002: Talking Leadership with Tara Claeys

In our second episode, we talk with Tara Claeys about getting involved in WordPress Meet-ups, getting started at organizing meet-ups, and becoming a leader in the local WordPress scene.

ABOUT TARA: I build custom websites for small businesses, specializing in websites for schools, kid’s camps and programs as well as nonprofits. I am active in the WP community. I run a local WordPress Meetup in the DC area speak at WordCamps manage a Slack group called the Business of WordPress and co-host the Hallway Chats podcast with Liam Dempsey.

FIND TARA: Design TLC | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Tara Claeys
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
002: Talking Leadership with Tara Claeys

Show Notes

We spoke to Tara about running a home business, learning Javascript deeply (or not), finding your niche and saying no, meeting people in the WordPress community, attending WordCamps, finding good images for websites, and getting encouragement from your peers.

Tools, services, people, and places mentioned in this episode include:


Amy M.: 00:04 Welcome to episode two of Women in WordPress. I’m Amy Masson

Angela B.: 00:10 I’m Angela Bowman.

Tracy A.: 00:11 I’m Tracy Apps.

Amy M.: 00:13 And today we have our very first guest, Tara Claeys, owner of Design TLC, who builds custom websites for small businesses specializing in websites for schools and kids, camps and programs for nonprofits. Thank you for being here today, Tara.

Tara C.: 00:28 Thank you for having me. I’m so excited. I’m super honored to be your second episode person. So thanks so much. I have watched you since your very first tweet about this, and we’ve talked about it. So it’s really cool to see that you brought it to life.

Amy M.: 00:41 Yeah. Well you were one of the people I talked to about at WordCamp US about this whole idea. So, thank you for supporting us. So I want to ask, my first question is, what was your path, your journey to WordPress?

Tara C.: 00:56 Hmm. So like probably I listened to your stories last week and found them super interesting. And, and you know, I talked to a lot of WordPress people on my podcast. And so similarly, not a direct route. I was a communications and fine arts major in college and worked in the advertising industry before computers were a thing before cell phones were a thing and, so I did that for a good bit and then I had kids. And similar to you, Amy, I, you know, really focused on being a mom. So I did not go back to my job that I had at MCI where I was doing direct mail marketing, which was one of the more boring things you could ever do. And, so was really happy to be able to stay home with my kids. My husband traveled a lot and so I did that. But while I did that, I was encouraged by my boss to start a little hobby business. I was a little, did a little illustration and so I started networking with other moms at playgroups and things like that and started selling my artwork and then computers started being used and printers. And so I started making stationary. And it sort of spun and evolved. And some of the people who bought my stationary happened to have small businesses and I had built a website on Front Page, so they had me build websites. And so I started doing that. And then I got really sick of making thousands of Christmas cards and ruining my holidays and having reams of paper and ink cartridges in my home because I did everything in my home office.

Tara C.: 02:28 I had a huge commercial cutter and everything and it was really fun. And then tiny prints also came along and it was kind of, you know, like what my lines aren’t cut really straight and I’m using just to kind of amateur equipment. So I gave up the paper and decided to focus on digital graphic design and websites. And somebody mentioned WordPress to me. And so I decided to figure it out. And so I did. And also similar to you didn’t know there was a WordPress community or anything. I happened upon it really by complete accident. And my first WordCamp was in Baltimore, I think it was 2013. And just by happenstance, Chris Lema was the keynote speaker. And I did not know who he was, but I remembered maybe having seen him on like a blog post that I’d read or something. And so I sat down at lunch and he was at my table. It was just me and him and Shay Bocks, who I also had no idea who she was. And she was very humble and introduced herself. And then it came out that she had like the biggest selling theme in Genesis.

Tara C.: 03:26 So I had never even heard of Genesis. So from there I kind of started using Genesis and became addicted to the WordCamp community and WordPress in general. And I got Twitter at that. I never had Twitter before that. And so I think Twitter also was a big part of my evolution as a WordPress person because you learn so much through Twitter. So that’s my story.

Amy M.: 03:51 I find it really interesting that your first WordCamp was 2013 and so was mine. And the keynote speaker at the one I went to was Chris Lema.

