Freelance writer and blogger Randy A Brown talks about his story going from a manufacturing engineer to starting his own freelance writing business at the age of 46. We cover so many amazing topics in this episode including his mindset and the reasons he left the corporate world to enjoy a home based business, to how to make money blogging and writing online, to what you need in order to make a big leap of faith when going full time with your business and more.
In This Episode
00:00 – Introduction
03:11 – Welcome to Randy
05:15 – When inspiration strikes
08:02 – In demand skills
10:39 – Make the decision
16:09 – Having a business mindset
17:36 – Create the foundation
23:42 – Constructive criticism networking
28:01 – Be prepared when you quit
31:27 – Taking courses to improve
32:13 – The value of having time to use
38:15 – Ways to scale
40:38 – Self-discipline and distractions
49:43 – Speak to an audience
54:10 – Being aware of seasons
56:31 – Support of family and friends
59:31 – Worst case scenario
1:02:46 – Follow the steps
1:05:58 – Investing
1:13:11 – Research is key
This episode is presented by my Divi/WordPress Beginners Course
Connect with Randy:
Episode #007 Full Transcription
Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode Seven. This is an interview with Randy a brown who is a freelance writer and blogger based outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. He’s most prominently known for his work on the Elegant Themes blog where he continually does product reviews and plugin reviews and a lot of really detailed and thorough tutorials. He also writes for several other Divi related websites and wider WordPress sites as well. And the cool thing about this interview is that he didn’t always do this.
In fact, he was a manufacturing engineer who at the age of 46, decided to do a complete career change and start his own freelance writing business. And that’s what he does now full time supporting his family. And this talk was so awesome, because I was really looking forward to this to hear his story, because I was so curious about what it would take to go from a role like that, as a corporate engineer to starting your own business, we get to hear all about that. He really took a leap of faith and just went for it again, at the age of 46. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, there’s no age where it’s too late to get into web design, or some version of web design, whether it’s writing, or whatever, and he did it and we get to hear about that transition.
Well, he also talks about things that you can do successfully if you’re a writer, or if you’re a blogger, and you want to monetize doing writing online. So we cover a lot of really cool topics, a wide range of methods and tactics and strategies that you can apply to your business right now. And if you’re on the fence, if you’re somebody who wants to start their own business, but you’re maybe still working full time somewhere else in Europe, you know, you’ve been on the fence as to whether you want to start this may be the episode that makes you take the leap because you’ll get to hear about how Randy did that. And again, he’s full time blogging, working from home and he loves it so you’re going to hear all about that.
Before we dive in this episode is brought to you by my Divi WordPress beginners course. When Randy you’ll hear about this when Randy started into writing, he didn’t know anything about WordPress and he took the long and hard route of learning everything himself and he actually talked about how he wished he would have just found a course that showed him the most important things to get him from point A to B and that’s exactly what my Divi WordPress beginners course does. Yes, you can find everything you want to know for free on Google. But the trade off is that it’s going to take you a lot of time and time guys is the most valuable asset that you need to protect whatever saves you the most time that’s what I recommend investing in and my Divi WordPress beginners course is very quick low cost course that will get you from point A to point B. So check that out if you want to learn WordPress in Divi.
Alright guys, enjoy my talk with freelance writer and blogger, Randy A brown. I’ll tell you right now you might want to get some popcorn and just chill out and relax with this one. And because it is entertaining, so enjoy the talk, guys. Here you go.
Randy, welcome to the show, man. Thanks for taking some time out of your day to chat here.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
So you are a freelance blogger and a writer. You most prominently write for the Elegant Themes blog and you also write for Divi cake and Divi space and a bunch of other marketplaces and big websites for denee and other WordPress community sites as well. I know you do other sorts of writing online. But before we get to that, you have not always been a writer and you haven’t always done freelance blogging, and I’m really excited to talk with you because you have one heck of a story. Because you came from a manufacturing and engineering background. I would love to start off by just hearing kind of your story how you went from doing, you know, being an industry that was completely different. How did how did that happen? How did you go from being an engineer and then getting into freelance writing?
Well, I have a kind of a diverse background, I guess. It’s actually more diverse than that. I started as a manufacturing molding supervisor. And I manage the molding department of a figuring manufacturing company. And I did that for about 10 years almost.
It wasn’t GI Joe was it?
No, no, it was little figurines a little candle, pecan shell resin figurines, and from there became a sculptor, I enjoy sculpting. But before that I had gotten a degree in electronics and then went into management. And then from there I went to become a an electronics technician working on consumer electronics. I did that for about seven years, nine years in that range. I forgot how old I am. But from there I went to manufacturing as an engineer technician and that was that for six or seven years. And then I became an industrial engineer. And I was an industrial engineer for the for the last three years. And then I quit. I quit my industrial engineering job and started a freelance writing business.
I always wanted my own business, I always need that from a from a child, I knew I wanted my own business. But I didn’t know what that was. You know, it wasn’t really the work that I was worried about or concerned about. It was the fact of me being my own boss, me working from home. Just doing work I enjoy doing. The problem is I enjoy a lot of work, a lot of things. And it’s really hard to figure out what that is. And so I was driving, I worked at denza. I don’t know if we can say the names of places, but I worked in in Marvel, and I live in Sweetwater. So you’re talking about a 43 mile drive both ways. So I’m driving 86 miles a day, and I’m listening to a lot of podcasts, lots of podcasts.
And, and I’m always trying to come up with my own business, and you needed to be low overhead, and you needed to pay me and it needed to be realistic, it needed to be solid, it needed to be, even though it could fluctuate, you know, you might make a lot one week and not as much the next week that was okay, as long as it balanced and needed to have that balance. And so one day, I don’t even remember what podcast this was. But one day I was listening to a podcast that said, the guest on there was talking about coming up with your own business idea.
Now I’d gone through 1000s of business ideas. You know, I come up with idea after idea, analyze it or look at it, I either lose interest or decide that there’s too much competition or decided that I don’t like it enough, decided that it’s too expensive. Also, I didn’t want to do something on the side, I wanted to do something that I can quit what I was doing, and then do it full time. I didn’t want two jobs or point, I’m driving at six miles a day, I’m going from home between 10 and 12 hours a day, I didn’t want two jobs. So I knew I needed to do something that I could ramp up quick.
So I’m listening to this podcast and the guy. He’s talking about advice for coming up with your own business ideas. He said one thing is to ask yourself, What are you good at? list things you’re good at? And I don’t remember the number is like, five things list of things you’re good at. And so I’m going through my mind, and I’m thinking about what are the things people know me for? What are the things people compliment me for and all my life that’s been writing, that’s always been at the top of the list. I’m a guitar player, play a little guitar, sculpt and do a few other things. But those are not what I’m really known for. I’m known for writing.
Even managers at Denza would bring me their papers, when they were in school, they were still taking college courses, they would bring me their papers to edit, you know, to go over and give them advice. And you know, just give it a glance over not write it for them, of course. But
Wow, that’s fascinating.
And so everyone thought of me as a writer, in when I’m saying this, I’m not talking about my mother, I’m talking about students that I’m Holly professional and stuff, exactly. People I’m in college class with people, because I took a business with a focus on that T Business Management with a focus on it. And for College Composition and for technical writing. My college professors would use my work as examples of you know, here’s how you structure an article and things along that line. So fellow students, so I was always complimented on my writing. So that was the top of my list. And then I threw in a few other things, sculpting, you know, guitar playing some things like that consulting teaching.
