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Utilize local resources to increase your brand awareness

Brand Awareness

I recently moved to Colorado Springs from Texas. I’ve been in my new state for a very short period of time but one of the first things I did was seek out local groups that I could join to increase my knowledge as well as get my brand out there.

I found a local WordPress meetup for my area and I intend on attending it. I would have attended sooner but I’m still getting used to the Colorado weather. Apparently it changes very rapidly here and I’m not used to driving in this weather.

What about you? Are you utilizing local meetups and groups to maximize your brand awareness? If not, you need to consider taking that first step today. You can do a quick Google search of your area to find local groups that are in your industry. A great place to start looking too is You can search for places that you can go to and events you can attend.

Local businesses are a great way to network

Recently I was asked about how I pitch local businesses my services. I replied that it takes a lot of foot work to bring in new local business. That doesn’t mean that the only way you can reach out to local businesses is by going door to door. Some of them have websites, Yelp! pages and even just an email in the Yellow Pages that you can send information to them.

Another thing that I recommended was not being pushy. I was asked if I had a closing sentence or line that I used to get businesses to sign up for my services. My reply is that I don’t. This is very contradictory to a lot of business marketing strategies and I understand that. I personally dislike a lot of things about marketing. One thing I really dislike is coming off like a used car salesman.

My personal philosophy is that a business knows what they need. They don’t need me to sell them on it. My purpose with pitching local businesses is to try to provide them with something that will add actual value to their company. If they believe the value is worth it then we will work together. I take a very money / sales last approach. I believe that money is just a byproduct of what I do. If I can provide a good services and add value to a company or business then money will come.

Learn from your peers

Peer Learning

One of the things that a lot of businesses have a hard time with is engaging and learning from their competition. We tend to have this mindset that it’s a battlefield and that our peers are the enemy. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Our world is connected in a way that was never possible before. There is more than enough work, sales, leads and opportunities to go around. We don’t need to treat one another like enemies. We need to treat each other like friends. If you lose a client or sale to another business owner it’s okay. I even encourage you to refer business to your competitors. I’ve done it before and will continue to do it.

Your peers also have valuable knowledge that you can use to grow your own business. Maybe they do something in there business that you can start doing too. I’m not saying you copy another business but you can take ideas and use them in a way that is unique to you.

Will you take the chance and increase your brand awareness by meeting with your peers?

How to communicate with your developer to get what you need


Have you ever had to deal with a developer that you felt just didn’t understand what your needs were? If you haven’t, you’re very lucky. I’ve heard so many people express their frustration about developers. I’ve also heard developers express their frustration with clients.

I believe that developers should be the ones who need to learn to communicate better with their clients. Many developers have a hard time with this because they speak completely different languages. I’ve heard developers use terms that I know for a fact your average person has no idea what that means. This means that clients are going to be lost in translation. Often times clients won’t speak up about not understand the developer. I could go into reasons why that is but that’s a totally separate article.

Learn a little about your project before beginning

In a general sense most people don’t want to learn anything about what a developer does or how they do it because they feel it is overly complex. This leads them to hire the developer in the first place and simply put all their trust and faith in them to deliver what they want.

The problem with this is that often times you don’t get what you want because you didn’t ask for the right thing. The developer looks at it like they did exactly what you asked and that it’s not their fault you didn’t understand what you were getting. You feel cheated and don’t understand why the developer didn’t understand you.

I’m going to tell you why the developer didn’t understand you. You explain yourself in terms of features. What you want the site to do, how you want to do it and what you want it to look like is how you explain it to your developer.

This is like going into a tailor shop and telling them what color and fabric to make you a suit with but not letting them take your measurements. You pick up the suit and it doesn’t fit, then you get mad. The suit is exactly what you asked for it just doesn’t fit you.

With the suit example, most people understand that a custom suit requires you to get measured. Most people don’t understand that a developer needs to understand how and why you need to do something not just what you want it to do or look like.

Understanding your needs from a development stand point


This can be difficult because you have to venture into the world of development and that’s not easy for everyone. It’s like having to take your car in for service but you have to learn about your engine, transmission system and timing belt before you do.

Isn’t the point of taking your car to a mechanic so that they can deal with it? Yes. But have you ever been charged for something you didn’t need? If you answer no, how do you know you haven’t? If you don’t know anything about cars how can you be sure you weren’t charged for something you didn’t need? You don’t.

You just know you get in your car, drive off and everything works fine. That’s because you just care about the end result.

The same is true for web development. Many people just want the site to do what they want and don’t want to bother with the particulars.

This is a problem though because you need to understand at least some things before venturing into this area. Here are some things you need to understand and research:

  • Hosting companies
  • What type of website do you need?
  • What options do you have for that type of website?
  • The more complicated the site, the more planning is required
  • How much time do you have to complete the project?
  • Will the website be done in stages?
  • What functionality is most important to you?

These are just a few things but ultimately the more information you have and give the better chance you have of getting a website that fits you.

Development is not an exact science

One thing that really creates friction between client and developer is that development isn’t linear. It doesn’t mean that you just go from point A to point Z with no interruptions.

