345 – Don’t make websites for friends and family

“Thinking the unthinkable (TTUT). Episode 345: Don’t make websites for friends and family” with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

It’s the 17th episode of our “Thinking the Unthinkable” series and our topic is  “Don’t make websites for friends and family”.

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What people have clients who are not friends?

Talking points.

What you are selling and to who.

How people will view this may vary depending on how much they see themselves as selling a product and how much they are providing a service… and the expected length of the service.

You know, the more that I think about this, the more it makes me think that I really could never have been more than a ‘reasonably earning’ freelancer. I really did / do like to make sure that what I’m doing is the best that I could manage, given the time and money that I had. This means that I was quite happy to ‘waste time’ getting to know the clients and became friendly with many of them, but I doubt that the big agencies started out with this approach – do they need to see clients as a commodity?


There is also an element of culture and geographical location.

My old colleagues experience has to be different to mine in a small town where everyone know each other.



Did most of us start with friend and family projects?

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There were not many suitable courses when the web started so many of us started as hobbyists.

Self taught has a stigma that may not be appropriate to the web.

This was always the origin story of people working with websites, but I guess that it’s been packaged up in University courses etc now?


According to various polls in WordPress Facebook groups, most work is referral. If you cut your teeth on friends and family, surely work is likely to be an extension of that and will attract a similar kind of people?

Many state they don’t want friends and family as clients. They expect things to be cheaper and don’t respect their processes.

This is true. If it goes wrong with friends, and more importantly, family, then it can go really wrong and leak into your personal life and cause problems away from work.


Friendships ruined as a result of web projects.

My problem was trying to project processes on people not ready for it. Trying to get things done on time, to budget and done properly never really worked for me. 

I am much more confident after realising the Agile movement existed as it spoke to all my problems.


I’ve no real experience of this as I don’t recall doing much of this. My experience was about making friends from / with clients. I had a client who was the mother of one of my kids friends, but that was plain sailing and we had a good relationship all the time.


If you do the UX work you have to go beyond the look and functionality of the website. Learn more about the owner and their customers and I think you have to be on their side.  The job of the UX design is to empathise with the user and this goes into the UX journey.  What happens before and after visitors goes to the site.

If you agree with this can you do work (well) for a business you don’t agree with?

I guess in an ideal world, you really are trying to get into their head / under their skin, but does this mean that you really know them? I’m not too sure.



I don’t set any rules, but I have got better at recognising that “empathy” starts with the client relationship. It seems easier now as all first conversations are about empathy and getting them to empathise with me is not so hard.


My metric was pretty simple now that I think about it. Did they laugh at my jokes and were we able to be silly and waste time before we got down to work! I find the same is true with the podcast guests oddly. Those that are willing to shoot the breeze for a while before we hit record, are the ones that I enjoy recording, and would have liked to work with!


We should probably be good with the soft skills, but then some of us are more dev focussed.

Probably the hardest part is getting clients to understand what we do as opposed to what we think we do.

I always failed at this, but never knew ever that I was failing. It was when I got the email asking a question that I know I had dealt with, but the client still had no idea how to do something, like add a page!


Final thoughts.

Not different from many work situations. You establish your credentials as a professional (which like my therapist clients can mean building rapport and trust).

Some you might trust into your wider social circle, others might already be in it already, but hopefully  friends will understand the boundaries ot they are probably not friends.


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Transcript (if available)

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast, you've reached episode number 345 entitled. Don't make websites for friends and family. It was published on Thursday, the 12th of October, 2023. My name's Nathan Wrigley. And in a few moments, I'll be joined by my good friend, David Waumsley, so that we can have that chat.

But first of all, a few bits of housekeeping, the first thing to mention is that if you are in the market for black friday deals in the WordPress space, We have a growing list of them organized at a very easy to remember URL. It's WP Builds.com forward slash black. That's WP Builds.com forward slash black head there. And you will see the deals that we've got so far. There's a few on there. But over the days and weeks to come, we will be adding more.

If you have a product service or something like that in the WordPress space, there is a button there to add your deal. Please feel free to go and fill that form out. And we will get that onto the page if it's in the WordPress space.

The other thing to mention is that you'll probably be able to see on that page there are some sponsor slots right at the top. And if you want to have one of those slots, please click the button in the area at the top and we will get you organize, get you pride of place on that page. That would be really, really nice. Once more WP Builds.com forward slash black.

The other thing to mention is that I am starting a webinar series all about Gato Graph QL. Now, to be honest, this is a little bit above my pay grade, but Leo, the product founder is going to be joining us. We're going to be doing five episodes and they are starting next week. The first episode that we've got is going to be on Wednesday the 18th of October. It's going to be at 3:00 PM UK time at the life page, which is the same for all of the lives that we do. WP Builds.com forward slash live. Join us there and find out all about the myriad of incredibly complicated things that Graph QL can do for you, and your website.

The only other thing to mention is that if you have a comment on today's podcast, please use the comment feature on the WP Builds.com website WP Builds.com forward slash well, I don't know, go and search for episode number 345. That's going to be the easiest way to find it.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today. By GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain, SSL, and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by heading to go.me forward slash WP Builds. And we sincerely thank GoDaddy Pro for their ongoing continued support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay. What have we got for you today? While, as I said at the top, we've got a podcast episode entitled, don't make websites for friends and family. I think you probably get the idea. Is this a good idea? If you're a freelancer, perhaps you have no intention when you began your career of becoming a freelance web developer, and this was the easiest way, and it certainly was for David and I, but what are the gotchas? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? We discuss it all on the podcast today. I hope that you enjoy it.

