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Traveling The World With Elegant Themes

Posted on October 7 by in Customer Spotlight | 32 comments

Traveling The World With Elegant Themes

This is a post by Pamela Rubio as 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 Pamela Rubio and I’m the founder of Paru Creative Services specializing in graphic design and web development. Prior to starting my own business, I lived in Toronto, Canada and worked in Client Management for a medium sized marketing company. I’ve always been creative in nature and as a hobby, taught myself how to code and use graphic design and web development software. To improve my skills, I also took on the role of graphic designer at the company I worked for and eventually built up a pretty decent portfolio.

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Although I thoroughly enjoyed my job, it had always been my dream to travel and live in different cities. I took every opportunity to travel – negotiating with my boss for extra vacation days and jumping on every opportunity to travel for work. I become pretty notorious for volunteering to go on every business trip whether it was in Edmonton in the middle of winter or Honduras in the middle of nowhere. My ultimate dream however, was to have my own business and travel full time! At the time it was just a pipe dream. I had no idea where to start, where I would find clients or if my portfolio was even good enough to do it full time.

In 2010, I was sent on a business trip to Panama to review a real estate project and take photos for the project’s marketing materials and website. I was thrilled at the opportunity and never would have imagined where that trip would lead me. Wouldn’t you know it, on my second day in Panama, I met my wonderful partner Josh. He had travelled to Panama to develop an eco-adventure tour company and had been living there for a little while. With him as my tour guide, I quickly discovered what a beautiful country Panama is with its gorgeous beaches, lush jungles and a modern, and bustling city. What followed soon after was a long distance relationship spanning two continents. After a few months of both of us traveling back and forth between Panama and Toronto, I started to become more serious about my dream to venture out and start my own freelance business and travel full time.

That’s when I discovered WordPress.

Making The Leap

I had limited knowledge of coding but I knew my way around html and CSS. I was thrilled with the prospect of downloading themes and customizing them with my own designs. It was right in line with my design skill set and knowledge of web development. When I first started searching for places to download themes, it was overwhelming! How do you choose between free themes and others going for $125 per theme? After hours of searching, I finally settled on Elegant Themes because of the price point and the great reviews I read online. What I found were well-structured and beautifully-designed themes with the most amazing customer support forum where I learned tons of new skills on customizing WordPress themes. That was the moment I knew I was on to something! I found the confidence to get the ball rolling and things went into lightning speed from there. I got rid of my downtown apartment, sold and donated all my stuff and moved into my brother’s basement to save money. I spent months learning everything I could about WordPress and improving my skills in coding and graphic design. I also started networking and creating valuable relationships to secure clients. My first project was my own website www.parucreativeservices.com using the MyProduct theme – which I recently upgraded using the Flexible theme:

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I soon quit my job (with the blessing of my employers who are now one of my clients) and hauled my worldly possessions to Panama to live there full time. One of my first web projects was Josh’s eco-adventure tour company called Panama Outdoor Adventures using the My Cuisine theme:

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Forward to three years later and my business is going strong and I’m still traveling the world. Things have gotten so busy that Josh has taken on the role of Project Manager in charge of client relations and business development so I can focus more on design. We have a great balance of work and traveling and adventuring! My life is a far cry from the Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 rat race that I lived for 10 years!

Here are a few of my favorite work moments so far:

  • Dodging bats and snakes while exploring a cave to take photos for a tourism website.
  • Meeting new clients while sailing the Caribbean waters in the San Blas islands.
  • Taking client requests while vacationing in a mansion in Hawaii.
  • Skype conference calls poolside while sipping mojitos in Philippines.
  • Flying back to Toronto for a 2 month contract with my former employers.
  • Living in a brand new beachfront condo resort for 2 months for free while I worked on their new website
  • Hanging out with monkeys and parrots and other future residents of the newest zoo in Panama while I work on developing their website using the Flexible theme.
  • Me writing this article right now from the Caribbean island town of Bocas del Toro, Panama where I am working on developing a new website for a boutique hotel.

Moving Forward

I feel so fortunate that I get to be creative, do what I love and help businesses prosper. I think it’s amazing that something like WordPress and Elegant Themes could have such a profound effect on the direction that my career has taken. Thanks Elegant Themes, for giving me the opportunity to share my story. Please keep those amazing themes coming… I still have a lot of traveling to do!

paru-sand

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32 Comments

  1. Thanks Elegant Themes for posting my story! As I type this right now we are packing to head to Vancouver, Canada for another project!

    • Very inspiring story. There is nothing better than working with what you really like.

    • Thanks for sharing Pamela. It’s always great to read our customer’s stories!

    • Pamela has done amazing work for us at Bala Beach Resort and we always look forward to tales of her and Josh’s travels! Keep on being fantastic!

  2. Great post Pamela! Inspiring too, to see you are from Toronto as well!

    • Yes I’m from Toronto! I was born in the Philippines then my family immigrated to Canada when I was 9. I love Toronto… such a wonderful city – 5 months out of the year. It’s waaaay too cold for me to love Toronto in the winter!

