Archive for WordPress

Need Quality WordPress Hosting? Check Out Liquid Web

The First-Things-First Disclosures: I fully believe in everything I’m saying here, or else I wouldn’t share it. My company, iThemes, is a partner of theirs (through our iThemes Sync Pro product). My wife, Lindsey Miller, is Liquid Web’s new partner manager, and I’m very good friends with Chris Lema, VP of Product, and A.J. Morris, Product Manager. Also, there is an affiliate link here. 

Simply put: The state of WordPress hosting mostly sucks. Since 2008, when I started iThemes, WordPress hosting has gotten worse and worse, and only recently have I seen many of the companies I once recommended start to get better.

If you’re looking for quality WordPress hosting … meaning you care about your site, and use it to build your business or organization … I believe Liquid Web has one of the most compelling offers around for a number of reasons … here are mine:

  • They’ve defined what hosting support should be — They don’t just offer 24/7/365 support … if you need help and ping their 800-number or live chat, you’ll actually be talking with someone who knows what they are doing, and aren’t trying to sell you something. The last time I check, 200 of their 250+ support team are Red Hat-certified. So Heroic Support isn’t just a tagline, it’s core to who they are. As I walked through one of their offices in Lansing, Michigan last year, you could just see and feel the commitment to a client-first, support-first culture. It’s part of their identity. I think few can actually claim they do “managed” support like Liquid Web can. Their NPS score, which puts them in a VERY rare category is a result I think of their focus on customer support.
  • They own their hardware — This is significant and rare and means they can control the whole environment as they aren’t relying on someone else. I’ve seen it (well, through a window!). If they have an issue, they go fix it … themselves.
  • A WordPress hosting platform that’s only getting better and faster — led by my friend Chris Lema, their WordPress hosting platform is killing it every week with new features that benefit you and your site. So whatever you buy now will only get better.
  • iThemes Sync Pro comes with it — We’ve partnered with Liquid Web to offer every WordPress hosting customer of theirs our awesome site management tools.
  • Just plain ole good people — Beyond my wife, Chris, A.J. and others, I’ve also met most of their Executive Team, in fact, some of them have been in our home in Oklahoma City.
  • Don’t just take my word for it — You should also read what Shawn Hesketh of WP101 and WordPress developer and Lynda.com instructor Carrie Dills have said about Liquid Web’s offering. (They give much more compelling technical reasons that I didn’t share here!) See also: SEO Bootcamp’s Giveaway, Kim’s review, Tara’s review, and Joe’s review too.  And I’m confident you’ll see more and more people recommending Liquid Web soon.

Go Check out Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress Hosting here. 

The Key Missing Ingredient to Effective WordPress Websites

So many times in my own freelancing web design experience, I’ve found that I’d get a website done for a client, only to wait for content. And wait. And wait. And wait.

It’s a sad fact about most websites. They simply don’t have good content (or content at all) to properly market and sell their products and services. Their content does not get their site indexed and then ranked for that content in the search engines, which is essential to drive leads and sales for their businesses.

For many web designers, content is the biggest frustration. Their projects are completed, but left waiting on the client to provide the content.

From the client’s side, the website owner’s perspective, writing is tough.

Admit it: We all might think we can write the content about our business or organization, but when it comes down to it, we don’t have the time and energy, or perhaps even expertise to do it well. After all, if you’re a dentist, or a real estate agent, the expertise you might be paid well for isn’t writing web copy.

Getting a good WordPress website is the first step to growing your business online … but content is what drives the action, making that vehicle come alive and drive and grow business.

Content marketing is all the words, images, videos, etc that inform, educate and sell. And it’s absolutely essential for a good effective website.

That’s why I’m excited to share that my wife, Lindsey, an experienced entrepreneur, has started a content marketing business called Click Start Creative.

If you’re a web designer who wants a partner to help their clients with content, or a website owner stuck in neutral with content marketing, go check out Lindsey’s new business today. She can schedule a phone call to talk about your business and your goals and then translate that into an action plan to get your business growing online today.

As you might expect, I highly recommend her.

 

Why BackupBuddy Gold?

In the past I’ve been openly against “unlimited” and “lifetime” options, particularly in WordPress. (Don’t get me started on hosting.) You can check out my previous post on Sustainable Business Models in WordPress here for background.

This week though, we launched BackupBuddy Gold … which grants customers lifetime updates to all current and future features of BackupBuddy, our extremely popular WordPress backup, restore and migration plugin that is now 4 years old.