Tara C.: 04:00 Ah, did you sit with them at lunch?

Amy M.: 04:02 I didn’t. No. I didn’t talk to anybody because I was terrified that people would realize that I had no idea what I was doing and I shouldn’t be there. So no, I didn’t talk to people. No.

Tara C.: 04:13 Yeah, it was really great. I really am grateful for that first experience. When I was starting to learn WordPress I had also been using DreamWeaver a little bit and I remember this guy that I found online. I was trying to learn CSS a little bit and I didn’t know really about the inspector, which is funny because now I have given talks at WordCamps about using the inspector. But I found this guy online. But his website was—and it probably still exists—is like askbrian.com [http://www.brianwoodtraining.com/], and he was not a WordPress person at all. He was an Adobe person and I think maybe he does mostly Adobe. You could pay him like $75 or something like that for them for a month. And you could ask him as many questions as you wanted. And so I would be building a website and would have no idea, like why isn’t this link turning this color? Because I didn’t know how to figure it out. I didn’t know what the inspector was. So he’d shoot an email back to me right away and tell me exactly where to go to fix it. And I was thinking, how did he know how to do that so fast? He’s so smart. And then finally I found the inspector and then I realized you could actually edit in the inspector and try things out. And so ask Brian was, was my real entry into learning how to code, but it was not, not WordPress related or even the right way to learn, but it worked for me.

Amy M.: 05:32 Oh, I don’t know if there’s a wrong way in a right way to learn. I think we all have our paths that take us to a similar destination.

Tara C.: 05:38 Yeah, I think that’s true. But I definitely could have done it in a more direct route that would have saved me time and taught me better practices.

Tracy A.: 05:48 Couldn’t we all?

Tara C.: 05:50 That’s true. That’s true. I wish that they would’ve had computer science when I was in college. They hardly had computers, but…

Angela B.: 05:57 Right, right. Yeah, I was in the 80s and we did have computers, but they were dual disc floppy drives. So yes.

Tara C.: 06:04 Yeah. We had a Mac.

Angela B.: 06:05 There was, there was not even a browser back then. There was no internet.

Tara C.: 06:09 That’s right.

Amy M.: 06:11 My freshman year of college, they were talking about Mosaic, if that will ring any bells. That was like the very first web browser. So we quickly moved into Netscape, but so maybe not as far back as some of you.

Tara C.: 06:26 At my ad agency we pitched to America Online because they were headquartered here in northern Virginia where I live. And we had to figure out what that was, what’s email? We didn’t know. That was like a foreign thing, and we didn’t get the account unfortunately, but we did pitch them.

Angela B.: 06:46 I think it’s fascinating that you went to your first WordCamp in 2013, which it seems like yesterday, but that was actually six years ago now, right? Now you’re leading meetup groups, you have your Slack community, and you talk at WordCamps. Talk about like what prompted you to get so out there and, why are you leading a meetup and what impact has that had on you? What impact do you feel like you’ve had on others, specifically as a woman in that space?

Tara C.: 07:16 Yeah, that’s a good question. I suppose I’ve always been somebody who likes to lead things and I really love connecting people. We have a really big and successful meetup in DC and I started going to that around the same time I started going to WordCamps and I would go every single month. There was a guy there who was really gung-ho and he was very encouraging and I hardly knew what I was doing, but he encouraged me to give a talk. Like a lightening talk. And so I did that, and I found it gave me an excuse to learn something better. So I really enjoyed the experience of being forced to learn something. And I just became more of a sort of a fixture at that meetup. It’s in the city, and Washington DC is very accessible city. I live very close to it, like just eight miles away. I can get down there pretty quickly, but if you live a little bit farther out in the suburbs in Maryland or in Virginia, it’s a hassle to get down there and it’s a little intimidating if you’re not that familiar with it.

Tara C.: 08:18 I also really wanted to be an organizer and they were full up on their organizing committee. They didn’t really need more people. They have a very established group of organizers there. And so I decided to start my own. I had been at another WordCamp and I heard Liam Dempsey, ironically talking about immediate that he does outside of Philly. So I was sitting there at that WordCamp in the audience and on my phone I made a meetup just right there. I was just kind of toying with the idea of whether to make it my own, whether to apply for the chapter, or to just do it on my own. So I did it on my own for a bit and had to find a place, and two people came and it was kind of pathetic.

