The WP Agency Journey with Bradford Campeau-Laurion of Alley Interactive — Post Status Draft 139
Bradford Campeau-Laurion, CEO of Alley Interactive, joins Cory Miller to talk about publishing technology past, present, and future. Working with WordPress at the enterprise level showcases incredible capability and highlights possibilities for future growth within WordPress.
Estimated reading time: 60 minutes
In 2001 Bradford Campeau-Laurion began his career in publishing technology at Forbes Magazine, which evolved into utilizing WordPress in the enterprise market. Today he leads Alley Interactive, an agency focused on publishers, non-profits, museums, and brands. Brad shares his extensive experience in publishing technology and his view of the strengths and challenges within the enterprise market of WordPress.
- Shifting to Paywall Content. Perhaps a major misstep in early online publishing was setting the expectation of free content. Now print subscriptions are down. Publishers can’t secure advertising without extremely high volume. And consumers are hesitant to pay for online subscriptions.
- WordPress Creator Economies. Within WordPress there are software and content creators. Software creators the directory to serve as a centralized community and marketplace. Content creators face a bigger challenge to find their market because there isn’t a collaboration tool and algorithm like a social platform driving the creator economy of WordPress.
- Enterprise WordPress vs. Competition. The closed platforms have appeal-single providers, monthly pricing models, built-in solutions. To customers who aren’t aware of the benefits of open source, it can be confusing to help them understand the optionality and freedom they relinquish even if the initial investment of time and money is more. Enterprise WordPress faces the challenge of crafting appealing solutions without becoming the antithesis of open source.
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🔗 Mentioned in the show:
- New York Times
- New York Observer
- Kaiser Family Foundation
- National Science Foundation
- Austin Smith
- Matt Johnson
- Time Magazine
- The Points Guy
- Washington Post
- Bright Spot
- Rebel Mouse
- Tom Willmot
- Human Made
🐦 You can follow Post Status and our guests on Twitter:
- Bradford Campeau-Laurion (CEO, Alley Interactive)
- Cory Miller (CEO, Post Status)
- Olivia Bisset (Intern, Post Status)
The Post Status Draft podcast is geared toward WordPress professionals, with interviews, news, and deep analysis. 📝
Browse our archives, and don’t forget to subscribe via iTunes, Google Podcasts, YouTube, Stitcher, Simplecast, or RSS. 🎧
Cory Miller: [00:00:00] Hey everybody. Welcome back to another Post Status draft episode. And this is, uh, another interview and story in our agency journey series. Um, I’ve got Brad, who’s been a member of Post Status for a long time that leads, uh, Allie Interactive. Um, but we’re gonna. Talk about his story in just a little bit. But, um, you know, I’m always interested in these stories because how you got there, where you were.
And then we’re gonna talk a little bit about WordPress in the future. And, um, but Brad, thanks again for, um, being, taking some time to share your story and journey. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your, your origin story with WordPress?
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: Yeah. Thanks Corey. Thank you for, for having me on.
Um, yeah, I started with WordPress around about, I wanna say 2008, 2009. Uh, I spent, I spent my entire career [00:01:00] working in publishing technology up to this point, and, uh, I started at. Forbes Magazine, uh, in right around 2001. Uh, I eventually worked for forbes.com and, you know, towards the, the end of my tenure there, we were getting into launching some blogs.
Uh, I thought this WordPress platform looked pretty cool. Uh, I believe version three had just come out and, and, and it was starting to look, you know, a little more. Enterprise technology. Uh, you know, up to that point, you know, I think Droople was probably even Jula, I hate to say, was, was, uh, you know, an, an early, uh, adopter in the early, had some early adoption in the enterprise market, but WordPress was really picking up.
Um, I liked the, I liked the technology behind it. I liked the interface a lot better than either of those platforms and, you know, just really on my own, took over a, a spare server and started to build out some blogs. Um, I, I had finally left the company in, in [00:02:00] 2010, but, Shortly after I left, WordPress actually took over, you know, their entire c m s at least for, for a period of time.
So, you know, it, it was good to see, um, WordPress start to get some, some enterprise adoption, uh, in that, in that market. Um, you know, and, and still at that phase, you know, WordPress was still. You know, I, I would say more uncommon than common, you know, for, for usage and enterprise publishing. You know, fast forward to, um, you know, 2010, I, I had taken over as CTO of a, of a small media company and we had a need to build out a couple of foreign language sites.
Uh, we had actually chosen Droople at that time, uh, not WordPress and. My COO at the time, um, had previously worked at the New York Observer, um, with a couple of folks, uh, Austin Smith and, and Matt Johnson, uh, who had just founded a, a very small [00:03:00] agency, uh, of three people called Ali. And, uh, I, I became acquainted with them.
Uh, hired them to build, build those two sites for us. So I actually became one of Ali’s first clients, uh, before I even worked here, uh, which, which was pretty cool. Um, stayed in touch with them. Uh, and then, uh, 2012 when I was, uh, c t o of a, a small startup, um, which, Wasn’t, wasn’t the best job I’ve ever had.
