New Course: 4 Steps to Starting a WordPress Blog Website

4 Steps to Starting a WordPress Blog WebsiteOver the years I have spoken with a lot of people who just want to build a simple website to start their idea. They either do not have a budget to have a designer build them a website or they want to do it on their own. Regardless, I have created a free course that teaches just how easy it is to setup a WordPress website. In 4 steps, or about 20 minutes, you can setup a WordPress website and start posting content. Whether you are wanting to start a blog to post about something you are passionate about or you want to build a new website for your business, this course is for you. It gets you up and running in no time.

To sign up for the free course, visit this link: https://www.udemy.com/4-steps-to-starting-a-wordpress-blog-website

At the end of the course, I provide 20 minutes of bonus audio discussion on building a successful website. From there, you will need to learn how to use WordPress. Well, I have a course for that as well and it’s also free titled “Getting Started With WordPress – A Beginners Guide.”

To sign up for the free course, visit this link: https://www.udemy.com/getting-started-with-wordpress-a-beginners-guide

These courses are free to take.

On Working for Others

Melancholy Jerad HillNobody tells you that when you go into business for yourself, you will still have a boss. The allure of being able to set your own hours and work in your pajamas just isn’t true for the majority. There have been days I have worked from home and in my pajamas but that only happens maybe a couple of times each year. I only mention this because this is the misconception most people have for the self employed. Being a creative, this misconception is placed upon me even more. Before I get into this, let me say this: I love being self employed. Though I yearn for stability of a regular paycheck at times, being self employed is very fulfilling. I honestly do not know if I could go to work for someone else without having complete creative control like I do with my own business.

Here is what most people do not realize about self employed. We have bosses. Our bosses are our clients. The clients who hire us to do work, have expectations like a boss does. They want the work completed to perfection and under budget if possible. The key phrase here is, “the client has expectations.” There is nothing wrong with expectations. Expectations are there to serve as an understanding. Just as in marriage, my wife has expectations of what my role is and I of her. Those of you who have worked for someone else have probably been in a situation where you were forced to do work a certain way that contradicts the way you would have preferred to do it. What I am saying is that you know of a better way, yet you are forced to do it the way your boss wants it done. This could relate to many things such as the steps you take to get to a certain result or even the fact that you are doing the task at all. I am not saying that my clients tell me how work needs to be done, but they all have their own ideas of what they want. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.

What I find almost laughable is how exact most of my clients are on what they want even though they don’t really understand what it is. They know just about every detail of how they want something to look or function, almost to the point that I wonder why they don’t just do it themselves. There is nothing wrong with this as we live in an information age where most of us can research just about anything. In this way, I am no different than my clients. The issue is that most people have no idea what they need, they just saw something, and it made sense to them, so what they saw is what they feel they need. I hope that makes sense because I am writing out of a slightly frustrated state.

Here is an example: A client explains a feature they want to have on their website. They explain to me the intended result of what this feature needs to achieve. At this point, I have a solid understanding of what they want to achieve and in my head I have formulated a process in which to make it happen. This is where as the hired creative, I should be left to do what I do best. However, the client saw how this worked on another website that doesn’t do what he does but for some reason their widget made them feel a certain way, so he studied it for hours until he had convinced himself that it was exactly what he needed. The client then details exactly how they want this to work. Processes that I had just formulated in my head start conflicting with what the client originally told me he wanted to achieve. It is starting to sound like the client does not really understand what he wants. He knows the result of what he wants, but everything in between is kind of messed up.

This is where I as a creative, and someone who genuinely cares about his clients desires, always interject with my thoughts and begin the process of explaining to my client why this widget he saw on another website won’t work for his situation. In rare instances a client will feel enlightened and will realize that my solution is what they need. In most cases the client has already made up his or her mind and can not be swayed.

