Member Spotlight: Lilly Garcia, Wild Olive Branding

 

Welcome to our One Woman Shop Member Spotlight series, where we highlight what’s going on in the businesses and lives of One Woman Shop members. Interested in joining this ambitious group of go-getters? Apply today!

Today’s Spotlight is on Lilly Garcia, brand strategist and owner of Wild Olive Branding.

Tell us about yourself and your business – what do you do + who do you serve?

I’m a brand strategist and designer who helps heart-centered, conscious business owners get clear about their brand and communicate it visually so they can take bold steps toward their goals.

I believe that brand graphics should be more than just pretty, and so I deep-dive with each of my clients to figure out what makes their business tick and find ways to translate those abstract concepts into visuals that actually work.

Are there any things commonly accepted as truths in the business world that you flat out
disagree with?

Oh, man! Where to start?

I think the biggest myth I disagree with is that we all have to chase the same definition of success. The 6-figure launch and expensive bag + stilettos and fancy home aren’t what success looks like for everyone. And that’s okay.

You have permission to create your own version of success! No matter what anyone says.

What’s one thing people might not know just from reading your website and following you on social media?

That I’ve struggled for most of my life with being the weird kid and feeling misunderstood. I suppressed the parts of myself that I thought would offend or be misunderstood for a long time, and I’m just now starting to uncover that part of myself again.

I’ve been working on refining my own definition of success and including a more whole version of myself in that picture.

How has running a business changed you?

It has made me braver about so many things! About communicating openly — with clients, with colleagues, with collaborators. I’ve learned to ask for what I want and need in business, and that has seeped over into every other area of my life.

And I’ve gotten braver about owning my own stuff — my version of success, my values, my background, my priorities. I feel like I’ve learned so much more about who I am and how to be fearless about it.

What’s your one piece of advice for new solo business owners?

To get clear on what they’re about and what they want. To invest time finding their brand so that they can build their business intentionally.

There is so much advice out there — not to mention the endless tools and marketing options and systems. It can easily become overwhelming. But if you start from a place of clarity, the path is smoother and everything is just easier.

Give us a shameless plug for your latest project/product/freebie!

I recently launched the Brand Clarity Quiz to help new and seasoned business owners figure out how well they know their brand. It can help you see how much clarity you have right now and what your next step should be!

That’s a wrap on this Member Spotlight — thanks, Lilly, for sharing so much insight!

solopreneur membership

Member Spotlight: Lauren Pawell, Bixa Media

Welcome to our One Woman Shop Member Spotlight series, where we highlight what’s going on in the businesses and lives of One Woman Shop members. Interested in joining this ambitious group of go-getters? Apply today!

Today’s Spotlight is on Lauren Pawell, marketing strategist + owner of Bixa Media, where she helps entrepreneurs and businesses perform better digitally.

Tell us about yourself and your business – what do you do + who do you serve?

My name is Lauren Pawell, and I’m the founder and owner of Bixa Media, a digital marketing agency focused on helping entrepreneurs generate (and nurture) more leads through their websites.

Are there any things commonly accepted as truths in the business world that you flat out disagree with?

Quite frankly, I’m not sure that any “truths” are universal!

That being said, I don’t believe there is one perfect online channel or one perfect tool for every business. Be wary of someone who says “This is THE tool (or channel) that everyone should be using.” All businesses have different needs; the perfect solution for one business will be very different than the perfect solution for another.

What’s one thing people might not know just from reading your website and following you on social media?

My fiance is a pilot and the current nature of his job means we have a few moves in our future. We recently relocated (temporarily) to Denver and will likely be relocating a couple more times over the next five years. From a business standpoint, this means you’ve got to have services + products that move with you. Fortunately, I’ve got that covered.

Being my own boss makes our uncertain future significantly more certain…at least from an income standpoint and the fact that I don’t have to keep finding new jobs frequently. I can’t imagine telling a future employer that I didn’t know how long I could stick around. Talk about unemployable!

What’s your favorite social media platform and why?

While most may not consider this a social media platform, I love email. It’s the ultimate 1:1 form of communication and allows you to forge a deep and personal relationship with your audience members that just isn’t always possible on the various 1:many platforms.

If you could do just one piece of your business forever, what would it be?

I LOVE writing marketing emails. Coming up with compelling copy, seeing instant feedback from your audience…I find it very addicting. So much so, it’s one of my favorite things to teach other entrepreneurs how to do! Most think writing emails is difficult; I promise it’s much easier than you think it is.

If you had to describe yourself or your business in one word, what would it be?

Freedom.

Running my own business has given me a freedom that would not be possible otherwise.

I’ve been able to take significant time off to care for a sick family member, helped another family member create their own online business, been able to support my fiance’s career change, and travel the world….all while running Bixa Media.

More importantly, I’ve been able to help clients find their own entrepreneurial freedom. I believe that anyone who is willing to go out on their own and overcome all obstacles in order to do so deserves to take back their freedom, too.

What does community mean to you?

A like-minded group of people. In One Woman Shop’s case, it means women who are brave enough, and crazy enough, to go out on their own and pursue their version of entrepreneurial freedom.

What is the #1 lesson you’ve learned since being in business on your own?

Experiment and iterate.

When you’re creating something out of nothing, you have to get creative and experiment with things you’ve never done before.

And of course, not everything is a success right off the bat. But, with continued iteration and improvement, you can often turn so-so efforts into home runs.

What’s your one piece of advice for new solo business owners?

Want to go farther, faster? Hire help who’s accomplished what you want to, so you don’t waste time doing the “trial by fire” method.

Whether you want to implement Facebook Ads, build a lead-generating webinar funnel, require new contracts, or need to learn how to do bookkeeping…there are experts out there who can help you with all of that. And most of the time, they can teach you how to do it yourself, should you not want to outsource the process completely.

This approach will save you a ton of time and money long term, even if it requires some upfront investment.

How has running a business changed you?

Unlike my non-entrepreneurial friends, uncertainty no longer scares me. In fact, I’d say it fuels me! I like the challenge of creating something out of nothing…over and over and over again.

Give us a shameless plug for your latest project/product/freebie!

I’m currently teaching my audience how to build a site and create an audience from scratch, in a year-long, free experiment called the Transparent Marketing Project.

It’s a lot of fun (and also happens in my limited spare time), so it’s hyper-focused on marketing strategies that produce results.

Plus, you get to see when I try things that don’t work very well. If you’re new to the online marketing world, I highly recommend checking it out. I give away a ton of awesome freebies (think email scripts, website blueprints, etc.)

