Today I thought why not to share with all of you a question/answer session between a youngster and me myself. There is this friend in my Facebook’s friends’ list, he asked a question about choosing between Internet Marketing VS Development & Design and I responded to him with my own story.
Usama is a young technology enthusiast who is trying to make an informed decision. His question
The Answer; My Story#
First of all, I made him clear that it took me about 10 years to reach where I am right now, at least, I won’t call it short. Then I shared my story with him. Which I think could be an important piece of advice for a lot of beginners. So, I am going to publish it here at this blog.
I started with programming, because I loved it, you can read a little about me here.
Then I started to blog. On one side, I was a programmer on other I had blogging skills. Which led me to two things. First one was earning via developing sites and the second one was earning via Internet Marketing.
In programming, my first project was worth $50 and then $100 which kept on increasing until it hit $250 and then there was a big break. At that time, I realized that people who knew how to design were getting paid better.
At the same time when I started learning design, I left freelancing for a while, which meant no earnings at all. Let me remind you, I was a student at that time, I didn’t really need to earn.
It was the second semester of electrical engineering in UET Lahore when I left all my blogs and started focusing at Freakify.com from where after 6 months I started learning about Affiliate income.
Then came Google’s Panda update and I started SEO services at the Warrior Forums which in the beginning led me to earn more than I used to — as a programmer. At the same time, I started trying out Fiverr and spent two months to get more than 500 orders done in the category of logo designs.
By then, I was someone who knew how to program, who was so-so at design, how to run a blog, how to earn affiliate income, and who was earning through SEO link building services. I thought, “Now we’re getting somewhere”.
After that, I started building small products, small guides about blogging, internet marketing, and SEO link building. I invested some money in hosting business with FB marketing, though, it was a big loss at the end.
Finally, I started what I call was a better workflow — a perspective that helped me start focusing at what I wanted. It was what kept me alive. My workflow led me to optimize myself, be more productive and multitask.
I listed down all my fears and the scary shit. I planned a way to deal with all of it. I had more than three schedules daily, E.g. If I woke up for at 6 AM, I had a different schedule to follow, if I woke up at 10 PM then my routine was different but documented in another schedule and finally I had a different one for when I didn’t feel like working at all.
I Was Afraid of Stuff#
At that time, I was afraid of stuff like this.
- Problem: I am going to screw my GPA at electrical engineering.
- Solution: I need to maintain at least 3.5 CGPA out of 4. Which meant studying for at least 3 hours a day.
- Problem: I am not good at programming, I need to learn more
- Solution: I thought of learning about 20 languages, which evidently was a bad solution.
- Problem: If I could design well I could earn more, I could get a better job and that would mean success but how to get better at design?
- Solution: Videos were doing no good. So, I thought to start with Fiverr and learn from my experience. I don’t know when and how I became a good at design, but it just happened. Maybe because I loved to be a designer and that love kept me working and I learnt the golden ratio rule of aesthetic designing which led me to the concept of breathing space and metaphoric elemental analysis, which in turn made me learn videography with tools like Adobe Premier & Adobe After Effects. I never got a chance to learn 3Ds Max due to less powerful PC (but I learned the basics when I bought my first laptop). Moreover, I started blogging about design and it helped a lot both with front-end development and design.
So After Resolving These Three Issues!#
When I graduated, I had the following skills and portfolio at hand.
- Electrical Engineer: Got 3.4 CGPA and two job offers, one from a company which funded my final year project and the other one from a startup which I was a part for about three years. We had secured the 2nd position at PITB’s first ever incubator in Lahore.
- Web Developer: I knew about 20 programming languages, I was good at Web Development, WordPress was what I loved though I developed in Drupal, Joomla, Magento and others. I had 200 simple Android apps by then in the marketplace, I could start a career as a web developer or an Android developer at a firm of my choosing.
- Designer: I knew how to design user interfaces through Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. I had good command over After Effects & Premier, I was a novice mag-designer in Adobe InDesign and I played with Adobe Auditions when I used to sing and strum at guitar, with 500+ logo clients at Fiverr and clients through some freelancing sites, I had enough exposure of the client work that I knew what I can do.
- Blogger & Marketer When I graduated I had about 50 blogs (Had a PBM Private Blogging Network) out of which about 30 got a great acquisition offer including Freakify.com and I sold them with 50% equity. When I calculated my earnings via internet marketing, they were more than what I had earned from programming and designing combined.
Entrepreneurship or Job?
This was a hard decision. The day I graduated, one of my clients of SEO/SMM called me and invited me to have lunch with him, which turned into an interview and I landed a job at the multi-national agency. I left that job after seven months when another firm paid me twice the opportunity of growth and of course, major monetary benefits.
