Jeffrey Zeldman

Independents Day co-founder Jeffrey Zeldman is the creative director and publisher of A List Apart, a non-commercial independent weekly magazine “for people who make websites,” and the author of Taking Your Talent to the Web (New Riders: 2001).


The Independent Content Producer Refuses to Die!

Writers and designers don't live by bread alone -- even when it's really good bread.

If the web is fascinating simply as a medium rife with challenges and rich in possibilities, it is even more alluring when you consider its low barrier to entry. This medium does not merely permit you to publish your own work, it begs for it.

From a purely selfish point of view, most of today's best-known web designers are famous for their personal sites, not for their commercial projects (though these are of course viewed and respected).

Fame may seem a silly thing to seek, but it sure doesn't hurt when you're looking for your next job or your next client. Or approaching a backer to start your own agency.

By creating and maintaining sites that cannot be controlled, compromised, disfigured or deleted by the indifference or poor judgement of clients or managers, you will ensure that you always have good work to show for yourself. More importantly, you'll have the chance to express yourself -- to find out what you, yourself are made of when, no client is paying you. To find out what you really want to say.

If you were a classical composer, you'd have to pay a symphony orchestra just to hear your own music. And if you were a filmmaker, forget about it. But in independent web production, the only unknown quantity in your budget is how much time you can afford.

No one is in control of this space. No one can tell you how to design it, how much to design it, when to "dial it down." No one will hold your hand and structure it for you. No one will create the content for you.

What's in you? What thwarted creative potential is burning to get out, grow, and find its audience?

If you do this well, it will reflect back into the work you do for your clients. Not only will this help your career, it will enrich your life, and the lives of others.

Creating your content, designing it your way, repositioning yourself from vendor to author, you'll have made your mark on the medium, and perhaps on your generation.

And at the very least, you'll have had fun trying.

The independent content producer refuses to die.