The Pagely 8 Questions series hits a milestone today, with the tenth edition of our WordPress expert interviews. This week we have Ryan Sullivan, the founder of WP Site Care, with us. (Ryan is also a Pagely Brand Ambassador)
For those unfamiliar with Ryan’s service, WP Site Care is one of the leading WordPress support services. They are the guys to take care of your website’s security, back-ups, and performance optimization — you won’t need to lift a finger!
Today Ryan speaks about how he became involved with WordPress, his experiences in the WordPress community, and the future of the platform. He also provides some useful tips for anyone just starting out.
A big thanks to Ryan for finding the time to answer our questions. Let’s get on with the interview, shall we?
For readers less familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself and your WordPress background?
I’m an avid Utah Jazz Fan (it’s been a rough decade), live near Salt Lake City, and like to hang out with my wife Jackie and 3 boys when I’m not busy building a company. I started in WordPress as a freelancer building websites for friends and family as a side job about 5 years ago. About 3 years ago I started offering monthly retainers for updates, backups, and the like. Then, about 2 years ago I officially started WP Site Care, and our team has grown to 7 now, which I’m super happy about.
You’ve been in the WordPress community for several years now, but could you tell us how you first became involved with WordPress?
My friend had a band and they needed a website. I was working in IT security at the time for a healthcare company, so of course, I knew everything there could be to know about building websites 😉
I was pretty familiar with Blogger but my friend’s site needed some static pages, so I found WordPress. I was able to dig in and start changing things around pretty quickly, and since then I’ve been hooked. It hasn’t always been the right tool for everything, but I enjoy using it so much (most days) that it’s the only type of work I do anymore.
During your time in the community, what different areas have you been involved with?
This is a great question since my community involvement probably hasn’t been what it has been for a lot of folks. I have spent a decent number of hours in the support forums, but I’d say the majority of my time is spent connecting people within the community to each other. You’ll see I’m overly active on Twitter trying to help people get noticed, and I’m constantly making introductions behind the scenes. This year we put together the first premier conference for WordPress developers. We called it LoopConf and it was another awesome way that the community was able to come together.
What has been the best thing about working with WordPress for you?
This one is easy. The best thing about working with WordPress for me is the people I’ve been able to connect with. My team at Site Care is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with, period. I’ve met some incredible people who have been clients, at WordPress conferences, and even through local meetups.
How has the WordPress community changed since you started?
A lot is the same and a lot is different. For a start, it’s a lot bigger. There’s a lot more focus on business and numbers and software licenses. There’s some kind of drama almost weekly, where emotions run high and I don’t remember a whole lot of that early on. Even with all of that though, the community as a whole still remains inherently good, and has the best interest of the WordPress project and its users in mind.
What advice would you give to anyone getting started with WordPress? Which direction would you yourself go if you were starting over again?
My advice would probably be to not listen to too much advice. Doing the thing you’re most able to do night in and night out is the thing you should focus on, even if it doesn’t seem like the most strategic or most lucrative path. The reality is that this stuff isn’t easy, so you have to choose something that you really love, as cliché as that sounds.
If I were starting over I’d invest in WooThemes in January 2015 😉
What do you think the biggest mistakes WordPress website owners are making?
We see a lot of mistakes in our line of work. Probably the most common mistake we see is people not working with professionals early enough. It’s totally fine to not know all the right answers when working with WordPress. I pay an accountant so I can defer that stress, and I think a lot of site owners could benefit from the same by making some financial investments if at all possible. Whether it be for quality hosting, professional development or design help, or even basic upkeep, hiring pros would probably eliminate a lot of the other mistakes that crop up.
What do you think the future of WordPress holds? What would you like to see?
The cool thing about WordPress is that the future is literally what we make it, and it’s independent from its history (Nathan Hagan said that at WordCamp Tampa 2014 and it’s been the background on my Twitter profile ever since). I’d like to see a collaborative effort on improving the user experience for new users. We work with a lot of new users and would like to get to a point where we start out of the box with very few available options, so we can help users get websites up and running as quickly as possible, with as little frustration as possible.
Once more, a huge thanks to Ryan Sullivan for answering our questions!
As Ryan mentions, many WordPress users go wrong by trying to do too much themselves. There’s nothing at all wrong with saying, ‘hey, I’m not an expert at this, so I’ll get help from someone who is.‘ I know what it’s like to work to a strict budget, but if you can make a few smart investments, you can take your project to the next level more quickly.
Before I go, let me share the links again with you: check out Ryan’s fantastic WP Site Care support service, learn more about WordPress from the excellent Site Care blog, and above all else, follow him on Twitter to see what he has to say.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week with another WordPress interview!