I'm going to extend the focus of wpdude in the coming months and start to write about some of the things I am passionate about outside of the tech arena. I hope they are of intetest, it not just tell me to shut the F!!K up in the comments.
Today I want to talk about building a digital career.
What Is A Digital Career
I think of it as digital entrepreneurship, running your own business (probably as a solopreneur) online. This means you sell your products or service solely online via online marketing practices such as email lists, search engine marketing and social media marketing.
I class myself as having a digital career, all of my clients come to me via the internet, I fix their sites over the internet, take payment and communicate via the tinterwebs. Everything I do is online.
There are a growing band of people building their own fulfilling digital careers and I think it is in the realms of possibility for many people out there to cut the corporate leash and strike out alone
In My Experience Corporations Crush The Spirit
Working in a corporation was, to me, one of the worst things ever. I did it for 16+ years. It was what was done, you went through school, got into a good company worked your way up, took shit for 30-40 years retired and died not long afterwards.
I saw freelance contractors in corporations, but they were just another cog in the wheel, taking the same nonsense as permies.
You put your poor old body through the daily commute, crawl into your cubicle or desk and attend to the days nonsense. Take abuse from management, attend stupid meetings, the annual appraisal, the networking and brown nosing to wriggle your way up the ladder, only to be told your position is going to be outsourced for a couple of pence per hour.
That's a gross generalisation I know there are many people who love their jobs and the sense of identity it give them, so the rantings in this post are not for you, but if you crave some freedom read on.
Working For Myself Is The Best Thing I Ever Did
Stepping away from the culture of meetings, human resource departments, set annual leave, control over your daily life, and an expectation that you would make yourself available 24/7 for phone calls was a joyous thing for me. I remember carrying a box of stuff to my car on that Friday with a huge smile on my face.
I setup on my own, and while it has not been all plain sailing, I don't regret a thing, I have grown as a person, I am much more happy, and I love being my own boss. The simple joys of nipping off for a two hour coffee break with a friend, having a huge amount of time with my two amazing daughters, deciding which projects I take and which I don't all get marked on the plus side of building a digital career.
I sent out a tweet the other days saying something like:
"Sent an invoice to a client in Australia, spoke to a potential client in Sweden, working on a client project from Boston, working online rules"
I got several replies confirming how cool the whole working online thing is. That is why I love the idea of building a digital career and would like to help other people do it.
You Can Reach Millions Of People Cheaply
The internet has changed the way people do business, 10-15 years ago you would need a huge advertising push to start a new business. you would need dozens of contacts a business plan, startup capital and take huge risks.
Starting a digital business could cost as little as $100-200
- Hosting $50
- Theme $50
- Domain name $10
- WordPress Free
Hang Up Your Shingle
It doesn't have to be complicated, create your website, sell your time as a service business and bingo you are ready to take orders. Setup your paypal account and hey-presto you are taking money.
You don't need a business plan, an exit strategy business cards or a smart new suit, you just need a service or product people value enough to cough up cash for. And I bet most people have the skills to do that.
I had an argument with a friend about this, he is a fireman, and he says he cannot setup as a freelance solo fireman, true he cannot so I told him to be creative, what is he great at, answer he plays the game Eve and is very very good, he can write an e-book on eve strategies and sell that online from a blog on the subject. The point is you don't have to think of your core employee skills as your route to a digital career.
Start On The Side
You don't even need to quit your day job to start your new business, you can do it on the side. Offer something that is not dependant upon you providing one-to-one time, my tech support services could be done over the weekend, as long as a client has his or her expectations managed they don't care when the work is done.
A great story I heard is from Dave Navarro from http://www.rockyourday.com/ he used to give consulting calls from his car during his lunch hour. A brilliant way to start on the side.
It Can Evolves As You Do
Your digital career is not set in stone, you can change and evolve as you grow and learn. This post is part of my evolution, I'm keen to help people to build a digital career of their own. If I get enough positive feedback I might spawn a new site, neil-matthews.com has been purchased and is awaiting it's purpose.
If you decide to add a new set of services or products to your portfolio you can. In the old world you were (for example) an accountant, your joined a firm, counted up and divided by a number till the end of your career, you could retrain, and move over, but could you be an accountant on a Monday and a marketing chap on Wednesdays, no you could not, but a digital career means you can pursue a number of avenues, take on new challenges.
Corporations Don't Mean Security
I think anyone who has watched the recent corporate meltdowns has to agree that working for the man is not that secure anymore. It only takes one mouse click on a spreadsheet to turn you from dedicated employee to redundant, and will that nameless, shameless bean counter give a rats arse about you, no, that's why self serving digital career building is so important.
Even if you are not working full time a diversified income stream is very useful. It helps to even out the bumps in the road and pay for extra luxuries.
Build A Business Not A Job
You don't have to just swap one time for money job for another, when you build a digital career, you can build a true business. I have a list of clients, they come back to me time and again for more and more work, that's a business not a job. I have developed a new product wptroubleshooting which can be sold again and again with little or no input from me, a digital career allows that, a corporate job does not. I'm looking to expand my portfolio into digital career consulting and products.
These are assets and can be sold when you move on or grow board, you cannot say that about the paper shuffling you are doing today.
What Do You Think?
Are you investing time and effort into building your digital career? Do you think the internet is freeing us from corporate bullshit and allowing people to blossom?
Have I sparked up an appetite for digital entrepreneurship in you, if I have let me know in the comments and I will write more about the subject.