Taking The Cake

 

I didn’t take the cake.

You’ve heard the phrase, “You really take the cake.” But you can’t apply that to me.

When it first became apparent that Charlie could not go to daycare because of his special needs, and thusly I could not get a job, welfare and foodstamps and charity were suddenly thrust upon us.

I went to the special needs office in West Des Moines, Iowa and there was a special area set up with donations from local merchants. There were cakes from Hy-Vee – the local supermaket. There was a really pretty cake that I knew Charlie would love. It was free for me to take.

But I knew, in my heart and without a doubt, that if I took something from that table – I would be defining us. Defining us to me, and to the city and the state and the universe – as a charity case. I just couldn’t do it.

I left that cake on the table, went and bought an espresso from Starbucks that I could not afford, and proceeded to hunt for work on Craig’s List – anything I could do from home that would pay.

That is how my business was born – from little WordPress jobs on Craig’s List. Because I would not settle.

And because I did not take the cake.

 

Say Goodbye to the TweetMeme Button and Hello to the Offical Tweet Button From Twitter
August 12, 2010 by Sherry Dedman · Leave me a comment!
Filed under: Twitter 

Yes, it’s actually true – The TweetMeme button is going away. Gasp! That’s ok, though. It’s actually being replaced by a similar (slightly improved) OFFICIAL Tweet button from Twitter!

If you like your Tweet button “plugin-style,” you can get it from Share This. They are partnering with Twitter for the launch of the new Tweet button.

Tweetmeme to Twitter

If you’re wondering whether this was a hostile takeover, the answer is “no.” It’s very amicable, and there is benefit to both companies. You can read what TweetMeme has to say about it, and then go check out what Twitter has to say. You can also watch an interview with Nick Halstead, founder of TweetMeme (and now DataSift), conducted by Robert Scoble.

The interview provides a good explanation of why this shift took place. It was to facilitate the creation of DataSift, which Nick Halstead describes as “Track on steroids”.

This is all very interesting, and there is already a lot of good info out there. Tons of big sites have already integrated the new Tweet button, such as Youtube, Gawker Media, CNN.com and more.

But as a web developer specializing in WordPress, my big question is, what will happen to this: TweetMeme Plugin for WordPress? Will TweetMeme still develop it? When will it integrate with the new Twitter Tweet button? Or will Twitter take it over and/or make a new one? The TweetMeme plugin is excellent, easy to install and works virtually flawlessly. I hope that will remain the case!

Follow SherryDedman on Twitter

Twitter’s Cool ‘Rushmore’ Recruiting Video
August 9, 2010 by Sherry Dedman · Leave me a comment!
Filed under: Twitter 

If you like Twitter and you like the movie ‘Rushmore’, you’re bound to love Twitter’s recruiting video! It’s based on that musical montage scene in ‘Rushmore’ that illustrates all the different clubs Max has started or leads. In case it’s not obvious, Twitter is hiring! Check it out:

Top Ten Awesome Things About Being A Work At Home Mom
November 10, 2009 by Sherry Dedman · 2 Comments
Filed under: WAHM 

Being a work at home mom has its challenges and drawbacks, but for the most part, it’s really the best job I’ve ever had. Here are my top ten reasons why being a WAHM is awesome!

10. I can load & start the dishwasher on my morning break
 9. I can easily work “overtime” after the kid goes to bed
 8. If a procedure or policy isn’t working, I can change it without going through any red tape
 7. My watercooler is Twitter :) (Shout out to my Twitter Peeps!)
 6. I can listen for the mailman, then go get any checks from clients out of the mailbox, take them to the bank, run a few errands and get lunch to bring home
 5. I can do my work at Starbucks for a few hours if I want to
 4. I can start dinner cooking on my afternoon break
 3. I can go pick up my son if he is sick at school without apologizing and genuflecting all over the place to boss & co-workers, then just make up the work later that day
 2. I’m there to do my son’s homework with him the instant he gets home from school
 1. Including what would otherwise be commute time and times when he is off school for holidays, teacher days etc., I probably get to spend an average of 20 hours per week more with my son than I would if I worked full time in an office!

Those are some great reasons – my top 10. I really think this arrangement allows a much more even balance to work/family, something that women, especially, struggle with.

What are your reasons for why you love being a Work At Home Mom or why you would like to? Leave me a comment & let’s talk about it! :)

5 Resources For Work At Home Moms
November 4, 2009 by Sherry Dedman · Leave me a comment!
Filed under: WAHM Resources 

As a Work At Home Mom, I find myself in need of certain things usually only available if you work in an office or have a lot of extra capital to work with. I have to keep my overhead as low as possible just to stay afloat, so I use free online resources wherever I can.

