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2013 Year in Review

I’m not sure why I’ve never done a year in review before, but this year was such an amazing year for me in terms of learning and growth, that it seems crazy to not write this blog post. I’m really, really excited for 2014 and I think a lot of that stems from the fact that 2013 turned out to be such a great year. To be sure, there were some very rough spots. I’m pretty sure I leveled-up about three times. And things got hard. There were times when I was about to throw in the towel. Moments where I wondered why I was running this business. Nights lying awake with my stomach in knots. But there were some key events that happened at the right time and I came through those dark times more motivated and more excited about my business than I’ve ever been. As I made it through those rough spots, I also was able to look back and appreciate what I took away from the experience. As 2013 started to enter its waning months, I even began to appreciate some of the harder times for what they brought to my journey.

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Taking a Step Back

A few months ago, I wrote about growing my business and how I had come to a fork in the road.  I needed to figure out how to manage my growing business with my family’s needs, while maintaining my sanity.  I’ve implemented a few measures recently: hiring some help and enforcing a stricter email policy, to name two.  But, it’s still not cutting it.  Even though I hired someone, I continued to take on new clients and new work, while still maintaining the 40-some websites I already support.  It’s hard to turn down new work; I love meeting new people and learning about their businesses and how I can help them.  I also love the creative challenge of designing a new website.  But bringing on a new client is a lot of work and it’s very time-consuming.

Because of this, I’ve decided to temporarily stop taking on new clients.  This means I won’t be taking on any new website design work or even taking over sites that just need maintenance and occasional updates.  I did not come to this decision easily.  But, after mulling this over for a couple of weeks, it feels like the *right* decision.  At least for now.  I don’t know how long this hiatus will last.  At least 6 months.  Maybe a year.  Maybe more.  I have some definitive things I’d like to accomplish before opening the new-client door again.

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A Little Perspective from Vacation

We just returned from a very relaxing, very warm trip to the gulf coast of Florida.  We planned this trip way back in late winter to celebrate my Mom’s retirement.  As usual, life leading up to the trip was chaotic and I was up late most nights wrapping up projects and meeting deadlines.  It almost felt like it wasn’t worth it.  To go on vacation, that is.  The stress that surrounded my days and evenings made me question why we were even going on this trip.

And then, it was Thursday.  The day before our trip.  I closed my laptop and packed our bags.  And we left.

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Choices, Choices: Selecting the Right WordPress Theme

I’ve been doing a lot of WordPress theme picking lately. Mostly because I’ve got quite a few clients in the early website development phase of the whole website design process. Picking a theme is an important step. It lays the groundwork for how your website is going to look and feel. It can also determine how your website will grow and expand as your business grows and changes. That’s an awesome thing; websites are changeable, malleable and not permanent. You can change your home page graphics to feature a new item for sale or you can update your contact information when you move to a new location.

I almost always design my WordPress websites off of a starter theme or framework. There are a couple reasons for this – one, my time is somewhat limited right now (I’m juggling raising a family and running a business) and it’s nice to start with some pieces in place and two, there are some really amazing themes out there. There are also a *lot* of themes out there. Choosing a theme can be overwhelming. But, with some basic rules and a little time spent searching, designing your website from a theme can give you a great starting point for your new website.

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A Fork in the Road: Growing a Business

Like I mentioned in my last post, I do this business as a part-time thing. But lately, it hasn’t been part-time. It’s been sucking up every free moment I have, and, in turn, sucking the life out of me. And that’s no fun. I do this job because I love it.  Period.  I’m not only passionate about web design, but I’m also passionate about meeting small business owners, learning about their business, and helping them bring their best to the web. I feel a responsibility to my clients to offer my knowledge about web design and technology so that they are promoting their business in the best way possible. Lately, I’ve barely been able to keep my head above water. Don’t get me wrong; this is an awesome place to be. Growing a business is not easy and I’m lucky to have such awesome clients like this and this that have helped me grow my business. The “how” of growing a business is the challenge; there’s no exact path or guidebook to follow. When I come to these forks in the road, I’m the one responsible for making the decision on which path to take.

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