Judith Kallos: White glove WordPress support

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Been there, done that

Judith Kallos runs The IStudio, a support and consulting service specifically for WordPress websites. You can find Judith on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where are you based?

I’ve been “doing online” since 1995. I’m an accomplished, good-humored, surprisingly non-geeky WordPress consultant and business coach who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Even after 25 years.

I have my own projects, write for GoDaddy’s blog and help extraordinary entrepreneurs to embrace WordPress and the online arena for all it can be.

I opened the first “Internet Studio” in a sleepy town on the Illinois-Wisconsin border in 1995 and have been doing business online ever since. Back then I was known as the “crazy Internet lady.” Waaay ahead of my time!

Fifteen years ago we decided to leave the rat race, high taxes and traffic that came with living up north and moved off the grid. I now live the simple life in Mississippi with some acreage on a lake out in the middle of “nowhereville” (seriously). Couldn’t do that without the internet!

What’s the elevator pitch for your business? Describe what you do.

I’ve been successfully crafting websites and running online businesses longer than most and have gone through all the challenges technology throws at anyone who wants to participate. I can say with confidence that I’ve “been there, done that” with most things online. The frustrating and fun alike.

Besides managing my own handful of websites, I help sole-proprietors use technology to its full potential by offering my White Glove Support. I take each client’s success personally and they can count on me to bring a sense of reality, excitement and vision to their online program. I also provide pep talks and reality checks when needed.

For small businesses to thrive, many times that means contradicting all that “fast, cheap & easy” noise that is so prevalent online and ends up just wasting their time and hard-earned dollars.

What inspired you to start your business? How did you get started?

When I first got CompuServe with that goofy 4800 baud modem sound, I was hooked. I just knew this technology would change business as we knew it. I saw a diamond in the rough and dove right in.

Most folks weren’t ready to embrace this new technology. Early on many thought the internet was just a bastion of credit card fraud and adult entertainment. But that didn’t stop me.

At that time a domain, a server and a little HTML and CGI was all you needed to put up an effective “web site.” Now, “websites” are much more complicated not just in code but in site-owner required skills and responsibilities.

Through all this, I evolved. As needed and many times ahead of the curve. I’ve always followed my gut and it has served me well.

Who’s your ideal client?

Small business owners that are willing to learn, invest as necessary, embrace the possibilities and work harder than they ever have before on their online program. If they can answer with a resounding “Yes!” to the following questions, we’ll get along just fine:

  •     Are you brave enough to push through frustration?
  •     Do you choose your website services based on quality first?
  •     Can you fearlessly embrace new concepts?
  •     Will you carve out time to learn new skills?
  •     Can you welcome constructive criticism?

I let folks know up front that I run sort of a business boot camp. That means I’ll push them to reach their potential and hold them accountable. If that scares them, then, I’m probably not their gal.

What kind of projects do you like working on?

Because of the dramatic shift in required client engagement, I am no longer building new WordPress websites (except for myself, of course). Instead I put a laser focus on supporting those who have established WordPress websites. Not only as a WordPress consultant but an online business manager and coach.

This provides my clients the unique opportunity to be exposed to a comprehensive list of skills, strategies and methodologies necessary to experience ROI.

What kind of projects do you not like working on?

Custom websites from scratch. No longer something that is fun for me. I’d rather assist those who already have WordPress websites with the necessary best practices to help grow their online footprint.

What are the most common problems you help your clients with?

Embracing how to use WordPress properly, with performance, security, SEO and branding in mind. Then understanding the elbow grease required to get exposure.

Walk us through your project process from start to finish.

When I first started out, I tried to be everything to everyone. As I evolved with technology, it became clear that for the level of customer service and support I knew sole-props and small business owners would need, that I could no longer follow that path.

So I specialized. Not only for the good of my business, but just as much for the benefit of my clients. I specialized in my niche (sole-props and small biz) as well as the type of clients I know can benefit from and would appreciate the uncommon skillset, knowledge and support that I have to offer. This creates a win-win for both sides.

I have a solid screening process that I use to determine if those who solicit my services will be a right fit for my style of support. My “style” is one based in reality and what is needed to reach a client’s stated goals. That means I expect them to invest accordingly. Not just in money but in the time and the knowledge acquisition necessary to reach those goals. That’s where my coaching comes into play to support, encourage and guide each client personally.

After project details are shared, if I feel I can really be of service, I’ll schedule a video-con to chat so we can get to know each other. From that point each project’s process caters specifically to that particular project and the client’s needs.

And due to the nature of online business, the hard work is never finished.

What advice do you have for folks who are trying to take their business online?

Don’t cut corners. Do your due diligence and map out the necessary expenses based on what you want to accomplish. Then be realistic about what you can do well yourself. If you feel like a fish out of water, find a partner that you can trust to fill in the gaps.

What advice do you have for folks who are thinking about starting their own business?

Do your homework. Start by asking yourself how your venture will compete against the established websites already doing the same. And be brutally honest in your assessment.

Then, create your plan. It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal, but the more details that you can nail down the better. This includes finding a niche that you can do better or differently. Without niche,  you are really nothing special.

Selling the same stuff that millions of established websites are already selling makes it hard to stand out. Without offering anything unique or of greater value (story, service, personality, member perks, niche focus) you will have an uphill battle.

Anything else you’d like to share or promote?

One of my hobbies is collecting quotes. Here’s the one that, to me, really spells out what is required to succeed in the online arena:

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” ~ Mario Andretti


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Art Martori thinks words are like chess pieces. While checkers might be more appropriate for the analogy, he’s aided by years of professional writing experience via mediums including content strategy, journalism and fiction. When he’s not typing on a keyboard, find Art strumming the 12-bar blues.