Let’s say, uh, I won’t name the company. Um, but Ali was just starting to really, um, grow at that time. Uh, they were about to land, uh, their first set of really big enterprise clients, uh, a couple of which we still work with to this day. They’re also getting more into WordPress because, you know, the, the market really seemed to be starting to head in that direction, at least for open source enterprise publishing technology.
I had built up a lot of WordPress knowledge at the startup that I was working at. You know, we had, we had stayed in touch over the, the last couple of [00:04:00] years and. Uh, I, I decided to join them and there were, I think, six of us at that point. And, you know, later, um, you know, shortly thereafter became, uh, the, the third partner in the business.
We’ve added a, uh, several others since, but, uh, you know, we’ve grown to a team of 70 people since then. So there’s a lot that happened in between. But, you know, it, it was an interesting journey to, to get to, you know, where I am today. Um, you know, as CEO of the.
Cory Miller: Okay. Well, you kinda shared some of that snippet of your journey related to Allie.
Um, what does Allie do in WordPress in the world? Like who, who are your kind of focused clients? Um, what are the kind of types of work you do related to WordPress?
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: Yeah. When, when Austin and Matt, you know, originally founded the company, um, what was great is that you. I think the three of us always shared a common vision for, for what we wanted it to [00:05:00] be.
Um, and, and really a common interest in, in the types of clients that we wanna work with. You know, the. The worldview that the company was, was founded with wa was with the, the First Amendment as the, the company’s North Star. Uh, you know, a strong belief in freedom of the press, um, and, and really helping, you know, it sounds very bold, the helping civilization bridge the divide from, you know, pre to post internet free speech.
Um, so the, the partners in the agency have always staunchly supported publishing and, and as a result, you know, we have only ever worked with publishers. Uh, you know, we started with. A lot of expertise in, specifically in news media. Um, you know, Austin and Matt had experience working for companies like the New York Observer, um, New York Times Slate.
You know, I, I had worked at Forbes and a couple other media companies, so, you know, we, we had a lot of experience there, but, You know, it, [00:06:00] it became clear that there were, you know, others who really fit that, that definition as publishers that were also important and interesting for us to work with. So, you know, early on, one of our first big clients was, was the Kaiser Family Foundation.
And, and since then we’ve worked with a lot of other nonprofit publishers, you know, who have, you know, just as an, an important mission supporting their communities as our news media clients do supporting free. Um, you know, and we’ve worked with some book publishers and, and cultural institutions as well, but, you know, allie’s like never gonna build an an eCommerce site.
We’re, you know, not gonna get into, you know, other areas of, of, you know, WordPress development and design. Uh, it, it’s always been focused on publishers.
Cory Miller: That’s cool, especially with your background, uh, in publishing. Um, Forbes, obviously everybody knows Forbes. Um, and one of the strengths I’ve seen of WordPress, obviously it’s democratized publishing, so that that lines, and I love the, [00:07:00] the focus on the First Amendment, and the free speech part of that.
That’s, that’s excellent. So with a lot of these publishers as being kind of a default client of what you all focus. Um, what’s the type of work, can you, and, and I know there’s clients you might not be able to talk about, so I, I totally respect that, but what’s the type of work you’re doing for some of these clients?
Is it rebuilds, is it park maintenance? Is it responding to a news team or a room or something like that?
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: Yeah. You know, and, and I think that that’s part of the, You know, evolution of the company that I sort of glossed over between about 2012 and now. Um, when, when I started you, you know, Allie originally, um, the folks that started it myself and, and, uh, and Austin and Matt and, you know, we, we, everyone that started the company and was there in the early days were, we’re all developers and, you know, we all had experience.
Um, you know, as programmers, you know, I wrote code for. [00:08:00] Pretty much until about five years ago, um, you know, full-time. Uh, and you know, so that’s where we started. You know, we partnered with, uh, large organizations to build out, you know, solid publishing technology, infrastructure, you know, with the caveat that we understood publishing.
We had. Worked with folks in newsrooms. So, you know, although at that time we weren’t doing actual, like web design, we understood how to design a CMS that was efficient and, and that took the experience of the editors, you know, into account. Because, you know, very often, you know, I, I, I saw it in my, in my own career for many years, folks would build things for, you know, for editors to use, folks who.
Often on a deadline trying to get a story out quickly. And the interface would be clunky, it would be slow, it would be inefficient, you know, too many clicks, too many steps, not intuitive. Um, so that part of what [00:09:00] we do was there from the beginning. Um, but early on we were working with, you know, primarily outside designers to, to actually, you know, create the designs.
We had a couple of agencies that we used to partner with, you know, relatively frequently. It became clear to us like round about 2014, uh, that, that, that was a pretty inefficient way to work. And, and so about eight, no, now, now nine years ago, we started our own design practice internally and, and now really, you know, we, we’ve become truly a, a full service agency from strategy to design to, to development it.
It’s just so much more, much more of an efficient experience for the folks that we work with to have, you know, A single team under one roof that has all the skills end to end to, you know, thoughtfully think through what we should be building for them. Because, you know, we’re not just implementing code and design and products.
