From Aerospace Engineer to WordPress Developer: How One Woman Built an Online Web Development Studio
Ever wondered what it takes to ditch the cubicle and become a full-time girl boss? Our Student Spotlight Series interviews our students who have made the transition from 9-5 to remote CEOs!
From what inspired them to start their own business, their favorite podcasts, go-to morning routine, advice to aspiring girl bosses, and so much more!
Today, we’re sitting down with our student Elizabeth Geren, Founder of Elizabeth Geren & Co.! Originally from Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, Elizabeth gives us a glimpse into her girl boss journey…
Q: What type of online business do you own and what services do you offer?
I’m the Founder of Elizabeth Geren & Co., a web development studio that partners with brand and web designers and their clients to build custom business and eCommerce websites. I started freelancing in 2018, and my business came into fruition circa 2019.
At the moment, my primary role is to help clients outsource web development tasks. Currently, I have a virtual assistant and a back-end developer on my team. My goal is to create more bandwidth for custom WordPress websites and eventually develop evergreen digital products!
Q: How did you discover the Bucketlist Bombshells?
One night in 2017, I googled, “How can I quit my job,” and I stumbled upon a LinkedIn article about job dissatisfaction for Millenials. As I was scrolling, I also discovered a Forbes article featuring the Bucketlist Bombshells.
Until that point, I never fathomed a work and travel lifestyle, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing it would be. About a month later, I enrolled in the Design Skills Course and the Tech Skills Course bundle. The rest is history!
Q: What inspired you to enroll in the Bucketlist Bombshells courses?
Cassie and Shay’s enthusiasm for life inspired me to join the Bucketlist Bombshells Academy. I think that they sum it best with the expression: The real world doesn’t have to suck. Up until that point, I met many negative people. I almost believed that cynicism was synonymous with adulthood.
“The Bucketlist Bombshells helped me learn that most successful people are positive and uplifting!”
Q: How have the courses helped you to become an online business owner?
The Bucketlist Bombshells Academy equipped me with the skills and know-how to start my online business.
“Cassie and Shay served as informal mentors who guided me to practice self-education and invest in my personal development.”
As a result, I began to read self-empowerment books, including The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I now think of the period when I neglected self-learning as my dark ages.
“The enlightenment I’ve experienced these last few years is my renaissance.”
Q: What type of job were you working in prior to running your own online business?
Before starting Elizabeth Geren & Co., I was an aerospace engineer. There were some aspects that I enjoyed, but I was not thrilled with my overall experience. I was in the same place all the time, and my life was becoming too mundane. While my coworkers sought comfort and stability, those things didn’t interest me.
“I was craving adventure and freedom.”
Q: How long did it take you to ditch your 8-5, and how much time did you dedicate in order to make it happen?
Interestingly enough, as soon as I told the universe my intentions of leaving my 8-5 job, it quickly responded in my favor. Within several months of completing the Bucketlist Bombshells Academy, my position became eliminated.
“I think that I may be the only person in the world who was excited to receive their termination notice.”
I left my job prepared with adequate savings and a generous severance payment from my previous employer. It was one of those “the stars are in alignment” moments.
Q: What was the final push in your story to get you to ditch that 8-5 job?
Getting laid off from my job gave me the push that I needed to get going. Otherwise, I may have let my resignation letter draft sit in my computer indefinitely.
Q: How long was it until you landed your first client online?
Honestly, I think that it took me one month to find my first freelancing client on Upwork. In reflection, the project was laughable. I got paid $20 to create social media graphics for a career coach, and I spent way too much time on them. I was just happy to have my first client.
“One could say that I undervalued myself in the beginning — I had to learn my worth.”
Q: What is your process for finding and landing clients online?
Nowadays, I use a combination of Instagram and Facebook groups to find and land new clients online. I am selective about who I contact, and I like to take the initiative by reaching out via email. I can thank Shay for teaching me how to write a cold pitch email! However, some of the best clients I’ve had came from the referrals of previous happy clients.
“Establishing rapport with clients has been a major contributing factor to my success.”
Q: What has been your biggest setback, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest setback was my lack of marketing and project management experience. In my previous career, only my technical skills mattered. To run a successful online business, I had to expand my comfort zone.
In addition to taking more online courses, I put in the effort to work with clients more collaboratively. Now, I pride myself as a web developer who can communicate her value and provide stellar client experiences!
