Transcript: From Side Hustle to Successful Business

Hi, everyone, my name is Marjorie, thank you so much for joining us today. I am the director of gross R&D at WordPress.com. I’m based in Western Colorado and I am so happy to be welcoming our next guest today. His name is David Nitzsche and he is joining me from California. David, welcome. Hey, thank you for having me. Now, thank you for joining us. So let’s hop right on into it. So, David, first of all, it is such a pleasure seeing you again. We’ve worked together a few times over the last few months, and it’s always a joy to see your face for the benefit of our audience. I would love to hear from you. Tell us a little bit about yourself and about where you are with work today. Sure my name is David Nitzsche and I’m kind of based in Los Angeles. You know, kind of over the years, I’ve been a freelance editor at various companies and kind of stuff companies and kind of started work print going on almost a year ago now. So it’s been literally during the pandemic is kind of when all this happened. So it’s been a big change. I’d love to know what got you started with work. So for those of you who are not familiar, tell us a little bit about some of the work you’ve done. And and I mean, what inspired you to start work print? We do a lot of commercial based work and promos for companies, brand films. A lot of the commercial work has been with the NFL, a Honda. It’s a really wide ranging in the motivation to start work. Print was just. Doing things freelance kind of on my own, and I just wanted to kind of take it to the next level and be kind of a bit more in control of who I worked with and how I kind of worked with them. Yeah, and so when you first came to WordPress com, you had a website, and for those of you in the audience, if you haven’t gone to work, print. I think the URL was on the screen earlier. I encourage you to see it because it’s such a stunning website, if I do say so myself. And so it has a great portfolio of some of David’s work. So tell us about did the website come first or did your work come first? That’s tricky because I think I’ve always had a website and I’ve always made it myself, so it’s always been something that I’m very passionate about. But obviously, I don’t know. My ability is to drag a thumbnail into one of those editors where you can kind of make it look OK, but maybe not work that well. So I think the work came first, and then the website was kind of born from that as wanting the best possible kind of. Portfolio presents to really show off my work because expression what I do, myself included, everyone’s very visual. They want to be able to go to something, see what I’ve done, who I’ve worked with, and be able to kind of look at it and get a really quick read one not being distracted by maybe a bunch of other things. So that’s where you guys came in and it was great. Now I remember it’s been a few months, but I remember when we first had our call, you mentioned that. I mean, you get some business from your website, if I remember correctly, but you get a lot of your business. I mean, La is a company town, so a lot of it is referrals. So tell me, how are you finding some of your customers and tell me who some of your customers are? You mentioned NFL. I mean, I imagine someone at the NFL is typing into Google commercial filmmaker, right? No, they’re not. And they say La is a town and it’s all about who you know. And that’s very, very true. But the website almost has more of importance because you don’t know who’s talking about you out there, who’s going to say, oh, we talked to this one editor and he did this project for us. You should check them out. And then so without you really knowing someone is done in investigating your company in your work and you’re not really there to, you know, to walk them through, I kind of compare it to like an art gallery with the artist. Is there and they’re there to kind of explain what they’ve done. Well, you know, some of this goes to my website, so it’s kind of on them to figure out and find what they need. So, yeah, word of mouth is a big one. If someone sees something and they want to know who does it, they want to kind of be able to look around and find that. So having a very visual website where someone may recognize the image from the spot, but then also something that people do come across it through Google or wherever LinkedIn or wherever it might be, then you wanted to keep their attention, that kind of present as like a you know, a major kind of legit website, rather than just something that looks like I made it myself. So did your work. And and I apologize if you mentioned this before and I’d forgotten, but are you originally from l.a.? No, I’m from originally from Ohio with the film school in Florida. And I moved out here in 2010, so. So long, overnight success. Yes, I mean, I started as an office assistant and then an assistant editor and then an editor. I worked at a ton of different companies as freelance. I’ve been in a few companies as a staff editor. And so along the way, you kind of pick up things that you like. You don’t like projects I like working with and all that kind of just led into. I always wanted to do my own thing, but I think learning from every different, different situation, it’s kind of really brought me to this point to kind of feel. Ready, I guess, as much as you can to kind of, you know, jump into it and do it yourself, but it’s been fun. Yeah, yeah, so it sounds like the work that you’re doing now, I mean, everything that you’re doing now is sort of a culmination of everything you’ve learned over the years and the different jobs you’ve had in La so, I mean, at what point of what point, as you were learning your craft, did you realize that and creating these short films and commercials at one point, were you like, oh, my gosh, this is actually working. This is a business this is something I can take full time and, you know, fulfill my dream. Yeah I still don’t know that I have studied it. It’s you know, it’s kind of fun and surprising every day that I get to do this and that it’s working. And I