My problem is this: I am not the type of person that will do work for someone that I know is not going to achieve their original goal. Sure I could probably make a lot more money this way but I know that when the work was done, and it did not function the way the client envisioned it working, the blame would be put on me for giving the client exactly what they asked for. It’s human nature. If everybody got everything they asked for and it worked, why would we need professionals in any field. WebMD would be enough for us to self diagnose all of our ailments and we could just go down to the pharmacy and get all the drugs we needed to cure all of the diseases we most likely don’t have. That and we all would probably die. Of course I realize that I am not saving lives here, but I am trying to save my clients money. This is where just about 80% of the time, my job goes thankless.

Clients love to assume that everything was their idea to begin with. When you put in the extra work to make it great or make suggestions that will improve the process, it doesn’t really matter because it was the clients idea to begin with. Thankfully I did not go into business to be showered in admiration. Even my clients whose business has increased year over year due to the additional exposure my work has gotten them do not think about me when they look at their bank account balances. That is not why I got into working for myself. The 80/20 rule applies here just like it does with most things. 80% of the joy you get out of doing good work will come from 20% (or less) of those people.

As a creative speaking on behalf of all creatives, you can’t let this get you down. I listen to what my clients need and then I make suggestions regardless of their desire for my input. I know for a fact that I have lost business because I told a client they needed something else. People are stubborn and are going to spend their money on what they already decided upon. This is where ethics comes into play.

I cannot ethically take money from people who I can see are just going to throw it away on the wrong idea. I know that someone else will, but I do my best to look into what they are trying to do and help direct them into a better solution for their problem. Because of this, I have been told that I don’t know what I am talking about and once was told I was arrogant and should “know the facts” before making suggestions about something I don’t know anything about. I am fine with losing that kind of business. Life is too short to have to work for or with those kind of people. There is a special kind of geek out there that doesn’t mind working for a dictator. That geek can have his money. Maybe I am wrong. I would love to see them succeed and I hope they return to throw their success in my face. I would be genuinely happy for them.

This year I have dealt with what seems like 10 times the amount of people who have wanted something only for me to find out that what they needed is something else. I have no problem with this situation. The problem lies in the fact that these days people don’t want to hear it. They have emotionally invested so much of their time into something because their competitor did it this way and “appeared” successful at it or they read some article on a tech website that said it was a “must have.” Because of that emotional connection they have, if someone suggests something different or even asks a question to help better understand why they want that solution, they get upset. What always confuses me is that they say they came to me because they wanted a “professional” to handle it for them.

When it comes to my own decision making process, I often am the same as my clients. I want something a certain way because I researched it and decided that I wanted it that way. Because of the time I invested in researching the idea, I am willing to do what it takes to make it happen. When I hire someone to do the work, I expect exactly what I asked for. The difference between me and many of the people I come in contact with is that I recognize that when it does not work the way I thought it would, I accept fault for making the wrong decision. I do not blame the failure of my decision on someone else. I recognize that my idea was not the best solution for the problem and corrections are made from there. What happens in most cases is that the client can not see what made their idea fail, so it must be the fault of the creative or developer. They either give up on their idea or take all of the ideas I suggested along the way, and go to a competitor of mine. I just had two professional services providers take the exact work I created on their behalf to a competitor of mine. I gladly handed over the work because if a client can not see the value in what was created it is not long until they will create the same kind of problems for the next person they work with. What am I saying, they obviously saw the value in the content because they continued to use it after leaving for a competitor. Life is too short to deal with people like that.

No relationship is ever going to be perfect. I know that from just about every experience I have had on this planet in my 34 years. I do not expect clients to sing my praises and shower me with accolades. I do not feel like I am a superhero who leaps tall buildings in a single bound, nor do I want to feel that way. I guess the whole reason for writing this post is just to vent. Sometimes as a person who creates, whether you work for someone else, or you work for yourself, you need to vent about it. No better place to do that than publically, right?

