A Tough Decision Has Been Made

At some point throughout these past two weeks, I decided to move forward with an idea that hurts to even think about. To keep things short and to the point, I've made the decision to close Di Franco University and rethink my content distribution strategies. This happens to fall directly in line with one of my goals for 2018, and that's to focus more on my website work. Perhaps it's meant to be, then?

I should clarify, however, that Di Franco University and its content isn't completely disappearing. In fact, a good majority of it is staying intact. The content itself is simply moving to a new home — my personal website! Instead of having to jump back and forth between two websites that are quite similar, why not consolidate things into one platform? You can now view all the Articles and Courses I've put together on one website. I'm thinking this is the direction I should've taken in the beginning.

It should be no secret by now that I've completely redesigned my personal website, which is the website you're viewing at the moment. Of course, the merger had a lot to do with that. I wanted to put together a new look that is familiar to the Di Franco University crowd, but also easy to navigate for those who have gotten used to browsing my personal content. In other words, not that much has changed.

For the time being, I'm looking to keep things simple. That should quickly become obvious once you begin to explore the website. An all-new My Work page has been created. Rather than splitting up my work by content type, everything is now displayed on a single page. From photography and videos to my newest websites, learning more about me and what I do is easier than ever.

And speaking of making things easier, the Resources page has been updated with some visual tweaks — including bulleted lists of particular features I enjoy most about website builders, YouTube tools, and more. If you ever find yourself stuck when looking to create a project, simply reference this page for a lending hand. It's there to help!

Making such a tough decision like this hasn't been easy. If anything, it's a risk that I am willing to take. My personal brand is very important to me, so I'm excited to see where this takes me.

And finally, none of this is made possible without your support. I trust the community has my back along the way. Here's to taking the next big step.

2018: Year of the Affiliate | My Goals for the Next 12 Months

At the beginning of every year, I like to take a moment to reflect on everything that went down throughout the previous 12 months — and of course, everything that will occur in the coming year. This goes for anything that is related to my personal brand, positive and negative. It's important to focus on what's working for my business, and possibly more importantly, what's not working.

Looking back on 2017, let's begin with the positive. To put simply, 2017 was my best year yet. I introduced all kinds of new projects and ideas, which in turn allowed me to have my most financially successful year to date.

My Patreon campaign received its own dedicated website, allowing patrons to easily access exclusive content. While I couldn't move forward with my original plan of requiring patrons to log in via the website, I think the outcome turned out to be the better route to take. At some point, I even introduced the Patrons Showcase, which can be a great way for patrons to get their work seen by others. To learn more about my Patreon website and its features, click here.

Di Franco University... Let's talk about it. Yes, the website is still live and filled with a ton of useful content. From original articles to in-depth courses, Di Franco University saw a significant overhaul about halfway through the year — giving it a fresh new look and overall easier navigation. The website has certainly come a long way since its debut.

However, there is something missing with Di Franco University. It's not quite the website I originally envisioned. I have no plans of axing it any time soon, as it's a website that I care greatly about, but it's something I want to think about as 2018 progresses. In other words, I would love to see Di Franco University grow. It's just going to take some more time.

Websites aside for a moment, let's focus on my YouTube content. I made it a goal of mine in 2017 to form additional partnerships with major brands that I enjoy. Thankfully, I was introduced to some amazing opportunities before the year wrapped up — including review offers from Razer and Energizer.

Oh, and I was even on TV! Iceland Foods, a popular food retailer in the UK, chose to feature one of my Christmas videos in a TV advertisement during the holidays. Considering this is my first TV ad, I was very excited. You can watch the ad here.

Let's talk tech.

Remember "Project 4K" that I mentioned in last year's post? I'm happy to say that everything went according to plan. I bought myself a Samsung 65-inch 4K TV, brand new audio equipment, and even some new furniture. Okay, so this doesn't exactly pertain to my business, but it's still something I am very proud of. As someone who enjoys watching movies and playing video games regularly, this kind of upgrade was a big deal.

