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Business and work Events and Life Mindsets Useful stuff

Tips for remote work newbies

One of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is that more people find themselves needing to work remotely after having worked in a more conventional office environment for most of their careers.

Shifting to remote work can be a little disconcerting. Fortunately there are substantial resources to help you work productively, remotely.

Automattic is a totally distributed company, and we have some expertise in how to make this work. As a starting point, take a look at these posts from members of our team:

Of course, we’re not the only ones who know how to make remote work work. Here are more resources:

If you find yourself totally confused about the fundamentals, this may help (or amuse you, which also helps): I Work from Home | The New Yorker.

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Categories
Blogs and blogging Business and work Creative expression

Build a membership site with recurring payments

We launched a new Recurring Payments feature for self-hosted WordPress.org sites (powered by Jetpack) or WordPress.com sites today. It’s an awesome new way for anyone with a paid WordPress.com plan to earn money through their sites.

Our new Recurring Payments feature for WordPress.com and Jetpack-powered sites lets you do just that: it’s a monetization tool for content creators who want to collect repeat contributions from their supporters, and it’s available with any paid plan on WordPress.com.

Let your followers support you with periodic, scheduled payments. Charge for your weekly newsletter, accept monthly donations, sell yearly access to exclusive content — and do it all with an automated payment system.

A New Way to Earn Money on WordPress.com — The WordPress.com Blog

The model is similar to Patreon in that you can give your fans a way to support you with recurring payments. This is a great way to build an income through your site.

Here are a few things you can do with this new feature (borrowing from our announcement post):

  • Accept ongoing payments from visitors directly on your site.
  • Bill supporters automatically, on a set schedule. Subscribers can cancel anytime from their WordPress.com account.
  • Offer ongoing subscriptions, site memberships, monthly donations, and more, growing your fan base with exclusive content.
  • Integrate your site with Stripe to process payments and collect funds.

One reason I really like the Recurring Payments feature is that it gives anyone with a paid plan (whether it’s a WordPress.com Personal plan, or a higher plan) a way to create a membership site that can help them grow a following, and a new income stream.

Ad revenue is a popular way of earning money through your site (we offer a WordAds ad platform, for example), but ad revenue really depends on substantial numbers of visitors to turn into meaningful income.

On the other hand, receiving recurring payments from a smaller group of passionate supporters just seems to be more sustainable, and meaningful.

It’s hard to be creative when you’re worried about money. Running ads on your site helps, but for many creators, ad revenue isn’t enough. Top publishers and creators sustain their businesses by building reliable income streams through ongoing contributions.

This new feature empowers creators, bloggers, knowledge workers, <insert your title here> to share something of value with your audience, and build a sustainable business in the process.

Find out more here: Recurring Payments — Support — WordPress.com.

Featured image by Nicholas Green
Categories
Business and work Events and Life Mindsets Writing

In person kudos at the Automattic Grand Meetup

Appreciating our colleagues

We have an amazing culture at Automattic that includes giving each other kudos as one form of recognition for great work, whether that’s delivering happiness to a customer, or to each other.

Typically we use a Slack bot to share kudos, and that’s posted to an internal WordPress site dedicated to showcasing internal kudos.

At the Grand Meetup (which we attended in mid-September – I’ll probably share more from that soon), we also have the option of giving handwritten kudos to each other. I like the ease of giving digital kudos, and at the same time I really like being able to write a note to my colleagues to express my appreciation for their efforts.

Kudos IRL

This year I was fortunate to receive a few cards from my colleagues, and really appreciate each of them.

I decided against sharing details of all of the cards I received as the messages can be pretty personal. At the same time, I’m grateful for each card.

Categories
Business and work Coding Mindsets Policy issues

New Automattic research on how to improve gender representation for technical roles

Our team has just released a white paper titled “Trust, Growth,Inclusion: A Study ofWomen Engineers’Job-Search Priorities” that explores what motivates women and non-binary technical professionals to join companies, and what helps retain them.

Better gender representation is a challenge. I’m proud of our team’s efforts to better understand this challenge, and how to meet it. It’s clearly not something that’s capable of a simple fix, but I’m glad that we seem to be moving in a good direction. Here are some links if you’re interested in reading further:


If you’re interested in joining Automattic, we’re hiring people for a number of roles, especially in Engineering!

Categories
Business and work Coding Useful stuff

Tips for being productive on GitHub

I spend much of my day interacting with GitHub in one form or another as part of my day job, even though I’m not working at Automattic as a software developer. Between coding little scripts to make me more efficient, and managing or contributing to work-related projects, I use GitHub daily.

This is why I enjoyed Darren Burns’ post titled “8 Productivity Tips for GitHub” that he published on his blog, and on Dev.

GitHub is built with some extremely helpful shortcuts and productivity-boosting features. From personal experience, however, it’s clear that these often fall under the radar amongst developers. If I’ve ever witnessed a specific GitHub feature surprise or assist someone, then that feature is on this page. That said, what follows is by no means an exhaustive list.

Darren Burn

If you’re also a bit of a productivity geek, and spend time in GitHub, you may find some useful tips here.

