My name is Jan Koch, a WordPress developer from Germany. I have an integrated degree in Business Informatics and live in the countryside in North-West Germany, close to the North Sea.
My wife and I have a nice property in a rural area, with enough space to have our own horse in the backyard as well as two dogs. We’re also expecting a child in June 2020, which really is the driving force for what I’ve been doing recently.
The Journey Began
I didn’t have a digital life before WordPress, I was in the midst of my studies for the integrated degree in Business Informatics when I started using it. Back then in 2010 or 2011, I was tasked to rebuild the website of my former employer using WordPress, which essentially meant that I’d pick a predesigned theme and slap it onto an existing installation.
From that first project on, I fell in love with how customizable WordPress is and with how much information I could easily find online. I’m not an engineer by trade, so I always relied on finding the information I needed in documentations, on pages like StackOverflow, or more recently in webinars or Facebook groups.
Eventually, I would quit that job (the traditional career path is not for me, I talked about it on a WP&UP podcast episode) and start building WordPress websites for local businesses and friends.
The Need for WP Mastery
WP Mastery Logo
There were countless exceptional blogs on WordPress already when I started WP Mastery and my business wasn’t always branded as WP Mastery. I started with blogging about what I was learning in building an online business and just rarely talked about how I was building sites using WordPress.
After a couple of iterations and rebrandings, I settled on the name WP Mastery because it reflects what I want to help people with. I want my platform to allow people to learn and master WordPress, so they can become more efficient in their businesses and provide better service to their customers.
I like to think that WP Mastery is different due to my personality and the angle I take on creating content and digital products. Competition is validation in my eyes, it’s not really a bad thing.
The WordPress market is so huge, that there still is plenty of room for more people to come into it. I’m a big fan of collaborations and lifting each other up, so I’m always looking for companies to learn from or to team up with.
During the time I was self-employed, I had a few dark moments. Most were related to having anxiety about cash-flow or projects going badly. I think most entrepreneurs at some point experience sleepless nights caused by anxiety.
We need to be more open about our feelings and cannot afford to let them get control over what we think and how we act – that’s why I am now a supporter of WP&UP.
I’m proud of moments that are closely related to my virtual summits and how the summits impacted others, as well as my own life. After running my first summit in 2015 and then bringing back my summit in December 2019, I’ve received countless messages from people who attended the expert interviews and learned important lessons from them.
These personal messages about how something I did helped somebody else are what make me most proud. Also, the summits allow me to live life on my own terms and be present with my family. My schedule is in my control and that always has been important to me.
My most well-known products are the WP Agency Summit and the Ecom Services Summit. Both are virtual events designed to help agency owners and freelancers scale up their businesses by learning from industry leaders.
The Ecom Services Summit actually starts on May 25th, 2020, so I’d like to talk about that first. You can grab your free ticket to the event and learn how to run profitable ad campaigns for your customers, how to triple your prices by using proven marketing strategies to increase your authority, and you can learn how to build better-converting online shops for your clients.
If you are working with e-commerce clients or want to start working with clients in the e-commerce space, this event is designed to help you achieve measurable results!
The WP Agency Summit has been the biggest virtual conference in 2019, with over 2.200 attendees and more than 13,000 sessions viewed.
It helps WordPress professionals (agencies and freelancers alike) to earn more revenue, work more efficiently, and deliver projects on time. It is now set up as an ongoing virtual event so that people can see the sessions for free after signing up.
For both summits, I am selling lifetime access packages that come with some incredible bonuses for the people who decided to upgrade. Due to Covid19, I kept the prices really low (conferences with speakers like those I have would easily charge you $200 or more per ticket) and offer the contents for free for the first time somebody signs up.
Where I Get Work Done
Jan Koch Speaking at his Workplace
Advice for Business Owners
My biggest lesson learned from starting a business is that execution and mindset trump everything. In order to have the right mindset (focus on providing value and NOT on making money), you need to have some cash in the bank. Ideally, you’d have around 6 months’ worth of cash flow, so that you can truly think about building a service or product that helps people.
