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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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This is a screenshot of a Happy Days video with The Fonz

Making Mistakes and Falling on Your Sword

As a perfectionist, I have a hard time forgiving myself and accepting my mistakes. I know I’m not perfect, I just don’t really want anyone else to know it! And yet, in a quest for perfection, I also realize that a more perfect person admits when they are wrong and seeks forgiveness. Everyone loves to be right. It is embarrassing to make a mistake, even more embarrassing when others know about it. In her article in the Huffington Post, Lisabeth Saunders Medlock, PhD talks about learning from our mistakes. She says mistakes teach us to take responsibility and help us have integrity. The act of recognizing we were wrong “points out what we can do differently next time.” For me, mistakes often happen when I over-commit and don’t focus. While I am still not always successful, I am trying to be more thoughtful and realistic about my commitments and promises. I am also trying to approach tasks and evaluate “crises” more mindfully and with more calm than frenzy. Owning up to mistakes can be a relief as well as an inspiration to others. Saunders Medlock says “mistakes give us opportunities to talk through what we could or would have done differently,” which can in turn be lessons to others….

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