Here are five resources that I virtually could not work without, in no particular order. (I am not affiliated with any of these sites or resources.)

1. PDF OnlinePDF Online is a free, online PDF convertor. I use it for creating PDF files of Word documents that I want to be “static” (unchangeable by the person receiving it), such as business proposals, contracts, etc. I also use it when I need to sign a document and send it back to someone. I sign the document, scan it, save it as a jpg, and then use PDF Online to convert it to a pdf file and e-mail it back to the party who needs it. It’s intuitive, easy to use and I’ve found it to be very reliable.

2. Google Docs – I use Google Docs primarily for creating invoices. There are many templates to choose from, you can archive all your old invoices and you can export it as a pdf file for easy sending to the client. There is also a document sharing feature you can use when you need to share a large number of documents with a client or vice-versa.

3. AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) – I use AOL Instant Messenger for consulting and communicating with clients about projects. I don’t hear very well on the phone, and chatting online is often easier than a phone conversation anyway, because you often need to check a file or a part of the site or an online resource. It’s really easy to just shoot someone a link or a file while chatting online with them, and it also creates a “to do” list to refer to so that I don’t forget anything after the conversation is over.

4. WordPressWordPress, of course, is especially key to my business, since blog and WordPress Help is 98% of my business. Even if it weren’t, I would still build my website using WordPress because of its extensibility, expandability, blogging capabilities, plugins and built-in SEO readiness. It makes creating and updating a website so much easier, and makes interaction with clients and potential clients that much easier through comments, contact forms, etc.

5. Email – Email might sound like a given, but it all depends on how you use your e-mail. Utilized correctly, your inbox can help you be more organized, efficient and save you time. I use my inbox like a “to-do list.” I make sure that clients outline each task they want me to do in e-mail so that a) I can give an accurate estimate and b) make sure each item they want completed is done. Additionally, outlining projects via e-mail creates a “paper trail” if there are ever any conflicts or questions about what was to be done, when it was to be done, etc. It’s a CYA kind of thing. I personally make sure to get an e-mail with what the client wants done in their own words in an email from them to me.

That’s it. Five online resources for this Work At Home Mom. I hope this list comes in handy for someone else as well. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Dead Car Battery + iPhone + Twitter = 1 Weird Hour
August 29, 2009 by Sherry Dedman · 3 Comments
Filed under: Twitter 

Twitter Car Battery Saga

Twitter Car Battery Saga

It’s always fun to pop into the grocery store for four minutes, then come back out, get in your car, turn, the key, and hear “click, click, click, click…” Oh boy, dead battery. Better call AAA! That’s what happened to me the other day. Only I didn’t just call the number on the card and sit and wait.

I do have AAA, but I didn’t have my card with me that day, so I used the Safari web browser on my iPhone to look up the phone number. I called and reported my location, etc. Then while I was waiting, I Twittered!

But not just about random stuff. I asked if anyone knew how much car batteries run these days. I was pretty sure I needed a new one, but I hadn’t bought one in a long time. The AAA representative on the phone said that the person they were sending out could test my battery and sell me a new one and replace it for me if I wanted. I thought that was a pretty cool deal as long as I could be sure I wouldn’t be gouged!

I got helpful replies from @enjaysauce, @HaDAk and even @AAAauto. @enjaysauce and @HaDAk told me about how much they run, which I really wanted to know right at that moment. And @AAAauto told me a tech could test my battery and sell me a new one and install it for me, if I so desired. I already knew that, but it was nice to see them on Twitter, checking in on their members!

When the tech got there he ran some diagnostics and, sure enough, I needed a new battery. There was corrosion on one of the posts, and he said my battery should have lasted longer than it did. Who knows why it didn’t, but it was a goner and needed to be replaced. The corrosion was just a symptom of some bigger problem with the battery.

So he proceeded to change out my battery, but there was a complication. The corrosion had eaten through the contact that attaches to the post of the battery that carries the charge to the engine. So he very carefully peeled off the contact, which he said was breaking in half like carboard (I believe him, I was watching – in fact, here is a picture!)

Totally Grody Corrode-y Car Battery!


Fortunately he had one of those on his truck as well, and was able to replace it without harming any of the wires that go to the contact. It was a little while, but not that long, and he was done!

It was $141.xx for a replacement battery, replacement contact and the labor (which exceeded half an hour, due to the delicate contact-replacement operation). And because of my Twitter-attained knowledge of the price of an average battery these days, I was ecstatic with that amount. I thought it was extrememly reasonable, and I thought the tech did a great job.

