We Discuss Plugins & Themes, Economy, Entrepreneurship & Pricing

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Join us as we discuss these topics and more in our exclusive podcast. Hear from digital entrepreneurs, plugin creators, and industry experts as they share their wealth of knowledge from years of experience.

Discover how to create a profitable business model, perfect your pricing strategy, and boost your online presence with powerful plugins & themes. Don’t miss out.

Vova is the founder & CEO of Freemius, a platform for selling software online. Vova is a serial maker and a full-stack developer who transitioned from the technical co-founder seat 💺 to becoming the ship’s captain 👨✈ He’s addicted to challenges and solving complex problems that may seem unsolvable using technology and engineering. Vova is passionate about optimization (in all aspects of life), learning something new every day, fitness, and the pursuit of happiness.

#1 – Where are we 2023 connected to the WordPress plugin, theme, and over services is the market still growing or declining?

#2 – What major challenges and opportunities are connected to the WordPress general professional market in 2023?

#3 – What general advice would you give somebody considering entering the WordPress professional marketplace?

#4 – What are some things you would like to see change connected to the wider WordPress professional marketplace?

#5 – If you return to a time machine at the beginning of your career, what essential advice would you give yourself?

#6 – Are there any online recourses or books you like to recommend to the audience?

This Week Show’s Sponsors

Zoho: Zoho.com

Sensei LMS: Sensei LMS

LifterLMS: LifterLMS

LaunchFlows: LaunchFlows

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00.000] – Jonathan Denwood

Welcome back, folks, to this week in WordPress and SaaS. It’s episode 769. We’ve got a great guest, the founder and CEO of Freemius, Vova Feldman with us. Hopefully, I haven’t butchered his name too much, as I’m notorious for butchering my guest’s name. Kurt, unfortunately, can’t be with us this week. He’s on a training course. He got loads of exams to take. What it is for? I do not know. He did not volunteer the information to me. I did bring English; I didn’t feel I should ask him. But this should be a great discussion about all things where WordPress is in almost half the year in, which I cannot believe. So, Vodra, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers of the show?


[00:01:13.740] – Vova Feldman

Sure, of course. So first of all, thanks for having me. Hello, everyone who’s watching it live. I’m Vovor, a founder and CEO at Free Meus, currently in Israel. Free Meus is an e-commerce for selling software online. Basically, we provide the entire commercial infrastructure so you can take your plug in theme or software product, focus on its features, and we’ll take care of everything related to the commercial side of things, which means payments, subscriptions, licensing, software updates, etc. So this is a short brief about myself.


[00:01:52.720] – Jonathan Denwood

How long has it been in business?


[00:01:56.390] – Vova Feldman

Freemius’s use is almost nine years old already.


[00:01:59.920] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, WordPress years is a bit like cat years, so that means you’re about 100 years old, doesn’t it? Before we go into this great interview, I’ve got a couple of messages from our major sponsors. We’ll be back in a few moments, folks. Are you?


[00:02:20.250] – Vova Feldman

Looking for ways to make.


[00:02:21.590] – Jonathan Denwood

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[00:02:23.640] – Vova Feldman

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[00:02:24.560] – Jonathan Denwood

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[00:02:26.440] – Vova Feldman

Solution for creating.


[00:02:27.560] – Jonathan Denwood

And selling online courses.


[00:02:29.630] – Vova Feldman

Sensei’s new interactive.


[00:02:30.760] – Jonathan Denwood

Blocks can be added to any.


[00:02:32.050] – Vova Feldman

WordPress page or post. For example, interactive videos let you pause videos and display quizzes, lead.


[00:02:38.350] – Jonathan Denwood



[00:02:38.900] – Vova Feldman

Forms, surveys, and more.


[00:02:40.920] – Jonathan Denwood

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[00:02:42.190] – Vova Feldman

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[00:02:43.020] – Jonathan Denwood

Just use the code WP Tonic, all one word.


[00:02:45.920] – Vova Feldman

When checking out and give.


[00:02:47.030] – Jonathan Denwood

Sensei a try today.


