The WP Minute+

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This episode of The WP Minute+ podcast features host Matt Medeiros in conversation with guest Marc Benzakein.
Marc is currently involved with two WordPress-related businesses – MainWP, a self-hosted WordPress site management plugin, and Site District, a managed WordPress hosting company.

Matt opens the show recapping his previous interview with Marc on The Matt Report podcast, where they discussed Marc’s former business ServerPress which has now shut down. Marc shares what he has been up to since closing ServerPress, including taking a 6 month sabbatical away from WordPress, before getting involved again working with smaller bootstrapped companies in the WordPress space.

Topics Discussed:
  • The high sponsorship costs for events like WordCamp make things difficult for small companies in the WordPress ecosystem. Marc and Matt debate whether the platform can sustain if sponsors pull out.
  • They discuss the necessary move towards block editors and full site editing for WordPress to stay competitive, even though some developers dislike it. The focus needs to be ease of use over speed.
  • Marc highlights the existential threat of keeping websites relevant when social platforms like Facebook offer quicker user engagement. All of WordPress needs to address this issue.
  • The dominance of big tech platforms and algorithms threatens the open web, as most content is now filtered through them rather than accessed directly. Podcasting faces similar challenges.
Key Takeaways:
  • Opportunities for WordPress pros with strong personal brands to work with multiple niche companies rather than one big corporate roleNeed to make 
  • WordPress site building competitive with social platforms for ease of use
  • All of WordPress needs to band together to demonstrate the benefits of owning your data with a website
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Marc: Hey Mark, welcome to the program.

Hey Matt, how are ya?

Matt: I'm doing well.

The last time you and I chatted, well,
technically the last time you and I

chatted was only a few weeks ago on
the first WP Minute Roundtable, but

the last time you and I had a therapy
session like this was back on the Matt

Report when we talked about a very
popular app, ServerPress at the time.

Recovering well.

I take it.

Marc: Yeah.

Um, and, and, uh, had I known we would
describe it as a therapy session, I

would have taken the room here at the
co work that had a sofa in it and,

uh, and told you about my mother, but,
um, who, by the way, is a fantastic

woman and just in case she's listening.


She, well, even if she's not,
she is a fantastic woman.

And I actually won the parent lottery.

There's no doubt about that.

So, um, Yeah.


Matt: Uh, so where is Mark these days?

What are you doing?

What's your

Marc: roles?

So these days I'm
wearing a couple of hats.

I am handling marketing and also
sales and marketing for, uh, sales and

marketing for a web hosting managed
WordPress host, uh, called Site District,

which is out here on the West Coast.

And then I am, uh, the marketing
lead for main WP, which is a.

Uh, WordPress dashboard management,
um, kind of ecosystem plugin.


So when you, when you,

Matt: when I get a whole like host of
ideas that I want to talk about, you

are trying to get them out of me in
the green room before we hit record.

But that's not the kind of
podcast host I am, Mark.

Marc: No, I'm just kidding.

I like to be prepared before I wing
everything and sound like an idiot.

So, you know.

Matt: How did you approach?

Did you approach these brands as like
a, cause I've seen this around and

I'm just curious, uh, I've seen the
title fractional CMO or, you know,

fractional marketing person, fractional,
this being used a lot these days.

And, and I really think about that.

Phrase and I really think about like the
future of human labor This is gonna get

deep like I think about the the the future
of human labor and artificial intelligence

I hear a lot of people saying things like
well AI is not gonna lose make you lose

jobs But you're gonna be elevated and like
the things you're really really good at

that's what people are gonna hire you for
And then I wonder, well, is that 40 hours

a week of my really, really goodness?

Or can I bring 10 hours a week to four
different brands of my really goodness?


And my, my big vocabulary there.

So we're not going to talk about AI
yet, but tell me how you approach

these two roles and have like
these split, these split minds.


Marc: um, first we have to go
back a little bit, um, I'll give

you a little bit of backstory.

So when we shut down ServerPress,
uh, you know, as one might imagine,

uh, this is the therapy part of it,
um, I, I kind of had to do a lot of

self reflection and decide what I
wanted to do and where I wanted to be.

And the conclusion I had come to, uh,
interestingly enough was I wanted to

step away from WordPress altogether.

I had actually felt that WordPress
had grown, had evolved to this point

that I didn't feel that there was
like a real place in it for me.

And what I mean by that is I like
to, I like to get my hands dirty.

