Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Each episode features guests from around the community and discussions of the largest issues facing WordPress developers. The following is a transcription of the original recording.
Powered by RedCircle
Doc Pop: You’re listening to Press This, a WordPress community podcast on WMR. Each week, we spotlight members of the WordPress community. I’m your host, Doc Pop, I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine and my contributions over on Torquemag.io Where you can also find transcribed versions of these conversations, so check that out. You can subscribe to Press This on RedCircle, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcasting app. You can also download the episodes directly from WMR.fm.
Now, podcasts are amazing because they’re just an RSS feed. They are something you can subscribe to and interact with from pretty much any tool.
I like Overcast a lot. If for some reason I didn’t like Overcast, I could switch over to Apple Podcasts or all sorts of different ways to be able to listen to stuff, including even on the web. This week, a bunch of Substackers have been leaving Substack in droves due to moderation policies over at Substack.
Now Substack is a newsletter platform that also has monetization and all sorts of sharing and great tools in there. It kind of helped kickstart a new wave of newsletters, but it’s just another reminder that sometimes, when platforms own your content, sometimes you’re stuck on them or you have to make these difficult decisions. Is it time to leave Substack due to moderation issues? Is it time to stop using Facebook? And this isn’t even just over moderation issues. This goes back to Instagram changing an algorithm and all of a sudden photos are not prioritized and it’s all about video.
Or YouTube changing how they, what types of videos they like. Creators are constantly dealing with this and marketers are oftentimes, kind of at the same whims here too. We make our livings off of sharing podcasts or content on YouTube, and every now and then a big change like this, it makes it where, Oh man, am I going to have to leave this platform? What’s going to happen?
Well, this is a really interesting time to have this conversation because Seth Goldstein just published a great article called, For Crying Out Loud, Own Your Own Content! on his Marketing Junto newsletter, and Seth is going through a lot of the same stuff that I just talked about, so we can get to that later. Seth is a familiar voice in the WordPress podcasting scene, and he’s also a digital marketing agency owner with over 15 years of experience, as well as the host of the Entrepreneur’s Enigma podcast.
Seth, how are you doing today?
Seth Goldstein: How’s it going Doc? What’s up, Doc? That’s cool.
DP: It’s going well, man. I’m really glad to have you on here. We’ve bumped into each other at a few WordCamps over the years, and we’ve never had a chance to really have a nice long conversation. Let’s kick this off. I just want to know how did you get into WordPress?
SG: WordPress. How did I get into it? That’s a very good question. I think it was 2010. I was hard coding websites. I was getting sick and tired of having to edit them, like finding a period in the HTML copy. WordPress had been around for, at that point, I think, four or five years, and I was like, let me figure this sucker out.
And I’m like, I jumped in and just kind of fell in love with it, fell in love with the community. I think that’s one thing that WordPress has that other CMSs don’t have. I mean, Drupal has a good community as well, but WordPress is a very strong and also very opinionated…as anyone who follows you know, the craziness that’s going on in WordPress, there’s a very vibrant community around the software, which you don’t often find around open-source software. I don’t feel as much as we do in WordPress. So, and I’ve been doing it since 2010, just doing the websites in WordPress, and it’s been great.
DP: I hadn’t really thought about the other, I mean, I don’t have a lot of experience in open-source coding, for instance. I do have experience with other open-source CMSs and other tools, audio tools, and things like that. But yeah, you’re right about the WordPress—we do seem to be very passionate about what we do, and I’m trying to think if that comes to the fact that WordPress also has like a big emphasis on meetups in social kind of things where, you know, none of the audio tools that I have, maybe they’re not as big or whatever, but they don’t have like open source conferences or meetups necessarily around them.
That is kind of an interesting thing I never thought about before.
SG: And then there’s also communities off the community, like Post Status and WP Minute. All these other sub communities based off the main community and I mean, for better or worse, poor Matt Mullenweg, like the co-founder and CEO of Automattic and the project, he can’t catch a break.
DP: So, I want to talk about this this post that you wrote on your newsletter, the post is called, “For Crying Out Loud, Own Your Own Content,” and it was written in your Marketing Junto newsletter. Can you tell us about what you were writing about here? Why should people own their own content?
