182 podcast episodes 🎙️

In today’s episode, we bring back Joe’s chat with the Founder and Director of Design TLC, Tara Claeys. As a seasoned website designer and developer with a marketing background going back over 25 years, she provides custom website and graphic design services, with a focus on creating effective, customized, user-friendly communication platforms for small schools, camps, and nonprofits.  

Tara talks about the steady growth of her company, how she isn’t aiming for a 7-figure business anytime soon, keeping a happy outlook while working in several different projects, and choosing how to present yourself in social media.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 00:19 Welcome to the pod, Tara!
  • 06:17 Joining PressNomics and other events
  • 11:37 Rebuffing the Design TLC website
  • 17:00 Bringing happiness in what you do
  • 22:19 You don’t have to have a 7 figure business to be successful
  • 27:19 Be physically responsible with managing your business funds
  • 33:51 You only see people’s best moments on social media
  • 37:05 People in the WordPress community are generally open
  • 37:39 Find Tara online

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

[00:00:00] Joe Howard: Hey, good people. Welcome back to the WP MRR WordPress podcast. I’m Joe and I’m Elphaba. And you’re listening to the WordPress business podcast. We had someone pick a character who I didn’t know about. So you, uh, you stumped the Schwab on this one. Alphabet. Welcome to the podcast. Tell us a little bit about.

[00:00:21] Tara Claeys: Thank you very much. Well, it was a choice between my science fiction self, which is not as prominent and my Broadway self, which is my thing. So, um, alphabet is actually a character in the Broadway musical wicked, which I’ve seen an embarrassingly large number of times. Uh, and so she is what you might think of as the wicked witch from the wizard of Oz.

And they, the musical tells the story of her backstory. And so you actually sympathize with her and you don’t think she’s as evil as she is. And she sings really well. She’s very cool. Yeah. So that’s me.

[00:01:01] Joe Howard: Yeah. Very cool. You had two good character selection. Say you had Elphaba and you also had a Starbucks from Battlestar Galactica who I probably would’ve gotten a little better, but this is great.

I got to learn a new character today. So, um, awesome Elphaba. Welcome to the podcast. Also known as Tara clays. One of my favorite WordPress people of all time. This is so fun. I’m glad we finally got the chance to connect here. So I know. Uh, the WordPress stuff you do, but why don’t you tell listeners a little bit more about what you do with WordPress?

[00:01:30] Tara Claeys: Yeah, so we met because we both have. Attend the WordPress DC meetup. And so I am now one of the organizers of that meetup and, um, oh, you are, I didn’t know. You were officially as of now. Yeah. I’m actually an organizer. I’ve been officially an organizer of the spinoff in DC. So we’re kind of all one team and yeah, so I love the, I love the WordPress community.

In general and the DC community is really strong too. So it’s great to be a part of that organizing team. So I do that. I have an agency called design TLC that is here in Arlington, Virginia, and we specialize in websites for small schools, camps, enrichment programs, and nonprofits, especially nonprofits that are education, have some kind of education related mission.

And that’s a fairly new thing to actually be out there out and proud about that specialization up until the past year or so. I pretty much would take any small business, small organization website that came my way and really enjoyed that. And I also have a strategic partnership with a friend and colleague called nice work where we do some larger jobs.

She’s a designer. So I’ve worked with WordPress for about 10 years and that’s. My work life. My home life is I have two grown children who. Flown from home and don’t live near me. So I have a lot of time to work and think about what I want out of this phase of my life, which is what I’m embarking on. So, yeah.

[00:03:00] Joe Howard: Yeah. So quite, I feel like a lot of the time we’re when we’re talking like, oh, what are you up to? And you’re, you know, you’re talking a little bit travel you’re doing. And a lot of time you’re traveling to go see your, see your kids, or maybe they’re coming to see you or you’re meeting somewhere. So it’s, it’s nice. Traveling go see them pretty frequently.

[00:03:15] Tara Claeys: It is. It’s a great thing about working for yourself and doing the kind of work we do is that you can do it from anywhere. You don’t have to be in an office and, and you can work from just about any place you want to a car beach and airport.

[00:03:30] Joe Howard: Yeah, it was, I was at a wedding a few weeks ago and someone was talking about how like, oh, my husband was driving and I was on my laptop in the, in the passenger seat, riding shotgun, like getting a little work done.

I was like, I actually, as a remote person, I don’t know if I’ve ever worked in a car like that before, but Hey, you know, if you need to get a little extra work done, it’s a good, it’s a good time.

[00:03:50] Tara Claeys: That’s true. Yeah. I should mention, I also have a podcast on which you yes, of course. We have to talk about that and just tell people a little about the pod.

