Why I shut down WP Field Guides

Over a year and a half ago I set out to build an educational product called WP Field Guides. One that could help small businesses get a bit more educated around WordPress development and its best practices.  However, as alternative to my services, give an option to those potential customers that for one reason or another did not become a client.  As of today, I’m pulling the plug on it.  WP Field Guides will no longer exist in the manner it does today.  Field Guides will no longer be a product that anyone can buy.  In fact in the spirit of community, I’ve decided to continue to produce them, but give them away as free content within this website.  

I’m really not one for putting out numbers, or other metrics around the business.  However I tend to learn more from those stories of failure or specific decisions that shape the business itself.  As entrepreneurs we all have tons of ideas swirling around in our heads.  We decide to take action on a percentage of those ideas, but only a small percentage of those ideas become a success.  I wanted to share with you the journey of one of my ideas that I took action on, but then took a bit of a left turn.  I’d like to share with you the reasons for my decision as well.

The Idea & Action

On June 30, 2014 I set out to write the first Field Guide called How to Design with Premium Themes (which you can now download for FREE below!). I spoke with some knowledgeable people within the WordPress space on the idea of WP Field Guides and I got some great feedback and the consensus was to move forward with it.

I put up a landing page not soon after and wound up getting quite a few signups to the email list. I started to then plot out content, the full website and some of the marketing around it. I also dove head first into writing the guides as well.

Last fall I launched with various promotions. Teamed up with some partners for promotional bundles. Made a handful of sales, but nothing to write home about.

Brainstormed some new ideas and I even broke into other social media outlets and tried to piggyback on new ones to help generate traffic and ultimately sales. Sent out regular emails and coupons to those that had downloaded free content. Didn’t even create a sale from it all. I wondered if I was priced too high, maybe the content sucked, maybe both. Whatever it was there obviously wasn’t enough people willing to open up their wallets for it.

The Results

After making only a handful of sales and seeing plenty of people interested but not pulling the trigger I started questioning myself and thinking if this was worth all the effort. I reached out to those that showed interest and asked why they hadn’t purchased. The number one reply was “The material is great, but I’d much rather just have it done for me.”

See I had set out to educate small businesses about the best practices of WordPress because I saw some many of those same businesses coming to me for help with their site. For help in trying to figure out why their site was slow. For help on custom development that they just couldn’t figure out how to do. For help on the proper way to install themes or plugins.  So I thought that maybe there was a window of opportunity where maybe these businesses would want some insight into these things.

Really what people wanted was what I provide on a daily basis through my services. They wanted a “done-for-you” service. They didn’t really care much about the reasons why, they just wanted the results.  I realized that ultimately successful businesses are successful because they are able to delegate and be able to get things done by the experts that they hire to do them.

The second reason was they wanted the exact 1-2-3 “How-To” rather than the education. They really just wanted the fish.  However there were tons of other smart people already doing this out there.  I’m not a teacher, however there was some best practices that I have seen over the years that weren’t being applied and way too many businesses fell victim to that.  I wanted to change that.

The Decision

Sure, you can say that WP Field Guides was a failure. But in my mind, it wasn’t.  I learned a great deal in audience building, in content writing, and most importantly reading what people truly want.  As an entrepreneur, or any person in business, you need to learn something from everything that you do.

What you see here in this blog are posts around the best practices of WordPress. WP Field Guides was a huge exercise in coming up with the content that really is very much the same as here. In fact it was so big, that I couldn’t even keep up with both blogs. My head was actually overwhelmed with all the content and engagement. I posted for both blogs, both Twitter accounts, both Instagram accounts, every place I could. I was literally exhausting myself with doing something that ultimately wasn’t in my wheelhouse in the first place.

Because I was half-pregnant in both spots, neither one was getting where it needed to be. Sure I have amazing clients and use this blog for posting development tips and sharing best practices. Development is my bread and butter. WP Field Guides was essentially an alternative to this blog. A sort of “rezzz light”.  So I asked myself, why am I spreading myself thin.  Why am I essentially splitting my audience in two?

So I’ve decided to close that outlet and pull everything into here. I will be producing all of the content for WP Field Guides, just under the rezzz.com brand. And the best part is…it will be free.

Yup, that’s right, it’ll be free. (Well maybe you’ll have to give up an email address or share a tweet or something).

I will be releasing them over time in posts and you’ll be able to download the guides, field cards, and other bonus materials all without having to open up your wallet.

So people want it done for them. Great! Feel free to knock on my door. However those developers starting to get into WordPress development, designers looking to get a leg up, even marketers who want to understand WordPress more technically, you’ll all be able to get it one place – right here.

I’ve released the 16 Point WordPress Launch Checklist & How To Design With Premium Themes as the first pieces for you.  I do hope that you get some tremendous use from them.  I know I have.

I’m curious as to your thoughts on my decision, so feel free to leave a comment below or drop me a line on the interwebs.  Enjoy!

/ Jason Resnick

Jason is a WordPress developer helping small businesses, design and marketing agencies achieve their goals by specializing in Ecommerce and increasing conversions. Learn more about him here.

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16 responses to “Why I shut down WP Field Guides

  1. It’s happens, I think sometimes one or two items of something are not enough to tip the balance, once you have 5-10 of these field guides ready, you can just bundle them together as ebook.

    1. Thanks! Granted I’m not really shutting it down since I’ll be still offering the content out. It’s just the learning experience that I gained from it and thought that it would be great to share the thought process behind it.

      1. Totally Jason. Understand you are continuing but in a different guise. My respect was for both your honesty and the courage to share your feelings along with your decision to keep it going. Will be keeping in touch with your developments. Thanks and good luck Jason.

  2. Nice, and, I agree, courage. All is not lost, however, as you build your list (using this tool) of potential contacts for your next great thing. Kudos!

  3. Great decision! Even as a newbie marketer, I was always educating small business owners on the how-to. It was only much later I discovered EXACTLY what you did. They just want it done. On the developer and technical side of things… YES we want to know the stuff, how it works, and later be able to delegate and outsource. I am so glad I decided to check out your post. Many can relate! Nice to meet you Rezzz! I will be back

  4. This experiment was certainly not a failure by any means. It reZZZonated (see what I did there?) with the audience and then they gave you a gift – “we just want it done for us.” Kudos and I’m certainly a new follower.

  5. I’m so glad that you shared this here. Other than the specifics, it describes my own experience to a T. I think I know someone else who did something similar.

    I’ve made a promise to myself not to get sidetracked by any more side projects, but to focus on making my core services even better – which is how I found you, through a course you taught for WP Elevation.

    1. Reducing the amount of shiny object syndrome is definitely a need when you want to move the business forward.

      Glad to see you come over. Thanks for looking me up and hope you get some value from the articles and podcasts you see here.

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