If you are a creative who works for him/herself or are one of many creatives at a company who performs services for clients, don’t let this discourage you. Even having the ability to work in an industry where there is such a wide variety of options and technology is a blessing. Our industry moves so fast that it is almost impossible to get bored. We live in a communal world where we have to interact with each other. Nothing is going to change there. I am just thankful that I get to learn so much about what other people do and despite the fact that I don’t always get to implement my suggested solutions, it’s still cool to see what people are doing and are passionate about.

If you are a client of a creative, especially one of my clients, and you are reading this; don’t worry. I don’t loathe working with you and please do not assume that you are a dictator because I said the word dictator once in this post. We all have frustrations with things. I spent an hour complaining about the latest iPhone’s camera the other day. Nothing is perfect and I don’t think any of us ever seek perfection, we just want our needs understood. From that, a solution that works should be developed and delivered. That is what my goal is, to understand my clients and deliver on their needs as best I can. Confusion and conflict will never go away, but if we listen to and understand each other, it makes for a much better relationship. All I ask is that you be open to suggestions. You might know how to drive the car, but you didn’t build it.

So, for those of you who have the misconception that working for yourself means total freedom from the mundane, and that all of our self employed days are filled with trips to Starbucks only to return to our couch where we will sit comfortably with our laptop and favorite Netflix shows, I hope that this post has enlightened you. Working for yourself is great, and sure it’s rewarding, but in the same way that having kids is rewarding. It’s hard work and sometimes you want to yell and scream, but when you look back on years of time invested, you can say that you were in at least 20% control.

Slowly losing my love for Canon

After my lengthy rant about almost switching to Sony, I took my Canon 70D out with my kids to take pictures of them driving their gokarts. My goal was to capture a few photos and short videos that I could share to my phone and post on Instagram and Facebook.

Upon returning home, I connected my phone to my camera through the wifi connection and opened the EOS Utility app. I transferred a couple of photos to my phone, which took forever. Then I tried to transfer video clips to my phone and was told by the app that, video was not supported. This frustrated me. I attempted another route by connecting my camera directly to my Nexus 9 tablet and attempted to use the Nexus Transfer app that allows you to copy files off of a USB connected device to your tablet. None of the video files would play. I copied the files over to the tablet, they still wouldn’t play. I downloaded the latest update of VLC player for Android which plays just about anything, they wouldn’t play.

As a last resort, I copied the video files to my laptop and put them in a Dropbox folder. Once they uploaded to Dropbox I tried to access them from my phone, they would play but once I tried to download them, they wouldn’t play. At this point, I thought that maybe it had something to do with Android, so I grabbed my iPad and had the same issue.

The sad thing for me is that when I had the Sony A7S, right out of the box it was doing these things. I was able to transfer photo and video extremely easily to my phone or tablet. It was almost to easy. This is not the case with Canon. This may just be another nail in the coffin.

How to fix your bent iPhone 6 Plus

Fix Bent iPhone 6 Plus

One of my employees bent his iPhone 6 Plus. It wasn’t bent much but it was enough to notice. What started out as me being able to laugh about how much it was bent turned into me fixing his iPhone. Now it will be challenging to fix a badly bent iPhone like some of the phones you have seen in the #Bentgate videos and shared around the interwebs, but you can easily fix small bends and tweaks that most likely will happen due to how thin the phone is.

You can watch the video for a full tutorial but I was able to straighten an iPhone 6 Plus that was bent 0.02 of an inch (20 thousandths). It doesn’t sound like much but you can tell in the video just how bent the phone was. I actually bent my own iPhone 6 Plus just so I could show all of you how to straighten your iPhone 6. In theory, this should work on most of the previous versions of the iPhone as well.

