030: Getting SASSy During COVID-19 with Tracy Rotton

In episode 30 of Women in WP, we talk to Tracy Rotton about being a freelancer during the time of COVID-19, including how working from home has changed, expectations moving forward, and more.


About Tracy Rotton:

Tracy Rotton (she/her) is Founder and Principal of Taupecat Studios, an independent WordPress development agency based near Washington, D.C. She has been a web developer for over twenty years, and a WordPress developer for ten, specializing in custom theme and site development for nonprofits and the enterprise. She has spoken at WordCamps throughout the eastern United States and has been a core contributor to WordPress and related projects.

Find Tracy Rotton: Taupecat Studios | Twitter

Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
030: Getting SASSy During COVID-19 with Tracy Rotton
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Show Notes

People places and things we talked about in this episode:

Quote:

The current crisis with COVID-19 is going to change mindsets going forward, there’s going to be ramifications for how we change the way we work and build community.

Transcript

Amy:
Welcome to Women in WP, a bi-monthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop, and more in the WordPress community.
Hello, and welcome to the show. I’m Amy Masson.
Angela:
I’m Angela Bowman.
Tracy:
And I’m Tracy Apps.
Amy:
And our guest today is Tracy Rotton who builds custom WordPress solutions for clients and is also a regular WordCamp speaker. Welcome, Tracy.
Tracy Rotton:
Thank you so much, good to be here.
Amy:
And as always, we’d like to start off by asking you what your journey into WordPress was.
Tracy Rotton:
My journey into WordPress is a long and roundabout one. The web, if you want to go back way back to the very beginnings. The web started when I was in my last couple of years at college. So I started banging off websites just as a hobby, just for fun. I went to law school of all things, but in my first year or my first summer in law school, I couldn’t really get a law school job so I ended up working at an internet service provider. Remember those? Building websites and just that kind of took over my life. So dropped out of law school, did website development full time, and this is pre-WordPress. I mean, not that nobody used WordPress. WordPress didn’t exist back then. I went to San Francisco, did the agency there, and move back to the DC area where I live now.
And then, kind of got introduced to WordPress while doing some federal government work, building WordPress sites. And this is about the time that custom post types started. And WordPress was really starting to come into its own as a content management system. So did that, started attending the meetups in DC, met some interesting people who seemed to know what they were doing like Andrew Nason and Aaron Jordan. And so, of all the WordPress crowds in the world I could have fell into, I think I fell into a pretty good one. And just since then, WordPress has been my bread and butter when to doing website works. So I’ve worked at an agency and now I work for myself as a freelancer for… I call my company Taupecat Studios because I’ve been a taupe cat on the internet forever. So I do that, and I work with other agencies. And I also work directly with local businesses.
Amy:
And when you’re working with agencies as a freelancer, what does that usually entail?
Tracy Rotton:
That usually entails working with their designers, working with their project managers. They’ll have the actual contact with the end client that the site is going to be for, and so it takes a lot of the stress off my plate in terms of getting the requirements, getting the contracts, and all of that. I can just worry about the development of the site itself. I don’t have to worry about all the BS that goes with dealing with clients. Not that I don’t appreciate working directly with businesses as well. I’d actually like to build that up a little bit. But it just makes it just removes one level of bureaucracy that all I have to worry about is doing the build, which is what I really enjoy doing.
Amy:
Yeah. I think I would kind don’t like that. So let me ask you this. We’re right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tracy Rotton:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Amy:
And so, I’m not exactly sure on what date this is going to air, but I know it’s affecting a lot of freelancers and people in our industry. And I had somebody say to me, “Oh, well you already work from home so this is not going to affect you.” And my response was, “If it affects my clients, then it definitely affects me.” So how is it affecting you and your life and your work.
Tracy Rotton:
Well, there’s a couple of aspects. First of all, from the working from home, yeah, I’ve been working from home pretty much exclusively for four years, but everybody’s favorite CSS nerd. Eric Meyer hit it on the head with a blog post last week that I haven’t worked from home with two children in the house. I haven’t worked from home with my husband working from home full time. So just juggling the fact that I am now in a house full of people who are trying to demand my attention as well as my clients who are demanding my attention, that’s been stressful.
