A huge part of the WordPress ecosystem is the developers that have been developing great products for WordPress users. Today, we are interviewing Mr. Marius Vetrici who has several years of experience as a WordPress developer and of running a successful WordPress agency WPRiders that he founded in 2015.
In this interview, Marius is sharing his experience as a developer and how he transitioned into an agency owner as well as the do’s and don’t of running a WordPress agency.
1: Thank you Marius for taking the time from your busy schedule. As always, it is great to start from the beginning. Please tell our readers your background and when did you start working as a WordPress developer?
I am a software engineer with a Ph.D. in business informatics. Since 2003 I’ve been designing, building, and selling software products ranging from Inventory Management applications to Enterprise Document Management Systems. Now we are providing WordPress support and development services.
I started as a freelancer back in 2014. Initially on the now-defunct Elto marketplace and then I moved on to Codeable. Later I scaled the freelancing business into an agency called WPRiders. Today we aim to offer the most reliable WordPress programming for small to mid-sized businesses and startups.
2: That’s a lot of amazing work you have done in such a short span of time. What are you currently working at?
I’m currently focusing on scaling up our development team. More specifically, I’m working on a training and mentorship program for junior WordPress developers. We want to select and train the best of the best and have them become stellar players at WPRiders, i.e. the Chicago Bulls of WordPress 😀 as we call ourselves internally.
Besides that, I’m growing a plugin business called subscriptionforce.com – this is the only full-featured extension of the WooCommerce Subscriptions Plugin that increases recurring revenue through self-service personalization features.
3: The mentorship program is a great initiative for giving back to the WordPress community. Tell us about WPRiders. When and why did you start it and what services does your company offer?
I founded WPRiders back in 2015 after one year of freelancing. Our company builds a LOT of websites, digital products, and custom plugins for the biggest brands and coolest startups so we know what works and what doesn’t. We focus on ongoing WordPress support, development, and maintenance services. But we also develop Minimum Viable Product websites for some of the largest brands in the industry.
4: That’s great! You branched out from Codeable and start your own agency. How is it different with respect to project acquisition? What are your top 5 strategies for hunting these clients for your agency?
Codeable is a wonderful place to get a stream of clients and to become a more effective communicator. The platform will take care of driving the clients to you, the experts and then you have to convince the client that you are the right fit for the project.
When you move beyond Codeable, you have to define your own identity as a company: what are you providing? For whom? Why is that important to them? What are you doing differently and better than your competitors? These are some very tough questions to answer, especially in a competitive market. Once you have the right answers and you can truly support them, you can say you have a powerful value proposition.
Nailing down the value proposition is probably one of the most important drivers of customers for us.
How does marketing help?
5: That makes a lot of sense. The value proposition is certainly a differentiating factor. Marketing plays an integral role in both customer acquisition and branding. How do you position WPRiders successfully in such a crowded space? What marketing channels do you use?
We noticed that reliability/dependability is one of the key needs our customers have. Further to this, we came up with a list of customer promises, and then we’ve aligned our internal processes to support the claims.
In terms of channels, we see that SEO and company listings like Clutch work well.
6: Project management is one of the key challenges for any digital agency. What processes does your team follow at WPRiders and are there any tools that you would like to recommend?
We have a very detailed written procedure for our Customer Success Managers. It covers steps ranging from client onboarding to client billing. In terms of tools, we kept using Asana, Harvest, and HarvestForecast for years. They work very well for us.
7: Thank you for sharing that. Agencies often find themselves in a difficult situation due to picking the wrong project/client. What attributes do you see in a project before selecting it? And how do you estimate the project in terms of both the timeline and cost?
When working with a custom project, we always do it as part of a WordPress development subscription. In order to come up with a ballpark for the project, we look at the known knowns and the known unknowns of the project.
Our estimation process is pretty elaborate and involves steps such as requirements writing, micro prototyping (to eliminate risks) as well as various estimation error coefficients. You can learn more about this from the WordCamp Lausanne talk that I gave in Switzerland some time ago.
8: That talk is worth listening to, thank you! You have been in the WordPress development business for a very long time. What suggestions do you have for agency owners that are just starting out? What are the pitfalls they should look out for and how can they lay down their own version of the growth plan?
First, I’d suggest you look at your strengths and build from them. Are you good at design? Or at marketing? Or maybe at back-end development? Based on that, try to get your first projects and build a name in that space. Bit by bit, try to become one of the best crafters in that space.
Things to avoid? Doing everything for everyone. You must focus on something, or otherwise, you’ll be known for nothing.
9: That’s a very good point. A focused strategy works out the best. Given your experience, I am intrigued to ask this interesting question. Please share any memorable experience you have had while working with a client or any project.
One of the best experiences I have recently had was when one of our large clients called us at the beginning of the year and told us how great of a service we provide and how much better is their website since we started working with them 2 years ago. And then, after some pause, the client said “You know we have to renegotiate the contract at the beginning of the year. Would you like to include a price increase? If so, how much you’d like that to be?”