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    Categories: Interviews With Experts and InfluencersInterviews With WordPress Experts

“Who knows – I could be helping the next Matt Mullenweg who’s just starting out!” Joe Howard of WP Buffs

Joe Howard of WP Buffs is more of an entrepreneur than a teacher. He studied Mathematics at Haverford College and continued his journey as a teacher. As he excelled on with his profession, he took a leap of faith in the digital marketing domain. That’s how he initiated his venture under the name flag, WP Buffs. He helped grow two startups up to $500,000+ and $120,000+ worth of revenue.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t he? These days he keeps himself busy tending to his soon to be wife as he loves her too much. So without any further Ado, let’s read how he took this major shift in his career path and became a WordPress enthusiast.

Cloudways: Hello Joe, thanks for joining us today. Could you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Joe: Sure thing! I’ve been an entrepreneur in the digital marketing and WordPress space for almost ten years. I’m a science enthusiast, an avid Scrabble player and love a strong cup of Earl Grey tea. Oh, and I’m the Head Buff at WP Buffs and DC Ambassador at Thousand Network.

Cloudways: While visiting your social profiles, we have found out that you were a Mathematics teacher previously who later became a Marketing specialist. How did this major shift happen in your life? How did you step in the Digital Marketing World from teaching?

Joe: As an undergraduate at Haverford College, I studied Mathematics and Education as majors. I always wanted to travel back to Washington, DC, my hometown where I spent my early childhood and help children to achieve the difficult tasks that they always wanted to achieve. Teaching in DC public schools was indeed an enjoyable challenge for me; however, I found that the staff and resources just weren’t enough to help students become successful in achieving their goals and objectives. Hence, I decided to transition my career into startups, where the challenge is also great, but your ability to put together a brilliant team and equip yourselves with the right resources make the chances of success much higher.

Cloudways: Joe, you helped two digital startups to grow their business at an extraordinary pace. What were the tactics and tools that were involved in making these businesses a thriving one?

Joe: That’s true. I helped grow two startups to $500,000+ and $120,000+ worth of annual revenue respectively. I’d love to say that making customers happy and running an efficient business were the things that helped us grow, but it was our ability to sell our services that helped us make such significant strides. This growth happened when I was still new to digital marketing, and in all honestly, our operations were not as streamlined as they could have been. Apparently, I learned that you could get a long way through simply having a solid sales process.

I used my opportunity to learn how to completely systematize a business, automate as much as possible to increase efficiency and recruit a team that’s able to accomplish a lot. I’ve used those similar strategies at WP Buffs, but instead of focusing so much on selling, we’ve taken a more inbound approach with a massive focus on customer happiness. We go the extra mile for everybody we work with, customers and partners. That combination has gone a long way to help us grow organically through content marketing and referrals from delighted customers.

Cloudways: Starting with Teaching, then a Digital Marketer and now you are heading towards WordPress. What were the reasons to choose WordPress among other Content Management Systems? And what makes you start your agency?

Joe: WordPress wasn’t as much a conscious choice; I just happened to be upon it. When my agency started building websites, we found that WordPress had both, the user experience to help collaborate technical and non-technical people on our team as well as the capability to allow our developers dive as deep as they want. The WordPress community is large and also a thriving one, so when it comes to collaboration, plugins, and themes, you can find whatever you need to build a killer website.

Cloudways: Joe, you are the head of WP Buffs, can you please tell our readers what WP Buffs is all about? And what are your responsibilities there?

Joe: We are the very best technical support partner for any individual, business or organization with a WordPress website. That’s because we handle unlimited edits, performance enhancements, daily health maintenance, and regular security troubleshooting, so our customers don’t have to. It allows them to make bold decisions when it comes to website management without hesitating due to technical restraints.

Everything we do is driven by our customers. We’re constantly trying to gain their trust while increasing the value we provide, and all at a fraction of the cost of a part-time employee.

Cloudways: A little while back, WordPress 4.7 has been launched with exciting new features. I like the additional editing features in customizer, what do you like about the new WordPress update?

Joe: We did a full write-up on the WordPress 4.7 update on our blog! The video header on the new Twenty Seventeen core theme is exciting; many people are trying to engage their audiences through video, and having this as a default option will help a lot of people convert more visitors.

The REST API is, of course, the most significant addition that came with 4.7. The content endpoints provide machine-readable external access to your WordPress site with a clear, standard-driven interface. This is really exciting because it paves the way for new and innovative methods of interacting with websites through plugins, themes, apps, and beyond.

Cloudways: We have seen you actively contributing and helping WordPress Community on different social media platforms and forums. It sounds like; you are habitual on helping others 😉 How do you manage your work in your daily routine?

Joe: Providing free assistance to people can be difficult while trying to build a business that’s financially viable. I see things quite simply: the number one reason people try our 30-day free trial is that they trust us. What better way to gain someone’s trust than to give them help without expecting anything in return?

That being said, I remember starting out with digital marketing and WordPress. I didn’t know anything! I owe what I know today to quite a many people who can be mentioned here, so I feel a responsibility to pass that on to the next generation of WordPressers.

Who knows – I could be helping the next Matt Mullenweg who’s just starting out!

Cloudways: Joe, being the head of a WordPress agency, what would you suggest to our readers to speed up a WordPress website and secure it?

Joe: We come across this question multiple times every single day. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of everything you should do to both speeds up and secure your WordPress website. A lot depends on how your WordPress site is set up and how you’re hosting it. So, it may not be possible to cover each and every one of my suggestions. However, it is highly recommended that each of us tackle as much as possible by getting a WordPress website to perform as profoundly as possible.

Cloudways: WordPress Community is very vast, who do you consider your best buddies within the community?

Joe: There are too many people in the WordPress community who I’ve met over the years to name just a few is not possible. WordCamp US has been my favorite event for me over the past two years. Since, I get to meet so many new WordPressers, listen to talks from those who have been successful in the space and just generally want to contribute to the world in a positive way. The WordPress community is made up of the best people!

Cloudways: Any suggestion for our readers regarding WordPress and Digital Marketing?

Joe: Yes. Use WordPress and take a deep dive into digital marketing. There’s a reason WordPress powers 27% of the internet, and in the modern age, digital marketing isn’t just a good idea; it’s the oxygen that powers businesses.

Cloudways: Besides work, everyone wants to feel a bit relaxed from time to time. What do you do during your free time? Of course, other than playing Soccer 😉

Joe: My knees aren’t what they used to be so I don’t play as much these days, but I still watch Soccer just about every weekend – go Everton! I do a lot of traveling (just got back from Cuba) and am getting married this year, so I spend a lot of time with the future Mrs. Howard.

Cloudways: Joe, building an optimized and secure WordPress website starts with a reliable hosting. How would you compare traditional hosting to a Managed Cloud Hosting having advanced caching technologies like NGINX, Varnish, Memcached, and Redis?

Joe: A reliable hosting provider is helpful when it comes to managing a fully optimized and secure WordPress website. These days, there are so many hosting providers, choosing the “right one” is a complicated decision. Robust caching options via your host will indeed help when it comes to website speed; offering a free SSL certificate, no resource limits, CDN options, site backups and incredibly strong support are a few other things to look for in a top provider.

Finally, could you please send us an image of your desk or workspace exclusively for our readers? 🙂

Thank you, Joe, for your time!
Follow him on Twitter.

Mustaasam Saleem: Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WordPress Hosting Platform, where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music. You can email him at mustaasam.saleem@cloudways.com