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Creating My Own Web Design Business Helped Me Become A Better Dad

Posted on June 17 by in Customer Spotlight | 45 comments

Creating My Own Web Design Business Helped Me Become A Better Dad

This post is part of our Customer Spotlight series. If you have an interesting story to tell and would like to share your experience with WordPress and Elegant Themes on our blog, please contact us!

My first foray into the world of WordPress began shortly after my son, Miles, was born in November 2011. I had always been interested in creating webpages for various projects; up until that point this included school assignments, numerous bands and solo music projects I was involved with, as well as work for businesses and other charitable organizations. All of these projects were powered by simple do-it-yourself “website builders” regularly offered by various providers. Moreover, there had also been a recurring theme present in the background of anything that I had been working on: I always felt frustrated by the lack of customization options both in design and functionality parameters. Ultimately, I knew that if I wanted to change the world I was going to have to learn how to code or simply find a better platform that delivered more options.

Photo Credit: Sheena Lynn Harper www.whattheflashphotography.com

Photo Credit: Sheena Lynn Harper www.whattheflashphotography.com

So, going back to my son’s birth, it was shortly thereafter that I decided to start a dad blog; thus, inspireddad.org was born. The purpose of the site was based on my desire to encourage the sharing of inspired stories about the journey that is fatherhood, while also chronicling my adventures with my son. Originally, I launched the project on Blogger, but it was after a bit of research that I discovered WordPress. Little did I know, this would be a defining moment that would change my career and my life. Inspireddad.org, as a blog, never really took off, and that’s okay since it was never meant to be a commercial project anyway. I still try to post content, but the site has become more of a digital scrapbook for my own family.

The Defining Moment: My Epiphany

One day, as I was in the process of writing a post for inspireddad.org, I had a sudden epiphany. I thought to myself, WordPress is not like any other website builder I have used before. It is powerful, simple, and can be used for almost anything… and I can see myself making a living off of this one day. It was this thought that set me into motion, and I began learning everything I possibly could about WordPress—I became obsessed.

Setting the Wheels in Motion

A few months later I reached out to some of my friends who had existing businesses and offered my services. I ended up creating some websites via this avenue that both put a bit of money in my pocket and enabled me the opportunity to start building my portfolio. Next, I researched local businesses to find ventures that either had poorly designed websites or were lacking an online shingle, so to speak, altogether. Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard to find companies that fit this criteria. In order to appeal to this group of prospects though, I made use of my previous experience in life insurance sales to cold call these businesses, successfully setting appointments and closing some deals. Yes, this was a start, but I also felt that there had to be a better way to build this side of the business. If I didn’t change my own internal process, this dream would be relegated to a hobby at best.

Introduction to Elegant Themes

If I wanted to make a living selling websites to businesses, I knew that I would need to deliver a quality product while providing relatively quick turnaround. After doing some research on theme subscription sites I decided on Elegant Themes, as the service clearly offered a superior product at an affordable price. I honestly believe I might have given up on this dream if it hadn’t been for the amazing support that the ET team gave to me early on. This support, coupled with my own growing WordPress knowledge, enabled me the opportunity to launch approximately two dozen websites in my first year—which gave me the confidence I needed to take my business to the next level.

The Birth of Creative Click Media

When I founded Creative Click Media, I did so with the intent to grow it into a full-fledged Internet marketing company focused on delivering high-quality services at a reasonable price. Like many entrepreneurs, I too dreamed of a day when I could quit my day job and pursue my life’s passion. Moreover, one of my major motivations behind this was the fear that if I didn’t make this jump that I may miss out on my son’s childhood. I didn’t want to be that “worker bee” who was at work making the boss rich while I missed out on all of the cherished “firsts” and other events important to my family. I was tired of working the 16 hour days that required me to leave the house before Miles woke in the morning, only returning home after he had turned in for the evening. During that period in my professional life, I would work on websites until his 3am feeding—this was done just because I wanted to see him and didn’t have the chance otherwise. Ultimately, it was this insane schedule that propelled me to deliver projects on time—and motivated me for the next step in my career.

