Andrew Martinez is a known WordPress expert. In this interview, he talks about his entrepreneurial journey, why having an online presence during this pandemic is a must and about his upcoming bootcamp.
Andrew, Thank you for talking with us. Entrepreneurship is not new to you. However, before your current venture, you had the taste of entrepreneurship on various occasions. A few mildly successful ones and a few failures. Tell us something more about your journey.
Thank you for having me. It was around 2007 when I was introduced to the world of entrepreneurship. I was attending church with my girlfriend at the time, and another member of the congregation gave me this newsletter from a nutritional network marketing company and asked me to consider the opportunity. It talked about the benefits of having a home-based business and also had some suggested reading.
One of the books from that suggested reading list was Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad . I found the title very intriguing and ordered a copy for myself from Amazon. After I finished reading it, I felt it was the most eye-opening book I ever read.
I remember thinking to myself “wow it would be nice if they taught this kind of stuff in school!” In a nutshell, society programs us that the path to success is to go to school, get good grades, graduate with honors, find a good-paying job with benefits, and then look forward to retirement after ~40 years of working. Unfortunately, it does not always work like this.
Ever since I read Rich Dad Poor Dad and eventually his other book Cashflow Quadrant, I just knew that I did not want to work for someone else forever. Instead of working for my money, I wanted to eventually have my money and other resources working for me. I did eventually decide to give that nutritional network marketing company a try.
However, in less than a year I ended up quitting as it was a challenge to recruit others. I ultimately lost money from that business opportunity.
Over the next few years, I also attempted a few other ventures such as real estate bird dogging (locating properties for other investors for a referral fee), affiliate marketing (making money selling other people’s products), freelancing, and creating my own products.
With real estate bird-dogging, while I was able to maintain a buyer’s list (of investors ready to pay cash on the right deal), it would be an ongoing challenge finding deals for those investor buyers.
Then in 2012, I came across an online ad about an affiliate marketing online course. The basic premise of the course was to create a self hosted WordPress blog where you picked a niche, produced relevant content for that niche, strategically inserted affiliate links here and there, and also encourage people to sign up for your email list.
I invested in this affiliate marketing course. This is where I also first learned about the benefits of a WordPress website in addition to email marketing. When I was going through this course and building my WordPress website, I became fascinated with the whole website creation process.
Ever since then, I have taught myself more about web design, web development, and online marketing via platforms like Codecademy and Udemy. That affiliate marketing course from 2012 really kicked off my career in online entrepreneurship.
In 2014 I took on my very first client project – creating a website for a local makeup artist. It was such a huge thrill to have another person pay me money to put my techie skills to work. This also taught me an important lesson: it’s ok if you’re not a total expert at something. As long as you’re a step ahead of your audience (further along than them), and they are gaining genuine value from you, then this is all that matters.
I then eventually came up with my own website Powerful Digital Solutions where the focus would be helping service-based solopreneurs, startups, and other non-techie entrepreneurs establish their online presence.
For a while, I was doing this as a side hustle while working another full-time job. In October 2017 I made the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship and became a full-time WordPress Website Consultant. For a while, I had a steady flow of client projects including referrals. Eventually, I had a dry spell and realized I needed to make some adjustments. I also came across some resources about “productizing” your service and how freelancers can turn what they do into a digital product.
I remember one day I joined this Facebook group for people considering creating their own online course. When I made my introductory post and mentioned how I’ve considered making a course that would teach others how to build their own WordPress website, I got quite a bit of feedback.
Although I had not yet begun any official market research, a number of people commented and asked if I planned on releasing soon. Another person talked about the frustrations she had with making her own WordPress website. From that point on, I knew that I had to create a course.
Another milestone in my entrepreneurial journey was when I read Choose by Ryan Levesque. This book is all about teaching you how to pick your niche (one that is willing to spend money).
I remember this one part in the book that talked about the best types of business for your personality style. For instance, if you’re an introvert by nature then selling infoproducts and/or memberships would best suit you.
