Some wise man said, “Nothing lasts forever.” A website is a fragile construction and can break for a hundred reasons, and it will inevitably break when you don’t expect it. You can never be 100% ready for a broke. So, imagine that your website crashed.
What are you going to do?
On one of the WordCamps, TemplateMonster met a fascinating guy called Joe Howard. With the help of the company he created, you will never find yourself in a situation when you have to urgently seek for someone who will help you to fix a website – Joe’s team will take care of you.
Joe started his career in web development as a freelancer, building websites for clients and helping them with digital marketing. After some time, he realized that a ton of WordPress website owners out there don’t want to care about maintaining their websites – after setting a platform up they just want it to work. Indeed, most of them don’t want to put any efforts in further servicing of the project and look for someone else to do it. That was the moment when Joe decided to set up his own company, WP Buffs, that would help clients protect, fasten and fix WordPress websites. Joe’s new team efforts don’t go unnoticed – in Google Rating WP Buffs is estimated at 4,9 out of 5.
We in TemplateMonster were fascinated with Joe’s personality. In his company’s blog, he not only shares tons of useful information about website security and maintenance but also openly tells the audience about his screw up’s! We can’t miss the opportunity to speak to him about his work, so our beautiful interviewer, Alexandra Payne, contacted Joe and had an interesting conversation with him.
Alexandra: You were engaged in WordPress development long before you started the company. How long did it take you to build an idea of what you wanted to do?
Joe: Like most people, I’ve tried many jobs in my adult life. After I graduated, I taught math at a high school for two years. I then worked in a couple of digital marketing startups, and I worked as a government consultant as well. And during all that time I was freelancing, building websites and helping customers with their digital marketing.
But the side I didn’t like was that I had to look for a new client every time I finished the project. So, I thought of finding a better business model than just building and selling websites. You know, WordPress powers 30% of the Internet, there is a lot of people who have websites, and I bet they need help with ongoing support and maintenance. I know many website owners have slow websites which are not secure and taken care of. So, I did the quick research and found out that other companies were already doing that, so I thought, ‘Why not me’?
Alexandra: How did you come up with your business model?
Joe: I liked the idea of selling care plans, so I would have a base of clients and have a stable income. I started WPBuffs as a side job and using this model, I managed to move to doing it full-time.
Alexandra: Sounds like a very inspiring success story. But was the way so smooth? Were there ups and downs on the way to company’s success?
Joe: It was definitely not easy. The process was slow at the very beginning. We were learning on the go, figuring out what people needed and how we were supposed to do that. When we only started out it was just two of us: the developer and me. And eventually, slowly but surely, we made it. 🙂
Alexandra: Let’s talk about your marketing strategy. What ways of attracting visitors to your website do you consider to be the best?
Joe: The way we do our marketing at WPBuffs is through inbound marketing. We write a lot of content on our blog, people find it in Google and learn about who we are and what we do. And then some of those people buy our care plans.
It took years to get to the point when we would generate enough traffic to attract a decent number of leads.
Alexandra: How do you build the relationship with WP Buffs community?
Joe: We always try to engage with our customers and gather their feedback. This has been our initial goal over all this time - to ask what people wanted and how they wanted it to be done. We do it with the help of our email list, live-chat, ‘Thank you’ pages and social media. This way you can ask people questions, get their answers and grow and become better for your clients.
Alexandra: What are your bits of advice for beginning entrepreneurs especially those who are involved in an online business?
Joe: If I could send a note to myself back in time, I’d say, ‘Whatever business you’re trying to start, things are going to go wrong!:)’. No one is the history of the world has ever started a company that went successful and profitable overnight. Everyone is going to make mistakes, tons of mistakes, on their way. But it never should discourage you. I’ve made hundreds of mistakes starting the company, but we did figure the things out, and we are still running. And this is what makes the difference between people who build successful companies and those who don’t.
I’ve just read a book called ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. I was amazed by how many mistakes he made. He should probably have shut down his business and forgot about it, but look where Nike is now! So, the conclusion is: don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Go and learn from them and grow bigger.
In my case, when I was starting out, I knew a bit about security, but I didn’t know a ton. So, I dove into that and was learning, searching for stuff and getting more advanced in that field. Nothing should stop you. Keep persisting, keep going, turn it into your lifestyle, and you’ll achieve what you want.
Alexandra: Right, if you’re a business owner you constantly need to learn and get inspiration continuously. Now there is a ton of helpful resources on the web. What are your favorite ones (podcasts, YT channels, blogs) on marketing, entrepreneurship, and personal development?
Joe: As a person who runs a remote team I need to know how to be a leader. So I often turn on EntreLeadership. It has been really helpful in terms of learning how to be a better entrepreneur and leader. I also like Startups For The Rest Of Us, which is an excellent podcast for getting more ideas on how to develop your business, especially if you’re a SaaS company. I also do read a lot. I follow plenty of blogs and people who are influential in the field of SEO because most of our marketing is built on SEO and I have to make sure we stay on top of that.