The WP Agency Journey with Rob Cairns of Stunning Digital Marketing


In this episode, Cory Miller, CEO of Post Status, and Rob Cairns, Founder, CEO, and Chief Creator of Amazing Ideas at Stunning Digital Marketing, discuss the importance of website security, client communication, and managing client expectations. They also talk about the need for businesses to treat their websites as valuable assets and allocate budgets for their maintenance and security. Websites have become an integral part of modern business operations, especially with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top Takeaways:

  • Website Security and Budgeting: Businesses must prioritize website security and allocate appropriate budgets for maintenance and protection. Websites are now integral to modern business operations, and their value should be recognized and treated as essential as physical security measures.
  • Effective Client Communication: Clear and proactive communication with clients is crucial. Agencies should manage client expectations, set boundaries, and communicate any limitations, such as response times during vacations or other periods of unavailability. Managing client communication helps build trust and ensures a smoother working relationship.
  • Community Engagement and Personal Well-being: Engaging with the WordPress community and participating in events like WordCamps can be valuable for networking, knowledge sharing, and staying updated with industry trends. Additionally, individuals need to prioritize their own well-being and take care of their health.

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Cory Miller (00:00:00) – All right. Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Post Edits Draft. We’ve got another interview in our series on agency journeys. And I’m talking to a long time friend of mine, Rob Carnes, who has been very active in post. It’s been to a bunch of our meetups and I’m really excited to share his story today. So Rob, thanks for being on The Post podcast.

Rob Cairns (00:00:21) – My pleasure, Corey. Glad to be here.

Cory Miller (00:00:24) – Well, Rob, let’s dive in. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your agency today. Name and what you do. What kind of work primarily you do for your clients.

Rob Cairns (00:00:34) – Okay, So my name is Rob Cairns. I’m in the greater Toronto area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I should tell you, before I got into running an agency, I have a very tech heavy background which a lot of agency owners don’t have. So I come out of an enterprise healthcare environment, doing servers, doing all kinds of cool stuff to support one of Toronto’s biggest hospitals.

Rob Cairns (00:00:58) – Before that I was actually an old time COBOL programmer. There’s probably a word that you haven’t heard in a long, long time, and I spent some time in the financial industry, so I’ve got a bit of a business background. And then I jumped into agency life because, you know, I always tell the story. I never planned to be in marketing because I had a marketing professor in school back in the 80s who came in the class, and her whole thing was, Oh, I’m good. I’m here because I want my summers off. And I said, I swore then in there I’d never be a marketer if you paid me money to. Well, I lied. So, yeah. And I run I run an agency that’s WordPress focused. A lot of it is WordPress security stuff right now and some builds and then a lot of email marketing and consulting these days. That’s kind of where I’m at.

Cory Miller (00:01:50) – Yeah. And what’s your agency name?

Rob Cairns (00:01:53) – Stunning digital marketing.

Cory Miller (00:01:55) – And what’s the website for your.

Rob Cairns (00:01:58) – Digital marketing is the agency site and digital is like my Linktree site. It’s got links to everything I do on the web and where you can find me.

Cory Miller (00:02:09) – Excellent. Excellent. Well, I know as I’ve gotten to know you through some of the meetups, too, I hear more and more about the work you do, and it always impresses me. You’re like, Hey, is anybody worried about this particular update? And and I know you managed quite a few sites and it always I always like lean in when you talk about that because it’s at the heart of what a lot of agency work, particularly at post is that our agencies do is that beast of maintaining WordPress across multiple WordPress client sites. Well, great. Thank you for that. So tell me a little bit about how you got there. I heard a little preface of that, but I wanted to start out with where you are today. Um, and then talk about how you got there. That’s always the compelling part of these Journey series to me is what happened before.

Cory Miller (00:02:59) – So this is today and then what? What’s a little snippet of how what led up to where you are today?

