Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman

Physical activity has always been a part of my life.

When I was young, I played many sports, including soccer, baseball, basketball, track & field, lacrosse, and tennis. I eventually settled into soccer and played that through college.

I continued to play in highly competitive men’s leagues with former collegiate athletes, until one day in 2013, that changed. I was hit from behind while jumping for a header, and I herniated a disc in my neck. To this day, I still don’t have complete feeling in my left pointer finger.

Eventually things healed with my neck, and I started to incorporate other cardio workouts (namely boxing and Muay Thai) into my strength training.

10 years later, and my body is telling me to make another change.

Over the past two years, I have been constantly battling nagging injuries as a result of my current workout routine. I have injured my hand, wrist, elbow, groin, and (as of writing this) I am dealing with a pretty significant shoulder injury.

Some of these were the direct result of kickboxing on the heavy bag, others were exasperated by that activity.

I am frustrated, and I have realized that I can’t keep doing what I am doing, or this cycle is just going to continue. I need to change my activities.

So, now I am officially a White Belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

I needed to give my body a break from the high-impact striking that I have been doing. At the same time, I also wanted to learn a new skill – and so after a lot of research, I landed on BJJ.

I’m excited, and nervous about this journey. I have never done wrestling or any kind of grappling activity in my life, so I am literally starting from zero. That said, I am energized by this decision for a few reasons, specifically:

  • BJJ is both useful and practical.
  • I’m learning and working out at the same time.
  • Goals are built into the journey.

It sounds silly, but my first goal is to get my first “stripe” for my white belt. To me, this signifies that I am starting to gain an understanding of the principles of BJJ, and these principles will be my foundation going forward as I work towards one day reaching blue belt.

So far, I have already had three classes, and I am ready to dive further into the world of BJJ.

#personal


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When I started GapScout in August 2022, I wanted to try something different.

I had success with LearnDash, but my motivation for that business, and the online education industry as a whole, was different.

I landed on building in public.

This involves sharing more details about my journey in starting and growing a software company. I am finding it quite enjoyable, and it challenges me to go outside my comfort zone as well.

To date, I have been doing this primarily on Twitter, but plan to expand to YouTube as well.

Discussing the pros and cons to building in public.

This week, I got a chance to chat with my friends Devin and Matt.

The last time we were all in together in person was back in 2019. I have chatted with each individually since then, but not as a group. I really enjoyed catching up and “talking shop”. I always walk away learning something new.

Here is the replay of our discussion. We talk about the pros and cons of building in public, how to do it, and the results of doing it. If you are eager to learn more about this marketing strategy, give it a watch!

As a special bonus: enjoy my dad interrupting me in the middle of the discussion, even after I asked him not to interrupt because I was in a meeting. 😆

#entrepreneurship


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At the end of last year, I suffered an injury to my shoulder from overuse. I was lifting heavy, and doing this for months on end really messed it up. As a result, I can’t do any weightlifting for my shoulders or chest. It also has meant that I’ve been unable to do my favorite cardio: Muay Thai.

This has been hard for me. I’m someone who needs variety in my workouts (both lifting and cardio). Sitting on the sidelines while letting an injury heal takes a ton of patience and is incredibly frustrating. To make matters worse, I just came back from a tennis elbow injury which took seven months to heal. I feel like I’ve been held back for some time now.

My shoulder is not 100% better, but I have been able to incorporate some weightlifting (back, arms, and legs) and even some Muay Thai on the heavy bag – albeit more controlled and for less time.

Still, I feel like it’s time for me to get back on the horse!

No fancy apps, just using Google Calendar to send me reminders every day of my workout. It’s a one-week workout that I created (with two rest days), so the reminders will continue every week until I’m ready to switch it up.

Something I know about myself is that I need mini-challenges, or goals, to stay motivated. This will do the trick for now, but I am also searching for something a little more regimented and long-term, and will report on that (hopefully soon).

#personal


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Time isn’t lost, and since it’s not misplaced, “finding” it doesn’t make much sense. Yet, we hear all the time about people trying to “find time” to accomplish something.

It’s as if we like to pretend that the only problem is the time itself doesn’t exist, and we have to somehow stumble upon it in order to then, finally, get to the activity in question.

Personally, I think that this is a bullshit excuse.

Whenever anyone tells me that they have to “find the time” to do something, I know that they’ll never do it because they don’t want to do it. Plain and simple. When you want to do something, you do it. It’s action-based, not time-based.

You don’t need to accept the lies people tell you about why they won’t do something. They have their own priorities, and that’s fine. In business, or life, never wait on anyone to find time.

You can’t control the priorities of other people, but you can control your expectations of the people around you. Understanding this simple truth has helped me to alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress and negative emotions.

