Presented by Barbara Rowen on 09/24/2018 2:00pm
Learning about virtually everything may seem like a pretty strong statement and one that quite likely requires additional information.
Barbara Rowen owns Virtually Everything... as a web designer, graphic designer, and a content writer, Barbara provides virtually everything a small business needs to get found on the web.
Barbara has been in business since 2001, and through the years has morphed from a general administrative virtual assistant to an accomplished web designer.
During this webinar, you will learn about Virtually Everything and how Barbara helps clients grow their business with good web design and good content.
From the Presentation
What is it that drives you to do what you do?
The people that mean the most to me and are important to me. My husband Mike, my daughter Trish and her husband, Michael, my grandson, Jace, and our dog Petey.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Born and raised on Long Island, NY. If you hand around me long enough, you’ll probably see and hear some residual NY idiosyncrasies.
I have been a Word processor and trainer from 1973-1978 so please just avoid doing that math.
I was a legal secretary, litigation assistant, and paralegal from 1978-2001
Near the end of 2001 and just after the U.S. 9-11 tragedy, I started my business doing business writing, calendaring, and schedule coordination. When my clients saw what I was doing for my own business, they started asking me to do more of their marketing and other things.
They asked for more marketing materials which got me into graphic design and more design to build their business websites. This, of course, led them to ask me to write the content that was needed on their websites. Finally, they typically asked for more control of their websites as well.
I started building websites using FrontPage and moved to WordPress to allow clients to have that control that they were after.
Moving to WordPress changed my business dramatically and I started growing rapidly. This growth led me to the information and resources within the communities that I am involved with and meeting all of you guys through iThemes, WPStudio, and OwnWP.
What kinds of services do you offer?
Responsive and mobile-ready web design, graphic design for web and print, and content writing for web and print. I have been writing since graduating from high school when I found myself writing for the engineers who were not able to write well.
I also offer web security packages and hosting, face to face education and training. and social media integration.
What makes you different from others in your industry?
I have the type of brain and personality that I have to know everything I can about anything I can. I have hundreds, if not thousands of hours of training since I started my business. I average 3-5 hours of training every week. I attend the training to keep myself current with the rapidly changing technology and because I love to learn.
I was a long time member of iThemes training, a founding member of WPStudio, and a founding and council member of OwnWP’s network of instructors, developers, and designers.
The best thing is that as my client’s and their businesses grow, so do I. I tell my client’s that if they don’t grow, I won’t either and my business has grown every year since I began.
What is more important to a website than good design? SECURITY
I educate my clients about direct attacks, indiscriminate attacks and access to their computers.
Strong security is only possible with strong hosting and smart developers. So, I go into depth about what we offer for hosting and security with my clients.
We dramatically improve website security by following a strict set of rules. We use a quality host, quality software, plugins, themes, and computer equipment. We pair that with a strong and reliable password manager.
I tell my clients that it is not IF you get hacked, it is more about how you can prevent an attack from being successful.
Who are your ideal clients?
Referrals from you…
- A friend that started a business not long ago and needs/wants a website but does not know where to start.
- A friend who may have a small website and wants more business and wants to be found by more people.
I help businesses grow.
- A friend with an eCommerce store or wants a new eCommerce store who wants a fresh, reimagined website with easier navigation and a simpler user experience for their shoppers.
- A friend with a website whose designer or developer has all but disappeared.
- A friend who has a free, cheap, or phone company website who has realized they cannot edit their own content, move their site, get calls back, or do as much as they would like to with their website.
What is your process after a website launch?
I provide 2 hours of WordPress introductory training to ensure my clients know how to use their website.
Clients have access to video tutorials for 6 months. I also provide a written user’s manual and a hosting and domain data sheet for them to keep.
I keep myself available to my clients in person, via email, phone, Skype or Zoom in case any issues arise. Typically, any issue taking more than 30 minutes is billable time but I am more than happy to assist with issues taking less than 30 minutes free of charge.
What types of websites do you build?
I build websites for a large variety of small businesses and do not limit myself to any particular niche.
I belong to a local BNI (Business Networking International) group. Every nine months, members each present to the other members to share what we do, who we are and why we do what we do. The presentations are designed to be educational information for the membership. Ideally they follow-up with me for one-on-one information and share my information with their circle of influence when they recognize other’s website needs.
The presentation that you all are seeing during this webinar is an example of my 10-minute presentation that I present to the BNI members.
I have been a BNI member since 2002 and it has been a huge networking and referral source for my business – powering 70-75% of my total business income throughout the years.
BNI groups do not allow duplicate services to be represented (like you may find in a Chamber of Commerce group) so I do not have any type of competition within the BNI group itself. Grotto is another similar type of group that will not permit duplicate Services.
Do you find that it typically takes a web disaster before members connect with you?
Sadly, yes that is true but thankfully, when those disasters strike, the member who has heard what I have shared, do think of me and recommend me to solve the problem for them.
Do you do all of your work yourself, or do you have VAs (Virtual Assistants)?
I have a team of people that work with me that I may bring in depending on the type of work needed. I have proofreaders, database people, developers, etc. that I can call on.
I have found these “specialty” people within these online networking groups – people like all of you here in OwnWP and other groups. All of you have helped me be able to do what I do and I would like to thank you for that.
What brought you to OwnWP?
I was originally introduced to OwnWP in the iThemes training chat discussion. OwnWP answered a need and provided a place to meet and discuss things beyond that of the iThemes training in a more generic environment.
What do you like best about OwnWP?
The discussions that are free-flowing and we are not trying to sell each other. We are not trying to sell a particular product or service. We are working together as a team. It is not based on a sale, it is based on the genuine need and the right one coming up – we all work with each other, we work together.
