The 7 Stages of WordPress Professional Growth

Posted By Troy Dean on

The 7 Stages of WordPress Professional Growth

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve gone into business for yourself or you work for someone else. Your original goal probably wasn’t to remain in the same position for the rest of your life; you wanted to experience professional growth. For those of you that run your own business, there is even more opportunity to grow as its wholly yours to control: your revenue, your client base, and even your personal growth.

But it can be difficult to do when you don’t know where to grow to.

If you spend enough time looking at other businesses, you might notice that they classify growth stages based on the number of employees they’ve amassed and revenue generated. That’s not really how it works for WordPress professionals. Growth looks much different for us.

This post will take a look at what the growth of a successful WordPress professional looks like.

WP Elevation WordPress Business Podcast – Jasmine Andrews

I had the pleasure of chatting with Jasmine Andrews recently. Don’t know who that is? Well, she’s a rock star WordPress consultant and an Elevator.

Before she entered the exciting world of WordPress consulting, however, she worked as a contractor in IT. During this time, she helped financial corporations and business analysts with application rollouts, with a strong focus on documentation.

In 2011, she launched her own business and then the following year she moved into the WordPress space – something she only had experience with for personal projects in the past.

Fast forward to 2018 and Jasmine now runs Brain Candy Consulting, a multi-six-figure WordPress consulting agency. The secret to her success over the last six years? She’s discovered the trick to working with fewer clients while still driving up revenue.

As I lay out the various stages of growth that WordPress professionals go through, I am going to use the lessons that Jasmine shared with me to give you some context.

Step 1

The Builder

The Builder

Jasmine received her first client as a referral from her tech writing days. The client didn’t initially contract her to build a website – they wanted her to update their book, so that’s exactly what she did. She wrote and edited the book and then helped manage the conversion of it into Kindle format.

Later, she turned her attention to the client’s WordPress website where they sold a collection of books. The only problem was that the books could only be purchased one at a time with the way the site was configured.

Jasmine knew there was a better way to do this and wanted to help the client capture as much missed revenue as possible by allowing for multi-book purchases.

Even though she had a new baby at home, she took the time to teach herself how to use WooCommerce and PHP. And although she was frightened that she wouldn’t know what she was doing in managing the conversion to WooCommerce, the end result worked out better than imagined. When the new store launched, it made $10,000 more in sales than usual.

What to Expect from this Stage of Professional Growth:

We all have to start somewhere with WordPress, and it usually means figuring things out on the fly as we focus on how to build.

In the earliest stages of business, you’re just gaining your footing with WordPress and web development. 

You’re familiar and comfortable with WordPress and understand the underlying principles of good web design.

This is why this time is dedicated strictly to building websites. Nothing more and nothing less.

Throughout this builder stage of business, you’re focused on:

  • Nailing down implementation of site-building basics.
  • Establishing your base offering as a WordPress professional.
  • Getting as many new customers as possible.

In Jasmine’s case, it took identifying a problem in her client’s digital sales funnel to help her start her journey to success with WordPress.

Step 2

The Survivor

The Survivor

That first really successful WordPress project gives all of us hope – hope that, yes, we certainly can do this and that we know what we’re doing.

As Jasmine quickly learned, however, that boost in confidence and excitement at the beginning of your career can quickly lead to business burnout if you’re not careful. In her case, she explained the burnout as stemming from making the same mistakes over and over again, in her business and in workflows. It got so bad that her business lost money for a couple of years.

Back when WP Elevation was brand new, she enrolled in the program, recognising that it could be of some help. However, she withdrew from the course because she didn't have time to fully implement any of the program into her business and she had another child on the way.

What to Expect from this Stage of Professional Growth:

This is a tough stage of professional growth. There’s no getting around that.

Your business is rolling along and clients are flooding in because you have hard-won proof that you know what you’re doing. You’re clued into the day-to-day tasks of building websites, you’re happy that money is coming in, but you’re exhausted and becoming frustrated that you’re barely getting by finance-wise. The amount of time invested just isn’t paying off.

You want to build a solid reputation and gain the trust of clients, so you do as much as you can to get every job done on time and to leave every client 100% satisfied with the work you do. That often means going beyond the scope of work to keep them happy (or at least that’s what you believe).

That’s why you’re getting so burned out. There’s really no focus on your business as a whole or on creating processes that are beneficial to you and your clients… not to mention pricing your services correctly.

“You're working to survive.”

You want to build a solid reputation and gain the trust of clients, so you do as much as you can to get every job done on time and to leave every client 100% satisfied with the work you do. That often means going beyond the scope of work to keep them happy (or at least that’s what you believe).

That’s why you’re getting so burned out. There’s really no focus on your business as a whole or on creating processes that are beneficial to you and your clients… not to mention pricing your services correctly.