[00:03:49] David Waumsley: Hello, it's the 17th episode of our thinking the unthinkable series. And our topic today is don't make websites for friends and families. Nathan, this is your topic. So it's a shock to me because it sounds like you're suggesting that people do this as a proper

[00:04:05] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that's right. I think basically we can stop recording this episode now because the title is the truth. Don't make websites for friends and family. That's all you need to know. Good night. enjoyed doing this podcast. No, I think this is a serious thing. I guess the longer that you're doing this work.

The less likely this is to be a concern, but as we'll get into it, you'll see that most of us, that's in my impression, at least anyway, is that a lot of people who end up doing website design stumble into it. And if you're stumbling into a job, you're probably doing another job at the same time.

And so who are your clients going to be? They're the people who you are communicating with because you probably don't have a technique for outreach or anything like that. So you end up doing things for... Friends of friends, family, relations, dogs, cats, whoever will give you a project. They become your clients and whether or not that works out is up for debate in this episode.

[00:05:05] David Waumsley: Yeah, exactly. And I honestly, I was saying that as if it's a proper job, because I, after all these years I still do feel like if they're not, it always started with friends and then family, and then it was friends of friends. And to some degree, because all of it comes through referrals, I still feel in some form or another.

They all are friends of friends and that's still how I'm working. And I think that probably speaks more about where I am professionally than it does about the industry.

[00:05:37] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah,

[00:05:39] David Waumsley: But yeah, no I find it interesting, but with all the different Facebook groups that I've been in that you do see these very different ideas on this.

Some people who say, no, friends and family are great. That's how I do, most of my work's come from that. It's referrals though, a little bit like me. And then there is this whole other section who say. Definitely not, they'll want you to discount them. They'll not take any notice of what you're saying or respect your professionalism.

[00:06:04] Nathan Wrigley: right.

[00:06:05] David Waumsley: So

[00:06:06] Nathan Wrigley: it's a very clickbaity title and obviously there's no way I actually subscribe to the idea that you shouldn't work for friends or family. Because honestly, it really depends. A. on you and your capacity to ride out any storms that may come your way. But also, it depends on those people and what their proclivities are for demanding more than you've offered or, just pushing it because they know you're a friend and they can probably get away with asking you, Oh, go on, and all of the things in the background, like they took your kids out last week to the swings.

And so you owe them a. Be it and because you owe them a bit, you feel compelled to do the right thing and so on. So it's way more complicated and honestly, this is the way it began for me. I definitely started out doing websites for, it was mainly friends of friends, to be honest, and I did work with another guy a little tiny bit at the beginning and he had some friends, so we did the work for them.

And it was just the way in what was good about it was that it gave me a focus. For learning, so back in the day, it was tables, HTML, CSS was coming in that kind of thing. And I really don't know if I would have been as quick to learn from a book. What I mean is if I'd have had no project to complete and nobody telling me.

Look, I want this done by this particular date, and this is how I want it to be, and it has to have these features. I think learning CSS and HTML on some abstract project is highly likely, given my proclivity for going and sitting on the sofa and doing nothing, highly likely I would have just put the book down and said, I'll do a bit more tomorrow.

Whereas having that I don't really know what it was, but I felt compelled to, to finish the project because I'd said to somebody that I would. It made me learn. more quickly. So there's definite upsides about learning and all of that and figuring out what the job is.

[00:08:00] David Waumsley: Yeah, you've touched on something that's really I the moment to me, because as I've moved much more towards doing the hand coding with the HTML and CSS these days. And it feels a little bit like the early days with, now the clients, I enjoy the work again, because if I had to learn what I'm trying to learn just on my own projects, I'll just probably put it aside, but because I have to learn it for them, I'm speeding up this new level of learning, which I think while I was with the page builder, that I'd almost got into a.

I'd skip that bit because I could just, I know how to put these sites together. So it was a bit more like this product I was completing at the end where now the jobs are partly there to help me learn more new stuff. So yeah.

[00:08:46] Nathan Wrigley: I guess it allows you the opportunity to learn in a sort of slightly risk free way as well. I just made the slightly spurious point that, maybe your friends and family will be willing to abuse your trust. And typically I never really found that to be the case, most true friends and certainly the family that I have.

Would never dream of doing that. And so it was far more likely that the outcome of that would be that if you went back to them and said, look, I've done no work on it this week. I'm really sorry. My, my other things took over. My experience was that they would probably say, yeah, it's fine. Don't worry about it.

We realize that you're doing something for us more or less gratis. Don't worry about it. So yeah, that there were, there was that.

[00:09:29] David Waumsley: the big thing for me is particularly when we talked about this on the last series, when we was looking at the difference between a traditional and an agile approach. And I think a lot of it How you might view this will depend on whether you see that you are selling a product which is this website for this price at this end date or whether you see you are providing a service.

And in my case with the agile thing, this is an expected long period of time. This is a very long service where you're working with the client. And I think that. And I think what most people want is the product. That's what they think they need to ask for. And in my job, going to this agile approach is I have to say actually, I'm not going to build you a product.

