An Interview With BobWP, aka Bob Dunn, An Indispensable Treasure Of The WordPress Community
If you’ve ever rubbed elbows (and in today’s world that might be more improbable than not) with Bob Dunn, more widely known as BobWP, you’ve touched WordPress Royalty.
For a guy who is not a plugin or theme developer, not a web site designer or who doesn’t make web sites for a living, Bob is as well known in the WordPress community as just about anyone. To get 5 minutes with him at a WordCamp US is almost impossible. He’s a friend to everyone and has built his good name over the years.
My story with Bob is simple. Years ago he was teaching WordPress in the Seattle area and getting well-known enough to have caught my attention. I reached out to him with the idea to team up together and teach WordPress online – him on the west coast and me on the east. It went nowhere. I did not get a reply.
(I was even thinking of naming my business BudWP. Then I realized if that ever took off and he heard about it, he'd be none too pleased.)
But I persisted and a few years later I commented to a post on his site. Bang! Don't you know it, that did the trick. We've been friends ever since, seeing each other at 2 WordCamps US, and staying in touch. I even got him to let me interview him on his podcast which was a big deal.
One thing I've learned from Bob and it's just common sense: If something in your business is not working out, take action and change it. Don't just think that the problem will remedy itself. It won't. Don't be afraid to admit that a brilliant idea is only brilliant to yourself. It's a lesson I already knew, but he gave me permission to feel comfortable in admitting failure - and doing something about it.
Before I start my interview with Bob, I'd like to mention that he recently did a Doo the Woo podcast with Matt Mullenweg, a co-founder of WordPress. Have a listen at "WooCommerce, Blocks, Open Source and Today’s World with Matt Mullenweg." Nice get there, Bob!
Me: So Bob, you've come a long way. But before we get to today, you and your wife were running a print shop back in the day, right? How long did you do that and how did you get to WordPress?
Bob: Yes, it’s been a long road. I did graphic design freelancing for 4 years, 1989-1993. That was when Desktop Publishing was big. In 1993 we started our design company, Cat’s Eye Graphics, which morphed into a full fledge marketing company. We offered primarily design and copywriting services at first, but became a one-stop marketing source which, believe or not, also included photography services as well. We weren’t per se a print shop, but worked with tons of them and were in the print world for many years.
In 2007 I was intrigued by blogging. **I also** wanted to find an easier way to build websites for clients vs. doing the horrific HTML sites I was putting together. I came across WordPress and it fit both of my needs perfectly. So in 2010 we ended our Cat’s Eye Marketing run after 17 years and I started to build the brand BobWP. The rest is history.
Me: **So** in the beginning you were doing what I do** - teaching and developing WP sites. But you turned away from** that. Why?
Bob: Yes, I was designing sites up until about 2015 or so. Also, shortly after 2010, I really found my sweet spot with education and spent a good 7 years doing teaching and consulting. There came a time when I was just tired of client work. After a total of almost 25 years of running a biz and doing client work, I knew it was time to step away from that. But I never stepped away from educating people as I was still able to do that in so many other ways aside from client work.
Me: Then, if I got the story straight - correct me if I'm wrong - you developed a wonderful blog that gave out all sorts of great reviews of plugins and themes. I think you were doing affiliate marketing. You had a podcast that went along with that. But that's mostly gone now. You were the "NPR of WordPress." What happened?
Bob: I pivoted. I could leave it at that, but seriously, that is what happened. Again, I needed a change from both writing content around general WordPress and the various podcasts I had started. I wasn’t leaving WordPress behind, far from that. There’s that moment when things become too forced and you know it’s time for a change. That is the beauty of WordPress. There are so many directions you can go and still run the WordPress engine. Now, whether I ever was the NPR of WordPress** - or can even be still considered it - for me WordPress** still remains my total focus.
Me: Somewhere you turned your focus **to** eCommerce and specifically, WooCommerce, the number one WordPress plugin that turns a WP site into an online store. How did you get there and how did you get the name "Do the Woo"?
Bob: I started dabbling with WooCommerce when it came out in 2011. I was using it off and on for different reasons, mostly around selling virtual products and services. I had a history with WooThemes since 2008, so it was a natural for me. As I started writing more and more about Woo, I saw the new direction I wanted to go. You know me Bud, when I get set on something, I go for it. I just knew, for my business model of publishing and podcasting, it was the right direction to go.
I wish I could remember the exact moment I thought of the podcast name, Do the Woo. It just rolled off the tongue and also was catchy. As I grew my site and podcast, and moved to the total focus of Woo, it was so appropriate. You know, just do the Woo. Just a side note for your readers, I have worked closely and long with WooCommerce for the permission to use it. If you are thinking about using it, I would suggest you do the same.