Rob Cairns (00:03:06) – So where I am today was kind of how I got there was us working in healthcare. I wasn’t happy, I’ll tell you that now. I was working probably 60 to 70 hours a week at the time. So this is going back 14 years ago was when we started and I was extremely unhappy and somebody said to me, So why don’t you just go? And I said, Well, I’ve been here 21 years, so if they want to get rid of me, it’s going to cost some lots of money to get rid of me. So let’s force the hand and see where it goes. Well, 14 years ago, my dad was sick with pancreatic cancer at the time he actually passed away July 8th, the anniversary that’s coming up. And they decided, knowing I was going to be taking some time off, they decided we need to we’re going to make some changes and you can go away.

Rob Cairns (00:03:56) – And at that point, I was already building WordPress websites on the side. So I just kind of transitioned to what I was doing on the side full time. Now here’s where it got interesting. I decided really quickly only building the website, it’s only part of getting it out there. You still got a market that site and you got to do it properly. So I made a decision then and there. I was going to build a full stack marketing agency. I’ve taken some courses, a lot of courses. One of my mentors in this space is a gentleman by the name of Paul Tobey, who I’m founder of. Paul. Toby’s actually the father of Adrian Toby, the founder of Groundhog, who you know. So that’s.

Cory Miller (00:04:40) – Love.

Rob Cairns (00:04:40) – Adrian Yeah, love Adrian, Love. His dad saw his dad in January, actually, and we sat in his house and listened to him play some jazz tunes for us where we were visiting and and then transitioned in and at one time was offering all kinds of services and then just realized some of these are just don’t want to do so I just kind of niche down and got out of what I didn’t want to do so.

Cory Miller (00:05:10) – Got you. So how long ago did you go? Full time with the business?

Rob Cairns (00:05:16) – 14 years ago.

Cory Miller (00:05:18) – 14 years ago. Okay. That’s awesome. We were going strong about the same time.

Rob Cairns (00:05:22) – Yeah, about same time. And you. And you and I connected, I think the first time about 14 years ago when I was in the headway community. And you were running the items community. And you’d be proud to know two of the products in my security stack back up by the in 19 security are still there to this day so.

Cory Miller (00:05:40) – Oh that’s fantastic to hear. Well, okay, So I’m really curious. Was there a point when you were like, doing this on the side? What was that juncture when you’re like, okay, I’m going to do this full time? A lot of the stories we hear, I hear in It’s My Own is some event. Something helped kind of catalyze the process to become a full time entrepreneur. And so I’m curious. So not happy, of course. And then, hey, I think you might have mentioned this just a second ago, but I want to make sure I’m clear on it.

Cory Miller (00:06:13) – So was there event that kind of like, okay, I’m doing this full time, this is the only thing I’m doing.

Rob Cairns (00:06:18) – So my as I say, my dad was battling pancreatic cancer at the time. Oh, right. Yeah. I went on three weeks vacation after I was on the corporate project, number one, and amassing overtime like nothing. And I walked back in on a Monday morning. I got a call from the director’s secretary at 10 a.m. and say, Director won’t see you in a boardroom at 3:00. And the boardroom was not the normal boardroom for meetings. So I just kind of put my feet up and said, okay, I know how this day’s going to play out. Welcome back from vacation for me. And believe it or not, I actually shipped everything personal home from work at lunchtime in a cab because I saw the writing on the wall. I’d seen it on the wall for a while. Yeah. Then I get, um, I get called in and the director says, Do you know why you’re here? I said, So you’re going to let me go, so let’s just get it over with.

Rob Cairns (00:07:16) – And the h.r. Manager turned to me and said, how do you how do you feel about all this? And my response at the time was, my lawyer will tell you at 9:00 tomorrow morning. Now you’re like no other comment.

Cory Miller (00:07:27) – Now at this time, you were already doing things on the side, though, right? Yeah, I think that’s important to note in the story because, you know, some of these events that happen, but you were already kind of testing the waters, building some kind of side hustle side gig on the side. So you didn’t just, you know, jump out into the ether. You had something kind of built up. Were you doing work for like client? I mean, friends? How did the the side gig kind of start parallel to that side gig?

