In this new podcast series, Gin will be interviewing some of our very own WP Elevation members and finding out about what lead their business to success. It is going to be an inspiring series, so make sure you listen in!
This week Gin speaks to Christina Hawkins from GlobalSpex. Christina has been a member of WP Elevation for a long time and is now a community mentor. She has amazing knowledge and experience and in this podcast, she shares some pertinent advice on client communication, starting out in WordPress and a building a company.
Christina started off working in the Defence Department as a management analyst, so her job entailed a lot of technology. She then got married to a marine, so that trajectory changed for her as they needed to move around for his work.
Christina got a job in tech support at a bank and whilst she was working there she got to know some of the programmers who told her about Homestead. This caught her interest and so, in 1997 she built her first website.
She then decided to make websites and although she didn’t have any experience, not many people did at the time. She loved it and knew she could do it from anywhere and so she founded GlobalSpex in 1999. She now has four virtual contractors based in Argentina, India and the two in the US.
Christina’s customers are typically in engineering, energy and healthcare. Her “thing” is problem-solving, so she attracts those types of customers who have that analytical brain and appreciates analysis and research. She would never call herself a web-designer – she is a problem solver and a consultant.
Christina wrote a great blog post for WP Elevation because she got so fed up with people telling her that her services are too expensive when they could create something cheaper and more easily with Squarespace or Wix. The blog explains that it’s not about the website, it is about the right colours, the right codes, the right things to say in the right place. Check out the link to this post in the link section below – it’s a great one.
So how does Christina have that ‘client fee’ conversation with potential clients? She doesn’t tell them why her services are more expensive, she takes them down the path by asking them questions. Such as, “What kind of shipping are you going to have?” “How are you going to measure that?” “What’s your merchant?” Most of these questions are things that they have never thought about and have no idea. They realise that this isn’t their thing, there is a lot involved and usually, they won’t want to deal with it.
For a long time, Christina didn’t value her own skills and wasn’t compensated for it. When she became a WP Elevation member, it helped her to stand up for herself and to stop undervaluing her services. She changed the prices of her care plans which increased her recurring revenue.
When you’re starting out it’s hard to charge more but each person has to find what makes them special. It will take a little while to figure out what you’re really good at, but once you do you can then get compensated for that.
When the customer comes back and gives you good feedback it helps your confidence. You’re always going to have doubts and everyone has imposter syndrome no matter how skilled they are, but you need to keep learning the tools, researching, and tweaking along the way.
As you grow and expand you can start outsourcing the things that you don’t like doing. You’re going to have trial and errors to find the right person and it is never going to be perfect. Christina says that she has been through many contractors and has refined the trial process more and more each time and you work out the type of people that you work best with too.
Her advice is, to be honest with the contractor and tell them how you work, what your processes are and ask if they can work this way. Try not to feel bad if it isn’t working out and remember that it is business, gently tell them it isn’t working and move on.
Christina is a mum with a husband who works long hours, so she is juggling a lot and sometimes things get missed. However, she has gotten better because she has built so many systems and processes to minimise those panic moments. She has templates and checklists to help with the overwhelm.
Christina uses TeamWork which she says has been invaluable to help keep a track of what everyone in the team is doing. She also uses Process Street, email templates in Google drive, and is currently building an intranet so that all of the tools are in the one place. They track the milestones of a project so that they can get back to the client and tell them that they won’t make the deadline if they don’t get the content to them by a particular date.
GlobalSpex has an onboarding process for customers with emails that go out, an initial meeting and then weekly phone calls.
Christina documents everything so if they come to her with a change that is beyond the scope, she puts that in an email. It needs to be in writing because they forget or they don’t realise that they’re breaking the scope.
Christina has a 16 and a 10-year-old and a husband that works a lot, so how does she balance it all? She says that she doesn’t balance it! There are days when she needs to be with the kids and days when she needs to work. They are quite independent and wash their clothes and do the dishes which helps. They take vacations together and she can go with them anytime and work anywhere. She doesn’t believe in balance, there is no such thing!
There is so much change going on in the area of digital marketing so Christina is trying to pull away from custom design websites. She is trying to look at the bigger picture of generating revenue for the customer. She doesn’t want to separate PPC, email marketing and SEO; they are part of the whole package to get more customers.
Christina says that you need to find the right contractors and the right customers who also understand that. They come in with their own viewpoint of what they need, so you need to educate them.
At a local meetup recently a young guy who had just got into WordPress attended. His first question was “How do I make money?”
Christina’s advice was this:
Christina’s tools that she can’t live without are:
Start winning better projects with bigger budgets now.