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!

Learn How to Code: The Why and the How

learn to code

Learn How To Code

Learning to code is more than just a passing trend right now. Because of that, there’s been a small explosion of startups teaching people essential digital skills; especially ones aimed at women. With options galore, where is it safe to start? As always, with the why.

Why would you want to learn how to code?

Technology is everywhere. Nearly everyone has a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop. Soon, lots of people will be wearing smartwatches while driving their smart cars around their smart cities.

Lots of people’s jobs already depend on technology, and that number is only increasing. Even if yours doesn’t, it's important for everyone to reclaim their right to have mastery over the technology that governs our lives.

How learning to code enabled me to become a solopreneur

Learning to code can open previously closed doors. This is especially helpful for those seeking to balance their work with family life, or others who are returning to the working world after time away.

For me, learning to code was one of the crucial milestones that enabled me to leave my 9-5 job and embark on my career as a freelance blogger in tech. Prior to this, I’d been working full-time in digital communications, and I was certainly never ‘techie.’

To build my professional confidence, I learned to code for free with a non-profit, UK-based organization called Code First: Girls. During these courses, I also gained experience in collaborating with others to build websites. Even when the work was very difficult, our shared goal motivated each of us to complete our project.

The new knowledge gained gave me a strong dose of confidence and helped me to understand the tech and startup industry for the first time. Because of that, I picked tech as my blogging niche, and have since been learning as much as I can about the industry. I was able take blogging, which I had been doing for free for years, and make a career out of it.

As a result, I recently quit my job to take the plunge as a full-time freelance tech blogger. So, let’s overcome one of society’s most ridiculous stereotypes, which is that only white male ‘nerds’ can understand computers, and all start learning to code!

Different types of coding skills you can learn -- and the purpose each serves

“Learn how to code.” That’s a lofty goal, no doubt, and it can be overwhelming to consider all your different options - especially if you don't know which language you want to learn.

Many people find it helpful to start with HTML and CSS, which are the front-end coding languages of websites. They are probably the simplest ones to pick up as they’re responsible for styling the visual elements of webpages, and require little-to-no understanding of programming.

As a solopreneur, learning HTML and CSS will give you a lot more confidence when you’re trying to set up your own website, because even if you use a website platform like WordPress or pay a developer to build your site, you’ll still be able to make small edits yourself.

You’ll also be empowered to understand what’s possible in terms of web design. This can be anything from the importance of responsive design (when a website resizes across different devices such smartphones or desktop computers), or when to use bits of code such as H2 tags (the subheadings that break up your page text on your website).

If you want to get a bit more techie, you can learn programming languages such as JavaScript, PHP, Ruby or Python.

These are languages used to program the backend of websites (although JavaScript is used for both frontend and backend). They provide extra functionality such as a website database, or enable you to sell things on your website.

There are a huge variety of languages used to build different types of websites. To start, Google the purpose of each language to see which might be most applicable for you.

The different ways to learn coding

Most people who want to get really serious about learning to code end up paying for a service. This is really useful as it enables you to have that contact with experienced professional developers who can advance your learning and kickstart your career.

This is really useful as it enables you to have that contact with experienced professional developers who can advance your learning and kickstart your career.

Paid courses

Skillcrush is one such resource where you can join a thriving community of like-minded individuals and target your learning with tailored Blueprints. All courses are taken online and they offer a free introductory bootcamp. Amanda has chronicled her Skillcrush journey on the OWS blog in several parts, starting here.

Likewise, you can take singular courses like Sarah Eggers’ HTML & CSS Crash Course.

Many, many other groups exist, like Decoded, which teaches you to code in a day in HTML, or Mums in Technology, which specifically caters to women with children who are looking to advance their careers.

Free options

If you don't have much money to play around with, or just want to dip your toe in the water, there are some free options available. I've created a fully comprehensive list of free UK coding groups on my website.

Groups like Rails Girls offer free day coding bootcamps to teach any women the coding language Ruby on Rails. Another great group aimed at university students and recent graduates is Code First: Girls, which I took part in, myself.

In addition, there are lots and lots of online resources available, including CodeAcademy, General Assembly, and Coursera, to name a few.

