Ep. 375: Creating Location and Financial Independence through Coding with Julia Taylor of GeekPack

I'm so excited to introduce you to this week's guest on Pep Talks for Side Hustlers, Julia Taylor of Geekpack!

Julia is the CEO & Founder of GeekPack®. Some people look at the sky and see stars; others see constellations. Some people look at lines of code and see a website; Julia saw a path to empower women in building their dreams. Julia has taught over 2,400 women to say “YES” to any WordPress request, but not only that, “YES” to themselves, and “YES” to creating life on their own terms. Mastering WordPress has not only been the single biggest driver for Julia's career progression, but it has also enabled her to follow her dreams of a TRULY location-independent lifestyle.

Push play to listen to this week's episode, or read the full transcript below!

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Shannon Mattern: Welcome to episode 375 of Pep Talks for Side Hustlers. And I am so excited to introduce you to today's guest Julia Taylor. Julia is the CEO and founder of GeekPack, and she has taught over 2,400 women to say yes to any WordPress request. But not only that, yes to themselves, and yes to creating a life on their own terms. And mastering WordPress has no only been the single biggest driver for Julia's career progression, and mine also , but has also enabled her to follow her dreams of a truly location-independent lifestyle. So, Julia, thank you so much for being here. Can you share a little bit more with our listeners about who you are and what you do?

Julia Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. It's a real pleasure and an honor to be here. So gosh, let's see. So I am very honored and privileged. I get to teach women how to code, at the end of the day. And we work primarily with WordPress, but we dive into the "hard stuff" when it comes to coding and migrations and malware and fixing things and customization and all that sort of stuff that makes a lot of people cringe. That's what we get to teach my students to do. And it is, it's just awesome.

Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh, you are speaking my love language right now. So I know I have seen your name. You know, it's surprising to me that 2022 is the first time we're actually talking and collaborating because you teach all of the things that freak people out about WordPress, and really empower them to just be able to feel like they can handle anything that comes their way, which I absolutely love! We're such kindred spirits in terms of that. And then I teach people like, here's how to build the website. Here's kind of like the marketing strategy. Here's how to point and click your way to get to the end result. And so, between the two of us, I mean, we're just perfect. Unstoppable, right? So I wanna know a little bit more about your background. Can you take us back in time to before you started this business and what you were doing, what your life was like, and what was the catalyst for you to start doing what you're doing today?

Julia Taylor: Yeah, sure. So I'm gonna go all the way back to 2008. I used to work for the US Intelligence Community. So I was an intelligence officer and in 2008 I was deployed to Afghanistan. It was my first deployment. I was there for six months the first time. And while I was there, I met a guy, I fell in love. He is British. He's my husband now. We just celebrated 10 years. And as you can imagine, him being British, he was in the military, we did long distance for a long time, and that was pretty crappy. For a couple years we did long distance. And it wasn't just like from DC to London. It was, you know, I deployed multiple times after we met. He did. I was traveling all the of the world. And we finally kind of came to a point where we were like,

Julia Taylor: you know, this is hard. So something needs to change. So I decided to leave my job with the government and I moved to the UK and got married and became a military wife, which I'm immensely proud of. My husband's now retired, but at the time, a military wife. And personal life was all awesome. However, my professional career really took a nose dive cuz I had this great job with the government and I was doing everything I always wanted to do with intelligence. And so, here I am in the UK. We moved all the time. So it was really hard to have a regular career, so to speak, with any sort of career progression. So, I went from one nine to five to another, and it was just really blah. I was living for the evenings and the weekends.

Julia Taylor: And that was it. It was just one of those jobs. And I was in one of those nine to fives, and this must have been probably 2014/2015 timeframe. I was in one of those jobs and out of nowhere, my boss walks in, and I sat there, kind of working away. I have no tech experience. Never learned how to code. I've never done anything with anything techy. When I was doing intelligent stuff, I had a degree in Russian, so farther end of the spectrum. And so my boss walks in and he says, I need our website to be able to do X. And it this functionality. It was adding an FAQ section, the collapsible kind of FAQ section. Now this was not on WordPress. This was on a very kind of clunky, old school, some other platform.

Julia Taylor: And he tells me that I need to figure it out, and then he leaves. And I have no idea. I know what he is asking for, but I don't know how to achieve it. So I looked at my colleague and he says, don't worry, let's Google it. So sure enough, I Googled, what he asked for. It comes up with this line of code. Now you can do drop and it's so much easier now. But at the time it was code. And I took this line of code. I put it into the backend of the website and sure enough, I saved and it worked. And that was like that aha moment where I thought to myself, well, hang on. If I just Googled how to do something and figured it out, is this something that I could learn more and potentially have a remote job. Because here all these years, I was following my husband's location-dependent job, but I didn't have a job or a career that was location-independent.