Yeah. It’s called hallway chats and we are into our second year or third year. We just started our third year actually. Are we in our third year? Yeah, we, I co-host it with Liam Dempsey and we just have casual chitchat story. Sharing from people we meet or who want to meet us, who use WordPress. So just people who fly under the radar, maybe people who are not on a lot of podcasts, but who just would like to share their story.

So we’ve been doing that for awhile and we really love meeting people. Um, and a lot of the people that we’ve had on the show in the beginning now are on a lot of podcasts. So sometimes in some ways we, we get people on. Maybe comfortable on podcasts or as they’re just starting to grow.

[00:04:43] Joe Howard: Yeah. One of my favorite WordPress podcasts actually, uh, it’s, you know, uh, this podcast I’ll be the first to admit, you know, I’m, I’m pretty frequently looking for people who, uh, you know, a lot of people may already know in the WordPress space, uh, and you know, it helps us to grow our WordPress podcast a little bit.

And, you know, I like enjoy talking to these people a lot. It gives me an opportunity to open the door and say, Hey, come to the podcast. It kind of gives me an excuse. Get to some FaceTime with them and talk to them. So that’s great for me, but the reason I love your podcast is because I get to meet so many people who have like, maybe never been on a podcast before, but who are still incredibly impressive people, or maybe they’re just like starting their journey towards being impressive.

And there’s so much. There’s so much knowledge that I gained from those people as well. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been in WordPress for a long time, and it’s hard to know what it’s like to be a beginner, or it’s hard to know what it’s like to be at the real beginning of the journey since WP buffs dis you know, we just did our forehead, our four year Buffalo versary.

Last a couple months ago. So I gained a lot of value from the podcast. So, uh, yeah, people are listening, uh, hallway chats. Is it hallway chats.com.

[00:05:48] Tara Claeys: It is. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, we enjoy it.

[00:05:51] Joe Howard: Yeah. Awesome. And last time we met. Person a in real life, it was PressNomics this year. I think we get, like, usually we have, like, I don’t know, we’ll see each other, the DC meetup, like a few times a year.

And then, uh, your Arlington meetup as well, maybe once or twice, but, uh, at like more efficient. Whatever automatic sponsored events, or I guess Pressonomics is not that, but, uh, official WordPress events. Uh, the last one was PressNomics we got to see each other at, so how how’d you like that? I, I had a blast, but, uh, what’d you think I liked it.

I mean, I’ve heard about it from so many people and I’ve heard that it’s more business focused and because it’s. Part of automatic or official word press that it’s different. And I didn’t really know what that meant. I will say, I think as a small agency owner, who’s not looking necessarily to, you know, grow my business and sell it a merger and acquisition talk.

You know, there were some talks there that definitely were not relevant to me, but then there were some WordPress. Talks that I, that were open eye opening. So I think that it was a good combination and it was a great group of people and the struggles who put it on are very generous to do it. And, uh, yeah, so I, I enjoyed, I stayed at an Airbnb with a whole group of women and we had a great time hanging out and getting to know each other and went on some hikes.

The house was on a, like a bike path jogging path on a river bed. So it was really cool to go out and run along there too. So yeah, it was beautiful. I love Tucson. Yeah. It was really beautiful out there. I always, uh, every time I go out kind of like towards the west coast, especially in that like Southwest area where there’s like red rocks and cactuses, I’m always like, oh my God, this is so amazing.

The mountains are so beautiful. We don’t really get that here in DC, unfortunately. So we have to go out there to get it, but, uh, yeah. Cool. I enjoyed it as well. It’s one of those events where. A lot of times I go to word camps, like talk with the other, like people who do WordPress business stuff. So this is a good excuse to like, it was like that niche just in its own conference. So I, for sure.

[00:07:54] Tara Claeys: Yeah. And all the talks are, did you?

[00:07:56] Joe Howard: I went to a few talks, um, but I was like, I’m always a big hallway track sort of guy in the whole conference is kind of a hallway track. So I was, you know, hanging out and talk with people. But, uh, I did catch a few. I liked actually really liked the talk.

The guy’s name, but he is a founder of SpyFu, which is like SEO competitor software. And it was talking about why you should stay bootstrapped instead of, you know, looking towards VC money. And it was, it was pretty well delivered talk. And I, I believe in a lot of those points that he was.

[00:08:24] Tara Claeys: Yeah, that was a good talk. I appreciated the points that he made as well.

[00:08:27] Joe Howard: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. If, uh, hopefully he’s not listening to, for the guy whose name I forgot, but, uh, yeah. SpyFu, if you look up SpyFu founder, you’ll find him. Uh, but yeah. And after PressNomics you went to another, you’ve been doing it just a little bit of jet setting here in the last few weeks.

You were at a second conference for who is, that was thrown by a mutual friend of ours to tell us a little bit about that.

