WooConf Debrief and a Member Discussion

For two days store owners and WordPress developers interested in growing their knowledge of WooCommerce gathered in Austin for workshops and networking.

WooCommerce Ninjas shared tips and tricks with developers,and store owners had the opportunity to learn how to use the software to its full potential from eCommerce experts and other successful store owners.

Joshua Shipsey and Adrienne shared their impressions and take-aways from their WooConf experience. Joshua shared his impressions from a developer’s perspective and Adrienne talked about what she learbed as a  store owner who uses WooCommerce.

The last half of the meetup was a lively member discussion about what topics we would like the WooConference meetup to address during the next several months and if there any local WooCommerce presenters they would like the organizers to approach for talks or Workshops. We have a white board full of suggestions and will be posting the upcoming meeting agendas as soon as we can organize them and tap our targeted presenters.

Here are the links from Joshua’s slide deck:

WooConf site: https://wooconf.com/

Link to Peep Laja’s website and free ebook
http://conversionxl.com/

Link to an eBook by WP Engine, Crowd Favorite, and Chirs Lema distributed at WooConf

https://wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/WP-EBK-ScalingWooCommerce-v06-PUB.pdf

 

Structuring and Developing a Winning Content Strategy

Many of our WordPress Beginners have asked for a dedicated session to address the best approach to developing a winning content strategy. Nick and Sandi Batik led this month’s discussion. They reviewed a few tools to help you get the most from your pages and posts. Nick demonstrated some navigation tips and an internal linking structure to help build effective information architecture. The session concluded with  5-step system to write copy that consistently attracts your target clients and organically build SEO.

Here is the link to the slide deck:

 

Guide to Writing a Winning Proposal

An on-going discussion about starting and building a successful, freelance WordPress business…

Last month we discussed finding clients for your Freelance business. At this month’s Deep Dive Discussion, Nick and Sandi Batik demonstrated tools and processes that help you write a winning proposal, even if you are an introvert.

Right-brained or left brained, creative or analytical, the Introverted Freelancer needs to suss out what problem your client is asking you to solve. The discussion focused on  defining the client’s problem and converting that problem statement into a proposal that defines how you will  meet the clients’ needs and help improve their bottom line.

There is the link to the notes and slide deck for the Austin WordPress Deep Dive Discussion Meetup April 11. 2016:

Freelancer’s Guide to Writing a Winning Proposal -1
https://handsonwp.com/freelancers-guide-writing-winning-proposal/

Freelancer’s Guide to Writing a Winning Proposal-2
https://handsonwp.com/introverted-freelancers-guide-writing-winning-proposal/

Finding Your Company’s Voice

The March WordPress Practitioner’s Meetup was the first in a series of “The Business of WordPress” topics our member’s have requested. Our WP Practitioners attendees are about evenly divided between business owners and mangers who use WordPress daily in their businesses, and WordPress Freelancers, Developers and Implementors who are building and maintaining WordPress sites for businesses. When the organizers read your topic requests, we approached small business specialist, Sarah Flaherty about presenting to our group.

Sarah’s tag line is, “Let me think outside the box for you,” illustrates her love for helping emerging businesses and her creativity. In today’s world, there is no unique business, there is only uniqueness. Finding your unique voice is the first and foremost need of a successful business or Freelancer.

Your firm’s voice is the single­most important business fundamental, and it is often ignored in our WordPress Community of Developers and Designers. Consumers no longer shop locally, they shop globally on their terms. This makes competition to get their attention, and keep it, fierce. You must be in constant communication with your clients in order to maintain sales and growth. However, you can’t achieve this through a great logo and a fabulous website. You must engage directly with your clients, and this requires you to have a curated voice; consumers flock to you and become your loyal evangelists when they hear and experience your care of them consistently ­ when they know your firm’s personality, what and why it’s passionate about, and what they can always count on.

Sarah C. Flaherty of LUV, LLC will briefly discuss the need to find your voice, how to shape it, and what to do with it once you’ve found it ­ with a focus on social media. This presentation will be followed by a group project that allows you to take a company from conception to initial client communication and will show you the importance of aligning your company’s mission statement with your visuals and content. This will help you better understand your need to content curate to find your firm’s unique voice and how to use it going forward.

With  some of Sarah’s tips and tricks you’ll find that not only will you better understand the hows and whys of what you want to do, but you’ll be better able to focus potential clients’ attention on your business, and keep it.  The WPATX Organizers want to thank Sarah Flaherty for a wonderful presentation and a fun workshop to demonstrate refining and channeling our business brand. Thanks to all our members who displayed amazing creativity and sense of humor -Sarah made learning fun!

