5 Tips I Wish I Shared During My Mixergy Interview

My interview with @Mixergy is live. Check it out here: https://mixergy.com/interviews/stranger-studios-with-jason-coleman/

It's great. We cover 15 years of business.

I like getting tactical on podcasts. I know Andrew likes it too. I missed some spots. So here are 5 tips I wish I shared during the interview.

🧵👇

1) During recessions, get close to the money.

I talk a bit about what business was like in 2008. Besides some personal struggles, 2008 was also a time when individuals and businesses were clamping down on spending. So what can you do if you are freelancing through that?

Get close to the money. People will be cutting spending on things that seem superfluous, but any tools, service, or consulting that ties directly to the company's bottom line will be the last to go.

This was part of what encouraged us to focus on membership sites.

I remember some clients we built websites for, even friendly clients (maybe family members ;), saying to me "The website is nice, but it didn't really bring us business."

!!!

We weren't tracking it. The membership sites we helped launched had reporting built in showing $$$.

2) When going up against established competition, don't compete with them head on. Focus your marketing efforts on features and in spaces they aren't addressing.

There were already a couple established membership plugins for WP when PMPro launched.

Making PMPro free and open source was a decision that has lead to better software (what I go into in the interview), but it was also a Judo move to circumvent the competition at the time that was relatively expensive and not OSS.

We didn't waste money to compete with their Google or Facebook ad spend.

We didn't try to recreate the affiliate networks they had already set up.

We focused on becoming the best free membership plugin available on the http://wp.org repository.

3) Speaking of focus. Focus on one project at a time.

When I told Andrew about the frustrations of dealing with 3rd parties changing their APIs when trying to grow WineLog, he asked "Do you have to deal with that kind of thing with PMPro?"

Yes! We do. What's different? Focus.

When Google removed wine from their shopping results, it was the final nail in the coffin for WineLog, as we had just spent months building technology on top of those results.

We didn't have the energy, time, or desire to pivot and try something new.

In business, things are going to fail sometimes. What do you do when you have a set back?

If you have other active projects, you can turn to them for what seems like easier progress.

But if you only have one project to focus on, you HAVE to make it work…

… and you will do what what's needed to try again.

Stopping work on WineLog, InvestorGeeks, and the other side projects we had back around 2010, gave us the time and attention needed to make PMPro a success.

In 2015, we made 80% of our income from making membership sites for others.

When we made the switch from consulting to 100% products-based revenue, we turned down $90k in new work over 3 months to focus on a PMPro relaunch.

The relaunched PMPro 4x'd revenue immediately. Focus.

4) Our Auto-Renewal Checkbox Add On caught Andrew's attention while he scanned our site during the interview.

https://www.paidmembershipspro.com/add-ons/auto-renewal-checkbox-membership-checkout/

I glossed over that one to talk about other add ons, but ARC is pretty cool. The idea behind it is insightful even if you don't use PMPro.

On some sites, customers will purchase a recurring subscription and then CANCEL RIGHT AWAY.

They maybe want access to something right away, but don't really see the benefit in extending membership another month or year.

Auto-Renewal Checkbox tries to address these customers.

ARC gives customers an option at checkout to pay just a one time fee for a membership that expires or to lock into a recurring subscription.

You see this kind of UI all the time when donating online.

However, if you notice this pattern on your site, you should try some things.

Why do your customers only want to pay you one time? Figure that out.

Think about how you could create a separate 1-time-payment product. Maybe your subscription is giving TOO MUCH value, and you should break part of it off into a separate product.

People are really focused on getting recurring revenue on their site. It is nice, but you can find yourself shoehorning what's basically a one-time purchase into a subscription product. Don't force it.

I talk more about timing and pricing here:

5) Finally, I missed a chance to talk about the value of disconnecting.

I said it was easier to step away from work in a products company vs a services company.

Andrew said, "Yeah? What's the longest you stepped away?" Maybe hoping for a great sabbatical story, but I had none.

