Open Thread: How's the Economy Treating You?

29 Comments

If you’ve been paying the slightest bit of attention to the news recently, you know that the US economy is, by some accounts, in dire shape. With the failure of high-profile firms, the rescue of others, and a $700 billion bailout wending its way through Congress, it’s understandable that many are feeling jittery about the future. An era of contracting credit and a tighter job market don’t seem like much fun.

At WWD, though, we’re focused on our own little niche of the economy: the web worker. Here, the picture may be slightly brighter. But there are several forces that affect us directly when things get tight:

  • Web workers can end up being viewed as easily-trimmed jobs, especially if they’re not in the office to exercise political clout.
  • But contractors may be in a good position, because contracting work out is often cheaper than hiring more full-time employees.
  • Tighter budgets may get more companies to consider telecommuting, as a way to save money on office space.

So how is all this playing out for you? Are you staying busy? Has the current economic news got you more worried than ever about your ability to continue as a web worker? Or have you found ways to turn the economic weakness to your advantage, by offering lower-cost services to your clients?

29 Comments

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My TV bill is out of control. In my house we have 3 TVs, each with cable tv service. We get about 65 channels, but no HD programming. My husband really wants HD for his sports. Baseball season is coming and he is anxious to get it. For what I consider limited service I pay 125 dollars a month. Does that seem way too high? What is a better idea if I wanted HD??

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The Ustream iPhone Viewing Application is WiFi only at this stage, allegedly “to ensure the highest quality broadcast,” and gives full access to Ustream.tv shows…
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it is a good app for iphone, but the app will not work on my first generation iPod touch. If it’s wi-fi only:(

PatyHingle

President-elect Barack Obama delivered a speech today, January 8, 2009. Obama discussed the current economic crisis and urged Congress to act quickly in passing a stimulus bill, warning that the recession could become
(Video + Transcript)
Infrastructure? What is he thinking? The US has some of the best infrastructure in the world. Anyone who has traveled can see that. Only Europe has better… and not ALL of Europe. Not only that, but there are 250,000 people out of work on Wall Street, and Obama is going to hand them all a shovel? …NONSENS !

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m3talsmith

When things started turning down I watched a ton of remote jobs being fought over. It’s harder than ever to get those jobs, so I turned to my local economy. We are booming here because everyone has turned locally. As a web developer I still have a backlog, and a new market to tap in to. Mix in the fact that I started my own hosting for some passive income and I think it’s a great mix for the next few years.

John Ek

I’ve found that my larger clients are doing fine (larger meaning $24-50M US in sales. But I do have a couple of smaller clients with ambitious projects that are now hesitant to pay. Of course I haven’t turned over any finalized projects, but most of the work is already done. So I can definitely feel the difference from even 3 months ago. But luckily my bigger clients pay my bills, the smaller ones are just Vegas money. Looks like I won’t visit sin city very soon.

Misty Cryer-Davidson

I’m a web writer. I don’t see much change in volume of work with changes in the economy. Now that you got me thinking about it, I realize that the majority of customers lately have been from other countries so the economy may have some effect.

Jeff Friend

We, thank God, have kept our backblog steady, and are continuing to write new business. We are, however, having trouble finding talent to hire, and we’re looking.

Brett

I currently own a small software development company in Cape Town, South Africa. The country started experiencing an economic downturn a few months into this year; caused by exchange rate, price of fuel and internal infrastructure issues which effected production. Price of food has soared, vehicle sales have dried up, and the bottom has fallen out of the housing market.
Effect on business? The small businesses are tanking and they’re definitely not spending any money on anything that doesn’t directly keep their doors open. The larger businesses still have budgeted capital and they’re spending it, albeit sometimes desperately. My business is focused on long-term, corporate and government expenditure: it’s guaranteed for at least 24 months, but we’re having cash-flow issues as projects are re-evaluated, etc.

Serge Lescouarnec

I am both an employee and a business owner.
On the employee side, activity and income have declined but in the past month I am getting new clients on the business side so things might balance each other.
We are still early in this ‘credit crunch’ so we do not know how the chips will fall.
I am not sure many of us in the USA are ready to contemplate a year or two of painful adjustments.
Call it being in denial maybe.
I started writing about going from Consumed to Thrifty on Serge the Concierge about 6 months ago and offered a panel on that topic titled From Consumed to Thrifty: Strategies for a Good Life in a Wobbly Economy for South by Southwest 2009.
It is getting more and more relevant as the weeks and months pass by.
Diverse income streams and being flexible in your thinking and approach might be the best way to survive…

Serge
‘The French Guy from New Jersey’

aullman

This country spends $2 billion per day importing oil from foriegn nations. The economy could be fixed and the budget balanced overnight if this money was kept in the US economy.

