There has been a bit of talk about WordPress news sites recently. WPMU has done a pretty good summary of the recent DradCast podcast episode hosted by WP Tavern‘s Jeff Chandler. It tells the story of Jeff's journey running the Tavern and then selling it. I'm glad how it was sold is finally out in the open. I was knowledgable of the situation back then, and it's good that it finally became known that Matt bought it, and that parties like Joost de Valk and WPCandy's Ryan Imel were very, very close to purchasing the site. Openness is a good thing in this community.
However, I think Jeff and pretty much anyone else that says money can't be made in WordPress news sites are completely wrong.
WordPress news sites can be sustainable
The business model has lacked in multiple ways so far. For one, there are a lot of ways to monetize a website, and for a WordPress news site it doesn't have to be with affiliate links. Second, as noted in last night's DradCast, there has been an enormous lack of consistency in this market.
I was involved at WPCandy for around two years, and Ryan was closer than anyone in succeeding in this space. WP Daily also has potential for monetizing well, though I personally don't like their methods for selling tons of ad space. However, no one has shown a consistent commitment over a number of years to WordPress news, and monetizing it well (for WP Daily it may just be a matter of time). The best example of such a site succeeding thus far is actually WPMU, but I don't think they actually make money with WPMU's blog. In fact, they probably lose money. But it's a huge money maker for them, I imagine, as a sales channel to their plugins and products.
I believe that there is space to make money providing WordPress news and information without selling out. I also think that this notion that there would be a void had Matt Mullenweg not bailed out the Tavern and funded Jeff to write there is totally false.
The WordPress ecosystem is a market like any other, and holes in markets tend to be filled. What fills a hole in a particular market may take different shape over time as the solutions evolve, but people are always out there to fill voids. Especially if you can do something to fill a void that you are passionate about.
The status of Post Status
All of this said, Post Status continues to be an exciting and interesting experiment for me. In total, it has been successful so far; even if the response to Post Status has been different than I originally hoped. One thing I've learned is that getting people to share my content is a lot harder on Post Status, because I set a tone that I was linking to other people's content only. Well, I do. But I also add context. It's just hard to get that extra tidbit to be valuable enough to a read in order for them to feel compelled to share my site, versus the source itself. And don't get me wrong, getting people's eyes on the content I link to is my favorite thing. But if that's where people are going, then I need even more evangelizing and sharing of my site as a whole (versus unique links that are created here) in order for this site to grow.
That miscalculation, assuming that Post Status would grow organically by providing good information, has been costly. I have a solid number of individuals that I think enjoy and rely on Post Status and the curation that happens here. But the setup requires a bunch of grass roots promotion of the site as a whole, which honestly just hasn't happened very much. Though, when someone does share the site, I get all giddy inside. But in general, not many people see what I'm doing here, because most of the sharing goes to the sources, not the curator.
Where Post Status has done well is as a consistent and solid source of information for highly engaged WordPress professionals. In other words, I've been able to attract other influencers. Therefore, much of what I link to does end up with some good promotion, even if Post Status itself doesn't get much promotion.
That's my long way of saying that I continue to adjust how Post Status functions. I'm posting fewer links these days, and I'm not approving every submission from other authors. I'm trying to keep every link interesting to readers. And if I don't find it very interesting, how can I expect a reader to find it interesting? I'm also writing more original long form content. The key now is to get people looking to Post Status as a source for original content in addition to linked content.
I'm working on a redesign now that should help highlight the dual purpose that Post Status embodies. I will continue to curate the best links in the WordPress community, and add context to them, and share them to my readers. I will continue to accept submissions, even if I don't approve all of them. But I'm also transitioning Post Status in the redesign to focus more on original content that I create.
I'm committed to this site, and I really love doing it. I have been blogging consistently about WordPress for three years now. I've written probably close to a thousand full length and link posts that hundreds of thousands of people have read and shared. Money can be made in this space. I intend to do so. With the redesign, I intend to integrate my own method for monetization.
I hope you'll continue to support Post Status, come here, vote on articles, participate in the comments, and share the articles. I'll be here for a long time. WordPress is my career and I love writing about it.