Damn Good Content To Grow Your Business In The Digital World
Insights, Ideas and Innovations from the brains of the Saucal NERDS.
WooCommerce Subscriptions and Payment Gateways, Who Manages What?
21 Feb

We had a question come through, followed by a tweet. The tweet went on it’s own tangent talking about things not previously discussed, however it did raise a good question about payment gateways and WooCommerce Subscriptions.

I was always under the impression that in Subscriptions, it does not set up a recurring profile on the payment provider, rather Subscriptions sends single charges each month to the payment gateway1. I know at least it’s that way in Stripe. But I had a guy come through, and said I was wrong for PayPal.

You are right for almost all gateways. With PayPal Standard (and one or two other gateways, like WorldPay), the only option is to create a subscription at the payment provider. With all other gateways, including PayPal Reference Transactions (also built into Subscriptions, but requires special approval from PayPal’s end before it can be used) we just need a payment token, and can do everything else ourselves2. Although that said, for PayPal Reference Transactions, the “token” is actually a billing agreement, so the custom can still cancel/suspend that billing agreement at PayPal. AFAIK, there is no PayPal product which does not allow the customer to also manage the recurring payments. Something like PayPal Pro, which is just a credit card gateway, might do that though. But in those cases, you’d just want to use Stripe or something better anyway.

So there you have it. If you’re using PayPal Standard, or 1 or 2 other gateways, the subscription is managed on their platform. Otherwise, it’s managed within Subscriptions directly. And by “manage” I don’t mean it’s storing credit card data locally.

I hope that clears things up. Cheers to the team at Prospress for the answer. 😉

  1. By no means are we implying storing credit card data on the local server. This is a question of using a token and where and when charges are authorized from. This is explained in the answer. 

  2. This is what I was referring to. 

These Words Will Make Any Developer Your BFF
26 Oct

Whether you’re trying to get the most out of your in-house team or you’ve decided to hire out to a third-party developer, getting the most out of your relationship is essential to completing your projects successfully.

And a big part of that success is about communication. Namely, what you say (or don’t say) to them can mean the difference between getting everything you want or simply getting a door slammed in your face.

So, here’s what you need to know to make every developer adore you.

See our list of 7 tips for getting the most out of your dev team.

Do’s and Don’ts for Communication

Sometimes it’s easy to assume that when you say one thing, your dev team is hearing it the way you meant it. But a lot of times, client requests – especially those from non-technical clients – get lost in translation. Here are few ways to tweak your words to make sure you’re understood.


DON’T say: “This isn’t what I wanted”

Here’s the best advice we can give: devs can’t read your mind, so don’t pretend they can. You have to say what you want and say it very clearly. Draw a diagram. Over explain. Don’t treat them like children, obviously, but make sure you can show exactly why you want a project developed the way you do.

Are you trying to meet a certain goal? Do you have a specific target audience you’re trying to reach? Give your devs as much information as you can up front instead of just complaining about the project halfway through. It saves both of you headaches and hassle.

Do say: “This is what I want, and here’s why…”

DON’T say: “I want you to copy this exactly”

As they say, there’s nothing new under the sun. While a lot of what you see out there on the web will follow a basic formula or template, there is some really cool, innovative stuff being created every day by devs all around the world.

If you’re hiring a dev team to build you something amazing, don’t sell yourself short by asking them to carbon copy another site. Take some inspiration, show them some examples, but then step back and give your team some room to run with it.

Do say: “Here are some examples of things I like. How close can you get to this while still being original?”

DON’T say: “Just do it how I asked you to do it”

A dev’s whole job is to turn your ideas into a reality, and they’ve dedicated their lives to learning the latest technology and trends to make it happen. If you have experience as a coder, and you know the difference between Java and JavaScript and can speak the language, then you have some room to do things your way.

If, however, you’re not a dev yourself, it’s better to ask what the best solution is to get what you want. Chances are your team has some great experience or recommendations for building the site or app of your dreams.

Do say: “Here is what I would prefer. Is this the best way to build it?”

DON’T say: “Can you get this done faster?”