I like to think of my first employment as a step towards figuring out who I was. At the second agency whom I worked with, within three months I broke a project of 30 Million PKR ($0.3 Million) and got promoted to Chief Marketing & Sales Executive. I left this job after about 6 months. That’s a bummer. Reasons behind leaving this company was more personal and less technical. The management allowed people to smoke a lot and I was not comfortable with that. Add to it, some bonuses that I never got and when they started abusing me both as a developer and designer. I was literally handling the work load of two employees.
Finally, an entrepreneur who joined his own company as the 6th employee. Now I had EE’s Degree, I could get a job in that field whenever I want to — by struggling for it of course. I was running a group of companies. Design/Dev agency with its existence in more than one country AH and I am going more global with a recent partnership which is yet to be disclosed. Then there was the love for WordPress, started FinkTanks a WP training and copywriting agency, WordPress Pakistan a non-profit company to help build a local WordPress community and we did.
Internet Marketing vs Development & Design!
But with a decade of experiencing here is what I learnt.
- Blogging & IM: It’s active learning, ever changing, never trustworthy, you are alive it is with you, you are dead, it dies with you, which also means when someday you start a family there is a chance of them not knowing what kind of shit it is, and if you die you leave them with some stuff which they cannot understand and cannot continue because it was your knowledge, they can’t just hire someone in your place to keep it running. Though there are a lot of risks but it pays you really well.
- Design/Dev: This can lead you to a job, in case you fail as an entrepreneur. AH with the number of years I have spent in building a mesh of 150K clients/users (both free and premium), I know this, if I someday fail as an entrepreneur, I will land a partner level job at a good startup with an attractive package and an executive position of a co-founder or a creative director. This is rather a much more fail-safe strategy as compared to blogging & IM where you tend to get equity & shares and even in the worst of cases, if you die or something you still get a particular passive income through it.
They say “Do kashtio ka swar doob jata hai” (“riding two boats at the same time is the recipe of failure”). I proved it wrong, with every risk and step I took in my life. Now I am thinking of what kind of skills I need to learn in next 10 years. What should be my strategy of Blogging & IM for next 10 years. I am a big believer in short term goals. Stop chasing goals which will turn your black hair to white. Be micro-creative micro-motivated. Do one thing for a particular chunk of time and other as a backup a side project, a maybe.
Knowledge can save your life some day, just because you had the knowledge to do what you did in a situation of crisis. Learning is an unending tunnel some go far enough to call it a blessing while others tag it as a necessary evil. Master the change and then be the one who starts changing others. If you cannot then adapt fast. Be better than you were yesterday. In short, build your workflow, find your way.
P.S. OPINION! A famous greek poet once said “Opinions are like assholes, and everybody has one” So, don’t just start blindly following what others did and told you to do. Create your own way since at the end it would be your ass on line if you know what I mean.
Share Your Thoughts!#
HAHA! That’s a really good start , Every guy which has some interest for computers surely got the same story, I am happy seeing you today as an entrepreneur, and yes I do remember old freakify as a forumn, plus some other projects of yours too were quite interesting. Like doomple I guess , I don’t remember now xD!
WOW! Dude you remember Doomple? Doomple was a social network, which I built to compete Facebook, after one year of work all I got was 22,000 registration and server bills. Then I sold it to an Indian bidder for bits.
Before Doomple billoo.co.cc i still remember :P
Yup, there were more before that. I made a blog in 2002 about upcoming Euro Cup after FIFA.
Great Blog and Even Greater Post :)
A real inspiration you are and I’d be meeting you for sure whenever I visit Lahore the next time :)
Hey Junaid! Thanks.
Sir, you are an inspiration for all of us. I’ve always learnt a lot from your social shares. The more I read about your life the more strong my creed about getting successful becomes. I am a software engineering student in FAST LHR right now.
Thanks for being there, when no one shares!
Ahmad I never knew this much about you. This is just so motivational!
I am going to start working over my workflow right now. Looking forward to find something more interesting in future as well.
Good luck with that Imtiaz.
Ahmad bhai as a beginner, where to take a good start. What to learn and what to practice if i want to earn.
Usman your questioned is addressed here http://goo.gl/rL3eWc
I have never read any motivational post like this
its a great story teaches us how to maintain things online and offline
This post has changed my schedule now its easy for me to manage my study,programming and blogging .
Also looking forward for a post on your IM journey
:) Well, many thanks for your great answer. I really appreciate that you took time to reply on my thread. I have collected a number of advices from people covering only IM or only Dev/Design. You’re the only one in my circle I consider as a good designer/developer as well as a person working with IM. I consider your advise. I’m collecting and gathering all of my plans and trying to fetch a blueprint.
