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Following My Dream Of Becoming A Professional Web Designer

Posted on March 27 by in Customer Spotlight | 57 comments

Following My Dream Of Becoming A Professional Web Designer

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!

Introductions

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

quiroz

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.

What’s Next

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.

survivorz

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

57 Comments

  1. Excellent story, Geno! Your website looks great, and it is so exciting to hear how you’ve been able to pursue your dream job! Best of luck in the future :)

    • Thanks Jamie. Love your site as well.Great work using TheCoporation theme! :-)

      • Thank you very much! Currently working on a new one, using Divi (but of course!) ;)

  2. Your story was inspiring Geno, thank you very much. Further customization work you did in TheCorporation was great. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    • Thanks Paolo. I love your use of colors with Divi. Also love that logo. I am just starting my first Divi project and love it!

  3. Great story , fast growing about webdesign.. Wait for next..

  4. Geno,

    Great reading the story and of course knowing first hand the elements of it. Thanks for all you do for our ministry and most of all for being the true friend who stands behind his work, awesome job!

  5. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us. Cheers to your continued success!

  6. Love to hear stories like this and congratulations on your success. Gives me hope for my own situation, thanks for sharing.

  7. Great story. I love to hear things like this. Your zombie site looks amazing!

  8. Great story ! I’m moving along a similar path to you (although a little further behind) and you’ve given me some much needed inspiration and great ideas. Good luck on your journey !

  9. Thank for sharing this motivated story!

    I wish if I know Elegant Themes’ story from A to Z. Can Mr. Nick share ET story?

  10. A heartening story. Thanks a lot for your sharing!

    • I love your website Edward!

  11. Geno,
    You wrote a very inspiring story of what you have accomplished so far. I am envious of your graphic arts background. I wish I could say that the Elegant Theme tech team support has been there for me but they haven’t. They only refer me to their forum and their faq page. Good luck to you in the future & spend as much time as you can with your boys. They grow up so very fast.

  12. I feel very blessed to have you back in my life Geno, we have know one another for about 14yrs now and timing is everything especially gods timing. I love to read how you have gone through your journey with such purpose, prospective, and perseverance and your faith only grew . Keep the Dream Alive n inspiring people like myself so we can all achieve The Dream ! Love you Bud

  13. Great story, nice to see when someone gives working on what he likes and does well.

  14. Nice story,
    did return incentive of this work.
    In Italy now also nice to work as hard to create websites.
    Thanks for inspiring :)

  15. Web design is exciting … I focus to help small businesses, companies that begin to emerge, before working with html and css like but my brother told me, forget about html, you must learn wordpress! and here I am. excuse my English (Google Translation)

  16. Well i must you are a true inspiration for your dear ones..really a great achievement u made !!! Liked your blog a lot…thanks for sharing your story with us..!!

  17. Really Inspiring story, I am also passionate about Web Designing, Looking forward more from you.

  18. This is a great post – I’m an artist myself and it’s always good to see people following their ambitions! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Darren. Loved your website. Great content!!!

    • Darren great site you have. Loved that video of the face and butterflies, where’s the share button?

  19. Very cool, thanks for sharing? Were/are you part of a church?

    • Thanks Jesse. I am currently living in the Monterey Bay area. I am one of the Pastor/Elders at Connect Los Banos (Formerly Calvary Chapel Los Banos). But I am originally from Santa Barbara. In fact I see that your business services some of my old stomping grounds. I lived and worked in Camarillo for about 7 years.By the way great website. :-)

  20. Geno, thank for sharing your story! It is very inspiring

    • Thanks Andi

  21. Truly inspiring story, Geno !!

    Even though an artist for last 8 years, I’m still chasing dream of being my own boss.

    Congratulations that you made it. It definitely gives me hope, thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Jacob. Don’t give up on that dream!

  22. Admirable, Geno! I wish you for your great job.

    • Thanks Satish. I appreciate it.

  23. Really awesome story! And I LOVE what you did with TheCorporation theme! I recently redesigned my company’s website using that theme.

    Your business model is really interesting. My company is losing our receptionist/secretary (she is retiring) and we are in the process of trying to figure out how to replace her. I know many companies are in the position we are in (needing staffing, but having a low cash flow). Sounds like you have really found a niche that is needed!

    • Thanks Sarah. Its definitely a business model that has had to adapt to the times.
      I like what you did with your website. Good luck on your search for a new receptionist.

  24. Thanks for sharing, never late to learn.

  25. Great post Geno. I´m in a similar journey at the moment and I´m wondering if you have any piece of advice about how to approach small businesses offering your services. Thank you and good luck!

    • Thanks Manuel. For me, I knew my target audience was going to be small businesses and non-profits. So I strategically volunteered my services to some local non-profits and community based organizations for free. It gave me experience, contacts, and an instant referral stream. And second, build relationships. It may mean finding a way to take someone out to lunch or out for coffee and don’t be so quick to pitch. Use an approach that says you are interested in their business but you understand it’s in the clients best interest to have a relationship they can trust.

