Change is hard! I'm lucky enough to work from home under normal circumstances, but with my wife being a nurse and my daughter's daycare closed, there has been some adjusting.
With everyone still (mostly) staying at home, I’m sure we’ve all had to make adjustments to work. In my case, on the surface, it doesn’t look like a lot changed. Since I work from home, not a big change for me. Since my wife is a nurse, she still goes to work on her normal schedule. But my daughter’s daycare is closed, so there’s no one to watch T on days my wife works. Here’s how I’ve been managding. Note: This went out in my members-only newsletter last month. I thought it would be good to share here! If you want to get all the exclusive members content, you can join here.
So there are a few ways we’ve adjusted. First, when Erin works (three 12 hour shifts a week), I hang out with my kiddo (that’s a given). I’ll wake up about an hour before T, do some work in the morning and then we play and such when she wakes up. She’ll have about an hour of iPad time (2 30 minute sessions) where I’ll check email and do small tasks. I’m trying very hard to be engaged and not think about work, but that’s not always easy.
As a result I’ve also changed my Calendly to reflect availability only on
With live events (especially big ones) being cancelled for the foreseeable future, many organizers are weighing the options between virtual or postponing. But there's another option: podcasting.
Events are some of the best ways to learn, network, and engage with a community of people. With most in-person events being cancelled for the foreseeable future, we’re looking for a replacement – someplace to learn, grow, and meet new people. Virtual Events seems to be the most popular, and they’re fantastic! But they also take a lot of work. Replacing, or at least supplementing, your event with a podcast could be a big, long-lasting win for you, your speakers, your sponsors, and especially your attendees.
Benefits of Making Your Event a Podcast
OK so before we start brainstorming ideas on how to do it, let’s talk about why it might be a good idea. First and foremost, it’s a lot less work. It’s likely not going to be live at all, and you don’t need to manage a control room for bringing on guests, taking comments and questions, and falling victim to technical glitches.
Speakers can focus on delivering good content without worrying about also managing the camera or slides. All they’ll need to do is talk. You can still mention sponsors at the beginning and end of the talk. And you can encourage engagement in a community area you set up for
You probably want to do more video work from your home right now. Gear posts are a dime a dozen. What about software? Here are my recommendations.
So you’re ready to start investing time into your Twitch stream or YouTube channel. There are lots of tutorials on finding and setting up the right gear, but what about software? How do you efficiently stream or edit videos? Does it matter what you use? As someone who’s used all sorts of video editing and streaming software over the years, I can tell you that finding the right software can go a long way in helping you easily stream or record. Here are my recommendations for each.
First, let’s talk recording and editing. This is a little more straight-forward because not doing it live means you can control the environment a little more. You’re not subject to internet outage or bandwidth issues. You can choreograph your videos a bit more, and you can do multiple takes.
There are also TONS of options in this space. I use 2-3 depending on my needs.
For on-screen tutorials with my face in it sometimes I use ScreenFlow because I know how to use it and it’s well suited for that. You configure which screen you want to record, your camera, and your mic, and you’re ready to go. You can even connect an iOS or
Automation is a great way to save yourself time and make money, but there aren't always super clear tutorials on what to automate, or how. Here are 7+ resources to help you learn automation!
Something I say a lot is automation helps you cut away the things you don’t need to do, so you can focus more time on the actual tasks that require your attention. I also talk about tools I like using for automation. But where do you learn how to automate? Do you just try things and see what happens? Are there tutorials? Courses? Here are 7 fantastic resources for learning how to automate.
This week is automation week for me! If you want to learn about my process and get some tips, the latest episode of my podcast, How I Built It, is for you.
A Note on Marketing Automation
While there are lots of great tools below to help with marketing automation, this post doesn’t focus on that. This is all about task automation. Let me know if you’d like some resources on marketing automation too!
Note: I’ll mention right off the bat that this blog and my YouTube channel have some tutorials.
There are a few free resources out there to help you get started! Here are some of my favorite blogs and podcasts.
