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


[00:00:00] Matt: Hey, Brendan, welcome to the program.

[00:00:02] Brendan: Hey, Matt, thanks for having me.

[00:00:04] 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.

[00:00:17] Matt: 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. Correct. You cover a lot of brick stuff, other WordPress tutorials. We’re going to talk about that in a little bit.

[00:00:36] Matt: 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?

[00:00:49] 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 [00:01:00] 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.

[00:01:07] Brendan: 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.

[00:01:18] Matt: What were they using like a homegrown CMS or were they using another platform

[00:01:23] 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.

[00:01:42] 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 [00:02:00] Squirrel.

[00:02:00] Matt: 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.

[00:02:09] Matt: What’s the, what, what type of, sites are you building at the agency?

[00:02:13] Matt: 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? Do

[00:02:24] 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.

[00:02:40] Brendan: 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 [00:03:00] 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.

[00:03:11] Brendan: 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.

[00:03:36] Brendan: 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.

[00:03:52] Matt: you find yourself looking for the same type of client, smaller client for your own consultancy, your own practice? How do you figure [00:04:00] out which client you’d like to take on for that side of the house?

[00:04:04] 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?

[00:04:23] Brendan: 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. Right. but I can totally see the merit in, in not always pursuing that.

[00:04:44] 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 [00:05:00] bricks.

[00:05:00] Matt: 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.

[00:05:19] Matt: 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

[00:05:37] Brendan: Absolutely.

[00:05:38] 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.

[00:05:46] Matt: 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 [00:06:00] 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.

[00:06:09] Matt: 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.

[00:06:19] 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?

[00:06:28] 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.

[00:06:45] Brendan: 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 [00:07:00] bricks and I really saw the vision of the workflow for me.

[00:07:03] Brendan: And, and I just had to, I had to get them on board. And it, so far it’s been a great experience.

[00:07:10] 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.

[00:07:29] Matt: Did that happen? Is that a fair assessment?

[00:07:32] 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.

[00:07:55] Brendan: Yeah. And it’s easier for clients to edit at the end of the day.[00:08:00]

[00:08:00] 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?

[00:08:12] 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.

[00:08:29] Brendan: 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?

[00:08:49] Brendan: And you know, we, we did and, but not in this, in the same scalable way. So. I think we just saw, I mean, anyone can tell you, [00:09:00] 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.

[00:09:09] 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.

[00:09:32] Matt: 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.

[00:09:54] Matt: But the idea

[00:09:54] Brendan: And they’re focused on the agency too. Is

[00:09:56] Matt: and they’re focused on the, yeah. And they’re focused on the agency. But [00:10:00] 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.

[00:10:16] Matt: 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.

[00:10:42] Matt: Okay. 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, [00:11:00] whatever it was we were building for them.

[00:11:01] Matt: 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?

[00:11:18] 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.

[00:11:37] Brendan: 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.

[00:11:55] Brendan: Now there’s a even broader conversation to be had about. using [00:12:00] 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?

[00:12:19] Brendan: 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.

[00:12:30] 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.

[00:12:50] Matt: Like it’s, it is getting better. It’s not like you haven’t seen an update happen in, in six months, every [00:13:00] 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.

[00:13:15] Matt: 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.

[00:13:35] Matt: 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.

[00:13:49] Matt: 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 [00:14:00] 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.

[00:14:15] Matt: 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?

[00:14:32] Brendan: Cause we can’t move it somewhere else. 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. Right. Because that, that is a real conversation that happens for

[00:14:43] Matt: yeah.

[00:14:44] 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.

[00:14:52] Brendan: Look, your data is there. If you ever want to move, you’re rebuilding every single thing. So

[00:14:57] Matt: Do you, do you have a lot of requests for webflow [00:15:00] at the agency?

[00:15:01] 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.

[00:15:11] 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.

[00:15:34] Matt: 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?

[00:15:40] 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 [00:16:00] already had.

[00:16:01] Brendan: And that’s good. I think.

[00:16:04] 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?

[00:16:29] 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.

[00:16:46] Brendan: 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 [00:17:00] think he was, you know, disappointed, right?

[00:17:02] Brendan: 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.

[00:17:15] 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.

[00:17:31] Matt: 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.

[00:17:49] Matt: yeah, I think a lot of people just saw the, the opportunity,

[00:17:53] 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 [00:18:00] 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.

[00:18:12] Brendan: 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.

[00:18:25] Matt: One of the things that I’ve, I’ve talked about, publicly before is. I feel like

[00:18:31] Brendan: 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.

[00:18:49] Matt: 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 [00:19:00] 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.

[00:19:11] Matt: 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?

