Month: April 2017
At 12:05pm on 4/23/2017, Create Your First eCommerce Business Quickly and Easily, presented by Sam ENgland, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
Create Your First eCommerce Business Quickly and Easily
WooCommerce is a great system to use online. The goal is to use some great things today.
So, what makes him different? He’s worked with hundreds of companies, and currently running over 30+ successful ecommerce stores. He loves helping people.
Doing things right
He’s only done that by doing a lot of things wrong. Its a learning process.He figured how to organically rank SEO and its easy than you think. I figured how to get his products ranked on the first page of google within minutes. How to build simple product brands that can be sold for big bucks when he’s ready to sell them. You should look to build it up as quick as possible and then sell it off in 2 years.
I guarantee that you will learn some new things about ecommerce than you have never seen before. The fastest reliable manufacturers that want to work with you now, and how to buy the domain name you want even if it exists.
He is using a lot of the sales material approaches like free, simple, easy, show you something I show only to close friends, etc. This is very worrisome if you might think its a hustle. I don’t but I’m wary.
Dropshipping is selling a product for a product supplier. Its also called blind shipping or arbitrage. You have no products, no warehousing, etc. You get everything from the product supplier, images, prices, description.
ECommerce allows you to work anywhere with a laptop and internet connection. Choose your own hours. 2 hours a night is 40 hours a month. And you have no boss.
Keys of a successful market
YOu need to make sure your target market has repeat customers. The best customer is the one who already knows you and trust you. Is it a seasonal niche product like Christmas ornaments, Halloween costumes, etc.? If you’re seasonal it might not work all year. COmpetition is good – it shows there is a market.
Avoid product that everyone in the work is trying sell– dont’t try to sell those. and not commidities. COncentrate on more expensive and light weight products- don’t limit your profits! Don’t give up. Free shipping models are good business today. you’ll need to get the ship weight low. Take advantage of the resources that you have on the internet. DOn’t overthink things, keep it simple.
research for product ideas
Look for sold counts and review counts online. See how much they were silling for (to get an idea of pricing). Look into the feedback and criticisim in the reivews to improve the product yourself. If the knife is OK, bundle a PDF or Knife sharpener. Perhaps a knife-sharpening video to go along with the product. See what styles are selling the best. Know what design/style to sell. Know the major players are to get an idea of market size and competition. Use Google Trensds and look at what the searches looked like over the past few years for your products.
There is software for ebay, amazone, alipress, etc. that you put in a keyword and it will return the results. Hot niches are not bad. Collegiate & NFL, cycling, golfing, scuba diving baby infant, etc.
Use “Buy Buttons” at all times. Stay away from things which are returned if you can. the 16,000 product market site was sold, and now his largest product is 300 on a site.
Find reliable manufacturers
Investigate and research your competition. Research trasde shows and merchandise market directories to easily find reliable manufacturers. If you don’t get return contact in 2 days, for get them. Pay attention to details when investigating a potential manufacturer. Don’t use middlemen! Never pay a monthly fee. Find manufacterers who do not sell to the general public.
Remember the finding merchandise is not h e biggest problem you have. Look around the world. BIllions of products are available. A solid manufacter will make every part o fyour ecomerce busienss easier and more profitable. Its a lot easier that you think.
“site:.com” “drop ship agreements” “keyword”
“site:.co.uk” “drop ship agreements” “keyword”
$20 evoice.com 800 number and a customer contact form. Its well worth it. Put your 1800 number in an image, never an image. Be upfront and honest. Contact your customer immediately if an item is on backorder, or if there is any issue with an order. This is an opportunity to shine, and win repeat business and have customers who will. The their friends = free advertising.
Give the customers a way to provide feedback. Use package inserts to get positive feedback from your loyal customers. We give business cards to the drop shipper with an option, and a sheet to check your order. Always supply tracking numbers to your customers. You will needs to have good understanding of the product. He did not use phone orders because they took too much time, and no guest access because they need to confirm that the right person gets the order.
Listen to your customers. Encourage feedback.
CHoosing Good Domain Names
Always buy relevant keyword rich domain names. Still, stay away from trademarked names. You can get sued. 3-4 words domain names, no hyphens, numbers or abbreviations. .com names only.
Everytime you look for a search and see shopping in the top, there is good competition. Store, online, Center, depot, world, central. Your, DIY, my, best.
