Webmaster career

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Hi all.  I am am IT student currently striving for my BS and I'm
looking to go into the field of being a webmaster or web developer.  I
was just wondering if anyone in the group had any helpful hints or
suggestions for someone considering going in that direction.  Any
information will be greatly appreciated!!

Re: Webmaster career

Fleeing from the madness of the http://groups.google.com jungle
and said:

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How do you do?

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Suggestions there will (possibly) be a-plenty - it's up to you to judge  
whether they are indeed helpful.

There are three modes of gainful employment ...

Large organisation
small specialist firm
on your own

each has benefits and the other stuff

without knowing which route you intend to take I can't think of anything  
more useful than to suggest you get in some real world experience of site  

William Tasso

whither a trophy?

Re: Webmaster career

To answer your question: I am choosing this career path because I
actually was in school studying to be an RN, but I have a heart
condition and this prevented me from doing a lot of the clinical work.
I realized I was going to have to lean towards a career with less
physical activity and I've always been interested in computers,
specifically web design and coding. But I am getting the impression
this may not be the best field to go into ... just wondering as to why
that may be.  I would appreciate any honest answers including job
demand, pay, stress ect.  And if I continue going from an IT degree, if
another area may be better to strive for.  Once again, any information
will be great!!
Thanks again,

Re: Webmaster career

Hoppy wrote

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Hi Lyndsey.

I'm guessing you are young and at the start of your career.  If so, it's
never a bad idea to get a degree.  You certainly don't need one to do
web design but it can stand you in good stead in later life.

I think you have the best quality for doing web design, i.e you are
interested in it.  If you do something that interests you, and you
enjoy, then you should do well in it.

There are a lot of people doing web design, but just looking at local
businesses around me, I am convinced that there is a LOT of potential
work out there.  Not just "brochure" sites, but ecommerce database-
driven sites.

You could have the best of both worlds, do your degree, and do web
design in your spare time.

I don't do work for other people, but from reading this group for a
number of years I would say that it is very important not to sell
yourself short.  And of vital importance is getting a VERY CLEAR
agreement with the customer as to what EXACTLY they are paying for, and
what they will get from you, particularly with regard to future updates.

Getting paid can be a problem, but this is not unique to web design.  I
think some people take half payment in advance, or will not release
certain work until full payment has been received.  Others can offer
advice on this.

If you enjoy the subject, are motivated, can get off your arse and knock
on doors (the most important bit) then there's no reason why you can't

Charles Sweeney

Re: Webmaster career

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Here is a constructive and serious suggestion for someone in your
situation: I would highly recommend a carrer as a farrier; good money,
hours you set yourself, no lack of demand, little competition,
non-stressful, and you won't need to pay for a health-club membership.


Re: Webmaster career

On 24 Feb 2006 14:47:10 -0800, Hoppy put finger to keyboard and typed:

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Start by creating websites. Lots of them. Do one for your hobby, one
for yourself, one for your friends, one for your church, your schoool,
your football club, your neighbourhood - you get the idea. If you want
paid work as a web developer, you need as big a portfolio as you can
get before applying for jobs.

For a different approach, don't overlook the possibility of getting a
job in general IT, but where you can then become an in-house web
author. Lots of companies employ IT staff, but often outsource website
creation. Prove to your employer that you can do as a good a job as
the external designers, and then work your way into a position where
you are the in-house webmaster (in addition to your other IT
responsibilities such as checking that the CEO's computer is plugged
in correctly when he complains that it isn't working!). That's
actually how I did it - started off in technical support, then support
management, created websites for use by the support team and to
provide information to customers, eventually ended up writing HTML and
Perl full-time as part of the development team and then left to write
HTML, Perl and PHP elsewhere. Now I do primarily PHP programming as
part of my day job, and create websites on anything else that
interests me in my spare time.

Visit: http://www.OrangeHedgehog.com - Useful stuff for the web
Listen: http://www.goodge.go.uk/files/dweeb.mp3 - you'll love it!

Re: Webmaster career


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I've never met a "webmaster" who was really a master of everything.
There's a big split between those who operate a turnkey service for
customers (often one webmaster doing _everything_, including sales) and
the corporate world, either bigger web shops or in-house work, where
there's much more of a split between roles. The bigger the projects, the
more people specialise.

