The WP Minute+

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In this episode of WP Minute+, we sat down with Brendan O’Connell, a WordPress agency employee, freelancer, and content creator. Brendan shared his journey in the WordPress ecosystem, from his early days with Divi to his current role at an agency and his transition to using the Bricks builder.
Brendan’s story is a testament to the evolving landscape of WordPress development and the challenges faced by agencies and freelancers in adapting to new tools and technologies. He offers valuable insights into the world of page builders, the importance of community involvement, and the future of WordPress.
Key Takeaways for WordPress Professionals:
  • Transitioning between page builders can be challenging but may lead to improved workflows and client satisfaction.
  • Staying up-to-date with core WordPress developments, including Gutenberg and site editor improvements, is crucial.
  • Creating content (like YouTube tutorials) can lead to unexpected business opportunities and community growth.
  • Attending local WordPress meetups can provide valuable insights into user struggles and needs.
  • Balancing multiple roles (agency work, freelancing, content creation) requires careful time management and focus.
  • The WordPress ecosystem benefits from a healthy third-party plugin and theme community.
  • AI will likely impact the industry, but human interaction and interpretation remain essential in web development.
Important URLs mentioned:
  1. Brendan’s YouTube Channel:
  2. Brendan’s Website:
  3. Bricks Builder:
  4. Pine Grow (Custom Block Builder):
Chapter Titles with Timestamps:
  1. [00:00:00] Introduction and Brendan’s WordPress Journey
  2. [00:04:00] Transitioning from Ruby on Rails to WordPress at the Agency
  3. [00:08:00] The Shift from Divi to Bricks Builder
  4. [00:15:00] Page Builders vs. Core WordPress Development
  5. [00:20:00] Evaluating and Choosing Page Builders
  6. [00:24:00] WordPress Onboarding and Hosting Considerations
  7. [00:27:00] Brendan’s YouTube Channel and Content Creation
  8. [00:31:00] Future of WordPress and Exciting Developments
  9. [00:32:42] AI in Web Design and Development
★ Support this podcast ★

What is The WP Minute+?

For long-form interviews, news, and commentary about the WordPress ecosystem. This is the companion show to The WP Minute, your favorite 5-minutes of WordPress news every week.

Matt: Hey, Brendan,
welcome to the program.

Brendan: Hey, Matt, thanks for having me.

Matt: we were just chatting
before we hit record.

this is the first time we've met.

I've seen you maybe chatted with
you, through YouTube's chat box, but

other than that, it's a pleasure to
finally connect and, and have you on.

You run, well, you do a lot of things.

We're going to get into it, but your
YouTube channel, just so I can call

it out at the top of the show and get
everybody subscribing to your channel.

As well, it's youtube.

com slash at Brendan
O'Connell W P I have that.


You cover a lot of brick stuff,
other WordPress tutorials.

We're going to talk about
that in a little bit.

Your full time job is at an agency.

Then you also do your own consultancy.

You have your own practice.

On the side, we're going
to chat all about that.

how long have you been
doing this WordPress thing?

Brendan: Yeah, so I've, I've been
a WordPress user sort of full

time, I guess, since about 2017.

Dabbled in it a little bit before
that and just really enjoyed

the whole, the whole experience.

Learned a lot.

There's so many great people
in this space to learn from.

And, the agency I work at
is actually pre WordPress.

So they've been around for like 25 years
and didn't use that for a long time.

I've sort of helped them transition
to using WordPress full time.

So, that's sort of what I've been doing.

Matt: What were they using
like a homegrown CMS or were

they using another platform

Brendan: Yeah, they're using
something they built on Ruby on

rails that is very much on rails, so
to speak, in the sense that there's

like a lot of guardrails built in.

So the notion of working with WordPress
was kind of off the table because it was

just too much freedom for the clients
that we wanted to serve, I guess.

Matt: Well, back in my day when, before
I got my experience with WordPress, I

was working at an ISP, internet service
provider, and we purchased another ISP.

They had a web development firm attached
to it and, they were using their own.

This is many, many years ago.

they're using their own
homegrown CMS called Squirrel.

it was a play on SQL and some of
the terminology around it, that

the developers built, but it was
very much a homegrown system.

What's the, what, what type of,
sites are you building at the agency?

Is it, are they still all 100 percent
now on WordPress or are they still

transitioning the, the rail stuff?

