Biggest fear when I started as a freelance #webdev 17 years ago: my skillset stagnating. Without co-workers in an office setting, I was afraid I wouldn’t gain the knowledge I needed to keep up. Quickly I discovered that wouldn’t be the case. Rather than being a hinderance to learning, working on my own has given me the necessary motivation to keep acquiring new skills.

Servicing clients is all about being “solutions based”. Rather than focusing on the “how” of a project, I focus on the “what” and “why”. Then I figure out how to get there.

I’ve learned a lot during my career, here’s a rundown of some of my favorite milestones:

Early ‘oughts: One of my first offerings as a web developer was my own custom Content Management System (CMS) written in PHP. It featured an interface for creating/editing pages and an extensible architecture. I built several clients’ sites with it.

Late ‘oughts: Around 2006 or ’07, some of my clients needed blogging functionality added to their sites. I started integrating early versions of WordPress as a module into my custom CMS. Eventually, WordPress became mature enough for me to use it for entire websites. Given my general coding background, I became proficient in writing WordPress themes and plugins.

2010: I got my first Mac. Having used PCs for years, switching to Mac opened a world of new development possibilities. I loved my software options, and I quickly became aquatinted with the MacOS command line. Getting comfortable on the CLI introduced me to:

  • Git
  • Linux server administration
  • Bash scripting

Lately: Earlier this year I started a web app project. The specs called for an interface for selecting parts from a catalog with over 2,500 parts. I soon realized it would require a UI with dynamically updating drop down options and more. This was a great application for ReactJS, so I spent a day working through some tutorials. By the end of it, I was proficient enough to proceed. Since that time, I’ve been coding in React most every day. In addition, I’ve written a companion WordPress plugin that provides a REST endpoint for my React app. The project requires a nice combination of all the skills I’ve referenced above.