A lot of times developers won’t speak up to a client because they’re afraid that if they have to go back and tell them they have to take a new approach the client will find them inferior or incompetent.

If your doctor came to you with a different diagnosis though would you find them inferior or incompetent? That’s why they call it practicing medicine.

The more complex the website development, the higher the chance of things having to change as time goes on. Understanding this before you start the project is very important.

The developer abandoned the project

This situation is one I’ve run across so many times. I’ve also heard from other developers they see it quite often too. My heart breaks for those who have been put in this particular situation. I know how much it sucks. My advice to you though is to not take it out on the next developer. Learn from the previous experience and take better precautions moving forward.

I recently had someone inquire about hiring me to fix some issues that a previous developer had done. Of course I wanted to approach the situation as delicately as possible. I told them I would take a look at things and get back with them.

After assessing the situation I literally cried. It was one of the hardest emails I have ever had to write to a potential client. The developer had stolen materials and the code itself was a complete rat’s nest.

I tell you this because this is one of the worst situations I’ve come across. However the general story is something I see far too often. The client not understanding certain things leads them to places that aren’t good. That does not mean that I am saying any of this was the clients fault. I’m simply stating that people need to be more prepared.

Developers need to practice the skill of communicating themselves to non-tech savvy people. I practice by talking to my mother and sister who are some of the least tech type people I know. I’m not even talking about web development specifically; I mean just technology in general.

If you can communicate yourself to people who have very little understanding of technology as a whole, you should have no problem communicating what you do to a client who has at least some idea of what they want.

3 Things that will improve your startup success

Increase Startup Success

I work with a ton of startups. I get the chance to see people and businesses grow from the ground up. It’s one of the most amazing things ever and I love that part of my job.

Over the years I have found that there are three things that will help improve the success of your startup. Sometimes one or two of these things are done but the third is left out. Other times none of them are done, which is the worst case in my opinion.

Here are the three things that you need to do in order to have a successful startup. When I say successful I could really say sustainable.

Planning for startup success


This is the most important thing you can do when thinking of starting up your business. The problem is that this is also the most overlooked portion.

When you create a startup you have a base idea and generally how you want to do things. This doesn’t qualify as a plan. This is just an idea. We can fill notebooks full of ideas but that doesn’t mean they’re a plan.

I think the best way to think about it is from The Art of War:

[su_quote cite=”Sun Tzu”]Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win[/su_quote]

You need to win first by planning what you’re going to do. You don’t need all the answers you just need a solid plan.

One of the best ways to start a plan is to write milestones or goals. Make these actionable pieces that you can realistically achieve. Try to avoid writing things related to monetary gain. When you focus on money alone you will lose site of the overall goal of your startup. Let money be a byproduct of what you do.

Don’t write out goals that are extremely end oriented either. It is okay to dream but you don’t want to include these in your initial planning. The reason for this is two twofold.

First you need to be realistic and understand that your startup might not go anywhere. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) over half of startups close in the first five years.

The second reason is because your plan and end goal will likely change as you start to grow. Having your ultimate goal in mind or in a notebook is fine but don’t include it in your planning process.

Budgeting your startup


You’ve heard it said before that in order to make money you have to spend money. That’s not exactly true. Reach what Syed Balkhi says about How to Execute Your Startup Idea with $0.

The reality is that most startups have little to no money. In many ways it is the whole reason they are starting their venture in the first place. This is why I said in the planning stage not to focus on money. It is very difficult for startups to not focus on just making money right away.

I think the thought process is that of what I stated before. They believe that they need money so they can make more.

Money is great, don’t get me wrong. What is even greater though is what need you’re filling. If you put all your focus on that you won’t be putting the horse in front of the cart.

For startups that do have money you need to be extremely careful in what you spend it on. I have seen so many times startups with funding try to just throw money at something and expect results. It doesn’t work that way. All you’re really doing is giving away a very important tool that you have in your toolbox.

Self made millionaires didn’t get that way by throwing their money around. Actually most of them are quite frugal and you would never even know they were millionaires. That’s because they’re smart about their money. They had to work really hard to get it; they’re not just going to give it away.

If you want to hear a story about a startup that made the mistake of doing business the way you’re traditionally taught, spend money to make money, check out Mike Michalowicz and his book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.

Progress your startup incrementally


When you’re at the bottom you really only have one place to go. How far up you go is dependent on your planning (see why this is so important?). When you’re climbing the ladder of success in your industry you need to take it one rung at a time. Sure there are times where outside influences can cause you to skip a few rungs but don’t plan on that happening to you.

Take your progression one step at a time. When you complete your first set of goals then re-evaluate where you are and the money you have. Take that and make a new plan and start the whole process over again.

Keep your steps small and reasonable. Make sure that your goals are actionable and not focus on money. If you continue to provide good services or products money will come in.

If you haven’t already I suggest you start building a brand strategy. This is incredibly important as you continue to grow. This is also different from your previous planning. Building a brand will help you to stand the test of time where as your business strategy is what is going to help you continue to make money and grow on that end. At some point the two will start to merge together.

