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  1. #26
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    I started as web profession and will continue with same.....life becomes easier once everything is set after years and also after gaining lots of experience from same area......

  2. #27
    I hate Spammers mobyme's Avatar
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    I cannot claim to have made a complete career change, but I did add another string to my bow very late in life when I started my Web Design Studio. I think the biggest problem with people who start a "Web Design" or "Web application" business is that they somehow think that people are going to beat a path to their door. It does not matter how good you think you are this business is no different than any other kind of business; you have to have business plan, know how to market yourself and finally how to sell yourself. Once you have got all of that in place you must deliver the goods and they must be faultless otherwise you are always starting from scratch; when what you should be doing is building your customer base. I cannot over emphasise this last point enough; each happy satisfied customer is the equivalent of having another salesman on the road. Just my thoughts and if you do decide to go for it; I wish you all the luck in the world and hope it works out for you.
    There are three kinds of men:
    The ones that learn by reading.
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    The rest of us have to pee on the electric fence.

  3. #28
    SitePoint Member SacredSpaces's Avatar
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    How does one find a "great" web designer...

    You create your own reality. Focus on what you love doing... at 20 and at 100. Now, is always a great time to reinvent yourself. Go for it, webatomic!

    So, DC...


    Quote Originally Posted by dc dalton View Post
    1. 90% of the clients don't know the difference between a GOOD web designer and a hack!

    2. 90% of the people out there looking for web sites are driven by price and price alone!
    I really want to know -- for multiple reasons -- how does one tell who the great web designers are (not the flash and dash junque that is hard to read and search)? How does one find excellence?

    And, what if bargain-basement prices weren't always the concern?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by SacredSpaces; Aug 4, 2007 at 13:10. Reason: adding text

    A journey of a thousand miles
    begins with a single step.
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  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by dc dalton View Post
    I 'evolved' just over 2 years ago when I sold my 'web design' company, dcddesigns ... I saw what was happening and got out while the getting was good. I now ONLY do web applications (and yes there is a major difference). I also sold my web hosting company, dcd hosting last fall because I saw what was happening to the hosting business (they are giving it away now)... you HAVE to keep on top of your game and on top of your marketplace or sooner or later the phones will stop ringing and then it's too late!
    Well I probably should have gotten out of the hosting business a few years back, but sometimes it's hard to "evolve" when you've had a certain measure of success at something and are reluctant to let it go, but eventually enough is enough. The thing that has appealed to me in terms of pursuing web design (and I am really using that term generically as I realize I'd need to learn some "development" as well - Flash, PHP, Javascript etc.), is that it seems like a skill that is highly flexible and portable. In other words, I can pursue a job with an outside company working on site design/development, not to mention other related web jobs that require some knowledge of HTML and scripting languages, or I can pursue some type of position with a web design/development firm, and/or I can freelance. And yes, while I'll be competing with every 15 year old bozo with a pirated copy of Dreamweaver and Photoshop, ultimately I would hope that my experience in the hosting business and familiarity with online marketing and such will give me a leg up and that ultimately my portfolio of work would justify my getting referrals and more business. Also, there seems to be no shortage of companies large and small looking for web designers/developers on a daily basis, so maybe the sheer volume of work available offsets the sheer volume of hacks trying to get hired? (maybe that's wishful thinking...) And finally, it seems to me that having web design/development skills can only be helpful even if I end up pursuing some other type of work. These days just about every business needs someone who can at the very least keep the company website updated, so if it's my resume against someone else's without those skills, that could be the tipping point.

  5. #30
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    My career change started in my early thirties when I started dabbling in web design (I was a television director in my "real" job). Fortunately I discovered that I could make my own websites and monetise them instead of working for other people. It's a much longer, harder road than just starting a web design business but the rewards are much greater IMO.

    My first websites were launched around 1997. I got sidetracked with one particular site from 2000-2005 that turned out to be a dog, so I count that period as years lost but experience gained. Since 2005 I've been building my more successful websites. For the last couple of years I've only needed to work my real job a couple of days a week. Last week I handed in my notice completely and as of September 2007 I will be effectively retired, living off the passive income from my websites. I'm 41.

