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Meet Samuel Dowd of Sam Dowd Design & Development

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samuel Dowd.

Samuel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started as a Product Manager on McGraw-Hill Education’s Learning Analytics team. As part of this team I managed the development of the first set of front end visualizations for MHE products in Higher Education and K-12 schools, and the development of the first generation of the data platform. During the early stages of development, I found myself struggling to follow along with the developers as they strategized the architecture of the platform. I decided to learn some programming skills to better participate in these discussions and help shorten the feedback loop between the technical team and our business partners. This project taught me HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Python, and some PHP. I realized how much I enjoyed coding and so I began to set up and manage web sites for small businesses as a side gig for myself. This led me to start Sam Dowd Design & Development (SD3) as a web presence management business for very small local businesses and individuals.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Of course not! Coding is not easy to learn. There were plenty of times I hit dead ends with my projects and took weeks off from learning to code. But I found myself always getting lured back. I found myself starting to think like a developer. As I would get curious about a product, feature, or particular service I found myself trying to break it down in my mind and architect how it might be done. This made for a very interesting way to look at the world. I’m glad I stuck with it because when I was laid off from MHE in February I decided to work on SD3 full time.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sam Dowd Design & Development – what should we know?
SD3 is a web presence management company for small businesses and individuals. It’s not an agency, it’s not a DIY platform, it’s meant to be a partnership. My first client was my barber. He didn’t have a web site so in exchange a free haircut every month, I offered to create and host a basic site for him, track its usage/metrics, and manage some of his social accounts. My approach is very hands on, and is focused on getting started quickly and moving at the client’s pace. In an effort to show the level of partnership my business offers, I usually start out by presenting the client with the web site I have created specifically for them. Together, we tweak it, infuse the client’s brand and personality and then discuss how we can work together to drive traffic, increase awareness about the site, and accomplish goals the client has for his/her web presence. Sometimes this includes SEO, instrumenting tracking codes like Mixpanel, or Google Analytics, and sometimes the client simply wants a landing page to send customers to for hours, prices, and contact information. I don’t pretend to know what each person is looking for, but rather guide the client to figuring out what he/she wants from his/her presence on the web and help to accomplish that.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Al Essa and Stephen Howe were two of my managers at MHE who encouraged me to pursue programming as a way to better interact with our software developers. Al gave me the challenge of developing my own version of the data platform, and Stephen helped my find resources to learn the various technologies and put them together.

Stephen and Al were really the ones who set the stage for my web development skills.

Ani Aghababyan was a colleague and now a great friend who has advised me on my career path, what I want to do with my business, how I want to position myself, and what kinds of things I need to learn in order to be successful. Her own coding skills along with business/data analytics background have been invaluable in planning and executing the strategy for SD3.

Amber Auger is another of my “clients” but also a very close friend. She asked me to create a web site for her and has given me an opportunity to use her site as a playground for new things I want to try. She has also been great at referring clients and showing off the work I’ve done for her.

Pricing:

  • Hosting is $50/month with a 1 year commitment

Contact Info:

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