Rob Cairns (00:07:59) – Actually, it’s really interesting you ask that question. Being in tech, I’m like a resource in my family and you can appreciate that. So I did go to the let’s send an email to let’s ask the question.

Rob Cairns (00:08:13) – And I actually got fed up with family, believe it or not, and I wrote a website at that time was HTML and said, by the way, here’s all the family pictures from the event last week because I was also the manager of all that digital stuff. And by the way, here’s links to all the questions you guys asked me and nobody’s allowed to ask me a question until you go to these links and and actually do your own homework. So that was my start into domains and all of that and web stuff. And the other thing that started it was this is going back to the days of dial and dialing Internet providers, if we remember those days. Yep. And trauma, they were a dime a dozen. So I used to switch providers, i.e. email services more than most people because I get fed up with one dial in provider and I cancel. I go to another one, I cancel, I go to another one, I cancel. So I finally said, Forget this, I’m going to register a domain which I still have to this day.

Rob Cairns (00:09:15) – And then that was kind of my foray in. And then after doing static sites, I realized WordPress was the way to go and that’s what kind of opened the door.

Cory Miller (00:09:24) – So what was your introduction to WordPress? What kind of time period did you start using?

Rob Cairns (00:09:28) – WordPress would have been about 16, 15 years ago. 16 years ago?

Cory Miller (00:09:32) – Yeah, right. Right. In its first early heyday for sure. That’s about the same time I got started with WordPress, this cool platform that you didn’t have to manage with all these HTML top software and updated 100 pages you could do with one click. Essentially this concept of content management system was really, really crazy and awesome.

Rob Cairns (00:09:53) – We all remember the famous five minute WordPress install where our our hosting providers didn’t have a one click installer like stop flashes or any of them. We had to do it ourselves, right?

Cory Miller (00:10:05) – And yeah, we did it. I mean, I’m trying to remember when I did that, if it was FTP, you know, putting it on the server.

Cory Miller (00:10:14) – Yeah, I’m trying to think back about that. I use soft tactless quite a bit in the early days, but that was magical back then. If you think about it, it’s like I want the ability to do build a website and I don’t have to learn too many technical logistics. I remember googling. What does FTP mean? That was one of our first post that I themes because I was like, if I have this question, I bet you a bunch of other people have this question. But yeah, WordPress made it easy.

Rob Cairns (00:10:40) – Yeah. I have to tell you a funny story. You appreciate being over it. I think so. I had a client years ago. It was Australian, one of my first big clients, and he didn’t see the spending the money on something like backup buddy. So the silly client came back to me and said, So write me the documentation process of tobacco and restore a website menu and document it out. And the story goes that the cost to him paying for that documentation at the time would have cost him more than a yearly license for backup money.

Rob Cairns (00:11:12) – Well, even or not. So needless to say, he became a backup buddy. Pretty convert pretty quickly. Corey.

Cory Miller (00:11:20) – So. Well, okay, so you go full time with the agency starting to do on work. I know somewhere in there was like, Hey, there’s more to just the actual website build. There’s marketing different parts around the website. Um, as you look back, you know, 15 years now, what were some of the catalytic events that help you in your agency, personal professional, WordPress, all these things. If you look back where like 3 or 4 of the things that really made the difference in your agency to where you’re now, I know you’ve been doing this a long time. I know you’ve been able to have freedom of life to do different things in your life as part of the business part of WordPress, which is always the magic, I think, WordPress. But if you look back, what are those couple of things that kind of stand out?

Rob Cairns (00:12:06) – Um, a couple of things.

Rob Cairns (00:12:07) – One is I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so my mother is 78 years old, still alive and still selling houses, believe it or not. As a real estate agent, my aunt who passed away at 92, was one of the top real estate brokers for Century 21 in the Farmington, Detroit area for many, many years. First successful. I come from a family who’s done business on their own, so that helps. My father was a CFO for an insurance broker, so that helps. That helped install some money sense into me and some business sense into me. I’m also a lifelong learner. So you and I have talked over the years about how much reading I do or how much listening to other podcasts. I do believe it or not, my own podcast is not on my podcast player backdrop. I’m busy listening to everybody else’s because think you got to get a variety of point. And then kind of just people along the way. People like yourself. People like Paul. Toby Paul was a big catalyst for giving me credit and saying, you know, more than like 75% of the world.

