Tag: Remote Working

Remote working has many benefits, but also many challenges. Read our articles to find out about our own experience with running Wildheart Media as a remote business, and whether it could work for you.

Running a remote business part 4: Breaking down barriers

Berlin Wall Art

This post picks up where our Running a remote business blog series left off. It includes both my personal insights since the previous posts were published, and my notes from WordCamp Europe 2019 where I attended a talk on remote working by Human Made. If you’ve never been to WordCamp Europe then do check out Ehron’s post A first timer’s experience of WordCamp Europe Berlin 2019.

Gathering the team

In the ‘Running a remote business’ blog series I wrote about how Wildheart was born, growing a team of Wildhearts and how we productized our services to make it easier for customers to buy from us. During 2019 was also the first time we made a conscious effort to gather together as a team in one physical location. We decided to head to WordCamp Europe and spent a week together in Berlin attending the conference, exploring the city, and working of course!

The challenges of remote working

WordCamp Europe is hosted in a different European city each year and is very affordably priced for a two day conference. In Berlin one of my favourite talks was the remote working talk. A quick show of hands by the audience revealed that around 50% of the audience worked remotely and around 15% worked in their second language.

The talk focused on the social, emotional and even spiritual challenges of remote work, rather than the tools or practices of doing remote work. Here are a few tips from the talk:

Making the world smaller

Two key points were made here, as to how to keep the team connected by making your working world smaller:

  1. Take every opportunity to meet in person, and prioritise this.
  2. Use video calls, e.g. Zoom or Skype, and leave the video running.

The interesting thing about the first point is it’s actually an admission of the biggest weakness of working remotely: namely, that it’s hard to form deep team bonds from a distance. This is especially difficult when getting to know potential new team members. When we started working with Dan, the newest member of our team, we all met up for a week in Brighton and ended the week at the WordCamp Brighton conference. This was a great way to really get to know Dan and for him to get to know us.

We’ve also decided to get the team together at least once a year for a week around the time of WordCamp Europe, combining social, work and conference time. In 2020 we were planning to head to Porto, but due to a certain virus we’ll have to postpone that till 2021 now…

Making yourself bigger

The speaker offered the following tips for making yourself bigger:

  • Be always willing to change
  • Listen in order to hear, not to plan, i.e. don’t ‘endgame’
  • Ask questions
  • Speak and write in straightforward language
  • Slow down, simplify and pause

My takeaway for the points above is to stay curious about each other. I’m always interested in what’s going on with people on a more personal level, rather than staying purely task focused. It feels important to balance both the relational and transactional sides of our team work.

Embracing the differences

It’s important to embrace all the potential differences within your remote working team, so:

  • Recognise cultural events, heritage and rituals
  • Don’t be afraid to ask

While we don’t have a big, multicultural team at Wildheart, we are spread across 4 different cities in 3 different countries and there’s always something going on for all of us. If I don’t ask the questions, we’ll miss out on each others’ life changes, no matter how big or small. That’s why I have a short regular catch-up with all team members just to check-in, even if there are no external projects on the go. These informal catch-ups have been important to keep the lines of communication open and build our relationships.

Closing the gap

The idea of prioritising quality time together as a team has also got me thinking about how we can spend more quality time with our clients. I realised in November last year that most of our clients travel to Goa each year to teach on yoga workshops and retreats and it struck me that we should be there too!

So, in 2020 we’re planning to spend 6 weeks working in Goa. Instead of separating my work and personal life, I’ll be taking my 5-year-old son along too, and our team’s partners will also be welcome to join us. Of course, in the current climate, this may no longer be possible. Or, we may need to delay these plans until we can safely travel again – but that’s just the kind of flexibility we’re used to with remote working!

Find out more

If you’d like to read more about my experiences with remote working, check out the full series Running a remote business.

