The web development started for me back in 2004 before the internet was in every home and on every phone. It was the time when AOL was the main homepage and everyone was using Ask Jeeves as the main search engine. Google was very basic and Facebook hadn’t been heard of.
I had a PC and an internet connection and started to build very basic websites. In the first year, I had built an analytics website to monitor website visitor traffic and a basic chat site with text chat rooms, running on the Tufat Flash Chat script. I wanted to build a homepage that people would use to send messages to their family and friends, check the weather and news and browse the internet. I had the idea for what Google is today before Google implemented any of these features but I didn’t have the brains to put it together.
At the end of 2004, I was sat at my PC and my housemate, Kev, was sat at his PC. He shouted over to me “Simon, you do know there’s like 20 people chatting in your chat room?”. I honestly didn’t know, the chat site was something I hadn’t touched for months. I went into it and surely enough there was 25 to 30 people chatting. I asked who was who and asked if anyone would like to be a moderator. The woman with the chat handle “Izzy” volunteered, so I gave her access to the admin panel of the chat.
I began to work on the chat site and in 2005 added video chat rooms followed by a full blown social network. MySpace was the only real competitor at the time but didn’t have video chat rooms. Facebook wasn’t heard of, although formed in 2004, I had no idea of its existence. There were some other chat sites, I remember one being 2020chat, they would copy a lot of what I did and cause “chat wars”. Eventually, having the social network and video chat rooms, it became a completely different niche. In 2007 I added Adsense and in 2010 my earnings peaked at around €6,000 a month for the one site alone. I also owned a lot of other websites and was able to live the life many dream of.
I visited my sister in Australia for a couple of months and spent 6 weeks on the Gold Coast. I also went to a couple of other places, including Salou and Prague. I met my wife on the social network and flew over to USA to meet her. We took a road trip from Illinois to California, didn’t like California so all the way to Florida, which we both liked a lot. I was supposed to meet her mother back in Illinois for Christmas and New Year, but instead I bought flights to Jamaica, so we went there instead for weeks followed by Florida and back to Fuerteventura.
In 2012, Facebook was taking over the social networking niche and Google decided to bring out their own social network, Google Hangouts. It was around that time that Google removed thousands of similar sites from their search, including mine. That was the end of my social network and the lifestyle I had. It was back to music and building websites. I am now a full time web developer with a portfolio of over 20 websites, hosting clients websites, building websites for clients and doing various freelance jobs in the development area.