Four years at GoDaddy

I hit the four-year milestone at GoDaddy this month. This is the longest I’ve worked at any company, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

I love helping local small businesses. It started in college, with projects about local economic development. It continued after graduation with my freelance and volunteer work.

But GoDaddy wasn’t looking for a small business advocate when I joined. They were looking for a community manager.

So let me back up here.

My early beginnings with forums & fansites

Forums and fansites were a hobby of mine going back to the late 90’s and early 00’s. ezBoard (which became Yuku, later acquired by Tapatalk) was my first “social network”.

From there I found my way to self-hosted gaming forums. After being a member for a while I volunteered my time as a moderator, then as an administrator. I learned about mediating conflicts, dealing with trolls, and managing community software.

I also worked on the gaming sites that the forums were part of. I reported on breaking news & fan gossip. I wrote opinion pieces, contributed to guides, and edited work from other contributors. I even collaborated and formed partnerships with other sites.

It was all a distributed team effort. I worked alongside other people from around the world: the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, South Africa, Germany. It was great.

None of us were paid for the work. We did it because we enjoyed it. Whatever money we made through Google AdSense helped cover the cost of our web servers.

This went on through high school and college and into the first few years of my career. It wasn’t wasted time — I learned so much about the web, about building & managing websites, and about working with people remotely.

Building websites

My experience with web development started in the late 90’s. My family bought our first PC in 98 or 99 and the internet came with it. I quickly learned how to cobble together little websites via MaxPages (RIP).

That wasn’t enough for me, though. Being the keener that I am, I volunteered at our school library and offered to build our school’s first webpage in Netscape Composer.

I changed schools after my parents split, so I made nice with my new school’s librarian and built their website, too.

While in high school, I learned about web hosting, domains, FTP, and cPanel. I bought a .com address and a cheap shared hosting plan. That gave me a wide-open playground to start dabbling in some code.

So, while I was volunteering on the gaming forums and fansites, I was teaching myself, playing with CMSes and forums and blogging platforms.

Some that come to mind: Coranto, Cute News, PHP News. vBulletin, Ikonboard, Invision, UBB, SMF, MyBB. PHP Nuke, Mambo, Pivotal, Greymatter, TextPattern, and WordPress.

Discovering WordPress

I attended St. Lawrence College for their Advertising program. In 2008, one of my instructors convinced me to use WordPress and ignore everything else. I followed his advice and went deep on WP.

I graduated in 2009 in the thick of the recession. The ad industry was in shambles. Nobody cared that I knew about the marketing mix, ad campaigns, or print & broadcast media.

They did care that I knew how to build websites. All the tech skills I had picked up through my hobbies — HTML, CSS, SEO, WordPress — were in demand. That got me my first job as an SEO Specialist.

Hosting WordPress meetups & WordCamps

My second job brought me to Toronto. It was in 2010 and a local IT company hired me to take over their website. (I flipped it to WordPress, of course.)

I didn’t know anyone in Toronto, so I joined the local WordPress meetup group to meet more people. (Same reason I joined Kingston’s Limestone New Media Group after graduating. RIP, @LNMG.)

In 2011, plans for WordCamp Toronto fell through. So the meetup group organizers stepped in to save it. They asked for volunteers and I raised my hand.

WordCamp Toronto 2011 was a hit and I enjoyed the work that went into it. So I joined the meetup organizing team. WPToronto grew through the following years and we went on to host a WordCamp every year since.

Those meetups felt like an offline transition from the forums I had worked on, and they had a nice networking effect — every job I’ve had since joining WPToronto, whether full-time or freelance, came through the community.

Which brings me to GoDaddy.

Community Manager, GoDaddy Pro

In middle of 2015 a former colleague asked if I’d like to chat with someone from GoDaddy. I was working for a B2B marketing agency at the time and was pretty happy with where I was. (And I wasn’t a fan of GoDaddy.)

I’m thankful that my girlfriend — now wife — persuaded me to hear them out.

The GoDaddy pitch went like this:

GoDaddy had launched a new partner program called GoDaddy Pro. It was for web designers & developers who work with small businesses, i.e. exactly the type of work I had done for six years.

The program needed a community manager. They wanted someone who knew the dynamics of online and offline groups. Again, the type of work I’d done for years, albeit as a hobby.

Pretty good so far, right?

What sold me on the role was that the GoDaddy I got to know through my interviews was very different from what I expected.

The team was passionate about their work and cared about their customers. They acknowledged the problems of the past, but focused on doing better in the future. We were all on the same page and shared a vision.

I joined in September 2015. Within a few months we had launched the GoDaddy Community forums. Our GoDaddy Pro members were a big part of that, and they continue to be active contributors today.

Content Marketing & the GoDaddy Blog

My role shifted from community management to content marketing in mid-2016. I started working on the WordPress-powered GoDaddy Blog (aka The Garage), taking on technical content strategy and a mishmash of WordPress admin duties.

That’s been my main focus since then: content planning, publishing, and performance. It’s everything I’d ever done as a hobby, rolled up into a full-time position that felt like a pipe dream ten years ago.

TL;DR = No complaints.

What’s on the horizon?

The GoDaddy Pro program is going through a major refresh right now. I’m excited to step back into community work as part of that, while continuing my work on the GoDaddy Blog.

You’ll see me at more WordCamps and meetups, including WP Durham here at home, as an attendee and (hopefully!) as a speaker.

I’ll be more active on social media, particularly on Twitter and in Facebook groups. And if things go well, I may even get into some video and audio production again.

A big thanks to my colleagues on the GoDaddy Blog, GoDaddy Pro, and Hosting teams. It’s a treat working with you all.

Here’s to another four years…!

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