From time to time we try to feature military spouses who are killing it in the freelance space. Kelsey is a MilSpouse blogger, web developer, mother, and freelancer who runs By Land, Air, or Sea, a site that covers topics ranging from education to finances, moving to insurance. We asked her a few questions about web development, mispo life, and life in general.
What got you into website development?
I had to resign my position at my school due to unsafe circumstances while I was 4 months pregnant. I was at home and knew that we were going to be moving next year and tried to decide what I was going to do. I then started thinking about the whole PCS process. I realized that when looking at your dream sheet (especially for the Coast Guard), there are so many units. What if there was a website that had the information for all of these units, such as housing, school districts, colleges, spouses pages, reporting, etc. I then chose to go for it and started creating it. I have information for all 5 branches, but I am still building as it takes a while to research all the information. I also started creating content on my blog on topics that would help families.
How long have you been doing it?
About six months – I started in April 2017.
What is your favorite content management system WordPress or Drupal?
I love WordPress. When I went for my Masters in Technology – it was to focus on the instructional design and evaluation of programs. I did learn to code, but I must admit that front-end builders are extremely helpful. However, when you tweak anything, you have to know where to find it in the code.
At Google, women make up 17 percent of technical employees; at Facebook, it's just 15 percent. Why d you think women are so underrepresented in technology fields and how do we fix that?
I think because technology has been dominated by men, it is hard to change that culture. We need strong men in the workplace to allow women to provide their ideas and show their skills and utilize them in their skill sets. When men in higher positions start doing this, it will allow women the pathway to be better represented, which in essence is better for their brand because they are getting the best ideas (regardless of gender). As a teacher, we also need more programs to get girls interested in these booming fields. I would have loved to work in technology at the elementary level – but they only paid them 1/2 of my already small salary if the school was willing to fund the personnel (which they ended stopping). So we need administrators at the superintendent level down to invest in these programs as well.
You site is visually gorgeous. How important do you think style is in website development? In other words,how much time do you think new blogger/website developers should spend on appearance versus content?
Thank you!! That means a lot! I think content means more, but I think style is extremely important. I had to learn all kinds of stylistic components when working with development. You should know accessibility measures (colors, fonts, imaging, etc). I hate going to a website and seeing a bright color on another bright color – it does not matter what you saying – I will leave because it hurts my eyes to read it. So having a knowledge of using white space, appropriate spacing, and creating a brand is important. You want to be consistent across the board, but what you are saying is much more important. You want to create things that people do not already have (or at least expand on that info). It is about creating trust with the reader, in my opinion.
How has being a military spouse affected your professional life?
I have been fortunate enough with my teaching career to have found work when I needed too. I am good at it, but it is not what it used to be (at least in the areas I have been). I would love to work with other websites or get on board with another company to do a lot of their management as I have such versatile skills, which moving with the military has aided. It definitely has had its ups and downs.
How do you balance a day job, being a mom, and working on your passion project?
Some days better than others. Right now, my job is to be a mom to my 3 month old while my 5yo is in school. That hasn’t left a lot of time for my website unfortunately because I am not paid for my website – so it truly is a passion project to help others. I do teach during the week part-time to make supplemental income, but it is a juggling act. I guess it just takes focus and determination.
What advice do you have for a military spouse that is interested in getting into website development?
My website is an extension of me. No one is pushing that website – I have to market myself, so I am constantly doing that on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. If you want to create a website that represents you, be prepared to be your own marketing team until you are developed. But DO IT!! I love working on my website – it makes me so happy because I love to create – the visuals and content. Learn a little bit at a time and apply it. There is so much to learn!!