I am Brian Jackson, an entrepreneur, content marketer, and WordPress agency owner from sunny Scottsdale, Arizona.
I’m a PK (pastor’s kid) and growing up, we moved around a bit. I’ve lived in a couple of interesting places over the years:
- Twenty minutes from where the start of the Mississippi River begins in Minnesota.
- Along the Oregon trail in the small town of Baker City (population under 10,000).
- Spud (potato) land in Idaho.
- Green and always rainy, Washington state.
I studied web and graphic design and minored in business administration at Walla Walla University.
I now consider Arizona my home and have for the past 5+ years. To be honest, I’ll probably never leave. While some might find it strange, I love the heat! Nothing beats shorts and flip flops 365.
The Journey Began
We didn’t have a computer in our household early on. Back then, computers were really expensive. I remember doing all my grade school reports on a 3M Word Processor in my Dad’s office at our church after school. I would save my data on a 5.25-inch floppy disk; those were the days.
Once we got a computer and dial-up, I remember a whole new world opened up for me as I discovered the internet. I started dropshipping CDs and DVDs in the 6th grade on eBay and have been doing different forms of internet marketing ever since.
I started my first WordPress blog (see below) in December of 2008 as a way to share what I was learning. I’ve always been a huge advocate for giving away knowledge for free. I think that’s what makes the internet such a fun and exciting place.
At the time, WordPress was still known for simply being a good blogging platform. After using it casually for a couple of years, I fell in love with writing. There is no better feeling (at least to me) than pouring your heart and soul into a long blog post and hitting the publish button for the world to see, especially if you’re helping people solve problems.
I’ve been using WordPress for over a decade now to build sites for clients, eCommerce, blogging; you name it. My whole world revolves around WordPress, probably more than it should at times.
The Need for Perfmatters
When we launched Perfmatters there were definitely some competitors. But none that ticked all the boxes for me. Having worked in both the CDN and hosting industries, I was tired of seeing firsthand all the scripts loading on people’s sites that shouldn’t be in the first place. Developers, unfortunately, don’t always have performance in mind when building plugins and themes.
I wanted something that would handle script management better and snippets of code that I had been using on my sites to optimize WordPress core better. And so that’s how the plugin came about.
One of the differences with our plugin is that we develop it around the already vast WordPress ecosystem of plugins. So, for example, we don’t handle caching with our plugins. There are already great caching plugins like Cache Enabler and WP Rocket. And many managed hosts have server-level caching these days. Our goal is to squeeze a little extra performance out of users’ existing setups.
Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room.” – Michael Dell
He was a WordPress developer at an agency, and I had been doing marketing and content creation for years. We also both share an obsession with regards to figuring out new ways to make WordPress run faster.
Like with any business, we’ve definitely faced challenges along the way. In fact, I wrote a whole post about what we’ve learned building and selling plugins. While it’s also exciting, there are always new obstacles to overcome, such as:
- PayPal IPN woes.
- You think taxes are complicated in the US, VAT is a nightmare.
- Costs of running an eCommerce platform add up fast.
- Figuring out ways to market new plugins can be exhausting.
- The best way to deal with refunds, refund policies, support tickets, etc.
However, with all that being said, it’s all worth it when you get an email from a customer saying they’ve been looking for your plugin for years, and it’s actually helping them solve problems for their own clients.
Myself with my Brilliant Team
Brian & Brett of Forgemedia
One of the great things about the internet these days is that it enables many of us to work remotely from home. Whenever the weather permits, you can find me working out on the patio. My brother lives in Washington state, so Slack calls are a regular occurrence for us.
Advice for Business Owners
A piece of advice for those wanting to start their own business is to simplify anything that you can so that you don’t burn yourself out (which unfortunately I’ve done a couple of times). Some might call these life hacks or the 80/20 rule, but it’s important to take a step back and look at everything on your plate to see if it’s reasonable. Work isn’t everything in life, and it’s good to have a healthy balance.
