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October 2021

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E169 – Purposefully Repurposing Content (Shaina Weisinger, Repurpose House)

In today’s episode, we get to listen again to Joe and Shaina Weisinger’s conversation. They talk about how repurposing audio and video content can help brands reach more audiences without having to spend so much on creating content, and how resharing helps maximize the potential of every social content.

Shaina Weisinger is the Founder and CEO of Repurpose House, which turns long-form content into optimized videos and images for high engagement social media strategies. She has a background in video production for digital marketing and is on a mission to show content creators the untapped potential and repurposing power of the content that they already have.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:04 Welcome to the pod, Shaina!
  • 03:27 Shifting from general digital marketing to repurposing content
  • 10:39 Why videos work a lot for any show
  • 12:34 The power of resharing to put your brand in front of the audience
  • 16:45 Organic content hits audiences the most
  • 19:41 Record a 1-minute selfie video daily for practice
  • 22:43 Tools to use in repurposing content
  • 29:38 Intro into being an entrepreneur
  • 35:26 The value of offering a recurring service  
  • 36:57 The Content Coalition podcast

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: Hey, WordPress people. Welcome back to the WP MRR WordPress podcast. I’m Joe, and I’m beyond say, and you’re listening to the WordPress business podcasts. I think we all have to bow down because we have Beyonce on the podcast this week. A pretty incredible fiance.

Shaina Weisinger: It’s going great. Just the subjects bowing to me today.

It’s wonderful as always.

Joe Howard: Yeah, it’s very nice Beyonce, excellent character selection. Kind of like the Trump card. I feel like it’s like, you can’t really beat Beyonce. That’s kind of the pinnacle. Uh, I, when I was a. I got married a couple years ago and everyone at my wedding remembers the vows that I gave because I called my wife a white Beyonce, which was, I think pretty high praise.

Shaina Weisinger: So the peak of all praises. Yeah, I

Joe Howard: thought so. I thought it was a good day to a good day to do it. Yes, exactly. Cool smart man. That’s for sure. Yes. Yes. Try it every once in a while on occasion. Um, cool. Well, Beyonce on the podcast this week, uh, also known as Shayna. How’s it going? Why don’t you tell people a little bit about yourself and kind of what you do?

Shaina Weisinger: Yeah, absolutely. So, uh, firstly, thanks for having me. This is awesome. I have a background in video production and video and marketing. So I’ve been playing with video cameras, my entire life. I was the only one who even knew how to use the camera in my family. When I was like 10 years old, you know, I was like playing with three VCRs in the sunroom trying to edit footage at like 12.

So, and you don’t realize when you’re young that that’s like an actual career path at some point. You just feel like you’re goofing around with your cousin on like a sleepover weekend. So I’ve been doing that forever and ever. Amen. I really dove into like video for digital marketing about five years ago.

Really just, just kind of honed it into repurposing content. It’s been something that I’ve been preaching to all of my, uh, video clients for years now. And I’ve realized that there just isn’t a solution to do it well and quickly and efficiently for businesses for social media. And so I started repurpose us last year and now.

What I do is I help people see the most potential that they can out of their existing content and realize that it has so much more mileage than they ever really think that it does. So it’s exciting to be able to help people see that potential.

Joe Howard: Yeah, very cool. And, and the way that we met is actually pretty funny.

We got introduced through my friend will, um, who you’ve also worked with and with a lot of his digital stuff. So will was, uh, actually one of the people when I started getting into kind of the digital world will, is one of the people who I was like, oh, we all know so much, man. That guy is so knowledgeable.

He runs this. Events company. So he does a, you know, some audio, but he does a lot of, uh, or he does, um, he, his company does work with, uh, like, uh, event production. Um, so he’ll bring in the whole crew to like run a Comic-Con, but a lot of his marketing is kind of based in like doing kind of more traditional digital marketing, uh, Digital marketing avenues.

When he introduced us, I was like, she must be awesome because if she, if he was working with her, I know he’s so serious about this stuff. Uh, I remember when I was starting off, well told me, he’s like, I got this email list of like 5,000 people and I was like, oh my God, 5,000 people. Like, it’s incredible.

Yeah. And so, uh, the, uh, the, I know that you, uh, do some great work. Uh, I’m looking at your, uh, your website right now, repurpose house.com. Uh, and so, uh, yeah, repurposing content is very interesting. How did you. From, uh, from doing kind of general digital marketing into kind of this kind of seventies shove, you have this piece of.

Try it let’s try and repurpose it.

Shaina Weisinger: Great question. So it’s been an interesting journey. Um, you got time, so here we go. Everybody get your coffee and get comfortable. So I’ll try to make it short and sweet. Um, no, actually, so I was doing video production specifically for like strategic digital marketing. I actually started wake run media, which is my video production company because I saw a real problem with either video production companies.

Didn’t really have the marketing back. And they just produce nice videos and expect the client to tell them how that’s going to work strategically in their game plan. And truthfully, like that’s not the case really ever, unless they’re working with agency or unless they have like a really incredible bad-ass marketing team, you know, and S a lot of the people that I was working with, they kind of knew enough, but they didn’t, they didn’t really think about how.

It was going to play a part in more than just one avenue outside of just throwing it on YouTube and hoping that, you know, a million people watch it and they get a ton of new clients and that’s unrealistic. Right.

Joe Howard: Yeah. And publish it. And then you get a million visitors in the middle of this stuff.

Shaina Weisinger: Right.

That’s how Beyonce did it. She put a video up and that was the end of that.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Well now that’s our marketing strategy. Right. Publish, and then it goes viral, but yeah.

Shaina Weisinger: Yeah, it takes a minute to get there, but whatever. So, um, so anyhow, what I, what I learned was. Well, actually, I started at, at, uh, the Infusionsoft conference in 2014 and I was doing some freelance video production for a business coach will was actually there with me running around and asking people questions, which is so funny, um, right, exactly.

With his high energy, I’m like, I’m going to, I’m going to steal you and we’re going to run around like morons through this conference and just grab people. But actually

Joe Howard: that’s like perfect.

Shaina Weisinger: Right? No, you’re absolutely so much fun. So that’s what we did. And, but while we were doing that, I had, um, If you don’t know what Infusionsoft is, who’s listening.

It’s a platform, it’s a CRM platform. They’re massive. Now they just keep growing. But all these people, business owners kept coming up to me. They’re like, oh my gosh. So we know we need video for our business. And I kept hearing like two different trains of thought that they had. They either had tried it and got a really good deal.

And they got burned because like everybody in their brothers has a DSLR and you know, I movie. Or they were, they thought it was way too expensive. They were spending five figures on one video. It didn’t make sense for their ROI. Like it just, it was ridiculous. And so I was getting frustrated because there has to be a middle ground.

And I come from the school of like, I went to film school. I had. Got into, I was real scrappy. Like I taped a camera to a vacuum to get a nice, low rolling shot. You know what I mean? Like there’s a ways to do it. That is not like let’s buy $50,000 worth of gear. And not that I wanted to show up with my vacuum roller to any of these shoots, but, you know, I know that there’s a more efficient way to make this happen.

Especially having like a business background with that. I decided to make it more strategic. With clients, I would set up like initial calls where I’m like, we’re not just going to come in and shoot, like, let’s talk about your whole strategy and let’s see how we can make this one shoot the most efficient and get the most mileage.

So what I would say is like, yeah, you need a company overview video that needs to be like 90 seconds, two minutes max. But also while we’re there, what else can we film? Like, can we do teaser videos that go out on social media? Because to be honest, if you have a bunch of videos that are about how awesome you are, can.

Like nobody cares about you yet. You have to get them to a place where they care enough to go and then actually watch those videos. So we need to do some sort of value or give content as well. So we would like strategize about how that would look for their business. And like, it was basically about saying let’s film as much as we can optimize for placement in all these different places.

Cause something you put on Facebook is going to be very different than something you’re throwing on Instagram and then something you’re going to put on your website and YouTube. Out of that. Like we would do these really long form videos. One of my clients was doing all video podcasts. And so when we started to do that, I started to do some research in like the podcasting space and realize that there really wasn’t a service that was repurposing podcast episodes, taking audio, turning them into video because video is king, like video on social media gets the most views, the most engagement.

I mean, it’s, it crushes every other medium. And so to not be able to turn audio into video, Silly to me. So I started offering that service to my video podcast clients. We would take smaller clips. We would turn them into audio grams, which are actually just video, you know, the moving wave form, you know, with the titling and you got the header on it and some captions.

And, um, as I was trying to pitch video podcasts, like existing podcasts, they were like, yeah, that’s great. And all, but I would, if you would just sell those small audio grams, I would buy that all day long. And I was like, there’s that? I started to research and nobody was doing anything like this. So we started.

Well, we, I started off as podcast memes and we only did repurposing for podcasts. We had like specific packages and I realized quickly that podcasters weren’t the demo, the people who thought it was a no brainer and signed up and really crushed it. We’re actually digital marketers who used podcasting as one arm of their marketing.

So I was like, let’s go back to the roots. Let’s talk to all digital marketers. Let’s do video. Like every type of content can be repurposed and should be repurposed. Text video audio. And so we just came up with a package in a way to be able to repurpose these things consistently so that like a blog post can now be teased on social media consistently.

And you can drive traffic back to that blog post on your website, where you have an opt-in, where you can gather some information, right. And be able to do that just for every type of content and not let content die. Cause that was the biggest problem with. They have these really great like webinars or these really great training videos.

And I’m like, why aren’t you chopping these up into tiny pieces and throwing them all over the place. And so it kind of just came out of like creating the long form stuff and then realizing that they could do more with it and not let it die, which is funny because, you know, as a video producer, you want them to just produce more video with you and I’m the one going in there being like, no, no, no, don’t produce more video.

Don’t pay me more money. Just use the stuff you have and start like throwing it on social media, like crazy. So. That’s kind of the long short of it.

Joe Howard: That’s really cool. I really liked this idea of, uh, of using content in multiple ways across multiple mediums. I think a lot of people it’s. So I like my I’m kind of like in the SEO kind of inbound world, we write a lot of content on our blog trying to drive traffic.

And it takes a lot of time and resources to write a new piece of content. You know, it takes 10, 20, 10, 20 hours to put together a really high quality piece of content. Uh, and if you do that 10 times. That’s 10 times the expense that epi is a content, but if you write one piece of content, you know, maybe it takes 10, 20 hours, but the repurposing of that content really does not take as long.

Uh, and it can be a lot more efficient to kind of put that into different mediums, you know, take blurbs of it. You have a podcast episode takes a lot of upfront cost to create that podcast, but the chop it up is, you know, if you’ve already edited a whole podcast episode, you know, chopping it up, takes a fraction of the time, but maybe you can drive.

Two or three times as much traffic to that episode with just, you know, even a little bit more work. So that’s really cool. It’s really cool. Um, for, uh, the repurposing of, uh, podcasts and doing podcasts and video, it was so funny. Cause like before we started recording, I was like, we’re doing video, but it’s really just to, uh, just to kind of have this, uh, interaction so we can read each other’s body language and stuff.

Cause we’re on video right now. But I was like, oh, we’re just, we just publish the audio. And now we’re in the podcast. Maybe I should start thinking about doing, putting a system together that really publish the audio or to publish the video to

Shaina Weisinger: do it. And people w I mean, I think people like seeing the body language, it also gives them another platform to view it.

Like, you can take the screen recording and put it up on YouTube, have a cool thumbnail, and then you can take the. The 30 seconds to one minute deals and just turn them into memes and throw those all over social too. It’s just another way to show the content, you know?

Joe Howard: Yeah, yeah. Agreed. The podcast and audio form is just, yeah, there’s so many different people that like to everyone likes content in a different way.

Right? Some people like audio, some people like video, some people want to do audio and video. Some people want to read it. Some people want to read long form. Some people want to read a short blurb, like people want, uh, want different things and to be able to give it to them in the way that. Yeah, so they can digest it, how they want to is really like kind of meeting them where they are is kind of a nice way, you know, to, to produce content.

Shaina Weisinger: Yeah. Well, and also keep in mind that like, while people may want to listen to your podcasts through their ears, because it’s a long form, you know, it’s easier for them to like take a jog and listen to the whole thing. Maybe to get their attention. Initially it takes a 32nd clip, a video that they’re scrolling with their thumb on Facebook, and then it drives them to do the long form in a different way.

The it again, it’s like the stage and the journey, what kind of content is going to hit them before they get to that long form piece of content and consume it in the way that makes sense

Joe Howard: for them? Yeah. Very cool. We have probably a good number of listeners out there. Uh, and I, I say this, I think because I’m speaking for myself and I think like we’ve done a pretty good job growing this business, but like, there’s so much more repurposing of content we can do like.

Very easily say that honestly like that we have a lot of work that we can do in that area. So I think that probably a lot of listeners are also thinking like, okay, I read a lot of blog content, but like, oh, I don’t have a podcast. Like I’m not doing that or I’m not doing a video yet, or I’m not, I’m just not like using all my tools I have in front of me efficiently for people who were kind of starting off and kind of in one or maybe two areas that they’re trying to do the marketing in what would be some.

I guess you can just use, I will use me as an example, like how, what are some ways that I could start off trying to do some, some repurposing of content? Like maybe just some small, like, easy wins that I could just kind of start to get some momentum so that I could like move into more, you know, more if I want to, once I get the.

Shaina Weisinger: Yeah, absolutely. So let’s just start with the podcast, right? So like we were talking about taking those small snippets, turning them into image quotes, because images still do well, video does better, but at least it’s a different medium, right? So you can take something super awesome that you sat on the episode of the gap or Beyonce set on the episode and, you know, take a 25 words of that.

Slap it on an image quote card with the person’s face. You said it. And the cool thing about that is the power of resharing is, is big. And the more pieces of content you have that, that other person, the guests can share as well. Like that’s just consistently putting your brand in front of their audience.

Like more than just here show the episode. Right. So we’ll do like audio grams. We’ll do three to four for each episode. We’ll do them in square footage. So that, you know, you’re scrolling anything that you’re scrolling with your thumb, you put a big headline on there that poses some sort of question that people want the answer to.

You, make sure you have captions because 85% of people on Facebook, they’re all scrolling with the audio off, which is hilarious, but it is what it is. And if you think that LinkedIn is a bunch of professionals and they’ll actually watch a video with the sound on you’re wrong, cause 80% of them are scrolling with the same.

So, um, making sure you have captions is super important. Square size is super important because it gets the most engagement and just for feeds doing that. But also like we found out that stories get a ton of engagement too, if you hashtag it. Right. And if you’re consistent, so you can take that same. Make it story size, throw that on your stories for Facebook and Instagram.

