The ups and downs of dominating a niche – Harry Roberts (CSS Wizardry)

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Episode #23: Harry Roberts

Today we had the pleasure of talking to Harry Roberts, the founder of the well-known blog, CSS Wizardry. Harry started his career as a web developer at a very young age and has become one of the world’s most well-known experts in CSS. He was named young developer of the year in 2014 by Net Magazine, and now runs workshops all across the world in large companies such as BBC, Google, The Financial Times and The United Nations.

Harry has built an incredible personal brand and we’ve been following CSS Wizardry for years. We discussed with him exactly how he got started, what made him successful, and what he thinks is the best way to blog, build a personal brand and start a side project today.

This is the eleventh episode of the second season of the Hacking UI podcast, ‘Scaling a Side Project’. In this season we interview designers, developers, and creative entrepreneurs who built and scaled successful side projects  that we admire.

The Side Project Accelerator

Registration for the next batch of the Side Project Accelerator closes on November 10th. Apply now to reserve your spot.

Apply now for batch #2 →

Key points from this episode:

  • Learn how Harry became a front-end developer, and how starting a design company at the age of 16 helped him find his true path.
  • Understand Harry’s tactics in keeping his blog authentic, and how he niched down in order to properly serve his goals.
  • What are Harry’s views on academia? Find out why he decided not to go to university and how he launched his career as a developer instead.
  • Learn about the only time not having a degree let Harry down, and how it cost him a job at Apple
  • Harry started his career really young and was trusted in a senior position early on. Learn how he navigated the intense scale of responsibility.
  • Find out Harry’s key to a successful career, and why he urges others never to miss out on big opportunities and why he believes you have a duty to take them.
  • Get the behind-the-scenes of how CSS Wizardry got started and why he decided not to treat the blog as a job, but just to write whenever he had an idea.
  • Harry gives his tips on how to find your writing style and his best trick to get started again.
  • Understand how you can overcome the roadblock of not feeling qualified to write an article. Harry gives his advice on how to establish your credibility as a writer.
  • Learn about the positives and negatives about a narrowed approach to business, niching down to a specific market.
  • Find out how one positive of having such a specific niche market got Harry the opportunity to work on a project with UN.
  • Understand how he finds the balance between learning new skills or specializing even further.
  • Understand Harry’s views on putting lifestyle over riches and how his current business model is not a get-rich-quick scheme — he does his work mainly because he loves it.
  • One of the best pieces of advice Harry ever received was, “Don’t do it for the money, but never do it for no money.” Find out how he has implemented this concept in his work.
  • Learn how Harry uses his speaking engagements to promote his blog and funnel new readers to his website, and why self-promotion is still a challenge for him.
  • Understand why Harry believes in not only delivering high-value service but also creating the best client experience.
  • Harry gives his tips for developers looking to enter open-source.
  • Find out how to get started running workshops, and how to adapt your content to your audience to deliver specific value.
  • Learn what inspires Harry and how he uses fundamental elements from the work of others and real life constructs from engineering and manufacturing to better understand processes.

Links from the show


If you’d like to read the full text of this episode, you can  download the transcript.

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About The Hacking UI Podcast

The Hacking UI podcast is hosted by Sagi Shrieber and David Tintner, a designer and developer who are also both entrepreneurs, bloggers, productivity/time-hacking maniacs, and all around tech geeks.

We started this podcast off with the ‘Scaling a Design Team series’ where we spoke with design leaders from top notch companies like Facebook, Apple, InVision, and Intercom, to discuss team structures, responsibilities, and workflows.

A few months ago we quit our day jobs to work on our former side project, Hacking UI, full time. So we found it fitting that our second season of the podcast should touch on that subject. The second season is called ‘Scaling a Side Project’, and we’ll interview creative entrepreneurs that we admire in order to get them to share their tips, experiences, and secrets to success.

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