From what I found, money comes almost naturally if you are helping others. You hear this over and over again and it’s hard to believe when you’re pressed for money. But as soon as you keep impacting others, they’ll start spreading the word about the results you delivered and how your business helped them overcome a certain challenge or problem.
The niche you start in depends on your skillset and what type of work you enjoy. You can’t go into hosting if you don’t know how to build and maintain a proper hosting infrastructure. You shouldn’t do blogging if you don’t enjoy creating content.
I’d say just pick something that gets you excited and fired up and run with it. You’ll need to fuel yourself from the very beginning – as results will likely not come in until you’ve gotten your business off the ground. Stay persistent and look at how other companies in your space are growing their audiences. Learn from what others are doing and put your unique spin on things.
Stay in Touch
WordPress & Beyond
I want to grow my business by making my summits bigger and teaming up with other companies to run summits for or with them. WordPress development will play a role in that, as I’m building the platforms for the summits with custom code for certain functionalities. But one-on-one development projects will likely be less and less of what I’m doing.
WordPress has a bright future over the next five years. Automattic is valued at $3bn USD and will have enough money to fund further development of its platforms, fueling WordPress.
There will be challenges when it comes to handling the community with respect to governance and making decisions and there’ll likely always be a bit of friction, that just happens if you have an open-source community as big as WordPress.
I don’t see any real threats to WordPress from the competition. It could only kill itself through messing up future development and turning into a platform that’s not stable enough or becomes too bloated to be used efficiently.
But there are many good people in the community who’d take over their own versions of WP in those cases, so I don’t see the platform itself going anywhere.
My Love for the WordPress Community
My first WordCamp was WordCamp Europe 2019, where I met countless amazing people that I already knew from my online activities. I’ll definitely attend the next WordCamps as they come up after Covid19 because they’re incredible platforms to foster relationships and even create partnerships.
If it weren’t for WCEU last year, my WP Agency Summit and all the growth I experienced would have never happened! I cannot thank my friends in the community enough to push me on doing the event.
Some of my closest friends are:
But there are many more people I’d call friends who had a big impact on my life.
How I Keep Myself Updated
I mostly get my news from the Facebook Groups I’m in. The most active ones are Agency Trailblazer, Supercharge Your Web Agency and The Admin Bar – all run by fantastic hosts and places where you can feel comfortable.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
In my free time, I spend every minute with my family or doing something that benefits my family. Having our own property and two houses on there (the main living house and a smaller one divided into my office space and horse shed), there’s always something to do.
We spend time in nature with our dogs and the horse and soon we’ll have a baby girl that’ll get most of my attention when I’m not working.
Holidays are family times for us. We cherish our great relationships inside our family and spend time together on holidays. Usually, that’ll mean we gather at my parents’ home or our place and have a nice dinner together.
Our favorite travel destination is Cape Town, South Africa. We went there for our honeymoon in 2018 and it has been by far the most amazing trip my wife and I ever did together. We so fell in love with Cape Town that we even considered buying a home there and living there for a couple of months per year – we’ll see how that dream really turns out, I can imagine it could be challenging with a newborn. Here’s a picture of me on Table Mountain.
Jan Koch on Table Mountain
Here’s a picture of our two dogs, a 1-year old silver labrador and a 13-year old Deutsch Stichelhaar (a hunting dog). I don’t have a nice picture of our horse at hand 🙂
Jan Koch Pet
I Reward Myself by
I reward myself by taking time for myself. That means I meditate and journal and eat healthily (keto works best for me). The biggest reward is knowing that I can support my family financially while also being present with them and seeing the relationship with my wife improve. Though I’m a sucker for tech and could play around with gear all day, my focus shifts more and more towards the simple joys in the life of just being in the moment and being at peace with myself.