This week, we had the chance to interview one interesting customer from our Everything Club. Richard Hughes has been a Joomlashack customer since 2011. He has been running gingerweb.co.uk and building websites for clients since 2004.
In this blog post, you will learn:
- How banter with a work colleague led Richard to the launch of his Joomla business.
- One rock-solid marketing technique Richard has been using to consistently find Joomla clients.
- The goal Richard aims to achieve in every Joomla project.
- His three super tips for anyone starting a Joomla website building business.
Congratulations on your business gingerweb.co.uk. Why "ginger" in the name?
I am 4 years retired after 30 years as a Police Officer and I am ginger! Back in 2004, a colleague remarked on something I had set up for him in his new business: "Rich, you really are the ginger web man!" I registered the domain the same day and the "Gingerweb" was born.
I looked at your Twitter account. You seem to be a husband-and-wife business?
Yes we are.
It started with me just fixing things for colleagues and now Lucie runs our social media accounts and does all our invoicing. I couldn't come close to doing it all myself now.
I deal with anything IT but if at all possible try to keep this to websites and hosting.
We run our business from a home office which is great for avoiding the traffic and fortunately has meant we have been able to continue pretty much as normal during the pandemic crisis.
In your first year in the Joomla business, did you always gain clients via networking or did you use some other marketing strategies?
Word of mouth has been everything to us, yes.
Work colleagues were the initial source of business and then I was asked to rebuild my golf club website. That also went really well and all of a sudden there was another big group of clients who were the golf club members.
It was around this time I fell for Joomla, having quickly realized that you can't hand over a Dreamweaver built website to a customer who knows nothing about how it was created and expect them to keep it up to date.
Joomla is perfect for the technophobe. Genuinely anyone can adjust an article or a module once they are shown how to.
What is your end goal when you gain a client? Is it to build them a site and let them take care of it on their own?
My end goal really is to build a new site and give the new owner full control.
Most people really like that too. A huge amount of my custom comes from people who haven't been happy with a previous "web guy" because they can't get hold of them or they are too slow etc, so efficiency and reliability are my watchwords!
I don't really want to employ anyone and I do the website work myself. So it works best for me that way as I am always working on 5 to 10 new build most of the time.
I have an all-inclusive annual hosting fee that covers hosting/SSL/email/software updates etc and as we run our own dedicated server. It benefits me to keep everything as up to date as I can for security purposes.
I also don't charge for simple quick jobs which clients definitely like. Creating a new page and a menu link in Joomla takes all of 1 minute and I hear of people being charged £25 for this. That is how to send your clients to me!
What would be your three most important suggestions to anyone starting a Joomla web site building business today?
- Be prepared to work all hours. This is not hard if you can work from home. Many small businesses which are my bread and butter, are "second income" businesses, run by busy people who will really appreciate you replying to issues during evenings and weekends.
- Don't skimp on your hosting. SEO matters, everyone wants their website to be number 1 on Google and many can't understand why it isn't as soon as it is turned on! If you use cheap foreign hosting your website will wallow around the depths of Google with all the Wix sites!
- Keep it simple, transparent, and be 100% honest. We have gained huge experience over the years of how to run and how not to run your website and I’m happy to listen to ideas and give an honest opinion. I won’t always be right but I will always be honest!
- I'm adding number 4 because Lucie says you also need to go out and play golf at least twice a week to get out of her hair!
Of all of your Joomla projects, is one most memorable?
To be honest I can't really single out one job above all the others. Every new live site is very important to its owner and I get a buzz from watching the new sites I build ranking much better on Google than the old one.
I usually enjoy a site if it is a bit different. I have one almost ready to go live that has a drone intro video which I think looks awesome.
I have mentioned the golf club and that is a big part of my life. Their site is now on its 4th build by me and I am adding to it all the time.
I just added a live Google sheet to a page on it using the really clever OSEmbed Pro and even something as simple as that gave me a buzz!
The recent lockdown has meant all our e-commerce shops have been doing really well and hopefully these businesses will be able to maintain the momentum.
These are often new businesses and it is great to see them flourish and even better to get nice reviews from their owners. Shops always bring an extra challenge but the results are worth it.
Your portfolio is very diverse. Did you ever consider or will you ever consider narrowing down your marketing to a specific niche?
Not really, no.
I enjoy the diverse subjects that all our websites cover. I am currently doing a website for a Travel Agency, something I haven't done before. I look forward to getting more information for this one because it is very visual and there are so many opportunities with Joomla to show off imagery well.
As I have said before, we have a few golf-related websites. I always enjoy getting my teeth into these and from my previous life there are quite a few police-related sites, with another one coming in recently which will be fun to work on. Variety is the spice of life!
We don't really do any marketing, to be honest. There isn't a shortage of new business but we do like to help promote our new business clients to try to give them a head start. Social media is really good for this, and of course, can be free or very cheap if you can make your posts interesting enough to get them shared.
You've been a Joomlashack customer for more than nine years. What is your impression of Joomlashack?
Joomlashack is definitely a 10. I had used the Joomla templates for a while and one or two of the extensions. When I saw an offer for the Everything Club membership, I grabbed it and I am glad I did. I understand the company has changed hands during my membership so I was very relieved to see that my deal had been honored by the new owners.
The Pro extensions are now very much one of my "go-to" pages when I need to do something I have never done before. I also rely on the SEO tools and analytics plugin for every new site. The documentation is well written with no language issues which can be a common problem elsewhere. I very rarely have to use the support option. When I did a week or so ago the reply was almost instant and I realized I hadn't read the instructions properly!!
Do you have an exit strategy? Any plan for when you stop building websites?
Interestingly we were talking about our business exit strategy recently. My two boys have no interest in the business so the plan is in perhaps around 5 years to sell Gingerweb on in one form or another.
It has been part of our life for a long time though, and many of our customers have become good friends. So that will be a very considered option ensuring that our customers are not unduly affected and would always get a great service.
It would be perfect to one day find someone with a similar ethos to us. Someone who doesn't mind helping out the customer who can't remember their Joomla login on a Sunday evening or the one that has accidentally deleted their email account from their phone the day before they go on holiday!
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