By Janice Baker
I work at home as a (self-taught) Graphics Designer/Desktop Publisher.
I guess my background pointed me in the right direction. As a junior in college I switched majors form "Early Childhood Education" to "Journalism" and worked on the college newspaper doing paste-up and photography. I was hoping to be a writer, but never got that far. (I got married and moved away before I graduated.) As a newlywed, I landed a job with a large ad magazine in Southern California doing past-up work (building ads on boards). I did that for a year until our first child was born. Then I stayed home and worked during the holidays as a portrait photographer for Christmas money. After our third child turned three, I really wanted to go back to doing something I liked, but (alas) no one did "paste-up" anymore! It's all computer generated now!
First, I started learning basic computer skills. I didn't type, so I had to learn that, too. I bought a few descent (affordable) graphics programs and started using them. Then, a few months later, I heard of a job opening at a local ads magazine. I guess my enthusiasm won me an interview since I had little else to offer. It didn't hurt too much when I was turned down flat. No problem I thought... I just needed to build a small portfolio and get some experience under my belt. I did that by producing a brochure for a neighbor who had a Bed & Breakfast. Then I volunteered to produce a newsletter for my church women's group. I also designed a few web sites in which one was a paid job. So, with that, and a little luck (and perhaps God-given talent) I went back to the magazine a year later and got the job!
Now, for the past year, I've worked as an independent contractor producing a 24 page magazine right here in my living room. It's direct-mailed to 40,000 area homes now. I also designed the magazines new logo and the salesmen's business cards. I since designed many other things for them as well. So, time and patience paid off. I've been able to get rid of all my credit cards, buy a small home and get a car for my husband. Now I'm getting ready to move my little set-up out of the living room and into the new office I'm building in the garage. I'm expanding my services by getting referrals from my magazine client, a local printer I use and even from a t-shirt shop I've done business with. (I designed a t-shirt for our family reunion last year and found out how fun that was!)
By taking a "baby-steps" approach to starting my business, I'm slowly carving out my own little niche in the world. I love being at home to raise my kids, being able to provide some extra income for my family and having a job that is both fruitful and fulfilling! Now my newest thing is tackling "Quick Books"... Yikes! Any accountants out there?!