And that is one of the differences between this group and others – we’re not trying to sell anything.
What is it that you like best about being a freelancer?
A couple of different things…
I like to set my own hours. I am a very active grandma so I can stop work when I need to pick him up from school, help him with his homework, etc.
I get to take time to do what I want to do.
Freelancing has allowed me to evolve into what I have become
What is your favorite daily wear attire as a freelancer?
LuLaRoe leggings. I have a thing going on withLuLaRoe leggings. I love wearing the bright colorful patterned leggings. I might also wear a skort if it is super hot in the summer.
What does your office look like?
10 Xp 14 office painted in shades of melon. I choose melon because of the Feng Shui – it is supposed to be a good money color. I have 2 desks. One is set up for my ornamenting supplies.
I have recently started ornamenting. So much so that my accountant has encouraged me to build it into my business. I am now offering businesses branded ornaments with their logos for marketing purposes.
I have a lot of fun with the ornament making.
You’ve mentioned that creating ornaments is also a stress reliever for you. Can you explain that a bit?
Yes, it started out when I got stymied with a design. Whether it be that I could not come up with the actual setup or the colors are giving me fits, I used creating ornaments as a way to enhance my creativity. I used it as a way to clear my head.
Making the ornaments forced me to be able to turn my attention to only what was in my hand and not how something was going to react. It was the then and now. The more I worked with it, the more clear any issue I was having would be and the answer would come to light.
Then as life would have it – life happened. Stress mounted and continued to grow and go on and on and on. So, I turned to the ornaments as a stress reliever. If there were any week where I was turning out 3 or four ornaments, you knew would have been a pretty stressful week.
But creating the ornaments also showed a different side of me – a more tactile side of me compared to the website screen side of me. So, I was able to use all of those senses too.
Finally, my husband decided to retire without warning so my ornamenting went full scale and now I am working at making a business out of what was an ornament making hobby.
I have found there are many other women who are interested in learning how to do this and perhaps make a little from their side of things also so I decided to add it all under Virtually Everything.
I bring the ornaments to my BNI meeting too so that I can illustrate how I can take my knowledge of something on the web and turn it into something tactile. I can use my expertise in design, color, and texture and turn an ornament into a unique marketing item for them to use in their business. It is something that they can see in person, pick them up, hold them in their hands, and see their value.
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?
I garden on a quarter acre. I am responsible for the flowers and the trees. I leave the vegetables to my husband but the rest is mine.
I spend a lot of time canning as well. Tomato sauce, jams, apple butter, and such. Then I like to share them because what am I going to do with 30,000 jars of jam?
What is a dream you have that you’ve yet to achieve?
Have all the work that I need to keep myself and my co-hearts busy and supplied with enough income so that we can have time to do all the fun stuff that we all want to do.
I would love to travel and check out the wine region.
Basically just have enough income to not have to worry because by nature we all worry.
What’s one thing you’re excited about that is coming up in the WordPress freelance industry?
I am not sure I am excited about it but I am interested in seeing what Gutenberg brings to our WordPress industry.
How did you find your team? And what do you recommend to those who do not have a team do to start building their team?
I got interested while attending the different chats. I got to see how certain people worked – with their clients and how they worked with others around them.
By nature I am a helper and if you have a problem, I try to help you with that problem. I get to see how you relate to someone who is trying to teach you something and how you are able to teach someone and how you work with other people.
Then I see the skill sets. I always look at what others do similarly to me and what they do differently and I would make a note. I am a creative… I am NOT a database person.
I would look for specific database people. I work in WP only and prefer it that way. I would pay attention to who offered other things and how they helped people. It is all about talking to people and building that relationship. And it is NOT texting! Talking to people in person and via chat.
Ask and answer questions every opportunity that you have. It is the interaction that gets you noticed.
What are some of your favorite tools?
I am a big proponent of the Adobe Suite although I am starting to work with Affinity more often. Photoshop and Illustrator. A password manager (LastPass) is the best tool I can think of investing in because it keeps everything very very secure. I have used Genesis. I am no longer designing with iThemes because I am not liking the direction that their themes are NOT going in. I was doing a fair amount of work using Genesis and then started using Generate Press (GP) with Beaver Builder (BvB). The last year or so has been mostly GP and BvB.
I use the pro version of GP and BvB, the Ultimate Addon for BvB and the BvBPowerPack Addon, as well as the Themer. I find that this combination is currently the one that is working well for me.
For what are you most grateful today?
All of you! Honestly. I would not know what to do without those of you who have helped me get to where I am and can only hope I can return the favor.
I am thankful for the WP community. I am thankful for iThemes and what they provided me, but today, the most important thing is you! Thank you for being here and thank you for listing to me.
If you had to choose only 3 adjectives to describe yourself, which would you choose?
Grateful, thankful, and a little bit Quirky.
Here is what others said were some adjectives they would use to describe Barbara:
generous, caring, creative, fun, humorous, great cook!
What is one thing that you hope others can take away from this webinar?
Many of you know that I am retirement age and this is my retirement job.
Never ever let age stop you.
I learn something new every single day and when people tell me I can’t I say BS! The only thing that can stop you is you. I, myself, just keep on going… if this is what I want to do, then I am going to learn how to do it and I am going to make it work for me.
Never take someone else’s answers. Make your own answers – that is what you walk away with.
Presenter Bio: Barbara Rowen
Barbara Rowen is a freelancer that simply knows too much to be just a creative and is known to her tech friends as a wanna-geek.
She owns Virtually Everything - she is a web designer, graphic designer, content writer… virtually everything a small business needs to get out on the web.
Barbara’s passion to learn more than she needs to know, lead her to be a leader in self-marketing and new technologies allowed her to share her expertise with clients.