How Cheese, Tea & Divi Jumpstarted My Freelance Career

Posted on December 28, 2014 by in Customer Spotlight 24 Comments

How Cheese, Tea & Divi Jumpstarted My Freelance Career
Blog / Customer Spotlight / How Cheese, Tea & Divi Jumpstarted My Freelance Career

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 name is Deborah Engelmajer and I’m a French born and raised cheese lover that now calls Australia home.

A few years back, while still in France, I discovered a passion for Chinese and Japanese teas and started walking the streets of Paris in search of the perfect cup of tea.

Cheese, tea…you’re wondering where this is going?

Well, as my interest grew, I realized that even if my friends thought I was crazy, there were a few people out there sharing the same interests and I decided to launch a blog. As I didn’t know what HTML, CSS or even FTP meant, I was looking for a platform with a big community to help me develop my site. I couldn’t have found a better match than WordPress for that.

My interest for tea is clearly not as strong as it was (I am currently drinking a warmish cup of instant coffee) but this first experience with WordPress turned out to be a big eye-opener.

I discovered Elegant Theme at the same time, as the theme I decided to use for this first website was Aggregate. The reasons for choosing ET were similar to those that made me choose WordPress: a strong community, a support team to help you when you need it, and a wide choice of themes to choose from.

Slowly but surely, I managed to customize the theme to get to the design I wanted and my interest for the World Wide Web grew stronger. Studying a Degree of Business and Marketing at this stage, I specialized in Online Marketing and have never looked back since.

A couple of years ago, I arrived in Australia to finish my Masters Degree and started looking for a job in Sydney to complement my studies.

That’s how I started to work for Australian Surf Tours, a company that takes people on some of the most beautiful beaches of the NSW south coast to teach them how to surf and show them what a real Aussie camping experience is.


I was hired to help with the Adwords campaign, Search Engine Optimization, and with the website updates and general maintenance. At this stage the website was built with ModX, a good Content Management System for experienced developers but not exactly an easy-to-use platform for someone with no coding knowledge. As the business grew, we wanted to turn the website into a successful e-commerce website and get a bigger part of our bookings coming from the Internet. It became clear that we were going to need some serious changes to achieve this goal.

We wanted a website that was responsive, SEO-optimized, modern and easy to update so that the maintenance could be done inside the company, not by hiring a developer every time a change was needed.

Since I first used it, WordPress went from an easy-to-use blogging platform to a renowned CMS powering one of 6 websites on the Internet.
I knew its potential and the decision to use WordPress was easy.

I just had to find the right theme for the job. One that would allow me to do a good deal of customization to achieve the look wanted, let me add extra features smoothly, and that would still be easy to manage internally. Divi ticked all the boxes. It is flexible, intuitive and highly customizable. It allowed to create complex layouts, and to focus on the way the content is going to be organized rather than on the coding. This means better SEO, and a better user experience for the visitors, which is key in order to get more sales. I couldn’t recommend it more strongly.


Looking back today at my first steps with WordPress and ET, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come. If you’d have asked me two years ago what I would be doing today I would have answered anything but this: I taught myself HTML and CSS, dived into PHP and JavaScript (and still learning…), went back to school to add some Adobe skills to the list (Graphic Design course), and I started working as a freelancer.

It has been long hours of work, book reading and self-study and I know that the road is still long. But what started as a DIY project now looks like a business plan, and pay for part of my rent, my food, and my coffees (and I drink a lot of these).

I’ve already reduced my hours of work elsewhere and I’m in the process of launching my own website, offering web design and digital marketing services and, well… it’s pretty exciting!

If you are new to the world of web design and digital marketing, I would strongly encourage you to keep exploring WP and to use Divi for your projects. I hope it can offer you as much as it has done for me!


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  1. Excellent work, Deborah…

    • Thank you !

      • Hi there,

        I was wondering if you are still in Sydney. I am looking for someone who knows Divi and can teach me a thing or two.

