I liked Jodi from the first moment we connected in a Facebook group! She is super nice, calm and helpful, and has a great sense of style and pays attention to the details, something I always notice. We also share a love of all things Interior Design :) It's been such a pleasure watching her and her web design business grow in leaps and bounds over the last year and I am so happy to introduce her as my latest Studio Talk 5 guest.
I am a freelance Web and Graphic Designer located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I have always been a computer lover. I started out as a mainframe systems analyst and programmer but soon discovered all the creativity that I could unleash doing web design and graphics. My love of design started with doing house renovations. I found that I loved the challenge of coming up with beautiful and functional designs for my house.
When I am not at my computer you will find me in the garden enjoying plants and flowers, or on the tennis court playing my all time favorite game of tennis.
I am blessed to have a wonderful husband and two daughters. My husband and I get the privilege of being involved with premarital counselling for couples at our church. I am a huge tennis lover and would play everyday if there was time and my body didn't mind!
1) What is your professional background and how did you get into Squarespace web design?
I have a degree in Computer Science. I started out my career as a program analyst at a local insurance company where I worked for 10 years. I took a break from my career to raise my two children and then decided to return to my career. I knew I did not want to go back to working on mainframe computers and just coding.
Through various design projects in my home I realized how much I love designing. I never thought I had a creative bent before this. I designed a kitchen in my home, planning out every aspect of it and loved the idea of building something from scratch that not only looked great but was so functional. I knew I could transfer over this process to the online world and decided to go back to school to get my Web Design Diploma.
After I finished my schooling I decided to set up my own business as a freelance graphic designer. At that time I was using Wordpress. The tennis club that I play at asked for my help in setting up a website for the club. They had done some preliminary research and decided that Squarespace would be a great fit for the club website. I agreed to take this on and began learning everything I could about Squarespace. I quickly came to love using Squarespace and how intuitive it is and easy for clients to use. Also, no plugins or updates of software make for such a seamless experience! I decided to switch my own website over to Squarespace as well as start offering only Squarespace web design and I have never looked back!
2) What was your safety net (e.g. a partner, another job, savings etc.) when you first started out and how did that help you?
My husband has always been the main “breadwinner” in our family so I was blessed to have that safety net. This was so helpful when I started my business as I did not have a reliable income.
3) How many websites did you design during your first year and how did your clients find you? Please share three sites you designed during that time.
The first year I definitely did more of my “Squarespace Fixer Uppers’ which provide hourly help to Squarespace web clients. I did 8 full website designs that year. Unfortunately quite a few of my first sites are no longer active as their business have pivoted or closed up shop.
Most of my clients found me through different facebook groups.
Here are some sites that I designed the first year:
4) Do you have a niche market, or a speciality, or are you more of a generalist?
I tend to work with photographers and small business owners mostly. My dream niche would consist of photographers, interior designers/decorators and florists as well as event planners.
5) What are your 5 top tips for starting your own business?
- Educate yourself all that you can - When first started out I spent so much time reading everything I could about starting a business and setting up social media. It was all new to me and I soaked it up. I did lots of courses (free and paid), read blogs, attended webinars and joined a bunch of facebook groups with valuable information. Never stop learning!I feel like there is an endless amount of information that I am still learning and I love that I can pick and choose how I spend my time as a business owner. Making education a priority is important to me.
- Be patient - It was 3 or 4 months before I even had my first client. I spent so much time laying the groundwork that it seemed like I would never have a paying client! But I did, and all that ground work paid off.
- Get a support network - I am a member of some facebook groups and Squarespace Design Guild which offer support and help whenever I am stuck on something. Sometimes you just need the moral support and a boost. Running your own business can be challenging and it’s good to know there are others that have been there and can give some guidance.
- Offer help for free or low cost pricing at the very beginning to get some work in your portfolio. I started out doing the website for my tennis club and that is what started my career as a Squarespace web designer. I learned so much by diving into that project that I can apply to all future projects.
- Get a really good Client Relationship Management Tool - I use Dubsado and it has saved me so much time and prevented communication breakdowns. It has helped streamline my business in so many ways. I don’t know how I kept organized without it before.
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