With nearly 20 years in tech, 12 in training and management, and 8 in marketing, I've finally managed to build a scaling company.
I'm the CEO of DevriX, a team of 40; a WordPress & Business advisor working with SMEs, featured writer, seasoned trainer, husband, father.
Bootstrapping a company to 40+ people wasn't easy and it took me 8 solid years. I've leveraged my experience as a tech lead, freelancer, and consultant (combined with reading and mentorships) to make it work. Here I share some nuggets and techniques that worked for me.
I built my first website in 1999. Since then, I have production code in 8 programming languages, I'm a Java certified programmer, a WordPress Core contributor and a certified secure web app engineer. On top of that, I've led thousands of hours in technical courses and 800+ interviews with engineers, so I cover some engineering topics as a result.
Recently contributed toForbes.com
More than 30WordPress Core Patches
Over 10,000 hours ofTraining & Consulting
Has presented atCERN, MIT, VMware, SAP
Regardless of whether you're a business owner, entrepreneur, an engineer or a marketing professional, I have revealed some of my proven techniques here.
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Does Every Great Programmer Type Fast?
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I still recall the forum days, IRC, ICQ/MSN, MySpace and a lot more.
Social media is supposed to be about social networking and keeping in touch with people. Over the past couple of years, I don’t see that happening. Most interactions are monologues, people maintain accounts without really using them, touching base with folks is not always acceptable.
We are approaching social media wrong. Here’s my take on that.
00:00:00 – How People “Use” Social Media These Days
00:02:20 – Mixing Facebook With Business
00:03:43 – How Social Network Interaction Is Supposed to Work
00:05:48 – From A Networking Perspective
00:07:19 – I Think Social Media is Broken
00:08:47 – Ways to Actually Bond
I have a pretty pressing problem with social media – the way it works right now. There are far too many social networks. When I get back in time and I remember the old days of
Basically, it was a lot easier to create communities of people with common interests and kind of keep them more or less in the same place, right? Like, having just a few networks in IRC and having almost no alternatives other than AOL, and MSN which you know specific people were using for certain things.
It was kind of easier to just hang out with people in the same place. Having forums, which were kind of dedicated
How People “Use” Social Media These Days
Some would argue that it’s kind of similar right now, with having different groups on Facebook or so on. But I’d say that this is actually not the case, and there’s, the evolution of social media has been going on for a while now, and it’s really hard to actually connect to people on social nowadays.
I’ve made lots of experiments, like I go on Twitter, pick a random list that has been maintained a few years ago. I even did that last night with a friend. I just saw that most accounts or at least kind of a third of the accounts haven’t been posting at all for a year or two, which means they’re not using Twitter, which is fine.
But others are just out to posting links, or people are not writing but just sharing and re-tweeting. Which is kind of weird, it really doesn’t spark discussions.
Lots of people are on there if you follow them they won’t even notice, if you write them a direct message they won’t even notice and so on. Then you go on LinkedIn and you see the same thing, like lots of people have account it’s really exploding nowadays, and quite a lot of people are actually moving from Facebook or other places to LinkedIn.
After Microsoft’s acquisition, which I find weird but I don’t mind because I like LinkedIn. But again, lots of people just don’t, they don’t see their requests, user experience is pretty horrible in LinkedIn, it’s just making me crazy especially on desktop to be honest, and so forth.
So that’s another whole other medium that’s not in use.
Mixing Facebook With Business
Facebook – lots of people try to avoid it for business, for those that do business it gets a bit weird because you’re really kind of mix both things together. Like you want to maintain a professional outlook, and then you post photos of eating food, or drinking beers in a bar.
I don’t mind that – like I’m not saying you really need to be completely business professional and so on, but it’s just kind of mixing two things. Or if you’re using Facebook entirely for business I also find that weird, it’s not kind of the purpose of the network like it is with LinkedIn.
Then you have other networks like YouTube where you can try to communicate with channel alters, which are not replying to comments, which is insulting. Not to mention that this is kind of the norm for many Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts and whatnot.
So I think that social medias broken for various reasons. It’s, lots of people use it as a one way street for promotion. Again, I don’t mind that at all, like I do the same thing with my accounts, with my posts, with my videos and everything else. But I also do interact and I also use the media as kind of equal citizen, someone who’s actually active, following other people, reading other posts. Interacting with others content and so on.
