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Marceel E. Marchena Posts

Am I Wasting Time?

Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, a thought hit me.

Am I wasting time?

Am I living paycheck to paycheck and wasting away my life grinding for numbers in my bank account?

The answer is yes. Yes I am.

Even though I love what I do and enjoy coming up with new ideas to improve productivity…at the end of the day, I go home to an empty bedroom.

I sit down, eat my “bachelor” dinner, scroll my Facebook feed, and go to bed.

*If you are not familiar with a bachelor dinner, you probably never had it. Think fast and simple food. Like frozen meals, burritos, or my favorite: Top Ramen noodles.

This work grind process is repeated Monday through Friday. 5 Days a week, every week.

Day after day until you finally notice that 2 months, 3 months, 1 year, and then 5 years have passed.

You don’t WANT to waste your time grinding to support your lifestyle. But you have to.

You enjoy the perks of living in a capitalist society.

You enjoy the perks of having extra money to spend on yourself or someone else.

You enjoy the perks of living a better life.

You enjoy the new car you can afford.

You enjoy the new iPhones, expensive concerts, and nice clothes you can buy.

The short term benefits are amazing.

But it still keeps you up at night.

Is your time really worth it?

Will you wake up 10 years from now and look back on what you accomplished?

Just something to think about…

Web Robots Are Dumb But Still Smarter Than You

I have a love-hate relationship with web robots.

When programmed correctly, these robots save me hours and hours of time doing simple web tasks…such as copying and pasting data into a spreadsheet.

However, when not programmed correctly, they can literally COST YOU hours and hours of your time.

For example,

I created a simple web scrapper that copy and pastes data from a vendor website into a spreadsheet for importing.

It basically looks up key data I need, filters it, removes extra styling tags and images, and pastes the raw data into a spreadsheet.

When this robot is setup properly, I can populate a spreadsheet with 500 products in a matter of minutes. These products can then be directly uploaded to a website and be live and ready to go in minutes.

However, these bots didn’t always work this well for me.

In the beginning, this scrapper actually cost me more time cleaning up data than it did actually saved.

The web robot would scrape data from the vendors site and populate its spreadsheet (as it was designed to do).

However, after 10 minutes of running I would check the data it had gathered and noticed the data was full of random html tags, empty info, and had formatting issues that had to be cleaned up.

This scrapper gathered most of the information I needed, but the formatting was all over the place.

Data wasn’t in its right cells, descriptions were taking up multiple cells, and some categories were missing.

It took me hours to clean up this sheet and prep it for import.

I think I could have saved more time by doing the whole job myself manually.

But either way, I respect the bot for doing exactly as it was told. I just wish it would pause and ask me to fix errors before continuing to make the same error AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.

Awkward Conversations with Clients

Have you ever had an awkward conversation with a client?

Of course you have.

But why do you think it was awkward?

Was it because you just sent over a long email discussing a sensitive topic? (Because you were too ‘afraid’ to discuss details on the phone)

Was it because you had a direct demand and didn’t want to have that weird moment between delivery of the message and the response to the demand?

Or was it because you are simply too nice to this client and don’t want to discuss tough issues with them directly?

Either way, it’s tough to avoid these situations.

After going back and forth between calendar invites and text messages a call time is finally setup.

You constantly keep this time in the back of your head.

It haunts you while you are working.

It haunts you while you are trying to sleep.

It stays on your mind all the way up to the time you need to make the phone call.

You’ve prepared.

You’re ready to answer all of their questions.

You’re ready to discuss the hard topics.

And you finally dial their number…

They answer.

You both have the usual small talk and share slightly fake laughs before that awkward silence comes up and you know it’s time to get down to business.

The conversation ends up goes well.

Sometimes.

Other times it causes you to show your true emotion and curse to the gods in your mind.

But you never actually say what you’re thinking right?

At the end of the call… you think “It’s easier than I thought.”

The client was understanding.

You are relieved and can’t wonder why you were panicking so much in the first place.

These conversations are so difficult to have, yet so easy once you actually have them.

Still the anxiety that comes with these awkward conversations is something we’d all love to avoid.

Just Bought a Scarlett 2i2 for Audio Work

Today, I made the first step towards taking my music production to the next level.

I bought my first audio interface.

I bought a pre-owned Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface from a guy on the Let Go app.

After toggling back in forth whether I’d actually meet this guy and buy this interface (which I ironically had no idea how to use), I decided to pull the trigger and actually do it.

After work, I headed over to his place in DTLA.

I thought it was creepy he gave me his address, gate code, and building number…but I didn’t ask any questions. He had great reviews on the app and he seemed trustworthy based on that first impression.

I finally met Jon.

He was a friendly home engineer who DJ’d on the weekends.

He explained how to use the interface, told me a little about his new business, and we made our transaction.

I left and headed back home to try out this new baby.

Right now I don’t have any instrument or mics to connected to it, so it’s literally a stand-alone piece of hardware that I’m using for my DAW and headphones.

And I have to say…

It’s already worth every penny.

