Case Study: Fixing a WooCommerce Website for a New Client

I met Steven at his store on Bloomfield Avenue in Northern New Jersey. After I gave him my business card he told me his website needs help. The checkout wasn’t working, and users couldn’t even add products to their cart. This was how the previous web development vendor left things before their arrangement ended.

The website was powered by WordPress (managed by Bluehost), and used WooCommerce as its ecommerce solution. I helped him create a Stripe account, and connect it to his online store.  I finished configuring a premium WordPress theme called BeTheme, and gave him a multi-week marketing plan to help sales grow.

website screenshot

I used an image manipulation program (the GIMP) to create graphic assets used throughout the shop:

website graphic design

Many times I have to pick up where someone else left off. I could tell you another story about inheriting a Frankenstein tech stack from a previous vendor. They left off on non-talking terms after demanding back work payments to release the credentials to my team. My skill in figuring things out, regardless of the technology involved, shines in times like these.

My company tag line is “I can build your website” – it should really be “I can fix your website”. Business owners try to do it themselves, and often make it most of the way. When you need help, I am there to carry it over the finish line. I’ve been asked if services like Wix cuts into my business – it’s actually the opposite. Broken, incomplete, or unoptimized websites created on easy-to-use platforms have provided a solid market for my expertise.

Organic market

Local small businesses are what make neighborhoods unique and give families a chance to make a living themselves. It feels great to help people knowing we can both benefit. You can read more about the plan I use to help businesses with their existing website in another blog post.

Membership Discounts Without a Plugin

As part of the marketing plan, we decided to add membership accounts to the WordPress ecommerce website for Organic Sun Market. Enabling that capability was a few settings in the dashboard: WooCommerce > Settings > Accounts & Privacy

woocommerce accounts and privacy settings

I also added a “My Account” link to the site’s global navigation.

menu in wordpress

By default, WooCommerce provides a “My Account” page where users can log in, view their orders, update their information, and more. You can specify a custom page in the advanced settings: WooCommerce > Settings > Advanced

woocommerce advanced setting

The account page specified uses a WooCommerce short code to handle the content: [woocommerce_my_account]

account page shortcode

Change menu text if user is logged into WordPress

I wanted the “My Account” menu text to change if the user is not logged in. I was able to do this with the WordPress hook `wp_nav_menu` and a simple string replacement PHP function:

add_filter('wp_nav_menu', 'change_my_account_menu_item', 10, 2);

function change_my_account_menu_item($nav_menu, $args) {
// Check if the user is not logged in
    if (!is_user_logged_in()) {
        // Change "My Account" link to "Login/Register"
        $nav_menu = str_replace('My account', 'Login/Register', $nav_menu);
    }
    return $nav_menu;
}

To incentivize users to create an account, we offer a 5% discount to any one logged in. The checkout page contains conditional messaging (depending on wether they are logged in or not) to communicate this incentive.

conditional css messaging on checkout

Hide or show UI elements if user is logged into WordPress

I am able to apply that  style condition with two custom CSS classes, specific to the presence of the WordPress body class ‘logged-in’:

.only-show-while-logged-in{display: none;}
body.logged-in .dont-show-while-logged-in{display:none;}
body.logged-in .only-show-while-logged-in{display:block;}

Apply WooCommerce discount to logged in users

I applied the discount by using custom PHP code in the child theme’s functions.php file with the `woocommerce_before_calculate_totals` hook:

add_action( 'woocommerce_before_calculate_totals', 'no_discount_if_not_logged_in', 10, 1);
function no_discount_if_not_logged_in( $cart ) {
	if (is_user_logged_in()) {              
		foreach ( $cart->get_cart() as $cart_item ) {        
			$discount_eliminate = $cart_item['data']->get_regular_price();
			$discount_percentage = 5; // Set your desired discount percentage
			$discount_amount = $discount_eliminate * ($discount_percentage / 100);
			$new_price = $discount_eliminate - $discount_amount;