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Categories
Applications Business and work Mindsets Useful stuff

A vague Notion of a more productive system

I spent a little time in my Pocket recommendations, and found this great post by Marie Poulin titled “One Tool To Rule Them All” and her, and her partner’s search for a more effective, more complete productivity solution. Along the way, she considered Bullet Journals.

I wanted to get on the bullet journal bandwagon, but the sheer inefficiency of hand-drawing the same lines, shapes, numbers, and tasks week after week, and month after month made me twitchy.

Looking at some of those bullet journal masterpieces made me wonder, how much of bullet journaling is just…productivity porn? Are people creating entirely separate accounts for their bullet journaling as a creative outlet, or to distract themselves from actually getting shit done?

Marie Poulin

I’ve been curious about bullet journals, too, but I found myself having similar doubts about how effective the method would be for me. I much prefer digital productivity tools, largely because I’m really apprehensive about having a productivity solution without a backup and sync option.

Also, I really have to watch out for my tendency to go down a complete “productivity tool testing” rabbit hole, and literally lose days testing solutions without actually getting anything done.

Poulin and her partner settled on tool called Notion, that looks pretty promising. I like how flexible the service seems to be. I like how Evernote uses a notebook metaphor with fairly free form notes as a way to capture information. That said, I don’t seem to use Evernote all that much lately (for a couple reasons).

If you do think that Bullet Journal is the option for you, definitely read Jamie Rubin’s post titled “Bullet Journal: One Book to Rule Them All“:

I recently began using a Bullet Journal. Longtime readers who recall my going paperless days might find this odd. My going paperless experiment was just that–an experiment to see how far I could go without paper. Eventually, I decided that there were good reasons (for me) to continue to use paper. I’ve been carrying around Field Notes notebooks for years. I use notebooks for work, and large Moleskine notebooks for my journal/commonplace book. So why a Bullet Journal, and why now…?

Jamie Rubin

For the time being, I’m clinging to a semblance of productivity with Remember the Milk as my main task list. Now and then, I’ll use Evernote to add a task to RTM by syncing between the two services.

The benefit of this approach is that it enables me to associate a task with a note containing relevant materials. Like most things in my life, it’s very much a work in progress that’s hampered by my erratic discipline.

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Categories
Business and work Events and Life Travel and places

When Automatticians meet up

Being a distributed team has its challenges (and loads of benefits, too). We meet up with our teams at least once a year in person (last year our team met up in Rome), and the whole company meets up once a year for our Grand Meetup.

Aside from these meetups, Automatticians also meet up in their respective cities or regions now and then. These don’t always happen as frequently, but they’re a lot of fun when they do! Here’s a recent dinner with some of my Canadian colleagues, courtesy of a post from Jen:

When Sandy first started working for Automattic he was the only employee living in Nova Scotia. Today we have 8, which is pretty awesome for our small province within a worldwide distributed company. Since our company is distributed we are given an allowance to have holiday dinners within our own areas and get together with […]

Jen McFadden

It’s also worth reading Matt Mullenweg’s post about the importance of meeting in person:

Categories
Business and work Mindsets Useful stuff

A desperate plea to MS Office lovers everywhere

Dear MS Office lover

Although I don’t see the appeal*, I understand that you love using Microsoft Office for your daily tasks. It seems like pretty good software, and if it helps you become more efficient, then that’s terrific.

Anyhoo, I’ve noticed that many of you have a tendency to do some interesting things with MS Office in order to share things with the rest of us. For example, to –

  • share images by adding them to your Word documents;
  • paste bits of text into other Word documents, and then emailing them;
  • create PowerPoint slides for newsletters; and
  • take notes in Excel spreadsheets*.

Another Pro tip is not to send Word documents by email, unless you want to collaborate with someone, and intend for them to edit the document and send it back. If you’d like to share a letter by email (consider just sending the text as the email), save the Word document as a PDF instead. It will look the same on every device that can read it. Unlike Word documents*.

I’m a big fan of using your tools to do cool, interesting things. I’m also a fan of using a tool appropriately. Striking a balance between these two isn’t always easy, and erring on the side of innovation is a good thing, too.

That said, it’s also important to think outside the box here. MS Office isn’t the sum total of what’s available to you.

If you need to share a snippet of text in an email, paste it into the email. If you need to share an image, please don’t add it to a Word document first. Just attach the image, like you were planning to do with the Word document containing the image to your email.

Email is cool like that, it can handle so many types of content.

Oh, if you prefer writing your blog posts in Word, remember that copying and pasting into your blog editor of choice can carry across Word’s silly formatting too. If you happen to be using the Classic editor in WordPress, read this guide to stripping out that formatting cruft so your posts look the way they’re meant to.

If you’re using the new WordPress Editor (aka Gutenberg), you should be able to just paste your text, and the editor will remove that extra stuff automatically.

So please, please, rethink how you use use your MS Office tools for the sake of our continued sanity. It’s the productivity equivalent of “Be kind, rewind”.

*On the few occasions I use conventional office productivity software, I prefer using LibreOffice or Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, but that’s just my choice.

*Why not just use Word for this?

*But, seriously, just add the text to an email and send it directly. It works far better.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Bethany Legg