Building websites is actually just a cover up for our real jobs :)

Building websites is actually just a cover up for our real jobs :)

From Tragedy Springs Triumph

This was a tough time, and although I thought I might have felt miserable, I did not realize how badly my wife was suffering from postpartum depression. This condition eventually manifested itself in some very self-destructive behavior that caused her to be hospitalized, leaving me to serve as the primary caretaker for Miles. It was then that I decided it was time—I needed to take a leap of faith and quit my job to give Creative Click Media my full-time attention. I wanted to be there for Miles, but more importantly, my son needed me. Working for myself not only proved to be profitable, but extremely fulfilling since I was doing something I loved and was also allowed to be the involved dad that I had dreamed of becoming.

Divi And The Future

When Divi came out it didn’t take long at all to realize it was truly something special. Although I had planned to utilize Divi for my own site, I was very busy work-wise when it launched, so the first site I built with it was for a startup investment company client (www.invessence.com). My client ended up being very pleased with their new website and I eventually did get around to making the switch on my own site—decidedly still a work in progress. Since then, I have also launched an eCommerce store for another client using Divi (www.whatshield.com). Like WordPress itself, the beauty of the platform lies in its simplicity as well as the fact that it can be tailored to fit almost any need, whether it’s a one-page blog or a full-fledged eCommerce site. It amazes me how many beautiful and unique websites have been made with Divi.

Our redesigned website, made with Divi 2.0 is elegantly responsive

Our redesigned website, made with Divi 2.0 is elegantly responsive

The recent release of Divi 2.0 has only bolstered my admiration for the platform. Divi is the perfect theme for creative agencies and freelancers who are looking to build beautiful, responsive websites in an efficient matter. The addition of new modules such as counters and the newsletter signup widget have really made my life much easier as well. Moreover, the websites that I have built in Divi run much faster simply because I don’t need so many additional plugins to achieve my goals. In closing, I am so thankful for the opportunity that Elegant Themes has provided to me. The incredible support and products of ET have enabled me the chance to do what I love—achieving an entrepreneurial lifestyle that has allowed me to truly help my clients, while also giving my family my time and attention as a husband and father.

45 Comments

  1. Great article, congrats on turning faith in yourself a realty! Cheers to all of your ongoing success. We need more great local marketing and website design companies just like yours.

    • Thanks Steve. Isn’t it amazing what one person can do when pushed to the limit? I learned a lot about myself throughout this whole process and it has enabled me to grow both personally and professionally as a result. Well wishes to you also :)

  2. Great story Adam. I too am in the process of starting my own graphic and web design business, if not on a full-time basis, at least part-time, giving me just a little bit more pocket money ;-). And the funny thing is, we don’t live too far apart. I live in South Philly. You are an inspiration and give me hope that I will be able to walk away from an “office” and/or “corporate” job one day.

    • Gregory,

      I have enjoyed Philly nightlife many times. I even performed with my band at the Trocadero Theatre several years ago.

      I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason, and I am not sure how much longer I would have stayed at my dreaded job as a restaurant manager had I not had some major upheaval in my personal life. My advice to you would be to keep building your business and don’t wait too long to take the leap. Once I dedicated my full effort into something I loved, it became so much easier to succeed. Best of Luck!

      Adam

  3. Really inspiring story Adam, Can’t wait to see what the future holds for your business

    • Thanks James. I really like what you have done with divi on your site. Very unique!

  4. It’s always a good sign when designers use your theme. Glad I picked right. I honestly researched for weeks before deciding on ET.

    • You can’t go wrong with Elegant Themes. They were good when I started with them a few years back, but since Divi was released they have become even better. I can hardly wait for the release of their upcoming theme “Extra”. It looks like it will be another amazing flagship addition to their collection. Thanks for your comment, Will.