I'm just going to help you use the web to solve some of your business problems. Let's talk about what they are and let's see how we can go about this. So yeah, the, so the relationship is very different then.

[00:10:27] Nathan Wrigley: It's interesting that, because, at least with a project based approach, let's say that you've got a friend who's asked you to do a website and you've kindly agreed to do it because you're just beginning and, you're trying to figure out what the industry is, and that's got a moment in time where it's finally done.

And it may not be the best that you could ever have done, but there's a moment where you say, OK, great, we're done. Whereas, for you, this ongoing relationship, you're doing some hours here and some hours there and whatever is needed gets attention. How does that work with the friends and family thing?

Because surely at some point, you've got to cut them loose and say, Look, we've done, I don't know, 20, 30, 40, whatever the number is, number of hours now. This has got to move away from being a mates rates or pet project. You've got to start finding some finance for this now. Where do you, I know that you're probably not doing that anymore, but where would you have drawn that line?

[00:11:24] David Waumsley: I don't know. I was talking to you before, wasn't I that one of my things that really started me, seriously using WordPress was creating this e commerce site, which actually went for what used to be my old boss. And I didn't do it for any money. I wanted to, he had one already and I wanted to convert it into this WordPress version of it.

And. It really broke our relationship was a really strong one because I was for no money trying to lead it towards the direction, but he wasn't ready. He and I think from these days, I'm much clearer about what I want people to do, which is to pay me for my expertise to help them to do something one stage at a time.

So there's no, not cutting somebody loose. We go as far as they go. So if they come, I say I think the first thing you need to do is to. Make sure you're going to get some traffic. Are you getting the best traffic? Are you picking the right keywords? And then look at the site if they've got one already and say, how are people going to convert, how are they going to understand what you do and what they need to do next, the UX side of stuff.

So I think there's a point with the way that I'm selling things now, there's always a point where someone can lose me,

[00:12:40] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah,

[00:12:41] David Waumsley: and that's how I like it. And I think for me. You often said to me when we were talking before about the agile thing is you often said, and it's not words I would use that you're making more friends with the client, you're talking

[00:12:58] Nathan Wrigley: yeah,

[00:12:59] David Waumsley: business.

And I thought, actually, I don't think I am, but I

[00:13:03] Nathan Wrigley: enemies,

[00:13:05] David Waumsley: no, but I think the point is when you sell a product, it's they know what they bought for what the price they've got. That's it. There, you're done. When you sell in this kind of ongoing service, what I'm selling for them is to have somebody on their side to help them navigate the best options for the internet for them.

And I think that is, I have to be on their side all the time through that, and

[00:13:32] Nathan Wrigley: yeah,

[00:13:33] David Waumsley: I think that seems more like a friendship, but it's not

[00:13:36] Nathan Wrigley: yeah, I guess friend was probably the wrong word, but it's probably the clumsy use of that word. It was more the fact that you were. You were desirous of communicating with them over and over again. And typically, the people that I want to communicate over and over again with, I would classify as my friends, if because,

[00:13:56] David Waumsley: Yeah.

[00:13:57] Nathan Wrigley: if I'm booking a call with you next week, and the week after that, and the week after that, yes, of course, you could be a client. But your, it felt like the premise of the business, and the way that you're moving, was to speak to them often, frequently. But yeah, you're quite right, they don't need to be, Like your best mates or anything, do they?

They can still be just, they can still be that separation of you are a work colleague, I do work with you, for you, however you describe it. So yeah, that was slightly clumsy, but it felt as if the friendlier you got, the more likely you were to have success, because you could be honest with each other and all of that.

[00:14:32] David Waumsley: Yeah. And I think that's the essence of the agile thing is the idea that you work with a team of small experts who work as a team. So you have to have that team spirit to work like that way. I think where you sell a product generally is someone who's listing their requirements and someone who's going to deliver those requirements on a professional basis.

So the relationship. I think it's quite different. I think the traditional and the agile is quite different in. In that kind of level of friendliness. If you have to have team spirit to do an Agile, you have to abide by that simple idea that you go through iterations of work, working as a team where you're not solely responsible for one thing.

You both work and work off each other and bounce off each other. So yeah.

[00:15:20] Nathan Wrigley: You've said the words team spirit twice now, and on both occasions I think of Nirvana. I don't know what's going on there. Smells like team spirit. Honestly I have this kind of spider sense. This is gonna sound a bit ridiculous, but I do, on some level I think there is something to this. I have this...

This ability, fairly quickly, and I'm not suggesting it's 100 percent accurate, but I do rely on it, I think, time and again. This capacity to quickly work out on what level that friendship could happen. For me, often the enterprise of going to a meeting was to figure out if I could work with them.

And the fairly blunt metric of that was... Will I get on with you? So you could, I suppose in a different vernacular, you could describe that Will I get on you? as Could you be my friend? And I could quickly figure out usually by just acting like a fool and making some lame jokes and things like that, whether this person would respond favourably to that, or whether they'd shot me down and it would be, all business. Really has proven to be the case over the years that the people who are willing to go with me on that. Let's just lark about for a few minutes before we sit at the table and get down to the work. They're the people who I've worked best with. And it really, I could have told you typically within a couple of minutes, this relationship is going to work.

