Javascript, APIs, and the Future of WordPress

Automattic just announced Calypso, which is a radical new interface for

It replaces the old admin experience with a faster, more modern approach. It uses a Javascript framework called React, which was developed by Facebook. The main advantage of React is that it’s supposed to allow development of web and mobile apps using a similar codebase. now uses an API to communicate with a Node server, instead of processing with PHP. The advantage of this is that it’s much faster and more interactive, and there are no page refreshes. It’s the same approach that makes many mobile and web apps tick, and it has the performance many users have come to expect these days.

This is a huge shift for, and it’s a major milestone for WordPress in general. Even though many sites and apps have already been taking this API driven approach, this marks a huge shift in WordPress development philosophy.

The question I’m wondering is, where is this all going? What does this shift mean for developers, products, and WordPress core?

I’ve been working with Javascript apps and WordPress APIs for over a year now, and I have a lot of thoughts on the subject.

Is WordPress going 100% Javascript?

The admin is now all Javascript, but it’s important to note that websites hosted on are still using PHP like normal. The front-end facing sites have not changed, but could they?

It would be super cool if WordPress sites could all be single page web apps, the same way that the new admin is. Unfortunately, it will be a very long time until that happens.

WordPress core will support an API as soon as the WP-API is fully merged, sometime next year. Posts and pages are not hard to turn into an app, it’s all the stuff added on top of core in themes and plugins.

Fun fact: Node/PHP is not an issue here, you can still run single page web apps without Node.

Themes are less important with an API

If a WordPress site is 100% API driven, a theme will not be used at all.

Themes don’t have anything to do with an API driven WordPress, you won’t even need one on your site. That’s not to say there won’t be a visual component, but it will be all javascript templating. One example of this is mobile apps created with Reactor.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to use a theme and the WordPress API, that has already been done and will continue. In this case theme developers will require an entirely new approach to the way they build themes. Instead of thinking about template tags and a functions.php file, developers will be using Javascript templating and MVC frameworks.

One interesting concept is a WordPress API theme.

WordPress API Themes

WordPress themes are dependent on PHP right now, but if you are using an API, you could build a theme out of HTML/CSS/JS.

Instead of looking like this:

/* My Theme */

<article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>">
  <h1 class="entry-title"><?php the_title(); ?></h1>
  <div class="entry-content><?php get_template_part( 'content' ); ?></div>
// and so on

It would look more like this (at least in Angular):

<article id="post-{{}}">
  <h1 class="entry-title">{{post.title.rendered}}</h1>
  <div class="entry-content" ng-bind-html="content"></div>
// and so on

It’s a similar concept, but the difference is that we are starting from scratch. There are no helper functions like `wp_kses()` or template tags like `get_header()`. There is no functions.php file, and no action or filter hooks.

There’s a lot of work to be done with API Themes, and there may be a market for done-for-you templating. These will already include the code needed to fill the templates, so you can just add your site url and it’s already a finished app.

One example of this is a project I called wpIonic, which is an Ionic/AngularJS starter mobile app that interacts with your WordPress site through the WP-API. All you have to do is add your site url, and customize as necessary. It’s pretty bare-bones example, but it could be one part of a larger done-for-you WordPress app project.

The hard part about this will be helping the end user customize these apps without coding. I can also see a market for app builders, not just mobile apps but web apps too.

Plugins are the biggest hurdle

The biggest thing stopping WordPress sites from becoming fast, single page apps is plugin support.

Plugins are the most powerful part of WordPress, because they allow you to extend it and customize it. One of the lessons we learned building Reactor is that people love their plugins, and they really, really want them to work in their apps. The problem is that once you start using an API, plugins don’t work anymore.

Take Gravity Forms for example. They use shortcodes and template tags to display their forms, enqueued Javascript and CSS files, and PHP form processing. If you are using the WP-API, the only thing that comes through is a parsed shortcode, which is just HTML. To make the form work, you’d have to essentially rebuild everything on the app side. This is extremely complex, and at that point, it would be easier to just roll your own solution.

Eventually plugin developers will add support for the WP-API, but it will be a long time. Not a single plugin I use regularly supports the WP-API natively, and it’s been around for more than a year (granted, in beta).

Even when plugin authors add support for the WP-API, it’s not a plug and play situation. If you are building a web app with AngularJS, you still need to write a lot of custom code to make things work. All of the HTML/CSS/JS in your app will be written by you from scratch, until developers start releasing code for you to use, which is already happening. This brings me to my next point.

Plugins May Include Node Modules and Javascript Templates

If you have worked with Node, you know you can install a module, which is like a Javascript plugin.

For example, there is an AngularJS based library for interacting with the WP-API called Wp-api-angularjs. It handles much of the code you’d need to write in an Angular app to interact with a WordPress website through the WP-API.

Going back to our Gravity Forms example, they could release a node module that helps you work with their forms through the WP-API (or their own API). If they also released a node module that contained JS/CSS files, and possibly some templates or directives to render the forms, it would be really easy to use. (One problem is that it would have to be usable with different libraries, such as Angular, React, Backbone, Vanilla JS, etc.)

Is There Money in Node Modules?

Most node modules are free, it will be hard to incentivize product developers to create and maintain these. It may become a community thing, where developers release them as open source projects.

I believe the money will still be in plugins, since it’s easier to control licensing, and the market is used to paying for that. Javascript apps will still need a plugin on the WordPress side, to handle admin screens, custom API handling, etc.

What Developers Need to Do Now

Developers need to add their public plugin data to the WP-API at a bare minimum.

For example, a plugin like Advanced Custom Fields needs an easy to use admin interface to choose which fields are exposed to the API. Right now you can use a custom plugin, but plugins need to support this natively.

Beyond that, they should support the all the CRUD functions of the REST API by the time it’s fully merged into core next year. Plugin authors would be wise to begin exploring Javascript templating and interaction with their plugin through the API.

Market Disruption for Javascript-First Plugins

There is an opportunity for API/JS first plugins to disrupt the market.

By that, I mean plugins specifically built to interact with WordPress through a Javascript app. Most plugins are fully steeped in PHP and the “WordPress Way” of doing things, which is not always friendly to Javascript. Authors of plugins that are widely used might be slow to adopt this new method, which means their plugins will be difficult to use in apps.

Using our Gravity Forms example, if there were a forms plugin specifically built to be used in an app, I would use that instead. It would save me a lot of time, and I would be happy to pay for it.

I’m sure most large plugins will support the WP-API eventually, but by the time they get around to it, it might be too late. It will also be much harder for them to add JS/API support and templating, as opposed to someone who can start from scratch with that approach.

Decoupled WordPress

Custom WordPress admins are the most obvious thing that’s going to start happening. Calypso is the first large-scale example of that.

Let’s say you build a site for a Church, and they are not tech savvy. You could build a custom admin for them that only shows relevant menus like Sermons, Video, and Comments. You could create a custom page editor for them that only shows a couple of fields, like a video upload button, title, and description.

This could all be in a super fast single page web app built with AngularJS and the WP-API. Sure, it’s possible to hack up the WP-Admin with PHP and CSS, but it wouldn’t be as fast or as custom. You could also build them a mobile app to edit their site on the go using the same codebase, compiled with PhoneGap.

What does a decoupled WordPress mean for the future? Here’s what Chris Lema had to say:

In order to succeed in 10-15 years, WordPress will have to both embrace the outside edges of the broad adopting community (small businesses) and simultaneously extend itself to work within the enterprise as a good corporate citizen. Thankfully we’re doing the work around APIs that will enable both of those things.

