Show Summary

Rob Cairns sits down with Kathy Zant to talk WordPress, Marketing and More.

Show Highlights:

  1. Kathy’s Internet/WordPress Journey
  2. The WordPress Community
  3. Why Kathy is using Kadence Blocks.
  4. Why Rob moved his podcast to Castos.
  5. Website Speed.

Show Notes

 


Everybody, Rob Cairns here. I’m here with my good friend, How are you today, Kathy?

 

I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.

 

Always a pleasure. We’ve been talking about doing this for a while. And it’s it’s about time. What is your background? And how did you come to WordPress? I have to ask that question.

 

Sure, no problem. Well, I started with the internet way before WordPress even existed. So I was, well, I was working at a company as a marketing person. I think my job title was like marketing coordinator. And one of my jobs is sort of like almost pre internet, my jobs was to get these mailings ready. And I had to get like data out of the database in order to like get customer merges and all of this stuff for actual mailings in the mail, and no, trying to get the tech guys to actually do anything was really hard, because they had a lot on their plate. So I taught myself how to get into the database. And then the internet came along. And I taught myself how to do a bunch of that stuff. And there was an internet guy nobody wanted to talk to. So I taught myself HTML, so I could get things done. To the guy that everybody was scared of, right? So you know, it just kind of like the internet started in my life is kind of like something I needed to learn in order to get my job done. And then I was like, Oh, this is gonna be so cool. And then I saw what Amazon was just starting to do with like, selling books. And I’m like, this is gonna change everything. So I threw myself into learning how to publish online. And so it was like, you know, basic, basic HTML, CSS hadn’t even started. JavaScript. I like taught myself JavaScript, just so I could do mouse overs, you know, because there was nothing back then it was like, I remember the day that internet. What was it Firefox for? It wasn’t even foods like Mozilla or whatever. It that came out. And there were layers and all this weird stuff that I had to learn. I’m like, this is fascinating. This is always going to keep me my mind engaged. I’m going to do this, I’m going to become an internet developer took courses on programming. Way back in the day when CSS came, I learned that when JavaScript got more and more powerful, I learned that I learned SQL, I learned how to manage servers I got, I inherited a server that got hacked. So I learned all the security. So then, when WordPress came along, and I was using movable type for blogging, and WordPress came along, and it was using the same class to in PHP to address the database that I was using in my PHP MySQL projects. So I was like, Oh, this is so much makes so much more sense to keep everything in a database, rather than like Movable Type, which was just like outputting HTML files. So I moved over to WordPress tore apart core, put it back together. I would never do that now, of course. But back then it was a much more simple project. And so I was kind of playing along with the code and not contributing or anything because I had my own projects and everything I was doing as a developer, but um, yeah, I just kind of like, grew up with the internet and kind of grew up with WordPress. And then yeah, after a while, after having a couple of kids around and getting really busy. I’m like, I’m tired of mentee, I have all this work I have to do for friends and family and clients and everything. So I started using WordPress and migrated everybody over to WordPress and WooCommerce got bought then it was, you know, nobody’s going to use my crappy little shopping cart that I built. Yeah, it’s going to WooCommerce because somebody else is going to maintain this code, not me. And so I’ve really kind of jumped into probably like everything went over to WordPress, all of my projects were migrated over probably by 2014 or so 2015 When When automatic bought WooCommerce and I was like, Okay, this is this is going to be something and so that’s kind of my WordPress origin story. I didn’t get involved with the community until I moved to Phoenix and 2018 And then really get involved with community. And that was loads of

 

fun. Yeah, it’s funny you say you started before the internet because I was kind of nodding my head at that comment. I can recall having a 300 baud modem in an apple two plus, which I still have that Wagner my father. And I used to do dial in late at night. So I didn’t impact the family phone line at the time. And, and I also went to a college in Canada that had BitNet access. And we all if you, those who don’t know bit net was kind of the educational network that came out of the US military that a lot of universities and colleges were on. And we actually had full BitNet access as our college for students until some stupid student decided to send a bomb threat to Tel Aviv. And, and fortunately, I was working for the college part time. So I also had a staff account. So my, my BitNet access didn’t disappear. And that and I started long, but like you long before the internet, I think we’re both showing Rachel little bit when we talk about that. But that’s

 

that’s what a gift. That was though, because I mean, if somebody threw me into having to learn everything all at once now I could see how it’d be like super overwhelming. And so, you know, we got to learn little by little, as new technologies came along, we get to learn something new every time. And so I think it was like a huge gift to at that time, recognize, hey, this is going to be something huge and to stick with it, you know?

 

Yeah, no, I would agree with him. And new being a bit of a marketing background. I’ll share with you a story. I went to community college in 8687 88. And I had a marketing instructor walked in day one, sewer bucks on her desk, sat up on her chair. And she looked at the class and said, I’m only here because I want my summers off. And I teach from the textbook, and here’s your exam dates. And I looked at her and I said so if you change those dates, you’ll you’ll email the date. She said yes. I said, Good. Goodbye, I’ll see you on the first test date. And I swore then I would never end up in marketing. And what do I do now? I’m in marketing. And it wasn’t marketing. It was the experience, it was hurt. And needless to say, she didn’t last very long at the college and long, long and short of it is after I’ve done full circle, and my background is very, I don’t know if you know, it’s very technical. It’s programming. And it was 20 years in tech support. And here I am in the web world and the marketing world and I’ve gone full circle as well. So you know, yeah, sometimes things just kind of work its way through Kathy.