    I say go for it if you want a career change, but do consider all the options carefully. You don't necessarily need to make a new job for yourself - you can work towards passive income.

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave owen View Post
    My career change started in my early thirties when I started dabbling in web design (I was a television director in my "real" job). Fortunately I discovered that I could make my own websites and monetise them instead of working for other people. It's a much longer, harder road than just starting a web design business but the rewards are much greater IMO.

    My first websites were launched around 1997. I got sidetracked with one particular site from 2000-2005 that turned out to be a dog, so I count that period as years lost but experience gained. Since 2005 I've been building my more successful websites. For the last couple of years I've only needed to work my real job a couple of days a week. Last week I handed in my notice completely and as of September 2007 I will be effectively retired, living off the passive income from my websites. I'm 41.

    I say go for it if you want a career change, but do consider all the options carefully. You don't necessarily need to make a new job for yourself - you can work towards passive income.
    Passive income sounds good . What do you mean when you say you could make your own websites and "monetize" them?

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by webatomic
    What do you mean when you say you could make your own websites and "monetize" them?
    In my case I put ads on them. I use Adsense and a few other affiliate programs. I also have donation options, and in the past I've got money via paid subscriptions. Have a look at www.mediacollege.com (my biggest earner) to see how it works. I make tutorials and other content, then people come and read the content and see the ads.

    In short, visitors=money. Make a website, promote it and get enough visitors and you've got an income. Converting the visitors into money is the easy part, the hard part is getting the visitor numbers. It's like any other task in this world though - you just need to learn what the steps are and then implement them.

    Sitepoint's Advertising Sales & Affiliate Programs forum is a good place to get more information.
    Last edited by dave owen; Aug 4, 2007 at 18:37. Reason: typo

  8. #33
    SitePoint Enthusiast Adelante's Avatar
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    This is a great thread and it terrific to hear so many stories on "keychanges" (should I claim this term?) I'm also in the same age bracket and left a good job as a product and marketing manager to do something for myself. I established a marketing / web development business, I've had many challenges but all in all a wonderful experience in self development.

    Most of my self training in web development has come from the wonderful range of sitepoint books, and the great resources available in the many forums that are online.

    Good luck and best wishes.

  9. #34
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    Wow i'm 22 and i feel i'm already too late to learn animation .. lol ..
    You guys just given me some light and inspirations to upgrade myself further ..

  10. #35
    I Love Licorice silver trophybronze trophy Datura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by newater View Post
    Wow i'm 22 and i feel i'm already too late to learn animation .. lol ..
    You guys just given me some light and inspirations to upgrade myself further ..
    You have barely scratched the surface of your life. Learning should never end, you are never finished with it. It should actually be a goal in your life to never stop learning.
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  11. #36
    SitePoint Zealot Mitochondrion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by newater View Post
    Wow i'm 22 and i feel i'm already too late to learn animation .. lol ..
    You guys just given me some light and inspirations to upgrade myself further ..
    Success is possible but only at the cost of tremendous sacrifice. The difference between the creative/new media market of today and of 1997 is that back then people could get places with little or no sacrifice. That's why the field was generating so much excitement back then with people abandoning their old-fashioned careers and learning Java because having basic Java exposure on the resume would get them an instant job.

    Robert Zemeckis, the director of Back to the Future movies started his directing career at your age. What followed was a decade of starvation. I mean the guy would take money from his mom to buy groceries. He didn't achieve any directing success until he was in his early 30s.

    Are you ready for something like Zemeckis' experience? If not, do something like nursing or police academy or heating and air conditioning where all you have to do is get a certificate/license and what follows is pretty much on the job training. You get paid as you learn and you can get paid handsomely. Your financial future will be assured; you'll have a practical trade straight out of school and you'll be in demand unlike most of your animation buddies. You'll have money for clothes, girlfriends and toys while most of your animation colleagues will have nothing. There is no on the job training in animation. If your animation employer realizes you need more training you will be terminated and replaced. Tough choices to be made indeed.

  12. #37
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    I made the change from Manufacturing Engineering to Web Development at 41. Here's a couple of words of wisdom:

    1. Outsourcing - The skills you can buy for cheap, buy them. Pay some guy in South American to do directory submissions at $0.14 each or pay a guy $20 in Sri Lanka for a logo design that you might spend a day on yourself. Take care of the most valuable things yourself, don't do it all.

