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March 2021

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E140 – Helping Non-Profits Master Recurring Donations (Michelle Frechette, Give)

In today’s episode, Joe talks to Michelle Frechette of GiveWP, the perfect online fundraising platform to increase your online donations, manage donors, and gain insight on your effort — all from directly within your WordPress website.

Michelle enthusiastically retells her fundraising expertise at GiveWP. She shares her fool-proof strategies on getting recurring donations and sustaining a good relationship with fundraising donors.  

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:18 Welcome back to the pod, Michelle!
  • 04:36 What’s unique about WP Coffee Talk podcast?
  • 05:50 Having thoughtful guests and a few long pauses
  • 09:07 What is a recurring donation?
  • 11:16 Tips to keep recurring donations
  • 16:03 Is a regular email reminder ideal to keep donations coming?
  • 19:53 First donation and 30-second videos 
  • 22:22 Payment processes should stay on site to retain trust
  • 26:22 On-site payment: one-time versus recurring
  • 28:53 Different features for donors at GiveWP
  • 32:16 Other payment options 
  • 35:06 GiveWP is not a full functioning CRM
  • 37:26 Active assistance for customers 
  • 39:06 Is GiveWP headed to being a CRM?
  • 41:16 Where to find Michelle online 

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Howdy folks, Joe Howard here today, I got to sit down and chat with Michelle for Frechette. Now, if you don’t know Michelle, she is such a breath of fresh air, man. I always feel, you know, those people, when you have a call with them and you jump off the call and you just feel better, you just feel more positive.

Well, Michelle is one of those people. I always just get such positive vibes from her. It’s really infectious. And she’s also just a real expert, has a lot of experience, both just professionally in nonprofits and at give. Around their donation plugin. She just has a lot of experience helping nonprofits do better.

So we got to chat a lot about donations one-time versus recurring donations. That was a big focus about how to help if you’re an agency or a freelancer, how to help the nonprofits you’re working with do better in one of the areas that’s most important to them, which is driving donations. To the organization.

So it was a lot of fun to chat with her. I actually figured out that this halfway through the episode, I was just like, wow, this is I’m going to have to shoot this episode to our support team so that they can listen and hear some of the things Michelle has to say about helping nonprofit clients. Cause maybe we could do some of this stuff or focused on some of this stuff a little bit more so super valuable episode.

I hope you enjoy. And without further ado, please welcome Michelle Frechette. Enjoy today’s episode.

WPP MRR. WordPress podcast is brought to you by WP bus. WP buffs manages WordPress websites, 24 seven and powers digital growth for agencies, freelancers and WordPress professionals. Join our white label program. And by next week, You could be offering 24 seven white label website support to your clients and possibly growing your monthly recurring revenue or become a WP box affiliate to earn 10% monthly payouts every month for the lifetime of every client.

And finally, if you’re looking to sell your WordPress business or website, check out the WP bus. Acquisition unit learn more about all3@wpbuffs.com. Right? This week I have the opportunity to talk with Michelle Frechette. So Michelle we’ve been friends for a little while, but I don’t know if everybody in the WordPress space.

Knows you, if they don’t, they should, it tells folks a little bit about stuff to do with WordPress.

Michelle Frechette: [00:02:29] Sure. Thanks for having me back, John. I was thinking about the fact that the first time I talked to you, we, it was a video call and I was in St. Louis and I had just started working for give and do, and I got on a talk together just to see like, well, how could we help each other’s businesses out?

And so that was kind of cool. That was three years ago, who knew, but yeah, so I’m the head of customer success for give WP. I also have my own little podcast called WP coffee talk, and I just a whole host of other things that I like to give back to the community. Specifically, Wednesdays, I tweet out job opportunities for people, and that seems to go really well.

That gets a lot of traction and people seem to, um, to really enjoy it and put them back to WP career pages where I just list out. Career pages, dumpsites and things like that on different companies, websites. So just lots of

Joe Howard: [00:03:19] opportunities to give back. I love it. Yeah. I see that on Twitter. I don’t know if I knew it was every Wednesday, but definitely every once in a while I’m on Twitter.

I’m like it’s Michelle’s day for tweeting out jobs stuff, because I see all the job you’re tweeting out and it seems like a really cool opportunity. Cause I like the idea of like helping people find. Opportunities that fit them. I’ve talked with a few other business owners in the WordPress space and like the one consistent thing I feel like we all have in common is where like I’m looking to like hire someone for something, whether that’s a full-time hire or a freelancer to do X, Y, or Z.

Most of us are looking to hire somebody. And so the ability for us to share within the community, like, Hey, I know this content writer. I think they’d be a good fit over with you. Maybe you two should talk and just doing that could like make a connection that really has a huge effect. So yeah, I did. Yeah.

I

Michelle Frechette: [00:04:06] just randomly choose different companies and unless people specifically telling me that there’s something they’d like me to include. So I just try not to do the same, the same companies every week, but puffs have it in there once or twice now highlighting different positions that you have opened.

Just, it’s just a good opportunity for people to see, like in one place. That there’s a lot going on and there’s opportunities to be, to be employed and to, to

Joe Howard: [00:04:26] reach people. Yeah, for sure. And podcasts, obviously we have to talk about that folks that are listening on a podcast right now, they should go download another WordPress podcast, coffee talk.

Tell folks like the quick description of what the show is, is just sitting down a cup of coffee. I’ve been on the show. So I know, but tell folks what’s about, that’s

Michelle Frechette: [00:04:45] exactly what I actually ask. Every single guest, the same set of questions. Of course, everybody has different answers and that makes it pretty cool.

I think of myself kind of like the James Lipton of WordPress, like, you know, the same set of questions to every guest and that’s what makes it fun actually. So whether you have just your website. And you’re a business owner and you’re using WordPress for the first time. And it’s brand new to you or you’re Matt Mullenweg and you are one of the co-founders and CEO of automatic.

I asked you all the same questions. And so, and those, both of those things have happened. I’ve had guests from six out of seven continents. I just published my a hundred and third episode in two years. And, uh, I got about 30, more in the can that are ready to go out as soon as I can. You know,

Joe Howard: [00:05:28] it’s interesting talking with other people, who’ve done a hundred plus episodes cause we have a hundred plus episodes too.

And it’s like looking back, it’s like, Oh my goodness. That is a lot of episodes to have done. It feels like. It’s almost like strange looking back. Like I can’t almost believe that it’s been, you know, years of doing a podcast and a hundred plus episodes. And of course, I think we have to talk a little bit about episode a hundred of the WP coffee talk show where you had Matt on the podcast.

So cool. Feel free to tell him, Hey, WPM or our podcast would be a cool one for you to jump on too, but I guess you asked them the same questions as you ask everyone else. How was that experience? Is that cool? Talking with them? It

was

Michelle Frechette: [00:06:06] super quiet because of who he is, you know, um, there was more preparation involved than I expected.

So he has an entourage of people that handle those things for him. It wasn’t like I was just texting that and Mike about, Hey, you’re ready for that podcast next week. So I was talking to his people and getting things all squared away. And what does it look like to, how am I advertising it and all of those kinds of things.

So it was really, um, a learning experience for me as well, but I also had people warning me that he’s very thoughtful in how he answers questions. And so I should be prepared. For a long pauses, but it was so fluid and the conversation really floated and we both laughed and we had a lot of fun and what people have said back to me as well, that was an episode that really made me realize he’s a human being.

You know, he’s not just this person that sits on top of the organization and that he was like, it was so conversational. Wow. Michelle, he really just talked to you. I’m like, that’s kind of my super power. Like people are my super power. I just like talking to people and, and it was a good episode and it was a

Joe Howard: [00:07:07] lot of fun.

Yeah, I think about when you talk about someone who takes a little time before they answer a question, I think about like Elon Musk actually. Cause I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Elon Musk get interviewed, but he will take like 10, second pauses in the middle of an interview where like 15 seconds.  a little bit, it’s like a little bit awkward, but like for me, it’s actually not at all.

Cause I really liked that pause cause I’m like, wow, he’s really wanting to give a thoughtful response to this answer. So that’s where it comes up in my mind. But I’m kind of not surprised that like. Matt is somewhat the same way and wants to have thoughtful answers. You know, when he does his Q and a at, uh, the state of the word, I find that most of his answers, I guess, all of his answers, I’m trying to think of one that wasn’t well answered, but most of the time I think he is.

Very thoughtful answers and he knows exactly how he wants to answer the questions, but sometimes it just, he’s willing to take that time. Even if it’s three seconds, five seconds, 10 seconds to come up with the answer that he wants to give that in his mind is the right answer and not necessarily the fastest answer.

So I guess that was what

it

Joe Howard: [00:08:07] was

Michelle Frechette: [00:08:07] like. Right. But as a podcast or when somebody takes 10 or 15 seconds to respond on video, it’s fine. Cause anybody watching can see that he’s being reflective. Right. But dead air in an audio podcast is just like, no talk, please talk.

Joe Howard: [00:08:23] Yeah. It feels a little bit like awkward.

Like do that listeners think like messing up right now? Like having a little bit of that pause, there can also be, Oh, maybe he was just thinking about it. You’ll probably hear Morrison in the background a little bit. He’s hungry right now. So. So that comes through to people on the podcast. He’s just a little hungry right now.

Nothing to worry about the kid he’s allowed to be. Yes, exactamundo. So I’d love to talk a little bit more about some of the work you’re doing at gift donation, plugin stuff. I was just on with someone. I was doing just a sales call with someone the other day. Who asked us, Hey, under your performed plan, could you help us implement on page donations?

We have everything handled off page. Like people go to another website to do it. Can you help us handle it on pace? I was like, yeah, like give plugin perfect solution. One of the things you mentioned in some of the call notes, you hear something you want to talk about recurring donations, as opposed to one-time donations.

Can we like talk about this? Because obviously. WP MRR WordPress podcast, all about monthly recurring revenue, but it’s the same with a nonprofit monthly donations, as opposed to one-time donations. I think in a lot of times, it’d be probably more effective over the long-term to drive donations. So I’d love to hear a little bit more from someone who’s actually an expert in the donation platform.

What do you think about the recurring donations and yeah. Should people be looking into that more?

Michelle Frechette: [00:09:41] Absolutely. So, I mean, think about it this way. When you’re running a nonprofit and I’ve volunteered at nonprofits and worked, I even had a non-profit with a best friend once, you know, a hundred dollars donation feels vague, right?

So especially if you’re a small organization, a hundred dollars, like, wow, you got a hundred dollars. Right. But if somebody is giving me $10 a month, then that’s $120 in a year, as opposed to. A hundred dollars. And so even though it feels incremental in that $10 a month, doesn’t feel like it is much for the person who’s giving it or the person who’s receiving it.

It’s sustainable because it’s money that’s coming in over time. And the more money that you could have do that, it’s like a drip campaign, right? So you have money dripping in over time. That means that you can pay your bills longer or you can implement. You know, features in your nonprofit and services that you want to be able to offer to your constituents.

And so having that recurring revenue, it’s like a security blanket that you can keep doing what you want to keep doing and keep helping the people and the animals, or, you know, whatever the environment, whatever your cause is over time because you have that money

Joe Howard: [00:10:44] coming in. Yeah. I don’t know if I could add much more to that.

I think that’s perfect. Is this pretty much the same with monthly recurring revenue for a for for-profit business? Same idea, same concept. I would love to dig into a little bit about, because there’s the same on the same metrics around churn as well. Uh, yes. $10 a month is $120 over a year, but if someone stops their donation after three months, it’s $30.

It’s supposed to be a hundred dollars one-time donation. So the trick is as the same with monthly recurring revenue in general. How do you. Reduce churn or reduce number of cancellations. And how do you increase the lifetime value of a donator? So maybe we could talk about how folks in the nonprofit space do that.

Or if like you’re an agency or a freelancer doing work for nonprofits, will, could you advise people to do, to help a long gate that like every time that donation comes through, maybe an email sent, how do you like make people feel awesome every time that donation goes through, it’s like, I’m not going to cancel this.

This is perfect. I want to keep giving. Well

Michelle Frechette: [00:11:45] in fundraising. So people in the non-profit sector, especially when I used to work for 20 years, I worked in higher education. They called it development. Right? So development in, you know, in the tech industry is a little bit different than what they call development in the non-profit sector, especially education development is that fundraising.

Uh, and they actually call it friend raising more than they call it fundraising, because the idea is that you’re building those relationships. And that the better relationship you have with the donor, the more likely they are to give you big gifts and to give you gifts over time that are sustaining the same is true for any kind of recurring revenue, right?

So if I sell you a subscription and then you never hear from me again, am I likely to continue that subscription past one iteration or two iterations? Not as likely as if I am reaching out to you and building that relationship so that you see that we’re an organization that’s here to help you and here to sustain you.

Or in the nonprofit sector, we’re an organization that’s using your money to do good in the world. Right. And whatever part of the world that is, I always talk about dog shelters. It’s the easiest one to talk about because everybody loves dogs, right? So if I am a dog shelter and I’m reaching out to my donors, I’m thanking them for what they do.

I’m giving them opportunities to be involved in multiple ways. Then I am. Allowing them to see how they’re impacting, how we take care of the animals in the dog shelter, how the adoptions are working, that those animals are finding their forever homes, for example. And so building those relationships and being able to share that information, which includes transparency in how that money is being spent.

It’s not a give us money so we can do good it’s to give us money. So you can do good through us. And continuing that relationship for sure. One of the things that I always say, um, around customer success, because of course I’m the head of customer success is the number one thing in getting that recurring donations of getting those recurring purchases in the case of e-commerce is you have to have a product that’s worth buying.

And then worth buying again. And in the case of donations, that’s, you have to have a service that you’re providing the general public, that somebody somebody’s not only willing to give you money once, but they want to see you sustain. And so they want to make it worth giving you money over and again. So whether that’s something that somebody is buying for themselves or something that they’re help funding another way, make it something that people want to continue to give toward, and then back it up with human interaction, because it’s the relationships that will keep that

Joe Howard: [00:14:12] sustained.

Yeah, that relationship thing is like resonates a lot with me because it’s obviously so important for the nonprofit work and the, you know, making the world a better place for all that stuff that you’re talking about. But it’s like that for everything it’s the same with our company, you know, so, and we try to do good at our company too, but we are a for-profit company, but slightly it’s different, but it’s the relationships that it’s all about.

And would you say about relationships, nonprofits? I feel is totally true. I have a friend who runs a, um, a nonprofit in India. And I give every year and I fund, you know, students to have private school education in every year in India. It’s super easy for me to give cause like she’s my friend. And she actually like, literally sends me a personal email every year with like some details about what’s going on.

But also like she had the students who I funded shoot a video to say like Joe and Sterling. Thank you so much for giving. It was like, obviously I’m giving again, like I just like almost put me in like no choice to have to give again, like, because it was like, clearly my money is literally going towards making someone’s life more awesome.

Like I’m going to give again. So that’s an annual donation, so a little different, I would tear

Michelle Frechette: [00:15:22] up when I saw that kid’s face on the screen, I’d be like, Oh my gosh, like making

Joe Howard: [00:15:25] a difference difference maker. I was, I was a cat, a little emotional in there for a second because it really does. It’s not just like me swiping my card to make someone’s lives better.

It’s like someone literally like said, thank you. Like I have these textbooks and I got this year of education and I’m like, here’s what I learned. Here’s some artwork that I did. And it’s like, okay. It wasn’t just money that I gave. It was like a difference that I gave. And I think giving people that reminder regularly is always going to be helping and building our relationship.

With people in that sense is so important. Would you advise people send out, like, because you want us to kind of stay top of mind every month to people doing monthly donations, would you say it’s like best practice to make sure you’re doing a regular email campaign to people? I guess not everyone does email, but like, I guess a regular, however, you stay in touch with bill, I assume most nonprofits will collect email addresses with donations.

So an email would probably be, make the most sense. But is that something that you think would. Is it helpful for like agencies or freelancers to advise their nonprofits to do

Michelle Frechette: [00:16:24] for sure. So the first thing is, you know, and with give WP, for sure. I’m not here to do a marketing campaign, but just to tell you how it works, because it works well and whether whatever you’re using, you want to make sure that it works like this is every donation gets an automated email receipt or donation confirmation.

Right. So you should not just, uh, we, we have a nice generic one in there and certainly you can use it, but you should actually take it and make it more personal. Right. So yeah, it automatically says, you know, dear Joe, it’s gonna have some of that in there. It’s going to have all the details of the donation.

But instead of saying, thanks for supporting our organization, say thanks for supporting our local doc shelter. Your difference helps keep the tail’s wagging, you know, something that really makes it a little bit more. Personalized and not just personalized to the person, but personalized about your organization as well.

And so every time somebody makes a, whether it’s a recurring donation or a one-time donation, you want to make sure that those emails are going out to them saying, thanks for continuing to support the organization. You know, your money. It keeps the water bowls filled and the tail’s wagging and the wet nose kisses or whatever you want to say.

That’s going to make somebody feel like it’s a little bit different. It’s not just a. A standard, you know, email that’s coming through. And then if you have the capacity as an organization to do a monthly newsletter, Absolutely because a monthly news, you can change up the content. You can show the pictures of these are the dogs that were adopted.

These are the ones that are waiting adoption. This is ways you can give. If you can’t give financially, we need dry dog food, old sheets and blankets or whatever it is that people can give in different ways. And of course, like I say, I just keep using the dog shelter as an example. But you know, if you’re doing a children’s charity or mental health Saturday, there’s things that everybody needs, there’s ways that you can do.

And it gives you the opportunity to say. And if you have some time and you’d like to volunteer, we have opportunities for that

Joe Howard: [00:18:10] as well. I love it. I guess I get second. I think that’s a human psychology thing. I think because I get emails even from for-profit companies that are there. Thank you. Emails are really personalized and saying like, Hey, here’s some awesome stuff.

We did, you know, this month. Obviously you’re paying us for our services, but part of your payment goes towards doing this really cool work. So thank you for helping us do that. Even that like helps me say like, mom, It’s going to be a little harder for me to cancel this now, you know, and I think with nonprofits, it’s going to be even more important to say, like, here’s what we did this month, or here’s the exact difference that you made?

Like, here’s a picture of a dog that we were able to save because you gave money. Like know, people are, I’d have a hard time being like, sorry, I can’t give any more. It’s like, Oh, I have a dog. I got to keep saving dog.

Michelle Frechette: [00:18:57] That’s nice. Got to stay in the shelter longer. You, and I both appreciate the big org chart as well.

So like big one’s heart is one that does that very, very well. So I give on a monthly basis. I get my thank you every month. And the first time we give Dan maybe sends a video, he goes out walking with his dog every day, uploads 32nd videos. Thanks you personally. And the first time I saw that, I was like, that’s super cool.

Within a month, I was volunteering to help them install, give, I mean, they had give, but like install some new forms and things like that. And now I’m like, Fully entrenched. I’m in the weekly meetings. I am part of the conversation there and I’m doing word fast and all those other things. And, and I know that the VP of ops supports that organization as well.

You are sponsors for word Fest. It’s one of the organizations that does that so well that you can’t help, but want to be

Joe Howard: [00:19:43] involved. Yeah. Yeah, totally. Yeah. We’re sponsors of live events and donators on a regular basis as well. I want to rewind a second to what you said about some of the things he does when you first make a donation, that personal video for 30 seconds.

Yeah. I think that. A lot of people were always thinking like, how do I automate things? How do I scale things? How do I do things faster? How do I send the automatic email out? So I don’t have to send email out. And in some cases, maybe when you’re trying to scale something or grow something faster, it may make sense to do more automation.

But if you can take five minutes a day to shoot 10 32nd videos and just shoot them out to people like that is going to create unforgettable experiences where people like that, that was an experience you had. And like you remember it that you remember when that happened, it stuck with you. And now you’re talking about it.

On a podcast, right? So it’s clearly something that maybe is not the most scalable thing to do. Like what’s he going to do when he has a hundred people signing up a day, shoot a hundred videos, probably not, but for now it makes sense for him to do that and to create those positive impacts for people so that they will do more like help volunteer more and be more connected with the organization.

And so I really liked that example of something that’s like a super small thing to do that does take a little bit of time to do, but. Hey, he does it on when he walks his dog. What else is he doing? And look at the impact it’s had on you and as a community member in the WordPress space to do all this other, you know, spreading of the good, big orange heart word.

