Shining a Spotlight on Podcasts

As we near the end of 2021, it is interesting to note that there are currently over two million podcasts and over 48 million podcast episodes. Those numbers are incredible on their own, but when you realize that just 4 years ago, there were “only” a little more than half a million podcasts, the growth is astonishing. Those numbers might make you think that the podcast market is saturated, but that is definitely not the case. 

The growth of available podcasts is driven by the increase in interest. More and more people are tuning in to the phenomenon as they explore the vast podcast topics available to them.

Despite the number of podcasts being broadcast today, there is still plenty of room for newcomers to the market. Just as there are many websites for every imaginable interest, there’s room for podcasts in even the tiniest of niches. 

To prove this point, we’ll highlight some of our favorite podcasts hosted right here on WordPress.com. What? You didn’t know you could host a podcast on WordPress.com? Well, pull up a chair and check this out. You might find a new fave podcast of your own, and better still, you might even find some inspiration for creating a podcast yourself! Let’s go!

A Podcast for Every Interest

Obviously, we can’t list the millions of niches here, but we can showcase a few that range across a broad spectrum of interest. Here are 7 that have caught our attention here on WordPress.com.

Love to Sew

If you totally relate to the title of this podcast, then you should tune in. The hosts of Love to Sew, Helen and Caroline, are active members of the sewing community. They understand the need to connect and bring that understanding to each episode. In their words…

Our episodes are a mix of technical sewing advice, inspirational storytelling, unpacking feelings around sewing and creating, and loads of words of encouragement.


The Purple Rock Survivor Podcast

Billed as the “The smartest, funniest, most humble, and best Survivor podcast on the internet,” this podcast focuses on discussions of the hit television show “Survivor”. The hosts, John and Andy, along with frequent guest hosts, debate the latest Survivor episode antics each week. As all great armchair quarterbacks do, they use their stellar 20-20 hindsight to diss players, alliances, and the various decisions that caused the latest player to get booted off the show. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll feel right at home listening to this podcast.


The Premier View Tipperary GAA Podcast

The perfect example of targeting a seriously narrow niche, this podcast brilliantly focuses on topics most people may not know exist. These topics include Tipperary GAA, Club and County, Hurling, Gaelic Football, Ladies Football and Camogie. If you’re like me, you’ve possibly heard of Hurling (the sport), and can probably guess at what Gaelic and Ladies Football is all about, but in most parts of the world, you may not know a thing about GAA, Club and County, or Camogie. I think it’s fair to say, however, that the people who DO know what those sports are all about, are probably thrilled to know that there is a podcast out there that caters just to them.  For the rest of us, let’s just simplify and call it “various sports that are local to a specific Irish region”. If you’re into these sports, or just curious, hurl yourself into a comfy chair and get your listen on.


The New Home Owner Podcast

Targeting a specific group of people, new homeowners, this podcast delivers tips and advice surrounding the entire new home building process – from signing contracts to adding the final finishing touches. This is a great example of how a brick-and-mortar business can share its expertise with visitors, while potentially acquiring new clients. When people acquire valuable information from a business, they inherently trust that business a little more than before. Building trust is a great way to convert visitors into clients. 


Sneaker History

Did you know that there is a passionate sneaker community out there? Sneakers have a history and have become a part of pop culture. This podcast’s goal is to “make a positive impact on the sneaker community, culture, and business of sneakers by telling the stories of the people that make this passion enjoyable”. Episodes are gated, meaning you must be a paying member to access them, but if you’re a sneakerhead, this won’t deter you. And if you are just interested in starting your own podcast, your ears will perk up to know that podcasts can be monetized like this. Nice, right?


Travel Babies

No, this podcast doesn’t focus on babies at all. It is an adventure-filled look at the experiences of two sisters traveling the world. You’ll get their expert take on all things travel, including tips and tricks for making your worldwide jaunts much more enjoyable. “Each week they talk about important travel topics to help you decide when, where, and how to explore the world in style.


Kyla Marie Charles MomChat Mondays

If you were bummed that the Travel Babies podcast wasn’t about babies, never fear, MomChat Mondays has you covered. Their own description says it best. “A LIVE #MomChatMonday hosted by Kyla Marie Charles and Amy Eilers of House of Eilers bringing all sorts of moms together to chat about motherhood topics from mundane to controversial. No shame, no judgement, just talking with mom friends and figuring it all out as we go– as moms do!