I like to get into the nitty gritty
and understand things and be part of

the creative process and be able to
make suggestions that actually don't

go through, you know, 500 levels of
approval and discussion and then end up

falling on somebody's desk that just sits
there forever and nothing ever happens.

I am, of course, talking about the, the
corporate, you know, kind of, uh, world.

And that never appealed to me.

And I kind of had felt, I think, At
that point that, that there wasn't

really much of that out there.

I was wrong.

And part of it was I was
probably, you know, making a

bit of an emotional decision.

So I took about six months off.

I took about six months
away from WordPress.

And if I'm being honest, I think,
uh, Jonathan Wold over at, uh,

he's working on Guildenberg.

He and I talked early
on about Guildenberg.

And I thought, hey,
this sounds really cool.

You know, maybe I'll keep
an eye on what's going on.

And, um.

And he talked me into
attending WordCamp U.


last year in San Diego, which
was the first WordCamp, you know,

big WordCamp after, after COVID.

And I was approached by Matt over
at Site District, and he came to

me and said, Have you ever thought
about getting into WordPress hosting?

And I said, Yes, I have,
and no, I'm not interested.

And he said, Why not?

And he said, Because nobody
does WordPress hosting right.

And I went on this whole litany of
You know, things that I hated about

WordPress hosting, all these things.

And, and there might've been a
little bit of, you know, once again,

I just kind of felt like there
was no place for me there yet.

And, uh, and he had me
look at his dashboard.

He had me look at what he had been
building over the last 10 years.

And I thought, Hmm, this is really
fascinating what he's built.

And he said, would you like to,
you know, help me market this?

I've been doing it for.

Nine years we're growing, you know on
word of mouth and I'd like to do a little

bit more than that and I said sure and
so I got involved in that and Then I

started becoming more and more active
again and saying hey there are other

things here that I can do It has not
outgrown me and my and my skill set yet

but I don't know that I can do any one
thing, I would rather just find companies

that I really like that are kind of
engineered extremely well and they just

need a little bit of help here and there.

And so that, you know, uh, it started
with there and it just kind of evolved

into, you know, I've known Dennis over
at MainWP since they had just started.

Um, at ServerPress, we used
to, uh, Sponsor WordCamps,

uh, as you probably remember.

And, uh, I met Dennis at MainWP
back at WordCamp Orlando.

I don't know, 2014 or 2015
or something like that.

They were just getting going.

And, uh, we had our
tables next to each other.

Seemed like, I don't know
if it was coincidence or by

design after the first year.

And we got to form this, this friendship.

And, uh, then Dennis and I
started talking and I said, Hey!

You know, actually he said to me, Hey, you
know, we could use some help in marketing.

Would you be interested?

And I was, once again, it was
like, I really like this company.

I really like the people here and I
like what it represents, my core values.

And so I got into doing that too.

And it's, you know, for me, one of
my biggest core values is, is this a

company that focuses on customer first?

Kind of mentality, you know, and
and rather than money first or or,

you know, what's our ROI or that?

I mean, we always look at ROI.

Don't get me wrong, you know,
anybody tells you they don't is

lying But how do we get there?

And if the first tenant of of that
philosophy is Customer service

then I'm kind of right there and
then if their product is rock

solid Then I'm really right there.

And so I feel very fortunate To be
involved with these, you know, with these

situations and I'm and I'm, you know,
kind of over my My licking my wounds of

of server press at this point and and
seeing that there are actually a lot

of opportunities out there for people
who may be more like me not interested

in getting Out there into the corporate
world and having to, to deal with that

and want to just get their hands dirty
and, and be part of the creative process

where their opinion holds a little bit
more weight than it might in a big machine

with a lot of cogs and, and, uh, and

Matt: gears.

There's a lot of value in, of course.

Obviously your back catalog of, you know,
successes and failures in the WordPress

space, running a business, building
a product, knowing all sort of end to

end of that, you know, I've never built
a product as widely used as let's say

server press, uh, or had that kind of,
you know, momentum, but I think that.

You know, and I'll, I'll put ourselves
a little bit on a pedestal here because

I think it's important that other folks
listening to this recognize that they

have the same abilities or close to
that, that you and I both share, which

is again, running a business, building a
product, knowing the marketing, knowing

what the customer needs in a product
and being able to articulate that in

your marketing and your sales process,
but now doing it for another brand,

you know, largely, I guess this is why.

Gravity Forms hired me, right?

I've been doing it forever,
ran a business, ran an agency,

built products, marketed, right?