One fantastic resource is Zapier’s Learning Center, which has a bunch of free PDFs to get ideas and use specific apps, like Google Sheets, and those related
Going on a podcast? Don't waste the opportunity to grow your audience! Have a clear plan...and call to action.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how to get on someone’s podcast. Congrats! Now you have your first podcast guest spot lined up. You’re set to provide value for a ready and willing audience. But being a podcast guest is about more than just talking. While you shouldn’t be going on just to hawk your wares, you should be ready to help listeners learn more about you. Here’s how. Know What You’re Going to Talk About
If you’ve pitched yourself for a show then you likely also suggested a topic. But if someone reached out to you just to have you on, make sure you nail down the topic before going on the show. Just because you’re an expert on a topic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. Brush up on a few talking points and make sure to hit the big areas during the interview.
You should also try to stick to one area. This is a mistake I’ve made several times as a podcast guest. Because I do so much, we kind of jump around a lot. And while I’ve tried to tie it in a bow after the fact, it probably didn’t land like I wanted it too with the audience. Instead, when you nail down the topic with the host, be sure to stick to that
Pocket is a great way to save and filter stories you want to read later. But with Zapier, I'm taking that to the next level by sending tagged items to different locations. This helps me automate my newsletter, social sharing, and more.
Back before I decided to start automating more, the way I would compile my newsletters was to save links to Pocket and then on Monday mornings, scour them for what to share, create the links, and sum up the stories. I also had to be careful that I didn’t share the same link two weeks in a row. It was a lot of work. And then I realized that I could save myself a lot of trouble by using Pocket to automate not only my newsletter, but social sharing as well.
Over the years I’ve switched between Pocket (formerly Read It Later), Instapaper, and even Safari’s Read Later function. But I landed on Pocket for a few reasons:
It’s free for my needs
I never actually log-in to the app, so I need feel that need to be a completionist.
Using Pocket’s tagging system, I can tag a story I’ve saved, and Zapier will do the rest.
The “newsletter” Tag
First up is the newsletter tag. When I tag something with newsletter in Pocket, it kicks off a Zap that will grab the link, title, and description. It will then format it (making the title the link to the story), and send it to Evernote, to a note called “Newsletter.”
This is a HUGE time
Starting a business might be easier than ever but it's still hard. That's why there's 2 services freelancers should always pay for.
Today it’s easier than ever to start a business. You have an idea, you set up a website, and BOOM – you have a business…right? Not exactly. Starting a business might be easier than ever, but it’s still hard. There’s lots of information you need to know about structuring your business, managing your money, using the right tools, and so much more. It’s also hard to know what to invest in, and what you can do yourself for free for a while. Well, here are 2 things every freelancer and business owner should pay for, right off the bat. I should preface this article by saying I’m not talking to anyone who has a side-hustle. For those folks, you should keep track of your income and report it on your taxes. I’m talking to people who are running an honest-to-goodness business that accounts for most, or all of their income.
#1: An Accountant
Your taxes are about to get a lot more complicated. You need to report all of the income you’re making, you should be tracking all of your business expenses, and making sure you account for (ha!) anyone else you’ve paid. In the US, you’ll also be subject to self-employment tax.
Scheduling Guests for your podcast and making sure they get all the right information can be a time consuming task. That's why it's one of the first processes I automated. In this tutorial, I'll show you how I used Calendly and Zapier to make sure all of my interviews are set up properly.
Booking podcast guests can be a mess without the right tools. Missing one step can mean a bad recording, forgotten instructions, and unprepared interviewers. That’s why I’ve automated my entire guest booking process. I don’t forget anything, and I make sure guests are ready to record. Here’s how I do it. Watch the Video
I created a video where I walk through the whole process here:
Tools of the Trade
To start, these are the tools I use:
Calendly for scheduling, email reminders, and calendar invites
Zapier to connect Calendly to everything else.
Zoom for the calls
Evernote for show notes
Airtable for the show schedule
At the center of these tools is Zapier, the linchpin connecting everything. Let’s see how it all fits together.
Calendly Kicks it off
The only manual part of this process until the guest and I meet is me sending them a link to my Calendly, which you can see above. It includes information about the show, as well as a link to helpful notes.
Calendly connects to my calendar to look for available times, and then based on criteria I set for when I want to meet, it displays available times to the guest. You might have noticed I only record on Thursdays
How can brands reach new audiences with in-person events being cancelled? I have some thoughts revolving around podcast sponsorship and creating unique experiences for listeners.
