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I published one of these last year and thought I’d carry it forward this year as well.
How did we do on the goals we set forth for the year?
- Redo our online portfolio: check!
- Keep up on exercise: check! Still working with Age Performance, still going to Fluid Heart Yoga classes and this year Steve and I both took up Antigravity Yoga.
This year’s wrap up:
- We had another record year—we did more projects with more clients and brought in more people to help us out than ever before.
- With more work came better tools, this is what helped us get through the year:
- New Retina MacBook Pros, a flock of Thunderbolt displays and all the new iPads (retinas and mini).
- Corporate Alliance — it’s a networking group I belong to. I’m a total evangelist.
- Things — daily to-do list stuff.
- ProjectFlow — tracking high level projects
- Stride App — our sales funnel CRM
- Omniplan — planning software
- Adobe Bridge — been kicking this around for like 10 years now, but have only just realized how awesome it is for organizing purchased stock, UI elements and icons.
- Citefast — helpful for all the sources in my book.
- Instapaper — for when you see an article you want to process later.
- Evernote — of course, old fav, but we also love the new paper notebooks.
- Google Docs — meeting notes, change logs, it’s all in here.
- Dropbox — files shared with clients and consultants
- Shutterstock — it’s like crack for designers if you can swallow the price tag.
- Of note — there are somethings that didn’t make it and we’ve cut them out. Hootsuite is gone (we don’t do as much social media and I read you were being penalized for third-party posts on some sites); CapsuleCRM (replaced with Stride App), Our Client Access Sites (Dropbox and Google Docs get the job done better, faster and easier).
- I wrote a book about our mobile app experiences (expanding on the presentation I mentioned in last year’s post). Building a Mobile App: A Resource Guide for Clients & Corporations is out on Amazon now. I worked with a great marketing firm that helped this take off like wildfire—600 copies out the door in a few days and landing a spot on the Amazon Best Seller list.
- We did more responsive sites—the SOS Employement Group one is one of our favorites.
- We did more mobile apps—check those out here.
- We bought a frickin’ laser. So far I’ve made turkey placecards for Thanksgiving dinner — so those run about $1000 each until I can amortize my projects coming out of it.
Some goals for 2013:
We aren’t totally nailed down on things right now, but we are looking towards:
- Bringing down the costs of apps, increasing profits— you’ve heard me say it a hundred times… apps are way more expensive than websites. There are so many ancillary pieces that the price necessarily goes up. The problem for us is that we are charging more and making less — nobody wants that. Here are some ways we’re going to look at streamlining:
- Better processes in place to take care of all the ancillary stuff.
- Bring more of the dev back in-house, we’ll still work with additional developers, but the more we can setup before we bring someone else in the less we have to discuss in revisions (things like — yes, the color really should be the same color that was in the mockup…).
- Figure out a better way to preview apps with clients—the app dev process is so painfully long that you spit out something weeks or months later and the client may say, “I thought this would work differently”. Enter costly dev changes. It’s just not HTML, it’s just not that easy.
- Keep the exercise time. People, we need to move. Exercise isn’t about weight loss, it’s about mental focus, mood and preventing injury. We plan to continue what we have been doing.
- Stay small, stay nimble, stay true. We were asked by several clients this year if we could please just add a few more people to the company. At our high point we had four full time people and five more part timers. We love the people we work with and plan to continue working with all of them…but at our core we set out to change how a design/tech company runs and services clients. And that isn’t through status meetings, time sheet hounding and the other trappings we left behind. We do plan to clarify some of our values and communicate them better to anyone that comes onto a project with us.
What sort of things are you planning to do in 2013?
We are looking for a developer that can help us fix a bug on a Facebook App we built (and have not yet released). If you know the Facebook API this might be a good gig for you.
If you think you can help, and can complete this by mid-January 2013, please contact us. You must be located in the United States, located in Utah is a plus, located in Salt Lake City gets you cookies delivered with your payment.
How it Works
A Facebook user visits the app and chooses an image and adds their own text. There is some basic formatting they can choose. The user then publishes the final image/text and it goes to :
- their Facebook Timeline
- our client’s Facebook Page
- the carousel on the Facebook App homepage.
The interface is finished and works beautifully. It’s built with PHP, CSS and jQuery. When the user posts the photo it goes to a hidden album in their Facebook Profile. We did this because there is no way to add a photo without putting it in an album, and we didn’t want users to have an album floating around with a single image.
When the photo publishes to the cleint’s Facebook Page it makes a copy of it on a server they have as a flattened photo (so the text is now part of the image). This is what is posted on the client’s Facebook Page and the Facebook App homepage.
The client immediately receives an email that someone has posted a photo and they can take action if it’s inappropriate. This part is also working.
How it Doesn’t Work (what we need you to fix)
It works great as long as the person using it is the person who set it up or an admin on both the app and page.
If another user tries to use it the Facebook permission stuff blows up. We had to change the include-auth.php to get around a ”Refused to display document because display forbidden by X-Frame-Options.” error that some browsers liked to throw when trying to redirect.
We _think_ it has something to do with the redirect URL (we’ve tried a variety of things in there) and/or the canvas URL set up in the app setup but that’s about as far as I’ve had time to get to.
Can you fix it?
We have more documentation, all the source code and some test accounts you can use. Please contact us if you think you can fix it and/or want to take a closer look.
This project will be fixed bid (so you must supply a total price for fixing it) and has to be wrapped up mid-January. We anticipate this will be a few hours work, it’s a bug fix only on a simple app.
As promised, here is my quick round up of how to write and publish a book.
Just Get Started
Seriously, just start. Get Evernote, or use Google Dos and write pieces of the book as they come to you. Some days you will just make a list, other days you’ll write a few chapters, just get it all out there. I did this for about a year before my first book became a reality.