Tara C.: 09:06 Then I approached the DC organizers and asked if they would allow me to become part of their chapter because there are a lot of other cities. I mean, Washington DC is a big city and the meetup is big and it’s the only one, one per month. And I thought people might really appreciate having another option. So that’s sort of where that came from. So they agreed and I’m now part of the DC meetup, which the benefit of that is that now our meetup show up in the WordPress dashboard. So our attendance has really gone up and broadened and I have just as many people coming from Maryland as I do from Virginia. People come a long way for them. We have probably a maximum 25 to 30 people at each of our meetups, where as DC is more like 50 or more.

Tara C.: 09:53 DC is sponsored by an agency, so they have free pizza and beer and it’s easy to go there. I don’t know if you guys organize meetups, but when you don’t charge for them and they’re free, the rate of attendance versus the RSVP number is very hard to guess. And it’s usually 50% or less.

Angela B.: 10:18 Mine’s a little different because I do have about 50 people who come each month. Maybe a few people don’t show up, but we typically have most people show up.

Tara C.: 10:33 So you do have 50 people each time?

Angela B.: 10:37 About, yeah.

Tara C.: 10:38 And you’re a chapter?

Angela B.: 10:40 No, we’re our own meetup in Boulder. It’s just not a big town. It’s like 80,000, not including the students.

Tara C.: 10:53 So how long have you been doing it?

Ange: 10:58 A friend of mine started it five years ago and then I took it over a year ago. When she was doing it, there weren’t as many people, but since I took it over, we have a full room. We have to move tables and chairs and pack it tight.

Tara C.: 11:12 Where do you hold it?

Angela B.: 11:14 I hold it where I teach [Boulder Digital Arts]. We have a classroom that seats 32, but we move the tables around so we can get 50 in there. We have, we have a good turnout. And then I do a developers’ meetup as well, but that usually only has maybe 15 to 20.

Tara C.: 11:30 That’s still really good.

Angela B.: 11:32 We’re kind of a tech center in Boulder, so that might be kind of it. We have a lot of tech industry, but it’s not like DC. I think people are just so hungry for information. What do you feel, in terms of your audience participation, how many men versus women come and what kind of skill levels do you feel are coming to your meetups, and what impact do you feel that has, especially other women attendees? Do you feel like that they’re getting something out of it and the same way that you have when you connected in with the community?

Tara C.: 12:11 I think it’s pretty frequently beginners, most of the people that attend this meetup. The one in DC, I would say, has more developers, and Washington also is not a really huge WordPress using community. There are a lot of developers here and there’s a lot of Drupal and Ruby on Rails, and that type of thing. There are some active meetup communities for those things as well. Those are mostly men.

Tara C.: 12:39 There’s been a huge range, I think. The first few meetups it seemed like it was all older retired men who were just trying to have a hobby. They want to sit and talk and ask a million questions, and they’re trying to basically build their website there. But we’ve had a good range. I think it’s probably about half and half men and women, and a pretty broad age range as well. There’ve been some older women I’d say, even in their seventies, attending and then a couple of younger women, too. There’s one who has come for a long time to my particular meet up and I’ve gotten to know her well, and sort of mentored her a little bit as she’s been learning more.

Speaker 1: 13:23 There’s an opportunity to meet people when they come back, and there are a few who do repeat. I think a lot of times, especially since it’s showing up in the dashboard, people come based on what the topic is. We try to have beginner oriented topics at this one. Sometimes hard to find people to speak, so next week I’m just doing a question and answer. I used to do a happiness bar, which is what they call it in DC, but I had one experience where one of the people who was helping someone broke the site. I kind of felt bad, you know, offering people to get help when we don’t really vet that. At WordCamps, I don’t really think they do either. There’s an assumption that people who volunteered know what they’re doing and would make a backup or something like that. But at a little meetup, we don’t necessarily do that, nor do I want it to be liable for that. I wouldn’t be, so I’m just trying a question and answer because people always have a million questions. How do you backup your site or whatever, instead of one topic that we focus on. And you said you have food at yours?