			$cart_item['data']->set_price($new_price);
		}
	}
}

Apply WooCommerce discount to logged in users on a specific category of products

Later, we changed the logic to be a 10% discount for logged-in members, but only on products that were part of a specific category called “bundles”.

add_action( 'woocommerce_before_calculate_totals', 'discount_for_specific_category', 10, 1);

function discount_for_specific_category( $cart ) {
    if ( is_user_logged_in() ) {
        // Define the category slug you want to apply the discount to
        $target_category = 'bundles';

        foreach ( $cart->get_cart() as $cart_item ) {
            $product_id = $cart_item['product_id'];

            // Check if the product belongs to the target category
            if ( has_term( $target_category, 'product_cat', $product_id ) ) {
                $discount_eliminate = $cart_item['data']->get_regular_price();
                $discount_percentage = 10; // Set your desired discount percentage
                $discount_amount = $discount_eliminate * ( $discount_percentage / 100 );
                $new_price = $discount_eliminate - $discount_amount;

                $cart_item['data']->set_price( $new_price );
            }
        }
    }
}

Print Design

Many local small businesses take their marketing offline and into the real world. Print marketing is a business I have been a part of for almost two decades. I have designed, delivered, and distributed flyers, menus, business cards and more. As the holiday season approached, Steven asked me to create a poster for one of his healthy products.

graphic design request via text message

He sent me a draft he has been working on, along with some inspiration examples that expressed the direction he wanted things to go. This was the final product:

Dog treats poster

And here it is hanging in the store front:

Printed poster design

Why Every Business Needs a Website in 2024

small business websites

Don’t Be Invisible: A Website Puts Your Small Business on the Map

Local small businesses without a brick-and-mortar presence fall into a unique category. They might be service-based businesses like freelance consultants (like myself), home repair services, personal trainers, or cleaning services that operate on a mobile basis or from a home office. These businesses rely heavily on word-of-mouth, local advertising, and community networking to attract and maintain their clientele.

Because this business model does not require a physical storefront, these owners may underestimate the value of a digital presence. They might perceive it as unnecessary, believing that their local reputation and personal customer relationships are sufficient for business growth and sustainability. Consequently, they may neglect their online visibility, not realizing the potential reach and efficiency gains from digital tools.

The digital gap for these businesses can be characterized by a lack of a professional website, minimal social media engagement, and reliance on outdated forms of communication like AOL or Gmail email addresses. While this might maintain a certain level of operation, it limits their ability to scale, reach new markets, and ultimately leaves honey on the table.

By not leveraging the digital space, these businesses miss out on the opportunity to build brand awareness beyond their immediate locality, engage with customers online, and streamline their operations through digital tools (customer management). As a result, they might struggle to compete with others who adopt a more integrated approach to physical and digital business practices.

Cleaning website design

Professional Image: Elevate Your Brand

Your website can be the first point of contact between your business and potential customers. Just as you wouldn’t attend a party in pajamas, you shouldn’t let your online presence be represented by a dated AOL email address or non-existent web page. A sleek, user-friendly website tells customers that you are a serious professional who invests in all aspects of your business. I can help you do it right with a custom domain and business email address.

Some businesses rely on on a third-party subdomain or a link-in-bio service. While these options may seem convenient and cost-effective in the short term, it looks unprofessional. It is harder for customers to remember and doesn’t carry the same weight of brand authority as a standalone domain. It’s like to setting up shop in someone else’s store.

Using a personal @aol.com or @gmail.com email address for business communications can inadvertently signal a lack of professionalism and an outdated approach to business. I can assist you in transitioning to a custom domain email that reinforces your credibility. Too often, I walk around and see businesses make the mistake of thinking this detail doesn’t matter.

Testimonials & Social Validation

Word-of-mouth is powerful, but in the digital age, testimonials and portfolios on your website can reach further and speak louder. They serve as a perpetual source of validation for your work, allowing potential customers to see the breadth and quality of your services at any time. It’s the online equivalent of a recommendation from a trusted friend, accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Logo

Having a logo that fits your business image goes beyond digital space. I can show you tips and details for getting it right and making work across online  and print platforms.

