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Some of my favourite projects.

Personal Portfolio

Built during the bootcamp! 

As our  final project on the web dev bootcamp I built myself a personal portfolio website for me new web development business! I used this website for almost 12 months, landing dozens of clients with it. 

Circla

Shopify Website

For the launch of Circla 2.0, we built a customised Shopify e-commerce site featuring all of Circla's refillable beauty products and including key delivery and subscription functionality for customers, to ensure a seamless shopping experience.

CLG London

A luxury site for a luxury brand

For the launch of the business, I built a custom coded 80-page product catalogue, complete with a strong visual identity and simple, elegant design to showcase the selection of corporate luxury goods to potential clients. 

Chan Hooley

A portfolio with a difference

Chantelle was looking to create a portfolio to showcase her work as an actor and voice-artist. With a unique landing page, users can navigate between her two specialities, and see her broad portfolio of work including embedded voice reels and videos.

Em Fury

Custom Membership Site

As lockdown 2.0 hit the UK Emily wanted to be able to offer a subscription service for her followers so they could enjoy her workouts from home. I built her a custom membership platform so followers could sign up and enjoy all her live sessions and a library of videos in their own time.

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We sat down with Isabelle for this unfiltered interview, talking about how her life has changed in the 12 months since attending the bootcamp. 
 

Let's start by getting to know each other, tell us a little about you. 

 

Hey everyone, I'm Isabelle, web developer specialist and grafic designer living in England. 

What were you doing before attending Institute of code? 

Before IOC, I was essentially flitting between jobs that I didn't like, and I didn't really have any direction. I have a with background in neuroscience, and always felt that's what I should do, but I really struggled with the lack of creativity in that field, which now I have discovered is really important in my life. I was kinda flitting between jobs, and doing as much travel as I could at that time, traveling has always been something I adore and I want to be able to travel all the time. 

At that point I had no idea at all about any kind of business I could run or skills I could offer online.I moved to Singapore about two years ago, I was working in recruitment and it was very begrudgingly, but it gave me the money that allowed me to travel more around Asia.  I wasn't really enjoying it at all, and kind of being restricted to having to work most of the time while I was in Singapore to be able to travel on the weekends.

I'm happy I got to travel on the weekends at least, but I always wanted to be able to travel more freely.

Did you have a particular moment when you decided that you wanted to do something differently? 

I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life at this point, and that's were I started looking around. It's quite weird, because as I mentioned I really disliked by job in Singapore.

I really like designing, and I before going to Singapore I actually went to a career change course in England. I started designing websites on WIX and Squarespace and all those kind of drag and drop platforms. And I loved it, but it was more like a hobby than work. In end of 2019, I was really struggling with my job, and I start scrolling through LinkedIn, and I was looking for for courses were I could learn coding and building websites.

It was more like a thought that I could earn little bit extra money from building websites and designing websites as a side hustle. I honestly can't remember how I found IOC. 

What got me interested is the advertisement was not just about learning how to code but actually giving students the framework to build a business.

I remember thinking this could be cool and this could actually be a place where I would be able to learn all these skills I wanted to learn, and I signed up right away.

At this time, I didn't necessarily think it would be like a full time business, I still thought it would be a great side hustle thing to earn a bit more income which would give me a bit more freedom to do what I love. 

What were your plans after the Bootcamp?  

I was meant to be going traveling for some time after IOC. I ended up doing only few weeks in Cambodia then needed to go back to England because of COVID. When I returned back to England, I was planning on getting another nine to five job working for someone else.

Then I started practicing the code every single day, because I obviously had the time to do so because of the lockdown and I just realised how much I loved coding, like it just fitted with me.

So I basically didn't apply for any jobs and just started practicing coding all the time, and somehow it turned into a full blown business. It's crazy, but within a month, I was earning enough money to live. And this is during a worldwide pandemic. It was the perfect timing for me to attend IOC and learn new skills.

Tell us about your experience.

I was super nervous because it as a huge investment, and I have never spent this much money on anything before. I had so many people saying things like ' you can learn this by yourself' and ' isn't this all on the internet' and ' aren't you just paying for a holiday in Bali'. There was a lot of negative coming from the people around me.

From doing my research online and talking with Tina I knew right away it was going to be quite special, I knew people that would be attending this course would all be quite like minded and I was going to meet some brilliant people.

All those expectations were obviously massively exceeded. The people I met there were just amazing, it was such a lovely community. I literally felt like I was on an amazing summer camp.

It felt like home right away, the atmosphere was so nice from the minute I got there, it was just so friendly. It was obviously little scary and I was a bit daunted by the situation to bring yourself in to meet all those people you don't know at all. But, it was so lovely and comfortable.

Within the first few hours you are making friends because it's just such a lovely environment, and you have to work through stuff and I was already asking my classmates questions on the assignments. All my expectations were exceeded in terms of all practical things. It was way more practical then I though it would be. That was very important to be as I learn by doing.

Having the mentors there all the time to help you out felt so supported. In terms of things that really surprised me was the focus, and how you created this amazing ideal learning environment, with amazing food, yoga in the morning and community that are all there to support one and other.

