Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I’m Jason Correia. Founder of WP Manager, a WordPress Maintenance Subscription Service based in the UK.
WP Manager provides site care plans for a diverse range of clients, everything from small blog websites, to e-commerce stores, and to complex LMS systems. Our site care plans form part of our core service offering.
But, we do additionally offer services such as WordPress hosting, web development services and ad-hoc tweaks, malware removal, WordPress security, and much more. We are in the process of launching further exciting new services and add-ons this year.
Site Care has become a growing market. There are many developers or agencies now offering a WordPress Maintenance or support plan for their clients. It’s vital though because without regular backups, maintenance, and updates to plugins and themes - you leave yourself at risk of a hacked or broken website. Most business owners won’t have the time to carry out those kinds of routine maintenance tasks, even if they have the technical knowledge. That’s where we come in.
We’ve come a long way since our initial launch. Since the initial concept came about, we’ve tripled our core team size and established a solid recurring revenue stream from a loyal customer base and built a well-respected reputation in the U.K for being one of the most trusted WordPress site care and support providers. Our growth has been strong, even throughout extremely uncertain times this year and we are now at a point of launching and developing some exciting new product features and services for our customers which we believe will further extend our reach in the U.K and into new and lucrative markets.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I wrote my first line of code at ten years old. It was part of an online game (not even a good one), and of course, at that age, I wasn’t a particularly skilled developer. Actually, I had no idea I had even written HTML, or what coding even was. Anyway, looking back - those few (badly written) lines of code actually helped develop and shape my career over time.
Fast-forwarding around 15 years on and many failed startups later, I was working at a large logistics business as their digital strategist (which basically just meant that I was the web developer, digital marketeer, and ad-hoc IT guy). At this time, I had worked in several different roles inside and out of the digital industry - web design, digital marketing, sales but I still had no real idea what my big idea would be for a business and had grown very realistic and weary of the hype around the startup space.
Despite what I thought was a relatively stable career choice, I still had an overdraft that just never seemed to disappear. I was tired, miserable, and stressed. I never really had the time or energy left for anything beyond what was quite a lot of responsibility at my day to day job.
During my career, I still had occasional requests from contacts asking for me to “fix” their website every so often. I had built up quite a good base of contacts and clients over time and became their go-to guy for anything WordPress, thankfully! It was only one specific day when someone cc’d me into an email and literally referred to me as their “WordPress Manager” that I had realized that I had really built and already developed a specialism throughout my career, even though the term made me laugh, as it’s not quite correct!
Distinguishing yourself in any industry isn’t easy to achieve, don’t expect to have an overnight success. It can sometimes take a year to see results.
Sometime later, I was called into my M.D’s office and told that I was being made redundant. It was quite a shock for me. I had always had a broad range of skills, worked hard, and provided impact, but there were factors at play that meant he had to let me go for financial reasons apparently.
I wasn’t really angry or sad that I had been let go, but I was in debt, had no real money, and wasn’t sure how I was going to afford rent next month for my apartment. None of this really hit me at the time. I was lucky though, compared to some people who have a mortgage or kids, as I was able to sell my things, leave my flat and crash at my then girlfriend's parent's home and it was just me to worry about.
This was probably the riskiest but most important and one of the most difficult times of my life, but I had decided I no longer wanted to spend my time doing things I didn’t care about every day. I had a specialism and experience in web development (WordPress in particular) and a passion for helping people. So, I decided (much to the annoyance of many around me) to not seek a job, but to instead invest the last £7.63 in my bank into purchasing a domain name and becoming a “WordPress Manager” for anyone who needed help with their website! Thankfully, it all worked out.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I started the business really before “Site Care” or “WordPress Maintenance” really became a thing. Today, there are a lot more competitors and it’s a hugely growing market. But back then, my timing was right in terms of point of entry and I had worked incredibly hard on my SEO.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help or advice. I always hated asking others for help, but you can't do everything all by yourself - trust me, I tried.
Looking back, I really bootstrapped everything initially - I had no real money, so didn’t have much choice. Using my laptop (which was crap) and just the website, which I optimised regularly for SEO and a simple email address - I steadily built a client base of recurring subscriptions, fixing bugs, solving WordPress, and general website problems.
This took a few years to really become a business, extending beyond a “brand name” for my freelance specialisms. Really, when I estimate what has gotten the business from nothing but a website to our current setup, it’s the initial SEO and level of service that has given us a good reputation and platform to build on.
Most of the industry competitors at the time were using the bronze, silver, gold membership plans which were all too generic. So, I really focused on making sure that the service I offered actually explained and was clear as to “what” the service covers and “how” that can help.
Describe the process of launching the business.
WP Manager was purely built on the back of hard work on our organic SEO with genuine customer reviews and referrals. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, but so is your search engine ranking. There was not really a single point of launch for us (unless you count taking the website out of maintenance mode and publishing it) as I had no budget really at the time.
Time was the biggest investment we made. No credit cards, loans, or investment required there. I spent all my time and efforts trying to genuinely provide the best service we could for our customers and it was that dedication, along with our own organic marketing that helped us grow and establish ourselves. It has taken us around 2 years to really establish our brand and provide a stable, recurring business income.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Every business is different. For us, our target market was mainly online. That can be a difficult market to cater to on a low or non-existent budget starting out. Instead, I worked on our organic SEO. This took years to get right and come to fruition, but now our customers mostly find us online when they are looking for a solution to their problems.