Julia Taylor: So that's what I needed. As I said, this must have been 2014 or 2015. And it took me a good couple years of learning as much as I could. Free resources, everything I could find building, WordPress, learning how to code all the things. And I applied to so many remote jobs and I heard back from zero . I think it must have been like 200 remote jobs that I applied for. I didn't have 20 years experience. I didn't have a degree. You know, all the reasons why no one would speak to me. And a friend of mine, who was retiring from the military to start his own small business said, why don't you build my website? I was like, that's not a real thing.

Julia Taylor: I was very reluctant to kind of go out on my own. I didn't know anyone who was an entrepreneur. I always wanted to work for someone else. I am an accidental entrepreneur. This is not normal. This is not comfortable. None of what I do is like, in me. I just do it because I love what I get to do. So, I built a website for him, reluctantly. And he loved it. And he said, why don't you do this? Why don't you build websites for small businesses? And I was, you know, that's not a real thing. No. Who actually does that? And sure enough, I finally came around to the idea and started a business, figured out how to find clients.

Julia Taylor: And I found a community, which was really helpful to kind of help guide me. And I started an agency. And that's kind of how I went from not knowing anything to building websites and fixing things. And I really was able to increase my rates very, very quickly, solely because I knew how to code. People would ask me to fix things or, you know, they got malware and can you clean it up? Yeah, of course I can. So that one thing, just because I knew how to code and I had learned how to troubleshoot and fix things and I didn't kind of freak out when tech didn't work. Like this morning, literally, my husband, something went wrong, "I hate tech!" . So I like to be that person where it's like, okay, let's figure it out. There is a reason and then you work through it. So that brought me to building websites and the agency, that I no longer have. But it kind of took me to that position in my business.

Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh. I can relate to so much of everything you said. I was just amazed that there were so many resources online of people just sharing answers and like putting snippets of code and telling how to fix things. My experience was, while I found it really, really helpful to go through forums and Stack Exchange and whatever, all of these places to find all of the answers and do trial and error. I asked questions maybe like two times in those forums and, oh my gosh, I got torn apart by the people. I have no idea who they were. I got the response of 'you shouldn't even be building a website if you have to ask that question'. And I was like, whoa, okay. Like duly noted, I won't ask another question. I will just try things to figure it out over and over and over again. I wonder what your experience was like in terms of, you know, actually interacting in those places.

Julia Taylor: Yeah. Literally what you just said there is my reason for being. And my reason for creating GeekPack is exactly that. Because I had the same experience. I was terrified of asking questions, and I did a couple times - Stack Exchange and other forums like that, Facebook groups, oh, my word.

Shannon Mattern: Even WordPress.org/forum.

Julia Taylor: Yes! Why do people have to be so mean? And it was, it was hard. And that was one of the reasons why it took me so long to learn, because I didn't have anywhere to ask questions without fear of ridicule. And I got plenty of ridicule and I was given a hard time. And I was told if you have to ask that question, clearly you have no idea what you're doing, or, you know, all the things. Where does that come from? And when I was first getting started, I hadn't had years of the mindset coaching that I've had now. Where now, you know, I can hear that and it's like, okay, that's their own issue, you know? Fine. I'm not gonna get involved. But at the time, talk about wanting me to, you know, never do this again.

Julia Taylor: I mean, it was really, really hard. So yeah, that is the entire reason why GeekPack exists. And it is exactly what it sounds like. A pack. It's a community, primarily of women. We have lots of awesome guys, but primarily women, in a community. We are geeky. We are techy. And there is no such thing as a silly question. It is literally not allowed in my community to be douchey, or to give anyone a hard time. You are not allowed in my community if you're like that. So I had the exact same experience. And I hate to think that any other woman would, and that's why I created the community that I did.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. And that's exactly why I created the community that I did. I was like, no one should ever be made to feel this way. I'm literally just trying to solve a problem. And I just remember even researching and having to read through 10 posts of people going back and forth at each other before I'm like, oh, the answer's down here, 15 posts later. Cuz somebody was nice enough to jump in and answer it and get through all of these arguments and, the same thing. I was like, I wanna create a safe space for people who don't wanna deal with this. And my community is mostly women. But I also like to think of it as like, you know, it's like the marginalized people or the people that don't fit that,

Shannon Mattern: and I don't wanna stereotype tech either, but like the bro tech culture of, you know, what we both experienced. And I remember having a Facebook group, I still have a Facebook group to support the Free 5-day Website Challenge. And I remember someone in that group doing that to someone else. And I was so triggered by that. I saw that post and just like a twang went through my body of the like, oh, this is not happening. And I just blocked that person, apologized to the person who asked the question, made a big statement of this behavior not tolerated, updated my group rules, all of these things. Cuz I have always said, you know, there are no dumb questions. You shouldn't already know the answer.