Of course, these 7 podcasts are just a smattering of cool audible content available on WordPress.com. So tell us, have you ever thought about hosting your own podcast? If so, we have lots of tips and advice to help you succeed. You can start with a few of the posts we’ve shared on the subject, including:

We’ve shown how diverse podcasts can be, but it’s more than just topic diversity that sets a podcast apart. If you are considering starting a podcast, there are some other aspects to consider.

Types of Podcasts (Make It Yours)

No matter the topic, there are various ways to format or organize your podcast. Some subjects lend themselves more closely to one or another way, but many topics are open to multiple presentation formats. Consider the following formats to determine which might work best for you and your topic.

  • Interviews – Some podcasts primarily center around interviews with either famous people or topic experts. 
  • Conversations or Roundtable – In industries where change happens frequently, podcasters often choose a roundtable or conversational format. This style provides a group of hosts, who often know each other well, a chance to converse about trending news or perhaps even a bit of industry gossip. 
  • Monologues – Subject matter experts frequently use this format to inform or teach the audience about various aspects of the niche topic.
  • Storytelling or Theatrical – Rather than conversations, these podcasts are performances. The storytelling format usually involves one host reading chapters or episodes of a story, interspersed with commentary. True crime stories fit this model well. A podcast with a theatrical format is usually a full-blown production with multiple voices/actors. These are like plays, without the visuals.

Of course, some podcasts might be a mix of the above formats from episode to episode, but the most successful will likely stick pretty closely to one format. This consistency provides your audience with a familiar sense of place. Suppose someone enjoyed a storytelling type of format in one episode. In that case, they’d likely hope to experience more of the same in future episodes.

Podcaster Personality Styles (Be Yourself)

Once you’ve figured out the podcast’s topic and style, there’s one more crucial element – you! Great content, told in an interesting format, is lovely, but in the end, it’s your personality that people really want to connect with. Don’t let that worry you. If you weren’t the most popular kid in the class, that wouldn’t stop you from connecting with an audience with your own personality brand. Let’s take a quick look at some examples.

We’ve seen that some topics work better with certain formats than with others, and the same can be true of personalities. A monologue podcast focused on teaching the fine details of investing might not work as well with a goofy personality type. Then again, that odd combination might actually be a huge winner. Who knows? But for most podcasts, matching the topic with an appropriate format and personality type makes the most sense.

A few typical personality types include:

  • Serious
  • Informative
  • Casual, fun, and goofy
  • Comedic

Casual, fun types work well for entertainment topics. Serious types match well with true crime storytelling, for example, and informative, no-nonsense types click with business or educational topics. You know your topic and your personality best. Find the sweet spot that makes sense to you, and it will likely appeal to others as well.

So let’s put all of this together. Follow our recipe for podcasting success but feel free to throw in your own “seasoning” to truly make it yours.

A Recipe for Podcasting Success

New: Free Blogging Course

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a full year since we launched WPCourses.com! In that short time, we’ve been incredibly inspired by the group of ambitious learners we have been able to work with. In fact, we’ve been so moved by the enthusiasm of the community we’ve built so far that we want to ensure this experience is available to as many people as possible.

So we’re happy to announce the launch of our very first free course, Intro to Blogging. In this course you’ll learn about: 

  • What blogging is and why so many people are doing it.
  • How to set up, navigate, and manage your blog or website. 
  • How to create blog content like a pro and create a site people love to visit.
  • How to identify your audience, set goals, and build your own blogging strategy.

By signing up you’ll get access to our course platform where you can work through each lesson at your own pace and take your time to really put that information to use as you build, design, or revamp your site.

We also used our time building out the free course as an opportunity to improve our existing content. We went back through all of our resources, added new lessons and tips, and expanded our curriculum to make sure participants are fully equipped with the most up-to-date set of tools, strategies, and best practices. Our rapid courses offer a more hands-on learning experience where you’ll benefit from: 

  • Helpful tips and tricks that are shared and discussed every week. 
  • Prompts and ideas to help you get unstuck when you need it. 
  • A community of peers who grow and learn with you. 
  • Weekly office hours when you can chat with experts and ask questions in real time.
  • Quarterly meetups led by true industry experts to ensure you’re using the best tools and strategies to grow.