I was able to adjust one of mixes immediately.

I moved through the sound spectrum and adjusted levels with ease using the master control knobs.

Since the interface isn’t really supplying sound to my headphones, maybe the interface was just providing a placebo effect.

Who knows?

All I do know is… I have one of the three pieces I need to finish up my collection.

All I need now is a nice condenser microphone and a portable recorder.

I like to mix audio in my free time.

It keeps me sane.

It helps me relax from my long work week and gives me a chance to relieve stress by listening to music.

I guess normal people call it a hobby.

End a Work Agreement with Honest Feedback

Today I had to say goodbye to one of my longtime business partners.

The reason: Conflict of Interests

For a couple of months now I noticed getting any work done with this business partner was impossible.

Workflows were all over the place and I felt out of the loop for most of the important decisions in regards to my role.

I was supposedly in charge of marketing.

Yet I wasn’t involved in any of the key marketing decisions.

The higher ups would consult with me after decisions were made and just assumed I would agree with the arrangements being made for the company.

I didn’t agree with everything. I saw flaws.

I have experience with failure and voiced my opinions often.

Yet they never took my concerns seriously.

I had my own opinions for growth.

I had ideas.

I provided advice,

Yet,

It was never taken seriously.

If you have ever given someone advice (based on past experiences), you know this feeling.

The feeling of not being taken seriously.

The feeling of not being heard.

The feeling of embarrassment when you want to say “I told you so.”

It’s not a good feeling.

It can tear down relationships. Fast.

And if you work with a business partner that views you only as a worker and not an equal team member, you should consider leaving that company too.

But anyways,

I identified that this partner would not be a good fit for me and wanted out of our agreement.

I could have easily just walked away and said “screw you guys, I’m out!”

But that’s not my style.

I’m very systematic and always provide feedback on everything, so nothing changed in this situation.

I wrote a 500 word email to my business partner explaining exactly why the agreement was not working out.

I told the truth.

I felt management was not making team based decisions.

I felt management was not listening to ideas and building on employee skills.

I felt there wasn’t really any cooperation outside of the CEO.

I noticed the CEO would take up the majority of meeting times talking about their accomplishments and their outlook of the company. Whenever a team member made a comment or suggestion, it was just overlooked and sent into the “let’s look into it” category.

I noticed a lot of spur of the moment mistakes and errors being made with online web management and made comments about it early on…yet it was never taken seriously.

It was overlooked.

So I wrote this long email explaining what my thoughts were about the company and why I couldn’t continue working with them.

I told the truth, provided my honest feedback, and left.

It was hard saying goodbye after years working with this partner, but at the end of the day, it probably saved me many headaches.

I hope that organization gets it together.

Or maybe I’m just the odd one out ✌🏼

Issues Exporting Images in Photoshop

Q: When I export Photoshop files they don’t work.

I get an Error when I export bulk images in photoshop
An error pops up when I try to export images.
My PSD files are not generating when I export
Error when I Export Data Sets as Files

A: The issue is probably with the product CSV.

Quick Fix:
Select image link
CMD + K (Create/Edit the link)
Find the Image
Change all files to have the same path type

Do you have the right image path? Screenshot of Product CSV
Do you have the right image path? Screenshot of Product CSV

Import Products into WooCommerce Without Pulling Out Your Hair

Today I had a seemingly easy job of importing products into WordPress using a CSV.

The site I was working on had WooCommerce and a couple of premium plugins already installed, so I assumed the best.

Little did I know, I would run into trouble cross referencing import data with actual product data.

Here’s the story:

I was sent 2 CVS wth product data filled out. Product name, price, description, and image reference links were all included in the data. Everything looked good to go, so I merged data from both these sheets into one single import sheet using Excel.

I prepped the column headers using the documentation from WooCommerce, but noticed some of the headers in the import sheet weren’t listed in the WooDocumentation (Slug, MSRP, and Brand Name). So I just added custom attribute headers and saved the workbook as a CSV.

To import the data, I preferred to use the WooCoomerce add-on “Product Im/Ex” (I recently used the plugin on a large SEO overhaul). I used Im/Ex to MERGE already created product data.

Since I was now adding new products, the process was a little different, but the UI/UX looked the same.

I selected the sheet I wanted to import. I mapped the header columns for import and set any unmapped headers as custom attribute mappings.

I ran the import.

This import sheet only contained 26 products, but for some reason, the importer only found 4 and each has errors.

To sum it up, it did not work.

At this point I began scratching my head and started to move around columns in my CSV.

Maybe the title had to be first.

Maybe any unmapped headers had to be removed.

Maybe the plugin doesn’t work with new products.

I made various changes and tried 7 variations of the sheet before it all worked as planned.

THE ISSUE: Microsoft Excel Formatting.

Apparently the sheet I was sent had formatting issues. This could have happened directly from the person sending me the sheet, or via my Mac’s Excel app. Who knows?

I copy and pasted the data into a Google Spreadsheet and pulled the sheet back down as a CSV.

Once I imported this CSV, all of the column headers were picked up as usual and all 26 products were imported successfully as drafts.