No seo, but product names, images, videos if possible. Keep it simple.
how to rank your videos like a ninja
70% get ranked easily. Right click on video. Choose properties. Choose details. Fill in the title, subtitle, rating, tags (keywords) and comments. Do this to put keywords in the video. Hit apply. Add tags!
I will teaching the ins and outs about eCommerce from my 14+ years of running a successful eCommerce business and also how to get started quickly and easily with FREE tools.
At 12:05pm on 4/23/2017, Customer Service and the Freelancer, presented by Adam Sewell, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
Customer Service and the Freelancer
How to stay sane while you are working with people. THere is always a stigma within IT that people won’t know what to do. So, how can you offer great service while handholding your clients
What is customer service?
Anticipating your customer’s needs, its how you interact with your customers, its not an afterthought, its an integral part of your day to day service. It’s their UX with your business. Good customer service leads to good and continued business.
Everything in life has a beginning, a middle, an end. The customer support has a beginning- the first time you meet somebody. Make them feel welcomed and appreciated. This includes your attire, your office environment, etc. Dress the part. be professional. be polite. Act like your clients pay your bills and put food on your table, because they do. This will set the tone for the remainder of your interactions.
The Beginning: initial meetings
Have an onboarding and interview process. Use a questionnaire that you and the client fill out together. use this to set goals for the project. Have a process and inform the customer of that process. Use this opportunity to interview the customer as well. Not all customers are a good fit.
What are non-monetary red flags? Attitude. Their past experience. What was the last person you worked with? Why did you part ways? Generally its a lot about what their feedback and values are. If the employees are stressed out, how will that affect me? When an IT/web developer is a part-time psychologist, they’re constantly be talked down of f the ledge. Sometimes its important to revisit the contract.
The Middle: Communications>
Ignoring a customer is the absolute worst thing you can do for your business. If the client wants the background red, you should really do that. Don’t set bad customer service. Set their expectations.
Ensure that you’re both on the same page. Write everything out, both verbally and written. Always have a contract. Always have a contract. Always have a contract. Contracts should lay everything out. Lay out payments, terms of support, definitely what your scope is.
Payment structure is important. 50% up front, 50% when it launches. There’s skin in the game when its working. under 10k, 50/50. Over $10k 50/30/20 is a good system. Always have the employer pay up front for hardware. If its a local business, its best to have it up and running in your town BEFORE payment. If you like the client, you’ll usually work with them more than ones you dislike.
A simple email to tyour customer will help keep them in the loop and will ensure them you haven’t forgotten them. Explain the contract if you have to. “We have completed this product. We need you to approve this product so that we can continue.” If you email and it doesn’t work, call. If you call and they don’t answer, visit. The contract should note the amount of turnaround time for approvals, and a line noting “we are a small firm. If you cannot achieve the turnaround time on approvals, our team will have to move on to others projects. Failing to meet approval deadlines may require additional time to get your project back to the front of the schedule. This WILL affect your final completion date.”
Try to return calls and emails within 24 hours. Even if its just to say I acknowledge your request. THe more your habit improves, the more they will be in the loop. this will make them feel more important. Communicate with the clients. Let them know you’ll be out of contact for several days. You will see their response, but may not respond.
Talk to your clients. Don’t expect them to know everything. Communicate.
You need to make yourself available, within reason, to your client. set times for this and keep your allotted times. But, set limitations in your contract. This will keep your work life and home life separate. This will keep you sane. IF you’re work, work, work all the time, you’ll get burned out.
Have an offboarding process. Verify with your client that their goals have been met via their questionnaire. Give the client training on how to proceed after you’re out of the picture. Factor these 2 hours into your price. Give a small presentation on what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve created, based on the initial paperwork. Consider training at 1/2 price. Either give an itemized set or choose to itemize.
Itemizing labor is tremendously difficult, but all costs are easy. Ensuring that they know what the client receives is the important thing. Hourly rates for web development is roughly $150. Clients are given a flat rate on design work.
“Here is a flat rate of ____ . I have allotted 55 hours @ $150 for this project. Anything beyond this will be charged at an hourly rate.”
Once you have completed a project, follow up call with the customer. After 1-2 weeks, contact the customer via phone, and just ask how things are going. Use this as an opportunity to get feedback to tweak your processes. Consider this as an opportunity to ask for a referral.
Do things that other people don’t do. Consider sending something home made to your clients.
There is so much information put out there about growing a business, about SEO or marketing in general. One area that doesn’t get much love is customer service.