Shannon Mattern: You should feel safe to ask ANYTHING. Anything you want. And somehow I let a creep in, like sneak in . But I was so triggered by that. And I'm like, oh, this is why I do this. And this is why every time I'm like, it's time to update the Free 5-day Website Challenge cuz the tech has changed and whatever. And like Gutenberg came out and all of this stuff and I'm like, ah, I have to redo the whole thing. And I think that I'm like, I should just let it go. It's like, NO! This is such a needed thing. And that's why we resonate so much, with what you do with GeekPack. The difference between what you and I do is you take people under the hood of WordPress, right? Like, I always say 'you don't need to know how the engine is built to drive the car'. Right? That's the Free 5-day Website Challenge. You don't need to know how the engine is built to drive the car. But what you do is you're like, here's how the engine's built. You can build the car and you can fix the car whenever it breaks down.

Julia Taylor: Yeah.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. So you had a web design agency. Tell me a little bit more about when you launched GeekPack then.

Julia Taylor: Sure. So, it was the end of 2018 and we'd been in North Carolina. His work had moved him from the UK to North Carolina, and he was coming to the end of his career and he was about to retire. And it was kind of this, okay, well, you know, what's next? Because you know, does he get a "real job"? Or do we kind of just go out on a limb and try something else? And we did. We sold everything. We moved into an RV and we traveled all around the US for a year and a half. And we were looking for somewhere where we wanted to kind of settle, which we have found in Durango, Colorado. We love it here. But for that year and a half, we just traveled all over the US.

Julia Taylor: And when we first started traveling, I got an Instagram account. And I was sharing on Instagram kind of about where we were going and the RV life and all of that. And people were saying to me, how are you able to travel full time? Are your parents paying for it? Are you independently wealthy? You know, always assuming those things. I said, no, I taught myself how to a code. I taught myself how to build websites and fix problems. And I built a business that I can do from anywhere, an online business. And everyone said, okay, I want to learn how to do what you do. So I thought, Hmm, okay, cool. I've never taught anything before in my life, but I'll give it a go. So I actually created the Free 5-Day Coding Challenge, which is just covering HTML on CSS.

Julia Taylor: And it just goes into those two coding languages just to kind of give people a sneak peek and an idea of websites, all websites across the board, how they're kind of put together and how they're built. And just to kind of show that it's not this big, scary thing. It's actually not that hard. Anyone can learn how to do this. So I did that and people loved it and then they wanted to learn more. I thought, okay, well I'll create something That's WordPress specific. Cuz of course that was my bread and butter. So I created a program. It's called WPRockstar and it started out just complete WordPress skills, like from scratch. We did a lot of PHP, Media queries, Malware, hosting, migrations, all that sort of stuff. And then it developed into finding clients and starting an on-line business and using social media. It kind of became an all inclusive business in a box sort of thing, using WordPress.

Julia Taylor: So that's what we have now. Now I've got an incredible team of women who work for me and they get to work with the community, and GeekPack is the private community that comes along with WPRockstar. And I get to grow the business and do things like this and really kind of do more of the strategizing and coming up with a vision and how we're gonna get there. And I spend all my time pouring into my team and then they spend all their time pouring into my community. And it's just been such an amazing growth that we've kind of gone from where it was just me in the community for so long, and now there's seven of us on the team and we get to, you know, do all the things.

Julia Taylor: And I just love all the women on my team. They were students first, which is awesome. We have an internship program. So most of my team members came through the internship program. And then, you know, all those superstars, we get 'em on the team. They come from the community and they believe in our mission. They believe in our vision. They were that woman, just like us, who had negative experiences, tech, with people making fun of us, being ridiculed. And they have found this safe place and they want other women to find that safe place as well. So I love what I get to do now.

Shannon Mattern: Oh, so powerful. So I also work with web designers. I don't teach any skills. I don't teach any web design skill at all. I teach like, literally, how do you market your business? How do you manage projects? How do you deal with clients? All of that stuff. And I get so many people coming to me saying, I feel like I don't know enough yet. What if a client asks me to do something I don't know how to do, or what if something breaks and I can't fix it, or what if I build something wrong and I'm supposed, and I don't know what I don't know. And, you know, I always say that you're being paid not to already know, you're being paid to figure it out for them.