    2. The Best Customer - You are your own best customer. Build your own site and make money from it. Blog about something you like, do some ecommerce related to your interests, etc.

    3. Fire Customers - Some customers will not be worth their trouble. Fire them (refer them to a competitor ) as soon as you can.
    SalaryMap.com - Your salary on the map
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  13. #38
    Non-Member Phoebe_'s Avatar
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    As long as you have guts,you can change everything with your career. I'm 21 and didn't know yet how to make good money.. but I think SEO will help me alot.

  14. #39
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    There is nothing bad in changing careers in the middle of your life as long as you are sure about it and have a complete view of the domain of interest that you are willing to join. Try to enjoy your work and success will surely come!

  15. #40
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    I'm 48 and I am looking to start a SaaS (Software as a service) business.

    I would not do contract web-design because, I think, there is just too much competition. I can't see where I could earn enough to earn a decent living.

    With SaaS, I can -theoretically- sell the same work an unlimited number of times. The income -potential- is much greater. The risk is high, not only could I not earn any money, but the longer I'm away from a real job, the more difficult it is to get a real job - especially at my age. Also, it's difficult to convince people that I'm actually working. Well meaning friends, and family, have the attitude: "when are you going to stop fooling around and get a real job?"

    Although I plan to eventually hire others to do most of the technical work, I want to make sure I thoroughly understand the technology. So I'm trying to learn as much web-dev stuff as I can.

    Since I've worked as a software developer and/or system admin for the last 27 years, I figured that learning web-dev would be fairly easy for me - it isn't. I am making decent progress, but it's going slower than I'd hoped.

  16. #41
    SitePoint Addict irkyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dc dalton View Post
    HEY! What's this 'later in life crap!' Life just gets going at 40!

    I did exactly what you are talking about at 40 but I made an even more dramatic change. in 1999 I closed my auto repair shop. We got a 2nd mortgage on the house and I went back to school for 10 months to learn programing.

    I had had computer experience back in the 80s but it was doing CAD and wire frame modeling as a draftsman. I literally walked away from computers in 1991 and didn't even touch one again until 1999. I started taking on-line classes for Photoshop and HTML from ZDU (anyone remember them?) and had done some rinky dink sites but I wanted to 'play with the big kids' .. that's what lead to the decision to go back to school.

    Was it tough? You have NO idea. With a family and all the bills there were many a time where I was ready to give up. I even drove a truck 3 months out of the year to support us the rest of the year.

    Was it worth it? Yeah man! I have gone from the days of building $500 sites to what I am today with a lot of pain and persistence but I am damn proud of it and ANYONE that sticks with it can do it.

    But, with that said I have to question your idea of becoming a 'web designer'. Honestly, 'web designers' are a dime a dozen these days (and I don't mean that in a nasty way) and the money just isn't what it used to be. The web design market is flooded to the point of no return! Now with that said I would say if you are willing to study your butt off and become a web application developer you have a much better shot. Programming and being able to build the 'big kid sites' is where the money is at but you HAVE to be GOOD!

    When you are that good and people see it you can almost name your price. The customers that know what good is are willing to pay it!

    Good luck in whatever you decide but don't let this 'late in life' crap steer your decision cause it's total BS.

    Oh and for those that are just dying to know, I'll be 50 in January
    I admire about such people!!)) do what you think you should do and don't be afraid of "possible" troubles. if you really want to change your way of living you will manage it 100%!!!
    Good luck and thank you for your courage and freedom in thinking.

  17. #42
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    have you checked out freelanceswitch.com --> it's pretty good for what you are experiencing, i think. i am not affiliated with them.

    one distinct advantage you have by starting now, is the fact that standards have come a long way, and there is a wealth of info out there that teaches the new, better methods. you don't have to un-learn bad techniques and habits, which can be difficult!

    modern technique : separating 1)content 2)style 3)behaviour

    modern technique: accessible websites for people of all abilities

    you are lucky! you can combine your skills with wisdom - that is something that a lot of young designers may possibly lack, which gives you advantages. you must bring your past with you to the table, it makes you unique and valuable.

    keep the attitude positive, and try to always remember your goals if it gets a bit rough.

    good luck, enjoy your successes. don't let css make you go too crazy - it becomes easier. take a look into the yahoo UI - you get all of this stuff without the burden of having to unlearn a bunch of crap.

