About Web Pro Savvy and Cathy Sirvatka

What's the story with
Cathy Sirvatka

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From Typist to Layoff to Web Designer

Cathy Sirvatka, pronounced Sir•vaat'•kuh, comes from a hodge podge background that includes auto parts delivery and working various office jobs, including 13 years at AT&T Bell Laboratories as a <cringe>typist</cringe>. During that time, I completed my BA in Photography at Columbia College in Chicago.

I always said I would never type for a living, however, it gave me some great skills I use to this day including touch typing and a great launch into learning HTML. Typing at Bell Labs was all done in UNIX which comes from the same "language" as HTML.

I ultimately got laid off but a friend of a friend heard about my "HTML" skills and offered me a job as a Web Designer. At this point Dreamweaver was all the rage and I picked it up pretty quickly.

After doing that for a couple of years, the company fell behind in bills and ultimately closed. That's when the dream I had in the back of my mind to work for myself came to fruition.

The beginning was tough

No Clients

It was difficult to get new clients. I took on anything that came my way - even print jobs (OMGosh!). I was blessed that I had a husband who had a great job with pay and benefits to match. But still, I wanted to be successful.

I joined a local networking group and acquired lots of new clients that stuck with me for recurring projects. It was great but seriously the way I ran my business was anything but successful. I was busy all the time and making very little money. The clients were happy but I was not.

Ups and Downs

I did have the opportunity to teach web design at a community college for several years as I continued to work for myself. This was a great experience because if you've ever taught, you know that as you teach you also learn. But then departments merged and my position was ended.

Not long after that I got divorced and then I had to LIVE on my own income! Schnikeys! 

I really dug into my networking group as well as pressing the flesh (shaking hands and meeting people) with a lot of folks at other networking events.

Turning the ship

Received Business Coaching

I worked with a couple of business coaches, but the most influential to me was a man named Gene whom I met through Pat Flynn. Gene specifically understood the website industry, and introduced me to the concept of the business niche. I remember telling him, "My niche is working with small business owners" to which he replied, "That's not a niche." Ha! Long story short, I began to focus on the Voice Over industry. Voice actors need websites because it's the only way they can get their demos out there for potential clients to hear. I've been doing this for about 8 years now, while still taking other types of clients as my schedule allows.

Expanding Horizons

One thing I've had on my career list for a long time is to start my own podcast. I have always loved sharing knowledge with others and this is the perfect way to do it. And as a bonus, I get to learn too. I'm never done learning. I know there's a lot I don't know. In college I used to say, "the more I know, the more I know I don't know." Savvy? I just mean as I uncover more information, I can see how much I have yet to uncover. If you listen to my podcast, then you probably get what I'm saying. And even if you don't, I know you will benefit from all the knowledge and wisdom we will hear together from my guests.

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