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The view from just outside my room at CaboPress 2018

It was the last night in Cabo. There I was, sitting on the patio after dinner, breathing in cigar smoke, listening to snippets of a conversation, then jumping into another, laughing hard with the group as we shared stories, enjoying drinks, and just taking it all in. It felt surreal and perfect. It was clear that we’d all had an incredible experience.

I had added my name to the CaboPress waiting list just the week before. It turns out I had stumbled into perfect timing. Chris Lema sent me an email – there had just been a cancellation and he had an extra room. He invited me to join and I booked my flights. I’d heard good things from former attendees, but I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve never been to Mexico and the idea of sessions held in a pool was intriguing, but it seemed like it could also be terrible.

It was perfect.

Reflecting back on the past few days, a few highlights stand out to me.

A great host makes a big difference

13 years in WordPress and this was actually my first time meeting Chris. I’d heard good things and had positive expectations, but I didn’t know what to actually expect. I’m a bit of an introvert and being in a new environment where I don’t know folks well is a stressor.

On Monday evening, Chris called us together in the lobby to welcome us. As we pressed in to the group, I fought with my fears.. “Wow, I don’t know most of these people.. Do I really belong here? Do I have anything to offer?” After a few moments of light introductions, Chris cut right to the chase. He encouraged us clearly and directly – “You all belong here.” He reminded us that we each have much to offer and that we’re all here to learn and grow together.

I felt comfortable again and as Chris explained how the next few days would play out my fears transformed into excitement.

A great host makes a big difference. Chris Lema is a great host.

The benefits of “different”

Chris designed CaboPress to be inherently different. On Tuesday morning, we kicked off the first session on “High Value Courses”. By itself, it would have been a great session. Jennifer Bourne set the stage and then lead us into a focused discussion covering a range of strategies and tactics for thinking about and offering high value courses to our customers.

But having that session in a pool, introduced an entirely new dynamic. With no laptops, no presentation, and each of us in our swimming suits with various degrees of sunscreen applied, it was clear to our brains that this was different.

The environment made it hard to not be relaxed and engaged. As a result, I found the sessions more memorable and more impactful. When I think back on Allison’s session on writing a book or Brennan’s session on personalization, I have a whole additional range of senses and context that deepen the message’s resonance.

In a world with increasingly strong pulls at our time and attention, it was great to go to event that required less time (only two sessions a day) and gave more because it chose to be different.

The benefits of giving

Chris had set the stage for us on the opening night. He reminded us that we were each invited because we have something of unique value to give. Our hosts, each extraordinary and remarkable in their own right, were there to lead discussions, not lecture. Accordingly, we would each get out of the sessions what we put in.

I took the message to heart and focused my energies on leaning in, on listening, and on looking for ways that I could contribute my own experience and expertise.

As I did so, I discovered new questions to ask myself and began seeing the answers to questions I didn’t know I’d been asking. There is incredible inherent benefit to giving and the context and environment of CaboPress provides rich opportunity to do so.

What I received

On a personal level, I made new friends. Over lunches, dinners, and pool side chats, I got to know new people and deepen my context / relationship with folks I’d already known. Life is so much better with friends and I look forward to growing friendships with the folks I met in the months and years to come.

On a professional level, over the sessions and through personal and group conversations I developed a broader perspective, a deeper context, and a richer appreciation for the diversity of our open web ecosystem. I love WordPress even more : ).

I look forward to developing partnerships and creating new opportunities around the values we’ve identified individually and collectively.


CaboPress 2018 was excellent. Chris has created an extraordinary experience that will stick with me for years to come. If I get the privilege of being invited back I look forward to returning and if I don’t (Chris tries to keep alumni to less than 50%) I look forward to hearing the experiences of the new folks!

This interview is the fourth in a series I started to share how web designers and developers got their first client.

chris-frick-150

Chris Frick is a native of Jasper, Indiana. I met Chris a few years ago while I lived in Jasper. He was attending the local community college at the time and interested in pursuing a career in web development. Chris worked hard at it and I watched him go quickly through multiple iterations on his own website and keep going. Just recently, he met one of his career goals and started a full-time position as a web developer for a local manufacturing company.

1. How did you get your first client?

My first client simply and conveniently fell into my lap. While still in college, my English professor, who is also a writer and public speaker, stopped me in the hallway one day and asked if I would be interested in building her a Web site. Sure enough, I jumped on the opportunity for some real experience outside of the classroom.

