Recently Ryan (@modemlooper) posted a question on Twitter:
It so resonated with me, so I decided to write a more lengthy answer.
The introduction to the problem
WordPress is big right now, with 26+% of the web it gives ability to reach millions of customers if you create a business around it. But that also can create a so called “all eggs in one basket” problem – when you select a specific niche (like, improving WordPress posts management experience) and literally depend on WordPress success. When it rises – you can rise, when it fails – you will inevitably fail.
Reason is obvious – if WordPress market share decreases, the number of your potential customers decreases. And then other people, who are selecting a new platform for their site, will see this decrease and will simply choose something else. The rise of WordPress right now is gingered up not only because of all of its features (and plugins, and themes) but also thanks to the year to year reports of market share increase. You might see something like this on the web:
I believe, you will agree, knowing that the platform of your (possible) choice is growing in market share gives even more new users into this “bubble”. Users by default want to use best of the best tools out there.
The problem for your business
And now you can (and definitely will, in the future) face with the biggest threat to your WordPress based business – when WordPress will become a stagnating software with decreasing time over time market share. New developers won’t be interested in it, new users will be in doubts whether to use it or not. No one wants to rely on something that is dying.
That also means the end of your business: improving WordPress posts management experience. Because old users will consider switching to alternatives as well. Because your ads costs may increase significantly; it may become very hard to consider users to start using your product. You are stuck.
The way to resolve the problem
In this particular scenario the only thing that you can do: identify the moment when it’s not profitable for your business to still rely on WordPress at least for half a year or a year upfront – and pivot. Use your knowledge in the field of your business and switch to something else, try to create the same product for the other platform (if you didn’t do that earlier) or try something completely new. If your business can’t survive without WordPress – either leave it, or change your business.
In case your business is SaaS based it’s possible to pivot even with almost that same product. As Ryan wrote:
SaaS gives you ability to just connect to other platforms or services, but for that to work all the value should be not in a satellite plugin for WordPress, but on your servers. A good example here might be ManageWP with their Orion. Their plugin (Worker) is just a proxy for commands and logic from their servers to your site. It will be a totally doable task for them to create that same module for Drupal, for example, or Joomla, or OctoberCMS.
API gives ability to preserve the value not in the code that is tightened to WordPress, but in your actual product. I’m not saying that everyone should create only SaaS based products, but business owners (in my opinion) should consider this option, as this will give them ability to easily (more or less) get through the “eggs in 1 basket” problem.
Sort of a summary
If your business can’t exist without WordPress and the problem you are solving can’t be solved via API and SaaS – you should always be ready to close the business or completely switch to other “parent” software. That means more time spent on monitoring the market and its needs. If you are holding in your hands an API based product – lucky you, you have an option to much more easily switch to anything new that might overcome WordPress.
In any case – always monitor the market independently from your current platform of choice.