You can get the clients in the door, but then what happens? You want to do a great job but at the end of the day you’re stressed out because things are all over the place. The client wants this or that and it was never discussed.
At 11:00am on 4/23/2017, Move from HTTP to HTTPS… or Become Irrelevant, presented by Peter La Fond, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
Move from HTTP to HTTPS… or Become Irrelevant
Internet isn’t as secure as we wish. CloudBleed, Wikilieaks’ Vault7, Wordfence disclosed home router hack (57,000 homes confirmed). Cisco March 13th advisory noted that there is no workaround, and that anyone could possibly hack any cisco device and that you’ll have to wait until a patch comew out.
Last year, google came out with a 2-prong plan to move everyone to https. Reward SEO mojo to pages having HTTPS, and place a “Site not secure” alert in chrome browsers.
Difference between the two
Http is the protocol of the web. Https is SECURE. Migration requires a SSL/TLS certificate installed on a webserver followed by a series of steps to configure the website.
Http lacks security. It creates a MiTM (man in the middle) setup in which someone monitoring the
traffic can grab the information as it passes through. There are many people who’d love to get your information
Currently over 50% of google SERP is shoiwng HTTPS. Currently a small message appears. Phase 2 will be an information tab AND a message. Soon you’ll receive a phase 3 RED Triangle and message. Many other browsers will be following suit, and firefox already has.
All “ssl” certificates issued today are TLS.
What does it cost?
The real cost is the certificate cost (and possibly other costs) + server / WP installation time + Onsite Correction time + offsite adjustment time with analytics.
This might only takes hours to set up, and then a few weeks to get things set up. Using Let’s Encrypt is a much faster way to build, but the host must work with Let’s Encrypt.
Its only secure if you see the padlock. a little plugin called really simple SSL, and Why no padlock? to track down issues. Hardcoded CSS will not be found.
SSL is another item to manage, it is a certificate which will expire and need to be updated every year. Moving to a new host? Your certificate will also need to migrate
NOt all certs are created equal
Chrome may flag Symantec certs as Untrustworthy. They are considered to be built very sloppily. Let’s encrypt is a great service. Its free, and the host should have a script running which updates the SSL every 90 days.
Don’t be caught flat-footed! It’s time to get migrate to HTTPS. Google Search is actively pushing non-HTTPS websites to the second and third results pages. Additionally, the Google Chrome browser has started to show “Not Secure” notices when a webpage isn’t HTTPS compliant. An overwhelming percentage of WordPress websites are not HTTPS compliant.
This talk will touch upon the hazards of not migrating to HTTPS and the various steps required to get HTTPS up on your WordPress website.
At 9:30am on 4/23/2017, I attended Managing Your Iceberg, presented by Cory Miller, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
Managing Your Iceberg
Cory opened by telling us that we’d be hearing some very personal things. Entrepeneurship is the hardest and most rewarding job there is. When looking at the important info, he came to this idea of the iceberg.
The tip we see is seunchine and success – everything is awesome. Below the waterline, struggle and suffering – all the stuff I bury & hide from everyone. Anger, stress, frustration, jealousy, competition,. conflict, loss, insecurity, criticism, failur, fear, etc. You’re not alone.
For the man’s life in 2010-2011, so much was going on in his business life, that everything was coming up roses. However, there were numerous items under the surface which was tearing his life apart.
Today, things are slightly different. He has a 4-year old child just like him, and a 2-year old child just like his wife. And, certainly being a parent is the most frustrating job which has ever existed. They are the greatest joy in life, but they are also the greatest trouble. 🙂 Its worth it though
Same Problems, Different Names
We have to learn to be human. You’re a real person, you have emotions. Let’s not hide the human experience, lets not sweep it under the rug (let’s NOT do this on facebook). Be Human with others, and you’ll get human back. SOmetimes its not always awesome, but it is real. There are too many opportunities to be robotic or inhuman. If you aren’t being human or acting it, you’re missing out.
What holds us back
Self defense, fear, ego, pride, shame, embarrassment, guilt… these things hold us back. In short, a superhero syndrome. That he may not want anyone to help him, that he could take it all on. The right people rushed in to help him when he let it out.
How to navigate the iceberg NOW
Its all about relationships and people. Those who rush in, while everyone else runs out. Those are the helpful ones. For us viewers, if everything in your world got turned upside down, WHO would you need? Things will go wrong. When everything hits the fan, who is there to help you make it through.