This may seem a little bit like news jacking, but it is something I’ve been thinking about over the last week. With the amount in-person events being cancelled or going online due to COVID-19, is there another good outlet for brands to reach new customers? While digital events are the next likely option, I think podcast sponsorship can serve as a fantastic alternative for a few reasons. Here are what brands and podcasters can do to help fill the void. Benefits of Podcast Sponsorship
There are a few strong benefits of podcast sponsorship:
It’s usually more affordable
The potential reach is greater than an in-person event
The spot is forever. There will always be a backlink for that episode
Hosts are trusted by their audience, so recommendations hold more weight
You don’t need to send people, swag, or booths anywhere That’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks. Having boots on the ground at events to talk directly to potential customers can be a powerful thing. So what can be done to help mitigate that?
What Brands can do
A while back, I wrote how to make the most of a podcast sponsorship. I still strongly recommend all of those things. You want to make it as
Lots of people are starting podcasts and for good reason. It's easier, it's a great way to connect with and build your audiences, and you can help people...and yourself.
In 2018, both Seth Godin and Pat Flynn stated they believe podcasting is the new blogging. It feels a lot like that too. Back around 2004, when blogging really exploded, we saw a number of tools come out to make publishing easier for those who aren’t tech-savvy. Blogger, Live Journal, WordPress, and Moveable Type all set out to do something that hadn’t been done before: allow people who know nothing about website development to set up their own websites. Now, we’re seeing the same thing with podcasting. But if you can, should you? Here’s why you should start a podcast.
Starting is Easier
Let’s start with a basic premise: getting started will no long cost you thousands of dollars. In fact, I have a blog post on how to start one for less than $100.
You no longer need to be in a recording studio to get high-quality audio. You can get a decent mic that plugs right into your computer. There are all-in-one services that allow us to create and manage our entire show from one place, for a small monthly fee.
One app, Anchor, even lets you record, edit, and upload directly from their interface. It couldn’t be easier.
Accessing Them is Easier – Which Means
With a nearly nationwide quarantine happening in the US right now, and events being cancelled months in advance, people are starting to wonder how to get talks and materials into the world. I think podcasting is a great way, and have set up a site to help facilitate that.
Last night I gave what will probably be my last in-person talk for a while. Between COVID-19, social distancing, and my son being born in July, I won’t be doing much (if any) traveling for the rest of 2020. I’ll probably record and release the talk I gave to the National English Honors Society of my alma mater, Burke Catholic High School. But this got me thinking about all of the conferences, meetups, and classes being cancelled. Lots of great content with no one to hear it…at least not in-person. Thankfully It’s easier than ever to publish your message. And I think podcasting is a fantastic avenue to do it.
All You Need is a Microphone
You might be wondering why I’m talking about podcasting instead of video, and that’s a fair point. But the truth is it’s a lot easier to put out a quality podcast than a quality video. With videos you need to think about resolution, a good mic, lighting, framing, and then probably at least minor edits or multiple takes.
With a podcast, all you need is a decent mic. Editing is free with Audacity and you can cut out mistakes easily without having to reset to avoid visual jumps.
What About Podcast Hosting?
In this tutorial I talk about how I built a simple. responsive price table using native Gutenberg Columns.
Last week I worked on an upcoming tutorial for a popular online publication on how to style the Gutenberg Columns block (I’ll be sure to send that along when it comes out). As as result, I decided to experiment to see what you could reasonable do, and came up with this Gutenberg Price Table: https://codepen.io/jcasabona/pen/RYvEYd. In this tutorial, we’ll go over some of the things we need to do to make this happen. Requirements
There are few requirements / constraints:
It has to be responsive
The stacking order for the columns needs to reflect content priority (e.g., the most important package should be the top one)
?While I won’t do a full blown tutorial on how I did this (you can look for the upcoming tutorial for that), I will highlight some important parts aspects.
How Gutenberg Columns Work
There are three things to know about Gutenberg Columns:
At the time of this writing, they use Flexbox. Originally they used CSS Grid, but the core team decided to switch to ?Flexbox for the better browser support
There are 2 classes by default: wp-block-columns for the overall columns container and wp-block-column
This is a story of how I nearly lost 15 years of photos because I systematically deleted everywhere the backup was - starting with Flickr.com. Luckily, I had enough copies, due to a good backup strategy, that they were saved. Here's how.
