Interview with Joe Howard and Nathan Wrigley
So today on the WP Builds Weekly WordPress Podcast, we have Joe Howard from WP Buffs.
WP Buffs is a growing WordPress website management and support service business. They take care of all the sites that you’d rather have someone else manage.
You know doubt heard of this kind of business model in the past. You might even be a customer of theirs, or perhaps one of their competitors. And that’s kind of the point of the podcast today.
Five years ago, Joe Howard, the guest of the podcast today and the founder of WP Buffs, saw that managing other people’s WordPress websites was an area of growth. More WordPress websites were being created, and many agencies wanted to hand the burden of keeping them updated, backed up and safe, to other people.
Thing is, other people saw this opportunity too. Competition in this space is fierce. I’m sure that you can think of a bunch of different companies who are in this space, and many of them have been around longer than WP Buffs. So that causes a problem. How do you get your business noticed in a market that already has some substantial players?
Joe’s answer: content.
You go out there and do the hard work of finding out what it is that people are searching for. You then create content tailored to those searches. What you don’t do is create a whole ton of content that you think / assume people are interested in; perhaps they will be, but most likely you’ll get a greater return on your time if you do the research up front.
So Joe and his team were finding the questions that most people had around the WordPress space. What things were repeatedly being asked? What questions were people frequently needing answers to?
Once you know what people are struggling with, you can create content which answers those questions, and you’ve got yourself a pretty reliable stream of traffic.
Now, this might not be the content that you’d personally choose to write (although it may be), but the important distinction here is that it’s not about what you want to write about. It’s about growing the business, and so writing content that the market tells you is needed.
It might also be that this strategy does not pay off overnight – in fact I’d be really shocked if it did. You need to be in this for the long haul.
You need to write content which is good enough to rank on Google, but you also have to play the SEO game and write often. Make the search engines see you as the go-to place for all things WordPress.
In Joe’s case it’s worked. He was able to get the traffic that he desired and then make the WP Buffs upsell to the people visiting the helpful content that they’d created. Many people come, and some will be persuaded by your offer, not all, but some. And that’s key… the more content you create, the more authority you have. The more authority you have, the more people who will come to your website. The more people who come to your website, the more upsells you can show. The more upsells you can show, the greater the chance that you’ll convert some of them to your service.
It’s a self fulfilling cycle, but it requires the tenacity to keep going and realise that each piece of hard-written content is another brick in the wall; a brick that is shoring up your business.
So find out on the WP Builds podcast today how in five years Joe has made this strategy work for him. From side gig, to thriving company with dozens of employees.
You’ll also hear about the fact that the WP Buffs content strategy has changed over time. Blog posts are one things, but there’s more to content than writing. WP Buffs now does podcasts, videos, and virtual events.
It’s an interesting chat about how hard work can pay off even in a field that seems like it might already be full up!
The audio was recorded on a day in which Joe was at home with his family, and we get little glimpses of that in the background!
If you have anything to add them please comment below, or go to the WP Builds Facebook Group and comment over there – look out for the thread for episode #223.
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Transcript (if available)
These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.
Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.
[00:00:21] Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once again, this is episode number 223. Entitled how we built the WP Buffs business. It was published on Thursday, the 1st of April, 2021. My name's Nathan Wrigley and a few bits of housekeeping before we begin head over to WP Builds.com. Perhaps even WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe over there.
[00:00:46] You're going to find all of the content that we produce. That's a podcast episode. That's what you're listening to. Now. Every Thursday, we alternate, we do an interview episode, which is what's happening today. And then every other week I have a chat with David Waumsley about something in the WordPress business.
[00:01:02] And then on a Monday, I do a live with. Paul Lacey, we call it this week in WordPress and we have some notable WordPress guests on, and we talk for about an hour and a half about the WordPress news for the previous week. And then I repurpose that as a YouTube video and a podcast episode all comes out on a Tuesday morning at 7:00 AM, UK time.
[00:01:21] If you'd like to keep in touch with all that we do head over to WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe. There are links for things like our YouTube channel. There's also some email lists that you can hop onto to be informed about the content that we create. There's things like a Twitter
[00:01:35] feed and also there's ways to subscribe on your favorite podcast player.
[00:01:40] But perhaps the easiest way to do that is just to search for WP Builds. Another thing to mention is WP Builds.com forward slash deals. It's a page which has a bunch of WordPress deals on, they don't seem to expire, but if you're in the market for something this week, head over to that page and you might be able to get yourself a decent amount of with one of the coupon codes.
[00:02:01] That's WP Builds.com. Forward slash deals. And finally, each week we have an advertiser which helps us to put on the WP Builds podcast. And we're very appreciative. And this week we have to starting off with cloud ways. Cloud ways is a managed cloud hosting platform that ensures simplicity, performance and security.
[00:02:22] It offers cloud service from five different cloud providers that you can manage through its intuitive platform. Some of the features include 24 seven support free migrations and dedicated firewalls. You can find out [email protected] and we're also helped out this week by AB split test. Do you want to set up your AB split test in record time?
[00:02:45] Like in a couple of minutes, use your existing pages and test anything against anything else. Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything. And the best part is that it works with element or Beaver builder in the WordPress block editor. You can check it out and get a free [email protected] Okay then onto the main portion of the podcast today, episode number 223, how we built the WP Buffs business.
[00:03:11] I talked to Joe Howard today, all about WP Buffs. Why you decided to start it five years ago. It's a really interesting story. Starting off with him working too. Jobs at the same time, more or less than growing it in his spare time. It's grown. I think there's roughly about 40 staff there now. So he's done a great job and we talk about the content strategy that he's had over that time, producing massive amounts of content and figuring out exactly what people in the WordPress space are looking for and then producing content around those points.
[00:03:40] Then diversifying that into a YouTube channel and a podcast and a live event. So there's absolutely loads going on over it. WP Buffs. And Joe's here to tell us how he did it. I hope that you enjoy the podcast. Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. We've got an interview today with Joe Howard.
[00:04:00] How are you doing Joe and Joe's family.
