After many years working for myself as a sound engineer, getting work when I needed to and working as hard or as long as I wish, I’ve had to resign myself to getting a proper job, so I’ve been working as a web developer for the last 3 months. Due to necessity really for many reasons, the recession (which hit our industry badly), ill health in the family and money issues with friends have put me in the situation where the money I’d set aside to start my recording studio has gone. At this point seems very easy to give up. I’ve a reasonable job with a reasonable income, enough to afford to live comfortably in a reasonable flat, I’m back in my home city near my family and friends and I’ve a wonderful woman to keep me company. All should be right shouldn’t it. Well not exactly.
My job is the main issue at the moment. I love web design and I’d quite happily sit there and make websites for people all day. I’m an engineer at heart so I can’t do anything by halves really, when I design a site it must be properly marked up and the code must be written in the most efficient and correct way. Errors must be solved and databases must be kept in a logical and ordered manor with fields correctly labeled. As I have recently found designing sites for other people rarely allows this luxury. Normally, because you are trying to get the contract, your company offers to design the site for much less than it really costs to get things done. This means you’re on a timescale, you need to complete the site within the budget you’ve been assigned and you are forced to use scrappy code and lay out pages in a rushed, not so thought out manor. You tend not to use Object oriented programming, so you end up cutting and pasting lots of code meaning the site is very difficult to change at a later date. Generally, you rush the thing together and I don’t like it.
This on the whole is still not an issue. It’s a job at the end of the day. If they don’t want to give me enough time to accomplish a task then that’s their problem. Fair does, I won’t be showing any of the coding to prospective employers but who cares. It’s a Job after all. The issue is that I’m no longer really coding for them. They’ve dumped a load of tasks on me which anyone could do. Data entry, advertising and statistical analysis. I’m not really good at these things because it’s not my specialty. I’m a coder and you’d think that having a web developer in the company would be a valuable asset, that they wouldn’t have me sitting clicking through menus and editing prices all the time. The job started ok but I’ve half built 3 websites for them so far and they’ve all been shelved half way through. Not because I’ve not been quick enough or that they’re unhappy with the work I’ve been doing on the site but because the management keeps changing their mind and moving me onto other projects when I’m half way through a site. The most recent one of these moves has been to take me off a site that I’ve built after I’d done all the hard coding and only had a couple more pages to finish. Now they’ve moved me onto this data entry, google adwords and analytics, which I really have no passion for at all. It sounds bad but I think I could be doing much better and more interesting things and I’m being wasted on this.
Unfortunately that’s not the only thing. Over the years I’ve worked for several companies, doing a variety of things. In most of these companies I’ve seen stupid decisions being made and offered my help and advice to try to solve various issues. I’ve frequently not been listened to and seen the company go down hill and those decisions come back to haunt them. It makes me very upset to see these things happen and I don’t know if, after so many years being self employed, I can sit there and not be listened to again. Especially when I’m the expert who’s been hired as a specialist in my field and as such, am the only one in the company who really knows what I’m talking about. To be ignored and to see bad decisions being made can be painful.
This leads me to the conclusion that I’d like to start working for myself again. I have two real skills, I’m a recording engineer and I’m a web developer. I have a business ready to go, a studio sitting waiting to be setup but I can’t afford a simple building to put it in. I never thought it would be so hard to rent some commercial property somewhere to put my gear but it seems it is. Therefore, in order to use both my skills I need to setup an internet record label to publish the songs I’m recording in my studio. Unfortunately because I have no where to put the studio, I need to make some money over the internet. Build some businesses which can earn me enough money to live on so that I can put my money into the studio. Here begineth my quest to earn money online.
- Big money can be made in advertising only if massive numbers of people view your site. – This isn’t going to happen overnight
- Affiliate marketing can work but it takes time to build relationships with companies and get deals. There’s lots of hard coding and it will take time to get a reasonable customer base.
- Money can be made selling on eBay but can be very difficult and time-consuming to find good deals to buy. This means buying will have to happen in the real world in the short term. Because of the time it takes to list items I will have to sell items for over £100 to make it worth my while. eBay takes a cut, so does PayPal.
- Building websites for people invites competition and as such you will always be pushing your price down. Therefore build sites for yourself or for companies you have a stake in.
- Low prices to the end consumer works. Of corse you need time to build up a customer base but you’ll end up with a massive one for a cheap or free service.
- There’s always money in physical things. Things from the real world. The creation or sale of physical goods you’ve created or bought from a cheaper source is profitable. With things you create there’s often more as you can create and sell in quantity rather than having to list multiple items.
- There’s money to be made in the music industry if you approach selling in unusual ways and keep a low price point. Free is better. You are making real products.
- There’s money to be made organising online ecommerce for other companies where you retain a share of sale profit.
State my assumptions
Where do we go from here? I’m unsure. Maybe the way to make this happen is to approach the problem from all angles. I eventually and finally want to be in the position where I own my own studio and am able to sell music for the artists I work with. Maybe I should explore everything? Do everything and see where it leads me. First I need to sort my job out.