So I think that’s like a really cool idea for maybe non-profits, but. Everyone to do in their business to think about the like small high-impact things you can do that may not be automated or whatever, not like the sexiest automation you’ve ever seen, but it’s like, it can still be the most effective for things you do.

So that’s cool.

Michelle Frechette: [00:21:22] Well here at game WP. When somebody makes a purchase, if they give us their phone number, we call them within a week just to make sure that they understand how to use the software. We don’t want them to like, have purchased it and then not use it because they don’t understand how to do the onboarding.

So we offer them opportunities. We make, we reach out to phone calls. We call them six months in again, to make sure things are still going well. Because number one, we want to make sure they’re successful. Number two successful customers are the ones that are happy as they built that relationship with you.

They’re much more likely to sign up for year two again, and let that subscription continue

Joe Howard: [00:21:52] to, I know y’all have been doing that for awhile. I remember hearing for the first time you like call people to see if their plugins are working. If like, as literally never heard of other plugin company doing that, but that’s like a really cool, it makes it so.

Unique, like talk about unforgettable experience. Like I’ve downloaded. I bought 10 plugins on calls me. I get an automated email. Like that’s it. I got a call from give man. They really like want to give to me. They want to do good for me. So I love that. And actually kind of flex as well into the next thing.

I want her to talk about, which was using the give plug-in is in terms of doing donations and how nonprofits can do donations actually on their website, as opposed to sending people off to maybe a separate site that opens a new tab to check out. I was on, again, a call with someone who was a sales call for WP buffs, and they were asking about if we could help them implement.

On site payments as opposed to offsite payments, because they had a link to, as donate here, it opens a new tab. So it doesn’t close that tab, but it goes to another domain and that’s probably not the ideal way or the biggest trust building way to accept donations. Maybe it could be, but I can never see places where they go to a new domain.

They’re like, where, where am I? Like, what website am I on? This is weird. So is that something that you. I mean, obviously it gave us an onsite donation plugin, but is that something that you’ve seen that when people switch to give, if they actually find that it makes. The on-page donation actually like affects the conversion or the click through rate or the, like the number of people who actually go through and make the donation.

Michelle Frechette: [00:23:22] Anecdotally, I have that information. I can’t just pull up some numbers for you off the top of my head, but absolutely think about it. Like if you go to Amazon, like I buy things from Amazon, especially during the pandemic, I’ve been ordering more and more things right online. If I was ordering an Amazon and I went to hit a payment and it took me to some other payment processors website, I’d be like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, what’s going on here.

Right. So yeah. Because staying on site, you’re much more likely to hit that button at the bottom and know that that’s donation has gone through. So that donation goes through. You get immediate confirmation, you get it right on screen. It tells you, thank you, your donations when processed. Here’s what the receipt looks like.

Andy, you’re getting an email receipt as well. So you have absolute in real time information, as opposed to I hit that donate button and now it’s taking me someplace else. And there’s another step. So now I’ve started, you know, maybe I’m losing trust. Maybe I’m just a little confused. Um, you know, you have older donors that are like at churches and things like that that are going well, what just happened?

I don’t really know what I’m doing. I better close that down because you know, their kids and their grandkids have told them, grandma be careful when you’re making payments online and all those kinds of questions. So you want to make sure that you’re controlling the experience in such a way that people feel like they’ve done the right thing because they didn’t.

Click something wrong or things like that, but also that they feel confident that at the end of the day you have the money they intended you to have in a very safe way.

Joe Howard: [00:24:41] Yeah. Yeah. I think I feel the exact same way when I click to a new new place, unless it was like PayPal or something. Some of them, it sounds just like a PayPal button that goes to new place.

And I’m like, I understand how that works. I’ve done it before, but if it’s some like random payment processor and I’ve never heard of them, I might be hesitant to check it out. I probably would be hesitant to check out. So I think on-site reoccurring payments sounds like the move.

Michelle Frechette: [00:25:06] Absolutely. And PayPal actually is rolling out a new way to do business so that you don’t actually have to leave your site to process PayPal pay payments.

So PayPal payments is new. We have PayPal donations where people can put the credit card onsite. They never leave, or they can actually make that payment, the PayPal payment right onsite and not have to leave your site to do that. So that’s something that you’re going to see rolling out more and more often than sites that

you’ve,

Joe Howard: [00:25:27] I’ve always thought like.

This should just be like an option to like, literally do this, like in an embed almost say like, I can’t imagine it’s that technically hard, but you know, PayPal, big company, even doing a small thing like that. Maybe, maybe just a lot of yellow and red tape, so that’s cool. Or in their case, yellow and blue color tape.

That’s right. Speaking company colors. Okay. Yeah. I noticed that earlier. It took a sip. Look at that buff testic mug. Yeah. Shop dot WP, buffs.com. Anybody wants to grab that? Very nice. Yeah. Awesome. So cool. That was fun. Throwing that story together. Actually, it’s just a Printful integration, so it’s pretty straightforward to put together.

Right? I think it doesn’t give, have a new store with some stuff on it. I’m gonna grab some,

Michelle Frechette: [00:26:14] I might have also a buffs hat and a tote bags and a kind of Mike, so got to support our

Joe Howard: [00:26:20] friends. Right? Amazing, amazing. The onsite payment thing. I just wanted to touch on it a little bit more in terms of the one-time versus recurring option that people have.

How have you seen some of your clients integrating the option to do one time versus the option to do recurring? Can you make it in the plugin so that. The first option is recurring, and then you can go like click somewhere to say, Oh, I just want to give a one time to kind of entice recurring giving.

Instead of one time, do you have it kind of like side by side? Is it like optional? How does that work

Michelle Frechette: [00:26:53] as a gift form? You can either have it be required or optional. So for example, if you’re a membership site, you might want to set it to be required. So it’s an annual payment. Not that people can’t opt out of it because of course they can, but it’s one of those set it and forget it kind of things.

You can also have it be optional. And you can have the frequency of the donation, either hard coded, right? So you can say, I only, this is always a monthly donation, or you can allow your donors to choose it’s daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. And so depending on how you set it up, they can opt in, they can be required or they can choose their own frequency, or it could be set for them.

Joe Howard: [00:27:27] Lots of options, always good to have options. How many edge cases out there you just celebrated that your a hundred K party recently. So you’ve got a lot of people, which means you have a lot of edge cases. So having a like different options for people is like, when you’re starting off, you don’t need all the options.

But as you get more advanced, like you’re going to have 10 people a day with like, does your thing, do this? That’s your thing to do that. And you want to try and make as many of those people happy as possible. So more options means. Hopefully taking care of more edge cases.

Michelle Frechette: [00:27:54] Absolutely. Absolutely. And those edge cases start to creep in and more and more, you know, I think there’s probably only four or five times over the course of the last three years.

Somebody said, how can I accept Bitcoin? You know, but of those four or five times, like two of them were this year and the other two are sprays that spread out over two years. So you start to see things that. Become more and more frequent or sometimes, you know, I had somebody a couple of weeks ago, say, can I do X, Y, Z?

And I said, well, unfortunately, no, that’s not one of the features of this. And he got angry and he’s like, this is something that everybody needs. And I said, here’s the feedback on it. You can look and see that only two people ever have requested this function. So it’s not worth, I mean, I, you don’t say to a customer, it’s not worth our investment to develop that.

But the truth is if there are, if there are only two people out of a hundred thousand users need that, right. That’s not where you focus

Joe Howard: [00:28:39] your development. I’d love to dive a little bit more next. I think that’s like something that’s really important for a lot of companies to do a lot of plugin development companies so that they can know what feedback they’re getting at, what rates so they can know what new things they should build.

Is that something that you have on give wp.com? Is it on the website somewhere so people can like shoot a link to people or is it internally, and maybe you shoot screenshots to people on emails.

Michelle Frechette: [00:29:01] It’s actually, it’s something called canny. And so we use something called candy for feedback and yeah, it’s its own site.

So I think it’s feedback dot give to hear.com or something like that. And there’s a public facing site and then there’s an internal site, so we can make internal notes that aren’t public to everybody for, as we work through development. And as we have discussions about features, bugs, things like that, but then we can also shoot like an email to somebody or shoot a link to somebody’s email and say, you can upload it here.

Or here’s where you can see the progress as we discuss it publicly and that kind of thing. So, you know, we have people, for example, that really want to be able to do text to give. And so that’s a feature that’s been unfolded quite a bit and people can follow along and see that is that in development right now, it’s not because of complexity of what it is and the things that we have higher up on the list.

Right. But then there’s things like peer to peer giving where people want to be able to do front-end submission. And we have a workaround for that, right? You can use gravity forms, you can use the Ninja forms to create front-end submission. It creates the form on the backend. Somebody approves it, et cetera, but we’re working on a plugin for that.

So make it a much more easy way to do that. And so the feedback on that you’ll see a lot more

Joe Howard: [00:30:07] mean. I just looked up candy. It was just candy dot I O C a N N Y. Dot IO looks really cool. It seems kind of like, like Intercom, not in the sense that it’s the same tool, but insistence that you just like put it on a sub-domain or something.

And it’s like, it makes it really easy to just like have a super awesome, great UX UI tool by just like having yeah, exactly. Forgive. So I think that’s a really cool solution that other people maybe listening to be like, Oh, what’s Kenny, Kenny, that IO. The text to give thing, I think is like, interesting.

That sounds like a huge project, right? It’s not like, Oh, we’ll just do it in a week. Right? It’s like, that’s a big, big project by also do know how effective that is. My wife’s still does nonprofit work, but she used to work at a nonprofit that did a big dinner every year, a fundraising dinner when we were still able to write years ago feels, but they did a big text to give every year to fund a new fellow.

And it was. It looked technically complex, but also just, it was super effective though. So that’s something, I guess, give us the balance. Like a lot of people want this, you know, and then there’s the business decision where it’s like, okay, if X number of people said they want it, how many people are actually going to use it?

How much are we able to increase revenue for the business, for people who are going to buy this? How many new customers we’re going to get because of it? And does that help fund the development of it? If it’s going to cost a hundred thousand dollars of time and resources to build well, there’s some business decision in there too, to say like, of course we want to build this for everyone.

If it was just that easy would, but it has to kind of make sense from a business and financial standpoint as well. Right.

Michelle Frechette: [00:31:42] And it is on the list of future development. It’s not on that. We’re never doing this list. So it’s just a matter of finding the right balance of when it’s appropriate and how we can direct our resources to get that done in a way that doesn’t affect the usability and the staff that we have working with the product that we have right now.

Sacrifice

Joe Howard: [00:31:59] all the good work that you’re doing now for customers to like have one cool thing we’re working on, you know, it’s gives a bigger company than that and can’t just put down everything you’re working on right now. I did want to rewind quickly because you keep saying things I want to talk about and like, okay, I have a thing to say, but I want to rewind back to that thing.

Um, Bitcoin, is that something that I think you said, yeah. Two people all last year, two people this year, so far, so maybe slight acceleration. But is that something that you think may be on your plate at some point to start accepting crypto currency? It’s

Michelle Frechette: [00:32:32] not in our list of current development, for sure.

One of the ways that I. Tell people that you can do it is to use our offline donation option. Right? So I’ll find donation is a way that somebody is basically making a pledge. They’re telling you how they’re going to give you money. And then when they click that option, they’re given the address to mail a check to, for example, well, with Bitcoin, we know that there’s either addresses you can use, or there are QR codes that you could include for people to be able to give that way.

So a work around for that is to put that information in the offline donation so you can accept it and it will show up there. In your collected. The only thing you’d need to do is once it’s verified the abuse of the funds and then change it from a pending donation to a completed donation. So there’s a slight manual component to it, but it doesn’t negate the fact that you could still use other means to be able to collect those payments.

And those donations. So, yeah, so it’s, it’s, it’s coming a lot

Joe Howard: [00:33:28] of challenges around accepting Bitcoin as well, but just cause it’s like, it’s not FDAC insured, like to work with banks on that. Like there’s a lot of legal and technical requirements that just want to make sure you’re putting. The business in a good position to make sure you’re not doing anything illegal or something.

That’s just not. So I

Michelle Frechette: [00:33:49] know it’s not new new of course, cryptocurrency has been around for a little bit, but it’s still new enough that you’re not seeing. A lot of nonprofit organizations have a crypto wallet. I mean, you can’t pay Amazon with crypto. So, you know, it doesn’t make sense that every organization is looking to accept cryptocurrencies, but those that are, there are ways to do that on your site.

There’s ways to do that. And then with manual donations or with offline donations, you can still incorporate it into your give database and still see those overall donations and reports. There is a way

Joe Howard: [00:34:20] around it. Yeah. It seems like accepting Bitcoin. I think it’s possible for a lot of businesses. You just have to have like somewhat of a separate workflow for it.

Like, I can’t really work with him current workflow, but you can still do it. It’s just like, it’s just a little bit of a workaround. You’d use the QR code they give over here. You have to like, you know, make sure you get that alert. So you Mark it as paid over here, but. It still works. It’s just like a little bit of extra work, but I think honestly, any business who wants to accept Bitcoin is not the point where it’s like, you click a button and you can accept it.

Right. It takes a little extra work, but I think most people who would say, I want to accept Bitcoin would be probably be willing to take, you know, an hour or two to. On the workaround and figure out just exactly how to get to work. Exactly.

Michelle Frechette: [00:35:00] But certainly not going to work like a traditional payment processor, which is what, the way our gateways are working right now.

So

Joe Howard: [00:35:06] totally, I’d love to hear a little bit more about, because give, obviously like you can accept donations on give, I think people are listening, probably know that at this point. What about some of the management of some of the like. Relationship management stuff terms of, okay, you can accept donations, but how are we using this database of people affectively?

How are we doing some of our outreach? Is that something that is in the backend of give as well? Like the relationship management part or like the actual work of nonprofit and donation stuff. Yes.

Michelle Frechette: [00:35:37] I know you absolutely can accent for sure. Like, like my answer to almost everything is, well, it depends, but the truth is that it’s not a full functioning CRM and it wasn’t intention to be a CRM.

It is a way to accept donations. However, That being said, you can, you can pull information out of there into a CSV file. However you’d like, and you can always upload CSB files into third parties. You can upload them into any spreadsheet processing and then create reports and, you know, mail merges and whatever else you want to do that way.

It also give, has the ability to use a Zapier. So if you’re using a CRM that has a savvier end point, you can zap your donations information. Into HubSpot or into Salesforce, for example, things like that. And we do have five ad-ons that work with different mail management systems. So active campaign convert kit, constant contact MailChimp, and.

I can never remember the last one, but there are five of them. And so if you’re using any of those as a CRM, you can use active campaign as a CRM. You can use a MailChimp as a CRM. And so you don’t need Zapier. Even you can send all the information through, including metadata to those mail processing things and use those as your CRM and have all that information

Joe Howard: [00:36:53] stored there as well.

Super easy way to do things. It takes like. Slight bit of technical know-how even like Zapier. We use Zapier a lot and it’s like to create as app is like, if there’s a little bit of like, I wouldn’t call it technical, but it’s like, I don’t know confidence to the technical platform to have to do it. Yeah.

I’m trying to remember who I’ve talked to about creating zap integrations for plugins though, but I’ve talked to someone who said like managing the Zapier integration is itself like a pretty big project or the folks that given the development team, having to manage all those integrations and kind of API stuff as well.

Michelle Frechette: [00:37:25] No. I was, you know, most people, our documentation really sets like walks you through it. I didn’t know how to use Zapier. And so I created a test account, you know, I have, I have a test account through give, and I wanted to be able to advise my customers when they’re having questions. So I went ahead and set up a zap for our demo site and I’m able to do screenshots and I’m able to walk her through the process because now I understand it.

And I’m not a coder. I’m not a developer. I don’t have that same skillset. Yeah, of course. I’m in the tech industry and I can understand how technology works. But anybody working on the backend of WordPress website has about the same level of knowledge, have the ability. And so certainly can walk them through those things.

But I have to say our documentation is absolutely phenomenal. There’s so much good documentation for give WP that helps you use it. And the customer success team was willing to hop on zoom calls and work hard customers through anything. I don’t understand. So I do have people well, who are technophobes, who are trying their best to understand how to use the product on their websites.

We hop on a quick zoom call. We have them share them their screen. We walked them through the process and instill the confidence in them that they know that they can actually do this. And then also by the end of the call, They do a test and they see that it’s working and they feel

Joe Howard: [00:38:33] happy. Cool. I feel like the focus on accepting donations right now is like, obviously like gives strong.

So like that’s what it does the best better than anybody using Zapier integration or other APIs or integrations to push people into like a true CRM. Totally makes most sense right now. Cause those CRMs right now are like, they’re the best this year. I’m so literally you add as API integration, it’s like, except the donation they’re in the CRM.

They have these specific tags because they donated this way. And then you just have to know how to use that CRM. My question would be, if you’re looking at give, you know, three years out, five years out, obviously who knows what’s going to happen then, but is that like a thought that the give team has of like, Oh, eventually we’d like to like.

That’s the next evolution of the company is to go from just being focused on nations to like truly being a within WordPress. CRM for nonprofits or are you like, I don’t even know if we’re thinking about that yet.

Michelle Frechette: [00:39:29] I will tell you, so I’m the head of customer success. I am not one of the primary owners, so I’m not in all of those conversations.

And if that’s a conversation they’re having right now, I haven’t been part of it.

Joe Howard: [00:39:38] Yeah. So maybe not quite yet, or at least not hasn’t spread around the team, but can you

Michelle Frechette: [00:39:42] tell, I used to be in

Joe Howard: [00:39:43] politics? Ah, yeah, you’ll slow maybe so, but I just saw, you know, That’s honestly, just like my brain thinking about like, what’s the next evolutionary step, but a lot of times there’s a lot of.

Non-profits out there. Like there’s no need to have to jump into something where the give team may not be an expert in end, or it may just not want to add complexity to what you do. Like maybe just staying simple and doing that one simple thing. Awesome. For more people and like fine tuning that thing.

Maybe the way to go. So I’m not here saying like that has to be the next step or that the next step should always be to like go into doing bigger, more complex things. I was just kind of asking, cause that’s where my brain went.

Michelle Frechette: [00:40:27] I always say we’re, we’re not jet pack. We’re not trying to do everything on the back end, but I’m saying

Joe Howard: [00:40:32] it’s a lot of senses.

That’s going to be a good thing. Yeah. Cool. Well, Michelle, thank you for being on the show. I really appreciate you hopping on and helping me to talk about. How I can serve nonprofits. Selfishly. Now I talked to nonprofits too, and I want to know how we can better help them at w P buffs in terms of the support we give them advice.

We can give them I’ve people on, like after I shoot episodes of this show and they get published, I actually shoot the ones that are relevant to people aren’t doing like, Hey, just listen to this episode. Like, what I said is not super important. Like you can mute when I’m talking, but like when Michelle’s talking, listen to some of the stuff she’s saying, because that may be some advice that we may want to give.

Some of our non-profits are definitely going to do that after we get off here. So let’s wrap up. And once you tell folks where they can listen to the podcast where they can give online, where they can find you online, all that jazz. Absolutely. So

Michelle Frechette: [00:41:21] you can go to give wp.com and you can sign up for a demo.

You can download the free product because it is free to use, give without any of the ad-ons. You can get that right out of the WordPress plugin directory. We’re on Twitter at, at give WP. And so we’ve treated a lot of stuff there. Our blog is very rich. We blog several times a week with lots of great ideas for fundraising and ways to use.

Give to be more successful. My podcast is WP coffee, talk.com. You can download all the episodes. Listen to them right there. Also on Twitter at WP coffee talk. So, if you want to hear my conversation with my mom, like for example, hit me up and give a listen. He has such a mellifluous voice. He’s just so calming to hear him talk so cool.

Joe Howard: [00:42:02] Um, I’ve I’ve already listened to an episode. I’m going to go back and I’m give a second. Listen to the show. Last thing I ask our guests. To do here on the show is just to ask our listeners for a little Apple podcast review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking folks to give us a little review.

Michelle Frechette: [00:42:16] Absolutely. Yeah.

So give us a review at WP MRR. We want to absolutely know that what we are doing here and what Joe is putting out there is being useful to you. So give a five-star help a fellow out and help other people find this

Joe Howard: [00:42:31] good work. Absolutely WP M R r.com forward slash. Review board slash reviews. Forward slash iTunes.

