Friends in tech: Brian Jackson

Co-Founder

Brian Jackson

Company

forgemedia LLC

Industry

WordPress

Time in this Industry

11+ Years

Origin Story

My background is in IT support. If you’ve got a computer problem, I can probably fix it. But after a decade into that career, I knew I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. Waking up at midnight to run down to the office to fix a broken VPN or troubleshoot a struggling old Exchange server isn’t fun.

During that period, I had already been blogging and dabbling with WordPress and marketing as side-jobs. I even got a Microsoft MVP award for all the blog posts I wrote about fixing various IT problems. So I decided to take a leap of faith and go in that direction full-time. I got a marketing job at a local company doing advertising, including SEO, content creation, and PPC.

Over the years, I slowly moved even more towards solely content creation and working even closer with WordPress, where I discovered my real passion lay. I went from KeyCDN to Kinsta and then branched out to do my own thing with my brother, Brett (also a full-time WordPress developer), after having a little burnout.

Word of warning! Always prioritize your health and schedule some free time if you have to. A job is just a job, after all. It’s OK to love it, but our bodies can only take so much physically. Therefore, it’s essential to find a good balance between work and enjoying life. Being an entrepreneur, this is one area of my life where I’ve always struggled. And to this day, it’s still a learning process.

Brett and I started forgemedia LLC with one WordPress plugin and a blog, and the rest is history. We now have three WordPress plugins we develop (including Perfmatters, Novashare, and WP Coupons), and I actively try to create content on our marketing blog, woorkup, whenever I have a chance. 

We both love WordPress, and the community is incredible! We really can say that it has changed our lives, and we’re thankful every day that we get to work on something we both enjoy doing.

Favorite Plugins or Themes

Anyone who follows my blog or social media knows that I’m a huge fan of the GeneratePress theme, along with the GenerateBlocks plugin. I use this combination on every site I run. It’s 10x lighter than a page builder, and with blocks now, you can pretty much design anything you can imagine. 

I also really like the Code Snippets plugin and Yoast SEO. Query Monitor, User Switching, and Temporary Login without Password also come in handy when troubleshooting and working with clients. 

How has COVID had an effect?

Yes, COVID had a positive impact on our business. I had no idea that when I left Kinsta, a pandemic was looming. We were fortunate, though; it meant more people were working from home using WordPress and buying plugins.

A Typical Day

My typical day involves waking up and going to grab a coffee first thing. I find working from home, this is a great habit to make sure I shower, get dressed, brush my teeth, etc. All things you might put off if you just head straight to your computer. It’s easy to get distracted, and then suddenly half the day is gone, and you’re still sitting in your PJs. 

When I sit down at my computer, I usually check to see how stocks are doing and then head straight into my email. The first thing my brother and I tackle every day is customer support tickets. 

After cleaning up the tickets, I check social media and my Feedly to quickly check up on any news for the day, including newsletters that I port into Feedly. If something interesting has happened, I’ll share it on social media. 

I then head to my Trello board and start working on the tasks I have in the queue. This is where I’ll begin to write content (blog, documentation, etc.) or chat with Brett via Slack or Skype regarding plugin development and features we’re working on. Those two tasks alone usually take me to the end of the day, and then I repeat the next day again. I’ve never had a problem with knowing what to do; it always comes down to a matter of not having enough time.

Current Workspace

My current workstation involves a 13” Macbook Pro (M1) and a 27” LG 5K Ultrafine monitor. I dabbled with a Mac Mini for a while but found my life was just easier using my Macbook for everything. I can quickly bounce between my patio, a coffee shop, or desk, and I’m not interrupted. 

I have some old Logitech speakers I use, along with my Logitech MX518 mouse. Then I have my Magic Keyboard and a couple of pairs of Airpods, which I use 24/7.  I actually use my Airpods a lot more than my speakers. I’m hoping one day Apple will figure out how to get more charge time into the Airpods. 

I then have my standing desk. It’s the Jarvis model from a company down in Portland, OR, called Fully (previously Ergo Depot). I love it! The butcher block is very high-quality. I purchased the desk in 2013, and there’s still not a scratch on it.

Daily Software

Having worked in IT, I was previously a PC/Windows guy. But I switched to Mac in 2019 and haven’t looked back. There are a lot of applications that I use on a daily basis, but here are a couple of my favorite ones: 

I also keep a list of my favorite Mac apps updated on my blog.

Contact