Last night I shared our 2012 strategic plan, goals and theme with our customer community in my annual State of iThemes address. This is always a special time to connect with our community and share our vision, passions, values and philosophies … oh, and projects we’re aiming at.
Our mission is to help make people’s lives awesome … and this year, our goal is to Make Waves in 2012.
Make Waves means as a team and company, like a ship moving through water, we want to be bold, be daring, to innovate, to kick butt and make things better for our customer community. To evaluate what we’re doing and see how we can disrupt the status quo on the web and in WordPress.
So this year we’re flying the pirate flag …
(I know it’s ironic for a digital downloads company such as ours.)
Here are some of the team-specific goals we’ve set to achieve by June 1.
WordPress and the market changes so fast that it’s hard to anticipate
At iThemes, our goal is to make web design fun and easy by offering easy-to-use website builder tools with a complete design palette at your disposal.
- Our focus is on More Themes, Better Themes with More Features
- In 2012, already released two Ecommerce Themes with popular plugin integration styling & several more child themes
- Total Builder Child Themes: 63
- Working now on BuddyPress Themes
- Next up is Events Block
- Chris is working on next big theme innovation project from iThemes (Release scheduled for mid-Summer)
At PluginBuddy, our goal is to make web design fun & easy by letting you do more cool things with WordPress.
- BackupBuddy 3.0 in the works (late March release)
- To celebrate, March is BackupBuddy Month - we’ll have contents, giveways and more fun leading up to the launch of 3.0
- PluginBuddy Developer Suite is our Hottest Package & Best Value
- Total Number of Pro Plugins Released: 18
- Looking at version 2 releases of our most popular plugins
- In 2012, already released Slides & Frolic Plugins
- New BIG plugin project started after BackupBuddy 3.0
At WebDesign.com, our goal is to make web design fun & easy by offering professional, cutting-edge training in WordPress web design.
- Currently have roughly 340+ Hours of 24/7 Training in Vault
- Already held 2 live events in OKC this year
- Working on 2 more non-OKC live events
- Adding 15+ Hours of Fresh Content a Month
- Talking to New Guest Experts to Add Value, Topics
- Planning a Kid’s Programming Camp this summer
Each month, we’re going to cover these types of webinars:
- Members Only Chat – where our members get to ask their burning questions fielded by Benjamin
- BluePrint Basics – Building a styles and types of sites from scratch
- PluginFocus – An in-depth look at a WordPress plugin
- BluePrint Advanced – A design related course
- CSS – A further look at working with CSS
- jQuery – How to work with jQuery, tips, tricks examples
- SEO – Learn more about different aspects of SEO
- BizDev – Tips on different aspects of running your own business
- Monthly Peek – A look at the upcoming webinars and what to expect.
- “Getting Started with WebDesign” – How to get started and how WebDesign.com can help.
- Educating the Educators – Monthly session with educators with helpful ideas and lesson plans
Other Projects and Endeavors
- Ebooks - For the past couple of months, we’ve been rolling out new ebooks on hot topics. All 7 ebooks are now downloadable in your member’s area (look on the sidebar). We will be releasing one ebook a month to demonstrate our experience and expertise in vital areas. These can be used in your freelance business as well! We’ll have a special landing page and library to showcase these soon.
- Friends of iThemes - is our Customer Ambassador club for those awesome customers who want the “inside” track on what’s happening at iThemes. We also post photos you upload to our in-office Customer Wall. So signup today for FOiT!
- Education Program - We launched our Student Toolkit edition in January and are still looking for educators and students to be a part of the program. For qualified educators we offer our entire inventory with support at no charge.
- iThemesTV - We have redesigned the iThemesTV site as a free education center for beginners and those just getting started with our products and WordPress. We’ve posted a regularly updated schedule of upcoming webinars as well as the webinar recordings from past ones in the archives. Be sure to signup for the iThemesTV email newsletter to get updates on upcoming free training opportunities.
- AllureThemes.com – is our joint venture project with Lisa Sabin-Wilson, launched last year to build and release WordPress themes specifically for women. Look for new themes coming soon!