Rob Cairns (00:13:21) – Just go after it. So Paul was really good for me around mindset more than just technical stuff, so that was good. And then things like in my life recognizing and you and I have had this conversation about mental health challenges and the whole pearls around that. You’ve been through it. I’ve been through it. We’ve talked about it very candidly together over the years. That has helped. Am probably. 200% more mental health. Healthy today in my 50s and was in my 30s. I would say that, you know.

Cory Miller (00:13:58) – I think I want to say ditto. I think I think so.

Rob Cairns (00:14:02) – And then surrounding yourself with the right people and people like yourself, people like post others group people like, you know, people outside of the post group, people you can go to and say, Hey, I just need an ear or, Hey, I’m stuck on something technical. I should know doing that. And then kind of. A big part of all this was deciding a number of years ago that I’m such a security junkie and I always was, even when I was in health care, and I need to dive into the security space and put my time and money there.

Rob Cairns (00:14:38) – And that was a big part of it, too. And that’s how that came to birth. You mentioned, I imagine, websites as of yesterday’s count 418, believe it or not, just from an update in security perspective and growing by the day. So.

Cory Miller (00:14:53) – It’s it’s for sure become a thing in a good part of our industry and community that there’s agencies like yours and I’ve talked to a lot that that are recognized WordPress is awesome. There’s a lot of things that go into it as far as keeping those things updated. So somebody goes, Oh, I built it, you know, I built the baseball field, Field of Dreams. It’s there. Cool. Everybody’s going to come to it. There’s two sides of the coin that’s really interesting with your story. One is that updates security. Part of it got to keep the field maintained. The other side is the marketing part. I found this fascinating because you’ve got this to blend of marketing and the really the maintenance said that includes this big topic called security.

Rob Cairns (00:15:37) – Yep, it’s true. And like one of the biggest things I think agency owners don’t do well is they don’t manage their own mailing lists, let alone their client mailing lists. And email marketing has become one of my strengths over the years and think that is a big deal because the only thing you really own is your website. In your mailing list. Everything is kind of what we call rented land or other people’s land in the rules change by the day and it gets to be awful.

Cory Miller (00:16:07) – So yeah, yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. I’ve talked to a lot of people. I think a lot of the WordPress community saw one thing from my work at things, but I go, you know, one want to know the key to what we built. There’s a lot of keys, right? But one of the big keys, especially marketing, was email marketing. And I love how you said website, what you really own, the website and email address. You don’t even own the rankings. You got to keep working on those things.

Cory Miller (00:16:32) – You got to you don’t even necessarily on the traffic. You got to keep working on those things. But when you have the what click for me with email marketing, was this old school, now old school concept of direct marketing when people used to go door to door and still do of course, to sell something to that person directly. And I think that was when it clicked for me is email is direct marketing where I don’t control the algorithms and whatever tech billionaire is going to buy another of the social media platforms. But if I consistently build I was actually talking to entrepreneur last week about this, just she’s just getting started with the physical product. And I said, Hey, you know, all the jazz and the sexiness is out on the social media platforms. However, it’s a great way to get started, push them, funnel them into an email where you can still to date in 2023, directly market. It still works, but so many are adverse to it or don’t do the work to keep up their keep up, grow, maintain their email lists and use them properly.

Rob Cairns (00:17:37) – And to segment them properly. Mean the big issue is. So I’ll give you an example. I have an email list that’s running about 7500 active right now. I’ve probably got, if you count people have an open stuff in like the last 60 days and probably closer to 1200. So the key is not to send emails to your host, send them to the 7500 that are active and then every six months touch base with the other people once in a while, like because honestly, that’s waste of time and money. Like don’t put your emphasis there, but you segment your list and figure out what people want from you and who’s going to open stuff. And as a result, on that 7500, I run an open rate of about listeners about 62% on a regular basis. Which is incredible.

