Skip to main content
wordpress supportwordpress support services

#115 – Jamie Marsland on Turning Technical Know-How Into Popular Content

[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley.

Jukebox is a podcast, which is dedicated to all things WordPress. The people, the events, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case, turning technical know-how into popular content.

If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast player of choice, or by going to forward slash feed forward slash podcast. And you can copy that URL into most podcasts players.

If you have a topic that you’d like us to feature on the podcast, I’m keen to hear from you and hopefully get you, or your idea, featured on the show. Head to forward slash contact forward slash jukebox, and use the form there.

So on the podcast today, we have Jamie Marsland.

Jamie has a varied background in technical corporate leadership, and has been guiding Pootlepress for over a decade. Initially a training service, Pootlepress has become a product focused company known for its WordPress plugins. Jamie’s depth of experience in the industry is increasingly overshadowed by his visibility as a YouTuber, where, as you’ll hear, much of his attention is now focused.

In this episode, we’ll cover some new ground. We talk about a critical issue facing WordPress today, the fierce competition from platforms like Canva and Wix, and the marketing hurdles that WordPress must navigate to maintain its market share.

We also explore Jamie’s unconventional path to becoming a content creator, discussing how he went from teaching tennis to teaching tech, and how he’s leveraged YouTube to grow his audience and business. His perspective is that it’s important to make technical concepts accessible and easy to understand.

Making his content is a lot of work, most of which happens behind the scenes. We get into this a little more deeply, and Jamie shares his strategies for effective video creation, from planning to execution, along with his thoughts on sponsored content and its place in the YouTube ecosystem.

If you’re curious about the future of WordPress, content creation, or the dynamics of digital learning this episode is for you.

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can find all of the links in the show notes by heading to forward slash podcast, where you’ll find all the other episodes as well.

And so without further delay, I bring you Jamie Marsland.

I am joined on the podcast by Jamie Marsland. Hi Jamie.

[00:03:08] Jamie Marsland: Hey there. How are you?

[00:03:10] Nathan Wrigley: Very good. Thank you for joining me today. If you haven’t checked out what Jamie’s been doing, Jamie has had a really interesting career in the WordPress space. We’re going to talk about that. We’ll talk about his YouTube channel, and how he’s managed to grow that over the last couple of years. Before we do that Jamie, I wonder if you could introduce yourself, give us your quick WordPress bio.

[00:03:29] Jamie Marsland: So quick WordPress bio. I’ve been running this business, Pootlepress for 14 years. Prior to that though, I had a corporate career in technical, both public businesses and private businesses, running businesses. But always in publishing, and in software publishing. I always say that because people just see me as a YouTuber these days, so I want people to understand there’s a bit more background to it.

And then the last 14 years, I’ve been running Pootlepress. And we started off as a training business, and then we morphed into a product business. Built some plugins, which we still provide. And then over the last three years, I’ve been committing to creating content, primarily over YouTube.

[00:04:04] Nathan Wrigley: Tell us a little bit about Pootlepress. What were the bits and pieces that you got yourself involved in? And are you a coder? Do you write the code, or did you write the code yourself? Do any of those projects still have a life, or have they been shelved for now?

[00:04:16] Jamie Marsland: As I said, it started off as a training business, which was literally, I left my previous job. I’d introduced WordPress into that business, and we had a very expensive development team. We were running a different CMS, which nobody would’ve heard of, it was called Ektron. But it was about $5,000 per site, per year, so it was, you know, in terms of WordPress. But that was at the very low end of the CMS market. But in terms of WordPress, which is obviously free, it was much more expensive.

And I introduced WordPress into that business. I could sort of see the market was shaking out a bit. And I looked at the WordPress market from that job, and seeing what was going on. And there were people running training courses in WordPress, but they were charging £500 a day for a WordPress training course, and selling them out.

And I thought, that’s quite interesting. But they were going after the sort of corporate market. When I left that business, they gave me a chunk of money, and so I had some time. So I thought, well, I could start a WordPress training business. And so I took out a Google ad, and I launched a WordPress training course, because I knew WordPress really well, because I’d been using it personally for a long time.

And I pitched a course, I think it was £99, or something like that. And within half a day I got my first order. I thought, well that’s interesting, there’s a market here. And then I ended up running 2 courses a week, with about 15 people in, traveling around the country. I ran them in London, where I’m based in Chatham. Ended up in Scotland, also Wales.

