New goals, new territory

For the first 8 years of my career I worked at Morsekode, a modern ad agency. I loved my time there, but after having my first kid I decided to leave and start freelancing to provide a better work life balance. Freelancing has been an amazing journey so far and I’ve been so thankful that I keep getting new clients. After doing that for four years now, I’m slowly starting to turn a corner where I have started to set some new goals. While I will still be freelancing for the foreseeable future, it may start to look a bit different over the next year.

I have learned over the past few years that I especially love two things:

  1. Designing User Interfaces for Software – Figuring out how a user comes into an application, what they click on, how they navigate, what functionality they need, is some of my favorite work. It is half design and half intuition. It’s not just about putting a pretty face on some data, but rather figuring out how the user will think as they use the application and work to accomplish their tasks. It is really challenging work, but also extremely fun.
  2. Developing Web Based Software – Coding web applications is hugely challenging, but also really rewarding. Working on the front end, back end and everything in between gives me a great degree of satisfaction in the product. I love that users become really invested in the application and have strong opinions about how it should work. Since learning Laravel and Vue.js and developing client applications over the last few years I finally feel confident enough to actually call myself a web application developer.

Having both of these loves is a bit unique, most people would choose one or the other, and not both. But I have come to believe that I can provide great value by doing both of these. I can rapidly prototype an application and get something off the ground in weeks rather than months or years. (even if there is a lot left to be done after that)

So knowing that these are my proficiencies, I am going to be focusing most of my business on these goals over the coming year:

  1. Designing and Developing Web Applications for Clients – It is so fun to hear about a client’s challenges and how software can help their company run in a more efficient manner. I love working with clients and figuring out their priorities and how we can accomplish their goals and collaborating every step of the way.
  2. Taking my Side Projects More Seriously – I have always had side projects. They are fun and challenge me to learn new things or take new risks. But I traditionally haven’t put much thought into building a business. I’m terrible at marketing, and I often don’t push a product enough to make it succeed. I’ve been learning a ton about this thanks to the online community as well as podcasts like Indie Hackers. I’m hoping that my next project could be the one that starts to become more of a business and less of a side project.

I’ve been thankful for a group of guys (our mastermind group) that I’ve been getting together with that have helped to clarify this vision and push me on my goals as I work to accomplish them. I’ll try to write an update in 6 months or so to see how I’m doing!

I suck at being a human on the web

After watching and listening to a lot of solo and early stage entrepreneurs lately, I’ve come to the realization that I suck at being a real relatable human on the web.

I’m not sure what caused this. Maybe it was years of working at an agency and always making things as polished and professional as I could for clients. Maybe it was something I started as a young adult, trying to do freelance web design as a high schooler trying to make my “company” sound bigger than it really was. Maybe its just having a family now and wanting to keep some thing private and personal for my own sake. Or maybe it’s being a freelancer and always feeling like my clients are looking over my shoulder and wondering why I’m not working on their project at that exact moment.

My Twitter posts for the past few years have basically been “Hey – I launched something, you should check it out…”. And then nothing after that. I wasn’t really a part of the greater community in general helping people out and commenting on their stuff. I didn’t tell anyone I was working on it, I didn’t share the challenges in creating it, and I didn’t ask anybody else’s opinion about it!

So forgive me. I’m learning.

My goals this year are to participate and share with the online maker community. I have wisdom I can share, and I need their collective wisdom to succeed at all. I can’t keep making things in a vacuum and expecting they will blow up as soon as I put them online.

Here are some of my goals in the coming year:

  1. To post one or two helpful or interesting tweets a day.
  2. To blog once a week about something I’ve learned, or something I’m struggling with as I work
  3. To participate in the MakerLog and IndieHackers websites a few times a week.
  4. To offer some things of great value on the web, for free, with no expectations of how they will benefit me or make money
  5. To continue promoting the MPLS Digital Makers meetup group