HOWEVER,

Each of these products appeared as FREE products and had long ugly URL slugs. They also didn’t have the MSRP price that was on the Spreadsheet and I once again was left scratching my head.

Basically I had to remove all “$” symbols from the price signs and reimport the sheet in order for the process to appear correctly. But instead of importing as new products, I had to merge these products using the SKU (You can only merge products with a product/post ID or SKU number with the WP All Import plugin).

After merging this sheet again, all of the products looked great. Each was categorized correctly, had updated prices, product pictures, and descriptions. Now I just need to find a way to import the MSRP price and update the product slugs.

After 20 minutes of trial and error imports using the product Im/Ex plugin, I noticed it wasn’t getting the job done.

In order to merge custom fields data, I was going to need to use my favorite import plugin: WP All Import.

I fired this bad boy up, mapped the custom data, made sure to choose UPDATE ONLY THE SELECTED DATA options and reached the final step before discovering another problem.

In order to merge that data, I would need the product/post IDs.

*Note- I am using the free version of the plugin. There is a paid WooCommerce add-on that probably makes this process easier.

In order to find the product IDs, I needed to filter out the products I just imported from all 4000+ on the site.

So I opened up Store Export plugin (I have the premium version which allows me to export Brands, MSRP, and other Custom Field options, like SEO data)

Using the filtering options on Store Export, I was able to filter out:

1. all products from the specific brands I just imported

2. All products with a published status of DRAFT

This exported maybe 31 products, that included the product ID and all of the attributes that were linked to that product.

I was able to remove the extra products (I didn’t need) and save this export sheet for the next step in my product import chain.

Using the data from this product export, I created a new row on my original import sheet called “ID.”

I used a simple VLookup formula that searched for the product’s name, and generated the corresponding Product ID number.

Once everything was good to go, I saved this workbook as a CSV and went back to WP All Import.

In the import settings, I updated my selected sheet and kept the previous slug and (MSRP) custom field mappings I previously set up. Made sure that UPDATE THIS DATA ONLY option was selected and ran the import. All 26 products were successfully updated.

I took a look at the new drafts,

And BAM!

All the data from the original import sheet was now migrated over as products and my work was done.

This process took me about 1.5 hours to complete and was my first time running into the error.

I probably could’ve saved time by purchasing the WP Import WooCommerce Add-On Plugin, but the good ol’ fashion way never hurts.

Taking a Break from Work to Discuss Superstition

Do you believe in superstitions?

I don’t.

But as I take a break from making website mockups in Photoshop, I took a second look at a text that made me reconsider.

While watching the Sunday Morning Football game, I saw old man running back Darren Sproles on the field getting playing time. He just ran for an 11 yard gain.

I went on a rant explaining how I couldn’t believe he was still in the league. He’s been around FOR YEARS and is very undersized for his position.

Minutes after this rant, he got injured on a run play. I’ve never seen him injured before.

Today I just found out he has a fully torn ACL and a broken arm.

At his age, that basically is a career ending injury.

That’s horrible.

Is it a coincidence that he got hurt minutes after this rant?

I don’t believe in superstitions, but this is the closest I’ll ever be to a believer.

Now back to these art boards.

Freelancers Need to Ask For Tips

Why do freelancers need to ask for tips?

Because they’re already underpaid.

I compiled data on the freelancing website Fiverr, by using a template response every time I delivered an order.

Before this experiment,

I delivered an order

Said thank you to the buyer, left a review, and maybe followed up with them for more work.

Never asked for tips, but sometimes received them. Maybe 1 out of every 30 orders.

Not bad.

Then working on my own projects I ordered from a freelancer that used a very GREAT response when delivering their order.

They basically asked me to leave a tip by “buying them a coffee.”

I laughed when I saw this.

Probably because I’m a tech guy and find great ideas comical.

But yes I laughed at this…at first.

Then I tipped the freelancer.

The tipped the freelancer an extra $10 on a $50 order.

Why?

Because she asked for it.

And

Delivered great work.

I thought this passive way of asking for a tip was genius, so I decided to try it out on every order I delivered.

I modified the delivery “template” to suit my orders and started to use that phrase on every delivery.

Now, I have a 65% chance of being tipped after every order. And these tips have already doubled the amount of revenue I receive on Fiverr.

Not bad for a couple of words.

Don’t Stop Searching for Answers

There are two ways to quench your thirst:

1) With a cold bottle of water

2) With Knowledge

I constantly find myself forgetting about my own (food and water) needs in order to learn more information.

When you are curious about something, you will search Google from top to bottom to find an answer.

You will spend hours upon hours scrolling through forum boards,

searching for key terms on blog posts,

and watching YouTube explanation videos until you finally find your solution.

If you can’t find an answer to your question, this curiosity will probably stay on your mind for the rest of the day.

Most people will forget and move on, but a select few will continue to pursue an answer and even be the first to write about the solution.

I want to be that guy.

The one that finds answers to difficult questions and provides easy to understand solutions.