I can’t remember the reporting domain that’s supposed to go there for slash iTunes. There’s actually probably have to change because it’s called Apple podcasts now. So I’m just thinking of all sorts of things today. So WPP mrr.com forward slash iTunes still gets you right there. Feel free to leave a review.

I have to see a

Michelle Frechette: [00:42:58] bunch of three, three Oh one redirects in your future.

Joe Howard: [00:43:00] I think they’re coming. They’re coming soon. Three Oh one to three Oh one to write page. That’s how redirects work, right? Yeah. A little comments. If you have time, something you learned from this episode, so we can shoot a screenshot to Michelle and say, thanks for helping us get this and why.

WP coffee talk, give them a review too. You know, if you’re on a review spree, just give everyone a nice little review. Um, if you’re new to love, why not? If you’re a new listener to the show, we’ve got a hundred, I’m not a hundred, but a hundred plus 140 something episodes on all sorts of topics you learned about some nonprofit work today, donations up to, but we’ve got all sorts of topics on the show.

So use the search function, WP mrr.com forward slash podcast and go binge some old episodes. So that one for show your engine right now, go binge your podcasts and help you grow your business. It was

Michelle Frechette: [00:43:49] roses over. Go listen to WP. Is that right? If

you

Joe Howard: [00:43:52] have a questions for me on the show, yo, at WP mrr.com, shoot us an email like the Q and a episodes every once in a while.

And I would love to answer some of your questions live. On the pod. So shoot those in and I will get you answers here on the WP MRR WordPress podcast. That is all for this week. We will be in your podcast players and on YouTube again next Tuesday, Thursdays for YouTube episodes. So, Michelle, thanks again for being on spin.

Podcast

E139 – Launching and Cultivating a Paid Circle Community (Corey Haines, Swipe Files)

In today’s episode, Joe talks to Corey Haines of Swipe Files, a community hub focused on content and courses to master marketing by taking the best ideas from other industries for maximum business growth and pushing the boundaries of what is called normal.

Corey narrates his experience in building and creating a community focused on content strategy, marketing best practices for marketers, and the idea behind founding Swipe Files. 

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:28 Welcome back to the pod, Corey!
  • 05:45 What is Swipe Files?
  • 07:21 Marketing ads that pique customer interest
  • 11:37 Switching to Webflow 
  • 14:23 How does Webflow work?
  • 17:09 The community at Swipe Files
  • 21:17 Bigger communities become less valuable
  • 22:48 Managing the community, keeping the subscriptions
  • 27:46 Strategies to attract people to join the community 
  • 31:50 Calendar plugin for easy access to sites and apps
  • 33:48 Get to know Everything is Marketing podcast
  • 38:21 The story behind the first episode
  • 44:24 Marketing Rule of 7
  • 46:30 Connect with Corey online!

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Howdy folks, Joe Howard here this week, I got to sit down and chat with my old internet buddy Corey Haines. Courtney was on the podcast previously. He was on episode 73, talking about his unique approach to growth. The company listed for him. Then. Bare metrics, but it is no longer. He talked a little bit about that.

On today’s episode, he left shortly before the acquisition of bear metrics and moved on to work on his own project and community called swipe files. So today really. It kind of features on his circle community, how he launched and grew that paid membership and how he adds pretty crazy value for the people who are part of that paid community.

But we also talked about some other stuff as well. We talked a little bit about his transition from bare metrics to swipe files. And then also about his new podcast that he launched. He launched 10 episodes at once, which is pretty crazy. We talked about his reason for doing that. And then also how he got Rand Fishkin as his first guest on the podcast.

He tells the whole story of how that happened. And I think it’s really eyeopening for anybody who wants to potentially start a podcast or get a big guest on the podcast or someone who already runs a podcast, myself included. How do I get some really big names on my podcast? This is a strategy that he talks about that I think will work.

Literally for anybody. So that’s all for the intro without further ado, please welcome Corey hand to today’s episode and do a podcast.

Corey Haines: [00:01:42] WP MRR WordPress podcast is brought to you by WP buffs. WP buffs manages WordPress websites, 24 seven and powers digital growth for agencies. Freelancers and WordPress professionals join our white label program. And by next week you could be offering 24 seven white label website support to your clients and passively growing your monthly recurring revenue or become a WP buffs affiliate to earn 10% monthly payouts.

Every month for the lifetime of every client. And finally, if you’re looking to sell your WordPress business or website, check out the WP buffs acquisition unit, learn more about all3@wpbuffs.com.

Joe Howard: [00:02:24] All right. We are live this week on the podcast. We’ve got Corey Haynes on the podcast this week. Corey, it’s nice to have you on for the second time on the podcast.

Why don’t you tell folks a little bit about what you do

Corey Haines: [00:02:35] on the web. Yeah, thanks for having me on a second time as well. But, um, today at this time, what I do on the web is a little bit different. So today I’m the sort of founder creator of swipe files. Basically it’s a hub, a membership site for all things, content, community, and courses on marketing.

And so marketing is my thing. I was previously the head of growth at Baremetrics, um, spent about two years there, doing all things, marketing and sales and growth. And then before that was the first marketing hire at cordial also had my hands on homes out there. Things like. A job board, just from marketers called the marketers and a couple of courses today, my main focus is on swipe files and then a sort of a pay the bills.

And just for fun. Also, I do some consulting and advisory work for startups on marketing as well.

Joe Howard: [00:03:19] Cool. Yeah. Yeah. So you’ve been friends for a little while now. We’ve kind of known each other through the web, since you were at bare metrics, we’re still bare metrics, bare metrics recover. We still use. And I remember.

Working on bare metrics and meeting you, you know, it’s like, Oh, this guy, Corey, you just working at bare metrics, this cool guy. And then it like kind of kept me kind of connected with the company. And I was always, I was always like, I want to stay connected with Corey. I’m gonna keep my subscription, which I think is like another, like, no, you gotta have good people at your company.

And now I appreciate that. And yeah. So Josh sold bare metrics. I think it was like. Months ago. Now we’re used to working in there a little bit after that acquisition happened. And you’ve recently transitioned where I think you started doing swipe files. I’m not wrong. I saw on Twitter like a few months ago, maybe a little bit more than that is that when the transition happens after the acquisition.

Corey Haines: [00:04:11] I left right before. So I left in September and I think that it was sort of officially, you know, closed and done deal and announced in early November. I want to say that it was of 2020. Uh, I actually started working on swipe files this time, last year. So in March of 2020 back then, it was sort of like, uh, you know, seedling of an idea.

And it was just like a web flow prototype. And I sort of launched with like these tear downs that I was doing, and I was writing every week and it’s like commentary on the best. Ads and emails and landing pages that I was seeing. And then in October is when I launched the community and started, started building on the whole kind of hub.

And so now there’s the tear downs. I have like a actual swipe file that people can sort of download it and look through, uh, there’s the community and at these courses as well, that are bundled under it. But it was about October, I think when sort of the swipe files, as we know today started to start to kind of sprout out a bit.

Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:05:05] totally. I think is a good lesson in there, which a lot of people have been on a similar journey, which is had a side project was kind of working, you know, maybe full-time somewhere, but you know, it was working on this little cool thing. I was tinkering and eventually it turned into a bigger project and I think people maybe see swipe past it, like, Oh my God, like, look how amazing this website is.

Look how cool this looks. How did Corey do this all overnight and not to take away from how amazing you are, but over a year or so, it kind of developed into what it is exactly, because it was just, that’s how most entrepreneurs function, right? It’s like from the outside, it may look like whatever, quote unquote, overnight success, but in reality, a lot more time and energy is and put in, in the backend.

Um, so swipe files, I’m on the website right now, but give folks your, like, what is swipe files?

Corey Haines: [00:05:50] Yeah. So it’s basically, there’s a couple different, uh, hubs to it, but like what you see, if you just go there, it’s actually more of like a landing page. And so I have the privilege and the challenge of marketing to marketers to a certain degree, or I was just gets a little bit meta and marketers know all the tricks, all the tricks.

Right. But at the core of it, of what you see there on the landing page is a newsletter. So I’m working on a lot of content around just marketing and sort of giving my opinion. It’s not like a, like a practical kind of like SEO type. Articles around like, you know, here’s how you do X, Y, and Z. They’re more like opinionated pieces on what I’m seeing the market, you know, cutting edge strategies, even crazy stuff that I see sometimes.

So I just want to like give a light to, um, just to help people get outside of that echo chamber, really like the premise of swipe files is how can we take the best ideas from other industries and very like disparate practices and backgrounds and skillsets. And use that for ourselves to like really push the boundaries of what’s normal and do like really creative, kind of outside the box type of marketing, rather than just the rinse and repeat copier competitors type of marketing that, um, it’s very easy to, to fall into.

So the newsletter highlights allows a lot of those ideas. I also have a podcast called everything is marketing. There’s the swipe files, private community. So you can buy it. There’s a pro membership, which basically gives you access to the community. And then the actual swipe file. Okay. And the tear downs as well.

So again, it’s a little bit hard. Like when I tell my mom, for example, what I do, I just called it a membership site that helps people learn marketing because at its core, that’s really what it is, you know, but when I’m talking to people in tech or in marketing, right, there’s all sorts of different facets.

And it’s kind of like this, uh, this amorphous blob has all sorts of different arms and tentacles. If you will, to, to what CFLs actually is.

Joe Howard: [00:07:34] Yeah. I love the like marketing to marketers is like definitely a challenge. It’s like trying to write SEO articles that will get a lot of SEO because you’re competing against all the other SEOs.

We’re ready to go to sales, like super chat live, most challenging probably to do in SEO. Right. So I’ve seen this meme going around. That’s like the, there’s all this like Royal drama right now, which I don’t follow really very much at all, but I’ve seen some like the Oprah memes where it’s like, You know, marketers or people who are not marketers watching Superbowl commercials or watching commercials.

They’re like, no, but Mark Miller is interesting. Cause they’re like marketers analyzing what other marketers are doing, which is always interesting. I kind of like watching super bowl ads, not cause I like. Really like watching ads or commercials, or even specifically super bowl commercials, but I’m just interested in like how companies are positioning themselves to such a huge audiences.

Yeah. It’s interesting.

Corey Haines: [00:08:24] Hulu has this little experience where sometimes they’ll allow you to like pick which quote unquote ad experience that you want. And so before the next ad plays they’ll have like two or three different options. It’s like, do you want the dog. Um, ad or like the cat ad or like, do you want like the light one or the dark one on the summer or the winter?

And I always love in those pop up and it drives my wife crazy. Cause I’ll sit there for like 10 seconds, just like, Oh, which one do I want to see? And like, I need to like write this down for later so I can go watch the other person. But, uh, like I said, it’s more just pure curiosity seeing how they do it and what they do.

And you sort of become an ad aficionados. Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:08:59] they get the data, you get to self select. What kind of ad you want, even though sometimes no ads are the best. It’s like, well, at least I get to choose. It’s interesting. How, like, I actually think about that experience being like a pretty, pretty decent ad experience versus like YouTube, because YouTube, even it asks like what my preferences are, but it’s not like asking what kind of ad I want.

It’s like, it’s much more clear that it’s like, they’re just like data mining, like make better. Commercials, which I get, like, I understand that practice, but like, do you want a dog commercial or a camera? At least that’s like more fun for me. Like I literally get to choose what commercial I want to watch.

That sounds like a better experience. Yeah.

Corey Haines: [00:09:32] That’s a fun one. So like I said, super bowl commercials, Hulu commercials. My wife sends me Instagram and Facebook ads all the time. Cause he knows that I’ll like her, if it’s a funny one, it’s a video and especially I’ll, I’ll swipe that and put it in my swipe file and it’s a good practice to be in.

Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:09:48] definitely. You’re obviously on like a WordPress. Podcasts right now. So I would be remiss if I didn’t talk a little bit about how swipe files.com was built, which I believe is on Webflow. Is

Corey Haines: [00:09:59] that correct? It is. Yep. It’s not on WordPress, somewhat flow. So I still love WordPress. It’s the OG no-code tool.

So yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:10:06] Yeah. I so. Interesting. I have this, like, I have this challenge with WordPress. Okay. Full transparency. I’ve got a lot of issues and challenges with WordPress. You know, there’s WordPress. Isn’t perfect by any means. But one of the issues I do have with it is like, whenever I land on a website, I feel like I almost always know when it’s WordPress.

Because it has a certain feel. It has a certain, like the footer looks a certain way or the header is built a certain way, or it has a certain, there’s just a certain aspect of how it’s built and how the designers it’s like this is built on a WordPress template, or this is using a page builder on WordPress.

And a lot of times, I don’t like that experience because it doesn’t feel novel. It doesn’t feel innovative. It doesn’t feel like a website maybe should look in 2021. So from a design aesthetic, like I land on this website and I’m like, no, it doesn’t feel like WordPress like feels more modern. I know that’s like a kind of whatever it’s like, is your website beautiful?

Like, there’s a lot of objective or a lot of subjectivity to that, but. I’d like to think I have pretty good design tastes. When I land on this website, I’m like, Whoa, this looks like really cool. I love the little, like the little circles of people who are already like joined, I guess, to your email list, like join 4,642 plus they’re marketers.

Right now. It has a little pictures of them. You know, your product hunt up, like the kind of rainbow imagery behind. It just seems very well-designed and. I can kind of tell it’s not a WordPress site. So that’s, to me, like it says something, but tell me about kind of the decision to go web flow. And is this something like, do you have a lot of design experience?

Did you have a lot of web flow experience or was this kind of new for you as you were building out swipe files, you were just like, Oh, web flows really easy. I should just like. Build out a dope website

Corey Haines: [00:11:53] using it. I originally got set on Webflow because back in college I was doing some like, you know, basic web design, setting up websites for friends and local businesses and stuff like that.

And I’d use WordPress a couple of times, but then I found that it was hard for. Sort of clients to, to maintain and to sort of customize. So

Joe Howard: [00:12:11] yeah. That’s WP boss was born. Right,

Corey Haines: [00:12:14] exactly. Yeah. Amazing. Right. You get to fill that gap and sort of in solve that need. But then I started working with Squarespace and that was also good.

But it was also a little bit too basic and it has, I think, some of the same problems as like whenever that Squarespace site that I go to, I immediately know that it’s Squarespace, which again, it’s not a bad thing per se. It’s just, I started to know because they’re all based off of certain set of templates, usually a certain design aesthetic.

Yeah, yeah. A certain aesthetic. And that I really craved a lot more flexibility around the customization and the design and sort of, you know, trying to push things outside of like the normal box a little bit. And here’s the thing too, is that I’m not a designer. I had sort of done it just as like. More of a marketing play of just like, let me, Hey, let me get you a site.

Like I can, I know I can spend something out for you. I’m not like, let me like build you a brand guideline and like, you know, build all these custom icons and a logo. It was just like, I can get you a site basically. And so started working on working with Webflow first, built a couple of sites for people, and then built my own site on there.

And so by the time, so I fells idea kind of came around. I already knew that, you know, Webflow was like what I was most comfortable with basically at the time. And so it was an easy decision just based off of my skillset personally. I like it because it makes me feel like a designer, even though I’m not a designer, that’s one of the, one of the big value props.

I feel like it just appeals to me is I’m like, you know, I can have a dope site and feel good about it. Right. And really I have nothing to do with it because I’m sort of just, you know, following directions, I’m experimenting, uh, it’s actually built off of a template. So I gotta give a shout out to the panel’s template.

I forget who built it now, but I sort of customize it from there and it’s allowed me to, you know, feel and act like a designer without actually being one. I’m an imposter

Joe Howard: [00:13:57] to me, that’s like sheds a lot of light on this whole situation because yeah. Most people I think would go to your site would be like, Corey’s a dope designer.

Like, look at this site. He put together, not really. It’s kind of like use this template and web flow kind of do the rest for me. So to me, that’s like, Yeah. What better thing could you say about a tool and you could have like the coolest looking website, one of the coolest looking sites I’ve seen and just, you know, you didn’t do much work, then we probably did less work than putting a WordPress website together.

And forgive me. I don’t exactly know how a website works. Is it, did you like buy that template in like a store area or is it like, do they have the templates as part of web flow? Yeah, you have to

Corey Haines: [00:14:32] buy it. They have a little marketplace, but basically I just bought anything was like, you know, 49 or 99 bucks or something like that.

And so I start with the template that allowed me to get up and running pretty quickly. And then I also started new. Like I had this idea like, Oh, maybe it’s, my files could turn into more, you know, later, but I’m just going to like, you know, so I wanted to sort of give myself the optionality to allow it to expand into maybe more of like a membership site or a no-code site, or, you know, do something outside the realm of just like a normal website.

And so I knew that web flow had those capabilities that have integrations with other tools, like, you know, member stack and outset, uh, and, uh, Zapier and sort of other email marketing tools and jet boost actually. So when I built the job board for marketers, that was one of the other sites that I built.

On Webflow, because I knew that there was like a tutorial out there on maker pad for how to build it. And so I was like, Oh, I’ll just build it on Webflow. If there’s already something out here that can teach me how to do it. And so, um, Ngukurr worked with jet booze, which I might need later for searching and filtering.

And so at that point, I knew also just beyond the design and the template that I could make it work as like a no-code, you know, membership site. Eventually, if I wanted to, which I ended up doing.

Joe Howard: [00:15:36] Yeah, just like no code movement is really starting to gain a lot of momentum. I listen to a lot of indie hackers podcasts and like, you know, chanting and Cortland over there.

A lot of people it’s like, maybe it’s brought in this like yeah. Ability to like really put together a business, not having to be a developer, but you’re able to do a lot of things that maybe 10 years ago, definitely 20 years ago you would have needed to hire, develop, or be a developer to put these together today.

It’s like sign up for swipe files for nine bucks for a template, put a little website copy together and like, boom, you’ve got it. You know, I say put together, so yeah, that’s really cool. And the other thing I did want to for sure talk about was that community around swipe files. So here’s the landing page, just, you know, subscribe to the newsletter, but you’ve got a whole community running.

I know that because I knew how to community running and I told my head of growth to go over and make sure he joins. So Alex, a member of the swipe files community. But tell us a little bit about that. He just built on circle, got a bunch of people in there probably. Doing all sorts of

Corey Haines: [00:16:32] stuff. Yeah. So the community was it’s funny because that was actually a separate idea.

Like I keep this big idea log in, in notion and now in where I’m sort of like, it’s all over the place, grab it. Just like I’ve always made a habit of writing down ideas and thoughts about them in my head just to like get it out. And so I had, you know, one of my like top ideas was the sort of swipe files, you know, curated examples and tear downs idea.

And I had another idea. I was originally going to call it like the marketing assembly. Or the marketing society or something like that, because I was really craving a private marketing community where I could come together and it wouldn’t be like a really noisy experience. And I could sort of like, I even thought about doing like a really small one.

Like I’m just going to invite 10 kind of close friends, and we’re just going to have like a. Telegram chat or something like that. So I launched my files with the tear downs and sort of like the, you know, this curated library. And then people are kind of kept asking like, Oh, it was like a way to like chat with other people or like, do you have any sort of like community?

And, and then that thought I’d kind of been brewing in my head of like, do I want to do this as a separate thing? Or do I want to add this on top? And then I sort realizing like, Oh, this would actually work perfectly with. Sorta like the total offering and be like another thing that I can provide to members and like keeps waiting in the pot, you would pay, you know, 99 bucks a year.

And now instead of just tear downs, you also get a community. You know, you also get, you know, X, Y, and Z, and sort of adding more and more onto that into the offering over time. But I wanted to do it the right way and it was actually really nervous because I had never started or launched a community before.

And a community is. Is a, it’s actually has a lot of the same dynamics as like a, a marketplace kind of site or a business where you have to fill the supply side and the demand side at the same time. And then like, the community is interesting. Cause you have to like, then, you know, make them co-mingle where like everyone is sort of supply and demand side of posting and interacting.

So I knew that it was like this delicate thing that I needed to get right. To be able to like launch it. So there wasn’t just like crickets and everyone felt awkward. Like, you know, it’s completely silent. Like, I don’t know who’s here, what we talk about, but that it actually felt lively and engaging and people would feel welcome to come in.

So it was just art. And I kind of, I started with my newsletter and I said, Hey, I’m thinking about starting. I didn’t even say I was starting a company. I said, who is a part of a community or who is not a part of a community who wants to be? And I had all sorts of people say, Oh, I’m parts of communities, but I don’t really check in very often or like they’re too noisy or they died.