think that as soon as I start to lose that, like, hustle mentality, then I start to kind of get worried because I always want to kind of be pushing it. And I really like making sure I’m doing everything I can to make it work. But I think doing things like this is kind of validating having companies return and come back like, you know, doing a lot of worked with the NFL or, you know, a Honda like all these companies that start coming back. Then you realize, OK, I must be doing something right. There’s something happening here. So the more and more confidence you get, then it just really helps. And then, like I mentioned, I think I’m coming on the one year anniversary of I always say the one year anniversary, because that’s when I changed it on LinkedIn is like my bio on is owner of work print. So that’s my one year anniversary, even though it happened way before then. But it’s kind of like if you can make it in La for a year, then you’re kind of, you know, you’re good. So I feel like I made it as a company for a year. So I feel, you know, I feel good about it. So, OK, that’s really cool. First of all, congratulations on the one year anniversary. Thank you. Thank you. Super happy that were you play a very small part of it, but still it’s exciting to have that. So, you know, WordPress, are all about telling stories. And what’s great about chatting with you is because you literally tell stories for a living and you have to do it in a format that where you can capture the entire story arc within a very short period of time, whether it’s right in titles of a movie or a commercial for a product. Can you kind of. Because I sure a lot of folks in the audience, including myself, are fascinated by, you know, what happens when you how do you pitch a story that’s only going to take twenty, 30 seconds to your customers? It’s a great question. I try to explain it to my mom every time. Yeah, sure. How would you explain it to your mom? And I don’t know. But the best analogy that I have come up with over the years is if someone has a 5,000 piece puzzle that they’ve made, what they want to make something smaller out of it, you have to take those same pieces of the puzzle or rearrange them to make a smaller version of that puzzle. And it’s I don’t know how to explain it other than that, but it’s basically you get tons and tons and tons of footage and you basically have to tell a story based on that. It’s not probably unlike being a copywriter for a book or something else. You’re really trying to get at the heart of what that brand wants, what they’re trying to sell, because at the end of the day, I can make the best edit in the world. But if it’s not selling their product, then it means nothing to them. So it’s trying to. Sell what they want or convey the message that they want and do it in a way that I think elevates all of that. Do they usually come to you with, like, story lines or ideas or do they expect you to do it? Is it really more collaborative? The good ones are very collaborative, and I think I like working that way. I would say most people come with kind of a brief idea or, you know, it can be anything from know, there’s a Honda commercial where they went and they shot for that idea, for that commercial. And so it’s more or less to figure it out as far as the overall scope of it. Or it could be something like the NFL where they send you highlights of every game this twenty, 2020 season and they’re like, let’s make something cool. So it’s wide ranging and a huge variety, but it’s what I love and I think it’s cool every time it changes you in something new. Every time. Yeah now did a pandemic I mean, a year ago we were in the heart of the pandemic. Yeah how did that affect your year’s launch? Well, I hate to say it, but it helped and only because. When you think about starting a business, you don’t you know, you get overwhelmed by the overhead and do I need an office and all of this stuff. And when that happened, everyone shut down it. Everyone kind of went back to the basics. What do we need? What’s the bare minimum? We need to make this happen? How can I send what I need to this editor and his computer to make something? And how do we work that way? So a lot of things had to be figured out. Online workflow, what do we use? How do we work together? Like, I have an assistant that I work with. And so there’s a lot to kind of figure it out as far as like how do we create this, like, online server? So, I mean, there’s a lot to figure out, but it honestly kind of took some of the stress away as far as having to be a brick and mortar at it company that people are going to want to come to. Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. So, yeah, now that I mean, I realize that California sort of fluctuates, but yeah, now that we’ve sort of hopefully moving towards some semblance of normalcy, do you think that you will be visiting the idea of the traditional business stuff? Do I get a brick and mortar or do I get a real studio or. Yeah, I mean, I’d love to, but I mean, I like working from home. I have a two-year-old and being able to see him is like, you know, I can’t imagine being any different now. So, you know, we’ll see where it goes. But it’s definitely something that would be really cool. I think the industry has changed. A lot of people have kind of changed the way that they work and change the way they work with their own teams. So I think everyone’s trying to figure it out at the same time, whether you have a huge company established or whether you don’t. So I think it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. Yeah so as I mentioned at the top of the hour, at the top of the session, you and I met because you needed to have your website built in and you had previously built a website on a different platform and but then you moved over to WordPress. So I would love, if you wouldn’t mind sharing really quickly why you decided to move to WordPress. It’d be great. Yeah, I always heard good things about WordPress and as far as like their hosting and how you guys can help with SEO and it’s just it’s built in a bedourie like kind of on the