I’ve been in the web industry for over a decade, and while that may make me sound old, hopefully it also makes me a little wiser! I started in the web design field as a part-timer and then moved onto create my own full-time business following high school. Being totally self taught, I learned many things (sometimes the hard way) and always used those experiences to further my career. Over these 10+ years of jumping from web and graphic designer to blogger, here are a few of those lessons I learned:
Being a decent human being goes a long way
I’ve never really given a second thought to being generally nice to people, but when you live a good portion of your life online, it’s pretty necessary to make sure you come across as a kind person. The barrier of a computer screen tends to make us harder to read so I found it important to work on the tone of my writing in emails or written content. If somebody has a question about your services, answer them and thank them for their inquiry. Your help and kindness is free to give out, but can be the difference between landing a client or not.
The learning is constant
You may think that once you enter the web industry, be it for design or development or even blogging, you’ve got it all figured out. You’ve prepped yourself with the necessary skills and are ready to take on the internet! This is all fine and dandy, but you must not forget to keep learning. There are new tools and new tricks constantly at your disposal and it would be crazy to not take advantage of soaking up the knowledge. After all of this time, I still learn new things seemingly every day!
If you don’t keep up, you get left behind
If you fail to keep learning and expanding your web horizons, don’t be surprised if you get left behind. You must keep coming up with new ideas and always try to be one step ahead! With such an ever-changing industry, technologies become outdated, processes change, and you want to be sure you can keep up. Just ask an SEO expert how things have changed in the last 2-3 years alone and you’ll quickly realize that this is the truth.
Don’t place all of your eggs in one basket
Because of these evolving fields, it can be dangerous to dedicate your time and efforts to one single idea and hope that it lasts forever. The reality is: it won’t. Case in point, my previous business that brought me a ton of success was focused on MySpace design. Look at what happened to MySpace… some generations don’t even have a clue it existed while others just bask in the memories of their old profile pictures. Without having a constant backup plan or ideas that evolve with your field, you could find yourself up the creek without paddles. Always be thinking, and always be ready for change.
You need to have confidence in your work
Showcasing your work without confidence is like firing a gun with no ammo. When you’re just starting out, I know it can be a little intimidating trying to sell yourself or share your work with other people, but it’s something you need to learn how to do quickly if you want to be successful. If you haven’t built up that confidence just yet, try faking it until you make it. You need to at least show others that you are proud of your work and can provide them with a top quality product that they too can be proud of.
Always price for value, not competition
Let’s face it. It takes serious skills and time to work in this industry. If you’re not pricing your work accordingly, you’re seriously cutting yourself short. Not only that, but you show a lack of confidence and belief in your own brand. It absolutely kills me when I see new web or graphic designers on the scene who are pricing their work at such crazy low prices that it just doesn’t make sense. They think that by pricing low, their sales will be higher and they’ll attract more business than their competition. Their thought process is all wrong. When you work in a service industry, you are trading your time for money. Undervaluing your own time is dangerous and leaves you working for your money instead of having your money work for you. Your skill and time need to be taken into consideration, and if they aren’t, you’ll constantly be battling more work than your time allows for… which means less time to focus on the other important aspects of your business, like gaining knowledge, making new goals, and staying on top of your game.
I’m sure there are a million more things I’ve learned after all of this time, but these are the things that stick out to me the most and I hope they can be of some help to any other web based business people!