Tom Herudek is a Codeable developer and WordPress expert who has been in the WordPress industry for more than 13 years. Throughout his journey, he has served and completed almost 400 projects. To know more about him, let’s read from the man himself!
Farhan: Hi Tom, it’s a pleasure to have you on our interview series. Could you please give us a short introduction about yourself? How and when did you start your career in WordPress as a developer?
Tom: Hey Farhan, likewise. It’s always a pleasure to cooperate with the Cloudways guys. I’m Tom Herudek, a 32-year-old WordPress developer and Codeable expert from the Czech Republic.
I started my career in WordPress 13 years ago. I was 19 and always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Running my own business has been my dream since I could remember.
I’ve teamed up with my ex-business partner and created our first WordPress theme together – London Creative +. It was an instant hit. From that moment, I was grasped by the online business.
Farhan: There are different CMS out there, but why did you choose WordPress? What are some of the projects that you are proud of?
Tom: I did not choose WordPress; rather, WordPress did choose me. Jokes aside. When I started in 2009, WordPress was my clear leader. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking about the marketshare. I mean the whole community and the potential for growth and earnings. And nowadays, we can see that it was the right bet.
I’m proud of all my work! But all things can’t be just remarkable, right? In terms of development skills, my flagship is Ark WordPress Theme. I’ve developed my own page builder there. So unique that even the famous Divi inspired themselves a bit.
For a client’s work, the complete speed optimization of Raasay Distillery. I started working with the owners when they wanted their site to be faster. During the year, I’ve completely fortified their store. So it’s lightning fast, does not drain server resources, and can host hundreds or even thousands of people simultaneously. Which is important for their product launches.
And last but not least, I’m really proud of my personal website.
Farhan: You currently work at Codeable as a WordPress freelancer & you have been in the industry for almost 13 years. How did Codeable come into the picture? And how does Codeable help you get projects? Is there any other platform or business where you work?
Tom: Well, Codeable changed my life. And I’m not the only one. Little did I know, 5 years ago, when I was applying, how important Codeable would be in my life.
They are one of the main sources of my clients. It’s very hard to get in as a WordPress developer; they accept only 2% of applicants. But once you are in, they are sending the best clients your way.
I work almost exclusively with Codeable. Because I know the team personally. I know that they do care about their WordPress developers. Per Esbensen (the owner) is aware that if he wants to succeed, his developers need to succeed.
I have a long series about how Codeable works on my blog if you are more interested in this topic.
Farhan: You have completed nearly 400 projects at Codeable. How challenging is it to achieve such good ratings with a 100% completion rate?
Tom: Once you achieve seniority as a human and a developer, it comes easy. I’m quite analytical. People are often telling me that I’m the most analytical person they know.
Thanks to this, I do pretty thorough analysis with my client before starting with the coding. I’ll know precisely, what they want, why they want it, and what is essential for them.
Then I’ll just deliver the thing they want, the way they want it. When I encounter a problem, I’ll solve it, even when it’s not my job.
That’s the distilled knowledge of how to be a good freelancer. And the ultimate indicator is if your clients are coming back. Mine is returning a lot, so I guess I’m safe.
Farhan: Would you like to tell our readers about the best projects you’ve worked on? What were your development workflows?
Tom: My best projects? That would be the projects that grasp you, and you can’t end till you finish. For me, these are usually troubleshooting projects. It means that client has an unknown and weird issue with his site. And he needs someone capable of finding the problem and fixing it.
It’s also often a great way how you build relationships with clients. Because you saved their business. For example, Clinton runs an ecommerce grocery store. Suddenly, he was getting huge timeouts, rendering his site unusable. it was in the times when New Relic was rarely available on the hosting providers. Luckily for him, Clinton was hosted on Cloudways. So I’ve 1-click installed the New Relic.
After a whole day of debugging, I nailed the issue. He had like 127 plugins (literally), and 2 of them conflicted. Basically, re-calculating the WooCommerce tax, again and again, 50 times per rendering one page.
I’ve fixed the issue and wrote the plugin authors about it. They then implemented the fix in their next release.
Farhan: Who is your typical client? And what is the typical project you work on?
Tom: My main focus is WooCommerce development and maintenance. It’s the most fun, and since I have a master’s degree in business, I’ve always liked selling things online. I currently don’t have any stores, so I’m at least helping my clients with running theirs.