The longest I've stepped away is 1 or 2 weeks, but I'm definitely able to REALLY get away and disconnect 100% when I go on vacation now. And that is HUGE.

*Every single time* I step away from the day to day of my business for a week, I come back with ideas that grow our business at least 10-20%.

I'd say 4 days in the minimum to really get away. Shoot for 7. More could be better.

If you haven't done that in a while, work it out.

Those are 5 tactical tips that I wish I shared during the interview. You get them for free here on Twitter and my blog. 😀

If you can, watch the interview anyway. Like it on the site. Ask a comment there. It really helps to show Andrew you're listening.

Originally tweeted by Jason Coleman (@jason_coleman) on November 9, 2020.

What I Learned During the Mixergy Pre-interview

When I am a guest on someone else’s podcast, I try my best to deliver value to the podcast’s audience. I want them to learn something from the stories I’m telling. For the first time the other day I realized that *I* learn from these interviews too.

This week I did a pre-interview with Arie Desormeaux for the Mixergy podcast. Arie and Andrew have been doing this a while and ask questions that are effective at pulling useful tidbits out of the entrepreneurs they interview. While chatting with Arie, even though I was telling stories I’ve told numerous times before, I had a couple big realizations that I hadn’t thought of before.

These things might come up in the full public interview, and when that happens, I will share a link for y’all to get the full story. But for now, I’ll share the 2 tidbits I hadn’t realized before doing the pre-interview.

(1) In 2008, our son Isaac was born with medical complications that kept him in the hospital for 2 weeks and kept us from working for 2-3 months. Isaac is fine and healthy now, but it was a scary time for us as new parents. We were freelancing at the time and unable to work to bring in money, while also spending somewhere around $15,000 on unexpected medical expenses. (Thank god for the insurance we had and the ACA for allowing us to later get better insurance for our son with pre-existing conditions.)

This moment in our lives was important and pivotal for numerous reasons, but I just realized the other day during the pre-interview, that these months after Isaac were born are part of what motivated Kim and I to move away from consulting into products. We wanted enough money to be able to weather situations like this, and we wanted a business we could step away from for 3 months without risking our financial safety.

(2) We also talked a bit about WineLog during the chat. Arie asked what was the struggle we had with WineLog, and I mentioned how we had a string of issues where crucial technology and business partners made updates and pivots that made it harder for us to monetize our traffic.

For example, at one time Amazon announced they would start selling wine on their site. We spent a lot of time writing code to integrate with Amazon’s APIs. Then Amazon changed their mind and stopped selling wine, making all of that work useless. Similar changes at Google, Facebook, Apple, and others threw us off at different points.

Anyway, during the pre-interview Arie asked if we ever had the same issue with Paid Memberships Pro. At first, I thought no, but in reality we still deal with constantly changing technologies, APIs, and business partners. We have many weeks and months even, where we are doing development we aren’t always expecting, working to fix integration with tech partners. Why are we better able to deal with those things now? One reason is that we are fully focused on Paid Memberships Pro and can spend the time needed to work on these things. Being open source helps as well, allowing other developers to help us with these things. But there are likely other things we’re doing better this time around. Arie’s question really prompted me to think about it.

I’m looking forward to the full interview. I’ve been a Mixergy fan for years. I’m excited to share some of my story and some of the things I’ve learned in business over the past 15 years or so. But I’m also excited to talk with talented interviewers that can probe me so much that even I learn something during the chat.

If you are interested, watch this interview between Andrew and Arie going into the pre-interview process they use at Mixergy. And stay tuned to the Mixergy podcast for my interview whenever it comes out.

How much money can you make during a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale?

How much can you make during a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale?

Here are our numbers from last year. We made an extra $20,855 over 10 days.

For comparison, we made just about $20,000 total over the previous 10 days, including renewals. All told, revenue is about 2x normal when running a sale.

