It’s been exactly 6 months since I acquired my first web design client under the newly formed business name of Inline|Creative. And, although I’ve been using Divi for much longer than six months, it’s been enjoyable, rewarding and I’ve learned so much about web design.
The purpose of this blog post is to share my story of how I began the business and to give my hints, tips, resources and my favourite plugins to get the most out of Divi – both for yourself and for your clients.
How I Became a Divi Freelancer
I was actually introduced to Divi when I started a new marketing job 18 months ago. I wasn’t even aware of Divi at the time, but I soon found out that web design would play a significant part of my new role. I was actually recruited to the company to rebuild the company’s website – no small feat considering the company is a global music management company with a roster of over 400 musicians, each requiring a micro-site of their own within an easy-to-navigate, responsive website.
Fortunately, despite being brand new to Divi and really only having basic knowledge of WordPress, Divi – and the fantastic Divi community – made the process extremely easy. Eight months later we launched this mammoth website, built entirely by myself, and it remains the largest website I’ve made to date. You can check it out here, if you’re interested.
This website was instrumental in me learning the ins and outs of Divi. At this point, having used Divi pretty much every day since the beginning of the year, I was able to create layouts and websites at an extremely quick pace. A month later, I launched my freelance business, Inline|Creative, to supplement my existing full-time job and, so far, I’ve been kept busy with my own client projects ever since.
Now, I do not consider myself to be a Divi “power-user” – but I can offer some of my personal tips and my favourite resources which equipped me with the tools required to become a Divi freelancer.
Getting Started as a Divi Freelancer
Bookmark Key Resources
There are several websites out there devoted to delivering fantastic tutorials to get the most out of Divi. When I first started using Divi, I spent a LOT of my time looking for these tutorials and testing them out on my websites. I also went a step further and studied the code to see exactly what the code was doing as a means of learning CSS with Divi.
Here is a list of some of my favourite Divi resources on the web:
- Quiroz.co – Divi and Extra tutorials by Geno Quiroz
- Divi Soup – Fantastic Divi “recipes” by the Divi guru, Michelle Nunan.
- Elegant Marketplace – Most designers’ go-to place for Divi-related products, such as plugins, child themes and layouts. Some great inspiration here for your designs when you’re first starting out.
- divi.space – Amazing Divi tutorials and child themes.
- Divi Life – From designer/developer Tim Stifler, who is now delivering some fantastic premium Divi products.
- The Divi Tutorials Directory – huge archive of the web’s Divi tutorials and blog posts.
- Aspen Grove Studios – Not only do these guys have some amazing products (they’ve recently acquired the fantastic free Caldera Forms plugin), they also have plenty of tips and tricks for beginners.
- Yates Design – Not been updated recently, but there are a few awesome tutorials here still.
I also have my own blog which is largely devoted to sharing some of my favourite layouts and CSS tricks – The Inline|Creative Blog.
Build, Create and Play with Divi
I was fortunate that I could spend every day at work using Divi. I spent hours upon hours using it, creating new layouts and templates and experimenting with the various modules. Of course, not everybody will be afforded the same amount of time that I did to practice and play around with the Divi Builder, but try and spend as much time as you can – especially if you’re new to Divi – just creating things. Create a development server and practice making fun layouts, experimenting with Divi’s padding and margins, and using new tutorials. This will boost your efficiency when it comes to building client websites in the future, saving you time and making you more money for your efforts.
Immerse Yourself in the Divi Nation
Divi Nation describes the worldwide community of users who use the Divi theme. I use the word “immerse” here purposefully – don’t simply lurk the groups, but engage with it. Post things, ask questions, try and answer other people’s questions.
There are several Facebook groups devoted to Divi, and here are just a few of which I am a member of, and visit daily:
- Divi Theme Users & Elegant Marketplace
- Divi/Extra Theme Help & Share
- Divi Soupies
- Divi Web Designers
- Divi Theme Tutorials
- Divi Freelancers
These groups are an absolute goldmine of knowledge. At any time, if you browse the groups for just a few minutes you will come across snippets, tutorials, bug fixes and some amazing free layouts and premium child themes.
Read The Elegant Themes Blog – DAILY
This is obvious but perhaps overlooked. Elegant Themes are the creators of the Divi theme, so it makes complete sense to check out their blog posts. Some of the Divi Nation’s biggest power users regularly guest post on their blog – which now delivers fresh content daily – and they are delivering some fantastic tips, tricks, resources, layouts and words of wisdom. Bookmark them and read them regularly.
Build Websites for Friends and Family
When you first start out, add to your portfolio by doing cheap or even pro-bono work for your friends and family. Obviously, don’t offer any huge ecommerce websites that will drain your time and money for free, but knock up some quick one-page websites or brochure sites. Deliver something they’ll love, ask them to leave you a Google review and place these testimonials on your website. Word of mouth is a fantastic way to gain new clients!
Get To Know Your Must-Have Plugins
When you start building websites regularly, you will start to see that you’ll use the same plugins over and over again. It could be useful to compile a list of your favourite plugins and download them locally so that uploading them to your new websites becomes a quick and straightforward task.
As a minimum, I always upload:
- A security plugin
- A caching plugin
- An SEO plugin
Below are a few lists of some of my favourite, along with some generally popular, plugins for different uses.
You need one of these on all of your sites, for obvious reasons.
Speed up your websites with a simple caching plugin.
Make your websites SEO-friendly with an easy to use plugin
IMPORTANT! Backups will, one day, save your skin. Get into a good habit of backing up your websites locally.
Lower your page loading speeds with an image optimisation plugin.
These are a few awesome plugins from the Divi community, which can really take your websites to the next level.
- Divi Switch – instant modifications at a flick of a switch
- Divi Booster – hundreds of modifications to boost the Divi theme
- Divi Layout Injector – use the Divi Builder and create custom templates for various parts of your website.
- Divi Dashboard Welcome – I love this plugin. Give your clients a customised Dashboard using the Divi Builder. I use this to put important contact information and links to user guides to help them on their way.
If you’re building client websites on staging environments, simplify the migration process with either of these fantastic plugins.
Enrol on a Course
Much of my knowledge of HTML and CSS has come from simply using Divi daily, reading blogs and tutorials, and immersing myself in the Divi community. However, I’ve also enrolled in courses – because you can never know too much. There are several courses available, from generic web design courses to Divi-specific courses – but it’s well worth re-investing your money in your own learning to help you to get ahead in the game.
I’ve personally enrolled in the courses offered at Divi Academy by Michelle of Divi Soup – she offers a Divi CSS Course and a Child Theme Course, plus she’s also just launched a course devoted to setting up a Learning Management System (LMS) site with Divi, all available online and delivered in a wonderful way.
Learn The Basics of SEO
I say “basics” because learning SEO inside out is a dark art – I definitely don’t know a great deal about SEO, but I have a good basic knowledge. Fortunately, there are several online resources for SEO. Check out the blog posts over at Moz, Neil Patel and Yoast, and check out this inexpensive book on Google SEO.
Start a Blog
It’s well documented that a blog is a wonderful way to boost some SEO juice to your website. My blog started out as a means of sharing some of my favourite layouts and, as my abilities have improved, I’ve been able to share some decent tutorials which have helped people with their own websites. It’s great waking up to email notifications of people saying “Thank You!” to something you’ve written for them.
Try and enjoy the ride! Never stop learning, keep giving back, and create some awesome websites for yourself and your clients.
If this has helped you, please leave me a comment below! And as always, don’t forget to Subscribe to keep up to date with my latest Divi tutorials and layouts.