As a way to celebrate the launch of our free course, we’re also offering 25% off our paid courses— just use the coupon code below at checkout. You’ll get access to the course and the community for a full year so feel free to jump in when you’re ready.

time2learn

VideoPress Remake

Introducing the new VideoPress. Still the finest video service for WordPress—now even better.

Video is one of the most powerful tools on the web. It can spark ideas, emotions, conversations, sales, and much more. VideoPress already offers people the ability to upload and serve hours of high-quality video flawlessly around the globe, ad-free. But VideoPress should inspire people to create and share their best ideas as well. 

Now it does. The refreshed player offers creators an intuitive, lightweight design that puts their content in the spotlight.

Creating doesn’t always come easily, so sharing should be a breeze. That’s why VideoPress is fully integrated with the WordPress editor. From effortless drag-and-drop options to broad customization, every feature within VideoPress can be experienced on your WordPress site, without redirecting audiences to external apps. 

Here are just some of the new options available on VideoPress—with many more to come: 

  • Customizable player with colors that match your site’s design.
  • Adaptive bitrates to deliver high-quality playback at great performance speeds.
  • Picture-in-picture and variable playback speeds.
  • Private video options let you offer exclusive content to subscribers.
  • Multi-user access for easier collaboration.
  • Unlimited hosting with WordPress.com or Jetpack plans.
  • No intrusive ads or imposing branding.

With an immersive design and seamless integration, VideoPress is ideal for any videographer, filmmaker, educator, or blogger looking to upload high-quality video—an elevated player for elevated content.

It’s an exciting time for video content, and even more exciting for VideoPress: We’re working on better uploads, smoother library navigation, subtitles, and more. So stay tuned. There’s more coming soon.

VideoPress is included in our Premium, Business and eCommerce plans on WordPress.com. And if you’re self-hosted site, you can get VideoPress through Jetpack, now available as a standalone product.

Behind the Scenes: The Tech Stack of the WordPress.com Growth Summit

Recently, we hosted our second annual WordPress.com Growth Summit and welcomed over 1,300 attendees at the event. The summit was fully online, and it built on the momentum of our inaugural Growth Summit in 2020 after hearing from you, our community, that another conference would be a great learning and networking opportunity for people looking to grow their WordPress.com sites. Based on the positive feedback from last year, this year’s programming continued to be customer-focused by highlighting people — just like you! — who started sites and businesses on WordPress.com and have seen them flourish.

We also changed up the tech stack we used, which allowed us to offer a better user experience and to improve the process of selling tickets and, later, access to recorded videos from the event. If you enjoy building sites with WordPress, tinkering around with design and functionality, I’m pleased to share a behind-the-scenes look at how we got our Growth Summit site to work for us. This explanation might be especially helpful if you’re trying to sell registrations on your site and/or restrict access to content behind a paywall.

Selling Tickets

At WordPress.com, we love to use plugins when building sites, and installing a number of them on the Growth Summit site made ticket sales a breeze for customers.

  • First, we installed the WooCommerce plugin on our WordPress.com site and created a ticket as a simple product in the store catalog. Nothing fancy, just a title and a price. From a design perspective, we determined that it wasn’t ideal to have potential conference attendees visit the product page, so we configured the call-to-action button on the homepage to automatically add a ticket to a visitor’s cart and send them straight to the checkout page. 
  • Then, using Zapier and its WooCommerce extension, we configured a “zap” that was triggered whenever a customer bought a ticket, which in turn alerted Hopin — the virtual event software platform we chose to host the Growth Summit — to create a new attendee registration. 
  • In an effort to simplify the checkout process, and hopefully increase conversion rates, we used the WooCommerce Checkout Field Editor plugin to remove a number of default fields, such as billing street address, phone number, and order comments. We were also able to customize the field layout so that it took up less “real estate” on the checkout page.
  • The MailPoet plugin allowed us to customize the content of the default WooCommerce emails for completed order confirmations. Sure, we could have installed a child theme and then used custom templates to put the text we wanted in the message, but the MailPoet plugin was free for our purposes. Plus we can use it for email marketing campaigns in the future, should we choose.

