If you maintain WordPress websites, you’re not going to want to miss this episode of the podcast as it’s an honor to be joined by the CEO of WPMU DEV, James Farmer, who shares what he sees in the landscape of hosting and maintaining WordPress websites now and in the future.
If you’re not familiar with WPMU DEV, you’re likely familiar with their uber-popular image optimization plugin SMUSH along with other incredible tools like Defender, Forminator, Hummingbird and more.
Along with some of WordPress’s most popular plugins, they’re also an “all-in-one” solution for hosting, maintaining and optimizing your websites.
James has seen the WordPress landscape evolve over the years especially in regard to how web design agencies and freelancers maintain their sites so in this chat, you’ll get a front row seat into what he sees that you can do better NOW when it comes to maintaining sites and what to expect and prepare for in the coming years.
P.S. To say it’s an honor to have a WordPress legend like this on the show is an understatement so if you enjoy this talk, please consider giving it a share in your WordPress or Web Design circles!
In this episode:
00:00 – Introduction
04:30 – Greetings to James
09:01 – The art of asking
14:25 – Best of two worlds of design
17:56 – Landscape ten years ago
23:50 – Giving clients a soft touch
25:29 – A new design tool
32:46 – Expenses of “cheap” DIY sites
38:53 – Calming the fear of too many
45:48 – Make clients happy
50:30 – What’s on the horizon
55:28 – How it differs from Squarespace
1:01:00 – Presenting options
1:06:55 – Final thoughts from James
Connect with James:
- An Epic Journey About Being a WordPress Services Reseller Using WPMU DEV
- WPMU DEV – Your All-in-One WordPress Platform
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #156 Full Transcription
Welcome friends into Episode 156 of the podcast to say that I am pumped for you about this one as a massive massive understatement because I am so excited to be bringing on the CEO of a company in the WordPress realm that is one of the leading companies in WordPress and they are on the forefront of managing and maintaining and optimizing WordPress websites. In this episode I have for you James Farmer, who is none other than the CEO of the Uber popular WordPress company WPMU DEV.
If you’re not familiar with WPM you dev they are an all in one solution for WordPress, including hosting management optimization. If you don’t know too much about the company as a whole, you probably are familiar with some other plugins which include WP Smush, Formulator, Defender, Hummingbird if you do any sort of research on WordPress plugins, you’re gonna see all sorts of WPM you dev tools. So for this episode, it was a real privilege and an honor to bring on their CEO James Farmer to talk about maintaining WordPress sites now and some of the best practices and what he sees in the landscape now but also what he sees up ahead.
Because as you’ll hear in this interview, James was really in the early days of WordPress, and has seen the evolution of how to maintain and run WordPress sites, whether you have a big agency or whether you’re just a freelancer. He talks a little bit about multi site in this episode, which I don’t have too much experience in myself. But the idea of how to properly maintain sites is really the, the genesis of WPM you Dev. And it was awesome to pick his brain about what he seen over the past decade or so where things are at now, but more importantly, where things are headed. You’re really going to get a good snapshot from somebody who is again on as a leader in the WordPress realm and is in the forefront of the game so I can’t wait to see what type of takeaways you pull from this episode. James was an awesome guy. I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with him. And I think he had some fun as well.
And by the way, James wanted to make sure you as listeners of the show, get an exclusive deal if you’re interested in trying WPMUdev out, you can actually get 20% off any plans that you choose with them by just going to Josh hall.co/wpm You dev that’s WPM u dv. One word Jace Hall Dotco slash WPM you Dev. They’ll take you to a special link where you can get 20% off your plans. And I really highly recommend them. I have a lot of students who are not customers of WPMUDev. They are raving fans, so I’m familiar with a lot of their plugins and a lot of their tools. And they are one of the tools that I recommend in my maintenance planning course.
And by the way before we dive into this episode, if you are not yet maintaining and hosting and running and really taking care of your clients, WordPress websites, the time is now it’s an amazing time to start up your hosting and maintenance plan. And I want to encourage you to join my maintenance plan course which is open and available to you now. Version 2.0 is out it’s getting awesome reviews and a lot of my students are getting incredible results with all the new lessons and revamp lessons that I put in the course. It is your proven path and plan for setting up launching and selling your recurring income maintenance plan and WPM you Dev is one of the tools that I recommend that you might want to look into.
There’s a few different tools you can use for hosting and maintaining sites but WPM you Dev is definitely on the forefront. Their customer support is also incredible. And you’ll even hear in this interview James, as a big CEO like himself actually still likes to get into the weeds and help his customers and get into the nitty gritty, which I just love. I love that about a company. So check that out today. There’ll be a link in the show notes where you see this episode at Josh hall.co/ 156 I would love to help you build your maintenance plan. And without further ado, here’s James Farmer CEO of WPMUdev enjoy this talk and enjoy how to learn to better take care of your sites now and moving forward and again last called go to jostle.co/wpm you dev for an exclusive discount for any of their plans. Here we go.
James Welcome on to the show, man. It’s a pleasure to have you on
Thank you for having me, Josh. It’s great to be here.
Yeah, really, really excited to chat with you man. Your tool is awesome. Your your tool set it’s funny because I self Admittedly, I met use bands WP my agency has always used that although I’ve been using a lot of your plugins for a very long time. And a lot of my students who use WPMUdev are like religious discipline. April’s about it like it’s all or nothing. So I think you guys are up to some really cool stuff. And I’m really excited to chat with you about really what you’re up to and the importance of hosting and good security and maintenance. So needless to say, it’s awesome to have you on thanks for taking some time. Just to kick us off for for folks who don’t know you do you want to let us know first off where you’re based out of and what you guys do if people who don’t know WPMUDev? What do you do?
Well, Yep, thanks, again, Josh, for being here. So I am based in Melbourne, Australia. So currently, it’s a wet spring morning as a challenge for you in the States. We kind of rolling through, which is also kind of exciting, because of course, we’re at the end of the world’s longest lockdown. Literally, the start of this week was international flights came back.
I was curious how things were in Australia as a whole, because I have a lot of students in Australia. And I know, it’s been pretty challenging with the differences, particularly how to get clients and networking and things like that when it’s been locked down.
Absolutely. 100% It’s been a really kind of fascinating time, both from a business perspective. And you know, from a personal perspective, and obviously lots of different views about it, but I think I think broadly, people are just super happy to be opening up and be able to get out and about and you know, might even might even have the work camp around the corner, which is just like oh my word. Yeah, not sitting on my couch and like right hands.
Well, web designers are notoriously awkward anyway. So after a year and a half of not seeing anyone in person I’m sure word camps are gonna be extra interesting over the next few years.
High High Level nerd awkwardness Yeah. Speaking speaking for myself. But um, but um, yeah, so So I thank you for the very much for the intro very time to say, Absolutely. web dev. For those of people who don’t know it, we started off largely as a essentially a plugin store for WordPress multi site. And we have since evolved into I guess, a kind of a more I can have a mainstream provider of WordPress services, you know, from your performance to security, to actually mentioned your hosting. And also, in many ways I make similar to manage WP, kind of a kind of website management system. So that’s kind of probably where we’re at at the moment, and where we’re kind of heading.