Once you are ready to get your outline together and pull the trigger you are going to sprint to the finish line. Don’t let this ruin your life. Get. It. Done.
Get Your Outline Together
Once you feel ready to get serious — write your outline. You’ll know after this what you still need to write and where your book is headed.
This is an article that helped me finally make the leap and get serious › He has a lot of say on the matter in different posts.
From your outline you’ll complete your first draft. You will be on top of the world! You’ll fell like you are almost done! You will tell everyone that it will release in a few weeks! You will be a liar! You are now… 2/5ths finished? 1/10th? This is where it got tough for me.
Send your book off to someone to proof and edit it. Hire it done or get someone you trust to call you on your crap to do this. Thank you Karen for your time and talent here.
Design and Editing
While your book is being proofed start designing it. Chapters, charts, icons, all of that. This just about killed me — and I’m a designer! I had to call in Kira to help out and I cannot thank her enough for her hours on this. Again, hire this done and have someone help you — right now you need some distance from your book.
Once you have the design styles — add in your newly edited copy and start reading it again. If you’ve given yourself enough distance between the first draft — editing/proofing/design — and this new formatted draft you’ll see your book with new eyes and be able to be objective in your updates. Get all your updates in and then send it through the Create Space process and order a physical proof.
The first thing you will see back from Create Space is a proof version. An ACTUAL BOOK! A PHYSICAL THING that came from your MIND (thank you Karen for that phrase). Suddenly you will hold it and you will think, “what was I thinking with this thing here?”. I cannot stress enough how the change from digital to physical will give you another fresh perspective on it. Keep editing and ordering proofs until you are happy.
I honestly wasn’t going to do this. I wanted to write a book, maybe sell 100 copies and go on my merry way. And then I met Dave Hendrickson — he launches products, and he took my book and ran with it.
After all you’ve put in to write, design, edit and publish a book, push it as far as it will go. Here is a quick overview of the elements of my book marketing:
- Author Website
- Amazon Author Page
- Book Website
- Video on Book Website
- Sign up for App Planning Blueprint on book website
- Launch Party
- Press Releases (thanks to Melissa at Red Queen Book Arts for her help on the last two)
And a whole bunch of behind the scenes SEO, price adjustments, etc, etc. Seriously, just hire Dave to take care of this for you.
The 6 Hard Lessons I Learned
- You need a team. I needed an editor, a designer and a marketer to pull this off. And of course my partner Steve. I’m DIY to the bone, and more than capable of doing all of this myself—but it would have never happened.
- Amazon’s services are not very interrelated. I now have different accounts with:
- Amazon – regular old shopping/customer account.
- Amazon Affiliates – for revenue and link tracking
- Author Central – for my profile page
- Look Inside the Book – for that preview on the paperback
- Create Space – for the publishing
- KDP – for publishing on Kindle
- Everything will take just a little longer than you think. From editing to waiting for your proof approval, proof printing, author page, kindle edition, blah blah blah. Things I assumed would be instant had 5-7 days lead time. Oh, and don’t fix a quick typo and reupload your book before launch — it marked mine on Amazon as “out of print” for a few hours, thankfully just a few hours though.
- Don’t write a book if you want to make money. Ok, maybe this will change in the future, but I think at this point I’d need to sell like 2 million copies to break even. That’s an exaggeration, but the time and money I’ve spent on this endeavor will only be recouped in other related ways—more/better app projects, additional book revenue, speaking engagements, etc.
- Get it out the door. Your own project is painful, it will never be what you want it to be, it will never be finished, the cover will never be what Kira envisions, it just won’t — but you have to let go and get it done. Suffer over new ideas and the next big thing—don’t die over a typo.
- Only have one version. I wanted to release a color version (deluxe), but it made the book more expensive than I would like, so I released the black/white (standard) and then the Kindle. There are now three files to try to keep sync’d. The thing I’ll do next is drop the deluxe version and then redo the InDesign file to work for both the printed and Kindle edition so there is only ever one master file.
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about our time management and organizing skills. This is my productivity and Things buddy, so this is an ongoing (five years now? more?) conversation with us. I mentioned a site I like, :zenhabits and told him I’d pull some of my favorite posts for him.
Focus on intentional living. Why do you clean up the kitchen? For me it’s to have a clean, clutter-free, space. This make me feel relaxed and happy when I walk through. Cleaning with this intention in mind infuses the process with love and gratitude. When was the last time you cleaned your kitchen (or any number of chores) with that mindset?
- Eva’s List: Traveling Light for Women
- 16 Essential Tips for Traveling with a Family
- Teaching Kids to Pack Ultralight
These are all around packing ultra-light which is a new interest of mine. I hate to pack, to a painful level. My best friend tries to help me on Skype, my husband alternates between trying to help and clearing out to let me work through this. I come from a family of over-packers. I’m getting closer to this and it makes the prospect of traveling more appealing.
- Clutterfree Inspiration: Two Beautiful Transformations
- How to Have the Best Year of Your Life (without Setting a Single Goal)
- the best goal is no goal
No goals, do less. Sounds like it’s against everything we’ve been taught (and against everything us Type-A people strive for). This has helped me focus. There are a thousand things I want to do everyday, ways to make my business better, ways to make your business better, ways to make my life better (hell, ways to make your life better). I decided to focus instead.
I’ve always wanted to do a triathlon. An opportunity came up to train and race with someone I really admire (and she’s in my age bracket to boot!). I wanted to jump right on it, and I did for about half a day. And then I realized that it was taking time away from the other thing I’m focusing on (I’m writing a book due out in September). I reigned myself in maintain focus, cross one thing off my list and then choose the next.
This is an interesting way to communicate.