WPBeginner is the Go-To Site for All Things WordPress

I first met and interviewed Syed Balkhi, founder of the very popular WPBeginner, at BlogWorld two years ago. WPBeginner is website that provides free tips and tutorials to users of the WordPress content management platform.

Since then, his archives and subscribers have grown exponentially, with testimonials from such luminaries as Neil Patel, Chris Garrett and Chris Brogan, who said, “WPBeginner is one of those cornerstone places you need bookmarked. I just hate that it’s called ‘beginner’ because I’ve got 12 years experience and I still learn things there.”

Since our first interview, reproduced below, Syed has created a YouTube channel and added a new WPBeginner Videos section on the website. 

Should You Use Pop-Ups?

I was pleased to see that Syed had recorded a YouTube video reviewing OptinMonster, a WordPress popup and lead generation plugin. I’ve gone back and forth myself about whether I should use a popup to encourage visitors to subscribe to my blog posts.

I find it irritating when a popup interrupts my reading a blog post, but OptinMonster enables you to schedule a popup when visitors exit your site. Syed says the plugin has increased his subscribers by 600%. Here is a video in which he describes the plugin and shows exactly how it works.

About WPBeginner With Syed

Your site WPBeginner contains excellent information and video tutorials for someone who is just starting out with a WordPress blog. Why did you create this site and what do you gain from it?

Thank you for the compliment regarding WPBeginner. It feels great to know that I have created something helpful for so many.

In early 2009, I decided that my design company would migrate all our clients to WordPress. After a while, I realized that we were answering the same questions over and over for our clients. I knew that we had to figure out an efficient way to handle this.

My options were to create a PDF with all the frequently asked questions. Or I could create an online wiki, or community website, for our clients. That’s what I decided to do with WPBeginner.

At the time, most WordPress related sites were for developers by developers. In our site, we tried to offer resources for beginners from a beginner’s perspective. I noticed that my developer friends were sending their clients to the site. Within a short time we were getting thousands of page views and questions from readers.

Often our answers to those questions ended up becoming blog posts where we could share information with other readers. Soon I started seeing sites like MashableSmashing Magazine, and others start linking to our resources. Long story short, it became a trusted, authority website in the niche.

Not to be crass, but how do you make money when giving away so much content?

WPBeginner helped grow my web development business even further. Without planning to, we had evolved into what’s called a Freemium model. By giving away content we were able to build our reputation and start charging people for more customized services.

We started working with clients that I would never have imagined — Fortune 500 companies. Aside from consulting and work-for-hire, we do make money from advertisements and affiliate commissions from the products that we recommend.

In viewing the videos, I wonder whether there is enough description for a true WP newbie? What if someone needs more personal hand holding?

One of our biggest struggles is deciding how technical to get in the videos. There are users at all levels. Our videos do a pretty good job explaining the WordPress dashboard and the basic features.

If someone needs personal hand holding, we do offer WordPress consulting. More businesses are using the WordPress platform instead of static websites so if you’re someone starting out on WordPress, your own IT consultant can no doubt help you, too.

What are some of the blogs you’ve helped to design?

We have designed the blogs for Mercer, BuySellAds, Webs Inc., Milo, ContactMe, CrazyEgg, Flowtown, and many others.

What do you feel are the two or three most important issues that a new blogger should know about?

I think the single biggest mistake that beginning bloggers make is having the wrong setup. They start out with a blog that’s too complicated and with too many bells and whistles. Get yourself familiar with the platform. Then you can add special landing pages, pop-ups, etc. We can get a new blogger started with our Free WordPress Blog Setup.

Also, folks often don’t know the plugins to use. There are literally thousands of plugins. People add many that they never use which slows down a site’s loading time. And some plugins are not reliable. (Note, plugins add functionality to a blog such as blocking spam or optimizing SEO). So we’ve created a page, or blueprint  that lists all the tools and plugins that we recommend.

Next, many bloggers think it is about how frequently you write. I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. I would much rather write one really kick-ass post per week than write one low quality post per day.

No matter what you do, be consistent. If you write one post a week, then do that. If you write one post day, then do that. But make sure it’s a quality post.

Lastly, please do not automate your social media. I see a lot of new bloggers try to automate their social media by automatically publishing their posts on Twitter and Facebook. Take your time to engage with your audience.

Would you agree that even an experienced blogger needs occasional support from an IT consultant? I know that I do.

Of course, everyone needs an IT consultant at some point. Just because you are an experienced blogger does not mean that you are a server admin, a PHP developer, a graphic designer, or can master HTML code. We can help or find an IT consultant who excels at the WordPress platform.

Why do you think it’s important for a business to have a blog?

I think of blogs as the heart that pumps the blood to social media outlets. I often see corporations relying on press releases and mentions in other well-known publications. However that is a short-term plan that leaves your company vulnerable in the long term because you are always dependent on someone else’s audience. Having a blog allows you to attract new users and create your own loyal fan base.