A note on bootcamps

A stigma has sprung up in the web development community among some hiring managers against coding bootcamps. This term refers to full-time intensive courses that you pay for. This option is typically for aspiring web developers, rather than the amateur coder.

If you want to become a web developer and are considering a bootcamp, remember they will vary in quality, so do your research and always make sure you have a genuine enthusiasm for building your own portfolio. Maker’s Academy is a good place to start looking at bootcamps.

How to pick the right course for you

Unless you want to become a professional web developer, you don't need to invest large amounts of time and money in learning to code.

Think about key factors like financial cost, difficulty level, distance to travel, comprehensiveness of the course, contact with experienced developers, and fitting it in around commitments like work and childcare.

Aim for a basic understanding of and curiosity about the nature of technology. Learning to code helps push you past the fear and mystery around technology and empowers you to make the most of it.

Overcoming obstacles and moving forward

Learning to code opens the door to taking control over the digital aspects of your business, and often comes with unintended side benefits, like being able to build your own digital products, launch a startup, become a better designer, or take the plunge as a full-time blogger specializing in tech (like me!), among other things.

If nothing else, dipping your toe into the coding world may help you realize how beneficial hiring a professional developer can be. One Woman Shop published this super handy post about what to ask as you interview a professional developer before you jump into a relationship with them.

I hope this post has shown you some of the ways you can dive in and learn to code -- no matter your situation.

Don’t let negative self beliefs hold you back. Just like learning to write, anyone can learn to code. The aim is not necessarily to become a professional programmer or developer, but simply to enter a whole new world of opportunities.

 

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of courses mentioned above. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from.

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!

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!

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

learning to code skillcrush

learning to code skillcrush

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! (For those of you who were around this time last year, OWS co-head honcho Sara was test driving the Blueprints -- check out her breakdown here. She’s now passed the torch!) Take it away, Ashley.


Starting my own one woman shop has always been a dream of mine. But despite reading this blog for a while and being endlessly inspired by other women solopreneurs, it wasn’t until recently that I decided I wanted to build a business as a web designer.

I’ve always loved working on and customizing my own WordPress sites in the past, but had a barrier to being able to build a business around helping other women with their websites: I needed to learn a lot more about coding and web design beyond what I had taught myself. So I started searching online -- and, well, there a lot of places to go! I was completely overwhelmed until I stumbled upon Skillcrush.

Skillcrush is an online coding company teaching a plethora of digital skills. Skillcrush Career Blueprints are each made up of three classes to teach you the exact skills you need to become a web designer, web developer, WordPress developer, Ruby on Rails developer, and more.

I dipped my toes in with Skillcrush’s free 10-day bootcamp: fun, informative videos, interactive lessons, and a dive into HTML. It wasn’t long before I fell in love with their classes. After completing the bootcamp and watching a few Skillcrush webinars, I decided to sign up for the Skillcrush Web Designer Blueprint.

Skillcrush Web Designer Blueprint

In October of 2015, I started the Skillcrush Web Designer Blueprint. Like all Skillcrush Blueprints (except Front End Developer), the Web Designer Blueprint consists of three classes. The Web Designer classes include UX & Web Design, HTML & CSS, and JavaScript & jQuery. All three classes, which run for a month each, were informative and helpful in giving me a jumping off point into web design -- especially since I’d never really dabbled too far into any of it before.

What’s in a Skillcrush Blueprint

All Skillcrush Blueprints are set up similarly. Here’s what you can expect:

  • The classes are self-paced. Each morning, you receive an email with a link to that day’s materials (videos, downloads, worksheets) and often a few supplemental materials, as well. You can expect to spend about 30 to 40 minutes per day on the class work. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, you can spend a few hours batching the work each weekend. Since the classes are self-paced, it’s truly up to you.
  • You have lifetime access to the classes, so you can always look back if you get stuck in a later class -- and if you fall behind, you can choose to catch up or just pick up where you left off. Honestly? In self-paced classes like this, I don’t really think there is a “behind.”
  • The lessons come with suggested homework for each day, and an interactive platform where you can upload or save what you’ve been working on.
  • Each Blueprint has an associated community on Mightybell where you can turn to get your questions answered. The questions are answered by the designated teacher, teacher’s assistant and other class members. It’s very community oriented.

