Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fear of Wordpress

A couple of years ago, I thought that Wordpress would usher in the demise of the freelance and small Web designer and dumb down the design of the Web. While that may have happened to some small extent, the enterprising designer seems to be jumping on the Wordpress bandwagon, recognizing that it is a great solution for small business Web sites, and adopting it as a tool rather than simply being replaced by it.

A Wordpress site can now be made to look more like a grown up Web site rather than just a linear blog, and can be styled to look just fine, thank you very much. Where designers would spend hours and days designing and implementing a small Website, then perhaps have a small income through maintenance, now design and implementation can be done in a matter of hours. And maintenance? Putting maintenance squarely in the hands of the small business owner may take a few maintenance dollars out of the designer's pocket, but is that really what you wanted to be doing anyway? Wouldn't you rather be free to make design dollars (as opposed to the lesser maintenance dollars) on new sites and new clients?

What was a threat to Web design, now seems like a boon by creating a low-cost, simple alternative that can be part of your suite of offerings. Its an easy way to put the least interesting, least paying work in the hands of the business owner themselves so you can focus on what you do best.

Suffice it to say, I plan to take advantage of Wordpress to support a basic offering for my new business. Technology and application thereof will continue to change exponentially, and business people will always need specialists to demystify the tech world for them, so bring on the time-saving technological advancements in design!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

See Where That Gets You?

Right after writing the previous blog post about my path toward a new professional/creative life, I kind of fell down a rabbit hole. Not the kind where you start on Pinterest and three hours later you're researching wine country near Budapest, the kind where you start with a blog post and three hours later you've started a small business.

My husband said, "Do you want to come with me tonight to Connect?" and I responded, "Yeah, let me finish registering my LLC." And so it was.

To track back, I think that I created a "to do" for today to write a draft of a business plan, or at the very least, start fleshing out ideas for a mission statement and services for my small business idea. Well, after writing that in Penzu, I decided to post it to my URL and learn something new about CSS. Multitasking is the name of the game. One thing lead to another and soon I had posted a simple, one page business statement to silverspringexperience.com, a URL I've been sitting on for several years now. Then I somehow turned a corner and decided to investigate creating an LLC in Georgia. An hour later, I've purchased a new URL "silverspringinteractive.com", applied for an LLC online, and voila! It was so easy. After several years of feeling wishy washy about starting a small business, this feels right, easy, clear and imminently doable.

Another cool thing that is happening is that each time I talk to a friend about this idea, they give me another piece of the puzzle. Thanks Beth for the kick to focus upon small business, thanks Alisa for the quick mobile site maker and connection to the social content company, thanks John for helping me sound out the small business community idea, and thanks new friend Chris for pointing me toward yet another small business sector.

Now all I need is a logo, right?

Toward a Cultural Creative

Last week I was laid off from my faculty position at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Totally knocked side-ways, I am still puzzled how the institution can lay off its only User Experience Designer when they're planning to restructure the curriculum and have a UXD track. But, I guess that's their problem now.

For me, in terms of being laid off, it comes at an auspicious time. Never before have I been closer to living the life of a cultural creative, and it is my intention to take this opportunity to build that lifestyle. By cultural creative, I mean someone who is fortunate enough to use one's resources to advance oneself both creatively and financially. I.e., I plan to make money off of being me. Making pursuit of my interests financially rewarding and creatively and intellectually stimulating.

How does that play out? By becoming a Renaissance woman. Having multiple interests, and multiple irons in the fire. Having multiple sources of income rather than a full-time job. Those multiple sources of income representing different facets of my interests or areas of expertise.

Some of the options:
* Freelance UXD
* Small Business Idea To Be Revealed at a Later Time
* Teaching
* Blogging for Cultural and Technical Interests
* Performing Research
* Making Art

Clearly, some of these are going to make money and some are not. But, as long as some of them are generating income, I should also be able to do the rest.

Anyway, I'm embarking on this effort, and I'll be writing about it more here. Wish me luck.

Carol Bales