Cory Miller (00:18:29) – Yeah, indeed. And it all takes work. Websites, take work, emails take a work to properly do it well. So. So you know, a couple of the things I’m interested in. The last 15 years or so you’ve been doing, this is what you’ve seen kind of transition the evolution of WordPress you know, from and websites within that.

Cory Miller (00:18:53) – So you know how WordPress has gone in the last 15 years. Where do you think it is now? Where do you think it’s going in the future, what your clients are seeing and value in as part of having a great web presence? And I’m curious your thoughts on those two things. So the underlying technology has grown 15 years. We just celebrated 20th anniversary of WordPress, which is just fascinating to me. Um, and then, you know, this, this changing perception, I think growing, valuing perception of websites, the value of having a WordPress type website.

Rob Cairns (00:19:29) – So there’s a couple of things. When we all started with WordPress, you and I, it was basically a blogging platform and now we’re building these whole robust membership sites, e-commerce sites, we’re building all this stuff and it’s incredible. And people say, Oh, why don’t you go to an e-commerce platform? Well, I have to tell you, I picked up the paper today, this morning before we jumped on this call. Corey and Shopify, who we all know is one of the big e-commerce products, is in trouble with the Canadian government because they refuse to hand over shopping records to the tax people so they can go after individuals.

Rob Cairns (00:20:10) – And the cool thing about WordPress is that’s all self contained. So as we get into this privacy era, everything’s within your dashboard and you can even buy marketing solutions like Groundhog Adrian, Toby or Fluent CRM, another one that resides right inside that dashboard which protects your privacy and puts you in control. And I think that’s the whole thing about WordPress. The other big thing I’ve seen is a big change in the hosting space. And you’ll agree with me, um, what’s old is good and what hosting companies have reinvented themselves in the last while. And two I like to point out to is one over at New fold and we both of us have a mutual friend there in the name of Dave Ryan at Neufeld. So Dave and his team, I’ve had many dealings with them. They were the old endurance and they came out of that. And they’re trying to reinvent themselves by running around and buying plug ins like they bought Yoast and they bought it and doing things like that. And then important for new fold, they’ve become more community aware than they’ve ever become before.

Rob Cairns (00:21:19) – So this was not the idea of eight years ago or nine years ago. I can guarantee that. And they’ve changed. And then you take somebody like her friends up at GoDaddy and, you know, I know that team pretty well for work I’ve done, and they’ve reinvented themselves. They’ve come out of the ashes of the Danica Patrick ads, as we call them. Remember those? Could you see a sexist ad like that flying in today’s society? I don’t think so.

Cory Miller (00:21:50) – No. We’ve evolved past that for sure for for better.

Rob Cairns (00:21:55) – But they’ve also reinvented themselves. And then even in a hosting space, you got companies like Liquid Web and WP Engine and Cloud, and then you’ve got companies that were leaders that have kind of dropped off. And a company I throw into a group like that is Siteground think, you know. Ten years. Five years ago, they were great. And then somethings kind of happened. So things go cyclical. Um, in terms of the technology more, it’s worth mentioning where we’ve gone.

Rob Cairns (00:22:25) – So we’ve gone from coding and WordPress with plugins to page builders and your team and I think this is one of the first with, with your builder product, right? And themes to, to build sites. And then we got into things like headway, which we all know the story of what happened there and they were part of their problems. They were miles ahead of their time and just not adapted. And then we got into the traditional page builders like the Beaver Builders, the Yeah, Elementor, the bricks, that kind of stuff, which is prominent now. And now we’re headed to this magical thing called blocks. And you know, there’s a couple block ecosystems. The one I use is cadence. I’ve been all in with Cadence for a couple of years now. So there’s evolution, that spot. And I think we’re we’re starting to see more is WordPress is becoming more than just a publishing platform. Automattic owns Tumblr, Automattic owns pocket casts, one of the biggest pocket podcast players out there. They own the day One journal, which is a journaling app, um, would encourage anybody out there who needs a journaling product to go get it.