At that time, I had already taken all of my Web development classes, and was involved in an internship with a local Web design and development team. I had mastered HTML and CSS, and dabbled with Javascript, PHP, and WordPress. I was prepared and more than ready to take on my first project, and I couldn’t have had a better first client. She knew that I had some artistic ability, and that I did well in my design/development classes, so she pretty much gave me compete freedom over the design. That’s something that doesn’t happen very often.

2. What did you learn from that first experience?

I learned so many things from my first client experience than any others, I think.  At that point, I began to realize that most clients know exactly what they want, but they usually don’t know what they need.  I also learned just how many hats a Web designer/developer wears on a daily basis. Although I’ve read it a hundred times in a multitude of design and development books, I just didn’t quite get it until that first client experience.  The most important thing I learned from that experience is that I absolutely love Web design and the process of creating something from nothing.  Loving the work you do is a big part of success.

3. What advice do you have for folks trying to get their first client?

Go into it like you’ve been doing for years.  In a lot of cases, your first client won’t know that their’s is your first project, so be confident (but not too-confident).  Also, treat your clients like kings.  The most powerful advertisement is word of mouth, so the better you treat your clients you obtain, the more likely you will continue getting clients and grow your business.


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10.7.08 Update: MoldBlogger has since risen to nearly 10,000 uniques a month and after dedicating some time to it and committing to work on it together, my wife and I have decided to keep it in the family. Thank you for all those who expressed an interest.

Dear Friends,

A formal update has been on my mind for sometime now, but has been readily usurped by the happy demands of married life and work at Sabramedia. I’m writing this brief update today from the kitchen table in our new home. Joslyn and I, married for a few days over a month now, have been working hard putting our home together and it’s nice to finally watch as things are settling into place. Thank you for all your well wishes and support.

Just a little while back, my brother Joshua and I began work on a collective sale of our niche websites to free up focus for work in our web development startup. You can see the work in progress on our sale over at: http://www.woldboys.com

Of note today, though, is a website Joslyn and I have been working on for over 2 years, MoldBlogger.com.

As of April, 2008, the website was bringing in over 4,000 unique and highly targetted visitors on the topic of mold. The “Ask A Question” feature gets an average of 4-5 questions per week. In May, traffic climbed higher to over 5,000 visitors. In June, we’re projected to pass 6,000, with 23 RSS Subscribers and no advertising. Among many other terms, the site is #1 on Google for “mold blog”.

The site is unmonetized at the moment. I have plans to pursue advertising contracts, but am balancing that decision between the time involved and the potential of selling the website and passing the opportunity on to someone else.

Interested? Let me know. I’m giving this a short window of opportunity before making a decision.

Working on MoldBlogger.com has been an awesome opportunity. My wife and I have learned a lot and we’ve had a tremendous amount of positive feedback. Before deciding the next step, though, we want to carefully consider our options.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to further updates in the near future.

Jonathan Wold

NicheRama ScreenshotMy good friend Matt Geri, after months of hard work, preparation, and undoubtedly sweat in the hot South African sun, has finally relaunched his niche marketing membership site, NicheRama.com! I was privileged to be a bystander through the development and was amazed as the site came together. Matt programmed the backend and all the major elements of the membership program from the ground up, entirely on his own. From the forum, to the shopping cart system, to the engine that powers the sites themselves, Matt started from the ground up and put his very best into the work. Whether you’re into Niche Marketing or not, it’s worth taking a look ;). Head on over to NicheRama.com (no affiliate link) and take a look at his examples. Interested in beginning a member? How about joining with my affiliate link and telling Matt I said hi?

And now, wrapping up where Part One left off, we’ve got 7 more traffic strategies to go over this this morning! You guys ready? Awesome! Let’s get rolling :).

  1. Press Releases – There’s nothing like getting attention from the media ;). Press releases are one way of baiting the hook. They can generate traffic on their own, bringing in the little fish, and every now and then, they’ll hook a big fish, a news reporter will contact you, a big site will send you some one-way link love, and you can sit back and watch the traffic roll in. As with anything that powerful, there are challenges. Not all press releases are equal, some are free, some aren’t. There’s also a good bit to know about writing an effective ‘news worthy’ press release. More on press releases later on ;). Meanwhile, some great press release sites, courtesy of Naked Business: (Awesome blog on press releases!)www.openPR.com