You can imagine a lot of innovation around user interfaces that are detached from WordPress (which fully utilize the API) so that we can find the user experiences that small businesses can and will easily adopt.

And you can imagine the integrations that will be developed using the same APIs so that WordPress can talk and leverage connections to Oracle, PeopleSoft, SalesForce and more.

Innovation is Good

All of the things I’ve mentioned in this article are a pretty big departure from what WordPress has traditionally been used for. This is a good thing.

Technology needs to evolve or else it will be replaced by something newer and better, and this evolution of WordPress will help it flourish in the coming years. It also means there will be a lot of change.

WordPress and the micro-economies around it will also need to evolve, or they will be replaced. The most successful WordPress products in 5 years will not look like the ones today.

WordPress is 25% of the web today, will it be 25% of apps in 5 years? We’ll see.

The post Javascript, APIs, and the Future of WordPress appeared first on Scott Bolinger.

Coming up: version 16 for PC & Mac, aka QuickSilver!

This is the November 2015 edition of the Newsletter, with two announcements for important December releases. But first …

It’s Black Friday! So don’t forget our CLZ Black Friday sale:
»» Get a 1 year Update Plan or Connect subscription and get 6 months FREE! ««
(this sale ends on Cyber Monday, so 4 days left!)

Okay, back to the CLZ News. These are today’s topics:

  • Coming up in December:
    • Version 16 aka QuickSilver for Windows and Mac OS X.
    • CLZ Movies 4.0 for iOS.
  • New website, the home of our mobile apps.
  • CLZ Server Upgrades: Faster title searches and image downloads.

Coming up in December:

Version 16 aka QuickSilver for Windows and Mac OS X

2016 is coming up and so are our matching version 16′s! And yes, we’re sticking with the chemical elements for the version nicknames (although this time we’re cheating a bit).
After Cobalt and Carbon, version 16 will be nicknamed "QuickSilver"!

Here’s what’s new in the QuickSilver versions:

  • Webcam barcode scanning
    Use your webcam to scan barcodes into your Add Auto screen.
  • Remove Orphaned Images
    Automatically remove un-used images and thumbnails.
  • Enhanced database Backup and Restore system
    Keep multiple time-stamped backups and easily restore them.

ETA ??
The Windows v16 versions are almost ready and will be released early next week.
The Mac v16′s will follow a few weeks later. It’s taking a bit longer to achieve reliable webcam scanning on the (let me say this nicely) sub-optimal built-in Facetime cameras.

BTW: there will be no extra charge for version 16. All you need is a valid Update Plan!
(hint: we have a sale on Update Plans at the moment, see above –^)

CLZ Movies 4.0 for iOS

New 4.0 versions are coming up for all CLZ mobile apps, iOS and Android, featuring re-designed Add screens, more sort options, new folder options, etc…

First up is CLZ Movies for iOS. ETA: about 3 weeks from now?
All other apps will be updated right after that, don’t worry :-)

New website

Now live: a complete re-design of the website!

The home of our mobile apps for iOS and Android has a new look and new screen shots and is now super-fast.
More importantly: the new site is fully "responsive", which is web-dev speak for "automatically adapting to any screen size". In short: it looks great on desktop screens, tablets and phones.

Check it out here:

CLZ Server Upgrades

As you know, we’re moving all our sites, services, databases and images to a new hosting solution. Here’s what our web-team did in November:

Databases moved and optimized

Early this month we completed the move of all five Core+Cloud databases to 5 separate database servers. In the weeks after that, we further optimized these new servers for faster “Add Auto” search results, especially noticeable on Title searches.

Cloud and Connect now running on HTTPS

For better security, we have now moved both the Cloud and Connect websites to the HTTPS protocol, using so-called Extended Validation SSL certificates. This EV SSL connection is indicated by the nice "green bar" in your address bar.

Moving all Core and Cloud images

Last week, we started on the mega project of moving millions of cover images to a new online storage and delivery solution. In the meantime, the move has been completed for all game- and comic-related images, resulting in (much) faster downloads when adding games and comics to your database and when browsing Cloud and Connect pages.

The Story of Raspberry Pi | Raspberry Pi Zero | Jack Lang Business of Software Europe 2015 Talk

What started out as a project to boost the number of applications to Computer Science at Cambridge University by inspiring a generation of children programmers has turned into a worldwide revolution.

Today marks the release of Raspberry Pi Zero – a five dollar computer.


Just think.

Five dollars.

Jack Lang, Chairman of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and part of the original Pi Team, took to the Business of Software Europe stage to share the story of Raspberry Pi in 2015: It’s incredible journey from project, to world changer.

Transcript below for those short on time.


Jack Lang:  I’m a failed academic.  I used to be a respectable academic and then computing got the better of me [laughter].  So I live in the computer lab.  I also teach in the JBSC school and I start various companies.  Most IOT systems look much the same.  You have devices at the bottom that do…

“I’m a failed academic.  I used to be a respectable academic and then computing got the better of me”

That collect data all turn things on and off or do things like that, sensors and actuators. They talk typically to a local hub using a variety of transmission methods, but usually sending packets, using P packets typically or TCIP.  That hub talks to the cloud, typically using as a web server, and the cloud talks to either devices or to a server that collects data and does analytics and virtually all IoT systems look like that.

However, they live in silos.  This is one company’s IoT system.  Doesn’t talk to this company’s IoT system.  Doesn’t talk to this company’s IoT system.  And if IoT is going to go anywhere, we have to have horizontal standards so that I can buy a temperature controller from this company that talks to a hub from this company that talks to a third party analytics company and so on.  And we’re not yet seeing that.  So the common standard as the last speaker said for diverse horizontal integration discovery.

So say I am a thermostat in reading centigrade in freezer three and I need to talk to a power control center and so on.  Hypercat are beginning to give us this, is one approach but it’s not necessarily the only right approach.

Ok, this is the academic bit.  Adoption curves go typically, they’re not straight line, they’re not even square way, square function, as implies.  They typically almost nobody uses it and then everybody gets the idea and everybody uses it and then almost everybody’s bought one, use it whoever will.  So you’re getting your product to over this hump or to this curve where it becomes the defacto standard is the important thing to do if you want to win.  Anything you can do to get it adopted as the major thing people use, take this TCIP for example, here’s the way to go.  So a closed model where one company wants to control everything, think of Apple, means you have to think of every possible application you’re going to do and make it happen.

That means you have to talk each and every customer or have your distributors talk to every customer and that’s jolly hard work [laughter] or turn to the open model is that you get people working for you instead.  So instead of having a few distributors, you have lots and lots and lots of people who can you access your code and make it better and they work for you for free.  You reward them with status instead of with money and that’s a good thing for a small company.  So if you’re a small company starting up open source is great stuff because you get the world working for you, and specializing your product into their own particular vertical or their own particular market.
So let me tell you about the Raspberry Pi story.  Raspberry Pi is a small form of computer.  It’s about the size of a credit card.  Who’s got a Raspberry Pi?  Well pretty well everyone’s got one.  Good.  What are using it for?

Sp 2:  Media server.

Jack Lang:  Media server.  That’s one big use.  Teaching.  Home control.  Can we play the video?

Media server.  That’s one big use.  Teaching.  Home control.