Running a remote business

A first-timer’s experience of WordCamp Europe — Berlin 2019

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know that Wildheart Media is a remote business. This is why WordCamp Europe 2019 was an extra special event for the Wildheart team. It was the first time that Guy Anderson, Hannah Moss and I (Ehron Ostendorf) all met in person.

As a first timer to WordCamp Europe, I highlight some of the talks and workshops we went to and give you some top takeaways from each. I give you my overall impressions on the event and also share my feelings about spending time with the Wildheart team at the end, so read on if you’re curious what each of us are like in ‘real life’.

What is WordCamp Europe?

WordCamp Europe is a yearly conference all about WordPress, a free open-source content management system (CMS) also referred to as a website hosting platform. Over 30% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress.

WordCamp Europe takes place in a different European city each year and this year, Berlin saw the largest number of attendees to date (about 3,000). In order to not have too many people crammed in one space, there were simultaneous conference slots throughout the day with topics ranging from content and SEO to design and coding. Below I highlight the conferences we went to as well as a workshop we attended.

The big, bad content planning workshop

On the first day of the conference (Friday 21st June), the Wildheart team participated in a workshop with limited space. I was the last person to get a spot for this workshop, so you can imagine how special I felt! Our workshop leader was Vassilena Valchanova (Vassy for short), a communications specialist from Bulgaria.

Highlights from this workshop

  • Learning tips for Facebook Insights and AdsManager
  • Studying Google Analytics
  • Gaining knowledge on new tools to use, such as:
  • Creating customer personas (which we’re also familiar with)
  • Great content ideas

Takeaways from this workshop

Through Facebook Insights, we walked through Vassy’s PowerPoint presentation and practised creating our audience based on location, age and sex, interests and other pages they liked. Google Analytics was similar, but it was interesting to learn the differences between the two.

We also took time to create customer personas so that when we write content we can aim it towards this type of potential customer.

The new tools Vassy shared with us were fascinating — Hotjar is a user feedback and behaviour analytics service that allows you to add different tools to your website, such as polls, a heatmap (to see where people go on your site), visitor recordings (which takes no personal info), and many other tools like surveys and feedback forms.

Hotjar Screenshot

AnswerThePublic is a great way to help you form content. I searched ‘yoga’ as an example. What’s fascinating is that you can see how certain searches are more popular than others, e.g. you can see that ‘yoga vs pilates’ has a much larger search volume than ‘yoga vs massage’, which can help you decide on topics for  your next blog post.

AnswerThePublic Screenshot

AnswerThePublic only gives you a few free searches per day, so you can also use Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. This is a less advanced tool and similar to AnswerThePublic, but you get unlimited searches.

SimilarWeb gives you the tools to research your competitors and see what keywords are working for them, how their website ranks and what brings people to their sites. SimilarWeb can also help identify trends to help with your SEO strategy and blog writing.

Matt Mullenweg

After lunch we saw Matt Mullenweg, a web developer, entrepreneur and most importantly co-founder of WordPress. He gave everyone a warm welcome and discussed the launch and upcoming changes to WordPress’s newest page builder, Gutenberg.

Matt Mullenweg WCEU 2019

Variable fonts: The future of web design

After Matt’s talk, I saw a conference on ‘Variable fonts: The future of web design’. The big takeaway from this talk was that using heavy text throughout your site (imagine if everything was in bold on your site) will actually make it load slower than if the text was thinner, i.e. Roboto ‘thin’ vs Roboto ‘black’.

Understanding what makes a website landing page convert

I ran to another building to catch the next talk, ‘Understanding what makes a website landing page convert’. This showed us how we need to create a customer persona and then take that persona on a journey through our site. For a yoga website, this would mean creating a landing page with text and specific pictures to reach a particular type of audience.

Semantic content in a block editing world

The next talk was on ‘Semantic content in a block editing world’ which focused on the WordPress Gutenberg plugin. The speaker discussed the need for websites to be more interactive and to keep the content structure distinct from its presentation. So, formatting our text to make it easier to read, not simply shoving all the content into one, large text block.