[00:02:52.250] – Vova Feldman



[00:02:52.510] – Jonathan Denwood

There, folks. It’s Jonathan Denwood here, and I want to tell you about one of our great sponsors, and that’s Zolo. Com. If you’ve got a WordPress website, a membership website, and you’re looking to link it with a great financial management package, Zolo can provide this solution. So all your bookkeeping needs are done through Zolo. If you need new inbox email functionality and you don’t want to pay the high charges that Google will charge you, Zolo offers a great email inbox platform. They’ve got over 50 apps and services that all integrate fantastic with WordPress at great value levels, and they almost always offer a fully functioning free product as well. So it’s just amazing value. Also, if you’re a WordPress developer or agency owner, Zolo are looking for great partnerships in the WordPress space. To get all this information, all you have to do, folks, is just go over to Zolo. Com and they have the product that you’re looking for. Thank you so much, Zolo, for supporting WP Tonic and the Machine Membership Shows. It’s much appreciated. We’re coming back, folks. I just want to point out we got some great special offers from some of our major sponsors, plus a curated list of of the best WordPress plugins and services that will help you build, or if you’re building a website for a client, be able to utilize the best tools.


[00:04:40.140] – Jonathan Denwood

So you don’t have to traw the internet and try and read all those reviews and waste all that time. You can find all these goodies and special offers by going over to WP Tonic deals, WP Tonic deals, and you find all the free goodies there. What more can you ask for, beloved audience? So let’s go straight into it. So I can’t believe, I don’t know if you can, but we’re almost half a year into 2023. Where it’s gone, I don’t really know, but we’re in July, for God’s sake. But where is the WordPress community? Where’s the platform? Is it growing? Is it declining or is it staying the same? You deal with a lot of people in the WordPress community, in the professional side of the community. So I thought this would be a great initial question. So where do you see the market at the present moment?


[00:05:47.200] – Vova Feldman

Yeah, sure. It’s actually not a trivial question because how do you define what it means? Whether the market is growing or not? Are we talking about the WordPress chunk relatively to the rest of the web? Are we talking about the Web. So I will just share my thoughts and observations, what I’m seeing. It’s clear that currently, the global economic situation is not in the best place. And there have been many businesses that have been closed, and naturally, those businesses probably close their websites. So there is some decline. It doesn’t mean that new businesses are not appearing and building their websites. If we look on the WordPress market share, those are public numbers. We see that there is some stagnation right now. I think in the past year or so, even the market share of WordPress in comparison to the web, lost a few percentages. But still, we’re talking about 40 % of the web, which is pretty huge. I do think that right now, there are new opportunities and new markets that emerged into WordPress. And the two leading ones, there’s the global trend of AI. So it’s a new market, something that didn’t exist before.


[00:07:13.260] – Vova Feldman

So there are new opportunities. And even if you had a fully functional website before, you may still want to introduce some AI powered products to enrich your writing experience, images experience, etc. And obviously, there is the whole page builders and the new editorial that we have, which makes WordPress much more accessible. Or hopefully that’s the vision. That’s what we are aiming for, much more accessible to people that previously had challenges to work with WordPress and had to have some basic understanding of HTML, maybe a little CSS, but now they can track and drop things and the experience is becoming much more friendly and accessible, similar to other competing SaaS solutions out there. In terms of the CMS and websites, still, WordPress is the leading open source project. So there are the Wix’s and the Web flows and the Squarespace and they’re great, but they’re still not offering that open source free solution that is starting free, let’s say, and attracting audience from different places and also gives the level of flexibility that WordPress offers today. There are some other open source projects, but they’re more complex like Drupal and obviously have much smaller market share.


[00:08:52.940] – Vova Feldman

So I do think we’re not going to see WordPress disappearing anytime soon. It’s a bit hard to say exactly what’s happening.


[00:09:02.360] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, what I’m trying to gage from you is you talk to a lot of plug in team, a lot of people in the professional WordPress community. What’s the general vibe? Is it upbeat or is it you’re getting a lot of people?


[00:09:15.760] – Vova Feldman

I think it’s a signation. It’s a signation. That’s what many people see. Again, there are those new markets that are growing right now because there’s more hype around that, more interest. There are opportunities to really invent things when it comes to those new technologies, I would call them. Those markets are naturally growing.