So you might be thinking, “Did you change your mind?”

Not really.

And I’ll unpack that below.

I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion, debate, and [gasp] criticism, so I thought I’d do a post sharing some thoughts about why we’re rolling this out. (I’m sure there will be comments that I don’t address here, so I’ll try to answer in the comments or by updating the post.)

First things first — we did NOT roll this offer this new package for BackupBuddy because sales were slow, declining or even plateaued. iThemes is financially healthy and strong, BackupBuddy is doing great, and our team of 20+ people is looking toward our next 6 years in business!

OK, so here are some answers to the question you probably are wondering about, “Why open the box?”

1. The real issue with unlimited is ….

SUPPORT

Support is extremely expensive.

Particularly with what we’ve seen supporting commercial WordPress themes and plugins. That’s what I said about “compounding debt” in my previous post. (I use the word “support” about 15 times in that post.)

For instance, if someone buys the first BackupBuddy tier (2 site updates and support) and has to post in our forum, we’ve likely lost money. Compound that loss if Dustin, our lead dev, has to weigh in on the issue, which he does regularly.

That’s why we capped support at one year for BackupBuddy Gold.

For this conversation (one particularly debated within WordPress), it’s all about support.

Thus, BackupBuddy Gold does not give unlimited, forever, or lifetime support. We capped it at one year.

2. Renewal rates

We have some very loyal customers (who renewed every year and who we also offered generous discounts to for this offer — THANK YOU!). But the majority of people did not renew over the last four years of BackupBuddy.

Now we’re getting paid upfront for the equivalent of what we would have gotten paid over several years of renewals.

As the veteran and leader in the backup and restore space for WordPress, now those loyal customers will get a great deal to keep using BackupBuddy to back up their sites.

3. It’s a much higher price point.

We didn’t roll this out at $80 … we rolled it out at an introductory price of $297. That can and will probably change.

At $80, we wouldn’t offer one year of support plus lifetime updates. We think we’re giving it away now … so I couldn’t imagine doing it at a lower price point.

BackupBuddy has grown so much over the years and become such a more awesome product. Offering Gold at this higher price is more than justified because BackupBuddy is going to get even better and even more valuable over the years our customers will have access to it in the future.

4. We can always shut Gold offer down.

(… and of course grandfather in customers who bought it.)

We could be wrong. This could be a flop and a failure. And I’m ok with that.

That’s the thing with learning. But if we don’t try, how will we know if it’s good or bad? Without action, it’s purely an academic pursuit.

And I’m about action.

I’m tired of getting hung up in what ifs. We did plenty of that before launching this. We evaluated and debated this for several weeks and decided it was worth the potential risk to offer.

But I’m not afraid to fail. To step into the light and see if our thoughts and ideas have merit.

That’s why I reserve the right to be wrong about all the above and change my mind about any and all of this. 🙂

***

[Hat tip to Syed Balkhi for helping me think through offering what we now call BackupBuddy Gold.]

What Does the Future Hold for WordPress?

Reflecting on 10 years of having WordPress in the world (anniversary was yesterday), I just published a post titled The Future of WordPress and gave 6 keys and challenges for how this awesome software can stay relevant.

Six keys to the future of WordPress:

  1. Blogging
  2. Mobile
  3. Identity
  4. Security
  5. Freedom
  6. You

And here are 10 ideas for how you can give back:

  1. Help get someone started on WordPress.
  2. Write a blog post about why you love WordPress.
  3. Teach someone WordPress web design.
  4. Join or start a WordPress Meetup group in your city.
  5. Attend and volunteer at a WordCamp.
  6. Proudly wear your WordPress swag everywhere.
  7. Start a business around WordPress.
  8. Contribute to the WordPress documentation.
  9. Report a bug or submit a patch.
  10. Let your voice be heard.

And be sure to check out my full post here.

 

My New Custom WordPress Theme

It’s been well over a year since I had our chief designer, Ty Carlson, for our Creative Services team redesign my website … but recently asked him to put on a new coat of paint.

Ty is one of the most talented web designers I’ve known, redesigning some of Oklahoma’s largest blog sites this year like The Lost Ogle, so asking him to redo my personal site was a no-brainer but overdue.

I occasionally blog, but it serves mostly as my main portfolio of all the work and projects I’m involved in. This site doesn’t get as much TLC as it needs so if you see something let me know in the comments please.

And if you want to take your site to the next level, contact our Creative Services team here.