We’re helping to transform their business. You know, like especially on for r and D’s media [00:10:00] clients, you know, creating. A product that generates sustainable revenue for them is very important. Um, and, and the only way that we could do that effectively was to bring everything under, under one roof. Um, . You know, one of the other things that we always saw, you know, in, in working with an outside design firm is you always had this, this dreaded handoff, you know, of, of the design from one agency, um, to the other, you know, to us for implementation.
And, you know, back then it was, you know, Photoshop files. Eventually it became, Envision and then Figma. Um, but, you know, regardless, you know, developers who weren’t necessarily in the room when the product was being conceived are now being forced to interpret it. And certainly, um, you know, especially once, you know, responsive design became a thing, you know, we all, we all take it for granted now, but.
You know, not every breakpoint situation, you know, potential flow of text around embeds and images was, was thought about. And a [00:11:00] lot’s left up to interpretation. But, you know, by having developers and designers on a single team, you know, we are able to do a lot more design and browser. You know, we can create a Desi, uh, a style guide and immediately go to code and, and we know that the product works earlier on and, and it really saves our clients a lot of time and money and hassle.
You know, really we’re not, we don’t wanna waste people’s time, you know, doing things that can be done in a better way. If we wanna spend our time, most of our time, you know, thoughtfully thinking through, you know, what is the best product that we can build for them that’s gonna meet their goals.
Cory Miller: Well, I asked the question cuz I know, um, you all recently posted a job on post status for, I think it was senior WordPress developer.
And I’m curious what a senior WordPress developer at Alley, you know, does like, what’s their week or day look like? You know, coming in, working with these, like, I, I was just going to your website and I was like, New York Post National Science [00:12:00] Foundation, um, of course the Kaiser Foundation and. That’s exciting to me.
I’m, my background is as being a journalist, but I, these are name brand, very well known, huge organizations doing really good work in the world. And I wor and I wonder like, how does that connect down to that WordPress developer at Ali doing work on like a weekly basis because, um, I come from the product side and always, you know, some people prefer the product side, but there’s a, there’s a potential.
Monotony. Okay. I’m just doing these things with client work and some of these clients, I’m like, oh, there’s gotta be something new pushing the envelope every day. Uh, publishing is changing, web is changing, and all that. So what does a, a typical week in a WordPress developer’s life look like at Ali?
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: Yeah, it, it, it’s certainly, I mean, it’s certainly interesting, you know, for for sure, you know, every, every team has, uh, [00:13:00] typically a, a mix of one or more clients that they’re, they’re supporting and in the long term, you know, we.
Really value having long-term relationship with, with our clients now, I would say the, the vast majority of work that we do after we build something, we end up, you know, working with that client for months or years afterwards. I think our longest client relationship is probably hitting 11 years this year.
Um, which is, which, which is pretty crazy to me. It’s, um, it’s a, it’s a long time. All, all of our teams, uh, in general are, are dedicated Scrum teams that work with, you know, a client or a particular, you know, set of clients. Uh, so our, our developers. You know, tend to say working on, on the same teams, you know, month over month, even, you know, even year over year.
Um, and, you know, they are working with, uh, you know, a product manager, a scrub master, um, you know, a designer if, if they’re working on a team that’s, that’s in the midst of a design [00:14:00] project. So, you know, they are, they’re part of a team that’s that’s trying to. You know, come up with Yeah. Ongoing solutions for, you know, whatever business problems our, our clients are trying to solve.
And, and yeah, in the case of something like the New York Post, you know, where, which you mentioned, um, it’s not even just implementing product, you know, that’s really interesting work for, um, the developers working on that project because we’re. Often pushing the bounds of, of WordPress and WordPress, VIP and, and you know, what those particular platforms can do to serve WordPress at scale.
You know, we’re, we’re talking about, you know, hundreds of millions of people that are, that are trying to access a WordPress site. Um, you know, which is pretty amazing when you try to, when you think about where. You know, WordPress came from, its, its origin 20 years ago. Um, you know, the sites we built are probably serving collectively billions of page views a month.
And, um, so, you know, WordPress has really, you know, hit that, hit that true enterprise scale. Um, [00:15:00] which is probably something more we can, we can, we can talk about later. Um, but yeah, the, the average developer that you know is, is working at Ali is, is solving, uh, Really interesting, complex problems. Um, but also they’re, they’re serving Ali’s mission.
You know, they’re, they’re supporting publishers, you know, they’re not just, um, writing code for the sake of writing code. They’re writing code that’s helping, you know, keep the world informed or, or helping communities, uh, you know, beyond, you know, what they’re doing. You know, just, just day to day working at Ali.
Yeah. I love that.
Cory Miller: Any, any way you’re able to combine making meaning. With money, profits and perfect, uh, purpose. I, I love that. And serving that, hiring good with, while getting paid, you know, to do and solve problems every day. So. Okay. I’m curious, you have an extensive background with publishing and this is a little bit off my normal scope, but I want to go where, where you know people are [00:16:00] and get your feedback and vision and thoughts publishing.
I go back to the actual print. I remember my first job. I was like in awe, seeing this big printing press, you know, go around and something came out the other side and then, um, I would drive home and by the time I got home that paper would be on my doorstep. Internet revolution, all that revolutionized all that.