Yeah, I didn’t realize until, until more recently, that it really is an all in one solution. Now, my first exposure to you guys was your plugins Smash, which I was a big fan of and still use on a lot of sites. And then I tried out defender pro and a few others. And then I knew it was a hub for for managing sites, it’s really interesting to see that you’ve gone the all in one solution route, which I think is exciting, because a lot of people are sick of kind of frankensteining their own solutions together. And, you know, piecing a lot of things together. I imagine that was some of the genesis of bringing it all together. But I would love to just get some context. From your perspective, James, when did the idea of hosting and maintenance come to the forefront for you? Like, when did the importance of that come to you? And was that the genesis of creating WPMUDev? Or how did how did the importance of hosting and maintenance factor into the beginning of this company?
Um, it’s a great question. And the it, I can tell you one thing, it certainly wasn’t the Genesis. So we’ve actually been a hosting company, indirectly, for as long as we’ve been around, we, my first ever project was edgy blocks, which essentially was, you know, big multi site host, we then kind of turn that into Edublogs campus, which is now campus press, and we we host like a few 100 institutions, we are drawn out to Harvard, like kind of looking after their kind of WordPress multi site setup. But the double W period was always about the plugins.
But what are the things that we did start doing really early on, was that was that back in a past life and my unit holidays, I was a market researcher. And I used to kind of like, go and stand in the center of towns, and you’d kind of drag people over and say, you know, hey, how you doing? Like, my target audience was mostly people who are like my mom’s age and felt sorry for me standing in the center of towns. And you’d ask them kind of questions about, you know, kind of, you know, Mars bars and you know, how they felt about particular adverts and brands and things. And so what it kind of did was to an extent, really early doors was translate that to web dev. So we, we essentially asked our um, asked our members, the sorts of things that they’re after and what they needed. And I don’t know if you guys do you would have done plenty of surveys and your time and you know, it’s kind of ranked from one to 10 years. ABC dealers. In my view, those are kind of like lazy surveys. It’s like trying to use like a chatbot as a support mechanism. So you have to say, hello.
I know we’re just talking, like you got your pumps with you, which is totally fine. All pups and all pets are welcome on to the podcast, my Golden’s make it on me occasionally. So
The, I suppose essentially, we’ve, we’ve spent, I’ve I personally spend every year we do a massive survey, and it’s all open questions. It’s essentially, what do you like? What do you need in your WordPress environment? You know, what are your challenges? What are your problems? What do you what are the things we can improve on? You know, what should we develop? And that’s grown from you know, you know, a few dozen responses to a few 100 to a few 1000. And I think this year, it took me three weeks, to read through all of them. Like, it’s like, it’s like a massive novel, composed of, you know, a combination of, it’s psychologically quite interesting as well.
I was just wondering if you were doing those personally, or have you had a team filter those out? Or?
Yeah, but yeah, actually, both. So I read every single word, every last word, every, every last nice word, and every last nasty word, because you can’t please everybody all the time and history, but the, but one of the things was about three years ago, was that our members said, you know, very clearly to us, that what they were looking for was a kind of integrated hosting platform that fit with the fundamentals of what they wanted as a website. So for example, you know, kind of automated updates, backups, the kind of tools that certainly managed WP were offering, but, um, that were then actually integrated into a hosting environment, and also had the plugins and the thing that we, we accidentally became somewhat famous, which was support. So. So it was like, Okay, well, guys, this is gonna take a couple of years. And we gave it a crack. And we launched officially, I think, in September of 2019, or October, so about two years ago. And we’ve now got 20,000 Live sites, with custom domains, mapped to them and growing super fast and loads of happy customers, which is awesome.
That is awesome. The all in one solution, I think, is becoming more popular for a lot of different companies, particularly in this line, where you’ve got plugins, you’ve got WordPress management, and you’ve got what is most important where their sites are, and you want to make sure it all plays nicely. Like I mentioned, the whole Frankenstein approach is very common in WordPress. But I always had a problem with managed WP to where a lot of my sites would work great on SiteGround. But they would have trouble connecting on like GoDaddy, which is so ironic, because GoDaddy purchase is going up. So I was like,
That’s a super fair comment. And given that we kind of we’ve always, I mean, our Genesis, you know, is with all of the different hosting SiteGround, as you said, GoDaddy Bluehost, of course, you know, some some great hosts. And you know, we’ve been working really well and strongly with them. We like to think that people can actually come to us, and they can use a kind of hybrid if they want as well. So we do offer like it’s all rolled in together and it’s all cozy, it’s all nice, and it’s super transparent as well. So like him we use Linode Linode. I don’t know how do you how do you pronounce it?
I’ve heard it Linode in the States, but you’ll if you listen to this podcast at all, you’ll realize we usually make up at least one or two words per episode, so not the best resource for how to pronounce things.
Um, yeah, I’ve I’ve had my moments of my pronunciation franchises. My personal favorite was, I think, for many, many years because I’m kind of more of a text chat kind of person was was the nginx as I used to call it. Ah, gotcha.
Index index. I don’t
I don’t know if I’ve actually ever said that out loud. I my brain just kind of froze for a second because I’ve only ever written that. I don’t think I’ve ever actually said it out loud. Yeah.
It’s like, Oh look! That’s it. That’s completely incredible. But um, yeah, essentially, we’ve been working on one of the highest we can run together. And so we kind of like yeah, we we like to think that we offer some of the best of both worlds.
Yeah, and it’s interesting. So into hosting kind of being the the final piece with your current setup. When did the management of WordPress sites come about and actually, I meant to ask, forgive me, I actually don’t know the full history. When did WP mu dev launch and was it strictly just a few plus At first?
Ah WPM you dev launched…In… Oh, my word? An excellent question. I’m going to say 2007.
Wow, I didn’t realize it was that no, I’m not gonna say that old but experienced.
Very old, very old. And yeah, just a few plugins, we were basically wordpress.org didn’t have a repository for multi site services. And so that was it, it was just a free setup. And then we, me and my co founder, Andrew Belitz. At the time, we, we set up Inc sub, forever mispronounce by people as in scub. Debt, that’s another pronunciation. We set up Inc sub as, as an agency to kind of like throughout 2007 2009, essentially specialising multi site or multi user as it was. And that went really well. So we got loads of experience of dealing with these, these customers, you know, kind of ranging from like, you know, 10, grand kind of site creation, maintenance, you know, up to kind of six figure numbers, and then all of a sudden, the GFC hits in 2008, there weren’t that many people super interested in spending six figures on a blogging network for their company, or a newspaper, they were like, kind of more concerned with surviving.
And at the same time, WP Dev were, started kind of a side project, where we were starting to put the code that we were developing, of course, you know, open source, but we’d started to put it into WP Dev and say to people are, you know, for a couple 100 bucks a year, you can have access to this and support and we will continue to upgrade it for you.
And support it and manage it. And also we and also like I said, We’d ask people how they wanted to, to improve it, where they wanted to go. And then we were quite literally kind of kind of custom develop enormous multisite plugins for a couple of 100 users who quite like that. And so we kind of pivoted into there. And then that kind of eventually grew out, I suppose the genesis of web dev, as it as it is now would be 2009.
