Morley College WordPress tutor Fiona Conn introduces one of her students Clarise, who successfully built her very own website from scratch with no previous experience. Hear how Clarise got on!
Clarise Creary is passionate about sharing her Caribbean cookery skills and has just completed the Web Design and Blogging with WordPress.com Beginners course at Morley last term. She has created a WordPress.com website and blog to promote her budding Caribbean cookery tuition business venture. Here, she shares her experiences of taking part in this course.
“You come to realise that your WordPress website is a blank slate for you to personalise and customise, and then share with the world when you are ready – and that is very empowering.” Clarise Creary
What were you doing before you came to Morley and how did you find out about the college?
Before I came here, I did a business plan – I had got a loan to develop my initial idea and then was on my own. And I knew I wanted to do my website – instead of sitting there feeling like I was not doing anything. And my sister suggested Morley to me – she said to me – this college is good for people with disabilities – I have dyslexia, and some long-term health issues, so that was important to me. My sister had been a previous student at Morley. She studied Millinery, and also some Digital Media courses, so the college came highly recommended.
I had tried my hand at a lot of different roles. My background is that I was trained in counselling, I am also a trained playgroup leader. I did a lot of volunteering work in the community in rehab for people with drug and alcohol dependency. When I was younger, I used to cook Caribbean food and sell it to the local shops and clubs, mostly in Hackney. I also ran a food stall in Jamaica. So I’d had some previous catering and business experience.
After being a full-time career for my mother for 5 years she sadly passed away in 2015 and I was faced with unemployment. I knew that I loved cooking and thought about the love I had for my mum and my grandmother and the time they spent teaching me to cook.! I was ready for a new challenge and wanted the chance to share my skills with other people – and so decided to take the plunge and start a business providing traditional Caribbean cooking classes in my own cosy home kitchen here in London or in your own home. My business is called ‘Grandma’s Old Time Cooking’. I also cater for private functions and run Caribbean themed cookery workshops for events and organisations.
I did some research and found that there are a lot of even people with Caribbean heritage, children who are born over here – whose parents don’t have the time to teach them how to make the traditional recipes – so that is getting lost. Then there are many European people who go to the Caribbean on holiday, they discover just how delicious Caribbean food is, but then find it daunting to try and recreate it for themselves when they get home again. It is these people that I wanted to share my passion with, and who I felt could benefit the most from it. Food is a great way of building bridges between generations and cultures, because it is something we can all share and enjoy! I said to myself – I don’t care what colour you are! This is just all about learning to cook and enjoying the food.
I want to encourage people to find joy in everything about the process of cooking. I will even take them on a guided mini shopping tour of Caribbean grocery shops so that they can have fun and feel comfortable discovering and buying the ingredients beforehand – something they might not be brave enough to do by themselves. I even give away some of my secret tips – how to make sure you get the freshest coconuts for example!
What were your reasons for enrolling on the WordPress.com for Beginners course? What did you hope to get from it?
I didn’t have that much technology experience really but I needed to start thinking about getting my own website to promote my new business. Everything is all about media nowadays, you have to have an online presence for others to be able to find you and what you have to offer. First of all I asked an internet-savvy family member to help me create a simple site, thinking it would all be a bit beyond me. But I soon realised that I was curious, and wanted the independence to be able to create a website for myself, and not to have to rely on others. So I wanted the course to be able to give me the skills that I needed in order to create my own basic free website, and start to manage my own online content in a way that would be accessible, achievable, affordable and not too technically demanding. I wanted a better understanding of how it all worked and how I could make it work for me.
The course has totally lived up to my expectations. Even my sister went on my new WordPress site last night and complimented me on what I had managed to create. I am glad that I spent the money on investing in these skills. It’s really helped me to start exploring the possibilities of having my own online platform and WordPress.com is a great no-outlay way of dipping your toe in the water and getting to grips with simple concepts like how to create posts, image galleries and work with design layout templates. The course also gets you thinking about different ways to present your content effectively and how to structure a website with pages and navigation menus so you can guide your visitors to the content you want them to see.
Which aspects of the course did you find most challenging?
Creating my own graphics. But even though this was difficult, I know I have made huge progress with it. I created my own website header using free graphics software. One of the best things now is knowing that by overcoming some technical hurdles for myself, I am independent of having to ask my tech-savvy family members to help me out any more. And those family members are now asking my advice on web design matters!
I expected the course to be really, really, really difficult because I just didn’t have the confidence to know where to start. But now I know that once you really want to do it, and if you’re not afraid to make mistakes, your confidence starts soaring too. And I enjoy it! Working on my WordPress site has become the first thing I do each morning on my laptop, I look forward to it as part of my daily routine. I’m finding I’m much more relaxed with computers now as well. Now I can do things like embed a video in a web page – things like this I had tried to do myself before coming on the course but found confusing until having it demonstrated. Also understanding some of the jargon like ‘Dashboard’ and ‘widgets’, it’s so much easier when you can discuss it with others in class and all make sense of it together.
Why would you recommend the course to others?
I now feel so much more confident to explore WordPress on my own and to go on to continue to build a site to promote my business. Eventually I aim to have a custom domain and hosting for that, but WordPress.com has been a very helpful testing ground because it’s free to use. People are already contacting me via the site and it’s attracting interest. I’ve worked hard on my site outside of the sessions, using the skills that I’ve learned – I am so pleased with what I have created and think the results I’ve achieved speak for themselves. I couldn’t have created anything like this before I started the course. I’ve made new friends, and I’ve proved to myself that I’ve been able to do something that I thought I’d find really challenging. There is a lot of satisfaction in that.
Ever wanted to set up and run your own blog or website or create a simple online shop? 2017 can be the year you achieve your goal – Morley College are now running beginner level WordPress.com classes which will guide you through the whole process of getting up and running with your very own online web showcase. WordPress.com is a fun, accessible and community-oriented platform – it’s also versatile and free to use.
Contact Clarise about her Caribbean cooking venture via her new WordPress site:
Fiona Conn is a new member of the Morley Digital team and delivers the popular WordPress.com courses at Morley College. This is what she has to say:
“My background is in teaching a range of Digital Media and IT workshops, as well as providing one to one tuition at a vibrant Community Arts Centre in
Southwark, supporting the digital creativity and social inclusion of adults with mental health needs. I have been teaching here for the past 3 years.