[00:08:49] Tara Claeys: Um, signed up a long time ago for Jennifer borns content camp. And I have been looking forward to it. The content is something that I think any agency person has trouble getting content from their client.

And I always say, I’m not a writer, even though I know how to write, you know, I try to be a Jack of all trades probably too much, but, but the idea of having, um, a workshop, which is what that was, where you actually. Produce some stuff you produce a schedule or a marketing message. And that type of thing was really compelling.

And she, boy, she puts on a great event with this binder that we got with the worksheet stuff. And it was over 600 pages, I think. I mean, it’s just huge or yeah, a couple of hundred anyway, it’s big. And um, she had some amazing. Um, presenters and speakers there. So it was, I found it to be really, really valuable.

And, you know, we went out for dinner with groups of people and lunch was provided. It was healthy. It was a great event. And I would definitely recommend it. I don’t know if it’s something that you would want that you would necessarily need to repeat and like, cause I think it’s, you know, you, you absorb a lot, it was overwhelming the amount.

Content in content camp. It was a lot to absorb. It was a long day. Uh, and I had trouble deciding if I was there to work on my own business or to think about my client’s business or a combination of the two, or which client, you know, which current client would, you know, would benefit the most from doing some of this.

Exercises that they had us go through Chris lemma spoke there about storytelling. And that was really great. It really helped me, you know, when the week that I came back, I worked on finalizing my own website relaunch that had been in process for a few months. And so I think hearing what they had to say and thinking about that, how that applied to my own message was really helpful. So, yeah, so I was able to launch that.

[00:10:49] Joe Howard: So cool. That’s a perfect transition to talk a little bit about the work you do, uh, over at design TLC, uh, TLC tender, loving care design, tlc.com. I noticed, I saw that the new website had launched and we were just talking about this before we started recording. Like, I can’t remember if like maybe you emailed me and maybe I saw it on Twitter or something.

You said like, I put it out everywhere, which is for sure the thing to do. Um, but I went to the site and I was like, not that the. Wasn’t good, but this one is very well done. And it’s also like the, I was very impressed by the copywriting. I thought the copywriting was very on point, so.

[00:11:23] Tara Claeys: Oh, wow. Thanks. So it worked. Thank you.

[00:11:25] Joe Howard: There you go. Shout out to Jennifer, Jennifer. Bourn who’s done a webinar with us, uh, and, uh, been on the she’s been on the podcast. I can’t remember, but she’s done a nice webinar for about 50 bucks, so it was excellent. So, uh, we’re a good friends of hers too, but yeah. Tell us a little bit about the relaunch of the site and kind of, uh, how that came to.

[00:11:42] Tara Claeys: Well, um, it’s something I’ve thought about for a while. I’m friends with Sarah Dunn and have followed her amazing, amazingly transparent process that she’s gone through in specializing. And I remember she started that right around the same time that I got to know her. And she was doing these videos where she.

Just talked about how she was making a decision to specialize, but she didn’t know what she was going to specialize in yet. And she was kind of trying out different things or thinking about it. And I was very skeptical, honestly, because it seemed to me that when I thought about specializing, it was like specializing in a dentist website.

Vertical or a chiropractor or a lawyer, you know, um, some of the categories of clients who I’ve worked with and I just was not excited about it and always thought that what I loved about the way that I worked generally was that I had a wide ride. Of projects. And so I kind of was very, just, I wasn’t into the idea of specializing and I watched her kind of evolve until she sort of, uh, organically discovered that what she wanted to do was wedding SEO, which is really specific, right.

It’s not even. Wedding websites, it’s SEO for wedding planners and photographers. And, and so seeing how she jumped into that and she built a separate site for it, and really started going after that market, I started to think, Hmm. Maybe there is something about that. It’s an, so I give her all the credit for it.

I think that for me, I did not plan to choose a specialty. When I looked at the projects that I was doing most recently and had a, more of an abundance in my portfolio, uh, the clients that I love to work with. I realized that they all had a really common thread and they all were related to this idea of childhood enrichment and, and schools and content that focused on pictures of children and talking about programs that help children grow.

So having raised children and gone through that process of choosing programs for my own children, I could relate to it as a user and just really. Loved it and also loved the sort of the non-profit end of it as well. So I kind of thought to myself, this is what I love. This is what I should do. And it really was, it was just like a light bulb.

It wasn’t even, I wasn’t trying to specialize at all. Uh, I just, it just was like, I woke up one day and realized, wow, I should really do that. So I started to. Think about it. I started to talk about it a little bit with some people, uh, I started thinking about doing some outbound marketing, meaning I looked at, I looked for schools in my area and, you know, camps and programs and things and, and made some email templates and emailed a few of them.