Rob Cairns (00:23:45) – It’s worth every penny of it, like honestly. So they’re trying to democratize that whole, the whole solution. So, so a lot that’s gone on in 20. Um.

Cory Miller (00:23:59) – Yeah, there’s a whole history there and everything you talked about. I think what stands out was the hosting industry. It’s definitely evolved, grown and a lot of money has come into WordPress hosting space in particular. You talk about new Fold in Endurance, for instance, like it’s turned over, been sold and bought so many acquisitions in the space and for good reason, because WordPress is a great platform for millions of people to build their website on. So but you know, there’s a trend there too, which is you talked about the reinvention and kind of coming out of stuff. What I’ve seen in 15 years plus years or so is. Yeah, it starts out good. Trying to claim her to get new customers. New clients, show them, you know, help them with their stuff. And it seems a lot of cyclical ness of like, okay, they reached this point where now they’re trying to really all the hosting companies, I would say, should make a profit.

Cory Miller (00:25:02) – But then there’s a swath that like, okay, increasingly trying to make it more profitable to understand part of business. However, then you see customer service and support start to kind of fade with some of that and then you get this whole, okay, they’re going down and then going up. And I’ve I’m not going to name the names, but there’s a lot there where you see the cyclical up and down of that hosting side, which isn’t always healthy for WordPress either. I get it as a business part. What they need to do for their shareholders, partners, all that kind of stuff. But it’s definitely changed from like 2008 when I think this was on a shared hosting plan for like, I don’t know, $5 a month or $10 a month at like HostGator. And it’s I’ve kind of bemoaned it some because what the effect now is the experience for the WordPress user, those people that are your clients that are using their website and there’s that up and down. They’ve had to ride some of that and it’s always not good thing for the health of the ecosystem.

Rob Cairns (00:26:06) – It’s true. And the other thing I should add to to this discussion is I think the team up at Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, has been much more receptive to comments, suggestions than ever before. And I know some people don’t feel that way, but I think we’re in really good hands with Josepha being the executive director of the WordPress project, you know, and things like that. And I know on the Gutenberg side I’ve gotten to know Matthias Venture, The Gutenberg lead a little bit and, and people like our friends Polly Hack or people like Jessica Frick over at Percival, which is an automatic company. People like that have put us in pretty good hands, frankly.

Cory Miller (00:26:52) – Yeah, my personal opinion is automatic has long term commitment to the industry and I’m really proud to have them as sponsors a lot of automatic and post status and for good reason. But you know a long term commitment to like they have had the opportunity for many years to really really monetize what WordPress is and have held back. I think this is only my personal opinion.

Cory Miller (00:27:18) – No facts really share other’s leadership there. But get go have had a long term commitment because they believe in open source, they believe in the open web and the ecosystem is healthy. When you have a diverse set of people offering services and products to that, so you get great performance. Obviously they know WordPress inside and out and then the support and those are the things that have that kind of wane over time. In any hosting company that I’ve been, that I’ve been around, I’ve had I’ve been a customer at many of the ones you talked about had clients and friends at many of the ones that you talked about. And but the consistency, I think, is what matters overall. So I agree with you. Agree. Um, okay. So we’ve talked about a whole lot of stuff. Now I want to talk I want to ask this specific question related to your clients. What are you hearing from your clients about WordPress, how they’re using their websites? Because I love talking to our agency owners because tip of the spear for me is the people out there doing the work.

Cory Miller (00:28:20) – For those people using WordPress, they might not even know or care that there’s this open source platform underneath it all. But what are you hearing from your clients about what WordPress and working with the websites?

