So the work atmosphere at my current employer has been fairly toxic the last year. Actually the well was poisoned several years back when the department manager's wife was promoted from a secretarial assistant to a management position but that episode of nepotism another surreal story I won't get into. The final straw was the moment they re-structured my position, thereby giving me a $45,000 pay-cut while simultaneously asking me to do more work.
I believe this led me to my current dire straits in my mid-career crisis in choosing whether I should embark on a totally new career opportunity or questionable legitimacy or whether I might be better off playing it safe.
Please read on below...
posted by cicadaverse to Work & Money (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In any case, a co-worker and I conspired and made a pact to depart from our current employer with all due haste. Unfortunately, we, neither had success in out pursuits of a new job that would pay the same salary. This shouldn't be taken to mean we collect a particularly high salary. We don't.
Then one day he comes to me and he says, "I know what we're going to do. We're going to be Web Designers!". Though I was somewhat surprised by this suggestion and somewhat hesitant, he then proceeded to sell me on a plan of starting a web design business, and I was indeed intrigued.
By the end of this discussion I kept asking, "what's the catch?"
Let me shorten the narrative here by laying out the scenario proposed. As you might have guessed, I feel somewhat sceptical of the business plan and thus somewhat conflicted. Having figured that some of you might have experience in this field, I would like to enquire if this is in actuality a viable career option and sound business proposition as it was explained to me.
The scenario is as follows:
An acquaintance of my co-worker specialises in SEO and Marketing, as well as writing the content for businesses on their websites. He is currently under contract that will be expiring shortly and wants to do this enterprise on his own.
He proposes that we manage the clients for him after he does the initial sale and that we build the website and handle the revisions, while he handles the SEO and Content side. The business model entails that he signs the clients up on 6 month or yearly contracts. The business platform is run on Adobe Business Catalyst, which we can brand as our own service and then charge whatever he's sold the clients on per month. He says he's regularly been selling, well, I won't mention the prices but suffice it to say, people seem to be paying more in a month on one of these contracts than a lot of people pay in a one-off website deal altogether.
He proposes that in 4-6 months, he can net 20 clients, which would be enough for one of us to quit our job. The other of us would follow sometime in the 4 months. Now the only thing that makes me feel this is somewhat dubious is, my research shows me that a lot of people are not paying that much for website design these days and neither my co-worker nor myself have much (if any) real experience in web design.
So my first concern and question: Is this a real business model? How much will regular clients pay on a monthly basis for a website design with SEO and content? Could such a business support, say, 4 people, in a years time?
Second question, do I really have any business being in Web Design? I work in a creative industry but Design and/or web design is not what I've been practicing. I did actually build a number of simple flash sites in the early 2000's for a number of friends who were in bands at the time. I remember one friend who was a tour manager mentioning that I should get into that business and that he had a lot of bands he could refer my way. I turned him down, because it seemed like a lot of work while all I wanted to do was chill (I was young) and because although people seemed impressed but what I did, I didn't consider myself a real web designer.
Now, my co-worker and myself built one website so far, which we did in an attempt to get more free-lance jobs in our current industry. The SEO guy looked at it and said it was top-notch and he'd sell it as a high end site. It was basically a Parallax site done 100% in Muse. Neither of us Codes really. Though I'm sure I could still recall some basic HTML4 from my HTML class in 1998, when every one was using tables and frames instead of CSS and div layers, but rest assured, I'd be generally lost with todays web standards.
My worker friend says we can go it alone 90% in Muse and learn anything else we need to along the way. We are both generally smart and technical guys so I half-way believe him. As far as design, I have been quietly studying and researching design philosophy and techniques the past few months. If it helps, I always wanted to work in Graphic Design when I was a teenager in the 90's. My mom had Micrografx on her computer and I was like on that thing 5 or 6 hours a day. I'd make flyers for friends bands and political posters, things like Martin Luther King with swastika for a mouth with a caption saying "Ignorance is not Bliss", and then I'd secretly put it up all over my high school.
I didn't follow the career option of Graphic design because someone mistakenly told me I'd need to be able to draw really well to do that and despite the excess of art classes I took in High School, I was only good at modifying and adapting other's work as well as basic geometry, for my own designs. I loved the screen-printing shirts section of one art class. I did some wickedly intricate designs. We had like hundreds of magazines in the art store room (mostly Time and National Geographic) that I'd take elements from and trace onto paper and use for different stuff. My art teacher often criticised my work as non-original and subversive though and discouraged this. But anyway, I digress.
Suffice it to say, I have an interest in Design. I can't code much as it is now. With Tools like Muse, do I really need to be able to? As I understand it, most of the tools we need are available as modules in Business Catalyst. There are tools for pulling CSS from Photoshop and Adobe is coming up with more and more Design UI based apps like Muse Edge Re-flow, and Edge Animate to aid in the design process while minimising coding. Not to mention there are hundreds of free tutorials for Dreamweaver out there.
So my ultimate question here (which is now keeping me awake at nights) is do I take a chance and embark on this new career choice? I'm less than 2 years away from over the hill, so if I get this wrong, it could really spell disaster. It's a young persons industry out there.
Or do I play it safe and stick with my employer for as long as they'll have me?
I'd like to roll the dice and take a chance. I'm impulsive by nature. But I've got a mortgage of a half million dollars and a 15 month daughter to think of (and absolutely no savings!). I feel like I should be well advised on the viability of this potential career opportunity, especially at my age.
BTW, if you've read this far, thank you. I'm not known for my brevity and I know it can be a fault. Perhaps I should consider a career in writing?