This is a topic that has recently intrigued me. I will be gearing this post towards the web industry but I believe it extends to many industries out there.
The other day I was asked if I knew of any talented web people that would be interested in joining a company. This is a question I have gotten a few times, and usually respond in a similar fashion. Do you need contract work or in-house? They stated that it was for an in-house position. My immediate thought usually is ‘Good luck with that’. There are plenty of challenges that you have to overcome as a small rural company to get skilled labour, especially in-house. I’m not talking about your standard content entry or junior level designers; I’m talking about your senior designers/developers, and project managers. Below I have broken down a few of the challenges that I have seen from experience.
Skilled Labour Availability
The problem that all rural companies cannot avoid is the limited number of workers nearby. In a big urban center you just simply have more people to choose from. People generally want to live close to where they work if they can.
The other factor is the skill level of those workers around you. In a rural setting you don’t have universities, and colleges to train your bright local talent. The problem isn’t that there is no talent locally, they just generally move onto the urban centers. This is another reason why there are so many local self-taught junior designers available, but very few with any experience.
One other note I want to make here is about the web industry as a whole (at least in my local area). There seems to be a lack of young people pursuing our industry. This seems strange given the fact that technology is so integrated into our daily lives (iPhones, iPods, game consoles, computers). Why is it that students don’t think our industry is viable? Seems that it is still being perceived as a hobby and not a job. This could be a blog post on its own, so I will stop the rambling here.
The Freelancer Mindset / Commuting To Work
In this industry we have the freedom to work wherever we want, as we are constantly connected. We can work at a coffee shop, a buddies place, at home as well as many other places. This makes travelling to a confined office all the more difficult. All companies no matter where they are located have this “freelancer mindset” to fight against.
I believe this mindset is what separates industrial businesses from the web business. People understand that going to the shop is a necessity for physical labour, but a web company will always be pushed to allow the employee to work from home.
I know where these people are coming from, because I am of the same mindset. Even if a company was a 5 minute drive away, would I really want to give up my freedom of working from home? That makes me think of how all the more difficult it would be to attract someone from further away.
Offering Competitive Salaries
Often times negotiations come down to money. It is a known fact that city companies usually charge more than rural companies. This is for good reason as cost of living is a lot higher. This is why it would almost seem backwards for someone to live in the city and commute outside of it for work; their cost of living would be higher and generally their salary would be lower. A lot of city companies can offer “base” salaries at the same level as rural companies can hire “senior” positions.
Now that I have outlined some of the many challenges that hiring poses to rural companies; I have made a list of a few things you can do to attract these high quality workers.
Frankly, rural companies have one big thing going for them that city companies don’t. This is a lack of competition in their local area. I know personally in my area there are maybe 2-3 other rural companies that I know about, but we are all very spread out and tend to not overlap too much in the work we do.
Take this as opposed to an urban center where you have a lot of big companies pitching for the same work.
I don’t want this post to come across as negative. We all make choices about where we work/live. The point of this article is to help other companies that face the same challenges, and see what suggestions are out there.
I want rural companies to succeed, and attract the highest quality workers. The web is not limited to geography, and that is one of its strengths. There is nothing stopping anyone from being the next big web shop, or the next big freelancer. You just have to know what challenges you face, and how to overcome them.
Please use the following questions to start a discussion below, and hopefully we can improve this industry for all of us!
Below I have added a video for all of you trying to use Yeoman on windows and getting a weird Git error when you are trying to install something. Eg. yeoman install backbone.
The simple solution is adding the bin directory to your windows PATH variable. For me that path is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin”. For you it could be a bit different.
This fix gets me past the initial error but there still seems to be an issue with the bower package manager. It wipes out the scripts and doesn’t get added to the components directory. I noticed it does create the backbone files in my user’s roaming folder, but seems like the issue is copying it from here to the project folder. Initial thought was maybe the “read-only” could be a problem but not sure. What are your ideas? Have you found a fix?
This topic actually came about one day when I was going for a walk following a crazy workday. I could just feel my mind racing, and my brain just wouldn’t shut off. The workday was over, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about work. In the following article I am going to try and break down the mind of myself, and in turn those who spend their time working on the internet. I hope some of you out there can relate to this “fragmented mindset”.
