I trained and worked as a graphic designer back in the UK. During that time I was employed by several publishing companies in Bath and Bristol, a design agency with contracts for Dyson, The National Trust and Booker and a public relations/marketing business in Cumbria.
After moving to Spain in 2005, I switched almost completely from print work into the online space, initially in web design and then web development.
I’ve built a broad range of skills during this time and I’m going to seem dreadfully self absorbed, but here’s what I believe are the most relevant bits of my skill set. I’ll also try to explain anything that may not be obvious. Coffee may help.
While I occasionally still turn my hand to print design, having been largely out of the loop for some years, I don’t take on major print projects.
I used to work daily with industry standard software at a quite advanced level.
I still dip into them occasionally, but I tend to use open source equivalents more now.
I started by building several CMS based sites from scratch and then worked with several frameworks, including ModX, Codeigniter and Laravel, before moving to WordPress about 5 years ago. I’ve also worked with Drupal, but would pull my own fingernails before choosing to work with that again.
I can adapt and scratch build WordPress themes. I’ve also written a number of internal WordPress plugins, including for the new Gutenberg Block Editor. One of these, The Builder, is at the heart of our upcoming plans for a membership site.
With hosted services, my experience is limited to Mailchimp, SendinBlue and MailerLite, but I’ve got a lot of experience with self-hosted Mautic.
The hosted version of Mautic used to start at $$$s per month, though now you have to request a quote. Do it yourself though and a $5 per month VPS and Amazon SES makes this silly cheap for the power it packs.
However, if SSH sounds like librarian speak and Bash is what you do when hubby rolls in drunk, Mautic is not something for you to try on your own. If those terms make perfect sense, connecting to SES will still scroll your nurd.
To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with Mautic. It can be a bugger to configure and the caching system reveals occasional frailties.
Which is why I’m currently testing the Groundhogg WordPress plugin. In the long term though, I suspect I’ll be back with Mautic.
Most web hosting is Shared Hosting. Lots of websites are put on a single server and share all the resources. If just a few sites are busy at any time, that works great.
If lots of sites are busy at the same time, it can lead to all of them running slowly. Additionally, if your site hogs a lot of resources, some hosts may limit the resources available to your site or even take it offline altogether.
A VPS or Virtual Private Server is a web hosting option that guarantees a minimum level of resources for your site at all times. While it also has multiple websites on a single server, they’re separated and each has its own pool of resources.
If one site is very busy, it may run slowly but none of the other sites are affected.
I’ve run our own VPSs for about a decade and have made most of the mistakes available to me. The first few years were quite the headache. The last few years have been largely pain free.
With some technical know how, you can run a VPS very cheaply. If you don’t have the tech know how, Cloudways can still be quite attractive for some packages.
A big lesson learned from managing our VPSs was never to mix a web server with an email server.
I’ve run our own email server for a few years as it’s a cost effective way to handle email for a lot of domains.
However, if you’ve just one domain there are better options. I’m currently using Zoho for our latest project and while the set up will hurt if you’re non-techie, once running it seems fine.
There are plenty of places to get lead magnets made, so I’m not a cost effective option, though that may not be the case with dynamic PDFs.
At least the calculators work on mobile Reader though, unlike any that show or hide elements.
I once created a PDF that let users adjust virtual camera settings to understand how shutter speed, aperture size and ISO affect the appearance of a photo. Great lead magnet for desktop users, a lead balloon on mobile.
I’ve worked with Shopify in the past, but it can become expensive quite quickly. My preference now is WooCommerce on WordPress.
Even if you just sell a single product, WooCommerce makes a lot of sense just for its shopping cart. It can handle digital and physical products and make sure you’re applying the correct taxes.
The USA appears to be on the verge of becoming a nightmare for online sellers, but the auto tax calculations will take care of that. The downside is that taxes are only applied at checkout, but that may be only way for US sellers to handle the otential changes.
WooCommerce can take some getting used to, but I can set a site up pretty quickly now. Last time I timed myself, I think it took about 32 minutes, though that was using a tool I built called Winston.
The following is no Chariots of Fire, but the video’s still probably better than most of Will Ferrell’s recent output.
Would you believe I used to be much, much worse on video!
I caught some tough breaks, a face made for radio and a voice made for newspapers.
We used MemberPress on WordPress for our one short lived membership site and would certainly go with it again. That said for our next project, we’ll be led by what ever affiliate solution we select will integrate with.
If affiliate considerations don’t apply and an evergreen drip system isn’t required, a membership site could be set for the cost of a WooCommerce subscriptions payment addon plus a few dozen lines of PHP. If PayPal is acceptable for taking payments, a membership can even be created for free.
Ultimately though, the first step should be to work out exactly what features are required and then match those to solutions available. There’s plenty of options available and they’re all well priced when you consider the potential returns.
I’ve been working with Thrive Themes for several years now and they are a cost effective solution.
That said though, since the Thrive Architect launch debacle, I moved almost entirely to Elementor. Architect is a sound page builder now, but as with Elementor, there is a learning curve.
I had plans to build a product teaching building sales funnels with Elementor, but unless you hanker to be a designer, there’s a lot to learn before even considering the sales aspects of a page.
That’s why I’ve spent more than 1,000 hours building a much easier to use solution that works with the Gutenberg block editor.
To accompany my page building skills, so far my 2018 reading material has exclusively been books on sales, marketing, copy writing and the psychology of persuasion. We’re a surprisingly basic lot underneath.
Did you really read all the way to here? Maybe you need to get out more. Perhaps take a stroll in the park, join an amateur theatrics group or get a cat.
Just don’t get one like Dimrose. She peed on my head once.