Name: Reece Young, Owner, Web Designer, Web Developer
Business Name: First Class Code
Describe your business
We’re an eCommerce focused web design and development company focused on small to medium-sized businesses.
Tell us about your self-employment journey
Web design has been a hobby and a passion since I was 14 years old. I used to do odd designs here or there for family and friends who couldn’t afford to hire a web designer to get their band or idea online.
In 2014 I was working at one of those “Cash 4 Gold” shops. Naturally, I was sitting on my butt all day, only dealing with a few customers. I started advertising my services on Craigslist in the design section and even the barter section. I would take on small projects here and there locally. I began to have recurring clients, not enough to quit my job, but enough to stop struggling financially.
In December of that year, the gold shop owner announced he was closing his doors next week. It was just before Christmas and suddenly, I was out of a job and a place to run my little side hustle. My grandma let me and my wife live in her back house, which was in a rural area of the desert. My only internet option out there was Verizon DSL.
As luck would have it, there was a new startup offering “fast” speeds through a tower, and he needed a website! So I bartered for a reduced fee on this “high speed” internet. Mind you, it was only 10MB/s down and 2MB/s up.
For the next year, I relied on that internet and my grandma’s hospitality to launch my business. My operating expenses were less than a couple thousand dollars a year and most of those costs were for themes and plugins. Fast forward to today and I’m earning nearly 800% more than my first year in business and just purchased my first house!
What area of your business are you most passionate about?
I’m passionate about eCommerce! I love creating web designs that help my clients convert visitors into sales.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned early in your career that has contributed to your success?
How to operate on a shoestring budget and still produce a valuable product for my clients. I still apply this to my business today to keep myself from getting trapped in the “just write it off” mentality.
How are you pivoting your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Luckily my business model has not had to change. I’m still running my business as I usually would, but with discounted pricing for those affected by COVID.
What’s a recent project that you’ve worked on that you’re really excited about?
I’m really excited about the success of Nimble! I designed their website using the Shopify platform and built a custom returns and recycling platform to fit their needs.
They recently started selling products at Verizon and launched a new CD recycling program to help reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills.
Are you a part of any freelancer communities? Which ones and how do they support you?
I’m part of The Creative Class, which is an amazing class and Slack community. It allows me to have instant access to a variety of creative professionals to help boost my network.
What advice would you give other self-employed people?
Don’t give up. It’s not all going to happen at once. Ignore the “you need to spend money to make money” philosophy as much as possible. The lower you can keep your costs, the better – invest that money back into yourself and your business.