We’re Still a WordPress Website Provider

WordPress website developerSimplified Solutions has been in the business of building WordPress sites for quite some time now. Since The Content Squad came to be, that hasn’t been as big of a priority for us because our business model changed directions a bit. Even though we haven’t promoted this service in a while, we still want people to know of Simplified Solutions as a WordPress website provider.

The way we go about delivering and launching websites is a bit different now, too—but in a good way! We’re able to more efficiently launch sites and hand you the reins because our designer has devoted 100 percent of his time to this service. This service, by the way, includes a customized WordPress theme, social media set-up, and email marketing set up and integration.

Once your website is launched, we’ll help you get going and understand some basic details before we completely hand over the keys. It’s not for the serious inbound marketer, but it helps small businesses establish an online presence and effectively marketing their company.

We’d love to start a conversation and give you more details. In the meantime, check out our new portfolio page.

How Do You Find the Top Talent? Sometimes It Finds You

Diamonds in the roughWell let me start by saying that I’m not qualified to talk about this subject.

That’s all. (I can never resist a chance to slip in that line from Devil Wears Prada.)

Being qualified never stopped me before so here goes.

I think the reasons we’ve been able to attract some amazing talent here at Simplfiied Solutions LLC are numerous, but I’ve listed a few below.

1) I like to connect with people online. Hopefully people would say I’m a giver both online and off. I like to retweet, promote others, help others make connections, and refer as much business as I can. This led to a resurfaced relationship with an old friend on Twitter. Wayne Cox and I connected via Twitter after knowing each other in a different business years ago. Wayne is instrumental in our WordPress customizations, email marketing efforts, and our video editing. He is truly a jack of many trades. A pastor of a thriving church plant in Elizabethtown, and a coffee business owner to boot. I think Wayne and I have contests as to who can promote the other more. It’s like Dwight and Andy trading favors on the Office.

2) I am constantly looking for talent and gravitate toward it. The first time I was referred to Josh Starr with Solid Giant Web Design—by my buddy and Louisville HVAC contractor, Rob Benefiel—I said that guy rocks. Josh and I struck up a relationship and partnered on at least five projects last year. When both our lives and businesses settle down, I’m hopeful we’ll do some more work together. I could say the same thing about Louisville photographer Robert Burge. Bobby knows his trade so well. He has done work for large commercial customers like Jewish Hospital, Churchill Downs, and even UK Athletics. He also does wedding photography, shoots for top realtors, and helps us out with pictures for our website content. When Bobby is on the scene he naturally makes people laugh, relax, get serious, or whatever the situation calls for. He directs traffic and keeps everyone on task. He and I are kindred spirits, and we do a decent amount of work together. It’s growing as we speak.

3) I’m not the most humble person, but humility is always on my radar. I like to make fun of myself, and I don’t take “me” too serious. Heck, I refer to myself as a hack. I also hope that I listen and learn from those wiser and more experienced than me. The best example I can think of is how I came to know Jessie Devine, our star copywriter and inbound marketing specialist. Jessie came on board about six weeks ago as our first employee (team member). Jessie and I connected via Twitter and LinkedIn. She had the courage and boldness to point out that I was advertising that we offered “copyrighting services” on our main website. This is an instance where you could actually say, “Bryce, you can’t even spell copywriting.” Yes, folks, I was using the wrong version of the word on my website. Jessie offered up some constructive criticism along with a few compliments. I could have gotten mad, but instead I thanked her for caring enough to tell me. That day I remember thinking, I’d like to hire that gal. Well, we were able to. She is my sounding board on a daily basis. She’s extremely talented at her trade, and she is a straight shooter. What a great addition. I’m careful about the culture we’re building, and I’ve got a great benchmark to build upon.

4) I lean on experts. Proverbs 15:22 says plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Sure I have a CPA. Yes, my customers are good mentors many times. However, I’m talking about a very close business adviser that I won’t mention yet. He keeps me grounded and guides me along. I cherish our phone conversations, coffee talks, lunches, and Gtalk chats. It’s a major component of what I was missing the first few years. One of my other mentors that I’ve never met is Peter J Daniels. He says good morals is good economics. So God will always have a place in our business. It’s all his anyway. He’s just letting me drive the ship.

So how are you finding the top talent?

Skip the craigslist ads and value humans. Develop relationships. Give. Be humble, or at least try.

Tying it all together with email

Email is part of the overall strategy Hubspot tweeted a pretty interesting blog post the other day about using email to drive organic traffic to websites. There’s several reasons why I dig this concept:

1. It’s a way to tie all of your media together
No matter how many followers you have on Twitter or fans you have on Facebook, your most engaged audience are those who subscribe to your newsletter. You should be blogging at least once a week, sharing information through social media daily, and responding to comments as they come. A monthly newsletter helps tie all of those efforts together by linking to your blog, sharing information about your social media accounts, and producing exclusive content for your newsletter subscribers.