Leave a Reply

Comments

  1. Jeannette- I write a blog once a week. I have been doing since April of 2013. I remember reading an article saying that it is important to have a social media manager. I had no idea what that was. Today blogging is becoming more time consuming, not writing the blog, but responding and commenting on other sites. I am thinking of someone doing that for me as my forte is selling. I feel that person could extend my relationships and also help grow my business. Today social media is where you will get the most boost for your company.

    • Arleen — keeping up with writing posts and responding to comments is time consuming, no doubt. But I consider a blog to be the centerpiece of a business’s social media strategy. It’s the home base from which you distribute your content to social networks. Social is very important, but I don’t like to depend on third parties to host my content. There are already rumors afloat that Google will be shutting down Google+. Poof. Content all gone. I hope that doesn’t happen.

  2. Hi Jeannette – thanks for posting this interview – there is a lot of information here that i can really use. I’ll be bookmarking this site and also checking out some of the video tutorials.
    Lenie

    • Lorraine — thanks for adding the WordPress.com help site. That’s good for bloggers who are not yet self-hosting their websites/blogs.

  3. Great interview, or re-interview Jeannette. I don’t remember this the first time around and I’ve read your blog for years now.

    I’m going to recommend this to my webmaster by sharing this post with her. She regularly warns me about too many plug-ins.

    You’re an inspiration Syed!

    • Pat — The content at the beginning of the post is new, including the video. There are a lot of new bloggers out there and I thought they would benefit from knowing about WPBeginner.

  4. Thanks for this little gem Jeannette. I was not aware of WPBeginner but have now looked around and can definitely use this resource. I think it is important that a blog or static webpage still be dynamic and change, modernize, with the times and trends. You need this to remain a destination people want to visit. Just don’t change for the sake of changing…there is a distinction.

    • Tim — I’m so glad to introduce you to WPBeginner. That name is a misnomer because even experienced bloggers can learn from it. You’re quite right, websites need to be dynamic and keep up with the times. Stay tuned for my refreshed wesite.

  5. This is very cool…thanks for the introduction. So right about the thousands of plug-ins…I find myself getting completely confused with this lately because my assumption was that if you are wp plug-in developer you must write good stuff. WRONG! I had a plug-in that crashed my site completely! And with every WP update there is new stuff.

    • Jacquie — Many developers don’t update their plugins for every WP update and, as happened to you, a plugin can play havoc with your site. That’s one main reason that my webmaster waits at least a couple of weeks to update to the newest version of WP. First, so the developers can catch up and WP can issues patches for the things that they got wrong.

  6. WPBeginner is a fantastic resource and have helped me with lots of issues. I’m happy to hear that they have made a success of their Freemium model. As to option monster, I feel hesitant to use a pop-up as I do find them irritating, but still, it would be nice to have more subscribers…

    • A.K. — Glad you’ve found WPBeginner to be helpful. It is a great service to the blogging community. I’ve bee on the fence about pop-ups, too. But if the pop-up only occurs after you’ve read the content and are about to leave, then it may not be so irritating.

  7. As a WP Beginner, I appreciate the content shared in this post. When I need help, I use the You tube videos that are available and they have been helpful. I very much agree with the point that quality content is worth more than quantity just for the sake of visibility

    • Michele — I agree, to, quality over quantity. I used to write two blog posts a week but felt I couldn’t keep up the quality so I I’ve been writing only once a week and my traffic is still increasing. I hope it’s because my posts are better!

  8. You must have received my brainwave! I’ve been wrestling with WordPress.org for about two months. I won, but someone’s got to overhaul the mat! Thanks for the helpful video and advice.

    • Deidre — from my perspective you never win with WordPress! Always something to master or something goes wrong. But that’s why I have a webmaster. Glad that you found the video helpful.

  9. Hi Jeannette,

    You have brought an amazing stuff to know about.

    You know when I started blogging and wanted to know more about WordPress then WPBeginner.com helped me a lot.

    You can know everything about WordPress there.

    All the codes to do with your WordPress blog can be found there. Glad to know more about it.

    Thanks for this post.

    Have a wonderful day.:)

    ~Ravi

    • Ravi — I’m glad WPBeginner helped you when you started blogging. they may have all the codes there but I don’t touch my code (except to insert images) and leave it to my webmaster who knows a lot more than I do about it!

  10. I have learned a lot from Syed’s OptinMonster youtube video.
    I feel the suggestions that are given are spot on.
    The point i like most is to emphasize on quality than quantity. This is the key to be successful.
    Punctuality also counts so we do not leave readers waiting.
    I am using blogspot and I was wondering if we can add OptinMonster to it?

    • Andleeb — I’m glad you found the post helpful and I agree that quality over quantity is the route to follow. I don’t know if blogspot will support OptinMonster. You might check the OptinMonster website or search Google for the answer.

  11. Honestly didn’t know WPBeginner existed, or have forgotten about it. Agree with what he says but am not sure I will add a pop-up since I am really tired of them. Even if they come up at the end:-)

    • Catarina — I know popups can be annoying. I’m still on the fence myself about whether to use them. But the fact is they do generate more subscribers.