This one I'm not sure about. I'm sensing some sort of coldness here. They seem to be all about the business. There's no capacity to just lark about and, ask questions. Randomly about anything and so in that sense on some level My ideal client was somebody who I thought you and I could sit in a pub and have a drink And it really worked

[00:17:19] David Waumsley: It's an interesting thing about friendships. I was I'm a big fan. No, if people don't know this out of the UK, but there's a comedian called Ramesh Ranganathan.

[00:17:29] Nathan Wrigley: great.

[00:17:29] David Waumsley: He is brilliant. And I can't really say the things that he said, but he said that how he loves the sort of Facebook and stuff like that.

Cause he realized that all these friends that he's known all the time, suddenly they revealed as the D heads that they are through what they say and how context is. You can have really good friendships with people, see them on Facebook and realize that they have all these bizarre values that you don't hold at all, but they've managed to hide from you in their friendship.

And I think there's always a danger with this as well. Cause it's actually I'm criticizing your method, even though I

[00:18:07] Nathan Wrigley: No, it's all right.

[00:18:08] David Waumsley: think it's. But in a certain context, you can go, Oh yeah. So you think you get on with somebody and then in actual terms of doing the actual work, you realize that they've got a different persona for that,

[00:18:20] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah that definitely happened. And just before we click record, I mentioned to you that it definitely didn't work all the time. There were people that I really did think I was going to get along with. And then it, as soon as the work actually began the real. inside them came out the monster and, that typical client from hell kind of thing.

So it didn't always work, but mostly my Spidey sense worked in that way. So essentially it boils down to can I waste a bit of time with you? Excuse me. Can I waste a bit of time with you right at the beginning and lark about, tell some jokes? And Usually that led into conversations over the years about, I got to know about their family, I would go into their office, and rather than being let's sit down, get the laptops open and work, there'd be conversations in, how are your kids doing?

Oh and that would, we'd have that to ing and fro ing, and honestly, it seems a little thin, like there's a thin veneer there, a little skin deep. There was something, and it I liked that, I liked the fact that we were able to just shoot the breeze, and they became... Friends, in air quotes, I didn't end up spending time in the pub with any of them, I don't think, but at least there was that friendly back and forth.

[00:19:35] David Waumsley: There's some really interesting things that happen, like you and I, how we got together, how we had no idea that we were, we grew up in the same place, literally just miles down the road.

And I've just discovered with a client who's been referring to work and I've done work for before and I get on well with, it's only, now known him for years. It's only this week that I discovered that he also was just up the road for me and grew up in the same place. And you think. And for some people, this is something we haven't touched on yet.

You haven't got that option, have you? My old colleague, a lot of the work was coming from my old small town where basically everybody knows each other. If you're, that essentially everybody is a friend of a friend really. And and I realized that she has to adjust accordingly. Our business has to run in a way that seems.

To me, a little bit less professional because it has to be a little bit more,

[00:20:33] Nathan Wrigley: Yep.

[00:20:34] David Waumsley: how are you doing? We're talking about the kids and the family and stuff.

[00:20:38] Nathan Wrigley: Honestly, where I live, if you, if if you just pluck some random person out of the town where I live, you know there's that whole, what's it called, seven points of contact or something, the idea where you are only seven people away from knowing anybody on earth. Where I live, it's one. There's one removed.

So I can more or less guarantee that if you pick some random person, they will know somebody that I know. And so this whole... You've classed it as nepotism. We'll get onto the sort of more broad nepotism in a minute. But the geography is really crucial where I live. And so you can win work because you're a friend of a friend so straightforwardly.

Or at least you used to be able to. It's getting a lot harder now that there's, online platforms and people are doing it themselves and all of that kind of stuff. But it very much was the case that my phone would ring and it'd be, Beryl said to phone you because you do websites. It's oh great.

Thanks, Beryl. Off we go. And that, that would happen loads. By the way, there is no Beryl. I just made her up.


[00:21:45] David Waumsley: But it is interesting that ties up. I'm out of most of those Facebook groups now, but every time I've seen a poll, which is talking to people who do what we do, they pretty much say 80 plus percent when people are new to it and they're asking, how do you get your business? Most of them end up saying 80.

Plus percent of it is referral. But I also think that means that and I just become aware of it. That probably we're in a little bit of a bubble because even if we don't, even if we don't continue to work for friends and family, probably the people who've referred us. Tours are of a similar background with a similar set of expectations.

And one thing I've always found difficult to understand when most of the Facebook groups I've been in take a traditional approach to a fixed cost project. And there's a certain approach to do that. And that's the majority of people that I've met in WordPress who do it. And when I went to the agile approach and saw the agile statistics about where they go and look at businesses, apparently.

80 plus percent of these companies here, when it comes to web projects apply an agile approach, which is with no end date, no set project. So you think, okay, so probably the people that I see are in a bit of a bubble.

[00:22:58] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I think that's totally true. Yeah, I think the bubble thing is really true where I live. In that, if you're on the, if you're in that, the bubble and it's working for you, that's great. But in my part of the world, real life story, but removing the names to protect the innocent, as it were.

That, that can so quickly collapse because

[00:23:21] David Waumsley: Yeah.