#happiness


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Lorena and I just returned from a four-day trip to San Carlos, Mexico. The purpose of the trip was to attend the wedding of our friends (who just visited us in January). We rented a stunning Airbnb right on the water’s edge, located a little north of the wedding venue.

It was my first time seeing the Sea of Cortez. I find it beautiful in an untamed way. Steady breezes made for a choppy, deep blue surface. The sky was always blue with an occasional puffy cloud, but those usually blew through rather quickly. I enjoyed drinking coffee in the morning, watching the pelicans swoop down again and again to catch fish.

It probably goes without saying, but I had an opportunity to practice my Spanish quite a bit, especially during the wedding reception dinner. I met a lot of Lorena’s friends from the time she lived in North Carolina. Speaking became more challenging when the DJ put the music on volume 10.

Luckily for me, everyone was bilingual, and their English was better than my Spanish. This made conversations over the loud music more possible. I hope to get to a point where I can continue interacting effectively in Spanish in very loud bars or parties, but I fully recognize that is a very advanced level that will take years to reach. One day!

The plan was to get back to California late Sunday night, flying from Hermosillo to Tijuana, then using the Cross Boarder Xpress (which is amazingly efficient). However, our flight was cancelled due to weather. It was a bit hectic and stressful as we figured out what to do, but ultimately we were on the first flight out the next day.

I really enjoyed the wedding, and San Carlos. Perhaps one day we will return for another visit, but if not, I’ll always remember it.

Here are a few memorable scenes from our trip!

#personal


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Prior to the new year, Lorena and I talked about taking the initiative to travel more. Sticking to our word, we just returned from a quick trip to Seattle.

For close to a year we have discussed the possibility of going to Seattle, so when we saw a gap in our schedule, we purchased tickets for a four-day trip.

Lorena and I are similar in the way we like to travel. We don’t plan many activities ahead of time, but rather “go with the flow” once in the location. Our idea prior to going was to walk around a bit, go to Pike Place Market, try some coffee shops, do a little shopping, book a nice restaurant, and to just discover Seattle’s beauty.

It was a brief visit, but we were able to:

  • Stay at a nice hotel that was centrally located.
  • Have a Washington wine tasting and food in the Space Needle.
  • Walk around the Chihuly Garden & Glass museum.
  • Participate in a guided seafood tour of Pike Place Market, where we got to sample amazing seafood and learn the history of Seattle.
  • Ride the Seattle Great Wheel.
  • Walk around the city and try new restaurants.
  • Drink coffee at the original Starbucks and try other Cafés with incredible coffee. Seattle is known as a coffee hub, and it was some of the best that I’ve ever had.

Of course, it rained, it’s Seattle after all. I’m a sucker for sunshine, but didn’t mind it so much. I feel like it wouldn’t be a proper trip to Seattle without a little gray skies and rain. More than anything, we really liked the vibe of the city. There is a big emphasis on sustainability, organic, and nature.

We are back in California now, and we are recharging our batteries quickly before we head out again, this time to Mexico for our friends’ wedding.

#personal


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I recently released a new logo and web design for GapScout. It’s not perfect, nor will it win any awards, but I’m happy with it as a first version.

The main tool used to build the design was Elementor. I insisted on this because it’s a plugin I am very comfortable in using, which meant I could make future design modifications myself once the designer was done.

The problem, however, is that Elementor can lead to some pretty crappy performance scores, in particular for mobile. In fact, I ran a Google PageSpeed Insights report for Elementor’s own homepage, and their mobile score is pretty… uh…bad.

Your mobile performance score is vital for rankings.

I didn’t believe this until I saw it first hand.

The old GapScout site had a pretty bad mobile score, and when I boosted it to ~90/100, I noticed an uptick in the number of visitors. Seeing as a slight majority of visitors to GapScout are using mobile compared to laptop/desktop, this was a big win.

So, while the new GapScout homepage has a perfect desktop performance (100/100), the mobile score originally sat at a pretty depressing 50/100.

But not for long!

With just a few adjustments and was able to get it up to 99/100.

Note: PageSpeed Insights fluctuates at any given time the test is run. GapScout’s mobile score usually lands between 94-99.

Being a good internet citizen, I tweeted at Elementor to let them know that improving their mobile score is definitely possible with just a few tweaks, and this tweet elicited a few responses:

Thanks to Robert and Ross, their replies to my tweet were the inspiration for this blog post. So, I’m writing it for them, but you as well, because this probably helps anyone who is using Elementor and WordPress.

How I get a great mobile performance for the GapScout website.

Okay, onto the good stuff. I’ll keep it short because:

  1. You don’t care about backstories, just what works.

  2. I’m not very technical, and can’t explain a ton of detail anyway.

STEP 1: Use a host that doesn’t suck.