Video: This is a Raspberry Pi.  It’s a credit card sized computer that costs around twenty five pounds designed to teach young people to program and is capable of doing all kinds of wonderful things.  Back in the eighties, kids had to learn how to code to use them and as a result, these kids grew up with an inbuilt understanding of how computers work.  Now we need more programmers than ever before, so to deal with this problem, some private people came up with the Raspberry Pi to reignite this spark.  It runs Linux a free operating system from an SD card, just like the one in your digital camera and it’s powered by a USB phone charger.  You just plug in a mouse and a keyboard, connect to a TV or monitor and you’re ready to go.  In schools, not only is Raspberry Pi a great way to learn programming skills as part of ICT.  There are also dozens of cross curricula applications like science, and music and all over the world, people are experimenting with Raspberry Pis and attending Raspberry Jam events where people of all ages are learning what can be done with a Raspberry Pi.  Since the first Raspberry Pi was shipped, we’ve seen examples of people using the Pi in a variety of amazing and interesting projects.  Taking advantage of it’s size, portability, cost, programmability, and connectability.  So whether you want to learn to make games, build robots, or even teach a bear to parachute, with Raspberry Pi, the sky is the limit.

Jack Lang:  Ok, thank you.  So it’s got lot’s of IO’s. Forty IO pins, ethernet, four USB ports, HDMI, camera, panel interface and so on.  It’s a quad core seven hundred processor, so it’s fairly powerful.  So you can run control systems and this web server on it.

Where did it start?  In Cambridge where I am a member of the faculty of computer science and in Cambridge we had a problem in about two thousand and eight.

Where did it start? In Cambridge where I am a member of the faculty of computer science and in Cambridge we had a problem in about 2008.”

The number of students applying to computer science in one of the foremost, in one of the best courses in the world was dropping like a stone.  We normally expect, admit about a hundred students and then we get, chosen from an application of five hundred students and that dropped down to about two hundred students.  We weren’t getting enough bright people to fill the course, so had a problem.  We thought one of the reason this might be a problem, might be happening was because when we grew up we had the BBC micro.  I helped, I was a part of the design team.  I did some of the operating system.  People have BBC micros or Sinclair machines that you had to program to make it do anything.  These days kids download, they don’t program.  You can’t, if you’ve got a cell phone, you can’t easily program it.  It’s a sealed unit.  You may be able to make an app, but you have to get the approval of the manufacturers to publish that app, so it’s a sealed box.  If you have a games console, you can’t make new games for it.  You have to get, the games are encrypted so the manufacturer can gain more revenue.  So kids don’t program.  So we thought that we could give them something that was cheap enough that they could break.  They might tinker with it and make some programs and we’d get more applicants.  So around two thousand and five, computer firms were expanding but getting fewer programmers, where in that, because we weren’t getting the applicants, we weren’t generating enough graduates so we weren’t getting enough graduate programmers.  School GSE computing was terrible.  There was something called ICT which was how to use Microsoft products [laughter].  The kids already knew that.  They’d been using Word since the age of three.  Various other people had noticed.  As Eric Schmidt said you’re throwing away your heritage.  University admissions had dropped by fifty percent.  Kids stopped programming, they downloaded and various other groups, in particular the Computing at School group which I recommend has formed to try and do something about this.  They campaigned and changed the A level syllabus.

So in February 2008 I wrote the paper saying what’s the BBC micro for today and various foreign travelers came along.  Eben Upton had been making small computers at Broadcomm to see what would happen.  David Braben who runs Frontier Technologies needed more games programmers and Alan Mycroft and Rob Mullins from the lab joined us and we built some prototypes and we would like to get, we wanted to get the BBC imprint on them.  The BBC had difficulty doing this because they’re now a corporate body and they can’t recommend one manufacturer over another.  So we took it down to Rory Cellen-Jones, the BBC correspondent and he said he can’t do anything about it but can I take a picture and put it on my blog?  So he put it on his blog and we got eight hundred thousand downloads.  So that demonstrated there was a market out there.  But then we had a problem.  We promised eight hundred thousand people that we were going to make a twenty five dollar computer and we didn’t know how.  [laughter]

The prototype was hand built and cost several hundred dollars.  So we got to work and I missed out, one of our founders who is an excellent engineer and he did some product engineering.  We learned about mass production very quickly and things like using the same value of resistor everywhere, eight hundred thousand downloads.  We watched the numbers going up.  And we raised some funding from Cambridge Angels as donations.  We were a charity.  We are set up as an academic charity.  We got some soft loans and things and we got together, we thought we might sell twenty thousand, ten thousand of these units worldwide.  We got together a kit for two thousand units.  We sent this off to a contract manufacturer iShare in Shenzen through a friend of a friend so we sent off a quarter million pounds worth of chips to a flat in Hong Kong which was the relevant address and held our breath [laughter].

“We thought we might sell twenty thousand, ten thousand of these units worldwide”

In the meantime we’d put some software that we had developed for it up on the web and we got sixty thousand downloads of software for a computer that didn’t exist. [laughter]

We’d announced that we were going to launch it in the fourth quarter of two thousand eleven.  On the seventeenth of February which is the middle of the fourth quarter of two thousand eleven we started getting social media messages, this was all a scam and didn’t exist because nobody had seen anything.  So we put up some prototypes on eBay and they went for two thousand pounds.  This was for a twenty five dollar computer.  [laughter]

So we realized we had a bit of a problem.  Then a large pallet arrived in my garage and we took one out and tested it and, by god, it worked.  [laughter]  We took out another one and tested it and that worked too.  [laughter]

So we were lucky with our manufacturer, but we realized that six people part time in a garage couldn’t satisfy the market.  So we did deals with Radio Spares and Farnell and changed to an IPR licensing model so we licensed and designed to them and they used their dollars to buy, to manufacture it.  They bought our stock.  We launched on the twenty ninth of February 2012, leap year’s day and we took both of their websites down [laughter].  These are multi-billion dollar companies.  We took their websites down.  We were getting seven hundred orders a second at the peak.  We sold a hundred thousand on the first day.  Don’t forget we only manufactured two thousand.  [laughter]

“So we had a small problem”

So we had a volume manufacturer.  We spun up two more CM manufacturers and one in Wales who approached us and they were very good.  It was the old Sony factory in Pencoed.  And we also we had to get various approvals.  If you’re selling a few thousand you can get away with this as a development board.  If you’re selling millions you have to get the right approvals, the CE, FCC, radiation, RoHS and all sorts of other things.  So that’s the factory in Wales that’s turning out eighty thousand a day at the moment, about two hundred thousand a week.  So regulatory issues, we had to go through the development process and get through that.  It turned out people are using this thing for all sorts of things other than educational use so that had implications for our charity status.  So we had to set up a separate company, selling as a non-academic use and start tackling worldwide problems like import tariffs.  In Brazil, if you import it as a finished unit, you pay a hundred percent import duty.  If you import is as components, you pay three percent.  That’s worldwide distribution.  That’s people who register it.  This was a app put up by one our users, a sixteen year old called Ryan and he put it up and people started registering it and that gives you an idea of the worldwide distribution of Pis.  We’ve sold about six million.  Typical uses are scratch, that’s the MIT educational language, Minecraft, there’s a Minecraft extension with an API to Python and Java so you can programmatically build walls,  [laughter]  XBMC media center.  More than five million, that’s out of date now.  It’s more like six million.  And the applicants for Cambridge went back up.  [laughter, applause]

It’s very popular in developing countries where low cost computing is important and the rest, models that use it for example, Rachel Pi which puts from World Possible, which puts onto an SD card, the Kahn Academy, the whole of Wikipedia, Gutenberg texts for schools, medical advice and so on and drops this in as a knowledge server into a school or into a community.  Lot’s of people doing IAT things.  That’s a beer fridge that you can monitor the temperature and you can also monitor the consumption.  It’s got it sitting on a weight sensor, so you can monitor who’s taking the beer out when.  If your eighteen-year-old son is stealing the beer [laughter] and not having the sense to refill it, to put it back with a can full of water.  [laughter].

