Web Network overhaul [late July 2022]

I used to *still* be renewing some of my domains through HostGator still (because those jerks won’t let me transfer them, and now their system’s so broken that the ability to renew the domains no longer exists in any functional form.)

So the reality here is that many of my domain names will be expiring over the next few months.

New (replacement) domain names will be announced here later but for now I’m keeping the new names quiet until they’re successfully registered. Keep in mind though that some of the core domains remain, including HornbostelProductions.com, HornbostelVideos.com, and TriumphantArtists.com. Those three I can guarantee will not change.

As far as the web network in general, I intend to redesign pretty much every single site in it over the next month. I’m already starting that process with what will be the replacement for RedeemerDocumentary.com, RedeemerChurch3d.com [domain acquired, site not all there yet]. This site will now be focused less on any history I had with that or other churches, and more on the 3d reconstruction project related to the church structure.

HornbostelVideos.com will be reworked with WordPress and will look a lot more YouTube-y with a far more modular layout that will make it simpler for me to integrate new video content there periodically over time.

Many of my domains will soon face other changes as well – more consistent and faster-loading banner ad code for example, integrated into [nearly] every page of the network with only a few exceptions. I’m well aware that despite all odds, some of my sites, this one included, are in the top 2 million most visited on the entire internet, according to the likes of Alexa, and should [in theory] be generating a few dollars/day per site, just by existing, and having a few ad slots on them. And as much as I dislike that, I’ll be going along with it, though I will try to minimize the disruptiveness of such ads. No pop-ups or pop-unders, just an embedded banner here and there. If this succeeds to any reasonable extent, it might be key to making the likes of HornbostelVideos.com viable. I have a plan in place for releasing almost my entire past video library there, and that plan should finally be live later this month [here’s hoping, anyway]

Other key updates? Etsy has stabilized nicely, and the shop there continues to gain ground with over 80 positive reviews, and I’ll be posting a few new paintings and other things there soon even though it’s obvious that the affordable printing services are mostly what is successful there. Itch.IO is starting to boom but the July 4th promo did not have the viral impact I hoped it would – I had $25 worth of gift cards ready to hand out and… people didn’t do what was needed to claim them. All the same, the core campaign did draw a few hundred people to the shop and resulted in a small number of sales. So hopefully, things will continue to grow there, and I do have three ratings/reviews there now so the shop is developing a positive reputation finally instead of the ‘no reputation at all’ it had for years. I’m still trying to get a list of things out there by end of summer, including two new VFX packs and a texture collection, more 3d assets, maybe even a game or two if things go smoothly enough.

My sister Katie is running a Kickstarter and I edited the video promoting it for her. You can check that out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/debutworshipalbum/debut-worship-album-and-music-video

February 2020, updates

Some of you may have noticed a problem with my eBay shop lately. Things are taking longer to deliver. Orders do, in some cases, take weeks to fulfill.

That has much to do with my bare-bones financial condition. I’ve made a lot of artworks and am shipping them as soon as I can, but even so the delays continue to escalate as some customers have requested and been given, refunds. Note that even in these cases I still will fulfill their orders, it’s kind of important to me even if it makes zero difference to eBay, but… the last two weeks I’ve been scraping through huge piles of sub-minimum wage tasks in an aim to finish shipping all delayed orders. My losses [all factors considered] on eBay in the past 40 days are in excess of $70 which makes me a rather godawful excuse for a business person but maybe not a truly horrendous ‘person’ person?

I’ve been doing a ton of stuff on mTurk and other places, every gig I can grab, at $2-3 per hour, including low-end tasks I’d normally not touch, in an effort to stabilize things and resolve complaints from customers, complaints that have piled up badly.

You need to know that I’m working on it, working very hard to shovel my way out of the broken mess I’m now stuck in. Much of that low wage work’s already done, I do see some delays/lag as likely though as the tasks are still being approved and shifted out to a usable form of money. But I’ve earned $10+ daily doing that and it seems to be piling up faster than the refunds are going out. So sending refunds *and* shipping all of the ordered items, should be viable in the next week at most.

Upsides: my Itch.IO profile has seen a gradual climb in sales even despite total absence of reviews from buyers there. Even comments here and there would be enormously impactful FYI, the only feedback I have ever gotten was a comment on one Itch stock-media pack that said the collection was a great deal. Which explains why that one pack is accounting for about 60% of all my sales on Itch!