Not that many because I’m not, I’ve never really done that before. Most of my business, all of it really has come word of mouth. So I, um, I did get one client from that outreach and then went back to some of my existing clients that had older sites that I had built and, and started doing some refreshes for them.

And, and then I just kind of decided if I’m going to do this, I should just do it. I should just. The all in. And I think there was a, some reaction of, wow. Are you really gonna say that so boldly on your homepage or are you just going to make a landing page for that? And I thought about it and I kind of just decided that this is what I wanted to be.

This is, this is who I want to serve. What I want to focus on. And it doesn’t mean that I won’t ever take another kind of client. It’s broad enough that I think it can, you know, it can touch on some other things, but I’m so excited about it. I really like it. It’s liberating to be in an environment where you’re giving that elevator pitch.

And you can say, this is what I do. And I specialize in it because I love it. I’m passionate about it and I’m good at it. And then to also continue to be better at it. So you’re focusing on that one thing, trying to get to know the niche and reaching out to two authority organizations, you know, associations of small schools.

There’s, you know, there are some bloggers and some marketers who. Who serve this audience that I’m reaching out to, to see how I can sort of just get, I’m not looking to be a big company. There are big companies that build school websites for big schools. I’m not looking for that. I just, this is just the kind of business that I want to have.

[00:16:25] Joe Howard: So, yeah. So cool. I love the story of kind of falling into your passion after pursuing like kind of more general agency. Work, because I think that a lot of times I’m living not a lot of times, but sometimes the advice of like purely following your passion can be. A little bit detrimental because you don’t know exactly how well, like financially your passion is going to pay off.

And there’s that thought process you have to go through, like, is this something I can afford to raise a family with, you know, live in the DC area with like, that’s obviously a consideration, but you kind of went about it. You know, you’ve been doing general WordPress stuff for a little while. And you found that there was a niche that you.

Survive and not just survive but thrive. And sometimes you have to start a little bigger and kind of see what’s working and then take a step back and kind of analyze and say like, oh, I can do what I like more, what I’m passionate about. Cause I have, you know, two-thirds of the websites that come to me are school website. So I can, I can focus more on that.

[00:17:22] Tara Claeys: Right? Yeah. I mean, I think thriving is you can define what that means. It’s not necessarily for me all about the pocket book, certainly that is important, but it’s. It’s really more about feeling happy, which is like the big word on my website is happy. And people come to me unhappy because their websites are old and, and they’re not updated.

I don’t, I’m not building websites that are mission critical e-commerce sites. They’re they need to communicate well and be easy to use and reflect, uh, reflect the personality of who they are. So I think it’s, you know, That is the most important thing is being happy and proud of what I’m doing. Agreed.

Yeah. And it’s new. It may, it may not work. I mean, it may, I may have a big lull, uh, you know, it’s possible that I could talk to you in six months and have no clients at all. Like, I’d be surprised about that. Yeah, it’s quite possible. That could happen. Yeah. There’s always that leap of faith you can have to make.

When you re, when you, when you rebrand yourself or you present yourself differently, is this really going to resonate with people? It’s all a test, it’s an experiment. So I think this will do pretty well, but yeah, who knows? Uh, the. Push into focusing more in this niche. Uh, I guess I’m also thinking about some of your previous clients we’ve talked, uh, in the past and you have a pretty good number of clients.

I think who you’ve worked with for a long time. Are you planning to continue to work with clients who for a long time who aren’t, uh, schools or are you kind of planning to maybe pass them off to a friend or a colleague, someone you trust? Yeah, no, I’ll continue to serve the clients that I have on the most active.

Of which for the most part to fit into this category, a couple of them don’t and they are near and dear to my heart as well, even if they’re not in the category. So there, it’s not an exclusive thing. It’s just, it’s a guiding force going forward. So yeah, no, I’m not turning any clients away. Certainly if they chose to go somewhere else that that might’ve happened no matter what, but, but so far it seems to be a good fit for them too, just because they know me in their house. How do I service their business?

[00:19:34] Joe Howard: Yeah. Nice. Um, so design TLC also kind of like the fact that you’re putting on the front of your website. Like, do you want to be happy with your website? You’re not happy with your website, like be happy. Like you’re obviously someone who like pursuit of happiness and wanting to do a job and work a job that makes you happy is really important.

So in a way you’re also trying your, it looks like you’re trying to, and hopefully do attract people who feel the same way and that. To me is like the biggest determined, the biggest determination of if your job’s going to be happy. If you get to work with other people who like have that same kind of definition and think the same as you do.

So if you can attract those people and work with them and build them websites, like your life’s going to be super happy. So that’s cool.

[00:20:17] Tara Claeys: Hopefully. Yeah. I mean, yeah, I think that’s, that’s what we all want is happiness and comfort. So yeah, I just, I, I think that I, so I had a marketing and advertising background.

