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Case Studies

Talking WordPress business and social responsibility with Press Up Inc

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pressup-logoOur case study series sees us talk to world-leading creatives, professionals and bloggers using WPZOOM themes. Today we’re very excited to share our latest conversation with Fred Meyer, co-founder of Press Up and co-editor of WPShout – amongst other things, as we discuss.

Press Up worked on the redesign of Karmê Chöling’s website and used our Modena theme for the purpose. I talked to Fred about the site, social responsibility and what WordPress agencies should be doing. There’s a lot of value to be had here, so enjoy!

Fred is one half of Press Up – a boutique web consultancy.

Fred is one half of Press Up – a boutique web consultancy.

WPZ: Hi Fred! Thanks for joining us. You co-run web agency Press Up, can you tell us a bit about yourself and the agency?

Fred: Press Up is a two-person agency, run by myself and my partner David Hayes. We started doing WordPress development full-time in early 2013. Since late 2013, we’ve also been the co-editors of WPShout, the WordPress tech tutorial site. We write about topics like WordPress development, and WordPress security.


WPZ: Press Up works with a lot of socially conscious businesses and communities. How important is that to your business?

Fred: It’s very important, because we enjoy our work when it’s for a project that could make the world a better place.

Since you asked, we’re in the process of launching a tech consultancy for social ventures called The Happy Bracket.

WPZ: Tell us a bit about Karmê Chöling. How did you come to be making their website?


Karmê Chöling is one of the oldest Buddhist meditation retreat centers in the United States. I lived there for a year immediately after college, so I knew a lot of people there—and, in fact, had created a lot of the static HTML site that was still their website up until mid-2015.

When they settled on a full redevelopment of their site, they contacted me and I successfully made the case for WordPress as the solution to most of the problems they were experiencing with the old site, which it has been.

WPZ: You’re using our Modena theme for Karmê Chöling’s site. What made you choose the theme and what have been some of the benefits?

Fred: I found the layout to be clean and spacious, which feels like Karmê Chöling. I’m really big on in-browser mockups—here’s a WPShout article I’ve written on the topic—and I started playing with the theme demo in-browser and quickly came up with a few designs that felt good, some of which ended up being quite close to the final design for the site.

Some of the initial designs for Karmê Chöling

Compared to a lot of overstuffed commercial themes, Modena’s also relatively simple; it doesn’t try to do too much. So it’s well-coded, and that’s led me to also use it on at least one subsequent client project since then.

WPZ: What advice would you give to agencies in the WordPress space starting out?

Fred: Raise your prices. You may think $30 an hour sounds great if you’re starting out, but when you factor in overhead and all the unbillable hours you’ll be working (to find leads, to write project proposals, etc.), you’ll quickly find that you can’t make a living. In my opinion, no US-based web developer, even starting out, should charge less than $60 an hour, and $100 to $150 an hour or more is appropriate once you’ve found your footing a bit. If you prefer value-based pricing, that’s great, but don’t let your implied hourly rate slip lower than these general numbers.

Also, don’t bill yourself as a WordPress developer if you don’t understand:

  1. PHP
  2. WordPress’s major APIs and programming conventions, such as hooks/actions/filters, the template hierarchy, and The Loop.

In other words, don’t try to work as a WordPress “developer” if that’s going to mean buying a giant commercial “all-in-one” theme with a rickety page builder, combining it with Advanced Custom Fields (which is absolutely great, by the way; it’s just used too often as a substitute for development knowledge), and hoping for the best.

Your clients won’t be happy if you go this route, and neither will you—and WordPress development isn’t hard to learn if you’re motivated and genuinely interested in technology. We wrote a book and video series, Up and Running, that we think is a great way to learn WordPress development, and there’s lots of others. And if you’ve ever got questions of any kind, we’d be happy to help answer them and to point you in a good direction. We’re at [email protected].

This is great advice from Fred – especially food for thought for new agencies and freelancers. For related reading and videos, take a look at charging more and value based pricing.

You can see more about Press Up and read their great WordPress tutorials at WPShout. The Karmê Chöling site is rocking our Modena theme – check the theme here!

If you’re doing great work with WPZOOM themes and want to talk to us for a case study, let us know.

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