The journey of becoming self employed as told in gifs

Monday, 30th March 2020

I am a self employed wordpress website designer or webdesigner, which ever way you prefer to name it
.. but, I didn’t start off that way.

Firstly when I was a kid I always looked up to my dad, a contractor, he always found good work and was respected for what he did. I wanted what I saw as the freedom to work where ever I wanted to. That was it, the seed that set me off.

I saw my dad travel to wonderful places like Sweden, China and other places in the south of England. Those other journeys may have been less glamorous around England but to me, I saw him set off in a car and come back in that car .. so that was freedom.

Secondly I always like creating things but wasn’t always great at drawing by hand, at least not the cool works I saw others achieve and I always heard ‘you’ll never make it as an artist’ in school and conversations around me.

It always felt like .. you, an artist?!

And .. dear internet, I listened and took that as fact! Never tell your kids or talk around your kids that they can’t do something or something isn’t possible, sometimes they’ll listen and that opinion becomes true ..

.. until the ‘I’ll show you’ nature kicked in! During college and discovering computer graphics and the amazing Ctrl + Z combination to undo something, wow, that revolutionised my abilities as an artist.

Ohhhh, I was such an introverted kid, still am in a lot of ways. I had a few harsh interactions with scornful kids mocking me: the deaf one at school, the quiet, slightly weird self-conscious kid with a large hearing box on a cord around my neck, with leads running up to my ears. Never felt like I fitted in but I still tried.

Thirdly, I didn’t want to go to University but I changed my tune fast when I learned of the salary difference I’d face without a degree! So I did my Bachelors and continued to earn a Masters in Information Management. It’s why I call myself a Masters certified Geek (certified, as in certified crazy) as a tongue in cheek joke, but with the truth at its core.

So while I am geeky, mostly, what I love about tech is what it enables me to do. The tech itself frustrates me just like for everyone else, but I’ve learned some ways of handling and understanding how it all integrates through trial and error and just doing it, and figuring it out along the way.

(This prior knowledge and experience is why you hire me, so you don’t have to do all that!)

While at uni doing my undergrad I was doing graphic design and personal projects for fun and stress relief. I purchased Adobe Photoshop 5 in cash at PC World and I also got my first camera in 2001 and I fell in love. Ohhhh, I thought I was a photographer and all that with that small, yet amazing little point and shoot but it got me started and I was ready to do so much more.

So I started a blog and website of my own and I thought I was brilliant at naming at that point .. so my name being Cathie and loving photography, I learned that the suffix ‘graphy means to write / create. Oh so smart and yet incredibly cheesy me, named it CathieGraphy. It rhymes! *rolls eyes*


I shared my work: photographs, graphic designs, logos, small websites that I made for myself and others. I learned A LOT through all those personal projects and little bits of client work. I continued doing this as a release valve of creativity from university onwards. I swear my photography and twiddling designs kept me sane while I learned the complex world of business and computer systems for my undergrad Bachelors degree, then Information Management for my Masters degree, and then moving into corporate IT in the pharmaceutical medical design world. I wanted to use my IT skills to improve the well being of people.

Dear internet, this should have been my clue to what I really wanted to do because I was already doing designs & photos for free and for fun .. yet i didn’t know I could do this for a living! I chose to become one person in the massive machine of business .. when I could have done it immediately one on one for those chasing their dreams. I did ‘get it’ eventually.

So I had earned my education and I also became a contractor for a short while, and then I got my first permanent job. A few years passed, I got to travel to some amazing places, I had fun and then .. it struck. My first redundancy. I felt bereft, like I wasn’t valued for what I did. I’d been volunteered by my boss for redundancy .. that hurt!

Right about this time I did something I wish I never had .. I took a backup of my website and then deleted it.

Yes I deleted it. Because I listened to a negative comment from a colleague, saying that if I wanted to be taken seriously as an IT specialist, I should not be showing my creative work. Why oh why did I listen to that when it gave me so much joy? Because, I was reeling from being made redundant and thought I needed to be ‘serious’ about what I thought would get me far in this world. Yeah .. uhuh, keep reading.

I managed to find another job reasonably quickly.

Then a couple of years later, yet again, another redundancy. This time it was site wide, everyone was loosing their job.

The world of pharmaceutical IT that I worked in shrank a LOT in those few years and could I find another job in that same industry? Could I carrots!

So while I learned to cope with that huge pile of negativity .. again, I tried my best to start a business. I tried to become a wedding photographer and was doing well .. but soon closed that business down when I realised I actually like having weekends for me and my family. Wedding photographers, work most weekends!

I worked hard at trying to find any way to make a living. Any living I could from my skills and applied to hundreds upon hundreds of jobs.

Finally, I had to acknowledge I couldn’t start up a business fast enough to pay for everything. So, I put my place out to rent and moved home with the folks. In return for them helping me continue to eat and have a roof over my head, I helped them with all of their challenges and there were a few .. namely all the challenges that comes with end of life care over a few years for my two remaining grandparents.

Plus working part time for a salary, while also building my own business, doing work for clients and finding time to spend with my family. It felt like a precarious balancing act.

At this point a potential client gave me a clue, which was then echoed when I went to a tech networking event. Very few people want to work with a business called Cathie’Graphy. So, I smartened up and changed my business name to The Heart’s Design, a geeky nod to the phrase ‘the heart’s desire’.

THD LogoTitle

Why name it that? I want people to follow their passion, the thing that lights them up with joy. I’ll help you with the tech and website / branding / photography / visual styling of what you do. So that you can follow your joy and in time making your living doing what you love.

So if you feel the need to have permission to get started working towards and living your dream life.

Life is made never a straight line, after running this business of building websites for a few years I will say that technology keeps a fast pace and I’m constantly learning something new.

There are times where its a slog. Or, moments of terror when something goes wrong with a site you’re responsible for .. but my ever-faithful backup systems always put it to rights.

Then you’ll occasionally have a client that just LOVES what you do and the joy .. oh internets, the joy of delivering work you’ve made and it’s valued, you’re valued because of your skills. Doing something that while not always easy, is something I can do from anywhere in the world.

I have plans people .. plans for travelling, of teaching online courses here on this website, of enabling you to be able to do so much more with tech. To work smarter, to have systems that automate work so that you don’t have to do all the nitty bitty details.

So here I am, a perpetually recovering perfectionist.

That knows wordpress and all the nitty gritty stuff about getting yourself setup for business online. In other words these things:

  • WordPress website design
  • branding design
  • marketing graphics
  • branding photography
  • social media
  • automation

Let me help you launch faster so you can be great online and have fun making your own income, your way.

Here’s to being self employed!

Ps. All gifs are from Gify

This blog post was inspired by Maddy Shine and her own journey as told in gifs, so I invite you to tell your story with the power of mini magic animations!

If you like what you’ve read, please share this blog post .. cheers!

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