But you’ve seen so much with publishing. I’m curious, you know, the web just continues to acceler. With and, and technology accelerates. What are you seeing with publishing? How has that evolved in your, you know, in your career? What are you seeing in the future for it? We’ve got, like I just saw medium. Um, embraced Macedon, which we’ve talked about on this podcast, uh, the fed averse and all that. And, you know, again, the, the headline is another billionaire buys a [00:17:00] big social network, and, but I’ve seen this trend. I love publishing, I love publishing with WordPress. I, I just wanna ask the general question. What are you seeing now? What are you seeing in the future for publishing on the.
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: Yeah, I mean, I, gosh, like this, this could be an entire podcast episode, but it, it should be, you know, . What, what I will say is that when I started working full-time in publishing, um, you know, 20 years ago and, and I had been. You know, aware of the publishing technology world. Prior to that, my, I actually got into this business because my, my uncle actually helped design the first, uh, electronic publishing system at Time Magazine in the seventies.
And it’s, it’s really like comical to me to look at the, I have, I solved the Frame Blueprint, um, believe it or not, . Oh yeah.
Cory Miller: That’s awesome.
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: It had, it had a massive array of two, 300 megabyte hard drives that, that [00:18:00] pub powered the entire system. Anyway, what What was comical to me about it was that they were all dumb terminals that ran off a central server, and then we went into this whole desktop publishing revolution.
Everyone had this whole end-to-end suite of. You know, very complicated, expensive applications, um, on their desktop computers. And now we’re doing everything in web browsers, connecting to a server. So we actually had it figured out like 50 years ago, and then we kind of straight away for, from a bit, and then we came back to it, which is, which is amusing.
Um, but, you know, the, the, the bigger, the bigger thing to me about the transition from. Print to web and, and where we are today is, you know, like 20 years ago when I was first getting into this and we were starting to, you know, really see, um, uh, proliferation of publishers, you know, launching more, you know, full featured websites that, you know, weren’t just, you know, a few articles thrown up here and there.
Like they might have been in the late ni in the [00:19:00] mid to late nineties for the very early adopters. And they were, they were full-fledged products with unique content of their own. But I think that a lot of publishers, and, and I have some, some stories that I, that I can’t share, but I, but I know certainly details about how certain publishers thought about things.
Um, but there was a prevailing sentiment that the websites then were an experiment, you know, or, or even, uh, you know, a toy, they, they. Viewed as being necessarily, you know, the, a real publication, the way that the, the newspaper or the magazine or whatever it is, was, um, so they were free and, and we set this, this expectation very early on that websites were, were free. You would just go and read them and, you know, there were a few that had a paywall, but, um, you know, charging for content online back then was also super hard [00:20:00] because the payment technology stunk. Um, people, you know, weren’t. Quite used to, to buying things online yet like they are now, you know, eBay, Amazon sure they existed, but it’s not like it is today.
So, you know, the, the payment systems that were available, you know, had a fair degree of friction to them. Um, you didn’t necessarily have the consumer market for it. The, the publishers themselves, especially, you know, folks like at the, at the C-suite level, didn’t really view them as being a primary business driver yet.
And then, you know, then, then of course things changed. Everything moved online. Um, you know, throughout the mid two thousands, you know, we just started to shovel ads onto the sites and we were getting loads of traffic and making tons of money for advertisers. And then, you know, advertisers started to get savvy about things like viewability and click through rates, and it’s like, oh wow.
Um, real human beings probably aren’t seeing about 80 or 90% of these [00:21:00] ads. And then, You know, that whole market just cratered and you know, so now you’re left with this dilemma where most of the traffic to your publication is now online. People want to consume content that way, and it gets hard to start to shift the mindset that.
You know, to, to that you should be paying for this content. Um, and, you know, you can still make money on advertising, but it takes a tremendous amount of volume. Um, or it takes an extremely niche market. Um, you know, for example, Um, you know, a site like the Points Guy Travel site, you know, they make a ton of money on, on, on credit card referrals, which are really high, um, you know, high value things that, that, that, that those companies are going to pay for.
But, you know, those examples are few and far between and you’re, and you’re left with this, you know, this middle ground where. You know, publishers aren’t getting the subscription revenue from the websites that they need to get. They’re not getting the ad [00:22:00] revenue they need to get, and they’re having dwindling print subscriptions.
Um, so, you know, how do all of these important organizations that are keeping the world informed, you know, continue to exist? And, and that’s an ongoing challenge that, you know, we are trying. To help our clients work through. And, and there’s really no, you know, one size fits all solution for, for everyone.
Um, you know, during the, during 2020, during, in 2021, during the pandemic, when. Us, like a lot of folks had a, had a little downturn in business, we had some availability. Um, you know, that’s why we started working on our lead platform, um, L E D E for all you publishing nerds out there. Um, and you know, that was specifically geared towards.
Startup, subscription driven publications, you know, to help create the next generation of, of sustainable journalism. You know, everyone on the platform, you know, has, has paywall content. They charge a subscription fee. [00:23:00] Um, and, and we’re helping them, you know, build out those communities to, to, you know, create, you know, really the next generation of publishers because without things like that, it’s, it’s really hard for them to get off the ground.