Okay. And it’s interesting, because that was, well, that was when I got into Web Design coincidentally, was the end of 2009. And I do remember hearing about WordPress very early on, it seemed like 2010, at least from my perspective in the States was like the WordPress year that was like when it really seemed to start catching on. So I don’t know what it was like back then. But were there any other systems out there for managing WordPress sites in bulk? I because because I was so new to the industry, then I probably had no pulse on that. What was the landscape like around 2010? With managing sites and things like that?
Guys? That’s a great question. And, in fact, that also fits into very much kind of our Genesis. And where we’ve gone with this WordPress multi user, which advocate multi site was effectively your solution if you were looking at both management. So we wrote kind of some of the for custom domain plugins that allowed you to map individual’s sub sites to specific domains. And this was a way in which people were essentially managing and still are actually hundreds or 1000s of individual custom domain sites using one install. And so essentially, we started supporting and managing this, this system that I’m sure many of your viewers will be familiar with is a super efficient, certainly a very cost efficient, even though technically more challenging method of providing a bunch of different sites to a bunch of different people. Because of course, while you can go to Edublogs, or wordpress.com, and sign up for people forget the wordpress.com is like, actually a multi site install. Just very,
Honestly, I forget about it all the time. I just I don’t even think about it. Yeah.
So while you can go there and sign up. Of course, you can also, you know, you can come to me as a web developer, and I can have a forum and I can say I chat to you about these things like that and set it up on my multi site install, map your domain, put it together and hand it over to you like a regular WordPress site. So that was essentially how people were managing loads of different sites in an efficient manner back in the day. But of course, what happened over time was that people’s demands and requirements became more complex. People wanted to have more custom plugins, which is a challenge with WordPress multi site, you can have one plugin to fit them all kind of failed.
You know, they wanted to have more particular control. They wanted to be able to look after individual sites that became much more than you know, have a blog or something and a truly, you know, semantic publishing platform. I mean, for example, you know, with campus press, we, we now host a range of things from like 20 to 30,000 blogs for students we portfolios and some school districts to actually in some instances, their main website and it’s just like one install so it’s it’s it’s the complexity grew and as the complexity grew became more evident, as managed WP into the WP main WP, all of those people picked up fairly early on that much more powerful method was to manage multiple single WordPress installations rather than multi site.
And so essentially, our solution was noticing that and say, Okay, well, how do we support that? And, you know, how do we offer? What are the main things that people are after, as I, as I mentioned, you know, updates, you know, making sure everything is, you know, running smoothly, having security that you could wrap around the whole thing be able to perform, you know, kind of, essentially be able to like perform mass tweaks, change changing config on 100 plugins, with like, a couple of clicks, which are, incidentally, all tools that we offer, how many Jamie?
Yeah, that sort of thing. Oh, yeah. real a real evolution.
Yeah, that definitely makes sense. And I was thinking for most everybody listening and watching this are most everyone’s freelancers who have maybe a dozen clients, or a couple dozen clients, or maybe small teams where they’re getting 40 50 60 clients. Once you get to that number, in particular, even even a couple dozen clients. You’ve got to manage your site’s all in one place. Because I know before I realize there was a managed WP or even before WP mu Dev, I was logging into sites, one at a time updating, and I actually had a student recently who’s fairly new to the game do this. And he said, it’s, you know, it’s taken me at least a few hours a week to do this. And I said, dude, have you ever heard of like, Ms. WEP, or any of these other tools? And he’s like, No, I, you know, when you’re new to the industry, you don’t know what you don’t know. And it was like life changing for him. He was like, How did I not know?
And a lot of people go like, I should have known there was something out there. And I think sometimes when you get into web design, there’s so many things to learn. There’s so many things you can do you have to reel yourself back. Some of the basic tools and principles can be very easily overlooked. So it’s funny, I think maintenance is something that’s so simplistic and natural that it’s almost easy to overlook when there’s new designers. I know I did. Like I had a mentor of mine who coincidentally uses WPM you dev your whole suite and raves about you guys. And he’s not a raver. Like he’s he’s a very like business straight to the point.
It was funny because I emailed him. And I just asked him about some of the new tools that he’s using with you guys. And he’s like, we use them for everything. And he’s like, they’re the best for everything. So it’s kind of funny, he’s somebody who’s very, like reserved was was all about it. But I say that to say years ago, he told me, Josh, you should charge like 39 bucks a month to update your clients plugins. And I was like, what? First of all, why would anyone pay me to do that they can do that themselves. This was early me without a business mind without the idea of recurring revenue. But it was that simple. Like that was the the genesis for me of the seed planting of a maintenance plan. And I’m happy to I really am big on maintenance plans. Now let’s talk about later. But I say all that to say it does seem like there was a difference back in those days 2010 11 12 13. Where I don’t know if maintenance was as common would you say that was the start of the whole movement for maintenance plans?
The biggest complaint that people used to have was people would put together a great site would look really nice, it would do everything they wanted. – James
Um, yeah, I think you’re pretty much on the money there. So the biggest complaint that people used to have was people would put together a great site would look really nice, it would do everything they wanted. And then it would be like a handover. And they would be okay. So if I want support, I guess I’m going to email a dev guy who’s going to be able to put it up to here, but it’s going to cost this much and it’s going to be an unexpected it was it’s not something that people are comfortable with. And trust it for somebody who has the charges, monthly or annual subscription fees. People, you know, they get a bit twitchy about it, you know, they they kind of like they they either want to have like a fixed amount, they’re going to have hair or they’re going to, like they don’t they certainly don’t want to see things spiraling out of control.
So, maintenance is absolutely critical. But it’s not just about updating plugins. It’s about giving your clients a lovely, ongoing soft touch experience. So for example,
Very well said
Well, the so for example, you know, the white label report, kind of experience so every month providing your client with a rundown Out of not only what’s been updated, the security scans in place what’s been fixed. But I think your white label reports without blowing all I know, there’s lots of things around here. But also take them through, for example, the average performance during the month. So we have tools which have ping your site to check the speed, and kind of feedback and, of course, anything else that you want to come through. So you get clients that report, you can have that every month, you could have that every week of uptime components.
And we’ve also developed which we’re pretty we’re pretty chuffed about and it’s actually super, super new at the moment, it’s a thing we call the hub clients, which is actually a client portal that you run on your own site where your clients can log in, and they can have their own kind of customized web dev experience with your branding.
Yeah, so actually, literally, it looks like people be familiar with WP Dev, you can see the dashboard, you can see the core components, you can see, you can see plugins, but and all of those different components. But you can also as the web developer, as the manager, control exactly what they can see, you can also control what they can edit or not at it. And you can give them like all of these, like different keys and stuff to the kingdom and stuff. And a lot of clients, you’ll find will also have more than one website, they might have one for this. And once I’ve successfully set up, you know, one for their business, they might have a personal one and alternative business, they might have one for their mom, you know, and this actually allows them to previously, it’s been a case of like, you know, I’m the web developer, I’m gonna come in take care of all of this in the background, you’ll get some reports, you’ll get some information will keep you up to date on those different things.