Shannon Mattern: They don't wanna figure it out. They're paying you to figure it out. But I love the community that you have created. So since we've really started to get to know each other, I'm like, well, if you feel that way, you need to just go check out WPRockstar, because I know that after you go through that, you will feel A) so confident that you now know what you didn't know before. You'll probably feel like, oh, wait, I knew more than I thought. And I have a community of techy women who are going to support me through anything that comes up. So I don't have to be this solopreneur that like, it's all on me. I have to figure it all out on my own. I have to wade through hours and hours of Google searches, YouTube videos, wading through all these guys bashing each other back and forth to get to the answer

Shannon Mattern: 15 questions down that resource. So I'm gonna link that up in the show notes, shannonmattern.com/375 for anybody that's listening that is a WordPress web designer who is holding themself back from really going all in because you have these things. You know, I can sit here and tell you like, oh, you can figure it out as you go, all day long. But also, why not just cut to the chase and get some really incredible resources and support through what you guys do.

Julia Taylor: Yeah. And that's such a big part of exactly what we offer. We've got the skills in the course, but really, when it comes down to it, it is the community because no WordPress project is ever the same. Ever! And it changes so quickly and so dramatically with every new update that comes out. So expecting you to be able to learn everything just in a course to know everything, that's not gonna happen. So having a safe place where you can go and you can ask specific questions. Maybe it's, you know, the old WordPress. Maybe it's the new WordPress. Maybe it's Page Builder, maybe it's Gutenberg. Maybe it's a plugin. There's so many different facets of WordPress is very intimidating. It is not user friendly.

Julia Taylor: And it's not something that anyone can just jump in and be an expert in. So that's exactly ,again, why we have the community and all of my team. I mean, I'm not a WordPress expert anymore. I would love to be, but instead, I have to be an adult and focus on the business and growing the business. But I have team members who stay very up to date on everything that's happening. And, they're constantly kind of trying things out in a development environment and they're troubleshooting. And I mean, the amount of times in the community where there are screenshots of a bit of code, and it's just like, okay, what am I not seeing here? Oh, you know, it's just a second set of eyes troubleshooting a little bit. Hey, can you open this site in your, Incognito window? Is it looking like this for you? Can you check it out on your phone? It's just that back and forth. And having people who will not give you a hard time, will support you, encourage you, constructive feedback. And yeah, it's everything that I wish that I had when I was learning.

Shannon Mattern: Uh, so good. So I wanna touch on, you know, you were the company, you were GeekPack, you were running everything, you were answering all the questions, doing all the teaching, all the things. And I am in that similar space where now I'm transitioning. You said it earlier, and you said it beautifully. It's like, now it's your job to pour into your team so that they can pour into your clients. And that's the transition that I'm in the middle of making now. My role in the business at this point is to grow a team, to serve and support our students and our clients. Because I have realized that I'm doing a disservice to them by it being only me. It is a very risky thing to ask them to invest in when I am the only one providing the service. And it's not sustainable. It's not scalable. So what was that transition like for you? What was the realization where you're like, oh, this can't be me anymore. What did that look like for you?

Julia Taylor: It took a long time. I didn't know how to delegate. I didn't really want to delegate. I like to call myself a recovering perfectionist. I like things done my way. I've learned over the years that other people's ways are just fine, if not sometimes better than my way. And it's taken a good couple years of letting go of the reins of some of the things. And I literally had the conversation this morning with my COO, she's actually my stepdaughter, about the marketing side of things. That's the last thing that I'm holding onto because it's so much of me, and it doesn't need to be. I don't need to be doing that. So that's probably the last piece that I will start to kind of let go.

Julia Taylor: But it just took a lot of trust and a lot of time to do that. And have things gone wrong. Yeah, of course. Has the business blown up? No. Has there been anything catastrophic? Absolutely not. And that's what I just have to remind myself all the time. And it was just a phase. I brought in my first employee, my stepdaughter. She's obviously in the UK, so she's a foreign contractor, but she works in the business full time and she has literally done every single job in the business, as did I. Like you said, I did all of it. She's done all of it. And now we've brought in other folks to do other things. And to be honest, I have a couple coaches that I speak to about regularly because it's not something I can just do overnight.

Julia Taylor: It did take time. It took a lot from them to kind of work through how to delegate and how to let things go. And come to find out, you know, my team is better at a lot of things than I am. And they take such good care of my students. And I think a lot of it is because they came from the community first and they believe so much in what we do, they do the same for them. They were in that position and they want to be, you know, a part of it. So when I first got started, I loved coding. I loved kind of getting in and just figuring things out. And then when I started kind of building websites for clients and seeing how much they loved the product, I loved that.

Julia Taylor: And then I started teaching students. And students were having better success than me. And I loved that even more. And then the thing that's really been the cherry on top is ever since building a team, which I was really resistant to, it seems like everything I'm resistant to actually kind of works out , so I should remember that, but when I started building a team and seeing how much they love doing what they do and how much the community grew when it wasn't just me, I loved that even more. I love my team so much because they enable us to have a bigger community. And all I want for the business is I want the business to grow so I can hire more people on my team to grow the community even more.

