Rebranding: How EJM Design became Wheel Horse Digital

It’s been a wonderful ride so far, but this was a much-needed upgrade!

I formed EJM Design at the height of the pandemic when I had been laid off from my job. I had been doing small website and graphic design projects for years on a volunteer basis, but finally decided it was time to start charging for them! I did everything from logo design, email marketing, web development, and even print design. The next few years were a series of making plenty of new-business-owner mistakes – undercharging, over-promising, and taking on work I didn’t really want to do because I couldn’t say no and thought it would be good experience.

That last part turned out to be true. I had to learn by doing (lots of the wrong things) to really dial down on how to offer a few exceptional services, rather than try to do everything. I’ve also worked hard on the client processes and procedures, with a goal of creating a wonderful experience working together every time a client books with us. I have a background in operations management, so it’s important to me that clients always know what’s happening and what’s required at all stages of the project, and never feel they’re in the dark on any deliverables or goals.

Diving into SEO

There’s another important part to this story that I often tend to leave out, and that’s how my interest in web design led to complete shift in my day job before Wheel Horse Digital became my full-time venture.

I’ve always found SEO fascinating, and a natural next step after learning web design and development. I knew it was a service I’d like to offer someday, but wanted to feel really qualified first to make sure I could actually bring enough value to clients. I ultimately resumed my job in supply chain during the pandemic, but spent every bit of the money I made freelancing that year on courses and learning SEO, and took on many small jobs for agencies to get as much experience as possible. A year later, I started a new position as an SEO Analyst at the Cleveland Clinic. Working for a large multi-faceted organization was challenging but exciting and I was doing a lot of technical SEO and content marketing. I was responsible for producing high-quality, YMYL content for the Clinic’s Health Library across three medical institutes, and reporting on KPI’s and communicating the value of SEO to medical professionals. At the 2022 Content Marketing Institute Awards, Cleveland Clinic brought home wins in three categories – Best Content Strategy, Best Multi-Year Content Marketing Program and Best Content Marketing Program in Healthcare – all for Health Library content.

I kept taking on clients while working full time, and used these skills to add as much value as possible to website packages. By the end of 2022, it really started to feel like the name “EJM Design” didn’t suit where the business was headed. First of all, my initials aren’t EJM anymore! And “design” didn’t really represent the majority of the services I wanted to focus on. Digital marketing – web design, website maintenance, SEO and email marketing – are the areas where I feel I can bring the most value to clients. I’ll leave the graphic design and branding work to the creatives out there, because I prefer the technical stuff! All those little details truly mean the difference between a great website and a mediocre one, and I love the challenge of solving a business problem using tech and/or automation whenever possible.

The story behind the name

The term “wheel horse” isn’t a phrase you hear every day (though it is the name of a company that makes lawn tractors, as my husband likes to remind me). In old cowboy slang, it’s used to refer to “an intimate friend, one’s right hand man.” Another definition is “Someone who works especially hard in any enterprise.” That’s exactly our goal with our customers – to build trust and lasting relationships, partnering with them to create long term, sustainable marketing strategies.

So where to from here?

Over the next few years, my goal with Wheel Horse Digital is to grow slowly and sustainably. We’re now a team of two, but sometimes three or four. We’ve built partnerships with fellow marketers and creatives to offer complimentary services whenever our clients have need of them. I’ve worked with many business owners who felt like just a number to their previous marketing agency, and keeping the personal touch that comes with working with a small team is important to me. At the same time, I’d like to grow enough to where we can be a one-stop-shop for all of your business’ marketing needs.

We love a challenge, and are constantly looking for ways to problem solve and add more value to our services. If you have an idea, a goal or just want to talk marketing, feel free to get in touch!

I’ve been riding my whole life, and like to take my horse Lilly out on trail rides behind our house – along with our two goats!

-Emily King, owner