Advice on moving into a web development career

Express the business side of your digital lives. Share your experiences and/or your comments regarding a business or organization.

No advertising.

Moderator: General Moderators

User avatar
Chris Corbyn
Breakbeat Nuttzer
Posts: 13098
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 7:57 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Advice on moving into a web development career

Post by Chris Corbyn »

Hi,

I'm looking for some advice on where to get some useful information moving into a web development career working on both the programming side of things with PHP/JavaScript/MySQL and the design side of things with Photoshop and CorelDRAW.

I finished Uni in July 2004, studying unrelated subjects (Chemistry and Geology) and have been working for EDS as an IT Helpdesk agent since then. I'm no longer interested in neither Chemistry nor Geology and I know this is what I would love to do as a great career. I spend most of my spare time at home and at work doing my personal web design projects so to do it as a career would suit me down to the ground.

What would be the best way into the career? Working for a large company to gain some experience or going freelance? How difficult is it to maintain a steady income and what kind of salary ranges could be expected? I'm currently only earning £13,000 GBP (plus tax) in a year.

Do employers require that you have web design related qualifications or is mainly portfoloio based?

There's allsorts of things I could ask but I just need to know where to look and where to start. I really want to make this move....

Thanks for any help offered :-)
User avatar
onion2k
Jedi Mod
Posts: 5263
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 5:03 pm
Location: usrlab.com

Post by onion2k »

There aren't any real web development qualifications beyond ones that cost a heck of a lot. Theres the Zend PHP certification thing, I've never heard of an employer who would give a job to a candidate with that over one without it. Its all about your URLs. Its more important to get sites finished and online than a portfolio of pretty designs and fancy code. I would recommend trying to get a few freelance jobs together so that you've got some sites you can show employers, and then try to move into a junior web dev role.
User avatar
Chris Corbyn
Breakbeat Nuttzer
Posts: 13098
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 7:57 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Chris Corbyn »

Thanks. I was thinking of just going around a few businesses and kinda saying that I'm looking to move into a career in Development so I'd do them a website for practically nothing explaining that it would be useful to me since I could build a portfolio and it would also bring extra business the company. Not sure if it's a bit too off-putting just cold calling though... then there's the tax side of it too if it's all to be above board.

You earn far less money working for a web design company right? But then you run the risk of business drying out at times if you go freelance...

I wouldn't really know what to charge neither. I'd base it on difficulty as opposed to time spent (the more MySQL and PHP involved the more it costs). Roughly speaking, a week's solid work (10-12 hrs per day) costing £400 - £500 (incl VAT). Is this too high?
timvw
DevNet Master
Posts: 4897
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:11 pm
Location: Leuven, Belgium

Post by timvw »

this is how i would calculate my price per hour

1-) Find out how much you want to earn netto in a month (X)
2-) Add taxes and other expenses (Y, but usually that becomes 2*Y)
3-) Determine how much hours you want to work in a month (fe: 32 * 4)
4-) X + 2 * Y = 32 * 4 -> X = (32 * 4) - 2 * Y

5-) Find out how much a customer is actually willing to pay (P) , and see if you can find a compromise between P and X
User avatar
feyd
Neighborhood Spidermoddy
Posts: 31559
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 3:24 pm
Location: Bothell, Washington, USA

Post by feyd »

Moved to The Enterprise.
User avatar
Chris Corbyn
Breakbeat Nuttzer
Posts: 13098
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 7:57 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Chris Corbyn »

Hmmm... I'll just decipher your equation there.... :? BTW, do you find it hard to keep business coming in?
User avatar
John Cartwright
Site Admin
Posts: 11470
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2003 2:10 am
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Post by John Cartwright »

About 85% of my business is in my area.
And I do have a lot of it that I turn down because I am only 1 human with 2 arms.