How better performing websites can help save the planet

On Saturday, we started the day off strong with a talk on ‘How better performing websites can help save the planet’. This taught us how the internet as a whole leaves a CO2 footprint larger than most countries. If that statistic got your attention, then keep an eye out for Hannah’s upcoming blog post that covers this talk in detail and gives you tips on how to reduce your own website’s carbon footprint.

Get things done! 7 tips to save time

I watched ‘Get things done! 7 tips to save time’, which mostly reminded me of processes I already follow and tools I use. The speaker mentioned using online organisational tools like Trello to keep track of your tasks, following a regular routine, and allowing yourself micro breaks to check your email, walk around and stretch, etc.

Copywriting tricks, techniques, and CTAs for bloggers and marketers to improve conversion rates

The last two talks were wonderful back-to-back content talks. The main takeaways from ‘Copywriting tricks, techniques, and CTAs for bloggers and marketers to improve conversion rates’ were: find a strong headline for your blog post (question, call to action, address concerns, etc.), and pair that with a striking image, because images and strong headlines will draw people in.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle — 7 ways to repurpose content and maximise your efforts

The takeaways from this talk about recycling content were:

  • Seasonal cleanups — taking an audit of all your blogs, updating posts, getting rid of irrelevant posts, etc.
  • Content splintering — chopping up content into smaller pieces to share on social media.
  • Content stacking — combining blog posts into larger pieces like an ebook.
  • Media swaps — taking blog posts and making a video out of them and vice versa.

My summary of WordCamp Europe 2019

The whole event was tiring, yet energising and invigorating. These talks and the whole conference gave me the tools, knowledge and confidence to take all the information and actually turn it into actionable goals. I think WordCamp is a very useful and well-organised event and I look forward to going again.

So, what’s the Wildheart team like?

I clearly saved the best for last. The team had a wonderful time visiting the sites of Berlin from walking the streets around the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) to taking a boat tour along the Spree river. I also had an amazing time at a shared co-working space called Space Shack where the team discussed the future of Wildheart and worked together on some projects.

But that’s just the surface stuff, I’d rather share something more authentic. Before I left for Berlin, I had a whole approach to the trip figured out. I was prepared to be professional and business-like, yet courteous and polite. We all have certain ways we think we should act around certain people, right? Although we did accomplish work and attend a professional event, I was immediately made welcome and within the day, our barriers melted away and we had deep, meaningful conversations. I had dinners and outings with Guy and Hannah and if I could explain the Wildheart dynamic, it would be as if we were friends, siblings, and coworkers to each other all at once.

This was highlighted further during the WordCamp after party, which was ‘80s themed — one of my favourite moments was dancing with my team, having fun and being able to be myself.

I’ve worked remotely before and I’ve had the opportunity of working for different kinds of people with many different temperaments. This has been nice ‘world experience’, but from my perspective, getting closer to those businesses wasn’t successful for me. So, I had grown to be more cautious and skeptical while I was at work.

Spending time with the Wildheart team was the first time I could legitimately say  that I felt part of a team — somewhere I belonged. As yogis, I’m sure you understand what I mean when I say that I’ve found a tribe that I vibe with, a place where I feel respected, where I can contribute something meaningful.

The Wildheart team also got to hang out with Russell Hrachovec from Make It Red, a design agency in London, and Nick Schäferhoff, a freelance blogger and online marketer based in Berlin. They both made great companions and we had a lot of fun together!

WCEU Berlin 80s After Party

Thanks for reading my in-depth overview of my WordCamp experience. If you’ve thought about getting more knowledge on improving your site and business, consider attending WordCamp Europe 2020 in Porto, Portugal — we’ll see you there!

Running a remote business part 3: How to productize your business

From a consultancy to packaged services

While running my first agency I read the insightful book Built to Sell. It’s about how to create a sellable design business and is a great, short read.

Wildheart started out as a consulting business and has changed into a ‘productized’ business to use Brian Casel’s own phrase from his online course called Productize. I’ve never done the course, but creating a systematic approach to delivering bundles of services called packages has been my mission for a few years.

