I’ve had a few folks over the past few years ask me how I ended up joining Webflow. So I wanted to share my story. Here we go 🎢 🚀 😅
I started using Webflow in late May of 2014. I’d built a few sites and worked on several digital projects in a few platforms including Squarespace, WordPress and a few custom PHP websites. I was working at an agency at the time and quickly realized that I really enjoyed working on the web and building/managing content online (thank you Kayla, Chris & Daniel for helping me realize this 💜). My manager at the time was a UX Designer (Daniel Green) who sent me a link to Webflow and said “Check this out!” (Interactions 1.0) and my life changed pretty rapidly thereafter.
Just a few weeks before I had finished my first website for our local skate park (sadly the site was taken offline after the city purchased the park 😢). I built it in Squarespace. It was accessible and I could showcase my photography, get relevant information online and have a lot of fun. After Daniel sent me a link to the Interactions page, the first thing I wanted to do was animate a skateboard wheel to spin and move from one side of the page to the other. Quickly I realized that this goal was a bit ambitious (at the time) and that I really had to get a few basics down around HTML & CSS. It took a lot of trial and error, but within 20 minutes I had a spinning wheel.
Live stream of me after creating some sweet web animations in Webflow for the first time.
I started tinkering around in Webflow more and more. Here’s what I looked like pretty much each evening when I’d go home from work.
I started using Interactions to animate elements and couldn’t believe I was able to build super custom pages and web animations without having to write any code. 🤯
I ended up taking on a new position working as a “Digital Media Specialist” with one of my friends from college, which meant building out landing pages and tons of responsive emails (building out emails taught me a lot about the basics from using tables and inline styles, to CSS and cross email service support).
You could say that Google has always been one of my best friends. If I didn’t know how to do something, I would Google it and read everything I could possibly find on different subjects and went through a lot of trial and error testing as I learned. If I really hit a blocker, I would reach out to the experts on the subjects.
Between May 2014 — June 2015 I really fell in love with Webflow as a tool and a platform to bring my ideas to life within. 😄
I joined the Webflow Forum on October 10th, 2014 to get some help on a few projects and quickly realized that I knew the answer to a lot of the issues that folks were encountering on the forum. I’ve always loved helping people, and I fell in love with the Webflow Community pretty quickly. I’d spend my lunch breaks answering questions on the forums and my evenings/free time responding to community members (I know, I’m a nerd, but I Love Webflow and helping people so it was a good mix). In the evenings I’d also work on side projects (this is where my freelance progressed a bit) as web design work quickly became a passion of mine.
The first site I built out ended up being a small portfolio site for myself that has changed a lot over the years (https://youfoundwaldo.com). Y’all should take a moment and look at the previous versions of my site to see how it progressed over time.
I also had the opportunity to build out a site for Chicago Cheesesteak Company (one of my favorite sandwich shops from Springfield, MO — the site has since been updated with my friend Joshua Kratt). Thereafter I ended up getting one of my first freelance projects, translating a PSD ➞ Webflow site (http://quaint-inc.com/). I had a blast working on that build and learned a lot about site structure/layout and styles as I was building it out.
It was around August 2015 when the Webflow CMS was announced and I was ridiculously excited. I even tweeted this self made GIF to Webflow:
My workplace at the time was a bit taken aback when they saw my portfolio site come up on their Facebook feeds and asked me to terminate my freelance work over a 60 day period which was very difficult for me to do. I understood where they were coming from so I ended up moving a lot of my work to friends/professional colleagues in the Webflow space.
Around day 5 of the “terminating freelance work period” I was approached to do some web design work for an agency out of New York and was super excited (wow someone found me on the internet and wants me to do web design work for them!), they only had about 10–20 hours of work a week for me and I saw it as an opportunity to hone in my design work more without wearing myself out. They hired me via UpWork and paid me $30/hr and gave me the opportunity to work on a lot of really fun projects. It was a big internal struggle having to do freelance work under the radar, but I just loved it and wanted to do more and more (plus the extra money was nice and helped me save up for a wedding ring).
Eventually the 60–100 hour work weeks started wearing on me (working 45–60 hours at my main job, and 10–40 hours of freelance a week). I was working evenings, weekends and holidays. These habits were not conducive to a healthy lifestyle and I experienced a bit of burn out and stopped taking on freelance projects (at the time) after day 55 or so.
During that time I was asked to become a Community Expert (now Community Moderators) on the Webflow forum, where I essentially got a new tag for my Webflow forum account and had the opportunity to join a Slack channel with the Webflow team.
Joining the Slack channel as a guest, I had the opportunity to engage with many more of the employees at Webflow. This resulted in a few short conversations with Vlad 😄.
I ended up creating an application site to work at Dollar Shave Club as I was trying to find a different job since my “Digital Media Specialist” role at the time did not allow for remote work. Turns out that the position at Dollar Shave Club would be in California, I went through 3 interviews with them. On the third interview, the hiring manager who I’d be reporting to was really impressed with the page I had built, then I told them that I had built it in Webflow. They then proceeded to quiz me on CSS and JS, low and behold, I didn’t know all of the answers to their questions and the interview went into a somewhat downward spiral from there.
I was feeling pretty bummed out, because up until then, I thought I had the position in the bag and wasn’t applying to many other places.
