Start All Over Again

Monday, February 18, 2008

I just made the official announcement over at Smart Goat, but I also wanted to get into some of the whys and wherefores of the whole thing.

As I mentioned on the other site, I’ve been hired as a web developer for a media company in Oklahoma City. I’m not going to mention the name here—if you want to know, contact me privately. I don’t mind telling people, I just make it a rule not to publish the name of my employer anywhere Googleable. Seems best for everyone.

After more than four years of doing freelance from home, I’m going back to a regular, 40-hour-a-week office job. I’m having a hard time imagining it. What do people do in offices these days? It’s my understanding they all have documentary film crews—is that accurate?

Here’s the deal, for those of you that are new: I build websites. Mostly small sites, some medium-sized ones. Typically, I do it all—design, development, the whole thing. Problem is, I’m a developer, not a designer. My design work turns out ok, but it takes me twice as long to get to ok as it takes a designer to get to good. Taking longer to produce something not as good is not a solid business strategy. When you combine that with the constant cycle of trying to find the next client while you’re working for the current client you end up working 60-80 hours a week for not much money.

Meanwhile, our list of potentially profitable ideas continues to grow. But no one’s paying us for those, so it’s hard to justify spending time on them instead of client work, even if the difference in pay is slim. This puts me in the position of wanting to work on my own stuff, but needing to work on client sites. Typically, I compromise by looking at shiny things on the Internet.

SweepsGoat is a good example (Of a personal project. And, I suppose, a shiny thing on the Internet). It doesn’t make a lot of money, but it’s profitable. If I had the time to work on it, SweepsGoat could be doing much better.

So I’m looking at this job thing as kind of a reboot. If we don’t have to depend on client work to pay the bills then we can follow our passions in our free time without feeling guilty about it. Smart Goat can transition from a client services business model to a software sales/subscriptions model. For us, I think that model scales better than what we’ve been doing.

Honestly, I’m pretty excited about this whole thing. I managed to find the exact job I wanted after only looking for about a week. I’ll be doing the kind of work I love to do, but on a larger scale than I’ve ever worked before. And I can use my free time to work on projects I want to work on.

And, if what I’ve heard about offices is correct, the people I work with will be hilarious.