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.
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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.