Everyone loves a panicked time crunch, right? Not so much. Dev teams are notorious for putting in long hours problem solving, so making more demands of their time is the fastest way to get on their grouchy side. If you have a specific timeline in mind, and it needs to be met, then find out what you can do to make the process easier on them.

Do they need your approval on projects quickly? Will they need certain files or content from you in order to move to the next step? Make sure you can keep pace with them so they can keep pace with your deadlines.

Do say: “Here is our projected timeline. What do you need from me to get this done?”

DON’T say: “Here’s my budget, make it work”


Unless you’re Tim Gunn, you probably shouldn’t go around demanding that your team “make it work” if you’re not paying them to work. Your goal here is to hire the best, not the cheapest, because you do ultimately get what you pay for. If you’re on a limited budget, pick one or two projects you know that the team will do exceptionally well, and worry about upgrading the rest as you go.

Do say: “Here is what I want you to focus on, is that doable for now?”

The key to successful communication is to ask questions and be open to suggestions. There’s a level of trust that goes into working with any team. But, the more trust and freedom you give the team, the better they’ll respond (if they’re worth their salt, anyway).

What Devs Really Want You to Know

At the end of the day, devs have your best intentions at heart. If they could tell you anything about working with them, it’d probably be these things:

We really do want your project to succeed. We’re not just here to eat pizza and code. Okay, maybe some of us are, but we like accomplishing things, too.

We’re not designers. Well, sometimes we do both, but most developers just code. If you want both, make sure you ask. Don’t assume we can Photoshop you a pretty picture just because we know HTML (or vice versa).

Source: Zen Freelancing

We want to speak your language, but it can be hard. We’re technical people, and if you’re not, we’ll have to try to explain some complicated terms to you. We’re not always the best at it, but we try.

We’re on a timetable, too. We want to get things done as quickly as you do, but sometimes problems need to be solved or other pieces need to fall into place first. If we’re not getting things done fast enough, there’s probably a legitimate reason.

We want to do cool things. Building websites or apps the way everyone else does pays the bills, sure, but we really want to tackle new and exciting challenges. If you have some cool ideas, throw them our way and we’ll see what we can do.

We hate bugs. Yes, crawly bugs are pretty gross, but so are bugs in our codes – which is why we spend so much time testing and retesting. Websites and apps go through numerous tests, so keep that in mind when making your deadlines.

We don’t mind feedback. Though we should add, “As long as it’s productive.” Feedback can be very helpful, but we often deal with a lot of complexities, so we need that feedback to be as specific as possible. Instead of saying, “No, I don’t like this,” give us a detailed list.

We’re experts, so trust us. We’ve been doing this a long time, and the worst feeling in the world is to think that you’re not confident in what we do. Take a breath, sit back, relax, and trust that we’re going to build you something great.

Get 7 free tips that will make your outsourced dev team love you.

Final Thoughts

Working with a team of devs, whether in-house or outsourced, can be a great way to implement some new, creative strategies into your business. But the last thing you want is to stress out the team trying to get things done.

Be sure to communicate as clearly (and as often) as possible. Provide feedback, give us suggestions, and show us what you like (or don’t like). Just make sure that you’re not micromanaging or expecting things to be done at lightning speed.

Give us your timeframe, set expectations, and then sit back and watch us go to work. You’ll be surprised at what we can accomplish when you give us a little room to run.

Toronto WooCommerce Meetup: February 2016 Recap
16 Mar

Toronto WooCommerce Meetup - February 2016

February 27, 2016 marked the inaugural Toronto WooCommerce meetup.1 A meetup where shop owners, developers and budding online entrepreneurs can come together to learn and share stories.

I was eager to get the first meetup started.  I wasn’t sure what topics people would want to discuss. Consequently, my objective was to identify what people were interested in. With this, I would craft an agenda for the coming year.  Giving me ample time to prepare material, and find the right guests.

These are not definitive and will change, however we will follow a progression.  Without adieu:

1 – Starting with Woo: What platform should I use?

We’ll compare shopping cart platforms (primarily Shopify) and the pros and cons of each one. Then, we’ll get started with Woo to start selling online. You’ll be introduced to setting up a theme and installing plugins as well as the best resources for WooCommerce help.

