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April 2021

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E144 – Scaling to $350,000 MRR Through Managing Expectations and Trust (Pippin Williamson, Sandhills Development)

In today’s episode, Joe talks to Pippin Williamson, the Managing Director at Sandhills Development, LLC – the home to several WP plugins such as AffiliateWP, Easy Digital Downloads, and WP Simple Pay. He’s also the man behind Sandhills Brewing, a microbrewery that focuses on oak-aged and oak-fermented beers. 

Pippin retells his day-to-day hustle in running two companies in entirely different industries, running his microbrewery and leading a team of web engineers. He also talks about success in affiliate marketing, implementing processes, and hiring skilled people that need less supervision. 

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:40 Welcome to the pod, Pippin!
  • 03:17 Have you heard about Sandhills Brewing?
  • 06:09 Why build a brewing company?
  • 11:27 Time management while running two companies
  • 18:14 Role change and working as a CEO
  • 23:00 Delegating jobs and handing off tasks
  • 27:32 The importance of implementing processes
  • 31:20 Latest developments at Sandhills
  • 34:07 Any new big features for affiliate marketers?
  • 35:37 How does the Payouts Service work?
  • 40:37 Ensuring that you’ll have a successful affiliate program
  • 44:25 The billing structure has to make sense for the customers
  • 47:50 Find Pippin 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 Pippin, Williamson don’t know, PIP in. You’ll hear more about him here in a few minutes at the beginning of the episode. But if you do know him, you probably know him just as that guy who doesn’t, he run, you know, a $4 million a year software business, and then also a pretty successful brewer.

Oh, that guy yes. Is Pippin Pippin. And I, man, we got to, you know, we’ve hung out a few times in person at word. Camps and WordPress, uh, events like press Nomics. And I’ve had other folks from Sandhills on the team here on the podcast. Kyle’s been on the podcast a couple of times. I think Chris had an, I don’t know if he’s been on the podcast, but I’ve, you know, I know Chris pretty well too.

And this is Pippin’s first time here on the pod. So Pippin and I got to chat about a bunch of stuff, but most at the core of it was. You know, obviously I’m the CEO of a business. And I learned a lot being able to pick Pippin’s brain on his role as a CEO of Sandhills development, as Sandhills has gone from a pretty small company to a really a more mature again, you know, for about $4 million a year, annual recurring revenue business.

How has his role as CEO changed? What’s been one of the adjustments been in his life as he’s taken on a leadership of a second business, which is totally disparate from the software business. So how does he run both the one time talked about some of the things he’s been really successful in, and also some of the things that he is self-admittedly kind of just sucks at, and it really was always.

A pleasure to hear someone who really tells it how it is. Who’s so honest and transparent about, you know, his strengths and his weaknesses and how he’s, regardless of those strengths and weaknesses really moved forward in both of his businesses. So. Without further ado, please. Welcome Pippin Williamson.

Enjoy today’s episode.

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Joe Howard: [00:02:39] All right. We are live on the part of this week with Pippin, Williamson, Pippin. What is going on? Tell folks a little bit about you and what you do with WordPress.

Pippin Williamson: [00:02:48] Sure thing. Thanks for having me, Joe. So I run a company called Sandhills development. We primarily focus on e-commerce and affiliate marketing plugins for WordPress, as well as a few other kind of related and tangible products. We’ve been running since about 2009 ish. So been in it for a while. And it’s the thing that keeps us busy day to day.

It’s still a lot of fun to work on. Uh, we are a fully remote team distributed around the world. And, um, what else would you like to know? I can tell you anything you want.

Joe Howard: [00:03:17] The, the one piece that you didn’t mention was the brewery part, which is kind of like a separate thing, I guess, but a lot of folks know you obviously through Sandhills Dave and all the work you do there, but also in the last few years, people kind of know you as like.

Isn’t flipping that guy that like, has that like significant software company, but also like runs as big time brewery on the side. Like what’s up with that. So what’s the status there.

Pippin Williamson: [00:03:37] It used to be a pretty common thing. Uh, when I traveled around to word camps and other, other WordPress conferences that people would always ask me about the beer side.

Uh, and that was because I was pretty open about the fact that I was trying to build a brewery. While also running a software company and we did, so we actually are approaching our third year anniversary. It’s called Sandhills brewing. Uh, and it’s a smaller,

Joe Howard: [00:03:58] You see the in the background is people are on YouTube is right in the back back there.

Pippin Williamson: [00:04:03] Small little microbrewery with two locations, one here where I live and then one up in the Kansas city area that my twin brother runs.

So these are little, I kind of call it my side project. It’s not really a side project. Now it’s a full-blown company with a staff and almost 20 people. And, but it keeps, it keeps us very busy. So yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:04:21] Yeah. I can only imagine. It feels like. Two pretty separate kinds of companies to one’s like a physical products, like a beverages company. And one is a totally technical remote software company.

Pippin Williamson: [00:04:36] Different from each other. There’s a little bit overlap here and there sometimes with some of the technologies that we’ll use to run the business side of things. And then there’s a tiny bit of overlap with people, mainly myself, accounting and a few other on the business side of things.

Uh, our company headquarters for Sandhills development is technically this small little, uh, nondescript office that also just happens to be inside of the brewery rebuilding. So just on the other side of the wall is the brewery production area, uh, or one of them. Cause we do have two locations, but otherwise they’re completely different businesses.

I mean the business model is different. The customers are different. The staff is different. The challenges they have is very different, which became abundantly clear this last year with the COVID pandemic. You know, the software company was one that was very. Privileged to be hardly impacted by the downturns of COVID at all.

Like from an economic perspective. Whereas the brewery on the other hand was night and day different. I mean, it was like sales just vanished out of thin air and a totally different set of challenges.

Joe Howard: [00:05:36] Yeah, totally. I feel like a lot of people who start technology businesses they’ll, you know, start something hopefully eventually like find something they’re successful with in technology.

And then when they may be transitioned to their new thing, they’ll maybe use a lot of their learnings to start a new technology business, because you can kind of start not from zero this time. Like maybe you have an audience or maybe you just have all this experience of running technology company and you were kind of like, Nah, like I’m going to go run this brewery and almost like start from zero.

Maybe you’ve had a background in like beer or like physical products business before, or maybe you’re just like a guy who likes beer. Like what made you decide, like I’m going to start a brewery and almost kinda start from zero when it comes to like your experience running a business.

Pippin Williamson: [00:06:18] There’s several main components. So number one is. You already said it. I just like beer. I like the history. I like the product. I like the experience. I like visiting breweries. It was just an environment that I really enjoyed. And so, you know, wanting to help cultivate and be part of that, that environment was definitely interesting to me.

Another big component was the wanting to have some kind of connection to my local, local community and local environment. I live in a small town in the center of Kansas and. I had traveled all around the world. I’ve been at tons of different places. And I came back home to my childhood home basically, and felt like there was something significantly missing here, which was this culture around microbreweries and such.

So I wanted to create one and I wanted to try to make a positive improvement to the local community. And I’d have some kind of connection. Like I’ve always run into the digital world where the only thing that physically ties us down to one place is. A mailing address for, you know, bank statements and stuff like that.

And I just, I wanted to have something that tied better into our local community. And then maybe the last component is I just like building things I like creating. And this was a real unique challenge of how to, you know, take the various learnings that we had from building this opera company over 10 years and, you know, apply those to building something completely different.

You know, there’s still a lot of. Just general learnings, you know, from how to manage a company, how to manage teams, how to manage policies, you know, everything that we’ve learned from the software side that do apply to the brewery or help, but it was still a completely unique challenge. You know, I get to learn about logistics of supply and demand, logistics of sourcing, raw materials. It’s just a whole different world and it was super fun. And so I liked the challenge.

Joe Howard: [00:08:08] Yeah, I think it’s interesting hearing people think that you’re like double down on what you’ve already done by kind of maybe starting a new company in the same space and like, thinking that that would be like potentially the most efficient way to do things.

Like from a financial standpoint, but like as a founder or like, you know, a leader in a company, I totally understand that. Like, I need like a new thing. Like I need like a new adventure and in a lot of cases, that’s the most important part for, you know, someone’s entrepreneurial issue is like that challenge is going to be like being successful financially or business wise is great.

But like, if it’s not challenging, if it’s not, it’s not feeling like you have an impact every day, like it’s gonna get boring. Like you’re going to get, you’re going to like look and try and find new ways to be impactful or new challenges. So.

Pippin Williamson: [00:08:51] I need fresh challenges in my life and, you know, fun puzzles to solve. And this was one of the ways to do that. We started building the brewery too, when I was going through a phase of pretty intense burnout from the digital world, and I just needed a complete change of pace. So that actually ended up being really important for my own personal sanity.

Joe Howard: [00:09:09] Yeah. I feel like this has been a pretty heavy year for myself also, actually some like one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the podcast is because I know you’ve had some of those challenges before and I’m very much trying to like get out ahead of those things.

I’m trying to like, stay impactful, keep my challenges going, like not feeling like I’m approaching burnout. And I know that. Potentially like starting a new venture is one way to like avoid burnout. But I like, I also like really like working on WPS, like I want to keep working on this business. And so that’s like something I’m like currently in this, like I’m getting coaching and I’m like making sure I’m, you know, dedicating good time to myself as well as like, you know, my work, I’m not diving too deep, too deep into work, like taking a breath and making sure I.

Keep some form of separation from it. So yeah.

Pippin Williamson: [00:09:56] There’s kind of an interesting balance. You have to find when, like, for me, when I was really burnt out on the software side and I needed to do something a little different, my solution to that was to go and build a physical business, build a brewery. And now a couple of years later now I actively juggle both.

And so I’m actively running the software company. I’m actively running the brewery. And now it’s, it’s a little bit more challenging to not allow the weight of both of them to take too much of a toll. Um, and so, you know, the next challenge will be to, you know, ensure that I can do both of these sustainably or, you know, somehow extricate myself from the majority of day-to-day operations of one of them hand those to somebody else. And then. Find out what the next thing is.

Joe Howard: [00:10:44] This whole group two, or even like multiple businesses at the same time, as someone who runs one business, I can see how it’s possible, but I can also see a lot of challenges around like, how do you dedicate your time? Correct me. There are a few good examples for this, right?

There’s like Elon Musk who runs, you know, space X and Tesla and solar city. And. Whatever boring remotely. Yeah. Right, right. Exactly. But that’s kind of what I’m trying to get at, which is like, he’s kind of like Elan, there’s only one Elon Musk in the world, but then there’s also like Jack Dorsey. Like he runs Twitter and square.

Like I heard him on Matt mullenweg’s podcast and he was talking about how he has like Monday meetings for both of those companies. And they’re both four hour meetings every Monday and I’m like, Oh my God, Holy shit. That’s like a lot of times I’d be interested to hear about your. Experience, you know, you said actively running two companies, you feel like you’re able to like spend and dedicate correct time to it.

So you’re not really like spending like 60 or 80 hours a week on those companies, or do you feel like it’s a little bit more pressure for both?

Pippin Williamson: [00:11:44] I think it’s a little bit of both. This last year has definitely been different, so much has been different for the last year, for times for everybody. But, but one particular thing that happened this year, Was with the brewery side of things.

It was like every other week, there was a staffing problem due to a potential COVID exposure or confirm a case. And so. This last year was not a good example of like my ability to balance both and to not spend 60 or 80 hours a week because you know, it would be very common for Friday morning. We wake up and find out that two of our staff from the previous night were just exposed to a positive case.

And now we have to pull them off and find somebody else to fill in so that we can keep the business running. I mean, just. Keep in mind that something like a brewery doesn’t run. If there are not people in the building, like we don’t make money. If there’s not people.

Joe Howard: [00:12:40] Yeah. Especially with like timings of stuff, you’ve got to like take the, you know.

Pippin Williamson: [00:12:44] We have, we have business hours, like we are here from three to 10 and there has to be staff in the building.

And so that meant that there was a lot of times when I had finished my week, I had put in my time, well, I’m going to go do another 10 hours of the brewery because somebody has to be there. So this last year was not a good example of that, but. That setting that aside, I try really hard to work no more than about 40 hours a week.

So, you know, I, I come to this office just about every day and I work about nine to five, you know, I do about eight hours a day, you know, I’m far from perfect. You know, there’s lots of evenings where I find myself opening my laptop and spending an hour, you know, on the couch or something like that. But in general, I work nine to five Monday through Friday.

For both businesses, sometimes it’s enough. Sometimes it’s not nearly enough, kind of depends on the week, but they’re also definitely like very simultaneous. Like there is no, you know, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is sandals development. Thursday, Friday is brewery it’s one hour. Right now I could be talking to you on this podcast.

The next one I’m working with the brewery production team to figure out what we’re brewing for or making for the next week. And then 30 minutes after that, I can be in a meeting with PayPal to discuss something that we’re working on. Yeah. So it’s a lot of jumping back and forth.

Joe Howard: [00:13:57] Back and forth stuff is interesting. I’m kind of working with our marketing team right now. Like, so our head of growth, Alec, I’m trying to work with him on like how to balance, like some of his sales responsibilities and some of his more like marketing related. Responsibilities and to like transition from like doing three sales calls in the morning to like directly into more like marketing and content work.

Like there’s that transition time. That can be a challenge, not only like a challenge to figure out how to make that transition, but just the fact that if you’re doing a lot of transitioning, it just adds up and you find like in an eight hour day you’re doing like an hour and a half of like, transition that wasn’t really deep work.

Pippin Williamson: [00:14:35] It’s context, context, switching.

Joe Howard: [00:14:37] Hmm. Yeah. Have you found like an efficient way to do that? Are you still working on it.

Pippin Williamson: [00:14:41] Still working on it? I think.

Joe Howard: [00:14:43] Everything’s working progress.

Pippin Williamson: [00:14:44] Yeah. One of the things that I have found the most effective. Is to just do my very best to avoid back to back phone calls, back to back meetings, et cetera.

And so I try to do a maximum of, you know, two or three phone calls like this, you know, whether we’re talking a physical phone call or a zoom meeting or whatever, two or three a day at most. Just to ensure that there is enough time in between each one of those to properly switch into the context that I’m working on.

It has been a really challenging problem for the last year is finding focus time. I think the reality of running two businesses, especially two businesses that are very different in nature is that I am perpetually on call. If you will. Like, I feel like I’m a. This is good. This is probably a poor analogy, but like sometimes I feel like I’m a fireman that is just waiting for that nine 11 call to come in, but they go to the house on fire and it’s a bad analogy because I’m not always putting out fires.

That’s actually very far from my day-to-day job anymore, but I do switch contexts all the time. You know, it could be a quick need that a team member has. It could be a scheduling meeting. It could be, you know, it could be anything, you know, I’ve, I’ve filled. Pretty much every single role in Sandhills development, you know, I’ve, I’ve been the developer, I’ve been the support person.

I’ve been the marketing, I’ve been the boss, I’ve been payroll, I’ve been everything. And so, you know, I still find myself a lot of times it’s getting into discussions or, you know, tasks related to every single one of those topics. You know, I could go through a day and hit 30 different. Context of work very easily.

And I actually kind of thrive in that. I used to say that I thrive in chaos. However, I think that that is changing. Just number one, as our company has changed and grown and matured, and as I’ve gotten older, I don’t thrive in chaos as well anymore. And so I have started to be much more protective of my time and my focus because I’m finding myself having a harder time. Focusing in chaos.

Joe Howard: [00:16:44] Yeah. I like what you said about blocking off your calendar for only like two or three calls a day. I’ve found for myself that’s been super helpful because it just blocks off my calendar from other people taking. My time. And so when they don’t have access to that, then I can dictate how I spend my time efficiently more often.

So I think that’s just like a small thing. But to me that was interesting to hear because I feel like I found similar similarly that that’s worked for me. I just want to touch on what you were talking about. When it comes to like the maturity of your company and how it’s kind of starting to evolve. I mean, when you booked this call, you mentioned that you’re the monthly recurring revenue for Sandhills right now is about $350,000.

So every month that money’s coming in, you multiply that out two years. You’re talking about, you know, around a $4 million a year annual recurring revenue business. And that’s pretty significant, you know, I’ve found as my business to scale, even into seven figures a year, That my role has and kind of needs to change, like what my role was when we were at $200,000 a year company, when I was like, let’s do all this stuff, like, Hey, I can lead all this stuff that doesn’t really work anymore.

Cause he’s hit this level of maturity where it’s like, okay, you got to slow down. You got to like do things, right? There’s like the MVP is not just a. I’d like crappy little thing anymore. It’s like actually has to be good now. It’s like, there’s more thoughtfulness that needs to go into every decision needs to be made because there are more ripple effects.

And so I’d like to know like as, not just as you’re managing two businesses, but as your business, like as just a software, businesses has grown into something. Pretty substantial, bigger than most WordPress businesses reach. And as you’ve had experienced a little burnout in the past, how has your role changed in terms of running and managing that data?

Do you find, did you find, you had to like totally reset, like your, what do you do as the CEO on the day to day? Like, I felt like, like I’m in the middle of that and it’s tough. So I I’d be interested for some advice or just hear what you went through.

Pippin Williamson: [00:18:31] I’ve had a blog post saved in draft for years and it was titled something like losing my identity as a developer.

Because, you know, at. Yeah, the heart. I still feel like a PHP programmer. I still feel like a developer that, you know, dives into the code every day and, and, and build something fun. And the truth is, is that I’m not anymore. I’m number one, I’m very rusty. Uh, I have written a little bit of code lately. But it doesn’t come as easily as it used to at all, because that is simply not my role anymore.

I’ve gone through pretty much every single role there is at the company. Just as you know, any, you know, as a founder, one of your obligations to your team is to do whatever is needed. To ensure that they are taken care of to ensure that the company continues to survive and fulfill its promises to its customers and to its team.

And sometimes that means, you know, stepping up and doing customer support. Sometimes it means leading the marketing efforts. Sometimes it means doing the development. Sometimes it’s coordinating sometimes it’s payroll, it’s everything I’ve done, all of it. And what I’ve discovered is over time, you know, kind of the natural thing that happens for us is we identify a problem.

And then, you know, at least not as much now, but in the last few years I would jump on and I would take care of that problem. And then eventually I would delegate that to somebody else, you know, whether that’s hiring a new person or handing it to one of our existing team members. And so consistently the phrase that I’ve used to describe that like transition process is hiring myself out of a job.

I keep giving the work that I do over the somebody else who does it better and who has sole responsibility to ensure that that thing is taken care of so that I can then focus on whatever the next challenge punches. And over time it made me realize that I don’t do at all what I used to do. And what I am good at doing is not what I used to be good at doing at all.

You know, I used to be a pretty solid developer that could build things very quickly. And that’s, you know, I, I think I probably still have it in me if I, you know, really have the time and the, uh, fortitude to do it, but that’s not me anymore. It really isn’t. You know, I am very much in the CEO director role of.

My sole job is to take care of this company and make the decisions for the longterm to ensure that our team and our customers are taken care of. It’s been a really interesting process, actually, I think in a lot of ways, that was one of the major contributing components to my burnout a few years ago, because I wasn’t ready to accept that.

And so I didn’t enjoy that process and I didn’t allow myself to be, I guess, aware of the way that that made me. Feel about my work. It got to me and I, I burn out and now I actually really, really enjoy it. I think I enjoy this role now more than I did being a developer. It’s very rewarding to be able to watch and see our team succeed in ways that I never would have in their positions.

You know, like the stuff that our development team is building today is so much cooler than anything that I could have done the way the quality that our support team has is so much better than, you know, when I was leading that team or when I was actively a member of that team, the same thing goes for our marketing department.

The same thing goes for our operations. You know, it’s, it’s really amazing to watch. You know, like to try to like put people in a position of responsibility and then watch them completely thrive, thrive, and Excel. All expectations is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Joe Howard: [00:22:20] Yeah, really cool. I feel like I have some experiences of that, but then some experiences that have not exactly gone that way as a CEO, when it comes to like our operations, like after someone signs up with us, like Nick and Dean have like, totally that’s exactly my same experience.

Just like. Don’t even like, let me get involved in your meetings. Like you guys do what you’re doing and I will probably actively like, make it worse. So I try to give off, so YouTube just take it and run with it. But I’ve found that since my background is more in like marketing and content stuff, I’m like a little harder.

I feel like on my like marketing teams, I’m like the forward facing like lead generation kind of piece of the business that like growth piece of the business. I feel like I’m a little harder there because I just have a better expertise there. And so I feel like. In a way that I’d be interested to hear kind of maybe some of your process for like delegation.

If you have like a formal process, maybe it’s just kind of worked out for you, but I’ve found that the reason I’m like right now kind of diving back into some things and wanting to like be more active one is just, cause I feel like I’m, again, I’m reinventing my role a little bit. So like, I’m going to be helpful where I can, like what you’re saying, like, you know, be where you’re needed.

But at the same time I felt like I didn’t delegate. Great. The first time around, I kind of was just like, here’s a. Task and that all the info in description, like it’s assigned to you go do it, but I didn’t do as much of the, there was an issue with the way I delegated and I’m really diving in now so that I can kind of do a revamp and re delegate, like kind of move in.

And then back out in a few months, I’d be interested to hear like that process that you went through in terms of like handing off to other people. Do you have like formal processes at Santos and like, this is exactly how you delegate something or do you just have like, so it’s Def, uh.

Pippin Williamson: [00:23:54] There’s definitely no standard process, but we definitely have great people. And, uh, I’ll tell you truthfully, that I’m a terrible delegator. I am a terrible, like, I’m a terrible manager of people. Um, and, and this is what I think every company goes through phases as they grow, but like, I look back at our, you know, when we were 15 people and I was. You know, it was kind of like, you know, I was the boss and then everybody worked for me.

And then when we’re now we’re at 28 people and we are very, like, we have a standard kind of corporate structure now. So, you know, I sit up here, I have my directors, each one of them sits over department. They manage each of their people. Pretty traditional corporate hierarchy type stuff. And that has worked really, really well for us because I am horrible at directing people.

I, you know, I tend to like, here’s the thing, let me know when you’re done. And that’s about as far as I go, like, I’m not good at checking in with people I’m not good at really any of that. So for me, the most successful thing that I’ve had is, you know, Put people who are good at that, in those roles. I think two things that we have definitely found are really, really important.

