Whew! The past 2 days have been intense.
I generally don’t like to work very hard. And therefore, don’t.
I typically work 3-6 hours every day, which is more than enough for me.
But I’ve worked for 28 of the past 48 hours. And I’m exhausted.
The reason for all that work is because we submitted our plugin to the WordPress plugin directory yesterday! 🎉
This was the culmination of two months’ worth of work. And I’m pretty proud of what we accomplished! The journey is just beginning, but this is still a nice little milestone to celebrate.
I know many of you have been a bit confused since I unceremoniously changed the format of my newsletter to simply sharing business updates.
So I thought it’d be nice to give you a little context by explaining what WordPress is and how it works. Besides, WordPress powers ~35% of the Internet’s websites, so it’s good for you to know!
Here’s a simple, big picture explanation of WordPress and its ecosystem…
WordPress is an open source content management system.
Open source: This means that its code is available for free, and anyone can use and modify it.
Content management system (CMS): This is what WordPress is: It’s a way to manage your content online. Content can mean blog posts, images, PDFs, inventory for your e-commerce store and more.
WordPress is very basic. So people commonly install plugins to add functionality and build the site they want.
As I write this, there are 56k plugins on the plugin directory. Plugins let you do anything you can imagine with WordPress.
There are big plugins that let you turn your site into a store, forum or social network.
And little ones, like mine, that let you send blog posts to your email subscribers.
Whatever you want to do, there’s probably a plugin that helps you do it. Actually, there are likely to be multiple plugins that help you accomplish your goal in a myriad of different ways.
How submitting a plugin to WordPress works (this is what I’ve been doing for the past 2 days, and the reason for my exhaustion):
- You build a plugin based on the guidelines set out in the Plugin Handbook.
- Submit your plugin to the directory.
- Wait for the Plugin Review Team to review your plugin.
- Fix any issues they surface.
- Once the plugin is approved, it appears in the plugin directory for anyone to download for free.
This process can take anywhere from 1 day to 6 months. In our case, we submitted on Friday, and think it’ll be approved by Monday or Tuesday as we only had minor issues to fix.
A little bit more about open source, WordPress and plugins
Going back to the open source bit earlier… This concept of free might lead you to some questions, namely:
Who runs it? Who are the people on the Plugin Review Team and how do they get paid?
Without going into too much detail (this is just supposed to be my weekly roundup 😅), everyone on the Plugin Review Team is a volunteer!
And to zoom out a bit, everyone working to build, fix and maintain WordPress.org is also a volunteer!
How does any of this make financial sense?
This is where it gets more complicated. There are many multi-million dollar businesses built off the back of this free, open source software. Remember, WordPress powers 35% of the Internet.
The WordPress-powered business we should probably talk about first is WordPress.com. It’s important to understand that WordPress.com is different from WordPress.org. The former is a commercial company that helps customers host a WordPress website. The latter is free open source software, which anyone can take and use by themselves.
You can think of it as the difference between a hired taxi and a barebones car (with no fuel) straight off the factory floor.
Having said that, WordPress.com is closely intertwined with WordPress.org – the founder of .com is credited with popularising the .org. WordPress.com also retains a lot of control and influence over the .org.
Aside from them, there are hundreds of thousands of small dev or design agencies world-wide that help customers build and maintain their WordPress sites. I used to do this, and still do but not actively. Think of these as car workshops you can go to to get a paint job, replace a battery, or repair your car after a crash.
There are also people who build and sell plugins (this is what I’m doing now). Some people do it for fun to teach themselves how to code. Others do it as a business. To keep going with the car analogy, this is like people who make car parts – everything from $5,000 bespoke speakers to $5 mobile phone holders.
On top of these, there’s a whole host of other businesses one can build off WordPress including hosting, theme developers, marketplaces and more. But again, this post just started out as a weekly update, so I’m not going to go into the details.
Now you know about WordPress, plugins and what I’m doing
I hope this helped explain what I’ve been up to. Despite working on this for months, I only have a toenail through the door of everything I need to know and do.
🔥 Highlights from this week
- Submitted the plugin on schedule.
- Had some lovely chats with people on Twitter (I’m becoming less of a Twitter grouch).
- Feeling grateful for the many strangers that have given advice and encouragement along the way. Working at home on an online business is an extremely lonely and isolating job. So the kindness of strangers means a lot.
💔 Lowlights from this week
- So tired! But in a good way. I’m not complaining.
✅ Completed this week
- Submitted plugin! Yay!
- Published website! Yay!
- Finished my onboarding post –> still need to test this out with real users though.
- Finished more documentation. –> so painful. I need to put in the time to learn more about writing good documentation.
- A million small things in between to make those big things possible.
🎯 Goals for next week
- Get plugin approved and published on the directory.
- Create and start executing marketing plan.
🤔 Product thought for the week
Is it weird to share a screenshot of my own Tweet?
🍊Fresh From the Interwebz
For some reason, this week’s newsletter is full of heavier reads. They’re all excellent, but dense with concepts and theory. Take your time and enjoy.
Design as participation: You’re Not Stuck In Traffic You Are Traffic
In the past, design was something imposed upon the world. An architect designs a building based on his vision, and people just live with it. In contrast, software design cannot be imposed, it can only be suggested, attempted, played with. In that sense, a designer these days is more of a participant than a dictator. Link to article →
Voting could be the problem with democracy
While researching innovations in democracy, citizenship and race, Bernd Reiter realised that the problem with democracy might be the elections.
He found that another approach – randomly selecting citizens to take turns governing – offers the promise of reinvigorating struggling democracies. That could make them more responsive to citizen needs and preferences, and less vulnerable to outside manipulation. Link to article →
Optimize to be Wrong, not Right
Accepting that the majority of your ideas and/or methods aren’t going to work out as expected is liberating, but more important its advantageous. Yet, counterproductively, the majority of business organizations, teams and individuals resist the reality of the world, seeking certainty before making a move, or worse, believe their Industrial-Age governance process to serve up scope, time and budget is a proven approach to predict success. If anything, they invest more time, money and resources refining and refining it. Link to article →
The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet
Imagine a dark forest at night. It’s deathly quiet. Nothing moves. Nothing stirs. This could lead one to assume that the forest is devoid of life. But of course, it’s not. The dark forest is full of life. It’s quiet because night is when the predators come out. To survive, the animals stay silent.
This is also what the internet is becoming: a dark forest.
In response to the ads, the tracking, the trolling, the hype, and other predatory behaviors, we’re retreating to our dark forests of the internet, and away from the mainstream.
Note: I enjoyed this theory and the writing, but wish there was a stronger conclusion/message.
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