This is the most tiring of professional growth stages, but it’s worth it if you can push through. Mistakes will be made, but you’ll come out stronger on the other end.

Step 3

The “Aha!” Moment

The “Aha!” Moment

Tired of working so hard as a builder and implementer, and barely having anything to show for it (at least in terms of profit), Jasmine decided to enrol once more in WP Elevation in 2016 and really go for it.

As she worked through the Blueprint, she discovered that the “Go Wide, Go Deep” method was the part she enjoyed the most in running a WordPress business. As she explained, her previous work experience had set her up well for this as she was already aware of how beneficial the discovery process could be.

Now, she was learning how to make more money from it.

After completing the Blueprint discovery course, she updated her services accordingly. She now offers:

  • Web design.
  • Website review.
  • Paid discovery services.
  • SEO audit + conversion rate audit (as a two-session package)

And she did all this from a spare room in her house using Zoom.

This was the major “Aha!” moment for Jasmine and what led to a monumental shift in her business.

Rather than hit the ground running the second she signed a new web design client to her service, Jasmine was now prepared to be more than just a builder or implementer. She understood that taking the time to listen and really offer a helpful solution is what was most valuable to clients.

This “Aha” moment empowered her to see her services for what they really were and to price them correctly.

That’s why, even though she was selling smaller ticket items to clients, she was able to leverage them in a way to get her foot in the door, build a solid relationship with them, and sometimes sign even bigger projects with them. Even if those smaller consulting jobs didn’t turn into anything else, she was still able to deliver big results to clients just from talking to them… which was how she was able to charge a price commensurate with the value she delivered.

What to Expect from this Stage of Professional Growth:

I don’t mean to be crude, but this is the stage of professional growth where you either need to s*** or get off the pot. It’s as simple as that.

If you’re not sick and tired yet of being sick and tired, or you’re not frustrated or disappointed with your ability to get ahead despite seeing others around you do it, then you might not have the bar set high enough. Regardless, this should be your “Aha” moment.

In other words:

Do you keep doing what you’re doing, become disillusioned with the whole thing, and allow yourself to crash and burn?

Or do you find a better way now that you have the comfort of (some) money coming in?

This is the stage of professional growth when you need to more seriously assess the pricing of your services and the value of what you do. The time you spend on everything – even just talking to clients – is valuable to them. It’s time to stop selling yourself short and price your services accordingly.

As a result, you’ll get more focused and better at working for your niche, people in this space will come to recognize your work, and you’ll enjoy your job more. You need to find your strengths and make them work for you and your clients. And get paid for what you’re worth.

Step 4

The Evolution

The Evolution

Jasmine had unlocked the secret to offering more valuable, but less time-consuming services, while making more money for it. Through her travels in the Blueprint program, she learned that there was even more she could do to evolve and revolutionize her WordPress business model.

More specifically, she decided to niche down, as I like to call it.

For Jasmine, she found her sweet spot in providing WordPress consultation services to content and community-driven sites for nonprofits. As she explained in the podcast:

“If you don’t like spending time with your clients or aren’t passionate about their missions and goals, you can’t service them and help them achieve results.”

Like many WordPress professionals we meet at WP Elevation, Jasmine felt uncomfortable with the label “consultant” at first. She’d heard people throw it around as an insult (i.e. “highly paid consultant”) and worried that clients would only be able to see value in (and willing to pay good prices for) someone to build or create a website.

It took Jasmine some time to shift her mindset to be at a place where she recognised the value in guiding clients to where they needed to be – but she eventually got there.

What to Expect from this Stage of Professional Growth:

As Jasmine quickly discovered, finding a niche wasn’t about choosing a random area to specialize in.

Finding your niche with the sweet spot

It was about aligning herself with clients who shared the same mindset and goals.

Once this all starts to click and you realise you don’t have to kill yourself to make a living wage, and that you can actually enjoy the work you do, that’s when business will get easier.

At this stage of professional growth, it’s really about honing your practice and evolving what you do so that clients get better results. That’s the real reason you succeed. If you’re only in this to make money, you’re not going to go anywhere. You have to make your service a truly valuable one. You need to be the expert they can trust. And you need to share in your clients’ goals.

If you don’t believe in what they’re working towards, how can you help them get there?

Step 5

Major Gains

Major Gains

There’s something to be said for how confidence in your work can translate into success. Like in Jasmine’s case.

She had reframed her WordPress business as one that focused heavily on providing consultative services. She found the perfect niche for it. She was making a great sum of money to do something she loved. But she never stopped applying the Blueprint to make it better.

When she signed a new client some time ago, the agreement was for one month of training and support. Based on the project scope and price set for it, she was feeling confident that it would work out to be a good deal for her… but then she over-delivered.