So number one is trust, you know, anybody that you are delegating to, you know, whether you’re delegating to somebody who is, you know, then coordinating a team of people or you’re delegating to a single person. Because you have to trust them that they’re going to do the job and you have to trust them that they’re going to do it well.

And then two is communication going both directions. There’s a praise that I really liked called manage expectations and that, you know, so my job, you know, if I’m delegating something to you. Is to manage the expectations that I am asking you to do. And then your job to me is to manage my expectations of the work that’s being done, how it’s being done, the timelines, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And for some situations, you know, that’s as little as a sink, like a one sentence text check-in, um, you know, or, uh, you know, a status update or something like that. Other times it might be a huge report or a huge new launch of a product. But I really believe in the idea of like managing expectations. And that’s how you define if the amount of communication that your team has is sufficient or not.

Um, you know, if everybody’s expectations are managed, I think you’re probably good to go, you know, there might be better or worse ways that you could do your actual communication, but in terms of ensuring that people know what they need and you know, what you need, you know, that’s a good way to kind of gauge it in terms of like, going back to your actual question of, you know, do we have standard processes for delegating?

Um, no, we definitely don’t. Yeah. I, for, for me it was mostly. Get the right people in the right place. And then, you know, try to ensure that they fully understood and were on board with whatever our goals were, you know, short-term or long-term, and then allow them to handle the minutia of the day.

Joe Howard: [00:26:54] Yeah. I appreciate your honesty, your honesty and your transparency. Cause it would’ve been pretty easy for you to be like, yeah, like of course we have like processes for that, but I think it’s actually really eye-opening to see. Cause there are a lot of. WordPress business owners and business owners in general, who run $10,000 a month businesses, or, you know, $58,000 a month business.

And they are thinking like, of course they must have this in place, but it’s not always that simple. And I think it’s important to know kind of like the folks who are a little bit ahead of you, like, what are they doing and kind of, where are they in terms of their business? And it’s like, Do you need to have these like specific processes or that kind of stuff in place to reach where you are? Obviously not, you know, maybe the solution is people.

Pippin Williamson: [00:27:35] I think this is, are really, really important. And we do have a lot more processes in place now as a company than we ever did before we have more of the documented. But, you know, to, I guess to expand on my answer is I did not necessarily implement those processes.

What I did is. I gave it to each one of my team leads and it is on them to implement the processes that work best for their team. So the communication processes we have for the development team are different than what we have for the support team. The way that we manage the expectations of marketing is different than how we manage it for ops.

And, you know, like I think a good example is when we were smaller and I took care of all of the hiring, I took care of any of the onboarding, et cetera. You know, my process is, you know, try to find the right person that I want to hire, talk to them, ensure that we’re the right fit, offer them the position, you know, get them to sign a little contract, make sure that I set up some kind of recurring payment for them so that they get paid so that I don’t forget to pay them.

And then. Give him the keys, you know? Okay. Go to work. Here’s your list of here’s, you know, and that that’s like the most, like hands-on, you’ll get from me unless like a specific project comes up that I want to work with you on. And that is not sufficient, truthfully, like, as you grow, like that’s not enough for a new hire that you need to onboard.

Into a company of 28 people. So instead, you know, our hiring team now, you know, if we’re hiring a developer, for example, would be our head of operations and our director of technology. Like they will handle the onboarding of this new person and they will work with them every single week for weeks and weeks and weeks on end.

And that’s the process that they have set up that works really, really well. If I was still doing that, like they would get an email and be like, here you go. Here’s all your logins. Good luck because that’s just, I am not a process person. I am not, I’m not, I tend to get into like zones where I will go and work on something intensely.

And I would just like disappear to the world. You want to hear from me? You won’t see me. And that doesn’t really work for, for bringing new people on. So, you know, having other people take over that process for me was really important. I guarantee you, there was, if we had not done that, we would probably be 10 people still. I would still be super burnout and we would be struggling.

Joe Howard: [00:30:00] Yeah. You know, letting go of some of those things, sounds like it’s saved you not only saved you, but actually moved your business forward. And that important lesson for most people is like, you know, you can’t do everything in the business. You need to actually be where your strengths are and where you’re not as strong or the things you’re not as interested in doing.

There’s probably someone out there who not only is better at it than you, but actually is excited about doing that stuff. And you can find those people and plug away like that’s perfect. You know,

Pippin Williamson: [00:30:25] I was just going to say that, you know, I think there’s, sometimes people get a superiority complex where, you know, they’re the head of the company.

Like they’re going to be the best if it’s a small company and it’s a tech founder, you know, they’re going to be the best developer on the team. Uh, or they’re going to be the best designer or something like that. That’s so silly, like hire people that are so much better than you, and you’ll go so much further.

You know, I am thrilled that I am far, far from the best developer. And even when I was like in my prime as a developer, I was far from the best developer on the team. I am far from the best support person on team. I am far from the best marketer and I’m far from the best, best, anything. I hired people that were so much better than me. And that has been tremendous contributor to where we are today.

Joe Howard: [00:31:13] Yep. Awesome, man. That’s really cool stuff to hear. I want to dive into some of the specifics about some of the new stuff you’re doing at some of these companies, I guess, at the company at Sandhills in general, but you have these sub plugins and brands that you’re working on.

So I want to hear a little bit about some of the stuff you’re doing with maybe like the affiliate portal and EDD 3.0 and maybe some sugar calendar stuff that’s coming out. And anything else you have? That’s like, what’s the future looking like in the next year or so of, of these plugins slash Santos.

Pippin Williamson: [00:31:41] One of the things that we are kind of starting to dive into, uh, you know, all across the board is starting to integrate SAS components and SAS light components into all of our products. Each one of the brands that we run are. They’re standard WordPress plugins. They get installed on a site, you know, and they are for all intents and purposes, self hosted software, you know, they are not a SAS.

We have never run a true SAS. It’s just not a thing that we’ve ever done, but we’re starting to bring in components into our products that are either SAS, like, or. Are like stepping stones for us to cross over into that threshold. So I can mention a couple of them. So on affiliate LP, which is our affiliate marketing tool, um, it’s basically a self hosted affiliate tool for you to run a full blown affiliate program on your WordPress website.

You know, so if you’re using one of the many, many e-commerce or membership options for WordPress or one of the forums for payment collection, and you want to run affiliate program, that’s what affiliate LP does. We are getting ready this week to launch what we’re calling the affiliate portal. And it’s basically a completely rebuilt experience for what’s called the affiliate dashboard, which is, you know, basically the, the place that your affiliates log into your website to view their links, view their earnings view, their reports, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

This affiliate dashboard is a completely new experience. And while it is still self hosted, it is bringing over the experience that you might expect on a SAS service onto the self hosted sites. And it is the way it’s been engineered is going to open up a lot of possibilities for bringing other SAS components in.

So that’s something we’re really excited about. The team has been working on it for quite a while now, and it’s going to go out live this week.

Joe Howard: [00:33:29] Nice this way. Okay. Yeah. Do your episodes going live on next Tuesday, which is a week from now.

Pippin Williamson: [00:33:35] If you’re listening to this, it’s probably live. Okay, cool. And where can, where should they go to go check it out a little affiliate, wp.com. And then there’s a link up in the header for the blog and there’ll be a post there about it.

Joe Howard: [00:33:46] Sweet, sweet. Cool. Okay. I have like a few questions about the portal. So what’s in the new, I guess I understand the piece about bringing it more into like a SAS experience. It’s still self hosted people. It’s still on people’s WordPress sites.

They’re selling WordPress services, products. They can run the affiliate program. Their affiliates can log in and maybe they can log in and have a new dashboard experience. It feels more like a SAS, any new kind of big features that are coming in that are. Like things that affiliate marketers really wanted to use or that people run affiliate programs is really vital for us.

Pippin Williamson: [00:34:19] So there’s one that I can definitely mention. We have, we have several others that are, you know, in various stages of. You know, actively looking at to just thinking about them to actually maybe write some code for, but there’s one major one that is, is there already, and it’s not coming with the affiliate portal because it’s actually already been here, but it is probably the most significant for people that run affiliate programs, but also for the affiliates themselves and assisting that we have called, uh, at least for now, until we come up with a different branding name for the payout service.

You know, it’s very simple and explains what it does. It is a service that we have built to help business owners. Affiliate managers actually pay affiliates, their earnings, which may seems like a simple task. But it’s actually very, very complicated and it is a challenge that people run into all the time that they have.

Let’s say that they have an affiliate program that has a thousand affiliates and these affiliates are promoting their product or service. And then they’re earning commissions and they’re accumulating these earnings. And then at some point you, as the affiliate manager has to actually pay that out. And there’s a lot of gotchas that come with that.

Of how the process actually works. We over the last, Oh, let’s see. Affiliate AOP is now been around. I think we just had our seventh anniversary. So over the last seven years, it has been one of the most consistent. Challenges that business owners have had, which is basically summed up in one question, how do I pay my affiliates?

So what we did is we actually ended up building a service and that is directly integrated into affiliate WP and the new affiliate portal to make this process pretty straight forward and simple. The short version is that the business owner sends the funds to us and we take care of routing them to the individual affiliates.

We take care of tax forms. We take care of compliance, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The individual affiliates, rather than being required to have a PayPal account or, you know, getting a check in the mail. They get a direct deposit directly into their bank account. They don’t have to do anything. They have to provide the account information to us at one point when they register for the service.

But otherwise the money just lands in their account and it’s been running kind of quietly for about a year. Now we launched it in beta, November, 2019, and then we’re very, very discreet about it. You know, we didn’t really push it much. We put it directly into affiliate AP and just kind of allowed for natural adoption of the service.

To help us find issues, you know, answer questions that business owners had, et cetera, et cetera. But today it is fully up and running. You can learn more about it at payouts dot Sandhills, dev.com. Or if you go to affiliate wp.com, there is a page on the website talking about the payout service. So that’s like a SAS component that we’ve brought into the product to, you know, provide a real value, add to business owners that solves a very real challenge that businesses have.

And it’s been a really interesting project. It’s been a lot of fun to work on and it’s yeah, it’s working quite well, actually.

Joe Howard: [00:37:26] Yeah. I love that. I think there’s a huge, especially running an affiliate program at scale, when you have like 10 affiliates, you know sure. Like you can log into PayPal and pay them or whatever, but to take it.

Pippin Williamson: [00:37:38] Yeah. You know, you can manually just send a PayPal payment breach one, right? What if you have a thousand corrects? What if you have 500 and what if these affiliates are located all around the world? And maybe not all of them can accept a PayPal payments. Some of them, some of them can’t, or maybe they don’t want to, or maybe the business doesn’t want to use PayPal, you know, wild PayPal used to be one of the, the default payment methods online.

Like it’s while it’s still a very, very large thing that most people are familiar with and use it is becoming more and more common for business to say, I don’t use PayPal. How do I pay these people now? And prior to offering the payout service, the answer was kind of, uh, Good luck, you know, write them a bunch of checks and mail them out.

And so it’s been a really cool service that has been a completely new set of challenges for us. And it’s X, X seeding our experts.

Joe Howard: [00:38:31] Yeah. Does the payout service like take a percentage of the payment come out or is it like a free item to the affiliate fee? Okay.

Pippin Williamson: [00:38:38] So anybody can use it. There’s no monthly subscription. There’s no setup costs. The only thing is that it’s a per transaction fee. So let’s Joe, let’s pretend that you have an affiliate program. You have a hundred affiliates that you need to pay. And that payout is, let’s just say it’s a thousand dollars. So you’re going to pay out your affiliates a thousand dollars.

We figure out what the fees are going to be. From our backend for those merchant processing fees. And then we add a small collection fee on top of that, basically for the cost of using the service. Right now, we charge 3% of the sum total of the payout. And then for anybody who has higher volume, you know, right now we have the tier set about 10,000 a month. You know, if you do 10,000 or more a month than we can offer a discounted amount.

Joe Howard: [00:39:18] For any big business. It’s like social, no brainer to be like, yes, like easily decide to pay a 3% to make this problem go away. Like, like literally I don’t even have to think about it.

Pippin Williamson: [00:39:29] And the way that it works from the business side is basically you go into affiliate VIP and you click pay your affiliates.

You pick the date range, you pick a couple of other parameters. You hit submit. We send you an invoice. That has the sum total plus processing fees and our fee. And then we give you an option of paying that invoice through credit card, debit card, ACH wire transfer, a couple of European options, including SEPA, ideal, so forth, et cetera, you pay the invoice and you’re done.

That is it for you. And so the process of paying your affiliates has gone from potentially hours. To five minutes or less.

Joe Howard: [00:40:05] Yeah. And the tax form thing is huge too.

Pippin Williamson: [00:40:08] Yeah. So it’s, it’s been pretty fun to work on.

Joe Howard: [00:40:11] Nice. Oh, that’s cool, man. I feel like a lot of folks thinking about like, how do I grow my business? How do I generate leads for my business? How do I generate sales for a lot of folks running. Businesses. That’s the hardest part is like, how do I find these? Like, almost like flywheels of growth, that kind of self fulfilling prophecy of like, it’s going to send me like a few more leads every month. Then it just kind of like, almost goes in autopilot.

Maybe you have to water that plant every once in a while, of course. But like it’s a predictable driver of leads and revenue for you. I think affiliate programs are. Very under talked about, like, people are always talking about Google ads or Facebook ads like SEO, but like, why don’t people just start affiliate programs like you could give to your customers or existing customers to join.

You could like reach out to existing affiliates or like power affiliates. You get like four or five power affiliates to promote you. Like, that’s a super easy way. I think, to grow your business just from them recommending you and getting a little cut of the folks who sign up. And honestly, there are a lot of ways.

To start an affiliate program on your website, but I’ve never found an easier experience that I did with affiliate WP. Like it was like, okay, plugin buy the plugin install. I literally had an affiliate program up and running when I was using affiliate fee. And like what half an hour, like said, great. This is you click you click the check box for like, which is this WooCommerce is this easy digital dental.

You just literally click the boxes. Great. For the most part it’s up and running and you can have affiliate signing up and be recommending folks. And now with this payout service, you can. Pay them out easily too. So it’s like to buy the affiliate WP plugin plus to pay this 3%, what a small price to pay for a potentially really, really big lead generation and sales generation for you. So I think I love this.

Pippin Williamson: [00:41:45] Yeah, it can be huge. Affiliate program is a great opportunity that so many people overlook, but there is an important detail that I think a lot of people. You know, who make that first jump to say, I should do an affiliate program. They then forget about the next part, which is it’s not necessarily as simple as just turning it on.

You know, you do have to do some work to bring those good affiliates in to help them know that you have the program available. You know, how do you make sure that you have given them enough incentive to actually go out and promote your products or service? The trap that I think too many people fall in is this belief that.

Turn it on and magic happens. There are businesses that get lucky with that, but there are still steps after that to ensure that you have a successful affiliate program that is actually earning you dividends, I guess would be a yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:42:32] Thank you for clarifying that in my mind. I, obviously I understand that and I skipped over it because I thought it was like almost as a guide, but yes, you’re totally right.

Let’s be very clear that like, Turning it on and having a work is like maybe a one out of a hundred thing happening, you know? So of course, are you going to do one-time payout? You’re going to do recurring payouts. Are you going to give folks, what kind of incentives are you giving folks are? You’re giving people a 10% cut.

Is it a 50% cut or how are you going to communicate with your affiliates? You’re just going to like send them one welcome email. You can like build a community for them to like use it. Are you going to send them like a monthly email? Of course, there’s a thousand ways to build an affiliate program and to grow.

Pippin Williamson: [00:43:09] Those are all, all great questions considering, you know, and then also, you know, how are you going to get your affiliates? You know, are you going to invite every single customer of your product or service to be an affiliate and then, you know, share with their friends or connections, you know, are you just going to put a sign on the page or a new website and hope people sign up or are you going to actively go out and promote people, you know, recruit affiliates. These are all things that you should be considered.

Joe Howard: [00:43:27] Definitely. And as we’re kind of wrapping up here, one thing I would like to talk about recruiting affiliates, because this is something we’re kind of doing more actively. SEO has always been our biggest driver of traffic, new clients, partners, all of that, and affiliates.

It has jumped into second place in the past nine months, 12 months as we’ve been focusing on it more. And one of the ways we’ve been recruiting affiliates is we do. I actually like some keyword research and some SEO research around good articles that were kind of already ranking for, but maybe were like ranking number, like two or three or five.

And we like take a look at like who’s ranking above us. And we just do some outreach to those people. Or like, Hey, you’re ranking like number one for this, like, Hey, that’d be cool if you would, you know, any interest in joining up as an affiliate. And yeah. You know, a lot of people will be like, huh? Not super interested, but some people will, and then they’ll link to us and drive us new customers and become an affiliate. And that only like helps the other work that we’re doing. So that’s just like a quick tip. I’d put it in.

Pippin Williamson: [00:44:27] Well, that’s a good example of where, like, it doesn’t take a ton of effort to outreach to those people and your success rate probably won’t be super high. However, you only have to get a couple to actually make it more than worth it’s wild.

Know, that’s been something that we’ve discovered in with the pale of service that we have never done in the past. We have never done, done like direct outreach sales. It’s not a thing doesn’t exist in our business model. However, we are starting to do that with the mail service, because what we do now is, you know, we can go in and identify customers that are using affiliate.

Oop. We can pick out those that we feel like would be. You know, the right fit for the service. And we just send them an email, basically like, Hey, do you have any struggle to pay your affiliates? You have any challenges, you know, here’s this new thing that we’ve been doing. Ask any questions you want. Let us know if you’d like to chat success rate, not super high, but it only takes one or two every now and then to be more than worth it.

Joe Howard: [00:45:21] Totally. Especially if they’re power affiliates and they’re paying out like a thousand affiliates a month, I mean that 3% is really significant for you. So the ROI in terms of like that expansion revenue that comes through as they sign up and that like increased lifetime value for them, for you now, it’s like you only need one or two.

Pippin Williamson: [00:45:36] That’s been a really fascinating aspect of this new service for us, because it’s completely different business model than what we’re used to, you know, in our previous and still current models for all of our brands. You know, every new customer is worth, you know, there’s a very defined dollar range. You know, what’s the lowest price option that we have.

What’s the highest price option we have. That’s it, that’s the price range. It turns out that with the pale service, that’s really not the case. There is no standard yet. You know, like over time we’ll be able to figure out averages and things like that. But, you know, we can have one customer that signs up and they do $10 a month entails, you know, 3% of $10 is.

Not very much. However, we could then have another customer that comes on and does a hundred thousand a month, 3% suddenly adds up a whole lot more. And so what we have already seen is that, like, we can have huge fluctuations in terms of growth. Like, so right now the service is consistently growing month over month, but we could have one month that then.

Five X is the previous months because one high value customer signs on, and then the same way, you know, if we don’t do our job well enough to keep that customer happy, they can go away and down it goes. So it’s been a completely different business model. That’s has a lot of potential and it’s been a.

Like I said, it’s been a really fun project to work on. And, and this is, this is the type of thing that we’re really interested in bringing into our products, you know, through, through bringing in more examples of value, adds like this, where we can take our self hosted solutions and introduce. SAS like components that solve challenges for our users.

You know, I think one of the best ways to identify needs, you know, whether we’re talking a new market, uh, or a new industry or things that a product needs is, you know, understanding what are the challenges of the customer base? What are they struggling with? What can you do better? And then if we can introduce some of those as a SAS component, where the billing structure makes sense for the customer, and it makes sense for us. Uh, and we can solve or completely remove a problem for them. It’s a win-win.

Joe Howard: [00:47:44] This has been awesome. I appreciate you jumping on, man. This has been cool. Not only to like, get to chat with you, but also to catch up. It’s been a while since we got to tend to word camp and we haven’t seen each other in person in a while, so it’s nice to catch up.

I’ve got two last things I always like guests to do. One is just tell folks where they can find you online. Brewery stuff online and Pat information, Sandhill stuff, all that jazz.

Pippin Williamson: [00:48:05] Sand Hills dev.com. Or if you Google Sandhills development, you’ll be able to find us. You can also find us through the floater of any one of our product websites. So easy digital downloads, affiliate, WP, WP, simple pay sugar calendar. You’ll find San hose development, LinkedIn, the bottom of that, and that you can find all of our stuff from there, including the brewery.

Joe Howard: [00:48:24] Cool man. The Sandhills dev.com looks really good. I think you guys redid the site. Like it wasn’t super recently. It was a little while ago, but it’s still like that for me, I’m looking, I was like, no, well.

Pippin Williamson: [00:48:34] I think it was yeah, about a year and a half or so ago. Yeah. It’s it’s lovely. So that’s all props to Mr. Sean Davis. He’s our director of design and also one of my business partners.

Joe Howard: [00:48:44] Sean shot. Tremendous one. Good job. Cool. Last but not least Pippin. I always like to ask our guests to ask our listeners for a little Apple podcast review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking folks to leave us a quick review, I’d appreciate.

Pippin Williamson: [00:48:55] Absolutely folks. Please, please. Come on. Give Joe a review on iTunes or any of the other podcasts directories. I used to run a podcast. I can tell you that that is one of the single most impactful things that you can do. If you appreciate these episodes, you want to see them continue. Please come in, leave a review, give some feedback, leave comments, questions, et cetera. Uh, I guarantee you, Joe reads them. It really does make a difference.

Joe Howard: [00:49:20] Yeah, appreciate it, man. I, you know, apply filters with the podcast that I don’t know if it had a direct impact on me starting this podcast, but it was one of the podcasts that started before. And at some level it helped me to get to this point of starting this podcast. So I got big props to you and Brad for, uh, for that podcast and starting something really special.

Pippin Williamson: [00:49:37] We certainly enjoyed it. It was. A fun project to work on. So I miss it still sometimes I think we should go back and do it again, but you know, like I mentioned earlier, we’ve become much more protective of our time and we left it in a good place.

Joe Howard: [00:49:49] It’s good to be able to transition, you know, on your say. So as opposed to external circumstances. So I totally hear you. Cool. Yes. If you leave us a review on Apple podcasts, WP mrr.com forward slash review, they’ll give you a redirect right there. If you’re on an Apple or a Mac device, leave comment, you can leave just a star rating, but if you leave a comment with something you learned about this episode, we can shoot a screenshot to PIP and say, Hey, thanks for the review.