So they look at that and go, Oh,
you can relate the things that our

engineering team and our product teams
and our customer support teams need

to communicate with our end users.

Um, and I think that obviously that's
the advantage and the flexibility.

That that you have and I think that this
is where I was going with the crazy AI

hypothesis before was there are a lot of
people out there that that have these.

I don't know, pocketed skill sets that
don't demand a 40 hour a week job.

I mean, they could or whatever,
but I think there's flexibility,

particularly in the WordPress space
for good people to represent brands,

not, not like influencers, you know,
like Instagram influencers, but like

people that are people that are.

Understand the WordPress space,
which is not easy because you had

to be around for literally 20 years
to know like where it's, where it

started and where it's at today.

I don't have a direct question there,
but I'm curious if you feel the same way.

And if you feel the same, maybe
positivity for somebody listening

to this and say, yeah, you can
do this too with these skillsets.

Yeah, I,

Marc: I agree.

Um, and I think a large part of that and
one of the things that I don't know that

I, I probably did, uh, at a subconscious
level, but then, then actively, you

know, kept an eye on it, but managing
your personal brand is really huge,

especially in the WordPress community.

So part of that is, you know,
being obviously community oriented,

which if you're personal, you know,
when I say managing, that really

has to be a part of who you are.


You, you can't fake that you are
community oriented if you're not.

You can fake it for a little
while, but you can't do it forever.

You, you know, you have to, you know, in
the WordPress community, actually caring

about your fellow WordPresser matters.

Knowing what is important to them and
knowing your demographic is important.

But if you don't have a personal brand
that you've built up over the years,

it does become more difficult for me.

Um, I was fortunate that people
came to me, but that was because

I had, you know, in a way curated.

the part of my personality that fit,
that fit the WordPress community.

They are, they are a very big part
of me, but there are a lot of parts

of me that are not relevant to the
WordPress community that I don't

bring to the WordPress community.

And, and kind of being able
to tap into that, I think to a

degree can make you desirable.

And I think that there are a lot of people
out there, you are a perfect example that,

you know, uh, I, I don't know how you
came to be with Gravity Forms, but I'm

sure that if you offered your services,
they snatched you up in a second.

If you didn't offer your services and
they came to you, it's because, you

know, you're Matt Medeiros, right?

So, um.

Either way, uh, you know,
you've done the same thing.

You've curated your personal brand and
that has what has helped you to accomplish

what you have and be where you're

Matt: at.

I've seen a lot of founders try
to fake, like just to interject

on what you were saying before.

There's a lot of folks that That
forced themselves into being like,

can you like, Hey, I'm a founder.

People told me I have to
do this social media thing.

I have to talk about it.

And I've seen this and experienced it
with, with founders that I've worked

with who are, you know, they, it's just
like, it's just like, here comes January.

Everyone's going to get back to the gym.

And then by like March,
they're like, ah, this sucks.

Where's that pizza?

I'm going back to that pizza, you know?

And I see the same thing happen
over and over again with founders.

I call it like founder marketing,
like hire somebody like myself or

like Mark to fill that gap for you.

Because you're not going to be good at it
and you don't even need to focus on it.


Get somebody in the place that
understands both ends and don't

force it because forcing it just
is then just the worst thing to do.


Marc: Yeah.

I agree.

And I mean, back in the day, I kind of
think that this is, um, I, I remember

back in the nineties when I was running
a internet service provider and, and

the Cisco people sent someone out.

And, you know, because we were, you know,
looking at routers and things like that.

And they sent out a team of people.

They sent out, you know, a sales
manager and a sales engineer.

I loved the sales engineer because this
was the guy who could speak the language

of the engineers and he could speak
the language of the marketers and the

salespeople and, and bring it to a level
that those of us who were just starting

to learn what routing was and all that
could understand at a rudimentary level.

And I always was fascinated with that
position because I felt like that's what

bridges that gap between the, the genius
of an engineer who speaks engineering

and, you know, everything is a 10
page document on how something works.

And, and the person who doesn't
understand that 10 page document, there's

that guy who bullet points it, right?

And, and says, this is
what it'll do for you.

And this is how it will
benefit you, et cetera.

And I've always, I've always been
fascinated with that position.

And I've always felt like that's kind
of one of the roles that I kind of

fall into is, you know, I, I would
never be able to engineer a platform.

Like Site District, I would never be
able to engineer a, a, uh, plug in

like, uh, main WP or desktop server.

I was never, I would not be
able to engineer that, but I

could tell you what it does.

