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Comments

  1. Wow, I didn’t realize we were a ventriloquist act!

    You’ve eloquently summarized my own dilemna – I also don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and am similarly struggling with finding that answer. Good luck to us both…

  2. I feel your pain. . . . I do! I’m not altogether sure that a website developer’s “target audience” is reading blog posts. Maybe they are, but not sure. What you are doing makes you very recommendable (is that a word?). You are being branded as an expert, and most clients want to work with an expert.

    I’m not quite sure that the hype of inbound marketing works very well in our industry. I suppose it all depends on that ever evasive “target audience.”

    I appreciate you! Thanks for all your help.

  3. Carrie, what a great post! You know the things that you’re going through really aren’t that uncommon with solopreneurs. I found myself asking the same questions earlier this year, and at this point I’m just going where the business takes me. The good part is, that the business is taking me in a place where I really feel comfortable being.

    The hard part is I still need to take on work that I otherwise would say no to. But it’s not all bad, as I found ways to balance out things I don’t want to do, with things I do want to do without hurting the bottom line of my business.

    It’s not an easy task, and business is something that’s constantly changing. Especially with people l like us who have the ability to change IF we wanted. But that ability to easily and quickly change can be a flaw as well, since we tend to be influenced more easily.

    In any case, to your situation, I’d say two things. If you’re in a comfortable place, and you’re really enjoying what you do and it’s making you the amount you want to make, keep doing it.

    If you’re in a place where what you’ve been doing is not what you want to do, or not taking you where you want to be, then it’s time to switch it up.

    God bless you and I wish you all the best! You Rock!!!!!!

  4. I have the same problem too–I find that my audience is mostly designers, but by clients are mostly entrepreneurs who need websites. I’ve shifted my offerings slightly to accommodate both, but have been leaning towards making the shift entirely to services for designers: consulting, teaching, development work, etc. But it’s hard to make the switch! Right now I feel like I’m in this limbo where I don’t know what I’m doing!

  5. Simply be the best ‘you’ that you can be. You are the awesome gift that God created, your parents raised and that you continue to develop each day. I’m proud to call you my friend.

  6. Awesome post, so glad you put it out there. As we heard in our local meet-up from @sgillihan, transparency builds trust — sharing your quandaries will, I think, generate the feedback to help lead you to your next step(s).

  7. One thing to be ‘careful’ of is not to jump from the paying work (currently clients) to the desired work to fast.

    It’s so easy to jump faster than the next thing is ready to catch us and we break that next thing.

    It’s hard to wait though. A great read along those links is Quitter.

  8. You already know I’m right there with you! So many directions to go in, so little time/ability to choose wisely. I need to read through Book Yourself Solid again and actually do the exercises. I think the great thing about this community is that people will be there to support you and commiserate no matter what you choose – someone has always been there before or is leaning toward the same type of decision. TO ADULTHOOD! ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. Hi Carrie:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the same issues recently. The content I have published this year seems geared towards developers one week, and toward potential clients the next. I think a lot about refining my target audience, voice and tone.

    The last two books I read were Book Yourself Solid and The Win Without Pitching Manifesto. I have been ruminating on what specific clients I want to work with. I am getting closer to specificity, but it has been a journey of trying different paths. I have a more specific path I want to try walking down. I’ll be working on that for the rest of the year.

    Keep writing. It speaks to many people.

    Keep refining. Change is inevitable.

  10. Carrie, thanks so much for sharing at this level. I speak for many who will read and benefit from your post but who won’t reply. Thanks for not hiding your light under a bushel (grin).

    I enjoyed both of your fine courses in Lynda.com, although your suggestion not to activate the Genesis framework caused me a problem. Details on request.

    Mahalo nui loa, as we say in the islands. Hope to meet you in San Diego.

    Joe Meboe

  11. You are exploring some interesting questions. It is important to do so. I operate a business in which everyone assumes incorrectly who my customers in fact really are as for marketing. The end users are not the ones doing the referrals and making purchasing decisions. I market to the people doing the referrals if I want any business. If I appealed primarily to end users, which would appear logical, I would have no business.