Tool needed:
Grizzly G9849 Magnetic Base/Dial Indicator Combo

 

Fix Bent iPhone 6 Plus Fix Bent iPhone 6 Plus Fix Bent iPhone 6 Plus Fix Bent iPhone 6 Plus

My actual thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus bending issue:

Something can only become so small before it has little integrity left. The iPhone 6 Plus is a large phone but it’s very thin. The phone is made out of aluminum, which is a soft metal. The majority of the inside of the phone is filled with technology, not more metal. Apple probably did as best they could to make sure the device is strong enough for daily use as they have done with other large thin devices such as iPads and the Macbook Air. If you happen to bend your iPhone, it’s your fault, not Apple’s. Apple sold you a straight phone and your phone was perfect until you bent it. If you put the phone in your pocket and move around a lot, it will probably bend. If you don’t add support to your phone by putting a decent case around it, it will probably bend, and get scratched.

I bought the very first iPhone. A couple of weeks into owning it, I dropped it. The first iPhone dented up easy, just like a soda can. Was I mad at Apple? No, I was mad at myself because I was so stupid as to not have a case on my phone when it dropped out of my hands and landed on asphalt. It was my fault. People who complain about their iPhone 6 bending, don’t deserve nice things. If your actions resulted in something less than desirable, own up to it. If you stub your toe, who’s fault is that? Yours! If you accidentally scrape your car on a parking lot divider, whose fault is that? Yours! Let this be a life lesson from me to you: If you are in a situation where something started out perfect and then all of the sudden it wasn’t, own up to it. If this is anybody’s fault, it’s your parents fault for raising you in such a way that you would pass blame for things like this onto someone else. End of rant.

Digging the LG G Watch R

LG G Watch R with Custom Band

My first experience with LG’s first smartwatch was less than desirable but with the LG G Watch R, I was excited to see something with some thought put into it. I had multiple issues with their first watch which was obviously rushed to market. The G Watch R, despite it’s unfortunate name, is a nice watch that looks like a watch. Most will probably never notice that I am wearing a connected device on my wrist, and I like that. I put a custom band on the G Watch R that I found on Amazon. Time will tell if the issues I originally had with the first LG watch will replicate with this one but I have a feeling they were able to get it under control. From the packaging to the watch itself, I am enjoying it so far.

Check out the LG G Watch R on Amazon or order from the Google Play Store.

Teach Your Kids About Heroes #VeteransDay

veterans-day-remember-honorMy Father and Grandfather are veterans. They both served our country, however they don’t talk about it much. To my knowledge, they don’t have any identifying marks or anything that would lead you to believe they had served. Because of this, I never thought about it much as a kid. I had many friends who left to serve after high school and even more after 9/11. Though I considered making that decision, I decided to stay behind and work. When I was younger, all I heard people talk about was the monetary aspects of joining the Army. I watched many join, get their bonus, and waste it. That gave me the perspective that most of the people my age in the service were doing it for money because they couldn’t figure out any other way to make an income. Over the last five or so years, I have had a much closer connection and appreciation with those who have served. I don’t think that many these days go into the service thinking about serving our country so much as they think about getting that bonus money. Regardless, many of us find ourselves in situations where we have to step up. Even if someone joins the service to “get paid,” they will quickly find themselves having to step up and live up to the calling. It’s all about what each person does when they have to step up and decide to take action or cower in the corner.

This year, I had the opportunity to do some work with SupportMilitary.org and I met some heros who gave all they had and came back damaged. We hear stories of fallen soldiers who don’t make it back but not often do we hear much from those who came back wounded. It was amazing to meet a couple of these warriors hear their stories. These are men and women who regardless of the reason for serving, performed a duty and were wounded. Not all who serve come back wounded, I get that, but the sacrifice was made. Heros come in all shapes and sizes, in all walks of life. Veteran’s Day calls us to remember what those gave to assure our freedom remains a birthright. Some fight on the frontlines and others perform tasks no where near harms way, it is all the same.

The following video reminded me that regardless of when someone served, they should be honored. I am blessed to have several family members who served and came home. Not all are as lucky as I am. I will teach my kids to honor those who served so they could be born into a free country. Though our government is slowly taking away our freedoms we are still the freest people on the planet.

