Hello, I’m Brian Gardner, and I’m glad you are here.
Authentik is a newsletter designed to help creatives build an honest brand. Each week I will share what I have learned as the founder of StudioPress, creator of No Sidebar, and successful entrepreneur in the WordPress market.
In 2006, I was working for an architectural firm as a project manager. I had a good job, but it wasn’t a great job. There was no path within that company which would have made me happy.
Before I started blogging, a friend recommended that I check out WordPress. Very quickly, I fell in love and enjoyed the community that came with it. I downloaded a free theme, hacked away, and customized my blog.
Over the next few months, I started writing about my experiences with WordPress—building an audience around folks who were interested in what I had learned. Plus, they were downloading themes that I designed to boot.
I began moonlighting as a “freelancer” by customizing the themes I had freely available to download on my blog. A few hundred bucks a week was good spending cash, so I was living the dream, right? Meh, not really.
While it was great to have some extra money for vacations, what I wanted was to be one of those “internet people” I saw working from coffee shops.
The Accidental Entrepreneur
Life was going alright until I landed a gig with a real estate agent from Boston. I worked up a beautiful design for him—one that I was particularly proud of—because it was more than just a “blog” theme.
I sent it off for him to look at, and after a few days, he got back to me. Rejected.
Ironically, it wasn’t the design he didn’t approve of; it was the fact that I had created a custom homepage for him—something that resembled more of a full website look, rather than just a blog.
So I went back to the drawing board and came up with something more straightforward, which he approved of, paid for, and used happily.
I was left with something I thought was amazing, and was borderline depressed. I thought I was going to be stuck with this “masterpiece” I had created, but then I had an idea: ask if my audience would be interested in buying it.
The WordPress Revolution
A couple of days went by before I had the time to do it, but I finally penned the blog post that would forever change my life—“How Much Would You Pay for a Premium WordPress Theme?”
I took the rejected design I did for the Boston real estate agent and turned it into the Revolution theme for WordPress. I made $10,000, $20,000, $40,000, and $80,000 respectively the first four months. I was in shock and told my wife Shelly that it was “financially irresponsible” for me to stay at my day job.
Some days I feel as though it was pure happenstance—that it was merely a stroke of luck and I was in the right place at the right time. Other days, I embrace the fact that I was smart enough to seize the opportunity which presented itself in front of me.
It’s been nearly ten years since I took the leap of faith and became a creative entrepreneur. I can assure you it hasn’t always been easy, but not a day goes by that I regret my decision—trust me, it is worth the risk.
Control Your Own Destiny
If “living the dream” is your end game, my free newsletter will help get you there. Each week I will share what I have learned as the founder of StudioPress, creator of No Sidebar, and successful entrepreneur in the WordPress market.
Just drop your email address below, and let’s enjoy this journey together.