What do you need before starting a Blueprint?

Depending on the Blueprint, there may be a prerequisite. The Web Designer Blueprint and Front End Developer Blueprint do not have any prerequisites, but all the other Blueprints have a prerequisite of at least knowing HTML & CSS. (Not at an expert level, but a comfortable level.)

Even without a prerequisite, you will need to make sure you have the time to invest in doing the Blueprint. While you can take each differently -- for example, on one of the classes, I worked ahead on and learned as much as possible because I was going out of town, whereas another I did the class as I received each email -- each one will still require a designated time investment.

Beyond the Blueprint

Skillcrush truly builds a community around each Blueprint. Beyond your Mightybell community, there are also weekly “office hours” held via Google Hangouts, where your teacher can answer any questions related to the projects you are putting together in class.

The teachers are current web designers and developers. Some of the teachers work at other companies, plus teach Skillcrush classes, while some teachers own their own businesses. The teachers are pretty interactive on Mightybell. Your level of engagement on Mightybell is entirely up to you.

In addition, once per month, there is a “Circle Chat” -- a big group chat/forum where you can ask questions and meet other people in your class. It’s a great time to meet up and start collaborations, if that’s what you’re looking for.

They also have monthly Master Classes, where they interview someone from the tech industry like Adda Birnir, Randle Browning, and Rachel Papst. They teach classes about writing resumes, social media, project management and more. You also have access to the backlog of Master Classes. The interviews give great insight into the tech industry and have been helpful in teaching new skills like how to transition from a non-tech job to a tech job.

Setting you up for a career

Skillcrush isn’t just about teaching you the skills -- they are all about helping you launch a career based on them. Each Blueprint comes with an additional program taking you step-by-step through what you need to do to jumpstart a career in tech, called a Career Path.

The Career Path takes you through building a portfolio, getting organized, and tips and strategies on finding a job. Learning how to create a portfolio and a website to advertise my new skills as a web designer will help me to promote my one woman shop. These same skills can help someone just looking to transition to a new career in tech.

Who the Web Designer Blueprint is for

Skillcrush is a great way to get started if this is the first time taking a class on web design or you’ve just dabbled in web design. The Blueprint is a comprehensive approach to learning web design: It doesn’t just teach foundational HTML & CSS. In the UX & Web Design class, you learn wireframing, user experience, a little Photoshop, and how to create and use sitemaps. (And if you don’t know what any of that means, then the class is perfect for you because you’ll learn it all!) The thing I love about Skillcrush is that you’re not jumping from site to site wondering if you’re learning it the right way or learning it well. I felt comfortable that I was learning what I needed to know to design a website from scratch.

After going through the Blueprint, I now know what I need to prepare for a meeting with a potential client, how to outline a sitemap for them, and where to start on the layout of their site -- things I had no clue on before.

Who the Web Designer Blueprint isn’t for

Like any course, one Skillcrush Blueprint cannot possibly teach you everything you need to know about web design. You have to be willing to hit roadblocks and run Google searches.

In addition, if you’ve dabbled in HTML or CSS before or have built a website from scratch, the Web Designer Blueprint may not be advanced enough for you. Advanced Blueprints from Skillcrush include a Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint, Mobile Web Designer Blueprint and Ruby on Rails Developer Blueprint that may be more suited for someone that is familiar with HTML and CSS. It’s also possible to take individual classes, so if you know HTML & CSS, but not UX & Web Design, you could just take that one class.

The team at Skillcrush is great in helping you get on the path you need. If you ever have any questions you can always email someone at Skillcrush or use the chat box at the bottom of the page when you sign in.

Are you interested in Skillcrush?

If you’re curious about Skillcrush and how the Blueprints are run, take their free 10-Day Bootcamp. It will give you a great taste for what the paid classes are like.

What’s next for me

The next step for me is take the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint. I’ve always loved the WordPress CMS and I’ve always wanted to build sites on that platform. Since Skillcrush has classes teaching all about being a Freelance WordPress Developer and that’s what I want to be, it’s the next logical step. I’ve really enjoyed learning with Skillcrush and am so excited to start my business soon with the skills that I am learning. The WP Blueprint outlines exactly what you need to do build a freelance business, plus the skills to make it happen.