[00:04:05] Nathan I'm doing well, man, I cannot complain. We were just chatting before we started recording here and you saw my background and you were like, Oh, that you look like you need a fan where you are like, you must be somewhere warm and yes. In Mexico this winter.
[00:04:18]I'm definitely have nothing to complain about. The weather is nice and. We're staying safe and not going to any big gatherings or anything like that, but it is warm here. So that is definitely a positive, I think, highly jealous because the word warmth and Britain during the winter, don't really go together.
[00:04:32] We're recording this towards the end of January. It'll air a little bit later than that, but we've got Joe on today because. If you haven't come across, Joe, I suspect that in the next year or two, you will come across Joe on the endeavors that he's having in the WordPress space, because there are many of them.
[00:04:48]And that's what this podcast is going to be about. It's going to be about what Joe is up to, what businesses involved in, what he started. And this there's a lot to talk about. So first of all, very brief introduction. Do you want to just give us an overarching overarching. Guide into what it is that you do in the WordPress community.
[00:05:03] And then we'll drill down into each of those component parts one at a time. Yeah, let's do it. So most people probably, if they know anything about me, it's that I run this company called WP Buffs and we are a website and management company. So we have folks coming to us folks who have put websites together, business owners, startups, entrepreneurs, they put a WordPress site together and then say, Oh my goodness, I have to worry about the security and the speed.
[00:05:32] And the, I have to do all these updates. I have to make all these changes and like what PHP version of my own. And like, how do I configure this hosting thing? And it's just like a mess. So they come to us and we do 24, seven website management for them in essence. So they can focus on, the growth of their website, their community, their audience, et cetera.
[00:05:48] And we'll, manage all the technical aspects of the website. And then there's also the white label program. So we work with some agencies and freelancers and also some hosting companies as well in the WordPress space folks who they want to offer 24 seven support to their clients. To do that, you got to build out a team.
[00:06:04] You got to know 24 seven supports a whole it's a whole new level of support than just to go from, a few website edits here and there. Folks can plug into our ecosystem and yeah. Offer 24 seven support directly to their clients through us. Yeah, that was the kind of art.
[00:06:18] That's the two that's. Those are the two big offerings at WP Buffs. And that's what most people know me for. And then, there's podcast and. Virtual summit stuff, which I'm also happy to talk about. Yeah. I'd like to get into that as well. Let's stay with WP Boston. How many years has that been around?
[00:06:33] Because it feels like this is a space where there are some big players. The competition is quite strict in this area. So I'm just wondering, when did you begin it? Was it your baby? Did you start it with somebody else? How long ago? Yeah. So it was a solo founder five years ago, or so maybe five and a half years ago now.
[00:06:49]Yeah, and it is this somewhat competitive space, like the world of care plans and. Standalone care plan and subscription support. WordPress businesses has definitely, grown as the years have gone by it's actually one of the reasons why I jumped into it in the first place, I actually saw a lot of competition in the space and I was like, great.
[00:07:10]I don't have to do a proof of concept or anything. Like clearly other people are. Running businesses in this space. And and they're running successful businesses doing this. So that concept has proven already. It allowed me to to jump in without necessarily having to ask the question are people going to.
[00:07:26] Yeah, give me money for this. Are people gonna, give me their credit card information? I figured the answer was yes. And everything else turned out. All right. That's a good point. Yeah. Why always have to seek out a new market? So all those years ago, five years ago, when you began this by yourself, were you working within a company at that point?
[00:07:42] Were you a freelancer? How did it all happen? Yeah, I was one of those people in the weird space who was, I had a full-time job. I was I grew up in Washington, DC, and then I came back to Washington, DC to teach high school math for a couple of years after. College and ended up going from teaching to doing a bunch of different kind of odd jobs.
[00:08:08] But I ended up doing I was a federal government consultant which is like a very. D C job. But it was it was a full-time job that paid very well, but it like, it wasn't a job I liked at all. So it was I was at that stage, a lot of people find themselves in, or they're during a job that pays pretty well and it's comfortable, but it's not something I wanted to do as a career at all.
[00:08:31]But I'd been involved in WordPress and I've been, building websites and helping to people with the rest of the geo and that kind of stuff, on the side as a freelancer. And yeah. At some point, just yeah, sorry. There's a little baby in the background too. So if anybody here's Morrison he's he's probably just getting a little frustrated with us who knows what but yeah, ended up switching gears from, a full-time job that didn't like very much and just moving straight into WordPress after starting WP Buffs and doing it on the side for about nine months to 12 months doing it in my, in the five to nine outside of the nine to five. And then it got to the point where it was making a little bit of money and it was not going to get anywhere close to replacing my full-time salary.
[00:09:12] But. To me, that was the most important part was getting out of that other job. I didn't like and doing something, being able to honestly like work in the WordPress community. Full-time like with this great community of people, I love, people like unit than a bunch of my friends in the WordPress space.
[00:09:25]It's great. I get an excuse to hang out with all these people all the time and like work alongside them all the time. Great life. So that was my big goal. And yeah, so that was what brought me into the WordPress space and starting WP Buffs. Yeah. So how does it, how do you ramp one up?
[00:09:38]If the day job is it's binary, you're either doing it or you're not doing it, it's on or off. And presumably you must've been ramping up WP Buffs at the same time that you were actually doing your full-time job at what. What was the marker for you? The moment that you thought, okay, that's finally, I've reached the milestone.
[00:09:53] This is it. I can quit over there and concentrate on WP Buffs. If I were to put a number on it, it was probably when we were at about $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Got it. I can't remember if that was exactly what it is, but that's that's what I usually say is like my guiding, if I'm.
[00:10:12] Giving someone advice on like when they should move from, a full-time job into their side gig at what financial point does it make sense? Obviously it's dependent on different contexts and everybody has a different level of comfort. But to me, I wanted something at least somewhat proven before I went and tried to do it.
[00:10:29] Full-time so to me, like once you hit five figures a month in recurring revenue, I was like, okay Theoretically, if I can get to five figures, it can get to six figures and then eventually to seven figures. So it's like it's yeah. Again, going back to that kind of like proof of concept idea. I was just like, this is, this can be a real business.