Your significant other- your first and essential partner. Your counselor- someone who you may not have to ask to pass you your favorite dish at thanksgiving.
My iceberg group
Safe group of like-minded, value-aligned people on a similar path. What’s the why? The learning, growth, accountability, support you need to keep you afloat. Its ok to have a uniform group #2, and iceberg friends that help to keep you afloat. I hate the term “mastermind group”. To get them, find those who are trusting and respect, confidentiality, no pillow talk. Learn and grow, not there to sit and gloat, and able to receive Empathetic support and not be jealous or judgemental. Empathy is not sympathy. its walking in one another’s footsteps without judgement.
Wysiwyg, shed the masks and costumets. Share the iceberg, the higest highs and lowest lows. Parallel stories offered, but not arrogant advice. More often than not, we want your story, not to be told things as advice. Give me the story and I’ll draw my own conclusions.
It starts with you
Be proactive and start herding cats. Start today. be open and honest, but have mutual trust and respect with CIA-level secrecy. There are plenty of support groups for problems which are specific, but not exactly one for LIFE.
Start simple and build from there. Dedicated meetings regularly. Monthly by phone, zoom, whatevery works. Once a year, have a retreat, and add new members.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. THis has been tweaked to:
if you want to go miservable and lonely, go alone. If you want to go supported and happy, go together.
Success = 3 things you’re grateful for, and your support team.
Struggle = what’s holding you back, your fears, whats keeping you up at night or giving you heartburn
Cory Miller is a former newspaper journalist turned full-time entrepreneur. In 2008, he started iThemes, one of the first commercial product companies in WordPress, that now offers key products like BackupBuddy, iThemes Security and iThemes Sync. Named the 7th fastest growing company in Oklahoma City in 2011 by the Metro 50, iThemes employs over 20 people around the globe with headquarters in Oklahoma City. In 2011, he co-founded The Div, Inc, a nonprofit tech foundation aimed at inspiring and training the next generation of web developers through its kid’s program, Div Jr. He is the co-author of WordPress All-in-One for Dummies (Wiley, 2011) and is a member of the Oklahoma chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a network of over 8,000 entrepreneurs in 40 countries with companies that have revenue over $1 million dollars annually. He blogs regularly about entrepreneurship and career advice here at CoryMiller.com. He is married to Lindsey Miller, who is the Partner Manager at Liquid Web. They have an adorable son named Caloway and a little sweetheart daughter named Lillian.
At 4:30pm on 4/22/2017, I attended Frameworks Springboard: Build Better Sites in WAYYY Less Time, presented by Shelly Peacock, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
Frameworks Springboard: Build Better Sites in WAYYY Less Time
Here’s whatI expect: After this talk, I won’t have to pick a random theme again. I’ll learn quick customization tips, and won’t fear the functions.php file any more. Also, I’ll incorporate Page Builders for even more speed and flexibility.
Takeaways: Tons of resources, basic functionality of child themes and page builders, all built on a framework.
Most designers will find the free themes that they like and they move forward, choosing more specialized theme. Canvas was a drag and drop first toe into frameworks- using them to build different things.
what’s a framework
a frameworks builds the basics of the house, but its your job to change out the design. Frameworks are used for speed, easily changing theme and designs. We’ll talk about 3 that start with a base framework and 3 child themes. You should use them because they are well-coded and have continuity. it is always the same and the theme is always the same and laid out in the same order. We’ll use Genesis.
Why use a framework? It has a giant community to help and support and a ton of resources available for frameworks. they are 10,000 time more available, in-depth, and fantastic.
A framework must have: accessibility, responsivity, and ease of use. Accessibility is the first smackdown from google. A non-responsive site gets a 60% smackdown from google. and of course easy to use.
There are premium and free frameworks. Genesis framework is her go-to framework. In her case, it was a 2-day setup for a new site. its $60 for the framework and the “sample Themes”. Child theme are plug and play.
Divi is the number 2 choice. Its easy with options. It has a drag and drop plugin. its $89 for all plugins.
Builder is a another theme option. Its unique in that its almost a pagebuilder by itself. You can have 5 different pages with 5 different looks and lay them out page by page.Its $197 for all items and all themes.
There are also some free options. Beans. Speedy, easy to set up, but a few child theme. You can build your own child themes.
Gantry is a plugin/framework hybrid. Mainly its a customizer.