A sample web design logo

Organic & Paid Search (Unclaimed Digital Territory)

If you’re running a business without a website and have been relying solely on traditional methods, it’s time to unlock new opportunity. Customers are searching for your service right now!

Organic search refers to the natural listings on search engine results pages (like Google or Bing) that appear because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to being advertisements. By not having a website, you’re missing out on the chance to appear in these listings—a place where a significant portion of your potential customers start their journey.

And, this is another reason to get setup with your own domain name if you’re currently using something like Bitly. Search engines like Google give more credibility to websites with a clear, branded domain name, which can significantly impact your search rankings and, by extension, your visibility to potential customers.

On the flip side, paid search advertising allows your website to jump to the top of search results by paying for prime placement. Paid search campaigns through platforms like Google Ads can be tailored to target the exact demographic you want to reach, with the ability to adjust for location, language, and more.

If you’re ready to explore the untapped potential of online search, let’s chat. I’m here to guide you through every step of the journey.

Who needs a website?

A website is your digital calling card and can be a sales generator if we do it right. Here are some of the top industries that I’ve helped grow online:

  • Restauraunt websites: Enjoy commision-free online ordering. With enticing designs and easy navigation, your patrons can effortlessly browse menus, book tables, and more.
  • E-commerce websites: Expand your business horizons by selling online.
  • Wedding websites: Share your love story, manage RSVPs, provide event details, and create lasting memories for you and your guests.
  • Martial arts school websites: Enroll students online, share class schedules, highlight events, and build a digital community.
  • Real Estate websites: Highlight property listings with interactive galleries, virtual tours, and advanced search filters.

 

Boost Your Marketing: Integrating Newsletter Signups with HubSpot API

hubspot api

I do a lot of in-person prospecting to win new business. I used to focus on giving out my business card, and then hoping the potential client would reach out to me. I learned that its better to capture their information, and then follow up. I used to collect so many business cards. Now I use a CRM, Customer Relationship Manager, called HubSpot. It does a lot of things, but primarily it helps to manage contacts. I want to let users sign up to my newsletter, and add themselves as a HubSpot contact, directly from my website.

hubspot forms

Create a Custom Newsletter Sign Up Form on Your Website Powered by HubSpot

Out-of-the-box, HubSpot can generate a number of different web forms that can be easily embedded into any website. These forms are used to capture leads and contacts.

HubSpot Private App

My website (this website) is mostly hand-coded. I want to build my own custom form, and submit the data to the HubSpot service. This is possible with the “Private app” feature. You can find this under ‘Settings -> Integrations -> Private Apps’. This strategy acts as a work-around to remove the HubSpot logo from forms without having to upgrade to premium.

HubSpot Private Apps

After entering a name and description for your “app”, you’ll need to select permission scopes. I called mine “Antpace-Website” and described it “signup forms on antpace.com”. The only scope is gave it was called `crm.objects.contacts.write`

hubspot permission scopes

CRM API – Create Contact

To create a contact programmatically through the HubSpot API, we use our private app’s access token. In my website’s HTML, I create a simple form:

<div class="col-md-12">
    <h1 style="text-align: center;">Newsletter</h1>
    	<p>Joining the mailing list!</p>
        <form id="hubspotForm" class="styled-form">
            <input type="hidden" value="subscriber" name="lifecyclestage">
            <div>
            	<div><input type="email" placeholder="Email *" value="" id="hubspot-email" name="email" class=""></div>    
                <div><input type="text" placeholder="First Name" name="firstname" value="" class=""></div>
                <div><input type="text" placeholder="Last Name" name="lastname" value="" class=""></div>        
                <div><input type="tel" placeholder="Phone" value="" name="phone" class=""></div>            
                <div><input type="text" placeholder="Company" value="" name="company" class=""></div>            
                <div><input type="text" placeholder="Website" value="" name="website" class=""></div>            
                