On-Demand Video Access

Leading up to the Growth Summit, our focus was on driving attendance to the live event. Once the conference wrapped up, we shifted focus to providing access to recordings of Growth Summit sessions for attendees who wanted to watch on demand, and for people who missed the event but wanted to experience it firsthand. With the WooCommerce Memberships extension, we put the videos behind a paywall — in other words, you have to have a membership to view them. To sell memberships, we’re using the same WooCommerce product we used to sell tickets. We just changed its configuration so that buying the product adds the customer to a membership plan that grants access to video content from all the sessions in 2020 and 2021. Additionally, we ensured that anyone who bought a ticket to the live event would get a year of on-demand access automatically. 

Site Design

Aesthetics are as important as functionality. We built the Growth Summit site with the Twenty Twenty-One theme. The homepage uses Gutenberg blocks. Some of the common blocks are Cover, Layout Grid, and Columns. We also used some custom CSS code to tweak the design to suit our needs. 

That’s pretty much it. Did you miss the Growth Summit? Use the coupon code behindthescenes to get 25% off on-demand access to all the video recordings from 2020 and 2021, now through August 2022!

Celebrating UK Black History Month: Learning Resources, a Read & Watch List, and Content Creation Tools

This year’s UK Black History Month theme, Proud To Be, is about celebrating the Black experience. As a distributed company with employees around the world, including the United Kingdom, we believe that the more perspectives we embrace, and the more we learn about our teammates, the better we are at engaging and helping our global community. 

This October, we encourage individuals and organizations to learn more about Black history, heritage, and culture in the UK. “Black British history is British history. It’s more than a month; it is interwoven in everything,” says Ama, a colleague based in Scotland. “We have changed landscapes in education, law, politics, work, and equality for all within the UK.” Black history is deeply embedded in UK culture, says Ama, from institutions — like the National Health Service — to music, sports, art, media, and popular culture.

Interested in learning more? We’ve compiled a list of staff recommendations:

Explore these resources this month — or bookmark them for learning and inspiration anytime.

#PoweredByWordPress learning resources

From the official UK Black History Month hub to the website of the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, these resources are great starting points for your journey.

Black History Month 2021

All year long, Black History Month publishes news, features, career and education information, and event listings across the UK. Make it your first resource for getting educated and involved.

Black Heroes Foundation

Focused on youth education and development, this London-based community charity raises Black cultural awareness of the general public, educating and uplifting youth in particular. The foundation envisions a world where Black heroes are acknowledged, respected, and celebrated.

Stephen Lawrence Day

The 1993 murder and case of Stephen Lawrence — an 18-year-old from southeast London who was killed in an unprovoked racial attack while waiting for the bus — led to a major shift in the UK in attitudes about racism, the criminal justice system, and the role of the police. The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation continues to tell Stephen’s story, offers resources for educators and organizers, and works toward creating a just society.

The National Archives

The National Archives is the official archive and publisher of the UK government, documenting over 1000 years of history. Researchers can browse the Black British history section of the website for a guide on social and political history in the 20th century, lots of blog and multimedia content, and records relating to British citizens of African and African-Caribbean descent.

Black History Walks

Partnering with museums, schools, and other institutions, Black History Walks offers a dozen walking tours throughout London, public monthly educational talks, and video courses and resources on Black history. Its diverse programming targets a range of people both in person and online, from students to travelers to businesses.

A read & watch syllabus

Looking for book, TV, and film recommendations about Black history and culture in the UK — or by Black scholars and creators — but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some of our nonfiction, fiction, and film and television picks.