But then it also helps us to source the kind of content we want to. Talk about here in the future, on the podcast, get a couple reviews for this episode. Oh, we’ll do it. We’ll have to put them back on. We’ll have more episodes around this kind of topic. So leave a comment. If you have a couple of minutes to do that, if you are new to the show, we’ve got a bunch of old episodes.

This is episode 140 something. So we’ve got a ton of older episodes. If you’re having challenges around. Any topic, really WP mrr.com forward slash podcast. We have a search bar right there to quick search find cool episode, do some bingeing we’re uh, we’re still at home a little bit. COVID is not quite over.

You know, you could either binge your new HBO show your Netflix show. Why don’t you bend some WP MRR, WordPress podcast and help yourself grow your WordPress business. If you have questions for me on the show. Yo Y Oh, at WP mrr.com. I like to do Q and a episodes every once in a while. And I’d love to get some questions I can answer live here on the show.

All right. That is it. For this week on the podcast, we will be in your earbuds again next Tuesday, Pippin. And thanks again for being on man. It’s been real.

Pippin Williamson: [00:51:15] Absolutely. Thank you. Joe has been my pleasure.

Joe Howard: [00:51:17] Let everybody .

Matt Mullenweg, Podcast

E143 – WordPress vs Wix & the Fight Against Fake News (Matt Mullenweg, Automattic)

In today’s episode, Joe talks to Matt Mullenweg, one of the founding developers of WordPress and the Founder and CEO of Automattic – a distribution company committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion with the goal to democratize publishing and commerce.

Matt talks about the systematic approach of Automattic, WordPress, and the rest of the Automattic web brands, as well as scaling and hiring skilled engineers, and the upside and downside of content distribution on different social platforms. 

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:51 Welcome to the pod, Matt!
  • 03:09 How does Automattic work?  
  • 04:08 Get to know QuickForget – a tool designed to assist in sending sensitive information through email
  • 07:17 WordPress VIP on upscaling and continuous business growth
  • 09:32 Is there a cross collaboration between WordPress and Automattic?
  • 11:48 Finding good engineers is still challenging
  • 15:14 Four immutable aspects we can look for in new hires
  • 17:30 What separates Automattic from WordPress
  • 18:47 WordPress and Automattic remain a platform that enables
  • 20:55 Should platforms take responsibility for all content published on their site?
  • 26:04 Preventing negativity and the spread of misinformation and fake news
  • 33:13 Trustworthy and reliable institutions are necessary in our society
  • 34:50 The conflict between Wix and WordPress

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Howdy folks, Joe Howard here this week, I got to sit down and chat with Matt Mullenweg. Now, if you don’t know who Matt is just listened to the first few minutes of today’s episode, you’ll get to know pretty quickly, but we got to have a really cool conversation. I. Prepped a lot for this episode, not a lot, but you know, five, six hours.

I was listening to other podcast episodes he’s been on. If you want hear more about him on other podcasts. And Matt report has a great episode that went out a couple months ago and Michelle did a great episode on WP coffee talk, both of which I listened to and really enjoyed. I thought maybe I wasn’t going to get a ton of time to ask him everything I wanted to, you know, I didn’t get to ask him everything or talk with every about every single topic I wanted to, but I got most of what I wanted to really talk about at the core.

We talked about automatic scaling that company, how they do hiring and recruiting there for engineers and for other positions, how they made it from 200 employees to 1400 really interesting stuff, especially from my perspective as a business owner. We talked about democratizing publishing and the era of fake news.

Matt has a really nuanced perspective on fighting fake news, the role of moderators, the role of companies, and section two 30, really some cool stuff there. And so, yeah. And the final thing we kind of talked about at the end, not kind of the final thing we chatted about was the Wix versus WordPress saga that is happening right now.

So if you’re. A core member of the community, you know, about all that stuff that’s happening. And you’ll get to hear mats opinion about that, my everything going on there and very eye-opening to hear some of the reasons why he wrote his letter on his blog or his blog posts there to clarify a few things, but also for some personal reasons as well.

So I’ll let him tell it because I can’t do it better than him. All right. Without further ado, please. Welcome. The one and only Matt Mullenweg enjoy today’s episode.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:02:03] the 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 Graham. And by next week you could be offering a 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: [00:02:46] We are live on the pod this week, uh, with the one and only Matt Mullenweg. Matt, I’m gonna do like a quick intro for you because most people listening probably know who you are at this point.

You are the co-founder of WordPress and CEO of automatic, but I kind of wanted to start around automatic because I think most people think about automatic and. They really focus on the WordPress side of things. I’d love for you to just kind of like break down the different pieces of automatic 1400 employees, automatic, you know, I don’t think they all work on WordPress core.

So I’d love you to do like a quick breakdown, like of all the like kind of sub companies or sub areas within automatic. That’d be cool.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:03:25] Sure. So off the top, we try to follow a five for the teacher. So that means about 5% of those 1400 people just work on WordPress core. Cause that’s about 70, a lot of that’s on Gutenberg.

Some of it’s on community organizing Josepha leads that for us and is obviously a prominent figure in the wordpress.org community. We also try to take 5% of the company. To work on what we call other bets, which we kind of shamelessly stole from Google products, going from zero to one new things or things that might be a little more nascent sensei could be a good example of that.

It’s a LMS plugin for WordPress that, that we work on the rest of the business is largely divided in kind of consumer. Where there’s like either like, do it yourselfers or developers or agencies who buy something with a credit card, like Jetpack or wordpress.com business plan or something like that. The anti-spam backup there’s enterprise, which we call VIP.

So that’s people spending usually North of 50 or a hundred grand a year for like a really, really elite proof WordPress that will like never have a problem. It’s like e-commerce through WooCommerce. And, um, we do some advertising as well. Most of that goes through our tumbler business, which is, was a competitive blogging platform.

Probably one of WordPress’s best ever competitors that we were able to buy in 2019. And we’re actually in the process of switching it over to be powered by word best. So yeah, we really want everything in the world will be powered by WordPress, wherever it

Joe Howard: [00:04:55] makes sense. Yeah. Cool. I heard a little bit about you talking about that kind of integration and transition into Tumblr on Matt, other math podcast, Matt Madeiros his podcast.

Um, and that was definitely an interesting part of that conversation. How about quick forget? I don’t know if that’s something that’s like still in your brain. Is that something that people say work on it automatic or is it kind of just its own thing that lives? Yeah, it’s

Matt Mullenweg: [00:05:17] cool that, you know, that one, that’s still one for like sharing a secret one time, right?

Yeah, exactly. That is just kind of a side project that we do. We give our engineers and we basically can create anything under our umbrella. And, um, sometimes there’s something that needs to exist in the world. Like an open source, trustworthy way to share a one-time secret that we’re pretty sure it gets deleted afterwards.

And that’s what grit for it is that, that, wow, that’s a deep cut. I actually. A while and kind of forgot that that was from

Joe Howard: [00:05:45] us. It’s fun to bring up those things from the past, we use it pretty frequently actually for folks passing things like login credentials to us safely, you know, people don’t want to do the, just the text format and an email link.

Well then Google probably has your email. So you want to keep it safe and secure. So that’s one method we actually use pretty frequent. I think someone on our team found it one day and was like, Oh, this is cool too. And then in the subheader, it’s like automatic. Family product or something like, Oh, cool.

Didn’t even know this existed, but I guess we do now

Matt Mullenweg: [00:06:11] across all of it. The number one thing that we try to do is just build trust and, you know, automatics about 15 years old now. And we just try to put more and more on the trust bank, whether that’s user that sees Automatic’s name on something, they know that it’s going to be.

You know, user centric, privacy centric, easy to get a refund. It’ll work well, it’ll be fast, it’ll be secure. And then as you know, other entrepreneurs also think maybe of selling their businesses or joining something larger, we can say, Hey, this is a place where, you know, it’s a, it’s a good place to work.

You have great colleagues really, and we’ll be able to accelerate and be a good home for the thing you built for a long period of time.

Joe Howard: [00:06:49] Yeah, very cool. You mentioned building that trust and that’s actually something I do want to dive into a little bit later in this episode there. So that’s a good little segue for something I like to talk about in a little bit, but the first thing I actually want to do was kind of talk more about.

Automatic the size of the company, how you’ve gotten to this point in 1400 employees is a lot, it’s a few more than we have, but WP buffs, you know, so man, that’s really thinking into the potential future for me, but I kind of wanted to know, because I listened to Matt. Madeiros his podcast with your new mentioned, you know, it actually may have been your podcast episode with Jack Dorsey.

On distributed podcast. I can’t remember. I listened to both because I was trying to do some prep for this podcast, but in one of them, you did talk about how WordPress VIP is about 200 people now. And one thing that you said that kind of stuck with me was you said, you know, if I’m misquoting a little bit, I’m just kind of reviewing about what you said, which was that the form of the scaling was very effective in terms of how.

It was a similar structure when automatic was at that point as when, at what VIP is right now. And I kind of actually wanted to dive a little bit more into that as a business owner, myself, as someone who’s, who wants to know kind of about scaling. Who’s had some scaling challenges in the past year, myself, you know, we’ve definitely been working on some things I’d love to know from you and dig a little bit more into that.

Like the similarities between where VIP is right now at about 200 people. And when automatic was 200 people and like, how did that 200. Turn into, you know, about seven times that many people, that’s an interesting direction I’d like to talk about.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:08:24] Yeah. So our VIP business has a CEO, Nick earner. I’m not the CEO of that.

Uh, it has an executive team, you know, I had chief revenue officer, chief marketing officer, you know, just kind of its own suite of executives. Has an informal board, which right now is opposed of, you know, me and automatic CFO and things like that. But over time, we’ll start to get more outside directors in there as well.

And they really, they own their roadmap and everything they do. So it’s, it’s, you know, I’ll review things with Nick, but by and large, 99% actually, VIP, especially, it’s not like I’m even asking them to build anything. Like I might ask like Jetpack or wordpress.com too. They’re really owning their own roadmap, their own go to market their own sales, their own acquisition.

Like we just acquired parsley and integrated that team. So that’s, that’s kind of the idea that it’s like its own company in a lot of ways.

Joe Howard: [00:09:16] So it sounds like it really fully has its own structure kind of under the automatic umbrella, but executive team, obviously its own CEO. It has, uh, a board which you’re on that kind of goes across, you know, that you’re maybe working on it with a few of the different.

Teams under automatic actually kind of leads to my next question, which was like how much cross collaboration are there between those teams within automatic? Like is the CEO of VIP, like, are all the CEO is getting together in a yearly meeting themselves. Talk about what they’re doing, what they’re seeing successful or do you kind of try to keep them independent?

I’m sure there are pros and cons to both, but I’d love to know how you kind of handle the. Multiple kind of business units within one business unit is WT buses started to get into this acquisition area and we did one earlier this year. And again, I want to know, cause I’m like, wow, I really do have to, you know, plan for the future if we want to keep doing this.

So how does that work at automatic? Yeah.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:10:07] Yeah. So we have some shared services that we think of like a service organization. We actually call it bridge because it bridges all the teams and, uh, that thinking about like legal HR. Finance, obviously, fundraising is something we run centrally. So infrastructure, you know, all the data centers, all the technical scaling, some security work, you know, so there are some things that are central services that just like, it wouldn’t make sense for VIP to have its own data centers and wordpress.com to have its own data’s.

Cause like we can, we can share some things there. And we do have a common platform which has WordPress. And so everything that we build forward, press like VIP started to do a lot more WooCommerce. A lot more WooCommerce actually. So they’re working with the WooCommerce team a lot. And like, as a, if they find a scaling bottleneck, they can work with the WooCommerce core developers to get that fixed up.

Jet pack is really central to really everything we do. And that platform that provides like real-time backup elastic, search security scan, like that is key for really everything Jetpack and WordPress are kind of our common base layer. So yeah, lots of collaboration that goes across them. We try to make that collaboration because it makes sense.

Not because you’re forced to do it so we can make those internal services really, really, really good people want to use them. And then also occasionally we’ll, we’ll say, Hey, this internal service is not living up to what you need. So let’s try and experiment where we do something else. Maybe that’s the biggest bottleneck in our company right now is, uh, hiring engineers.

So in 2021, I need to hire more than 200 engineers. I’d love as many as 300. So that’s just a lot of people.

Joe Howard: [00:11:48] Is that something you feel like has been a challenge during COVID specifically when like everyone’s going remote so everybody can hire, so it makes it more competitive for you or is it just like a general challenge?

Like finding good engineers is difficult. Is some

Matt Mullenweg: [00:12:00] of that finding good engineers is difficult? Oh, well I think it’s that a lot of good engineers don’t know about automatic. So we need to like, you know, get our story out there a bit more. And it was just has a biggest celebration of our business and particularly on the e-commerce side in the COVID post COVID world.

So. But there’s just a lot more needs, a lot more opportunity. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:12:20] Continue to lead into my next question. Very well. So keep it going. I kind of wanted to talk about, because I’ve heard you say that you do want to make some big hires this year. Are those hires that you’re an automatic is planning to make via.

Direct hiring, you know, do you have recruiters that are helping you to get, you know, find and recruit new engineers and you plan to do more direct hiring? Or is this more hiring through acquisitions, through echo hires or just. Potentially making a purchase that would bring a team of solid engineers, maybe not one at a time, but like 40 or 50 or a hundred at a time.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:12:55] Amber is for hiring that’s our hiring goal. So if anything comes in via acquisitions is a bonus to that. And it wouldn’t lower that hiring goal because that’s just what we need for like our existing stuff. I would say a mistake that we made was not building internal recruiting earlier. So we are just now starting to have internal sourcers recruiters and be a little more systematic in our approach there, you know, I see other companies where that’s one of the first 10 or 20 hires.

And particularly if you need to scale quickly, I think that could be a, a good investment or finding a great firm to work with. And so, and the. And that kind of experimental we’re, we’re a very experimental company. We’re also working with several externs or recruiters that are going to try to help us meet these goals, which has some bonuses and challenges.

Like they often come with their own networks when it doesn’t go well, sometimes they might send a, you know, uh, not well targeted email or we’ve had it before where we say like, Hey, please, don’t send emails to our partners. We, we don’t try to fish in the same pod. Was that the workman’s comp. You know, there’s plenty of room for us all to grow.

So that sort of thing, sometimes there’s mistakes that happen, which actually goes back to the earlier trust. Like we build trust for a long time. I a hundred percent there and guarantee that we’re going to mess things up sometimes too. And that’s just human inevitability. And what we try to do is.

Correct. Those mistakes quickly acknowledged them and hopefully have built enough trust in the past that it really is seen as a mistake and not like, ah, this company’s evil or did this on purpose.

Joe Howard: [00:14:25] Yeah. It’s somehow kind of nice for me as a smaller business owner to hear bigger businesses have challenges with hiring and recruiting as well, because almost every.

WordPress professional. I talk to every other business owners, plugin companies, theme companies, or WordPress web website management companies, hosting companies. Every time we have a conversation around the challenges we’re having, most of the time, it comes back to like hiring and finding good people and finding people who are great fits for these positions, you know, getting the right people on the bus and then getting those people in the right seats of the bus really complex.

And it’s almost like because I have background in more marketing stuff and it’s like optimizing a sales funnel or a marketing funnel. That I can do. Yes. It may take some time and some ingenuity, but I could do that. But optimizing like for people, Whoa, that’s like a way more complex problem. Um, so I would like to know a little bit more about, it sounds like you.

Are doing a lot of experimenting to find the best and most effective way to grow the team effectively. Whether you go in the direction more of, you know, using more outside recruiters or whether you pull that more internally, it sounds like testing is a big way that you’re going to test and then see the results of those different areas.

And then try and push forward on that hiring. Does that in general kind of the direction you’re going in?

Matt Mullenweg: [00:15:40] Yeah, I mean, I think part of that is hiring people who are open to doing experiments. Yeah, because change is scary. Yeah. I do like to think of kind of the four immutable aspects that we can look for for new hires, which are things that are difficult to learn or teach.

And the first is just work ethic. I think some people just enjoy working more than others. So we want more of that integrity is of course, like a baseline. It just, everyone needs to be able to trust each other curiosity or desire to learn. Learning by the way sucks. Sometimes it’s like, it’s really tough.

And like, you’re like, I know this thing. Why do I have to learn this new thing? Or you have to go through that, like Deb, where you’re like, terrible, like maybe the first day that you’re learning a new sport or to ski or to surf or something, the beginning can be like really challenging. And you’re just like falling and hurting yourself.

There’s the intellectual equivalency sounds like

Joe Howard: [00:16:29] entrepreneurship too.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:16:30] Yeah. I don’t think I look for it’s just taste and taste is, um, I think can be expressed. Yeah. It’s not being like a good designer or dressing cool or anything like that. It’s really like, you know, whatever you’re into. Do you have something you’re really into.

And like, try to hone that. And maybe that’s quilting, maybe that’s, you know, I don’t need like a really fancy resume. Maybe you created like a beautiful ASCII one, you know, just with texts, plain text, you know, do all the links on your site where there’s some basic things, you know, but to me it kind of shows that conscientiousness, that you’re thinking about the experience of whoever’s interacting with this thing that you created.

Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:17:10] we put an operations professional position up that we were hiring for. We got like 2000 applications and the ones that stood out were really the ones that we ended up moving forward with people who like shot a loom video or people who like created a page on their website to talk about the WordPress knowledge.

Like the unique pieces were important. They’re so cool. I want to switch gears a little bit into the mission of automatic, which of course is to democratize publishing.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:17:36] We differ from WordPress as mentioned by two words. So WordPress is to democratize publishing and automatics to democratize publishing and commerce.

And

Joe Howard: [00:17:45] commerce. I see, uh, postal commerce, uh, slight adjustments, but I’m sure you have. Yeah, exactly. Hey, you’re testing. You have to be flexible around the things you’re doing. So I get it. Okay. I actually didn’t know that. So thanks for teaching me something on the pod. It’s this interesting time. I feel like I’m talking to you, Matt, because I just finished the, um, uh, queue into the storm, which is a Q and a documentary on HBO.

I don’t know if you’ve seen it or checked it out. No. I, you know, obviously there’s a lot in there and I do not want to talk about you and John on this podcast. But what I do want to talk about a little bit is eight Chan, which is the platform on which a lot of, uh, very pro free speech to the point of really letting anything be said on that platform, which led to some pretty bad stuff happening.

So I guess my general question. For you is really in this ecosystem that we’re like currently in 2021, you know, the challenges we’re having with fake news and the challenges we’re having around just verifying what is a fact versus what is not a fact? Are you still as bullish on those missions at WordPress and automatic as you always have been?

Yeah,

Matt Mullenweg: [00:18:54] I am. You know, freedom isn’t free. Democracy is messy. There is. Downsides to these things as well. But I think overall, we want to live in a society that follows these things. You know, we want to work at companies that believe in these principles, you know, moderation is tough and I believe again, not to dive into it, but like my understanding was the person pretending to be cute.

Might’ve been or taken over by the person who who’s running HR. So I don’t know if that’s a great example of like a free speech platform or if it was really just like. Someone tried to use a fig leaf of free speech and then actually promoting their own sort of, you know, need for influence or powers something.

If you actually look at the platform platforms, they don’t want to have that sort of stuff, you know, like they don’t want hate, they don’t want calls to violence that like, this is pretty clear. We’ve had a good track record, you know, for sure things that we run and host keeping a healthy environment. Um, I definitely gained a lot of empathy for larger social networks when we bought tumbler, because it was both a lot harder and a lot messier.

So I think the larger that you are, and then the more people are doing more social media stuff, the harder it can be. So I actually don’t like dunking on Twitter or Facebook because I think that what they’re doing is really, really, really hard. I think they can and should do better, but yeah. It’s unimaginably hard to moderate across that amount of things.

But for us, what we’re doing is creating the platform that enables, and I think that the software needs to exist in the world. The responsibility, I think, falls a bit to the folks hosting or distributing that software to follow the laws and principles of the place where they choose to do business and try to make the world a better place.

A lot of things in that answer, but it’s a tricky topic.

Joe Howard: [00:20:44] I agree very much that it’s a tricky topic, as much as I feel like sometimes I want to dunk on Facebook and Twitter. I totally agree with you that it is just, how do you moderate at scale? How do you do that without using algorithms and bots to hire literally a million people to moderate?

Like, I don’t think that’s a very scalable solution, you know, so I understand the infrastructure issues.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:21:04] They have literally millions of people moderating Facebook. So they hired 10,000. Maybe that’s not enough, you know? And then. That creates other issues. Like, you know, what is the experience of the people doing the moderation I think is

Joe Howard: [00:21:17] right.

I do agree. One thing I did want to key in on what you mentioned was you feel like the platforms do have some responsibility for the kind of content that does appear on their platforms. Um, which kind of like goes into this whole article. Two 30, which is, you know, a law that I actually have it written down here.

So I can say it for people who may not know what it is. Section two 30 C one provides immunity from liability for providers and users of an interactive computer service. That’s in quotes, interactive computer service, who publish information provided by. Third party users. So what do you think about two 30?

I mean, I guess the real question is, do you feel like Plath should be responsible for the kind of content that is published on their platforms, even though they just are the platforms or do you think they should be immune from that responsibility?

Matt Mullenweg: [00:22:04] Well, I think the conversation centers largely around like Facebook and things like that, but everyone listening to this two 30 is really important.

So if you have comments on your blog, Two 30 is what keeps you from going to jail. If someone posts a bad comment and it publishes to give you another example where two 30, if it work on the wordpress.org forums or plugin reviews, or, you know, our Wiki pages that anyone can edit, like all of those within become things that wordpress.org could have real liability for if something were published.

So you have to move to essentially where everything is pre moderated, probably with humans. And I mean, that gets tricky. We have thousands of posts a day on the wordpress.org support forums. I guess we would then try to get volunteers to people like it. It just gets to be a really kind of mild situation.

Now there are other laws that essentially do you post moderation. So after something is published, if it’s reported as being bad, you have like a, a window to, uh, to fix it. Um, most famous as it is being the DMTA. So let’s say that. I don’t know. I’d say I post a comment on your website and I include the copy-written lyrics to a Taylor Swift song.