To top it off, the tech saw the Blog Solace magnet on the side door of my car (my Vista Print special, which I love), and asked me about it. He said his wife needed a web site and blog built, and he took one of my business cards.

I’d say that was an all-around successful, social media, networking, modern, 21st century car battery replacement experience! Thanks to all my Twitter buddies and the help that day. And thanks to @AAAauto for following up afterwards to make sure everything was taken care of!

Brand New Shiny Twitterific AAA Car Battery!

Static Site Built On WordPress
August 11, 2009 by Sherry Dedman · Leave me a comment!
Filed under: WordPress 

I just finished an original site design and built a static site on WordPress for a new client, criminal defense attorney, Jonathan Dichter. I’ve recently honed my design skills, and I am more proud of this site than any I have done in the past. And the fact that it is a static site built on WordPress just makes it that much more of an accomplishment!

Now the site can use all of the SEO plugins available for WordPress installations and is easily updatable. I just ran the Google SiteMap Generator for the first time, linked it in the footer and added the update services. Now Google will be pinged as to the location of the site map and, with any luck, will come visit and crawl the rest of the site very soon!

The next step is integrating a matching WordPress blog to go with the site, for even more SEO success! I think I have him sold on it!

Twitter, LiveJournal and Facebook Victims of Denial of Service Attack?
August 6, 2009 by Sherry Dedman · Leave me a comment!
Filed under: Social Media 

I had trouble with Twitter and Facebook all morning. Twitter was slow to load, when it would load at all, and often would not change pages within the site. And Facebook wasn’t just slow, it was giving me weird messages about not being able to write to the database. I actually Twittered that Facebook was having as much trouble as Twitter today, without realizing they were *both* under attack!

I just read on Mashable a few minutes ago that Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal are banding together to investigate a “Distributed Denial of Service attack.” I guess that would explain the problems this morning. I don’t use LiveJournal, but when both Facebook and Twitter were having problems, it did seem a bit odd.

I’m still actually having a bit of trouble on Twitter, but that comes with the territory. I do see the “Fail Whale” less and less these days, but it can be slow. It will be interesting to see where these DOS attacks were coming from. It must be from the Anti-Twitterati!

And Finally, Success…
August 5, 2009 by Sherry Dedman · 2 Comments
Filed under: How I Became A Work At Home Mom 

[ This is part 8 of an 8-part article – Read Part 1… ]

But I made it through that. My son started school, the large blog was launched, and more business was pouring in. I’ve had some very short periods of slowness with my business since then, but they are always short-lived, and I wind up with almost more business than I can handle very soon after every dry spell.

My very first client is still a regular client, as is the Seattle attorney who hired me to finish his web site. I have many regular clients and gain new ones all the time. My biggest client ever is now working with me on business development, and there are some exciting changes in the wings for Blog Solace in the very near future!

What is amazing to me is that, yes, I worked and educated myself and was prepared for this opportunity. But currently owning a successful back end web development business would not have been possible if I hadn’t been *forced* into it. If Kindercare had been the right place for my child, or if adequate care for him had ever appeared, I would be an Administrative Assistant right now.

Instead, I’m a Work At Home Mom who owns her own small business, and the future is bright! That’s how I accidentally started my own business and became a WAHM. I guess it’s a lesson in making sure you never stop learning and being open to change, following your passion, recognizing opportunity when it knocks, and following through on it no matter how hard it is.

Never give up!

Forced To Ride Out The Slow Times

[ This is part 7 of an 8-part article – Read Part 1… ]

So I decided that even as much as I hated the idea, the time had come to put my son in daycare and go back to seeking an Administrative Assistant position. I knew I was over-qualified for that position by then, but that I would never get a web development job without a college degree.

So I took $200 and took my son to Kindercare on a Monday morning and started my job search in earnest. I went back to Kindercare to pick him up on Monday evening, and, with apologies, they handed me back my check and told me they could not keep my son. It was not safe for him there, and he needed to be in a specialized environment.

I spent a huge amount of time after that attempting to get specialized care for him that I could afford, trying to get help from the state (he was diagnosed as Developmentally Disabled when he was 4) and hitting brick walls every time I sought out help.

Time was passing and rent and car payments were coming due. I had to borrow money from my sister, and right when I was to the point of desperation, a large job rolled in. I decided to work as hard as I could and get through the summer, and when school started I would be able to concentrate even more on getting new business.

Taking care of my son while trying to work on my business was not very effective and beyond frustrating. But it was my only option. I fought through having almost no money, caring for a constantly-interrupting and behaviorally challenged child and trying to develop a large corporate blog from the ground up all at the same time. I’d say August of 2008 was probably the hardest time in my life.

AND FINALLY, SUCCESS . . . [READ PART 8] . . .

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