Nonfiction

  • Black and British: A Forgotten History: Published to accompany the BBC Two series noted in the Film and Television section below, this must-read book by historian David Olusoga examines the shared history between the British Isles and the people of Africa.
  • 100 Great Black Britons: In this book, Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osborne — founders of the 100 Great Black Britons campaign — celebrate Black British history and recognize key Black Britons who have helped to shape Great Britain.
  • Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging: A hybrid of history and memoir, Afua Hirsch’s book “reveals the identity crisis at the heart of Britain today” and explores a nation in denial about its imperial past and present.
  • This Is Why I Resist: Don’t Define My Black Identity: In a book that demands fundamental change, activist and lawyer Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu examines the roots of racism and anti-Blackness and calls for meaningful action.
  • The Louder I Will Sing: A Story of Racism, Riots and Redemption: In 1985, when Lee Lawrence was a child, his mother was wrongfully shot by police during a raid on their home in Brixton. Published more than three decades later, his memoir chronicles what it was like to grow up as a young Black man in England and how that day influenced his family.
  • In Black and White: A Young Barrister’s Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System: Experiencing a tragedy as a teenager pushed Alexander Wilson to become a barrister — a type of lawyer — so she could make a difference within an unjust system. Her debut book describes her experience as a mixed-race woman in a field lacking in diverse representation.
  • Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire: In this book, author and hip-hop artist Akala blends biography and personal experience with an examination of race and class across topics — from education to politics and the police to the far right.
  • Misfits: A Personal Manifesto: This “coming-to-power manifesto” by Michaela Coel — the actress, writer, and creator of I May Destroy You — builds on an inspiring keynote address she delivered at the 2018 Edinburgh International Television Festival about resilience, empathy, storytelling, and growing up in public housing in East London.
  • What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough: In this illustrated self-help guide, author and influencer Chidera Eggerue, also known as the Slumflower, writes about self-love, empowerment, and creating your own narrative. The book also includes Igbo proverbs from Eggerue’s Nigerian mother.

I recommend David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History. It’s a really important book, with new updates on the Windrush scandal and Black Lives Matter from the UK perspective.

—Victoria Jones, UK

Fiction

  • White Teeth: Published over 20 years ago, Zadie Smith’s debut novel focuses on the lives of two unlikely friends and their families in London. Considered a “modern classic of multicultural Britain,” the book is a window into the immigrant experience.
  • Girl, Woman, Other: Weaving a dozen narratives about different people across ages, backgrounds, and professions, Bernardine Evaristo examines topics of identity, race, and womanhood in modern Britain.
  • Love in Colour: This collection of short stories by author Bolu Babalola reimagines ancient love stories and folktales from around the world, from Greek myths to Middle Eastern legends, and centers Black women and strong female characters.
  • Queenie: This sharp and funny novel by Candice Carty-Williams is about the life of Queenie Jenkins, a mid-twenties British Jamaican woman living in London who’s struggling to find her place in the world.
  • Such a Fun Age: One night, a supermarket security guard sees a young Black woman, Emira Tucker, in the aisles with a white toddler. The guard accuses Emira of kidnapping, when in reality she’s the babysitter. In this novel, Kiley Reid takes a look at race, class, power dynamics, and privilege.

I’ve greatly valued Zadie Smith’s work. Her novels — especially White Teeth — are well crafted and offer a mix of comedy and realism that often focuses on social class in England. Her essays are things of beauty. She’s worth a read, no matter the month.

Daryl L. L. Houston, USA

Film and Television

  • Black and British: A Forgotten History: This BBC Two series by David Olusoga, composed of four episodes, looks at the relationship between Britain and people of African origins, slavery, and Black British identity in the 20th century.
  • Small Axe: In this anthology of five films, 12 Years a Slave filmmaker Steve McQueen brings to life the stories of West Indian immigrants in London from the 1960s to 1980s.
  • Black Power: A British Story of Resistance: This hour-and-a-half documentary includes interviews with activists involved in Britain’s Black Power movement in the late 1960s. (The BBC’s larger collection of programming for Black History Month is also worth browsing.)
  • I May Destroy You: Michaela Coel’s recent Emmy-winning drama series is about a promising young writer, Arabella, who is sexually assaulted one night while out with her friends. The show explores consent and trauma, and stars a primarily Black British cast.
  • Black and Welsh: Cardiff-born filmmaker Liana Stewart brings together people from across Wales to highlight its multiculturalism and to share stories from community members about what it means to be Black and Welsh.
  • Hair Power: Me and My Afro: Irish writer and broadcaster Emma Dabiri has intimate conversations with both men and women about their hair, digging into how and why Afro and Black hair is an important and complex aspect of the Black experience.
  • Highlife: This premium reality TV show follows the lives of eight successful, glamorous British West Africans and depicts a different angle of Black life in the UK.
  • Desmond’s: Originally running from 1989 to 1994, this sitcom was set in a barbershop in Peckham, southeast London, and featured a mostly Black British Guyanese cast.