And now I saw

Joe Howard: [00:23:21] your post that you just posted that before we came on this podcast.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:23:24] Now they’re coming after you and saying, Hey, Joey, you violated our copyright. You’re republishing. This thing. The fines could be a hundred thousand dollars. I mean, they could take you to court. They could, there could be all these sorts of things that happen right now with the DMC.

You have kind of a protection where they notify you. You can say, Hey, you have like, uh, an undefined amount of time, but let’s call it like a week or two to either say, actually that’s fair use or it’s fine. Or take it down. That’s a huge protection for you as a website operator. So I worry is that sometimes these battles of the giants like Google and Facebook and Microsoft are fighting each other, the collateral damage is all of us in the independent web.

So like some of these privacy things that were, I think, targeted at like Google and Facebook essentially now mean that every other website in the world has to have one of these terrible cookie banners. And third party advertising networks have been decimated and it actually sent into centralizing power with Google and Facebook.

They now have more of the ad market than they did before some of these regulations happen. So there can be unintended side effects of, I think even well-meaning regulation. I think what everyone agrees with is a lot of these laws were written in like the nineties, the eighties, the seventies, and they don’t.

You know, sometimes they still kind of work, but it’s not perfect. And something more modern, I think could be really nice. Yeah. You know, especially if it was hashed out, you know, through, in America, through our legal system, you know, we have this, how a bill becomes a law. She ever see that, uh, that cartoon is that called.

That’s right. Yeah. Like that is by definition, it’s on purpose to be an adversarial process and, you know, people will, should fight and then they kind of work out a compromise and hopefully that’s what’s best. That is something that I, um, I hope we can have some more of in the future, but just a broad scale, like repealing section two 30 would be disastrous for independent website publishers and lots of like volunteer open source projects.

The big companies could afford to hire another 10,000 moderators. I don’t know what we do for something like a wordpress.org or GitHub what’s like code. Like if someone posts like it have is protected by this too, someone posts something that violates it. GitHub is not liable. For the code that someone puts in their own repository.

So

Joe Howard: [00:25:49] yeah, I appreciate that nuanced answer. Honestly. One of the reasons I was excited to talk to you is because I’ve listened to you on podcasts and all sorts of stuff before, and you are very nuanced in your answers. And I knew I was going to learn a lot this podcast. So I think there’s, there’s a lot there.

I would like to like the challenge around. Fake news is a very difficult one. And it’s maybe there’s a Venn diagram where it’s kind of part of the intersection of two 30 and the other things we talked about, but one of the things I’m going to quote you here. Uh, one of the things I have heard you say before is disinformation can make its way around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.

Or get ready. I’ve never heard that quote exactly like that before, but I think what you were really talking the study, you know, there’ve been multiple studies around how, you know, fake news travels and gets shared at a rate that is what six, seven, eight times, whatever. I don’t want to put an exact number out there, but it’s multiple times.

Faster and more shared than factual stories. And as someone in your position who runs automatic, a lot of the content on the web, I’d love to know your thoughts on how like in 50 years, or maybe let’s say 10 years in 10 years, let’s say we’d like figured out how to, I don’t know, not have fake news, be such a driver of bad things happening in the real world.

What’s that? Solution or maybe like the beginning. So that solution,

Matt Mullenweg: [00:27:14] is this a tricky one and to full credit for that quote? I think it’s like a Winston Churchill quote. I mean,

Joe Howard: [00:27:21] to quote someone else. Yes.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:27:23] It’s good to think of a spectrum. And I believe this concept comes from Ben Thompson, that the closer you are to the wire, like network provider, the more that you should try to not be too much and like deciding what is right or wrong and more just following the laws of the lands.

Uh, which do tend themselves towards being a bit more open with rules, for calls to violence and other things like you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. That’s not free speech, but you know, saying something that just straight up wrong is okay right now, as you get more on the spectrum where you’re actually distributing things.

So it’s not, does it, is it allowed to exist, but more like, is it getting put in everyone’s news feed and in front of everyone? I think as you move along that spectrum, you get a lot more into the responsibility for the type of content that you’re distributing and how to maybe have high. There are lower trust given to certain sources, or I think there’s been a lot of us around COVID information.

You know, a lot of COVID misinformation out there and a lot of the networks have put like labels on things are, might even prevent certain things being shared. I mean, I don’t love that

Joe Howard: [00:28:37] you don’t love the part of it that’s stopping the information or you don’t like the information. I

Matt Mullenweg: [00:28:43] don’t love the part that stopping the information, but I think what they’re trying to protect against which by the way has happened a lot in the past year is some false information goes out.

Especially if it’s localized, a mob can literally form and people can die, you know, before it’s corrected. Yeah. There’s example and examples in BMR there’s examples in India, where there were allegations that, you know, someone was assaulted, people of a different group got really angry about this. They started attacking, I remember it was Hindus Muslims.

There was there’s some version of this story and, you know, I think that the networks are not responsible, they didn’t create the fakeness, but they, I think they do have a responsibility to try to insert something in there that increases the friction a bit, or sort of catches things. Yeah. If they’re, they’re escalating out of control.

Let me give you an example, which is not that controversial, which most networks have social networks, for example, on tumbler. If you start to post things that make it look like you’re going to harm yourself. There’s certain things that people search for or my post, or do there’s a bot actually that just kind of algorithm detects that says, Hey, here’s a number you can call if you’re feeling terrible.

And it’s essentially like a suicide prevention, it’s actually some of the first code I worked on my first job. When I moved to San Francisco, it was actually a question, a Q and a sites, uh, run by CNET called help.com. And it was a Q and a set kinda like Yahoo answers or core or something like that. I poured it into WordPress who answers, but it turned out that a number of people with type health.com when they were going through a challenging, personal situation or mental health issue or something like that.

And so part of what. We did was create something that could sort of point them to resources that said, Hey, you know, in this moment, here’s another thing to do. If you look at it, that’s kind of what people are trying to do when they say like, if you’re posting LinkedIn, something here is the official COVID information or here’s what the science says.

Or the doctors are saying about vaccines where I don’t love it as also, you know, sometimes the authorities or they’re wrong, you know, or, or they learn things over time. I think though that we conflate the fact that everyone is wrong sometimes with the idea that everything is probably wrong all the time.

And you must like find your own sources. So like, yes, the CDC has made mistakes in early part of COVID, but are those mistakes still there a year later? No they’ve corrected them. And so I think you do kind of want to look at the, not just does a source make a mistake or not, but how do they correct it over time?

And that being a proxy for trustworthiness over time and all the examples of this, like thinking there were weapons of mass destruction and Iraq, and the attire was the New York times was saying that CDC who like. Every single authority will make mistakes. It’s kind of similar to the trust I talked about earlier, where I said is going to mess things up at some point, maybe that’s like accidentally putting it at a bad ad for jet pack or something like that.

But how do we correct it? And that behavior over time is where trust comes from. Not imagining that anyone’s perfect. Cause no one is. Yeah. Thinking there because I saw you make so many faces while we were talking about that, man.

Joe Howard: [00:32:00] I was just thinking that what you said about just the fact that people make, make mistakes doesn’t mean they make mistakes all the time, or you said something like that.

And I think about that with like the news all the time, and people make mistakes, like using that as an example, like just because the CDC. A very trustworthy organization over time that has built up trust over time has made some missteps and COVID, and the issue around that is although most people or a significant amount of people would say, yeah, they made some mistakes.

You know, people will make mistakes, big organizations make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Some people will take those mistakes and use it to political advantage in my opinion, and will use a certain thing. Someone said to spread it out and then it spread seven times as fast as the truth does. And that I think is still a big challenge.

So yeah, I think around that moderation is we, it needs. To take steps forward, but how it does take steps forward is a challenge because the people moderating also have a political leaning. So, and it felt like you were kind of in the middle of that a little bit, like you don’t like what could potentially be censorship, but you also do think that moderation is necessary at a point.

And it’s like, where’s. The middle of there. I don’t know.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:33:13] It’s also really important to have institutions that we can trust and rely on, like it’s necessary for a functioning society and particularly a democratic society. If you look at regimes or leaders that try to say question everything, they’re usually saying question everything.

It’s set me. And this sort of idea, which meant that I couldn’t in Russia voluntarily and was like, these types of leaders are part of their playbook is to say, don’t trust the media. Don’t trust doctors. Don’t trust, like, you know, these more democratic institutions, because they’re either trying to just create a general fear, which then they can capitalize on.

Or they’re essentially trying to create this like strong man populism. Yeah, it is one of the dangerous forces in society today. If you look around the world or where that is happening, um, those are societies, which over time you and I probably don’t want to live in. Now.

Joe Howard: [00:34:12] Yeah, I think I would agree. It, it, it felt from my point of view, like I was living in there from 2016 until 2020, but that’s a whole nother conversation.

The one thing I did want to dig into a little bit, again, I’m going to switch gears a little bit, cause we don’t have unlimited time here on the pod, but I wanted to talk a little bit about. The Wix versus WordPress. I don’t know if I’ll say versus here, but the Wix slash WordPress may have put WordPress first WordPress slash Wix saga.

Yeah. That seems to be kind of unfolding over the last 10 days or two weeks or so. I’m just going to kind of review things solely and Matt, you can. Step in with corrections or anything like that. But from what I’ve seen, Wix sent folks, WordPress influencers, I guess you could call them. I didn’t receive one of them.

I’m actually a little bit disappointed. Wix, what has happened there? They send some more press influencers, some headphones, and then started this whole, these were like Bose wireless headphones with a link to a new marketing campaign that became more public kind of bashing WordPress. Maybe I’ll remove the word kind of from there, bashing WordPress and, you know, giving people a reason why they should jump over to Wix and WordPress folks in WordPress based.

We’re not very happy about this, including yourself. I’d imagine you have a blog post that you wrote it like an open letter to Wix on Matt, M a T T that you know, I read in full. Um, and then the CEO of Wix wrote an open letter back to you, you know, kind of throwing swings back. I just kinda wanted to get your.

Feelings over it. And it feels like, I don’t know, like as in your position, everybody is somewhat susceptible to some kind of stress in their life. I’m sure this hasn’t been like a super fun two weeks for you, but maybe you’re just laughing it off. Maybe you’re just like, whatever, but I’d love to know what you’re thinking right now.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:35:53] Just a few things I’d like to clarify there. I was not writing a letter to works or their CEO. I have no interest in writing a letter to him or talking to him. I was kind of trying to say just what had happened, which was really bizarre. And a fight that we did not start nor want to participate in. You know, so part of what they were doing is they were actually impersonating WordPress.

Which is kind of weird so that the headphones that came out were, like I said, here’s something I sent for you, like from WordPress. And then the video that you would see was kind of like this like guy who actually had a WordPress logo on his quarter, a jacket, and he’s saying, Hey, I’m WordPress. Let me tell you.

And so some people are going, his confusion was real. So people really thought that maybe the WordPress, I guess the WordPress community had done this as like a thank you.

Joe Howard: [00:36:42] Oh, I didn’t, I didn’t catch that.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:36:45] Yeah, because the video said, Hey, I just want to say Wix is about to attack me. And so we got to like watch out.

And so it was kind of that impersonation, I think was, um, was kind of strange because. Uh, yeah, that was weird. And then once the commercials came out, it was part of their plan though. So these commercials came out. I just found it a little tasteless where, you know, in the midst of a pandemic, when a lot of people are struggling with mental health, the post I wrote was a few days before the anniversary of my father’s passing and this, this kind of WordPress character was kind of like, kind of like a drunk absent father character.

And they had a son in like a therapy session who was like saying. Essentially in this abusive relationship with this absent father character. And, and it was that sort of personification and the kind of tastefulness of that I found was a little, a little odd, even for an attack ad. We get attack ads all the time.

I know there’s been one from Duda and others in the past that we don’t respond to or worry about, but that’s why I wrote the blog posts both to also clarify that this wasn’t from us, for people who are legitimately confused. Andrew saying like, Hey, this is a low blow. Then I took a few shots at Wix too, because I think it’s, you know, we do have a history with that.

Where are they a few years ago, stole GPL code, embedded it illegally in our proprietary application, then denied it and then lied about it and then rewrote it essentially when they, it was clear that they were caught. And then more recently I’ve made the point that Wix doesn’t allow you to export contents.

Squarespace Weebly, Webflow, Facebook, Google, everyone in the world allows you to export content. Of course, WordPress.

Joe Howard: [00:38:34] I liked how the other CEO’s note to you said like, yes you can. But like when your blog posts, like the featured image on social is literally like their policy and like you’re not allowed

Matt Mullenweg: [00:38:43] to do this.

I feel like we’re taking big pot shots because it was a screenshot of their own documentation. It wasn’t like for us, they’re also trying to, like, they’re saying one of the things they made fun of was out of memory errors. I guess when you’re upgrading at a memory errors, honestly, I don’t know. That would be even top 10 on my list for things that we need to work off because every host, I think, is corrected for that, unless you’re with like a really terrible, like really bad web host, they get out of memory errors are much, much more rare because the GoDaddy is a blue host.

So WP engine’s the site grounds, like all of the automatic stuff. Like we now have higher requirements, you know, that, that hasn’t been as common of an error in the past. So. And they will also conflating wordpress.com on WordPress at Oregon. Some people are like, Hey Matt, you had an issue with that. Why did you write this up behalf of the community versus like riding it for automatic competition, but literally on their landing pages and the footer, they said to clarify, this is about wordpress.org.

And so that’s why I was kind of wearing my wordpress.org hat and trying to defend on behalf of the wider community. Now  has always been an aggressive company. They have every right to their customers, proprietary software, et cetera. Like it just, you know, leave us alone. Right? Like we’re, we’re not focused on the competition.

We’re focused on our own users. I have our top 10 list of problems. Like, gosh, like we need the block patterns to work better. I want themes to be more customizable. Like, like I do want upgrades to be easier, but I want them to be totally automatic. So you never think about them. Like we have the list of things we’re working on with the four phases of Gutenberg with every release of WordPress.

And we’re not taking the pot shots, but to be honest, you know, there’s another quote that I forget. I don’t attribute it to me. It’s like, Don’t wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty. The pig likes it. I feel bad for taking the bait. Um, I actually wrote the post a few days. I want to use that for a few days.

And I had shared the draft with some friends and someone was like, you know, this is not that bad. You just, just post this out. But obviously they were planning for that. So that’s why they had their letter ready to go and stuff. But in the WordPress community, I would say if this has, has bugged, you. The number one thing we can do is just help a friend, teach someone WordPress, teach them, you know, the advantages, if any of them are having problems like around those videos, show them the easy ways to get by like getting a good web host.

And if you have anyone you love that uses Wix, maybe, maybe help them upgrade.

Joe Howard: [00:41:21] I have a friend who uses a good friend of mine who has their website on Wix. And honestly, until this. Whole thing happened. I was like, Wix fine. I actually didn’t know as much about the stealing of the GPL information. And I think the challenge there is using it for proprietary software.

That’s clearly aware of the bounds of GPL licensing stops, but I actually sent her that article and I sent her your blog post as well. And I was like, Hey, just so you know, like there’s some shit happening. And so you should probably know about it. If you have somebody, you know, she’s not a. Website person.

She runs just her business on it. So she may not care too much, but it’s important for her to know the kind of company she’s working with. So I did send that to her, Matt. So I got it.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:41:59] If you can help migrate the site, they don’t provide an export. So it’s a little tricky, but, but you can, you can even upgrade the design or something like that, I think is kind of a nice way for us to kind of.

Just do our own community thing. And it’s true, by the way, you might also experience how hard it is to get a refund from Rex. That’s another dig. I took it though, which by the way is not like me making stuff up. It’s just on the internet. You can compare even like, you know, automatic complaints, every business has complaints, but the ones about wakes are like 10 times more, which obviously means they’re doing something very different when you try to cancel your account.

Joe Howard: [00:42:33] Matt, thank you for jumping on the podcast. I really appreciated you jumping on. I really did enjoy talking with you. I learned a lot personally, and I think listeners will have to the second to last thing I like to ask our guests to do is just tell folks where they can find you online. Read blog, contents, find you on social media.

I know you say you’re kind of, you’re active in some Slack groups. Where can folks reach out to you or find you.

Matt Mullenweg: [00:42:55] Okay. The plug section. So a plug, two things, business-wise do it, you know, back.com will commerce.com for a lot of the audience here. I think that those are two great products to be building on jet back to.

Sort of make your site faster and more secure and we’ll commerce. If you want to sell stuff, a lot of people still don’t know that on wordpress.com business plan, you can actually run plugins and themes and have full control over code and SFTP access. So keep that in mind, as you’re deciding between managed word process, I am at Emmett ITT.

It’s my blog. That’s where you can see this Wix thing on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter. I’m Fotomat P H O T O. M a T T and I think I’m just Matt on wordpress.org. So you can hit me up on the Slack there, or, or, you know, look for my tickets or plugins or anything like that. I love connecting with community and I really appreciated connecting here.

So, you know, let’s do this again and that’s, I’ll make this the last time we get together having to come back on every year or so. And, and, uh, please reach out next time. You want me back on the pot? You

Joe Howard: [00:43:56] got it. You got it. And last thing I like to ask guests to do is to ask our listeners for a little Apple podcast review.

So if you wouldn’t mind asking folks listening for little review,

Matt Mullenweg: [00:44:05] I’d appreciate it. I guess if you enjoyed this podcast or if he didn’t leave her more reviews the better.

Joe Howard: [00:44:14] Yeah, totally. If you liked it, you can go leave the five-star review. If you didn’t like it, then you can email us and you don’t have to leave a review at all.

Exactly. Cool. Send me a Twitter. Yeah. Right, right. Awesome. If you are a new listener to us here on the show, we’ve got a hundred plus a hundred Matt. You’ll probably be on episode 140 something of the podcast, but we’ve got a whole bunch of older episodes. You can go back and listen to WP mrr.com forward slash podcast.

Go to use the search feature there. Do you have trouble on pricing or growing your business? How to make more MRR, how to help democratize publishing can find this episode, lots of old topics to dig into. If you want to bus a review on Apple podcasts, WP MRR forward slash review. That new, we used to, it used to be four slash iTunes, but we updated it because I tend to say Apple podcast.

So that should be live by the time this podcast goes live. If you have questions for me on the show, email, yo Y O at WP, M R r.com. Uh, I like to do Q and a episodes every once in a while as well. So shoot questions to me. Uh, or you can find me on Twitter, Joseph H. Howard at Joseph’s H Howard fan. You can hit me up.

There as well. That is it for this week. We will be in your earbuds again next Tuesday morning, Matt. Thanks again for being on. It’s been

Matt Mullenweg: [00:45:33] real. I really appreciate this and keep up the good work. This is awesome. What you’re doing for the community and key man

Joe Howard: [00:45:39] late everybody.

Podcast

E142 – Teaching WordPress to Get Students Hired (Courtney Robertson, learn.wordpress.org)

In today’s episode, Joe talks to Courtney Engle Robertson, a WordPress teacher dedicated to helping businesses streamline their online marketing. She has been teaching basic through advanced software, hardware, and social media uses in plain English for third graders through grandparents, including businesses and bootcamp students since 2001.

Courtney reveals the unlimited passion behind the Learn WordPress community where volunteers contribute educational resources to share with professionals that are seeking to upscale their skills.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:09 Welcome to the pod, Courtney!
  • 05:02 Teaching programming in educational institutions
  • 10:22 Summer camp for high schoolers to learn WordPress
  • 17:39 The challenges of teaching programming in schools
  • 21:29 There’s no clear map for people who wants learn tier 2 tech support
  • 23:23 Contributions at Learn are mostly from volunteers
  • 26:13 Motivation behind WordPress learning voluntary contributions
  • 30:12 Identifying needs and keeping the team together
  • 32:19 Tapping in to the web dev area can be tricky
  • 37:08 Taking subcontract developer job
  • 39:26 Identify where you are lacking and what to learn next
  • 42:04 What’s the best way to learn new skills?
  • 45:54 Find Courtney online! 

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Oh buddy folks, Joe Howard here this week, I got to have Courtney Robertson on the podcast. I’ve tried to have Courtney on for a little while. We kept running into calendar stuff. I’m busy then. And then we finally got to sit down today and get a few minutes to chat on the podcast. Courtney is awesome.

She is an educator. She’s been doing education work and teaching for a long, long time. Starting off with high school. Students teaching coding, moving in and doing more agency work, but eventually making her way to learn.wordpress.org and really doing a lot of the organization around that volunteer effort and really cool to hear, you know, what drives her in her.

Pursuit of doing as much teaching and education as possible. She really wants to help, you know, as many people as possible get jobs and find careers that they love. Uh, and it really is inspiring to just talk with her here. But I think I lost me inspiring for you all to listen to today’s episode and really hear from someone who has pretty clear North star they’re following.

All right. Without any further ado, here is Courtney Robertson. Please enjoy today’s episode

Courtney Robertson: [00:01:23] WP MRR. WordPress podcast is brought to you by WP buffs. WP buffs manages WordPress websites, 24 seven. Empowers digital growth for agencies, freelancers and WordPress professionals. Join our white label program. And by next week you could be offering a 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 all three at WP buffs.

Joe Howard: [00:02:05] Hey, we are alive on the pod this week with Courtney Robertson. Courtney, tell folks a little bit about you, what you do with WordPress.

Maybe like when we met for the first time where you kind of covered that offline before we got started here.

Courtney Robertson: [00:02:17] I met you at word camp Lancaster. I am West of Gettysburg. I’ll say most people. If they look at the map would not know the town name. So I’ll just call it West of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. And we’ve been to a few word camps together.

I teach WordPress a lot. I teach WordPress development a lot. I am a former high school business ed teacher. My parents were also both teachers. I taught computer programming at a high school setting. I took some time off to go build my own websites for clients. Did that for a number of years, hopped back into the classroom, teaching WordPress into a vo-tech.

Took some more time away with young children and then worked for a while at the events, calendar, fantastic company, good group to work with had a lot of experience in a plugin and agency environment and learning a lot of the tools of the trade there and then found an opportunity to come back as teaching WordPress again.

So I find myself these days at code differently, which is a bootcamp located in Delaware. Our main offices. Before COVID are located in Wilmington these days, we are all in zoom. Everybody’s in zoom all the time. And so I work with those that are in a front end development track. They are learning HTML, CSS and Java script.