[00:10:46]I think let's go for it. And yeah. I, the, my full-time now as an employer, it's very interesting looking back because I did not work very hard at my other job because I wasn't super passionate about it. But as an employer now, it really does help me. Realize how important it is to have motivated employees, to have people who are really want to be part of our team who want to be part of our mission, who want to like really work alongside the other people here and have each other's backs.
[00:11:15] And I didn't feel that in my old job. And so while I was technically working in that job, most of the day, if I took an hour off here or there to go help a client with my new business, like no one would say anything because it was such as big kind of disjointed organization. I may have.
[00:11:31]Here and there to get a little bit of work done on my other business. But I like to spin it positively and say, Hey, that was just my entrepreneurial sense. And that's what you gotta do. You gotta, go and put a little extra into side projects if you're going to make it work. But I've got to say it's an impressive, you tell it like it was just wash off a Duck's back.
[00:11:49] It was a fairly easy thing to do, but that's an impressive milestone, $10,000 a month sitting as a side business is what many people would regard as, a fairly successful career. And yet you've got these two things coinciding for a period of time. I think that's amazing. How did you discover.
[00:12:07] The clients, the people who were making use of your side project, WP Buffs, as it was at the time, a side project, how did you go out and find them? Because I know that you said that you may have taken the occasional hour off, but there must've been more to it than that. Presumably there was, lots of evenings and late nights and all of that stuff.
[00:12:26] Yeah, definitely. And you make, you made a good point that it seems like I was doing a lot with a full-time job and like a $10,000 MRR business on the side. I also want to be clear that's not like $10,000 of profit of the business at that point. It's not like 10,000 hours of going right into my bank account.
[00:12:43] And I'm just like, Oh, this is an easy side business, that was going into funding a lot of. The the team members who are working on the development side of things to pay for new content that I wanted to put on the website still to this day we're more than 10 times as big as we were at that time.
[00:13:00] And we still reinvest a lot of our revenue and a lot of our profits back into the business. But definitely at that time, it's not like that was, $10,000 on my paycheck, far from him. But the. This is probably why it took, nine to 12 months for me to go full-time on it is because it required, a certain level of.
[00:13:23] The ability to acquire new customers or new clients predictably. It wasn't like one month we get 10, the next month we get one. The next month we get, eight, the next month we get one again, we really invested heavily in. And that was my decision in the early days to invest pretty heavily in content.
[00:13:41] And, a lot of WordPress folks that see a lot of WordPress blogs around, competing in SEO and trying to, rank well for certain searches that people need help with. They want to they want to find a calendar plugin or, Hey, I need a, my SSL is throwing me a mixed content warning.
[00:14:00] How do I fix that? And so that was. A big focus of ours in the early days to drive new customers. And as anybody who's done, any SEO knows you, you can't just try and rank for keywords with a new website. And then just rank in the top three positions, after just like a week of trying to do that, it takes time has a snowball effect of that, but really does take time to see results.
[00:14:26] And after about probably three to six months of pretty hard work. We started to see like pretty predictable traffic come through to the website. Obviously most of those people read the article and then they leave. And maybe a lot of those people you never hear from again, but some, Hey, they book a call with you some, Hey, they join your email list.
[00:14:43]And so we were able to work down that acquisition funnel of, okay, we got traffic. Now let's book culture in that traffic now let's grab, put people on our email list and then, Oh, we'll give them some free stuff and they'll love us. And then eventually they'll book a call and obviously it's more complicated, a little more complicated than that, but at the end of the day, that's in essence what it is.
[00:15:02] And so that's what we've built on. To get us to where we are today was the content marketing was like the big start we had and still serves us pretty well. Yeah. That is really interesting because in a sense when people are listening to this podcast, if you haven't come across WP Buffs, I highly recommend that you just polls.
[00:15:19] Go to WP boss.com. And some of the other things which we'll talk about later and in a sense you feel almost like you're a kind of WordPress media organization. The amount of content that you're producing is phenomenal. And so it's really really. Delighted to hear that a strategy such as that managed to pay off, because, you can imagine doing that same strategy half-heartedly and you basically get nowhere.
[00:15:42] And so there's business that you're trying to build up. The WP buff service, just flails around not getting the traction, but you really did go soup to nuts. There's blog posts about literally everything you must've really cast your net wide and deep. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, if people check out just WP buss.com forward slash blog, you'll see, hundreds of articles there about all sorts of different topics.
[00:16:12]And really all it. It takes us a little bit of keyword research. You go out there and there are lots of tools out there. Like I'm a big fan of H refs. There's like tools like SEM rush, but you plug some, information in around WordPress. Oh, Hey, people are searching for SSLs.
[00:16:28] Certificates ha you know how to fix my SSL certificate. And Hey, it looks like this gets a pretty good amount of volume and but it doesn't look like there's a ton of competition for this keyword. So if I write, a 2000 word blog posts, that's really not just about the length, but it's about that quality.
[00:16:44] Like I really have either I know a lot about this topic or I can, hire a writer who can write about this topic who can really read an in-depth blog post about it. Eventually you can, do some good on-page SEO, get some good, make sure your title tags are solid.
[00:16:59] Your header tags are good. You've got your image. Alt tags figured out meta descriptions all set up. Maybe there's a little bit of off page SEO. You do. Maybe you have some other friends in the WordPress space who can, help and maybe, Hey. Maybe you have a friend named Nathan who can get you on a podcast in the show notes, he'll include a link to your website.
[00:17:18]So there's there's obviously a lot you can do there. And I just skipped over like literally 99% of SEO, but to keep it simple. The ability to find good keywords, even if you're a starting a blog starting off is it's a definitely a good way to, to start driving traffic.
[00:17:35] And then you're also when you drive traffic through a blog posts like that. Hey, if someone's looking to fix their SSL certificate, clearly they're interested in security at some level. So Hey, we offer security optimization under our care plan. So that's a good, transition for them to say I was searching for this thing.