                <div><button type="button" id="signupButton" class="btn">Sign Up</button></div>
            </div>
	</form>
</div>

I add basic jQuery JavaScript to pass the form data along to my backend service when the button is clicked:

<script>
$(function(){
	const notifications = new UINotifications();
	$("#signupButton").click(function(){
		const email = $("#hubspot-email").val();
		if(email.length < 1){
			notifications.showStatusMessage("An email address is required.");
			return;
		}
		const formData = {
			properties: {}
		};

		// Iterate over form fields and add them to formData
		$("#hubspotForm input").each(function() {
			const fieldName = $(this).attr("name");
			const fieldValue = $(this).val();
			formData.properties[fieldName] = fieldValue;
		});
		$.ajax({
			type: "POST",
			data: JSON.stringify(formData),
			url: "/hubspot-service.php",
			success:function(response){
				console.log(response);
				notifications.showStatusMessage("Thank you for signing up.");
                                $("#hubspotForm")[0].reset();
			
			}
			
		});
	});

});
</script>

The HubSpot API documentation says, “To create new contacts, make a POST request to /crm/v3/objects/contacts“. Some simple PHP cURL commands accomplishes this. Here is the content of hubspot-service.php:

<?php

$url = 'https://api.hubapi.com/crm/v3/objects/contacts';
$accessToken = 'xxx';

$headers = array(
    'Authorization: Bearer ' . $accessToken,
    'Content-Type: application/json',
);

$postData = file_get_contents("php://input");

$ch = curl_init($url);

curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, 1);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, $postData);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER, $headers);

$response = curl_exec($ch);

if (curl_errno($ch)) {
    echo 'Error: ' . curl_error($ch);
}

curl_close($ch);
echo $response;

?>

You can see the end result by visiting my newsletter sign up page. Make sure you add yourself so you can stay up-to-date with technology tips for business.

Newsletter sign up page

I can use this same PHP service file for other HubSpot email sign up forms throughout my website.

Freelance Web Development: Delivering Value to Clients

freelance web dev process

When I win a new web development client I follow a structured progress. This ensures high quality results. Years of refinement and experience continue to define how I work with people and businesses to help them succeed.

Discussion

This is the first step. Communication is key.

This initial discussion allows us to explore your project’s overarching goals. It’s a high-level chat to understand your aspirations and ensure our visions align. We’ll delve into:

  • Nature of the Project: Is this a revamp of an existing platform or the birth of something entirely new?
  • Scope of Work: What exactly are we building? It could range from a website, a dynamic web application, an eCommerce storefront, to other web-based projects.
  • Branding Elements: Have you established a brand identity already? Do you possess logo designs or specific themes you want incorporated?
  • Budget Considerations: A transparent conversation about the budget ensures we shape the project according to the resources available.
  • Project Goals: What do you hope to achieve with this project? Understanding your objectives ensures we’re steering in the right direction from the get-go.

After our conversation, we’ll examine any pre-existing materials that are pertinent. Perhaps you have an existing website that needs sprucing up or logos that you’d love incorporated. Alternatively, you might point to other inspiring sites or platforms, even if they’re not yours, to give a clearer picture of your vision. This step is all about gathering resources and setting a concrete foundation.

Based on our dialogue and the data collated, I’ll recommend the best technologies and tools. This could encompass anything from choosing the right content management system, database technologies, or frontend frameworks.

Planning

Step two. Every element discussed in our initial conversation is now put down in black and white. It’s our chance to reiterate the goals and ensure we’re on the same page. This documentation becomes a reference point, ensuring we stay aligned with the project’s vision.

We detail objectives, decide on the most fitting technology stack, outline the budget, and establish a clear timeline.

Development

As we progress through this building phase, you’ll have access to a private server for reviews and approvals. Everything—from the user-friendly experience to backend configurations like domain setup, security measures, and CMS installation—is shaped by our prior discussions, ensuring both aesthetics and functionality are on point.

