Out with the Old, In with the New
29 April 2012
It was a swelter of a day, 40 degrees in the shade. I was sitting in an apartment in Canberra, avoiding the dehydrating affair of watching my sister’s softball game. Bored, I decided it’d be a good idea to jump onto the hotel dial up and learn HTML – as you do.
That was 5 years ago now, I was 14. My first website was for the Northern Districts Lapidary Club. Simple layout, tables and dropdowns made by Macromedia Fireworks. The realisation that I could type something into a URL bar and a website I created would magically appear was incredible. I was hooked.
Websites became my hobby, and my hobby turned into a business. I’d charge a few hundred dollars for a site, and learn more code as I built it. I’d started to understand design, and got through the transition to CSS and tableless layouts.
About three years ago my business became more serious. I gave it the tag ’AuroraCoded’ and picked up some new, proper clients. I was working with a few local businesses, some other Australian and international freelancers and a few other web companies. A lot of the business came from freelancer sites like Rent-A-Coder. They were competitive but a great way to form connections with clients, some of whom I still work with today. Being in Australia and saying you work for people in America, the UK and France is damn cool.
Things grew quickly. I discovered WordPress and figured out the basic PHP I needed to know to build themes. I took on WordPress projects and started building websites using it as the core CMS.
Working with WordPress opened up a huge number of opportunities. For such a popular platform, there are very few web developers who specialise in it.
WordPress projects were very much the focus of my final year of school and first year of university. I was taking on larger jobs that included custom code and complex uses of the platform. Their scope didn’t stop at design and development, I was managing sites and expanding on existing development.
Halfway through 2011 I got a job at Websalad (a leading internet marketing agency) as a social media strategist. Internet marketing is something I’ve always been interested in, and being able to put these ideas into practice within an agency setting has been simply fantastic.
Since then I’ve been juggling university, my business (which continued to grow), convening a conference with UN Youth NSW, my work at Websalad and a social life.
That brings me to now, and the reason this blog exists instead of my old business website. Web development as an industry is changing. As a spec-based service it is so easily outsourced to places that can provide it at much lower cost. If quality is managed, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. It does mean that I need to stay a step ahead and move with the times. Effective internet marketing is no longer just a website, it is an integrated, coordinated online campaign across a range of platforms.
When it comes to standalone services, internet marketing has superceded web development.
Personally, I think this is so exciting. When you’ve been building websites for 5 years you become fluent with the languages you write in. HTML5 and CSS3 have now changed that, but I’ve reached a point where I need to learn new languages in order for me to keep building my skillset. That would be fine if development wasn’t becoming an outsourced commodity. But it is, and we need to accept that.
So, as of today I’m shifting my focus. I want to focus my energy on creating amazing internet marketing strategies and training materials. I’m staying close to WordPress, and am not chucking anything away. I still am taking on clients, but only to a limited extent.
With the time I’ve created I’m working on two exciting projects: a training eBook and strategy product. I’ve also created this blog so I can share my thoughts on technology, strategy, WordPress and all the new things I learn developing these products. That’ll include code snippets, concepts and ideas.
I’m super excited to share all of this, and start participating in the online conversations I’ve been mutely observing for the past few years. Hope you’ll join me.