Also, I’ve made a second sale on Etsy, so it seems that is going well and I’m posting three new artworks soon, later than I’d aimed to, but still… they will be posted.

Here’s the item that was sold. I’m still posting more and more art there as time passes. I expect the total number of available listed items to be around 25 by the end of February:

Likewise, I’m nearly done setting up an overhauled version of TriumphantArtists.com and will switch everything over to the new web design in another day or so. It’s better in terms of navigation, clean style, and flexible [responsive] formatting. The pages, in general, load faster too!

As usual though, don’t expect the changes to necessarily show up in your browser without hitting refresh. My advice, go to the main page at TriumphantArtists.com next week, hit refresh, and, err, feel refreshed I guess by how the site looks after that point? I expect the switch over will be in effect by Feb. 15 and may become visible worldwide over the following 48 hrs. so some cool things should result from that.

“Pirate video” – I’m making a little video short for the nephews’ birthday, putting an hour or so a day into that on top of everything else. It includes some pretty awesome VFX shots. That’s just another reminder of what I can do with videos and visual effects!

sea battle – pirates in pittsburgh suburbs. .GIF loop.

Ships sailing in a pond, during a storm.

Final note – I know everybody’s so, so tired of waiting for something to happen with Miniature Multiverse. I have completed the first part of the game’s design, 100%, with other sections of the game in varying stages of completion. Now I’ve opted to release a ‘partial version’ with the later areas all stripped out temporarily, and post that as a downloadable on Itch.IO with added sections posted every two months afterwards as long as it is still selling (if it sells much at all really, which given the nature of indie game dev, is unclear.) So that is the first fifth of the game which will be posted on Feb. 24th, along with the corresponding sections of the making-of PDF for ‘Extras’ buyers. So yeah, a lot is going on right now. I’m working every waking hour on something creative or earnings related [or both] lately and wouldn’t have things be any other way.

September 2019 updates

 

So… the things I said I intended to do, in my last post, are happening.

-eBay stock media DVDs, are being sold and some are being auctioned right now along with a lot of other amazing deals intended to draw attention to the store I have there.

https://www.ebay.com/usr/mtthornb

-the two new stock 3d asset packs I promised were in development, are finally available on itch.io.

https://matthornb.itch.io

But – and this is a key thing – I could still really use support to get Miniature Multiverse done soon.

And no, I haven’t yet resumed my efforts on Etsy, but at some point I will. The video ‘Freeway’ is complete, and the new House Trek is in production. I am currently working on a systemic overhaul of nearly all my websites with OpenElement and if some things occasionally seem a bit more defective than usual in next few weeks it is probable they’ll be fixed soon, but as usual you would be well advised to refresh any pages that seem broken or massively out of date. If a page is soon gone entirely, removed, the content is probably just redesigned with a new organizational structure and filename, it is NOT gone. Try refreshing or returning to the domain root, then refreshing. And if that fails, try again a few hours later or a few days later. This should work in 99+% of problem cases.  Seriously, it will all be better in many ways (visually, navigationally… in performance and responsiveness terms too) once this transition process is over and the data is all restructured and redesigned.

Right now I am pursuing a lot of work on Amazon’s mTurk and it doesn’t pay well, but it might be enough to cover the remaining miniature supplies and some other costs, by mid October. But again, if you want to help get that moving ahead faster, try buying something from the above shops, or backing me on Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/matthornb (or Ko-fi – https://ko-fi.com/matthornb  –    if you only want to commit to a small one off payment) or, maybe hiring me via the HornbostelProductions shop. I am not merely offering made to order personalized art in numerous forms, I am now posting an option in which you could pay me to make a virtual tour / virtual world for you or for someone you care about, as a gift item. It is less expensive than you may expect; right now prices amount to roughly $2/ hr, so if you are choosing one of the more costly options it is still only around $28 to order a large, detailed realtime 3d world based on your creative visual ideas, and I can turn it around in a week or so, and give you a playable Windows application at the end of that week. That is pretty cool!

Anyway, thank you all for staying around, I realize things have moved slowly but I am still trying, I have not given up. I think sooner or later something I am trying will work out and my network will take off. patreOnce that happens it’ll be pretty amazing.

