I'm Neal and this is my first ever blog post! Before I get into the nitty gritty about why I'm writing a blog, I'll tell you a little bit about myself.

I'm a freelance Web Designer and Developer from Kent in the UK. I wasn't always a Web Designer, in fact, about 5 years ago I had a career in finance, which I found really unfulfilling. It just wasn't for me! After reaching a crossroads in my life, I made the decision to start a new journey into Web Design and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, why am I writing a blog? Well, there are a few reasons. One reason is that changing careers was a massive decision and a very scary one. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, but I'd be lying if I said that there were no moments when I wondered if I'd made a mistake. A few times I came close to throwing in the towel and going back to my old career. There are a lot of people in that same situation, so if my blog helps them in any way, then it will be worthwhile. Another reason is simply that I love the industry I now work in and I enjoy writing about it.

I'll be posting blog articles on a range of topics, such as projects I'm working on, how-to articles, general hints and tips, but in this series of posts I'll keep it more personal and will talk about my own journey into Web Design. I'll talk about how I got started, what mistakes I made, things I've learnt along the way, what my future plans are, basically anything I can think of that people might find interesting and helpful.

So, I'll start at the beginning – Why did I become a Web Designer?

The short answer – my old career sucked!

The long answer – I left school without knowing what kind of career I wanted to get into. I just applied for whatever jobs I could find and accepted the first one that I got offered, which was an Office Junior position. I had the idea in my head that it would just be a stop-gap while I figured out my long term career plans, but as the years went by I found myself climbing the corporate ladder and the higher I got, the less realistic it seemed to knock it on the head and start a new career.

About 5 years ago I got a lucky break, I was made redundant. Lucky me! Obviously, at the time it didn't feel all that lucky, but being made redundant was a blessing in disguise. The redundancy pay gave me a financial cushion, a bit of breathing space to take some time off and evaluate my next career step. I had two options, jump right back into another finance position and continue my unfulfilling career, or use the money to start afresh in something new. I chose the second option.

I'd like to be able to tell you that Web Design was something I'd always dreamt of going into, but the truth is I'd never even thought about it until that point! Changing careers had always seemed like an unrealistic option, so I'd never put much thought into other career paths. This was the first time I'd been in a position to think about jobs that I'd actually LIKE to do. My initial ideas were Professional Footballer, Stunt Man, or Astronaut, but I'm about two stone overweight and scared of heights, so none of those options seemed feasible.

“So why Web Design then?” I hear you ask. Well, it just seemed like a good match for the things that I enjoy doing in my spare time. I love computers and I love designing and building things. I'll give you an example. I once designed a 15,000 piece Lego Star Wars Tie Fighter on a computer software package called Lego Digital Designer. In my spare time. For fun! It took around 3 months and the only reason I didn't get round to building it is because it would have cost over £3,500 to buy all the Lego pieces! I know, I know, it's unbelievably geeky and tragic! What's even harder to believe is that I do actually have a girlfriend!

Picture of Lego Tie Fighter

So, Web Design just seemed like something I'd enjoy and would be good at. I was sure I'd enjoy learning to code and I was confident that I'd be good at designing websites. I realise now that I was incredibly naïve, as there's so much more to Web Design than knowing a little bit of code and designing something that looks pretty. I've learnt so much since then that it's kind of embarrassing thinking back to when I first started out and how naïve I was, but I can honestly say that I'm glad I chose Web Design as my new career path. I love it!

I'll end this post here in the interests of keeping it short enough to read without nodding off! I'll continue my story in my next post. I hope this article has been interesting. I certainly enjoyed writing it.

Neal Skilling - 23rd November 2016