Below please find a PDF of Sarah’s Slides and her contact info if you have any questions.

 

How to Find Your Company Voice

 

Intro to WordPress as an Application

It’s really an exciting time to be a WordPress practitioner right now, particularly as WordPress enters into a big transitional period with the introduction of the WordPress REST API!

As a practitioner, you’re used to approaching a need, whether for your own business or that of a clients, and then thinking of ways to use WordPress to meet the need through the use of themes, plugins, or other tools to make it happen. And the same goes with into mind when thinking of WordPress as an application as well.

Rarely does a client say in the first client meeting, “I want this exact plugin installed and for you to use these specific post types!” Haha no, instead they say, “I want to see who’s visiting my site”, or “Help! My website’s running slow!” And you geniuses go to work thinking of techniques to make it happen using existing tools, plugins, etc.

Transition

So what’s all this talk about a “transition”? The best way to begin describing the significance of this transition is to look back at where WordPress has been. Most of you have heard this, so I won’t go into all the old details, but in summary WordPress started as a blogging tool. At the time, it was still a crazy concept you could have your own personal stream of information you could control and post freely to.

Then came the introduction of post types and multisite, which was really at the core of transitioning WordPress from solely a blogging tool, to a full fledged CMS capable of storing and using vast amounts of content. For most of us in the room, this is what attracted us to WordPress in the beginning. Same with the introduction of a easy-to-use blogging platform, now it’s crazy to even imagine sites without a CMS at this point!

But now the next big transition is already under way into an application, and it’s equally exciting in the way it’ll increase capacity for WordPress and unlock new use cases to use the open source, community driven program we’ve all grown to love.

Application

First things first, if you’re like me when I first heard application, I immediate thought of iPhone or Android apps. But when I refer to applications, I’m referring to the system and data that runs a variety of mobile apps or websites.

See when opening up an app on your phone, the app itself isn’t actually where all the data lies. And when we think about it, it’s pretty obvious. All the tweets in the world aren’t stored in my phone…same with all the Airbnb listings, or Netflix shows. The mobile app as we call it, are merely the “skin”, or the front facing client we use to access, edit, add, or delete data.

Take Twitter for example. This is what Twitter looks like to us. (favorite, user profile picture, reply and compose buttons, follow users, etc)

Mobile Twitter Stream

But in reality, the screenshot below is what a tweet’s data actually looks like.

JSON Tweet

Even their front-end site, twitter.com, doesn’t actually store all the data, it’s just a skin designed and developed for us to interact with the application as well.

So now that we’ve unlearned and relearned what an application is within the context of APIs and the future of WordPress, let’s add another relearned word to our new vocabulary. (for some of us at least)

Clients

No, not talking about the people who hold to power to make or break our day, clients in reference to systems and APIs refers to the front facing website, mobile application, TV application, etc, that translates data from an application into an interact-able interface for the end users.

WordPress Clients

There are whole front-end roles dedicated to designing and building these interfaces. Whether it’s product or UX/UI design, to your standard HTML/CSS, JS languages for the web, and application specific languages as well for iOS, Android, Windows, and others.

For those who dabble or full on code WordPress themes, you’re probably already familiar with what’s stored in WordPress as an application vs. the code that organizes and displays the information properly. (front-end)

The the_title() function

Take the_title() function…you should see this within every post or page template within WordPress, and it goes and gets the title of the individual page, post, or post type of the current or requested page. Notice the positioning, styling, and headers all fall outside of the imported data from the function. Also, what would show up if we used the tag outside of the loop or outside of WordPress? Nothing! Outside of our WordPress installation, it doesn’t know where to get the title, for what particular page or post, or how to format the title we receive.

APIs

When dealing with applications, this is where APIs come in real handy. When we have a client interface, we use an API to choose where to go get the data, what particular data we want, and how we want it formatted and imported.

Even going back to our theme example, we don’t ever see it, but when we use the the_title() function, it’s automatically picking the source, content, and format for the page/post title.

Or let’s say for Twitter, reading the latest tweet. Using Twitter’s API, we’d define the source: the Twitter application, what: the latest tweet from a specific user, and how we want the data included: syntax, meta information, etc. For some APIs, this works with posting too. So instead of just reading data, we’re going to send a call to write data once we’re in with the right authentication.

APIs are super useful and are widely used in almost any site or web application, whether you recognize it or not! APIs unlock potential for all kinds of data analysis, manipulation, remixing, and visualizations to name a few!

Weather API

Weather API

Another quick example is weather data. Our client interface could be a website, or mobile app, and then using an API we can identify the source, specify where we want the weather reading, and how we want that information displayed.

