Owning Our Own Platform and Responding to WordPress Hit Pieces

Episode 26 October 14, 2021 00:23:43
Owning Our Own Platform and Responding to WordPress Hit Pieces
WP Review
Owning Our Own Platform and Responding to WordPress Hit Pieces

Hosted By

Joe Casabona

Show Notes

Last week’s Facebook outage brought an onslaught of platitudes from people talking about how terrible Facebook is, and how you should own your own platform. But even as a developer myself, my thoughts are a little different.

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Episode Transcript

Hey, real quick. Before we get started, I want to tell you about my membership, the Build Something Club. Now, over there, you can get ad-free extended episodes of my main podcast, How I Built It. You get them a day early. But you also get access to a bunch of extra content including my livestream archives, extra video tutorials ideas I do, and behind the scenes build-outs of WordPress sites and stuff I'm doing with the block editor. If you are interested in that, you can sign up for just five bucks a month or 50 bucks a year. That's over at [buildsomething.club]. Again, five bucks a month or 50 bucks a year. That's over at [buildsomething.club]. Welcome to WP Review, a show that provides analysis on what's happening in the WordPress space and what it means for users and business owners in the ecosystem. I also tell you about helpful tools to build better WordPress websites. This podcast is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro. My name is Joe Casabona. Now let's get on with the review. Hey everybody. Welcome. Welcome to Episode 26 of the WP Review. It is the week of October 11th as I record this. And honestly, since the last few weeks, it's been a little bit of a slow news cycle. All of the news broke about the acquisitions, which I talked about in Episode 25. But since then there hasn't been a lot going on. So I think I'm going to take a little bit of extra time in the main segment today. But there are a few top stories that I want to mention. The first is from WPTavern. This caused some hubbub on Twitter, where else? The next web publishes a Storyblok-Sponsored Hit Piece on WordPress. And indeed, the next web did publish a blog post called Developers Hate WordPress and So Should Marketers. It was sponsored, I guess, by Storyblok. Though it's not super clear in this article. Let's see. Maybe it's towards the bottom of the article. This post is brought to you by Storyblok. So yeah. So Storyblok, leading headless CMS Paid for a hit piece on the next web. And a lot of people in the WordPress space were pretty upset about this. Understandable. You don't want people talking poorly about something that you love. Right. But, this is very reminiscent to me of the Wix WordPress stuff that happened earlier this year, towards the beginning of this year. I don't think we in the WordPress space should concern ourselves with hit pieces and negative ad campaigns. I think the fact that WordPress powers over 40% of the web and Woocommerce powers, like a quarter of the web, a little more than that. I think those numbers speak for themselves, right. And people are going to try to comment at the top talk, If you will. I don't think we should get mad at those things. The people who are putting them out just don't know. They're not creative. They just don't know what else to do. So we can't really get our pitchforks out every time we see some negative or “hit piece” or advertising on WordPress. It's probably going to happen a lot. People inside the WordPress space are critical of WordPress. Maybe that's a little different, right? It's kind of like, you know, I can call my brother a jerk, but if you call my brother a jerk, we're going to have a problem. But you know, it's just something that I think it's a lot of wasted energy to get mad every time somebody speaks poorly of WordPress. You know, I have my druthers about WordPress, obviously. I've made them pretty clear on this show. But, I think we could probably spend our energy doing something more constructive than getting mad at “hit pieces”. And actually, you know, as I record this today, there's a book I read every day called the Daily Stoic - 366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and… Sorry, I lost the cover as I was saying that. 366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living. It's by Ryan Holiday, and it is about stoicism. And today, for October 14th, as I read this is, don't get mad, help. And it's all about, you know, if you see an action that you don't like, instead of getting mad, help the person. You know, otherwise it's just useless anger. And so, when you see hit pieces like this, don't be uselessly angry. Talk to people using Storyblok or people using Wix and talk about the benefits of it or just forget about it. People are gonna say what they don't like about certain things. People in the WordPress space have certainly done it with other tools. So, you know, I think that's my take on the whole Storyblok sponsored “Hit Piece”. Now, the fact that the next web published it and there they were supposed to be a good news outlet for technology, they used to be. You know, I think it's impor taste and I think it says more about their credibility as a journalism outlet than it does about WordPress or a Storyblok. So, there you go. On to happier news, Twenty Twenty-Two, the new default theme that will accompany the release of 5.9 has been announced. And boy, does it look pretty? I am so excited to dive into this theme. It's going to have a focus on full-site editing. It's got a lot of really good starter templates. It's going to take advantage of a wide network of page templates, headers, and footers and other patterns. And again, it just looks great. I'll link it in the show notes. You'll be able to find those over at wpreview.io/25. But this is being actively developed. You can watch the github repo if you want and download it, and mess around with it. It's also going to ship with a range of alternate color schemes, and again, they look real nice. There's this blue that I really like in there. So great work as always by the WordPress open source project, default theme team. They've just killed it