It has been pretty noisy here at Max Out of Pocket. After all the hammering, sawing, and painting I think the new look is just about finalized.
So as we tell our patients when installing a new multi-million dollar electronic medical record systems that turns clinical operations completely upside down, please excuse our digital dust. I sometimes wonder how much the corporate marketing director that originally came up with that one gets paid per year.
Max OOP Gets A New Hobby
Max OOP has struggled a bit with the ‘technical’ side of blogging. Well, maybe it’s been more than a struggle. Once I figured out I actually couldn’t blog on DreamHost (since that was just hosting my domain) I signed up for WordPress. It took me about an hour to understand the difference between a “page” and a “post”. Probably took me two days to get my contact form to work. Widgets, plugins, and themes just aren’t my thing, but I am slowly coming around.
So when I started the blog back in February, I took the path of least resistance and chose the first theme I saw that looked like some of the blogs I used to read. I guess I didn’t realize picking a theme called “Twenty Eleven” just might look a bit dated considering we are well into 2019. Anyway, I went ahead and started writing and never looked back.
Barrier To Entry
There were a few nontechnical barriers to entry. Max OOP always thought blogging was pretty questionable. I think I always put it in the “hey look at me” social media bucket where I see a lot of inaction. There are a few facebook groups dedicated to healthcare cost, but it seems more like a place to go and complain and point fingers than actually take steps in understanding or improving our healthcare system. The blog world on the other hand (at least in the early retirement, personal finance, and financial independence space), seems to have small groups of people actually taking action and changing things for themselves and sharing it with others. The blog part is just a mechanism for documentation and sharing. That is the direction I want to take Max Out of Pocket, but more on that another day.
So, since Max OOP was a little embarrassed about his new blogging hobby, I didn’t tell my wife about it for about a month or two in fear I would be relentlessly made fun of. Yeah, she is cruel like that.
When I finally told Mrs. Max OOP about the blog a few months in she was extremely supportive. After the laughing subsided, she quickly moved on to make some improvements to the site. She has a knack for that sort of thing. New to WordPress herself, she reviewed several themes with the only direction from me being that I wanted it to look more sleek and modern while also keeping it simple. A few Sundays back, I went off to my $39/month gym and when I got home, she had a few new themes for me to look at. The very first one she showed me was exactly what I was looking for. We installed it and have been playing with it ever since. One area of the blog I enjoy is assigning photos to the posts. This theme does a good job of highlighting Max OOP’s photography skills. I actually didn’t take the photo of the medical office, but considering I own part of the building I just went ahead and borrowed it from the quarterly investor update slides.
I find if you actually carve some time out to work on something specific related to the website design, between Google and WordPress your Average Joe Max can usually figure it out. Once you do figure it out, there is a nice shot of dopamine to celebrate your accomplishment. Max OOP usually throws in a drink or two to add to the celebration.
I decided my number one priority after my first Max Out of Pocket post was to get my contact form set up. I mean after all, with content like that, there was no time to waste since the whole world was going to want to get in touch with me to help solve our healthcare financial crisis. No hits on the form to date, but I did just re-verify it is still working.
The contact form required a plugin. When I download plugins, I usually assume it is a virus that will ultimately shut down the Max Out Of Pocket website, set my computer on fire, and derail my questionable blogging career. That hasn’t happened yet, but I did come up with a sniff test I use before installing plugins. Basically, if the plugin has over 100,000 downloads, it passes my criteria. So we have some pretty rigorous vetting processes here as Max Out of Pocket. If I wanted to install a simple piece of software at my corporate cube, it would have to go through a 6-month vetting process and get it tested by 3-4 information systems committees before ultimately being approved by the corporate “IS Governance” committee. By then, you usually don’t even need the software you originally requested. Max Out of Pocket is small, so we don’t have a governance committee dedicated to information systems; we just have the sniff test.
So I downloaded a plugin called “Contact Form 7”. I am not sure, with a name like “Contact Form 7”, how this plugin ever made it off the shelf but with over 5 million downloads it certainly passed the Max OOP sniff test. I installed it, and it didn’t work. I recall trying for quite some time trying to link my contact form to a maxoutofpocket Gmail address but I just couldn’t get there. I spent several hours working on this and trying to get Gmail to approve or recognize my site as “safe”. In the end, I found that DreamHost has its own webmail that came with the website that isn’t as strict as Gmail so I went that route.
Evidently, I also needed to download a plugin called “WP Mail SMTP” to get “Contact Form 7” to work. “WP Mail SMTP” had over a million downloads, so it passed the sniff test. At one point I had some pretty decent notes on what the “WP Mail SMTP” plugin was actually doing, but my Macbook Pro died at some point along the way so I lost those notes. For now, I will just say it is doing something ‘behind the scenes’ to make my “Contact Form 7” talk to my email.
So that’s basically where I am with the website design. I have a theme and a contact form. Oh, and an archives page I am pretty proud of and a few other plugins I installed in the background. I am also working on a page (not to be confused with a post) that will be dedicated to tracking the Healthcare REIT experiment as we move forward with that project. That is scheduled for release soon once it makes it through my editing committee. Joking, that would be Mrs. Max OOP’S responsibility. We are operating on a shoestring budget here at Max Out of Pocket.
I have found blogging has a relatively low barrier to entry, but there are some hurdles you need to get through to get a website set up like you want it. There is an advantage to getting your theme selected early in the blogging process. We found the way I set up some of my earlier posts didn’t play well with my new theme. I have learned a lot these last few months and have been enjoying the blog. I have a whole new appreciation for the blogging world. So nice work everyone!
Max Out of Pocket to start the blog = $119.40 for DreamHost Fees that should get me through the year.