  18. #43
    SitePoint Wizard gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy dc dalton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SacredSpaces View Post
    You create your own reality. Focus on what you love doing... at 20 and at 100. Now, is always a great time to reinvent yourself. Go for it, webatomic!

    So, DC...

    I really want to know -- for multiple reasons -- how does one tell who the great web designers are (not the flash and dash junque that is hard to read and search)? How does one find excellence?

    And, what if bargain-basement prices weren't always the concern?

    Thanks.
    First off you are 100% correct when you say you create your own reality! Congrats to you!

    WAY too many people allow their fears and what 'society' tells them they should be to dictate their life and you know what?

    IT'S BULL!

    The best you can be is what you THINK you can be! It's all 'mind over matter', you don't mind (what people say) it DON'T MATTER

    Believe me when I say I have had hundreds of people say "Why don't you just 'get a job' and stop fighting so hard?"

    I get a funny smirk on my face when people say that for the simple fact that 'those' people don't get it! The joy of owning your own business is THE most satisfying thing I have ever experienced. Yes it also the MOST difficult thing I have ever done (and I've had 5+ different businesses) but the rewards are incredible!


    So now, what makes a GREAT designer?

    in my opinion it's someone that can weigh the advantages of a gfx opposed to a non gfx element. It's thinking "what's best for the customer and the user". It's not about "how cool can I be" it's about thinking what YOUR customer REALLY needs!

    If you look at my clients you will see I will ALWAYS think about usability over 'pretty pictures' ..... sorry I don't want to seem 'big headed' but my customer's success (as a business) overshadows my desire 'to make it cool' every time! THAT is a GREAT designer (again not trying to be pompous)

    Quote Originally Posted by webatomic View Post
    Well I probably should have gotten out of the hosting business a few years back, but sometimes it's hard to "evolve" when you've had a certain measure of success at something and are reluctant to let it go, but eventually enough is enough. The thing that has appealed to me in terms of pursuing web design (and I am really using that term generically as I realize I'd need to learn some "development" as well - Flash, PHP, Javascript etc.), is that it seems like a skill that is highly flexible and portable. In other words, I can pursue a job with an outside company working on site design/development, not to mention other related web jobs that require some knowledge of HTML and scripting languages, or I can pursue some type of position with a web design/development firm, and/or I can freelance. And yes, while I'll be competing with every 15 year old bozo with a pirated copy of Dreamweaver and Photoshop, ultimately I would hope that my experience in the hosting business and familiarity with online marketing and such will give me a leg up and that ultimately my portfolio of work would justify my getting referrals and more business. Also, there seems to be no shortage of companies large and small looking for web designers/developers on a daily basis, so maybe the sheer volume of work available offsets the sheer volume of hacks trying to get hired? (maybe that's wishful thinking...) And finally, it seems to me that having web design/development skills can only be helpful even if I end up pursuing some other type of work. These days just about every business needs someone who can at the very least keep the company website updated, so if it's my resume against someone else's without those skills, that could be the tipping point.
    Yeah I know, it's tough to evolve. People get comfortable in what they are doing but the fact of the matter is if you do NOT evolve (and see the evolution coming) you are bound to become a fossil!

    Life (excuse me for being deep) is about reinventing yourself on a daily basis! If you think for ONE day you are 'comfortable' you are behind the game! Now, that being said I also don't believe you should be paranoid but ALWAYS keep an 'eye' over your shoulder!

    Quote Originally Posted by irkyo View Post
    I admire about such people!!)) do what you think you should do and don't be afraid of "possible" troubles. if you really want to change your way of living you will manage it 100%!!!
    Good luck and thank you for your courage and freedom in thinking.
    Well THANK YOU for that!

    Yes I 'buck' the norm every stinking day but it's because I see what 'should be', not what people say 'needs to be'

    If anything is carved onto my tombstone it will be "he refused to accept anything at face value" and if that's my legacy I feel I have had a good life!