Or, you know, maybe like, it’s not really right for me. And that a whole bunch of people who said I’m not part of anything. And I would love to be, I’ve been looking for something. So I thought, Oh wow, this is actually some pretty good indicators that maybe there’s something here. So then I emailed every single one.

I think I probably had like 200. Emails and DMS. I was like going through at the same time, just trying to have a conversation around, well, what are you looking for? What’s important to you? How would you imagine that it would work? I very much doing a kind of product discovery kind of exercise of seeing what the needs are and trying to build something based on what people are saying and not just, you know, do what I think is good.

And then try to find people for that really involve people. In the process of building something that they would be a part of. So after I sort of had a lot of those conversations, I think I’m going to start something. If I did, would you be interested? I, you to people said, yes, I invited about 10 to 20, like close friends in pretty early on and said, Hey, can you post something?

And just like, it was basically very like scripted. It was like, can you ask a question? And then like, can you comment to all the other ones in there just like make a seam lively. And then like a couple of days later, I basically just opened the flood Gates and said, Hey, there’s community. You’re already a member jump in.

And then I announced to, you know, Twitter and other places, Hey, if you want to become a member, here’s how you do. So sign up here, join us. And then it was kind of just like this, you know, it kick-started the flywheel a bit and now it’s been rolling ever since. Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:20:14] it’s cool. I really like that idea of.

Inviting kind of close friends in first and getting it kick-started and honest, almost like as kind of part of asking people for feedback, what’d you like about the community? What would, how would you foresee a great community being using some of that feedback, but when you really start don’t invite everybody only invite a few select people and literally like DM them on Twitter or like email them, like, Hey, can you post something today?

Thanks. Cause you know, everyone out of your a hundred friends, maybe like 80 of them are like, Yeah, they’re decent friends, but you got your like 20 core friends who were like, yo, do this for me. Sure. I’ll do that. And those are the people you want to lean on. And so getting the community kind of rocking and rolling, even though it’s still starting off small.

So when other people come in, they see something that’s already rocking and rolling, even though. It’s small. I think most people don’t care about size. They care about value management and maybe some people want to be in like a group with like a hundred or a thousand people, but they see a Facebook group of like 50,000 people are going to be overwhelmed and be like, this is going to be crazy.

Like exactly. It’s too big for some people. So that’s a use it to your advantage. Right. So, yeah.

Corey Haines: [00:21:16] That was part of my like core thesis was a lot of people said, well, the marketing communities that I’m part of are usually free and they’re noisy and they’re spammy. And you know, I’m not a part of them.

There’s too many people here. And there is an interesting kind of dilemma with a lot of communities because the bigger they get. Potentially the less valuable they get because they get more noisy or you feel less connected or there’s more things going on. It’s harder to jump in the conversation or, or to just feel like you’re really a part of it, you know?

Cause it’s a bigger, bigger group. And so I knew that sort of the core thesis was it was going to be private and it’s going to be paid so that people were bought in and that they didn’t have to feel like, you know, it was going to be the, this. Big thing. And that kind of gets out of control. And I have plans, you know, as we grow to sort of expand and give people like these smaller kind of water cooler experiences where maybe there’s smaller groups or masterminds or things like that.

But it’s been very important for me to like, maintain that culture of it, feeling small and engaged and tight knit. That way people actually, you know, do engage and they still feel comfortable to be a part of it. Yeah. I

Joe Howard: [00:22:16] love that idea of. Battling the big, noisy free kind of their advantage is their scale.

And it’s like a numbers game sort of thing. Battle app by saying, let’s go the other direction. Kind of do the opposite. Well, make it small. We’ll make it small by making it pay it. So only, you know, a hundred people see it. Maybe only 10 will sign up, but those 10 will be power users, you know, they paid, so they want to be involved.

And so that’s almost an automatic vetting process. It makes your whole community and most of your community better. The thing I want to learn more about is it’s a paid community. So people swipe their credit card to be part of, I mean, among other things, the community swipe files all sorts. Oh, you know, everything that you’re working on over at swipe files, but they’re effecting this paid premium experience.

Are you the, like. Community manager, like is only you, is there anybody else on your team helping out with like posting stuff on a day-to-day basis? Do you like captain certain members to like post on certain days? How do you feel like you create enough value for people within the community to make it a no brainer?

That’s like, of course I’ll keep paying for this. You know, this is awesome. Yeah.

Corey Haines: [00:23:22] That’s a good question. I mean, I’m definitely like the community manager really haven’t even gotten needed to get to a stage where, you know, I have like. You know, strict moderation or other things, you know, that, um, that I’m doing to kind of like keep things under wraps, because really, I think the culture that’s kind of grown out of it.

It’s been very asynchronous and there’s not very much like everything that’s posted in there is like a high value conversation. And so it’s not, you’re never going to see like a. You know, what are you doing today? Or like, you know, asking a dumb question that could just be Googled, right? They’re all like, Hey, I’m looking to hire someone or like, here’s like a budget.

How would you spend it? Or we do something called a think tank Thursday, where we feature a community member and we basically brainstorm how would be market. Your business or your product for you. Um, so you kind of like crowdsource all these marketing ideas. I reach out and connect with every single member personally.

One-on-one do like these workshops series, where right now we’re actually starting with research. So every week we kind of have like a expert within the fields this time it’s research do like a curated workshop just for members and some members can ask questions. We have AMS. And to be honest, I mean, the bar is very low.

Compared to other communities. And so most people come in and they even just see like the interaction they get when they introduce themselves. And I’m like, this place is amazing and I love it. I’m like, that’s awesome. I’m glad you feel that way because we’re kind of still getting started to be honest, like there’s still so much more that we can do.

Uh, but even then, I mean, at 99 bucks a year, it’s basically as low cost and entry-level, as you can get. And that’s intentional because I don’t want to turn people away from, you know, just a across perspective, but just from a value perspective, it’s very. High touch that’s. I mean, it’s one of the reasons why I picked circle as the platform, you know, a lot of people say, Oh, well, like the technology doesn’t matter.

And like the platform doesn’t matter. I think it really, really does because the platform is essentially where you meet and where you meet determines a lot of the traditions and the culture and sort of the way the interact with other people. And for me, Slack was too much of a synchronous. You had to be there kind of environment.

Facebook groups is a little bit. Kind of the opposite where it’s a little bit more noisy, but it’s more about like posts and comments. I felt like it didn’t really have like a good way to do like an asynchronous conversation where anyone at any time could come in and add something to the conversation.

And so circle has a great kind of threading and a forum. Yeah. Type style without it being like too much forum where it’s just, you know, uh, very disconnected and doesn’t, it feels more like a bunch of different posts connected together. So I dunno if that makes sense, but basically I think that a combination of sort of the practices that we’ve been instilling in the platform, as well as the actual platform itself has really helped to make sure that people are getting value out of it.

Joe Howard: [00:26:02] Yeah. I love that idea. I think you actually like beat me to the punch because that was the next thing I want to talk about. Like, cause I remember at some point on your website, you were like, Join our community. We have our community on circle because Slack sucks for a search for community. I don’t think you said it exactly that way, but like, that’s kind of what you’re trying to get across is like, exactly.

It’s sucks for a certain type of community. And I agree with you that Slack is like, you have to be there, like I’m part of some Slack communities. And like, I don’t know how to. Keep up with stuff they’re like, I’ll see. Even I have some notifications turned on for like some more important ones and it comes up, it just disappears forever.

I never see a conversation again. And so like I had to be there, so I missed it. And Facebook is the other way. It’s almost totally asynchronous. It’s like, and the posts and. Comments all in one single like thread in one single area it’s like all so congested, like there’s a hundred posts a day. Like, well, how are you finding anything?

Use the search feature that sucks. Like there’s no also bad, but circle, I think is a great marriage between the two, because I love that. It, it kind of like. Has similar UI and UX to Facebook, but like, there’s a nice left-handed bar where you can like, have all sorts of different conversations going on and you can like, literally go and join where you want to.

I’ve been part of circle communities where it’s like, these are the free areas, but here, Oh, go in and become a paid user to get access to this. AMA area or this tear down area and Hey, it’s just five bucks a month or, Hey, maybe it’s a hundred bucks a month, but you have to pay to be part of that. And that, to me, like makes the actual experience of being there in the community.

Really powerful. The one thing I had a question, so yeah, full transparency, like WVU MRR is thinking, I’m thinking about doing a circle community for us. So I’m actually like picking your brain. Like what should I do? What shouldn’t I do to think I have a challenge with, because I’m part of other circle communities is.

Like, how do I get people coming back in and making it like a destination for themselves? Because that’s the challenge of it being like, not Facebook is like, Facebook is like, people are already there. Right? Slack is like, people are already there circle. It’s like, it’s just new domain. Like you have to go there to be a part of it.

So how do you strategize, like. Getting people there regularly, isn’t kind of a slow and steady burn and just kind of like improving over time. Are you using like email in conjunction with that? I think circle sends out its own emails with like a recap of like, what’s happened that day. Do you send those out daily?

Do you send those out weekly? How do you make your own community in itself? A destination when that is the destination and it’s not just. People are already on Facebook or they’re already on Slack.

Corey Haines: [00:28:31] Yeah. I think there’s two parts of it. One is I think like the beginning of the routines and traditions and kind of culture of the community itself.

And so bringing people a reason to come back on certain days. So Monday is, for example, is kind of like our work in public day where I have like a. A weekly thread. And I asked people basically they can post like, Hey, what’d you work on last week? What’s your plan for this week? Anything you learned, uh, anything you need help with just like people know that they can come on a Monday at least.

And just like post that and interact and sort of, and have a place and an outlet to do that. Wednesday, Thursday, we do think tank Thursday. Right? So there’s kind of like these excuses for people to come back in and they know, okay. That was Thursday, you know, I wonder like who we’re featuring today, or I wonder, you know, who we’re featuring next week or the last two weeks, I’ll go back and look through those.

The second part is the communication and yeah, I mean, they do have like a native, you know, like a weekly recap, basically that, that, that they’ll send out to all of the members in the community, which helps. There’s also a good notification system. So members can. Sorta subscribe and get notified on different levels.

So like it could be like for every new posts for only, you know, posts that they’re tagged in or for, you know, not at all for each individual space and a space is basically like a channel equivalent to Slack. And so some people, for example, they might get notified every time there’s a new post in the general channel space.

I always want to call them channels, the general space, which is like the most like active sort of catch all space and the swipe files community, which would be a lot. Right. So they’re probably getting. Uh, at least a couple of emails a day, but then there’s also the things that I’m doing through emails.

So for example, I just launched this new workshop series. So we have like, you know, seven or eight over the next, you know, two months now. And so basically just send out an email to all the members and said, Hey, here’s, what’s coming up. You know, book your calendars, find the passwords to the workshops in this post.

And so that’s also, if I do have something regular like that, drive people back into the community, you know, send an email about an AMA we’re doing, or even just like a, you know, a meetup that we’re doing. So it’s not as hard as you would think. I think that. I understand the argument of people are already in Slack or people are already in Facebook personally.

I’m not a huge Facebook user and you’re sort of battling with a lot of other noise. Even people are, they’re never

Joe Howard: [00:30:37] log into Facebook. I like it. I have a newsfeed Eradicator.

Corey Haines: [00:30:41] Yeah. Okay. Okay, great. Perfect. Right. And it’s the same thing with Slack. Like I log into Slack mostly for work things, but like I said, even if people are there.

I don’t open a lot of the workspaces that I’m a part of just because there’s so much to catch up on and because they’re noisy. So I think it’s actually an advantage to not have like this constant, you know, notification or something like within the browser. That’s trying to bring people back. It’s a little bit better to do it through something like email or there’s also a mobile app now as well.

So you can get push notifications and it’s a little bit more organic that way.

Joe Howard: [00:31:14] So you can have like an app for your specific circle that like connects right to your specific circle. Oh, wow. That’s really cool. Nice. Okay. That’s I’m gonna write that down too. So I have this idea of, I try to learn from myself as like, If I was going to get me to be part of something your basis, how would I do that?

And I know myself and that, I know I’m not alone. When I say I live and die pretty much by my Google calendar. Like, Oh yeah, I’ll miss a flight. If I don’t have it in my Google calendar, you know? So it’s like, I need to have it all there. Cause that’s literally, it’s just like, I know what’s happening on a day to day.

So I have the strategy kinda in my head of like things wanna to implement. That’s like, Calendar invite. It’s just getting into people’s school calendar or giving them something to click on to add it to their calendar. So that, cause I know a lot of people have like their built-in notifications, like, Oh, I got a notification 10 minutes before we hopped on this podcast.

Right. What if I got notification 10 minutes before the AMA you’re throwing Corey or the tear down. You’re doing that on your part of her. Hey, it’s Monday. Here’s the link? Like just write in the Google calendar, right? It, you know, 9:00 AM log in and feel free to join our Monday. What are you up to this week?

And here’s the link right to it. So it’s easy to just like go right into the right to where you want to be. So I think that the calendar to me, like getting in people’s calendars and interesting way to, yeah. Continue to make it as not to like force them to come in, but it’s like, Hey, this thing is in your calendar.

Like, it’s, it makes it easy. It makes it much the, the friction between like, how did, what was the link again, to get to the thing I had to type it. Oh, okay. Nope. Click boom. You’re in. And there you are. So I have that in my head. Do, what do you think about that? Does that sound like something you feel like would work for calender users?

Corey Haines: [00:32:59] Yeah. I mean, I’m in my calendar all day long. Like it’s literally a tab that’s constantly open and something that I’m spending on for swipe files right now. There’s a couple of other communities. I’m a part of, like, I just joined a writing group called compound writing and they have, uh, like a calendar that you can sort of subscribe to.

And then other events are just there on the calendar. So then I just click yes. To whichever ones I plan on going to, and it’s there. Right. I don’t even have to like register. Yeah. Same thing with, uh, I’m a part of the on-deck no-code fellowship and they do the exact same thing with a Google calendar is separate.

That’s basically you can toggle on and off within your own calendar and that way can I know exactly what, ah,

Joe Howard: [00:33:32] so they’ve created a separate calendar that you can subscribe to that has all the events there that’s, that’s smart and easier. So you don’t have to send out a separate calendar invite every time you teach one to the shared calendar and then it pushes out to everybody.

Exactly. Cool. Good strategy there. Nice. The other thing I did for sure, want to touch on here is the podcast. You will obviously have a podcast and I’m a big listener, too. People are on YouTube. They can see I’m already a subscriber of the show. Um, I have a few questions about the podcast because okay.

Corey’s also on Twitter. Corey, what’s your Twitter handle? I forget, is it just  headquarter, Haynes, Cub. So corny tweets a lot. Um, you always show up in my feed, Corey, I don’t know if you beat the algorithm or you just know what you’re doing, but I’m always seeing like all the stuff you’re doing. And a lot of it recently, or like in the last month or two months, since you launched podcast has been like podcasts stuff.

And I noticed when you launched the podcast, you’re doing some stuff before you launch a podcast, but when you launched podcasts, you launched 10 episodes at one time, I’d like to know a little bit about. Why you did that and some of the strategy behind it, or if it was just like something you were trying.

Corey Haines: [00:34:37] Yeah. So part of the strategy was one, I think, close to the premise of swipe files. Again, I wanted to have like a really diverse set of. Um, content and speakers and backgrounds and topics, just because that’s what sort of swipe files is about is having like this really, you know, getting outside of your echo chamber.

I didn’t want it. I feel like if I launched with one or two or three episodes, and maybe it wouldn’t be clear, you know, what the premise really was? Is this the, a B2B SAS? Marketing podcasts. It’s this e-commerce marketing podcast. This is a email marketing podcasts. Um, and it’s none of those things. It’s, it’s a marketing podcast.

And so with 10 guests, I got to bring on 10 people with very different backgrounds and skillsets and, you know, just came from all sorts of different diverse trains of thoughts and skillsets to really showcase sort of. What the podcast was and to set expectations that this is something where you’re gonna learn something new from someone in a completely different industry, every single week or episode.

Essentially, the other part of that was I figured that if I was going to have a chance to sort of climb the new and noteworthy ranks and like get featured by Apple, that I needed to. Like really pump up the downloads and the easiest way to do that is with more episodes and just to like release more, more content essentially.

And so I asked for a bunch of reviews, I released all those episodes. I had a ginormous spike in downloads. I don’t think that I made it in the new and noteworthy, which is totally fine. And I don’t know really how it works very much. Maybe it’s not too late, like maybe, maybe next week I’ll get featured or something.

Yeah, that’d be, that’d be awesome. Um, but that was also my shot at trying to make that work. I don’t think that I really did, but it was still good, nonetheless, because then there was all sorts of a whole feed for people to go through and download and, and consume to get the, you know, feel the premise of the podcasts.

Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:36:19] I remember when I launched this podcast, I did three episodes at one time because my editor was like, it’ll give you a higher, the opportunity to be in whatever trending or category. I don’t know. You know, I was like, sure, okay. Record the episodes. You know, I didn’t know much about it, but you know, 10 is like the next level of that.

So I think that, yeah, who like, exactly knows how the algorithm works, but I think like getting more downloads. Faster at a higher clip, like probably gives you a higher chance to be mentioned in something like that. So I’m totally down with that idea. And I think also in terms of setting expectations for the podcast, also what you said is right, it’s just like, what is this podcast about?

I can scroll through and. Check out all the guests or the titles of all the podcasts. I actually don’t even really read the descriptions very much unless the top I’m titled titles for interested me personally, but seeing like the title and like what the episode’s about. Okay. This gives me a good idea.

These 10 episodes. I know what this podcast is about, so I know, Hey, is this something I want to listen to on regular basis? It makes it easier for people to make the yes. Decision. Yeah. And plus we kind of live in this Bingy society anywhere. Right. It’s like, people want to binge stuff, so why not give them like, Oh, I can just like every walk I take this week with my dog, I can continue to listen to Corey.

Right. It’s like, I know he has 10 minutes. Like I don’t have to like, Oh, listen to one or two. It’s like, I can just like, listen as much as I want to, you know? So that’s. More incentive for more downloads and that kind of stuff.

Corey Haines: [00:37:42] Totally. I had a guy, I don’t know. I forget who it was. I would give him a shot if I knew, but he was like, I think I had launched the podcast on a Monday.

I want to say. And on a Thursday he was like, he deemed to be on Twitter at like 11 o’clock at night. And he was like, I just listened to every single episode back to back today. I was like, Whoa, that’s great. Good for you, man. I don’t know if I could do that. Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:38:06] that’s good feedback. I mean, you can’t get much better feedback than that though.

That’s the kind of thing that like keeps the podcast going, right? It’s like, Whoa, like someone loves this podcast. If you’re like one person loves this podcast this much, like I got to keep rocking

Corey Haines: [00:38:17] it. Right? Yeah. It was encouraging for sure. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:38:20] Very cool. The other thing I noticed first episode off the back, Rand Fishkin was on the podcast.

Everybody who wants to start a podcast and many who have started podcasts, a lot of the questions. How do I get like the big time guests? So my show. So, you know, I’m gonna ask you the question again, which I’m sure you’ve gotten before, but tell me about how’d you meet ran for the first time. See an old friend of yours, who back in the day, did you do any.

Cold email in doubt, reach out to them. Did you hit him up on Twitter with some stuff? Did you reply to one of his spark Toro newsletter emails is something cool. Loom video? I don’t know. These are all ideas I have to potentially get in and talk with people, but maybe you just know him from back in the day.

I don’t know. So how did Rand end up as the first episode on the pod?

Corey Haines: [00:39:02] Yeah, I’m happy to chat about it. Cause I actually haven’t really talked about it very much elsewhere and uh, it’s a little bit simpler thing you would think. So they’re the original. Sort of story is that I was trying to get Seth Godin on as the first guest, because I figured that’d be like a, really like a wow, like, Oh, how do you get Seth Godin?

I actually emailed Seth. And he responded like within a few minutes and was like, Hey, we’d love to love the premise. Like, it’s really fun product guys. But like, I have a rule that I don’t come on a podcast and let’s us. Already done 50 episodes, just because most podcasts don’t make it sort of past that threshold.

And I want to make sure that I’m, you know, placing my time strategically. So like amazing. I love that. I’ll let you know when I’m at 50 and I’ll have you on the, on the show. So then I started to brainstorm. Okay, well, who else can I get on and who would make for like a good first guests? And I sort of felt like Rand also.

