I had a great time presenting today at WordCamp Minneapolis on the topic of Selling Premium WordPress Plugins. Thanks for the great feedback everyone!
When we started homeschooling our kids last fall my wife bought an electric pencil sharpener. We had one around the house early in our marriage that was eventually sold at a garage sale or given away. Now the kids are learning how to write so it’s a very useful tool to have around.
When we bought the sharpener I pulled it out of its box and plugged it in. I tested it out with a pencil and remembered the whirr that happens as the pencil is being cut to a point. Since I was starting a new pencil it took several seconds to get it down to where the lead was sharp and ready for use. During those seconds I remember thinking how the sound of sharpening is soothing and hypnotic.
Sharpening Feels Good But Is Not The End Goal
In his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Steven Covey names the 7th habit “Sharpening the Saw.” Mr. Covey talks about the importance of taking time to renew your resources (energy, health, spirit, knowledge) to allow for more long-term success and effectiveness.
I sometimes find myself hypnotized by the whirr of my own self-enrichment. This year I joined two membership sites that have given me some great knowledge and advice. The Micropreneur Academy is a paid course for learning ways to develop and launch product ideas. The lessons on marketing and testing out ideas are very useful to me since these are areas that I don’t have very much experience.
The other community I joined is Platform University. This membership is useful for my wife and I as a couple since the information is useful to both of us as we build our areas of influence – or platforms. The Master Classes and Membership Makeovers have helped us hone our message and focus on how we communicate.
Both of these communities have provided great value to me, but I also need to remember that being learning new skills isn’t the end of the story. Real success will come not by completing a training class but with applying what was learned in the marketplace.
Don’t Mistake Sharpening For Real Work
Although the act of sharpening a pencil can feel like productive work it doesn’t produce anything. Eventually you need to write something. A handful of sharpened pencils may look neat and uniform, but the pencil lead was meant to scar paper, not sit idle in a cup.
Sharpening your skills by reading blog posts and doing tutorials may feel like productive work, but in the end it doesn’t benefit you unless those skills are applied to something. The knowledge I learn must be applied to a product that is useful to someone.
Be Sharp, Be Useful
The idea of being useful to others has been highlighted in my mind for a few days now. A sharpened pencil is useful because it helps you to write more precisely than a dull pencil. A sharpened saw is useful because it helps you cut better. In my case to be useful I need to be applying my skills to writing blogs, writing code and building products.
I need to remember that the time comes when the sharpener needs to be put away and it’s time for the real work to be done.
How about you? How do you sharpen your skills? Do you get caught continually learning and not applying what you learned?
What is Pressgram you ask? Pressgram is an iPhone image sharing app in development that will allow users to share filtered photos directly to hosted WordPress blogs. This allows the content creators to retain 100% of the rights while still having great functionality.
When this project was announced at WordCamp Atlanta it immediately resonated with me. I actually told the guy behind the project, John Saddington, that I was going to back the project while attending WCAtl.
Instagram: All Ur Data Are Belong To Us
Like many others I quickly exported my data and quit Instagram when they changed their Terms of Service. I didn’t like the attitude of another behemoth social network pulling the privacy rug out from under customers. Even though they later somewhat recanted the damage was done and I don’t want to invest my time and energy on content that will be held hostage on a platform that I don’t pay money for (read: have some control over).
Since leaving Instagram I’ve tried using Flickr’s app which is a good app. But, I still have the lingering reluctance of putting my content on someone else’s service. I currently share photo content via Cloud app, but I don’t actively share pictures of my family, friends, or things I’m doing. I hadn’t lost the desire to share photos, but I have run out of mental energy to want to keep up with the data privacy issues.
It’s The Data Silly
My wife Amanda and I have had numerous discussions about where our data goes and who has control of it. We love the ubiquity of cross-device productivity apps, but hate that the usefulness of these apps is often tainted by proprietary data formats or locked down storage areas.
The only app we use that has bucked this trend is the Day One app. It’s a digital journal that has an iphone app and a native Mac app. It has a great feature set and is well developed. The feature that sold me on this app over the others is that all the data is shared to my Dropbox account in an XML format. Now my wife and I can both add data without fear of our information being sold or misused in some way yet to be dreamed up by a marketing executive.
Reserve The Right To Reserve The Rights
Just like I can control the data of my Day One journal, with Pressgram I’ll be able to control my photos. I will be able to post my photos to, my blog, and share them where I want. Call me a control freak, but that’s not too much to ask. An added bonus is that I’ll be able to have the pageviews and analytics that I could never retain at Instagram.
Here’s a video explaining more about Pressgram. If the idea behind this app resonates with you then I encourage you to back it at Kickstarter!
A quick gist showing how to change the number of up sell thumbnails to display on the product page for WooCommerce 2.0.
I’ll be I’m excited to get to combine several firsts on this trip – first time to Minnesota, first time speaking at a WordCamp, first time attending a BuddyCamp, and possibly first time meeting Dave Yankowiak (come on down Dave!).
My talk is currently titled “Creating and Selling Premium WordPress Plugins” and I’ll be sharing about the process of selling plugins including coming up with the idea, coding, marketing, selling and support.
The talk is currently slated in the “School of Business” and advanced level. I’m looking forward to meeting a bunch of new people and attending several of the other talks on the schedule.
If you will be attending WordCamp Minneapolis let me know!