Blog and website resources

Lean on these resources, tools, and organizations during UK Black History Month — and beyond — to publish content on your site that’s fitting for your audience, or to connect with and collaborate with others.

Would you like to recommend a website on WordPress, writing or media by a Black thinker or creator in the UK, or another resource? Tell us in the comments.

Will We See You Tomorrow at WordCamp US 2021?

Let’s meet at WCUS 2021! WordPress.com will be there and we hope to see you there as well!

Although we’d love to be at an in-real-life WordCamp right now, we’re still excited about attending the online version of WordCamp US this year. 

What is WordCamp US 2021?

WordCamps are informal events that are organized and hosted by the WordPress community. WordCamp US 2021 is a one-day online event for the US WordPress community to attend sessions, network with one another, participate in WordPress-related workshops, and more. Of course, it’s not only for US residents – everyone is invited to attend!

Reminder: It’s free to attend, but you need a ticket so get yours now

WordCamps are welcoming places for all WordPress businesses, users, bloggers, and enthusiasts to gather. No matter where you host your WordPress site, no matter how big or small your site might be, WCUS 2021 is the place to be. 

How is WordPress.com Involved?

As a hosted version of the open source software, WordPress.com is also a part of the WordPress community, so we wanted to participate in this event in a big way. We are proud to be one of several sponsors of WordCamp US 2021 (WCUS 2021). Be sure to visit our sponsor page here, which includes WordPress.com-related facts you may not be aware of. For example, did you know that WordPress.com is a hosted version of the open-source software WordPress, delivered on a fast, secure managed WordPress hosting platform?  

What Can You Expect at WCUS 2021?

There are sessions throughout the day, all carefully selected to appeal to the varied interests of WordCamp attendees. Take a look at the schedule and plan ahead so you don’t miss the sessions that interest you the most.

Maybe you’re interested in eCommerce or accessibility. Perhaps you are curious about the future direction of WordPress. Or are you hoping to learn more about community-building? You can delve into these topics and more at this event. 

There will also be plenty of time to network with other attendees, and even hang out and enjoy some music during the day. 

So will we see you there tomorrow? If you see us around, be sure to say hello.

Psst… We may even have some swag available.

A Successful Blogger on Making the Switch

After Kyla Marie Charles grew a successful blog on Blogger for 10 years and made her mark as an influencer, she realized her website was no longer able to support her needs. She began the search for her next platform and discovered WordPress.com. 

“I started to become limited by the features that Blogger offered since starting my own podcast and my growing community with #MomChatMonday,” she writes. When she started out, she needed a platform that was quick and simple to navigate: her own corner of the web for her sporadic recipes. As her site and audience grew, she needed a better solution for her blossoming online community, as well as ecommerce options to help her expand even more. “After all that time and hard work, I didn’t want to keep stifling the ideas that I finally felt capable of taking on professionally.”

Leaving her old platform, Kyla transitioned to WordPress.com — on the WordPress.com Business plan — and discovered she now has infinite possibilities. She has a home for an official #MomChatMonday community, her podcast, and a variety of blog content from recipes, DIY projects, and posts on motherhood. As she ponders her future, she isn’t certain what her next steps are, but she’s excited to do it on WordPress.com. “My new blog,” she writes, “is up for the challenge.”

Photo Credit: Kyla Marie Charles

How Kyla switched to WordPress.com

Building and launching your website can be an incredibly exciting time, whether you’re a blogger sharing your ideas and establishing your brand or a business owner selling your products and services worldwide. But what happens when you’ve outgrown your current platform? Here’s how you can make the switch to WordPress.com, and a few features to consider as you build your new online home.

  • Import your content: People come to WordPress.com from different places on the web, and we have various importers that do much of the heavy lifting for you. Coming from Blogger like Kyla? Here’s the Blogger importer guide.
  • Set up essential pages: Have some fun drafting a new About page like Kyla. Find inspiration from pre-designed page layouts built with blocks to build other evergreen pages like a Services or FAQs page, or a simple Contact page to connect with your audience or start generating leads immediately. 
  • Take advantage of our ecommerce features: Collecting monthly payments? Offering writing workshops? Thinking of setting up a premium service? Kyla, for example, has pondered the idea of launching a book club, offering exclusive access to members. Once your site is migrated and you’re ready to earn money, you can use the Payments block on a site with a paid WordPress.com plan.