Content

During the website’s initial build, I typically use placeholder content. With the design and layout set, it’s your cue to provide the actual content. While you can opt to share materials earlier, this phase is ideal. And rest assured, you’ll retain full control to modify content as needed later on.

Quality Review

Before launching, I rigorously test the product across various devices, browsers, and screen dimensions to ensure quality. This phase is dedicated to refining the detail, ensuring both appearance and functionality are flawless.

Final Touches

I ensure that your website is fully optimized for SEO, integrating structured data, sitemaps, and relevant keywords. By enhancing its security, mobile responsiveness, and speed, your SEO score will naturally improve. Further bolstering this, I can register your site with Google Search Console and activate AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to amplify its prominence in Google searches. Additionally, I’m here to guide you in devising a content strategy tailored to elevate your online visibility.

For those seeking email hosting, I offer solutions tailored to your needs, with Google Workspace being a top recommendation for those starting afresh. When it comes to choosing a CMS, WordPress or Shopify are often top picks for businesses.

Beyond these services, I specialize in web design, crafting a visual identity that seamlessly embodies your brand. And rest assured, user experience is a top priority; I design ensuring visitors experience positive, smooth interactions across your digital platform.

This framework is described and outlined on another page of this website. It is what I use when I engage a client that has an existing website that might need maintenance or improvements.

Ensure Your Website’s Success: Maintenance, Audit, and Enhancement Plans

Existing website work

This post is all about how I help clients with their existing websites. If you are a fellow web developer reading this, use it for ideas on how to serve more people. My mission is to help businesses achieve more through their web presence.

If your curious about how I can help you with your website, send me a message. Below are some ways I will serve you.

Content updates & maintenance

I try to be a company’s go-to guy that can be called whenever anything comes up with their website.

If someone has a website, even if it is a static brochure site, it will eventually need help. It could be small content updates to reflect inevitable changes to the business. Or, one day something goes wrong. The website suddenly doesn’t work at all. Maybe someone notices something broken, be it major or minor. I want them to think of me and know that I can help.

There’s some businesses that regularly make content updates themselves using a CMS (like WordPress, Wix, Shopify, etc.). They could need occasional help with customizations, CMS or plugin update issues, and more. I let clients know that when issues arise, I’m just a text message away.

Audit & enhancement

A client usually requests this service in the form of a complaint: “My website is too slow”, “I’m not getting enough sales/conversions/leads from my website”. My response is to do a formal audit and analysis. The result includes recommendations for improvement and an estimate (time/price) for implementation.

Other times, clients do not even know that there is a potential risk (security issues) or unrealized upside (UX issues) that needs attention. Providing those insights with empathy and transparency helps businesses see that value. Below is a list of audit types I offer:

  • Security: Is your website secure? Does it use https? Is WordPress up-to-date? Is your site vulnerable to being taken over by hackers?
  • Accessibility: Is your website usable for people with disabilities? Many businesses don’t realize that this is a legal requirement under the ADA.
  • SEO: Technical SEO, optimization, and more
  • Design UI/UX: Does your website look like it’s stuck in the past? How does it perform on different mobile devices? Is there brand consistency? Is the user experience the best that it can be? Maybe it is slow and bloated from plugins/integrations and needs a refresh.

Once we figure out what needs attention, I can create a plan and strategy to enhance your website. We can take it one step and a time, and focus on what will have the greatest impact for you and your business. You can read more about my process for web development with freelance clients in another post.

steps to handling a web development client

Preemptive audits to win new clients

I approach clients (existing or perspective) with a value proposition from a place of wanting to give. This is especially true for small businesses that appear to be leaving honey 🍯  on the table.

My process for engaging a new client, especially cold ones, is to review their website and make note of any obvious improvements. One example is using a generic email address (ExampleBusiness@gmail.com) instead of their own domain. Others include broken 404 links and bad mobile UX.

Google Chrome’s built in Lighthouse feature helps me to highlight low performance in existing websites of potential clients.

low performing lighthouse scores for a small business

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is another utility that I use to identify (and pitch) improvements to new client web projects.

