“They just want to get stuff done.”

There is a large contingent of people who just want to get stuff done, they don’t want to fuss with the tech. They don’t care about open source or owning their data. They don’t want to install a theme and setup their widgets, or search thousands of results to find the best SEO plugin. They don’t want to setup “managed hosting”, an SSL certificate, or a payment gateway. They just want to sell their products and make money as fast and easily as possible.

Source: Perspective on WordPress – Scott Bolinger

WordPress isn’t easy. It’s just relatively easy compared to other content management systems. It’s in this grey area between a simple DIY SaaS product and a web application framework.

The WordPress community pulls in two directions. On one side, we’re pulling towards enterprise usage by making WordPress more sophisticated. Think REST API and WP-CLI.

On the other side, we’re pulling towards small businesses and hobbyists and bloggers by making WordPress even easier to use. Look at the Customizer, Gutenberg, and the growing popularity of plugins like Beaver Builder and the ecosystems that grow around them.

The open source upside of WordPress is still a strong selling point. The fact that you can migrate a WordPress site from one hosting provider to another, the fact that you don’t have vendor lock-in the same way you do with SaaS products. That’s all great.

But as Scott covers in his post, those are moot points to a good number of people. Maybe even the majority of people. Because they just want to get their site up and running. And they’d rather deal with a solution from a single vendor who they can call up if something goes wrong.

Getting help with WordPress is harder. There’s more to troubleshoot, and depending on where the problem is, the solution may be out of scope of whoever’s providing the support.

This is why I fall back to the “it depends” response when someone asks if it’s better to use WordPress or a website builder. It depends on your comfort level; it depends on your budget; it depends on what you’re trying to build; it depends on how you want that to evolve.

These days I’m generally in favour of site builders for small businesses. WordPress gets recommended for publications (blogs, media sites) and sites that need more sophistication (basically acting like a lightweight web app).

Our era is defined by polarization.

Our era is defined by polarization, warring ideological gangs that yield no ground. Division, however, isn’t the root cause of our unworkable system. There are many causes, but a primary problem is conformism. Facebook has nurtured two hive minds, each residing in an informational ecosystem that yields head-nodding agreement and penalizes dissenting views.

Source: How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality

Developers and startups are pushed to create viral habit-forming loops that reinforce the echo chamber. Everything in pursuit of the almighty DAU, impressions, engagement. This is the result.

Every comment thread devolves into a two-sided argument. There’s no middle ground. How do we fix that?

Photo by CloudVisual on Unsplash

“It was just me blogging.”

I think it all stemmed from me not wanting to create a course. I didn’t even know that was a thing. It was just me blogging and creating YouTube videos about things that I had learned or questions that people have asked me, and then I went and wrote a blog post about it or I went up and created a YouTube video.

Source: How Wes Bos Teaches 100,000 Programmers as a One-Man Operation – The Indie Hackers Podcast

I wrote a post a few days ago about providing value before asking for something in return. Wes is a great example of someone who was providing value for the sake of providing value, then built on top of that.

Now he has a business teaching others how to code via online courses.

Aside: I was introduced to Wes through Ladies Learning Code. It was their first WordPress workshop, hosted at CSI Annex near Bathurst & Bloor. Wes was lead instructor and I was one of the mentors.

Five things I’ve learned from publishing my first YouTube video.

I’ve been itching to do more with video this year. And through the summer I dabbled with it, posting some videos on Twitter, some videos on Instagram, and some videos on Facebook. But none of it was hefty or consistent – definitely nothing that I felt comfortable posting on YouTube.

But if you’re gonna get serious with video, you need to get on YouTube.

So back in August I decided to shoot a series of impromptu Q&A sessions with web pros at WordCamp Montreal.

To make it extra scrappy, I chose to only use my phone. No fancy camera, no special audio equipment.

Now, about a month later, after spending several hours cobbling together the footage, I’ve uploaded my first YouTube video.

It’s nothing special, but it’s a start. And that’s the important thing. I’ve started something here. And through that process of starting something I’ve already learned a few new things that I can apply on my next video.

Specifically…

1. Use a tripod.

My phone isn’t heavy, but after holding my arms at an awkward angle for an extended period of time, I started feeling the shakes. Since my interviewees (“talent”?) were seated, the slight shifting was noticeable, even with the stabilization from my phone.

2. Use a mic.

My goal for the WordCamp Montreal experiment was to just use the phone. Nothing else. And it worked pretty well. But some of my interviewees are soft-spoken individuals. I’ve since picked up a cheap-but-good-enough lavalier (lapel) mic to use for future videos.

3. Give myself a deadline.

I could’ve spent a lot more time on the video, but then the video would’ve taken longer to finish. So I made a decision on Thursday to upload the video by EOD regardless of the condition it was in. That forced me to push my list of things to try off to the next video. Which, in turn, is encouragement to get started on the next video.

4. Learn my tools by working on a project.

I was looking up keyboard shortcuts and best practices for Premiere while having a project on the go. I feel like I learned more through that approach because I was simultaneously applying those lessons and takeaways to an actual project I cared about.

5. The Pixel XL is pretty friggin’ great for this.

The Pixel has a fantastic camera. Plus: The free, unlimited Google Photos storage that comes with the Pixel means all my HD footage automatically syncs when I’m on wifi. I don’t need to deal with manual file transfers. I just grab the files off Google Drive once they’re sync’d, and then import them into Premiere when I start my edit.

So if you’re like me and keen on doing more with video, here’s my TL;DR:

  1. Grab your phone.
  2. Find a few friendly folks and ask them some questions.
  3. Start messing with a video editor.
  4. Upload your imperfect-but-completed video to YouTube.

Then take what you learned through that process and iterate on it. 🙂

Featured in this compilation from WordCamp Montreal 2017:

Thanks to Antti Luode for providing an amazing library of music under the CC 3.0 license.

There’ll always be a need for web professionals.

Websites are the quintessential digital asset for any type of organization.

Yet there are a lot of small businesses out there with no web presence.

New products are coming to market all the time to address that need. GoDaddy’s GoCentral website builder, for example, was launched this year.

These sorts of products are supposed to make it easier for small businesses to DIY. But even with ridiculously easy-to-use products, they will still need help.

Take DNS records, for example. Dealing with DNS records is a lot like setting up the internet in your home. You don’t think about it very much once it’s configured. But if things suddenly stop working? Oh man.

Now we’re opening the can of worms that is technical troubleshooting.

There’s a problem. We don’t know what the problem is. We gotta figure out what it is first. We gotta play doctor. Identify the symptoms. Find the cause. Prescribe a (possible) solution. Administer and wait and see if it works.

Keep reading…

To be trusted, you must first give value for free.

This concept can be applied to any type of products to services: to be trusted you must first give value for free. This requires patience.

Source: How Seth Godin Would Launch a Business With a $1,000 Budget – Louis Grenier – Indie Hackers

Always. Be. Helping.

New to a community? Volunteer. Offer to help. Share your expertise. Don’t have the expertise? Lend your time instead.

Listen and ask and raise your hand. Build your rapport. Build your karma. Build your credibility over time.

Then, and only then, have you earned the right to ask for something in return.

You need to build the trust before you can cash in on it.

(Aside: When you’re given an opportunity to step up, don’t squander it by overstepping.)