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Robot Army Industries combines a decade of experience in digital marketing with nearly two decades of tech expertise to deliver truly unique marketing automation and content strategy services. Since its inception, the one-man army of Brett Kelly has managed to drum up millions in revenue for the agency and its clients.
Given that these clients hail from diverse industries, Robot Army was in search of a managed hosting service that would let it customize its services for its clients’ specific needs. This turned out to be a challenging requirement – most service providers simply didn’t have the necessary feature set. Until finally, Brett turned his sights to Cloudways WordPress hosting.
Cloudways: It’s great to have you with us, Brett! Can you tell us about your agency?
Brett Kelly: Robot Army Industries is a boutique digital agency that offers marketing and web services to small businesses, solopreneurs, and scrappers. We build websites, marketing campaigns, messaging strategies, and more for our fellow hustlers. We’ve got 20 years of WordPress experience and over a decade in the digital marketing game.
Cloudways: What challenges were you facing that compelled you to start looking for a better solution?
Brett Kelly: We work with a wide variety of clients from global manufacturers to New York Times™ best-selling authors—even other digital agencies. We needed a hosting and management solution that would allow us to customize our services based on the needs of individual clients. With Cloudways, we can easily tailor our services in a way that keeps costs and management overhead under control without sacrificing the high-quality service our clients expect.
Cloudways: What specific solution were you looking for in your ideal solution to your problem?
Brett Kelly: Our challenge before moving to Cloudways was the competition’s one-size-fits-all approach to hosting and management. Large, busy sites sitting alongside smaller ones, in other words. We either had to spin up separate VPSs for each or shove everybody into a shared hosting when it didn’t make sense to do so. Managing all of these mismatched components was a serious challenge and we were spending far too much time keeping things humming along.
Cloudways: How did you figure Cloudways had the best solution for your problems?
Brett Kelly: Mostly, Cloudways gave us the option to easily manage resources and configurations on a per-site basis. With very little effort, we could move a busy site to its own server, which we’d place geographically close to the site’s audience. We can collect small sites on a single server and add new servers as needed. We have plenty of experience managing “bare metal” web servers, but we didn’t want to spend time and effort on things like updating packages or configuring and optimizing the basics that every capable server environment needs. Instead, we can focus on serving clients while knowing we can scale our infrastructure, both vertically and horizontally, within a few minutes and with almost zero friction.
Cloudways: What success did you initially face when moving to Cloudways?
Brett Kelly: We moved a small subset of our client sites to Cloudways during our internal evaluation and, I must say, the speed and ease with which we were able to provision and configure new servers was a delight. Having Varnish already installed and configured meant we could tune each site quickly and easily without touching a single .conf file.
Cloudways: Has Cloudways helped you save money or increase productivity?
Brett Kelly: The biggest boon here has been the notifications from Cloudways Bot. We have a dedicated Slack channel that relays any updates directly to us whenever there’s an issue. This allows us to respond quickly to issues affecting our clients, which means our clients stick around—which means saving money and less wasted time reviewing logs and worrying about unknown issues or outages. And, of course, the time we save by not having to manually upgrade PHP, MySQL, Apache, or Nginx is a huge win.
Cloudways: Can you share any specific KPI or metric that shows how Cloudways works better with Elementor?
Brett Kelly: The majority of the sites we build use Elementor because it allows us to rapidly bring our designs to life. Page builders are often—rightly—accused of adding bloat to the final product, but we’ve found that, along with best practices, an aggressive caching and optimization strategy is the key to offsetting these downsides. With several layers of caching built into Cloudways, making our sites load like lightning is both simple and reliable.
Cloudways: What do you advise to the people willing to host their Elementor sites with Cloudways?
Brett Kelly: Get comfortable with configuring PHP environments and make use of the caching facilities Cloudways offers.
Cloudways: You mentioned you are running hundreds of sites with Cloudways, what are some features that you think allowed you to manage such a huge number of sites?
Brett Kelly: First, access to historical utilization data for the servers themselves makes it a snap. We can quickly review how busy a given server has been, then make decisions based on that information. And I have to shout out the chatbot again. We use a third-party site management tool for software updates and so forth, but receiving alerts when a given server is low on resources—or experiencing an outage—is a huge advantage. (Just to be clear: we have about 150 active applications—technically, not “hundreds.” :))
Cloudways: What cloud providers did you choose? What do you think of the flexibility of choosing a cloud provider at Cloudways?
Brett Kelly: Most of our servers run on Linode and Vultr. Vultr High Frequency is an absolute beast—some of our busiest, most computationally expensive sites sit atop Vultr HF and they’re rock solid. Servers running multiple sites are a mix of Linode and Vultr. The fact that we can choose the physical location of the server, as well as the provider, is really fantastic.
Cloudways: How do you find our staging environment and cloning feature?
Brett Kelly: We use this feature constantly. Our SOP for new client sites who will ultimately host with us is to spin up an empty WordPress install on production, create a staging clone, and start building. This allows us to deploy quickly—and, if necessary, rapidly push updates.
Cloudways: How would you rate our customer support experience?
Brett Kelly: In my experience, the support staff at Cloudways is friendly and capable. Whenever I’ve needed help, they’ve been there! I’ll also say that knowing somebody will be on chat 24/7/365 is great.
Cloudways: What overall impact did Cloudways have on your business? Before and after? Speed, performance, multiple site management?
Brett Kelly: More than the tangibles, I think the biggest impact Cloudways has had on our business is that we can say “yes” to just about any client, regardless of their needs. From tiny blogs to worldwide e-commerce operations, the breadth of options—and the cost-effectiveness of those options—gives us the confidence to know we can provide reliable service to our clients. In the past, we’d need to spread our hosting and management services across multiple providers to achieve the same result.
Cloudways: Was there anything surprising about moving to Cloudways?
Brett Kelly: Honestly, I’m still delighted by the way Cloudways strikes a perfect balance between ease of use and access to the nerdy stuff. You don’t need to be a sysadmin to use Cloudways, but the fact that I can easily connect client sites to things like git repos and CDN was a benefit I didn’t expect. And, as I’ve mentioned, we can squeeze a lot of performance out of our servers (thus making hosting and management a very profitable segment of the business).
Cloudways: Do you have any advice for people or businesses that may face the same problem as you did?
Brett Kelly: If you offer hosting to your clients and it’s a pain to manage, you should definitely give Cloudways a look—it’s some of the best money we spend each month and I couldn’t be happier. If you don’t offer hosting to your clients, you should start offering it. 🙂
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