Kristina is one of the most dynamic people I have spoken to. She can infect you with her go getter attitude even over Google Hangouts. She had me at hello. We met up for a brief 30 minute interview, that of course went a bit over time, because we ended up talking about WP Elevation, WordPress, WordCamps, Toy Story, having self confidence, and how to run a business, as well as taking care of three kids. I will try and cover all of the above, and share with you some of her ideas on how we can improve ManageWP as a product.
Kristina’s Path To WP Elevation
Let’s start at the beginning. Most of you might know this, but for those who don’t, Kristina started off as an actress, and a fairly successful one at that too! She tells me “I was on a soap opera when I was 17 years old, and I got a lot of success early on.” Interestingly, she goes on to explain that she didn’t like being at the mercy of other people, and she wanted to create her own thing. Her love for websites became her hobby at university, while she was studying for an MA in screenwriting at the University of Southern California. Kristina explains to me.
By the time I graduated, I realized that I was having more success with building websites than all of the other things I was doing.
What appealed to her was the ability to make her own hours, set her own rules, and so she committed to starting her own business with WordPress. In 2007, which was Kristina’s starting point, WordPress was quite new, and for her it represented a perfect platform, as she could make websites and hand them over to her clients. Done and dusted. However, there was one thing that became apparent over time.
I realized that customers don’t go away, they need your help not just with maintaining their websites.
It became obvious that creating a website and handing it over wasn’t the best option for her business. Two kids, and many clients later, she was pulling her hair out. Clients were looking not just for maintenance, but also a way to grow their business. “When a website is done, it isn’t really done”, she tells me. One day she got an email in her inbox from Troy Dean, asking her “Are you struggling in your WordPress business?”. She tells me, she exclaimed “yes!”. This was the first time she opted for taking a webinar of any sort, it was an investment to see what she was doing wrong and how she could improve. It turns out that it was the initial webinar for WP Elevation, and then when it turned into a course, Kristina decided to take it. We laughed as she told me. “Oh my goodness, now I have to pay this guys more money.”
She attended the programme and in a short period of 3-4 months, her entire business changed.
I had no process, no clear service. This programme taught me everything, my entire business was different and the catalyst for me was recurring revenue for maintenance care packages.
She goes on to describe to me how great that feeling of having recurring revenue is. On a trip to Hawaii, while on the beach she was able to check her income on her phone. After 4 people signed up for maintenance care packages, she got hooked. After completing the course, she ended up becoming a more prominent presence in the programme, which led to her becoming a coach, and recently a Customer Success Manager. She is now also partnering with Troy for Rock Star Empires.
In a nutshell, that’s how you get from an actress to a partner and business owner. Easy, right? 🙂
Kristina and Seth Godin
Not often do you get to sit down with Seth Godin, and podcast about your business. Kristina had this great opportunity to talk to him about the fine line between being a freelancer and entrepreneur. This for her was a turning point. This is what she learnt from him in one sentence.
I didn’t think I had too much wrong in my business, and it was mind-blowing. I realized, I didn’t have to keep growing but I could turn to my client list and that was my base.
This inspired Kristina to focus on optimizing processes and building a team. She was able to provide better quality work. Now with her new team members, a virtual assistant and developer, she can turn inwards and focus on her client list. No longer does she have to market for more clients, but it’s the clients that keep coming to her. She proactively reaches out to her current clients, and that’s what makes up most of her business. She can focus more on each client and build a personal relationship with them. It was a huge shift, but it also brought with it peace of mind, and not worrying about getting more clients.
Too many people ask the same question, they don’t know where to find new clients? After 8 years in the industry, they must have an extensive client list, and there is always plenty to do there. It’s all about going back there and looking for that predictable income. Kristina explains to me, “you have to think that you can offer them value, and that’s the hardest part.”
Connecting With People
I wanted to talk to Kristina a bit more about her work habits. I already knew she was determined, hard working, efficient and good at committing. However, I for one get lonely when I spend a week working by myself, surely working from home could become a bit isolating. Kristina goes on to tell me all about her love for the WordPress community and the opportunities it holds. “I like working alone, and although I appear like an extrovert, I actually enjoy being an introvert at times. But, working alone you end up not having your finger on the pulse.”