And then the next question was of the things you you are good at what is in demand. And at that point, I hadn’t really considered that writing was in demand. It never crossed my mind. But then I went home and I’m looking at what types of writing are available? Well, there’s technical writer, which you know, I have a lot of experience in because that was part of what I did. As an industrial engineer, I had to create courses to teach other managers and group leaders and Associates about our processes in lean manufacturing. I would develop databases. And from those databases, I would create user’s guides. And that had to be to the common person that was going to use this database. How do you approach this, and I learned quick, don’t leave out steps. Never leave out steps, put all the information in there, but put it in there in a way that they can understand. So I already had a lot of experience in technical writing from on the job.
Isn’t that fascinating how a completely different industry can translate to writing or web design or whatever
It is. And then So I knew that I had that background in writing. I knew that was a skill. But then I found that it is in demand, I didn’t realize how much in demand it really was. So I’m looking at, you know, technical writing is in demand. And then, but what can I do from home? That’s really what I wanted to do. Yeah. And then so I’m finding that articles are in demand. And think about that. Blogs run from articles they need, they need content, that’s how this works. They need content to work, and all these news magazines, all these online, you know, everything that they’re they’re filled with articles. And those are written by professional writers.
So then the next question was, of the things that are in demand, what can you afford to provide? Well, of course, writing is low overhead. Because what you need to write is a good keyboard. And I mean, a good quality keyboard, because if you’re typing, and you have to correct every other word, because you know, it doesn’t take a key, throw that away, you need a good a good laptop, or a good desktop, you need a good keyboard, you need a computer that’s got enough power to handle the images you’re dealing with. You need an internet connection, you need a word processor, and what computer doesn’t come with some sort of word?
Because Sure, yeah, yeah, I really don’t need too much. Right?
Exactly. And everything you need to run your business, you can you can use Google Sheets, you can use docs, I mean, there’s plenty of free apps out there. And I’m using paint dotnet for my images. And there’s plenty of free stuff out there. And then of course, you can graduate from there and go into the the better quality than what you need. But the overhead was low. So I processed this for a while, I went through and are processed, and I’m thinking through it, and I’m processing it. And I decided that it really is something that would work. And so I quit my job because I didn’t want to jobs, I didn’t want to develop a user base or develop a client base that I couldn’t meet their demands. Because I’m working for someone else for a living. It was an either or for me.
That’s a great Well, yeah, that’s a really good mindset. So many people start their businesses and try to do it on the side for so long to where they can never take it off, decided me directly. That’s just such an important. Every person I’ve talked to so far, that has been the key element like they went for it.
Yeah, yeah, just go for it. And the one thing I read several books before I even started this, I read several books about technical writing white papers for dummies, which white papers is what I had in my mind that I would do. You could also be a generalist,
You could always white papers, I’m not familiar with that.
Okay, a white paper is an article that is instead of 10 to 12 pages long would be more like 40 pages long. It would include graphs, charts, it would include a lot of detailed research, okay, it’s targeted to the buyer. So if you’re writing a white paper about a robot, say, because we built robots at Denza, we develop these things. So for for controlling this robot, and we’re designing and we’re building it, we can sell this to another manufacturing company, we need a white paper to go with it.
So it’s almost more like documentation, right?
Documentation, it’s a brochure, it’s how to is the value of it written to the buyer. And it tells them what benefit they’re going to get from it. And it’s researched. well researched, mature, research is one of my, my strengths.
So white papers is what I had in mind, because you might take one to two months to write a white paper.
Oh, yeah. Something 40 pages, that’s graphs and yeah, yeah. Yeah. Cuz I was wondering how you got into WordPress is that is that kind of how you found WordPress and Elegant Themes?
No, that was that was something totally different. But how that happened, was graduated college in 2009. I went, I went back to school, I got a business management degree. And
What degree were you, Randy, when you went back to college,
It was 2000s. I don’t remember. I was in I was 14. I think
Something like that. Halfway through, I started taking one class per semester so that I could have more time at home. So ended up taking me extra years is like, five or six user nights.
Yeah, I think I started in 2003, in that range. And then and then I graduated in 2000, something along that line. And the reason I started schools because in 2000 2001, I decided I was going to be a web developer. And I got Microsoft Office 2001 with a front page. And I’m going to develop websites with front page. And so I’m putting these websites together and all I know how to do is a little bit of, you know, move this here and move that there and use the templates they have in a I’m a web developer and So I get Randy at Brown calm, and I’m trying to develop websites. And I have no idea what I’m doing. And I knew it.
So I decided to stop. I decided to go to college and take some classes in web development in database management in networking, I got, I got sidetracked. And I went, I started focused on network engineering, and business focus, but then for it network engineering, and then from there, I got the job as an engineering technician. And then I wasn’t working on networks, and I wanted to use classes use my knowledge of something I was actually working on. So I want you to develop, we’re going to go along the line of databases. So I went with that for a little bit, but I wasn’t using that enough. And then so I took a few others.
And next thing I knew I had management of information systems is actually what my degree is business management with management of information systems as the it focus. And then then once I graduated, I had already taken a lot of classes, and it had already taken a lot of classes in writing, College Composition, one and two, and then technical writing. And then I did a lot of writing all the way through with a business mindset. So I was writing articles, basically, writing business plans. And then even my final teacher from my capstone project, told me that I should start a business writing business plans. So I’m like, No, this is in the back of my mind here. You know, people are telling me I should write.
I wanted to i just wanted to bring up something you said right there. Because you said you had a business mindset. So you’re a writer now with a business mindset, which is so important and crucial to be successful, because I think a lot of people, I talked about this with Nathan dweller a couple episodes ago about how a lot of artisans and writers have a more artistic mindset, to where it’s very hard to be sustainable. And if you have a more business or more scientific approach, it can set you up for winning for the long run. So that sounds like that. Really, I just, I’m fascinated, because you’re talking about all these things that I’m sure on the outside people were like, Randy, what the heck are you thinking going into freelance writing? right?
Because how old were you when you quit your job?
Gosh, that’s amazing. 46 you quit your job to pursue freelance writing, and start like a lot of luck. A lot of people are like in their early 20s. And they’re like, Oh, I’m too old. I need to get a job. It’s Yeah, I mean, you are the prime example. It’s the wild wild west, when it’s anything digital, you can do whatever the heck you want, however scale you want to so Gosh, that’s amazing. Now, sorry, I didn’t mean to derail you, but I’m yeah, I’m kind of curious how Elegant Themes and WordPress got involved there. Okay.
So when I graduated college, I had already taken these classes in writing, and it already honed these writing skills. And I’m going to keep that I wanted to, you know, I wanted to sharpen my writing skills. So I thought, well, I’ll start a website. So I’m going to start I’m going to create my own online school teaching ministry or something like that. So I figured, well, instead of developing the website, you know, by hand, coding it by hand, for some reason, I thought that was a good idea. I thought, Well, why don’t I just do this, this blog thing people are talking about something new at WordPress, some WordPress something.
So I started a free WordPress website, WordPress, see Randy, a brown.wordpress.com, something like that. And then I started learning WordPress from there. And then that was only for the purpose of keeping my writing skills. And so that by blogging, I was making a promise to my readers that I would produce material. So I started a ministry site. And then from there, I started doing Bible reviews, because I’m starting to need glasses. And I didn’t know that, because I’m 40. And I didn’t, and I didn’t know that. And so the Bible that I’m using is really small print and really faint print in the paper you can see through and I’m trying to find one, and I promise, it’s getting to the point.
I’m trying to find. I’m trying to find one. And then I end up finding something, but I can’t find reviews, and I’m looking for reviews of these Bibles. And the reviews are things like about it from our grandson, and he loves it. Well, I’m sure he told you that. But how does that help me know if I need this. So I ended up buying the Bible and writing the review myself. And that was a very popular article is actually the most popular article on the site. And then I started doing a couple more reviews. And then next thing you know, I decided to call the review category Bible Buying Guide. And then I’m looking at a hotspot heat map on my website, and all the articles were lacuna one click one click two clicks. Then Bible bandgaps 50 clicks. So I figured I was on to something.