Julia Taylor: Cause it's not just me. Am I the face? Yes. You know, am I the owner? Yes. But there's so much more to it. And I said this to someone recently, every time I go into GeekPack, which I don't do all that regularly because my team takes care of everything, but when I do, when I go into GeekPack, maybe someone tags me or something, and every time someone tags me to thank me for the program or for this and that, it's never just me. It's always me and the team. Or they'll tag everyone else on the team. And that brings me so much joy that not only do I know that my team is doing so much, but all of my communities see that as well. They know it's not the Julia Show. They know that there is a whole team behind me that is making everything run very smoothly. And we have lots of very, very happy and successful students because of it.

Shannon Mattern: Uh, I love that. I love that. And, you know, that's where I'm at. Of course people are like, oh, I vibe with you. I wanna work with you. But, ultimately, that's not why they're there. They're there to build the life and business of their dreams, and whether it's me or an incredible team doing it doesn't really matter as long as they get the outcome that they're there for. And 2021 was the year of actually getting help with contractors. Now, 2022, I'm hiring full-time employees. And I'm like, oh my gosh, this is legit. This is happening . Now I'm starting to think about, and I've never started to think about this until this year, but what could this look like if I wasn't the face of it anymore?

Shannon Mattern: You know? I was the owner of it, but maybe not the operator. And I still was the steward of it and I was taking care of it and making sure that it thrived and that it was having the impact. But, you know, it could be very possible, like for you, that I could be having this podcast interview with someone else talking about GeekPack. Right? You know, like in the future, that could be someone else promoting the Web Designer Academy for me. And so that's kind of where I'm starting to see this possibility of like, oh, wait, it doesn't have to just be me.

Julia Taylor: Yeah. It's a bit of a mind shift as well, because I don't like to think too much of myself, but I think naturally, when it's you in the business grinding all the time and hustling, that you think that you are such a big part of it.

Shannon Mattern: Or so many people are counting on me. So many people are counting on me. That's what it is. Not like, oh, I'm so awesome. It's like, no, so many people are counting on me.

Julia Taylor: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. But yet, when you do kind of start to delegate and start to let go a bit, and then realize that everything is absolutely fine and sometimes it's even better. It's kind of like, oh, okay, well, now, if I don't have to be doing this all the time then someone else can. Like someone else does my emails, which is amazing. I see what I need to see, but for the most part that's all handled. Students, potential students, we do personal videos for new students that join. I don't do those anymore. Someone else on my team does. And it's all absolutely fine. And it just took that, you know, people were relying on me, well, no. Actually they have their own dreams for themselves, just like you said. And whatever mechanism gets them there, so long as it's good and it's quality and it's supported and it's encouraged, and all the things, then who the person is doesn't really matter.

Shannon Mattern: Uh, so good. So you mentioned earlier, you've done a lot of mindset work throughout your business, and I also have done a lot of mindset work because at some point I realized it's no longer strategy and mechanics. Like, I can't buy another course on webinars. And, you know, like I already know how to do this. There's something else going on here. Right? I'd love to know a little bit about your journey into mindset work as you were growing your business and kind of what that looked like for you.

Julia Taylor: Yeah. Gosh, I've got two in particular, mindset coaches, that I've worked with for the last few years. And I think at first it was just a lot of imposter syndrome. And I don't think that will ever go away. It just changes form as you kind of grow and scale and get to new kind of levels. And then you have imposter syndrome around other big things. Whereas when I first got started, and I think a lot of it goes back to the instances that we both had where we were given a hard time for trying to learn tech and not knowing the answer to something. And that followed me for a long time. And is it still there in the back of my head?

Julia Taylor: Yeah, sure. But, you know, I know how to deal with it. And I know that it's okay. There's always gonna be naysayers. There's always gonna be people that are not very nice. And again, that's their issue. That's not mine. I will continue doing what I love, what I believe in. And I've got thousands of women in my community love what we do. So I will continue to plow forward. This one negative Nancy will not stop me from doing that. So at the beginning it was a lot of imposter syndrome and things like that. And recently I've gotten into the Enneagram. So I'm an Ingram 9. And I have learned so much about myself through that. And I always used to be very ashamed of myself with how much I cared about other people and making sure that other people were always happy.

Julia Taylor: I do not take criticism very well. I can be very emotional, I mean, a sappy commercial could set me off. And if anything was ever kind of off kilter, it would just affect me for the whole day. And it wasn't until the next day when I could kind of get out of whatever the funk was. And figuring out those things about me, both personally and professionally, I've been able to kind of recognize those things, and that's okay. Like, that's me. I believe that my team and my community are better places because I care. Because I am not cutthroat. Because, you know, I do want people around me to be happy. So I know that there's a lot of positives to that, but there's also things where I need to protect my time and protect my emotions from negative things that could come up.