So where do you want to be ?  Specialise in one field and that leads you
almost inevitably to bigger companies. Want to work for yourself and
you're going to have to be a generalist. Personally my own stuff is
back-end coding (J2EE) and so almost non of it is even visible to the
web at large - it's all hidden away on intranets or in call centres.

Running your own web design shop, even at the smallest scale, is more
about running a media service company than it is about technical skills.
This is a lot of the reason behind the continuing succes of poor design,
and the fact that a good tehnical product is no guarantee of success.

Re: Webmaster career

Thank you all so much for the helpful replies.  I really do appreciate

Re: Webmaster career

Hoppy wrote

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Good luck.  Do pop by again.

Charles Sweeney

Re: Webmaster career

Hi Lyndsey,

If you are looking at going into web design I would highly recommend
you get the degree, but try to at least minor in computer science or
computer studies rather than just IT.  You will find that these basic
programming courses that are usually required for Computer Science will
give you all of the core programming concepts useful in any web
development language (Perl, Python, PHP, ColdFusion, etc).

If your school offers basic and advanced HTML courses take them.  But
while you take them make sure that you validate every page through
www.W3C.org.  You will find that you will gain more from using W3C.org
to validate every page you make than you will from your actual HTML
courses.  Especially if you come to understand W3C standards for XHTML,
CSS, XML, etc.

After you have beginning and advanced HTML down you should look into
web specific languages (I recommend ColdFusion which is usually
available at many colleges, but if not look into some ASP or .net
courses).  Personally I never leaned towards the .net or asp
technologies but I have yet to see a PHP course taught at a collegiate
level.  Anyway, the main thing is to gain skills in at least one
language that allows for dynamic content and database interaction.

I have been doing web development for eight years and my wife has been
doing graphic design for the last three and has earned her degree in
digital communication.  Honestly, as others have said, the degree isn't
required for the work, but it will benefit you when you compete against
someone who doesn't have one (either for an interview for a specific
company or freelancing when competing against other for-hire people).

How you want to use web development and design skills is completely up
to you.  I work for a company full-time as a contractor and then I have
my own LLC on the side that I do for my "free-lance" work per se.

Hope this helps,


Re: Webmaster career

Shaddo-X wrote:
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While you're at it, look over the discussions about school/college
training on the archives of this NG - a lot of schools are somewhat
lacking on the teaching of real-world skills and/or solid hand-coding
skills, which will serve you well upon graduation. I'm not saying don't
go to school, but be aware that there are limitations, and pursue
educating yourself.

You've already made a good start by coming here...

Re: Webmaster career

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Just a quick reply, instead of my usual 5 or 6 page essays on a subject
(probably just 3-4 pages):

When going into the field of web design there are generally main 3 paths you
can take:  Web/IT Department Employee, working for a web design company, or
freelance web developer.

1) Web/IT Department Employee.
- You work for a big company, maintaining and updating its website.
- You answer to a manager who answers to his/her manager who answers to...
and so on
- Usually you need a degree or other higher level education to land this
kind of job... and work experience.
- Can be a good paying job, usually unionized or part of a CBA.
- These jobs can be hard to get.  There aren't many out there and you have
to compete with those already in the union or part of the CBA.
- You'll always have the fear that your department will be downsized at any
moment and your job will be outsourced to a company in India.

2) Web Design Company.
- You work for a company that does web design.
- You don't have to do sales, they have somebody for sales (see #3 "Self
Employed" below)
- You don't have to be a "jack of all trades".  These companies usually want
somebody who can do 1 or 2 aspects of web development and is very good at
- Can be a fun environment.  Most IT companies are pretty good to work for.
- Per the previous point: If they are "too fun" and turn out to be a bunch
of goof offs fooling around all day then don't be surprised when you hear
the words "Sales have been down and we don't have enough work... I'm afraid
I'm going to have to lay you off for a few months until we get more work
coming in"
- If you've been freelancing and have alot of contracts for hosting and
maintenance of sites in place they'll usually want you to sign them over
before you can start working... the big caution here is:  watch that you
don't sign over $1000-1500 a month in revenue to land a $2500-3000 a month
job and then get laid off in a couple of weeks because it turns out they
didn't need you (they aren't going to give your contracts back to you)
- If the company merges with another company (which does happen alot with
smaller web companies pooling resources) you could find yourself out of work
pretty quick.

