Episode 143 WordPress Pot Potpourri with Jeff Chandler
Episode 143 WordPress Pot Potpourri with Jeff Chandler
From the center of the universe, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is the SDM show with your host Rob Cairns. The SDM show focuses on business life productivity, digital marketing, WordPress and more. Sit back, relax, grab your favorite drink and enjoy the show. Here is Rob.
Everybody Rob Cairns here. Today, I’m with someone who’s been well known in the WordPress community. And that’s Jeff Chandler. We’re going to talk about WordPress, more as a Potpourri, it’s talk about everything and anything. And we’re also going to talk about Jeff’s new project that WP mainline. So sit back, relax, grab your favorite drink, and enjoy this engaging conversation with Jeff.
Hey, everybody, Rob Cairns, here. I’m here with Jeff Chandler, and those in the WordPress community should should know Jeff, well, how are you today, Jeff?
I’m doing fine. Good. And I am the center of the universe, not Toronto. All I knew that.
Somebody was sensitive to intros before he gets on his show. The smart man he is so chill when it just just been involved in the WordPress community for many, many years. And he kind of got out of it and got back into it. I thought we’d get him on and have a chat where Jeff actually didn’t have to be the host for a change. So which he seems so like. So. Tell us a little bit about your background in the community. Jeff, for those who don’t know, were new to the community and what you’re working on today.
I got involved with WordPress about 2005 2006. Maybe it was at the time where I had much of my experiences with Joomla. And boy way back in the day, this is when Joomla used to be known as Mambo but Mambo had this big infighting thing that was going on because corporation or business owned it. And there was actually a fork created from Mambo which became Joomla. And and Joomla created this nonprofit organization called Open Source matters. And that was pretty cool to kind of be a part of all that. You know, fast forward all these years later with WordPress that kind of, I kind of get to see some of that transpire with WordPress. But back in those days, I was familiar with what with Joomla. And I was looking to start up a new website to write about all of these web 2.0 services and technologies that were out and about, like the really cool gradient generators, or button generators, and all those things that look to shiny buttons and everything that was missing vowels. All those websites back in the day. Because writing about it was just so it was kind of a cool time to be part of the webinar online and have websites because there were new ideas, crazy ideas and different ways of doing things every which way you look. I mean, it was just all this creativity. And what I did was created this new website was called jeffro 2.0 or two Pt zero.com. It’s, it was a horrible domain. But it worked at the time. And I initially that was the first time I actually installed and worked with WordPress, I think I used cPanel and softaculous. And it’s just a script that has a bunch of different CMS is you can install, install them automatically for you. I think it’s still around Actually, I haven’t been on a hosting in years. But um, but I but I use that my first use of WordPress, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get to grips with it. But But at the time, the thing that WordPress had that Joomla didn’t, because he had to pay for to build it in was comments and I wanted comments for my reviews in my articles and WordPress had that. So I ended up going back to Joomla messed around with it for a while. And then I said alright, you know, I’m gonna give WordPress a second chance. And when I did, I’m like I fell in love with it. And that’s when I found out that you can just go into certain files, change a couple parameters, and boom, like you got things working the way you want it to work. And then there’s all these plugins. writing content was easy. I had categories, I had pages, I had tags. And at that point, WordPress was very young still, and it’s in its day. And it was just really cool to be part of this community where a lot of us seem to be getting onto WordPress at around the same time. And we would be writing blog posts about what we’re learning things we’ve noticed news that’s going on in the WordPress sphere. And after my time in the sun with the whole 2.0 stuff that didn’t last very long. I ended up getting a paid writing gig for weblog tools collection that calm and about 2000 2007 units. 2007 2008 and Mark gauche at the time he was the founder of weblog tools collection.com. And that was like the site for WordPress stuff at the time. It was in the dashboard. That’s where you went for news to see the latest plugin releases, the latest theme releases. That’s where you want to kind of get a feel the pulse of the WordPress community in my first paid writing gig was for that website. And Mark actually reached out to me, I didn’t reach out to him and said, hey, I’ve noticed that you’ve gotten a lot of traction and you enjoy writing about WordPress, how would you like to get paid to do this? And I said, What? I said, What is that? Is that possible? Is that a thing you can get paid to write about WordPress? He said, Yes, so we made a deal. And man, that was pretty cool to be that you’d be getting paid to write about WordPress. And then from that point on, I developed a following and workflow tools coalition that calm and eventually, the domains of WP Tavern com became available, I ended up getting those started my own thing. And, you know, the rest is history. I did that for a number of years ended up selling it to Matt Mullenweg in 2011. But the the public didn’t know who actually sold it to until about 2013. And I stayed on for a number of years after that as an actual employee of Adri company, which at the time was Matt’s personal investment firm that he has. So I stayed on there for a while. And eventually I left the site in about in August of 2019. And I kind of went away for two years. And, you know, after after doing all that WordPress writing and being involved in the community, those two years I needed that to be honest.
Yeah. You know, the one thing about the WordPress community is, it’s pretty tight. I would say like, everybody knows, definitely has its cliques. Yeah. And everybody knows everybody, like, you know, there was a conversation going on on Twitter, which you were involved jumped in on. And we were talking I think it was Bob WP Bob Dunn it was Joe Casabona. Myself, it was Todd, and we were talking about the script and some of the new podcasting features and, and everybody was jumping in and having their helpful piece of input into house the best way to do this, right. So
yeah, my helpful piece of input was great. Look at all these guys checking it out, I have a podcast now I have to check it out.
Well, my input. Now that was my input to it. I read it was a conversation. I think it all started because Todd Jones actually tagged me on a tweet ends on Joe’s tweet and said, this is cool. And then it just kind of had legs. But it’s one of those communities where I think people are pretty open to sharing their information, even across like, you know, guys like Matt madeiros, who you know, as well, who’s a lover podcaster in that area, and so forth. We nobody has a problem sharing information, which is surprising compared to some communities, right.
