Requiem for a side project, quitting AwesomeGIFs

I ran a site called AwesomeGIFs, and eventually left it. RIP.

AwesomeGIFs Site
AwesomeGIFs Site

A feeling came over me in 2009 when GeoCities was shutting down: ‘I don’t want all those GIFs to somehow disappear! They’re magic.’ So I made a home for them, and in the span of a few short weeks, AwesomeGIFs was born.

Powered by the humble WordPress, it operated like so many blogs of its time, publishing new GIFs each day. I loved those misfit GIFs so much — they turned out to be so much more fun than I’d ever imagine, and it warmed me to see so many people take to them like they did.

AwesomeGIFs hit several highlights in its time. It became a go-to for Reddit users, a constant feature with StumbleUpon, and a powerhouse for search rankings. It paid my car payment and could float my business needs. It even got an app! Perhaps the biggest achievement: people knew and loved my project. I would meet new people, the site would come up in conversation, and they’d tell me a variation on how happy it made them. It would make my heart sing every single time. AwesomeGIFs was rewarding in every way you’d want a side project to be.

It was beset with several challenges, namely when my hosting company disabled my entire account without notice for being too popular. Since I hosted AwesomeGIFs on the same server along with my business and personal sites, I was gonna flip if they did it again. They did, incidentally.

There was also a fun time where I moved my image hosting to Amazon S3. It was blazing fast and my host stopped complaining, but I ended up with a massive bill, so I had to find other options. I finally settled in Digital Ocean’s happy waters, where the site currently lives.

Ultimately, the site and I grew apart. I thought of trying new things with it, but found my interest going in other directions. This continued while the site remained neglected. Some things began to fail on my server and I wasn’t able to fix it on my own, and so my happiness with the project began to wane.

Giving myself permission to quit #

I read a post on The Pastry Box on No More Forever Projects that helped give form to some of my feelings, specifically one that gave me permission to quit projects. One particuarly liberating quote:

“The half-life of obligation is short; the half-life of guilt is long”

It’s true. The guilt I felt for neglecting a side project pricked me with little knives every so often, so I knew I had to do something. I decided to sit on it for a few months and come back to it to see if there was anything left for me here. There wasn’t, turns out.

So, I’m officially letting AwesomeGIFs go. It’ll live on for a while so folks can continue to enjoy the GIFs, but I’m focusing on other things. Maybe someone will want to pick up the torch. I won’t say the site won’t ever be resurrected, but I’m finished updating it. I want to move onto other things without worrying about this one.

I’ve learned that my future projects should start with an end in mind, or at least a time to reevaluate if I want to continue going. It feels so freeing to not commit to something in perpetuity.

We had a great run together, AwesomeGIFs, and I hope all my side projects can be as wonderful as you were. Thanks.

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