So I started by buying guide calm and I needed a theme. I wanted the perfect theme for this. And so I go to Elegant Themes. Actually, for the ministry side, I had already gone to Elegant Themes and signed up so I’m signed up in 2000. See 2010 I think it was pretty great. Divi, yeah, pre Divi. And so I’m using Elegant Themes. And I had already determined at that point Elegant Themes was my company. I liked Elegant Themes, I was hooked. Since 2009 2010. I’ve been hooked on Elegant Themes. And then I’ve also been hooked on on WordPress. So once I started my business, I didn’t really have an idea of what I was going to write and who I was going to write for, they tell you to, you know, get you some clients ahead of time, like, I’m just gonna wing it. And they also tell you that it takes between six months to a year to get your first class, I got my first class, actually, it can take three minutes. If you’re really lucky. I got my first class in 29 days.
Nice. Isn’t it great when they tell you something and you prove them wrong immediately. I remember somebody one of my colleagues or one of my friends in high school, he was a total academic like college guy four year two he kind of guy which I am not. And he was like, dude, you’re starting your own business. That’s risky man. And it’s gonna take at least five years before you make any money. Well, you didn’t understand the business of Web Designs. You can make money very quickly when your overheads low.
Exactly. They wouldn’t actually. Yeah, isn’t. It’s not easy to do, but it’s doable. It really Yes, that’s the thing I like about the internet it, it’s wide open, you can create pretty much any type of business you want, is wide open. It’s just a matter of getting the the audience that’s really the key. And then so I quit my job, I started my writing business, I still use Randy brown.com. So I’m developing my business website using Divi. It took me a while to change over to Divi because once I started using all the Elegant Themes of themes, and then here comes Divi, and I’m like, I need to try this. And I load it up and it’s got all these blocks, and you got to move these blocks around. And I’m going to come back to this and try it and I loaded up my old theme again.
And then then I came back to Divi, again, I’m like, I’m just gonna do it, I’m just gonna try that look at something. It’s not too difficult. I can move this block around, I can move that block around, it’s like six months after Divi started, you know after it launched, and here I am using Divi. So then when a change over to Bible buying guide, I’m using the elegant news, I think was the name of the theme. I use that one for years. And then then here comes extra. And I had my own extra for a long time, I had been following all the articles about it all the hype about it, looking at what it can do in a new, it’s what I wanted. Because it’s for blogging, it’s a news magazine. That’s, that’s what I wanted. So I decided one day, I’m just going to try it on Bible buying guide just to see just to see what it does. And I clicked on it. And it worked perfectly. I didn’t have to change anything. It just worked. And I wasn’t used to that I was used to having to reformat everything. I was used to having all Yeah, change everything around and move everything around. Because I changed a lot of things before going from freezing to freezing before I went to elegant things.
Yeah, I already liked elegant thing. So when when I quit my job in 2014 I didn’t know who my clients were going to be didn’t know what I was going to focus on, I figured out would focus on probably copywriting. So you know, a company might say, Hey, we need some something to go with our potato chip bag. You know, as it turns out, I don’t really care for that counter writing. I’m not a copywriter, I would rather write something for 1000 words than 10 words. It’s just better for me. You know,
Particularly from your background being detail oriented engineering, manufacturing. Yeah, you’re gonna you’re gonna take 10 words and make it 100 easily. Right.
Right. Right. So I started the business and I got the site running. And then I’m reading articles on Elegant Themes blog. And this article was written by Brenda Barrett. And it was about freelancing, how to start your own freelancing business. And I’m sure you’ve heard of bring to bear and she’s prominent on there for a while. Yeah. And so I’m reading that article. And I’m like, you know, I bet this writer has more articles on their website about freelancing because she seems to write a lot about freelancing. So So I went to her website, and I’m sure enough, she has several articles. And so I’m looking through the articles and I’m reading them and then here’s a little thing, subscribe. planner, might as well subscribe.
So I’ll go to the subscribe page, and I’m reading about her newsletter. And if I’m spelling here, and then I’m like, okay, she’s a writer. She’s talking about freelancing, and she’s wanting you to notice her as a writer. And there’s a spelling error. This is right there. And it’s bugging me. And I had to say something. I’m like, Okay, do I just ignore this? I’m just getting bored. So I’m like, I can’t I can’t ignore this. So I’m not the kind of person that just just calls you and say, Hey, Josh, you got an error on your page. I can’t do that. I’ve got too, I’ve got a sandwich this into the introduction. And then here’s the body. And then here’s the ending. It’s not I’m thinking of it, I’m thinking of it, like, how I would handle this conversation. So a writer and thank her for her articles of how awesome her articles are, I really appreciate them. And the reason I’m reading them is because of, you know, I’m starting my own freelance writing business. And, you know, that’s I’m looking through art, by the way, there’s this little spelling here. And that, okay?
That, I love that because so many people like that’s a problem with me, I’m not a detail. Like, I struggle with grammar and spelling, I’m sure if you’ve, you’ve read plenty of my posts. I’m sure I probably irked you many times, but you’re always welcome to reach out to me. But yeah, a lot of people will just say, Hey, I found this error on your site, whereas that approach was like, Hey, I love what you’re doing. I really appreciate this, by the way, you know, it’s a great way to give constructive criticism.
Yeah, it really is. And then she wrote back, thanking me for pointing it out to her. And then she was telling me that she’s thinking about expanding her business by using about creating a writing team. And also, she’s wanting to have some freelance writers write on her website. And since I’m starting a business of freelance writing, would I be interested in either joining her team or writing an article or two for her site? I’m not sure why not. And so I write a write an article for she liked it, and then write a few more for her website. And she likes it. And so from there, I’m pretty much she writes about WordPress.
So from there, a WordPress writer, and then I started pitching another article idea to to a few other websites out there as a guest writer. So that way, I can build my portfolio. So I had a few on her website. And then I’m writing a few free ones out there. Just I think I only wrote maybe one Actually, no, think about it. One free website, one free article. And then from there, I built my portfolio. And then I started pitching to potential clients. And I’ve been writing about WordPress ever since. So for a while, and my first client wanted a WordPress article, and then I’ve been a WordPress router. And then from there, she introduced me to Nathan, actually, she introduced Nathan to me, oh, something like that.
That’s fascinating. So it just took that act of reaching out to her. And that’s what’s so important. Even whatever kind of reach out it is. I tell people all the time, you never know where that’s gonna lead. Like, if you send an email to somebody worst case scenario, they don’t respond, or they take offense to it. And then you move on, like, what’s the worst that can happen? Look at the doors that opened up, you know, now, the big question I have is, you’re 46. And the business is not up and running per se, like you don’t need like you said, You didn’t even quite know who your demographic or your audience was. Did you have a blanket or like a security net of finances at that point? Or did you really just, you know, just go for it with a little more risk involved? What does that look like?
I had a little bit of savings. So I had the money that I needed to live on, for enough months, okay, that I was covered. And then if I, if I couldn’t do it within those few months, then I was gonna just go get something else.
I think that’s so I think that’s great. And I think it’s so important for people who want to start a new career to realize because a lot of people I’ve found in web design, depending on what age they’re getting into it. I mean, it’s different when you’re like 19 and you don’t have any bills or expenses, you can do whatever the heck you want. But 46 you got a family you got mortgages, you got insurance, all this other stuff. That’s a gold gold gem of some wisdom is to have probably what three to six months to where you because you got to give yourself at least a few months to be able to get it going. I mean, yeah, you can make money quickly. And web design but you’re probably not going to pay a mortgage in the first month. You got to you got to give yourself a little window there.
Plus you’re not worth as much at first.
