Last week I decided to go back to my roots in WordPress and start a WordPress support business, WP Master. I wrote about it here:
I’m going to be putting together monthly updates as part of the process of building this business in public, this is the first one.
In my last post I gave an update on why I wanted to start the business in the first place. To break it down more specifically, I’m doing it because it meets the criteria of what I want and don’t want right now in my journey, specifically:
- I don’t want to work for someone else, so I need to spin up a business quickly that brings in enough income to get by.
- I don’t want the stresses of my last business (physical machinery, invoice terms, HR, complicated financials etc).
- I don’t want co-founders, I want something I have 100% control over.
- I don’t want to do work I don’t enjoy – particularly sales, chasing invoices. I want to spend my day doing things I enjoy.
- I don’t want the financial stress of not knowing where the next payment so it has to be a consistent income.
I essentially want to make a reliable consistent wage doing work I like and as little stress as possible. Not to say I don’t want any of the above things ever again, but I want to have a feeling that I’ve got a baseline to fall back on and a future where I can work for myself with little risk and little stress and an income stream that I’m 100% in control of.
So. To be specific these are the goals I’m going for:
- Generate $45,000 in annual wage reliably and consistency. I’ve structured my finances to the point where that is enough for me to have as a baseline wage and not need a job.
- Continue to create content – 3 major pieces of content per week (I love doing content).
- Maintain some level of balance and mental health – part of this will be doing a few more things with other founders (since I’ll be working from home and that can drive a person crazy).
Once I find this balance the plan is to re-assess. I could possibly keep the business as an ongoing thing and have other projects I work on on the side (I’m still working on SOP app Jessop but it will have to take a backseat for now while I get my baseline finances sorted). Or possibly I could look to grow WP Master, but I think that path is probably unlikely.
Goal 1 – $45,000 ARR
This time around I don’t want to take months or years before I’m generating income, I want to do it quicker. So my plan is to buy an existing client base. I’ve started looking at places like Acquired.com and Flippa.com and a few other places. I’m looking for anything that loosely fits into what I’m doing but ideally I’ll find a business not dissimilar to my old agency – a bunch of recurring clients on a hosting or support subscription, a list to market to and a little bit of Monthly Recurring Revenue. Ideally I’ll find something relatively cheap that brings in about $20,000 ARR.
With that as a starting point I want to slowly onboard clients for WP Master. I only need about 8 clients on the WP Master Premium Plan to hit my overall goal so the idea is sign clients up very slowly, do a great job for them and don’t overwhelm myself to the point where I’m giving a shitty service. I figure in my own existing audience there’s probably 4 or 5 people who’ll sign up for it, and if I can get a new audience who are mostly on WordPress, I can offer a few final slots to make up the difference.
Here’s my main todo list to kick off WP Master:
- Hook up with a WordPress developer that I can use as a fallback if I run into problems I can’t solve. I’m a bit limited with my coding skills but I can solve most issues I come up against in WordPress (especially these days with the help of AI). But I don’t want to ever be stuck with a client site down not knowing what to do, so I’ve got a few developers that I use regularly and I can get involved if needed. (done)
- Create a site up at wpmaster.com.au (done, took about a day)
- Launch service to current clients that offers 2 tiers(done)
- Create WordPress site audit that I use to review people’s sites when they sign up (done)
- Add businesses to my personal site (done see here)
- Send out an email to my email list with an offer to get signups. (done)
- Create a post about the new business and share on my social media platforms (done)
- Update my LinkedIn title. (done)
*Note I’m currently offering 2 plans, an $80 and a $250 plan. I mainly want people on the $250 plan so depending on how signups go I might scrap the $80 completely for now until I hit my goal, then possibly bring it back in later.
I’m looking for legit businesses that ideally have a proper physical business and their website is important but not mission critical for them. Time will tell whether I can find these companies and whether having 2 plans on there will help or hinder things.
Because building recurring revenue takes time I may do some one off jobs to hit my monthly income goals in the short term. Ideally I don’t have to but if I do, it will be temporary and I’ll phase the one off jobs out once I hit my recurring revenue goal.