My typical client is a small or medium business selling online. Usually, they have their own product. For example, the already mentioned Raasay Distillery with their excellent whisky. Or my close friend, a producer of CBD oils.
One part of my typical work is making sure their stores are operational. I’m taking care of the updates – at least once per month. And monitoring if everything works smoothly, as it should.
The second part is consultancy/being on call. If a problem is blocking them from selling (like the website down), I’ll sort it out on short notice. Also, my clients often pick my brain about various topics related to WordPress, WooCommerce, and business in general.
The final part is an ongoing development of their site. As they grow their businesses, their needs change. Usually, my clients approach me with something like, “Look, Tom, I need to have a loyalty rewards program for my customers.” Or, “Hey Tom, we’ll be launching a new product, and we expect 10,000 people at the site at one moment. Make sure the store is going to handle it”.
Then we sit together, find their exact needs, create the scope of work, and I’ll deliver them a great solution. It’s that simple.
And, of course, if you need help with your WooCommerce store, hit me at Tom Herudek.
Farhan: It is good to see you have expertise in many skills, from speed optimization to WP CLI. Can you share a few tips and tricks for WordPress newbies who are interested in WordPress development?
Tom: That’s a good question, Farhan! It makes me think. So WordPress, at first sight, is a totally chaotic environment. No MVC system; basically, nothing is rigid. Once you spend enough time doing WordPress, you become familiar with the chaos and see the rules. My first tip would be, “don’t worry; you’ll learn that eventually.”
If you are serious about jumping into the WordPress train, learn some PHP basics and start writing the code. You’ll learn as you go. It would be good to try to find some apprenticeship or low-level entry position.
13 years ago, I was lucky enough that I was a full-time university student when starting my career as a WordPress developer. Nowadays, I think it will not be so easy to find opportunities like this one. But there is still a shortage of tech people. If you are persistent enough, you will find your way eventually.
Farhan: You have developed over 40 premium themes and plugins that many customers have purchased, so we would like to know the best tools and workflow you choose to deliver your best.
Tom: Let’s start with the computer. I’ve tried Windows, Linux, and Mac. I love Mac, and I’ve been using it for 11 years. I started in the times when you needed to reinstall your Windows XP every 3 months.
The next step is choosing Integrated Development Environment (IDE) – that’s the software for writing software. You’ll spend most of your time interacting with that.
Now you need to empower AI in your development. I’m using the GitHub Copilot, and it’s a life-changing tool. Basically, it’s an AI assistant writing code for you. And it writes good code! I guess it makes me 30% more effective.
That’s the holy trinity of my development. Then another software:
- Git for versioning
- Filezilla for FTP (all FTP clients on MAC sucks)
- Sublime Text for opening big files
Last but not least, I’m using a super powerful combo of Cloudways and Cloudflare to host and protect my sites.
Farhan: Website speed plays a vital role, and an optimized WordPress hosting provider is key to a fast site speed. So, would you like to share which type of hosting you prefer for the blazing-fast WordPress performance?
Tom: After all these years, I’ve tried basically every hosting provider. For me, Cloudways is the best one. It’s very powerful and incredibly easy to work with. To put my mouth where my money is, not only I’m using Cloudways. I’m also hosting 10+ clients here.
I know this might sound tendential since you are interviewing me. Nevertheless, I just love it. Your hosting has everything I need to run my WooCommerce client’s sites.
You can scale from a small WooCommerce store to a store handling $100k+ monthly revenue. Your platform is smooth. You can one-click install all the tools one needs for running a successful website (Redis, Varnish, New Relic, and much more).
Your support is great and tech-savvy. I’m always surprised by how technical they are when I talk to them (which I rarely do). And they are always helpful.
I think you guys nailed the ideal combination for the hosting provider. Keep up the great work.
Farhan: Would you like to share an image of your workstation with our reader? That would be all! Thank you once again, Tom.
Tom: I’m working from WeWork, so my desk looks like this.
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Farhan is a community manager at Cloudways. He loves to work with WordPress and has a passion for web development. Mostly, he spends his time interacting with the people in the WordPress community. Apart from his work life, Farhan spends his time gaming and playing sports. Feel free to contact him at [email protected]