That’s an engine testing rig run by Raspberry Pi.  That’s a holo lens.  We run Windows 10 IoT and that is a Raspberry Pi controlled robot with a virtual robot superimposed on it, holo lens.  That’s a garden control system which automatically waters your plants for you.  So the market will surprise you if you’re a startup.

“Fail early, fail often because you’ll only get to find out what the markets are like when you get out there.”

We didn’t think that we discovered this market accidentally.  Go for the low hanging fruit and get it out there.  Get other people using it and testing it.  The best is the enemy of the good.  If you wait til it’s perfect you’ll never ship something.  New skills are needed because we’re living in an age of global information and global accessibility.  What happens when every light bulb and every light switch has got an IP address and possibly a camera?  How’s the world going to look?

To me, science is not an optional extra, it’s part of the fabric of the way of the world is happening.  The way we’re teaching is changing.  Instead of having a boring lecturer like me sit up and talk to you, you do a bulk transfer online and the you spend the face to face time doing a tutorial.  So and about the hour we can school the matters.  It’s three hours a night in your bedroom.  It’s like learning a musical instrument, learning to code.  You see, then thousand hours the kids have to put in.  Ok, that’s the official end of the official part.

Sp4:  I’m bad at questions.  Jack, thank you so much.  [applause]  Questions?  Let’s start with Andy there.

Sp 5:  Firstly thank you for the BBC because that’s how I started learning to program in basic.  I think Raspberry Pi is an amazing project.  I’m involved in teaching primary school children to code.  What do you see as future products that we could do as an industry to help create a new generation of software engineers after Raspberry Pi?

Jack Lang:  Well I’m not going to announce our future projects because remember the Osborne company.  They announced these future projects before they finished selling the previous project and then people stopped buying them and they went bust.  I think the thing is to make it accessible and make it fun.  Physical computing works quite well to get the kids involved.  When they see something move or they can actually make it useful for them, take robots, for example, they get involved and get a thrill. Let them make mistakes because that’s the way they learn.  [long pause] Also, let the kids have ownership rather than the school have ownership and keep it locked up.  I’d say you probably have to talk to your IT people about allowing access to the internet.

Sp 6:  Alright, you talked about the need for change in schools, curriculum change and that kind of thing and you mentioned an organization that was set up to do that.  Are you seeing progress in that area and…

Jack Lang:  Very much so.  The GCSB and GC, the A levels have, the syllabus has changed to a real computer science syllabus from what was a computer user syllabus.  It’s a question of what you think the balance between computer users and computer designers should be.  I believe everybody should have at least basic knowledge of what’s inside the box otherwise it’s magic.  Advanced technology looks like magic.  You need to learn the spells.  The notion is you can make new spells if you know how the spells work.

Sp 4:  Rich.

Sp 7:  Jack, thanks for your work.  I got an SMS a couple of hours ago letting me know my washing machine finished running back in the states [laughter] thanks to Raspberry Pi there washing it.  So, to the interest in computer science and that kind of reversal of trend, what were some of the other factors there that were driving that?

Jack Lang:  Hard to say.  The economy possibly.  A change of emphasis in the media from computer programming being seen as a rubbish likely to be exported to China to seeing it as a real career move and possibly a future career.  It used to be that being a bank manager was thought to be a safe job.  Being a journalist or being a programmer, not safe.  Now it’s the opposite way around.  So I think it’s probably, I think it’s probably the change of direction so your grandmother doesn’t think programming is serious, it’s anything to spend your life doing.

Sp 7:  So are you generally seeing more optimism from your students?

Jack Lang:  More?

Sp 7:  More optimism, they feel better about the future?

Jack Lang:  I think more optimism and the gender divide is getting better as well.  It used to be we had no girls.  Now we have about twenty percent girls.  That’s still not enough.

Sp 4:  What are you going to do about it?

Jack Lang:  I wish I knew.

Sp 4:  I’m sure XXXX [crosstalk] will come up with something.  No, she’ll do something.  What do you think about the difference between, there’s a big move towards code in a day, or code in an hour, or learn to code and problem solving as a discipline in school.

Jack Lang:  I think learning to program which is where you do something to actually test it is the new Latin.  It’s a way of thinking, a compositional thinking is a new way about solving problems.

Sp 4:  My son is eight.  He is taught some computer science at school, but he doesn’t like thinking of himself as a coder or a programmer, but he spends sixteen hours a day on Minecraft if he can, which, and he’s a red stain expert.  He doesn’t think about his coding.  Are there different ways of teaching people and getting young people involved in coding?

Jack Lang:  I think you have to show it does something useful so if he discovers the program I think, to Minecraft so he can automate some of his, some of his moves, then he’ll back interested it and that will extend to other things.

Sp 4:  Ok.  There’s a question here.  John?  On there?

Sp 8:  Hi.  Can you hear?  Do you think there’s an analogy in how you teach people…

Sp 4:  Closer to you.

Sp 8:  Do you think there’s an analogy in how you teach people who are established in and running businesses a bit more about technology and engineering?  It’s very easy in an environment like this to expect somebody or more than one person to be technically capable given a tech related company, but I deal with many companies, some of them governmental, some of them not, and there still isn’t a pervasive understanding that you need to know about technology in the way that you wouldn’t employ someone who didn’t know about finance or didn’t know about time management, and these sort of initiatives to get children drawn in are understandable and important, but they don’t deal with the next ten of fifteen where we still have companies being steered by people who kind of still think it’s funny to laugh and say ha ha I’m not technical but, you know, if you went to a hospital and the consultant laughed and said ha ha I’m not medical [laughter] you probably wouldn’t accept that.

Jack Lang:  Yes, I think everybody should learn to program.  But you have to make it useful to them.  Particularly, for example, in the urban countries.  Imagine giving a farmer something to program when what he really needs is simple water.  If they can’t type, it’s not much use.  A smartphone would be much better for them where they can access market data, for example.  So his horse is a courses.

Sp 4:  Anymore questions?  I think we’ll end there and take a break.  As we’ve got one more lunch to get to know each other and then this afternoon some more great talks and also the lightening talks and then we’ll repair to the pub and pints.  I’ll say thank you very much indeed and for being here for the second morning.  Can’t wait for the afternoon.  Let’s all say thank you very much to Jack Lang and for being an inspiration to a new generation and of people that are going to solve problems and change the world. [applause]  We’ll play a little video on the way out.

Jack Lang:  I should ask…

Sp 4:  Oh hang on…

Jack Lang:  I should what you want.  You’re the guys who are going to change the world.  I’ve had most of my fun.  [laughter]  What do you want in the world?

Sp 4:  Violet, what do you want?  Microphone, sorry.  This is like that Steve Jobs one last thing.  [laughter]

Sp 9:  Equal opportunities.

Sp 4:  It’s a program.

Sp 9:  Yeah.  Just…

Sp 4:  Do you get equal opportunity at the moment?

Sp 9:  Well, yeah and I’m very lucky but I want equal opportunities for not just myself but for everybody.  [applause]

Jack Lang:  [laughter] Maybe that’s equal access to data.

Sp 4:  Anyone else?