[00:17:52] It seems like there's a high chance or high likelihood that they might be interested in a care plan in which we would, fix that mixed content issue for them and manage their security and SSL certificate on an ongoing basis. And so that's that British that we're trying to get there. And Yeah.
[00:18:07] In essence outworks, the the content that you produce then I'm curious to know, because obviously I haven't read every single thing that you've produced. Do you go for a, how to describe this? Do you go for, are like a more beginner level blog post? In other words, you're not dealing with the really technical ins and outs of writing a plugin or have you, because presumably the kind of people that you're after the audience that you're trying to gather in are the people who.
[00:18:30]Would require your help. Ultimately you write the posts to maximize the chance that the audience that you're getting for those blog posts are going to turn around and use your service. Would that be fair to say. Yeah, that is very fair to say. And I would even, I would go a step further and say, this is probably the most important aspect of content marketing.
[00:18:51] Maybe I wouldn't say the most, one of the most important aspects of content marketing that people don't think enough about before they write a piece of content. And I'll give you a good example of this. One of our. Highest traffic blog posts is around like how to edit the code of your WordPress website.
[00:19:07]We probably drive 15,000 unique visitors a month just to this blog post. I can't remember the exact number. It's most single traffic to blog post on our website. Which is great. It gives good signifiers to Google that, Hey, there's a lot of traffic coming to this site.
[00:19:23]That's good. Theoretically, that's a good thing, but it's actually. Not a very good thing. The reason is because that blog post actually converts very poorly into people, clicking through to second pages on our website, are people joining our email list. Most people who want to edit the code of their websites, that is the target of that piece of content is actually more of a like developer type or more of a the persona of someone who knows WordPress already.
[00:19:51]Maybe. Doesn't convert well, for that reason, maybe people aren't as interested in a care plan. Cause they're like, I just wanted to come to learn how to edit this one piece of code on my website. I wasn't, the care plan is a little bit more of a jump for me. And so it actually doesn't give great signals to Google because Hey, there time on page may not be as good.
[00:20:10]The rate of people which go to who or who go to a click through a second or third page on our website is not good. The bounce rate may be a little high This is why it's important to when you're writing content and like putting a content calendar together, or choosing keywords to go after, in terms of SEO, you want to target your ideal customer.
[00:20:29] Very specifically, people who maybe want to edit the source code may not be our ideal customer, but people who are in a search for non-technical guide to speed up my my WordPress website or how do I improve core web vitals on for my WordPress website. That's like a newer thing that Google's, putting a big push on.
[00:20:47] And so we have a blog post up about core web vitals for Google. How do you do that? And because you think when people go and read that, they'll also say, This is complicated. I want WP Buffs to manage my website and manage, improving core web vitals for me. And that will that means that when people come to read that content, they will take next steps from it.
[00:21:08] They'll click through to more pages. They'll click to book a call. It'll send good good signals to Google. That will tell Google, Oh, Hey, people are obviously like getting good value out of this content. They're ranked number five right now for this keyword, but I'm going to bump them up to number two, the number two spot, because clearly they're answering the question better than those other blog posts.
[00:21:27] So that piece is important too, just to make sure that when you're writing content, not just to go after the High volume, low competition keywords, but you want to go after keywords that are have a good a higher volume to competition ratio, but that also are very targeted at the exact kind of people you want to come to your blog and potentially.
[00:21:49]Pass along the credit card information to you. Yeah. How's this content strategies changed during that five years. Cause obviously at the beginning, it was about putting out as much content as you possibly could. And try to gather up that audience and become recognized. But now that there's a business there, you've got lots of employees, presumably the word in some sense, there's a, maybe there's a bit of word of mouth going on.
[00:22:09] Maybe you want to. Catch some of the more developer crowd so that you can drag in their agency as opposed to just one off mom and pop store. W WordPress, they've got a single WordPress website. Do you, have you modified the strategy over time? Augumented it made it different, added different formats and so on.
[00:22:28] Yes. The short answer is yes, the content strategy has changed a lot over the past five years. We, we've hired Alec on our team is our head of growth and he manages our content right now. But actually only for the next. What is today, Tuesday for the next four days, we're actually bringing in a head of content who starting on February one.
[00:22:49]Who's literally, their entire job will be they're going to help with email marketing. And but most of it is around the content on the website and just making sure we have a coherent and a coherent content strategy that has as much. Value as humanly possible to our readers and creates a, it makes our blog a destination for people to come on the web when they're looking for WordPress stuff.
[00:23:09]Yeah. Sorry. I'm not I usually wait to make these official announcements until people's first day. Maybe if you check, if people check out on Twitter, they'll, see the a big new face joining the WP bus team probably. During this podcast, so yeah. Yeah. You're totally safe.
[00:23:25]Yeah, we tend to do this slightly in advance. So the a lot of the people that listen to this podcast, the WP Builds on they are freelancers, they're probably quite keen to. Have their own website care business, maintain their own websites and so on because they see that as a good anciliary income to the actual building of the websites.
[00:23:42] But also there's a lot of people who are really disinterested in that, they're plugin developers and theme developers, and they might. They might just be interested in purely building websites and then handing them over. So I'm just curious if you can explain to our what exactly is bundled up in the WP Buffs offering?
[00:23:59] I see on the website, WP boss.com, it says 24 seven WordPress website management and support services, that power business growth. And you touched on it at the beginning, but I'm just wondering if we can go a bit deeper. What are you getting? And the $10,000 question is. How much does it cost? Yeah.
[00:24:17] The like most folks we have different levels that you can come in at. Really depends on people's needs. The. The type of care plan they're gonna come in with. Some were pretty basic and actually pretty automated and really just, they include more we'll do backups for you and maybe some, a little bit of emergency support.
[00:24:40] If something goes wrong. Help with Google analytics, but it's pretty basic. And then we have some more advanced plans that come with, speed and security optimization, and premium plugins included for free under the care plans and stuff like that. Website edits 24 seven website edits and monitoring of the website so that you never have to worry about.