That’s a wrap on this Member Spotlight — thanks, Lauren, for sharing so much insight!

solopreneur membership

Business Myth: You Need a Client Avatar

client avatar

client avatar

Welcome to Business Myths. Here’s the deal: We often hear business “truths” and accept them as true without stopping to question them. We’re chatting with solopreneurs and freelancers who have learned the hard way that these commonly accepted facts may not, in fact, always be true. In this case, Rachel Allen shares her (expert) take on why your client avatar is useless, and what you need to know to really resonate with your readers, instead.

Every industry has its must-have tools. And while those change pretty frequently in the fast-paced, online, small business world — “Webinars are the future! No, Periscope! No, Facebook Live!” — one that’s held steady since the beginning is the client avatar.

You know how it works: You sit down, sketch a stick figure, and write out whether they’re a cat person or a dog person, what they like to do on the weekends, and of course, what their favorite breakfast cereal is.

Just one problem…

When it comes down to it, you still have no idea what to say or how to sell to this person. Funny enough, knowing someone’s cereal preferences doesn’t help you communicate with them in a way that really resonates. Because, just like you, your business, and your brand, your clients are complicated. Multi-layered. And very, very human.

The truth is, most client avatars are absolutely useless.

They’re intended to give you a clear idea of who you’re working for, but they almost always give you a sanitized, surface-level, pod-person version of your audience. And you’re not working with pod people, you’re working with people people, those contradictory, irrational, gloriously-difficult-to-pin-down beings.

It was never about the breakfast cereal.

Client avatar exercises ask you questions about the surface level things in a person’s life as a way of getting at the deeper things about them. But somewhere along the way, the search for that soul-level stuff became conflated with the surface-level stuff — and we started thinking that knowing whether someone owns a cat or a dog can somehow give you insight into what they want, when very often people don’t even really consciously know it themselves.

Why client avatars don’t work

When you do a classic client avatar exercise, you’re primarily focusing on demographics — those quantifiable, external things about a person. But when people fall in love with branding, become a fan of your business, or make a decision to buy, they’re doing that from a place of identity, not logic, and certainly not demographic indicators.

…and that’s why you need psychographics

If you really want to get someone’s attention, develop a relationship with them, and make them want to buy from you, you need to approach them in a way that confirms their perception of their identity. (Which is such a powerful force that people will actually act against their self-interests rather than do something that goes against their identity. Homo economicus, you’re out.)

And to tap into a person’s identity, you need to get a sense of their psychographics — their beliefs, feelings, and assumptions, and why they have them.

Sounds great! So how do I figure all that stuff out?

It’s not as easy as going through a checklist, and there’s no foolproof, six-step template for it (see: “not pod people”).

But that doesn’t mean that you have to fly blind, trying out thing after thing until you finally hit on that magic combination of words and ideas that light your people up…because they’ll tell you, if you know how to listen.

Start with some empirical research

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in trying to figure your target market out is doing it in a vacuum — this guarantees that whatever you come up with is going to be biased towards your own perceptions. Instead of working from the inside out, starting with your own guesses about your clients and learning the hard way whether they’re right or not, start with some objectively verifiable data.

Find out where your people hang out, both online and offline, go there, and <em<listen

And by this, I mean where they actually spend their time. Not relatively general Facebook groups, not generic Twitter chats. Find places that are going to be incredibly specific to them because of their industry, their problems, or where their clients hang out — because chances are, you’ll find them there too, pitching.

Once you’re there, don’t fish for business, or post things like “Hey XYZ-type people, I’m doing some research on my client avatar, what are your problems?” Just listen to what’s being said both explicitly and implicitly, and track any topics you see coming up again and again. This is not a one afternoon thing — you want to do this for at least two weeks to gather enough data.

Once you have an idea of the lay of the land, analyze your repeat topics through three questions:

1. What is this really about?

Try to get below the surface and figure out what this topic is really about for your people. For instance, if you’re constantly seeing people post about wanting a VA, is it because they feel overwhelmed, or because all their business friends are getting one, or because they think they need a VA, when really they need an accountant? What’s the bottom line of both the reality and the belief behind this issue?

Knowing this will help you figure out the language you need to use to share your message and services with them, and makes a great starting point for an about page.

2. Where does it come from?

What beliefs, assumptions, and needs underlie these issues? Are they actually true? If so, where do those needs overlap with your message and your services?

This gives you insight into their beliefs, the chance to debunk false assumptions (and show off your expertise), and guidance on how to tap into your clients’ aspirations.

3. What are the stakes?

What happens to your people if they solve this issue? What happens if they don’t? What do their life and business look like next month if this issue persists? What about next year? And how do you fit into that equation?

Knowing this not only helps you focus on the things your people really need help with, it also gives you a starting point for talking about these issues in sales copy.

It all comes down to this

Genuinely effective business communication is a balancing act between your message and how your audience needs to hear it. To figure that out, you need to know your people inside and out.

It takes time. It’s not a simple process I can upsell you in a 45-minute webinar. But it’s worth it. Because ultimately, you don’t need a client avatar. You need a human-to-human relationship — and there’s just no way to get that from a stick-figure sketch.

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part IV)

freelance WordPress developer

freelance WordPress developer

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

This experiment in web design + business building is currently being embarked upon by OWS community member Ashley Rustad, who is on her second Skillcrush Blueprint and is kindly documenting the process for us here! Take it away, Ashley.


(Editor’s note: In Part I of this series, Ashley broke down how a Skillcrush Blueprint works for us as she was completing the Web Designer Blueprint. In Part II, she introduced us to the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint, which she took us deeper into as she learned the WordPress Professional Best Practices in Part III. Below is Part IV, the final step in her current Blueprint!)

We’re at the last month of the Skillcrush WordPress Developer Blueprint and man, is it jam packed with lots of info. This last class in the three-part Blueprint walks through how to find, land and manage a client.

What is Skillcrush 303?

The final session of the Skillcrush Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint is three weeks long. It starts with scheduling a 1-on-1, 20-minute consultation via Google Hangout with a Skillcrush Career Counselor. The consultations are to answer any career, coding, or client questions. Tip: Being prepared with questions for the counselor is a great way to make the most of your time with them.

The rest of Skillcrush 303: WordPress Apprenticeship (now called Industry Crash Course) is made up of three weeks:

  • Week 1: Finding a client
  • Week 2: Landing a client
  • Week 3: Managing a client

Each week includes webinars, downloadable slides, and templates that help to guide you through the different aspects of getting clients. The lessons are broken up into support, work, learn, and earn sections. Here’s more about each one:

Week 1: Finding a client

Support section: This module is all about the 1-on-1 consultation with a career counselor. When I had my consultation, all my questions about working as a freelance web designer were answered and I was able to feel more reassured about going into this line of work.

