My name is Babs and I love my WordPress life. I run my own business developing websites for small business clients, but the route that got me here hasn’t always been smooth or easy, and certainly doesn’t follow any career path that you can imagine!
I have always been a geek. In 1985, when I was 12, I received my pride and joy – an Amstrad 6128 computer from Santa. I loved that machine (and I’ve still got it). It was “state of the art” for its time, with a full colour monitor and built-in 3.5” floppy disc drive (although we still had to plug the tape recorder into the back of it to run most games!). From the second I switched it on I was hooked and before New Year rolled around I had taught myself to program a bit of code that popped up “Happy New Year!” on the stroke of midnight. Such simple beginnings!
Fast-forward a good few years, and with an Honors degree in Psychology under my belt I headed for the bright lights of London where I became a business consultant. Starting on the bottom rung as a junior programmer (what else?!) I worked my way up to being senior consultant, which meant working on global projects for international clients. I loved my job and it let me live and work in amazing places: London, Philadelphia, Belgium and Australia, among others.
Alongside my professional career, I was, by default, the “go to” technical support desk for friends and family. I always had an interest in developing websites and ran my own directory site for many years through the late 1990’s and into the mid 2000’s. Some of my more “tech-savvy” friends asked for websites, which I was more than happy to build. Back in those days it was all hand-coded HTML, progressing to a bit of Frontpage as the technology developed. The likes of WordPress as a CMS and “Elegant Themes” were still a good while away!
By 2007 the shine was coming off the international consultancy lifestyle and I changed jobs to be based closer to home. After my son was born in 2009 and a 500 mile move away from London to be closer to my family in 2012, a full-scale career change was needed. Like many parents being able to juggle work and family life was important to me, so I set up my own business in the hope that it would give me what I needed, both financially and for mental stimulation.
Being My Own Boss
Going into website development seemed to be a natural choice as a good mix of my own interests and professional experience. Looking around at other people providing website development services I quickly realized how few companies focus on the business-side of having a website. Having a great looking website is obviously good news. Having a technically well-coded website is great. But if it doesn’t speak to your prospective customers, doesn’t sell your services, and doesn’t deliver a return on your investment, then it really is falling at the first hurdle. I therefore developed a three-pronged approach that I use for every client I work with:
- Focus on good design
- Focus on solid technical coding
- Focus on the business goals and aims of the client
Alongside my professionalism, gained in over a decade of consulting, and the fact that I do all my own development work – never outsourcing it – my clients are assured of personalized attention to detail at all times and a top-notch service.
Why WordPress and Why Elegant Themes?
I took the decision early in my new business career as a developer to solely focus on WordPress websites. For me it marries the best of both worlds – a technically sound structure on which to build, coupled with the ease of use from the client side. The last thing I wanted to do was handcuff clients into unfair and long-standing contracts where they needed to come to me every time their website needed a small update. I firmly believe that if you pay for a website development service you should own that website at the end of the process!
Looking around for themes and framework to use for client builds required a fair bit of research and I tried a good few in the process. Some, like Genesis, were great and I still use them to this day. Some (that shall remain nameless) weren’t so good. I quickly found “Elegant Themes” and used heavily customized version of “Nexus” for a client site (which is sadly no longer live). Around the same time Divi 1.0 was released and I quickly realized its potential, using an early version of it on my own website. Since then I have built numerous sites using “Divi” including my own; a wonderful and quirky boys’ clothing eCommerce store called Attitudes and Chaos; an apprenticeship and training site for Umbrella Training in the UK; and of course my fantastic collaboration with Phil Simon which was showcased on the ET blog just a few weeks ago. I have always been impressed with the results and the flexibility “Divi” that provides out of the box, but the ability to customize it really takes it to another level. I always recommend “Elegant Themes” to others – not only because the themes look great, but also because the support staff are fantastic and there is a huge community of fans such as the Divi Theme Users’ Facebook group who are all too willing to share their help and advice.
I have to say that I’m excited as to what the future holds for both my business and me.
I am fortunate enough to have an amazing mentor and I have lots of ideas for the direction I want to take my career over the next couple of years while maintaining the original business ethics that are important to me. I’m looking forward to the long-awaited release of “Extra” and to seeing what new features “Elegant Themes” will put into “Divi 3.0”! I thoroughly enjoy my job and the challenges it brings, but at the same time it gives me time to spend with my son and time to be there for family.
As I said at the beginning, my career path to where I am now hasn’t always been smooth or easy. But I wouldn’t swap my wonderful WordPress life for anything!
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