You get a lot of traction on that. And then again, the quote cards, same thing square for the feeds. Actually. Now it’s landscape for Twitter, which is super annoying because now we’re adding another like shape to our templates. That’s for our clients, because we have to be with the times. Um, and then just making sure that it’s optimized for each platform and then just consistently putting it out there.

So for instance, like if you’ve pulled. Three one minute clips. From this episode, you can get six different pieces of content out of it between like image quotes and audio grams. And you didn’t really have to do a whole lot of work yet to pull three minutes total. Right? So that’s a great way to do it.

Definitely putting it on YouTube is an awesome way to do it. Making sure you have a dynamic thumbnail with big, bold text and an image or two images like you and the guest. And then also one thing that we’re doing is on our show notes page. We do the show notes. Full transcription on there also for SEO, but then turning like these audio episodes into like cool blog posts that actually break down what you guys talk about.

There’s so many ways to repurpose just podcasts, which is why I was so excited about them when I was doing the video podcast for clients, because I’m like, oh my gosh, there’s so much that you could do. So that’s just podcasting. And then it dives into like text, video blog posts. You can turn into, like for us, we turn them into text, motion videos, and then we like just like short snippets up to like a hundred words is about.

90 seconds, ish video, depending on how long that the tech stays on screen, but we’ll do like really cool, like stock videos in the background. We’ll do like authors and books. So we’ll take snippets from the books that were really impactful and just turn them into little 92nd videos.

Joe Howard: Oh yeah. I like that.

Cause uh, yeah, we have, we’ve not dive super into video yet. We kind of, we starting this webinar series, so we’re doing some webinars, but uh, yeah, I mean, you say video is king and I’m like, yes, Should do more. We should do more video. Uh, it’s a it’s it’s it feels like it feels intimidating to me to dive in, to like, be doing video at the level that I feel like we need to kind of stand out from the crowd.

I’m always feeling. The internet is so crowded and it’s, if I’m going to do video, like we gotta do a really good job. I think, I honestly can’t remember if it was before this podcast started recording or after we were talking about some little things that you have done in the past to, uh, to do some, do video work without having the big expenses.

What are maybe, yeah, again for me, like what are some things I could do to start, start with doing some video for my own business, without, you know, necessarily paying someone. $10,015,000 to shoot a two minute video that who knows if it’s going to do it.

Shaina Weisinger: Right, right. That’s a great question. So, um, on, on the first episode that I did of my video podcast, we had Dennis you as a guest and he’s like the Facebook king.

He literally wrote the book on Facebook marketing. They teach it in like tons of colleges. Like he’s the man, right? He did a paid study with one of his, one of his massive clients. They’re like a, for a national furniture store. And, um, they tested fully produced video versus selfie style. Hold my phone video.

And the selfie style, hold my phone video crushed the full production video people get. Yeah. Right. And people get so hung up on having to have like this crazy beautiful production. I mean, don’t get me wrong. There are places to do that. Like your company overview video should be high-class because you take yourself seriously enough.

And people will believe that you take yourself seriously. If you put some production into it, but just the content that you’re consistently putting out. As organic as possible is always really, really great. Now, I’m I also know, in addition to that, you need to be doing stuff that has like header. So you’re grabbing attention and whatever, once you engage already and they know who you are, and they’re interested in what you say, you can get away with just selfie style and, you know, putting out content that way.

But most of it’s going to be like, give content what you’re saying. Super important. So like giving tips, tricks, thoughts, like things that will help people in their life that are short and sweet and to the point in their life or their business. I mean, people, if you’re going to help them make money, I’m sure that they’re super pumped about that.

Um, but the selfie style is something that people. Don’t realize is so impactful and making sure the selfie style is straight up and down is a good thing, because again takes up more of the screen, but I’m also, you know, I have a video background, so I am also like, let’s at least make it look nice. So like, don’t be indirect, harsh sunlight, because you’re going to have massive shadows on your face.

It’s going to be tough for people to see you. So in a shaded area is always nice to get more even lighting.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Actually you lived this right before we started recording. You were like yours recording outside right now, which is. Right before we started recording, uh, Shayna moved. She was like, the sun is going to be on me in five minutes.

So I’m going to move here. So you actually, you’ve already lit you’re already living this.

Shaina Weisinger: Well, it was more like, I don’t need to start sweating here. I’m in Phoenix. So like, I would prefer not to be dripping sweat in the middle of this deal, but also, yeah, the harsh sunlight is really what it was.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I like the, a little hack with the, uh, hold the video vertically. Sometimes it’s actually helpful cause it takes up more real estate. Cause when you scroll, it’ll be, they’ll take a little more space on the screen and it’s, it’s funny. Our, uh, our head of marketing Kailyn would, uh, she’s probably listening right now.

She’ll she’ll uh, she’ll tell me like, yes, Joe, like the, uh, Uh, social and the like a lot of the, not necessarily high quality video, but just a really personable and just, you know, shows your personality. Video is super important. Like she’s a big believer in that. So Kayla near right now,

Shaina Weisinger: one thing that he also said, like his show at the end of our show, I always ask for like one.

Highly em, one thing that somebody who is listening can implement in the next 48 hours, that doesn’t require like a team of 15 people, right? Like you can do this and his tip was, get out your phone and record a one minute video and just post it, go live for a minute, like just do something and do it like everyday, like give yourself a challenge and be like, I’m going to do a one minute video every day for the next 30 days.

And just see. And you’ll get way more comfortable talking. It’s super uncomfortable. If you’re not used to selfie style videoing, it took me a long time to like be okay with not fully produced versions of myself. And it took even longer for me to be okay with live because I’m a video editor. Like if I mess up, I want to be able to edit that out.

It was crazy to me to even fathom just going and not being able to fix it later. So, but it just takes time and practice. Like everybody wasn’t anybody you see online, who’s just incredible in front of their camera in general. Look that way at the beginning, you just have to keep on trying and practicing and don’t give up.

Joe Howard: Yeah, I think that’s yeah, man, you nailed that one. I think I want to even stay on that for a second. Cause I think that’s important for everybody to realize no matter how amazing you think someone is doing anything, what you’re not seeing is, you know, the hundreds or thousands or 10 thousands of hours of practice, it took them to get there doing selfie video stuff for me is like, I’m not very comfortable doing that.

And I don’t, I don’t, I don’t even really know why. Thinking about this right now, live while we’re doing this. It’s like, why do I feel uncomfortable? But it’s not, it’s not in my comfort zone, but like most things, things are not in your comfort zone until you just do them a lot. And then you, you kind of, you know, you can get there.

Uh, so yeah,

Shaina Weisinger: pretty much for me, it was like, I, I was so used to doing video of other people, so I felt kind of. I had no problem, like setting up cameras and doing like highly produced stuff for myself. But I started to feel kind of narcissistic with the camera phone, like face. Like, I, it just wasn’t something that felt natural to me because it’s not something I would do in my daily life.

Anyway. So for me, it was like I had to get over the hump of feeling like it was like me, me, me, selfie, selfie, kind of deal. Embrace the fact that like, as long as I’m saying something that benefits the people who are watching and that they feel like they’ve gotten something out of it, then really it’s not about me, it’s about them.

And that really kind of got me over the hurdle of feeling kind of ridiculous doing selfie videos. And I think that, I mean, unless you’re really into just filming yourself, you know, good for you, I’m more power to you cause you’ll get over that hurdle real quick. Cause it doesn’t exist. But for me, that’s, that’s kind of where mine was and I felt a lot more comfortable after I realized.

Joe Howard: Yeah, for sure. I feel like I’m a big, I’m a big believer that if you’re. If you have something that you don’t feel like is a big strength. If you want to learn how to do it, and it’s not really a strength, you can feel free if that’s what you want to do. But if it’s about like building and scaling a business, I would much prefer to have someone else to do it.

So I think that if someone is looking to repurpose content, like repurpose house would be. Resource for people to look into, but there are probably some people out there on budgets trying to do a little bit themselves and at least get started. I would love to hear maybe some of the tools that you, that you use or you could recommend to people.

We use things like doing, um, like images for social. Um, we use like Canva, um, which is a nice, like, I think it’s like freemium tool it’s free. And then if you want. Do uh, images with transparent PDF or transparent PNG background files like, oh, please upgrade. So if you want some more advanced stuff, you have to upgrade, but it has a lot of awesome free stuff in there.

So like canvas one tool I use, but maybe you have some others that people can check out that would be helpful for like creating some of this well designed stuff and not having to be a super high, you know, a high experience designer.

Shaina Weisinger: Yeah, absolutely. So actually I do, um, when I do speaking engagements, 90% of the time, it’s just training people how to do this themselves and with free tools and, and some paid tools, it just depends on how efficient you really want to be and what you’re willing to pay for.

But there’s a freeway to do all of this. Actually, I stand corrected because the one of the free platforms just started charging and he promised he wasn’t going to, but we’re there. And I was like, I knew it was coming, but they’re not charging a lot. So it’s kind of like, you know, you pick your battles. So initially what the image quotes you’re totally right with Canva, Canva or Photoshop.

Photoshop. Great. If you’ve got Canva. Great one nice hack with that is that like we embrace the power of templates and repurpose. That was the only reason, or the only way we are able to churn so fast and do overnight delivery and have that much content is because we start from a template, multiple like multiple template sets, and then we just revise what’s within it.

So you can have like a template created for Canva done by like somebody on Fiverr, you can go through like Upwork and find somebody to just create these templates for you have them create three to five of them. That you’re really happy with that, you know, like, okay, this is a template that I want to be able to swap an image of a guest out of.

And I needed to be able to do that easily and let them know that. And they’ll create something where all you have to do is just remove and replace that image and some of the texts. And then you have something that looks clean that you really didn’t have to start from scratch or spend a lot of time on.

Right. And have them do it in the different sizes, have them do at square for those feeds. And like, like I said, anything, you’re scrolling with your thumb aside from Twitter and have them do it in story size. So you can then put them in your stories as well, which is 10 80 by 1920. And then also have them do a landscape, which is 1920 by 10 80.

It’s basically like it’s landscape. Um, carry the, carry the two. Um, yeah, so just have them create it in all three sizes, just similarly, like designed and then just have multiple templates sets of those done. And then they’re done. I mean, you’re not going to pay much for that on fiber. That’s simple. And all you have to do is just go through.

Rotate them out and you’re good to go. And that’s just the image quote. So does that make sense on the images? Cause I’ll dive into like video in a hot second.

Joe Howard: Yes, it does. I think that there’s a lot of different mediums out there. I’m like thinking of all the social platforms, I don’t even know them all at this point, but I guess you kind of have a, have a template for each one and, and continue to make changes.

It was platforms make changes, but yeah, that makes sense. What about video? Yeah,

Shaina Weisinger: so video and just about the platforms we’ve done a ton of research. Like I was saying, we just had to adjust our stuff for Twitter. So like the square videos will go on. LinkedIn feeds, Instagram feeds, Facebook feeds the landscape videos.

We’ll go on Twitter feeds and then the tall ones will be the story size. So that’ll be Facebook and Instagram stories just to kind of clear that up for everybody. Then as far as video goes, there’s an awesome tool that I love. And it’s called headliner dot. Again, they just started charging for it. I don’t know what the pricing is.

I just got the email from him yesterday or the day before. So I got to go look at it now, but it’s, um, it’s super simple. One of its best capabilities by far is the fact that it will add captions onto your video for you, which is so important because if you don’t have captions on your video, people are going to continue scrolling and you’re not going to get nearly as much engagement on them.

And it’s not like goofy looking captions. Either. You can pick your fonts, you can pick your style, you can make them bigger or smaller. You can do like so many different things in headliner. It’s pretty incredible. It’s been fun to watch them grow because initially it was like put in your audio. It was just for podcasts, put in your audio, take two minutes, your audio and that’s it.

And now they do like full fledged. Like they, they have, uh, probably a Getty image, library and video backgrounds that they can do. You can create templates. You can do like text motion. There’s so much. So you can take like a short snippet of video uploaded into headliner, trim out your in and out points to like up to two minutes, pop it in there.

And then it uses like Google’s AI to translate it. So that it’ll, auto-populate the captions, which sometimes, especially with me. Fast talker and I’m Italian can be hilarious to read the transcriptions because they’re not accurate. Yeah. I know. Keep in mind. It’s Google’s AI, so it’s not a real human being do it.

That’s why it’s so quick. But you have to go through with like, make sure that everything translated properly. What’s nice. Is that it’s a really quick, simple way to do it. I mean, it does take some time. Like there’s always some legwork. If you want to do it yourself, it just kind of is what it is, but it’s definitely a really efficient way to do it.

It’s the most efficient way I have. By far because captions are, what’s really tough to add to an actual video file. Like Facebook, you can upload the caption file and it will populate if peoples, if they’re watching on mute. But the problem is that you can’t do that on Instagram. So if you’re using video on Instagram, you actually have to have the V uh, the caption files on the video.

So that’s what takes care of it. And headliner is that the captions are on the video. You can make them look how you want them to look, and then you may as well just load that to Facebook and be done.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I’ve seen the, when I scroll, when I’ve scrolled on Facebook, it has the videos play without sound. I think you mentioned that already, but that’s do you have to click on it, but I’ve watched videos because they had captions and because, and I didn’t turn the volume on, but I was like, oh, I can see what they’re saying.

So maybe I’ll stay here for a second. And then two minutes later, like, well, I watched the whole video how’d that happen?

Shaina Weisinger: So you literally sat there and watched it for two minutes without the sound on. Like, it just is what it is. It’s crazy to me. Just the world we live in. So, but also one cool thing about headliner that I didn’t mention is that like you can go in and create them in square, and then you can just duplicate your projects and make them story size and landscape.

It’s like they they’ve been awesome. And just developing that, that platform. So it’s definitely worth looking.

Joe Howard: Yeah, very cool. Uh, I’m going to check that out because I think that’s, uh, that sounds like a cool way to kind of get started a little easier on video and make it, make it, give myself the ability to repurpose more easily and not just have to like completely go from scratch every time.

I think that’s where a lot of people get stuck. It’s just like, okay, I’ve got to build it out, build it, build it out in all these different ways when you could just. Build at once duplicated, uh, make minor changes and then have that template moving forward. So next time I want to do Twitter. I just kind of duplicate the template from the last one, same Twitter, uh, template.