The final task is to start rolling out the content strategy, more on that below.
Goal 2 – Content Creation
I’ve been really happy creating content for myself again. I feel like I created some epic stuff for Black Hops (a book, a podcast, hundreds of blog posts), and that content couldn’t have gone any better. It inspired hundreds of brewers, it put us on the map, got the attention of major companies for partnership deals and engaged an audience of tens of thousands of super fans.
But in doing that, I shut down all of my personal content. I cancelled my membership, my personal podcast, stopped selling info products, stopped doing anything on my personal site other than the very occasional post, shut down my personal Facebook group and much more.
Similarly with WP Curve when I sold that business all of my content went with it (hundreds of blog posts, podcast episodes, lead magnets etc). And when I sold my first agency it was the same thing. A blog with hundreds of posts, Twitter account with thousands of followers etc all gone.
In the end, although I’m extremely proud of the content I’ve done under other brands, I’m left with nothing personally, and I want to change that. I want to re-invigorate my personal content and I plan to do 3 major pieces of content per week to keep that happening, along with my weekly email updates which I just kicked off again.
- I have a weekly podcast that I do with craft beer legend Hendo. It’s called The Boss and the Brewer. It’s never going to be a huge show given the tight niche it operates in, but it keeps me engaged with the craft beer market which I’d like to stay in touch with and I love doing it. So the plan is to keep this going as a weekly show.
- I’ve been writing again on this blog. I’m aiming to just write one article per week to give me content for my weekly newsletter. So far I’ve been able to do a reasonable job at sticking to this. I’m going to do a monthly update like this one so that leaves only 3 articles a month to write, so that should be easy enough.
- I’m going to start another podcast. I figured my journey back into being a solo founder was a good chance to network with other solo founders and do it via a podcast. I have 2 friends and we’ve had a 3 way chat going since 2018 when we all got into Crypto. We all have very different things we’re working on and very different skillsets, but we have a lot of common interests. So watch out this week for episode 1!
On top of that I plan to turn the WordPress site audit into a lead magnet for the website and I will start doing website reviews as ways to put some content up on the site.
Goal 3 – Maintain some level of balance and mental health
The ups and downs of a founder’s journey is fucking ruthless. Staying mentally well through the whole thing feels almost impossible, but it’s a cause worth pursuing for sure. For my new phase I’m dealing with a lot of demons – trauma’s from the past, anxiety about the future, financial instability and stress you name it. One thing I’m especially nervous about is going back to working from home and working by myself. When I first did it in 2006 I thought it was awesome. A few months in though, I realised it absolutely sucked.
Working from home is lonely, working for yourself is lonely, working remotely generally is tough. I have a few ideas but I am certainly a little nervous about going back to being at home all the time starring at my computer 24 / 7. Here is what I have so far:
- I deliberately wanted to start a service business because I will have clients that rely on me. This might seem weird but trust me when you have no one wanting anything from you, it leads to bad shit. I need some kind of accountability, some reason to do things or I’m prone to fall into a vortex of wasting time and having no purpose. I have spent long enough with that feeling, I don’t want that feeling anymore.
- My content on this blog gives me a lot of purpose and engagement from my audience. In particular my weekly email and the replies I get give me a lot of support. You’d be surprised how much value there is in sharing your journey and having other founders share theirs. We’re a weird bunch us founders, we need to stick together.
- I’m going to continue with my current Boss and the Brewer Podcast and double down and launch the new podcast. Might seem a little bit lame, but I find the podcast is a great excuse to chat to someone else, get in a bit of socialisation and also create some content – not to mention you learn stuff each week.
- I’d love to go on other podcasts and shows. I don’t want to reach out to people specifically for that purpose but I’ll keep my ears peeled for opportunities.
I’m sure I need to do more here, if you have ideas let me know!
OK so the purpose of this is to give an update on how things are going. I’m only a week into the WP Master launch but I’ve been chipping away at the other bits and pieces for a while so I’ve got some stuff to share.