back end. But then I found out that you guys also help to kind of design and build websites. And so that was the biggest thing for me. And I loved working with you guys that we talked first. So I kind of told my overall idea. And then it went from there. And I think it’s just working with the team to kind of help elevate it, to do things that I, you know, one don’t have time for and to kind of don’t know how to. It was really great. So it’s nice to work with you guys who understand. The you know, the website and the web build and what people want and how to see it. And it was nice for me to kind of take everything. I probably built like six websites before this on my own. It changes every time. So and every time I kind of learn something new or different way to present things. So it was just a really great experience. Well, so I think so I, I often think that a website building a website is like telling a story. And it’s funny when you’re talking about how you pitch a story to customers and how customers pitch a story to you, because when my team comes together with a client and find out how to build a website, it’s often I need to hear the story from the customer. I mean, what is the story of your website? So when I think about your website, I first of all, I don’t think we can take a whole lot of credit because you came to us with very specific, specific vision of your site. So I would love to know. What story does in your mind, what story does your website tell about you, David, about work, print, about the work you’ve done? Right first and foremost, I think it was important that it’s simple that obviously I want people to watch the videos on the site, but if they don’t, I want them to be able to scroll and get a very quick kind of view of what I’ve worked on. And then I think that there’s little elements in there that help to inject a little bit of personality and some color and like the logo and kind of just taking it to just help give it a little bit of life. Nothing flashy, but I think that it’s a really good mix of a simple, you know, perfect website with some personality and a little flavor to it. So yeah, that kind of visa is that kind of the personality you want to convey for your entire organization is like, you know, slightly irreverent, professional. We know how to have fun, but we know how to, you know, yeah, they can change depending on the client that we’re talking to. Sometimes it’s more fun. And, you know, the times they have to be more serious. But I think that, yeah, it’s nice to have that kind of little head of personality in there. I think it’s nice. Got it. OK, well, it looks like we have looks like we have some questions coming in from the audience. So if. Yeah, let’s just go ahead and bring up. So David, here’s a question for you. How did you decide on the layout of your home page? Thank you, Kathryn, for that question. Yeah, that’s a great question. I think trial and error. And I looked at a ton of websites that I liked and some portfolio websites that get really small thumbnails. And it’s hard. You get overwhelmed very quickly. There’s some websites where everything’s moving and you don’t know what to focus on. So I think working together with Marjorie’s team on the layout, we just kind of came up with this thing that there’s different size grids, which allows us to focus on the larger focus on different projects. Some projects move and other projects kind of fill in the gaps. But I think every project kind of has its time to shine in this layout, which is nice. And you changed the layout because I sometimes I’ll come to your site just because it’s so much fun to look at and look at the visuals. And I notice that sometimes it changes. I imagine you have some new work that goes in your portfolio that you add to, right? Well, yeah, and that’s the other thing is that I wanted something that was easy to update because as we finished projects, we obviously want to get them out there. And so if it’s in a grid form, it’s like either taking one from a grid and moving it down or taking another one. And it’s just it’s easy to drop. You don’t have to redo a whole page layout and all that stuff also. OK, yeah, flexibility. Awesome all right. So we have time for one more question. How did you. OK, Felicia asks, how did you find your clients ahead of being known in the industry as you are now? It’s back to that word of mouth, I mean, you work with one someone like one person, and you just kind of milk them for all you can for their connections. And you hope that they move to another company and bring your name there. And I compare it to a virus. I mean, it’s like you work, you know, if you work in a good way and it’s in a good way a good virus, you work with one person and it spreads. And you just continue to do the best work you can every time. Even if it’s a project that you’re not super pumped about, something cool can come from there. So it’s really it’s a slow build, so don’t get discouraged. But yeah, just connect with everyone possible that you can. It’s that hustle. So if I’m going to I’m going to just ask you one more question before we wrap up, David. Sure what are you excited about in the future? Coming coming forward as you’re entering your second year? Yeah I mean, I’m excited to keep working with the same clients that I’ve kind of built relationships with and excited to kind of use this momentum and growth to kind of build and find new people. Yeah and it’s just it’s exciting. And it’s also exciting now that we’re coming out of the pandemic to see where it goes from here and how people are just kind of making things every day, even more so now. So I think there’s a lot to look forward to. Well, thank you so much, David, for joining us today. This was a lot of fun. I feel like we could have continued for a lot longer because you have interesting stories, but we have to go. But thank you again. Thank you to everyone who was part of our session today. I hope you enjoy the rest of the growth summit and we hope to see you in the next session. Thanks so much. Thank you.

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