October 3, 2005, that's when it all began. Back then I had no idea that this little pet project of mine would turn into something that would change my life fundamentally forever. Ghacks back then was my first blog. It was not my first Internet site, as I had been running a popular hacking related forum with a friend of mine for some years before that. The blog was something new, and I did create it for a number of reasons. First, to promote free software to do advanced Google searches, and second, to play around with blogs to learn all there is to know about them.
I'm not really sure why I applied for Google Adsense and added ads on the site, it was my first attempt at monetizing Internet sites and probably an experiment just like the blog itself. When I checked the account a few days later I noticed that on one day, the site made almost $100 after being online for just a few days. Another coincidence, as one of the articles got picked up on the then-popular website Digg. Thousands of visitors came to the site to read it which skyrocketed the earnings. It also got me kicked off Godaddy hosting, one of the unpleasant experiences of which several were to follow in later years.
Once I knew that I could earn money from a blog, I started to take the experiment serious. It took me about six months to realize that I could do this fulltime, and another six to convince myself to resign from my job and jump in at the deep end. It was a huge risk at that time, giving up a safe monthly income to become a fulltime blogger.
The what ifs kept me up at night in that time. What if someone hacks the site and deletes all data. What if Google kicks me out of Adsense. What if the site gets punished in the search engines. After a while though the questions became less frequent and I realized that everything ran smoothly along. There were a few bumps in the road, no question about that. Google banned the site from Adsense twice, but I managed to get it back after 1-2 weeks after making changes to comply with the program's terms of service. I also had to switch hosting twice only in that time, first from Godaddy to German company Hetzner - which offers great value - and then to a managed Wiredtree server in the US.
I met a lot of cool guys and girls along the road that helped me a lot. I'm trying to give some of that back to others who may be at a similar crossroad in life.
Looking back at those seven years, I have to say that this was the best decision that I have made in my life so far. Without further ado, happy birthday Ghacks. Lets hope this ride continues for the next 30 or so years to come ;)
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.