One of the legacies of WordPress is that it has played a pivotal role in democratizing the exchange of information and ideas while lowering the barrier to entry for business. Becoming an expert in WordPress opens up a host of vocational opportunities, but many turn to the platform with an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to make money on their own terms.
With four profitable start-ups under his belt and a deep engineering background, our CTO and founder Jason Cohen knows a thing or two about what it takes to build a successful business (while keeping your sanity) on the WordPress platform. This was the insight he imparted to the audience of WordPress developers and evangelists at the second annual Loopconf conference last week in Salt Lake City.
LoopConf is a three-day event for technically-minded folks that want to dive deep into advanced engineering and development topics around WordPress. This year’s agenda included all day workshops where you could learn, for example, how to create a better user experience with the WordPress Customizer, as well as a smattering of insightful and inspiring talks by a diverse set of speakers.
As you might expect, many of talks focused on how to approach some of the big trends to hit WordPress and the web – including preparing websites for HTTPS, using WordPress as a headless CMS, and leveraging the REST API – but the organizers took care to round out the agenda with discussions on other important, yet often overlooked issues affecting people in the WordPress community.
Jason Cosper, a Senior Technologist at WP Engine and “Boy #5” as Cohen likes to affectionately refer to him, said that one of his favorite presentations addressed the need to consciously foster a positive and inclusive WordPress community, especially as it continues to rapidly grow in contributors and drive open source technology. Other presentations raised awareness of mental health issues in the developer community and offered communication skills for strengthening business relationships.
Among all the discussion of plug-ins, performance and the future of WordPress – Jason Cohen closed down the conference with his keynote that seemed to tie it all together in answering the real question on everyone’s minds – “how can I make some serious cash with WordPress?”
His talk crystallized his experiences into three key lessons that he believes are key to building the “perfect bootstrapped business” – meaning one that predictably generates recurring revenue with an annual prepaid model in a huge market. The discussion touched on how to grow your business, land on the right market price, and manage yourself as the sole proprietor.
The presentation got a lot of laughs too with Jason’s typical enthusiasm and slightly irreverent sense of humor on full display, such as when he shared screen shots of embarrassing UX blunders from his past businesses to drive home his point that entrepreneurial developers should be focused on the question of what will double the size of my business instead of obsessing over things that you think are more important than they are, like UX. Other insights such as not undervaluing your product and setting your prices much higher than you think are acceptable were well received by the audience.
The subject is complicated but Jason’s advice for WordPress entrepreneurs is simple:
- Focus honestly on what will double the business
- Trust yourself
- Be inspired by you, but don’t blindly follow others
If you’re interested in learning more, you can view the talk in full here.
Overall, our first participation in Loopconf was a success and we enjoyed the opportunity to have a strong presence through our sponsorship and Jason’s keynote. It’s definitely an event to watch for bringing the brightest minds in WordPress together to network, learn from each other and push the industry forward.