You found my site hey. Maybe I wrote something that helped you. Maybe not, but I hope so. This page isn't about you though, it's probably the only one on this site that isn't; this page is about me.
I've started this blog a few times now. I wanted an outlet to share what I learn and to help others. I love to write, but I can't seem to get the routine going. I used to think I just needed a quick blog site to get started, but every time I made something quick I soon got bored and started to think about all the improvements I wanted – no, needed – to make to continue. Then I never made them. I always ended up with a site that wasn't even halfway to the point I wanted as a bare minimum and as a result I stopped writing articles for it.
So after far too many months of pushing off writing any more content, while battling burnout and a general lack of willpower to do anything coding related other than what I had to, I finally put this thing together.
I don't know about you, but I love this site. I love the simplicity and oddity of it. I purposefully broke a few "rules" when I designed it. I love the 8-bit influence. Yeah, it's my childhood.
I started to make websites back in the '90s. I used Geocities and FrontPage and had a blast. I had tons of moving gifs, like that classic under-construction one. Because the site was under construction. I never finished it, just as it should be. The moment you claim to finish a site is the moment it dies. Then I stopped because the web got more complex than I could handle at 10 years old.
I took a course in web design in high school in the mid-'00s. Once again I had a blast. I made flash animations and used tables for layouts in HTML even though I'm sure people were already then saying not to. I didn't care. I created a site where people could download music – for free. It wasn't pirated music, it was supposed to be a distribution channel for bands. I signed one band: my classmates. The site was ugly because I was terrified of CSS (a fear I'm still trying to boot) but it worked. They had one album, an EP with a few songs. I didn't work on it beyond my high school project.
I sometimes tell people it was Bandcamp but before its time. Well, that's not quite right. I never thought about charging anyone for the music. I was so into Napster and the Pirate Bay back then and vehemently against copyright that it would have seemed like blasphemy to me. Now I think differently.
I made a site for my local floorball team. I did it for free in exchange for free membership. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to make the site dynamic. So every coach and team manager had to email me their updates. It quickly became too much for me to handle and the site became out of date. People got tired of me. I lost interest in websites.
Around that time I went through some other stuff and I guess it all lead to me taking a year off from my small home town and I moved to Canada. That was the beginning of a huge change for me. I spent the rest of my 20s travelling. I moved to Australia at 24 and the place caught my heart – not and exaggeration: I met someone. I spent the next few years moving back and forth between Sweden and Melbourne.
Back in 2014, after working as a bartender for a few years, I was sick of my life. I was sick of feeling looked down upon by others and I was sick of feeling powerless. I worked in a bar around the corner from the Spotify headquarters in Stockholm at the time and quite a few of their devs were regulars. I talked to them and asked them questions about working as a developer. Talking to them brought back memories of making websites in the '90s and '00s. I applied for a couple of remote learning courses, part-time, to try it out. I loved it and ended up getting a bachelor's degree from Linneaus University.
Then, finally, in July 2018, my permanent residency for Australia was approved and we moved down to Melbourne. I worked remotely at the time for a European blockchain startup based in Malta. It was fun and blockchain was like the wild west. But I felt lonely. There were no other devs in my time zone. So I left and joined an agency based in Melbourne – with no remote workers. I loved the office life. At least at first. By the time I hit my one year anniversary I was burnt out from working overtime every day and often jumping in on weekends when I was tagged in a discussion on Slack. My work-life balance was out of whack. I'd lead a project that didn't go as planned and felt like I had nothing more to give.
I had forgotten why I got back to web development in the first place: to give myself more freedom. So, in the early stages of the global pandemic I quit my job and took on a part-time contract to build a website for a startup. I used my free days to build a freelancing career.
Now, over a year later I have to say it was the best decision I made. I was terrified at first. The pandemic certainly didn't help, but then I realised that a huge part of my stress was that I didn't feel safe in my permanent role either. We'd let some people go and I was convinced I was next. So what's the difference? I leave on my own and try to achieve what I want and maybe fail and have to find a new job, or I'm let go (I have no indication that was about to happen, but I was wrecked at the time so I was convinced) and I have to find a new job. Sounds like the same downside but a much higher potential upside if I go for my dreams.
After building sites for others over the past year I've decided to take another leap of faith and invest in myself. I've got a few projects of my own that I want to build. So I'm taking this coming year to focus on that, with a minimum of client projects to supplement my income.
This site is part of that grand plan. Keep an eye on this space.
Max Karlsson, 2021