Rich Tabor is transitioning to a new role now as Senior Product Manager of WordPress Experience with GoDaddy. In the past three years, Rich founded a digital agency, launched a popular PhotoShop resource site, and started ThemeBeans, a successful WordPress theme shop.

ThemeBeans and CoBlocks, Rich’s suite of page builder blocks in a plugin, have gone with him to Godaddy. (CoBlocks remains free, and now all the ThemeBeans products are too.) Rich took some time to reflect with us on his path so far and where he sees the WordPress ecosystem going in the future.

Q: What led you to dive into the new post-Gutenberg reality of WordPress and create CoBlocks and Block Gallery?

I’ve been fascinated by the block editor ever since Matias’s Gutenberg demo during WordCamp US 2017. I was instantly convinced that Gutenberg would lead us into the next era of creation in WordPress. I saw an opportunity, was in a position to execute and had enough expertise to take it on.

Q: Did sales for these products meet your expectations?

I actually did not release paid versions for either CoBlocks or Block Gallery. There were plans to monetize both plugins, but at the time we were focused on delivering innovative solutions to Gutenberg and pushing the editor to its extremes. Adoption-wise, both plugins grew particularly fast, and are continuing to do so. In that sense, they most certainly exceeded my expectations.

Q: What do you see as the near and long term future of the WordPress ecosystem? As solo developers and small firms are increasingly hired by bigger fish, especially hosting companies, will there still be a place for small entrepreneurs?

I believe that the WordPress ecosystem will continue to be an innovative field for both entrepreneurs and larger companies. It’s all about innovation and being able to execute — regardless of the size of the team behind the product or idea.

And over the last few years, the WordPress economy and its entrepreneurial leaders, have evolved into quite a mature ecosystem. I’d say the fact that companies such as GoDaddy are investing in the future of WordPress is a huge sign of that maturity and growth in our industry. Hosts, in particular, are uniquely equipped to make a huge difference in how so many folks use WordPress. Investing in products and talent that level-up the overall WordPress experience is good for us all.

Q: What about GoDaddy made it seem like a good fit or you? Did you consider any other types of companies outside the hosting space?

I flew out to Phoenix to meet the WordPress leadership team at GoDaddy and it became quite clear that they were all-in on this new future of WordPress + Gutenberg.

GoDaddy has assembled a passionate and highly qualified team of folks who are hyper-focused on improving the WordPress experience and leading the next wave of innovation in this space. Joining this team and leading the efforts as the Senior Product Manager of WordPress Experience is a good and logical fit to fulfilling my personal mission to help make WordPress beautifully simpler. I knew that what we’d build would touch millions of sites and empower people all over the world to succeed online.

Q: Before GoDaddy came along, what was your plan in terms of growth and long-term sustainability?

Having run a successful theme shop for a number of years, I understood the importance of having a solid plan for growth and sustainability.

My plan for both CoBlocks and Block Gallery was to release top-tiered paid versions of each, with innovative tools, blocks and design systems. Those would have likely arrived in Q3 of 2019, as our focus for the first half of the year was to innovate and grow our user base. Now I hope to continue on that same development trajectory, adding many of those same features to the current plugins.

Q: What is your best advice for someone who is currently independent and wants to build a small business in the WordPress space today? What are the best lessons or advice you can provide?

First off, don’t let an opportunity get away from you. Learn to identify opportunities that you are perfectly suited to execute on, then dive right in. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and don’t be afraid to try something new. Learning how to learn and then taking that a step further by continuing to learn every single day, is a catalyst for enormous personal and professional growth. It’s not all about making cool stuff, it’s about challenging yourself to become the best version of yourself; the rest will fall into place.