Intro to John Wierenga
My name is John Wierenga. I am a digital marketer and project manager. I have done everything from social media marketing, email marketing campaigns, Joomla web site development, but primarily I do WordPress development, maintenance and search engine optimization (SEO) for micro to small businesses.
I am married with 2 sons. My family keeps me very busy. My oldest son loves playing basketball and throwing the football around. My youngest also loves playing catch and is way faster then a 2 year old should ever be.
I love competition and want to raise driven winners. But coaching of any type should be positive, an encouraging word doesn’t cost anything. I ensure my son goes out and practices basketball at home on top of his regular practices and love to see him compete. But only when he is enjoying the relentless pursuit of perfection.
Besides my full time job I also manage about 12 websites for my own personal clients and spend quite a bit of time doing professional development, I’m always trying to improve myself and learn new things. However I do take my family fishing and LOVE playing darts, I’m currently a 65 average and think in a few months I will be as good as any dart player in the West Michigan area.
I have worn quite a few hats in my digital marketing career. I have owned my own digital marketing company, done some freelance on the side, been the first full time employee in a company’s history, and worked for a small agency that ended up merging with another small agency. One of the few things that all of my digital jobs have had in common is that they had small teams that required flexibility and the ability to learn and adapt. Nobody can sleep walk in these positions.
In more or less chronological order, I will highlight a few of the areas I have worked in:
As more of a big picture visionary then a nuts and bolts guy, it’s hard to believe sometimes. But I did got to college for web development. As a kid I used to develop websites in html using Notepad, when I took my first job in this field I was a part time 1099 Joomla developer. I had never even hear of Joomla until they gave me an interview making edits on a test site. But I studied over the weekend and ended up turning that part time gig into my first full time job in the industry.
At which point the company promptly switched all new projects to WordPress and I had to quickly learn that. Fortunately for me, WordPress has the biggest market share of any content management system (CMS) and unlike the quick pivot I had to do a year after learning about Joomla I have gone on to work on thousands of WordPress websites.
If it’s WordPress related I have probably done it… But some of the WordPress areas that really interests me and I have tried to separate myself from the pack with my abilities are:
WordPress Speed Optimization
People don’t like slow websites, doesn’t matter if it looks good enough to be in an art museum and has copy written by Don Drapper. If it doesn’t load fast then people are going to click the back button and use a different website. This makes website performance a critical issue. Lucky for me it’s a development related task I don’t mind doing.
There are so many digital marketing tasks that subjective. I might love a certain design, or copy but someone else doesn’t and without extensive A/B testing then it’s just an agree to disagree subject. But site speed is a little more concrete and I love being able to use the stats as evidence of my work.
I think it’s also an under valued skill. Having worked with small teams I have often competed with 1 or 2 people operations. These little mom and pop firms come in all variety’s. But I would say the most common I run up against are the graphic designers who can often design a pretty project but have no development skills. Most of their projects will have glaring performance issues that render their websites unusable and prevents most visitors from staying around long enough to become customers.
Another development area that I have had to have an unfortunate amount of experience in is website security. I have had to clean up the mess of a hacked website several times and it’s not fun.
Cleaning up these messes has also inspired me to learn how to prevent WordPress websites from being hacked. Like they say: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
WordPress Theme Development
I have started developing my own WordPress theme, several times actually. Due to other projects I have been unable to complete one yet… I did get fairly far into one last year and hope to complete it sometime before summer of 2021.
My first position was with a company that had a sales person, in fact that was about the only thing the boss could do. I learned pretty quick I could manage a team and create great websites, but was a little unsure on my sales skills. But even as I was in this role I started doing some work on the side and quickly had some sales.
Eventually my side work became my full time job and sales became a huge aspect of my day to day life. If I don’t sell a website to build then I don’t have any income. I have never worked exclusively in sales and don’t have the experience of sales person who does this full time. But I do enjoy the thrill of the hunt and have come up with a few strategies that have helped me figure out how to sell web development and digital marketing projects.
Digital Project Management
I have always been a take charge guy. As the oldest of 8 kids I didn’t have a choice growing up. Even starting out as a young web developer I often had to take a far bigger role managing the designer, intern and office administrator. Later I transitioned to a regular project manager, often overseeing a far more experienced web developer then I ever want to be. Developing a strategy and implementing a winning plan is probably the most natural job I have ever had.
It’s also one of the positions that interests me the most. I have spent a lot of time studying both project management and business management, especially in the digital marketing field.
Search Engine Optimization
As someone who has had to build something from nothing, a few times…. I have had to get my hands dirty, digital speaking, a few times. While often this has meant moonlighting as a developer, if I had to pick I would say that search engine optimization (SEO) is probably my favorite non leadership work.
Even without a team to lead there is a ton of strategic thinking and the competitive drive to climbing the (Google) rankings. There is also the element of having concrete stats to back your work up with.
I have done everything from writing content, to keyword research, to link building. but my favorite aspect of SEO is Technical SEO for WordPress websites.
Frequently Asked Questions about John
What services do you offer?
At the moment I am primarily focused on designing and developing WordPress websites and the subsequent digital marketing of these websites primarily through search engine optimization (seo), and conversion rate optimization (ctr).
Are you a freelancer?
I have done freelance work and even owned my own digital marketing LLC in the past. But currently I do digital marketing work full time for an IT company called SCS Grand Rapids that offers small business IT primarily in the greater Grand Rapids Michigan area
How long have you been doing this work?
I started working on my own websites roughly around the year 2000, so about 20 years.
What are your digital marketing qualifications?
Degree in web development.