009: Website Care Plans with Lisa Stambaugh

In episode 9 of Women in WP, we talk to Lisa Stambaugh about her impressive length of time in the industry, moving from engineering to web development, being one of the few women in the industry, writing the book on hiring a web designer, and her transition from web development to website care and support.

About Lisa: BSEE/CS, MSCS. Web Diva® for 20+ years. Knitting enthusiast. Curly girl. Cookie artiste. Obsessive wordsmither. Musical theatre devotee. Writer at the GoDaddy Blog. Author of “Web Diva Wisdom: How to Find, Hire, and Partner with the Right Web Designer for You.” Married 39 years to a now-retired software engineer who worked in satellite operations. 2 adult children (one engineer, one veterinarian), 1 grandson.

Find Lisa Stambaugh: Website | Twitter | Book

Lisa Stambaugh
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
009: Website Care Plans with Lisa Stambaugh

Show Notes

People, places, and things mentioned in today’s episode:


Angela B:                                 00:01                       Welcome to women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog design develop and more in the WordPress community.

Angela B:                                 00:13                       Welcome to episode nine of Women in WP. I’m Angela Bowman.

Angela B:                                 00:14                       I’m Amy Masson.

Tracy A:                                    00:18                       And I’m Tracy apps.

Angela B:                                 00:21                       Our guest today is Lisa Stambaugh who has 20 years’ plus years experience in web design and development. She’s built almost 700 websites and has written one book and writes articles for GoDaddy Garage. We are delighted to have you here today, Lisa.

Lisa S:                                        00:36                       Thanks. I’m excited to join the fun.

Angela B:                                 00:39                       We’d like to start off each episode by asking our guests to tell us about their journey into WordPress. How did you get started?

Lisa S:                                        00:48                       Um, okay. If I can give sort of the very big picture. I finished high school 20 years before web design was a job and I was an engineer for about 20 years. I have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in computer science. So I worked for about 20 years in high tech and one of my later jobs, I was the director of it at a big company and that was the mid nineties in websites were a new thing. And they said, you must have one. And we were like, okay, guess we’ll learn how to do that. And so I along with, you know, everybody else in the department, I was managing like, quick, let’s learn some HTML and let’s figure out what the heck we’re doing. And um, then it became sort of a side hobby for me. It’s like, oh, this is fine.

Lisa S:                                        01:31                       I’ll do a site for my kid’s school and I’ll do a site for the nonprofit I’m on the board of. And I did a site for my father lies company and they were probably the only, you know, manufacturing shop in the country that had a website in those days because those guys didn’t know what they were doing about that. Um, and then when I decided to leave the high tech world web design and some other consulting and related things was a really good freelance business. So I was doing websites and FrontPage 95, which people who remember that are like, how is this even possible if that was a tool? And then moved to Dreamweaver, then moved to WordPress. So that was kind of, it was kind of a long route to get there, but never look back. And I will tell you interestingly that when I used to, in the days when I was doing proposals for new sides and I’d say, well, we’re using Dreamweaver, and then at some point I said, we can do dream Dreamweaver or we could do WordPress.

Lisa S:                                        02:25                       Here’s the pros and cons of both. And there’s obviously now a pretty good sales picture on WordPress, but at the time people didn’t know what it was or my clients didn’t know what it was. And so I’d have to kind of give this song and dance to, to say, you make the choice, but secretly on whispering in their ear saying, let’s go this way. And that at some point I stopped giving people a choice. I said, that’s it. I’m just specializing in this. And full speed ahead. Yeah. So it was a long path, but I never looked back. And again, I’m very happy to have made that choice.

Angela B:                                 02:57                       That’s a common path to take. FrontPage, Dreamweaver, WordPress path. It’s, it’s many that have gone down that path.

Tracy A:                                    03:07                       I didn’t do FrontPage but I was doing, hand coding, like HTML, CSS, and then just taking WordPress and just like popping it in there. And that works. It’s kind of all right.

Amy M:                                     03:19                       Yeah, I did HTML. Um, when Dreamweaver was Go Live, I was a Go Live person, you know, it’s no more.

Angela B:                                 03:27                       With several hundred WordPress sites under your belt, what have you found to be your favorite tools either for your business or plugins for managing websites and are you having to manage many websites these days?

