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Web Deving

Comments Off on Web Deving// Posted in Uncategorized by on 04.05.17.

I stopped updating this blog, but I did return to web development.

Contact me via dev@idosius.com


Back For More?

Comments Off on Back For More?// Posted in Uncategorized by on 09.03.15.

I’ve been doing content marketing for the last two years. It’s alright, but I’m starting to wonder whether I should do a little bit of programming once again. You see, I’m good at it, there’s plenty of work, and it pays rather well. What do you think?


Freelance Lessons Learned

Comments Off on Freelance Lessons Learned// Posted in Uncategorized by on 11.23.13.

teacher-class

Being a freelancer for 3.5 years has taught me some lessons. I’d like to share them and save you from some major headaches. I hope you won’t have to learn the hard way, like I did.

  1. Learn to say no. It’s good to take every project when you’ve just opened for business and need work for your portfolio and bank account. But after a while, about 1 year, stop and think – who are my best customers? Who do I enjoy working with? Who pays me well and on time? Who do I hate working with? Work only with the former and fire the latter.
  2. You’re not just the technician. As Michael E. Gerber explains in “The E-Myth Revisited”, when you start your own business you’re not more than a developer/designer/writer/cook. Just like baseball Bugs Bunny who plays all positions, you also took up, unknowingly, bizdev, sales, marketing, tech support, and accounting. You can outsource some of it, otherwise it’s up to you to learn these positions & perform them.
  3. Read books. Not just about your profession, but also about other sides of your business. Especially read books where you suck – reading “Guerrilla Selling” enlightened me what sales are all about and boosted my ability to close deals. A must read for all freelancers is the useful “How To Be A Freelance Rockstar”.
  4. Customers are crazy. Customers may have weird demands that won’t make sense, demands they will fight War World III to defend. I don’t want Poland to be re-invaded, so I politely explain why their demands aren’t a good idea. If they still want to go through with it, no problemo, I price it and get to work.
  5. Spec & design first. People want their websites done yesterday. Maybe, just maybe, they know in their minds how the website will look and feel, and they have no clue that you don’t. Thus, when I took projects without a spec and design the result was a big mess. From then on I guided each client about the project stages – initial meeting, specification, design, development, testing, and release. You’ll be surprised how much respect you’ll get when you insist on working in an orderly manner. If that’s not possible, charge by the hour, and if that’s not possible, please see item 1.
  6. Pricing is a mystery. Sometimes people ask me how much a website costs. I ask them in return how much a car costs – it depends on what you want and what you need from your car or your website. However, while cars have price listings by model and year, websites don’t. There is no objective figure how much a website costs. Customers compare it with what they heard from friends and offers they got from your competition, some of which may be cheaper and some not. The question is what kind of service do you offer – are you a third hand 1984 Fiat Uno or are you a brand new Mercedes Benz? Give up the customers that don’t fit your level of service. Aside from that, experiment with prices and see what works. If the customer didn’t negotiate then you bid too low, and if the customer vanished then you bid too high.
  7. Estimate time pessimistically. Technical shit can hit the fan, clients may be late on deliveries, or you may need a sick day. Give yourself more time than you think to get a project done. It’s better to surprise customers by finishing early than letting them down by finishing late.
  8. Use a CRM. Soon enough you’ll be negotiating and working on several projects at the same time and you won’t be able to juggle them in your head anymore. A CRM let’s you easily see what’s the status with each client and set future tasks for deliveries and followups. I use Capsule CRM. It’s freemium, basic, and super easy to use.
  9. Conventions networking sucks. It’s nice to air out, have some catered food, and meet other people. However, I didn’t get any new projects by networking in conventions. I’ve heard similar experiences from other freelancers, one of which gave his business card to literally everyone in a conference.
  10. Meet colleagues. Take some business lunches to share tools and funny customer stories. It’s good to have a support system and a shoulder to cry on, someone to help you when things go crazy.
  11. Word of mouth rules. My best projects came through satisfied customers who recommended me to other like mindeds. I never needed to do any advertising or even erect a Facebook page – my enthusiastic clients did the marketing for me.
  12. Take advances. This guarantees customer won’t screw you over when it’s time to pay, and you’ll have some money for coffee before the project is over. If customers won’t agree to give you an advance, no matter who they are, they probably won’t pay you at all. Dump them.
  13. Don’t cross your limits. There’s a big problem being a freelance web developer, at least in Israel – new demands and changes come up way after the spec & design and you’re expected to include them in the price. Unfortunately I often did. It was my fault since I didn’t set my limits from the beginning. Today I explicitly say that all changes from the given design/spec will be charged an hourly rate. And what do you know, it works.
  14. Trust your instincts. All too often that familiar “I knew it!” feeling came up when a project went sideways. So, spare yourself the misery and listen to your instincts. Sometimes my instinct told me to watch out even though I had extremely friendly meetings with new clients. Later, when it came time to work, the customers took off their masks and things got ugly. “I knew it”.

