Marketing WordPress as Free Software

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There’s lots of WordPress Marketing on the web with premium web design themes for sale, plugins that automate web marketing with SEO, social media, and opt-in popups, even developers claiming to be WordPress “Certified” or “gurus.” But what about marketing WordPress itself? Was there some Super Bowl ad with our Wapuu mascot weirding out bro’s like the PuppyMonkeyBaby? Let’s hope that never happens.

Two wings of WordPress Marketing:

  • Automattic has web & TV campaigns for WordPress.com
  • WordPress Marketing team maintains resources for WordPress.org

Here we have the classic WordPress.COM and WordPress.ORG duo that ecompasses the nature of the WordPress free software system. This twosome drives the project and sometimes it drives us crazy—only because it instills wide-eyed confusion trying to explain these companion entities to the rest of the world. Simple enough: get a free blog at .COM or get free software and help at .ORG. However, free software makes no sense to the average person, and too many writers, marketers, and designers don’t much care how the InterWebs actually operate.

They were standing under a tree, each with an arm round the other's neck, and Alice knew which was which in a moment, because one of them had 'DUM' embroidered on his collar, and the other 'DEE.' —Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, 1872,
They were standing under a tree, each with an arm round the other’s neck, and Alice knew which was which in a moment, because one of them had ‘DUM’ embroidered on his collar, and the other ‘DEE.’ —Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, 1872.

The WordPress.com approach is to push brand awareness with TV commercials and then prospects will be more likely to click through on popup web ads for a free WordPress blog. From there it’s a freemium business model that ramps up to a $25 monthly business plan or even up to a WordPress.com VIP account along with CNN, TIME, and even Microsoft Studios. All managed by one private company: Automattic.

WordPress.org on the other hand is the offramp for users who want to do more with full website design and development beyond the limits of .COM. Moreover, .ORG is the upramp to a geek mothership where a vast global community of volunteer coders and other contributors create and manage the free software project itself, apart from the business side of Automattic. WordPress.org hosts an array of teams performing incredible work with everything from support forums to reviewing the more than 50,000 free plugins for proper coding and security to translating the software into 169 languages. Somehow this all happens brilliantly with an egalitarian esprit de corps chartered by the WordPress Foundation.

WordPress

How do we Market WordPress itself?

The WordPress Marketing team at WordPress.org is working to provide materials to ”help people market WordPress as open source software and the WordPress community.” There will be free resources for community outreach and startup marketing collateral with Fact Sheets, FAQs, Case Studies, Testimonial Videos, and other information on the features, benefits, and provided value of WordPress.

We have little if anything to sell. The WordPress community sponsors over a thousand free Meetups all around the world with members approaching a half million. We offer local conferences for about $20 per day for attendees, and 2016 brought tens of thousands of people to 115 WordCamps in 41 countries. If you go to a WordCamp, you’ll consume more than twenty bucks worth of food, drink, and swag in addition to all the talks and training. You’ll come for the free software, but you’ll stay for community benefits.

Market Share

Market share matters, especially for those who are launching startups and building operations to profit from their work with WordPress. We now run more than 28% of the web and hold a firm 59% market share in the CMS industry. WordPress is a burgeoning multi-billion-dollar market that shows no signs of slowing down. But unlike commercial software, it operates with a gift economy model to grease the wheels of an underlying ecosystem within the larger web industry, and the marketplace builds on top of that framework.

We don’t compete, we proliferate. You won’t find WordPress in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, though the commercial WordPress.com company Automattic ranks in the Visionary quad. That’s a far cry from Leaders like Adobe as a traditional vendor or even Acquia, the commercial company behind Drupal that is an open source CMS competing with WordPress. Still, “Gartner has seen a marked increase in interest in Automattic’s WordPress.com VIP offering… All indications suggest that this trend will continue.”

Marketing WordPress as Free Software is more about the Share than the Market for the teams at WordPress.org. People have built their lives and reputations and successful businesses on WordPress, and it’s now possible for anyone anywhere in the world to make that gambit. We’re sharing the software, we’re sharing how we work together on the project, and we’re changing how business gets done on the web.

2015 WordCamp US | WordPress Community Summit, Photo by Kari Leigh Marucchi & Sheri Bigelow, Some Rights Reserved.
2015 WordCamp US | WordPress Community Summit, Photo by Kari Leigh Marucchi & Sheri Bigelow, Some Rights Reserved.

Help us Market WordPress

The WordPress Marketing team is collecting Case Studies and running a WordPress Usage Survey. Tell us how you use WordPress and why that matters. And, we’ll get back to you with the results.

☑ Take the WordPress Usage Survey


For more information contact @Skarjune on Twitter or WordPress Slack

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