How to Start an Automated Freelance Business With Service Plans, Order Forms and WordPressJust last night I rolled out my new freelance service plans and a great automated system behind it that sells those services as products and directs my customers to an order form to complete the process.

I’ve also added different layers of customization services where the value of my skills as a web designer + developer can make my clients blog stand out further once it’s up and running.

In this post, I want to show you the tools I used to create this system and the mindset that lead me to its creation.

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Last night I made a declaration that really helped me put my life into perspective. That declaration was about what really mattered the most in my life and I had to be brutally honest about what those things are.

There are things from my past life that I haven’t been able to let go of that I have been holding me back in ways I never cared to acknowledge.

I can’t say what triggered these revelations but I’d like to try and start making sense of some things by talking about this quote I read earlier that day:

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Everyone is becoming an entrepreneur these days. Such a loaded word can mean so many different things to people, but the constant that remains true in any definition is simply:

You need to put in the work.

Entrepreneurs work long hours for themselves so they don’t have to work fewer for somebody else.

Entrepreneurs live their lives like nobody will so one day they can live their lives like nobody can.

These mantras personify what it means to be an entrepreneur and sound great when you have no other way of describing what you do to “normal” people, but what is it that makes an entrepreneur truly different?

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Last night I was working on styling comments in the upcoming version of Marketers Delight and I discovered something that’s always been a curiosity in the back of my mind.

If you’re familiar with the WordPress comments system, you’ve more than likely styled author comments by targeting the bypostauthor class WordPress automatically outputs to author comments.

This class is very useful as you can write custom CSS to make an author comment look different from everyone else’s comments. For example, you could change the background or border color to make it stand out a little more.

The problem is, it’s just CSS. If you wanted to do something like add a text badge next to the author’s comment that says something like “Post Author”, you’d either have to write a bunch of pseudo CSS or write some strange PHP (I’ve Googled this, and there aren’t any *great* answers).

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Quick note, this plugin is also included and updated with bonus features in my WordPress theme + plugin package, Marketers Delight. Check it out for even better email form control.

Building an email list is one of the most rewarding and challenging things of building a business. I’ve had a few lists of my own over the years and know both of those sides very well.

The rewarding side is that you can easily keep in touch with people who follow you and build a reach. Having an email list is a colossal asset to anybody trying to promote themselves and their work.

But with great rewards come great challenges. You know building an email list takes time and dedication — especially to build a quality one. You know that strategically designing and placing a form can make or break conversion rates.

You know these things, but before you can even get there, you have to add the actual email forms to your website first. And that’s usually a pretty confusing, problematic step.

This is the problem I wanted to address with my new plugin.

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If you ask me, there’s never been a more exciting time to get into the premium WordPress theme business than right now.

As WordPress grows closer and closer as a collaborative community and more plugin shops open with exciting new business models, the demand for simple themes that integrate with these plugins will skyrocket.

Here’s my thought process…

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Original ideaThe world is a much techier place, and has sparked a gold rush in the online business world.

As I’m sitting here in a coffee shop writing this post, I can’t help but notice the amount of people writing code or drafting new blog posts on their laptops.

I live in Austin, Texas, which is a huge tech city, so this is a pretty common sight anyway.

Yet I can’t stop thinking back to even just a few years ago when it was more of a surprise to run into somebody else coding or blogging. Now it’s just business as usual.

I’ve been in online business for about 6 years and have watched my numbers on social media, my email list and total amount of customers grow.

But being in this coffee shop today and actually witnessing this small group of people working on their laptops gave me a new kind of perspective about just how many people are trying to make a name for themselves out there. It was a much more impactful visual than seeing some of my own numbers.

I saw real people who do what I do.

As I sat back, all I could think is “how the hell am I supposed to stand out?”

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My first WordPress pluginBig news! I submitted my first free plugin to the WordPress plugins directory. I’ve been working with WordPress for about 6 years, and have made tons of stuff with it… but I’ve never released a plugin.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent hours digging through the plugins directory in amazement at how many free plugins there are to choose from.

…You’ve also probably left it a few times frustrated, wishing you could have found what you were looking for.

In a nutshell, that’s why I learned how to develop for WordPress: so when I couldn’t find what I needed elsewhere, I could just build it myself.

But it never crossed my mind that I could actually contribute to the plugins directory myself, and give back to the community a little bit. So I made a simple plugin and got it approved! I learned a few valuable lessons along the way, too.

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A New Direction in WordPress ThemesSince 2012, Kolakube has been known as a leading provider of skins for the Thesis framework (back when you could still call it that). In Marketers Delight, I had created arguably the most popular and powerful premium Thesis skin ever.

Alongside Marketers Delight, I created a few other popular skins that helped get my name out there, and helped a lot of people build amazing websites. When Thesis 2 came out, I raced to rebuild Marketers Delight and release it. It was another huge success.

But something just didn’t feel right about the direction I was headed…

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