And then like you mentioned, swap out image files or swap out some small things and do it that way. I, man, I mean, repurpose house, like just as a general business. Um, did you have, it sounds like you have a background in video. Production and digital marketing shops that, you know, those sound pretty strong as well, but like running a business slash like entrepreneurial stuff, uh, that can be a little bit separate.

That’s one thing that I thought, like, I know the digital marketing side of things and like, I know the landscape pretty well. I can, you know, pick my battles there and put up a pretty good fight in that area. But I found in starting my business, like, man, like there’s a lot of stuff I didn’t know about or think about when I started it.

How things fared for you in terms of. I’m running a business and doing

Shaina Weisinger: all that. I have always, always been like heavily entrepreneurial minded, even as when I was really young, I actually started a business a long time ago and I was doing, I had a company that did game footage for athletics. So when there would be hockey tournaments that came into town, like I would talk to the tournament director.

I would get a list of every single team that was going there. I’d obviously kick them back, whatever, like percentage of sales. And we would contract with like 30 of a hundred teams that were coming into town and I’d have like nine videographers running to different, like hockey ranks, just filming. And we’re, I mean, this was before, you know, you could do it quickly and on your iPhone, but now, you know, then it was like you had to burn DVDs and do the whole thing.

Right. That was like my intro to actually being a business owner. And once. I have, like, I decided to kind of take a step back cause it was growing and I needed to get into like the real world of business. I had like served at restaurants. You know what I mean? I’m like, I need to like understand how businesses work a little bit and go into some something corporate.

Um, so I ended up getting a job that was the, I got a paid education in digital marketing at this job, like the marketing, I was there to do video production. The marketing director took me under his wing and I learned so much just about digital marketing and business that like, I couldn’t have paid for the education I got there.

And that’s when, you know, eventually I ended up with wake brand media a will was client number one, because he’s awesome. Yeah, that was, that was an interesting experience, but it was just so much different than repurpose house because that was okay. Individual gigs. Like if I couldn’t find a guy to film it, I’m filming it.

Like it was. Freelance ish, then this business. And then I sat down with my friend, Russ Perry. He owns design pickle, which is a flat rate graphic design service based in the cloud.

Joe Howard: And some people at MicroComp I think at least a couple of years ago, design, pickle. Yeah.

Shaina Weisinger: Yeah. Super cool company. I went to the Philippines with them and did video production and filmed a bunch of the testimonials.

Graphic designers. I mean, now they have like 300 plus graphic designers full-time out of the Philippines, but then they had like 80 and granted it’s a three-year-old company and it has just like exploded. It’s been amazing to watch their growth, but having been there, like he sat me down. He’s like, listen, you are entrepreneurial minded.

What you’re doing is great, but you need to come up with something that’s scalable. Like, I am happy to help you in any way. Like with ideas, thoughts, you need to pick my brain. Great. So ultimately what ended up happening was. Kind of carbon copied design pickle, but for repurposing content. And I’ll give him credit all day long and he’s like, he’s helped me kind of figure it out.

He’s like, this is what I’ve learned. This is how our best practices are. Don’t make the same mistakes we did. And he’s been an amazing resource to me to figure out like how this works. Like we have full-time employment of, you know, all of our graphic designers and our content hackers is what we call them are in the Philippines.

Full training programs, things like that. So it was really, really helpful to have had somebody who kind of walked the path before and, you know, make the mistakes and was successful in it. Be able to give some guidance there, but as far as like the entrepreneurial mindedness, like mentorship and making sure that you’re always like listening and.

Asking questions. I have no problem being transparent saying I have no idea. And that’s the only way that you learn how to make changes for the better and how to implement things that will help your business grow. And that’s been the humility of that has been super, super helpful because if you don’t ask, you don’t learn.

I certainly don’t know everything. I never will. I hope I never do. That’d be hella boring. So, but mentors have been a huge part of the entrepreneurial journey.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I mean, I love that. That’s a, how many I’m looking at kind of your pricing tables right now. And it reminds me very much of what my company does in terms of just being a productized service.

Uh, I mean the, you know, we haven’t built, you know, necessarily software that people are using, um, which is extremely scalable, but you can make services much more scalable by putting them into these packages, uh, and selling them, uh, for kind of a monthly subscription. So I’m, uh, I’m a big fan. I followed a lot of, uh, The people who’ve done these kinds of productized services in the past, whether it’s in the WordPress space, like what we do, we kind of put these services together.

You know, we do this 24 7 support. And so we’ll put these packages together or these care plans together, people buy them and they get, you know, the services we offer, but there are so many different, uh, areas to do it. And I mean, you’re doing it in the, kind of the con the, the content and repurposing of content area.

Uh, there are people like design pickle who are doing. Design space, but honestly like you name it, like whatever industry you’re doing services in. There’s a way to focus less on kind of the one-off projects and focus more on how do I make this recurring revenue thing? How do I create something that people need?

Not just like this month, but are going to need forever. For the next year, her next two years, the next three years, uh, I think that’s how you create a business that it’s, like you said, it’s, it’s scalable and a lot of sense is much more comfortable. Like you kind of know what your revenue is going to be at by saying like, what’s my revenue this month.

What’s my MRR growth rate in general. Over the past three months, I can say how much my MRR is going to grow. And then I can say, what’s my churn rate. How many people are probably going to leave? So you can make a pretty good estimate of like what your revenue will probably be the next month. And that is.

And enormous difference from just like, if you were just going to do one-time projects for clients, like, who knows what’s gonna happen next month? This is probably a little bit easier. I would, I would think,

Shaina Weisinger: I mean, I transitioned from the one-time projects to the recurring revenue model and like, it is a game changer and honestly, like, and we’re also, like I had mentioned before one time projects where I’m telling them, no, you don’t need more, you know, like, cause I’m trying to also act in the best interest and educate people.

So what’s been really cool about this is that the people who are. What’s cool about like a recurring service is that people who are the right clients are really excited about it consistently because they get the value in it. And they are like super rockstar clients. And they’re diehards, which is really amazing to experience because every month they’re, they’re happy to be a part of, kind of like this family.

And it’s been, it’s been interesting and amazing to experience.

Joe Howard: Yeah, super dope, man. This has been an awesome episode. I’m really thankful that we did this episode because I feel like I learned a lot. Uh I’m sure listeners did as well, but I just, I’m always happy when I have people on I’m like, man, like, Ooh, I need to, it, I’m going to listen to this few times when it comes out.

So,

Shaina Weisinger: so great. I love hearing that. Well, I’m glad I was glad to be asked to come on. This is.

Joe Howard: Yeah, for sure. Uh, let’s uh, we’ll start our wrap up now, but I always tell people, uh, our, I always tell our guests we’ll we always wrap up by letting people know where they can find you online. So sounds like maybe some social media profiles or the website.

What’s a,

Shaina Weisinger: where should people go? Repurpose house.com is the business Shaina weisinger.com is my personal site. Like I do a lot of speaking and training and educating and stuff like that. Um, but on social really anywhere you want to find repurpose house except Twitter. Cause I loathed Twitter, like with just anger and.

I I’m just a big proponent of like, if you’re not going to do it well, just don’t do it. And we don’t do Twitter well at all. So anywhere other than that it’s repurpose house co co or Shaina Weisinger. So you can find the company or me online really anywhere with those two

Joe Howard: handles. Very cool. And the I’ll give you a little.

Uh, an additional place. People can find that, uh, he was at your, do you do a podcast at, uh, over at repurpose house, right? Yes.

Shaina Weisinger: Yeah. It’s called the content coalition. So that’s at the content coalition.com. It’s a page from repurpose house. So it lives there and it’s supposed to funnel into that business, but yeah, there’s, if you go to the content coalition.com, it’ll direct you to the podcast page on repurpose house.

And I mean, just some I’ve been so amazed and humbled by some of the. All the guests really that have come on and just offer their expertise. My big goal with that show is for me to learn as much as I can about content in general. Like the point is to talk to people who crush content really, really well.

And we’ve had, I mean, guests from GoDaddy HubSpot, I mean just the people who are willing to step forward and just educate has been incredible. And so I’ve learned so much. So if, if I learned so much, like I’m just happy to be able to spread the love and get other people to learn as much as I have with that show.

It’s been pretty good.

Joe Howard: Very cool. I’m on the podcast page right now and it’s it’s it’s look, it’s looking pretty good. Uh, I, I have some work to do on our own podcast page. I think you got some nice video here. Image with you on the iPhone. Yeah, maybe I’ve got, I need to get in the canvas a little bit and do some work there.

Shaina Weisinger: There was a lot of Photoshop involved in that.

Joe Howard: Totally cool content coalition. Uh, you have a new listener in me, but I’m sure a lot of people listening now will, uh, pick up, pick up their phones and, uh, and subscribe to the content coalition. Uh, last thing I always ask guests to do is give us, uh, or to ask our audience for a five star iTunes review.

So if you wouldn’t mind just giving our audience a little ask, that’d be all.

Shaina Weisinger: Yeah, guys, please come on to this show page, give them a nice little five star review Alberta. Five-star also, you got there’s more than one thing. You got to actually download the episodes. You got to actually click the five stars and then you have to write a review as well.

So there’s three actions you got to do all three, make it

Joe Howard: happen. There you go. I love it. Uh, and uh, if you’re, uh, leaving. Our review, make sure you tell us what episode you were listening to. Shannon is super awesome. Obviously I have to leave that in the comments so that we can forward it to her and let her know.

She helped us get a little review out there. WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes. We have a redirect setup to make it nice and easy for you to find our iTunes page. New listeners. You already binge your Netflix. You already binged. You already binged your game of Thrones, man, that’s getting exciting. Can’t wait for these final couple of episodes here.

You already binged that. We’ve got a lot of awesome previous episodes feel free to go through and binge, uh, previous episodes of WP MRR podcast. Also content coalition go binge that podcast as well. You know, go look, go download all the episodes. Think sound good right now and go get them. If you have questions for the show, you can email in, uh, yo@wpmrr.com.

I do, man, that email address personally. Uh, and I get back to people like pretty quickly, like, I don’t know if you email, like, I’ll get back to you like, oh, I will email you back at some point. It may not be today, but thanks for being patient, uh, yo@wpmrr.com. That is a wrap. Uh, we will talk to y’all again next Tuesday.

Shana. Thank you again so much for coming on. It’s been real. Thank you.

Podcast

E168 – Project-Based WordPress Work is Becoming Old-School

In today’s episode, we get to listen again to Joe and Christie’s conversation about switching from project-based work to subscription-based model. They also discussed how WordPress developers doing freelance work can focus on creating prototypes of productized services, how engaging in competitor research can help identify flaws in your own products, and the best way to test out what product to build during your free time.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:55 Transition to project-based work to subscription model
  • 06:28 From building a $5,000 website to a $20,000 website
  • 12:34 Prototypes of productized services
  • 14:20 The best way to get into products is to do project-based work
  • 18:03 Engage in competitor research, identify customer needs
  • 23:57 Aim for enough people buying the product in any given hour 
  • 26:35 Moving from project-based to subscription-based 
  • 31:17 When you don’t need full service assistance
  • 34:23 What’s the smallest thing that you can do to figure out if your idea is good? 

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Christie Chirinos: Hey work process. Welcome back the WP MRR WordPress podcast. I’m Christie.

Joe Howard: And I’m Joe.

Christie Chirinos: And you’re listening to the WordPress business podcasts. In the last episode, we’re timeboxing we talked about lessons learned. And one of the things that I learned was I had to take my travel day seriously, unless my travel days plan is to sit around at the place where I am and get work done. I’m not going to be able to squeeze work into my travel day. It was a really interesting lesson for me.

Because, uh, I’m not going to any weddings, but, uh, I think the next time I leave, my apartment will be. Uh, for what KIPP Baltimore. So that’s fun. I’ll be over there speaking. So if you’re there come say, Hey, um, be like, I recognize you from that podcast. That’ll be fun.

Joe Howard: That didn’t happen. A reward camp, New York that was pretty easy.

And Bradley, I think he runs this, uh, this, uh, plugin that runs on top of beaver builder. Uh, he came up Austin dude, but he w he came up and was like, Hey, oh, Christie, like, nice to meet you. Like, I think I’ve seen you on Twitter. And it was just, it was funny. Cause I feel like that always happens. It’s like the word camps are kind of the, uh, IRL, you know, get together for like people that you’ve hung out with on Twitter or on the make WordPress slack group or in Facebook groups or whatever.

Christie Chirinos: I recognize you from the internet. Look at you in the flesh. No internet person. Yeah. Bradley somebody who is going from project-based WordPress work into coming out with products and he’s built out a product that is pretty cool and built upon the work that he was doing. Sounds really exciting. He’s getting good amount of traction.

He’s bootstrapping it. He said, my product is not paying my rent. That is such a huge accomplishment, right? Like totally. Especially in New York city, what you know, so yeah. Yeah. That’s something that we’re going to be talking about today.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Very cool. That Bradley came into the conversation. Shout out.

Bradley. Cool dude. Check out his plugin, but I can’t remember what it’s called. Beaver builder. It’s a beaver beaver builder. Add on plugin.

Christie Chirinos: Uh, hold on. If we’re going to do a shout out. Yeah, we have to do it right. We are terrible. His name is Bradley curve

Joe Howard: Kirby. That’s right. I remember I said, when I met him, dude, your last name is awesome. I used to play that game all the time, which I’m sure.

Christie Chirinos: And his product is called Wallace in line and it is a front end product for beaver builder editing. Pretty cool. Pretty cool guy. And taking that leap going from. Project-based WordPress work, building websites for people to building out products, have other people who build websites or people are going to use to build websites for.

Joe Howard: Boom, that transitions pretty well into what we’re going to talk about today, which is most people who come into the WordPress base are introduced to it at least as WordPress professionals, through building websites for other people. And we kind of think of this as more project based. No, I’m building a website for you.

That’s the task at hand. You’re going to pay me to do that task and I’m going to accomplish that one thing for you. And this is kind of that project based mindset that a lot of people start off in the WordPress space with. But we want to talk about today about how that’s a little bit old school or starting to be kind of somewhat old school.

And how a lot of people are transitioning from doing project-based work to actually focusing more on a subscription model, the, uh, a productized service, like what we do at WP buffs, or maybe even something slightly higher technology, maybe building a plugin and possibly even at theme. So that’s what we want to talk about today.

Christie Chirinos: Brought up like Wallace in line or a caldera for. Joe. Is that how you started out in WordPress? Did you start out by doing project based?

Joe Howard: I very much started off in the WordPress space, but in project based work, I, I was part of the WordPress base. I’ve been part of the WordPress space for a long time. Uh, but a lot of the work that I was doing was kind of on the side of a full-time.