If you’re naturally extroverted, then selling coaching and/or live events might best suit you. Although network marketing was not categorized in this context, one could argue that it’s better suited for extroverts.
As an introverted entrepreneur, this insight was huge. This made me realize how it’s important to play to your natural strengths. This inspired me, even more, to work on my online course as well as consider other possible digital products in the future (such as a membership or Kindle book).
As of 2020, in addition to working on client projects, I am also coming up with do it yourself (DIY) resources for those who don’t want to hire someone. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are, and I make sure to play to my natural strengths while outsourcing my weaknesses. I take very much pride in creating beautiful and professional WordPress websites, offering DIY resources, and also offering
relevant affiliate products.
What were the initial challenges that you faced in your endeavor?
When I joined that nutritional network marketing company back in 2007, I was told to make a list of my family, friends, and everyone else I knew and to share the products as well as the business opportunity. It was definitely a challenge finding interested prospects this way.
This made me wonder if I was even cut out for entrepreneurship. Fast forward to October 2017: when I went full time with my side hustle of building websites, it did have its challenges. I had to teach myself how to better manage my time and prioritize my tasks. I also had occasional challenges with finding qualified prospects (especially those who would respect my expertise and not haggle me on price).
After investing in some resources (including a little coaching and mentorship), I learned how to better manage my time, qualify prospective clients, and manage client expectations. Over time I was able to really hone my internal systems and processes for success.
“If a business is not on the internet, the business does not exist at all.” Though a cliche, many businesses miss this point. What are your views on this?
Bill Gates once said “if your business is not on the Internet, then your business will be out of business.” I strongly believe that success leaves clues. When a billionaire shares some form of business advice with you, you might want to listen.
I firmly believe that if a business is serious about their overall long term success, then they need a professional website in place that is fast, secure, and search engine optimized.
A website should be treated like a member of their team: like a sales & marketing rep that works 24/7 to share their brand, serve customers (current & prospective), and ultimately contribute to the bottom line.
Some people might think that a Facebook business page (or other social media page) is all they need. However, since their algorithms can change over time, this can hurt a business’s organic reach. Plus it is nearly impossible to have your own look and feel on a social media page.
Many businesses are reluctant to have an online presence. Some think they are technically not sound to create their business’ digital presence. How justified is their fear? Also, do you think that irrespective of the nature of your business, a solid online presence is a must?
I can see why some businesses might be afraid. Creating a website does involve spending quite a bit of time in front of a computer, and some business owners may not have the time, focus, or concentration to be able to be in front of their computer for an extended amount of time.
Many also simply don’t know about the benefits of a WordPress website and how it makes the website creation process easier. People fear what they do not fully understand. If more entrepreneurs gained at least a basic understanding of WordPress, then they would see that the whole process doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
No matter what type of business you have, a solid online presence is a must for long term success.
People will often visit a business online before visiting in person.
If a business wants to get found on Google by prospective customers, maintain their credibility, and also have that 24/7 sales & marketing rep that never sleeps, then a professional website is needed.
Covid-19 has hit brick and mortar businesses hard. Those who are not adapting to the whole situation are filing for bankruptcy. How do you see the whole situation so far? What strategies can businesses adopt in order to tackle this unprecedented business challenge?
As of May 2020, I am seeing conditions slowly improve. I’ve noticed that more and more businesses are reopening while maintaining social distancing and other precautions.
I feel that this situation is an excellent example of the need to have an online presence in order to better adapt and survive. This whole situation has also been a reminder to me to never rely on just one source of income (nor on just one product/service offering).
Just as individuals should diversify their income, businesses should have an overall diversified strategy (e.g., some restaurants have been selling groceries in addition to prepared meals).
The number one suggestion I could offer to businesses during this time is to figure out how they can innovate and diversify their offerings. If someone runs a service-based business (such as an accountant or barber), maybe they could offer mobile services or somehow productize their service. I know that the online learning industry is a billion-dollar industry and recession-proof.
