Here’s The Three Main Areas We Cover During This Great Interview
1 – How To Become An Effective WordPress Website Designer/Developer
2 – How Much Work Is Necessary To Develop An Online Training Course?
3 – Website Pricing Trick and Tips
From Being A Clinical Psychologist To Running A Highly Successful Web Agency
Judi was formally a clinical psychologist who was in private practice for years before starting a medical records software company for psychiatric hospitals. After selling that company, Judi knew that I didn’t want to practice psychotherapy again but she had no idea what she was going to do instead. Even so, she decided to let her license go so she wouldn’t be tempted to “fall back on it.”
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While trying to figure out her next move, she be sitting in her neighborhood coffee shop, showing friends how they could use WordPress, along with the new and emerging social media tools that would help them grow their businesses. People sitting around would overhear her talking and ask me for my business card. I would tell them, “ she don’t have a card”, and they would reply, “I don’t care! I want to work with her!”
As time passed and I found herself continually being asked for help, one day it dawned on her: this was her next thing! Of course it was! she was a psychologist, a serial entrepreneur with a technical background, and, she had expertise with marketing and websites. A perfect storm for success!
Her unique combination of skills gave her super powers that she could use to help people take their businesses to the next level. Because these tools were new to everyone from web agencies to start-ups, she named my company, New Tricks, and I have not looked back since.
New Tricks has grown to a small team of five. While running that software company I told you about, I discovered that I would rather work hands-on with clients and design their sites than to be a full-time CEO and manager. Five people is a good number in a small company, especially since one of those five is my 29-year-old son, Michael Earley, who, much to my surprise, has now worked at New Tricks for over six years!
In the late 90’s, I bought a warehouse for my software business and built a huge loft in the back of the building for my family to live in. At the same time I was starting New Tricks, my kids had grown up and left home, so I made myself a small bed and breakfast website and started renting out the three extra bedrooms.
Now, our 6,000 sq ft loft does triple duty. It’s home to my husband, me, and our dogs. It’s the Urban Oasis Bed and Breakfast. And, it’s New Tricks World Headquarters (saying that always makes me smile). The cherry on top of all of this wonderment is that the City of Atlanta has built the wildly popular, Atlanta Beltline trail running right along our backyard!
I love what I do! Every single, last bit of it! I created it all. And you can, too!
The WP Web Designer Mastery Course registration is open now for the 4-month session starting May 1, 2018
Pricing Websites Like a Pro with the Website Cost Estimator
Here’s A Full Transcription Of Our Interview With Julie
Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the WP-Tonic Wednesday show. This is episode 283 and we’ve got a great guest with us this week. It’s Judi Knight, the founder and chief of New Tricks Web Design of Atlanta. Hello Judi.
Judi: Hi. How are you? Jonathan: Yes. Would you like to do a quick intro to the listeners and viewers?
Judi: Sure. I am the founder of New Tricks Academy and newtricks.com. We’re a small agency in Atlanta. I’ve got four people that work with us. I like to keep it small because I like to do the work. And I’m also very active in the WordPress community and have been from the start here in Atlanta and all over the country. I’m just really happy to be here today with you and Kim.
Jonathan: Oh, thank you so much, Judi. and I’ve got my co-host, Kim. Like to introduce yourself quickly Kim?
Kim: Absolutely. I’m Kim Shivler. I’m a Communications Strategist and Instructional Design Consultant and part-time helping out here as the co-host on WP-Tonic podcast.
Jonathan: Yes. She keeps me under control folks. I’m the founder of WP-Tonic. We’re a WordPress maintenance support company with a specialization in Membership and Learning Management Systems development and support. And before we go into the interview, I just want to quickly mention our major sponsor which is Kinsta Hosting. I host the WP-Tonic website on Kinsta and some of our clients’ websites and they’re big enough to have all the bells and whistles like staging site, continuous backup, great technical support but they’re not too big so they don’t care anymore. They’re still a reasonably boutique size WordPress specialist hosting provider. And I’ve just been blown away by their support and their commitment to WordPress. So if you’re looking for a really quality hosting experience at a very reasonable price, go to Kinsta. You can also go to the WP-Tonic website. There will be links in the show notes and on the website, banners to Kinsta. They are affiliate links and if you use one of those for yourself or for a client, you will be supporting this podcast. So, Judi, thanks so much for coming onto the website. So you’ve been really big in the WordPress community in Atlanta for quite a while and you’ve seen a little bit of a problem, a continuous problem with people joining the meetups and the activities in Atlanta around WordPress. Would you like to tell the listeners what you’ve generally observed?