SG: Well, ironically, it was actually written when it was over at Substack. The Marketing Junto was over at Substack. It’s now on WordPress using Newsletter Glue and hobbled together, and all that stuff, which is a way it should have been in the first place. But I am a very big proponent of, yeah, use social media. Absolutely use LinkedIn, use Facebook, use Instagram, use, oh, maybe not, don’t use Twitter anymore.
To each their own, but like use Mastodon even, but you have to know for everything other than Mastodon, in most cases, it’s rented media. You’re putting your stuff out there and your account can be turned off any second, for any reason whatsoever, or for no good reason whatsoever, which is what prompted me to write this article. I was booted off of LinkedIn because I was trying to make it more secure and get two factor authentication set up, and they thought I was a spammer, so for 48 hours I didn’t have a LinkedIn account, which is kind of upsetting because I have, 15,000 contacts, 5,000 followers on LinkedIn because I’m pretty prolific over there.
And getting through their support, I actually had to go to X to contact LinkedIn support to say, “Hey guys, that was me mucking around and getting stuff set up to try and protect you guys.” So when in doubt, you always want to have your content on a WordPress blog, a Ghost blog for that matter, whatever blog you want, that you have complete control over.
DP: This is interesting because we kind of start off talking about like decisions that platforms make when they seem to switch or they seem to do something that makes it harder for me to make money using it. Like, my customers are going to be angry if I’m still using that platform or whatever.
But the thing you mentioned is also just another common example. You see artists on Instagram that build up massive followings. Maybe their account got hacked or maybe somebody reported their account is hacked and it didn’t actually get hacked. But they still lost access to it, right? And they have to start over.
These are all common reminders that it’s not just some terrible decision or some pivot or something the CEO says. Sometimes it’s just as easy as just trying to turn on two factor authentication and it just wrecks everything, which it shouldn’t.
SG: It’s the computers. I mean, honestly, I’m sure I didn’t get flagged by a human. I’m sure I got flagged by one of their algorithms that was watching for nefarious people trying to take over accounts. Every social media platform has to deal with this craziness, but it was crazy.
DP: And so this is a reminder of why we need to own our own content. And can you tell us what you mean? Like when we’re talking about content, what sort of content should we be owning and how should we own it?
SG: Oh, yeah, for example, like Marketing Junto now is over on a WordPress install on WP Engine. It is hosted over there and the reason why I decided to move off of Substack, and we’ll get into this I’m sure a little bit later, is their content moderation policy, I didn’t like where they were going down that path, and I realized even though it’s data portable, and I could, I own my content at Substack, they, still being affiliated with that platform was painful.
And I didn’t want to be affiliated with them anymore. And I had to move my stuff to WordPress, which is great. And it was a smart move on my part, in my opinion. But ultimately, if you’re going to put your stuff on LinkedIn, put it first on your own blog. Like I every Marketing Junto I put out the monologue.
It’s like the first part of it, then there’s links. I put the monologue out on LinkedIn as an article as well, but on their newsletter platform and say, “Hey, if you want to read the rest of it, go over to Marketing Junto and find that.” But I still have the main content where I control it, which is kind of very important.
DP: And I definitely kind of feel this this list in my mind of like, put it here first and then if I have time, put it here. So if like, if people are still sharing on Twitter or something like it, just don’t use that as your first thing. Go put it on your blog first, put it on Mastodon or whatever. Like, if you still want to share it on Twitter, you can, but that shouldn’t be your priority. But it sounds like what you’re saying is you’re actually maybe going a step further and putting it on your own platform first and then sharing a link with a teaser to it, which is kind of the back to the old school way of how we used to share content, right?
Like I wrote a post, go read it. But are you, is there a different way of kind of making that work in this era now where people are used to consuming on social media?
SG: I mean, there’s ways to do it. I know that—I forget the guy’s name, Pfeiffer or something, his last name, over at Automattic. He made an ActivityPub plugin, every time you write a blog post on your WordPress blog, it gets federated with the fediverse, which is fantastic. And so I do that on sethgoldstein.me, my little personal blog, and it’s nice to be able to have the blog go there and then people can subscribe to my blog through the fediverse.
Great idea. But I really feel it’s very important that you do it the old school way, just ’cause you never know when you’re gonna be booted. And back up your stuff too, like, when it says, hey, you can download your archive. I’d say set up a reminder in your calendar and once a month or once every other month download all your images so you at least have your content.