Before I had kids. And then when I started my family, I stayed home and I started a little cottage industry type of thing, doing illustration of little pictures of kids. And so I think I’ve always been in this kind of focus. This is just a part of my personality. And so it’s really nice to realize that at this point in my life and be able to apply it to what I’m choosing to do with my career.

[00:20:56] Joe Howard: Yeah, I totally hear that. I want to touch on this little point, not even a little point, but this a point you made about not being super into like this area of like wanting to like grow super fast or. Be acquired someday. Um, I think a lot of people have this idea, like when you start a business, when you start a company, that should be your goal.

And of course, that’s your goal? Like, why wouldn’t it be? And, you know, I think in my own pursuit of growing a business, I for sure had some of that thinking when I’m growing the business, like I, like I do want to grow a business and I want to have, you know, a lot of employees and I wanted, I like that’s my pursuit.

And everyone pursuits is a little different, but I want to be really. Like, I, I want to hear a little bit more about what you have to say about not wanting to do that, because I think that’s equally as valid as, as someone who wants to do that. I don’t think that one is better than the other more important.

Uh, I, eh, there are a lot of people, especially like I’ve been hearing so much about people wanting to, instead of growing, like stay small, uh, and have more of a compact team. Uh, and honestly, in a lot of situations, a lot of people I know who run smaller businesses. Financially better off than people who run like bloated bigger businesses, like better profit margins, like less stress.

And so, uh, talk a little bit more about like, why that’s your mentality about that? Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I think that that’s another realization that I’ve come to in the last year or so. Uh, I’m 51 years old and my kids are grown and I, you know, I had a career. In the corporate world. And I had a little tiny business and I’ve grown my business and I have friends who have grown businesses and have staff of, you know, 12 people and an office space.

They rent. And that’s not something that interests me at this point in my life because I am averse to the risk. First of all, and the stress. Having to hire and fire people. Um, more than I do have a couple of people that work for me. And they’re awesome. And I’ve been really fortunate with that. Uh, part-time help, but I’m, I don’t want to be responsible for somebody who’s full lively.

I, and I don’t want to have to make rent and I like working from home. And those are things that I have felt for a long time, but have not been super proud to say, because it’s not the thing, right. When you’re in this, in the, in these conferences or you’re with some of these amazing people that are, that have grown or are growing or planning to grow, and they’re young.

It can, you can feel a little self-conscious about that owning it is a great thing when you finally decide to own it. And so that book, the company of one really validated for me, what I had believed all along, which is that this is enough right there. This is enough. I don’t have to have, you know, I don’t have to have a seven figure business in order to be successful and to be happy, I can.

Do the best I can with what I have. And I can only take on so much. I don’t want to be stressed out. I, I stress myself out enough as it is. Um, but you know, three projects at a time for one person is, is enough. And so whatever that means financially, that means I’m not going to grow much more than that because I can’t, there’s not a bandwidth to do more so.

And you know, your podcast is about monthly recurring revenue and that’s, uh, that’s a part of it too. You know, if you do a dozen projects a year as a one or two person agency, and they’re all on recurring with you, then every year you’re adding another dozen in. So your, your recurring revenue hopefully will increase.

And if you bring on new projects, that’s your non-recurring revenue. And looking for ways to better serve those clients, both because I want to be able to offer them more, also brings on the opportunity to have more recurring revenue. So when we first started, you know, we just built websites and we started maintaining them and then we started offering SEO and then we started, you know, so more and more now I have a photographer who is working with me.

So offering more services. May not all be related to monthly recurring revenue, but it’s just broadening the service selection that we have for our clients. So getting into what you talk about here, I think that there’s a great opportunity for a small company to get recurring revenue. That’s more passive without having to bring on lots of.

I’m saying this to somebody who’s, who’s bringing lots of stuff and growing, but you’re also a lot younger than me. So if I were your age, I might have a completely different take on things. Yeah, that’s true. I know we all have a different definition of, of success and. That’s, it’s not just important that that’s the fact it’s important that we all need to define what success looks like for ourselves and actually actively do that because you could grow a company like WP buffs to what, you know, whatever size we are now.

And like, you know, we’re doing it. Well and all that, but you could be miserable doing what I do because that wasn’t your goal to grow a company like that in the first place. And you were much, much happier as a single freelancer doing work, uh, you know, on your own and being able to do everything in your business.

Um, but Sam, the other way, like someone like me. No, it was that like, when I was freelancing, like I wasn’t super happy because I just like that. Wasn’t my, my definition of success right there. But you know, flash forward 10 years, I may have a different definition of success. So continuing to know the self discovery is the hardest part of this whole thing.