Angela B.: 14:28 Well, at one of them. We have a plugin sponsor and a hosting sponsor, so we just have pizza.

Tara C.: 14:40 That’s good. How do you guess how much to buy and take care of the leftovers?

Angela B.: 14:45 My only goal is that the pizza all gets eaten. If the pizza all gets eaten I’ve done my job, right?

Amy M.: 14:53 My WordPress meetup goal: eat pizza.

Tracy A.: 14:57 It’s basically like college groups on campus. There’s free pizza, so we’ll come to this. I don’t care what it is, I’m going for the free pizza.

Angela B.: 15:08 We have a joke in Boulder because there are two meetups: one’s more advanced and one is more of the beginner. So we say, when it’s the advanced group, “This is not the pizza meetup. If you want the beginner stuff, you have to come to the pizza meetup.” It’s not like beginner and developer, it’s like the pizza meetup and the non-pizza meetup.

Tara C.: 15:34 That’s hilarious.

Amy M.: 15:35 My area doesn’t have a WordPress meetup so I’m curious when you go to one or you, when you’re running one, what are the typical topics in a more advanced a meetup?

Tara C.: 15:45 Oh Gosh. At the DC there’ve been things that are way over my head. There’s one that’s named after a drink, like bourbon or something?

Tracy A.: 16:00 Oh yeah. Bourbon. [It’s Scotch.]

Tara C.: 16:01 And there’s the box. Something about a box. I don’t even know what that is. And there are a couple of guys here who run something. It’s like…I don’t know. Tracy, you are more developer. You can probably tell me the answer to this. There’s something that has, it has a “V” in it and it’s like a virtual…

Tracy A.: 16:22 Vagrant.

Tara C.: 16:22 Vagrant. Thank you. I just haven’t even thought about those things for so long that I haven’t heard about them, either. Then there was a guy who did a talk on this sort of a system that’s built outside of WordPress, but it works with WordPress. If I think of the name I’ll send it to you so you can put it in the show notes. It has something to do with like forest or trees. You see how things stick in my head?

Tracy A.: 16:46 It’s called good marketing.

Angela B.: 16:52 Are you thinking of Roots/Sage?

Tara C.: 16:54 No.

Angela B.: 17:00 Okay, we’re so curious about that now. What has to do with forrest and trees?

Tara C.: 17:06 I’ll have to find out the name. [Note: It’s Timber and Twig.]

Tracy A.: 17:08 Or we just make up a new one and call it Trees.

Tara C.: 17:11 Yes, we could.

Tracy A.: 17:13 You heard it here first. Speaking of the technical side of things, you came from FrontPage. How did you get from FrontPage? What was your process of learning the WordPress stuff and then learning it enough to be able to just be able to run an agency to be able to do this for clients? That’s a huge accomplishment.

Tara C.: 17:41 Thanks. I’m still learning as we all are. It makes me nervous sometimes when I think about what I don’t know, but I pay a lot of attention to what’s out there, what’s on Twitter. Carrie Dills podcast that she used to have that was live and you could ask questions. I met people through there, learned through that, and connected with people who taught me. Davinder specifically, you know him. He is a big Genesis developer and started using Beaver Builder. He kind of held my hand through that process. So I’m a one on one kind of learner. I am not really great at sitting with a video for all day or reading books. I really am hands on and solve. I learn as I have the need to learn. So I have to figure out how to change the CSS. I’ll figure how to change that CSS or do that thing rather than learn the whole entire concept, which is not really the best way to learn, but you chip away at it and, and then the piece is all kind of fit together and make sense.

Tara C.: 18:48 What I’ve learned over the past couple of years is that I don’t have to be a high level developer, and at my age and at this point in my career and my business, I don’t need to do that. I know people who can help me with that and who can do that if I need it, especially with page builders and the type of sites that I build. They’re not reliant on a lot of custom code, beyond CSS really, and a few functions.

Amy M.: 19:17 I love that you made that point about knowing that you don’t have to learn everything. Because I remember being at the WordCamp US, during the state of the word, where we were told to learn JavaScript and I went home from that and I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to learn JavaScript.” I started signing up and trying to learn it. And I’m like, “Maybe it’s just too late.” I started in BASIC programming, and I could still write some BASIC today, but maybe my brain just can’t wrap itself around JavaScript. But I do have the company at the point where I can hire somebody to write JavaScript for me so I don’t actually have to learn it. And I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one that learning JavaScript deeply.