Work section: Included two webinars — Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Scoping a WordPress Project. Overcoming Imposter Syndrome is about how to gain confidence in your abilities and not being afraid to call yourself a WordPress developer. It can be really hard in the beginning because your skills are so new. Scoping a WordPress Project is about estimating all that is involved in creating a WordPress website.The instructor’s’ slides were given to us to take notes with and refer back to, which was helpful.

Learn section: Made up of the Responsive WordPress Workshop. This workshop came with slides as well. I do feel the responsive workshop could have been expanded on with more lessons in a different area of the WordPress Developer Blueprint. I don’t think one 45-minute workshop on responsive WordPress design is enough.

Earn section: AKA “The Fast Track Formula” — A breakdown of how to reach out to your inner circle, with a guide of great examples for emails and social media posts to help you in the beginning. If you’ve gone down the route of taking the whole blueprint and not just one or two classes; you’ll know this fast track formula was already taught in Skillcrush 203.

Week 2: Landing a client

Support section: It’s all about portfolio hours. You can join a Google Hangout with your instructor and other students to talk about what you plan on putting in your portfolio, how you’ll set it up and who your potential target clients are. You’ll be able to talk about your work and get feedback from your instructor and your fellow students. It’s really informative and helpful in getting other people’s opinion about your work and how you’ll go about it.

Work section: The webinar topic here was Building a Healthy Client Relationship. The workshop walks you through your first client meeting from prep to the meeting and after the meeting.

Learn section: There were two webinars here. The first is Ecommerce Solutions. The webinar goes over three common solutions for selling products with WordPress — offsite, onsite, and the five-minute solution.

The second webinar is the Proposal Writing Workshop. Once you’ve found your first potential client, you’ll need to write a proposal. The webinar goes over everything you need to know about the proposal from why you should be writing them to what needs to be included. The templates provided here are invaluable.

Earn section: Continuing from last week, they focus on the next step in The Fast Track Formula: reaching out to your outer circle. There are templates for doing this, building on the work done last week.

Week 3: Managing the client relationship

Support section: Reminds you to sign up with your career counselor, about the grad party and the ongoing Slack alumni group.

Work section: Includes one webinar called Getting Paid for Freelance Work. This webinar covers it all: prepping estimates to dealing with money and sending contracts and invoices to time tracking.

Learn section: Covers three case studies of businesses built with WordPress. Freelancing isn’t easy, but these quick case studies gave us a glimpse at how three different women are using WordPress in their business.

Earn section: Goes through the last step in The Fast Track Formula, which is about expanding your reach. It teaches different ways to reach out to strangers and tell them about your freelance business.

My overall takeaways

The Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint is packed with lots of great information. This Blueprint really lays the foundation for your freelance WordPress developer career because it’s all about how to get clients. The only limitation is that the information comes almost completely in the form of webinars. If you don’t learn well from lecture format, this really won’t work for you.

The biggest problem I had with this portion of the Blueprint is that all but two webinars (Responsive WordPress and eCommerce Solutions) had previously been in the “Career Path” section of Skillcrush. While they certainly fit here, I do wish they were re-filmed with updated material. What sets this run-through apart from the “Career Path” section is the one-on-one consultation, case studies and a portfolio review. The “Career Path” section has even more webinars and downloads geared toward getting a job with a company, not freelancing.

Who Skillcrush 303 Is For?

Anyone wanting to freelance. It takes you through all the steps of preparing you to become a freelance WordPress developer, minus the coding (which was covered in the first two classes of the Blueprint).

All the skills in the world won’t get you anywhere if you can’t land clients, which is that makes this class crucial.

Who isn’t Skillcrush 303 for?

This isn’t for anyone that already knows how to find and manage clients. If you’re moving careers and have already dealt with finding and managing clients in a different creative field, I think those skills would transfer. If you’ve taken previous Skillcrush classes, you can get 75% of this class’ webinars in the “Career Path” section.

Are you interested in taking a Skillcrush class?

If you’re interested learning more about Skillcrush, you can dip your toes in with their free, 10-day bootcamp. If you want to take this class alone it costs $175, but I highly recommend looking into the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint, which includes three classes and keeps you on a track that provides context for everything you’re learning for $149/month. To find out when the next enrollment session is, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

What questions do you have about Skillcrush and/or tech skills, in general? Leave ’em in the comments below!

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Skillcrush Blueprints. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from — and Skillcrush is among the best of the best!

So You Wanna Be A…Web Designer/Developer

So You Wanna Be A Web Designer or Developer via One Woman Shop

SoYouWannaBeA_WebDesignerDeveloper -- blog

You’re ready to start your solo business — you’re craving the freedom, the versatility, and the chance to put your passion into play — but you’re not quite sure where to start. You’ve come to the right place. In our So You Wanna Be a… series, we highlight entrepreneurs who’ve built successful businesses doing what they love.

This month, we’re chatting with four web designers + developers — Sarah Eggers, Aleia Walker, Alison Monday of tiny blue orange, and Melanie Karlik of A Prettier Web — to get their inside advice on how they got their web design + development careers started.

(Editor’s note: The terms designer + developer are sometimes used interchangeably. The women interviewed here each have their own specialties, which you’ll notice in their responses. For a breakdown of the differences between designers and developers, check out this post.)

So you wanna be a web designer/developer? Here’s what you need to know…

Tell us exactly what a person in your role does.

Sarah: A freelance web designer helps people accomplish amazing things. No really, we do! There are thousands of people out there with life-changing ideas, but they stop and give up when they shudder at the idea of creating a website. Web designers are here to eliminate that website-building barrier and help people use their saved time to focus on their strengths.

Aleia: I am a freelance Web Developer who focuses on Front End Development. As a Front End Developer, I build the parts of the website that you can see. I also have a design background so I frequently handle projects from design to development. That includes figuring out how a site can have maximum impact for the client.

Alison: I’m a WordPress developer, so that means I create custom themes for WordPress based on designs that my clients have from working with a designer. I also input site content (blog posts, pages, etc.), run site updates, and do on-going maintenance/tweaks. Long story short, I spend all day being super nerdy with code + servers.

Mel: I help women tackle WordPress! I spend about 70% of my time with content creation — I test out plugins, write blog posts, create videos, create visuals collateral, PDFs — anything to share information that I think will be helpful for bloggers and online business owners. I have two WordPress themes that I sell right now.

How did you get your start? What are other ways someone else can get started?

Sarah: I got my start back in 2014 when I enrolled in a Skillcrush Blueprint for web design. I took the leap and paid for my first ever course, and I was totally blown away just a week in. It was super easy to learn, and my classmates and instructors were amazing. I highly recommend to someone starting out to take a high-level, paid course like Skillcrush. Before then, I just played around with free courses and never really learned much before my interest faded.