When you’re ready to start building your brand strategy let me know and I can help you get started.


Branding simplified for the beginning business

Branding simplified

Sometimes I feel like people look at branding like they do a legal document. For the most part they think they understand it but really it just sounds like a bunch of confusing sentences. I want to take some time to simplify that and break down some of that confusion by stating things in a very simple way.

I think one of the things that confuse people the most is what qualifies as a brand. I admit, it can be confusing because there can be some gray area. Traditionally a brand is a company or a product. That’s because the word brand really just means having a mark on something. Think of it as an identifier. It is a way to separate one company or product from another. Not much different than when cattlemen used to physically brand symbols on their livestock to distinguish it from other livestock.

Now day’s brands are extended to other things as well. Some will argue that this is not true; perhaps even myself, but none the less it exists in the world we live in now. Things like businesses, organizations, movements, ideas and even people are considered brands now. The concept of environmentalism is considered a brand. Most people wouldn’t realize this but in many ways it is. It is a way of separating out one thing from another. We could go on about that but it would require a totally different article.

Branding terminology

Small business branding services

If you’ve been around the branding industry for a while you’ve likely heard a lot of terms that might not be as self explanatory as you would like. Here are some terms and a brief description of those terms.

  • Branding – Is the process a brand uses to separate itself from others, reach an audience and provide material
  • Brand marketing – This is a piece of branding and is what a brand uses to reach its audience. The plan and actions it takes to provide materials to its audience.
  • Brand identity – Also a part of branding, this is everything from the logo to the mission of a brand. It is what identifies them in a unique way.
  • Brand strategy – Think of this like a blueprint for a house. This is the building plan of the brand. It is what they look to for guidance when making decisions about their brand.

These descriptions are a basic understanding of the terms. There is so much more that could be said about them but right now it’s to get the basic concept of them.

A brand is like a person

I think that the simplest way to understand a brand is to look at it like a person. It has a voice, friends, a job or something it lives to do and is unique in how it looks. Just like the body is made up of cells a brand is made up of materials. Internal and external materials make up a brand.

Brands have values, visions and goals. It communicates to the world in a specific language and engages certain people. It strives to be viewed in a positive light and ultimately wants to be loved. To achieve this it creates for itself an identity. Just like what you and I choose to wear or how we style our hair.

Humans are no different than a brand. Looking at a brand like a person is a really easy way to understand how it operates on a larger scale. It’s not just one thing, it is many things. You are not defined exclusively by that birthmark you have any more than a brand is by its logo.

The brand process

Many times people get confused about the process of a brand or branding. That’s because in many ways it’s a long road. You can find loads of articles on the internet discussing why certain things and people don’t need a brand. For instance there are a lot of articles that state that small businesses don’t need a brand or branding services. Personally I think that’s goofy but the general thought process behind this is that small business branding is a waste of time due to the size and goals of that business.

Traditionally most large corporations take years to develop their brand. Small businesses don’t have that kind of time or money to do that. It’s also believed that they won’t reap the same benefit from it that a larger company will.

Brands in the past were really nothing more than a company who created something, offered a service or product and as the world began to grow and change they needed a way to set them apart. This is why branding because so important to them.

Really they were creating a brand from the start; it just might not have necessarily been their original goal. That’s another reason why small business branding isn’t recommended by certain industry leaders. Their belief is that you provide a good service or product first and if it’s viable then you begin to develop your brand.

I think that thought process is a little wrong, at least for this day in age. With the introduction of the internet we’re able to reach the world. A small business could easily boom overnight and go viral. If that business didn’t develop their brand first then they’re going to have to backtrack to do it, on top of trying to meet the demands of their new found fame.

There are so many resources out there to help you start the foundation of your brand that I believe it’s silly not to at least have something in place before you launch your business. There are free resources available to you or extremely low cost resources to get you started. There is no reason you shouldn’t at least start the brand process.

Brands really have two aspects


Brands and branding can be divided into two internal categories, design and marketing. Design helps build the foundation of a brand and visually sets it apart from everyone else. Marketing is what pushes the brand forward and keeps them on track.

There are aspects that don’t really fit into either of these categories but they could. Each brand is different and there might be more aspects to it than these two. We’re just trying to get the simple basics out so we’re going to stick to these two.

Design is usually the first portion of a brand and doesn’t generally change over time. If it does it’s not very much. Design in the long run is really only an add-on more than a sustained thing. Brands will need more designs as it grows but it starts with a design foundation.

Marketing for a brand is what keeps it going forward. This is forever changing and ultimately is what keeps a brand popular and obtaining more of something. I say more of something instead of profit because most brands don’t seek to just make money. They seek to grow themselves, their audience and their experiences. Marketing plays a huge role in this. That’s why large brands around the world spend so much money on marketing.

 A brand is a grind

The last thing I want to touch on is the fact that having a brand means you’re going to have to commit for the long haul. It’s going to take time, there’s no quick way about it. You might be able to create a business that has quick success financially but that doesn’t mean that you’ve built a brand.

