Updates25 May, 2017

At the tipping point

Some of you might already know that about 11 months ago and have been living out of a tent while I develop the farm for guest accommodation and growing my own food / raising my own animals. During that time I've managed to get by on a few freelance gigs here and there, but it's gotten to the point where I am struggling to keep things going more often than not and as such, it's time for me to make a plan once and for all.

To some this may seem as a complete departure from my work designing and building for the web, but in truth it's only the first step in my mission to live a more balanced lifestyle. I've been chasing the dream of making it big on the web for twelve odd years and while there have been successes along the way, the have been as many failures (and setbacks) - which after a while take their toll. It got to the point of everything falling apart in my life to realise I needed to make a drastic change and drastic change it has been.

This doesn't mean I'm done with web-design, or that I'll be focussing all my energy on the farm. In an ideal world, I'd split my time between working on ThemeButler and moving forward with the farm.

Living off-grid, with no electricity or water has been a challenge at times, but so far I haven't come across a challenge I haven't been to solve. Actually, that's not entirely true. There has been one challenge that keeps rearing it's ugly head - the continuous lack of funds needed to develop the farm and get by.

This is mostly due to a very inconsistent work schedule, with there often going weeks where I don't have any work lined up. As a result I often find myself stuck on the farm with no fuel to go anywhere, no funds to work from the local coffee shop and varying degrees of food.

All of this has me thinking about possible solutions and while I have a few ideas I'm working through, the most obvious one would be to capitalise on the projects I already have established. This is where you guys come in.

Being that my passion for WordPress is very much tied to Beans (a sentiment I'm guessing many of you share), the obvious solution would be to either:

1.) Offer Beans related services

Either in the form of a design to conversion service (you provide your design or existing site and I create a c, sponsored content (screencasts, tutorials, etc), 1-on-1 mentoring (I need help with xyz), etc.

Here is a list of potential tutorials / screencasts I could create, if there were members of the Beans Community willing to sponsor the time it takes to do so:

  • Custom plugin for non-theme related stuff
  • Pro theme setup
  • Overriding parent themes
  • Adding fields to the customizer
  • Customizing the WP admin for clients
  • Post-launch performance tweaks
  • Custom front-end forms
  • Adding fields to pages
  • Adding option pages
  • Repeatable field groups
  • Adding a parallax hero
  • Advanced customization of the single post layout
  • Customizing the comments layout
  • Working with custom post types
  • Default WP setup
  • Working with WooCommerce
  • Add a login / register overlay
  • Working with UIkit
  • Practical examples using the Beans Markup API
  • Digging further into the Image API
  • Customizing the front-end markup

If this is something you guys would be interested in, I'll setup a separate section on the ThemeButler site for tutorials and make it easy to sponsor any of the listed articles, or suggest a topic of your own.

2.) Start selling commercial Beans themes

I've had quite a few people suggest this option and I must admit until now it's one I've disregarded almost vehemently. This is mostly due to it being a complete contradiction to my original goal for the site (give everything away for free and monetise through theme sponsorships). The only catch with this option is it doesn't help my current financial predicament now, as I'd still need time (and thus funds) to create the first commercial offering. I guess this would be my very last resort, but I'd be interested to know what you guys think regardless.

3.) Get a job

Another option would be to find a remote gig (probably for an agency), but that would mean I'd have less time available to move forward with ThemeButler. I think with the right team and maybe part time to start (allowing me to still work on TB), this is an option I'd seriously consider as it's been a while since I've had a reliable stream of income coming in.

What do you guys think? Would any of you be interested in any of the services mentioned above, or sponsoring a specific tutorial or screencast? Or maybe something else I might not have thought of? Please share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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  1. I suggest 1 and 2. I don't know your cost of living on a farm, but actively picking up freelance work (for Beans) should help with your funds.

    The community seems like it is growing. I, for one, have not used any other frameworks since I discovered Beans. I think there is a niche right now for adding "WordPress Beans, Beans Framework" and other related tags on freelance sites (UpWork, Fiver).

    If you build a Beans theme, I believe it will sell itself. Look at the PageSpeed score Beans gets... you can compare that metric to some of the top themes out there, tie it to SEO, and bam. (It's what I do for my clients).

    Another idea would be to create some Uikit(v2) customized packs so users can build beans with a different uikit style other than default, gradient, and almost flat.

    • Hi Kamron,

      All great ideas - thanks! I have a few themes in the works, based on the freemium model - so base theme free and a paid upgrade to the pro version (more features and customization).

      I've actually been quite busy with freelance work and have another side project (focused on WordPress tuts) which should help drive the freelance work on the side.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your ideas!

  2. I really like the idea of tutorials. These ones seem really useful:

    * Practical examples using the Beans Markup API
    * Customizing the WP admin for clients
    * Default WP setup

    In regards to time sponsorship from the community, what sort of contributions are you looking for? If you're making the tutorials how would others help?

    • Hi Kevin 🙂 My thinking was to create a tutorials landing page on the site, that lists all the current tuts and all the others I've been planning, then let anyone sponsor a specific tutorial (priced at $300). Whoever sponsors the tutorial would get credits above and below the tutorial content.

      I actually got my first tutorial sponsorship this week and the tutorial they selected is the Customizing the WP Admin, so you're in luck!

  3. Speaking as a newbie to wordpress theme development (and coding in general), tutorials are always welcome! Have you considered signing up as a teacher on Udemy? I got started on Webdev with Rob Percival's course, and it gave me the confidence and base to explore this very large world. There are several wordpress development / theme development courses on there already, but none I could find on Beans, and none on frameworks other than Genesis basics. The only trouble with udemy is you have to create the content before you can sell it, and courses like Rob's have a list price of $200 but everyone waits to get them on sale for $15, so you have to have enough people buying it to make it worthwhile for you. Alternatively, I've noticed a few other theme developers have a "paid club" with a yearly membership fee that allows you to receive help on their free themes.
    Best of luck with everything, and thank you for cofounding Beans!

    • Hi Savvy, Thanks for stopping by 🙂 I have thought about creating a course on Beans, though it's slightly lesser down the list, just due to the amount of time it would take to do properly. I have been throwing the idea around of trying a crowd funding campain to keep me going while I work on it, but haven't quite decided yet. I'm also pretty busy with client at the mo, so it's going to have be on the back-burner (for the time being at least).

  4. get on Fiverr or Craig's, reply and grab any old crap WP posting/editing job, to keep yourself going.
    Start a 'Gofundme' type page, add to Beans site and themebutler as exit pop = on exit, ask for retweet or refacebook or $1....

    everything helps, right?

    • Hi Blake,

      Every bit helps indeed, thankfully I've got a nice steady stream of consulting coming in, which has been keeping me going (and busy!). I should have a bit of a gap in the coming weeks, so hopefully I'll get a chance to do some more updates on the site and blog 🙂

  5. Chris,
    Beans is a very good framework. I suggest you to create tutorials on Building themes with this framework, and you charge people for viewing the tutorials and access to the code.

    • Hi TC, while tuts is definitely on the radar, I'd prefer to the keep the content open and freely available, hence the idea for the sponsored tuts. It might eventually come to putting the tuts behind a paywall, but that would really be a last resort 🙂

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