Blog

Design TLC Lunch

Looking Back and Ahead: Confessions and Entrepreneur Goals

Today I was excited to have lunch with some local people who have supported my business throughout the years. As my business has grown, I am so grateful not only for my clients, but for all of the generous, talented, smart people who have helped me be successful and “up my game.” One of the career goals of an entrepreneur is to foster a community that helps us grow as a business, friend and human being! I wish I could have gathered together all those who live far away as well! I love the online WordPress and Genesis WP communities. I have been helped by strangers who now are friends, even if we have never met. I am sure I won’t remember everyone who has inspired me, provided solutions, offered assistance and given me advice, but I want to list a good number of them, just to demonstrate HOW MANY people have impacted my life and my business this year! So thank you shout outs from the bottom of my tender loving heart go out to (in no particular order!): Davinder Singh, Tom Ransom, Sridhar Katakam, Robin Cornett, Carrie Dils, Liam Dempsey, Chris Lema,  Chris Wallace, Jon Brown, Brian Hogg, Jeff King, Shay Bocks, Jackie Delia, Tonya…

Read More...

Why Wait? My Struggle to Be More Patient

As the season of Advent begins, I am reminded that this is a season of waiting. As Christians, we await the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Children anxiously wait for Santa Claus and presents under the Christmas tree. Anticipation can be exciting, but it is hard. [Tweet “Anticipation can be exciting, but it is hard.”] I am not good at waiting. I was brought up by parents who didn’t like to wait – my father was “that guy” in traffic who drove in the shoulder past lines of waiting cars. I am a “Type A” person who likes to get things done in a hurry and cross them off my list. When I was expecting my children, I didn’t hesitate to find out their sex because it was too hard for me to wait! This translates into my life as an entrepreneur, where my lack of patience has helped me forge ahead, but can also cause problems when I respond too quickly to an email, purchase something without thoroughly researching its usefulness, or rush through a job to get it done by a deadline. I recently wrote about using new projects as an opportunity to expand my skills. This…

Read More...
Group at CaboPress The CaboPress Group 2016

How 5 Days Can Change You

Five days ago I flew away from paradise. I was fortunate to attend a 5 day Mastermind conference in Cabo San Lucas called CaboPress. The event is the creation of Chris Lema, one of the foremost authorities, and kindest mentors, in the WordPress community. Chris speaks and writes about business leadership, entrepreneurship and public speaking (to name a few!). To say Chris is awesome might be an understatement! Many people say it, and it is true – Chris is a generous, wise and caring person. I met him in 2013 at WordCamp Baltimore and during our brief conversation he made a huge impact on my path as an evolving WordPress freelancer. I read about CaboPress in 2015 and was tempted to go. I eventually chickened out, worried that my business was too small to fit in with others attending from large, established companies. I told myself if my business continued to grow, I would apply to go the following year. Fast forward to 2016 and now I am looking back on an amazing experience! I wrote a thorough review on the plane coming home, but I have to say that the past 4 days, where I have been revisiting conversations…

Read More...
Tara Claeys on her bicycle

WordPress Professionals: Are You Cycling in the Big Ring?

Let’s Go For A Ride … When I first started cycling, I was in decent shape after a few years of running. In the beginning, I felt good about my pace and accomplishments. I was riding with some other women, and true to my competitive nature, I felt a need to show off and prove something – at least to myself. I pushed myself up hills with the most effort, thinking that a really tough, strong cyclist doesn’t need to change gears to make pedaling easier. Then one day, while riding with a very experienced cyclist, I was criticized for staying in my “big ring” (high gear) and “mashing my gears.” If you are not familiar with gears on a bicycle, there are typically two sets … one in the front, with one, two or three rings, which make the most dramatic change in effort needed to push the pedals through a revolution. The second set of gears, in the back, usually has more gears, which are used/changed more often for more subtle adjustments. While there are many styles of cycling and theories about the best way to ride and use gears, it is generally accepted that using the smaller ring…

Read More...
Scene from movie Limitless

Be Brilliant! Learn Something New On Every Job

In the movie, Limitless, Bradley Cooper takes a pill that allows him to learn enormous amounts of information almost instantly. I often think about that movie and wish I could take that pill (OK, it doesn’t actually work out that well for Brad in the end … but the concept is appealing!). There are so many things I want to learn and understand. I am a pretty fast learner, but it’s hard to know where to start and there is SO MUCH to learn to “level up”it is daunting. (Special thanks to Tonya Mork for challenging us all to “level up” our skills!)  As a self-taught WordPress website “Implementor” … Designer? Developer? Unicorn? I have learned more than I ever thought I could in just a few years. All without stepping foot in a classroom or taking time off for learning. While I would love to have the luxury of full-time school to learn things soup-to-nuts, my path has been “learn what I need to know as I go.” [Tweet “Learn what I need to know as I go.”] Admittedly, a fair amount of learning comes from failure, as well. I am not afraid to try something, and have seen a few…

Read More...
Scene from Stranger Things

Are your Clients in the "Upside Down" from "Stranger Things"?