    Listen folks (and take it as you may) ... I have lived almost 50 years and more than anything else I have found that those who don't think they can CAN, those that allow society to tell them 'I can't' are doomed to failure ... for god's sake DO NOT listen to society! You are only as great as you think you are AND as pointed as your determination is! When they say you CAN'T, say 'WATCH ME' when they "you aren't talented enough" say WATCH ME and then make me proud and prove them wrong!

    Yes, I'm a (almost) 50 year old fart BUT I have learned the lessons many of you still have to learn and I REFUSE to bow down to society and become a 'cog in the machine' ...... don't you bow down either! YOU can be great if you are willing to allow yourself to believe it AND you are willing to work for it!

    It's funny, I get a wry smile on my face (and so does my wife) when someone tells me I can't do something. Seriously ..... tell me I CAN'T and I am driven like you had a whip on me .... I will prove you wrong or DIE. Don't EVER let anyone tell you you can't. Your boundaries are NOT set in stone! They are nothing more than hurdles in your life!

    You can be a great designer, developer or anything else if you believe and I don't give a rat's ^ss if you are 18 or 58, you ONLY have to set your mind to it, to be better than the next 'person' and the next thing you know you are there!

    BUT, that being said make DAMN sure you research the market you think you want to work in ..... without that all your efforts can be a waste of time!

  19. #44
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    I'm 31 years old and medically retired from the navy after 13 years of service this March. I don't have any words of wisdom as I'm just starting out myself. I find myself more engaged in web development than I ever was in flying aircraft mostly because this is far more difficult although the consequences of mistakes are much smaller

    I found this thread motivating enough to register and post. Even though I find myself struggling at times either from fear of where the next project will come from or frustration from a piece of code that makes my eyes burn, all of my buddies are jealous with the freedom and possibilities I have.

  20. #45
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    I agree with everyone that says "don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it".

    I've been in the biz a few years now, and I'm currently on my way to get my Java certification, and in the Java school I'm attending, there are several (95&#37 students who are middle-aged and decided to switch careers. The only things I see that could (or do) hinder them are:

    1) They don't take it seriously - They merely see it as a means to an end: i.e. generating more income. If money is your reason for this, you're doomed to fail from the outset. No amount of greed will overcome the hurdles in this business to "make it".

    2) They lack real passion - again, related to the fact they don't take it seriously, they aren't really into it. Simply treating it as another "class" or some generic course (like massage therapy ).

    Having real passion means you're always happy to learn new things, whether it's a new coding language, new syntax, or new techniques and trends in graphics. This industry always always changes. A few years ago, you would barely hear anyone talking about FLEX or AJAX or XSLT, unless they were REALLY into the industry. This isn't a job wherein you can walk into a class, learn HTML, and then have a job forever. In about a year or two, the kids out of school will run you over with their knowledge of all the new coding standards.

    3) They see it as something to do on the side - if this is what you're planning, you can FORGET IT. This industry moves so fast it's not even funny. All you have to do is sit on the side for a few months, and then when you come back, you suddenly have to play catch up all over again. My wife was pregnant during the a period of the CSS/AJAX revolution (dump all your tables, etc.), and after she gave birth, she had to spend a good amount of her time reading up and practicing CSS, AJAX, and IE hacks.


    What about the other students on the "better" side of the spectrum? These are the common qualities I noticed among them:

    1) They don't underestimate the work - They ALWAYS soak up all the info they can. They know that they're only touching the tip of the iceberg, so they're doing a lot of advanced reading and experimenting. They show up early and leave late.

    2) Real passion - every time they see something new and impressive, they automatically ask how it's done, then ask the person doing the demo to teach them, and while they're being taught, they make notes and ask questions. One of my school mates is a 45 year old dad of two, and after he learned XHTML and Javascript, he's been checking source codes of websites almost on reaction. Bless him.

    3) It's a real career to them - the first step in making people take what you do seriously is to take what you do seriously! My uncle (who is well over 50 and basically computer illiterate) needed a website done, and asked me to help him out. When we met, he actually said "is this what you do seriously or on the side?", so I basically sat him down and gave him a brief (although concise) lesson on how search engines work, website design, and basically pretty much everything I could fit in two hours about the web industry. He was floored!