As far as working with my clients, one, in particular, is dealing with a policy issue in New York State and they have been really focused on this campaign. We built a website and pretty much a weekend back in February. But now it’s like… I’m thinking to myself, and this is where working for an agency comes into play.
I can’t really chime in with my policy or my strategy for these people because they’re doing all of that. But I’m thinking to myself, “Well, does Governor Cuomo even really care about this issue right now? He’s got a couple of other things on this plate.” So that’s affecting that. Way down on the list of everybody’s priorities is paying your freelancers and that’s kind of hit home. It’s like I’m doing this work for clients, and I’m not sure when I’m going to actually see the money for that. But at least I do have a job and I can be reasonably sure I will get paid on point, unlike people who work in the restaurant industry or the gobs of businesses that just close their doors altogether. So I try not to complain about too that too much.
And then lastly, in the back of my mind, right now, I’m playing everybody’s favorite home game. Do I have allergies, a head cold, or COVID-19? I’ve had sneezing and all of that stuff. I’m pretty sure it’s just allergies, but with all the stuff on the headline, you never can be sure. So it’s like, it comes at you from every angle.
Tracy:
Yeah. I hear that same kind of thing. And actually, yeah, I’ve had this head cold, and I was like, “Well, I don’t know. Am I dying?” I don’t know. It is like don’t look on the internet because it’ll… Yeah, you’ll go down that rabbit hole. I saw really great, especially… I live alone so I don’t have to deal with people that are not normally home or around me a lot being around me a lot. But I heard a really great… It was basically a joke, it says, “Well if you’re out and stuck working with your partner and you start getting on each other’s nerves, make up a coworker to blame everything on.” You’re like, “Cheryl has been leaving her dirty cups around and we just don’t know what to do about her.”
Tracy Rotton:
That’s an actually brilliant idea. I think it will definitely steal that.
Tracy:
Right. Yep. You’re welcome. I’m here for you. What are the… So working from home, because I know, I also have a lot of experience working from home, but I’ve found a lot of people that actually have had a really rough adjustment with it. I’d love to hear because I think everyone who works for themselves or has experience working from home basically has different processes, different tips, different process to get their work done. So what’s your daily routine to get that all done?
Tracy Rotton:
Well, there was the pre-COVID-19 routine versus the now routine.
Tracy:
Yeah, a good comparison. That’d be good. Yeah.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah. Before Maryland shut down all of its schools, my workday would start as soon as I got home from driving my son to school. That has not been an issue the past couple of weeks, nor will it be for the next month. So basically, just I’ll get up. I’ll have breakfast. I’ll come into my office. We’re fortunate enough to live in a big enough house that I have my own office. And just eventually, my daughter will come in and just sit on that couch behind me, and aside from giggling at YouTube videos, she’s been a pretty decent office mate.
As far as some of the mechanics of working from home. So my mother lives with us. She’s retired. I did have a issue a year about her just coming into my office while I was on client calls. So I got a Philip Hues light strip place on my door that goes red, whenever I’m on a client call, or it’s on right now for this podcast. It sends a message like, “Do not disturb,” kind of thing. And that’s probably the biggest tip that I can give. It’s have some visual indication that you cannot be disturbed, and then don’t overuse it. If you just are sick of people, that’s not quite a good enough reason to turn it red. Maybe in that case just pull the door too, and then maybe they’ll give people pause-
Tracy:
Maybe it should be like yellow then or… Yeah. Right.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah, you could turn those all sorts of colors. Yeah, maybe I should have one, and fortunately nobody in my house is color blind so that would get the message to everybody. Yeah, that’s probably the biggest thing. And then the standard things about having a separate space, it’s not really tenable for everybody. If people live in small apartment, it’s hard to carve out your own space, but that seems to have worked for me for the past four years that I’ve been working from home pretty exclusively.
Amy:
I’ve worked from home for 14 years, and when my kids were very little, they were home, and then they’ve been in school. They’re teenagers now. Although they’re home in the summer, they’re teenagers, they don’t really need… They don’t want to talk to me. That’s no fun. So what’s different now is that they’re home every day. The dogs are home every day. My husband’s now working from home. And my office does not have doors. It is just wide open. So, when everybody’s gone to work in school, it’s just me, and it’s fine. But now, people are walking through, and then the whole neighborhood is now going for walks that they never did before. And my dogs are going crazy all the time. So I mean, even though I’ve been working from home, it’s still an adjustment for me to work from home.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah. Yeah. There’s a different sense of working from home when you’re the only person in the house versus working from home in a house full of people. And there’s definitely a difference there that even us veterans of working from home are adjusting to.