Lisa S:                                        03:45                       Well, one thing I will say is I’m, I do not currently manage all of the sites I’ve ever built. So several years ago, and I’m sure you’ve heard this from other people, I instituted a more formal care plan service, let’s say. Uh, and I said, uh, you know, if you want to stay with me, I’ve been managing your site, doing updates, whatever. If you want to stay with me now you have to sign up for this additional package of a services, backups, security, apply, monitoring, all the plugin updates. All this stuff that you would expect. And I actually lost some people at that time because they didn’t want to pay for, I was doing this many of this, went to this backend stuff for free and billing them for the work too, at work on their site. And when I said, now I want you to pay me for this backend stuff, why should I do it for free?

Lisa S:                                        04:36                       It’s by the way, very important stuff. I lost some people and that’s fine. That was, you know, they make their informed decisions. Some of them came back months and more than that later and said, my site’s been hacked. What do I do? And I said, oh gosh, too bad. But by the way, I did. I know I actually, if somebody leaves me, I save a backup so I can restore it to that backup. But if somebody else was, and it was right after that, I can’t really help them recover that. So, um, oh, so anyway, so in terms of managing, you know, I have a set now of about 140 or so that I have ongoing care and feeding, including my own sites. Uh, you asked about tools I think, and uh, one of the things I decided I’m kind of early on in my WordPress journey is that I wanted to, as you say, put together a suite of stuff that I could be pretty good at and that of course would make me more efficient and more reliable.

Lisa S:                                        05:37                       And one of the things I went with was Genesis, if you’re familiar with that by StudioPress. So Genesis is basically, you know, a set of theme was like the mothership theme and all the bolt on other themes. And they had at the time, what I’ve thought was, you know, great bulletin networking system, there were other developers, there were plugins and I looked at several other comparable platforms at the time, but I said, you know what, I like this one. I’m going to go all in. I bought the entire set of themes, which at the time was probably only a couple hundred bucks, a few hundred bucks. Um, I’ve got them all too. And then you can get new new ones as they come up. And what I really liked about using that system, you know, I’m sure we’ve all had this, somebody comes to you and says, here’s a theme.

Lisa S:                                        06:29                       I found that I really like, it’s exactly what I want and I look at it and go, first of all, I don’t like the way it looks. Secondly, this is some no name guy. He may not support it if there’s a bug with the next time we’re WordPress’s updated, there’s no other community of people using it that I could reach out to. And so I really liked, uh, I, I really took the approach that if somebody would come to me and say, here’s a theme I really like, I said, what do you like about it? We liked it. There’s a slider and there’s three columns and there’s a video and there’s a flitter and there’s this. I say, well, I could build you that with this Genesis theme. And once you learn how to add your own widgets or move stuff around, and if you can edit the CSS, I learned that you can take any of their themes and build anything I’ve ever had to build.

Lisa S:                                        07:15                       So every site I’ve built in the last however many years and nine years is built on Genesis and they continue to upgrade it. There’s a lot of support. There are whole sites where people blog about here’s how to customize the such and such thing, you know. So, um, that to me was a great moment. And when I talked to him, people who are new to the business and they say, well, well what, you know, what’s your advice? I say, pick a development environment that you can get to know pretty well, whichever one it is. I don’t care. Get to know pretty well. Have your standard set of plugins that you install with every site [inaudible] and go forth. So I use, um, gravity forms. I have a developer license. You can install it a million times for the same cost. That’s a really good system for, um, I have word fence, I have some other plugins for specific things that I really like.

Lisa S:                                        08:15                       I have one called accordion shortcodes which lets you do, you know, expandable, uh, accordion type lists and everybody has kind of their, their own list. And I personally like to stick with plugins that I see have a large audience because then I’m, maybe I’m diluted but I, I want to think it’ll be around for a while. It’d be supported. Um, it’s not gonna the, the owner of the, the author will tend to want to keep it compatible with updates to WordPress, et cetera. And so when I have to get a new plugin for something, I go look at the repository and see how many times it’s been downloaded when it was last updated, you know, so I, I tend to stick with mainstream stuff unless there’s some really specific thing that somebody needs that as many options.

Amy M:                                     09:09                       Well, after, I know you’ve built so many websites and after doing that for so many years, you’ve shifted your business into more just care and maintenance side of things. What made you decide to make that shift and how was the transition?