    He now calls me his "smart nephew".


    Also, don't ever quit because of competition. That's absolutely stupid. There's competition in every industry. There are greats and there are... well... "those". The web industry is no different than any other business. You need to deliver quality, you need to know how to market yourself, and you need to know how to answer questions and/or deliver the services in a professional manner.

    Respect what you do, and people will respect you.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbarr60 View Post
    1. Outsourcing - The skills you can buy for cheap, buy them. Pay some guy in South American to do directory submissions at $0.14 each or pay a guy $20 in Sri Lanka for a logo design that you might spend a day on yourself. Take care of the most valuable things yourself, don't do it all.
    While I do happily encourage outsourcing (it helps a lot of people over here by providing jobs), you shouldn't be fooled by it. Although you may get lucky, a $20 logo intended for the US market done by a guy in Sri Lanka who has never been to the US can also be a disaster.

    IMO and experience - grunt work should always be outsourced (as you said, submissions for one), design and development shouldn't be undervalued, and selling / marketing is something that needs to be done by somebody locally or by yourself.

  22. #47
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    I have been doing full-time content for quite some time, but it's not what it used to be. I am thinking of changing into providing services rather than content to people.

  23. #48
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    I'm in my early thirties. When my son was born 3 years ago, I made the decision to stay home. I'd already played a little with XHTML and CSS and figured it was time to dive in and turn this developing skill into a means to work from home.
    So I set up a study schedule and now have a good set of skills under my belt. I am now getting contracts (sporadically, perhaps) mostly coding small php projects.
    The great thing about all of this, is that I am coming to it with a few other careers under my belt. I majored in Biology in school, and most recently worked in dentistry. I've done enough things in life to know what I like, how to manage my time (in theory) and to start narrowing down a sense of personal style, principles and professionalism.
    And the best thing is that I feel for the first time in my life (work-wise) like ME. I am learning everyday, and am able to put to turn a previously wasted aspect of my personality (linear thinking... geekiness ) into an integral strength.
    And I am in a field where I don't think I can ever run out of things to learn. I feel like a blithering moron much of the time, because there's so much uber-advanced stuff to poke my nose into, and yet I still have something useful to contribute to a number of consumers.
    And I get paid. Most of the time.
    It's beautiful.
    So I think it's a great thing coming into such a field a little later in life. (even though I sometimes wish I'd started 20 years ago, because I fear running out of time before I've learned "enough") Unlike some of my peers (with mommy brain, mind you) I don't feel like my brain is becoming a pile of mush, just because I'm flipping pages on the calendar.
    The only thing I can say from my own experience, that might be really helpful, is go for it. Don't be afraid to be who you are and do what you do. With age come (usually) boldness, confidence, wisdom/experience, discipline... all of which are an asset.

  24. #49
    SitePoint Member hostmeister's Avatar
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    Man this thread is dominated by a bunch of wannabe motivational speakers! Seriously though, this is great stuff....very inspiring and thought provoking.....
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  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by cereal_girl View Post
    I'm in my early thirties. When my son was born 3 years ago, I made the decision to stay home. I'd already played a little with XHTML and CSS and figured it was time to dive in and turn this developing skill into a means to work from home.
    So I set up a study schedule and now have a good set of skills under my belt. I am now getting contracts (sporadically, perhaps) mostly coding small php projects.
    The great thing about all of this, is that I am coming to it with a few other careers under my belt. I majored in Biology in school, and most recently worked in dentistry. I've done enough things in life to know what I like, how to manage my time (in theory) and to start narrowing down a sense of personal style, principles and professionalism.
    And the best thing is that I feel for the first time in my life (work-wise) like ME. I am learning everyday, and am able to put to turn a previously wasted aspect of my personality (linear thinking... geekiness ) into an integral strength.
    I like the idea of setting up a study schedule. I'm going to need some sort of secondary income (or let's call it temporary primary income), through either a part time job or some other means, but if I can set aside a block of time for training each day, then hopefully 3, 6, 9 months down the line I will have some discernible results and be able to see some real progress towards turning those skills into a source of income. Now I just gotta find that temporary primary income source.........


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