So all around the country, running these face-to-face training courses, with people in a room, training people on WordPress. And there’s nothing quite like seeing face-to-face people using WordPress to understand, I’m going to talk about the product business in a minute, but understand some of the issues people have with WordPress, when you’re actually training them.

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and personally trained thousands of people now on WordPress, which is just an incredible experience to have, which you don’t actually realise until you’ve sort of gone through it.

And then, from that, we built some plugins, and we’re going back a while now. So we built some plugins around Woo, as they were, Woo Themes. And, yeah, those plugins are still going, and we still have customers, and they’re actively supported. And the plugins now we’re releasing are Gutenberg based, I guess you’d say. So block based plugins.

And we were there right at the start of that. So we have a free plugin called Caxton, which nobody understands, but it’s named after William Caxton. If you’re English, you probably know that. He was a, the equivalent of Gutenberg but English. And that was launched in Nashville, which Matt Mullenweg demoed actually, as part of his presentation of the launch of Gutenberg. So we were right there, right at the start of Gutenberg. So I’ve always understood that Gutenberg was going to be a big driver in the space.

[00:06:38] Nathan Wrigley: It sounds like there’s a common thread running through quite a bit of that, which is educator basically. Do you have a sort of traditional background in education, or is it just something you find yourself drawn towards and capable of doing?

[00:06:50] Jamie Marsland: Well, I was a tennis coach when I was 19 to 23, to help fund uni education, partly. So played a lot of tennis. And I loved coaching, I loved teaching. And looking back on that experience, that was like, okay, that’s quite an interesting thing. So I’m thinking of redoing my, they lapse tennis coaching qualifications, I’m thinking of retaking them, and going back to it at some point. Because I absolutely love teaching. You realise this as you go through this career, but I love the teaching bit of it, so yeah.

[00:07:18] Nathan Wrigley: Do you find there’s any, the same level of love for the online teaching? Because when you described your WordPress teaching, it sounded like you were in the room with the people. And so you obviously get that immediate feedback and, you know, it’s not done via an email saying, thank you, I enjoyed your course, or whatever. You’re actually seeing people’s faces light up and what have you.

But with the YouTube content, and all of the other bits and pieces, I just wonder if there’s any connection between your end users, your students, if you like. Do you get that same warm and fuzzy feeling?

[00:07:45] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, definitely is, because the videos on YouTube get tons of comments these days, and I get loads of personal emails, and it’s the same with teaching people in a room. You know, you teach people in a room and you literally, it sounds a bit overblown, but people do email you and say, this is, you know, I’ve built a business out of this teaching, thank you. And it’s changed the direction of my life.

And you definitely get that, it’s different on YouTube, but you definitely get that. Comments are fantastic, and the likes are fantastic as well. So yeah, I mean you do get that sense of fulfillment with it. And I think there’s, part of it is, tennis coaching is a really, you can teach people to play tennis properly very quickly. You see a lot of people, what I’m getting to is, I think there’s lots of ways to teach people well, which I think is a real interest of mine.

You know, how you can take a subject, and simplify it down to core elements, so they get the basics and start flying very quickly. With tennis, there’s like three things you can teach any beginner, to get them playing decent tennis within half an hour, no problem. But you see a lot of coaches will overcomplicate things and people won’t have the same improvement so quickly.

And I think that’s the real challenge in WordPress education as well. So I put a huge amount of thought into how I structure my videos in terms of, so people are going to be able to understand them, and do things more easily than just, this is this, this is this, this and this.

So in terms of my videos, huge amount goes into the preparation of planning how to lay them out, to try and get the best possible outcome for the end user. Whilst at the same time, with YouTube, you have to make them engaging enough that they’re going to click on the thing in the first place to watch it.

So there’s a lot. There’s kind of multidimensional, creating YouTube videos. You want to be educational, but if you just do a tutorial video, nobody’s going to potentially watch it, because it’s going to be boring as heck. So there’s multi-layers to doing YouTube education stuff.

[00:09:23] Nathan Wrigley: But you don’t have like a traditional, I don’t know, pedagogy. You haven’t got a, like a teacher training qualification, or anything like that? You’ve just learned over time the process of creating something that is what you wish to create. And obviously, now that you’ve got this huge uptick in your subscriber count on the YouTube channel, you’ve obviously hit on some formula which is working.

