An Employee’s Tale of WebDevStudios to Maintainn


melissa hoppe, webdevstudios, maintainn, wordpress support services, site maintenance,

The Beginning

From the age of fourteen, I bounced in and out of every fast food joint you could think of. If you’ve seen that fast food joint on the street, I’ve worked there. It’s not to say that I didn’t learn valuable things from working in fast food joints, because I did. I learned patience, efficiency, and one of my favorite traits–how to treat people the right way.

Customer service isn’t an easy job. The amount of dissatisfaction you deal with on the daily is outstanding, and makes you want to pull your teeth out, but learning the skill of smiling, apologizing, and talking it out until you’ve reached a conclusion both parties are happy with is something I would never give up. The customer is always right.

The Change

1486561_290825537777940_1834734667140659547_nJust shy of my twenty-first birthday, I gave life to my darling little girl, Juniper. LIFE CHANGER.

That was the point in my life that I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to provide the stable home and life I want for her by working at the McDonalds down the street. I needed something solid and permanent (not to mention something that didn’t involve coming home smelling like a French Fry!).

It was then that the opportunity to join the team at WebDevStudios came along.

Some of you may know her as Lisa Sabin-Wilson–co-owner of WebDevStudios, author of the WordPress for Dummies collection, and badass designer. I, however, know her as Mom. She approached me with the opportunity to become the Customer Service Representative at WDS, and I was more than willing to apply–not only for the job, but willing to apply myself.

Lisa and I took a trip to the residence of Brad Williams during the holidays in 2011, and the interview process started with him and Brian Messenlehner. They asked me why I wanted to work for WDS and why I thought I would be a good fit for the job position. They inquired about my skill set and knowledge around WordPress. I didn’t know a lot about WordPress at the time, so I let a nervous laugh slip out and my palms got a little sweaty.

Nervousness aside, I let them know that I was willing to put forth the effort to learn as much as I could and I was excited to be learning something new. They expressed that WDS would help me learn as long as I was willing to learn and showed interest.

After about an hour, I was accepted to become a part of WebDevStudios.

The Job

Jeremy-RennerI started at WebDevStudios as the Customer Service Representative on January 1st, 2012. DEER IN HEADLIGHTS.

I knew the whole ‘customer service’ aspect of the job, but the WordPress and technical aspects were a bit out of my league. That, however, was amended quickly. If you’ve ever had the chance to meet a team member from WDS, you know that their depth of knowledge surrounding WordPress (and all its in and outs) is outstanding. I never once felt like a fish out of water because of the help I received along the way from these amazing developers and designers. It was life changing.

Any question I asked was answered five times over with different explanations of why that certain person did something that certain way.

N00b question #1:

“What is FTP and what does it do for the site?”

“Answers A, B, C, and here’s why and here’s how it works. Also, we can have a call to explain further if you’d like.”

This made me even more excited to dig deeper into the WordPress world. I wanted to know MORE! When you have some of the smartest people at your disposal, you don’t let that knowledge go to waste. You use it to your advantage. I saw the opportunity to learn as much as I could from these people and I took it. They reciprocated beyond my expectations.

Two years went by in a flash. My daughter is about to turn three, I live in my own house with her, and I am STABLE…which is right where I wanted to be. Then, life got even better.

The Merge

In late 2014, WebDevStudios acquired Maintainn to bring WordPress support and maintenance inhouse. Awesome, right? Little did I know that in a few months, I would move from working primarily on WDS content and customer service needs to becoming a Project Manager at Maintainn.

This time, though, I was not a deer in headlights. I was ready. The base of knowledge I obtained from two years of working with the team at WDS had me prepared to take on a bigger role within the company.

I now understood how to optimize the schedule by making sure that urgent tasks were taken care of first–and I learned what an urgent task looks like.

Example: “There’s a fatal error on my production site.” VS. “Can you change the color of my button on the contact form?”

I’ve learned how to determine the amount of time it takes to complete tasks because I understood what work is put into completing a task.

The other Project Managers at WDS also had a huge role in helping me along. Their combined experience and willingness to help me excel was a key factor in what I’ve accomplished.

Basecamp, Basecamp, Basecamp. Check that first in the AM to make sure you and your team are prepared for the day. You don’t want to walk into the day blind. – Cristina Cannon

You’re going to have 100 things happening at once and 100 people asking you for things all at once (maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’ll feel like the case), but you have to remember your priorities. What needs to happen first to keep it all moving? You can’t do everything at once, so you need to have priorities. Also…lists. For everything. ALL THE LISTS. – Jaimie Olmstead

Working with Maintainn

Bringing in Maintainn (and the people who came with it) was, in my gracious opinion, a wonderful adventure. Not only did we have the knowledge power of the current team at WDS, but we gained the knowledge power of the amazing guys at Maintainn. I’ve learned what it takes to keep a site up and running. Site security, backups, updates…let’s just say I’ve learned a lot. Founder of Maintainn, Shayne Sanderson, has been as patient as ever getting me up to speed and making sure I’m not drowning, but excelling instead.

It was a learning curve going from a structured schedule to a faster paced work environment. With the position I held before, I knew what I would be doing every day, down to the half hour with little fluctuation. At Maintainn, everything is different by the minute and changes frequently. One minute you’re setting up a new client’s site, and the next you’re in your email, addressing an emergency. It’s a ride that I’m enjoying and I can’t hold back my excitement for what’s to come.

The Conclusion

All and all, working with WDS and Maintainn has given me an education I never thought I could have achieved. Not only have I succeeded while working for (and with) these amazing people, but I have learned skills that I can apply to everyday life. Such as being comfortable in a room full of knowledgeable people while holding my own, not being afraid to express my opinions because discussion is important, time management, efficiency, and all the patience in the world, which are all extremely useful life skills. Working here has also expanded my future career choices because I am now comfortable with WordPress and all that surrounds it and we all know that WordPress is only going to get bigger and better.

This doesn’t just apply to me, though–this feeds into the WDS and Maintainn philosophy about giving back to the WordPress community and fostering an environment of education and open communication.

It’s a rare thing to work for a company where it feels more like a close-knit family than it does a team of fellow employees–a company that is excited to teach you what you don’t know and is more than willing to help you take the steps to expand your brain. When you love your job, life is easy, and dealing with even the hard parts of your job are a joy. Happy employees create better work. I’m better at my job because of what they have given me–and what I have worked for.

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2 thoughts on “An Employee’s Tale of WebDevStudios to Maintainn”

  1. Way to go Mel! Any business should feel extremely reassured with you at the reigns – in any role! And you’re spot-on about “happy employees create better work” – the people make all the difference.

    Keep up the hard work and this excellent perspective 🙂

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