Install Parent Theme
Install Child Theme (renamed if you like)
wpcore.com is a free system. Sign up for an account and you can create a collection of plugins. These plugins save time!
This checklist is a start to finish plugin ideas, ecommerce system plan.
Using a sample theme as our example.
1) Set header (style sheet line 1041)
2) Set nav (style sheet line 1110
3) set footer (style sheet line 1449)
Beaver builder fills in everything in between. You must have a full-width page template. (link in notes) save as beaver-builder-page.php and drop into the css folder
For visual designers, you’re well-situated to bring them in early as opposed to later. Set aside a 2-hour period of time, changing fonts, colors, etc.
Then she moved through several examples. I liked this sessions, but will be a little LESS likely to use these framework systems. The examples shown of the work she had done were not good. I would never do this kind of work for my customers. She was very excited to say she was able to build out a fully templated website for $1500 in only a few hours. Frankly, the website looked like it was created in a few hours. A system like ENFOLD or BRIDGE seems like it could have a much better return on investment, a much better look and feel, and much more approachable backend service.
I found some of this material to be very helpful, but the examples did not back up the level of expectation I had. Perhaps I was overshooting the desires of the presenter.
At 3:25pm on 4/22/2017, I attended From Amazon to WordPress: Creating your eCommerce Site, presented by Sharon Dawson, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
From Amazon to WordPress: Creating your eCommerce Site
Promoting your physical products on Shopify, Etsy, or Amazon can be convenient, but expensive since those sites take a cut of your profits. By switching to WordPress to promote your products, you can drive more customers to your brand and keep more of your profits.
The basics of setting up eCommerce on your WordPress site
Page 2 of google is where they hide the dead bodies. People hate ecommerce website because they drop their shopping cart due to unreachable customer service. 22% of shopping cart abandonments are due to forcing customers to create an account. If people cannot sort or filter their results, they will leave to find one which can. A search should be able to used and products found. $2% of users do not trust poorly designed sites. If your website store is not mobile friendly, you’re losing 25% of your customers.
The customer is always CHEAP. think about your shipping costs, coupon codes, and stacking promotions. Think about the product you have. There are plenty of other vendors. Turn off the stackable promotion vs. sales. Slickdeals.com was burning them in the past with codes.
So how do you sell lip balm? burts bees shipped a $3.30 lip balm for $5. An $8 chapstick?
A picture is worth 1,000 words? A picture is worth nothing if its wrong. Picture matches description and title. Correct color, flavor, type. Size, special packaging. Lots of low reviews occur if you see a wrong picture with what you receive.
The eCommerce Golden Rule: Do unto others as Amazon has done unto others. If theexact same product is being sold on amazon for less, well, good luck. Can you offers discounts?
Things to consider when setting up a new eCommerce store
- Make sure its obvious its ecommerce,
- Well designed product pages,
- Logical easy to use checkout flow
- 310 redirects when a product no longer available
- FAQ page relating to eCommerce, not just company or products
- Standard pages in footer
- Shipping Policy
- Returns Policy
- appealing images
- product description not duplicate
- if multiple colors/flavors/size, drop down or separate options on the page that carries over to the payment engive
- size or quanity in container clearly listed
Things to consider when setting up a new eCommerce store
Popular themes to use to quickly make an attractive online store: Woo Commerce Plugins
- Woocommerce Subscriptions. Accepts weekly, monthly annual payments
- Table Rate Shipping
- Stripe payment gateway
- WooCommerce Mailchimp
- WooCommerce Currency Switcher
- Products slider
- PDF Invoices
They give about 20% more completions, but only if the offer is better than anything on the page. FOMO ( Fear of missing out- only a few left, only __ time less, get it before the end of the month). Split testing.
How to promote your site to existing customers from Shopify, Etsy, or Amazon
Cant beat em? Join em! Introduce your products via Amazon. Put a deal in the package, for YOUR website. Follow up email with a deal. Then ask for a review on Amazon. This will strengthen your response on Amazon, but offer them your website.
“If you had anything less than a 5-star experience, please contact us at –@— and we’ll make it right.”
Creating feeds for Google shopping
Google product feed through woocommerce. Feeds into google merchant center. This one will lead the google feed into your results.
At 1:00pm on 4/22/2017, I attended Maximize Your Productivity, presented by Cameron Campbell, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
Maximize Your Productivity
Everyone wants to get more done with their day, but we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that putting more hours in at work results in more productivity. I’d like to dispell that myth and offer practical solutions for freelancers and teams to maximize their productivity while working less hours.
