Screenshot of an email that says Dear David - I hardly know how to thank you. It's true - we've been calculating how long we can remain online without ad revenue coming in. This will be extremely helpful. And we'll get back to paying you once again as quickly as possible

Do what you can for your community, your friends, and yourself

Covid-19 has clearly become the most important event of the year, and will have long-term effects that we can’t even see yet. One thing that I have noticed positively is the number of people who are stepping up to help their communities.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I could do to help, and have asked a few people for advice. I figured it’d be worth sharing some general ideas. Not because they are extraordinarily groundbreaking things that you couldn’t figure out for yourself, but because sometimes hearing someone else can strengthen what you already know.

Offer services to local businesses in need

There are a lot of businesses that are struggling right now. Some have already laid off their employees or shut down.

There have been calls for everyone to order dinner out from their favorite local restaurants. I agree that supporting businesses that you want to see stay around is valuable, but not all of those businesses are equipped to handle an online ordering, delivery or pickup only reality. Some don’t have websites at all, let alone ways to take orders online.

There is a group in Orlando that put together the website Save Orlando Bars, which is intended to collect donations for bars that they can then distribute to staff who are unable to serve and get tips. This is a great start that required comparably little direct action on behalf of the organizers. They did design and build a site, which is exactly in their wheelhouse.

If you want to do more, contact your favorite restaurant and see if they need some support for their site. If they offer delivery, they may not be showcasing it prominently. If they have a way to order online it may need help. Or even just updating a menu and their hours, making it easier for potential customers to support them financially as their walk-in business plummets.

Give breaks to your long term clients

I’ve lost two clients due to layoffs over the past two weeks.

One of my clients did not dismiss me, though their business is based almost entirely around live events that have been postponed or canceled for the foreseeable future. Simply put, they’re paying to manage a site that is mainly providing the information that everything is closed.

This is one of my oldest maintenance clients, and they’ve paid me for years of work supporting their site through FixUpFox. They had me place some info on the site about cancellations due to the pandemic, and mentioned that it was going to be challenging with ad revenue drying up.

I realized this week that I was spending too much time complaining about how other businesses were handling their customers, and not doing anything for mine. I paused this client’s billing and sent them an email letting them know that I would be keeping it off for a few months, but the services provided would not change.

Screenshot of an email that says Dear David - I hardly know how to thank you. It's true - we've been calculating how long we can remain online without ad revenue coming in. This will be extremely helpful. And we'll get back to paying you once again as quickly as possible
A screenshot of an email from my client.

It’s already been a difficult month, but this is a sacrifice that I am able and willing to make. I’ve reduced rates for some other clients as well, letting them know that it was temporary and specifically to help and to thank them for their years of support. They could have chosen countless other providers, but they trusted me with their business, and I don’t take that trust lightly.

Make yourself available for questions

I’ve spent over a decade working with WordPress and two decades on web development in general. I’ve been involved in community building for as long, and I have been working from home for years. Plus, I run my own businesses. When it comes to advice, I may not have the best, but I have a lot of it.

I have made an open call to chat with people via DM and a few other chat/voice services that I use for anyone that needs to talk. This includes if someone just wants to talk about life in general and have someone to vent to or commiserate with. The same goes for you: leave a comment on this post or contact me on Twitter @DavidWolfpaw, through Mastodon @david@tech.lgbt, or through other means that you may have and we’ll make time to talk.

Be there for your friends and listen

Related to the above: I have been proactively reaching out to friends online to see how they are doing. This has been a reminder that not everyone is in the same position that you are, and that challenges exist outside of your view. It’s easy to become complacent and think that your problems are everyone else’s. Being able to communicate with people all over the world and see how they’re coping can help you adjust, as well as let them connect.

I check in on quite a few friends daily and some others at least weekly to see how they’re doing. Most important, I try to let them do most of the talking and empathize in places where I cannot sympathize directly. I love when people ask me how I’m doing and check in, since it lets me know that they are thinking of me. If I can do the same, I feel that I should.

Remember to help yourself, so that you can help others

You can’t be there for everyone else if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Drink enough water. Get some regular exercise. Journal. Eat something healthy.

Whatever it is that helps keep you doing well, ensure that it doesn’t stop in this time of confusion and panic. You’ll better help your friends and community if you are helping yourself first.

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