Focus: beginner.

2 – Charging taxes: What are the rules?  

Which countries do you charge tax? Who do you remit it to?  How do I configure the tax rules in WooCommerce?2

Focus: intermediate.  

4 – Using WooCommerce for invoicing.

Running a services business?  Would you like an integrated invoicing system to your website? Learn how to use WooCommerce for invoicing your customers.

Focus: beginner/intermediate.

5 – Configuring multi-language for WooCommerce.

Find out which plugins to use, and what to look out for.  This is geared for those who sell in more than one language.

Focus: intermediate.

6 – WooCommerce plugins 101.

Get started with building your own WooCommerce plugin.  Do’s & don’ts and best practises.

Focus: advanced.

7 – WooCommerce theme development 101.

Get started with building your own WooCommerce theme.  Do’s & don’ts and best practises.

Focus: advanced.

8 – eCommerce marketing.  

How to setup a sales funnel and drive traffic to your website. Learn techniques to keep your visitors engaged and turn them into customers.  We’ll also discuss how to setup Google Analytics on WooCommerce.

Focus: intermediate.

9 – Using Amazon with WooCommerce.

During this session we’ll discuss Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). All the ins and outs of drop shipping, products, reviews and more. Then, we’ll show you how to integrate your Amazon products into your WooCommerce store for greater effect. A special guest from Ordoro will speak.

Focus: intermediate.

10 – Scaling WooCommerce.  

What happens when you have 1000’s of customers or orders? How do you scale up your website so it’s stable and fast?  We’ll be having a special guest speaker Patrick Garman discuss from his experience with ColourPop.com.

Focus: advanced

11 – Selling themes and plugins.  

Want to develop plugins and themes and make some money in the WooCommerce marketplace?  We’ll have special guest Adam Pickering from Astoundify, who is one of Envato’s top selling authors.  He’ll discuss best practises and some of the challenges he’s had making world class themes for sale.

Focus: intermediate

If you’d like to see any topics up here, post them in the comments below. We’re looking forward to a great meetup with excellent content. Thank you!

  1. What is now Toronto’s go-to resource for all-the-things WooCommerce. 

  2. This will require the help of an accountant. If you know the answers to these, please holla at me

You know how I know you’re a n00b?
09 Feb

I see a lot of agencies these days pivoting into WordPress (WP).  For example, I listened to a podcast for an unnamed company that specializes in Magento development.  When I searched for the interviewees Linkedin profile, I noticed his profile listed “Creative eCommerce Company, *Magento and WordPress1.  This is after hearing an interview, where he specifically said “the majority of what we do is Magento.”  So, why is WordPress listed?

Well, that’s where the money is. So, people feel the need to jump ship.  Unfortunately, knowing WordPress takes time. Experience needs to be built.   Though most say they have skills, they really don’t.

Anyhow, back to my point.  You know how I know you’re a n00b?  capital P dangit.

I could ignore a spelling mistake.  But saying WordPress2, instead of WordPress?  There is a function inside of WP that corrects this exact fuck up. So, you know how I know you’re a n00b?  Because you don’t know WordPress functions.


Kanye West Mic Drop

  1. This is written with a lowercase p. 

  2. Again, with a lowercase p. See what’s going on here? 

Stop twiddling with CSS, do some math
28 Sep

I’m not sure what it is about web design (maybe it’s all industries), but there always seems to be a group of people who think they can do everything. Those guys who should be doing their job, but instead are trying to edit their own website to “save money.”

So, let’s figure this out. Saucal will bill you $200 per hour to make changes. Most small changes will take us less than an hour. So, $200 + tax, finished.

Let’s assume a sales rep decides, instead of making calls, or you know, improving his pipeline, he decides to edit a website. From our experience, they’ll contact us for a ton of information, and attempt to get started. Usually within 1-2 hours we get an email saying “the site is broken, can you fix it?” So, we do (because we have tons of backups in place). From there, they usually twiddle for at least 5-10 hours, usually to no resolve. OR, they do come to a resolve, and they’ve produced an abomination.