There is so much more to branding than what I’ve covered in this article. I tried to keep it as simple and straight forward as possible. The good part about it though is that you have a base understanding of brands and branding. As you continue to grow your brand you will discover so much more and even things that are unique to just your brand.

Start engaging your audience visually to tell your brand story

Tell your brand story

Earlier this week I wrote about the WP REST API and how it’s changing how we develop websites. I explained that it’s important for everyone, not just web developers.

Today I want to talk to you about how powerful this shift can be on your brands story.

Up to this point brands have had to work really hard to tell their story. Of all of the brands you consume how many of their stories do you really know? Likely not many.

That’s because telling your brand story has been rather hard. To most people it’s like being back in middle school learning about a bunch of people and cultures in the world you really don’t care about. It’s just not that fun for the majority of people. What if it wasn’t though? What if you could tell your brand story and not bore people to tears?

The game is changing

Mario Kart Website

Recently there has been a surge of popularity of a particular website because of its design. Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t. It’s the story of a video game called Mario Kart.

Not only do people love the game but the website is just amazing. It’s something that most people aren’t used to seeing. It’s interactive, informative, tells a story and most of all really fun to look at.

Take a look at the website and spend a few minutes browsing the history of the game. Go ahead, I don’t mind waiting. If you’re not back in five minutes I’ll just wait longer. I know how awesome it is.

This website has earned a lot of attention, as it should. The design is amazing and so is the game. What’s even more amazing though is how it tells the history of the Mario Kart brand. It’s like learning without even knowing you’re learning.

Get ready for amazing

I don’t think this is the last we’re going to see of websites like this. While these types of sites have been around for a while they’re not as common. This is because they’re very difficult to create and the mass of people are used to more traditional sites.

Imagine if more websites were engaging like this though. I’m not even talking about the whole site but the portions that tell your brand story as well as other informative pieces that tend to come off bland or dull.

The internet is changing rapidly. Technology is growing at impressive rates. The way we communicate, the way we digest information and the way we interact with one another.

How amazing would it be if you could tell your story in a creative way like Nintendo did with Mario Kart? The connections you could make with people. The emotional responses you could generate. It’s incredible.

Other brands are doing it too

As I mentioned before there aren’t many brands out there who are taking the plunge to engage in a dynamic way like this. There are a few though. Here are some other examples of amazing story telling.

Find Your Way to Oz

Oz Website

Google Guidebook

Google Guidebook

Ben the Bodyguard

Ben the Bodyguard

NASA Prospect


Mutant Labs


You Waste A Lot of Time at Work

You Waste Time at Work

These are just a few examples of amazing websites that tell stories and are highly interactive. These types of sites are extremely hard to come by for your average brand. Most of these types of websites would cost quite a lot to develop. That’s assuming you can even find a good enough team or individual to do them.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. It just means it’s going to require a lot more planning on your part. Even if just part of your website is interactive and fun that’s okay. To stand out you have to be unique. Find unique ways to tell your story.

Your website can engage so many more users


A few weeks ago I got the chance to watch a video on that was a presentation given by Jack Lenox. The presentation he was giving was about the WordPress REST API. The presentation is centered around theme development using WP REST API.

You might not be a developer and right now might be wondering why this has anything to do with you. If you run a business website (or really any website) it very much applies to you.

Imagine for a minute having a website where a user can browse your website without having to load different pages. As soon as they land on your website all of your content is loaded. This is extremely important for mobile browsers.

Now imagine that their internet connection cuts out. This would normally mean that they wouldn’t be able to continue browsing your website. They leave and don’t come back.

But what if they could keep browsing your website even without an internet connection? They might not even notice their internet cut out because they’re browsing your content directly from their browser.

How much more engagement would you receive? How much more of an impact would you have on that user? A lot more than you would if they had to leave your website behind because of a slow connection or a drop in service.

Follow the white rabbit


As I listened to Jack make his presentation I had this overwhelming feeling like he was Morpheus sitting in front of Neo asking him if he wants to take the red pill or blue pill. I wanted that red pill because I wanted to stay in Wonderland just a little longer.

Follow me while I take you on a journey through the possibilities of what this means for your website.

We live in a world where our technology is controlled by apps. It seems that almost everything is going in the direction of applications. It makes sense that web development and websites would follow. I mean right now one of the biggest design choices for websites is the use of flat design. That’s because so many users are used to this application, flat design feel in the other technologies they consume.

What if you turned your website into an application? Currently a very popular type of web design is what is known as a single page website. It’s a long, scrolling website that all fits on one page. The idea behind this is to keep the user on one page and not have to navigate around. It keeps it simple and most of all interactive.

In some ways it’s a simpler solution to what I posed above. Allowing a user to view your website without having to leave or drop off.

Start telling your story in a whole new way

Whether you realize it or not your website tells a story. Each link to a new page is like a new page in a book. Getting users to turn that page can be extremely hard. Imagine how much more difficult that task becomes when users can’t even load the content because it’s not there.