Working more hours makes me more productive. There is a tipping point where you care less. We don’t actively think about productivity
Habits & Routines
There is not magic hat or map. Unfortunately it is really more about putting in some routines. The penny is worth millions if doubled every day for a month. Every small adjustment which keeps happening can bring you to a much better place over time. If an hour is saved each day, 5 hours a week, 40 hours each month…
Why are distractions so bad? You lose your focus. YOu don’t just lose the time of the distraction, you lose the time of getting back in, to the focus. CHanging over to email often gave them the ability to be further distraction.
Multitasking is a lie. It doesn’t work. Those distracted in the middle of a task took 4 times as long to complete their task as those who worked through from start to finish.
Schedule All Things
Rather than being reactive, be proactive to distractions. Schedule everything in 20min blocks for your time schedule. Schedule in some “Focus Blocks”, times you cannot be reached. Set aside time for items. He showed some pomodoro times.
Task Lists & Project Management
As a freelancer, he used email. That was a trainwreck. Basecamp, trello, teamWork, Asana. Set up project templates that have all of your most-used tasks and to-do lists ready to go. Organizae your tasks and assign them out to people and add due dates. Assign things to yourself and give them due dates. Try to keep client discussions inside the app as opposed to chat or email. This will save your sanity.
Give them some training for how to use this. (Give a link, give a screenshot, and give clear instructions – browser, device, etc.) In addition to basecamp, he also keeps a to do list. its a 3×5 card with the top 3 items on it. the notecard is too small to fill out, and starting this habit is very helpful.
Routines provide rhythm to your day. Brain triggers are sensory cues to your bear that it needs to shift gears, ASAP. It used sight, smell and even taste. His morning brain triggers use coffee music and computer. This helps him get into focus. The morning is his most productive time. Every day, he sits down with coffee, instrumental music, and the code editor. Its something which took time to ramp up into.
Stopping for the Day
When its time to quit for the day, he has a brain trigger of closing the door and stepping away.
Getting Away From the Screen
Your body can only focus on high function for 90 minutes. Schedule in a time or two for recharging the battery.
At 1:00pm on 4/22/2017, I attended Getting Started with Video, presented by Jeff Jacobson, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
Getting Started with Video
Why use online video?
- Product demonstration
- travel video
What makes a good video?
- Tells a story effectively and efficiently
- Good picture
- Good Audio
- Good Host
Effectively tell a story
Planning. Write a script. Storyboard your shots. Adobe Story is a fine program to assist building these out. Its clunky to write these 2-column scripts, but its very useful.
- Properly exposed
- accurate colors
- well framed
- properly focused
- microphone close to or on subjecyt
- volument properly adjusted, microphone not “Clipping”
- no extraneous sound
Basic Video Concepts
Field of view. How muc h of the shot can you see, and what does that tell us? Wide angles give the atmosphere, the short field is more personal.
Dept of field: How much is in focus? with shallow, the subject is in focus. A wide depth of field shows everything to setting mood.
Aperture: The amount of light let into the shot.
After a few minutes of this presentation, I honestly started having trouble focusing. The materials were extremely basic. I hoped to take a class about getting your offline business online, but that session cancelled. Important points like “Use a Tripod” didn’t really inspire confidence. Several people had fallen to sleep because of the heat and proximity to lunch.
At 11:00am on 4/22/2017, I attended Taming the Whirlwind, presented by Nathan Ingram, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
Taming the Whirlwind
Simple strategies to use to move your company on the right track moving forward. Nathan is a freelance webdeveloer using wordpress exclusively since 2010. He loves seeing freelancers move forward.
Slides can be seen http://www.nathaningram.com/wcraleigh
The Common Struggle
Freelancers face common challenges. In four years of coaching conversations, I’ve found very few unique issues.
You are not alone.
The details are different, but the problems are the same. You’re not alone. If you think you’re the only one who is too busy with client work, isolation, billing, stable income, new clients, you’re not alone. No one has it together. None of us do.
Strategy vs. Execution: Execution is what we do, Strategy is how and why we do it. Both are Critical. Most Freelancers Appreciate Strategy. Become more efficient, more productive, more profitable.The common struggle is Strategy vs. Execution. Execution is what we do, and Strategy is how and why we do it. Both are critical. Most of the time freelancers are great with execution, but are poor at strategy. Not many of us have business backgrounds. You want to do the things which really matter to you.