Now, we’ve got the ability to say I’m the web developer, here is your control panel, here. And this is, you know, this looks like Josh’s Josh’s web development company. It’s got my branding on it super custom, it’s on my domain. It sits there you log in, it’s got a beautiful login experience. And you can kind of hand it over a little so that you don’t need to necessarily even spend so much time as the web developer yourself on it. And I’ll stop in a moment because this is what this is my area of particular fascination, essentially, for some of your kind of like more old school people involved in the environment, we are looking at a much better cPanel experience. Thank you, wh WP dev as double web host manager who can but much nicer. And think of the experience we offer your customers as cPanel except cPanel for humans.
Gotcha. Most, most, most web designers don’t want to see PHP myadmin, let alone and a body shop, you know, guy like he doesn’t need to be seen?
No, they do know and what Well, we obviously offer that as part of our tools for web developers. You can easily configure this so that your client will get a lovely experience be able to see what are the cool things about this site, but not destroy it.
Yeah. And that was that was something I found with clients. I had a lot of clients who just they wanted to run their business. They just wanted me to do the website, but they wanted to know the basic stats and numbers. That’s perfect. That was like the ideal client. I also had a lot of clients who are pretty savvy, and maybe they had tried building their own WordPress site before. So they knew the lingo. They knew plugins, they knew some security and stuff like that. They may have even been using Smush or one of your guys’s plugins, but they wanted me to take over but it kind of was it is nice to give them a little more access. They don’t need to go completely backstage, but they get like VIP access. It’s a little more maybe it’s something like that to where I do think there’s a shift now, where there’s a little more client empowerment. And I think a lot of small businesses are tired of agencies and tired of feeling like a number, tired of feeling like they have no control. And I actually think sites like Wix and Squarespace are doing freelancers a favor now, because there’s so many people getting burned from having no control over their sites that they want a little more control, even though they don’t want to actually control it themselves. They still want to know they have access to stuff. And I do think that’s really popular. So I think you guys are definitely on the right trend of giving access to clients and letting us as web designers tweak that access if need be.
100%. And at the very simplest level, you can actually say to your clients if you want to login to our upland environment that bear client, your client portal. It’s a place where you can look at either if you’re at one side or three sites, and we do single sign on to their work. Besides, so you can log into Josh Hall slash arm and click on the WordPress link. And lo and behold you in the back of your WordPress admin. And you didn’t even need to go to WP login.
Not a bad thing.
Yeah, I guess I just think about how many hours I burned, logging into sites myself doing updates, and, but you live and learn. And that’s luckily, I think maintenance and hosting is much more common now for web designers. And therefore, it’s also common for clients, I think most clients understand that there’s going to be some sort of subscription service or some sort of help that clients are going to be offering that’s ongoing. I think the real beauty about the opportunity now for whether you call it hosting and maintenance plans or care plans or whatever, I think customers in general are now more interested in use to subscription services than ever before.
Like, I we have tons of subscriptions, me and my family. We’ve got Disney plus Netflix, I’ve got my razors on subscriptions. My wife’s got skincare on subscriptions, our dog foods on subscription, like,
Yeah, it’s all it’s all we’re used to it. So I think there’s a lot more power for web designers now, which is really great. And we can utilize these tools. I was just thinking, I was kind of like trying to visualize the past decade for web design and WordPress in particular, it did seem like it started off with updates, that was the biggie, just updating plugins, because once sites started getting hacked, and security became a pretty big deal. I think most everyone realized one of the common factors to most hacks was outdated plugins.
So it seemed, it seemed like, and I’m interested to hear your your take on this. But it seemed like to me, it started with updates. And then security, security became a biggie needed to and I had this all the time I lost the site, and I didn’t have a maintenance plan. year later, it got hacked, the client was pissed. They were like, Dude, what the heck, like and I’m like, oh, shoot, I don’t even know what to do. Then there were solutions like security, and other hack cleaning type of programs and software’s out there.
So it seemed like security was the next step. Backups also became really important because people started losing their sites, have they deleted the database or moved it or and I had some nightmare experiences like that. And then it seemed like the idea of that reporting, like you said, the soft touch reports for maintenance plans. I love that terminology. Because I think that’s exactly what it was. It was it kept us as web designers front and center top of mind each month, even if they didn’t use us for updates. And then now it seems like there is that push to more a little more client control, a little more maybe high touch or intensive type of approach to management. Would you say that’s a fair assessment for like the past 10 years of of maintenance?
Um, yeah, I think that’s a pretty good call. I think we I think it’s fascinating because we’re still in an area that we’re discovering wherever we go and I don’t know when I when I’m knocking around and you know, chatting to various people like Dan GM or something, or you will find people a lot of people have, well, most people have websites, their businesses, and I like to ask them you know, okay, well who are you using, you know, how’s it going? And if it is like a Squarespace or Wix, I like to work actually how much you’re spending on it. And it’s and you would be shocked on the for all of the advertising and you know, kind of the our look after so it’s easy 10% for cheap, all of these different things.
I reckon I’m going to say at least five to 600 bucks a year so we’re talking Australian so it’s a little bit yes in us but like around about the 50 caliber mark because once you’ve got in you’ve got your super website set up then you want to have this particular tool then you’re choosing this add on then you’re putting this thing together listings and so on. And the thing that they always say to me is and I’m spending hours on it days, I have I have I have to spend like you know I read a book out this weekend because you know I need to update like my my class schedule. And I’m like, oh man
it’s a good it’s a great point James because these these a lot of these companies do promote themselves as DIY solutions that are super cheap, like build your website and $1 with $1 or something but it does it does become a huge markup with all the add ons and everything else and if you are doing it yourself most web design this is kind of why I said they end up being good referral sources for web designers because when you do it yourself and you don’t know what you’re doing it becomes extremely costly on the books and then also with time that that is the biggie so I think that value for web designers to do all the updates, the security backups, all the all in one solution like your like you guys provide. Being able to charge for that you’re still saving your clients money and you’re still get a save like save them an enormous amount of time. So that is a great point.
I couldn’t agree with you more. And the the interesting thing, though, is also the question of, well, how do you provide the custom development you call it height that kind of like the movement from software to highs? How do you provide a custom development, feeling control experience, to a to a client for a price that doesn’t go too far away from that amount? S
o let’s say let’s say for example, okay, so you’ve got your my gym, my gym, my buddy’s got the gym thing. He’s, he’s the one who spent, you know, kind of a whole weekend, like hardcore in these things here. And he’s spending about 600 bucks on it. So what I would say to him is, okay, if I’m a web developer, I would say, Okay, well, what we can do is we can set you up on your own your own domain, obviously, you’re on, we’re actually gonna give you your own IP address, because all of our stuff runs off DigitalOcean Linode, get dedicated IP addresses in Australia.
So you’re going to get super fast, super, super funky, this is going to come through here, it’s an I’m going to give you your own control panel here where you can, obviously I’ve turned off all of the how do you break things CPAP, PHP, MyAdmin stuff. But you’ve actually got this overall kind of control mechanism here. And they’re like, Okay, cool, but it’s still gonna take me this amount of time to do it. This is where I say to him, don’t worry about it, I’ve actually built an integrated custom development platform into your client manager area. So when you log into your area, and you want something done, you just click on this Help button, or you click on this context here, you write out the description of what you want. And we will actually offer you with a 24 hour or 48 hour turnaround, like two or three tickets, to actually get that sorted for you.
