Back in October, I was excited to start Brian On WP – a podcast covering the latest developments in the WordPress ecosystem. Fast forward to January, and I’ve decided to stop Brian On WP because I think it’s a waste of time and energy. After some reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that podcasting about WordPress is pretty much dead. So, why is WordPress podcasting dead?

Prefer to use your ears instead? Listen to this post below, and subscribe to the official BrianLi.com podcast on Spotify.

I don’t have the full answer to this question, but I think it mostly has to do with the lack of an audience. Right now, WordPress is a mature product. Sure, you can argue that “WordPress is still early”, but I think that’s a moot point because anything can be “early” in the context of an arbitrary scale of time.

WordPress has made it as a software product – it’s proven itself as a CMS and it’s widely adopted. I’d even go as far as to say that WordPress is turning into an Internet protocol of sorts – like HTTP with some additional abstraction layers tailored for content management. As history has shown, most people aren’t interested in following the latest developments of Internet protocols. They just expect them to “be there”. Perhaps that’s where WordPress is heading.

WordPress for Developers and Consumers

For content creators, the problem with a mature software product like WordPress is that people don’t care about it. It’s not new and sexy. It’s old and boring. As someone who works in WordPress, I don’t think it’s boring, but there are two very clear forces at play that are successfully swaying public opinion.

  1. For developers, JavaScript frameworks are hot, and everything else is not. Many developers view WordPress as a legacy platform, and PHP as a legacy language. It’s almost like you can’t be a “cool kid” if you use PHP. Also, you can’t possibly be a proper developer if you use WordPress instead of a shiny static site generator. It’s like elementary school all over again.
  2. For consumers, the concept of a CMS has been abstracted into fully-managed services like SquareSpace and Wix. These platforms have everything you need to create a website built in. Just select a theme and go. Best of all, you don’t need to worry about securing your site.

When it comes to CMS platforms like WordPress, there are two major audience groups – developers and consumers. The problem with WordPress is that it’s unappealing to both groups. WordPress' development experience is boring for developers, and its user experience is not simple enough consumers. Over the years, WordPress has evolved into something that wants to be everything, and that makes it unappealing to everyone because no one knows what it is.

The State of WordPress Podcasts

As a response to these market podcasts, the majority of WordPress-branded podcasts no longer cover WordPress as a primary topic. The ones that do still discuss WordPress exclusively don’t get much engagement – again, because WordPress doesn’t have a large audience anymore.

Here are a few popular WordPress podcasts, along with their respective number of ratings on Apple Podcasts and titles of their five most recent episodes.

Do you see a trend?

Your Website Engineer (214 Ratings)

  • Ten Years of Podcasting
  • Life Update
  • Why You Need an Email List
  • Your Questions Answered
  • WordPress 5.5

Matt Report (133 Ratings)

  • 2020 End of Year Review
  • Building a Business Through Content & Education
  • Buying a Productized Service Business for Vacation Rental Properties During a Pandemic
  • Software Eats World; I Eat Software
  • Building a No Code Business With Corey Haines of Swipe Files

WP Elevation (87 Ratings)

  • 2019 Recap: The Top 10 Episodes, WP Elevation Milestones and More
  • Kim Barrett on How a Business Misstep Led to a Productized Service
  • Dana Malstaff Shares the Secret to Creating the Perfect Content Strategy
  • How to Measure the Health of Your Business with Simon Kelly
  • Annie Wright’s Tips for Using Neuroplasticity to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

BlogAid WordPress Tips Tuesday (29 Ratings)

  • Pinterest Preview, Recipe Save Button, WP 5.6 Update, 2020 Year in Review
  • BlogAid 2020 Year in Review
  • WP 5.6, Cloudflare APO, Google Lawsuits, Migration Tips, Video SEO Research
  • Auto Updates in WordPress Toolkit and WP 5.6, Grow License Check, ModSecurity Settings
  • WP 5.6 Tour, UpdraftPlus Saves, GA4 Default, Core Web Vitals

WPwatercooler (25 Ratings)

  • The State of the State of the Word
  • WordPress 5.6 Simone
  • WordPress – Democratizing Publishing and Democracy!
  • Google’s Push to Add Stories to Your WordPress Website
  • Why You Should Test Your WordPress Website in Staging

Podcasts like Your Website Engineer, Matt Report, and WP Elevation go beyond regurgitating the latest WordPress headlines and developments. Instead, they branch off to complementary topics like how to run a business, the current state of software, how to develop a content strategy, and more. As a result, at least based on publicly available metrics, WordPress podcasts that discuss non-WordPress topics receive more engagement. On the other hand, podcasts that focus on WordPress-specific news and tips like BlogAid WordPress Tips Tuesday and WPwatercooler don’t receive nearly as much engagement.

Think about how ironic that is. Once again, WordPress-branded podcasts that spend more time on non-WordPress topics are more popular than WordPress-branded podcasts that cover WordPress exclusively. With this in mind, I realized how stupid it was to include “WP” in my podcast name.

So, that’s why I decided to trash Brian On WP. Instead, I’m toying with the idea of creating a podcast called brianli.com. I don’t intend to market the brianli.com podcast as a podcast. Instead, I see it as more of an alternative content consumption format for my site. I have an RSS feed for RSS readers, so why not create an audio feed for people who prefer to listen rather than read.

This concept has actually worked quite well on posts that became Brian On WP episodes. According to my analytics, some people end up listening to the entire “episode” before moving to another page on my site. So, that’s the plan in 2021. Instead of digging myself further into a WordPress-branded hole, I’m going to create an audio repository that may occasionally cover WordPress instead.