Our latest expert interview is with Chris von Nieda, founder of WPsitehelpers. He shares his expertise on virtual website maintenance and where he sees the future of the industry headed. 

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into this industry

In 1998, I saw the Internet for the first time. It changed my life. I was working as a loan officer for a mortgage company in California and I got an email with a link in it to the Internet. I clicked the link and knew immediately, this is what I want to do the rest of my life.

From that day on, I immersed myself in all things computer and especially Internet.  Why was I so excited? Because it was the World Wide Web! You can communicate with the world! No big deal today, but back then WOW. It was also a World Wide Canvas. With a few clicks, you can show the entire world anything you want!

Soon after that my role changed from Loan Officer to computer guy to ultimately the Director of IT for 3 offices and over 100 workstations. Oh, and I rebuilt the company website too of course.

I went on to start my own web development company which at the time specialized in technology for the lending industry. I was recruited by a successful digital marketing agency where I learned even more about the Internet before striking it out on my own once and for all. It’s been a wild ride so far and I’ve never looked back!

When did you start WPsitehelpers?

WP SitehelpersAs early as 2001, I was passionate about helping people get online but back then WordPress did not even exist.  Thankfully Matt Mullenweg came along in 2003 and together with Mike Little created WordPress. Fast forward to 2008 when I discovered WordPress for the first time when I was asked to build 75 WordPress websites. Even though I had no idea what WordPress was, I took the job of course!

I started WPsitehelpers as a WordPress Support Service in 2015. I saw a real need with small business owners who needed consistently, reliable, ongoing WordPress assistance, but weren’t able to afford a full-time webmaster. WPsitehelpers serves as a personal WordPress support team on call, 24/7. We provide WordPress core and plugin updates, upgrades, plugin installation and configuration, maintenance services, security, website improvements and much more. We make maintaining a WordPress site affordable for everyone.

 Why would people want a service like this?

 WordPress is the most popular website platform out there today. There are over 75 million WordPress powered websites online and 50k more are added each day. While it’s very user-friendly, you still need a certain level of expertise to maintain a WordPress website. Many small business owners are simply too busy to obtain that kind of expertise and even for those who are able to maintain their own site, it’s really not the best use of their time. Entrepreneurs are busy people, wearing several hats and trying to grow their business. I always tell my clients, “We’ll work on your website, you work on growing your business!” It just makes sense to have someone with expertise and experience maintain what is probably the most important marketing tool for a small business.

What’s one of the best success stories you’ve had with WPsitehelpers?

I’d have to say one of my best success stories came from a really bad yet avoidable situation with a company’s website. The company’s previous part-time webmaster had left the company, and another employee stepped in to maintain the website. While they’d dabbled in WordPress before, they didn’t understand some of the more complex maintenance items such as updating themes. Without backing up the site first, or understanding what all is entailed in updating and reinstalling a new theme, they completely crashed the site. At that point, the person who was trying to help had no idea how to fix it. Luckily, they found us and we were able to restore the site, update the theme, and have been working with them ever since. Their business came to a complete standstill while the site was down, so they were thrilled when we were able to get it within an hour of them reaching out to us.

Why can’t people just handle their own website?

The story above is just one illustration of what can go wrong if someone works on a website without the proper expertise. Even simple plugin updates can negative impact a website if not done correctly. Even for those who know how to work on their site, they don’t have the time it takes to truly manage a site: staying on top of plugin updates, theme updates, WordPress updates, security issues, etc. Properly maintaining a site is critical. We have the staff to manage any situation, and we do it 24/7. Why would a small business owner want to be responsible for that when they have a business to grow! 

Where do you see the future of website maintenance going? 

WPsitehelpers filled a niche that was long overdue. While it makes sense for larger organizations to have a full-time staff available for website maintenance, it just doesn’t make sense for small business owners. I believe that more companies are going to move away from having full-time employees dedicated to website maintenance, and more are going to seek out services like ours who can handle any issue, any time of day. We continue to become an on-demand society, and small business owners need this kind of service without having to pay a full-time resource. I see website maintenance becoming more virtual, on-demand and affordable.

Patty Hughes
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