Introducing Kerry Carron
Kerry is passionate about helping others. She educates, inspires, and networks with freelancers, sharing her experience, teaching skills, and offering actionable attitudes to shift mindset in the direction of success.
Tara: This is Hallway Chats, where we meet people who use WordPress.
Liam: We ask questions, and our guests share their stories, ideas, and perspectives.
Tara: And now the conversation begins. This is episode 99.
Tara: Welcome to Hallway Chats, I’m Tara Claeys.
Liam: And I’m Liam Dempsey. Today we’re joined by Kerry Carron. Kerry is passionate about helping others. She educates, inspires, and networks with freelancers, sharing her experience, teaching skills, and offering actionable attitudes to shift mindset in the direction of success. Welcome, Kerry.
Kerry: Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure meeting you both and being here with you guys today.
Tara: We’re excited that you’re here, too. Thanks so much for joining us. Can you start by telling us a little bit more about yourself?
Kerry: Sure. I live in southern New Mexico in a city called Alamogordo. I try to say it for everybody because spelling it out, nobody ever knows how to say it. I am married to my husband Michael. He is the love of my life and the man of my dreams. We are now empty nesters after raising three boys who are current in their 20s and their 30s. I’m a freelancer who is now able to completely work 100% of the time from home.
Tara: Wow. There’s a lot there to talk about that isn’t even talking about WordPress too much. How awesome to hear somebody who’s been married for a long time say that they’re married to the love of their life. That’s pretty cool. And he must be supportive of your business and you being an entrepreneur and working from home, I would think or it would be hard to love somebody if they didn’t like that.
Kerry: Absolutely. We’ve actually been married for coming up on 25 years. It has been a journey, and it continues to be a journey. He is very supportive as I am as well with him. I think a lot of that has to do with our faith. We are very much faith-based, and we just love life and happy to be here and help one another.
Tara: Excellent. Excellent. Are your children nearby or are they all over the place – your boys?
Kerry: No. Our boys are about 12 hours away from us. Two of them live in San Diego and one lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Tara: So you really are empty nests with not even anybody popping in for a visit or a dinner?
Kerry: That is very true. In fact, this last month, unfortunately, we lost our last fur child, so we are also petless at this point. So true empty nesters, and we’re embracing it and moving forward and going to try to take advantage of some travel time I think.
Tara: Yeah, that becomes easier when you don’t have pets, even if it’s sad that they’re gone. That is, you look at the opportunities that come your way as a result. Kerry, tell us a little bit about your business, what you do and how you got started in working for yourself and in WordPress, be it what you did before that or what your path was to finding it.
Kerry: Absolutely is I’ve been a freelancer since 2009. Prior to that, I had a career in air traffic control. I did that for about 17 and a half years – military veteran. Got my training for air traffic through the Air Force. After that, I went into the Federal Aviation Administration, which gives me a lot of great skills, which I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to talk about a little bit later. But in 2009, I was laid off, not from air traffic, but a related position, and I’ve been a freelancer since. I also have an accountability in a small group leader since 2012.
I got into web design and development when I started developing over 20 of my own personal sites. And then friends started asking me to help them with their sites, and then started building client sites. I was introduced to WordPress probably somewhere around 2007. So not as long as some of the freelancers I know and work with, but again is one of those journeys and it’s a passion of mine. So I absolutely love it.
Tara: Yeah, that’s a significant amount of time. What were your 20 websites I have to ask? Were they all related topics, or how does one person have 20 websites?
Kerry: I think it started out with being a domain hog. I just collected them for a while. But in reality, what I did, it was probably not too long after the dot-com craze, and I realized the importance of owning one’s name as their domain. So I purchased all of our family’s names. So I have my children’s websites with their names. My husband and I both have websites with our name. Then, of course, I knew I wanted to start a small business, so I grabbed up some domain names for that.
My very first website was actually an affiliate marketing website. I did Ed Dale’s 30 Day Challenge, and it really inspired me to develop something along those lines of helping other people learn how to do it, and at the same time build up my own websites. So I just kind of got into it that way, I guess.
Liam: What’s the bulk of your services now? Are you mostly buildings clients’ sites? Are you building, maintaining? Is there some other aspect of consultancy?
Kerry: Yeah, it’s morphed over the years. It started out just helping us update their sites because they were afraid to push the button, especially if things broke. But I offer my clients WordPress website hosting, maintenance, security updates, customer support for questions, problems, or site additions or changes.
The way I have my hosting setup is I do more or less highly recommend – we’ll just put it that way. Highly recommend you allow me to host your website. I have a dedicated server that I have split up into different sections and IP addresses, and I have a team of other freelancers, and designers and developers who are helping me to come up with a standard for how we want everybody’s website to be on the server, with an emphasis on really super secure websites as well as our server. So if you’re on our server, you get our service. If you’re not on our server, you can still get our service, but it’s going to be a lot more limited and we can’t ensure that you’re going to have a secure website as if you’re on our server.
