$500 million and counting

The Renaissance of Web: Unlocking Unlimited Design Potential

Omari Harebin, Founder of Sqspthemes

In this podcast episode, Harshit Gupta, Director of Business Alliances at WYTLABS, engages in an insightful conversation with Omari Harebin, Founder of Sqspthemes, a curated directory of Squarespace themes and plugins. Omari shares his extensive background as a digital entrepreneur, coach, and consultant. The discussion revolves around Omari’s journey, his passion for overcoming Squarespace limitations, SEO strategies, and the business model of Sqspthemes. Throughout the conversation, Harshit and Omari touch on challenges in entrepreneurship, community building, and the future direction of Omari’s business, with a focus on assisting solopreneurs in navigating transitions. The exchange is marked by valuable insights, emphasizing the collaborative nature of the digital entrepreneurial landscape.

Sqspthemes provides a curated array of Squarespace themes and plugins, founded to overcome platform limitations and support solopreneurs through collaborative solutions in the digital space.

Omari Harebin
Founder of Sqspthemes

Hello, everyone. And welcome to another episode of WYTPOD. My name is Harshit and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at WYTLABS. We are a digital agency specializing in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. And I’ve got Omari with me. He’s the founder of Sqspthemes. It’s a curated directory of Squarespace themes and plugins.

A big welcome to you, Omari. And I’m so happy to have you with me today.

Thanks for the warm welcome, Harshit.

Now before we dive into Squarespace themes can you please let the viewers know a little bit about you and your professional journey so far?

Sure. I am a proud father, husband, coach consultant, and digital entrepreneur.

I started my digital journey full-time about 10 years ago when I went on paternity leave. I decided that I wasn’t going to go back to my corporate career at the time, which was in engineering. I was going to figure out how to do things my way so that my son would grow up and witness what that was like.

He’s almost 10 in a few weeks. So, I’ve been at this for 10 years now. And, as you said, my primary business is helping web designers overcome the limitations of the Squarespace website builder.

Okay. And what inspired you what are the sources of inspiration to come up with a Squarespace theme and its mission to help the designers and developers?

Yeah, so I’ve been interested in web design since I was 13, 14 years old. This is like at the turn of the last century, um, and just, but I didn’t know that it was a viable career path at the time because the internet was so young when my mom asked me what I wanted to do. And I said, web design she questioned that what do you mean?

Can you make money with that? Is that a real thing? And because at the time it wasn’t I took a conventional path of going to school and getting an engineering degree and then a graduate degree in marketing. And during all that time, I would always create websites for my school projects. If I had a music project or if a friend had a project, I would create websites, but I never made any money doing it.

And so, when I started freelancing full time, then it became a necessity. And because Squarespace was such an easy platform to work with initially, I thought, if I can do this myself, why would anyone pay to do it, pay for you to do it for them when we’re talking about a DIY website builder, do it yourself website builder.

And I quickly learned that even though it is a do-it-yourself platform, there are still a lot of limitations that to accomplish different goals, you have to learn how to do custom code to break. through some of those limitations, or you just have to be creative in terms of coming up with workarounds and solutions to some of these problems.

Makes sense. And because you talked about limitations, I would love to take your opinion on this. You being yourself you’re passionate about SEO yourself, right? And me being in the niche for so long I’ve always struggled with these side builder side platforms altogether.

In fact, like most of the SEOs would agree with me they almost pull their hair when it comes to taking care of technical implementations. Either on Squarespace or on, or any other there are tons of. Then right now, right? In the market. And I would love to get your opinion on this.

Like how flexible is Squarespace and are there solutions? Because I’ve used it in the past, I’m not sure of the current scenario. But yeah, you tell me we like it, I just personally prefer WordPress a lot. There’s always the season for it, like a hundred percent flexibility, to implement almost anything. But yeah, I would love to take your views on Squarespace.

So, the thing about limitations is what I’ve found is that they breed a certain amount of creativity and it forces you to focus on what you can control within those limitations. So, Squarespace has. Grown over the past decade in terms of their SEO features, which I think are still pretty basic.

However, because of those limitations, it forces you to focus on the content and the backlinks and create the relevant content that Google’s looking for. While there are a lot of technical or programmatic things that you can’t do with Squarespace for the small and creative businesses that it serves and caters to, you can do just fine.

My website for some time, ranked above Squarespace within the Squarespace niche. And I think that speaks to both Google’s evolution as a search engine and the platform’s evolution as a website builder.

Gotcha. I would love to know if could you please highlight any specific success story where your business played a crucial role in meeting or exceeding a client’s vision altogether.