[00:09:38.990] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah. So have you got any thoughts about why you… Because I agree with you. I don’t think there’s a dramatic decline, but I don’t think there’s any real substantial growth. And I think that’s been the position now for us getting on to two years now. Have you got any thoughts what some of the drivers around that stagnation?


[00:10:03.420] – Vova Feldman

Probably the economic situation right now in the world, I would say that probably that’s the main thing. There are also other solutions as we can ignore that are eating some of the marketplace of WordPress, but this is natural. It was always the case.


[00:10:22.850] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, I’ve got a slightly different take on this, actually, that I want to put to you and get your input. And then we move on to the next question. I don’t think it’s the economy at all. Actually, traditionally, when I came to America, I’m a joint citizen now. It was just a year before the Great Recession hit, and I was working as a web developer for a regional agency. I got into WordPress for my freelance clients because they were looking for a cost effective way of building their website. They were cutting back on their budget. They were looking to try and get more customers online. And that drew me into the world of WordPress. WordPress actually gained market share as their economy got worse and worse for about a six year period, and I got more and more involved in it. So traditionally, I feel WordPress does quite well as any market. I think the biggest driver is the semi train wreck of Guttenberg that’s improved lately, and you can see the benefits of it. But I think it’s dramatically damaged the whole ecosystem of WordPress for a couple of years. And it’s been the major course of the stagnation.


[00:11:54.790] – Jonathan Denwood

Nobody will say that in public. Most people won’t because they don’t want to be punished, basically, for saying the truth, basically. So I’ve outlined a lot there. If you want to comment, or if you want to go, what’s your thoughts about that?


[00:12:16.500] – Vova Feldman

Yeah, I think it’s a valid point and definitely it created some friction, especially because the way the product was released to the world and became the primary editor, it was still premature. We’re just seeing right now that it’s getting better traction. So you are right that during that period, if I just found WordPress by chance, and I’m not an agency or professional freelancer that had the experience to work with WordPress and know how I can work around that and use the classic editor, things like that, I agree with you. That’s probably.


[00:12:57.300] – Jonathan Denwood



[00:12:57.970] – Vova Feldman

People. But I would say that I think your point that you said that the recession actually pushed WordPress to grow, it’s totally valid. But I feel that when you get to 43 % of the web, it’s like you are maxed out already. You’re ow much more can you grow from there? It’s enormous. So I think whatever is happening, you are already in that position that it’s more about how do I retain that level of market share versus keep growing that because it’s like…


[00:13:31.210] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, in a way, you could say that I’m correct, but you could also say it really shows the strength of WordPress because I think the launch in the past couple of years has been a real train wreck. I’m sorry. I don’t think the leadership of WordPress have accepted their part in this train wreck. They haven’t really learned. I haven’t seen a lot of evidence. They’ve learned much from it. We all might make mistakes. I’ve made some tremendous bad mistakes. I try not to make the same really bad mistakes because what was said, that’s a sign of madness. If you keep doing the same thing and wanting a different result. So I try and learn from my mistakes and I try and be honest to myself and others about the mistakes I’ve made. But I don’t see any public statements or ability to accept and learn from those mistakes. I don’t see any evidence of that at all. But maybe I’m being a bit negative. But on the other end, it does show the strength of the community. I think the community have really gone out their way, the professional WordPress community, too, because obviously it benefits us all.


[00:14:57.350] – Jonathan Denwood

And we are lot of people, obviously there’s the financial side, but there’s also people that actually believe in the project to some extent. So we want the best for it and for commercial and for biological reasons. They’ve stepped into the void and kept the ship up right, if you understand. But God bless them, really, because the leadership has been totally absent. I mean, it’s not there, is it? I don’t expect you to remark on that. I’ve lost patience. I don’t care anymore. They can come after me as much as they like. I don’t care.


