My first networking event in Amstedam, OpenCoffee, left me disappointed because there were a lot of freelancers hunting for customers.
In between plenty of self-declared Social Media Experts, few “I make websites with WordPress” caught my attention.
For the web-analphabets, WordPress is a free software that runs ~20% of all the Internet websites around.
It started as a blogging platform, to run blogs just like mine. Thanks to its simplicity and flexibility lots of developers started working on it and nowadays WordPress can be used to run a lot of different type of websites, from web shops, to event directories, magazines, job boards, product pages….
I remember my thought was: “We’re in 2012, how the heck those folks think they can still sell WordPress websites for living?”.
That was a very “Daniele-the-IT-Engineer” comment… I was still placing the technical aspects on top of everything.
Looking back, I should have instead complimented them for being able to find customers and to sell them those websites that are so simple to setup.
YES WordPress is simple, YES anyone can manage it, YES no bit-breaking knowledge is required, but also YES it does what many business need, YES it keeps the costs for a website low and YES, people are willing to pay experts to help them.
Little I know in fact that few months after I would have had the opportunity, brought to me by an acquaintance in the Salsa scene, to start freelancing as a WordPress Developer, monetizing 6 years of experience with multiple WordPress-based personal websites (like this blog).
Beside the irony that, once again, was the authenticity of the Salsa scene giving me opportunities and not the artificially created business networking events, it turned out that I quite enjoy helping customers, mostly business starters like me, getting the website they want.
And quite interesting, I realized how much I have to learn from the technical side! Customization, different layouts, little details, responsive design.
Internet has move on from the last time I wrote a website from scratch!
So I had to invest some time catching up, getting to know a technology called CSS3 that is pretty much the foundation of modern web.
When I started my business adventure, I thought I was done with being a techie, that I would have outsourced all of that.
But few months down the road, I understood that being technical is a bless because allows me to understand how to implement ideas. .. I feel more realistic.
A common challenge of many business people I met is the lack of technical understanding, so they have to look for technical partners or specialized companies to make their ideas come true.
Spending some time on the code, creating something or solving a problem is still quite enjoyable.
So my key learning are:
- Do talk with people around you, in any environment you move. It will unlock new business possibilities.
- Businesses are not based on technology, they are based on finding customers and sell them what they need.
- There’s always something we know how to do that can be used to help others in exchange of money.
- While keeping focus and time on your own projects, freelancing it’s a nice way to leverage your knowledge.