[00:09:40] Jamie Marsland: And I actually don’t think the traditional approach works on YouTube anyway. I don’t think you can take, you can try, but I don’t think if you take a traditional teaching approach, and stick it on YouTube, it’s not going to work. So I wouldn’t, you know, if I was putting a video on the Learn WordPress website, I wouldn’t put that same video on YouTube, because it’s a completely different context that people are consuming that information.

[00:10:00] Nathan Wrigley: So back in the day when you stumbled across WordPress in the business that you were working with, you probably had no intuition that it was going to work out quite so well, in terms of WordPress’s ascendancy in the CMS market. How do you feel about that?

We’re obviously at this pivotal point, where it feels that there’s maybe a little bit of slowdown in adoption. We keep talking about this number, this 43% of the internet. I can’t quite work out what that means, but it’s a big number. You know, it’s a giant proportion of the internet. Do you have any intuitions as to whether or not that’s going to keep going? Would it bother you in any way if it didn’t keep rising?

[00:10:33] Jamie Marsland: A few things there, one is, when I was just starting off in WordPress, I could see it was going to fly, because it was starting to gain momentum. But I had all the same, you know, my developers were .net developers that were working for me. They were object orientated focused. They looked at PHP as some sort of dirt in the road, and they thought WordPress was terrible. So they’re very sneering about it.

That has led a lot of the, I guess, teaching I do as well. You know, there’s a lot of, people will dismiss WordPress still, for not being, what I’m trying to say is, WordPress has never won out because it’s been the best CMS. It’s won out because of the ecosystem, and the other market drivers that were driving it. Like there were CMSs that had amazing workflows, editorial workflows, back in the day, and WordPress didn’t have any of that stuff.

But WordPress won out because of the huge ecosystem, and the fact it was open source, and all these other drivers that were driving it. So I could sort of see that it was going to work back then.

In terms of where we are now, it’s not so much the market size that’s important to me. There was a slide shared by Noel Tock, as part of his keynote at WordCamp Asia. It was a fascinating slide actually, and it talked about market share, which we know is about 43%, and leveling off a little bit.

But then he overlaid that slide with search interest. So he looked at how many people were searching. And actually had a really interesting Twitter dialogue with Alex Denning about this as well. And that was basically showing how it grew in 2014, and then now its dived down quite steeply over the last, I think four years, in terms of search interest. So people aren’t searching for it so much. And then he also overlaid that with number of sites that are being built, which has also gone down a lot.

Now that, for me, is probably the most important metric, yeah. So that has gone down significantly as well, from where we were at the peak. And then he also overlaid that with another metric, which was maturity of sector. So in terms of how many people are actually engaged in building WordPress sites, or producing WordPress products. And that was kind of still going up.

So what we’ve potentially got here is the confluence of a declining market, which we’re not seeing quite yet. This is the kind of worst case scenario, with over suppliers. So if that is the case, if we do start to see some of that over the next few years, that’s going to cause a lot of pain to people, because we’re going to have a declining market, in terms of number sites being built. But we’ve got lots and lots of suppliers, lots of product people in that sector. So essentially not enough business for everyone.

Who knows, that’s conjecture. But my spidey senses are telling me, this is possibly where we’re potentially at. And I think, if you look at the strategy, there’s a few other things that play into my mind for this as well. One is, I was at Cloudfest last week in Germany, and a lot of the hosting companies now are pitching towards, deliberately, strategically, pitching towards the agency developer market. That’s where they’re going. And there’s two reasons for that, potential reasons for that.

One is, that’s where people spend the most money. The second reason for that is, they’re seeing a contraction of the DIY market, which would be my guess as well. So they’re seeing their overall market go down, in terms of revenue, my guess. But they’re seeing everyone trying to go after the agency developer market. Everyone that I speak to.

I had a conversation with Wix this week, because I’ve had a demo of their product. They are deliberately going after the agency market as well. So I don’t think it’s just WordPress that are seeing this pinch at the moment, because I think there’s some recessional pressure on that stuff.

But I do think it’s potentially an issue for WordPress, that we’re, it’s a question of what is the canary in the mine? And I’m seeing some of those signals. So yeah, I’ve got some trepidation of where the market is going to head over the next few years.