[00:23:21] Nathan Wrigley: quite a long time ago, a person started up a web development business where I live, and it just so happens that their, that a family member was super connected. You know how you've got those people that are just in any town that are just super connected, they may be on the council or they're just, they've just had years of experience.

They grew up here. They're really gregarious and they know everybody. That was the case. So this family member. Knew everybody and very quickly scooped up all the new business. So a lot of the people that were doing web work where I live found it difficult because this company came into existence and this ultra the word is maven really, isn't it?

This hyper connected person was able through nepotism to point them to this other person. And it was transformational where we live. So it quickly showed the how the bubble thing that you mentioned, how that can work in both ways, it can be very effective when it's working, but it can also be quickly upset, unless of course you are that maven, that person right at the top of that social pyramid, but just, yeah, beware of that really, if you are relying on word of mouth and, people locally referring you, that can, that apple cart can quickly be upturned.

[00:24:34] David Waumsley: Yeah, exactly. And I think, and I can very much understand it from the client's perspective because there were so many of us offering to build somebody a website. So if you've decided you're not already, your business isn't already thinking agile and wants to hire in certain skills, but actually want somebody to build an end product when you're in that mode.

You can't tell one end product from another as the client, it's just what it looks like or what you, and so then you tend to go to, you look to trust or just, you want to slim it down in some way or another. So you go for location or a recommendation for someone, and that's, I think how it works.

So yeah, I can see how it's, really easily upended for someone. If someone comes in well connected in an area. Yeah,

[00:25:22] Nathan Wrigley: I suppose, if you happen to be that person on the receiving end of the delightful nepotism

[00:25:28] David Waumsley: yeah.

[00:25:29] Nathan Wrigley: that's gonna be great, isn't it? You're just inundated with work because either you are that person or somebody that you know is that person. And honestly, like I said, in, where I live you're one removed from everybody.

So it matters. I guess if you live in London or New York or something like that it's far less likely to be important because there's probably just millions of people looking for work or jobs in the web space. Looking for websites to be built. So it probably matters less. But in small town England, where I live, that, that is significant.

[00:26:01] David Waumsley: I think, largely the agile thing for me or wanting to move to it was Partly because I didn't know how to handle the relationships with clients, but also because it was a bit of a isolating myself from the people who are selling websites as a product, if you like, because, it's no contest for that.

It, my main argument is that I'm with you to help you to do the best with your business online. I'm not here to sell you this end website, but of course that's what you're gonna get. But we're gonna work on it together, and I think it's a different proposition. So I try to get myself out that loop, but of course what goes with that is I have to, that's the difficult bit I have to prove that I'm bringing the skills, if you like, with it. So it's been a kind of lot of. Journey, but I do realize that one of the difficulties now is because there are page builders about, and almost anyone can set up and say, I can deliver you this end product.

It's really, what's going to happen in a lot of areas is that people are just going to go with the most approachable person who can deliver that and with no indication Hmm. Yeah. yeah.

[00:27:13] Nathan Wrigley: It's interesting when you and I both started, there wasn't really no web design industry. And so both of us just needed to do some work in order to understand what that work looked like so that you could figure out what your business would even be. What building a website looks like, how long does it typically take?

What kind of things can you achieve? Can you not achieve? I do wonder if that's going to be a requirement so much now in the sense that. I figure it's been packaged up into like university courses and things like that. So anybody that wants to do this can now go online, either join a university in real life or get some sort of online training where all of it is spelled out.

And if it's all spelled out for you and you've got that plan of how to launch your website business, I wonder if people are going to still be relying. Friends and family. You mentioned that 80 percent of the business for the people in those Facebook groups is referrals. It's not quite the same as friends and family potentially, but I do wonder if that whole modus operandi of beginning a website business has died because you've gone through university, they've taught you.

How to do your accounting what tools to use, how to pitch yourself, how to create proposals, what your billing should look like, and all of that. And I had to make every single one of those things up as I went along, so I wonder if that friends and family thing is gonna is even a thing now.

[00:28:39] David Waumsley: I don't know. There's some clients which I'm losing as I'm changing my business. The ones that my colleague did, and it's quite interesting to see where they're going. And it, for the last three, each of 'em have gone with a WordPress. They don't particularly need WordPress as such. So they've just happened to, again, go for WordPress with new sites being built on Elementor and they.

All of these three, I had a quick look at who they'd gone with and all of them were agencies with a number of people. And the nepotism thing was in there because very much it was the son of the person who set it up, who was one of the people or daughter who was one of the people on the team and stuff like that.

And I thought it's really interesting. They, those clients that I had, they've gone for pretty much agencies that look like they have the similar level of expertise using the same tools with the same kind of. Set up where it's the fact that family and friends are actually part of the agency, and it, I don't know, compared to the people I used to follow, and I haven't been following them recently, when I first got interested in this, these were the agencies when you had to hand code where they were hiring.

Developers or designers for a specific need because they were building, I don't know, university sites or something like that, big projects or something. And it, they weren't using WordPress and I don't know. I don't know if university has changed anything there. For one thing, what you learn in university is probably good for getting employment, but probably not good for marketing to the public.

[00:30:17] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that would, I would really just throwing out, throwing that out there as a thought experiment. I really haven't yet bumped into anybody in Facebook groups or online who went through that channel. But then again, I don't know how long that's been packaged up as a thing. Or indeed, if these people just land straight in agencies, straight out university, because the university is part of the deal is, okay, we will get you some interviews.