Basically, as she began to lead them through the process, Jasmine realised that she had more questions to ask the client than anticipated. There was audience research, empathy mapping, blog categorisation and labelling, and so on. She felt compelled to put in a lot more work at the beginning than she had planned, and the client was starting to feel the pressure too. They were two weeks into the project and Jasmine had seemingly only asked a bunch of questions.

However, once she had all the answers and data-backed research she needed, she was able to get a site up and running in Divi in no time. It wasn’t just a new site that she was able to give them either.

“Jasmine significantly changed how the client viewed and used their site going forward.”

By adding a much-needed ticketing form to handle customer inquiries, she empowered them to switch off their phones and minimise all that wasted spend. She also helped them clarify their mission. As the client felt more confident and the site became clearer, they began to attract much larger-funded programs (a leap from 5-figures to 7).

When the project wrapped up, the CEO offered Jasmine more money than agreed upon because she spent more time than offered to make the site better. In her eyes, though, she was doing what should have been done in the first place. She turned their WordPress site into a tool that supported their organisation and staff.

What to Expect from this Stage of Professional Growth:

No matter how far you get into your career as a WordPress professional, sometimes it’s hard accepting that you get paid as much as you do. As you make more money in these later stages of professional growth, this fear is only going to grow if you let it.

Imposter syndrome is something we all have encountered at some point and it doesn’t help when clients don’t necessarily understand the value of what we do – at least at first. As Jasmine demonstrated, however, it’s only a matter of time before they realise their investment in you has paid off in dividends.

At this stage, you’ve learned and accomplished enough to the point where this very common fear won’t keep you down too long. And it definitely won’t get the best of you because you now understand the value of what you do and have priced your services accordingly.

With a business that runs like a well-oiled machine and your mind in the right place, you’re going to start seeing major gains.

So, what do you do now?

You lean into it. 

Just because you book those big-ticket jobs doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels

Step 6

Maintenance

Maintenance

Having fallen into a good groove with her business, Jasmine dug further into the benefits of membership in the WP Elevation community.

Within the community, she has gotten a chance to see what others are doing and what sorts of journeys they’ve taken to get where they are. As she explained, being able to see others grow gives you permission to do the same.

CHANGING OVER

Explain to your clients the benefits of using Elementor and demonstrate how similar the results are between the custom and themed options and their choice will be an easy one.

So, rather than get paralysed by over-analysis or allow her business to stagnate due to inaction, she stays active within the community to maintain the progress she’s made over the past few years.

This is so much so that the community has proven to be a useful and insightful resource for her as she’s examined the various stages of professional growth she’s experienced. It also now allows her to share what she’s learned with others trying to get to the same point.

What to Expect from this Stage of Professional Growth:

Professional growth of your business is something to be regularly fed and maintained.

Think of it as an infant. You take it from those early years where you’re nervous about raising and handling it the right way, and you don’t want any missteps to occur as you introduce it more and more to the world. Now, it’s grown and has become a major source of pride.

Just because your business has grown, however, doesn’t mean it’s time to stop feeding it. If you want to make sure it continues to be something worthwhile and valuable to share with the world you need to establish a regular practice of attending to it.

This is one of the reasons why the community is such a popular feature of WP Elevation. There’s always something to learn, something to fix, some opportunity to help someone else out… Even if you work alone, this is the time when you should be making connections with your peers to support one another’s continued growth.

Step 7

Organic Growth

Organic Growth

Jasmine is in the ideal position today.

Rather than worry about where her next client will come from or how she’s to make a profit on a job that’s way underpriced, she now spends her days focusing on what bothers clients from day to day. She has built a business around making a positive impact on the lives of her clients with the least amount of effort involved.

Her business now grows organically around the system and processes she’s built.

What to Expect from this Stage of Professional Growth:

At this final stage, you’re no longer tracking down clients every day or attempting to shift your business model and try something new.

You’ve already unlocked the keys to success and you have a supportive community to help you through any new obstacles you might encounter.

At this point, what you want to do is:

  • Focus on sustaining client relationships.
  • Always looks for new ways to make your operation run more smoothly.
  • Relish your successes.

By equipping your business to run efficiently and profitably, this will only make it easier for you to do whatever you want in the future (e.g. try a new niche, hire employees, etc.)

Wrap Up

Wrap Up

While success will look a little different to everyone, the way in which you move upwards won’t. If you haven’t charted out your stages of professional growth yet, this guide will help you get your business on the right track.

“Success will look different to everyone, the way in which you move upwards won’t.”

If you’d like to talk to Jasmine about her personal experience through the stages of professional growth, you can contact her at hello@braincandy.com.au.

If you’d like to learn more about how WP Elevation and the Blueprint program can make this journey an even more successful one for you, reach out today.

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