Following My Dream Of Becoming A Professional Web Designer
My name is Geno Quiroz and I am a freelance small business consultant and back-office service provider. By back-office services, I mean work usually done in the back-offices of small businesses such as bookkeeping, human resources, marketing, web design, SEO management and such.
The birth of Quiroz.Co came out of the intersection of two circumstantial paths. The first path being in an economic period of our country’s history that found many small business and organizations unable to maintain full-time or even part-time employees for such services. The second being a lifelong desire to be my own boss and to create the ultimate workplace experience I always dreamed about.
A Bit About My Backround
Being a graphic designer at heart and former graffiti artist in my early teens, I was drawn to the prospect of designing on the web. I saw the web as a way to legitimately express my creations across the world. And so back in the pre-Dreamweaver days of web design (early 90’s), I started using NetObjects Fusion and began learning how to design websites from a GUI perspective.
In my early 20’s, I started down a very diverse career path that had nothing to do with websites. This was the 90’s when business was booming and opportunities seemed endless. At the age of 20, I began working for a thriving tech company. By the age of 23, I had moved up the ranks from assembly line worker, assembly line supervisor, receiving supervisor, inventory control manager, contracts administrator to international sales manager.
And with the new influential position, I was able to convince this company to hire me to build their website to better reach my international clientele base. Thus my first customer as a web designer and the beginning of my first venture into the world of freelance which I named R.O.C. Designs (Really Outta Control Designs).
Because of the success of that first project, I was able to convert many of the company’s dealers and distributors into my own personal website design clients. Then came the dot com bubble burst in the early 2000’s and this company that had such a great influence on me would be purchased by a larger European corporation and dismantled shortly thereafter. So in the ensuing years, I found myself drifting from job to job trying to find that same thriving and opportunistic workplace environment.
Because the corporate world changed drastically after that burst, I found myself more and more discontent working for companies that simply could not provide that same experience. I also found it harder and harder to find clients for my freelance web design gig.
Trying To Keep The Dream Alive
So as I drifted from job to job gaining valuable & diverse experience, I still managed to squeeze in a few web-design related projects into the mix. Whether it was a new website for the company I worked for, or building them an intranet, or updating their existing one, even volunteering to manage my church’s website, I managed to keep the web design dream somewhat alive.
But over the years I failed to keep up to date with new standards and web design tools and I found myself falling farther and farther behind in the industry. I thought the wonderful world of web design had passed me by.
Getting A Second Chance
Then in 2012, our family was at a personal “Strategic Inflection Point”. So there we were, my incredibly amazing wife of five years Vivien, with our two boys (ages 2 & 3), and me having just stepped down from an influential position in ministry, also having just resigned from a part-time job that could not satisfy, and having just moved into a new city and into a new home with an extra room for an office.
With so much change taking place all at once, the dream to start a home-based business and be my own boss began to rise from the grave. It started with months of going through Craig’s List seeing all the part-time job openings for these back-office services. All of which I could do well, but did not want to get stuck working for a place that could not provide that thriving environment I needed.
So I figured I would promote my ability to perform these services and to help them to come up with more efficient and effective systems they could also maintain on their own. Within 5 months I was able to amass a few steady clients giving me about 30-40 hours of work per week. Unfortunately they were mostly bookkeeping gigs.
The Dream Revived
It would not be long before I started getting more website projects. I started by using html/css templates that I could easily implement and customize and I cranked out several websites in this fashion. It also helped to refresh and expand my limited development knowledge base.
But I knew I had I had to jump into CMS headfirst if I was really going to take the web design portion of my business any further.
Then Came WordPress
Then a friend of mine asked for some help with his church website. The host was shutting down its business and he needed helping migrating it over to a new host and he only had 7 days to do it. So I said sure, no problem. I can do that. Then I found out it was a customized WordPress theme. In fact, it turned out to be an Elegant Theme template (Deep Focus) but I would not know the significance of that until much later. Thus began my 7 day crash course in understanding the basics of WordPress.
To be honest, I was very intimidated by it even after completing the project successfully as I did not have access to the ET support at that point. But when another client of mine required the ability to get in and maintain their own site, I knew I had to go with WordPress.
Elegant Themes To The Rescue
After scouring the web for templates and providers, I placed my bet on Elegant Themes. I loved the idea of one price for all themes and I had already worked with one of their themes (Deep Focus). So for my first WordPress site, I used the SimplePress theme for my client RPO Designs.
There was not a lot of customization required by the client but there was enough to get me more familiar with the themes engine, and more importantly I found out just how amazing the Elegant Theme tech support team is. They helped me understand the structure and coding far better than I could have done taking classes or reading books. They were amazing!
So for my next WordPress project, I went with the Chameleon theme for The Appleton Grill. I had a great time customizing it and learning all kinds of new tricks and techniques. In fact, I felt so comfortable customizing this template; I did a website reboot for my first web design client, Max Builders Inc for free, converting their existing site into a WordPress site. In just a few hours, I was able to completely recreate their exact same website in WordPress using the Chameleon theme. I am now confident that there are already enough fully developed templates in the ET library to design anything my clients want.
Of course my favorite project has been my own website Quiroz.Co which is based on the TheCorporation theme. I get to do whatever I want with it and it makes for great experimentation.
As far as web projects go, I am in the early planning stages for a new client who designs and develops zombie game apps. This looks to be a very fun project. I plan to use the Aggregate theme and have already come up with a mock up the client really liked.
As for Quiroz.Co, one only knows. Our gross revenue rose 132% in the first 12 months which tells me there is a real market for this type of business. But out of all these services we provide, there is nothing I love doing more than working on websites. Perhaps it’s time to hire so that I can continue doing what I love. Either way, here I am at 38, and I finally have the dream job in a thriving environment and it was well worth the wait.
Article thumbnail image by PureSolution / shutterstock.com