Starting this month we’re going to publish a series of interviews with WordPress plugin developers sharing their stories, their growth plans and their vision of the WordPress ecosystem as a whole. That being said, it’s my great pleasure to introduce the first interview with Davor Altman, Happiness Engineer at Automattic.
He lives in Belgrade and he’s currently one of the people behind WP Job Manager – one of the most popular job board plugins for WordPress, created by Mike Jolley back in 2013. The plugin was then acquired by Automattic in 2015 with the acquisition of WooCommerce.
He started using WordPress back in 2013 and it’s been a huge part of his life ever since. Being a Customer Happiness enthusiast he loves combining his two passions – WordPress and Customer Happiness 🙂 He enjoys playing table-tennis and chess! And he loves blogging in his spare time.
He’s been with Automattic for over a year and worked on various products like Jetpack, VaultPress, Akismet, and WordPress.com. However, in the last couple of months, they decided to have a group of people fully dedicated to supporting WP Job Manager and taking it to the next level. He was fortunate enough to be among these people and they’re devoting a great chunk of their time on a daily basis to make WP Job Manager a better plugin for everyone.
How big is your team?
There are currently 556 people working at Automattic and making the web a better place every day. I work in a small team with 5 of my colleagues. They are all incredible workers and people and I consider myself super lucky to have the opportunity to work with them every day.
How did you start with WordPress? Why WordPress?
In my past life, I was studying Italian language and literature. I had a job at an Italian call center and I thought that’s where I’m gonna stay for quite some time. However, a friend of mine introduced me to WordPress and I wanted to learn more about it. I quickly got caught in its web and I quit my job and started learning more about WordPress. I did a couple of projects in the next few months and then I got my first job as a WordPress support representative.
Why WordPress? It has an incredibly large community of supporters. It’s also easy to use and at the same time, super complex. You have to love it! 🙂
Can you please describe who’s your user/customer? Who’s using your plugin(s)?
WP Job Manager’s customer base ranges from small entrepreneurs looking to offer job boards to their visitors to large companies looking for best ways to hire people, developers building their own custom solutions on top of WP Job Manager, schools offering project listings, and hospitality enthusiasts. They all have one thing in common – WP Job Manager!
How do you monetize?
We created paid add-ons which enhance the core WP Job Manager’s functions. With the purchase of a license of one of our paid add-ons (or our core add-on bundle), the users receive a variety of features, one year of free updates for the add-on(s), and the priority support.
Can you share a few numbers in terms of active users/downloads or website monthly traffic? How do you acquire visitors/users/customers?
Sure! Our core WP Job Manager plugin currently has over 90 000 active installations. Also, we have around 3 500 daily visits on https://wpjobmanager.com.
In the past, we didn’t have any active sales and marketing campaigns. People just visited our website, used our core plugin, and bought the add-ons if they needed them. I have to admit that we invested 0 effort and time into advertising our WP Job Manager plugin in the last year and more. The word of mouth mouse drove people to our website! However, we plan to maintain our reputation for one of the best job board plugins out there but also, we’re gonna devote a good chunk of our time to advertise WP Job Manager and all the cool things it can do.
The quality of what Mike Jolley created as a side project back in 2013 was enough to sustain itself and bring us loyal customers. However, we are currently looking into using content marketing to increase our current customer base. I’ll let you know the results soon!
What are your current struggles? How are you planning on overcoming them? Can you share a tough moment in the course of your business? What were the takeaways from it?
I’d say our biggest struggle at the moment is finding the right balance between patching, enhancing, support, and project work. Apart from our core plugin, we have 12 add-on plugins that also need our attention. Allocating the right amount of time to all the things that need attention is something we are constantly experimenting with. We try to divide the work amongst ourselves and we have regular weekly (and sometimes daily) meetings to catch up on things.
What would you say are your biggest strengths?
All of us working on WP Job Manager want to see it become the top listings plugin and the number one choice of every WordPress user who ever thought of publishing listings on their site. I think that our determination and devotion are our biggest strengths.
After Automattic acquired WP Job Manager, the plugin didn’t have a set course. We neglected it and didn’t work actively on it at all. The people working on it were constantly rotating and there wasn’t a team accountable for it. This produced support response times of more than 5 days and plugins that couldn’t keep up with how fast WordPress is growing and changing.
The takeaway – never neglect a product which has so much time, sweat, and keystrokes woven in it.
What are your plans for 2017?
We will have lots of releases of our core and add-on plugins. We’ll be adding patches and enhancements on a regular basis and we’ll try to have a release per week. Support is also one of our top priorities. Our users deserve quick replies which answer their questions and resolve their problems. We’ll also see to increase our user base and revenue with content marketing and special promotions.
What do you think about the WP ecosystem in general? Where do you think the opportunity lies for the next years?
WP ecosystem is still expanding incredibly quickly which is amazing. Picking any part of it and building on top of it, or inventing something new, the chances are great that you’ll receive a warm welcome. I believe that there’s a bright future for everyone, especially for the WP users involved with the security, backup, and optimization. These are the areas that are evolving the fastest and they need the most attention.
Nevertheless, the listing business is still very active and there are lots of opportunities here for both old and new players in the market. And it’s the one we are very much looking forward to investing in!
What would you recommend anybody that is looking to start their own WP business?
There is a whole community behind you that will support you and you are never alone. Take chances, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, ask for assistance, help others, and never stop learning.