My Wonderful WordPress Life

Posted on March 29, 2015 by in Customer Spotlight | 71 comments

My Wonderful WordPress Life

My name is Babs and I love my WordPress life. I run my own business developing websites for small business clients, but the route that got me here hasn’t always been smooth or easy, and certainly doesn’t follow any career path that you can imagine!

Geeky Beginnings

I have always been a geek. In 1985, when I was 12, I received my pride and joy – an Amstrad 6128 computer from Santa. I loved that machine (and I’ve still got it). It was “state of the art” for its time, with a full colour monitor and built-in 3.5” floppy disc drive (although we still had to plug the tape recorder into the back of it to run most games!). From the second I switched it on I was hooked and before New Year rolled around I had taught myself to program a bit of code that popped up “Happy New Year!” on the stroke of midnight. Such simple beginnings!

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Business Background

Fast-forward a good few years, and with an Honors degree in Psychology under my belt I headed for the bright lights of London where I became a business consultant. Starting on the bottom rung as a junior programmer (what else?!) I worked my way up to being senior consultant, which meant working on global projects for international clients. I loved my job and it let me live and work in amazing places: London, Philadelphia, Belgium and Australia, among others.

Alongside my professional career, I was, by default, the “go to” technical support desk for friends and family. I always had an interest in developing websites and ran my own directory site for many years through the late 1990’s and into the mid 2000’s. Some of my more “tech-savvy” friends asked for websites, which I was more than happy to build. Back in those days it was all hand-coded HTML, progressing to a bit of Frontpage as the technology developed. The likes of WordPress as a CMS and “Elegant Themes” were still a good while away!

By 2007 the shine was coming off the international consultancy lifestyle and I changed jobs to be based closer to home. After my son was born in 2009 and a 500 mile move away from London to be closer to my family in 2012, a full-scale career change was needed. Like many parents being able to juggle work and family life was important to me, so I set up my own business in the hope that it would give me what I needed, both financially and for mental stimulation.

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Being My Own Boss

Going into website development seemed to be a natural choice as a good mix of my own interests and professional experience. Looking around at other people providing website development services I quickly realized how few companies focus on the business-side of having a website. Having a great looking website is obviously good news. Having a technically well-coded website is great. But if it doesn’t speak to your prospective customers, doesn’t sell your services, and doesn’t deliver a return on your investment, then it really is falling at the first hurdle. I therefore developed a three-pronged approach that I use for every client I work with:

  • Focus on good design
  • Focus on solid technical coding
  • Focus on the business goals and aims of the client

Alongside my professionalism, gained in over a decade of consulting, and the fact that I do all my own development work – never outsourcing it – my clients are assured of personalized attention to detail at all times and a top-notch service.

Why WordPress and Why Elegant Themes?

I took the decision early in my new business career as a developer to solely focus on WordPress websites. For me it marries the best of both worlds – a technically sound structure on which to build, coupled with the ease of use from the client side. The last thing I wanted to do was handcuff clients into unfair and long-standing contracts where they needed to come to me every time their website needed a small update. I firmly believe that if you pay for a website development service you should own that website at the end of the process!

Looking around for themes and framework to use for client builds required a fair bit of research and I tried a good few in the process. Some, like Genesis, were great and I still use them to this day. Some (that shall remain nameless) weren’t so good. I quickly found “Elegant Themes” and used heavily customized version of “Nexus” for a client site (which is sadly no longer live). Around the same time Divi 1.0 was released and I quickly realized its potential, using an early version of it on my own website. Since then I have built numerous sites using “Divi” including my own; a wonderful and quirky boys’ clothing eCommerce store called Attitudes and Chaos; an apprenticeship and training site for Umbrella Training in the UK; and of course my fantastic collaboration with Phil Simon which was showcased on the ET blog just a few weeks ago. I have always been impressed with the results and the flexibility “Divi” that provides out of the box, but the ability to customize it really takes it to another level. I always recommend “Elegant Themes” to others – not only because the themes look great, but also because the support staff are fantastic and there is a huge community of fans such as the Divi Theme Users’ Facebook group who are all too willing to share their help and advice.