 

Training & education

Sometimes, managers and stakeholders want to know how things work or how to make some changes themselves. That’s why I offer technical training, education, and tutoring.

Your business might have a designer or marketer that is ready to add some tech skills to the mix. I can help with that too. Contact me about the personalized tech training that I offer.

Disaster recovery & best practices

When a tech disaster happens you need to have a plan for recovery. Do you have backups? What is the RPO and RTO for your organization when “the business is on fire”? Work with me to be prepared in these situations. I apply proven strategies and make sure your digital presence is resilient.

A moment of preparation is worth a week of remediation. Sailing ahead of the storm is possible by following best practices  How does your organization manage passwords and credentials? What apps do your employees use? Knowing the right questions is the only way to build valuable answers.

Online Ordering for a Restaurant Website

online ordering system

A Digital Transformation Case Study: Boosting Restaurant Sales with Custom Web Development and Online Ordering Integration

Client background & challenge

When I was younger I worked as a pizza delivery driver. Years later, the pizzeria where I once worked commissioned me to build their website. They were busier than ever thanks to online ordering (GrubHub, Seamless, UberEats), but were getting hit with high service fees.

They wanted their own website to be able to take orders for food online and send a notification to their iPad. That way they could avoid using apps like GrubHub that charged additional fees.

Project overview & execution

I used a service called GloriaFood that provides ready-made website templates, a secure payment process, and a messaging system. It integrates with Stripe for processing payments. There is an iPad app that receives push notifications when new orders are placed. The website builder required no code, and had a ton of options. I was able to register the pizzeria’s domain name directly though the admin portal, and generate a sales optimized website with hosting all setup.  It was “seamless” – pun intended!

GloriaFood admin panel

There are also options for integrating their ordering UI with an existing website, a Facebook page, or a dine-in QR code. The an option to publish a custom app required an additional cost per month.

pizza website

I even traveled to this restaurant’s physical location, selected and purchased a tablet computer for them, installed the GloriaFood app to receive orders, and connected it to their mobile printer.

gloriafood order received

It’s amazing how much I was able to accomplish without writing a single line of code. The most technical part of this project was setting up a Stripe account and putting the API keys into the GloriaFood admin panel. GloriaFood is a product by Oracle, a company that specializes in providing a wide range of software and hardware products and services.

Print Design

As an extra part of this project, I designed a business card with a QR code linking to the new website. The business owner planned to give this to customers who ordered through other food ordering apps such as GrubHub, Seamless, UberEats, and Slice.

Business card for pizza business website

Results

Sales Increase

Since the launch of the new website, the restaurant has witnessed a notable surge in online orders, marking a 25% increase. This substantial rise not only signifies a successful digital transformation but also illustrates the growing customer preference for a seamless, direct ordering experience. The intuitive interface and easy navigation on the restaurant’s website have played a strong role in attracting and retaining customers, driving a higher volume of online orders and significantly contributing to the restaurant’s revenue growth.

Cost Savings

Transitioning from third-party ordering platforms like GrubHub, Seamless, and UberEats to a self-hosted online ordering system through has led to big cost savings. Third-party platforms usually charge hefty commissions, which eat into the restaurant’s profits and inflate prices for customers. With the new website, the restaurant has eliminated these intermediary costs, ensuring better profitability while also offering customers more competitive pricing.

Customer Feedback

The feedback received from both the restaurant management and its customers has been overwhelmingly positive.  The restaurant staff has praised the streamlined process, which has simplified order management and allowed for a smoother operation during busy hours.

Software Engineering Internal Tools

flowers

At a recent Software Engineer position I worked on developing and improving internal tools. Internal tools are software systems that are developed and used within an organization to improve efficiency, productivity, and communication.

These tools are often not marketed to or made available to external customers, clients, or end users and are instead designed for internal usage by workers. Systems for project management, communication, time tracking, human resource management, business intelligence tools, IT management, and document management are a few examples.

