The Internet boom has made it easy1 for anyone to show the world who they are and what they are doing. In this exciting marketplace, independent professionals can offer products and services to prospective customers, or simply present themselves and their craft in the online world, revolutionizing the way these professionals operate.
For instance, an artist can now display her artwork online (instead of organizing a physical exhibition), discuss job opportunities over e-mail, and ship her products to remote locations. A writer can self-publish his own content (whether it be an essay, a novella, or an entire work of non-fiction) and connect with readers globally. And a programmer can independently develop and distribute her own apps.
A physical storefront—contained behind no more than a thin layer of glass panes—used to be the main interface between a product and a potential customer2. This “window” for the customer is now a digital screen, and has found its way into almost every house, office, and pocket in the western world, through computers, tablets, and smartphones. And these devices have almost completely removed the need to go to the mall to browse and obtain services and products.
The physical store has moved to the cloud, to a tiny slot of memory in some data warehouse somewhere in the world. In this landscape, devices are storefronts, and websites are the “windows” for strangers to look at what you are doing. If you want to offer your craft to the world, you need your own space in the cloud—a space that anyone with an Internet connection can visit to learn about who you are and what you do. Otherwise, there’s a chance that nobody will notice.