Today is the beginning of the first in a series of interviews I hope to host with top web personalities, people who have made some kind of success online and who have something valuable to share with us about the web.
We will be speaking to Small Potato of WPDesigner.com, professional blogger and wordpress theme guru. Well at least he’s my Guru for now. SP runs a blog which focusses on the development of wordpress themes and all things wordpress in general. He offers a range of free wordpress themes which he has developed in a very short period of time and gives advice to other theme developers and wordpress users on how to make the most of wordpress.
Good day Small Potato and welcome to nomad-one, my humble beginnings of a blog. Visiting your website, wpdesigner.com has become somewhat of a fixture on my daily to do list and is now also one of my RSS feeds I regularly keep my eye on. It seems that you’ve managed to achieve quite a bit of success in the last few months in increasing the size of your readership and subscriber base on your blog. I’m particularly impressed by what seems to be a very clear strategy you are implementing in achieving this growth.
So lets get to it then!
When did you first start developing themes for wordpress?
I think it was back in 2005. I was busy designing themes for my own blogs. I wrote for multiple blogs back then.
Why do you call yourself Small Potato? I must say the name has grown on me.
The name Small Potato stems from old Chinese triad movies :). It’s doesn’t necessarily represent who I am as a person. No one particular name can do that. However, it does give you the feeling that I don’t take myself too seriously and that’s what I want out of the Small Potato moniker.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
As far back as I can think, I’ve always been interested in web design, specifically creating flexible designs. It’s just a hobby that turned into something meaningful.
What influenced you to get into developing themes for wordpress?
I would have to say the lack of high quality WordPress themes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to ring my own bell here. I think quality lies in details, time, and effort, which is something anyone can put forth. It doesn’t take exceptional talent to create a high quality WordPress theme.
What are the greatest challenges you experience on a daily basis?
Sitting down everyday to produce something unique is challenging, especially when you have hundreds and hundreds of people to look after because they need to be able to easily use your product, which in my case is a free WordPress theme.
What in your mind are the ingredients of a good theme?
That answer depends on whether you’re creating a custom WordPress theme for one person or creating a free theme for potentially thousands of people.
For a free WordPress theme, it needs to be flexible and unique, but it needs to be generic enough that bloggers can adapt it for their own blogs.That balance is what WordPress theme designers will continue to struggle with as they try to find success within the free WordPress themes niche.
Like everything else, the fundamentals are important. That means efficient codes, xhtml and css-wise, and a reasonable overall size of the codes.
The first important detail is cross-browser compatibility. I cannot stress that enough.
Furthermore, for example, you should design around ads because you never know whether you’re theme users are going to monetize their blogs. If they can’t fit a banner into your small little sidebar, they’re probably not going to use your theme.
What would you term to be a professional blogger?
Someone that gets paid. Hahaha. I have no idea. What is a professional designer?
What does the future look like for wordpress and blogging in general?
For blogging in general, my guest is more multi-author blogs that are not branded with any one author’s name or image.
In the future, blogs like John Chow and Problogger by Darren Rowse is going to be more rare.
What would you say are the main benefits of a blog over a regular cms based site? Basically, what has made blogging take off like it has over the past few years? The size of it. Blogging platforms are generally smaller, easier to install, and easier to manage than a CMS packed with many feaures.
I think blogging platforms and full CMS (content management systems) can be interchangeable at this point. Especially in the case of WordPress, WordPress theme users are moving away from the traditional blog look, which ends up looking like… I guess you can say the CMS look. Although, I don’t know what that looks like.
The â€œCMS lookâ€ is just the easiest way for me to phrase it.
Personally, it doesn’t feel like CMS(s) and blogging platforms have played a big roll in the growth of blogging at all. Blogging has always been pretty easy to start and there have been many different tools available for everyone to start blogging.
Have you tried any other blogging platforms? Why wordpress?
Yes, I’ve tried other management systems before. I’ve tried b2, which was like the root of WordPress? I think, I’m not sure.I’ve tried Drupal, Mambo, PHPNews, PHPNuke, and etcetera. Basically almost everything in the HotScripts.com directory, I’ve tried it.
Whether it’s a full-blown CMS or simply a blogging platform. I was looking for a publising platform with an easy template system and that’s what WordPress did for me and continues to do for millions of bloggers.
Do you believe that a blog can suffice the web needs of most if not all companies and organisations?
For companies and organizations, I think blogging is a way to establish a closer relationship with clients and everyone involved in the company. Beyond that relationship, I don’t think a blog can satisfy most companies development needs.
What if any is the most important point bloggers should focus on to improve their blogs effectiveness?
I have no idea.
Do you think its possible to successfully run a portal type website off blogging software?
Yes it is possible. I have to bring up WordPress again because of its wide selection of available open source plugins that anyone can modify to run their desired type of portal website.
What do you see could be the next big development in the blogosphere?
This goes back to my guess about more multi-author blogs. I’m assuming that distinguished bloggers like Michael Arrington and Perez Hilton will spread their wings to build network after network of multi-author blogs. You also have to consider companies that you haven’t heard about, trying to do the same thing without an established blog before-hand.
Take 459 Press for example. Within a short amount of time, I think they hired hundreds of bloggers and started hundreds of blogs. Time will tell if that approach will pay off. But for sure, others will imitate it.
If any, where do you see people falling short in fully understanding the power of blogging? I mean this for those who are already sold on the concept of blogging.
I don’t know. I think people that are already sold on the concept of blogging knows what’s possible. The downfall might be the fact that many new bloggers underestimate the amount of work, patience, and effort it takes to run a blog.
JohnChow.com is a perfect example. People get hyped up by reading about his success in blogging and runs out to start a blog because they believe they can duplicate that success.
It’s not that easy and JohnChow.com is an exception.
Do you think a blog has the power to change society, the world?
No. I think influential tools and people can try to change the world, but what matters most is good ideas. If you have a great idea, it doesn’t matter if you’re blogging it out to the world. It’s going to spread.
Do you have any big plans for your own blogs development?
Yup. But, it’s not complicated. My goal is to increase traffic and get into Alexa’s top 500 for bragging rights hahaha. After that, we’ll see.
Without giving away too much about your own strategy for success, could you give us a few strategic tips on how we can develop our own sites further.
Development-wise, there are many concerns, but I can’t think of any specific tip that are more important than others.But as for keeping you interested in blogging and driving more traffic to your start-up blog, I can offer one tip. Create a tool related to your blog’s topic that people can download, use, and share, similar to my WordPress themes.
It doesn’t have to be complicated and the word â€œtoolâ€ doesn’t necessarily require coding.
I’m honoured to have had this opportunity to spend a few moments with you and get an insight into your thoughts and ideas on wordpress & blogging. Thanks a stack for visiting me at nomad-one and I look forward to hearing alot more from you in future, maybe once you’ve reached that Alexa ranking you’re going for.