Goal 1 – $45,000 ARR
I’m pretty stoked that after launching last week I’ve already signed up 4 clients with WP Master. I’m not pushing this too hard because I want to make sure I do a good job for them and don’t want to be distracted with new client signups. I’m only trying to get 8 clients for now so 4 after 1 week is definitely enough!
It’s been interesting getting back into the WordPress space and doing it on my terms. There’s certainly no shortage of problems people need help with and I think I can give some good value to people here. I’ve made a note to write a post about what I’ve noticed leaving the WordPress space in 2015 and getting back into it now.
Client list purchase
I’ve been spending time on sites like Acquired.com and Flippa.com looking for a suitable small acquisition. I’ve found one that looks like it could be about right and I’m talks with the seller. There’s still a fair way to go on this but not a bad start, let’s see how this goes.
Goal 2 – Content Creation
My written content is going well. I got actively back into writing on this blog and sending my weekly email a few months ago. I published the results in this post here. Overall I think the results are great. I’ve had lots of good feedback from people. A lot of people in the online business space that I have been out of touch with are reaching out. I’ve had one article syndicated to a big Aussie startup news site Smart Company and I’ve had direct customer signups from the content. Not a bad start!
Keeping up with writing content each week is not easy. For me I don’t have any interest in creating content for the sake of creating content. I only want to write something if I think it will be useful or interesting to someone else. So the challenge will be to do things each week that are interesting and then I think I should be fine to come up with content ideas.
I’ve started the process of putting the new podcast together with me and 2 friends. One of the guys came up with a sick name and logo and today I registered the domain (so happy it was available), put up the WordPress site and within about 2 hours it was live ready to go. Tomorrow I’m going to get a short piece of audio from each of the guys to use as a teaser and excuse to submit it to Apple / Spotify etc and this week we will record our first episode. I’m thinking we interview each other for the first 3 episodes and then see where it goes. Jump on my weekly emails for the podcast launch announcement.
Once I complete all of those tasks, if I’m not close to the ARR goal I’ll look at putting some money into paid ads. Of course I’d rather not but I think for something like this to get a handful of clients quickly it’s not a bad option. Paid ads is definitely not my strength so let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Goal 3 – Maintain some level of balance and mental health
On this front I’ve been really enjoying having clients come on board and me being required to be available to help them out. I’ve been sitting idle for too long and I’ve been loving having stuff to do. Hopefully I can keep a good service going and keep clients happy.
I’ve been getting a lot of love for the recent blog posts and I’m really enjoying being back creating personal content again. It’s always a bit of a balance. I’m not creating the content for me, it has to be useful to others – or at least be something that other founders can relate to. But in doing so, it’s great for me as well, and I’ve been able to do that in a couple of recent posts which is a nice feeling to have again.
On the podcast front, my weekly beer podcast Boss and the Brewer continues and I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s getting some reasonable traction and most of all I’m stoked that we’ve been able to do it consistently for a year and a half. One of my biggest fears with starting something new is not being able to follow through with it. I sat on this idea for a long time. I don’t think I’ve told my co-host Hendo this but I thought about the idea of doing that podcast for at least a year before we did it. Same as the new podcast I’m doing, at least a year.
I’m very cautious to launch new things. For one, I’m reminded of these words a friend once said about me (If you knew DT you will recognise his very ‘direct’ style – RIP)
“You’re flaky — you create ‘abandon-ware’ and haphazardly ‘fire’ paying customers. In the past few months we’ve seen you start with one product, add two more and watched them disappear just as fast as they appeared. Now you’re working on a completely separate product. Who is going to invest their time in you and your products?”
He meant well and he was spot on. It’s very easy to start new things, much harder to see things through. So I think about this often and if I start something I try really hard to stick with it and I make sure I give things a lot of thought before launching them.
Where to from here
I’ve been loving being part of the community who are building in public and building online businesses. I’m going to post a monthly update with how things are going and I hope the content is useful or interesting or inspiring.
Whatever your journey, creating things is what drives us. Keep creating.