Could you tell us a little about yourself – how did you get interested in web developing and ended up starting an online business?
Back in 2000, I had an idea in mind and I wanted to get a website that would show off my photography. All of the offers I received to get one developed for me were really expensive. A little too expensive in my opinion. This caused me to want to do it myself. So in April 2001, I launched my first website. It was popular for its genre at the time. But within a couple of years, I let the website go to focus on other things. I was starting a family and my career in another industry was really taking off. Over the years, I would build websites for others and as a hobby for myself. But it wasn’t until I was laid off from my job a few years back that I made it a full-time business for myself.
How did you come up with the idea of starting MySample. Website? Was there another site before?
There have been a few sites I’ve had over the years. Mainly, because it was stop-and-go with trying to build websites as a side hustle. This was because my focus was not fully with web design. Rather, my focus was on my career in another profession. Thus, I would often let the domains expire. My business has never come from people who just happened to find me on the web. It has always been through word of mouth.
As far as starting MySample.WEBSITE goes, honestly, www.kenhaskins.com is taken. I wanted to have a website that encompasses all that I believe in when it comes to web development. That includes tutorials, projects for my portfolio, and a place to talk about what matters to me.
The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with your domain name?
It took a while. I wish I would have held onto one or two of the domains I had in the early days of the internet, but hey, that’s life. When it comes to choosing the right domain name, a person should choose one that ultimately makes him/her happy and fits into what they are looking to achieve online. If not, you’ll be a domain hopper, because you’re never truly satisfied with the domain you have. Categorically, this is what I am.
Dot coms have overpopulated the internet these days. The days of finding one that’s short and sweet and memorable for a reasonable price and are gone. However, TLDs (Top Level Domains) provide another option when your dot com is not there. So I decided to go with .WEBSITE and see if I can increase its value and popularity.
What platform do you recommend and use?
I started out with Adobe Dreamweaver, which was a great platform to boost web development skills. But now I use Adobe Brackets, coding everything by hand. I also continue to educate myself with companies like Treehouse, which offers a variety of web development courses. This has increased my knowledge about web development exponentially and keeps me up-to-date.
Why did you pick this platform over the other options?
At one time, Dreamweaver did just about all the coding for me. As web development languages continue to evolve and expand, I need to do my part to keep up with it.
What’s your favorite misconception people tend to have about your line of work?
A major misconception is that most people feel that anybody can design websites. Unfortunately, many do-it-yourself websites advertise that developing a website is easy, but many of my clients have come to me out of frustration from using those platforms. Not to mention, the finished product often looks like “you did it yourself”.
What three pieces of advice would you give people looking to follow a similar path?
- I would say don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. If you really want to get into web development, just do it. Start out with family and friends if necessary.
- Build your portfolio and then spend the rest of your time marketing your skills. Business will come. Your job is now to sustain it.
- Continue to educate yourself in your craft. Web development continues to evolve. There is no place for contentment in our world.
Photos ©: Ken Haskins