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With industry advertising revenue forecasted to exceed $1B by 2021 and an estimated 62 million people listening to a podcast every week, the right time to start your WordPress podcast is now.
Combining WordPress’ customizable features with a solid podcast hosting plugin is the secret weapon pro podcasters use to save time and expand their brand.
Weekly podcast listening stats
With “searching the internet” as the preferred way for listeners to discover new podcasts, it’s nearly impossible to be included in those search results without a website.
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In today’s blog post, we have plugin recommendations, set up tutorials, and more to get you up and running in no time with your WordPress podcast.
Ready to dig in? Let’s start!
interviewing an expert, relying on witty banter between two hosts, or a solo monologue keep listeners more engaged?
Start with considering which podcast format is the best way to educate an audience on your topic.
Last, is coming up with the podcast’s name. The process of choosing a podcast title is different for every host.
Some prefer exploring creative names, including puns or a play-on-words hinting to the show’s content. For hosts with an established audience, adding their own name to the title is a common first step. For others, it’s finding the middle ground between descriptive and witty.
No matter which path, there are three key considerations to take into account when naming a podcast:
- Confirm the name isn’t already taken: perform Google searches, browse podcast directories, and make sure the website domain and social handles are available for you to use.
- SEO-friendly: You want your podcast to surface in search results, so think about the keywords prospective listeners will use when searching for information related to your topic.
- Say it aloud: This step is often missed but it’s important. You’ll say your podcast’s name thousands of times so say it aloud a lot. It should roll off your tongue and be easy for others to pronounce.
Step 2: Purchase Equipment and Software
When the podcast’s foundation is sturdy, it’s time to think about how to capture high-quality audio for a professional sound.
Podcasting setup (Image source: Unsplash.com)
To achieve that, specific equipment and software are necessary.
Equipment setups can range from DIY home studios to sound-proofed recording booths, but no matter what you’ll need two basic items: a microphone and a pair of headphones.
There are plenty of podcast microphones on the market and if you’re just starting out, we recommend starting with a more affordable option. Our favorite is the Audio Technica ATR2100. It’s forgiving for imperfect recording environments and doesn’t break the bank.
For headphones, you can get away with using pretty much anything but many hosts prefer something with over-ear coverage. No matter the choice, each person included in a recording session should have their own microphone and headphone setup to capture a crisper sound.
After purchasing the necessary equipment, you’ll need a recording and editing software to both capture and refine every episode.
Before making a decision, think about your recording needs. Will you and your guests or co-hosts be in the same room for every recording session? Or will you include guests or co-hosts located on opposite sides of the world on a regular basis?
This question is important because it decides if you need local recording software, where everyone is in the same room, or remote recording software, where everyone is recording separately.
- Audacity: for local recordings we recommend Audacity. It’s free, has all the basic features you need to get started, and doesn’t have a long ramp-up time to learn all the bells and whistles. To get started, check out this video tutorial on the basics of recording, editing, and mixing audio in Audacity.
- Zencastr: for remote recordings, we like Zencastr. It captures studio-quality remote recordings and allows you to record a separate track for each voice which will come in handy during the editing process. Learn how to use the tool for your remote recordings in this video tutorial.
With a raw audio file recorded, the next step is choosing an editing software to polish and finalize each episode.
For streamlined workflows, we again recommend Audacity. If you record using their software, it’s easy to immediately begin the editing process within the same interface. Saving you time and unnecessary additional steps, you can focus on refining the final product.
Step 3: Record Your First Episode
It can be intimidating sitting behind the mic for the first time but with a bit of preparation and practice, you’ll find recording your first episode isn’t so hard after all.
Start with writing a script or outline of what you’ll talk about throughout the episode.
Script template example (Image source: castos.com)
If it’s an interview, research your guest and prepare a list of questions. Be sure to share the list with the guest, allowing them to plan out their talking points ahead of the interview.
When the episode’s content is finalized, move towards practicing some mic techniques:
- Focus on staying a 3-fingers width away from the microphone for a consistent sound.
- Sit up straight or stand while recording, choosing the position where you can speak comfortably for a few hours.
- Run through the script to familiarize yourself with the talking points and refine the intonation for each section.
- Watch the volume meter while practicing to make sure your normal speaking voice isn’t going above 0dB, meaning into the red portion of the meter. This will result in distorted audio files so be sure to adjust the volume levels before hitting record.
- Remember to relax and have fun. Recording a podcast isn’t like giving a speech, you can always re-record.
Step 4: Upload the Episode to a Podcast Hosting Service
Uploading podcast files to a hosting service isn’t recommended. Podcast episodes contain a lot of data that results in large file sizes. A website hosting service is designed to easily store smaller text, image, and short video files but podcast episodes produce much larger file sizes.
You risk hitting the service’s storage limitations, potentially incurring high fees from the provider. In addition, website hosting services can’t transfer large audio files quickly.
This means when a user tries to play the podcast, they’ll have to wait for the player to load the episode and encounter buffering issues. Lower bandwidth speeds create a poor listening experience, likely costing you followers in the process.
Instead, upload the episode podcast hosting service that’s designed to store and transfer large audio files efficiently. In this step, simply upload the final episode to your preferred service and include the relevant episode details like its name, description, and metadata.
What’s a Podcast Hosting Service?
A podcast hosting service is the middleman between you and your audience. The service generates an RSS feed when you create upload podcast episodes to your account.
You’ll then connect your show to your WordPress website or podcast directories, like Spotify, using this RSS feed link. When someone attempts to play an episode, the platform pings your podcast hosting service and receives the episode’s audio file back via the RSS feed. In its most basic terms, no podcasts would exist without this connection and RSS link.
When podcasting with WordPress, be sure to choose a hosting service that provides a WordPress plugin. This integration allows for a more streamlined process, allowing a host to upload their episodes directly to WordPress rather than toggling between multiple platforms (more on this later).
An alternative option is to create your own RSS feed. Using XML coding language, advanced podcasters can put together the necessary tags and structure that make up a standard RSS feed.
Apple Podcasts’ guide to RSS breaks down the required components your DIY feed needs to be read correctly by every podcast directory. With one mistake, though, the RSS feed will be invalid and inaccessible across your WordPress website and podcast directories. That’s why we caution new podcasters from using this strategy due to the many opportunities for error.
Step 5: Syndicate the Episode to Your WordPress Website and Podcast Directories
Creating a podcast with WordPress makes it easy to immediately feature episodes directly on your site. While some of your audience will tune in from there, it’s also important to syndicate every episode across the most popular podcast directories like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Play.
Syndicating episodes means giving the content to each directory so users can ultimately listen to it.
To syndicate a podcast across every platform, set up an account with each and submit the show’s RSS feed to create the initial connection. Then, every time a new episode is uploaded to the podcast hosting service, it will automatically be distributed across every directory you’ve connected.
The best part is, after the initial set up is finalized, you can set it and forget it.
Submit a podcast to Spotify vis RSS feed
How to Podcast with WordPress
The biggest benefit of podcasting with WordPress is the amount of time saved when managing a new show.
Keeping up with a podcast requires commitment and veteran hosts understand how efficient workflows help with consistently producing engaging content. You likely want to get into podcasting for the long haul so here’s a five-step guide on how to podcast with WordPress.