Stay tuned: Over the next three months, I’ll be walking you through the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint here on the One Woman Shop blog!

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!

How Much a WordPress Site Really Costs

A few months ago I saw this exchange in one of my favorite Facebook groups for solopreneurs:

"I am about to pay $4k for someone to make my webpage and I'm having a hard time stomaching this… that’s almost my entire bank account. Do others charge this kind of money?"

This post BLEW UP. There were over 300 comments on it, most of them appearing within the first hour of it being posted.

Each response fell into one of these categories:

“I just paid $5,000. I would be suspect of the quality if someone was charging less."

"If a $4,000 website would enable me to make $40k/month, then yes. Investment mindset vs. Cheapskate mindset."

“I’ll do it for you for $1500. PM me."

“Web developers are sharks who are just out to make as much money as possible. You can do it yourself for under $100."

“I’m offended - we are not sharks, we have a highly developed and refined skill set and we deserve to get paid for our time."

I was captivated. I read comment after comment. And as someone who has spent years building WordPress sites and currently building my own business, I disagreed with EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Well, except this one: “Don’t empty your bank account for anything, let alone a website.”

My fingers scrambled to type a well-thought out argument to counter every single one of those responses, but my typing skills are no match for the speed at which this thread was growing. So I kept reading and reading and shakin’ my damn head... They all think they are having the same conversation, but this was the most epic communication breakdown I’ve ever seen online. And no one noticed.

So I decided to take a minute to clear up all the confusion and explain the different types of WordPress experts, how they decide how much to charge, and give you a clear path for deciding whether to DIY or hire it out.

What is a Developer?

Everyone has a different definition of what a web developer is. In my many years of experience there are four levels of WordPress pros:

A WordPress Developer knows PHP and CSS and could code a WordPress theme or plugin from scratch. They know the WordPress Codex inside and out; they might even contribute to the development of the core of WordPress or code and sell their own custom themes. They likely are active in the WordPress support forums and submit bug fixes. They make WordPress work for the rest of us. Unless you’re a theme developer or wanting to create and sell your own plugin, you’re almost never gonna hire a developer.

Then there’s the WordPress Expert. She knows WordPress up and down, back and forth -- and is also an expert in web hosting technology. She knows where every single last option can be found in the Dashboard. How to troubleshoot and fix any problems. How to maintain + optimize it. How to extend it with plugins to make it perform any task you can dream of. How to customize any theme even if she’s never seen it before (because really, they all operate on the same basic WordPress principles). She knows every single plugin you need and don’t need, how to make your site do anything you would want your site to do. She knows every WordPress trick in the book.

Next up is the Design Expert. She knows popular WordPress themes like the back of her hand and has a talent for making WordPress sites look ah-mazing. She’s an ARTIST. She's going to select fonts and colors for you, design layouts and graphics, and maybe even write some copy for you because that’s part of the design.

Finally, there’s the Content Expert. This girl knows how to create and format new pages, add media, create and categorize blog posts. She knows how to apply and customize themes, set up menus, customize widgets and keep things moving. She may also be great at writing copy.

Here are a few things you need to know:

  • No one reading this article needs to hire a WordPress Developer. That’s the point of WordPress -- it was created by developers to give the PEOPLE the ability to make their own websites. Websites for the people!
  • If you can find a legit WordPress Expert who is also a legit Design Expert, marry her. She is a unicorn. This is where people wind up disappointed. They hire a “web developer” assuming they have both of these skill sets. Then they end up with a site that can pat its head and rub its tummy at the same time but looks like it came out of 1998. Or they have a GORGEOUS website with five beautiful pages and absolutely zero brains.
  • You must become the content expert whether you hire it out or you do it all yourself. It is your duty as a business owner to know how this stuff works. Would you open up your business in a physical location you knew nothing about? NO! Just because your website is “technical” doesn’t absolve you of knowing how it works.

I cannot stress this enough. A basic level of knowledge is enough to maintain your site -- and it's crucial. That way, when you’re between experts, you won’t need to even break a sweat, because you’ll know exactly what you need to do.

Should you DIY or hire out?