Angela:
You were supposed to speak at a WordCamp today or this weekend.
Tracy Rotton:
Today. No. Well, here was what my weekend starting today was supposed to look like. I was supposed to speak at WordCamp DC which was supposed to be today and tomorrow with Community Day or Contributor Day on Sunday. I was supposed to speak today, then take my daughter to Pittsburgh where she was supposed to have a Feis, which is an Irish dance competition. Then I would’ve come home. That was tomorrow. We would go up tonight, stay over, compete, come home, try to make it in time for the after-party and the Contributor Day on Sunday. That was supposed to be my weekend. I’m supposed to be helping a client of a client who needs some help doing some COVID-19 messaging on their website. They’re like, “Can we meet on Saturday?” I’m like, “Well, let me take a look at the gaping crater of my calendar for this weekend. Yeah. I think I could fit you in.”
Instead, I’m going to be… Probably, that’s going to be a short meaning. It doesn’t sound like they have much that needs doing. And I’m going to try to catch as much of WordCamp San Antonio which is going to be going on this weekend, completely virtual, completely online. Of course, if you’re hearing this, it’s probably already passed. So I’m looking forward to catching at least a couple of sessions of that. But it’s hard to do those video remote conferences even in the best of times because I get so distracted. It’s like, “Okay. Let me background it.” And now I did absorb anything.
And when they’re on a weekend, it’s like, well, I still have to be a mom. I still have to be part of the family. I can’t really just lock myself in my office all weekend long looking at a virtual conference. I’m going to be a little bit choosy about the sessions I picked. There’s a couple of speakers there that I’m really interested in hearing. And then, try to balance the family time and the WordCamp time.
Angela:
What was your talk going to be?
Tracy Rotton:
Then this is something I’m still going to try to do. I’m a big CSS nerd as well. I’ve used Sass, the CSS pre-processor for years and years. And last year, around October, they came out with some pretty, pretty significant changes to it. I want to put together this video series that goes through and documents how to use the new Sass module structure and all of that. And my WordCamp talk for DC was going to be a little snippet of that.
Now, I’ve had two weeks of self quarantining and no kid activities. Have I done anything on this? No. So, you know, well, we’ve got four more weeks of no kid activities, so hopefully, I’ll be able to start putting something together. So that was that. And I was also going to speak at WordCamp Lancaster last… No. Two weeks… I even forget. Two weeks ago, two weeks ago was supposed to be WordCamp Lancaster. And then, that was the weekend where everything just starts shutting down. And that was going to be an accessibility talk. And I’m still going to try to record something and try to throw it on YouTube. But again, I end up just watching or reading Twitter and watching Simpson’s reruns all evening instead of doing anything productive, so I really got to get myself out of that habit.
Tracy:
I feel the same. I was like, “Oh, I have all these grand ideas, but then they don’t happen.” But I also love CSS. I feel like… And it changed. It felt like it was going through many years where it was pretty much the same. It was mostly static. There was things here and there. It feels like the change of it has been pretty great lately. What are the kind of the features and the stuff that you’re most excited about using? Because I’m sure there’s stuff that I even know what’s on the radar of what kind of updates there are?
Tracy Rotton:
One thing I’m actually really excited about because I can’t math at all, is they’re improving the math functions.
Tracy:
Ah, yes.
Tracy Rotton:
And where this really comes into play is like, I’m one of those people that I will jump onto every bandwagon without even looking where I’m going. And there’s two developers out of England, I believe who put together something called Every Layout, which was-
Tracy:
Ah, yes.
Tracy Rotton:
CSS way of doing things.
Tracy:
Haydon.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah, Haydon and Andy is it?
Tracy:
Andy. Yep. I just bought that, actually. They had run a sale for Haydon’s birthday.
