Welcome to Episode 28 of the WP Review. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution.
WP Review is a show that provides analysis on what's happening in WordPress and what it means for users and business owners in the Ecosystem. I'll also tell you about helpful tools to build better WordPress websites. This website, this podcast is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro. My name is Joe Casabona. Now let's get on with the review.
Now, this show is going to weekly in January. Maybe a little bit before that, depending on when the State of the Word comes out. Or how sleep deprived I'll be when my third child is born towards the end of December. But I've been thinking a lot about the direction of this program. And we'll talk a little bit about that in the main segment because the news as I've been covering it since this show started at the beginning of the year, has been cyclical or similar, right? Acquisitions something about the block editor, more acquisitions. And we'll talk about more of the same today, and what it all means. What does it all mean? I think the solution is simpler than we want to believe this.
But first let's talk about some top stories, something I'm personally excited about because I love both of these companies is Paid Memberships Pro, Paid Memberships Pro now integrates directly with Castos Private Podcasting. So a private podcasting through Castos I think is one of the best features any audio hosts can offer because they make it very easy to offer a members only podcast. Something that was a bit of a hurdle before this year. And now if you're a Paid Memberships Pro user, you can create a private podcast feed for your members when they sign up through Paid Memberships Pro. So congratulations to both the Paid Memberships Pro team and the Castos team for a fantastic feature. I think it's great that they talk about kind of how podcasting can fit into your membership, what a private podcast is. And then how they can work together to deliver a great private podcast for your members. So that's something exciting that I just wanted to point out there.
The next article that I'm highlighting, I'm just going to highlight it here. We won't walk through it is, from WPTavern written by the venerable Sarah Gooding. AMP has irreparably damaged publishers trust in Google-led initiatives. The Google Devs Summit concluded earlier this month, it was last week and a lot of stuff happened. But a lot of stuff happened, we'll just say. But AMP was a topic that came up quite a bit. It looks like. And this article by Sarah Gooding, kind of talks about what AMP did and how Google kind of lied about what AMP was and what it was doing. And now they're rolling back that. And it's relevant to the WordPress space, of course, because Automatic and WordPress in general were two of the biggest pushers of AMP and what it could mean. And they say here in 2016, Automatic, one of the most influential companies in the WordPress ecosystem, partnered with Google to promote AMP as an early adopter. WordPress.com added AMP support and Automatic built the first versions of the AMP plugin for self hosted WordPress sites. They claim to not know about Google throttling, non AMP ads, right? An official spokesman for a spokesperson for Automatic said as part of our mission to make the web a better place, we're always testing new technologies. We received no funds from Google for the project. And there's a full statement here, but they claim to have no knowledge, no actions that did not align with their company's mission. They were not aware of those. So something to think about. something that has contributed to what I'm going to talk about today in the main segment.
But in other Automatic news, Jetpack has acquired WordPress vulnerability Database WPScan. Hoorah, the bigger acquisition news is that Pagely after nearly 20 years in business, continuously pointing out that they were the first managed WordPress hosting company.
It says here in Josh Shrebel, post managed WordPress has now become a multi-billion dollar channel. And Pagely is the recognized leader therein. And that, you know, they were definitely one of the first. They have agreed to sell to GoDaddy. And then Josh goes on to talk about why and what. And now lots of people are asking why, what does that mean? Are GoDaddy is a sponsor, the sponsor. They're the only sponsor of this podcast and we'll be through 2022. But GoDaddy gets a bad rap. I think sometimes we'll go. I should say GoDaddy Pro is the sponsor. I think GoDaddy gets a bad rap. They've been eating up a lot of WordPress companies. A lot of people have been eating up a lot of WordPress companies. And why? What does it mean? You know, they talk about helping with WordPress, and WooCommerce, and combining forces. And it's that GoDaddy has a ton of money. Josh and Sally or Sally and Josh, probably don't want to run this company anymore. And they sold to a company that maybe they truly believe can continue the mission of Pagely. Maybe not. I don't know. I haven't talked to, I think I've talked to Josh Shrebel like three times in my whole life. So I'm not, I guess I should point out here that I'm not belittling the deal. Congratulations to the Pagely team.