And the ends, therefore, we can actually give you not only this platform, which are for which we’re going to say are that’s going to be like, you know, kind of, say 29 – 79 bucks a month. But we’ve also got this add on, which essentially, for 20 bucks a month is going to give you the custom development work where somebody will log in, and they will change this and they will put this all together. Now, the way that you do that is you integrate simple Support Platform with the hub client environment and talking about your client portal. And essentially, they just log in ticket come through something that will take you or take me will probably I’m actually not that great at web development. It’s been a while it was somebody that actually also added, you know, can 20 minutes to go, Okay, I’m gonna put that in place. And that has just come through. And given you
Okay, cool. If let’s say there’s two of them coming through, you’re, you’re on about 40 50 bucks for that time, which means you can actually afford to hire somebody else to do. But of course, the real secret and the real magic is that they’ve got these credits to a month that they know that they’ve got in the bank. And they don’t actually use it every month. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, just between us, I’m assuming that none of these, by my way by my gym guy is not watching this show. He’s only going to use he’s only going to use four or five of those credits in the year. And I’m going to sold in 24.
Right. And that is the beauty of maintenance plans right there. Particularly for web designers at the time of recording this call. It’s funny how timely this is. I just launched the second version of my core, I have a course on how to build a website hosting and maintenance plan. And a lot of people are so leery just like I was about starting a plan because they’re terrified of having 50 clients that are going to ping them 50 times a month and use 50 hours. The reality is that never happens. It’s like maybe 5% 10% On a busy month.
And let me let me tell you why how I know this as well. So WP media that we have I think 45,000 paid up currently subscribed members to our service, who are web developers, web clients like you. And if you have a look at say Trustpilot reviews, I O our Google reviews, Facebook reviews, G to any of those things, you will see that we are the highest rated support wordpress support company out there are none. We just absolutely wipe the floor with people and I love it. You know, kind of like Tim and boy and who run that area and our support team are just fantastic. They are the greatest people that we offer like so for your web developer, people who come in, we offer literally live, log into your site, fix up your complex hosting problems, or do serious things we deal we just deal with web developers and we deal hardcore stuff. We we come in those. Now. If those 45,000 people came in at once, do you think I’d still have a business?
That’s a great point. That’s a that’s a really good point.
People would like us support they wouldn’t Not like our support, you have a lot support, the reason that we are able to do that is because, you know, and your your viewers will know, and any web developer knows, you come across a particularly gnarly problem, you have a particular arrow, you want to make a particular plugin, because we actually support every single WordPress plugin out there, you have a particularly sticky WooCommerce issue. Then when you get stuck, you get stuck, but you’re only going to get stuck every now and then. Most of the time, you can refer to yourself, but then when you are stuck, it’s like, oh, geez, am I going to go and like have to get a sysadmin or DevOps person to sort out this like database thing? And we’re like, No, we literally got DevOps people here for you.
Or most people would go to SiteGround, or a GoDaddy hosting, if they have hosting there and ask their support. And then those people, like, who knows? Who knows what you’re gonna get?
Well, you know, this is the thing you’re not gonna get, like, you’re definitely not going to get like a DevOps person, or I mean, I mean, the we offer we offer like kind of forum ticket support, like a kind of discussion area. And I think we’ve got an answer, which says, get support from like, the whole team, including the CEO, which is true, I actually go in and like, hang out there every day, I really enjoy it keeps me in touch with members. But we’re also get our CTO, and then we get our DevOps team, we get our whole absolute crew kind of going in. But that’s manageable, because it only happens. And and it’s actually it’s so predictable. It’s so weird, weirds me out how predictable it is that people are going to need complex, detailed support.
And the same thing happens for clients, or web developers. And that’s totally predictable. And my thing will always be two people who are concerned about that, or what’s going to happen if I’ve got 50 clients, and it’s just me coming together. And they’re all going to come in at one time and say, That is a good problem to have, if and when it happens. And if and when that problem happens in just have a look, you’ve got basically now you’ve got more demand, then you’ve got supply, but at your price, yeah. And offer more custody. But it so rarely happens. And the balance almost always works out. So well. As long as you’ve got super happy people getting your support, then that’s the balance that you just need to keep it and it can be a very profitable balance.
That’s a great point, James. I mean, I’ve definitely seen that as a web designer with my clients, because then I almost felt bad. I was like, wow, I’m really making a lot of my monthly plan. And like five clients out of at one point, I had over 70 clients just myself. And it was easily like, a few clients were intensive every month, and I was charging them more like you said, and then everyone else was like every quarter, maybe every few months, they’d have some updates or something like that. And then seems like once business owners get going with their business, often the website will be less, I mean, they’ll do a lot of work initially with a website design or redesign. And then it’s like, it’s gonna sprinkle in, it’s gonna trickle in the rest of the updates. It’s it’s not as common.
It absolutely is. And I mean, yeah, I would actually, it’s fascinating that you talked about that can number 70, I would, I would say that, yes, 40 50 60 70. That’s the kind of range which an individual can actually manage, if you don’t mind having a little bit of intrusion into your weekends. And one of my, my Michael and like my big passions, and what we’re trying to do is to actually get to a point where we have the tools and stuff available to kind of get over that three finger number. So allow people to actually build start to look after that, that few more clients, give you the systems give you the processes, and also give you some really kind of integrated, easy ways to provide that little bit of extra support.
When it comes to you hiring your first part time staff member, your first full time staff member your first you’re kind of like starting to offer support. And so but when it becoming you and your your crew of like two or three people and then your standard scale up to 200 250. We have we have tons and tons of members who are around that three to four to 500 and several over 1000. And those people are taking, like I said, we’re looking at 20 30 40 plus an extra bit, maybe up to 1000 US dollars, we do the math, it’s like say say let’s say an average of 650 to 750 USD per client per year. And they are managing with the help of like two extra people, you know, 500 to 1000 of those sites.
Yeah, that’s a great point. And I was actually thinking with your push on support that you’re offering through your guys’s platform that really alleviates a lot of the problems that most web designers have with a maintenance plan. Because it’s when you do get stuck on something or you have a WooCommerce issue. If you have to do it all by yourself In your best friend Google, it’s going to take a long time. And that’s how you get grades. And that’s how it just adds more stress and everything. When you have, either Well, first of all can be like a support team like that. That is huge. Because it’s it’s experts. It’s people who know what they’re doing. There’s free. I have a fear free Facebook group for web designers. I have a premium member. Oh, awesome. Yeah. And yeah, there’s like, there’s tons of groups, I have a premium group, those are great resources as well. But there is something about a dedicated support team behind your back that really makes you so much more powerful and it’s gonna save so much time. So I think that in itself, like what to say, what a sales aspect for WPM you dev right there just to have like, good quality expert support in your corner. That’s super helpful.
We make making cool things, making people happy. – James
I mean. I mean, I’m so happy with it, every time we see, we, we basically have a kind of unofficial motto, which is we make making cool things, making people happy. And the and people are freaked out and weirded out, like, okay, so you’re going to log into my site and clean up this house or fix these different components. And this is going to cost me like less than, like, I’m charging one of my clients per month. And I’m like, Yes, but you can give it a go. So, I mean, okay, so spruik, we, we’ve got a completely free trial. It’s easy to cancel if you don’t want to continue with it. And you can literally try our full support thing. And so if you have a particular issue, you if you’ve got an issue, if you’ve got a particular problem with your WordPress site now, go to WP dash sign in, add your site, contact support, they will log into your site and fix it for you and will always be here for you.