I’ll start with the often overstated, but most critical part to any website performance metric: use a good webhost!!!!!!!!@*&($@*

You’re not going to get great results on some $10/mo hosting plan. Sorry.

I’m using Rocket.net, and holy crap, it’s fast. Like amazing.

I think I’m currently on the $30/mo plan, but maybe I paid yearly, so that dropped to $25/mo. I dunno, I’m too lazy to go look.

They will migrate you for free, so just switch. Also, I’m not affiliated with them nor do I get any kickback for referrals. I just take comfort in knowing that you will like me because my recommendation is a good one. 😉

STEP 2: Buy the Perfmatters plugin.

This is the other critical component, especially for mobile. Perfmatters was actually recommended to me by Rocket.net. The plugin is $29/year (there is no free version).

Okay, so now I am going to share with you my settings, but first things first:

Disclaimer: My settings probably won’t work 100% for your site because it depends on which plugins you have installed. I also can’t help you troubleshoot anything.

With that out of the way, these are the settings I have in place in Perfmatters on the GapScout website:

  • Under Assets, the follow settings are turned on: Defer Javascript Include JQuery Delay Javascript Delay All Scripts (for Delay Behavior setting) Delay Timeout Remove Unused CSS
  • Under Lazy Loading, the following settings are turned on: Images Add Missing Image Dimensions
  • Under Lazy Loading, in the “Exclude from Lazy Loading” field: Filename of the website’s logo
  • Under Fonts, the following settings are turned on: Disable Google Fonts

That last setting is because I am not using Google fonts, but have instead uploaded a custom font through Elementor. If you are using Google fonts, you will not want to turn on that setting. Instead, turn on these two:

  1. Display Swap

  2. Local Google Fonts

STEP 3: Add support for custom fonts in Elementor. (Optional)

If you are like me and have uploaded your own custom font to Elementor, then there is one more step to take for optimizing font display. Do not worry about this step if you are not using custom fonts or Elementor.

First, you need to preload your fonts in Perfmatters.

  1. Navigate to Preloading.

  2. Paste the URL where you uploaded your font in WordPress.

  3. Under Select Type, choose “Font”.

  4. Select the CrossOrigin checkbox.

  5. Repeat for font variations as needed and save.

Now that the custom fonts are specified in the preloading menu, the last thing you need to follow this support article to add the following filter:

add_filter( 'elementor_pro/custom_fonts/font_display', function( $current_value, $font_family, $data ) { return 'swap'; }, 10, 3 );

Once you have added that (I recommend using the code snippets plugin), you have to do the following steps:

  1. Head over to the Custom fonts screen at Elementor > Custom Fonts.

  2. Edit the custom font you want to regenerate (simple edit and update, no changes are needed).

  3. Repeat step 2 for each font you want to regenerate.

  4. Head over to Elementor > Tools > click on the Regenerate Files.

And you’re done!

Most of this process took me only 15 or 20 minutes. I did run into a snag at one point and simply reached out to Perfmatter’s support (you’re in good hands, they were incredibly helpful).

In the end, I skyrocketed the GapScout homepage mobile score from a pathetic 50/100 to a consistent 94-99/100.

Want to dig a little deeper?

As always, whenever you make changes like this, it’s a good idea to use an incognito window to visit your website to make sure it still looks (and performs) the way that you expect. If something goes wrong, simply turn off the settings you activated so that you can troubleshoot effectively.

If you are interested in optimizing your WordPress site, then Perfmatters has a more comprehensive guide that I can recommend. I like that they also include references to individuals who can help you in the event that you need a little assistance.

And remember: chasing high mobile scores can be fun, but the most important thing is that your website is a pleasant user experience for your visitors.

#WordPress


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Starting a software company has many moving parts, and an often overlooked part of the process is creating an attractive, memorable brand experience for visitors.

The previous GapScout website was created by me (and that’s not a good thing). I put together something that looked decent, and then turned my focus on building my team that would ultimately build GapScout.

Thankfully, that design is retired. I’m pretty pleased with the new look, both the logo and design overall.

I am not one for flash, and I think the new design conveys that the value we will offer is in the AI and data. No distractions, just the facts. Clean, simple, and effective – just like the GapScout software intends to be!

Speaking of which…

BETA program is almost ready.

It has been six months since I first talked about starting GapScout. I will admit, things are not as far along as I originally envisioned. My goal was to have a beta program open by now.

You would think I’d be used to slower timelines by now, having worked in software for over a decade.

But alas, that is the nature of this industry. I am an entrepreneur, not a developer. In the end, this is for the best because I can focus on the vision and not the execution.

Building an AI tool that can provide value (i.e. help people make better decisions and make more money) is no simple task. I am thankful to have incredibly smart folks involved with this project. They are smart, thoughtful, and don’t want to rush anything. I can appreciate that.

