Olympia – A Techies Trial

I packed a Penske with everything we owned and headed North. Relocating to Olympia, WA from Salt Lake City, Utah.


I noted a severe lack of quality web developers and web marketing in Thurston County. Seriously, it’s dismal. There are exactly 2 firms in town with portfolios worth a damn. Of those, neither perform content driven design or offer any content or substantive marketing services at all.


My ambition and gusto coupled with the proceeds of a house sale propelled me to talk with anyone and everyone in Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey, all adjacent cities, about any and all web related topics. I attended Social Media Club Meetings in Seattle and Portland and several other exciting new gathering emphasizing collectivism in technology.


My excitement grew, as did my newly designed website. At last, my years of experience, all those non-billable hours spent learning, studying, coding and mingling with anti-social webbies- I had arrived.

Plus, I have a Director of Marketing who is skilled and well trained.


Yes, I’ve arrived to a city that is white, aging and technologically backward.


The web designers and developers that came before me left little more than empty promises and scorched Earth in their wake. Potential clients have little money and zero confidence in the worth of social media, websites and E-commerce.


In a community that consists of ever changing Evergreen State College Students, among the nations largest military bases and a high concentration of transplants- the attitude locally is one of disinterest in informing visitors of anything.


Few visitors disembark from I-5 for anything Olympia has to offer and continue on to Seattle, an hour North, assuming the bottleneck the JBLM base creates doesn’t completely congest causing delays of hours at a sitting.
It is assumed the locals know where to go. Despite the overwhelmingly migratory nature of Olympia and friends- few web strategies are employed despite the realities of Siri and Google Maps saving us from ourselves.


I ask my phone, “Best live music Olympia.” It (of course) returns results cross listed with Google geolocation and review results. I get the closest, highest rated location with the most relevant content. Not Yelp or Amazon Local or Yellowpages.com- I believe what Google tells me.


Why? Because Google knows.


What happens if you don’t have a website? If your cheap or free template that you’ve avoided or ignored for 5-10 years is your only web presence? I won’t find you. When I want to check in on Facebook to tell my friends about the awesome Thai food I just had- I can’t. You don’t have a page. If you think you don’t, you probably do.


Someone, hopefully not your competitor has created it for you.


I’m outgoing. My friends are all transplants. We find new treasures together. I use Trip Advisor sometimes. I don’t trust Yelp or Yellowpages.com. In a pinch, I’ll consider it but it doesn’t drive my buying decisions.


The basic breakdown is this: Evergreener’s stick to the restaurants and bars of downtown and the Northwest side. Outliers in Aberdeen, Yelm, Rochester and environs come for corporate homogeneity in the ever congested corporate West Olympia. The military folk stick with the big boxes and city-less, shopping centers known as Lacey. The few businesses in Tumwater are mostly for folks who live in Tumwater.


I’ve created a Meetup to try to bring community to designers, business owners and generally interested people. An educated marketplace is crucial to offering great services. An inability to discern tech buzz words from actual ability is an integral skill in the new economy. Putting the 20 year-old clerk in charge of Facebook just because they’re young is not effective.


Thus far, I’ve spent days just trying to find a centrally located meeting space with a projector. Seriously? Little to no meeting space in the capital of the great state of Washington? Wonderful.


Thus far it is unclear to me if Olympia remains on the fringes of the 21st century by choice or default. I am here. I am skilled, determined and operating the only all female tech firm in Thurston county.


Let’s see if I can shed light on this cloudy little cities website woes.