They have been unemployed due to COVID and the program is at no cost to participants because it is part of an initiative through the department of labor to get people back to work. We’ve added into that. Some intermediary. PHP and we’re press up through developing themes. So it’s been a real fun ride over the past year.

And I have loved that time. I also hang out over with the WordPress training team, facilitating meetings and leading where we’re going.

Joe Howard: [00:04:01] Nice. Oh my gosh. So much in there. I didn’t want to go into it all right now, but I did want to rewind back to what you originally said about meeting at WordCamp Lancaster, because I feel like everyone’s like.

Most people in WordPress community know the big word camps, like the word camp, Europe and word camp B West now like word camp Asia. Although that’s not really had a chance to bloom yet because of COVID stuff, but they know the big word cancer and word camp Lancasters like a smaller camp, you know, it’s one, maybe it’s a couple hundred people in Lancaster, PA it’s the first word camp I ever.

Went to, as a WordPress person. And I actually say pretty frequently, I think it’s my favorite word camp. Like maybe more favorite than even like some of the more major ones. It’s just, so I feel like almost at home there, it feels like so friendly, not the bigger camps don’t, but it’s like, it’s more intimate at word camp Lancaster.

And I just, it always feels like I get to revisit my roots. So I just want to give a shout out to all the folks working on blank, Esther. Cause what, what a great word camp.

Courtney Robertson: [00:04:54] Also there’s Whoopie pies or gobs, depending upon where in Pennsylvania you’re from.

Joe Howard: [00:04:58] Exactly. Exactly. So you can’t skip out on those for sure.

Right. Other thing I did want to touch on because we were kind of talking offline before this, you were talking about some of the WordPress and educational stuff you do, but it sounds like you also. At one point was doing work in schools and maybe I missed it. Was it high schools or middle schools or both?

Yeah. So

Courtney Robertson: [00:05:15] I taught high school. I am certified as a high school business ed teacher. I got into this specifically to teach programming. I taught HTML and CSS as it was just becoming available. In the high school setting, along with other business ed type of classes, I did teach grades three and up as young as grades three and up on keyboarding as well.

And I’ve had a little bit of experience teaching adult education in corporate headquarters or adult ed continuing programs through a few vo-tech settings.

Joe Howard: [00:05:46] That’s cool. I wanted to talk about that. Cause I was a teacher at one point as well, before I got into WordPress stuff. Also, you talked about teaching keyboard stuff.

I remember my keyboarding class from like, it must have been like third grade or fourth grade and today I’m a fast typer. I’m not like crazy fast, but I’m, I would say very proficient when it comes to typing. I feel like that’s a skill that I learned in like fourth grade. That’s still serves me extremely well today and throughout honestly like all of being a student in college.

So. I don’t know if they still did that game where you speed up your character. That’s what I remember being like, you want to type faster to get your character to go faster or something.

Courtney Robertson: [00:06:20] There are all kinds of typing games online these days, and we can all go type our way through the rest of the internet.

My mom was also a high school business ed teacher, and I had to learn how to type in the summertime before schools taught it before I was led to go out and swim or play or anything during summer breaks, the kids have. Teachers have a wholes unique world of requirements.

Joe Howard: [00:06:45] Totally. Totally. My son’s got an ex teacher, so not a teacher anymore, but I was a high school math teacher for a few years before having ended up doing more WordPress and web work.

Wow. So, yeah, so I taught in public schools and some challenging. School’s challenging situations and the computer classes were never as up to snuff as I would’ve liked them to be. I always thought like this would be a great place to focus more financial benefit, more attention, give them more resources in this class because if you know, even one or two kids learn early on that, Hey, I can do this.

And Hey, like I could even like build a website for peoples. Someone could pay me a thousand bucks. Like for some freelancers, that’s like, I don’t do products that are a thousand bucks for like a high school kid. That’s a lot of money, right. Especially one that was not as well off socioeconomically. So I always thought, man, that’s important.

So, and it sounds like you were doing some HTML CSS stuff when you were doing high school or maybe like front end stuff.

Courtney Robertson: [00:07:38] I don’t know. Yeah. So at that point it would’ve just been Ishmael and CSS. And that would have been 2005, maybe at that point. And I stumbled my way into source work because I needed an LMS and I got Moodle.

And then I was like, I also want to blog. So then I found Joomla two and after I found WordPress and I have loved WordPress, I taught high school students, WordPress in a vo-tech setting for a long-term substitute position just before having my now older son. And that was a wonderful experience. We went through all the user stuff up through development and intro to plugins PHP.

This past summer though. So proud of these students, there was an initiative also through the department of labor in Delaware to get high school students jobs, because it’s actually a little more tricky than when you and I would have been in high school to get a job. Now, the age requirements different, we don’t see things like newspaper delivery person jobs.

It’s a little more complicated than that. So this past summer I had students that were paid interns. Learning how to use WordPress. Now it wouldn’t have been something an adult would consider a good earning, but it was certainly something that a high school kid thought this is fantastic. So they were paid to come and hang out with me in zoom every day for five weeks.

And we were learning WordPress and what they could do with WordPress, some of them have gone off into college and I’ve heard from a few that they are using their WordPress portfolios. One went to study photography and she’s using it. Out in the college experience. So they spoke at WordCamp Philly this past fall.

They were all online, but they spoke at WordCamp Philly around diversity, equity, inclusion and learning WordPress. And so that was really exciting to be again, back with high school students, but now knowing more and being able to point to sites like, Hey, you’ve got the proficiency. By the time they finished up with me, they had the proficiency to apply for WP buffs in tech support.

Joe Howard: [00:09:33] That’s so cool

Courtney Robertson: [00:09:34] love that took them to the site and said, look, those of you that are 18, you were qualified at this point. Let’s go.

Joe Howard: [00:09:40] Absolutely. We’ve had folks working in a support capacity in a developer capacity who we’ve had like early. College students working with us who are taking full class loads.

I may want to put a few hours in and make, you know, a few extra books and no WordPress. And so, yeah, I mean, companies like mine, I’m sure other companies, the WordPress space, a full-time position on top of classes, maybe a lot, but especially if someone’s definitely looking for some part-time work and even full-time work.

I, I think just, yeah, what I want to say is I think WordPress companies, a lot of them are definitely willing to. Take a look at younger, maybe less experienced, but hungry folks who have learned the basics and, uh, are rock and rolling. Absolutely. How does it feel to see their progress from like starting off and like what’s hosting?

Like, what is WordPress? How does open source work like installing WordPress knows to go from there to having portfolio sites and, you know, selling there. Photography services via this website. I feel like it’s a huge ability. It’s a huge skill set to be able to throw away a website together. It sounds so simple, but it’s like, not everyone can do that, but to be able to put a website together and then maybe like drive a little traffic to it, like that’s a huge skill set for people.

So you must’ve been pretty proud when you kind of saw that come to fruition.

Courtney Robertson: [00:10:56] So the group that was with me were not especially eager to jump in over in the JavaScript track. There are a lot of amazing opportunities in Ishmael, CSS and JavaScript and jumping in from that point. When we’re looking at training and WordPress, it gets a little bit weird because we have this whole on-ramp before we can develop for WordPress of learning, how to use this existing software and the nuances and knowing the products, plugins themes services that are out there available.

And so the students that were with me specifically were not wanting to start in code. And yet still wanted to get into web development. And so we went through so many parts of using various plugins and themes and sequencing what to learn in which order and all the way up through they learned using Beaver builder as a page builder, Beaver builder, give us a license for the class and

Joe Howard: [00:11:47] it’s great.

Shout out Beaver builder. Those guys are great. Yeah,

Courtney Robertson: [00:11:51] totally. So if they were a little familiar with CSS, bootstrap, just tiny bit, they really hadn’t spent any time in there, but to then be able to take somebody that has a different learning style that would understand from a visual perspective, how to use bootstrap.

That’s what BeaverBuilder was doing for them. And Beaver builder then gets all of the WordPress websites set up and connected the way that somebody might envision that. So. I think for the right learning style, some people will do better to learn from this gooey Wiziwig approach. And then. Back-end their way into code.

And then other people let’s just go from code and maybe learn how to be the developers of these editors or something like that. So it was just really fun to point out all of the things that were out there, but while this was all happening, that was when the last president indicated that Tik TOK, my kid shut down, which opened up a specific, unique opportunity.

I was the only person with my skin tone and my skin tone for those on podcast is white. And so I was the only person of that skin tone in the room at the time. And we had a conversation about, think about last summer and about the protests that were happening and what happens. For them in their preferred way of getting the news was tick-tock what happens for them if that were to be blocked off.

And what does that mean? If a platform holds all your information at the time of today’s recording, we’ve seen other platforms in the news lately that may also hold users information and not allow them to take their data somewhere else. So we looked at the freedoms of WordPress and the four freedoms standing a lot on your own ability to.

Modify the software itself. Take it wherever you like, but also this idea that your voice, your message, it matters, and you should be able to port that information to a place that is home for you. So if this host isn’t working out, you still could take the software and go somewhere else. And that really matters.

And that suddenly helped these high school students understand if their access to the way that they preferred to consume news were blocked, what would they do? How could they still get their own message out? And what would that look like? So that was, uh, an interesting and lively summer. And I absolutely loved.

Being right where I was.

Joe Howard: [00:14:09] Yeah. Wow. That’s cool. The topic of open source software and the value behind open source software, because the value is exactly what you said. It’s hard to understand initially, like it’s kind of hard to explain owning your own platform. I think people understand that a basic level, but it’s until you’ve kind of been closed off from something or been using close offer and have been able to move somewhere else or be able to like move your, yeah.

Your news. You’re consuming somewhere else. That’s like a big. Moment for most people where they’re like, Oh, this is what they meant by like, well, Wix websites, but they literally don’t allow you to export your sites. You have to probably like copy and paste and grab your images and like manually move them over.

Like, That sucks for people who want to move to a platform or get honestly like trapped in a platform. Right. So I think that’s cool that you’ve had actual educational trainings, not just around teaching WordPress, teaching emails, teaching CSS. That’s, that’s great. Right? Don’t get me wrong. But the actual bigger concept of like what all those things together in an open source environment can actually do for you.

It can set you free. You can own your information, you can own your content. You can, which kind of in turn allows you to. Have ownership over, I don’t know your life over how you live your life. So, yeah, it’s definitely an interesting subject to be like teaching young people. It

Courtney Robertson: [00:15:29] was a little heavy on some days at looking over this information and what does that mean?

And look like for them, but in the process of it all, they walked away having the skills to. Be a website, administrators at the whole thing up, back up their stuff, take it somewhere else. If they’d needed to take it somewhere else, they were able to do a lot of administrative assembled the theme, the plugin, all of these tools and make use of it.

And

Joe Howard: [00:15:53] that’s the base of WordPress that you really needed that yes, to be an advanced developer. That’s a great skillset to have. You can maybe do some pretty high paying jobs. You can do some good, cool custom workbook. You don’t need all that to be a basic WordPress developer. Like I’m like non-developer WordPress developer, right?

Like I can set up a WordPress site like easy-peasy, but I’m not like an HTML or CSS. Master by any means by any stretch of the imagination. So yeah, I think the basics of things is, is important to folks too, so, yeah. Wow. That’s cool. Um, always good to hear success stories, especially for young people, because I think there’s a big push in WordPress to, you know, with kids camps and making sure we.

Continue to cultivate the next generation of WordPress, you know, and to what’s the next step you have to get, let’s get them involved in the community. Let’s get them. Yes. Speaking of more word camps, uh, you know, it sounds like they’re like young web admins for websites. Hey, like let’s do some monthly recurring revenue.

Let’s get them into like a care plan model like that. So it’s a great way to build a business. I think I can safely say so there’s just a lot more to work on as well. So cool. I wanted to touch on now. The. Education work that you’re doing currently because all that stuff sounds really cool. I bet people are listening.

Our audience varies across different spaces are probably some people who are like, I would like to learn some WordPress. Does any of the stuff you’re doing online? I just had a sales call today, like literally two hours ago with someone who is wanting to sign up. With it for WP buffs subscription. And she was like, I also love to learn, like, could you recommend some educational resources for me?

And so here I am two hours later, like maybe she’s listening. And she actually actually also mentioned, funny enough, I’m talking about this. She mentioned she had like listened to one of our podcasts episodes before she talked to me. So this is perfect for people like her who are looking for places to maybe go learn some more press.

I don’t know if any of the stuff that you’re doing online, but. I’d love to hear more about the active education work you’re doing.

Courtney Robertson: [00:17:43] It’s really good. It’s hard to explain to educational institutions how to approach we’re pressed because there’s this, like I’m going to be a user admin level type of thing, or maybe I’m going to build themes to build the themes.

You need to know how to be a user. You also need to know all these languages. So that gets a little muddy. Trying to tell an educational institution here is how proficient people should be by certain points. Because in the program that I’m in, we are specifically looking to retrain people, to be employees in an environment of a dev shop.

And so there’s a specific need in that case. What we really need is a big map that tells us what to learn and maybe in what order, because when we are new to learning something, we don’t know what we don’t know. You’re like, ah, I want to get started with WordPress. What do I do? How do I start? I still

Joe Howard: [00:18:32] don’t know what I don’t know.

Courtney Robertson: [00:18:34] Right. That’s why I hang out with my dev friends and I’m like telling me what I should be learning. Like if I’m going to teach this stuff, tell me how much I should learn and how fast I need to learn it. And what’s new. So. I hang out with cool people like that, that I think often for the role that they are in my life, but I also am really passionate about what’s going on, on learned that were pressed that work.

I am the co rep of the training team, along with how a Shia, how it is based out of the UK. And she and I together help. Steer the part of the team that makes the lesson plans. So if you visit learn.wordpress.org, there are two things happening there. At this time. We have workshops. Those workshops are videos that are on demand.

You learn. When you want to learn, they have an extension for using meetup as a platform to attend a live session. Discussion area to talk with somebody through whatever you just watched. And then we also have lesson plans and those lesson plans can be used by any educational institution. The lesson plans are different from docs in that we’re not trying to document all the things about WordPress.

We’re trying to create an order. And a learning sequence to this and provide something that somebody could take to a meetup. Doesn’t have to be a teacher, could be someone taking it to a meet up, or it could be a teacher in a classroom and organizing here’s everything that you might want to know as the person instructing behind the scenes.

What type of resources do I need? What are my prerequisites, all of those pieces together. So we’ve got. I think about 55 lesson plans that are published on learn. The team has been around together since 2013. I joined in 2014 and had to take some years out when I had young children back last summer, obviously, as I was hopping back into teaching WordPress, yes.

That changed things. I needed to hire some childcare and get back into teacher mindset. So give me lesson plans, all of them we’re working right now on kind of plotting out more of a course sequence to things unlearn. So that just instead of here are videos or lesson plans, that there is perhaps a more orderly approach to it.

The way that this comes together is that there are a few meetings. Where people that would like to contribute to this, get together on a regular basis. Those that would like to participate in the video workshops area, meet on the first and third, Thursday of the month. Those that would like to contribute to lesson plans.

We get together in Slack. These are chat messages in Slack. We get together every Tuesday and we’re running through our priority lists of what content needs to come next. What additional areas are on our radar? The team is a bit regrouping because during the middle of a pandemic and not all the contributors that used to be there are there.

And so things have sort of shifted around and learn launched. As we saw soft launch was last summer. And then Matt really announced it during state of the word this past year. So look for more resources to be coming there. We’re also eager to have those that are employers in the industry that are saying.

Here are the skills that I need from people. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from some of the plugin product companies indicating they’ve got people applying that have HTML, CSS, JavaScript, but they don’t have any WordPress or any PHP skills yet we’re pressed as 40% of the internet. I’ve only found one other bootcamp, technically that is teaching WordPress as development.

And if somebody is interested in getting into a tier two tech support where they need to know some code or junior dev positions, There’s not really a clear map of how to get there. And so we’re wide open for some of that type of feedback to help shape what the information is. That’s there. How to go from, I just want to install WordPress all the way through.

I want to make a headless site and do all kinds of fancy things. Everything in between those ends of the spectrum, we need to make sure that we’re accounting for those steps along the way. And then we’ve got some good resources available for folks because I struggled in the way that I was taught coding.

I didn’t have a computer lab. I didn’t have a, literally it was pencil and paper in a room at night with a dim projector. So just, there was a lot of circumstances to how I learned to code and how I got into WordPress that I don’t want anybody to ever have to go through it.

Joe Howard: [00:22:48] That’s a good reason to want to pay it for her.

I can’t think of a better reason just to provide a better experience for others. And maybe we got so more power to you. This project sounds pretty big. I mean, I’m on learn.wordpress.org right now. And I was just kind of like clicking through a lesson plan and clicking through workshops like these lesson plans or like.

Super in depth. I’m like, I am here. I click on how to create like a reusable WordPress block description, objectives, prerequisite skills, readiness questions, materials need. I mean, this is like really like thorough, thorough content that you’re putting together. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe you are an automatic employee.

Is that right? I’m also assuming that. Most of this work, maybe I could say all of this work is volunteer based. Is that also correct? There

Courtney Robertson: [00:23:35] have been a few people over the years that I have been involved with the project. We’ve had a few lesson plans that have been written by automated actions when we launched learn.

We had an issue where a lot of our screenshots needed to be updated or replaced. And so we had some folks come in through automatic and work on that. So I am welcoming their contributions, but most of those that have contributed a lot of the work in writing the materials have not been automatic. More folks have contributed accounted.

Over 160 contributors when learn launched, I’d dug back into the archives of GitHub and make.wordpress.org/training is where the team meets make.wordpress.org/training.

Joe Howard: [00:24:18] And people can go there if they’re hearing this and they’re like, I want to contribute, but I just don’t really know how they can go say that you are a one more time.

So people who are like, I missed it again, rewind so they can just type it in

Courtney Robertson: [00:24:27] make.wordpress.org/training. And we do have people that contribute all around the globe. We’ve had a couple of times where we had enough need for contributors, where we were able to run meetings based upon different time zones.

I would like to see us again there again soon. Yeah. Very welcoming to have lots of, and you don’t have to be a teacher to contribute, not required. There’s a lot of work to be done. Just adding screenshots, adding featured images, helping us check off some of the things. When we imported our material from GitHub, I noticed that some of the quiz questions.

Put the answer on the line with the next question. And if you know how to just look through everything we’ve got, and if you spot that error, go fix it. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. And in doing so, you’re helping those that are the end receivers of this material. I love

Joe Howard: [00:25:16] that it feels like that’s really your driving goal.

Maybe your North star is really to help that end user to be able to learn WordPress. Faster more effectively, maybe both, you know, end up with the skills necessary to get a job, whether it’s a junior position or a level, two support technician, et cetera. But I am also, I’m always interested in talking with people who contribute at such a high level and having all their contribution work be volunteer.

all the work you’re doing is fantastic. But it does take a lot of time and energy to probably do all this work, to organize all this work. I would like to hear more about like, kind of your motivations and what keeps you going and this, because this is probably not financial benefit. Maybe there’s some, maybe people know you for being a contributor and thus you’re known well in the community.

So maybe people want to work with you in the community. Like you mentioned. I think he worked for events, counter pro, maybe one of the reasons they wanted us to work for them was because, Hey, she does great community work. So that may have had some. I guess indirect financial benefit, but I want to know, like every day when you’re working and contributing, you know, for half an hour or for hours on ends, you know, writing this content, what’s the motivating factor.

It keeps you

Courtney Robertson: [00:26:22] to put out flat out, disclaimer, as a teacher. Teaching WordPress in a development environment, I need the lesson plans and I need the stuff to be on an official WordPress site that says here’s how much to achieve in order to get people hired. Here’s how much they need to know. So there’s this self-serving need, I’ve got where I have no columns and Tang it.

I run to get the students. I’m working with a job. I want them to get hired. And I want through the entire scope of those that. Provide the funding to our program and everything. We need to have some criteria of what to reach for, to get people ready to go to work. The flip side of it is also, I’m equally passionate about helping people.

No matter what their current skill level or their accessibility happens to be an accessibility, both in thinking about any kind of visual impairments or physical impairments, whatever. Also though, thinking about those that have connectivity issues, where I am just West of Gettysburg, should I go another 30 minutes West of here?

You’re not going to find a whole lot of broadband. If I go to visit my mother-in-law in Wyoming, you would find satellite internet. If I traveled to other parts of the globe, not even just North America, but even other parts of the globe, I would find even less connectivity. I’ve heard from some people that have told me that they will download the videos and take them home.

And watch them, they’ll go to a cyber cafe, get the videos, take them home with the lesson plans. They’re all, every source somebody could choose to print to PDF as to save it. And so that’s not tied then to connectivity issues. So there’s this part of me that is equally driven in my contribution efforts.

Well, if I need to write the lesson plan anyway for reporting, then let’s put it out on learn and get people off and running that way. But then there’s. The flip side where it genuinely, I feel that there’s this whole piece around, if you really don’t know what you don’t know. And then you’re also stifled by the resources available to start learning any of it, that equity piece on how do we make that material available.

So it’s not behind a paywall so that it is not tied to their bandwidth connection so that it’s not tied to what language they natively speak. How can we start making inroads and that direction, so that globally. We’re improving the quality of life.

Joe Howard: [00:28:44] Yeah. That all sounds like it makes complete sense. I think not trying to reinvent the wheel or not, or the ability to knock out two birds with one stone is a better analogy for that.

I think. Cause yeah, you need those lessons planned and you can also put them out where the mode they’re going to have the biggest reach for the most people. Yep.

Courtney Robertson: [00:29:01] I will say I did not write most of the lesson plans. I’ve written a few of them. I did not write all of the lesson plans that are there. I just helped.

Organize those of us that are writing them

Joe Howard: [00:29:10] well, management and organization of that stuff is huge. I’ve been to contributor days before, and man, are they hectic, but people who are leading those teams are trying their hardest at it. In a lot of cases, succeeding in what it feels like is kind of, you know, what do they call it?

Wrangling cats. It’s just some expression. I’m probably getting it wrong, but bring some order to the chaos or slightly less chaos from the chaos. And it’s every. Contributed to, I’ve been to, I’ve been in like three or four contributed days for word camps. And it seems like at the end of each day, it’s like, seems pretty hectic.