[00:24:58] That goes down at 3:00 AM in the middle of the night. And Hey, we can make changes to the site for you any time. So you don't have to spend an hour. Look into the dashboard for, Oh, how do I change this one little social icon? And like the header of my website. You know how, every like theme, it has a different setup and it's like, where do I find it in this one?
[00:25:15]What a waste of time to spend an hour doing that? But our team, w we're, we know all that stuff. Yeah, the price is, vary from, our lowest level plan maintained plan, $67 a month to. Higher level plans, 400, $500 a month for, fully custom built sites with advanced functionality.
[00:25:31]And yeah, we actually have some new plans launching. This year probably in like quarter to quarter three, but they're the real focus. And I'll talk about just the growth plan right now, but the focus is to give people access to more premium plugins around, collecting email addresses on their website, around.
[00:25:50] Doing better around SEO around doing a better job around email marketing to grow community, to grow an audience, to grow your traffic and eventually to grow the finances, the website. So we're gonna, aiming to launch a growth plan this year to help people do that more it may include, a call every month.
[00:26:07] So with someone who can talk you through some strategies and how to acquire new customers and how to grow your website it may include some add on SEO services as well. So people can really engage in it. Effective SEO campaign. We found that in our past we've we've done a lot of focus on managing the website for people so that they can focus on growing the website.
[00:26:26]But we think the next level of what we can do for people is to help with both. We can help. We can give people all the website management, 24, seven support for the website and also the ability to grow the website. If you can do both those things, that's. That's most of what you need. And so you can not heritage while doing that.
[00:26:44]Exactly. The last and last quick thing, I'll say just around, around pricing is we do give a little discount to our white label partners. So folks who engage us in a white label capacity who maybe have, 20 clients, they sell web they sell, resell our care plans to, they all get a discount off of the pricing of of our websites.
[00:27:04] But the goal there is so that we want our white label partners to do well as well. And if they can resell their, our care plans with a slight markup, they can actually make a little bit of profit on each care plan. And then they can build their recurring revenue. They can build their monthly recurring revenue and their monthly profits and make airplane to real like profit center of their business.
[00:27:23] So that means, it's good for us. We get to manage more care plans. It's good for our white label partners. They get to, make care plans, a profitable part of their business without, Actually dedicating the resources to doing it. Yeah. The clients obviously went to because they get their website managed 24 seven by a solid team.
[00:27:37] There's a whole bunch shift plans over on the plans page. As you might expect, it's WP boss.com forward slash plans, and you can see them all. They're all stacked from the the most affordable option, the most expensive, just staying with the white label option for a moment. On what level is that?
[00:27:52] Are you when you are white labeling, are you able to interact with. Your clients, customers as if it is them, do you have that sort of level or is it a year ago between them you'll fix it, pass it back to your client who then will ultimately pass it back to their client? Or do you take on board the clients of your clients?
[00:28:13] Yeah, our white label program, we work directly with the clients of our white label partners. So we simply put, we take us an email address from our white label partners and we forwarded into our help desk. Yep. And then we're able to add, their signature to every email we send out. They're there.
[00:28:31] It comes from their email address, I'll reply. So their logo is in the signature. And so they give that email address to their clients. They onboard a new care plan and that welcome email says, Hey shoot support emails to [email protected] that comes straight to us.
[00:28:49]And so we're actually able to cut. In a positive sense, allow them not to have to, take customers' emails and then forward them on to us and go through that in that messy way. Of course, we let our white label partners. One, of course they can ask for support too. If they have get a client request and themselves, they can forward that on to our team and their white label inbox.
[00:29:10] And. Hey, can you guys help do this for a client? Of course they can do that. And then of course, white label clients get full access to the backend of that inbox. This is important because a lot of our white label partners like big agencies, they want to, they build websites for people.
[00:29:27]And every three or four years and a client's going to come back and say, Hey, we're ready for a new website. Can you build it for us? And it's important for that agency to have a lot of that historical knowledge of all the stuff that's been done for that client and the stuff we've done for them.
[00:29:40] So they can come in and look up that client. And yeah. And this is true for all the clients have ever sent us email under their white label support inbox. They can come in and they can see a list of all the stuff that's changed. So that when maybe when the agency is writing that proposal, they can say, Hey, here's some big things we did for you this year.
[00:29:56]We, got you set up on WooCommerce and that store got fully set up and it drove this much revenue. And so we think that's a big win. Here's the next big win. Your new website is going to do X, Y, and Z, and that can help people win proposals and. Make deeper connections with their clients as well.
[00:30:10] So yeah, we try to give people full access or whether they are partners, especially full access to all the interactions we've had with their clients, just to make sure because it, it is their data and we want to make sure they have full access to it as well. Just one final point on WP boss.com on the homepage currently.
[00:30:26] I don't know if it'll be the same for long. Not sure you, you really make the point that there are certain. Plugins that you had, I don't know if it's because you have an expertise, particularly with those. Yeah. Or if you're just more comfortable or if it's because you bundle those in some of them with the cost of the care plan.
[00:30:41] But, so for example, I'm looking at, I see the elemental logo, the Beaver builder logo, WooCommerce WPM, you Def smash, I themes WP, rocket Yoast, and so on to name, but a few is that because these are the things that you tend to typically implement because you're. Your expertise surrounds those areas or?
[00:30:59] Yeah. W why those things in particular, on the home page? Yeah, we've partnered with a few companies in the WordPress space that we think, I guess are two reasons. One is we think a lot of the companies who's, plugins we've partnered with to offer they. We think that they're the best in the industry.
[00:31:19]And so we want to use the tools that we think have the best impact for our clients. And of course, for the clients of our white label partners. The second reason is at the size and scale WP Buffs is now we can. We can gather feedback at a rate that is statistically significant. And I guess by that, I just mean we have a lot of clients and what they will partners to talk to.
[00:31:43] And a lot of people who come to our website to ask questions and read our content. And so we can take a lot of data and say, What do people want to use the most? There's, a reason we use WP rocket because it's in our yeah. Opinion, one of the best plugins out there around caching, and it's also something that people want to use.
