Web Design on ’90s

Portland, Oregon circa the mid-’90s, where a simple website would cost tens of thousands of dollars. Why? Because being able to have a website back then meant only a few people knew how to do it — and most of them worked at high-end agencies. I wanted in, but I wanted to democratize access to the web so that even small businesses could be competitive online. So, I started on my journey to learn how to make websites.

Within a few months, and the help of some bootleg software, I started my first company Daydream Media. I built websites for my buddy Bill’s photography business, the artist down the hall, the band I was managing, and anyone that wanted a website. I was the web designer version of the starving artist, but I was driven and kept pursuing web design.

Soon, I found myself building websites for snowboarding camps, wedding venues, telecom companies, oceanfront resorts, environmental consulting firms, attornies, even a never to get off the ground dating site — the list goes on. Everyone wanted a website, they knew they needed one, and a freelancer like myself could do it at a fraction of the cost of an agency with the same results, and I loved doing it. And though Y2K didn’t amount to the predicted disaster it was supposed to be, the dot-com bubble burst shortly after changing the web business landscape — it was time to adapt.

Start-Up in the Aughts

With a duffle back full of clothes, a couple of boxes, and my guitar, I moved back to the east coast to start a new adventure with a start-up video streaming company, VBrick Systems. It was that one job in my life that I hope everyone gets to experience where they meet a tribe of like-minded people. We worked hard, and on a lot of nights, you could probably even find as still at work drinking beer and playing ping pong. I was there for our first $1M year, then our first $1M month, and moving from a start-up to a growth-based company. All the time still weaving design and web into a new set of tools and technical skills I was building in networking, sales, and business. This experience would take me around the world, and even living in Europe with my family for a few years. 

Ultimately, as fate would have it, it even brought my family and me back to my roots, to northern Vermont where I grew up. This is also where I would start my marketing career in earnest, and remotely — I was not part of the teleworking revolution.

The Twenty-Tens – The Remote Marketer

I came back to the states to run digital marketing for VBrick — managing and designing web content, running email marketing, developing a social media presence, creating video content, even managing a quarter of a million-dollar Google Adwords budget. 

I would move on to head up content marketing for a small Paris-based software company, become the senior solution marketer for a large telecom solution provider headquartered in Dallas, and then the director of marketing for a video distribution solution company outside of Boston. And, just like Portland in the ’90s, I found that businesses and organizations in my rural corner of Vermont were underserved when it came to access to marketing and web design services.

This drove me to start another freelance venture, Wanderfish, that would allow me to help small businesses and local organizations in my area with some of their marketing needs. I was able to help my local Chamber of Commerce build a website (twice). I created a new website for a health care center catering to low-income families. Designed branding and presentation material for an organization helping felons learn job skills. And I had the opportunity to create product videos for a boot-strapped start-up revolutionizing display boards (think science fair). I also brought a new level of service to local real estate agents to help entice more people to buy homes in our area.

The Soaring Twenties 

Now I am currently part of a web content strategy team at a Silicon Vallery software company, applying everything I have learned over the last two decades. When I am not doing that, I still try to help my local community with marketing needs or driving around looking for the uniquely Vermont photo.

Let’s chat. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or drop me an email at wanderfishcreative@gmail.com. Thanks for taking the time to read about me and my journey.