WordPress.com Rattles Freelancer Community with New Website Building Service Launch – WordPress Tavern
WordPress.com today launched a new website building service with prices starting at $ 4,900. Automattic has been testing the service in beta since the last quarter of 2020. The product announcement asks customers to “let the professional team at WordPress.com” translate your vision into a compelling and modern website ”, but without specifying the prices for more individual websites:
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The initial reactions from the WordPress developer and the freelance community were mixed. Some see the competition as good, others as a threat to WordPress consultants and small agencies as a WordPress.com product carries the full weight of the official WordPress brand.
“Whether this works or not, there are many people today with a sick stomach,” said WordPress developer Chris Wiegman.
Automattic’s entry into the $ 5,000 website market came as a surprise to many after years of staying in the corporate space with their WordPress.com VIP service. (Sometime in 2019, WordPress VIP launched the service without the “.com” appended.) Freelancers didn’t have to worry too much to compete against a big company like Automattic if they wanted to win customers. This is also an interesting move as the company looked very thin in maintaining plugins used by VIP customers in 2019, despite Nick Gernert, Head of VIP, “the demand for WordPress in the enterprise market like never before” saw.
“I can’t say I’m surprised by this announcement, but it’s not a good sign for the community to be honest,” said Joshua Nelson, WordPress consultant. “Freelancers get hurt the most. For example, my custom websites start at $ 3,000. Once you take a designer into account, that $ 4.9,000 price tag looks very competitive. “
In response to the community’s concerns on Twitter, Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, said the product is aimed at people who are struggling to get started with WordPress.
“I would be extremely surprised if this affected someone else’s consulting business. If you have a current or potential customer vacation for this please let me know. It should be all new WP users who would not have started successfully. Said Mullenweg. He also confirmed that the new business forwarding service had been set up, citing an earlier experiment in 2018 where WordPress.com partnered with Upwork to attract customers for custom development.
It's actually referring business out. We had a previous experiment around this partnering with Upwork.
— Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) January 4, 2021
The product launch lacked this information, and some found the copy confused with phrases like “We made it” and “Our experts can make it for you”.
WordPress pros have reached out to Post Status’ Slack to discuss the implications of Automattic’s new offering. Mullenweg replied to them, saying he was “100% sure this will result in better advice in the future” for consultants handling larger projects and potentially bringing more business to plugin and theme developers. He also noted that Bluehost’s full-service product is a similar solution and that services like Web.com have been competing in this space for a while.
“Usually these are called DIFM (do it for me) vs DIY (do it yourself),” he said.
Automattic has seen strong demand for DIFM as the discussion participants at Post Status referred to Mullenweg’s comments on the subject during his last State of the Word address in December 2020:
Many people have lost their jobs. Many people wanted to supplement their income. This led to an incredible amount of entrepreneurship, so people looking for people who knew WordPress. And on the flip side, ordinary people who knew or were learning WordPress found that they had a lot to ask for their work so that they could supplement or replace their income, essentially for people doing it for me. So someone who is looking for someone to build a website. It has never been a better time to learn and invest in improving your WordPress skills.
The idea behind this product is to help those stuck with WordPress before turning to competitors marketing website creation to beginners. It shows that WordPress still has a long way to go before it is truly an accessible tool for beginners starting their first experience building websites.
Automattic has not released a pricing structure for the features included on a base $ 4900 website. Based on the images on the landing page, the websites do not seem to be fully adapted to the offering of the existing themes. It appears to be more of a website setup service and doesn’t promise any explicit custom development.
“It’s unclear if anyone still wants this, so you don’t have it for this experiment,” said Mullenweg. “If it works, we’ll definitely try to open it up.”