The Future

I have to say that I’m excited as to what the future holds for both my business and me.

I am fortunate enough to have an amazing mentor and I have lots of ideas for the direction I want to take my career over the next couple of years while maintaining the original business ethics that are important to me. I’m looking forward to the long-awaited release of “Extra” and to seeing what new features “Elegant Themes” will put into “Divi 3.0”! I thoroughly enjoy my job and the challenges it brings, but at the same time it gives me time to spend with my son and time to be there for family.

As I said at the beginning, my career path to where I am now hasn’t always been smooth or easy. But I wouldn’t swap my wonderful WordPress life for anything!

Article thumbnail image by Vetreno / shutterstock.com

71 Comments

  1. Congratulations… nice story!

    • Thanks Andrej 🙂

  2. fantastic and inspiring

    • Thanks Edwinchav 🙂

  3. Great to hear your story I am in the same boat as you, here in Ireland and I love my job and WordPress and Elegant themes.
    Cheers
    Sheena

    • Hi Sheena – thanks for your lovely comment.

  4. Way to go Babs! Question, do you set up any of your clients on a sort of recurring monthly payment structure for other services as well at all? Or do you just design / develop and then done? Thanks for a great (and reassuring) read 🙂

    • Hi David! Thanks for your comment. I do offer monthly maintenance for WP updates, security scans, backups, etc, for those clients (or external customers) who want the service as well.

  5. Wonderful story Babs. It was really nice to read about your journey.

    It always makes me smile when I remember careers week at school all those years ago… A job as a secretary was about my only choice as I certainly was not going to get married and “just” become a housewife.

    Technology and computers have really changed the landscape career wise and hopefully kids of the current generation have a little more choice When it comes to careers (not, I hasten to add, that there is anything wrong with being a secretary or a housewife).

    • Hi Kate! You’re so right. The accessibility of technology has certainly opened up a whole range of career options for parents who would previously have been faced with a stark choice of work or stay at home. Nowadays many mums and dads have the fantastic option of blending the too should they wish (which does, of course, raise up issues of its own!!).

  6. Congrats on the article Babs

    • Thanks Nick 🙂

  7. Great story Babs, thank you for sharing. I love your three pillars for each client website. It is imparative to keep the clients needs first and foremost. And thank you for all of your help and support with the Divi Facebook Group, it is constantly made better thanks to you.

    • Thanks Eileen!

  8. Great story, thanks for sharing. Hope business will continue to thrive for you! 🙂

    • Thank you Oliver 🙂

  9. Babs, we’ve had similar trajectories, except I started out a few years later on an IBM 8086! I’m not a WordPress developer but it has lead me to some fabulous creative projects. Thanks for a great story!

    • Hi Debra! Thanks for your comment. I love all these old computers. I’ve still got my Amstrad lurking at the back of my parents’ loft. It still works too 🙂 I wonder if our kids will look back on my current technology in years to come and laugh at how dated it is!

  10. That was a wonderful read. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks Mike!

  11. Great story Babs, has made me reflect on my own career story and how much I love working with Divi and Elegant Themes. If you ever happen to be in Norfolk, get in touch, I would love to meet up.

    • Thanks Tracey! Divi and ET are just great products to work with, and I know you’re part of the fantastic FB group as well. We occasionally pop down to Kent to visit the in-laws so we should try and arrange a London mini-meet sometime with some of the others too. Would be lovely to meet in person and have a natter 🙂

  12. I have started using WordPress for some of my clients and some are still old school Dreamweaver sites…such as my own which I will get to changing over someday…. I do have a maintenance program for my clients since the static sites are obviously tough to update without some software. I have used other CMS update code embedded in these sites but they introduce so much junk into the code that it makes me crazy. Even those who have one of my sites built in WP eventually ask me to do updates since they have no desire to do the updates or focus on proper style or placement of pictures and text. I would say 75% of my clients still ask me to do these maintenance updates. I also find ManageWP a great help in keeping everything centrally located for maintenance. I also see the maintenance program as a way to keep in contact with these clients who then can be referrals or will ask for addons. I am looking at trying DIVI to see how it works and how it can be used to build new sites. Thanks for your article….really enjoyed it. I too work at home and am retired from IBM…..website building keeps me active and my brain working!