And if you ask folks like Corey Miller, who used to be run I themes, you know, back in the day, when the theme companies, when I say back in the day, I’m talking about like 2009 2010 2011, the time when there was a lot of theme shops opening up around WordPress, or you had Genesis, which became StudioPress, he had a themes, you had pressed 75 and a couple other theme companies that existed in these guys and gals did not view each other as strict competition, they would actually go to work camps and they would all hang out together, they buy each other dinner, they buy each other drinks at the bar, and they talk about what they’re going through their experiences in it was kind of kind of weird at first, but then as your as you stay in get involved in the WordPress community long enough, you realize now that’s just the norm. Yeah, it’s so is and you know, like you and I think no fictitiously you and I could be in the same product space, we’d be going out to the same customers. And I’m sure at some level, there’s a competitive aspect there. But if we were at the if we were at a word camp or something, no, I’d walk up to you and say, Hey, let me buy a drink or you want to go and have a talk somewhere. You know, that’s what are you going through? This is what I’m going through it? We don’t share experiences even though you know, technically we’re competitors.
It’s so true. And I and I think part of that brings it on is we all have our niches and our separate space and you know you take somebody like Cory. Cory Scott vast experience before we got on a record, we were talking about AJ Morris and I know AJ went on to from his own shop when from headway to doing some work for the iTunes brand. I think and don’t quote me, I think he just was Gravity Forms now. So I mean, these guys have vast experience and they’re bringing it across the, the spectrum and it’s actually really good for everybody else. As far as I’m concerned,
the word the WordPress community as a whole, from what I’ve learned over the past 12 years or so is that most people are kind. Most people are generous. Most people are willing to share information. Most people are willing to share their experiences and help out if they can when necessary. Most people are welcoming or friendly, and just want the best for themselves and for as many others as possible. And those are other great things about the WordPress community and like every other community there are there there are people you don’t want to mess with or people you don’t want to be involved with there. You could say, people that you get negative energy from I mean, every community WordPress is made up of so many people, you’re going to that that’s just the reality of things. But by and large, I’ve had an overwhelming positive experience in the WordPress community.
Yeah. And I would say, Jeff, I have to I mean, you know, you’re a good example, I think we’ve talked and tweets over the years. And I reached out to you and said, you know, why don’t you join me and you’re like, You are all for that. And that’s what I liked about this community. And I learned so much. And I’ve got so many friends in the community, that it’s hard to kind of say no, sometimes, you know what I mean? So let’s jump into I just project WP mainline. How did you come up with the name and the whole train theme with that?
Well, I’ve been a avid rail fan, and that’s what you call somebody who is in the trains, like sticking pictures of them, just like watching them go by. There are other terms you can use, but they’re kind of derogatory. So I won’t I won’t go into those. But I was thinking about quite a few people contacted me reached out to me and said, I miss your writing. I missed the post that you would write I missed the way you you wrote those posts. I missed listening to you. And john James Jacoby on WordPress weekly. I’ve, I’ve had a few people actually who told me they were going through a podcast withdraw ever since WordPress weekly disappeared, which I thought was was made me scratch my head. But I said okay, that’s it’s cool, that I was Miss that much in, man. It’s awesome. To be wanted and to be missed that way. So I started thinking about it. And I said, Well, if I come back, you know, what can I do? What can I do and if I come back, it’s gonna be under my terms, and I can do what it is I want to do I you know, I am I am my own boss, I’ll do things. I’ll do things my way. So I started thinking about various trading terms, and how they would relate to like, a WordPress site dedicated to news things that were topical, that were updated community and I thought about where I was or where I go to visit trains and see them come by often times and there’s four main lines that that converge together to for CSS and to from North Norfolk Southern to major railroad companies. And there’s just trains going through there all the time on the mainline because the mainline that’s where the trains go and I said you know what if I had What about wb mainline you know, the main line, the main source for Community News commentary, things like that, and I ran the idea past a couple people and they said and that’s awesome Go for it. Now unbeknownst to me at the time and it’s been brought up I did not realize that mainline refers to drug use mainline for an IV or whatever it is it there it can be used it’s a term for drug use but I if you visit I don’t advocate illegal drug use. WP mainland has nothing to do with drug use. It’s all about trains baby choo choo and all that that there’s nothing nothing to do with drugs. I’ve got enough The site is designed in a way and I’m running it that there’s you’ve got to be insane to think about drugs other than the whole main the main line aspect but I liked the site I liked the name I think it rings true with what I’m trying to do trying to accomplish so I’m gonna stick with with WP main line but I ran the idea past a couple people then I got a few community members involved with the design of like a playful, like a train logo that I found and then getting waiapu involved with it’s like the WordPress mascot. And he’s got this little cool conductor hat and I said Man, this is it all kind of came together and it’s it’s to be able to combine my my my passion and my fun for train watching and train gazing with WordPress, man. It’s it’s pretty cool that I’m able to do that and it makes the job and makes doing things a whole lot funner for me,
yeah, I get that and you know, we were talking before we recorded about trains and I was going to share with you a story and I thought I’d hold it I I’m an avid model train guy not so much anymore Just because of apartment space and you want to talk about a money pit? Yeah. Well, it was so bad. Jeff, when we lived in Montreal, we had an unfinished basement. And my mother threatened my father and I, that if I put one more piece of track in that basement, she was gonna leave. And so I didn’t put one piece of track in I put, oh, 200 pieces to track and, and I said, So do we have more room and how’s she going? And my mom was just furious at my dad. And we had, we had them running everywhere. For years, it was more my doing and in those days, I was doing Believe it or not, I was doing n model trains, not H O. So I was doing pretty small scale and, and I’ve always like trains I’ve been to Toronto train museum I, I like train travel, I’ve done train travel all over Canada. It’s just wonderful. So
I wouldn’t mind doing train travel. But every time I look it up, I go, Man, that’s too expensive. I can’t do that. Like, if I wanted to go from us Amtrak and do the lecture unlimited and go from Cleveland to Chicago, I’ve got to pay an absorber, an insane fee, where I could just drive there, and the train is gonna stop, it’s probably going to be late to Amtrak, so always late. And it’s just, it’s just not economical. It’d be fun, and I’d love it. But I know I gotta say, and this is completely a tangent and a rant, but I don’t, I don’t know how much longer Amtrak is going to be around because the sleeper cars and the amenities in in just it being like a fancy nice way of, of traveling seems to be going out the window, not to mention the economic pressures and COVID and everything else that’s taking a hit on the business. Yes, it’s so true. I’ve done the way to bring back steam power passenger rail service, bring it back, baby.
