A quick interview with Syed Balkhi

Quick interviews is our new series of posts featuring some of the most influential people within the WordPress ecosystem. 

For our first quick interview, we had the privilege of talking to Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner.com (among other things).

1. Hi Syed, could you tell us a little about yourself and background?

My name is Syed Balkhi. I’m the founder of WPBeginner, the largest WordPress resource site for beginners. I’m also the co-founder of OptinMonster, Envira Gallery, WPForms, Soliloquy, and MonsterInsights. My expertise is in online marketing and conversion rate optimization.

2. When did you first stumble upon WordPress?

I discovered WordPress in 2006.

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

I’m very proud of WPBeginner because we are the leading resource site for beginners. We create free tutorials to help people get started with WordPress. Unlike other sites, our tutorials are step-by-step so beginner users can easily follow it.

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

I have had several failures. But I like to look at them as lessons that I learn from. I started a fitness website several years back, but it completely failed. Mainly because it wasn’t my passion, and I didn’t hire the best people. The lesson is to always find the best talent that’s committed and passionate about the project.

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

There are a lot of theme companies in the market. In order for you to stand out, you must do something different. If you’re going to create yet-another All-Purpose theme, then you should stand in line behind Avada, X, and thousand others. I think the opportunity is in creating niche themes.

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

Perfection is a curse. Set short term goals that build up to your long-term goals. Make sure that your goals follow the S.M.A.R.T framework.

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

Better visual editor. The writing experience in WordPress feels a bit outdated when compared to competing platforms.

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

Absolutely. The REST API opens the gates for custom dashboards, apps, and so much more.

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

I’m on a 27-inch iMac 5k Retina – Late 2015 model. It has a 4 GHz i7 Processor and 32GB Ram. My favorite software, Photoshop and Illustrator. Can’t live without these two. Slack is another one that’s essential for us.

10. What’s your typical day like?

I wake up quite early in the morning (4 – 4:30 a.m). I make my coffee, organize my to-do list in time-blocks and then start tackling them. I divide my day into 20 minute time blocks.

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