Kristina Romero is a serial entrepreneur and former actress from Columbia, Md. She runs her own web development business, KR Media & Designs (KRMD). She’s also a coach at WP Elevation, the world’s largest business community for WordPress consultants, and a partner with RockStar Empires, an online course that teaches others how to create their own online courses.
What inspired you to start KR Media & Designs?
I started a successful acting career at age 17. By 20, I had already been nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards. But when I met my husband, I quickly saw that I wanted a more secure, predictable skill and found a match in website development.
Once we started talking about having a family, I stepped it up and formed my own website development business in September 2009 so I could live the dream of working from home and making my own hours.
I began working for some startups and entrepreneurs as their personal webmaster. Once I learned my skills (on their dime), I set out to do it full-time, opening myself up to project work with multiple clients.
The obstacle that always topped the list was setting boundaries and being a better boss to myself. I started out saying “yes” to every job and every client. I would go over time and not address it as “scope creep.” I would uncharge and undervalue myself. I would work weekends and late nights.
The realization that all these challenges in my business were from myself sparked a need for change, and it took setting boundaries and positive habits to overcome them.
How did you identify your niche in the market?
My niche was initially anyone and everyone who came my way!
Over time, I found there were three things I loved most: I loved WordPress. I loved working with single-decision-maker businesses who didn’t have a team. And I loved being on hand to give my clients personal attention on a monthly basis.
Those experiences helped me discover my niche into providing personalized, ongoing website care for small businesses.
Tell us about your business model.
Every client we work with is on a monthly website care plan with a recurring fee. From this dedicated client list, we have continual requests for more work for additional features, re-designs and new business venture websites.
I always get requests for projects that are too large and too small, weekly!
Projects that are too large tend to be outside of my skill set. I always want to be fair to the client and not take something on that is a better fit for a larger agency.
Projects that are too small are usually clients whose budget expectations are lower than what I would do the project for. Thanks to WP Elevation, I have a network of more than 500 people I can refer them too. I never turn down a job without first trying to refer them over to a better fit.
Goals and philosophy
What are your business goals for KR Media & Designs?
The goal is continue to improve our processes and service offerings to satisfy our loyal clients. We would like to continue to expand our client list and position KRMD as the go-to solution for personalized, affordable and reliable ongoing website care for our particular niche.
What's your guiding business philosophy?
To provide personalized attention for small business clients for ongoing support so they don’t worry about their website and can focus on their business.
How do you provide that personalized attention?
The only way to provide personal attention to clients is having a secure and exclusive client list. Meaning my clients are on monthly plans that provide me a monthly income, which allows me to avoid turning elsewhere to seek income I need to pay the bills each month. Their website is at the forefront of my mind, and it becomes an ongoing relationship.
What strengths do you bring to the table as an entrepreneur?
My motto in my business for the last three years has been “there has to be a better way.” I’m dedicated to constantly improving myself, my team, our services and our processes. I’m very passionate about what I do and what I do well.
How have your grown your team to complement your skills?
I grew my team by first identifying the needs in the business, and whether I wanted to do that or have someone else do it. As entrepreneurs, we need to get out of our way of thinking that we are the only ones who can do certain tasks. Once you have that mindset shift, it's very easy to grow a team.
Where do you see KR Media & Designs in five years? Ten years?
With the success of running my own company, I’ve been privileged to teach others how to do the same through WP Elevation. This has also led to a partnership with RockStar Empires, an online program for entrepreneurs.
In five years, I hope to see those two additional business ventures grow alongside my ongoing website work at KRMD. In ten years, I’m not sure I can even begin to imagine the places each company will go. I look forward to it!
What tools do you rely on?
The only way to run a profitable business is optimizing your processes so you do the same work in a shorter amount of time and more efficiently. Saving time and delegating tasks all lends itself to higher profit. My business relies on using the right tools for the job and for my team.
With no clear tools hitting it out of the park, I still handle all the invoicing and a lot of the back-office duties myself. I've switched systems quite a bit and will likely switch again once I bring on someone to handle much of this for me.
GoDaddy Pro has been a great tool for managing my clients’ accounts and websites. It’s on my short list (just one of two) of hosting platforms I require my clients to be on.
ManageWP is a popular website management tool for updating and backing up WordPress websites that I can’t live without. And of course WordPress — every website we work with is a WordPress website.
Are there any WordPress themes or plugins that you swear by?
I've always enjoyed the products by the Woo team, like WooCommerce. When building custom websites off a custom design, I often use the Genesis framework. When I started using Beaver Builder, my whole business model changed. And if I could hug a plugin, I would give a large bear hug to Gravity Forms.
Finding time for life
What was the major turning point that led you toward entrepreneurship?
I transitioned from an Emmy Nominated actress to a website developer running my own business. Hard to sum up in a sentence! You can read about my turning point in this blog post, but here’s a small recap:
“Shifting my head out of the award-driven, celeb-obsessed idea of success, I met my husband who couldn’t have been further from “The Industry,” and the deeper questions of what I wanted in life bubbled up into answers.”
How do you unwind?
My kids are stressful, yes, but they are my ultimate peace.
My “why” is spending time with my three small kids.
Spending time with them helps me unwind. I also love to schedule out a vacation as a goal, work hard, then unplug and relax by a resort pool.
How are you finding your work/life balance?
I balance the needs of my business and that of my personal life with accountability. Through coaching other freelancers and entrepreneurs, I’m forced to be accountable to what I teach and keep that work/life balance.
My business doesn’t run me, I run my business.
Being a full-time entrepreneur and a full-time mom is a challenge, but I’ve had a blast making it work. Having rules and boundaries is key — you have to set to them and hold firm.
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned since starting KR Media & Designs?
Everything that Troy Dean (founder of WP Elevation) has ever told me has been a valuable lesson that transformed myself and my business. Troy even provided an opportunity to have Seth Godin dig into my business and offer me advice.
I’ll never forget the “ah-ha” moment Seth gave me. At that time, I was focused on growing my business by running ads and driving traffic to my website for more (quantity) clients. Seth Godin challenged me to turn inward to my business and focus on the clients I already had.
What's your best advice for other entrepreneurs?
Know your why. Know why you are running your own business. Contrary to popular belief, it’s the harder road. If your why is time with your family, or being able to travel, or the hobby you love, or a low-stress lifestyle, then adjust your business so it fits your why. Make decisions based on your why, and you will love what you do.
Big thanks to Kristina Romero for sharing her story! You can learn more about Kristina’s work at KristinaRomero.com. You can connect with Kristina on Facebook and Twitter. If you’d like to learn how to build a WordPress consulting business of your own, check out her training program WP Care Market.