At Jetpack, our team members are usually busy tinkering under the hood to make sure everything is humming along and our customers are satisfied — but we interrupted one of them for an inside look at Jetpack and some valuable tips and tricks.
Meet Jeremy, a Happiness Engineer turned Jetpack Mechanic.
He first dipped his toes into the WordPress pond as a student. Experiencing a serious case of culture shock while living abroad in the Netherlands, the biology major started a WordPress blog from his dorm room to keep his friends and family up to date and eventually began contributing to the WordPress support forums.
Jeremy’s selflessness is readily apparent from the first moment you meet him. He embodies the community that WordPress is all about. Current Jetpack users will recognize him as the author of many articles explaining the latest Jetpack releases and updates. Here’s how he turned his hobby and desire to help others into a career.
Q. Tell us how you started working with WordPress.
Jeremy: I started as a blogger with a lot of questions, so I posted them to the WordPress forums. When I got stuck on a problem, I was amazed by how helpful everyone was, and I really came to value the community support.
As I got to know WordPress more and more, I began contributing to the forums myself. Since other people donated their time to help me, I wanted to help others with the issues they encountered.
Q. How did you end up working for Jetpack?
I was incredibly lucky. I had no idea it was going to happen and would never have applied since I’m completely self-taught. It all happened over a beer, believe it or not.
I was living in Budapest, Hungary, and I saw on Twitter that Automattic was holding a unique, “meet and greet Automatticians” event in my city. Tons of people I admired were going to be there, so, obviously, I went.
I didn’t go with any intentions or agendas — I just wanted to chat with people. And someone said, “You would fit right in at this company. See that person having a beer? That person would be your boss. Why don’t you go over there and have your first interview?”
That’s how I started on the path to becoming a Happiness Engineer.
Q. What does ‘Happiness Engineering’ mean?
My opinion is that it’s not just support. It’s taking on a friendly mindset that goes beyond the typical, scripted responses you get when you contact most companies.
Happiness is more human-friendly — it means using not just your knowledge, but also your humanity, to make another person’s day. That also means not trying to keep a customer at all costs, but giving them the best solution, whether that’s Jetpack or not.
Q. Is there one person you helped over the years that stands out in your memory?
That would be Marguerite, a French woman who came to us years ago with basic questions. She’s a writer and wanted to share her poems on a blog.
Marguerite didn’t speak any English and no one around her was tech-savvy enough to help. She was alone with her computer trying to figure things out as she went along.
At the time, I was the only one on the team who spoke French, so I became her go-to guy. It was very rewarding to help her understand the product a little bit better and connect with her community of French poets.
Q. How did you transition from Happiness Engineer to Jetpack Mechanic?
I got a lot of satisfaction out of helping people as a Happiness Engineer. I tried to go above and beyond and do things like adding code snippets to some of my replies to help people make customizations.
Like any other member of the community, I started contributing more and more until I realized that’s what I wanted to do. When I saw an available position, I had to apply just like anyone else. Being a Happiness Engineer didn’t get me any preference when it came to the selection process, but it did give me the chance to grow my skills.
Q. What is something you wish people knew about Jetpack?
Some confusion arises when site owners don’t know how to set up, configure, and transfer a Jetpack site to someone else, so they end up turning away from Jetpack. I think we could do a better job of explaining this process — it’s as simple as a transfer button!
Q. What is the most common question you’re asked about Jetpack?
Not surprisingly, “What does Jetpack do?” It sounds like a very easy question, but a plugin like Jetpack does so much that I find the best way to respond to that is with another question, “What are your needs and goals?”
I start with a few features that are useful to almost everyone. The first is a big one — the image content delivery network, or CDN. It relies on the WordPress.com cloud and is a free Jetpack feature that most other solutions charge for. This is useful for everyone, no matter what kind of site they have.
I also like to highlight the free stats feature. Google Analytics, of course, has statistics for your site, but it often becomes too complicated and you can feel overwhelmed. Jetpack stats are a lot more to the point, so you can get the data you need right away. This is also something that I think anyone who has a website would benefit from.
Finally, I mention Related Posts, which displays three suggested posts at the bottom of each of your blog posts that are related to what your visitor was reading. This is important because it helps reduce bounce rate and keep visitors on your site longer.
There are a lot of plugins for WordPress that offer this, but few do it as well as us. We don’t just look at tags or categories; we actually index and look at the whole post and analyze all of your site’s content to give you truly related posts. They’re all served from the WordPress.com cloud so site speed isn’t affected. Most of the other available options either hurt your site’s performance, or give suggestions that aren’t very relevant.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who is new to Jetpack and what advice you would give to a Jetpack pro?
I would say the same thing whether you know Jetpack well or are completely new to it — it’s a powerful plugin and there’s always something to learn.
To someone who just started, I would say jump in, explore, and toggle options on and off. To someone who’s experienced, I would say that a feature might look simple, but if you dig deeper, you’ll discover it can be customized to fit very specific needs.
Q. What do you think is the most helpful page on the Jetpack site?
The pricing page, but not because I want to sell you something.
It’s one of the most useful pages because it has one big table with a link to every feature — you can see everything all at once. It’s the forest, not the trees.
Q. Is there anything from your job that has seeped into your personal life?
My whole family finds it very weird that I still use WordPress to share pictures of my two young kids. They all ask, “Why aren’t you sharing pictures of your kids on Facebook or Whatsapp or Telegram?”
I tell them it’s mostly because I want to own my content. Also, a WordPress blog lets you archive and quantify everything. If I want to check in five years from now and see what pictures I posted on a certain day, I can do that very easily. And if I want to delete something, I can do it quickly. No one else is in control of my content.
Q. What do you love about your job on a personal level?
I work from home and define my own schedule. I can spend two hours in the middle of the day picking up my daughters from school or taking a bike ride if the weather’s nice.
I also love that there are new challenges every day. Nothing is off-limits. If I find a problem I want to work on, I can tackle it. I have my own to-do list of things that I want to improve, so I’m always learning.