WordCamp Richmond: The Seven Business Pitfalls for WordPress and Web Professionals

presenter: Chris Gatewood

  1. Half + Half = Half
    Rather than getting paid half up front and half when delivering the product, do it in steps so that the payment matches the work. But, don’t make it too big of a spread so that the money isn’t trickling in small amounts.
  2. In vs. Out
    Scope creep equals free work. Define the work and communicate it with the client. Specify the cost/hour for any additional work. However, if it’s a minor thing, give them a little, and make sure you tell them you’re doing it so that they understand it’s an accommodation and something else may require additional cost. Contract language suggestion for communication: “Agreement or approval in writing for which email will suffice.”
  3. Subcontractor Cash Squeeze
    Don’t get stuck holding the bag. Decide and communicate when the subcontractor will get paid (when client pays or when content is delivered). You’ll also need to plan for what happens if the client doesn’t pay up. There’s no right answer, except to communicate all expectations.
  4. Stay in Range
    Email is great for keeping up with incremental approvals as you move forward on a project. Things happen, so make sure you’re communicating regularly. Build in the calendar so that it’s iterative (i.e. prototype built within x weeks of approval) and not dependent upon a deadline that could be disrupted by the client’s lack of communication.
  5. No Free Launch
    Don’t transfer the hosting and intellectual property rights (DMCA) until you’re paid. If you’ve already handed over the deliverable, your invoice is a much lower priority for the client.
  6. That WIP Appeal
    Work in progress is expensive. If the client goes silent for whatever reason and you can’t get approval to move forward, give yourself the right (in the contract) to invoice for work up to that point.
  7. Failure to Flex
    If you know your client is in a jam, give them some options such as modifying the payment terms or shrinking the scope of the project. If you’re not comfortable that the client will pay, inflate the estimate or get more on the front-end.

Questions:

WordPress is in GPL, so you can’t charge for that. You can develop and own rights in whatever you do that is separable from the platform itself, such as themes. Plugins are tricky, because even if you build your own, it may unintentionally replicate the coding for existing things.

Should you work with a lawyer to develop contracts for bloggers? Not necessarily. Develop modular agreement templates that can be used and swapped out as needed.

How do you develop a collaborative relationship with clients? Bring bagels. Find out who in the company has time to talk about the project. There’s no substitute to in-person meetings or phone calls. [Sounds like they need to learn how to do a library reference transaction.]

CEG WordCamp Deck 2010

WordCamp Richmond: Strategery!

presenter: Bradley Robb

“A couple of tips for improving your blog’s readership and like 26 pictures of kittens”

A comprehensive digital strategy is what you are going to use when you build anything online. When you start a blog, you are committing yourself to putting out content forever.

The field of dreams fallacy: just because you blog it doesn’t mean anyone will read it. Knowing your visitors means knowing your visitor types. Referral traffic is your goal. Blog readership is not a zero-sum game; your fellow bloggers are your peers.

Quantitative analysis like page ranks compares apples to apples. But if you want to compare apples to oranges, you need to look at different things. Post frequency will increase popularity, particularly for those who do not read via RSS. Comment frequency is an indicator of post frequency. You also want to pay attention to whether the commenters are responding to the post or responding to each other (i.e. creating a community).

Amass, prioritize, track, repeat: Find all of the people who are talking about your niche in a full-time manner. Evaluate your own blog, then develop a rubric to compare your site to peers. Create a list of blogs where you’d like to guest post. Track your successes and failures – Robb suggests using a spreadsheet (blogs tracked, comments, linkbacks, etc.). Keep adding to your amassed list, keep evaluating your standing, and keep tracking.

You need to be reading the blogs in your community, but that can take a lot of time. Following their Twitter feeds might be faster. And if you’re not using RSS, you should be.

“Commenting on blogs is like working a room at a party with one major exception: nobody knows if you’re wearing pants.”

Make your comment relevant, short, interesting, but don’t steal the show. Make sure you put your blog anchor page in the URL field of the comment form. You want people to track back to your blog, right? If there is an option to track the comments, do it. It’s okay to disagree, but be intelligent about it. Be yourself, but better (and sign with your name, not your blog/book/etc.). Count to ten before you hit send, not just for keeping a cool head, but also for correcting grammatical errors.

Guest posting: write the post before you pitch it. It indicates that you understand the blog and it’s content, and that you can write. Plus, they won’t be waiting on you for a deadline.

Measure twice, cut once: If your commenting strategy isn’t working, then figure out how to change it up. Are you getting traffic? Are your comments being responded to?

Give them something to talk about. If you’re doing all this strategy, make sure you have something worth reading.

Questions:

Recommended features & widgets? Robb doesn’t use many widgets. Trackbacks is a big backend feature. Disqus can aggregate reactions, which you can publish with the post.

What are easy ways to get people to comment on your blog? There are several methods. One is to be wrong, because the internet will tell you that you’re wrong, and that can drive comment traffic. Another is to publish a list.

How do you know what to write about? By following the niche/industry, you can get a feel for hot topics and trends.

Do you have any specific strategies for using Facebook for publicizing your blog? Robb hates Facebook and it’s personal data-stealing soul. He recommends the same strategy as Twitter: for every ten posts about something else, post one promoting your blog.

What about communities like Digg or Reddit? Unless you hit the front page, you don’t really get enough traffic to warrant the time.

How many ads are too many? Depends on how big of a boat you want. If you build your theme to incorporate ads smartly, you don’t need as many of them to be successful with them. In print journalism, the page is designed for the ads with the news filling the rest.

unintentional redesign

Due to some issues with the new version of WordPress, the blog is undergoing some re-construction. I hope to get it back to normal soon, but until then, it won’t be quite as pretty or functional.

Also, for those following my lifestream elsewhere, I will be writing and posting some things about my choir tour through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary (with a brief excursion into Austria).

na-blog-wri-mo?

Recently, I went digging through the archives of this blog to locate something I knew had to be there. I didn’t find it, and I suspect that has to do with things getting lost in the conversion from MovableType to WordPress. *sigh*

Anyway, I ended up reading some of the old link round-up posts I made back in the infancy of this blog, and it got me thinking about how much my approach has changed over time. For link blogging, I’ve started using a mix of Delicious bookmarks and Google Reader shared items, and for general “look at this crazy stuff” kinds of things, I use Twitter, FriendFeed, or Facebook.

What’s left for the blog? Well, short reflective pieces like this, for one. And, of course, there’s the conference session summaries and the “what I wrote for Blogcritics” round-ups. Other than that, I am finding that I have things that I want to write about, but I don’t have the time or energy to form them into anything worthy of public consumption.

Honestly, though, the main reason is that I’ve become rather lazy about the care and feeding of this blog. So, for the rest of this month, I’m going to try to write something here at least a few times each week.