If you run a service business the best thing you can do is ensure that you really take care of your customers. Giving a good service often leads to recommendations, so it’s a win-win, you keep your customers happy - the word spreads and word of mouth can be a powerful marketing tool. This is also vital in keeping your customer base and retention levels high, it’s easier to keep customers than gain new ones and you would be surprised at how supportive your clients will be of you and your business if you deliver them a good service. That’s a big part of our core focus and values, thankfully we don’t lose many customers at all, so retention hasn’t been an issue.
When starting out, social media can be a great tool. BUT - be authentic! No one wants to be sold to, it’s important to use those social channels (sometimes less is more), to showcase not just what the product or service provides, but what makes your business unique. For most social channels, your reach will be low without using paid advertising, unfortunately, but this doesn’t always apply for all channels and it’s worth testing some ads with a small budget first to see what works for your brand. You may find a specific social channel that you weren’t focusing on actually becomes your most successful marketing channel.
Build an email list, but give people a reason to sign-up! Mailchimp is a great tool for starting out. Press is also a great tool and can be leveraged well especially during the start-up phase, this is particularly relevant if you are targeting a specific niche or have a new product idea. Don’t rule out local PR too, a local newspaper may not be your target market, maybe you are marketing online or to a specific location - but there are so many opportunities that can come from press and PR coverage.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, things are great. The future's looking bright for WP Manager. We have improved our systems, launched new service plans, and are planning to potentially launch new service add-ons, as well as enter new markets. We expect to double our turnover in our second year based on the current rate of growth and we have made a profit in our first year of trading. Additionally, our conversion rate for marketing is high with low spend and most of our customers find us through our organic SEO ranking.
For me personally, I no longer have an overdraft, any debt, and a better work-life balance. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and work remotely, whilst building and running WP Manager.
But, it’s become so much more than my individual journey. WP Manager is now a business with lots of potentials, we have a great team, loyal customer base and with a lot of time and investment this year, we now have all the systems and processes in place to push ahead and grow further next year.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Distinguishing yourself in any industry isn’t easy to achieve, especially when you’re exhausted from working all night and day on your own business (as well as trying to provide the best service to your customers). Just like the above! It will take time and probably sleep away from you. So, don’t expect to have an overnight success, it can sometimes take a year to see results, 2-3 years even. Give 100% and never stop working on it, but be patient as it takes time to come to fruition.
In terms of lessons learned, I would say don’t rush into anything. Yes, you will learn the most from your mistakes, and being agile is a plus in today’s environment. That doesn’t mean you should wing everything if you can. Because the decisions you make today can be quite long and far-ranging and affect you for years. For example, offering the right services, having the right pricing and the right target market or niche to focus on. That’s vital because those factors are much harder to re-align or change once your business is already running.
Don’t launch a startup just for the money. If you want a solid paycheck every month, find a job and career pathway that rewards you for your specialism. If you’re truly passionate about your idea, the results and financial rewards will likely follow in time. Make sure to test the concept - is there a real need for your product or service? Do your research, if there are hundreds of other similar products or services that are the same as yours, what will your USP be? Otherwise, why would anyone buy from you?
Overall though, you can never start a successful business or launch a startup - without actually starting it! I know so many people who have an idea they have been developing for years, that never ends up going anywhere. Get out there! If you fail at something, it doesn’t matter. You’ll learn so much from any failures along the way and it will help shape not just your business or offering, but also you, as a founder.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Todoist: handy to-do list and task software
- Trello: great for project management, managing remote teams
- Calendly: meetings, calendar bookings - perfect for scheduling in calls
- Teamwork: great for tasks, support systems, chat and much more
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I often struggle to find time to read. There is no one start-up book or business book that will give you all the answers anyway. Generally, anything to help you keep productive is worth reading, but don’t forget to make sure you’re always up to date with your industry - what is going on, new opportunities and new challenges, the news can be your best friend when it comes to planning.
I would probably recommend “Business Model Generation” by Alexander Osterwalder and “The Power Of Habit” by Charles Duhigg as two books that may help you formulate and scope a start-up idea - and help develop productive habits to aid along the way.
Additionally, meditate - or practice meditation if you can. There are lots of free apps and having a clear mind can help you when things become stressful or if you have a big decision to make.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Just take the first steps. Even if you’re doing this all in the background whilst working full-time, you’ll be surprised how much you can achieve with a few hours in the evening.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help or advice. I always hated asking others for help, but you can't do everything all by yourself - trust me, I tried. Build a network of friends and family who can act as your support network when things are tough.
Find a mentor. Some simple advice can help, even if your mentor isn’t experienced in your industry - they may make some suggestions or general advice that you will appreciate down the line.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always looking to expand our team and have a number of remote, flexible, freelance opportunities, as well as part-time roles. So, if you’re a web developer or have experience in dealing with customers inquiries and technical tickets in a support role, get in touch!
Where can we go to learn more?
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