What does that client look
like, at the agency day job?


Brendan: hundred active clients
and some of them have been around

since, as I said, pre WordPress,
you know, they've had retheming done

on the sites and things like that.

so probably about half of the
clients are still on that and then

the other half are on WordPress.

And so, you know, it's a slow transition.

It's there's a lot going on there.

And of course we have new
projects coming in all the time.

But the typical client is, is honestly
probably just a small business client

that, that is under 20 employees total.

we have a good number of those.

I would say also that because we're,
you know, we're in a fairly small town

in California, you know, not in LA, but
in the peripheries, basically that, we

have a lot of clients that are actual
like government service providers,

city, city projects that happen.

So we do have, there's an ability to
sort of get a leg into the clients

that have, you know, I guess higher
budgets too, but also, you know, more

importantly have clients in there, you
know, working in the site and trying to

build stuff, in a very long term manner.

A lot of, you know, like the local trash
company and then they, they sponsor events

and then you, you get those sites too.

And so you build a network
within your local community.

I think that, I think that's sort of
overlooked these days that people,

everyone wants to like work overseas
and, you know, all that stuff, which

is, you know, there's merit to that,
but, yeah, we've had good success

working with a lot of local businesses.

Matt: you find yourself looking for the
same type of client, smaller client for

your own consultancy, your own practice?

How do you figure out which
client you'd like to take on

for that side of the house?

Brendan: Yeah, I mean, it's a
good question because it's always

sort of a gamble that you make
when you're taking on more and

more complex projects, especially.

I mean, right now, I just do
this by myself, but you know,

I have people I can lean on.

But the fact of the matter is that,
do you want to pay your bills doing

a lot of really complex projects?

Or do you want to have More
reliable, like steady income.

That's maybe smaller projects.

there's, there's merit to that.

I, you know, what do I prefer?

I'm here to, I'm here to grow.

I I'd like to learn more.

I'd like to, to work on projects
that are, have, have higher stakes.


but I can totally see the merit
in, in not always pursuing that.

Matt: I just did a live stream with
Mark Szymanski and we were talking about

like the types of clients because he
and I, you know, he's always chatting

me up about stuff, about, you know,
running the agency, running the business.

And I know there's always, he's always
putting out a lot of content on the page

builder side, like when to use bricks.

And I know there's always a constant,
tug of war happening with like,

Hey, WordPress core, like site
editor, Gutenberg block editor

versus fill in the blank with these.

Your favorite page builder, whether
it's bricks elements or beaver

builder, Divi, there's always that,
that constant, Discussion or debate

happening, which is, which is cool.

but sometimes like at the
end of the day, the client.

Just wants the solution like the client
there's clients out there There's

I don't I don't care what you build
it on just yeah, I need you to solve

my problem and that's that can range
pretty greatly in the agency space and

Brendan: Absolutely.

Matt: and I talked about is like hey,
maybe maybe you just want to stay like

what I'll call like freelancer level That
doesn't even mean like Small budgets.

It just means I just want to be able
to maintain a stable of customers

that I don't need to hire people.

I don't need to grow a team.

I don't need to be doing payroll
and increasing my insurances

and getting office space.

Like I just want to stay in this
lane, which means I might be capped

revenue wise, but that doesn't mean
like you're getting small projects.

Brendan: it doesn't mean you
can't grow in the future too.

If you're building up a steady supply
of, of recurring business, you have

happy clients that are starting to
refer, you can always scale later.

Matt: Do you do you for your own stuff?

Do you use Bricks or I guess
at the agency and your stuff.

Do you use bricks in both places?

Brendan: I do.

Yeah, I, I sort of came to bricks
personally and brought it to the agency

and proposed that we started using that.

So it was, it was a hard sell and it took
me probably a year just to convince them.

Not that we were super happy with Divi.

Although, you know, Divi will
always have a soft spot in my heart.

It was the first PagerBuilder I really
fell in love with and saw, saw the

vision because I don't really come
from a strong, you know, I'm not a

coder by, by training necessarily.

It's sort of by, I've
thrown into the gauntlet.

so, but I, I've really taken
to bricks and I really saw the

vision of the workflow for me.

And, and I just had to, I
had to get them on board.

And it, so far it's
been a great experience.

