WP Daily: What the Heck is Going On?

Like most people in the WordPress community, I was shocked to check my news feed on Wednesday and discover WP Daily had shut up shop, the usual list of posts replaced with a blurry grayscale photo background and a link to a vague explanation saying the news site had “a great run.”

Since 8BIT’s news service published its first post, “Hello World!” on December 1 last year, WP Daily had become a friendly and familiar addition to my news feed, as well as a go-to site for all things WordPress.

WP Daily has closed down
WP Daily announced on Wednesday that it’s shut up shop. It’s kaput. No more.

But then yesterday, just 24 hours after WP Daily had apparently closed down for good, it was back up and running again – albeit in archive mode and minus the ads.

I emailed editor-in-chief John Saddington to hassle him for the low down and get some kind of explanation as to what the hell was going on, but he says he can’t answer any questions until 8BIT can share publicly where WP Daily is headed.

So for now, that’s the vague explanation we’ll all have to accept. After all, it’s Saddington’s business and he can do whatever he wants with it. WP Daily was (is?) a free news service he offered to the WordPress community and if he simply doesn’t want to keep it up and running, that’s his prerogative.

The sudden announcement was a surprising slap in the face for a lot of people and while there’s been a lot of support for 8BIT’s decision, there’s also been some serious backlash.

First came the comments from people who were simply sad to see the site close and lauded it as a great news resource. Then there were comments demanding the site be archived for historical purposes or sold to someone else who could better manage the content. There was also one comment likening the move to Google Reader’s closure, questioning whether we can trust 8BIT’s future products.

“One day you may decide just to close it (8BIT). Good luck but I’m not with you anymore,” Drexbg commented.

Negative comments aside, the calls for the site to be archived were quickly heeded.

John Saddington
WP Daily editor-in-chief John Saddington

In a new post on the site yesterday, Saddington says there has been “much thought and feedback over the last day about what will happen to WP Daily.”

“Please know that we have a plan in place! We are going to put the site back online for archiving purposes for the community,” Saddington says.

“Please know that there will be other announcements in the very near future about the long-term plan for WP Daily, but until then all editorial will be halted and no new posts shall be published.

“Thank you for your patience and we’re very excited about the future of not only this site but the great content and legacy that’s been created. Again, we couldn’t have done it without your help.

“Stay tuned!”

Stay tuned for what exactly we’ll just have to wait and find out. It’s all extremely vague and we know the WordPress community doesn’t like mystery – remember the mystery surrounding WP Tavern’s buyer?

What we do know is that WP Daily wasn’t losing money. In fact, it was making a decent profit.

Just last month, Saddington posted that 143 days after announcing WP Daily to the world, the site was monetized in April and sold out nearly all its original stock overnight.

“A few weeks later we established our baseline (direct sales) offering (had a pre-sold list demanding us to increase quantity) and found the property to be grossing in excess of $3,000/month,” Saddington posted.

More than $3000 a month after less than 5 months online? Not bad.

Saddington admits in the post the site could easily sustain a full-time writer, also adding WP Daily began contributing to 8BIT’s bottom line and “made the continued investment of time and slots on the product development roadmap much more attractive and reasonable.”

Money pile
It doesn’t seem like money was the reason behind WP Daily’s closure, or was it?

He goes on to say: “… let me be very clear that WP Daily was like many of my other blog properties – an experiment with goals and metrics of success that if achieved would justify continued existence.

“One of those goals, besides traffic, engagement, and # of blog posts (you can read those here) was simply financial – does this blog deserve the attention that is required to make it work?

“We tested our hypothesis and hoped to make our benchmarks quickly because the “attention” that is required was/is immense. We set our sights on making it happen and hit the ground running.

“And we hit that shit hard. We beat our goal of 1000 blog posts seemingly overnight (it felt like that) in 5 months, on the dot and are easily trending toward over 1M pageviews for the first calendar year, another one of our goals.

“We launched two more sub-properties (a Job Board and Pro Network) that have already beaten our internal goals as well as adding direct revenue as well.”

And further down the article: “Launching a profitable blog is possible and you don’t have to be a genius to do it.”

8BIT team
What has the 8BIT team got cooking to justify taking down WP Daily?

Okay, we get that WP Daily was an experiment and wasn’t leaking money. The only conclusion I can come up with is that it was a time drain, particularly on Saddington.

Anyone who follows WP Daily knows the editor-in-chief is a prolific blogger. The guy is everywhere. Whenever a new post appears at Make WordPress Core, Saddington is always the first to leave a comment. Think you’ve posted a bit of WordPress gossip on Twitter first? Chances are Saddington has beat you to it.

The guy is a machine – a machine with a wife and two young children, a growing business AND a new product, PressGram, which is expected to be launched on Apple’s App Store next month.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Saddington has put everything on hold – including WP Daily – to focus on PressGram. It makes sense. After all, there’s only so much one person is humanly capable of doing. If you’ve checked out PressGram’s extremely lengthy Kickstarter description, it’s pretty obvious the project is Saddington’s baby and is probably sucking all his attention right now.

We’ve been promised a full explanation about WP Daily’s future soon. In the mean time, bookmark WPMU.org for all the latest news, tutorials and helpful WordPress information because we’re not going anywhere.

Has WP Daily left a dent in your news feed? What are you favourite WordPress news sites? What would you like to see more of at WPMU.org?

Image credits: George Fox Evangelical Seminary401(K) 2013Iain Farrell.