Create a WordPress website
To begin, you’ll need to set up a WordPress website first. To do this, head over to Wordpress.org and follow their download instructions. Best of all, WordPress is a free tool so you can create a fully functioning website without breaking out your wallet.
After the WordPress set up is complete, you’ll then need to choose a website hosting service to store your site’s files and set up a domain name.
1. Install a Podcast-Specific WordPress Theme
Blogs and ecommerce stores are built to achieve different outcomes. Many choose a specific WordPress theme that helps hit those goals. A podcast website is no different.
To enhance the listener’s experience, install a WordPress theme that was built for podcasts. It should feature your media front and center, support audio and video assets, and be mobile responsive.
After picking which theme is best, go to Appearances > Themes then click “Add New” and “Upload Theme”. Then install the theme’s files and start customizing your site.
2. Install a Podcast Plugin
In order to reap the benefits of podcasting with WordPress, you’ll need to install a podcast plugin. And that should feature two important characteristics:
- The plugin is associated with a podcast hosting service so the audio files are stored in a secure and reliable space without slowing down your website.
- The plugin allows you to upload episodes and view analytics directly from your WordPress dashboard so you can manage the show via one central platform.
Many podcast plugins also featured customizable players which is an added bonus.
As new episodes are uploaded to WordPress and stored with the podcast hosting service, listeners can easily play the content directly from your website. Many also allow you to change the player’s background colors and style for a polished look.
3. Link Your Podcast Hosting Service with the Plugin
After installing a podcast plugin, it’s time to link it with its associated podcast hosting service.
Before you upload a podcast to WordPress, this link between the plugin and hosting service needs to be established first. The integration instructions are specific to each plugin/service combination so head to the relevant setup documentation to create the connection.
Why do I need a podcast hosting service?
It may seem redundant to have a website hosting service and a podcast hosting service but it’s important to have both.
Having a dedicated podcast hosting service removes strain from your website host resulting in a faster, more reliable site experience. In turn, that creates a smoother streaming and download experience for your listeners.
Typically the installation process involves sharing your podcast hosting service’s API key with WordPress and the RSS feed is automatically connected to the WordPress dashboard.
After the connection is made, you’ll be able to directly upload podcast content directly to WordPress’ dashboard going forward.
4. Upload Your Episodes to WordPress Using the Podcast Plugin
When you have a final podcast episode that’s ready to be shared with your audience, upload it directly to your WordPress site using the podcast plugin. The process is different for each one so be sure to check the plugin’s documentation for the correct instructions.
As new content is added to WordPress, the plugin will provide the information to the podcast hosting service to properly store the larger audio files. The podcast’s information should update within the plugin and hosting service’s interface so the information matches across both platforms.
Since the audio files are uploaded directly to WordPress, the plugin typically provides the updated information to the podcast hosting service rather than the other way around. Said another way, the plugin updates the host but the host can’t update the plugin. This is an important piece to remember as you start managing your podcast over the long term.
5. Manage Your Podcast Directly from the WordPress Dashboard
As you continue to produce more content and upload new episodes, you’ll be managing everything directly from WordPress’ dashboard. This is where the efficiency benefits really shine when podcasting with WordPress.
There’s no need to toggle between multiple platforms, perform the same actions twice, or manually syndicate your podcast to your website. Everything is completed in one streamlined process.
Many podcast plugins also feature in-depth analytics like the number of listeners and device breakdowns within their interfaces. With these features, you’re able to assess which episodes are performing well and keep generating content to engage your audience.
Podcasting with WordPress is a popular setup and it’s easy to see why. Streamlined workflows, centralized management, and plenty of customizable features, WordPress offers a better way to podcast.
Best Podcast WordPress Themes
With the benefits of podcasting with WordPress clearly laid out, you’re likely eager to get started building your own site. After completing the initial setup, it’s time to start aligning the new website to your podcast and its branding.
In order to change the site’s aesthetics, WordPress offers a hand full of standard theme templates. While it’s perfectly fine to use these options, we don’t recommend it because they weren’t designed with podcasters in mind.
Instead consider a theme that was built to feature audio and video content, where your podcast can be the star of the show.
The themes we love allow hosts to feature custom playlists, build posts for individual episodes, and supports multiple media formats. Each is responsive so your listeners can tune in across their preferred device and you’ll be able to customize the colors and arrange the widgets however you’d like.
The best podcast WordPress themes will differentiate your website from the rest and help grow your audience!
Here some WordPress themes we recommend for podcasting.
Tusant WordPress theme
Tusant from SecondLine is a sleek theme that was built specifically for podcasting and music and video streaming. It supports multiple audio sources allowing podcast episodes to be easily embedded.
The theme allows for an unlimited number of entries so you can create new pages for every episode, series, or blog post without worrying about hitting a maximum. It also gives you full control over the content layout so your podcast is featured exactly how you want it. Most importantly, Tusant supports all of the major podcast WordPress plugins like Seriously Simple Podcasting and PodLove.
Nayma WordPress theme
Nayma from Artisan Themes is a functional WordPress theme that utilizes drag and drop modules to design each page. For those without coding skills, the ease of building new layouts is perfect for anyone brand new to creating a website.
The theme has multiple header options and is ecommerce ready, perfect for selling your podcast’s merchandise or related products. Nayma is fully compatible with many podcast plugins and includes a large array of module types, like galleries and video embeds.
Podcaster WordPress theme
Podcaster from Themestation went all-in on building a custom theme for podcasters. Customize the homepage to feature embedded audio players and playlists so visitors are immediately able to listen to your latest content.
By offering unlimited episode archive pages and unique subscribe buttons, hosts can create an infinite number of new posts and manage multiple podcasts from one site. The theme is clean, flexible, and responsive and is optimized to integrate best with Seriously Simple Podcasting and BluBrry PowerPress podcast plugins.
Audonic WordPress theme
Audonic from mixamedia offers additional plugin optimizations to build a website that supports your podcast and also manage events, social feeds, and blog posts.
The custom widgets are compatible with multiple media types and allow you to upload a featured cover image for audio posts. The theme has dark and light-colored layouts and has a mobile-first design for a refined mobile experience.
Best WordPress Podcast Plugins
Your WordPress website is the home base of your podcast. But you’ll need a podcast plugin to let listeners tune into the latest content and manage your show!
Each of our picks has a few key features that we consider a must when hosting a podcast on WordPress. Most importantly is responsiveness which means the player is functional and visually appealing across desktop and mobile devices.
It’s easy to forget about the mobile experience when designing a website but according to Edison Research, podcast listeners spent 42% of their time tuning into new episodes on their smartphone.
Time spent listening to audio sources on smartphone
If your WordPress podcast plugin doesn’t work across mobile devices, you’re missing out on a big growth opportunity.
To start your research on the best WordPress podcast plugins, we’ve rounded up our top three choices to consider for your website. And you can rest assured each is set up to work properly across every device.
Seriously Simple Podcasting
Seriously Simple Podcasting by Castos is an easy to use and customizable podcast plugin. The intuitive interface makes this plugin perfect for beginners to publish their podcasts in minutes without having to leave the WordPress dashboard.
Seriously Simple Podcasting WordPress plugin
For veteran hosts, Seriously Simple Podcasting supports both audio and video files and allows users to run multiple podcasts from the same site, each with their own unique RSS feed.