 

Revised roadmap & a challenge for everyone

  1. I’ll be posting two new stock media packs [3d asset packs] on my Itch.IO page sometime soon, probably within the next 5-10 days. These are the ‘Forests & Flowers’ and ‘Snow & Sand’ packs that I’ve been working on. They’ll be $1.10 each except during sales or in bundle pricing situations.
  2. I’m trying to update some websites a bit more, I’ve already overhauled MiniatureMultiverse.com somewhat, and TriumphantArtists.com should see a few small fixes & updates soon as well, along with minor improvements across some of my other websites.
  3. I’m actively ordering a bunch of additional art supplies, shipping supplies, and DVDs/DVD cases. Why? I intend to launch all the Itch.IO content together as a singular $14.99 DVD product on eBay and here as well. I also intend to make a new batch of artworks and sell those too.  As in, giant 24″x36″ size artworks, big, beautiful pieces with prices starting around $23.99.
  4. All this stuff going on will coincide with a staggering mix of ad campaigns that should draw in thousands of people and generate crazy levels of traffic from March 15 – April 15. The total cost is estimated at $45, or $1.50 spent on the campaign per day.
  5. I have some fan art stuff going on, behind schedule, but it is happening nonetheless. I also have some updates on RedeemerDocumentary.com heading in soon; you’ll see more content relating to the virtual church building tour which is nearing completion. I am also digitally reconstructing my old house in Houston, TX, and between all the various examples piling up, of my ability to realistically reconstruct architectural spaces, well… I’ll be posting a sale item here which essentially allows for people to hire me to make a made-to-order 3d level/tour for them in Unity.
  6. All the [still unposted] House Trek videos are going to be posted on HornbostelVideos.com shortly, except for the making-of stuff, and the animated DVD menus. And that’s just part of what’ll be posted. Watch for a PDF ebook, and also a printed paper equivalent, that showcases essentially all my work, with an emphasis on the creative process and what I’ve learned by doing all the stuff I’ve done [relating to game development, video production, handmade art, etc] it’s an insightful history summing up the last two decades of my life and it has hundreds of pics – giving you an inside look at a lot of things only friends and family know about so far, massive piles of interesting stuff the internet in general, currently has no idea exists. And no, not a puff piece, I very clearly and bluntly describe my mistakes and errors in judgement, and offer useful advice on solving common issues, that’ll make creative efforts hopefully easier for you than things have been for me.
  7. All of this sale stuff being launched, the artworks and other items, the book, stock media packs/DVDs, and the month-long ad campaign… it’s all a gambit to secure funding to do all the stuff I’m hoping to do by year’s end. I have three videos to shoot, about a dozen to actually finish, plus game content, including Vivid Minigolf v2, and Miniature Multiverse, those two in particular are challenging insofar as they each still have unresolved costs of over $250, in miniature materials alone. And then tack on the $450+ goals in funding between the three videos I’d like to record, plus all the other stuff involved… yeah, basically I hope this plays out well. If I don’t have close to $1k earned by end of Spring 2019, it means a lot of the goals for summer and fall of this year will fall through. And, quite bluntly, if you’re as tired of the slow rate of progress around here as I am, I’m pretty much begging you to buy something of mine, because if sales volume across my web network climbs high enough, and the percentage of visitors who transition to buyers climbs from a current level of 0.0135% to 5%, that’d change almost everything around here! (I seriously have thousands of visitors – around 2500 – every week, across my various websites and shops, and yet the majority of weeks nothing is actually sold anywhere on my network.)

Website updates – using Google Fonts and other methods to improve loading times.

I’ll be implementing Google Fonts on my websites, beginning with TriumphantArtists.com, as text links, with images behind them – as opposed to using images *as* the links.  You know those buttons at the top of every page on TriumphantArtists.com?

They all look the same except for the text, and if I separate the text from the rest of the image I can use just one button image as the base for every link, thus shaving a few hundred kilobytes off the page load times.

This – and other similar optimizations – are important because they can improve bounce rates.  There are some people who visit the site for the first time, on slow connections, and immediately leave when it takes more than a second or two to load.  That’s a problem!

I’m also going to compress the main page video further too, making it a bit smaller in size.  The more I can make things load faster while still looking nice, the better!