Julia Taylor: So just kind of digging into the Enneagram a little bit more, and I know the Enneagram numbers of everyone on my team, and it's so interesting to kind of see how things play out and all that. So those have been the biggest things, learning about the Enneagram as I built my team, and working with a coach who specifically kind of works with us as a team to make sure everyone's happy and doing what they love and getting things done and being productive and efficient and all that. So, yeah, the Enneagram has been a big thing. Is that something that you're familiar with?

Shannon Mattern: Oh, yeah, for sure. When I took the test, I was like an Even Steven 3-6-9, same score all the way across. And then my good friend, and the person who introduced us to it, she was like, go ahead and read all of these in depth and see which one you resonate with the most. And I think a 3 is really where I land. But I think, I can't remember, they talk about like, you go to a 9 in health and a 6 in unhealth, or something like that. So, yeah, definitely. I find it fascinating and I was like, oh, this explains a lot about why I do certain things the way that I do them. And I couldn't agree more. Just like awareness is so helpful just to not beat myself up or think that I should be different or all of those things.

Shannon Mattern: It's like, oh, I see why I have a tendency to overwork. It's very clear right here in this Enneagram 3. It's like spelled out for me and just accepting those parts of myself. And, you know, I work with mindset coaches too, to kind of help me dig into like, what's underneath that. Where does it come from? How can you have some compassion for yourself? And then also, how can you maybe heal that need a different way that's more healthy for you and sustainable for you over the long term? Because you started your business in, what? You said 2014, 2015?

Julia Taylor: I started learning in 2014, 2015, and I didn't officially kind of get started until about 2017.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. I mean, we've been at this for a long time, you know? It takes a certain kind of person to persist and pursue that growth and keep going. And I think this is so funny. I always say there's no such thing as being techy. I think it's being persistent and being determined to figure anything out. Right? I think that's the definition of techy. Like we're not born understanding tech better than you, listener, who is like, I'm not techy. That has nothing to do with it. It's like I'm persistent and I will figure anything out. And that's kind of how I've treated my business in a way I don't know if you can relate to that.

Shannon Mattern: But yeah, that kind of all comes back to the mindset stuff. And we were chitchatting a little bit before we got started about whoa, two years of pandemic grind. And I'm honestly kind of coming out of a burnout phase that I didn't really know I was in until, you know, hindsight. You know what they say. Hindsight's 2020. But that's Enneagram 3. That unhealthy part of my Enneagram 3 that just drives me to kind of take it past the point of healthy for me. Yeah. So I was just curious about, you know, as we were chit chatting, what was your experience, it's almost two years now, of what that has been like for you and your business? My business has been more successful in the past two years than any other year, and I'm tired.

Julia Taylor: Yeah. And that's what I hear from so many other entrepreneurs. Exactly that. And I had a huge growth period in my business in 2020 and business just blew up, which was fantastic. And then all of last year was kind of growth internally. So we went from two people on the team to seven last year. We grew. The business did grow, but there was a lot of investment into the team, into coaching, into other traffic sources. So, you know, we're not solely relying on Facebook ads and paid advertising. So there was a lot of investment into the business last year. And there was a lot of kind of pivoting. If something wasn't working, it was okay, how do we fix that?

Julia Taylor: And then try something else. And nothing was kind of planned out massively ahead of time. We had a couple launches, which were great. But apart from that, it was constantly kind of chasing the next thing because nothing seemed to be working. So last year was a very weird year. An amazing year, you know, for the business, just internally on the growth side. But exhausting. I've never had a word of the year, and I thought this year, it just needs to be simpler. So, simplicity. Simplicity is what we're aiming for. And, you know, it's all well and good, but who knows what's gonna be kind of thrown at us. But it has, it's been hard. And I feel like I'm the same.

Julia Taylor: I just put my head down and just do it. Um, nothing is ever too big or too hard. It's just a matter of, you know, how am I gonna get it done? Is there someone on the team who can do it? No. Okay. Well, you know, I, I will get in and I will get it done and it'll be great and it'll be fine, but I will be exhausted afterward. And that happened a lot last year. And I, I feel like I took some time off of the Christmas break and, and I'm still the struggling to kind of get back into things and here we're, you know, almost all the way through January. So I think it is just, um, just taking it slow and, and, and recognizing I I'm very good at not, uh, not recognizing successes and not recognizing wins. Like if we have, if something good happens is like, okay, cool, what's next, constantly going on to the next thing.