The plugin has a suite of helpful features like customizable media players, widgets to display playlists, and thorough listener analytics.
Podlove Podcast Publisher
Podlove Podcast Publisher by Podlove is a podcast plugin featuring powerful analytics to help hosts figure out which episodes receive the most engagement and on which platforms audiences tune in.
Podlove Podcast Publisher WordPress plugin
The plugin also boasts a flexible template structure giving users full control over how episodes are displayed so your content is organized exactly how you want it.
Podlove Podcast Publisher comes with an integrated web player and separate subscribe buttons allowing listeners to follow your podcast across their preferred apps.
PowerPress by Blubrry features simple and advanced modes to fit every podcaster’s needs. Like many podcast plugins, it includes distribution across the major podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and TuneIn making it easy to submit and manage your show from one place.
PowerPress WordPress plugin
Advanced features like podcasting SEO settings allow users to set different episode titles to improve the discovery of your podcast on search engines like Google and Apple Podcasts directory.
PowerPress comes with basic analytics functions with the option to upgrade to more robust insights at $5/month.
Best WordPress Podcast Players
Podcasting with WordPress means there are a variety of options for how to feature a show. While we prefer the ease of using a podcast hosting service that has a plugin with a built-in media player, this isn’t the only choice.
More advanced coders may prefer to host their own podcast RSS feed and store their files on a standalone server. This alternative option requires additional set up time but offers more control over the data in the feed.
But a word of caution for newbie podcasters: homemade RSS feeds are more prone to errors if you’re not well-versed in this coding language. And unfortunately, one small mistake will make your podcast content inaccessible across every podcast directory and your website. For those just starting out, we still highly recommend working with a podcast hosting service to ensure your RSS feed is set up correctly.
Regardless of which method you choose, one of the main benefits of podcasting with WordPress is allowing listeners to discover your latest content. But in order to do that, episodes need to be easily accessible directly from the site.
For hosts who took the DIY approach and have a self-made RSS feed in working order, the next step is featuring the content on WordPress. This is where a dedicated podcast player comes in handy.
We’ve pulled our top two recommendations that offer podcasters advanced features like a responsive player, share buttons, and search capabilities.
Podcast Player is a relatively new plugin to WordPress but is gaining support from DIY podcasters.
Podcast Player WordPress plugin
The key features include displaying a responsive player just by entering the podcast’s RSS feed URL, buttons allowing listeners to share the content to their network, and sort and filter options to create custom playlists.
Set up is easy, all you need to do is add the podcast’s feed URL to the widget block. With fully customizable styles to fit every WordPress site and additional advanced setup features, this plugin fits every host’s needs.
Smart Podcast Player
Smart Podcast Player was built by Pat Flynn who hosts popular podcasts about entrepreneurship. Flynn wanted a player that kept his listeners on his website so he designed his own plugin to make podcasting with WordPress better.
Smart Podcast Player
The plugin offers a robust set of features, designed to enhance each listener’s experience. There are multiple player display options where hosts can feature their full archive for binge-listening and a Smart Track Player if there are specific clips or episodes that deserve the spotlight.
With additional options to make the player stick to the top or bottom of a website, users will be able to hit play from any page they land on. Smart Podcast Player also boasts being the only plugin that includes an email subscribe button to grow a newsletter list of engaged listeners. Offering these advanced features does come at a price, however, with plans costing $12/month or $8/annually.
On Which Podcast Directories Should You Feature Your Podcast?
We’ve talked at length about how to feature a podcast on WordPress but there are many other places it’s important to syndicate your show.
Platforms like Apple Podcasts or Spotify are likely top of mind but they’re not the only ones.
The common rule of thumb is to distribute a podcast to every platform, big and small, to grow an audience and attract new listeners.
Luckily, syndicating a podcast across the main directories all follow similar setup instructions. To get you started, we’ve highlighted the six essential platforms to list your podcast in addition to a few lesser-known directories that are nice to have.
As of March 2018, the Apple Podcasts passed 50 billion all-time episode downloads and streams! Up from 7 billion total streams in 2014, that’s 7x more consumption in just four years.
In order to get in on the action, start with submitting your show to Apple Podcasts first.
Submitting your podcast to Apple Podcasts
The submission process is straight-forward and podcasts are typically approved within a few business days.
To start, create an account with iTunes Connect then add the podcast’s RSS feed URL for validation.
Review the information including the show’s title, featured categories, and list of episodes to make sure everything is correct then hit submit. After 24-48 hours, Apple Podcasts will send an email with the link to the show’s listing and that’s it!
Use the approved link to direct listeners to your podcast’s Apple Podcasts listing so they can subscribe directly on the platform.
Spotify recently earned it’s spot as the 2nd most popular podcast streaming platform and is the platform majority of 12-24 year-olds have listened to in the past month.
With their recent acquisition of Anchor.fm, they are showing their commitment and investment in the podcasting industry’s success.
Submitting your podcast to Spotify via RSS feed
Getting your podcast listed on Spotify follows a similar process to Apple Podcasts. First, you’ll need an account and then add your podcast’s RSS feed.
From there, the team at Spotify will verify your account and approve the show in a few business days.
Google Play and Google Podcasts
For the Android users among us, Google Play and Google Podcasts are the streaming platforms of choice. What’s the difference between the two? Launched in June 2016, Google Podcasts was built to closely integrate with their Google Assistant product signaling their bet that users will want to listen to podcasts via voice assistant technology. As an added bonus, shows featured on Google Podcasts also surface in Google’s search results offering a huge discovery opportunity as potential listeners look for information related to your topic.
In short, podcast content is accessible across both Google Play and Google Podcasts so it’s important to submit your show to each platform. Starting with Google Play, you’ll once again need a Google account.
If you already use Gmail, you can use that account to add podcasts to their portal. Next, submit your RSS feed, verify you own the content, then wait about five business days to be approved.
Submitting your podcast to Google Play
The process is slightly different for Google Podcasts as the tool works to automatically index every podcast if it recognizes a valid RSS feed on a website.
To start, head to Google Podcast Publisher Tools and check if Google’s bots has already found the show.
Submitting your podcast to Google Podcasts
If you receive the error message “This RSS feed is not currently indexed by Google Podcasts”, you’ll need to verify that your WordPress website meets their guidelines.
If Google Podcasts already recognizes your show, you’re good to go!
Stitcher is a free streaming app available across Apple and Android devices that specializes in spoken audio content. The platform only includes radio and podcast content, becoming the go-to platform for avid listeners who love to discover new shows.
Submitting your podcast to Stitcher
It features over 100K+ podcasts and uniquely integrates with over 50 car models allowing users to stream episodes during their commutes.
Stitcher keeps the submission process easy, it takes only three steps to get started. Begin with creating an account, add your RSS feed URL, then wait for approval.
Hosts can also submit multiple shows under one Content Provider account so it’s easy to submit a list of podcasts in one fell swoop.
Podchaser is an extensive podcast database with advanced search and list functions. They allow users to discover, share, and track their favorite podcasts and episodes. Users can find new podcasts to love by filtering by number of episodes, most recent publish date, category, and trending shows.
