How did I get here?

Quite a few people ask how to get work, or how to find people to work with, or more commonly – how to become known. I can’t help with the latter, but I might be able to help with the former. The most important thing to do is to build up a name for yourself amongst the people you know. Be reliable, friendly, helpful and above all – get it right!

When I was about 14, I used to frequent various remotely hosted forum support boards. Mostly chilling, chatting to people, but increasingly I was helping out in the support areas – more precisely the coding support areas.

For personalisation of these systems, you had the option to place JavaScript code within the header (or footer) of the site, and it would then customise the site. Things that were made varied from the simple, to the complex. I started as a complete failure: no commenting, no indenting, no caching of nodes, no nothing. It was horrible, icky code.

A place kitten for fun

The communities there were great, they’d always suggest ways to help & improve what you were doing and ultimately increase the quality. I then got a pretty call place as a moderator on there, and what not. I worked on a few sweet forums with people that became pretty insanely popular – but later closed.

The main thing that I tell people is to always have a project to work on. I had one, it was called wImg, many people won’t know what that is – or was, unless I send you a screenshot every now & then. However this was my project, a little area for me to play around, and add new things here & there., but it got used…

One of the cool things about the forums I was on, is that I built up friends, and other acquantances, so when I started sharing this site, people would use it as they knew the owner. Anyway, wImg was a very simple image hosting site, it accrued over 100k image uploads, and was hitting over 15 million hits a month, eating through over 1TB of bandwidth – and of course, every server I tried to put it on!

I took the site offline after a while, but I learnt a huge amount: automated S3 backups, efficient file storage, and a load about optimisation. Unfortunately, the things I know now, I didn’t know then. Now, I would be able to run the site, for cheaper & be more efficient with resources.

So, that is my project. It started off as something stupidly small and simple, and escalated as people asked for new features or as I wanted to try new things out. But how the hell did I get to work with the super awesome Dan Eden, and how can you work with awesome people too?

I was an active member of Forrst for a while, reguarly commenting (over 2.5k) on people’s posts, and posting some of my own. They were helpful, friendly and in most cases indepth & comments. I hoped to display my skills to other users, with the intention of hopefully working with someone.

Dan & I had expressed our annoyance that people had posted images of UIs for Forrst apps, but none had ever come to fruition, so we teamed up and got Owlr up and running within a month of first code. I had previously to this helped Dan with some of his questions on Forrst, and also tweeted a few times with/to him.

Throw in some summer work at various companies building some awesome stuff including a full ecommerce site and a Polish/English twitter-esque site, and you now know what I’ve done and how I did it. Oh and did I mention that people still contact me from my old foruming days asking me to do some work for them? Nope, well they do – that is where a large amount of my work comes from.

This isn’t the end, I’ve recently taken on a project with Dan and Jack which is going well and should be released in a short while.

So, instead of trying to make a name for yourself in a sea of big fishes – why don’t you try to become a reliable, and helpful person to the friends/followers that you have currently. A lot of work comes from word of mouth, so build up a good rapport with your friends, and they’ll suggest you on to other people!

Note: I added a cat because I thought I was getting a bit rambly!