And finally, I cannot forget to mention one of my favorite things that I accomplished in 2017. For the first time in over ten years, I built a custom gaming PC. This is something I found myself talking about for quite a while now, but never actually acted on it. But yes, it finally happened, and was it a process! Check out all my parts on Kit.

So, with 2017 officially behind us, let's turn our focus to 2018 and my goals for the next 12 months. I do have a lot in store. The sooner I begin to execute these ideas, the better.

Taking Affiliate Networks to the Next Level

My name is David, and I am addicted to affiliate networks. There, I said it. I have always been fascinated by the idea of "selling" something and making a commission off the end sale. But then again, for anyone who watches my videos regularly, this shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, I have been part of the Amazon Associates program for as long as I can remember.

Actually, I belong to a variety of affiliate networks. It's exactly why I feature a Resources page on this very website. It's my job to provide the information that can help others and possibly get paid in return — provided someone signs up using any of my affiliate links. It's a basic idea, really. Still, I would love to see this idea executed on a grander scale.

I plan on building my affiliate networks using a simple method — be everywhere. Whether it be Amazon or Wix, I want it to be known that I am partnered with brands that I enjoy. And that's important. It's critical that I only endorse brands that I use myself. Affiliate networks are not just there to earn revenue. They pave the way for amazing opportunities that can allow you to grow as a content creator, marketer, etc.

And speaking of that...

Twitch is Life

Did you know that I have been streaming almost daily on Twitch? Hey, I didn't build my gaming PC for nothing. Now that the holidays are over, I plan on putting a lot of my time into growing my Twitch channel. As of this post, I currently have over 2,100 followers. It's my goal to surpass 10,000 followers by the year's end. I think I can manage that. But of course, growth doesn't happen over night.

Because I am now a Twitch affiliate, that alone has motivated me to really take things seriously. Soon I will be putting together a much more functional streaming setup in my bedroom — one that allows for broadcasting from not only my gaming PC, but a variety of gaming consoles as well. I'm excited to show everyone the final result in future videos.

If you're not already following me on Twitch, please feel free to do so here. I am in the process of building a truly amazing community, and I would love for you to be a part of it. Interacting with the chat room is important to me, so stop on by and say hello!

"Project Wix"

I consider myself to be well-versed with two of my favorite content management systems, Squarespace and WordPress. Both have been great to me, as each platform has its strengths and weaknesses. However, I recently decided that it was time to try something new, which brought me to finally wanting to give Wix a fair try. And wow...

Where have I been all these years? The more I use Wix, the more impressed I become. Not only does the platform offer a ton of different content widgets to use, but the design tools are extremely flexible — far more flexible than anything I've experienced with other platforms. Naturally, this recently discovered excitement of mine cannot be ignored. That's where "Project Wix" comes in.

I'm not exactly ready to discuss details just yet, but I am making it a primary goal of mine in 2018 to create a Wix resources website that can help fellow creators build quality websites, grow their brands, and gain the kind of exposure they deserve.

Of course, "Project Wix" will tie in directly with my Wix affiliation, so I am looking to make this a win-win for everyone involved. I will share details as they surface in time.

Scaling Back on YouTube

Wait, what's this? Shouldn't a goal involve growing and not the opposite? Yes, of course, but there comes a time in your workload where you need to step back and look at everything you have going on. Sometimes certain projects can take up too much of your time and interfere with other work you could be getting done. For me lately, this could not be further from the truth.

As of this week, I am indeed scaling back on the amount of YouTube content I publish. I have come to the conclusion that I need more time in the day to get other things done. This is especially true with my website related work. I take a lot of pride in creating websites and exploring different marketing techniques. In order for me to grow in those areas, YouTube is going to have to take a back seat — but only on certain days.