Aleia: I got started by taking a Web Designer course with Skillcrush. It was an intro course that catapulted my love for all things design and development. I definitely suggest taking a structured course to get your feet wet and determine if development is your path and what part of development you like.

Alison: I started out as a designer but loved bringing my own designs to life by coding them. All of my designer friends thought I was crazy because they hated coding + felt completely limited by it. The more I started helping them, the more I realized that I was happiest coding themes that others had designed.

Mel: I was working as a software programmer when I started my first WordPress blog, back around 2002! I really wanted to learn how to “tweak” the look and feel of my site so I taught myself HTML & CSS with whatever resources I could find online. Then, I took a part-time degree in Graphic Design from a local college. I’d spend some money and invest in a good course.

Is there a certain kind of person that would thrive in your role?

Sarah: You’ll thrive if you 1) love to create things and can get in the flow and 2) can communicate well with people. I know a lot of web designers who love to create and get in the flow but have a hellish time communicating. You can be the best web designer in the world, but if you can’t make your client happy and translate their words into design, then you’re actually the worst web designer.

Aleia: A person who loves learning would do very well as a developer. There are always new technologies and tools. The learning never stops.

Alison: You certainly need a little bit of love for the nerdy things in life. I spend a good chunk of my day working with HTML, CSS, PHP + JavaScript/jQuery. I also work on server settings for clients because they don’t want to touch their hosting account with a 10-foot pole. It helps to understand a bit about design so that you can communicate with the designer and understand why they did some of the things they did.

Mel: People who are creative would thrive doing design work. As for the tech side, I think it requires some persistence, resourcefulness and enthusiasm. It’s easy to tell right away if tech is going to frustrate you or motivate you.

What do people need before they can get started in your industry?

Alison: If you have a way to write code, technically you can get started. I don’t think it’s necessarily required, but I’m happy as heck that I have business insurance, a legal business entity + a lawyer that I can send questions to. I’d suggest making sure you have a solid agreement/contract template to protect both you + your clients. Aside from that, you’ll typically need Adobe CC or Photoshop as most designers work in that.

Mel: Making WordPress websites doesn’t require any special degree. There is ample resources available for you online. Then, start doing it! Make some websites and build up a portfolio of great work. If you’re interested in creating apps, plugins or any kind of programming beyond HTML, CSS and Javascript then a degree could be of benefit. Again, you can learn a lot from online courses but if you are looking to work for a Google, Amazon or Uber then they often ask for a degree.

How do you currently seek out clients or customers? What are some ways you’ve considered seeking out clients or customers that you haven’t tried yet?

Sarah: The traditional way to attract clients is to seek them out on job boards, whether through Upwork, Craigslist, or other markets. The non-traditional way to attract clients is to join Twitter chats and Facebook groups of your target audience. Someone in a group is going to be asking for web design advice and you can swoop in to save the day—and impress the rest of the group!

Aleia: I currently use word of mouth, but I’d like to step it up and make more effort in marketing my services. I am looking into building an email list and ramping up my blog game by providing useful content to prospective customers.

Alison: Because of how long I’ve been doing this, most of my customers come via word of mouth or by clicking my site credit link at the bottom of a site I built. In the past, I’ve done a lot of sharing/helping in Facebook groups. I also reached out to mentors who in turn would send work my way that was a good fit for me but maybe too low of a budget or not complex enough for them.

Mel: Everyone that has purchased my themes has either found me through my website, social media or on Creative Market.

How do you normally work with clients or customers?

Sarah: I work with clients 1-on-1 in-person or through video chats. I strongly believe in spending important decision-making time face-to-face. What a client says to you in-person vs what they may say they want their website to do in an email can sometimes be two different things.

Aleia: I generally start and end client engagements with 1-on-1, in-person contact when available, especially when working with non-tech clients (i.e. small business owners). During the project, all of the communication is online — Google Hangouts and emails galore. When our lines get crossed, I will hop on an impromptu phone call or Hangout to get us back on track.

Alison: I typically work with clients online in a 1-on-1 or small group setting. There are times where I work directly with the designer and don’t interact with the client much at all, but I’m happiest when the designer, final client, and I are a small team. That way questions are directed to the right person.

How did you decide how to set your pricing when you were starting out?

Sarah: Pricing is a mystery to early career freelance web designers. We sort of shake the eight ball of arbitrary pricing. After a while, we then start to research the market and get a better understanding of our work quality, how price affects what type of clients we get, how it all fits into our finances, and the going rate in our area.

Aleia: I played around a lot. I didn’t want to under or overcharge and ended up doing a lot of free jobs before I eventually started charging. While learning I preferred to charge flat fees instead of hourly rates to take into consideration the time that I would spend looking things up that a more seasoned developer would already have a grip on.

Alison: I used the AIGA survey on industry pricing based on my area to set my base hourly rate. As I did more and more projects, I tracked my time and figured out approximately how many hours I spent on each site build. From there, I created a flat fee so that I benefit from being faster and clients know exactly what to expect on their invoice.

What is an industry-specific tool that you couldn’t live without?

Sarah: Inspect element. (Click that link to get a preview lesson from my course that describes how to use it.) Looking at what’s behind the website and making live changes is amazing.

Aleia: Git [a version control system] & GitHub [online project hosting]. I love being able to keep track of and share my code without needing to keep hundreds of versions of a project on my desktop.

Alison: I know everyone has a preference, but I can’t imagine coding outside of espresso. It’s my absolute favorite software for writing code.

Mel: Photoshop, Sublime Text [a text editor] and WordPress (of course).

What are some great resources for people looking to learn more about your industry?

Aleia: Twitter is a great catch-all for information, especially if you follow the right accounts. It’s an awesome place to learn of new tools, tips, and products. There are also a few great resources to stay current on all things development: A List Apart and its counterpart A Book Apart, Webdesigner Depot, and of course the Skillcrush blog!

Alison: Codecademy is a great website for learning code. I got my most “hands-on” learning by taking existing WordPress themes (especially the ones made by WP) and making changes to them. Create your own child theme (‘cause that’s a great first lesson too!) and then start changing things. You can learn a lot by breaking and changing something that’s already built. I also love Codrops for tutorials, CSS-Tricks for ways to rock CSS, and Google for searching for specific tutorials + problems.

Mel: Look for courses from Codecademy, Udemy, and Treehouse.

What is something that someone getting started in your type of business would be surprised to hear?