Sp 11:  Peace.

Sp 4:  Peace, love.  [laughter, chatter]

Sp 12:  I would love it if my twelve year old daughter could not feel intimidated in a computer science class because it’s filled, because it’s a boys thing.  I hope she’s not the only one

Jack Lang:  Something strange happens between primary school and secondary school.  Primary school is about fifty percent male female.  Secondary school is male dominated.

Sp 4:  I think you’re doing a little bit to sort that [sounds like Violet].  I’m very afraid of my daughter [laughter] sake and otherwise.

Jack Lang:  Buy her Raspberry Pi and get her…

sp 13: Do you think that they, let’s hit him up.  Do you think that is due to…

Sp 4: {gestures at mic] Place at your mouth.

Sp 13:  XXXX I’m not really a techie per se, however, I have a twelve, err, an eleven year old daughter who I just signed up to hack lab for the summer and she’s artistic and that telling girls that they need to have to coding as part of their lives that they can’t really opt out of it even if it is a boy thing.  Do you think that the parent, to a certain extent it isn’t just down to schools, it’s down to parents supporting their girls in doing, in pursuing that sort of thing and then even within secondary school making sure that, for example, I volunteer at my primary school in the tech club and I’m the only woman who does it and I will endeavor to do that in her secondary school so that the girls within the secondary school, you know, I’ve learned to code through tech club at school and at night she takes adults, showing the way to certain extent for girls as much as hoping the teachers will do it, just to comment, really maybe that more than a question.

Jack Lang:  Exactly.  Professor Mitros said what you need is grandmothers to say yes that’s very good, what else could it do?  [laughter]

Sp 4:  Fantastic.  On that note, it’s lunch time.  We’ll call you back at the right time.  Thank you very much indeed, Jack.  [applause]  You’re fabulous.  Thank you.  Don’t worry, we’ll see you out.

Sp 4:  [conference close and credits / voiceover]  Thank you for watching that talk from business and software conference.  Hope you enjoyed it.  For more talks, go to or better still, come and join us at the next business and software conference.  They run in Europe and the US.  See you soon.


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NB015: Let Your Brand Take Center Stage with Ruben Gamez

Trying to avoid center stage? You can get all the benefits of building an audience without putting yourself in the spotlight. In fact, you don’t even have to be the center of attention to connect with your peers and build relationships with your clients. Allowing your brand to take center stage can bring your business the returns you’re looking for and the email list you want.

Ruben Gamez is here to tell us how you can stand back and let your work and your products speak for your brand. He is the creator and lead marketer for his website, but you’d never know it. He and his team put together professional business proposal templates for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and anyone looking to find work and build a business online, but you won’t see him speaking at conferences or selling on tv spots. That’s because he prefers for his business – his tool – to speak for itself. Find out how he built his audience through his own specially designed content marketing campaign, and how he designed a product that practically sells itself.

Topics Discussed

  • Creating and using drip campaigns to your advantage
  • Using your email list to your advantage for pre-sales and promotions
  • How to build an efficient contract team
  • Developing your skills and uncovering your skillset
  • How you can do content marketing for your blog
  • Find out why we don’t always trust Google


Check out for conversion tips and tricks

Get a proposal template from Ruben at

Follow along with all of the great things Ruben is putting together @bidsketch and follow him personally @earthlingworks on Twitter.

You Don’t Notice Evolution Until it Slaps You in the Face

Some Things Creep Up On You.

Change is like that. The world keeps on changing but you just don’t notice because you are so close to it but sometimes, something happens that makes you take notice.

Every time you walk into a newsagent, you pass shelves of magazines. Magazine publishing is highly competitive and shelf space is at a premium. One way publishers attempt to sell you their product over a rival’s is by giving away something cool on the cover – this is called a ‘Covermount’.

The Evolution of the Covermount

Computer magazine covermounts show us how much the world has changed.

Covermounts had been used before in publishing – Private Eye was one of the first publishers to use the idea in the 1960s when the magazine sometimes came with a free ‘flexidisk’. The NME did something similar in 1970s/80s – they were pretty rubbish – one play on the record player pretty much wiped the groove clean

When personal computers first became a thing, the world of publishing was an exciting place to be. People wanted information about computers and games and computing magazines became one of the fastest growing segments of the publishing market. (Still not doing badly when you consider shelf space in newsagents despite everything that has happened along the way).

The first magazines had things like this 1983 ‘Software Encyclopedia’. Listing software programmes for different types of machine.

Electronic Games 1983 Software Encyclopedia #1

Then, in 1984, came the ‘covermount’.

Covermounts for PC magazines started out as cassette tapes with demo versions of software, games, then floppy drives, then CD and DVDs. We have probably become a little immune to them.

Nowadays, computing magazines still exist. They still do covermounts giving software away.

Today Something Big Happened.

Raspberry Pi Foundation launched their new Raspberry Pi Zero – a working computer with 1GHz processor and 512Mb RAM – for £4 ($5 in the US).  They slapped a Raspberry Pi Zero onto the front cover of their User Magazine as a giveaway.

The magazine is £5.99.

I wanted to share a picture of it here. It had sold out in 12 newsagents by 10 am sadly…

Join the Business of Software Community + Get a free eBook.

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Bonus: On sign up, you will receive the free eBook on Software Pricing - 'Don't Just Roll the Dice' by Neil Davidson

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[91] Figuring Out Who Your Target Customer Is (And Why)

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Today’s topic is finding your Target Market.

Today’s topic grew from a recent workshop Brian conducted about building up and attracting people to your email list.  A recurring question was, “Who do you want to join your email list?”  It’s a question that also comes up at Audience Ops? Who are you writing for? What is your Target Market?

Identifying your Market

Know who you’re targeting – know the type of business, size of operation and to take it to the next level, identify the mindset of the business. During a trial, you can often look at a customer, learn about them and then contact them to let them know how you can provide value.

Brian feels the first question everyone should be asking themselves when they’re looking to launch a business is “Who do you want to serve?” Figure out what the problem is that you know how to solve, a solution that you believe in that you’ve seen before, then figure out who has the problem – and who thinks it’s an expensive problem that they’re willing to pay to solve.

If you go toward a problem and help people solve it, other opportunities show themselves. You can identify many different opportunities within the same problem space, but then identify what saves people money.

At Carthook, the issue isn’t getting trials – they are trying to get higher quality leads that have more order volume.  Identify which ‘lever’ you should pull first to get those quality leads?

Identify your audience and create an avatar of your ideal customer. Using a targeting message, identify the best channels to reach that customer when its Content marketing, email lists, podcasting, etc. Sending the right message to the right lead is what will lead to higher quality leads that convert to business opportunities.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please give us a five-star review and we’ll mention your handle on a future episode of the Bootstrapped Web Podcast. Head here to leave a review in iTunes.

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How to Build and Market a SaaS Business | Duane Jackson AMA Recap

 “With SaaS you need to win the customer every month – you need to retain them”

Meet a man with a ‘colourful’ and ‘non-traditional’ past. Duane Jackson.

Duane’s story is well documented. You can get a much deeper understanding here, when he took the stage with Mark to discuss his history which lead him from children’s home… to prison… to accounting software.

But when we caught up with Duane for an AMA, the advice was far more practical than the inspirational message he delivered at BoS. Duane built a successful accounting SaaS business incrementally for a number of years, before ‘upselling’ for an undisclosed sum reported to be in the region of £20 million. His marketing knowledge and natural business acumen are worthy of paying attention to – as are his words of advice.