I still have some questions in mind like, what actually you call a workflow and how you were able to learn so many stuff in little little time. I will be coming back on this blog time by time to fetch some more experience advises of you.
Usama I will write more about my workflow as soon as I get time. This is what I am teaching the two sessions of WordPress Basics to Advance Course. Will document it inshallah. Best of luck.
Aha! So you my buddy are the Usama who caused this post :)
Glad to see both of us having the same confusions :P
Hit me up tomorrow at NEST if you have got through the confusions and found a way!
Awesome Story in fact a lot more inspiring. Thanks for sharing . More Power.
That is awesome Awais. I enjoyed reading every line of the post. We need such stuff to get some clear understanding of what one should do and aim for future. Thanks !
What an inspiration you are!!
Great Man! I never knew much about you even though I’m a UETian too.
I’ll meet you soon for some consultancy.
Thanks bro for being there! :)
May Allah give you more and more success in your life ahead! Ameen
Sir, You’ve now become my inspiration. Though I’m a simple web developer and blogger, I think you imaginations will take me to a great height. Thanks for sharing your story. And also let me tell you, you’re even bigger than Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for me. You rock. Hats off. Thanks again.
Abhishek, pleasure is all mine :)
Ahmad Sir, really you got the belief in you and that is what all matters. Started with a doubt but you followed your passion. I want to know one thing by now as I feel like I am on the same track . I don`t love programming much but my designing skills are not upto the mark.
I love web-designing but nothing strong coming in my way that can give me confidence. I need a project idea that can actually give me strong foundation. Can you suggest any good way to start with developing for web. Or should I go for certifications. Thanks again for such great share!
All I can suggest is keep learning. Find what the best people out there in this field are doing. You’ll get to know most of the web designers work 18+ horus a day, who are successful. Can’t suggest any courses in India but you should definitely learn from Google.
A Lost Blogger
Ahmad I must appreciate the road you are travelling on. It’s definitely the result of sheer hard work and commitment.
I think it is the most appropriate place to share what’s going on with me.
1. With regards to formal education, I am a Civil Engineer from NUST. Civil Engineering is something I still love.
2. Before I could pursue my career in Civil Engineering, I got selected for a grade 17 job(think of a job equivalent to CSS) where I will be promoted to grade 18 in few months inshaAllah . This job has nothing to do with Civil Engineering because it is all about management and administration.
3. I Started learning WordPress, SEO, basic programming and design skills at my own in 2008. I worked on oDesk as a writer @ $15/hr till 2010.
4. Started making my own blogs in 2010 and have made 5 successful blogs by now, out of which I have sold one on Flippa as well. These blogs are about Civil Engineering, SEO, Cyber Security, Health and Current Affairs.
5. Since last one year, I am maintaining 2 blogs and have 4 assistants on oDesk who share my burden and to be truthful, I make more money from my blogs as compared to my high class job.
6. Last month, I decided to direct all my energies to my current affairs blog because that’s the area where all my talent resides. Nowadays I am spending 95% of my spare time writing about current affairs.
It all makes me stand at a critical junction. I have to make a choice.
1. Continue a great job, full of protocol and perks.(this is what people recommend)
2. Say goodbye to my job and start again as a Civil Engineer.(stupid idea now)
3. Say goodbye to my department and start an internet company etc etc.(this is where my heart is pointing)
Note: I can’t continue with my Govt job and an something else because officially I am not allowed to run a side business while in a Govt job. I am a proud Pakistani so I am not in a mood to violate the rules and regulations anymore.
Though I am still asking my close circle for suggestions but I have made my mind about what I am going to do.
So dudes, at times life stretches your decision making ability to its extreme. Always make your own choice so that you should not regret later. I would prefer my own course over somebody else’s definite formula for success. Because, my own earned failure will teach me hard to forget lessons and these lessons and experiences will be sufficient to drive me through uneven patches of life in times ahead.
Due to some official restrictions, I am not disclosing my name and links to my blogs. LINK REMOVED
I will definitely post more details after I am able to anchor my ship on a suitable harbor, which is expected in next few months inshaAllah.
Goodluck with that. All I can say right now is, people fantasize a startup in IT industry. It is not really easy as they say it is. So, not that I am asking you to continue your job or something. I am telling you not to jump into something like an IT Startup before you are quite sure about it being persistent enough to support you.
i appreciate this,
that’s an awesome story of u’r hardworking life, but as a human being one man should have fun too in life…was it in u’r life story in u’r busy days according to u’r daily workflow(i guess daily timetable)!if yes then how much time/week?