I knew that was going we actually have a train I don’t know if you’re aware, called the Canadian edge if it runs from Vancouver to Toronto, and comes right through the mountains. And I’ve gone that route twice, not yours. And the reason I haven’t done it again, frankly, is cost. It’s just really expensive to do one way and then we’ve got another train that goes from Toronto to Quebec and then from Quebec, you can get on a train that takes you through Eastern Canada, up through like the gas Bay and along the water and down in Nova Scotia, that’s a treat to so train traveling this country is still is still pretty big. So so you record the podcast with john James Jacoby, who I absolutely adore as well. And how’s that going? So far, you are four episodes in and five episodes.
five episodes in Episode Six will be tomorrow. Things are going great. It’s great to be reunited with with john, I really enjoyed doing the show with him. I also do the show with Malcolm karate who is a fellow Canadian. In fact, where he lives he can see trains going by from his house. So you know, it’s it’s pretty cool where he lives. But I enjoy. I enjoy having them both on the show. They both provide different perspectives and unique viewpoints and WordPress in the news of what’s going on during the week. And it’s pretty cool. This is the first time I’ve kind of had a podcast where I’m actually able to mix and mingle, co host and I have the same one every week. So it provides more flexibility. And we’ve already had some great shows and some of the best things ever did with WordPress weekly where my interview shows. Yep, so what I’m so what I’m planning on doing is allowing the WP mainline podcast to be WordPress news centric to what’s going on in the community. And I want to start up a new podcast a secondary one called the junction where I bring people on throughout the WordPress community. And yeah, we talk about WordPress and stuff like that. But we also talk about life, work life balance, some of the ancillary things that surround a person’s life and we kind of get more more into the depths of you know, their thought processes, their work processes and just more generalized conversations a more laid back setting. And I think that’d be really fun. I’ve got Kim and Jason Coleman are going to be my first guest from paid membership pro they’re going to be my first guest on the podcast next week and no, it’s going to be great cuz I plan on talking to them about you know, what’s it like went into business being married, you know, how often do you guys fight you know, all kinds of weird questions. You never know with me as a podcast host what I’m going to ask and where the conversations gonna go. But I tell you what, you’re almost guaranteed to have a great time.
Yeah. It’s so true. And I would agree with that to having been such a fan of WordPress weekly over the years. And now, man,
we’re persuaded there’s so much so much great WordPress knowledge in history that’s stored up and, and all those audio files that I hope that, I hope that they’ll be around, I almost thought about submitting them to the web archive, the Internet Archive, just so that they be around for posterity. I haven’t done it yet. I don’t even know if I have the permission to do that. But I may do that at some point. But there’s there’s so much great history, and I’ve had so many awesome shows and awesome conversations with people in the WordPress community, just through that show. And in fact, in fact, one time, I’ve been to word camps, where I’ll be talking to people, and somebody will turn around and look at me and go, are you jeffro from WordPress weekly, I go, yeah, and they go, I recognize that voice. And I’m like, it’s so so cool to actually get to meet up with and talk to people who listen to the show. And but but my favorite memory, my favorite feedback is from a woman who was, you know, it doesn’t matter her age, but she contacted me and sent me feedback and says, I really enjoy your show. And I said, Thank you very much. She says, I listened to it while drinking wine and sitting in the bathtub. You know, when she was taking a bath. She said she will listen to WordPress weekly. So I don’t know. You know, I, that’s some of the craziest feedback I’ve ever had. But look, I wasn’t complaining. I thought okay, cool. You know, if that’s, if that’s what’s going on, and then that’s fine. But it just, it’s been? It’s been crazy over the years with that show.
No, it’s true. And, you know, the amazing thing with podcasting is the people you meet, the community you meet and what you learn. And I mean, I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve done an interview, every time I’ve talked to somebody new, the stuff I learned is just absolutely incredible, Jeff, and you can’t buy that. You know what I mean? Like, it’s just, it’s a different, it’s a different. It’s a different space, right?
Right in in the WordPress space. From what I’ve seen, and what I’ve experienced, nobody is off limits. Even Matt Mullenweg, the CO creator of the WordPress project, you seem to work camp, you can walk up to them, you can ask him a question, you might have to wait in line, you might have to pick a number. But he’s corny. Oh, he’s polite. And he’ll usually stick around and talk to everybody who wants to talk to him or ask him a question. And, you know, at one point, you know, I looked at him and said, Man, this guy, it’s a very he’s very successful man. He runs automatic. The these, he’s wealthy, and he’s got all this going for him. And the fact that I was able to just walk up to him at my first word camp, and just ask him questions and talk to him like a normal human being. Man. That’s, it’s really cool.
I had the pleasure of meeting Matt. He was up in Toronto for a special word WordPress meetup we had about seven or eight years ago. And he actually came up just to meet the Ontario group. And he spent, you’re planning to spend over two, two and a half hours with us, he ended up spending closer to five. And he was just obliging anybody who wanted to picture with him. I’ve got pictures with Matt. And he was like, no problem. You wanted to talk about something you wanted to ask a question. He was very approachable. And there’s other people like you mentioned, Corey Miller. Here’s a guy who find it out, I think. And I consider Corey a friend. And of course, not off limits, is very accessible to anybody in this community. Another person is Lisa sappan. Wilson, who’s written a dummies book on WordPress. Lisa is very approachable in his community. You are Bob Dunn is I mean, the list goes on and on and on, of course, approachable. Right. So I mean, I think that’s what makes it community really special. Actually, Jeff.