DP: Let’s take this as a quick break. And when we come back, we’re going to start talking about the tools that we can use to be able to own our newsletters or use the fediverse to connect to things. So when we come back, we’re going to talk about those tools. We are chatting with Seth Goldstein about owning your own content.
We’ll be back after the short break.
Welcome back to Press This, the WordPress Community Podcast. Today, we’re talking about “For Crying Out Loud, Own Your Own Content,” a wonderful post by Seth Goldstein on Marketing Junto newsletter. And we have talked about why you want to own your own content and, the difficult decisions you have to make if your content is locked on another platform.
I want to talk a little bit about the tools because, Seth, you were using Substack when you wrote this post and you had no idea that probably you were about to be leaving Substack. It’s just a reminder of how chaotic these things can be and how quick things can happen. But how easy was it to move your subscribers? And did you have like paid subscribers and things like that? I just want to know about thatmigration process from Substack.
SG: Yeah, it wasn’t as easy as you would think. I mean, the paid subscribers, I just decided right then, you have to turn off your paid subscribers, they all get a refund for the remainder of their subscriptions. Which is a little painful, a little bad for the books, but not terrible.
And then you move over, then there’s a plugin on WordPress that’s like a month old. So, it has one review and it’s a negative review saying it didn’t work from like the first day it was released. So, you kind of have to take a risk. Say, all right, I’m gonna try this plugin and see if it works. What it does is it ends up sucking in your Substack articles.
The thing it doesn’t do is that it hyperlinks back to Substack all the images. So if you have a very old newsletter on Substack and you want those images, you gotta go back there, manually put them back in. So I made a choice of like the first 10, 15 of them, whatever look good on the front page of Marketing Junto, I would have the featured image show up, and I would download them and re upload them, and it took me like 10 minutes to do them manually. It wasn’t too hard to do.
But for things like Instagram, for example there’s tools like ForStore, “4storgram” Doc, I’ll give you the link to it so you can put it in the show notes cause it, I can’t spell that, but what it does is that you log into your Instagram account and it sucks down all your Instagram posts. So that backs stuff up on your hard drives. That’s really good. That’s another tool you can use for that. But ultimately getting off something like Substack, you have to find an exporter plugin. And luckily WordPress is very open, thank God, and you can suck it in that way. And it worked pretty well.
DP: And of course you are saying already that when you’re writing posts that you’re sharing on LinkedIn or whatever, you’re already trying to post them from the start on WordPress. So you’ve, already been owning the content there. And what we’re talking about now is just the difficulties of specifically exporting from Substack. You chose to import everything over to WordPress probably because you already had a WordPress blog. Is there a reason that you didn’t go with—I see a lot of writers going from Substack to Ghost, which is another open source CMS.
SG: I actually moved from Ghost to Substack originally, because I was like, let me use Ghost. Let me just try out a third party, another open source platform and try it out. I loved Ghost. But I was also paying for the Ghost Pro account, which is kind of their managed hosting account, which is fine. It was like $300 a year to do that. And I liked it, but I was like, you know what, let me try to do this on WordPress.
I already have server space. So that cost is already being eaten by the company. So why don’t I go in and try and do it cheaper this time and try and save some money? And so I was like, let me try and do it on WordPress. Cause I mean, I’m much more of a WordPress person. If something goes sideways with WordPress, I know where I have a community of resources, whereas they don’t have them as much with Ghost. I mean, they have great support. Don’t get me wrong. Ghost has great support, but it’s not as vibrant as WordPress. Like I can go into Post Status and say. I did X, here’s the error. Help. And even big name characters like Doc himself will pop on and say, well, try this.
And guess what? It gets fixed. I don’t have to wait 24 to 40 hours for a support ticket. I can just get the answer right away. So that was a big proponent for me to go to WordPress.
DP: And you’re using Newsletter Glue, Lesley Sim’s product. I know she’s been launching some new stuff kind of related to Newsletter Glue. Are you just using straight up Newsletter Glue to replace?
SG: I’m gonna move to Mailer Glue when she has it, when she launches that, I promised her I’d move to that, and beta test the crap out of it. So, I would use Marketing Junto as a way to do the—because I don’t need all the features of Newsletter Glue.
I mean, Newsletter Glue is an immense product, and I’m like, I need something real quick to get in there, and Lesley was nice enough to comp me for a few months, a subscription to Newsletter Glue, so that I could get things rock and rolling while Mailer Glue was coming out. What Mailer Glue is essentially, is her simpler functioning thing.
