It's becoming clear that the only way forward for me professionally is to strike-out on my own.
The most obvious choice in this direction is consulting, and I've tried easing-into that a few times but it's never really worked out. I don't have the option to make a switch from a full-time employer to working as an independent consultant, and when I've tried to make the move gradually (picking up consulting hours in addition to my full-time job) the work suffers. I'm not sure what makes this different from my personal projects, but when I try to do work for others in addition to working full-time, I'm not at my best.
So I think the right choice is to start something of my own. I've written about this in the past, the idea of taking one of my projects and developing it as a product that could at least theoretically grow to the point where it could replace my full-time work for others. The last time I wrote about this I was excited by the story of Pinboard and how it's creator has been able to make a living as the sole member of the company. The project of mine with the most potential for this appeared to be Preposer.us .
Since then I've been thinking about various scenarios for making a living working on Preposter.us, and it occurred to me that I've been thinking about it's applications too narrowly. I think of Preposer.us as a blogging platform (really just blogging software ; why does everything have to be a platform ?), but with the functionality I've added over the years it turns out to be a nice little media publishing system.
With the addition of podcast support, Preposter.us became (as far as I know) the worlds easiest way to publish a podcast, and it has been able to publish other media (audio, video, images, etc.) almost since the beginning. When I look at Preposter.us this way, it's easy to see how with some improvements it might be the simplest way to publish anything with the least amount of technological resistance and from any device capable of sending an email.
So now imagine a Preposter.us that uses the same email-based publishing mechanism, and provides the same simple blogging features as before, but provides better presentation for other media (for example, it's easy to imagine providing a nice grid-based layout when an email containing nothing but images is received). In addition to publishing these things on a nicely formatted web page, it's also published as a podcast automatically.
Since rss/podcast feeds are automatically generated for both each individual user as well as an aggregate for the entire site, authors work is cross- promoted via this global podcast. Taking this a step further, additional feeds could be split-out for audio podcasts, video podcasts or sub-category (tag- based feeds, etc.). Clients could even be created to consume these feeds (for example, a Roku channel where you can watch the global feed like a television channel).
All of this is possible while not only maintaining the simplicity of Preposter.us's implementation and scalability. Not to get carried away, but one could imagine how such a system might provide an alternative for authors/artists/photographers/filmmakers/etc. who are not well served by existing options; people who want as little resistance as possible in publishing their work, and who would benefit from having their work shared alongside other creators without the interference of "platforms", monetization systems, etc.
I have a lot more thoughts on this but I'm going to need more time to get them organized. There's a fair amount of work to do, but I think it's granular enough for me to manage alongside my dayjob, and the motivation as both a producer and a consumer should be strong enough to keep me going.