Why productize?

The reason for this is that a consulting business is not scalable because it’s based on the in-depth knowledge of highly skilled individuals. If those individuals are not around, the expertise is lost and the work stops or at the very least the quality of work suffers as it’s picked up by someone else.

A productized business relies on deep knowledge, experience and expertise in order to package the consultant offering into repeatable steps. These steps can then be done by anyone with the right attention to detail and with minimal training. This standardises the quality of the work delivered regardless of who’s doing it – if the process is adhered to.

Handmade to assembly line

To use a manufacturing metaphor, in a consultancy business the consultant is a craftsman who uses their expertise to hand assemble a car. A productized business looks much like Ford’s assembly line to produce cars.

Making craftsmanship count

While I love the idea of the craftsman, and have spent 20 years honing my craft, I also value efficiency. I believe it’s more desirable to use this craftsmanship to design an awesome digital product assembly line rather than hand-crafting bespoke one-off products. That doesn’t mean that the results of our products aren’t bespoke or tailored to the client’s needs. Instead it means we add craftsmanship to both the process and the products.

Productize what’s important

I’ll be straight up with you and say that my first attempt to productize Wildheart was a complete flop. I spent a lot of time documenting and taking screenshots of how to set up servers and migrate websites – repetitive tasks that I had been doing for decades over and over again.

What I quickly and painfully learned is that these multi-step processes are surprisingly complicated when you break them down step by step. And are only part of a product or package. As a marketing agency we can’t sell a server set-up process to a client because it’s only one cog in the machine. The problem was my focus – I was zooming in too closely on only one part of a potential package.

Productize reloaded

The next attempt to productize Wildheart was more successful for two reasons:

  1. Firstly, and most importantly, because I didn’t attempt it on my own.
  2. Secondly, because we were focused on whole packages that could be delivered to customers.

We were focusing on packages or products that could actually be sold, which means we could quickly generate revenue from them.

We started by analysing the projects we had already delivered for clients and seeing where the logical breaks were, so that we could split them up into packages. Over several months, Hannah (our queen of content) and I created spreadsheets capturing all the tasks needed for each of our new content marketing packages. We also looked at what our customers needed but hadn’t bought.

We then began delivering these packages with both new and existing customers. We currently have 8 packages and most customers buy between 2-4 packages initially. Our most popular package is our SEO Package followed by our Website Updates Package. Interestingly, we still do consulting work for most of our existing clients, but new customers usually start by buying a fixed price package.

Consulting versus packages: what’s the difference?

The difference between consulting work and packages is that we charge by the hour for consulting work and invoice when the work is complete. Packages are a fixed price and paid for upfront or on a payment plan.

Packages and remote teams

Packages are essential when working in a remote team because they minimise the ‘what do we do now?’ conversations. From a sales perspective, we also have a matrix of clients with the packages they’ve bought, so we can quickly see what their next steps should be with Wildheart.

Tips for starting to productize your business

If you already run a business and you want to start productizing what you offer then the job is fairly straightforward. (But still a lot of work!)

Start by thinking about what you already deliver but perhaps haven’t been delivering in a standardised way. Pay special attention to things you find yourself doing over and over again. Where there’s repetition there’s likely to be an opportunity to standardise.

Create a spreadsheet of all the tasks you need to do and allocate time to each task. This will give you a package price.

Pitch your product

Pick an existing customer who you have a good relationship with and pitch them the idea of them buying a fixed price package. If they go for it then you’re off.

If they don’t go for your pitch, then you may have chosen the wrong thing to productize, or that specific client doesn’t need your product. Maybe it’s a timing thing: a good product is still useless to a client who’s not ready to make use of it. If your first pitch doesn’t go so well make sure you understand why it didn’t and pivot accordingly.

Either move on to another client who you think may be a better fit. Or, re-evaluate your product then repackage and re-pitch it to the same client or another existing client.