So I was doing consulting full-time and then building websites out as a freelancer has kind of a side gig. And so I was very much doing this project based work. And one of the reasons I actually moved into doing WP buffs and doing this productized service where people pay on a monthly basis and get kind of this, uh, they receive our services, but it’s really kind of packaged as a product to care plan and.

I always had a lot of trouble trying to figure out how to scale building websites. I always felt like I was either, uh, I was making very good money one month because I sold two websites and the next month they wouldn’t make any, because I just, the timing didn’t work out for finding new clients. And this is a big piece of the project-based work that WordPress people do.

I actually think that a lot of people, especially when you enter the WordPress space, Start in this kind of project based work, because you kind of have to learn the technology. You have to learn how WordPress works. You have to get involved with the community. It’s a pretty easy way to introduce yourself into WordPress and to kind of keep it at least somewhat low pressure, because you can always kind of build websites for friends and family, maybe even for yourself for a pet project or a hobby.

Christie Chirinos: Yeah. And definitely the pool is growing of just people that need. This is no short supply, everybody and their mom. In fact, my mom currently wants a website. If anybody wants a side project and it’s easy to get started. I mean, we get a lot of new people at caldera. So we bring on team members who are great at either customer service or whatever they do, but like maybe haven’t touched the WordPress before. And the first thing we have them do is build a WordPress.

Joe Howard: Oh, that’s really cool. Especially for people who are new in the space and to have your support in doing that, they could build something totally about that. So I like that a lot.

Christie Chirinos: Yep. We set them up with hosting. We give them a guiding sheet, but at the end of the day, to do anything with an a WordPress business, I need you to understand posts, pages, menus, custom post types. And so we have you do it. And of course, caldera forms.

Joe Howard: Totally. The challenge really does come in for mostly most of the people that are listening to this podcast, it can be WordPress professionals. And so they’re mostly people who are, have kind of evolved beyond the I’m just starting out with WordPress.

I’m building websites for, you know, $500 thousand dollars. You know, most people who have, uh, been in the WordPress space for a little while has started to move up market a little bit. And they’re kind of more focused on bigger web projects, not everybody, but a good amount of the population are kind of figuring.

Or at least trying to figure out how can I move from building, you know, $1,000 sites to $2,000 sites to $10,000 sites, $20,000 sites. And this is a big step for a lot of people. And it’s a big step up in terms of the work required to do. I mean, if you’re building a $500 site for someone there’s not a lot, that’s going to go into that.

Uh, at least there shouldn’t be for that little bit price, but if you’re building a $20,000 website for someone it’s probably going to be pretty robust, not only is the technology going to be robust, probably some customization in the WordPress, probably, you know, it may not just come from a theme or a template or a plugins from the repository.

There are also things like you have to make sure you hop on your discovery call. You know, you have to do monthly check-ins or daily check-ins for some people who want them. There’s a ton of communication that has to go on. Uh, there’s just, there are a lot more requirements for a website of that magnitude.

And so if you’re trying to build a business around that, it does present a challenge in doing that just because of. So much more to do. And if you’re trying to do 10 projects at one time, that’s a lot of moving pieces.

Christie Chirinos: It’s huge. And what’s interesting is the bigger they get, the more there is on the line. And I suppose that there are ways in which you can think of yourself like, oh, I’m going to grow this agency. I’m going to be the next 10 up. I’m going to be the next human made. I’m going to teach other people how to do that. But I think that tends to be something that is harder than it seems as are all things.

Joe Howard: Yeah, very much so. And those are two great examples of companies that are very well-known in the WordPress space that do awesome work for their clients. 10 up human made most people in the WordPress space have heard of these companies. The one thing I will say about both of those companies is for people who are just kind of getting into.

The agency world, and it building websites for people. These two, aren’t always the best examples of businesses. Exactly. Like your small business that have just scaled to a large, to a larger company or a larger business. They’ve really shifted from working downmarket to going up market, which really just means they’re not always focused on building websites for small businesses.

A lot of their business comes from. Large businesses from enterprise, which is a really different business than kind of a small agency. That’s building even $10,000, $20,000 sites, very different businesses, very different audiences. And so again, the, and these companies are awesome. Uh, use a lot of like the human made, they open sourced.

They’re hiring. Their whole hiring book, which I literally have a repeating task in, in teamwork projects to look at it every month to like steal more stuff from them, honestly. So Cuban made. Thanks for that. Uh, it’s totally awesome. But just to keep in mind that if you’re thinking like I want to be the next human made around to be the next, oh, my company to be the next tenet, it’s going to be, uh, we’re kind of talking apples and oranges there.

I’m sure that a lot of people listening think about a $10,000 website and they’re like, that would be awesome. Yeah. That would

be successful. That’s awesome.

Christie Chirinos: Yeah, that is awesome. I mean, that’s a huge win and I think there’s a lot of people who are successful with the 10 to $20,000 website. Right. And the not 10 upsize, but definitely more than one person type agency.

How do they figure it out? See, I never really went down that path.

Joe Howard: Yeah. So I think a great resource for this is something like WP elevation. So if you’ve not heard of WP elevation, it’s a community of WordPress consultants. Uh, it’s, it’s pretty widely known as one of the best communities for. Uh, and so there, they have a whole video course, no community around helping people be better WordPress consultants and build better freelancing careers, better agencies, WP elevation member of full transparency.

Uh, and I really love it. I I’m, I’m just speaking from personal experience here, but the community is awesome. A lot of people doing cool stuff, the. Resources are there to build a successful business like this. I think that’s one thing I want to make sure we’re pretty clear about what kind of talking about how project based thinking is a little bit, it starts to become a little bit old school that does not at all mean that you can’t be successful building websites for people.

Of course you can. A lot of people in the WordPress space do it. One of the challenges does come in. Of like market’s really saturated there. Everyone. And their mom is building websites for people except Christie’s mom, apparently who still needs a website.

Christie Chirinos: So she needs a website. She is not getting into being a professional WordPress developer

Joe Howard: with so many people, building websites for people.

The easiest way, usually to build a successful business is really to differentiate yourself from your company. So WP boss, we have a few big differentiators between us and other maintenance companies that are really significant. It’s literally a reason why people will work with us and not another company in the project-based work in terms of building websites.

There are probably thousands of other people that do that just in your area, especially if you’re living in a big city or highly populated place. So differentiating yourself is really hard and I think it becomes harder and harder every day with more people building websites. Again, it doesn’t mean it’s not possible, but.

It’s not always, it may not always be the right choice, especially if you have other options for business models or how you’re going to run your business.

Christie Chirinos: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and I do think that I’m seeing more and more people and more and more agencies of multiple sizes catch onto that. You see people who have been running hugely successful agencies, breaking out into products or product high services.

You see people who have been running perfectly successful two-person agency. Breaking into productized services. We’re seeing that more and more. I’m seeing that in my work at the end of the day, a lot of what people use caldera forms for is, um, setting up these kinds of prototypes for prototypes service and automated way to buy.

Uh, service, um, and pay for it and select what you want via conditional logic. So we’re seeing that, um, I’m watching it grow, , we’re still seeing a lot of people who are coming in and, uh, making a site and getting around WordPress in that way.

Joe Howard: Yeah, totally. Not only that, I I’m seeing people also not just productizing their services, but a lot of agencies are going into the plugin area as well. They have a client who needed a custom plugin built and we realized, oh, a thousand other people probably need this and we’ll pay for it too. And so it comes in and the plugin spaces.

Christie Chirinos: Yeah, that’s actually a lot of how caldera forms grew. Um, a lot of people will ask me how that caldera firms come about and, you know, full transparency, Josh Pollack. And I did not create Calera forums. Cause there are forms it’s originally created by a south African developer named David Kramer. Who’s super talented, but how did it grow?

Right and become what it became was, well, you know, David made it because it was something that he needed just like, uh, Joe just said, people outline, um, that’s why getting into products the best way to get into products, to do projects, because you see what people need. You learn about the wide gaps between tools that we have available needs that people have.

Something that’s always cracked me up as the second. You take a look under the hood of how the web works. You realize it’s all being held by toothpicks, and there’s a lot of opportunity.

Joe Howard: I say the same thing I say, life is held together by it’s all held together by duct tape, or it’s all held together by zip ties.

Christie Chirinos: It’s all held together by duct tape and that’s an opportunity for. Somebody coming in doing a project to identify the things that were painful for you, and then realize that you could solve those problems for other people. That’s a call their forms came about. And then the way that it grew was that we use that framework to solve other problems.

So we wanted a better contact form. Now we had existed. Now we wouldn’t have better content from that could link up the MailChimp. Now that existed. We wanted a contact form. Uh, that could actually be just a form maker who could not, could be used for registrations applications with multiple pages of conditional logic.

And we made all of those things happen and we solved a lot of people’s problems. We were helpful and that’s how the product took on a life of its own. So I think a lot of the idea for a product or a productized service can come from doing project-based WordPress work and. Feeling the pain yourself of what’s missing and then thinking to yourself, well, can I develop the skills to feel the pain of what’s missing with that said, I also definitely talked to a lot of people who feel a pain and then they’re like, I’m going to solve this.

Right. And then they’re the only person that feels that pain. So it’s important to get out there and to talk to real customers and to make sure that you’re not sinking your time into something, thinking that it’s going to have promise and actually finding that it’s not the case and using clever and moderate budget ideas to get the word out there are really good when we’re talking to.

This Bradley curvy, um, developer who created this Wallace inline product he mentioned that he did a pretty elaborate launch campaign, where he got people excited about what he was doing and create a sense of urgency for launch. And that was a good way to see if people actually cared about the thing that he was building and would pay him for the investment of time that he was making.

But. Products come in all shapes and sizes. Uh, there is a saying that I saw once. That was interesting. It said you can have product ideas from what you’re currently doing in your work in spreadsheets. Yeah, right. So if you’re doing some sort of management of something in a spreadsheet, could you create a product that could make that a more seamless process, um, with less steps for yourself solving the problems that we have ourselves is a really great way to get into products and start selling.

And making money, um, when you’re not directly exchanging your time at an hourly rate.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I hear that completely. In terms of caldera stuff. I want to even dive into this a little more because I’m super interested in this space as someone who’s not in it. It’s super funny. We’re doing this podcast together.

We know each other really well. I didn’t even know any of that background in terms of caldera. Um, so it’s cool to hear that. And that I think a lot of people think like plugin development, like you have to build something from scratch. That is not the only way to get into the plugin game or to find something that you’re really passionate about.

There are other ways as well. So when you and Josh first kind of decided to do. Into this more kind of subscription-based area of WordPress in terms of that first thing you were going to build out, how did you guys really decide? Maybe you said MailChimp MailChimp petition was one of the first ones you did.

Like, did you have customers who said like, I need this MailChimp thing. Is that kind of how you, you had that idea that, that that was gonna be your next step or your first step?

Christie Chirinos: I came way later down the road, um, caldera forums. The first series of ad-ons for it, we’re actually search ad-ons because that was something that the WordPress space very seriously lacked.

And it was a very niche little room where when people needed really powerful search solutions, there weren’t that many options. And so word press of Oliver’s people doing project-based work, um, had a need in which they would have to have a more complex search form, uh, maybe with check boxes with faceted search.

And so this contact form plugin. Also became this tool to create powerful search boxes that could sort out, uh, products or blog posts or whatever it might be. Because when you think about it, that’s a simple form. And it grew from there say somebody would use that and they would use the search form. And they would say, I like this search form.

I wish that only. A registered user of the site could use it. Yeah. Let’s make that for you. I wish that they could do that and that they could use the search form and then click into the result and then change the results that they see. Okay. Let’s do custom fields or front end editing. And that’s how the product grew.

That’s how the add on library group. Um, until there was actually a bit of profit to start looking around and sniffing around what other people were doing and think. Other potential options that are similar to this product, what are they doing? Oh, they’re selling MailChimp. They’re selling PayPal, right?

Let’s try and get some of those high interest, high ticket customers. Yeah.

Joe Howard: A lot is said about differentiating yourself from other products and trying to do things differently. But a lot of the times like, In this case, the having a form that connects with MailChimp is something that not just, you know, your competitors needed something that you need as well, because there’s, the market is so big out there.

So it makes sense to build something like that based on a little bit of competitive research.

Christie Chirinos: Exactly. So it was a matter of learning about what people like us needed and also engaging in competitor research. What was out there seeing what holes existed and seeing where we could exist. An important thing to keep in mind when we’re thinking about this kind of work is that this pie is growing.

That’s what all the data tells us is that we’re not all fighting over a limited pie because there are more and more people waking up every morning saying I’m going to start a business and I need a website.

Joe Howard: Yeah. And WordPress has grown about a percentage every year for, as, as far back as I can remember, at least for the last five years or so.

It’s been, you know, we’ve gained at least one percentage of overall web market share every year. So it’s definitely.

Christie Chirinos: Yeah, and that is for a reason, right? It’s because we are undergoing an information revolution and the way that business is working is changing and something like a large open source content management system is powering a lot of it.

Um, there are a lot of use case specific CMSs that aren’t WordPress, um, especially for things like non-profits and, um, for specific lines of business, There’s still the factor that more and more people are coming in every day and they’re saying, well, I want the new website. And so there’s a lot of room to improve on the existing products.

There’s a lot of room and that was a big factor of caldera forums, right. How they cut their forums. Show up in a world that already had plenty of form plugins for WordPress. The fact of the matter was that we were not focusing on stealing customers from gravity forms. We were not focusing on getting people who are using something else to switch to us.

Certainly there have been people who have, because they love the product and the quality and the team, but we were focusing on those brand new websites. We were focusing on those new agencies that were coming up and I’m making sure that we. The problems of the modern website builder. And that’s what our website says, right?

It says we solve the problems with modern website builder because this stuff is changing. It’s hard to keep up with, but that’s an opportunity.

Joe Howard: Yeah. And what you just said is super important too, because with so many new people coming into WordPress, there is a space to be, become an, uh, a new agency owner and to launch an agency and, and to be successful because there are still more people coming in to WordPress.

That being said, That also means more WordPress users in general means that people need everything from plugins to themes, to hosting, to WordPress support. And because WordPress is growing, I feel like everybody is focused on because WordPress is growing. Like let’s all go towards the beginning of that.

Uh, kind of, I guess, sales cycle, you know, the, the new people in. And that’s the reason so many people are pushing into building websites for new WordPress people, but there’s still a huge space because the entire space is growing to, to be, uh, doing something that’s a little bit farther into two people’s WordPress.

