Student Spotlight on Janet Hoover
Today we’d like to introduce you to Janet Hoover of Blue Tail Designs.
Janet is gorgeous, whip-smart, and an incredibly valuable member of our support school. One of the things we admire about Janet is that she totally *gets* what her clients need — she loves building website that not only look good (and dare we say great!) but work properly, are user-friendly (for you and your clients), optimized for SEO and are safe and secure just like the crown jewels in the Tower of London!
Let’s get to know Janet!
Tell us a little about your journey to be a web designer. How did you get interested in designing and/or developing websites?
I’ve always been sort of an artsy, nerdy type but was never able to follow that dream of doing what I love full time on my own until the GG2WD (which is now Web Designer Beauty School).
For 18+ years, I worked for a national real estate developer. Luckily, I loved my job and got to do 1 thing I loved all the time – help people. One of the cool things about our company was that we had our own in-house marketing department (full of some pretty awesome creatives). Every now and then…I got to give my 2 cents and help out. I LOVED that and I learned lots from them. But… it made me want to have a full-time creative career even more.
Being a single mom, going back to school and changing careers wasn’t really an option. So, I pushed my dream aside, because you do what you have to do, right? After I got married (about 8 years ago now), my company started to change and I had an opportunity to start phasing myself out and pass my baton to someone else. I’d been there so long, made so many great relationships and gone through so many milestones…it was a really tough decision – I wanted to leave and I didn’t, I was excited and scared!
I finally decided to take the leap and went back to school, I really wanted to be able to use Photoshop, create digital art and make beautiful websites. I took the accelerated program and got a degree in Digital Graphic Arts – LOVED it! I was doing things I really loved and wanted to learn even more.
Describe your design and/or development skills BEFORE you started this course?
Before this course, from the little I learned from my job and the massive amount I gained from school…I’d say my design skills were between intermediate to advanced. My web design and development skills were beginner to intermediate.
Can you recall what you were struggling with?
I wanted to learn how to use WordPress. It was all so confusing and wanted to understand how it all worked (in school we created websites from Dreamweaver and html) – what plugins were, what were themes, how do I make things look the way I want, etc.
Can you recall your #1 concern, fear, or challenge that you had before making the decision to join the course?
The thing I was scared of most was that it might not be exactly what I was looking for. That it might just be another course that I learned a little but I wanted to know ALL of it.
What did you discover was actually the case?
I actually got more and learned more than I expected! Not only did I get step-by-step instructions but all they whys and what-ifs were answered too. Everything was perfectly explained with perfect examples to go along with it. If I, or someone else had a question about how to do a certain thing or make something look a certain way – a new tutorial was quickly made.
What is the #1 result you saw as a result of this participating in this course?
Knowledge and confidence in my design and development skills which resulted in being able move from a business I started in graphic design to a full web design business. Exactly what I wanted to do! Make things beautiful on the web!
What are three other benefits you received?
This is a HUGE list! But my top 3 are…
– ALWAYS having a place to ask questions, where no question is too big or too small, where you can get quick answers by people who LOVE to help you and see you accomplish all you are doing. A place to collaborate, get ideas, support, learn new things, make friends (I could go on and on…) One of these great benefits is when you have an “emergency” and need help right away – someone is ALWAYS there to help! I’ve been repaid for my investment to the WDBS over and over again. To me….it’s a priceless investment!
– I’ve made some great lasting relationships, found great people to work with in other areas (like copywriting, coaching, etc.)
– Because it’s a place that’s always evolving with the latest trends, Google rules and any other updates that come along, I have a place to always learn from and trust that I’m getting good info from people that know their stuff.
What are you doing now that you didn’t know how to do before you took the course?
Building beautiful WordPress websites, helping people with problems they have on their current website like updates, or other tweaks here and there (that’s so fun!), being able to help people with their website security, backups and other updates, making magic with CSS…wow…this list could go on for days!!
Can you describe your current work situation? How do you balance it with “life”?
I work from home and have actually taken over a spare bedroom as my office. I have 2 assistants (our rescue dog and my daughter’s dog who comes over everyday) they are always there to lend support but the majority of the time, actually sleep on the job. When I first started working from home, it was a little tough getting into a routine – I would catch myself starting a load of laundry, running an errand, etc. all that in my head I thought would be really quick…before I knew it…it was noon. I quit those really “quick” tasks and now am actually productive! I also miss having someone right there to bounce ideas off of like I had at my corporate job but with our group it’s like having someone there all the time. Once you get the hang of working from home and working for yourself – you’ll never go back. I love it!
How has your attitude and perspective shifted as a result of the course?
Having and knowing that you always have the WDBS to go to with anything has given me the confidence and courage to do the thing I was dreaming about – making the web a more beautiful place!
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on more tutorials and resources to give our clients of The Essential Website (exciting!), I’ve got 2 websites that I’ll be building soon, designing a new logo, creating better processes and other systems to make things easier for my clients, and already talking about another new venture with my new business partner (more adventure!) just a few things…along with my normal monthly web management clients. 🙂
Who do you work best with?
You’d think that you would know this right off the bat but it’s taken a while to figure out my ideal client (and it’s always a work in progress) but, I found I work best with people who are nice, thoughtful and respectful. People who value what I do and understand the the benefits of working with an expert/professional who they can trust. I work with a lot of people who are tired of DIYing and trying to figure it out on their own but want to invest in their business and are ready and willing to do their part to get where they want to be.
What’s coming up next for you? Are there any projects you’d like to share with us?
I just partnered and with my friend and fellow web designer/developer, Stefani Harris with The Creative Solutions Project (who I met through WDBS!) to create, The Essential Website! We JUST launched and are so excited about this new service that will help small/new businesses get a beautiful, professional website at an affordable price! We have 4 layouts to choose from that are custom designed by us and are built exactly the same way we build our custom sites. They’re mobile friendly (responsive), set up with security, backup, premium plugins, and a lot more. We’ve also created a member’s area to get tutorials and other resources. It’s going to be a great adventure, I’m excited about building this business and we’re looking forward to being able to help even more people shine online!
What’s the best compliment you’ve received to date about your work?
Wow, I’ve had so many nice things said that I can consider to be the best! I’ve been able to work with and help some really great people. I’ve been told that I’m an “internet genius” and I’ve had lots of clients say that I was able to help then reach their vision with creative ideas, that I had amazing insight to what they need and that I am able to create incredible, professional results to their project.
We LOVE that you’ve been a huge supporter of WDBS since it began and have been a part of our world for a lot longer than that. What is it that you love about our community?
Just knowing that I always have a place to go to, to collaborate, to ask questions, to vent, to share wins, to learn from and most importantly get superior support when I need it is absolutely priceless! I’ve made some amazing friendships and business relationships that I’d never had made if it weren’t for this group.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in web design?
Anytime I hear of anyone interested in learning web design, I send them to WBDS. There is no better place to learn. You can learn as much or as little as you want. Learn just to be comfortable DIYing or go all out and create websites for people all over the world like I do! It’s the place you’re gonna get easy to understand tutorials, easy to learn lessons that make sense, a full all-around comprehensive school with support and lots more.
The next thing I’d say would be to be patient and have fun! It can get stressful and overwhelming because there is SO much info out there. If you’re going to be a WordPress designer, choose a theme you like that’s flexible (you can create anything), supported (like Thesis) and stick with it. Don’t try and use just any WordPress theme when you create a website. Stick with a theme and become an expert at it. You’ll be able to better help your clients, you’ll be more confident in your skills, and by becoming an expert, you’ll be able to grow and shine that much faster!