Liam: What’s your client based on? Who are you serving?
Kerry: Wow, that’s a great question. Sometimes I asked myself that same thing. I have this horrible habit of learning to be just above average in pretty much everything I do. Unfortunately, I’m not a master at anything. So I would say anybody who is…let’s go with my ideal client. My ideal client would be somebody who needs a website because they know they need it, not because they want it, and they want to run the business and they want me to run their website. I’m a much better team player than I am an individual person – as contrary as that is to me being a type A personality. But I do much better when I’m working with a team of people, or I’m helping somebody do something for them.
Tara: That’s a good insight to have about yourself. Did you have to learn that the hard way? I mean, you work for yourself, so do you have a team, or how is that insight come to be? Because I liked it very much. It sounds like you’ve given it a lot of thought.
Kerry: It again has morphed from where I began. Wow, let’s see where to begin with that. I guess it kind of leads into how I learned what I’m good at and what I’m not good at. I’m very good at designing and creating processes that ensure that nothing’s missed in developing anything. I’m also a firm believer in automating as much as possible. So I’ve always been intrigued with systems.
I suppose my military and federal aviation administration career probably contributed a lot to that. As you can imagine, in air traffic, procedures are quite stringent and rules must be followed, and checklists continually being used. So I used those skills to develop standard operating procedures for my own business. As I learned, what was working and what wasn’t working, I just simply shared that with other people, and it started carrying over into helping others with what they were doing.
What it ended up leaving to was working with other designers and developers, educating them, inspiring them, networking with them, and assisting them or even providing similar services to them and or their clients. So it’s just kind of been this big melting pot of a business with the idea of eventually replacing the active income that I have to trade my time for money with into something that will hopefully evolve into something that is more than 50% passive-type income.
Tara: Processes are important but there’s something that I think a lot of times when you’re running your own business we – I can speak for myself – but we often don’t take the time to do because we are busy producing work and actually finding the time and organizational capacity to put together those procedures. Is that something that you’ve ever considered marketing in and of itself to other people like you? I know there are some other people in the WordPress space.
I think of Jennifer Bourn, for example, who has taken her processes for project management and sells them as a program and a package that people can participate in and get her tools and her emails and all that type of thing. That seems like something that I can tell from talking to you. And I appreciate your reference to your background and the types of things that you needed to do in the FAA, applying that to other people in your same type of business. Or maybe you already do that.
Kerry: I have thought about that actually, and I’ve actually participated in some of Jennifer’s courses that she had through iThemes. Her processes are incredible. I don’t think I’m quite organized enough yet myself to be able to do that. However, I have recently started working with a highly visible individual in the WordPress community, and I’m helping to put his procedures that he has in his head onto paper and help him with managing his company. For now, I’m going to leave his name unknown. We’ll just leave that. I’ll let him make that announcement at some point in time…
Tara: That’s cool. Interesting. That’s cool. Thanks for sharing that.
Kerry: And it’s literally just started like within the last two weeks. So we’re going to be coming up with a title for me, I think. That’s it’s always exciting for me. I love titles. Like major go-getter or…
Liam: Titles can be a reflection of success. And I wonder, Kerry your definition of success. What does it mean to you personally, professionally, maybe some are both? How would you define it?
Kerry: It’s a little bit of everything I think. When I think of it in terms of success, and what I feel I am successful at or whatnot, I think it’s mostly to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I alluded to it a bit ago to have more than 50% of my business based on a more passive type of income than having to be tied to a desk having to trade my time for money.
A lot of it is financially based, but at the same time, I don’t want that at the risk of giving up my peace. I don’t want to trade my peace for my passion either. So it’s a balance. I guess success to me as being able to successfully balance everything. I don’t know how to answer that.
Tara: What’s your favorite thing to do?
Kerry: My favorite thing to do is to find solutions for people and provide them with options so that they get to choose what solution is best for them. That’s on a professional level of course. My favorite thing to do personally is spending time with my husband. He’s my best friend. We like to travel. We’re into hiking, working out together. Or sometimes it could be as simple as that picking the next TV series to watch.
Tara: What’s the current one?
Kerry: I think it’s the witches one. There’s something about…I don’t even know the name of it. We just pick one and we go with it. We’re big sci-fi and adventure, action, drama kind of thing. I don’t know. We could watch anything, it doesn’t matter.
Tara: It becomes a concert comfortable thing to do together.
Liam: Does he participate in your business at all? Is he active in it at all? Does he run a business as well?
Kerry: He does not run a business. He is actually a master auto technician. It’s interesting our careers are very similar, even though they’re very different. Which is very like our relationship. We are very similar, but we’re very different. We always get to whatever solution it is by he goes this way; I go this way. He goes the short way; I go the long way.
