About me: How I ended up in Design and Investing...and wrote all about it just for you!

I started overseas

My name is Elizabeth, commonly known as "Bess" to everyone, and this is a little about me. After all, if you're going to read what I have to say on this site, you'd probably like to know how much experience I have!

I was born in the UK at the end of the 1970s. My parents moved out to Australia with her during Margaret Thatcher's hyperinflation of the early 1980s (my father has always told me "my wage just wasn't keeping up with the mortgage repayments").

Elizabeth Elwell-Cook and her wonderful family.

Always a designer at heart!

An interest in design from an early age carried all through my years at school. Funny story: My parents always told me how I had done a drawing of my family looking at a house when I was about two, and apparently I'd got the perspective right, because the house was smaller in the background, and everyone's faces and feet were pointing in the right direction. No idea if it's actually true, but that's what they tell me!

I would obsess over the presentation of my assignments until I occasionally made myself late. My final Design & Technology major project in my HSC year was the rather ambitious exercise of fully refitting a rather dingy spare bedroom at my parents' home in Sydney. just for good measure, I used several friends' bedrooms as practise over the holidays, (I'm occasionally reminded today, apparently to great effect)!

Well, that's the career decided... almost.

I decided to complete a Bachelor of Design at the College of FIne Arts (UNSW). My studies ranged from graphic design, photomedia and new media, to jewellery, interiors and even costume.

It was at university that my interest was grabbed by the idea of property investing, specifically using my design skills to increase returns, and especially making sure that properties I owned were positively geared to provide a second stream of income.

I had watched my parents struggle with a mortgage well into their 50s, and developed a stong determination that there had to be a better way. I didn't want to be in the same position when I got to their age.

A bout of illness towards the end of my degree meant my chosen path of a graphic designer wasn't an option full time any more. For some reason my eyes couldn't take 8 hours a day in front of a computer for quite some years. I focussed on my love of historical design and ran a business making specialist costumes for re-enactors, film, television and theatre, all the while, importing a wonderful range of replica fabrics which were often taken by interior designers and used in their work for soft furnishings. I was asked to advise on fabric choices for several local historical houses in Sydney's Blue Mountains, and this prompted me to study the idea of investing in property all the harder.

Lots of reading, reasearch, and those occasional consultation jobs turned into an extra stream of income from the historical outfitting business I ran with my husband, Karl. We were finally able to take the plunge and buy our own home, after the birth of our daughter, Cara, in 2007. Here's our first property below. It doesn't look much, but it's improved (you'll see other pictures of it, done up, elsewhere on this site), and it's proof that from little things, big things grow!

Our very first property didn't look like much, but it was the start of something big!

And suddenly, it was all change...

Around the same time that we bought our own house, it became clear that Sydney was falling into the biggest rental crisis it had ever seen. Petrol prices and interest rates were at record highs, many homes were being foreclosed on their mortgages. I found quite quickly that there wasn't much cash for people to spare on the hobbies that a specialist costume business catered for.

My studies into property investing through books and through courses with 21st Century Academy had taught me a lot. I soon found myself helping friends to house-hunt and crunch numbers, and started to see the potential for them to get onto the property ladder sooner rather than later, for little more than the cost of their current rent, as long as they bought in the right place and were prepared to do a little work.

When a friend contacted us and saw what we had done with our own home, she asked for an assessment on her newly-bought rental investment property.

Taking charge of the renovations while our friend was away, we kicked out the dodgy tenants, called strata to fix security issues and did a complete but reasonably-priced refit on the flat. At the end of it all we were staggered to find that they had achieved a rental increase of 55% over what the place had been renting for before the renovation.

Rents for other apartments in the complex began to rise along with it, because the bad element had been removed. The property was now positively geared (considering the the owner has originally only expected it to be negatively geared).

My PASSION is investing, and it's best to do what you truly love!

The rest is (kinda, sorta) history!

I continued to share my experience with friends and with new clients acquired on recommendation from the apartmnent's new property manager and others, through my new business: Property By Bess.

And I didn't rest when it came to finding a passive income for my family either. Around the same time at all of this was happening, I discovered SiteSell.com and their SBI! (Site BuildIt!) program.

SBI! taught me more in a few short months about running a business online than I had learned in the last 15 years of being entrepreneurial and building my own web sites. It gave me so much more, including a way to turn my passion for investing into a way to make money while teaching others, largely for free, not to make the mistakes I've made and seen others make by diving in too fast.

That's really all it is: I love to share my knowledge and help people out. Design and investing are my passions in life, and they can both be so very rewarding! I really hope what I have said here has helped.

Now, we're well on the way to building the property portfolio of our dreams. And I have time for my family too!

Our daughter, Cara, on her second birthday.

That's right! Property investing, and this site, is giving us back our family time. And that's the wonderful thing. This little munchkin is my life and we would like to have another soon. I don't want to have to work during the day if I don't have to - I want all the time I can spare for my husband and my children, while still having some sort of outlet for my skills.

But how do I make my money?

You don't have to pay a cent for the vast majority of the information on this site. Did you notice the advertisements throughout the pages? They pay me, either directly, or mostly through Google's AdSense program, to advertise for them. Hopefully you'll find some of the services and information they have to offer just as relevant and useful as the information I want to share with you.

Oh, and if you think you'd like to run your own business, why not try Solo Build It?

Seriously: I know I'm a designer, but this can be done by absolutely anyone, and to prove it, I've built this site using just their system, and no extra software like I normally would do. I honestly know that anyone can do it, because I've met other SBIers with successful businesses like me, but some are in their 80s and never did more than check email before they found it.

If you want to find out how many different things they do, check out the

case studies. Enjoy!

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