Q: What’s the most challenging part about running your online business?
One of the most challenging parts of running an online business is time zone differences. I quickly learned to set boundaries with clients about turnaround times. To preserve my energy and keep clients happy, I structure my business to allow for a time delay. This practice enables us to be 100% location-independent.
Q: Looking back on your online business journey, what is something that you’re most proud of?
Looking back, one of my proudest moments was my first four-figure month. Seeing the results of my work gave me proof that I am not a reckless fool. I had produced this myself, and no one else could take credit for it.
That sense of liberation was the best feeling. It eliminated my doubts, and my inner voice telling me to chase after unlimited potential drowned out the negative outside influences.
Q: If you could speak to your past self, what piece of advice would you give her?
Follow the jar of rocks analogy: Place your priorities first, and everything else will fit into your life.
Q: How do you stay inspired and motivated to run your online business?
To stay inspired and motivated to run Elizabeth Geren & Co., I reflect upon my higher purpose. I value creating a positive social impact through my work. My mission is to empower women to build businesses by providing the tech support they need to get off the ground.
“As a part of my mission, my studio donates a percentage of revenue to the Women Who Code organization.”
My team also inspires me since I continuously learn from them!
Q: Tell us what a “day in the life” looks like for you now that you’re running your own online business!
Routine is imperative to the success of my online business, so my days are consistent. I usually wake up at sunrise to go for a run on the beach. Some days, I will go out to a yoga class. After that, it is coffee and breakfast. Then, I typically go out to a café to get work done.
In the afternoons, I will have lunch and try to get more done. By the evening time, I’m ready to go out to dinner and unwind with a good book before bedtime.
Focusing on one thing at a time helps me to be more productive. I’m trying to work on being more spontaneous and fun, but my schedule keeps me occupied.
“Instead of cramming development or self-care activities into my core working hours, I set aside specific days just for this purpose.”
Q: What’s the best part about being your own boss?
The best part of being my own boss is setting my schedule, of course. Another perk is working from wherever I want. Last but not least, there is no middle management grading my performance!
Q: What do you love most about the work you do and the clients you work with?
Making great user experiences is satisfying, and getting to know the clients better is even more rewarding. I’ve worked with some very inspiring people over the last few years who brought me a lot of joy, laughter, and wisdom!
“I love the work that I do and the clients that I serve because I get to be a problem-solver who creates real-life solutions!”
Q: What is your favorite destination to work remotely from?
So far, my favorite destination to work remotely from is Canggu, Bali. Cliché? Maybe. There’s a reason why it’s so popular.
I like it because it has a lot of western amenities, great WiFi, and a beach. Did I mention the smoothie bowls? It is also easy to meet local people there — Something I found challenging to do in Mexico and Thailand.
Q: What’re your favorite business tools that you’d recommend to other girl bosses? Why do you love them?
My favorite business tool is the Notion app. I love it because I can do anything project management related there. If I had to choose a close second, it would be Slack. Slack is indispensable for quick and easy communication.
Q: What is one of your favorite business books that you would recommend to another girl boss and why do you love it?
My favorite business book is Profit First by Mike Michalowicz because he taught me how to price myself as an online business owner. One of the biggest takeaways is that service providers should charge twice their pay rate to account for 30% expenses and 20% taxes, respectively.
Q: What’s your go-to favorite podcast that you’d recommend to other girl bosses?
Perhaps it’s not business-related, but my favorite podcast is On Purpose by Jay Shetty. Jay helps me to understand the why behind my feelings. He goes deep into the explanations. It helps reassure me that I’m not going crazy on stressful days!
Q: What is your number one piece of advice for aspiring Bucketlist Bombshells?
My number one piece of advice: Don’t apply limits to yourself. Nothing great in life happens by accident — You must be intentional about what you want. If you think you can’t do something, it most likely won’t happen. Keep an open mind and be receptive to new opportunities as they arise.
“Some of the best things happen when we don’t restrict ourselves to perceived identities or labels.”
3 Steps To Building A Wildly Successfull Service-Based Online Business
3 Steps To Building A Wildly Successfull Service-Based Online Business
Meet The Bucketlist Bombshells
Hey! We're Cassie & Shay - we're obsessed with helping millennial women build an online service-based business giving them the freedom to travel the world!
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