Matt Mullenweg from WordPress at Blog World Expo
The first session at the Blog World Expo was an interview with Matt Mullenweg (founding developer of WordPress). Ed Sussman of Fast Company magazine interviewed him.
To start with, you have to imagine this place. There are probably almost 500 people in this opening keynote. There are long rows of tables with chairs at them where we are all sitting. Probably about 80% of us are blogging while we listen (live-blogging).
They started by asking for a show of hands…
About 90% of attendees are bloggers.
About 75% use WordPress.
About 30% blog for their organization.
About 75% have a personal blog.
Matt has about 350 servers which run the hosted version of WordPress.
He also has an anti-spam program that works with WordPress called akismet.
These two things bring in the money to run the company.
The WordPress platform (non-hosted) is open source.
WordPress got 100 million unique visitors in the last 30 days.
18 people support it. One admin runs the servers.
There are 1.7 million users and one person handles the customer service.
What makes a compelling blog?
Matt: We host a lot of blogs. There are few rules on what works. The one rule is that you are unique and love what you are doing. Find something that “you can’t not blog about”. When you find that topic, it flows naturally.
The reason I blogs is that I get comments back on whatever he talks about. People seldom do that in person. It’s great feedback.
What are the tricks to get noticed?
I believe that passionate content naturally rises to the top. We are deluged with mediocrity. I often read the blogs of those that comment on mine. I see the comment on my blog and go to theirs to check them out. When people talk about me and my site on their own site, I tend to find it. Even if it is on their blog, I still tend to notice it.
Social media and social networking (Facebook, etc) is popular. How does that fit in with Blogging?
I have profiles on several networks. Most of mine are crappy. My best profile is my blog. I think that’s true for a lot of people. If I want to learn about someone I may read six months of articles. Blogs need to be a larger part of Social Networks. Each person’s blog tends to be his central and most complete information.
What is the future of WordPress?
There are millions using WordPress, with thousands of developers. WordPress (the hosted version) is being used for lots of things. The software is getting smaller and smaller. We are continuing to add add-ons which make it more powerful. What blogging looks like in five years will be very different, but the fundamentals will be the same. We are working to add some features that will continue to make it simple.
Have you seen video getting more popular in blogs?
There are some problems inherent with it. You cannot scan video or audio clips. The written word is easier to scan and search.
What is the future of your company?
A lot of websites and online companies are like bad dates. You spend time with them but they just keep talking. They tend to not listen. We want to listen. We also want to keep our company small. We believe in open source and always will.
Are you actively planning strategies to monetize?
We decided to be a profit company, not a non-profit. The most successful companies online continue to payout and enable others to profit. I think there are ways we can enable profit yet keep it tasteful. If I was in a desert or forest, I would not want big huge billboards, but I would not mind someone offering me a drink of water.
Questions from the audience…
What is your mission?
I think open source is the future. I want content on the web be open source. I want to create tools that the world can use and publish for free. My goal is to get more people publishing on platforms like this.
Nice session. Nothing too earth-shattering.