Julia Taylor: Whereas actually, you know, I, I love doing these, these podcasts because I get to kind of reflect back on, on where the business has come and what we've, what we've accomplished and the, the women that we employ and the, the women that we've impacted and the ones who have gone on to make more than they ever have before, and, and be able to stay home with their kids or travel, you know, all these things. So it is just taking that time to reflect and, and remember all the good things, uh, and, and know that this is just one of those seasons of business. I mean, every business has seasons, just like we normally do. And it's just one of those where rest is, is important and try not to give myself too much of a hard time, uh, and, and kind of take it, take it as, as I go.

Julia Taylor: I I've heard a lot of other business owners and entrepreneurs who have, um, just immediately just shut up their business down. They, you know, they they're like, oh, I just wanna burn it to the ground. They're just walking away. And I, I don't ever wanna get to that point. Have I been close? Yeah. Who hasn't, but it's it it's how do I kind of just come back a little bit and, and reflect on, on what we've done and just know that growth will happen, but it may not be at the ridiculous pace that it did, you know, in 2020. Um, so it, it is just trying to be, um, mindful of, um, of, of what we've done, where we are now, where we're gonna go and, and just recognize that it'll, it will happen when it happens.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. And, you know, I just, for, for people listening to this, who you get to these points in your business where like, things do feel hard and, you know, you're, it's not like, don't think that you're doing it wrong and that it shouldn't be that way. Like, of course we wanna recognize that, and we wanna course correct, but like, it's not like you shouldn't ever hit up a against those things and that you are doing something wrong that you should never experience that. I don't wanna, like normalize overworking in that feeling, but like the moment you start feeling that way, like pay attention, get some support. Um, but it also is like just the normal course of, of, um, um, kind of going through this, going on this journey. Like, there's just things that you can't anticipate that you don't, that you don't know.

Shannon Mattern: Um, and going it alone. I was like a lone Wolf for the first, I don't know how many years of my business that was hard. Now I have support when, when I'm like, okay, I here's, you know, I can just go into like the, the co the coaching program that I'm in verbal vomit, whatever's going on. And like, let someone help me sift through, um, you know, what's real, what's, you know, all of the, all of those things, and that has been transf transformational for me to just even give myself the gift of the support to get through that.

Julia Taylor: Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Shannon Mattern: So we have a lot of web designers listening to this podcast. Um, I want to, and, and you, you ran, you were a designer, you had an agency and now you teach people how to, you know, market themselves. What are some of your, um, like best what's some of your best advice for someone who is like, ah, how do I put myself out there? How do I get clients? You know, how do I, how do I get this thing off the

Julia Taylor: Ground? Yeah. Oh, gosh. So, you know, the, the loaded question, isn't it, it's like, it's like pricing right. That's always such a hard question. Um, the thing that I tell my students to do first thing, as soon as they join and do all of them, no, because it it's, it's not very comfortable. Would I have? No, I wouldn't have, but I tell them to, to change their title on their social media platforms. Um, because there's, there's like in practice, just changing your title to web designer, web developer, WordPress ninja, like, you know, whatever, whatever your social media manager, VA, whatever it is, if you change that in like practically, there's so long as you have a, you know, decent number of friends and, and, and family and, and networks on there, um, there's a, a good chance that someone will see that and we'll go, oh, I didn't know you did that.

Julia Taylor: I know someone who needs X, Y, and Z, that happens to my students all the time. Now, do you do that? And then profess that you are an expert and charge, you know, tens of thousands of dollars. No. You know, if, if you're just getting started, you know, be honest. Um, but there's nothing wrong with, with changing that title. And then, and then if someone broaches a conversation, you can, you know, discuss where you are in your journey. That's totally fine, but there's something on, on the mindset side as well, where by professing that, and by kind of putting that out there, you are a lot more, are likely to, um, think like a web designer make decisions like a web designer believe that you are, because you've, it it's like becoming Facebook official. When, you know, back in the day when Facebook was, was, was new.

Julia Taylor: Uh, and you, you were in a relationship with someone and becoming Facebook official. Like that was, that was official than you actually saying to your, your new boyfriend or girlfriend let let's, you know, go out. So it's kind of like that, where there's, there's the practical side to it, but there's also the mindset bit of, okay, I've just put this out to the world. This is, this is what I do now. And, and I'm gonna believe it. And I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna make decisions on, I'm gonna, I'm gonna set aside time in my day to become better at that craft, because I've now said that this is what I do. It's almost kind of like w when you, when you speak things into the universe and they happen, or when you, when you actually physically write something down and it happens, it's a very similar thing.

Julia Taylor: So that's always one of the first things that I, cuz it's super easy to do. Um, that being said, it's also very uncomfortable and a lot of people, um, you know, don't like it . Um, so that's, that's the, the first thing that I always tell people. And another thing that I like to get my students to do is a, an exercise that we call the, the Google map method. Now, I, I started showing them how to do this. Um, not long after COVID hit because local businesses really, really struggled. So brick and mortar, local, small, uh, businesses, they had to, to shut their doors. So if they didn't have have an online option, then that they didn't have any revenue coming in. But, um, one thing that I love about Google maps is you can like walk around downtown while never leaving your home.