You. If you have funding for a startup publication, you, it’s probably pretty limited, and you shouldn’t be spending it on technology. You should be spending it on hiring writers and, and, and, you know, enabling those people to go out and, and, and do their jobs and, you know, you know, create great content. So, um, it just, you know, anyway, it’s a challenge, but, but I think that we all really screwed up back in the.
Uh, in the early two thousands when, you know, we didn’t set the expectation that, you know, you have to pay for this. Did you pay for your newspaper before that? Did you pay for your magazine? Of course you did. . Yep. You know, maybe you’d, maybe you’d read it for free if you had found it on the train or you were sitting at the dentist’s office, but you know, if you wanted that, that.
Content for yourself in the comfort of your own home. You paid your [00:24:00] subscription fee. So yeah. Um, there, there’s, there’s a big reset that’s going on now and, and, and, you know, and you know, uh, we want to be here to help our clients, you know, think through that, work through that, and, and, you know, use our experience to, you know, hopefully guide them in the right direction.
Cory Miller: too many outlets. I think quite a bit about that, that seem to have. A big transition. This is why I got outta the newspaper. So it’s like they weren’t embracing technology. It’s like you said, they set a wrong expectation from the beginning. It’s like, how do you preserve that? And the two I think of are Washington Post in the New York Times, the, the Gray lady, I think she’s still called, um, iconic journalist.
You know, organizations, um, and I see the New York I, I’ve watched The New York Times, obviously I use Word all every day, but I go, you know, it seems like they had some good traction with digital subscriptions and, and things like that. And so I love that cuz [00:25:00] there’s, there’s such a part of this fourth estate that it, that we need as a society.
Quality journalism, sharing, like you said, inform the world of what’s going on. Uh, and it’s sad because I’ve seen what used to be local. Like, the newspapers I worked for were local, city based, you know, small compared to the one we just talked about. And, um, there’s a vital need that they played in the community.
Now contrast that too. So what do you think? Are you seeing trends and things? Obviously you, I, I looked up lead here and I love the name by the way. Um, lead. So trying to help them build community. So that’s another part of some of the things we’re seeing in publishing. It’s not just inform. It’s, I mean, post status is a very microcosm of this is like, we do news, I guess we do content.
Um, but really we’re a community. Um, and, and I’ve seen that with business, how we’ve added community into business. We did this at I [00:26:00] themes, uh, now with post status is going okay. I don’t, we get labeled as a news outlet, but I go, we’re we’re community, we’re, we’re relational. Um, what are some of those things you’re seeing with, uh, within the publishing organizations you all work with?
Building that community. You see, uh, authors and writers building their own community, like Twitter instantly goes, okay, you can’t see ESPN or any of the big things. You see the little, here’s the anchor or writer or whatever it is talking, and there’s a Twitter byline. They’ve cultivated their own kind of followings and things like that.
But what are you seeing with those kind of trends related to lead, uh, lead in the work that you all do with your clients?
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: Yeah, with on, on Leads specifically, you know, I obviously, you know, you could, you know, from an economic standpoint, you could gauge the success of the community through the number of subscriptions they get.
You know, obviously if people wanna pay you money, they wanna be part of, you know, what, what you have going on. But, um, one of, one of the most interesting things I see [00:27:00] within, within Lead is with, with Defector, which is probably the, you know, one of the largest sites we run on the platform, and you know, how.
How many websites do you go to that actually have a decent comment section under their articles? Um, you know, not, not many. Uh, you know, in fact, some of our clients have started to only selectively enable comments or disable them entirely because there just wasn’t productive. . And you know, pretty much every defector article that that gets written has dozens of comments.
Like, not only do the people wanna read the articles, they wanna discuss them with each other, with the other folks that are, that are reading the site. And they’re actually like, really funny and interesting, you know, like arguments and comments and, and um, you know, discussions around the topics at hand that go back and.
Um, to me, I would gauge that as being a success over, over anything else. I, I’m, I’m part of that community as well. I mean, I’m probably a little biased. I was a big fan of Deadspin, [00:28:00] um, back in the day. But, you know, I think what you said, Um, before when you were introducing, that was also really interesting, which is the, the, the topic of local news.
I think local news is, is been affected by this shift. You know, more than anyone, you know, if the Washington Post and the New York Times, you know, decide to start, you know, charging a subscription fee, which of course they both did, you know, um, many years ago. Yeah, with their scale, it’s easier to maintain some degree of profitability and they have profits coming from, from other areas as well.
It’s not just their, their online subscription revenue, um, you know, cuz they’re, they’re catering to a national audience. The New York Times is, and the, and the Washington Post are. New York City and Washington DC papers in, in name only, you know, they, they certainly have a, both have a metro beat, which, which covers the local area, but the majority of the content appears to a national, even a global audience.
You know, they’re, they’re just dealing with a different scale. Um, [00:29:00] you know, there are so many local news deserts that have developed over the last decade across the country where, Um, you know, the local paper is just gone, or, you know, there were three local papers, even in major metropolitan areas. Now there’s one local paper, um, and, and you don’t have any, you know, dissenting opinions and you don’t have enough coverage to, to reach every community.