As a programmer working on internal tools, there are a few vital things you can do to make the most impact:

  1. Recognize your users’ needs before beginning any tool development: It’s critical to recognize your users’ demands before beginning any tool development. This entails conversing with them, looking over their processes, and getting their comments. The key to success here is scheduling interviews with the people who will be using your work.
  2. Prioritize based on impact: As soon as you are aware of your users’ needs, focus on adding features and making enhancements that will have the biggest positive effects on their efficiency and effectiveness.
  3. Keep it (super) simple: Make an effort to keep the user interface straightforward and basic so that internal tools are simple to use and comprehend. Keep any extra features or complexity to a minimum.
  4. Continuously improve: Continue to gather user feedback and make ongoing adjustments to your tools. This will make it more likely that they will continue to be useful and satisfy the needs of their users.
  5. Make sure it’s maintainable: Internal tools’ long-term success depends on the creation of maintainable code. Ensure that your code is well-structured, commented, and adheres to standard practices.

The Great Resignation

end session

The Great Resignation is an early 2020s buzz phrase. It describes a large portion of the workforce quitting. This Big Quit has been precipitated by numerous factors, but most obviously the CoVid-19 pandemic. Truthfully, the snowball started rolling prior to the worldwide shutdown. Online freelancing and digital nomadism have been picking up steam for nearly a decade. Ubiquitous Wi-Fi, inexpensive devices, and on-demand cloud computing paved the road of the Extraordinary Exodus. The ability to work remotely, I believe, is one of the strongest drivers of this cultural shift.

Employment as we know it is a raw deal. It exploits workers and business owners. Only since the advent of the industrial revolution has the modern work schedule and environment taken this shape.

Employees are tasked to toil in serfdom. The employer is expected to be a parent. Those costs, risks, and responsibilities weigh heavily on executive shoulders. And that gravity ultimately crushes workers as exploitation.

Employer sponsored medicine took hold after World War 2. To fight inflation, the 1942 Stabilization Act was passed. That law prevented employers’ from raising wages. As a work-around to compete for high-demand workers, companies began offering health benefits as a competitive incentive. Nearly a century later, healthcare and employment are intertwined in the bleakest of scenarios.

Now can be the epoch of freedom. It’s the original promise of all the technological advances we now enjoy. Greater prosperity, with fewer shackles to hold us down. That also means businesses can enjoy larger output with less overhead.

When writing this, I was careful not to refer to employers as bosses. Ultimately, they are the clients. Workers should be expected to “manage up”, as they control labor, and in turn, production output and capital income.

What about health insurance?

It’s an absurd burden that businesses are expected to provide employees with healthcare. With that type of expectation, employers feel justified squeezing out every last drop of labor juice – be it sweat or tears.

Even worse, as workers, it’s crazy that access to medicine is tied to employment. Public health should be a public service, paid for by taxes. And, I’m not suggesting that taxes should be raised, but instead reallocated from bureaucratic waste, corruption, and cruelty.

Healthcare is among numerous benefits subsidized and off-loaded to the private sector. It has a taste similar to the Western tipping scheme found in the restaurant service industry.

Freedom

Nine hours in an office each day doesn’t leave time for much else. It was a routine I faced for years, along with many other New York straphangers. A long daily commute was the little time I could find to read, meditate, or relax. My only exercise came from pushing deadlines, jumping through hoops, and squeezing in meetings.

An age of abundance is possible within our lifetime. Laborers are being replaced by technology. Remember, most jobs are bullshit anyway. Humanity can feed itself, and anything more is just pollution.

Freelance

A freelance side hustle is the first step in buying your freedom. Owning, and running, your own remote business comes pretty close to what I imagine as the Digital Dream. When working as a freelance web developer I follow a process to ensure success. I am able to pitch potential clients on improvements, audits, and maintenance agreements.