Tracy Rotton:
It’s great. And one of the little pieces of it is doing modular scale, which is just basically a way of nicely rhythming your margins and your line spacing in a way that is mathematically sound. And with the new Sass math modules improvements, you can actually do that pretty easily in a function. So those are the little things. The color module has been greatly improved. Lightning and darkening in the old Sass never really worked the way you would expect it to. So now, natively, it works better. So those little tweaks. And I’m still trying to… It took a whole project and a whole couple of weeks, just to even get my head around how the structures change. And the thing is that it went from… The changes really came out in 1.2.3. And you would think that of changes of this magnitude, this was like a 2.0 release.
But it was really a lot more significant than that, which is why I felt like it was worth a video series. And in fact, I turned some of that video series into a talk. Well, then I can leverage it. And so, I’m still planning on doing that. I just need to get my focus together. But again, focusing when you’re working from home in a house full of kids and a parent and a husband, and two animals, focus does not come easily.
Angela:
Yeah.
Tracy:
I hear you.
Angela:
And especially when every sniffle you think you might die.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah. I mean, we’re in the middle of cherry blossom season here in DC and I have pretty bad seasonal allergies. So every sniffle, every sneeze… Don’t have a cough, but every time I do have a little bit of a cough, it’s like, “What was that? What was that?” And just a little bit of concern for the fact that my husband’s in a risk group, my mother’s in a risk group. And like every time I’m going out, am I bringing something home? So we are trying to stay at home as much as possible, but you still need to go up grocery shopping and things like that.
Amy:
Well, and I think that we need to, as just everybody needs to give ourselves permission to be less productive, and to not be able to be everything to everyone right now, because we just… There’s too much. My brain’s going to explode.
Angela:
Yeah.
Tracy:
That’s a hard one.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah, I have a project and I think I delivered it a few days late. And I’m very much like, “I need to make my deadlines.” And just told my client like, “You’re going to get your project 90% complete. If you give me a couple of extra days, then it will be hundred percent complete.” And I’m not going to even apologize for it because the world has just turned completely upside down. I posted on Twitter a couple of nights ago, “Remember when Sarah Palin was singing Baby Got Back on the Masked Singer and then things got weird.”
Amy:
It was like a year ago, right?
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah. Seriously. And at the time, to compound everything, we were hosting our friends teenage son, because they were on a cruise in the Caribbean and were like, “Are they going to make it back? Are they going to recognize the world as it is when they get back?” And fortunately, they’re fine. They didn’t come across any nasty bugs or anything, and their son is safely home with them. But it was just the weirdest week ever that I can remember.
Tracy:
Yeah, I mean… And like what Amy said, giving yourself permission, that’s hard for me. Because that was been… Right now, I’m doing full-time corporate work, and so I’m like, “I have to be very productive.” But everything has stopped. The world is burning around us. And I’m like, “I need to do this thing.” And I was like, “No.” And then, I was reading some really great advice. It was aimed towards people in the academic world, but there was a lot of stuff that could really apply to pretty much all of us.
One of it, being that, the first couple of days of some big major shift like this, you’re not going to get anything done. You’re not going to get much done. You have to readjust. You have to retool yourself. You basically have to retool your office and figure out how you’re going to do these processes. And so, you’re not going to get things done then because then there’s too much. But if you don’t, if you just trudge along, and try to do all these things, you’re going to burn out. And I saw that very much so. That’s good. It’s good advice to be like, “Well, we have to give ourselves permission to be able to.”
Tracy Rotton:
I mean the most akin thing I can think of is, and I’m realizing that there are some people who were probably not old enough to really remember 9/11 or what it was like to wake up that day. And I was living in California at the time. So my mother living in New Jersey called me up and I ignored the phone because it was six o’clock in the morning. But I would just remember sitting on my couch watching TV news coverage for three solid days. And it was just news, news, news, no commercials, no regular programming, you just watched. But that was a singular fixed moment of time. Yes. It had major ramifications that have…
Tracy:
It was located in just one area, basically.
Angela:
Well, two, three.
Tracy:
Yeah. Two, three, but yeah, it was contained within area.
Angela:
Right. But you didn’t know right away if that was it.
Tracy:
That’s true.
Angela:
There’s more coming.