the last few years. Just doing a great job with the work they're doing. And Twenty Twenty-Two looks to continue that legacy. I don't know if it's a legacy. But the trend, you know, they look to continue what they've been doing so well for the last few years. The last thing I want to mention is something that David Bisset, Dimension Media on Twitter. I'm sure you know who he is. He's been one of the main organizers of WordCamp Miami forever and ever. And he is an integral part of Post Status. He tweeted within the last week paying attention to WordPress page builders, Gutenberg and third-party sites like Wix and Squarespace. Maybe add Notion to the list. Super Builder is a drag and drop landing page builder for Notion. And you can check it out over at [super.so/builder]. I haven't tried this yet. Looks really interesting though. There's a video on how to do it. There are features and components. Now, people using Notion are not new to the idea of using Notion pages as kind of public pages. But this idea kind of brings again like a block editor style component to Notion, which honestly, Notion is, I've been getting more into it. I'm not fully there yet, but it's really nice. And it's like…I don't know, I don't understand how they make money. But it's…you can basically do everything for free almost. Now, Super Builder itself is also free. But to get it up and running with a custom theme in domain, you need a paid super account at $12 per site per month, which is still pretty. A pretty decent price for hosting. So the builder itself is free. If you don't care about themes, or, you know, don't mind just linking to a straight up Notion page or redirecting to that Notion page, It looks like you can continue to use it. I'll probably put a video out if not on my main YouTube channel and definitely for members on how this works. But it looks super interesting. Something to watch. Okay. So today's main segment is do we really need to own our own platform? But before we get into that, I do want to tell you about our sponsor, GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro is an experience tailored specifically to the needs of web designers and developers, and helps them more efficiently manage their work and deliver results to their clients. Combining website, client and project management, GoDaddy Pro is an integrated solution made by and for web professionals. Whether you're new to web design or looking to grow your business, you'll find the tools, products, guidance, and support to help you deliver results for clients. At the heart of GoDaddy Pro is the Hub. From one intuitive dashboard, the hub seamlessly brings your sites, clients, and projects together. Manage and monitor all of your client's WordPress sites from a single place. No more juggling multiple client passwords. With one click, perform bulk updates, backups, security checks, no matter where your client's sites are hosted. You will save time and free up your day. Integrated project management makes it easier to keep track of your client communications and deliver projects on time. Electronically sign, notarize, and store documents. You can create a visual timeline to break down projects into smaller tasks to stay on track and on time. Access all of your client accounts with single sign-on through a tailored shopping experience by products that help clients grow their business like powerful ecommerce stores using WooCommerce. You can always reach dedicated, knowledgeable customer support 24/7. And on top of that, you'll find a thriving community of web designers and developers who share advice, insights, and learning opportunities. GoDaddy Pro is free to join. Head over to go.me/wpreview to get started. That's go.me/wpreview. Thanks so much to GoDaddy Pro for sponsoring this, and every episode of the WP Review. All right. So let's talk about our main segment, which is owning our platform. And if you want to get just a full blog post version of this, I will link it in the show notes. But it's over at [casabona.org]. So last week's Facebook outage brought the onslaught of common takes we hear when something like this happens. Cause to go outside, read, achieve world peace, you know, the standard responses to a social media platform. We all hate, but use, go down. It goes down. But in the WordPress space, there were also the predictable platitudes about how you should really own your own platform. And my question for those people and something to consider is, do we really need to own our own platform? A few years ago, my wife and I went to visit her uncle in Colorado, near Denver. As we drove from the airport to his house, he pointed out a concept I didn't think actually existed in the United States. And that's unincorporated land. See, I'm from the Northeast. I grew up in New York and unless you go upstate, every inch of the land in the Northeast and in New York City specifically is definitely incorporated. Now, unincorporated land if you don't know is generally land that doesn't have a local governance and either deflects to the state or federal level. But for all intents and purposes, you're living pretty free from local laws and taxes at least, from what I understand. And it's easy for many to think it would be great living completely outside society. We wouldn't have to do those things that society or governments force us to do that we don't want to do. Living by your own rules, making it on your own. And I have no doubt that some could do that. But most, myself included, can't. And if you need schools, running water, or roads and a nearby hospital, then you shouldn't build a house in the middle of nowhere because the power went out in your apartment. You won't suddenly be able to completely survive off the grid because of what's In most cases, a short-lived inconvenience. Businesses can't survive off the grid either. Imagine now that you open a store next to your cabin in the woods, and there are no roads to your store. So people need to exert some effort to get there. But what you offer isn't wholly unique and most people can get what you offer at the local mall or on Amazon. See? owning your own platform is great. But you need to be where your audience is. And the truth is most won't