How Social Network Interaction Is Supposed To Work
I find it a bit weird where I’m trying to write some comments and respond to people on other posts, and there’s pretty much really no one, it’s like, it’s almost like a press release. You just launch something online and you say, hey I did this A, B, C, you can contact me, here are my contact details. Like what the hell bro, that’s social media, it’s not how it’s supposed to work.
In a nutshell again, lots of people have accounts everywhere but they don’t really use almost any of those accounts, or they only use Facebook for fun so that they just happen to see what else is going on. Not even going to touch on Google Plus, we all know what happened there, nothing.
As someone said the other day I really felt bad and I wanted to be alone so I just stop on Google Plus. But again, just a … I’m digressing, it’s really the way we use social media nowadays is not really how we were supposed to do that.
It has to be an equal process of participating and also kind of receiving information, and kind of being informed or so on. Facebook is the largest social network nowadays, even though I think that YouTube is the second largest kind of search engine, so that’s also something worth noting. But both aren’t really receiving that many interactions, even though Facebook obviously is the winner because their groups are fine, interacting with people is fine and so forth.
Youngsters Are Dodging Facebook
But youngsters, the generations that is really trying to dodge Facebook because they see it as a platform for old people. Lots of interviews say, like interviewing people aged 15 to 20 or so, they just say well I don’t really want to use Facebook, my parents are there, my grandparents are there. Like I don’t feel like sharing everything to my family, it’s like it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t resonate with them, which is kind of fine.
But what they do is they go on Instagram and SnapChat which is a completely other way of interacting with people and actually kind of expressing something, and just making some bond.
From A Networking Perspective
On the other hand from a professional standpoint if you just want to again, interact with people, just from a networking perspective, again, lots of people are looking like they claim that they’re open for networking.
They go to networking events online but they’re closed offer, you don’t have a basis for contacting those people. Like they don’t write work posts, they probably write those press releases on LinkedIn and so on. But they don’t comment on them, they don’t respond to these questions, they don’t participate otherwise.
You end up talking to the wall, I mean it’s … There’s literally no interactivity. At the same time, so there was [inaudible 00:06:28] almost a month ago, and I shared on Twitter that I’m not going to participate and lots of people say, hey, you’re going to be missed. We haven’t seen each other for a while. We haven’t interacted for quite some time, yada, yada.
I do appreciate that, and it’s nice because I also miss those people and would have some fun spending some times with them. But those are people who, again, they read my status, and I’m active there, and they never really reach out on direct message or just texting me, or asking for Skype or anything like that.
Just interact, they’re like hey really wanted to see you in person, even though we are actually here and we can actually chat, and have a conversation. I know it’s online but I mean we can jump on and hang on, or whatever, and actually have a conversation, or a call, or anything.
I Think Social Media is Broken
That’s why I think that social media is broken, it’s not supposed to work like a monitoring cue, it’s not supposed to work like a public feed of your accomplishments or your photos over the weekend, which again for Facebook and Instagram I think it’s fine.
But the rest is really networking should be done right, and currently, there’s no single medium that you’d know that the majority of people are following and using, and would be happy kind of interacting with other people. A kind of the best practice etiquette for how okay it is to interact with other people. It’s all really weird.
Again, if you go to a networking event you’re supposed, or like a conference, a meet up or anything else, you’re supposed to interact with people. You’re supposed to work with people, alongside with them, and spend time with them and what not.
So it’s there’s, no stigma around actually interact with us, but on social media it’s weird, it’s supposed to be social and most people don’t respond to comments or replies. Like I’ve had so many times actually reporting kind of seeing a blog post, seeing a broken link there, reporting a broken link and this link is left even if I have reported it twice. Just because people don’t read those emails. Not to mention that some celebrities,
Ways To Actually Bond With People
So yeah in a nutshell what I’d like to conclude is keeping in touch. I do think it’s the right thing to actually do networking. When you like someone’s something, whatever it is, accomplishment, a status, don’t be afraid to just comment.