You may not want to offer your package prices upfront on your website, as you may need to refine the tasks that make up a package. Our experience has shown us that we’ve needed to deliver each package several times to dial in the process and assess profitability. There were things missing that we needed to add in, which we only learned through the actual delivering of the packages.

For us this has been an 18 month process! But it could be a lot simpler and quicker to dial in if you only offer 1 or 2 packages.

One-off versus monthly packages

One-off packages are easier to sell as they’re a smaller investment for the client, both financially and time-wise.

But recurring monthly packages are a good fit for a client who is serious about their content marketing.

Most of our packages are one-off investments, but we also offer recurring monthly packages for clients looking to grow their audience and business using regular content marketing.

Drop us an email if you’re interested in productizing your business. We’d love to hear from you!

Contact us

Read the other posts in this series

Go back to Blog series: Running a remote business to read the other posts in this series.

Running a remote business part 2: Growing a team of Wildhearts

A great business is made up of a combination of good people, knowledge and processes that can be repeated consistently.

But business is mainly about relationships – good relationships are profitable in many ways, and bad ones aren’t.

We spend so much of our lives working that it makes sense to surround yourself with people you love and respect. I can’t imagine spending 50 years of my life surrounded by people I could hardly tolerate or who I find downright annoying. But this is not conventional wisdom. And I notice a strong tendency for people to live different lives: a work life and a private life. Personally, I have a much more integrated approach and I’ve built Wildheart around my own interests with people I admire and respect.

This isn’t for everyone of course – many people do only want a transactional relationship, but they simply aren’t going to be working with or for Wildheart. This also means that growth is slow because finding clients who are a good fit takes time. What takes even longer is finding good people to work with who share our integrated approach and also value their freedom and accountability.

Finding good people

Over the years I’ve noticed that the best workers are doing it for themselves. The paycheck is important, sure, but that’s not the main reason why we do what we do here at Wildheart. By agency standards we charge very competitive rates and when you take into account that we’re experts in our niche of yoga and wellbeing, it makes for a very powerful combination.

In my experience good people need three things:

  1. Challenge – they need to be stretched to their limits, be faced with challenges outside their comfort zone and be always open to learning.
  2. Respect – they need the freedom to choose their own hours and working location.
  3. Reward – those who put money first won;t be working at Wildheart. But of course everyone needs enough money to live a good life.

The paradox of employment

Companies need loyalty and they buy this loyalty by employing staff. Often employees are then treated as if they are owned by the company and have to do whatever the company needs, regardless of their skills.

People, on the other hand, need a stable income and they get this by selling most of their time to companies. But it’s an uncomfortable deal and it never lasts. If it does it’s often the individual that pays a heavy price in terms of health and wellbeing.

Employees gain more power by acquiring more knowledge and experience and small companies can really suffer when an experienced team member moves on. Most small consulting firms are built around the skills of the principle.

In the case of Wildheart that’s me, Guy the founder, with over 20 years’ experience learning and growing, making mistakes and having some successes along the way.

Freelancers: feast vs. famine

Historically, freelance consultants are normally those who have acquired enough skill, knowledge and confidence to break out on their own and offer their services to companies at a premium rate. This can suit both parties because there are much lower costs to the business to do this. But if you’re building a knowledge business then it can be tempting to use freelancers and never build the knowledge in-house, which puts the company at unacceptable risk.

The big challenge for freelancers of course is to find enough regular work. I’ve been a freelancer myself before running two agencies, so I’ve experienced both feast and famine. It can be hard not belonging or being part of a team, and can also feel quite isolating, although the rise of co-working spaces in recent years has helped in this area.

The other big problem that companies face using freelancers, besides not retaining knowledge, is the lack of loyalty. Freelancers are normally good at delivering a project, but then they move on. It’s the nature of the work. But companies are built on being able to deliver high quality work consistently.

