The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Whatever happened to being an ex-web designer?

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For several years I ran my own web design business, before selling it a little over 4 years ago and deciding I’d become a writer instead. Indeed, this blog began as a way of experimenting with different styles of writing and forcing myself to put fingers to keyboard on a regular basis. Then CFS then took over, drained the momentum and I never became a writer. So now I’m becoming a photographer.

However, I have never fully escaped web design and at the moment it feels like I’m doing more than when I ran a full time web business. Mind you, in those days I got paid.

The reality is, while I no longer run a web design business, and have no desire to return to running a web design business, I do have a great deal of experience, skill and understanding about how to make websites work effectively for people and businesses.

And in moments of compassion and stupidity, I find myself offering to help people out as a favour.

Of course I regularly put my skills to use to help Maggie get her art business growing. As well as the main website, she has a newsletter people can sign up to, and monthly(ish) videos going up on YouTube, but that’s only to be expected.

But then I have a close friend who’s a poet. I’ve been telling him for ages he needs to get a website together. Unfortunately it seems I’ve now convinced him…

Then there was a hotel/restaurant I used to help in return for taking family and friends there for meals on the house. They moved, but have continued the arrangement with their new place. And the new owners of their old place also wish to carry on this way of doing things, but the person in charge of their web and emails is technically, er, timid. So I find myself spending an extra 5 minutes here and there sorting out wee things because it’s easy for me and impossible for her.

I did get paid for one website I recently worked on, although the amount of effort involved was far more than the amount being paid, but he’s a good friend and helps us in other ways, so I couldn’t charge him much.

I’ve also been teaching bits of web design to the son of another friend, who in return is giving Maggie a few lessons on the fiddle. Which is a great skill swap as far as I’m concerned.

On my recent trip to Wales, I met with up an old school friend. It turned out he’s had problems with his web designer charging him lots of money for a website that’s out of date, badly designed and has the wrong prices on everything. In a moment of nostalgic friendship I told him I could put up a basic, but effective page for him and scrap the rest of the site. Easy for me – I can do it in an hour or 2, but impossible for him as he has no idea how these things work. Which is why, of course, he was at the mercy of an overcharging web designer.

Then I got an email last week from another old friend I began creating a site for over 2 years ago, which then got shelved for various reasons. However he’s now thinking we need to blow the dust off it and kick start it again. “Any time,” I said.

A close friend of my stepdaughter set up her own business last year and I gave her various bits of advice and helped her get a basic page up. Of course I was quite clear she could call me any time she needs any help…

There is one possible paid project in the pipeline, although to be honest, I’m hoping they take plenty of time to decide as I feel I’ve got web stuff coming out of my ears at the moment.

And at some point, I desperately want to get round to sorting out and updating my own new photography website. What’s up at the moment is essentially a first draft. I know there are several things I need to change to turn it into the site I want it to be, but all these other web projects seem to be getting in the way.

And of course I don’t want to forget about posting on my blog, now do I?
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17 comments

Eryl Shields said...

It sounds like as well as having CFS you also have TBNS (Too Bloody Nice Syndrome). Seek medical help immediately.

Sini said...

hehee.. you sound like this friend of mine who does everybody's website for free.

He loves doing it, but everyone forgets the hosting charges too.. ;)

Jessie said...

awesome...I've been looking for a web designer for ages! just kidding - I agree with Eryl! :0)

Jimmy Bastard said...

It has to be a very good friend indeed before I will forget the shilling in exchange for the toil in these trying times.

savannah said...

i'm still laughing over eryl's comment, sugar! ;) xoxo

mapstew said...

You're a good man. Giving. Don't forget yourself.

Charlie said...

Sorry, but I can't top Eryl's comment.

PI said...

As far as working on web sites is concerned just thank the Lord you don't live near me:)
And whether you like it or not - you are a writer and a photographer.
How about doing a post on what you would charge for design etc.

Conan Drumm said...

Hardly a day passes without my getting an email from someone looking for a bit of the specialist info contained in my brain.

It doesn't seem to occur to them that I've spent some considerable time and effort getting that info in there. They seem to feel entitled to it, for free, and to use it for commercial gain and/or personal advancement.

I now very politely enquire if they are selling the info on, or if they intend crediting the source. This seems to stop them in their tracks, the bare-faced effrontery of it, and the ones after something for nothing tend not to respond.

Kim Ayres said...

Eryl - TBNS is a side effect of my constant battle against COBS (Crabby Old Bastard Syndrome) taking over.

Sini - sounds like your friend has gone a stage further into TAFS (Taken Advantage Of Syndrome)

Jessie - phew...

Jimmy - it depends on your fears, culture, history, upbringing, people around you and your emotional needs. Each of us is different in these respects :)

Savannah - aye, you can trust a philosopher to get straight to the heart of the matter

Mapstew - don't worry, I don't forget myself. In fact, it's one aspect of becoming the kind of person I want to be.

Charlie - with an opener like that, she runs the risk of frightening off other commenters :)

Pat - the problem of pricing web design is a good website is not about a specific number of pages and images, it's about whether it helps the objectives of the individual or business in the way they need the most.

I can no more state a price for a website in advance than I could answer a question like "how much does a house cost?" In order to answer properly, you must first find out how much the person has to spend, and what their requirements are. Only then can you begin to create a solution tailored for their needs.

Conan - I guess the difference for me with the web design is I have no desire to restart a web business. So if friends can benefit from my knowledge, which is otherwise sitting there going to waste, I'm happy to pass it on.

If it's for commercial use, or is going to be too time consuming, then that's a different matter

starrlife said...

TBNS, that's a good one! What a lovely skill to have too Kim! I rely on the wonderful templates graciously offered via the wordpress and/or blogger machines. And then I cheerfully hack along- but I would love to take a class and learn properly. Going to your photo website.

Mary Witzl said...

TBN syndrome it is. Lucky you that I don't need any more help; I've certainly been a recipient of your expertise.

Maggie's learning the fiddle? I can't wait to find out how she's doing. A lot better than I am, I'm betting...

Kim Ayres said...

Starrlife - if you can hack the codes and alter them, it's much easier than building from scratch

Mary - Maggie's still at the stage of bowing open strings. She's not started applying fingers to neck yet

Sarah said...

set up a paypal account, make a bit of extra money. i would pay you to design one for me, your photo site is AWESOME!

Kim Ayres said...

Sarah - thank you for your kind words about my photo site. I do have a paypal account set up, but you can always ask my advice for free :)

nursemyra said...

your photography website is beautiful - talented man indeed

Kim Ayres said...

Thank you for your kind words :)

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