[00:13:57] Nathan Wrigley: Can I plumb a little bit further into that, and ask you what the signals are, if you’re willing to share them? The signals that you’ve said that you were able to see. Just moments ago, you said that you had this, whatever the canary in the mine was. And you had a few little signals that you thought were illustrative of the general argument that you were making. Can you share those?

[00:14:13] Jamie Marsland: Well, it was just those really. It just the fact that I’m seeing all the hosting companies that I’m talking to, because I talk to a lot of hosting companies, and we’ll probably come on to talk about But everyone seems to have a strategy of going after the developer agency market.

Everyone I speak to, that’s their strategy. Which makes sense, but it’s kind of interesting that it seems like that’s the direction of travel right now. And I don’t have insider information, in terms of the numbers for hosting companies. That’s just my view from the outside.

[00:14:42] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, there’s been a lot of talk recently. Well, certainly over the last three or four years, from various different quarters, all about the sort of shattering of the community. And I think it was, maybe it was Joost, the person, as opposed to Yoast the company. Or maybe it was Marieke, I can’t remember.

But the idea that the community is sort of heading in two different directions. You’ve got this philanthropic side of the community, who pour lots and lots of their personal free time into the project, and wish it to grow in that way. And then you’ve got the other side, which is driven more by profit, and about how these two sides, in their estimation at least anyway, are getting further and further apart.

And so they’re having to shout across this void. And the void gets further and further, so that the shouting has to be done louder and louder. The takeaway from that, I guess is that, if you’ve got a community which isn’t working, those two sides are not working in tandem, that’s also a problem I think.

[00:15:30] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, absolutely. It was also interesting, because at Cloudfest, lots of hosting companies were there, because Joost was there actually. I was chatting to him and he was saying, actually one of the interesting things is that they need WordPress to succeed. If these like Wix, and Squarespace, and Shopify, if those guys start winning out, that’s going to affect the hosting company’s revenue as well. Because those are closed systems, that don’t host on their systems. There’s a lot at play in making WordPress work really, at the moment.

[00:15:54] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. He wrote a piece just the other day on the Post Status blog, all about how the hosting companies are, well, in many cases they’ve got their own onboarding system, and they’ve got their own page builder, or something adjacent to a page builder. And I think his central argument was, would it be a good idea if, rather than having these sort of rival system, so if you go with hosting company x, you’re tied in because you’ve bought into their package, and you understand their tooling and what have you. And if you go with hosting company y, you’re locked in over there.

And I think his central argument was, we need WordPress to succeed, not the proprietary bits and pieces within your own systems. And in order to do that, would it be a good idea to spend less on your proprietary things, and put that investment back into, I don’t know, Five for the Future or something.

[00:16:34] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, I think that’s a fair point. The onboarding of WordPress has been mooted a few times in the last few weeks as well. And it’s one of the big, when you train people, you realise there’s many hurdles of friction in terms of WordPress, which it’d be great to have solved, like domain names and hosting.

I mean, you go to a hosting page, and that’s the first hurdle. You’re like, you get the average person and. Well, you compare the experience of setting up a website on Canva, and setting up a website through any WordPress host. And Canva, it’s five minutes and they, my cats could do it frankly, it’s so easy. Whereas WordPress, you have pricing tables with all sorts of things in, which are like object cash and, oh, what was that? Do I need some of that?

There’s a world of difference in terms of the friction between WordPress and some of these no-code solutions out there. And I know historically, WordPress has always batted these things off. My worry is that might not last forever, I guess.

That’s probably where it needs to be. That’s the competition. I had this conversation with the head of Influencer Marketing at Wix. They’ve got 500 people in marketing at Wix. I think they’ve got 200 on the influencer, no, that can’t be right. But they’ve signed up about 400 influencers.

[00:17:37] Jamie Marsland: And I know we always talk about Wix, and the fact that they put huge amounts of money into marketing. But you compare that to WordPress, who historically have been development companies, with the odd marketing person appended on the side of it. And they’re really serious. They’re really serious, and they’ve got this, quite a cool product that’s aimed at agency market.

So I do think that the opposition is lining up their ducks really well at the moment. If you were doing a competitor analysis, you look at, you know, I think Canva is a competitor to the brochure market. I’ve been saying this for a long time.

