The internet is a weirder place than any of us are willing to freely admit. Sure, there are cat memes and other crazy, sometimes disturbing happenings throughout the web, but it is also weird for other reasons.
Some of my clients are aware I work with Joe Valley of The Design Valley and Empowered Papa. Joe and I met serendipitously through the comment feed of a Alex Bloomberg (formerly of This American Life) talk on writing well, creating content, and hosting a strong interview. It was a pretty fascinating talk, a lot of us were commenting, and we finally all put up our professional websites to share with one another.
Joe reached out.
That’s kind of the fantastic thing about Joe. He reaches out. He emails. He listens. He reads. In fact, I think he’s probably read every non-sense thing I’ve sent him since our first encounter.
So, for me, that left an impression. Then I realized he was a feminist and a humanist in the most sincere ways possible. He primarily works with Dula’s and Midwives (I had been on a pretty serious “Call the Midwife” kick when he and I first started speaking, so this totally jumped out at me.) He got what I meant when I started talking about how society needs to shift their focus on how to market through the internet. That we need to really push for folks to see the internet as an opportunity to make the community connections that it has been a part of tearing apart over the last couple decades. He is 100% on the same page as far as taking back the internet.
We talked. I checked out his business. We understood one another.
Then I had a client who wanted to change web hosting platforms. In fact, I have a load of clients who don’t want to deal with the current big business web hosting culture that currently exists on platforms like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, and Blue Host (to name but a few.) I don’t blame them at all. So, I emailed Joe.
Joe and his team host websites. But, they don’t just host websites. Joe clearly cares very deeply about every single site, and the integrity that accompanies his name.
Let’s fast forward a little bit to now. This is where the internet is a weird place. Because, even when you are working with a person or company that promises you an amount of support, assurance, and accountability, the internet is a much more fallible place than people are willing to admit.
Here’s a real life example to help put things in a bit of perspective:
Pretend (or don’t pretend because like me, this is completely accurate) you rent your apartment/condo/house/home. A disaster occurs. Could be a flood, or a group of roving bandits set your trash on fire. But not only do you rent, everyone on your block rents from the same person. And it’s the time of day that you wouldn’t even notice a flood or roving bandits because you’re at work or out to eat. But the person you rent for notices, and he and his crew dash from home to home, putting out fires, lifting electronic equipment off floors before they are soaked with water. They work tirelessly. They breath.
The bandits return. In fact, this time, it is a Viking hoard, dead set on burning down THE PLACE YOU LIVE. And you’re still out, not around to notice it. But your landlord puts up fences, puts out more fires, dashes from one place to another, all the while worrying, going over in his head how do I prevent this from happening again….
None of this is cheap for your landlord. In fact, he does more research and either:
a. Could leave things as they are, and half-hope the Vikings will not return. He might get a kettle of oil ready, but he’s seen their tenacity, and is pretty sure they won’t be too discouraged.
b. Admit that the status quo, a system that he knew for a long time to work, just isn’t going to cut it anymore. And he has options, but those options aren’t free, but they aren’t break-the-bank expensive either. He knows he’ll need to put in a fair amount of his own money, and STILL need to charge you more to set up a system where you don’t need to worry about your house being flooded or burned down by Vikings.
That landlord, who has called you/emailed you at every turn, kept you updated, been upfront and honest, physically saved your things from unexpected predators and natural disasters, now has to ask you to pay more so he can keep the promise of a system that he knows in his heart to be save in secure. Plus he has kids, a wife, a life, a number of things that are not your home to worry about. Heck, his own home has been put in a sticky place.
What do you think of this guy? Do you see him as the hero who rallied his troops and worked overtime to keep up his promise, or some negligent landlord that always forgets to lock the gate? (Do you really think he forgot to lock the gate… twice??? I tend to doubt it.)
Now, let’s look back at the internet. Guess what, vikings, robots, natural disasters… trust me, all these things live on the internet. Every day they get smarter and smarter, and don’t really care all that much whose apple cart they overturn. They don’t care if you are with GoDaddy or a Private Server. They are still going to pillage the hell out of your website.
What happened to the landlord in my story, that’s been happening to Joe. Bots have ruthlessly attacked his server multiple times in a very short period. He has worked with his team tirelessly. He has had to raise his prices, although I can actually hear the pain in his voice when I’m on the phone with me. He has been explaining things about the internet to me that he’s just learning, that I didn’t ever start to think about until recently. I was just as naïve as anyone else.
So…. why do I still trust and recommend Joe Valley as my go-to private hosting platform? (I’d like to interject now to be clear that, I don’t make a dime off Joe hosting for clients of mine. I don’t see any of that money, which doesn’t bother me, because it would be exactly the same with any big name hosting company, except I don’t have their personal cell phone numbers.)
Because Joe cares. Because Joe has not missed a single, irrelevant email or phone call since this whole mess started. He hasn’t cut me off when I bounce ideas off him. Because Joe himself has sent out an email blast practically every day now with updates to all his clients. He’s admitted where he just didn’t know better, where greater experts than him have advised, and he’s followed.
I trust Joe because I know if a crew of Vikings came to burn down my website, he would not only fight them, but build a BETTER wall, a BIGGER moat, and hire MORE knights, a knight for every house in fact, to make sure that those Viking never messed with his clients again.
If you’re one of his clients, reading this, considering whether you really want to renew or back out (Joe has given folks that option, bless him,) think about that bigger moat, and the guy you’re working with. This is a guy who stays accountable. He’s going to respond to your emails and answer your calls, and explain every piece he needs to explain. And he’s going to be honest when he realizes that the cost of doing business just changed. Trust that he wasn’t a big fan of making that call.
And if you’re looking for a good web host, or customize WordPress theme designer, you can get at him here: http://www.joevalley.com/
P.S. I stole that image of Joe saving a child from vicious viking from his website. I can only assume there were vikings involved. See how gentle he is, despite the impending danger? I know, very impressive, I would not be able to keep my cool when faced by a Viking hoard, shirtless. But hey, I’m not Joe.