I started working for Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) on June 10, 2014 after a lightning fast Twitter DM conversation with Pippin. Completely unexpected, he asked me if I would be willing to join the support crew at EDD and he’d understand if I wasn’t willing to. “Shit, man… hell yea I’m willing to!” I said something like that.
I’ve been a fan of EDD since I started using it to sell Volatyl back in March of 2013. I’m not sure if it was the software itself, the lucrative business model, or its extensibility. All I know is EDD kind of took over my development world to the point where I started integrating my own software with it.
Now here we are, 50 days into working with the EDD crew and I want to talk about it… mainly because I haven’t written a thing for myself since the day I started. So let’s get to it.
What Do I Do There?
For the first two weeks, that was my main question. Sure, I was hired to work in the support forums. That’s a given. But something told me very early on that there was way more opportunity than that.
You see, a few days after joining the crew and maybe about 100 support tickets in, I started to feel this overwhelming pressure on my shoulders. It wasn’t because of Pippin or any of the other crew members, though. It was because of the crew structure.
Everyone has the freedom to do everything. If you want to build an extension to sell on the EDD site, you build it. If you want to fix bugs, you fix them. If you want to handle support tickets in the forums, you handle them. As long as you take care of what’s expected of you, you’re pretty much free to be as generous to the EDD ecosystem as you’d like.
I felt like a kid in a candy store. I still do, actually. Here’s the problem, though… this new world around me exposes me to a new side of myself. It’s a side that I’m learning to become familiar with and it’s going to take a little time.
So to answer my own question, what I do is help EDD continue to grow as a popular WordPress software and as a business. How I do that is a completely different subject.
My Experiences So Far
Have you ever been asked a question that you didn’t know the answer to while being stared down by an authority figure who expects you to know the answer while they hold a loudly ticking stop watch that’s going to buzz your socks off when the time runs out?
I haven’t either. That’s how it felt for the first few weeks, though.
I made up in my own head what was an easy ticket and what was a hard one. Here’s the problem, though. I wasn’t prepared to gauge the difficulty of tickets. To me, easy meant “Pippin probably thinks I know this already.” Hard meant “There’s no way Pippin expects me to know this.”
In reality, Pippin would be off recording an episode of Apply Filters somewhere and expecting me to just ask for help when I needed it.
I was in my own head complicating things. That’s no good.
It took about a month before I started to understand how adding value works. Some value comes now. Some value comes later. But the main things to do through it all are to learn and grow. I’m there now… 50 days in.
How Dedicated Can I Be?
A self vs. self battle I never expected to have is all in my face these last two weeks or so. I’m faced with opportunities that contradict my original “plans” as a WordPress software developer… I think.
That’s the problem, I’m unsure of how to proceed because my values system (in this context) is changing. Here’s why.
The Volatyl Framework was my first WordPress project ever. I like it. It’s cool. I will never convert it to anything more than what it is right now, though. If that was something I’d be willing to do, I would have done it by now. By the way, Volatyl for EDD has earned more than double what basic Volatyl has.
Build WP Yourself is my second-in-line project, though it’s my favorite at the moment. My main goal there was to be able to teach what I know. I also built quite a few WordPress themes and plugins to release there. Some of my downloads are free and some are paid. The most popular download (by far) is Underscores for Easy Digital Downloads.
That says a lot. It’s something I have to pay close attention to… and I am.
All of my personal projects have been neglected since I’ve been at EDD. However, all of my personal projects have some degree of dedication to EDD. In fact, even before I started working for EDD, my EDD-specific products dominated in sales and downloads.
That’s relative, though. I’ve never created anything that developed a large user base. I have popular items but nothing spectacular. Well, here’s the self vs. self I’m faced with. Do I:
…keep my dealings with EDD in their place and dedicate more time to building my solo business?
…dedicate more time to EDD and prepare my EDD-specific products for a new home where I’m starting to think they belong?
The second option is the most logical. The first one pulls my pride strings. I ask myself all these questions every single day now:
If I were to dedicate myself and my future in WordPress primarily to EDD, am I actually giving something up?
Will my EDD products better serve the EDD community if I release them from EDD itself instead of my own sites? Second to that, will that earn us more money?
If I decide not to fully dedicate myself to EDD, will the value I add to the crew be so little that one day I’d be replaced or overshadowed by someone else?
I think about these things every day. Honestly, the answer is simple considering there are no restrictions on what I can build and where I can release it. So I will always have my freedom. These unexpected opportunities definitely shake things up a bit, though.
Fact vs. Fiction
The reality is I’m a thinker. In some situations, it keeps me out of unnecessary trouble. In other situations, it causes me to worry and sometimes fall into a state of analysis paralysis. I think this is the latter situation.
In our private chat area, I’ve started to talk with Pippin one on one instead of the group chat that all the team members have access to. I’ve found that we don’t share the same worries. While I’m trying to keep my hours low so he doesn’t have to pay me as much, he’s telling me that more hours are available. While I’m thinking that I was only needed for a little help with support, he’s 100% open to themes, extensions, and anything else I can add to the EDD arsenal.
There’s a disconnect and it’s all because I’m doing too much worrying and not enough communicating. That’s about to change.
Stats and Conclusion
Just for the hell of it, here’s what I’ve done so far in my first 50 days. Keep in mind that I was asked to join the crew as part-time support staff.
- 50 days as a member of the crew.
- 170 hours clocked. That’s 3.4 hours per day, 23.8 hours per week.
- 1196 ticket replies. That’s roughly 24 replies per day which in this context is about 7 replies an hour.
That’s light… not very intense at all. I’d say one out of every three or four replies in support tickets is about something I haven’t been exposed to. With so many extensions for EDD, there’s a lot to learn. So in these early days, I do a lot of learning right along with the customers.
I plan to pick up the pace in the very near future as I start to accept the fact that I’m actually part of the crew and no longer just a fan of the software.
I also have to get out of my own head so I can let other things in there… like theme development (wide open market), plugin/extension development (that’s my growth), and much more. The door is wide open. Now that I’m starting to understand what’s on the other side, I’m just about ready to walk through.
If you made it this far into my ramble session, I have to ask what the hell you’re doing with your life. 🙂 Thanks for reading, though. Leave a comment below if you’ve been here before, have any advice, or just want to harass me.