Dave Meredith is the owner of Meredith Web, a small web development and design company located in Wilmington, DE. Dave specializes in small to mid-sized companies who need help in content development and other marketing services. Dave builds sites in open-source CMS systems like Joomla! and WordPress, which allows clients to add content quickly and easily, but offers ongoing support for banner graphics and content development.
How did you get started as a webmaster?
Dave Meredith, publicity photo 1999
In 1996 I was a working musician, signed to a small independent record label with limited resources. Many musicians I spoke with at the time were enthusiastic about the future of the internet and how it might help us reach new audiences. I was recording my 2nd CD in Nashville, TN produced by a digital artist, Craig Mason, who I stayed with while in Nashville. While at his house he showed me how to write simple HTML and work with early web development tools. I was already playing with Adobe Photoshop to create album graphics and fliers for concerts. Within a few weeks we had a website up for my music and I was hooked. Soon I built a website for my producer’s recording studio and some other small projects. When the record label folded in 2001, I needed a new way to support my family.
Royal Pest Mobile Website
How has the business changed since when you started?
There are many opinions on how the job of webmaster has changed over the past 15 years or so. My take is that now fewer people are involved in most web projects from start-to-finish, and web developers work more independently. The average cost to develop a website has fallen over the years, so there is less money to fund more participants in the project. The most successful webmasters and developers have talents that span from graphic design to photography to copy writing to simple coding.
Were you always an independent webmaster?
For several years I worked for 4 other design and graphics companies who dabbled in web projects. Some were full-time positions, others were temporary positions that were available as long as there was web work. Ad agencies, for example, may bring additional web staff as big projects come in-house and once projects are completed, they move on.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a webmaster?
The most challenging aspect of being a webmaster is keeping abreast of the latest trends and best practices of web design. Also as the web becomes a larger part of a company’s marketing strategy, more people in an organization have a stake in, and an opinion about, how the website should be developed. Finding the balance between what is trendy and what is best for the client and their web marketing budget can be challenging.
What was the greatest adversity you faced in becoming a webmaster?
As a late baby-boomer, the greatest adversity I personally faced was not growing up with computers as part of my everyday life. I graduated college in 1983, and did not begin using personal computers until 1985. Most of my graphic design training and video work completed in college was acquired from courses and professors who equipped us for success in a different era. Almost immediately upon graduation, a new world of communications was dawning.
What is your day-to-day job like?
David Bromberg website
I am webmaster for about 60 websites and 40 regular clients. Some web projects are updated several times a week, others only once a year. Much of my day is spent problem-solving. The types of issues I address include how to best add content to a website, coming up with the right phrase or graphic to tell a story, or how to complete an project cost-effectively. Most of my clients want their websites to work hard for their investment and maximize their exposure.
When not actually working on the physical websites, my other time is spent looking at search engine optimization ranking for keywords and managing pay-per-click advertising campaigns.
What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is the freedom to work when I want and as much as I want. I love what I do almost every day, so working into the evening is part of my normal work week. The plus side is that I am able to be there for my family should someone need me, or if I want to take a day off for a special family day.
Surviving in the web development field = partnerships.
As a single entrepreneur, in order to fully serve his clients, Dave has been most successful partnering with other small businesses who offer skill sets that complement him. Target Studios is an audio and video production facility that Dave has worked closely with to develop cost-effective videos, and audio soundtracks for web and multimedia content. The MADCow and RT&E advertising agencies partner with Dave for clients who desire a full marketing support team, including public relations and other marketing services.
The bottom line is that today’s entrepreneurial web developer needs to be a team player and wear many hats to be successful. Each client and web development project poses unique challenges, and there is never a one-size-fits-all approach. The key to success in the web design field is to enjoy the process and make the success of your clients your own. Like in many businesses, if your client thrives, so do you.