Sarah: The #1 thing brand new freelancers are surprised to hear is that their pricing dictates the kind of clients they receive. If you have cheap pricing, then you’re more likely to have someone who tries to barter with you, or give you major scope creep. If you have high quality work and high prices, you’ll mostly get people who are extremely appreciative of your time.

Alison: I’m still surprised by the fact that simply replying to emails sets me lightyears apart from others in this industry. “My developer fell off the face of the earth” is something I hear every single week, without fail. Life/things happen, but to me it’s about being respectful to those that are paying you.

Mel: You don’t need a degree to make websites – you can learn it all online!

This post contains affiliate links for resources mentioned by those we interviewed. Anything you purchase may net us a bit of money, which helps us further our mission of supporting One Woman Shops across the world. Thank you!

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part III)

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part III)

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part III)

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

This experiment in web design + business building is currently being embarked upon by OWS community member Ashley Rustad, who is on her second Skillcrush Blueprint and is kindly documenting the process for us here! Take it away, Ashley.


(Editor’s note: In Part I of this series, Ashley broke down how a Skillcrush Blueprint works for us as she was completing the Web Designer Blueprint. In Part II, she introduced us to her current Blueprint, the Freelancer WordPress Developer Blueprint. Below is Part III, where we continue to follow her journey!)

To say the second month of Skillcrush’s Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint was packed with new learning and immense progress would be a crazy understatement. It was during the second phase of the Blueprint that I learned all about the WordPress Professional Best Practices: GitHub, command line, child themes, professional workflow, and advanced themes customizations. (Sound like gibberish? This might be the perfect course for you…)

It was definitely a big month of learning. This class has been harder for me than the past classes I’ve taken; I’m still practicing what I’ve learned, and will be for a while. But that’s not to scare you off — let’s jump right into what you can learn in Skillcrush 203 of the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint so you know if it’s right for you.

My major takeaways from Skillcrush 203: WordPress Professional Best Practices

Takeaway #1: Community is key

Skillcrush 203 kicks off with a five-day crash course on Git, GitHub and command line. In all honesty, this section was definitely the hardest for me to learn, but one of the great things about Skillcrush is that they have Mightybell message boards to post on. The community there allows you to learn from others who are going through the same coursework. The collaborative spirit that they promote is great.

Takeaway #2: WordPress customization is endless

Following Git, GitHub, and command line, we really dug into WordPress child themes — which is how you’re able to turn WordPress into an awesome CMS. We learned how to create custom post types, custom fields, and custom archives, and played around with 404 (error) pages, custom about pages, and contact forms. In simple terms, you learn a lot about changing WordPress into exactly what you want it be.

You also learn a professional workflow for setting up/deploying WordPress sites for clients (or yourself). It’s been really fun learning how to deploy a site the correct and professional way.

Takeaway #3: You get “hands-on experience” with a fictitious client

While learning all of this, you work with a fictitious client to get her site re-designed. Instead of getting your typical email from your Skillcrush instructor, you get an email from “your” client. It’s been fun learning this way, and it’s great practice for working with clients in the future. It was definitely different getting emails from the “client,” but I looked forward to the changes. Truth: I’m not sure I’ll always feel that way when working with actual clients.

Takeaway #4: Skillcrush remains career focused

Like every class I’ve taken so far, Skillcrush 203 includes career content sections. In this class, we focused on how to package and price freelance work, find and land clients, and the fast track way to get clients now. The career content sections come in the form of webinars, which are about an hour long each. The ones I have watched so far are super informative.

Who Skillcrush 203 is for

Skillcrush 203 is for the person that wants to take their knowledge of WordPress to the next level to customize their WordPress site, and work with others to build unique sites. Also — if Git, GitHub, command line, mobile optimization, and professional deployment are terms that aren’t familiar to you, this class might just be the perfect fit.

Who Skillcrush 203 isn’t for

If you’re not interested in learning the next level of WordPress or you’re already a pro at customization, this class might not be for you. Additionally, if you’re not interested in working with clients or other developers on WordPress sites, you may not need all of the material taught here.

Are you interested in taking your knowledge of WordPress to the next level?

I’ve learned so much in this Blueprint so far, and while there’s still more to learn, I’m already feeling empowered to truly customize my own site and start working with clients.

If you’re interested in learning more about Skillcrush, check here for more information. You can take the WordPress Professional Best Practices alone, but I highly recommend looking into the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint, which includes three classes and keeps you on a track that provides context for everything you’re learning. To find out when the next enrollment session is scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Next up for me is Skillcrush 303: WordPress Apprenticeship. I will be learning all about finding, landing and working with a client. Check back here soon for my recap!

What questions do you have about Skillcrush and/or tech skills, in general? Leave ’em in the comments below!

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Skillcrush Blueprints. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from — and Skillcrush is among the best of the best!

The Hot Seat: Sales Funnels + More with Stacey Herbert

One Woman Shop's The Hot Seat

In this episode of The Hot Seat, Cristina + Sara chat with Stacey Herbert, sales funnel expert and creator of Brazen Profit Lab. In our 45-minute chat, we learn why Stacey wrapped her laptop up in a sarong to overhaul her life from London to Berlin, hear her take on sales funnels + why they’re crucial to growing a biz, dig into what makes up a client experience, and learn why “selling isn’t a dirty word.”

Resources mentioned:

Show notes:

  • Why selling isn’t a dirty word
  • The importance of market research
  • The value of trust online
  • Anticipating your customer’s potential objections
  • How content created now reaps dividends down the road

PS: Want to see all past episodes of The Hot Seat? Subscribe to One Woman Shop on YouTube.

Questions For An… Accountant

Questions For An Accountant

Questions For An... Accountant

One Woman Shops can’t always do it all. But when it’s time to turn to an outside pro — and be certain we’re choosing the right one — we’re often at a loss as to what to ask to get the info we need. Welcome to Questions For A… a series where we interview the pros themselves on the questions you need to ask before hiring them.

In this month’s edition, we bring you Questions for an….Accountant with contributions from accountants Amy Northard, Taisha Stewart of Saidia Financial, Catherine Derus of Brightwater Financial, and Erin Johnstone of Vivid Numbers. Here’s what they suggest you ask, and why:

Q: What services do you offer? What services are included in my package?

Amy’s why: Just like specializing in different industries, accountants can specialize in different financial services. Make sure your needs (tax planning, budgeting, etc.) align with what they can offer.

Tai’s why: Clearly define the scope of services you need or won’t need because you don’t want to be charged for a service you don’t need, nor do you want to be unaware of what’s included in your accountant’s quote. Some accountants provide tax preparation as well as monthly bookkeeping services. Some process payroll (which can include 1099s). Some accountants provide quarterly review meetings with the client, while others only talk to their clients once or twice a year. You want to make sure that there are no surprise charges down the road. Know what to expect from your accountant and when to expect it.

