By John Sonmez March 24, 2015

Two Programmers Turned WordPress Entrepreneurs Profiled

I've been involved with the WordPress community quite a bit, since I've launched my “How to Create a Blog to Boost Your Career” course.

As I result, I've been very interested in what in happening in the WordPress development world. I've gotten a few requests for information about WordPress development, but I'm really not an expert myself, so I've been relying on the expertise of others.

One of the companies I had great experiences with regarding WordPress is WP Radius. The two founders: Todd Schwartzfarb and Brandon Yanofsky have been really helpful answering many of my questions and providing excellent support for WordPress bloggers so that they don't have to be WordPress experts.

wpradius

I did a video interview with Brandon, and I asked Todd to write this post, that I've included below.

If you get a chance, head on over to WP Radius to check out their service. It's a pretty neat concept. They'll basically maintain your WordPress site, but the awesome thing is they offer unlimited email support and site jobs. This means that if you have a question about WordPress, you can ask an expert that will personally answer your question. Better yes, they'll actually fix your problem. The service has already saved me a huge amount of time and I expect that it will continue to do so.

I hate wasting time trying to figure out why something isn't working or tweaking themes when I could be using my time writing a blog post instead.

Anyway, without further delay, here is Todd's post about two programmers turned WordPress entrepreneurs

Many programmers possess the traits and skills needed to become successful entrepreneurs – qualities such as  intelligence, creativity, problem solving ability, and the desire to create.  It’s no surprise then that programmers make some of the world’s best entrepreneurs.  One need only look at “geeky” programmers turned billionaires like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg as illustrations of this point.

In recent years, many technologists wishing to become entrepreneurs have leveraged WordPress as a foundation off which to build their companies.  WordPress is both free (making start up costs low) and well established in the market (making possible a large potential client base).

If you are a programmer and have ever thought of starting a WordPress based business, you’ll want to read more about the two wordpress entrepreneurs profiled here – Syed Bhalki and Chris Lema.

Syed Balkhi

syed balkhi

Syed is the founder of WPBeginner.com – one of the largest and most popular free websites about WordPress.

As the name suggest, WPBeginner offers free tutorials, guides, advice, help, news and articles to beginners on how to use and get the most from WordPress.

In addition to WPBeginner, Syed is the founder or several other WordPress based companies including OptinMonster (a plugin company), List25 (a media property), and ThemeLab (a theme development company)  Several of these companies each individually bring in over 7 figures annually!

At the age of 7, Syed had his first taste of entrepreneurialism when he started a business selling holiday greeting cards in his native Pakistan.  He then started a small snack shop for his neighborhood at 9.

After moving to America, Syed learned programming while in school and started offering freelance web development services to clients. He built a steady business; however, when his clients started requesting changes to their sites he could not keep up.  In order to ease the maintenance burden, Syed transitioned all of his clients sites to a new (at the time) single, easy to use platform called WordPress.  When the clients started asking questions about WordPress (what it was, how to use it, etc), Syed decided to start WPBeginner as a repository for his answers.

Syed credits his entrepreneurial success to his self described “competitive” nature.  He says, “Ever since I can remember, I have been extremely competitive which makes me hustle at everything that I do.”  The word “hustle” comes up frequently when peers describe Syed.  Mattreport.com, a popular WordPress blog and podcast, singles out Syed as the person who “put the hustle in being a WordPress Entrepreneur.

His advice to developers who may want to be entrepreneurs but maybe lack the confidence or feel too introverted to talk to the right people?

“Yeah, its not rocket science”, says Balkhi.  “They [influential people] are just humans.  They’re people…just go and be a normal person and have a conversation.”

Chris Lema

chris lema

Chris Lema is the CTO and Chief Strategist of CrowdFavorite – a web development and marketing agency boasting clients such as Starbucks and Walmart.  He is also a WordPress author, blogger, speaker, and digital strategist.

For many years, Chris had a “regular” technology job working in enterprise software.  However, in his spare time Chris became more and more interested in and involved with WordPress.  He started a daily WordPress blog at chrislema.com.  Simultaneously, he assisted startups with their WordPress websites, and began gaining visibility within the WordPress community.  He eventually became an organizer of the San Diego WordCamp.

Now, in addition to being the CTO of CrowdFavorite, Chris also sells digital coaching services on product development, consults with companies on how to leverage WordPress, blogs daily about technology, and is available as a consultant and speaker.

That may seem like many hats to wear.   However, many entrepreneurs will find themselves wearing multiple hats.  What makes Chris so good at it is his ability to form a brand around himself.  Chris’ blog (built using WordPress, of course!) is a showcase of

his personal brand.  Not only is the bog user friendly with a strong personal touch, but it clearly showcases his WordPress contributions (blogs, e-books, videos, email courses) and talents (public speaking, consulting).  His site includes a bio, professional media shots, and has multiple calls to action for those wishing to hire him.

Those interested in building a personal brand and online presence would do well to study Chris.

Chris has a particular interest in coaching startups.  For those interested in becoming WordPress entrepreneurs, Chris offers this advice:  “The biggest mistake businesses make, that I see, is that they are hell bent on learning from their own mistakes. That takes a long time and can potentially sink you. Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.’ “  (quote via interview with Chris on wpbeginner).  As a result, a frequent piece of advice that Chris often gives out to aspiring entrepreneurs is simply this – “Get Help!”

Conclusion

Hopefully, these two profiles have inspired and taught a few good tips to would be entrepreneurs.  Like most good advice, it's really quite simple in the end – don’t be afraid to speak up (after all if you dont who will do it for you?) and learn from the mistakes of others because time is precious.

What are your best entrepreneurial tips you've ever gotten?

todd-wpradius-headshot Todd Schwartzfarb is a co-founder of WP Radius, a company that offers affordable monthly plans for support, maintenance, and management of WordPress websites.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."