WPMU.org Interviews Lawrence Krubner – Founder of WP Questions
I recently had the opportunity to interview Lawrence Krubner, the founder of WP Questions, a unique question and answer site dedicated to providing WordPress support. Read on to find out how the WP Questions team is innovating with WordPress.
Tell us a little bit about how WP Questions works and when a WordPress user might look to your site for help.
The site is for people facing an emergency. If a person has plenty of free time, then they can take advantage of the awesome abundance of free forums that exist on the web. But when a person is facing a tight deadline, and they run into a problem, it might be their best option to spend $20 to get a good answer fast. I explain the basics of the site in this 10 minute video:
What gave you the idea for WP Questions and how do you see it fitting into the WordPress community?
The inspiration for the site:
a.) Every time I asked a question on a free forum and got no answer.
b.) Every time I asked a question on a free forum and got “RTFM!!!” as a reply. That is, every time I got a response that was rude.
c.) Every time I asked a question on a free forum and got an answer to a different question, because the person reading my question read it only in a cursory manner, without devoting much time to it.
How have the job posts been working out on the site?
They’ve been very popular so far. We only introduced them a month ago, but since then we’ve had about 1 job post a day.
How does the WP Questions Affiliate program work?
a.) You sign up.
b.) You get a unique URL where people can sign up.
c.) The people who sign up at your unique URL become “your” members.
d.) Whenever one of your members asks a question, you get 5% of the prize, so if they ask a question with a prize of $10, you get 50 cents.
e.) You can track all of your members, and what they asked, and how much you have earned, from you affiliate dashboard.
I noticed your blog post on the Google searches that bring people to WP Questions. Many of the searches are for specific WordPress functions and template tags. What is your SEO strategy for capturing this market or is it simply coincidental?
Pure coincidence. Almost by accident, we have created one of the most interesting online magazines devoted to WordPress. Google saw our pages were rich in WordPress keywords, saw that people were linking to us, and started sending us a fair amount of traffic.
From your experience with WP Questions, what do you think is important for a business offering professional WordPress support?
To either have the information they need, or to know where to get it. We were recently in negotiations with a non-profit that had $10,000 to switch their blogs over to WordPress, from MoveableType. Their main worry was budget overruns. I find this is common – especially with bigger, ambitious projects, clients are understandably worried that costs will get out of control. So you need to have a solid sense of exactly how much can be done simply, and how much will require custom programming, and how long that custom programming will take.
Tell us a little bit about your new Beta Program and what your plans are to expand your services.
For the last several months we have received several emails a week from people who ask “I love WP Questions and would like to set up a similar site, so are you willing to sell your software?” We’ve decided to offer the software as a hosted service (sort of like Basecamp or TypePad or Tumblr are hosted services). People can set up their sites for free – we take 2% of what their customers pay, but the owners of the sites do not have to pay anything up front out of pocket.
What advice do you have for an entrepreneur hoping to build a business around WordPress products or services?
Simply that it is a good time to get in, because the field is growing so fast. This next year will be the one when WordPress makes big inroads into the enterprise. I’ve been hired to help transition a corporation away from MoveableType, and I find this is a trend – a lot of people I talk to have had similar contracts recently. Whereas MoveableType had a big presence in the enterprise in the past, everyone now knows that MoveableType has no future, so the big corporations are all now looking to replace it. A few of those corporations are going to ExpressionEngine and other CMSs, but I think most are moving to WordPress.
Where do you see WP Questions a year from now?
A year from now we should have 10,000 websites signed up using our software. I think WPQuestions.com will point the way for a lot of the people building question-and-answer sites using our software. When we want to test new features, WPQuestions.com gives us a great place to experiment, and to see what works. The goal of WPQuestions.com is to ensure that people who need help with WordPress can get better information faster, while ensuring that the experts who post answers are fairly paid. I think we have failed to capture the full potential of this idea, so next year is a chance for us to experiment further and figure out better ways of achieving our goals.