The other day a fellow personal finance blogger, Jeff from Good Financial Cents, mentioned a young blogger (just turned 16) who had started a business designing blogs and websites. Jeff posted a link to the young man’s website, and so I spent some time checking out his work. Self described as a young entrepreneur, Alex Frais it turns out is a quite a talented website designer.
So I contacted Alex and asked if he would share with us a little bit about his business and how he got started at such a young age.
Interview with Alex Frais
First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
Hey guys, I’m Alex Fraiser. I am a 16 year old (on the 12th) blogger, designer and entrepreneur. I am very passionate about what I do and I sincerely wish to turn all of this into a career for myself one day.
Offline, I am just a high school kid going into his Junior year. I love to go camping, hang out with my friends at the mall, and most of all – work out at the gym. I am a die hard New England Patriots fan, and am not afraid to admit it either!
I have started a freelance business for myself where I design and create fully functional themes built off of the Thesis framework. I have been trying to do this for months, and around the start of summer / the end of my sophomore year is when I stared to receive a steady flow of clients to keep me busy and earning money.
Besides freelancing, I also am a passionate blogger. My two blogs are Blogussion, a blog about blogging, and Asnio, a young entrepreneurs/web development blog.
How did you first get introduced to blogging?
Many events online led to my interest in blogging. I used to be a forum kind of guy, meaning I would build forums and try to create a successful one. I had a pretty good forum going on for a while and I liked it a lot, but that was until someone posted a thread about blogging onto it.
I was intrigued by it, and basically that user convinced me enough to start blogging. I sold that forum to give me a little pocket change to get my blogging career started, and ever since I have just been blogging my heart out.
When and why did you decide to turn blogging into a business?
When I designed Blogussion, the idea of that blog becoming more than just blogging, but for a possible business venture. After the redesign of the blog, I looked at in and fell in love with the design. Luckily, that’s what many others out there thought too. So I realized that maybe I’m not that bad at designing, and maybe I should give it a go.
So I have built my freelancing career off of my blogs. I let both of my blogs represent my design skills and I work as hard as I can to make them look beautiful so people will be more interested in my services. Of course I make sure that my clients work is in tip top shape as well, I just feel like it was my own blog that started my freelance career.
What role do your parents or others play in your business?
My parents are the one with all of the money I have earned in the last few years! But I can’t believe how lucky I am to have two parents who support me, and one who is a financier. I am not of age to have a PayPal account, so I have to conduct business through my step father. It may be a little odd for my clients to send payment to a name that is not my own, but I suppose a 16 year old designing websites for people twice or even three times his age is a little odd as well!
Besides keeping me up financially, they always motivate me to grow my business. Every night while I am doing work, my mom always asks me how business is going. I think, not just for financial reasons, but for motivational reasons – if my parents were not so supportive I don’t know how far I would be.
Describe for us how your business makes money (e.g., affiliate income, consulting, other).
Right now I am only making money consulting. I have two blogs that I am still building a community of readers on. I am, however, working my way up to selling products on my blogs and studying affiliate marketing.
My oldest blog is about eight months old, and I think I still have some more work to do before I start making money from it. I have tried before through selling ads and paid reviews, but the income per month was very unbalanced. I had about $100 the first month then as interest died down, maybe $20 or lower per month.
I have only tried banner advertising on my blog once, and I don’t think it will be back for a while. However, I believe that if you give more for free, then you will not just build an audience on your blog, but the capability to release things for money. That is what I am doing now, and that is how I plan to make money through my blogs.
What’s your vision for your business 1 year from today? 3 years? 5 years?
In one year, I plan to at least have the website up live for my businesses web site, Kolakube. But I can see myself remaining as a Thesis freelancer and even having a larger client base.
In five years I will be on my own, and in five years I set a goal for myself. I want to turn freelancing and blogging into my career in life, so I really hope that I will still be in front of a Mac conducting business.
What advice would you give freelancers who are trying to build a business?
Freelancing isn’t easy, and you have to be extremely committed to your work to get by. Managing time will be one of the largest and hardest tasks for you to overcome believe it or not, and without that skill you won’t be a successful or happy freelancer.
Freelancing is the dream job because you can set your own hours and make your own salary. If you have the advantage of starting early as I do (with me being 16) then you may soon discover that this may be something for you. If you didn’t get that head start age wise, then always work your hardest and have those excellent time management skills on your side to succeed.
To the extent you feel comfortable, do you mind sharing how much revenue your business generates?
I really started freelancing back in very late April. I started out selling pretty low and in March I earned about $250. In June, my inbox started to get more emails, so I completely restructured my pricing and started working for higher rates. Half way through June and about 1/3 through July, I have earned about $1,500 from freelancing.
I’d say that’s not bad for a 16 year old guy, but I am finding potential to make money on my blogs, so I see that number increasing.
If a potential customer wants to hire you, what’s the best way to contact you?
Right now, I get all of my emails from my blog, Asnio. As I have mentioned before, I have not yet setup my business’s website and there is no functioning contact form setup there. So I did the next best thing and directed these people to my own blog.
Contact me at Asnio.
Can you point us to some examples of your work?
Alex, thanks for taking the time to tell us about your business. Best of luck!