- Selling a Piece of Blue Sky, Part 0: Prologue
This is a series I’m writing about my time with Global Social Media Marketing, a company I joined as a web developer in 2018. It’s also the tale of how I decided to stop being a freelance web developer.
The goal of this story is to discuss my time with Global Social Media Marketing (or GSMM) and to give the public a view of what went on behind the scene at the time. Names will be changed to protect the innocent. Ben’s clients are just as much victims as I was, and I don’t want to humiliate them here. However, I am not changing the names of anyone who worked with GSMM. If you’re fool enough to put this on your resume/LinkedIn, then it shouldn’t be too hard for readers to decipher who’s who. I am certainly not changing the names of the antagonists.
So, how did GSMM stop me from being a freelance web developer?
Basically, my experience with GSMM was nothing short of horrific. I mean, while working with any of my previous employers, there was a little bit of friction but I would consider coming back in a heart beat. Hell, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m planning to move across the country soon, I would apply again for a role at Greystone (since it appears they just started re-hiring for the position I was at back in March of last year). The people at Greystone were amazing to me and it was a real tragedy to leave Greystone.
GSMM, on the other hand, was the freelance client from hell. Almost anything a freelance client has said about their worst freelance client could be said about GSMM. Hell, there was even a little sexual harassment to boot. I’ll admit that I don’t have the best client voice in the industry. And any web developer knows exactly what I am talking about.
But the fact that I just tried to link talking to clients to the “white voice” from Sorry to Bother You tells you exactly how I feel about client interactions. A little bit of duplicity is necessary in order to keep clients from freaking the hell out. When paired with a good account manager or project manager, a web developer shouldn’t have to use the “client voice” too much.
So, does that mean that I’m no longer going to be coding for a living?
What it does mean, however, is that I’m going to be a bit more choosy about who I work for. It also means that I’m not going to be doing freelance work. Currently, I’m working on getting Elysium Studios off the ground. In this time, I’ve also decided to start learning Objective-C, C++, Java, Rust and a couple of other languages. I’m committed to be a part of Elysium for the next few years but I do want to keep myself open to opportunities with companies whose missions I can get behind, such as Automattic or Mozilla.
It also means I’m going to be trying new things over the next year. This includes raising my profile as a WordPress expert. I got Global Entry for a reason, after all. I’m planning to attend a variety of conferences over the next few years. Both as an attendee and as a presenter. I’m also exploring things such as the Estonian e-residency scheme and a few other things. I’ll let you know how everything goes in the months and years ahead.
But I’m no longer open to freelance opportunities.
So, why am I writing this series about GSMM?
I have a number of reasons for writing about my time with GSMM. But three are particularly salient.
Part of it is catharsis. Working at GSMM was rough and being able to work through the issues in text is important. Additionally, I didn’t like the person I was becoming when I was at GSMM. I need to work through what happened in order to try to undo some of the damage.
Concern for the community
The other part is concern for the community. I don’t want any other web developer to experience what I’ve experienced. Based on his actions, it is highly doubtful that Benjamin Kepner will ever change for the better. He regards any criticism against his shoddy business practices as a “personal attack”. That’s a fundamental difference between him and I.
You see, I embrace good faith criticism because I believe in radical self improvement. The comfort zone is where progress stagnates. Leaders such as Michael Hyatt routinely talk about the importance of trips outside your comfort zone.
A response to coercion
Additionally, I was threatened by a couple of people at GSMM. Donny (who I’ll introduce you to in a later post) and Benjamin both threatened legal action if I told you the truth about what occurred at GSMM. Originally, I had just written a letter to my (now) former coworkers at GSMM and their clients. I was also planning to publish it on a domain name I had only recently acquired, benjaminkepner.com. Now, I’m planning to write a multi-part series about my experience with GSMM.
Donny or Benjamin, if you’re reading this, this is the summary of my response to you:
So, with the preliminaries out of the way, I’ll begin posting to this series every Tuesday and Thursday until the whole story is told.