I could tell you how it works.

I could tell you how it benefits you.

I could tell you why it
works and all of that.

And I think that's a
really important role.

And I think once again, there are
a lot of people out there that,

that maybe don't realize that
that's, that may be their forte.

And that's really an,
it's like a translator.


Matt: Yeah.


I think about, uh, I have three
young kids, young boys, and I think

about that same scenario of like
the sales engineer and just like my,

okay, back to the therapy session.

Just like my, my life of growing up, it
was like, Computers like consumer desktops

were just coming in to play, right?

Like I had to, to play a game on
my dad's computer, I had to run DOS

prompts and put in a disc, right?

And get that thing going.

So as a kid, when, you know, parents
weren't looking like, you didn't

just turn on your PlayStation.

No, you had to run a command
to get this thing going.

And what the hell, I didn't
know what I was doing.

So I'm like reading a manual.

Trying all these things and all
of a sudden the game comes on.

I'm like, Oh my God, I, I
figured out this computer thing.

Fast forward.

I mean, building computers, uh, working
at circuit city, which really started to

fuse the gap of I'm a sales guy and I'm
helping people buy their, again, first

computers back then when each computer
was like 4, 000 and you were just making

tons of money as a salesperson and like
showing people, here's how you set this

up, here's how you set up a home network.

Here's how you do all this stuff.

Then I worked at an ISP, blah, blah, blah,
blah, like, and I start to wonder, Am I

gonna be able to get my kids to, like,
know the fundamentals of computing and

understanding, because now, oh my god, I
just start to think about, like, ChatGPT.

I'm letting my, my kids draw with
ChatGPT, and I'm like, holy shit,

I'm skipping a massive amount of,
like, Microsoft Paint, you know,

move the mouse and draw it yourself.

And now my kids are just making
chat GPT, make these crazy images.

And I'm wondering like, wow, how
do I get them rooted in the hands

on fundamentals of computing?

So that they don't skip all that
because that was what was super

valuable to me anyway, and I
assume to you is as well Yeah,

Marc: yeah, and did did I know that
you worked at circuit city because

you and I share that in our history?

I think maybe we probably talked about it.

We may have talked about it and
and uh, man Of course, I worked at

circuit city before they had personal
computers for sale at circuit city.

So, um, Uh, so I was I was in
the audio visual, uh, department.

But, you know, I, the way that I break
it down for things like that, um,

and, and this may be a little bit off
topic of what you just stated, but I

break everything down to mechanics.

So, whether it's electronic or whatever,
there's this logical progression, right?

And so, if you teach your kids mechanics,
how to do mechanical things, fix a

motor, or, or whatever it might be, you
know, and understanding what those parts

are, or you teach them biology, because
the body is a human machine, right?

If you teach people how machines work,
at a mechanical level, which is a

little bit easier to understand because
you're looking and seeing things and

you're touching things and you're
putting things together and making

them work and seeing how they interact.

And, you know, for me,
I'm a big clock guy.

I have about 30, uh, mechanical clocks
that I've collected over the years and

my watches are all mechanical watches
and, you know, and, and I, I I, you know,

gears fascinate me, but if you can look
at things, it's a lot easier to visualize

things, and if you can understand how
those work, then it makes it easy to

translate to computers and things like
that, because it's still just a logical

progression and how parts interact with
each other, and while you may not see

mechanical things work within each other,
there's still something going on there.

And, and I guess in a way that that's
what goes into critical thinking that goes

into a lot of things that are important.

And so going back to your showing your
kids chat GPT and skipping Microsoft

paint and all that stuff, if you've taught
them how mechanics work, if you've taught

them, How to build things with Legos.

If you've taught them how to, you know,
when I was a kid, we had Legos and erector

sets and, you know, and, and all of that.

And I worked on engines
with my dad constantly.

And if you can understand that,
then the rest of it just is just

another way to apply that knowledge
and that, and that experience.

And once you see that it makes
things click a lot easier.


Matt: I think I want to go back to.

Uh, the feeling of, of the feeling of
maybe WordPress isn't for me anymore.

I mean, you sort of coming off of,
you know, your sabbatical or going

into the sabbatical of six months
or whatever, you're taking time

off, you're done with this stuff.

What, what was it about WordPress that
you're, you know, obviously besides

the, the stresses of our last interview,
but what was it about WordPress?

You were like, yeah, this is not for me.

Was it, was it the software?

Like, man, this thing is moving in a
weird direction, or was it something else?