I am guessing most of you have websites for your business already; but the real question is whether or not it is producing quality leads for your business. You don’t just put a website up, and it magically generates customers. Avoiding the following pitfalls will help ensure you get the most out of your website.
Your website could be the best thing out there, but if people can’t find it; it won’t matter. Google search is the primary source for internet traffic, and as such requires a lot of attention. Optimally you want your business on the first page of your targeted keywords. These targeted keywords are not just your business name, but also your products. One thing I get asked a lot is “How do I get to the top of Google?”. Well the short answer is content, content, content; but the long answer is that you have to continually work at it. Don’t try and hack your way to the top, Google will find you if you content is interesting enough. I could expand way more into the whole SEO realm, but I will instead link you to an article titled Five SEO Writing Tips for Your Blog or Website.
Social media is another key traffic source that you should be leveraging. Twitter and Facebook is a great way for you to develop a following. Take a look at the following Facebook-vs-Twitter infographic from 2010 that shows some staggering statistics. 500 million total users on facebook alone. 41% of those users login everyday. Tell me this is not a place you want to market your brand. Now I should also note here that this is hard work. You can’t simply create an account an expect people to want to follow/like you. ENGAGE!
Lastly a quick note that really is the easiest for you to implement right now. If you aren’t already, link your physical business to your online presence. Put you web address on newsletters, business cards, signs, decals, etc.. You probably already have traditional marketing in place, so why not use that to further help your online marketing.
Do you update your content? And if you do, how often? You need to find some way to get people coming back. If your visitor comes back to your site in a month, does the homepage have some updated content? I argue that a site that doesn’t get updated is almost as bad as not having one. The following are a couple suggestions to keep things looking fresh:
Making things interactive and fun never hurts. I don’t want to read pages and pages of content, I want to enjoy interacting with the content.
Design is a big part of your first impression. I don’t know about you, but when surfing the web I make a split second decisions all the time. Did you know the most clicked button on a browser is the “Back” button? I will hit the back button if something doesn’t grab my attention in that split second. The website could have outstanding content, but if the design is ugly I will go elsewhere.
On the other end of the spectrum you need to ensure that your design isn’t too flashy. You may have heard of “Minimalist Design”. All that means is that the layout is simple. You don’t need animations and flashing text to get people’s attention. Sometimes the subtle effects are way nicer.
Keeping your website focused is a huge task. On the web it is so easy to multi-task and do as many cool things as you can. Always keep in mind what your end goal is. This end goal should always result in $$$. Doing something cool and/or fun doesn’t always bring you leads. Focus on getting users to your contact page, or your online store, or maybe to your paid content. The less steps it takes to get here the better. I’m not going to click 4 different links to get to your store. Just give me one large button that directs me.
One of the hardest things to test is the usability of your website. There is so much you need to be aware of, and understand about your users. What also makes it more difficult is that every website has a different target audience.
Some of these points are taken from Steve Krug’s – Don’t Make Me Think. Man I love that book!
Have more ideas on how to produce website leads? Hit the comments with your suggestions, and thoughts on the article.
I am guessing most of you freelancers out there have not asked yourself this question recently; but I think that it is important. When you have been employed for a number of years, or owned your own business for awhile you forget how far you have come.
If I take myself as an example, I can see how much I have grown as a developer since I started. The problem I have is that I am not sure my rate has increased at the same rate as my growth.
The following list is what I see as the most common factors for most businesses:
I would argue the following are usually overlooked:
These three separate the “great” developers from the “ninjas”. The problem for most employers is that they are the “intangibles” of a developer. You don’t know whether a person has them until you have worked with them for a couple projects.
This really is a loaded question. What most people will do is see what local companies similar to you are charging. Of course urban companies charge more than rural companies; and companies in New York can charge more than Winnipeg.
All of that aside I think it really boils down the following question:
How much quality work can you get done in an hour?
It is so simple and yet it makes sense. If I can do double the work of you in an hour, shouldn’t I get double the pay? This doesn’t always happen and other factors limit you, but your worth can be different from your rate.
A bit of a dumb question as you always want to improve at your trade, but I do ask myself this sometimes.
I haven’t told you what you are worth, but I hope I have given you some rulers to measure yourself by.
Respond with your thoughts in the comments on this, or anything regarding freelancing.