Is it time for you to make the switch? Let’s get down to business.

Expanded Button Formatting, New Spacing Controls, and Drag-and-Drop for List View Now in Block Editor

This month, our team released features in the block editor that give your site a little breathing room: spacing controls for buttons and paragraphs. And the List View tool keeps getting better with drag-and-drop.

Powerful Expanded Button Formatting

Buttons never looked so good with custom padding.

Padding is empty space within the border of a block, which can bring clarity to your content and adjust the balance of the page’s layout.

Custom control over a button’s spacing, color, and aggressiveness of the corner radii — all within the visual editor — can elevate it as a powerful design element of your website.

Make a punchy set of buttons themed in your brand’s colors or place an effective Call to Action button to attract your visitors.

To try, add a button with the Buttons block, and in the block’s menu go to the Dimensions section and select Padding. Adjust the padding uniformly around the button by changing the one value. If you click the unlink icon, you can adjust the four sides independently. Experiment with changing the Border and Color as well. To quickly create a grid of similar buttons, select the Options icon (…) in the toolbar above the block in your post editor and select Duplicate.

New Spacing Controls

Manually adjust the padding of other blocks as well, like a Paragraph block.

Custom-indent an entire section of text or generously pad a small amount of text for a big effect.

Experiment by wrapping a couple paragraphs with a Group block. Select the Group block and in the block’s menu go to the Dimensions section and select Padding. You can adjust the padding in this block just as you did with the button.

Drag-and-Drop for Persistent List View

We mentioned updates to the List View in June and July.

Accessible in the top-left menu of your post editor, the List View is the table of contents of all the blocks used in your post — select the diagonal hamburger icon to open this list. For deeply nested layouts, you can expand and collapse certain sections of this list, making navigation more efficient.

Now, with drag-and-drop functionality, you can reposition blocks within your post. Drag-and-drop a block within the list to reposition it, but if you prefer to organize visually, you can also drag the block’s label from the list into the post editor. List View is more powerful than ever to reorganize a post.

Keep Building, Keep Exploring

Your feedback is crucial to expanding the block editor’s capabilities, so keep it coming. Watch here for more updates, and in the meantime, go forth and create!

Meet the Customers We’re Featuring at the WordPress.com Growth Summit

Last summer, as the world adjusted to pandemic life, Jessica Petrie knew that she had to make changes to how she ran her studio, Yoga Next Door

She quickly figured out how to stream her classes from her studio in the beautiful woods of Maine, and adapted her business model to offer video learning and online payment. While looking forward to a return to in-real-life classes and retreats, she refused to be set back by the pandemic, and found a way to allow her students to continue their yoga practice from the safety of their homes. 

We are always learning from customers like Jessica — or Steven Gaither, Wali Pitt, and Tolly Carr of HBCU Gameday. The trio doubled down on understanding their growing audience, while staying focused on their important coverage of sports and culture at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Their expert use of SEO tools has helped them increase site traffic along the way. 

They are not alone: many WordPress.com creators have grown their audiences while publishing on social and cultural movements around the world, signaling their resilience, adaptability, and impact in challenging times.

We are proud to feature Jessica Petrie, HBCU Gameday, and other inspiring customers at the second Official WordPress.com Growth Summit, on Tuesday, August 17 (Wednesday, August 18, for Asia-Pacific timezones). You can still buy your ticket and learn from these incredible customers:

Muslim Girl

Amani al-Khatahtbeh started a website, Muslim Girl, and a movement. Whether highlighting prominent Muslim women in the Olympics or in the media, or diving into issues like human trafficking and marriage in modern Islam culture, Amani has created a platform focused on raising awareness, amplifying young voices, and fostering open dialogue. Beyond this, Amani is building a community around the diverse identities of Muslim women in the West — on #MuslimWomensDay (heading into its sixth year next March) and every day.

