Jamie Lawson had been building websites for many years. When she lost her job in 2016, she decided to try something new: going into business for herself. Jackie’s class helped.
Name of Business: Sailbourne Web Services
Years in Business: 5
What the Business does: I build and rebuild websites to dynamically represent small businesses and creative professionals.
How did it start? “I started building websites in the late 1990s, originally in plain vanilla HTML code composed in Windows Notepad. When I build a website, I am basically writing a small computer program. The code I write is what tells your computer to display a website to you, with all the words, images, colors and styles that are a part of that site. There are many tools to help this process, but they all end up doing the same thing.
Can you go into detail about your approach to the branding aspect of your web design? “I have been a writer nearly all my life, so the aspects of creating something new and unique, as well as telling a story, are my favorite parts of web design work. Sometimes I call myself a “technical artist” because of this creative aspect. I think the part I like the least are some of the tools I need to work with. Some tools are needlessly complicated and arcane, and considering that they exist in order to make a complicated process easier, I find it annoying. Not all design tools are like this, fortunately!
“About 8 years ago, I began helping friends and family with their WordPress websites, and about 5 years ago, I got my first paying clients. When I lost my job in the high-tech industry in 2016, I decided to take a new path and became a full-time web designer.” Jamie has gotten most of her clients from networking and personal referrals, buit also through LInkedIn and Alignable.
What is working now? “Building relationships with clients, learning many new skills and expanding my abilities to help my clients. Setting my own schedule and working at my own pace is great!”
Advice/Lessons learned/Take away: “Communication is paramount. When working with a client, particularly a new one, it’s really important to ask questions. Even more important is making sure you understand the answers. What seems obvious may not always be. It’s also really important to learn how to not take things personally!”
How do you get to the heart of what the client needs, that is if it seems unclear what their end goal is? “I have a direct discussion with my client — sometimes a series of discussions — where I ask questions to find out as precisely as I can what they are looking for. I’m in the process of developing a written questionnaire to standardize this. My earliest clients were all artists of some kind, so we shared a common frame of reference, but as I’m expanding beyond that, I’m learning that I need to be even more precise in the questions I ask.”
What class did you take from Jackie? “I took the Small Business Builders course. I think the most important things I got out of it were the importance of networking in building a business, and a really good understanding of the art and science of branding. These are both really key not only for me as an entrepreneur, but also in the work I do for my clients — websites are all about communication, marketing and branding!”