In a recent meeting where I was training a client to use their new WordPress website, I suggested they keep the “front end” open in one browser tab and and the “back end” open in another. My client was having trouble understanding what “front end” and “back end” referred to. Having just finished the Netflix series, “Stranger Things,” it occurred to me that the front/back end of a website, for a client, might be a bit like the “Upside Down” world in this popular Sci-Fi series. In “Stranger Things,” a group of teenage boys attempts to find their lost friend, who they believe is trapped in an alternate dimension they call “The Upside Down.” They filter their experiences through the lens of their favorite game, Dungeons and Dragons, specifically a location called the Vale of Shadows. Their science teacher describes the alternate reality with a drawing of a tightrope, on which balances an acrobat and a flea. On top of the rope, the dimension has rules, you can move forward or backward. The flea, being small, can travel forward and backward, but can do so on the side or even underneath the tightrope, which he describes as another dimension. In our…

Read More...
Image of thousands of emails on iPhone

How To Simplify Your Life with Powerful Gmail Filters and Labels

Do you get overwhlemed by a large number of emails in your inbox? Do you find yourself deleting many emails without even opening them because they are junk mail and/or you don’t have time to read them? I LOVE the feeling of “Zero Inbox!” I feel a sense of calm when I have nothing in my inbox, or at least only one or two messages that I have already read. I have 3 email accounts, all of which are hosted with Google/Gmail. Earlier this year I ditched my mail client on my desktop and laptop computer and now only read my email in the browser. This took an adjustment, but the benefits are : My computer is much faster …. I don’t have to store thousands of emails that take up a lot of space on my hard drive I can view each mailbox separately, minimizing distraction while I am working, as I can keep my personal email account closed during working hours. Gmail has a filter that detects “Social” and “Promotions” messages, keeping your “Primary” inbox all about “real” email that needs your attention. On my phone, I use Outlook instead of the the iOS Mail App or Gmail. I…

Read More...
Photo of watches

It's About Time: One of the Hardest Things about Being a Freelancer

Of all the challenges of being a freelance WordPress website “Implementor” … bookkeeping, invoicing, legal stuff, dealing with difficult clients, finding time to read blogs and keep up with new things, learn code, maintain or repair websites … the one thing I struggle with the most is tracking my time. Even though I bid many of my projects on a flat fee basis, I still do project work. Even on flat fee jobs where time is not directly billable, it is important to keep track of time to get an idea of how long tasks/projects take to be sure that I am not underestimating (or overestimating) the amount of time it takes to complete a job. If you’re like me, tracking time is not something that comes naturally. I recall a former boss, when I worked for an advertising agency, telling me, “if you think about the project in the shower or as you are falling asleep at night, that is billable time.”  My approach is more like, “this will be a very quick task so it’s not worth tracking/billing the time” … and two hours later, I have gotten lost in the project and never turned on a timer and…

Read More...
Expert button on computer Image by GotCredit.com

Building Confidence and Becoming an Expert

expert:  having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced About a year ago I joined an accountability group. I thought it would be good to challenge myself, despite the fact that I am pretty goal-oriented anyway and was fairly comfortable with the state of my freelance web design/development business. I realized in the early stages of this process that my biggest issue was confidence in myself as a skilled professional. I set a goal to build my self-confidence by learning more, while considering the relative value I provide to my clients, who usually have no knowledge of websites, WordPress, plugins, hosting, domains and code. As someone who pays a lot of attention to the WordPress community, it is easy to feel inadequate, especially as an evolving, self-taught WordPress website “creator.” Much has been written about people like me daring to label themselves a “developer,” so I am hesitant to use that term, although in reality I do “develop” WordPress websites from a blank install to something unique for my clients. Many in the WordPress community agree with me here. After much consideration, I have settled on the term “WordPress…

Read More...
This is a photo of a pen on an appointment book

What I Learned from 30 Days of Blogging

Last month I set a challenge to blog for 30 days, to establish a habit of blogging, increase my knowledge base and followers. While I missed a couple of days here and there, and was grateful for some awesome guest bloggers to give me a break, I feel pretty satisfied with the content I created. I aimed for a range of topics, from general business/entrepreneurship, to website design and development, to social media and marketing. Here are the top things I learned and results from my 30 Day Blogging Challenge: Tools are a Key CoSchedule was a key to my process. I signed up and paid for a year, so I was invested in using this tool to schedule my blog posts, create drafts, and seamlessly integrate my content into my social media feeds. I loved the ability to drag and drop blog topics on a calendar, which works with my preference for a calendar/visual view of a schedule. CoShcedule lets you draft posts in your WordPress site directly from the CoSchedule Dashboard and store them in a “Drafts” folder, whereyouI can drag them onto the calendar when you want to use them. It also integrates Evernote, which I don’t…

Read More...