Today, I’m thrilled to announce that WP101 is joining the Awesome Motive team under the leadership of my friend, Syed Balkhi.
It’s surreal to think back 14+ years ago when I released the first version of the WordPress 101 video tutorial series. I initially thought these WordPress tutorial videos would serve as a ‘leave-behind’ for my web design clients. I could never have foreseen that they would go on to help millions of people all around the world learn how to use WordPress to build their own websites.
I’m incredibly proud of what our small team has accomplished in the years since. We’ve not only made it easy for beginners to learn how to use WordPress but also enabled WordPress agencies and service providers to offer white-labeled, professional WordPress training videos to their clients via the WP101 Plugin.
Over the years, we expanded the library of training videos to include the most popular WordPress plugins, including WooCommerce, WPForms, Elementor, Beaver Builder, and many more.
Even after producing more than a thousand tutorial videos over the years, it made me smile when someone at a WordCamp would say, “Hey, I recognize your voice!” More than one person jokingly referred to me as the “Voice of WordPress.”
Still, keeping the WordPress 101 videos up to date with each and every release of WordPress has been a labor of love. And after updating the series more than 25 times, it became more than a little taxing. So it’s no wonder that this past year, I finally began to feel burned out. Several close friends even asked how I didn’t burn out much sooner!
Through my recovery, I’ve learned a couple of critical lessons. First, my greatest joy comes from knowing I’ve helped someone accomplish something they never thought possible. Perhaps no other moment better illustrates this than this photo sent to me from my friend, Mary Job, who used the WordPress 101 videos to teach a classroom of young women in Nigeria how to use WordPress so they could build their own businesses.
It’s humbling to think about how something as seemingly insignificant as a series of WordPress tutorial videos can have such a positive impact on someone’s life half a world away. That moment brought tears to my eyes.
The second lesson I’ve learned is best summarized by an African proverb frequently quoted by another great friend, Cory Miller.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Gradually, I’d come to the realization that I’d taken WP101 as far as I could as a one-person shop. I knew it was time for a change of leadership and the exponential strength that only a team like Awesome Motive could provide.
Who better to steward the future of WP101?
I’ve been friends with Syed Balkhi, the Founder of WPBeginner and CEO of Awesome Motive, for more than a decade. WP101 and WPBeginner started around the same time with a similar mission: making it easy for people to learn WordPress.
So I watched with great admiration as Syed grew WPBeginner to become the largest resource for easy-to-understand written tutorials for WordPress — while at WP101, our goal was to provide the best video training for WordPress. We’ve each described our relationship within the WordPress community as something beyond competition, perhaps better described as “co-opetition.”
Syed has gone on to curate and build a family of ‘best-in-class’ products and services for WordPress. I have tremendous respect for the incredible impact Syed’s had on the growth of the WordPress community and the vision that we share.
That’s why I’m confident there’s no one better suited to be the custodian of WP101 moving forward and to take this resource to the next level.
After 14+ years of creating WordPress training videos, I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to move on to the next chapter of my life. And it gives me great joy to know that Syed is committed to carrying the mission and legacy of WP101 forward.
With a transition like this come many questions, so let me take a moment to answer them.
Who is Awesome Motive?
Awesome Motive is a company started by Syed Balkhi of WPBeginner fame. Their mission is to help small businesses grow and compete with the big guys.
Even if you’ve never heard of Awesome Motive before now, you’ve likely seen or used some of their products—including WPForms, which we’ve introduced to you right here on this site.
They’re also behind some of the most popular plugins and resources in the WordPress space, including:
- WPBeginner – the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners.
- OptinMonster – popular conversion optimization software that helps you convert abandoning visitors into subscribers and customers.
- WPForms – the most beginner-friendly WordPress form builder.
- MonsterInsights – the most popular WordPress Analytics plugin that helps you grow your business with confidence.
- AIOSEO – the original WordPress SEO plugin to help you get more traffic.
- WP Mail SMTP – the #1 plugin that helps improve your WordPress email deliverability.
- SeedProd – drag & drop landing page builder for WordPress.
- RafflePress – powerful WordPress giveaway and contest plugin to grow your website traffic.
- Smash Balloon – the most popular social media feeds plugin for WordPress.
- PushEngage – leading web push notification software for small businesses.