Something quite important to me is that our first version provides you immediate value. Yes, there are plans for additional value-adding features, but right from the start I want to make sure that people are happy using GapScout. That is my personal goal.

If you like the idea of having an AI tool at your disposal to quickly analyze your business, your competitors, and your market for quick wins and in-depth insights, then invite you to become a beta tester!

#entrepreneurship


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It has been roughly six months since I started the GapScout project, and I will admit, the delays in the progress have started to get to me a little.

On one hand, I get it. I am no stranger to software development delays. I don’t think I ever had a project finish on schedule if I’m honest. But at the same time, it is frustrating. This is particularly true because the current progress (as of this blog post) prevents me from really going hard with a pre-launch strategy.

Building (another) business on a blog.

To date, all I have been doing is focusing on content marketing with blog posts. In 2012, I built LearnDash from a blog, so I guess I am just going back to my roots. I’ll admit, though, getting results from blogging today is a lot more challenging than it was back then.

From August through December, I made sure that two blog posts were being published per week. Each article is 1,500-2,500 words. The tone used is informative and the goal is to teach or help someone understand a business related concept.

At the end of the day, helpful content builds trust, and that’s my goal with the content created on the blog. It’s a simple formula, but one that I know can help drive revenue.

I have been using a “Pillar & Spoke” strategy that was first told to me by my good friend, Ross Johnson. The concept is fairly simple:

  • Pick “pillar” keywords that are broader in nature (i.e. “Market Research”).
  • Find related, longer-tailed keywords for that topic, called “spokes”.
  • Link the spokes together, and point the spokes back to the pillar. The pillar then links out to the spokes.

Google likes this kind of linking, and it adds some extra “weight” to your posts in the eyes of the search engine. Well, that’s what we believe, anyway. Who really knows?

Upping to three articles per week in 2023.

Posting twice per week was working, but I wasn’t satisfied with the results. I felt as if the site should be getting more visitors and sign-ups for the beta release (which is currently the “goal” of the website that exists today).

So, starting in January 2023, I have increased the publishing schedule to three posts per week. It’s still early, but current signs show that just increasing to three times per week is having a positive effect. Traffic is up, and impressions are up as well. Just have a look at the upward trajectory that starts in the new year.

I will continue with this plan going forward, and I expect to see these positive results continue to snowball over time.

Key takeaways for your business.

Look, I’m not an SEO expert. Anything I know is because people way smarter than me have helped me out. With that in mind, here are some tips that I live by with the GapScout blog that, I think, will help you as well.

  • Publish three articles per week.
  • Write articles that are a minimum of 1,200 words.
  • Use the pillar & spoke strategy outlined earlier.
  • Share articles on social media (Twitter is quite effective).
  • Use an SEO tool to optimize your articles (I use Yoast).
  • Reach out to other related blogs for contextual mentions.*
  • Be consistent, and patient!

*From what I have noticed, getting backlinks is still very much an important factor for building your presence in Google. Just a few mentions on reputable domains can really help boost your visibility!

This is my strategy. Nothing fancy. It’s working, but admittedly, there are probably things I could be doing that would make this more effective.

I will be sure to report back again this year on how things are going with the three posts per week. So far, I’m very optimistic with the impact that will have for the business.

Until next time!

#entrepreneurship


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I use this blog for a variety of topics, one of which being a way to document my progress learning Spanish. Today is another one of those posts!

Recently, Lorena’s good friend from North Carolina came to visit us with her fiancé. We will be going to their wedding in March, and they were kind enough to come out to California for a weekend visit.

They were both incredibly kind and fun people, and I can see us having a strong friendship for many years to come. We are already planning a trip to go out and visit them.

They are both from Mexico, so as you would expect, they are bilingual.

Something that is important to me is that I don’t want other people to automatically switch to English simply because I am in the room. This is why I bust my ass learning Spanish – so that I can be part of Lorena’s culture, including the friendships she formed before we met.

As such, we spent the entire weekend speaking a mix of Spanish and English. I’d probably say it was about 50/50. It was a surreal experience for me, participating in deep conversations in Spanish, jokes and all. Yes, I sometimes screwed up conjugations, genders, and word order – but that didn’t matter. What mattered is that I got to know them better in their native language. It made it fun and easy for them.

A highlight for me was the last night when we went out to dinner. At one point I realized that we had all been speaking Spanish for the majority of dinner, and it wasn’t a struggle at all. Maybe it was the glass of wine that loosened me up a bit more, but everything was flowing easily.

This has encouraged to keep up with my studying, and to practice the more advanced structures as I work towards the C1 level of fluency (as of writing this, I am at B2).

#personal


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