Catherine’s why: An accountant may provide any combination of the following services: tax preparation and planning, business formation, bookkeeping, payroll processing, financial and retirement planning, cash flow and budgeting analysis, and more. If the accountant you plan on hiring doesn’t provide a service you need, ask if they have recommendations.

Q: Do you have experience in my industry?

Catherine’s why: Different industries come with their own unique accounting and tax issues. Accounting for a food blogger (are you tracking food purchases for recipe development?) is different than accounting for a retail store (hello, inventory!), which is also different than accounting for a freelance writer (do you have all of your 1099’s?). Your accountant should be aware of tax opportunities that relate to your industry.

Erin’s why: There are standard tasks in accounting and bookkeeping regardless of industry that any good accountant will understand. However, you’ll get more value from someone not only familiar with your industry but who has experience in it as well. You are essentially paying for the knowledge the accountant can bring to the table so the more they already know, the better!

Q: How can you help me grow my business?

Catherine’s why: Businesses have several moving pieces and an accountant can help you see the big picture by assisting with a business plan. At the same time, they can provide suggestions on your pricing, improving cash flow, assessing whether to hire an employee or contractor, and other ways to improve your bottom line.

Q: What bookkeeping software do you primarily work with, and what is your preferred method of communication?

Catherine’s why: Gone are the days of schlepping a shoebox full of receipts and a folder full of statements to your accountant’s office. Unless, of course, your accountant really wants you to! These days, accountants are using cloud-based accounting programs and file-sharing sites, emailing contracts and invoices, helping you track expenses with online receipt scanning, and communicating via Google Hangouts or Skype. When you have questions, figure out if your accountant prefers a phone call, email, or something else. When I work with financial planning clients, we have a set number of in-person or virtual meetings throughout the year, but I offer unlimited email support in implementing planning recommendations.

Amy’s why: Many accountants have a preference as to which bookkeeping software they use because they’re most familiar with it. Familiarity means they can work more efficiently and offer advice if you have any problems with the software.

Erin’s why: We all know that communication is critical in business relationships, and it’s no exception here. Look for someone who has the same preferred method of communication so it flows more freely and frequently. You can quickly become frustrated (and vice versa) if you always want to hop on Skype for a video chat but your accountant wants to respond with an email.

Q: Are you available during tax season?

Erin’s why: “Busy” season is a very real thing for accountants who also prepare taxes. You want to make sure your accountant will still have the capacity to assist you the first three and a half months of the year and not just go dark!

Q: What will your help cost me + how do you bill?

Amy’s why: Most accountants don’t have detailed costs for their services listed on their website because client needs can vary so much. Ask about this up front so you aren’t surprised with a big bill.

Erin’s why: Find out if you will be billed by the hour or if there will be a fixed fee. If by the hour, you will also want an estimate on what the fee will be. Along the same line of thought, you’ll want to know exactly what you are getting for your money.

Q: What systems and processes do you have in place to protect my financial data?

Tai’s why: Your accountant will have access to the most private information you possess. You want to make sure that your financial statements aren’t just lying around for anyone’s eyes to see. Also, social security numbers, addresses, and other private details should be under lock and key or encrypted digital storage.

Q: How quickly should I expect deliverables to be available every month?

Tai’s why: Clear communication prevents misunderstandings. I was recently interviewing a new client whose main problem with his previous accountant was that he didn’t get information to him in a timely manner. Expectations should be outlined upfront to keep you happy and to also give the accountant the time necessary to make information available to you. For example: Will I be receiving my monthly profit-and-loss report by the 10th of the following month? Should I start to worry if I don’t receive it by the 5th? What deadlines can I expect you, the accountant, to adhere to?

Q: If I incur federal or state penalties for filing errors proven to be the fault of you, the accountant, will you reimburse me? And if so, how much?

Tai’s why: Again drawing from client narratives of past accountant relationships, an accountant is human and sometimes mistakes are made. If that accountant is filing tax returns (business or personal) or making estimated tax payments on your behalf and causes you to incur penalties or interest with the IRS because of neglect or oversight, what is their policy on resolving the situation? Perhaps they will reduce what they bill you. Perhaps they will pay part of the penalties.


Ready to grill (in the best way possible) your potential accountant? Print these questions out + have them at the ready when you’re looking to hire! And if you want pros we stand by, check out the One Woman Shop directory.

PS: Want more information from accountants on what to know before you hire them? Get the (free) Prior to the Hire ebook now!

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part II)

One Woman Shop Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush, Part II

One Woman Shop Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush, Part II

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

This experiment in web design + business building is currently being embarked upon by OWS community member Ashley Rustad, who is on her second Skillcrush Blueprint and is kindly documenting the process for us here! Take it away, Ashley.


(Editor’s note: Last month, Ashley broke down how a Skillcrush Blueprint works for us as she was completing the Web Designer Blueprint. Now, she’s on to the Freelancer WordPress Developer Blueprint, and is letting us following along!)

April was all about transitioning from the Web Designer Blueprint I completed during the winter and beginning the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint. The first class? Introduction to WordPress. This class is the primer on all things WordPress: It teaches the history of WordPress, how to install it, the WordPress Admin (which includes Posts, Pages, Setting, Widgets, Themes, and Plugins), Introduction to PHP, the WordPress loop, debugging, creating a homepage, QA, launching WordPress, and security.

Also, throughout the course there are “career sections” which include revamping your resume, using Adobe Photoshop, using social media to get hired, and writing cover letters. Needless to say, there is a ton of stuff packed into this first month of the three-month Blueprint. Below, I’m sharing my takeaways, as well as who this class might be a good fit for (and who it might not be).

Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint: Takeaways

I have one overall takeaway that I should share first: This class is the primer for the rest of the Blueprint. That being said, if you already know certain aspects of WordPress, some sections may be more of a review for you than others. That was the case for me.

Takeaway #1 – If you know the WordPress Admin, be prepared for review. If you know nothing about WordPress, there is a big learning curve, but everything is explained very well.

By “knowing” the WordPress backend, I mean you can create a post and page, you know what all the settings are and what they do, you know how to create and organize widgets in the sidebar and footer, you can create menus for the navigation bar, and you can download and install themes and plugins. If that’s all in your wheelhouse, those parts will be a refresher, which was the case for me. But…that’s all I knew.

Takeaway #2 – The bigger learning curve comes with an introduction of PHP. (Already know PHP? This may be a review for you, too, but can be a really good refresher.)