As part of a diversified business strategy, a small business owner could maybe come up with DIY resources for the public. At the same time, small business owners could use this downtime to audit their business strategy (figure out what has and has not been working before this pandemic) and then make improvements such as giving their website a revamp. In addition to merely surviving this pandemic, businesses should also ready themselves for after this pandemic is done with.
One final point I’d like to make is that many successful businesses were formed during a recession such as Uber and Groupon. This should serve as inspiration to focus more on innovating and less on how bad present conditions are.
You believe that taking your business online should not be a mystery and small businesses should not be looted in the name of making websites for their businesses. Tell us more about your upcoming Bootcamp which demystifies the entire website building process.
My 3 Day Website Planning Bootcamp which begins May 18, 2020 is all about helping service based solopreneurs, startups, and other non techie entrepreneurs make a plan for their online presence.
Whether you just need a basic “online brochure” or something more complex like an online shop, it all starts with a written plan. On Day 1, participants will receive an overview of the website creation process and how it’s not so bad once you get a bird’s eye view of it.
I also cover how WordPress makes it easy for any non techie to create and/or update their own website. On Day 2, participants will receive guidance on creating their own style guide – picking the right fonts and colors for their website and overall brand. They’ll learn how to make their own style guide in the form of a Google Doc.
On Day 3, we’ll get into completing the rest of the “website blueprint.” In addition to knowing what fonts and colors they’ll use, they’ll also have access to a website planning worksheet. This will help nail down their online goals, which web pages they’ll need, and other related questions.
The main goal of my bootcamp is to take participants from feeling lost or overwhelmed about the website creation process to feeling more empowered and having a written blueprint to help determine what direction they’d like to go. People can get more details and reserve their spots for this bootcamp.
Update: “The 3 Day Website Planning Bootcamp has already passed. However, there is an evergreen version of this bootcamp called How to Plan Your Website Blueprint. People can get more details and sign up here.
What suggestion would you give to those businesses who are facing enormous challenges due to the ongoing pandemic?
The number one suggestion I could give is to figure out how you can innovate and diversify your overall business strategy. Current and prospective customers can often help in this regard.
An Interview with Jennifer Miree Cope
Described as thorough and organized by her closest associates, Jennifer Miree Cope graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Jennifer has a deep-seated passion for several non-profit organizations. Especially with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which has treated several of her close friends and family members.
Jennifer Miree Cope’s respect for the generosity of nonprofits inspired her to become a volunteer. Currently, she is involved with several charities started by Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama: STAIR tutoring, the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, and Holiday House.
Jennifer’s husband, Pat Cope, is the founder of Cope Private Wealth — a prestigious financial planning firm. When not relaxing with her husband and two sons in Mountain Brook, Jennifer can often be found exercising, walking her dog, or hiking in the mountains of North Carolina.
Jennifer, thank you for doing this. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.
My worst days are the days when we’re busy. You know those days when customers are calling, texting, emailing from early in the morning to late at night. (I can’t help it that it rained that day.) But one of my best days was when we had three very happy clients, two of whom brought me wine!
What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?
Landscaping an empty or nearly empty lot. It’s just like an artist starting with a blank canvas.
What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?
My biggest eureka moment was when I realized that technical drawings such as landscape plans can often be just as pretty as art.
What has been the most important part of your professional journey?
That’s a simple answer. It would have to be time management. There’s simply no way to succeed without it. And I start managing my time well from the beginning – it really starts the minute I wake up in the morning.
What risks is your company facing?
With the economy doing poorly and inflation on the rise, people can always stop landscaping. That’s really the biggest issue here. It is unfortunately a luxury and not a necessity.
What would you do with unlimited resources?
That’s a tough one! I mean, to be honest, there are a lot of things that I would do with unlimited money, and I imagine that’s the same for everyone else too.
But there is one thing that I would prioritize if I had unlimited money: First, I would try to use it to find a cure for cancer. Both of my sisters, my mom, my aunt, and my husband all had cancer. My two sisters died from it. It’s a nasty disease and we need to dedicate more of our resources to fighting against it.