Congratulations to GoDaddy for acquiring a great company, right. They wouldn't have made it 18 and a half years into being high end hosting for WordPress. In what I believe is a notoriously cheap field. So I mean, kudos to them for doing what they did for so long. But I think a lot of people are going to wonder why and how could you, and running a business as hard?
And for Sally and Josh, they have kids who are getting older. And I'm sure that they may want to move on to something different. And maybe I'm putting words in their mouths now. Maybe they want to spend more time with their family. They started the business to help people. It says in this post. They built a successful company. And so they did it the way that worked for them. And so, you know, I think that they're doing what's best for them, and I think that's important for any founder, any entrepreneur to think about. So, you know, it's good for them. Great for them. I think people who want to read into it too much are going to read into it too much and wonder why and how hopefully, you know, a Pagely will go on doing what they do best. I suspect GoDaddy wouldn't have purchased them if they didn't want to. You know, it's not like they're getting rid of it. It's not like they're purchasing a competitor to kill it. I guess is what I'm saying.
If you want like better analysis of this from a much smarter person than me, Chris Lema has a post. All of this will be in the show notes over at wpreview.io/028. I am going to start adding the zero, a zero, two, eight. And so I, you know, Chris's post is smarter and better worded than what I'm kind of stumbling through now.
You know, he also mentioned the Yoast acquisition here, right? Yoast sold to BlueHost/Endurance /Newfold Digital. And everybody was like, “How could you, BlueHost or Endurance is the enemy?” And then Yoast had to come out and say, “Well, Newfold Digital is nothing like Endurance or whatever”, which they are. They're a giant web based company that still owns Bluehost and HostGator and whatever. But Yoast did…You know, they did what they thought was best for the company moving forward. That's what any founder can do and has to do. The same thing with Justin Fairman and LearnDash sold to a company that they believe will continue to do what they think is best for their product. So if you want analysis, you can go read Chris has posted there. Just if you haven't heard yet it happened.
And the last post I want to point out that I think is maybe informing all of this is something that Paul Lacey wrote and recorded for the WP Minute called Blocks, Boards and Fishing Reels. How Gutenberg has divided WordPress. Now I did listen to this. I'll be it. I was a little bit distracted. But Paul tells a really good story about the WordPress community and how it reminds him of communities that his dad was a part of. And how important the community has been to him. And the meetups that he went to, and finding community. And now how he feels the community is being fractured Into partisan groups. Partisan is my word, not his. If you're either with us, with Gutenberg or you're against us, and against WordPress and against Gutenberg. And he makes really good points here. You know, I don't think I've been very publicly criticized for this. I feel like I'm criticized for this for not being a WordPress yes man. Because I'm not. I like the software. I don't believe that it's the democracy that some people want us to believe it is. There's a reason that Matt Mullenweg calls himself or Matt Mullenweg is referred to as the benevolent dictator for life. Only dictators would call themselves benevolent. Right?
At the very best, WordPress is a democratic Republic where not every voice is heard. But its representative folks are voting for groups of people. And even that feels less and less because it really feels like more people who are on the Automatic payroll are the people who are in the room, making the decisions. And I think this is part of what maybe Paul's concern is here. I know people at Automatic. I like the people at Automatic. But I think we need to recognize that it's not necessarily software that everybody has a say in. The 5.0 rollout proved that. And so WordPress is an open source platform of choice. It's a good platform. I still use it for everything and I'm still going to teach people how to use it for everything. But I think Paul’s posts and episode here for the WP Minute, I think it's a good one.
So with that, well, on that happy high note, let me tell you about our sponsor. And then we'll roll into the main segment, which is the simple, the simplest solution is the best solution.
