Back in February 2009, Emily Rodvold took something of a leap into the unknown. She’d been working as an art director for consumer electronics multinational Best Buy for more than seven years when the corporate office offered staff a voluntary severance package and buyout as part of a downsizing exercise.
“I really loved my job, I had a great team, and I loved the work I was doing,” Rodvold said. “But it was really hard to pass up the opportunity to start my own business and to have a bit of a nest egg to begin it with.”
She left the corporate world with a readymade customer list as some of her clients at Best Buy also took advantage of the severance package to start their own businesses in fields as diverse as leadership consulting and painting. All of those peers needed websites, logos, and brands for their new start-ups. “It seemed like a no-brainer,” she said. “I had enough clients right off the bat to start a company.”
Example of a Lift Creative client site. Local event center and photography studio, 514studios.com
Soon after opening for business as Emsster Design Company, which she later renamed Lift Creative, Rodvold heard about LightCMS from an established freelance designer who spoke very highly of the platform. Rodvold quickly got up to speed with LightCMS and has used it in the majority of her client engagements ever since. “One of the unique value propositions LightCMS offers is to allow me to get things done for clients who have a small budget and can’t afford to put together a whole team of a designer, a copywriter, and a programmer,” she said. “I can wear all those hats for them.”
Lift Creative now has close to 300 clients up from the initial 25 to 30 it started out with in 2009. All of the clients have been referrals and range in size from one-person businesses to much larger operations such as uniform rental and facility products provider G&K Services and her previous employer Best Buy.
For Rodvold, the sweet spot for Lift Creative are smaller businesses who appreciate the value and importance of design and who have set aside a modest website and brand budget. “Using LightCMS, I can give them a really professional website that’s easy for them to use and that they can maintain themselves or easily train someone to maintain, or have me do periodic updates on it,” she said.
Rodvold is ideally placed to note differences between customer experiences with LightCMS and WordPress since her business also includes supporting a few WordPress sites. “Ninety nine percent of all of the clients I have working in LightCMS continue to manage their own sites 99 percent of the time with very little assistance from me,” she said.
“The clients I have on WordPress sites typically have to bring someone onto their team to help them with it or they come to me much more often to make changes or updates because it’s just not as user-friendly as LightCMS.”
Rodvold is appreciative of how the LightCMS platform has evolved over the years and how quickly the vendor responds to end-user requests. She’s also taking advantage of the new LightCMS partner platform which debuted in June, and has put new clients onto it and has been moving over existing clients. “LightCMS has definitely been a really valuable tool for me in my business,” she said.
In the last few years, Rodvold has made an effort to target more non-profits, political candidates, and causes as potential clients. “It’s a niche that’s not been tapped,” she said. “These organizations put out a lot of literature and set up websites but they’re often hard to navigate and manage.”
Looking ahead, Rodvold anticipates taking on and training up an intern or two to help out with LightCMS projects in the coming year. “People generally catch on very quickly,” she said. “I’ve had clients who when we started working together were calling and asking me how to attach a file to an email and sending emails with the Caps Lock on and now they’re managing their own websites. LightCMS is definitely an easy tool to learn.”