I am proud to announce that I have signed on Lisa Sabin-Wilson of E.Webscapes as a major client. In doing so, I am finally launching my career as a full-time, self-employed web designer and developer. That’s the long and short of it. For the details, keep reading.
If you had told me twelve years ago, when I was senior in college, that I would one day start my own business as a web professional, I would’ve laughed. I was finishing my biology degree. I was going to move to the States, work and save money for a few years and get into medical school. I was going to get my money’s worth and be a damned good physician.
Then, life threw me a couple of curve balls and I had to reassess. I can’t get into details, but it took a few months for me to get over things and around Christmas of 2001, my mom got me my first computer. My very own. And she also paid for a cable internet subscription. That’s when I discovered this glorious thing called the Internet.
That’s when I also rekindled a passion that I forgot I had. Our family business back in the day was in printing. I had plenty of books related to page layout, graphic design and typography. I knew how to go beyond making things look good on a page, but also to have aesthetics work towards effective communication. I learned HTML and CSS in the pioneering years and the focus on semantics resonated with me.
I learned to make webpages. Nice ones. And then, when I started running into issues of scalability and management, I had come across such blogging programs as Grey Matter and Movable Type. And I ran into this lightweight, easy to configure program called b2. Then b2 got forked into WordPress, and I found a platform on which I can make awesome sites.
I worked on this part time for years, and didn’t really get into networking and marketing my skills until around 2009 when I attended my first WordCamp. It was Mid-Atlantic, and was organized by Aaron Brazell. That’s when I started to introduce myself to a vibrant community of developers, designers, and other people who have made a career out of WordPress.
That’s when I discovered the gap in skills that I needed to close. But more importantly: that’s when I learned that this is what I want to do in life. So I hit the books, learned by doing, and eventually mustered the confidence to speak at WordCamps.
I felt myself grow. Issues that used to be problematic became easier to solve. I learned to solve problems that I hadn’t dreamed of solving.
I didn’t do it alone. I had made friends with developers and designers who are more skilled than I. And beyond asking them to do my work for me, I asked them to point me in the right direction. Then I did the research and I did the work. Every project taught me something new.
I wouldn’t have had the business and sales skills to confidently venture into this without the years of work that I did, not doing web work. I worked at Best Buy, I worked at a cadaver lab with incorrigible co-workers, and I am leaving my employer of four and a half years for whom I’ve sold, five days a week, eight hours a day. Sales teaches you about people. I recommend time in sales to anyone who wants to enter into a creative profession, whether it’s through self-employment or with an employer. It will teach you a lot about yourself and the people around you. It will teach you the responsibility that comes with the ability to convince people to trade money for value.
And now, I’m here. I’m an associate designer for E.Webscapes, which means majority of my client work will be for the agency’s clients. I also have the freedom to continue nurturing existing clients and to find my own (with certain limitations, of course). I am embarking on a few professional projects with other web developers, and I will be applying my skills towards making awesome sites and making awesome products. This is not just a job, and this is not just my career. This is my way life.
I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do this, without the confidence of so many people more skilled than I. The words of encouragement have helped alleviate my insecurities. The real talk from those who’ve been in the business longer than I has kept me grounded. When I started the whisper campaign about this career switch, all my developer and designer friends congratulated me. They all showed they believed in me. And it helped me believe in myself. I’m not afraid of disappointing anyone, but at the same time, I want to show my colleagues that their confidence in me is well placed.
I’ve been told, that if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. Believe me: I’m fucking scared. But there’s no turning back. I’m excited. I’m downright giddy. This is really happening.
I trust everyone who’s told me water isn’t just fine. It’s fucking great.
It’s time to jump.