I agree with you. And I’m proud and glad to be a part of it. Yeah. And I’m proud to be able to be in a position where I’m kind of starting a new chapter in it.
Yeah. And I’m glad Personally, I’m glad to selfishly dive you back in it. So thank you very much, sir. There you go. So let’s get on this some trends. And you’ve been away for a while. But, you know, you might have the viewpoint. Your new website, if I recall, is and I could be wrong. It’s mostly Gutenberg. Correct. You’ve done
I’ve actually I’m using generate press for the for the website and use Gutenberg for the content, the content editor. And apparently I’m now using Gutenberg to manage blocks because now we’ve got the block based widget manager, the transition that’s taking place so that’s why I’m using Gutenberg. But But Obviously the future is Gutenberg all the things black all the things full say editing, everything is gonna be a Black Buck buck buck buck block. That’s, that’s the trend blacks. Yeah, I has been. And it’s going to be and that’s that.
So how do you feel about blocks versus a page builder.
I don’t have much experience with using with using page better builders, I’ve used a few. In my time fact, a long, long time ago, I actually used headway. And I thought it was I thought it was really cool and advanced in the space that I use generate press, and I use it. Tonight really build pages, I’m just trying to design my, my site, I’m not trying to do like membership pages, or special archives or anything of that nature. So I don’t have vast knowledge and experience with your typical page builders. But, you know, using Gutenberg and using it for blocks and having blacksnake content and being able to now take those blocks and turn them into widgets, and that every can net every block for content right now is compatible are meant to be used as a widget or in the sidebar because of space limitations. But I can you know, a long, long time actually, when I first got involved with WordPress, I envisioned, what I wanted was a way to change my theme around change the layout, move widgets here and there and be able to do everything via a GUI and drag and drop and I can create the website, I want the layout I want without having to write any code. And for the last 1213 years, we’ve steadily gotten to the gotten to that point where you’re able to do that. And, you know, the page builders have certainly advanced that concept over the past few years, you know, prior to Gutenberg. But with Gutenberg and the idea of full site editing to where you know, what I think of it is your your nav menu is a block your search thing your search bar is a block your footer is a block, everything being a block, and then you could just go into this editor, whether it’s the customizer, which probably would offer Live Preview or in the backend, you would go to this editor and he just put the block here, put the black here, these blacks have certain controls that you can wear, you can edit and modify them. That’s what I’m looking forward to I’m looking forward to be able to, to move and rearrange a room, aka my website without having to hire a builder or a designer or somebody that would do other research and come up with blueprints and all that other stuff for me. Now, that’s not to say that the future I want with WordPress and building sites and themes and what have you is going to demolish the agency or the web design industry and the theme authors and all that there’s going to be plenty of opportunity for them to stick around and to build on top of and improve when Gutenberg already delivers. And we’re already starting to see that with themes that are fully block based, which are which are pretty neat, and they’re pushing the space. And everybody should probably keep an eye on frost WP, which is Brian Garner’s new theme shop. He’s going to be making heavy use of Gutenberg and the various features that it has, but I think with with reusable blocks, block patterns, and just being able to do all these things with blocks, and how easy it’s going to be to move things around it. I think the future of themes and WordPress and design is pretty exciting.
Yeah, I would say it is. I’ve been a page builder, user myself. I’ve used Elementor views Beaver Builder reviews, the VEDA. I’ve used the Devi over the years. Like You I used headway at one time, which I think part of the problem with headway without going down that story is they were way ahead of their time by miles. And I decided recently to spin up a personal site because yours truly hates the Facebook monster, like compassion. So I needed somewhere to be able to show friends and family some photos and stuff and say, I’m not putting them on Facebook, go here and actually spend night up with astron goop burger, no page and nobody’s problem. So I think there’s probably a market for both. It’s just where and how it shakes out and where the page builders tie into the box. I have to tell you, I do I am having a tough time getting rid of the are used to the new widget areas since it will them to box. I personally find that really hard. So
well. You know, this is pretty much the first iteration, they’ve been working on it for a while the previous versions of WordPress, but this is the first time where the, the, the general public has access to this. And yeah, hey, you know, you know who’s, uh you know what software platform is happy about all this Gutenberg stuff. And in moving things to our Gutenberg is classic press, because they’re not messing with Gutenberg. They’re sticking with everything, they get the same old widget manager that’s been there, they’ve got the same old post management screen. And I’m very curious to see, within the next few years how classic press evolves, where you have WordPress as it was, which is pretty much before Gutenberg or, or taking Gutenberg out. And then you’re going to have WordPress after Gutenberg, which is what all of us are probably using, and how the two, I wonder, I wonder how classic press is going to evolve, and how it maintains its user base and delivers new features?
Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting, because I played with classicpress, about six months ago, just to see on a test site if it would translate a WordPress site, and it actually did a really good job. But the problem is, when you’re using classic press, did you say yeah, that’s how it used to work? No, there’s a certain podcaster, whose name I shall not name, who loves classic press. And he’s, even though he’s making money in the WordPress space, he seems to dump on the WordPress space. So I’m kind of not into that. But you know, I think I think it’s gonna make some people happy. But it hasn’t shown down the growth of WordPress, because we know WordPress just recently crossed the 40% of our websites on the internet. So, you know, I don’t think it’s, I mean,
it’s, it’s not gonna slow down the growth of WordPress, but I’m just, I’m just curious, and how it’s going to grow on its own is its own thing, you know, alongside of WordPress.
