There are many perks to running your own business, and mine specifically lets me work with amazing marketers and entrepreneurs who can run their businesses from anywhere in the world. I’ve read so many books about remote working and how to set up a business that allows this. Books like The Four Hour Workweek and Vagabonding have inspired me while websites like NomadList.com keep me constantly dreaming. Even Facebook marketers are targeting me about traveling the world and working. Read more about CredoCamp – Lessons Learned Working Remotely …
I love architecture. Part of the reason why I worked in rentals/real estate for a while was so that I could look at photos of beautiful apartments and houses all day while pretending to do work. I’m kidding about the pretending to do work part (mostly).
Houses mystify and excite me. My wife and I are thinking about building a house in the next couple of years, yet we have absolutely no idea where to start. Do we find an architect first? Should we buy land now or later? What about plumbing and electricity – how do we know how to set that up if we’re not in a development? We know where we want to end up – with a beautiful mid-century modern home in a beautiful setting – but how do we get there?
Bootstrapping a business is the same way.
The Internet is littered with side projects that never received the attention they could have and thus never took off like they might have. I love side hustle post-mortems and stories of serendipitous things that happen because of them. Others have written on this topic, so now it’s my turn.
I would bet that every entrepreneur’s journey is full of these, and mine is no different. I’ve set out with big intentions to launch communities in a couple different areas I’m interested in (outdoors gear and cycling), bought a site to use as my home base as a nomadic marketing consultant (which never materialized), started writing an ebook about marketing that I never finished (but built a big email list for), and more. Each of these “failed projects” taught me something different that was valuable. In fact, I’ve come to think of each of mine as failed startups and now count them as part of my journey to finally having a business that could succeed.
Here are the lessons I learned. Read more about Why I Create Side Projects I Never Finish …
Back when I started in the digital marketing space in 2009, RSS feeds were all the rage. Before that, I started blogging around 2003/2004 and when RSS became popular it was hands down the best way to spread your content online. I remember focusing so hard on that RSS subscribers number because that was the way you built an audience and could get your content to them. Remember, this was before Twitter even existed and when Facebook was still in its very nascent stages (I still can’t believe I have been on Facebook for almost 12 years as of this year).
RSS was fantastic back in the day, but I believe that its utility has finally run out. With the death of Google Reader and the rise of social networks across the world as well as the growth of messaging apps like Slack, people now receive the content that they want to read via other channels than an automated email that’s not formatted well and feels like it doesn’t belong there.
So, as of today I’ve killed the RSS feed on this site and here’s what I’m replacing it with. Read more about Why I’m Quitting RSS …
Sometimes in life we know that something needs to change, but we keep putting it off until it becomes big enough of an issue to force our hand and cause a change. For years, I’ve been wanting to move my sites off of the disparate cheap shared hosting where they previously lived and onto WPengine for a long time.
In the last few months of 2015 I realized that my livelihood moving forward, as long as I work for myself, is all going to come through my own channels. I have become convinced over the years, after seeing slow and fast sites, of the importance of speed for websites. While it often won’t help smaller sites from an organic perspective, on very big websites with millions of pages you can see a lot of improvement in both traffic and conversions by speeding up your sites.
All of my sites are on WordPress at this point because of the easy extendability of the open source platform. I began my career online developing on the Joomla platform and still remember looking at plugins that supported SEO friendly (SEF is what they called them) URLs. While Joomla worked fine for what I needed at the time, WordPress has moved ahead of them leaps and bounds so basically all my websites have been exclusively WordPress since 2011. I tried building out a few sites with other providers (SquareSpace, Shopify, etc) but they didn’t really suit my needs as someone with a web developer background who wants the freedom to extend things as I wish.
These are the reasons I switched. Some of them affect SEO, some of them don’t. All of them could help you build your business. Read more about Why I Switched My WordPress Hosting to WPengine …
I’m sick of SEO packages. You know the kind, where you get an email asking you to send them a proposal for what you would do for their company and what your packages and pricing are. I’m tired of companies that offer things like “10 blog posts for $150.”
This is old school small scale thinking. If you want 10 blog posts for $150 and your hourly rate is $30 per hour, write a blog post every 30 minutes for 5 hours. I bet the quality will be a lot higher than paying someone random to do it for you. Marketing “packages” don’t work. Marketing that works isn’t a product that is plug and play for every business. Depending on your business and who your customers are, and your current stage of company, different channels are going to work better or worse for you to actually get you results.
I’ll give a lot of businesses asking for packages the benefit of the doubt because they don’t know what else to call them, but the language underlying it signals to me that they view marketing consulting as transactional – I give you this and I get that. I’m sorry, but that’s not how marketing works. That’s not even how business works! If business were that easy, everyone would run their own business.
Update: thanks for all the amazing reactions to this post! I have loved reading all of your emails/tweets/direct messages and hearing so many stories about people who have been laid off and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If you want to check out my company Credo, it’s right here.
