FreshySites — a leading US-based WordPress design agency — uses Jetpack for the 1,000+ sites they actively manage. And thanks to the ways Jetpack helps them improve operational efficiency and customer service, they do it with a single person instead of the multi-person team it would normally take.
Ben, the Founder; Kelsey, Operations Manager; and Erin, Director of Support Services — the first three employees (shown above from left to right) when the company was just a startup operating out of Ben’s basement — spoke to us about how they used Jetpack as they scaled to 17 employees and why Jetpack Backup is such a critical piece of their toolset.
Q. How did FreshySites start?
Ben: We’re a WordPress web design and development company that started in 2011 out of my house in Binghamton, New York. Now, we’re one of the bigger WordPress agencies around. Kelsey was the first full-time hire, then Erin. Binghamton is a small, community-oriented town and a lot of us on the team went to high school together. I was a grade ahead of our creative director but knew his older sister well. We evolved together and grew with the industry.
Q. What’s been the key to your growth?
Ben: Our operations are pretty tight. We spent eight years working through templates, proposals, scopes, and automations — everything has a defined process. We’re a well-tuned machine on the operations side, which allows us to spend more time delivering the creative product. Many design firms are struggling, but that’s how we’ve been able to sustain and grow our company. I would put us up against any other web agency in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.
Kelsey: We’re a close-knit team and, over the years, we’ve fine-tuned our workflow. We’re all super productive, everyone’s good at their job, and we get things through the pipeline quickly. There’s no dead weight.
Ben: Most of our growth has been organic. We’ve built about 1,900 sites and actively manage around 1,200. We’ve also had a number of clients go through the process several times. Some clients want to remake their site every few years or develop sites for new brands, which we love to see.
Q. What role has Jetpack played in FreshySite’s growth?
Ben: Jetpack really came into play when we hit 800 sites. We knew we couldn’t spend a ton of person-hours watching each one individually, so we needed an economic, effective solution to help us scale while remaining profitable. I did an extensive cost analysis of the functionality we needed — security, plugin and core updates, management tools, etc. — and priced out each piece. Then, we spent eight months trying to recreate all of those features by integrating third-party tools. It was a really strong toolset, but we found that the most expensive thing we neglected to factor into the calculation was the person power needed. It took several full-time employees, which wasn’t going to be sustainable.
Q. Uh-oh! Then what did you do?
Ben: I knew we needed an infrastructure that allowed for business continuity for our clients. I needed to know that all the security features, real-time monitoring, backups, and other protections were included. That, for me, was huge because there was no other possible way to scale our company and be able to sleep at night.
We reevaluated and looked at managed providers. At the end of the day, we moved to Pressable, which has a partnership with Jetpack. In that process, we were able to replace every third-party tool with just a single one — Jetpack. I think that’s pretty amazing. It rolled everything we needed together into something much more manageable, which was the biggest selling point for us.
Q. Which of Jetpack’s features do you value the most?
Erin: The tool we use the most is Jetpack Backup, which allows us to automatically back up all of our client sites in real time. It’s our fallback. If a mistake is made, we can revert back to the point just before it happened.
Ben: Our developers use backups all the time. It’s a one-click way to return to where we were before things got wonky. It gives us a little emergency parachute needed during development. If we’re working on a customization that breaks everything, we lose minutes, not hours.
Before Jetpack, we made manual backups before major installs of new components. Now, we don’t have to worry about that. Over hundreds of sites, the time saved adds up to a significant financial value for our team.
Q. How has Jetpack Activity helped with client relationships?
Erin: If a client has an issue, Activity lets us see what actions were taken on the site and determine the cause. We can see if someone deleted a plugin or edited a line of code that broke something.
Kelsey: I just did that with a brand new site that went down. I was able to tell the client what happened and which team member took the action. I shared a screenshot of Jetpack Activity with them, which allowed them to understand the effects their actions had on their website.
Ben: It’s incredibly valuable. When you’re talking about projects that cost tens of thousands of dollars and a client just torpedoes it, they often point fingers. We can easily show them exactly what really happened.
Q. Are there other ways that Jetpack helps your business?
Erin: Recently, we’ve been using Stats. By default, we don’t add any analytics software to our sites. But sometimes, clients come to us and want to know the number of visitors on a specific page or post. Even if they never installed anything else on their site, we’re able to tell them that information because we have Stats automatically installed.
Kelsey: I use Jetpack Backup for migrations. If a client isn’t hosting with us, we sometimes have to save a backup of the site to move it. I can download a ZIP file right from our dashboard.
Erin: We archive every new site after completion, and again if they want to stop hosting with us or go out of business, just in case they return. This used to be a long, manual process that took a ton of time. Now, we can just download the most recent version of the site, which cuts down the time significantly. It’s saved us thousands of hours.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your experience working with Happiness Engineers?
Erin: We initially interacted with Jetpack support while familiarizing ourselves with all of the features. It was a learning curve for all of us, but we noticed that the Happiness Team went above and beyond our initial requests. They provided detailed explanations when something happened, and advised us on how to better prevent the issue moving forward. We learned so much from them that we don’t have to reach out as often now.
We’ve always had great experiences reaching out to support. In fact, we’ve had nothing but good experiences on our end.
Q. From a sales and marketing point of view, has Jetpack been beneficial?
Ben: It’s a selling point to be able to say to a client, “I have a tool built by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. These are the same guys that build and manage WordPress core, so you don’t have to worry about the legitimacy or quality of code you’re putting on your site.” That’s massive!
When pitching our services, we can list off so many things that the client is going to benefit from — all of the features of Jetpack. We don’t even need to repackage it. We can just use, verbatim, the features page of the Jetpack site.
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