CalMatters

CEO Neil Chase and VP of Product Strategy Kim Fox will talk about their nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom, CalMatters, with our own Kinsey Wilson, the head of Newspack (the open-source publishing and revenue-generating platform for news organizations.) CalMatters not only covers policy and politics in California; they also help empower emerging publishers with their digital platforms. We’ll learn how they started, how they sustain their operation, and what they see ahead in digital news.

Zaloa Languages 

Anja Spilker is the founder of Mexico-based company Zaloa Languages, which offers online language learning with native teachers to an international audience. Anja is that rare and powerful combination of founder, CEO, and influencer. She’s equally adept at sharing her life behind the scenes as she is in shifting her business model, significantly increasing revenue, and creating a compelling brand with a sophisticated ecommerce approach. Listening to her tell the story of Zaloa Languages will be a masterclass on its own.

HBCU Gameday 

With HBCU Gameday, Steven J. Gaither spotted an underrepresented niche in the vast sports media landscape. He teamed up with experienced journalist Tolly Carr and digital technologist and video producer Wali Pitt to create a publication with an important focus on HBCU sports stories of culture and substance.  They’re hands-on in understanding how their audience finds them, all while adopting new formats (video!) seamlessly.

Workprint

David Nitzsche is a master of short-form storytelling, and he’s making a business out of it. We’ll learn how he weaves trailers, music videos, and creative for Apple, Marvel, National Geographic, Red Bull, Netflix, Google, and more. David will also talk about how he’s evolved his career from freelance editor to launching his own post-production studio, Workprint, in Los Angeles in the middle of the pandemic.

Yoga Next Door 

If the story of how Jessica borrowed her son’s GoPro camera to quickly experiment with offering her classes by online video doesn’t inspire you, Yoga Next Door’s return to real-life retreats will. But you just may learn most from Jessica’s  on-the-fly business savvy, including how she set up a digital library for customers while continuing to share her mindfulness and yoga expertise willingly. (So willingly that she’ll offer attendees a mid-Summit yoga and mindfulness session.)

STATURE

Which of Nick Engvall’s ventures can you learn most from? We found him via Sneaker History, the podcast he launched with and for fellow sneakerheads, drawing on his own content-creating background with brands like StockX and Finish Line. But we’ll also explore his creative agency STATURE, his hands-on thought leadership for podcasters and creators, his advocacy of WordPress, and how he finds time for it all!

If we have time, that is. Because all of these speakers have many stories to tell and ideas to share, and we have a packed Summit agenda that also includes sessions with our own talented Happiness Engineers, who will lead workshops on blogging, podcasting, building an audience, and SEO.

We hope you’ll join us at the Summit this week — and just as importantly, we hope you’ll keep working on your thing, too. We’d love to feature you someday soon.

Faster, More Flexible Editing of Your Sidebars, Headers, and Footers: Blocks for Widgets

The block editor makes site creation fast and flexible. Now, you can use that same huge library of blocks available when editing your pages and posts to edit and customize your sidebars, headers, and footers.

What are Widgets?

Sidebars, headers, and footers on your WordPress.com website are powered by widgets. Widgets are small but powerful modules to arrange and display content and tools around the edges of your posts and pages. Until now, widgets have been the best way to insert a variety of content — from calendars to social icons — into the sidebar, header, and footer of your site.

Flexibility with the Block Editor

Setting up and managing widgets was a very static and often tricky process. The block editor you’re familiar with in pages and posts is now part of the widgets editor. This aims to put editing power in your control.

You’re no longer limited to just widgets — any block is for your choosing.

For example, in your sidebar, header, and footer, you can now:

  • Tweak the structure by adding columns or spacers
  • Quickly add content like a Search block or a header
  • Format content via colors and rich text editing

What About Older Widgets?

Every widget that exists today will be incorporated into blocks.

But don’t worry — your current widgets will still work and can be used alongside your other blocks. Even legacy widgets that don’t have a block equivalent will work. Just use your preferred method of inserting a block, search for the widget’s name, and insert.

Getting Started

If you’ve never edited the content in your sidebar, header, or footer, now is a great time to experiment!

To edit the content, go to Appearance → Customize → Widgets and you’ll now be able to directly add widgets and any blocks, while previewing exactly what they’ll look like on your site.

This update is just one more step on the way to a more intuitive site editing experience. Go forth and create!