This amazing space was really good for me mentally to be able to learn all this was something I didn't expect and that's what makes made the experience different from a course I've done before because it was all about just really taking care of yourself, while learning new skills, and how to make a career out of your passion. I fell that I was able to learn so much in such a short amount of time because it was such a lovely nourishing environment.

Can you remember a particular day during the bootcamp that you're like ' Okay, I can do this, I can actually build a business out of this?

I remember thinking how much I loved this, and this was at the beginning of learning. I was able to code a one page website on my second day of the bootcamp, and I remember thinking I can actually do this. At this point I understood why I loved coding and designing so much as it really marries my scientific background strangely.

Being able to code really felt satisfying, the feeling that I was able to create something beautiful with coding felt so right.

When did you start getting paid projects?

I remember when I got back to England that you mentioned Tina saying don't stop practicing. Therefore I decided to take it slowly and practicing everyday.

I started out building websites with the blocks I had from the IOC, just testing it out and going back to the basics. I basically reached out to friends on Facebook saying I'm looking for projects to build up my portfolio.

I decided I didn't want to do anything for free as the design part is very important to me and I wanted to spend some time on creating beautiful websites.

So first projects were for friends, and then friends of friends and that's how the ball started rolling. The first few projects took much longer time, and I was doing it slowly. I did lot of late night because I really wanted to challenge myself from a design perspective.

I went in to this knowing I wanted to build really unique designs and I wanted people to come to me because they wanted something that looked different. I knew this right from the beginning. 

Do you feel it made a big difference that you already had your portfolio website build during the bootcamp?

Massively, it was super super helpful to have my website ready to show others.

I knew by showing people my website I had the confidence that I could build something similar for them.

It wasn't particularly difficult to pick up projects because people started recommending me to friends of friends. I knew right from the beginning I wanted people to enjoy the process and offer a very good customer experience. I think thus January, I've got as many projects I had over like a four months period last year, and I'm obviously much quicker now than I was last year because I invested that time in getting myself as much varied experience as possible right in the beginning, if that makes sense.

When did you realised you wanted to turn this into a full time business?

I never though I would turn this into a full time business, even though I was earning enough. I kept thinking I should probably get a job a some point. I didn't focus on marketing, or social media at all.

But now, I started focusing more on social media and building an audience and being more presence online. I wanted to focus on the small steps in the beginning, even though it felt overwhelming at times I pushed through it, reached out to people and kept on working.

That just involved into a really successful business. Learning how to pitch to clients was so valuable. And I think the most valuable part of it is that I'm now able to share my story with my clients, how I began and I think that really importance of valying your service.

I absolutely loved that throughout the course in terms of learning business skills is that you need to value your work that you're doing, and that's why I decided I didn't want to take on any free projects.

And I think that's been massive for me in terms of it's really difficult when you first start a business is to value yourself and I had that confidence right from the beginning. I wasn't charging people much at the beginning, but at least I wasn't giving my work from free. I wouldn't have the confidence to do that without the course for sure.

So you started out with projects for say under $1000. Where are you now, average projects?

It's between two and three thousand.

And how many projects are you doing per month? What's your ideal month?

I actually just started tracking my time, because I'm very interested to see how long it takes me to build stuff now.

I would say my ideal month for 2021 is 5000 pound month and I'm currently around 7.5K for the first quarter. I know that it's not going to be like this for the entire year, as summer is a bit quieter.

You just relaunched your portfolio. It looks amazing.

Yeah, the rebrand was massive for me, because I spend the first eight months of the business as just my name, and I wanted to expend the business into a studio where lot's of people would be working in it. So I wanted to do something bold and unique that really would stand out.

What is next for you?

I think I would like to expend more on the graphic design of things. I want to expand to the extent this year if I could have more people helping me in the business. I would like to hire someone to do my social media engagement. I want to focus on growing the business, growing my social media presence. I want to focus a bit more on working with a group of sustainable businesses. 

I want to be a point where I have the ability to focus monthly on all the creative coding building work so that's a big goal for this year.

Attending the IOC is the best money I've ever spent. I remember just feeling so nervous about it, but just the second day I was like this is the best money spent ever, and I just knew this was going to be good for me, I just had this strange feeling about it.

I absolutely love my work so much that I get up on a Sunday morning and all I want to do is just get to work. Honestly, I can't tell you how much joy I get. I just keep thinking how much I love my job. I love being in a position that I can take my work with me and I'm very happy.

Do you have any advice to someone who is considering IOC or just learning web development in general? 

DO IT! It's going to change your life. It's not a quick thing, it's going to take lots of work but it could in just matter of a month totally change your life, and completely change the trajectory of your life in a way that you'll be building something for yourself.

IOC will also give you the ability and confidence to do that. It's so rewarding a s person, because obviously you can build your own business, have the freedom and be your own boss, it's just so amazing. If you're anything like me, care about a lot of things, and potentially helping other it gives you such an amazing way of doing that.

Beacue you're going like an online presence to organization that need to reach people, and being an web developer gives you so many options, there are just so many things you can fo from there. And IOC is basically the start of that, like it gives you all the foundation, and then you you'll basically be able to go and build a business that feels right for you.

This can all happen in the space of a month, you'll be earning money from it. So just do it, things can change that quickly for you. 

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