My name is Johnny Nguyen aka WPJohnny. I’m known in the WordPress community as a WordPress speed expert and web hosting expert. WPJohnny.com is my site for WordPress guides and reviews. JohnnyVPS is my ultra-fast WordPress hosting service.
I was born and mostly lived in Los Angeles, California (USA). Also spent a few years in San Francisco, some months in Canada… and lots of traveling in Europe, South America, Asia. Been working from home or while traveling for over 10 years now.
I graduated with a BA in Business Marketing but my professional background is an all-around mix of IT, web development, and traditional marketing.
The Journey Began
I started my lifelong tech career as an IT and network admin guy since 15 years old. After graduating from college, I realized I never wanted to do field calls anymore and switched over to web design and development to work from home (or remotely around the world).
Joomla (just forked from Mambo) was the popular CMS at the time… beloved for its simplicity over the much heavier Drupal. I was actually a very active Joomla community member, won a design contest, and even helped moderate the biggest Joomla communities at the time (Joomlart and Rocket).
But when my sports blog blew up in popularity in 2010, I thought long and hard about whether Joomla was really the right choice in the long run. On a gut instinct which I lost tons of sleepover… I opted for what seemed like the future of CMS… WordPress!
What a great decision it was. For 10 years, WordPress has not only grown in popularity, endless improvements, and 3rd-party extensions. It’s now used not only by more complex sites but also by less tech-savvy users. That’s quite the feat! The amount of exciting solutions and incredible people that work with WordPress today is what keeps me so content that I don’t even care to look at anything else.
The Need for WPJohnny & JohnnyVPS
WPJohnny.com (my site for WordPress guides and reviews) was actually started as just a reference notebook for myself. It was where I wrote down notes for myself to keep from forgetting. And also to share with clients who kept asking the same questions over and over.
I put down helpful tips and honest reviews for myself and my clients. Being brutally harsh at times, and overwhelmingly praiseful at other times. I didn’t care about making money with it, commissions, or gathering a following at all. I still stand by that today. I could care less who reads it. My money is already made elsewhere and that leaves me tremendous editorial freedom to write how I feel and not to cater for monetization or publicity.
WPJohnny.com doesn’t have any challenges since nothing is expected out of it. Which blows my mind when I get highly complimentary emails or partnership and consultation requests from large companies or celebrity developers I respect. My only sad feelings are that I get too many requests and can’t help them all (even though I want to).
JohnnyVPS (my WordPress hosting service) was inspired by one client who begged me to go public. My team and I have been running our own servers in-house since 2010… hosting only our personal sites and web development clients.
Around 2017 after the emergence of mobile web-browsing, I saw how bloated WordPress themes and plugins were getting… and how much money people were willing to pay for faster web hosting… and STILL not get the results they wanted.
I saw that I could easily do better… and so I did. We opened our web hosting infrastructure to the public, duplicating our server stack to data-centers around the world and silently serving our customers under the radar.
What makes us special is a long background in both WordPress development and server administration. (Most companies are only strong in one.) My proudest moments are getting approached to host other notable WordPress brands since I know they can afford to go anywhere else but they still choose us!
Our biggest difficulty is managing growth. We are trying desperately not to become one of those cold corporate investor-backed “tech brands”. The core JohnnyVPS team is the same 4-5 people I’ve known for years before the company was started. It truly is a family company with lots of synergistic chemistry. And I want it to stay that way… profits are damned!
Myself with my Brilliant Team
We’re missing Asfihani and some others. But it’s funny… we’ve known each other for a while, done so many crazy projects together and still just as bromantic today as we were when we first met.
I move around all 3 areas so my body doesn’t get too stagnant/stationary. I have a standing desk with a balance board, then a dining table, and a couch.
Advice for Business Owners
I understand people start businesses to make money. And quite often when they look to make money, they want to make money FAST. My advice is to stay away from fast money. Find something you like. Instead of looking for solutions to problems, look for things that you truly enjoy working with day in and day out.
Whatever you love, you will easily stick with it for a long time. All industries and niches will go in and out of trend. And if you’re passionate, you’ll easily reap the gains during trending years but also stand out during down years. It sounds so cliché but I’ve always made more money when I wasn’t chasing it.
WordPress & Beyond
Our plan to “not grow” so fast is by not advertising and not telling anyone about our business. Our client word-of-mouth alone has kept our small team more than overwhelmingly busy.
Where do I see WordPress in the next 5 years?
- Evolving away from themes (which is layout and styling) into just “global styles”. Making it easier for users to customize their site design and layout without coding.
- Greater WooCommerce improvements to make it easier to manage and more powerful, further threatening Shopify’s hold on the eCommerce platform market.
- Better performance. Probably in how assets are loaded, and maybe improving upon some queries.
- Commercialized repository. Think like the Apple Store… some apps are free, some apps are paid. WordPress needs for commercial themes/plugins.
I really don’t see any threats to WordPress. At this point, it’s the Amazon of CMS. So big that it’s ubiquitous. So familiar and so many options. Picking anything else feels like abandoning comfort and mature solutions so you can build things completely from scratch. Yeah… no thanks.
The other solutions out there (Squarespace, Wix, Weebly) are mostly only appealing because they are simpler in that they do fewer things than WordPress. WordPress has done well to evolve with the times.
My Love for the WordPress Community
I’ve never gone to any WordCamps or WordPress meetups. I think they’re great to meet other WordPress people, make friends, find clients. But I prefer to stay away from any tech stuff in my free time.
I know too many people in the WordPress community. Many of them that I respect and admire, and are doing incredible things. I will give one shoutout and it’s to Walter Lopez of WPAllied. We’ve done so many projects together and spent many long difficult nights in the trenches. He’s saved my behind on countless occasions and a close friend even during non-WordPress moments.
How I Keep Myself Updated
I’m lucky in that it seems anybody who creates or finds anything new will always tell me about it. Every other week, someone is chatting with me about their new product or service. I get to hear (and even choose) their new ideas before the world does. How cool is that?
I don’t think you can stay updated by reading (although it helps). Anything you read will always already have been in the past. To stay updated, you have to know the future. And you can only do that by speaking with the people who create it.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
I’m a boxer and boxing trainer. Also a semi-professional tango dancer. Any free blocks of time will go to training or traveling. I love visiting Europe; Italy is my favorite country.
I Reward Myself by
WordPress is actually my guilty pleasure. Hahaha. To sit here and hang out with clients and coworkers. The stuff I get to work with on a day-to-day basis is really exciting. It also helps that I always have new toys (plugins and services) to play with. WPJohnny
But to reward myself? Going out for a drink, hitting up the gym, catching up with friends.