If you do it yourself (which you totally can if you know how to use the internet, can point and click, can follow instructions and have a little cash and a little patience), you are eventually going to become a WordPress Expert. Maybe not a ninja-level-can-work-on-any-site expert, but you’ll learn enough to know exactly how to maintain everything about your own site. To do it RIGHT and set yourself up for success and future growth, it’s going to cost you a few hundred dollars.

If you are going to hire someone, you either marry a unicorn OR you hire WordPress Expert AND a designer. Your WordPress expert sets up your site for you (and they should ask TONS of questions about your business so they build everything you don’t even know you need), and hire a graphic designer to create your brand for you, and your WordPress Expert will implement the brand on the site for you.

Truth: the price for a WordPress site is completely arbitrary

It is determined by how much that expert thinks their time and talents are worth, and with cheap tech labor overseas, that skews the price range even more.

If you’re going to do your due diligence, there are four options to look at seriously:

1. How much time and money it will take to do it yourself, and what resources are available for learning?

2. How much does this ‘unicorn’ cost? You won’t know if they are a unicorn until you talk to them and ask the right questions.

3. How much a WordPress Expert costs - they might call themselves a web developer… pay attention to semantics. They really do matter here.

4. How much a Design Expert costs - they might also call themselves web developers. It is up to you to know the difference.

Yes -- this requires leg work, but it’s like finding the right physical location for your business. (Super important.)

To help you decide whether to DIY or don’t even try, check out this free decision guide. It includes:

  • A quiz to help you determine if DIYing is right for your personality (no, you don't have to be techie).
  • The BEST resources for DIYing your WordPress site.
  • Tips on how to find the web developer that's right for you if you determine DIY is not for you.
  • 24 questions to ask potential web developers so you can be sure you know exactly what you're getting before you get started.

How much money you decide to spend on a website has zero to do with an abundance vs. cheapskate mindset. It has to do with making good business decisions based on where you are in your journey. And there are eleventy-million ways to go about building your website, which is what makes deciding what to do so overwhelming! It’s important to do your research, make an informed decision, and not blow your entire start-up budget on a website.

P.S. Want more from Shannon? Check out her WP+BFF Academy -- so that you can build your website right the first time. Note: This is an affiliate link -- we believe in Shannon's work and think you might find it valuable. 

Questions for a… Developer

Questions For a Developer

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 A…Developer with contributions from developers Tiffany Breyne, Erin E Flynn, Lis Dingjan, and Meredith Underell. Here’s what they suggest you ask:

Q: What is your preferred method of communication?

Tiffany’s why: I know that introductory Skype and phone calls are a major part of some people’s work processes, but I’d rather change a baby’s dirty diaper than talk on the phone. Therefore, I prefer communication via email, or through Basecamp, my project management system. If you’re a big phone/email person, it’s important to make sure that the people you’re working with feel the same way.

Erin’s why: If you want weekly phone calls to check in on progress, and the designer/developer only communicates via email, it's better to know that right away.

Q: What should I have ready before we start working together? Do you require design assets and copy before starting the development piece?

Tiffany’s why: You should have all of your passwords ready, as well as any necessary notes, content, design files, etc. The majority of my projects don’t get started right away because passwords need to be found, and content and files need to be delivered. I’m all about hitting the ground running, and I’m sure most clients feel the same way.

Meredith’s why: Depending on how complex the project is, most developers will need all the pieces in place before starting. They may begin by coding the foundational layer but for any real website building, they will ideally like to have all of the assets complete before starting work.

Q: How does your process work?

Tiffany’s why: Everyone’s process is different. Some developers ask more in-depth questions, and others prefer to create exactly what the client requests, no questions asked. Because I like to think about user experience when developing something, I tend to ask more questions about goals and objectives. Some people may appreciate that, and others may not. So it’s important to understand what the developer has in mind prior to signing a contract.

Erin’s why: It's important to know how designers and developers work and how long things are expected to take.You'll also want to know how many rounds of revisions you get, when and what you need to provide the developer in order to let them do their job, and keep things moving. If a developer says they need final copy, don't expect to change your About page text the night before website launch. When everyone knows what to expect it makes the project run a lot smoother and reduces the chance for misunderstandings.