Marc: I, well, you know, I think
that part of it was there was

a little bit of disconnect.

Understand that we, that we had been
dealing with two years of COVID, and

there was that disconnect of no events,
no real interactions with people.

You kind of felt Or I, I shouldn't
say you, I should say I felt, let's

go to therapy once again, I feel
as though I felt disconnected and

like I was an island unto myself.

And while I did interact with
the people that I had established

contacts with, a lot of those
people had moved on to other things.

There are some people that I know that
are still running agencies, but they're

not necessarily working with WordPress.

Um, and, and it just felt
far more fragmented to me.


On top of that, the fact that it did
feel like everything was, had kind of

evolved to this corporate, not a lot of
room for startups, not a lot of room for

people who are bootstrapping it, kind of
feeling, which once again is, is because

we're operating in a vacuum, because we're
disconnected from everything, it just,

you know, it felt Like things were going
in a direction that that it's not that

I didn't think that that's the direction
they should go Necessarily it was more

that I didn't feel like there was a place
for me in That particular the particular

phase of evolution that WordPress was was
in and going towards I mean the reality

is those of us who have been around since
2013 or 2010 like I have or whatever.

I think most of us We knew where
WordPress was going, we've had

conversations ad nauseum about, you
know, the fact that it was getting

bigger and bigger and was going more
and more towards, you know, catering

to the big corporate interests because
it had to, because we have these events

that cost money and these big corporate
entities can afford to pay for them.

And that's just natural progression.

You can't fault.

anything for that.

So for me, it wasn't that I had
any resentment or any hatred

or any, or any disappointment.

It was, this is how things go
and this is not where I feel

comfortable or where I thrive.

So, um, so it was more a matter
of that, you know, I, I have.

been, you know, made of enough, you
know, enough trips around the sun

to kind of know where my strengths
are, where my weaknesses are.

And I'm, I, I'm also at this point in my
life where I'm not going to spend a lot of

time trying to make up for my weaknesses.

I'm just going to focus on my strengths
because, you know, Reality is, I'm on

kind of the last half of my life, so,
you know, I'm not going to spend a

lot of time on, on that kind of thing.


Matt: having critical focus on,
on areas that are really going

to, whatever, resonate you or,
or make you feel satisfied.

I mean, I, I'm sort of in the same boat.

This is my first, uh, just under a year
at Gravity Forms and went to WordCamp

US in DC this, this past summer.

And it was the first time that
I've seen WordCamp from the,

the sponsorship side, right?

I never did it with my,
with my small agency.

And when I was at Pagely for three years,
we never did it except for Pressnomics,

which was a whole event that they ran.

But I agree, man, the I'm curious,
curious isn't even the right word.

Like I am bearish on where word
camps are going in the future

because the costs are insane.

And the return on investment, like you
said earlier, whew, boy, like if I was

a smaller shop, like a, a, a barn tube
plugins or, uh, paid memberships, pro

Lyft or LMS, like these folks that are
out there that you have great businesses,

solid businesses for many years.

To get into like a WordCamp US,
you're talking 30, 40, 000 minimum

to sponsor, to be there, to have like
a few members of your team there.

Insanity, right?

You'll never get that money back
from, from that three day event.

And that's just, that's like nothing.

They have the bigger, I mean, hosting or.

Uh, foundation plus
sponsor of the WP minute.

Like their booth was massive, right?

And I told them, hey, guys, the for the TV
that you all rented for that booth in D.

C., you could sponsor the WP minute for
an entire year at my highest level for

the money that you spend at these events.

Marc: And that's evergreen.

And that's evergreen content
that they're investing in with

Matt: you.

Yeah, 100%.

And it makes me wonder, like, you know.

You know, sometimes people get into
the theory crafting of, of automatic

and it's, uh, you know, uh, uh,
overlordness of, of the space, but I

don't even think automatic would do
it if all of these events, if all of

these sponsors pulled out of the events.

I mean, how much Could they afford
to run a 3, 000 person, you know,

event like this with, with these, with
these events coming, it'd be like a

hundred K minimum for these big brands.

It's, it's, it's insanity spinning
back to, let's talk about the

software, uh, of WordPress.

I have been at 20.

We talked about this on
the, on the round table.

I think we touched upon it anyway.

I think 2024, which is the most recent
WordPress default theme is one of the

most important themes, um, that the.

That the core of WordPress has
released in in quite some time

because I think it's going to allow.

Users to get into the site
building experience using blocks

using the site editor, et cetera.