The REST API really solves this problem. It uses a system that basically loads all of the content directly into your users browser and lets them keep it there so they don’t have to keep loading new pages. As Jack puts it:

[su_quote cite=”Jack Lenox”]You’re never having to completely pull things down and put things back up again.[/su_quote]

What he means by this is that traditionally the way websites operate when you click a link to a new page is that it deconstructs the current page and then constructs the new page. This process takes time. With the REST API it’s seamless.

Another point he makes in his talk is about the transition between content. You can easily transition between content almost like scenes in a movie.

A live example of this type of structure is a website named Quartz. The content is loaded on the first load and is really smooth in its transition. It looks like a website but operates in a totally different way.

Why all of this is important

As I mentioned before, even if you’re not a developer, if you have a website you need to understand this technology because chances are it’s going to be new way websites are put together. The advantages of having a highly engaging website is huge. I’m going to go more into that in my next post so make sure to give it a read.

Websites that allow users to have higher engagement, easier load times and access to your content easier (especially on mobile) is really the best thing about the WP REST API.

A lesson in personal branding done right


Personal branding can be a hard thing to accomplish because everyone has a different personality. Some people, no matter what, will just not respond to a person or their brand no matter what they do based on personal feelings, values or beliefs.

The same can be said for corporate branding but a corporation is made up of more than one person. One person doesn’t dictate or control the entirety of the brand. We could argue that personal branding can fall under the same guidelines but for now we’re just going to stick to these generalized view points.

That being said I wanted to take some time to give you an example of someone who is doing personal branding really, really well. I want to give you an example to look at because a lot of my posts are focused around ideas, thoughts and actions that you have to take yourself. I’m a firm believer in learning from those who are good at something. If you want to get better at golf, start watching Rory Mcilroy. If you want to get better at personal branding, start watching Chris Lema.

Why I chose Chris Lema


Chris Lema Website

I could have picked a lot of people to showcase but I chose Chris for a specific reason. I chose Chris because of the level of trust he instills in his audience. When you visit his website you will see a quote at the top:

[su_quote cite=” Mika (@ipstenu)”]Chris Lema doesn’t sell you on himself. He sells you on yourself.[/su_quote]

I couldn’t agree with that statement more. That is exactly what he does.

Before I go any further I need to make a few things clear. I don’t know Chris personally. I don’t think Chris even really knows who I am. I have no connection to him other than I love to read his blog.

That being said I want to express why I think Chris is doing such an amazing job. I don’t trust most people, especially those on the internet. I also don’t respect people unless I feel they’ve earned it. I don’t see a title and automatically believe that person deserves respect. For me, you have to earn it.

Chris has done just that. I don’t even know Chris and I would trust him with watching my children. That takes a huge amount of trust and respect for me. There are people I know in person I wouldn’t say that about.

Honesty builds trust. Trust builds a brand.

I do not know what Chris’s brand strategy is. He’s never shared it with me. Everything I’m about to describe is based just on observations I’ve taken from his brand.

The key things to building your brand are:

  • Brand vision
  • Brand values
  • Brand promise
  • Brand story
  • Knowing your audience

These key ingredients make up your brand. Chris is able to project all of it through his website, speaking and personal engagements.

Chris’s Vision

[su_quote cite=”Chris Lema”] is an Educational Site My Site,, educates people on WordPress and provides coaching for online enterprises – particularly startups.[/su_quote]

That’s directly from his website here. It is a great vision with longevity and purpose. Exactly what your brands vision should be.

His values come across in his blog posts. Some of them can even be found directly from his disclosure and TOS pages.

Chris’s Values

Chris values cooperation, teaching / learning WordPress, empowering individuals to be their best possible selves, he believes that everyone should help those who have less knowledge than you to build a better community.

These are just some of the values I’ve seen Chris imply and directly state over the years. They’re the backbone of what he does and how he presents his brand.

Chris’s Promise

I think that his promise is summed up by the quote on his home page. He sells you on yourself. It’s like someone else being just as concerned with or more concerned with your success than you. It’s like having a supporting friend that you didn’t even know about.

Chris’s Story

This particular part is something that I find the most interesting about Chris. You can read about him on his speaker kit page. However if you follow his content long enough he drips pieces of his story to you. He does this because he’s an amazing presenter that understands the importance of storytelling.

Chris has found a way to connect with his audience in a way so many people can’t. He is personable. He’s real. He’s relatable. All of this comes through in his story.

Chris knows his audience

Chris has the ability to reach people. He can do this because he knows who he’s talking to. He’s even written about how you can do the same thing. He understands what it means to reach his audience. He talks about it in segmentation among other topics on his blog.

He gets it. He gets people. Interestingly enough he didn’t always though. He’s expressed many times that he’s felt inadequate. He talks about the impostor syndrome in great lengths on his blog.

I think one of the most amazing things that Chris can do for his audience is inspire emotion. Emotions are powerful things. He’s able to draw that out of people. I have a confession to make about this actually. Chris has made me cry before. I read his post Even if you don’t agree, I think you are awesome. Here’s why. The video is really what got me. It was, for lack of a better word, awesome.