[00:32:06] And so it was a pretty, in that example, it's a pretty easy decision to make. And yeah we partner with a few plugins in those areas and Those are the reasons why do you support any site? If I say came along with, let's say a site which is not hacked, but with a maelstrom of crazy plugins that nobody's ever heard of before, do you take that sort of stuff on, or do you like kindly request that perhaps for caching, we'll go with WP rocket from now on and for SEO we'll swap out what you've got for Yoast.
[00:32:37] Yeah, we also, we're lucky we're at this point at WP bus where we do not have to accept everybody who comes to us nicely, we actually have evolved into being a little bit more selective about the people we work with for sure as a white label and a white label capacity. But also for direct customers 80.
[00:33:01] Percent 90% of people who work with us, they're going to either be handing over the keys to their website directly, or the keys to the websites of their clients. So both of those are super big deals. So 80 to 90% of people who end up working with us, book a discovery call with us. Nice. So we just got Alexis and Travis and our sales team and they get, 50, 60, 70 calls booked between them a week.
[00:33:23] And so they're talking with a lot of people It's a sales call technically, right? So like we're trying to get people to sign up, but they know very explicitly that their job is also to vet people. And we work with people who are going to have good lifetime values for us. They are gonna, they're gonna stick with us for a long time.
[00:33:42] They don't show us any of the red flags of wanting one-time edits or when can I cancel it? Can I cancel any time? Those are some red flags, so you see we want to work with people who. Obviously have easier websites to manage and work with us over the long-term. But we've, we, our mission is to create unforgettable experiences for people and positive impacts in every community that we are a part of.
[00:34:04] So we never want to lose that mission. And so if someone comes to us with a pretty wrecked website and, we'll do everything we can to make sure that we get their website back up and running, but we want to also find a happy medium between customers that are going to be the best fit for us.
[00:34:22]And Hey there, there are honestly like we, in our, our first year in business, we accepted every client that came to us because we needed the revenue. We wanted to figure out who we were and what kind of work we were going to do. And so we're, and I think that there's actually a benefit to us saying we don't think you're actually the right.
[00:34:40] Fit for us at this time, but here are three other. Care plan companies that would, that may be a better fit for you. And those companies may be, they may be WP Buffs three years ago or four years ago. And they may want to take on that work, even if it's not the easiest work, because it's good for them to go through that challenges and some of those growing pains so that they can.
[00:34:58] They can learn the same things we did. And so that they can get a little bit of revenue in the door to continue growing themselves when we don't necessarily need that revenue. So we don't take on everyone, but I think there's actually a benefit to that and passing those people along to people who maybe that revenue is going to be more important for them.
[00:35:13] Yeah, it's a sign of a maturing business. Isn't it? When you realize who your ideal customer is, and you suddenly don't have to accept everybody even though, it's going to be a powder keg and a problem, six months from now. It's I didn't totally understand that. Speaking of the growing team, as you just did, one of the questions, which I would, you just occur to me actually, if.
[00:35:31] Let's say, for example, I live in Australia and a site that I've got with you, let's say it's a white label site goes down. Can your team deal with Australia as well as New York? What I'm trying to say is, are you globally? You spread out in 24, seven. Yes, 24 seven. We've got folks in, man. I don't even know how many times I wish I had a good, I wish I had a cool number to say it in this podcast, but I honestly, I don't.
[00:35:57]But we've I think we've got about 30 plus folks on the team now. So we cover, every conceivable. Time zone of people around the world when they need support. We've always got people developers and engineers in the desk for if a website goes down or something bad happens, or if someone needs something updated or changed on their website proactively.
[00:36:17]And so yes, if people, if there are folks listening to this podcast in Australia we've got it. Team strong team in Asia some folks from Australia, some folks from the Philippines, so yeah, the ability to work. Yeah. 24 seven is something that it was, it's a challenge.
[00:36:36] I'm not gonna, beat around the Bush. It was a challenge for us to successfully grow a 24 seven support team. Not just with, five people on the team, but with, double digits team members on the team. It's it's a big, it was a big challenge, but that's one of our biggest selling points I think is that we've cracked that.
[00:36:54] We've cracked that nut in terms of running a strong 24 seven team. And Andy, Nick and Dean are the two people I give the biggest credit to for that. Nick is our chief operations officer. Dean is our head of customer success. Those two have worked tirelessly to, and of course, all of our engineering team but Nick and Dean have been the quarterbacks behind strategy around what we need to do to make that a reality.
[00:37:18]And those two get do get enormous credit for helping us to, to really, you know what, from what I can tell, be one of the leaders in the industry in Trenton, in terms of 24 support. Let's pivot a little bit, because you were mentioning at the start that there's various other ventures that you're into.
[00:37:34] I'm wondering if, because you mentioned a lot at the beginning about the content strategy that you had in order to grow the business. I'm wondering how much of this is just for fun though, because you've got other projects which notable projects, especially things that have happened last year. So I'm going to point everybody to w P M r.com.
[00:37:52]And over there, you're going to find the w P M R, sorry, M R virtual summit, which was an online event, which took place last year. That must have been a lot of fun, but also want to point everybody to the same website only forward slash podcast, because that's another string to your bow. It seems as of speaking, we're 130 episodes in good grief.
[00:38:12] There's a, there's an ugly chapter down at the bottom there. Episode 115. Good Lord, he should be removed. Are these like, are these content strategy projects to swell the coffers of the business? Or is this just something a bit like me in all honesty, you're just doing it for a bit of fun. Yeah, I think there's a little bit of both.
[00:38:32]So we talked about our content strategy, at WP we'll have seen, we talked a little bit about how that's evolved over the years. And one of the things we've recently, about six months ago, we started was new YouTube channel. And so because video is getting so big, honestly, we lag behind in video.
[00:38:51] Like we had just not done a lot of video content because you just didn't really have. The expertise in house. And then yeah, I hired Allie Nimmons is our community manager. Allie. I apologize if you're go by your new last name now, Allie just got married a little later last year. Allie, w I will just stick with Elliot Nimmons for now because that's what people in the WordPress space know.