It's fairly good looking It's got a lot
of options a lot of rough edges still

I see people still like pushing against
blocks and site editing and Block based

themes where you land on that spectrum.

It's gonna lead into another part of the
discussion But where do you lean in to

the discussion of block based themes in
the future of site editing with WordPress?

Marc: I think it's the way that it
has to go, whether we like it or not.

I, you know, I think that, uh, you
know, look, you brought up DOS.

I'm an old DOS guy.

You know, I like command line.

I like text.

If you ask me what the ideal website
is, it's something that's like

Craigslist, only more organized.

I mean, you know, so like,
I don't want graphics.

I can design that.

I, yeah, I just want the information.


But that's me.

I think we have a few issues here,
and, and one is, first of all, you

know, uh, Matt Mullenweg, uh, several
years ago, you know, and, and once

in a while it comes up again as a,
as a theme, which is, you know, the

Wix and Squarespace thing, right?

And, and, you know, we
have to compete with that.

Now, WordPress is 43 percent of, or
42%, or however you want to look at

it, it's still the majority of, a huge
market share with the next person, the

next competitor being way behind that.


Matt: and also being Shopify, which is
not even a pure publishing platform.

Marc: I don't even know what to call
Shopify other than just e commerce.


And, and, and so you've
got that to compete with.

And the only way that you're going to get.

New people interested is
if they can drag and drop.

I brought up the experience that I had.

I had the experience with, on the
elevator with that, that woman who

just attacked us in, in Phoenix because
we worked for WordPress and she tried

to use it and absolutely hated it.

And I cannot tell you the vitriol
that came out of her mouth.

I mean, it, it is not safe
for people of my age to hear.

And so it was kind of an
insane sort of experience.

But I, but I think that the thing,
I think one of the things is though

we are asking the wrong question.

And I think that Dragon, I remember
when we went from DOS to Windows and

everyone was like, Oh, I hate Windows.

I hate this and that.

And you know, I hate the graphic
interface and blah, blah, blah.

But look at what's
become the market share.


You have Mac and you have Windows,
you know, you have a smaller, uh,

group of people who like Linux, but.

Ask how many people who use Linux are
running command line all the time.

They're using a graphical
interface drag and drop too.

So it's just the way, it's just the
way that things are going to go.

The question is how do we really
compete to where it's super easy?

To get to that drag and drop interface,
because the thing with Wix and the thing

with, with Squarespace is you sign up and
you're dragging and dropping immediately

with WordPress, you have to go to a
backend and it kind of reminds me of the,

the analogy I like to use is, is that of.

an iPhone versus an Android.

It's not super well known,
but some people know this.

iPhone, when they created their
phones, it was designed with

touch in mind from the get go.

So it processes touch first, whereas
Android was designed first, then they

found out about Apple's designs, and so
then they added touch and all of that.

as a secondary process.

So if you, even today, if you sit
with an Android, and I'm an Android

user, but if you have an Android next
to an iPhone, and you drag, and you

do all this stuff, you'll find that
the touch response on an Apple, on an

iPhone, is faster than on an Android.

Android makes up for that in,
you know, code enhancements,

but of course processing
enhancements and things like that.

I think that that's the issue
that we run into with WordPress.

WordPress is that cool.

Block editor and everything is designed
in the back end as a secondary process

Whereas Wix and Squarespace they were
designed with that drag and drop as the

primary process first So it will always
be faster now speed is important But if

it's also more complicated, that's where
you run into problems And that's what we

have to do with WordPress is we have to
accept that Graphical editing is here, you

know Like it or not, we have to make it so
that it's easy first, and speed will come.

Ease of use has to be like at the
forefront, and right now there's

still a little brain damage that you
have to go through in order to get to

that point, whereas these other quote
unquote competitors are far easier.

You, you log in, you sign
up, and you're ready to go.

Now the bigger question to me, and I,
I, I know I'm going on here, the bigger

question to me though is, and this is
a question that I think web hosting

companies need to ask, is how do we
continue to make websites relevant?

And the reason I say that is because
you look at something like Facebook.

I can set up a Facebook business page
and have engagement in less than an hour.

How do you compete with that, even
if it doesn't look great, right?

A website takes a little bit of work,
and then you have to drive traffic to it,

and you have to do all these things, and
you have to, you know, even if you have

the best SEO on planet Earth, and every
page scores 100, and all these things,

you're still going to build up to getting
traffic, whereas with something like a

Facebook or some other social media, it's
very easy to get engagement very quickly.