Lisa S:                                        09:24                       So, uh, so it’s interesting in a, I mean, it’s a good question because as you know, in 20 years the business has changed a lot in terms of people’s options. They could hire one of us, they could do it themselves on Squarespace or wix or any of the other do it yourself tools. Uh, they may have a child who’s in college who wants to do it or an employee. So there’s, so I found that in some ways a lot of people, I don’t mean this in a negative way, but they just did not see the value added by a professional designer and then try and they try and nickel and dime you down. You know, well, I can get it for half the price over here or I could do it myself for 150 bucks a year. And so I got tired of that sort of nonsense was, was one thing.

Lisa S:                                        10:20                       Um, the second thing is that there are, because there are many more people in the business, it’s a good thing for consumers that they have more competition. But it also becomes a good thing for people to specialize and maybe not do everything. Do the, do the parts you really like the best. So what I was tell people, if you don’t like doing that part, don’t do that part partner with somebody who likes doing that part. And I do really like doing design and I’ll, I mean there’s, I like parts of all of it, but I really, really enjoy the care plan work because I feel like I’m a very, I’m in a very trusted business partner relationship and people count on me and people come to me all the time with problems. They go, Oh man, and you saved my butt again. And it could be anything from, it doesn’t happen very often than my sites get hacked.

Lisa S:                                        11:13                       But let’s suppose the site got hacked. I can get it back. Let’s suppose there’s a problem with the hosting company. I track it down. They get those spanning quick. Redo your, you’re hosting with us now from their not provider and they send it to me. What should I do? Throw it away. I had an email this morning from, you know, that, uh, we’re watching you, we know you’ve been watching porn and send us money on bitcoin. Yup. Had that one. She hasn’t a panic. What should she says? What should I do? I said, you should delete it. Just ignore it. But I like that I have a strong relationship with this core group of people who rely on me for all these things. I’m happy to answer questions. They trust me. They don’t argue me about why I’m charging the money to do x. Um, and so that’s been a really fun, um, seem to develop.

Lisa S:                                        12:02                       There’s another, okay. When I started in this business, in the town I live in, which I’m in Silicon Valley, which I’m in the outskirts of Silicon Valley, but 20 years ago I was the only game in town in a company, in a city of 200,000 people. I was the only person with the business doing this. Now there are, things have changed, but there are many more people and at the time as more competition, some people similar to me came in. One of my differentiating factors was that I was a little bit older or making a lot older. And I had clients who were my age who were no technophobic, didn’t understand what the younger people were saying to them, felt like the, you know, you’re talking over my head. And so I could relate to them and they were very comfortable with me and they, so I have, I still have a lot of clients that are women my age.

Lisa S:                                        12:58                       They have their own business and they trust me. They don’t trust the people that are kids age. Um, so the, so the Caribbean care plan business is great. One thing that I, uh, because I, I’m not ready to retire, but um, heading in that direction is I wanted to get out of so much work where it’s very intense. Uh, you’re on call for, you know, if you’re in the middle of a design with somebody and they’re sending an email in the middle of the night and it’s gotta be launched by a certain day, I can’t be away for the day. I can’t go out of town. I can’t go back to set. My grandson can do a lot of things. So I want, and the last couple of years I really thought about how can I move more towards work that I enjoy in this market space that is not so time-sensitive. And one of the things that I have always done with clients, which I now know many web pros do not do, is that I write content.

Lisa S:                                        13:59                       I know plenty of pros who they’re brilliant programmers, they can design and they say to the client, you have to go read it yourself or hire someone to write it. Call me when you’re done. And I’ll put it all together. And, and that’s fine. There’s plenty of content writers. Yeah. Most of the people that I have encountered who are content writers are not also web developers. And so they don’t quite have the same uh, perspective. And so I really set out to, uh, to set up a little writing service of content for people who have hired someone else to design their site, but the designer doesn’t write, if that makes sense. So I thought, I mean, I realize now I’ve been doing two jobs, developer job writer. So now I’m doing writing work for clients of other developers in some ways. And then the developers are happy to refer people to me because they know I designed websites and I understand what they’re doing.

Lisa S:                                        15:08                       And they’re also happy because sometimes you can wait months for that content and you don’t get paid the, all of the money till the content is done on the site is launched. So if they can hire somebody to do content that gets the site launched earlier, they get paid or whatever happened. So my writing [inaudible] and probably the thing I’m most proud of is the name, which is much ado about you.com. Um, and it really focuses on not just writing content but writing, uh, content based on your USP, right? Your unique selling proposition and s forming content that explains the benefits of working with you and why you’re so great from the perspective of the value to the customer, to the reader. Um, and honestly, because you can read about pages all day long and many of them suck. They’re terrible. They don’t really say Harvey because here’s the value.