follow you to whatever place you want them to be. Or at least they won't stay there. So there are places where they hang out already. And there are things that are part of their routines and habits. Facebook is one. Perhaps slack is another. Adding a place where they don't already go and don't really have to go just isn't going to jive with them. How many different communities are you a part of? And then how often do you think? I wish this was on Slack because I have that app open. I don't feel like having a discord opener. I don't feel like having circle open. And aside from that, there's also the maintenance part of it. Again, if you own your own cabin in the woods with your own store in the woods, you've got to figure out where running water is coming from. You've got to figure out where heat and food are coming from. Earlier this year, I launched a community on circle and got a lot of questions as to why I didn't roll my own. And the honest to goodness answer to that is I try not to inflict mind numbing pain upon myself. Now with enough time, I could have gotten BBpress or BuddyPress or some other tool working the way I wanted it to. I have that skill, but I don't want to do that because it would take up a lot of time and energy that I didn't need to spend there. See, that's the problem with a lot of people flying your own platform flag. They have the skill. There are lots of tech people in the WordPress community. And there are lots of people who can put things together. But in the wider WordPress community, many aren't that tech savvy. They know enough to get by. And the truth is, not everyone can build their own platform. Those who do might not have the time to build and support one. And not everyone has the money to have one developed. And like I said earlier, if most of your audience is already on Facebook or YouTube or Twitch, there's no reason to think they will follow you wherever you want them to go. That means your own platform is a waste of time and money. Not to mention, owning your own platform won't save you from the outages that Facebook experienced. It just means that when they happen, you have to get them fixed Instead of being able to dunk on Facebook or Twitter. And Facebook going down is proof. They own every aspect of their presence from the servers to email. And one issue literally took everything down. So what lesson do we take away from the whole Facebook down incident? The lesson we take away isn't to rebuild your business somewhere else. Don't build a cabin off the grid because your power went out for a few hours. Don't make your audience follow you into the great unknown. Go where your audience is. But you should also make sure you can reach your audience if and when that platform goes down or disappears. Stay on Facebook and build your email list. Because even if your email service provider disappears or gets bought by a company that you hate, a CSV of email addresses is something that you can take anywhere. All right. So hopefully I answered the question of should we really need to own our own platform? I don't think we should. I think we should own our own platform for the really important things. But you know, if we're building a community, then we have to build it where the people are. All right. Let's wrap up this episode with some recommendations. The first is BlockMeister, which is a block pattern builder for WordPress. Now I've been heavy into full site editing. And the block editor for a while now and I on a recent live stream decided to replace a Beaver Builder with the block editor. One of the big strengths of BeaverBuilder is it's page templates, which you just simply can't reproduce in the block editor right now. Except for, with reusable blocks, which is dicey because they're not really page templates. They're straight up blocks that if you modify one place, you'll modify them everywhere. Or block patterns, which can be cumbersome to create. But with BlockMeister, this creates, I believe it's a custom post type for you to build your own block patterns. And then it saves them as block patterns. And you can do this with any number of blocks. So in the live stream, which you can see in the live stream archive, if you are a member over at [buildsomething.club], you can see that I took an entire page template and made it a block pattern that I now use for a bunch of pages that I use all those same blocks. So I highly recommend it. It's called BlockMeister. And this will allow you to create and categorize block patterns. This is Justin Tadlock also has one that is block patterns without code. But BlockMeister lets you create your own categories and has been more recently updated. And on that same token, I am going through a kind of in the open redesign of casabona.org. I'm really happy with where it's at right now. But if you want to get some behind the scenes stuff on how I made that happen through live streams, and a video I'm doing just for members very soon, again, head over to [buildsomething.club] and become a member for just five bucks a month or 50 bucks a year. Now, if you want to get a ton of great page builders, or block editor content for free, check out the page builder summit. This is the third one. It's happening October 18th through the 22nd. Yours truly is speaking on the 29th. So you can head over to page summit, [pagebuildersummit.com]. I'll have an affiliate link in the show notes over at wpreview.io/26. So it is a free event though. And you can get the power pack upgrade, which comes with the recordings, and a whole bunch of other extras. From my part, you get a free month membership, and a PDF checklist. But it's a free event. It's going to be really great. Again, that's [pagebuildersummit.com]. And I think that's it for the review. Thanks so much for listening. To get even more WordPress insights and to subscribe to this show, you can head over to wpreview.io/26. That's where you can also find the show notes and any other links that we talked about. If you liked this episode, share it with a friend. Thanks to GoDaddy Pro for sponsoring this and every episode of WP Review. Until next time. I'm Joe Casabona, and I'll see you out there.

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