    In your case I would raise this question which you may have thought of but I did not see in your post. Even though those who you are writing for may not be the ones who hire you directly, what is it that leads your customers to hire you? Is it your direct marketing to them? Or, and this is the critical question, is it the work you mention such as publishing the Lynda.com courses, the speaking, and the writing that gives you the credibility and authority?

    It is essential to ask these kinds of questions to avoid making a strategic mistake in long term planning.

  12. Okay, here’s a little input from one of your paying clients… all your content demonstrates your specialized skills. I really appreciated that when figuring out how you could help me strategically bring my site to the next level.

    Currently your site does not lead off with an enticing, future business hook. Yes, a sales pitch or unique selling proposition.

    You worked with me to put together a unique design and, when I needed help, you leaned in and shared your design experience so that everything made sense. It worked well for me and I appreciate it everyday. It serves my future clients who are looking for a real estate agent who has specific knowledge of Vienna Virginia. It is very specific and a little geeky, but it has produced new clients and more importantly income!

    So, drill down and come up with a pitch that will encourage business people like me to click to understand how you really can help their business gain new clients and profits with a modern web presence. (yes, you should hire Carrie)

      • How about designing a way to ‘fail early & often’ in implementing Doug’s suggestion?

        Your content work has earned you a sterling rep in the WP/Genesis community and that is worth more than a whole lot ๐Ÿ™‚

        I’m thinking that business folks would able to glance at an easy Q like:

        “I’m considering making some changes & would love your opinion: would you happily pay for _________ if it meant _________ for your business?”

        I imagine that you could work up a slew of Qs that fill in the blanks (and maybe rewrite the rest too, this is not tested language, fyi) and serve one per visitor. I’m sure you can think of some nifty ways to present variable content like that and to keep track of your answers too of course. Collect data, analyze and then validate your conclusions with another round of testing… iterate, test, repeat ad infinitum…

        I’m sure you’ll work it out… and after all, you’re already successful so no worries ๐Ÿ™‚

        Kind Regards & Aloha <3

  13. Right there with you my friend:-) “I still donโ€™t know what I want to be when I grow up.”

    For what it’s worth, you have an amazing amount of talent in many areas…it’s going to be hard to figure out how to nail down what you want to one thing…

    Ultimately our purpose in life does not come from our work; but our Creator…

  14. This does not answer the question, but I read it on FB right after reading your post – profound:

    “Actually, one decides one’s life by responding to a word that is not well defined, easily explicable, safely accounted for. One decides to love in the face of an unaccountable void, and from the void comes an unaccountable truth.” –Thomas Merton

  15. Great post Carrie! I can so relate to what you’re going through here – trying to find your ideal client. I’ve done the Book Yourself Solid work and every time I got to those ‘ideal client’ questions I was stumped. So I just muddled through and did the best I could.

    What I’m finding out is that my audience is choosing me, not the other way around. I created a couple of websites for foodies and they keep telling each other in their community about how great I am so I keep getting more foodie clients! Go figure.

    I would not pick foodies as my ideal client, but since they are choosing me, I will embrace it.

    And thanks for all you do for the WordPress community, you are very much appreciated by this audience! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Oh, what a perfect post! I loved every minute of it and it made me smile from ear to ear. I wrote about this topic last week, about not having it all figured out. I’m at the point now where I am just following what makes me happiest, throwing the “traditional” business rules to the wind and seeing where I land. Again, thank you, this was a truly excellent post and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Jessica ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. This is a fantastic post.

    While you may not be speaking directly to business owners, I completely agree with Doug that it is still very valuable in getting you new business.

    Some questions any potential business owner would have when shopping for a developer are:

    1. Does this person know what they’re doing?
    2. Would I like working with this person?

    Your expertise and personality shine through when you’re helping other developers, and the content you produce certainly answers those questions.

    At the end of the day, you just want to love what you do. It would be a mistake to stop doing anything you enjoy only because someone else suggested it wasn’t the best way to market yourself.

