I’m a 22-year-old freelance web designer, born in Ireland & living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I blog about things I’m interested in (reading, self-improvement, philosophy, politics, rock climbing, music, business, entrepreneurship, freelancing, and partying), and host a podcast where I have thought-provoking conversations with people who share my interests. I write short book reviews, and am currently working on a course that will teach people how to become freelance web designers.
I support myself through my self-taught business and web design skills. This gives me a lot of freedom and choice in my life, and the overall goal of this website is to teach other people how to turn their passion into a job that they enjoy.
Some background on me:
From around the age of 13, I developed an interest in computers. My Dad, a music teacher and computer enthusiasts, introduced me to Photoshop and iWeb – a website builder – on his Mac computer. He also gave me what I believe is one of the most important skills a person in this era can have – the ability to teach yourself new skills from books & the internet.
I started building small websites and browsing what the web had to offer.
In 4th (Transition) year of secondary school in Presentation College Headford, Galway, I really started to grow as an individual. My interest in music flourished, and I took part in musicals, school performances, and had a year-long stint as the singer & foreman in a local band.
By this time I had turned web design into a hobby and small side business, building websites for local businesses, and friends & family. This was my first tentative step into the world of business & entrepreneurship, and I loved it.
I teamed up with three other like-minded school friends in the F1 in Schools STEM challenge, and we made it through the Irish National Finals to the World Finals in Abu Dhabi. This taught me an immense amount about presentation & speaking skills, teamwork, project management, web design & graphic design – the experience I gained on that team stands to me today.
My school studies took a hit due to my passion for these extracurricular activities, but I just about managed to get the exam points needed to study Business Information Systems in NUI Galway, a course that’s a blend of IT & business.
During this year, I started a hardware startup with Oliver Burke, a teammate from the F1 in Schools Challenge. Our business, Crono Labs, designed and prototyped a small, compact computer case for hardware enthusiasts and gamers. We raised over €2,500 via an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign, and a further €2,000 and expenses paid trip to Boston for the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, from college entrepreneurship competitions.
In the end, the business failed, but, like the F1 in Schools Challenge, we both gained an immense amount of knowledge and experience that benefits us still. And, we learned how to gracefully fail a project!
While I enjoyed the college year and received a 1.1 Honour in my exams, my freelance career was steadily growing, and I wanted to spend a year pursuing it. I took a gap year from college and returned to working as a web & graphic design freelancer. Halfway through the year I accepted an offer to joint a software startup in Galway, Plan It Appy, where I took on a challenging but hugely rewarding role that saw me take on work in the fields of graphic & web design, coding & development, photo & video editing, copywriting, sales, customer support, and personal assistant to the owner.
I left this job after a few months after deciding I wanted to work for myself, and got back to freelancing. Shortly after, and a few months before college was to resume, a local businessman and digital marketer Michael Coyle, a graduate of the same course I had left, offered to bring me on board his social media marketing company, Concordi, as co-owner, Managing Director, and Head of Web Design. I accepted.
What followed was one of the most difficult but immensely rewarding fourteen months of my life, which saw Michael and I grow the business from a small web & marketing business to a limited company – a full-service digital agency employing six full-time staff and providing graphic & web design, video & photo editing, social media marketing, and events & PR to businesses in Ireland and abroad.
This was the time that I grew the most as an individual. I was constantly being exposed to new experiences, challenges and situations, reading books on self-development, human history & philosophy, and engaging in deep & thought-provoking conversations with my closest friends. I had a much better understanding of who I was, and the kind of person I wanted to become. This resulted in me resigning from the company, re-starting my freelance career, and booking a ticket to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where Oliver had already been living for a year and training as a professional Muay Thai fighter.
And that brings us to the present day – 14th of January 2019. I have ambitious projects to start on and goals to hit, but I will also be dedicating a portion of my time to showing other people how to live the best life possible. I firmly believe everyone has a path they can follow that will challenge them and push their limits, resulting in personal growth and achievement. Some of you will be on that path already, some will be close to it and some will be miles off – but everyone can reach it, and one of my major personal goals is to be a guiding light in life for others who are seeking this real, but often seemingly ungraspable path.
If you want to come along for the ride, sign up to my newsletter and get emailed when I release a new blog post or podcast – their content will help you to live a better and more fulfilling life!
– Ruairi McNicholas