Matt: i'd imagine and this is no offense
to you, but I imagine that if they

built something Homegrown with ruby on
rails that they have more like hardcore

developers on the team that built that
And then when you bring in a tool like

this, they're like no We we want to
write lines of code to get the job done.

Did that happen?

Is that a fair assessment?

Brendan: Yeah, absolutely.

I mean, that's why just moving
to WordPress was not even

on the table for many years.

you know, so I would say getting
them on board with that was,

was a challenge for sure.

But I think they, they have seen the
vision that, you know, we have a certain

set of tool set that we use now and the
kind of projects we can build are just

a lot better and they can scale better.


And it's easier for clients
to edit at the end of the day.

Matt: it putting bricks aside
or putting a page builder aside.

Did you have to sell them
on the idea of WordPress?

And if so, what was your
sales pitch to the team?

Brendan: Yeah, I mean,
that's a good question.

And it was kind of a few years ago
now at this point, but a lot of it's

driven by the feedback from clients.

you know, we were not in the business of
like blocking sites away from clients.

And I do appreciate that WordPress has
that sort of open, open source mentality.

There's so many plugins and themes,
but that was a downside for many years.

because it was so, there's
just too many options and

that's probably still the case.

There's how many themes, right?

but was it a hard sell for WordPress?

I think yes, security was always a
concern to, client editing capabilities,

but, but at the end of the day,
clients would come to us and say,

well, do you guys build with WordPress?

And you know, we, we did and, but not
in this, in the same scalable way.


I think we just saw, I mean,
anyone can tell you, right?

How much WordPress content
there is right there.

There's so much out there.

There's so much, data
portability, all these things.

I think that, we're important to clients.

Matt: The, when you switched over
from like moving from Divi to bricks,

what did you have a, how did you
introduce that to the customer?

Cause that's always one of the issues
I have when, when I ran an agency,

it wasn't really until like the back
half of my time there where I started

using Again, this like years ago.

So at the time is like beaver builder.

It was the cleanest, best
approach that I could see at the

time for a page builder tool.

And kudos to them.

They're still, they're
still doing their thing.

Like they still have a customer base.

If I were to ever go back into using
a page builder full time, that's

probably the one that I would pick
because I feel most comfortable

with them and they seem like good
people and they're still in business.

But the idea

Brendan: And they're
focused on the agency too.


Matt: and they're focused on the, yeah.

And they're focused on the agency.

But the issue was like, man, I, I
couldn't, there was no way I could

use a page builder on a big, like one
of our big like enterprise E clients.

because there's just too much risk with,
And I have to tell them, look, my, the

whole site is built on beaver builder.

And if something ever changed
with beaver builder, they would

look at me and go, wait a minute,
you use that tool to build this.

And I didn't want them ever to,
to like, I didn't want to ever

have to be in that scenario.

So everything was more air quotes, hand
built, more hand coded, traditionally for

my bigger clients, but for the customers
who were like, Price point and speed is

our most important aspect of this project.


Bring in the page builder, but
the customers that wanted more

stuff, had more functionality.

It was like, Nope, you got a
developer and a designer attached to

this project as a project manager.

This is a full scale thing.

We're talking 120 days to roll out
whatever it was with, you know, whatever

it was we were building for them.

that's a long way of getting
to the question, which was,

did you ever have that?

What was that leap like for you, Divi
to, bricks and did you have to have

those conversations with customers or
did it just get smoothed over as you

maybe transitioned into a new project?

Brendan: Yeah, I would say mostly
clients don't even know what page

builder they're using half the time.

What site, when they log into their
site, we, we tell them, we can give

them instructions on it, all that stuff.

But the way our clients are
editing sites is usually in custom

fields or with, with Gutenberg.

They're not, they're not really
in the bricks editor that much.

Now we do have tools that allow them to
do that, but I think there's a broader

conversation right to be had about as
an agency clients come to us and they

trust us, whatever tool we use, I think
at the end of the day, as, as long as

we're getting the job done for them.

Now there's a even broader
conversation to be had about.

using core, staying close to core,
using, you know, custom blocks and

custom themes for those types of clients.

And that is something that I'm
learning more about for sure.

especially with the precarity of, of
page builders, as you mentioned, I mean,

you know, I'm all in with bricks, right?

I'm here to sell everyone
right on the vision.

that being said, there was a
huge hack earlier this year.