Yeah. Oh wow. Good point. Good point. I mean, I imagine for you, you had that writing background so it’s not like you just you know, you’re struggling to put words together but yeah, to your point even in your in your situation, WordPress was fairly new probably or you were getting to know WordPress as you were writing right?
Yeah, yeah. And then I had used WordPress since 2009. I started in 2014. So numbers I had been using it for a few years and and fortunately it is WordPress is not difficult to learn and even if all you know it is as a an intermediate level, well you can teach beginners.
There’s always someone.
Yes, that’s what’s one reason I created my Divi WordPress beginners course is because it is overwhelming when you try to learn everything yourself, mainly because if you search anything online, it’s just so oversaturated you’re going to find articles by you and by me on the things blog or different channels, and you’re going to find tons of stuff and it can like it almost more time to weed out stuff that you want to try to find. Whereas like, I felt like a course that shows you the most important aspects that you need to know to get going. This will get you from point A to point B. So you can start building websites, you get to know WordPress gets know Divi. And then from there, then we can take the next step, then you can learn more about the other, you know, the other the aspects and things like that. So that’s a, that’s an interesting viewpoint to that for you, for your point, like, you probably had to learn the most important stuff first, right? And then you kind of grew from there.
Yeah. Yeah. So I already had the basics down, as you know, so I could create my own site, I could, you know, install the thing. I could do some adjustments with it. I knew enough about CSS to be dangerous. And, and then
Enough to enough to wreck your site. And then
Exactly, exactly. And then I and you had installed a plugin how to install a plug in correctly, what what to look for in a plugin what what to avoid the same with things, what to avoid, how to know to avoid them, how to know a good thing when you see it. And so I had those basics down. And then from there, I started learning other other techniques. I took challenging courses, take CSS courses, including yours, which is awesome, which is awesome. Take that one that took courses from several others. I’ve actually taken quite a few courses in jQuery and CSS, nine that child theme, but
They’re so valuable, aren’t they? I just feel like I’m a sucker for online courses now, not only as a creator, but I still go through them. Like I just went through podcasting course, before I launched this, because I was like, You know what? I could, I can figure out how to do a podcast, I’m tech savvy, but the amount of time that’s gonna be involved with me figuring out on my own. And then the other aspect was like, Well, how do I launch it? How do I market it? What are some strategies from people who have already done it? That like I was happy, I’ll just say right now I invested 700 bucks in a course. And I’m, I’m it was worth every penny, because it saved me. hours and hours and hours. And I value my time, much more than that. And it sounds like that. For you to Randy, like, Did you get to a point in your career where you realize that time was the most important thing? Because that’s really how I feel?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And that’s part of my motivation, because I was going from home 12 hours a day, a lot of times. And then from there, you know, my kids are growing up. They’re growing up without me. And so I wanted to be closer to them. I wanted to be able to work around them. And so my time was more important to me. And an example of that is, you know, I’ve got, it takes me about a day to write an article sometimes, two. So if, if I’ve, if I’ve met my weekly goal, you know, a lot of people would work extra, they would work Saturday and do yet another article, but I’m more likely to just take the time off. I would rather be with my family. You know, it depends on what your goals are and Kinzer what your own motivation is? what your needs are, you know, we’re all in different places in our needs and in their lifestyles and things like that. So yeah, I would rather have my time that I can use for my own projects for I can use with my family, or something along that line.
Yeah. And it’s interesting I was I was talking with recorded an episode yesterday with Stephanie Hudson, from Sweet Tea Design and focus WP, I think that episode is going to come out after years, but she had a really good point and where we were talking about how when you do your own business, often it is going to take more time than if you worked salary somewhere. But the trade off is the freedom of how you utilize that time. And you can always make a lot more as you just mentioned, you become more valuable. So yes, sometimes I work more on certain weeks than others. And like I’m in a really busy season right now. Because second baby’s coming soon. I’m trying to get as much lined up.
Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I’m getting ready for some sleep deprivation and trying to get all these interviews recorded and bunch of projects busted out. But the cool thing is, is I still work around my family’s time I’ve never missed my dog. I’ve never missed any of my daughter’s children’s visits or anything like that. And that is just crucial to me. Like that’s, that’s what allowed yes, I do work more hours sometimes. But sometimes I work way less like I have the freedom like after this. I’ve got some stuff I can work on but maybe I’ll stop early tomorrow. I’m gonna work till probably like noon or one on a Friday. This we’re recording this on a Thursday like tomorrow. I generally keep Fridays about half days. So yeah, the freedom to be able to do your own thing with anything web design, websites development, writing. I mean, that’s that’s what’s amazing about it.
Yeah, I love that freedom. You know, something happens, I need to go to a store. I get up and go I don’t have to ask my boss if it’s okay. I just get up and go as long as I meet my deadlines. That’s that’s my goal. I have to meet my deadlines.
Yeah. Do you have weekly deadlines? Or do you have myplayer? How does it
I have daily deadlines? Okay, and by deadlines I’m referring to this article is due this day. And every day I have an article Do you and I tried to use A week ahead if I can, but that’s not always doable. And also, a lot of times it will be like, you know, I need this article this week, but it’s not specified what day that is. So, so if it’s due Friday, I might get it done Monday, I might get it done Tuesday. But if something else comes up, I can push it back as long as I’m done by Friday. So pretty much daily.
And that’s what’s cool about writing and WordPress stuff in general, any content creation, because you can do it in bulk. And you can always get it ready and schedule things out. Yes, one thing I love about, I’m learning with podcasts, like I’m doing three, three interviews this week, and then two interviews next week. And that gives me five, well, depending on how many I launch a week, one to two a week, that’ll give me a buffer to where I may not do podcasts for another couple of weeks, and then jump back into it. You know, I know writings the same way
Now you blog on your own website.
Yes, so I so my website is primarily vlogs. Now my tutorial, I don’t really consider my tutorials, blogs, per se they are but I take a different approach when I write for Elegant Themes. Because Yeah, it’s interesting. We’re both Elegant Themes, blog authors. However, I was talking with Nathan about this a couple years ago at a word camp. He was saying it’s interesting that because we were both we were all there together, he was saying that we have our own specialties.
Like you, you are the more detailed oriented stuff with product reviews, which again, stems from your background with documenting products, and you know, reviews and things like that. And I know you’re very thorough, like if a new plugin comes out, I’m more likely to check out your your thorough review, then the product site, because you’re going to talk about it honestly, like here are the pros, here are some cons IE all this kind of stuff. And in my writing is a little more like business oriented from just my experience, like client relations and stuff like that. So it’s like two specialties, which is really interesting on the Elegant Themes blog. And then yeah, when I started my Josh Hall co stuff that’s for one, I wanted to have a place to link all of my blog posts at Elegant Themes. So I have them all archived. They’re all my series. And then I also wanted to start doing tutorials. And then that’s what opened the door for doing more like videos, and then eventually courses and now the podcast and who knows what’s next, you know? So yes, yeah.
And that comes to a key point with business, you’re doing a lot of things. You’re not focused on just one thing. And then if that one thing doesn’t keep you busy today, you’re not making money because you have something else you’re working on.
Yeah, and I think it’s a it’s a healthy balance. Because I think some people spread yourself too thin to where if you give, you know, if you’re giving 20% on five different five different endeavors, those are only going to go so far. For me though, the key was to scale my web design business. So now I’m not actually designing any of the sites and doing a lot of development. I have a team that’s growing with that. So that’s what kind of freed me up to do this more. But yeah, like I I love that, because I can do a tutorial, a podcast, I can write for Elegant Themes, I haven’t written much at all the past year or so. But I want to more once time allows for it. But yeah, there’s like all these these different things that fit under one umbrella, which is really cool. And I never get bored, that’s for sure. I’m always doing something different.