They’ve got a website builder. If they want to, they can go after a lot of the brochure market, which is a lot of WordPress business. Wix, doing some really cool stuff with their Wix Studio stuff. It’s really slick. Obviously Shopify, going great guns. And then you compare this to WordPress at the moment. I worry how quickly WordPress can react.

Let’s say I was watching your WP Builds chat today, and you were saying, what happens if it goes down to 40 and then 35? Let’s say, that did happen. Is WordPress match fit to react to that? And my worry is, at the moment, we are not, because we haven’t had to be.

[00:18:43] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that’s a really interesting point, isn’t it? We literally haven’t had to be. It’s been growth, upon growth, upon growth, year on year. And obviously these rival platforms, Wix et al, they’ve obviously also had growth year, on year, on year. It hasn’t been of the same magnitude, but in terms of finance, and the bottom line, it has been.

And if they can employ a sophisticated marketing team, that can put adverts, you know, in the Super Bowl and things like that, then that’s going to be a very difficult hurdle to overcome. Because if people do stop Googling for WordPress, or it just, you know, the mind share just disappears, and whenever somebody thinks about a website, that little three letter word pops out of everybody’s mouth. Oh yeah, Wix, I’ve heard of that. That’s going to be hard to compete with. And I think you’re right, interesting.

[00:19:31] Jamie Marsland: If you compare brand searches, I mean, Canva is the big one. Canva completely dwarfs. You know, I think actually, if I was Wix, I’d be scared silly of Canva, frankly. I think Canva is such a behemoth in terms of it’s got, I think it’s got 165 million monthly users now. Generating cash, always been profitable, and people have grown up with it, people are using it. So, you know, my kids know how to build a website, because they’ve used Canva. And it’s the same interface, so there’s no learning curve. So, personally, I think Canva, if they wanted to, they could go and eat a lot of the Squarespace, and a lot of the Wix market, and a lot of the WordPress brochure market, if they wanted to.

Canva have got an event coming up. The Canva Create event, which is titled Changing Work, or something like that. So we’ll see if they, because they have a, like a one page website builder in Canva at the moment. Pretty slick. You can only build a one page website, so it’s very limited. If they extend that, then that’s going to be a really interesting thing to see.

[00:20:26] Nathan Wrigley: You clearly are fairly optimistic. Well, I say you are, obviously we’ve just had the conversation that we’ve just had. But, given the content that you are creating, I suppose there must be a part of you which is optimistic about WordPress’s future as well. Because your YouTube channel, and we will link to everything that we mention in the show notes, so you can check that out on the WP Tavern website. We’ll link to all of Jamie’s bits and pieces, properties and what have you.

But you’ve been creating a YouTube channel. I don’t know quite how far that goes back. But I think it’s fair to say that, at the moment, you’ve got lots of heads turning in your direction. The subscriber count is on a fairly rapid rise. So bravo, well done for that.

But the content, that I’ve seen at least anyway, is very much aligned with kind of Core WordPress. What can WordPress out the box do, without needing to bundle a bunch of plugins? So given that you are doing that, you must have some confidence in its capacity to challenge the likes of Wix and Squarespace, or maybe not.

[00:21:22] Jamie Marsland: I mean it’s miles ahead of those things at the moment. It is important to say that, in terms of how many people are using it, and market share. I was just talking about where I look at it from a, if we were starting today, where we’re at in terms of just the marketing.

I think WordPress is in a place where it needs to step up a gear, which it’s doing. And that’s partly why I’m optimistic about it. So, you know, my videos, a lot of them are like, I do some website recreations where I take a famous website, and I show you how to rebuild it using just Core WordPress.

So I’m hugely optimistic about it. It’s got some hurdles to get over. But the core, imagine if we didn’t have Gutenberg right now. Imagine where we’d be if we didn’t have Gutenberg. I know there’s lots of people that don’t like Gutenberg, but imagine that situation.

And actually also, interestingly, WordPress has doubled, and I’m not saying this is down to Gutenberg, but it’s doubled its market share since Gutenberg was released. So at the very least, it hasn’t harmed the growth of WordPress.

[00:22:12] Nathan Wrigley: So the content that you are creating is around the block editor, and what have you. I’d love to get into the process of that, because your videos, and again, pause this, go and watch some of Jamie’s content. You’ll know what I’m talking about as soon as you’ve got three minutes into it.