Over the weekend I had a bit of a scare. I was thinking about my trip to Ireland – a trip I took nearly 15 years ago – and I decided to take a walk down memory lane. Since those photos were on Flickr and I decided to delete Flickr earlier this year, I went to the Photos app, assuming I added them. No dice. OK – I’ll check my Time Machine back up. Not there either. Luckily, they were somewhere. But not before I started to panic. What Happened to my Photos?
Well, the short of it is I downloaded my Flickr photos on my PC, the day before my iMac Pro came. No problem – I had a backup, right?
My Backup System
On my PC, I had a 3-pronged approach to backups:
Getting Rid of the PC
So as I said, my iMac Pro came the day after I backed up my Flickr account. So the Flickr account is gone, and at this point, the archive exists on the PC, and Backblaze. Then this series of events happened:
I waited a couple of weeks to wipe the PC to make sure I didn’t need anything. I wiped it when I sold it. That would be the main drive, and the bulit-in SSD Drive
I kept the Backblaze account until it was time for me to renew my billing – that was about 7 months after
As WordCamp US approaches, you should have a strategy in mind to make the most of it. Here I share 3 tips for making sure you achieve your goals and network with the people you want to meet.
WordCamp US 2019 is next week and I’m getting excited. It’s the biggest US-based conference for people in the WordPress community and at this point, it feels a lot like a college reunion to me. But there are also goals I’d like to accomplish while I’m there. If you’re spending your own money to get there, you’ll likely want to make the most of your WordCamp experience too. While it can be overwhelming, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure you maximize your conference weekend. 1. Have a Main, and Secondary Goal
Before I land in St. Louis, I’ll have the a primary metric to measure whether or not my WordCamp US was a business success (seeing friends guarantees it will be generally successful).
I recommend that you write down a set of goals you’d like to accomplish at WCUS. It could be something like:
Meet a few people you only know online
Find a tool or product that will help you do your job better
Make a mutually beneficial connection with someone related to your business
Get clarity on a business problem you’re having
Improve your WordPress website in a specific way (better performance, improve a feature, etc)
Not directly in the purview of WordPress, but Slack has become a huge distraction and I know we use it heavily in the community. Here's how I'm reeling it in.
One of my goals is to read 21 books this year, and I’m doing super well so far. After finishing the super dense (and very thought provoking) Homo Deus, I’m flying through It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work. While the hubris of Jason Fried drives me crazy, I’ve read all of his and DHH’s books, and they’ve all been excellent. So I suppose the hubris is well-deserved. In any case, I’m almost done with that book and I’ve decided to take my first action: turning off Slack notifications. Slack Kills Productivity
This might sound crazy to people in my space, as Slack has become the de-facto standard for communication for the lot of us. But it’s also a HUGE distraction. In the book, Fried and DHH talk about how distractions kill productivity, and just because I’m not in an office, I’m not immune. Slack makes it very easy for people to take you out of the moment – it’s the virtual knock on the door and, “hey you have a minute?”
I should note that they don’t call anyone out by name, but I’ve definitely felt like they were talking to specific people or companies at certain points.
Podcasting doesn't have to be an expensive endeavor! In this article, we'll look at how to podcast on a budget of $99.
Welcome to the first installment of Podcasting on a Budget! Over the course of several posts, I’ll talk about how you can start a podcast for less than $100, $250, $600, and $1000. Let’s get started with the lowest barrier for entry: Podcasting for less than $100. Overview
If you’re looking to podcast for less than $100, there are some tradeoffs you need to make to split up the cost a bit. Luckily there are lots of free resources, but the most important items on our list – mic and hosting – can drive up our cost a bit. In this guide, I’m going to recommend spending most of your budget on the mic, with some words of caution regarding your hosting if you decide to go free.
I’ll also provide an alternative kit at the end!
Microphone: ATR2100 ($65)
This mic comes recommended from lots of people in the podcasting community, from beginners to professionals. It’s easy to use, affordable, and pretty forgiving of your environment.
The really nice part about the ATR2100 is that it also comes with an XLR output, so if you every want to dabble in upgrading your equipment, the ATR2100 will work with professional audio equipment and portable recorders.