I didn’t know any PHP, which is the programing language that WordPress uses. (It’s amazing.) The Blueprint taught the sections by recording Adda write PHP, having us then copy her on our computer. (It sounds much easier than it is because if you miss one character, it won’t work.) Since this was all new to me, I had to go back and watch a few sections over again to see what I missed. I was never worried about not being able to figure it out — Skillcrush also provides the written out pieces of code to compare against, so I could easily see where I may have gone wrong. Truth: It could be frustrating at times, but when I got it right on the first time, it felt amazing! There was no better thought than, “I’m actually getting this.”

Takeaway #3 – The videos are well done, but be prepared to pause, rewind, and rewatch when it comes to the actual PHP programming.

One thing I didn’t like about the PHP videos is that they went too fast for a beginner like me. Adda is a pro-programmer, so her mind works quickly, sometimes making it hard to keep up with her. Having the video at my fingertips to watch at my own pace meant rewinding to go back and see exactly what she typed. And when all else failed and I couldn’t quite figure it out, the Blueprint provides the actual code to install if I just wanted to move on. Patience is key in learning code.

Takeaway #4 – It’s not just about learning to code; it’s about learning how to apply it as a career.

The program is broken up into weeks and days. There’s homework each weekday for three weeks, then the fourth week is filled with what Skillcrush calls “Career Content.” These weeks have information-packed webinars about the career side of becoming a web developer.

There are three Career Content sections: revamp your resume, Photoshop & social media, and cover letters. Each of the career content sections have a webinar-style video that’s at least 45 minutes long. Skillcrush includes the webinar slides and sometimes an e-book type of download for further reading. I haven’t actually watched all the webinars yet, but ones I have watched have been super informational and helpful in the career aspect of the class. Since they are webinar style, they don’t have the extra graphics and video quality like the rest of the videos from the class, and I do wish they were divided up into shorter segments since they are so information rich. I would have preferred to watch four, 15-minute videos over the course of a week about cover letters.

Who is/isn’t this course for?

The introductory class of the Skillcrush Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint is great for anyone who has little-to-no knowledge about WordPress and/or PHP. With an introductory level knowledge of WordPress and PHP, this course would be a good review. Since I’d worked with the WordPress Admin in the past, that portion was a review for me, while the PHP section was brand new, and more challenging for me to learn.

Overall, I really enjoyed the course and learned a lot. Learning all about WordPress and PHP are the building blocks of becoming a great WordPress Developer — and I can’t wait to go through the next two courses of this Blueprint. Before long, I’ll be building websites for clients and helping them get their message out into the world.

Stay tuned for next month, when I share the behind-the-scenes of the second course in the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint: Git, Github and the Command Line.

What questions do you have about Skillcrush and/or tech skills, in general? Leave ’em in the comments below!

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Skillcrush Blueprints. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from — and Skillcrush is among the best of the best!

Thinking About Starting a Podcast? Here’s What You Need to Know

Starting a podcast? Here's what you need to know

Thinking About Starting a Podcast? Here’s What You Need to Know.

When it comes to creating content, our minds often go straight to one thing: a blog. But little known to most people is that podcasting has been around for over a decade — and it could be just the thing you need in your solo biz to mix your content up, showcase your expertise, and grow your community. Today, we’re talking with a group of both long-time and newbie podcasters to learn about their podcasting process, the biggest benefits they’ve seen, their favorite tools, and more.

Without further ado, let’s hear it from Laura Yamin of Say Yes Podcast, Ashley Brooks and Abbigail Kriebs of Chasing Creative, Jen Hatzung & Danielle Spurge of She Percolates, Carrie Smith and Cait Flanders of Budgets and Cents, Stacey Harris of Hit the Mic, and Jennifer Snyder of Creating Your Own Path!

Tell us your podcasting story.

Laura: After five years of blogging, I needed a break from writing, but wanted a medium to communicate with my audience. I’d been listening to podcasts while I was working, so I thought, “Why not audio?” The Say Yes Podcast is a lifestyle, bite-size show. I have guests from all walks of life chatting about their moments when they said yes to a bigger life.

Ashley + Abbigail: One night last fall, I (Ashley) was listening to a podcast with a rather famous guest and realized I couldn’t relate to a single thing they were saying about how they had achieved their goals. Maybe that person had enough money and resources to devote huge chunks of time to their creative projects and business, but I sure couldn’t! I knew Abbigail was a fellow podcast lover, so we put our heads together to start Chasing Creative, a podcast for regular people overcoming challenges to make creativity happen in their everyday.

Danielle + Jen: Danielle and I dreamt up She Percolates after many coffee, donut, and dinner dates where we always ended up chatting about what we were doing with our lives and how we felt like our success did not compare to everyone else’s. We quickly realized we should not have this mindset about what makes us successful, and if we felt this way we were pretty certain many other women did too. Now, on our weekly podcast, we chat with ladies from around the world about what success means to them.

Carrie: My co-host Cait and I wanted to start our podcast, Budgets and Cents, back in the summer of 2015 as a way of proving to listeners that if you change your money you can change your life, and we do that through sharing our personal stories. But it wasn’t until January of 2016 that we actually launched the podcast. (Finally!)

Stacey: I became a big fan of podcasts in 2005 and have been listening to all kinds ever since. It wasn’t until a friend asked me why I hadn’t launched a podcast in 2013 that it occurred to me, I should! I hated writing blog posts, and I love talking. So, in the fall of 2013 I launched Hit the Mic with The Stacey Harris, a podcast all about social media, online marketing, and building a brand online.

Jennifer: My podcast is called Creating Your Own Path (CYOP) and it’s a weekly interview series featuring inspiring individuals and change-makers in various creative industries. I launched the show for several reasons, but the main driving force was my curiosity about the careers of others. At the time, I felt really unsure of my own creative path and knew that I was likely not alone in feeling that way. (It turns out, I wasn’t.)

What benefits or opportunities have you seen from podcasting?

Laura: I have been able to connect with a larger audience who I share similar interests with, and audio brings a new sense of intimacy to that relationship. I also love connecting with the guests, and have expanded my network to new people in various industries. Finally, my guests have been able to book clients thanks to being featured on my show.

Ashley + Abbigail: The best part about podcasting is connecting with other people — especially women — who are making creativity an intentional part of their lives. Learning from their successes (and failures) and finding that we are not alone in this journey has been an amazing benefit of the journey so far.

Danielle + Jen: We absolutely love that we get to connect with so many women — both our guests and our listeners. It is an honor to be able to share a different woman’s story each week. We know we are achieving success for the show when we get an email that says, “Thank you for having so and so on the show, their story resonated with me and was exactly what I needed to hear.”