That’s awesome. Yeah, I think there’s such a difference between that versus again, typical support that you might get with hosting companies, or the like ISO, I use Divi. I’ve used Divi since 2014. They have notoriously great support. But they have a ton of clients and they have a lot of I think they it’s might be fair to say that because they are attracting a lot more DIYers, they probably get a little more support than you guys do, I would imagine as web devs, potentially. But it’s a good point that you mentioned earlier. Like, even if you have 50,000 customers, it doesn’t mean that you’re getting 50,000 support tickets every month. That’s not the case.
But it is there’s there’s something about quality support behind quality tools to which is I really, I think that’s I think a lot of companies are catching on to that. And I don’t know if you’re necessarily pioneering that, but your guys are certainly in the forefront of that charge of really good customer service support. And I think what you guys are doing, I don’t mean to make this like a sales video for WPMUDEV. You can use it if you want, you know, you’re welcome to use it. But what I have noticed is that, like I said, I have a lot of students who use your tools, but they’re not like yeah, it’s a pretty, it’s pretty cool. They’re like raving fans, which is what you want to get when you have a business. And I think that’s the motto We as web designers should have for clients, we want them to rave about us. And it takes it takes this is a complete side note, but it kind of takes the edge off of marketing doesn’t it if you just have really good customers that refer you?
Word of mouth, you got people just by passing it around, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s the setup. And that’s fantastic. And actually, funnily enough that that works brilliantly for our clients. But it doesn’t actually work that well for us because lowers you, especially when you don’t have like we’re gonna work them so I like web developer kind of like conferences, because people aren’t necessarily meeting up so but when essentially what we’re trying to do is provide that experience for our customers and but then we also give you the customer the same platform and the same tools and the same capacities. To then deploy it yourself you can you can basically we just you can completely white label us to provide your own WP media in your particular niche maybe it’s photography websites, maybe it’s maybe it’s weddings, you know, maybe it’s It could even be individual small school websites. They all have those every single like different niche every single different context. You can basically just turn us into your thing.
Yeah, I just, I just love well I love WordPress, I love the community. I love the the openness and my favorite word that I think really articulates what this web design show is all about is Co-opetition. Like I just yesterday, I had another gal from from Australia, one of my close colleagues, she is complete and utter competition to me, she’s a web design coach. But we work together all the time. We have a lot of similar students and we support each other. I think that’s awesome. And I I definitely every time I’ve get I’ve gotten a chance to interview somebody from, you know, like yourself or I was just recently I got to interview one of the community experience manager with Gravity Forms and he talks about the partnerships that they have Yeah, it’s really it’s really, really cool.
I love the coopetition work ticket, let’s work together, not try to defeat each other kind of mentality, which I think is great. I am curious, where do you what do you think is next, in regards to hosting, maintenance? I know we’re on the forefront of the client portal access. But do you, you know, being that you’re in it, you’re in the weeds with this, is there anything you see on the horizon that might be coming up next.
So we’re currently working on when we, if you kind of are in our community, you’ve kind of pick up on where we’re going, we’re pretty frank about it, we don’t, we don’t make too much noise about it more broadly. But I think the the next stage is the automation of the customer experience, both in terms of providing essentially, a, I would put it as a as a GoDaddy Bluehost kind of style, new user experience yourself in your particular niche. So let’s say, for example, I’m going to go I’m gonna go for weddings, because wedding wedding websites are actually huge, people love their wedding websites, and you can, if you want to have your custom domain, you can have all of your different designs and different setups you want to do. Specifically, you definitely don’t want it to look like everyone else’s wedding website, there’s been speaking as a client, it kind of I wanted, that’s,
That’s why I built I built me my wife’s wedding website, because I was, you know, need even web design. So I just threw it together real quick.
Exactly. And so but yeah, so So you know, kind of my friend Steve, who’s like getting here. So you know, kind of website together, he really wants to have this, you know, unique custom setup, he wants to go for it. And he obviously, you know, would like someone local, he’s going to go your say, you know, Melbourne wedding websites, Australia wedding websites. And this is where you, my client are going to be ranking because you are.com delay you, you have done all your marketing in this particular area. Maybe you’ve got some Google ads and those different killer things running, it’s very specific to this area. Now, when we land in your site, you’ve got a couple of options, you can offer them, in the first case you can offer them, okay, well, let us build your custom website. We’re gonna do all of this, it’s gonna be great. We will take hands, you know, and people that are Yeah, that’s gonna be like my killer, five to 10 grand, kind of like a hand holding taking through. And a wedding website is actually an interesting one. Because the maintenance mean, how long do you keep it up?
Right? Yeah, that’s exactly why I didn’t want to go into that niche, for sure.
But it’s like, it’s a five to 10 grand, everybody. It’s a good niche. If you can get enough of them and let’s face it, you know, people are getting married, you know, more often more frequently than ever before. So
Yeah, that’s where are you? Well, I got some ideas, but we’ll keep we’ll keep it there too. We can have different categories of different kind of weddings but or you know, like, you’d have like your, your first time weddings or second time, like the categories. But what is interesting about that is and actually think that industry is going to explode now. Since lockdowns are ending I think a lot of I know a lot of people have held off.
Well, but one of my buddies is a chef out at a reception venue at the moment. And it’s crazy. Apparently, the demand for a wedding on a Wednesday has never been so big. So people, people come into the website, so it’s custom thing. But what I want, I think the next step is, is where you, as a web designer, or web developer, are actually able to offer somebody a selection of templates, a automated process where they, they find the domain, the A bit like so you’re saying that they select the template that they want will probably probably start with a template where you can figure it out for yourself. But go through, okay, that’s a domain that’s like 15 bucks standardly Oh, this is a specific template.
Okay, cool. I like this one. And then you’re going to take me into this kind of client portal environment, and you’re going to be able to actually customize it yourself. Because of course, you know, the element because Divi to an extent going and making things a little bit easier in the sales, all sorts of these great platforms. And rather than somebody seeing this, like kind of five to 10k figure, instead, they’re looking at this 149 $249 setup, and, you know, kind of 49 69 bucks a month because I think they’re gonna keep it for a while. But look, there’s a one year kind of thing to run it down form in there, and they just click through. And you as a web developer, you’re set up this environment By creating a template by trying to get a client platform, but the person who has arrived on your side is literally able to do the whole process plus billing Plus subscription, without ever interacting with you.
Yeah. And there are some examples of that I’ve seen like one of my colleagues does this for coaches, he has a business, his niche, his niche. So niche down there, right?
niches niche with you,
Yes, next with me. Or we’re doing we say niche niche A and the fancy, fancy areas of the world. But he does coaches. That’s it. And he has a process very similar. It’s very automated. client signs up after a strategy call, they submit the they pick a template, submit the content, they get their sites done, and usually 24 to 48 hours. And I think that’s great for these types of niches in these type of sites that are maybe not as complex, they don’t need to be as custom. I think it’s a really, really exciting area, because you can build hosting and maintenance. And it can be about getting that subscription locked in at a lower cost without that time draining custom work. Now my question, let me play devil’s advocate. What’s the difference between that and Wix? Or Squarespace where it seems like that’s what they’ve already tried to pioneer?