- Creative Services by iThemes - is our services division offering professional WordPress design based on all of our products. Led by designer/developer Ty Carlson, we have several packages for those wanting professional design and assistance getting their sites launched.
- BuildAWebsite.com - is our joint venture project with OKC-based hosting veterans Web Hero to offer easy WordPress hosting with all our themes and plugins. Web Hero has been offering hosting since 1994 and know their stuff. We’re excited about this project launching this month, first to a select Beta group from our iThemes customer community.
- The Div - is the nonprofit web tech foundation we helped start last year, and ran by my wife Lindsey Miller. We’re looking at doing a Kid’s Programming Camp this summer in OKC and currently looking for grants and funding to make this all happen. Our mission is to inspire the next generation of web geeks. As a 501c3 foundation, we’d love your donations to support this cause!
THE MAKE WAVES MANIFESTOS FOR 2012
After reading the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek, and thinking about 2012 and what we wanted to accomplish, I felt this year should be about more than just products and services. I want to share and show you we believe in something more.
Our business is about more than making money (which we must do). We also want to be about making meaning in the world. Making a lasting impact. Being able to look back and see how we’ve made waves and blazed trails.
So we put together 6 ‘We Believe’ statements that we’re calling the Make Waves Manifestos for 2012.
Each can be traced back to what we spend our lives doing here at iThemes. And each have goals with specific objectives for how we’re going to accomplish this.
We believe they are both bold and impactful. They have measurable results that should demonstrate these beliefs. So throughout 2012, we’ll be constantly seeking to achieve these goals and make these belief statements real in our lives and those we impact.
But here’s the deal …. we want and need your help achieving this ambitious goals that come with each statement … and maybe we’re not thinking big enough and you need to tell us.
My goal by presenting these to our customer community is simple …. we want to enlist you in the journey! We want to rally our fleet, you — our beloved customer community — to Make Waves together in 2012.
So let me share those with you …
I remember building my first website in 1998 or so. I was using Claris Home Page. It was so time consuming but I got to build my first website for the world to see (or just my mom). It was exhilarating to publish to the web and stake my claim online.
Fast forward and WordPress plus all of our tools are designed to help make it even easier and thus more fun to do so for thousands of others.
We want that same experience for others — from kids, students, professionals, small businesses, nonprofits, to seniors — to have the thrill of building their own websites or starting their own blogs.
Thus, we want to help 5000 people build sites on WordPress.
In addition to building websites, we want to help 2000 people get started learning web design. We believe web design should be fun, but it can also be profitable, not just in starting a web design business, but enhancing your career and helping you earn more money.
I saw this quote recently: “Code is the new literacy.”
The web is the present and the future. The more people who become digital natives, or web natives, the better. So we want to help students, teachers, kids, designers, artists get started on learning the web and basic web design principles.
I love to offer advice and help to budding and aspiring entrepreneurs with the right mix of drive, initiative, talent and vision. It’s a passion of mine that I’ve used StartupSofa as an outlet for as well as WebDesign.com.
We all love the web. It is the digital frontier. And it offers unparalleled opportunities for earning a living or starting a business.
In 2012, we want to help others start and grow their businesses online by helping 200 freelancers get their first clients.
I remember getting my first client. All the fear, worry, anxiety that went into it until I closed that first deal and successfully delivered my services to them.
Getting that first client is often the hardest thing to do, but also the biggest catalyst in getting your fledgling business off the ground and rolling. We’re going to offer training opportunities that help you land that first client. (And then the second and third).
We also want to help 10 freelancers go full-time or pro.
It takes a lot of time, money and effort to get a business off the ground – let alone go full-time.
In the next month or so we’re going to roll out a unique coaching and mentoring group format through WebDesign.com to help you do just that. This first group will be our beta and it will be separate from the training membership — and focused solely on helping a smaller group of people on their journey to being full-time.
Right now, Benjamin and I are going to be heavily involved in this as well as asking guest entrepreneurs and iThemers to participate from time to time.
But at the end of the year, we want to see 10 freelancers go pro and live their dream full-time. We think it’s ambitious, but we believe we have a great group of freelancers doing it part-time right now who with the right counsel and guidance can get to that by the end of the year.
