How It All Began
My Foolish Beginnings
When I first entered the web industry at the age of fourteen, I was a typical new web developer. My first intended project was going to be a big one that could compete with a lot of major sites that had been around for years. Although it sounds silly, I have noticed that this is exactly how many new web developers start: unrealistic projects, immense expected traffic, fantastic earnings. For me, that first project was Cyberlance, and it was supposed to combine the best features of eLance and LinkedIn into a hybrid business social network and job board system.
At the start, that began with securing a host. After much discussion with friends (some of whom had dabbled in the web industry), I decided to go with Dreamhost and am glad I made that choice – as of writing, I have been with them for three years and intend to keep it that way. The next step was to acquire the domain “cyberlance.com” from BuyDomains. Before my acquisition, they had it available for $1388. After a 30-minute phone call, I was able to narrow the price down to a solid $1000, which I promptly paid. Thus, before I had any real content going, I had already invested in about $1100, with nothing to show for it. But I didn’t have the sense to stop there.
Next, I scouted around for a competent freelance designer and finally settled on one from Missouri. Luckily though, her rates are still very competitive to this day and her work is nothing short of high quality (you can find her here). For Cyberlance, I was quoted $150 for the index page, which I paid and had developed. Coding cost me $50, and that was done very quickly by Michael Walsh. After spending $1300, I finally had something to show. But then I got busy with schoolwork for a while and set the project aside. Coming back to the project nearly a half year later, my visions for the project expanded even further.
Things Always Change When You Come Back
I ended up doing a complete overhaul of the site plan, transforming it from a 4-page concise document into a 7-page convoluted feature spec with some features I now deem completely unnecessary for most sites. However, I didn’t realize this at the time, and proceeded to go forward in hiring a coder. The down payment for the project was $2000, which I sent via Paypal. In addition to the massive development changes, I decided the design I had initially commissioned wasn’t good enough, so I set out to commission an entire new index page and every conceivable subpage the site would have. Again, I hired AquaDesiree for this, and the new designs came out to total $500. For those interested, the planned new index page is shown below:
A few weeks into what was supposed to have been the coding, the coder contacted me and told me he was leaving for university and wouldn’t be able to resume work on the project. In addition, the contract I signed stated he didn’t have to return the down payment, but since he had done practically nothing on the project, I asked him to at least send part of it back. He did not. For those who would like to know who the fraudster is, his name is Callum Smith, so if you see find him online DO NOT HIRE HIM. His personal site is located here: http://www.oxytwo.com
Finally, A Realization
So at this point, I had spent $3800, with $2000 of it having been stolen from me. It was the fact that money had been stolen from me that led me to realize how careless I had been in my attempts to break into the web industry. While I for some odd reason still lacked the ability to realize I should stop, I decided to find another competent coder to finish Cyberlance as it was intended to be finished. In my search I found a very reputable coder with an impressive portfolio: Raphael Caixeta. He had some pretty good input, and quoted me at a fair price.
Not making the same mistake I made with Callum, I told Raphael I would send him payments in installments as he finished parts of the site. He agreed to this, and I knew this would be the beginning of a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, I lacked the hindsight to realize that a coder can’t begin implementing more than a basic site shell until the artwork is finished, and we had agreed to wait on the artwork. As a result, the coder eventually contacted me to tell me he got a new job and had to sign a non-compete agreement as part of the terms. I was a bit alarmed that he was putting me off (since I was one of his clients), but I realized that this new job would be a much more consistent paying work than freelancing and humbly agreed. In addition, Raphael did the noble thing and sent me ALL of my money back, even paying for the wire transfer on his end.
Finally Coming To My Senses
At this point, two coders had pretty much turned my project down, and I was starting to feel a little hopeless. Inevitably, it was a good thing, because I quickly postponed the Cyberlance project and decided that smaller websites would be much more feasible, such as RenotifyMe and URL Pack. To this day, I am glad I made that decision.
As mentioned in my previous post, my current project is to create a new virtual card game called Zems, and it will be my biggest project since the postponement of Cyberlance. While I’m still not quite sure I am ready to undertake such a large project, I have learned quite a lot through my smaller websites and believe that Zems, unlike Cyberlance, actually has a chance to be a success. Who knows, maybe one day in the future I will return and finally finish Cyberlance.
My experience with web design was much easier, thanks to a tip from a self-employed individual who had used the designer’s service, several recommendations, and a list of web sites she had designed. I hope your next endeavor is fantastically successful.
Thanks. I think I have learned my lesson about not seeking outside counsel before starting something big.