I’ve written about the Datafeedr service in my WordPress Affiliate Store series. I’ve setup quite a few stores since then, and the service itself gets better with new features all the time. From time to time I get emails through my contact form asking for help, mentoring, consulting, and all kinds of other things.
Sometimes people ask me to setup WordPress, and recently I was asked to setup a basic affiliate store for a particular niche using the datafeedr service. I’m writing this post to show you how that example turned out, and also to give you an idea of what you’re in for if you decide to do some consulting for someone else.
Years ago I did all kinds of consulting for businesses, a few corporations, and private individuals. Usually I did computer repair, taught how to use the Internet and email, or showed people how to build web sites. Doing a job for someone in person can be pretty cut and dry because they usually know they have to pay you for the time you spend with them. If you’re there 3 hours, and you charge $20 per hour – you get $60. Working virtually though – is a whole different situation. People expect to get things very cheaply (nowadays), and when they can’t see you physically working for 3 hours it’s more difficult for them to believe it takes that long to get something done. This is usually why I don’t do a lot of consulting, and I’m very picky about anyone I’ll deal with as a client.
Giving an Accurate Estimate
Another thing to think about is your ability to give an accurate estimate, and how to prevent “scope creep”. This is hard to do without experience, and takes some time to be able to do well. Let’s say someone says “I want you to setup WordPress on my web site”, and you think “I can do that in 15 minutes…”. Sounds easy – doesn’t it? What you don’t know is the level of understanding the client has of either WordPress or web site setup. Immediately I have questions like “do they have a domain?”, “do they have a theme?”, “what plugins do they want?”, “what webhost do they use?”, and more.
So when I was asked to setup a WordPress affiliate store, these are the things I asked right away:
- Who is your web host?
- Do you already have a domain?
- Is your domain already setup on the web host?
- Will you be able to setup the database for WordPress on your web host or do I need to do that?
- What kinds of plugins will you need? (contact form, SEO, Related Items, Stats, Askimet, Banner Ads, etc.)
- Do you already have Title, keywords, description info?
- Are you already signed up with datafeedr?
- Do you have your merchants picked out?
- Are you a member of those merchant programs at the proper affiliates?
- How many products do you initiall want from datafeedr to open your store with?
- Do you need custom theme work / header graphics, etc?
- Do you have knowledge of SEO?
The answers that you get to these kinds of questions give you a really good idea of the experience level your client has, and it will help you start an estimate. When figuring out how much time it will take to do something try and figure out how much time it will take you total, including time for questions in email exchanges. If you exchange 10 emails and that takes you 90 minutes total over a day or two, that’s unpaid time you could be using on another project.
What to do with Unanticipated Problems
With my lastest WordPress Consulting project, I was asked to setup WordPress on a new domain and populate it with a basic datafeedr affiliate store, a couple hundred products in a few categories to get it started. You can see the store at Unique Baby Gifts. I asked the previous list of questions first – and then got to work.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a project that didn’t have “unanticipated problems”, little things that just come up. There are many reasons for this. In this project I actually forgot to ask the database question, and when it came time to install WordPress I had nothing to install it on. So I had to send out an email describing how to set it up and then wait for the response to proceed. There were other little questions along the way, like when I went to setup Askimet and WordPress stats I realized I didn’t have their account info to set them up. I also remember that the theme picked out wasn’t widgitized at all, so getting the right things in there from the datafeedR store became difficult.
Generally when problems arise with a client you need to:
- Explain the issue
- Determine what it takes to fix it
- Add to the estimate if required
- Get a concensus from the client in writing about the additional work
- Proceed and finish the project
Usually, most things can be worked out and many issues that arise don’t really take any additional time at all. The theme problem that I had had developed into too many hours, and I had to explain to my client that I could do the custom theme work to make the products display the way they wanted, but that would be additional work. In the end they picked a new theme and all was well.
Happy Clients Means Testimonials
When you do quality work and your clients are happy you’ll get some great feedback, and you should turn that into a testimonial you can use in your own blog. Link to your work and your clients will as happy for the one way link as you will be for the testimonial.
Here’s the testimonial I received for my WordPress Affiliate Store consulting:
I wanted to set up an affiliate site to promote unique baby gifts and had
heard good things about Datafeedr. I decided to give the service a try, but
was not familiar with using Datafeedr (which is a bit complex) or blogging
software (WordPress is required to use Datafeedr). After doing a bit of
research I came across John’s blog. I contacted John to inquire about
hiring him to set up my site, and I’m glad I did.
John is professional and very knowledgeable. He completely set up my
WordPress site and Datafeedr account without any problems, made useful
suggestions and answered all my questions in great detail (which I
appreciate very much).
I would not hesitate to use John’s services again — and I will — and I
would recommend John to anyone.