Kevin Abrams operates Digital Renegades, a web design agency based in Orlando, FL. Catch up with him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Given a business name is so central to a brand, we tend to put a lot of importance on it. How did you arrive at a name, and how do you feel about it now that you’ve been in business a while?
I had a lot of trouble coming up with a name. I really wanted something that showed we were different. I thought the newer .digital domains were unique and wanted to come up with a name that I could leverage that domain with.
It had been a few months that I was trying to come up with the complete name when one day I was listening to music, looking out the window, and the song “Renegades” by X Ambassadors came on. I thought, That’s it! That’s the word I’ve been looking for.
So I landed on Digital Renegades. Other people have told me it makes them think of having an army of digital experts on their side, so that’s a good correlation, I think. While I do still like our name, if I started over, I might choose something different. What’s more important to me than our name is the quality of our work and the customer experience.
With some brands, location is a key component. Is there anything about the place you live and work that’s shaped your own brand?
Everyone is presented with a set of unique opportunities, often they are the most difficult to identify as unique until you look back at them. I think what’s shaped us most has been the opportunities that we have been fortunate enough to have presented before us.
If anything, I will say that Florida is such a diverse population. It’s also one of the fastest-growing states in America. Though we work with clients all over the country, it has been fun to work with Florida-based companies that are focused on local industries, like tourism.
How would you describe your professional experience and background?
I had the opportunity to work for Apple for many years. Living and breathing that culture helped me identify simple and smart design as well showed me the unique perspective that diversity can provide. Additionally, I received a Masters Degree specializing in Mass Communication. This, combined with my experience in building hundreds of sites over the last 10 years, has helped me excel in this industry.
Could you describe the scope of your operation?
We handle all aspects of website creation from mockups to design and development to ongoing maintenance and care. Additionally, we often help with brand design and development for our clients. Other services include graphic design, copywriting, blogs, social media management, video production, and more. We’re also a Certified Google Partner, which allows us to manage and administer workspace accounts and Google Cloud Console accounts.
Another thing that makes us unique is that we provide white label services to other marketing agencies. Instead of viewing us as a competitor, they view us as an extension of their team, specializing in all things website. This has given us some great opportunities to continue to grow our business and not have to chase customers.
Some entrepreneurs describe an aha! moment, the instant they decided it was time to take things into their own hands. Could you describe any of those moments you’ve had?
I had been building websites on the side for some time when I was doing more research about the business side of the industry. I attended a Webinar featuring Troy Dean & Christina Romero. They talked about the Business of Web and specifically, the idea of offering ongoing maintenance for websites.
It was definitely an aha moment for me when they talked about not having to chase customers.
It tied in with a lot of what I had learned at Apple about the customer relationship and building a great ecosystem for your business.
For me, that was a pivotal moment that helped me learn how to grow my side business into my career. Within a week I reached out to six customers that I had built websites for, offering to do a subscription-based maintenance plan for them. Immediately, four out of six of them said yes. That’s when I realized that there was a need for this service, and it was a win win for both me and the customer.
What kind of projects do you prefer to work on?
It’s not really about the project for me; it’s about the customer. So my favorite customers to work with are ones that I feel like we can really help. When we’re building something and we’re implementing a new tool to upgrade their process. Whether it’s a web form or an automation process, those are the things I enjoy because I love to see the outcome for the customer. After all, your website is your greatest marketing tool, and that’s how we look at it.
Could you describe your typical client (if you have a typical client)?
My clients are typically those that want to be walked through the process with someone who has a full grasp of what’s happening from start to finish, so they can feel at ease and feel confident in what’s being developed. The best clients are those that trust the process.
Sometimes we’re in a position where it’s necessary to turn down projects. What do those situations look like for you, and how do you manage them?
Normally those situations are when the person is in a rush, doesn’t provide much detail as to what they’re looking for, and they are price-shopping, which I totally understand. I typically direct them to our website worksheet where they can fill out a form.
That becomes a great filter as to whether they will be a good fit for us.
If they’re not willing to take the time to fill out a fairly simple form, then they’re probably not a good fit for our agency. In those cases, I would email them letting them know that we may not be the right fit and can refer them to another agency that might be able to help them.
Could you describe a project that you feel exemplifies you at your best?
My team and I had the opportunity to build a site for a vacation rental company in Anna Maria Island, Florida. Prior to the site that I built for them (https://annamariaisland.rent/), they didn’t have a website at all. They were doing all of their bookings through VRBO so they were losing a significant percentage.
Now, thanks to their website, they have increased their bottom line significantly and they get tons of traffic and direct bookings.
Not only do we maintain their site for them to ensure things run smoothly, but we have also added new properties and pages to their site as they have grown. It really has been the best-case scenario of everything we can do for a client that trusts the process.
An obvious metric for measuring our own success is how much you got paid versus how much time it took. In your experience, what are the advantages and drawbacks here?
The advantage to this kind of measurement is that it causes you to clearly define how much your time is worth.
The downside of measuring success this way is that it doesn’t take into consideration the intangibles that you gained from the project. For example, the experience and knowledge you gained, as well as any level of fulfillment that it gave you. I try to look at projects holistically so that I consider all aspects.
Are there any resources (e.g. apps, processes) that you’d recommend to an up-and-comer?
The first one is definitely GoDaddy Pro. If you’re an up and comer, it makes it super easy to manage multiple sites. You don’t have to remember passwords to multiple sites, and it handles a number of basic services for you.
If you’re a solopreneur, the second resource I recommend is Todoist. It makes it easy for you to manage your tasks and priorities. If you’re working as a team, then I highly recommend ClickUp as your project management system. I have tried several different project management tools, and ClickUp has been my favorite by far.
Imagine you could travel back in a time machine to a point where you were like, Forget this. I’m done! What advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to not give up, for two reasons: because nothing easy is worth doing, and nothing worth doing is easy.
I would also remind myself that whatever issue I’m having, I got myself into that situation so I need to get myself out of it. That’s all you can do, that’s how you learn.
What’s your parting shot for people who want to be like you when they grow up?
I would say to invest in yourself and your people. If it’s just you, then find what you do well and get laser-focused on that in the long term, so that when you do get your team, you already have a process in place and you know where you can excel.
Do you have any feedback or comments to share about GoDaddy Pro?
Yes, as I mentioned before, GoDaddy Pro is a great tool for anyone, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for a while. It saves us a lot of time and energy managing multiple websites.
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