There've been page builders, as
we all know that come and go.

So that is, those are real
thoughts I have to have for sure.

Matt: Yeah.

The year, again, years ago, Divi was
notorious and I don't fault them for this,

like a lot of the stuff that, I, I try
to see like both sides of the discussion

because even like Gutenberg and, and site
editor and, you know, All the stuff, all

the stuff happening with WordPress is this
is all like iterative and it's happening.

Like it's, it is getting better.

It's not like you haven't seen an
update happen in, in six months, every

week, if not every day, there's like
something new that's coming and iterating.

And that's largely how software works.

Again, you look at the iPhone.

Every year they come
out with a new iPhone.

You're just like, eh, it's
just like 5 percent better, 10

percent better than the last one.

You're not like blown away by
any change that they're making.

But if you looked at the iPhone from
five years ago, you'd be like, Oh wow,

there's a lot of stuff changed here.

I feel like that's the same
way that all software works.

We're slowly getting these updates.

but Divi was notorious for, you
know, if you, if you ever shut off

it was a short codes everywhere.

And there was no way you, you,
you couldn't do anything with it.

It's just, you, you just weren't,
you weren't migrating away from that.

You were stuck in it.

And if you ever shut it off, your
site was basically dismantled.

And then you had to like
rebuild from the ground up.

I assume they've getting better.

I'm assuming all these page
builders are, are getting better.

I know with Gutenberg, you can,
Take the HTML of the block and

bring that over to another platform.

If you were to ever like leave WordPress,
at least you had that, at the core level.

you know, but customers might want to
be bought into the WordPress experience

because they might look at it and say,
Hey, if we ever leave you as an agency or

as a freelancer, we want that portability.

Like we don't want that because we want
to be able to take this somewhere else.

And I guess you don't want
to get caught flat footed.

Not communicating that to the customer.

If that makes sense, like you don't
want to be the one that was like,

Oh yeah, I built you this thing.

Then they leave and then they, you
know, you don't have a referral anymore

cause you're like, God, Brandon,
you, why did you build it with this?

Cause we can't move it somewhere else.

Brendan: And that's, and that
gets back to why I tried to get

people to, at my company, at my
company to move to WordPress.


Because that, that is a real
conversation that happens for

Matt: yeah.

Brendan: And same with like Webflow.

I mean, you know, we got people that
sometimes want a Webflow site and that's

a conversation we have to have is like,
and the same with Wix and Squarespace.

Look, your data is there.

If you ever want to move, you're
rebuilding every single thing.


Matt: Do you, do you have a lot of
requests for webflow at the agency?

Brendan: not a lot, but that might
be just the market we're in too.

I mean, it could be
the, our reputation too.

Who knows?

I mean, there's, there's all
the things that factor there.

Matt: One of the interesting
things that I'm always like, Oh,

always trying to monitor from.

Like a consumer's perspective is all
these like add ons and third party

softwares already exist for Bricks
and Bricks is still growing itself.

Like at what point will you just see
Bricks starting to absorb all of these add

ons that are largely features of Bricks.

And Bricks is like, Oh, you know what?

We're, we're going to do it now.

I mean, just like we've seen with
WordPress and Jetpack, right?

Brendan: Yeah, I think that, I think
that's the business model in WordPress

for the most part, let people iterate
in the third party communities and

subsume it, which is, it's fine.

Bricks does the same thing.

They've recently, they
added a variable manager.

they've added, you know, several
different things that, that

third party has already had.

And that's good.

I think.

Matt: Do you see, what is the, is there
a general feeling in the air about that?

Like, sort of like when jet pack releases
something, people are like, Oh God,

you're, you're putting out a business.

These other three small like
plugin providers, is it a positive,

feeling in the, in the brick space
when, when that happens, is there

a communication from bricks, the
mothership to the third party ecosystem

that you've, that you've noticed?

Brendan: I think there, I think
there is conversation between

some of the third party plugin
developers and Bricks leadership.

I think that they're kept.

I don't think there's anything
not transparent about it.

I think they just know the
right questions to ask.

And I think, for example, I'll give
one the advanced themer add on.

He, he was working on multi select in
the panel, which actually Gutenberg

has, where you can select multiple
elements in the structure panel and

delete or modify them how you want,
not just element by element bricks

has announced they're working on that.