I was born free with the ability to do and achieve whatever I set forth to do. I look at the things I have been able to do in life and I know that none of that would be possible if it were not for those who fought for our country. Though we may not have a solid understanding of what or why our soldiers are still fighting today, it is important that they know that we support them as individuals who decided to serve our country. My family and I support those who serve our country. I think it is important that our children understand what that means.

Happy Veteran’s Day to those who have served or have a loved one who has served. You are appreciated.

Google Voice as a default

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Google finally added full support for MMS into Google Voice which means that if you swap devices often as I do, instead of having to switch SIM cards back and forth, I can simply port my main cell phone number over to Google Voice and then point my number at any device I choose.

I tired this a few years ago but at the time, you could not send or receive text messages that included photos or videos. About a month ago, they added MMS support but images came through as a link that had to be clicked. That seemed spammy to me.

I think its time I give it another try. That means that I will transfer my cell phone number to Google Voice and have a random number assigned to my phone. Then if I want to switch between phones, I just log into Google Voice and point my number at another phone. Google Voice makes it easy to point your number at any phone. With Google Hangouts integration, I can get calls anywhere, even on a tablet or my laptop. This has been possible for a while now, I have just held off because I would not have been able to receive picture text messages.

How I’m Taking Back My Facebook Experience

As many of you know, I logged out of Facebook two months ago. I did this because my newsfeed had become a mess of negativity. You can read more about my reasons and issues with Facebook here, here, here and here. This story is about how I took back the ability to see what matters to me on Facebook from Facebook.

Over the past two months, I have missed a lot. There are posts, photos and videos that I have not seen that were posted by people who I care about and want to see updates from. My wife usually shows me photos she took throughout the day when we spend time talking about our days before bed, but there are dozens of other family and friends who post things I care about as well. Part of me wanted to return to Facebook so I could be on the same page as everybody else. The other part of me wanted to go at least two months so I could see what it would be like to be disconnected in that way. Now that I have spent a few months away from Facebook, I wanted to return to Facebook in a way where I could see the updates from those I care about without the negative posts, ads or blatant marketing messages.

The idea I spent the most time considering was creating a new Facebook personal profile and converting my current one into a Facebook page. This way, I could post to Facebook and still have the same audience but use the new personal profile just for close friends and family. I have seen people who have grown in fame do this as they realized that their personal Facebook had became more about their professional life. I did not really want to go this route because I have never used my personal Facebook profile for professional gain. My business has grown due to my personal Facebook page but only because it reinforced to people that I am trustworthy. I don’t think that converting my personal Facebook profile to a Facebook page would be the right move. People would no longer be “Facebook Friends”, they would just be someone who had liked my page. It would also break my ability to like their content, post comments, and tag them in posts of my own. Using my wedding photography business as an example: When I go to post a photo from a wedding, I make sure to “friend” the bride and groom first so I can tag them in the post on my Photography Facebook page. If they were not friends on my personal profile, I would not be able to tag them through my Photography Facebook page. I know this sounds kind of confusing, believe me, it’s confusing to type. There are obvious benefits to tagging people in photos and posts when necessary. I don’t want to lose that functionality.

I considered either unfriending or unfollowing the offenders as their posts came into my newsfeed but with over 4500 friends on Facebook, I saw that to be a daunting task. The idea of manually having to do all of that work was overwhelming so I never went that far. I would only unfriend or unfollow people who stuck out as obnoxious or continued to post negative content that I was tired of seeing. I realized that this would not be the best option as there is no simple way to manage your friends list in an editor of sorts.