In no way is my YouTube content going anywhere. The vlogs will continue to be published on their usual days, along with the occasional tech review or unboxing going live randomly throughout the week. Going this route also gives me more time to actually plan videos that represent higher production value. I am by no means looking to become an expert, but I'm definitely interested in seeing what my creativity is capable of.

And Everything Else...

Moving forward, those are my primary goals for 2018. Obviously this doesn't include everything that I would like to accomplish this year, but I think it's a solid start. As a self-employed content creator, you can never tell what the future holds. That's one of my favorite things that comes with the territory of content creation. I am free to do what I choose.

Now that I've told you about my goals, what are some things that you would like to accomplish for the new year? Feel free to make a list in the comments below. Your goals could help inspire others to better themselves.

Here's to another great year of original content!

A YouTube Holiday 2017

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and you know what that means. It's time to go all in for the Christmas season! Like previous years, I would love to have the community come together and create yet another collaboration video. This is our annual chance to make something to be proud of and look back on for years to come. After all, isn't that what the holidays are about? It's important to preserve memories.

Getting featured in the collaboration is easy! All you need to do is record a short video of yourself (preferably less than 60 seconds in length) talking about one of the following:

  • A favorite holiday memory that's important to you
  • Something you would like to accomplish in 2018
  • One gift you are hoping for this holiday

As always, consistency is important. When recording your video, please keep the following in mind:

  • Videos recorded in portrait orientation will not be accepted
  • No background music is allowed, as I will be providing the soundtrack
  • Try to record in a quiet, distraction-free environment
  • 720p video is the minimum resolution, but 1080p is recommended
  • Do not include titles, lower-thirds or text of any kind

Once your clip is recorded, upload it to Dropbox (sign up for free here) and provide your download URL in the form below. If you need help with this, please feel free to ask. You can also last year's video to get an idea to expect from the final video.

Best of luck, everyone! I can't wait to see what you come up with.

IMPORTANT: All videos must be submitted by Wednesday, December 20.

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Why I Decided to Redesign My Patreon Website

There comes a time in every website's life cycle where it could use a fresh coat of paint and possibly a shift in focus as to what's most important for the user. This could not have been more true for my Patreon website, which just launched earlier this year. I knew from the beginning that version 1.0 of the website was going to be a little rough in spots. After all, this was my first time creating a website focused solely around my Patreon campaign. It was new territory for me.

Fast-forward five months later and it was time for a change. The website was beginning to feel overly crowded and the layout lacked creativity in direction. So, what's new? And more importantly, why?

Exclusive vlogs are everything

Going to my new Patreon website, you will notice right away that users can conveniently access the newest exclusive vlogs from the homepage. I decided to go this direction because the vlogs are what seem to draw the most attention to my Patreon campaign. When I announced the vlogs a while back, I had no idea the kind of impact they would have.

Because of the vlogs' popularity, I naturally made the decision to feature them in the forefront. This decision alone will hopefully entice new patrons to jump onboard and begin enjoying the exclusive content that I publish weekly.

Grid all the things

Organization of content is always a top priority for me, which is why I decided to keep the grid in mind when coming up with a new layout. Most of the content is now organized in a grid-like fashion, which definitely plays well with responsiveness — particularly when browsing the website on mobile.

Creating around the grid has also allowed me to completely rethink the Patrons Showcase. Patrons' links of choice are now tightly constrained, allowing for more information to be displayed in and around a particular content module.

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Patreon changed, so I also changed

Not too long ago, Patreon decided to completely rebrand their logo, colors, etc. Learn more here. My initial reaction wasn't exactly the most positive, but like anything in the world, I learned to accept the change and move on with life. And now? Well, I like it a lot — particularly the colors.

Of course, such a change called for refinements on my end. With Patreon's new brand guidelines in mind, I had to rethink the color scheme and how to best use it. Browsing the website, you should get a nice feel of the colors that are used throughout.