Yeah. What are the plugins from what I know with classipress are running the WordPress plugins. But as the move to Gutenberg shakes out, you’ve got, you’ve got that differentiation that has to take place like I know, for example, Yoast has written the big SEO plugin is written a classic press plug in that’s separate than the WordPress plugin. So there’s some of that going on right now. So I don’t I don’t know where the market share is gonna go. Honestly, on that one, Jeff, I, I don’t have a feel for it. I just, I think it’s gonna take four or 5%. And I don’t think it’s going to go much further.
Yeah, I would agree with you there. And I would say one of the biggest spots I have issues is WooCommerce. And both you and I have a mutual friend Bob Dunn, who does the doodle woo podcast. Yeah, shout out to I love saying that. And Bob is joining me in a couple weeks we’re gonna talk about Woo. But the problem I have with woo is just no competitor out there for Whoo. It’s either woo or Shopify or Shopify. And I know ninja forms spot remember Magento is still out there Yeah, it’s still out there and Ninja forms bought the old I themes plugins and turn them into WP e commerce. I think they’re still going on. Yeah, and into ninja shop. And that went nowhere. And there’s no competitors. And I and I gotta tell you, as a designer, I have no issues with Shopify. I think for some things to Canadian number one to based out Ottawa. Number two, they do some things really well. Like for example, if you have a Shopify account, you get bulk shipping rates to any of the major carriers because Shopify negotiates, so I’m not I’m not an anti guy, you know, it’s funny people say, Oh, you shouldn’t put your LMS in WooCommerce. in WordPress, you shouldn’t put your membership site in WordPress, you shouldn’t put your anything on WordPress. But by the way, we need WooCommerce. If you get what I’m saying, like I think some of these other services have a market in this world.
And that kind of brings up the topic of headless WordPress, which has been a hot topic not just lately, but within the past two or three years where you can have WordPress on the front, but something else completely different or whatever, on the back. And, and someone I saw someone mentioned this, and I thought it was it’s some food for thought, where with headless WordPress, will we get to a point where agencies and we might already be going towards this, but we have agencies and other companies creating their sort of version of WordPress, but it’s headless. So you’ve got WordPress in the front and their own custom solution on the back. And somehow all these different headless solutions kind of eat away or erode. WordPress is market share. But I guess, I guess I guess it couldn’t really do that, because it’s still WordPress, at the end of the day, but it’s just it’s just a back end would be something completely different. I don’t know it. The whole headless aspect of WordPress is it’s just interesting for me to think about I have not used a version of WordPress that is headless. But I imagine at some point I will, but the idea just thinking about it’s interesting.
Yeah. And then the biggest knock against WordPress, of course, is security. Right? We all know that. Every time somebody says WordPress, they say security. And I always say being somebody being somebody who’s in that space, I always say, So Microsoft Security, Apple security, your bank card security.
I mean, I mean, common sense goes a long way towards security.
Yeah, yeah. And I think I think there’s some things you can do to lock your site’s down. And one of the biggest things is simply keeping your site up to date. And I think a lot of people, you know, they say that’s too much work. And I, I’m almost a proponent of people right now, where, if you want to DIY your website, do it yourself, go ahead and do it. But maybe you should think about getting somebody to take care of it once you do it. Because the average small business owner isn’t gonna do it.
And it’s getting to the point now we’re at some point, WordPress core themes, plugins, they’re all going to be updated automatically, I think, maybe even newer version of WordPress, when you install them. I think maybe they have those things all turned down, but no security. Over the years, I’ve seen the same complaints about WordPress pop up from time to time. They’re they’re misnomers, that WordPress is insecure, like, no, it’s not, it’s no more insecure than anything else that’s on the web, use a strong password, enable two factor authentication, there are a couple of things you could do. And they’re pretty basic, common sense things. And for the most part, for many people, that’s all you need to do. You don’t In my opinion, you don’t need to install like an a theme security and, and put a moat around your WordPress login page and have alligators and turrets and everything defending your website. What ends up happening a lot of those cases is that and this kind of happened with with me and WP main line is that with the cloud cloud comm what’s cloud CloudFlare CloudFlare. That’s it That’s CloudFlare somebody clouds. I know it’s hard to come up with one but CloudFlare with their security in their windows in their in their application firewall is actually triggering something to the point where that the WordPress default functionality and Gutenberg editor stopped working because I triggered some kind of rule in your firewall, even though it wasn’t doing anything malicious. When you started locking things down too much. You’re going to start running into a lot of problems, then you’re going to blame WordPress thinking that the software sucks, when actually you’ve just locked everything down too much.
Yeah, I would agree I, I typically use I know on that side. I either use AI things or wordfence in the backend, just because they’re easy, but I’ve done them enough that I pretty well know what it can do what it can’t do what it can do on certain nodes what I can’t do, and I think that works really well. But I tend to agree like it’s common sense. And the biggest thing in security is have a good backup. And by the way, make sure you can restore that backup. Yeah, yeah, I know. I know. years ago,
I’ve got plenty of backups. Oh, I just happen to need one. The backups don’t work. It’s corrupted. Well, I’ll file so much for having me.
So my favorite story there was a I spent many years before I got into marketing. Before I got into tech support. I worked as a COBOL programmers in the insurance business. And we had a, we had a psycho bad and we had a backup. The only problem is nobody thought to check the tape to see if the backup was actually good. And we want to do a restore, we had to go back actually three generations and then roll everything forward, which was just absurd because our backup tapes were bad. So you know, if you can take a backup folks take the time to test your backup before you need it, not when you need it. So that’s a bit there in the WordPress business, just some maturity going on. And I think what started it off, was Salesforce, decided to inject the pile of money into automatic sometime last year. Do you have any thoughts about the maturity that’s going on in the business?