And, and that news is just disappearing, you know? No, no one’s covering it. Um, you know, with, with folks. Buying print subscriptions with, you know, not even having the scale to, to, to generate any online revenue. Um, you know, it’s really hard. So they end up getting. A lot of them that do still exist end up getting, you know, slurped up by one of the, the major conglomerates that’s purchasing lots of local news organizations.
Um, and even then you, you, you’re seeing their operations get gutted in favor of centralizing, you know, copy editing and, and, and lots of other services. [00:30:00] So, , you know, the actual folks that are on the ground covering things are really limited and, you know, there are stories that are slipping through the cracks.
Um, I mean, I mean, look at, look at, I live in New York City, right? I mean, and, and the New York City metropolitan area is a huge market. We have multiple papers. And you know, something like the George Santos story, which was definitely covered by a local media organization, you know, slips through the cracks to the point where, you know, someone was elected.
Stevie had lied about some things, . So it, it’s really just, it’s, it’s quite remarkable that even in a, even in a market like, you know, New York City, um, something like that can happen these days. So, um, you know, I think we, we really, we, we have a lot of questions we have to answer and I, and I don’t have all of them today.
Um, yeah. You know, but certainly it, it’s, it’s a, it’s a goal of mine to help, you know, help help us, help our client organizations work, work through these challenges. Yep.
Cory Miller: So thank you for that. Cause I just wanna get perspectives, um, cuz this is, the [00:31:00] publishing is central to WordPress and, you know, switching, uh, uh, an area here for a second.
I just wanna get your quick thoughts on this and then we’ll move on to WordPress on the enterprise, but, You know, my story with WordPress is I started my first WordPress blog in 2006, not really to anything I’m doing today, but it, it enabled me, empowered me to be able to publish and that that was an incredible experience.
Clicking publish on my first WordPress site. and there’s this trend that I see and I go, yeah, we called them bloggers back then, but the creator economy, and I’m just kinda, I know this isn’t your bread and butter, but it is in a bigger category that you all serve at a high, high level. Um, but the creator economy, the ability to someone to go on an Instagram, create content, engage a kind of followers slash community, and I.
opportunity with WordPress two. Um, my wife looks at Instagram quite a bit. That’s kind of [00:32:00] her default entertainment channel. And one day she was like, just look. Cuz I was like, ah, I don’t have time. I, I don’t want to get, I’ll go down that rabbit patrol. But I started looking at some of the people that created content and go, they’ve got massive followings.
And then you go business model creator economy. And I think WordPress is positioned there to go, how do you monetize it? Same problem we have on the big scale publishers. We talked about how do we find a sustain. Business model for that classic journalism, local news, news in general, but then for the creator economy, I’m curious your thoughts on that, what you’re seeing, what you hope for, uh, in that, I ha have the ability now to create or press blog or Twitter account or a Instagram or whatever that is, and become a de facto one person publishing company and myself.
What, what are you seeing for that? Do you pay attention to that? What are you curious about seeing
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: for. Yeah, and there’s, there’s, there’s a lot there. Um, you know, for, for WordPress itself, [00:33:00] you know, you, you essentially have, you know, two creator economies. You have those that are creating the software and those that are creating the content.
So it’s actually a, you know, a, a a really a double pronged creator economy, um, within the WordPress world itself. You know, for, for something like. You know, TikTok or Instagram or, or you know, Twitter, um, you know, as probably less so, you know, Twitter to a degree. Cuz I feel like, you know, primarily folks are, you know, following people that they’ve chosen to follow.
And, and if they’re getting exposed to other accounts, it’s usually through retweets, you know, um, it’s, it’s a little less algorithmic than I would say, you know, especially TikTok, which is entirely algorithmic. . But, but the point is, you know, those are little, little snippets of information. Um, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of discovery, um, that’s inherent to that.
You know, you, you end up finding [00:34:00] people to follow through others that you’re following through, through algorithmic recommendations depending on, on the platform. Um, and, you know, they’re little. Snippets of entertainment, you know, that don’t require a ton of engagement. You know, your, your average engagement there is, is measured in seconds, not minutes.
And it’s really just an endless stream of stuff that’s, that’s triggering your dopamine receptors, and, and, mm-hmm. , um, you know, making you entertained and abused. And look, there are creators that are creating like some really. Interesting, thoughtful, you know, content, whether it’s, you know, stuff that is pertinent to my industry, um, you know, historical content stuff that’s, you know, extremely socially aware.
Um, there’s a lot of stuff that you can get exposed to on this, on those platforms that’s, um, meaningful and interesting. And there’s a lot that’s just, you know, purely entertainment. It doesn’t have a lot of depth to it, but it makes you laugh or, you know, whatever. You [00:35:00] know, WordPress, I mean WordPress is a platform.
It’s a tool. Um, it lets people create a different type of content. Um, you know, typically, typically written content, uh, which requires a longer engagement time. And of course there are plenty of people who would rather, you know, engaged with, with a creator, um, you know, through written content, um, that has more depth to it, you know, that that takes longer to read and digest.
You’re certainly gonna. You know, probably retain something better and get something more, you know, rich and meaningful out, out of that type of engagement. Um, but, you know, it’s, but again, WordPress is an open source distributed platform. It’s not just like Instagram or, or TikTok or Twitter, which has an app that you install on your phone and everyone’s using the same app.
