Charles Oh is the co-founder of SproutedWeb, which provides 24/7 WordPress Support. In our podcast, he tells us how bartending changed his perspective on life and eventually led him back to the digital world, and explains how Elementor saved his team thousands of working hours.
How Becoming a Bartender Gave Charles a New Perspective on Life
Charles’ journey in the digital world started when he was a little kid. Growing up in Mississippi in the ’90s, he learned indepentently how to program and build websites. During this time people were using Microsoft Frontpage, so he would build everything out with Frontpage, and made his first website as a 12 year old.
This was Charles’ first foray into the world of programming, and as a young kid, he was thrilled about discovering Apache and installing a sub-folder on his desktop and realizing he could have a website stored in there.
Fast-forward in the future, Charles got into the world of SEO, where he worked with a couple of large companies and got burnt out with the cubicle life. He felt he was way too young to be stuck in a cubicle 50 hours a week, so he decided to take a break from the corporate world and became a bartender:
“It was the biggest transition of my life, ’cause it went from not really being a social person, ’cause I was always working in a cubicle and looking at analytics and researching key words and all this. And you just get stuck with this cycle and routine and now I’m all of a sudden meeting people from all over the world. I’m talking to people from all these different startup companies and just … It was a different social situation for me altogether. But, it turned out to be one of the best learning experiences of my life, and talking to so many people from all walks of life, just listening to them over them having a cocktail and just listening to their stories was very inspiring. And 10 years later I decided, you know what, this was a fun ride, I’m going to go ahead and look into getting back into websites because the market’s so different now.”
Finding the Right Path
SproutedWeb provides rapid 24×7 Support for WordPress users straight from the WP Dashboard. Their plugin allows users to instantly connect with one of SproutedWeb’s WP Developers via chat support, and access helpful services. Charles tells us how his work with clients got him to this point:
“I’d always been working with websites, I’d been working with Elementor the whole time and just working on some side projects for some friends that had their own business here in town.
And it wasn’t until just listening to their needs, as clients, and the struggles that they go through and it wasn’t ’til I heard the same story a hundred times over that I realized, I finally found out the direction that we wanted to go with our company. Originally we started off as doing full website designs and we tried to do a little bit of everything… This company was started by myself and my girlfriend Monica, who’s also from the service industry and we met through that. And it was fun, because we got together and we just started working on one project. It was for a client down here in town.
And just watching her learn and get used to WordPress and how to work with it, taught me a lot about exactly where the weak points in WordPress are and how to learn it and the struggles of some business owners in general. And I wanted to see what I could do to help that. At this particular time, since we’re just doing website designs, we slowly got requests to do logo designs and then we slid into doing marketing for people and all this other stuff and we were spread too thin.
We were really trying to make that decision of, do we charge a lot for these projects and go high end? Or do we try to go quantity and make smaller, easier to consume packages for clients and not do the 10, $20,000 contracts, but focus on the smaller businesses? That as a hard decision, and ultimately, when we were looking at the market and where it was shifting to, we were trying to figure out what our identity was at this time, and this November of last year. And then, December rolled around and I think I mentioned to you WordPress 5.0 came out and … I woke up. And our live chat … And we didn’t really have this feature for a lot of our clients, we were always wanting to provide the top-end support, so when we developed a website for a client we didn’t just leave them hanging. They had access to 24/7 WordPress support through their chat.
And this was on a website, and it was like December 3rd or 5th, around there, and I woke up … My live chat was just dinging, dinging, dinging, dinging and we had 100 people in the queue and I realized, holy crap, WordPress 5.0 just rolled out and there’s a lot of sites that are going down and when I was talking to every single one of these people, as many of them as I could that day, I just heard all the different ways that their sites were crashing. Whether it was their hosting side or their website was out of date with PHP and then they just ramped up to 5.0 and it crashed. Ultimately what it boiled down to is, this was in December it was a holiday season, they couldn’t get in contact with the developers.
A lot them had websites that had been up for years and they hadn’t even chatted with their web developer in years. And they didn’t really have anyone to turn to, and so they were finding us online and chatting with us. That was at that moment we had realized our calling as a company. We said, alright this is a big signal from the market of what’s needed right now. People need support, people need a way just to have someone to talk to that’s an experienced WordPress developer to answer some super basic questions, a lot of times. And, in a way, this solved a lot of issues that we were trying to solve as a management team.”
How Elementor Improved Sproutedweb's Workflow
How did Elementor took the workload off Charles and his team?
“I was already, actually, familiar with Elementor. It was one of the frameworks that we had used for a variety of client projects when we first started up. We use other page builders for different things, and that’s a beautiful thing about WordPress is, you have the flexibility … When you have a variety of client types … There are some people that are just, this is why I’m hiring you, I don’t care how to edit my site, so whatever framework you want to use, go for it. And, so for us, we had to standardize the number of tools that we’re using because I wanted to cut down on how many different frameworks that are out there. And ultimately, for us, I wanted to streamline what we were focusing on as a company, and Elementor was a big part of that. It helped boil us … It was 12 different systems or frameworks down to three.
“…It’s the amount of time saved in designing the website. Even when it comes to prototyping or wire framing the site. It’s super easy. But then also, it comes down to support. So ultimately, after you deploy the website for a client and now you have, let’s say, 50, 100 clients that you’re maintaining or helping out on a as-needed basis, how do we minimize the number of times that they have to contact you for a simple question? Because the longer they wait for an answer for some question, they’re going to feel like you abandoned them with their framework, and that’s when the relationship goes sour.
So, it helped us on the support side too because there was a lot of videos that were available where, instead of me being on the phone with that client, and times this by 50 clients, answering how to add a particular page to their site, there’s a video on YouTube now. Now there’s thousands of them. And I can just show them specifically with Elementor and other page-whatever, how to do it visually and just have them refer to that.
I would say across the past three or four months, across thousands of chats, this has saved us thousands of hours alone. It’s big.”