3) Self employed.
- This is where you pretty much go out and design websites for other people.
- Being self employed can be 90% sales and only 10% web design.  Doesn't
matter if you are the greatest programmer or designer in your city... if you
can't make the sales then you won't get any work.
- If your business plan is going to be:  finish school, set up portfolio
website on net, wait for jobs to come rolling in.  Then you might as well
save yourself the time being wasted going to school and just drop out and go
get a job at Starbucks now.
- If you read the previous and thought "business plan?  I'm talking about
just designing websites from home" then this might not be for you.  You
might see this is as something you are just doing from home, but its a
business and you have to treat it like that: pay your taxes, issues invoices
and receipts, keep proper bookeeping, etc.
- ITS ALL ABOUT YOU.  If you are a goof off or lack the focus/desire to see
things through then you are going to fail horribly.  There isn't going to be
anybody to pick up the pieces if you screw up and your clients aren't going
to be too keen giving you a second chance if you screw around with them.
- REALLY!  ITS ALL ABOUT YOU.  If this is your whole bread and butter, then
if you aren't working you aren't eating or paying rent.  This goes back to
the whole "sales" thing... you need to network, advertise and make sales to
make money.
- You need to do just about everything... anything you can't do you usually
have to pay somebody else to do for you, and that affects your bottom line.

Basically you'll note that these jobs are very similar, but at the same time
very different.

They each have their "pros" and "cons" and none of them are "the best way to
do it"

Just as all can be "smooth sailing" and "easy going" they can all also be
stressful in their own way (dealing with bosses, working under pressure to
meet tight deadlines, wondering where next months rent is coming from)

These are not the definitive categories of jobs in the web design business:
- You might be a web programmer and you contract yourself out to other web
- You might work for yourself... where you design and develop a website that
makes money through advertising or other revenue.
- You might just go into web hosting, rather than actual design and
development of sites.
- You might go "freelance", but instead of selling a website to somebody,
you find someone who has a site already and convince them its time to
upgrade the site.

    For myself, when I started in the field I considered myself an
"Application Service Provider".  Basically, instead of finding a customer
and then building them a website... I would instead build a website first
and then find customers to buy it.  Nowadays I just do online ordering for
restaurants, which came about from the same business model:  I designed an
online ordering system for restaurants and started selling it.  Eventually I
realised that there is over 1,000,000 restaurants in North America and thats
a pretty big target market.... so I soon just started spending all my time
on this and it became full time.

If you go the freelance route (which you probably will off the start to
develop a portfolio) a big thing I would reccomend is to not let any money
get away from you that you can hold on to.  An example would be:  after you
sell somebody a website, don't just say "I reccomend 'GoDaddy.com' for your
domain name and ABC Hosting for your web hosting needs".  YOU should be
hosting that site and selling him that domain name.

You might think "Pfft... its only going to be what, $10-20 a month in
income?  Who cares?"   But in time it adds up... $10-20 a month off each
site doesn't mean much when you have 1 or 2 sites under your belt, but if
you get 25, 50, 100 or more... it can really start to add up to a decent
regular income on top of what you can make doing your regular web design
work - plus it keeps your customers as your customers... so they'll come
back to you for revisions, improvements and upgrades to their sites.

Hope that helps, good luck

Re: Webmaster career

Hoppy wrote:
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Hello Lidsay,

Glad to hear you're considering web design. As some other folks
mentioned already, knowing in what capacity you want to do web design
work is important, whether you want to work for an employer or run your
own business. The direction you go in your education can vary depending
on your ultimate goals.

In my opinion, the most important element to actually getting work in
this industry is experience. Education to employers or clients is often
meaningless if you can show them you do good work.

So, I would focus on getting as much practical experience as you can.
Design a lot of web sties. Copy other web sites to learn how they do
what they do. Build an impressive portfolio. Focus on technical
education only as a way to improve the level of experience you get from

I wish you the best of luck, it's a fun job if you can get the work you
need to stay aflot financially.

Chris S.
Implied By Design LLC.
Free Web Design Tools

Re: Webmaster career

posted something that included:

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That's a pretty big "if", when it comes to employers. (Clients are a
different matter.)

Education is often used to pre-screen candidates. The guy with a BS or
BA, majoring in volleyball, will pass the first screening, and at that
point, his work experience will be evaluated. If you don't have the
degree, they won't even notice that you're fantastic.


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