    • I had built a StudioPress site over three years, but picked Carrie out to help me after reading her profile on the StudioPress Showcase. Then I saw work she had done for other business owners which led to a phone call.

      She had me at “Howdy”.

      • Ditto! I first contacted Carrie because of how she talked about things and the perspective on her posts. Now a little over a year later, I’ve started a new career path with Genesis and WordPress. All from reading her About Me page.

  18. You know how your blog has helped you.

    Now that you have an established (albeit non-paying) audience, I would consider stepping back from tutorials. This is what gave you Lynda and built your WordCamp platform. It’s how we got to know you, and I’m sure your clients have quietly browsed your content before reaching out and contacting you.

    But just how many tutorials can you stand to write? I love them. I just wonder if this space can be used for something else. You are a good writer. I’d love to see content from you that’s more on the theoretical side of things. There’s a lot to discuss on that side of the web moon. Maybe it could someday even lead to a book deal.

    You do love the techie nuts and bolts stuff. And I think you would miss it. I’d just consider narrowing your focus. I’m wondering if there’s something you can do that puts you in front of people, since that’s one of your natural talents, but in a somewhat different capacity that’s more aligned with your ideal client and audience.

    I’m brainstorming for you, throwing words out there with the hope a wee little switch will flip and freshen up your thoughts on what’s next. Questions to consider:

    Would you miss blogging and browsing the comments?
    When you’re at WordCamp or meeting with your local group, what kinds of discussions engage you the most?
    Why do you attend WordCamp? What does it do for you? I know this seems obvious, but I doubt you go to compare notes on how to tweak short codes and widgets.

    There’s just something more in this for you than the usual stuff. Clarifying what it is may take you all of next year as you ease out of one phase and move into another. Just keep us in the loop. I enjoyed reading this post, Carrie.

  19. First, thanks for being you and for saying this out loud.

    I appreciate it from the other side of the fence … I’m one that consumes all the information you and others put out there for the community (and yes, I try to give back as well). But I’ve often wondered … and actually asked Kiko the question at Prestige conference, “Why are you and others so giving and to what end? What’s in it for you, what are you gaining and how is helping me helping your business?”

    I’m not sure I got a definitive answer (there were many other questions and some beer involved), maybe there is no good answer. Or more likely, the answer is different for all.

    One thought is that we, the consumers, are (or could be) your referral partners. Say someone comes to me for an XYZ website and I think I’d be biting off more than I can chew. I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest you for the job. So you could be creating your own sales force via your audience. It’s the least we could do to pay you back for supporting us.

  20. If it’s too daunting to answer the question of where you want to go, perhaps try incrementally answering where you don’t want to be. What, if anything, is dissatisfying about your work or your position right now? Among those answers, what is most contributing to your dissatisfaction? Are you able to work on just that and backburner the loftier goals for the moment?

    After addressing item number one, walk through that Q&A again and work on second in line. I wonder if you’d them find yourself having arrived at the place you wanted to be, even though you didn’t know you wanted to be thereโ€”kind of like the cliche “not all who wander are lost,” as long as you’re wandering in a direction you want to wander in.

  21. I only recently started reading your blog. I do what you do, just not with Genesis. While I would never have any reason to hire you, I sure as hell will promote you and offer you as an alternative if I am unable to do something or am overbooked.

    You don’t know me, I don’t know you (at least not personally) but posts like this is why I would recommend you to my own clients. When you said that money is just a by-product it just reinforced with me the type of person you are.

    I don’t have the answers to your questions because I have exactly the same questions. When I read the section about your target audience, I freaked out. You answered exactly how I would. I don’t want to be an employee. I don’t want to just develop something and move on. I want to be a part of something.

    I didn’t know you had a podcast either, so I’ve got a lot to listen up on, thank you for linking that. I don’t know anything about Genesis and I’ve always wanted to, so hopefully this is my chance to learn something from someone with so much knowledge.

    I know that we might not be your target audience, as you can see from the comments, we all sincerely appreciate you and the information you selflessly put out there. Thank you for posts like this and I look forward to more of them in the future.