  5. Love your inspiring post Adam. Being a father for 22 years, I know what you mean. Keep up the good work, and have fun with Miles!

    • Thanks Jurrie. Miles is only 2 now so I’m hardly a veteran dad, but I can already tell the time is going by too fast. Watching him grow has really helped me put things in perspective and focus on the things that matter… like having lots of fun!!!

  6. Great story, Adam. Thanks for sharing, and nice looking sites!

    • Thanks Ahniwa. You know, I’ve actually launched a few more sites with divi since I submitted my story for publication and iv’e got a few more on the way. The two most recent additions are:

      http://www.whatwater.com – an eCommerce site for a national retailer
      http://www.fitfoodnj.com – an eCommerce site for a personal chef delivery service

      Thanks for the kind words. Enjoy!

  7. This is a great and inspiring article.
    Thanks.

    • Thanks Cesare. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Adam

  8. Really enjoyed your journey Adam! Like you, I have used Divi for several clients and I get nothing but raving fans. One of the many things that I like about all of the Elegant Themes themes is that they are fast and built properly. Check out any of them on http://gtmetrics.com and you will see great scores. These themes don’t have all of the bloat that you get from other theme sites.

    • I couldn’t agree more and I’m glad you enjoyed my story.

  9. Nice article Adam,

    And congratulations on the move to working for yourself.

    • Thanks Mark. It’s been an incredible journey and I am excited to see what happens next.

  10. Hi Adam,

    Great story. I wish you all the best for your family.

    DIVI is a life saver for me. I’ve been outsourcing some of the job that I can’t do but with the birth of DIVI I can now fully handle the website design projects which I really enjoy doing.

    Divi saves me a ton of headaches from unreliable outsourcers.

    • Jocelyn,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      I can relate to your desire to want to handle all projects yourself, because as the old adage goes “If you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself. Divi allows me to spend more time doing what I love which is designing and marketing, not coding. In the end my clients receive a site that is tailored to their specific needs at a great value. Working with Divi has also increased the speed at which I can handle support requests as well.

      By the way, I like what you have done with divi also. It is amazing how many ways this powerful theme can be used to create so many different designs.

      Adam

  11. Great read Adam! Proud of you and how far you have come. Miles is so lucky to have you!

  12. Hey Adam,
    As a fellow Toms Riverite for half my life (I now live in Florida), it’s good to see good things happening in my old hometown!

    Jim

  13. Such a nice story Adam Thanks for share

  14. Jim,

    Thanks for your comment. I hope all is well in Florida, and I appreciate you taking the time to read my story.

  15. A great story Adam…I find myself at a similar crossroads at the moment wanting to redress the work life balance and ready to make a leap of faith! Inspired by your tenacity and persistence in pursuing your dream. Elegant Themes is a fantastic tool and it’s good to see how you have harnessed it for your benefit.

    Any advice for making that leap of faith and how long did it take you to establish yourself?

    • Neil,

      I think we establish ourselves a little bit everyday. While some people may attach success or establishment to a certain set of accomplishments for me it me it’s a task that’s never complete and an ever moving target. It’s a mindset I keep in order to stay fresh and continue learning. But if what you want to know if how long I did this until I could support myself, then the answer is about two years :)

      My advice would be to network at every opportunity you get. Almost every town in America has a Chamber of Commerce. I am fortunate enough to belong to two Chambers of Commerce and a professional networking organization where the members are expected to provide referrals to each other on a regular basis. This works great for me since my job lets me interact with people in all different fields I am able to give many referrals, which makes me valuable to the other members who gladly return the favor.

      Doing this local networking has led to huge opportunities all over the globe. Recently I was hired by a wall street investment firm and a luxury hotel in Costa Rica to develop their websites. These opportunities only presented themselves to me because I was introduced by people I knew locally.

      Thanks for making me put my thinking cap on today!