 

Yeah, they totally do. And it’s kind of funny, because you can look back and just kind of see, you know, the cycles that happen and the patterns become very apparent from the side of things. But like when you’re soaking at it, it’s hard to tell.

 

It’s hard to tell. So let’s jump into WordPress for a minute. You’ve done a multitude of things. We’ve seen a lot of fury in the community lately, especially with the page builders in the box. And right now, I think there’s a place for both but we have a different community and I say this to many guests and I said this to other people I talked to we we have a very lucky community that everybody seems to know everybody and everybody tries to help everybody. What’s your feelings on the community now that you’re involved?

 

Yeah, well, okay, so when I first moved to Phoenix, I first of all, I was living in Mount Shasta, California, which is like, Paradise as far as I’m concerned. I still miss it, but it was catching on fire every summer and it was kind of like winters dull and rainy and, and cooler and snow like 10 feet of snow and things like that, which was fine. It was never like super cold. Like when I lived in Chicago, so winter wasn’t that bad, but the Summers would were glorious, but it would catch on fire still catches on fire all the time. And so um, we made a decision to move because of the fires because we just saw that they weren’t going to get better. It was just going to keep happening and it kind of you know, I’m raising my kids in this environment where they’re like breathing smoke all summer long. And it was I couldn’t, I couldn’t live with that. So we looked everywhere for the place to go and we ended up in Phoenix and Phoenix has like a very dynamic and vibrant WordPress can Unity. I mean, there’s a lot of hosting companies that are based there. There’s a lot of tech that’s based there. And so I moved there and it’s like, blazingly hot it was like 818 degrees one day. And I’m like, okay, Bloom, where you’re planted bloom where you’re planted, what can I do to make the best of the situation, and I saw that there was like this WordPress meetup, not too far from my house where I was living, kind of on the outskirts of Phoenix. So I went, and they were such a welcoming group of people. And that was my entree into the community was being welcomed by this, this meetup on the outskirts of Phoenix. And then I decided, okay, well, let’s look at WordCamp Phoenix, what’s going on here, let’s, let’s meet some people, let’s just see what’s going on. That group of people, um, you know, led by there’s like a core team of people there that are just amazing people who support so supportive, you know, I mean, especially with like, these online meetups, now, if you’re, if you have a chance to go to an online meetup that happens in Arizona, those people are so helpful, we’ll just basically help anyone incredibly inclusive. Just a great community. So I started helping with WordCamp, Phoenix, and I did that for the couple of years that I was there. And then I was like, Okay, well, I’m going to start pitching talks and share, share my knowledge, and let’s give back like all these years of dealing with all kinds of things. And then, you know, it kind of served, you know, my, my job purpose as well. So I started to just traveling and going to as many as many word camps as I could go to, and just started meeting people. And the greatest gift to me was to be able to sit next to someone, you know, during opening remarks at a word camp, and ask them how they use WordPress, and then meeting up with someone who was like, just getting started. And they’ve got the, the list of all the things that they’re going to go see. And like this one woman, she’s like, just getting started with her blog. And she’s like, I think I’m gonna go to this thing called bash, and I’m like, Oh, honey, don’t go to bed. What are you trying to do? You know, and asking questions about like, what she’s trying to do with her blog, and who her audiences and then helping her decide like, what sessions are going to really help her become successful and giving her like advice on you know, even like, setting up a mailing list and making sure that you’re engaging with people and using WordPress to its fullest. And yeah, it was so empowering to me, too. I mean, I like to see people’s eyes light up when they discover what WordPress can do for them. And I miss being able to go to word camps and sit next to those new users and, and watch their eyes light up of like, oh, wow, I can do this, you know, the technology has become so good. You don’t have to, like know how to FTP or have to know how to code. You can just like, share your voice with the world, you can share your interests, your hobbies, and I think our world right now kind of needs that. So I that’s one of the things I love about WordPress and love about the community, it empowers people.