Tracy Rotton:
Right. And I remember, they stopped all air traffic for three days. And I remember the first time I was on The Peninsula near San Francisco. And a plane flew overhead after they opened up the skies again, it’s like, “Wow, that is weird you to see planes back in the sky.” But I mean, it was still like a fixed event. This is an event that doesn’t seem to have an end date that we can see. There will be an end date at some time. They will… Either the social distancing will flatten the curve like we all wanted to. Treatment will become available. It may not be for a year, but a vaccine will hopefully become available. So there is an end date, we just can’t see it yet, so it’s become this ongoing process that’s created all of this uncertainty, and we just have to navigate it.
And you’re right, Tracy. We have to give ourselves permission to say, “Well, I’m not going to be functioning at full capacity right now, because I just can’t juggle the stresses of a house full of people, worrying about my health, worrying about my family’s health, as well as trying to get work done.” This is not normal times.
Angela:
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Tracy:
Yeah. And it’s also one of those things, well, what are we going to return to as normal times? There’s so much stuff that might be changed completely. And one of the things, especially being in the tech world, I mean, I count myself very lucky is that I have stable internet. I have a phone with an unlimited data plan so I can do all of these things online. I know how… Actually, a lot of things, things like ordering food and having things delivered, that stuff I was doing already. So I already had all of these services. I had accounts assigned with the use of services. I knew how to work them. For me, that impact of, “Oh, well now, less human contact.” It was like, “Well actually, okay, I have an app that does this. I can order from my…”
I live close enough to civilization. I’m in the suburbs a little bit but it’s like, I still can use an app and go and order my groceries and then go and pick them up. But it’s interesting too that just now the people that have the technology, the people that don’t, now there’s a greater divide on how safe you can be and follow all these rules.
Tracy Rotton:
And we’re seeing that… We get alerts from my kids’ school system in four different ways. So every time they issue an alert, I get a text message, two emails and I robocall myself and I robocall my house about…
Tracy:
And then a pigeon comes and brings it.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah. And then the smoke signals go out there. Anyway, but it’s like they’re distributing the Chromebooks and they just made the decision this week that today was supposed to be the last day of the original emergency closure. Now it’s going to go on to the end of April. Fortunately, they are not yet talking about canceling the rest of the school year like they have in Virginia and other parts of the country. But it’s like, now we got to get Chromebooks out to kids. We got to figure out how to do online courses. And my daughter was in an online English class just yesterday, and it wasn’t working with her school account. It only worked with her personal Google account and people didn’t know how to log on.
First of all, these are kids. These are sixth-graders. Yeah, they’re pretty technically savvy but their savviness is limited pretty much to YouTube videos and online games, not necessarily corporate video conferencing software. And then, teachers who have been doing things old school for years and years, they’re still learning. So it’s an interesting experiment to see how fast we can ramp up an entire society to do everything in a virtual space really, really quickly. And there’s going to be a lot of stumbling.
Tracy:
Well, and even just that… Like your saying, how much of… Now, it’s become very evident. When an online tool or service uses basic really user data, user research, and actually talks to who their users are. Because like you said, that corporate video or whatever, sixth-graders would be like… Someone in an office, because they’re like, “It works great for me.” I mean, now it’s more time of any… More so that we have to really… We should be fixing a lot of these things because it’s not a user error. It’s an error in the program a lot of times.
Angela:
Oh no. I was just going to say my sister-in-law is a university professor and she’s… I mean, she just hates the software that they have to use. She says, she hates it with the fire of like a thousand suns or something like that. I think that it’s really [crosstalk 00:28:12].
Tracy:
That sounds about right.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah.
Angela:
And my 17-year-old son he’s just ready. He’s like, “I’m not sure how my LA teacher’s going to be able to manage this. I’ve seen her try to use a computer a couple of times.” He’s prepared to be like the go-to tutor for everyone and for her as well.
Tracy Rotton:
Well, my son’s Boy Scout troop has been trying to maintain as much normality as possible. And they’ve been having Zoom meetings during what their normal meeting time was, and one Scout suggested to the Scout Master, “Oh, well maybe you should try Discord instead.” And so I know a lot about a lot of different tech, I don’t know Discord at all. Because again, I’m not a teenage boy who [crosstalk 00:28:57].
Amy:
Teenage girls use it too.
Tracy:
I just downloaded it. I’m like, “I don’t know how this thing works.”
Angela:
My son is all over it. He’s got his server and is on it every day. So if you need help.