Encapsulated a lot of the different sort of what I was going for with the podcast and that he, uh, was a founder. He is a marketer, you know, he was with Mazda SEO, and now he’s doing spark Torah, which is much more about like audience research and audience intelligence. And he has his hands in a lot of different things and sort of represents a lot of different things to different people.

So I liked that he sort of any, as a drain on was following which I was, I mean, just being honest, like, you know, he is a well-known person, right? And he would be who just, it would be a great fit for number one. And so he’s like the best of

Joe Howard: [00:40:16] both worlds. He’s like super popular and has that huge influencer following or whatever, but he’s also like a super awesome dudes

Corey Haines: [00:40:22] down to earth.

And yeah, so I had, um, I had been following ran for a long time and I’ve just been engaging with him on Twitter and engaging sounds so weird, but like I was just replying and commenting and like, I think I sent him a couple of DMS about just like random thoughts I had or, you know, I retweeted him or I would always sort of sing the praises of, of Rand.

And then when he started spark Toro, I showed a lot of support. I, you know, did the early access shared some thoughts with him? Um, I replied to a couple of his emails about, you know, becoming like a beta user and I was a beta user and giving some feedback. And so at that point, like he knew who I was, but we never really like talked formally or introduce ourselves, just, you know, my face.

I knew his face and like I was, I existed in his world and, um, So when I emailed, it was kind of a similar thing as Seth Godin, I was just like, Hey, Ron’s like, I’m starting this thing. I think you’d be a great, like first guest, a promise, you know, it’s not going to fizzle out. I’m gonna have lots of more guests afterwards.

Here’s who I’m also reaching out to you and would love to have you on. And he was like, sounds great. Like, let me know when, and then we booked it and scheduled it. So it was pretty easy. You have to answer your question as mainly because. I’d sort of put in the hard work of establishing some sort of, not even relationship, but just awareness around who I was and that I was a credible person.

And then I could sort of cash in that favor, uh, when I wanted to have them on the podcast.

Joe Howard: [00:41:41] Yeah, man, I forgot a lot of thoughts there, but the thing that stood out to me most from what you said is like, He knew my face.

Corey Haines: [00:41:48] That’s exactly what he said too, actually, because we were talking when I, when I first sat him on and I was like, by the way, you know, thanks for coming on.

And he was like, Oh yeah, like I’ve seen you around, like, I know your Twitter avatar. And, and, you know, I think he was like, didn’t you weren’t you like a, a beta user? And I was like, yeah, he’s okay. Yeah. So like I knew who you were. And so when you reached out, I thought, why

Joe Howard: [00:42:05] not? Yeah, totally. I think that a lot of times, like I’ve called emails, people in the past about an assortment of things.

Like we don’t do any cold email for like. Like sales stuff, but like, I’m going to like talk to someone like, I’ll shoot him an email. Or if I got referred to someone’s like, Hey, this person gave me an email. I just hope you don’t mind, but I just want to reach out. And a lot of times when I shoot that email, I will also find them on Twitter and just follow them.

And maybe I’ll even if I’m like, I’m feeling fancy or if I’m feeling myself, I like like one of their tweets and it’s like, not even a big deal. Right. But it’s like, they see me on Twitter. Oh, he’s a real person. Oh, that’s what it looks like. Oh, he emailed me too. It’s like this snowball of trust. Right.

Because when, you know, when you, don’t not in super circles, there’s zero trust. And maybe when did the, for the first time, okay. Maybe that’s a real person, twice, three times beta user. Now you’re actually providing him a lot of value, right? Like people keeping positive or negative connotations in their minds of who people are.

And a lot of it is based on one or two, like small interactions, like a micro interaction. Like that person was a beta user. That means they helped me and gave me some, maybe some feedback, proactive feedback. You applied to some emails. Okay. Now Rand is like, Yeah, this guy is not just like a real person.

He’s like a good person who was helpful for me. And even if it wasn’t this huge thing, like you were this multimillion dollar investor in like his business or whatever, what people are looking for is that micro interaction, especially when, what you want them to do is spend 45 minutes at a time on a podcast.

Like not the hugest ask in the world. Right. But you need something soda foundation. And I really liked that story because it. Told me about all the little micro interactions you had before that led to having someone really big on the first episode. And I think a lot of people can learn from that myself included.

Like, if I want to have someone I can, for people who I want to have in the podcast, I got to think like three months ahead, or like six months ahead, like, what are they doing now? What project? How can I get involved in that? How do I make sure I provide value by. Maybe I’ll become a subscriber to their thing or a paid subscriber saying maybe I pre-cum a beta user or even a free user.

Maybe I just replied to one of their newsletters that they send like, Hey, great newsletter. Like I’ve met a lot of people that way by just replying to the newsletter, being like, Hey, this was really cool. What did you think about that? And they’re like, Oh, and then we get into conversations like, Oh, this person’s awesome.

And that leads to all sorts of stuff. So I’m with you, man. It’s a cool story. Yeah,

Corey Haines: [00:44:24] thanks. There’s this marketing rule of seven, which kind of stays to like on average, people need to see or interact with a brand seven times before they buy or purchase from, you know, it’s sort of just like a, a heuristic, like a rule you can kinda like have in the back of your head, but it works the same way just for like relationships in general and like co-marketing or partnerships or fill in the blank, X, Y, and Z.

Like you need to, you know, show and sort of like consistently be there multiple times over and over. Not just once. And you also need to. Do it within like a, not a short amount of time, but like, you need to do it consistently because if I, if someone like, yeah, today, you know, I get like a few followers every day.

And like, most of them, I don’t really see them. But then, like I said, if they like one of my tweets or if they comment and or if I see that they just subscribe to my newsletter or if they popped up as a member on a swipe file, I was like, then I’m like, Oh, this person’s really so like, engaging with me. I remember them.

I know who they are. I remember their name. I’m looking into them, um, you know, doing research and so. I’ve tried to make a, it was sort of like a, just an organic, like accidental thing. But a couple of years ago, I decided like, when I was first on Twitter, I’m not going to try to like tweet a bunch and like, I’m just going to like interact a bunch.

And so I followed a bunch of people. I would always like, and like giving away a like is completely for free. Right. But to that person, it’s important. It’s, it’s some sort of engagement and then my face pops up on there. I will comment ask questions, DM retweet, ask if I can help with people. I’ve made it a point also to meet.

One to two new people a week for the last, you know, four years. And so they were able to realize a lot of relationships that without any sort of hard ask, and then later they’re referring new clients or they’re, re-tweeting your stuff, or they’re subscribing or they’re paying, or they’re a customer now.

And so it’s all about putting the hard work, right? Organically before you need to make that ask and sort of capitalize on the trust that you’ve built.

Joe Howard: [00:46:09] Yeah. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Uh, so I think that’s a good place to wrap up for the day. I didn’t want to give the name of the podcast.

Shout out. Everything is marketing as pupil. If you’re. Listening to this podcast in your podcast player, just go ahead and search for everything is marketing and give that subscribe to Corey. So second to last thing, Corey, where can people find your folks online podcasts, but also website Twitter?

Corey Haines: [00:46:34] Yeah. So on Twitter at Cory Haines co also my personal site is.

dot co. So that’s sort of where that connection came from. Maybe one day I’ll get greens.com and then the Twitter handle at Cory Haines. But for now you don’t have to deal with that and find it. It’s also swipe files.com. And by the way, if you’re a marketer and you were looking for a kind of private community and resources around marketing, you can use the code WP MRR for 50% often.

I don’t do any sort of like public. Ish discounts or, you know, like deals or anything like that. I pretty much exclusively do them for podcasts. And so if you want it to, it’s just WP MRR and you can email that to me and, or, um, I think you would put it right into the signup form.

Joe Howard: [00:47:12] Nice. Very cool man. And last thing I ask our guests to do is to ask our audience here on the podcast to give us a little iTunes review.

So if you wouldn’t mind, excuse me, it’s not even called iTunes anymore. It’s called Apple podcasts. I gotta get my, my verbiage. Right? Which you wouldn’t mind asking our listeners right now for a little Apple. Podcast review. I’d appreciate it.

Corey Haines: [00:47:31] Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s a, it’s a no-brainer, especially if you’re in WordPress.

Uh, I love the premise. I think it’s a super solid podcast. I hope that I’ve been a solid guest and I’m going to go leave a review right now. So you should too.

Joe Howard: [00:47:42] Awesome. Appreciate it. Corey, if you leave a review for the show, make sure you leave Corey’s name or something you’ve learned about in the episode.

I’ll shoot Corey screenshot and thank him for helping us get that review on Apple podcasts. If you are a new listener to the show, we’ve got a ton of old episodes. This is going to be episode 140 something we already talked about. Bingeing stuff on this podcast, but don’t go and there’s all sorts of stuff to Binjon TV, but don’t go waste your time being in something that’ll help you grow your business.

We’ve got all sorts of older episodes on all sorts of topics on the podcast. So go and finish them. All the episodes. Get us a few more downloads, maybe WP MRR, or joins. Everything is marketing and trending area on Apple podcasts. Wouldn’t that be cool. If you have questions for us on the show, feel free to email them into yo at WP MRR.

Dot com I actually do Q and a episodes every once in a while. So shoot those into me and I will get those answered live here on the podcast. That is it for this week’s episode will be in your podcast players or on YouTube again next Tuesday, although YouTube is Thursday. So Corey, thanks again for being on man.

It’s been real. Thank you for it so

Corey Haines: [00:48:50] much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

Podcast

E138 – Masterfully Acquiring Massive Businesses (David Vogelpohl, WP Engine)

In today’s episode, we revisit an old episode with David Vogelpohl of WP Engine – a platform for site building and management tools to drive more creative agility; cloud hosting and security solutions to enable enterprise performance; and optimization tools to give you ongoing intelligence.

Joe and David talk about exploring strategic partners, adding new components to keep existing clients while continuing to gain new clients to defeat churn, as well as information on acquiring new business and preserving the brand during the integration.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:12 Welcome to the pod, David!
  • 03:17 WordPress background and working at WP Engine
  • 05:49 Issues often faced in a large scale business
  • 09:35 The Negative Net Churn
  • 11:11 On acquisition process and success
  • 15:19 The advantages of an acquisition partnership
  • 18:46 How to prepare a business before selling
  • 23:41 What will an acquiring company look for in a business?
  • 28:26 Getting to know WordPress Gutenberg  
  • 35:17 Other configurations made possible with Gutenberg
  • 40:53 Find David online!

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Howdy folks, Joe Howard here. This week’s episode is a repeat. We decided to throw an already published episode back into the feed. This week, a few weeks ago, I launched an episode all about the WP buffs acquisition of easy, and we checked out a little bit of the data and that got a lot of listens, got a lot of great feedback as well.

So we decided to throw some more content around acquisitions into the feed for your listening. Pleasure. In 2020, I had the chance to talk with David Vogel, Paul he’s from WP engine. If you don’t know who David is, he was the spearhead of the WP engine acquisition of flywheel. And I had the chance to chat with him last year.

And man, this guy really knows his stuff. He was really the linchpin of that deal. And I think, you know, that actually down the line did have a really positive effect on our ability at Wu buffs to do a small acquisition as well. Although it was of course at a much, much smaller scale than the WPC or excuse me, then the WP engine acquisition of flywheel, but still a really cool story called a hero.

Here’s some insider information there and. Yeah, that’s what’s in the feed this week. So go ahead and enjoy today’s episode with David. The

David Vogelpohl: [00:01:22] WP MRR WordPress podcast is brought to you by WP buffs. WP buffs manages WordPress websites, 24 seven and powers digital growth for agencies. Freelancers and WordPress professionals join our white label program.

And by next week you could be offering 24 seven white label website support to your clients and passively growing your monthly recurring revenue or become a WP buffs affiliate to earn 10% monthly payouts every month for the lifetime of every client. And finally, if you’re looking to sell your WordPress business or website, check out the WP bus acquisition unit.

Learn more about all3@wpboss.com.

Joe Howard: [00:02:07] Hey, Hey, WordPress people. Welcome back to the WP MRR WordPress podcast. I’m Joe,

David Vogelpohl: [00:02:13] and this is Baba

Joe Howard: [00:02:14] fat. And you’re listening to the WordPress business podcast. Who’ve got Mr. Fat on the pod this week. What’s going on, Bubba,

David Vogelpohl: [00:02:22] uh, all kinds of stuff, trying to, you know, get the empire going throughout the galaxy and whatnot.

I wanted to take some time to say for the, for the pocket.

Joe Howard: [00:02:30] All right. Wow. You made some time and you’re very busy. Uh, Bounty hunting scheduled to come on the WordPress podcast. We appreciate it. All right, Bubba fat on the bar this week also known as David Vogel. Paul, am I saying the last name? Right. So almost straight, pretty

David Vogelpohl: [00:02:47] close Vogel pole, Baba fat.

Maybe it’s easier to pronounce.

Joe Howard: [00:02:53] Very cool. All right, David. Well, welcome to the, uh, the pod. You’ve had a little interaction that there’d be few busts. You just did a nice. Uh, the webinar with our team, uh, that people can feel free to check out. It’s all about speed and performance over@wpbuffs.com. But, uh, yeah, we did that webinar and then I was like, okay, we gotta have him on the podcast as well, because that webinar went so well.

And it’s just so invaluable. Um, so yeah. Why don’t you give people a little background about. Who you are and what you do with WordPress. Sure.

David Vogelpohl: [00:03:21] Uh, so I serve as the VP of Webster energy at WP engine and basically have a few things that I oversee. The main thing is our WordPress ecosystem strategy. So working with plugin and theme authors, I’m also serve as the brand lead for the Genesis and studio press products.

Those are essentially. WordPress theme products and then embark on various special missions supporting WordPress and the open source community. So mainly just kind of leading ecosystem efforts, if you would at WP engine.

Joe Howard: [00:03:51] Very cool. WordPress ecosystem is a big thing. Did you have background in WordPress and have you done WordPress stuff before joining WP engine?

David Vogelpohl: [00:03:59] Yeah, absolutely. So I ran a WordPress focused agency for five years. I founded that in 2010. Um, and then in 2015 joined WP engine, senior leadership team directly, I had to be painted as a client prior to that. So I still had some exposure company from there. Um, but I’ve been in digital for over 20 years.

First time I really started using WordPress though to build sites for others was in 2010, 2011.

Joe Howard: [00:04:28] Gotcha. Cool. So had ran an agency previously and had to be pensioned as a client. So you were kind of, you know, in the WP engine ecosystem, I guess. Yeah, it was a lot

David Vogelpohl: [00:04:37] of fun. I met Jason Cohen, the founder of WP engine, not long after founding my agency.

We had had some connections through other ways and just got to know each other and ended up winning them as a client. And then maintaining that relationship for five years. Um, until I decided to kind of exit the agency business and then join at that time, this the senior leadership team at WPH directly.

Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:05:03] sweet. So I talked to a lot of kind of small business owners and people who are working for, I don’t know, most people are probably like 5 million in annual revenue. And under like most of the companies I talked to, there are a few that are larger WP engine is obviously kind of on the other side of that scale, I guess, maybe not as big as like a fortune 500 company or something, but, uh, you know, doing over a hundred million in revenue, annual revenue, I think so a little different of a scale than a lot of the companies that come on this podcast.

Um, WordPress ecosystem job must be. Different at that scale, like what are the things that are moving the needle for a company as big as WP engine? I’d like for a company like mine, I could maybe partner with another company and do some work and it may have a good effect for me, but WP engine, you know, there aren’t a lot of other companies that are kind of as massive as WP engine in the space or maybe have raised as much money.

And so what does that look like in terms of like the needle movers for WP engine in the space? What are the strategy or strategies there?

David Vogelpohl: [00:06:01] Yeah, I think, you know, scale is a matter of perception too. I think for a lot of business owners and people just, you know, working in businesses, uh, the size of WP engine is quite large.

Obviously, as you pointed out for a fortune 500 company, that’s not quite the same thing with scale, though, with, with growing larger and larger and larger, you, you CA you face different kinds of challenges. Um, one challenge is churn customers naturally cancel the service for this. That or the other, even if you’ve done everything perfectly.

And so the larger you get, the more cancellations you naturally have, um, the markets you attack, the places you put advertisements that as you partner with trying to get the word out, you’re always having to overcome that. In other words, the bigger your customer piece, it’s the more new customers you have to bring in to make up for the fact that customers kind of naturally will.

Fallout for different reasons. So I think that’s one issue of scale, which is, um, how do you address, you know, the bigger customer base and more of your revenue kind of falling off naturally. One way you do that is by offering additional services and offerings for your customers to buy, give them a path to upgrade WP engine pursues, that by releasing new products, also partnerships with technology.

Strategic partners. For example, one recent thing we released was something called global edge security, which, which adds additional security protections for customers on WP engine. And that was in partnership with CloudFlare, but that gave us the ability to sell. More products to existing customers. So this is one way that you can overcome some of the problems that come with scale.

The other problem that comes with it is each new initiative or the collection of initiatives. You’re trying to get the, grow the company by a certain percentage. I think. This is rooted fundamentally in how your company is structured and the kind of financial and success story you’re trying to sell. In other words, is my percent good enough for you, or is 30% or greater good enough for you and WP engine aspires to be 30% or higher.

And so obviously the. More customers. We have spending more money, the harder that becomes. And I think, you know, we go out solving that in a variety of different ways. Um, but I think the key part of all of that is how can we deliver the most value to customers to earn those additional dollars? Um, get us in.

Position where more of our customers are upgrading. More of our customers are finding value in spending more, but we’re also making the same moves in positions of value for new customers coming through the door. In other words, providing additional areas of value and through that attracting new kinds of customers.

Um, but these are the struggles that every cuss, every company goes through as they go through these phases of scaling.

Joe Howard: [00:08:45] Yeah, well, it’s, uh, interesting hearing about it at a different scale as well, because we deal with churn as well. You know, people stop for subscriptions for this reason and that, and we’re always trying to find ways to, you know, do things like increase sales at certain times.

You know, when, uh, when churn is a little higher, uh, and trying to grow at a rate that is, that makes sense, but it’s different at a bigger company because you have all these different offerings you can, you can give to people. It’s not, you know, WP engine is now right. Not just hosting, you know, you have, uh, you know, studio press as part of the family as well, and a host of other, other companies as well.

So all these different offerings can come in and kind of, I’ve heard of this terminology kind of it’s called net negative churn. And so it’s really about, you want your. Upgrades to just kind of wipe out your churn. Uh, and if you can do that, you’ll be in a really good place. So definitely something that I think that’d be pinch has a pretty good chance of doing with all the different offerings as

David Vogelpohl: [00:09:35] well.

Negative net churn is a magic KPI in growing a company. Look at companies that are successful, particularly public companies. What you’ll see and in the SAS space in particular is that those with negative net churn demand the highest value for their stocks for their company. And the reason is. The revenue that you’ve acquired grows, it doesn’t shrink.

And so I know a lot of us think of churn is only the kind of force pushing down our revenue. But if you can get the existing customer base to spend more by delivering that value, um, your, your growth rate exponentially increases it’s it’s night and day of having negative net churn and not, and in this case, negative is a very good thing because it means your core revenue base is

Joe Howard: [00:10:20] growing.

Yeah. Very cool. All right. So WP engine. What I really liked the branding of WP engine. What kind of, it’s going through this rebrand right now? So we’re always looking for different examples of what other people are doing as a, as motivation for us. But, uh, the I’m just kind of on the WP engine homepage, and you see this kind of a cool symbol, but like most people know w engine for this kind of explosion of colors that’s coming on.

The background’s like a Holy festival sort of color thing almost. You said you’re. Brand manager, uh, not just, uh, for WP engine, but for things like studio press as well. Um, obviously WPN should is kind of at this big scale where part of growth strategy is acquiring other businesses and bringing them into a full into the fold to add a value to the things that you.

Guys already do well. Um, what does it look like to acquire? I guess we can use studio presses as an example, but to acquire another company and try to bring that company into the fold in terms of not just operations, but in terms of like brand perspective.

David Vogelpohl: [00:11:22] Yeah. That’s a great question. Um, my role with city of price in Genesis is, is.

Lead meaning that I oversee the success of the products and brand after they’ve joined WP engine, um, we actually have a whole brand group that specializes on actual brands, but this is more of like, you could think of word of it. Like if there’s a business unit leadership. Now it’s interesting. You talk about the acquisition side because how I got into this role, um, one might.

