Like children, websites need a village.
Let’s be honest. All of us as web developers are frail, imperfect beings just like the rest of the world. The difference is that there is an aura around “tech” that makes clients and non-developers think that we perform magic. Because code seems like Chinese to folks, it seems like we have super powers. And that perception turns inward back on ourselves and we begin to think or feel that we have to live up to the perception.
Over the last few projects I’ve worked on, I was faced with a certain and undeniable fact: My skills are limited, and my time is extremely restricted, and I’m not as disciplined as I’d like.
This is not a “poor me” confession, or some sort of self-deprecating ritual that is unrealistic or unfair to myself. No. I actually have a healthy amount of personal confidence. Instead, this is me deciding forever that I want to build sites that take a village specifically because I am limited.
The way I see it, I will do my clients a much better service when I am truthful about my skills and limitations. I will spend my time more wisely when I know that a task is beyond me and can quickly turn it over to someone I know can handle it.
But what I often find in my network of web developer friends is that they often suffer from the same over-hyped sense of having to be the end-all-be-all of web development. If I ask: “Can you do this task?” They’ll respond “Not yet!” as if they are Trinity in the Matrix and will just download the skills into their cerebrum and move on.
No friends. Good websites take a village. Good web developers know that. Freelancers, like myself, need community and support. We need to reach out to others, build networks, make connections, and do so without a second thought of competition or rivalry.
In that vein, I want to point some of you to some folks who have been my informal village for quite a while. They shouldn’t be invisible. They shouldn’t just get byline credits for my work. I honestly should be paying them a retainer because they benefit me that much (don’t take this too literally friends!).
This group, by itself, has pushed me in a shorter time than I think any other tool or service I’ve previously come across. This group is probably the most dense village of learning and advancement I’ve come across on the web. It’s amazing to me what people can do in a simple Facebook thread. And that some of the main powerhouses of the WordPress world will stroll through there as well and chime in like another simple neighbor of the village. To AWP: Thank you!
Adam McLane is doing amazing work for youth throughout the U.S. by equipping Youth Leaders through his gangbusting blog (have you read his post on SnapChat? No? Well 4 million other did!), and through the Youth Cartel. They have taken me under their wing and pushed me to do more and be more. Adam thinks I’m the talented one — he’s the first one I fooled!
Heather has a heart of gold and a laser focus on making her clients’ lives better. We’ve worked together on various odd jobs. She works so well with others, and always provides insightful and constructive feedback. I want to be like her when I grow up!
Devin is doing amazing work over at WordImpress. His blog is a go-to for me for resources and insight and tools. He’s also just a really great guy to chat with, and he’s never bothered by my novice plugin development questions (trust me, they are truly novice questions!).
And Last but not Least:
Adam Warner and Brad Vincent of FooPlugins.com. Yes, they’re technically my “bosses”, but our work environment is always so congenial and so egalitarian that there’s never a thought to any issues related to heirarchy at all. We each serve such very different but vital purposes at Foo and that is always valued and respected. Plus, they really want and ARE doing great stuff that pushes me into new fields and are lifting the bar with full belief that I’ll reach it. To the “FooDudes”: Thank you!
Who’s Your Village?
This is just a glimpse of my little village. I could write paragraphs more about Chris Perryman, Ansel Taft, David Jesch, Matt Conkle, Stephanie Hellwig, Cricket Wilson-Harris, Rob Rusnak, Nick Ciske… it’s a long list, it’s a big village. But the bottom line is that it’s a village that makes me better. If you are a freelancer, I encourage you to find your village. Be vulnerable, be realistic about your skills and their infancy, be brave in your friendships and networking, and never work with folks who don’t feel like they want to be in your village. They’re just not worth it.
I wrote most of this post using 750words.com. It’s a really motivating tool to help you to write at least 750 words every day. You can read an analysis of this post here.