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A programmer, graphic artist and the pope walk into a bar – my next project

For the past couple of weeks I have been heads down working on my next 3 projects that I have in my to-do hopper. My original goal was to finish one before starting on the second item in the list. But the best laid plans always go awry at times and they have for me.


FOCUS is an acronym for Follow One Course Until Success. It teaches you to not work on many things at the same time and instead focus on one thing to get it working. I have a list of ideas that I think will make good projects. I prioritize this list and try to work on items one at a time until success.

My current project list includes the following items:

  • Custom Map Website
  • Meal Plans Website
  • Podcast

Custom Map Website

I have been playing with the Google Geochart API to create maps of the world. It is an incredible API that allows you to customize any map of any area of the world. I decided to build upon what I was learning and create a website that sells custom maps.

The first step in my project was to create a project scope of work document. I have over a decade of programming experience so writing this document came naturally. It will provide the exact details of what I want in the website that I can give to a programmer for them to create.

The next step was to find a programmer with knowledge of the Google Geochart API that could create the website for me. I reached out to about 8 programmers that I have worked with in the past to gauge their level of interest in doing the work. None wanted to take on any side projects at this time but one said he was interested but it would not be until January before he could start. So nix that idea.

Next I went out and posted a job on both and I got 5 applicants from elance and 11 from odesk. I sent a follow up form with 8 questions to everyone that applied. I did this because it allowed me to judge their level of familiarity with the Google Geochart API and their understanding of the project. This immediately weeded out 5 applicants.

Next I reached out to a company called TopTal which is an upscale development staffing firm. I had heard of them from a podcast that I listened to. I gave them my spec document and they came back with an estimate that was seriously overly conservative in their estimation. I talked to the project manager and showed him my concerns and he said he would revise the quote.

I am waiting to hear back from them with a revised quote. I would like for this arrangement to work because of the stability and guarantee that the work will be done vs taking a crap shot at picking a programmer from elance or odesk. I wam willing to pay more for the work with TopTal in exchange for the level of certainty that I get from the company.

Regardless of what happens with the revised quote from TopTal I will be picking a programmer to work on this website. My goal is to have a programmer selected and work started by Friday of next week. The programmer should be able to complete the website in 2-3 weeks tops.

Meals Plans

Sometimes a great idea for a website is right in front of you. Last week I spent the evening at my younger sister’s house so I could help her out on the computer. While there she was telling me about her experience with Crossfit since she recently joined a gym.

She and her husband were talking about what they wanted to eat for the upcoming week. They usually cook on a Sunday and freeze their meals for the upcoming week. They were trying to make sure their meals were “paleo” friendly since that is what their Crossfit gym recommended.

I suggested they need a way to print out meal plans for the week that would include a detailed shopping list. They could take the shopping list to the grocery store and get what they needed for meals for the upcoming week. My sister said I should invent a website that offered this service. And that is how this idea came about.

I did some research into the Latin words for healthy and food and found the Latin word Edesia who is the God of Food. So I decided to create a website that will sell meal plans.

Since I am not a graphics person I hired the graphics guy at work to create a graphic image showing what my website could look like. I gave him some suggestions on what I wanted and he went to work. Below is the graphic he created for what my new website will look like.

meal plans

I was excited about what he created and it only cost me $100! What do you think?

Yesterday I reached out to about a half dozen programmers to get quotes to create a custom Thesis 2 WordPress theme for my website. I have gotten back two quotes so far. I am waiting on the rest of the quotes.

When I get the quotes back I will have 2 options. First option would be to select one of the quotes and hire them to create me a custom Thesis 2 theme or create it myself. I will have time to work on it myself during the 2-3 weeks the programmer is working on my map website.

That gives me the potential to have two new websites that can provide additional streams of income up and running in the first quarter of 2014.


If you read my resource guide, you know that I listen to podcasts during my daily commute. I decided that I would like to create my own podcast.

Here are some possible formats I have considered for my podcast.

1) Interview online marketers to see what method(s) they used to make money online. My goal was to interview 5 people a week or 20 per month. At the end of the month I would ask all 20 people that I interviewed to contribute a product or service of theirs to a bundle. I would then sell that bundle for a set price of $97 for just a 3 day window. This podcast would provide insights to the many different avenues that are available for making money online.

2) Interview successful entrepreneurs that have started their own business that are either under the age of 30 or over the age of 50. The goal is to show that it is never too late or too young to start making your dreams come true.

3) Interview travel experts or ex-pats that have retired early and living overseas. How did they travel the world and what was it like to up and move to another country.

Which podcast idea do you like?

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Last night I purchased Podcaster’s Paradise finally. Unfortunately with my schedule I will not be able to start listening to the videos any time soon.

Next Step

Right now I am in a holding pattern while I wait to hear back from TopTal. If their revised plan looks good then I will start them on the project. If not then I will pick one of the programmers from elance or odesk.

Starting this week weekend I will start learning Thesis 2. I will work on creating my own custom wordpress theme that mirrors the graphic my co-worker created for me.

Over the Christmas holiday I will start consuming all of the videos found in Podcaster’s Paradise. Hopefully I will have a very good idea of what I need to do to get my podcast started after listening to the videos.

The first quarter of 2014 will be a busy one for me. I am excited about getting 2 new website up and running and starting my first podcast.

Let me know if you have any exciting plans that you are working on right now. Just post up what you are working on in the comments below.


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by Jennifer Bland

I am an Entrepreneur. Mountain Climber. Neil Diamond fanatic. World traveler. MBA grad. Soon to be permanently retired from the ratrace. My website is a diary of strategies that I have used to make money online. I share what I have learned to help others.

5 comments… add one
  1. I really like your meal planner site idea. In the niche I am in, I had thought I might do a shopping guide to one of our leading supermarkets and all that the person on my list would have to do is place an online order by uploading a list, and the next weeks meal ingredients would be home delivered at a time to suit. This would be giving the user added time saving and adding value to the process. Just a thought.

    1. Darryl,

      That is a great idea for an online application. I stumbled across a website that had a google maps api feature built in that you could access for your app. With their api you can write an app that showed all the nearest grocery stores (gyms/tailors/cleaners/restaurants) in your area. I think it is a great idea.


  2. Hey Jennifer, I enjoyed reading about your various projects as well as the process you are involved in with regards to implementing and the planning stages for them. I could relate well to the idea of trying to follow one idea until you get it working but often finding that life doesn’t always work that way…and how different those ideas can be from one another… I will be interested to see how these ideas progress. 😉

    1. Crystal,

      Trying to focus on one task until completion is a challenge for me. I have so many great ideas that I want to implement which leads me to jump around too much. Looking forward to having these project pan out to greatness in 2014.


  3. This looks great! Good luck on your goals! Thanks for sharing.


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