Judi: Well, people fall in love with WordPress and they want to do this for a living. Either they’re already in the field or they have a second career. But they love to do it and then they start out and then they find out it’s a lot harder to do it right than they thought it was. Learning any new skill, there’s a part where you’re really excited and then you realize, “Oh my God. I’m making $3 an hour and I have no idea how to get from where I am now to competent”. And if you were learning to play the violin, you’d go get a violin teacher. Even meetups in WordCamps don’t provide the level of training that you need to, I call it the Bermuda Triangle of Web Designer hell where you’re in that place where you know how far you have to go but you don’t even know what you don’t know so it’s hard to get better. And so, I’ve started a course to deal with that when I realized that it’s way more than finding a perfect theme. It’s like seven competency areas, if not more, that you have to have a foundation in and people weren’t having a foundation across all of those.
Jonathan: So are you talking about a power user or are you talking about somebody using WordPress as a way of becoming a frontend Developer or is it all those kind of people?
Judi: My particular passion is working with people that are already working with clients. They’ve decided they’re doing this and they’re already working with clients but they don’t have the breadth of information that they need to do to know to do it right. Things like, you find people out there that have an HTML site and they’re converting it to a WordPress site and they don’t do 301 redirects and the client loses all of their 10 years of SEO. You know, those kinds of things or they make a really pretty site but it’s not effective because it doesn’t follow the brand’s story and have calls to action and speak to a particular niche. And so, you know, across these seven competency areas, there’s a lot of different ways people can screw up basically. It’s different for different people. It’s people that are out there that are already trying to be a Web Designer.
Jonathan: It’s a very broad title. What is a Web Designer? So, you know, obviously like you say, there’s a lot of balls that you’re going to be having to juggle if you’re going to do that direct client support and development for. Not only have you got the technical, you need a certain level of technical skill, but also the business side of it and the Marketing side, not only for your own, even if you’re just a, I was just going to say just a freelancer. I take that back. That was a bit slightly patronizing.
Judi: Well, especially if you’re a freelancer, right?
Jonathan: Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with being a freelancer. There’s loads of people that choose just to keep as an independent freelancer because of the lifestyle that they’re wishing to have. So there’s a lot of balls there. I see this actually getting a lot more complicated with the change in WordPress that’s coming up and the need for somebody to probably, the smaller customization work is probably going to dry up because people will be able to do that themselves. I might be wrong there because maybe this is the whole point of Editors. Because you’ve got the ability to do something, doesn’t mean that you should do it. Do you see things getting more difficult for somebody trying to break into this or do you think it’s just going to change but the fundamentals are just going to remain the same?
Judi: I think it’s not going to be as much of a change for small frontend Developers, freelancers who are out there services clients. There are always clients that can’t do any of this and even if they could, they don’t know what to put on their website. They don’t know how to make an effective website, the people that put their Welcome at the top and put their Mission Statement right on the top of the Home page. So there’s always going to need to be people that are, whatever people want to call them, facilitators of creating, building websites and that could even mean a Developer.
