Based in Denver, Terra Walker focuses on helping clients get the most from their experience with WordPress. Find her on Twitter.
Given a business name is so central to a brand, we tend to put a lot of importance on it. How did you arrive at a name, and how do you feel about it now that you’ve been in business a while?
It was given to me after my mom married my stepdad. It’s grown on me over the years.
With some brands, location is a key component. Is there anything about the place you live and work that’s shaped your own brand?
I would say my ability to do everything I do from anywhere in the world has shaped me in ways that people who are location-dependent don’t get to experience. I have learned a lot from many different cultures, and I implement that into my customer service and scope of work, and it’s often a more-fair trade than some contracts I’ve seen out there.
How would you describe your professional experience and background?
I learned to code in HTML when it was first publicly offered by Allaire in the 1990s. I was already creating graphics for businesses around town, and helping them get a presence on the “internet” as it was.
(Thank you, Geocities!)
Over the years, I managed hosting servers and BBS, and created web pages for friends, family, anyone who would pay — and many who didn’t. My whole world changed when WordPress came out, and suddenly I didn’t have to code pages anymore, and I could focus on design and implementation.
That’s where I’m at now, and I love it. I also teach personalized classes in how to use WordPress at all levels. It’s much more fair to all involved this way, and much-less time consuming.
Could you describe the scope of your operation?
At this point in my career, I really focus on teaching people how to use WordPress and other CMS properly, with best practices and a few little secrets, I believe they should all know. Most people seem to want to have control over their whole site, but don’t want to or have the time to learn how to upgrade and implement platform components.
They think it’s this mysterious witchcraft.
I teach them how to make their cauldrons bubble even when they aren’t around. I’m much more interested in helping and teaching these days. However, if the price is right — or they really aren’t getting it — I am still for hire.
Some entrepreneurs describe an aha! moment, the instant they decided it was time to take things into their own hands. Could you describe any of those moments you’ve had?
I’ve had a LOT. I would say when WordPress gave us the ability to use their CMS on our own servers, and when hosting companies like GoDaddy made it not so out of reach for everyone, I decided it was time to shift to doing things that made me happier (food + lifestyle blogging) and put web design on the side burner. I love it as sidework, and am happy it’s there.
What kind of projects do you prefer to work on?
Anything innovative or that allows my creative freedom.
Could you describe your typical client (if you have a typical client)?
My typical clients tend to be older and new to the web or web design and implementation. They’re usually digital transplants, and are in a second or third phase of life and starting new businesses, or wanting a web presence for existing businesses. On occasion, I’ll get younger people with a new web ambition, and who are ready to learn how to put their shingle out, so to speak.
Sometimes we’re in a position where it’s necessary to turn down projects. What do those situations look like for you, and how do you manage them?
Those situations are few for me these days. I have finally learned what I don’t want to do, and I just say no. The things I usually decline are those who are emotionally demanding, people who like to micromanage or who clearly don’t understand the limitations of the web, or people who complain about my prices from the get go. I’ve spent a lot of time with those people, and I refuse to do that anymore.
Could you describe a project that you feel exemplifies you at your best?
I really love creating unique and beautiful experiences for people, and so those projects where I am given some rope and room to run are probably my best projects.
An obvious metric for measuring our own success is how much you got paid versus how much time it took. In your experience, what are the advantages and drawbacks here?
I am so good at the estimates now, it is rare that I’m crying in my coffee over lost time or money. The definite advantage to these metrics is that if you’re good at underpromising and overdelivering, you will never lack work.
The problem is that we don’t have control over clients who understate what their needs or wants are, and so getting to that place where you know what the important questions to ask are can take some time.
Are there any resources (e.g. apps, processes) that you’d recommend to an up-and-comer?
Read everything you can, talk to people who are willing to give away their knowledge, and know basic current programming languages. Oh, and don’t work under/with/for people who are not willing to give away their knowledge. It’ll take an unnecessary toll on your emotional state.
Imagine you could travel back in a time machine to a point where you were like, Forget this. I’m done! What advice would you give yourself?
I’m like that every day, and I have two bracelets on my desk and a ring on my left hand that says, “Keep F’n Going.” They were given to me when I started my cancer fight, but the only way out is through, and the world doesn’t stop just because I need a break. SO, I let myself sit with the exhaustion, and then I stand back up and keep going.
What’s your parting shot for people who want to be like you when they grow up?
Don’t be like me, be like you and do what your soul calls to. If you can monetize it, all the better. If not, hobbies are great too. Don’t lose sight of what makes you feel good.
Do you have any feedback or comments to share about GoDaddy Pro?
It has been an honor and privilege to be in the inaugural class of the GoDaddy Pro Customer Advisory Board, and the changes to the UX are incredible and will provide the next class with a nice launchpad to move us all forward.
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