Lisa S:                                        16:05                       I’m going to give you a, here’s something, I’ll help you make more money and all that. And so I really kind of fine tune this process around content around, you know, about me, why choose me or why choose us from organization, why join us case studies, FAQ. So all the not the part about the service somebody is selling the part about why hire you provide the service they’re selling. So that’s, that’s what an interesting project over the last year to kind of launch that. Um, and I’m really and joining still being involved with websites but doing this different part of it hopefully perceived to be of value.

Tracy A:                                    16:54                       You know that really resonates with me the whole like what do you provide? It’s cause I do a lot of user experience stuff. So that’s the whole idea and the crux of what as a user experience designer, it’s thinking, not like what features are we building, but it’s like, why are we building these features and who framing it instead of like, we can do all these things, but is that going to be a benefit to the user? And that is a really, like I’ve noticed, especially since you’re right, like the, the, the environment of wed to element has changed because anyone, there’s low barrier to entry, you can like make your own drag and drop site. But so that, that uh, that gets lost a lot. So that’s really nice to hear that. Um, just that, that values, because like that is what makes people stand out for sure.

Lisa S:                                        17:45                       Well, and I think that people, when they’re writing about themselves, okay, some people don’t like to, they think they’re bragging or they don’t know how to present themselves there. They sound like people don’t care about me. They care about the work I’m doing. And part of the messaging is take what you’re good at or what your experiences and show why it’s a benefit to them. So when I talk about why should you hire me as a writer, yes, I would say I wrote a book and I write articles and I’ve been ghost writing for clients for years. But really the message is I have experience, blah, blah, blah, blah blah. That lets me tell your story in a way that resonates with your readers. Now they’re interested. Cause now I’m talking about their story and their readers and oh by ps, by the way, I have some writing experience.

Lisa S:                                        18:34                       And um, it’s been a real fun process to work with people, especially when they have a new business and they’re still trying to formulate how do I sell myself? And they come away afterwards and say, wow, I never would have thought to say it that way, but it really makes me look better than I thought I was. It’s really good advice. But so, so that’s been really fun. So right now my work is, you know, split between the care plan, maintenance back in to babies and being, take care of whatever people need work and doing the content writing. And, um, I’m doing the interestingly a fair amount of work informally sort of coaching people who want to get into the business. And in part that’s because my children who are in their thirties have friends or you know I have my children’s friends and my friend’s children are all in this twenties and thirties and some of them are looking at this as a career.

Lisa S:                                        19:34                       So it’s really fun to, to work with them. I’ll tell you one funny story about that. A rotary, which you don’t, rotary is a national organization then they have a big chapter here in Fremont and they approached me probably four years ago about bidding on doing their website. I’m not a member but a lot of people don’t know me cause a lot of my clients are members and that’s how my name came up. So I do the proposal and gave him a copy of my book and we did all this stuff and then the guy gets back to you and he says, we’ve narrowed it down to you and one other person. We like you, you’re experienced. A lot of our members know you. We think you can do a great job. On the other hand, this other guy is younger. He’s new to rotary.

Lisa S:                                        20:13                       He’s starting his own business. It could be a really great opportunity for him. I said, great, give it to him. I won’t be offended at all. I totally get it. In the end they hired me and afterwards that the, the coordinator says, uh, can I share your proposal with him and his proposal with you so you guys can learn from each other. And I don’t want to be too snobby and say, what am I going to learn about writing a proposal from a 27 year old who’s just learning getting in this business? Sure, of course. Great idea. So he sends us the proposals, like the mutual email I see immediately it’s a, it’s a cost meet of my son. I know this kid since he was in kindergarten and he is an unusual name, so it was easy to verify me. So now I have to ride to him and say, Hey, how are ya?