Can anyone else out there share numbers from their own BFCM sales last year? Hit me up on twitter @jason_coleman.

BTW, this report is from our plugin Sitewide Sales.

You can run awesome BFCM sales like us, with reports like these when using @pmproplugin or @WooCommerce.

We also had a "Pre Black Friday Sale" Oct last year… to promote the Sitewide Sales plugin when it was just an addon for PMPro and our other content around BFCM. To give customers time to setup their sales and move some of those Nov sales to Oct to even things out.

Originally tweeted by Jason Coleman (@jason_coleman) on October 20, 2020.

More info on how much you can make during BFCM in a post by Kim at the Stranger Studios blog.

Lehigh WP Meetup Demo: Paid Memberships Pro

What is Paid Memberships Pro?

What is The Real Jason Coleman?

  • My personal web blog. Updates whenever.

The Plan

  1. Install PMPro
  2. Create a free and paid level.
  3. Create a category for paid content.
  4. Setup Stripe.
  5. Bonus: Install PMPro-Mail-Chimp.

Questions

(Jason will post some questions here after the presentation.)

Do these things!

Follow me on Twitter (@jason_coleman)

Checkout Paid Memberships Pro in the WordPress repositoryin GitHub, and at PaidMembershipsPro.com.

PMPro Business Update

I wanted to post an update on our Paid Memberships Pro business. In the style of other “transparency reports”, I will share real numbers for our business. I will also share some of my current goals and planning for the business.

Business is Growing

  • $3,000,000 in all time sales.
  • $810,000 in revenue in 2019, a 23% growth over 2018 sales.
  • Active on over 80,000 sites. We had about 4000 paying customers last year.

What About Profit?

Kim and I are the only 2 owners of the company. We also work roughly full time in the business.

Of that $67k/mo we made in 2019, the expenses broke down like this:

  • $50k for salaries and benefits, including for Kim and myself.
  • $5k for travel and marketing, a big retreat, going to and sponsoring WordCamps.
  • $3k for credit card fees and affiliate payments
  • $2k for server and other IT costs.
  • $7k of profit. (A nice portion of this was distributed as a bonus in December.)

Our Team is Growing

  • Went from 8 employees to 10 in 2019. (We hired 2 more in Q1 2020, for a total of 11 full time employees and one part time employee.)
  • We had our first full team retreat in September 2019. All but one of our employees was able to come to our home (and a nearby AirBnB) to spend a week getting to know each other better and planning for the future. Five of us hit up WordCamp NYC the weekend before and really made a presence there in our Nugget shirts. Good times bar hopping and eating pizza and ramen in NYC.

Product Developments in 2019

  • We launched PMPro v2.0, with a newly designed dashboard and support for Gutenberg and the REST API
  • We overhauled our proprietary customer support system used on the PMPro and Memberlite sites.
  • We ran a successful Spring Sale for PMPro and experimented with other sale formats in the fall.
  • We revealed Nugget, our PMPro mascot.
  • We released the Payfast Add-On for PMPro. Payfast is the payments processing service for South Africans and South African websites.
  • We launched PMPro v2.1, with SCA support for Stripe and native 8 decimal support for Bitcoin and other crypto currencies.
  • We finished the initial version of the Sitewide Sales plugin for WooCommerce, our first, non-PMPro ecommerce product.

Why write a transparency report?

Our primary goal as a business is to support the Paid Memberships Pro open source project. Our customers and partners will want to know that our business is sustainable and we will continue to maintain the project and provide quality support.

Many people will have ideas about how big our business is and how well we are doing. Some will think we’re bigger than we are and wonder why it takes so long to reply to support or push new features. Some will think we’re smaller than we are and wonder if we’ll be able to stay in business. If we share our real numbers, we won’t avoid criticism or concern, but at least these interactions will be based on facts.