[00:15:44.080] – Vova Feldman

I think we can have a whole episode just discussing about how the entire project is ran and led and executed and all of that, which is interesting. I also have a lot of thoughts about that. But you did raise an interesting point here about the commercial ecosystem. It’s not like… While the new builder, Guttenberg, maybe negatively impacted some experience, but we’ve seen an emerge of multiple page builder companies that really made WordPress much more accessible than what it was before and actually drove growth to the entire WordPress market. I’ll give an example of Elementor. So they, right now, I think they have 10 % of the web, which is crazy. But they also drove growth to WordPress because they didn’t market Elementor as a WordPress product. They marketed Elementor is an easy way to build websites and manage to attract designers and people who never worked with WordPress before to start using WordPress just because of Elementor. Elementor is not the only company that managed to do that. So there is some balance. Luckily, we have that community and the builders that are trying to take the existing experiences and make them much better to improve the entire project, basically.


[00:17:17.680] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, but don’t get me fundamentally wrong, because in the same breath, I totally want Guttenberg to succeed. That’s why.


[00:17:25.900] – Vova Feldman

I think we all want that.


[00:17:27.380] – Jonathan Denwood

If I didn’t really want that, I just wouldn’t even talk about it, because in some ways I’m bored with the subject. But it was fundamentally necessary that the editing environment be updated because it was the embarrassment. And also the basic technology stack needed to be pushed into a stack that would attract new developers. And it was becoming creaky. And in the cool developer crowd, WordPress was seen as a bit of a backwater somewhere that you just did work, but you really didn’t want to do it. Some of that.


[00:18:14.980] – Vova Feldman

Should have an episode about that. I love the topic actually.


[00:18:19.540] – Jonathan Denwood

Some of it was true, some of it was Cobblers, wasn’t it? Like most things, isn’t it? Let’s move on. I’ve mostly talked about the challenges, but I do think with Greenberg, we can see things improving. We can see light at the end of the tunnel. They’ve said with the latest round of changes that, apart from UX and other improvements, the fundamental changes are probably going to end and we’re going to have a period of a bit more stability I do think the team behind Guttenberg have been doing a great job recently. I think they really are trying to get it to a standard. And also the third party. So where are the opportunities? Because I think you’re right. When you got 40, 43 %, it’s really hard to move it any further. So where do you see the opportunities? Where do you think there are some elements of growth in this marketplace?


[00:19:37.660] – Vova Feldman

To whom?


[00:19:41.670] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, I think we have a joint audience and WordPress professionals and also SaaS bootstrappers. I think both camps are facing some exhaustionion. Where is some real growth in the WordPress area? And also in the bootstrap SaaS, I think there’s only so many subscriptions somebody can sign up for. So I think there’s a little bit of subscription exhaustionion, as I put it, in the SaaS world as well. But I think you probably are. Am I presuming that really we can only see that growth with AI, really? That’s why everybody’s getting so excited about it.


[00:20:29.110] – Vova Feldman

Yeah, I think it’s AI and also extensions for visual builders, whether it’s Guternberg or the third party builders built by commercial solutions. That’s the place where you can really invent the experience and come up with innovative ideas. I think we can all agree that in 5, 10 years, some builder will be the default experience. It’s not going to be the classic editor. People are not going to use that anymore. So the way you interact with WordPress is going to be very different, I hope so. And I think this is what’s happening right now. You’re seeing a lot of plug in and thing developers that coming up with absolutely different experiences. Some of them also involve AI. Something interesting that I saw in the Human Made, the AI conference, virtual conference that they’ve done. Several team companies done really interesting stuff with AI, how we can improve the experience, onboarding experience for users, identifying different personas, how websites are being created. It’s all interconnected between plug ins, AI, new experiences, and those visual builders. I think there are many opportunities there, and we are seeing those happening. In Free Me as a Loan, we’re seeing every few days new AI product starting to make their first sale.


[00:22:14.760] – Vova Feldman

I’m not saying registered to Free News. I’m saying starting to make their first sales. So there is definitely significant growth in that direction. I would also mention that I feel that today the workforce is ecosystem is much more mature than what it was before. And whether it’s for plugging in the theme developers, SaaS builders, or freelancers, it’s a tough our competition because there are more people and players in the space and they are more professional. People already have marketing knowledge. The days of the developer that just pops into WordPress and successful just by being a developer, I feel it’s no longer there.