So so that’s, it’s a great question. And of course, you wouldn’t be setting up your website if you didn’t believe that you had an opportunity to get in there. And my, my, I think my compelling difference is twofold. Is subject matter specific. So you know, kind of your weeks is like, oh, it’s very, like, how am I going to grasp this? Your Wix just doesn’t offer the mechanics or the the car repair specific kind of website, there might be a couple of things like, Oh, this isn’t for me, this isn’t power repair.com that I you? Or yeah, kind of like are the other SEO kind of mechanics that Tom DeLay you or have, you know, photography studio? Yeah, all of those different things.
And the second one is this localized components. So we we take kind of content, they use it for you. So you’ve got subject matter specific area, you’ve got your niche, your niche. And the second one is you’ve got your geographic or localization. So again, I’m about to buy stuff, you’ve got your Australian server, you’ve got your Australian IP address, you’ve got your domain name, you can offer them the Australian setup, you can even Australian phone number, for, you know, kind of customer support. It’s not really just sales. But you know, and you’ve got, you’ve got the actual system that runs all the way through it in that particular area. Now, given the choice between going to your Wix and Squarespace, and doing the work themselves with an impersonal big organization that doesn’t specialize in their area, are going to choose you who cost more. But who is localized subject matter expert, and will actually do work for them as well, then I think it’s a real opportunity.
Well, and I was gonna ask, if we get into those automated solutions, then the question is, are we going to get right back into the DIY solution where clients can do it themselves. But I think you just hit the nail on the head. I think we’re in a time period and a really interesting discovery phase in our industry, where it’s a bit of a mix, where web designers are more needed than ever, even even in these quote unquote, simple automated type of solutions. So I think you’re honest, um, I think it’s a really, really powerful standpoint for web designers. Because, yes, there’s going to be the custom projects that need a lot of custom development, a lot of time, a lot of one on one attention.
But you don’t have to do that on a lot of kind of niche style sites that you could bust out pretty quick and then are pretty common. Like, I notoriously spent way too much time getting too far into CSS in custom stuff, when all my client wanted was a fairly basic site that converted and got decent local rankings. That was it. So I think I think that’s a really like, clients could probably figure out how to automate the or they could do the automations and get a site up and put some pictures and text and but they’re probably not going to and definitely not going to know basic SEO principles, and things where I think web designers could come in to really be the support for them going back to like, what your guys’s motto was, with your support, I kind of feel like web designers could be like that for clients. It’s a real it’s a I didn’t really think about that. But I think we’re really into the cusp of that where you got to DIY solutions. The good news is for web designers, clients are fed up with them. They don’t want to they realize I don’t want to be doing this. I want to work on my business. So
I want my weekend back.
Right, right. I think we’re in a really interesting opportunity time for that, which is kind of what it sounds like you’re getting it
On it without without a doubt. And again, I’m gonna just gonna run Back to this this wedding thing because I beat it to death. The but the wedding thing, if we’re talking about site Melbourne, where I am, as with any city, I was Columbus, I am sure there are a number of classic locations, there are a number of classic spots. And literally you can almost like go out with your, with your own, probably find only DSLR. Now, so you have to actually kind of get some particular features, you can probably tons in the public domain, you can literally get a selection of let’s say, either no like say 20 30 Elementor, Divi particular sites, you can give them feature images and context with that, that, and then you can put up a site where a customer can actually come in, without any interaction with you and select okay, this one, this one this one, because they will see the pictures of their hometown, which is just around the corner, and it’d be oh my word.
And you’ve got them, you have got them. And they will sign up for that contest, which then gives you the opportunity to use support and things. But you can offer that alongside your bespoke solution. And anybody who’s ever been in sales knows that the best way to sell something to somebody is to say, so would you like to choose this bespoke solution? Or this alternative solution? Yeah, here are your options, which one suits you better? And then you’ve got them there? Does that make your decision between the two things you’re offering.
And it’s a great boy, I’ve heard a lot recently about the different solutions that would basically be labeled done for you, we do it all done with you, you do quite a bit, but we’ll help you or you do it. And then you know, what’s your time worth. So I think that’s a really great kind of visual for this type of solution, because it is a great way to mix the two. And I think that’s where this is super, super excited. I was actually thinking to I mean, you could do this with different industries, you could also you know, course do it do it niche. I was also thinking for the people who do want to have more close, high value touch type of relationships with their clients, this is still something that can be done a layer back, like you could still do the sales, you could still do the discovery calls, you could still get the project going.
But instead of now hunting for content, and then starting a custom site, here is where that automated process could come in. Where are you okay, you’ve already started a relationship. Now, if you make it because this is where most web design projects go awry, is during the start of a project as the web designer will either overwhelm the client or the client doesn’t know what is going to happen next. And then Content Collection is an issue. Copy is an issue, you know, images, all the things that hang up projects, that’s what could be automated. And I think that’s the really exciting aspect of all this is you could really do it front facing where you don’t even talk to the client or you talk with the client land them. And then the automation starts.
Your bang, right, actually, and I was actually looking into template Lee the other day, which was something that some of our members have been enjoying, which essentially allows you I think, from what I could look at to restore a load of different elemental templates and put them all together in one place. And one of the reasons I was looking into it, just from a Business Discovery perspective was that and we offer custom templates as well hosting. So essentially, we can offer a bunch of different things people can use, but anything in future that allows you as a web developer, or web designer, to actually create and maintain, let’s say, you know, 50 different personalized templates, that you can then just roll out, click, click, click. It’s super valuable. And yeah, of course, I mean, you know, we’ve all been, we’ve, we’ve all been there. That doesn’t have to involve restoring a backup from here onto a completely new site, and you’re just something that you can literally go dig. It just made your life a, you know, a whole a whole world of easiness.
Absolutely, yeah, and there’s a little, I was gonna say those little things that may only take 5 10 minutes add up, if you’re doing a lot of different sites.
Yeah, they definitely do. And it just makes it more convenient. And it pulls it together. And so it’s not just automation for the client, it’s automation for you, you know, kind of in terms of actual site creation and putting things together, you know, so, so that’s, that’s my, that’s kind of what my, our relentless kind of focus wastefully, we want to make. And I think that that’s where you’ll find a lot of the WordPress ecosystem heading is essentially making things easier and more cost efficient, and more powerful providing these tools to web developers and web designers. Where I where I think and this is just my personal opinion, having had a look at it myself is I don’t think that the future is going to be or is necessarily Going to the customer. I don’t think the future of a successful WordPress business in future is looking at how do I, you know, kind of how do I provide that from my level? Kind of saying, you know, COVID from a product development level? How do I deal with the particular customer? I think it’s how do I deal with the web developer, the web designer, who is then dealing with it, it’s a business to business, which is, which is where I think we’re at and is obviously you know, what you’re doing as well.
It’s interesting, I remember I had a client who was actually kind of a colleague. So I was, I was a bit taken aback by this comment, but he, he was going to use me to have me design his site for his business, he ended up going with Wix. And he told me, he’s like, Josh, are you worried about Wix, like running you and web designers out of business, because you might not be needed if diyers can do it themselves. 10 years later, here we are. And again, I always historically, say they really been an incredible sales tool for us, because people are still fed up with them. And if they’re not savvy enough, they should be dealing with websites.