Excellent. Now, for a web developer, you have so many ways that you can scale, you’re talking about scaling. As a writer, you still have lots of ways you can scale, but it’s different. For writing, and I get paid by by the project or by the word, just like you would with a web design. But once you’re done with a web design, you know, you’re, you’re paid for it, you’re done. But then you can also do maintenance, you can also do other things along with it. For me, there’s no maintenance to an article. So it’s just a matter of getting the next one. So in order to scale writing business, you have lots of different ways you can do that summit, Brenda, a minute ago how she built a writing team, well, then you can be the manager of your team. And then you can have other routers under you, where you go get them work, and then they do the work. And then you’re the editor, and you’re managing them.
So you know that that’s one way you can scale. Another way you can scale is to blog on your own website, which I love blogging, just like writing on my own website. And then from there, you can have affiliate sales. And then you can have your own products, you can develop your own courses, writing courses, you can develop, you can write books. And the books, of course can be on any topic that you either write about or what you want to teach about. And as a writer, I feel like I’m a teacher, just about more than anything. I’m a teacher and writing is the way the method that I teach. Gotcha. It’s my it’s how I deliver the teaching. How do you feel about that?
Well, I love that you said that. Well, I’ll answer that question as far as being a teacher as a writer next here, but I got to hit on those tips that you just mentioned, because those are great. I always kind of wondered with freelance Writing because yeah, you could potentially put yourself in a vulnerable situation just like web design, if you don’t have any recurring income, it’s feast or famine project a project. However, I imagine, particularly like with your relationship with Elegant Themes, as a, as a recurring writer, I imagine you could probably agree to like, a certain amount of month for three or six months, right? Like they can expect. What’s that’s one thing that Nathan told me is the problem with freelance writers who own their own businesses is you never know when they’re going to be available. Whereas if you are a writer, you could probably commit and it gives you some stable income as long as you hit your deadlines. Right. But But those are some other great points.
Yeah, I get a lot of offers for full time work from some of the big names, I don’t want to name them, but some of the big names, you know, as they would rather, hire me that way I’m exclusive. And that’s what they’re looking for. They’re looking for that exclusivity. And you know, that’s, that’s promising. That’s a, that’s a good idea for a lot of people. For me, I still have that. I’m my own boss thing. And, to me that comes first I like, I like scheduling my own time. I like determining what I’m going to write and what I’m not going to write. You know, Nathan doesn’t say, right, this, Nathan will, you know, give me options? And say, Would you like to write this? You know, and that’s the way all of my clients are? None of them say right, this and I want it done at this time. I’ve had a few that have tried that. And I’ve never written for them again.
Nice. Yeah. And that’s it’s the same problem in web design I’ve found with really big projects. And one of the problems is like, it sounds really cool. If you get like a 15 or 20 or $30,000 job, it’s like, holy crap, that’s a ton of money. Well, that comes with a lot of strings attached. A lot of times sometimes they’re like, you’re almost working part time for a company for three to six months or something, you know, I would much rather do three to $5,000 smaller, medium sized website builds for companies to your point like your your because when you hire or when you get hired, as a freelancer, you are I almost say that you’re not your own boss, because the client is essentially the boss. They’re like, okay, here’s the deliverables and deadlines. And you have to meet those.
Now. You are your own project manager. I guess you’re your own boss and your time because as long as you get the project done, yeah, but but you’re not fully in control to where I mean, that’s inevitable. Any, you know, our business in writing or web design? We’re not fully in control unless you just own your own influencer site, and you do everything but you sounds like you. It’s a partnership. Yeah. And yeah, it sounds like you’re really working on that balance of like, yeah, you know, here are the deadlines, but I want to have the freedom to do what I want when I want to make that happen.
I love not having a time clock. I love not having an alarm clock. Haha, but I have to meet that goal every day. And that’s the key. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they they’re disciplined enough to focus on the writing, you know, there’s distractions out there. I mean, you can spend all day on Facebook without even noticing, you know, I’ll go to Facebook and I need to look at what people are talking about for this certain topic, you know, what kind of problems are they having, so that I know what to focus on on this article. And then I get distracted. And I’m looking at this thing over here. And here’s somebody asked me a question. And I got five conversations going at once and, and I’m trying to get through and I’m answering them, and then I’m like, I need to get back to work. So I’m just gonna close that Facebook, and then I’m gonna go back to my article, and then realize, Oh, wait, I needed to go to Facebook.
But yeah, that’s why I was there because of this article.
Yeah, I don’t always do this. I’m trying to get better, because that’s the same problem. And everyone has that problem. But one thing I’ve tried to do is to set like time limits to say, Okay, I’m going to go to Facebook for this and this and this, I’m going to be distracted. So maybe I’ll give myself a little leeway. But yeah, 20 minutes max, like, look at the clock, once it hits noon, or whatever I’m jumping off and kind of makes you stay on target. Because Yeah, before
You know, or the manager, you have to manage yourself. And that’s the problem with being any kind of business owner. You are in control. But at the same time, you are responsible.
Did you struggle with that coming from a corporate background, too, because a lot of people tell me, I could never work at home because I’m not disciplined enough. Or they say, I don’t know how you work from home, I would just I would do health stuff all the time. Like, did you have a transition period going from the corporate world to doing your own thing at home?
Not really. I’m very focused. And just this the way it is I work I like to do the work. I like to do the job. I like to get the job done. My goal every day is to get the job done. And have it done right. have it done will you know it? So that’s that’s my approach. Even when I’m done working. I’m working. I’m doing
I was just gonna say did you have the opposite problem where you suddenly work? 24 seven, because that’s that’s the that’s the heart. I think a lot of people when they think working from home, they think oh, you sleep in till 10 Do you hop on your email for, you know, 1520 minutes, and then you get to go get lunch and you come back and you do a little bit of work. And then you just do whatever, like a lot of people don’t understand when you work from home, and you go from nine to five, and it can very easily be 24. Seven. And you really have to be careful about that. Did you did you struggle with that, then
I didn’t struggle with it. But I’m more likely to have that problem, you’re more likely to forget to eat lunch, or forget to stop at the end of the day. And, you know, just want to keep researching or keep looking at something. And you have to say, well, I’ve got to get this article done. It’s got to be done by today. So I want to get it done at this time. So I have to spend this much time researching this thing. And then if I’m not careful, I’ll spend way too much time researching that thing. And then spend too much time developing this layout just to get this one screenshot to put in the article. And
Interesting, do you limit yourself with time then for your article? Like do you give yourself because that’s you. I mean, you have to do that with all projects to where it’s like, Okay, I’ve got a certain amount of time I want to stick to, you know, if you charge two grand for a website, the more time you spend, you spend building that website, the less you’re going to make. So you kind of have that approach with writing to where you try to limit your time as much as possible.
Do the, it’s kind of built in though, if I have five articles due this week, that I have to either get one done a day, or I have to get one done in a day and a half another done in a half day. So I have an idea of how long things are going to take. And so it’s sort of just it works, it balances itself. I have to be disciplined enough to stick to that balance to stick to that structure. If not, then I won’t meet my deadlines. And my deadlines are my goal. And I’m known for meeting deadlines.
Yeah. Now I imagine because the writing, you’re doing some of the technical stuff I feel like you could do whether you’re inspired or not with creativity, but some of the other writing, what do you do? Because everyone has lols with creativity, and there’s days where you’re just like, I’ve got nothing I can’t write today, I feel the same way with stuff. Some days I’m on and some days I’m like, I’ve got nothing. Do you work from home solely? Or do you go out to coffee shops? What does that look like? How do you balance creativity and, and all that
I work solely from home, in the living room setting in my in my easy chair, with my feet propped up and a cat usually sitting in Craftsman there in the norm. So I’m typing with one hand. But as far as creativity, I write what I need to have there to tell you what you need to know, that might be boring at first. So it might not be anything that feels inspired at all. It’s just getting the information there. So when I’m approaching, say a plugin overview or review, I will load up the plugin. And I’ll just start talking about well, I know. And I don’t even always use these, but I’ll take screen captures of me installing the plugin, and going through all the steps. And here I am going through the process. And I’m working through teaching someone how to use this. And, you know, I don’t even think in my mind, whether it’s creative or anything like that. It’s just that this is what I’m doing. I know what I need to do, because I know that I need to tell you to install it.
