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Marketing yourself as a WordPress developer is challenging, especially when starting out. In this episode, Jason and Bridget are joined by Rachelle Wise of Wise Arts to brainstorm some solutions.
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Networking through WordPress Meetups
Rachelle used to be part of her local WordPress Meetups and WordCamps when she lived in Minnesota. So when she moved here to California, she looked it up and lo and behold she found the OC WordPress Meetup, where she met Bridget and Jason.
Often, attending WordPress Meetups is an excellent way to get work, said Jason, who was reminded about the way Steve runs the general meetup where a lot of new users show up. Steve would suggest that those who need help meet a developer. Mostly, they would want to hire.
Rachelle didn’t get work that way directly but still sees the value of Meetups, especially since one works alone.
“I’ve definitely given a lot of free advice; not any paid stuff yet.” Rachelle Wise
WordCamps and Meetups are brand awareness campaigns in the sense that you are meeting people and reminding them that you are in business or still in business. Keeping top of mind is important with any business.
Think about speaking. Even Jason Tucker tells attendees of Whittier WordPress Meetup to build something then teach people how you did it, what you learned, and what you would do better next time.
Marketing Wise Arts So Far
Rachelle has done quite a bit of instinctual marketing so far. She hasn’t done any paid ads yet. She started working at an agency then worked as a sole developer for an agency. Once she became a remote worker, she was never going back.
After the sole developer gig devolved, she reached out to former contacts at the agency and she got several contracts through that.
“Eighty to ninety percent of my work is referral based. I meet someone I do a project for them, they tell their friends… I end up getting these amazing chains of referrals.” Rachelle Wise
The Magic Word is Referrals
Most businesses works on referrals and that’s why brand awareness is so important, Bridget reminds Jason and Rachelle. Being on shows, having Twitter and social media accounts matter. If referrals are your biggest source (your audience) then going to WordPress Meetups matters most.
“Referral marekting is marketing.” Bridget Willard
Don’t burn bridges. Keep lines of communication open. If you decline work, refer instead.
The thing about referral work is people often build a thing, put up a landing page and that’s it. At some point, you’re going to exhaust your first circle. You do that through marketing whether it’s social marketing or paid marketing or in-person events like Ross Gile does with Chamber of Commerces.
How should a beginner developer market himself?
“You have to build something. Please build something.” Jason Tucker
- Set up a GitHub account.
- Set up CodePen account.
- Go through FreeCodeCamp.org. It makes you build projects that can be used on your portfolio.
- Spend time on LinkedIn and keep it updated.
- Call yourself a website builder.
- Do pro-bono work to build your portfolio.
- Case studies with screenshots are better than just links.
- Videos to show specific functionality is great.
- Build your own website and maintain it.
- Pick at niche then go to a trade show. Build landing pages for that niche.
- Have business cards to hand out.
- Go to WordCamps and WordPress Meetups.
“Build your site on WordPress.com; it’s better than WIX.” Bridget Willard
How do you get free work?
“Find someone that looks like they need help.” Rachelle Wise
Try approaching local pizza places or nonprofit. Join a hackaton like Do Action. Definitely have business cards, suggests Jason, to give to local businesses. You may even barter for business like Jason did with the local dog groomers.
“You should build projects you care about.” Rachelle Wise
Even better, is building something that you believe in, Rachelle reminds us.
Demonstrate that you know how to learn.
Rachelle Wise reminds us that the most important part of being a WordPress developer is demonstrating that you know how to learn. Good design matters, so does looking things up on Google. Show you have personality.
A Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes
You need to maintain and update your own website. The proverb is true, but you need to invest in your own business. No one can care about it more than you.
“If you don’t maintain your own portfolio and your own website, the cobbler’s not going to make shoes for anybody.” Bridget Willard
In your portfolio and case studies, don’t link to their website only. Always use screenshots, reminds Jason Tucker. Rachelle has been making videos now which shows the functionality rather than the code.
It’s important to let people know that you are accepting clients whether it is in public or through private communication.
“You have to keep your eye on the pipeline.” Rachelle Wise
If the work you do is confidential, anonymize it says Jason. Show the trend on the graph without the actual detail.
Tool & Tip of the Week
Bridget loves kencko.com. It’s a good way to get two servings of fruit and veg a day and the cost works out to be $3 each — much cheaper than juice stores.
Jason is a huge fan of UTM codes and recommends the Chrome extension, Google Analytics UTM Builder. It allows you to build campaigns and make presets. He states a use case where people are using a QR code at his church and Rachelle and Bridget are verbally shocked they are being used.
Rachelle is a new convert to Calendly. With timezones and the annoyance of email back and forth, it helps quite a bit with scheduling. People used to just call her and she was having quite a bit of conflicts. She’s happy with meeting blocks that can be set up in 30 minute and 1 hour types.
Do you have any tools or tips we should know about?
We’d love to hear from you. Also, how are you marketing yourself? Tell us in the comments below.