I got laid off in September of this past year, somewhat unexpectedly. Things had been rough for a while as I moved to a new team internally after an acquisition and we tried to figure out how we supported my new role. Right after I moved over to the new team the GM in charge of that team left, which at the time felt like an omen and I came to realize later it was. When you lose the person who advocated to bring you to a new position, who has the vision for how that role will look, you’re going to be in for some hard challenges that you might not be able to win.
Today I want to talk about exactly the steps I have taken over the last few months that have led me to double my salary short term, which is how I am currently financing my software marketplace which is also growing substantially month over month. Read more about How Getting Laid Off Led Me To Double My Salary and Follow My Entrepreneurial Dream …
Consulting or running an agency is an interesting business. On the one hand, an agency can be a cash cow because your margins can be really high if you keep headcount low. On the other hand, many consultants and agencies struggle to make ends meet and do great work for their clients.
From my years in marketing and consulting, and now running my own business in the space as well as doing some consulting myself, I’ve realized that many consulting problems can be solved by one of two things (and usually both at the same time to make the magic happen):
- Charge more per hour or per month to increase your margins.
- Create better processes to save time and increase your margins.
Consulting is no different from other businesses in that when you increase your margins, many of your business stresses go away. Let’s talk about the two of these. Read more about How To Solve Most Consulting Agency Problems …
I’ve been working on the Internet for what feels like a long time now – 6 years. In that time, I have worked inhouse for 4 different brands and consulted with more than I can reliably count. That number is probably in the 35-50ish range.
Over time, as I have gained more business experience and expanded my skillset outside of just SEO or even digital marketing, and am now running HireGun both as a consultant and a software solopreneur, I have increasingly become convinced of one thing:
Those who win are those who do
Many companies will say that they get things done. But the truth comes out when the rubber hits the road. When I worked at Distilled, we always prided ourselves on working with our clients to help them get things done. After all, if we were going to be successful as consultants, our clients had to see a return on their investment. If they moved slow, then it would take a long time for them to see that positive return and at that point it was up to the consultant to keep the client happy (and still a client!).
Here are some of the traits I have seen of successful companies and individuals. Read more about Want To Be Successful? Become A Doer …
Today I launched HireGun to the world via Medium and Product Hunt. It has been quite the road to get to this point, most of which I wrote about over on Medium, so I recommend you go there to read the full story. I’m excited to have it out to the world. I am excited […]
In early 2012, I was tired. I had been pushing 80+ hour weeks at work for a while. I found myself unable to be civil to clients or my coworkers. My boss at the time asked me “John, do you need a vacation?”
I did. I took 5 days (a “long weekend”) and went to Colorado with one of my good buddies to go to MountainFilm in Telluride. For those five days, I removed my email clients, Twitter, and Facebook from my phone. Instead, I watched interesting movies about outdoors issues I care about, met some intriguing people, drank awesome beer at the Telluride brewery, and spent time in the mountains hiking and rock climbing. Read more about Why I Unplug On Vacation Every Year …
The other day I saw Rand Fishkin’s tweet linking to this article that shows that, as Rand says, “evergreen content that ranks beats everything else:”. I am, of course, inclined to agree and because I can’t keep my mouth shut on topics like this I tweeted this: @randfish HotPads got Lifehacker coverage in 2011 that […]
I’ve worked with a lot of companies helping out with marketing and growth over the last years. I’ve seen some do it very well. I’ve seen others fail to resource it and therefore they’ve failed to execute.
Here is what executives can do to empower growth teams to do just that – grow the company. Read more about What I Would Tell All Executives About Growth …
Recently Paul Graham, a VC and entrepreneur whom I very much respect, wrote a post called Change Your Name in which he argued that a startup should seriously think about changing their name if they are not able to get the “.com” TLD for their brand name. Graham also stated some statistics that are meant to make us think that his position is mostly irrefutable. He said:
100% of the top 20 YC companies by valuation have the .com of their name. 94% of the top 50 do. But only 66% of companies in the current batch have the .com of their name. Which suggests there are lessons ahead for most of the rest, one way or another.
I’d argue that having the .com domain is not the most important thing (and I don’t think that’s what Graham was saying). What’s more important, in my opinion, is consistency. In fact, I’d even argue that not having the .com is missing the forest for the trees. Let’s dig in. Read more about Does A Startup Really Need The .Com Of Their Brand Name? …
I recently read this post entitled The Curse of the Full Stack Marketer. I tweeted a few brief thoughts (a brief rant really) around this post, but now I think it needs a longer treatment. I also realize that there have been a few posts written as follow-ons but I’ve purposefully not read them so as to make this my own thoughts.
I think that there are a few elements at play that make this an interesting and tough topic (especially as someone who feels the tension very personally). Those include:
- The rockstar problem
- The meritocracy problem
- The individual vs manager dilemma
- The small vs big company challenges and differences
Let’s unpack each.
Read more about The Full Stack Marketer’s Valley Of Sorrow …