Happy freelancing! If you have more advice, please share them in the comments.

(photo by World Bank Collection).


Calling it quits

Comments Off on Calling it quits// Posted in Uncategorized by on 11.17.13.

calling-it-quits

Working on a new project I realized that I can’t do it anymore. I’m leaving the web development business.

I’ve been a freelance web developer for 3.5 years, a culmination of building websites on/off for the last 18 years, my longest running job.

Thanks to all the clients and projects. I’ve learned a lot.

What’s next? I don’t know. I have to do something else. Anything else. Contact me if you have a cool job offer.

 


Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes!

Comments Off on Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes!// Posted in Uncategorized by on 09.11.13.

bowie-changes

My freelance business is changing once again. After taking some time out to recall what gives meaning to my life I decided to re-prioritize.

No more small projects. I’ve realized I do highly professional work. I’m not the new kid on the freelance block and I shouldn’t sell myself for cheap.

Working with small clients demands a lot of energy and doesn’t pay much in return. I prefer to concentrate on premium clients doing high level projects. Let the part time students & newbies handle the rest.

In fact, I decided to strengthen my relationship with the awesome BrushGunz design studios. They’re talented pros doing beautiful work and we get along amazingly well.

Aside from web development I’ve stepped up my other activities. They are no longer hobbies, but part of a career. I’ve joined IDC Radio as a musical editor & broadcaster with my very own show, a dream come true!

I’m also doing more writing than ever before for my blogs + fun travel writing for Best Of Tel Aviv. I even bought a vintage typewriter for my real world needs. Typing on it is way more satisfying than my laptop.


I’ve Been Hacked!

Comments Off on I’ve Been Hacked!// Posted in Uncategorized by on 08.11.13.

hacked1

“It won’t happen to me”, I always thought. One morning I woke up and found out that all my personal websites were hacked by Iranian Muslim cyber-terrorists. Boy did they pick the wrong guy – a pro peace left wing liberal – but obviously they don’t care, all Israelis are evil.

How did it happen? I had a lot of websites running on all kinds of subdomains, a lot of them with out of date WordPress & plugins that I haven’t updated in a long, long time.

My guess is that they used some kind of vulnerability scanner on Israeli websites and abused an old WP or plugin security bug. Or maybe they just brute forced it, though my password is not easily guessable.

I take full responsibility for what happened. Here are my immediate action items following the attack:

  1. Delete unused websites
  2. Uninstall unused plugins
  3. Upgrade websites on a monthly basis
  4. Install the Login Limit plugin
  5. Backup to DropBox via BackWPup
  6. Backup DBs on a daily basis

I’d also like to give a big thumbs up to my hosting provider, Site 5, for handling the situation quickly, kindly, and professionally. I love you guys.

Now that my account is leaner and meaner – bring it on Muslim script kiddies!


Köszönöm Twitter

Comments Off on Köszönöm Twitter// Posted in Uncategorized by on 07.15.13.

samuel_jackson_twitter

My latest project, Best Of Tel Aviv, included some Twitter integration – a fancy slider that shows the latest tweets for chosen keywords, ‘Tel Aviv’ in our case  I read the twitter search API like a good developer, looked at some examples, and lo and behold, here are the latest tweets!

A month down the line and suddenly my beautiful slider stopped working. Another client suddenly sent me an email – her premium theme twitter integration also stopped working. What happened? Why did the twitter search API die?

Several Google searches later I found out that Twitter changed their API completely. From now on API access works only via OAuth. This is annoying as hell. Without getting any notification, twitter broke the old behavior. They set me back several hours to figure out how to integrate with them now and fix the code.

I’m sure they have their reasons to introduce such a big API change. Heck, because they’re twitter, they just can, like Facebook can change its UI whenever they want. However, this aggressive behavior towards users and developers is starting to annoy me. Can we really be kicked around just because we get some services for free? Where did I sign for this?

If twitter were any kinder they would keep the old API and provide a new better, faster, more secure feature rich API to encourage people to use it. I have plenty of other integration Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. I guess I have to cross my fingers and pray to Shiva that they’ll treat us more kindly.