Agency that I referenced was actually a Genesis focused agency, so that was convenient. But I also led the acquisition team of studio press and Genesis into the WP engine business. This was our first acquisition and I’ve actually been through these of course before, but it was Debbie. WP engine’s first acquisition.

So the first thing that we did in that case, and any other case we’ve done other acquisitions since then, but, um, the first thing we do is we think, well, does this company, does the technology, do the people do their values, add additional value to. WP engine. In other words is the combination of things, these things greater than them by themselves.

In the case of Genesis in the studio press themes, which are also kind of part of that universe. Uh, the product answer was, was quite clear, um, for those unfamiliar, the Genesis community as a global community, with hundreds of thousands of developers rooted in the very old. School days if you would have WordPress.

And so a lot of people we respect are in that community and leaders in that communities from, from the community and product perspective, it made a ton of sense. The people part was next. So then you have to kind of get to know the people that work there as part of the diligence process, kind of get to know what they’re about.

You don’t get to talk to everybody because not everyone’s aware during the diligence process what’s happening. You get a feel for the culture to say, okay, if we worked with these. What would we be able to support them and would they mesh well with the way we work in that case, it was, you know, very well aligned.

So that was great. Then the final piece, and of course it’s much more complicated than I’m referencing here on the podcast, but it’s the integration piece. It’s how are these two brands going to co-exist together? Do they get smashed together in some way? How do you preserve the value of what’s there and not ruin it by making a brand shape?

And this is a process we’re still in the middle of with Genesis press, including our most frequent, frequent recent acquisition with flywheel. And there’s a ton of considerations there. So we go through and we identify what the brand identities are with the value of the products are. And what is the best way?

To begin with, to serve customers in deliver value, but also to do that in a cohesive and clear way in terms of how the brand’s products integrate with each other. And it is by no means easy. It’s probably one of those difficult things I’ve had to do since coming to WP engine and undertake is thinking about, you know, how to honor the people that use the products, service.

These can be a part of these communities. Um, but to do that in a cohesive way, that allows us to invest in those products and invest in those communities. Um, without, you know, letting them

Joe Howard: [00:14:31] languish. Yeah. Actually I’m really glad you brought up flywheel because it was really, when I saw that WP engine was, was acquiring flywheel, I thought, wow.

Like flywheel is a really big brand in the WordPress space and as is WP engine. And so what is WP engine going to do in terms of, I mean, you know, the kind of two decisions, like, you know, I think there’s, like you said, there’s a lot more gray area in this, but you know, a major decision is kind of dewy. Go more of the direction of folding this ended WP engine and kind of have it be part of the WP engine family, or do we keep it as a kind of separate brand and let it be part of WP engine family without necessarily like.

Bringing it into whatever the pure branding or, uh, operations of WP engine. Do you have a, and again, I’m not sure what you’re allowed to say or not say live on the podcast, but do you have any idea of kind of what direction you all are going in in terms of a flywheel?

David Vogelpohl: [00:15:24] What I can share is that at this point it is business as usual for both companies.

I think one of the advantages of an acquisition is that, you know, especially when. The companies involved when they join forces is not having to work on the same things twice. Um, a good example of this is WP engine’s dev kit, and which is essentially like a local development solution for WordPress. And in addition to other things, and then of course, flywheel has their very popular local by flywheel local development product, which is excellent.

Amazing. I actually use that. And so you think about the teams working on both products and they have of course, similar roadmaps and the same is true for how we might optimize cashing or storage or other types of things. And so one advantage of course, is that, well, you don’t have two teams working on the exact same features.

You kind of join forces and do those things even faster. And that’s better for the customer cause you deliver more value and it’s better for the teams because they’re not repeating the work over and over again. At the same time as you pointed out, there’s the notion of the brand and how people buy and how things are priced and packaged and things like that.

And there was actually a lot of anxiety around the acquisition that we were going to come in and instantly raised the pricing on Flywell plans, nothing like that was planned or is planned or anything like that. Um, just to be clear, but the mode that we’re operating in right now is, again, business as usual, we understand that customers rely on both platforms that they, um, have an affinity for both brands.

And that there’s two teams essentially that are, you know, going above and beyond to service this customer. So while we haven’t made any of those decisions today, um, the reason why we haven’t declared any decision or. Kind of landed in that direction is because it’s so important to us to honor the people that rely on the platforms, the technologies, and have affinities towards those brands.

And so it’s definitely, definitely not an easy thing. It’s not something we comment on. To specifics. But what I can clarify is for those of customers, either platform it’s business, as usual for now, the customers, the most important thing to us. And we want to make sure that the customers of both platforms are stable and confident, but also can benefit from those accelerated roadmaps.

So we are looking for those opportunities, but right now it’s business as

usual.

Joe Howard: [00:17:41] Very cool. I saw, I talked to a few people on the podcast whose businesses have been acquired. So I’ve, I’ve talked to, uh, So rich Tibor who, uh, who runs coal blocks, uh, and a, and a theme shop as well. But that was acquired by GoDaddy.

Um, I’ve talked to John Turner who runs seed prod, and that business, uh, was acquired as well. Uh, the. So I, so I’ve had experience talking with people about what the process looks like as a business owner, talking to, you know, a potential suitor to come and purchase your business and what that looks like.

But I don’t know if I’ve ever talked to someone who’s done the actual acquiring of businesses. Um, but I definitely have a lot of listeners. We have a lot of listeners who run small businesses. Maybe some of them are agency owners, but definitely a good amount of kind of like people who do plug-in stuff, or maybe SAS businesses who may at some point decide.

It may be time to sell their business. Um, as someone coming from your side of things, who’s really not only, it doesn’t sound like just led the charge on like, you know, in terms of, uh, studio press and Genesis stuff, but the actual acquisition of those, uh, companies, what can people do who are running small businesses today do now, even if they’re not looking to sell their business, now maybe it’s in the next, you know, There may want to consider it in the next five years or so, or even 10 years from now.

What kind of advice do you give to people who want to make sure that their business is ready to take that step? Once the time comes?

David Vogelpohl: [00:19:07] That’s a good question. Now, Debbie P and G we have an Austin legal group and corporate development group who get into some of the finer points around the agreements. And stuff relative to the acquisition in terms and so on and so forth.

But having gone through this a few times here and at other places, I definitely have some, I guess, words of advice to consider the first is to make your business sellable. I think a lot of. Entrepreneurs solo preneurs, um, think from a place of, well, this is my business and it doesn’t really matter what I do.

And I think as you think about that, long-term plan about a possible exit. Even if that’s not your plan today, operating your business in a sellable way. Now, what does that mean? I think one hire a really good accountant and keep up with accounting practices. I think where a lot of people get into trouble when they start to think about selling their businesses, a company that’s larger than them, which will have really good accounting practices will roll in and say, well, what about this?

And what about that? And they’ll view these as Rey they’ll view, poor accounting practices as risks. Like, well, we’re going to have to unwind this and figure this out. Can we really believe this? Information, th those types of questions end up coming up, um, quite a bit. I think the other thing that a lot of people, especially if you have multiple products is look for an opportunity to keep those products separated into different businesses.

Um, in other words, if you have a plugin that does X and a different plug-in that does Y and some themes and, uh, This brand that does one product or service and another brand that does something else. And I remember my agency days, I had all these little sub brands that would help kind of feed the agency business.

Um, but set those up as separate entities because then if someone rolls in, they can essentially buy that entity as a standalone entity with its own books and its own payment processor accounts, and all of these things. If you commingle all of those things and you don’t keep. That line of business in a separate business than it requires the purchaser to come in and kind of unwind those things.

So imagine let’s use a simple example. You have a Stripe account and it collects payments for three of your different product lines or business lines. Well, when someone wants to buy one of those products, they have to strip that payment process out, you know, set up their own. Payment processing process, I guess, or account for that particular product line.

And then integrate that into their business. It’s a lot easier if they can just pick up the company and all of the systems of all of the contracts in one, go and drop it in out of the acquisition. Of course, the challenge is this is creates a lot more operational load for you. But for those, I know that own multiple brands, especially in the WordPress space, I have the most confidence in those that have kind of separated them into their own.

Of course, you know, company entities to have the ability to kind of quickly offload those. If a suitor comes by talking about an acquisition.

Joe Howard: [00:22:00] Cool. That’s excellent advice. Uh, so hiring an accountant is one of the first things I did at WP boss, because I did not want to do that, nor am I a good selection to do with balancing of books.

Although I studied math in school, so one might think like, maybe I can do the numbers, but just not really something a, the minutia of that is not, does not match exactly what my brain wants to do. So yeah. I’ve hired an accountant. So I think I’m pretty good to go there. One thing I will admit that I have not done a good job of is separating different businesses into different areas.

So we run WP buffs, and then we’ve also opened source WP buffs and done WP MRR, which is this video course, all those payments come through the same Stripe account. So I’d have to separate those. If I wanted to do, you know, treat those separately, WP MRR is kind of like under the umbrella of WP buffs. But one thing I do think is kind of annoying sometimes is when I sign up for something, I give someone my credit card information, and then I get.

Like an invoice from Stripe or something. And it’s like, not that company at all. And it’s like, what is this? Like, this is random. Like, what did I buy from this? I didn’t buy this. And to me that’s like not good customer experience. So I guess that’s also me admitting, like, you know, we don’t do it perfectly either.

Um, but I think you’re you’re right. You want to prepare. For this kind of thing in the future, if it’s something you’re interested in, but you can’t do everything today, uh, sometimes you just have to kind of keep moving and then fix things as, as you go. Yeah. How about, uh, I mean, I would love to also just kind of get into.

I don’t know if we can use financial examples from acquisitions you’ve done, because I know a lot of times those numbers are not public or not. Uh, yeah, there’s some sort of document sign that says we’re not going to talk about exact numbers, but in terms of like financial health of a business, um, what does the acquiring company really look for in terms of that accounting?

Are they looking. I think probably this is business dependent, right. And it’s context dependent. But, um, often are you looking at kind of what the profit margin of the business looks like or you’re looking at what the just general revenue is? Are you looking to see how just maybe purely integrating that business into your own business can help your existing business grow?

Maybe it’s a little bit of all three. What is the. Financial side look like from an acquirer’s point of view,

David Vogelpohl: [00:24:14] there’s probably a breaching in the area where I’m, uh, less, uh, knowledgeable. Uh, however, what I can do do is kind of talk about it from the high level. Um, I think it depends largely on the suitor, the person who would acquire you and what their intent is.

Um, there’s different kinds of suitors, um, or kit different kinds of purchasers. So in WP engine’s perspective, typically what we’re looking at is. Is there, is there some sort of product or cultural synergy between the company and WP engine? For example, if studio press sold for waves, then that would not make a good fit for the kind of acquisition we wanted to do, which was to say, okay, if WP engine is a platform, plus this other thing together delivered a better experience.

That that’s fundamentally what we w we were optimizing for. There’s other types of acquirers. Um, someone might. Uh, what to acquire your business, reduce the costs of the business, increase the profits and leverage those changes in order to get the payback from the acquisition. Generally, most people are looking at your business relative to how much profit it generates, how much revenue it generates and what the growth rate is or is not.

And a lot of the times that value of the acquisition will be based on that kind of core value, meaning that. Without changing anything. This is what the company is worth is another way to think about that. And of course the amount of money and the profitability and the growth all drive that value. Now what I believe everyone ultimately does an acquisition for that is to say, well, we’re going to do other things on top of that, that will allow us to get extra value than what the core value of the businesses.

So for example, in the, we’re going to buy your company and you know that the. I guess it’s the pretty woman example that the type of acquisitions that Richard Gere was doing in that movie, we’re going to buy your company and we’re going to, you know, gut it and make the most amount of profit from it.

That’s one type. That’s not the kind we do. Um, but I think no matter what it is, whether it’s, you’re going to invest more in it, that’s fundamentally we did with Genesis and studio presses. We quadrupled the engineering effort in those products. Well, it wasn’t a gutting exercise. We figured by making those products better, integrating them with the WP engine platform, that the collection of all that stuff would have greater value.

But generally the value of business is going to be based on your revenue, your profitability and your growth rate. And then the, the entity buying it is saying, okay, that’s what we’re going to value that at. It added its base, but we’re going to do other things, whether it be gutted or invest in it to try to get this multiplier effect out of the acquisition.

And so that’s how I generally think about that relative to why people buy and how they think about the value of what they’re bombing.

Joe Howard: [00:27:02] Yeah. Wow. I think there’s a lot. In there. Um, and good knowledge for people who are, you know, interested in putting themselves in a position for that. Um, you know, I think for some people they have thoughts about, maybe I’d do that in the future.

Some people not so much, but I think in my opinion, it makes sense to put yourself in a position for that to happen, just because a lot of that is good business practice. Anyway, it’s not just for the sake of maybe wanting to be acquired in a little bit. It’s just like if you’re in a position to. You know, we’re an acquisition is going to be healthy for business to want to take a look at you.

That just means you’re running a good business anyway. So it’s kind of seems to all fold into the, into the same thing. Um,

David Vogelpohl: [00:27:42] totally. I mean, you have audits, you have legal requirements. Um, you never know what’s going to happen. I mean, even if you were thinking about like, if he was this independently owned business and you were to pass on or something, like making it easier for the people that might inherit that business from you, I’m guessing you probably have a closer relationship with, but my point is that.

You’re right. These are good practices. And by following those practices, it’ll help you beyond acquisition. But certainly if that opportunity runs across your play, you don’t want to lose it because you spooked some buyer because your accountings are wacky or you have your assets. Co-mingled in weird ways.

Joe Howard: [00:28:17] We have some show notes, had some show notes that we’re going to go through. Some stuff we kind of went into acquisition world because man, that stuff is super interesting. And I, I just wanted to talk more about it, but we’ll take a little bit of a left turn here and talk a little bit about, uh, we’re and Gutenberg.

So we have here kind of in show notes, how, uh, we’re pressing Gutenberg can help solve the exponential landing page failure, paradox. I wasn’t aware of this paradox. Maybe you could tell me and our listeners a little bit about it. Yes. Yes.

David Vogelpohl: [00:28:43] Yes. I, I, uh, it’s interesting. So we all are familiar of course, with AB testing and, um, a friend of mine ran a company called experiment engine.

Her name is Clairvaux wa lawless. She eventually was. Uh, her company was acquired by optimized glee eventually became the VP of product at Optimizely, but she had shared this stat with me from her experiment engine days, uh, for people using that platform anyway, 80% of B’s and an AB test failed to be the a 80% of the time.

Yeah. When a marketer and designer sit down to actually make conversions go up. They actually fail at that. And so that’s the failure part of the landing page failure, paradox, meaning I can,

Joe Howard: [00:29:28] I can for sure. Vouch for that because we AB test all the time and very often the B or the test we try, that’s not the constant where we had before.

The new thing we tried doesn’t do as well as the old thing. So it happens to us a lot.

David Vogelpohl: [00:29:40] Exactly. And so if you watch shows like. Netflix is madman. Actually, I think that originated on a different network, but it’s like the old school, the advertising and marketing was like, we’re all going to go out and get drunk and come in in the morning with a perfect idea.

And that’s going to be the perfect idea. We’re going to make millions of dollars. And what we found through AB testing is it doesn’t work that way at all. As a matter of fact, most of the time we’re wrong in what our assumptions are, what our guesses are, what people want to hear. So why does Gutenberg help with this and how does this problem now exponential?

Well, I think what we’re seeing is in the early days of AB testing, it was very linear. We’re going to AB test our homepage. We’re going to AB test our traffic from Google. We’re going to AB test our traffic from Google on this keyword. And we would isolate sections of traffic in order to. Customize those messages.

And I think as time’s gone on and there’s been more and more channels, more and more segments of channels and more and more needs to iterate on new ideas with personalization. We see that problem getting even worse. Now we’re not just customizing messages for sources of traffic or keywords or the homepage, but even though.

Individual personas or cohorts of people and sometimes even individual people. And so one of the things I’m most interested in with Gutenberg is this ability to create content quickly, to get new ideas to market quickly. And in that’d be patients case. For example, we use block-based building approaches, our marketers built 2000 something, landing pages and product pages and stuff last year.

Right. They needed to develop herself on 24 of them, which meant that they were able to iterate 2000 times without having to go bug a developer, to create the new page, to test the new level of messaging. Um, and I think this is a huge value that Gutenberg is delivering. So we have more and more reasons to iterate on our messages.

And I think Gutenberg’s timely because it now allows our marketers and content creators and non-technical site owners to try and iterate those messages more quickly. Um, and to get those to market. I mean, frankly, within the same day, a lot of the time we were going from like three week turnaround times on landing pages, after, you know, a wireframe meeting and a design meeting, and then go code that design to now arming our marketers with a bunch of predesigned pre-configured blocks that they’re able to churn content out in a day.

Right. Test those messages move on to the next one. Um, and so that’s where I think Gutenberg is so powerful in this context. Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:32:01] I love the idea of just iterating on ideas faster. Um, a lot of times, and our experience with this is, is this as well that our marketing team, isn’t the most technical of our teams, uh, and to do something advanced, a lot of times you need to grab the developer and say, Hey, could you help me to build this?

Like, I want to create this landing page. Can you help page builders have come in and help with that as well. But I totally agree. I think Jen, or excuse me, Gutenberg also. Uh, helps tremendously with this. If we can, uh, give marketers the tools, they need to build something that is just as good and just as beautiful and just as functional as what they could have built with pure code with something that’s drag and drop with something that’s blocked blocks and modular, uh, it makes the process of.

Just launching something or putting something to market much faster. Uh, and as we all know, taking the, you know, you need to have statistically significant AB testing. You have to have a certain amount of traffic on it. It takes you three weeks to put the landing page up. Then you got to wait another week to get some traffic and see how it does.

You know, if you get it out today, you wait a week. Then next week you’re able to see did this test work or not? Let’s. Iterate on it again. Oh,

David Vogelpohl: [00:33:08] and that’s so challenging. I mean, you also pointed out the page builders. I mean, I certainly love Ella mentor and BeaverBuilder and things like that. I think they do an amazing job and I think it’s cool to now see some of those capabilities in WordPress core with Gutenberg and the new block editor.

And I think, you know, all of those are great choices for achieving this type of value out of a brand. Um, but yeah, all of that iterating and all that, you know, time between idea and reality. Especially when you have lots of cohorts and lots of testing and you want to try to fail fast. It’s just not conducive to that.

And so I think these types of approaches approaches, you know, will dominate the web in the future. And I think, you know, as we have our development team is funny. I remember when Gutenberg came out at, someone said, Oh, what do we need to developers and designers for anymore? Um, I don’t know about you. We didn’t lay off.

Anybody we hired actually more of them. Um, and the reason why is because they were arming our marketers with a greater collection of these website components, but also more sophisticated ones, ones that were integrated with other things that, uh, behaved differently based on say personalization or the person’s persona or where they came from, whether they were a WP engine customer or not, that might fundamentally change the type of.

You know, offer content, you put on a particular webpage. Well, you can, pre-configure all that. Pre-code all that into the blocks or components you enable your content creators with, which means that it’s not just a design tool. It’s not just a layout tool, but rather it can also be an integration tool. And one example of this is our news and resources.

Element which pops in latest news and blog posts from different publications. We run one called torque and one called velocities and the WP engine blog and the content creator landing page creator just drops that into the page and it magically connects to all those other things. So, um, it doesn’t have to just be the simplified design tool or a component tool, but rather you can actually include, you know, really technical, functional stuff.

That’s super cool to give the content creator right there at their fingertips.

Joe Howard: [00:35:12] Yeah, love that. Yeah. Speaking of things you’re doing with Gutenberg, what else does WP engine and I guess the WP engine family doing with Gutenberg, I mean, you’ve got a ton of different, uh, 10 different businesses, I guess, all under the WP engine umbrella, but you’ve got flywheel.

You’ve got Genesis, you’ve got studio, press and WP engine in general. What kind of other Gutenberg projects you have going on?

David Vogelpohl: [00:35:32] Well, if I want to show someone the magic of Gutenberg and the magic of WordPress, I actually show them another acquisition. We did the same year of studio press. It got a little overshadowed, I guess I just want closure side, but it’s a Tomich blocks, which is, I just been floored by it.