- SearchWP – the most advanced WordPress search plugin.
- AffiliateWP – leading WordPress affiliate management plugin.
- Easy Digital Downloads – a leading eCommerce plugin for selling digital products.
- WP Simple Pay – a simple WordPress payment plugin that lets you accept online payments without creating a shopping cart.
- WPCode – the most popular code snippets plugin for WordPress.
- Sendlayer – powerful SMTP email delivery service for websites and apps.
- …and many more!
As I said, it’s an impressive collection of the absolute best products and services for WordPress. But what impresses me even more than these excellent products is the people who stand behind them.
Every company claims they care about their people and their customers. Since day one, I’ve gone to great lengths to provide the best customer care possible, which is why I’ve personally answered every single question in our WordPress help forum. The Awesome Motive team is equally committed to providing the same fanatical level of customer support. They get it.
That’s one of the biggest reasons I decided to pass the baton to Syed and the Awesome Motive team. I fully believe the best thing I can do for the growth of WP101 and our customers is to put it into the best hands in the market.
Okay, so what does this acquisition mean for existing users?
In short, you can expect more — and better. One of the biggest challenges I faced while running WP101 as a ‘solopreneur’ was being unable to scale. With each and every course I added came the added responsibility of maintaining that course, keeping it up to date with every major update. That’s a massive challenge for any one person.
To mitigate this challenge, I partnered with several incredibly talented WordPress educators like Carrie Dils and Dave Foy, who created several fantastic courses for WP101. I’ll be forever grateful for their willingness to invest their time and expertise in crafting excellent learning experiences for you, our WP101 members.
With this change of ownership, WP101 is now integrated into a larger family of products and companies, with access to an even larger pool of fantastic course creators, who you’ll meet soon.
You can expect new courses to appear on WP101 at a much more frequent pace. Awesome Motive will help WP101 grow better and faster than before, and you’ll see the positive effects of this right away.
What’s Coming Next?
I could not be more excited about Syed’s vision and passion for taking the best WordPress training videos into classrooms to help WordPress grow in the enterprise, government agencies, and — perhaps most significantly — the school and collegiate level, as part of the mission of the Balkhi Foundation.
WordPress is an open-source platform, and it has the power to transform the lives of so many people around the world. So, I’m excited about the future of WP101 as a training platform under Syed’s leadership, coupled with his vision to create even more opportunities to shape the future of the web for billions of people worldwide. Stay tuned!
On a personal note…
When I look back over the many years during which Kay and I have made lifelong friendships with so many incredible people in the WordPress community, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude.
I’m grateful for each and every interaction I’ve had with you—our customers—especially when we worked together to turn frustrating technical issues into an authentic, friendly, connective encounter.
I’m grateful for the wealth of counsel and timely advice that several of you have freely provided over the years, without which WP101 simply would not be what it is today. There’s not enough room in this post to list each of you here, but I look forward to thanking you in person. Suffice it to say… the WordPress community is truly like no other.
I’m also grateful for the opportunity my three kids have had to meet so many of you at the dozens of WordCamps we’ve attended as a family over the years. They’ve grown up hearing about WP101 and its role within the global WordPress community. And that’s a gift they’ll continue to enjoy for years to come, especially with Syed and the Awesome Motive team at the helm.
Finally, I’m grateful that WP101 has outgrown me. As a founder, I can’t think of a better legacy. And I’m incredibly grateful that my friend, Syed, has stepped in to become the custodian of WP101’s future. For my part, I’ll continue to provide support and training during this transition, and then I’ll continue to root for Syed and the Awesome Motive team from the sidelines.
I can’t wait to see what you all build together!
To your success,
It’s been awesome watching you do what you do, Shawn. I’m very happy for you to have found a way out of your burnout and onto your next chapter. Congratulations and best of luck to you for whatever the future holds for you.
Chris Badgett says
Shawn and WP101 have been a pillar in the WordPress education space. So great to see the WP101 legacy carry on into the next chapter with Awesomotive. WordPress is software, but it’s also a way of thinking. Education is a big part of WordPress, and WP101 has helped so many people find website success and join the community.
Manesh Timilsina says
Congratulations Shawn and the entire WP101 team. I hope WP101 will grow and shire more under the Awesome Motive team.