My name is Bridget Willard. I grew up in Central California and went to college in Southern California to be a teacher. After I realized that parents were the worst bosses ever, I went back to my trade: secretarial work. That journey took me into commercial roofing and contracting where they threw me into accounting because I used to tutor algebra.
The 2008 / 09 recession prompted me to begin content marketing for my employer. Because of that extra work, I became noticed in the WordPress Community and I took on side work. For two years before I became a full-time freelancer, I was the Marketing Director / Director of Marketing at an Advertising Agency in San Diego, California.
The Journey Began
I have always enjoyed writing as a way to teach and websites were the method to self-publish. Because I’m a life-long learner, I always volunteered to “fix” or “make” the company’s website. I started with FrontPage, learned HTML and some CSS (which freecodecamp.org reaffirmed I don’t remember), and then built sites in Dreamweaver.
In 2007, I heard about WordPress.com and Twitter from Leo Laporte, a tech podcaster. I quickly became an avid user of both. Because of that, I met people who encouraged me to attend my first WordCamp in 2013. The rest is history as they say.
WordPress was so much easier than CSS in 2015. At least, for me. Though building that sight was more difficult for me than I care to admit, I know that I can create a website and also that I never want to build another. Ever.
If it weren’t for the community and my WordPress-focused client base, I’d probably move everything over to SquareWIX (it doesn’t matter).
The Need for bridgetwillard.com
Bridget Willard Logo
I am very good at what I do. Because of that, I’m constantly asked for advice. The best outlet for me is a combination of a blog and YouTube channels. So, when my dream job ended in a less-than-ideal way, my full-time freelancing was born.
I’m technically a freelancer and not a business, though I have debated if I will become a corp or start an agency with a friend. It is something that doesn’t need to be decided later.
I manage social media for WordPress Products and Services. My relationship-first approach helps those brands be noticed in a sea of automated tweets. Curated tweets, well-written posts to their websites, and sometimes copywriting makes a big difference in a crowded ecosystem.
The biggest challenge for me was obeying my instinct. There have been a few (early) clients whose communication styles were incompatible with mine. I should have said “no” but fear sparked my decision.
No decision based out of fear is a good one. Ever.
I’m proud of the case studies I did for Staging Pilot that helped their brand awareness. Shortly after (I’m sure for other reasons — like an amazing solution), this SaaS product was acquired by Pantheon.
My worst experiences are few and far between. This is mostly due to the fact that I started freelancing full-time when I was 44 with a diverse business and accounting background. My entire life’s work (since I was 14 years old) had led me to this point. With that said, I had a client ghost me late 2019 / early 2020. That felt horrible. Really horrible. (It was a big monthly contract, too.)
Right now, I have a content planner and ebook to help business owners organize their time and coordinate social posts with blog posts. The combination of these two tools should allow a business owner to do their own content marketing in about 4-5 hours a month.
Where I Get Work Done
I am a team of one.
Bridget Willard Workplace
Advice for Business Owners
If you’re going to start your business, then treat it like one. Block out your time. This is important to establish your boundaries with yourself, your friends & family, and your clients.
If you don’t work on your own marketing, then how do you expect to get clients? Spend 1-2 hours a week publishing content for your own marketing (Blog Posts, Email Marketing, YouTube).
Set realistic revenue goals. In order to do this, find out what your costs are. Once you know your costs, then you know how to charge. I recommend against charging by the hour; instead, charge by the project.
Understand your hourly time commitment. Do you want to work 32 hours a week? What are your fixed COSTS for the month? Divide that number by 128 hours (4 weeks of 32 hours). That is your hourly in-house rate.
Bridget Willard Hourly Worksheet
Copy this GDoc and play around with the numbers yourself.
Track your time randomly so that you know how long projects take you. Then, when you put a proposal together, estimate the time, add 10% more time. Calculate those hours x your in-house rate. Then add 25% for profit. If the client thinks this is too expensive, then they are not your client.
If you want to start a business, niche out. This doesn’t mean you don’t accept clients in other areas. Of course, especially in the beginning, you should. But focus your marketing efforts on the niche you want.
If every customer is your customer, you don’t have any customers.
WordPress & Beyond
I don’t plan to grow my business beyond the work that I can personally produce. This is because I am marketing my services as custom, curated tweets. It’s because of my connections within the WordPress community that my services are valuable to WordPress Products & Services.
The biggest threat to WordPress is internal. I think I’ll leave it at that.
My Love for the WordPress Community
I spent many years attending WordPress Meetups and WordCamps. With COVID-19 and the current state of the world, I’m not sure when that will return. For now, I’m on The Smart Marketing Show every week which is a show on the WPwatercooler network.
How I Keep Myself Updated
I am constantly reading tweets from WordPress Professionals and often read the updates from the Make WordPress blog. That’s the best way to see what’s going on.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
During my free time, I enjoy walks around my town, karaoke, pub trivia, card games, reading nonfiction, and, of course, binging shows in bed.
I prefer to spend holidays alone. Being with people during these times has proved to be too taxing on me emotionally and mentally.
I would love to return to The Netherlands. I had a great experience speaking at WordCamp Nimegen in 2018.
My favorite place in my state is Big Sur, California. I currently only take care of myself, my clients, and my plants. I have a strict no-mammal rule after my Sully Dog died last year. That was really hard.
I Reward Myself by
I reward myself with pedicures, massages, good whiskey, and items to decorate and improve my apartment and home office. I hope to be in a position to reward myself with LASIK but that will take $4,000. COVID-19 has changed that priority.