Tracy Rotton:
I might. Because one of the Scouts is talking about setting up their own server. But I figured, “Okay, what can I do to help the cause?” Well, I can offer technical advice like, “Always put a password on your Zoom.” Because I was at the Philly WordPress Meetup last week when some bad actors got in.
Amy:
I heard about that.
Tracy Rotton:
And started doing things that were not very pleasant. So I’m worried that even for Zooms that are not announced to the public, that somebody can just randomly go into codes, whatever. So always put a password on Zoom this might like…
Angela:
Tell me about this, with the password on the Zoom. We’re running our meetups virtually. I have Zoom set up and I know that I can assign a password. But if I publicize that password, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? How do you get the password to the people who are coming?
Tracy Rotton:
See that’s a great question. I would think that that would not be your only level of protection. So maybe put out the Zoom password or the Zoom meeting ID separate from the Zoom password. Find two different channels of communication. And the other thing is, only let your host present screen is another layer of protection. But yeah, I think Zoom needs to figure out a little bit better because right now you can only have one password for any meeting on your personal ID. I would love to have one for my kids’ piano lesson and one for my clients, and all of that.
I don’t have all of the answers yet. I’m trying to figure it out and offer a sane advice as I can. So, one of the things that I’ve done recently before all this started is I signed up to be a Merit Badge instructor for my son’s troop for programming. And I figured, “Hey, I work from home. This is a job you can do from home. I could probably do all this remotely. And maybe if I seed in the idea of programmers into this next generation, they’ll come up with better programs to solve some of these these issues.” So let them feel like they have a little bit more control over technology rather than just accepting the software as it is. “Well, maybe I can build better software. I can design better software that meets people’s needs better.”
Tracy:
And that’s interesting because I’m at the tail end of Gen X and when I was teaching last year or a year ago now, but I think my class last was about half millennial and half Gen Z. That’s right. And so, they always say that there’s things that’ll skip a generation then I’ll have more in common. That’s something I noticed with the Gen Z. Because the Gen X, I had my own company I started, I mean, even though I’m a tail end, so I’m right at that like, “Oh, I did experience a time before the internet.” But I did live with the internet from college and high school on basically. And so, it was one of those where, “Oh, I saw these things.” I was like, “Oh, well there’s this… I just need to do this thing. Well, I’ll just figure out how to do this. I’ll just teach myself how to code a website by staying up all night.”
And then I started my own company. I started doing client work when I was in college. And I see these kids these days, well like… But they had that same kind of ambition and same kind of thing. They all had their own side gig or like, “Oh, I’m working with a startup,” or, “I’ve got this company.” I found that very encouraging. And I’m hoping that maybe something like this would be like, “Oh, I see a lot of need.” That these things are really… We need better stuff.
Angela:
Yeah.
Tracy:
And hopefully that is. I like that. Being able to hopefully teach that and bring that. Like, you can change it. You can make something new.
Angela:
Yeah. There’s that kid in Washington State who started tracking coronavirus in December before anyone knew it was a thing. And he’s just like a teenager. It’s amazing. I have a client right now. They do mountaineering courses. Well, mountaineering courses have to happen in the mountains with groups of people. And they were due to teach a big avalanche preparedness course in the next few weeks. And that was a big part of their business for April and part of May.
In the last week, they got all of their guides, all hands on deck to put together an online course. We use LearnDash. They’re going to use Zoom. Fingers crossed, this will be part of the classroom, part of their course anyway, they do have to get out into the field at some point, but hoping to give people something to latch onto and stick with them to this hard time. But that whole concept of taking those things that you really think have to be done in person and getting them online is truly fascinating. Besides the Boy Scouts, do you have any other clients or people you know, who are really ramping up to put things online or Tracy or Amy?
Tracy Rotton:
Well, one of my clients is a major real estate firm in the area, and they’re one of my direct clients. And I’m sure they’re going to have to figure out a new way of doing their business. Fortunately, the section that I’m working for is their marketing and communications department so it’s a little bit removed from showing houses. But when we started prepping for this episode, we were debating, the four of us, like how much of this are we going to talk about? I think part of the reason that we’ve spent so much time talking about it in this podcast is really it is going to change mindsets going forward. Not just like once all of this crisis has passed and things are returning relative to normal, there’s going to be ramifications for how we’ve changed the way we work, building these online relationships, online communities, and I think that’s going to persist for a long time.