Q: How do you track a project's progress and deliverables?

Meredith’s why: I use Trello to track all my projects. Everyone who's involved on the project has access. We assign deliverables, due dates and keep the majority of our communication through there to cut down on the number of emails. It's best to be upfront with how the project communication will be handled so expectations are set from the beginning.

Q: What platforms do you work with?

Erin’s why: Find someone who specializes in the platform you want -- it will ensure you get a well-coded site that won't break every time you touch it. I've fixed plenty of sites made by developers who knew just enough about WordPress to make a site that looked good to visitors, but were a nightmare to update or maintain.

Q: I have my heart set on ____ feature, can you do that?

Erin’s why: Prioritize your features and make sure the developer knows how to do them. For example, if you have your heart set on a custom masonry-style gallery, ask developers if they know how to do that. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway into a project only to find out the developer can't deliver what you want. I've picked up a lot of half-finished projects where either the client didn't communicate features they wanted clearly, or the developer didn't know how to add in the feature. Show examples and look for similar features in your developer's portfolio.

Q: Will you code this responsively?

Lis’ why: Not to be confused with responsibly (which let’s hope is also the case!). We consume and read differently on mobile. If your designs don’t have this specified then you can ask your developer to code down the designs responsively. Responsive design increases time and budget on a project due to extra planning, additional coding, more testing and extra know-how but is well worth it as audiences increasingly use mobile devices to access your website (from buses, work and bathrooms!).

Erin’s why: It's 2015. Websites NEED to be responsive. Not only will you be penalized by Google if your website isn't, but visitors will have a hard time viewing your site on anything other than a computer screen.

Q: Do you design websites as well, or do you have a list of designers you prefer working with?

Erin’s why: Developers are not necessarily designers. And designers are not necessarily developers. Ask if your developer can design, and what kind of design they do. For example, I design websites, but I don't do brand or print design. If you need something outside your developer's realm of expertise, ask if they have recommendations -- when designers and developers have a relationship it makes the process smoother. While developers CAN work with mockups from a designer they don't know, it's easier for everyone involved if the designer and developer already have processes in place and rapport with each other.

Q: How much back end functionality will I have?

Lis’ why: Depending on your project size, budget, scope and the skills of your dev, you’ll likely have a different range of functionality and access on the back end. For custom projects and development anything is possible so ask what platform (CMS) they’re building on, why they’ve chosen that one for your project, what access you’ll have, if there is any ongoing payment for support or maintenance, how you’ll update areas on the site and if you’re provided with training, instructions, guides or anything else.

Q: Are you responsible for all integrations, third party systems, hosting, setting up emails etc?

Lis’ why: Again, this will vary per project and developer. For example, I prefer all my clients establish their own accounts to third party applications (I.e hosting, domain, mailing services, payment gateways, etc.) so they have full control and access over the account and they can securely control their payment details and the like. I’ll take it from there to work with everything and arrange what I need within the overall website and systems flow. Other developers may have partnerships with companies, reseller programs or their own products. This is also the time to note who is responsible for setting up things like mailing list integrations, online schedulers, memberships, etc.

Q: Do you maintain my site or provide support packages?

Lis’ why: All sites need to have occasional updates and maintenance. Can you easily add things and do it in-house? Sometimes clients don’t wish to (or don’t have time or the desire) to add/change any of their own content. Do you regularly need new layouts designed or are you constantly tweaking and testing things and need a developer who can help out? Will you require extra phases of new items or functionality in the future? Do you want to look after your own updates and security or would you like somebody else to take care of this? If your server goes down or if there is any issue with your hosting do you go back to your developer and they’ll fix it? If you mess around with some code and it temporarily ‘breaks’ the site (the evil white screen of death!), is your developer responsible for fixing the code and are they on hand immediately?

Q: What is your payment structure & schedule?

Meredith’s why: Every developer has a different payment schedule. It's good for the client to know how much the deposit will be and whether they will need to make a final payment before the site goes live.


Ready to grill (in the best way possible) your potential developer? 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 developers on what to know before you hire them? Check out Prior to the Hire: Developers Edition.

One Woman Experiments: Coding With Skillcrush (Part I)

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 mini-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 development is currently being embarked upon by OWS head-honcho, Sara Frandina.