2. As an inbound marketing agency, it’s another way we’re helping our customers see results
We’ve just started newsletter campaigns for our clients. The more we promote their upcoming newsletter, the more subscribers they get. The more we promote their blogs in the newsletter, the more page views they’re seeing. This is exciting stuff and it helps them view email as part of their overall inbound marketing strategy.

3. As we revamp our own newsletter, it’s one of the things we’ve already planned on doing
It’s been a long time since Simplified Solutions sent out a newsletter—too long. Yes we’ve been busy but that’s not really an excuse since most small businesses are busy. We’re actually going to send our first re-designed monthly newsletter this Saturday. We can’t wait to start sending out content again and tracking our results. If you’re interested, you can subscribe here. We’d love to have you on board!

So tell us, is email part of your overall inbound marketing strategy? If it isn’t but you’d like it to be, we’d love to help.

We’ve been cooking up some good things here at Simplified Solutions LLC

Simplified Solutions LLC Cooking up Some Good Stuff

So, I haven’t posted to the blog since we moved into an office in the fall. We’ve been busy though. I have evidence. I’ll share it in this post.

First we moved into the office.

Then we became a Certified Hubspot Partner. Learned a system. Launched a site. Passed a test.

Then we launched a new D.B.A called The Content Squad to use said Hubspot software.

Then we increased our inbound marketing retainers in price and scope.

Then we secured some funding and an amazing business adviser to boot.

Then we hired our first team member. You can read about her here.

Then we began building out the third leg of our business model. It’s a training, coaching, and membership site. You’ll have to wait to hear more about it. It’s a secret. In case you were wondering, the Simplified Solutions leg does WordPress websites, coaching, speaking engagements, and project work. The Content Squad leg does inbound marketing on retainer and uses/sells the Hubspot CMS. It rocks.

I also started a sales development and training program with these sales pros.

So no more excuses. Here we come. Humbly but aggressively.

We’re here to serve and to build a team. We’ll continue to have fun along the way.

P.S. We appreciate your attention and your business.

4 things your small business should blog about

At Simplified Solutions, we help people tell their stories online and we use tools like WordPress and Twitter. One of my graphic design buddies gave me the title Chief Storyteller (obviously hacked from Chief Shoe-giver ala Tom’s shoes) when he was designing my latest business card. The title stuck and leads to a grin whenever someone sees it

We get the pleasure of telling the stories of some amazing businesses each and every day. A friend of mine Ron Stuart coined the phrase embedded reporter and it really does communicate what we do. We use new media to assist small businesses who have primarily used word of mouth to grow their businesses. Inbound marketing works well for word of mouth businesses, but not so well for those accustomed to interruption based outbound media. When those businesses use new media it often reminds me of Seth Godin’s book, Meatball Sundae. Your company needs to be built or changed to work with new media. When you simply put new media on top of an old business model you get whip cream and cherries on top of meatballs. Not too appetizing and a waste of money.

So when we do our embedded reporting, what exactly do “we” communicate:

(“we” is a team approach and collaborative effort- not just ghost blogging)

  1. We write about their story and their uniqueness. If they are just another “me too business” there is not much we can do to spread a boring story.
  2. We write about keywords that customers may use to find them on Google. We do it in a genuine way. We want to fish where the fish are. If we have what they are looking for, then we want to be johnny on the spot.
  3. We do educational marketing. We ask the sales team, the estimators, the marketing folks and the owner; what don’t prospects understand about your service, your process or your product? Then we craft content that educates.
  4. We have fun. We write about fun things. We mix it up a bit. You should too. Humor is powerful. Part of that fun is staging contests, promotions and creating engagement with customers, employees and raving fans of course.

The goal of it all is to make it easy for their product, service, or story to spread. We set up the platforms and (“in praise of slow” via Mitch Joel) create fertile ground for a community to build. This is all pretty new stuff so check back for updates and case studies. It’s part art, part science and part hope into the future. It’s better than hoping into the past though- pretty sure the old stuff isn’t coming back anytime soon. Thinking along the same lines? Contact us to start the conversation.

Why I use WordPress?

Let me count the ways … no that’s too cliche.

Here are the top 10 reasons why I use WordPress … no that’s too Twitter.

Please become a fan of WordPress on my Facebook page … no that’s too Farmville or whatever that Facebook game is called that everyone sends me and I ignore.

For only $19.99 get all my WordPress Secrets … too splash page.

Click here to download a free trial of WordPress … too spammy plus it’s already free.

Pick up the phone and call now and you’ll also get my bonus report “How I’ve made millions in 3 hours per day using WordPress” … too late night infomercial.

Ok seriously now, the reasons why I use WordPress are many. This post may just scratch the surface but WordPress is something I love to use and write about. I’ve also built a business around it. Did I mention [start of shameless self plug] that my wife downloaded a virus on her PC last week for the 2nd time this year. It’s toast this time (I use a Mac and she wants one too but wouldn’t this Netbook really hold her over for another year or so- I think so too) [end shameless self plug] and we could use a new Netbook.

