Regular Pagely blog readers will know that every week we interview a big name in the WordPress community. Today it’s the turn of Dev Sharma, one of the most notable young members of the community, and founder of the excellent WPKube resource.
Dev has been involved in the WordPress community in some form since the age of 15. Still only 18, Dev is a well-known community name, having contributed to many well-respected blogs, as well as his own WPKube. Dev is also active on Twitter, so be sure to follow him, @devesh.
As always we’ll be asking the same 8 questions. We’ll be learning about Dev’s experience working with WordPress, where he sees the future of the platform heading, and he will also be providing some useful, actionable tips for anyone starting out.
A big, big thanks to Dev for providing us some valuable insights into what it’s like to run your own WordPress business. Let’s get on with the interview!
For readers less familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself and your WordPress background?
Sure, my name is Dev Sharma and I have been building sites since I was 15. I first started using WordPress when I was trying to create a blogging tips blog (it was called Technshare). It took me a good amount of time to get the hang of WordPress, but once I got an understanding of the basic stuff, it was super easy.
At that time, there were not as many blogs dedicated to WordPress as we have now, but the community was still great (WordPress.org support and other WordPress-related chat forums). Since then, I have been using WordPress for most of my projects. After that, I spent the next 1-2 years learning the ins-and-outs of WordPress, and in 2012 I launched my own WordPress blog called WPKube.
You’ve been in the WordPress community for several years now, but could you tell us how you first became involved with WordPress?
I had been building websites with WordPress for 5 years and got involved with the community when I launched WPKube. After launching the site, I spent a good amount of time covering regular WordPress news and doing theme reviews. It didn’t work and failed miserably.
Then in 2013, I silently re-launched WPKube and started publishing in-depth tutorials and guides (such as this one), which got me featured on several high authority sites and offered networking opportunities with some influential bloggers.
During your time in the community, what different areas have you been involved with?
For the first years, I was mostly helping new users with their WordPress powered websites. But thanks to the success of WPKube, I have started sponsoring WordCamps and donating to community members who are in need of urgent help.
What has been the best thing about working with WordPress for you?
The best thing about the WordPress community is that you get to meet awesome individuals from different backgrounds. No other community or platform can come close to what WordPress has to offer.
How has the WordPress community changed since you started?
It has grown a lot bigger in terms of size. Today, you can see WordCamps happening in almost every location in the world. There are private meetups and Facebook groups geared towards WordPress. The Advanced WordPress group on Facebook is a great example of how helpful the community can be. Other Facebook groups like Genesis WordPress and Profiting with WordPress are also very helpful.
Other than that, there are lots more private events and conferences being held, such as PressNomics, LoopConf, and PrestigeConf.
What advice would you give to anyone getting started with WordPress? Which direction would you yourself go if you were starting over again?
Get involved in the community and connect with other people in the industry. It doesn’t matter if you are starting out with WordPress or earning a living from it, what matters is the people you connect with. Join FB Groups like AdvancedWP and community sites like WPChat and ManageWP, if you don’t know where to start.
If I had to start over again, I’d act faster. I’d hire more people to help me with the site and product creation.
What do you think the biggest mistakes WordPress website owners are making?
Not building an email list from day one. I think most business owners don’t start building a list until they are making money from their online business. But what they don’t realize is that you can build an email list without spending a dime. MailChimp allows you to build an email list of up to 2,000 subscribers for free. There is a small downside, though: you cannot use affiliate links or promotions if you are on free plan.
Once you have opt-in forms in place, use free plugins such as Optin Forms and SumoMe to increase the number of your email subscribers — here’s a complete list of popular list building plugins.
Another mistake I see a lot of bloggers making (including myself) is not publishing content regularly. Don’t underestimate the importance of creating a content plan to help you write more regularly. A quick tip: before you list down your ideas, take a look at your Analytics to see what type of content works for your audience.
What do you think the future of WordPress holds? What would you like to see?
I think the future is bright; we are seeing a lot of new solutions that are being built on the top of WordPress such as HappyTables, RestaurantEngine, and RainMaker, among others. And with the recent implementation of WP REST API, we will see more of those solutions.
It will also be interesting to see the WordPress.org marketplace evolve — currently, ThemeForest has 50% of the market, and no other platform can compete with it. I know some people tried to compete and failed miserably. I think the WordPress marketplace has the potential to compete, but it needs support from the community. That being said, ThemeForest isn’t bad; I know a lot of developers who use it to earn a living, it is just that they have a lot of restrictions in place.
Apart from that, I think WordPress needs to keep a close eye on its competition — Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.
Once again, I want to say a huge thank you to Dev Sharma for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
As Dev discusses, the WordPress community is one of the most supportive you could imagine, so there’s a lot of help available for anyone getting started. There’s a lot of great, free advice being published — including that by Syed Balkhi (who we interviewed, here), Chris Lema, and even Dev’s own WPKube. There are also tons of support groups you can join. If you’re finding your feet with WordPress, you really would be crazy to ignore what these well-respected, experienced people are saying.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week!