Just because you can do code, doesn’t mean you necessarily should. If you’re building a site for a small client who wants to, I mean, a small business, not even a tiny business, who wants to be able to update the site and keep it going themselves, even Developers don’t know how to make effective sites. And so, it’s that thing about the competencies across the broad. Even writing, if you’re going to even hire a writer, you can’t just go out and hire a writer. You have to know that the writer knows how to write for a website and knows how to write for conversion and tell the brand story. So even if you’re not going to be the writer, you need to know enough about what excellence is so that you can hire a writer and supervise them. So I think that will all the changes in WordPress, it’s going to affect larger companies more who have been coding using a lot of custom coding, custom fields, custom this and that and who have very large installations. They’re going to have to redo those. You know, if you haven’t been doing a lot of coding and you’ve been doing it with StudioPress or Beaver Builder or some of the other Page Builders like that, I don’t think that there’s going to be as a big a hiccup.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. Got any questions, Kim?
Kim: I do. And this is actually teasing out something that I know about Judi but I want the audience to know it also. Like me, Judi has had a professional career that was completely different. And because of that, she brings some really interesting things when you talk about effectiveness and the effectiveness of a WordPress site or any website. Would you share a little bit about that background Judi and why it allows you to really help people key in on what’s effective?
Judi: Yeah. Well, the secret is not so secret but I’m a Clinical Psychologist. I’m a Ph.D. Psychologist who practiced for many years. And then, I had a software company, was the CEO of a software company and the user experience person for medical records software. So combining those two things. I’ve always been really fascinated with user experience and really what it takes to bottle. Like if Kim was doing your website, I’d say, “Kim, obviously you can sell in person. You know what to do. You get clients, whatever, so we have to bottle what you do, who you are, what you do. We have to synthesize that and put it on your website in a way that people going to that site have an experience of who you are, what you do, that they’re in the right place and they make a connection with you that they absolutely decide you’re the person for them”. And so, that’s where my background helps. That’s my secret sauce. But I feel like I can teach other people to do that versus just have a website that shows your portfolio on the front. You see a lot of Graphic Design websites that just say, “Oh, I’m a Graphic Designer and here’s my portfolio”. But the thing is, portfolios all look like, unless they’re very stylized, it looks the same as everybody else. So why would I pick this person versus that person? And without that story, without the personal, without the photo, without the intro, 92 percent of the people check you out before they ever pick up the phone. You want to start off on a good foot. You want to be the person that they would rather work with before they even meet you. That’s what I mean by effective.
Kim: I love that. And we hear a lot in Marketing, not just Online Marketing, just in Marketing in general right now, of the power story and that we need to be telling our stories. So in this class that you have, you’re actually teaching some of that also, not just the technical piece but the storytelling piece?
Judi: Yeah. And people sometimes think that, Designers or Developers think that the story is about them when really the story is about how you help others. So the story focuses on your ideal client and you are the guide, basically, that’s going to get them what they want. So you have to have a niche, right? You have to know who you’re speaking to in order to tell that story correctly. So one of the students in my recent round of the course is a horse person and she was getting business. She’s a very talented Designer. She has some coding skills. She is doing business anyway but just not confident and her website was, you know, just, it looked like an About page basically. And one of the things in our course, I have people do their own websites because Web Designer and Developers are terrible about taking the time to really do this for yourself and it’s hard to do it for yourself. But if you can do it for yourself, then you can do it for others.
So I have them go through starting off with branding and niche and that’s a big resistance. “Oh, I don’t want to limit myself”. And so, the one woman is an equestrian and so she designed her site to be for the equestrian community and it is gorgeous. It tells her story. The things on her website, like her hero picture is a picture that would speak directly to her audience because it’s the leather of a saddle. And one of her client’s said, “I can just smell that. I can smell that through the website”. And that’s what we want to do is have somebody understand when they go to her site that this is a person that understands our industry and has already cut through everything. She’ll be great to work with. And so, I love that. I’m really proud of her.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. We need to go for our break folks. We’ll be back in a few moments and we’ll be talking some more with Judi Knight and we’ll be talking about how she developed this course, some of the things she learned about course development and continuing the discussion also about how people struggle to nichify and find their target audience. We’ll be back in a few moments folks.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back. We’ve had a great chat with Judi Knight. Been fascinating. So Judi, like you mentioned in the first half of the show you developed this course. Was it a much bigger task than you thought and what are some of the key things you’ve learned about the process?
