I did some thinking over the weekend, after I wrote the post about my learning plan. I looked at my project pipeline. I looked at what people were hiring me to do, and I reviewed the next few personal projects I’m working on. You know what I saw? No coding projects. Honestly, I shouldn’t. That’s no longer my core business. I turn down freelance jobs 90% of the time. But I still want to write code. I will have to for some of the online courses I’m taking. Luckily, there’s the whole idea of a “side hustle,” and since I made my side hustle my main gig last year, my side hustle has an opening.
When I was in grammar school (or primary school, depending on where you live), we had a fenced-in slab of pavement where the students could play during recess. It was…kinda boring, but it was highly unlikely we’d get hit by a car. We were protected. There was also this HUGE, open field across the street. On good days, our teachers would supervise us as we crossed the street, to the heavenly field where we could run free. Those were the highlights of recess. We could do basically whatever we wanted, from play soccer, to just run around. We had freedom, even if it was at the expense of a little safety.
Now that I’m an adult, recess is a long missed part of the day. But I still have a similar choice when it comes to a lot of things: do I want to be sheltered & safe, or do I want freedom, even if that freedom lets me break things? A hosted platform vs. something self-hosted like WordPress is one of those choices.
When you tell people that you’re going to Cabo San Lucas for a business conference, you get some funny looks. Well, you get one specific look: “Oh sure. I bet you’ll do a ton of work there.” It’s easy to think. I mean, we are in paradise. Our sessions were in pools. We had afternoons off. But let me tell you: CaboPress is the best business conference I’ve ever attended, and exactly what I needed.
Yesterday, I gave a fantastic webinar on creating an Event Registration Form with Gravity Forms and decided to try something other than Zoom Webinars. I love Zoom and use it for all of my meetings, but my goal for attendees is to make is as easy as possible without the need for them to download anything extra. So far, I’ve looked at 3.
One year ago today, I launched Episode 1 of How I Built It, the podcast I started to learn from other business owners. I announced it by telling the story of Il Duomo, which I had seen in person 2 months prior. That’s still a great story that gets at the heart of what I’m trying to do on the podcast: learn from other people. I knew when I launched that it would be successful if I got great advice from people who’ve built great things. What I did not expect was the other successes I’ve seen. A year in, I have over 72,000 downloads. Each episode gets downloaded at least 1200 times 2 weeks after launch. And podcast sponsorships have become a major part of my income.
Let’s set the stage. You want to take a trip to the Grand Canyon with your family of 4, but plane tickets cost $1000 each. Plus there’s the hotel for a week and food, not to mention other expenses. Instead, you decide to take a few extra days off work and drive there because it would save you literally thousands of dollars. What if someone told you that if you can’t afford to fly, you shouldn’t go? Now think about this: you just started a business and you know you need a website but you can’t afford a $5-10K one. Someone you know says they can make a website for $500 using WordPress and a page builder. Are you wrong for accepting that? I say no.
In the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, there’s this iconic scene where Kevin Costner’s character is standing on his land in a corn field, when he hears a voice say, “If you build it, he will come.” Confused, Costner keeps walking, assuming he’s hearing things. Then he hears it again. “If you build it, he will come.” Then again. And again. Eventually he gets the hint, and is inspired to build a baseball field on his land, beginning a journey of catharsis he needs for guilt he feels after the death of his estranged father.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I feel this is a sentiment felt by myself and by others when we build products on the web. If I build it, they will come. After all, it works for Google. But building it, much like in that classic movie, is not enough. It takes a lot more work.
I almost called this one, “Trust and be Trusted, but don’t betray your business.” That’s the gist of the next two stories. It’s easy to make concessions when you’re freelancing, especially when business is slow. You need the work and you’re willing to bend your rules a little bit to move the chains, or bump the bottom line, or whatever metaphor you want to use for, “make more money.” But that might not always work out. I wrote this article in a notebook while on vacation, about 1 month before starting the book Start with Why. I’m happy to say this book reinforced the sentiments of what I’m about to share with you: When you make decisions for your business, stick to them. (more…)