It still goes through, it’ll go through Mailgun or what’s the Twilio one, SendGrid. And it’ll work just like Newsletter Glue without as many features, which when you’re doing something like Substack newsletters, you don’t need welcome emails and this and that, and transactional emails, this and that.
You just need to send your email out. So I’m looking forward to moving to that. When that comes out, but in the meantime, I’m using Newsletter Glue, and thank you, Lesley, for helping me out.
DP: I’d love to talk to Lesley right now about, well, I guess when the next feature comes out.
SG: It’d be great to get her on there for that.
DP: So, we talked a little bit about the idea of exporting your content from places like Substack and during Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word, he gave An announcement about the Data Liberation Project, which is going to be about making it easier to export your content from anywhere, including from WordPress and bring it over to anywhere, especially WordPress, but like anywhere.
So, he pointed out that if you have a staging site or an old version of WordPress classic, and you need to go to the Gutenberg, being able to export that and import it is already kind of difficult. But I think the big target is folks might want to get off of Wix or, Squarespace or something, and they feel locked in.
There’s not that easy export button that there used to be like on Blogger. It had an export your files, export your site kind of thing. So that, that data liberation kind of feels like it’s very relevant again with what’s happening with Substack, but also about owning your content. Can you kind of talk about your thoughts on that?
SG: Yeah, I think WordPress has always been very liberating and allowing to keep things portable. They keep things to standards and able to do things like export your stuff from one blog to another and all that stuff. The fact that Matt Mullenweg is saying we need to get this across the board, I think it’s fantastic.
I don’t see Wix ever doing that because it’s a proprietary system. They say you can export your content, but you can’t export the look and feel. Whereas with WordPress and Ghost and all that, you can export the open-source platforms, you can export the look and feel as well. Now going from Ghost to WordPress, getting the look and feel together might be a little difficult now.
But if it, if everyone gets together and says, “Hey, we can kind of make the standard of going across,” that’d be really cool to see.
DP: Hopefully there’s a standardization that kind of comes across from all of this. Google, many years ago, I think in 2010, started doing Takeout is what they called it. And they just really,
SG: It’s awful.
DP: Oh, really?
SG: Oh, because it was, if you have as much, like a terabyte of data in Takeout, you have so many zip files and they say, oh, it’s easy to get your stuff out. Then they put things in with JSON files and oh it’s a disaster. It’s not good.
DP: Do you think that was an oversight on their part or do you think that they were trying to give the appearance of being transparent and free?
SG: They were being evil. Subtly evil. And as much as they say, the term used to be not, don’t be evil for Google, they’ve gotten rid of that term.
And I think sometimes they’re like, well, let’s give them their content, but let’s not make it easy for them to use. I mean, you’re still looking at your photos, they’re just not organized in a manner that makes any sense.
DP: Yeah. So, back to data liberation, and I guess what it means. It still sounds like the lesson here is while we hope to have tools that will allow you to take your content from anywhere, including like a Facebook page or something, right? We hope to have those tools, for now, marketers and any content creators should just be assuming that the best place to go is on their own site and then work out from there.
Start, start with a post on your site first and then share it on other platforms, right?
SG: Yeah, or for that matter, if you’re going to post stuff on Instagram, start with Google Sheets, do a content calendar, have your content in that sheet or in that document somehow, or that program you want to use where it shows you like the image and shows you the caption. And then move it to social media, but always keep it so you have a record of your stuff. Otherwise, try and replicate it later. It’s going to be a pain in the tuchus.
DP: If you are posting onto your own site, as Seth is saying, you should, how can you better send people there and how can you track the progress on that? So when we come back, we’re going to get into that. Stay tuned for more.
DP: Welcome back to Press This, the WordPress community podcast. Today, we’re talking to Seth Goldstein about owning your own content. And, I teased right before this break about how you track, conversions on things like blog posts from LinkedIn and things like that.
Can you kind of tell us a little bit about what sort of tracking tools do you use for tracking URLs and sharing URLs?
SG: Oh, yes. So there’s open source projects. It was a very snarky organizer, and I’m not talking about Matt Mullenweg here, another snarky organizer named, his name’s Oz, which has kind of been kind of funny, like the Wizard of Oz, and he was snarky too. But Oz has something called Y O U R L S, YOURLS, and it’s open source. You throw it on a PHP server and it shrinks your URLs. It gives you some data points on it that allow you to find out where people are coming from, the countries, the cities, and it’s a good little small analytics package based on the URL shortener. And that’s free to use. You just have to get a short domain name, put it up on a, SiteGround or WP Engine or wherever.