This is a great question because I didn’t have a nicely packaged answer for it, but I do have hundreds of testimonials that I think speak to this question and typically what. The message I get is that we’ve been, me and my developer, we’ve been extremely helpful outside of business hours beyond the scope of the initial request.

And I think those 2 elements of our support and our service is really what. What our customers love and appreciate us for is that timeliness willingness and ability to go the extra mile and do it consistently in season and out of season.

And what sets you apart? Do you want to mean USPs for your business?

Yeah. So, we help web designers break through the limitations of Squarespace. But I think our USP is the fact that we’re not the only ones who do that, but we’re the only ones who promote everyone else who does that. So, what I’m saying is while we have our in-house tools and solutions that we’ve created for the market, we also highlight and feature.

All of the solutions and tools that have been created for the market because just because you come to us for one thing, it doesn’t mean that we can’t serve you with someone else’s solution or someone else’s service as well. So that, I think what makes us stand out in the market is we take a holistic marketing perspective in terms of how we serve the market.

Okay. And how exactly does the revenue model work for you when it comes to promoting the third-party plugins or themes on your site?

Yeah, so we’re affiliate partners for the other template and plugin creators. And that accounts for maybe 20 percent of the overall revenue so it’s not a primary driver, but I see it as like a community service, a thing.

Two as well, where the priority isn’t necessarily the revenue, but it’s the awareness of what exists and the availability of what the market has to offer.

All right. And now drawing from your experience in testing SEO and content marketing strategies what are the key insights that you can share and how exactly does your website support your users in that area?

Yeah, so I have 3 different mindsets when it comes to SEO the 1 that I prefer is what I call blue ocean SEO, where the thing that you’re searching for just doesn’t exist yet. Okay. And usually either that starts as a low-volume keyword where there’s just not a lot of people searching.

Or it’s something that is just around the corner, right on the horizon. I love those types of content. It means I’m 1st on the web, so to speak, which, I love that feeling because it’s you’re at the edge of the Internet, right? The Internet has been being built for the past or public world wide web for the past 30 years or so.

And so, it’s always nice when you can create something that isn’t already there because it means the next person who searches for it, they’re going to find you 1st. And then there’s what I call this Karmic SEO, where there’s. A lot of results for a particular query, um, but they haven’t been consolidated.

other people talk about this as like aggregate. I’ve taken the approach that aggregate sites take sometimes where you take the best of a result and you highlight that and add some commentary or add some human perspective so that you’re essentially making the search experience better.

For the searcher, you’re making it easier for Google to serve up something useful and for the people who are already in that search engine results, you’re also doing them a favor as well by, by aggregating their content. And if, Google serves that up 1st, then you’ve done everyone a favor.

So, I call that karmic SEO because you’re helping everyone out. Everyone wins. And then finally, I have another perspective that I call gentrified SEO, where the market is already You know, dominant, there’s already a lot of content out there for a particular query, but some of it is dilapidated.

Some of it is broken. Some of it is old and outdated. And so, coming in and redeveloping that content so that it is. More up-to-date, it’s more modern, it’s more visually appealing. I do that a lot less, but it is, it is the kind of mindset that I approach that kind of SEO. So that’s how I bucket my SEO perspective.

And because I don’t serve, I don’t offer SEO services at the moment. I haven’t in several years. It’s the kind of thing that you just learned from me by either listening to my podcast or. It’s all with me one on one.

Gotcha. All right. I would love to know because you’re building the community, and you have more than three entrepreneurs on it how exactly are they contributing to the success and growth of your platform?

Yeah. So, when I started SQSB themes in 2015, I started a Facebook group. At the same time, I started an email list because as a marketer I understood that I would need a community in parallel to support business and also to serve as a social proof element. So, I remember early on when I was still working with clients.

It would always help if they saw. Oh, he also has a community where he serves hundreds or thousands of other people just like me, right? So that always helped in terms of authority and trust. Trust factor and then the email newsletter that I started at the same time, it’s, it grows with the business.

So, there’s no way to get on the news. There is now, but up until recently, the only way to get on the newsletter is if you were a customer, or you had joined the Facebook group. So, what it does is it creates a very insular community around the business that can feed on itself.

The community can run autonomously. It doesn’t require my input. The newsletter develops a more intimate relationship with my previous customers because now they can get to know me better. They could get to know the other offerings. So those two assets are probably, just as critical as any other part of the business.

