We’re back with another episode of the WP-Professional of the Month series.
Our guest for this month is Lesley Sim. She is the co-founder of the amazing plugin Newsletter Glue, which enables sending the newsletter from the block editor in the WordPress dashboard. We have already introduced Newsletter Glue in our Plugin of the Month series and now it is our turn to introduce one of its founders.
You can connect with her on Twitter.
You are the author of a much-loved WordPress plugin today. How did you get introduced to WordPress?
I first got introduced when I wanted to build my own site for a craft beer brewery company I was a partner in. WordPress was the most affordable option and I started learning about it from there!
The craft beer brewery closed, but I’m still working in WordPress today!
Where are you based? Does your location influence your work?
Not really. Most of my work is online and remote. And I’ve been working remotely for many years now. So I don’t have any problem with that.
There are only 2 downsides:
1. It’s difficult when I have calls in different timezones. As a result, I’m often doing calls in the middle of the night at 10 or 11 PM.
2. It can get a bit lonely sometimes. So I have to make sure to have other activities in my life as I don’t have a “work social life”, which is something a lot of other people have.
Is there a story behind “Lesley Pizza”?
Haha! Not really! I like looking at TLDs (.com and .org are TLDs) and noticed there are quite a few interesting ones these days. I think it’s nice to have a memorable TLD and lesley.pizza was available so I bought it.
This was 4-5 years ago. Ever since then, I used “lesley pizza” for all my social handles for consistency.
Please share the origins of the Newsletter Glue plugin and also the awesome team behind it.
Newsletter Glue started as a pivot from an original membership plugin that we were working on.
We realized that the membership plugin niche was very mature and our plugin was not able to stand out or get traction. We were going to close it down, but then I realized I was very sad to lose one of the add-ons we built for the membership plugin that allowed a user to send posts as newsletters.
You see, it was easy to find alternatives to the membership plugin I built, but not easy to find alternatives to that add-on.
That made me realize that there might be hidden demand there. Because if I didn’t know where to find an alternative, there surely must be other people who were looking for a similar feature and couldn’t find it.
I created some blog posts and posted in some Facebook groups asking people about this and sure enough, a lot of people responded. This gave us the confidence to pivot and focus on Newsletter Glue. And the rest is history!
Newsletter Glue is built by me, Lesley and my technical co-founder, Ahmed. I live in Singapore and he lives in Egypt and we’ve never met before! Everything is done on Slack and Linear.
The Newsletter Glue has a pretty large fan-following. Any marketing tips you want to share with our readers and how you decide the pricing.
We’re still in the very early days. I think my biggest tip is to start with growing your immediate network first.
Most people who build software are afraid to meet people and avoid doing one-on-one outreach. Instead, they focus on marketing at scale like content marketing or paid ads. The problem with that is you don’t have the immediate feedback you need to be able to tell if your product is any good or if you’re talking about it in the right way.
It’s much better to get on a call with someone. It becomes immediately obvious if they’re disinterested or if you’ve explained things poorly.
Also, building personal relationships makes it easier to leverage other people’s audiences. For example, it’s typically hard to get featured on a popular blog. But if you focus on building relationships first, you’re able to reach out directly to the blog owner and since they already know you, they’re more than happy to feature you.
What makes WordPress so special to you?
The community, open-source, and the scale.
Community: People are really diverse and come from everywhere. And there’s always something to learn from someone on the other side of the world. And people are kind, generous and always willing to help.
Open source: I’m super interested in the concept of open source as an organizing mechanism. For example, why do millions of people worldwide happily contribute to, use, and trust-free software? It upends the principles of capitalism and hints that there are better ways of organizing than just throwing money at a problem. This is super exciting to me as a concept and something I think about often and want to learn more about.
The scale: WP powers 40+% of the world’s websites. In comparison to a small indie SaaS, you necessarily are forced to consider lots of different setups, hosting providers, use cases, and configurations. It’s really frustrating but also cool that we are forced to think at this level even for a small plugin.
What makes WordPress unique is its vibrant community. What do you think about the WordPress community and also your experiences with the WordCamps and other meetups?
I answered this above.
I’ve only been to one WordCamp many years ago. I really enjoyed it! Everyone was friendly and tried hard to be inclusive. I would love to go to another one in the future.
What is your favorite a) plugin b) Theme c) Hosting and why? (*Plugin other than Newsletter Glue)
a. Favorite plugin is probably the Redirection plugin. I often forget to change post slugs, so just knowing there’s something there to take care of that and I don’t ever have to worry about broken links is really cool.
b. Anything by Anders Noren
c. I quite like SiteGround for personal use. I don’t have a good suggestion for a large site though.
What do you think about the future of WordPress and Newsletters?
It’s great! I’m looking forward to a future where everyone thinks “I need a blog and obviously I need a newsletter too”
What do you think about the latest acquisition saga in WordPress?
It’s cool. They were mostly from mature WordPress companies that had been in it for over a decade. I like the idea that owners can work for something for 10 years, then retire and have a nice payday.
It’s too early to say, but it also seems that most purchasers are doing a good job at continuing to grow and build the plugins they acquired. Rather than letting them become crappy and eventually sunsetting them.
If you could change one thing about WordPress, what would it be?
This is controversial, but I hope more hosts create super-specific and limited WP setups like WordPress.com. This will make each user’s life much easier because they don’t have to worry about breaking things because the host has significantly limited what’s possible.
There will always be the option to completely DIY, but if there are more fantastic limited hosting options then it’ll be much easier to manage a WooCommerce site without worrying about things like plugin updates breaking your site. And WordPress will be more accessible to someone who just wants a site. Not spend their time stressing over breaking sites.
What would you like to see implemented to WordPress as a Core feature?
Don’t know! I think the current team is doing a great job.
Life has both success and failure. Please share one mistake that you made earlier in your career.
When we built our first membership plugin, I didn’t understand much about product management, positioning and product marketing. So we built a lot of small unnecessary features even before we got our first customers!
Instead, we should’ve built features that made us really stand out in the market in order to make it an “if I want feature x, I have no choice but to use this plugin” kind of a decision for users.
We know we can expect great features from Newsletter Glue in the future. Can you please give us a sneak peek?
Here are 2:
1. More integrations are coming soon! We’ve even begun to integrate WordPress plugins so your newsletters will be even more tightly ‘glued’ to WordPress.
2. A*******d emails (I’ll let people guess what that is)
What is Lesley like away from WordPress? What are your ways of chilling?
I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. My favorite sci-fi author is Becky Chambers.
That brings us to the end of this interview. Thanks, Lesley for taking the time to tackle these questions in a detailed manner. We wish you and Newsletter Glue all the very best!