I also want to help others looking to start a business like ours. By sharing our story, I hope others can learn what to expect when launching a WordPress plugin or a paid support plan around an open source project. These numbers are specific to our business and product, but they can be one more data point for someone deciding whether they should get into a business like this or keep pushing on a side project.

Hang in There

This is what $3,000,000 in sales looks like.

In 2012, one year after our launch, we were making little more than $1000 per month. I hear of so many projects at this stage of income, with the founders wondering if it’s worth it to continue working on the project or move on to something else.

When I hear someone taking a project to $1000 per month, I usually quip “That’s awesome. You’re halfway to $10,000 per month.”

I can only share our own experience, but it is as hard or harder going from $0 to $1000 than $1000 to $10,000. For Paid Memberships Pro, it took 2 years, 2010-2012, to get to $1000 per month. Two years after that, in 2014, we were making almost $10,000 per month. Two years after that, in 2016, we were making about $34,000 per month.

In 2019, we averaged $67,000 per month. If we can grow just a bit more than we did last year, we will cross the magical $1,000,000 per year milestone.

Targets and Budgets for 2020

We are targeting another year of 20% growth for PMPro, which would bring our average monthly revenue to $80k. With that in mind, we have hired 2 more developers to help with technical support and maintenance of the core plugin and Add Ons.

For the past few years, we’ve had this neat little cycle of reinvesting in PMPro that goes something like this:

  • Target a 20% annual growth in revenue.
  • Target a 20% profit margin.
  • Hire and invest in marketing such that we will break even if we match last year’s sales.
  • If we hit our growth targets, we will be on pace to earn 20% profit going forward.

Starting out with a breakeven budget, then growing 20% in revenue throughout the year, means that we typically end up banking about 10% of our total revenue, which has allowed us to save enough cash to build a comfortable cushion for the company. We could have been taking on debt to grow even faster, but this has been the right level of financial risk for Kim and I with this business.

What if we don’t hit our revenue target? Then we’ll have some hard decisions to make to cut costs or dip into cash or debt. If sales are flat or just growing more slowly, we can adjust our goals for the next year.

Onward

What are we working towards this year besides 20% revenue growth?

We’re looking to officially launch the Sitewide Sales plugin and along with it a generalized platform for us to release future non-PMPro products.

In Q1 of 2020, we implemented a new development planning and scheduling process based on the Shape Up book by Ryan Singer and the Basecamp team. It is going well so far. We will have a true feel for how this has improved things for us as we get through a few development cycles. “You should bid on that next cycle” has become the new “patches welcome” in our chats.

I’m hoping to pause at 12 employees working on PMPro, with a focus on scaling up the skills and effectiveness of the team we have vs hiring new people. This is about the size company I am comfortable with for now. I believe we will be able to figure out the natural boundaries and needs of this PMPro business and make it work with the team we have.

I’m freeing up some time and headspace to explore the various business opportunities related to PMPro and will consider pursuing those projects with smaller independent teams. Some other great companies in the WordPress space have spread out successfully this way. We can look to them as models and also figure out a version of that that works for us.

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I’m going to be writing about my thoughts, struggles, and results in business more often going forward. Join my mailing list to get my new posts direct to your inbox.

How I Sold My Bitcoin SV Coins

The last time I wrote about Bitcoin on the blog here was back in 2013. Bitcoin had just hit $1000 per BTC and I was still bullish.

Since then, Bitcoin has “forked” a number of times. Similar to open source software, if stake holders disagree about how to build out the Bitcoin software and platform, they can fork the platform and let the market decide which fork to support. It’s not a winner take all proposition either. There is room for multiple variants of cryptocurrency. The Coinbase blog has a good post on what forks are.

Wikipedia has a list of the larger Bitcoin forks. The biggest fork was the Bitcoin Cash fork on August 1, 2017. Bitcoin Cash itself forked on November 15, 2018 into Bitcoin Cash ABC and Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision).

