Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Each episode features guests from around the community and discussions of the largest issues facing WordPress developers. The following is a transcription of the original recording.
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Doc Pop: You’re listening to Press This, a WordPress Community Podcast on WMR. Each week we spotlight members of the WordPress community. I’m your host, Doc Pop. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and my contributions over on TorqueMag.Io where I get to do podcasts and draw cartoons and tutorial videos. Check that out.
Today’s guest is Bobby King, the Chief Operating Officer at the White Label Agency. The White Label Agency is a WordPress agency that specializes in partnering with other digital agencies, and we are gonna talk about when and why agencies should consider partnering up on WordPress projects. Bobby, how are you doing today?
Bobby King: Very good. Thank you for having me.
Doc Pop: Yeah, thanks for joining us. Let’s get started here. If you could just give me your origin story. How did you get into WordPress?
Bobby King: Sure. I guess probably about 10 years ago, maybe a little bit more now, um, I was doing freelancing gigs between my day job and some night classes, running small PPC campaigns, doing SEO updates, et cetera, for some, some local clients in the area. And some of those clients were using WordPress.
So that’s kinda how I first came across it. And it was definitely an adjustment from the text editors and tools like Dream Weaver that I used before that. But I just remember that it was kind of impressive how you could just go and see a bunch of themes and pick one and load it into the site and easily adjust images and those types of things.
So yeah, I adopted it pretty fast once I discovered it.
Doc Pop: Yeah. I think it’s still impressive. It’s kind of magic sometimes when I swap a theme on my site and I’m reminded of like, “oh, right that’s what that experience is like.”
Can you tell us about the White Label agency? What makes y’all kind of unique in this space?
Bobby King: The White Label Agency, it’s basically a WordPress agency that supports other agencies directly. So instead of offering our services to end clients such as restaurants, dentists, et cetera, we work directly with agencies to support them with WordPress design, development, and ongoing WordPress needs.
Doc Pop: That sounds interesting to me. Before we started recording, I was kind of mentioning that my experience with talking with agencies is very much when they get hired from a client they want the whole pie, right? The idea of agencies working with other agencies is just, it sounds kind of revolutionary to me.
What is a reason that an agency who has a client that wants a WordPress site might also wanna partner up with another agency like White Label Agency?
Bobby King: Yeah. So there’s definitely a few reasons. I’d say the two major ones that we come across the most, would be a lack of kind of expertise or experience in the agency or just strictly a resource issue. The White Label Agency itself was born from kind of a resource issue.
It was a local agency serving end clients. There was a lot of requests for WordPress sites, and one of the partners at the time had a connection to some developers in Ukraine, and they decided to try it out. That went pretty well. So they decided to offer that kind of connection service to other agencies that also had the same kind of need for resources due to kind of a demand for websites.
Doc Pop: Correct me if I’m wrong, it sort of sounds like this is maybe a space that’s ideal for a smaller agency that’s getting started that might have a specialty, like maybe design is a specialty, or calendars and events are their specialty and they’re working with a client that maybe, they’re really good at these things, but maybe the client also needs WooCommerce integration or some other thing.
Is that, is that the sort of partnership that you’re looking to kind of help fulfill? Or is there maybe another kind of ideal agency that y’all like to work with?
Bobby King: Yeah, I think you hit it on the head there. We’re definitely serving more of the smaller to medium sized agencies that just like you said, like a great example would be WooCommerce. You have a client that you can provide the design for. You might even have a developer in-house that can build a site, but they’re just not up to speed on setting up and configuring WooCommerce. So that’d be a good example of reaching out either to an agency, us for example, or another agency that is experienced with WooCommerce and having that piece done by a different agency. You don’t have to turn away the end client just because you are lacking that part of the expertise.
Doc Pop: When y’all get hired, is it oftentimes for the upfront design or is it more maintenance long term, somebody else does the design in the beginning and then you kind of help with support on the long term?