I’m a multipassionate. I don’t believe in confining yourself to a niche; I aim to learn as much as possible about many different things; and I sure as hell don’t ever find myself bored.

Being a multi-passionate, to me, means constantly evolving and trying new things. I’ve learned to overcome my fear of public speaking and won a campus-wide contest. I’ve learned to speak fluent Italian and traveled there as part of a full-immersion program. I’ve researched carboys and the best oak to use as I learn to make wine.

My Type-A personality lends itself well to learning, sticking with something, and getting pretty good at most things. (I’m not bragging. It’s a blessing and a curse.) But there’s one thing that’s been on my bucket list for far too long now, that I simply have not been able to grasp: coding. (Web developers: you have my undying envy + awe.)

Learning to code as a One Woman Shop

I’ve putzed around with the self-teaching route for coding. When I launched my business in late 2013, I even set out to build my own site. As a copywriter + editor, it was a complete mindset shift from the creative, free-flowing words to the rules-laden, no-room-for-error world of code. But still, even after embarking upon the process and keeping the best notes possible, I just wasn’t getting the hang of it.

A lot of that came from being a One Woman Shop who really needs to spend the majority of my time doing the things I’m good at to keep my business growing -- and therefore not being able to devote consistent time to a “non-essential” skill like coding. But the desire to learn to code hasn’t escaped me -- especially as I have client after client ask me how to put the web copy I write to its best use.

So when one of Cristina’s online contacts connected One Woman Shop to the ladies at Skillcrush suggesting we collaborate, it seemed a match was made in heaven. What’s Skillcrush? Oh, just a company that aims to teach tech skills to people who are complete newbies in a non-invasive, self-paced way. (And it’s a company built + run by a team of women -- even better.)

Learning to code, the Skillcrush way

Skillcrush has designed what they call Career Blueprints: comprehensive, three-class plans that you purchase as a package. They currently offer Blueprints for Web Design, Web Development, Freelance WordPress Development, and Ruby on Rails Development.

I know what you might be thinking: how is Skillcrush any different than the classes I can find, most likely cheaper, on Skillshare, Udemy, and the other online learning platforms that we love? Now that I’m nearly two weeks into the first module, let me count the ways:

Structure

The thing I lacked most in teaching myself to code was structure. Even going to frequent Girl Develop IT classes put on by our local chapter just didn’t provide the structure needed to learn, implement, and keep learning. With Skillcrush’s Blueprints, you have set lessons to follow -- whether you do it for an hour daily, as they suggest, or at your own pace -- and a road map for where you’re going. Suddenly, I understand the pieces of what I’m learning and how they’ll all work together.

Support

The community around the Skillcrush Blueprint is amazing. Not only do you have the support of your teachers, but you have constant access to fellow students running through the same program you are. They’ve built the Skillcrush community via Mightybell (basically a social intranet), which takes some getting used to, but it’s fantastically active.

Syllabi

The Blueprint is fantastic in that I know what’s coming next -- and the lessons drop into my inbox every day, so I don’t have to remember to go log in and check them out. I’ve just dipped my feet in the water with the first monthly module, HTML and CSS, and I’ve got a full four weeks of lessons to help me fully immerse myself and put it into practice before the syllabus calls for the next modules, JavaScript and jQuery, and Ruby, Git, and Sinatra. Do I even know what half of those things mean at this point? Nope. But that’s the beauty of the guided syllabi -- I’ve got the path laid out for me.

Why this is truly an experiment

Skillcrush makes some big promises: on the landing page for the Web Developer Blueprint, it tells me that I’ll have “everything you need to know to become a kick-a$%, take-no-prisoners, digital native.”

After years of trying to learn, I’m excited to see how true that is. And with the structure, support, and carefully-thought out syllabi, I’m dedicated to taking my hour each day to see it to fruition. Will it be perfect? I doubt it. Will I struggle? For sure. But that’s the purpose of this column: so you can learn from my mistakes and see if Skillcrush is the answer to your tech-savvy dreams.

Stick with me -- I’ve started off strong and now I need you to hold me accountable. I’ll be sharing the ins-and-outs of learning to code with the Skillcrush Web Developer Blueprint over the next three months!

