I was always fascinated by animals. That’s why I pursued my passion by earning a degree in Zoology. During my senior year in college, I discovered the web. At the time, I didn’t even have my own computer. I used the computers in the computer lab at school to surf the web using Mosaic and, eventually Netscape. And then, I convinced one of my computer science major friends to teach me HTML so I could make my own websites. We used Notepad, and when I eventually got my own computer, I uploaded those websites with dial-up.
After graduation, I got a job as an animal technician at a pharmaceutical lab, planning to earn some money before going to graduate school in a year. For someone who loved animals, taking that job was probably one of the biggest mistakes I could have made. So I applied with a temp agency to find something that would hold me over for a few months until I could figure out my next move. The temp agency found me a great job at PBS, where I created databases and documentation.
While I was working at PBS, another agency presented an excellent opportunity to do technical writing for a federal Y2K project. Plus, I had to make a website for the documentation I was writing. Finally, somewhere I could use that HTML I learned! That job turned out to be the start of a long career in web development. As part of the project, I created a multimedia demo using a new program called Flash (remember Flash??), so I learned as much as possible about Flash. After the Y2K project ended, the contractor for the project hired me directly, and I continued to make websites for their federal clients.
After a few years of working very long hours and commuting upwards of two hours every workday (and some weekends), I found myself burned out and unfulfilled. I had just written a book about Flash, which ended up being pretty successful, so I had enough royalties coming in to pay my bills while I figured out what to do next. I quit my job and started doing some freelance work for a nonprofit. It was mainly Flash work, but then it expanded into managing some of their websites. Over the next few years, I gained several more freelance clients. Most of them were nonprofits and small businesses, and I really appreciated my work’s impact on the community.
Then, in 2005, I welcomed my son, Parker, into the world. This life-changing event made me take stock of my priorities. While the work I did was fulfilling, I still found myself working very long hours. In fact, I even sneaked onto a hospital computer a few days after my son was born (5 weeks early due to HELLP Syndrome) to answer some client emails. So I decided to hire some help. I brought in a couple of contractors, and then in 2008, I incorporated my business and hired my first employee. We continued to work with nonprofits. We also added several large associations and even a billion-dollar company to our client list and eventually hit seven figures in income.
Once again, I found myself burning out. So I took stock of my priorities, and here’s what I discovered:
- I love working with nonprofits and small businesses
- I love to empower my clients to be able to do things for themselves when they want to (but I’ll still do it for them if they prefer)
- I don’t want to work more than 40 hours per week
And here are the changes I made to meet those priorities:
- Limit “big” projects ($25k+) to a maximum of two per quarter
- Offer limited-scope, lower-cost website packages to help nonprofits and small businesses
- Create courses to help solopreneurs DIY their websites with expert assistance
That last change brought us to the Website Success Academy! My team and I are here to help you with your website. We have decades of experience in web development, branding, content creation, SEO, and more. And we want to share that experience with you so you can have a successful website.