Amanda Aitken, Founder of the Girl's Guide to Web Design

Amanda Aitken founded The Girl’s Guide to Web Design last year after working for 17 years as a web designer. She describes her business as an online web design course for creative, driven women. Aitken shared her experiences about starting her business on Your Story Exchange. If you’ve started a business, share you story here.

Reason for starting

I started The Girl’s Guide to Web Design because I wanted to empower women to wake up to new possibilities by learning web design. My goal is to smash a few key beliefs: that web design can’t be learned, that you need to pay thousands to a professional to get a site or blog designed, and that coding is boring – and only for geeky men.

Biggest success

I just found out that one of our graduates has officially ditched her corporate job to create websites full time. And we have tons of other students who are now making a nice supplemental income designing sites in addition to their main gigs.

It’s been so gratifying to see women start with zero coding knowledge graduate from the course just a few weeks later telling me “I’m so excited about what the future holds for me now.” Students often tell me that they’ve started passing up invitations to go out on Friday nights because they’d rather stay in and work on their sites – which I absolutely LOVE to hear!

Another big success was being featured as one of Forbes’ Top 20 Inspiring Young Female Founders to Follow on Twitter. That was a huge honour.

Biggest challenge

My biggest challenge in creating and running the course has probably been not letting it completely take over my life! I get so invested in our students that it’s sometimes hard to remember that I need to take the odd day when I completely unplug. It’s very exciting for me to witness these women mastering skills that will empower them to make their dreams a reality online, so it’s very tempting to want to be there with them every step of the way. I guess it’s a bit of “mother hen” syndrome.

The one thing you would do differently

What I would do differently (and plan to do differently very soon) is to be more aggressive when pricing the course. I knew when I created it that it was something valuable, but I wasn’t sure if others would see that, too. So I priced it much lower than I probably should have. I think this is a common phenomenon among female entrepreneurs: we tend to play down the genius of what we’re putting out into the world.

Now that a few hundred students have completed the course and shared their incredible feedback about their experiences, I’m ready to dial things up a notch.