WordPress as an Application

Now what could this possibly mean for my WordPress site? I was in the same boat about a year or so ago with all the technical talk surrounding the REST API and it’s integration into WordPress. One of the biggest breakthroughs is the introduction of the Headless CMS.

Headless CMS

Headless CMS

Scary name, but it’s actually a really cool idea with lots of potential use cases. Currently to update WordPress, (unless using WP-CLI) you had to login to the WordPress Dashboard. (love it or hate it, it’s really the only option you got) Same way the the_title() function only works on your site within your WordPress loop, same went for editing, adding, or removing data within your installation.

But with this transition to WordPress as an application, WordPress itself is becoming independent from the dashboard and even your front facing website.

No, there’s no need to fear, your WordPress installation won’t break or get cut in half after automatically updating to the latest release. In fact, you probably won’t notice a difference at all, but within WordPress core, new outlets and possibilities to access and update data come with a lot of new functions.

So what?

No longer will we have to rely on XML or RSS to retrieve data from a WordPress site. (which is worth the update in of itself) But with the REST API, you can also update, add, and delete data as well…all outside of the native dashboard included. This presents the opportunities for custom dashboards! I’m sure many of us have found ways to hide settings or certain fields in the admin area for fear of a client accidentally nuking their whole site! With the Headless CMS possibility, you could even design and build a completely new front facing interface with only the fields the client absolutely needs to update! Even styling and tailoring it exactly to your company or client’s brand.

Two camps

I believe the transition to WordPress as an application will start to sort future opportunities into two camps. Which the two were outlined in a super good white paper from Human Made, and agency with many of the lead developers working on the WordPress REST API.

On one end, will be the developers. This includes both API developers, backend developers, and the frontend developers building the front facing interfaces we talked about earlier. Whether it be a website, mobile app, or even for other devices like TVs and sensors.

But before you start crying for those who are deathly afraid to touch code, the second camp might be much more interesting and exciting for the WordPress practitioner! While the new REST API integrations with WordPress are super exciting and unlock a whole ton of new capabilities for developers, the transitions going to attract brand new users to WordPress who don’t have a clue the difference between posts and custom posts, or what custom taxonomies bring to the table. And from a developer perspective, we’re honestly more focused on the code and API than the actual content itself.

So using WordPress as an application is going to require someone with a background in using WordPress to take a bunch of new data from a variety of sources, and organize and structure it within the contents of WordPress. (think custom post types, users, media library, etc)

And many of you are already doing that! At the meetup, we broke up into groups and brainstormed some really cool use cases to make it happen. From creating online invoicing platforms, warehouse training platforms, auto body shop app for customers…the possibilities and implementations are endless!

The best way to prepare for the full implementation of the WordPress REST API is to start viewing WordPress as an application. Anticipate where potential endpoints and data sources could be, and how you’d then organize it all within the open-source platform we love.

The WordPress Freelancer’s Tool Box

Austin WordPress Deep Dive Discussion Meetup  February 08, 2016

Sandi Batik and Nick Batik lead this month’s Austin WordPress Deep Dive Discussion focused on what it takes to build a successful freelance WordPress business. The WPATX organizers have had numerous requests to devote more meetups to the “Business” of WordPress.  If this discussion topic proves popular, we will expand the topic into a more formal class for our WordPress Practitioners meetup, which is hosted in a larger venue.

Our attendees came prepared to talk about the tools and techniques they are currently using everyday in their WordPress businesses. We covered prospecting, marketing, proposal writing, client interviews / on-boarding, project management, client management, project close-out and invoicing client follow-up. It was a fast paced, interesting conversation about what was working and not working in our businesses.

To my mind the best part of the evening was the information exchange — each member introduced themselves, explained a little bit about their specific skill-set and their business. We were able to demonstrate that your next best resource or project partner might be sitting right next to you at the next Austin WordPress Meetup. Several folks exchanged cards and have the opportunity to work on jobs together. Helping each other succeed is the very ethos  of our Austin WordPress Community, and it was great to see that culture of mutual support in action during the meeting.

At it’s core, the successful Freelance Business is about being helpful and supportive.  Those ‘Solopreneurs’ who think in terms of collaborative partnership with their clients, and the other professions they team up with to delight that client are the pattern-card for a profitable, sustainable business.