In some high powered agencies, because, that's part of the package that we offer, in which case they would have completely sidestepped anything that you and I do, you know. the

[00:30:55] David Waumsley: university, the. We have met people who've specifically gone on courses for that, but there are people, I think Kyle is one of those people Van Dusen who went to university to do design and, anybody following his kind of stuff, they'll see that he's literally learning day by day how to do the business of, CSS and things like that, and I think, when it comes to that, as we was talking in a couple of weeks ago about.

CSS and how much is changing. I don't know how university courses can prepare you to build a modern day website because literally it's all changing within the two years or three years that you would be on a course for that.

[00:31:39] Nathan Wrigley: a really good point. Yeah, if you're doing physics, the university level physics, I'm not talking PhDs, like a bachelor's, that's not changing, is it? It's just the same curriculum year on year. There might be different ways of showing the materials, but how a ball, how it lands and how far it goes, given the, all of that is exactly the same.

Whereas this, my goodness, you would literally be rewriting the curriculum on an annual basis, wouldn't you? I hadn't thought about that.

[00:32:08] David Waumsley: No, I think, I guess there's two points with this. More people, certainly for the UK are going to universities, devaluing the, the degree to an employer and perhaps to the public generally, but also maybe there's an element where you could be going on courses for this because at a university level, I guess that education is supposed to teach you how to.

Learn for yourself and think for yourself. So maybe there is something of value, but I don't know. It's really interesting, but

[00:32:38] Nathan Wrigley: You were saying earlier about 80 percent of the people giving getting referrals as their main source of income. Does that not, is that statistic not revealing about, on some level, you've made friends with those people who are doing the referral? That's probably a bit of a stretch, but what I mean is, you don't refer.

People who are not, that you don't have a good feeling about. You're not going to, if somebody comes to you and says, okay, I need a website built. Do you know anybody? You're not going to refer somebody that you've disagreed with or argued with or fallen out with or felt ripped off by. So on some level, I guess the.

Definition of friend here is up for question. Your actual real world friends are people that you go out with, go on holiday with, spend time with when you're not on the clock doing work. But maybe there's a different definition of friend here. It's just somebody that you communicate well with.

You can be in the same room as them and more or less know that you're not going to fall out. You can have a disagreement about something and it doesn't fall into the category of conflict. You just disagree and work it out between you. So maybe that's what that is. And I feel that.

The more people you can do that with, the more likely you are to be long term in this business, because as you said, referrals are everything. And at least for me, part of the enterprise is making friendships with these people. And again, caveat emptor, whatever friend means. It might not be the going on holiday, spending your spare time with.

You've got to endeavor to at least be friendly with these people. Otherwise you're not going to be in, in work because the 80 percent will go to the person that is.

[00:34:20] David Waumsley: Yeah, I think, it should go with, I think with all work, if somebody's paying you to do something, you should be on their kind of side. And that just leads me on to this sort of boundary thing, because, you can have, I have friends or people that I quite like, who have politically Opposing ideas to the world to me, but I like them for other elements, but that doesn't come into it.

Do you think there are any boundaries for you in the type of work that you might be asked to do, even if you like the people? Uh,

[00:34:50] Nathan Wrigley: Well, It's interesting because when you, so we're looking at our show notes and we've got some comments based upon boundaries, I saw that question slightly differently, and I saw it as would. it be more likely that friends, actual friends and actual family, would they be more likely to get away with pushing the boundaries with you?

Because you just have that relationship them, it's harder to say no. As an example, not that my mother would do it, but if my mother came to me and said I need a website, A, I'm not saying no, because she's my mom, but B, even if she became super unreasonable, I would feel some kind of compulsion to service that need.

It'd be like, okay, I'd have the conversation. Look, You don't need this. Blah, blah, blah. But if she persisted, I would probably cave in quite quickly because it's my mom my dad less no, I'm joking. But do you understand what I mean? So the same could be true of friends. If they just keep phoning you and say, Oh, can we just do this little thing, and then we'll go to the pub afterwards, it'll be great.

It's going to be really difficult to man those boundaries and enforce them, or at least. That's what I think.

[00:36:06] David Waumsley: Yeah I do think that's, I think most of the time, yeah, honestly, if it was my mother and I said I said, mother, I love you, but I actually think for your project, I would recommend Nathan for you.

[00:36:20] Nathan Wrigley: Oh dear, I'd recommend her to my mother.

[00:36:26] David Waumsley: No, but you don't want to mean I would. I don't have, if I think it might not work, or I might not be the best person for working with them on this thing, or the way that I work isn't good that I don't feel compromised with that. That would be, I suppose that's my boundary all the time. I try and explain.

What I'm attempting to do, who I listen to, who I follow these days, which is fairly new to me, the UX people I will take notice of about how we build sites and I will take notice of the W3C for code standards and stuff like that, things I skipped over before, and they will be my sort of boundaries, if you like.

Now, Somebody new to me doesn't have to understand that, but they do need to understand how I work. And if they sign up to that, then I think that's easy. And that's all I need to set up. So I feel I can effectively, these people could turn into my friends where it goes beyond just what we need to do, but it would need to be good teamwork that I was working with.