[00:23:11.760] – Jonathan Denwood

It’s difficult with this. I think lso, I think we saw a land grab by the major hosting companies. They knew that hosting in general was becoming a little, I’m not sure the word, losing some of its shine. And they went in and bought a number of plugging to get eyes, to get customers, but also to build some difference between the hosting. I think that hasn’t worked out that well, to be quite truth. And I think the reason for that is the Indian subcontinent, the Far East, coding shops into the market. They can’t be bought because they’re not registered in the US or in Europe. So they’re less attractive to purchase. And I don’t think they’re on the market. I think they can see enormous growth and they’re looking to keep private. They’re not on the market to be sold anyway. So I think that strategy… This is only coming from me. I don’t think that strategy of entering the market, just buying a load of plug ins has worked that well for a number of these hosting companies. What’s your view about that?


[00:24:39.070] – Vova Feldman

I think for some it worked better, for some not so much. And it also depends what they do after they acquire the company and how much freedom they give them. I do think that if we’re looking on WPN Gen, who acquired delicious brains, like many of their products, I think they actually push the gas on the paddle and improve the product. And I am seeing some good momentum.


[00:25:10.190] – Jonathan Denwood

Because they’re a pretty polished team, aren’t they? Jason’s a friend of mine. The executive team, they’re pretty sharp people and it’s a pretty slick.


[00:25:20.820] – Vova Feldman

So I think it depends on the acquirer. While others may be acquired for different purposes and different reasons, maybe they needed the talent and know the product. I would say that it really depends, but you are right in general, overall, if we generalize, I feel that those products that were acquired by hosting companies, they’re probably not going to fulfill their future.


[00:25:57.800] – Jonathan Denwood

No, I think you find a good point because look at Liquid Web, which is now renamed Solid under Devon and some of the other leadership.


[00:26:07.850] – Vova Feldman



[00:26:09.350] – Jonathan Denwood

They’re great people. Devon, I would say, is a personal friend as well. He’s a great… He really understands the WordPress professional community. I think rebranding solid was a good idea. It’s made it a branding was, I think, was successful. The name choice was good. And I think under that team, as long as they’re loud, they’re independent, I think they’re doing a great job myself.


[00:26:40.800] – Vova Feldman

I think the acquirers that basically acknowledge the talent that they acquired and let them, instead of shifting them to do other things, but actually gave them the resources to push forward what they already knew they need to do go and the direction that they had, they’re the one that succeeded. But others have had different interests from those acquisitions. Maybe it was successful, by the way, for those hosting companies. It’s just how do you measure that success? Maybe for them, their VPs looking on the KPIs of their measuring, and it’s a super success. But from us, as outside there is that looking on the product versus the strategy behind the acquisition, it may be looks for us that it didn’t work great.


[00:27:36.980] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, I think the initial purchase from Liquid Web of these plugins was a bit of a dog’s breath. I think they’re pulling it back because they were lucky. In that buying, they bought some really excellent talent and they’ve woken up and they’re deploying that talent and giving it the freedom to I’m not trying to be too harsh, to develop the product in a way that it actually gets a result for the purchaser. I think before this team was allowed the freedom, I think it was going I have no special knowledge. I’m only making my own personal assessment. I think it was going off the rails pretty bad, but I think it’s pulling back because they’ve got a really good team. But that’s my own personal view there. I think we’re going to go for our break. I think I’ve ducked a hole for myself for the last couple of years. I think I’m going to get a few emails about these comments, but who cares? I don’t. We’re going to go for a break, folks. We’ll be back in a few moments. Hey, it’s Benz from launchflows. Com. If you’ve been looking for a fast and easy way to create powerful sales funnels on WordPress, then look no further than Launch Flows.


[00:29:05.880] – Jonathan Denwood

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[00:29:27.710] – Vova Feldman

This podcast episode is brought to you by Lifter LMS, the leading learning management system solution for WordPress. If you or your client are creating any online course, training based membership website, or any type of eLearning project, Lifter LMS.


[00:29:48.160] – Jonathan Denwood

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[00:29:48.690] – Vova Feldman

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[00:29:51.150] – Jonathan Denwood



[00:29:51.620] – Vova Feldman

Supported solution on the market. Go to lifterlms. Com and save 20 % at checkout with coupon code podcast 20. That’s podcast 20. Enjoy the rest of your show.