You know, a word WordPress sites are hosted across the internet in, in a million different places. , you know, and, and there are certainly some big, um, consolidated hosting platforms like wordpress.com, but, [00:36:00] um, you know, you’re not, it’s not like every WordPress creator in the world is being merged into this like, you know, central funnel where it’s just piped into, you know, a single place that everyone’s engaging with those creators.
So, I think it’s a lot more challenging for, for the WordPress creator in general to find their market. You know, some of them will, can leverage those other platforms, you know, to bring them back to their blog and or, you know, to their site to continue to engage with them. But, um, you know, it’s not like we’re all collaborating together and, and feeding into an algorithm in, in the creator economy of WordPress.
Um, it’s an entirely different beast. Um, you know, I would say that the. WordPress software creators, those that are building plugins through the, you know, wordpress.org, you know, plugin directory. Prob probably have something closer to that than, than the creators who actually created the content. Do you know, just by virtue of using WordPress, of course, right?
Cory Miller: Yeah, yeah. The repo is the central [00:37:00] community in a sense, in a way to launch a market, for sure. Okay. Thank you for that. I wanted to, I wanted to segue for a moment cuz I th this is a topic I think we continue to be talking about in the WordPress ecosystem, um, because it’s how I got started in millions and millions of other people.
Um, being able to click publish on your dream, use the software to do something cool and build a business, whether it’s like you said, the software or the content. Okay. Next topic real quick as we kind of wind down. I want to ask about is what you’re seeing on WordPress and the enterprise.
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: Um, again, again, a topic suitable for an entire podcast episode, maybe even a podcast series, you know?
I agree. Well, I mean, look, word, word Press has been, You know, enterprise software now for, you know, I would say at least 10 years, probably a little bit longer than that. Um, you know, to me the real dividing line was when [00:38:00] WordPress b i p spun up, you know, that that was when, uh, I start, started to see the really big sites came on.
That’s when we, that’s when we started to really, you know, work on the really big sites. You know, our, our first, our first enterprise WordPress launches were the Kaiser Family Foundation and New York Post on, on a very early version of, of, you know, WordPress VIP, um, And you know, back then it was, um, you know, there, there were, those were, they were the early adopters.
They were the ones that saw the, not just the value of WordPress software, but the value of using open source in the enterprise. You know, the having real control over, uh, , um, their software, you know, the, the, the software behind the site was portable. If they decided they didn’t like their hosting company, they, they could move, they could change anything that they wanted.
Um, but the thing that they were starting with WordPress was already pretty good out of the box. So, you know, that was actually pretty minimal. Um, You know, then, you know, a [00:39:00] few years later you had the really, the next big group of, of publishers that we worked with that, um, you know, saw the early adopters were having success.
They wanted to be on board. Um, you know, now, uh, I’m seeing a lot of competition in the market for. You know, from other platforms, um, platforms that are closed source, um, that are, you know, in the long term, more expensive in, in cost of ownership. Um, but you know, the challenge when I’m talking to, you know, a, a potential client about a project, you know, whether it’s a nonprofit or a media publisher, it doesn’t matter. It ends up being a, a similar conversation. Um, you know, I’m not ever competing against another WordPress agency. I’m almost always competing against another platform. And, you know, that, and, and it could be something like Arc, bright Spot, um, you know, and even I even see, you know, rebel Mouse every now and then, [00:40:00] um, in, in those sorts of things.
But like the difference between WordPress. Pretty much any other platform is it, you know, not everything is, is included out of the box. Um, you know, with many other platforms you’re seeing, you know, A A C M S that has analytics included, um, you know, probably more, uh, workflow tools for a large newsroom. Um, especially in, you know, in the case of arc, um, you know, video tools.
Um, You know, uh, lots of, lots of other integrations that you know, you, which WordPress is perfectly capable of handling. You know, there are excellent enter enterprise plugins that connect to pretty much any advertising analytics video provider. Um, you know, uh, third, you know, third party authentication provider.
Take, take your pick of like what enterprise software, you know, you need to integrate with WordPress. Um, there, there’s probably a plugin for it and. It’s probably [00:41:00] an enterprise plugin and it probably works really well and gets you, you know, 90% of the way to, to where you need to go. Um, and you know, to me more importantly, You know, you have a choice.
Like, you know, if you, if you buy an off, if you, if you sign up with a large, you know, platform that does everything, all in one, um, and you don’t like their video solution, you’re stuck. Um, you know, you don’t have the choice of switching from, you know, Brightcove, the JW player. You know, if, if you think that, that, you know, it meets the needs of your product better, you, you don’t have that option.
Where the problem, you know, comes into play is, you know, when you get to the point of, you know, negotiating business terms and sending a proposal and talking to people in the, you know, in, in procurement, you know, who’re trying to compare apples to apples to make the, the best decision for their organization.
And they have, you know, platforms A and B that have all these things built in. Um, you know, this is, this is a [00:42:00] startup cost, this is the monthly fee, and that’s it. And although WordPress, you know, you’re getting all the software for free, um, you know, you’re probably going to hire someone like us to at least help with the initial build and, and, you know, do some integration work.