This episode is brought to you…This episode, this whole podcast is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro.
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Thanks so much to GoDaddyPro for sponsoring this and every episode of WP Review.
Earlier this week, I noticed that I hadn't gotten a single email newsletter sign up. A single mailing list to my newsletter in over two weeks. And at first I had some deep seated insecurity about why that might've been. It's probably that people just don't like the opt-ins I offer anymore. Suddenly as if it happened overnight. Then I decided to look into it further. And I found that there was a broken link in the chain of complicated mess that I use to get people from my website to ConvertKit. And I know what you're thinking. Doesn't ConvertKit allow you to use their own forms? Yes, they do. But I thought they were ugly. And I thought in all of my hubris, I could figure out a clever way to offer nicer looking forms using blocks with Beaver Builder.
Beaver Builder has an amazing email newsletter module that integrates directly with ConvertKit. But no good solution exists for a block and ConvertKit yet. But one did work or so I thought. And that was Kadence Blocks. Kadence Blocks has a form block that while it doesn't have direct Convertkit integration and has a web hook integration. And so I thought it was fantastic. I'll make a form. I will send that form to a web hook in Zapier. Zapier will grab the information and send it to ConvertKit. And then I thought, well, okay. But if I want a bunch of forms, do I really want to create discrete zaps for each of those forms? Then I'm creating the form in ConvertKit. Then I'm creating the form in Kadence Blocks. Then I'm creating the zap in Zapier. So I thought, no. It'll just all be the same form and the same web hook. And I'll just change one piece of the information. And at first, that piece of information was a…the title of the page. And then I thought, well, that won't work because I'm putting it on a bunch of different pages. And I thought, “Well, I could add a hidden field with a key. And based on that key, Zapier could route it to the right places.” And indeed, I did that for two of the forms. But I didn't have a generic fallback. I didn't have a generic fallback.
I also wasn't logging email addresses that filled out that form. And so I set up the zap inherently broken because I didn't fully test it. And as people signed up, they were just getting pushed into the ether and I had no way of recovering those email addresses.
And so the lesson here is a sort of Occam's Razor lesson. Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best solution. And when I discovered this yesterday as I record this episode, I thought, “Well, I could use Gravity Forms.” But after talking to my friend Jason Resnick, he said, just use ConvertKits forms. And he showed me how he was using them and how they weren't as ugly as I thought they were. And well, I managed to fix everything, presumably. Everything is using a native convert form and things up here to be working.
If you want to join the mailing list, get a free automation resource. You can head over to wpreview.io/028 and test out the form for yourself.
But this got me thinking. In what other areas are we over-complicating and overthinking? Well, thinking about why someone sells and someone acquires, we all want to find deeper meaning. Why did Yoast sell to BlueHost? Why did Pagely sell to GoDaddy? Aren't they dedicated to the mission? Isn't GoDaddy the bad guy? Isn't BlueHost the bad guy? When if we look at the simplest solution, it's that we have founders who have grown the business as far as big as they could grow it. They've taken it as far as they can take it. And now they want to hand the reins over to somebody else. They don't want to close down shop because they have employees and clients. And so they found somebody who they believe will take care of the company. Simple solution.
What does this mean for Pagely at least in the short term? Not a lot. What does this mean for LearnDash? At least in the short term. Not a lot. Yoast? I mean, it's been a short term for Yoast. What has changed? Not a lot. What about the long-term? What if the struggles didn't sell Pagely to GoDaddy and kept running it even though they were ready to move on? You think we'd have a good product and Pagely? You think they'd be doing their employees, right? You think they'd be doing their clients, right? I don't. Because let me tell you, when I'm not into doing something, it takes me a long time and I rush it. And it's not as good as it could be. And with something small like a YouTube video, not that big a deal. But with a multi-million dollar company with employees that runs websites for like Disney, well, it's a little bit more important. And the struggles were smart enough to realize that. And Justin from LearnDash is smart enough to realize that. And Yoast from Yoast was smart enough to realize that. So if we think about why someone sells and why someone acquires while it's they sell, because they're ready to move on or take the business to a level they can take it. And someone acquires because trying to fill a hole in their business that this other business does well.