[00:30:06.020] – Jonathan Denwood

We’re coming back, folks. I just want to point out, if you’re looking for a great WordPress hosting provider that specializes in membership and community based websites, why don’t you look at WP Tonic? We got over 15 years. I’ve been running this podcast for eight years. We are a boutique hosting provider that offers a lot to our professional partners. If that’s interest and you got regular clients and you’re doing build outs in the membership community space, why don’t you go over to WP Tonic partners, WP Tonic partners, and have a look at what we got to offer you, the WordPress professional? I think you touched on this, but if somebody was coming to you with a WordPress plugin, with a WordPress theme market. I see great… What is the theme in 2023 with full site editing? I see great opportunities for small coding shops in the new world of a theme. But what is a theme in the world of Guttenberg and full site editing? But I do see opportunities there. You could see the opportunity, but it’s still out of reach. It’s like you can see it. You can see all the power. I think Ben from Cadence WP, but that’s part of Liquid, where they bought a real star there.


[00:31:46.000] – Jonathan Denwood

What amazing developer and WordPress individual Ben is building WP cadence from the ground up. What a coder. Almost as good as Pippin Williams and I had the pleasure of interviewing Pippin a few times. A great coder as well, great entrepreneur. So you can see the possibility. So I can see the fee market being very different, but I can see a lot of growth in that if we can get over this hump. But also the plugging, if somebody came to you, where would you say… What would you advise them if they were looking to build something and they could get hold of you for some advice?


[00:32:35.180] – Vova Feldman

Yeah. O ne thing that I want to mention is all those builders actually opened up the themes market to non developers. So if we’re talking about the whole templates ecosystem, now, if you’re a designer, you can go open one of those editors, create a nice design, save it to a JSON file with images and all of that and sell it to others. Because many people who are buying themes, the first and foremost thing that they’re looking for is the visual. And depends again on the complexity of the website and what do you need. But I like saying that every website starts with the visual. And I think this is something that will see significantly growing as it will become more accessible. In terms of your question, what will I recommend when someone who is looking to get into the plugins ecosystem? I will ask them a bunch of questions first to understand what they really want to do because I feel exactly what I mentioned before because the market has matured. Just starting something and hoping that it will work and you will turn that into business as you can leave your day job and focus on that, I think that that is not happening anymore.


[00:34:12.610] – Vova Feldman

So you need to come with more strategy in place and do some analysis, understand what you’re trying to build, how big is what you’re trying to build, do some assessment of the market, understand your audience, whether they have money to pay for what you want to sell them, run those calculations. I think that in the past, because WordPress was still early on and because there are not a lot of products out there, many products just became market leaders because that was the only product. It was early enough. So they managed to take a big market share. And then, oh, cool. I have 100,000, 203 million active in sales. I can release a paid version and some of those will convert. And in that scale, most likely I can already focus on that full-time. But this is not the case anymore. It’s very hard to build that active installs base, even with premium products and the work as a story because of all the competition out there. My cat here is really interested to be part of the interview. I don’t know if you see that?


[00:35:34.620] – Jonathan Denwood

We’re pet peeve, don’t worry.


[00:35:36.960] – Vova Feldman

I don’t know if you see the closet behind the door suddenly open. He was sitting there the entire day and opened the closet.


[00:35:44.290] – Jonathan Denwood

If I run a YouTube cat channel, I make a lot more money than interviewing people in WordPress. I monetize my YouTube. I would get 100,000 views per video just filled with cats I know my place, so…


[00:36:04.920] – Vova Feldman

So I think you need to… My advice would be to do some research and preferably choose a market with an audience that have money?


[00:36:24.050] – Jonathan Denwood

I’ve been a bit negative a little bit in this. I don’t think too negative. I’ve just been straight in this interview. But on the other hand, I’m always amazed at the quality of a lot of the WordPress people. Look at Joel from the Fluent Forms. If you said to me, a new player in the form area could get that amount of traction and then build one of the best CRM systems in WordPress, that was really missing in the WordPress plugging environment, a good CRM system. And they built it with the form, with fluent forms. Great team, great developer, great person. And there’s just a load of those type of people. I’m always amazed at the quality of the people I meet. Some are so great, but in general, I’m always amazed at the quality. Would you agree with that?