My original idea, which is what I am going to explain further below, is to create custom lists. Facebook has a feature called “Lists” which allow you to create custom lists of friends or people to follow. On Facebook, you can follow people or friend them. Following them is a one way relationship where you get their updates but they do not get yours. This is similar to Twitter when you follow someone and they do not follow you back. A Facebook friend is a two way relationship where you can see, comment, post and tag. A Facebook List displays similar to a Facebook group. The header image on the page displays random photos from the friends or people you follow in that list. The newsfeed for that list consists only of people who you put in that list. You see all of their posts, photos, videos and other updates. The only one that annoys me in a “list newsfeed” is the fact that it shows a post when someone becomes friends with someone else. However, I prefer that over ads. Facebook List Newsfeeds currently do not display inline ads. There is an ad or two on the sidebar, but not in the newsfeed. That is a win in and of itself. There are two different options for creating lists. You can create a custom newsfeed list that simply displays a newsfeed of people who you have added to the list, or you can create a custom friends list. There are differences between the two. A standard list of people can be created to generate a custom newsfeed for you to follow. This allows you to add current friends, people you follow and pages to the custom newsfeed. This would be the best option for someone who wants a feed of content to view. The other option is to create a custom friends list. This allows you to view a newsfeed for that friends list and post directly to it. A standard list gives you no option for posting because that list can contain people who are not your friend or are pages. Think of this as a Twitter timeline that contains people, companies, brands and organizations you follow. Creating a custom friends list allows me to also post directly to that list. I am not sure I am concerned with that because I will most likely return to posting content that my entire friends list can see. If I want posts that I make to Facebook to only be seen by certain groups of friends, I can create a custom friends list for that and change the privacy of my post to allow only those people to see the post.

With Facebook Lists, I can add current Facebook friends, follow people of interest and add pages to the feed. I am technically creating a custom newsfeed of information I find relevant. This also means that I can like a page or friend a person without worrying about all of their content ending up in my newsfeed. This is really starting to sound like a tongue twisting riddle isn’t it…

Facebook Friends Family List

What you are seeing in the above photo is the beginning of my Facebook Newsfeed List. This list will contain family, friends, people of interest and pages I wish to follow. Overtime, I will be able to curate this list to contain only posts and updates from the sources I wish to see. This will make scrolling Facebook to keep up to date with the lives of my friends and family much easier. At this point, there also are no inline Facebook newsfeed ads displaying. There are a few ads on the sidebar, but not in the newsfeed. I am sure Facebook will change this eventually, but for now I am going to enjoy their absence.

If I want to post to Facebook, I most likely will start posting to my general friends list. There are people who want to know what’s going on with me that I might not want to include in my new custom newsfeed and that is ok. I may even curate a custom friends list so I can post my more opinionated posts only to those who know me well enough to know where I am coming from. Part of leaving Facebook in the first place was to get away from the negativity I received from actually taking a stance on a topic. Perhaps I should save those posts for my blog anyway.

What’s next?

Starting today, I am back on Facebook but I am not going to be bothered with the bulk of the content that I was once subjected to. I look forward to staying up to date with what is going on in the lives of those who are closest to me. It will take me a month or so to get this list where I want it. I still prefer a simpler platform such as Twitter over Facebook but most people are on Facebook and it is where content is being shared by the people closest to me. I still plan to post to my blog and make that my primary location to share my own content. I realize that this will bring back all of the notifications that I have not had to deal with lately, but that is ok as I know that they can be turned off or back on should I desire them. I also do not plan to run the Facebook app on my phone. I will probably post to Facebook through another app such as the Buffer App and will only browse the Facebook updates of others through a browser when I have the time to do so. Keeping up to date with content on Facebook is going to take a fraction of the time because of my curated newsfeed of family, friends and choice others. Perhaps after a few months of doing this I will post an update. I am sure that I will find some limitations with custom newsfeeds. I may even branch out and create custom newsfeeds for different categories of people and content which would make it even easier for me to see the types of content I want to view at that actual moment. I truly believe that this is the best way to use Facebook. Custom lists help you cut through the clutter and nonsense to see what matters most.

tl;dr
I am back on Facebook. Instead of viewing the full newsfeed of all friends, people I follow and pages I liked, I have created a custom list that will display a newsfeed of only those I choose. This is a better solution than trying to unfollow or unfriend everybody. I want to stay up to date with what is going on in the lives of those I care about and be able to post to Facebook to keep those same people updated as well.