Submitting your podcast to Podchaser
The platform recently released a personalized Feed feature which suggests new podcasts to consume based on a user’s listening habits. With so many opportunities for people to discover your podcast, creating a listing on Podchasers is a no brainer.
Submission couldn’t be more straight-forward. All you need to do is add your RSS feed link or Apple Podcasts ID to their “Add Podcast” portal. The Podchaser team will verify the information and add the show to the platform.
With 20 million users, Castbox is another free streaming app that’s available across Android, Apple, voice assistant technologies, Carplay, and desktop devices allowing listeners to access podcasts from anywhere.
Submitting your podcast to Castbox
Castbox is a unique podcast directory because they also offer hosting services as well as being a streaming service. To set up an account, add your RSS feed, your email address and wait to be notified when the listing is approved.
Podcasting with WordPress is by far one of the easiest methods to successfully launch a new podcast.
When getting started, we recommend using a dedicated podcast hosting provider to take the guessing game out of creating your own RSS feed. Choosing a provider that has an integrated WordPress plugin saves time and money in the long run–two things you’ll always want more of when it comes to producing a podcast!
Once the website is set and you’re comfortable managing everything inside WordPress, don’t forget to syndicate your show across the major and lesser-known podcast directories.
This is the simplest, most cost-effective way to grow an audience is to feature your show in every place a potential listener already consumes content. Don’t cut yourself off from being discovered!
Now it’s your turn: do you run a podcast? If yes, what do you like the most about podcasting? If no, have you ever considered it? Share your experience in the comments!
The post Everything You Need to Start a Podcast Using WordPress (And Grow Your Reach) appeared first on Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting.
Listen to enough origin stories of successful WordPress agencies and you’ll notice they sound eerily similar:
The founders were working as freelance designers or developers, building websites while simultaneously running their small (or solo) businesses. Inevitably, they started to look around and wonder if there were opportunities they were missing out on — ones that would make their jobs easier, their lives more fulfilling, and their businesses more profitable.
You may or may not be aware of this, but this is exactly where Kinsta’s founders started out. Mark, Anita, Peter, and Tom were running a web development business in 2013 that was a whole lot of work and not very rewarding.
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Eventually, the Kinsta founders realized that what they were doing just wasn’t scalable or sustainable. And that’s a point that many WordPress freelancers and small business owners get to as well.
In order to change that narrative, you must be prepared to shift your company in a different direction. For Kinsta, that meant moving into managed WordPress hosting. For others, that may mean building a bustling WordPress agency. Your story is your own to shape and mold.
That said, whatever path you choose to go down, none of that growth will be possible without:
- A team of dedicated experts
- Buttoned-up processes and documentation
- Automations and templates galore
That’s not to say that you don’t have these elements in place as a WordPress freelancer. But a WordPress agency requires you to take it to another level.
If you find yourself in a similar position where you’re feeling okay with the work you do but don’t feel as though you’re maximizing your impact or your profit, it could be time to turn your freelance business into a full-service agency.
In this guide to starting a WordPress agency, we’ll show you how to get an agency started and, later, how to scale it for greater success and sustainability.
episode of The Office where Michael Scott screams, “I declare bankruptcy!”?
Michael Scott declares bankruptcy the wrong way.
He thought all it would take was a public declaration to zero out his debts. You and I both know nothing is that easy in business or in life. Which is why you’re going to need to do more than start calling your business a “WordPress agency”.
If you’re ready for the challenge (and reward) of starting your own agency, start here:
Step 1: Define Your Mission
According to a recent survey from FlexJobs, these are the top challenges freelancers focus on:
- Finding clients
- Creating a predictable income stream
- Managing their freelance business
When your focus is on where you’re going to get your next client from or how to balance managing a business with building websites, it’s difficult to focus on a mission that’s anything but:
“Do an awesome job designing websites so that great clients want to work with me and pay me on time.”
That all changes once your WordPress business is more established and you’ve created some stability in your work. It’s at that point you need to have a rock-solid mission that every decision revolves around — and one that takes the focus off of your struggles and puts them on the people you intend to help.
To define your mission, ask yourself the following questions:
“Who will we serve?”
In other words, what should your niche be?
Although Codeable isn’t a WordPress agency, the evolution of the company’s mission is one you can certainly relate to.
Codeable’s About page
The founders’ experience running a development agency is what led them to create a solution for a problem they had first-hand experience with:
“Per was frustrated with the client side, Tomaz with the freelancer side: the tons of freelancers, the bidding, the race to the bottom, the fierce competition, the poor quality of work, the missed deadlines, and all the unhappy clients and freelancers as a result.”
So, who are you the most passionate about serving?
Next, ask yourself:
“Why do we want to provide these WordPress services?”
Do you feel as though there’s a gap in the market for this kind of service? Or that your target audience has been mostly overlooked?
Think about what kind of difference you’re going to make by entering the market. Then, craft a short description that sums up the why of what you’re going to do.
Here’s how Codeable does it:
“The purpose was to create a healthy environment that enables distributed work for both clients and freelancers.”
The mission is 100% focused on elevating the lives and businesses of Codeable’s target customers. You should do the same.
Finally, you need to ask yourself:
“Where do we want the agency to be in 12 months? How about 24 months? Or 5 years?”
You don’t need to be able to predict the future, but you do need to have a clear enough roadmap to help move your agency in the right direction.
Take Codeable, for example. Although its services have scaled over time, it’s remained steadfast in its mission:
“Codeable started with small customization tasks, but today we help businesses of all shapes and sizes. While our scope of services changed, our mission to unlock distributed talent, create equal opportunities, and enable both clients and freelancers to thrive in an environment based on trust remains the same. We are still focused on growth not for the sake of growth but for the sake of making a difference in people’s lives.”
The goal-setting and roadmapping part of this exercise isn’t something you need to share publicly right now. However, it’s something your internal team should be aware of so that their own goals and roadmap for growth can align with your agency’s.
Once you’ve firmed up your mission, create an official mission statement, save it somewhere your team has access to, and return to it whenever it’s time to make a big decision for your company.
Step 2: Choose Your Services
Now that you know who you’re going to serve and why, it’s time to iron out what exactly you’re going to do for them and how. Yes, you’re a WordPress agency… but what kind exactly?
Your niche will help with this somewhat.
Take Itineris, for example. This WordPress agency serves the following:
Itineris explains which kinds of clients it supports.
By defining who exactly you are going to help, you can better choose which services you need to provide. In Itineris’s cases, that means:
- Premium web development
- Digital branding
- Biddable media
Then, you have the example of WP-Tonic which specializes in WordPress development for LMS and membership websites.
eLearning businesses are a special breed, with the features needed to support membership and online course integration. As a result, WP-Tonic has services built for this specific set of customers:
- Website development
- Custom design (for WooCommerce checkout, lead gen landing pages, email marketing, sales funnels, etc.)
- Custom LMS plugin development
- Graphic design
- Search engine optimization
- Managed hosting
- Security and backup support
Bottom line? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a WordPress agency should offer the same services as all the lookalike companies out there.
Instead, consider what your clients really need. Then, think about how that plays into your strengths.
And don’t worry if your vision for the agency isn’t something you can necessarily support with the current team you have. Put those additional services or products on the shelf and slowly but surely scale your way up to them.