[00:37:29.500] – Vova Feldman

With the quality of people.


[00:37:32.250] – Jonathan Denwood

And workers? Yes.


[00:37:33.280] – Vova Feldman

For sure. I have many friends that already… People that were… I just got to know through work camps, but we became really good friends right now. So I can definitely agree, not everyone. It depends on your personality and everything, but I definitely feel that I connected with so many people in our ecosystem. One thing that I want to mention about the forums point is that many people who are starting a new product, they’re thinking, Oh, I need to invent something new that no one else have done before. And I think that that’s actually the much harder way to do it. It’s much easier to actually tackle a mass market solution, whether it’s SEO or backups or whatever, something that every WordPress website needs. So yes, you are starting as an underdog with zero market share, but it’s enough that even if you conquer 1 % or 2 %, it’s a huge market. While if you choose a niche that it’s very narrow because it’s something unique and innovative and no one done that before, then you’re starting out with a potential 1 % market overall of WordPress. And even if you take 10 % of that market, which is much harder than taking 1 %, it’s 0.1 % one versus the 1 % that you can take if you go for a missed market solution.


[00:39:04.120] – Vova Feldman

So I actually feel that… And don’t feel it, I’m seeing that. That if you want to grow a business faster and get to that financial, not independence, but the ability to rely on that income, I would recommend to go for… Choose a problem that has known leaders in the space, figure out what else you can do there, preferably something in the user experience, because the experience of buying something many times relies on the UX. Something on that aha moment that you install something and this is exactly what I needed, boom. Okay, why should I go and search for other things? I can just buy.


[00:39:53.560] – Jonathan Denwood

It and move on. I think you’re totally spot on. And I think to hammer away a point, I think that was the one of the fundamental mistakes of the Guttenberg Project when it was initially launched was that for obvious reasons, it was developer driven. And also it’s a problem with open source. Any open source project is easier for developers to come in, do a ticket, jump out. That’s pointed out to me. You need a much more full-time team and upfront investment and commitment to spend the time and energy of working out your UX interface. And it’s been something that has improved recently, but it’s something that was woefully underrated and under invested when the project was launched to a level that was mind boggling, really. But it is what it is, what it is, basically.


[00:41:02.130] – Vova Feldman

You love the project? I see you love the project. You love the Gould & Burry project?


[00:41:07.330] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, I do actually, because it’s really necessary for it to be worked out and for it to be a big success. But I’m just not prepared not to see the failings because if there is an honest discussion in the end, it will lead to out of a disaster. But here we go. So if you were a king of WordPress, if you were the big honcho, you had all the control, what are some of the things that you would love to change in the WordPress professional marketplace? If you had the power, if you were given the rig, what would you do?


[00:41:57.140] – Vova Feldman

That’s an interesting and challenging question. I think that one thing that I’m seeing problematic right now, which ties to what you mentioned that WordPress is developed by developers, is that on one hand, we are going to that direction of making WordPress more friendly and accessible. But on the other hand, you still need to deal with the WordPress Admin Dashboard, which is not very user friendly. And it also leads to two experiences that you need to learn. You need to navigate through the builder and you need to navigate through the WP admin in order to make things happen. So if I had control of the workforce project, I think I relatively… It’s easy for me to say, there are like many volunteers and many decisions that needs to happen for that. But I would try to have an improved onboarding to WordPress to determine the level, the persona that is installing WordPress and going to use it. B ased on the persona, show a slightly different experience. So if you are a developer and you want to have access to WordPress inside out, then you get the full experience. But if you are just my mother, then you don’t want that.


[00:43:34.870] – Vova Feldman

You just want to drag and drop things, see how they look, and click on the publish button. And this is, I think, if we are looking on the competitors out there, the Wix’s, Squarespace’s, that’s the experience they have. There’s a reason for that. It’s cohesive, it’s easier, the onboarding is faster. It does add some challenges to people who are building extensions and all those capabilities on top, but it’s definitely doable. And again, my mom don’t need to do many of the things that are available in WordPress. So I think this is just one thing that comes to my mind.