Tara C.: 20:04 I don’t even know how I would use it, really. I don’t. I haven’t had a need for it, for the type of sites that I’m building. And I may at some point need that. I’ve certainly have had some developers build some custom things for me that are really great. But I wouldn’t say that’s happened more than a couple of times. I were to grow my agency to try to tackle and take on clients that needed that, then certainly I would want it to have somebody on my team. But I still wouldn’t at this point feel the need to learn it because I don’t have enough time or brain power to take that on.

Angela B.: 20:40 I think the context of that is it’s a little bit in the future. But a little bit more immediate context would be with Gutenberg blocks and being able to create those. But I think there’s a lot of tools coming out now to make that easier like Advanced Custom Fields Pro, the paid version. There is a way that you can build Gutenberg blocks using advanced custom fields. It doesn’t require the JavaScript. You have to put some functions in your functions file, which they provide. But it’s just more safe to have the HTML and CSS to get it formatted. And it’s so funny because someone on Twitter was saying, “I’m making these Gutenberg blocks and I think I’m supposed to be this heavy duty programmer, but why am I spending like 90 or 80% of my time just working with CSS?” That’s probably what Gutenberg blocks comes down to: a lot of CSS.

Tara C.: 21:35 Yeah, that’s mostly what I do, too, I think.

Amy M.: 21:41 I really liked your comment about the kind of clients you work with. Because I noticed a lot of times I go to WordCamps and the speakers are talking about their enterprise level clients and there are 20 and $30,000 jobs. Sometimes I sit there and wonder, am I not supposed to be doing these smaller businesses websites that don’t have $20,000 budgets? I feel like maybe there is a market for the kind of websites that we’re doing, or at least, I can’t speak for everybody on this panel that doesn’t require JavaScript deeply, or that you know all of the codes everywhere.

Tara C.: 22:21 Right. And what’s the return on your investment in time or in money to learn it when you’re running a small agency and it’s you and maybe one or two other people helping you? If I were to spend the time and money to learn JavaScript deeply, I don’t think I would ever get that back. Whereas if I just spent time learning SEO, absolutely I can charge my clients for that because every website needs it, and should use it. So that’s where I’d rather spend my effort as a business owner and as a marketer.

Tracy A.: 22:54 What is your favorite part of the process with client work and you’re with all your clients?

Tara C.: 23:03 I like doing it all. You’re not supposed to do at all. There are certain things that I don’t really like, but I’m a really organized process oriented person, so I love setting up the processes. I love the design, although I’m very “imposter syndrome-y” about my design. I didn’t go to design school, but I have design skills and sensibilities. Not as excellent as my business partner, who did go to design school, and can help me sometimes when I’m working on projects without her. But I just love building the sites. Amy and I have talked about this. There’s some great satisfaction in taking something that’s its design phase and making it happen on the web. It’s just a really cool feeling to accomplish that, especially as you learn and you get better at it and you can do it faster and you know the answers. I love solving problems. When a client has an issue I love being able to solve it quickly. So I’m trying to be better at delegating and not trying to be, whatever it is, the the master of none. But I think that for the type of work that I do it, it works okay to be good enough at everything I’m doing, and know what I don’t know.

Tracy A.: 24:22 It’s funny because I always get the same question and I have the same answer. I like the whole process of it. I remember when I was in college and I was taking some graphic design classes, I got down graded all the time because I didn’t have a focus. I didn’t focus on one thing. But I wanted to take photography because that can also help with this communications and client work, and learning web development and teaching that, and learning the design and all of that stuff. It’s the whole package because then you can solve the problem with all of the different pieces, so I really appreciate that aspect of things.

Tara C.: 25:02 I think it’s important to know how to do it all well enough also because sometimes you have to, and sometimes you don’t. But I think it’s good to be able to understand how all the pieces work together in order to be able to delegate, too.

Amy M.: 25:19 There’s something to be said about the business of running an agency versus just being able to build websites, too. I think a lot of people miss that element that if you’re not good at business, or willing to learn how to be good at business, then even though you might be a great developer or a great designer, you might not be successful.

