Today, we have Matt Medeiros with us for another edition of Pagely’s 8 Questions series.
The format is the same as always — we’ll be talking about how Matt first became involved in the WordPress community, how to avoid the most common WordPress pitfalls, and what he thinks the future of WordPress holds.
Want to familiarize yourself with Matt’s work before the interview? Then be sure to check out his excellent podcast series over at Matt Report, where he regularly interviews WordPress professionals. Matt also co-founded his own WordPress development company, SlocumStudios, and he’s always active on Twitter.
I want to say a big thanks to Matt for answering our questions and providing us with a great set of answers!
For readers less familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself and your WordPress background?
I started a WordPress agency with a business partner back in 2008. My partner also happens to be my Father and we came from two generations of owning a Chevrolet & Cadillac franchise prior to spinning up this business. A few years ago, I started a WordPress podcast focused on business and entrepreneurship over at MattReport.com. My business, Slocum Studio, has expanded into the product business, launching Slocum Themes and Conductor Plugin.
You’ve been in the WordPress community for several years now, but could you tell us how you first became involved with WordPress?
I worked at an ISP for 7 years, ending my career there as the Product Director. We had acquired another ISP that also had a web development department, primarily building on Drupal (Version 5 at the time) sites for local clients. After the acquisition, only a handful of developers stayed on and Drupal was very cumbersome. I did some research and discovered the Standard Theme for WordPress (John Saddington’s brainchild) and of course, WordPress itself. We re-organized the department to focus on WordPress solutions, so it was a natural fit when I started my own business.
My first WordPress meetup came in around 2009 in Providence, Rhode Island. That’s when I met Jake Goldman (before he was 10up) and John James Jacoby of BuddyPress fame. That’s when I started to become much more involved in the local community and, eventually, the greater community.
During your time in the community, what different areas have you been involved with?
Of course, promoting the use of WordPress and really making it the cornerstone of our operation. Between services and products, we’re really empowering thousands of websites with the software. I attend other marketing events and I’m always the “guy” defending or promoting WordPress as the best solution. Our theme business offers up all of our themes for free on WordPress.org and we constantly create videos and podcasts talking about the software.
I often talk at meetups and WordCamps, as well as attend events like PressNomics & PrestigeConf.
What has been the best thing about working with WordPress for you?
I’m going to give the same answer as everyone else — community.
From local meetups to my friend Mario Peshev in Bulgaria, it’s been amazing to meet so many great people, all willing to help others. It’s truly remarkable.
How has the WordPress community changed since you started?
Now that WordPress has hit the 12-year mark, I think we’re starting to see a shift. I think that early on, at least when I was getting started, there were a lot of paths paved in gold — growth was quite phenomenal. I won’t call it a bubble, but I think the recent shift is bringing us back down to reality. That said, introducing the API and the increased importance of the customizer is going to shift the WordPress experience dramatically. It’s going to close some doors, but open up many others. I can’t wait to see what the next 12 years bring!
What advice would you give to anyone getting started with WordPress? Which direction would you yourself go if you were starting over again?
I have a saying, “Everyone should sell cars.”
There’s no other experience like it: you need to find customers daily, and you need to sell them on yourself first and foremost. This isn’t all that different to today’s market.
If I were starting over, I would still start with consulting and services. I’d be a lot more laser-focused than when we were starting out, but that’s the seasoning that makes your business unique. Someone looking for a fast-track blueprint to business shouldn’t be getting into business.
What do you think the biggest mistakes WordPress website owners are making?
Man, where do I begin?!
- Not hiring qualified developers or agencies.
- Not taking WordPress as a software application seriously.
- Not taking full advantage of WordPress as a business platform. i.e. marketing, publishing, e-commerce, etc.
What do you think the future of WordPress holds? What would you like to see?
I’d love to see an official theme/plugin marketplace, backed by Matt/Automattic.
Here’s why: the new API is going to, potentially, fragment the WordPress experience. This could be similar to what we’ve seen happen with Android in the early years. It’s only in recent versions that we’ve really seen Google trying to control/tailor it to a single experience. Compare this to the Apple ecosystem — one phone, one experience (short of varying versions of iOS).
How will people experience “WordPress” then? Where will you get your favorite “flavor” of WordPress? I want my customers to get it at a place where they can feel confident that their software author is verified and here to stay — not just a flash in the pan.
So give me my WordPress verified badge! That’s what I want. 🙂
Let me say one more thank you to Matt Medeiros for providing us with a really insightful set of answers — his insights into how the new API might impact the platform were particularly interesting.
I certainly like the idea of a marketplace with author verification process, as this would ensure all WordPress products are developed with WordPress best practices in mind. Users could buy themes/plugins with more confidence, and developers would be able to sell more products as a result of their verified status. Developers would have a clear incentive to improve their products, and everyone wins as a result — good call on that, Matt!
Let’s finish today’s interview with the links again, just in case you missed them. Be sure to check out Matt’s business/entrepreneurship podcast at Matt Report, his development company SlocumStudios, and follow him on Twitter.
Thanks for reading; I’ll see you again next week!