Bobby King: Initially we were just a WordPress development agency, so we would require other agencies to come to us with the design files already done. And then we provide a quote and we’d get the project design and we’d actually build it, and then we’d give it back to them.
But over time, we’ve evolved the team more and so now we provide more of a full kind of development service, let’s say, where we can provide the design, the development, and ongoing maintenance and support for that site once it doesn’t go live.
Doc Pop: Yeah. So again, that kind of sounds like it comes back to that example I kind of dreamed up in the beginning of like a sort of the artist designer who wants to do the design of the site, but doesn’t necessarily want to inherit supporting the site for long term, it sounds like a good fit for why they would want to partner up with another agency who specializes in that sort of optimization and long maintenance.
Bobby King: Definitely.
Doc Pop: As folks who kind of specialize in partnering with other agencies, what are some of the skills that y’all have had to learn that’s kind of unique versus the skills that someone has maybe, that mostly deals working with, like an agency that works with a large company or large brand?
What are some of the things that y’all have learned to do when working with other agencies versus to do with large brands.
Bobby King: Some of the things that we’ve had to learn with working with other agencies is really getting the communication right up front. What I mean by that is, when you’re working with an agency, there’s typically different stakeholders or different people doing different things in the company.
And when they bring work over to us and we give it to say, a developer, we want it very kind of standardized to what’s gonna be coming across. So I’d say, being able to have those initial meetings. Kind of explaining to the agencies the best way to work with other agencies has been one of the skills that we’ve had to learn over time.
Doc Pop: So, yeah, communication I guess. Is there a special way that agencies talk to each other that’s kind of different? Are they a little more blunt, less kind of padding things and they’re just a little bit more upfront with their communication?
Bobby King: Yeah, that’s definitely true. And there’s even a range between agencies. You’ll have some agencies where, again, we’re talking to maybe the stakeholder is their in-house web developer. So they can come on and basically we usually start with a sales manager or maybe I’ll come into the call and they’ll be like, I can talk directly to your developer and we can just bang this out.
They’ll talk tech and, and they’ll bang it out. And then other times, maybe an agency that, as you mentioned before, specializes in design or maybe they’re a PR firm or branding, and that way we probably bring in someone that’s more a project manager or myself that would actually talk through kind of what’s gonna happen and go less on the technical side.
Just kind of bring up enough to let them know what they’re gonna get for deliverable.
Doc Pop: And I’m making a lot of assumptions here that I keep saying, the first agency might be the designers or whatever, but just to be clear, is that part of your service that you offer too, is presumably like web design is also something that y’all can do?
Bobby King: Yes, we do have a team of designers. We didn’t start that way, but over time I’m having partners ask, can you guys also do design? We have a lot of new sites that want custom designs. So we did set up a team for that.
Doc Pop: Okay. Yeah. So not just like doing the grunt work, making the site work, but also doing kind of the, the front end, beautiful stuff as well. That’s pretty interesting. I think we are gonna take a quick break on Press This, and when we come back we’re going to continue talking with Bobby King, the Chief Operating Officer at the White Label Agency about when and why agencies should partner up with other agencies.
So stay tuned.
Doc Pop: Welcome back to Press This, a WordPress Community podcast on WMR. I’m your host, Doc Pop, and I am chatting with Bobby King, the COO at the White Label Agency about when and why agencies might partner together versus trying to do the whole project themselves. Bobby, we were talking about some of the projects y’all have worked on and I was kind of speculating.
Can you actually provide maybe a good example of something you’ve done and why it was a good example of two agencies working together.
Bobby King: Yeah, I can definitely do that. So one project that we’ve had in the past, an agency came to us that they specialized in doing PR for book authors. So they would find authors that were releasing new books, and then they would be responsible for setting up content around the book release events that would be going on for them, as well as kind of setting up social media accounts, et cetera.
