Last updated - April 3, 2020
Hello Kyla, welcome to the LearnWoo. So, please tell us about your journey from an accountant to the VP of WPExplorer?
It was a bit of an indirect path. I met AJ (my partner at WPExplorer) when we were in college. He’s always loved computers, and at the time decided to create a blog – this is when he found WordPress.
At first, AJ had a hobby blog, but as he started to learn more about WordPress and coding themes he needed help. So I started to write blog posts in my free time. As the blog and premium theme business grew it just made more and more sense for me to step away from accounting and try working as part of WPExplorer full time.
What inspired you to leave your job and joined with WPExplorer?
To be honest it took a lot of convincing from AJ! I loved my accounting job and I am a very ISFJ personality (my Myer’s Briggs type – basically super practical, responsible and risk-averse) so it was hard to leave a “safe” traditional office job. But AJ just had too much to do with theme development, so instead of hiring an editor, I came around to the idea of working from home. As it happens – I still get to do a lot of accounting (along with some HR, legal and marketing mixed in), and I’ve grown to love WordPress as much as AJ. I did try my hand at development for a couple of years, but it wasn’t a great fit.
As a VP of WPExplorer, you must have a lot of responsibilities and pressure. Which aspect of your work do you like the most?
I really enjoy the variety. Because we’re a very small team (just me, AJ and a few trusted contractors) I get to work on many different aspects of our business. I’ve learned about the theme development cycle, onsite SEO, how to leverage various ad platforms, Photoshop and other image/ad creation tools, the legal side of owning a business, and a good amount of tax law. It’s never boring!
What does your normal day look like?
No two days are the same, which works for me. I try to have general tasks scheduled (one day for email catchup, another for bookkeeping, a miscellaneous project day, etc.) with some regular maintenance for our websites (backups, updates, comments, new posts) and social media built into each day. While I work on that, AJ handles our theme & plugin development along with customer support.
What are the pros and cons of working for yourself?
I would say the Pros for me are the ability to set my own goals, make my own schedule, work on every part of our business, and to be home with our cats (it’s a great bonus to have adorable, fluffy coworkers). It’s also really special to see an abstract idea come to fruition and become a final product being used by other people in the community. It’s something I didn’t get to experience in a traditional office setting since I was assigned to one little part of a big company.
The Cons for me are more so my own personality traits. First, having my office at home is kind of a con for me since I am very much a homebody. Because my office is in my home, I have one less reason to leave the house (luckily AJ loves to get out so he helps balance out my hermit tendencies). And a second con for me is that there’s no handbook telling you what to do next, or how to run your business. There are tons of tips online, but you’re pretty much on your own. I’ve been able to find the joy in learning to do things my own way, but it was a bit overwhelming for me at times.
In WPExplorer current stage of growth, what are the top challenges to deal with?
For us, I would say the growth has always been hard and is still our biggest challenge. We would really like to add more websites to our network, more themes to our portfolio, and more people to our team. We’ve even been approached by people who wanted to help us accomplish those things. But it’s really hard to give up control and let other people help you.
What are the Future projects of WPExplorer you are currently working on?
Right now we’re focusing on creating more free plugins (https://profiles.wordpress.org/wpexplorer/#content-plugins), updates to our Total WordPress theme (https://total.wpexplorer.com/) and we’ve started working on a few new themes that we hope will help round out our portfolio. We also have a few non-WordPress related websites that we’ve been going back and forth on and might launch in the next couple of months.
I read your blogs and totally love it. So, how do you maintain the content quality of blogs? Please tell us more about this.
Thanks so much! For the blog, we try to update old content and fill in any gaps whenever possible to keep our blog as helpful as possible. We also try to work with authors and other developers who really know WordPress (like ELEXtensions!).
What important feature would you like to see in the future versions of WordPress?
That’s a tough one! We’re so used to just kind of going with the flow and the changes. I suppose I hope to see more improvements to Gutenberg. We’re still not the biggest fans since we currently see Elementor or Visual Composer as the best page builder options, but if Gutenberg can catch up we’d love to use and recommend a core WordPress feature instead.
Outside work, what do you enjoy the most? And how do you manage work-life balance as it is quite difficult in today’s time?
In my free time, I love to read murder mysteries, garden, and mountain bikes (though for me “mountains” are really more like small hills). I do my best to work around 8hrs a day during the workweek, make time for special projects on Saturday and not go anywhere near my computer on Sundays. Balance is hard when you work from home since it’s easy to slack off or overwork yourself. Having a schedule laid out really does help.
Any advice you want to give people who want to follow your path?
If you want to work for yourself just give it a try! Maybe start a blog and try to turn it into your side gig, and from there see what works for you. For me that leap out of the corporate world was scary, but so long as you have a support system to lean on (AJ was super encouraging) and you are willing to put in the hard work (it can take time to build your brand online) – I’m sure you’ll be a success!