It’s like, who am I? And what do I really want? And who am I? It sounds a little like fuzzy, but like really that’s the toughest. One of the toughest pieces for me is like really, really figuring out like, what direction do I want to go in so that I can feel really confident and comfortable. Driving in that direction.

And, uh, and not feeling the potential social pressure that you talked about about like, you know, like growing, you know, that, of course you have to be growing or like, what are you doing? Like actually bullshit, you know? So that, yeah, I was actually trying to Google that book while you were talking it’s it’s Paul Jarvis. You have one company of one.

[00:27:11] Tara Claeys: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a great book. Yeah. It’s a great, it’s a great, great book and it just, it really, yeah. Validate for me. I have friends who are so stressed out. Their cashflow is so low. I’ve done some contract work for, you know, a friend that has an agency, a social media marketing agency.

And, you know, they’re, they have great fun. Their Instagram feed is awesome. Like their team is young and they’re always like pictures of them drinking at this event or that yeah. So hip, like that would be awesome. But I also know that like, sometimes they don’t pay themselves because they have to pay their staff and they have to pay all of their bills.

And then when they, when their big, huge client is late paying them, then everything falls apart. So having low overhead and, you know, being fiscally responsible with your business funds. Pretty easy to do when you’re, when it’s just you that’s managing that, you know?

[00:28:04] Joe Howard: Yeah. Yeah. And people, I feel like people look at a business like mine and they they’ll see success from the outside, but, uh, there’s a lot of inner workings that go on that it’s not as peachy as it always seems.

I’ll tell everyone that. Pretty brutally, honestly. Uh, I think, um, we’re fortunate that we’ve done a good enough job. I’ve I’ve actually never had a month where I couldn’t pay myself. We’ve never had a month where a client, a big client didn’t pass and we’ve had months, like I’ve had returned like $18,000 one month because we accidentally overcharged a client for $18,000.

That’s a story for another podcast, but yeah, that was your stomach, like, yeah. Oh yeah. And it, it w it was for sure tough. I should wish. Dive into that, but I’ll leave the audience like hanging on that one for a little bit. Yeah. But, uh, but, uh, we’ve never had that happen in the business, uh, where, like, I felt like we were so tight.

Like I wasn’t going to make payroll and that’s really nice, but I could easily have gone another direction one month. Like, you know, who am I to say? Like, I know everything. I know nothing. Like it could have easily one month totally gone wrong next month. It could easily like things could go awry. And so there’s this aspect of growing a business.

Is it’s defined by turbulence. There is no other way to do it. Uh, and if you don’t want to go through turbulence growing a business, you probably shouldn’t grow a business. You probably should, you know, uh, stick somewhere. That’s a little bit more, I don’t know. In some cases it’s not more comfortable because, you know, as a freelancer or a small agency, you do have a lot of work to do.

Um, but, uh, yeah, I think that if that’s your definition of what success looks like, I know a lot of small companies that do awesome and they. Chill and do great work and love their lives and love their work and love their clients. And the growth is just not a piece of their formula for success. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

[00:29:53] Tara Claeys: Yeah, I think that’s, I think I totally agree with that. Yeah. And growth also means different things. I’m growing, I’m growing all the time. It’s just, it may. And I mean, my checkbook has grown over the years too, but if it stops growing, I’m cool where it is now. Like that’s totally fine. Yeah. It’s good. And I, uh, we’re dual income family, so I’m very fortunate that way.

And my kids are almost, I’m almost done with college. So, you know, we’re like, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel here.

[00:30:25] Joe Howard: Yeah. It’s nice to have friends like you in the WordPress space. I’m always looking for parents and people who have kind of been through that journey of doing WordPress stuff and being parents.

And so, yeah, it’s, it’s nice to have your view on that. Bounce stuff off you and ask you questions. But, uh, yeah, I’m already starting to think about, I know, I shouldn’t really be thinking about it yet. Cause it’s so far in the future, but like, you know, now’s the time to start thinking about like, all right, so when are we gonna start saving for college?

Like when putting money in, into college, down there. Like, so yeah, I know I should think here, but yeah.

[00:30:57] Tara Claeys: It goes by so fast and you talk about sort of figuring out who you are defining yourself and you just have to let that change over time. I’m definitely. And I think your life goes in phases. You have your, you know, your life until you become independent and then you have your life until you.

Yeah. If you choose to, you know, connect with a partner in some way, then you have that. If you choose to have children, then you have that phase and then you have the phase after that, and then you die.

[00:31:28] Joe Howard: One of my favorite movies is a it’s called sunshine. Uh, and it’s a scifi movie about, um, the, uh, this is a little bit of a tangent, but I want to tell it anyway, because this is one of their movies. The sun is running out of fuel. And so that’s about Icarus too. It’s the second mission to go and relight the sun.