You obviously put a real value on quality. I’m imagining there’s quite a lot of editing and retakes, and all of that. You’ve mentioned before that you spend a long time planning everything out. Why are you doing this? What is the point of having a YouTube channel? What do you get out of it, aside from the pleasure that you may derive? What’s your north star with that project?

[00:22:44] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, well, originally it was just to create some content that kind of countered the narrative that you couldn’t do stuff in the block editor, I think, probably. So I just started producing some content just with, I guess a slight experiment, I suppose. And then it started to get some traction and feedback, so I carried on. I just carried on.

And it was actually a post by Chris Lema, that talked about trying to become a content machine. I think it was something like that. Which kind of inspired me to really start committing towards it. And I could just sense that there was something happening in terms of creating the content.

And now it’s got to the point where it’s generating revenue. It’s generating more revenue than the other bits of the business, which wasn’t the plan. But then people start emailing you and saying, well, we’d like to sponsor this. We’d like to put our name to this content.

And the last two contracts I’ve signed, in terms of the description of what it was, one had talent in quotes at the top, which is bizarre. And the other had influencer, which is really bizarre. And now that’s driving revenue. It’s driving revenue back to the product business, and it’s driving revenue back to the training business. That was not the intention of why I started it.

[00:23:48] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, that’s really fascinating. So it was just done out of a desire to put content out there. It transformed itself into something that was getting the eyeballs. And then I presume, off the back of that, yeah, the sponsorship, emails start arriving and what have you.

A difficult decision must have been had, or a difficult decision must have been, had to have been made at some point. How much time does Jamie put into this in the future, you know? Okay, it’s successful now. Will it continue to grow? Should I be concentrating on the business? Should I be concentrating on the videos? Yeah, I guess you’ve got to sit the family down and have that conversation.

[00:24:21] Jamie Marsland: Well it’s a bit strange to say, you know, when you’re 50, what do you do for a living? And you have to say, I’m a YouTuber. It was hard enough to explain to my mother what I did in WordPress, and now it’s, she just looks at me blankly like I’m crazy. But I think the other thing is, I absolutely love it. So it wasn’t like I was drawn to the challenge of creating interesting creative content, and that was the prime thing that got me to create lots of video content. I absolutely love the creative process, and challenge of creating video content. So it was like, oh okay, this is maybe what I should have been doing a while back.

[00:24:53] Nathan Wrigley: Does the sponsorship bring with it a different approach to creating content? What I mean by that is, when you were just doing the content because you enjoyed doing the content, you could put things out on any schedule, I guess. You know, miss a month, it doesn’t matter, it was just a bit of fun. But then as soon as the sponsorships start to come in, I guess you’ve got to be a bit more methodical about it, bit more timely about it, and they’re going to want a return on that investment. So has it changed your opinion of it, as a thing that you do?

[00:25:21] Jamie Marsland: Not yet, but I’m quite early into it, so ask me maybe in a couple of years time. And I think the thing with the sponsorship, all the sponsored content I’m doing so far is stuff that I’ve pitched it to them actually, a lot of it. Even though people will email me a lot these days, and ask for sponsored content. I’ll often have ideas of an interesting piece of content, and then, because I know most people in the WordPress market now.

And having a YouTube channel is a great way to network, by the way. So you know, for example, a good example is with the guys over at Stellar. I’ve done a few pieces with them. But I had the idea, wouldn’t it be great fun to do a piece of content which was, I think we’re going to call it, I hired an ethical hacker to break into my website and here’s what happened. You know, which is like a really interesting idea as a piece of content.

So I’ve actually found an ethical hacker, he’s based in Malaga, and I’m going to go and see him, and that’ll be part of the video as well. The interesting thing about the sponsorship is how you take an idea and make it interesting, and compelling for people watching the content, so they still want to watch it. That’s a really creative challenge as well. But in terms of, it hasn’t changed my opinion yet, but I’m very early to the financial bit of it.

[00:26:21] Nathan Wrigley: Well let’s hope you still maintain the enthusiasm. What does the process look like then? You mentioned that you’ve come up with some innovative titles, and you’re obviously telephoning people up, and trying to find hackers here, there, and everywhere. But what is the process, to put out a half an hour, an hour long piece of content? Just give us an insight.