So I think he was, you
know, disappointed, right?

That he had, he had probably done
half the work for it only to hear that

bricks themselves were working on it.

So there's, and that's a,
that's a real concern, right?

Cause he's one of our most talented
developers in the community.

shout out to Maxime of Advanced Themer.

Matt: I mean, it happened with Elementor.

I'm sure you've, you've seen it with
probably Divi and obviously it happened

with core WordPress, Jetpack and
other plugins that are out there, but

certainly with Elementor, once they
were starting to skyrocket, it took

a couple of years before I started to
see this add on ecosystem happening.

And it just seemed like
out of nowhere, like.

Bam, here's bricks.

And then here's like this third party
community, which I guess makes sense

because everyone saw how fast it happened.

Like how fast you could grow an ad on
ecosystem with Elementor and cadence and

all these other themes, generate press, of
course, studio press from back in the day.

yeah, I think a lot of people
just saw the, the opportunity,

Brendan: Yeah, and they are filling
it, they are filling important

gaps that Bricks hasn't met.

so, or at least they're
pushing the boundaries of

what we expect as a community.

Which I think is good.

I think it's, it's sort of that healthy
competition within the bricks community

that we all love within WordPress
that keeps people on their toes,

keeps people iterating and innovating.

So I, I see it as a positive and I hope
that third party developers see, their

work that inspires bricks, the, you know,
the, the core of bricks to, to get better.

I would see that as a positive
for the whole community.

Matt: One of the things that I've,
I've talked about, publicly before is.

I feel like Folks will jump pretty
quickly, like jump off their, their, their

tool of choice for something cheaper with
one or two more features, maybe it's not

happening as much these days, but man, I
feel like over the last couple of years.

It was just like, man, a new
feet, new thing, oxygens out.

Let's jump to this break dance things out.

Let's dance over that direction.

Here comes bricks.

Let's, let's get that too.

I feel like there's, there's a lot of
freelancers or agencies that weren't

really investing in the tool themselves to
like, let these, Let these things mature,

like you bought it, buy into it and keep
investing in them so that they survive.

but then also like you must be
setting up a bird's nest of a system

to, to support in your own business.

Like six customers over here
have this tool, eight customers

over there have that tool.

And now you're onto this.

This new thing that's just my general
sentiment no direct question But did

you have you observed that at all?

Do you have any feelings on on

Brendan: Yeah, absolutely because I
mean you brought up beaver builder

in that example earlier And I
think a lot of people have been

10 year anniversary Maybe more.

that's a stable builder
to use at this point.


I mean, like that, that's something
that hasn't gone out of business.

and so I think, I think there's,
there's something to that.

Like having too many, too many
things that we're learning.

There's always going to be
new, something new popping up.


and, and I, I fall, I fall prey
to that too, unfortunately.

I, I, I'm really trying not to do that.

And part of that is me actually
jumping into core, WordPress into

Gutenberg and just building layouts.

Because I think not enough people
are just going in there and seeing.

Like you talked about some of those
improvements, some of those small

improvements, we see the preview of 6.

6 coming.

There's a lot of stuff
that's, that's improving.

And I am making a concerted effort
myself to like, stay on top of that,

best I can, you know, I don't have so
much time in the day, but not enough

people are just, you know, Thinking
about, I think, yeah, you're right.

It's going from builder to
builder is not the way to go.

You need to, you need to develop a solid
workflow with a standardized set of

tools and that might be closer aligned
to core than, than a lot of people think.

Matt: yeah.

Do you have a set of criteria?

That is probably way too, way too.

You probably don't even want to think
about this, but I'll ask it anyway.

Do you have a certain set of
criteria on how you might evaluate

switching to a new page builder?

Is there something like it must do to be
good enough for you to say, okay, this

is, this is why I would make the leap.

Brendan: Yeah, I think, I think all
the things that drew me to bricks

are the things that are keeping me
with a more advanced page builder.

you get a section element
right out of the box.

I can use a CSS framework.

and speed up my workflow
tremendously there.

And I can use dynamic data in a way that
is just so straightforward and easy.

It's just right in the builder.

I can build nested query loops.

That is a tremendous power, I
think, to have at your fingertips.

And you can, you can build, you can
build a lot of this stuff in core.

It requires more coding.

There's no doubt about it.