Lisa S:                                        20:58                       It’s Mark’s mom. This is great. You’re going to this business. We should meet for coffee. You know, and you know, if I had a choice, which would be worse to lose a project to your friend’s mother or to lose a project to your child’s friend, theirs, you know, I think he felt kind of badly. And at one point we were talking and he’s trying to impress me and he says, I’m, you know, I was building websites by the time I was in sixth grade. And I said, you know that I built your school’s website when you were in second grade. Right. And I gave him some coaching and it’s fine and he’s on his own. But that is such a, a fun opportunity to get people when they’re early to the business and try and help mentor them or coach them. Um, especially women of course. And I don’t know if any of you, do you have any numbers of what percentage the web design world is of women or the WordPress world?

Amy M:                                     21:59                       I don’t have any.

Tracy A:                                    22:00                       I don’t have any either. I don’t know. But that’s something that,

Amy M:                                     22:03                       and I don’t think the stats are right that exists.

Tracy A:                                    22:05                       Yeah, I agree. Cause we’ve been noticing like one things like, um, some of the people that have kind of come out of the woodwork, you know, so to speak about those podcasts. It’s like, um, they’ve all been working in the, in the behind the scenes and they might not be the people taking the quizzes cause they don’t know that the quizzes are there. They might not be at the WordCamps cause they don’t know the WordCamps are a thing. So, cause I didn’t know it was a word camp for many, many years of that. So yeah, we don’t have any accurate, um, any stats on that, but it would be really good to know.

Lisa S:                                        22:37                       I mean, I will tell you that when I first got into it, which was back when it was corporate and I was managing an it department full of men, they had their own problems with a woman being in charge. But that was not my problem. Oh, it was really fun. Oh, I was going to ask you, did you learn anything from his proposal? Um, I learned that he was pretty good at the BS and he had a lot of fluffy stuff that was not

Tracy A:                                    23:02                       okay,

Lisa S:                                        23:02                       not really about here’s the value I can provide to you. And so I, he, you know, he had beautiful Sansi power point was I went to Berkeley and this, that and the other and my partner, he had another guy. We do all these things and it was a lot of salesy stuff. My proposals are very much, here’s what we’re going to build now. Here are details about SEO and your email and hosting and this, that and the other and content. And so I was really trying to encourage him to back off the hype and you know, show me them content, the meat. Um, but it was, I was going to say when I first really got into this and I was in a very male dominated environment and anybody going into web work, it was almost all guys as far as I remember. And they wanted to be called web.

Lisa S:                                        23:48                       Matt asked her, and I always thought, that sounds too much like it was too much like dungeons and dragons. And honestly, when I went to college, yeah, like I w I played dungeons and dragons. I used to paint those little figurines and I married somebody who was a d and d guy. So I really can’t whine about that, but I just, I didn’t see myself in that title and Web mistress, so it’d be worse. I didn’t, so was kind of joking you said on the web diva and that kind of stuck. And I actually have a registered trademark on that now, so I have to occasionally send cease and desist letters to people who try and use it. Um, so, uh, in Texas a few years ago changed her business name from website, tailored a web diva. And I had to say, you can’t do that and here’s why.

Lisa S:                                        24:27                       And you’d call, she filed with the a US patent and trademark office to cancel my trademark. And I had to, I personally did all my own legal work and got that squashed and dismissed. But know, I mean, so that is my brand, I guess. And, uh, you also have to remember, even if we think web development is more men than women, I spent 20 years in jobs where I was the only woman. I was the only woman in my ee classes in college. I was the only woman in my garage Grad school classes. And that was computer science. It was in the eight, early eighties. Okay. Now mind you,

Tracy A:                                    25:07                       yeah. Even when I was in my first years in college, I was at an MSOE Milwaukee School of engineering and I was in, uh, computer engineering and electrical engineering technology and that was in the late nineties. I was the only girl in many of those classes. So that didn’t change at all,

Lisa S:                                        25:24                       sadly, sadly. So it was the only, so it was the Undergrad ucs. So I’m the only woman. I was the only woman in my intern ships. I was the first W my, one of my summer internships. I was at Uhm, civilian public works office on the naval base in San Diego. So it was only for the summer. And I got there, I was the first one engineer. There was no women’s bathroom in the engineers building next door to the the marketing. Thank God it was only for the summer, but I didn’t drink any coffee that summer. Didn’t you know, and go anywhere, deal breaker too, like exactly. So my first, my first job out of college, my first full time job out of college was at Hewlett Packard and again, first woman engineer, elaborate 200 guys also first engineer to get pregnant, first engineer to have a baby, first engineered fight to maintain a pro.