I could talk about forks and the various pros and cons of each flavor of Bitcion, but for this post I’m going to focus on the technicalities of gaining access to the “new” Bitcoin SV coins and how I “sold” them.

If you hold your own Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, this fork thing is going to happen every once in a while, and you’ll need to spend some time to claim your “free money”. These are the steps I used to sell my BSV specifically, but the general outline would be used for claiming any fork. Just different software or exchanges might be involved.

Step 1: Own the private key or seed phrase.

To really “own” your Bitcoin, you need to own the private key for the wallet the Bitcoins are stored in. The actual private key is a 256-bit number. The more typical version you will interact with is the “seed phrase” that your wallet and private key were generated from. This will be 12 to 24 words that almost all wallet software will generate for you when setting up a new wallet.

If you store your coins in Coinbase or something similar, you may not “own” your private keys. This is actually not a terrible idea if you don’t trust yourself to keep your key safe and not forget it. In this case, Coinbase will wait until a new fork gets valuable or important enough to worry about and then split your coins for you and issue you an appropriate amount of coins on the new fork’s chain. They did this with Bitcoin Cash and later with Bitcoin SV. If you want to claim your forked coins earlier though, you’ll need to do it yourself.

My seed phrase then is basically the password needed to spend or move my Bitcoin. After a fork, the same exact seed phrase will work to spend coins on either blockchain.

So I could use my Bitcoin Cash seed phrase to “claim” my coins in Bitcoin SV and move those coins wherever I want. The problem with this is that I don’t necessarily trust the people behind Bitcoin SV or the wallet I would use. I am worried that using the “password” for my Bitcoin Cash wallet to spend my Bitcoin SV will allow someone else to steal my more valuable Bitcoin Cash coins.

So I tried to protect my Bitcoin Cash first.

Step 2: Create a new wallet for your old Bitcoin cash and send your coins there.

I used Electron Cash to create a new wallet. I then sent a test transaction from my old wallet to my new wallet, followed by a transaction to send all of my Bitcoin Cash into the new wallet.

I now have a different set of seed phrase words to access my Bitcoin Cash.

Step 3: Claim your Bitcoin SV using Bitcoin SV wallet software.

I chose to use the ElectrumSV wallet to access my BSV. ElectrumSV is an open source wallet, and while I didn’t compile from source or even double check the code myself for malware or back doors, being open source makes it less likely that this wallet is sending my keys back to a malicious third party.

Once I booted up ElectrumSV, I just chose the options to restore a wallet from my seed phrase and there my coins were.

Step 4: Move your Bitcoin SV into an exchange.

I’ve been investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for a while, but I’ve never really used an exchange outside of Coinbase. I’ve created accounts on a few exchanges, but mostly just tested the UI.

I read that the CoinEx exchange is pretty popular, especially for trading BSV, and so I setup an account there. I was surprised that I didn’t need to give too much personal information to start my account. I confirmed my email address, set up Googlel Authenticator, and then I was ready to go.

As a new user, I was able to withdraw up to $10,000 USD worth of assets per day. If you want to withdraw more, you need to verify more information or wait. The amount of BSV I had would only take a couple days to withdraw.

Step 5: Exchange your BSV for BCH or Bitcoin

CoinEx gave me an address to add BSV to my “assets” there. I sent a small test amount, which showed up after a few confirmations.

Step 6: Withdraw your BCH or Bitcoin from the exchange.

I then exchanged that BSV for BCH using the exchange. And then “withdrew” those BCH into my Coinbase account.

After the withdrawl went through (it took about an hour’s worth of confirmations), I moved all of my BSV into CoinEx, exchanged it, and withdrew it to Coinbase.

Step 7: Exchange your BCH or Bitcoin for cash on Coinbase.

You could technically withdraw cash from CoinEx, but since I’m comfortable with Coinbase, I moved my coins there to convert to USD.

In this case, I think I am going to hold onto the BCH for a bit. I also left some BCH in CoinEx to play around with. I’m trying to come up with a trading strategy to test there, but I’m mostly a longer term investor, so I’m struggling to come up with something.

Since I’ve sold my BSV, it has rallied $75 more dollars per coin, while Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash have stayed flat. I feel that BSV is a scam in some sense, but there might be some virtue to it. I’ve been out of the loop. I think there is some value in making a coin that is useful and good for consumers and users, but also good from a mining standpoint to get them more involved. Maybe BSV will do that better than BCH or BTC.

Bitcoin SV Wash Trading

Rick D. at BeInCrypto.com digs into a theory for the recent spikes in the Bitcoin SV price. Is it from a BSV miner mining BCH instead, selling that BCH, then “wash trading” BSV on exchanges which pumps the volume and price.

The original Twitter thread by @vinarmani can be found here.

It’s actually a pretty genius gambit with essentially no downside. He can actually use this tactic to keep BSV at basic parity with BCH.

@vinarmani on Twitter

Tesla Update. Two Key Lessons.

I took some profits in my Tesla ($TSLA) position yesterday for the first time in 7 years. Technically, this was my second time taking profits, but the last I rolled my profit into Solar City ($SCTY), which was acquired by Tesla a year later.

Tesla Model Y in Red

Tesla’s share price was up over 50% on the week and up over 100% since the beginning of the year. This after a decent 30%+ gain in 2019. To me, the last week of action was an obvious “short squeeze” situation, making it a good time to take profits.

Another thing on my mind was the fact that Tesla stock is now about 10% of our net worth (minus the value of our business) and about 20% of my stock holdings across all of my retirement and brokerage accounts. I’m not too too worried about this. As Warren Buffet once said “If you have LeBron James on your team, don’t take him out of the game just to make room for someone else. … It’s crazy to put money into your 20th choice rather than your first choice.” Tesla is the Lebron James of my investment accounts.

The final thing I was thinking about was numbers from my Simple Tesla Model. A few years ago, I put together a simple spreadsheet to calculate the potential revenue, earnings, and share price of Tesla stock based on the production estimates Elon Musk was putting out. This is the first lesson I wanted to reiterate in light of the action in Tesla stock this week.

Lesson 1: Don’t forget Main Street. Build Real World Models of How The Businesses Behind Your Stocks Make Money.

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and calculations of Wall Street. What’s a good PE ratio for a certain sector? This company has grown sales at 50% per year and could continue growing 50% per year for the next 5 years. This kind of math is useful for comparisons and valuations, but you want to make sure you take a step back and think about what that company looks like in the real world (Main Street) after growing revenues 50% for 5 years. Is that REALLY possible?

At the time I built my simple model spreadsheet for Tesla, there were many people talking about how a valuation in the tens of billions of dollars didn’t make sense for a company like Tesla. Traders who were short the stock talked about how Tesla could never make enough money to justify their share price. But when I put my spreadsheet together, I found that if Tesla could sell 500k cars, they’d likely make $28B in revenue, which would justify a stock price as high as $517. If Tesla only got halfway there, they’d be worth much more than the $200 or so they were trading at in 2016.

To calculate in the risk of bankruptcy or larger failure, you would want to discount the price targets of the model to account for this, but we were already assuming Tesla would only hit 50% of their target, never grow past that, and never make money off their other business lines.

I’ve updated this model a couple times, most recently today. The current tab indicates a future share price of $494 if Tesla can hit about 392k cars sold this year. This is BELOW the current price of $734. And so I am much more comfortable selling Tesla stock when it’s trading above the values my models are spitting out.

Again, while I’ve updated the model to account for energy sales and service revenue, it assumes no growth in car manufacturing or those other business lines. If you plug in different numbers for where you expect Tesla to be 5 years out, you’ll get different targets.

