How Emma Kate is demystifying web design

Enterprise: Emma Kate

What is their raison d’etre? To become the go-to place for learning web design online, enabling women to run home-based businesses so they can balance work and home life and increase their income.

Emma Kate Barker studied graphic design at uni and had graduate positions as an in-house graphic designer for a couple of years. As is the case for most entry-level designers, she was getting paid what she describes as a “pittance” so started freelancing on the side. “Within a year, I was earning more freelancing than in my day job, so I quit,” Emma Kate explains. “I realised designing and building websites was my ticket to higher-paying projects. Although I’d learned some basic HTML & CSS at uni, this wasn’t what my clients needed – they needed websites they could edit themselves.

“I taught myself WordPress, and other graphic designers began contracting me to build their clients’ websites,” she adds. “I thought ‘Why are you hiring me? You could totally do this yourself, someone just needs to show you how’.” Emma Kate determined to be the person to show them how, and she officially launched her mentoring and eCourse business in 2018.

“Emma Kate’s goal is to become the go-to place for learning web design online.”

After launching her first eCourse, Be The Boss of WordPress, many designers started asking Emma Kate about the more ‘techy’ and business side of web design. So, later that same year, she created her second course, Web Business Boss. “I now have these as my two signature courses, as well as a monthly membership for female web designers called WP Mavens, which I founded with my best friend, Haley Brown, who also happens to be my very first mentee,” Emma Kate says. “A typical week for me now involves hosting group coaching calls with my eCourse students, working on new training for my Mavens members, and helping both newbie and seasoned web designers handle, say, a tricky situation with a client, price a new service, or work out how to tackle a complicated design. I also still take on the occasional website project for clients.”

Most of Emma Kate’s clients are women, many of whom are mums with young children, and seeing them build a web design business they love, that brings in good money, but that above all is flexible to their lifestyle and family commitments, is something she finds very rewarding. “One of my students, Belle, was turning clients away because she didn’t know how to use WordPress,” Emma Kate says. “She went from charging one or two thousand dollars to $15,000 for a single website project. She still offers graphic design and photography and loves the variety of different projects she can now work on for her clients.”

Emma Kate’s goal is to become the go-to place for learning web design online. “Countless designers, myself included, graduate from expensive degrees without the practical skills to be a successful freelance web designer,” she bemoans. “Many are winging it, chugging coffee and making painful mistakes. Many decide it’s all too hard, throw in the towel and get a day job. My courses can fix that so my goal over the next couple of years is simply to spread the word as far as I can.”

Having launched the WP Mavens membership only a year ago, she is keen to see that keep growing, and her web designer ‘community’ currently has just over 100 members from all around the world. “As it grows, my co-founder Haley and I want to start running retreats so we can meet as many of our members as possible,” she enthuses. “We’ve become so close and it would be so lovely to meet them in person.”

PQ: “She went from charging one or two thousand dollars to $15,000 for a single website project.”

This article first appeared in issue 43 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine