Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman

One of the first times I was inspired to make money online was in the early 2000s, when I came across The Million Dollar Homepage.

The concept was simple: there were 1,000,000 pixels available for purchase at $1 per pixel. You could purchase a block of pixels and put your digital advertisement in that location. This kind of thing took-off in the early years of the internet, and as you can imagine, it was sold-out pretty quickly as it also garnered a lot of attention internationally.

The site is still available to visit today if you want to take a look, though be careful on which ads you click because who knows where they will take you!

The creator of this website was Alex Tew. He has since moved on to bigger and better, as evident by founding Calm.com, which generates £150-200 Million in revenue per year.

All it takes is one idea to get started.

Alex’s story is not original by any means. He had a “flash-in-the-pan” idea, and leveraged that idea to then fuel future endeavors. In reality, many people would be happy with the results of his original million dollar homepage idea – it’s proof that just one idea can change your life forever.

I remember back in college when I had a few of my friends over for some drinks. We all got pretty buzzed, and one of my friends started talking about how if we could just come up with one idea, we would be set for life. He kept emphasizing how all it would take was one idea. Just one!

Hell, that should be easy, right? So, the rest of the evening, we all brainstormed what were likely terrible ideas before ultimately giving into the alcohol.

I don’t remember any details around the ideas we discussed, but I do remember thinking back on the entire evening for years to come. My friend was oversimplifying things a bit, but he wasn’t entirely wrong. All you need is one idea. So many people have made a fortune by finding an idea they believe in and making it a reality.

Thinking back on that evening with my friends, I see that we were all seeking more than one idea. We were trying to come up with one revolutionary idea. That was never going to happen, especially from us.

You don’t need a revolutionary idea, just a small twist on an already proven one.

Time can be a great teacher if you let it. I have learned a lot over the years about entrepreneurship, creative thinking, and bringing ideas to life. I have started a multitude of businesses that didn’t work out, but they didn’t “fail” because along the way I picked up new skills. Things like:

  • How to communicate value
  • How to use content marketing to build an email list
  • How to position a brand
  • How to sell

Through it all, I started to refine my skills so that the likelihood of my next idea being a success would be just a little higher. And eventually, my skills (and timing) came together when I started LearnDash.

Over the years, I have realized that there are very few original ideas out there. You don’t have to create an entirely new category, like Steve Jobs did with the iPhone. All that is needed is an original take on a concept that is already proven. This is particularly easy to do in software, but can apply to any industry.

How you can find an opportunity for your idea.

Most good ideas come from a point of user research. The easiest way to find a winning idea is to look at reviews of the products you love, and to document the common complaints. Then, create a solution that addresses one of those issues.

If you want to sell physical products, jump to the Amazon reviews to see what people are saying.

If you would like to sell software, go to Capterra or G2Crowd and do the same. In these reviews, you will find the profitable segments of very well established markets. No need to reinvent the wheel, just create a better wheel.

Of course, establishing product-market fit is only a part of the equation. It makes no sense to build something if you can’t get it in front of your intended audience. As such, my advice is to avoid building and start marketing instead!

Create a sales page that calls out the features & benefits of your product based on the research you did, then start creating content. Build an audience first. If your message is resonating, you will get people asking when your product will be available. At this point, you know you have a market, and also initial customers.

Ideas are inherently worthless.

As you probably already know, ideas are worthless. The value comes in execution and bringing that idea to life. If you have done your market research and know that it is viable, then all your energy should be spent in making your mission known.

Your priority in any business is to make money. If you are working on something that isn’t coming to fruition in the way you envision, don’t get discouraged. It’s not a failure by any means. Take your lessons learned and apply it to your next project.

It is only a failure if you stop trying.

#entrepreneurship


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I created my first WordPress blog like most people did: using WordPress.com. I remember the entire concept of blogging being pretty new back in 2006, and I cut my teeth in the industry by setting-up and writing with WordPress.

It wasn’t long after starting that I learned about the benefits of self-hosting a WordPress installation, and from that point forward (probably about 14 years now) that is what I have always done.

The way I see it, WordPress is still the best choice out there for building a website that needs to do things like generate leads, offer courses, content marketing, and so on. If you need a Swiss Army Knife, then WordPress is the way to go.

Today, I have a few sites going. Not from a pure blogging standpoint, though, as WordPress isn’t a good choice for that anymore (for this blog I prefer write.as). But I am helping Lorena with her online course program, and that of course is running on WordPress with LearnDash, hosted at Nexcess. That has been going well as it continues to keep my WordPress skills sharp, and seeing as her website is in Spanish, the added bonus is that I’m practicing my Spanish when working on it!

While I will always be a proponent for owning your data, self-hosting a WordPress site is a pain in the ass.

The truth is, it has always been a pain to self-host. I am reminded about this fact daily as I manage Lorena’s site. Maybe I am just jaded now, but I swear there has not been a single time that I have logged into that site where I wasn’t greeted by a barrage of update nags.

On one hand, I am delighted to see developers continuing to work on their product, but on the other hand, I see it as a daily homework assignment where I need to go run the updates first on a staging environment, backup the live site, and eventually (after troubleshooting any issues) update the production site.

I have to be honest, this shit is annoying.

I am not a developer, nor pretend to be one. Furthermore, I don’t love working on WordPress backend stuff or doing QA testing. When something goes wrong, it’s stressful. Yes, I figure it out, but it’s always a mental drain.

This frustration was at the forefront of my mind recently as I wanted to create a small, two-page website: just a homepage and a blog. I considered using another website platform and even researched a few of the main competitors to WordPress. I didn’t need anything fancy, nor countless plugins. Just something simple.

After a few days of research, I thought about the possibility of using WordPress.com for this purpose. Funnily enough, it wasn’t the first option to come to mind, but I created my free account and went to have a look.

This is why most people should use WordPress.com (at first).

First, a disclaimer: WordPress.com isn’t super easy to use, in that it won’t be intuitive to a first-timer. I knew how to navigate it because I’m seasoned with WordPress. I’ll refrain from getting into the weeds on that topic, as it would result in an additional 5,000 words.

Potential learning curves aside, the more that I dug around in WP.com, the more I realized that most folks would probably benefit by starting off there, and then moving to self-hosted at a later date.

Why do this? To save time and money. WordPress is an industry of distractions, especially given the premium theme and plugin market. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen people just jump between different plugins trying to find “the right one”, when in reality it didn’t even matter.

When you’re on WP.com, your options are limited. Yes, you can still go down a rabbit hole of functionality, but not to the same extent – and there is a 0% chance that you’ll break something else on your website since the WP.com ecosystem prevents this, which means:

  • No installing endless plugins
  • No support tickets with different vendors
  • Less wasted time
  • Less wasted money

People who have dreams of starting an online business can start doing just that when they use WP.com, especially if they are going to rely on content marketing. Spend a day or two getting things configured, then get to work creating content!

Don’t worry about installing (illegal) Google Analytics, just use the WP.com analytics.

Don’t fiddle around with the endless number of WordPress contact form options, just use the WP.com contact form.

Don’t install every social sharing plugin available, just use the built-in post sharing features.

See what I’m getting at? No more pointless activities – just get to work!

The mental freedom of WP.com is why I am using it.

Not every use-case needs a self-hosted WordPress installation, and this is particularly true with the website I mentioned earlier. I just want it to look decent for now and to not require any mental bandwidth. The site is about finished because I didn’t have to dick around with all the normal WordPress configuration stuff. If I ever want to self-host it, I can just use the WP.com export options.

If you pay for the personal account, that will set you back about $48 or something. Sure, there are little hidden attributes to WordPress on the front-end, but they are hard to see, and it doesn’t matter (you can get rid of those by paying for the business account, which is around $25/mo).

As to what my site is about — I’ll be sharing it in another blog post, so subscribe below if you want to be notified when that’s available.

Eliminate the noise, so that you can reach your first goal.

I’ll end this with a request: that you challenge your assumptions about the best ways to use WordPress. Not all situations require the same thing. Figure out what is most important for the present, and then choose your path accordingly.

Just like you wouldn’t go and create a full-blown iOS app before you have an audience, do you really need all those marketing plugins on your site from Day 1? Probably not. Eliminate the distractions and your energy will be hyperfocused on reaching your first goal.

#WordPress


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Unquestionably, last year was a very full year for us, full of major life events that we will always remember. We also spent about a third of the year (perhaps more) away from home.

The travel was fun, but also exhausting – especially over the holidays, in large part due to the multiple COVID scares that Lorena and I had.

I like to travel. I wouldn’t say that I love it like some folks do, but overall, I like to experience new places. In the past year, our numerous trips to Mexico have been a highlight. The country is incredible, and I feel like I am barely scratching the surface. There are many other places in the country that I want to visit, such as Guadalajara and Oaxaca.

Lorena and I also talk about taking an extended trip in Europe. The challenge with overseas trips is to not do too many things. We haven’t discussed it in great length quite yet, but I think a likely visit could include Portugal and Italy.

Lorena and I have yet to take a “typical” vacation.

I hate talking about COVID because it’s all the world seems to talk about today. But, it’s the reality of the world, and its impacts are far-reaching. Most noticeably for me is how it has impacted expectations and feelings around travel.

In both 2020 and 2021, our travel was mostly for visiting family. Sure, we would add some other mini-trips (like when we went to San Miguel de Allende for Lorena’s birthday), but the primary reason for traveling was to see family. I very much appreciated this time in Mexico and Michigan, but both of us are feeling the desire to take a trip for us. The “old” way of vacationing.

Thing is, I don’t think either of us are comfortable enough with the entire COVID situation to fully enjoy a vacation, and therein lies the issue of it all. At what point do we become okay with COVID that we can plan a trip and not be worried throughout it is a question to which we currently don’t have an answer.

Travel plans this year will be similar to last year.

Like the end of 2020 and all of 2021, this year’s travel will most likely revolve around planned family gatherings. Last year we did get a chance to visit Lake Tahoe as we were thinking about potentially buying a house there. We want to visit Salt Lake City for a similar purpose, but beyond that, we don’t have any hard-set travel ideas.

So for now, it looks like we’ll make some rounds to Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, and Chicago to meet up with family, and it is likely we’ll throw in a few days of personal time during those trips.

I do feel incredibly fortunate to be in a situation where we can travel in the first place. Lorena and I will continue to get whatever booster they make available so that we're able to maintain some level of confidence until the picture is a bit more clear around COVID and what to expect in the years ahead.

#personal


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Over the past 15+ years, I have had the pleasure of meeting some incredibly smart people in the WordPress industry. Some of these people have businesses (such as selling courses), and others are building products for WordPress users (plugins & themes).

With recent news that WordPress now has 43% CMS market share, one thing is for certain: the WordPress business landscape is maturing.

We are seeing consolidation, higher pricing, more complex offerings, mature advertising campaigns, and more. It’s truly an exciting time!

There is also a lot at stake. So much so, that the people who have helped create this new, mature WordPress environment are feeling like they need to self-sensor for fear of retribution.

I understand this fear.

For many years, I would just sit, observe, and discuss with my friends in the WordPress space my unfiltered view about what was going on. Topics like:

  • Product pricing
  • Dealing with pain-in-the-ass customers
  • Gutenberg
  • Product sales and promotions
  • Maximizing profitability
  • WTF moments from Automattic
  • WordPress idealism
  • Unexplored opportunity areas

And the list goes on.

These backroom conversations that I had with my friends were incredibly helpful to my business, and in some ways therapeutic. The problem is, these conversations were behind closed doors.

There is a real, tangible benefit to having tough (somewhat controversial) conversations in a public setting. So far, very few folks do this in WordPress. For me, Matt Mederos from The Matt Report and The WPMinute is one of the few daring to occasionally broach these topics.

There is no shortage of podcasts in the WordPress space, but there is a shortage of conversations backed by proven success.

At the beginning of January, Matt put out a tweet asking folks what they wanted out of a WordPress focused podcast in 2022, so I threw in my two cents:

The more I thought on my reply, the more I realized that I could help bring this to fruition. Since the sale of LearnDash, I have more time. So, I got to thinking…

I should take the backroom conversations (the ones that helped me create a multimillion dollar, international brand) out into the public.

So, that’s what I am doing with…

NoFilter.fm — No BS WordPress Business Commentary

Every two weeks, I will host a gathering on Twitter Spaces to share proven methodology, tactics, and opinions directly responsible for generating multiple millions of dollars in revenue.

Co-hosting with me will be Ross Johnson from 3.7Designs.

Ross started as a freelancer right out of college and today with his wife runs a 7-figure WordPress design agency. He also has a handful of WordPress products that result in over $100,000 of revenue each year.

Over the years, Ross and I have bounced ideas off of each other as we grew our respective companies to millions of dollars.

Our goal is to help other WordPress entrepreneurs by discussing business topics that I wish were talked about when I was first starting. We will also discuss business themes as it relates to the industry as a whole.

The conversations will be recorded and published later as a podcast.

Here is what you should do next…

  • Follow the NoFilter.fm Twitter account (this is where the spaces will be hosted).
  • Subscribe for updates on the NoFilter.fm website (replays will be here and on major platforms such as Spotify, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts).
  • Last, just show up and join the conversation!

I look forward to seeing you join us in the next conversation!

#WordPress


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The new year has started and with it, I have a few goals in mind, one of which being my desire to progress to a more advanced level of Spanish.

Last year I spent most of my time in informal conversations. I just didn’t have the energy to study formally with my teacher, so we would spend our hour-long Zoom calls just chatting.

In addition, Lorena and I spent six weeks in Mexico, and I felt like that helped to improve my comfort in conversations. I had my good days and bad days. It can be incredibly frustrating trying to learn a language in a world where everyone wears a mask.

Now that we have returned from yet another extended stay in Mexico, I feel like I am trapped at my current language level. If I am honest with myself, I would say that my comprehension and speaking abilities are at a B2. Not an advanced B2 by any means. There are days when I would say that I am B1, especially if I am tired.

My goal is to be advanced B2 (or low C1) by the end of 2022.

My first year of learning Spanish was 2020. I didn’t know any, and by the end of the year I was at a pretty good A2 level. It wasn’t easy getting there, but my gains were very noticeable as I was starting from nothing.

During that time, I had three to four classes per week with my tutor. We went through the structured workbook during our time together, and outside my lessons I would read, study vocabulary, and try to watch shows in Spanish (with subtitles).

2021 was the year of conversations, as I mentioned.

Which brings me to this year. I have a strong desire to progress to that next level, and I know that I need to follow a similar strategy as 2020 to achieve it. This means I need my lessons with my tutor to be more structured again so that I can learn the more advanced grammatical structures and vocabulary.

I am up for the challenge. My primary motivation is to better communicate with Lorena and her family in their native language. I also want to better understand Mexican culture, and the best way to do that is through language.

No sense in waiting, either, as my lessons start up again this week.

#personal


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It is the end of the year, and while I am quite busy with family events during the holiday, I am also keenly aware of the impact 2021 will forever have in my life.

The coming year will have milestones as well, but there was something special about this year that will be hard to beat. Things like:

  1. Getting married

  2. Selling my business

  3. Visiting (and shopping for a home) in Lake Tahoe

  4. Progressing in Spanish

  5. Traveling to Mexico

  6. Getting vaccinated

And so much more – such as having the opportunity to travel to Dallas, Vegas, Denver, Michigan, and Connecticut with Lorena.

Of course, this year has also had its hardships. Most notably, I lost my grandmother. That has been tough, and I find myself thinking about her daily. In a way, her passing has reminded me of how precious life actually is, and to not take anything, or anyone, for granted.

For now, we are ending the year in the same way that it started: busy and with family! We will be in Chicago, Michigan, Cancun, and Mexico City over the coming weeks.

After which, we come back to Austin – but only for a short period of time, as Lorena and I will be looking to make somewhere else our home in 2022.

Merry Christmas, and see you in the new year!

#personal


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Normally posts like this come at Thanksgiving, but truth is I’ll be too busy to write something by then, so I’m posting a week early. 😅

I have a lot to be thankful for this year, no doubt. Though that could be said for every year that I am alive and in good health. That said, three events that come to mind:

The older I get, the more I realize how lucky I truly am. I’m married to in incredible woman, I am part of a loving and supportive family, I have professional success beyond what I realized ever possible, and I have my mental & physical health.

This year, Lorena and I are going to Michigan to celebrate Thanksgiving. My brother and his family recently moved back to the U.S. from Germany, so it is the first time we all are together celebrating the holiday together (yet another thing to be grateful for)!

We will be relaxing, going to a hockey game (go Wings!) and heading to Ohio to visit my grandpa. Afterwards, we fly from Detroit to Mexico City for a quick trip to celebrate Lorena’s younger sister graduating from university.

Heading back to Austin, we will catch our breath briefly before doing the rounds again for Christmas and the new year!

#personal


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