On having fun, building relationships, and getting work done.
Paul Taubman is known as the Digital Maestro. And with good reason.
His WordPress design and development company, called the Digital Maestro, focuses on a lot more than quality and professional website design. While he certainly provides extremely high-level value in that arena, he doubles down with clients by giving them a true and unique online strategy.
After working for 27 years in the insurance industry as a program developer in their systems department, Paul decided to give his two-week notice and set out to start his own company with the professional and personal knowledge he had attained.
And that’s when Digital Maestro was born.
But this wasn’t Paul’s first rodeo when it came to designing websites.
“I started playing around with websites in the early 1990s, mostly because I enjoyed it. It was fun for me. Anyway, I went down to Hilton Head to learn to scuba dive during a week I had off due to a change in jobs. It was my week’s plan to go scuba diving and get certified in that, which I did. But then in the evenings, because I was traveling alone, I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with myself. It was then that I started to teach myself how to build websites using HTML and notepad, just learning.”
And the learning had only just begun.
“It was then that I started to teach myself how to build websites using HTML and notepad…”
From HTML and Dreamweaver To WordPress
When Paul first began building websites in the early 1990s, there was no Yahoo in existence. In fact, there weren’t any website CMS (content management system) options. The only option for website-building was to learn on your own and build the entire framework yourself.
And that is exactly what Paul became proficient at.
“I started to build websites for myself, for family, and for friends. Around that time, I started to get involved with the local community and I built a website for them. I also did some work for nonprofits, that kind of thing. Later on, the term e-commerce became a thing. When it first came out, and the idea of buying stuff on the internet, I thought to myself, ‘yeah right.’
But soon thereafter, Paul began to see that people buying things off the internet made a lot more sense than he had initially thought.
Remember, this was in the early 1990s.
“Using WordPress, I could teach my clients how to update their content on their own, without my assistance.”
As Paul tells us, he was “hearing about this e-commerce thing more and more. Let me go take a course on this. So I did. And during the course I took, the instructor was talking about the WordPress platform.”
Initially, Paul’s impression of what WordPress offered didn’t impress him. After all, he considered himself a “real developer” that didn’t need any “help.”
“I’m educated in this,” he thought, “and I’m already building in Dreamweaver.”
But the course he was taking on WordPress was centered on the marketing aspects it provides to website owners. So he decided to, as he describes, “bite his tongue” and “leave his ego at the door” and find out what the WordPress solution is all about.
“I went ahead and started learning about WordPress. And I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is amazing.’ Not necessarily just for the website building, but it took the hassle out of operating my business after I delivered a finished product to the client. Using WordPress, I could teach my clients how to update their content on their own, without my assistance.”
And this has been a highly valuable part of using the WordPress CRM in Paul’s six years of running his own business.
Having Fun While Getting the Work Done
As Paul explained to us, one of the core values of Digital Maestro is to have fun while getting the work done. While most of his clients don’t see him as the “geeky techie kinda guy” that many associate with people who create quality websites, Paul says that actually works to his advantage.
“Having fun and relating to people being able to speak to them, one-on-one, wherever they’re at, is one of my biggest keys to success. We never speak down to anybody or assume anybody knows anything about websites and online strategy. As we’re building a website (for a client), it’s very much of an educational process. And we’re teaching and training all along the way, even when we do a complimentary website audit. We’re teaching people at their level.”
For example, Paul believes that it’s important to explain foreign concepts to people in simple ways they can understand, without sounding disparaging.
He calls it “speaking human” rather than overwhelming clients with unnecessary techie talk.
“Having fun and relating to people being able to speak to them, one-on-one, wherever they’re at, is one of my biggest keys to success.”
“When we talk about a domain, I just say, ‘when you get your website name,’ which is technically a domain or URL So I’m explaining and teaching and talking with people at the level that they need to understand, as opposed to all the jargon. And there are a lot of web designers that are out there where people come to us and say, ‘Man, my last person, he just said, you know, I had to do this, and I was lost. I didn’t know what that meant.’ So that’s what I mean by speaking human to clients.”
The Sometimes-Challenging Relationship With Clients
Of course, no business is perfect. And in Paul’s case, he finds that one of the most challenging parts of running his business is centered on client content.
“Number one, except for a few minor cases, the biggest challenge is working with clients to get the content they really want and need on their website. It’s often a big challenge.”
“When they come to me and have no idea what exactly they want their new website to do or the reason they actually need it, one of the first questions I ask then is why they want a website?”
This is a great way for Paul to open up the conversation about their real goals and what they’re looking for:
“Of course, many clients will simply say that everybody needs a business website. And I’ll agree with them. But I still need to know their exact and personal reason for wanting one and what they need it to do.”
“You want it to be like a destination for validation. When people come to you, and they want you to build their website, you have a lot of discovery you need to do. Did they already go look up your portfolio and find out all about you? Is their website for a community? Is it meant for e-commerce? What exactly do you need it to do? And often, clients will respond by saying, ‘Oh, I never really thought about that.’”
“The phase of understanding goals and being on the same page with your clients is the most important first step to drawing the best possible website content out of them,” says Paul.
The Biggest Problem Paul Solves For His Clients
When asked what the biggest problem is that he solves for his customers, Paul doesn’t hesitate. In fact, the problem he solves is perfectly in line with the mission of his company.
“We help our clients get more visible online; we help them make money with their website.”
“We help our clients get more visible online; we help them make money with their website.”
It’s difficult to imagine a higher priority for any WordPress web designer and developer.
And, of course, solving customer problems with his personal skill set brings a great deal of satisfaction into the day-to-day grind.
In fact, Paul says that the most rewarding part of the work he does is when he hears that a new business/website owner just got their first online order.
Continued Growth For Years To Come
When asked what his business goals for Digital Maestro are within the next five years, Paul joked back, “Get acquired by Liquid Web (the iThemes parent company).”
Then he continued on, saying, “In five years, we want to make an impact on small businesses and help them expand to be found wherever they need it. This might be local or nationwide. Some of our clients are international as well.”
But there are obstacles that can stand in the way of business goals. For Paul, that biggest obstacle is connecting with enough of the right people that can help drive his business forward in the way he envisions.
Paul Tubman’s WordPress Toolset
As a now-experienced WordPress website designer and developer, Paul has some key WordPress plugins, themes, and services that he uses on all of his projects.
“I have had a Liquid Web account since 2014 and I have been a Toolkit member since around 2013.”
Additionally, he recently switched to the Kadence WP stack, especially after all the Kadence training from iThemes Training. He has experience with Astra Theme and their bundles, as well as Beaver Builder. In the past he has built several websites using Wishlist Member Pro.
Finding Community With iThemes
He tells us that, in many ways, being a part of the iThemes family has helped change his life.
“The (iThemes) community that has been built is fantastic. I know several of the members since joining and have even partnered with them in business opportunities.”
“I try not to miss any of the training that comes up. The community that has been built is fantastic. I know several of the members since joining and have even partnered with them in business opportunities.”
Paul tells us that, because of iThemes, he can now sleep better at night.
“My business model of starter websites that we use are all based on the plugins from iThemes. Without them, we would need to reevaluate EVERY SITE we manage for clients.”
And if that isn’t a ringing endorsement from a seasoned website-building professional, we’re not sure what is.
Learn more about Paul at digitalmaestro.com.