When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?
I would have to say it was the last time I made a needlepoint belt for one of my sons. It can be very easy to find yourself in the zone when you’re engaged in that.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Yeah, well for exercise, you can usually find me playing golf, doing pilates, or yoga. I often enjoy going out to eat or attending sporting events and musical theater. And I can’t forget that one of my favorite things to do is travel — mostly to our place in the North Carolina mountains.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
For me, the number one way to make a difference is tutoring the underprivileged. I have done a lot with STAIR, and I am very proud of that work.
In this interview, Raquel Ureña talks about the second season of ‘NY Never Sleeps’
Raquel, It’s a pleasure talking with you again. Much awaited “NY Never Sleeps” will be rolling out its second season pretty soon. How excited are you about this?
I am really excited. Especially because the participants of this second season are super successful women who are truly inspiring. They are great role models.
Would you like to give a sneak peek into the second season for our audience?
These women of Dominican descent all have successful businesses and they all started with nothing, showing us that if you work hard and remain focused, anything is possible. They are all immigrants and today, have many luxuries due to their hard work. Besides seeing the lifestyles of these women, we will also be seeing a lot of fashionable and trendy, and exclusive places in New York.
When will you start filming?
We will start filming in May and have many plans and exclusive events that we will be attending. We will be showing exclusive restaurants and places that people need to see in NY.
On which platforms, will the second season be available? Also, how many episodes will be there in the second season
There are 13 episodes in the second season and it will be airing on Digital 15 and Telemicro Internacional which is the biggest TV platform in the Dominican Republic. Telemicro Internacional is seen in the US through Comcast cable. The show will be airing towards the end of September. We will be filming all summer.
What are your views on the current status of women in entrepreneurship? especially in the Latina community?
New York is a difficult place to live in and very expensive but these women have proven that even with a humble beginning and hard work, it is possible to get ahead in life.
An Interview with Ali LeMille, Career Coach and Founder of The Job Forge
Ali LeMille is the founder of The Job Forge. Ali has successfully helped a large number of companies find the right set of employees. She has also helped over 70 individuals land their dream jobs.
Ali, Thank you so much for talking with us. Your experience with recruitment is pretty vast. You have also worked with some of the biggest names, helping them in recruitment. Tell us more about your past experience.
I had a rather unusual introduction into the recruiting world. I had started as a hiring manager for local “Mom & Pop” shops in my hometown. The connections I made in the area high schools and colleges are what I was able to tap to quickly fix the staffing situation at the theme park I was brought into with Kodak. I moved into a year-round role and worked between New York, New Jersey, and other locations worldwide.
The companies I worked with were some of the most recognizable brands in the world! The last project I worked on was staffing for the Disney Premiere of The Princess and The Frog in Manhattan. It was in a refurbished nightclub where guests could explore a “bayou” playground, learn to draw from actual Disney animators, and see authentic movie props. It was a fantastic opportunity, and I still maintain close connections with the people I worked with during that time.
I found myself in the healthcare sector after being injured by a patient in the emergency room I had been moonlighting in. This placed me on light duty, where I used my talent acquisition skills to recruit positions for everything from housekeeping to physician assistants.
I then moved into the Non-Profit sector with AmeriCorps and their Reading Partners Program. There I maintained a staff of roughly 500 volunteer tutors. After that, I went into Insurance/Healthcare once again.
Based on your experience, what are some of the things a recruiter looks for in a candidate?
Recruiters worth their salt will be looking at your response times, professionalism, and social presence.
Response times give them an idea of your sense of urgency – which is a massive deal for most positions! Potential employers want to know if you’re going to be a great communicator or if you’re willing to let things go for a minute.
Professionalism comes in how you respond: your grammar, cadence, salutations, and if you’re answering everything they asked or leaving out details they need. A great practice is to run your responses through Grammarly or Hemingway App to catch things you may have missed.