But then like also got a lot of stuff done that day. Oh great. And it’s all usually it’s because of the people who are just like, at the beginning of the day, we’re like, all right team, this is what you’re doing you to do that you three do that. And then they’re like, okay, we’ll do it. And then, okay. It gets done.

So yeah, that position super important. Yeah.

Courtney Robertson: [00:29:55] Contributed the days are fun. There’s a lot of opportunity in those days. I don’t know about all of the teams, but I think a lot of times we look for what are some small lift things that if somebody only wants to ever contribute on a contributor day, that can get done during that time.

And there are little small bits along the way that often don’t require a whole lot of skill to be able to do that. And then there’s also the piece around onboarding people that would like to keep hanging out with us. And so in training that could look like getting everybody accounts and access to the lesson plans, seeing the roadmap of what we’ve got, where we’re going, but it could also look like having conversations.

You know, one of the things that I am used to as a teacher in a vo-tech setting, a career technical school is having a curriculum advisory board that tells me what they’re hiring for, what their job needs are and being able to identify some of those. So those are pieces too, where it’s like, what are we seeing in the industry?

What are the needs? And do we have. Resourcing for that. And what will it take to get there? Okay.

Joe Howard: [00:30:50] Yeah, I was actually just thinking about that in terms of like what I wanted to talk next about here, which was, you know, your goal is to get folks who are taking these educational resources and applying them themselves.

Self-learning learning through classes, learning through workshops, learning through. Everything you’re offering, but eventually to get jobs, right. That’s the big goal of this project. So I’m thinking like we should talk. So that WP buffs can maybe like talk to you at the end of every cycle to say like, Hey, do you have any students who, you know, can handle X level of PHP or Y level of HTML, or like this level of a junior support load.

Maybe we should talk to them and put them through an interview process. And cause honestly for us, hiring is like, It’s hard. It’s hard. Hiring is hard to finding the right people, finding the right fits, who people who have the exact right skill sets. But I think honestly, like there are a lot of WordPress companies that.

Including WP buffs. It probably should be like talking to people like you more Courtney. And honestly like being like having regular conversations and almost maybe like a formal, like WP boss hires someone from every graduating class or something like that, you know, so that it gives us a better pipeline to hire from, or a place where you can go to know, we can find, you know, the folks we need to hire and it gives you the ability to kind of like push your students into it.

Jobs and that kind of everybody wins there. So I don’t know. What do you think about that?

Courtney Robertson: [00:32:09] That I’m certainly wide open as far as code differently goes for that portion of things. I think also over in learn and general community, you know, I love the work that we’re doing. We can’t serve the entire world.

We’re only allowed to serve those in Delaware that are impacted by COVID right now. So like my target audience, as far as students right now is very specific. As far as a global audience of folks, knowing the details of this idea of who’s hiring also, what do they need when they’re hiring, getting the feedback?

I see a lot of skillsets that are out in the rest of the web dev world, but in terms of. Tacking WordPress into a web dev area were a little tricky. And the pipeline idea, I absolutely am super supportive of, again, just hearing from folks that are struggling out in product plugin, agency services, land saying I get all these applicants.

They don’t know anything about WordPress. There’s the entry point. And then there’s also the ongoing training of those people and growing those people, you know, my younger students, not the high school, but a couple of them are just a few years out of high school. And so they can probably handle jumping in on tech support, the pay scale for somebody that is mid fifties at mid-management and retraining.

Could look different. And so what do we do in those unique situations? This is somebody that would have strong project management skills. And so their life and skillset would be vastly different than my just out of high school students too. And figuring out how do we steer folks like that? Or how do we work with people in developing nations that have that mentorship, part of the ongoing, you got the job now, what do we do?

And how do we. Continue developing and training our people.

Joe Howard: [00:33:53] Yeah. Talking about a lot of our hiring challenges. It’s just like, we’ve talked with Nick and I talk about this all the time. It’s like, man, it’s just like, there are a hundred challenges. There’s a hundred nuances to hiring. That’s like, well, we have this job descriptions like, well, this person could be a good fit, but what about these three factors?

But that person’s a different fit, but also good. But like these different challenges, it’s like, Oh, this book, it always feels like there’s nuance. I think that’s probably less than there is. We live in a world of nuance, but yeah, I think there’s something there. You know, I think there’s, to me, it sounds like something that maybe to like try out and figure you stumble our way successfully to eventually find something that kind of works.

That’s I dunno. That’s usually my history of success has been, I didn’t just do something. Well, I kind of like stumbled my way into like trying it and experimenting with it and eventually it turned out. Okay. And then eventually it turned out. Pretty good. So yeah, I think there’s

Courtney Robertson: [00:34:43] something there. I’ve thought through a little bit too about some subcontracting work again during the times when, when I had young children and we were not doing childcare for the young children, I subcontracted with another friend and had some skills on.

CSS and a few ways of getting at some code that maybe were not her strength, knowing the MRR market a little bit, a lot of folks can go at having a very successful business and not needing to know code, but they might then find themselves in a spot of either. Now I want to learn a little bit more and, or get subcontractors.

And again, that piece around how do we continue? Where can you go? What should you learn? In what sequence what’s going to serve you the best. How do you streamline that process? So you’re not just like, there’s an order to what you’re doing and that you get to that defined outcome that you’ve got in mind.

Joe Howard: [00:35:34] Yeah. And this is definitely not the first time I’ve heard that exact challenge before I have a good friend, Beth, who’s a kind of a DC WordPress person with me. Beth Soderberg. People may know her from like around WordPress.

Courtney Robertson: [00:35:44] I worked with Beth on the training team. She was a co rep with me years ago.

Loved

Joe Howard: [00:35:48] Beth. She is awesome. Uh, yeah, shout out Beth. But I remember she gave a talk. I think it was just at a word press DC meetup, but I believe she’s given it at word camps before, too, where she said this pretty much this executive she’s a self-taught developer and she. It actually like a pretty advanced developer, especially for someone who’s like, just totally self-taught.

But she talks about like, I didn’t really know what to learn first. Like, do I learn HTML and CSS first? Like what about JavaScript? Like, does that have to come afterwards? Like, and there’s just so many intricacies and nuances and unheard talk was kind of, it was trying to frame that exact challenge, which is like, here’s my advice on like what I think you should probably learn first and second to like, get to this level.

Just remember, this was like my experience. So like maybe it doesn’t apply to everybody, but having like a really proven pipeline to tell people what they should learn at what steps and what kind of mastery they need to achieve. And then what level that dictates that they are, which eventually would dictate, like what kind of job you can get or what kind of job you should be pursuing.

I think like just having a more kind of visible timeline for people where they can just follow along. I think we’ll just. Helping that scaffolding of improving that conversion rate of people who start to people who eventually like finished that track and get the job. Right. If it’s like 20% right now, like how do we make it 30%?

How do we make it 50%? And that’s

Courtney Robertson: [00:37:07] that’s challenge. I think to those that are in not working within an agency, but building either their own site, they might have a couple of people they work with as they continue to advance their own. Programming skillset and all of the build tools that go with that they can take on bigger level projects that could take on some things that they would either have the skill sets themselves to do it, or by learning the code.

Like they would know how to identify the person that they should subcontract to do the rest of the work, getting clarity around if I’m going to customize the site this way. What do I need to know to be able to do that? If my regular page builder, for instance, doesn’t get me that far, then what, how do I hire the right person to get the rest of that job done?

Or can I learn the skills myself to do the rest of that customization work? And that’s a whole piece too, in there. Yeah. Totally. Her press were like, there’s so many ways to get in and so many ways to keep growing and it’s massive. Yes. At the same time it is. I love we’re pressed again for the freedoms that it stands for.

And I love WordPress for the community of people, because the reason that we are. A lot of us and a lot of websites using WordPress is because of how welcoming I find the community to be. And how I personally have experienced that. I work with Beth and Courtney. Courtney O’Callahan was one of the training team reps, Courtney and Tracy Laveck, who is the co-owner at yikes.

Joe Howard: [00:38:32] Oh, I know all these people. This is so fun. This is so fun. I miss it. I miss everyone.

Courtney Robertson: [00:38:37] So Courtney and Tracy were the original training team reps, and then Beth and I were next in line. And then I wandered away for awhile. During that time, Julie, Jesse, and Teton have all kind of hung out in that role too.

But training team or we’re pressed in general, the idea of welcoming people into our community. Helping people come in from so many varying points with so many different goals. I love that. We’re all about all of it, but you could also hopefully appreciate why it’s complicated and map that all out.

Joe Howard: [00:39:07] Yeah.

I struggle around education sometimes because for me, it’s like education only got me so far. It’s kind of like, I’m so glad to learn. All this cool stuff, but like, how do you be an entrepreneur? Like how do you be a freelancer? How do you be successful? Sure. There’s a lot of articles you could read or videos you could watch.

Of course you could take. But like, from my experience, the most I learned was like, okay, like literally 10% into this learning thing. Like I’m off the reservation. Like I’m kind of making it up now. Okay. Did it work? Did it not work? Like measure, figure it out. So I think there’s probably like a good combination of like education and then like learning from self experience, just experimenting.

But what you said, I think is probably the most important part. Like, do you have a safe space to do all that stuff? To learn, to teach yourself, to make mistakes, to ask other people, Hey, I. Like screw this up. What would you have done to like kind of bare your soul a little bit and to be okay with not being perfect and to not doing everything right.

And I think that is exactly you’re talking about, about the WordPress community. Cause that’s what it feels like. I always feel like in the, my little mastermind group or just like, if you’re part of the WordPress community, like I can be real with you, you know, I pretty much like. Hey, I, I screwed this up.

Like I’d like to pick your brain. I actually just did that. I invited someone else to be on the podcast. So I was like, were like the CEO of like a bigger company than mine. I have been having these challenges. I want to talk to you on the podcast. Because I’m selfishly wanting to like, learn from you. And he just like put that podcast episode.

So awesome. I do feel like the WordPress community is really good for that for me. Like, I’ll be fine. Right? If it’s more, most important is the beginners, the people who are getting into WordPress, the people who are at this point, like relying on learning WordPress to like get a job. And like that’s a really vital thing, especially in the next like three months, six months.

Like if we can do that better, I think that’s going to help way more people and improve the lives more people. So. Yeah, I’m down with that. Cool. Let’s start to wrap up. I want to ask like one last question, which is kind of around the core of education, because we’ve talked about like the things you do around education, but WP buffs does some educational work as well.

And like, we, you know, we do do tutorials and we write a lot of good content to help people. And like the primary goal of that is to help as many people with WordPress as possible. But there’s also the secondary goal of like, it is content marketing. And we do want to like, at some point, like maybe say like, Hey, we.

Do this work, would you like to like pay us money to do that thing, but even though there’s some for-profit within that educational space that we do at the core, I still want us to be the best educational company that we can. And then if the result happens to be people paying us, that’s great. But I wanted to kind of pick your brain a little bit in terms of the education you’ve done specifically, what have you found to be like really effective in, I don’t know, this is kind of a broad question or a big question, but I don’t know if you’ve had any like, moments of like, wow.

That really worked or things that you kind of make almost as like a blanket recommendation for like, if you’re getting into education, whether it’s like non-profit work or whether it’s for-profit work like. What is going to give you the most impact what’s going to have you as effective as you, as humanly possible within that, you know, delivery of that education.

Yeah.

Courtney Robertson: [00:42:13] You are a former teacher and you’re familiar with learning styles. You’re also familiar with teaching a whole classroom full of. Students. And so the best way that I have learned things is partially by breaking them and partially by having other people break them and ask me questions of how to fix it.

And so when I am teaching. In my class, you know, today I was having a good conversation on like CSS grid, flex float. When do I use which thing and how do I know I’m doing the best method, blah, blah, blah. It was a great question. She was spot on with her question, but it causes me to think and go back through the resources.

And so I’ve spent the last, you know, jumping back into teaching WordPress. I had some catching up to do that was. Areas that were not specific to what I needed to do while I was with the events calendar. And again, I learned so much about industry and agency life and what their needs are. In that experience, but I wouldn’t have considered myself a developer ever in that role.

And so I needed to Polish up on some of what’s coming, developing blocks and all of that. And what I have found if I’m doing it really fast, what helps me is watching lots of videos and also reading helpful tutorials and articles, getting to the point where I prefer sometimes to redox, I will. Look at the same topic in multiple learning formats and also for multiple instructors.

So if I am watching videos, I will watch the same. Thing delivered in several ways. And then also let my students know that I’m human too. And sometimes it might take me a few minutes to get the answer. If it’s about how to navigate to some part of the basic WordPress install, I’ve got that down really well really well by now.

But if it’s like this thing broke and I don’t know how to fix it, and it’s in the code, it takes me a while to catch up with what all code they’ve written to get to this one point. If I’m looking back through things, navigating back to where the source of the problem might be. If I see that here’s the error, but where did that come from?

And what did we forget at some point, or what’s wrong with our method? It takes a little bit to get to that point. Giving people, the idea that it’s safe and okay to make mistakes. And then also discussing and talking about that process of what we learned, what surprised us, what were the mistakes that we made?

What do we gain from that experience? I’ve made a bit of a scene telling people that some of my biggest mistakes, I had a client’s website, a well-known best-selling author. That his WordPress website was powered by Kubrick that somebody just hand coded all the smell inside of. And I went to hit update back when Kubrick was still Coker brick, and they had an update apparently available.

And so everything broke. And this was back before we had it. Staging and the backups were not readily accessible. And I had to get on the phone with their very inexpensive host. That was a challenge. I’ll just say getting all of that recovery. So I let people know here’s some of my most glorious mistakes and break down like, okay, we’re going to set up a safe space and it’s okay to make the mistakes.

And we’re going to talk about that process together. And we learned through that engagement. That’s where a lot will come in and that learning doesn’t have to be limited to the extroverts that want to talk.

Joe Howard: [00:45:28] I couldn’t agree more when I hear stories about people who are for the first time have like, made a big mistake like that, or like really broken, like a kind of important site they were working on.

I feel like they’re thinking like what a doofus I am like, I can’t believe I did this. And all I can think is like, welcome to the club. Like you made it now you’ve done it. So like, everyone goes through that, you know? So no worries. I couldn’t have said it better myself. So let’s, uh, finish on that. Note and last but not least, I do want to have you tell folks where they can find the stuff you’re doing online, you online, social media, all that.

Courtney Robertson: [00:45:59] Yeah. That’s awesome. So the learn website learned that were pressed that org code differently is coded differently.com. My website is still under my maiden name. The story there. And my social media accounts are under my maiden name. I go by Courtney Robertson, but online, you can find me as Courtney angle, E N G L e.com.

My Twitter is the same or LinkedIn, wherever you would like to connect. I’m happy to do so. The person that owns Courtney robertson.com is not me. And that domain now costs thousands of dollars. So it’s not in my price range at this time.

Joe Howard: [00:46:30] Targeted being totally trolled. Oh, you want this domain? Oh yeah.

Courtney Robertson: [00:46:33] She was on the bachelor.

That’s not my lifestyle.

Joe Howard: [00:46:37] Yeah, that’s my wife’s lifestyle, but it’s not mine. So I’m with you on that last but not, I said last two minutes ago, but super last but not least. I always ask our guests to ask our listeners for a little Apple podcast review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking listeners for a little review, I’d appreciate it.

Courtney Robertson: [00:46:52] Hey, if you liked this podcast, please leave a review on Apple’s podcast platform or wherever you happen to be listening.

Joe Howard: [00:46:58] Yeah. Stitcher, whatever, whatever platform you’re on a little review helps us. You can go to WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes takes you right to Apple podcasts, and you can leave a review there.

You can leave a comment that helps us to know. Hey, Courtney, someone learned something from this episode. So that’ll help us to do more episodes. Exactly like this one or similar topics to this episode, we’re all reviews are very much appreciated. If you’re a new listener to the show, we’ve got a hundred and like 40 or so episodes of the show.

So if you have questions about a certain topic, you can. Do a search on WP mrr.com/podcasts. There’s a ton hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of content, how we have on the podcast. So feel free to search to your delight and go ahead and binge some older episodes of the podcast. Or you can email us yo@wpmrr.com.

You’d like to do Q and a episodes around here every once in a while, and happy to get any direct questions answered there as well. So feel free to shoot us an email too. All right. That is it. For this week. We’ll be in your podcast players again. Tuesday, Courtney. Thanks again for being on. Thank

Courtney Robertson: [00:48:06] you so much for having me.

It’s great to be here.

Joe Howard: [00:48:08] Yeah. All right. See you everyone. Bye .

Podcast

E141 – Prioritizing Mental Health and Growing a Circle Community with 2 Kids at Home (Joe Casabona, How I Built It)

In today’s episode, Joe talks to Joe Casabona, a creator of online courses at Creator Courses and for LinkedIn Learning, and hosts a podcast called How I Built It. They share similar sentiments on parenting toddlers, mental health check while juggling work and parenting, and expanding a Circle community among other WordPress related responsibilities.  

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:16 Welcome back to the pod, Joe!
  • 02:37 On vaccination roll-out
  • 06:20 Staying at home with 2 kids
  • 11:18 Juggling between family life and work schedule
  • 15:13 The challenges of parenthood
  • 19:10 Adjusting to and managing time allocation
  • 23:12 “Hire help before you need it.” – Joe Casabona
  • 26:40 External feedback can sometimes help solve roadblocks
  • 30:23 Growing the podcast and cultivating a Circle community
  • 35:11 Live streaming on Circle?
  • 39:58 Using a community to drive traffic and product sales
  • 45:28 Giving people a reason to stay in your community  
  • 51:15 Where to find Joe online!

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Oh, the folks Joe Howard here this week, I got to sit down with the one and only Joe Casabona. What can you say about Joe? He is, he’s just the best, Joe and I got to chat about a couple of big topics this week. I really, honestly, I invited him to come back on the podcast because he has just launched a community on circle for how I built it.

And I wanted to pick his brain about that, but we actually got super into the WP dad life. I’m talked about family or kids or what it’s like to split the responsibility of work and family time. Some strategies he’s come up with to set better expectations for himself when he’s, you know, has days, uh, at a time where he’s really spending all of his time with his kids.

And yeah, it was a really cool conversation. So if you want to hear that WP dad piece of the conversation, keep listening to the beginning of this episode of the first 25 or 30 minutes. Really. Right. But if you’re really more into the story and a bit more detail about Joe’s circle community, uh, how he’s building it, how he’s trying to get more engagement, how he’s trying to drive more folks there, what his religious trying to do with the community.

What’s the purpose of it? That kind of stuff feel free to fast forward to probably about 30, 30, one 32 minutes into this episode without further ado. Please welcome, Joe. Casabona enjoy today’s episode

P 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. Right. We are live on the pod, Joe. To Joe’s in the podcast with once again will tell me, uh, what’s going on,

Joe Casabona: [00:02:20] man.

Oh, not too much. Keep him busy live in that pandemic life still.

Joe Howard: [00:02:26] I know it feels like we’re getting towards the end, but it’s like still pandemic life. So you said before we got started here, like you got your first shot, so you’re Hey, you’re moving.

Joe Casabona: [00:02:35] Yeah. Halfway there really excited. Apparently Pennsylvania has done a really good job of distributing the vaccine actually the day.

After I got my first shot, my hospital emailed me and they were like, Hey, we have a vaccine for you. And I’m like, Oh wow, you’re a day late. But thank you. Give it to somebody else who needs it.

Joe Howard: [00:02:53] I’ve heard that. Similar story from other people who have like two or three options for shots. Like everyone seems to be like getting emails, like, come get a shot here, come get a shot there.

So, but I’m glad you were able to get it. Do you have to, so you got, you didn’t get the Johnson and Johnson. You got one of the two.

Joe Casabona: [00:03:09] Yeah, I got Pfizer, which I was happy about. I heard that Madonna hits a little harder than, uh, than Pfizer does. And. So, yeah, I got that one from like a Rite aid, uh, shout out to my wife’s coworker who like has the Rite aid website down to a science.

She was able to book me. And my father-in-law

Joe Howard: [00:03:29] nice. Someone told me who got Medina that day, like recommended, like to take the day off work the day after you get the maternity a second shot, because it’s like totally rocked them.

Joe Casabona: [00:03:39] That that’s what I’ve been hearing too. And I don’t know too many people who’ve gotten Madonna, but I haven’t heard any.

I haven’t heard anything horrible, but. So it was probably just like certain precautions. My parents got Johnson and Johnson and they both felt fine.

Joe Howard: [00:03:54] Yeah. I’m still searching around for my options. So that’s kind of like every day, I’m kind of like, Ooh, like, okay, a little more research. What’s going on. I’m at my parents’ place in Bethesda, Maryland right now.

Thus anybody watching on YouTube? It’s like, where are you? What is this weird basement like room you’re in. That’s where I am. Uh, so. Yeah, I’m trying to figure out Maryland options for the next five weeks or so. And seeing if there’s something, but it’s like every day it’s like something new may come up.

So I’m hopeful that, uh, I’ll be able to either get one of those to one, maybe three weeks apart, which is one of the vaccines. And then obviously the J and J is just one shot. So hopefully something will come.

Joe Casabona: [00:04:36] Yeah, absolutely. And I I’ve been reading stuff that like, even the first shot for both, uh, Madonna and Pfizer are like pretty effective.

And I don’t know how much that is like fake news. So I’m not going to like throw caution to the wind or anything. Yeah. I’m not a doctor. I’m a little bit more relaxed, you know, like the delivery guy comes to my house and his mask is like off and I’m like, man, can you just like adjust your mask? Like please.

And I’ll be a little bit more relaxed about that. I think because now both adults in the house are vaccinated.

Joe Howard: [00:05:08] My parents are, um, we’re staying as parents or my parents right now. And they’re both vaccinated with both shots and that. And that’s what my mom said too. She said like, nothing in my life has really changed day to day because, you know, we still wanna be respectful of people who haven’t gotten the shot and stuff, but it takes a lot of stress off, I think for her.

And that’s just like on the day to day, she can be a little, not less cautious, but less stress that she could get. COVID and that’s like a, that’s a big stressor, I think, off of, off of their shoulders because they are older. So.

Joe Casabona: [00:05:44] Yeah, absolutely. And like, I, you know, I’ve got asthma, I’m overweight or whatever.