I used to play football a lot. Now due to workload it is Table Tennis only. Though I like to network with people. Working from a coffee shop or cafe around the corner is the way it goes. I keep about 10% to 15% of my earnings in the table of my entertainment budget. Watch 3D movies about two per week. That is enough for a busy guy like me. I plan to write about my routine no routine concept. In which I keep up with my routine for sometime & then I break it up just to get out of it.
Once you said, ‘One must check out 3 or 4 fields to find which one suits one’s personality and character’.
Some opportunities are once in a lifetime. One side of the coin suggests you to go with your family decision, the other side prompt you to follow your desire and interest and it is a TOUGH call to conclude yourself at a point which gives you satisfaction and successful future.
And I am at that point where I have to discover who am I and which is my correct direction.
It is not about your family is it? It is about from where you can earn more and where is your interest? If you have no interest in something (Like I had none in Electrical Engineering) you cannot be happy while doing it. I’d always found myself lagging behind a little bit in case of EE. Whereas in CS I was a geek. The day I started working in it, I just knew it, all I had to figure out was how to earn from it so that I can show it to my family that I’m better here :)
Hey Ahmad, I like your real life stories, keep posting :).
Zulfiqar Ali Soomro
This is simply amazing. I really enjoyed reading this article and it took me 8 years back when I started my web development career in an open source company providing 52 different distribution of Linux.
My career boosted when I starting my job in Yahoo! Middle East in 2007 (Dubai) and launched several travel portals which are serving millions each month. Google is my teacher.
I am a programmer but have done good amount of work with WordPress and Joomla.
4 years back I learned to design in Photoshop and since I have made lot of WordPress designs for my customers.
I had a different strategy of acquiring customers. Instead of going for small jobs at freelancer and other websites, I went for local companies and clients in Dubai and got paid very well but I would say I can not compete with the work you have done with 150K clients. Kudo’s man.
I have a startup called Tech Backpack and it is a social media management system for Journalists. I never got a chance to write about my experience but I must say you are doing excellent job. Keep doing it !!!
I am living in Dubai and provide contracting services to companies and Govt. dept in UAE. If someday you visit here do meet me. We’ll have coffee and may be we can talk some business.
Zulfiqar Ali, it’s nice to find out about who you are and what you have had been doing. Lovely work! Would love to have a sneak peek at your startup. Send me the details through contact form. Looking forward to meet you in Dubai.
Ahmed bhai, this is a very good and personal post. I really found it very much useful. I can say we are on the same path.
Aditya Nath Jha
The stuff you have done is great brother. Keep working.
Hi Ahmed Bhai,
Got very inspired after read your story though :)
Really its not 100% my story but i am sure if you listen my story you can imagine really its my story 90% same as yours :)
I am a wordpress theme/plugin developer at Ahmedpur East / District Bahawalpur.
I am working at odesk from 4 years just in wordpress development. Before that i was working in blogging / development of my own websites to earn from adsense. But that was very hard to get money from adsense.
Now after working as wordpress developer at odesk i got about 40 lac in 4 years :D
After a great struggling ….
Any way Best of luck with programming with wordpress.
It’s good to know that there are similar people out there in Pakistan. Good luck with your future. Make sure you use W & P capital whenever you write WordPress :)
Hello Ahmad Bhai,
I want some guidance from you, I am 40 year old having 3 children and want to switch in IT marketing field. previously i was in Administration field but you know there is less vacancies and i could upgrade myself being with this field.
kindly advise me, can i change my profession as stated above.
if yes, what type of courses i have to learn relevant to Digital Marketing.
Thank you so much
All I can suggest you is to do these things:
1. Try and do two things in software from which you make mone. Could be development, design, implementation, support, etc. (Don’t learn everything about this, just try and make money).
2. If you can’t make money from software after six months, this might not be the right decision for you. If you can. Read on.
3. So, you made money from two things, chose one and start mastering it. Get a job related to that thing.
Best of luck.
please also advise the good institute where these subjects being offered.
Hello sir,i want some suggestion please.I am Done Android Development course an now doing job 6months done .But am not perfect in coding and also done BscIT.Now i want to learn Digital Marketing.and want to make carrer in Digital Marketing and side side side i also want to do Android Developing.So should i go for Digital Marketing Sir.My Age is now 22 .Please give me suggesion Sir.Thankyou!
Do what you like. I moved away from marketing to programming and now I do a little bit of both. Just get better at whatever you do.
Really I was very confused to taking the things. But I got my answer Thank you Mr. Ahemed for this post.
Happy to have helped.