January 24, 2013

“Web designer” is no longer a profession but a type of consumer or a market. It’s very much like those jewelry makers and clothing designers on Etsy; web design is essentially a form of “Arts and Crafts”, a form of entertainment. Many “Web designers” don’t expect to make a living from it because it’s fun for them. There are now so many products and tools available to make Web design easy that it’s like cooking from a cookbook or creating paint-by-number paintings. As a business, it makes more sense to sell these tools to the Web designers than to be a Web designer yourself.

I recently read some blog posts and comments about how Etsy destroyed the crafts market because there are now so many people who are happy to sell their crafts at any price. They entertain themselves by making crafts, so they are perfectly happy to cover the material costs by selling them. It’s hard to compete in that kind of market.

The same thing happened to photography. Digital photography destroyed professional photographer’s market. Everyone is now a “photographer”. Every tech-savvy man has a fancy big camera now. For any occasions and events, there will always be some people who would be willing to show off their cameras.

Web designers, photographers, and craftsmen are no longer producers but consumers; they comprise just another market to sell products to.

To survive in this world, we can’t count on our skills. Skills don’t mean anything anymore. 10 years ago, photographers were able to make a good living just by knowing how to use their photo equipment but this is no longer the case. We can’t rely on making a living by knowing how to do anything. The “how” can easily be automated. It will always be a matter of time when that automation happens. The only way to compete in this world is to build value on who we are.