29.10.12



Building a Business Part 7: The Ups.

Part 1: The Beginning
Part 2: Sugardevil
Part 3: Groupie
Part 4: "Jacob"
Part 5: Dream Jobs

Now that I was able to dedicate 100% of my time to this endeavor, I set my plan into action.  I made it possible for potential clients to purchase my custom Myspace design services right from my little old website with the click of a Paypal button. 

The clients started coming in. Bands, individuals, and organizations would see my work on other profiles and wonder how they could get something similar. This is why that little "designed by" link at the bottom of all web work is so essential!  A huge percent of my clients would have never found me if it weren't for that.

I worked day and night on improving my own website's SEO and rankings, modifying and tweaking that code that made it possible for me to do what I do, and networking through Myspace itself.


There came a time when it was just not possible to charge what I charged and have people purchase the service through my little old website. My service was getting a little more popular and I had no control over the price once somebody purchased a custom design. For example, clients that would purchase the service at a low cost sometimes had me working my little butt off as if it were a job five times the cost. I decided that I needed to start quoting people per page, so with a brand new (more professional) website redesign and quoting system in place, I was ready for the next level.

My SEO was amazing. I was #1 on Google for many years for popular Myspace design search terms and that really helped people notice me. Record companies started to notice my company and I soon found myself working with some of the best artists in the biz, from Lenny Kravitz and Kylie Minogue to Twisted Sister and everyone in between. I found it ironic that these labels that I used to dream of working for one day actually wanted to work with ME now.  I even developed a relationship with Myspace. Their development team knew who I was and would give me inside information about changes that were happening so I could prepare. 


I offered other design services alongside this Myspace design phenomenon, one of which landed me a country music award for "Website of the Year" in 2007. Yes, I actually have my very own country music award... how random and cool is that??

Something I never imagined in my wildest dreams even happened... my work was showcased to Bill Gates. Yes, THE Bill Gates. As a part of the Microsoft Mix '06 conference, Myspace did a special presentation where they demonstrated (to Mr. Gates) all of the cool things that could be done with Myspace. They showed him slides of my very own profile designs, which I have stored away on a video somewhere. 

One thing that I wanted to touch on was something that I believe helped create a better reputation for my company... and that was the fact that I never let anybody know that it was just me running the show. Clients thought my business was a big team effort with an office full of designers, when in reality it was just little old me sitting at one computer screen.  I accomplished this by never referring to the business as "I", but rather "we".  "We" were a team... me, myself, and I.  I never showed anybody what I looked like, how old I was,  and I never corrected them in emails when they thought I was a boy and referred to me as a "he". The awful truth is that sometimes I was taken less seriously as a techy 23 year old girl who didn't go to college. Unfortunately some people still have that mindset, and I didn't want my sex, age, or education to influence what others thought of my work.


My little business had grown to heights I never expected and when I started making a six figure salary I decided it was time to incorporate.  Though I had the company registered and operating as a legit business, there were benefits to incorporating that convinced me it was the right path. See, with a sole-proprietorship, everything you do comes back at you. If something negative happened with the business, it was tied to me personally and could result in losing my own personal assets. With a corporation, that business is completely separate from you. If someone sued you, for example, they would be suing the company, not you, which means that none of your own personal assets could be touched.  If I filed bankruptcy, it would be the corporation, not me. Not that I thought something bad was going to happen, but it is definitely a possibility in any business so I wanted to make sure I was safe.

The process of incorporating is kind of a daunting task and expensive to do. Especially when you try to save some money doing it yourself and then have to hire your lawyer to fix what you've done.... *ahem*.  Anyways, with that all taken care of, I felt safe and even more professional, being that I was now able to add "inc." to the end of my business name!

I created Myspace profiles for about 200-300 artists a year and business was steady. Of course there were some ups and downs along the way, such as Myspace deciding (overnight) to change bits of their coding which in turn resulted me in staying up fixing hundreds of profiles. Besides that, everything was fine and dandy.... but isn't that always how things are before the storm?

Stay tuned for part 8!!!

Do you think that people are still judged by sex/age/education in business?

23 comments:

  1. You're such and inspiration Dana, I can't believe how far you've come! xxx

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  2. This sounds so amazing. Some people never get to live there dreams and I am glad that you are getting to do so!
    Carlee
    Almost Endearing

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  3. Wow! I had no idea! Those are some amazing accomplishments! Country Music Award?? You go girl! ;)
    Melissa

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  4. Wow you are insanely talented and so inspirational! Well done on that award, such an amazing achievement!