Judi: Oh, it was a total surprise at how much work is involved in doing a course. I first did a pilot based on my blog post because I’ve been blogging for 9 years every Wednesday. And so, I have hundreds of blog posts and I them into categories and I had a lot of content. So the first one, I just made that up as I went along and it was six people and it worked out really well. But I knew that I had to take that content and then put it into a real course format with a video, a transcript, an assignment and a quiz. And after the first pilot which was finished right before WordCamp last year, WordCamp Atlanta and WordCamp Atlanta is happening now. So it was a year ago. I thought it was going to take me maybe 3 months to do all of that content. And seriously, it’s taken over a year. And I just actually, while I was doing the second round of the course, I was also finishing the end modules and just finished the last one like 3 weeks ago. There are 10 modules, 5 to 10 lessons per modules and with each one, like I said, having a transcript, an assignment and a quiz and then we meet weekly. And I just totally underestimated the time it was going to take to do that right.
Jonathan: Before I put it over to Kim again, on reflection, I hear the same story quite a lot. On reflection, do you think you would have been better off aiming for a very much smaller initial course which you could have got up and used it as a way of promoting and got on with your promoting and used it as a driver for your main course? Do you think that, on reflection, might have been a better strategy?
Judi: I think that probably in my life that’s a better strategy. I was the kid that in Home Ec, instead of making an apron, made a suit or the first cake I ever made was baked out Alaska. So, yes, absolutely it would have been a better strategy. But I kept thinking, “I can’t leave this out. I can’t that out”. And it’s still maybe. I might divide it up into different competency areas and then have people be able to do it that way.
Jonathan: Over to you Kim.
Kim: Thank you. So I hear you saying you meet live. So this is not a completely automated course. You’ve got some blended learning going on.
Kim: What was your decision on, as opposed to, you know, the everybody wants this automated mecca of passive income, what was your decision on making this kind of a live, probably some part coaching program almost?
Judi: I did this course because it’s a course that I would have wanted back when I was that person. The results from people signing up for courses are abysmal about finishing and I wanted people to be able to finish it. And I think that a big part of that is connecting with a mentor and love that part of it. There’s a lot of psychological parts of battling those inner voices and keeping with your commitment and connecting with the people in the course that keep people in the course. So I’ve had a really good track record in both of the sessions keeping people in the course and having them finish it. And I think that in large part is because I take a stand for them. I take that they’re going to get this done and it’s $2,500 for the course. I say if you can’t do just the cost of doing your own, having the coaching to do your own website pays for that. Plus, you should be able to get at least one or two other clients during the time, the 4 months or so that you can start charging more for your websites as well. But I think it’s the personal part of it that keeps people involved and attached.
Kim: I agree and it also is what pushes that higher value. It’s hard to sell an automated course for a whole lot of money because there’s so many out there and you don’t get that touch. Along those lines then, when you have them being active in the course, is that just with you or did you do any type of teamwork as far as like forums or comments or getting them involved with each other also?
Judi: Yes. People really like that. We have a slack group. You know, I think that’s something people either want more of and when I get more and when you have six people, both sessions had six active people. This last session had eight but two of them didn’t attend the meetings. And I’m hoping to have bigger sessions. But the part where they meet with each other, I think they got connected with each other and that’s a big piece of it too. And then, I also have my team. So when certain topics come up, I have them step into our meetings with us to go over things and to make clearer, whatever. So it’s a group effort. But I’m there most every session.
Kim: Excellent. And just a quick logistics question and then I’ll toss it back over to Jonathan. What process, because I do this also, I do the live, what process did you use to figure out what are the best times? You mentioned two people didn’t come to the live meetings. How did you get that live meeting time down?
Judi: Well, there’s that little app, I forget what it’s called.
Judi: Is it Doodle? I forget which one it is. Maybe it was Doodle. I think it was Doodle, that I put out a bunch of times and you know people are all over the place. I don’t really think the people that didn’t attend, it was because of the time. Because they also, those people, didn’t use their individual sessions. Because in addition to the weekly, there’s three 30-minute individual sessions built into it with me at different points, meeting certain points. And so, obviously, the two people that haven’t been attending, haven’t kept up with all of the coursework either as well as the people that attended. So, yeah, it’s hard to pick a time.