Yeah. So I think there’s space to be providing ongoing support for people and to be building plugins and, or starting plugging companies or some companies that there’s still a lot of opportunity out there for those kinds of people. Tell us about some stumbling blocks, anything that, what was, what’s the hardest part about, about doing this?

Because although I support very much this productized service and going more towards this pay a monthly subscription. Your services or your product. There are challenges there too. Did cause caldera running anything

Christie Chirinos: big, doing things like productized services and products are a completely different ballgame from doing freelancing when you have, well, let me not say freelance and let me say project based work.

You have a goal. You have a process. There’s a finish line when you’re talking about products. Almost none of those things are true. If you want to calculate your hourly rate, that’s going to be at the depressing exercise. And always, at least until you figure out that growth and you figure out that product market fit and you actually start selling, but you’re going to make a lot of mistakes.

And. There’s a saying among the product world that, you know, um, if you need to raise a little bit of money, just do some consulting, right? It’s just like the fastest way of making a little bit of cash. Why? Because you exchange your expertise and your time for money and products. Aren’t like that, that.

Immediate return on your time doesn’t happen. And there can be a lot of instances in which you think it’s going to go really well. And it doesn’t, and that’s something that’s really hard to get used to, um, that you’re taking bigger risks, um, or potentially bigger rewards, but they’re bigger risks. The other thing, that’s a bit of a stumbling block for us was learning to delegate.

Um, since we all came from a project-based, uh, environment, figuring out that a product owner’s job is to create a system that exists without you was a really difficult thing for us to wrap our heads around. And so we would think, well, you know, this is a project, let’s do it, but if you’re making a product, what you’re aiming for is that.

Enough people are buying that product in any given. That you’re getting more money than you would for a given hour. So that means that the margins behind what you’re making each hour and what you’re spending each hour and a half to work, it’s completely different than showing up and charging an hourly rate for a project, which you execute and you conduct and adjusting our minds and twisting them into that shape.

After doing project work was really tough for us.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I mean, similarly for us WP bus doesn’t do pure product. We don’t build any plugins, but the concept of moving from project based to subscription-based was it like the business model was completely different. And so the thought process behind everything is so different.

That was probably the hardest part of transitioning from kind of being a freelancer and building websites to providing ongoing support was just like, this is really. It’s like running a completely different business. Um, the KPIs, you know, these key performance indicators in terms of just like the goals of the company, like what markers you want to hit, you know, for project based work can be really different for project based work.

You may be looking at like how many new customers come in the door. Um, maybe looking at, you know, your, your one-time revenue that’s come in for, for us doing subscription. We’re talking more like what’s our monthly recurring revenue. You know, what’s our lifetime value of a customer. What’s the churn of our customers.

And these things are things that people do. Project based work, uh, have not been focused on a lot, uh, in their past, which they probably shouldn’t have been because it wasn’t pertinent. But moving into this area, definitely something to focus on.

Christie Chirinos: That’s exactly right, because that’s how you create that scalability, right?

Like people think, oh, scalability is coming from, um, this product can sell when I’m not working. And that’s not really quite the case where it comes from is that this product can be created and maintained in its own little ecosystem. And that’s what you were trying to do. You’re trying to create an ecosystem.

It’s a different kind of thinking and it’s totally approachable. But when you’ve been thinking a certain way, it’s really tough. Turn left.

Joe Howard: Yeah. The whole idea behind ongoing support and in itself being a different business model, isn’t all bad fit. And this is one of the reasons I wanted to talk about it is because I actually think it’s much easier to scale a business like WP buffs than it would be to scale a business.

It’s building websites again, not saying that the, an agency that builds websites can’t grow to become a great company, but I found it way easier to scale the company that does the ongoing support. A few reasons are because the pricing is a little bit lower, you know, especially if you’re charging $10,000, $20,000 for a website, 50,000 actual website.

That’s something that a bigger businesses, you know, maybe able to afford, but. For us, like our most expensive plants, like $400 a month. Most people get on plants are around $150 a month. So it’s a much easier pill to swallow, I think. And so people, uh, I think are more likely to want to sign up for something like that.

Um, because the price is just right for them. That’s, that’s one reason. I think it’s a little easier. The second is because just in general. I like the idea of building a WordPress plugin, however, to build a WordPress plugin, you have to be somewhat technical or have pretty technical I’d say, or have someone who’s pretty technical on your team.

When I launched WP buffs, I brought on people who were technical in the WordPress and the WordPress knowledge, uh, you know, the new PHP, HTML, CSS. But I think it was much easier to start a business like WP Bluffs that provides the ongoing support. Then it probably would have been to start a plugin company from scratch.

And so I think it’s a really happy medium between project based work, which you can, I think you can transition from project based work to something like doing WordPress ongoing work. Care plans for people. I think that switches pretty straightforward. There is that whole shift in business model and shift and thinking, but it’s not a huge leap from project based work.

Plugins, I think is a little bit Harrier when you get into the nuts and bolts of it in terms of the technical stuff you didn’t know. But I think the only one supports a pretty easy bridge to walk across. If you’re thinking about doing something that’s more subscription.

Christie Chirinos: I would agree with that. Certainly our business caldera WP, um, innovates a lot on, uh, What we’re doing, right. It’s not just a matter of cranking something out. And, you know, there are ways to create plugins that simply fill a need, um, that don’t necessarily have to be like the newest shiniest thing, but just do a one thing really well.

WordPress is a lot of room for that, but I think that most people want to be product creators. They want to create something new for sure. Yeah. And, um, I think that it does make a difference when you’re talking about a product high service, when you’re already really good at something. And really what you’re doing is you’re figuring out a repeatable process that you can then sell and just do it faster.

And, you know, the way P buffs is an amazing example of that. And there are other really cool companies that, um, um, that were, that caldera is a customer of.

Yeah, well, the people I’ll just one of them. Uh, uh, but we also use Pathfinder SEO. Uh they’re like DIY SEO. So this is kind of cool. It talks to, um, Joe’s mentioned of the happy medium between projects and, um, and hardcore development, right?

Like, uh, Pathfinders, not Yost. But they’re also not, um, an SEO consultant that does everything for you. They kind of just put together a platform that helps you help yourself. And that can go a really long way when it comes to businesses that are strapped for cash and are, you know, pretty good with a computer.

You don’t need full service, something. You just need a little bit of help, but. At an affordable price and it really just hits a need. Um, I think hit metrics and the example that Joe and I, yeah, we’re both big head metrics fans these days. Those guys have a good thing going, and it’s the same thing.

They’re productizing a service, they’re figuring out ways to do the thing that they do faster. They know that Christmas comes every year and that they can create a series of repeatable tasks to do things like. You know, analyze data. It all looks the same on all websites except for a couple of percentages of differences.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Yeah. So hit metrics is it’s, uh, analysts. It’s it’s two guys who run this company. Um, maybe a couple of contractors there too, but their stick pretty much is we’ll help you with all your analytics. We’ll help you with your conversion optimization. We’ll do this, this work for you and it’s project-based work, but it’s you pay for on a monthly basis.

And so. They’re kind of changed this from like, let me do this project for this cost to let me, you know, I’ll charge you a flat rate every month and then we’ll provide the service for you every month. And I think that business model is really smart. It’s it’s the same as WP buffs. And the reason I think it’s smart is because.

In my mind, there are a ton of people out there who use WordPress, who can’t afford a full-time technical person or a full-time CTO, but that’s kind of WP buffs, exact stick. It’s like pay us monthly subscription. You don’t get a full-time CTO. But when you do get as a part-time WordPress CTO, chief technical officer, for those who are not acronym friendly, but it allows people to.

Hey, you know, a more modest fee to have someone who’s part-time, uh, on their website, but we also have a team behind it. So it’s really kind of the best of both worlds. You get 24 7 support, but also at a less expensive price and metrics is doing something very similar, right? You’re paying a monthly subscription.

Uh, and you’re, I don’t re those guys don’t work full time for WP buffs. They don’t work full-time for caldera, but what they do give you is a few hours of good work every month. That really helps. Get the data you need to move your business forward. And so, yeah, I’m a big fan. All right. Very cool. Anything else, Christie, that we want to touch on today before we finish this off?

Christie Chirinos: I don’t think so. I think. If you are someone who is doing project-based work, and you’re thinking about moving onto products, there are a lot of really interesting resources to get started. We’re trying to be one of them. And what really matters is to think of this idea of a minimal investment of your time.

What’s the smallest thing that you can do to figure out if your idea is good. You can build the most beautiful, most perfect most feature rich product of your dreams in the future. But what can you do with a couple of days? To figure out if somebody would pay you money for your idea. It’s how to find the space between sinking in a huge investment in their returns and how to figure out how to quickly create an ecosystem that creates monthly recurring revenue, um, in a way that is scalable and can grow beyond what you can do in 24 hours.

Joe Howard: Totally. And for people who are in the WordPress space and based more on kind of the agency, the old school agency model, um, or freelancing, and your main thing is building websites. I would definitely think about what your business could look like with more predictable revenue and what it could look like when you focus more on monthly recurring revenue.

And as opposed to one time. Uh, I think a lot of people do these one-time projects and they kind of live and die month by month based on how well that month went. And it’s kind of a toss of the coin. Uh, when you focus more on project or less on project based work and more on, uh, kind of productizing your service and having people pay you monthly for what you do, you can really predict how much you’re going to make month over month.

And you can build that this is totally something we haven’t even said on the podcast yet. Uh, For those people listening WP MRR is actually more than just a podcast. What it’s actually a whole video course that teaches you as an agency owner or someone who focused on project based work, how to, uh, influx your business with a more, uh, recurring monthly recurring.

Focus. And so if you’re just building websites, this is going to teach you how to sell care plans to your current clients, to new clients. And, you know, within six months, be able to say, you know, I’m going to be making $8,000 next month. You know, I know that for a fact, because. You know, this is how much I made last month.

This is how many new care plans we sold. And so this is how much I’m going to make this month and not have to worry about. I made a lot of money this month. I didn’t make any last month that am predictability, can kill some businesses. So feel free to check out WP mrr.com. If you’re interested in the video course, we’ll wrap it up there.

That’s all for this week. As always, if you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave us a quick review. On iTunes. Um, if you, well, if you want to leave us a five star review, you can leave a review on iTunes. If you want to leave us at 1, 2, 3, or four star review, you don’t even have to. It’s cool. Like don’t even worry about it.

So good. But these are, uh, these five-star reviews do help us get found by other people who are looking for WordPress podcasts, which has a lot of WordPress professionals. So that would be great. Super duper cool of you to just take a couple minutes and just leave a quick review. Tell us how you’d like to show

yeah. That’s it. Well, that’s it for this week.

We will catch y’all in the next episode.

Podcast

E167 – Telling Stories that Close Deals (Chris Lema, Liquid Web)

In today’s episode, we get to listen again to Joe’s chat with Chris Lema, Liquid Web’s Vice President of Products and General Manager at LearnDash. He is a well-known blogger and public speaker, and leads the product teams to develop and launch Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce product lines.

Chris enthusiastically talks about the concept behind BeachPress and CaboPress, and what can potentially happen in these meetings. He also tackled the growth of e-commerce, how WooCommerce as an open platform creates more opportunities for a lot of businesses, and providing customers hassle-free access to plugin updates on their sites.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:48 What is BeachPress?
  • 05:06 Be in a conversation with people in your circle
  • 07:21 The CaboPress
  • 12:31 Bringing SaaS people to CaboPress
  • 14:47 SaaS platforms that do e-commerce
  • 19:49 Looking at period over period growth
  • 22:45 Partnership with Glue
  • 27:01 The building blocks of a great storytelling
  • 33:16 Fun stuff and new pricing at Liquid Web
  • 35:18 Having e-commerce played out on open platforms
  • 38:33 The ability to update plugins automatically
  • 39:55 Find Chris online

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: Yo good WordPress people. Welcome back to the WP MRR podcast. Live from beach press I’m Joe.

Chris Lema: I’m C3 PO.

Joe Howard: And you’re listening to the WordPress business podcast. We’ve got three PO on the podcast this week. What’s going on 3:00 PM.

Chris Lema: I’m doing well.

Joe Howard: Good, good. What’s so we, I, every time we have a show, I’m always like, at some point we’ll have the real character on.

That’d be cool, but no three people on the show this week, but we do have the one and only Chris lemma on the podcast. I’m saying that. Right, right. Lemme see how it’s pronounced. Right.

Chris Lema: That’s right. You got it.

Joe Howard: All right. Solid cool, man. Well, this is great that I get to talk to you at beach press. Um, this is an events you’ve thrown for how many years now?

Chris Lema: Wow. I, uh, attended the second beach press. I co-hosted the third and now I’m running the fourth. So it’s run four times. I’ve been at three of them. Uh, the founder of beach press is a guy named Justin Sandon. Who’s up in. Oregon. And the first three were up there. This is the first one we’re doing in Southern California.

Joe Howard: Cool. I was looking around for Justin. I was like, okay, got to meet Justin, got to make sure he’s here. And then I was like, Ugh, I felt a little pressure. Like, oh, did I miss his name? Did I not meet him? But he’s not. He didn’t, wasn’t able to tend this time. Nope. He has a daughter. Who’s having a. Gotcha. Uh, priorities.

Great reason to not make it. Yeah, I was, I, uh, the word camp DC had its first word camp in a long time and I was super stoked to go. I didn’t end up going because I got married that day. So same thing. It was like, okay, I guess that was a good choice. But man, beat press awesome event, similar to a Cabo press.

Another event that you throw, get a bunch of people together to beach house talking WordPress coworking. It sounds like a party. And at sometimes it is a little bit of one, but a lot of it there’s a lot of value here. I just would love to dig in. Well, uh, the things you do with events, why do you end up joining things like beach press and actually kind of running them?

Chris Lema: So beach press specifically was a fantastic idea. I would have never come up with right Justin hadn’t. He wrote it on Twitter. Hey, why? Don’t a group of all of us who mostly work alone, uh, rent a big house on the beach and we’ll all co-work together. Wait a minute. We’re going to go to an event where we work.

And then when I went, right, it was fantastic. It was amazing. Cause there’s a lot of collaboration that. A lot of discussion while people are still getting their work done. And most people in the WordPress ecosystem don’t work for companies. They either work for their own or they’re freelancers, or they’re doing their own little initiatives and they work out of their house.

They work out of a coffee shop. So they’re alone a lot. And there’s lots of ways you mitigate that. You get on video calls and such, but doing something where everybody can get together, you have group meals, you hang out, you can ask questions or connect with someone that you haven’t met. I just thought it was a fantastic event.