Lisa S:                                        26:14                       I was managing a project when I went to maternity leave and I was only going to be gone for two months and they said, we have to give your project to someone else to manage. Said you can’t do that. That’s discrimination. I’ll manage from home. We didn’t have computers, hookup to work at home, but I said, well, be on the phone, we’ll figure it out. I don’t live that far from work. And they said no. And I said, well let me remind you that project manager x over here was on a disability and home for six weeks because he had heart surgery. And you didn’t take his project. What? So if took my project away, there might be legal ramifications. And so and so at that point we had email inside the uh, [inaudible] so I feel like Packard, but you couldn’t reach it from your home computer.

Lisa S:                                        26:56                       And the solution was to give me a, a monitor and a modem and I had to get a second phone line and then I could called the email computer, email server and it would call me back. And so that’s how I was able to read my email and manage my project for two months while I was on maternity leave. Um, and the people at work figured out I had gone to the hospital because I didn’t answer email one day. So they’re calling the hospital and I answered the phone. It’s like I can’t talk to you. My mother doesn’t know I’m in labor yet. So, so I was came from this environment, you know, where I was such an anomaly that going into a business where there, let’s say there’s 25 or 30% women. Wow. That’s a lot of women. You know, the other, the other funny thing, so, so in my a computer science degree was uh, at Stanford and at that time they did not have undergrad cs only Grad school and it was the math department. And there was this ongoing joke in our class, which is your, the affirmative action entry. Not because I was a woman, it’s because I was the only e Undergrad. What else was math major? And so I really liked the fact that I was the affirmative action for a completely different reason. So, and it worked out pretty well.

Tracy A:                                    28:12                       So I have a question, especially coming from engineering in it, um, what kinds of things that, that you have skills that you, you know, um, sharpened in those years that you’ve been able to apply to your career and how it has shifted now.

Lisa S:                                        28:29                       Um, I ascended mentally engineering and you said you haven’t had went to engineering school and engineering is about problem solving. And when I talk to students and I talked to a career days and various things, I’m actually going to speak at UC San Diego and a couple of weeks, uh, I went there and I’m going to be part of like an alumni speaker series in the engineering school. So I can talk a bit about advice for women going into engineering technology. Um, but engineering provides you with such a solid base of problem solving skills, research skills, being able to articulate your solution in a way that in a more traditional thing situation, maybe an engineer is designing something that will be built on a production line, possibly in another country. They have to be able to articulate, communicate what they have done in a way to transfer knowledge. And so all those skills still apply if we are not problems, we are problem solvers above everything else, right?

Lisa S:                                        29:26                       The client says, I need my site to do this or to sell this or to reach these people or to take money or after form or whatever, we have to solve the problem. And we, it’s figuring out what tools are at our disposal. And we find a way to articulate to the clients what we’ve done. We have to articulate, if we are writing content we’ve articulate to the readers or the consumers of the site how this works, what the benefit is. All these, all these skills, skills transcend from, from one job to an x. Uh, one thing which helped me tremendously was having worked in corporate and having been in management and worked at several companies is the knowledge about running a business and talking to other people about running their business. So I get questions, I have clients, they start a new business, they don’t understand anything about finance or taxes or should I get an LLC or an s corp?

Lisa S:                                        30:26                       I know all that stuff because between the corporate world and my business, I’ve been exposed to it. And so I feel like having any work experience in any field, engineering or otherwise it can be transferred to this business because we are pretty much all running our own businesses. We ought to know what we’re doing. And, um, a lot of the articles, a number of the articles that I write for GoDaddy, they are really about how to run your web business and how to use business skills to help your clients beyond just programming and building their beautiful website. So there’s, there’s that.

Angela B:                                 31:05                       I would just like to say that in tagging along on that, that I think that’s a really good point and a good point of comparison with that younger person that you were competing against is that, and it’s not something I’ve considered though. I have considered like my own business background and corporate background helping me a lot with my clients. But a lot of these new people coming on board with wanting to build websites for businesses have never worked in a business. That’s true. They’re just learning coding and they’re coming in building sites and they’ve never had a real job. Or maybe they have a real kind of relatable job and relatable experience.

