1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?
Hello, this is Daniele Besana and I’m the founder of WP-OK. We provide unlimited WordPress support for serious folks, helping WordPress website owners keep their websites safe and make any changes they can dream of on their site.
I’ve worked in IT my whole life, solving technical problems for small and big companies. During my 15-year career in network security, I helped a lot of different types of customers: from small, family-owned businesses to multinational corporations.
In 2012 I started my own business, looking for new challenges. I blame the 30-year crisis and the book 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss for this! My original idea was to buy existing websites with traffic and revenues, and work to increase profits.
Something referred to as ‘website flipping’, ‘website investing’ or ‘virtual real-estate’. However, the original plan didn’t work out as imagined and I soon found myself drowning in a multitude of projects bringing little cash.
One day a friend and established WordPress consultant asked me if I wanted some customers. It looked like low-hanging fruit for me, and I said YES.
Doing WordPress freelancing I realized two things:
- I hate web design;
- I love technical support.
So many small-medium businesses, disappointed by bad support experiences, are losing time and money with websites that don’t work well.
I asked myself: why don’t I help small business owners and professionals with an efficient and affordable support service?
That’s how WP-OK was born 🙂
Building a monthly revenue was nice. A few hundred euros each month gave me the freedom to leave expensive Amsterdam and reach cheaper places when I wanted, all while renting out my apartment to fuel some more time abroad.
I started building a team soon after, because you can’t have a one-man support company. That’s simply impossible and having a (strong) support team is what sets us apart from freelancers and web agencies.
I currently have a team of 5 WordPress experts and one sales assistant.
We operate fully-remote with part-time contractors that have been working very well for everyone.WO-OK generates around 10K/month with a 40% margin. The costs are of course the collaborators, plus the software tools we use to run the show. I have always been happy to invest in tools that can improve our service and way of work!
2. How do you attract and retain your customers?
I offered the subscription to my existing freelancing customers first, which was well-received since they already knew and trusted me. The challenge was reaching new customers that didn’t know me at all.
I was tinkering with the idea of creating a brand dedicated to that, and focused on the Italian market where there was far less competition.
One day I got an email from an Italian podcaster asking me for an interview.
I didn’t know anything about the internet marketing scene back home, I found out ItalianIndie – the podcast – was interviewing entrepreneurs working online and that it has a large following. I jumped on the opportunity and literally built the WP-OK.it website before recording the interview!
I used this unexpected media exposure to talk about buying/selling websites, and announce my new WordPress support service. From this I got my first 5 organic customers: entrepreneurs and small online businesses in need of professional help.
I realized how powerful podcasts are, allowing you to deliver your message and connect to the audience with your personal story and values. I kept using podcasts as a marketing channel, together with a mix of content (YouTube videos, blog posts, expert roundup) and PPC campaigns.
Keeping them subscribed was also part of the challenge, as website maintenance is an activity that can easily go unnoticed.
Two things helped to solve this:
- Sending monthly reports showing the customer what has been done and other key website data;
- Adding a WP-OK button inside our customer website dashboard. A simple way to show that “we’re here!”
3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?
I always focused on the quality of our service as I believe this is more important than marketing.
But to help more WordPress website owners, I needed them to know we existed 🙂
This was a challenge because I’m not as passionate in marketing as I am with great customer service.
I built a strategy around content.
It was June 2016 when I started with a YouTube channel about WordPress for business owners. I had to overcome the usual problems with videos: bad audio, terrible speech, fear of the camera…. there’s no shortcut for that.
I went through the learning phase and I’m very happy I did it.
Three years later, the YouTube channel is a great asset full of content I often refer to.
I think a mistake was to don’t immediately start with written content.
A blog is also a great asset and organic traffic still works.
I was late with that, and we’re still trying to catch up.
4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?
When talking about productized services, I listen to any word from Brian Casel.
I joined his Productized Course and it’s very useful – as well as the community that comes with it.
The best decision I made was surely to start hiring to build a team. It’s true what they say: finding the right people is never easy.
But it’s absolutely worth it, so the sooner you start the better.
5. What is your advice for those are starting productized services?
Start. Hiring. Soon.
Don’t wait and don’t postponed it. You’ll have to learn a lot: how to hire, how to delegate, how to manage.
The sooner the better.
I see people keeping doing everything themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that if you don’t want to grow a business.
But if your goal is to build a machine that works even without you, then you must build a team.
6. What are your plans for the future?
We recently launched SEO-OK, a productized-service for small business looking for a transparent and no-nonsense approach to SEO.
We’ll work to have it ready for the English market in September.
Beside that, my focus is on constant improvement for the WP-OK service.
We’re working on:
- Reduce response time to 8 hours;
- Extend coverage to 24×7;
- Provide a website testing service for WooCommerce stores;
- Expand the team;
I always did marketing myself. I’m not very good at it but I have an honest, no-nonsense approach that proven to attract the right customers…. the challenge will be to bring someone that can do better without compromising our values!
As a personal goal, I’m looking forward to going to a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat. Not much for the meditation itself… but because that will prove that my business can run without my daily intervention 🙂
7. Where can we learn more about you?
Nowadays I’m producing mostly Italian content, but here are the English ones:
Most of my other resources are in Italian.
My question for you all is:
Imagine not having to waste time on your website, what will you do with the saved time?