Every year at this time of year, I do a “Year in Review.” I complain about why the last year didn’t work out or what I learned. That’s no longer my style. The past is prologue. The past serves as a foundation to build upon. For me: 2013 was about getting some definition and trying to change what didn't work. It has reminded me what I wanted to do all along regardless of how 2013 played out. I got a belly full what I didn’t want. I also learned what is important. Here’s what I do want in 2014:
I am no longer sub-contracting work. In November 2012, I thought: “if lean work is easy to accomplish and easy to bill, I can take a discount.” It turned out there was lots of churn; lots of hurry up and wait; lots of commiseration and strategy building. I wanted to be the human step in development, but I got roped into a lot of other stuff that should never have gotten into the mix. Sub-contracting was terrific if one hour of touching the work yielded one hour of discounted income. Instead, one hour of hands-on work came with scrums, fire fighting, reviewing to-do lists, general chub-- there was even time for X-Box and feats of strength. I didn’t want any of that. When the dust settled, I divided the hours I was busy by the dollars I was getting paid and the net result was crap money-- like entry level at Kentucky Fried Chicken money (I use KFC as a bell weather rate because the nearby KFC advertises their entry pay on a big billboard. When drove by, I would sometimes say, “damn-- I wish I was getting that much coin”). I keep getting tapped to do “the hard stuff” while the easy stuff goes to people who couldn’t even spell “WordPress.” I sat through a keynote where the speaker talked about moving their site from Drupal to WordPress but neglected to mention that I did it for them. Sub-contracting is thankless anonymous work. If a business is built through recognition and referrals, sub-contracting is a dead end paved with plastic pennies.
I am going to start building. I have been building for other people for close to two decades. I know how to do it. I have done some math of who grosses what out there in developer land.
- Pippins Plugins (http://mattreport.com/how-to-start-your-own-wordpress-marketplace/) grossed well over $160,000 in two years.
- One Dreamweaver extension that got two stars out of five sold 11,000 licenses at $99 per (ie. $1,089,000 gross).
- Woo Themes is the big kahuna with over $50,000,000 in plug-in and theme sales if my math is right.
I come to this proposition with a cocktail of competence and greed to start building applications on my own terms. I’m going to build Wordpress plugins then consider doing Drupal modules, Dreamweaver extensions and go from there. I know that saying that doesn’t mean much at all nor is it easy to replicate the success of others simply by wanting it. The Matt Report had a great (and long / in-depth) interview with a WordPress developer. He does hand off a hefty chunk of his gross to Code Canyon but a site like that is a king-maker. I have some ideas for plug-ins. I have a way to prospect for viable and sought-after plug-ins. More that than, I am CMS agnostic. I intend on making WordPress plugins that can interoperate with Drupal modules-- then an Internet entrepreneur can deploy some of their business in one platform and lean on another platform for a different need.
I am going to be an Internet entrepreneur. I have been one, but it hasn’t gotten anywhere noteworthy. I am going to change it up with some new strategies (buy me a coffee, I’ll tell you want my specific plans are). I plan to get to a point where I can scale as soon as is practical. Scaling is the hardest part of what I do. Things go in geometric jumps. The jump from 10 hits per day to 1000 hits per day doesn’t have a lot breathing room in between. The 10-hrs. per week of work to 100-hrs. per week is just a state change. The exponential growth happens quickly, but humans don’t scale. I have been working up a dance routine to cover off how to grow and evolve without cloning or sleep deprivation.
I am going to return to writing. I have continued to promise myself that I would return to writing in a bigger way when I got the time. Eventually, I will leave the world of Information technology, ideally in the next five years. When I say this to employers and clients they go cold. They have this look like a puppy on its way to the vet. This is why I’m working on building and on entrepreneurship above and beyond “making website for clients.” I want my involvement inside of my businesses to be an internal affair. I have seen other consulting businesses fall apart when their lead / founder turns his attention to building the business, only to hear clients demand him on-site, fixing minutiae. When times have been tough, I have stayed in web design because the trickle of support calls and contract work never stopped enitrely. When I got a job-type-job, people would still ping me and ask me if I could take on “this one project”-- I was letting the cajoling of others shape what I was doing and how I was doing it. I was letting others map my career for me. Those days are done. This year, as a creative outlet from the job of coding, I will be writing. I made an entry for the upcoming Canada Writes creative non-fiction contest-- I may submit that entry, or write an alternate to submit. I am working on a novel again. I have lots of novel ideas, but the one I am working on now sums up what I want to do in a novel:
- I want to turn some ideas on their head to create juxtaposition.
- I want to talk about our society today, if even from a very different vantage point.
- I want to put BIG into a story while keeping the characters empathic.
- I want to put out some of my socio-political ideas in a digestible form.
- I want to set it in a place that is not unheard as far as a setting is concerned, but I think it’s not a frequented setting in contemporary literature.
Last on this list, but not last in consideration: I’m going to have a life. My Christmas present this year was money for a kayak. I have do some things before my kayak goes in the water, but it will happen. A man I worked for asked what I did with my time. I reamed off the chores, the goals, etc. but none of that was for fun. When I talked with my psychologist about my drive to finish off projects, the reward for the accomplishment was going to be room to take on plug-in development. In other words, my reward for hard work was going to more work. That ain’t right. 2014 will include time to live.
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