Julia Taylor: So this is also perfect for introverts . So I, I would kind of show them how using Google maps. You could walk your, your local kind of downtown, virtually, and you can, you know, go through the front door. I E look at their profile and Google maps and go and check out their website and, you know, all these things. And we, we created, um, some like website optimization checklist for them to use because sometimes offering on a website is kind of like saying, Hey, let's get married on the first date. So I wanted ways that my students could kind of ease into relationships with, with some local small businesses and things like, you know, just are they showing up on Google? Um, is there website optimized for a phone? Can you know, what, what SIM things could they do my students to help out these local, small businesses while building a portfolio for themselves while possibly getting a testimonial and a referral and, and things like that. So that's another thing that I, I enjoy showing, uh, people how to do, because it's an easy way to, again, if you're, if you're an introvert and you're, you know, you're not big and kind of one on one in real life, then this is a way that you can still add a ton of value and help people out who need it and get some practice under your belt.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. And I know for me, it was so hard for me to say I was a web designer for, I had, I probably built 50 websites and still like having a hard time saying it because just probably because of the imposter syndrome from that, those early experiences. And I remember the first time I did say it to someone, I was, I just, my face turned red. I was like, oh my gosh, I just lied to her. Like, who am I to say that, you know, but it is just, like you said, you're making a declaration. You you're making a declaration. You're kind of just saying like, this is what I do. And you know, that's really the most powerful one you can make cuz everything else, like you said is just talking about here's how I can help you. Here's how I can help you.

Shannon Mattern: It's not about me anymore. I'm gonna say that. So it's very clear, but then it becomes about me anymore. It becomes all about you and how I can help you reach your goals and dreams and marketing becomes way easier when you're not talking all about yourself and how awesome you are and all the things and all your, you know, all your skills and certifications and all of those things are amazing, but your clients care like what it's gonna do for them more than they care that you know, you know, PHP and CSS and all of those things, even though it is very helpful to know all of those things to provide all of, of, um, services. Oh my gosh, I could talk to you for like another hour. Uh, but we are running out of time. I wanna ask you a question that I ask everyone that comes on the show and that is what belief about yourself. Did you have to change to get to where you are today?

Julia Taylor: Gosh, that I am a lot more resilient than I ever would've given myself credit for. I'm a lot, uh, stronger. I can, I can, I can deal with things better than I ever would've thought. Um, but yeah, resilient because you know, when you, if, if you never think that you're gonna be an entrepreneur, if you never think you're gonna have an online business, if you all, if you think you're always gonna have a normal job and then you're, you're gonna retire, you know, do all the normal things. It's not so normal anymore. But you know, back in the day it was, um, to, to kind of have something thrown at you that is, is wildly different, um, is, is, you know, takes, takes a lot of, it's scary, you know, it's not all that comfortable. And I think if I, if I look back to where I was five, seven years ago, if someone had said I to be, you know, at the end of the day, yes, we, we do teach women tech skills.

Julia Taylor: But at the end of the day, we're, we're empowering women to, to, to invest in themselves to learn this, this quote unquote hard skill to then go on and be able to live the life that they, they really want. And that is to terrifying, um, for me to think back, you know, what I was doing to where I am now and, you know, I wouldn't have, I wouldn't be where I am now. If I hadn't kind of done all the things and realized I love learning to code, I love building websites. I love seeing my students succeed. I love having a team and now I get to do that. And it, it just took a whole heck of a lot of, of resiliency and, um, and just working on myself as well. The, you know, we talked a lot about the mindset stuff. Um, but I, I never, in a million years would've, um, given myself enough credit back then that I could do, uh, what I'm doing now. And I, sometimes I have like an outer body experience. It's like, you know, is this, is this really what I get to do all the time? Um, so yeah, I'm, I'm, I'm a lot more, I'm a lot stronger, a lot more resilient. Um, and, and I, I, um, I'm a lot happier with myself, um, than I ever thought I would be.

Shannon Mattern: Oh, that is the perfect place to wrap up this episode. Can you, uh, tell everyone listening where they can go connect with, um, with GeekPack, with w P rockstar with you? All of the things?

Julia Taylor: Yeah. The easiest place is just to go to geek, pac.com. Um, go to my website, we've got everything there, all the, uh, YouTube videos. We've got all the resources, free resources, you know, courses and everything is all there. That will be the, the easiest place for sure.

Shannon Mattern: Well, I will link that up at, in our show notes@shannonmatter.com slash 375. Julia, thank you so much for being here today. It was so great to, uh, learn more about you and your story. I really appreciate

Julia Taylor: It. Absolutely. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.

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