Passion Seeking: What Web Development Taught Me
Are you in the midst of searching for your passion?
Here’s a [sort-of, not really] inspiring story about searching for my passion, and my decision to give freelance web development a try. But first, I’ll throw out a disclaimer that I have NOT pinpointed my passion. Rather, web development helped steer me in the right direction.
I believe we need more normal people speaking their truth. We’ve all heard an inspiring success story from the end result — from those who already achieved great success. For example, Will Ferrell recently spoke about his success story during his 2017 USC Commencement Speech.
As a 2017 college graduate, who was feeling pretty lost, quite frankly — there’s one quote in particular from Ferrell’s speech that resonated with me:
“I was just trying to throw as many darts at the dartboard, hoping that one would eventually stick”
— Will Ferrell on following his passion of comedy.
In this post, I’m going to discuss the first dart I threw at the dartboard — freelance web development. And for those intrigued by that market, check out How to Become a Web Developer in 10 Weeks; we won’t go in depth on the how to part in this post.
Now, before we dive in, let me provide a short background on what brought me to share this [sort-of, not really] inspiring story. I recently graduated from Arizona State University’s online program, and my degree had absolutely nothing to do with web development whatsoever. I earned a bachelor of science degree in communication studies.
So what the heck brought me to web development?
Back in March, I was pumped when I completed my final exam, yet at the same time — I felt uneasy. Why, though? I had just reached an important milestone in my life. And according to the real world, I was now considered qualified for jobs that I wouldn’t have been considered a worthy candidate for prior to earning that elusive piece of paper (i.e., my college diploma). Which, by the way, is so ridiculous; but that’s beside the point.
The point is, I felt uneasy because I don’t know what my passion is yet. And I can’t speak for everyone on this, but I imagine a handful of my millennial peers can relate.
How are we supposed to start a career before we’ve discovered our passion? Simple, start doing — try something new!
I figured, what’s the worst thing that can happen if I take an alternative approach? You know, opposed to the ordinary mindset of applying for jobs the moment I finish school. If I was ever going to experiment with self-employment ideas, then now is the best time to do it.
First, I decided to audit myself. Where do I see myself in, say, five years down the road? Something that had always intrigued me was the digital nomad lifestyle. But for that to be possible, I would need to create sustainable income stream(s) to support living remote. I wasn’t entirely set on pursuing that journey, but auditing my current frame of mind led me to try things that align with a nomadic way of life.
At first, I published a couple research-based articles on my Medium account, since writing is something I do well — or so I’ve been told. I wrote a third article, but before hitting publish this time, I figured that it would be smart to invest in my own website to publish written content — or any content, for that matter.
So, like any logical person in 2017, I asked Google: How do I make a website?
After querying this topic for some time, I learned that building a website isn’t rocket science nowadays. And no, I’m not talking about using pre-made templates like Wix or Squarespace. I wanted more control — not only for my website, but also for a new idea.
I didn’t just take up web development as a newfound hobby. Rather, I submerged myself in the entire business of building a digital presence (with an emphasis on learning to build websites).
And by submerge, I mean working as if web development already was my true passion.
I approached the market with a competitive mindset — going all-in for the next 10 weeks. But before I got too carried away, I needed answers to some basic questions.
- What’s the best web hosting solution?
- Which content management system should I use?
- Which theme templates are the best for a novice?
As mentioned, I won’t go in depth on the how to part right now. Let’s just say that YouTube was my best friend for the next 10 weeks; it answered these questions, and helped solve many more dilemmas along the way (i.e., which plugins to install, basic SEO questions, Google Analytics integration, etc.). There’s in depth tutorials for pretty much everything on YouTube, so there’s no reason to say, “I can’t,” given the infinitely growing amount of information at our disposal.
So anyways, once I tackled those basic items, I needed to consider some greater questions, like:
- How do I build a brand from scratch?
- How does a freelance web developer generate sustainable business?
I chose VenturePure for my brand name, as in purifying business ventures through brand-tailored web design (I know, it’s pretty corny). The next step — downloading Photoshop and creating my own logo — wasn’t necessary, but I was able to acquire a [very] basic Photoshop skill-set. Next, I made the first version of VenturePure.com, which sucked. The next version sucked, too. Once I started to get the hang of it, I reached out to a buddy of mine, Reid. He went to school for audio engineering, and he’s also a recording artist; I figured he wouldn’t mind a free website.
Yes, a free website — there was no need to be concerned with money at this time.
As a true novice, experience was my only concern. Luckily for me, Reid said he could use two websites — one for his personal brand as a recording artist, and one for engineering, production, and publishing services. Not only was this valuable web development experience, it was valuable client interaction experience as well. But most importantly, I now had work to showcase in my VenturePure portfolio.
Next, I created ad content on Photoshop, and planned an ad campaign that would target recent college grads, and I wrote a blog post that aligned with my content. However, before I got too carried away, I took my extra web development experience, and recreated a fourth version of VenturePure.com. During that time, I reflected on the last 10 weeks. I asked myself:
Would I be happy doing this each day for the rest of my life?
My honest answer was no. I needed to trust my intuition and wrap things up. I completed the fourth and final version of VenturePure.com, so I had something to show for my hard work. And here I am right now, documenting my story from a personal website I chose to make.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy building websites — it’s certainly interesting.
I’m attracted to all things digital, but building an entire brand SOLELY around web development was not something that tickled my senses. There’s a difference between our interests and that one thing we have true passion for. I chose to try something new, and ultimately found devoting my life’s work to freelance web development isn’t within my best interest. Call it a failure if that’s how you see it.
Here’s some of the benefits of my failure:
For starters, I’ve developed a commoditized skill in being able to build and manage a website. And thus, I can offer freelance web development moving forward — just as a side hustle, instead. It’s never bad to acquire new skill set(s) that generate supplemental income, right?
Correct, although that’s merely a bonus; this attempt to locate my passion served a far greater purpose. Originally, I was intrigued by freelance web development, but it felt like another dart to throw at the dartboard. Little did I know, I exposed myself to far more than web development alone. Let’s consider some of its’ real-world applications — aside from building websites. The list below includes a few:
- Business development
- SEO (search engine optimization).
After taking another moment to reflect, I realized networking, business development, marketing, and SEO were the aspects that generated excitement within me throughout my experience. I may not have pinpointed a particular industry where my passion lies, but I definitely have a better idea of what type of jobs draw my interest.
And perhaps the most important benefit of all is that I have this story, which [I hope] will provide some value to at least one person who reads it.
We learn so much about ourselves when we try something new. I came to find that any type of solo freelance work isn’t within best interest for me personally, since there wasn’t enough human interaction. How was I supposed to know that if I never threw that dart at the dartboard, though?
The one message I hope everyone can take away from my [sort-of, not really] inspiring story is that we have absolutely nothing to lose and everything in the world to gain by simply deciding to try something new.
Thanks for reading my friend.