Do you almost visualize like sitting down with somebody and like walking them through that kind of,
In a way. Yeah. Not necessarily as to a specific person, to where I would say, you know, I’ve got this, this Avatar and this person is, you know, the name to this, and they have this background, I think more of an audience rather than a single person. And in a way I do that. I do approach it in a way that this audience needs to know how to step through this process.
And that’s interesting.
For plugging out we’re gonna do and the reason I do this is because it’s a diverse background, we don’t have just one person, their audience that we’re trying to reach we’re trying to reach people who are English is not their first language, people who have no idea what Divi is and even how to spell it. People who have been in Divi longer than I have and know it inside out, can can teach me everything that you know, I don’t know. So we have such a diverse background in our audience that I tried to bring down the the highly technical information down to the level that the people at the bottom of the scale and knowledge can understand it. But at the same time the people at the top of the scale are not left out. So that’s one of one of my strengths, actually. And I’ve had a lot of people say that
Yeah, I totally agree. Yeah, that’s tricky because you got to you got to cater to everybody without leaving anyone out. But actually, that’s hard in itself, because some of the advanced people are going to get bored and then some of the people who are just starting are going to be completely lost.
So my audience is these people and these people and everybody in between. So I don’t really think of just a single person or a persona, what they would call, don’t think of it as an audience as a group. It is kind of approaching it
All so go ahead, Randy.
So when I’m approaching it, I’m looking at the elements of a Plug in as an example, what what is the meaning Show me. So if I, if I’m bored of this, or if I’m, I can’t even think about it today I got a headache. And my mind is doesn’t want to work on this, I go through the menu, in almost every plugin is going to have some sort of menu that you can go through and you can tell what’s there. So you go through and you start telling him what’s there and you start gleaning information from it. Even if I don’t know how to use this plug in, I’m figuring things out as I go. And I like to route about a plugin, if I’ve never seen it before, I like to approach it from that standpoint, because then it’s kind of a first impression.
If it’s somebody who has no idea what they’re doing, and here’s how they’re handling this. And then a lot of times, I’ll find that I said something that was wrong, as I’m going through this process, because I find, you know, say that he does this enough. And that’s not exactly what it does, I’m able to go back through and fix it and in my second draft. And so I typically do two drafts first draft, all the way through the second draft, and then that just, you know, make a little bit more robust. So that’s how I approach it. By the time I’m done with that, I’ve gotten interested in the plugin, I’ve gotten interested in this feature or that feature, and then I’ve developed a layout with it. And then it’s sparked my interest to the point that that creativity actually just flows naturally. I don’t really put a lot of thought into that.
Very interesting and to answer your question from a while back, because you think you kind of asked about teaching is writing. And the reason I asked you do you kind of envision an audience or a person is because I that’s how I do my tutorials and my courses, I like to record them like I’m in a room with a few people who I’m teaching, like, want to keep it personal. Because if you talk and it’s the same way with writing, I found like if I’m doing a course video, if I imagine I am in like a lecture hall with hundreds of people, I may come across completely differently.
I mean, I may come across in personal. And whereas if you come across, like you’re talking with one person, sometimes it can be a little too, like, like too personal one on one to where I want my tutorials and my course posts and everything to be to an audience, but I want to have that healthy balance of being personal yet not, too, you know, too intimate, like talking with one person per se. And I think it’s interesting, because it’s the same thing with writing, like when you’re doing a blog post on a plugin, you know, you’re going to be, you know, reaching potentially 1000s, maybe even hundreds of 1000s of people eventually. We just talked a few episodes ago about how many views the Elegant Themes blog is getting. It’s insane. So, you know, you gotta it’s interesting that you have to kind of write to the audience, but also in an effective way towards one person, also to a big group. Very interesting.
Yeah. And it’s not easy to do.
Yeah, would you say like, so where you’re at right now? You’re, you’re, you know, you’ve really built up, let’s see was 2014. Right, but you started the business? So over five years? And how do you feel about things right now? Are you content with where you’re at? Or do you feel like you’re, you know, I know, you like doing all kinds of stuff? Do you feel like you’re ready to take the next level and add more things to your repertoire? Or what does that look like?
I’m very content with what I’m doing. The only reason I would add anything different would be to fill in gaps for the slow times. And like you say, it’s the busy time, it is for me too. And then you know, you might have a few months where it’s a little slower than than what you would like it to be. And then you have a few months where you’re more busy than you want it to be. And, you know, it balances out in the end. But you know, you kind of want some of that more busy to be less busy, and you’re busy to be more busy.
So that’s where it’s, it’s so important when those busy times come to save and not blow the money, but I can we can get this out, you
But at the same time that makes my wheels turn if I’m left to my devices, I start coming up with ideas. And I start Well, what about this kind of business idea? What can I do here? What can I do there? I should write this book, I should create this right? And next thing you know, I’ve got 14 website started. And I don’t I don’t have time to do anything other than now because the very next week, I get four clients that were twice as many articles as they wanted two weeks ago.
Right, with the good times and slow times, I was gonna say bad times it will come slow times. Do you find that there’s a commonality between the seasons that they happen in? Or is it kind of random because I know with web design, I have found that the beginning of spring is usually a really busy time like February, March, a lot of companies seem to really get going. And then fall time as the same like September usually kicks off to be a very busy few months. Whereas holidays, a lot of businesses they’re focused on time off and family and then even at the start of the year. I think a lot of businesses are focused on their business. And then they get into doing more marketing and website design like February or so. So slow times for web design seems to be summer when everyone’s vacationing and then holidays Do you find that the same with right
No, but it’s similar. Winter is usually slower for me. Anytime that you have a big holiday, so we’re talking about Fourth of July, we’re talking about all the big holidays, anything around the big holidays is usually busy. Because a lot of websites have sales of products promote. Yeah, you know, you develop any product, you’re going to have to develop some material for it and things along that line and have it ready to go before the product launches. So I’m helping with pre launch. I’m actually helping a lot of companies with pre launch products and courses and things along that line that I’m developing articles for that that they haven’t even published yet that they’re not even going to publish until I see till they’re ready to for their course to go live. And so I get a lot of a lot of that, but as far as just the articles themselves, it’s usually slower in the winter.
Okay. Wow, that’s fascinating. I was I didn’t even think about that with the product stuff that Yeah, like you’re probably coming up to you’re really busy or you’re in your busy season. coming up soon.
Interesting. Absolutely. Now you’re Are you in Knoxville or where are you at in Tennessee?
I am in Sweetwater which is 30 miles south of Knoxville
Of Knoxville. Okay, so I’m just like, what is your your extended family and your friends think of your career path now? Do they? I said earlier, like, did they think you were crazy for creating a corporate job? are now people like jealous of you that you get to work from home and stuff?
Yeah. It actually didn’t surprise anybody. Even the people that I worked with it Denzo. And, you know, I had people calling me and congratulating me, it. It was natural. It seemed natural to all of them. And that’s what made me feel good about the idea from the start. When I when I turned him I noticed everybody was like, Well, yeah, we figured you to do something like that. We expected that, of course. And my family was like, well, we already knew you were a writer. So you know. So it was natural, a natural progression for me. It didn’t surprise anyone. And that that made me feel good. I had a, I had a lot of support from my family, especially my wife.