Matt: the debate on like using, you
know, bricks versus, or I guess, I

mean, I guess I say bricks is your, your
specialty is in bricks, but I guess it

could go for, you know, whatever, any
page builder that you, that you pick.

Brendan: agnostic though
at the end of the day.

Like, I like a good tool that gets out
of my way and lets me build correctly.

Matt: on the WordPress side.

I'm of the mindset of saying like, Hey,
there's no need to, is there's no need

for page builders to try to influence
core WordPress because I think, I

think a healthy third party ecosystem
is already a victory for WordPress.

In other words, like if you have, like
you have the choice to go and get a

third party tool, so if you don't like
the Gutenberg side of it or the site

editor side of it, yes, you do have a
choice of going to pick any of these page

builders, you know, to get the job done.

I don't see the need to, maybe say
one is better Better than the other.

And it happens from like both camps.

well, Gutenberg says you should
be doing, or the core team says

you should be doing it this way.

And then Elementor or bricks might
be saying, well, no, you, you know,

WordPress should be doing it this way.

I think the victory is WordPress
continues to, to succeed no

matter which tool, that you pick.

Is that, do you feel the same way?

Like, do you feel like.

By choosing, by having any tool
WordPress still wins or do you have

you ever think like WordPress might
not win because of all the fragmented

experiences that are out there?

Brendan: No, that's sort of
a great important question.

I, I think, I think
WordPress is gonna do fine.

I think they've proved themselves to
be, to be able to carry this project.

I have, I have hopes for,
for the, the block editor.

And it will, I assume it
can only improve, right?

It, it's, now I am concerned about
the fragmentation even within.

Certain page builder communities, you
know, you got back to how many third party

plugins exist for some page builders.

It becomes very overwhelming.

And then you get someone like Elementor
who could easily threaten to leave

WordPress and take a significant chunk
of web traffic, web traffic with them.

you know, that, those are, those are
concerns I'm sure that people at core have

already, and I'm sure they're thinking
about this much longer term than me.

Matt: It would be interesting
to see, especially now that

Elementor is in, hosting, right.

And they have, hosting one of the
biggest reasons why I, I, I think,

Tools like Wix and, and Squarespace
might still be recommended from

people who build WordPress sites.

In other words, oh, my, my neighbor's
cousin came over and said, can

you build me a WordPress website?

And you're like, no, no, I don't
want to do this for, not for you.

but go check out maybe
Wix and Squarespace.

Cause it's a much easier thing.

Cause in the back of your head,
you're knowing, oh God, this

person's never going to, they're
never going to figure out WordPress.

but Elementor.

And I'd even say web hosts like
vanilla web hosts have the ability

to, shape that initially onboarding
experience that could make it easier,

for WordPress for those types of users.

Like instead of recommending them to go
to Squarespace and Wix, maybe we should

focus on having them having Elementor or
Bluehost come up with a, an affordable

way to onboard, you know, customers

Brendan: Yeah, and, and this,
to my understanding, this

is basically what wordpress.

com is doing,

Matt: Right.





Brendan: where they're trying to,
they're trying to give you a sort of

guardrail approach to WordPress, which
is kind of an interesting, ironic,

ironic case where you're putting,
putting all these limitations on what I

wouldn't say that's limitations, right?

But it's, it's a, it's a concierge
experience where you need to, You need

to give people onboarding into WordPress.

If you throw them directly into it,
look, I attend a lot of, lately I've been

going to a lot of WordPress meetups to,
to hear what people are struggling with.

There's so many of
these WordPress meetups.

Highly recommend you guys go to those.

If you're listening to this, there's a lot
of really cool stuff and you learn about

what, what people are struggling with.

And it's, it's so tough.

Like everyone's using a
different page builder.

Everyone has a different plugin stack.

It can get complicated, and the
people that are doing those meetups

are doing it for free, and they're
all experts just helping people

basically onboard into WordPress.

So, it makes sense that the
hosting companies want to do that.

We need, we need more of that, or we're
going to lose more market share to Wix and

Matt: having this
conversation earlier today.

It's, it's a, it's a complicated,
situation being so like Bluehost, who's

one of our sponsors here at the WP minute.

I think a lot of professionals, I've had
these conversations with them before.

I think you'd have a lot of
professionals say, Oh, 5 a month hosting.


I've never used that.

