Is the WordPress economy shrinking?

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Is the WordPress economy hurting? Shrinking?

I don't know if you have heard this from folks, as you've been talking or thinking. Maybe you run an agency that focuses on WordPress websites and you're starting to hear folks talk about, “We're getting less leads. There's less folks who are asking for our work.” You wonder, is the WordPress economy shrinking? I mean, is it something like we've kind of hit the pinnacle and now it's starting to fall off? Or is something else going on?

Well, I think the reality is there are several things going on all at once.

Things are moving in-house

On the one hand, up market, and we knew this was going to happen: companies that are realizing that they're spending a lot of energy and effort on WordPress are going to start bringing people in-house.

So you see publications like The Wire Cutter or organizations, large ones like Disney, who start bringing in staff. Five years ago they had no one that did anything with WordPress, and today they have a team, right? You go, “Well of course they would have a team. That makes sense.”

On the high end of the market you see some constriction.

People are evaluating downmarket alternatives

On the very low end of the market, right, even people that were doing 50, 100, 500 dollar websites and offering that, and they're seeing some constriction.

Well yeah, because there are external DIY platforms that continue to get better and evolve. No shock that Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, which used to only do one or two things, and used to be not all that great, they keep getting better, and that's how innovation works.

You come and you offer something less for less, and then you just start ratcheting up the value, and people go, “Well, I should check that out.” We're seeing some constriction at the bottom of the market.

People want more than just WordPress

In the middle of the market, I think we're seeing something completely different. People are spending more money, but they want more.

They want everything.

They want the website, but they want the traffic to the website, which means they want Facebook ads, or they want a campaign, and they want to understand marketing automation, they want to make sure that they're circling back to the people that visited, and if you don't have the big purview; if you don't know how to think through the whole thing, and all you're doing is, “Well, I'll just build you the HTML of the website,” yeah, not the same value proposition.

I think more money's being spent in the middle, but if you're looking for that specific, “All I want is a website, and I don't want anything else,” I think you're seeing fewer leads.

People believe us when we say it's easy

Of course, we've spent more than a decade telling people WordPress was easy. Is it no shock that there's a whole bunch of people that are deciding they're going to try it on their own?

DIYers are trying it more, spending a little more time, more money there, so I think we're seeing growth in education.

I think we're seeing growth in products that help you.

Products like Beaver Builder, that help you paint your screen the way you want to. I don't think they're shrinking. WP101 and all the other WordPress in a Month, all the other educational tools, those are still growing, and the all-in-one platforms.

The folks that are thinking through, “How do we connect the dots on multiple levels,” so that you don't have to worry about buying 16 different products and integrating them—I think we're seeing growth there.

Sell the What, not the How

For you, what does it mean? If you're sitting here going, “We're feeling the tightness and stress about it,” well, by all means, keep selling the what, not the how. Focus on helping people get to their destination, rather than pitching the, “I have a hammer, and this is what I can do with it.” I think the more you do that, the better off you'll be.

Look for partners.

Look for partners that will help you build out that all-in-one platform. I know at Liquid Web, we're building a platform, and we're introducing all sorts of value into that platform for hosting, and the hosting is getting bigger than just hosting. You want to be able to do more than just say, “I can host my site there.” But we're looking for partnerships in you, whatever you're doing, and however, you're working.

Look at those partnerships, and figure out how to bring the total value to your customers in a way that they go, “Yep, I'm willing to spend.”

Because in that mid-market space, I think people are still spending.

I just think they're spending differently than before.

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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