Amy:
Yeah. I’ve got clients that are having to shift what they do. One of my clients is a yoga studio. And so, they’re starting to record yoga classes, and we’re going to set up their membership site so that people can log on and watch the yoga videos and do yoga. They’ve been Facebook Live streaming, which is fine, but if they want to continue to make income, they need to have some way to charge people, which Facebook live, I don’t know hat that’s possible.
And then I know, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time putting popup messages on websites, letting people know what the business is doing, and how they’re staying safe, and whether they’re open or closed or whatnot. I don’t know for a lot of them how they’re going to move online or how their business is going to change if it’s going to be able to stay in business, and that’s one of my biggest worries.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah. Absolutely. We were having a problem in the county where I live, where restaurants were closing even before all this started. It seemed like my family personally was the kiss of death. Our favorite restaurants just would close and close and close. And now…
Tracy:
I feel like I have the same thing with applications and programs, the same thing.
Tracy Rotton:
I really hope that vegan restaurant that you and I were at in. It’s [crosstalk 00:36:41].
Tracy:
I know because that was really good.
Tracy Rotton:
It’s doing okay.
Tracy:
We should check on that later.
Tracy Rotton:
Probably. But while we have to be mindful of finances, we’re in a pretty good job position, like overall in my family. So we’re not really worried about it but we do want to watch our budget. So we’re trying to keep our meals cooked at home, but we still kind of make it a point like, “Okay. Let’s at least, once a week, go to that independent restaurant we like and get carry-outs. And just try to make sure that we chip in whatever small way.” Hopefully, these businesses can survive. Hopefully, in the long, long term, that this is a glitch on the radar. But it’s really hard to imagine how some of these businesses are going to be able to weather this storm.
Tracy:
Well, it’s one of those. It’s like adapt or fall, basically. And this is the trial by fire on a level we have never seen before.
Tracy Rotton:
Hey, at Maryland… Is it Maryland or Montgomery County where I live, is now allowing carry-out cocktails. I have not just tried this yet.
Angela:
We have margs. You can get your margs to-go in Colorado now. It’s quite awesome. And they recommend, “Why don’t you just get a pitcher, just get a pitcher.”
Tracy:
Milwaukee needs to get on this because I want to be able to order online. And for some reason, I can’t do it in Wisconsin, in Wisconsin.
Tracy Rotton:
Beer and wine delivery, which is also a COVID-19 development. You can do beer and wine delivery, but you can’t do hard alcohol delivery yet. But I keep pestering our local ABS. Like, “When will you guys deliver?”
Amy:
The announcement in Indiana was that they were going to relax on a lot of those rules. One of my favorite restaurants is a bar. And so, on my birthday, we got takeout. And we’re really just not doing takeout, but it was the one-time. It’s my birthday. But at the time, they were saying that they were doing carry-out beer and wine, but then excise shut them down, and said, “You can’t do that.” And then after they shut down the whole state, they lightened the rules, and they’re like, “Now you can carry out. Bring your pitcher. We’ll fill it up.” Everything’s changing. Oh, what was I going to say? I just lost my train of thought.
Tracy Rotton:
When was your birthday?
Amy:
March 18th, so very recent. I keep a very active blog on my business site about tips for businesses, SEO, all kinds of stuff. And I just haven’t been able to write what I would normally write. I just can’t keep writing like it’s business as usual. So my goal now is to write blog posts on how to run your business during this time of pandemic. I wrote about things you can do to move your business online. Like with the restaurants, they’re all taking phone orders, and I’m like, “Give me an hour and you’re menu, and I will set you up to order online.”
Tracy:
Exactly.
Tracy Rotton:
Just get a menu online that’s not PDF.
Tracy:
Yes.
Angela:
Right.
Tracy Rotton:
That’s a start.
Amy:
And it’s, set up online scheduling, set up Zoom meetings. I mean, there’s all kinds of things businesses can do to go online. And not only does that help them stay in this, but it helps those of us that are doing this job to stay in business too.
Angela:
Definitely.
Tracy:
Yeah. And I’m sure right now there’s… I mean years and years and years and years and years ago, I did a custom WordPress site for one of our local restaurants. And I made… Because I didn’t… There was no plugins for restaurants for menus and online ordering, so I made my own back then. But now I’m pretty sure there’s probably maybe one or 700 different plugins that would do that.