Social Presence is massive, and I’m mainly talking about LinkedIn regarding job hunting. Having a fully optimized LinkedIn profile gives you an enormous edge because it’s social proof that you are who you say you are in your career experience. I’ve seen great resumes hit the trash because the candidate didn’t exist anywhere but on their paper resume.
How and when did you come up with the idea of The Job Forge?
When the pandemic hit, I knew many people who joined the mass resignation and began job hunting. People looking to move their careers into a remote situation quickly realized everyone else had the same idea. My phone started blowing up with questions about what “contract to hire” meant and how to update their resumes quickly. I took care of everyone close to me and then some! I wanted to make this service available to anyone else feeling stuck, so I created The Job Forge. I have the different comprehensive packages on my site, but also some basic gigs on Fiverr as well. I wanted to make it as accessible as possible for as many people as possible.
According to you, what are some of the things that career coaches often miss out on?
That clients don’t have to be some industry big wig to need some help. I see a lot of coaches gearing their work to major hitters, not understanding that there’s a whole population of mid-level players that are hungry to throw their career into high gear.
I’ve worked with RNs looking to make Charge Nurse, Retail Managers wanting to switch industries completely, recent grads trying to get their foothold and start making bank, and parents returning to the workforce after time away to take care of their littles.
Whoever needs coaching should have access to it – and that’s my goal. To make Career Coaching accessible and affordable.
How do you address the gaps in the existing recruitment and career consulting services?
The issue I see happening with current recruiting practices is false barriers to entry for many positions. A great example of this is requiring intensive degrees and forcing employees into the office when it’s not necessary.
I recently attended an Equality Summit where the overwhelming response to “What is the number one thing holding your career back?” was employers requiring higher-level degrees for positions that could also be learned through real-world experience. Many people have spent their lives honing their skills, but they are instantly rejected because an advanced degree was not a pathway for them.
My recruiting approach is working with the employer to narrow down the actual needs to do the job – not what looks good on paper. It’s getting them to understand that an applicant can have the most expensive degree in the world and still not know as much as the person who has spent 20+ years in the industry.
And my Career Consulting service falls in line with that philosophy! Degrees are lovely for specific fields but not required for many others. I want to work with my clients regardless of their educational background. Whatever the barriers are, I want to create a plan for them to succeed!
Though every job has a different set of needs, In your experience, what are some of the most common traits recruiters are looking for in candidates?
I touched on a few earlier, but I can tell you a line that recruiters watch closely: Are you finessing your resume or lying about your abilities? There’s a big difference!
It goes without saying that you should never lie on your resume. Saying you have skills you very definitely don’t will not only get you quickly fired but can also get you a blanket industry ban if the community is small enough.
Finessing? That’s fine! And what I mean by that is, let’s say, you went outside your job description and learned new skills because of it. You can put those on your resume! It’s not lying – You did the work and have the abilities you claim to. Or asking your manager if you can change your title on your resume to reflect more accurately what you did under their employment. Then update your resume accordingly. Your resume is meant to reflect your skills and abilities in the best and most truthful way. And if you need help with that, my services are a click away!
Any suggestions you want to give to first-time job seekers?
Job hunting is a numbers game – especially now when there are many open positions and a ton of applicants. Even when you land an interview, keep applying! Nothing is final until you’re signing contracts accepting the job and have an official start date. Focus on your goals and move forward step-by-step. Clean up your social media, flesh out your LinkedIn profile, and revamp your resume and cover letter.
Oh, and please, please, create a professional email—just your name at Gmail or yahoo or whatever platform you use. Anything else is a potential red flag, and you don’t want to have your CV tossed in the trash for something so quickly addressed. Keep your personal email separate and create one specifically for job hunting.
Lastly, a big trend I am seeing is putting pictures of yourself on your resume. In the US and UK, this can actually really hurt your chances of getting an interview. Many companies will toss resumes with applicant pics on them because they don’t want to be seen as biased.
And if you need help with any of this, reach out to me! I’d love to chat!
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