Learn more. Grow more. Discover more.

I cannot encourage you enough to follow Chris and watch what he does. Not only is he just an awesome guy but he has knowledge that you need.

Recently he posted about CaboPress. He’s going to be there along with some other amazing people that I could have also covered in this article. The knowledge you will gain just by being there and learning from him is far more than the price you will pay to attend. Personally I would pay 10x the amount to go. I’d also nerd out and ask for his autograph and a picture but that’s just me. Due to life circumstances I won’t be able to attend this year but I really hope to in the future. I hope if you have the chance you take it, you won’t regret it.

*Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with CaboPress, Chris or any of the speakers. I get nothing if you go other than the satisfaction of knowing that you will grow as a person and a business.


Avoid hating yourself tomorrow for changing hosting


Have you ever had one of those moments where you feel like Jerry Maguire, have a bad slice of pizza and make a rash decision? The next morning you wake up and regret what you did? I think we’ve all sat around at 2 in the morning watching infomercials and part of us is convinced that we need whatever it is that they’re selling.

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The problem though is that we might need change, we might need that thing that makes our lives better. The real question though is do we need it right now?

Recently I changed hosting companies. I also changed my email service. I’ve wanted to do it for years but my biggest reason for not doing it is money. The time came a few weeks back where that was no longer an issue. I had the money and I knew it was time to invest.

The problem was that I didn’t actually plan for it. I made a rash decision to just do it. To be clear I’m totally happy that I did it. I love my new hosting company and email service. It’s one of the best moves I’ve made with my business in years. I just didn’t plan correctly.

Build a plan for business changes

I spent years working for a migration company that specialized in migrating your current website to a self hosted WordPress website. We would also move hosts if needed, which generally it did. Before we moved anything we created a plan to help facilitate the process. We couldn’t have our clients websites come down for hours or days at a time without them having access or at least being prepared for it.

The other really big issue was that most of the clients had their email accounts wrapped up with their hosting. This meant when the website went down, so did the email. This is a horrible idea and Carrie Dils writes it so much better than me.

In order for us to do the move we had to go through the process, work with the client to pick the proper time for the migration and then ultimately do the move. This whole process took weeks and in some cases months to do.

I chose not to plan my move at all. I just did it. This was a horrible idea. I had days where my website was down, my posts were messed up once I did move, the database was a mess and the list goes on. I made a rash choice to move it and I paid for it. Luckily my email moved over just fine and within an hour.

Make the choice for the right reasons

I see a lot of people that just want something to be the way they want it to be. The problem is that doesn’t always work. When making a choice for your brand or business you have to be able to accept limitations. This can be really hard for people to accept.

Technology has its limitations. Sometimes the thing you want to do just can’t be done yet. That’s alright because there might be a solution that is somewhere in the middle. The thing you have to decide is if it’s something you’re willing to accept.

I love Gmail. I used to host my email with GoDaddy who also used to host my website. I would just forward all of my email to my personal Gmail account and run my emails from there. The problem was that I had to log into GoDaddy and clear out my email on a regular basis because if not it wouldn’t send anymore emails because it was full.

The other problem I had was that a lot of emails got missed in being forwarded. This was horrible. I mean I could have lost thousands of dollars worth of projects over the years because a few emails didn’t make it through. It also meant that if my site was down, so was that email.

I moved to Gmail hosting through Google Apps for Work. It costs me $5 a month to have the account but it means I get all of my emails with a lot more storage space as well.

I’m not promoting Google Apps for Work. Carrie’s post has some recommendations in it that you should check out as well as do your own research. Even GoDaddy offered Office 360 as a solution for my email but I just didn’t want to stay with them. This was a personal choice.

Put the right tools in your toolbox


Ultimately changing my hosting wasn’t going to be a magic cure all. I had to change my email and I needed a service for image optimization. Not just for personal reasons but for my clients as well.

I chose to go with Pagely as my hosting company. I can’t even tell you how amazing their tech support is or how awesome their servers run. The tools they offer, the service they provide and the support they give was well worth the investment for me.

Again, this is not me being promotional. Recommendations for hosting companies can be found everywhere. Chris Lema actually just wrote about this and I think you should give his post a read over.

I chose Pagely because it met my needs. I wanted to be on a great server. I didn’t want to be charged extra for page views. I also wanted a CDN that was wrapped into my hosting. Lastly I wanted managed WordPress support. Not because I can’t do it myself but because I would rather someone else who specializes in it to do it.

I needed an image compressor as well. Mainly because WP was having issues with a change in policy that Yahoo! put into play and I just felt it was time to move to something else. I purchased a license from I have my reasons but more importantly I felt it would be the right tool for what I needed.

There will be clean up

Whenever you move hosting or change up how you do things you will always have to clean up some things. Moving to Pagely meant that I was going to have a much faster site. Well since I didn’t migrate correctly I’m having to do some cleaning up. Right now my Google Page Speed insights are showing that I don’t have optimized images, but I do. It’s also showing that I have above the fold CSS and JS that’s not optimized, but I don’t.