I couldn’t agree more with Kristina on this one. I feel that my best work is always done in isolation, but you can end up missing out unless you stay connected with the “real world”. She goes on by pointing out that WordPress has an open community, and it’s so easy to get involved. You can go to WordCamps or work on WordPress projects. It’s great because WP Elevation members all work on the same software, so they are able to keep up with the changes. She says, “your skill-set is naturally elevated ,because we are all doing the same thing”. It’s also a great way to meet new people and make global connections.
Interesting thing that Kristina brought up is personal development. She tells me how she is occasionally able to share stories with the WP Elevation community about everyday struggles, anything from work life balance issues, to what they are doing wrong in their business. She says,
“When I coach people, personal development is a big thing for me and I like to bring that to the table.”
I think that it’s safe to say that most people haven’t changed their job description 5 times, and although now it’s more common to take career turns, Kristina’s career is inspirational. She might be one the bravest and career savvy women out there. I wanted to know what’s the best/biggest takeaway from her career, in the hope that I can apply it to my own career.
“The greatest lesson I learnt is that everything is possible. Getting a TV show early in life made me think that determination can get you a long way. I never had any self doubt when it came to getting clients, and shifting to my own business. I always thought that my time is very valuable, maybe naively so. I have a lot of confidence.”
When faced with high profile clients, Kristina wasn’t intimidated. This is helping her even now, she tells me that Troy approached her with Rock Star Empires, because of her past and her ability to not scare off easily. We agreed that it’s a mindset problem, people are very qualified, but often they think they are not valuable and they can’t get paid for their services.
How Does WP Elevation Work
I asked Kristina to take me through some of the basics about WP Elevation and to tell me a bit more about how the whole programme and course works.
Here are the basics:
- There is a 6 week course called the “Blueprint”, that gives an overall introduction and sets you up with the basic skills and resources.
- There are 3 intakes a year for the Blueprint course, and everyone needs to take it so that WP Elevation members can be on the same page. The intake averages 200 people at a time.
- The course covers how to get clients, write better proposals, deliver product with processes, and how to create a referral machine in helping you get more work.
- By the time you finish the initial 6 week course, you have access to 30+ Webinars and Courses on how to create care plans, marketing funnels, etc. Most content is focused on finding clients, processes, team building and recurring revenue.
- There are coaching calls that Troy runs during the 6 week course, as well as calls run by Kristina and two other coaches monthly.
- There is a private Facebook group, where members can ask all sorts of questions and get genuine support from one another.
The best way to sum up WP Elevation is, it’s a business course for WordPress professionals that didn’t exist before.
Kristina’s Addition To ManageWP Orion
As a loyal ManageWP user, I wanted to find out more about what Kristina thought we were missing. She tells me that ManageWP assists in almost everything with creating recurring revenue care plans, but that there is one thing missing.
“There is one thing that ManageWP is missing, and that we have to offer in our care plans – that is support tasks. We need to time track the time we spent on completing the tasks.”
She goes on to say that she is finding all sorts of ways to do this in. Currently she is using a Google Sheet, pasting the support ticket in, filling in the title and writing down the time it took to complete. She suggests to include in the Client Report a list of timetracking, perhaps integrate an API with the support system. However, even just manually being able to track time in ManageWP would be amazing.
What do you guys think? Would you like to see this feature?
Things You Didn’t Know About Kristina
I asked Kristina what’s the most interesting thing about her, and she said openly that she wasn’t sure there was anything. How could there not be, so I dug a bit deeper. I found out some fun facts.
- Her favorite movies to watch with her kids are any from Disney Pixar, but if she could pick out one, it would be Toy Story 3. She cries every time she watches it, mainly because it’s about a loss of a childhood innocence.
- She has closed deals from the Disney Store, the car, the park – anywhere she could!
- She spends her day with a 5, 3 and 1 year old, as well as running a business full time.
- Her secret is having a desire to do something. She says, you can always find excuses, but if you really want it, it’s possible.