      Adam

  16. Great story and inspirational. I’ve been on the fringes of doing this for so long and have been lacking the confidence with each site I make.
    This has given me a boost!
    Cheers.

    • Ian,

      That means a lot to me. I’m glad you found my story inspirational and I wish you lots of luck. Just remember, you don’t have to be the best designer or coder to be successful. As long as you produce a quality product, offer world class support and craft solutions to fit your customers needs you will succeed.

      FYI: I wanted to look at your site but your profile doesn’t have it linked up. Feel free to send me the URL

      Adam

  17. Hi Adam
    Its really too good to read your story. I have the same dream like you. I am from a different stream (PhD) but was interested in webdesign from long time. I am already ET member and love their themes+GREAT support. Even though I have done some sites for myself, I still struggle to get any client. This is mainly because I can’t approach people to offer my service. I am very shy and hesitate to tell anyone about this. I really love to see one day I build a business like you but do not know when. I do not have any sales experience or any kind of training which can give me confidence to get clients.
    Anyway, Congrats on your success. I keep reading ET’s blog everytime they post one and specially love inspirational story like yours. Wish you lots of luck in your future business. Have a great day!

    • Rim,

      I do have sales experience, and I can tell you it helped me get started and gain confidence in the beginning. Dare I say, I was even good at selling. The problem is that I didn’t like being a salesman, and people generally don’t like being “sold”. I quickly realized that the top guys in this industry, and many other industries don’t have to “sell”, at least in the traditional sense. What they offer is help and support. They offer a solutions to common problems, or better yet customized solutions to unique problems. When you do that, everything else sells itself. When you genuinely care about people, you sell yourself.

      One of Miles favorite movies around the time I started my business was “Robots” and one of the main character’s catch phrases was “see a need, fill a need” which really resonated with me. The whole movie is a parable about capitalism, but for me that one quote summed it all up.

      What I’m trying to say is focus on helping people and solving their problems, support your work endlessly and show people you care. In doing this you will grow your business without having to be a salesman. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what Elegant Themes does and look how well its worked for them.

      Best of luck my friend.

      Adam

  18. This article couldn’t have been more timely. I’m giving my notice in three weeks so that I can start my own web design/development business. I love to hear stories of those that step out and put their family first, while still pursuing their dream.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Good stuff.

    How do you handle clients that want to see a design first?

    • Congrats, I’ll be rooting for you!

      I typically ask a lot of questions ahead of time so this usually isn’t an issue. One other thing I always do that I have found to provide good insight is to ask my client or prospective client to email me links to several websites that inspire them, and also links to a few that do the opposite. Then I can dig deeper and find out what they like about each one and we can discuss features of the design together. I’ve found that this works better because people don’t necessarily understand web designer jargon. It also has the ability to uncover any other needs that could have been overlooked.

  19. Inspiring story both as a father and entrepreneur. Congrats and best wishes on continued success!

  20. Hey Adam,

    I loved hearing your story again and I think it’s SO inspiring to others. Just your drive and determination to not only work for yourself but be there for Miles is truly admirable. Of course it certainly doesn’t hurt that you have that wonderful talent with being so creative and now with all the different platforms that WordPress has provided us you now have a thriving and successful business from this.

    I applaud you my friend and bravo to you. Keep up the wonderful work and inspiring others that it doesn’t just have to be a dream.

    ~Adrienne

    • Adrienne,

      Thanks for your support and your positive attitude. It means a lot to me :)

      Adam

  21. Adam thank you so much for your story and reminding me just how important the love of our family is to us that tend to grafitate from them sometimes because of our dreams or projects. It really made me apprecaite the vision that has been laid on my heart and to continue to press on no matter what obstacles that comes my way, and to always remember Love conquers all. God bless you the business and your wonderful family.

  22. Edward,

    I’m glad you found inspiration in my story. Love is the best motivator for me and it sounds like it is for you as well. Have a great day!

    Adam

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