Q&A with Ben Townsend, content creator and host of RaffleWP

Featured Image rafflewp ben townsend

I enjoy the ability to meet people online. There is very little like bonding with someone on Twitter or Facebook because of WordPress, content, or love for a sport.

The person may be hundreds of miles away or on a different continent, but ultimately we can see how small this world is sometimes.

Such is the case with Ben Townsend. I met him on Twitter last year. One thing I really appreciate about Ben, aside from his love for WordPress, is his passion for creating good content.

He ran a successful blog, but then recently, he transitioned to RaffleWP. The WordPress website allows companies to run WordPress giveaways. RaffleWP hosts the giveaways and helps those with WordPress products get the word out.

The company fills a niche to help developers get their products in the hands of consumers.

Today, Ben Townsend of RaffleWP answers a few questions for us about who he is, what he likes to do for fun, his place in WordPress, and more.

What do you like to do when you aren’t doing WordPress and techy stuff?

All the usual stuff, love spending time with the family, it’s hard to get the work/life balance, but it’s important to me to make the time where possible.

To unwind, I’m a movie buff, love film, and binge-watching TV shows (where I can) also a gamer, despite my years often found playing Call Of Duty and swearing at the TV (due to my lack of skills).

What book or resource had the biggest impact on your career?

I want to say it was a book, and I really should read more, it’s on my list of things to do this year, read more.

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I can’t pinpoint an exact source as it’s dribs and drabs from various online sources, a little of this a bit of that.

WP Beginner, WP Mayor, WP Tavern are some of the resources that have helped shape my career, please the advice and guidance of others from various forums and social media messages.

What are your top three pieces of advice for other WordPress Professionals?

Don’t give up. I’ve done that several times over the year. Whether it’s building a theme a plugin or creating content, don’t give up.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve reimagined a project because I wanted quick gains. It doesn’t work like that, an old adage but one that rings truer now than ever before, you only get out what you put in. It’s a long game, don’t get disheartened.

Reach out to others; you’d be surprised how helpful others can be if you just ask. It might sound weird, and don’t let pride get in the way, ask questions, ask for help on social media, ask for opinions .etc.

Lastly, help others. An absolute must, if you take, give back. No matter how small, give something back.

What kind of tools/apps do you use to keep yourself on pace?

I use Grammarly, I’m not the best at grammar, and it helps speed up post creation without worrying too much about commas here and there. When you’re creating content, it can be off-putting (well, at least for me) when you read it back, and it’s littered with tiny grammatical errors.

It makes the process quicker for me, and I’m all for working smarter. That’s probably the only app I use. I consider WordPress a tool if that counts! Without it, I wouldn’t be able to create content for others to read!

How do you want to see WordPress improve in the future?

From a user perspective (as opposed to a developer as I’m not one), I think it’s pretty darn good as it is.

Gutenberg (the elephant in the room for many) is the way forward for me, and it is the future of WordPress.

I can see why some don’t like it, mainly from a development view, as a user, it’s simple to use and makes the content creation process a breeze.

Let’s face it WordPress has evolved into a CMS as opposed to just a blogging platform, making the content creation process more straightforward, is the future.

Gutenberg has come on leaps and bounds of late, and I see no signs of that abating.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received in life and business?

Always be yourself.

It probably sounds kind of lame, but it’s true. If you’re writing for your blog, use your voice, develop your own persona. Never try to be something you’re not; you will come unstuck, lose heart, and abandon projects. Trust me; this has happened to me in the past.

If you were advising a new website designer, what would you tell him or her?

I’m not a designer, as such, but thanks to WordPress, I’ve developed skills I never in my life would dream of being able to do. I’d probably say something like:

Make sure accessibility is at the forefront of any new website, ensure the page speed is super quick on mobile and desktop.

You get those two things right from the beginning, add a pinch of quality content, keyword research, and decent imagery you’ll do well.

Screenshot: RaffleWP
Screenshot: RaffleWP

Why did you decide to start RaffleWP?

Where do I begin on this one?

I started RaffleWP as I am sick to death of reading spammy affiliate crap that permeates Google like a plague. Best themes for this, best WordPress plugins for that, it’s just blatant lies, these blogs have never even used half of what they recommend, and it needs to stop.

These types of blogs about WordPress just ruin it for users, and put people off of products, be theme plugins/themes or services. They are not to be trusted in truth.

Couple this with the fact, and it is a fact, WP designers and developers struggle to get exposure for their products. The WordPress landscape is awash with products, great users. Getting seen, being heard, it’s a whole new ball game.

I’ve spoken to numerous developers, who incidentally have been nothing if not excellent. They all share the same pain points, by and large, the biggest one is visibility or lack thereof.

Many of the top WordPress blogs, charge for sponsored posts, so if you’re a developer and want some exposure, it’s going to set you back.

The problem is, many developers/designers don’t have the financial ability to do so, and many of them, by their own admission, are not comfortable with marketing.

They see a sponsored blog post opportunity as a quick win; the vast majority of them are majorly disappointed with the uptake and are left disheartened.

So I sat down and thought to myself, how can I create a buzz around WordPress products?

One that appeals to users, non-spammy, and could be kind of fun for me, and allow me to build up a network of developers and designers to work with? Perhaps offer advice, share ideas?

RaffleWP offers visitors a way to win WordPress plugins, WordPress themes, or services. Through the power of giveaways!

It’s an excellent way for WordPress makers to get some exposure and let their product do the talking, no sponsored blog post, no spammy affiliate junk, just a good old fashioned giveaway.

It costs nothing to run a giveaway on RaffleWP. If a developer/designer or service provider has an affiliate program, I’ll join it and use affiliate links.

If they don’t have one, I’ll still run the giveaway regardless.

What are some of your future goals for your business / RaffleWP?

Well firstly is growing the site and working with WordPress product makers, I’ve had an excellent response from them and love the fact the site can help.

But, it can only help them and users by participation and growth. So I have lots of plans for growing the site. I’m looking to branch out into more areas still within RaffleWP, add more content, more reviews and do my level best to help promote products in professional fun and engaging ways, without being one of those spammy crap blogs!

Wrapping it up

I think Ben is the type of person who likes to help people. I have always been impressed with his willingness to be transparent.

He has written review posts for various products for a long time, and now he has a platform to help even more.

I think Ben is an excellent example of how you can use your skills to help solve a problem.

Check out Ben and RaffleWP to learn more.

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