Can’t code, won’t code, DONT CODE!

Just to clear up some confusion there are two of us writing this blog, Al who can code and myself who, well can’t!  So far the blog has been quite positive, however we certainly don’t want to turn it into a ‘look at us’ and ‘it’s so easy’ type of thing. Personally I have made my fair share of mistakes along the way, usually because I had no idea what I was doing, so for your enjoyment today I think I’ll cover some of those hurtful lessons.

When I started the tattoo site in 2002 with my brother we bought a CD of flash art from Ebay for 4.99 and I took all the images and spent hours reducing them down so they’d be suitable for web use ~ remember everyone was on 56k modems a few years ago! I then put up a forum and created a private area where the thousands of images could be viewed for which we sold access. I was naive and in my head the price people paid was towards the hours I had spent on reducing the images and for access and hosting. We did quite well selling access at $19.95 and was getting 1 to 2 members  a day sign up.

Then I got a rather threatening email from the copyright holder of a lot of the images we were using, Cherry Creek who quite rightly threatened legal action. I actually exchanged a few emails with him and he did consider letting us use the images as we were not selling flash, more access to an library for inspiration, however he ultimately declined and I removed all our library of flash and learned that just because you buy some CD or zip of images that does not entitle you to use them, especially for profit! Thankfully I now have a library of over 2000 images on my tattoo website submitted by their creators,

Lesson learned: Make sure you have the right to use images & text, copyright remains with the creator unless expressly passed across, this would not be included when buying thousands of images of ebay for 4.99 you crazy fool!

With my new library growing and my rate my tattoo area growing rapidly I wanted to tweak the code a little to adjust the layout a bit, the script I was using was made for me using rentacoder and cost $100, I am familiar with asp/html a tiny bit by trial and error but I don’t know what I am doing. As I didn’t have a good contact for coding I decided that rather than submit it as a new job and mess around I could probably adjust the site myself to what I needed, which I did successfully!

The new layout was better and looked good and I was a happy boy, for a day.
The next morning my host pulled the website down, it was on a shared hosting account and was using up more than its fair share of system resources. Turns out I had messed the code up so that connections were not being closed, oops, even though it looked fine from my point of view I messed it up so that the whole server was suffering, I then had to find a coder to repair my damage and go through the whole script checking for errors before the host would allow the site to go back up. The site was down for around 2 and a half days and cost me a few hundred in the process, incidentally the coder only cost $50 so my tinkering certainly cost me money.

Lesson learned: If you can’t code DONT CODE, its cheaper in the long run to get someone to do it properly.

Live by the sword, die by the sword
I used a few of the link networks along the way like DP COOP & Link Vault which were tremendous tools for gaining backlinks to the sites with anchor text and I earned a lot of money from using them effectively, I did however use them poorly early on and managed to get my main site banned from yahoo. Yahoo confirmed a penalty had been applied to the website and for almost a year the site was not in Yahoo’s index, even though I stopped using the link gaining methods a lot of the backlinks showed up for some time to come and it took ages and a few attempts to get the site back into Yahoo’s index. Google no doubt are the main worry and I didn’t suffer there as I learned quickly, however I was getting around 500 visitors per day from Yahoo and that stopped for over a year, not funny.

Lesson Learned: If your going to dabbled with unnatural linking then be prepared to suffer the consequences when your found out and risk having the site removed from the search engine.

I think that’s enough for today, my wings are like a shield of ……paper!
The point being that it was a natural learning curve for me, I did make many mistakes but I also learned quickly from them and advanced without letting them stop me or dishearten me, I think we all like hearing stories about how we mess up at times, it assures us that when we do it we are not alone, perfectly human, still, I never should have touched that coding that was just stupid, I’d be happy to hear anyone else’s mistakes, share the pain!

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.


  1. We had to fork out £1000 compensation for a stolen image last month. Not nice at all.

  2. Ouch! yep I was obviously dumb and lucky to just get a cease/desist, using one image is so easy to do but with expensive consequences, a good warning to others though.

  3. I’ve done that too, one of my writers used a copyrighted image and for some daft reason removed the copyright from the image, it never cost me money but I got slagged off all over the place.

    I’ve also made my fair share of coding errors, one classic being when I wrote software to decode the value of cheques (checks) I managed to decode a 100,000.00 euro cheque as 10 million which the tax payer wasn’t very happy about 🙂

  4. Thank God someone’s writing about why people shouldn’t code (rather than How You Can Make Your Own Content Management System With PHP).

    While it’s not my personal experience, amateur-coded websites are a terrible idea. From the ugliness of the FrontPage sites that abounded before the days of blogs, to the million and one “user logins” with security holes, it is just plain worthwhile to have an actual coder do a decent job.

    It is fortunate that the rise of WordPress, MySpace and friends have encouraged people to use these applications that are built by programmers, rather than cobbling together their own attempt.

    Furthermore, coders wanting to work on your projects are everywhere. But how do you find reliable ones?

  5. I’ve had a couple of hiccups!

    Lesson 1 - Backup, especially before dabbling with coding!

    Lesson 2 - Get a reliable host, i had a host pull a site and never even told me, did not offer an explanation and would’nt give me a copy of the latest backup.

  6. Hmm databases, I left that one out Ash, that’s another story altogether.

  7. Good article.

    The copyright issue has haunted me ever since I got marked down heavily for posting MP3s on a high school personal web page project!

    And you’re right about coding - so many people who graduated from my IT course were trial and error coders (including me!). One huge early mistake was launching a client’s website with a broken Flash menu. whoops.

    All these mistakes are definitely necessary though to help keep improving

  8. What about images of cool gadgets on the cool gadgets blog?

    Ever been in trouble for those, or are the companies all happy for their product images to whizz around the globe?

  9. Companies are generally happy for the publicity so don’t mind the images being used, if you ask them they;ll often send you high def or different images also.

Leave a Reply