  22. Another great post Carrie. Thank you for your honesty.

    I really feel for your situation, mainly because I’ve approached my own (half-baked attempts at) blogging from the opposite angle. I’ve actively tried to write, tweet and share articles that would be useful to my target audience: small and medium-sized businesses who want to improve their web offering.

    But recently I’ve started to ask the exact question that you did; are these the kind of people who read blogs? Are they on Twitter? I think almost certainly not. However, I do agree with Doug and other commenters that all the blogging and related work you do showcases your knowledge and personality. I hope – in time – mine will do likewise. Meanwhile I’ll continue to try and learn from people like you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. Hi Carrie,
    I just loved your post
    I think, the same way about standing out with your goals. I also feel energized, while teaching people what I know. That is a great way, you are choosing in your life.
    Though, I don’t agree about the ” I still donโ€™t know what I want to be when I grow up.”. I think, that you know, and doing it already.
    Thank you for sharing!

  24. Just listened to GOH #27 and you were discussing Business Books to read. How about A Year Without Pants – Scott Berkan. It was very interesting to me as an IT project manager (for a Sports Retailer) for the last few years. How do you manage remote projects and people? This book is about WordPress which is “your world”. I do enjoy the Podcasts!

  25. I am trying to work out some of the same things you bring up in this post. I don’t do a lot of client work anymore, and my own blog is a range of topics (and also sorely neglected).

    Both are things I plan to fix in 2015, so I began analyzing some of the blogs of successful people I respect and whose work I admire. An exercise in “what are they doing” and “what can I learn from them”.

    Which is exactly why I came back to your blog! Found it comforting from your post, and several other commenters, that I’m not the only one facing a similar challenge.

    I don’t have an answer for what I’m going to do… yet. And I certainly don’t have YOUR answer, so no star for me ๐Ÿ™ I will say that even if your blog doesn’t target your specific audience, I think the content you’ve created (here, the classes, and especially GOH) has really established your reputation as a go-to person when it comes to Genesis.

    Now I’m going through the process of creating a “content strategy” for my blog now (which seems about ten times harder to do for myself than for a client!).

  26. Hello Carrie!

    I know this is an old post, but I was reading through your Business & Freelancing posts and saw this… so here we are.

    Self evaluation is always difficult – I struggle with it myself – but I think a few things about you & your work are easily apparent:

    1. You clearly know your stuff / are well respected in the industry, etc.
    2. You do great work, and produce tons of content
    3. You are compelled to teach / help others – you just can’t help it ๐Ÿ™‚

    So, this leads me to:

    1. Teach more courses! Not just on Lynda.com, but maybe start your own video tutorial library? You already have the audience for it – heck, I’d rather take courses straight from Carrie Dils than Lynda.com. This could lead to a serious ‘Carrie Dils Community’ situation. I like this idea already.
    2. Look at the audience you’ve built – what else do they need?
    3. Office Hours podcast – increase sponsorship prices, for sure.
    4. Look at the audience you want – what do they need?

    I think the main thing to realize is that you are a natural teacher – I’m married to a grade school teacher, I can spot one a mile away ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Keep up the great work!
    Timothy

    • Hi Timothy,

      Wow. Thanks so much for the kind words. Have to admit this made me laugh:

      This could lead to a serious โ€˜Carrie Dils Communityโ€™ situation

      That could be scary? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Along the lines of what you’re suggesting, I’ve got a new project in the (very early) works: wpdevelopmentworkflow.com.

      Any particular topics you’d like to see more on?

      Cheers,
      Carrie

  27. Hi Carrie!

    I think for anyone learning about WP, or web design, or starting their own WP consulting / web design business, there are a few major stumbling blocks that you could cover:

    1. Technical skills, of course – maybe a 3-5 part course, from Beginner to Advanced, like your Lynda.com course?

    2. Process / Workflow – this is massively helpful (see Rafal Tomal’s ebook on Design – maybe you could be the Development equivalent?)

    3. Case study / full project – nothing better than seeing the real thing in action

    This is just a starting point, I’m just throwing ideas out there.

    Also, thanks for the link! I’ll check it out.

    -Timothy

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