Here is the link to our Deep Dive Discussion transcript and slide deck

WPATX Developer Code Share

There is a Developer’s Code Share on Monday, October 5, 2015, 7:00 PM to 8:45 PM. We invite anyone with fun, interesting, or useful code to show your stuff. Post your code in the form below so we can add it to the presentation. Thanks!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What You Need to Know About Offering WordPress Maintenance Contracts

Business cycles are a rollercoaster. You need to know what your income is going to be.
Retainers help to level out some of the big dips and drops. The core of this is Building Relationships. You are no longer just a craftsman who comes in a builds something then leaves – you are now in a longer-term relationship.
Certainty – Your client doesn’t have to worry, and you don’t have the rollercoaster of cash flow.
Value – You can charge a higher rate because you add the value of caring for, and maintaining their site.
Level-up – You are getting out of the transactional model into a value-based “retainer” model. You are not becoming a better developer, you are becoming a better business person.
It’s a Contract – call it a Statement of Work, Agreement, whatever. Find a lawyer and CPA to help you craft this contract.
Negotiate as a Partner – you and your client are in this as partners. You are in this together. Be certain of the relationship before you get into it, be clear of the value you add to that client. It also involves constant communication.
Clear Statement of Work – This is not every detail – it is “what I will do for you” e.g. “WordPress will be updated and secured when know vulnerabilities are disclosed”. Include bullet points such as do you have the ability to contact the hosting provider on their behalf?
Get Paid – Invoice on time. Expect to get paid on time. Make that part of the terms. Try something like Freshbooks that will send out the invoices automatically.
Regular Communications – Control the conversation. Be the perfect waiter/waitress. Send status every week or two. Include them on trouble tickets. Update them about everything.
Scope – You & client prioritize work within the period of time. Make sure you include such things like:
  • Time for meetings
  • Updates and security
  • Communications with hosting company
  • Discovery of edits, new content, usage, analytics, training
  • How to handle overage-hours
  • Monitor up-time
  • Rush rate / Overage rate
  • General account project management
  • Performance tuning
If you don’t host the site, be sure to indicate that you will help them with their hosting company, but that you are not responsible for server problems.
Did You Forget Something? – Do you charge for phone calls? Build in something to count for the minutia.
Consider a small discovery contract to determine what you can do for the client.
Remember: One of the values that you add is that the client knows you and how to work with you. It would cost them time and money to find someone else.

How to Implement Website Design Best Practices in WordPress

Last month Rich Plakas covered what those new to WordPress need to know about Best Practices for Website Design. Based on our member’s requests, this month Rich showed attendees how to implement them in their WordPress sites. Rich reviewed some websites to help attendees to know what to look for in a best practices-designed site.

Here are two links Rich Plakas spoke about in regards to sliders or picture carousels:

http://conversionxl.com/dont-use-automatic-image-sliders-or-carousels-ignore-the-fad/#.

http://makeyourselfvisible.com/internet-marketing/should-i-use-website-slider/

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Building a Steady Stream of Customers to your WordPress Site Using FaceBook

PRESENTER: Chris Mercer, you can catch his weekly PODCAST at:  http://seriouslysimplemarketing.com

FaceBook is putting a firewall between personal and business accounts.

Go to http://business.facebook.com to get a free account.

If you have an existing account with which you paid for FB adv,  you can migrate it in. Use your regular FB email and migrate the pages you already manage in.

Use your normal FB login.

Once you log in, it takes you to your dashboard. If you have a business page, you migrate it into this account.

Promoted Posts

You have your page and your page administration — which is where you do notifications and promoted posts.

Promoted posts are ‘boosted’ — these are the easiest type of  Facebook Advertising you can do. You share your post, you want anybody to see it, you pay for that.

Your primary audience are people who ‘Like’ your page — people who ‘Like’ your page and their friends, are the people you choose through targeting

Location

Total budget for a campaign $5-$50, will tell you how many people you will reach.

What if you have a local, geographically limited region, it’s easy.

FB tells you how many people you will reach, based on how much $ you spend, where it shows, what demographics.

Share your post, boost a post from your website and drive people to your blog.

People you choose for targeting will be anyone out there.

Do lots of testing to see which market does best.

You could go to custom audience.

First you want to promote from people who liked your page.

It used to be that whenever I would share a post and 1000 reached — under the new FB process —  my organic posting only reached 16. It means they filled up in their feed, not that they read it or liked it. The more you promote it, the more will like your page.

Just do one thing, practice it before you do more.

Boosting posts is the easist way to start advertising on FB.

After that…

AD MANAGER:

Choose the objectives for your campaign.

Put $100 in, and again and again. And you make $10, then $100 more and you make $30.

You can upload a list of email addresses of your buyers and only market to them and people like them.

Interests, kayaking, it offers other similar suggestions. And shows how many in an age group, region, behaviors,

There is a library of images from Shutterstock, all included for free.

Associate the images with a page.

You need to type in your headline.

Type in body copy.

