Business Partnership Begins
GS grew and grew. It seemed to have a life of its own. I'd never trained as a web developer and knew little about coding or servers. I wasn't confident that I could continue to run it in my spare time.
So in September 2003, Standen proposed we sell advertising and turn our hobby into a business. He offered me a 50/50 share. I didn't warm to the idea immediately. Unlike Jules who enjoyed the prestige of a popular site to boost his profile, for me, the forum was hard work. Though I enjoyed technology and messing around with machines, being responsible for its uptime 24/7/365 meant I would not be able to tour. As income from my music meant going on the road, my career would have to be put on hold.
Julian promised that as soon as the business made enough money to hire staff, I could eventually wind down my involvement and just be around to oversee the site as the technical director. Then I could return to touring and be rewarded with an ongoing share of the business for life.
The proposition sounded attractive. Years earlier I promised my Mom I would quit music if I hadn't made a solid living before I got old. GS seemed a way to both keep the promise to my poor worried mother and still be a musician.
But my other skepticism was Standen's track record for spending more than he earned. As a young couple back in our mid-twenties we fought constantly over money. Standen had a habit of living beyond his means - only to borrow money from me every month. This was despite the fact he earned more than me and had wealthy parents. I didn't see this would make for a solid business foundation.
So I created a solution where I would get 1/3 of gross profit minus only technical expenses (which I controlled). That way Jules could spend lavishly on travel, PR, and promotion (which he loved to do) without affecting my split. This would effectively make my share worth about 50% and stop us from fighting. We opened a joint bank account where the splits and only technical expenses can be seen in the statements. All travel and PR expenses came from Julian's share.
I taught myself every technical aspect of the business from running the servers, installing ad rotation software, updating the databases, creating chatrooms, replicating Mysql, applying modifications, battling dos attacks, security, design of graphics, creating & printing brochures. I had to learn PHP, MYSQL, and command-line Linux. Aside from the Vbulletin software, everything we used was open source or self-coded.
In the absence of proper technical training, I flew by the seat of my pants and simply learned how to do everything as I went along. This kept me on edge with things like software updates, dos attacks, and replication. There was no time for any learning curve, I just had to do it if we wanted a forum.
After years as the singer and frontwoman in bands, I was happy to work behind the scenes for a change and allow Jules to be the Gearslutz figurehead. It was a welcome relief from the music biz where all eyes and pressure were upon me.