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Welcome to the new Solve it once website

A website two years in the making

One thing they surely tell you about starting a business, but that is easy enough to ignore and forget, is that you can’t know when you’ll be busy all of the sudden.

When client work and life get busy, the “business development” category can be delayed to the back burner the easiest. In my case, that meant wanting to replace my perennial coming-soon page with a real website, but prioritizing paying clients and family for over two years.

You can imagine what a relief this website launch is, then!

A quick catch-up

Solve it once was founded June 2, 2020, just days after COVID lockdowns were lifted in Michigan. I had been spending Spring 2020 enjoying some much-needed time off (having quit my last full-time job of 7+ years in February):

  • Hand-renovated my kitchen with drywall, flooring, cabinets, countertops, paint, and some new electrical and appliances
  • Made a wedding website for Shelby and I
  • Did some wedding planning and made cool invitations
  • Used the wedding website codebase to make a maximalist JAMstack starter
  • Took everything I’d learned about Drupal and turned it into what eventually became frost
  • Jogged my way back to double-digit-miles weekly long runs
  • Watched an unconscionable amount of Star Trek and YouTube
  • Played Risk by email with multiple groups of friends
  • Got a taste of freelancing prior to formally starting Solve it once

It turns out that I really like freelancing and working from home, so starting a business to do that felt like a no-brainer!

I was on a roll when it came to filing new entities with the State of Michigan, so in do-gooder fashion my friends and I also founded lower barriers. Progress there can sometimes feel slow in comparison to all the nine-to-five work, but we have a lot of fun getting on video calls and mustering through Robert’s Rules of Order.

The first two years

The details would probably be boring, so here are some bullet points:

  • June/July 2020: Set up Google Drive and domains, made boilerplate, opened a bank account, parked socials, etc.
  • July 2020 to February 2021: First three clients! It felt like a miracle that work was coming in
  • February 2021 to September 2021: Focused on fourth client, New York Public Library. A dream come true
  • September 2021 to February 2022: Caught back up with Pat Oja from Provisio and worked part-time clients
  • February 2022 through July 2022: Worked full-time contract for Tactis, getting the opportunity to work on recognizable brands
  • August 2022 to present: Spent a month making frost a reality and getting this website launched. Ready for your business!

Throughout it all, I’ve tried to provide some coaching and mentoring to motivated friends who wanted to get into web development, which is very rewarding. And it’s especially great to have a standing weekly appointment with friends.

In those two years there have been some particularly interesting projects that could benefit from a blog post of their own. That’s a big reason to subscribe to this blog (or the newsletter using the subscription form on the home page).

Drupal business, JAMstack website

The site you’re on right now is made with the Jekyll static site generator (using the aforementioned finished-starter template) and hosted for free on GitHub Pages. It’s weird to focus mostly on Drupal sites and market them from the JAMstack site, but it would be hypocritical not to practice what I preach about minimizing overhead and recurring costs for small businesses.

That hosting bill is taking a cut of your paycheck, so if you don’t need all the features and creature comforts of a CMS like Drupal, and especially if you have the technical chops to write your own HTML, I heartily recommend using a simpler site platform to keep costs down.

What I think is cool about the site

This site, being based on finished-starter, has all the features of the template, plus new components for the homepage wall of logos among other nifty things.

Here are a few things you may not have immediately noticed that I think are cool:

  • In the footer there’s a link to ‘Documentation’, which is a treasure trove of wild stuff you can borrow
  • flat-rate Drupal websites and sprints. I don’t know if they will be popular, but I think it’s cool
  • Speaking of, that’s lightweight snipcart e-commerce powering the products

Now that the site is a reality, I’m hoping to be able to put an afternoon here and there into subtle improvements. All the more reason to come back and see what’s new!

Thank you

Thank you for visiting the site, for reading this post, and for considering so1ve for your next ambitious web project. Please reach out and say hi!