Like I would never recommend
that kind of, of plan.

That's fine.

But it's there for a reason because
the customer who wants to pay for

that is also the customer who would
say, I'm not going to spend more

than 100 a year for my website.

And then the only alternative is you will
lose them from the WordPress ecosystem.

They will go to a Wix or a Squarespace.

I don't, don't go to as 5 a month, shared
hosting account, go to this like Wix, why,

why keep them in the WordPress ecosystem?

it's, it's a tough
situation to like prop up.

I can understand like shared hosting,
but also at the same time that would

keep people in the WordPress space.


Their tools have to be good.

Like their onboarding has to be good.

I think Bluehost does a good job with it.

Brendan: is interesting because like
the more you learn about it, the

deeper you get in, the more complex,
the more convoluted it becomes.

and it's the people that have
been doing it for years and years.

It's their, it's sort of their duty
to, to shepherd people long, I think.

And that's sort of.

You know, sort of the idea behind my
YouTube channel, where it's, I basically

started it because I couldn't find
videos on how to do certain things.

So I just did it and recorded it,
threw it up there because I've learned

so much stuff from other people.

And that's the only way we
can grow this community.

Matt: yeah, it's a perfect segue.

Cause I was just about to ask
you about the YouTube channel.

what are the goals, content,
content creator of the year?

What are we going for?

What, what's the goals for
the, for the YouTube channel?

What are your expectations?

Brendan: yeah, well, if anyone's
watched my content, I'm sorry,

it's not the best produced content.

It's, I don't spend a lot of time
editing it and perfecting it.

It's me raw.

so, you know, people have
resonated with that a bit, you

know, I don't, I'm not trying to
monetize it or anything like that.

It's all pretty straightforward.

Just tutorials, you know, maybe do
some commentary on WordPress stuff.

This is part of why I'm, I'm appearing
on this podcast with you, Matt.

So thank you for having me is to, to,
to learn more about this, learn more

what people are doing, what their pain
points are, how we can all get better.

Matt: The, I know again, Mark Szymanski
really pushing hard into, into

YouTube, doing a lot of live stream.

He'll, he'll live stream anything.

Mark will, and I know he's got
the new, bridge builder series

that he's working on, as well.

Do you have any future plans
to do like community or.

Like standalone podcasts any thoughts
on on that as a content creator

Brendan: It's, it's
something I've thought about.

I'm open to ideas.

I try to do too many things already.

So, I need someone to sort of guide me.

So that's why I'm

Matt: Yeah

Brendan: I need, all the advice I can

Matt: Well, let's see you work for
an agency then you have your own

practice and you're a content creator,
I mean i've you're pretty filled up

Brendan: It's, it's, it's a busy life.

I, I enjoy it.

And I, you know, I, I'm trying
also not to do too many things at

once because I struggle with that.

I try to, you know, You know,
just build a bunch of different

things at once and they all suffer.

So that's my, that's been my
new year's resolution this year.

And I've been consistent
on the YouTube channel.

I've seen like pretty good growth on it.

And I've gotten some actual
projects out of it from viewers.

So, you know, it's, I would say it's sort
of paid for itself already because I've

made some thousands of dollars off of it.

So thank you to my amazing
viewers who saw something in me

Matt: Yeah, that's what i've always
said about podcasting as somebody who

spent um, i've been piehousing for
over a decade But then I worked as a

career in the podcast space for almost
three years and When customer or I

worked at a podcast hosting company.

So when customers would ask me like,
Hey, you know, I want to start a

podcast, want to monetize it, want to
be whatever favorite podcast or want

to be the Joe Rogan of podcasting
and say, okay, well, you also have

to remember he was on television for
like 30 years and he was a comedian.

So then that sort of helped sort
of, you know, boost his, his, where

we're at on podcasting pretty quick.

But the idea is podcasting or just
getting this content out there.

Doesn't always have to be like, I
need to get X amount of views to get

X amount of sponsorship because you're
creating this like surface luck area.

So like you, it's like, Hey,
my mind, I'm not monetizing it.

I don't have a paid community right now,
but I got customers from it, which is like

the stuff you can't, you can't measure it.

It's not like something you can be
like, Oh, what's the ROI on this stuff.

It could be nothing.

It could be a hundred thousand dollars.

Brendan: I appreciate that.