Carrie: I actually signed on several new business coaching clients who found my website through the podcast. We’ve also chatted with numerous listeners on Twitter about how our show is a must-listen for their morning work commutes.

Stacey: I’ve seen added credibility, because I’m using a medium that is more aligned with how I best provide value. It’s amazing being in someone’s ear and sharing with them what they need to hear. I’ve also been really amazed by the attention it’s brought to my speaking career. When event planners have a chance to actually hear you speak, it’s a lot easier to make a call on hiring you.

Jennifer: Creating something like this has given me the courage to reach out to those whose work I’ve admired for a long time and ask the questions I’ve always wanted to ask. On a larger level, the biggest opportunity is the ability to reach people who really need to hear the stories, tips and wisdom that the show brings to the table. The CYOP community has shown me the value in bringing a lot of different voices, opinions and experiences out into the open and the power those stories really have.

From a career perspective, I started the show before I knew what I was doing. I was essentially making a decision to put myself out there and mess up in public. And I did (do) mess up — a lot! That said, I think by going through this process in a public way, people have started to notice. I get to do fun interviews like this one, I’ve been approached for really great speaking opportunities (which freaks me out, but hey—we all have to face our fears at some point, right?) and I’ve been able to collaborate with other content creators in interesting ways.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered while podcasting?

Laura: I think post-production is the biggest challenge. I still handle the editing of the show and it’s a time consuming process.

Ashley + Abbigail: The biggest challenge has been going into each interview completely unsure of what kind of audio you will get from your guest. When it is your own blog and business, you are 100% in control, but when you are relying on someone else to capture high-quality audio for you, it can be a gamble.

Carrie: Cait and I thought that doing a podcast together would be really challenging but it’s been quite a smooth experience. I think a couple challenges that arose were creating a consistent schedule in the beginning and sending out the newsletters regularly. It’s tough to manage a partnership venture on top of our separate blogs and communities.

Stacey: My biggest challenge is always around my editorial calendar. I go between having a million ideas and zero. It’s helped that now when I have a million ideas, I lay them out in an actual plan.

Jennifer: The biggest challenges I’ve encountered have to do with production of the show. I graduated with a degree in English literature so the tech side of podcasting was incredibly intimidating to me. Luckily, we have an amazing tool called the internet. How-to videos have saved the day on more than one occasion!

Another challenge for me has been time management. Podcasting takes a lot of time! I’ve been doing all of the booking, production and editing myself and a lot of the time I’m doing that work in between the hours I dedicate to my actual job. I’m finally transitioning to a place where I might be able to outsource some of the production of my show.

If you could give one piece of advice to potential or new podcasters, what would it be?

Laura: The process of putting together a podcast is time consuming. I would encourage you to batch the process to save time and energy. Schedule the recordings one day; schedule post production another day.

Ashley + Abbigail: Don’t let fear hold you back — just jump in and get started! You could drive yourself crazy researching the technical side of audio or spending hundreds of dollars on top-of-the-line equipment…or you could create a simple setup that works for you and learn as you go. You could be afraid to reach out to potential guests because they might say no…or you could hit “send” on that email and be pleasantly surprised when they say yes! Not everything in podcasting will go your way, but you’ll never get anywhere if you let fear keep you from trying.

Danielle + Jen: Just start. You can’t get better if you don’t start. You can’t get a bigger audience if you don’t start. You can’t get more confident behind the mic if you don’t start.

Cait: Have fun with it! It is an extra project and will take up at least a few hours of your week, so you should decide early on if you’re enjoying it or not. I think one of the reasons Carrie and I are enjoying ours is because it feels like minimal effort. We hit record, have a conversation and share it with the world. My second piece of advice would be to not stress too much about the editing process! I spent so much time editing the first few episodes, then realized the umm’s and ahhh’s are worth keeping — it’s how we talk and makes the conversation flow more naturally!

Stacey: Get started. I still hate my first 100 shows, no joke. In another 100 episodes I’ll likely hate my first 200 episodes. I will learn from the experience of doing. No one gets better by just wanting to be better. It takes practice.

Jennifer: Make sure you have something to say. It’s really important to understand why you want your idea to be presented via audio. I don’t recommend starting a show because you want to monetize it (though, if you play your cards right, that might be an awesome bonus) and I really advise against starting a show simply because everyone is starting a show. Just like blogging, podcasting is not a requirement — even though it’s trendy right now. As I mentioned above, podcasting takes a lot of time and effort, so try to think about its purpose in your business mix. I see a lot of people jump into it and then quit after a handful of episodes.

What are the top tools, sites, or pieces of equipment that have been valuable to you as a podcaster?

Laura: 1) I found the She Podcast Facebook Group to be a valuable community of fellow podcasters. 2) Simple Podcast Press is a great player that makes it easier to gather reviews on iTunes and make your podcast shareable. 3) Libsyn is a great podcasting host.

Ashley + Abbigail: 1) GarageBand: Makes editing audio simple. It’s free for Mac users, and there are lots of free resources out there to help you learn how to compile and process audio files. 2) Asana: This project management tool keeps all of our tasks for each episode organized and in one place. We know we’re never letting something important slip through the cracks. 3) Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone: There are a ton of options out there for microphones, but not all of them are affordable for a new podcaster. At $59, this one comes with a stand and all the cords and cables you’ll need — plus it delivers great audio.

Danielle + Jen: 1) Auphonic: Helps to level out the volume. 2) Trello: Keeps our team organized for each episode, with details like date to go live, photos to share on social media, etc. 3) Podcasters’ Paradise gave us all the tools and info we needed to get our podcast running.

Cait: 1) Decent microphones! You don’t need to get anything super expensive. Mine was less than $100. 2) I edit the podcasts with Audacity, which is free. 3) We upload/store all our episodes on Libsyn (which syncs with iTunes) and SoundCloud (for non-Apple listeners).

Stacey: 1) Good quality mic. I use a Samson Meteor Mic, I also recommend the Blue Microphones Snowball mic. Both are under $100.

Jennifer: 1) YouTube has been a lifesaver because really smart people are kind enough to post helpful how-to videos! 2) Get acquainted with Skype and ecamm Call Recorder (if you’re a Mac person), which make recording remote interviews fairly painless. 3) If you really want to go deep into podcasting, head over to Pat Flynn’s podcasting tutorial. It’s comprehensive, easy to follow, and full of helpful information.

There you have it: tips from the podcast pros! Your turn: What questions do you have, or what tips can you share? Leave them in the comments, below.

This post contains affiliate links for resources mentioned by those we interviewed. Anything you purchase will net us a bit of money, which helps us further our mission of supporting One Woman Shops across the world. Thank you!

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