    • Hi William and fellow ex-IBMer 🙂 Divi is a fantastic theme to use! The support from the ET guys is just great. I’m sure if you try it out and get familiar with the theme you’ll love it too. It’s certainly got a good number of fans all over the world 🙂

  13. Kudos Babs. What a wonderful write up on your background and what an inspiration. I have truly enjoyed trading tips and tricks with you over in the Facebook group. And its cool to know your story a bit more. You nailed it with your three pronged approach. I have yet to outsource as well but that doesn’t stop me from asking a lot of questions as you well know. For me it’s more about the passion of learning it, nailing it and sharing it. And I think that’s what comes through in YOUR work as well. Keep it going Babs and thanks for sharing!!!

    • Thanks Geno! Your work is an inspiration to me, and I know I am one of many who appreciate all the effort you put in to pushing the Divi boundaries … and sharing that knowledge with the rest of us!

  14. I felt a kindred spirit reading your story. We’re also pretty new to Divi and ET but so far have loved working with it and the supportive community is amazing! Look forward to learning more from everyone here.

    • Hi! Thanks for taking the time to read the post and for your lovely comments. The ET support is great and you should pop over to the Divi Facebook group too. There’s lots of support and ideas floating around there as well.

  15. Congrats, Babs!! Such a great feature:)

    • Thank you Libby 🙂

  16. Congrats Babs, it is very rewarding and happy to see you through out all the hard ship and work to where you are now. =)

    This is inspiring.

    • Thanks Boon 🙂

  17. Thanks for a great story Babs! Very interesting to read about the backgroud of one of my gurus! 🙂

    • Thanks for the lovely comments Veronika 🙂

  18. I love the three pillars. Great to read Babs!

    • Thanks Karin 🙂

  19. WordPress is a good blogging platform that fit for self-hosted and easy to use with friendly user interface.

    I’ve use a elegant theme in my WordPress blog and it’s excellent.

  20. Really enjoyed reading this.Thanks for everything
    Joseph

    • Thanks Joseph. I’m glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

  21. Great story, quite a bold choice to abandon your succesful career to pursue what you really enjoy doing. Everyone should do that at least once in life 😉

    Good luck!

    • Thanks Sietse. It’s not always easy to change path, but it can be very rewarding! What is it they say? “Feel the fear and do it anyway” 😉 Thanks for reading the article and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  22. Hello Babs,

    Thank you for the great article. I am just learning to build websites using Word Press. I have enjoyed it greatly. I was laid off in 2008 from working in high technology projects for over 28 years and have worked a few contractor jobs but now finding difficulty finding a good job, possibly because of my age but I want to work for at least 10 more years so I am developing my skills at building websites. I have a lot to learn and very curious about charging structures and design/support methods commonly used that are fair. I bulk at the thought of feeling I have overcharged for me services. I am imagining that I could learn a great deal from your experience. Please continue to write great informative articles!

    Thanks again!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Paula. Best of luck with your new venture!

  23. Hi Babs,

    Nice case study 🙂 I had gone through your website and had seen your portfolio page. I just want to ask if those Portfolios of yours are all website designs? I see that you do offer SEO training and Social Media Strategies as well, do you mind sharing with me how your Social Media Strategies work? Do you have any portfolio for Social Media Strategies? I want to implement Social Media Marketing on my new website but have no clue where and how to start.

    • Hi Jeremiah – Thanks for your lovely comments on the article. Feel free to email me about social media consultations and I’ll see what I can do to help.