And after the second one, there was a couple years of pause because it just hadn’t financially made sense to run it again. And it’s a lot of work. And so last year I approached Justin and. Can I help you, right. If I take care of all the finances, can we do it again? Right. And we did. And it turned out that the beach house that we rented and the week that we rented it in, it rained all week and for 10, and while it rained all week, we still had a great time.

It was a lot of fun, but then. There’s nothing anchoring this specifically to this beach three hours away from the Portland airport. So if we do it again next year, maybe we bring it down to Southern California, which my house is about 15 minutes from here. And so it makes it a lot easier to navigate and manage.

And I knew the company that rents these houses on the beach. And so, so we tried it right, and this year has been fantastic. People are enjoying themselves. I love working on bringing groups, people to get. Making sure that people engage well, making sure they eat well. And if you can take care of sleep and eating and bringing the right people together, there’s no limit to all of what happens after the fact, right?

Just because you created the right context and cup of press is a little bit like that, a little different, it’s not a coworking event. It’s a business event for folks predominantly in the WordPress ecosystem. And again, it’s all about create the right environment, help people relax, be really judicious about who’s invited and then give them the free time. Beyond the educational stuff, give them the free time to really.

Joe Howard: Yeah, I’ve talked with a few people and a few people have recorded podcasts here that we’ve talked about. This idea that it feels like if you get a bunch of WordPress business owners together, whether you’re a business owner or whether you’re just kind of a driven individual, whatever, there’s so much value in getting everyone together in one place so that you can have this feeling of like, we’re all kind of in it together.

Like we all have these challenges. We all have these maybe places we Excel as well as we can help other people with. But like, But it’s going to take a team effort. And that team effort is not just like my team, like at my company or your team or your company. It’s like, we’re all we can all be on the same WordPress team.

Right. And I think that’s added a lot of value to me. I mean, we had some conversations last night where, you know, I was, I was with you. And Steve. And I was like, man, I wish I had my notebook here. Like I can’t put, I’m not writing this stuff down, you know? And I’ve had a few moments like that with a bunch of people. So it’ll definitely be some, some stuff afterwards that I’ll have to come back on.

Chris Lema: Yeah. I think one of the things you discover is that, and you know, this podcast all about MRR or named MRR, you realize that someone else may have tried. That you are about to try and wouldn’t it be nice to have that conversation and be like, how did you do this?

Or what did you do? Right. So yesterday we’re sitting here and we’re talking with Mendel and he’s talking about this new initiative he’s doing. And he’s talking with Carrie deals and the two of them are having this conversation and I don’t want to interrupt, but I go. Right. Don’t make the price on cars this way may start with a basic price.

And then you use order bumps to do this other thing. And immediately you’re like, oh yeah, that changed. That solves this problem that solves this one. Well, why, why go through all of that? Where you build it on your own, you launch it on your own, you struggle with it on your own. And then you have to figure out how to experiment on your own.

Why not have places where you can connect and ask other questions? And then someone else says, oh, have you thought about this? Whether or not they do it right. Getting people together to spark the conversation and to. How would I drive my MRR up? How would I mitigate people who walk away? How do you know, how do I do conversion better or anything else in business?

You know, most of the people that you’re working with are worried about writing code or they’re worried about QA or support calls. So the business conversations are a lot harder to have. Paul some people together and have the conversation.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s true. So coming to things like Beatrice is very valuable for me in terms of my personal growth in terms of being a business owner in terms of pushing my business forward.

The other thing that I think is extremely valuable masterminds, I do the thing where I get people together and we’re very direct about, okay, we’re here to help each other solve problems. You know, we each present an issue. We each kind of have some commentary and talk about our own experiences with that.

And you always find that, of course. Help with your own challenge. We hear someone else have a challenge. You’re like, that’s kind of a challenge I have like that’s I have something in that vein that helps me too. And the whole conversation helps you as a whole and you come out of those calls and you’re just like, whoa, like, okay, like I can level up way faster now because I’ve just, someone took five minutes of their time to just say something.

And the same thing as you did yesterday, it was like this one thing just flipped. Like sometimes it’s hard to see when you’re in it, but if someone else is from outside, they have that experience or they have that viewpoint. They can just give you one little light bulb moment and you can switch it. So very cool.

So beach press and Cabo press is a little bit more, um, directed towards business owners. I guess this is more coworking, but that one’s more. Business development, maybe like similar to like, I don’t know, like a post status publish or like a or B in the same vein, I guess, as opposed to just publish or, uh, something more WordPress business centric.

Chris Lema: Yeah. I mean, in so far as post status publish or PressNomics or any of these, those are still pre the modality of that event is that you sit and you listen to a bunch of people talk. I don’t know about you, but what I can tell you is. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed and also tired and also take nothing away because a super cool idea that you got at nine got replaced by the next, oh, that could be interesting idea at 10, got replaced by the next idea that maybe I have this problem at 11 and by 12 and one and two and three.

And you’re like, I’m just, I’m beat. I’m tired. The modality of being in a sit down and listen only ingest. Is not the conference I wanted to go to anymore. Right. So Cabo press is completely unlike those events though. It targets some of the same audience and tries to deliver. In some cases, some similar value.

What you have at cobble press is an event where you have discussed. There’s no lectures. So you have, uh, someone who’s going to be the moderator of a conversation and they will kick off the conversation. So let’s see, you’re talking about how to raise prices, right? And particularly, you’re talking about how to raise prices in the service game or how to raise prices in the product game.

Joe Howard: It’s a good conversation because I’m always thinking about how to do this.

Chris Lema: So go on. So you get in a group and you start having a conversation. Well, yes, the moderator or the host of the conversation has deep experience to talk about. But there’s 20 other people in the group who like, here’s what I tried.

Here’s what I tried. And it worked. Here’s what I tried. And it didn’t work. Hey, how come this didn’t work? And you’re having a conversation, very engaging, but also that’s one of two conversations, two topics you cover in a day. So from nine to 10 30, there’s a discussion. And from 10 30 to noon, there’s a discussion.

And I sit for the day. So now you have. From 12 to the rest of the night, right. To let those thoughts percolate, you’re still with that audience. So you can circle back and say, Hey, you said you had this great idea. Can you tell me more? Like, it sounded great that service, but I have lots of questions. So then circle back and have more conversation and talk more.

Right. And that makes it for the most relaxed environment to potentially change your mind. Right. What we know is that people have to unfreeze. From the previous paradigms they’ve been in, then you have to inject new concepts and then they freeze those concepts back down. Right? You have to remove stress from the situation for people to unfreeze.

If people are super tense, stressed, upset, defensive, they’re not going to ingest new new ideas. Right? So I created an event that allows people to relax at the deepest levels of five star resort, you know, on a beautiful beach and unlimited food and drink. And then you get these people together and you start having these conversations.

The last year we did it. We included SAS people, right? Not necessarily WordPress specific. Great conversations. And then you have lunch in groups. So you have that consistency of circling back and talking to the same group every day. So you have that accountability, that consistency, and then the whole afternoons are free.

And so you see a lot of additional conversations, a lot of engagement people leave regularly with one or two, maybe three ideas that will completely change their business. We’ve seen companies triple their revenue in the course of a year, quadruple their revenue of course, a year because of a single idea that they took away.

And there’s no rules for me. You know, you can’t do that at a work camp. You can’t do that at an event that is connected specifically to the product in a way that there are certain rules. Right. My event, my conference run my way and I get to change all the rules and that was exciting to do.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s awesome. And I, I think there’s a lot of value in what you said about, I think a lot of people think, man, Thousand things I have to do with my business to improve things, to get more MRR, to improve sales, et cetera. And a lot of people are focused on if I make these hundred thousand small changes, that’ll have one big change, but a lot of the time it’s one, two, maybe three things that you see that are like, oh, let’s just switch this around or let’s do this a little differently.

And it totally changes the game for your business. We had a, we have a white label program that people could join previously. They could just say, well, I want to work with. We switched that to an application process instead. And that was like a very small change, but it made a huge difference in terms of like getting higher quality partners in there.

So, yeah, I think that’s a really cool and important concept for people that you sometimes want to take small steps, but sometimes you have to sit back and look at the bigger picture and really, really take that in. I went to MicroComp. To me, that was hugely eye-opening as someone who runs a business focused on MRR and subscription-based service learning about lifetime value, learning about churn for your business, all of the above.

It gave me a whole new viewpoint to look for. So it’s cool that you were bringing in people who work more in SAS and little less than WordPress, if not even in WordPress at all. Because I think that there’s an overlap there. That’s really powerful. You know, we’ve seen some success at offs by being in the middle of those two kinds of business, my business areas.

And I think other people can too. So was that kind of, you’re a participant, like looking out at SAS, people that you have some SAS people in your network. We were like, I think this would be a good match for you.

Chris Lema: So I started building SAS software in 98. 1998. So I’ve been doing SAS, predominantly enterprise software products back.

We call them first. We said websites. And then we said web applications. And then we said, application service providers. And then we changed to software as a service. So my default and my inclination is that everything should be SAS. And so that’s my first love. So when I went to the, I think it was the second MicroComp.

There was like three WordPress people there. Right. And I think last years I didn’t go to this year or this last year is with a year before, you know, I don’t know, like, you know, 50 people. Right.

Joe Howard: I went to the, I meet up there and it was like, oh, there are 50 people here. Like, I didn’t know this many WordPress people were like SAS.

Chris Lema: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s, it’s definitely, so I’ve always wanted to pull more SAS folks into Cal press because I felt like. When I’ve attempted to message to most of the owners in the WordPress space, specifically, product owners is shift to SAS shift to SAS. And so I thought, well, this year I can just bring some of them to help some of that conversation happen and help people.

Now they’ve heard me say it over and over. You know, they’re, they’re more ready to have the next conversation. I fundamentally think that every plugin developer who’s writing a plugin and selling a premium version should make it a SAS rather than just a standalone plugin.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I think from what I’ve learned in this space, it’s a more scalable model, especially then.

Almost anything one time. I think that’s a kind of a good lead into things you’re doing at, at liquid web, actually been doing SAS for a long time, for most of your professional career, I guess, and have now kind of taken things over to liquid web, and we’ve been doing some awesome things there. I mean, you were kind of talking a little bit at the beginning of this trip about what last year looked like and just in what a shorter amount of time.

Done some pretty incredible stuff from what it sounds like I’m a big fan of liquid web, and it seems like you’ve really attacked the WordPress space in general. So you’ve found a really good way to bring in SAS and WordPress together and make it a significant revenue generator for liquid web as well. Do you wanna tell us a little bit about that.

Chris Lema: But sure. I mean, I think before I joined in, as we got ready to. They were like, Hey, we want to do WordPress. Cause there’s a lot of, a lot of customers in our liquid web base that already doing WordPress. So it makes sense for us to have a solution. And I was only kind of interested, right.

Cause I’m like, listen, there’s 10 other managed hosts that are doing WordPress. And frankly, they’re all doing a great job. Like it’s not like they all suck. They’re great. So I don’t know. What’s interesting about being the. But I said, I’m willing to do that. If we’re willing to go after managed commerce, right.

Which didn’t exist, there was a space we were going to create. That’s something that you had an eye on before LiquidWeb approached you and you were, and you kind of brought the idea with you to them saying, I’ll join if you want to do this. Yeah. That’s exactly what happened. So I had to ready. I’d taken a year off from.

Uh, I’d left crowd favorite. And I had spent a lot of time just kind of thinking through what I want to do next. And I’d started thinking about this notion of managed e-commerce hosting and even talk to a couple of hosting companies. And some were only kind of interested, not much, some others were focused on some other problem they want to solve.

So I gave the idea to liquid web without, without any assumption of, of being an employee. I just, they were consulting and they were asking about market sizes and strategy with it. And I said, here’s my playbook on WooCommerce. And then they came back and said, well, would you join and do it? We don’t just want the playbook.

We’d actually love someone who could just do the playbook and you do that, Chris. So that’s how I joined. And we went from having no products and no customers to now really seeing good traction, some obviously in WordPress, but a lot of good traction in this new space of management commerce. So it’s been fun, but the way I look at management commerce, Is I look at it as a SAS, right?

My competitor is not the awesome things that SiteGround’s doing because they’re doing amazing things. And I love those guys and it’s not what Ken’s doing. And I love what they’re doing with Google. And that’s awesome. It’s not what Paisley’s doing. And AWS and I go, oh, AWS is really powerful. My competitors are big commerce and Shopify, right?

Those are SAS platforms that do e-commerce and every review you read that looks at Shopify and WordPress or WooCommerce. You go, oh, it does this, it does it. Yeah. That’s a match. That’s a match. And you run all the way down. You get to the bottom of the page and it says, oh, but with WooCommerce, you need to do hosting and infrastructure. You’re in charge of that. And so then people go, oh, well then I’ll just use Shopify. Right.

Joe Howard: That friction kind of, it’s hard to get people, especially newer people who want to build a shop into WordPress when they need WordPress plus plus plus.

Chris Lema: And so. I just said, my take is let’s just go build a SAS for WooCommerce. And, um, that’s how we thought about it inside. And so we started doing stuff, which immediately, when you do that, when you think about it as a SAS, you also think immediately about integration partners, right? Like you couldn’t build any other SAS and not be connected to Stripe or not be connected, whatever.

Right? Like you just know when I build a SAS, I build integrations. So one of our first integrations with, with a company called glue, G L E w.io and a glue has the. Most and best e-commerce analytics reporting on the planet. And they had just stepped into WooCommerce. And so I called their CEO and said, your target is small business, my target small business.

I would like to bring your platform to us. And by the way, we know a lot about WooCommerce so we can help your code perform better and we can help you integrate and think through what’s going on with things like subscriptions. And the CEO was like, great, let’s go make a deal. Right. Let’s let’s chase after this together.

And so. Every customer who’s on our $250 and above plan gets glue included. And what’s crazy is for the customers that are paying. On average one 50. So under two 50, and they average anywhere between $39, our lowest plan up to just under 2 49. And if you take the average that the average person’s paying $150, but those people who are paying on it for D do not have glue.

And the average revenue from those stores is 300,000. But if you go up to our seven 50 plan or the average spends through video, we have some people paying 1500. We have some people paying more than that. We have a lot of others paying, uh, you know, seven 50. And when you, when you aggregate that, The average revenue per year is $11 million, right?

Joe Howard: That’s significantly more. I’d say.

Chris Lema: That’s a massive jump. Right? And part of what we give them is glue. And part of what glue gives them is like 24 automatic segments of, of data, of resources, of people. And who’s buying what and what they’re buying. It shows you the analytics on which products are selling better, which products are suddenly selling better over time.