PS - Skillcrush isn’t just a pay-to-play learning site. I’ve encountered countless fantastic resources via the Skillcrush blog to help me in both learning to code and learning to excel as a solopreneur.

PPS - Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links + Skillcrush has comped the Blueprint for me as part of this One Woman Shop Experiment. (Aren’t they awesome?) That being said, everything I share is made of up my candid, honest opinions as I move through the Blueprint.

How to Choose an E-Commerce Platform

You know that e-commerce is growing, but do you have any idea how big the online market really is?

According to the business research firm IBIS World, online sales reached $297.9 billion in 2013. And e-commerce sales are expected to reach 6.5% of total retail sales in 2014!

If you're thinking about running an online business with a product to sell (or already are!), it's time to get a slice of the ever-expanding pie. Beyond deciding and developing what you're going to sell, one of the hardest decisions you'll have to make is which e-commerce platform to use. Luckily, we're here to help.

Start here: Do you already have an existing blog or website?

Don’t have a website? Choose a dedicated online store

Several online e-commerce platforms allow businesses to create their own dedicated online shop. Although going this route can require a significant investment in time and money, it's a great option if you’re just launching an online presence. Here are a few trusty sites where you can set up shop:

Shopify

With Shopify, you can sell either online or in your offline retail shop. There are no limits on the types of products you can sell. It’s easy to get started, and requires zero design or coding skills. With the ability to customize the color, layout, and content of your site, it looks great straight out of the box.

A huge benefit to Shopify is that support is good and fast -- you are not reliant on unresponsive forums for answers. Shopify starts at $29 a month for a basic shop, with a 2% transaction fee up to $179 per month. If based outside of the US, you will also need a credit card payment processor like Stripe, who will charge you an additional 2.7% + 30c for each credit card transaction.

Magento

Magento is an open-source platform that allows users to sell any type of retail product. It's free to download and has a detailed start up guide, yet those who do not have experience with code may find it too complex for their needs. There is no technical support for this plan. However, it does have a very supportive and active community.

The lowest monthly plan is $15/month with a limited number of products and storage. Magento integrates extremely well with Ebay (unsurprising, as it’s actually owned by Ebay!)  However, it doesn't have an integrated blog – a serious drawback when it comes to attracting inbound traffic.

Etsy

Etsy is the most popular e-commerce platform for handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. There is no membership fee, but it costs $0.20 to list an item for 4 months and 3.5% fee on the sale price. Although the type of items is restricted to crafts and vintage, it’s a great option if that’s your niche.

Have an existing website or blog? Monetize it!

If you want to monetize your existing blog, you're in luck -- it's easy to integrate e-commerce into your site. No need to send your audience to an external site to complete the checkout; the following options are easy and affordable ways you can integrate e-commerce into your blog or website to monetize your existing readers.

Selz

Selz caters to both digital and physical products, but also comes with an added bonus - you can sell services through it, as well. It's easy to sign up and navigate, and its clean user design is extremely appealing. Use is free, with a small fee paid when you make a sale. Unlike several of the other e-commerce integration solutions, there are no other credit card processing costs, and no limits on the number of products or bandwidth.

While it is possible to create a dedicated online store with Selz, integrating it into your existing website is simple. With a little technical skill, you can embed a buy button or store into your existing site quickly with a snippet of code. The checkout process offers customers the choice of buying with a credit card or PayPal without them leaving your site -- meaning better conversions and more sales.

E-Junkie

E-Junkie provides a shopping cart and "Buy Now" buttons to sell digital downloads and physical products on your blog or website. The benefit of using E-Junkie is that it has proven its validity - it's been around for a long time. The downside? The user interface is looking tired, you do need a working knowledge of HTML, and it takes some time to set up and customize.

Plans range from $5 to $265 per month, depending on how many products you wish to sell. Most users integrate PayPal with E-Junkie, leading to additional PayPal fees. It also means a clunky checkout, potentially costing you sales.

Grab your piece of the online action!

Building a profitable online retail business takes work, but the potential is undeniable. With sales in the billions, and 5.9% expected growth for the next five years, now's the time to get in on the action.

Already using a great e-commerce platform? Share with us in the comments!