I think it’s just things happening, how they usually happen in business where I mean if you start to look at what’s happening in the WordPress space, and this has been happening for the past couple of years, but now you’re starting to get these individuals and these companies that are they have umbrellas and underneath the umbrellas are multitudes of plugins or themes. Some of them are individual businesses, others are just groups have plugins and themes. And you’re starting to see more and more consolidation in the WordPress space to the point where it’s actually not just one company that that controlling everything you’re starting to see different groups, different companies, different people with these umbrellas and I suppose that’s a great thing for business owners out there that have a mildly too greatly successful plug in business or thing business that there’s going to be there’s plenty of opportunities apparently to sell. It seems kind of like real estate you know, it’s it’s a great time to sell. But if but I think what we’ve also seen lately is when these transitions occur when Company A buys product from Company B and then changes the product around we’ve seen newsmen excellent coverage of this on the tavern WP Tavern in the past few months is that these transitions can go awry, users can get upset what what they expected and how things worked one way is now changed in different another day. And some of these changes are good. Some of them are bad. And I don’t know. But I think the consolidation that the the way things are going in the WordPress space. It’s just typical of how things go. I mean, I’m and I think we’re just going to see more of it as as, as WordPress continues.
I mean, it’s happening even with the parent company automatic. Who have they bought lately they’ve bought a journaling company, you know, that was reported on the tavern. So one journal, I think it is Yeah, one journal, they bought male poet, which they’ve they’re going to integrate into WooCommerce even tighter. And that one personally concerned me because I’ve been a male poet user for a couple years and and take your Vita Matic credit they are they honored all the lifetime deals out there for mailpoet. So they didn’t turn around and say, wait a minute here. We’re not the same company. So we’re not honoring stuff they did. They injected money. I saw no last couple days into another email type marketing service. they’ve bought a CRM for jetpack in the last Well, I mean, they’ve been on a tear themselves. And then you take somebody like liquid web, and what’s been going on with them with AI themes. They also bought Canvas today, not recently, and they’ve kind of spun them off as a separate site. And then you’ve got the WP Engine buying a flywheel lately, right. So there’s a little bit of consolidation going on. I wish somebody would,
if you follow the money in the WordPress space in a WordPress ecosystem, and you look at the top of the food chain, I’m not talking about automatic. Who is it? Who has all the money? Who has the means? Who has the ability? Who has the services? Who Who is the top of the food chain, web hosting companies?
Yep. Yeah. And I’m surprised to be honest with you, and I hope they don’t go there, that our friends over at endurance, don’t jump into the space. I’m, I’m honestly hoping they stay away. Because you you know the issues with AIG and hosting in the WordPress space. And if I mean,
they’ve got Hostgator they’ve got Bluehost they’ve got all kinds of other hosts under endurance international group. So I mean, they’re kind of already involved with it.
Yeah, at 33. And Bluehost is a gold workcamp sponsor too, because of the money that they just kind of throw at it. And then you got a company like siteground that hasn’t even gone there yet. And I use the operative word yet because I, I think don’t jump into this space before it’s so too so and then tagged to it even more. You got companies now saying not only we can offer you manage WordPress hosting, we’re going to make our few manage WooCommerce hosting. And there’s a lot of that starting to sprout and Nexus comes to mind with managed Asia. That’s exactly where I was going, Jeff. Yeah. And how do you feel about that offer advantage? WooCommerce hosting? Yeah,
I think it’s wonderful. I think managed anything is wonderful, especially for the end user who, who doesn’t want to mess with server configs, or having to manage your own Windows Server or configure anything? No, you these managed plans are all built around making it as easy as possible for the consumer, or the person buying the plan to do what they do best. And that is sell things, right content, publish content, you know, upload. So handle distribution, if we in on the back end, there, web host will take care of the technical stuff. And web hosting companies can charge a pretty penny for that kind of stuff for that convenience, because it’s for for many people, it’s absolutely worth it’s worth every penny to be able to just focus and concentrate on making money and running your business. And just having an entire team managing the technical aspects where,
yeah, being an ex, server support guy, even I go to the Manage server route now, for my clients, because frankly, I don’t want to do server work. It’s it’s a pain. I’d rather somebody else do it for me, if I have a problem, I pick up the phone, I say fix it. And I’m done. So I even I don’t like to do it anymore. So I’m in that ballpark. And I think more and more people are going to go that way as resources are more and more. Now what’s your feeling on writing stuff in the WordPress dashboard? or using third party services like an LMS? Like marketing automation, like a membership site? Do you think they should be self contained? Or should they be run outside the dashboard?
Do you have any feel I don’t have much experience with with running the LMS or any of those software platforms, but I think those companies, whoever’s involved should should do what they feel is best what how best they can accomplish a certain task with with WordPress now there are certain plugins that that if you go into the back end, they have their own sort of one page react application, however they do it it kind of had, they have a different dashboard. And it looks it looks weird, it looks different. Now there was a time where back when Gravity Forms was released in WordPress, one of its awesome selling point was that it blended right in with the WordPress back end, it looked natural, the forms are natural, the settings were natural, just like it was just made and built to be a part of WordPress. And I think there’s still value in having an interface like that. But for a lot of other plugins, especially if you’re running a SAS and the plugin is really just a connector, then I think it just makes sense to have sort of your own interface to manage things in in a third party software solution.
Yeah, and one on one side SAS that says really well, managing stuff whether or not within WordPress has been tampered with. They actually don’t send out your emails from within WordPress or send it out to the SAS. But all those all the internal stuff is managed right in the dashboard. And they’ve they’ve actually made that really clean, which is nice to see. Trends coming up in the next year. Do you have any feel for Gutenberg? Good? Man, let me take the easy way out. Mm hmm. Gutenberg and live streaming and video right? Well,
I I’d say I’d say trends within the next year, podcasting is going to be one of them. it already is. But it’s going to continue and it’s going to increase full site editing, we’re going to see a lot more of that. We’re going to see more themes become simply black based. So what we’ll have to see in the near future, what that entails. But we’re going to start to see more of an emphasis on Gutenberg controlling all the all the aspects of design and whatnot. And then throughout the throughout the next year or two. We’re also going to see how existing page builders, how they’re going to evolve and implement Yes, and work with Gutenberg and that against it. Because that’s one thing people don’t want to be involved in as lacking. And that’s been an issue in the past could be an issue in the future. But I think page builders that evolve to a point where they can elevate and work with Bergen even enhanced Gutenberg already offers, those are going to be the that’s going to be the successful route to go. Not doing things in your own way that’s completely different, which ends up lacking IE lacking into some specified way of doing things.
