The Road Ahead for 2021
As we rapidly approach the end of what has been a crazy and very-challenging year, I thought I’d reach out to all of my clients, business acquaintances and friends regarding where I’m at with The Huelsman Way and what my business plans are for 2021. To summarize, everything is fine on my end, I have a lot to share and I’m looking forward to 2021 and beyond!
A New Year…A (Slightly) New Business Name
First and foremost, I’ve created a new business name—The Huelsman Way LLC. Since 2003, I had been running my business as a sole proprietor, which is fine with a very small business. For a variety of reasons, however, it was time to transform my business into a formal LLC (limited liability company) and legally protect myself. So, from this point forward, all my invoices, official correspondence and such will all utilize my new business name The Huelsman Way LLC.
2021 Domain Hosting/Maintenance Fees Due
It’s that time of year again when I send out invoices for annual website hosting and maintenance. As a reminder, this annual fee covers the cost of maintaining Huelsman Way client websites, providing email and web content updates/management, actively updating all WordPress themes and plugins every two weeks and generally ensuring that the sites are kept up, running and doing well. For smaller sites (up to five pages) I charge $125/year, for larger sites I charge $250/year and for the largest (or multiple) sites I charge $375/year. If you’re a Huelsman Way hosted client, look for these invoices on January 3rd, 2021.
WordPress Theme Issues
The WordPress content management system I use to drive and support all Huelsman Way client sites is continuously evolving, offering more functionality, improving security and generally getting better all the time. However, not all vendors out there who develop WordPress themes (the “look and feel” aspects of a website) are keeping their products up to date. Hence, over time, some of these themes are starting to break; I’ve been fixing them as best I can, but several have fallen into such states of disrepair that the only recourse was to replace them with something new (as a few of you have already learned from me recently).
Accordingly, I’m going to generally suspend the process of finding new themes on ThemeForest.net and instead stick to a few generic themes that have proven themselves over time. The primary theme I’m going to start suggesting is Avada, which is wildly popular, extremely versatile and guaranteed to be part of the WordPress universe indefinitely. The secondary theme I’ll be promoting is part of the “Thrive” package which I introduce below. Between these two themes, I believe I can meet the needs of all my clients for the foreseeable future!
New “Conversion” Theme/Plugin Services
Starting with the first of January (and as a special, “value-added” bonus to all Huelsman Way clients) I’ll be adding an entirely new service to my hosting/maintenance package—free access to all the “conversion focused” WordPress themes and modules made available from Thrive Themes. These resources center around helping companies and organizations attract more people and business online utilizing a diversity of approaches:
- Thrive Theme Builder & Architect – An all new way of building websites (without having to buy a separate theme, my new “secondary” approach to working with themes)
- Thrive Leads – Automatically collect and manage online mailing lists
- Thrive Quiz Builder – Develop simple quizzes designed to help build an informed mailing list
- Thrive Apprentice – Provide simple, efficient, professional online learning courses
- Thrive Comments – Allow site visitors to provide easy, secure comments regarding your site or organization
- Thrive Optimize – Design two pages or content elements and determine which attracts more users (“A/B testing”)
- Thrive Ultimatum – Create countdown widgets/campaigns to better motivate users to do something on your site
- Thrive Ovation – Solicit, gather and display user-generated testimonials on your site
- And more! (review all the details regarding these assets!)
To reiterate, I’m making these resources FREE to all Huelsman Way clients! If you’re interested in leveraging any of these WordPress plugins–and/or would like to rebuild your entire site–let me know and I’ll activate them within your WordPress instance. I am also willing to help clients get started with these tools, but if you want me to do any actual development with them (say, rebuild an existing site with Thrive Theme Builder/Architect), I will need to charge an hourly rate for that.
SiteGround Domain Access Now Available
Another change this year is potential access to a new toolset that can be used to directly manage a client’s domain/website. Last summer, my web hosting company SiteGround introduced a brand new toolset for directly managing a domain, providing tools for adding new email accounts, setting-up free SSL certificates, adjusting PHP settings and so forth. For most Huelsman Way clients, you’ll still want me to continue managing your domains directly, but if you’re interested in accessing these tools yourself, I can now add you as a “collaborator” to your domain–just let me know!
Ongoing BrowserQuests™ Web Application Development
Throughout 2020, I continued to spend a lot of time working on my “BrowserQuests”™ pet project I began way back in 2012, a unique text-based, multimedia-enhanced online role-playing game (RPG) that utilizes a virtual “gamemaster” to tell highly-interactive stories of heroic adventure. The game’s engine consists of DNN (formally known as “DotNetNuke”), upon which I’ve created dozens of modules of custom programming code (over 50,000 lines so far), all tied to a SQL Server database backend. While the project is a way for me to tell interactive stories, it’s also helping me keep my Microsoft-based development skills sharp (skills I use during the day via my full-time State of Wisconsin agency job as well). So, if you’re ever interested in developing a custom, from-scratch dynamic web application (one that requires a database along with custom programming), let me know and I can help!
Speaking of DNN—the platform I used years ago before WordPress became so popular—I’ll be attending DNN Summit in February 2021, a virtual conference that’s all about DNN and where it’s going. Honestly, I thought the DNN platform was all but dead, but it’s still doing a fantastic job supporting my BrowserQuests™ system and it looks to be rejuvenating itself somewhat, meaning that I can continue to leverage the tremendous learning curve I’ve put into it (I’ve been working with DNN for nearly 20 years now). I’ll also be taking technical responsibility of hosting and maintaining an existing client’s new web application recently developed in DNN, so let me know if you think DNN could be of any potential use to you as well as I continue to maintain and even grow my various DNN-based systems!