[00:19:30] Matt: Do you have any feelings on on

[00:19:31] 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. Right? 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.

[00:19:50] Brendan: Like having too many, too many things that we’re learning. There’s always going to be new, something new popping up. Absolutely. and, and I, I fall, I fall prey to that too, unfortunately. I, I, I’m really trying not to [00:20:00] do that. And part of that is me actually jumping into core, WordPress into Gutenberg and just building layouts.

[00:20:06] Brendan: 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.

[00:20:30] Brendan: 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.

[00:20:40] 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 [00:21:00] be good enough for you to say, okay, this is, this is why I would make the leap.

[00:21:05] 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.

[00:21:26] Brendan: 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.

[00:21:42] 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.

[00:21:56] Brendan: agnostic though at the end of the day. Like, I like a good tool that gets out [00:22:00] of my way and lets me build correctly.

[00:22:03] 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.

[00:22:24] Matt: 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.

[00:22:42] Matt: 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.

[00:22:59] Matt: Is that, do you [00:23:00] 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?

[00:23:12] 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?

[00:23:30] Brendan: 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.

[00:23:53] Brendan: 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.

[00:23:59] Matt: [00:24:00] 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?

[00:24:22] Matt: 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.

[00:24:48] Matt: 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, [00:25:00] customers

[00:25:01] Brendan: Yeah, and, and this, to my understanding, this is basically what wordpress. com is doing,

[00:25:06] Matt: Right. Wordpress. com. Yeah. Yep.

[00:25:09] 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?

[00:25:22] Brendan: 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.

[00:25:38] Brendan: 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 [00:26:00] into WordPress.

[00:26:01] Brendan: 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

[00:26:10] 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.

[00:26:27] Matt: Yeah. 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.

[00:26:48] Matt: They will go to a Wix or a Squarespace.

[00:26:51] Matt: 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?

[00:26:59] Matt: it’s, it’s a [00:27:00] 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. Sure. Their tools have to be good. Like their onboarding has to be good. I think Bluehost does a good job with it.

[00:27:12] 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.

[00:27:36] Brendan: 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.

[00:27:44] 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?

[00:27:56] Brendan: yeah, well, if anyone’s watched my content, I’m sorry, it’s not the best [00:28:00] produced content. It’s, I don’t spend a lot of time editing it and perfecting it. It’s me, 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.

[00:28:14] Brendan: 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.

[00:28:31] 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

[00:28:54] Brendan: It’s, it’s something I’ve thought about. I’m open to ideas. I try to do too many things [00:29:00] already. So, I need someone to sort of guide me. So that’s why I’m

[00:29:03] Matt: Yeah

[00:29:03] Brendan: I need, all the advice I can

[00:29:05] 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

[00:29:11] 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.

[00:29:30] Brendan: 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

[00:29:45] 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 [00:30:00] 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.

[00:30:13] Matt: 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.

[00:30:30] Matt: 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.

[00:30:46] 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 [00:31:00] out there.

[00:31:00] 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?

[00:31:15] 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.

[00:31:39] Brendan: 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. I’ve. Purchase Pine grow, which is a great little plugin for making custom blocks and just teaching myself about the [00:32:00] 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.

[00:32:05] Brendan: So

[00:32:06] Matt: yeah, as I was, You know, thinking about the,partially sync. Partially sync pattern is a sync pattern, partially sync patterns. That’s

[00:32:13] Brendan: I forget if they

[00:32:14] Matt: yeah, I forget the name of it the other day. Yeah. 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.

[00:32:22] Matt: 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?

[00:32:42] Matt: 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 [00:33:00] from a year and two years, 10 years.

[00:33:02] Matt: 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.

[00:33:23] Matt: 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.

[00:33:44] Matt: so there’s, There’s still humans needed. I think your thoughts on on AI.

[00:33:50] 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 [00:34:00] 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.

[00:34:11] Brendan: 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.

[00:34:30] Matt: 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,

[00:34:49] Matt: yeah If you don’t put your face people would just think it’s just AI generated on your YouTube channel

[00:34:54] Brendan: exactly. Hey, maybe, maybe there’s a career there. Maybe I can retire. [00:35:00] No.

[00:35:01] Matt: Don’t retire yet that the humans need more humans. Don’t don’t leave us just yet.

[00:35:05] Brendan: Yeah, we have to train the robots a little bit more before we retire.

[00:35:08] 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.

[00:35:21] Brendan: Those are the best ways you can follow me on Twitter. I think it’s the same handle.

[00:35:25] Matt: Awesome stuff. Brendan, thanks for hanging out today.

[00:35:28] Brendan: Thanks for having me. Appreciate your time. Thanks.

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