So that’s an interesting take on that. And I’m really excited about that. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for web designers, I think for for folks like you and others who are in the, you know, supporting of web designers, also di wires, but you’re really focusing on us, which is awesome. Yeah, that’s really cool. James. Oh, man, I can’t believe we’re over an hour already. Exactly. A great, great wrap up point. I have one more question for you here. But I would love to know, where would you like everyone listening and watching to go? Is there a certain tool that we’ve talked about that you’d like everyone to try out? Or do you just want them to go to WPM you Dev? Where would you like to go after this?
Aha, that’s a great question. There’s so there’s so many cool things like knocking around the road. I mean, apart from obviously, taking us up on our Black Friday offer, which is on now on only.
I think this is gonna be released in early December. So we may just miss it. By the time this comes out.
Oh no. If you want to give it a go in December, then come around to us? Let’s have a think something that would really, really kind of a kind of come around to the ultimate WordPress developer. There are so many cool tools out there. I think at the end of the day, I would say to people that it’s always worth having another look back in the wordpress.org plugin repository. And the reason that I would say, that is that I think you’ll find that the standard of a lot of tools are really, really increasing in that area, a lot of people are realizing in my certainly my line of business, you pay it forward with, you know, the free kind of, you know, obviously, everything’s open source. But you know, you can have completely freely available, super high quality tools. There’s, there’s a lot, there’s a lot more going on there. And while of course, there are wonderful things in ThemeForest, and Code Canyon, and lots of other fantastic premium solutions, the source of truth, and the opportunity for the future is very much in that in wordpress.org.
There it is. And if you do any sort of plugin searching, you will no doubt find your guys’s plugins and your tools there. And of course, we’ll have it all linked in the show notes. I’ll make sure we we link this in there. That way everyone can check it out. If you’re just that the homepage on your site is a great way to just get a feel for everything that you got. I know it’s probably hard to articulate sometimes how much you can include, but it’s awesome. It really is an all in one solution. So I’m fine man. James, one final question for you. I’m just curious, as I love getting a chance to talk to CEOs and founders of companies and somebody like yourself, who’s really killing it in the industry. What fires you up? What is like when you wake up, you didn’t do it for a long time. So I imagine a lot of people could be burnout. I actually I use LearnDash for my courses. And I just noticed recently Justin announced that he was stepping back and he sold LearnDash he just wasn’t feeling the passion for it anymore. I don’t I don’t get that sense from you. And I applaud Justin for being upfront and real about that. I think it’s great. What keeps you passionate? What keeps you fired up about what you’re doing?
It’s the opportunity to manage and create and look after your own destiny, and to build your own client base, and to be in a position whereby you’re determining your own destiny and your own future. – James
Ah, yeah, good question. I suppose it’s like a philosophy of life question. I am no no, I’m definitely super passionate, I think the in terms of how I behave, I continue to enjoy what I’m doing. I mean, there’s I say, get making cool things that make people happy is never a boring thing. But we constantly listening to our members are kind of reinvention and ongoing kind of, you know, that kind of ongoing kind of evaluation and drive into new areas and trying new things and working around you know, kind of what what people are after, rather than kind of getting stuck in and I have in the past that stuck, you know, in different areas. That’s that’s super important. But for me, just speaking personally, I think I’m I’m excited and I enjoy the thing that that actually first got me when I when I first started this whole thing 2006 2007 Which I think I’m I see with all of our members, web developers and web designers who are looking after clients, which is the independence. It’s the opportunity to manage and create and look after your own destiny, and to build your own client base, and to be in a position whereby you’re determining your own destiny and your own future. And that’s, that’s something to me that I just find just the most, it’s the most important thing. And I love the fact and I feel incredibly blessed, incredibly happy that I am still in that position. So just speaking,
Adele, that’s awesome. I share the exact same sentiment, that’s what fires me up is the the opportunity that’s in front of everybody right now to to build the business that you want to build, like, if you want to, I’m very big on if you want to be a freelancer and a solopreneur. And do it all yourself and just hire some stuff out occasionally, you can do it. If you want to have a small team, you can do it. If you want to go the agency route, I didn’t want to go the agency route myself, you can do it, you can route you can really do whatever you want to do, which is awesome. It’s extremely empowering. It’s overwhelming sometimes. But at the end of the day, I’d much rather have the options available to us. And to have tools like you guys have and what WordPress is, is doing for us than to be restricted or to have only one path to go down like The options are endless. So that’s a great way to end this off, man. It gets super inspiring. And man James, thanks so much for taking some time out of your morning for us and I really really enjoyed chat with you and getting a peek behind the curtain with what you guys are doing with WPM you Dev and I’m so old man if anyone else isn’t so by this point, I CERAM so I’m excited to see what you guys cook up in the future here.
Thanks so much, Josh. Really appreciate it.
Awesome. Cheers, man.
What a great interview, Josh! Very impressed with James and his vision and success with his company. Having recently taken your WordPress Maintenance Course, this interview has really reinforced my goal to set up my maintenance care business sooner rather than later. WPMU DEV seems to be a good fit for this type of service. I will be looking into this further. Keep up the great work!
Awesome, Ken! If you end up using their hub for managing sites, I can’t wait to hear how it goes! They’re definitely a world-class company in the industry.
Josh – great interview with James. I’m one of those WPMUDEV “raving fans”. I’ve heard personally from James in a number of WPMUDEV forums (yes, you may well get a personal response from him). We switched from ManageWP about a year ago and never looked back. James is correct – their tech support is top notch. We mainly use The Hub to manage our client websites and provide our Website Security and Maintenance Plan but we also plan on migrating all of our websites to their VPS hosting 2022. The plugins are top-notch as well. If you haven’t checked out WPMUDEV yet, hurry over there now. You won’t regret it.
Great feedback, Mike! How do you find the tools in WPMU DEV compared to ManageWP? Updates, monitoring, backups, reporting, etc?
It’s reassuring to hear this article. I’ve been a WPMU fan for several years now and it always gets a hammering when I mention it in forums.
It’s a great product with a childish looking brand.
It they could sort their marketing out and get more people to overcome their beliefs of the company (which are probably 10 years old) it should be on the leaders in the industry.
Thanks for doing this
That’s interesting insight, Tim. Yeah the super hero branding was my first exposure to them which worked in a lot of ways but I can see some people viewing it as a childish look. Either way, they’re continuing to produce high-quality tools which always lead to growth and customer fans. Excited to see where things go.
Cool hearing your take!
I appreciate the branding, and I’m not a young person at all. Nor am I a shill for his company.
It’s consistent with the tone of their support–quite friendly. It connotes to me they enjoy what they create and what they do. The hero avatars make it easy to conceptualize what their products do and it’s easy to visually scan.
Plus, they allow you to remove the heroes and white-label the plug-ins as a service provider.
I think calling the branding “childish” is pretty harsh. No matter what some people say in some forum.
That’s great stuff, Jeremy. I agree, I was never put off by the branding. In fact, in the early days, the super-hero branding is what I recognized before remembering the name 🙂
Appreciate your thoughts!