  3. I want her life!! This is a beautiful read and definitely envy-provoking. Love it!

    • Thanks Irene. Definitely sounds nice all summed up in an article but there have also been lots of challenges and hurdles along the way! This lifestyle is not for everyone… Sometimes you’re on a nice beach, other times you’re crashing on a friend’s couch looking for that next client. If you’re flexible and open minded and don’t mind the sacrifice here and there then the pay-offs are definitely worth it!

  4. Thanks Elegant Themes, congratulations Pamela

  5. Very nice post and great pics!

  6. I wish I can also have such lifestyle, to work remote and travel around globe.

    • It’s actually a lot easier than I expected. Needing a lot of money to travel is a myth! I meet expats all the time doing all sorts of work from web/graphic design like me to yoga teachers, massage therapists, personal trainers, artists and writers, travelling the world and making just enough for that next adventure. Imagine how little money you actually need if you didn’t have a mortgage, a car, credit cards and just stuff in general. I always choose experience over material things.

  7. Nice post Pamela! Loved the last photo :) Good luck with your next destination.

  8. Great inspiration for all of us, Pamela. Congratulations on being able to break open a new life and be able to use the power of WordPress to help do it.

    Have you any tips to share about business development? Things that you did or people that you knew that helped you develop a strong enough business base.

    Best,

    Scott

    • Hi Scott, thanks for the kind words.

      As for business development, when it comes to web and graphic design, it really does boil down to who you know. I always go above and beyond for my clients to make sure they have a positive experience and hopefully they come back and even better, refer my work. I survived the first 2 years on referrals and word of mouth. After that I started signing up for industry-related blogs to get ideas on how to market myself. One great idea I came across is to contact ad agencies and design firms directly to see if they need help during their busy season. This also eliminates having to manage the end client yourself which frees up a lot of time to just design. Josh also has a pretty solid reputation in Panama running the eco-adventure tour and he’s been very good with connecting with the right people to get us clients.

    • If I may be so bold as to expand on Pamela’s reply…

      One of the most important things to remember when developing independently or as a small business, is that no matter how good someone might be at providing a service or producing a product, actually running a business offering those services or products introduces a whole different realm of relating and operating.

      More than just bringing clients to the table, my background in small business played a big part in considering important factors such as establishing effective and replicable pricing structures, proposal processes, client management, professional networking, reputation management and many other components to operating a successful business.

      To expand on the professional networking component, we really believe that it is very important to build strong relationships with other professionals based on integrity, professionalism and desire to grow. Maintaining an effective network of like-minded individuals – even if in unrelated fields – offers knowledge base, experience, perspective, resources and even moral support when we need it most. We love working with our professional friends!

      So no matter how good you might be at something, breaking out as an independent or starting a business requires a very open mind, a willingness to fail and a strong never-ending desire to learn something entirely new. Without this flexibility, many folks end up relying on just finding clients and making enough money to survive, instead of building a scalable enterprise that they can grow and thrive on.

  9. Awesome work Pamela!!! Great inspiration for all of us!! Natural destination is gorgeous. Thanks for share

  10. @Pamela. While I was doing my undergrad in computer science, which actually pushed me into pursuing web development, my friends wouldn’t agree that I could travel the world with web design. I now know that they were very wrong…Congratulations on your story.

    • Sometimes the best motivation is people telling you you can’t do something!

  11. Pamela, thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us!

    It couldn’t be more right time for me to read this as I was about to start learning how to develop websites and then start looking for my first clients and then slowly escaping a 9-5 job pattern and being able to travel as well.

    Thank you once again and all the best on your inspirational career! :)

    • Good luck Timur! It’ll be challenging but very much worth it!

  12. Hi Pamela,

    Are you aware that you have no Meta Description on any of your pages?

    Regards
    George

    • Hi George. Thanks for the heads up. That’s actually good to hear because I recently got pharmahacked and my meta descriptions were all for Cialis and Viagra. I had to update and clear everything… still working on it!

  13. Great themes. I also like travelling . I often took a photos about area that i went ang post on my blog. I think that Tumblr Themes is good..

  14. It’s amazing to be able to work with a designer and developer of Pam’s caliber. She is obsessive about the aesthetic appeal of her work and the adventures that our combined efforts have taken us on have been epic! It’s really a pleasure to be able to promote, sell, manage and work with someone that reflects my own ideals of quality, integrity and professionalism.

    Cheers to surviving and thriving in the good life with you Pam!

    *besitos*

  15. And the reason why such customer showcase sites and stories aren’t on the front page of Elegant Themes is…? I’m not a PR person, but this would be a killer way to get new folks to join up. Just sayin’. And yes, I had to come back to read again. {{{sigh}}}

    Pamela, you rock! Challenges and all! What impressed me most of all was your bravery to “just do it.” Congratulations.

    • Thank you Irene! I feel blessed everyday that I don’t have to wear pants to go to work. ;) lol

  16. Great themes. I also like travelling….

  17. Hi Pamela,
    Your story is really fascinating. And the themes uploaded here are amazing. However, I would like to ask you how you chose your travel destinations? According to your work or just you go to the country you wish? And then work from there.
    It is so nice to hear that there are people who are working and enjoying what they are doing.

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