[00:39:10] Whereas Allie, as a new community manager turns out she's just like a Jack of all trades. She was like, I'd love to help out with some YouTube stuff. And I was like, perfect, let's start a YouTube channel. And she is if you go to WP Buffs.com forward slash YouTube, it redirects right there started a YouTube channel to supplement a lot of the content we'd already written.
[00:39:27]Some people want to read blog posts, but now in tons of our blog posts, you've got embedded YouTube videos. So people who are don't necessarily want to read a whole video, but Hey, you want to watch a seven minute video on how to a tutorial on how to do something, got a videos for you as well.
[00:39:42] Yeah. And so with those two else, we also said there's a bunch of other stuff we can put on YouTube as well. We can throw podcasts, the WP MRR, WordPress podcasts. We'll do video as well. We've been recording the video for a hundred plus episodes. We haven't really done anything with them.
[00:39:57] Okay. Let's start putting them on the YouTube channel as well. So people can watch in that medium too. And yeah, we WP mrr.com. If there's a podcast, there's a virtual summit. Our whole idea behind it is as we want to, we do want to give back to the community as well. And so we've Ben big believers in a long time that there's a really cool intersection between.
[00:40:22] WP WordPress and MRR monthly recurring revenue. And so helping people to grow businesses in the WordPress space specifically subscription related businesses or subscription focused businesses. And yeah, WP mrr.com is the virtual summit. We did our first annual virtual summit, I guess it was just like, You can't really call it an annual summit until you've done it a second time, but it will.
[00:40:44] We also, we have plans to do it this year, so we'll do a second annual in 2021. But all of the previous videos one, it was a free summit, so people can attend for free. All it takes is a quick registration and We also put all the previous talks up from previous years up on YouTube for free as well.
[00:41:04]And so people can, if you go to WP mrr.com, there's a big button at the top, which says watch the 20, 20 summit videos and people can go straight there. Yeah, and also to answer your question, do we do this for fun or do we do this, for a financial benefit or for growth benefit of WP Buffs?
[00:41:19]I think it's, there's some of both, I think we, I think we can do both. I think that's where the sweet spot is. We can do a free summit and. And, we donated like, a thousand dollars to lawyers for good government through registrations for the summit. Which was awesome.
[00:41:33] So we can do some good in the world. And we can literally throw an entire free event for, a thousand people. And after that, if some of those. People happen to be freelancers or whether they were partners and they sign up as one of our weldable partners. That's great. That's obviously good for us in terms of growing the company, but we can, give free, awesome content away for people.
[00:41:54]And maybe a few of those people join eventually WP Buffs or maybe there'll become WP Buffs affiliates or something, I don't know, but. I think that our primary goal is to have positive impacts and create these unforgettable experiences for people. And then the rest follows along in terms of any financial benefit or stuff.
[00:42:12] It really is a pretty impressive array though. You've got the business itself, which seems to be going. Like the clappers. And then you've got this virtual event, which you're going to run again, and I know how much effort goes into putting these virtual events on, because WP boss, thank you very much.
[00:42:29] Joe was a sponsor of the page builder summit, which we put on towards the end of last year. It's not a, it's not an inconsequential task. So a real hat tip for me that you managed to keep this kind of. Train of content creation. You've got your blog posts, you've got a summit, you've got a YouTube channel.
[00:42:47] You've got a podcast. None of it seems to miss a beat. It just keeps on trucking. I think it's really impressive. And as you say it's okay. I think to have the mode, the modus operandi being that you're going to put all this free content out. And if some people come and join WP Buffs and help that business thrive at the same time.
[00:43:06] Yeah. All the better. So Bravo for all that you do. It's amazing. Yeah. Thank you, man. I appreciate that. I mostly, we've been doing a few more like sponsorships and stuff like that, and I think there's a lot of conversations in the WordPress space around like how much return on investments you really get from a sponsorship.
[00:43:23]How effective is it really to sponsor word camps and things like that. And I feel very fortunate at this point that I can. That we can do a good amount of sponsorships for your summit and for a word camps and making sure people get free tickets to stuff. Obviously now during COVID, now all WordPress events are free and digital, but when they're in person, we can make sure people get free tickets to go and stuff like that.
[00:43:50]Or very inexpensive tickets to go. And so it's, it is. I feel very lucky that we're at the point where honestly, I don't have to think as much about the quote unquote return on investment. I get for sponsoring. I can get an email from you, Nathan being like, Hey, you understood. And like joining the sponsorship team it'd be cool to have you.
[00:44:13] And all I really have to think is. I like Nathan, and Nathan's a cool guy. This event seems cool. Let's support it. And that's it like, there's some, we want to measure the ROI at some point and see what that is, but I feel lucky that. It's not, the decider as much as it was when we were, a smaller business.
[00:44:34] And we had to really be very careful about what we were investing in. Cause he wanted to make sure we had a return on investment. Now we have a little bit more financial flexibility and it's it's nice little. It is nice to have. And I think more and more. Certainly over the last 12 months, the, all of these events going online, some of them probably have, fairly modest audiences.
[00:44:52] Some of them have really enormous potential audiences. And it's just really nice that people such as yourself and other companies in the WordPress space have been able to make those events happen, make them worthwhile for the people putting them on. And like you say, not having the ROI as the only.
[00:45:07] Thoughts in your head. So yeah, again, once again, thank you from Anshan and myself for sponsoring the page builder summit. One final thought it appears that. WordPress is meteoric rise to 40% of the world's internet. Websites is about to be smashed through. It may have happened by the time we're actually saying these words and it's put out on the podcast.
[00:45:28] I get, I'm guessing that you're very bullish about the future of WP Buffs. It feels like you've got a really thriving business and in a business area, which is growing just your thoughts on the future, the next 12 months, two years, whatever you want to do of WordPress. Yeah, I love these conversations. We've had many conversations around growing WordPress market share and just the WordPress economy in general and where it's going on, the WP MRR, WordPress podcasts.