And they don’t know what happened to the first mission, but they’d have to send a second one. And it’s the last one because the earth doesn’t have any more resources to build another bomb. It’s such a big bomb. So it’s the last ditch effort to relate the sun. And there’s this line in the, in the movie where the computer is talking to one of the, one of the people and then saying like you are dying and it’s like, Yes.

He’s like, yes, we’re all dying. I know that, you know, and it’s like, no, you’re actually running out of oxygen. There’s too many people on the, on the ship. And he’s like, oh my God. So I know they reminded me of that, but, uh, you know, we’re all dying. Oh. You know, at some point, so, uh, uh, Sorry. I took the left turn there, but that’s okay.

I was, yeah, not trying to bring anybody down there. Sorry. This is Priya, sorry, listeners. This podcast just turns into Saifai hour if you’re not, if you’re not careful, so awesome. I’m glad actually glad we got to talk about that a little bit. This is like, Really anywhere in our show notes, but that’s why I love doing the show because we just get to, you know, start talking about something and it turns out to be a really important topic.

Uh, and one that deserves attention, um, especially in the like kind of state of we’re where WordPress is right now, Christy and I just recorded an episode about like, kind of the stuff going on in WordPress. Now there’s a lot of money coming into WordPress and it’s. The community seems like it’s a, this whole open source thing.

Like, is it really open source? It’s I don’t know. It’s a complex conversation. Uh, and we do it better justice than that episode, but, uh, with a lot of money coming into WordPress and every week there’s a new acquisition announcement, WP Tavern. Oh, this company, it got acquired that company, WP engine and acquired flywheel.

Like, you know, the Saturday drive team acquired caldera. You know, there’s always, it feels like every week there’s something new and it makes you. Think at least sometimes it makes me think like, okay, like what’s next for our business? Like, what’s the, you know, how are we gonna be featured in Tavern? And it’s like, not really like a healthy way to like, think about my business.

So I really do actively try to like, you know, I like to know about it, but. Compare myself with what others are doing is, is not super healthy. And I think we can all take a page out of your book, Tara, and just say like, I’m gonna do my thing, regardless of whatever, who it was featured here, or the news here or whatever.

[00:33:51] Tara Claeys: Yeah. It’s easier said than done, right? I mean, it is like you, you can, you get in these conferences and especially if you’ve. People who are, who run big companies and are super successful. It’s very intimidating. And you feel like I have felt like I have nothing to offer them. And you do you, I think your point is sort of like social media in general, you look at a company or you look at somebody’s Facebook or Instagram and you think, oh my gosh, their life is so perfect.

How come my life isn’t like that? And, and. It’s not always what it looks like, but I think also we, you know, there are so many little cliche sayings going around. One of them is like, when you feel, when you’re feeling sorry for yourself, and you’re looking at somebody else and thinking that it’s better and you think, why is this bad thing happening to me?

Like why me? I’ve heard this recently. And it really stuck with me is like, why not me? Like, why, why would it. Why should bad things happen to other people or, you know, why should other people suffer? And I shouldn’t like, why not me? Of course we all it’s spread around, I guess, is my point getting very philosophical here, but it’s all, it’s all spread around.

We have our good days and our bad days and, and comparing yourself to others is I don’t think easy to stop doing. Probably never stopped doing it, but reminding yourself and saying it out loud that this is enough and I’m happy with my life today, tomorrow, whatever.

[00:35:14] Joe Howard: Yeah. Spending more time trying to think about the things you’re thankful for, as opposed to the things that maybe you don’t have in your life or that aren’t going right for you.

Um, like you said, easier said than done, but trying to keep that like grateful mindset is important. I mean, everyone’s heard this about social media, so I’m not saying anything new here, but you know, you only see the best pieces of my best moments of people’s lives. And, you know, people are going to post to Instagram when they’re on this great trip, uh, with their partner.

But they’re not really posting when they like, you know, lose a job or when they, something negative happens to them. You go to this feed and you see all this great, all this good shit happening to people. And you’re like, why isn’t my life amazing? Like all these other people’s. And it’s like, man, if you it’s the same thing.

As when I talked about my business little earlier, like from the outside, things may look cool and you know, a lot of stuff is going well, but there’s for sure pieces of the business where we’re trying to put fires out to. And we’re trying to figure out stuff that’s not going right. And, uh, it’s not all just like peaches and cream and it’s the same with, you know, People you see around on social media, you know, a lot of, a lot out of your property, people you’re listening, like your closest friends, like you think, you know them very well, but I bet if you were to live a week in their lives, you would have a very, very different impression about how their life is going based on.

Really what’s going on and not just the things that they decide to divulge you. So, yeah, I dunno. You’re right. We’re getting a little philosophical now, but this is for sure important like piece of mental health for founders, for entrepreneurs, for freelancers, for employees, for, for everybody to try and.

