A quick interview with Ionut Neagu (Themeisle)

Hi could you tell us a little about yourself and background?

I have a software engineer background, however a bad one, I have learned along the way that I have other passions and skills, so I have used my freelancing income as a developer to build what is today Codeinwp.com and ThemeIsle.com, where I am leading a team of 15+ people.

When did you first stumble upon WordPress?

I think it was on my first encounter with entrepreneurship as well, I have used WordPress to launch a poker blog. Later on I got more serious into it and started Codeinwp, from keyword research, I thought “psd to WordPress” is a specific and not hard to rank for keyword, so this how Codeinwp was born :).

What product / website of yours are you most proud of and why?

I rarely feel proud and when I do it is very short, there are always better things to do. I feel most proud about the company/culture and the team that we have built, because I would not have imagined before that it would be possible, product wise I am most proud about our free themes, both because they are great and that we can offer them for free.

Have you had any epic fails so far that you’d like to share with us?

I had a lot, my working process is quite chaotic and one of the things that I do sometimes are impulse purchases, I hope I am doing this less and less nowadays, however it still happens, it started few years back with a $80 tweet which brought 0 clicks or so, while $80 was what I would have make in few days, then continued with others that I would better not remind myself about :).

In your opinion, is the premium themes / plugins market saturated? Are there any opportunities out there?

It depends a lot on what you understand by saturated, for the theme market probably is, there is way more power in the hands of “affiliates” than of “product creators”, for plugins due to the much bigger and complex eco-system there are still lots of opportunities as product developer as well. I see however both themes/plugins as a good starting point in your entrepreneurship career or as your first product, however if you are serious about your business I won’t focus just on that, I would go either into content, SaaS, website builders etc.

What’s your advice to new theme / plugin authors?

The most basic one is to build something that is much better than everything that currently exists in the market, if you cannot do it, better look for something else. Thinking about this further, I cannot see how you can easily do this with themes, due to different constrains, so I would rather recommend better start off with a plugin, if you got skills.

If you had the chance to add a single feature in WordPress core, what would it be?

Business sites are nowadays what people build the most with WordPress, so I would add some sort of standard components in the new editor, it should change a lot what themes will be, they would be able to act more as a “theme” rather than a solution.

Is the inclusion of the REST API a decision in the right direction and why?

I think it was, the adoption takes time, however it forced the community to look for opportunities to challenge themselves and learn JS.

What’s your current hardware / software setup. Any apps you can’t live without?

I am using a MacBook since I am moving a lot, however recently I got an iMac, since I plan to work more from home, otherwise nothing fancy, I worked a lot in coffee shops, so I got used to work with what I can :). For apps I am trying to keep things really simple, I use Notes & Reminders from OSX and teamclerk.com for idea management.

What’s your typical day like?

There is no typical day for me, most of the time knowing that I have a fixed schedule makes me extremely stressed, I’ve managed to build some routines, but they last around 2-3 months maximum. No early morning rise, no medication, nothing zen :).

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