketing world, I would be the one to show dentists the REAL value of Google+, which none of them really seem to get.  And along the way, I would build a second business that wouldn’t depend on me actually working in people’s mouths, a source of passive income.  Ahhhhh, the possibilities seemed endless……I was already thinking of future episodes for Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more!

Eventually, Reality Caught Up

But the thing was……out of all those 50+ people who said they were really interested……they really weren’t.  At least, not interested enough to actually schedule some time on a Saturday to watch and participate.  Things started out looking good, I think we had 15 people tops watch the first HOA, but after that….we were lucky to get more than 2.  Not a good percentage, eh?  And with no audience, how would I generate any future business?  And so, after a total of 4 HOAs (which were pretty awesome BTW!), I was faced with a difficult choice: keep going, or can it?

I turned to a long-time dental colleague/friend, Dr. Sameer Puri, who had often given me excellent advice.  During the course of those chats, he helped me realize that there is FAR greater money to be made from my dental practice, simply by growing enough to pay off all our remaining debt.  And yes, my amazing wife had been telling me the same thing – gotta give her credit where credit is due.  And so, with 2 people (one of whom I sleep next to every night, so I’d better listen to her!) whom I trust greatly telling me to put aside this task, and to focus on growing our primary business enough to pay off all our debt within 2-2.5 years instead of 4 years, my priorities became clear.  Truth be told, I was already heading that direction.  As we head into our busiest time of year, it was becoming increasingly difficult to take the time to promote the HOA series, when what I needed to be doing, was promoting our own practice.

Wrapping Things Up

Now I’m left with a dilemma – leave the site there and just ignore it, with the possibility that one day down the road I could revive it?  Or give it away, or sell it?  While I was originally planning to just give it away, now I’m not so sure.  Even though the HOA series has been discontinued, I’ve invested some money and a hell of a lot of work to create more content that is really usable for people.  Sure, not many people watched us live, but the YouTube channel has gained 15 subscribers, which isn’t too shabby for a brand new page, and had something like 1,800 minutes watched (way more than my dental YT channel ever has).  So yes, there is some renewed value there.  And yet…..I know myself.  If I keep the site, there will always be a lurking desire in the back of my head to find a way to make money with it, and for the next 2 years, I need a laser-like focus on my practice.

I’m torn, and right at this moment, I don’t have an answer.  I have to make a final decision soon, though.

What a Ride it’s been, though, and I am so incredibly grateful for all the support of my amazing guests throughout this process.  THANK YOU!

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