Below is the hangout itself, but also some highlights from the AMA.

On Kashflow

  • Kashflow’s success was that it solved a problem, Duane’s problem. He couldn’t find a decent accounting software anywhere. Duane described it as a ‘painkiller, not a vitamin’. By this, he means it solves a problem – working with and for the entrepreneur to make their life better and remove unnecessary pain.
  • He knew Kashflow was a good product from the start, but really, he only knew he had a good business when he sat down with his mentor and did a forecast after someone offered to buy the company.

On the Exit Process

  • On why did he sell, Duane was honest. Money was of a course a big reason. There were also other reasons however. The key to building Kashflow was cracking the accountant market – that wasn’t as fun before. It had started to get really competitive. Zero and sage are on the up, aspects Duane had no control over. When a buyer with the right fit came along, it made sense to sell up then.
  • “Don’t put yourself on the yacht”. This was some of the advice Duane got from his mentor – Lord Young. He described the purchase process where often an offer will be received, despite those offering having every intention of reducing it once due diligence it received. The temptation would be to remove yourself from day to day business and start spending your money in your head. By avoiding this, when a lower offer is received, then you do not feel you still need to sell. Did Duane manage it? Yes. His wife didn’t.

Duane’s Golden rules for building a SaaS business

  • Look after the codebase – Kashflow codebase had been designed without proper structure which meant going back and making changes was difficult a few years on. In his defense, Duane says when Kashflow was written, best practices weren’t the same, but not they exits, it’s best to use them.
  • Not building stuff we don’t need to. Duane and his team spent a long time coding a complete solution. What would have been easier (both in terms of time coding and maintainance) would have been to take advantage of other services that existed, vs. doing them in house.
  • UI/UI: it’s important. Technical founders tend to believe the code make the difference, but really the html, css make a big difference.

3 lessons for marketing and PR – getting from zero to traction

  • PR – Do it yourself – Journalists want direct contact
  • Being available and being able to generate a sound bite – if you can help journalists – they’ll come to you for bigger things when the larger stories come and they need quotes.
  • Do stuff that other people are not doing. Put stuff in the post. Call people. Technical founders find it easier to code.

General Advice

  •  How do you split your time between coding and marketing? It’s not so much about how to split the time, it’s more about being disciplined with doing whatever you are supposed when you are doing it. Technical founders will so often revert back to the code base as the supposed answer to their problems.

Duane is now on a mission to prove his worth, living by the phrase ‘once you are lucky, twice you are good’. He has started a second SaaS company – A reporting platform which makes it easy for founders and managers to deliver consistent but more importantly, easy to create, monthly reports to stakeholders. The platform is free and always will be. Duane is looking for feedback on the product, so head on over and try it for yourself before dropping him a message on his twitter.

Join the Business of Software Community + Get a free eBook.

Get the latest updates from Business of Software free to you. You will receive conference news, blogs from some of the world's best leaders, and access BoS video content as soon as it goes live by signing up here.

Bonus: On sign up, you will receive the free eBook on Software Pricing - 'Don't Just Roll the Dice' by Neil Davidson








The post How to Build and Market a SaaS Business | Duane Jackson AMA Recap appeared first on Business of Software USA.

Thank You

This Thanksgiving, we hit a milestone at Groove. And we’re grateful to you for helping us make it happen.

Today’s post is number 200.

Between this and our support blog, this is the 200th blog post we’ve published on Groove’s site.

The number doesn’t mean a whole lot on its own, but it seems fitting to hit a round milestone on a day like today.

Thanksgiving is, to many, a reminder to be grateful.

To reflect on what you have, and how lucky you are.

In the grander scheme, the news around the world makes it crystal clear that the simple fact that you’re able to read this blog post today means that your circumstances are something to be incredibly grateful for.

I’m grateful for my family, my friends, my team and the wonderful work I get to do every day, among many other things.

And as I think about the number 200 and what it means—that 200 times now, we’ve put our hard work out into the world and enough people have deemed it valuable enough to read and share that these blogs drive the bulk of our business’ growth—I’m so, so grateful to you for being a part of our journey.

I look at blogs around the web, and I’m grateful for the strength and liveliness of our community here.

The discussions we typically have in the comments go so far beyond the superficial link-spamming that many blogs suffer from, in wisdom, complexity and passion, and our whole team learns a tremendous amount from the community here.

I’ve written before about how gratitude makes me a better founder, and Len explored some research that actually backs that up in his Thanksgiving Customer Gratitude Challenge this week.

In a perfect world, gratitude would be a year-round pursuit.

But we don’t live in a perfect world, and many of us—myself included—often need a little reminder.

Thanksgiving serves that purpose well.

So today, instead of talking about growth, marketing, churn, entrepreneurship or any of the other topics we usually explore…

I’m just saying thanks to all of you who read, share, comment, teach us and learn with us along the way.

I really appreciate it.

SaaStr on First “Zero to Won” Podcast with RainforestQA and Heavybit

A little while ago we did a podcast at Heavybit with RainforestQA CEO Fred Stevens-Smith as the first speaker in a new series of “Zero to Won” on the tools founders use to build great companies.  It was a great session and was just published today.

For those of you that podcast, it was a fun one where we talked about scaling past the first $1m in ARR, content marketing, and more.  Fred is a strong interviewer so I look forward to the other speakers he’ll bring to the series.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 12.03.32 PM

Soundcloud here:

The 16 Best Pinterest Tools for Social Media Marketers


It’s easy to waste hours every week on social media, doing things that could be automated…

…or at the very least done faster with the right tools.

Add up those few hours a week, and you’ll see that the average social media marketer easily wastes over 100 hours a year.

I’m guessing you have better things to do with your time than mess around on social media.

In this post, I’ll address one network in particular—Pinterest.

The massive, image-based social media site is one of the best for finding new customers:


The average user on Pinterest has money and is willing to spend it.

That being said, Pinterest isn’t for every business. Considering that Pinterest is dominated by American women (68% female), it works better for certain niches than for others.

If you’re not sure if Pinterest is right for your business, check out my complete guide to creating a social media strategy.

Assuming that Pinterest is a good fit for you, you want to make sure that you have the right tools for the job.

Tools can help you:

  • save time
  • get better results (more pins, repins, and traffic)
  • be consistent (less effort on your part)

I’ve compiled a list of the 16 best Pinterest tools for social media marketers. I’ve divided them into four main categories.

You won’t need all of them, but if you pick one from each section, you’ll save a lot of time and get a lot more out of your time on Pinterest. 

For posting content easily and more efficiently

The tools in this section all make your life easier by helping you post images to Pinterest faster.

Not only that, but most of them also provide some sort of a visual schedule, so you know if you’re posting as much as you’d like.

Let’s jump into tool #1…

1. Buffer: Buffer needs to be included in any list of social media tools for the big networks.

While it originally did not have support for Pinterest, it does now.

Buffer does a few things and does them really well. It allows you to:

  • pin images automatically – Buffer will automatically pin content to your account when you tell it to (you have to supply the content).
  • create a posting schedule – you tell Buffer which times of the day (and which days) you want to make posts.
  • easily add images to your queue - Buffer pulls images from your queue in the order you add them. You can add images to your queue using the tool or browser extensions.
  • post to multiple networks - although we’re concerned only with Pinterest here, you can also connect your Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn accounts. Then, you can tell Buffer to post the same image to any of those accounts as well.

After you’ve created a Buffer account, the first thing you want to do is connect your Pinterest account.



