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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict NetNerd85's Avatar
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    Question Using your web skills for things other than clients

    Hey all,

    Not sure about all of you but I got into web development for the simple reason of wanting my own website. Then came the time in my life where people started to tell me that I need to earn a living ( took a number of years before I really listened ). The company my brother was working for at the time wanted a website and a company in the same building wanted one too and that's where it all began...

    Now, shy of 8 years doing web development in many different settings but generally all having the same common denominator - clients - I want out. I do not wish to work for clients. I want to work with the web but for myself.

    I am guessing a few of you out there don't work for clients. You work for yourself using your web skills. What do you do exactly? Have you always worked for yourself? Or did you work for clients and like me wanted out?
    a new day, a new beginning
    never follow the crowd, the crowd is poor!

  2. #2
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    Well, first thing is don't give up on your job. Keep getting clients in, and in your spare time start developing your own site, with content/products that people really want - make sure it has a way of getting revenue. That was my biggest mistake in this latest project, I didn't really build it around getting revenue, which is quite a shame to be honest.

    Build up content etc, but make sure you still bring in clients etc - all the time adding content to your site.

    That way you can start earning money from your site whilst still earning a salary. Get to the stage where you earn enough to stop using clients.

    You have two options.

    1) Quit your job and work solely on the site - make sure it's robust and that it won't fail after a big boom
    2) Sell it and, for a while, live off your earnings from that - make sure it's a damn good site first.

    That or become a contractor - get the clients in, separate the job into tasks, pay freelancers to do the separate tasks (design freelancers for design, programming freelancers for programming, copywrite freelancers for content, etc) and present it to your client.

    In the end you'll earn alot, and the freelancers would be happy too.

    Hell, you could even go ahead and start your own web development company.
    Jake Arkinstall
    "Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel;
    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict NetNerd85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arkinstall View Post
    That or become a contractor - get the clients in, separate the job into tasks, pay freelancers to do the separate tasks (design freelancers for design, programming freelancers for programming, copywrite freelancers for content, etc) and present it to your client.

    In the end you'll earn alot, and the freelancers would be happy too.

    Hell, you could even go ahead and start your own web development company.
    I have thought about this for a pretty long time, however it is still developing websites for clients. I don't wish to deal with clients to build them websites. As the topic says "Using your web skills for things other than clients", maybe there is something away from the computer.

    I need to think out side of the box
    a new day, a new beginning
    never follow the crowd, the crowd is poor!

  4. #4
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    I'm afraid Web-Skills are kinda limited to the computer industry.

    If you are used to real webdesign then you may have a good taste for layout and aesthetics - maybe you could give landscaping a go?

    If, like me, you're into site programming, I can't really suggest anything because it's so undiverse.

    The exact reason I won't take computer science in university.
    Jake Arkinstall
    "Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel;
    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  5. #5
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arkinstall View Post
    If you are used to real webdesign then you may have a good taste for layout and aesthetics - maybe you could give landscaping a go?
    High paid landscapers have a horticultural engineering degree or similar... crazy huh? It's less about a taste for layout and more about knowing hundreds of species of trees and plants so you know what can thrive in that geographic region, how they can be laid out so everything gets the sunlight and nutrients it needs, no one type of plants kill out others in a garden, etc.

    To the OP: I've been "living off the web" without clients for the past 5 years. These are my sources of income:

    1) Reselling advertising packages for ad networks. Ecommerce, in other words. I developed the site that does the selling, the ad campaigns to bring in the customers, the shopping cart that processes payments, the backend code that sets up the campaign on the ad networks via their APIs, and reporting code so customers can see the status of their order. Now it runs on autopilot except for order review to watch for fraud... 30-40 orders a day, half through unmanaged PPC advertising, half from affiliates paid a 20% commission.

    2) Selling subscriptions to web services. The primary one is W3Counter. Over 10,000 users so far, with about a 2% conversion rate to paying subscribers, which is double what I've seen quoted for many other freemium business model web applications.

    3) Building and selling digital products to sell, like WP Review Site and FeedLines. The significant cost is the build time up front, but then you just keep selling copies without having to do any more work.

    4) Content sites like Website Goodies that run advertising... which is where I started making money 12 years ago when I was 11. That was my first domain, originally registered in 1996. I also have affiliate sites, like the web host reviews in my signature, that bring in a few hundred a month in commissions. It's not the biggest source of revenue, and it's the most unstable.

    If you're thinking about where to start, I'd go with ecommerce. Find or create a product you can sell, build a store, and do some limited advertising (like a marketplace post). If it takes off, you know you have something to invest in, if you don't make any sales, find a different product. That's what I did, and ecommerce makes up the largest and most stable part of my income now.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict NetNerd85's Avatar
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    Thank you for the good information Dan

    When it comes to ecommerce have you read any good books / articles / blogs that have steered you in the right direction or has it all been experience?

    You said you developed the websites yourself but what about design and content do you do these yourself? Have you ever employed anyone to do work on a website for you?

    Have you ever built up a website for later sale?
    a new day, a new beginning
    never follow the crowd, the crowd is poor!

  7. #7
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    I've learned most of what I know from these forums, honestly. Spend 8 years reading 'em and you come across a lot of sites. I've found a couple good books (The E-Myth Revisited, The 4-Hour Workweek, Founders at Work) that were insightful but they all came recently, after I already created the sites.

    In terms of ecommerce specifically, trial and error... lots of testing (at minimum, learn to use Google Website Optimizer for split testing and Google Analytics for sales tracking by setting up "goals" for it to track). Since I'm a CS graduate with lots of programming experience, the actual matter of coding shopping carts and integrating payment gateway APIs wasn't that difficult. Developing effective fraud scrubbing code took years.

    I've never hired someone to work on a website for me. I have run two logo design contests at 99designs (formerly SitePoint Contests), which resulted in the logos for W3Counter and WP Review Site. I'm not good at design, so having a logo to start with helps me get started. I do the rest myself.

    I do occasionally make a website to sell on the marketplace here. It's usually less work to write a script for creating a certain type of website, and selling copies of the script, though.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict NetNerd85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Grossman View Post
    I've never hired someone to work on a website for me. I have run two logo design contests at 99designs (formerly SitePoint Contests), which resulted in the logos for W3Counter and WP Review Site. I'm not good at design, so having a logo to start with helps me get started. I do the rest myself.
    That is rather interesting that you have not out-sourced some work. Although I probably wouldn't do it until I started earning 100K+ from websites. I don't design either but I am good at "styling", the art of copying design elements and using the current colour scheme you have a great idea there of working from the design, very nice.

    Is it worth getting a CS degree if you are just working with the web?
    a new day, a new beginning
    never follow the crowd, the crowd is poor!

  9. #9
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    Definitely.

    Whilst I'm not interested in the educational side of computing (I find it monotonous), I can understand that it would definitely help your understanding significantly - if you know how it works, when to use what and why.

    Outsourcing isn't for me, and I doubt it's for Dan either. I'd trust my work much more than I'd trust others', and the prices I charge (and therefore would expect to pay) aren't worth it for me.

    If you have time but no budget, self working REALLY pays off.
    Jake Arkinstall
    "Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel;
    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona


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