Tara C.: 25:42 Yeah, I think that’s definitely true.

Amy M.: 25:46 And I’ve known people that were developers and really struggled, “I can’t find anybody to hire me. I’m going to start going to these restaurants and offering my services for free because they need new websites.” But they didn’t have the business part down and, and their pitch was not very well received.

Tara C.: 26:01 That’s something great about the WordPress community, I think, is that there are so many people who are learning, are really good at running a business, and have figured it out. So it’s fun to share your ideas and learn from other people on how to do that. Not just the coding, but so many of us are entrepreneurial and work for ourselves or have worked for ourselves. Maybe now you know, you’ve taken a job somewhere and you’re trying out different things, but it’s really helpful. I don’t think I would be doing this still if I hadn’t met so many great people who’ve become friends and who share the same challenges and victories that I share—and you guys probably, too.

Tara C.: 26:37 You know, this is a women-focused podcast, and I was thinking about that a lot today as I was thinking about joining you guys. I think I’m old fashioned compared to a lot of people probably in our WordPress space. I’m older, but I also was a stay at home mom. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with men in an office environment, or anything like that. Even before I left my jobs, I had really awesome women bosses and a couple of really awful male bosses. So I’ve always been really comfortable with women. Working with women, and not that I’m not comfortable working with men, but I just gravitate toward women. I think I relate to them better, and just really enjoy sharing all of what life has, not just business but, motherhood and all of that too. So for me in the WordPress space, finding a community of women has been invaluable. Some women like Amy and Angela, I heard your story, who have raised children, or are raising children, and know what that’s like. So that’s my little spiel about that.

Tara C.: 28:01 But I’m very grateful and, and I’ve met amazing men in the WordPress space, too. I find the WordPress space to be very welcoming to all genders, and I really am glad to be part of the community for that reason, too. The men in the WordPress space are so inclusive that it’s a joy to work with them, too. So yeah, it’s a great place to be.

Angela B.: 28:24 As that person, you’re building these sites for schools, right? Is it elementary schools? And my question around that is you’re talking about sharing, how we share—we’re all about sharing our tips and our expertise, and you like doing that—for other people who were working with organizations that work with children and build school sites. What would be your top tip for them in building successful websites for that space?

Tara C.: 28:58 That’s a really interesting question. This is a new thing for me and I don’t know if I really have the right answer, or an answer for it, because it’s pretty new to me. But I have followed Sara Dunn for a while and she’s a friend as well. She’s really taken on the mantle of specialization and having a niche. I fought against that because I really have never marketed my business and I would take whatever kind of came my way, and it just happened to come my way at the right time. It’s always been very fortuitous to have a new clients referred to me and whatever they do, any range of things—not as many as Amy and not as many strange magicians and mind readers, but a variety of clients— and after doing that for a number of years, and last year having maybe a few bad experiences with clients, and realizing where my strengths lie and thinking about my goals and all of those things, when I turned 50, I decided I really was going to kind of look at my life and see what I wanted it to be about. And so I really wanted to work on sites that I enjoyed working on. And what I looked at my portfolio and listed the clients that I enjoyed the most and the websites I enjoyed the most, they were all child focused. It’s been a while since I had little kids, but I just have that sensibility, and so for me to work on content that I enjoy working with makes me do a better job. So I decided that I was going to try to focus on that and actually go out and try to win some clients in that niche.

Tara C.: 30:39 So we’ll see how that goes. I did just sign a client in the niche, so that’s pretty exciting. But in terms of what makes it successful or not successful, it’s the same as any other website has to be. All of the things that we know about having a usable website, having it load quickly, and having the messaging be good. And, and for these sites, what’s really fun is that usually the images are awesome. You get these great photographs of cute kids doing things, learning. That kind of thing is fun to work with, much more fun than the financial advisor or the accountant website, which you have to get some kind of an image at the top because every website has an image at the top. And what are you going to use, a stock photo? You find a stock photo of people in an office or something like that. And you can look at a hundred of them and it’s still not the one that the client likes, and then they decide they want a picture of trees or something.