  24. Great story and very inspiring. Sounds a lot like me. I left my full time job to become a web developer so I could spend more time with my family. Keep working hard and I wish you blessings all the way.

    • Thanks Karaza and best of luck to you in your venture as well.

    • Thanks Deep 🙂

  25. That’s a wonderful story. It’s very inspiring for who want to start our own business. Thanks

    • Thanks Diseño – Good luck for your new business venture too!

  26. Very much enjoyed your story. As several have said, very inspiring. Good luck with the future and enjoy your family. They will grow much faster than you can ever imagine!

    • Thanks Cham. That’s so true. Time certainly flies past 🙂

  27. Lovely inspiring story and ringing bells with a lot of folk.
    ‘Work to live’ not ‘Live to work’
    Now to find a demo for Divi

    Thanks
    George

  28. Great story Babs and truly inspiring! And oh! Iove the latest site you created with Divi. Thanks for this motivation. Cheers!

    • Thanks BB. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  29. Really amazing story Babs.Very much interesting to read.Enjoyed your story. Like you,I am trying hard to become a web developer.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Hafiz and good luck with your venture as well!

  30. Baba, great story, I too started coding at 12. Do you find that custom coding is harder with so many short odes in Divi. Do you do much custom CSS and PHP?

    • Great article Babs, really inspiring as I start my own WordPress journey.

      • Thanks Ian. Good luck in your journey too!

    • Hi Tom. Thanks for your message. I have to say I don’t find coding in Divi any different from using any other theme. In fact the ability to embed custom CSS IDs and classes makes it easier in some respects. I always use a child theme, that goes without saying, and I think I have custom coding in every site I do! Divi is great out of the box but the ability to manipulate it really takes things to the next level.

  31. Great story and very inspirational to me as I’m just starting out. I still work full time but hope to make the move soon.

    I have great memories of those early computers, I had an Amstrad 464 and then moved up to an Amiga 500 which really blew my mind and I still wish I had one today!

    Thanks again for the great story.

    Steve

    • Good luck to you too Steve! The old computers were great. Especially as they were so completely groundbreaking for us who were teenagers when they became accessible to everyday families. It was such a huge technological leap forward which is why I think they’re so fondly remembered by so many of us!

  32. Hey Babs!

    Loved your inspiring story…

    Both umbrellatraining.co.uk and attitudesandchaos.co.uk are neat sites.

    We are using Elegant Theme’s Divi Theme for our WordPress website and I was wondering is it easy to add that little block under active page in the primary navigation.

    I didn’t find answer from the Support Forum and I would be so grateful if you could ease my pain because I don’t have any particular coding skills etc. I know that I could manage it from ePanel’s Custom Css but I don’t find the Snippet. 🙂

    Best regards,
    JP Fagerström

    • Hi Juho. Send me an email with the link to your site and I’ll take a look for you 🙂 Or try joining the Divi Theme Users’ facebook group. There are loads of code snippets there and you may get a quicker answer depending on your location and time zone!

      • Hi Babs.

        I sent you an email from your website’s contact page.

        Many thanks for your response, I do appreciate it!

  33. having worked with divi for about a year now and it being my first wordpress endeavor; i am still constantly discovering new options and ways to improve my site – i’ve begun reading about other users to get inspired, was enjoying your article, and then bombshell : a facebook divi group how did i not know about this?!?! can’t wait to check it out

    thanks for sharing
    cute circus – http://www.cutecircus.net

    • LOL Cute Circus. You should definitely pop by and say hello 🙂

  34. Hello, thanks for the great article. Your venture sounds so much like my own (minus the moving). I’m only 6 months into my (similar) business venture after spending a decade with a global marketing company. So far I’m loving every minute & excited about the future. I did about a year of research and testing before finally choosing WP and ET/Divi. I am getting better every day. Some day I’ll get to sprucing up my own website as it was one of my first with Divi, but for now my my existing networks and referrals are keeping me busy. Thanks again for a great read!

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