+One Year

independenceday1yearOne year ago today was my first day as a full-time solopreneur. This is the photo I shared on my personal blog along with some cheesy beach/ocean inspiration one-liners.

I am beyond thrilled to have reached this day with the lights (and cable) still on and my self-employed health insurance still in force. 🙂 My first goal this year was to keep the bills paid. My second goal was to get back to Italy. That hasn’t happened…yet. But I’m ready, I have a some Euros in my wallet and my passport at the ready.

During my first full-time year I’ve had some amazing clients and learned a few lessons along the way. I’m still a work in progress as far as my daily schedule goes. Some days I work too much. Some days I play too much. And I don’t miss my alarm clock or my daily commute one bit! I do miss my friends and office chats though. A lot! It’s been a full year of lunch on Tuesdays with my work BBF’s and I look forward to it each week.

I’m still learning how many projects are the right amount for my schedule and my sanity. There have been a few months that I’ve said yes to too many projects or cut the deadlines a bit to close for comfort. Long days and no weekends have been the norm for more months than not. I wouldn’t trade it for anything though…well, maybe a trip to Italy.

I love what I do every minute and I feel tremendously blessed to be able to make a living doing what I love. Bring on year two! And year two WILL include a working-cation in Italy. Make it so number two…oh wait, there is no number two around here. 🙂

The back-story for anyone that’s interested—–

For about 7 years Web Design was my side hustle. It started as I was working in Human Resources and pursing my degree in IT/Visual Communications. I had the opportunity to dabble and learn a bit to code and design. I had always enjoyed the techy side and making things pretty. What started out as designing hobby projects for myself and friends, morphed into a way to make a little extra money. And as a single mom that was very appealing. I remember the first time I sat at Chili’s with some friends of friends and told them what I would charge for a new site. I was secretly holding my breath and scared to death! They didn’t even bat an eye and wrote me a check for the deposit right then. Design by Thauna was born and I have learned so much since those early designs. (I wish I had the time and resources to offer any of my early customers still using one of those first designs a free redesign because, oh man I’ve upgraded my skills!)

I started out building static HTML sites and customizing Blogger blogs. And then I discovered WordPress and Studiopress. OK, I didn’t discover it but it was like the angels sang and the heavens parted. This WordPress beast finally made sense to me with the Genesis Framework.  I fell in love hard and fast with Genesis, all the child themes, the flexibility and the amazing community of #genesiswp developers.

Design by Thauna evolved in Bellano Web Studio. In case your wondering a bit, the name Bellano has two meanings for me. First it’s very Italian and I’m obsessed with Italy and a struggling Italian student. (someday I will speak Italian) Second, it’s the street where dreams come true. Bellano is one word that sums up my dreams of Italy and being my own boss.

It’s ironic, when I was in my 20’s and early 30’s I would say that I didn’t have the entrepreneur gene. I was busy being a mother and just trying to provide for my family. Once I started Web design I wanted to be my own boss so badly and it drove me to keep pushing, learning and growing my business. I had finally found work that I love.

I worked as a full-time Web Designer for a large corporation designing sites for small to medium sized credit unions. It was fun, I loved it and I learned so much. Working with different credit unions across the country gave me a chance to practice working with clients and it was more diverse than you’d imagine…or at least than I imagined when I accepted the position. Each credit union has it’s own niche, community or trade, so they were different design wise and it was enjoyable to create a site targeted toward each audience.

After 3 years in that position I returned to the University setting to work at the Web Designer in the HR department where I previously worked (and left to become a Web Designer). It was awesome to return to a place where I had so many friends and knew everyone. I went back in a part-time position with the plan to grow my side hustle to make up the difference. That was great until the workload increased and I went full-time. I redesigned the department Web site and started on some other development projects. But my dream to be self-employed was growing and growing.  I tried to resign once but was convinced to go back to part-time. I happily agreed because I was scared and all my friends were there. And you know, health insurance, a steady paycheck and retirement are good things.

Finally I could not ignore the whispering of my heart to work for myself any longer. Some friends and family thought I was a little nuts. Security is hard to let go of and even harder when you’re single and don’t have a spouse’s income to fall back on when work is slow. And you have a new house and big dreams of Italy. But dreams are meant to be followed.

I still sometimes think I should stop playing around with fonts and color schemes and get back to work and then I remember this is work! I’m a lucky girl.

But I do have the entrepreneur gene after all and my dreams are worth chasing. If you have a big, audacious dream I say do it and I’m here cheering you on throughout your journey.

And if you need a new, or redesigned, Web presence to support your dream head over to my services page and check out how I can assist you. I’m currently accepting new, awesome clients.

Ciao!

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