Interview With Syed Balkhi—A True Inspiration to WordPress Newbies

by Waseem Abbas  August 4, 2014

A few months ago, we started interviewing the WordPress folks all around the world. We interviewed Bob Dunn, Carrie Dils, Nile Flores, Nick Adams, and many more WP personalities. The experiences are amazing to know more about the life of these awesome people. Today, we got the chance to talk to Syed Balkhi from WP Beginner.

Syed is a 23-year-old entrepreneur who runs various WordPress related ventures. He is a born entrepreneur. He began his entrepreneurial journey by selling different things during the local events and found highly positive results. From a tough start in US, Syed moved forward with his passion and vigor. He also created web directories and is an expert on SEO techniques. Before using WordPress, Syed worked on the development and maintenance of freelance static websites.

WP Beginner: Syed Balkhi’s Flagship WordPress Project

Years back, Syed converted all his static sites to WordPress. Suddenly after that, all his clients started asking questions more like how-to-use-WordPress. This made him realize that there should be some free online institution for the users. He then created WP Beginner in 2009. WP Beginner covers all the basic and advanced tutorials on WordPress. We are thankful to Syed for his valuable time. Enjoy reading the interview.

Syed Balkhi

Cloudways: What was the first thing that made you move all your static websites to WordPress?

Syed Balkhi: In 2006, the SEO industry was shifting dramatically towards dynamic, more frequently updated content, i.e blogs. As part of the movement, I started adding a blog section to all of my websites. During this process, I fell in love with how easy it was to create content in WordPress versus creating static sites. A year or so after, I started shifting all of my clients over to WordPress to reduce overhead of small retainer clients and overall support requests.

Cloudways: WP Beginner has transformed itself into a WordPress-related content giant. What were your thoughts when you started work on this website?

Syed Balkhi: The idea for the site came when I started moving my clients to WordPress. Most of the time, the clients were asking very similar questions. At first, I copied and pasted my responses as the nature of problems remained the same, more or less. Back then, most WordPress sites were by developers for developers. So, I decided to create a site for beginners. With that in mind the goal for the site was to have a resource, so any problems could be explained down to the basics.

Cloudways: You have successfully maintained strong relationships within online communities. What’s your secret. Is it all about strategy? Is it all about persuasion? How these relationships are beneficial to your business?

Syed Balkhi: It helps when you share a common passion with the people you are connecting with. It maintains the strong relationships with online communities. Second, the best way to make and maintain a good relationship is constant communication and giving. I’ve always extended my hand to help others out which has paid back ten folds. Relationships go far in helping you grow your business.

My motto is simple: Make Friends, Make Money. Make Money, Make Friends.

Cloudways: WordCamp events, the flagship events for the WordPress community, have become so frequent now. Share your opinion about these. Are they really helping WordPress Community in their cause?

Syed Balkhi: I’m so excited to see so many new WordPress communities. WordPress is really becoming mainstream, thanks to these WordCamp events and local WordPress meetup groups. I have been to WordCamp events of all sizes from a few dozen people to close to a thousand people.

I really love the spirit of WordCamp events. The material that gets shared is awesome, and the overall experience is worth having specially considering such a low price tag.

Cloudways: There are a large number of plugins and themes available in WordPress. If I give you an option to change a theme or a plugin, which one will you change?

Syed Balkhi: I will change JetPack, so it doesn’t require me to connect to WordPress.com to use some of it’s functionality that has no baring to the .com API.

Cloudways: There is a debate going on whether websites should be responsive or adaptive. What is your suggestion, should new WordPress users opt for the responsive design or an adaptive one?

Syed Balkhi: When making this decision the main thing to keep in mind is if it works for your site. You can have the greatest responsive design available, but if it does not fit the goal of your site then it is just another theme. There is no standard answer to this one. Evaluate your goals, and do what’s best for you.

Cloudways: What would you advise to those who are fairly new to the WordPress industry?

Syed Balkhi: For the beginners, I suggest the following three steps:

  1. Start with learning the common WordPress terms from WP Beginner Glossary.
  2. Go to meetup.com, search for a WordPress meetup in your area, and attend it regularly.
  3. Start following WordPress experts and good resource sites on Twitter and learn more.

[Check: The List Of 14 WordPress Developers And Designers You Should Follow]

Cloudways: Lastly, your journey started from a card stall and you went to the University of Florida. How was your overall experience?

Syed Balkhi: I feel very lucky to have some of the privileges I had and the support I received. I could not have done it without the support of my friends and family.

You can follow Syed Balkhi (@syedbalkhi) on Twitter.

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About Waseem Abbas

Waseem Abbas was WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves to help people with their WordPress worries. He is a self-proclaimed "food explorer".

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  • I’m a big fan of Syed and the tutorials that he puts out on WP Beginners.
    WPB along with the WordPress Tavern are my two “must subscribe” sites for anyone associated with WordPress.

    • You are right Keith. Both the sites are good WP resources. Thanks for reading out. I believe you enjoyed the interview.