Financial Squeeze, Free Trial Churn, Testing My Moral Compass & The Good Stuff

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I’ll keep it pretty simple. 3 things I screwed up and 3 things that went well over the past month. I want to tell you about all the solid stuff happening at WPB, but I can’t stand people who only post when they have good news. It’s like looking at someone’s Instagram account and being jealous of how awesome their life is when those pictures have been carefully curated from the best 1% of their lives.

Please.

As anybody who’s run a startup before knows, what it looks like from the outside may not reflect what’s happening on the inside. A company can easily look like it’s running smoothly when in reality, it’s going up in flames.

I’ll be writing something quick like this every month so please subscribe to stay tuned in.

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1. Financial Squeeze

Now that I’m on Sterling’s healthcare (thanks Equal Justice Works), it adds ~$300 / month to our living costs.

Then, I’ve had a few extra costs this month:

  • 2 new writers to produce content for the blog: $400-$600
  • New company tee shirts: $100
  • Flights to Atlanta for Post Status Publish and Nashville for WordCamp US: $500
  • WordCamp Baltimore and WordCamp US sponsorships: ~$600

So it will be a slightly tighter month cash-wise. We have some reserves and I actually think we’ll still come out of the month profitable, but the better our margins, the more comfortable it makes me. I understand investing in the future of the business and that these costs are necessary, but it’s something I’m keeping an eye on.

2. Churn Still Sucks

I talked about this last month, but it’s still bugging me. Too many people dropping out of free trials before becoming paid customers.

That leaves me with two possible problems:

  1. Our plans just don’t provide enough value yet. We need to either improve the value we provide or show the value we’re providing better.
  2. We’re attracting the wrong kind of customers.This is possibly the result of offer a free trial which some people take advantage of to get 6 days of free service.

Right now, my gut tells me it’s the second point that’s the issue. We currently have 71 paying customers who love what we do, so I don’t think it’s that our company sucks.

I looked over the time our team spends on customers, and about 20% is on customers who are on free trials. If 2/3 of people on free trials don’t convert into paying customers, ~14% of the total time we spend on customer work become unbillable.

Not ideal.

But, good news. I have a plan for this.

I think…

I have to run the numbers and put a bit more thought into how to implement a solution, but I think it’s going to take us a step in the right direction.

Stay tuned next month when I should have more details.

3. Testing My Moral Compass

I was on Twitter earlier this month, you know, tweeting.

I had this exchange with someone without really knowing what website they needed to work on.

They ended up contacting us asking about our plans. The person running the website they needed help with was having surgery, so finding somebody to look after their website was a big deal.

Well, it turns out they run a social network for President Trump supports.

That’s right. Yikes.

Especially when WP Buffs donates times and resources to help manage websites like this.

standup

I think all startups hit this fork in the road at some point. Do you turn a blind eye to improve revenue, one of the most important metrics for any small business?

Well, I decided against it and pointed them elsewhere. It’s my responsibility to stand up for what I believe, and more importantly, the causes my company supports. So regardless of circumstance, We’ll find our dollars elsewhere.

So less money, but moral compass pointing in the right direction.

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1. I Got Married!

You’ve probably heard already, but I got married this month! It was a fantastically magical weekend. We finally got to get all our friends together in one place and it did not disappoint.

I also got so much love from the WP community even though I missed the historic WordCamp DC. So many good vibes.

draven

beth

Even some of our customers chimed in with some congratulations! Damnit, I love working with awesome customers.

customers

And this actually has more to do with WP Buffs than you might think. Sterling has been my #1 fan since I started this company, so marrying her is kind of like brining on a highly-qualified and badass consultant. I guess I’ll have to start paying her…

Plus I have healthcare coverage again, which is good news for a lot of reasons. No more freaking out when I’m riding my bike around the city.

2. I Was On Hallway Chats

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on Hallway Chats!

HWC is a WordPress podcast that introduces the unique designers, developers, marketing consultants, content creators, project managers, and more who make our community the flourishing environment we love.

It was a pleasure to sit down with Tara and Liam and discuss my journey before WP Buffs, my constant pursuit of happiness and the 9 cups of tea I drink most days!

If you have 30 minutes, give it a listen. And don’t forget to hit that share button.

hallway chats wordpress podcast joe howard

3. 10,153 Sessions Last Month

We had 10,000 sessions last month for the first time. 85% of it came from people searching Google and finding an article on our blog. Booyah!

Honestly, it’s not all that much traffic in the grand scheme of things. But it’s enough to add ~100 subscribers to our email list and have 15-20 free trials started every month.

That’s good for the time being because I’d like to continue to make changes to our program to provide people more value before we really start scaling fast. So, good news.

Onward and upward!

 

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