        I left a message on your Facebook page and you can contact me on the address shown, hope to talk soon.

        kind regards


  2. As time allows send me an email and let me know some of your services offered.

  3. A real life experience … great job.

  4. Sounds a lot like my journey except I started quite a bit earlier. I entered IT and a network administrator and passed all 7 novel and microsoft exams to gain the CNE, MCSE distinction. It wasn’t long before I realized that as good as the pay was, I was not the perfect fit for network management. In the process I taught myself html, and java script then later css. I had taken a desktop publishing course in 2001 which provided me with graphics skills and the use of all the software available at that time. I moved to Florida and got my real estate license and used the internet exclusively for all my marketing. This meant I technically grew up with marketing online as it was developing. When wordpress came along, it was a no brainer…so I had to learn some php and delve deeper into other languages like jquery. I learned Joomla and WordPress and still use them today. Moving back to Canada forced me to switch roles so I focused on online marketing and web development using mostly WordPress or Joomla. In 2012 I entered into a contest with Elegant Themes and won a lifetime membership. That in itself has been a gold mine. I’m now developing an e-commerce site for a client using joomla and another for another client using wordpress. Elegant themes fits perfectly. Their newsletters and updates have provided much needed insight. I am finally developing my own site using the Devi theme, squeezing it in between other jobs. In the new year I plan on focusing on my own online marketing and getting out of web dev for clients. Less stressful for me as most clients have no idea what they want and it changes on the fly which adds to man hours which they don’t like to pay. So….reading this article helped me see that it’s not unrealistic to expect to earn a full time income online using these amazing themes Elegant Themes provides.

    • I find your reply a bit impolite. It is like writing your own customer spotlight over the one from Deborah !

      Anyway nice site Deborah and i like the cool css tricks you did 🙂

    • Hi Anna!
      And thank you for sharing your story. It is definitely possible to earn a full income from web design with the help of tools such as the Divi theme. But I am surprised about that bit about hours your clients don’t like to pay.. truth is no one ever wants to pay more. I’ve learned the hard way last year that the more you give, the more your clients take. I now won’t start a job (any – a full website, one hour dev, 2 hours dev etc..) before a clear written agreement is made of the work to be done and the cost. You have to get paid for the work you are doing.. or these clients changing their mind on the fly will bring a lot of stress into your life 😉

  5. briiliant. And well done.

    • Thank you 🙂

  6. Great going Deborah. Been a long time Elegant Themes customer and when I decided to rebuild my company website last year, Divi checked all the boxes for me as well.

    • Hi Karaza,
      Divi is great, I have been using it on other projects since then and it never disappointed me!

  7. Deborah,

    I love the site and enjoyed reading your story. I am also a little jealous of that beautiful Australian beach in the photo 🙂

    Best of Luck.


    • haha thank you Adam! Yes Australia has a lot to wasn’t that hard to swap my beloved French cheese for the Australian white sand beaches..!

  8. Great story! I love the Divi Theme! Question; how did you get the color rollover tabs with content to the right in the section “Take The Tour”?

    • Yes, I’d like to know that also. (And, …. some of your other changes.)
      Gorgeous Site!

  9. Hello this is an amazing work, very good use of Divi. Slider, contact form, booking form, service presentation are excellent.

    • Thanks ! I am also planning on doing soon some slight modifications to the typography I used to improve the content readability 😉 Also planning on doing some A/B testing..!

  10. Neat story. And nice site. Very nice. I see that you’ve mastered reducing the overly deep horizontal margins that Divi places between major page elements. Thanks for sharing, Deborah.

  11. Hi Deborah, you did a wonderful job overall and I like the color scheme you used. However…. picky as I always am, there are a couple issues on this website that caught my attention. The first one is that many of your images are too large in size (and I mean file size, not dimensions). For example, I downloaded one of your header images and it was almost 1 MB. When I took it in Photoshop and did File > Save For Web > jpeg high (60%) the size was reduced by almost one fourth and the quality was still excellent. So if I were you I would go back and optimize all your images in the same way I did, and re-upload them. I’m located in Holland at the moment, and the images downloaded too slowly for me on high speed cable.
    Second, and this might not be your idea or work. The logo seems a bit lost to me. The text on the logo is illegible… I would redesign it, or just use a larger version of this logo so you can at least read the text. In CSS you can adjust all the settings so it looks just right in the header.
    Other than that it’s great! 🙂

    • Hi Leontine and thanks for your feedback! I agree with the pictures issue. Unfortunately I am not always the one to upload them onto the site. I have noticed the pages are very slow to load as well and optimizing the pages is number one on the list at the moment. I am working with it with the SEO team.
      Would you use PS over tools such as ?
      I always had good results with it.
      For the logo, I dont think a redesign is possible atm, but will definitely increase the size in the header !
      Thanks again!

  12. I like your design Deborah. Great job! Question is… how did you placed the content on the page with the sidebar? Thanks for your input.

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