Kim: Wow. So you’ve got the automated, you’ve got the groups and then you’ve got the private one on one coaching. That is a value bomb you’ve got there. That’s fabulous. Jonathan, what do you think?
Jonathan: Oh, it sounds great. What kind of technologies do you, obviously WordPress was the I would imagine, but what other technologies did you choose to use for this?
Judi: A few years ago I had Nathalie Lussier be a keynote speaker at WordCamp and I’ve been following her for years. And so, I use her Ambition, AccessAlly and her Learning Management System and we built our own course on our own website for that because it’s really pretty. It allows us to really customize it and to have, you know, it’s beautiful. And it’s easy to use and it has all the bells and whistles with progress charts, I mean progress meters and easily making quizzes and keeping in touch with people. It also has affiliate capability.
Jonathan: You know, obviously your first batch of students is always a learning curve. So what were some of the fundamental feedback that you got that was a little bit surprising?
Judi: Well, when I put it out there, I was pretty shocked that I had six people right away say they wanted to do it. And then, I closed registration because I didn’t want to be on the hook for too many people when I didn’t know what I was doing. One person had said that she was excited about it because she had always wanted to work with me but didn’t know how. And so, that was surprising to me, that there were so many people that wanted to have this opportunity to basically learn all of this material and then kind of have me mentor them.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. And you’ve got the course reopening May, haven’t you, for a new batch of students? Is that correct?
Judi: Yeah. I was going to do it in the fall but I had so many people from the last time that missed it, that didn’t do it for one reason or another, that they’ve asked to do it, to have it before the fall. So, yeah. It’s going to open again in May.
Jonathan: Oh, we have that in the show notes folks. We have a link to that. I think we’re going to wrap it up for the podcast part of the show. In the bonus content that follows folks, which you’ll be able to watch on the WP-Tonic website, we’re going to discuss pricing with Judi and the struggles of pricing jobs for freelancers, agency owners. Pricing is always a problem and we’re going to be delving into that in the bonus content. Judi, you’ve been a fabulous guest so far. I’ve really enjoyed the discussion. How can people, in general, learn more about what you’re up to and what you’re doing in general Judi?
Judi: Well, they can follow me @judiknight on Twitter or Instagram and you can see my new puppy.
Judi: And also, go newtricks.com and you can sign up for my newsletter there. I send it out every Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. with tips and tricks for growing your business with using your website or designing your website with WordPress. And also, like you said in the show notes, they can find out more about the course, going to our landing page about the course.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great Judi. And Kim, how can people find out what you’re up to online Kim?
Kim: You can find all my different programs at kimshivler.com. And I will say for Judi, that newsletter does come every single Wednesday and it was one of the few that I actually read every week. So I can recommend signing up for it.
Jonathan: How can you get hold of me? It’s quite simple folks. Basically, you can go to the WP-Tonic website. We’ve got a load of new blog content on there around building Membership sites and using Learning Management Systems to build an online course. And we’ve got a fabulous amount of new material on the website. And you can also join us live, not only for the Wednesday show but also the Friday show, which we have a great panel which we do at 8:30 Pacific Standard time and you can see that on the WP-Tonic show Facebook page. Plus, you can watch the live interview of our Wednesday shows there as well. Also, next Wednesday, we’ve got a fantastic guest next Wednesday. We’ve got joining us, the former CEO of joining us for an exclusive interview. It’s going to be fantastic. He’s one of my heroes on the Internet and he’s just a really nice guy. So we’ve got that coming up. And just to finish it off, if you really want to support the show, give a review on iTunes. It really does help the show with the rankings in iTunes and that would be much appreciated. So we’re going to wrap it up now for the podcast part of the show. But please join us on the WP-Tonic website and watch our bonus continuance of the interview around pricing with Judi. We’ll see you soon folks. Bye.
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