Because I think everybody has the impression that, oh, YouTube, it’s easy. There, he’s staring at the camera, he’s talking, he’s making it up as he goes along. And I’m sure it’s not like that. I’m sure there must be hours, and hours, and hours. What does it take to put out one of your videos?

[00:26:49] Jamie Marsland: As an example, I’ve got a video coming out today with It’s a five minute video and it probably took two days. That sort of magnitude. There’s like the initial idea, and then I always, always now, get the title and thumbnail sorted first. If anyone’s going to do this stuff, you’ve got to do that first with YouTube. It sounds a bit crass, but you’ve just got to do it. So get the packaging right. And I think only once you’ve got that right do you know the video’s going to fly. So that’s a really good process to go through.

And then it’s just around, planning is everything, and the creative idea behind the flow of the video. I’ve developed a blueprint now, which I use on a lot of my videos, which is about having a hook, and then adding loops into the video, so you keep people engaged throughout the video. So it’s almost like this layer that you layer on top of a video. So when you’re seeing the video, you’re seeing somebody talk about something, but actually there’s hopefully a blueprint behind it.

[00:27:36] Nathan Wrigley: There’s a story in there somewhere. There’s a methodology behind it all.

[00:27:39] Jamie Marsland: That is getting natural to me now. So when I’m planning videos, I understand, I don’t have to think. When you first start doing YouTube, you have to think about everything like that, because it’s not natural. It is to some people, but it’s wasn’t to me. So you’ve got to plan it, in terms of that blueprint. How to structure it. Hook people at the start, keep them engaged throughout, plus educate them along the journey. So there’s quite a lot going on.

[00:27:58] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Do you do sponsor bits inside the video? What I mean is, is the sponsorship clearly defined in the content that you do? So there’s an ad for hosting company x, or whatever it may be. And then you get back to being in the video, it’s Jamie talking to the camera and what have you. Or are you open to creating sponsored videos about particular product or company?

[00:28:17] Jamie Marsland: So both really. So at the moment I’ve got pre-rolls that go on the front of all my videos, which is, at the moment, InstaWP are sponsoring that space. But I’ve also done videos where I do website recreation, with certain tools. So I’ve done one with Kadence and GiveWP, where I recreated the Charity Water website using their tools.

So they give me a challenge, and I try and rebuild it using Kadence and their tools. And I did one with Spectra One as well. So that’s kind of how that works. The one I’m doing with Stellar and SolidWP will be, it’ll be sponsored by them and it’s going to be, this is the challenge, but this is what happens when we try and hack into a website without any security, this is what happens when we try and hack into a website with some security. It kind of varies in a way.

[00:28:57] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, so you’ve got a, you can, approach Jamie if you want to make content.

[00:29:01] Jamie Marsland: And I’ve also got, if you go to my YouTube sponsorship page, I’ve also got this series of videos going on at the moment where we give my daughters a challenge with a product. We’ve got five people lined up actually, who have signed up. And the first one we did was Kadence AI. So, can Meg and Lily build a website in 10 minutes, using Kadence AI?

And that’s another sponsorship opportunity as well. And that’s them using the Kadence tools to try and do a task, and we just film them doing the task. And I think that’s really interesting from a content point of view, but it’s also really interesting from a product point of view. Because they’re beginners, they’re not web pros, how beginners use their plugins.

[00:29:35] Nathan Wrigley: That’s really fascinating, and you get your family involved as well.

[00:29:37] Jamie Marsland: Well they get the money actually with that one as well, because they’re both at universities now. I’ve got another daughter called Hetty who wants in on the action, she hasn’t done it yet. But yeah, the money goes to them to fund their accommodation at uni, which is really helpful.

[00:29:50] Nathan Wrigley: That is so nice. That’s so great. One thing that we should mention is, of course, and you did mention it before. But you know you’re doing something right. Well, you didn’t mention this bit before, but you know you’re doing something right when people such as Matt Mullenweg drop your name in the State of the Word. And off the back of, I guess being seen by Matt, you’re now creating content, or you’re about to create content.

[00:30:11] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, we’ve done three, fourth one going out today.

[00:30:14] Nathan Wrigley: So this is You’re making videos in that space. How’s that process going? Are you enjoying that?

