Hey there, I’m Dan Norris the founder of WP Master. You may be wondering who I am and how I got here, so here goes!
In 2006, bored with a traditional career working in the Government, I embarked on a journey to start my own web design business. I’d never built a business website before so there was a lot of teaching myself in books and figuring out things as I went along. Eventually, burned out by the traditional agency model, I sold the business in 2012 and worked on a few software projects. I really wanted a recurring revenue business model and I love building software.
After a few spectacular failures, I found myself once again searching for a job, and out of desperation I decided to try to combine the best bits out of both business models. I love services because you can start the business so quickly and easily, but I also love recurring revenue – I’ve had a long held belief and hope that you can be a founder without being the stereotypical sales guy, constantly looking to land the next deal. To me entrepreneurship is about creativity and flexibility, not about just chasing $$.
So I started WP Curve, a WordPress small jobs service, offering unlimited small jobs for $79 / month. It was the first of its kind in the world and we went from 0 customers to over 1,000 in 2 years. Ultimately we sold it to GoDaddy, and I told my story in my first book The 7 Day Startup and inspired a lot of other founders to follow a similar path.
After the sale, I moved on to my next project, a brewery in Australia, Black Hops which became one of Australia’s fastest growing companies and regularly voted Australia’s #1 favourite craft brewery.
I never lost touch with WordPress having set up and maintained the brewery website, and a few of my personal sites the whole time. When I finished up at the brewery in 2023, I once again found myself in the position of needing to start something new.
WP Curve was more about bug fixes, back then it was common for WordPress to have coding clashes and plugins breaking. It wasn’t anywhere near as configurable as it is now. So we hired a bunch of developers to do most of these types of small jobs. These days, I do 99% of the work on my sites by myself because of how good WordPress core, the plugins, and the themes have become, and it’s rare I need to rely on a developer to help out (although I can if need be).
In that sense, WP Curve was a pretty tricky business to manage – 30+ developers around the world, 1,000+ customers, operating 24 / 7, working with a co-founder on the other side of the world etc. My goals back then were to create a high growth scalable startup that was worth something once we were done.
These days my goals are different. When I found myself thinking about what I wanted in a business and what business owners need in a service, I started to look for overlapping things to see if I could pull something together.
So my requirements were:
- Initially I want to do all the work myself so my costs are low and I can generate an income straight away.
- I don’t like phones or emails, I much prefer messaging, I think it’s way more efficient and the tools are great now to support this.
- I want to work during Australian business hours and rarely work outside those hours.
And I believe these things overlap well with the needs of Australian business owners who run their site on WordPress.
- Most businesses don’t like dealing with ‘middle men or women’ when working on web projects – it’s frustrating and messages get lost between the customer and the person doing the work.
- I only offer the service to Australian companies who’s teams are on board during Australian business hours and are frustrated with dealing with overseas companies who are hard to access during those hours.
- The traditional agency model where businesses have to send an email and wait around for a response is stressful and outdated. Most want a quick response from a real person – not necessarily a quick resolution (depending on the problem), but a quick reliable response.
For now I’m only going to sign up a handful of clients to make sure I do a great job, and make sure clients get an excellent service.
That solves my needs and theirs for the time being, and I’ll re-asses once we are up and running.