And the same thing with the turbulent rollout of Gutenberg. Like I said, Paul Lacey talks, brings up a lot of good points. And we might talk about why is the rollout happening the way it is? And we could probably think of a million different factors. Well, this is complicated. Well there's constraints that we need to follow. Well, the real reason though, is that wordpress.com has stakeholders. And WordPress.com needs to grow. And while I am all in on Gutenberg, if you follow me, you'll know I've got courses. I just converted casabona.org. I removed my page builder of choice from it. But there are business reasons behind why Gutenberg was rushed out so quickly. And there are business reasons why it's evolving in the way it's evolving. And that shouldn't take away from the hard work that people are doing. But that is the reality. It's the reason why Matt has been the release lead more often than not over the last two or three years. It's the reason that 5.0 got pushed out despite serious pushback from voices in the community including my own full disclosure. I had a phone conversation with Matt where I told him it was a mistake. But Matt wanted to stand on stage and have a Steve jobs moment. And there are stakeholders. The wordPress.com has to evolve to get new users and retain users. We don't want to lose them to Squarespace and Wix. That's the real reason. That's the simplest reason. That's the simplest solution.
And so I think about all these things and I'm thinking about what this podcast will be in 2022. Do I want to keep overthinking acquisitions, even though I'm not the best person to think about acquisitions. Do I want to keep talking about the machinations of the open source project and the frustrations that we see? Or do I just want to treat WordPress as a tool that helps me run my business better? And if I find a tool better suited, then I'll move to that one.
And I think what's the simplest solution for me? I want to help small business owners and creators make the most of WordPress. And so moving in to 2022, the show is going to be about that. I'll let other people like Post Status in the WP Minute, and WP Awls, and the repository, and whatever the WP newsletter is called, and the WPTavern. All of those people can cover the acquisitions. I want to take what's happening on the outside of the WordPress community, and bring it to the inside of the WordPress community. And show people in the WordPress community what it's like out there. Why we don't have to settle for doing speaking events for free, or how we can charge $500 for a consult. Things that I've learned by operating outside of the WordPress community for a couple of years while still being in the WordPress community.
But things I've learned that have challenged my assumptions from being squarely in the WordPress community. I think that's the simplest solution for this show. And I hope you'll come along with me.
Again, everybody who's reporting the WordPress news is doing a great job of it. A job better than I can do. And so the WP Review is not going to be about the news. It's going to be about helping small business owners in the WordPress space grow beyond the WordPress space, maybe. We'll see.
Thanks for listening. Before we leave, I do need to talk about some sort of theme plugin event. Some sort of recommendation. My gift guides are out there over at casabona.org/guides. They're not specifically WordPress, and WordPress is not mentioned anywhere. Though I did just convert them from a Beaver Builder driven page to a fully block editor page. And I think they look pretty good. So if you want, head over to casabona.org/guides.
I'm ultimately thinking a lot about automation lately. So I'll just mention Uncanny Automator here. That's a good plugin that is kind of like Zapier for WordPress which generally I'm not a big fan of its X for Y. It's a blog for WordPress. But Uncanny Automator allows me to do Zapier-like things. Allows you to do Zapier, like things inside of WordPress, and send information to Zapier that you wouldn't otherwise be able to send. And I'm all about that. So check it out. I'll have it. I'll have a link to it in the show notes over at wpreview.io/028
Once again, thanks so much for listening. I really appreciate it. If you have feedback, let me know. I'm on Twitter @JCasabona, pretty active over there. So let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your thoughts. If Twitter is not your cup of tea, [email protected]
is an email address that works for me as well.
And if you liked this episode, if you know somebody who needs to hear that the simplest solution is the best solution, share it. Let them know. Send them to WP review.io/028.
Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.