cheer and chow

Case Studies are when I take some time to highlight recent work, the challenges involved, and what I learned in the process.

The Cheer and Chow is a friend’s website, and managing a friend relationship along with a business one can be a challenge, here’s what I learned.

The site in development is WordPress based, using a theme called AULD, and mimics a “tumblog”…it’s no where near complete, in fact is very much in the beginning phases, me and Shauna have only had a few conversations, mostly over e-mail. I like the clean look of the theme, and the themes source company, Woo Themes usually do a good job on the back-end of making edits to the homepage layout, or critical elements accessible. The site’s content is all about her passion for cooking and baking, and from the looks of it (and my own experience!) she knows what she’s doing.

Shauna, the owner isn’t 100% sold on the theme yet, and if you happen to check it out, you’ll see some basic structure, and a nice fat logo, compliments of her graphic designer sister, Tara Oles, but little else.

How the Work Started

I saw Shauna had a Google based “Blogger” site she was starting to post to more regularly and she voiced some interest in possibly running ads or something on her site someday. I’ve seen this trend up recently as people find out that it’s not that hard to get popular on sites like or with a free blog platform and some basic Facebook sharing capabilities. You can find her blogspot site here ( before/if she decides to “go legit” with the site

Eventually the content on her Blogger site will be ported over to the new site as part of our work.

This is certainly not the first time I’ve worked with someone looking to graduate from a small free and limited type of platform to a site that can take on the world and transform into something more substantial in terms of traffic, functionality or business…not to mention an actual domain name. (

I let her know I could get her on a real website platform (WordPress) and help her along the way.

The development process was fairly normal in my case, I had her fill out a request here, and I offered to manage hosting, set up the domain and get WordPress installed. I know a lot website development types shy away from doing all those steps, but because of how easy it is to outsource and automate this, and how difficult it is to explain what hosting, domain names, and then instructing an “end user” to go set them up…it just makes sense to offer to take care of all of it, and make sure never to be a jerk if they want to take their files and domain elsewhere. Alternately I take an educational approach with a training program if the user wants to take these steps on themselves with some support. Both have worked really well.

How to Charge a Friend?

You don’t really, that’s how I play it. Although it’s easy to see a friend or family member as an easy income source, it’s hard to draw professional lines and stay friendly, there are boundaries in business, it’s very much about relationship dynamics and messing with that is a dangerous line to play with. I argue business is actually more about relationship than it is about any actual service or product.

I typically ask for a minimum dollar amount, to cover basic costs and because of the psychological reason of when people pay even $5 for something, it mentally invests them to stay committed. Funny how that works.

It’s Still Valuable

Although Shauna is a friend, and I wont be making revenue from our work, the business transaction can still be valuable. Shauna, just like all clients have other friends and family, and business contacts that can use my services.

I’m in the for-front of Shauna’s mind for tech needs, and that will help when throughout her daily life someone comes across needing my services, and I will also purposely ask her for referrals and a little shout out. It’s a concept I like to think of  in terms saturation or reach when it comes to business. Like the world is a sponge, and your business is liquid.

Ask for referrals, a shout-out, or baked goods.

Be Smart

I’m excited to see where goes, and have a working relationship with Shauna, but your business isn’t something to give out on a whim, it’s hard enough to stay profitable sometimes with paying clients. The “red velvet rope” (from Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid) rule always applies whether friend or prospect. I’m going to make sure I work with clients who love working with me, who energize me, and who I can produce awesome results for.