It is possible to cut back drastically on oil imports if more employers would support remote work programs. Remote Office Centers make it possible for most office workers to work from an office near where they live. They lease individual offices, internet and phone systems to workers from different companies in shared centers located around the suburbs.

It is going to take a paradigm shift to “fix” the economy. The technology already exists for remote working and telecommuting. Employers and government need to support programs for remote working. These programs benefit individuals, employers and the economy in general by cutting back on demand for fuel.

Applied Web Vitals

A flood of new projects started rolling in the first half of August and have continued—we now have a waiting list. Projects from our small business target audience are in the $1K-$7K range and tend to be re-designs, functional enhancements, e-commerce setups and CMS integrations. As I interpret it, the economic news is definitely to credit for our surge in project work. Savvy small business owners appear to be positioning for broader market exposure, improved communication efficiencies and a stronger, better differentiated brand.

Robert S. Robbins

Yes, when the economy is bad more entrepreneurs turn to the Internet with schemes to boost their income. Just make sure you get paid in cash and not in stock options or for a future cut of the profits in some crazy scheme to clone YouTube or Amazon.

Jeff S

We have a small print shop. Revenues are down as office budgets are trimmed. We have a consistent workload, but the faucet stream is slowly turning off.

Michael

I agree that “Traditional” businesses are starting to see less and less actual business. But I think that is partialy their own fault. With the increase in companies using affiliate marketers and online sales they have cut out several middle people.

No more need to send items to store shelves. They send them directly to the customer. Stores then have less inventory so they need less employee’s.

As for those of us who work on or with the web it is good times if your in the right nich.

Christopher Hawkins

I’m actually getting more work as a contract web developer.

Agreed. In fact, this has been a record year for us here at Cogeian Systems – we’ve billed more hours and turned out more custom software in 2008 than in any other year.

2007 was a slump year for us. Perhaps we were just ahead of our time? :)

David

As an independent contractor it’s never been busier. Sure, I haven’t been promoting myself for quite a while due to a good network of referrals and great clients, but I’ve had a ton of referrals coming in the last six months. I keep expecting a possible slowdown, but I sure don’t see it. I really think that this economic downturn is really just limited to some very specific parts of the economy.

dawn

I’m seeing more work coming in but I can’t tell if that’s because all that networking I’ve done is finally paying off or if it’s the economy. On the other hand, my husband (who was laid off last year, thus my switch to full-time freelancing) started job hunting and had a harder time finding work than he has in the past. Certainly businesses are cinching their belts.

Rob

I don’t do web design, but I have definitely been getting more requests to do work as an independent contractor. I’ve seen a few places shed jobs and ask me to pick up the slack. Business is pretty good. I’m using this upswing to brace for the potential drop-off in the future based on the economy.

Jon Spooner

Same here… ever since the economy has gone sour I have wa-ay more work coming in.

And with online advertising still beating the pants off of trad. advertising when it comes to ROI. I don’t really see this trend stopping anytime soon.

Also it seems like right about now is the “refresh” time for all of those websites built back in 99-02. Those clients who in the past took a pass because “their nephew can build a website for $100 bucks!” – now their lame flash intro-ed brochure-ware site doesn’t seem to be doing anything for them.

Lou

I’m a contractor that does a fair amount of moonlighting. Over the past 8 months, I’ve been asked by more people than ever for website help. I’m not even promoting myself anymore and I get several referrals a week. It could be that my network has reached a critical mass, but still, I might be ditching contractor work for good if I land another 2 or 3 solid clients.

Walter Wimberly

I’m actually getting more work as a contract web developer.

In the last 6 weeks, I’ve worked with one client who has been doing some redesigns and sales on his web site to increase sales as they have slowed, and I’m working with another company to develop their site into an e-commerce site to make up for the loss of revenue of people coming to them. I also have worked on several smaller sites who are once again trying to invest in their sites to regain profitability and/or start something new in this down time.

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