Rob Cairns (00:28:32) – Yeah, there’s a couple things. I don’t think my clients care what’s under the hood. So by that mean they don’t care if it’s a WordPress site, if it’s a custom site, if it’s something else, as long as it gives them the results they want. So one of the things I’ve been pushing in the community for the last ten years is don’t sell the solution. Sell what it brings you. I’m a big one. Outcome or something, not how you get there. And if anybody doesn’t believe that, I suggest you go look up a guy by the name of Simon Sinek. Start with why is his book and find his Ted talk and watch it and watch it again. So sell the the what you get out of it. So that’s the first one. I also think clients hate to say are dropping the security ball big time right now.

Rob Cairns (00:29:21) – I’m working on a site right now where the client couldn’t find their backup that they were sending to a cloud drive for six days and they took them six days to find out where they put that backup. So one of the things I find with my clients is you have to help them manage their digital assets or their digital stuff, and even more so in small businesses. What happens if the business owner gets run over by a truck tomorrow? What happens if he dies tomorrow? Do you have a succession plan for your business? Do you know how to handle that? Most people don’t. So that’s a problem. And then the other thing is, I think a lot of people flock to WordPress because frankly, what are we powering now? 45% in the Internet, 50% somewhere in there. And I think that alone is a selling thing. That’s attraction. Thing is WordPress is open source. It can’t be secure the security holes every month. Well, guess what? Microsoft Windows plugs security holes on the first Tuesday every month called Patch Tuesday.

Rob Cairns (00:30:27) – And the whole business world runs on Windows more than that. Right. And they’re still plugging holes. Security is a trust factor, not a it happened or it didn’t happen.

Cory Miller (00:30:37) – So I like that because security is a non-essential part of the digital our digital world, particularly our Internet, it’s a part of it. The real question is how are the people or companies behind that making sure it’s always secure. I remember talking to a security expert. I don’t know, it’s been eight years now and they said it’s not a matter this is one that just all they do is security and they go, it’s not a matter of if we’ll get hacked, it’s when and what we’re doing continually. And I go, that’s part of the digital age. That’s where we’re at. So I love that emphasis from your point. It’s just not when it’s if. And what are you doing in the meantime to help proactively do that?

Rob Cairns (00:31:19) – And I’ll take that one more. Corey I have a saying in my business that’s not if you’ll be hacked, it’s when you’ll be hacked.

Rob Cairns (00:31:25) – And how do you recover where I take it? So I kind of look at this mess I’ve been dealing with, and a big part of the problem was the client didn’t have a site updated, the client didn’t have the PHP version updated, the client couldn’t find the backup. You see where this is going? Yep. And it’s we got to take care of those assets and we got to treat them like the they’re important. So that’s that.

Cory Miller (00:31:52) – Just like you would lock your car or your house at night or your car if you’re driving into the supermarket or the grocery store, whatever that is, you’d lock your car because, you know, you do those things. We don’t even think about those things. They’re so embedded now and we need to be doing that. I love this message. We need to be doing that with our digital assets.

Rob Cairns (00:32:11) – We’re a mutual friend of ours. You know, Kathy’s N over at K very well. And I turned to Cathy in January and said, I’m going to make you a prediction.

Rob Cairns (00:32:20) – And she said, Oh, I don’t like your predictions are usually right. And I said, I’m going to declare 2023 as a year of the vulnerability, the first week of January. And that was coming out of the whole LastPass debacle that happened. And we all know about that one. And sure enough, and I think it’s partially awareness, but I think there’s a multitude of factors and it’s kind of played out that way. The other thing I’m hearing from clients is clients don’t realize that websites have to have a budget attached to them for their business. So marketing budget and they say, Oh, we do it in house. And I say, okay, so what’s your hourly rate worth? Oh, it’s worth $40 an hour. How many hours a month do you do? Oh five. So your marketing budget is 40 times five. So that’s the other thing. Business has got to take this stuff seriously and start to budget for.

Cory Miller (00:33:17) – I love that Social Security and then budget, and that’s the mindset.