    Sophierosehearts x

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  5. Wow, that's awesome! =]

    I agree with the not using "I" and instead using "we". It helps establish yourself as a real business!

    I definitely run into problems with people discriminating against me for being young and female. I'm 26 but look considerably younger, and my voice is pretty high-pitched. I hired my brother to help run cable for an office I work with (I do webdesign work as well as general tech work) and when I told them that their computer was too old to run a program they wanted installed they rolled their eyes at me (they were still running Word Perfect '97--this was last year, computer was at least 10 years old) but then when my brother said it, they they jumped on board and immediately wanted to update their computer. =\

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  6. Very inspiring story. Thanks for sharing this series.

    - tianna :)

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  7. I love this series.... Just saying :)

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  8. I've really been appreciating this series of posts.

    I've had some issues with being young and female and not taken seriously in the tech world, but thankfully not a lot. It's almost always around the issue of someone (a client, a coworker, a supervisor, etc) asking for something and me having to tell them no. For some reason, when I tell someone that something's not possible or not plausible in the timeframe that they want it in, my "No" doesn't hold any weight... Yet, if I send in a male peer to say, "No, we can't do that." they get taken seriously. It's SO irritating and stress inducing.

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  9. Yep, age certainly does! I have a handmade business (I design jewellery) & so does my sister (she designs baby/toddlers clothing) - online it isn't bad because no one has any idea how old I really am, but at the markets, the older women often ignore a 'hello' (even if you say it several times, in case they didn't hear)& treat you as if you are just the girl running the stall - even though I'm the designer & I've been doing it since I was in my early teens. And it's worse for my sister's clothing (we share the stall) - they look at you as if you couldn't possibly know anything about them, the sizing, fit etc. It knocks your confidence some but you just learn to ignore it :-)

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  10. This is just phenomenal! Can't wait for Part 8!

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  11. I think people always WILL be judged by age, sex and education, even when it isn't relevant to what they're doing. I'm guilty of it myself. I deem female scientists as less intelligent than males, which is rubbish, of course, and I am ashamed of myself for thinking so, but it's what comes with media. I don't read magazines, news or gossip websites or anything like that anymore, and I feel like I am able to come to my own conclusions about things now without having my opinion affected by what "everyone" else thinks.
    But, there will always be old fashioned people. Racism and sexism will still be alive 100 years from now, and it makes me sick. The only thing I can do to prevent it is to NOT be racist or sexist myself. It seems I only have the first part down, because I would never hire a male to design my websites, even if they were great at what they did, because I just wouldn't think they would get the right colour schemes and stuff. So it isn't just women who are affected.

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  12. Love reading these! :) xxx

    http://jeminixlife.blogspot.com

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  13. I'm loving this series! You have done so well for yourself, you should be really proud of yourself.

    I do think that you are judged by age/sex in the workplace. I have quite a senior role in a multinational plc and often find people are surprised to see a woman (and a fairly young one) doing this job. I often find myself trying to make myself look older in an effort to be taken more seriously!

    rachael xx

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  14. Amazing! love reading this. I would like to know how to improve seo.

    Barnicles

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  15. So inspiring and motivational! I love reading these :)

    http://bramblesblush.blogspot.co.uk/

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  16. What you say about age/gender discrimination really hits home for me! Even more: you are a pretty lady. That's the real nail in the coffin, seeing as how pretty, girly girls can't be smart and talented also. :/

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  17. Very inspiring story!! I am starting out my little home based business but it is not doing nearly as well at that. lol. Great job! Can't wait for part 8.

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  18. When are you doing part 8? I have been checking back most days x

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  19. I definitely think that people are still being judged by their age, gender, and education in the work force -- and outside the work force. Even in my job -- I work with kids -- I feel like men are judged because it should be women that look after children, and being young a lot of the parents probably think "how can you look after my child when you are still a child yourself." Sadly, I don't think it will ever be dealt with properly. The stereotypes are stuck.

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  20. I loved reading these posts. Women with ambition and drive are women that cannot be stopped! Congrats on all your success thus far and much more to come i'm sure!
    Jennifer

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  21. Dana that's incredibly awesome!! You're such a great inspiration, congratulations for all the effort you've been putting into your work, I'm so impressed!! You're so successful besides of pretty and Dustin must be so proud of having such a talented and gorgeous girl like you!!
    Samantha x

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  22. Dana that's incredibly awesome!! You're such a great inspiration, congratulations for all the effort you've been putting into your work, I'm so impressed!! You're so successful, Dustin must be so proud of having such a talented person besides him!!
    Samantha x :)

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