For now, focus on providing immense value in the services you do offer.
Settle on the essentials: the ones you’re capable of offering and the ones your clients absolutely need. Write them down with a brief description of each and move onto the next step.
Step 3: Set Your Prices
When you’re running a smaller business, you might be reluctant to publish your prices online. You want prospects to focus on your value and not on how much it’s going to cost them to build a WordPress website.
Premium pricing and value are inherently built into the identity of a WordPress agency. So, there’s no reason to keep that information away from the public.
Plus, by publishing your development costs and monthly retainer pricing on your site, you can quickly weed out any prospects who don’t have the budget for what you do.
Here’s how DevriX does it:
“Request a Website” form for interested prospects.
Pricing for the agency’s services appears numerous times on the website. However, let’s say someone gets to this Request a Website form and somehow glossed over any mention of costs. That’s okay because there’s another reminder here:
DevriX statement about average costs for custom development.
As you can imagine, this makes your conversations with prospects much more meaningful. You don’t have to tap dance around the matter of price. That’s already been established. Instead, you can simply focus on what they need and how you’re going to solve it.
As for figuring out how much you’re going to charge your clients, it’s going to take a little work to sort this out.
Check the Market Average
To start, pull up the list of services from the previous step.
Next, check on your top competition in the market — the ones in a similar niche and with a similar offering. This will give you a good benchmark as to what the going rate is as well as what your target clientele can afford.
Then, you’re going to need to do some internal calculations.
List Your Overhead
List out each of your costs as well as how much you owe on them each month. This includes things like:
- Business software
- Business licenses and insurance
- Tax payments
- Office space and utilities
- Equipment and furniture
- Web hosting, domain, and related expenses
- Salaries, benefits, PTO
- Company travel, events, etc.
Of course, you need to do more than just cover your costs. But you need to run through these numbers first to make sure you’re on the right track.
Establish a Markup
What sort of margin do you need in order to be profitable?
In other words:
If your overhead costs are around $20,000 a month, how much money would you need to make it to a healthy profit? Would a 30% markup ($6,000) be sufficient?
Remember: if you want to be able to provide top-notch offerings to clients and take care of the team that’s running the show, you need money to re-invest back into your company.
Find the ideal markup and then set that as your target monthly sales figure.
Set Your Price
Divide your target income by the number of projects you could reasonably take on in a month.
Now, compare your per-project cost with the average market rate. Does your number fall too short? Is it too high? If there’s a discrepancy, does the value of your offering justify it? As Tom Zsomborgi Co-founder and CFO at Kinsta says:
If a lower price is your best differentiator you should rethink your business. A race to the bottom is not a good tactic and rarely works.
So long as you make enough money to be profitable and the client walks away with something of great value, you can commit to this price.
Create your price sheet when you’re done and publish the prices to your website when it’s ready.
Don’t forget to reevaluate your costs and prices each year. As your services become stronger and your offering more complex, those numbers should change.
Step 4: Choose a Name
I know this seems like something you should do earlier on, but I think it’s important to figure out what your company is going to offer and what level of offering it’s going to be before choosing a name.
Once your brand identity is worked out, it’s time to pick a name. Keep in mind the following tips when you do this:
- Unless you want to be the face of the company and be involved in every project, remove your name from it.
- Keep it short.
- Make it easy to pronounce.
- Hint at your unique value proposition and strengths.
- Play with made-up words instead of ones that may already have a strong association in the minds of your clients.
- Make sure no other company has it or a variation of it already.
- Check to see if the domain name is available.
Once you’ve settled on a few options, run them by others: your employees, previous clients, and even your followers on social media.
Get a gauge for how they feel about it. They are more likely to notice if something’s “off” as they’re not as close to it as you are.
When you’ve got the name nailed down, get to work on creating your logo and other branded elements.
Step 5: Create a New Website
An agency website needs to be able to walk the walk. In other words, before prospective clients ever look at your portfolio of work, they should see your website as proof of what you’re capable of.
Your website also needs to do more than just inform. You want it to do as much work for you as possible, to almost become like another team member.
Here are some ways you can make this happen:
Move to Managed WordPress Hosting
You know how time-consuming it can be to manage web hosting, especially as traffic grows.
That’s why you should outsource your own web hosting. The last thing you want is a slow-loading website to distract from the paid client work you need to get done.
If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to put your website on managed WordPress hosting with Kinsta.
You’ll enjoy the benefits of a fast, secure, and backed-up website — without the hassle of managing it yourself. Though, when you do want to see what’s going on behind the scenes and to take control of your server performance, MyKinsta makes it incredibly easy to do so:
The MyKinsta managed hosting dashboard for users.
Not only does working with a managed WordPress host give you peace of mind, but it’ll ensure your website is always in peak condition for prospects who visit it.
Show Off Your Most Impressive Work
Your website is going to have everything that a smaller WordPress website has. However, your portfolio really needs to knock your prospects’ socks off.
Consider using a WordPress portfolio plugin that will make your most recent and relevant samples shine.
And don’t be afraid to create a portfolio that deviates from what’s expected. Just take a look at the portfolio for Neuralab (you can read their case study here):
Neuralab adds custom details to its portfolio.At first glance, it looks like a standard grid-based portfolio. However, functionality reveals more details like what kind of project it was as well as View and Like stats from Behance.
Introduce Your Team
When you run a smaller business, it’s easy for clients to see your team members’ faces and get to know each of you on a personal level.
As you build an agency, your team is going to grow and it’s going to become difficult to make those person-to-person connections with so many contributors involved. Introducing your team through your website is one way to curb this potential feeling of disconnect your clients may feel.
Triggerfish does this really well:
Triggerfish gives a peek at the people working behind the scenes
Each team member has a natural-looking photo, contact details, and position.
Showing off your team in this manner works two-fold. You get to introduce clients to the people behind the scenes. But it’s also like a humblebrag:
“Look at how many people we have working for you!”
Add a Variety of Contact Channels
Because it’s no longer just you sitting on the other end of the phone or email, you can give prospects as many ways to contact you as you want:
- A company phone number
- An email address (or different ones for different departments)
- A contact form
- Live chat or chatbot
- A support portal
- Social media (if you want to provide answers and support there)
Just because you can offer all of these contact points, though, doesn’t mean you have to include all of them on your site. Look at Red Factory (you can read their case study here):
Red Factory has a contact form and Google Maps on Contact page.
This agency has nothing but a contact form and Google Maps with an address.
There’s always the possibility you’ll stretch yourself and your team too thin, so choose only the contact channels that make the most sense.
Automate the Conversion Process
Even though you’ll have more people to handle sales for you, let your website do some of the more mundane tasks.
For instance, if you offer a custom development service but like to get prospects on the phone for a discovery call first, use a WordPress booking plugin and let them book appointments on their own.
When you start selling recurring services, your prospects may feel confident enough to sign up for them without having to speak with someone first.
SkyrocketWP simplifies the signup for maintenance services.
In those cases, you can cut out the middleman (i.e. the sales call) by equipping your website with “Buy Now” buttons and a checkout of your own as SkyrocketWP does (you can read their case study here).
Step 6: Settle the Legal Stuff
After you have the branding bits nailed down, and before you start to onboard clients, get the legal stuff out of the way.