And finally, call-to-action

This change required me to upgrade my Squarespace hosting, but I am hoping the expense is worth it in the end. Once a user has been on the new Patreon website for a specific amount of time, a small pop-up banner will appear towards the bottom. The banner simply promotes the benefits of becoming a patron, all while not getting in the way.

At the time of this writing, the banner mentions the exclusive vlogs. But of course, this can be changed to anything in the future. Having the flexility to adjust it over time is certainly nice.

And there you have it. My new Patreon website is officially live. Please feel free to explore and find anything that may require feedback. You are always free to contact me here.

A huge thank-you goes out to all the patrons who make this possible!

An Open Letter to Squarespace

A long time ago in an Internet far, far away...

There was once a time when I could proudly call myself a Squarespace affiliate. I would casually mention Squarespace in my YouTube videos and describe how their services could benefit creatives like myself. Whether you're a full time blogger or you sell handcrafted items online, Squarespace has always been my go-to recommendation for anyone who is looking to create a website.

Actually, I should back up a bit. What is Squarespace, exactly? And why am I writing an open letter addressed to them? This is something I rarely do (if ever), so surely it must be important.

Squarespace, in my own words, is a premium website builder that is perfect for creatives who are looking for a clean, easy-to-use interface, but still want plenty of flexibility and control. I have been an avid fan of Squarespace for years, and have since built a variety of websites — for not only myself but numerous clients.

As you can see, I have been a happy Squarespace customer for years. I've seen the platform grow and mature since version 5. The platform has allowed me to express my creativity on the kind of level that I thoroughly enjoy. I cannot say the same about other platforms. WordPress is just one example. It's a solid platform, but I don't find myself having fun while working. After all, as a self-employed individual, I'm entitled to a bit of fun now and then. Right?

Alright, enough of the Squarespace praise. What's with the open letter? What am I trying to accomplish here? I promise, I have my reasons. And I just hope Squarespace comes across this.

A while ago, Squarespace made a tough decision that involved all kinds of significant changes to its affiliate program. Without going into details, let me just give you the Cliff notes.

Around two years ago, they basically cut out all the little guys and shifted focus toward the big players — including professional podcasters and popular YouTubers. As a small business owner, I understand changes like this need to be made. They can't be easy. And in reality, it makes perfect sense. Why waste time and resources on smaller affiliates when there are bigger fish in the sea? Squarespace, I don't blame you. You're in business to build a solid customer base, which in turn generates revenue. I get it.

Is such a change really necessary? I can't help but wonder how much of a negative impact someone like myself can truly have. I'm a Squarespace addict. Why wouldn't you want me promoting your services? I'm always doing it anyway, despite having an affiliate link that appears to still work. Try it for yourself.

Do you want to know something funny? And ironic at the same time? While composing this post, I had a viewer email me asking about hosting services. Naturally, I'm going to recommend Squarespace — regardless of my affiliate status.

See what I mean? All I want out of this open letter is Squarespace's attention. And maybe, just maybe, they'll consider allowing me back into the affiliate program. I cannot promise the kind of numbers you are used to seeing from the big guys, but I can assure you one thing... I have a passion, and I will do whatever it takes to turn that passion into sales.

Between my interactive YouTube videos, informational articles on Di Franco University, and an email list consisting of 1,700+ subscribers, I am confident in getting the word out about Squarespace.

After all, it's easiest to sell something that you already care about. Is it not? And besides, Wix (one of Squarespace's top competitors) recently reached out to me in regards to forming a partnership. Quite frankly, I'm not really that interested. I want to work with you, Squarespace — not Wix.

If anyone at Squarespace happens to read this, I want to thank you for your time. I am by no means begging. Okay, maybe a little. But really, I love what you're doing and I don't see that changing any time soon. And finally, before you ask, yes — I have reached out via email. Unfortunately, that hasn't been much help. At least I'm trying.

Forever a Squarespace customer,

David Di Franco