Introduce yourself Andy, I’d really like my readers to know more about who you are and your background with WordPress.
Hey, I’m Andy (Stratton). Some know me as @theandystratton. I’m a freelance WordPress developer, founder of Sizeable Interactive (a WordPress co-operative), and founder of WordPress maintenance service WP Maintainer.
I’ve been working with WordPress for over five years now and love it. It started as a small freelance project around version 2.x and I enjoyed working with the code base so much, I continued to use it, gained more work opportunities and within a few years was doing WordPress work almost exclusively as my full-time job.
I have a handful of nifty plugins in the repository, speak at WordCamps as often as I can, organize my local meetup and WordCamp, written articles for a few blogs and The WP Quarterly, and I’m working to get more patches into Trac with the goal of being a part of a few commits in 2013.
What is WP Maintainer?
WP Maintainer is a service product focused on WordPress updates, backups, security and on-demand maintenance support. It’s a small group of professional WordPress developers working to create account-specific managed WordPress maintenance and support.
Maintainer includes Sucuri monitoring and clean up for security and upgrade compatibility support, among other things like free theme/plugin audits, site migration to hosting partners, clean up and one (1) free hour of on-demand support each month that can cover consulting, code changes/clean-up, CSS work, content population, plugin implementation, site speed optimization and more.
Given your extensive background with WordPress, what sparked the idea for WP Maintainer?
Maintainer started a year and a half ago as a service I offered to my clients as a freelancer, except it was in the form of a yearly retainer. I noticed a handful of my clients needed only 1-2 hours a month of service and that most of them were not upgrading WordPress core, themes or plugins regularly.
I found recurring common issues with many sites:
- they rarely update their software
- they rarely had a backup, let alone regular backups
- they rarely had secure installs or a form of security monitoring
- they needed developer help from time to time, but did not have the budget or need to support 10+ hours a month
- they’re relationships with any form of support team or consultant was far from intimate
- WP Maintainer is a solution for these issues that I would to continue to grow into a scalable service for these clients. The goal is to provide value to people who need it and form a relationship so that when there is a need, it’s easy to request and relatively quick and painless to implement.
What sets WPM apart from the competition such as ManageWP, CodeGuard, or InfiniteWP?
WP Maintainer is a service product that’s tailored to each client. It’s not just updates. It’s not just backups. It’s not just plugging a domain into a Sucuri account.
It’s 360 degrees of maintenance by hands-on developers with a built-in hour of additional support. While we’re constantly building tools to optimize our workflow, Maintainer not a product or an automated tool. There’s a human context with our service that could provide the same features different ways based on client needs.
$249 may seem expensive for some folks, and other it’s quite affordable. What does someone actually get for that price tag?
Our pricing includes:
- All WordPress core, theme and plugin updates by an export
- Upgrade compatibility support for your themes & plugins
- Regular backups on or off-site
- Sucuri security monitoring and malware cleanup
- One (1) additional hour per month of on-demand support
- Free site migration to our hosting partners
- Free plugin/theme security audit
- Free hosting security optimization
- …and any additional value-add features we release in the future (e.g, uptime monitoring)
You’ve effectively got an on-demand WordPress support team, focused on keeping you up to date, backed up and ready to do something new each month. Our features will evolve with our client requests, common issues and the community.
There have been a lot of companies sprouting up around WordPress and hosting, such as WPEngine. What do you see in the future of WordPress, hosting, and security?
I think there are tons of directions. Right now WordPress is a flexible giant. Tons of websites running powerful open-source software with tons of happy users, developers and designers. The amount of sites on WordPress is bound to continue grow and software will continue to evolve.
There’s a huge WordPress ecosystem consisting of the community released software (core, themes and plugins at dot org) and commercially released software (themes and plugins) as well as WP focused service offerings (freelancers, agencies, security, maintenance services, hosting, etc.). They’re all unique and complementary.
WordPress is going to keep growing – with that, the community’s offerings will grow and adapt, much like the software. Again, I fall back to context. Managed hosting is great, if that’s what you need.
Some people may need to self-host because they have WordPress tightly-coupled with a custom application. Many people base their hosting and management on the contractor or firm they work with. What one company finds convenient may not be convenient to another.
Much like the broader business community on the Internet, there is something for everyone and I think that trend will continue, aligned specifically with user needs.
Do you have any future product ideas that you’ve already planned that you can share with our readers on WPForce?
I have a handful of ideas for 2013, but Maintainer is the focal point for now. We’re actually working on ways to more than halve the price of Maintainer to make it affordable to a broader range of clients.
Outside of that, products are something I’d like to dive into (themes/plugins) as I tend to be loud when complaining about issues with many commercial themes/plugins I run into as a freelancer. Depending on my availability, I have another idea for a service, but I’ll tell you more later in the year!