When I started Genderfork a year and a half ago, I made a deal with myself: I would only attempt to keep it alive if I could keep maintenance work down to an hour or two, once or twice a month. Even that would be a lot for me, but I figured I could commit to it for a few months and see what happened.
WordPress has a nifty little feature that lets you determine in advance the date and time a blog post should go live. Flickr has a nifty little feature that lets you blog photos directly from a photographer’s photostream to a WordPress blog (as long as that photographer has given strangers permission to blog their photos). Some other brilliant creature in the world wrote a script that turns Flickr-to-Wordpress blog posts into drafts instead of live posts. Between the three of these free gifts from the web, I was able to set up a photo-a-day website where I had legal permission to blog other people’s photos and could maintain it with, literally, 2-4 hours a month of work. I could ignore the entire project for weeks on end, even though it was still blogging daily.
When I put it that way, it sounds a bit like I didn’t love the project, but the opposite is true. This was the only possible way the project could have survived. If it had required more than that from me, it would have gone the way of all my other unrequited time-consuming projects and ended up in a large long tupperware container under my bed. I’ve learned that once something goes into that bin of lost loves, it never comes out.
The other day, as I was waddling back through San Francisco still carrying luggage from my impulsive trip to Portland, I ended up on a street car next to Emchy, the founder of Queer Open Mic. I excitedly told her that just this week, I had enlisted some more organizing help for the event, and now the project was much more self-sustaining. I buzzed about how our new venue, Modern Times Bookstore, has a widely-read email list and calendar, and that they’ve been doing most of our marketing for us without any effort on our part, and packing the show every time.
Still bouncing, I went on to tell her that Genderfork is now run by a team of ten volunteers, and that the team manages the blog content themselves. All I need to do is some really high-level editing that only takes a few hours a month — I’m back to my original time commitment, only now the website now has four times as much content and an audience of thousands!
She smiled and said, “You’re good at that. Making things big and awesome.”
I chuckled. “No, I’m good at making things that can live without me. Whenever something needs me, it dies.”