I mean, it was an opportunistic acquisition. Um, shortly after studio press it blended well with that, we’ve actually integrated. Atomic blocks into the studio, press premium themes products, meaning they kind of auto install when there the themes leverage the library of atomic blocks there. Um, but in the latest version of atomic blocks, 2.0, Mike McCallister, the lead developer there added in this notion of section and layouts.

So it’s not just that you have a. Set of pre design premium blocks, if you would. And this is a free plugin on wordpress.org, by the way, but you also get different layouts and configurations of them. So in other words, I want a pricing grid. Uh, I want, you know, a different type of header, basically, these pre.

Laid out iterations of blocks that, I mean, you can just click a button and then boom, all of those elements are right there on the page. Uh, they can include design controls, you can kind of make it look like your brand and all that kind of stuff. So you still have that, those capabilities. Um, but what it’s putting at your fingertips is just jaw-dropping.

I definitely use it when I want to share the magic code blocks is also good. Um, there’s a bunch of other. Um, kind of library type plugins in the ecosystem. They’re also doing excellent jobs, but what I’m probably most proud of from WP engine on the block front is definitely atomic blocks.

Joe Howard: [00:37:11] Yeah. Awesome. I have dived into both a ton of box blocks and code blocks.

I think those are the two I’ve kind of played around with. I know that there are others out there. Um, but yeah, I mean the amount of things you can do and just the number of things you can do way more easily than with the old editor is pretty astounding. I mean, you can. Put together really professional, like highly refined page, like super quickly.

Um, I think people who have experienced the page builders, you know, that, uh, Beaver builders now mentors of the world Elementor is re excuse me. Uh, Gutenberg is right there with, uh, in terms of like drag and drop functionality, especially when you incorporate those, these block

David Vogelpohl: [00:37:48] editors. I think it’s interesting.

I think Elementor, and BeaverBuilder for me are actually much further along in their core state. I mean, they’ve had gears to do this tons of rows using a Gutenberg isn’t even a year old yet. It was launched December of last year. I think they’re fundamentally different approaches to leveraging component basis.

Systems, although Elementor has Gutenberg capabilities within it, leveraging some of the Gutenberg technology within Elementor itself. Um, but I would personally say those products are way further along and, and this, this notion of componentized page building and site building and componentized design, I think Gutenberg is it’s early days.

I think products like atomic blocks, even code blocks, other things like that. It’s really leveraging that, that baseline. The capabilities within WordPress core itself to create those experiences and in the Genesis and atomic blocks worlds. What we say Genesis in particular is that a Genesis is a product that developers use to create experiences that content creators love to use.

So in other words, as you think about atomic blocks, for example, using Gutenberg is kind of the core atomic blocks has delivered value on top of that, that makes it a joy for content creators to use in many, many more contexts. Then the, what are called the core blocks, the blocks that come with WordPress are able to do straight out of the box.

And so I think when you augment with products, if you have a dev team that can create. Custom blocks do crazy stuff. It’s that flexibility. That is a lot of that value of Gutenberg. And of course also being a part of WordPress core. But in my view, I think, you know, in a lot of those respects Elementor and BeaverBuilder and things like that, I’ve had a lot longer to build that value.

And so I think in the, in their core product, They’re they’re further along. I think when you start augmenting with atomic blocks, custom blocks, you built yourself, what are the value starts to balance out? But I’m a big fan of both of those products.

Joe Howard: [00:39:48] Yeah. Very cool. David, I think that’s an awesome place to wrap up.

Uh, I’m actually super excited to see what Gutenberg looks like, you know? In two years in five years, I think your rights, you know, the page builders have had a long time to really refine their product. But Gutenberg is, is still, uh, an infant or maybe a teenager at this point. So I’m interested to see what happens as it, as it grows up.

Cool. We have now three. Things we’re going to do to end the show. One of which is new for listeners. So let’s go with a new thing first. Um, we have a little discount code for WP engine. Uh, people are interested in WP engine. They can get a little discount. You want to give people that discount code? Sure.

It’s

David Vogelpohl: [00:40:25] WP buffs 20, and uh, that discount code will give you four months free on our annual plans.

Joe Howard: [00:40:34] Four months free on annual plan. So people out there I’m sure using all sorts of different hosting, but if you’re interested in moving to somewhere new or you’re just starting a website and you’re looking for hosting, um, you can grab four free months, WP bus, 20 a discount code over at WP engine.

Cool. All right, listeners also know what’s, uh, what’s coming up next. I always like to give our guests, uh, the ability to tell our listeners where they can find them online. So maybe like social profiles, websites, all that jazz,

David Vogelpohl: [00:41:00] make it easier. Check that out. Hit me up on Twitter at WP David. The

Joe Howard: [00:41:06] nice, Oh, I like that.

Very cool. Easy to remember too.

David Vogelpohl: [00:41:11] That’s easier than

Joe Howard: [00:41:12] Paul. Sorry. Yeah, exactly. Last but not least. I always ask our guests. To ask our listeners for a little five star iTunes review for the show. So if you wouldn’t mind getting a mobile ask, I’d appreciate it.

David Vogelpohl: [00:41:27] Absolutely. Uh, definitely give a five star review to this podcast would be awesome to see that.

And, uh, thank you for doing that.

Joe Howard: [00:41:37] Yeah, I appreciate it, David. Thanks. Very good. There have been far worse on the show and that was one that was definitely, definitely one of the top ones. So all good. Cool. If you are a new listener. Go ahead and finish some old episodes. You already been Joel, your game of Thrones.

You’ve binge all your Netflix shows go and build something that’s going to help your business grow. I’ve got a lot of old episodes, so go check those out. WP mrr.com/podcast. If you’re going to go leave review, leave David’s name in there and something you learned about the episode. That way we can, uh, Take a little screenshot and forward it to him and give him a thank you for being on the show and yeah.

Helps us to know what other, you know, what episodes people are most interested in. So we can do more content like this. Cool. If, uh, yeah, if you’re leaving a review WP, mrr.com forward slash iTunes, redirect you right there. Make a nice and easy for you. If you have questions on the show, if you have questions on the show, if you have questions for Christie and I, who are on the show, email them in to yo@wpmrr.com Kristi and I had just released, I think.

Uh, whenever this is coming out, it’s a few weeks back. You go and look. So it’s we got, uh, some Q and a episodes were answered some listener questions. It was a ton of fun and we want to do more of them. So, yeah, sure. Just questions@yoatwpmrr.com. Yeah. WP mrr.com. If you’re an agency or. Freelancer and you want to do more monthly recurring revenue stuff.

And you’re really tired of like having a good month and then having a really bad month. You’re like, how can we make this more comfortable and more scalable? Yeah. All that stuff that, you know, you want to do with your business, check out WP MRR video course, uh, WP buffs. Open source 24 seven support. Do it yourself.

Take the video course, everything we’ve learned at WP buffs that you can do, uh, everything we’ve done and more than half of the time. And please be sure to grab that 75% discount that’s on the site running right now. Also be sure to grab that WP boss 20 discount code over WP engine. If you’re looking for new hosting, that is it for this week, you will catch us again in your podcast player at next Tuesday, David.

Thanks again for being honest and real.

Podcast

E137 – Growing a Powerful Decoupled WordPress Solution (Leonardo Losoviz, GraphQL API)

In today’s episode, Joe talks to Leonardo Losoviz, a freelance developer and writer, with an ongoing quest to integrate innovative paradigms such as Serverless PHP and GraphQL into existing PHP frameworks such as WordPress. He is a one-man team running GraphQL API plugin, offering the most powerful GarphQL experience into any WordPress site.

Leonardo fearlessly shares his expertise in coding and developing websites, the ongoing challenges of promoting a new plugin, and the opportunities of building-in-public approach for developers to reach more audiences.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:27 Welcome to the pod, Leonardo!
  • 03:03 The freedom of building websites as a hobby
  • 05:03 What is GraphQL API?
  • 12:23 Security issues on open source API
  • 16:24 Pulling SEO data on a decoupled site
  • 20:42 The struggles of promoting a product
  • 24:40 How do you rate success?
  • 28:43 Coming soon: a behind-the-scene monthly newsletter on plugin development 
  • 30:45 The building-in-public strategy
  • 33:32 Strategies to eventually compete in the plugin market
  • 38:56 Find Leonardo online!

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Howdy folks, Joe Howard here this week, I got to sit down and chat with Leonardo . Leonardo is a plugin developer, the plugin developer behind graph QL API. So this conversation started off pretty technical kind of explain like what graph QL is. We go into, like, what is headless WordPress or decoupled?

WordPress? What is like a react front end versus a WordPress backend look like? So the first 10 or 15 minutes of the pod are pretty technical. So if you want to hear all that background, just keep listening. But if you wanted to skip all that and go to the second half of the podcast, that’s totally cool too.

We started off more technical, but we got into more of the philosophy behind building open source software. Leonardo is kind of self-admittedly, he’s a tinkerer. He’s again, very technical guy, adept developer, but around growing. Open source software around getting more adopters for his plugin against, you know, working on making his tool a really known around the WordPress space has been a challenge for him.

So we talked a little bit about some strategies and tactics around doing that. What he’s tried, what’s worked for him, what hasn’t worked for him. And I gave a little advice around how, and maybe some more community stuff he talked about. You know, working with some of the community on, on Reddit, some of whom are our biggest fans of WordPress.

So it was very interesting conversation talking about that as well. So yeah, graph ql-api.com. If you want to check out the website while you listen, uh, and that is it for the intro without further ado, please. Welcome.

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:01:45] WP MRR WordPress podcast is brought to you by WP buffs. WP buffs manages WordPress websites, 24 seven and powers digital growth for agencies, freelancers and WordPress professionals. Join our white label program. And by next week you could be offering 24 seven white label website support to your clients and passively growing your monthly recurring revenue.

Or become a WP buffs affiliate to earn 10% monthly payouts every month for the lifetime of every client. And finally, if you’re looking to sell your WordPress business or website, check out the WP buffs acquisition unit, learn more about all3@wpbuffs.com.

Joe Howard: [00:02:26] All right. We are live on the part that this week we’ve got Leonardo, the soul is on the podcast this week.

Lenardo why don’t you tell folks a little bit about what you do with WordPress. What I’ve been

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:02:36] working with WordPress since 2012. Now I’m a developer. I will be in their websites. And I said, well, building websites, I will be doing my own solutions for the websites and my own solution grew into some library, which is what I’m working on now, which is based on graph QL.

It gave us an address solution. And now I’m not beating websites for clients anymore. I’m full on working on this library. It’s a plugin

Joe Howard: [00:03:01] nowadays. Okay, cool. So it sounds like you went from either like freelancing or client work and moved into more selling your own product or building your own plugin open-source plugin.

Is that

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:03:13] right? Actually, I have never mind to get a client. I’m never even making money. I’m good with building stuff. No, with selling stuff. So I was actually building a website for a friend of mine. He could send it to you. Uh, I would vote on Siri for him and you know, when I get hobby, so, because he’s a coffee, you can take liberties, you can experiment, you can do what you want to do.

You see something new and you’re like, I’m going to try this out. You know? So, you know, you don’t have the recruitability or having to make money in the test. So I was trying stuff. And actually, I, I, when I started with WordPress at the beginning, I’m talking about 2012. Okay. For me, it was glorious. You’re like, wow, look at this.

Like nowadays, you know, people complain about WordPress because I mean, it’s all by now, but when I started, which will not, you will not all you on the new for me was just amazing. I need this moment, you know, that we’ll know Facebook nowadays, everyone says needs to be a Facebook. Everyone, you know, it doesn’t use react.

They’re like, Oh my God, what are you doing? You know, but I’ve been going on with WordPress and I’m still in love with WordPress. And I don’t think I will stop in love with WordPress in that sense. So, as I was saying to now our playing and I’m playing with WordPress since yeah. Since students and on Twitter, trying on new things and coding new things and experimenting with weed stuff.

Um, and not so much client work I don’t have. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:04:37] Cool. Tell me, as, as someone who’s not as technical, you mentioned this project you’re working on, so people want to check out the stuff you’re working on. It’s just that graph ql-api.com. You mentioned before, you know, plugin library. As someone who’s not very technical, I’m kind of like, what, what does the library mean?

What does a, you know, as opposed to a library, like in a plugin or part of a plugin, maybe we could also start with just like, what is graph QL? And like, how does it fit into the WordPress ecosystem? Like what would people use it for? You know,

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:05:12] what breasts, it’s a software for making websites. But what does it mean to make it work set?

Right. You know, when they ask you, Hey, can you make it work for me? Yeah, sure. How much will you charge? Well, I don’t know what works or do you want to build, right. So there are websites and websites. You can actually be a bicycle or you’re going to have the fastest car, or you’re going to have like a, like a studio apartment or you go ahead and print a house, you know?

So it’s the same with websites at the end of the day. So in this sense, no way we have these trends to become more modern. These trend to use client side frameworks for rendering the content of your website to make it dynamic. So the prime example of this is Facebook. I think Facebook has set like a precedent in the sense that it’s easy to use and it’s free.

So then everyone expects that kind of quality. So then the question is how do we make Facebook, like websites that had a couple of tools. Well, you can call them libraries or we can call them tools at the end of the day, the library, because it’s only one of them is called Riyadh. Another one is called view and I’ve used that a couple of them.

So the idea with these tools is that you will render the website on the client, on the browser, and then you can interact with the work site very easily. So for instance, when you’re typing and the response, you know, appears on there on real time, When you’re chatting with somebody that like a small popup and now you type, you know, you had the response from the other person that he comes at the same time, all of these dynamic websites.

Right. So they’re all rendered on the client’s side. So if you think about WordPress, WordPress is very static in that sense, because historically you render the whole website on the server and you need to refresh the whole page, right? So you could not have that interactivity. That I type something on the screen.

There is a response, you know, that the screen actually changes on real time. And so the idea is, well, we still want to use WordPress. So how do we make that happen? Deviate to the couple, the server side and the client side. So now you have the server, would you see in WordPress to handle all of your data?

You still upgrade your boss, you have your users, you add your comments, all of the data. You still have a WordPress backend. So manage that, but on the front end on the client, you use these tools such as react or view to produce HTML, to convert that into what the user would see. Okay. But now how do we communicate?

That’s where you have graph QL. Let let’s not talk about graph QL yet because  is a new tool. There’s something called rest, which is what you have in world breasts scenes. Version 4.7, which is what is called an API is basically a way to get data. So you’d send the WordPress server. I need all the blog posts.

Please give them to me. And the API, the rest API will return a list of blog posts in a easy to consume format with you called Jason. So in the Jason, you will have an array of item of items, all the blog, post title, URL, and author. Time, you’re an offer time. You are an offer for all of them. So you get all this data and in the front, in the front end, you can use react for you to produce your website, your webpage.

Okay. So this is what we have had with WordPress since version 4.7. So like three, three to four years ago. So now we have graph QL graph. QNE the same concept as rests. Would it feel differences? The few differences is the rest. You get all the data that it really find, or what is called an invoice. So with rest, you say, I need all the blog posts and they say, you’re ready.

That will be slash booked. And you get that and you cannot really customize it. So whatever you’re given, if you have, and you have to use that, if you need some custom data, You need to create another input. So when you have one end point, you can use it. When you have two end points, you can use it when you have 10 end points, you can use it.

But when you have a big project and you might need like 15 points or 100 end points, it becomes a management problem to have to use. Rest graph. QL works differently. We’ve left here and you have one single endpoint. So with rest you have slash posts. Slash Pullmans slash users with graph QL. You have only one single endpoint, which is slash graph QL, and w and then you do a query and you ask for the data that you need exactly the data that you need.

So you say, I need the posts and for each post, I need the things, ID, title, and condoms. And then the end point will give you exactly that data. So then you don’t need to manage like the, the end points on the bucket. So at the end of the day, rest and wrap you in serve the same purpose, which is so good to have the server transfer data to the client.

The difference is that what wild rice, the data that you get to redefine in graph QL is dynamic. You get it on the fly. You can say, I need this data. So then he becomes lingual.

Joe Howard: [00:10:58] Cool. Okay. I think I followed that. I’ve had the conversations on this podcast before about headless WordPress, and that was a Scott Ballinger from app presser.

That was episode 72. Is that people have called this kind of like headless WordPress, decoupled, WordPress. We’re talking about the same thing there is that

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:11:16] right? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s called the couples because you’re decoupling the backend and the front end. Now you’re going to have war breasts on the backend and you can render the content with any other tool.

It doesn’t have to be a WordPress. So now they are decoupled.

Joe Howard: [00:11:32] Gotcha. Okay, cool. So this has been an interesting topic for me. I’m on your website right now. Just graph ql-api.com. And I see you have like a, a cool, like interactive area here. Where I believe it’s talking about that single end point. You’re talking about that your tool uses because I see like you can press this play button and it’ll do this.

It’ll try to grab what it needs from you, but it looks like it’s grabbing from a single endpoint and your tool is just asking for what it wants. Right. It’s asking for URL, title, excerpt, date, comments, limit three. And based on that single end point, you can just pull from that end point. I feel like makes it easier again, I’m not super technical, but.

I like to be able to ask for something and get what I want back and probably the same for developers. Um, tell me a little bit about security issues around the open API. I know there’s been talk of like turning off that API because of security risks in the past. That’s something that’s still a concern.

Is that, how does that kind of work within your framework?

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:12:36] Yeah. All right. Um, one thing, uh, before we jump into the, into this issue, You, you were playing with the client. You can press play and even the data, but you can also play with it. You can actually modify the query. So if you start typing, it will list down.

It will list down all the fees that you have available on there, or what is called the schema. So this is what we have the security, Brenda, you were asking when you type there, it gives you all the things, right. But that is available to everyone, not just to you. Who is the admin on the website? You go now you’ll have one single endpoint.

I am somebody that you don’t know, and I can also type a query against your word set, and I can see all of your data. So that is potentially a security problem because you know what happens if you have private data, the user’s email, should that be public or should that be private? Now, this is not a new topic because I mean, you have different with WP recipe.

I also. That you had a user’s email, should we make that public or should we make it a private, but graph QL? The problem is compounded because all of your data is available on that single endpoint. So what do we do? Okay. I would send you a, this is a problem that comes with graph QL, right? In general, like, I mean, all of the solutions that you have for WordPress, for Laravel PHP or JavaScript.

For.net for all of them, every single graph your server will need to cope with these fisheries is a big problem with graffiti. The way that I have based this challenge is with something called persistent queries, which is the intersection between graph UN and the rest. So if you’re actually playing on, or if you drag the documentation on the site, you can read about the you’re going to play so much about that because  worries.

It’s an endpoint that you publish on your website like wrists. So then what is the idea? The idea is instead of having the single endpoint that is available to everyone, you only have it on your backend, on your WordPress, on your WP admin. So then you log into the WP admin and you have the same client to compose graph your queries.

Then you grade your query and URL and content. And when you have the query that you want. You publish it. And then you publish that, that becomes an endpoint on its own URL, similar with rest. And now you grab that URL from the new endpoint and you access that on your website. So that means that you are once again, finding all the data that is exposed, not everything you, and you can still access everything.

But by default, the default behavior on, on, on my solution, on my plugin, These two, the same as the single end point and to have the admin create versus the inquiries because they’re very secure.

Joe Howard: [00:15:42] Cool. I, I remember when I was talking with Scott in our conversation about headless, we talked about what were some of the reasons you may want to do.

Decoupled WordPress and have kind of a WordPress backend and react front end or something like that. And one of the reasons was performance and it was just the speed loading time of, of the website. And I remember Scott’s, he has his podcast, he created his podcast website on a headless website and it was so fast, like going to different URLs, different pages.

It was like almost instantaneously loading. And I was like pretty blown away. But as someone who’s, um, kind of a layman from a technical standpoint, if I’m thinking about like, I want to create a website that has good SEO. And usually when I create a WordPress website, okay. I’ll use like, you know, SEO plugin or rank math, SEO, plugin.

And that’s how I kind of do my SEO. How does that work when it comes to. Pushing that kind of stuff through to maybe a react front end. Like I want to make sure all my title tags are correct and meta descriptions are correct. And that the SEO data is pushing through so that I can have my. WordPress backend react front end sites, still rank well and have good on-page SEO so that I can drive some traffic.

Is that easy or is that still a challenge? Like how does that SEO data pull through to a react front end in terms of decoupled site? Is that a, is that a challenge?