And when we look at You know, how do
we get more users to our platform?

We tend to go on this feeding frenzy
of people that are already, you know,

having websites or, or things like that.

But how long is it going to be before
people change their thinking to, I

don't need a website anymore, I can
just put up a Facebook business page.

It's already happening.

And, and that's what
we need to do, I think.

Personally, that we need to focus
on how do we keep websites relevant?

What can we do?

That's unique.

You know, there's of course e commerce and
things like that, but, but I think that

that's actually the next biggest threat
to our ecosystem and it's, it's from

outside of the WordPress world and outside
of website development and web hosting.

Matt: Yeah.

And when you put a, there was just
the crazy thread, um, I'll try to

remember to put it in the show notes.

I don't know if you caught it.

It was of course, like kind of.

Propaganda ish from a,
uh, AI writing tool.

Uh, I don't know if you saw it on Twitter,
Matt Mullenweg, Mullenweg actually

retweeted somebody else's response to
it, but the guy pretty much came out,

you know, he owns the AI writing tool
and he's like, look what I did, we stole

millions of dollars worth of traffic from
our competitors, you know, and he just.

You read the thread and it's just like,
all we, all we did air quotes was,

you know, take the site map, break
it down into HRFs to see what the top

content was, feed it into our machine.

And it created a bunch of content.

And over the course of a year,
we started outranking our

competitors, yada, yada, yada.

And it blew up because of like, you
know, it was fanfare and it was millions

of dollars worth of traffic allegedly,
you know, and, and somebody else cited,

well, you know, really what the, the real
issue here is, is Google allowing this.

You know to happen and in stating in us
that the only way to get traffic to our

website is Search right and then they're
gonna tax you on it by putting ads in

place and you have to buy ads to get that
traffic And then it just flips around in

like this crazy New York Stock Exchange
type of fashion and whoever's paying more

is gonna get it yada yada yada, right?

And that's the real impact on the
open web and You know, if you threw

search out the window, you know,
this is, this is a lot harder, right?

It's the same, your example of
Facebook page is like the same

stance, you know, web users or web
agencies or web professionals tried

to reinforce with our customers.

That is rented land.

You don't want that because the
algorithm can change at any time.

You don't own it, et cetera, et cetera.

That's like the same flag we're going to
be trying to fly for websites, you know,

in the future and there's a big, this
happened, this is happening across the

board on all areas of, of, of content.

I mean, look at news, most people are
going to get it in a filtered fashion

coming out of, let's say Google news or
yahoo news or facebook news or facebook

algorithm or twitter algorithm, right?

So it's already like.

What is the open web to
an average user, right?

Like when they're reading and
consuming content, it's already

coming out of another algorithm.

It's not, but even to you and me, it's
happening because it's not like you

and I are searching, let's find a new
website about, you know, this news source.

We don't do that.

We just let the algorithm tell us.

Um, and this is also happening
in, because I live in two

worlds, WordPress and podcasting,
because they're both open source.

Publishing, you know, one's written,
one's audio, but YouTube is finally like

or Google is finally reinvesting back
into into podcasting and now they're

allowing folks to have their YouTube
channels will just consume an RSS feed.

I don't want to get like super
technical into this, but just like

you would go and give your RSS.

Podcasts, RSS feed to Apple or Spotify.

Now you're going to do that in YouTube.

If you have a YouTube account and it's
just going to scoop up the RSS feed.

The issue is, is, you know, you
have all of these hosting platforms

that for podcasting that have, let's
say dynamic ad insertion or like

other ad mechanisms for the creator
to make money, YouTube is saying.

That is not allowed.

We're going to strip that out.

Uh, you're not, and even if it gets in
there and we find out probably from the

algorithm, it gets demonetized, right?

And they're only going to
want their ad platform in.

And then you have all these
podcasters who are like, Oh, great.

Now I can have a video podcast.

Well, no, you don't, don't want for that.

Like, don't let that be your goal because
the only place it'll be available.

is YouTube, right?

And people just don't get it that when
you feed the machine, we're losing

the opportunity for open publishing.

I mean, at the end of the day, I think
the one, can you imagine, can you

imagine 20, 30 years ago, if RSS, the
technology was allowed to flourish,

if like everyone just had an RSS feed
and technology was built on top of RSS

feed, like follower count feeds and.

It would be amazing, but what the, what
the big tech companies that would say,

no, no, no, get that the hell out of here.

We don't want anybody to
see this RSS thing, right?

