My journey with Joomla
I created my Joomla business in September 2013, and since that day, I have tried to take a few minutes now and then to reflect on the path I have travelled.
Taking stock is never useless because you have to understand and analyze what did not work, appreciate what worked, and improve it even more.
I really hope that my modest experience will help you in your choices and your business.
2014 - Joomla and Beyond - Germany
I. Oh nooo, I'm fired!!
End of January 2014, I opened my box mail to find a letter of termination from my boss. It came out as a shock. It was painful because it was unexpected. At that time we had plans with my wife, a comfortable way of life... what would become of that?
But after a few days of processing the news, I realized that this news wasn't so bad after all. Let me explain why.
- My wife was completing her curriculum and would eventually become a teacher. I would have had to quit my position to follow her anyway.
- I was slowly getting bored of my job. I needed the money, but I was tired to spend my days in the car or meaningless meetings. I wanted another challenge. At the same time, I created a small business a few months ago for some clients projects, but it was a dormant activity.
A few days later, I've turned this bad news into a positive one! I've decided to fight back not to keep my job but to negotiate as much money as possible if they wanted me to leave the company. This money would allow me to really kickstart my own business!
My advice: take time to 'stomach' bad news and don't overreact. In each situation like this, there are opportunities to grab. You must have a calm and serene mind to think and find the path that suits you the best.
2015 - Joomla World Conference - India
II. How to turn a hobby into a cash machine?
As far as I remember, I was always passionate about the Web. I created my first website (with Joomla 1.5) in 2007, and since, I've spent my evenings and weekends learning Joomla, HTML and CSS by practicing. It was fun and very playful. During that learning phase, I had a lot of help from the Joomla Community. Thanks, guys!!
After a few projects as an amateur (2012 -2013), it was time for me to become a pro. It was scary because I had so much to learn about Joomla, web, code, etc., and time was running so fast!
Life is a matter of balance. Before starting my new life as a webmaster freelance, we agreed with my wife that my future activity should not encroach on our private life. We made the following rules:
- No work past a certain hour, because our relationship will always be more important than any client,
- Don't accept a project for money because our relationship is worth more than any amount of money.
The most important point for me was to gain visibility. So I've started to read (a lot) and to learn about SEO. I came to understand that SEO is simple: **content is king**. Since I had time, I've started to write and publish (lot of) content. At the end of 2015, I had published 110 Joomla tutorials, 33 articles on the Joomla Community Magazine, 86 blog posts and a complete training course on Joomla (40 articles). It's massive, but it's the basis of my visibility and success.
In early 2014 I've also decided to join Joomla as a volunteer. During the last 7 years, I was helped by many volunteers, and it was time and fair to send the elevator back down and help others. Today, in 2021, I still feel this need to give back all the help I've received, like something obvious.
From 2014 to 2016, I created many websites for clients. At this time, I had a friendly partnership with a communication agency which helped me start as a pro. Creating and developing a strong and reliable network around me was also very important for me. Working for yourself doesn't mean working alone.
My advice: Identify your weaknesses and work on them. Unless you are already rich, be patient, consistent and persevering because recognition, clients and money won't come immediately. It's almost impossible to succeed alone in business: you need a strong and real network around you.
2016 - Joomla and Beyond - Spain
III. Giving first to receive then
As I explained just before, I share and give a lot. For selfish people, it might seem stupid, but for me, it is a necessity.
It is often said (wrongly) that when it's free, you are the product. I'm afraid I have to disagree with this sentence. Everything I give on my website I do without collecting any information about the people who read my content or download my extensions. Sharing is caring.
I will always remember this young Iranian who wanted to download my plugin "Responsive Tables" but could not because of her country's banking restrictions. So I gave her my plugin. It didn't change my lifestyle, but it sure helped her a lot.
Since 2015 all my Joomla extensions have been 100% free. They were developed for customer projects and have, therefore, already been paid for. I could keep selling them to make even more money.
...but I decided not to.
I have less administrative work and more traffic to my site with free extensions than with paid extensions. This increases my visibility and allows me to have new customers! Everybody wins.
When you post a tutorial on the Joomla Community Magazine to explain how to override in Joomla (for example), you're not giving away any secret. You're just showing that you know how to do it. Your article helps the Joomla project to gain visibility but also helps you find new customers. Indeed, when a client is looking for a freelancer to give him a job, he just wants to know if this person is competent for the job and believe me, he is not interested in the code of your override. In fact, the client doesn't have time to learn and create this override!
Everything I published since 2014 (on my blog, on the Joomla Community Magazine, etc.) helped improve my visibility. It represents a significant investment in working hours, but it is my only advertisement. And contrary to classic advertising, my content is still online and visible. The ROI is incredible!
My advice: follow your intuition and respect your guidelines. There isn't just one path to success. You just have to find the right one for you and follow it.
2018 - JoomlaDay France - Paris
Becoming a freelancer and working with Joomla wasn't the most obvious and easiest path when I started in 2014. There were already many freelancers on the market, Joomla wasn't the most popular CMS, but I think I've turned my dream into a reality with many working hours. And despite this, I still keep the same work ethic and respect my engagement toward our personal life.
At the end of 2021, my total income since I've started will exceed €200K. It could have been more, but it could also have been less. For example, Covid had luckily no negative impact on my activity.
Creating your own job is also a matter of timing and opportunities. The first years were easy for me because I had unemployment benefits. I had time to build my brand and work without stress for my bank account.
Then, I had my first major clients. To be very clear, I've only had a normal income for France for 5 years (2016).
Today, I work for big clients, and even if I don't fear the future anymore, I always keep in mind that my activity isn't for life. I have to stay up-to-date, improving my workflow, learning new techniques and so on. And I still want to keep on sharing my experience with others.
I also keep in mind that most of the client's projects I've made couldn't be online without Joomla (of course) but also my partners, the few people I work with. They are a significant part of my activity, and I'm nothing without them.
As said earlier, life is a matter of balance. I couldn't have done all this without the full support of my wife. She helps me, advises me, listens to me and supports me. Thanks so much to her.
My advice: follow your dreams. Nobody can do it for you. If I did it, you could do it too. Don't hesitate to delegate what you don't know and don't have time to do. Working as a freelancer doesn't mean working alone. If you want to perform, you'll need a strong and reliable network around you. By the way, Joomla means "all together", isn't it ;)
2020 - Forum for the Future - Spain
Thanks a lot for reading and for your kind comment.
Yes you're absolutely right, the objective of this article is to inspire as many people as possible to create their own business with Joomla and its eco-system. I would also add the point that I'm very comfortable to work on a niche with a fantastic tool like Joomla than on a mass market with a basic and poorly secured product.