Um, you, you have to pick your hosting provider. Um, so, and then there’s gonna be an, a monthly cost for that, you know, maybe a startup cost for, for us, and then maybe a monthly cost for us. In the end result, you know, it’s not gonna take probably any longer to migrate all your content and get set up with WordPress, um, you know, through that method than than signing up for one of these other platforms.
You’re gonna have a better experience because you know, you have so much more optionality and. Where you host, who you work with and, and what you integrate with. Um, you’re not paying any licensing fees. You know, you’re not beholden to a single provider and their business model and their pricing model, um, to run the most critical aspect of your [00:43:00] business.
You know, you can control all of that on your own, but that moment when you’re making the decision. and comparing it for some, for some of the folks that we talked to, I think that it does, it does seem more complex, um, because it sounds like there’s more work to do. Um, there are more choices to make, um, you know, versus just deciding and picking, you know, one thing versus the other.
And, and I think that that’s a challenge, you know, in, in the, in the enterprise market, which is like, That initial, you know, quote unquote out of the box demo of, of enterprise WordPress, um, you know, isn’t necessarily as, as well formed as it is for, for some of its competitors. Um, you know, for folks that really understand the.
The benefits of open source folks that, especially that have used the WordPress before. Um, it, it’s, it’s not a challenge, but, you know, for, for, for organizations that are coming into this really, [00:44:00] um, you know, cold maybe from a proprietary platform trying to make that, that decision, I think it can be, it can be somewhat confusing.
Um, so the, I mean, I think that’s, that’s one of the, the big challenges that I think, you know, enterprise WordPress faces, but, You know, how do you solve it? You know, I think that’s, that’s the hard part because solving for that would mean, you know, being a bit more, um, being a bit more opinionated about, you know, things that are included in, in WordPress or, you know, for one of the big enterprise hosting platforms to, to pick a direction, um, and, and build bundle more stuff into the platform.
And that all of a sudden, you know, immediately, immediately becomes the antithesis of open. Um, so there’s a middle ground there somewhere. I, I don’t think that we found it yet. Um, and, and, and also if you read some of the stuff that, like, you know, Tom from Human Made and, and Magda from decode have written, you know, and, and talked about your podcast recently, um, you know, [00:45:00] It’s, it’s very much related to, you know, how we are all solving the, the same problems, you know, in different ways across all of our organizations.
I mean, hell, even in the early days of Guten Gutenberg, um, you know, years ago until we standardized, I saw different teams with an alley solving things in different ways. So, um, you know, there. There’s something to it because, you know, at least for increased collaboration, I think, you know, within our, within our enterprise community, because.
It’s to all of our benefit, I think that enterprise WordPress continues to succeed and thrive. Um, not just because, you know, I want my company to exist and, and to make money, but, um, if not us, then, then who? Because the, the other options that I see enterprise publishers going to are you. Big closed source platforms and, and that’s not something that I [00:46:00] believe in.
You know, I, I, I don’t think you should have to pay for software. If you’re spending money, you should be hiring people to write content, or you should be paying people, you know, to build the really custom aspects of your product that differentiate you, the things that make your business sustainable. The other stuff should be free, you know, and, and open source software is great.
You know, it, it’s foundational to what the internet is so, . Um, yeah, I really hope absolutely that we can all get together and find a path forward.
Cory Miller: Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I created our, um, enterprise leaders group on post Slack, is I think the conversation needs to be had on multiple levels within the ecosystem.
Um, but I, I’ve not. Personally been in enterprise work, ever have friends members, uh, that do this, and I go, I love work. What I hear WordPress is doing on that level, you, you know, from all the media organizations you represent. For instance, at Ali, I go, that’s [00:47:00] cool because when in my daily, I go out and like, what do you doing?
Well, I kind work around WordPress. What’s WordPress? Okay. But I go, it’s powering this percentage of the web, or you know, it’s the dominant thing on the web, uh, for publishing. Um, but also I get to hit those highlights. You’ve probably been on a WordPress hat and didn’t necessarily know it. These cool organizations are doing, using this open source tool and continuing to, I think it’s healthy for the open web to continue to fly the banner of freedom.
Uh, that open source and WordPress in particular, um, champion and to keep that going. I think it’s healthy for us as a a planet society business ecosystem. It, it seems like it’s all. Gonna be better when you have these great options, one of which is WordPress. Well, thank you Brad for, um, sharing the story, snippets of your join journey, the things that you’re doing [00:48:00] with WordPress.
It’s all inspiring, and I know it’ll inspire the members here and those that are looking at click and publish with WordPress or using it in some way, shape, or form. Um, where can we find more about you?
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: Of course. Yeah. If, if you want to, you know, learn more about Ali, uh, if you want to apply to work at Allie, we are still hiring developers currently and, and occasionally other positions.
Um, just check out ali.com, uh, a l l e y.com. So nice and straightforward and uh, yeah, yeah, I’d be happy to chat with, you know, anybody else is interested in learning more about us. And your
Cory Miller: inward and post Slack, so well, thanks again Brad, so much for taking the time. Love what you’re doing, keep it up, and thanks for being a part of Post
Bradford Campeau-Laurion: Status.
Well, thanks for having me, Corey. I appreciate it.