And my friends might not be the best people to do that teamwork with, you know?

[00:37:31] Nathan Wrigley: yeah, I think it's really difficult to enforce the same boundaries. With friends as it is for basic, let's call them strangers. People that you've just communicated with about the website project. You don't have any insight into their family. And so if they start to push those boundaries, you really don't have any bit of you, that sort of devil or angel on the shoulder saying, give it, give this some thought.

You're just going to say no. That's not the way our process works. You've signed the contract. Whereas it becomes much more muddy. As soon as you throw friendships into it, because you are in effect, you're jeopardizing the friendship by saying no. Equally, you've probably got the intellect to know, actually, do you know what, they're taking the mickey.

They are pushing our friendship here. But person I find it very hard in those situations to it's a bit like when you're in a Let's say that you go out to a dinner party or something, and there's some person that you know, and they get a little bit drunk, and they start speaking out of turn, whatever that may be, it could be politics, it could be some other hot button issue.

It's very hard to stand up and say, Look, shut up. You've said enough. You've offended everybody at this table. Be quiet. What generally happens is everybody just looks at the plate and ignores it Oh God, I hope they sit down in a minute. Or, we're gonna get our coat. We're gonna leave.

We're all a bit tired. That kind of thing. It's hard to, it's hard to push back against those friends.

[00:38:58] David Waumsley: I think it's so much harder if you sell in a product for a set price, I think in those situations, because they will ask for more than what you've agreed to in the contract. And for me, if I'm going this agile approach, whether paying me for my time to try different things out, it's already built into the plan.

The agile plan is already that you'll change your mind. So actually they. They, it won't, that won't work for them in their case, cause they'll still end up paying more money.

[00:39:23] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

I won't be a block,

[00:39:25] David Waumsley: you know.

[00:39:26] Nathan Wrigley: that's very intelligent, you've got this all figured out. You've you've spent the last 15 years working this out and you finally

[00:39:32] David Waumsley: It

[00:39:33] Nathan Wrigley: reached the goal where nepotism, boundaries, all of that, they've all gone because you're charging them by the hour. So,

[00:39:40] David Waumsley: Still doesn't really work out, because you still, I feel like I, because the project hasn't moved on a lot and I want to do certain things in a way, properly, and they want certain things, I end up. Put in more time in, and of course that's where there might be, the more you like a client, perhaps the more little extra time that you're not charging for them that you might put into.

I think that's what's happening with me. I

[00:40:02] Nathan Wrigley: It's interesting, isn't it? Because it flips the, okay, so let's say it's a fixed project. If I go into a meeting with somebody and they've paid the deposit and I know what the final figure is and how many hours it should, and all of that, then if I go into their business and the guy on the guy that I'm talking to, whoever it may be, if they start like horrendously wasting time and just cracking jokes for an hour,

[00:40:29] David Waumsley: Yeah.

[00:40:29] Nathan Wrigley: starting to think, hang on a minute.

Wait a minute, this is, I'm paying for this, ultimately. Whereas your system really allows for that, doesn't it? It's if they're cracking jokes for an hour, you're like, this is great, I just got paid for an hour and all we did was tell jokes.

[00:40:45] David Waumsley: This this is where my system does fail. And this is the because what I do is I do take the little meat, cause usually I charge for one set of work and then I want to meet him before we do the next set of work, so we know that we're at, and I do that, but I take that time out of what I'm charging for them.

Really. And I sometimes wonder if they think that because I, because if it's a friendly chat, which I think is still useful, it goes on for quite some time. And if it's just more, we need to get on with it. It's a short time. So I've needed to do that because, but it's a waste of my time, of course, you

[00:41:18] Nathan Wrigley: should add that as a line item in your invoice. Just 20th of September, one hour, jokes and wasting time. 80, whatever. I just see how that goes. Did you hear that some companies like Google, they've decided in their calendar invites now, I think it was Google. They're going to, they're going to itemize what it costs for each person to be in the meeting.

So if you got a meet meeting invite. You're going to know that meeting is going to cost the company, let's say 1, 000 because he's on 300 an hour. She's on 500. You get the point. You can see what that meeting is worth. And I thought that was curious, but also it would destroy the humanity because you've got absolutely no minutes at the beginning for larking about, which is just the antithesis of the way I want to behave.

[00:42:14] David Waumsley: Yeah, I have to take these meetings. If it's a meeting within the time that we're doing something. So if I say I have a meeting where we're talking about how we're arranging things on the homepage, that time I consider as the time that they're paying in their chunk. But these meetings.

Which I should be charging for, but I've found no route to do it in between. I see that as like getting a new client for the next batch of work. It's not something that you're billing them for. It's that

meeting to

[00:42:41] Nathan Wrigley: a loss leader kind of thing.

[00:42:43] David Waumsley: Yeah. So I do that, what I like about that is that it will allow me, if I've got the time free and I enjoy chatting to them I will carry on chatting to them because in some way it will help me understand what they're about and what they're hoping to achieve,

[00:42:58] Nathan Wrigley: you know what you are chatting to them because on some level you are creating a friendship you are willing to chat with them swallow the loss Because there's some kind of camaraderie there, even if it might be focused on the business, even if it is focused on the business, your desire for them to do well must be born out of something akin to friendship.

