My career track into web design was not exactly a conventional one, but then anyone working in this industry who is over a certain age, trained for a different career.

As a teenager in the 80's I decided to become either a lawyer or a journalist. Computers were far from my mind.

My school guidance counsellor told me a law degree would be tough going and very hard to get into. I would be up against the best students in New Zealand. Turns out, gritty determination and an independent streak can get you a long way.

I graduated and was even admitted to the bar as a Barrister and Solicitor.

Admisson to the Bar day.
Admisson to the Bar day.

Unfortunately I picked a super bad year to graduate and qualify with some of the worst economics we've had.

Older (grumpy) lawyers told me that the law was crushing the life out of them, so do something else.

 

Here comes the inter-web...

While searching (and searching) for full-time legal work I took a temporary job at a start-up internet company (this was the 90's). I quickly discovered I had a real passion and calling for this work - loving every minute of exploring the brand new internet thing.

A resignation brings an opportunity

In many ways, I owe my career to some incredibly geeky men who pushed me to challenge myself and convinced me I could do this stuff. They then quit and got new jobs for fancy ISPs.

The law career got put on permanent ice.

Working for others

By the late 90's early 2000's the web career was firmly established and this was very much the era of the dot.com boom.

I went on to become the webmaster of a national tourism website. I then helped establish a brand new web development company, took it through a business incubator and became one of its directors as well as its production manager.

I later sold my interest in the company and took a well-earned world trip.

On my return, I took up a position doing mostly search engine optimisation and specialised in that area until moving into marketing and content generation and then back into website production management.

After 11 years in the website design industry, I realised the only way to work in a business that matched my own values of fairness, professionalism and honesty, was to create my own.

In 2006, I was ready to go into business for myself, so I took a giant leap of faith and started Web Matters. My client base grew quickly due to word of mouth and some excellent search engine rankings grown out of a lot of content marketing.

Writing online made me visible and even lead to a gig reviewing the 2009 election websites.

Time for some more study...

I've always been interested in human behaviour, so I enrolled in two level 1 Psychology papers at Massey. It was a big year and let's just say I wouldn't recommend launching a new business and doing extramural study. However, I have found the basic psychology I learned very useful in website marketing and discovered that I can do stats.

Photography, blogging and social media

In 2007, and very much on impulse, I started a daily photo blog about Christchurch - Christchurch Daily Photo. Every day I post a new photo of Christchurch to the blog and have kept going ever since then!

The blog has grown in popularity and has a large following on Facebook. It has also taught me a lot about social media marketing and the benefits of blogging.

I was recently interview by Cityscape Christchurch about my role as a 'social media influencer'.

Now, I spend my days helping my clients to engage with their clients and tell their story and reach their personal and professional goals.

So that's my story. Now I'd like to help you tell yours.

susan-ryderWorking with Michelle at Web Matters has been a wonderful experience both on a professional level and I feel now as a friend. Michelle is very talented and full of great ideas for creating great web sites. Her manner and skills are very professional and we worked very well together. I would recommend Michelle to anyone wanting to set up a site or use her photography skills.”

Susan Ryder, New Zealand Artist