Classifieds 1000 interviewed C.J.S. Hayward about his website. The interview is available here, as well as several places online with Classifieds 1000.
What is the name of your website?
Jonathan’s Corner: A Glimpse into Eastern Orthodox Christianity
What is your name?
Your Location (city, etc)
I live outside of Chicago, Illinois, USA, in a lovely little niche called Wheaton. My father teaches at Wheaton College, and it’s a really nice place.
Please give us a short summary of your website?
The website is a collection of creative work—stories, humor, musings, essays, art, even computer software—that I have been collecting for over a decade.
What inspired you to launch your own website?
That’s hard to say. Ultimately, I think it’s a work of creativity that cooperates with God. For me, it begins with a hazy idea that I try to “hear out,” and continues until I have something to share. Eventually I had enough to fill out a large website.
When did you launch your first website, and what was it?
I launched my first website in the early 90’s. It was a predecessor to my current website.
How did you decide on a name for your website?
I was looking for something that would be easy to type and remember. CJSHayward.com was available.
What makes it different from other, similar offerings?
I think some of my visitors would say that there isn’t much in the way of other, similar offerings. It isn’t the only “creative work” website on the web, but the collection—stories, mystical theology, art, humor, poetry, games, computer software—isn’t really “just like” anything else I’ve found.
What is your eventual goal? (To sell it, keep it for income, secure a book or other mainstream media deal?)
This site is made to share my creations.
How does your investment of time and money balance against your success?
It’s been worth every man-year of time I’ve spent on it. Really. I don’t really measure things by a “cost-benefit” dollar count; I love to create and this has been a way to share my creations.
If you had an unlimited development budget for development, how would you change your site?
There was one Unix designer who was interviewed and was asked, “If you could design Unix all over again, what would you do differently?” His answer? “I would have spelled [the Unix ‘system call’] ‘creat’ with an ‘e’.” Meaning, there’s not much he regrets about how he designed Unix.
I have used a lot of open source software but haven’t put much money into it. If I had more money, the only thing I’d really do is use it to subsidize my living expenses as I continue my creative work.
If your site got really big, really quickly, would you be able to keep up with the demand?
Jonathan’s Corner already receives well over a thousand unique visitors per day. I’d have to pay a little more for bandwidth, but my site is already graceful with a large number of visitors.
Now I know there are sites with many more unique visitors. But if I avoid the web’s version of keeping up with the Joneses—and think my site has to be the world’s biggest site—then I already have much to be grateful for.
What unexpected costs and headaches have you had to deal with?
I learned the hard way about infinite spidering for a recent CGI script, but there haven’t been too many headaches.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Finding good things to be create. I don’t like long dry spells when I can’t create anything or share anything new with people.
What method has been most successful for promoting your website?
Website awards; see Award Sites!.
Web awards are valuable for much more than incoming links. I don’t agree with all of the orthodoxies within the web awards community, but the web awards community is a tremendous place to learn expertise about making a good website that people will want to link to. I worked for awards before I began working on reciprocal links, and I would reccommend that to anybody because the web awards community has a LOT of expertise about how to make your website better—and they are very generous about sharing that expertise.
How has running your website differed from your expectations?
Because my purpose was to share my creative work, I didn’t have that many surprises. If I’d expected a visitor turnout, or a good PageRank, or the like, then I would have had a lot of grounds for disappointment. As it is, the first time I saw my site listed on Google’s directory, it was seventh in category. In retrospect, I’m surprised at how many good things have happened.
How long have you run the site already, and how long will you continue to keep it up if you don’t enjoy big gains in traffic, income or popularity?
I have run my site for over five years, and I want to continue running it for as long as I am in a position to do so.
Which page do you most wish people would visit?
That varies over time; usually, it’s my most recent creative work. My latest piece, which I am very happy to share, is Within the Steel Orb.
That piece has been simmering for a long time, and is a science fiction dialogue touching on technology, relativity, and other things next to which technology and science are of relative importance only. But the real reason it is close to my heart is that I have let it stand on my site as a tribute to Madeleine l’Engle, my favorite children’s author, who provided some of the inspiration for that piece. I owe a lot to her as an author, and I was working on it during some of her last days: I don’t know how to better salute her than leave that piece standing in gratitude.