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Interview with Bob Pankala of eXtremepixels.com

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Interview with Bob Pankala (pank) of eXtremepixels.com LLC. eXtremepixels offers professional vBulletin skins, IPB skins and phpBB skins.

Hello Bob,Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I have been very impressed with eXtremepixels.com for some time. One of my first Fav websites on the net!

First off – can we have a little background information – Where you live? How old you are? What motivates you? Inspires you?

I live in Chicagoland and I am aged 40

What motivates me – I want to put out absolutely the best forum skins out there. Our reputation is one of the best in the business. Maintaining that reputation is everything… Word of mouth is the best advertisement you could ever have. Doubling or tripling sales is something that keeps me driven and motivates me. Never be content with where you are. Always strive to do better.

What inspires me – Really tons of stuff. Anything from a cool graphic I see on TV to the way I see how a shadow casts itself when I’m outside. If you look around and pay attention to your surroundings inspiration is limitless 😉

1) Tell us about your main project, eXtremepixels? Why did you launch eXtremepixels? Where are you at now with eXtremepixels?

I launched eXtremepixels because I truly love graphic design. It seemed at the time (and still does) that making designs for all the major forums was a niche that was missing. Honestly I got lucky and that was something that people really did indeed want.

– Where are we now?? To my knowledge we are the most popular and most trusted forum skins site around. It took some time to build up that reputation but it was worth the time invested. Since I have been doing this I cannot count the number of skins sites that have popped up only to disappear and leave their customers in the cold. Trust is the most important thing.

2) What would you say is the number one reason for your success with eXtremepixels?

– Very hard work, keeping your products and content up to date, and most of all surrounding yourself with very good people (including my wife). I have 2 coders (one phpBB and one IPB) that work for me. They are the best and it makes my life so much easier.

When I first launched the site all I offered were vBulletin skins since I code all of those. My best move was to expand and offer my deigns/skins for other forum software. I started with offering phpBB skins and then added IPB
skins to our collection as well.

My guys are the best and work their butt’s off. We offer products that are very high quality. They are tested in all major browsers and tested on both Mac and PC. In this type of business testing your product and then testing it again is a must. Not to mention if you offer bug free items is makes for very happy customers and even more saves time and money because support is basically non-existent.

You HAVE to have a quality product and back that product if you want to be successful.

3) Selling website, blog and forum themes is big business now, what advice would you give someone who wants to be successful in this industry?

– Don’t do it just for the money. If you do then you will not last. You have to have the passion and the means to offer an extremely high quality product. Like I said before… It is ridiculous how many forum skin sites I have seen come and go. When you design a theme bounce it off friends and get their input. Never get to the point where you think everything you create is
the best design ever. Listen to people and their advice. You don’t have to take every piece of advice you get but in the long run you will benefit from it.

Do not get mad at criticism. That is a useful tool and should be listened to. To steal a quote… “Embrace your critics, they show you your flaws”.
You have to have the patience to allow people to get to know you and trust you. And you MUST offer a truly great product and back that product with unheard of support. Also try to be unique. Don’t look at a site and basically copy what they are doing and offer designs that are popular. If you want to stand out from the rest offer something that nobody has seen

4) You run a affiliate program so that others can sell eXtremepixels forum themes and earn commission, how has this impacted on sales?

– I really think that helps a lot. Anytime you can get extra exposure it is a good thing. I have a lot of affiliates that link to the main site and that drives extra traffic. Traffic is key 😉

5) If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what business related advice would you give yourself?

– Don’t sell yourself short… I did not offer anything other than designs for vBulletin. If I had originally offered phpBB and IPB skins as well that would have really impacted sales in a good way.

Also use any free advertising you possibly can. Add your site’s link in your email signature, add your sites URL and a good description in your signature at forums you post at (so long as you do not break their rules). Anytime you get a chance to promote your site for free take advantage of it!

6) Do you think that entrepreneurialism is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?

– Yeah, I’d say it’s in my blood. The day I got my first computer I was hooked. I started digging in and looking at all the folders to see what was what. After that I starting checking out software.

The second I found Photoshop I spent years just playing around and teaching myself how to do things. On a side note some of your best Photoshop work will come via mistakes 😉 I told my wife anybody that puts in this much time working and teaching themselves will someday have to be successful.

7) Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on? (You can name more than one)

– This may sound strange but my answer would have to be generic and I’d say the internet itself. I spend a lot of time checking out various sites and anytime I see something that catches my eye I bookmark it.

Apple in my opinion is a great inspiration. From a marketing standpoint to the way they design their products. Also forums… I visit various graphic design forums and when I see a user post a sweet graphic that blows me away it truly inspires me to figure out how they did that.

I’d say I got my business model mainly at the beginning from vBulletin. You sell a product for a set price… You offer free updates for a year and after that year I allow my customers to use my product forever. However with this type of product updates are always happening/being developed for the core forum software. If my customers wish to have access to another year of updates they simply repurchase the product. Then they get another full year of updates and access to their files.

8) Do you have any favorite business related, internet marketing or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Really I’m lazy when it comes to marketing. I rely on my products to speak for themselves.

If you are a graphic designer any book by http://www.friendsofed.com  is a must read. I also subscribe to a number of design and computer magazines. http://www.computerarts.co.uk/ is one of them I love. Also in this day and age you can get “tons” of info from websites. Anything from CSS tips to design tips. There are tons of forums and websites out there.

9) What is the best advice you have ever been given?

– Be patient, be honest, offer a truly great product and by all means do NOT give up.10) What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

– Work your ass off, don’t get frustrated, give it time and offer a quality item (regardless of what you are offering).

Another quote I think I am stealing 😉 “If you always do what you have always done you will always be where you are right now” I’m sure I changed the quote up but it’s something like that! 🙂

11) How many hours do you work daily and what are your daily tasks for your sites?

– Now that we are fully established it varies. There are nights I spend 5 minutes just checking my support forums and other nights I’ll be on anywhere from 4-8 hours. If I am creating a new design I’ll spend a lot of hours tweaking it and getting it just right. I’ve been known to spend hours just playing around trying to find the perfect color to match an item. Yes, I
have issues 😉12) If the Internet had not existed – what do you think you would be doing?

– Actually I have a full time job. I am a product and standards inspector so I’d be doing that… I would just have less money coming in 😉13) What do you like best about the Internet?

– The fact that you can truly find anything you want. From business tips to tutorials to sites you can just waste hours at.14) What do you like least about the Internet?

– Anybody with Photoshop or any piece of graphic design software can pretend to be a designer. I hate the fact that people think they can steal from you. The amount of fraud that takes place is unreal. There are losers out there trying to cheat business and good people by phishing schemes.  Some people just need a good hobby and need to find better things to do.15) Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?

– I “may” be offering my designs for other popular forum software and expanding that area. This is something I have to research more. I never do custom design work. However I just partnered with a company to do custom designs for me. I think this will be a great additional service.

Goals… Really my goal is to just keep plugging away. If you stop you get stale and I really never want to reach that point.


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