He jokes with me a lot that I do everything the hard way. I think some of that has to do with the fact that although I’m quite capable of learning to do anything, it does sometimes take me a longer period of time to be able to learn it. But once I know it or once I learn it, I really know it.
Back to the question, is he involved in my business? One of the things I absolutely hate doing in my business is bookkeeping. I don’t know that he likes doing it, but he’s much better at it than I am. So he does take care of the books for me.
Liam: Well played on that one. Well played on that one.
Kerry: I have too many other things that my mind is actively trying to do within the business to have to worry about that. Mentally, I pretty much know where everything is. It’s not like I go out and don’t have a budget. I understand bookkeeping, I just don’t like to do it. He is a 1% owner, and that’s on purpose. We are an LLC, so it’s more for the legal protection of the business and the entity itself. And It’s a learning process. Everything in life for us is a learning process.
Liam: Well said. I want to go back to your definition of success. You talked about not wanting to trade effectively professional success, the ability to do what you want when you want for peace and that it’s a balance. How do you measure that? How do you measure that balance? How do you measure how much peace is enough or how much money is enough as compared to your stock of peace?
Kerry: For me, personally, it has a lot to do with my faith, being a Christian, leading a Christian-like life, trying to lead by example. I think that if you ask anybody who knows me, they’ll be like, “Oh, she’s so successful, she’s got everything together.” It couldn’t be farther from the truth.
However, I have a peace with where I’m at and I know it’s not where I need to stay. I also believe that there is nothing that’s going to be put in front of me that I can’t handle in some way, shape, or form. So I just handle what I can, and when I can’t, I try to take a deep breath and build in some breathing room, and I study about it, and I pray about it, and I learn about it. At times, I’m out of control, but I am still able to control myself. So things might be completely out of control but…
One of the things I’ve told a couple of my friends a number of times when they get very stressed out is, whenever I’m feeling super stressed, if I take my emotion out of it, and deal in fact, then everything becomes crystal clear. That doesn’t mean don’t be emotional, it just means approach it from a perspective that is free of emotion, because you can always bring that emotion back afterwards.
One of the most difficult things that I recently had to do was give up on a particular aspect of my side business, one of my 20 websites. It was sucking all of my time, all of my energy. I loved doing it, but there was no return whatsoever, other than the peace of mind of knowing that I was doing good work and putting great information out there. But it wasn’t an equal trade, and I ended up having to give that up.
Within a week of giving that up is when this other door opened, and a new opportunity was there in front of me. And so, it’s a matter of learning to continually evaluate where you are, decide whether it’s where you want to be and leading you to where you want to go. If it’s not, then you need to find the graceful way of stepping back and allowing this a new opportunity, the new door to open in front of you so that you can continue to grow and you can continue to move beyond where you are to get where it is you really want to be.
Liam: That’s a good approach, and it’s one that requires an active level of self-critical reflection to discern is this the right road and should I be at this point on this road at this point in time?
Kerry: Absolutely. One of the things both my husband and I try to build into our life every day is we’re always trying to learn something new. Now, that can be a drawback if you’re trying to focus on one thing and become a master at it. But at the same time, there’s a certain level of me, a certain perspective inside me where I don’t feel I’m successful if I’ve stopped learning. I can’t grow if I’ve stopped learning. And I’m nowhere near where I have the potential to be.
So I need to continue to learn at least one new thing every day. And more importantly than learning it is potentially being able to apply it. If you can’t apply what it is you learn, then there’s no sense in learning. You might as well learn something to be able to apply. I try to do that both in my business as well as in my personal life, in my relationships, in my finances, in my business, everything across the board. Try to learn something new every day and apply it.
Liam: That’s a good idea. I like that. Kerry, you mentioned that you first encountered WordPress in 2007. How did you learn it and how have you shared it with others?
Kerry: As early as probably, I’m going to go out on a limb and say had to be near 2000, is when computers really started becoming popular. Everybody had a computer at home. I loved spending time on my computer. But I didn’t like wasting time on my computer. And I thought to myself, there has to be a way that I can do something on this wonderful piece of technology that will allow me to have an income and work from home. It was in the back of my mind.
At that point in time in my career, I had just resigned from being an air traffic controller due to illness in the family, and I needed to care for an individual. So my husband and I were at a place where we pretty much had no income at all so I was out there looking. We got involved with a Hockey Association, and we dedicated all of our time and energy to this Hockey Association. Traded membership to the Hockey Association for time that we gave to the association basically managing this ice rink.
They needed a webpage. So there were web pages all over. You could build a web page here. So I set out to learn HTML. And so I learned HTML – taught myself – then I built a webpage, and I’m like, “There has to be an easier way to do this. I’m having to recreate this page millions of times. Why can’t it just automatically fill?” Well, there’s PHP and MySQL, imagine that.