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:17:06] It’s complexity. So what you’re actually saying it will, we all want to have, and you need to invest a lot of time and a lot of equity into that.

So what you want is a website. And on one side is the capital so that you can access all the data and render that very quickly on the front end so that the user can have a very snappy experience. But at the same time, if you load that same URL, it has to come from the server. So then you have exactly the two solutions.

You’re coding it twice. You’re putting it on the server to produce HTML that works well with SEO. And at the same time, you’re calling it on the client side so that the user can have a snappy experience itself is a challenge. Uh, they know standard solution for that. The best strategy is to use the tools in Riyadh than looser.

What do you call server side rendering that you can also render the, the react components on the server and bring your HTML on the server. And so the same components. You can render them on the client or on the server, but it’s effort and there’s, you know what I mean? The best websites in the world, the nicest ones, they have huge teams basically.

So take care of these challenges. Now we have a COVID alert right on Gutenberg. If you think about it is react that it being a server side rendered because actually you go to the WP admin, you go to the WordPress editor and when you create the blockbuster, you’re using react. And the way that it works Gutenberg is that he saves that HTML on the, of the blog post and that he says it render on the server and Gutenberg right now doesn’t really work on the client side is a lot of effort to make a good number website that works on the client side one day, they will, they will work on this issue to have Gutenberg, be both server site render and also perfectly working on the client side.

And then we’re breasts will be massive in the sense that you can be in these wonderful websites by, you know, using the WordPress editor. When that happens, it will be extremely awesome. But until then it’s a challenge.

Joe Howard: [00:19:20] Yeah. I think they started on Gutenberg knowing that that was a long-term project and that, that wouldn’t.

Work perfectly the first, you know, year or two, it’s going to take years to get it to that point. But I think that pain point we’re talking about here is, is a big one in terms of decoupled WordPress. After I had my conversation with Scott, I was thinking like his website is so fast. Like I would have, we would have such an advantage over some other WordPress websites in terms of like SEO stuff.

If we had a website that loaded that fast, like Google would be like, wow, like. Okay. Like, obviously this is a ranking factor. Now your website’s so fast, let’s rank the site better, but the challenges, our current SEO structure we’d have to totally translate that into, you know, we don’t have a huge team here at WP boss.

We’ve got a small team and so we don’t have the resources to be able to pull off a big project like that at this point. But I think that’s, if that’s a challenge that a team could solve, how to get there. The challenge is WordPress is open source, right? So everyone’s always updating their plugins and changing the plugins and themes.

And so to be able to move all that stuff seamlessly into a react environment or a different front end environment requires probably a big team to be able to constantly be working on, Oh, someone updated their plugin. Okay. We have to update how we’re pulling in this information to react, something like that.

So, um, yeah, there’s a lot there, but it’s a cool, it’s a cool idea. How hard is it to get new users, you kind of mentioned at the beginning of this call, you were like, I’m not very good at selling or like marketing or kind of that area of the business. You’re more of a tinkerer. You’re more of a product person.

You know, you want to work on a cool solution. How has the journey been in terms of, you know, your stuff’s live right now? Graph ql-api.com. People want to go check it out. How has the process kind of getting adoption for this tool? It’s

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:21:09] a work in progress. And it’s tough in a way, you know what I mean? Do you think they don’t come easy?

I am envious of all of the plugins with millions of downloads. You know, you, you don’t know how much effort it is. You, you look at it from outside and you’re like, I can do that. But when you’re doing that, you’re like, okay, wait, where’s your, what should I do now? Whatever I tell you, what in mind strategy.

Okay. So I’ve been working on the project and I think my brother is quite cool. So then I was thinking, this is me being very naive, right? I just uploaded, I have it. Don’t get hub. People will use it and then I will get millions of followers. No, it doesn’t work. Even if you had the greatest software ever, you need to promote it.

I think that Google is the only software that were not promoted. That became, you know, That is, that was amazing. But otherwise, everything you had to promote very heavily. What I’m doing right now is to write blog posts. I’m not going to spend money. I’m not going to advertise because I have an open source plugin.

So from that side, I find it clashing with the values. If you’re doing something open source, I believe it’s kind of weird if I pay for an app. Right? So it has to be organic and organic and just writing blog posts and trying to connect to people. Um, funding on Twitter. I don’t know how to use Twitter. So then I approached people and I, Hey, look at what I’m really being, you know?

And they’re like, Hey, do you know what I mean? Don’t send anything to me. No, but it’s open source. Please check it out. Yeah. Okay. And they don’t show up, you know, you see what I’m saying? That is actually hard. Every 20 people that you approach one will download it. So I don’t have a team it’s me. So at the end of the day, I’m thinking, okay, should I spend my energies, bugging people and doing marketing, or should I work on my product?

You know, it’s, this is, this is the challenge. If you don’t have investor behind your back to give you money and then employ a team of marketing people and saves man, and you have to do everything, the thing it takes time, you know, it’s slow. It’s a process. Now the good thing is that when somebody does like my product.

They are very, uh, effusive about it. Like, Oh my God, this is so good. And you feel good? And the funny thing that happens with strangers, so I’m promoting my stuff on Reddit and they don’t know who the person is. You know, it’s a, it’s an avatar and somebody says, this is so awesome. I just feel so good about it.

So I, I, right now I’m living off trying to show my stuff to strangers and having an abortion. And trying to find new challenges to talk about my plugin. I’m using Reddit where they do not like breasts at all. I may say that they take more breaks. It’s so tough to talk about WordPress on Reddit and then showing up in all the brand new letters lately.

I’ve been submitting my blog posts and they’re sharing my content and waiting, you know, it’s waiting on hoping that one day that would be. A mega event, like a big shot saying, you know, like month saying, Oh, I use this plugin, everybody go check it out. You know, waiting for that moment to happen. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:24:38] What does success look like for you in terms of building this?

Is it like number of users of the plugin? Because you mentioned that as a big thing, like if you hit a million downloads, like, is that good for you? Is there some, like, are you trying to like potentially attract. Like funding for some of this. Are you looking to like launch a premium version at some point and make it like a paid option?

Like what would success look like for this endeavor?

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:25:04] Success for me are two things, a reasonable amount of users, not Migos. Okay. Just a reasonable amount. And for me to make a living out of it, you know, it’s salary. Now we’re not talking on Silicon Valley investment where it’s like, you know, a salary for one person for one family.

So how to make that happen. You know how to make a few, a couple of thousand dollars USD per month coming into your bank account so that you can keep working on this. And you’re going to need to do side jobs, you know, big scare on there that take your, your energy. So I’m, I’m first, I’m going full on with open source right now, the plugin is open source.

I’m not thinking of selling anything yet. So I want to see either open source strategy can work. I’m looking for sponsors. So I’m trying to reach out. I’m actually in the process of doing this and reaching out to a few companies. My message is in my blogging becomes successful. Then people will appreciate that you are the one who is funding me.

I don’t think I will. I will have one funder. I think that I would need two or three or four, you know? So he’s still having one big one. I get four small ones. And if I, if I manage to do that, I’m done. I’m a settled, if I don’t manage to do that, I will have to go the pro version and then spring my plugin into a basic version.

And if you want more power pay for the upgrade. And trying to avoid it, but let’s see if I had no option. I will have to go down that path.

Joe Howard: [00:26:39] I, I think you’re right about the like paid ads. I like the writing of content. I think people searching organically. They find articles or find your content. That’s a good way for people to find you potentially try out a free tool.

Right? It’s like, it’s also, if they land on your blog post, it’s a free thing to do because it’s open source. It’s not like you’re trying to get them to swipe a credit card. So. That next step is actually, I think the conversions probably gonna be a lot better than if it was like something someone would have to like pay for the thing you mentioned about Reddit was super interesting.

Because I think based on your goals of having a salary that supports a single family, you’re not talking about a billion dollar company, that’s your goal, right? You’re talking about, I want to like live a good life and run a cool company and continue to enjoy what I’m doing and support myself and my family.

And this idea that I’ve talked with about people on the podcast for about having a thousand true fans. Is I think somewhat applicable to this, which is like, you don’t need a million fans. You need, you know, maybe thousands of fans or maybe tens of thousands for an open source plugin of dedicated people to what you do.

So Reddit community sounded interesting to me or some kind of community where you can. Continue talking about your product. Cause you, you mentioned here, like people who have tried your product, strangers, maybe people, you know, even have been like, this is awesome. Like that’s really good news. Like if your users are like, Whoa, this is awesome.

That’s like probably the most positive signal you can get is that I’m onto something and to build a community, to help market your stuff, I think is probably a good move. So continuing some of that Reddit, you know, being involved in the Reddit in the Reddit area, because it’s really just like a forum, it’s kind of a.

Reddit’s it’s a big thing. Now, the game stopped and all this stuff has blown up in terms of Reddit, but it’s a glorified forum where people hang out, maybe building out your own community. I don’t know if you thought about doing like, I mean, depends on your, how you feel about Facebook, but a Facebook group or a Slack community, or using something like circle or tribe to build like your own community out.

Sounds like that might be an interesting way to go for open source software. It’s really about community. So.

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:28:43] Um, I actually, I’m planning to do a new letter soon, actually starting this weekend. I want to have a new lip in your letter to talk about difference. Actually, everything that I’m talking to you right now, they’re behind the scenes there.

What is going on to have a plugin? Because people are not aware of all of the things they download, the plugin, they use it. They don’t even know that there’s a human being behind what’s causing it and who needs to make a salary to survive and to keep doing this right. So one of the things that I want to do is to have a new letter that I send once a month with the whole process.

And I really enjoy the process. You know, this is a challenge. Yeah. I mean, it’s tough and I wish I could just be at Redding, you know, succeeding, making a little money and you know, it’s not the case, but if I do make it whenever I make it, I will have, I would say I made it, you know, I wouldn’t deserve it.

So, yeah, my, my first thing is to, is to have the kind of connection that it’s cool to talk about the things and in a way that we’re all in this together, everyone is going through the same experience. You know what I mean? The corporate community is very big and the successful players are actually very few the big names.

You know, the one that made it automatic or Yoast, right? Those are very few. Everyone is like me. We are really striving to. Make it to the end of the month, you know, with our login somehow, you know? So in that sense, yeah, I think that I can actually connect to the WordPress community, but I want to know how to approach them.

I don’t have a channel to approach these people, the ones who are all of us doing the same work. I use Reddit as I was telling you because it’s convenient, but it does not the WordPress community though. Um, I don’t think they something like the, the Reddit community for workplace. I haven’t found it.

Joe Howard: [00:30:39] Yeah.

I think what you’re talking about, or at least how I think about it is kind of built the building in public. Model, which I think is really powerful among the developer community. I would say if you’re doing content marketing, that’s a great conversion point of like someone comes to read, you know, I’m on your blog right now.

And you know, the first article there is just like graph QL, API versus WP graph, QL, you know, talking about some of the differences there. I bet people are Googling that kind of stuff. So when people Google that they may find your article. Hey, a little corner scroll box has like, Hey, like I’m Leonardo. I built this.

I also build it public. I send a newsletter out once a week that literally details everything I did that week in the background of building this. I’d love to have you along for the journey. Hey, I would love to hear about that. I just had Brian castle on the podcast a few weeks ago and he like tweets all the time, like gifts and like videos and like screenshots of the stuff he’s literally working on it.

He doesn’t care if it’s like really good or really bad, or like somewhere in between most stuff he does is great. But the thing is like, people love him for that. They’re like, wow, because he gets great feedback on Twitter and like, You could do it on Twitter, but also an email is just as good Austin Gander in the WordPress community.

He runs a hosting company anchored at host and I’m part of his newsletter. He’s no friend of mine in the WordPress space, but I get his newsletter. He’s talk. He emails out like once a week, sometimes twice a week about the stuff he’s working on. I’m always super interested because he’s, it’s the same.

That’s what he’s doing. It’s pretty much building in public based on his emails and his newsletter. So that may like go to anchor that host and sign up for that newsletter because that’s a really good example. I think of like, Why I’m not just invested in his company, but like in him, like, I’m like, Austin’s awesome.

Like, look at all this stuff he’s doing, you know, I would not have known about this. If he was not sending this newsletter out, I would just kind of see the front end of anchor.host and be like, okay, like another hosting company. But that newsletter like really gets me invested. So I think that’s a really interesting idea.

It’s almost like a build in public in the newsletter, which I think it adds a good human element of like, this is not just a tool. It’s like a tool built by human beings and. Would you like to support this human being?

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:32:45] Yeah. I follow certain new leaders. You have been delicious brains newsletter, which is quite awesome.

It’s pretty technical, but it’s cool because you get to learn so much, you know, they, they have a problem, they have a plugin, they solved the problem and then they’d send you how so you’re still saying this in my knowledge. I don’t want my competitors to know about this. No, on the opposite, you know, share it with everyone.

And I really enjoyed it. So I’m applying. I actually, I want to do exactly the same thing with my blog post and then with the new letter to share my challenges, the plugin technical, the business in like business, not being as, as in making money, money, money, business as how to survive, you know, like yeah.

As a connection, you know, But, yeah, that’s it.

Joe Howard: [00:33:31] How was it having a little bit of competition? And is that something you’re following? Are you like, look seeing what other folks are doing and kind of letting that lead you to some new features and stuff you want to do? Or are you kind of just like doing things on your own and getting more feedback from users?

What’s your strategy around like other people in the space with similar solutions or with solutions that you know, are trying to solve what you’re trying to solve too. Okay.

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:33:53] So there are two plugins for fueling WordPress. Mine. Would you call it graph QL API? And WP  is their graph your plugin. So I wouldn’t call myself a competition yet because you know, it’s a very small guy against the big guy is what it is.

Nobody knows about my plugin yet. I just, I just launch it. My work site is one month old. So only now I’m reaching out and contacting people to say, Hey, check this out. You know what I mean? I think it’s pretty good until now. They didn’t even know that they were, that there was this second plugin. So then the competition between these two plugins, I do not check how they do or what they do, because it’s a completely different architecture.

I didn’t start my plugin to compete with them because they did something wrong. No, I mean, not at all. As I was mentioning Janell, I was like, I will mentioning at the beginning, I’ve been working on WordPress since 2012. For a friend of mine who had an NGO and I was experimenting. So as I was experimenting, I greeted this framework based on server side components.

No need to talk about this. Very technical, but it got so good. It got so awesome that I went down the path of developing Jeff for the sake of developing it. So I run one and a half years ago. I discovered graph QL. I am not using rough years in the beginning. Graph QL was launched in 2015 and it became popular in 2016 around.

So it’s been four plus years of graph here. I discovered graph QL around 2019. And when I saw what they were doing, I thought that I could do the same with my framework. And it was a challenge. It was a technical challenge. You know, me developer, of course you can, you can do it. You know, like it’s like a mathematical problem that I need to, to try to solve.

And I did it and I did this on my own completely blinded or what was going on at the same time. So the  has started development in 2016. If I’m not wrong by 2018, they had something which was not stable. But was okay. And people started using it so fast forward to today, they have, they have had more than two years of a plugin that all companies have been using.

There is the, it was the only graph your solution in for WordPress. It was not like necessarily grandiose, but it worked, you know what I mean? He’s grabbed here. That’s what you needed. So now I come out of nowhere. And I bring my other plate. If you ask me about technical stuff, I can send you, my plane is superior and I, and I mean it, and I say it with pride because I’ve been working on this for many years and I can, if you read the blog post on my website, does it have to be  the blog post is 30 minutes long.

I try to go all over it because I want to demonstrate, I want to say, I think my stuffy better, why I wanted to play. Why I’m not trying to sell you something. As I said, I’m not good with marketing, but I can explain what I have been and why I really like that and how it works. And in the process, I was all on my own.

Absolutely. On my own, not going out, not seeing the light of the day. You know, one day you come up from a deep sleep and you see, and you open the windows and it’s a beautiful day. I was in a dark room, working on my stuff for like two years without looking outside to see what was

Joe Howard: [00:37:44] going on. Will you say about marketing is interesting because you kind of say, you’re you feel like you’re not the best marketer, but as a marketer myself, I think the best marketing is authentic and is honestly it’s just education and giving people that data and knowledge, they need to make informed decision and to make the best product to solve the best.

Pain points for people. So I’d say the marketing you’re doing is great. There may be some things you’ll continue to learn along the way. Okay. How do I make sure that article that’s so well-written and so comprehensive. How do I make sure that, you know, ranks well in search engines? You know, that may be like a tactical marketing thing to have to continue to learn in terms of SEO stuff, but.

Don’t change your marketing approach. I think the, you know, you have to market from who you are and to be in an ethical marketer and to be, to have a good relationship with the truth and with knowledge and data, that’s so important, you know, you see all sorts of marketers doing all sorts of crazy quote unquote marketing things.

That’s like it’s really adjusted. Generate leads and to get more clients, that’s the goal. It’s not to help. It’s not to have the best product. And so let’s keep doing what you’re doing. So cool. I think that’s a great point to start wrapping up today. Tell folks where they can find you online, all this stuff online, go read this blog, post, all that stuff.

Right.

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:39:03] So my website is graph ql-api.com. My Twitter is at low service. Like my surname. And you can contact me through these channels on the, on graphical apa.com. There is a contact us form, so I will get it. And then through there, and I’m always available. I get very excited with people who want to try out the plugin and then they give me feedback.

So if you, if you have any feedback, both good or bad, maybe you’re like, look, I mean, I think you can do something better, please let me know. I want to know all about all about the other day. One person installed my plugin and it did not work on his environment. He had more security installed and he failed for him.

So he sent me an email saying, Hey, I got this third, your block, your plugin. And he gave me the logo of the ureter. I fixed it in, in 15 minutes and it made my day because actually they will just, before I published this blog post on the comparison between refusal API, and that will be grafting and I had many more downloads since then.

So I was thinking, I don’t want them to download my plugin and then they cannot install it. You know, they it’s buggy. So yeah. I mean, whenever somebody contacts me, I get so excited, even if it is to ask me stuff or to ask me to work for them to fix the problem. Would you? My problem. So, yeah, please talk to me guys.

Joe Howard: [00:40:28] Yeah. And I will add onto that. Leonardo’s said in this podcast, he is potentially looking for some sponsors for his project. So if you. Are having an interest in that, or maybe represent a bigger company that wants to. Invest in give back in the graph, QL space, reach out to Leonardo or reach out to me and I’ll make a connection with Leonardo.

We’ll make sure you, you get to talk. So, yeah. Leonardo, thank you again. Last thing I always ask the guests on the show to do is for you to ask our listeners now for a little iTunes review for us. So if you wouldn’t mind asking us for a quick iTunes review, I’d appreciate it.

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:41:05] Yeah, everyone please. For the show, you have a wonderful review.

I would vouch for you and for Joe. I mean, he’s doing such a wonderful job, so he deserves it. I mean, this is the least that we can do for him. Just go to the iTunes. So give him the five stars. I mean, he, he deserves it. Everyone. Please do it for me. Do it for Joe.

Joe Howard: [00:41:30] Awesome. Appreciate it, man. Yes. The people leave an iTunes review.

You can just leave five stars or you can leave a comment. Tell us how much you like this episode. I can shoot it to Leonardo and say, thanks for helping us get a review. It helps us to know what future topics to go on. Okay. We’re going to obviously do more graphics, no content. We got like four, five star reviews on this episode.

So we want to do more content around it that helps us with content creation, helping us do episodes on topics that you, our listeners love. WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes. We’d direct you right there. If you were on a Mac device or an Apple device, if you’re a new listener to the show. Go ahead and listen to some old episodes.

You can go ahead and binge old WP MRR podcast episodes. Is that Netflix or Hulu or any of that? HBO, max, whatever. Check out binge from old, uh, podcast episodes, something that’ll help you grow your business or WordPress company. If you have questions for us at the show, I’d like to do Q and a episodes every once in a while.

Shoot those into us, a yo@wpmrr.com or you can hit me up on Twitter at Joseph H. Howard. And yeah, we’d love to answer some questions live here on the show that is it this week or the podcast will be in your podcast players again next Tuesday, Leonardo. Thanks again for being on, man. Yeah.

Leonardo Losoviz: [00:42:46] Thanks so much for you, Joan.

I have really appreciated your talk today and your podcast. It’s absolutely wonderful. Thanks so much.

Joe Howard: [00:42:57] I appreciate it, man. That, that got ya. All right. See everyone later.

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