Meaning period, over period comparisons. Store owners have access to that data without having to do anything without having to hire a data scientist. Their world changes.

Joe Howard: This is the, exactly what you were just talking about. One, two or three small things. You know, it, a lot of it comes from these analytics and if you have powerful analytics and you can say, oh, this is by far our most popular and most profitable product. Let’s triple down marketing on that. Then it changes the game.

Chris Lema: So imagine, and that you release a new t-shirt every week, right? Every week you release a new t-shirt. So then you have each team. You know, you had 50, 52 t-shirts a year that get released. Each one is going to start accruing orders. Right. And so you could compare them month over month, right?

And you could say, well, the average t-shirt over from its inception of launch, right? Until it hits, say a thousand orders, right. It’s going to take this average time. Or the flip side of that is on average per month, it generates X amount of sales. So what you really would want to do to figure out which t-shirt was going viral, which one was hot is you’d want to look at period over period growth.

Right? And if everyone else, period, over period growth is on average X. And this thing is X times 10. You’re like. I need to grab this shirt. I need to go to my WooCommerce database and who hasn’t bought this shirt. I need to take that list. I need to take a coupon, create a coupon against that shirt. Take 10, 15% off.

Take the list, take coupons, send it out and see how much money comes in from. And then you see it and you’re like, oh my God, that was a massive lift. Right.

Joe Howard: And that was easy.

Chris Lema: .And you’re like, and it was, it was yeah. 10 minutes of work. Um, so one of the things we’re doing with store owners is helping them think through what do you have?

What are the things you have to be looking at? What things you gotta be thinking about if you know that customers, if you, if you were able to look at your data set and say, which customers have always used a coupon. I mean, like every, like every order and you’re like, well, there’s a small set of the, you know, and small in this case might be 3000 customers.

And you’re like, there’s 3000 customers. Who’ve never bought a single, never made a single order without a coupon. So what do you think will trigger their next order? Send them a coupon. Right? So you’re like, okay, let’s go look at our new inventory and new, new merchandise, new something, grab a coupon, assign it to only those products, send it out to this group of people triggered. Order. Right.

Joe Howard: And what is sending, sending it out look like in terms of your infrastructure, does it have, does the management commerce have the ability within kind of things to, to be doing that emailing or is it connecting with other systems through other partnerships?

Chris Lema: It’s so what glue does is glue has a direct integration to MailChimp. They’re working on many more, but they have a direct integration with MailChimp. In fact, That integration allows MailChimp to be updated every day. So if they take a person that was a first order person, right? This is your first order. You’ve never bought anything else. You can put them in the first order group, the segment in MailChimp.

And then if they come back the next day and they order again, Right. You can move them into the second purchaser and remove them from the first person in MailChimp, from glue. Right? So glue’s doing some of that work, but if you don’t use glue, let’s say you use convert kit, there’s an export to Excel and you can pull it out and load it in there and go from there.

We obviously support sending emails, transactional emails, et cetera, but for more important stuff, you’re going to want to take the glue data and put it into your own email service writer or, or system that you use.

Joe Howard: Cool. Step back, even that story a little bit, and talk about the partnership with the glue that happened in the first place.

Obviously as Chris lemma, you have a little bit of clout. You can call a CEO and say, Hey, like I would like to make a deal. Or I, you know, I want to talk about what this looks like. Yeah, go ahead. Yeah.

Chris Lema: Well, so, so I didn’t like I got a hold of the CEO, which is great, but I didn’t get to call the CEO directly first.

The CEO’s phone number is not published anywhere. Right. So what you do is you call the sales guy, right. And, and every, every person who’s ever made a business development deal, no same thing. Right. You’re like, who’s going to. The sales guy is going to answer his phone, right? He’s going to, he’s going to answer his phone.

So you talk to the sales guy and you say, Hey, listen, I want to think about, uh, you know, this, this go to market together strategy, but I’m also like glue sells for $299. And if you are a month and if you are over, you know, a certain amount of revenue per month, it goes up to $399 a month. It’s clear. I don’t want to spend 300. On a plan that I charged $250 a month, right?

Joe Howard: The math doesn’t quite make sense there.

Chris Lema: Nope. So I only have a certain amount of margin. So what you do is you have the conversation, right? And you say, Hey, this is my target. This is your target. This is what I’m going after. This is what you’re going after.

There’s a lot of synergy here, whether we do a partnership or not, I can’t control, but I can pitch it. I can open up your eyes to a marketplace. We can talk about how big is WooCommerce and how many stores like, and that may not have been on their radar. Right. So when that starts percolating. Is when you say, Hey, who has the authority to negotiate a different deal?

That changes my price point. In this particular case, the VP of sales said, we’re going to need to get our CEO on the line, right. Because he’s going to have to, he’s going to have to take a risk. Right. He’s got, which is, uh, which is a good thing to happen. If someone has. I got to ask the guy, then you’re in the first store, you’re through the first store.

Right. And so then now you bring the CEO in the picture and again, and I say this all the time, right. But this is all a function of storytelling. Right? Can you tell the right story that the CEO wants to hear? CEO doesn’t wanna talk about integration. Doesn’t wanna talk about the code. Doesn’t wanna talk about the project that it’s going to take to integrate the things it doesn’t wanna about any of that.

Right. Wants to talk about available market attainable market, what nuances we bring to the table and why we can do something to help that market. So we start telling the story, right? I’m talking about my background, our background, what we know about WooCommerce, what’s WooCommerce doing in the world today.

And the more we’re having that conversation, the more they’re going know why wouldn’t we partner with these people? Right? Like it seems like a no brainer and why wouldn’t we want them to succeed and have their stores grow. Right. But they also have their own risk profile. So then we start talking. You know, how can we collaborate, make this thing work?

And we eventually got two numbers that made sense, and that I could put into my margin, right. That I could handle rather than, you know, $300 a month. And that’s when you, when you do that, right, right. When you tell the right stories and you connect the right people, you get to create certain stuff that now.

You know, you, if you go to, if you go to Shopify and you start with their basic reporting, it doesn’t tell you chat to match what we’re doing. You’re gonna have to go to their 2 99 plan and we’re at 2 49, so are ready. There’s a difference. But then you start going. Yeah, but it still doesn’t do this thing that glue does. And you go, well, then you should really come think about what we’re doing.

Joe Howard: Well, you said our storytelling is also very enlightening for me because I, along with other people in the WordPress space, kind of know you as someone who’s an extremely good storyteller in terms of the word camp talks you give.

And I love how you’re talking about now that translates directly into how to create strong partnerships, how to convince other people of your own value, how to show them that you are valuable for them, how to ask them how you can be more valuable for them. And at the end of the day, it comes back to kind of storyteller.

And having the conversations based on who your audience is and what they want to hear, because I know I’ve been to plenty of your word camp talks. I’m always like, man, like I’ve got some work to do from my storytelling perspective because, and not just for word camp talks, but just because it’s, it’s kind of what we went back to before talking about though, like one or two things that are really going to change your business.

Like these are pivotable, pivotal points. Like your, this partnership with glue was really big for you guys. Right. And it was big for them. And that created this synergy that allowed you to have such a significant growth. Two or so years of liquid web managed WooCommerce, but, uh, yeah, I think that’s just a, it’s a, that’s a good thing for people to be aware of that that’s a skill that’s I think potentially underrated and people want to do all sorts of, I’m a marketing expert.

I’m with this expert I’m with that expert, but storytelling is, uh, is really a big part of it.

Chris Lema: The core of the issue is how well do you understand the narrative that you’re playing in. Right. And I can’t tell you the number of times. I’ve stepped into a room with someone from the company I’m working with at the time, or with other, you know, uh, collaborators and friends and WordPress.

And we step in and we’re singing a song that is the wrong song, right? We’re we’re in the middle of one narrative. And we’re talking about the other narrative integrations and X and Ys. Right. It’s just incredible because you watch people at the other side of the table, just go, oh, I’m in the wrong meeting.

Like I shouldn’t be in this meeting. Right. Learning. How to know, okay, what’s the room I’m in. What’s the context of this. What’s the right narrative at the right level of abstraction for them. And then how do I tell it in a way that keeps people going, oh, I’m on my seat. I’m on the edge of my seat. I’m listening.

I want this right. And if I say to you, listen, there are 4 million woo commerce stores and they all struggle in three places. You’re next. Well, what are the three places, right?

Joe Howard: I’m thinking that right now. What are they?

Chris Lema: What are the three places? And I go, I’ll get back to that in a second right now. Here’s another thing we know there is. And all of a sudden you’re like, wait, wait, wait, why don’t you just do that? Why, why did you, why did you leave me hanging there to go somewhere else? Now I have to take you somewhere else. That’s equally interesting. Right. But if you, if you set, okay, here’s what I believe. What I believe is e-commerce is.

And you go. Yeah, but the U S the numbers aren’t as bad. It’s taught pause. I believe e-commerce is growing worldwide. Right. And in the U S it’s so down a little bit, but in the U S we’re seeing rapid growth on mobile. Right. So almost all the growth in e-commerce in the U S is mobile. Right. So now let’s talk about that.

That’s one piece right now. Let me give you another piece of this and that’s, and I start walking through the building blocks now you’re going okay. Wow. Okay. So. This guy has access to data. Like I don’t, where’s he getting the data? Where does he say? 92% of the growth came from mobile. Wait, where did, uh, what do you know that I don’t know.

Right. And how do I get you telling my team this data? Because I need that data too, right? So you’re just leading people and you’re giving them the little tidbits, but notice we’re staying way up high, right? Here’s a trend. Here’s another trend. These are all the swim lanes that are going to merge together into this story that I’m telling.

And then you’re like now, remember I said there was three, there was three issues that every, every 4 million store. Um, those 4 million stores, aren’t all in the U S right. But in the U S let me tell you that, and we start talking through this and all of a sudden, you’re like, oh, wait a minute, wait, I think I know where you’re going.

Are you going to say, it’s us, are you going to say, we can solve that problem? You’re going to create a problem that we actually solved, and then they go, okay, I want to be part of that then why wouldn’t I be part of that? I mean, you just, and it’s big numbers and I’m starting to calculate, okay. My revenue against that big number.

Okay. What, actually, this could be a revenue stream for us. Right. And so when you tell the right story, the right way, Right. You’re leading people exactly. To where you want them to be. And they’re nodding their head. Yes. Long before you make the ask. Right. When you don’t do any of that, when you jump in and you’re like, okay, so we were interacting with your API.

And we noticed that we had this problem and the other person said, what the hell is an API, right? Or worse. Yeah. Are these kids going to talk about an API all day? Right? Let’s get out of this room, close this meeting down. Right. So learning how to have the right. Learning how to shape that narrative, learning how to not sing the wrong song, right.

When everybody’s reading re you know, ready for one thing, don’t go back to it. Well, this is what I, you know, when, when I first started raising money, one of our early startups, I had a co-founder on one of our startups. And the problem was that he had memorized, like most of us do, right. He’d memorized a pitch.

This was the VC pitch, right? So he had 10 slides and he had two minutes per slide is 20 minutes of pitch. Like he just knew his script. So what do you think happens when the guy interrupts him? Right. And asks a different question and he’s just like, wait, hold on. I got to go back to my script. Like I gotta get back here and I gotta keep, and the guy’s like, I re skip all this.

Like I look through your deck, I’m done. I get it. Let’s go. I got something else. He’s like, no, no, no, but this is this, this is the dance I do. There’s a song. And you’re just stuck on the thing you do. And you don’t adapt or adjust you don’t learn from. And so we had some horrible meetings, right? Like you’re sitting in front of some of the most famous venture capitalists going.

I can’t believe I got this meeting and then you get in the door and my, and my partner would, would just keep monitoring straight through all this stuff yet. And the meeting would be like six minutes long. They’d be like, okay, Hey, thanks guys. We’ll follow up. And we’d be escorted out the room. Oh, dear God.

Oh shit. Yeah. So, you know, you learn pretty quickly, boy, I need to make the story interesting. I need to make a compelling, I need to make them the hero of the story, not me. Right. And, uh, if I do these things right, I keep you engaged when I get to the, Hey. So what do you think about doing this together? Done. How do we get started?

Joe Howard: Yes. The frame from which you come in terms of the storytelling reminds me very much of a Simon Sinek or maybe Simon sacral minds. Me of you. Well, maybe I’ll switch to the other way around, but, uh, the, his, uh, leadership approach seems. Man, it pulls you in from the moment he starts and it’s not just his ideas and concepts.

It’s his intonation. It’s the fact that he’s clearly like used similarly at WordCamp talks have practiced and practice and really know exactly how to deliver this perfectly. And it almost seems as if after you’re finished talking at word camps or after Simon Sinek, I would finish watching his movie.

Man, like, am I in two dimensional space right now? And he’s in three-dimensional space. Is there like a whole nother dimension of this I didn’t even see or experienced before, but that is really how I feel. And I think that that is like being on that higher level can, you know, from most people are not on that higher level are not, they’re not seeing the whole board, they’re not seeing the whole map.

And so another reason I like coming to beach precedent because I get to surround myself with other people who are way smarter than me, and I can really learn and pick from their ideas and, and maybe I can help them a little bit along the way. Uh, you know, selfishly it definitely helps me to develop myself professionally.

everywhere. I’ve seen elastic search has been it’s you better be ready for some complicated stuff. You know, you better have a technical team to handle that, but having the ability to, because people can install Jetpack. If you know how to, if you, if you know how to install Jetpack, you can use elastic search. Like that’s huge.

Chris Lema: It’s mind boggling. Right? When we saw it, we were like, really you’re going to do that because I spent a year trying to work out partnerships to do elastic search for our customers. And I’m like, I can’t make it work. I gotta buy more servers. I gotta set up staff. I gotta do. I’m like, I just can’t make it work.

And with jet pack, I can. Right. So that’s, we’re excited about that. Other than that, we just finished putting the finishing touches on our WordPress platform for large sites. So customers who have a hundred sites, 200 sites, 300 sites, price point wise, it’s insane. Right? Like if you go to several other hosts, you’re looking at, even at 300 sites, you’ll look at something like $12 a site or $10 a site.

And I think we have a down. Three 50 a site, right? I mean, it’s just massively better price. We’ve done a bunch of the work to make it support that. Cause we have some customers and I hope to have more that are doing things where they’re using WordPress for more than just a blog. Right. And so when you start watching some of these SAS companies that are spinning up instances of WordPress, as part of their SAS, we go, how do we support that?

