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  1. #1
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    Best U.S. City or region for a Web Development firm to establish itself

    I have been studying website design for the past year and have taken many
    classes, seminars, etc. As background on myself, I've built six e-commerce sites,
    but am probably beginning-intermediate level for technical skills. On the business side,
    I have extensive experience from past consulting and tech ventures.
    Now, I'm gearing up to really begin building my web development firm.

    I have an MSCS and did technical work for 15 years, then branched off
    into the business side of things. I am coming back to this because I
    enjoy the work, specifically the hybrid technical/business nature of this business.
    I don't want to hand all the technical work off to someone else, as I'll be doing a lot of it myself.
    But there will be a lot of subcontracting too, and eventually technical employees.

    What I'm wondering is, what would be the best U.S. metropolitan area
    to base myself, in order to attract the most consistent steady flow of clients,
    assuming I execute my business competently? Being recently divorced,
    I have the flexibility to relocate to any major U.S. city. I am in the midwest
    (KC area) temporarily and am getting some project work here, but am
    wondering where the most demand is, and how the competitive situation
    shapes up for web design and programming firms around the U.S.

    My target market is small to medium size businesses and I'm interested
    in developing a substantial client base and building it up to a small
    staff over a several-year period.

    I lived in the SF Bay Area for 15 years, but there is so much technical talent there.
    Isn't the competitive environment really tough? Presently, I'm looking at Phoenix,
    New York City, Miami/Ft Lauderdale, Las Vegas, et cetera, but am open to
    suggestions on any other cities that may be ideal.

    Any insights you can share would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

    -steve
    <put link in signature please>
    Last edited by ses5909; Jul 25, 2006 at 06:35.

  2. #2
    Resident Grump BillyParadise's Avatar
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    Hmmm.

    Off the top of my head, I'd say that there are 2 types of web developers here. Those who take on projects worldwide, and compete based on either reputation or price. And then there are developers who work within their local business community to get the business. Sure, there's some crossover.

    If you want to be a category a) developer, then move somewhere cheap. If you want to be a category b) developer, move somewhere where the competition is lower. Or, why move at all... I'm sure you have more business contacts where you are currently.

    BP
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  3. #3
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    As Billy said, in situation A) move to a town that is growing. for example, I live in the fastest growing city in Georgia and I really wish I wasn't moving!

    B) It really is based on your reputation. Do good work and people will come. It does work.
    Sara

  4. #4
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    thanks for the replies. yes, I will be marketing to the local business
    community, versus competing in the global/online market for
    website services, at least during the first 1-2 years of operation.
    So the question pertains to marketing services that way - in
    the local phonebook, localized online search services, traditional
    networking activities, etc.

    any further insights, observations, or tire-kicking are appreciated

    -steve

  5. #5
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    You should think about joining some local networking groups. There should be some small business groups as well as technology groups. When ther are activities, make sure you attend them! Join listserv's for the industries you cover, etc.
    Sara

  6. #6
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    When it comes to markets, I have learned the hard way that I do best in markets that I understand, know well, and like. Anyways, it shouldn't JUST be about money - if you are going to do business, do it somewhere where you want to be.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

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  7. #7
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    ses5909, yep I have been looking into that. I found a technical (PHP) group that meets monthly, and have been to a couple of business groups. And
    I've placed a small "test ad" in the yellow pages. But I'm looking to get situated in my new locale before getting too heavily into those sorts of things.

    sagewing, yep of course - all of the locations i listed, I'm highly enthused
    about. I was Bay Area for 15 years, am just in the midwest temporarily.
    instead of moving back to Northern CA, I'm looking at picking my new location
    based (partially) upon local business conditions for web development firms. AND being in a great/fun place to live too, of course.

    thanks again

    -steve

  8. #8

  9. #9
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Hey Dark Tranquility,
    Why did you list Montana? I've been looking to get away from the metros and thought maybe I could buy a log cabin next to the Yellowstone River and just hook up my business via satellite JK. However, I do want to buy a vacation home there....any ideas?

    Sbell,
    I say move to a city in the Midwest. I recently spent 2 weeks in Milwaukee to visit family and did a small Google Adwords test to see if any businesses would bite for webdevelopment. Got over 8 inquiries--not bad. I also noticed very little competition in the area. Anyways, pick a place that you want to live and do it.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    skunker, great idea re: the small Google Adwords test. After thinking about that, I started one tonight for where I'm at now. Will do the same thing later for some other potential destinations.

    -steve

  11. #11
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    sbell,
    Great, let me know how it goes. You need to be sure that you write your ads effectively. Since I had been doing this for a while, I was easily able to write effective ads for Milwaukee. It may take a bit of practice, but it's not that hard and won't take too long to master. Do not gauge 8 inquiries as the benchmark. If you can get 1-2 clients a month that pay you $2K each, then that's better than 8 little sites for $100 each.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    beley's Avatar
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    I think you should go where there's a market, but also where you would really like to live/work and where you know people. If you're a serious networker, you can get things started up in any city but it really helps to have contacts. In many smaller, growing cities, it's hard to get up and going because a lot of vendors already have built relationships. You're going in as "the new guy" and no one knows you.

    We're thinking of relocating in the next few years and I'm looking to two areas where I have clients and friends living. That way, I at least have a few associates there that can kick start the networking.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Come on down to Texas. I need the help

  14. #14
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    That's not a bad idea Skunker... what would be ideal for me is to find some web developer who's a) really an "ace" already, and b) needs an apprentice/understudy for 3-6 months. That would be ideal.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    re: the AdWords, I thought I knew enough already... I've been running Yahoo (Overture) PPC's. On the Google AdWords, I just used the common "web design" words, and set the Geography to the state I'm in, with a $1/click max and a $100/mo budget. Did I miss something big there?

    Also, it's been running for ~24 hours but nothing is showing up on their reporting yet,
    for impressions or clicks.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Member sbell22's Avatar
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    think I have the adwords configured correctly aug 1 (4 days ago)... quotes around my phrases, name of the city in the phrase; auto-optimize. But nothing has shown up after 4 days... maybe stuck in the Google manual approval process?


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