[00:44:23.000] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, some people say because it’s open source and that you can’t really get fundamental improvements. I totally disagree. Obviously, because it’s a platform and you can do so many things, it can never… But I say that Wix and Squarespace, they’re getting more and more complicated because they’re adding more and more elements to their platform.


[00:44:48.350] – Vova Feldman

But it’s the other way around. There, in order to use those elements, you need to unlock them. On our side, it’s the opposite. You get everything, you’re overloaded, and then different plug ins and things that you can install to hide some of those complexities. So I think the experience could be divided based on the persona in it. It’s very easy to do that, technically. So that’s the perspective.


[00:45:18.670] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, but I’m sure it can be improved. But I think a lot of, back to my hobby horse, I think a lot of the energy that could have been moved to that side de of things have had to be thrown into sorting out because you’re on almost the fourth year. Like I say, you can see the end of the tunnel now. You can see the full site editing. I think personally, I think that’s a bridge too far. I think you could have that available as a professional option. There’s a lot of things that can be talked about. Good news for me, really, for a podcast, isn’t it? This wrapped up because this has been a great discussion. But if you had… Obviously, I’m English. Originally I’m English, originally from England, so I was a great watcher, Doctor Who and the Tardis. So if you had your time machine, your Tardis, and you could go back a few years when you were starting Fremious, what one or two things you would love to be able to tell yourself that would have helped the journey be a little bit less painful?


[00:46:39.430] – Vova Feldman

Yeah, it’s a challenging question because, in everything that we’ve done, there was a reason and learnings. And this is how all the mistakes that you make on the way, make you stronger. So obviously, if I could know the mistakes that we’ve made in advance and it would avoid them, that could have been perfect. I think if there were one thing I would say, we should have probably looked and built a better feedback loop when it comes to working in with agencies. One of the things that we started out and our product was towards developers. I’m a developer, I build plug-ins, so I understood that persona. And this is the network that we build and the community that we built. Our mindset was building from the… There was a developer that understood very well, but from a user perspective, perspective, we focused on the DIYer versus an agency. And I think over the years; we realized that those personas are very different and have different needs. And I think that if we had a better feedback loop, which right now we’re trying to build around that, to better understand agencies, and their needs, I think we could have saved ourselves a lot of headaches.


[00:48:33.870] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, I think you made a great point there. And it’s a point that’s misunderstood by the people that typically listen to this type of podcast or part of the community that you were part of is that there’s a whole agency environment out there, regionally based, Pacific niche, Pacific industry sectors. They utilize WordPress, but they have no active involvement in the WordPress community in any shape or form apart from utilizing the technology. Nor do they have any interest in being part of that community because their focus is building relationships in their town, city, or region. I saw that when I was working for a major Northern Nevada digital agency, a PR agency, the owner and founders’ concentration was building political and community relationships with people that could give her contracts. That’s what she was engaged in. She had no interest in any shape or form of being involved in WordPress, but they utilize WordPress almost every week for client websites. That’s a whole side that many people don’t understand, do they? Yeah.


[00:50:00.890] – Vova Feldman

While I have this opportunity, as we are talking about the topic, we would love to talk with agencies to get their perspective on the experience they’re having with Freemius and what we can do to make it better. Right now, we’re lacking that feedback. We’re getting it sporadically. But I would love to have a community where I will have relationships with agencies that can share what they need. And we would love to improve the product for them.


[00:50:31.950] – Jonathan Denwood

To finish off, are there any people, not only in the WordPress, but in general, through their blog posts, their Twitters? Is there anybody out there, a couple of names, that when you see any content that they publish through Twitter, through blog posts, through a newsletter that you follow yourself, that you’d like to share with the audience, that when you see something coming, I’ll just stop for a couple of seconds and see what they’re saying. Are there any names you’d like to share?


[00:51:04.580] – Vova Feldman

Yeah, I think I enjoy content and discussions on post status. That’s something I find useful.


[00:51:14.480] – Jonathan Denwood

I’ve been horrible to them. I take the mickey. I think they take it okay. I think sometimes they don’t appreciate my English humor, really. But here we go.

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#769 WP-Tonic This Week in WordPress & SaaS, We Interview Founder & CEO of Freemius Vova Feldman was last modified: by