So, let’s do the math:

  1. Hourly rate for the sales rep (lets guess) at $25 an hour. At 5 hours, this is $125, at 10 hours, this is $250 (I’m not even going to factor in payroll taxes, etc, so the real cost to the business owner is closer to 2x).
  2. Potential business lost because your sales rep wasn’t doing his job: tough to measure, but as a business owner you should be thinking about this.
  3. Quality of your website: it’s gone down. This is an accumulative thing, yea. Wanna know how much it’s gonna cost for us to fix it in the future?

Seriously, people: just pay your web developer and focus on running your business.

What not to do when starting a web design business
17 Aug

Are you starting a web design business? Here’s what not to do — and why!

    1. Guess on your pricing
      • Always have a pricing table. It eliminates guessing, streamlines quotes and keeps you confident as you know exactly how a proposal impacts your bottom line. Wasting time on proposals keeps you from doing what you do best — creating stuff.
      • Not all projects are the same. For custom work that comes your way, employ a budgeting technique called PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique). It allows you to take a weighted average of your estimates, ensuring that you take a best-case scenario and worst-case scenario into account. It’s a method employed by the best web and software development companies around the globe.
    2. Hire based on the lowest price
      Don’t go for the $10 an hour programmer in India — it’ll cost you in time. Splurge on the more expensive people. It’s much cheaper in the long run. A professional programmer can finish a task with high quality in a week, opposed to the inexpensive half-assed programmer you chat with at 2 am, who drags projects on for months with no hope of completion. You can find good balances of value with geo-arbitrage, but be selective.
    3. Worry about the competition
      Competition doesn’t exist. Your art is yours — that’s what the customer wants. The second you start focusing on what everyone else is doing, and imitating them (Ooh, everyone has pretty scrolling websites!), you’ve commoditized yourself.
    4. Not use a project management system
      Get a good PM system and keep all your information in one place. Log all of your tasks and communications for each project. This allows new people to dive in and get a good history, know what is a priority, and get a bird’s eye view on work completed and work to do. Furthermore, you’re not always asking people for logins, or repeating yourself.
    5. Repeat yourself
      Document everything. If you find yourself giving instructions to new hires or clients — you’re doing it wrong. All that can be documented, should be. This will be one of your greatest time savers and, therefore, greatest assets. Include missions, marketing plans, all the things that failed, and all the things that worked. If it’s something you do more than once, write it down!
    6. Take bad clients for the money
      If they suck, they suck. Understand this: taking a client just for the money will make you poor. The shitty client who acts like they’ll solve your problems is only going to make them worse. They won’t pay on time, if at all. Your greatest weapon is to say no. The unicorn client is around the corner, trust me. Remember, you cannot give your time to a great customer if you’re spending it on stupid people.
    7. Not keep track of time
      You should track everything. Like money, you must know where your time goes.

      • Never go over-budget on a project. This is a risk all agencies face, due to scope creep. By keeping track of the budget and time spent, you can stay profitable.
      • Create strict deadlines and meet them. Use a Gantt chart. Delays cost you money!
    8. Spend all your money
      Keep a slush fund. Allocate a percentage of revenue for rainy days. Also, save a bit for a side project. All agencies love to build their own stuff, so unless you raise money, this allows you to play around once in a while. At the same time, don’t spend too much time on experiments, unless you’re willing to dedicate realistic time to it. However, this fund can also be used to build internal infrastructure, which can be considered an investment.
    9. Stay at home
      It’s nice to work in your underwear, and it is possible to get noticed purely via electronic means, but one needs human interaction. Get out there. Attend events, speak, hold lunch-and-learns, and network. While you’re at it, speak from the heart. It’s vital that you get out there and make a name for yourself. Show people what you’ve got, playa! Don’t hold back!
    10. Think small
      It’s easy to think when you’re starting out that everyone else is bigger than you. The truth is, you’re a lot smarter than you think. After learning about the back-end for websites for major companies like Johnson & Johnson, we realized that we were the ones ahead of the curve, and these big companies were way behind. It was also an obvious example of how we could provide value and win big!