HelpCenter Shutting Down, Crowd Favorite is Hiring

WordPress HelpCenter will be ceasing operations on February 28th. Between now and then we will be working with existing customers to wrap up all of our committed projects, but we will not be taking on any new projects. For customers that purchased WPHC support for the Carrington Business theme, we have created a special premium support offering through Crowd Favorite to fulfill your support needs from March 1 forward.1

WordPress HelpCenter is shutting down Feb 28th

That’s the summary, here are the details.

This was a really tough decision for me. When I created the HelpCenter I had a couple of goals for it:

  1. Provide a support and quick-turn development service to the WordPress community that I think it desperately needs.
  2. Provide relief for plugin and theme developers that don’t wish to offer support, and give their users a good resource for support when they need assistance.

I never expected it to be a very profitable service due to the nature of the work we were targeting, but I thought it would fill a significant need.

Unfortunately we were not able to get the traction with developers that I was hoping for. Part of that may have been due to the $1 payout amount, so we were planning to increase that to 10% and created a set of tools to make it really easy for developers to include in their plugins. We never made this change or released these tools because their readiness coincided with the culmination of feedback from the community that commercial support for free plugins and themes just wasn’t something they were willing to pay for.

When we initially started the service, we did so as a partnership with another hosting and development company. Unfortunately, didn’t work out as I’d hoped and we brought it in-house and hired full time staff to help it grow. Since then we had as many as 4 full time staff on board.

Hiring for WPHC was extremely difficult. We needed generalists that knew WordPress very well, that were also personable and comfortable talking with customers. It’s a hard combination to find, and harder still to find at a salary range that the WPHC projects could support. Ultimately many of them left, tired of dealing with the fraction of our customers that were rude and unpleasant.

My experience building businesses is to grow them organically. This has worked well for Crowd Favorite and BackupMoxie, and is working nicely for CloudMoxie; however it didn’t work well for WPHC.

In retrospect (and as advice for the next person who decides to create a service like this), a different approach would have probably worked much better. I would recommend getting funding in place so that you can hire and do internal training, then come to market with a 5-6 person team (with dedicated sales and project management roles) in place from the start. Then it’s just a matter of providing great service and doing smart marketing to generate revenue. I would also recommend including a training offering, as that seems to be a service many people find valuable.

I still think the concept of the WPHC is an important one for the WordPress community, and a service that is very much needed now that WordPress has made the transition from Open Source project to a product that many folks (who do not consider themselves technical) rely on and use on a daily basis. I hope that next foray into this space is more successful.

At the same time, Crowd Favorite is flourishing nicely. We’ve got a number of open positions right now, including spots for interns and more experienced developers.

  1. You will receive an email about this shortly. [back]

This post is part of the project: WP HelpCenter. View the project timeline for more context on this post.