And that’s the problem with page builders now is say, take any page builder Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi Aveda, which is a theme such
I mean all of those do things based on shortcodes. Right?
Yeah. And the minute you remove them, the shortcodes are gone. And you’re done. Yeah. Yeah. So I think that’s a trend. I tend to agree with your first one to podcasting. I think you know, it’s funny, we talked about podcasting. And you and I both podcasting. I’ve been at it. For a couple years. You’ve been at it longer than me. We’ve got friends of ours. You know, the bob Dunn’s to Joe Casablancas, Matt Maduro says who have been at it longer than us. And I thought podcasting would take a dive in the pandemic. And the reason the reason I did was because I was commuting as much to go see clients, I was jumping on zoom calls. I have to tell you, my personal podcast consumption is gone double. I’m not a big TV watcher, except during the Olympics. So that’s you know, our dobro and what I find is when I’m working I almost always have a podcast on so I have to wonder like in the WordPress space and out of the WordPress space and I thought if I’m not running around as much my consumption is going to dive it’s actually gone way up and all the statistics show that podcasting has gone through the roof last year so so this fall SEO people aren’t running around to the office they’re not committing what I would bet you if you look at your statistics for am and FM radio I’ve probably dropped way off and that you know it’s easier for am radio listeners to transition the podcast because really a podcast is the digital am radio show when you think about
Yeah, and podcasts are usually they’re focused episodes are focused on a specific topic you’re interested in, you know what you’re getting, you know, what you’re getting into, there is usually one to two advertisements. It’s not really commercial heavy and the convenience of listening to them on a mobile device. It far outweighs I mean, people aren’t. People aren’t walking around with Walkmans or headset radios anymore. It’s all digital devices with air pods or some other Bluetooth connected device. And whether it’s doing laundry, whether it’s just sitting outside, whether it’s mowing the grass, whether it’s walking in the park, you can listen to podcasts, you know, pretty much anywhere, anytime. And the people who subscribe to and listen to certain podcasts are diehard fans, that they’re there for you. They want to listen to you. They want to listen to the content you’re producing there. They’re very loyal. No,
no question. I mean, I’ve got as I said before, before, when you do windows weekly, OC joy was in WP Main Line every week. I think I’m an episode behind but we’ll fix that. And there’s a couple in the space Bogdan mats. Joe’s that I was snow quite regularly. And then the other stuff I listened to is all out into space. It’s a lot of it’s business related. One of my favorite podcasts is a podcast called business was by wonderlic which talks about two companies in the space and how their battles happened and they tend to do like six and seven set episodes and things like that. And you know, I I’m just I rather do that so I’ll be washing dishes or doing housework. Last night I was cleaning a bathroom with a pair of bluetooth earbuds and you know listening to a podcast so it’s
so listening to the podcast, does that make it easier or just more tolerable to clean?
Yes, it does. No question. dads are scrubbing the floors or or vacuuming that’s the other one. Or mowing the lawn Jeff That works too.
You know it’s interesting thinking back to how I started WordPress weekly I used to listen to the WordPress podcast is like the official WordPress podcast called WP community. I or it might have been just called the WordPress podcast with Charles Strickland as the host and Malcolm karate I think was the host as well back in the day a long, long time ago. And I will listen to them talk about WordPress stuff. And I was so involved in the WordPress space in the news. Like, I would be upset if they didn’t mention a certain topic or didn’t mention a few comments that went along with it. I was, I was like, Man talk about this more talk about this more. So I said, You know what, the only way to fix this is to start my own show. And I did. And next thing, you know, I’m having one to one and a half, two hour long. I cast because I was talking about WordPress so much.
Yeah, it’s funny when I got into podcasting, I got in because A, I liked the podcast format, but be, believe it or not, I do writing for clients. And I don’t like doing my own writing. I’m awful. So my answer to how to keep my bog going was Oh, just started a podcast to be done with it. And then I do, I do all my show notes through an AI service. So that made it even easier. So I just said that. I can interview I can build a community, I can talk to people. And then I don’t have to think about writing. So I was much happier that way. So that’s how, that’s how I started. But, you know, another story is being in a city like Toronto, or in a suburb of drunk, I don’t have a car. So when I run around, I run around on public transport. And everybody says to me, is that tolerable? I said, with a podcast in my era, this. It’s not it’s not wasted time, it’s actually downtime. So, you know, there’s different ways that people listen, and it’s, it’s quite interesting to watch. If there was one thing you could see happen in the community, what would it be? quickly on the spot? There was one thing, yeah. Oh, two things?
Well, I would like to see a big orange heart, which is a big mental health advocacy nonprofit group in the WordPress space, I’d like to see them get to the point where they’re there. They don’t have to worry about funding. Or they could just do events and what have you and money, money is secondary to their objective of what they’re trying to accomplish. And like, I wouldn’t mind seeing hero press also becomes something that becomes no more money is not an issue. And we’re told firs able to expand upon the ideas that hero press offers. For those who who have been their hero press is a hidden gem, is that what I say? hidden gem, it shouldn’t be hidden. But it’s a gem of the WordPress space and community because it’s allowed people from all walks of life, how WordPress is affected them, how it’s changed them, how they’ve gotten involved. And people write their stories, their hero press stories, their essays, and they’re published on hero press, and they’re inspirational. It’s every one is definitely worth your time to read and what tofa is doing over there with hero press, it’s just awesome. So I would like like to get to the point where they just receive permanent sponsorship to just so that toeffler is able to take his vision and turn it into a reality were finances. They might even be an issue now. But I wouldn’t want finances to come get in his way of being able to do what he wants to do so. So with that, and other than that? I don’t know. I haven’t really that’s the interesting question.
