Joe Casabona of How I Built It

Joe Casabona – Founder of How I Built It

November 2, 2020 / Individuals / 0 comments

I am Joe Casabona! I’m a podcaster and WordPress developer. I hale from New York but I currently live in a suburb outside of Philadelphia, PA with my wife and two kids.

I’m here by way of my wife, whom I met at our Alma Mater, The University of Scranton. I got my Master’s Degree in Software Engineering there, and even worked and taught Computer Science there for a while.

Before that, I lived an hour north of NYC and I am the oldest of boys. I’m a proud NY Italian, Yankee fan, and I enjoy cigars! Oh. And I make too many pop culture references.

The Journey Began

I’ve always been into computers, and have been a web designer almost as long. My first computer-based side-hustle was making mixed CDs for people in my class. It was fun and I was the only gamer in town since no one else has a CD burner. I felt like a more realistic Zac Morris.

I started making websites when my church asked me if I could build a website. When I said, “no,” they offered to pay me, so I said yes! I absolutely loved building websites and continue doing it up till now.

I discovered WordPress in college when I mentioned to a friend that I intended to build my own CMS. He showed me WordPress. This was back in 2004, before pages. I used it a bit – kind of a hybrid between that and PHP templated pages. When Pages rolled, I started to use WordPress a lot more; then I went full time with it on all of my projects in 2006.

It was just so easy for me to use, and easy to teach my clients as well if they wanted to update their own websites.

The Need for How I Built It.
How I Built It Logo

How I Built It Logo

I came up with the idea for How I Built It while I was talking to other business owners to get advice. I was gearing up to relaunch my main business, Creator Courses and I wanted to make sure that I was taking the right steps.

I realized as I was having these conversations, asking business owners how they built their businesses, would benefit more than just me, and the podcast was born.

Today, it is a considerable part of my overall business, accounting for nearly half of my income. The rest is made up of educational services, mostly in the WordPress space!

In fact, I’m working on a project called WordPress: Year in Review.

Myself with my Brilliant Team

(Team: all the paper on my desk)
Team How I Built It Logo
Joe Casabona of How I Built It

Joe Casabona Workplace

Joe Casabona Workplace

Advice for Business Owners

My advice for people who want to start their own business may go against the go for it/hustle/rah-rah crowd, but it’s, “Don’t just do it.” Sorry, Shia LaBeouf.

You should do some research before you start your business to make sure it’s worth the risk. Even good ideas are Risky Business! Dig in and make sure what you’re building is something people want. We’re beyond the early WordPress days, where you could just build a plugin, theme, service and it would sell. You need to be willing to put in the work.

I was lucky to have a good safety net, but I was also smart to build my network, and that’s my second piece of advice: build your network. You should have a good list of contacts, potential clients, and potential partners. My network has been invaluable to me and has provided me with opportunities to make my business thrive. I hope they can say the same thing about me.


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WordPress & Beyond

In the coming years, I hope to build my podcast membership so that it’s generating good money – I don’t want to have to rely on sponsors all the time.

I’m also throwing myself into the service part of my podcast business, Podcast Liftoff. It’s a course and done-for-you podcasting service. I really see podcasting exploding in the next 3 years.

As far as, where WordPress is going, I suspect Gutenberg will grow to consume all aspects of the dashboard, not just the content editor. I also can’t help but think Jetpack will play an even bigger role in WordPress.

The last prompt here is: “is there any threat to WordPress from competitors.” There is always a threat from competitors. And with the poorly handled block-editor transition, plus the recent W3C decision, they smell blood in the water. WordPress is strong, both as software and as a community.

We need to remember what makes us strong – the community-driven decision making and dedication to all users. We also shouldn’t be hostile towards the competition. WordPress may be Jaws in these waters now, but competition moves everyone forward. Fish are friends, not food.

My Love for the WordPress Community

Earlier I mentioned my network’s strength and its importance in building my business. Most (if not all) of that network comes from the WordPress community. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

That’s why I take the time to speak at WordCamps and meetups. That’s why I try to be generous with my time. I wouldn’t have it without the great people in this community.

Joe Casabona Speaking

Joe Casabona Speaking at WordCamps

How I Keep Myself Updated

Post Status is my favorite source for keeping myself up-to-date on WordPress stuff, especially since I’m also a developer. Then of-course there’s WP Tavern and Torque.

I don’t listen to too many WordPress specific podcasts, but I appreciate Matt Medeiros’ perspective on The Matt Report, as well as the advice dolled out on the WPMRR podcast.

As far as industry stuff, I read a lot of books. My own publisher, Peachpit, puts out great content, as does A Book Apart.

I Have a Life Other Than the Work

I have a wife and two great kids. I like spending time with them when I’m not working. When I need some alone time (which we all do), I enjoy smoking a cigar and reading or listening to podcasts.

I feel like I have 24,601 interests, but my general hobbies include cigars, pens/stationery, Star Wars, and Disney in general. Disney World is a favorite travel destination for our family.

I also wish I was better at video games and drawing (but I still do them).

Joe Casabona Family

Joe Casabona with Beautiful Family 🙂

I Reward Myself by 

Mostly by doing the stuff above. I always smoke a cigar when I ship something new, and for bigger projects, it’s a good bet that a new fancy fountain pen is in my future. Most recently it was the Sailor 1911 Wicked Witch of the West when I finished writing my book.

Since donations/altruism was mentioned as a prompt here, I’ll say that I don’t really see this as a reward to myself, but I won’t pass up an opportunity to share my favorite NPO. Most of the money I donate goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Families of very sick children don’t pay a dime for the treatments or any other costs while they are at St. Jude. I can’t think of a more noble cause.

Connect With Me

You can find me at Casabona.org, and on most social networks as @jcasabona. I’m most active on Twitter, though I’m really trying not to be. I’ve enjoyed my time on Instagram lately.

The most surefire way to get ahold of me is via email – joe@casabona.org. Just mention this article!

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