Lizzie Lewington has forged an incredibly successful career in digital, that began by creating code on a video game 30 years ago. Lizzie’s passion and skill for digital have seen her excel throughout her career, in both web design and SEO. Now heading up international SEO strategy for one of the top search agencies in the North, this is her #Wheredidyoustart story:
My interest in tech started when I was just five. It was 1985 and my dad had bought us an Amstrad 464, meaning I got to play Chuckie Egg 2 and Battleships to my heart’s content.
Later that year, a new computer shop opened at the end of our street and I remember looking around it with my dad. I found a clear, see-through joystick, and all the different coloured wires fascinated me. My dad must have known how much I loved it because he bought me it - a rare treat and I was thrilled!
He also bought me Anna. Now commonly known as “snake”, Anna was a snake, and the aim of the game was to avoid bumping into blocks which added to the snake’s length. The longer the snake got, the harder it was to avoid more blocks, and the game got progressively faster the longer you played it which made it even harder. My five-year-old brain loved this game - almost as much as my see-through joystick! The other really fascinating thing about this game was that the cassette sleeve came with instructions on how to make it yourself. The code was all there - all I needed to do was type it into my Amstrad 464….or so I thought. 50 attempts later and it still didn’t work! I checked the code meticulously over and over again, but to no avail.
Then, the computer shop closed. Secondary school in early ‘90’s York didn’t really teach IT, and this all marked the end of my childhood delve into the world of tech.
I still have very fond memories to this day of Myspace, because it taught me how to code.
Fast-forward 20 years and welcome to the world of Myspace! For those who don’t know or who are too young to remember, Myspace was the social media platform of choice before Facebook came along!
I was never a big fan of Facebook. Why? Because you couldn’t customise your page! However, everyone I knew moved from Myspace to Facebook and so I resentfully made the switch too because otherwise, I would have been left friendless.
I still have very fond memories to this day of Myspace, because it taught me how to code. The customisation worked by going in and editing the code. I learned basic coding skills like how to change colour fonts and font sizes which led to more experimentation. I went wild with wallpapers, profile count trackers, the lot.
I enjoyed this so much that I decided to do a study at home diploma in web design. To finish the course, I had to hand code my own website I created a 5-page basic website for a pole dance class where I was taking lessons at the time. I bought the domain and uploaded the site via ftp. I was incredibly proud of my achievements and I successfully completed the course.
As a full-time working mum, I want to show other mums out there that you can get back to working in the digital industry after having a baby.
Afterwards, I wanted to pursue web design as a career, but I ended up in the world of SEO and the past 10 years have been a fantastic journey for me. Sadly, I don’t delve too much into code these days, but the coding skills I learned through my web design course have given me the best grounding for mastering the technical side of SEO.
I’m currently the International SEO Strategy Manager at Epiphany - a Leeds based integrated digital marketing agency. I manage a team of SEO Strategists as well as my own client accounts, and handle all international processes and employees. A typical working day for me could include anything from jumping on a plane to meet our international clients, or more hands-on tasks like performing site architecture reviews or planning 12 month SEO strategies.
As a full-time working mum, I want to show other mums out there that you can get back to working in the digital industry after having a baby. I went back to full-time work when my son was five months old and if I can do it, so can anyone! I’m lucky to work for an agency who is flexible with working hours, but I still think that all workplaces could be more accommodating for working mums.
Never take no for an answer. It is vital that you always believe in yourself and ultimately, know your worth.
If I could give one bit of advice to working mums out there, it would be this: allow for “me time”. It is not uncommon in the agency world to have to take work home every now and again - we all have deadlines to meet. But, if you do have to do this, make sure you have a dedicated set time that you allocate for overtime. Don’t allow this to eat into your daily life as this will eventually grind you down.
And to my younger self, or any young woman looking to start a career in digital, I would say to learn as much as possible about what specifically interests you and go after that. Never take no for an answer either - if you believe in something and know that you can do it - fight for it! It is vital that you always believe in yourself and ultimately, know your worth. Finally, I would say to never allow other people’s negative energy to distract or influence you. Stay on your own path no matter what comes your way!