One of our clients recently recommended that I listen to a podcast by a guy named Ray Edwards, a business expert with a huge online following. I listened to it while I was running at the gym, and am glad I did, because what he said will affect people involved in WordPress—you and me.
In this podcast, Ray covered what he felt are the top trends to watch for heading into 2015.
- The continued rise of high-quality video for the purposes of marketing and selling.
- The meteoric, explosive growth of podcasting as a marketing channel, and the end of “old school marketing” inside podcasts.
- The dramatically higher bar that has been set for content marketing to be successful.
- A major shift away from “homebrew” website solutions, and the shift toward turnkey systems.
- The crucial importance of the power of proper association.
- The “thinning of the herd” that will eliminate the shallow, the con artists, and the opportunity seekers… and create an extraordinary advantage for those who are genuine original thinkers, strong personalities, and world changers.
- The absolute necessity of being more than “10% better” than your competition; the absolute necessity of creating your own category.
The highlighted items are particularly prescient and very applicable to the WordPress community. The game is changing, folks. In October, I posted “Is WordPress Over the Hill”, stating that WordPress is moving up the value chain and no longer suited for recreational bloggers, portfolio sites, and the like. Based on the response, I could tell it hit a nerve. Our most recent post, written by Cliff, was a response to a claim that self-hosted WordPress is no longer worth it for the average person due to the security issues and more.
The landscape is shifting rapidly. Enough so, that I dare say the highlighted statement is no longer entirely accurate:
Sure, you get the code for free, but by the time you figure out hosting, security, setup, and much more—basically, if you do it well—it can be more expensive and more time consuming to go with WordPress than any number of other solutions. If one of those lower-cost solutions can meet their general needs, it is often not really worth it for the average person or very small business to use self-hosted WordPress.
Perhaps it should read as follows:
WordPress is a web software you can use to create a beautiful website
or blogif you have the money or really know what you are doing or want to to spend time learning. We like to say that WordPress is both free and pricelessexpensive at the same time.
The truth is increasingly that only businesses with a budget or savvy individuals, with the desire for more advanced tools, are likely to get long-term value from WordPress.
That Ray Edwards would refer to self-hosted WordPress as “homebrew” is telling for WordPress and people ought to take heed. The moat is at risk. He literally says he doesn’t recommend hosting your own website anymore if you are serious about business, and that he would not go the same route for his site should he need to redo it.
He recommended two options for good platforms:
- Rainmaker. (We love the Rainmaker Platform, because it’s perfected WordPress for their target audience.)
Squarespace takes care of tools, security, hosting, support and more under one roof for a very affordable price. People love it. I send people who need sites to Squarespace all the time for that very reason. Recently, I helped a friend build a portfolio site with them, and it was exactly what she needed. Super simple, done in a day, and zero follow up questions heading my way.
That concerns me, because I don’t think WordPress has a truly compelling answer to this. Everyday I am out and about hearing that WordPress is too hard and that Squarespace is the way go to. No one says to check out WordPress.com, and Squarespace is cherry picking these customers like crazy. As their needs grow, all Squarespace has to do is keep adding the tools that its customers request—likely through an app store, which helps them keep their monthly signup fees low.
I think this is a terrible situation overall, because the world needs what WordPress represents: community, freedom, democracy, and meaning. WordPress means something. The culture behind it is powerful and hard to replicate. It’s important to protect. It’s important to keep the doors open to the newbies and let them grow with us rather than us outgrow them.
I don’t believe there are enough turnkey solutions for WordPress right now at various price points that offer various levels of value.
This needs to change. WordPress professionals must support customers and their need to, as Ray Edwards says:
- Thrive despite a “thinning of the herd.”
- Be more than “10% better” than their competition.
- Have the time to create amazing video, podcasts, and content, which means less time
“fixing” technology problems.
We in the WordPress community love to tinker, but we must acknowledge that ambitious people with money to spend on quality have zero tolerance for it. As Ray points out, the stakes are higher than ever for them to succeed. The value absolutely has to be there.
Next week, I’ll share my thoughts on how we can answer this as a community, along with lessons Cliff and me have learned so far with Evermore. We’re actively trying to make an impact and help lead the way in solving this issue.