    www.i-newswire.com

  2. Email Signatures – This one’s been around since email began! ; ) How many emails do you send out a day without having a web address of yours tagged below it? Email traffic is highly targetted. If someone is reading an email from you and corresponding with you, odds are they’re going to be interested in learning more about what you have to offer. Want to take it up a notch? Encourage others to put links to your website in their signature. That’s right :). Remember hotmail? That’s one of the ways they hit it big. They tagged ‘their’ signature to the bottom of all their customer’s emails and hotmail grew like wildfire! As a niche marketer, remember that people do things when they feel that something’s in it for them. Create something viral, something personable, and encourage people (make it VERY easy!) to add a link to their email signature!
  3. Directory Listings – Ahh, directories. People love ’em and hate ’em at the same time. One of the most prominent (and also one of the hardest to get into!) directories out there is good old DMOZ. Add links to your website on in, wait 6 months, and you may get included! ;) – In addition to DMOZ, there are entire directories of directories out there. On caution to keep in mind is that adding your link to just any old directory could actually hurt you. Look for directories of high quality and be hesitant to add to a directory that ‘makes you pay’ unless it’s got a name like Yahoo attached to it ;).Have a blog? Adding your blog and its feed to a blog directory can be a REALLY hot way to get traffic. My good friend Bo Bang has a list of blog directories on over at his site. Check it out!
  4. Image Awards – Awards? What’s this? I decided this was unique enough to get a category all to it’s own ;). Want a powerful strategy for getting one way links? Well here’s one! Pick a niche, whatever niche you’re in, and create an ‘award’ for ‘site of the week’, ‘site of the month’, ‘most creative’, whatever you come up with. Build a site around it and start handing out awards to the places you’d like to get links from! Send them off an email letting them know that they’ve won an award and encourage them to share the award by posting up a graphic and a link back to your site, verifying that they are indeed the winner. Give them the HTML, make it really easy and make it look really good. Be professional about it. Be friendly and helpful. This is hot ; ).
  5. Offline Advertising – Without spending a lot of time breaking this one down, let me just say that this is something that most niche marketers seriously overlook. They get so caught up the internet this, and the internet that, they wind up forgetting that there was a time when there was no internet and marketing was still a big thing ;). Running classifieds in the right newspapers or magazines can be a powerful way to get targetted, buying traffic to a niche site of yours. Spend some time thinking about it, perhaps we’ll go over it more in the future ;).
  6. Publicity – We talked a bit about this already in ‘press releases’. The idea is to get people talking about you. Remember our good friend Alex at milliondollarhomepage.com? He harnessed the power of publicity ;). How do you get publicity? Well, you can do something new, something wild and creative or you could ‘ride the wave’. Figure out what’s hot right now. What’s everyone talking about? What are people looking for a ‘scoop’ on? News reporters are a great example of this. They decide something’s ‘hot’ and they start looking all over for their exclusive. Give it to them! Look over the news stories, see what’s big. Figure out a way to ride that wave and then start contacting the media. This can be really really big : ).
  7. Content Distribution – Give stuff away! Whether paid or free, content distribution as a traffic strategy is all about getting your stuff out there to as many people as possible, encouraging them all to pass it around, and making sure that the stuff being passed around has your links on it. How about some examples?
    • Screensavers/Wallpaper – People are always looking for ways to ‘soup up’ their computer. Give them cool stuff to customize their desktops and print your links on it! Make it small, they’ll notice. Tag something as simple as your web address or a small message “Want more? Go to: “.
    • Games – Whether online games or downloadable, people always love to play. Distribute games and make sure you have links back to your website embedded within. Be creative with it! ;).. Maybe even make it a part of the game. This is a great place to use the old “Want more?” tag line. How about sharing secret codes on your site? The possibilities are endless. Simple and fun work wonders. How about some new spins on the classics? A new pong, or a pacman, set to a current hot trend in the news. Go for it!
    • Music/Sounds – This can be a tad trickier since it’s a bit hard to show a web address within a song ; ). How about distributing some funny viral stuff with a tiny audio tag at the beginning announcing your site. An announcer reading really fast “Get more at “.
    • Software/Scripts – WordPress is an awesome example of content distribution in action. Every copy of wordpress that goes out comes with built in links back to wordpress and to the personal sites of the developers. That’s hot ; ). Hundreds of thousands of links pouring in automatically. Offer free software with your links embedded or, better yet, offer a script your visitors can use on their website with a built in link back to your site.
    • Physical Products – Tshirts, mousepads, pens, blenders, playing cards, boxes, you name it! Put your links on everyday items and start passing them out. Picking items that people use all the time is an easy way of making sure that they actually get used and your link noticed ; ). It helps to make things attractive, give people a reason to want to use your items.

And that, my friends, is a wrap! There you’ve got 7 more powerful traffic strategies to keep you busy for awhile. Get rolling on it! Get more? Feel free to add them on in and share with the world! Be sure to include a link back to your site if you’ve got something good to share ; ).

Off to another hard day’s work! You guys are awesome! Talk to ya soon! : )

-Jonathan Wold