Justin Ferriman

WordPress

Over the past 15+ years, I have had the pleasure of meeting some incredibly smart people in the WordPress industry. Some of these people have businesses (such as selling courses), and others are building products for WordPress users (plugins & themes).

With recent news that WordPress now has 43% CMS market share, one thing is for certain: the WordPress business landscape is maturing.

We are seeing consolidation, higher pricing, more complex offerings, mature advertising campaigns, and more. It’s truly an exciting time!

There is also a lot at stake. So much so, that the people who have helped create this new, mature WordPress environment are feeling like they need to self-sensor for fear of retribution.

I understand this fear.

For many years, I would just sit, observe, and discuss with my friends in the WordPress space my unfiltered view about what was going on. Topics like:

  • Product pricing
  • Dealing with pain-in-the-ass customers
  • Gutenberg
  • Product sales and promotions
  • Maximizing profitability
  • WTF moments from Automattic
  • WordPress idealism
  • Unexplored opportunity areas

And the list goes on.

These backroom conversations that I had with my friends were incredibly helpful to my business, and in some ways therapeutic. The problem is, these conversations were behind closed doors.

There is a real, tangible benefit to having tough (somewhat controversial) conversations in a public setting. So far, very few folks do this in WordPress. For me, Matt Mederos from The Matt Report and The WPMinute is one of the few daring to occasionally broach these topics.

There is no shortage of podcasts in the WordPress space, but there is a shortage of conversations backed by proven success.

At the beginning of January, Matt put out a tweet asking folks what they wanted out of a WordPress focused podcast in 2022, so I threw in my two cents:

The more I thought on my reply, the more I realized that I could help bring this to fruition. Since the sale of LearnDash, I have more time. So, I got to thinking…

I should take the backroom conversations (the ones that helped me create a multimillion dollar, international brand) out into the public.

So, that’s what I am doing with…

NoFilter.fm — No BS WordPress Business Commentary

Every two weeks, I will host a gathering on Twitter Spaces to share proven methodology, tactics, and opinions directly responsible for generating multiple millions of dollars in revenue.

Co-hosting with me will be Ross Johnson from 3.7Designs.

Ross started as a freelancer right out of college and today with his wife runs a 7-figure WordPress design agency. He also has a handful of WordPress products that result in over $100,000 of revenue each year.

Over the years, Ross and I have bounced ideas off of each other as we grew our respective companies to millions of dollars.

Our goal is to help other WordPress entrepreneurs by discussing business topics that I wish were talked about when I was first starting. We will also discuss business themes as it relates to the industry as a whole.

The conversations will be recorded and published later as a podcast.

Here is what you should do next…

  • Follow the NoFilter.fm Twitter account (this is where the spaces will be hosted).
  • Subscribe for updates on the NoFilter.fm website (replays will be here and on major platforms such as Spotify, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts).
  • Last, just show up and join the conversation!

I look forward to seeing you join us in the next conversation!

#WordPress


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I remember when Matt Mullenweg first announced the Gutenberg editor for WordPress, there were a slew of review posts (many critical). I have been largely quiet on the matter, as I have always felt that time was needed to give it a chance to fully develop.

When I heard news that the classic editor in WordPress was going to be replaced, I was pretty happy about it. Truth be told, the classic editor was so dated it was becoming embarrassing. While once a class leader, by 2018 it was more enjoyable to write in a Google Doc.

WordPress was ready for an upgrade. While I knew it would mean a lot of work for my developers to update LearnDash accordingly, I was pleased with the direction Matt and the WordPress core team were taking to remain competitive (and to keep their investors happy).

What I didn’t expect was a complete shift from the typical WordPress value proposition.

In my ignorance, I thought that the updated experience would focus on making a killer writing experience for bloggers. Something like Medium or Substack, but better. Something done the “WordPress way” that helped writers bring their words to life on the world’s greatest CMS.

What we got was something in-between a page builder and writing tool, and as of the date of this article, it’s not a class leader in either category.

You can’t be two things at once, at least not very well. Yet, this is what we have with the Gutenberg editor.

From Day 1, Gutenberg was sold to us as a front-end page builder.

First, it was pretty apparent to everyone that it was nothing close to a front-end builder. Like, not at all.

That was a mistake, and I think the core team realized it afterwards. Since then, corporate has changed that terminology slightly to “full-site editing”, and it has caught on. This is probably for the best, as there is nothing front-end about Gutenberg, but it still conveys a similar value proposition to users.

But not only were we promised a site builder, we were also told that the new editor experience was an excellent writing tool. It was clear to all of us in attendance during its unveiling that Gutenberg was definitely not that, either.

I was okay with this at the time because everything was new. It has been years since then, and Gutenberg has come a long way (in particular as a page builder). I have seen folks create some pretty attractive websites using it. I particularly think that Kadence does an impressive job with their layouts. Websites using Gutenberg also load very fast, which is of critical importance.

But I feel that these page building developments have come at a cost: the writing experience in the Gutenberg editor is pretty bad. Is it the worst thing out there? No. It’s sufficient, but its performance largely depends on your site and the number of plugins you may have installed.

Now, I know of regular bloggers who think it’s somewhat enjoyable. While that’s great, I have to ask: is the writing experience actually better than platforms such as Medium and Substack?

I put out a tweet about how I felt Matt’s Gutenberg editor was positioned more as a page builder, and not for writing. I received some replies from folks who said they have grown to appreciate it, like this one from my friend Alex:

This seems to be the prevailing sentiment. The experience is something that you get used to using. Though, I am not certain if that's the tagline WordPress would want to use:

“Writing in WordPress: you'll get used to it!”

The lack-luster writing experience is what gets to me the most. So much so that I don’t even bother using WordPress for this blog. I use WriteFreely instead, another open-source software but with an emphasis on writing and simplicity (I have a deep-dive article that I am finishing related to this. If you’re interested, subscribe at the end of this post to get notified).

All of this said, I always recommend WordPress to people looking to build a business that relies upon organic traffic from Google. And as a CMS, WordPress can’t be beat! You can create super advanced functionality without any code.

So, what is the real plan here?

I have to believe that there is a long-term plan with the editor experience that we are not privy to in the WordPress community. This feels especially true given the large amount of investment to come Automattic’s way in recent years. But to be fair, long-term plans are never shared from corporate. Two and three-year plans maybe, but not five to seven-year objectives.

And while the community has for the most part adopted Gutenberg, it did feel a little forced. Meanwhile, Elementor continues to crush it. This is starting to create an awkward scenario where Matt’s homegrown page builder is losing out to a third-party page builder for WordPress. It’s not a good look currently, but I do think that the gap is starting to narrow.

I continue to pull for Gutenberg. I know that it will grow as a page builder, and maybe along the way it can become a decent writing tool as well, but I am not confident that this is a top priority. Regardless, there are smart people behind the whole project, and it shows.

#WordPress


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I prioritize happiness over profits, and it pays off.

What you'll find…

  • My #entrepreneurship insights & tactics that have made millions of dollars.
  • Life hacks that have given me personal freedom and #happiness.
  • Unfiltered, experienced-based opinions of #WordPress.

Aside from these topics, I also use this site to write about #personal events that I have going on in life.

What I’m all about…

I choose to put all my energy into making my passions a reality. My focus is never on the money.

It is a simple life philosophy that has proven to be both incredibly lucrative and fulfilling.

Spending time with my wife Lorena, studying Spanish, traveling in Mexico, training in Muay Thai, and playing overly aggressive online chess all keep me balanced.

Between all of those things, I squeeze in time for “work”.

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