Yeah, I really like to comment about big orange chart because, you know, mental health is a big deal. We also know beyond personal challenges, we know that the pandemic has made it even harder. They’ve really tried to do a good job of supporting people. I I saw heartedly agree with that one, more than most people and having been there. And I think it’s really important. And I also think, I think the one thing we need to keep is the culture of our community going the way it is. I mean, we reach out, we talk to people, we bounce ideas off people. I know last week, I was in a DM conversation with a couple other people. And I said to one of them, I’m really sorry, to take your time up. And he said to me, You know, that’s what the communities are for. And as I say, you know, and we’ve talked about in this podcast, we are so lucky to have the community that we have, and that’s pretty special. I really, I really think it makes for a different life.
So So in thinking about your question a little more, I think something I would like to see across the board is an onslaught, a slew of new blood with fresh perspectives, and WordPress accomplishing tasks. And have those people be from all walks of life diversity, nationality, skin colors, doesn’t matter. Have them all just I want to see new perspectives, new ideas, new ways of getting things done. I would just like to see So much of that just just a large like a like a rebirth of WordPress, just just all new off fresh new perspectives. Yep. Man, that would be exciting.
And they get some of those people working for automatic too. Because I’m sure that would happen at some point. No, I don’t I’m By the way, I’m not saying that to bash automatic I think, you know, if automatic didn’t do what they did, we wouldn’t be where we are. So I wasn’t. I wasn’t meaning that as a as a bash comment, I think it would help the community more than hurt to be honest with you. Yeah. I like that idea.
Well, you know, it’s funny looking back in 2000 2008 2009, when I was first reading about WordPress, I remember creating the blog post and the title was, is automatic evil. Well, 12 or 13 years later, I could confidently tell you automatic is not evil. No,
no, I would agree. I’ve had, you know, really good dealings with some people. I put automatic over the years. And, and I think, I think generally, they have people’s interests at heart. I mean, they’re balancing act is always wordpress.com vs. WordPress started to work and where do we go? And it’s a constant balancing act. But I think they’re starting to get there to be honest with you. And I think they actually make my job easier. So I’m not I’m not any evil camp. Some people are, I’m not. So I just don’t see. So. So where does Jeff go from here with WP mainline? Where are you? Where are you going in the future? You’ve started a membership area. Do you want to talk about that a little bit? And what you’re gonna do about that?
Yeah, so subscriptions are opened up on WP mainline And right now, I mean, it doesn’t give you access to any special content or anything, it’s more like a, hey, you want to support me and the work I’m doing out, you subscribe, give me your money, and I’ll make the content. I think it’s a pretty, it’s pretty clear cut simple, you know, relationship that we can have. And, you know, if you don’t like what I’m doing, or you don’t like my content, then you can you can get me where it hurts, you can unsubscribe and that’s less money from I can pay the bills with but, you know, by and large, I’m very thankful for everyone who has shown their support and who has subscribed to the site already. If you go to WP mainline comm there’s a link at the top says subscribe, click that. And then you know, you can make your choice between between the two options I have available in the future, what I would like to do is maybe create some promotional offers create some exclusive content, or I don’t know I need to think of different ways to increase the value of what the subscription entails. But it’s not, that’s that’s down the line at a different station. Right now. I’m just trying to keep the train rolling and loading the steam train up with coal. We’re moving we have momentum, we got to keep the momentum going. And you know, at some point in the future, I’m I’m working to create a page to have like a business directory or something something that can help me offset the need for having to have so many new subscriptions from users. That the business as a company’s I think we’ll be able to offset that cost. But that’s those are things I’m working on in the future. And right now, it’s just a matter of getting back into the swing of things, getting content published on a regular basis, getting my voice out there between with the podcast, and just trying to trying to get going trying to get rolling here.
And do yourselves a favor. Go over to WP bang on subscribe to just podcast it’s well worth the listen to. As I said Tom, before we went to record, I missed WP weekly, longtime fan and go subscribe to it. I know having Malcolm and jjj on will enhance the podcast greatly. They’re both good calls. And they both got this community as much as Jeff so go there, help him out subscribe. How can somebody get ahold of you Jeff if they need to?
Oh, you can follow me on Twitter because at all times I noticed you need to be able to tweet stuff. So you can follow me on twitter at Jeffr0 or you can follow WP main line on twitter at WPmainline. You find all that information on the website and if you need to contact me if you want me to review a product or you want to let me know of a product that you’re working on in the WordPress space whether it’s a plugin a blog, Blackie theme, whatever. Just go to WP mainline comm click the content link above and read out your message through the contact form. It’ll arrive in my inbox and we’ll go from there.
Yeah, and, and reach out to just for the approach for both if you need anything. Thanks for joining me and Jeff. Thanks for a great conference. Addition and all the best for WP main month. No problem. Thank you very much sir and do the whoo eggs. And and Bob, you can send your $5.90 to Jeff in the morning. Have a great day everybody Bye for very special thank you to Jeff Chandler for joining me on this edition of the SDM show. Remember to check out his project at WP mainline and support him because he tends to give a lot back to the WordPress community. Thank you, Jeff. Thanks for listening to the SDM show. You shows the production of stunning digital marketing and all rights reserved. Rob can be reached by email at VIP at stunning digital marketing calm on twitter at Rob Cairns on his website stunning digital marketing calm and on his website there’s links to all his social media platforms. This show is dedicated to my late father Bruce Cairns Dad, I miss you very much. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars make your business succeed.