After all, if you were sworn enemies to somebody, you are not going to be spending that hour with them, endeavoring to make their lives enriched by a website which is going to create wealth for them. I would contend that on some level, more or less all of this stuff is wrapped around friendships.

Having said that, never work for friends or family. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:43:45] David Waumsley: Yeah, and I think that's it, isn't it? If the friend and family works for you yeah, I think it's just the same with any work situation with all of this, you, I think if you can establish yourself and not be compromised your professionalism and how you go about things and then as long as that's in place.

True friends anyway, would always respect that, wouldn't they? They wouldn't undermine you.

[00:44:11] Nathan Wrigley: Well, that remains

[00:44:12] David Waumsley: That remains

[00:44:13] Nathan Wrigley: that, Yeah.

[00:44:14] David Waumsley: you're friends with some people from work and other people you're not, but I do think it's more valued now. Do you not think, I think maybe I'm reading too much Agile stuff, but I think that the central notion of the idea of team spirit and soft skills have become something.

But with AI, I think soft skills will become even more important. That ability to work with others and problem solve, when AI can do so much of the other work for us, I think, yeah.

[00:44:41] Nathan Wrigley: I, I want, I wonder if people who are who are listening to this and thinking I'm never working with friends and family, it's just my idea of living hell. I wonder if you could do mates rates, but in reverse. So your mates rates are double the amount that it would be for like just a normal client.

Cause you foresee the consequences. And of course that is the case. We haven't really dwelled on it. The capacity for this stuff to literally ruin. And I'm sure that there's stories all over that people could tell about, I embarked on a project with a friend. We've been friends for ages. This web work destroyed what we had as friends because bits of their personality came out.

They were inflexible. I became inflexible. I did, you get the point. I wonder how much of that has actually happened and if that's the case. That's a disaster, because no website is worth the destruction of a friendship, but you can't, unfortunately, there's no way of reading into the future to know that's going to happen.

[00:45:43] David Waumsley: No, and I have certainly heard of mates rates in reverse with people saying, I didn't really want this job. So I charged it doubled what I'd want. And I've done this myself and they go for it.

[00:45:55] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah.

[00:45:55] David Waumsley: And I think actually I won't do that again because for me now I feel, there's not the financial pressure to have to take on the work.

But I wouldn't do that again because I think what you're doing is your instincts is telling you not to do this job. And so you've racked up the money and then you're stuck with it still,

[00:46:13] Nathan Wrigley: I had a curious situation right at the beginning when I was just beginning. I did a website for a friend, and I won't mention a name or indeed anything about the website because I'm still friends with them. I know they don't listen to this, but nevertheless. And I did them basically a free website. It was, it took me ages.

I was still right at the beginning in that learning phase. And then about two years later, it came up for renewal and I gave them a really competitive quote and they went with somebody else. I was absolutely gutted. And I remember thinking. Boy, that's a bit, that's a bit mean spirited. It really, honestly, didn't take me very long to get over it.

But it just goes to show the kind of the little things that are going on in your head. I saw that as a bit of an affront. Hang on a minute. I built you the previous one for free. And I've given you a really affordable quote and you've gone with somebody. It took me a little while, but I got there and we're still very good friends.

So it's fine.

[00:47:07] David Waumsley: Yeah, I bet that that comment itself will be, will very much appeal. I think to the people who say never work with the friends and family there, keep it hard nosed and business like because good turn. It goes unpunished really


[00:47:23] Nathan Wrigley: Maybe on that bombshell we should knock it on the head and and say that's it for Friends and Family, let us know, give us some comments, it's interesting when that kind of thing happens. We don't know what we're going to do next, do we, but we've got a few to choose from, we'll, let's decide that when we stop recording, shall we?

[00:47:38] David Waumsley: Okay. I'll say bye. Enjoyed this

[00:47:40] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it was lovely, see you in a couple of weeks.

[00:47:42] David Waumsley: Yeah. Bye.

[00:47:44] Nathan Wrigley: Well, I hope that you enjoy that. Always a pleasure chatting to David about these things. If you have any commentary about work that you've done for your friends or family. Whether it's worked out, whether it's been a good idea, profitable or a complete nightmare, causing you headaches and the possibly family ructions. Head over to WP Builds.com and search for episode number 345, and please leave us a comment there we'd be most interested in your thoughts.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain, SSL, and 24 7 support. Bundle that's with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by heading to go.me forward slash WP Builds. And we really do thank GoDaddy Pro for their support of the WP Builds podcast.

Right. We'll be back next week. As we had a chat with David this week, it'll be an interview episode with somebody in the WordPress space.

Don't forget, we also do our this weekend WordPress show that will be live 2:00 PM UK time, it's every Monday., Come and give us some comments. We're always joined by some guests in the WordPress space and it's jolly good fun when we get some nice comments. It's very lighthearted and I really enjoy doing it.

The other thing to mention is the Gato Graph QL webinar series, which I'm starting on the 18th of October. If you head to WP Builds.com, there are some calendar links on the homepage where you can book it into your calendar so that you can join us live. You'll be able to find out all of the different things that it can do.

Okay. That's all I've got for you this week. I really hope that you've enjoyed it. Please leave us a review on your podcast player platform of choice. That would be really, really great. But that's it. I hope that you have a good week. Here comes some cheesy music. Bye-bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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