WordPress has leveled the playing field in two big ways:

1) It has made Web Design way more affordable. You no longer are tied to a webmaster if you don’t need to be. You also don’t have to get a custom CMS (content management system) built. You can launch a website or blog in a matter of hours. With the amazing number of premium themes and plug ins you can focus your attention on creating compelling content and building a community around your product, idea, service or cause. Instead of focusing all your attention on design, functionality and technical stuff, you get to redirect that energy toward the things that truly drive traffic and create bottom line results. Plus it has widgets and you can’t go wrong with widgets.

2) WordPress has allowed you, me and anyone with a business, passion or hobby to self publish. You no longer have to wait to be published in a magazine, newspaper or journal. You no longer have to pay big bucks to broadcast your message on TV or radio. You hit the publish button everytime you post something in WordPress. If it’s good they’ll find it through Google. They’ll share it on Twitter. They’ll Digg it or Stumble it. The ball is in your court like it’s never been before. It’s the ultimate bootstrapping tool. It’s homebase. It’s better than the other blogging platforms and open source CMS’s because it has a legion of fans, developers, designers, writers, podcasters, video bloggers, visionaries and entrepreneurs making it better daily. It’s a movement. It’s a community. Did I mention it has widgets and that’s fun to say.

I heart it and it’s high on my list.

Thanks to WP Studio for putting on the contest and to ithemes and webdesign.com for all they do to make WordPress better.

Ten Twitter Tips

After using Twitter for more than a year, I’ve come up with a list for the beginner. This assumes you have filled out your profile and added a picture. Without those people probably won’t follow.

1) Be genuine and be real. Be authentic and people will want to follow you and develop a relationship with you. Post about yourself, your day, your business and your family. Add some humor, some inspiration, some wisdom, some tips and hints. Then plug away with your business, your blog or your links. It will be natural and we’ll be interested. Reverse this and you’ll be in for a long haul.

2) Use the @ symbol before someone’s user name or handle to reference them in your tweet. This is what I love about Twitter and it’s viral nature. It’s make the world a lot smaller when we connect the dots to who knows who.

3) Linking is a good way to showcase your content, your blog, your website and articles you read which others would be interested in. Shorten the URL if you’re using Twitter.com.

4) Retweeting others is also a great way to reward the good content of others and to share meaningful tweets with your followers. Remember just because you’re following someone doesn’t mean your followers are too.

5) Remember if you want to get retweeted then you must give people a chance. Keep your tweet to 120 characters instead of 140 and then others can easily retweet without having to edit parts of your message.

6) If you’re looking for followers then tweet like Goldielocks. Not too little, not too much but just right. If I see someone’s face for 10 tweets of my past 15 then that person gets unfollowed. If someone just lurks and never says anything, there is a chance they may get unfollowed too.

7) If you, as a new user are still wondering what’s the big deal with Twitter; then check out Search.twitter.com

8 ) If you’re looking for followers right out of the gate, then go back to the person who introduced you to Twitter and scan their following list. Follow those who interest you. They will probably reciprocate.

9) If you’re looking for followers right out of the gate, then follow an entire list created by another user. For instance you keep up with golf and you see someone with a great list of all things golf. You can follow the whole list blindly or you can revert back to step 8.

10) Have fun. Make connections. Build relationships. Then meet the people in person for coffee and you’ll feel like you already know them.

Twitter.com has it’s own resource for new users. Here it is.

Padding around Images in Posts

DecisionsI constantly see Wordpess blogs and websites with pictures butted up next to text. It may be a choice for some. Sometimes you may not feel like making the simple tweak to add padding around an image. I can live with that, after all I’m not the picky type. Plus I’m reading the text and seeing the image and everything is just fine. Sometimes though, I think people leave the image and text side by side because they were not aware you could edit them.

This quick screencast below shows you how to add an image with padding around that image. Then the image and text would look like the picture on the right. If you think of other simple WordPress tutorials you’d like to see leave them in the comments section. I love the little ah ha moments. When you think to yourself I always wanted to know how to do that.

Once you begin playing the video below you can click the bottom right monitor button to enlarge it. You can also click this link to go directly to the video Padding around images in wordpress posts/pages.

Back in the saddle again

I’m back running Simplified Solutions LLC on a day to day basis. I still am representing webdesign.com and ithemes but just as an independent contractor and affiliate.

The last 3 months were great. I learned a tremendous amount and hopefully the team at WD.com did as well. We made several sales, worked out some processes, tested different price points and a whole lot more. Hindsight is always 20/20 and everyone is the best Monday morning quarterback but I believe all parties involved had wins in the arrangement.

In the market things cannot be conceived in the mind and implemented without realizing they have to be tested and refined. If we operated in an environment where things stopped and you could walk into the paused picture, then business would be so much simpler. With the way things change so rapidly today you have to adjust quickly. It reminds me of Seth Godin’s book The Dip. You really do have to quit the things that don’t look to work out and to focus on being the best in your endeavor. There is little room left for mediocrity. I think both parties saw this change made since and thankfully we realized it at the same time.

Take a spin around the site.

I’ve jazzed it up a bit and hopefully made it much more clear how I can help you. I admit it was extremely vague over the past few years.

We help you create your story and share it online. We use tools like WordPress and Twitter.