And so like, I, you know, I don’t know my doctor at the beginning of this was like, he’d probably be fine if you got it. But like, who knows like perfectly healthy 40 year olds. I’m not that I’m 40, but I have like died from it or whatever. And I’m just, I’m just real excited now that like my wife and I will be able to go on like a proper date.

Because in-laws are vaccinated. They’ll be able to watch the kids and we’ll go out and I won’t be like, is that person breathing next to me? Like, it’s just really, really excited. Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:06:18] totally. And how’s, uh, how’s home life. You have. Now two kids at home. So kids too. So probably man, I was lucky to be able to book an hour with you right now from get you on the, on the five.

So yeah, how’s how’s WP dad.

Joe Casabona: [00:06:34] I mean, it’s really good. It’s stressful. Obviously. I don’t know if you’ve heard of better help. But, um, it’s like

Joe Howard: [00:06:41] your offer that we offer accounts to folks in our team who, Oh, that’s amazing. You use that option. Yeah. Yeah.

Joe Casabona: [00:06:47] If your team is listening, I’ve been doing it for a few months.

It’s been great. You know, it’s like, I’ve always been like one of those, like. I’m a macho man. Uh, like I don’t need counseling or whatever. I know I’m totally legit. I’m good. Good. Just all men through it or whatever. But like, now that I have kids and like my mood affects my kids, I’m like, maybe I should at least like talk to somebody about, maybe I can handle stress better.

Right. And so like when my wife works, it’s just me and the kids for 14 hours. And that’s a lot. And my therapist was like, yeah, yeah. She’s like, no one is meant to spend this much time alone with their kids. And I’m like, that’s like a weird thing to say, but also like, yeah, that’s true. But also like my in-laws, my, my mother is gone, my mother-in-law is going through cancer treatment and my father-in-law works.

And so it, you know, they say it takes a village to raise kids and it’s, it’s just me on an Island with my kids while my wife’s at work. So. That’s been really helpful, but it’s been, it’s been fun. I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m getting bonus time with my daughter right now. Right. Cause she’d be at school and I get to spend like full days with her and watching how different my son is.

So my daughter is four. My son is, uh, eight months and seeing how different he is from my daughter, when she was that age, he like eats everything. Like he has no sense of self-preservation. Whereas, like if my daughter crawled towards the stairs, I’d be like stop and she would stop. And he’s like, nah, I want to see what it feels like to go down these stairs.

So it’s just been fun to like seeing their differences and how they each develop. It’s great.

Joe Howard: [00:08:28] Yeah. I’ve I feel like I have a lot of friends at this point to have two kids. They say things like, well, the first kid was actually like pretty easy, but the second kid is so different and it’s so interesting.

And some of them are like, I’m glad I had the first kid first, because if I had the second, like, kind of like harder to raise kid, like, I dunno if I’d have two kids right now. So it’s just kind of like, it’s funny how different they are. I’m starting to think about that with, you know, Mose Marson is 15 months now or so.

And man, it’s like, That’s amazing and Sam grow up and I’m like, if I have like a second character point, be similar to him, he’s pretty easy. For the most part, like. Really good demeanors. That’s a really good demeanor, like pretty easy, mostly it’s like, if I have a second one, they’ll be pretty similar.

Right. But there’s like, just cause they have similar DNA. Like it’s like no by no means means they’ll be similar. It could be totally different. Sounds like that was somewhat the case with you. Like pretty different, huh?

Joe Casabona: [00:09:23] Yeah. It’s so, and like he’s still a good kid. Like this is totally normal for an eight month old, right.

To like. Like usually like, uh, and again, this is like, this better help has helped with this. Cause I, I have a therapist who specializes in like child development and toddler play and stuff like that. And so she’s like, yeah, this is she’s like your daughter. Isn’t a, not an anomaly and like more ways than one.

Cause like she also has a really, like, she asked me like, who’s the arbiter of iPad time. Uh, cause she’s like so smart and I love it. Um, but uh, she’s like the expert I know. Right. I don’t know, like what’s normal. So like having a third party to be like, yes, that’s not normal. You’re like, that’s totally normal.

I’m like, great. But like all of this stuff is totally normal. It’s just like the, the fallacy that we had was. We are pretty good with the first one. I will be fine. Like, we’re ready now. Like we’re actual parents and we’ve been through it, but it’s like, now you have a toddler who wants all of your attention and you have an infant who actually needs all of your attention or he’s going to choke on something.

So it’s, it’s different challenges, but it’s more fun than it is work. Like, you know, it’s so it’s, it’s just like, hell, like. Eat something and I’ll get mad at him. And then they’ll look at me and like, give me like this sheepish grant. And I’m like, all right, fine.

Joe Howard: [00:10:43] Totally. I totally agree. Cause I always thought like, that’s not going to work on me.

Like, I’m going to be like a dad, you know, I’m going to teach this kid, you know, what needs to be like, but. I’m falling forward to every time, something like he’s crying a lot or he’s like a little sick and upset about something or he just like trips and starts crying about something. Cause he’s, you know, he’s learning to go from walking to running right now.

So it’s like a lot of falling down and it’s just like one smile and I’m like, damn it. Like, God,

how is, um, how has that been? Around the work that you do, because like anybody in the WordPress space knows you do like a bunch of stuff in the WordPress space. How is this affecting your like, bandwidth to be able to, I guess, like make a living based on your WordPress work, but also just like, honestly, like work enough that you feel like you’re still having an impact on your work.

Are you feeling like that’s slowing down? Are you feeling like you’re able to split that a little bit? Is it like two kids? I have one kid and I’m feeling like that’s a lot. So two must really know. If two’s like three times as much work. Right. So how is that going? Are you feeling like overwhelmed? Are you feeling like things are still going okay.

In terms of splitting that responsibility,

Joe Casabona: [00:11:57] if you had talked to me like two weeks ago before I shipped my last LinkedIn learning course, uh, I would have been like, everything is on fire and I can’t handle it, but. The way we grow is by learning from mistakes. And so I, you know, we’ve been in this for a year.

It’s not like it’s, I’ve had a kid, I’ve had two kids for eight months. It’s not like it should be much of a surprise that there are going to be days where I can’t work. Uh, but I’m always optimistic. And so, uh, after I shipped a LinkedIn learning course, I took a day and I just planned out all of my major projects for this quarter.

Uh, so now I know my bandwidth and I have timelines for everything. But, yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough because, uh, the coveted, simultaneous nap time, uh, has become a rarity recently. And so my daughter’s like kind of aging out of naps. So we shortened her nap time. Okay. Uh, and my son has decided that afternoon naps are not his jam.

He prefers like a late morning and then like late afternoon nap. And usually I would have like two hours, even on the days my wife works. Uh, to get some work done, but now it’s like half hour at best, unless they’re both just like so tired, but

Joe Howard: [00:13:11] for, I don’t know, it’s like kids will usually until they’re like four or five months old, usually they’re super pretty.

And like they’ll sleep when they sleep, but then they start to develop this like to Napa day thing. Usually it’s like, that’s how Moe was. And he actually just recently went like two weeks ago. He graduated from two naps to one now just one big nap in the middle of the day. So there’s like, there’s a lot of change happening.

And when you have two kids, like, especially the difference in age and of yours, like two naps outside of the one nap potentially is like, well, no, one’s napping at the same time. So I always have to watch someone. So like, that’s the challenge

Joe Casabona: [00:13:45] here. Yeah. That’s exactly right. And like you try, I try to time it and like, Theresa’s nap is a little bit more fluid.

So if I’m like, well, Louis is probably going to go down at like two I’ll slide Theresa’s nap back a little bit, but like there’s no guarantee. So it’s, it’s tough. It’s like constant learning and yeah, I would for parents out there who are like TNF sounds better than one, one big nap in the middle of the day.

That’ll be great. Right. Cause then I can just expect it. I can be like, all right, get me to one o’clock or get me to noon. Um, I don’t want to sound disgruntled. Like I love playing with my kids and like yesterday during Louis’s nap, Theresa just kinda like walked around, outside in the rain, like coming to herself.

And it like filled my heart with so much joy. Uh, but like you need those breaks so that you can refresh and be patient with your kids. And instead of like snapping at them, like explain to them like what you’re feeling and what they might be feeling. So, um,

Joe Howard: [00:14:42] I felt that way too. I thought I’d missed two naps and in some ways I do, because it’s two breaks.

But the one I actually have like more time, I feel like to do stuff too with Morrison because I have like, he’s awake for like four or five hours at a time. So I can like go do a hike with him for two hours and not worry about, or just like spend time playing with it. And like, it just, it works a little better.

I just want to touch on the thing you said about. Like you said, like 80 to 90% of time with Morrison. It’s like, fantastic. But there’s that time where I get frustrated or I get annoyed with him and the, I never really understood how much energy it takes to not even raise kids, but just like spend time around a little person.

They just take a lot of energy and like even one day, like one 14 hour day with two kids, like. If you’re not a parent, like you just don’t understand the amount of energy it takes to like, do a full day. And like, it’s honestly brought me a whole new appreciation, not just for parents, but especially for like single parents who like, how do you, how do you do this yourself?

Like how. How do you do anything? Like I had like a back, like, you know, my back was out for a couple of days where I was like, Oh, like my back Sterling was great. She helped with the baby, like did some extra. And I was trying to do it. I cooked a little bit and stuff. I was just recovering, what would I have done if I was a single dad, like by myself.

So like, anyway, I think that. I just want to say like, yes, the getting your energy back is really important because it takes so much energy to put into these little ones to just like spend time with them. It’s crazy.

Joe Casabona: [00:16:22] Yeah. You’re like playing and then you’re like planning, like, Oh, when you’re like, I need to feed them and, Oh, don’t eat that.

Like, like my son, like I said, he like eats everything. Right. So like I put him down and I can’t just give dedicated time to Theresa until he naps because he’s eating stuff. But. Well, what you said about single parents, like, I’ve been thinking so much about that and like how lucky I am to have a wife who is an amazing mom.

And, uh, like I E you know, like my in-laws like, they have their own things going on right now, but my father-in-law like when he can, he will come over and, and he’s like so excited to be pop, pop and things like that. So like, I really feel for, for single parents, and there was a podcast I was listening to recently called advisory opinions where.

They actually like mentioned a few like charities that help out single parents and like do donations, things like that. And that’s something that I’ve looked more into because it’s, it is, it’s hard. Like it takes a village is no joke.

Joe Howard: [00:17:21] I totally agree. We’re kind of talking more about dead stuff than we originally going to talk about in this episode, because I was like, I do want to talk about circle community stuff at some point and the other work you’re doing, but I I’m actually enjoying talking about this.

I did want to touch on. Point you mentioned, which was because you don’t have as much time and bandwidth as a dad to two kids, especially spending a lot of time with your kids that you actually found that. Because I always I’ve had this, like, I don’t know if it’s like my brain trying to trick me, but it’s like, when I sit down to plan work, it sometimes doesn’t feel like work.

Like I’m not actually doing the work. So like, I shouldn’t spend that much time planning. Like I should spend maybe a little bit, but like more time doing the work. But what you said was kind of the opposite. You spent a lot of time, like thinking about what your quarter was going to look like and then mapping back, like how much bandwidth do I actually have to do these things?

And even you saying that like, It like made it like made me feel less stressed because I feel like Joe knows, like he has expectations. He’s like kind of set his expectations for what he can do. So that actually was like a interesting point. Cause I’m sure there are people listening out there who have kids and they spent so much time and we’re doing this episode a year, too late.

We probably should have done this episode like a year ago, so people could prepare for the pandemic, but people may be working from home for a little while longer with their kids potentially.

Joe Casabona: [00:18:37] So it sounds like that was a problem until you have it either.

Joe Howard: [00:18:40] Yeah, totally. But it sounds like that was really helpful for you just to like, kind of know what you needed to do, like over the longterm so that if you spend, cause I think that’s what stresses me out.

If I like spent, like, if I had a day where I was like, I want to try to work some today. Some that’s the problem. Right. I want to put some more like that. And I do like one hour of work. I’m like, I didn’t barely work. Like I’m stressed about it, but you had, because you’ve mapped it out. You’re like I spent an hour and that’s what I needed to spend a day.

And cool. That’s good. So does that sound like it’s on

Joe Casabona: [00:19:11] the right track? Yeah. Yeah. And it took a long time. Right. And, um, My therapist over a better help, like helped me manage those expectations a little bit. Cause he’s like, they’re going to be days where you don’t get to work and you just need to like, tell yourself that.

Right. And like, affirm that that’s okay. But you’re right. No matter how long, like I could have like a short nap and be upset when they wake up, because I didn’t finish what I was doing or they could have a long nap and I’d still be upset cause I was still in the middle of something. Right. And so, um, It’s it’s like not them waking up.

It’s that? Oh, I just wanted to finish this one more thing. I probably plan a little bit too much. Like I like the planning and the laying out ideas and stuff. I guess I’d like to think of it like a cooking in a kitchen, right. You can either just start cooking without like getting all the ingredients you need and all the pans out and whatnot.

But if you do that, you’re going to be like, Oh wait, I need the pepper. I need to go over here and get the pepper. Oh, I need to flip the burgers on whatever. And, and now maybe you’re like burning the food because you’re trying to get all the things. Whereas if you spend five to 10 minutes prepping. And putting all the ingredients where you need them and putting all the pots and pans where you need them and just like setting up your station, you’ll be able to cook more efficiently.

Right. And that’s kind of how I look at my workweeks, right. Is, uh, I have so many things I need to do. That if I just sit at my desk and go, what do I do today? I’m going to have this analysis paralysis so I can make a blog post, or I can make a YouTube video, or I should probably work on that course of this client work, but it’s not due until next week.

Whereas if I have a list of everything I need to do for the week, and then the night before I write, I’m going to do these three tasks tomorrow. Now, I know I can go check them off the list, or if I look at my production schedule and I say, okay, my Gutenberg course is the next big project I need to update.

Now I can break that into smaller tasks, uh, moving towards another deadline.

Joe Howard: [00:21:10] Yeah. The ability to map out and like use that mapping out as a way to break down. What you need to do in a given time period that can like those times, you know, those pieces can add up to a bigger piece. I think that’s, that’s pretty important.

I don’t think I do enough of that, but I’ve, I’ve been putting a lot of work into trying to be a better manager. In my job. And a lot of that includes just having all of our like tasks in one place and like really being dedicated to our project management software. So that makes me think of that because, um, I feel like we’ve been doing that a lot more over the past month or so, and I feel just better about things.

I have more transparency into things. I just have a repeating tasks. It’s like, Check on all the tasks of all the people who reply to me, or like check time track for some of our hourly folks or, um, like monthly review of objectives and talk with people about it. So it feels less stressful, but just because I have it somewhere and it’s actually like formally in a place and I’ve been doing, I get getting a little coaching too.

And while she’s not my therapist, we were very clear at the beginning of our relationships. Like, technically I’m not your therapist, I’m not legally responsible for like X, Y, or Z, but. She plays a similar role in terms of like helping me to get more clarity and map things out. And again, although it’s not like, technically she’s not technically a therapist, I think if she helps with a lot of those challenges that I have around mental health and around like my role at the company, which continues to change.

And so everything you’re saying about like getting the support you need to. Move those things forward is like really valuable. And I was the same way with you out. I felt like not, yeah, I felt, I never felt the need to like have a therapist. I always felt like pretty good about things, but the last like three or four months has been more roller coaster, more up and down, more stress, more how, like, what is next step of this business?

Look like a w buffs, a lot of stuff. And I really did realize, like, I need help with this. And I think just like you getting that help to help me with some of these things was, you know, it hasn’t totally come to fruition yet, but I feel very much like I’m on the right track and I feel better about things, you know?

Joe Casabona: [00:23:25] Yeah, absolutely. It’s always good to get out of your head. And like they say, like hire before you need it. Right. And it’s like the same, like find somebody to talk to before you really it can I get like, uh, like slightly, I guess I’ve gotten pretty personal by saying I have a therapist, but like my breaking point was like one night.

Where like Theresa needed stuff. And my son was not sleeping. Like he must’ve been going through sleep progression, which is like, if you’re not a parent, it’s just like the worst thing it’s like, imagine somebody giving you like, yeah, like a treasure chest. And then like you take like one gold piece out of it.

And then like, did they just take it away? Like, that’s how sad it is. And so like, I, like, I had like a little bit of a breakdown and I like started crying and I’m like, I can’t do this. And like the next day I was like, I. Can’t I have kids that I need to think about. I have a family, um, like my daughter wasn’t nervous.

She’s like, daddy, are you okay? Like, I don’t want to put her in a situation where like my four year old has to take care of me. And so like, if you’re, if you’re feeling the stress of parenting, running a business, whatever, like better health gives you a free week too. So just check it out. Just talk to somebody it’s super helpful.

Joe Howard: [00:24:35] Yeah, just talking to someone is enormously helpful. Like getting it off your chest. It sounds UN honestly it still sounds. Like, it sounds like mumbo jackets wouldn’t be helpful when I say it, you know, it’s like one of those hazy things, it’s like that can’t really be that helpful. And I thought that for a long time, and honestly still in my mind somewhere, I’m kind of like, does it really help that much, but I’ve been through it now.

And I realized that like the clarity you get from not only like getting it off your chest, but. Working with someone who is professionally trained or has professional certifications to be able to ask the right questions, to be able to walk you and talk you through some of these challenges to get to a point of better clarity is enormously helpful because I think one of the things I’ve found is that I.

A lot of the answers I, I came up with, I had in my head somewhere, they were there in my brain level, but I just didn’t know where to find them or how to unlock them. If for people watching or listening, you don’t see me on YouTube. Like with my hand above my head doing weird brain stuff, but that. I found that just honestly working again with like a coach, who’s not a therapist, but she asks all these great questions.

I’m like, Oh yeah, I didn’t really think about it that way. What about, I didn’t even think about that, but that’s probably true. Oh, tell me more about that. Well, what do you, why do you think that, okay, now I’m talking to you more and it really does help me find like the. It helps me get to the why’s of things and like the true, almost the true nature of things.

We talk about like a fog being lifted and like being able to see that Island over there from the closeness of your ship or whatever, you know, but that’s kind of the idea where I’m like, Oh, like it’s like, I almost know like what’s true. And when my brain is. Either filling in blanks incorrectly, you know, the brain is crazy.

You know, he makes all these assumptions or jumps to assumptions. Like, no, like slow down. What’s really true here. What’s what are we really need to go from here? What decisions we need to make based on facts and not based on your brain, telling you X, Y, or Z, that’s totally not true. Right. So I think all that has been super helpful for me.

Joe Casabona: [00:26:38] Yeah. And like everybody has had this experience right. As a programmer, I’ve definitely had it where like you’re working through a problem and you can’t figure it out. And then you go to a coworker and start explaining that problem. And you’re like, I just figured it out. Like, thanks. Thanks for just letting me talk at you for five minutes.

And like, that’s exactly like any time I didn’t have to do anything great. But like, it’s the, it’s kind of the same thing where like, And I keep a note of like the things throughout the week that happened that I want to talk about, but like, it helps me figure out like what the real problems are, uh, and like where I’m being petty.

Like when you have to say something out loud, it really reinforces like either how silly it sounds or like the solution to the problem crystallizes, like just keeping it in your head. And nothing, it bounce around there and take up space and it doesn’t need to is I’ve learned, especially over the last year.

Like not the

Joe Howard: [00:27:36] healthiest. I do appreciate you sharing that personal story. I think yes. In the ideal world, we’d love to fix it, these issues before they begin, or how do I want to put this? You know, you want to handle challenges before they become challenges. You want to nip things in the bud and yes, like for me, yeah, I would love to, I probably should have started doing more formal coaching like months ago, probably years ago.

And yeah. I’m catching up on that, but a lot of times, and I think in your case, sometimes you kind of do you almost have to. Reach a breaking point in order to understand the gravity of the situation. Because, you know, we deal with security for people. Like a lot of people are like whatever, and they get hacked and they’re like, shit.

Like I need security now. It’s like, no, you needed security six months ago. So I tell people this story in a different context. So I should know the same about myself, but a lot of times it’s harder to know it about yourself. But anyway, I think that that’s enlightening for probably a lot of people listening too, because I’m sure a lot of people have had.

Situations like that. But at the end of the day, you’ve talked about, you’ve talked about this earlier in this episode, you know, learning from those things is going to be really important and, you know, understanding when you’re at a point where you need to take action. It’s hard sometimes if you don’t have that

Joe Casabona: [00:28:50] pressure of it.

Yeah. And I’ll just say like, my brother, I talked to him about this and he was like, really proud of me for like getting therapy at all. And I’m like, I’m not depressed. He’s like, everyone’s a little depressed, but like, you don’t need to be depressed to seek. Therapy or to talk to somebody, right? Like I’m still a generally happy guy.

I smile all the time. I’m I make a lot of every time I see

Joe Howard: [00:29:13] you, man. It’s like a big smile. It puts a smile on my face.

Joe Casabona: [00:29:16] Thank you. That’s like my Mo right. And, and I just, my, my reason, my, why was because when I did get stressed, I didn’t handle it the best way. And now that I have. Like when I got stressed about certain things I should say.

Right. Uh, and I don’t want that to negatively impact my kids. So maybe I was doing everything right to the best of my ability, but I wanted to make sure spoiler alert. I wasn’t obviously, cause I’m not like a child expert, but I just wanted to make sure. And I’ve learned a lot that has helped me parent as well.

So I am, I, maybe I said that earlier, but I just want to reinforce that like. We all have our different reasons and there doesn’t need to be like some kind of negative label or whatever.

Joe Howard: [00:30:00] Couldn’t say that better. Totally agree. All right. We’ve talked about a lot of dad and personal stuff. I wasn’t even planning to get in today, but we just got right into it and it was perfect.

I do want to take a chance to talk about your circle community and all the stuff we do. I said before we started recording, I was like, Joe, we’re going to like start chatting. And then eventually you’ll tell people, like all the stuff you do in WordPress. And right now, 30 minutes of the episodes, like, okay, do you want to tell people what to do with WordPress?