Working remotely

Finding people who are a good fit both as clients and as part of the team is the most important task. Finding the right tools to get the work done and share information follows. Tools should never take priority over people. The wrong person using the right tools is never the right person for the job.

Never has remote working been easier! And there are so many choices when it comes to collaborative tools – which can also be a bit overwhelming. We’re always experimenting with new tools and here’s what we’ve settled on for the moment.

Free consultation

At the front-end, or sales side, of the business we designed a simple but effective process when people book a free consultation with us. This is an email automation sequence and a short questionnaire that allows us to get all the information we need to assess the suitability of the application. We discuss each application internally before responding with an invite to a free video consultation over Skype, Zoom or Google Hangout.

Each free consultation has a standard format and lasts around 45 minutes. The majority of our customers are located in other cities or countries so this meet-and-greet is a very important step in building our relationship. Video is the next best thing to meeting in person because it allows us to get cues of body language, facial expressions and tone of voice.

One of the neat features of Zoom is that you can record video calls so that team members who aren’t on the call can review – we use this feature in conjunction with shared Google Docs to capture notes.

Our favourite tools

We often send new customers handy guides like our Guide to Yoga Photography after a free consultation. To send large files we use the free WeTransfer service.

If a customer signs up to one or more of our packages they also get an invoice and we always recommend they use Transferwise to make bank payments. It’s fast and offers better exchange rates than standard bank transfers.

We run all our calendars and email through GSuite and we use Trello as an organisational tool, both internally and with clients.

All our files are created in Google Docs and Google Sheets and shared across Google Drive. For our design tools we use Creative Cloud, mainly Illustrator and Photoshop.

Close collaboration

We don’t follow the ‘always on’ model internally when we work, so we don’t use any chat tools like Slack or WhatsApp. At Wildheart we don’t like checking and replying to instant chat messages all day long.

Instead we have lots of collaborative work sessions where we’ll often work together on projects whilst on a video call. We even work like this with some of our customers. But this only works if the customer is very comfortable with the collaboration tools.

It can be an intense but powerful way of working because there’s no need to send emails and wait for responses. You can also stay on a single project longer, rather than hopping from project to project, kicking the can along doing superficial tasks.

This kind of close collaboration takes 100% focus and energy but it’s really satisfying and productive. Of course, we don’t do this all the time but balance it with periods of uninterrupted solo deep work where we don’t check our emails.

What tools are you using?

Don’t miss the final post in this series, How to productize your business. We’ll be diving into how we transformed Wildheart by switching our services into standard packages with fixed prices – yes, our prices are listed on our packages page.

We did this in order to move away from the consultancy model, which relies on the knowledge and skill of the principle. Offering packages allows us to train the team and standardise the delivery of our services. But the results are anything but standard, as you’ll see from our new case studies section.

Read our case studies

In the next post, How to productize your business, I unpack how we’ve organised our services into packages so that they can be delivered to a high standard of quality with minimal training.

Go back to Blog series: Running a remote business.

Running a remote business part 1: How Wildheart was born

Wildheart was founded in Brighton, UK, in 2014 and 6 months later I found myself in India, a place I’d always dreamed of visiting. After 7 months I moved to Stockholm to start a family.

Fast forward to December 2018 and I’m a full-time single dad still running Wildheart from my Stockholm office. And I’m happy to say that 2018 has been our best year ever, both in terms of growth and profitability.

Let’s rewind – where did it all begin?

I’ve always been into technology: I grew up on a diet of Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, Knight Rider, Star Trek, Star Wars, Tron, ET, Back to the Future, Robocop, Blade Runner, Alien and the Terminator. Blade Runner is still my favourite film and I must have seen it over 20 times now!

I’ve always understood that technology is shaping our world and that the line between man and machine would eventually disappear. Have you seen this demo of Google Assistant – where a Google AI makes appointments at both a hairdresser and a restaurant? It’s quite something!

I started my career in the 1990s as a web designer. I made the move from Cape Town where I grew up, to London, and then down to Brighton where I lived for 11 years, before finally settling in Stockholm.