I’m currently working through this but it’s a process. If you choose to move you will likely have the same types of things happening to you and that’s alright.

Just remember it’s not about perfection it’s about progress (The Equalizer was a great movie!).

Stop worrying about people that hate your brand

People that hate your brand

I have mentioned before that I served in Iraq as a combat medic for the Marines. During that time a lot of things happened. As you can imagine a lot of it wasn’t very good. Actually it was downright horrible.

In my particular unit we served about 50,000 people in the year we were there. Of all those people the only ones I remember are the ones we lost. I couldn’t tell you a single person that we saved or sent back home alive.

The reason I couldn’t tell you is because my life’s purpose was to save lives. When I fell short of that I couldn’t forgive myself. I wouldn’t let it go. I constantly questioned if there was more I could have done for them. Was I too tired? Did I miss something? Did I not have enough knowledge? The list goes on.

It’s been eleven years since I served in Iraq and to this day I can close my eyes and see their faces. While I still have guilt I’ve learned to live with the fact that while we did lose some, the amount of people we saved was far greater.

Overcoming that negative experience

I understand that the story I just shared is a far cry from the feelings most people have when they have a negative experience with their brand. The fact is though is it is still regret, fear, guilt or whatever else you want to call it.

Too often in business we focus on what we’re not doing right, what we’ve done wrong or what we could have done different. Our focus is so heavy that we forget about all of the other good things we’ve done with our brand.

If you worry about people that hate your brand you need to stop. Those people make up such a small part of your overall audience that listening to just them is going to do you no good. Don’t get me wrong; listen to the negative feedback you get about your brand. That doesn’t mean that you have to beat yourself up because a small group of people just personally don’t like it.

Instead focus your thoughts, time and energy on the people who do care about your brand. Build on them, treat them right and be thankful that they care enough about you to keep you in business. At the end of the day they are the ones that you need to think about.

People forget the longer it has been

As time passes thoughts fade. It’s just the nature of human beings. This means you and your audience will both start to forget the longer it’s been. Negative experiences will eventually fade from thought. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Dog The Bounty Hunter, Martha Stewart, Paula Deen, or these celebrities that did horrible things we forgot about.

That’s right. People forget. I know Paula Deen was a little more recent but people aren’t talking about it all over the internet anymore. It only happened (at the time of writing this) a few months ago. That is how quickly people forget.

It’s not just with scandals and celebrities either. Major world events have been forgotten. How many people do you think can name the date that Pearl Harbor was bombed? When the Romanovs were murdered? Or more shockingly that people don’t remember 9/11.

It is in our nature to forget things. We have to learn to take those negative experiences with our brand and remove them from our memory. It’s not just for our own benefit but for those who we serve.

The people that hate your brand

Do not feed the trolls

Let’s take a look at the people who hate on your brand. Generally speaking these people can be lumped into groups.

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  • Bullies – There are people who just like to push others around. Bullies, as we’ve seen from recent studies, do it because they’ve been bullied themselves. Misery loves company.
  • Jerks – I would use a much more colorful term but you can insert whatever you like. These types of people are just rude no matter what. Some thrive on being right (or thinking they are), some are just hurt inside and want to make others feel miserable.
  • Trolls – If you’ve been around the internet long enough you will understand what a troll is. If you don’t, allow me to educate you. Urban Dictionary defines internet trolls as:[su_quote]A person whose sole purpose in life is to seek out people to argue with on the internet over extremely trivial issues. Such arguments can happen on blogs, Facebook, Myspace and a host of others. The best thing you can do to fight an internet troll is to not answer..or report them.[/su_quote]
  • Disgruntled People – This category is the only one you need to give attention to. These people have legitimate reasons to dislike you. Unfortunately these people often times are here because they expected something that you didn’t promise but they think you did.


As you can see from this list the only people you need to concern yourself with are those who are disgruntled for a legitimate reason. If you messed up or wronged them in some way then you can make it right, and you should. Worrying about them though for lengthy periods of time isn’t going to help you.

They might not like you but they keep coming back

Have you ever had a time where you had a negative experience (or several) with a brand but you still end up using them anyway? I think almost everyone has at some point. This happens because sometimes that brand just meets your need unlike any other. You might not like everything about them but you’re willing to put up with the bad for some good.

Let me give you an example of a brand that I dislike but not specifically the brand itself. Blizzard the video game company that has made hit titles such as Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo and Dota. Overall I don’t mind the company; I like what they’ve put out. I don’t agree with everything they do and I think they could do things better.

I just wrote about Blizzard a few weeks ago and about all the things they’re doing right. I wrote the article because I believe that overall they’re doing the best job for the most people. That doesn’t mean that they’re catering to my specific wants and needs though. This makes me dislike them, or things about them.

I’ve been a World of Warcraft player for years now. One of the things I dislike the most about that specific game is that in the beginning people were (generally) very helpful, nice, non-trollish and fun to be around. Now when I play, I try to avoid all public communication as much as possible.

Is this really Blizzards fault? No. I’d say the internet in general is to blame for it. If WoW had not become so popular and Blizzard hadn’t appealed to so many people though, maybe those issues wouldn’t exist. That is where my brain takes me with disliking them.