But they didn’t have any WordPress experience and they wanted to set up these landing pages and websites so each author could have a website. So they came to us with that and talking with the project manager, of the company they really didn’t have much WordPress development experience so we could offer them the development skills that they were lacking to get the sites up in a fast manner and turn them around really quick. And they also were at the time hosting on, they kind of just had all their sites together on a very cheap host, and they’re running into all sorts of problems with viruses and malware, et cetera.
So we were also able to offer them a kind of referral to go to a more robust server environment. We ended up actually bringing them over to WP Engine, which has worked out great. So all their sites are faster, they’re performing better and they’re also getting their sites built very fast by us.
Doc Pop: I can see the synergy there, between those companies. It actually kinda gets me wondering how often do y’all partner up with other WordPress specific agencies? Is that common or is it usually kind of digital agencies that might do a little bit more marketing and stuff like that and less website specific.
Bobby King: Yeah, it’s actually, uh, more common that we pair up with WordPress agencies. Typically agencies come to us when they run into the resource issue. So they have an influx of projects and suddenly they don’t have enough developers or developer when a leaves for whatever reason, they go to a different job and they’re kind of left with the void.
Or they might be midway in a project when their developer leaves and they gotta finish it. And that’s typically when they reach out to us and they usually try us on a project basis first. See how it goes. And then, once that works out typically those types of agencies that have the increased demand will end up hiring one of our developers in kind of more of a full-time basis. And some partners we have actually have teams up to four or five developers.
Doc Pop: We talked before about the kind of right size agencies to partner up with each other. And you were mentioning small and medium agencies might be, and particular looking to hire or partner with another agency. But I guess there’s also this kind of specialization that happens a lot.
I imagine that some agencies, as they start to work with you, it can sort of like, loosen their shackles a little bit so they can kind of, rather than having to be good at everything, they can really focus on their specialty and then let y’all focus on, on your specialty. Is that right?
Bobby King: Yeah, that’s correct. So yeah, we do have some agencies that really specialize in, say kind of like lead generation for a certain niche. Like agencies that only serve the lawyer base or other ones that serve only dentists. So they come to us and they very much know what they want. They just need to rely on our technical expertise to deliver it while they focus on getting new business and doing the service that they have expertise in.
Doc Pop: I feel like this questions maybe rooted in a bit of a downer. It’s not supposed to be, but if we’re honestly looking around a little bit at the landscape right now, it’s March 2023. There have been a lot of layoffs at large companies and sometimes those layoffs tend to really focus on marketing seems to be the first impacted.
I have a feeling that’s actually been beneficial for agencies because I don’t think these companies are not still building sites. These companies are seemingly still kind of going full steam ahead. They’re just kind of laying off in-house. And so I’m just kind of curious, have you seen in the agency world, has there been kind of like a lot of new business coming from larger companies because of these layoffs?
Bobby King: It’s funny that you mentioned this year, cause I’d actually say it’s the past few years. There seems to be at least the key base of agencies that we serve, of the smaller to middle size. First came the wave of like, the lack of developers after Covid, it seemed like it was harder and harder to find developers that wanted to come work in an office, work in-house for them. And demand just peaked because with Covid, everyone had to be online, right?
So the work was going up and the resources were going down and that seemed to continue into this year as well. We really haven’t seen a large drop off, or at least it’s not following what the market’s doing. So, yeah, I’d say that we definitely haven’t seen kind of a waning of agencies. If anything, like you said there’s more demand for services and kind of reaching out to other agencies for support.
Doc Pop: And kind of tying that back in, if there is an increase on demand for agencies to make sites, this is kind of another example of maybe why agencies should partner together. Many agencies might want that whole piece of the pie, but logistically, if there is kind of a bunch of in-house marketing and web design getting cut and so the pressure’s being put on agencies.
Yeah. Like they don’t wanna say no. So being able to take on these jobs and then I guess partner up with people to make sure you know, that, that everyone works together, that kind of seems like a good kind of rounding back up to this pitch of why agencies should partner with each other.