I've been preaching the importance of building your list for the last few months, and now my favorite mailing list app, ConvertKit, offers a free plan! In the video, you'll learn how to build a nice landing page to start collecting email addresses for your product or service.
ConvertKit has recently opened up a free plan for people to build landing pages and forms so they can start building their email lists. And while usually you need to refer a friend or pay to see those subscribers and send emails, in this video, you’ll get a special link that will unlock 100 subscribers and broadcasts for free. You will also learn how to build a nice looking landing page to compel people to join your mailing list. Watch the Video
Signing Up for a ConvertKit Account
Here’s the deal! If you Sign up for ConvertKit with my affiliate link – https://convertkit.com/JC116 – you get 100 FREE subscribers and broadcasts. That’s only available through ConvertKit’s affiliates!
After clicking the link, follow the on-screen instructions. In the video I choose:
No I’m starting from with email
I don’t have a website
After that, you’ll be logged-in to ConvertKit and you can click on the “Create New” button. You’re given the choice between form and landing page. Choose landing page.
Landing Page Tips
There are lots of templates to choose from. Pick what you like best! In the video we go with the Cedar template.
I've sold my laptop and replaced it with an iPad Pro. I go over the things it does really well, as well as some of the stuff I wish it did better (like development).
Since going out on my own full time, my tech stack has been a bit of a revolving door. In the quest to find the perfect set up I went from a MacBook Pro to a PC / smaller MacBook for travel. Less than a year later and I’m not too happy with that setup. Nothing against the PC, but living in two-thirds Apple land makes having parity between machines very hard (plus, Camtasia, my main video editor, is a hot mess). So when Apple announced the new iPad Pros, I made a decision to go with that and only that as my travel machine. So first, as much as I like the idea of an iPad-only lifestyle, I simple can’t (not yet anyway). The video and audio editing tools are not nearly as good on iOS as they are on macOS, and doing local development is much much easier.
Primary Machine: The iMac Pro
So what does 2019 have in store for my tech setup? Well, last year I cheaped out because I though a PC would be just as good as an iMac Pro. So I’m selling both my MacBook (sold) and my PC (still working on that one, if interested), and I’m buying an iMac Pro as my primary machine. This will bring me wholly back into Apple’s ecosystem and allow me to use all the tools I currently
For 2019, I've decided I want to implement a new theme to help guide my decision making. I've focused it around learning and teaching, consuming and creating new content.
My favorite podcast of 2018 was Cortex, a show hosted by Myke Hurley and CGP Grey about their working lives. Each year they decide to come up with yearly themes to help them guide their decision making, processes, and hopefully improve their overall lives. I’ve decided that I will also implement a theme for 2019 – and my theme is the year of new content. There are 2 primary reasons I made this my theme for 2019:
I want to consume more new content (books, movies, TV, courses)
I want to create more new content
I Didn’t Consume Enough Good Content in 2018
While I (barely) hit my reading goal for 2018, I don’t feel like I mixed up the books I read, and to be honest, I counted a couple of summaries as actual read books – I mean, I got the gist, right?
I also didn’t see nearly as many new movies as I hoped, and over the last 2 years, I’ve only seen one “new” TV show: The West Wing.
For 2019, I want that to change. I’ve started a new habit of reading every morning before I do anything else. This will help me reach my reading goal of 21 books in 2019.
I’ve also made a list of TV shows and movies I want to watch this year. Instead
Understanding how web design is changing allows us to be proactive, instead of wondering what happened when it's too late. In this article, I share my own thoughts on web design in general.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the changing landscape of web design and development, and I believe there’s already a fast-moving shift in how customers are approaching getting online. I may elaborate more later, but here are the overall thoughts. You Don’t Need to Code to Make a Career Out of Web Design
I’ve gotten a lot of pushback on putting this idea out into the world. You don’t need to code to make websites. With the advent of page builders and services like Squarespace, you don’t need to necessarily know HTML and CSS – at least not to get started. Will it make you better? No doubt. Do you need it to get that first (or first 50) website out there? Absolutely not.
You could focus on other skills instead: content creation, UX, color and font theory, etc. In my eyes, we’re seeing a shift much like the one WordPress brought about in the mid-2000s. As more people shifted to using WordPress as a CMS, there were the people who claimed that WordPress will never be as good a CMS as one they could make themselves.