We’ll name the issues, and then we’ll talk about how to make this happen.
As freelancers we appreciate strategy. Become more productive, more profitable. SO, why is it so hard to keep strategy in focus. WHy do we go to such great info, but we never implement it. Its not that you didn’t have the intention its that life got in the way. Years up the road, there isn’t a big change in the way things have happened.
The Whirlwind is the urgent- the energy and attention needed to run your business. Its the half hour client meeting that turns into an hour and half. You have things you want to do, and your time to do it, seems to last 2 minutes. While goals and strategies are important, the whirlwind is urgent, and urgent wins every time.
As important as goals and stretegies are, they seem to get pushed to the future.
Consider using the sheets. You are your most important client. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re in the same place next year. Set a calendar point, with a time and 2 alarms. DOn’t get intimidated by the strategy session. Schedule it and keep your appointment. If you fail to do this, you can become an evaporating web developer.
Identify your Goals (2-4 hours)
In a 2-hour goalsetting session, unplug your phone, laptop, etc. Print the material on paper and fill this by hand. Decide on what it is that you really, really need to do.
>ADVANCE Goal Worksheets: nathaningram.com/wcraleigh to download these.
The first page here is a declaration template, and there is a second page which includes a pre-filled form. IF you have found a way to create a recurring revenue (maintenance contract), that pays your salary, you just made things much easier.
Be specific in here and match the SMART system. What is the difference between the dream and the attainable goal? what will you need to understand? What templates can you build to make this easy. Don’t forget the R- the RELEVANCE. If you don’t have a WHY in the mix, you will not be able to keep out the whirlwind.
Time setting allows you to require a timeline. The declaration template says: I will__ by__ because__.
Initial Planning Session
Build out a weekly action item setup where you are setting aside 2-4hrs actionable tasks to keep you on task.
What are the changes I most need to make?
• Prioritize: which bring immediate results?
• Pick your top 3 goals
Don’t pick what you like, but the thing which will bring the most immediate result. You probably won’t enjoy it, or you would have done it already.
Initial Planning Session
What are the changes I most need to make?
• Break down top 3 goals into action items
• Plan action items that will take 2-4 hours each
Top goals will have 12-15 weekly action items. Good. NOw you have several months of material to do. and you’ll do it. Its small action steps, but if you look back, you’ll see how far you’ve come. If you’re just thinking, it could be month before your finished thinking.
setting and seeing results brings momentum. and built momentum is harder to slow.
Weekly Planning Session
30 min – 1 hour planning each week.
Plan time to execute on at least 1 action.
Planning a week is a great concept. If you don’t have the week planned when the week begins, you will not have an easy time getting started because the whirlwind is already waiting. If you’re too busy to plan in advance, you need to plan more than you can possibly imagine.
Weekly Planning Session
Most of us are too busy not to plan.
Without a plan, the whirlwind always wins.
Weekly Planning Session
Plan the week before it starts
– Friday afternoon?
– Sunday Evening?
-Early Monday morning?
As soon as you hit the desk, there’s distractions waiting.
Weekly Planning Session
Plan the week before it starts
It’s hard to plan
in the middle of the whirlwind.
Weekly Planning Session
Plan the week before it starts
Schedule time to accomplish
Initial Planning Session
You really can do this.
Two Final Suggestions
Priorities are Critical
You will always have more goals than time, so make sure you prioritize well.
• Focus on immediate impact
• Probably not the things you enjoy doing.
There’s no way to fit everything in. So prioritize. Some times good ideas get put on a shelf because its not the best thing for today. Its hard to keep track of incoming pay, but it will bring the best solutions
Two Final Suggestions
Don’t Overdo It
Our tendency is to try to accomplish too many goals.
Keep the goals simple. and if you can keep it under control you will avoid suffocating yourself.
The Law of Diminishing Returns
Number of Goals
In addition to the Whirlwind
Number of Goals
Achieved with Excellence
2-3 4-10 11-20
2-3 1-2 0
How many plates of food can you eat in a day? 2-3 can be doable. 4-10 you’ll get about half done. 11-20 goals will bring you zero completed goals.
Don’t Overdo It
Our tendency is to try to accomplish too many goals.
One or two action items a week.Plan for 2-4 hours.
THere will always be up and down time. if you’re planning in advance, it can be helpful in downtime.
The whirlwind never goes away
When urgency and importance clash,urgency wins every time.