I realize this is the least fun part of setting up a WordPress agency, but it’s the most crucial. You never know when a legal issue might arise or where it will come from, so it’s best to put all the pieces in place now so you’re prepared.
Here are some things to do as soon as possible:
- Register your company.
- Trademark your logo.
- Buy your domain name.
- File a business license in your locality.
- Obtain any business insurances you need (e.g. liability, property, workers’ compensation).
- Add a privacy statement, terms and conditions, and cookie notice to your website.
It’s also a good idea to start thinking about where you’re going to go for help with tax management, human resources, and legal assistance.
Your business might not need that help today, but things are going to move quickly once you get the ball rolling and you don’t want to lose sight of these critical support systems meant to protect you and your business.
Step 7: Fill Out Your Team
To run a successful WordPress agency, the first thing you must do is stop wearing every hat or, really, any hat that doesn’t fit well. So, first things first:
Minimize Your Role
Write down every task you do. What it entails. Why you do it. How it fits into the bigger picture.
Put all of the tasks you enjoy doing and what you can do better than anyone else into a “Keep” column.
Put all of the tasks you don’t enjoy doing or that take up too much of your time into a “Delegate” column.
Then, chart out who you’ll move the Delegate tasks to. For example:
- Client onboarding emails go to the Project Manager.
- Invoice generation and follow-up goes to the Office Assistant.
- Social media posting goes to the Marketer.
When you encounter a task that doesn’t have a perfect match, that’s when you know there’s a new role to fill. It might not happen right away, but as those relevant responsibilities start to add up and weigh you and your team down, you’ll know it’s time.
Strengthen the Core Team
If you look at the list of services or products you provide, it’ll be clear which roles are at the core. Usually, these are your web designer, web developer, copywriter, and project manager.
Make sure you have employees and contractors to fill the essentials if you don’t already.
Also, make sure you have the budget to pay your team members a competitive wage. If you’re struggling to do that, then something is off-kilter. Either your services aren’t priced high enough or you’re trying to ramp up your team too quickly. Take a step back and figure out where the disconnect is before moving on.
Staff for Additional Services
Once your agency becomes super streamlined and has the capacity and budget to do more, start adding roles for new services and opportunities like:
- UX writer
- Customer success manager
- Team leads like CTO, CMO, etc.
If you look at any of the leading WordPress agency team pages like this one from WebDevStudios, you’ll see that the department director hires become especially important:
WebDevStudios senior team roles
Just don’t start adding roles for the sake of adding them. If there’s a demand for it and the numbers prove it’ll be good for your bottom line, only then should you do more hiring.
Step 8: Create Your Toolbox
This may seem counterintuitive, but you’re going to need to spend money on a better toolbox if you’re going to make more money.
So, here’s what you need to do:
Assess Your Current Toolbox
If you’re currently using any business tools or software, write down a list of everything you use and what purpose they serve.
Next, look at those tools’ capabilities and answer the following honestly:
“Can this tool scale alongside your business?”
If not, mark it for deletion.
You need tools that allow you and your team to move faster and more efficiently than ever before. It’s the only way you’ll be able to offer services at scale and multiply your incoming revenue.
Fill in the Gaps
Look at your list and see if there’s anything you’re missing. Maybe it’s a tool you’ve been dragging your feet on buying or something you didn’t think you were ready for.
- Stock photo site membership
- Designer-developer handoff tool
- Premium WordPress plugins or premium themes
- SEO auditing software
- Time-tracking software
- Sales funnel tool
Don’t just look at what you need. Consider the needs of your team. What will enable them to work at their level best and, in turn, provide a better offering for your clients?
Once you have a list of all the tools you need to add, upgrade, or delete, get to work. This isn’t something you’ll want to be worrying about or transitioning your team over to once your agency is rocking and rolling.
Step 9: Develop and Document Your Processes
You’re going to need a lot of structure for your agency. This is beneficial for a number of reasons.
For starters, a well-developed and documented process makes it easier to produce consistent results for clients. Secondly, it makes it easy for new employees to hit the ground running.
Again, this is all about increasing your speed, agility, and accuracy as a company. And established systems will do the trick.
Have a look at the Iron to Iron agency website:
Iron to Iron sums up its web development process.
There’s no secret about what process the team uses to build websites for clients — and this is only what people see from the outside.
Internally, this agency likely has documentation that details every single step of the process. In addition, processes are probably complemented by a series of software automations, checklists, and templates.
This is exactly what you need to do.
Just as you did with your toolbox, create a list of the processes you currently use in your business.
Are there any that are outdated or inefficient? Update them before you do anything else.
Then, take a step back and think about what else you should have processes for.
If you’re adding new services (or even recurring subscriptions or products), add related processes to your master list.
What about tracking and following up with leads? Issuing invoices to clients? Moving projects from one team member to another?
There are so many different things to think about now. This is why it’s so important to extract yourself from the hands-on web development work so you can oversee the big-picture items that help your agency run like a well-oiled machine.
Create a separate document for each process and store it to a secure and centralized location. It could be something like a team Dropbox, Google Drive, or project management platform.
Client Management Processes
Don’t forget about prospecting, onboarding, and client management processes.
As you take on more clients, it’ll be difficult keeping tabs on it all if you don’t have systems in place.
Do you have a CRM? How about a client-friendly project management and communication tool? What about a process for creating a custom WordPress dashboard to ease website clients into the CMS?
It’s also important to have pre-built templates for proposals, contracts, and onboarding steps so you can get prospects out of the sales pipeline and into your active project queue as quickly as possible.
Employee Management Processes
The same is needed for employee hiring, testing, and onboarding.
In the earlier days of your business, you probably asked people you know for referrals or posted jobs to online boards just to get some relief. When it comes to your agency, though, you have to think about more than:
“Does this person’s skill set match what I’m looking for?”
Now, you have to think about how you’re going to find people:
- To fill specialized roles in your company.
- Who wants to grow with your agency long-term.
- Who fits with your company culture.
There’s really no room to compromise as one weak link could throw the whole thing off.
Build out your interview and hiring processes to find people that fit the right mold. Then, once they’re on your team, you’ll need processes that help them thrive within your agency.
Another thing to think about is looping your employees into process development and documentation.
Once you’ve got some rock-solid employees in place, empower them to take ownership of their processes and documentation. If you can get them more involved in shaping your agency, they’ll be more committed to your mission over the long run.
Step 10: Set Up Internal Reporting
It’s going to be hard keeping track of everything as the size of your company, client list, and team grows. But you need access to that data so you can make smarter business decisions for your agency.
While you should set aside dedicated time to review your data, you can automate the actual work of generating the reports. Here are some places you can do this:
- Google Analytics (or one of its alternatives) to track website traffic, referral sources, bounce rates, conversions, and other key performance metrics. Here’s a handy guide on how to add Google Analytics to your WordPress site.
- Your CRM to keep tabs on leads entering your sales pipeline, conversion rates, customer lifetime value, and projected income.
- Your project or task management software to check on project statuses, bottlenecks, inefficient workflows, etc. Here’s a through guide comparing two of the most well-known tools: Trello vs Asana.
- Your time tracker to monitor team performance, watch for scope creep, and so on.
- Bug and issue tracking logs to follow up on unresolved errors, recurring issues, missed customer service opportunities, etc.
