Category Archives: wordpress.com

Tumblr Support in WordPress

Earlier today WordPress.com turned on the ability to push new blog posts to Tumblr, alongside the existing capability to do so for Twitter, Facebook, et al. This is interesting for a few reasons.

While the tech press often likes to paint companies in a similar market as competing in a zero sum game, the reality is that all are growing rapidly and services feed each other and cross-pollinate more than anyone gives them credit for. Tumblr built a dashboard reader product that has tons of pageviews and lots of followers, which can provide distribution for blogs much in the same way Facebook and Twitter do. (Its 85%-on-dashboard-centric usage looks more like a social network than a blogging network, actually.) WordPress has fantastic content that people on Tumblr love, and Tumblr has a rich and diverse content and curation community that can drive new visitors to WordPress — it’s like peanut butter and chocolate.

It’s true that we’re becoming simpler and more streamlined and it’s a process driven by our design vision and our community, not what any particular competitor is doing. WordPress has always flourished because it’s a hassle-free digital hub — a home on the web you can control, customize, and truly own due to the fact that it’s Open Source software. WordPress is the antidote to walled gardens.

WP.com Marketplace Idea

At WordCamp Argentina yesterday I talked about an upcoming feature for WordPress.com, a theme marketplace, and while the feedback has been universally positive amoung everyone I talked to some folks who weren’t there and don’t speak Spanish seem to be criticizing third-hand, Google-translated information, which is a little sad to watch, so here’s some details. :)

Right now WordPress.com is a little bit like a clothing store with only XXL men’s pink ponchos available — not a lot of selection. We’d like to offer more products, hence the idea of a theme marketplace.

Imagine you’re a theme designer and if you do a custom one-off theme for a site like this you may get $500. (Keeping the numbers simple for the sake of argument.) Making a good theme is really hard, and you may only be able to do one a week. Now imagine you made a theme and uploaded it to our theme marketplace, then set a price of $50. You’re now an option on the dashboard of 1,736,206 blogs, if we split the price evenly and 20 of those 1,736,206 blogs purchase the theme, you just made as much as you would doing a one-off design. You can plug in different numbers and assumptions there and it’s pretty easy to see how this could be big for designers.

There are some obvious things that need to be in place, and probably a few we haven’t thought of yet. There need to be some theme guidelines (and good taste) enforced, an easy, safe interface for uploading and updating of themes, a system for previewing a theme live on your blog. Beyond the obvious guidelines of browser compatibility and general not-sucking, we’ll require submissions be original, link-free, not published before, and GPL-licensed. (That also means that all themes in the marketplace will be available FREE to wordpress.org users. That may force some to switch from .com to .org, but that’s fine. :)) Will .com users want to buy premium themes? I think so, but the only people really taking that risk are launch partners, and worst-case scenario you’ve got a cool WP theme on your hands. (By the way if you have an amazing theme and you want to be in this program at launch, which should give it a nice boost, drop me an email m@mullenweg.com with “killer theme” in the subject.)

At the end of the day, it’s just a market. I’m sure styles, pricing strategies, and more will develop over time.

S3 News

Three bits of Amazon S3 news:

  1. We’re now using S3 as the primary storage for WordPress.com, rather than just for backups. We have some layers in front of it, notably Varnish, so the majority of our serving doesn’t hit S3. Still, our AWS bill went from around $200/mo to $1500/mo, and rising. It has simplified some of our requirements, but doesn’t look like it’ll save any money.
  2. Amazon now has a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Big companies like this, but in the real world I’ve found there to be a low correlation with service reliability and the presence of a SLA.
  3. In the Amazon newsletter they promoted Content Spooling Network as a good use of their services. Unfortunately, the service appears to be tailored for using Mechanical Turk to “ghostwrite keyword-based articles for SEO,” or more succinctly, “spam.” Get a web-savvy editor for that newsletter, guys!

WordPress.com Growth

Even though we post a wrap-up post each month, I don’t think the story of the growth of WordPress.com is very well-known. As Narendra Rocherolle said to me a few weeks ago, “Pound for pound you guys get less press per pageview.” Webware just publish some Nielson numbers that show WordPress.com as the #4 blog site in July, after Blogger, TMZ, and Typepad. Number four isn’t that hot,but the year over year growth was 398% which is 7-10x more than those above us. Of course Nielson/Netratings doesn’t match anyone’s internal numbers, though people generally assume they’re precise relative to each other.

But what about something more accurate? I’ve been a supporter of Quantcast since they launched and we run their code on all our blogs. It provides some interesting stats like demographics that we wouldn’t have on our own. (I also like that it’s fast and has never caused us problems, better than even Google Analytics.) Their numbers place us fairly well, #29 in the US with 16 million uniques. However there’s more…

Apparently the Quantcast numbers are just for blogs on a wordpress.com subdomain, none of our custom domain traffic is counted. They’re experimenting with a new feature called “networks” that aggregates the traffic for WordPress.com-hosted blog even with their own domains. Those numbers place us at 25 million US uniques and 70 million global a month, with a bit over 300 million monthly pageviews. We don’t track uniques, but their pageviews mirror our own closely so I feel this data is pretty accurate. 25 million US uniques would put us at #19 right next to Facebook.

The growth and reach isn’t a credit to us, it’s to our bloggers, but I am happy we’ve created a platform where some of the most creative bloggers can express themselves and attract a meaningful audience. Imagine what those numbers would look like if they included WordPress.org blogs.

This is a long way of saying happy 2nd birthday, WordPress.com. Thanks for the incredible ride over the last year.