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!#