  12. Hi Jeannette. Thanks for sharing this interview! I started my own blog through WordPress.org because I wanted to challenge myself in learning the more technical side of blogging. I’ve actually come across WPBeginner., and it has helped me so much in navigating my way through the site and learning the basics.

    • Tatia — you’re brave for taking on WordPress.org right away. I started with WordPress.com and shortly thereafter transitioned to WordPress.org because its added functionality. I’m glad you’ve found WPBeginner helpful,too.

  13. Hi Jeannette,

    That sure was an informative post 🙂

    Yes, I’ve heard of WPBeginner, but never really gone ahead and looked up the site, so this was a wonderful video and write up about Syed. It’s amazing to know about OptinMonster and how well it works. Personally speaking, I don’t like pop-ups one bit, they do put me off, but if they are used when visitors are leaving your site, it might just work for you, as Syed mentioned. I need to check this one out.

    Thanks for sharing it with us. Have a nice weekend 🙂

    • Harleena — Glad to introduce you to WPBeginner which is a terrific site for tutorials about WordPress.Might be a worth a try to install OptinMonster to see how it works for you.

  14. Hi Jeannette,

    Thanks for sharing this video… 🙂

    Yes I have also learned so many things from WPbeginner and still learning every day I have bookmarked it too…

    I have started using a Pop- up sign in form just 1 week back and it is too early tell anything on that…

    Regards..

    • Good luck, Karmaker, with the Pop-up.They must work other wise people wouldn’t use them. It’s like direct mail. People say why do they keep sending this junk when no one reads it. All you need is a small percentage who do, and a small percentage of those who see your popup will respond.

  15. This is, I’m sure, an excellent resource for bloggers of all kinds. I am stubborn, but I am just so bad at tech and even watching tutorials or videos to try and teach myself is mind-numbing and even like some foreign language to me. I hate manuals and lists of instructions. 🙂 I write and that’s what I am good at. 🙂 I started my blog last winter, but that was with a live-in IT guy on hand. I am on my own now and when I started to think about a second website/blog I decided I needed to bring in experts and go for the reinforcements. I guess I have learned a little just from doing, but I still barely know what “self-hosted” means and I am not ashamed to admit that terms such as “pop-ups” and “plug-ins” are unknown to me. It’s harder to visualize websites when you are unable to see them, but I try. Excellent post though.

    • Kerry — I’ve learned that it’s best to learn what you can — up to a point — and then bring in a webmaster when something gets beyond your technical ability. I didn’t do that at first and, wow, what a headache.

  16. Hi Jeannette,

    Whenever I’ve gone in search of an answer pertaining to something I needed to learn about WordPress, WPBeginner usually shows up in the search results. I have referred to their site a few times myself but for the most part the other information I’ve skimmed through I had already learned how to do.

    I think that sites like these are definitely great references for us to learn and I can see where that would really warrant Syed getting a lot more business for those things that people either don’t want to undertake themselves or need much more custom work done.

    Thanks for including the earlier interview too. I haven’t read that and I found it quite interesting. Always good to meet the people behind the blog.

    Enjoy your week and thanks again.

    ~Adrienne

    • Adrienne — No doubt WPBeginner is providing a real service to bloggers. Syed is filling a real need, especially for beginning bloggers. I wish I had known about his service when I first started blogging. I would have avoided a lot of pain!

    • Sue — you’re quite right. WPBeginner does provide a lot of information for bloggers, both newcomers and experienced. For example, I didn’t know about OptinMonster and the possibility of scheduling pop-ups as visitors are exiting your site.

  17. Hi Jeannette,

    I really enjoyed your article over on KeepUpWithTheWeb!

    Wow, this is so timely. Just yesterday I sent the wpbeginner.com link to someone in a WordPress LinkedIn group who was asking questions about performing some very basic tasks in WordPress. It’s one of my go to resources, too. 🙂

    Syed said something I hope he doesn’t mind if I repeat in my clients’ ears (with proper attribution, of course):

    However that is a short-term plan that leaves your company vulnerable in the long term because you are always dependent on someone else’s audience. Having a blog allows you to attract new users and create your own loyal fan base.

    He made a perfect case for why a business should have a blog.

    Excellent interview and resource, Jeannette.

    • Thanks, Vernessa. I totally agree that every business should have a blog and I’ve written about tit. A blog is your home base where you can express your opinions freely and build your authority. From your blog, you can distribute content to your social media networks. You also can begin to have conversations with your visitors. You own your blog whereas you’re subject to the rules of the social networks and, as we know, they like to change the rules, i.e., Facebook which chooses what it considers the most relevant content to post in your stream. They own your content, not you.

  18. I’m still on the fence about popups myself. On the one hand, you can’t deny the figures because it does increase subscribers. On the other hand, and from the perspective of a visitor, it is incredibly annoying. I think OptinMonster is the lesser of all evils because the popups only appear upon exit. I love Syed’s stuff because they always offer so much value, and WPBeginner is no different.

    • If you’re selling a tangible product using a pop-up is certainly worth a try. I think people are more used to them on product-related sites, too.