For example, we aren’t planning to launch new WordPress plugins, at least anytime soon. We are 100% focused on improving our existing ones. This allows us time to add new features, fix bugs, write more documentation, and chat with customers about what they want to see next. You don’t need 100 plugins to succeed. And if you do, you’re probably doing it wrong.
The agency and SaaS spaces are booming right now, so if I were to start a new business, I would keep this in mind. Think of ways you can help developers, WordPress implementors, and agencies fix problems.
WordPress & Beyond
Right now, we are focused on delivering on more features that our customers want while keeping a performance-focused approach. We, of course, are doing other things such as content production, staying active on social media, building our newsletter list, growing our affiliate relationships, etc. The typical grind and things that every business should be doing to some extent.
I would personally love to dive into YouTube videos, but we’ll see if I can ever find enough time to do that. 🙂
WordPress is rapidly changing, and it’s exciting to watch its growth. It’s now used by 37% of all websites, up from 34% a year ago. That means there are plenty of opportunities for new plugin developers and businesses. I think the Block Editor is where everything is headed, so if you’re developing something that uses the editor, I would go in that direction.
While the WordPress growth is always encouraging, I do think one day we’ll start seeing a decline. You can’t go up forever. And the onboarding experience for WordPress, in my opinion, is quite lacking when compared to other solutions such as Shopify (which is growing fast), Wix, etc.
However, the trade-off and advantage with WordPress are, you can customize pretty much anything you want. The bad news is that also means it can be more time consuming as there a hundred different ways to accomplish the same thing.
I don’t think we are near the decline, but it’s always smart to keep an eye on other platforms to see what they are doing better. Or so you know when you might need to pivot.
My Love for the WordPress Community
Prior to taking a step back and work on my business full time, I was the CMO at Kinsta, a managed WordPress hosting company. It’s ironic because, during that time, I only ever managed to make it to one WordCamp (WordCamp US in St. Louis). I like to say that I got lost grinding for a couple of years. Most of it was because I was super busy writing. 🙂 I would also consider myself very much an introvert.
On the flip side, when I did attend WordCamp US, it was so fun meeting everyone I had gotten to know over the years on Twitter, Facebook, and even customers. The WordPress community is one of the best in the world, and everyone is really friendly. It’s a big group of people that all share a passion for the same thing: WordPress. If I were to go again (which I’m sure I will), it would be to create more connections.
Brian Jackson at WordCamp US
How I Keep Myself Updated
Maybe I’m old school, but I prefer to use an RSS reader to keep up with things. I have a bunch of sites hooked up with Feedly that I check regularly. This allows me to categorize everything and keep my inbox free from clutter. It’s also a great way to follow other non-WordPress related news such as what’s happening with Apple, Google Cloud Platform, etc.
It will also be interesting to see how WP Content pans out. This is the hot new place to share (not spam) WordPress related content since ManageWP.org (the community site) shut down.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
In my free time, I love taking a long hike on the trails here in Arizona or going to see the latest movie. My brother and I also enjoy a good game of competitive Rocket League to wind down.
Most of my family all live back in Washington state, so we have a different kind of holiday schedule. We visit each other when the weather is nice. So I might go see them during the summer, and they’ll come to visit me in the spring.
For our trip last year, we rented an Airbnb over on the Oregon coast, Seaside, to be specific. It was a lot of fun! And wherever we go, we always seem to sneak in a game of mini-golf.
I Reward Myself by
Back in 2014, my life radically changed, and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Ulcerative Colitis. So I try to give back whenever I can to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. I find that very rewarding.
It’s a horrible disease, and I consider myself blessed that I didn’t have symptoms until later in life. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for some of these kids diagnosed at an early age. The goal is that hopefully one day we can find a cure!
I also have a gluten-free blog I run where I share some of my more personal health struggles and also how I’ve had to completely change my diet over the years due to the autoimmune disease. It’s a great outlet, and even if I just help make one person’s life a little easier, it’s worth it. It’s also refreshing just to break out of the WordPress bubble from time to time.
Connect With Me
I love connecting with fellow WordPress folks. If you’re ever in the Scottsdale, AZ area, hit me up and we can grab a coffee or bite to eat. That is after we are out of this craziness with the pandemic.