Beaver Builder in a Gutenberg world

Matt Medeiros finishes Season 8 with this interview of Robby Mccullough, who is a co-founder of the Beaver Builder page builder and is from the Bay area. Matt and Robby discuss how the Gutenberg release in WordPress 5.0  may impact Beaver Builder,  whether Automattic could have looked at purchasing Beaver Builder, and how a small business owner deals with the ups and downs of running and growing a  remote business. Listen to the end of the episode to find out the original name consideration of the Beaver Builder theme.

Listen to this episode:


What you will learn in this Episode:

Future of WordPress with Gutenberg changes:

Robby – Realizes that it is impossible to predict the future of WordPress. He supports the Gutenberg editor with the block approach to the editing experience. The Beaver Builder page builder was created because of the demand in the WordPress space where the need for faster and easier website building was not being met. There was a real concern of what would happen to Beaver Builder once Gutenberg launched. (1:46)

Matt – Asks the question of whether Beaver Builder could have been bought by Automattic. (3:22)

Robby – Explains that the discussion of the purchase of Beaver Builder by Automattic never came up. (3:40)

The vision of the Gutenberg editor in the latest update of WordPress did not line up with how Robby sees Beaver Builder growing with the community. (6:00)

Matt – The innovators of WordPress (people who have created and supported page builders) have come from third-party developers. (6:47)

Robby – Beaver Builder has been in the problem-solving space. Big companies can absorb smaller companies but this was not to be with Automattic and a page builder. (9:15)

Software creators with SaaS and WordPress:

Matt – created a query builder called Conductor years ago. The direction will not be putting that product into a Gutenberg block to monetize it (as Jetpack). The Conductor widget solves a tiny problem for the client and can be considered a niche product. How will Beaver Builder continue to monetize the product? (10:56)

Robby  – Beaver Builder started as a web development agency and built Beaver Builder as a product offering. As the growth took off, the web agency was closed. All the focus has been on the page builder but now we are looking into other products that can be viable outside of the Gutenberg audience. The Gutenberg editor does not seem like it will serve clients who need customized solutions or large customers that need an advanced feature set. (13:00)

Forecasting the Future of Beaver Builder:

Matt – Third party markets have expanded the Beaver Builder experience. These vendors drive a lot of traffic to Beaver Builder but it does not seem that these offerings have been incorporated into the core product. (16:35)

Robby – Beaver Builder uses the WordPress model to build and support it like a platform. Beaver Builder supports third-party developers that have been building on Beaver Builder by allowing them to build and extend using the brand. The Beaver Builder community has been the judge of whether or not they want to use those third-party products. Beaver Builder is a bootstrapped team and still has the flexibility to make adjustments to monetize products they see as successful. (17:00)

Matt – The concern with open source is that there are many opinionated ideas that may impact theme creators and plugin developers. Open source does not always adjust to everyone’s request or concern. Matt Mullenweg with Automattic is in a unique position by remaining approachable and adjusting to requests from WordPress supporters.  This is the first experience for everyone with the Gutenberg editor coming into core. (19:54)

Robby – Matt Mullenweg has been on many podcasts and YouTube channels speaking about the WordPress 5.0 release with Gutenberg in the core. He has been participating in groups such as WPTavern to address concerns and is making the attempt to communicate the changes and strategy of WordPress moving forward. (24:00)

Marketing and Messaging of a Product:

Robby  – Marketing and communications are difficult to continually do. Robby has done this in his role with Beaver Builder and sometimes go through waves of participating and communicating in social channels. It is important to keep getting information out there when you are feeling burned out. (25:11)

Matt – There are ups and downs in every project. The ups and downs always occur so know they are coming. Create a contingency plan for the dips. Not everything will be a “hit”. Just do not stop working on it. (27:13)

Beaver Builder as a SaaS or Standalone CMS:

Robby – The idea of a SaaS actually came up during the early development space of Beaver Builder. The architecture and expertise to support it was the issue. There was not a partner that was really strong in the server and network side. (30:28)

Hiring and expanding a team:

Robby – You finally reach a point where you want to empower people to take over different or new roles as the business is growing. (33:50)

Matt – As you are expanding the business how do you find talent to fill the positions you want to hand off? Is it an outreach through a service or do you start with a social media platform?  You need to address whether you can hire and afford a candidate. (34:12)

Robby – It is difficult when growing and building a product. When creating a position, it is important to hire with a culture fit and diversity in mind. You want somebody who can broaden the Beaver Builder message and grow the community. (36:44)

Matt – Small companies are able to offer a good product and people will buy it when they know what is being offered. It can be very difficult to hire a person who can perform in many areas. It is important to give new employees enough time to deliver in the WordPress space. A 90-day review may not be long enough to determine if a person is a good fit because the return of investment may take a while to measure. (37:26)

Robby – When creating the Marketing job posting for his company, it was important to consider the changes that are needed for a small growing business. A person hired for content marketing must have some sales experience or perform in many areas. (40:21)

The Beaver Builder Theme

Matt – talks about the outlook for the Beaver Builder theme. It looks like the latest release of the Beaver Builder theme will be addressing design aesthetics. (44:11)

Robby – discusses how the Beaver Builder Theme is intentionally not marketed as the shiny object. The Theme is offered as a solid framework that is consistent and is easy to use. Once you learn the theme, it can save you so much time on additional projects. Beaver Builder considered naming the theme Chameleon where the theme could change and adapt with a design aesthetic. (46:26)

As Gutenberg grows it is interesting to see how WordPress supported themes will change. It looks like there are many changes coming into the front-end space with styles and design. (47:15)

Morten Rand-Hendrikson WordCamp 2018 
Beaver Builder
Conductor plugin
Silicon Valley Gilfoyle
Gary Vaynerchuck
Beaver Builder Theme

To Keep in Touch:
Beaver Builder
Robby on Twitter
Beaver Builder Facebook group

To Stay in Touch with Matt:

Watch the panel discussion on Matt’s YouTube channel.

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3 responses to “Beaver Builder in a Gutenberg world”

  1. Christ, dude. If you’re going to have a guest on your podcast, be brief, ask questions and let them talk. Do you really need to rant for 3 minutes in a windup for your question?

    Good podcast, but let your guest speak and less about yourself. If your point of view is so important, have a pre/post interview bumper.

    1. Shit, you’d think I know this after 5 years of podcasting. Thanks for your ideas!

  2. At first, I’m not impressed with Gutenberg. It’s creating a lot of uncertainty and near panic in the WordPress community, and comes across as a desperate act that is too little, too late (it also helps show why page builders like Beaver Builder have quickly become hugely popular and basically required).

    But after reading this post and comments, I couldn’t help but notice how little attention there is on what’s best for WordPress’s end-users. 🙂

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