- Online reviews and client feedback reports to identify team wins and look for areas of improvement.
By automating these reports, you can spend more time taking action — whether that be gathering your team to celebrate a major win, working with a team manager to fix a leaky process, or deciding to remove a service that’s unpopular.
How Do You Scale a WordPress Agency?
There’s a lot you have to do to start a WordPress agency. But once you have your well-oiled machine up and running, it’s time to really ramp things up.
Just look at Kinsta. Pivoting from a web development agency in 2013 to managed WordPress hosting took a lot of guts.
But here they are: continuously growing their company past the seven-figure mark while maintaining the quality product customers have grown to know and love.
That hasn’t come about by pure luck. And the same is going to be true for your own WordPress business.
When you’re ready, here are some ways to start scaling:
Create Recurring Revenue Streams
Many WordPress agencies find their footing by selling web development services. The only problem is that this is a one-off service. That can make predicting revenue difficult and can also lead to a lot of wasted energy onboarding new clients all the time.
With recurring revenue streams, though, you can bring major stability and scale to your cash flow.
Here are some common ways WordPress agencies add recurring revenue to their businesses:
- Website maintenance services
- Managed WordPress hosting
- Affiliate marketing
- Premium information products like courses, webinars, etc.
- WordPress theme or plugin development
The beauty of some of these is that you won’t need to manage the processes if you don’t want to (like if you outsource maintenance services and charge your clients a markup).
As for the others, you’ll reap the benefits of building something that’s one-and-done. While you’ll still have to support your products and keep them updated, the bulk of the work happens upfront.
Become a Content Generation Machine
Agencies shouldn’t be out there hustling for clients. At this point in the game, clients should be clamoring to work with you.
The best way to make that happen? Boost your online visibility and authority with high-quality, actionable, evergreen content.
- Publish blog posts at least two or three days a week.
- Post to social media daily: make it be less about you ( about 20%) and more about sharing useful tips and insights from others (about 80%).
- Guestblog on high-profile websites where your audience and peers are.
- Land podcast spots on relevant shows.
- Create download-worthy lead magnets that spur your website visitors to action.
- Build a repository of long-form content, either written or video (live or pre-recorded).
Make an impact with your content and you’ll find you never have to go looking for clients (or business partners!) again.
Between the Facebook groups, online forums, WordCamps, Slack communities, and web design conferences, there’s no reason to isolate yourself when you’ve built a business around WordPress.
There are so many opportunities to connect with others in the space and partner up, too! So, don’t be afraid to get out there.
You might find someone to run a joint webinar or course with. You might meet your favorite developers and decide to partner with them. Or you could meet another agency owner who wants to share referrals since your niches have no overlap.
You never know who you’ll meet, how you can help one another out, or what you’ll learn from spending more time in the WordPress community.
As WordPress continues to maintain its majority market share in the website builder space, now is a fantastic time to start a WordPress agency.
It’s important to remember, however, that a freelance WordPress business is vastly different from an agency that offers a full suite of services and recurring products.
You can’t just flip a switch and suddenly announce to the world that you’re now running an agency. There’s a lot of work that has to go into the backend before you can begin to reap the rewards of agency ownership.
You need to:
- Define your mission so you can successfully carve out a space for yourself.
- Choose services that your clients actually need and will prosper from.
- Set fair but competitive prices that will allow you to make a profit and fuel your agency’s growth.
- Choose a name that creates a strong and unique impression for your agency.
- Build a website that does some of the sales and marketing work for you.
- Deal with the legalities of running an agency.
- Build a team that will support your mission now and in the future.
- Create a toolbox that allows you to work faster and better than ever before.
- Develop processes that enable you to scale.
- Automate reports so you always stay abreast of key performance metrics for your agency.
If you’re overwhelmed by all of this, then starting a WordPress agency might not be in the cards for you (which is perfectly fine).
There are certain clients that will gravitate to agencies, but where does that leave the rest? There will always need to be WordPress freelancers and boutique businesses to provide cost-effective and more personal-feeling services those clients desire.
That said, keep this guide on hand when you’re ready to grow. Even if your goal isn’t to build a full-scale agency, there are a lot of business-boosting strategies here you can leverage for a smaller WordPress business.
Now, it’s your turn: have you have considered launching a WordPress agency? What’s blocking you? If you successfully built one, what turned out to be tougher than you expected? Tell us in the comments!
The post A Guide to Starting and Running a Successful WordPress Agency appeared first on Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting.
WordPress.com has always taken care of your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) behind the scenes. Whether you have a free site or paid plan, we index your posts and pages so that the Googles and Bings of the world can easily find them. Many of you, however, have requested more hands-on control over your site’s SEO — so we’re thrilled to introduce a new SEO settings panel to your dashboard.
When it comes to attracting viewers via search engines, nothing beats publishing high-quality posts on a regular basis. But there are also a number of technical settings that can have an impact, and our new panel gives you easy access to and control over these settings.
When you’re working on your site in the WordPress.com dashboard (access it by going to My Sites in the top-left corner of the screen), head to the Settings page and you’ll see a new Traffic section.
This section contains two items: Site Verification Services, and XML Sitemap. Read on to learn how they can help with your site’s visibility.
Site Verification Tools
WordPress.com comes with built-in stats that give you ample information about your traffic. If you’d like even more stats, some search engines and social networks offer additional “webmaster tools” that may complement the data you see here.
We’ve made it easier for you to verify your site with several services (for detailed instructions on site verification, read our step-by-step instructions). All you need to do is copy the HTML verification tag from any of the platforms listed below, and paste it into the corresponding field:
Site Verification Tools
We currently support the following services:
- Google Search Console
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Pinterest Site Verification
Your site has always had an XML sitemap, but now you’re never more than a couple of seconds away from finding it!
Sitemaps are special-format pages that let search engines know what pages exist on your site and where to locate them. After you’ve verified your site using Google, Bing, or Yandex’s webmaster tools, you can submit your sitemap to those services so that search engines can easily find all the pages on your site.
Going through this step may help search engines index your site more quickly, as well as establish your authorship of original content in case your posts get syndicated or shared elsewhere on the web later on. Once you’ve added your sitemap, some of these services (including Google and Bing) will also be able to provide you with more information on your site’s performance.
- Submit a sitemap to Google Search Console
- Submit a sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools
- Submit a sitemap to Yandex
With access to more SEO settings than ever, you have the ability to take charge of your site’s search engine success. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO on WordPress.com, visit our previous articles on the topic at The Daily Post, or check out some of the most frequently asked SEO questions.
You wake up one morning, check your phone, and spit out your coffee. You have thousands of likes on Facebook, hundreds of retweets, and an inbox that has exploded. Your little blog — which normally gets a dozen views per day and has an audience of exactly two, your spouse and mother — has been shared all over the internet, and that post you wrote last night, in your pajamas, has gone viral.
Going viral is different for everyone, but it can be a strange blend of exciting and terrifying — and very emotional, as writer Sam Dylan Finch described in his recent interview. Here, four bloggers on WordPress.com share their experiences.
Gretchen Kelly, Drifting Through My Open Mind
Last November, Gretchen Kelly published “The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About,” in which she described all the tactics women employ to move safely through a world of sexism and harassment. Nearly two thousand comments and more than two million views later, the post continues to generate a lot of activity.