I, I, and I, and I suggest everyone
do that too, because I think, I think

everyone's got something to share.

You should put yourself out there more.

it's very easy to just sit
behind our screens and, and just

type, but just get out there.

Matt: for the next six
months throughout the year?

Do you have your, an
outlook for WordPress?

What are you excited for?

What are you excited to see happen
throughout the summer, throughout

the rest of the year in WordPress,
be it WordPress or bricks or

anything in the, in the tech space?

Brendan: Yeah, I think the, the, there's
a change within websites, I think a

little bit within particularly WordPress.

We're seeing more what I call
components or partially sync patterns.

Those are coming to core.

Those are really going to
be game changers for people.

I think people don't want to, Put
a lot of thought into some parts of

just like, I want to just get my,
my layouts out, but I don't want

to have to spend an arm and a leg.

So, I think that's really cool.

Componentizing parts of web design.

We already see that in the SAS
world, of course, but doing that

within WordPress is really cool.

I'm excited about that.

I'm excited about custom
blocks in general.

I've been, as I said,
diving into Gutenberg.


Purchase Pine grow, which is a great
little plugin for making custom blocks

and just teaching myself about the
core more of it because I've been

building on top of WordPress for
so long and, you know, figure it's

time to, to learn more about that.


Matt: yeah, as I was, You know,
thinking about the, partially sync.

Partially sync pattern is a sync
pattern, partially sync patterns.


Brendan: I forget if they

Matt: yeah, I forget the
name of it the other day.


And I had a video because it was
supposed to come in six, five,

and I think it's still slated
for six, six, as far as I know.

and then I, I had, I looked at
Webflow and I know they have their

component system and stuff like that.

And the whole AI thing, people say,
oh, you know, We're going to lose our,

well, maybe this is a good question
to, to end it off in that, do you

have any particular thoughts on AI,
in the field of design development?

Because I know Mark, again,
I keep calling back to Mark.

He's talked to me off air before about, AI
potentially taken, taking all of our jobs.

And AI site builder.

I'm severely underwhelmed
with what it produces.

And I know everything's going
to get better in six months from

a year and two years, 10 years.

but right now it's severely underwhelming.

And I was having this
conversation earlier today too.

I emailed three businesses last week
for quotes on something for my house.

Nobody got back to me.

No one got back to me.

They have the email clear
right on the website.

They tell you email with questions.

Nobody got back.

I'm not worried about customers using
AI to do anything that yet anyway, they

can't even respond to email, right?

I'm not worried about them building
their own website with AI because

I can't build a website with AI.

They certainly can't
build a website with AI.

They can't even respond to my emails.

so there's, There's still humans needed.

I think your thoughts on on AI.

Brendan: Yeah, that's, that's a whole
conversation for sure, but, but I

think, I think that you're right in
that it's, we're going to require a

human touch for a lot of this stuff.

And you know, AI is going to come
for the lowest hanging fruit as

automation always does for any job.

But, you know, you need to, you need a
human to interact with it and you need a

human to interact with the client itself.

So we're, you know, I don't want to say
that we're all middlemen, but kind of, we

are, we interpret tech and we interpret
client demands and come up with something

in between and AI can't do that yet.

And it's going to, as I said,
it's going to come for some

low hanging fruit for sure.

So get better at your craft.

And also part of the reason I, I've
changed to, you know, put, just

putting my name, my own name in
my website, my name and my YouTube

channel have my face out there.

Now, I guess I got to start
recording myself for my videos on

camera now, but I'm a human, right?

And people, people connect
with that stuff more than, more

than robots, at least for now,

Matt: yeah If you don't put your face
people would just think it's just

AI generated on your YouTube channel

Brendan: exactly.

Hey, maybe, maybe there's a career there.

Maybe I can retire.


Matt: Don't retire yet that
the humans need more humans.

Don't don't leave us just yet.

Brendan: Yeah, we have to train the
robots a little bit more before we retire.

Matt: It's Brendan O'Connell It's
Brendan hyphen O'Connell comm at

Brendan O'Connell WP on YouTube.

Check them out, anywhere else
folks can go to say thanks.

Brendan: Those are the best ways
you can follow me on Twitter.

I think it's the same handle.

Matt: Awesome stuff.

Brendan, thanks for hanging out today.

Brendan: Thanks for having me.

Appreciate your time.