Merry Christmas from Scotland

By StrangeWork.com: I’m writing this blog post from my sister’s house in Carlops, Scotland.

Brad and Dad in ScotlandMy dad and I flew over to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and new niece for Christmas in Scotland this year. We’ve had a great time so far! This is actually my fourth trip to Scotland so I’m somewhat of a pro at it.

At a dinner party last night we met the local neighbors. Shortly into the conversation someone mentioned Facebook, and how that is the only way they can keep tabs on their son. Amazingly everyone, old and young alike, knew of Facebook and most had their own accounts. I never realized how universal Facebook was until that point. It truly is worldwide and growing fast. Pretty amazing really.

Tomorrow we are having a huge Christmas feast at my brother-in-laws parents house and exchanging presents. Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

New Jersey WordPress Meetup coming in January

By StrangeWork.com: New Jersey now has an official WordPress Meetup Group! My company, WebDevStudios.com, is organizing the event and working to build a fun group of WordPress enthusiasts.

The WordPress Meetup Group is meeting on

January 7th, 2009 in Belmar, NJ

Proudly Powered by WordPressThis blog has been powered by WordPress since it’s launch over 2 years ago. Most of you know I’ve been a big fan of WordPress since then. We use WordPress on many different projects, some we can talk about, and some we can’t. Our goal is to create a fun group of WordPress users that want to come to the beautiful Jersey shore in January!

We plan on discussing a variety of topics including WordPress usage, designing WordPress Themes and styles, creating WordPress Plugins and Widgets, and using WordPress to its full potential. This is going to be a fun and informal way to meet WordPress fanatics just like yourself and share your experiences with the popular open source software.

We are also planning on learning about and working with WordPress MU, BuddyPress, and bbPress! Be sure to RSVP for the event on the Official New Jersey Meetup Group registration page. We’re looking forward to meeting all of you there for a fun evening of WordPress!

Getting Organized with FreshBooks Online Invoicing

By StrangeWork.com: Starting a company is hard, and staying organized is even harder. I started full time at WebDevStudios.com back in April of this year. At the start I was tracking invoices using a mix of spreadsheets and word documents. This method wasn’t too bad until I actually started getting more clients. I quickly realized this solution was not going to work for my invoicing needs.

FreshBooks.com LogoEnter FreshBooks.com, the online invoicing system for small businesses and contractors. FreshBooks in a few words, is freaking amazing! For just a few dollars a month I can now track all of my invoices online and it’s completely themed to match my business, including our logo. All of my invoices are now sent through the FreshBooks web portal and can be scheduled to send automatically if needed.

FreshBooks couldn’t be easier to create, maintain, and track invoices, clients, estimates, projects, and time. Invoices are emailed directly to my clients, who can then gain access to their own FreshBooks account to track all of their invoices from my company. It provides my clients with an entire new set of tools they didn’t have before. They can view what they have paid to date, view open invoices, and can even pay current invoices online.

At the end of the day being paid if the most important part of any small business. FreshBooks is a no brainer for online invoicing, but if you haven’t checked them out yet do it today! You won’t be disappointed.

What can we learn from Pownce.com shutting down?

By StrangeWork.com: News broke today that the micro-blogging service Pownce.com will be closing down on December 15th.

Pownce.com LogoI first wrote about Pownce back in July of 2007 when they launched in private beta. I even wrote some fun scripts that interact with the Pownce API, but in the end Pownce lost the fight and is closing down.

So what can we learn from the failure of Pownce?

Stay lean – Pownce was a pretty lean company for the most part, but how lean were they really? CrunchBase lists Pownce as having 6 employees, which isn’t bad considering some startups out there. Overall I think Pownce was very lean which is a plus.

Be unique – Sure Pownce had some unique features (meetings, images, events), but overall they were a juiced up Twitter. Even in 2007 Twitter dominated the micro-blogging space, so what did Pownce really offer over Twitter? It sure wasn’t the member base size, and the features weren’t unique enough to pull users away from Twitter.

Monetize – I would love to see the stats on the number of Pownce premium accounts vs. bandwidth costs. Did the premium accounts cover the bandwidth/servers costs? My guess is not since they are shutting down, but it would be interesting to see. Launching a new website service is easy, but making money from that site is not. Have a plan on how to make money to offset the costs of hosting/maintenance/support/service. You don’t need to be profitable right away, but you can only lose money for so long before going belly up.

Pownce had a head start from the launch with a name like Kevin Rose behind it, so it is surprising to see it close down so shortly after launching. With every great failure there is a great lesson to be learned. It’s always nicer learning that lesson from someone else rather than ourselves.