Did the title of this post get your attention? I hope so.
I’m going to tell you a story.
A cautionary tale to other Internet-based businesses who rely on web hosting services.
How We Measure Our Success
Depending on your business, you might measure success differently from us, but chances are you look at the following as a standard set of metrics.
- Customer Satisfaction
- and of course, the gross sales of your product or services.
The Balancing Act of Bootstrapped Growth
Creating and growing a viable and profitable business is hard. Especially when that business isn’t backed by venture capital, as I suspect is the case with most if not all premium WordPress plugin businesses.
We make decisions monthly on where we should invest our revenue.
Things like advertising campaigns, WordCamp sponsorships, partnership opportunities, software tools and services, and add to that the general cost of doing business.
At the end of each month, after affiliates are paid, vendors are paid, contractors are paid, and other expenses, only then do we calculate our team’s personal revenue.
Put simply, we pay ourselves last every month, and every month the amount of our paychecks change based on the previous month’s revenue.
Steady Growth for Two Years…Until It Happened
Our gross sales increased every month and so did our expenses, but we managed to come out ahead little by little each month.
Then the 504 errors started in late January.
We worked with our managed WordPress host for weeks and countless hours of support ticket replies.
The trouble would end, then it would start again in a few days. They would move our sites to new servers, we would kill plugins, we would optimize our custom internal plugins and their queries.
Frustrating to say the least, but all part of the business we’re in.
At that time we considered migrating to a new host but put it on the backburner because we thought they had it solved, and because we were steadily focused on our FooGallery plugin, which is now available in the repo.
It wasn’t until the end of the month when we really felt the result of that first round of hosting related issues.
For the first time in two years, sales plateaued.
We thought perhaps it was just the natural ebb and flow of the year. After all, it was after the holidays when it’s likely that people aren’t as inclined to spend money.
It Happened Again…And It Was More Public
Then it happened again in February and in March and in April.
The same never ending cycle of support tickets. The same frustration of not knowing the exact cause of the issues we were experiencing.
And for the first time in two years, sales dropped. They dropped significantly below what we would usually expect.
It was at this same time that a rather damning blog post was published about this same host, complete with screenshots of the numerous support tickets showing the same issue we were having and that it was never resolved satisfactorily.
But this isn’t a warning about our old hosting company, they’ve taken very public steps to address and correct their issues, and for that I applaud them.
This is a post about how SiteGround saved our business, so let’s let’s get to it…
Migrating All of Our Business to SiteGround
So we made the decision to migrate our sites to SiteGround.
If you follow my writing here on Foo, you might remember that several of our team have met the SiteGround folks in person, and that we were already fans of how they conduct their business and themselves.
Put simply, they’re good people running an exceptional business.
You can read more about that here.
No Small Task
FooPlugins.com isn’t the only site in our “Foo-O-Sphere” either. We’ve separated different portions of our business into separate sites on purpose in order to help mitigate any issues that might crop up related to a single site. Some as separate root installs and some as subdomain installs, and a Multisite install.
Add to this that FooPlugins.com is an eCommerce site with daily sales and content being added all the time…user accounts, license keys, blog posts, etc.
Professionalism of the SiteGround Team
If this post accomplished anything, I want it to be this:
The team at SiteGround are kind, approachable, and fun. But when it comes to the hosting business, they are the most professional and thorough I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
It began with a message to Hristo Pandjarov telling him we were ready to make the move.
He then put me in touch with their Senior Technical Support Engineer Daniel Kanchev, and we started an email thread discussing the finer details of our setup and our concerns.
Daniel asked a few follow up questions and before long we had a recommendation on what plan would fit us best.
After that was settled, Daniel sent us a very detailed proposal for the migration process and a timeline of events.
We had to coordinate our schedules as myself, FooPlugins Co-founder Brad Vincent, and Daniel are all in separate countries and in different time zones.
We agreed on a time and date, and in the week leading up to the migration, Daniel answered every question that came up swiftly and completely.
Making the Move
The day of migration (3:00am my time) went off without a hitch and the entire process took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. The three of us were in a group Skype chat and as the previously planned tasks were initiated and completed, Daniel was keeping us up-to-date on the progress.
After the migration was complete, we made a few test purchases, verified that existing customer data was intact, and ended our call.
Dedication to Satisfaction
In the days that followed, both Daniel and Hristo were in contact with us to ensure we were getting along OK and that we were happy with their internal server systems and most importantly, to make sure none of us had missed anything important to the day-to-day operations of selling premium digital products.
That’s outstanding customer service.
The Result of Moving Our Business to SiteGround
I suppose if you’ve read this far you can probably guess what I’m going to say about the result of our having migrated, and you’d be right.
We’re delivering fast page loads to our visitors, there has been no downtime, and sales are not only back to previous levels, but beyond.
As I said before, SiteGround saved our business.