The missing link

I noticed that designing and building websites was becoming commodified with the rise of web standards and open-source software. I also realised that building websites was not going to be the problem that needed solving for very long.

Over the years as a web designer I poured a lot of energy, passion and expertise into designing and building websites that no-one ever saw. My clients were happy with my work but their businesses weren’t growing through their websites. Most business websites were nothing more than expensive online brochures back then.

There was something missing; it was marketing. How do people even find you?

Remember, I started designing websites before the iPhone, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and even Google! I realised the problem that needed solving was how to be found. And 20 years later this is more true than ever.

Corporate vs creative: a collision of two worlds

In 2006 I started my first marketing agency and eventually took on two business partners. My partners had decades of traditional business experience and I learned loads from them. In fact, the lessons I learned in this real-life business school still help me to keep Wildheart on track today.

Like many in business, my ex-business partners were obsessed with growth. The idea is that growth is almost the only thing that matters. This is a fundamental core principle of modern capitalism and global economy.

Their approach to growth was all about pounding the pavement and pressing the flesh (an English metaphor for shaking hands!) – building relationships with individuals in person.

The problem with this approach is it’s both expensive and time-consuming. You can only be in one place at a time. It’s also not what a digital business owner should be focusing on. There are other ways to grow which I’ll get to later in this series.

Having physical offices with the right addresses was also important for them. It was important to them to have their staff on location under the watchful eye of their managers. They invested heavily in all the infrastructure and management needed to make this a reality.

They created a high pressure and competitive environment for themselves and their staff. They employed a lot of staff and had a high churn rate, meaning staff came and went – often. This meant they also had high recruitment and training costs, as their management team constantly had to replace staff and train the new recruits.

A high churn rate also affects the quality of work you’re able to deliver. This is not always true and depends on the sector you work in – but in digital, which relies on teams of highly skilled individuals collaborating well, it’s a train wreck.

The shift from web design to marketing

By 2006 WordPress was gaining popularity and I’d shifted design and development exclusively to this platform. But WordPress is just a tool and while today it powers around 32% of all websites on the world wide web, it’s only one part of the business marketing puzzle that each business has to solve in its own way to find success.

One of the problems with running a web design agency is that when the website is built, the relationship ends and you have to look for a new project. As a generalist rather than a specialist, I’d been working with email marketing and social media since my early days of building WordPress websites back in 2006. So, offering marketing services was not a huge leap for me; it felt like the natural next step.

Growing the team, but at what cost?

With the fancy office provided by my business partners came the expensive team of full-time employees.

In order to make full-time employment palatable to creatives the salaries are high – because being told what to do is not an easy compromise for creatives to make! The high salaries mean high costs to the employers. Both parties are also locked in with a notice period and the law protects full-time employees (as it should) from being let go without proper cause. But for a small business with variable income, the high fixed costs of offices and full-time staff can be a real weight around the neck.

With a team of 6 full-time staff and fancy offices in central Brighton, I felt the weight of those costs around my neck every month when it came to pay day. Without a recurring revenue model of repeat business that’s a lot of pressure on one neck!

We had started to move towards monthly retainers with some clients and this helped ease the pressure, but a lot of our work was still pure consultancy. This is time intensive and requires lots of expert knowledge.

As one door closes, another opens…

By now you might be wondering how and why I got myself into all of this?! Well, it wasn’t as clear then as it is now. A lot of it came down to lack of business experience and confidence on my part. Of course, it takes courage to run your own business but it takes a different type of courage to run it on your own terms using a method that your business partners don’t understand or believe in.

And this is how I came to shut down a growing agency and part ways with my business partners.

And out of all this experience Wildheart Media was born.

What’s next?

In the next post of this mini-series, I share my experiences into what I’ve learned so far from running a remote business.

And if you want to find out more about how we can put all this experience to good use for your own business, why not book a free consultation?

Book a free consultation

Go back to Blog series: Running a remote business.