Online is the new normal.

Happy (Easter) Monday.

To steal a line from Torchwood: The 21st century is when everything changes.

We’re going to come out of these Covid-19 lockdowns with a redefined sense of what’s normal.

My hope is that we’ll see support for some form of universal basic income; internet access treated as an essential utility; an uptick in domestic industry; and a renewed appreciation for public healthcare.

My expectation is that small businesses will treat their online presence as a must-have asset rather than a nice-to-have luxury, even if they’re only serving local customers. Retailers will scramble to get their eCommerce storefronts up and running, and restaurants will hunt for affordable solutions to handle deliveries.

A number of larger companies will scale back on office leases as their employees continue to work from home. Remote work and distributed teams will be more commonplace – either as the default, or as a supported option for all new hires.

Keep reading…

Virtual meetups & physical distancing

I published a guide for hosting virtual events over on the GoDaddy blog earlier this week. It’s a deep dive based on the notes I started writing to myself late last year.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Virtual events are great. They can be more affordable, accessible and inclusive than in-person events. Attendees aren’t limited by a physical venue, and you can bring participants in from all over.”

How to host virtual community events (GoDaddy)

We’re seeing a bunch of groups either shut down or postpone their events. It’s a shame, because social activities — even virtual ones! — are sorely needed right now.

We need to physically isolate ourselves if we’re going to flatten the curve. That doesn’t mean we need to socially isolate ourselves. Getting together online for meetups, workshops, casual banter, competitive eSports, family game nights… we’re going to need more of that if we’re going to get through this with our sanity intact.

Physical distancing > social distancing.

So TL;DR == Go forth and host a virtual event.

A few thoughts on writing that resonates.

As I read through some articles on Pocket this morning, a question struck me: What’s the difference between the writing that sticks in my head, and the writing that doesn’t?

The writing that sticks has some personality. It’s “me” or “we”. There’s a perspective or an opinion. Compare that to the dreck of marketing content that doesn’t take a position, written with the air of loose authority.

(Cue the disembodied voices of endless marketing articles echoing from the depths of a content mill.)

It’s generic statements rehashed from thirty minutes of Googling because the author has no experience and didn’t have the time, or the motivation, to interview someone who does.

I’m guilty of it. I’ve chased broad topics under tight deadlines and hoped for the best. But there’s no conviction or motivation behind the words. It’s just regurgitated information shifted five degrees — a bad homework assignment that needs to be handed in on time.

I enjoy writing, and I write a lot. I have years worth of journals stacked in my office filled with notes and ideas. Yet most of what I share publicly is just a curation of what others have written.

A colleague pinged me on Slack a couple weeks ago. He follows me on Twitter and wanted to know my thoughts on an article I shared about grocery store influencers.

To his disappointment, I didn’t offer any take of my own. “Just write a few sentences”, he said. My reply? “I don’t have the time.”

Yet I have the time to compose wordy emails, to dive into Slack conversations, to soapbox and pontificate on back-to-back Zoom calls.

What’s the difference?

I’m not chasing keywords when I pour myself into those activities. I’m not concerned about SEO or word count. They’re off the cuff, unfiltered opinions, hot takes on issues, me offering a perspective on something that I care about.

So I’m going to try and do more of that. Here in my little corner of the web, I will try to write more, but only to get ideas out of my head, kinda like a one-way Slack conversation.

Let’s see how it goes.

Help your customers succeed during a crisis.

“How can your customers use your tool to save money or earn revenue? Provide templates, workflows, and inspiration to help them get more from your software/services. Share what your best customers are doing and consider hosting webinars or even 1:1 consulting to help the rest do more with a product they already have.”

Take Charge, Be a Voice of Reason and Keep Publishing (Animalz)

Advice for SaaS companies that applies to every business right now: help your customers do more with what they’ve already bought from you. You’ll do well if they’re doing well. So help them out, and give them a reason to stick around.

Don’t make your online community a walled garden.

Who should support an online community? Everyone in the community that can help share expertise and knowledge. Without the sharing of everyone, we create walled gardens and allow our competition a major opportunity to steal away disenchanted customers.”

Who Should Support an Online Community? (Growing Community)

I see content and community as layers within a business, rather than silos. They’re resources that we can use for marketing, sales, onboarding, support, and retention. It’s a waste of resources to isolate them.

Grocery stores & everyday influencers

“Aldi doesn’t pay Youngpeter for her content about her favorite brands at the store— Girl Scout cookies knockoffs and German chocolates. But she and other grocery store superfans with Facebook and Instagram accounts dedicated to the stores are powerful advocates for the companies.”

These are the grocery store influencers (CNN)

With grocery stores becoming the only open public venue during Covid-19 shutdowns, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see a rise in this sort of content.

The unique benefits of virtual community events

“Virtual conferences can be quite powerful, and scale to many thousands of attendees that would be very difficult to gather in-person. And online meetups and roundtables give your members an opportunity to have intimate discussions from the comfort of their home. Are they the same? No. But they do have unique benefits.”

Examples for Event Organizers During the Coronavirus Outbreak (CMX)

On a related note, we’re hosting our first virtual meetup for WP Durham this evening.

Crowdsourcing resources for community organizers

“The goal of most meetups is for everyone to walk away learning one new concept, idea, idea, or person. The “Top 9” aims to help those who organize monthly meetups by freely sharing slides and materials. It’s an easy way to share relevant information and topics within a group without organizers and volunteers investing time to research and create the slides themselves.”

Top 9 (

A cool initiative from David Bissett and his site for community organizers. While the focus is primarily on WordCamps and WordPress meetups, the resources are useful for all kinds of event-based community groups.

I’m seeing a lot of curated content floating around right now in light of CORVID-19, social distancing, remote work, and shelter-in-place lockdowns, et al.


Cheap inclusive tech

“The Estonian experience also demonstrates that high rates of basic technological penetration pay off better than cutting-edge technology only in the hands of a selected few. Cheap, common technology that is inclusively used by society as a whole brings much greater benefits than exclusive ones only accessible to upwardly mobile populations.

Estonia is running its country like a tech company (Quartz)

We know the upsides of connectivity during social isolation. But that’s a privilege for those who have access. What about those who can’t afford it? Or those who are under-served by the infrastructure in their area?