Angela:
Yeah. Our local bagel place, they sent an email out. And I swear, I wouldn’t have thought I need bagels. Because I don’t get bagels that often because it’s really high carb and stuff. But they’re like, “But we also have groceries.” Because see the restaurants are able to get wholesale food and they can deliver that to you. So a lot of these restaurants where we are, it’s like, “Not only can you get tacos, but we can also bring you some vegetables and these other things.” So the bagel place I get online, I get… They have milk, eggs, cheese, and then all the bagel stuff, and green cheese, and Lox and all of that.
Tracy:
That’s great.
Angela:
And so, in half an hour, I had a gallon of milk, one fat milk, a dozen eggs. They don’t count very well. For some reason we had, I don’t know, 14 eggs just in this giant carton that was only partially full. But it’s like, “Hey, I’ll take the eggs.” But in some place, some restaurants are chopping food because they have prep. Right? So instead of giving you their restaurant menu, they can become food prep and cartons and bring you stuff to make stuff with. And so yeah, but the restaurants are certainly having a hard time. My brother has an automotive repair shop. How do you repair cars if people aren’t bringing them in or not driving them?
Amy:
Well, I wrote about that in my blog post. You can have online scheduling, schedule your time. You drop off the car. You leave the keys in it. You go away. The mechanic comes out. They get the car, no interaction, work on the car, email you or call you when it’s ready. Leave it outside. I mean you can make this happen.
Tracy Rotton:
How do go away though? All the public transportation systems are shut down.
Amy:
You’re going to [crosstalk 00:42:12].
Tracy Rotton:
Metro closed nineteen stations here.
Amy:
Well, I’m a runner so I just run home.
Tracy Rotton:
Maybe not an option for some people in rural areas.
Tracy:
Milwaukee, the public transit is still going. I don’t know. I think some places are still running.
Amy:
I guess I was just assuming that people have a spouse that would follow them like I do. And that’s not realistic because that’s not the way everybody lives.
Tracy:
Well, there you go. Now you have, I don’t know some sterilized automobile transit back to… Yeah, like an Uber but…
Angela:
He did the contactless drop off before everyone was thinking about it. And he does this whole sanitizing wipe down of the cars and everything. And so, he had that all in place and the science and everything and here’s the key drop. But then suddenly the phone stopped ringing because everyone was told to stay at home, and they’re staying at home. And I guess legally or insurance-wise, you can’t go like, “Then get their car for them and just drive it back.” Because that was an option. But it’s like, “Oh no, I can’t really do that.”
Tracy Rotton:
But it’s a great idea though.
Angela:
I know it’s a great idea.
Tracy Rotton:
Concierge service.
Tracy:
Yeah.
Angela:
It would be like valet.
Tracy Rotton:
Yeah.
Angela:
It’s been so great talking to you. I hope that you take that Sass class that you’re doing. And what I would recommend is that you actually set a date and invite people to your presentation because that will get you to get it done. And you can invite all of your Twitter friends like us, and we will come watch you present even if you just do an hour like do your WordCamp talk for a select audience of people, all of us can commit to an hour. And I would love to see the latest of Sass.
Tracy Rotton:
That’s a great idea. I will certainly try to work that into the plan for this. But I definitely want to make the effort and spur myself into actually doing something more than just reading the doom and gloom on Twitter.
Amy:
For sure. Well, it’s been great having you on today before we go, can you tell everybody where they can find you online?
Tracy Rotton:
You can find me at Taupecat. T-A-U-P-E-C-A-T. I’m mostly on Twitter, although I have dipped my toes getting back into Instagram but just look for me on Twitter. And where you can find my website, taupecatstudios.com is my business site. And I’ve got a bunch of blog posts at taupecat.com which is more my personal site.
Amy:
Awesome. Thanks for being with us.
Tracy Rotton:
Well, thank you again for having me. And I hope everybody stays safe, stays well, stays at home, and together we’ll get through this.
Tracy:
Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much.
Amy:
We’d like to give a special thank you to mal care for sponsoring this episode. Want to be on the show? Sign up on our website at womeninwp.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and join our Facebook group. Thanks for listening. See you next time.

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