Frame yourself so that you can be happy with your life because so much about happiness in life, is about framing things correctly. , and if you can do that, you can bring a little more happiness to your life.

[00:37:03] Tara Claeys: Yeah, I think that’s true. That’s a good thing about the WordPress community is I think people are generally pretty open about these things.

We’re not the first people to talk about it even publicly, you know, there’s a lot of sharing about tough times and. Self-consciousness and bad feelings and good feelings. So I think that’s a great thing about this community is that we do feel comfortable sharing this kind of stuff and helping others to understand that they’re not the only ones feeling it as great.

[00:37:30] Joe Howard: Yes, totally agree. I think that is a perfect place to wrap up this episode for the day. Um, last thing I always like guests to do is just tell people where they can find you online, like social media or websites and all that.

[00:37:43] Tara Claeys: So my website is designed to ulc.com and I’m Tara clays on Twitter and pretty much anything, uh, anywhere on the web, you could Google me. And it’s C L a E Y S.

[00:37:55] Joe Howard: Very nice. Uh, one last thing I will say about Tara is that, uh, she was one of our biggest cheerleaders, uh, for WP boss when we were getting started. So honestly, like back when WP boss was like a, I don’t know, we were, uh, it was me and like a couple of freelancers doing 24 7 support.

It was hard and it was not ideal, but it was what we were. And Tara was one of the people who was like, yeah, go WP buffs. And you know, I it’s important. I always try to remember the people who were, who were there with me from the beginning and terrible. You were definitely one of those people.

[00:38:27] Tara Claeys: So that’s great. It’s great to see how you’ve grown. Yeah. I’m gonna look forward to seeing him.

[00:38:34] Joe Howard: Yeah, there you go. Uh, last I said last thing just now, but the real last thing, I always ask guests to ask our audience for a little five star iTunes review for the podcast. So if you wouldn’t mind giving a little ask, I’d appreciate it.

[00:38:46] Tara Claeys: I will, I’m totally prepared for this because, um, I have been on, um, Kyle and Adam’s podcasts get options podcast, and I, uh, notorious. Wrapped for them on that. So I’m not going to rap for you, but I did write a poem for this little ending for you. So are you ready? Here we go. It’s a great show with Christie and Joe. This podcast has letters. It just keeps getting better. It’s called WP, M R R. Please give them five stars.

[00:39:17] Joe Howard: Wow. I just watched the all-time greatest, uh, review asks on the show.

[00:39:23] Tara Claeys: You can ask Kyle Martin stuff. That’s a wrap for you.

[00:39:27] Joe Howard: Yeah, there you go. I will, for sure. Kyle, if you’re listening, you know what you have to do? Should I send it to us? Cool. Well, thank you. If you do leave us a review in iTunes, make sure you leave Tara’s name in the comments, maybe something you learned from the episode or something you took away. So we can shoot those screenshots of Tara. And thank her for the review. If you are leaving a review WP, mrr.com forward slash iTunes redirects you right there.

Make it nice and easy for you if you’re a new listener to the show. Oh, and by the way, if you’re leaving a five-star review for WP MRR podcast, make sure you leave a review for Tara’s podcast. Uh, Tara, remind people the domain again.

[00:40:05] Tara Claeys: Oh, hallway chats, chats.com.

[00:40:09] Joe Howard: I’ll wait, chats.com. If you’re leading one review, just leave too. Like it takes you. Double review. Perfect. Um, the, uh, new list owners out there. If you’re a new listener, uh, feel free to go and binge some old episodes of the WP, MRR, WordPress podcast. You already binge all your TV shows and Hulu and Netflix and all that stuff. Why not binge something that’ll help you grow your business?

Uh, check out some old episodes. I’m sure Christine. A topic that you are having a challenge with right now. So the episode could help you today. If you have questions for us in the show, we love to do Q and a episodes. So, uh, shoot those questions into yo@wpmrr.com and we will get them answered live here on this.

WP mrr.com. If you’re an agency or a freelancer, and maybe you’re having an off month or like, you’re not bringing in as much revenue as last month and you’re kind of tired of that rollercoaster of revenue or that Feaster famine check out WP MRR com. No we’ve opened sourced WP buffs so that you can offer care plans to your clients and learn how to do all that stuff.

Our goal is to help you be twice as successful as we have at WP buffs and half the time. So, uh, check it out. We’re doing a 75% discount right now. So if you are, want to grab that, now’s a great time to do it. So WP mrr.com for that, that is it for this week. We will be in your podcast players again next Tuesday, Tara.

Thanks again for being on. It’s been real.

[00:41:34] Tara Claeys: Thanks so much for having me. Do you have a great day?

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