Building my career in tech as a programmer

Anthony Pace's resume and portfolio

Building a fulfilling career can seem daunting. Technology and programming is a great option in today’s world. Resources and opportunities are abundant. You can work from anywhere and help build the future. When I started out, I faced challenges, doubt, and struggle. The ride has been worth it, and I’m excited to keep moving forward.

Starting out

About half way through college, I decided to dropout. I was majoring in Philosophy at a small school in New York.  My main source of income was delivering pizza in the Bronx.

A decade earlier, I found computer programming. I spent my nights coding desktop applications, learning HTML, and exploring the web. Those early days of technology laid the foundation for what would be my career.

When I left school in 2007, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I started earning money in tech that same year by starting a business. It focused on creating blogs and producing content. Ads and affiliate programs served to generate revenue.

It wasn’t as lucrative as I hoped. The real value came from the web development skills I honed. The software and technologies I used then, I still rely on today.

WordPress, Linux, and PHP. Writing, SEO, and digital marketing. These were the bricks I used to form the ground floor of my career in tech.

Service worker

While my early stint at entrepreneurship didn’t make me wealthy, it proved valuable. I managed to grow a freelance business leveraging this experience.

Networking and word-of-mouth were my primary means of growth. After printing business cards, I would give them to everyone I met. While delivering pizzas, I would hand them out to any small businesses or shops I passed.

I found my first paying customer in 2008. Since then, my client list has grown to triple digits.

The services I’ve offered range beyond web development. I’ve designed logos and written copy. I’ve managed infrastructure: web hosting, domain names, email, and more.

I have designed and managed both print and digital marketing campaigns. I’ve given strategy advice to young startups. Truly full stack: business, technology, and design. This has been a theme that has rung true my entire career.

The lessons learned during this period were ones of hard-work and getting the job done. The most valuable skills translate across industries. Finding clients fuels the engine of any business. The art of pitching and selling is a career-long study. Being able to manage business needs has proven to be foundational.

Office life

By 2011 I landed my first in-house gig, working at a marketing company. It felt like a turning point. I was the only developer, and got to deal directly with clients. I worked there for less than a year.

In 2012 I connected with a recruiter for the first time. They set me up on many interviews. I clicked with a small medical education company based in Manhattan. Hired as a web developer, I graduated to senior engineer and marketing specialist.

Team work

There, I was the head of all things digital. That meant building websites, coding native apps, and managing infrastructure. After a promotion to head of marketing my responsibilities expanded. Managing analytics took time. Copywriting promotional materials required patience. My horizons expanded while coordinating live events, and traveling internationally to exhibition shows.

Educational grants funded our projects. They included apps, websites, live events, and digital newsletters. Having a coordinated team was imperative to making things work. The project management and leadership was world-class and invaluable.

A single project was multifarious. I would design responsive layouts, build registration websites, deploy apps, and more. Once a product would launch, I would travel to live events to handle promotion and logistics. While I fulfilled many roles, I was lucky to work with a talented group.

Software Engineer

After four years, I made the difficult decision to leave the job that helped shape my career. A better opportunity presented itself in 2016. I was hired as a software engineer. This is when I came into my own as a programmer. I was able to collaborate with a brilliant team. The technologies I became familiar with continued to grow.

I got to work with early-stage startups and brands backed by venture capital. I learned the intricacies of building digital products and growing direct-to-consumer brands. My colleagues included entrepreneurs, CEOs, and product experts. The office was exciting and full of talent.

At the time of writing this (2020), we are stuck in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re working remotely, but continuing to grow. Uncertain times prompt us to evaluate our circumstances and take inventory of what we value. What is the future of my career? How does it play into my life overall?

What’s next?

I love what I do for a living. I enjoy programming; I love problem solving; I’m an artist at heart. I plan on continuing to build software products. Chances are, I’ll be doing it somewhere other than New York City – especially since remote work seems to be the future of business.

If you’re thinking about starting a career in technology as a programmer, my advice is to jump right in. Start building, keep learning, and put yourself out there. If anyone reading this wants to chat about careers, technology, programming, or anything else, feel free to email me!