No matter what you will have people that hate your brand. You can either worry about it which does no good or you can start focusing on what’s important and take steps to improve.

What negative experiences have you had with your own brand? Other brands?

9 things to know before starting an online small business

Starting an online small business

When I was thinking of starting an online small business I had no idea what I was doing. I was lucky enough to have some helpful people who guided me down the right path. Not everyone has that though.

I want to share with you some of the things I learned early on in my business as well as what I’ve learned up to this point. I believe that everyone who is thinking of starting an online business should consider the following things before taking the plunge.

#1 You will work harder than you ever have before

Over the years when I meet new people the natural question of what I do for a living comes up. I always found it easier to just say that I run a small business online out of my home. When I would tell people this 99.98% of the time the response was always the same. “Wow that’s awesome; I wish I could do that.”

I think what they really think is that it would be great to stay home all day and not have to be bossed around by superiors that you don’t agree with. I hate to break it to them but it’s not as beautiful as they believe.

I usually then explain to them that owning your own business is great but it takes a lot of work. Then I explain the reality of it and it doesn’t sound so great. When you own your own business online you have to be the CEO, the janitor, the accountant, the scheduler and every single job in the company. Even if you have employees you wear a lot of hats. Get ready for the grind.

#2 Throwing money at your startup will not make it successful

If you’re lucky you have money when you start up your business. Most people don’t though. Those that do sometimes have the misconception that having money to start means that you’re bound to be successful because you can invest.

Making quick decisions about what to do with the money you do have is not what you want to do. If you can’t justify buying something than you don’t need it, no matter how small of an investment you think it might be.

#3 No money means you have to get creative

Having no money to take your business online doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means you’re going to have to refer back to the first item on this list. You have to figure it out. I highly suggest reading what Mike Michalowicz has to say in The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.

What you don’t have money for you have to have to get for free. Free means you have limited options but you still have options. Do what you can with what you have and grow it from there.

#4 Learn as much as you can about online marketing

Technically I could say this about social media, blogging, branding, web development and a whole lot of other things. As I said before though you’re going to be wearing a lot of hats and won’t have time to learn everything about everything. If there is one thing you should learn though it is about online marketing.

Even if you hire an online expert to do your marketing for you, you need to study it yourself. That doesn’t mean you start telling your marketing professional what to do but it helps you to understand how, why and what marketing is online. Without an online audience your small business isn’t going to go anywhere, so learn what you can.

#5 Be different in the right ways

Recently I watched the movie Patch Adams. I’ve seen it before but I love watching it when I can. It embodies what I loved so much about being a medic in the Navy. I cared more about the people than I did about the medicine.

Take the time to read the story of Patch Adams on his website and you will see that he was able to run a free clinic for 12 years.  Eventually they had to close due to not enough funding. That didn’t stop them for 12 years though. The people they reached, the lives they touched and the things they did mattered.

He was unique. He was different. He chose to do what people thought was crazy. It didn’t stop him though because he knew what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it. He found a way and you need to find yours. Don’t be different just to be different, do it the right way; your way.

#6 Find the love in what you do

Any entrepreneur out there will tell you that it wasn’t all glitz and glamour getting to where they’re at now. There are going to be things you dislike doing. You are going to have to do them anyway. Maybe the entire online community is just something you don’t want to reach but you will have to in order to take your business online.

As you grow your business online you will find things you enjoy. Embrace those things and hold onto them. Learn to find love in what you do and you will be happier for it. If you’re not happy in what you’re doing why do it at all?

#7 You will feel like a big ball of suck

It’s going to happen, it’s inevitable. There will come a time in your online business where you will feel like you just can’t do it and that everyone else does it so much better. I feel like this is one of the most important things to learn in the very beginning of your business. Acknowledge that you’re going to fail, be bad and mess up.

Take time to really think about how it’s going to feel when that happens. That way when it does you can realize that you knew it was going to happen and you can move on quickly. Instead of focusing on the negative focus on what you learned and how you can avoid feeling that way in the future. Just listen to Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda, he knows what he’s talking about.

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#8 Your success is not determined by someone else’s highlight reel

This can lead to number seven on the list. If you constantly judge yourself by what others in your industry are doing than you’re never going to find your own way. Just listen to this quote:

[su_quote cite=”Albert Einstein”]”Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”[/su_quote]

The world’s smartest man really knew what he was talking about. We can’t judge what we do based on what others are doing.

There is a time and place to assess your competition. When you do it though don’t allow it to belittle your success or what you do.

#9 Be happy

Having a business is great. Making money is fine. Being your definition of successful is also an amazing thing. None of it matters though if you’re not happy in your life.

This particular tip is not in reference to happiness with your business. I’m talking about being happy in life. Your relationships are important to your happiness as a person. Don’t let your business stand in the way of that happiness. Be happy in life and that will carry over to your business success.

As my mother always said:

[su_quote cite=”My Mom”]”Life is all about love and relationships.”[/su_quote]