Tara C.: 31:40 So I’ve kind of just decided that I can at this point be choosier about the content that I work with. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do anything else, but I’m labeling myself as that and going out and trying to get some business in that niche because I think I’m good at it. The sites I’ve built are my favorite, and so that’s that.

Tracy A.: 32:02 I’m the same way. I have to do something I believe in or else I’m like, “Who did that?” I did a site for a service dog nonprofit. Everything I designed was so beautiful because there were cute dogs everywhere. You can’t design bad when you have really good photos like that.

Amy M.: 32:29 I think always the projects come out better if you care about the content. Now let me ask you this. I know we’re getting close to time, but when it comes to turning down the jobs that aren’t in your niche, or that you’re not the darn sparking joy, I find as a woman and as somebody that’s a people pleaser, I really struggle to say no and to like not help people. Is that, do you guys experience that too?

Angela B.: 32:57 I just actually had a really bad experience because I have people write to me on my website every day wanting me to build their site. So I said no to someone. I said, “Well, I could see if anyone in my space, my group, I have this group.” And one of my group members decide to take it on and, the guy ended up being a scammer. And so now I’m going to just say, “No, I’m busy.” Unless it’s a referral or something. But what’s your experience?

Tara C.: 33:28 I have not said no all that often and usually it’s because the budget is too low. Um, Then I will find somebody else who might like to do the job. But I have fired a couple of clients who were not being nice, and that’s not easy to do, either.

Tara C.: 33:46 I just had an experience where I, in my cold calling, had a potential client who I would just love, love, love to work on it. I mean, it would be just be so much fun. And he was a great guy, really fun. I gave him a proposal and I thought we had talked about the budget. I had talked to one of his colleagues about a budget and I guess it didn’t get translated. So when I sent him the proposal, he just about flipped out at how much it was. I sent him a handwritten note and said I really would love to work with you if you get more budget. I was hoping that something would come through, and he emailed me back and thanked me for the nice handwritten note and told me what his budget was, and it was less than a third of what my proposal was. So, as much as I would love to do that, and probably a year or two ago I would have totally done it for a couple thousand bucks, I would have done it. But I just can’t. I can’t do that now. It’s just I would be probably resentful. And then when you’re doing something for less than what you feel it’s valued at, you feel like the client shouldn’t have any say, or at least I do. Like if I’m doing a favor for a friend, it’s kind of like you take what you get if I’m giving this to you, and that’s not the right way to operate. So I think you have to have your mindset in the right place and, and trust your gut a little bit too.

Amy M.: 35:03 I think it’s more common among women is that difficulty saying no and not wanting to help everybody. And I’ve had a few people get kind of upset when I’ve turned them away. Tara knows, because I tweet about it as some of my crazy inquiries I get. So I think that’s something that we can all work on is just being better about saying no and standing firmly. But also, how do you say no in a way that’s not, “I just don’t want to work with you because I don’t like your project.” It’s hard to say.

Tara C.: 35:37 I’ve learned that from the community because I think we’ve shared enough stories. People have put out in our Slack group about how to handle things like that. There are some people who offer really great language and a really great way to phrase it that makes it easier to do. You get encouragement from your peers to stand up for yourself and charge what you’re worth, and don’t let yourself be treated poorly and trust your gut, all that stuff. So it’s great to have a community standing behind you and helping you with those tough calls.

Tracy A.: 36:11 Well, Tara, I would like to thank you so much for being our very first guest. We’re so happy you could be here and tell everybody where we can find you online.

Tara C.: 36:25 I’m TaraClaeys on Twitter, which is C-L-A-E-Y-S. And my website is designtlc.com. And also if you’re not all podcasted out, I have a podcast with Liam Dempsey called Hallway Chats. We chat with people in the WordPress space, and give them a voice to share their story. Kind of similar to what you’re doing.

Amy M.: 36:48 And it’s a great podcast. I’ve listened to it.

Angela B.: 36:51 And thanks for being part of our little community that we’re trying to create here.

Tara C.: 36:54 Oh, I’m a hundred percent behind you guys. I think this is great. I’m looking forward to hearing more.

Amy M.: 37:00 Thank you so much.

Thanks to @jgamet with Smile Software, the makers of TextExpander, for editing the transcript this week!

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