[00:45:57]I'm always game to, to dive into this stuff. I think that, yeah, I'm pretty bullish on it. I think that I don't know if I can put it better than you just did. WordPress space is so it's so enormous. There are so many WordPress websites out there that are built on WordPress that are, a potential pool of.
[00:46:20] Customers, whether they're direct customers or white label partners is based on our scale right now. Like it's in essence unlimited. And so there's so much room to grow. If we had in 10 years we probably still won't have taken a significant bite out of it. In addition to that, it's pretty stable because I think we're good press is as an open source technology built by a, a group of about a thousand to 2000 people and contributors and community members.
[00:46:50]This is not something that it's likely overnight we'll lose a ton of market share or disappear overnight and somehow get taken over, market share wise by Squarespace and Wix and Shopify. There's if I think about what WP Buffs is dependent on a lot. And what if something we were to work in, goes away, what would we do?
[00:47:15] And I feel, I, if I feel like if I'm going to make a big bet, it's going to be. On WordPress open source software, and it's going to be on the WordPress community to continue to power it and push it forward. Of course there's some risks to that. There's always a risk analysis you need to do, and everything has risks, but I think that I'm pretty comfortable with the risk being taken on Continuing to not just be like the Buffs.
[00:47:43] We are WordPress Buffs. We explicitly work with WordPress and I'm happy to continue to do that for the foreseeable. Yeah. I just fail it's although the numbers seem ridiculous, when you say. 40% of the, let's just say the internet for want of a better word. 40% of the internet. Wasn't running on one platform even five years ago.
[00:48:02] That seemed completely unthinkable. And I don't have that chart in front of me, but that chart must be quite an impressive thing to look at. I feel so secure in WordPress. I feel it's got a really bright future. I think anybody who's got a WordPress business who is currently doing okay out of WordPress, has it.
[00:48:18] Every reason to believe that future is going to continue. We have our ups and downs. We have initiatives that come along that kind of upset the Apple cart. And some people go off and fork the project and other people enjoy what's going on, but there's just always an alternative if something, yeah.
[00:48:33]If something comes along and you don't like it, there's probably somebody currently inventing a way to overcome that problem. I'm so delighted to be in the WordPress space, not just for the fact that I think the software's great, but the community, all the events that are going on, I'm just hoping that in 2021, we can finally put all of this zoom events and all of that stuff behind us and start once again, to meet in real life.
[00:48:57] And if that were to be the case, I should be coming to find you a word camp at some point in the future. I hope so, Nathan, I'm super enjoyed jumping on like podcasts like this, and honestly just like having calls with people because I miss people, I do a nine I'm pretty straight. I'm pretty good.
[00:49:14] Like I've been working remotely for a long time. Like I'm fine. Hanging out with people on video and Not seeing people in, in real life, over longer periods of time in between WordCamps camps and stuff, but like it's been a year and I miss, I really cannot wait to step into, Even, it doesn't even have to be a word camp Europe or word camp us, or word camp Asia.
[00:49:34] Like I'm excited for those two, but it can be my local, the first word camp I ever went to work camp Lancaster with 150 people. They're a small intimate community. And I really cannot wait until I can go. And just man, give my fellow WordPress people a hug, including you, Nathan. Yeah.
[00:49:49] Just hanging out. I owe you a hug. That's nice. Thank you so much. The for now though, we're stopping okay. In the virtual world. And that being the case, what's the best way that people can find you, Joe Twitter handle, email address, whatever works for you. Let us know. I am on Twitter, although I'm not super active and I'm like pretty defensive over my like time spent on social media.
[00:50:14] Like I don't spend a ton of time on it because it's not like an energy ad or for me, it's a takes away from my energy. But if you tweeted me, like I'll eventually see it and probably like it or tweet back at you. So I'm just at Joseph H. Howard. We're. WP Buffs, which is just WP Buffs.com, WP MRR, WP mrr.com.
[00:50:34]Yeah, if you any other social links, if you want, check out our like remote team, Instagram account or YouTube channel, all those links are in the footers of websites. You just scroll right to the bottom. You can find everything there. I will be sure to post all of those things into our show notes, Joe Howard, thank you for joining us on the podcast today.
[00:50:52] Thanks for having me, Nathan. It's been a blast. I hope that you enjoy that. A fascinating story, really interesting. The idea of building a business, largely out of creating content that you already know people would like to consume because you've done your SEO, keyword research and so on, and then diversifying that, creating online events and creating a podcast just to.
[00:51:13] Bolster the message and build up a team over time. Really fascinating. I hope that you enjoyed it. It's episode number 223. And if you've got any comments, please head over to WP Builds.com. Look for that episode in our archive and give us some commentary in the comments below the main podcast piece, and also join us over in our Facebook group.
[00:51:33] WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook. And you could also search for that thread cause we'll be sure to have it there as well. The WP build's podcast was brought to you today by cloud wise, cloud ways is a managed cloud hosting platform that ensures simplicity, performance and security. It offers cloud service from five different cloud providers that you can manage through its intuitive platform.
[00:51:57] Some of the features include 24 seven support free migrations and dedicated firewalls. You can check out [email protected] And AB split test. Do you want to set up your AB split tests in record time? The new AB split test plugin for WordPress. We'll have you up and running in a matter of minutes. Use your existing pages and test anything against anything else.
[00:52:19] Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything. And the best part it works with or Beaver builder and the WordPress block editor. You can check it out and get a free [email protected] Okie dokie. As we had an interview this week, we will be back next week with David Waumsley. And I were going through the alphabet, the a to Zed of WordPress.
[00:52:41] I can't quite tell you what episode we'll be on just now, but we're at the beginning of the alphabet. So we'll be talking about something in the WordPress space. I'd really appreciate it. If you want to join us for that'll be next Thursday. Go to WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe, or just search for WP Builds and add it to your podcast player.
[00:52:58] Back on Monday. WP Builds.com forward slash life for this week in WordPress show with Paul Lacey. And we'll repurpose that and bring it out to you as a video and a podcast episode on Tuesday. Okay. That's it for this week, have a good week. Stay safe. I'm going to fade in some really awful cheesy music.
[00:53:17] I'd say, bye bye for now.