Now, it would be ludicrous (in most cases) to code your own CMS from scratch, especially for a simple informational website. If
Don't sound like you're in a bathroom stall! Whether you're meeting, recording, or presenting more from home, here's a list of mics for any budget and level of experience.
Recently I wrote about how to host a webinar or live stream, which entry level gear. But after my friend Rian reached out to me, I realized I don’t have a single resources with gear for every level. While my gift guide for podcasters has a lot of that info, it’s not super clear and has a lot of other stuff. In this post, I’ll give you a few options for a mic at every level. Beginners’ Mics ($100 or less)
This is the category I tend to write about the most because I help people start podcasts. But I would say you’re looking for a beginner mic if you want something simple that sounds better than the built-in mic, without breaking the bank.
ATR-2100 is what I recommend the most. It’s small, light, and easy to set up.
Blue Yeti is a popular option for a lot of people. You have some control over how much sound the mic takes in, which can be helpful…but it’s also been known to be a pitfall for people who don’t know about these settings.
Intermediate / Upgrade Mics ($100 – 300)
When you’re ready to move beyond the beginner mic you picked up, there are a few options for you to consider. Most of these will be XLR microphones,
Starting a podcast is all the rage! This article will tell you 6 great plugins for your podcast website on WordPress.
WordPress is certainly the most popular CMS in the world, powering over 30% of the web. It also powers all sorts of websites, from blogs to giant e-commerce stores and everything in between. This includes podcast websites. However, recently I attended Podcast Movement, a fantastic podcasting conference, and discovered that many podcasters struggle with creating their own website. While there are countless tools that will automate the process for you, you’re at the mercy of a platform you don’t own. Still, finding the right tools can be hard. That’s why in this article, I’m going to tell you about 6 killer plugins for your podcast website on WordPress. Specific Podcasting Plugins
First, there are 2 really great contenders for actually turning your blog into a podcast website: Seriously Simple Podcasting and Powerpress by Blubrry.
Seriously Simple Podcasting
I love this plugin because it really is simple. It creates a new post type called “Episodes” and then builds your podcast feed based on that. You can even have “Series,” meaning you can host multiple podcasts from the same WordPress site. Set up for this is fantastically easy. It works
Automating things you don't need to do is one of the best ways to save your time, or spend it on more important tasks. Here's how you can start automating today.
Time is also the only thing you can’t buy, or get more of. Do things that will save you time, and you will grow your business. I truly believe that and one of the best ways to find time is by automating the things you personally don’t have to do. There are lots of tools out there like Zapier, IFTTT, and Siri Shortcuts on iOS to make automating these fast and easy. Here are a few tips so you can start automating today. Ask yourself if a person needs to do the task.
There are lots of things we can do that a computer can do for us. If you’re manually doing something you don’t need to do, there is a great opportunity for automation.
A few examples are:
Automatically pulling expenses into your accounting software. FreshBooks and other accounting apps will usually have this built it. I put all of my expenses on my AmEx, and FreshBooks imports them for me.
Sharing to Social Media. Plugins like Social Web Suite will allow you to share to Facebook (pages), Twitter, and LinkedIn upon publish. And of-course, there’s Buffer for auto-sharing.
Sending emails. I send emails based on events like when a proposal is accepts, an invoice is paid, or something is added to specific
Wondering how to host a live stream or webinar? Here's all the gear and software you need to get up and running.
One of my goals for 2020 is to do more in front of the camera. I’ve been posting regularly to my YouTube channel. I also want more of my courses to include in-front of the camera work. But beyond that, my intention was to do more live streams, office hours, and webinars. This was true before many of us were faced with putting our normally in-person content online. Now this is even more important. So here’s how you can affordably host a live stream or webinar. Now I have a whole setup that I’ve put lots of time and money into. But the goal is easily and cost-effectively. So let’s get started.
Live Streaming Gear
There are 3 main components you should have if you’re working on a live stream:
and some sort of lighting
I love talking about microphones and recording gear in general, and I think there are a few options you can go with here. They don’t need to break the bank – they just need to be decent.
The ATR-2100. This is the mic I recommend to podcasters. It’s affordable, decent quality, and easy to set up.
The Blue Snowball or Blue Yeti. Blue has been a trusted brand in this space and while they take some configuring,