 

I do too. It’s funny, because the last word camp we had in Toronto before the pandemic, and we have a pretty vibrant community up here with meetups and things like that. I think in two days, I saw one session cafe, I spent the whole time catching up with people, helping people talking to people out of sessions. I think I saw one session in two days. But just and that session was put on by a good friend of mine. And the or I don’t know if I had seen that one. And that’s the one thing I miss about all the word camps, frankly, is being able to sit down with people face to face it just it’s been a hard couple years for many of us. So

 

yeah, yeah, totally. And it’s like, I’m still staying in touch with you know, I contributed and helped with some WordCamp us and I, you know, have done a couple of other events over the past few months. So I’m like staying in touch with people. But I missed those like serendipitous meetings of someone that you you can’t plan to, like have a conversation with someone that you you just end up sitting next to and the conversation just kind of evolves and you learn something new, or you can share something that helps someone and those sort of unplanned miracles. You can’t make that happen when you’re sitting home and just like on Slack or whatever it was someone you know,

 

I would agree. I think the closest thing we have to that right now, honestly is probably is probably Twitter and I say that and those who don’t know I’m so not in that Facebook ecosystem anymore. Even though I have an account I’m not friends For a number of reasons, and I don’t like what’s going on up there, they’re in mess and and the fact that I can’t post off my own business domain on Facebook, and this has been going on for eight months. And as you know, as you know, recently, I, I shut down my Instagram account, your comment was, oh, you can stalk me on Twitter. Well, you can stalk me anywhere. I’m not I’m not. You know, I just that I think I think Twitter’s probably the closest thing to that that we have right now. Honestly.

 

Yeah, yeah, that’s true. I mean, there’s some, some good Facebook groups for WordPress, that, you know, I kind of poke my head in every once in a while. But yeah, I’m kind of have the same mindset where it’s just as all of this crazy stuff has hit, and then like the election cycles, and everybody’s just like at a fevered pitch emotionally, and the algorithms like to play that up. And I don’t want to participate in it, you know, like, when something when I catch when that something like scary or weird is happening in the world, and I start getting scared, or I start, like, what if what, how’s this gonna, you know, and you kind of go into this future fear based thinking pattern, I immediately shut it all down, and I go outside, because guess what, the sky is still there, the sun is still the trees, they don’t care, the birds don’t care. There’s like a whole, the majority of life on Earth doesn’t care about all of these incendiary types of things, or all of these heated discussions, and it’s my job, it’s each of our jobs to maintain our emotional equilibrium in the midst of the storm, you know, so,

 

no, I agree. I, one of the things I do every day, and I’m, I’m looking out the window, as we’re recording, and it’s sunny in Toronto, it’s cool. I mean, but it’s nice out. And I tried to go for an hour a walk every day. And the reason I originally started that, and this is going back about six or seven years was for a mental health break. Well, it has other benefits, but mental health was a big part of that. And we just got to take that and unplug when things get bad and just say, you know, there’s nothing I can do about this right now. We’ll wait till tomorrow. Know,

 

exactly. And there’s nothing, there’s nothing we can do about like all of these big scary things, there’s really nothing we can do about it. I mean, we can just kind of like, you know, take care of ourselves and be safe and navigate it the best that we possibly can, but we can’t change it, we can’t change, you know, the greater geopolitical situations, we can’t change, you know, global health issues, there’s nothing we can really do about it, we have to like kind of get really local and in a lot of cases get like so local, that it’s just about you and your family, right? And take care of that. And that’s it and not really and then there’s also like, a lot of you know, like I do the walk thing every I have a dog so he makes me a couple times a day I have to but it just being out in nature and connecting and to really focus on being present. Because that that’s all there really is you know, the future is gonna take care of us whatever is going to happen, right? Yeah, it’s so present moment.

 

So true. So one of the things you and I have been talking about on Twitter on Facebook on wherever you are we have a conversation that seems to move around us is this whole move to box and we were talking in the pre show that you made a decision to move your personal site to cadence and cadence box correct? And, and those who know this podcast to know me I’m in the middle of moving my agency site to cadence and cadence sparks and my personal site is half on cadence box and I was playing with that last night. Why did you choose cadence and cadence box over everything else out there?

 

Well, okay, so in my navigations, around the WordPress space, I kept seeing cadence and it kept just like popping. And then I had a conversation with someone and they were like, kind of gushing about it. And I’m like, Alright, I’m gonna look at this. And I have like, tons of so I set up a test site and just started playing with playing with it. And then it was like, wow, this is really, really kind of powerful. And, you know, I don’t you know, I do marketing, but I’m not like, I have to do this for my personal brand. You know, I don’t think of myself in that way. It’s just kind of like where can I be of service right? But you know, it’s important for us to like understand that. You know, we do have whether you think you do or you think you don’t, you have a personal brand, you have a reputation and people think of you and they stereotype you and they put you in boxes and they want to know and like somebody new comes along, they want to know who you are and where you come from in the most succinct way possible. So like understanding your personal brand is important. I’m not good at that. I can look at somebody else and say, Okay, this is how I would do this. And you know, people know you for this. And let’s highlight that, and I can do it for other people. But for myself, Oh, my God, I’m terrible. But I started playing with cadence, put it on my site, start playing with the blog. And literally, my site’s not that huge, but it’s old. I mean, I’ve kept the same personal sites since I think it’s 2011 2012. So it’s like 10 years old, that site I’ve had Wow. Like, killed it and restarted or anything. So there’s like, lots of stupid things I’m embarrassed about. But it’s all it’s all still there. And so there’s a history there. So to re theme it is kind of a big deal, because there’s a lot of legacy stuff. I started playing with cadence. And very quickly, I set up a staging server, I started doing it there. And I’m like, oh, gosh, I can just do this online. Right? It happens so quickly, one Sunday morning, granted, my family was like, preoccupied and leaving me alone. Distractions. But one Sunday morning, it was that easy. And the greatest thing, even beyond how easy it was, is, I chose specific templates as a part of cadence that were in the starter box, you know, I chose those things. And it forced me to rethink about how I present myself to the world. That was really the power that I and the reason why I was so excited about it is because I had to make some decisions about who I am. And how do I present myself to the world, I had to think of myself the same way I would think about, like somebody else’s brand. And it made me look like I didn’t do this cadence. Cadence forced me to think of myself differently. And it was really, it was fast. To get it switched over. It was powerful in how it changed the way I thought about things. And I’m still tweaking it and still playing with it. And then when once I once I was done, and I had everything situated, then I went into like the cadence customizer and like, did the performance enhancements. And then I ran speed tests, because I’m like, kind of a dork about speed.

 

I know.

 

It was so fast. And the reason why it was an astro to begin with was because it was a fast, lightweight theme. And cadence is that but it gives me so much more in terms of easy ways to define a brand to define my brand. Yes, things I couldn’t think through on my own because I’m like, you know how you’re like self conscious about things. I couldn’t do it for myself, if I had handed it over to someone else, they would have redesigned my site and made it like perfect, but I wanted to go through the exercise of doing it myself. And cadence changed everything for me. So I was like, This is it was it was almost like, a spiritual kind of experience of like, looking back on it and going what just happened there. I mean, sure, it was like some focus time, but I have a site that I’m actually like, kind of proud of, I’m not happy with how it came out, I still need to you know, I’m still working on it, still tweaking it, it’s never going to be 100% done. But I’m still just impressed with what Keynes was able to do for me and changing the way I thought about how I present myself to the world. It was really cool.

 

I would agree i What kind of pushed me in that group was I sat down and watched a webinar not a webinar one of the lunch and learn sessions with Spencer Foreman one day who’s a player with lots of highs and Spencers all in with Kadence as well he said Ben all in one box and I said yeah, you know and then Spencer sort of said and by the way, if you want to do some editing, you should look at a product called editor plus by extendedify and I’ve also got editor plus installed editor plus gives you some editing control in the paragraphs and stuff. And the minute he gave me that push I decided to make mine move and that’s why that’s why I want and those who know me know for the last year and a half I’ve been on the blog fence I’ve got I’ve got a beaver builder license, I’ve got an Elementor license. I’ve got a my own agency site is built on Aveda which has its own page builder. And I basically said I’m going to get this done by middle of November come hang or High Water basically and and It’s just been been a lot of work. Now. Fortunately, on the personal side, I wasn’t running a personal site at the time. The only reason why I am now is because I’m not using Facebook. So I need a place to put stuff. So my my family kind of hates me right now because they’re all like, do we have to go somewhere else? Why won’t you post this? I said, Nope, I’m not doing it if you want to stay in touch this is this is your problem, not my problem, Gui maybe, and the on the agency side. And we’re talking in a pre show, I used it as an opportunity to do a content audit. And I had done one, two and a half years ago. And I still pulled another 55 blog posts out of the out of the move. And I’m doing all the work like you want to eyesight. I’m moving everything to blocks. Then when I get everything moved to box, or dump it on a staging site, flip the theme and do the final back end stuff. And I don’t know if it’s the right way or the wrong way to do it. But with 150 blog posts and a blog that keeps adding two podcasts a week for me it’s easy way so

 

yeah, yeah, that’s the best way to do it. I mean, I’m, I’m a huge, you know, just knowing how complicated sites can be. Yeah. And if it’s, if it’s mission critical, it’s doing a staging site is just the way to do it. So I just live.

 

If I was, if I was running a membership backend, or a CRM within WordPress, there’s no way I would be doing it this way. But I’m not doing either. And the other interesting thing, and you may or may not know I did at same time, is I moved my podcast hosting the Castillo’s in the middle of all this. And I moved my email marketing to ConvertKit. I love what’s Oh, wow. Yeah, yeah, I

 

want to ask you about castles because I go simple. I mean, I don’t really podcast that much anymore. Personally, I was for a while, but I’ve kept it up there because I’m like Sunday. But I use simple. Seriously simple podcasting. I use the plugin and I’ve used it for years. And now I’m getting all the promos for Castro’s and I’m curious what benefits you’re getting from it.

 

For me test those was actually a really easy move. So I was sitting, I had run my podcast on anchor for a long time, because anchor was anchor was free hosting. And one of the things I wanted to do was get my podcast on Amazon music. And to get it on Amazon Music anchor doesn’t support that. And I had to move to cast those. And the other reason is I really liked the analytics coming out against us. It’s real. I’m an interesting podcaster and I am seeing this more and more people are picking and choosing episodes and not subscribing. So my number one source of people listen, my podcast is Google Chrome. Hmm, not a podcast catcher, which is really interesting. So the analytics for casters are really easy. The support for me is a big deal for stuff like this. Coming from a support background. And the casters team has been has been great. So what happened was I am friends like you are with Bob Dunn. I’m friends with Matt Madeiros and friends with Joe Casabona, three guys who are all on Castos, but that’s not where it came from. And I reached out to Matt one day on Twitter knowing he was in knowing he was working for caspo Matt, besides just podcasts worked for casters full time. And Matt said, you know the Castos’ team does a non doesn’t ask them anything called every noon on Tuesdays. He here’s the link, you might get something out of it. And yes, you still have problems come back to me. So I jumped on a noon on Tuesday call. And I have three tests those team members to my absolute lonesome for an hour and there was nobody else that joined the call that pay so I got all my questions and I got all my answers in and within an hour after I had made the move. The biggest thing people have to remember is when they switch podcasts those they have to redirect their RSS feed and leave the old host in place for a couple of weeks to let that populate all the other but but honestly the move was a piece of cake and I don’t regret it. From the visibility standpoint, I prefer the Casto player, especially the player, if he could play show all the episodes, which I do on a podcast page, and on the main page of my website, I prefer the individual player to the anchor player. With Castos, you can manage your podcast two ways, either in WordPress through a plugin or from the website. And I’m sure there’s some people that are gonna snarl at me for this. But I tend to manage mine through the website, not the not to player, I just find it so easy. And I don’t even think about it. And I’ve had a couple of questions along the way. And, you know, I’ve been very public about this a shout out to the Castro’s team and Craig over there, because that team has been absolutely amazing in the conversion. So I haven’t, I haven’t even looked back. And the same thing with Convert Kit. The reason I moved the reason I moved to Convert Kit, I have a lifetime Mail Poet license that will host I think my license is like 12,000 people with what I bought. And the reality is mail poet, and now owned by automatic and WooCommerce hasn’t built any automation that I’ve been looking for. And I’m trying to do some more automation stuff. So I decided Convert Kit was the place to go and, and the marriage between Convert Kit and Castoss has worked really well. So I’m really happy.

 

Great. That’s awesome. Yeah, I love Convert Kit so easy. I you know, was using Mail Chimp for many clients. And I think my husband’s business is still on it. Hate it now. It’s like they’ve made everything so complicated. Like, simple send,

 

I think if you’re gonna go to Mail Chimp, the our one of those Mail Chimp. I’ve used I’m actually Infusionsoft certified and have been and I find Infusionsoft just overkill for 99% of the people out there. I’ve I’ve used Active Campaign extensively and to be honest, the interface inactive campaign. So 20 years ago, it drives me up the wall. I think the only way to make Mail Chimp or Active Campaign work in a WordPress environment is to go to something like newsletter glue in the WordPress back end and manage it that way. I don’t think doing it natively is is worth it. And of course, Mail Chimp spam bots are now owned by Intuit in Canada. They and I still don’t understand that marriage. I really don’t into it. Now into it’s a financial services company. I don’t get it.

 

Well, if you think about Quickbooks, and Quickbooks runs, you know, so many small businesses, even some midsize businesses are using Quickbooks. So they do things like send out invoices, customer management, CRM types of things. And I think that that’s where the marriage of Intuit and Mail Chimp happens is because of customer CRM, you know, the customer relationship management that happens. And being able to mail and having that kind of seamless. It’s almost kind of like a, you know how like HubSpot has the sales end of things. And then they have the marketing end of things and those things kind of like sophomore says same. Yeah, yeah. So I kind of feel like the Intuit play was sort of almost becoming a HubSpot ish type of play, because you can do so much sales and marketing when you’ve got that customer. That customer information all in one place. And being able to personalize a message to you know, I mean, once somebody invited you into their inbox, it’s time to get personal. It’s not, you know, it’s not the same as just like, putting out a Twitter post. This is the this is a conversation where you know, your customer, you know, how they’re using your products, you know, what their challenges are, you know, what their interrelation with your business is and you personalize the mailings that you send to them based on what you know about them. So I think it makes sense.

 

Yeah, I can see that point of view. Quickbooks has run into it’s really changed their their model in the last last while the numbers when they made that bio are just extraordinary. Like I saw, I saw what they paid in the billions and now almost fell off my chair and it was like Kimberly go again. And, and I think that’s just a marker for what we’re seeing in the marketing and the WordPress spaces. worse, the market is more maturing. And we’re seeing all these mergers running around. I mean, I mean, we’ve got the the liquid web, stellar WPS of the world we’ve got now GoDaddy jumping into payment processing, I think theirs is based on sitting on top of stripe, but for recall, we’ve got WooCommerce, who’s got their own payment processing, sitting on top of stripe, we’ve got square running around being a big player, because they’re owned by Jack Dorsey who’s a multi billionaire who founded Twitter. I mean, there’s just so much going on right now in that space, that it’s just like, it’s crazy right now.

 

Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting, because a lot of you know, I mean, I know a lot of people who have, who are in the WordPress space, plugin developers, and people get an idea, they develop a plug in, and then all of a sudden, it becomes like, huge, right? It solves a problem, it solves a real world problem. And people get really lucky creating this, and then all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, my gosh, it’s turned into a business, what do I do? Right, it’s like, you’ve got a couple of people who are like building a plug in, and it becomes successful. And then there’s all these other things that have to happen with taking care of customers. Legal. You know, running a business has so many different moving parts. And in order to remain successful, it’s almost like they, they need to scale up. And if you’re, if your job is writing code, and writing, even extraordinary code, to take someone out of that skill set and say, Okay, now you’re, you’re going to have to think about legal and accounting and benefits for employees and everything. It’s like fish out of water, it’s tough. So I understand how all of the mergers and acquisitions are happening. It’s it’s hard to scale up a business. And if you’ve made something successful, that serving a community you know, you serve that community best by partnering with people who can handle all that stuff.

 

Yeah. And and it’s not, to me a surprise that a lot of them are happening with hosting comm is like, you know, there’s some people upset about that in the community. But my response would be, it gives the hosting companies another offering so they can do a package and that is a new and I both know, hosting in this business is so key, like, we’ve, I hate to go there. But you know, we all know what the the big slash new folds of the world are like, and, and I know they’re a WordPress partner, but I, I just wouldn’t go there if my life depended on it. Firstly,

 

there’s so many good people there. So

 

I know there’s great people there. But from a trying to run a site that scales it’s really

 

hard. Sure. Well, yeah, I mean, I had a hard time deciding where to finally put my, I moved to spin up WP and Digital Ocean. And run it everything that way. Because it’s just, I mean, I’ve got the technical chops to do it. I helped a friend of mine do it, who doesn’t have the technical chops to do that? I’m like, but he was having speed issues. And I’m like, this has worked out really well for me, and now he’s there. And he’s like, how do I know? You SSH and you have a key? Can’t, I just can’t so I help out a lot. But yeah, it’s the the hosting space is really interesting. I mean, obviously, you know, coming from more on the plugin side of things. A plugin company is very dependent upon their customer’s relationship with a hosting provider, because the hosting provider owns that customer relationship much more than a plugin or a theme company ever will. So you want to ensure that your your customers have a host that you know works with your product and everything. But you know, the host owns that relationship. Think about okay, if you have any kind of plugin, let’s pick something that I’m like, totally not involved in. Um, let’s say you have a plugin that does, will take WP optimize as their plugin. Yeah, so WP optimize. You haven’t installed on your site, but something’s going wrong and it’s not working. And there’s something with your hosting environment that’s causing it Not that I’ve ever experienced that there are problems with WP optimize in any hosts. But let’s say hypothetically that that’s the case. That person experiencing that problem is much more likely to go find another optimization plugin, rather than change hosts. Yeah, If you have like plugin crashes into host, the host is always going to win. So for plugin companies or theme companies, it almost makes sense for them to partner with. Yeah, I just kind of sense that that’s what’s going to end up happening. The problem was, I think, with a lot of hosting price writers are doing and I’ve got friends and family who hosts in all kinds of different places. And I’ll log in. And I’m like, Well, why did you why’d you install this, and they don’t know why something is there. So like, the environment looks like completely different in a SiteGround installation than it does in a Bluehost installation. And so people, then they move a host or something, and now my WP admin looks different. And it’s like, they don’t understand what WordPress pure WordPress looks like. They only understand what their hosting providers implementation of WordPress looks like. And I think that’s a problem.

 

And then you get guys like me who like to run the white label CMS by WP Engine. And that totally changes the admin big time. So and and one of the reasons I’ve run that plugin for years is, you know, that client that asked for admin access, that is dangerous. But with that with white label CMS, you can lock admin, so just specific parts to so I, I’ve, I’ve had to use it on occasion, it’s either that or the client ends up paying for high recovery bills, which they don’t want to pay. Right. So it’s a but it’s, yeah, we have to protect them from themselves. Sometimes they don’t know what what they’re asking for. Yeah, so it, it’s, I think, with hosting is what it comes down to is, there’s different things for different people, somebody who’s got a three page brochure site, versus somebody who’s trying to run an agency, versus I have a client who’s got 3000 3000 items in a wolf store. And they’re all They’re all different levels, right? So the 3000 items in store, I can tell you is running on a dedicated box on DigitalOcean, for exactly that reason, because then you have control over it. So you got to really kind of look at what you need, why you need it, and how you need it. And then and kind of go from there. And then also say, Okay, do I want it managed to I don’t want it manage? Do I want to pay for a care plan somebody else? Do I not want to pay for a care plan? How am I How am I going to run my backups to my backups actually work? You’ve been in that side of things. So you know where I’m coming from there. I mean, many people never test the backup till they actually need it, which is the worst mistake they can possibly make.

 

Yeah, yeah. Oh, my gosh, oh, I’ve got my backups. Yeah. But if you don’t have a tested backup, you don’t have backups. That’s right. So true. So true.

 

And you know, yours. So working in tech support we used to do on our exchange servers. When I was in healthcare, we used to do recoveries every two months to a to a dummy server to make sure we could recover exchange backups every time. And many banks do that day of data recovery days, where they actually test for regulatory reasons to make sure that their backups are in place tonight. And it’s something honestly that small business owners don’t think about, and I think, what small business owners need to look at it and say, Okay, how, how much is my website costing me? And what does it mean to my business? So I had a client recently, and I’m not going to name the client, because the whole thing went south. But he decided he was going to move his website and not tell his hosting guy, me. And he had a WooCommerce store. And whoever moved the site for made a mess of it. And along, say story short, was this particular site was making $20,000 a day. Wow. And he was down for by time he got back up, he was down for seven days. Wow. And, and it was partially because people didn’t check backups. They may didn’t check the stores. They didn’t. There’s so much integral factors. And I think what people need to do, and that’s not just about the website, it’s also about the legal the accounting, HR, anything in this businesses, if you’re not good at it, consider the cost of doing business and think about if you can do it, outsourcing that function to your business and paying somebody who’s good at it. So you can concentrate on what makes you money.

 

Right? Right. Exactly. It’s it’s just an optimization strategy. I mean, once you start, you know, any small business that wants to grow needs to offload things that they’re not good at. And focus on what they are good at so that they can grow. If you’re, if you’re trying to do everything yourself as a small business, it just like tiny anvils around your ankles when you’re trying to swim.

 

Yeah, be free. It’s so hard. It’s like I always say to people, you know, I can do my own books. I don’t like doing my books. So I get somebody to do my books. It’s it’s that simple, right? It just becomes crazy. So let’s, let’s move on for a sec. So you’ve gone, we’re talking about the whole cadence, Cadence box thing? Do you see the page builders disappearing anytime soon? Or do you think there’s going to be an integration or a merger between page builders and box? Or do you have any sense of where that’s gonna go?

 

I really, I’m a big fan of, of blocks. I’m a big fan of Gutenberg, I’m a fan of running WordPress as light as possible. Not only for security and performance reasons, but simplicity reason, because, you know, with any site that the more you try to do with your site, the more you have to untangle when things don’t work, or when you decide something else is going to work better. If you commit to. If you commit to a plugin, if you commit to a page builder, if you commit to anything, that is going to be a part of your site, it’s there, everything kind of gets interwoven. And if things are going to change in five years, you’re gonna have to untangle that if you don’t want it anymore, so I like to run as late as possible and keep things as simple as possible because I’m thinking in terms of longevity, as well as speed, as well as performance, as well as security. It’s just kind of my MO. I, you know, I’ve used Gutenberg. I’ve used Divi. I have not used home. Wait, no, I did use Beaver Builder for one thing. So I’ve, you know, had some exposure to all of them incredibly powerful. You know, the first one I was exposed to was Divi. And it allowed, it allowed my husband to do his own web pages, which was heaven to me, because before it was just like, I need a landing page. And I was like, Alright, here we go. And I was feeling everything. And this gave me some freedom because he was able to to work with Divi and he really liked it. And so he started, you know, creating landing pages on his own. And, and so it gave him you know, and what is WordPress about? It’s about empowerment. So as long as people are finding empowerment with page builders, they will continue to exist. I find it incredibly interesting that page builders are doing sort of like these cloud things like cadence has a cloud thing. Beaver Builder just announced their cloud thing. Elementor has their own hosting. There’s all kinds of like really interesting things that the page builders are doing. But you know, they are dependent upon what WordPress does, if WordPress decides to go in a certain way that makes page builders not work. You know, I mean, that’s all of us in WordPress of WordPress decides to change the laws of WordPress. And we have built our houses in the state of WordPress, we are beholden to the laws of WordPress, you know, I mean, we could always fork it and do whatever. But if you want to stay with, you know, the community and where WordPress is going on, you have to kind of be a visionary and understand, you know, what is it that you’re committing to. So that’s my take on and page builders, and I think they’re here to stay. I mean, they’re always going to be around. But the blocks blocks are so powerful. I really enjoyed some of the interesting stuff at Word Camp us that were showing, like all the creative, innovative things that are happening with blocks and block patterns and how it’s changing theming. And that’s, that’s all really fascinating, innovative, cool stuff to me. And I think that that’s going to improve how websites are built. So that’s kind of like where I am if I had to put my chips on the table somewhere. That’s where I’m putting mine. So yeah,

 

there’s a really, the really cool thing with block patterns is you can actually take a block pattern from somewhere from a repository and basically import it into your site. So I’m playing around right now with some pricing pages. And I have to admit, I’ve cheated. I’ve gone in found some bug patterns that are already created to build out those pricing pages. And there’s some really cool resources including the WordPress repository in some other places. And I and I think like anybody who wants to learn more about blocks and Gutenberg, I think a really good spot to go is go Go meet Berget over a Gutenberg times and look at some of the stuff they’re doing, and talking about on a weekly basis, because there’s a lot, there’s a lot of amazing stuff. And I’m with you, I think, to keep WordPress lightweight, you’ve got to run natively. And I think blocks are a better way to run natively than to run a page builder at this point. And one of the reasons I’m moving away from my page builder to be frank, and I think blocks, truthfully, if you have the right combination, are mature enough to build client sites on there’s a lot of people don’t think that I was looking at the time that just recording and a tweet from Leslie Sims over a newsletter goes saying, you know that she’s using a page builder, because she doesn’t think box are there. And I’m like, okay, like, it’s a it is a learning curve. There’s no questions. Yeah. But I think, what’s the right combo? It’s an easy learning curve.

 

Right? I mean, if you asked me two years ago, if or even, you know, even like last year, I wasn’t like, fully 100%. Can I do this with blacks, I was trying to, but I wasn’t real happy with what I was doing. I didn’t have. But you know, I mean, I don’t have a lot of time to let and I’m not a designer, you know, I’ve done design. But I’m not a designer and I have a higher standards. And I want to see other people’s creative designs. And that’s one of the reasons why I love cadences because it gave me those designs where I could just like, basically pull all the puzzle pieces together and say, okay, and this fits here and look at that, I wonder, how was that it gave me so much freedom and flexibility. It empowered me to be a designer. And so there’s innovation happening with blacks. And I’m really interested to see what more is coming. That’s where I’m feeling like the most energy and I’m sensing the most innovation happening right now. And, um, like the page builders, I mean, I haven’t looked at dividend a few years, I haven’t looked at Elementor, at least a year. So I’m not like hip to what innovation they’re doing. But right now, I’m most excited about what’s happening with, you know, the Gutenberg block space. So,

 

yeah, I would, I would agree. And I would also agree that, you know, for somebody new coming into WordPress, going to blocks is a natural fit. Yes, exactly. I mean, I would think, you know, it was funny when page builders came out four years ago, or whenever it was, everybody said, oh, a page builder, yuck. And everybody’s using them. And now a lot of the world is saying Gutenberg Yak, well, you know, what’s going to happen in three years? Right? It’s, it’s a natural progression. And the biggest, the biggest problem is, and the reason we’re not seeing a big shift right now is, if you’re using a page builder, you’ve got all kinds of shortcuts and having just gone going through that process right now. It’s almost a total site rebuilt. And that is, there’s no easy way to move from a shortcode base page builder to a box system without rebuilding pages one at a time. That’s yeah,

 

you know what, there’s, hey, WordPress people listening to this. There’s a product need right there.

 

Yeah, a big one.

 

Somebody has built a conversion plugin for page from page builders to blocks. That’s the that’s the winner right now. I don’t know how much of a winner it’ll be in 10 years. But somebody, they’ll there’ll be a plugin for it. I’m sure. That’s how WordPress works.

 

Yeah, now, I want to circle back to something that Word Camp us which you were involved with. Matt did not do a state of the world of the word dis time. Is he planning on doing one down in the world? Or do you know what’s going on with that?

 

I believe there’s gonna be a standalone one. That’s what don’t quote me. Well, maybe you can quote me on it. I’m okay. Being told I was wrong. He’s gonna do a state of the word eventually, but something, something what happened? And so I think it’s going to happen on its own. So I believe it’s coming.

 

Yeah, I thought so too. I just wanted to clarify, cuz I know No, traditionally, it’s always been done at WordCamp. Us. And the other traditional interesting thing in past is Toronto’s word camp, as always been held the weekend before word camp us and with the pandemic. Of course, we haven’t we haven’t held that so there’s always a Toronto one. There’s always speculation on what’s gonna happen at WordCamp. US because it’s right the week before It’s quite, quite interesting. I think we’re going to be kind of in this virtual mode for another six months, whether we like it or not, honestly, like I, I don’t see an end to this pandemic coming. I wish I did. But that’s just the reality of it all. And I think we just need to keep doing some of these online meetups we talked about and keep working away on what we need to do to keep the community going and certain try to help each other. Like honestly, like, give back to the community and try and jump in and help some people. And I think that’s important. Yeah,

 

there’s a lot of things happening that are that have been really cool that have come out of all of this, you know, like, there have been some meetups that have been very localized, then become more like globally. You find the global audience like Dan Mimi’s London meetup found a global audience, right. Dan, maybe it’s just like, amazing.

 

Well, yes.

 

So cool. I love Dan, maybe when open premiered at Word Camp us two years ago, the movie we made about the WordPress community. And Matt Mullenweg showed it at state of the word. I was like, this is like crazy. Hey, Dan, I’m gonna sit next to you in case I have a breakdown. Who’s Mr. Mental health you can save me. It was so cool, though to like, share that moment and to sit there and watch that happen. But Dan, yeah, Dan Scott Wordfest. You know, there, there’s, I’m going to help out with some of the communication efforts with Wordfest because that’s coming up again soon. Yep. There’s tons of meetups around the world that are doing really good things. Phoenix I know was got really great meetups and they’re, you know, doing them online so people can jump on to meetup.com and find the Arizona ones since they they do great work. So but yeah, hopefully, next year, we’ll open things up a little more and we can hang out again.

 

Yeah, it’s long overdue. Thanks for the amazing chat today. Kathy, somebody wants to get a hold of you. Where is the best way?

 

My website zant.com. You can go see what I did with cadence. Tell me what you think. You can also find me I’m more active on Twitter @kathyzant.

 

Be sure to go stalk Kathy.

 

Great conversation Rob. Always good to talk to you.


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