All you need to do is authenticate the app with a click of a button.

Next, you’ll want to head over to your schedule tab. Here, pick the days you’d like to post, the number of times you’d like to post each day, and specific times to post.


The final piece of the puzzle is to add content to your queue. From there, Buffer does all the hard work.

Like I mentioned before, you have a few different options to do this.

First, you can add the content through Buffer itself. Go to the content tab to see your existing queue, and then add a post into the text area. Make sure your Pinterest account is highlighted (which will allow you to pick a board to post to).


If you ever return to your queue, Buffer will show you a list of any content you’ve added, organized by the time it’s supposed to be posted.


Additionally, you can install the Buffer browser extension.

Once you do, you will see a “share image” button on any image you come across on the web. Click it, and a message composer will come up, which will allow you to customize the message and add it to your queue:


Finally, on top of allowing you to schedule pins automatically, Buffer will also show you the performance of each pin as well as your account overall. You can see the number of followers you’re gaining as well as the amount of engagement you’re getting on your pins:


2. Tailwind: Like Buffer, Tailwind is a tool that allows you to schedule pins.

However, it’s a tool specifically designed for Pinterest. This is a good thing if you only focus on Pinterest for your business. It’s a bad thing if you also use other networks because then you’ll need extra tools to handle them.

It also has a few extra features that you might find useful.

First, create your Tailwind account, and let it access your Pinterest account. It would also be a good idea to add the browser extension at this point.

Just like in Buffer, you can go to the settings and set your own schedule for posting.

Once you do, you can click on “create new pin” in your main schedule tab, which will bring up a window that is similar to what you’d see on Pinterest:


This same window will also pop up on any webpage if you click the Tailwind button that shows up on an image (if you’ve installed the extension).

Pick your board and description, and indicate whether you’d like to post it to Facebook or Twitter. It does have that feature even though it doesn’t support those networks beyond it.

At any time, you can return to your schedule tab and see the pins you have in your queue and when they’ll be posted.


You can also see a nice visual schedule in the right sidebar.

Once you’ve made some pins, you can go to the “pin inspector” (using the left side menu) and see how each individual pin performed. You can sort it by any engagement metric.


You can also dig in further and let Tailwind analyze all your boards to see which one gets the most engagement for each pin.


If you see that one board has a high engagement and virality score, you should focus more of your effort on it. Conversely, you may want to delete any low performing boards.

Overall, it’s a very complete tool and can replace 2-3 smaller Pinterest tools. There’s a lot more beyond the essentials I went over here.

3. ViralTag: This is another good option when it comes to scheduling pins, but it isn’t quite as in-depth as the first two options. But this could be a good thing if you’re just looking for the bare minimum.

The first thing you’ll want to do is create an account. Then, drag the ViralTag bookmarklet into your browser.


It creates a little bookmark on your bookmarks bar.

Whenever you’re on a page with images, you can click the bookmarklet, and a pop-up window will show you all the images on the page:


Click each image to add a checkmark to the top left corner (or click again to take it away).

If an image is checked, you’re telling ViralTag that you want to share that image.

After you click Next, you’ll have the option to choose which board to post the images to as well as to set a time and provide other image information:


You can always go back to your ViralTag account and change any of that information:


This tool is best for marketers who typically post images others have created (which is fine on Pinterest with attribution).

You can quickly add several images to your queue while you are browsing other boards on Pinterest.

4. IFTTT: IFTTT stands for “If this, then that.” It’s an automation tool that you can use in many areas of marketing.

Not only is it incredibly useful but it’s also free.

Here’s how it works:

  • you define “this” - specify an action. It could be a post being published or something being shared. “This” is some sort of action.
  • you define “that” – another action that you specify. When the “this” event occurs, the tool will automatically do the “that” action that you specified.

The combination of both is called a recipe. Here are a few examples:


You can use IFTTT with just about any website, including most social networks.

The great thing is that you don’t need to come up with recipes yourself. Chances are other marketers have already come up with and published the recipes you could benefit from.

Here are the top IFTTT recipes for Pinterest.

Let me show you how to set up a recipe once you find one that looks useful.

If you’re on Pinterest, you might also be using another image-based social channel—Instagram.

This recipe automatically posts any picture you post on Instagram onto a Pinterest board:


First, you’ll need to connect each channel. You only have to do this once for each account.


Click the “Connect” button, and give IFTTT access to each account.

Then, all you will see is an Add Recipe button:


Click this, and the recipe will be activated. That’s it!

5. Hootsuite: Hootsuite has been one of the top tools for social media marketers for years.

It’s received some criticism for not evolving as quickly as other tools, but it still has all the core features you’ll need.

Something that’s really cool is that Hootsuite can be integrated with other tools we’ve looked at when it comes to Pinterest.

For example, Hootsuite can be integrated with Tailwind.


You get to use all the features of both Tailwind and Hootsuite.

And if there’s one thing Hootsuite excels at, it’s letting you create a great dashboard.

As you can see from the picture above, you can get a lot of useful information on your screen, like a list of your scheduled pins and your calendar.

You can control which panels are shown on your account. Click “+ Add Stream” at the top of the dashboard, and choose from the many options.

The other common option for Hootsuite integration is ViralTag. Again, you can schedule pins, see how your recent pins are performing, and edit any scheduled pins before they go live.


Hootsuite by itself isn’t a great option, but when you combine it with ViralTag or Tailwind, it can be. It’s especially useful if you like what those other tools can do but don’t like their interface.

Make the most of Pinterest

This next batch of tools help you use Pinterest more effectively (and more efficiently).

If you use them as intended, you will be able to get more pins, more traffic, and a higher conversion rate.

6. PinGroupie: One of the most underrated tactics for getting traffic from Pinterest is becoming a part of group boards.

Any member of the group can contribute to such a board.

Some boards have tens of thousands of members, and a large chunk of those are active members.

When you pin something on one of those boards, it’s automatically going to be seen by thousands of users. If you’re posting interesting images, you can regularly get hundreds of pins.

And all of this is without a following of your own.

The tough part is finding these groups. After you do, you usually have to send a request to join. As long as your account looks natural, you typically get accepted.

PinGroupie is a simple tool that makes finding groups much easier.

It’s basically a database of high-activity Pinterest groups. You can search the database for groups that fit your niche.


There are a few different ways you can use the tool:

  1. specify a category - using the category drop-down menu, you can pick a broad category you want to see. This is best if you have an authority site that covers many topics in a niche.
  2. filter by title – you can enter a word in the “title” box and then click the “filter” button to see groups with that word in the title.
  3. filter by description - you can also enter a word in the “description” box and click the “filter” button to see groups with that word in the description. This is better in most cases since descriptions have more words than titles.

All three ways can work, so try them all, and make a list of groups to join.

After you get accepted to them, make sure you’re not spamming them with your own content. Contribute other content on a regular basis.

7. PinAlerts: Pinterest does something neat. When someone repins something you originally pinned, it sends you a notification.

That allows you to do things like follow that person in the hopes that they follow you back. This leads to more pins in the future.

You know what would be even more useful? Getting a notification every time someone pinned something from your website.

If you’re using high quality pictures in your blog content, many of your readers will pin them.

If you knew when they did this, you could not only follow them but also repin their original pin of your image and possibly comment as well.

If you haven’t guessed yet, this is a tool that sends you a notification when someone pins something from your site.

There are three steps to set it up.

First, you enter your domain into the tool. Then, you choose what kind of alerts you’d like to receive. Finally, you press the button to create it (hard, I know).