Cause now that, that means
people could talk to each other

and they could share data.

We don't want that.

We want it all plumbed
through our, uh, algorithm.

And it's, um, It's it's crazy.

There's no question there either.

It's just like I started to think about
what the heck's happening to the web

Marc: Yeah, but that's a
hard sales pitch, isn't it?

Yeah, because here's here's the
reality the reality of things is

that you can't empathize or feel
something till you've been through it

Mm hmm, you can fake empathize it But
until you've been through it, right?

You, you can't really,
you can't really feel it.

People make decisions
based on what they feel.

So unless you've been screwed by a Google
algorithm or a Facebook algorithm, or

somebody's algorithm, or a Gutenberg
block, or a Gutenberg block or,

you know, or, or, or something like
that, it's, it's a hard sales pitch.

And, and, and.

I mean, this is something, when it
comes to me marketing, this is something

that I struggle with every day.

How do, for instance, and, and, you
know, this is not necessarily, you know,

I, I don't want to like, hey, this is
our product and you want to buy it.

But a struggle that I have, for
instance, with mainwp is mainwp is

kind of, I think, the only plugin
that is, you own it, you own the

data, you own, Everything about it.

It's not a SaaS, it's not hosted
on a cloud or anything like that.

You have everything.


How do you pitch that so
it's meaningful to somebody?

Well, it's not meaningful to them
until they've lost their data or until

to, to, or, or the, or, uh, a cloud
service hikes up their prices or,

you know, or a SaaS model hikes up
their prices or something like that.

Then all of a sudden it becomes
meaningful because you felt it.


We vote for whoever we want as a, you
know, in a political party because

we felt something that burned us in a
certain way and that becomes our one

issue that we vote on or vote against.

And, and so that's a tough pitch
when you say, look, yeah, you can

set up your Facebook page in an hour
and have engagement in an hour, but

you don't own any of that data and
they're collecting all kinds of stuff.

And you never know when they're going
to suddenly start charging for that and

you don't know this and you don't know
that Because you're on their platform

and until we've all experienced a certain
amount of that It's it's very difficult

to sell people and when you Bring up the
average user, you know, the average user,

they just want to get on their computer,
go to the web, find what they want to

find and get what they want to get.

And, and that's it.

Matt: Let me wrap it up with
the two call to actions.

Then we didn't, we didn't really talk
too much about, about your businesses,

but I, but I want to give you.

I do want to give you some air time.

It's fantastic conversation.

I mean, it went by in seconds.

Mainwp, mainwp.

com, sitedistrict.


Mainwp, I'm just looking
at the functionality.

You can start for free and then
going pro is starting at monthly

29 bucks a month, manager sites, 32
extensions, site district, sitedistrict.

com, WordPress hosting.

You are the sales guy there.

If somebody reaches out, they
can, they can chat with you.

Marc: Yeah, they can chat with me.

Um, what I really like to do with Site
District because it is a unique platform

is I like to set up one on one demos
with, with them, like in a Zoom session.

So we're not interested
in super fast growth.

We're interested, we fancy
ourselves as a collaborative host.

So we're not just a utility that's
just there to host your space.

We're there to help you get your
online presence working as efficiently

and as securely as possible.

And we have a ton of tools
in the dashboard that.

Nobody else has, and you can get
started for free and, and build a

whole site and use 100 percent of
our functionality for free with, with

really pretty much no restrictions.

But, um, but I do prefer to sit
down and get to know our customers

kind of one on one with that.

So, yeah,

Matt: I did the same thing at Pagely.

If you go to the pricing page at Site
District, you can play with some sliders.

Uh, websites start for 25 bucks a month.

Uh, I brought it all the way to the end.

7, 144, which is, uh, in
enterprise world, not that bad

Marc: because

Matt: I've seen some bills before
at Pagely for some big brands

and seven grand isn't that bad.

Marc: Uh, yeah, but I will also, I will
also say not that I feel that that we're

limited, but I would say that we really
cater to, I'd say we're a good host for

about 90 percent of the people out there.

But there are some instances
where we might say.

We're not the host for you.

And we're happy to say that too.

We, you know, we really are
interested in customer retention

and slow, steady growth.

And, and, um, and so, uh, we're
very frank with our customers.

They know exactly where we stand
and, and, uh, we're, we're happy

to help them with their online
presence if, if we're a good fit,

Matt: cool.


com site, district.

com mark.

Thanks for hanging out today.

Marc: All right.

Thanks, Matt.

Matt: That's it for today's episode.

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