Steven Watts is a WordPress specialist with an interest in building the most effective websites possible. For over 5 years, he has been helping businesses with their online goals. He also worked on designs for WordPress, SEO, copywriting, support, security, and hosting. When he is not working on a job, he enjoys his time by taking part in physical activities such as break dancing and workouts. His passion further lies in shooting and editing videos, traveling to new locations, and exploring new things. Hear from the expert himself about his beliefs and his hard work.
Cloudways: Hello Steven, please tell our readers a bit about yourself. I went through your LinkedIn profile, quite an experience there. From serving coffees to web development? How did you do it? Please share your experience with our readers.
Steven: Hi, I’ve been developing websites for over 5 years, helping people to meet and exceed their business goals online. I’m quite interested in building one of the most effective websites possible.
When starting a career, I think it’s important to choose a profession that you can see yourself becoming passionate about. Even if you have no idea what you want to do, as was the case with myself; look at all the possibilities and go with what sounds the most interesting. Taking action is the first step, get some initial experience, and go along from there. Take a course, and set aside time to dive in and get some real-world experience by volunteering to take on a project.
My first website, however, wasn’t the best, but it did the job and I was proud of what I achieved. From there, that job (a static website) led to a recommendation for another and so on. This time I crafted the website using WordPress), and with each new job I took on, I tried new things, tackled new challenges, and grew my experience exponentially. Since then I’ve learned about all the complexities around websites such as what kind of servers they are hosted on and built multiple websites to help businesses get a better return on investment reaching new heights.
Cloudways: When did you first discover WordPress? If there was no WordPress, would you prefer custom development or any other CMS?
Steven: I first discovered WordPress when starting my second project; the client wanted to be able to update their content and WordPress made total sense to empower the client to do so.I quite like static sites, but nowadays most websites should come with a content management system as standard.
If it wasn’t for WordPress, I don’t know what I would be doing. When I first looked into content management systems, I dabbled in a few, but WordPress was the clear winner concerning barrier to entry (for me as a developer and for clients wanting to manage their content). Since then I’ve built a website in Drupal, and have built other static sites but have since continued to specialize in WordPress as it is the best content management system I’ve had the pleasure to work with.
Cloudways: Steven, what was the motivation behind starting up your own business?
Steven: By doing work on the side, whilst working full-time as a front-end developer, I was able to do more of what I love. This kept me from not being pigeon-holed into any one job role and I realized my full potential by not only working in a single business and coding websites for their clients but by working on multiple businesses and having a direct impact on helping them grow to their bottom lines. I was able to help a much wider range of people and use a broader range of my skills from business development to design and marketing which made me happier and motivated me to want to reach my full potential.
Steven: I have been trading under the name of Newt Labs for quite some time now; it has grown from my efforts. Mostly I achieved it by doing freelance work through a WordPress agency that solves business problems by crafting websites and then helps businesses continue making their websites work for them as they grow. WP Shrug, on the other hand, provides WordPress support and site management, for people that want their technical stuff dealt with, so they can fully focus on growing their website content. It’s also for developers and studio managers who want to concentrate on new projects and getting new clients into their businesses.
Cloudways: Steven, you’re a WordPress developer, designer, trainer who also knows about SEO and optimization. So what are your life hacks to balance all of it together?
Steven: Some of my lifehacks to a successful living incorporates:
- Managing time effectively,
- planning day and sticking to a schedule,
- setting goals,
- limiting distractions,
- and taking regular breaks.
It’s also important to set aside some of your time for learning and growing in this ever-changing market. Segmenting your time can keep you excited about newer opportunities and results in making you perform better at work yielding proficient results.
Cloudways: Being a WordPress developer and designer, what are your recommended plugins for better performance and security?
Steven: I think that performance and security extend far beyond WordPress plugins. However that being said, there are some useful plugins that you can still install and gain benefits from right away; Although they require setting up correctly. Some of my favorites include:
- Better Delete Revision
- Bj Lazy Load
- Better WordPress Minify
- WP Super Cache
- Use Google libraries
- WP Smush
- Login LockDown
- Rename wp-login.php
- All in one WP Security & Firewall
- WordFence Security
- Sucuri Security
- Clef Two-Factor Authentication
Cloudways: The WordPress community is so vast. Who do you consider among your best buddies within the respective community?
Steven: First and foremost my team and the partners that I work with on a regular basis, past colleagues, Sucuri, all the guys from the local WordPress meetup group in Cambridge, and everyone who I’ve met and collaborated with from all the past WordCamps I’ve attended are considered among my close buddies.
Cloudways: We know it’s hard to take out time from a busy schedule. But still, everyone wants to take some time off and chill out. What do you do in your free time?
Steven: When I’m not working, I love to breakdance, workout, shoot and edit videos, see new places, and try new things. But mostly, you’ll either find me watching Netflix with my partner and 2 cats or taking a trip to the cinema to watch the latest blockbuster.
Cloudways: Steven, as we’ve seen that you’re a hard-working person who transformed his life, may we have some words of motivation for our readers?
Steven: Get out of your comfort zone and start taking massive action to work towards your dreams. Take risks and implement your ideas, if they fail to keep trying until you succeed. It’s important to pick something that you’re passionate about so you can make it past the point where most people give up. However, keep in mind that you’re not just chasing the money, but actually trying to make a difference in the world. Keep learning, over-deliver and you’ll live your life with no regrets.
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Cloudways: Steven, being a developer and an avid WordPress user, you understand the hurdle of hosting a WordPress website. How would you compare an optimized WordPress cloud hosting integrated with advanced caching technologies such as Cloudways with traditional hosting?
Steven: Cloudways looks really impressive, boasting everything you could possibly need from a hosting provider. Cloudways uses some of the best technologies on the web which means blazing fast performance and top-level security for peace of mind. It’s important that a user should be able to scale up as their website grows so it’s good for businesses of all sizes. As far as the level of management and support is concerned, it is exactly what’s needed when it comes to hosting and dealing with some of the technical issues that may arise. The features Cloudways provide are immense and are exactly what I would look for when choosing a reliable hosting provider for my websites, See, why Cloudways is the best nexcess alternative. I’ve been meaning to move some of the older websites I manage to a better platform so yes I think I will be giving Cloudways a try in the near future.
Just to humor our readers, can you please send us an image of how does your desk or workspace looks like? 🙂
Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. 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.