So somebody said, “You should try WordPress.” And I went over. Of course, I’m like everybody else at the beginning. I don’t know the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org and I couldn’t figure it out. I’m like, “This is way above me. I don’t understand anything about this.” So I didn’t. We had somebody else build a… A friend of mine needed a website for some vacation rentals, and so he built the site. And I told him, I said, “I am going to be your client from hell, because I like to know how things work and I need to understand this.”
So I would go in and I learned about servers, I learned how to manipulate all of the files and change files. Didn’t know about when you updated it will erase everything. So there was a lot of back and forth. Then it wasn’t working out for him because I was the client from hell, but I knew I was the client from hell. So I knew that if I was going to build a website, I had to do it myself because otherwise, I was going to drive whoever was trying to take care of me totally crazy. So I tried WordPress again.
And I mentioned the first website I built was an affiliate website – it was built on WordPress, but at the time, I didn’t know it was built on WordPress because the person and the system that I was using was a third party system that you would go in and manage WordPress through their system. Suddenly, I realized, “Hey, this is WordPress.” So then I started building my own websites from WordPress, but using their system to install it because they were one of the first one click install type of things.
So I just started doing these one-click installs and started working with this guy who literally had over 600 websites and managing all of his websites on the server. And it just built in grew and grew and grew. As you can imagine, with 600 websites, you learn how to use WordPress pretty quick because you learn how to do one thing, and then you do it on 600 sites. You learn another thing and you do it on 600 sites. You do it 600 times, eventually, you figure it out. So that’s how I got into learning WordPress.
Kerry: I remember one particular thing, another individual that I was good friends with online, I did not understand how widgets worked and the widget areas in the back. And I’m all confused about how to do something and he’s like, “Just use a widget.” I’m like, “I don’t know what that is.” And he’s like, “Oh, let me show you.” He showed me widgets in widget areas, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is incredible.” So I just from there and then I started building my own plugins, building my own themes. Mostly themes. I started with themes because I was working with iThemes and their builder and I was just creating hundreds and hundreds of child themes. I loved it.
Tara: That’s a great story. I mean, it sounds like it must have been overwhelming, but yet a good way to learn. I want to go back because you shared some advice with us about your views on learning something every day. We’d like to ask people about advice that they’ve received and that they could pass on as well. Can you share with us or think of any advice that someone’s giving you that you’ve taken to heart and adopted that you can share with us as well?
Kerry: Absolutely. When I first started and I was doing the affiliate marketing, I was good friends with another gentleman who had just recently figured out affiliate marketing to the point where he could retire. I was asking him tons of questions. “How do you know what system to use for affiliate marketing?” And he said, “It really doesn’t matter which one you use, just pick one and stick with it.” So I’ve kind of adapted that mindset.
If you’re a designer or a developer in WordPress, you know there are so many ways to do the same thing and have it work. So just like his advice was to me, that would be my advice to others who are learning, is pick something that resonates with you and sticks with it. Start with a theme or a theme system that you like, and that you can learn and understand and then add to it after you really know it and really understand it.
Tara: That fits into your personality of being process.
Kerry: Yes, thank you.
Tara: We’re running out of time, but I just wanted to remark on something that you said that I noted earlier. And maybe this is a good way to wrap things up, but I love that you said that “I have peace where I’m at, but that’s not necessarily where I want to stay.” On that kind of final thought, I just want to say, where do you see yourself going from here?
Kerry: I think it’s going to be a lot more of the same difficult time learning, but really, truly understanding. I don’t know exactly where I’m going. And as much as I’d like to control it, I know I’m better off not trying to control it. Regardless, I will see success. I don’t ever see myself not being successful. I was raised and taught that I can do anything, and I truly believe that.
Now the doesn’t mean I’m going to be a basketball star because I’m five foot two. That’s just not going to happen. However, I can dream big and I can reach my goals. So I’m just going to continue to set goals and continue to grow and learn and see where my journey leads me.
Tara: Great. Thank you for sharing that. Kerry, we are out of time. It’s flown by. We really loved chatting with you and getting to know you better. So thank you so much for joining us. Where can people find you online?
Kerry: Oh, people can find me at ultimate-solution.com. That’s my business website. Or of course, you can always find me at kerrycarron.com. That’s where I’m at.
Tara: Thank you.
Liam: Kerry, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you out here on our little virtual hallway. Thanks so much.
Kerry: You’re very welcome. And thank you so much for having me. I hope you all the best. And to everybody listening, go for your dreams.
Tara: Thanks, Kerry. Bye-bye.
Liam: Thanks, Kerry.
Liam: Thanks for listening to the show. We sure hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Tara: If you like what we’re doing here – meeting new people in our WordPress community – we invite you to tell others about it. We’re on iTunes and at hallwaychats.com.
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