Interview with Jo Hamlyn – Web Designer
My first interview for my inspiring women series is a woman I am lucky enough to work with. I met Jo last Summer at a networking event and was instantly drawn to her, she is the double of a great friend and is one of those people who you feel like you have known forever. I am proud to say Jo is my web designer and has recently given my whole website an overhaul as well as helped me with my “bot”. I have referred Jo to so many people as she is great at what she does and a joy to work with.
Jo studied at General Assembly in 2016 and in early 2017 became a full-time freelance web designer. She works with Individuals and Small to Medium Sized Businesses who want to bring their vision to life in the Digital World.
Describe your business, what do you do?
I am a Freelance Web Designer. I work on my own, based at home in West London, and the majority of my clients are female entrepreneurs who want a website that truly reflects them and their personal brand.
I split my offer into three strands, building new custom websites and optimising existing ones for SEO. I also maintain and manage existing websites, so that anyone who is busy, a female entrepreneur for example, can focus on their speciality and not spend time they don't have updating or reworking their website.
What gave you the idea to start up your business?
I didn't have a lightbulb “this is a great idea” moment, my journey has been a gradual one.
I was working in a Drama School managing a programme of Young Peoples focused Outreach Projects and, whilst this was rewarding, I realised around the end of 2014 that I wasn't in a job or career that allowed me to be the best version of myself or reach my full potential.
After doing a huge amount of reading, listening to podcasts and TedTalks I realised that digital technology was something that I found incredibly interesting and, as much as someone who works in the theatre industry can, understood. I always use this phrase and I think it sums up perfectly how I feel – I believe in the future! I believe new technology and innovative ways of living and working have and will make our world the best place it can be.
Fast forward to 2016 when I trained as a Web Developer at General Assembly and then on further to April 2017 when I left my full-time job and went freelance as a Web Designer.
At that point all I had was a few months savings and my new key skills. The way I have formed my business, offering maintenance packages and focusing on working with entrepreneurs who want an individual touch to their website, has come purely from meeting the demand of the potential clients that I have met and have wanted to work with. So far this has meant I get to work with people I truly respect and enjoy creating for, and I offer them something that they really want and need.
What aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get the help?
Networking and making myself visible in an arguably swamped market.
I have been incredibly lucky, I am a member of a few networking groups, notably ToGetHerFurther, where I met Ruth, and other women who after working with me, advocate strongly for the services I offer.
What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?
FREEDOM! The ability to keep my own hours, not travel to work, wear what I want and eat and exercise on my own schedule is what keeps me going when I have moments of doubt or struggle.
Of course, working for yourself is not necessarily less hours, or easier, but it's incredible how much of a difference being able to wear a ripped Guns and Roses t-shirt all day and eat a freshly prepared lunch in my own kitchen has made to every aspect of my life. I'm probably a bit “fiercer” now and don't let anyone or anything waste my time or energy BUT, in contrast my relationships with my partner (Nick), friends, family and most importantly myself are vastly improved, I'm much nicer to all of them now than I was before I worked for myself!
What has been the biggest challenge?
Knowing when to stick and when to pivot. I have had moments of doubt when I've not had much (any) work and have wandered around local pubs enquiring about part time jobs and felt guilty and that haven't started looking at alternative income options sooner.
I've also had times of incredible success that have made me realise that focusing on anything other than my business to bring in an income is short sighted, and I should always have a bit of faith and develop my skills and services rather than seek alternative employment when times get hard.
I suspect I will sway between these two states of mind for some time to come, but I'm almost a year in and haven't needed that bar job yet. The longer that goes on the more confident I get.
If you could go back and give yourself some advice what would it be?
Move quicker and don't be afraid…of anything.
If you want to do something, like go freelance or run your own business, no amount of education or preparation can teach you the lessons you learn from just doing it. There will be hard times, but there will also be times of unimaginable joy and success, whatever happens the world won't end, you'll figure your way out of tricky situations (stop crying every day) and the quicker you start your journey the closer the joy and success are.
What are you plans for the future?
To travel. Once I am a little more established, the need to sell myself in person reduces and my testimonials and referrals speak louder than I can, I plan to work remotely as much as possible.
Nick and I have said “If there's good WiFi we'll visit”.
Jo specialises in
> Designing and Building Custom Websites
> Updating and Managing Existing Websites
> Search Engine Optimisation
She is passionate that websites can be dazzling whilst also being functional and easy to navigate.
Her portfolio can be found at johamlyn.com