Character length changes regularly by FB

You can add a button. It shows up in the ad and has a call to action.

Deeper description is the New Feed (only shows on desktop)

As you build the ad, you see a preview of what you are building.

All ads point to the same spot, headlines, descriptons are teh same, but you can test different images. It will tell you which ad, with which picture, got the most likes.

If you click on the image, it will go to your destination URL.

There’s a desktop news feed and a mobile version. Right hand, is when youa re in FB and they are on

Turn off the right hand column — it doesn’t work on mobil

FaceBook considers it an impression if it shows in their stream.

Use in your Ad the keywords for which your destination URL is optimized. It will help with relevancy. Congruence in headlines.

We name the campaigns so you know who you targeted–best practice.

Internet Marketing Gurus

IM Tools

SSM Like Us

Verify your results with Google Analytics.

Reach: How many people had it in their streams

FB does general reporting. You can set up custom reports for each day.

Click through rates will be on a report

CPM,

It’s very targeted, people who are more than likely going to be your buyers.

Good blogs to follow:

SocialMediaExaminer — the best blog

PPC Hero, good for Adwords

Social Media Ad Genius (run by a guy who runs Social Media Blackbook)

When Mercer gets back to us with additional Blogs to follow I will post in WP Austin notes.

You can look at the cost per click and see how it varies by country, etc.

FB changes constantly. A moving target.

You spend a long time in Campaigns.

FB Tracks everything and because of that, you can see how people are connected to your page.

You can learn about their lifestyle.Are they single/married under Audience Insights in the Ad Manager.

Re-Marketing. When you come to my site, a pixel is placed on my site and the computer reports only to people who saw your page already. You can get very specific. In last 60 days, people got their pages shut down because the marketers got too good at pixel marketing.Good for building marketing personnas.

Pixels and cookies are almost the same thing. Cookies are physical things that stay on the browser. A pixel fires a snippet of code.

Pixel Code, you copy and paste into your footer.php. It’s a tiny Javascript snippet that has your unique id and tells facebook the moment the page loads, in the user’s database it says what page he has seen. This is why ads follow you.

https://www.ghostery.com/en/ is one of several sites that protect you from re-marketing so ads won’t follow you.

You can upload your list of customer email addresses or phone numbers and FB will find them and let you add a look-alike list and you can target people most like your customers.

You can tie FB into your GA account. Each keeps track of their own stats.

The power editor on FB (really advanced stuff)

UTM Tracking.

UTM_Course=Facbook&urm_mwwsiuxm=cpm_campaign=ssa&…

There are two kinds of pixels,

Custom Audience pixel code (put it on every page)

FB tracks what they see.

To track conversions, go to Ad Manager/Conversion Tracking.

O’Lance, edesk, you will find the people who just took the Social Media Ad Genius course and learns it and starts executing on it. Pay $500 / month to start out. Give them access to your business account they will run and test and keep up.

On the higher end, those people will start charging. Get them early in their educational learning curve. Some charge $10K a month just to test. Some will charge 20% of what you you spend. If you don’t have time, ask how they do re-marketing, can I garget someone who is just my buyer.Ask a few questions. Give them $200 in the account and see what they can do.

Test, mobile, desktop, dif groups,see which ones respond best. Try different budgets. That ishow PPC advertisers do it. THey may lose a lot of money over $5-$10 campaigns. Most fail — but limit your losses and go with your winners.

Adwords has certifications for PPC consultants. FB does not yet.

MLM – stay away from

Diet – wellness, stay away from because of privacy issues.

FB has its own news feed, not an RSS feed.

The worst signal you can send FB about an ad is tell it to never show this ad again. FB freaks out. Don’t do it if it says sponsored.

If you do a promoted post, the shorter, the better.

If you promote a post, $5/day for 5 days, you will get 500 people, not 15.

FB has rules over images: you cannot have more than 20@ of the add be text. FB loves images. So logos may need to be small. Can’t promote images that have lots of text. They love video. The more video ads, the better. Use video testimonials.

now video is cheaper than an image.

80% of people on FB are on mobile. Its cheaper to reach on FB. Soon as you share it, it will show up organically. If you boost it, and the image doesn’t meet their approval. It takes 10 mins to go through. It’s machine language.

Thanks to Karen Kreps for taking and sharing her notes from Mecer’s class.

…And a huge thank you to Chris Mercer for sharing hisFaceBook experience and knowledge with our WordPress Community… I want to remind you all  of Mercer’s last point: The purpose of advertising on FaceBook or any other social Media platform is to drive traffic to your WordPress Site. Social media platforms can come and go and change their rules and process from one breath to the next — your WordPress site is your business.