Makes sense. And, because we’ve been quite some time now, it’s around, I think since 2015 you’ve been working, building that business altogether. I would love to know some of the most significant challenges that you have faced while building this and how you navigated or overcame them.

Yeah. So, I think, I’m going to just talk about the biggest challenge and the biggest challenge is sales, right? Making money. And I think a lot of times it’s easy to gloss over that. But the reason that’s a challenge, or in my experience is because there are the external things you can do, but then there are also the internal things that you need to do.

To become effective in transferring the conviction needed to make a sale. And so, my biggest challenge has been my personal growth and evolution in terms of feeling confident and secure and what it is that I have to offer. So that when I go out into the market, it’s effortless for me to communicate what it is that I have and to make that sale versus when I started.

I had a lot of confidence, but I quickly ran into rejection, different forms of rejection. And I think overcoming that fear of rejection, overcoming the fear of people, not caring, not wanting what you have not paying attention, all of those fairs, which for me originated long before I decided to become an engineer, become an entrepreneur.

Once I became an entrepreneur, it was like all of those fears came rushing back because now you’re putting yourself in front of strangers from all over the world, from all different walks of life and overcoming the fact that, you’ve been rejected in the past by people who weren’t strangers.

You’ve been rejected in the past by people who. You love people who love you too. Putting yourself in a world and in an environment where you have to overcome those emotional challenges has been my biggest challenge. And it’s the thing that. I’m very passionate about now, as you could probably hear, because I find that, the fear of rejection isn’t unique to me for a while.

I thought it was for a while. I thought I was the only one. But I’m learning that this is a human experience. And so, leaning into the human experience and empathizing with it and sympathizing with it from my own experience. has been the biggest challenge and breakthrough for me in my business.

That’s wonderful. I would love to know because It’s been quite some time and your space is way too competitive. How exactly do you envision? You know where your business heading in the future are there any specific Initiatives that you have, you’re particularly excited about

Yeah, great question. So, when I started sqsthemes. com, there were maybe one or two other templates created by Squarespace template creators at that time. And there was one plugin shop at that time. And so, I’ve had the mark, I call it the market and privilege of being able to watch the market sophistication grow and evolve from being at the beginning of it, so I’ve watched the competition grow and the way that I thought about it originally and still think about it is I’m not in competition with these people.

I’m simply, I’m here to serve my competition. Yeah. So, because of that, the more competition that comes along, the more people I have to serve. And so that creates a wonderful dynamic where I don’t have to be, I’m not, there’s no threats to, to my business because the core purpose is to overcome limitations.

And so those limitations are always expanding or sometimes they’re contracting. But there’s always some form of limitation and because I’m not the only one who’s tackling these limitations, I’m also able to serve the others who are tackling the same limitations as well. That’s how I orient myself in terms of competition and moving forward, um, because that has been true for, a long time and I haven’t necessarily.

Vocalized it and the way I’m vocalizing it to you now, I can now even do that more confidently., I can then push the business forward, just off of that term alone. And it’s the sustainability that is built in and guaranteed off of that premise.

You’ve got a wonderful model altogether working in your favor. Yeah. Okay. Are there any additional insights or messages that you would like to share with our audience? Whether it’s about, your own business or the broader field of web development and design?

Yeah, so tagging on to your last question, what does the future look like, the things that I’m most passionate about now are helping people to navigate those business transitions, especially a solopreneur going from a salaried job to no salary and having to figure it out on your own and then going from, successfully being able to freelance and create some income for yourself to transition into digital products.

Or more passive streams of income so that you can fulfill those, time goals and dreams that you probably had back in the cubicle. So those are the things that I’m most passionate about now helping people to navigate those transitions and the limitations. The mindset limitations, the limiting beliefs that make those transitions so difficult.

Yeah, we’re coming to an end here and I would love to have a quick rapid fire with you. Are you ready for that?

Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s go. I’ve never done this before.

Okay. What is not a big deal to most people, but is torture to you?

Oh, not a big deal to most people. Torture to me. Small talk. All right.

All right. Okay. What word record do you think you have a shot at beating?

Oh, I can beat I don’t know, probably like fastest to fall asleep in a movie.

Alright, are you more cautious or bold?

People would say I’m bold.

Now tell me this thing then. What never fails to make you laugh?

Oh yeah. My children probably.

Yeah, that’s a good answer. Again, I’m coming to my very last question. What’s your last Google search?

Oh, probably a customer.

Thank you so much. Thank you for all the time on the wisdom that you’ve shared in today’s session about yourself the business and in general entrepreneurship.

I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

Thank you, Harshit. I’ve enjoyed this as well.



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