What I like to do is send out proposals to as many businesses in my area as possible, especially well established ones. In my experience the larger sites tend to have a lesser quality sites, so they are my main target. Although keep an open mind on all projects. Before you know it, you will be commissioning off your work to other people because you are so busy :P

The main reason I like working with people in person because it is a lot easier figuring out precisely what they want, and can generally get in contact them a lot easier, as to someone in a different time zone.
User avatar
Chris Corbyn
Breakbeat Nuttzer
Posts: 13098
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 7:57 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Chris Corbyn »

Everyone makes it sound really easy to get the business but there's a part of me which shouts "Don't quit your job!... business will run dry and you'll have no money". When you send proposals to businesses do you do this in writing or by telephone?

Kinda send a CV/Resume and a list of URL's or a URL of a portfolio along with rough prices and contact info?

It's exciting to think that for once I could actually be making money from something I enjoy...

Then once you have a client interested do you need to get them to provide you with the documentation on what it should include and a bunch of photo's etc to work with? or do you pop around with a digital camera and do the photography yourself to some extent? - I guess you just go with whatever the client wants you to do within reason?
timvw
DevNet Master
Posts: 4897
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:11 pm
Location: Leuven, Belgium

Post by timvw »

At this point i've only got 2- 3 very good customers. (More than enough to fill my spare time and pay the beers @ uni) They seem to feed me with interesting coding challenges time after time :) (not strictly php).

If i were you i would keep my job at first. And see if you can find some happy customers (And handle them after your day-job). If you experience there is more potential, you could consider giving up your dayjob, but in that case you don't jump in a black hole (meaby i'm too conservative for that matter)

From what i've experienced untill now it's essential to build a good network (at uni, at whatever organisation). This way people come to you, or get directed to you. I guess this is the same in all environments.....
User avatar
onion2k
Jedi Mod
Posts: 5263
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 5:03 pm
Location: usrlab.com

Post by onion2k »

d11wtq wrote:Roughly speaking, a week's solid work (10-12 hrs per day) costing £400 - £500 (incl VAT). Is this too high?
Err.. if you're charging £500/week for approx 60 hours work you're grossly under charging.
User avatar
feyd
Neighborhood Spidermoddy
Posts: 31559
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 3:24 pm
Location: Bothell, Washington, USA

Post by feyd »

yeah.. that does sound a bit cheap..
User avatar
Chris Corbyn
Breakbeat Nuttzer
Posts: 13098
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 7:57 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Chris Corbyn »

Wow... so what's reasonable? I say 10-12 hrs because I generally work in a loose way, spending a lot of time thinking about how to do things before I implement it and I would spend this kind of time on my own projects over the weekend at the moment. is this a "grey-area"... something other developer's would not wish to discuss among themselves?
User avatar
feyd
Neighborhood Spidermoddy
Posts: 31559
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 3:24 pm
Location: Bothell, Washington, USA

Post by feyd »

10-12 hrs per day is a lot for most people.. especially in a 5+ day week.. However, you may be completely comfortable with doing such a load for quite some time, I don't know... but that only equates to around £8.33 per hour.. my going rate is around $120 per hour (around £40 :?:). PITA factor gets a ++..

Now I do provide everything they need, not just code. So at just code, it may be down to... £10-20 per hour.. likely, closer to 20.. depends on the factors.. PITA, doing something new, programming language(s) needed, server setup, all kinds of stuff..
User avatar
Chris Corbyn
Breakbeat Nuttzer
Posts: 13098
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 7:57 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Chris Corbyn »

That sounds fantastic but in all seriousness I'm not wanting to move this direction for the extra cash (although it's a big bonus)... it purely is because it's something I enjoy and anybody who loves their job will be a lot happier than somebody who doesn't...

Do you ever dislike your job? I don't just mean for an hour or two while you get stressed over something that isn't working, I mean would ever want to do anything else?
User avatar
feyd
Neighborhood Spidermoddy
Posts: 31559
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 3:24 pm
Location: Bothell, Washington, USA

Post by feyd »

I've moved in and out of the web industry a few times, but I not stepped outside of programming work much. I love programming, and probably always will... if not work, than hobbie. My advice is don't just limit your learning to web programming.. learn other languages that can be used outside the industry.. like Java, C, and the like..
Post Reply