I mean, generally, I would say put this on something that, doesn’t need to be only WordPress. That’s what I used to say, SiteGround because you can get a shared host, cheap shared host somewhere and put this up there. And then what I do is I put my, my, my podcasts go through this, my newsletters go through this, shrink the URL and send it out there.
You can also use this is shortener for plugins for WordPress too, that this will shrink it to a shorter URL and WordPress for you to use as well. So.
DP: is that PrettyLinks?
SG: PrettyLinks is one of them and there’s another one that’s short something or other. PrettyLinks is a shortener. So if you already have a short URL for let’s say it’s DocPop.com and that’s short enough as it is, so you have DocPop. com slash long blog title. You can do the PrettyLinks, click on that and it gives you a short one that is the same thing as a 301 redirect to the main one and that can track stuff as well, which is kind of handy.
DP: DocPop.com is a chiropractor in Florida. I’ve been waiting. I’ve, yeah, I’ve been waiting 20 years to try to get that domain and I was super bummed when his son took over the business. I think I’ve got a long wait before I get DocPop.com. I’ve got DocPop.org because I make, hardly any money. So I’m nonprofit. So, uh. URLS.org
SG: Y O U R L S.org
DP: You know, that is pretty interesting that you’re hosting it. Cause it didn’t even, it didn’t even occur to me that if it’s open source and fully under your control, then obviously you’re not going to use Bitly, right? You have to host it though.
So, this is an interesting way. And then you can set up your, you can set up any domain you want. Do you have like a second domain that’s like super shorter? Or do you just,
SG: gmwd.us. Which is essentially Goldstein Media web design. Clever, huh? But I also, I’ve had a bunch of out there, so I have socl.bz, like socialbiz.
I tend to collect short domain names and then hooking up URL shorteners to them for fun.
DP: You can share with us some of those short URLs now, or just tell us where you would like to send them to learn more information.
SG: Best place to find me is at sethgoldstein.id. As in like identification, SethGoldstein.id has links. It’s kind of my link tree without being a link tree. And I actually used, it’s kind of a closed service, but whatever, you can export all your data from it. It’s Card.co. Yeah, literally I needed a one page real fast and SethGoldstein.id. It goes there, you can find me on Alignable, you can find me everywhere, all from that site.
DP: And I do want to take a second to say, I think we’re past the era of go find me on this one social media site. Like the idea of like link trees or like a landing page that also has maybe your bio and blogs. But. I think really importantly, just a place that you’re like, Oh, if you want to find my GitHub or if you want to find my YouTube or literally, Instagram, Reddit, Mastodon, all of those are on my link tree.
And I have one on docpop.org/about, and I set that
SG: I saw your idea. It’s on set goldstein.me. You can go there too. And all my links are there. I stole that idea, so thank you.
DP: I just used the the social block to do mine? Did you use the same tool?
SG: I followed your tutorial buddy. I saw it. I shared it on the Mastodon and I stole your idea.
DP: Neato. Well, Seth thanks so much for joining us today. Before, before we wrap up with you, do you have any teasers for like a newsletter post that you’re excited about that people definitely should subscribe for?
SG: Well, definitely check out Marketing Junto. I talked a little bit, the last issue that came out last week was about the whole Nazis on Substack thing.
This one’s about podcasts and YouTube. So that should be interesting.
DP: Oh yeah. Yeah. Cause they’re getting into the podcast space and I don’t know if I need to be there and I guess I’m gonna have to, I’m gonna have to wait for that issue to come out so I can find out if I need to worry about switching to it or if I can ignore it.
SG: It’s interesting. It’s an interesting take on it. I think it’s worthwhile to be there. It’s worthwhile to be everywhere.DP: Well, Seth, thank you so much for your time today. And thanks to the folks for listening to Press This, a WordPress Community Podcast on WMR. You can follow our adventures on the TorqueMag.io. That’s TorqueMag.io. You can subscribe to Press This on RedCircle, iTunes, Spotify, or download it directly from WMR.fm. I’m your host, Dr. Popular. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and I love spotlighting members of that community each and every week on Press This.