Lisa S:                                        31:45                       The other thing having, you don’t need to have had 20 years in corporate America, but even a few years, you learn in communication, you learn as the soft skills. You know, I’m coaching people and I learned in part of my management training, like we never used the word problem. It’s always challenge or issue and right. Learning how to communicate with people in a way that makes them feel like you’re on their side and you’re collaborate. The thing that’s been for me, Super Fun in this business is how much I have learned from the clients about whatever, whether it’s acupuncture or landscape maintenance or dentistry or orthopedics or professional organizing. I mean I’ve worked with people in so many fields that I’ve learned, not like I’m an expert, but I can be conversant. And so when somebody says to me, professional organizers get example, I’ve done websites for a couple of people in that field and someone says to me, that’s what they do. I can have a conversation. I know what that means. I can understand what their challenges are. And so I think being in this business, anybody self employed who works with a variety of clients, learns a lot. That just makes them a better person out in the world.

Amy M:                                     33:04                       Oh, I totally agree. Yeah. I’ve learned a lot from my clients over the years about so many things that I never thought that I would have any knowledge about. So it’s, um, it’s fun. And that’s, I know we talked in our last episode, which is, it hasn’t published yet, but about, um, having your niche and the benefits of that. But I think there’s the opposite side. The benefit of being a general generalist is you get so much of an education on all of these businesses and these, you know, websites that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Lisa S:                                        33:35                       What I did find too is that certain certain fields, certain not fields in our business, but client fields are really good for specializing in because they naturally drawn business. I’ll give you an example. I did a website since many, many years ago now for an orthopedic surgeon practice of orthopedic surgery in our town. And then one of those doctors went to a practice in the next town over and they have a crappy website. He today hire my, what person? And I did that site and somewhere after I had like three or four orthopedic practices, one of those doctors was the president of the California Orthopedic Association for a year, the Coa, and he brought me in to do their site. And then I started getting calls from orthopedic practices all over the state saying, we saw the Coa site we want you. And I’ve done enough orthopedic is there in the bay area and the San Francisco Bay area.

Lisa S:                                        34:32                       Half the time a practice will say, we have a new doctor. What’s the doctor’s name? Doctor X. I say, oh, doctor x, he used to work at Oakland bone and joint. I have his bio already and the people would move around and I have quite a few also in San Diego and doctors move practices and I already know who they are or they move and I get hired. Um, and so it’s a super interesting, not to say incestuous, but everybody is very well connected in that field and they network highly and they’re busy professionals and they rely on other people’s recommendation. [inaudible] walks in the door. Um, sometimes it walks out the door too because these practices have what they call a practice manager who sort of the operations business person managing everything. What a practice manager, uh, that I work with goes to another practice. They might fire their web person and bring me in and then it works the other way around. Right. I’m at a practice, a new practice manager comes in, they drop me in, they bring in their web person. And so you have to, you know, kind, uh, deal with that aspect of it. But I know way more about knees and hips than yeah. Replacements than I probably want to.

Angela B:                                 35:46                       Yeah.

Lisa S:                                        35:47                       I hope never to contact these people on a professional basis where I need their service.

Amy M:                                     35:51                       Well, I think one of the things, your story just, um, illuminated is how important building these relationships are. Because you know, those practice managers come in and they want you or they want their person. And that’s, you know, I think less to do with their, you know, particular skill, but with their relationship with that person and how they have this level of trust. And I think that’s something that you’ve really illustrated that you do with your clients. And I think we all do try to do that with our clients. But I’m going back to a comment you made earlier about these young people and coming out and knowing how to program. One of my pet peeves is, you know, these programmers or developers coming out, but they don’t know how to run a business and you can’t do this job and have clients if all you know how to do is code. Being able to code is not the same as running a business.

Tracy A:                                    36:38                       Well. And even just the whole idea of like if you’re just like, nope, this is the I, this is the thing. And not getting any feedback, not knowing how to communicate that or like understand a client a on a deeper level to like dive deep into, figure out like, okay, well what are there, what are the benefits? Like you said, like what are they offering? What is the, why should they choose them? Like that kind of viewpoint on things. When I’m just like, I can just code this thing and I just learned how to do this thing and I can do this now.

Lisa S:                                        37:07                       Um, if I may bring the topic over to my book is I want to talk about why I wrote that book. Um, so the long title is Web diva wisdom, how to find, hire and partner with the right web designer for you. Not a technical book at all. Completely technology agnostic. It’s a book I read. It’s been this five years or so since it was published. And I wrote this book because most of my clients were small business owners. Hey, they knew nothing about building a website, but B, they really didn’t have a very good knowledge of wall. I didn’t wonder website, who they were trying to reach with a website and what they wanted the website to do. And so the book has several sections. The first part is deciding whether to hire a pro or do it yourself. Can you do the following, do you want to do the following, do you et cetera.