Okay. You know, I was wondering about that. Yeah, cuz that’s a big like to tell your wife, hey, I’m gonna quit my job and go for it.
And she was like, Okay. Yeah, she’s never worried what’s not one time. And I really appreciate that. So I’ve got a lot of support from my family because of that. And that’s another key point, when you’re starting a business, you need support, not necessarily monetarily, but you need people to not give you bad advice. You need people not to discourage you. If you feel good about your idea, you’ve gone through the process, you develop the business plan, you’ve done your research, you know, the skill set is there, you know, it’s in demand, you know, you can afford to supply what’s in demand. You feel good about it. You don’t need people discouraging you from that. And I didn’t have that I had everyone encouraging. So that was that was positive.
And people can accidentally scare you off, like I had so many people tell me, oh, that’s risky, or I can’t believe you’re doing that. And I had to really like those planted seeds of doubt in my head that I had to really quickly get over. Now I’m experienced enough to use that as motivation, or like almost pity the person who doesn’t think they can do it, because actually, they’re stuck to stability and security over freedom and opportunity.
I did have a couple of people do that. Again said, Oh, that’s risky. And no, this is I don’t know, you still have to work here for the insurance, and things like that. And so for that, you know, I go back to my, my research, I’ve already read the books already know what’s possible, I already know the positives and the negatives. The number one negative of writers is that they always they had started sooner. So I was thinking, I don’t want to be that guy that wishes I had started when I was 46. When I’m 50. I’m gonna go ahead and start at 46.
And I’m sure it might take you a couple of years, you’re 46. And it might take you two years to build this up to be a good quality business. Alright, so how old am I going to be in two years if I don’t start a business? You know, it’s just a matter of what you want to do.
Did you think did you think about the worst case scenario when you started? And were you willing to accept that like, if you knew if a few months in he just didn’t get enough work to do it? Would you? You said you probably would have just worked somewhere else for a little bit or try to you know, try something else?
Yeah, well, I was lean manufacturing, and industrial engineer teaching lean manufacturing, and going out onto the production lines. Doing time studies of the lines, reducing the waste in the process, reducing manpower and that doesn’t mean get rid of a person off out of the company. That means use them somewhere where they’re more, more valuable. Like I might walk up to a 10 man line and figure out that we have a 35 second cycle time I can reduce the cycle time down to 30 seconds. At the same time, reduce it to a non man line saving manpower saving time. So these people don’t have to work overtime now. And then we can use this person back there on another line somewhere else, and I’m making their job easier. So I had the skill set already. And because of this, I’ve already gotten lots of job offers near me, okay, you know, so I need the skill sets there, the work is there,
You are never going to end up on the streets, if it didn’t work out,
I knew that I could go get something. Now not not everyone is going to have that opportunity, not everyone’s going to be able to go from what you’re doing to, you know, something like, for example, if you’re working retail, you know, you might, you might be a good cashier. But that’s, I don’t want to be little cashiers, but at the same time, that’s not a high skill set. Yeah, you can be trained to be a cashier within within a few days or a few weeks, depending on what it is. So I’m talking about a skill set that took years to develop. Yeah, you know, so if you have something that just takes a few days to develop, you’re not going to go from job to job that easy, unless it’s in demand.
And so it’s it’s one of those things where it’s just, it’s about the value you offer to the marketplace in general, like I said, Yeah, same thing, nothing against fast food employees. But if that’s your career choice and your goal, you just have to accept that you’re valuable as a person. But in the marketplace, if you’re doing something that can be trained in a day or two, or to your point, like a couple weeks, you’re not gonna make as much as somebody who’s do who spent years and years perfecting something, it’s just it’s honestly just not fair.
You know, that’s, that’s one of the biggest things like when people sometimes people kill me when they’re starting out, and they want to make a such a high end figure or whatever, like, Well, yeah, you can get there. And that’s what like courses are for. And that’s what mentors and influence like, that’s why I’m doing this is I want to help web designers get there a lot quicker than I did. And but the thing is like, yeah, you’re not going to start out making bacon. I think all these get rich quick schemes and of the advertising that tell people or maybe, maybe come across like, you can get rich quick. Yeah, it ain’t gonna happen.
And if it does happen, you’re probably gonna blow all your money because you haven’t built that muscle that you need to do things sustainably and to be able to handle success, you know, in successes. Like I think you said earlier, it’s not just monetary, there’s a lot of other things in there. I’m all about having a freedom and lifestyle you love and enjoy. So those are really important points to think about for people who are you know, starting like that. Now, when you started? Was your Does your wife work as well? Did you have any other kind of supplemental income that helped during that period? New? Wow. Yeah. So you just had some savings and went for it?
Yeah, just went for it. Yeah. Wow, that’s another thing you talked about the steps, you know, there, I don’t believe in get rich quick. I believe in work, I believe in working hard for it. Because you know that, of course, one person might do it, but that one person then turns around and teaches 1000 people their process, and that’s sustaining them. But they want to skip steps two through 11, they want to go from step one to 12, you can’t do that, you have to develop the steps. That’s the problem, then, like you’re talking about, they don’t have that muscle develop, you have to develop the steps, every single step in the process, every single milestone in the project has to be developed. And without that development, even if you get to step 12. If you don’t have steps, two through 11 developed, you’re not going to be sustainable. Because you don’t have the skill set, you don’t have the mindset, it’s just not gonna work. And it’s that you said that
there’s some gratification that gets lost in there to get instant success. There is like, there’s a there’s a sense of fulfillment that just isn’t there, you know, like that. I’m at the point where I’ve learned so much and I’ve gone through so much crap as a business owner. Part, a lot of that is due to my own fault. So you know, but and that’s just it’s business, it’s lessons learned the hard way. And and that’s, you know, that’s what I try to help people avoid. I tell them, you’re good luck. Not everything’s gonna be perfect. You’re gonna have bumps, bumps in the road. But you can avoid a lot of these really devastating things that made my hairline go back a little bit. You know, you can avoid a lot of that stuff. Yeah, that’s, that’s an engineering head right there.
I have a gray hair right there.
But I say that to say like the Yeah, to your point, those middle steps are so crucial. And I’ve really found that it’s all about enjoying the process, like yes, you may not be making what you want to make yet. And you may not be where you want to be career wise in the end, but where are you like, are you on a good trajectory? Are you making positive steps every day, it doesn’t have to be something monumental. But if you’re making a little step every day in the right direction, a couple years down the road, who knows where you’re going to be, you know, as long as you’re supporting whatever your needs are at that time.
Cuz for me, like when I started my web design business, I did not need to make as much as I need to make now now I’ve got a life, soon to be two kids and a golden retriever and a mortgage and two cars. You know, like, there’s a lot more responsibility on me now than there was when I started. But it was that same thing. It was like I’m making enough to make my car payment or whatever, at that time, and then it just kind of, you know, built from there. And now, every success I have, I feel like there’s a confidence in my like, in my soul now, because I’m like, I earned this, like, I worked my freakin butt off to get exactly. And nobody can make me feel any different. And there’s a lot of power to that. So I didn’t mean to derail us, but is that kind of how you feel as well?
Exactly. And it’s a mindset. If it takes 200 steps to get from here to there, you can think of it, you take one step, you can think I’ve only taken one step, or you can think I’ve taken one step, and I only have 199 to go, you know, it’s a mindset. And also you’re talking about education, you know, courses and books, I find a lot of people try to derail the process and find the easy information, they don’t want to study, they don’t want to research those want to open your head and pour it in.