It’s not pretty, but it works.

8. LoveList: This tool is really useful if you find yourself in stores a lot.

It was originally created when a couple was trying to put together a wedding registry but couldn’t find an easy way to do it.

So, they created this tool.

You scan the barcode of products in stores with your phone, and the tool will automatically pin pictures of those products to a Pinterest board (that you specify).


This tool won’t be for everyone. However, if you run a business about a hobby, let’s say home decorating, you might find yourself in decorating stores often, especially if you’re really passionate about it.

You might as well make the most of your time and load up your Pinterest account while you’re doing it.

9. Loop88: Some marketers are great at building social media accounts and getting highly engaged followers.

However, it’s not always easy to convert that into profit.

This tool was created to connect popular pinners to advertisers.

Fair warning: To get accepted, you will need a fairly popular account.

They work with brands of all sizes, including big ones. For example, the TV show “The Mindy Project” wanted to build brand awareness.

They paid pinners (through this tool) to post quotes from the show:


I don’t know the exact payouts from this tool, but I think a moderately popular account could make an extra few hundred dollars a month.

It’s just another way to generate some revenue with your social media efforts without too much extra work.

Get more shares and traffic with these tools

Let’s shift directions a little bit…

Now I want to share some tools that will help you get more pins and overall traffic from Pinterest.

Considering these are two of the most important metrics when it comes to Pinterest marketing, these tools are pretty useful.

10. SumoMe Image Sharer: This tool is actually a website plugin that will take you just a few minutes to install.

However, it can lead to hundreds or even thousands of extra pins over time. Oh, and it’s free.

When a reader of your blog sees an amazing picture on your website, what do they do?

In most cases, nothing.

Even if they have a Pinterest account, only a small portion of those readers will think to share the image.

Why? Because nothing prompts them to make the connection that this picture might be a good one to pin.

Additionally, some won’t pin it because they’re lazy.

You’re missing out on extra pins and traffic because of this.

The image sharer tool allows you to add floating buttons to all your images.


You’ve likely seen it before on other blogs.

Now, readers of your blog can just click the Pinterest button, allowing them to post an image in under 30 seconds.

You can also add other network buttons to your images, but typically the Pinterest button will work best. 

11. Pinterest widgets: Sometimes, we look to other tools to do some extra things we need. Pinterest actually has a really useful widget creator tool that can create attractive widgets for your website.

There’s no need to find other tools to use if you’re looking to highlight your Pinterest account or recent pins somewhere on your website (usually the sidebar).

You can pick from a variety of different widgets in the tool. Click one of the boxes to select a widget.

In the example below, I picked a board:


You add the URL of the board and pick a size, and then you can see what it will look like in the preview.

After, it will generate a code that you can copy and paste into your website.

You can also feature your Pinterest profile as a whole or as a single pin, or you can create pin and follow buttons.

The default design will follow the standard Pinterest color scheme, but you can always edit the CSS to create a custom display.


12. Rich pins validator: On top of regular pins, it’s also possible to create “rich pins.”

These pins stand out among regular pins and typically get extra shares and engagement (Target got 70% more traffic with rich pins).

These pins consist of an image and also have useful information for users.

Here’s an example of a film rich pin:


You can see why that would stand out from just an image of the movie cover as a regular pin.

On top of movies, you can also create rich pins for:

  • Places
  • Articles
  • Products
  • Recipes

In order to get rich pins to show up when you pin content from your site (or someone else does), you need to have open graph (OG) schema markup on your articles.

Once you do, Pinterest will pull information from those meta tags to use.

The easiest way to do this is by using the SEO plugin by Yoast.

Go to the social settings tab in the plugin, and then go to the “Facebook” tab first. Check the “Add open graph meta data” (both Facebook and Pinterest use the same ones).


Next, go to the Pinterest tab in the settings.

Here, click the link to “verify your site with Pinterest.” This will take you to Pinterest to get a meta tag to add to your site. Add this tag into the space here, and save changes.


Some meta tags will be added to posts automatically.

However, you’ll also want to go into your posts (in the WordPress editor) and scroll down past the content.

You’ll see a box for “Yoast SEO” and a tab for “Social” with a few meta tag fields:


Fill them out for Facebook, and Pinterest will take them when appropriate.

Now back to the tool: I suppose we’re looking at two tools together here. On top of the Yoast plugin, you can now use the rich pin validator.

This will allow you to input a URL from your site into the URL debugger, and it will tell you if everything is set up okay or not.


If all is well, you’ll get a success message:


Create high quality images that get more pins

The final category of tools can help you get even more pins.

To get pins and repins, the main thing you need is great images.

These tools will help you create those images even if you’re not much of a designer.

13. Snappa: You are a marketer, not a designer. While it’s good to have some design skills, chances are you don’t have the time to master Photoshop.

With modern tools, you can still produce awesome pictures perfect for Pinterest.

Snappa is one of them. It’s actually designed specifically for marketers.

When you create an account, you’ll see that you can pick from different image sizes:


In this case, we want the Pinterest pin size, of course.

This will bring up a new screen with different templates on it. You can either choose one of these or create an image from scratch:


This will bring you to the actual image editing window.

Using the menu at the top, you can control what shows up in the left panel. When you click something in the left panel (like a background or graphic), it will be added to your image on the right:


The beauty of this tool is how easy it is to edit the image.

You can click any element and then drag it to move it, drag a corner to resize it, or press Delete to delete it.

If you use the templates, you can easily make your own custom images in less than 5 minutes each. And they look great.

14. Canva: Canva is a lot like Snappa, but it came first. It’s not specifically designed for marketers, but it still has a fair number of templates that will be useful to you.

For pins, click the “More” button under the “Create a design” section on the home page (once you’re signed in):


Then, click “Pinterest Graphic”:


Again, when you’re editing your image, you’ll see two main parts: your image on the right and options on the left.

Start by going to the “layouts” tab on the left, which has a bunch of great templates to choose from:


In addition, you can add text and graphics or change the background using the other tabs.

Of course, you can edit the image itself on the right. Refer to this guide for more detailed instructions on creating your own images using Canva.

15. Pablo: Canva and Snappa are both amazing and simple to use tools. Pablo is even simpler.

If you doubt your design skills and want the easiest option possible, this is it.

This tool was created by the Buffer team, who obviously understand the needs of social media marketers.

On the side menu, choose the “Tall” picture size, which is the perfect size for Pinterest.


Then, pick a background from the left side menu:


Click on the text, and add a custom quote or message your audience will like.

Obviously, this tool is a bit more limited than the others, but it’s a great way to make beautiful pictures with quotes on them, which often get a ton of pins and comments.

16. Picmonkey: Sometimes, you will find a picture you’d like to share, but it doesn’t look good enough to pin.

That’s where a tool such as Picmonkey can be useful. You can change all aspects of the picture such as:

  • contrast
  • direction (rotation)
  • sharpness
  • brightness
  • color


On top of those useful editing features, you can also add filters to enhance the look of pictures (just don’t go overboard with them).

Click the little flask icon on the left menu, and you’ll get a list of different filters. Click on a filter to apply it to the image on the right:



Pinterest is one of the best platforms for social media marketers.

However, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best return on your time and effort.

I’ve shown you 16 awesome tools you can use to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your Pinterest marketing.

I don’t expect you to use them all, but it’d be a good idea to try a few at a time until you determine which ones fit well into your marketing.

I’d also like to hear about any great tools I missed in this post, so leave me a comment below and let me know about them.