I’m actually chatting with a lot of people just sending them a message as well, like hey, I’m seeing that your business works really well, it’s evolving, really happy to see you moving forward. Just keep up the great work, or I see that someone did something, or volunteered somewhere and say, “that’s a great cause, keep up the great work” it’s
So I’m not, I don’t want to act like
So yeah, if you have a social media account make sure at least your notifications are on so that you can receive messages. If you receive too many messages maybe you just need to block some people or something. But otherwise make sure you’re accessible, try to interact with other people, make some good deeds and use social as it’s supposed to.
Why does open source software exist and how should I pick between free and premium software?
I made a brief overview of how WordPress works and keeps growing with contributors, what motivates people to keep releasing free plugins, the market economics of Open Source software and more.
If you ever wonder about the value of open source or why free plugins exist, watch this video.
00:01:06 – WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
00:02:34 – The Reason WordPress.org exists
00:03:43 – Working on the Core
00:05:20 – Why People Release Premium and Free Plugins
00:04:26 – Premium vs Free Plugins
00:09:10 – When choosing between the two solutions
Hey guys! Mario Peshev here from DevriX. Here with me is Mara. Today’s topic is Open Source solutions, Open Source plugins, and their premium counterparts.
Let’s take WordPress as an example. There are a lot of premium WordPress plugins available. A lot of open source and free WordPress plugins available on the WordPress.org repository. So, there is a lot of miscommunication when it comes to deciding on whether you need to get a free plugin, whether you need to take a premium plugin – what’s the difference, what’s the reason to pay for a premium plugin in the first place. Isn’t everything in WordPress is free since WordPress itself is free and so forth?
So, I’d like to kind of discuss that because with the current, with the upcoming release of Gutenberg which is a new kind of a page builder coming into WordPress, content creator for the WordPress platform. And, with a lot of people essentially over 30% of the top 10 million websites are based on top of WordPress, those are the common questions that I would like to kind of answer with a little bit more detail.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
So first off, WordPress – when people hear WordPress, it’s the default question: First, what is the WordPress.com software? It’s a proprietary platform owned by a company called Automattic which is founded by one of the two co-founders of the WordPress software. And then, there’s the WordPress software or the free open source solution WordPress.org that the vast majority of people download, set up a random hosting account, attach a domain name to start installing plugins and themes and so on and so on. These are two different things.
A lot of people do miss the difference between the self-hosted kind of blogging host platform and the WordPress software which is something you can bend and extend as much as you want. WordPress.com is essentially free. You have different premium plans or you need to charge, you need to pay for attaching a premium domain and so forth.
WordPress.org as a software is completely free but you need to pay for hosting, for the domain, for you know, development design, content creation, marketing, whatever other services you don’t want to do yourself. Domain and hosting costs: they may start from as low as you know, 60 bucks per month and you know, professional companies may pay thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars somewhat, not to mention the largest companies paying tens of millions. But that’s another story.
The Reason WordPress Exists
So the WordPress.org as a software is free. The reason it exists: It has started as an open source software back in the day in 2003 as a fork of b2/cafelog – it’s another platform and is being maintained by a group of different contributors trying to build a better kind of blogging/content management software out there. With that, different products emerged, different services and solutions emerged. People became proficient in WordPress using it to sell web development services or such. And that’s kind of how it moved forward.
Now, right now, every major version of WordPress is maintained and kind of supported by hundreds of different contributors who submit core patches for bug fixes for new features, translations and things like that related to the WordPress software. All of those are contributors and some of those are even employed. Well, not all of them kind of have worked but some of those are paid for their work by their company such as most hosting companies or web development companies paying people to essentially contribute time to that software.
Working On The Core
So, we do have 6 people in our company – Me, myself included, with core patches the WordPress software and it’s pretty awesome. It’s really time-consuming and we try to do it whenever we get a chance and larger company like Automattic running WordPress.com have allocated like dozens of people working on that, focused on developing the WordPress software. But, it’s entirely open source. You can do whatever you want with it.
And the same goes for WordPress plugins and extensions and components. So, there are a lot of free WordPress plugins available. Some of them are good, some of them are bad and there are a lot of premium plugins available. Some of them are good, some of them are but it’s really hard to find a difference. And let’s discuss that a little bit further.
Why People Release Premium Plugins
So why do people release premium plugins in the first place? Obviously, to make money out of that. Right? Because you know, if you charge 50 bucks for a plugin for example and you have, I don’t know, 50 sales a month, like 50 purchases a month and this is twenty-five hundred bucks a month which is not too shabby. Because if you have 10 plugins like this, then you have a business model.