But. Tell folks about a little bit, I guess if you’re ready to tell people about circling, I don’t know if it’s open to everybody, if anybody can join, but I guess talk a little bit about the circle community because I’m super interested in community building and that circle thing. And we’re trying to do something similar, but have to discuss like how we want to do that in a way that’s unique for our audience.

How do we help add value to them and stuff? So. Um, trying to learn from the best. So tell, tell me a little bit about the circle community you’re putting together.

Joe Casabona: [00:30:55] Yeah. Well, let me just say first that if you did not listen to, uh, the, uh, the episode of WP MRR with Corey Haim, you should 100% and listen to that.

Cause Corey offers some amazing tips, um, for getting things started. I can tell you that I slept on the community aspect a little bit too long, right? I launched courses four years ago. Um, my Gutenberg chorus was by far the most popular one and I just kind of let people buy the course and then just like, let them forget about me, uh, with a community they won’t, you can strike while the iron’s hot.

Right? You launched the course. You get people enrolled, you add them to the community. Uh, so when I launched the build something club, which is my podcast membership, I knew how important having the community aspect of it. Was for members. I should have cultivated the community a little bit better before I launched the club.

Um, so, uh, Joe, as you alluded to, there is a free and paid aspect of it. There’s essentially three sections of the community. One is the free section where people can kind of come share their work and discuss the latest episode and whatever else they want to do. The second section is the build something club for podcast members.

Uh, where they can they’ll have access to exclusive content. They can talk about the, the build something more, which is the extra pre and post show included in the, how I built it episodes. Uh, and then there’s the third section, which is essentially the Academy area. So if you’ve enrolled in any of my courses, you will have access to those spaces where you can discuss things about the course.

And so at the end of my more recent courses, At the end of each video, I say, Hedo head on over to the community and answer this question or whatever. What I’m doing now is I have posts Monday, Wednesday, Friday, latest episode, I call the Wednesday post the mid day mend, like, what are you working on that you’re struggling with?

Maybe we can help. And then the F Friday is for like the wins, right? Like what did you do this week that you’re super proud of. And right now it’s, it’s mostly me and my virtual assistant. She makes the posts and like likes things and. I try to be active in that community as, as much as possible, which I think a founder has to do.

Right. Because a lot of people are paying for access to, to the founder, the community owner, right? Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:33:26] So we used to, I have a Facebook group for WP, M R R, and there were like a lot of reasons. I didn’t like that. And at that point, I didn’t want to really like be making posts there. And I didn’t really want to be involved as a founder, which I, I think I agree with you.

It’s important. I think the issue was, it was just like, it was Facebook and I’m kind of like a fuck Facebook universe person. Like I’m not a big person. I’m not a big fan of a lot of things. Facebook. Does nor am I really a fan of how their groups work, because they’re just like, it doesn’t work very well.

So I think that I would actually be more excited to be more involved if I had cause circle the community itself, it kind of feels like Facebook. E like, it’s like the UX is somewhat similar, but you have a lot of tabs and sections on the side and it’s most importantly, like not on Facebook, so it’s completely like, right.

So to me, I think I’d enjoy like having my own space to play around with. I think the it’s interesting, the community, I think we made a similar mistake or misstep as you did, which was like, we had our WP MRR virtual summit last year. It was awesome. You know, we had hundreds of people there and attendants and then we kind of, didn’t really like.

Touch base with people for awhile. And we’re about to like, launch, like do our second year of it. And it’s like, well, how do we do a better job of like keeping people in the loop and like continuing these important conversations and not just kind of like, thanks for attending, like see you next year. Like we should probably like do more than that.

So that’s our thought about around community. One question about circle I have specifically for you, do you do any live streaming directly into circle or into their community slash do you know if. It’s on the homepage of circles that, so they have like a live thing. So I’m like, okay, it should be easy, but I actually haven’t found a lot of documentation about exactly how you do that.

So I’m just wondering if you do any live streams.

Joe Casabona: [00:35:16] I haven’t yet, but it’s on my list because one of my membership perks is, is exactly that right? It’s like the, the live streams for members only. So the way I thought I would do it, um, until I explore like the capabilities of circle more is. Have an unlisted live stream on YouTube that I would embed into a post that’s how I would have done it on my WordPress site.

And then you can embed the chat like below, but the YouTube chat. Yeah. The YouTube chat, which that’s interesting, which you don’t need to do on circle. Right. If I. If you’re just putting in a post, people can comment and things like that, and you can monitor it. I haven’t looked into it, but it’s definitely on my radar.

And then I was looking at like an app Sumo deal today that seems to allow you to live stream to multiple places. So I’m going to explore some tools.

Joe Howard: [00:36:10] What I would like to do with this summit is I would like to stream the summit right into circle that way. That’s how we’re driving new registrations for the community.

But it’s also just an easy registration system. Like I don’t have to like set up a registration, like just go to circle and sign up and then you’ll. Just go to that place when you like, whatever I’ll post the live stream when we do it, and then you’ll be in there. The, the thing I’m thinking about though is kind of what you were talking about.

Like, I guess maybe you could embed like some chat there, but. The kind of, the reason I wanted to do circle community is because it’s a little bit more asynchronous and it’s not like Slack where it’s like a live conversation where if you don’t turn on notifications, you missed all which like happens to me all the time.

And when I do turn on notifications, like too many notifications get out of my face, uh, the asynchronous like comment system. Doesn’t seem to work exactly how I would want it to, for like a live session, you know, do you have to reload it to see the new comments? Like I’d rather, I’d rather have a little chat there.

So I don’t know exactly how I would get that to work. I think I would take a little work, but yeah, I, so I don’t know if you, so maybe you haven’t done any live stream, but. Maybe you’re planning to, if you do, I’d love to know how any like side chat or how the commenting system works around that.

Joe Casabona: [00:37:28] Yeah.

That’s really interesting. Right? Cause again, like when I was going to just do this, like through a private page on my membership site in WordPress, I use Ecamm live for streaming. It’s like amazing. And what’s it called? E E K M live. It’s like super worth the money. Like it just makes live streaming so easy.

And they like actually give you like a little I-frame where you can embed the YouTube chat, right. On a page. So you can basically have the YouTube unlisted video and then the chat underneath. But yeah, I would have figured that in first of all, I’m on the circle homepage right now and like, The first thing you see, right.

If somebody’s doing like a live stream right in, I

Joe Howard: [00:38:05] looked through the documentation and I didn’t see any docs on like ad livestream. So I was like, that’s interesting. Is that like a future thing that they’re maybe they’ll build? Or does it work right

Joe Casabona: [00:38:13] now? Yeah, that’s like super good. Because like, when you create a post, you can, you can embed a video.

Yeah. Or maybe it’s like a certain level. It’s probably a certain level. I’ll have to look at that. I’ve I find I’m probably gonna upgrade pretty quickly to like the next level. Yeah. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m probably my hope and I’ll test this out right. Is to just embed an unlisted YouTube video that is a live stream and then people can comment on it, but yeah, if they have to re if they have to refresh, then that’s less than ideal.

Right. Um, so we’ll see, um, I’ll dig into this more, cause like it’s weird that they would advertise such a thing. If it’s not possible yet.

Joe Howard: [00:38:54] That’s what I said. I assumed it’s like something you can do with some sort of level. But anyway, I, I also want to talk a little bit about kind of what your goal is with the committee.

I think about like this podcast and. A lot of it is just for me to like, be able to talk with friends and like have a small audience to talk to in the WordPress space. But this podcast doesn’t like necessarily drive a ton of like revenue to WP buffs, like people who are listening know, we just, we just added a little pre-roll to the, to this episode that talks about WP bus, every episode.

And so. People have listened to that. It’s like, I guess like short commercial, but it’s like our podcast. So it’s not like sponsored by this. I don’t know. I don’t feel like it’s that annoying, but we’re like trying to maybe make it, do a little bit more, just like let people know that there are things that they can do that would benefit for growth, WP boss, that kind of stuff.

But with a community, you know, People want to be part of a community that’s like not annoying and people want to be, yeah, there’s no podcast. It’s not annoying enough ton of ads. But anyway, like the, I guess my question is, are you focused at all on like how this can maybe grow your courses or like get people who’ve already bought courses to buy other courses or even drive like new traffic or new community folks or build trusting community?

Or is it really just kind of, I’m still just. Kind of figuring out the screening thing and just trying to make it as cool as possible and like I’ll figure out the, like, whatever monetization of the, of the community afterwards.

Joe Casabona: [00:40:28] Yeah. That’s a, that’s a great question. Cause it’s, it kind of can work both ways, right?

Your community can feed your products or, uh, your products can have the value add of a community. Right. And so I did a little bit of soul searching towards the end of 2020, beginning of 2021. Because of the things that we talked about earlier in the episode, right. Where I don’t have your normal 40 hours of work in a week, I maybe have 24, like maybe 30 at best.

And so like trading hours for dollars does not work for me. Right now. And if we do have more kids, like it’ll work even worse. Right. So you’re really aiming

Joe Howard: [00:41:10] for that four hour workweek, you know? Yeah.

Joe Casabona: [00:41:12] I’m really, you know, I read it a bunch of years ago. It sounded ridiculous. And now I’m like, I can do four hours though.

I’ll just say like Tim Ferriss, his podcast is like four hours. So he’s definitely working more than four hours in a week. Um, but, uh, so. My, I, I went on a little bit of a soul search and I realized a couple of things. First of all, I was selling a membership, a creator courses, which is my online courses site that no one really, I mean, like there’s like 20 people maybe, but like that’s more people buy the courses, all a cart.

They like the lifetime deal better than the subscription. And so my black Friday deal, which I think I sold a whopping one. Lifetime membership for $400 or something like that. Nobody wants to create our courses membership. Right. If they want a course, they’ll buy that specific course. Uh, then, um, then I’m working on rolling out, build some, uh, my, my build something club, right?

The, how I built a membership and I’m like, how am I going to reconcile offering two different memberships that do two very different things. So I decided to. Not kill the membership, but it’s not for sale anymore. So anybody who wanted to buy the membership already had to buy it and you can buy the courses all a cart and you can become a build something club member for $5 a month.

So the, the point of the membership is to add value for people who are joining the build something club. But also I don’t interact as much with my audience as I’d like. And it’s mostly because I never had a really clear way to do that. It’s like Twitter, like reach out on Twitter, but like my DMS are locked down.

My at replies are locked. Like if, if you don’t have a certain follower threshold, I’m not going to see your replies because like I just Twitter aggravates me. So having the community. Is a place where all listeners free and paid can come and interact. Uh, so the, the main goal is maybe value add for the club, but the secondary goal is to really interact with all listeners and then hopefully turn some of those free listeners into paid listeners.

Joe Howard: [00:43:23] Is it really interesting? Cause I, I find like with this podcast, I wish I had ways to interact better with my listeners. Like I say, at the end of every episode, like email us@yogaatwpmrr.com. But like, and if people do, but it’s not like most people, it’s like a few people who like, well, why don’t reach out.

But I think having community one, it’s a great way to interact with your audience. And it gives a lot of, a lot of things back that may not like. Directly be people paying you, but has like really good benefit to maybe help you do that better in whatever you’re doing. So, yeah, Joe, some people may want to join your like monthly club for $5.

You know, if you have a hundred people do that to 500 bucks, like a month, like that’s awesome. You know, that’s. Pretty good for like, you know, just a community you’re running and like hanging out with friends. If I had like a pod, like a WPR community, uh, a lot of my thoughts are like, okay, if I can get some good conversations going, like, that’ll give me some really good topics for future episodes.

Cause I know people are talking about it. So they’ll maybe want to listen to an episode about that or like an easy place to go for people to ask questions so we can do live Q and a episodes on the show and yeah, maybe even a place where I could have. Like I could have you, Joe, Casabona like in my group and then like, we want to do a podcast, sting net, like little space there or whatever.

I don’t know a circle calls it, but I’m just calling it like a little space sort of thing. Yeah. I could have a show in there and I could actually like promote Joe’s casting course in there too, and like send some folks his way. And so that’s another way to like, build good relationships. So I think there’s a lot of like good things you can do around community.

And honestly, at the end of the day, like so much of. Anybody’s job is around community like your clients or your customers or community like the people you team up with and do co-marketing with our community. Like, you know, the WordPress community is definitely a community, right? So there’s, if you can do a good job working within that and.

Trying to just create a cool place for people to hang out. There’s a lot of secondary value you can draw from that purely by just like trying to create a cool thing in the community that, you know, people enjoy being a part of.

Joe Casabona: [00:45:32] Yeah. And that’s the hard part, right? It’s like figuring out. Why people should hang out

Joe Howard: [00:45:37] there.

That’s what I was going to ask you because circle like Facebook group, I think kind of sucks, but like, people are already on Facebook. So like they, they can just be right there in one click of a notification. Right. But you have to drive people to your totally separate. Community, you know what the URL is, community dot, build something.club.

How do you get people there? How do you keep a little bit of that engagement? It’s kind of the, it’s like one of these questions, right. But I’d be interested to hear a little bit about like how you’re trying to grow that. Oh, you’re like driving people back to that URL literally, so they can go and interact.

Cause that seems like a tough part. When I’m thinking about how we’re going to do that.

Joe Casabona: [00:46:14] Yeah. So what, uh, what I’m thinking, what I’ve been bringing. So it’s, it’s been very experimental, right? Cause I mean, at first I thought I would just have forums on the website. Um, and we can talk about that too, if you want.

Like why I decided to not build my own thing, but so far it’s been like, let’s discuss the episode. If you have questions, like head over to the community. But my main call to action on my podcast is sign up for the mailing list, right? Uh, sign up for the mailing list, blah, blah, blah. And I’ve been changing my newsletter a little bit.

It used to be like, here’s a top story. Here’s the content I’ve written. Here’s the recommendation. Now it’s like a little bit more long form. Like in my last one, I wrote about like the importance of niching down and like what I learned from like a Tinder photographer, which is like crazy that like that’s a niche.

And by the way, people pay him like 600 bucks a pop for photos for just Tinder. So like, if you’re worried that like niching down is going to affect your bottom line. 600 bucks for Tinder

Joe Howard: [00:47:11] photos just to bring dogs and cats, food, hang out with, I hear there was like, so whatever, like that’s like the thing, that’s the

Joe Casabona: [00:47:17] thing I have no, I’m gratefully married before Tinder.

Joe Howard: [00:47:22] Thank God. I don’t have to like deal with this ever

Joe Casabona: [00:47:25] again. Um, But, uh, and so what, what I’m doing is I’m getting people onto my mailing list and from my mailing list is how all kinds of parlay the community aspect of it. Right. So what I’m going to start doing soon, probably April, just cause like the first of a month, sounds like the good time to start something and like measure its success so that, you know, Oh, did I start this like two weeks ago or what?

Um, so, uh, at the end, I think at the end of two sections of my mailing list, I’ll say like wanting to discuss this. Join the build something community. And so hopefully that will get people more interested. And then yeah. Doing, adding the live stream aspect in there, I haven’t fully fleshed out my promotion plan yet because I really want to get people into the build something club.

Uh, but right now, like the people who are already paying members have been invited, I’m trying to interact with them. I’m encouraging them to communicate, but that’s, I think, again, that’s another important part of like the founder being there. I really like the smart, passive income community. I’ve been really active in there, but one thing I note like the moderators are amazing.

Like there’s somebody, I think his name is it’s like N O N. But there is, you can’t tell, I can’t tell him I monitor, but it looks like an lot over the, Oh, so I think it’s like noon, maybe. Sorry, noon. If I’m like saying your name wrong, it could be non, but I’m like, he’s there and he’s commenting and he’s liking, uh, I haven’t, I have seen, I think exactly like both sides of the prerecorded videos, maybe one post from Pat and it’s like Pat’s community and I know he’s doing a lot, but.

It’s past community. I think if it’s your community, you should show up. Right. And so I’m trying to show up and comment and add things. Uh, my VA posts some, some of the canned stuff, but I go in there and I comment and stuff like that. So my main goal is to, to experiment a little bit and then start doing what I think are good, actionable steps.

And I actually joined Corey’s community. Uh, to see what he’s doing. Cause I think he’s doing some really cool stuff in his community. It looks really active.

Joe Howard: [00:49:35] Yeah, I know it’s put a lot of, a lot of time and I talked to him also about like how he’s driving stuff. We had a good, good conversation about

Joe Casabona: [00:49:44] that.

I took notes during that episode.

Joe Howard: [00:49:46] Nice to you and me both. I do, like we were saying, and I think that’s actually a good place to wrap up is about experimenting with this stuff, because at the end of the day, it’s like, you can go and listen to Cory’s episode and here’s some best practices that might work, but you have no idea what’s going to work in your community or in your circle.

Yeah. Circle community. Or your course community or whatever, until you try it. And I think that taking it one step at a time and experimenting is, is it’s almost like a fail safe way to eventually get something to work well, because yes, you know, start driving folks to your email list once they’re signed up for email.

Okay. How many people are getting out of the email list. Okay, cool. How do we experiment to increase that? Cool. We got a good flow going in there. Okay. How do we get people to the, the, uh, circle community? Okay. Um, trying different kinds of contents. Oh, okay. I wrote these four articles. This one drove the most.

Oh, this topic was totally unique. Maybe I should write about that kind of stuff. More. Cool. Now we’re improving the conversion rate there. Okay. People are joining my circle community, but they’re not like really coming back, like, okay, how do I do that? Okay. I got to give them, like, I got to do more email. I got to do more like, yeah, we do certain things on certain days or like more engagement.

So there’s so much to experiment with at every step of this. But that’s what it takes. Like if don’t think you’re going to go and just like, get it all perfect. The first time, do some best practices. And what you think is best because. It’s a good thing to do or it sounds awesome. And then experiment with stuff.

So, yeah, Joe, cool. Thanks again for being our man. We talked about man, a ton of stuff today, but let’s finish by telling folks okay. Again, how they can join the circle community, where can they go to listen to the podcast? Where can they go to, and not DMU on Twitter, but where can I go to see your fun tweets?

That kind

Joe Casabona: [00:51:29] of stuff. Yeah. Uh, so, okay, so I’m going to write this down, right? Um, because again, like the, the circle. Invite links are like pretty long and it, I don’t have it. So just anybody can sign up right now.

Joe Howard: [00:51:41] Yeah. People are listening. Just go to the WP, mrr.com/podcast, page and finders episode. And we’ll put it right in the show notes.

Love

Joe Casabona: [00:51:49] it. Yeah. So if you go to build something.club/wp, M R R, that will be, uh, a, uh, a way to sign up for the, uh, The mailing list. I, uh, this’ll be a little bonus for the YouTube people, but my camera just overheated. So you can’t, you can’t see me right now. Um, so build something.club/wp MRR is where you can, uh, get an invite to join the community.

Uh, when this episode goes live, I’ll be sure to post it in the community so we can talk about it there. Uh, Joe is already part of the community. Um, and then if you, if you want to learn more about me, casabona.org is the best place. It has everything I’m working on. And my blog and my social channels, I’ve been really active on Instagram lately.

That’s like the social network that doesn’t aggravate me. Um, and so I’m at J Casabona on that as well.

Joe Howard: [00:52:41] Nice. Most social networks. I just can’t do it. Honestly, I don’t want to do is like somewhat regularly is Reddit. Cause it’s just kind of like. Crazy. It’s crazy in there. I just kind of like, like kind of sit in the chaos a little bit, but that’s it.

That’s my main one, but, uh, yeah. Okay. Joe, last thing I like to do is ask our guests to ask our listeners for a little I, uh, Apple podcast review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking our listeners for that, I appreciate it.

Joe Casabona: [00:53:08] Yes. And I will just add here that Apple is changing their nomenclature from subscribe to follow.

So I will say this. If you liked this episode, be sure to follow on Apple podcasts. And of course, give this show a rating and review because it really does help with the discovery. So the more rating and reviews the show gets, the more people will discover the show.

Joe Howard: [00:53:30] Cool appreciate that. I don’t mean to extend this episode, but just quickly.

Do you know if that is the follow literally the same result as a subscribed? Like just following me, you just subscribe. It’s not like they’re not creating some sort of like social network.

Joe Casabona: [00:53:43] No, there’s a lot of speculation. Right? So an iOS 14.5, uh, the, the language on the button is changing from subscribed to follow.

And, uh, it’s, it’s probably because people see the word subscribe and they think I have to pay for it. Right. Um, so like follow is linguistically a little clearer than, uh, than, than subscribe. However, there’s wild speculation that soon Apple podcasts will allow for paid membership. Of podcasts, much like Twitter and all these other places are doing, but that is wild speculation that nobody has confirmed yet.

So I’m just going to say follow makes more sense to most people than subscribe

Joe Howard: [00:54:23] does. I think that, that makes sense. Cool. Yeah. Also Joe, our, uh, resident, uh, Apple know it all. So anytime something like this happened, I’m always asking Joe, what’s going on with this. So cool. Uh, if you are a new. Listener to the show.

Go ahead and binge some old episodes. Joe is going to be on an episode like 140 something. So we got a ton of old episodes. You can go to WP mrr.com forward slash podcast. Hit search bar search for pricing issues with pricing pricing, hiring checkout, hiring podcasting, or find Joe’s pre Ms. May be your second or third time on the podcast.

I’ve go on.

Joe Casabona: [00:55:01] I know that this is my third time by the number of, uh, Pop culture characters I’ve had to pick. Yeah,

Joe Howard: [00:55:08] totally. Joseph been a regular on the podcast. So, um, yeah, go listen to some old episodes, uh, and feel free to do some bingeing while you’re at it. If you have questions for me on the show, maybe in the future, you should head to the WP MRR circle community, but not yet.

We’re still figuring that out. So just email yell@wpmrr.com and we will get some, your question answered, live on the show. Feel free to follow and leave an Apple podcast review. If you do feel free to leave a comment, uh, so that we know this episode was solid and I can also shoot it to Joe so he can smile.

Someone said, Oh, someone thought someone clever a, you left a review because of me. So WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes. Although we may have to adjust that. Forwarding address. It’s not technically called iTunes anymore, but you can still go to that store. So, uh, that is all for this week on the show, we will be in your podcast players again next Tuesday, Joe.

Thanks again for being on man. It’s been real, absolute

Joe Casabona: [00:56:08] pleasure every time, Joe. Thanks for having

Joe Howard: [00:56:09] me. It’s everyone.

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