I was also reminded of another important investing lesson:

Lesson 2: Stock Prices Go Up Even When Companies are Not Yet Profitable

Many investors have shied away from investing in Tesla because they feared the company would never turn a profit and thus eventually run into cashflow problems. Not even eventually, Tesla’s investments into the Giga Factory and in general have required them to raise money through special stock sales a few times in the past. Each time this happens, the value of your Tesla stock is diluted.

If you wait for a high flying companies to turn a profit before investing, you might be waiting a long time and miss out on huge returns. Another big winner in my portfolios has been Amazon, who famously hit almost exactly $0 profit each year for most of its existence. Only recently have they been showing a profit, and I would guess Bezos and Amazon would invest more to avoid that profit if they had things to invest in. (Or I don’t know, maybe they think they need the cash now.)

In any case, if you waited for Amazon to turn a profit, you missed a large gain from a well run company that is changing the world. The same can be said for Tesla. So how do you invest with confidence in a company that makes no profit? Here’s what I do.

First, I focus on revenues. As long as revenue is growing or likely to grow from current investments, I feel the companies stock is likely to grow in value as well. I lean toward valuation calculations based on revenue.

Second, I think about whether the company will be able to switch their focus from revenue to profits when they want to later. Will Amazon or Netflix be able to raise their prices? Will Tesla be able to lower their production costs? I tend to give these companies the benefit of the doubt unless there are very obvious concerns about this. You can choose to focus on the negatives, like when Tesla was forced to build cars in tents in the parking lot. Or you can focus on the positives that will drive higher production speed and higher sales margins. Things like removing purchase options that slow down production and figuring out the right mix of automated and human-powered labor will improve Tesla’s bottom line.

With more and more people switching to electric cars, Tesla continuing to own the electric car market, Tesla ramping up production in its existing factories and planning on building even more factories, the Model Y coming out soon, and so much potential in their other products… Tesla is set to potentially become a very large company making a lot of money. Tesla stock has generated a lot of returns for its investors and has a grand enough vision to continue doing that. That said, while the stock is temporarily inflated from a short squeeze, I booked some profits. Tesla is still a large percentage of my investment accounts, and I will continue to try to add to my position if and when the stock’s price falls below my fair value calculations.

Some Thoughts on Montessori Schools

We have been happy with our Montessori school in Berks County PA. We plan to keep our kids there through 8th grade, which is as far as this particular school goes.

All Montessori Schools are a little different, so make sure you check out the particular school you are looking at. We’ve seen some that are too preppy and focused on grades (which aren’t even a Montessori thing), or just really small and quiet/depressing.

One of the main benefits is individualized learning. Each student goes at their own pace in each subject area. Smarter kids are given higher level work as they are ready for it. Kids struggling with particular subjects are given more time to get through it.

The individualized learning is also useful if you travel a lot during the school year. We can take our kids out for 1-4 weeks at any time, and when they come back, they just pick up where they left off. They haven’t missed Chapter 12 and won’t fall behind in their classes.

I think Montessori is particularly good for younger, pre-school aged children. They really teach a level of independence that other schools don’t. Montessori kids are using scissors, and getting their own food, and helping to clean up, and all of that kind of stuff a lot earlier than non-Montessori kids.

Depending on the school, children are in classrooms with older and younger kids. Our school has two pre-K/K classrooms, one 1-3 classroom, and 4-8 classroom. They also might have the same teachers year after year, which is good as the staff really gets to know your particular kids and their needs.

Some of the benefits taper off as the kids age. You probably want a PHD teaching your kids Physics in a more college-like setting. At the same time, Montessori is good for addressing the emotional needs of pre-teens and teenagers. It’s a relatively safer environment than typical public schools. I’ve found the Montessori staff more open to address the emotional growth of our children along with the academic growth.

If you are comparing a private Montessori school vs a public school, there is also just a huge difference when you are paying a private school. You are a customer and they will listen to you and generally do more for you to keep you as a customer. What might take an independent education plan (IEP) and 6 months of back and forth meetings in a public school, is usually just one meeting with a private school.