Free Hebrew Web Fonts

Comments Off on Free Hebrew Web Fonts// Posted in Uncategorized by on 03.12.13.

hebrew-tatoo

I’ve created a new project! A super simple web page with free Hebrew web fonts for download. Hope you like it.

http://freefonts.co.il


Why I Don’t Host Websites in Israel

Comments Off on Why I Don’t Host Websites in Israel// Posted in Uncategorized by on 01.01.13.

websites-israel

I thought I was the only one who wants decent prices, good packages, and fast and polite service. Apparently not. The more I talk to web developers, the clearer the picture – Israeli web hosting sucks.

Googling ‘website hosting’ in Hebrew returns over 1.6 million results, but there aren’t a lot of Israeli web hosting companies.  Most are just resellers selling packages for a few large brands while charging extra. However, as soon as something goes wrong, the reseller won’t take any responsibility and send you to the real provider for support. So what are we paying the resellers for? Reselling.

Let’s say we don’t fall for these Jedi mind tricks and get the real deal. Sadly, even the true providers offer lousy packages for big prices. While foreign companies provide gigabytes of space for a few bucks a month, Israeli hosting providers still think in megabytes and charge double. What are we supposed to do with 50MB? Upload static HTML files with “under construction” GIFs? Why is it so expensive here and so cheap abroad? No idea, especially considering the next issue.

Local providers have horrible service. The service mentality for major companies in Israel is lacking compared to their American counterparts, and web hosting providers are included. From my experience, American hosting providers, even with Indian service centers, answer quickly, politely, and professionally, and solve every problem. In Israel, however, I receive slow, unhelpful, and unprofessional service.

If you’re still not convinced, the biggest problem is that Israeli hosting packages don’t fit today’s needs. I’m talking about shared hosting with Linux that could host WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla with a click of a cPanel. For some reason Israeli providers insist on expensive Windows servers. Wake up and smell the open source.

If it’s that bad, why host websites in Israel at all? Good question. Some people already have a prepaid package they won’t give up. Others want to decrease server latency, that is, the time it takes for data to get from the server to the browser. It’s a difference of about 200 milliseconds which is irrelevant for most content websites.

SEO is the only rational reason to host websites in Israel. According to experts, the physical location of servers affects Google’s ranking algorithms. Weird, I thought the Internet is supposed to make the world flat. But that’s the situation, so websites targeted for the Israeli market should be hosted in the Holy Land for the sake of holy ranking.

What can we do? Put your money where your mouth is and stop hosting websites in Israel. Try hosting them abroad and witness the difference in prices, packages, and service. You won’t want to come back. Furthermore, don’t go with the big names or their re-sellers, they abuse their size to screw customers with high prices and lousy service. Of course, if you found a small company that has great packages and fantastic service, please share.

Hopefully some kind of Golan Telecom will enter the Israeli hosting provider arena, a company that would break the market with shared Linux packages with plenty of storage, comfortable prices, and outstanding service, or at least, some kind of Zap comparison engine to help customers make a wiser choice. I’ve addressed The Israeli Internet Associations about this issue, but haven’t received any reply yet. Until then, I’m leaving Israel, at least virtually.


Blogging Lessons Learned Presentation + Dark Side of The Business Force

Comments Off on Blogging Lessons Learned Presentation + Dark Side of The Business Force// Posted in Uncategorized by on 11.18.12.

Last Tuesday I had presented again at the WP TLV Meetup talking about lessons learned from 5 years of blogging. Presenting was fun, I got plenty of good feedback, and some new business connections. Yay!

There were two other excellent presentations by Morad Stern, an independent blogger, and Yoav Farhi from Automattic, one of the coolest companies in the world. They sound like really good guys and they had smart things to say.

One presentation, however, given by Raviv Ohev Zion was quite dubious. He was supposed to talk about 10 plugins that will boost your WP site. The result however was mostly a talk about his shady business model.

Raviv creates big portals where he uses other people’s content to make money. How does he get it? Easy – he uses a plugin that steals new posts from popular blogs via RSS feeds and translates them to Hebrew. No credit is given to the authors. Thus, his portals drive traffic by plagiarizing content that’s already proven as popular, and he monetizes the traffic. According to Raviv, he replicated this formula over and over again and makes a bucket load of cash.

Since I write and value original content, I find Raviv’s methods appalling. In fact, they’re illegal. I doubt anyone will even try catching such a small and slippery fish. He’s just a tiny nut in a much larger content duplication network on the web.

The more I do business the more I find out there is a light and dark side of The Freelance Force. There are those, like me, who make an honest day’s living. Others, like Raviv, look for shortcuts, “kombinot” as we say in Hebrew, to take the money and run. Unfortunately, most people are suckers for big empty promises for easy cash making Raviv’s presentation a smash hit.