Some of the professional premium plugins, they do generate thousands of sales a month which is pretty great because first off, you have first time purchases. Second, you have renewals. Sometimes you have upsells, things like that. So, the market itself is a bit rough. So, if you have again, a 50 bucks plugin – a plugin that costs 50 bucks and you sell a thousand copies a month from it, it’s 50,000 dollars a month or 600,000 business which is again great and it happens for some of the most established plugins there. So that’s for premium plugins.
Why People Release Free Plugins
In terms of free plugins, there are different reasons why people do that.
Number one could be just general passion for the open source community, just being extremely happy for it and just you know, giving back. Making your way of earning money through WordPress and by this, giving back to WordPress by expanding the market ecosystem through free plugins. That’s one thing.
Second thing is portfolio. For freelancers and web agencies and web development company, just having something to show off like, “Hey, I did this. I built this. It has actual adoption, actual people using that.” That’s obviously another thing and that’s also extremely common.
Third one is upsells. Some of the free plugins, they have paid extensions or paid add-ons or they have like a premium version. For example, Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin out there with over 1 million installations of the plugin on live websites and they do have a premium version that supports a bunch of other things and it costs, I think 75 euro a year or something like that. So that’s another way to do that. Like, the free version is great. It has a really wide adoption so even if say, 2 percent of the people – it’s a low number, but even if 2% of the people purchase that, 2% out of 1 million are 30,000 by 75 a year and then you can do the math and you can see how the business operates. On top of that, they can also upsell services to that.
How Yoast Works
I’m going to take again, Yoast as an example. I’m by no chance affiliated by Yoast. They’re great guys though and I’ve bought the premium version. So, Yoast, for example, they do offer SEO reviews, professional SEO reviews. Some of my clients have taken those and they’re pretty comprehensive and cover a wide set of potential things that you may want to improve on your WordPress website. So, that’s another thing that you can do.
Obviously, freelancers web development companies, when they have such plugin, what they can’t do is they can say, “Hey, you know, we can extend that for you. We can take that as a basis and build upon it and then possibly either extract that as some sort of an extension or an add-on or a premium plugin, working with a premium plugin or bundling it into the free core in order to again increase adoption.
All of that of course, that kind of exposure leads to some sort of a popularity. You know, if you have a plugin that has tens of thousands of installations on live websites, it’s obviously something that helps with marketing. You can be more prominent when attending WordPress conferences. You can feature that on your own website. It builds some sort of credibility. It makes you appear as more professional because your code works on tons of different environments and services and so on.
Premium vs Free Plugins
So, as you can see they’re kind of different opportunities. The thing with premium plugins is for the most part with a premium plugin, you get guaranteed support. For the most part, of course, if that’s within the terms of services, but that’s expected.
With the free plugin, the most challenging thing that’s kind of pushing people away from free plugins as developers is the backlash from customers is pretty horrible. You know I’ve had free plugins. Someone installs that and just rate it 1 out of 5. “This a crappy plugin and it doesn’t work” and yada yada yada. Then it turns out the plugin runs on 2000 websites and that’s the only client that can’t really make it work right.
So, it means it’s something with their hosting or the way they install a plugin or their theme or whatever it is. But, it’s pretty common to have customers asking for free stuff be extremely demanding while not even paying for support in the first place. With premium plugins, you can at least expect some sort of support. And with free plugins, you know, best case scenario, you can work with some sort of developer or the plugin owner or the plugin founder, whatever it is and kind of ask them for additions.
When Comparing The Two Solutions
But when you compare solutions, when you pick solutions, you know, you can’t… sometimes a free plugin can do, sometimes a premium plugin can do. More often than not you require custom development and custom implementation for something. And some of the generic multipurpose plugins that do a lot cannot be sketched since they are made for high adoption which means all sorts of different businesses. They include tons of options and they become heavy and bloated and insecure and unstable and so forth.
So yeah, that’s pretty much how the ecosystem works. That’s extremely common in every single open source community. So whenever you’re building something, whenever you’re in need of plugin or a theme, consider that. Think about it. Talk with a technical consultant and take the right decision.