My name is Dave Swift. I started my first business in 7th grade by convincing my parents to buy me a box of 100 Blow Pops for $5, which I sold out of my locker for fifty cents each. That was my first taste of being an entrepreneur, and I was hooked.
I was also very into music and decided very early on that it would be my career. I graduated from Berklee College of Music in the early 2000s, right as the music industry began its collapse.
Napster had hit and, iTunes digital downloads were brand new. The writing on the walls as part of the music industry was going to mean becoming an entrepreneur, and that helped me learn about marketing early on. The internet was the only place I could afford, so I learned HTML & CSS and started developing websites for myself and my other artist friends.
The Journey Began
When I started coding websites, WordPress wasn’t around – in fact, there wasn’t really any off-the-shelf CMS(s) that were popular. That meant every blog post had a manual and relatively time-intensive process.
I remember hearing about SquareSpace on a Leo Laporte podcast back in about 2005. It was big into TechTV and these guys were going on and on about how great SquareSpace was, so I gave it a shot and loved it.
At this point, I was running a recording studio and trying to get clients. Every studio at that time had a Portfolio website, where basically you had to brag about all the gear you had and how many prestigious clients you worked with. Which made studio owners get some attraction but, it didn’t worth it to generate leads.
Fast forward to about 2009, and I’m running a business that teaches children music lessons (if you are thinking of School of Rock – you are not far off). We had about 80 students a week coming through our doors, which was enough to pay 2-3 teachers’ salaries and our rent but, it didn’t leave much for me to go on. I was still using SquareSpace at the time and still unable to show up my page on Google. Also, I couldn’t allow people to book online.
After a week of learning about WordPress – I was sold. I rebuilt the entire website on WordPress in a weekend and never looked back. I’ve been a proponent of WordPress for other local businesses for the last 10+ years, which led me to run a WordPress agency.
The Need for Profitable Tools
Profitable Tools Logo
After running the agency (Client Amp) for a few years, I started sending video messages to clients showing them how to improve marketing aspects of their sites using WordPress tools (and avoid the need for custom development most of the time).
I would get very favorable messages “You know, Dave… these videos are extremely helpful, you are really good at teaching this stuff”.
That definitely planted a seed. I assumed I was pretty good at explaining complex concepts in simple terms because of my years teaching music.
Then one day, we had just got home from the state fair and. I was all sunburned and beat red but in a good mood. I saw a WPCrafter video where he was explaining something and he actually got something wrong.
I was like – I can help some people. I turned on my webcam and, about 7-8 mins, made my first video. I published it and posted a comment on the WPCrafters channel with a link to my video. I got a reply, “Dave, you’re a natural, you gotta make more videos” or something to that effect. I was excited to get that comment. Still, it wasn’t until about six months later that I started taking YouTube seriously.
When I started my YouTube channel, I had no audience. I would get excited if a video crossed 100 views. I did not know how to grow an organic audience at the time, so I just focused on content creation.
I’d try to share the videos where I found a great spot and didn’t seem to be spammy. I’d look for people who needed help that my video would provide a solution. Then I’d make sure to reply to every single comment that I could, often providing custom CSS or deep links to docs for people.
I think that went a long way to demonstrate that I was just another affiliate marketer. I am passionate about this stuff and really care about helping people.
Myself with my Brilliant Team
Dave Swift with Family
I’m lucky enough to work from home with my beautiful family. I really can’t express enough how grateful I am for everyone who supports Profitable Tools either by reading the updates on the website, subscribing to the YouTube channel, or interacts on the Facebook Group.
Client Amp’s attention these days is on creating content and growing Profitable Tools. I think we have a lot of value to share with the community as more and more businesses prefer online and need to learn a new way to grow their business. And it allows me to enjoy the simple luxuries in life, like having lunch with my kids instead of being stuck in a cubicle office.
Advice for Business Owners
It’s cliche, but fails quickly and fails often. Don’t be afraid to pivot if you don’t have a path to success. That’s the beauty of starting small. You haven’t locked into one thing.
The market is getting mature. WordPress is 17 years old, so most things have been done (and done multiple times). There will be more big development companies to appear, but I think the customer now wants to know their developers will be around to their product.
If you want to create a new plugin or theme, I will start by developing trust in the community, not just selling hard or aggressively. Get your face out there and let people know you’re legit.
WordPress & Beyond
We are doubling down on content right now. I take a lot of pride in producing tutorials and reviews. My opinions won’t align with everyone. But, I hope I’m able to help those beginner and intermediate business owners get a trusted answer without feeling like they need to invest a ton of time, just to see the best use of every pixel on their website.
Hopefully, WordPress can continue to refine itself into an easier to access the tool. When I look back at where WordPress was five years ago, you had to have a custom theme to do anything.
We can do a lot more now without touching a single line of code, but it’s still kind of a “hack” often, things like hooks and code snippets. I’d like to see WordPress become more accessible on the backend for regular folks to get the features they want, without the risk of destroying their site by messing with the code.
Absolutely, No ship is too big to sink. WebFlow is amazing, and Shopify is synonymous with eCommerce. I’ve had clients that tell me they want Shopify on their site when they just mean eCommerce.
My Love for the WordPress Community
I’ve never attended any event. Being a musician for more than 20 years, I learned that conventions are a great way to get sick, and not a lot of real business gets done there. Haha, now some WordPress folks have tried to convince me that WP meetups are different, so maybe I’ll have to give it a try when we finish this pandemic.
How I Keep Myself Updated
I focus on training and reviewing products. I keep on looking when the top tools get updated so I can subscribe to as many WordPress developers’ email lists as possible.
I do get a lot of emails, but if they’re talking about updates to their products. They usually tell their list first. Beyond that, I have a pretty good curation on Facebook and Twitter, so if something comes out, I get to know about it pretty quickly.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
I have four kids, and that keeps me busy. Beyond that, I love podcasts and audiobooks. I try to keep screens off when I’m not working as much as possible, but I usually fail at that. Music is still really important to me and I even still teach a few music lessons per week in my local area.
I’ve been taking the last two weeks of December off for the last few years so we can travel to see my parents as well as my wife’s parents. It’s a nice way to decompress after the craziness of the holiday shopping season.
These days, I’m pretty chill. I value calm over excitement. Give me some beautiful scenery and a way to keep my kids tired and hiking in the woods is good. Alongside this, we have a Summit that is our 11-year-old Pitbull.
Dave Swift Children with Pitbull
I Reward Myself by
That would come across as incredibly cheesy, but I don’t feel the need to “reward” myself. Each day is a reward itself. I try to celebrate each day and always try to be looking for opportunities to be grateful. It doesn’t always work, but you have got to keep trying to find the good in everything.