[00:30:19] Jamie Marsland: Yeah, it’s great. Basically it’s a series of videos called Build and Beyond. So I’m partnering with them for a series of videos, kind of aimed at the sort of developer agency market again, which is interesting. Because there’s lots of stuff going on in that people don’t know about. So it’s trying to show some of that stuff, but also just kind of speak to the broader market about the cool stuff you can do with WordPress actually.

And obviously I’ve got resources of some amazing people in to lean on, in creating content. It’s kind of like a fabulous thing to happen. And obviously it’s great from my point of view, because it gets my name on, I’m on their blog.

And hopefully it’s adding value to their brand, which is the idea. Part of my plan with that is to kind of shine a light on some of the cool stuff happening in WordPress, in the broader community. So hopefully a video’s going out in a few hours, which talks about some of the developers you should follow in the WordPress ecosystem. It’s trying to shine a light on the cool stuff that’s happening out there as well.

[00:31:12] Nathan Wrigley: I don’t quite know how to phrase this question. I’ll ask it, and maybe I’ll change the wording of it. Do you think there’s something different about you. Do you think the route to success, in the way that you are doing it with WordPress content, do you think that’s something you were born with, if you know what I mean? Do you have that capacity? Were you always able to be a raconteur? Can you control the room? Have you always had the ability to talk? Do you understand kind of where I’m going? Do you believe that this is something that anybody could do with a little bit of hard work and patience, or is there something a bit special about you?

[00:31:39] Jamie Marsland: There’s nothing special about me, but there’s definitely, a lot of my roles in, especially before Pootlepress, were being the communicator between the technical people, and the commercial people. I was that person that could take technical ideas, and then translate them to non-technical people, so they could understand from a business point of view why they were important to do. So I’ve definitely enjoyed being in that spot, taking really complex ideas, and make simple for people to understand.

[00:32:05] Nathan Wrigley: I think it also takes a certain amount courage to push through with something like this. Because the idea of putting things out, and thinking, well, I’ve made it, people will watch it. That takes a certain level of courage I think, because it’s easy to think that people will watch it, feel great disappointment if they don’t. But in your case, it didn’t turn out that way.

[00:32:22] Jamie Marsland: No. We have this running joke with my wife, which is, there’s three types of people in the world. People that think they’re worse than they actually are. People think they’re about right, in terms of their opinion of themself, and people that think they’re better than they actually are. My wife thinks she’s slightly worse than, she’s got far more talent than she thinks she has. I think I’m probably slightly above, which I think helps in this space.

[00:32:44] Nathan Wrigley: I think that’s great. Thank you for joining me today, Jamie. It’s been a real pleasure. It’s been an absolute delight watching your videos, and watching your popularity grow. Let’s hope that if we were to have the same conversation in 2, 3, 4, 5 years time, it would still be on an upward spike. Let’s hope that’s the case. Jamie, thank you for joining me today.

[00:33:02] Jamie Marsland: Thanks very much.

On the podcast today we have Jamie Marsland.

Jamie has a varied background in technical corporate leadership, and has been guiding Pootlepress for over a decade. Initially a training service, Pootlepress has become a product-focused company known for its WordPress plugins. Jamie’s depth of experience in the industry is increasingly overshadowed by his visibility as a YouTuber, where, as you’ll hear, much of his attention is now focussed.

In this episode we cover some new ground. We talk about a critical issue facing WordPress today, the fierce competition from platforms like Canva and Wix, and the marketing hurdles that WordPress must navigate to maintain its market share.

We also explore Jamie’s unconventional path to becoming a content creator, discussing how he went from teaching tennis to teaching tech, and how he’s leveraged YouTube to grow his audience and business. His perspective is that it’s important to make technical concepts accessible and easy to understand. Making his content is a lot of work, most of which happens behind the scenes.

We get into this a little more deeply and Jamie shares his strategies for effective video creation, from planning to execution, along with his thoughts on sponsored content and its place in the YouTube ecosystem.

If you’re curious about the future of WordPress, content creation, or the dynamics of digital learning, this episode is for you.

Useful links



State of the Word 2023

Jamie’s YouTube channel

Noel Tock at WordCamp Asia

Marieke van de Rakt on Uniting the WordPress Community for a Stronger Future

The future is open-source

Canva Create