You know that saying: “do what you love and the money will follow”.
I am not sure that this statement really reflects the truth, because so much more goes into success than just your passion. I’d say it is true you would be more likely to be successful if you do something you love, because it will be easier to work long hours, to face adversity and persevere, to stick with the program through the inevitable ups and downs of life and business. For me, regardless of whether “the money will follow” part is true or not I have always chosen to work with things I love.
My first business ever was a cat sitting business. Cats are a great love of mine, always have been, and running my cat sitting business for 15 years was a true work of passion, especially since it required working 365 days a year, taking no weekends, and spending hours upon hours in traffic every day.
My second business was centered on selling alternative health products. When I entered into the field of alternative health, it also sprang from personal passion, having struggled with health issues from a very young age, I was excited to share what had worked for me with world.
What does this all have to do with the “impostor syndrome”?
Let me tell you how it relates to the story of how I went from owning a cat sitting business & marketing health products online, to doing what I do today, which is web design.
16 years ago, I started out by creating websites for my two businesses, and very quickly discovered that it was something I absolutely loved doing. I used a DIY software at first, but soon realized that I was not willing to live with the restrictions it imposed. I found that learning the code behind it was the only way I would achieve my desired end result.
In addition to creating my own websites, over the years I also built sites for family and friends, and even business associates. I constantly kept educating myself in the field of web design. Yet I did not officially open for business as a web designer until a year ago.
Given how much I love this work, you would think I might have put my shingle out sooner. What held me back was simply a feeling of not being good enough. I think this is something that holds a lot of people back, and not just in the field of web design, but many other fields as well.
In the field of web development, there are always new things to learn, it is always and ever evolving and when it comes to web design there is the creative component, and I believe creative people are especially vulnerable to the “impostor syndrome”.
I suffered from a major case of “impostor syndrome”
Who was I to call myself a web designer, when there are so many people out there that know more than I do & have more skills and more creative talent?
If you are struggling with this yourself, my advice to you is to start associating with other professionals in the field you are in. Start conversations, get to know people, ask questions, learn about the journey of the successful people in the field.
If I would name ONE thing that made a huge difference for me, it was when I started to associate with fellow web designers. Many times this was just a virtual association, I never even met these people in person. Online I found a great community of developers and designers, specialized in the same area I am in, and I realized that each of us face our own struggles. In fact I found out that some of the people I considered gurus and mentors, were themselves struggling with “the impostor syndrome”. That was very enlightening. If people I had placed up on pedestals had to keep their own sense of inadequacy at bay, then no wonder I struggled with my own demons.
What I also found when I reached out and started interacting was a community that freely shares and willingly help each other. It is a marvelous thing, to have people to lean on when struggling with a bit of code that is giving you trouble, to reach out and have colleagues generously helping out and sharing their talent. There is such a real sense of community in the online communities, and tapping into it made me realize that my fears of being inadequate were unfounded, and I should instead look at the people who I fear not being able to live up to as the teachers and mentors that they are, and realize that like me, they too are human, they too have their own struggles, and that it is not only OK to not know everything, but that together as a community we make great things. I am happy to now be at a level of expertise where I can be of help to others, newer to the field, supporting them like I have been supported in the past.
I don’t think the webdesign community is unique in being supportive, I think you will find the same thing in most professional fields. I found a great co-operative spirit among my colleagues in the pet sitting industry, and when I worked with alternative health products, I also made lots of friendships with people that were in essence my competition. When we seek help from fellow professionals, it typically makes them feel happy about being able to be of help, that tends to be a trait of humans.
Do I regret not launching into web design as a career sooner? In one sense, yes I do, but in another sense I actually think it all worked out perfectly and for the best. I believe I laid a solid foundation for myself, by building a strong web presence for both of my companies and building a website that created a full time income. I got a good understanding of what it takes to make websites successful.
This serves me well today, because I want to not just build visually pleasing websites, but first and foremost I want to create well functioning marketing engines for my clients. Websites that help grow their business and generates income and new leads.