We love WordPress. We believe in the open source philosophy of giving back. WordPress has made all of our lives awesome … and we want to give back and help you do so also.
Our goal is to enlist and equip 500 people to contribute something back to WordPress — whether that be a blog post tutorial, writing and editing for the WordPress Codex, submitting patches to core, testing it for the devs, starting a local WordPress Users Groups in your town and beyond.
We’re going to be sharing practical ways you can do that in the coming months.
At iThemes, we’ve all personally lost data and whole sites and had to rebuild them. Out of that pain came BackupBuddy.
But in the last couple of months, the increase in hacked sites we’ve seen and heard about has risen substantially and alarmingly to us ….
It’s absolutely vital that your website — all your photos and writing and settings — be safe and secure.
That means checking your site for malware (through our partnership with Sucuri you can do that from within BackupBuddy), making sure you’re running the latest versions of WordPress, and having a holistic backup strategy for your site, among other things.
Although we believe 100% of WordPress sites should be backed up, our goal is to get 250,000 sites protected with a backup plan.
Now that doesn’t mean we sell 250,000 licenses …. it means you in your business or otherwise help others get a solid backup solution.
We’ll be talking about how to make your site safe and secure … and by extension other people’s sites you know …. through blog posts, special webinars and more this year.
One of our core values at iThemes is … learn and grow, then teach and share.
We believe in investing in each of our team members … and say that no one should be plateaued … we should have no “flatliners” on our team … each of us individually should be on an upward path of learning.
But it occured to me that a lot of the core values and philosophies we hold dear internally can be equally applied to our customer community’s lives. So this year at iThemes, we want to invest in your personal development.
Just like we do with our team, we want to see you learn and grow … then teach and share.
We’re going to be sharing the things that have made the most difference in our lives to you ….. from helping you learn your Strengths … to challenging you to read one book a month …. and then sharing the things you’ve learned on your blog or somewhere.
Like we do with our team, we also want to challenge you to set SMART goals for the year.
So we’re looking enlist 200 people committed to learning and growing through what we’re calling Life Dev 2012.
This is the one of the specific areas I’m going to be championing as we Make Waves in 2012 and I’m super excited about it.
You’ll be hearing about that in the next month … but needless to say I’m looking forward to investing in your personal growth.
We all take our web freedom for granted, honestly.
But this year with SOPA and PIPA, legislation seeking web censorship, which got tabled for later discussion, brought this directly to our attention and one of the beliefs we need to champion.
The online blackout in protest to these pieces of legislation on Jan. 12, 2012 were said to be the largest ever online. Some of the biggest sites in the world like Wikipedia and Google participated as well as us if you came to our sites that day.
It was a historical moment for web freedom. One I hope none of us who enjoy the web forget. I wrote a post called Score One for Web Freedom here.
At iThemes, we believe in freedom of the web.
But if we don’t rally together, we’ll loose this fight to well funded, super slick lobbyists representing the dying industries who failed to change their business model to adjust to the web.
They want to take this freedom away. We need to fight it. We need to be ready for the next fight — and it will come soon.
So we want to enlist 500 to fight for web freedom … meaning essentially that you get on a special mailing list and commit to contact your representative and help defeat legislation or other acts that seek to limit our freedom online.
Part of leading …. is protecting. And SOPA and PIPA would have affected each of you.
I hope you’ll join us as we watch on the horizon for the next act of censorship … and are ready to do something about it.
So those are our 6 Make Waves Manifestos:
- We Believe Web Design Should Be Fun
- We Believe in Web Entrepreneurship
- We Believe in WordPress
- We Believe Every WP Sites Should Be Safe and Secure
- We Believe in Investing in People
- We Believe in Web Freedom
We’ve got a special website dedicated to the Make Waves Manifestos. Go there now and pledge to help us in our adventure in 2012 and Make Waves with us!
VIDEO RECORDINGS FROM LIVE WEBINAR
Here is the first part of the State of iThemes webinar talking about iThemes background, mission, team specific goals:
Here is the second part of the State of iThemes webinar talking about the Make Waves Manifestos: