Episode 411: InstaWP Update With Vikas Singhal

Show Summary

Rob Cairns talks to Vikas Singhal about the latest with InstaWp

Show Highlights:

  1. What is InstaWp?
  2. New Features for InstaWp.
  3. InstaWp’s road map.

Show Notes

Hey everybody, Rob Cairns here and today I’m here with my guest Vikas from InstaWp. from InstaWp How are you today, my friend?

I’m good. Thank you, Rob, and thanks for having me over.

Now it’s their second appearance on the SM show, and I’m glad to have you back. You’ve been doing some exciting work lately, and as I say, we have to support our DEBS in the Community, so it’s great to have you one. One of the things I’ve noticed lately is you’ve been getting more involved in the community, haven’t you? And that’s a really good thing. Didn’t you just hire a community manager for instant WP as well?

  1. Yeah. So we posted that on Twitter and got a lot of response and we ended up hiring somebody from India and he will be joining I think in one week or so.

Good. And that’s that’s a big step for you guys saying, hey, we need to do some more of this right as as if that’s.

Yes, definitely we need to be connected with the community. We need to know where people are, how people are thinking, where they. Growing in order to. Put them better via the software which we are building, so that’s that’s the idea. We don’t want to be in a place where we are just building stuff which we think is good, but it doesn’t actually work with anybody.


Yeah. And we all know the WordPress community is pretty vibrant vocal. Is a good word. To put it right and you need it.


That’s a good word. You’re laughing at. Me, because we all know it’s true.

Yeah, it has been become, I think vocal in the recent past couple of months also, which is I think miss from my perspective is really good. Means if if, as as long as is like respective respectful conversations and constructive feedbacks, it’s always good. For the community in general.

You know, and and I would say, you know, one of the things I treasure most of why I keep working with workers is the community. People like you, people like that friend of ours, Mark Westgard, who will get into. You’ve done some more quickly. There he is again, showing up for my podcast. He should. He should just start paying me a loyalty, you know, for. But that that’s funny and.

There’s everywhere, man. Mark is awesome and he’s everywhere. Yep.

Yes. Yeah. And people like, you know, the the Courtney Robertsons of the world and Marcus Burnetts. We’re we’re we’re really blessed and the and the the list goes on. Spencer Formans and Matt. So you know we are, we are truly blessed to have the community we have despite all the problems we have. I mean the reality is when you get a big group of people together, you can always have the difference, right no matter what.

Mm-hmm. Of course, it’s it’s how family works.

Yeah, and it is family. There’s no question you’ve been doing a lot with instant WP since we really talked to last time. And we’ll go back to that Mark Westgard guide because we can one of the things he did was the integration with W forms and instant WP recently. How did that come about? Did you? Approach, mark he approach you and how did that? Kind of play itself.

So I guess Mark was looking for a demo solution for his own farm product, right? And it’s an excellent farm. And he. Yeah. And then he basically looked at our product and within like, 24 hours, he was figure out he was actually playing around with API, which we have already released. And then maybe another 24 hours go by. And then he has developed an integration with instead of.

No question. Yep.

And he is using that integration on his own website. So he is a customer, he has integrated with us and means within three days means I was just amazed on how much progress he made. But it was all him.


On the integration front, but we are actually glad to have this because a lot of people asked us can we like use our own farm and then spin up product demos of our plugins or themes and then customize the form as revealed. And this form is the. Answer for that.

You know, I and I think it’s, you know, it’s a really good answer for a multitude of things I’ll say on this podcast plate regular much then it gets multiple times on the show and it’s actually the form product that I run every day, all day on my site and my clients.

No. OK.

Nights and one of the reasons I do is because. The integration with Cloudflare Turnstile, it’s just so seamless and it’s snowing families in their tracks and it makes life easy. So good for you guys for getting that done. That’s a that’s a nice little cool in your hand.

It is.

What other integrations did I see somewhere on Twitter that you just came up with another integration method under this record recently? Or was my idea?

Yeah, we just. Like moments ago, I released or released integration with local WP and any other like a local development tool. So you basically can upload your entire local website to instead of DP. There are a number of reasons why you wanted to do that. Basically let’s say you want to have like a copy online on. Flowers right means you need like a URL to share with your client or something. You can still do that with local LP, but obviously it’s kind of janky. It only works when your laptop is alive. But it also works with like Zam, Mamp or Laragon whatever people are using these days and it was a lot in demand actually in the recent months and then we finally developed.

And is there an easy way which kind of brings me to my next question and I don’t know if I asked it the last time we chatted to if you do some stuff in instant WP, is it easy to export out of instant WP dot? To a local site there.

Understand. Yeah. So you can do like a one click export to local and we are building export integration with others as well. And we are also build working with simply static so that you can export a static version of your website.

  1. I’m not sure. OK. So from this deep perspective, the static vision always goes faster than.

Speed. Security. Yeah, everything. If it if it’s like, if it’s like a fairly static website. Anyway, I think it’s a great idea to host it. And also like speed and security are two. I mean WordPress kind of pain points. I will not say flaws because people don’t actually understand them very well. You know that right and static having static website can solve some of that.

Being in the. Security space and I think you know, has been a big part of my agency. In that space, I would argue that it’s a pain point, no matter when you put a website online. Kind of a model in my business that it’s not if you’ll be have to twin and how do you recover from that happen? Sooner or later everybody’s going to get compromised in their whether it’s in the web, work for work or their personal life with.


A bank account or. Credit card, unfortunately, and I’ve shared this publicly, I’ve been the. Put the inside and it didn’t do that. So. With my with talent and I’m a security guy, so if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.

Right. It doesn’t. It doesn’t really matter. The scammers are now really, really smart. And with the advent of AI, you can just you can’t even imagine how far that will go.

Yeah. And actually, it’s funny and not that I won’t turn this into a security podcast, but since we’re talking about, it’s worth mentioning that one of the biggest reasons for hacking is cookies, that there’s still long games and system and that. I think Thomas Reef and Kathy Zant, we both know quite well, have posted that recently and said, you know, it’s an issue with logs and cookies and that’s even more of an issue than believe it or not themes and plugins every day. It’s just a little interesting.

No, that’s interesting.

So the. How do you? Handle Security Saigon instead without giving away any under the hood.

If you mean by like the instead of WP dashboard or the platform itself, we follow standard security practices both for plug in and and the dashboard. So we used Laravel internally and Laravel has.

Yeah, exactly.

Very strong security built in as long as you use the framework correctly, which is like true for everything, right? And also for the plug in we try to use that, but you never know when a new vulnerability is found in your own plug.


I think it’s important for plug in vendors to quickly release picks and notify, and I think that’s the best way to go about it and also from the from the login perspective we offer two factor authentication. We try to expire quickly cookies quickly depending upon how you configure it. If you have remembered your account, then yeah.


And I have worked in the security industry for like over 12 years. I was a penetration tester, so I know a little bit about it. That helps a lot.

No, I I think it does. It gives you a totally different perceptive than somebody is just building a plug in or even worse going to AI and saying building a plug in and one more year lap. And this AI doesn’t take him the best security practices. It’s a good starting point, but it’s not.


Did. And. Maybe your prompt. You can just add like means follow all the best security practices, but even I doubt that will help completely. Security is.

I tried those.

So security is obviously a different topic by itself, right means developers learn to develop great stuff, but they but nobody teaches them how to develop. Purely, I think that’s that’s something a lot of developers should learn, and there’s I think there’s a lot of good stuff on workplace.org on how can you develop things securely by following those sanitization and. Those kind of principles.

And what I would say if they developing anything, look at the guys like all for saving his team over. Touch that they do some testing on plugins to help you out, so look at venues like that and companies like that. They’re not the only one. Really, that’s no question.


Can you share what your numbers are like these days? Like how many active users do you have? How many? Sure, 3. Users, do you have? Etc etc.

So on the platform, we have about 25,000 free users now. And about you can say. About 5% of them are paying users right? That’s typically one of the main pain points for us right today or nowadays is converting our free users to pay. And it’s not about converting from a business standpoint, it’s about understanding our use.

That’s terrible.

This better so that we don’t attract the users who never convert, right? I think for a healthy business you should have a mix of both, right? People who actually want to try your product and at some point it can be a year later or. Any point of time they actually want to upgrade to a paid plan, so that is something which we are trying to solve and make it like a like an easy path for people to understand the value. I think the keyword here is the value, right, the the more the.

Yes, I agree.

And the value of the product when they upgrade because if you are paying like $6 a month to us, you should be actually making let’s say five times of that using our software, right? Or it should make that much life easier for you, at least the $6 worth, right? So. That is the. Idea.

Yeah, I think I think that’s the key in your marketing. Have you looked at doing anything like an e-mail newsletter to those users and saying, you know, here’s some? Good use cases. Why a pay plan would be better, because I still think there’s big value in e-mail. Marketing to be honest.

It is 100%. So we did Black Friday. We we we send regular newsletters to our users to newsletters every month and then they also get like a chain of emails when they sign up and they can always unsubscribe whenever they want. But we did so e-mail marketing for us really played out well when when we did the Black Friday. Campaign and we sold over like 400 licenses in two days. So that was amazing.

Awesome. That is amazing. That’s like well done. Those are numbers that are not heard of in our space very often because.


Yeah, and community responded really well because one more thing which I found that WordPress community in general has been spoiled with discounts right all over.


I don’t know if you know that so and you obviously you know that. I mean since you, if you notice all the large like in developers they offer amazing discounts all the time. And I I told to myself, oh man, I have to follow the same. I have to follow the same thing. Maybe not.

I do.

Right, you don’t need to actually follow the exact same thing. But giving them regular discounts have a feeling of means it it has to be balanced out right. You cannot just keep giving discounts because that discounted price becomes your regular price then right. So.

Yeah, I agree.

Doesn’t really work that way.

It’s funny you. You you mentioned the discounts and I don’t know if you saw my tweet around Christmas, but I upped all my rates by 25% for next year. Possible every. And. I don’t have the guy up pull my legs. I cancelled all my grandfathered in pricing. With a couple exceptions. So I just said forget this and you know I had some clients scream at me. I must say that. And my response is if you don’t see the value in what I’m giving you, then maybe you’re better off going elsewhere anyway. Like I’m OK with that. And so.

Thanks. Yeah, that can make your decision right means clients have to make that they have to.

Make a choice. Yeah. So I think one of the things we do in WordPress as it’s a service and you hit the nail on the head is we keep offering discounts. And I think that sometimes undervalues what we do and that’s a problem.

And WordPress is in general cheap as it is right means you get like 10 sites licensed in what like 50 bucks? And this is not sustainable over a period of time, I would like to solve that at some point with instead of WP by doing a plugin and team license integration, but that is like 3 months down the line, but I feel that there is a huge imbalance. The first imbalance is that if somebody wants to buy just a one site license it. Is very expensive. Yeah, not everybody is an agency. Not everybody is a freelancer. So for end users, it becomes really difficult by going to these vendors different different vendors and then purchasing these licenses and then that end up costing like the the startup amount itself is like $500 plus when you want to buy, let’s say 4-5.

It does.

And plug it right. But it shouldn’t be like that, it shouldn’t. It means I should be just paying like 49 bucks for the 99 bucks, and I should get like, all my core excess core essential plugins, right? Which needed for like a membership site or whatever site. So I think that is a huge problem to solve and we should be doing something.


About it.

Yeah, I I would agree kind of the way I handle. Plug in licenses is different than most agencies, unless it’s a security plug-in or. A backup plugin. The my users and my clients are on their own. They cover their own plugin costs I. Don’t want any part. And one of the reasons for. It is frankly as if a client picks up and decides they don’t want to use my services anymore. They want to go somewhere else. They’re not in alerts saying, oh, I have to pick up all these plugging costs. They know up front what they’re doing. So I take the other coach and say the client, it’s your responsibility. You figure it out and I’ll help you figure it out. But.


So painful I’m not pain. It’s the same.


It’s the same reason why, as agencies, we encourage clients to register their own domain needs ownership, right? So I’m very much in, in the ownership and the self empowerment.

That’s good. And and that’s the philosophy of miss owning your own data and owning your own stuff, right with WordPress itself. But I think as I said again means end clients end up paying a huge amount and agencies they pay, they have to buy like a 10 site or 100 site license. So I think that’s a huge imbalance which. Can be solved at some.

Point, we’re talking integrations, we talked about the plans, we talked to the one what is next on your right.

Yeah. So two things are coming up huge one is instead of WP Live which is our hosting platform. So. So far, you and everybody has seen our staging solution, which is a one click staging website and then the next part will be one click go live so you can just go live with with your staging sites. Not only you can go live with our own platform, you can connect like run cloud or grid pain or all those kind of control panels to because we don’t want any vendor lockets, right? We are against that. So we want to keep it open. So that is one second thing which is coming huge is. Vast, which is website is a service. Lot of agencies are looking for solutions to sell pre-made templates along with hosting.


With like a very basic one, click checkouts so and we are now empowering over 20. Excuse me, the number is now 35 plus who are now selling via instead of WP. So for 2024, my goal is to like build products which helps with agencies growth, right? Freelancers and agencies can actually build solutions around instead of WP which helps them grow their.

Business. The last one I find really interesting because. That sector is starting to take off big time, especially with small businesses that look at the price of the website. And I say I don’t want to spend 3 grand to start. I’d rather pay a monthly fee and and jump on that. And I think that’s that whole marketplace is kind of changing and it’s easier for small business as well 50 or 60 bucks a month sometimes. Or $100 a month or $200 a month and they spend 3 grand up front. So I think that that market is about to explode in a big way, right.


That is, that is amazing.

And I think it’s the only way for WordPress to take on the weeklies and the square spaces of the world.

I was about to say that exactly that that when when an agency owner or the word press work pressor wants to fight against these fixes and waves of the world. I think Vas can be an amazing. Thing there and then they they offer, so they offer best of both worlds, right. You have a ready made website but if you want further further customization to it you can buy our services right? But you don’t need to pay as you said 3 grand up front to get like a basic output you get. Output day on day zero right away, so that’s that’s the idea.

So. So true. Have you looked at any integrations so people can do testing? Because we know a lot of user base uses instant WP for testing for like security plugins or anything around that. The.

Sorry, you got cut off, Rob, maybe.

It’s OK. Have you have you worked at any security plug-in? Integration so that your users can do some security testing in instant WP. Have you have you explored that?

  1. We did integrate with.

Ave. at all.

We did integrate with web scan so it is built into the platform, so all staging if you create a staging website with Insta so you can scan it with the vulnerabilities and if you have another. Another point is that if you have a live website you can install our plugin. Then we can do the scanning for you. On that website, so both both are scalable and this is this is general vulnerability scan, not like a malware scan. I would like to do that with some plugin at some point because developing malware scanner ourselves is going to be huge huge task.

Yeah, you’re you’re almost better off. I think going to somebody like a patch stack, I know. Solid WP did that. Formerly I thins and they’ve partnered on all their stuff with Patch Stack. I think they’re almost better off to to choose a vendor and go there and say let’s work on a partnership together.


And we have been actually talking with them very recently with Oliver. I think they have.

Than develop that scanner. On your.

Great product, I do too.


And he’s one of my favorite people in the security space. He does an amazing job. And I’m. I’m so there with him. So you know, I I think his team is is.


Great. Is there any other things you see for instant? WP coming down the road that we haven’t talked about.

A lot of stuff, as I said, means for now our focus is building solutions which agencies can use to build their business on so hosting VAS and a lot of stuff with our staging plugin and remote management, something like what managed WP offers, but in a much sleeker manner. And and we are also trying to enter into the hosting providers world where a lot of hosting companies are now partnering with. Us. To enable, enable their playground. So a lot of companies in Europe have now started using instead of WP, so you know a lot of product companies in the WordPress world like gravity farms. And others have already studied using our solution. Same goes with hosting companies as well. They need like a one click demo creator and then the Democrat sites can be migrated into the hosting platform. So how cool is that so people can actually start with using WordPress right away rather than like creating an account and then buying your hosting plan blah.

Edit that’s cool.

So that also like reduces friction for new users into the WordPress.

World and I think reducing friction is a big been overlooked lately and number of places, so it’s really good on you guys for tackling that one.


That’s the.

A firm belief that if WordPress had a better onboarding overall, not just like creating a website but end to end, then mixes and we please do not actually need to exist. They exist, they are good businesses. I don’t have any problem with them, but due to the gap which we have, these guys are thriving, right? But if we fix those gaps, I can, I think we can fix the leaky bucket where people are going into the other systems and then keep them or retain them even better.


Now I agree with that and you can. Toss Shopify into that mess too. By the way. Just.

100% and that that also I think Shopify solves another problem with the scalability with WordPress. I think that should be also solved.


Yeah. I I think part of the problem is scalability and more precious people think they can stay on cheap hosting. And to be fair, in some countries economics play into the work of schemes. So that’s why you’re still cheap hosting plans. But we all know that if you want to scale properly, you got to go to a proper hosting plan and for an ecommerce. Like that could take you back like $100 US a month. And we gotta realize there’s a big difference between $100 a month plan and a $50 month plan and a $20.00, a month planning. And users don’t look at what the plans give you. So we got to start to really drill that into people that say scalability matters.

Percent. Yep, totally understandable.

Is there anything else that you wanted to touch on to do? With instant WP today.

No, we’ll be just that that we’ll be at what Camp, Asia, what camp Europe and we’ll be looking forward to meet everybody physically. Person in person meets are always great.

Yeah. And go see it because he’s a great guy and spend some time with him and his team because they’re always pretty. Openly hearing your suggestions and your comments. I’ve had the pleasure many times. So thank you for that. If somebody wants to talk about instant WP has the best way to get a hold of.

Yeah, I’m on X slash Twitter vikas programmer. I’m also on LinkedIn so you can get hold of me or you can just click on live chat on our website.

Good. Thanks, sweet kiss for. This have an amazing day, my friend. Be well.


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