Cory Miller (00:33:21) – So, you know, a lot of the conversations I’ve been having is the recognition from clients that their website is not just valuable, it’s an integral part of how they do business. Covid accelerated a lot of that. I think it’s like, Hey, we got so many physical location, bricks and mortar type businesses realizing when you can’t actually see a person face to face. So I have two way of a way to be able to do business. So I love that it’s integral. So security, part of life budgeting, you need to budget for it just like you would any other part of your businesses in the essential part of your business. And so many of the agency owners have talked to here at Post Status, they the clients are recognizing that it’s in some of the instances, I would say more like a B2B. They see it’s at a very, very valuable part of their overall sales strategy and they value it deeply. Some run their whole operations or half operations, you know, and items and post those two, we run our whole operation through online space so it feels foreign.

Cory Miller (00:34:26) – But that’s not the way business is traditionally. It’s, you know, you go to a store, you travel, you walk, you ride in a horse and buggy or a car to get to. Things have changed. And that seems like what I’m hearing, too, is that mindset needs a change of like this is all a part of business domains, websites, all the platforms you might be on, all as important as that door that opens up into your business.

Rob Cairns (00:34:51) – 100% and then look at the criticality of it. So, for example, if you’re an e-commerce site that’s making 30,000 US a day profit, then you need a different level of support than somebody that’s got a brochure site that is out there just to be the face of their business. So you got to think about things like that, too. Very much so.

Cory Miller (00:35:12) – Okay, so security and budget. Anything else on your mind about when you when you’re working with clients and how they’re valuing their websites? Any perspectives you have to share there too.

Rob Cairns (00:35:22) – I think a lot of clients in this day and age are unrealistic and think that’s the world we live in. So it’s a very much an I want it now world. It’s I want it yesterday. There’s no patience out there like to tell you I don’t think clients are any different.

Cory Miller (00:35:39) – So. Yeah. So it’s the physical part of business, which I have a friend that has a restaurant supply business and I understand how like when you’re, you know, stove or cooktop is down, they can’t sell. And then now that okay, got to have it now. And that service side is pretty intense for them. I can see that now being applied to the business is where they see it as essential. I want to say that’s a good part, but when it comes with some mindset change of okay, we need to be able to budget for that and pay for that and, and knowing like in the middle of the night or whatever it is to have that kind of service turnaround is not always possible or realistic.

Rob Cairns (00:36:27) – And communication is a big part of it too. I don’t think some clients communicate well, don’t think some agencies communicate well. Like, for example, I’m going on vacation next Wednesday. Yay me, I’ve already sent out an email to my entire client was saying, By the way, the only thing I’ll deal with while I’m away is a website down issue. Everything else sits till I get home and just tell them upfront. Now, they might not like to hear it, but that’s you’re allowed to take time off. You’re allowed to recharge.

Cory Miller (00:36:58) – The good communication, getting ahead of it to manage those expectations? Yeah, absolutely vital. All right, Rob. Well, anything else you want to share that you’re excited about, that you’re working on or doing?

Rob Cairns (00:37:10) – I think the big thing is the security side of it. Think, think. We just got to be aware and and make sure you’re aware and if and if anybody needs help agencies otherwise reach out, be glad to help them and be involved in the community.

Rob Cairns (00:37:25) – That’s a big part of what you and I do. You do not repost status. As you know, I co-manage a large LinkedIn group with Courtney Robertson. I’ve got a podcast that’s, you know, it’s good for business awareness, but it’s also good for the community too. So get involved. The community. Somebody if you can go to a word camp, go says the guy who’s got no time to go to work. Camps right now have not been to a five check by I missed word camp Buffalo Oh boy did I take stuff for not being on that one because that was a that’s an hour and a half away. I didn’t go to Montclair this weekend because, again, I’ve got conflicts. And the other thing is, look after you and your family and look after how you feel. Look after your health. Because if you don’t do that, you can’t run your business. So keep that.

Cory Miller (00:38:14) – Absolutely. Well, thanks, Rob, for being on post staff. Appreciate your work in the community and what you do with WordPress out in the world to our story.

Rob Cairns (00:38:22) – Thanks for having me.

This article was published at Post Status — the community for WordPress professionals.

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