On boosting businesses through the stratosphere
Ever since his high school days, Ben Bradley has been on a trajectory for success. In his high school years, Ben found his love for graphic design. This soon translated into a university degree in visual communications.
“There was a spectrum of disciplines in graphic design, photography, illustration, and art when I was young. But I really honed into the graphic design side of things in the beginning.”
And that’s what started him down the path toward creating Cosmik Carrot, a WordPress web design and maintenance firm that “helps passionate business owners who want to thrive and succeed in boosting their business through the stratosphere.”
“There was a spectrum of disciplines in graphic design, photography, illustration, and art when I was young. But I really honed into the graphic design side of things in the beginning. Another passion of mine is drumming, but thank goodness, I didn’t pursue that (as a career),” Ben says with a laugh.
The Beginnings of Cosmik Carrot
It was after graduating from college that Ben got out into what he affectionately calls the “real world.” And he needed to figure out how he was going to earn a living. This was during the mid-1990’s when the Internet was first being introduced to the general public.
“I sort of grew up with the web, and I began thinking that this could be a way for people to work from home in the future.”
But the future hadn’t arrived yet, and Ben needed to earn a living. He landed a position with a large pension firm. It was then that began to realize that traveling, commuting, and riding a train to and from work every day wasn’t the long-term life he wanted.
“Why continue commuting to just go sit at another computer, when really, I should be sitting at home (on my computer),” Ben explains.
“I was working my nine-to-five job in finance, then came home every evening and weekends, slugging it out for another 35-40 hours each week to start building up the experience and revenue I needed to branch out on my own.”
“I can go anywhere I want to work with my own computer. So I started doing a lot of freelance work (on the side).”
It was at this time that Ben began to discover the WordPress platform and the wealth of information in the iThemes University, which, at the time, was headed up by his namesake, Benjamin Bradley.
“And Nathan has done a fantastic job as well,” Ben says.
Ben was introduced to several iThemes products that he still uses in his business today, including BackupBuddy, iThemes Security Pro, and iThemes Sync.
“I use iThemes Sync Pro every single day. It’s the best tool I’ve found for multisite applications. There are a couple other products out there that do a similar job, but this one is the best. Every morning at 9am, I log onto iThemes Sync Pro. That’s my time that I do my maintenance every morning.”
Finding Your Target Market
Ben founded the Cosmik Carrot brand back in 2008. His focus from the beginning was to appeal to start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses, with a focus on creating an affordable and impactful long-term web presence for every client.
“In general, our business niche sort of goes around our saying of ‘we are passionate business owners who want to succeed at boosting your business through the stratosphere.’ However, we are basically just trying to find those small to medium-sized business clients who have a website, but need help with things like updates, security, and support,” Ben explains.
“That’s what really turned into our bread and butter. Of course, we have the design products that bring in revenue as well, but they are all layered into us providing ongoing support for clients. We’ve had clients now for so many years because of this. And it’s been all about trying to build up that client roster over time.”
From the small seedling it was, to the now ripe and ready-to-harvest carrot, Cosmik Carrot has continued to grow stronger since 2008. In the beginning, Ben worked with websites focused on event management.
As the business has further developed, he’s continued to work with local clients, as well as those from all around the world from his home base near Lichfield in the county of Staffordshire, UK.
Overcoming Daily Challenges
As with many other business owners in this niche, one of the biggest operational challenges Ben faces is centered on client content.
“I really honed in on that within a couple of years of starting this business. I’ve learned that it’s important to focus on content first before starting the development. And it can be a difficult situation because even clients who have existing websites often don’t have good enough content to use on a new site. And they’ve most likely written the content themselves, so it’s only going to say what they want it to say,” Ben says.
“I really honed in on that within a couple of years of starting this business. I’ve learned that it’s important to focus on content first before starting the development.”
“I mean, they are business owners as well. They’re passionate about their businesses and what they do. Unfortunately, often their content isn’t very well refined.”
How does Ben overcome this challenge?
“I’ve got a new process to lay out the pages before development begins and establish where their text will go, but sometimes clients don’t want to use it. They just say, ‘I’ve written it all on a Google Doc,’ and then you have to load it off manually. I can do it a lot quicker today than I could in the beginning. But yeah, the content process from the beginning to the end can be difficult.”
Ben explains that it’s important to set specific expectations and timelines with the client from the outset of the project.
“Otherwise, the process can turn into a nightmare.”
The Rewards of Running a WordPress Development Business
When asked what’s most rewarding about the work Ben does, he replies with a smile, saying, “I don’t have to commute anywhere.”
Of course, who can’t relate with that?
But he goes on to say, “No, let me be totally honest. I still haven’t had a holiday (vacation) in many years, which is pretty shocking. But working from home, for me, is the absolute pinnacle. When there’s a point in the day where I just need a break, I can just head out on my mountain bike and go ride somewhere. I don’t need to justify myself to somebody else.”
“But working from home, for me, is the absolute pinnacle. When there’s a point in the day where I just need a break, I can just head out on my mountain bike and go ride somewhere.”
Ben says that he enjoys being able to move his day along in whatever way he sees fit. However, he definitely works more hours than a typical nine-to-five job.
“And this is no different across everybody else in this industry that I speak with. And sometimes we ask ourselves, ‘why are we doing it?’ Well, we are doing it. And if you want to improve the turnover of your business, you’ve got to put more time into it.”
The Future of WordPress
As with years past, Ben’s biggest passion today remains working with the web.
“Of course, there were computers long before today. But this WordPress space, it’s just like, it’s just the future right now. And I think, with the ability to bring in WooCommerce for clients, it’s just incredible.”
Ben believes that once multilingual functionality is enabled in WordPress core, directly out of the box, the entire world will be an oyster for people in the field of WordPress design and development.
“I think that’s going to be the most incredible, ultimate goal. We don’t know exactly how many years it’s going to take, but it’s going to be great.”
With the momentum Ben’s built on the Cosmik Carrot brand, he’s sure to be making a living in the WordPress space for years to come.
“Of course, there were computers long before today. But this WordPress space, it’s just the future right now.”
Learn more about Ben and Cosmik Carrot