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“The Open-Source Mindset and the WordPress Community Were so Different Than What I’ve Been Used To.” – Anchen

Updated on April 2, 2020

6 Min Read
anchen interview

Business with branding and marketing is nothing more than a non-profit collaboration. In this highly competitive market, having a proper marketing strategy is significant for businesses’ survival.

Our today’s guest is known for her contribution to the field of digital marketing, web design, SEO, and much more. Let’s talk to her to know her story and explore new ways of digital marketing.

Cloudways: Thank you Anchen for taking the time out and joining us today. Let’s start by listening to your story. Please tell our readers about yourself and what do you currently do?

Anchen: I am the lead developer and chief at Simply Digital Design in South Africa. My passion is in creating experiences around the web development process. So that it’s similar to an online group program and not the dreaded task that clients sometimes think it is.

I started out doing a BCom degree in Informatics and a BSc degree in Information Technology and then worked as a C#/ASP.net developer for about 10 years. I first started working in WordPress in 2012 and was instantly in love. The open-source mindset and the WordPress community were so different than what I’ve been used to.

Cloudways: When and how did you start as a digital marketer and who inspired you in the initial days of your career?

Anchen: I’m more of a developer with a digital marketing hobby. I was still working as a contract developer for a GIS company in 2012/2013 when I first stumbled onto the whole idea of online marketing. I found it fascinating so needed to start something so that I could market it. I created an in-person DIY website workshop and later a Content Creation Bootcamp and book.

In the early days, it was all about online courses and coaching. I followed all the big names like Amy Porterfield, Brendon Burchard, and Ryan Deiss. Once I found Digital Marketer I was hooked.

Cloudways: You mainly offer your services to photographers and creatives, is there a reason behind choosing this niche?

Anchen: At Simply Digital Design we like to do things a bit differently. I have found that creative agencies like photography and videography agencies are more open to this and like doing things outside of the box. We do however do a lot of different projects for other agencies so that keeps it interesting.

Cloudways: Being a digital marketer, what five things in your opinion weigh the most for an effective online presence?

Anchen: For me, the following are the fundamentals that you need to get right: Consistent but unique Branding, Clear Messaging, a Strategic website communicating this branding and messaging. Creating Content in line with your messaging, Amplifying your content.

Cloudways: Tell us about Simply Digital Design. How did you find the agency and what is your role in it?

Anchen: Two big things happened that changed my life. I first joined WP Elevation in June 2016. I was doing the odd WordPress website on the side well developing at my GIS company and dabbling in the online marketing space. Being part of this WPE community changed my mindset completely. It’s also where I first learned about the second thing – WordCamps. I took a flight to Cape Town for my first ever WordCamp in September of that same year. When I got back I was a changed woman, I quit my job and Simply Digital Design was born.

My main role besides visionary is project manager, I still run all the projects and accounts myself. I also do more technical development or integrations. I still love having my hand on projects like that but as we grow, I will have to let go.

Cloudways: You offer various services that revolve around digital marketing and branding; what is the most common pain point businesses come with?

Anchen: We are mainly a Web development agency but found that most clients are struggling with not being seen online. The problem is that they don’t have they’re branding and messaging tuned in. Also that they don’t spend any effort or money advocating that message online.

Cloudways: What tips would you like to share with our readers who want to launch their own digital agency?

Anchen: Do not try and do this on your own. Find a mentor that you gel with or find a free online community to support you. If you can partner with someone with complementary skills either to start the business or at least for service delivery definitely do that. I have a few service-based partners that I would not be able to go without but if I were to start over I would’ve started with a business partner.

Cloudways: Besides Simply Digital Design, what other projects are you currently involved in or planning to start?

Anchen: I’m Mulitpotentialite so I’m always busy with at least a few projects. Besides the obvious WordPress community-related projects and the Great WP Virtual Summit that we’ll talk about later, I’m running an online workshop for DIY website builds, I’m trying to build a Turnkey system for photographers and I’ve recently got certified as a Fix This Next consultant (Mike Michalowicz’s next amazing book).

I’m also in talks to be part of the first women-led release squad for the WordPress 5.6 release – if that works out it would be really interesting.

Cloudways: Being an active WordCamp participant and speaker. How much do you recommend attending local meetups and WordCamps? What are the key takeaways for a small business or an individual consultant? 

Anchen: As an organizer of WordCamp Johannesburg and WordPress Pretoria Meetup, for me, there is nothing like these in-person events. I’ve met so many wonderful people in the WP community by going to events. As an introvert, I always find it difficult to go to new events but volunteering or helping out in some way makes it a lot easier to be part of a group and force you to mingle with others.

In our current situation that’s going to be more difficult but online networking can be very rewarding as well and I’ll definitely encourage anyone to get to an in-person event once it’s possible again.

Cloudways: You are also one of the organizers of The Great WP Virtual Summit. Please tell us about the summit and its format and who are the guests in the upcoming summit?

Anchen: The summit was created last year to give more people the chance to get exposed to WordCamps especially those in African and other remote areas of the world. At that time I did not realize how much the world would change and that all WordCamps would go Virtual this year.

We have 21 amazing speakers in the summit a few well-known names and also quite a few speakers from South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.

To name a few James Rose, Simon Kelly, Mike Killen, Piccia Neri, Matthew Rodela, Shane Rielly, etc.

Cloudways: What resources/tutorials/blogs/ebooks do you recommend to a digital marketer or a WordPress developer in general?

Anchen: Ooh there are so many wonderful resources out there. I might be a bit of a resource junkie so I will name the things that made the biggest impact in my life.

I’m also currently going through the Profitable Project Plan 10 month program.

For development, I love the Zac Gordon courses and bootcamps: https://javascriptforwp.com/

My favorite books for business, in general, are Profit first, Clockwork, StoryBrand and Build to Sell.

Cloudways: In light of current events where the whole world is affected by the novel COVID-19 pandemic; how are you and your team coping up and managing tasks remotely?

Anchen: We’ve always been a remote team. With my assistants based in Cape Town. Maryke, my designer, is local and we used to meet up at the coffee shop or office just to catch up so we need to set more Zoom meetings. But apart from that, it’s business as usual for us.

Cloudways: In your opinion, what are the benefits of hosting a site on a managed cloud hosting than a conventional shared hosting service?

Anchen: I’m sure there are a ton of benefits, but for me, the main ones are the scalability and agility for growth. With that, the lower cost to start off with as only a monthly payment needs to be made for what has been used. It’s also a lot more secure than your typical shared hosting.

Cloudways: Finally, for our readers, please share the picture of your work station 🙂

Anchen: Ok not much of a workstation to see but this is my current makeshift office at home.

Anchen le Roux - Simply Digital Design - Workplace 1

Anchen le Roux - Simply Digital Design - Workplace 2

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Mustaasam Saleem

Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WordPress Hosting Platform, where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music. You can email him at [email protected]

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