OK you hardcore webpage divas & start up devs, how can we get rich?

So, I think I have a job and I wanted to take a moment and thank all of you who have helped keep me afloat through 2013, which I hope will soon be the toughest year of my adult life fading in the rearview mirror. This particular job is a network support role and involves large agencies. It requires an extensive background check, now ongoing. If I pass that and it doesn’t fall through, the start date will be April 28th. It shouldn’t interfere with blogging and I’ll be able to get back into a regular habit without feeling like I’m wasting time doing something fun; writing and bitching about anything and everything here on FTB and elsewhere.

I know some of you have suggested consulting or being self employed in some way. I’m interested in knowing more about that. For example, there’s a lot of these companies popping up that set up web stores for small and medium sized businesses, like Web.com or Host Gator. Some offer design and support for the web pages, others hosting, still others will sync up social media, provide SEO services (SEO does sound a bit saturated, but I really don’t know enough about the state of that art to say for sure) and run email lists, a few try to do all these things.

What got me interested? Earlier this year an old friend who runs a landscaping biz offered me a few bucks to set up their store/page on one of those start up webpage company’s template. This particular web store developer was just a small group of people, three or four kids a few years out of college, in one medium town outside of Austin serving that local market and they’re so busy they can’t keep up. It took some fiddling around with their templates and features, but it really wasn’t too hard, just so time consuming that I can see why most small business owners couldn’t hope to fuck with it on their own. More of that might be a possibility, better yet our own system might be an idea worth talking about, as my guess is that market is far from done. Naturally, I have no capital, but it may not take much or any to get going. FWIW I can now puzzle out basic CSS, handle some elementary Java script — or more accurately I know where to go to find things out — and of course code html by hand on existing templates.

But the one thing I can offer is lots of free exposure and some serious phone and sales skills follow up. If you have been thinking about or fooling around with a web based idea in your spare time, or service or product or program that people want or need, and it’s something I can help with, getting some initial eyeballs on it might be a real possibility on my end. If someone has any suggestions about how we might use the exposure I can generate to gain a toehold in developing web stores, has experience setting up billing systems and where to host, or is looking for a partner for any kind of online consulting or design gigs where eyeballs and my other modest skills might have value, let’s talk about it.

I’ve been through a few recessions and it seems to me the time is ripe for the picking, in fact this may be the best timing I’ve ever seen in all my life. Every single small mom and pop business that survived or is emerging anew pretty much has to have a working, reliable web page and managing system for it these days, no matter what that business is, and the economy really is picking up now. Plus being poor has grown quite tiresome. You’re welcome to email me at D-a-r-k-s-y-d-o-t-h-e-m-o-o-n –at– AOL if you have something in mind or want to point me in the right direction.


  1. says

    There are a lot of services that offer instant web pages (and for a lot of purposes, that’s what tumblr and whatnot are for) Do you think there’s a market left for that? Competing against Squarespace and Wix seems like fighting over dwindling customer base.

    Here’s a suggestion: if you want to run a successful consulting business, aim for where the majority of your customers are going to be next year then start there. So maybe you should be asking yourself if there’s some market for helping small businesses move something or other into the cloud to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Then your argument is that your fee is, basically, their first years’ savings and after that it’s all gravy for them.

    A successful business comes after you’ve found an active market and then you come up with a cost effective and attractive way to service it. In this case it sounds like you’re interested in an already deeply trodden approach to a dwindling market. Um. No.

  2. says

    PS – anyone who had an actual valuable idea for a profitable business would be completely insane to just blurt it out, or share it. If you want to be an entrepreneur you’ve got to be the source of the ideas. The rest is just execution.

  3. kraut says

    Hey, I hope that job is yours. i know how it feels to be unemployed and doubting you own abilities because nobody hires you despite the skill set.

  4. M can help you with that. says

    You don’t make money in web-based business by providing a service. You make money by coming up with an impenetrable wall of buzz-words and pitching it to your extensive network of connections until you can get a few venture capitalists involved, then try to figure out a product to deliver.

  5. Sunday Afternoon says

    @M: #4: Not true – I have a web based business that is, after the initial investment of time several years ago in learning php/MySQL and developing my application, now making a nice supplemental income.

    I’m actually on-site with a customer today helping them operate my software with them paying for my time as well as use of my application. I have other customers who pay to use my application with me providing remote support from home.

    As Marcus Ranum alluded – I saw an opportunity, did the hard work to do the development and was fortunate to have some places to beta test my application to ensure it worked smoothly. During this beta testing I had people see what I was offering and my customer base grew out of my beta testing.

  6. says

    I saw an opportunity, did the hard work to do the development and was fortunate to have some places to beta test my application to ensure it worked smoothly. During this beta testing I had people see what I was offering and my customer base grew out of my beta testing

    Yup. Your first customers are your most important ones. For one thing, they (obviously) see enough value in what you’re doing to buy it, but you’re still small enough to engage closely with them. When I started Network Flight Recorder in 1997, I regularly visited our first customers and encouraged them to call me any time of day or night and complain if they had a complaint or suggestion. They can be a painful “focus group” to work with but if you can’t satisfy your first round customers, you’ll never have to worry about getting big or succeeding. It’s important to be willing to fail hard and fast, too, and know when it’s time to put your tools away and go find something else to do rather than being so in love with a disaster that you ride it all the way to the ground. (That said: in 1994 I floated a business plan for something much like what Akamai eventually became. Walked it by a big shot I knew at Sun, and the CEO of UUnet, both of whom I trusted to give me unvarnished advice and feedback. They both said it was a stupid idea and I put it away and went on to something else, namely Network Flight Recorder by way of V-One corp, which we managed to successfully take public in the meantime)

    Oh, and if you go into it expecting to get rich quick, you’re probably not going to make it. It might happen, it might not. But no matter what, it’s not a cakewalk. I used to have people say stuff like “Oh, are you trying to be one of those rich quick internet entrepreneurs?” and wanted to scream at them. Instead I’d say something like, “yeah, it sure is easy. you just risk everything you own, put every friendship you have on the line, work 80 hours a week, fly half a million miles a year, ruin your health and your marriage, and if you’re the lucky and skillful 1 in 20, you might come out the other end a ‘get rich quick’ millionaire after 5-10 years of hard work.” It’s like when some musician suddenly becomes an ‘overnight sensation’ and, if you know how hard it is to actually play guitar like that (or whatever) you know there was 25 years of playing in bar bands that led up to that “overnight” success.

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