The one thing we’re always grateful for at Partner League, is its vibrant community of thousands of Shopify partners from across the globe.
Over time, we have come together to talk about the changing eCommerce ecosystem, Shopify’s role in it and how we have all moved on with the times, and challenges thrown at us.
We’ve sometimes discussed new features and strategies, and at other times, brainstormed on ideas that will help everyone level up at what they do.
So we decided it was time to start getting some of our members into the spotlight. The people who have been continually adding value to our community by helping it thrive together, and you probably already know this through our Member Spotlights!
Our goal is to bring forward a member’s story every week, that would include their background and the projects they work on. But more importantly, what makes them an integral part of the Partner League community.
This time round, we have Taylor Page with us. A freelance web developer and Shopify expert. You probably have seen his work or know him as The Pages Media.
Let’s get right into our conversation.
Hey Taylor, welcome to Member Spotlight. Can you give us some details on your background, and what first got you interested in helping Shopify merchants and starting out as a web developer in this ecosystem?
I'm a second career web developer. My first career was primarily in social work with a masters in counseling psychology.
I've taught myself web development for years and eventually started out a Shopify store to try dropshipping. That didn't work out, but I found I really enjoyed working in Shopify.
Eventually I helped a member in my local web development group on a Shopify project. Found out later he owned an agency and those customizations were part of a larger project on a pretty sizable brand on Shopify.
That's when I realized I could use the skills I had learned and my experience with Shopify over the years to help Shopify merchants reach their goals. I went all in on only taking on Shopify freelancing jobs in November 2020 and was able to quickly turn my side-hustle into a full-time job, going all-in on freelancing in May 2021.
Definitely looks like you did a lot of learning and reading up while starting your online store and that shaped up your career as a Shopify expert. Would you like to tell us a little about what you do and the challenge you saw in the market that you’re trying to solve?
I'm a freelance web developer. I primarily do front-end web development, so theme customizations or app integrations. But because of my background I get involved in everything short of building custom apps (but will in the future).
As far as challenges, in my experience, it is really hard to hire in the ecommerce space. Because it's a booming industry, there are a lot of bad actors out there who over-promise and under-deliver.
I offer a lot of insight and knowledge, not just presenting myself as an expert but giving merchants the facts about solutions to a problem and letting them be a part of that decision on how it's implemented.
There are also a lot of merchants who are doing well, but not well enough to hire their own staff or afford an agency. At the moment, I'm helping fill that space.
Even as extra hands on a development team or offering services to agencies who are in-between hires. Shopify is really amazing if you think about how powerful it is and sometimes folks just need a little bit of help to maximize it or customize it to work best for them. My goal is always to provide solutions that are sustainable and put the most power back in merchants' hands to help them succeed.
That’s definitely a lot of hard work on your hands right now then. But you’re actually right; it’s important to educate merchants and enable them to make decisions on their own. So how do you get the word out about your business?
My success at this point in freelancing has been due to using platforms for leads. Being a second-career developer, I was not having a lot of luck in my local area getting web development jobs. I didn't have the mindset, personal connections, or resources that were meaningful for a successful business.
I'm working harder to establish leads off platforms and have had some success through LinkedIn as well after folks find me there and reach out through my website.
Joining Partner League is definitely part of the effort to start growing more organic lead sources. Not just networking but learning the tips and tricks of other successful agencies and individuals by being in the same space they are and asking questions when I can.
Networking here has definitely led a lot of our members to opportunities for their business. Have you been able to work on a collaboration project with any of the Shopify Partners here?
I haven't been able to collaborate with another Partner yet, but really do look forward to this sort of opportunity in the future! I've only been in since last month.
Well, we’re sure you’re going to be collaborating with someone soon! Our members really enjoy these projects. Moving on to networking, can you highlight a valuable connection made within Partner League, a resource or pivotal insight that you learned from being a member?
I have only been a member a very short time, but I sat in on a conference call listening to Elise DeCamp with WeCommerce talk about considerations for acquisitions. Really mind-blowing stuff to me that there is even a consideration for building up a business to be sold off one day.
While I had heard about this plenty of times for SaaS products, I had no idea that agencies were even a potential option for these groups. This got me started on thinking how I can start considering expanding my own freelance business to one day turn into something more than what I'm doing currently.
I'm a very frugal person by nature and the Partner League membership fee initially gave me pause, but that one phone call made me feel like it was worth it!
Interesting. That definitely is something even we would love to learn more about. Which other professional online communities are you part of and most engaged in? Free or paid. And do communities play an integral part of your business growth?
The Shopify Partner Slack community and then social media groups, like Facebook, that are Shopify related are ones I tend to look out for and weigh in when I can to try and be helpful. I don't think communities have had a huge impact yet, but I'm still figuring a lot of that out.
Finding your way in a community can definitely take some time, but it’s worth it in the end. What are the top 3 tools (digital or physical) you use, and can’t live without, to help you as an entrepreneur or freelancer?
My MacBook for sure being the first. Feels like a given, but I previously had used PCs my whole life before getting serious about web development. It was the first business purchase I made and by far the best for my productivity.
Trello for productivity is my second tool that I use and really need to help me manage and stay on top of client projects. I've tried paid productivity and project management tools and I just keep coming back to Trello. While not the best for teams, for a solo freelancer it really is all I need.
Third, the Vimeo Video Record extension. I use this tool all the time to record myself and my screen when trying to win jobs or record tutorials in hand-off documentation or provide updates for merchants I'm working with. It's really absolutely necessary for me, as it helps me save time in updates or to help provide helpful and specific documentation to merchants so they don't have to call for small changes. It's also been invaluable when trying to win proposals. Being able to provide video helps showcase my communication skills and I feel like it helps me present more as a real person who can help.
We love Trello too and the Vimeo extension you just mentioned, that’s now going on top of the list of our must-try tools. We’ve been wanting to experiment with more videos as well. So to wrap up and give our members something to look forward to, what are you working on now to help your business get to the next level?
At the moment, I'm looking at a website redesign to better showcase my skill set in how I can help Shopify merchants and also start to get into marketing for my freelance business.
I've relied on platforms because it was "easy" to get started, but seeing the success I've had in being able to help merchants succeed has shown me that I can start moving off platforms (as sometimes these have buy-in from the merchant as well that's not as conducive to their business).
That’s definitely going to be a lot of work, but a much needed direction for all us Shopify Partners, and we look forward to seeing you succeed!
Loved getting a peek into what made Taylor start his career as a Shopify Partner?
Keep an eye open for our next Member Spotlight post coming soon! We’re going to make it our goal to share insightful snippets in the form of mini-interviews that you can read on the go, and learn from.
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