  26. Really very interesting post. Too many people today dream of becoming a professional web designer. But it is fact that becoming a professional web designer is a very challenging as it requires a lot of dedication, hard-work and creativity.

    • Absolutely. A LOT of hard work! :-)

  27. Hi Geno!

    While reading your great story i became more interested when i read the line, “even volunteering to manage my church’s website”. You’re really awesome! I’d love to visit your church online ;) . God Blessed You!

  28. I am so happy you are living the dream of becoming a web designer! I was one for 16 years and have returned to my former career in fashion.

    I am phasing out my web development business and my fashion business has exceeded my sales in web design. The thing we both have in common: passion for our careers.

    I am glad there are people like you out there getting into web design. I had to change careers for both health reasons and financial reasons. In 16 years, my blood pressure went into stage 2 hypertension and I gained 50lbs not to mention all the Diet Mountain Dews, long hours and many junk food meals.

    My advice to you is make sure you take care of yourself. Being a web person requires a lot of sitting, sitting, and more sitting while looking at a computer screen. Take breaks often and keep researching new ways of creating web design and development. Also, if clients and/or co-workers start harping on you about things, make sure you have folks to vent to. Half the time, they don’t understand the process and make things more difficult than they should be.

    I lost the passion of web design and now found it again in my reunited field of fashion. Make sure you don’t loose the passion. Makes a world of difference.

    Best of luck and keep it up. :)

    • Thanks for your tips Margy. I totally agree. It takes some real balance. Something I am learning but have a long way to go. So glad to hear that you have been able to transition your artistic and design abilities towards something as fantastic as fashion. Good luck in your transitions :-)

  29. Really very interesting post. Never stop learning, Never lose hope.

  30. Nice article, how much do you charge for a site like

    eliterentalinformation.com ?

    • Thanks Michael. The Elite Rental site is currently in it’s first phase. It cost $600. The next phase includes integrating PayPal manager into the website so that people do not need to get re-directed to PayPal. Although with the release of 2.0, I may just integrate it with the shopping cart/woocommerce feature instead. Then phase 3 includes a back end portal so that members can log in and view their personalized rental information. Its going to be spread over the year so that the client can spread out the expense. Shoot me an email if your interested in a personalized quote. :-)

  31. Awesome story Geno! I am so glad ET sent out your story from April in my email this morning. I feel I got to know you a little better. I really love your work and reading your story has opened my eyes a bit. I have been so impressed and focused on Divi that I have neglected the fact that ET has 88 other great themes! God Bless my friend, keep on keeping on and thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks David. It is fun working with the other sites so try some out when you get some time. But I know what you mean with Divi. I have used it for my last 6 projects :-)

  32. Hi, your story is same as mine, and I recollected my days. Recently I felt I am doing websites for my clients in old ways. Same photoshop, dreamweaver. Need of hour was responsive websites, later I started using templates, but still not satisfied as it was not having my creative ability to be show cased. Many websites I made. But then someone told me they use wordpress. I knew nothing about wordpress. Had checked it few years back but that time I had no idea the power of wordpress. I always thought it to be non creative way of creating websites. Finally when I saw a few websites, I felt I need to do wordpress. Followed a fewyoutube videos and it does nto take time for a prod0fesaional to realise the power of wordpress. Though late, atleast I started using it.

    • Thats awesome Ravindra. We are definitely in the same boat. Glad you are on board with WordPress. I have found it to be an amazing community. Keep it going!

      • Hello,

        I found your story to be very inspiring. I have been dabbling with web design using WordPress for about 3 years now and I feel very confident with my skill level, however, there are days when I am not so sure of myself and I think I under price my services. I saw your price chart and I thought it was spot on and thought maybe you could give me some pointers on the amount I should charge.

        By the way I think your site is great !!

        Dora :)

        • Thank you Dora. I tried to find an email on your website but I could not find one. On my website, you will find various ways to connect with me. Send me a message either by email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc and I would love to share some ideas. Just remember, its easy to doubt yourself when venturing out or when business is slow. Sometimes you have to drop the price every now and then to keep busy. But your estimates will get better in time.

          Most importantly stay connected with other designers. Both on here and on other forums such as “Divi Users” on Facebook. The best thing about the Divi community is that it is full of encouragement and even potential customers.

          Connect with me through my website and I will be more than happy to share more thoughts on the subject!

  33. Geno, I absolutely loved your story it’s very inspiring and also hits home with me as since i have come across ET i am now using only ET’s! I currently am building up my business, just as you have done, however still working full time and doing the websites with every last bit of spare time i have.. but hope to work toward doing websites only eventually! Good luck with everything in the future!

  34. I really love your post and yes its important to bea professional webiste desingn to keep happy your clients.

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