Lisa S:                                        37:56                       Then the next part is all a whole slew of homework. What are your objectives for the site? How are people going to find the site? What’s your marketing plan for the site? Budget of course, and timeline. Who’s your audience? What does the audience care about? This goes back to the USP. Uh, once the site is launched, how are you going to advertise it to people? What’s your social media plan? So there’s all this, I call it homework. And then the next section is how to hire somebody. If you’re gonna hire somebody, how do you evaluate their website? What should you look for in a proposal? What should be in a contract? How do you negotiate a budget? And yeah, I mean I see things in there like go ahead and talk to several people and get several proposals. And when you pick somebody, be polite and send the other three, a nice thank you note and say, thanks for bidding.

Lisa S:                                        38:49                       I’ve gone with someone else. I appreciate your time. That’s mom teaching you manners, right? That’s not really, I’ve been in the business, but that’s how my kids were raised. Right, right. Thank you. Notes. And so, and then, then the book says, if you now you’ve hired somebody, if you do the contract, here’s the process, here’s how you can make it more efficient for your web pro. Gather all your content together at once. Why the pros and cons of sending a separate email with everything versus a bullet list. Um, how to request changes, what is reasonable to expect in timelines and the book, it’s all the way to the end and says how to fire your web designer or what if you’re closing your business? Or what if you’re selling your business? Do you sell the domain name on the website? So it’s all about the life cycle of working with a Webpro no technology, which yeah, my intent was to say this would work for anybody. And also I won’t be obsolete if I’m still referring to WordPress 3.5

Tracy A:                                    39:48                       yeah. So can we buy this in bulk? Because I would like to send this to all clients and potential clients because right, yeah. Every client before we start working together read this book. Yeah. That’s amazing.

Lisa S:                                        40:02                       So here’s what, here’s what happens. So if somebody comes to me, this has been true since the book. So he comes to me, inspires me, I give them a copy of the book and say now go do all the homework and chapter two before we do anything. And um, and so that’s gratifying because a, I getting all this, this is a one step up from an intake questionnaire, which many people have a really good solid question or they ask people, but this is do the homework and the book is a lot of bullet lists and all that stuff. And um, I can give you information offline. I mean it’s on Amazon, but if you really want to buy a whole bunch, we can talk about a more efficient way to do that. Um, the book, so this is a side thing about the book. I personally think the book is useful.

Lisa S:                                        40:52                       I would like to think that people will buy it, but I think Amy mentioned this, you don’t get rich making a book. You know, every book that’s sold at Amazon is $3 and 75 cents in my pocket. Or as I say, every book sold as a trip to Starbucks, put it all in one place. That’s more than I blankets the book. The book is overly overly impresses people perhaps and has opened the door to other things, speaking and other writing opportunities and um, it’s, it’s been helpful and it was a good exercise in a learning how to communicate with clients in a way that they understand. Right. Because I’m sure you’ve all worked with people that say

Lisa S:                                        41:33                       my previous web guy or some other web guy used a bunch of techno gobbledygook. I remember when he was talking about and he made me feel stupid. I don’t want to deal with that. And Ah, I make a big effort to not be that person. Well you’re definitely a pioneer in this field and it’s been so interesting to talk to you today. Before we go, do you want to tell everybody where we can find you online?

Lisa S:                                        42:01                       Well, my business, my main business website is collective discovery and that we’ll crop this link to everything else. The book is Webedy. The width is going.com and my writing services much to do about you.com. Um, so if you start with collective discovery.com you can find everything else. Yeah. Thank you so much. Uh, oh, this was fun. Thank you so much for your time. This was really great. I love it. I could talk about this stuff all day.

Tracy A:                                    42:26                       Thanks for this thing. Follow us at Instagram, Twitter, or join our Facebook group that already subscribed. Well, you can find us on Spotify, stitcher, Google play, and iTunes. Did you know that you could help support the women in WP podcast? If you head on over to our Patreon page, you’ll find additional content and some cool perks. If you want to set up a monthly donation of a dollar or more. And finally you can find all show notes, links and transcriptions at our website at womeninwp.com and tell them next time.


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