But since the interview left a slightly bad taste in my mouth, I went ahead and stopped shaving for the most part. So, yeah, this happened eventually:
My wife had finalized her school of choice for Optometry school and it meant moving to St. Louis for her to attend UMSL.
It was around Thanksgiving in 2015, and I received a direct message from Vlad asking: “hey, would you be interested in joining Webflow remotely as a Customer Happiness Hero?”
Pretty sure I responded with something along the lines of:
OH MY GOODNESS THAT WOULD BE AMAZING!!!!!!
I wouldn’t doubt that there were more emojis and all caps in my response 😅 than what I have above.
Anyways, I ended up having my first call with Vlad as an intro interview the day before Thanksgiving. I was traveling that day to my parents house (4 hours away at the time) and my interview happened about 10 minutes after I arrived at my parents house as we got stuck in traffic. It was such a treat getting to meet Vlad 😄!
From there, I was invited to go through a trial week at Webflow, I could only get about 3 days off of work, so I took some personal leave and flew out to San Francisco (first time there), on what felt like a covert operation as I couldn’t tell anyone about it. I was (and still am) close to my manager at the time, we typically always shared these kinds of exciting moments with each other. So it was very difficult for me to do all of this under the radar.
I ended up letting him know that I needed to take some personal time the next week from Wednesday — Friday and it was granted. Then flights were booked, next thing I knew, I was on a plane to San Francisco.
I arrived at SFO around 12am, I entered the wrong address in my Uber app, and was dropped off in an alley with people around a dumpster fire 10 blocks from my Airbnb.
Keep in mind, this was my first time in SF, first time using Uber, first time in an Airbnb. I called my Airbnb host and they graciously told me how far away I was and to get another Uber. I arrived at the Airbnb around 1:30am and could barely sleep.
The next morning I met Vlad, William and Sergie at Picnic on 3rd street, just underneath the Webflow office. I presented them with a custom Webflow branded longboard that my buddy Jared Braden had whipped up for me that weekend 😄.
I spent the next 3 days having my eyes opened about how Webflow ran support, and how wonderful the customer base was and still is to this day.
The trial felt like it went really well! It was quite an emotional time departing from the office, then having dinner and saying very heartfelt goodbyes. I left that Friday evening on a red eye flight through LAX and made it home on Saturday morning.
That next Monday, I get a calendar invite from my then boss and it’s titled “Meeting about Waldo”. I was terrified, thinking that they had found out I was in SF for the interview. Turns out that they had been fighting to let me work remotely for them and planned out this whole strategy to work remotely and visit a few times a quarter.
For those of you that know me, you know that I hate driving, I even hated the 8 minute commute I had to work at the time 😂. The deal they were offering meant driving 3–4 hours several times a month and having to pay extra for an additional apartment without any sort of salary adjustment. It was quite unrealistic as far as work-life balance went. I didn’t end up giving them an answer about the offer which they gave me.
A few weeks went by and around December I heard back from Vlad that the position was opening up and I could start as soon as I was ready. He recommended giving at least 1–3 months notice at my current workplace (I decided to go with 2 months).
The decision was a no-brainer for me, join Webflow! So, that evening I accepted the offer.
The next Monday I was typing up my resignation letter when I got a message from Vlad saying “hey, could we maybe change it for you to start Feb. 1 instead?” I hit backspace a few times, updated the official exit date and printed it out.
When I made it to work, I walked over to my manager’s office (right next door to mine) and handed in a one month notice to my boss who didn’t really see it coming. Thankfully my boss at the time was (and still is) one of my best friends and we go way back to college, he was very congratulatory and thankful that I could stick around for another month.
Then, February 1, 2016 arrived and my Webflow Journey began. The rest is history. 😄
Thank you to deepgroup:
Mega thank you to Chris Heil, Kayla Jones, Valeri Lea, Daniel Green, Dan Stewart and Stephen Parke 💜, you all invested a lot of time in helping me grow as a human and learning how to serve clients and deliver great work. There’s a whole ‘nother story behind my departure there, but I literally wouldn’t have known how to save for web if it wasn’t for Daniel. Kayla was the first one to encourage me to go work on digital work. Chris was always SUPER supportive, positive and encouraging 💜. Val you were always kind, generous and supportive of me, you even gave me my first ever bonus 😄. Stephen taught me what it meant to have heavy images on a website (my first site was for a skatepark and had raw jpegs at 4mb’s each right out of the camera in it 😂). Dan you inspired me to work hard and learn all the things possible. Last but not least, Daniel Green is the one who sent me a link to Webflow’s CSS Playground which forever changed my life.
Thank you to HFE:
I was incredibly fortunate to work at such a great company before Webflow that invested in me in many ways (with leadership training, coaching and more). Even after I departed, I still did freelance projects for them for the next year. They actually made the comment a year later that it was like they hadn’t even lost me. So, thank you Brett, Greg, Suzanne, Rhonda, Tiffanie, Janet & Brad for taking a chance on me and always being so supportive and sweet. 💜
Thank you for reading 😄
Super appreciate you reading the whole post, I really hope that you enjoyed this story and am looking forward to sharing more in the future. 😄 Please feel free to contact me some time on Twitter if you’d like to connect.