Can you pinpoint the spark that set it all off?
Twitter is where my post first started to get some traction. I knew something was going on when I started seeing retweets and comments from non-bloggers. Soon, my Twitter notifications were going crazy. People started asking to publish it in different languages, and the Huffington Post and Upworthy contacted me. It was circulating on Facebook, too, but I wasn’t as aware of that. I think it was shared initially because it resonated with so many women. Then, it was shared by people who were angered by it. There’s definitely a sweet and salty feel to going viral.
What is one thing you learned from the experience?
I don’t know if anything can prepare you for the turbulence of going viral. I learned that I’m not as thick-skinned as I’d like to think. I received so many positive, touching messages from both men and women. But the negative, hateful comments? Those were tough to take. At times I let them get to me and affect my mood. Eventually, I had to turn off notifications on my phone and take a break from it all.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t think I would do anything differently. I almost scrapped the post right before publishing it. I was filled with doubt, worried that no one would get what I was trying to say. But I published it and hoped for the best. I try not to question or overanalyze anything when it comes to my writing or blogging. It’s a struggle because I think generally, writers are an over thinking, self-doubting bunch. But I also know that overthinking can be the death of creativity. I try hard to just go with it and let things happen. So, no. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Has blogging been a challenge since this viral post?
My desire to blog hasn’t waned. What was a challenge was deciding what to write next. I am not a niche blogger, and I don’t want to be pigeonholed. I sometimes write about feminism, but I also write about grief, about my life, about love. Would I lose new followers or let them down? Would people pick it apart like some did with the viral post? Eventually, I just wrote what was on my mind at the time. I’m still working on that not-overthinking thing!
Matthew Fray, Must Be This Tall to Ride
Last month, Matthew published “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink.” Before he knew it, the post had gone viral — no promotion needed on his part. Since then, he’s been experiencing the aftermath of the experience, which he reflected on in “Of Course It Was About More Than Dirty Dishes.”
Can you pinpoint the spark that set it all off?
Kind of. I work in digital marketing, so checking web traffic and content performance is part of what I do. I published the post on January 14th. It was viewed 263 times that day.
This is how the post performed afterward:
Matthew’s post views from January 15-28, 2016.
Views are slowly returning to whatever my blog’s new normal will be.
It was nothing more than some readers sharing it on Facebook, then their friends sharing it on Facebook, and then their friends doing the same.
What is one thing you learned from the experience?
I learned that blogging CAN make a tangible difference in people’s lives. A silly post about a dish by the sink — the deeper meaning was sadly lost on many readers — sparked countless conversations about marriage online and among couples. Some people said their relationships will never be the same. In a good way.
One thing I learned about myself is that everyone will not like or agree with me, and I need to be able to live with that. I didn’t like having so many people who didn’t know me make judgments about my marriage and my beliefs based on one post that most didn’t seem to read all the way nor understand. Moving forward, thicker skin will be required.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
There are sentences in the post which made sense to me and regular readers because we have context, but to millions of strangers, some thoughts were understandably misinterpreted. Had I known so many strangers would read it, I’d have exercised more thoughtful and prudent word choices. But, big picture? This got people talking about marriage in meaningful ways. I’m proud of that. In that respect, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Has blogging been a challenge since this viral post?
In my two-and-a-half years of blogging on WordPress.com, people have mostly been exceedingly kind when leaving comments. Opening the floodgates to a larger cross-section of humanity introduced me to criticism and some less-than-pleasant insults in a way I had never experienced.
Sometimes people (or maybe it’s just me) have a unique capacity to ignore the ninety percent saying nice things, and hone in on the ten percent who aren’t. I didn’t always handle that with grace and professionalism. Learning to accept that not everyone will agree with me, like me, or understand me will be my biggest challenge moving forward.
Lisa Durant, Can Anybody Hear Me?
In April 2015, Lisa wrote “The ‘After’ Myth,” a post about losing weight, yet failing to discover and truly love herself. A year on, the piece continues to resonate with readers.
Can you pinpoint the spark that set it all off?
Although I can’t be entirely sure, I think a photo made my post go viral. Since my post was about my weight loss journey (or, as I prefer to put it, my life gain journey), it included a before and after photo of my physical transformation. While I understand that a dramatic high-impact photo makes for good clickbait, in this scenario, it’s kind of ironic. That post (and my entire blog, really) are meant to take attention away from the physical and focus more on the mental and emotional challenges of major weight loss.
What is one thing you learned from the experience?
I was surprised at how many people were surprised by my willingness to talk openly about personal topics. I also felt a bit of fear over being so visible. I’ve always been an open book, but I’ve never had so many readers paging through. I learned that people are a lot kinder than I ever knew. I was shocked at how few negative and critical responses I received and overwhelmed by the support I found.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I could have capitalized on it. I could have ridden the wave of being visible and used it to gain even more exposure. I could have grown my blog, sold ads, and tried to turn it into a career as many others have. But I purposely chose not to, and I don’t regret that choice. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed briefly writing for other publications as a result, but I also chose to retreat and let the viral post run its course. I suppose that’s one other thing I learned about myself: I don’t want to be famous; I just want to write.
Has blogging been a challenge since this viral post?
At first, going viral made me second guess everything I sat down to write. I worried that whatever I posted next would never be as good. I also became much more aware of how many people could potentially see the sometimes very personal things that I tend to bring up in my posts. But then, I realized that these fears were exactly the right thing to write about next, and so I did. And, I made a decision and a statement: I couldn’t promise that every post would be viral-worthy or even interesting to anyone else, but I could promise to be honest. I decided that I would continue to do what I’d been doing for years: write for me, not for an audience.
Corinne Rogero, Duly Noted
“I Should Be Engaged,” Corinne Rogero’s quiet musings on being more mindful in the moment and creating meaningful connections, made lots of noise in January as well. Ten days after, she beautifully reflected on the experience that turned her world upside down.
Can you pinpoint the spark that set it all off?
I think a lot of millennials are bombarded with the notion that engagement and marriage are the keys to happiness. So the word “engaged” in my post’s title perhaps drew people’s attention, and I’m sure some readers hoped to hear a valid reason for why they deserved to be engaged in the marital sense as well.
What is one thing you learned from the experience?
There is greater power in sharing stories and exchanging words than perhaps we’ll ever fully realize. And I think because our words hold such weight — whether we realize it or not — they deserve to be shared in ways that connect with other souls and land somewhere deeper than mere surface level.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t think many people expect their post to go viral when their cursor hovers over the “Publish” button, and because my experience was just as unexpected, I don’t think it could have taken place any other way. I was writing just to write, and it just so happened to be read around the world.
Has blogging been a challenge since this viral post?
Immediately after my post crossed the 1,000,000 mark, I felt pressure to publish posts of the same caliber — that anything under a million views meant it wasn’t a good post. And the same expectation carried over into other social media platforms where I’d gained hundreds of followers because of my post. Suddenly, each Instagram photo or tweet had to be perfectly clever and professionally delivered. But I’m reminded that whether a post receives one or one million views, those one or one million people are exactly those who need to read it. Playing the comparison game in writing will only stifle your voice and suffocate your story.
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