What WordPress Agencies Need to Survive and Thrive During the Pandemic [WP Feedback virtual summit]
It seems that there isn’t an area of life that the coronavirus hasn’t impacted, and the WordPress industry is no exception. From freelancers to agencies, WordPress businesses are feeling the pressure of uncertainty. And even though some industries are doing better than others, even the ones that appear to be booming are at the mercy of an erratic and unpredictable future.
COVID-19 is shining an enormous spotlight on just how dubious life and business can be. Will you be able to support yourself? How will your employees fare if they have to be furloughed? Can you create a sustainable business right now?
The questions are significant and the answers aren’t straightforward. Remember this, though – we’re all going through it, and while it feels lonely, we’re in it together.
Like with anything that has a potentially scary outcome, the more you educate yourself, the more in control you’ll feel. Instead of turning away from the unnerving questions we’re facing, let’s talk about them:
- Can you create new products or services and retain new clients? Right now, it’s more important than ever to increase customer loyalty. When it comes to new clients and customers, they have to trust you from the start so that they’ll want to stick with you.
- How can your business help your clients’ businesses? If your clients are able to maintain their businesses, you’ll be able to maintain yours. For example, if your clients rely on your hosting services to support fast websites that convert customers, you have to deliver.
- What are the higher expectations you now have to meet? Your clients and customers are just as stressed as you are, and they’ll expect more from you right now. Determine what they need, how you can satisfy them, and how to give them what they want before they even ask for it.
- What changes do you have to make so you can compete? While you may be hesitant to shake processes up or trust a new provider, those changes may be the only way to stay competitive.
- Is there anything that can be handled for you so you can concentrate on other tasks? Automating part of your business is essential because that’s the only way you can focus on other areas that need your full attention. For example, when you rely on managed hosting, you know that there are professionals keeping an eye on site maintenance so you can worry about more pressing issues – or get some sleep and recoup for tomorrow.
We reached out to a number of leaders, all of them speakers at the upcoming WP FeedBack virtual summit (I’m in the speaker lineup, too!). We wanted to find out their takes on the state of the WordPress industry during the pandemic and if they have advice for businesses that are doing their best to get by. These suggestions have a running theme: be strategic, whether you’re supplementing your marketing strategy or looking for ways to connect with team members who are feeling secluded. Don’t panic, think through your decisions and do the best with what you have.
Ronald Gijsel • YITH
Summit Session: 4.5 Ways to Scale Your E-Commerce Business
Understanding your customers’ shopping habits and trying to predict them can really help improve your strategy, even more so during the crisis. Know where to put your effort and get a better understanding of your returns. Some of the lessons that are shared during WP FeedBack are so easy to apply, and they can earn you loads. It really is the summit of the year, and even more so during this crisis.
Barbara Saul • WP&UP
Summit Session: A Conversation About Mental Health
Keep a watch on everyone’s mental well-being, especially if they are not used to working remotely or have had to be furloughed. Perhaps for those who are quiet, make a point to catch up with them, or arrange a weekly group video chat. Look after your people, and look after yourself, too. And if you’re not sure how to go about this, head over to WP&UP – we’re here for exactly such times and can directly help you.
Raleigh Leslie • Codeable
Summit Session: How to Successfully Work with Freelancers
Agencies run into a unique set of challenges during a pandemic like the one we are in right now. The way COVID-19 has shut down the brick and motor economy across the world has resulted in a forced mass demand for help getting a business online or improving their online presence.
The biggest element that can help an agency survive and thrive during a pandemic is having access to an extended supportive community that you know you can lean on. This could be a network of other agencies or freelancers; trusted advisors you can use as a sounding board when making tough decisions, or even extra hands if you become overburdened with work. If you don’t have this in place yet, look to places like WP FeedBack to begin building your network of WordPress-specialized companies and to share resources to help more people thrive together.
Bob Dunn • BobWP
Summit Session: Running a Podcast to Build Authority in Your Niche
During these challenging times, consider if a podcast will extend your reach – but don’t jump on the podcasting bandwagon simply because it’s trendy. Podcasting can be an incredible tool to build your brand, educate your customers about your product or monetize your business. But make sure you are clear about the reason you want to start a podcast, consider what it means long-term, and be prepared to expend the resources necessary. Remember that while podcasting can be a great addition to your marketing strategy, don’t think of it as the new blogging.
Bowe Frankema • Dollie
Summit Session: How Automation Makes the Lives of WP Professionals Easier
If you want to compete in this changing WordPress landscape, your offering needs to change to provide true turnkey services to your customers. You already know about the value of getting recurring revenue coming in, but too many WordPress businesses are still trying to get there through offering maintenance plans alone.
You can still offer custom web design and development services to clients who appreciate the value of them and will pay top-dollar in return. But aim to become a one-stop solution with your customers’ needs at the center. This means including hosting, support and maintenance under your own brand and domain to truly future-proof your business.
Bridget Willard • You Too Can Be Guru
Summit Session: B2B Marketing on Twitter Explained
Regardless of the outlook, it is important for businesses to continue their marketing efforts. It was like this in the 2009 recession, and the pandemic is no different. Even in prosperous times, WordPress businesses have unique issues, one of which is overcoming the perception of product abandonment. We, as an ecosystem, have a bad reputation for building products only to stop supporting them when we get bored. We start building websites and then disappear. I highly recommend publishing to your blog at least once a month (once a week is better) and personally engaging on Twitter daily. If you outsource, keep your vendor. Scaling back may be a quick solution, but how will it affect you in Q4 or 2021 Q1? It might not be worth it.
Thanks to these bright minds, we’ve already learned a lot – and that’s sure to expand during the WP FeedBack virtual summit.
Right now, it’s most important to keep people front-and-center. That includes your customers, who have unique needs in this climate and are relying on you to meet them. It also includes your colleagues, who have to keep their spirits up so they can show up and work every day. Most importantly, people want to feel hopeful right now, and finding different ways to share your business and successes with others will lift up the entire industry.
We’re so thankful for everyone who took the time to share their thoughts, and I can’t wait to gather with them for the conference. While the world may be up in the air right now, what’s stayed the same is our shared passion for our work, along with the hope that, eventually, we’ll have the chance to share that work with as wide an audience as possible. The things that mattered before continue to matter now, maybe even more than we realized. Our community is strong, dedicated and proud of what they do.
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