Monroe Career & Technical Institute for Architectural Drafting & Design - Certificate of Completion
Sara’s online experience began early. At age 12, she started playing with the simple Web design elements AOL offered, and it wasn’t long before she was teaching herself code, designing killer presentations and even adding her creative touch to her friends’ MySpace backgrounds. Evolving from hobby to passion, Web design was the obvious answer when she decided to go into business for herself and work from home.
Now, Sara stays busy as the owner and creative genius behind Sara’s Divine Web Design. Since 2011, she’s designed more than 20 sites from the ground up and made it her mission to give her clients a product to take them to the next level. As Sara puts it, she gets to spend every day “turning people’s dreams into reality,” and truly loving what she does for a living.
Don’t let a difficult challenge stop you from reaching for success.
What inspired you to pursue a career in Web design?
When I was 12, my parents brought home our first computer. I used to spend my time after school playing around with AOL Hometown, learning how to add graphics to a blog and how to develop a website. Then I began using the program to design my social studies projects and presentations. My teachers were always impressed because I spent so much time perfecting every little detail of my reports. My first successful website was done for a project about Elizabethan architecture. I would stay home for hours, teaching myself all about codes, layouts and so much more. Eventually I began developing MySpace backgrounds for my friends back in Long Island, NY.
I was fresh out of high school in 2010, and with my first child I decided I needed to work from home. That’s when it dawned on me. Although I had spent my previous four years in Monroe Career + Technical Institute studying architecture, I realized I could easily apply everything I learned into the Web design field. Building websites from just an idea to a running website became my new “thing.” Around the same time my family’s business needed a professional website, so I took advantage of the offer to do the job and realized this was what I was meant to be doing. So, in 2011, I started my own company: Sara’s Divine Web Design. I now have more than 20 satisfied clients since my company’s inception, and I love what I do for a living.
What does your job involve on a daily basis, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
Because I am a stay-at-home mom, my daily tasks vary. Some days I grab a coffee and head out to run errands, meet with clients for brunch or simply spend the morning with my children. Other days, I jump on the computer bright and early in the morning—checking emails; following up with clients; working on price quotes; developing websites; providing social media marketing plans, creative and productive business consultations; creating graphic designs; working on advertising services; and, of course, I enjoy extreme website makeovers! That’s really just the start of what I do.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I absolutely love challenges from my clients. When a new or existing client contacts me I never know what they are going to throw my way. Sometimes they need a strategically targeted marketing plan, or an event planning service, or a complete rebranding of their company, or a new Facebook page or help with search engine optimization for their website. Regardless of what services I perform, my favorite part of my job is inspiring my clients to bring their business to a whole new level and delivering so that I can help bring their ideas to life. Our generation is providing opportunities every single day to grow. Sometimes my clients just need some guidance while getting acquainted and connected to this new world of technology and social media. That’s what I like to think I am here for.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
From the moment I lay down to sleep, my mind just goes 1,000 beats per minute, and often I can’t seem to find the quiet button. I am constantly brainstorming, thinking of new goals and pondering challenges that lay ahead of me. I am always looking to offer my clients the freshest ideas and innovative solutions to better market themselves. For example, I want a company’s new Facebook fans to ‘Like’ their page, but also convert into paying customers. I need to stay on top of my game as technology is forever changing. I enjoy inspiring and motivating myself to be 10 steps ahead of my clients so I can better guide them into their new business platform.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Life throws unexpected things your way, especially when you have young kids. It’s just inevitable. Sometimes things can become overwhelming when you are trying to run a successful business from home. When things get stressful, I always sit down and just release. I jot things down. I plan out my week. I prioritize and organize through any obstacles that may occur and just keep going with the flow. Life does not come with an easy button, but it does give you the opportunity to make the best of what you have.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I can't believe I have this job?" What was it?
When I first started my company, I was confident in my services. I was dedicated to get myself out there and just market in every way possible. Once I received my first big website job I was so excited. I analyzed their business information and wanted every aspect of the website to reflect the founder personally and professionally. We went over questionnaires, put together checklists and prioritized goals, needs, wants and dreams. Then, one day after a lot of work, the website became a reality. I called the founder on the phone to tell her the exciting news that her website was completely finished! She was so excited, she called her husband over to her computer. As soon as the website loaded up, all I could hear was the sound of her crying! She was so overwhelmed with her new website that her future hit her ... right before her eyes. She could barely talk. The website was beyond what she had imagined it to be. We completely customized it to the fullest, and I’ll never forget the feeling of success.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Some of the rules I live by are: Always being ready to take on a new challenge. Don’t let a difficult challenge stop you from reaching for success. Always analyze the situation. Plan your moves strategically. Respect your boundaries. Communicate openly and effectively to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction is reached. Never give up. The most challenging projects will only make you 1,000 times better at your job.
What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?
Working in the website design industry, you really need to be determined, motivated, excited, prepared, organized, willing to learn, optimistic, tech savvy, trustworthy, responsible, enthusiastic, creative, innovative, driven to succeed, capable of satisfying your customers, ready for anything, prepared to meet any changes and have excellent time management.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
If I could tell my 21-year-old version of myself anything it would be to stay focused on your business 365 days a year. Other opportunities may come into your hands, but deciding to take them will make the ultimate difference. You never know how successful you can be in your career until you test your limits. Always stay true to your business, and don’t ever give up or become sidetracked. It’s OK to explore other opportunities, but don’t put them before your business. It will truly pay off if you stay focused; it did for me!