Why Are People So Surprised When I Say I Am A Web Designer?!

Helping Others Tell Their Story Digitally

I have gotten this response several times recently! Surprise that is! I tell people what I am attempting to do for a living, and they are surprised. Do I not look like the type to do web design? Is there a way web designer’s look that I don’t know about? The first time I got the response, I wrote it off, because the person giving it to me has known me quite a while, and simply had no idea I have the skill set for web design. When I kept getting the response, I began to develop a little bit of a complex about it. After all, its part of my business model. Its kind of important to have established credibility for what I do. With a couple of the people who showed me the surprise, I was able to take them to my body of work so far and explain what I do. They liked my work, but had no idea I could do it.

I think some of the problem is that I am not a programmer. I know what coding is and the different languages used, but that isn’t part of my skill set. I am a template designer. I use sites like WordPress, Joomla, Wix, and Go Daddy to put together websites for people. I also do specialty sites like Bandzoogle, and gaming sites like Gamer Launch and Enjin. A lot of people are involved in areas of tech today that have no previous background other than interest, or like me, literally falling into it through circumstances.

I see web design as helping people who want a site for something, like the site I am designing for an emerging band, to tell their story to the world. This band wants to expand their fan base. Makes complete sense. I come in because I have the technical knowledge to build them a site, and do the background work and help them walk through key pieces of telling their story. I then maintain the website over time regularly updating their content for them, and trouble shooting any problems that come up. I add an additional service, if needed, of photography work.

All of this apparently shocks people when I tell them this part of what I do. To me its simply an extension of my writing. I use technology when I write all of the time. I frame it in a setting that works well for it, and that happens to be digitally. I write the content, and put it out there for myself, so its easy enough to help others frame their work digitally to tell their story. Its like putting an electronic puzzle together, and for me that’s fun!

I must not look the type to do this kind of work. Its probably a good conversation starter to simply ask when I get the surprised reaction. I would love to know what it is about me in tech that is shocking. Ten years ago I would have said it is because I am a woman. I don’t think that is the case as much anymore. I might be wrong on that. Maybe it is somewhat that. Who knows. The surprised people know, and I would love to know. I don’t want to know so I can be all offended and upset, but I would love to know so I can understand what barriers exist to cause others not to see me that way. I may not be able to do anything about it, but what if I can?

So the next time I get that look, I am stopping what I am doing, and asking what it is about me being a Web Designer that causes them to feel that sense of surprise? After all, business owners are marketing themselves, their skills, etc… and its kind of hard to develop a business if you get that kind of reaction when you say what a portion of your business model is. I am a woman in technology. I love what I do, even though I am not yet producing a sustainable revenue stream. I will get there. It takes time to bake a cake, and so too to build a business. I have to get people past the surprise at some of my skill sets so that they see me in a new light. After all a lot of business comes from word of mouth. I need people to see me as someone who can tell their story digitally so that they can accomplish their goals.

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