But also they want to find the free information. There’s a lot of free information out there, there really is. But if you find a book or a course that gets you where you need to go, buy it, pay the money for it, is it worth it, it is worth investing in yourself. I looked at it, when I first started, I was like, Well, I can search the internet for all these articles and figure this out, or I can buy this $12 book, I bought the $12 book, it gives you what you need to know it’s a process, it shows you the process. The steps,
I’ve had so many students that have said, I wish I would have taken this course years ago, because some of my some of my courses are they’re not I wouldn’t say higher end because high end courses are going to be a grand two grand or three grand, my courses right now my most expensive one is my business course of 500. But my other courses that are even the mid range that are two to 300. That is a drop of an investment compared to the amount of time you would spend learning that all on your own. And I don’t say that just as a course creator trying to sell courses, I’m telling you, you and it’s it’s one of those things where I think most people starting out, they’re going to hear that, but they’re probably not going to believe that until about two to three years after, when you realize we talked about it before. What’s the most valuable resource in business time, you cannot get time back, that’s whatever is gonna save you time to get from point A to point B. That’s what’s worth investing in. And whenever, you know, can make you more money to build those muscles and to help you train in those middle steps. That’s Yeah, totally.
And, and if you’re serious about your business, it will not take you long to make that money back.
And yeah, itself. You mentioned free resources, you and I both contribute to so many free resources.
Yes. Yes we do.
The problem with free resources is from the person who’s reading it, what I found is that free resources, while they’re really great, and they can make a big impact, and they can open the door, like the most. The only reason I sell courses now is because I’ve given so much for free. However, the people who don’t invest in their business and don’t invest in trainings or workshops or courses, and they just stick to free stuff. Those are the ones who tend to spiral and just stay in the same spot. Because while Yes, free information can be very valuable, there is something about something free, that just there’s there’s not enough stock held in that or value from the consumer. Whereas if you pay for something, you’re going to get a lot more out of it. Right?
Have you felt that to like, absolutely, a lot of people will read a blog, and it may help. But it’s may not be life changing, or they may just since it’s free, they don’t value it as much. Whereas even if it’s an inexpensive training or something or webinar, it’ll make you value at so much more, and it will make you apply it because it’s like, you know what, I spent 100 bucks on this thing, you’re just gonna be worth my time, I’m gonna apply it Right?
Right, you’re going to spend your time in it, you’re going to invest in it, you’ve invested money, now you’re going to invest time. If it’s just given, if it’s just there, you’re you’re, you know, you can skim through the look at it, you know, I look through this and I skim through it. Now, I got a thing or two and I’m going to move on to something else. And another problem with free content. We need free content because free content informs us It informs us about processes and informs us how to do this one thing and informs us how to use this one plugin and informs us which plugin to choose for this one thing, but they are all not a whole process but a standalone portion of Yes.
And no course. Yeah, because of course takes you from like beginner to expert or a to b and yes, I agree And I’m very cognizant because I was in this position not that long ago, when you’re just starting out, you really don’t have any money. So you may not have even hundreds of dollars. Like, I recognize that a course that’s 300 bucks for one of my students, that’s probably a very big investment, because most of my students are not high earning at a higher earning place yet. So I and that’s one reason like I go above and beyond in my courses, I understand that investment even for me to purchase a course it’s an investment, that’s, I could be paying my car payment, but this is going to a course instead of that.
So that’s really important. But yeah, to your point, like the the free content has, like I found that free content and premium or paid content, they both have different uses free content is to get you in the door, get that basic knowledge get you going get inspired, but the paid content is what’s really gonna pay off. And really, to your point, like it takes you in a journey. It’s it’s almost like watching, I guess I would equate it to watching an episode of a series versus watching the full series. Like if you watch an episode, you don’t really know the characters, you’re not as invested, it didn’t really make a big impact. Whereas you watch a full series of a show. By the end, it’s it made a big impact on your life, you know, and that’s, I never thought about that. But that’s how I would view that.
Fortunately for me, we need both types of content.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so and it well, and luckily, I mean, the free content that you provide, you’re getting paid for at least as, as a blogger exact, my free content is actually extremely costly.
Because it is an investment in
Yes, mine is an investment. Yeah, I do free content knowing that, okay, if it takes me five hours to do it tutorial, if I value myself at 150, or to 200 by let’s say, 200. That’s a grand this court, this tutorial, this amount of time I took away from my business is worth $1,000. So I’m hoping that this will either make a big enough impact that somebody will it will resonate with them, and then it’ll lead to the next step or it’ll pay off eventually.
It can be a lead magnet, it can be building credibility. Building your audience, and it’s all good. All it is good.
Yeah. Wow, Randy. Well, this has been great man, we’ve covered we could talk eight hours about this stuff slightly. I know. I’m getting hungry for lunch. And I know you are in a very busy season right now. So I don’t want to
Got an article to do.
Okay, I don’t want to, I want to we’re midday now. So I don’t want to take too much of your time. But we talked about a lot of great stuff, your story going from Yes. Engineered or freelance blogger at 46. With no security net, just some savings. That’s amazing. You talked about some really poignant things with how to write knowing your audience and then you talk, I think, the lesson of just getting out like, you know, who knows where a message is gonna go? And yeah, you just sending that message to Brenda opened up the door to Elegant Themes. I think that’s amazing, covered so many good things with just the process of writing and just some business fundamentals in general. With all that said, Do you have like a parting thought for anybody, particularly those who maybe are either contemplating a career change, or want to be a writer.
If you’re contemplating a career change, and especially if you want to be a writer, research, research is key. Know your skills, know what you can write about, and see if what you can write about is in demand, you never know. We need all types of content. We need books, we need videos, videos have to have scripts written. We need potato chip bag instructions. We need all types of content. And there’s there’s more than one type of writer, copywriter, technical writer, creative writer, see what works for you and see what’s available, see what’s in demand, and see what you can offer.
But do your research. Like for me if I’m if I’m looking at a plugin or theme or something like that, don’t just copy what other people have have written. Look at what other people have written in whatever field it is, look at what they’ve written, see what they’ve done, see how they’ve approached it. But do your own research. If they say this plugin has this, this feature, load the plug in yourself and see if it still has that feature. Or see if it ever had that feature. It might have been a feature that was promised to that router was never done or might have been a feature that they misunderstood. Know your content, know your topic.
And step through don’t don’t try to skip the steps. Go from step one to step 12 don’t skip two through 11 nine but make the move don’t don’t analyze it forever and never make the move make a move.
Yeah action is so important. You can plan all you want but a really great plan is is crap if it’s not applied, right
Make a smart move.
What’s what’s Was it an Eisenhower quote that said a good plan executed well as much better than a perfect plan not executed at all something.
Exactly. And do that.
Yeah. Dude, that’s great. Man, that’s awesome. I’m really excited for you. I love hearing about your success and who you know, you’re, I’m glad to hear that you’re content and you’re not burnt out. Yeah, a lot of content creators get burned out, but it sounds like your path. And that’s another thing like, had you not gone through your previous career, your writing career would look much different. Maybe you would have flamed out by working too much or not managing that and I’m going to get you I’m going to get you involved with creating courses because I think being that you’re so documentation oriented, and you know, detailed. That’s just a born course grader. I think you could lay out an amazing writing course and I’ll be the first one to take it.
So I appreciate that.
Hopefully, that’ll be the next step. Then I’ll give me a CI on doing that.
Congratulations on the blog. It’s awesome.
Thanks a lot.
A lot of amazing people on here.
Yeah, yeah, gosh the podcast has been super cool. One of my favorite aspects of it, too, is just the learning of it. Because I learned from every episode, I’m fired up after this, I’m going to apply so many you know so much this to my business and, and yeah, I talked about free content and time consuming stuff. It’s, there’s a lot to it, but like, I know it’s gonna, it’s gonna pay off in a numerous different number of different ways, hopefully, financially, with core sales, but also just, I’m becoming more valuable as a person in business and just in life, hearing other people’s stories and learning so awesome, Randy. Good pocket. Yeah, thanks for your time, man. I’m sure we’ll chat soon.