Develop a strategy to accomplish your goals in the whirlwind.
In 6 months, how would your business change if you put this into practice? if you moved up 2-3 items each week, what can you offer then which you don’t now? How much more could you accomplish?
In 6 months, how would your LIFE change if you did? With structures in place, how much better could your life be. Its just goal setting and setting aside the time to do it. Everyone in here can do what has been described, or something like this
Brian Moran’s 12-week year. Is not a problem with strategy, its measuring your execution as part of your strategy.
Will my clients notice if I take time for strategy? its 2-4 hours each week. If your clients notice that 2-4hr block stops you from being able to take calls, then you need to hire someone. One participant noted that they don’t take any client calls on Friday.
Is there a higher-order process of checklists that you work through with your clients? Yes. Proprietary though.
Trello is a checklist site. Nathan runs his life out of there. THere is a board of home projects, and he and his wife checks through those.
He is also the Host at iThemes Training where he teaches WordPress and freelance business development topics via live webinar.
Nathan has been a freelance web developer since 1995, and is based in Birmingham, Alabama where he is the co-lead organizer of the Birmingham WordPress Meetup and WordCamp Birmingham.
You can learn more about Nathan at https://nathaningram.com.
At 9:15am on 4/22/2017, I attended Where’s The Wordcamp Opening Keynote, presented by Chris Lema, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC
Wordcamp Opening Remarks: Seven Stories, One Point
Opening remarks were given by Ben Merideth, and Chris Lema immediately began with a story. A texi driver saw smoke and called the fire department, who had already received 6 calls. There were no sprinklers, no clearly marked exits. 10 people died. People from the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 1st floor were easily evacuated. the 10 were trapped in the bathroom on the 2nd floor. It was not an issue of evacuation, windows or bars, but what was it that caused the problem.
Here he stopped the story, and gave a small motivational talk about how easy it can be to get intimidated. And there is really no reason for that. lunch was the hardest– because he didn’t know anyone. Its easy to be intimidated because you don’t know or are unsure. All of that is normal. Its easy to get intimidated. Here’s seven stories with one point.
In the community, you will find people who are smarter than you, disappointed in you, ignoring you. Chris grew up with a brother who was smarter than him. In the workplace, we see people smarter than us all the time. the important point is to avoid the negative self-talk. There are people within any community who will have expectations that you cannot hit. Certain expectations are good. Others are not. Especially when the expectations are based only on someone else’s expectations when they don’t know you. Others may ignore you. In the community, it is easy to be intimidated when the situation is awkward.
There will be people who highlight your mistakes. Turning on debugging is like bringing in your worst nagging. After dropping a plug-in, he was given numerous mistakes in return. This is especially true in the opensource community. People will take any chance to make adjustments. You can’t take that specifically to your heart. Don’t forget that you can delete comments. At Chrislema.com I used to think that was wrong. But if you want to pontificate, go somewhere else. Others will hustle more than you. A friend runs wpbeginner.com , and he’s 20yrs younger than him. People push harder, work harder, than you. You should be able to hustle smarter, or just less, but that’s ok. Others will disagree with you. 6 months ago, Chris quit his job at Crowd Favorite. Others disagreed, telling him that he can’t quit a job while you have no plan. He took about 9 months with cigars in hot tubs. There are tons of problems that open source isn’t solving. Its hard to find free workers on large projects when there’s no payout at the end. Everyone says “There’s no way”. So he joined a hosting company called Liquid Web. He gave them a roadmap and they agreed.
THe point here is that there’s always going to be someone who disagrees. The suggestion or trick here? GET INVOLVED. Get involved and keep showing up. All the stress and narratives go away. “When its your turn to be picked, you have to be within pointing distance”. You have to go to where the action is, because at some point the older people die off. And you have to be in pointing distance, keep showing up. Don’t get distracted, don’t copy/paste. without context, its all a sham.
Why did they die in the restaurant n 1979? why would they have a problem exiting the restaurant? it was 1:30pm. THey had eaten their lunch, but hadn’t gotten their bills. THey didn’t want to be first to leave. The peer pressure caused the smoke inhalation to kill them. Comparison kills. If it doesn’t kill you physically, it can kill you emotionally. Don’t let comparison or someone else’s ideas govern what you can or can’t do.
Its easy to get intimidated, let someone’s beliefs or actions get you down. THis can be intimidating, but comparison kills and this is your show. Engage, get involved, and you’ll defeat that intimidation.