Bobby King: Yeah, I believe so. And I think that the WordPress pie is very big, uh, There’s lots of things other than just the core development service that come off it. So if you can just be that more attractive to your clients and new clients by being able to offer another thing that you don’t necessarily have to go spend a lot of time or a lot of resources to learn it or hire it internally, but you can go to another agency to get that.
I just think it’s a win-win for everybody.
Doc Pop: Absolutely. And on that note, we are gonna take one more quick break and when we come back we will be chatting with Bobby King from the White Label Agency about why agencies wanna partner up with each other. So stay tuned for more Press This.
Doc Pop: Welcome back to Press This, a WordPress Community podcast on WMR. I’m your host, Doc Pop, and I am chatting with Bobby King from the White Label Agency about when and why WordPress agencies and digital agencies might wanna partner up together. And we’ve been talking about pie a whole bunch during this episode, which is making me very hungry.
But kind of talking about keeping a piece of that pie and I was kind of thinking that agencies might be unwilling to partner up with another agency because they don’t wanna lose that income. But I’m kind of curious if there’s a way that by partnering up, a smaller digital agency might be able to actually make more revenue in the long term by partnering up with somebody like The White Label Agency that can help with maintenance on a WordPress site.
Bobby King: Yeah, I think that’s a great question and I think that’s definitely come across as we started to offer maintenance service and just what I’ve heard from other agencies that offer WordPress maintenance service. It’s often seen as the not so glorious thing you have to do for your clients after you kind of design and launch a website and everything’s great and it’s up alive and kind of you, you wanna be done at that point, going to the next project.
But unfortunately there is the, oh, we gotta, we gotta change this out. We gotta do this to this site or this. Some bug came up 90 days later type of thing. And a lot of agencies that we talked to kind of see that as kind of a pain in the butt, but it’s really kind of an opportunity as an additional revenue source.
If an agency gets a client to, to sign up for a WordPress site with the design and the development, and launching and all of that. They can get them on more of an ongoing subscription basis. So there’s that opportunity there. It can be anything from, they can offer the hosting themselves and then maybe offer two hours a month, to go in and do content updates, et cetera.
Take care of plugins, do the core updates, theme updates, et cetera. Make sure everything looks good. Instead of the agency doing that, they can just kind of sell it off and then pass it to a different agency, like White Label Agency, we now offer that. Or there’s many other agencies that do the same.
They can mark it up for what they think is fitting for their client, and then take the difference between that and whatever the maintenance company charges.
Doc Pop: And would their client know that they’re dealing with two agencies now, or would it kind of feel seamless. Like the same experience they had before, but suddenly there’s a lot more support options.
Bobby King: Yeah, I think it could feel very seamless. We are labeled and kind of call ourselves White Label Agency for a reason. It’s basically, the agency’s brand, their feel of their relationship with the clients. and really they never even need to know that, that someone else is on the website and doing things.
And that can be done simply by having the maintenance company use more generic emails, et cetera, to go in and do these updates. Or the agency can provide an email of their own, with their own domain. There’s also some other white label tools so that the maintenance personnel doesn’t have to be directly in the agency.
Doc Pop: Well, Bobby, I really appreciate your time. I am gonna go eat some pie now.
Bobby King: Sounds great.
Doc Pop: We’ve been talking about pie this whole episode. But I do wanna say thanks Bobby, for joining us. If anybody’s listening and they’re interested in learning more, you can check out thewhitelabelagency.com. They also have a Facebook group that they’re active on, facebook.com/theWhiteLabelAgency.
Doc Pop: Thanks for listening to Press This, a WordPress community podcast on WMR. Once again, my name’s Doc and you can follow my adventures with Torque magazine over on Twitter @thetorquemag or you can go to torquemag.io where we contribute tutorials and videos and interviews like this every day. So check out torquemag.io or follow us on Twitter. You can subscribe to Press This on Red Circle, iTunes, Spotify, or you can download it directly at wmr.fm each week. I’m your host Doctor Popular I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine. And I love to spotlight members of the community each and every week on Press This.