Lightroom to WordPress

The WordPress.com team recently published a lightroom plugin that allows you to export your photos direct from Lightroom to WordPress – and it promised – No fuss, no mess!

As I was editing my photos from the Grand Meetup recently I decided to give it a try and see just how easy it was – and yes it lived up to the promise – no fuss, no mess.

If you are using WordPress.org (so a self-hosted site) you will need Jetpack to be installed on your site, as well as a WordPress.com account – but if you have both of those already – the set up is really simple and you can follow these easy steps.

The photos are added to your media library, where you can add them to posts, projects etc – really saving you time having to export from Lightroom and then re-import to WordPress.

6 things I learnt from ‘hustling’

Hustle is a popular tech/startup term – but I have never really seen anyone explain what they did when they were hustling – you just hear them say they ‘hustled’ and then they were ‘successful’. It tends to be defined as:

Anything you need to do to make money… if you making money, you hustling.

In mid 2014 I found myself with my back against the wall so to speak – work was scarce, most of my clients had gone very quiet and we had actually just bought a new family home (living in a 2 bedroom townhouse was not sustainable) – and we were moving in at the end of the month with no sign of my next ‘pay check’. My wife is a stay-at-home mom too – so there was no paycheck to rely on there either!

As a result of these circumstances I found myself having to find a way to make some money – and make it fast.

I started out by scanning the conversations, posts and articles of the people I followed on the internet to find opportunities that aligned with my key strengths/skill-set – and remembered a few posts I had read on the Creative Market blog earlier in the year where they had started to share what some of their shop owners were earning selling on Creative Market – as I already had a shop on Creative Market I decided to give it a second chance.

For some background – I started my Creative Market shop early – just after they had launched and felt I saw an opportunity to create design related templates for the new launched Sketch software which was starting to become very popular as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop. I spent a good few evenings and weekend working on a mobile UI kit based on the then iOS 6 – and launched it – expecting great success – and it did get some immediate sales – but literally within days Apple upgraded to iOS 7 and with it came a whole new visual style – which my UI kit no longer catered to – and my sales stopped immediately. At this stage, I was contracted to work with a company – and the thought of having to do all the work over again and use up my evenings and weekends was not that appealing – so I put my Creative Market shop on ice.

Fast forward to 2014 – and I felt I would have a go at creating some products that I could sell on my Creative Market shop again – but I needed to make sure that the products I created could be made quickly so that I could generate sales across a range of products as soon as possible – and so I ended up having to ‘hustle’.

Now more than a year later I thought I would share my experience on what it meant to hustle:

H – Hard work
It’s important to realise that making anything of value is going to take hard work – you can try make a product quickly – but if you want to really ensure your product will stand out and be recognised then you going to need to put in the hard work it deserves. It also means not making sure you have all the perfect tools for the job – I used the old floor in my new house as the backdrop, collected items from my in-laws collection (they hoard stuff) and took photographs over the weekends while my two children had their afternoon sleep – trying to make sure I did not wake them up in the process as I crept around the wooden floor and making sure the photographing session was done by the time they woke up.

U – Understand
Try to understand the mindset of your customer – put yourself in their shoes and look at what value your product brings to them – will it make their life easier, simpler – can they design faster with your product etc?

S – Strengths
Don’t try to create products around a style that you aren’t familiar with as your first products – identify what your strengths are – and play to them – you will find you can get your products out much faster. If you still having to learn on the job, it’s not impossible, it just makes it that little bit harder.

T – Trust
At some point along the way you are going to have to trust the decisions you have made. Not every product or idea you come up with will be right. Just don’t give up at the first roadblock you experience. Learn from it and don’t do it again.

L – Luck
As you go you will start to find new doors and opportunities opening along the way for your ideas and or products. Don’t be shy – seize them and enjoy your success.

E – Enjoy
Lastly, and most importantly – make sure that you are actually enjoying what you are doing – as your customers will see your enjoyment through the time and effort you are putting into your products and the way you interact with them.

In the end, I made quite a bit of money during this period – and while hustling was great – it’s not something I feel you can sustain for a long period of time. I used the opportunity that I got from my sales to pursue other ideas and options and a year later find myself working as part of a great team on some really amazing products – applying a lot of what I learnt during that period of my life to my day-to-day job.

Engineering Happiness as a Product Manager

As part of joining Automattic – you are required to spend your first three weeks in product support. I was recently part of the first group of the WooThemes team to do the 3 week Support Rotation and it gave me some key insights into customer behaviour – as well as my own behaviour  – and the way one markets/presents a product:

Engineer customer happiness and reduce open tickets.

As a happiness engineer – you are given all the tools at your disposal to help a customer with a query – as such your job it to engineer happiness for that customer using the tools at your disposal. But having said that you have to also weigh up customer happiness vs business interests – i.e. you would not just be able to refund every customer who asked for a refund with the line ‘but it will make them happy!” and realistically feel you are doing a good job. When I thought about this as a product manager I felt I could apply this same thinking to bring clarity to an often ‘grey’ job title: engineer customer happiness in a product while reducing the number of feature requests either through inclusion or exclusion.

Just because there is information online – don’t assume the customer will actually try find it first, and if they have found it, don’t expect them to have read it. And if they have read it don’t expect them to have understood it.

As a Happiness Engineer it’s your job to find the answers to the questions a customer has – often this means referencing articles that they could have as easily found as you. But, you can never expect your customer to have found these articles, let alone read it, and how about understanding them? So if you start finding that you replying to the same questions over and over again – maybe you should have a look at how and where you are addressing these issues in your products design and or messaging.

Don’t assume you have the answer to a customers question until you fully understand the problem they are facing.

We can often start telling a customer what we think they want to hear, or even more so what we want them to hear – rather than actually first trying to understand what it is a customer is asking, or why are they asking this question. I heard this line during my support rotation and it really struck me: You can put a bandaid on the problem – or you can try address the cause now.

Customers come with an expectation of what they think your product can do – and often will actually buy or use the product still fully expectant that it will do what they wanted it to do – even if it can’t.

I had a support query where a customer had a very valid idea for a website he was trying to create – but the catch was that although it was a really good idea – the way he wanted to use some of our products was just not relevant to 99% of our customers. Maintaining your products focus amongst a sea of good ideas is key, you need stay focused on your product goals and keep working towards them.

WooCago

25 hours of flying, 9 hours of layover and 6 movies. That’s what it took to get from South Africa to Chicago for my first team meetup since starting at WooThemes. Over the course of two days, 15 WooThemes employees flew to Chicago from around the world. One of the benefits of working for WooThemes – and now subsequently Automattic – is that we are a remote team, which allows us to work from anywhere in the world. But, being able to spend 8 days together as a team and meet the people outside of Slack and Google Hangouts is hugely valuable.


NEW BUFFALO

We started our team meetup in a small coastal town called New Buffalo – about an hour and a half outside of Chicago on the other side of Lake Michigan. We rented an awesome 8000ft² home for the weekend for some fun social time, just getting to know each other and played a crazy game with chocolate as an icebreaker!

Unfortunately the weather did not play along – so we did not get to do as much as we had planned, but when the weather did clear for a short while a group of us hired some bicycles from a local shop and headed off on about a 20-30km ride exploring the area. We did have some discussions about whether or not this amount of exercise could lead to a heart attack by certain members of our newly formed ‘bicycle gang’ – but we all managed to get back to town – even if at one stage it might have appeared we were lost.


TEAM GROWTH

Originally our meetup was held as a joint meetup between both the Marketing and Business Development teams – but by the end of the week we had merged into the newly formed Team Growth. In all my time working with and in various companies I have never worked with such a diverse group of people – but to me that diversity brings with it a real strength that I feel WooThemes have done well to foster and grow within the company and our recent acquisition by Automattic only further serves to enhance that diversity and strength.


THE COOK-OFF

On our second last night of the weekend we had a fun ‘Cook-Off’ style competition mixed in with some Cutthroat kitchen style sabotages. Unfortunately my team started with a handicap as we were one man down at the start (no names mentioned) and we also ended up being on the receiving end of 3 out of the 4 sabotages – but we did manage to come a close second – so congrats to Team Bud on the win!


CHICAGO

After an amazing weekend spent together we headed into Chicago to attend the IRCE conference where we had an exhibitor stand for the remainder of the week. It was a crazy week with the team split up into various groups to ‘man’ the stand, as well as all of us attending the first ever WooCommerce meetup in Chicago. I managed to get out on one morning and capture a few photos of the city – Chicago really is a beautiful city and well worth a longer visit


THE LAST DAY

As with any trip there is always a last day. Slowly over the course of the morning we said sad farewells to teammates and new friends as we all headed back home again. A group of 5 of us were left to wait out the day really as our flights left late in the evening and we managed one last outing to Best Buy – which was apparently just around the corner and down the street – we ended up walking for miles! But I have to say my flight home was a whole lot better after that!

Walking the hills

This past Sunday I went for what was probably my first run in nearly ten years. I blame my company perk Fitbit! I thought; how hard can it be? I could easily have climbed on my mountain bike and gone for a 100km ride without any real sweat – but was I in for a surprise!

As I made my way up what must have been the steepest hill on my 4,4km (only) run I remembered how running used to be a naturally easy thing to me and that once I was actually pretty good at it and I thought there must be some kind of lesson I can learn from this.

I wished I could have gone back a few years and maintained some level of consistency rather than finding another reason why I could no longer jog. Then over the weekend my colleague Joel wrote a post titled There is No Reset Button and it struck me – there really is NO reset button in life.

We only get one chance to do something the first time.  Thereafter we choose to continue or choose to stop. If you consistently work at something you will only get better at it – it’s inevitable. But if you are consistently doing nothing – then well – you going to do nothing – and something which seemed easy, even second nature a few years back is going to seem harder and more challenging the next time round.

So the next time you get to start something for the first time, keep at it, even if you have to walk the hills.

 

 

Moving beyond ‘drafts’

I read this post today by my colleague at WooThemesDwain Maralak – and it really resonated with me – to the extent that it actually got me to write and publish my first post on this new site.

His post got me thinking about the many reasons that I have not actually disabled the maintenance plugin on this site and put it out there for the world (okay probably a handful of friends) to read! I even started to create a list of the various ‘hurdles’ I sought to overcome in publishing this site – but ultimately as I looked at them they all had one similar theme: fear.

The internet (which I love don’t get me wrong) has enabled us to access so much information so easily that it becomes too easy I find to compare myself to others who I feel are ‘making it’ and start to discount my own life experiences and knowledge as insufficient or boring.

And so I plan to follow the advice of Nathan Barry to learn, share and create.

So this site might not be perfect yet, it still lacks an about page and a whole lot of tweaks I would love to do as a designer, but as the title of the post says – I am moving beyond ‘drafts’.