Right. Well, you got to support it when someone says, well, 300 radio stations doing streaming, blah, blah, blah. How do I do 300 sites? And you’re like, okay, I can help you with that. Right. Or how do I do this? And so it’s interesting to see where that goes and how large site plans work. But yeah, there’s a lot, a lot of fun stuff.

We’re getting ready to drive some new pricing on. We bought themes a year ago and Matt Danner is stepping into the GM role. And one of the first things he’s doing is making pricing adjustments to the items, hosting product, to bring it down to like $5 a month. So liquid web isn’t in that space, but I think this is going to go down, down that space. So it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out and how well it connects to a certain segment of the audience.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Yeah. Beyond 2019 WordPress. So, you know, liquid web in the manageable commerce space, you see a significant bet on WooCommerce, a significant bet on WordPress. You know, I know there’s kind of a crew of people that are kind of pushing to have, you know, WordPress at 51% of the web.

Is that something you guys are kind of thinking about in terms of kind of long-term strategy? I mean, are you kind of like thinking, you know, Continue to push WordPress to the, to the limits of where it can be. And eventually, hopefully have a, you know, a majority open source web.

Chris Lema: So I think having an open web and having e-commerce played out on the open on open platforms is critical.

I I’m a big fan of that. So I’m pushing for that. I don’t particularly push for a percentage, right? Whether it’s 33% or 34% or 38% or 50% or 7%. I’m not motivated by a number for the sake of the number. And I don’t think anyone who talks about it is, but I’m just not that doesn’t drive it. But today, if you do a Google search on e-commerce, Google thinks of e-commerce as synonymous with Shopify.

And unfortunately that’s a closed. It’s not opensource. You don’t own everything. You pay fees for being more and more successful, your fees go up. Right. And all of a sudden you’re like, wow, this is, this is costly and painful. I want customers to have an open platform where they can grow and do their, their e-commerce business.

And if that means, yeah, as a by-product of that, we get to 50% saturation for WordPress because WooCommerce is sitting on a frisk. That’d be awesome. But it’s really the driver of getting people to realize, Hey, I want to own my own stuff. I want to make sure that I control that I don’t want to pay transaction fees every time I get more and more successful.

And that I, I have a suite of solutions, you know, whether it’s fraud or reporting or anything else where people are going, wow, this is a real. Fantastic integrated all in one solution. It’s not, oh, it’s WooCommerce. It’s yes. It’s WooCommerce and yes, it’s WordPress, but it’s also several other things because we’re trying to create a total solution, not a patchwork.

When most people do it themselves, they create a patchwork solution. Right. And then there’s always these little ancillary consequential issues that are challenging here and there. And we’re seeing. Let’s just get you to one total solution that gives you everything you need.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I think that’s part of the challenge of WordPress in itself is that because it’s open source, which has its advantages, like you just said, it’s also somewhat of a zombified product.

The fact that you have to use different plugins or themes and a core files all together, it makes it challenging just in its own and create a website in the first place. But if you have this layer that just runs pretty smoothly on top of everything. Oh, this nice, beautiful UX is nice dashboard. You can just do all your stuff from here.

That in itself is a game changer, because I think, you know, when people think about, you know, uh, when the general person thinks about what, you know, WordPress UX looks like in a medium WordPress, uh, UX looks like you’re going to say, hold up though. Of course the medium UX is fantastic. It’s so easy to use.

You know, they have their own problems and issues as well. But if you’re just speaking generally from that point of view, That’s huge. And so the fact that you’re coming into WordPress, not only helping people improve their stores, improve the revenues, but also improve their experience with WordPress, I think is essential.

Especially the people who are making the money in the WordPress space that people were running WooCommerce.

Chris Lema: Yeah. That’s exactly it. And, and uh, if you go to another host, any other hosts, right? And you install the six plugins that your developer told you to install for your WooCommerce store and whatever.

Within about two months, you’re going to have a bunch of little red dots that tell you, you got to update this and update that and update this, but you have no clue, right. What’s going to happen. Right. And part of what we built when we first started with WordPress and now exists in WooCommerce is we have an entire system that will make a copy of your site.

Take pictures of it, update a single plugin, take more pictures, do the visual diff. Make sure nothing’s broken and then send a command to production and say, okay, you can update this one plugin and then it does it all over again. And that ability to update plugins automatically and get an email that says, Hey, everything’s good.

We just did. This is massive for everyday people who their experience right was, oh gosh, the first day I had my medium site or the first day of my WooCommerce site or WordPress site, it was fine. But two months later, just all these dots, I don’t know what to do. I don’t have someone to help me. I don’t even know what I should do.

Right. That’s where all of a sudden the, the experience starts eroding. Right? And we said, no, no, no. We can solve that.

Joe Howard: It’s a huge pain point for people. You know, I think that’s a great place to end menu. We’ve had an awesome conversation day. I learned a ton. So selfishly, I’m just pumped. I got to learn so much. Why don’t you tell people where they can find you online Twitter? Et cetera.

Chris Lema: Yeah. Uh, you can find me@chrislemma.com. You can find me@leaders.blog. You can find me@liquidweb.com. You can find me on Twitter at, at Chris lemma on YouTube at Mr. Chris lemma. Um, you can also find me on Instagram at Mr. Kusama, but that’s just cigar photos. So that’s not going to do you any good, unless you really like cigars.

Joe Howard: The cigar press. If you’re a cigar press, sorta person, then check out the Instagram. The last thing we always like guests to do is give a little shout out to people to give a little iTunes review. So you wanna help us out.

Chris Lema: Absolutely. Hey, if you are listening and you haven’t gone to iTunes yet and click the button and given us a review, do that right now. Don’t wait a couple minutes. Don’t even wait an hour because you’re going to forget to do it. That’s the way your. Right now at this moment is the time you want to click the button.

So get over there, give the review, tell them, Hey, this was a great episode. All the other boats have been fantastic. You love it. Click the review button, do it now. And then you won’t have to do anything else. Yeah.

Joe Howard: Boom, goodness. Set up better myself. We set up, I set up a nice little redirect. So I have WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes.

You type that in and redirect you right there. It’s so easy. Um, yeah. Five star reviews go a long way. So we would really appreciate. Uh, and if you liked this episode, say, yo, Chris was awesome in the comments so that we can give them a little bit of good feedback from it. You can send questions or comments to yell@wpmrr.com.

And if you have any questions, uh, we’ll get it answered on the pod. So we will catch you next week, Chris. Thanks again. This is dope.

Chris Lema: Take care.

Podcast

E166 – Why Being a Contrarian Works (Hristo Pandjarov, SiteGround)

In today’s episode, Joe talks to Hristo Pandjarov, Manager of WordPress Initiatives at SiteGround – a web hosting company founded in 2004 that provides hosting for about 2,000,000 domains worldwide. Some of the services offered include shared hosting, cloud hosting, enterprise solutions, and domain registration. 

Hristo shares what the roles and responsibilities he had and currently have since joining SiteGround, the advantage of building internal plugins versus acquiring existing ones, why site performance impacts the growth of hosting sites, and how consistency in quality has fueled the company through the years. 

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 04:06 Welcome to the pod, Hristo!
  • 05:43 What’s a WordPress initiatives manager?
  • 09:11 Different positions since joining Site Ground
  • 14:02 Your passion will take you places
  • 17:41 Focus is on site performance
  • 23:32 Building plugins internally than acquiring external products
  • 30:01 Many who built WordPress products weren’t actually business minded people
  • 39:44 Partnership with West Ham United
  • 44:18 The most important value is quality consistency
  • 45:46 Find SiteGround and Hristo online

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: , I don’t know the folks, Joe Howard here, right before we get started with today’s episode. I haven’t done this in a while actually. Haven’t, uh, read out, uh, new reviews. So we’ve got for the WP MRR podcast. I have iTunes open right now. And we’ve got this great review from entrepreneur 1, 1, 2, 0. I’m always learning something new from WP MRR, not appreciate the diverse topics and voices.

Joe has on the show. The podcast isn’t just about WordPress, whether you’re an entrepreneur, digital marketer or a developer, you’ll come away with some cool insights after each episode. I just wanted to give that little review a shout out. I actually haven’t come on to iTunes to look reviews in awhile.

Um, and I actually see a good number of new reviews from a show. So are we not a few more? Uh, episodes, but I really took this, uh, review to heart. We tried to get people from diverse backgrounds about diverse topics on the show, all kinds of, you know, related whether primarily or secondarily or tertiary into subscription revenue, but these topics can become so intertwined.

I think what’s really important is just to hear from a lot of different kinds of people doing a lot of different kinds of things and gives you these little nuggets to be able to unravel yourself and to. Hopefully help you grow a better subscription business. So if you want to join entrepreneur 1, 1, 2, 0, and leaving us an iTunes review or a review and whatever app you’re listening to, I would personally really appreciate it.

You can go to WP mrr.com forward slash review. If you were on an apple or a Mac to leave us a review on iTunes, but if you’re in Google podcast, if you’re in Stitcher, if you’re. Oh, well, whatever Spotify, whatever app you’re using, um, it would be great to be able to get more views and helps the show get found.

Uh, if you leave a star rating and a comment, it also helps me to know what kind of content I should be doing more. So, uh, when I get this kind of review talking about really enjoying the diverse topics and diverse voices on the show, I’m going to do more to get. Even more of a diverse, uh, range of, uh, voices and opinions and people who may agree on things or may disagree on things.

You know, there’s a lot of conversations to be had. So thanks to this review. Want me to do that? And your review can help steer the show as well. Cool. Thank you for that. Let’s get into today’s episode. So today I got the chance to chat with Freestone pond genitals. Now, if you’re, you’ve been in the WordPress space for awhile, you know, crystal from.

Really friendly guy. Uh, every time I, I I’ve seen him in the past and a word camp, he’s like the easiest guy to talk to. We always have good conversations and I haven’t seen him in, you know, two years now, maybe a little bit longer, which you talked a little bit about in today’s episode because of the pandemic, but, um, he’s had quite the journey at SiteGround.

He’s been there for, uh, over a decade, maybe over 15 years from remembering from episode correctly, you know, he’s had quite the journey there and really leads the WordPress. At psych rounds. So it is cool to hear, uh, how SiteGround is dedicating themselves to WordPress, what they’re doing in terms of being, and doing things differently than other hosting companies.

Piece of what I took from today is, you know, a lot of acquisitions happening in the space. You know, that’s how a lot of companies are growing, including WP box, or you’ve done an acquisition earlier this year, but Christo is pretty adamant about how they want to build things out internally because that’s, they think that’s the best way to build things that are going to add the most value to their customer base and help them be the best company they can.

Doing things differently. Can some cases really help you to stand out from the competition being a contrarian work sometimes. Apparently. So I’ll let freestyle talk about today’s episode because he talks about it better than I can. So cool. Without further ado, uh, welcome to the show crystal. Punderdome enjoyed today’s episode.

Uh, okay, cool. We are live on, uh, this week’s episode of the podcast. I’m lucky enough to get to chat with Christo Pottenger of, uh, hopefully. Got that name. Right? So restart. I’ve known, we’ve known each other for a little while in the WordPress space. Good to see you. Good to hear from you. Uh, it’s been a little while, but Toughbooks a little bit about you and what you do with WordPress.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. Good to see you. Unfortunately, not in person, but you know, we live in.

Joe Howard: Hopefully soon. Hopefully soon.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. We, we organize our, so four camps received an email that work camps are coming back to in person. Sorry.

Joe Howard: A little insider information here. I didn’t know that. So, uh, I wanna, I want to know what to do with WordPress, but I also want to hear about live word camps.

So I know at one point it was like the rest of through 2021, no more in personal work camps is what I heard in last year. And through the beginning of this year, are we still looking at the beginning of 2022 or sometimes he does point to that. Cool.

Hristo Pandjarov: Ah, so there’s going to be some restrictions and so on, but, uh, slowly things are, hopefully we’ll be getting back to them. And we’ll get to meet around the world again.

Joe Howard: Per usual. Most good things take time. So that’s okay. Um, tell folks, tell us folks about you a little bit. Yeah. What’d you do with.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah, my, uh, my job title you asked in our pre uh, it’s a WordPress initiative managers. We a tidy ground who don’t believe very much in, uh, titles, uh, you know, uh, like that, but, um, It’s kind of difficult to have a job title that covers whatever I do.

It’s, uh, basically I lead our WordPress product and everything we do about our WordPress clients and it touches a bit on going to events, the marketing, uh, leading the product. So we have our security, performance, uh, plugins and everything. Everything we do in terms of a WordPress. So, uh, including our internal systems, we have a number of systems that run on WordPress too.

And, uh, w I lead my team of, uh, four, four press developers. I touch up a bit of a CEO and, um, basically everything that is somehow related with, for press goes through me one way or.

Joe Howard: Yeah. So would you, I I’ve, I’d never heard of the title WordPress initiatives manager before, and I’m trying to like, kind of parallel it with a position.

I have my head. It’s kind of, it sounds like you do a lot of stuff like around WordPress, specifically for psych. So it’s hard to like exactly define like a title is kind of. It doesn’t exactly mean that exactly match exactly what you do, but it kind of sounds like a combination of like a, uh, product manager and product lead and also like, uh, uh, like community liaison community person and kind of all put into one and then asks you w what do you think the title should be? And I think initiative sound good. Does that sound like it’s kind of, kind of defines it.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah, that that’s, that’s pretty much, that was the main idea behind, behind it. And, uh, yeah, indeed. I, I touch up on all sorts of different things. Sync link constellation. Yeah. So it’s.

Joe Howard: And you’ve been in SiteGround for a long time. I mean, I don’t know how different people will define long time is different, but, uh, I think last time we saw each other was word camp Europe, 2019. I’m trying to remember if that’s the last time I think we caught up there at the site ground has a big booth there every year. So we were, we hung out there a little bit and caught up and, uh, I, it was your position.

Did you have the same title then? Or were you like more community person then? Cause I kind of know you as a WordPress community person, but maybe it’s just cause I like know you it’s just like, cause I see around all the time and online and in word camps, but it was like, did you have a different position back then?

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah, I think I had it for, for quite a few years now. And, um, the person responsible for that job title was Francesca Marano. She she’s now with Yoast. I think, you know, her too, she’s pretty well known in the community. And she was like, listen to you. You have to think of another job title because I don’t ever remember what it was.

Uh, like, okay. You know how much I don’t care about it. So she came up with that and everyone was okay with whatever you want. So I switched it over and, um, it kinda kinda stick with it for the last three years or something. So, yeah. Cool, cool, cool. Yeah. A long time we started growing, I started working as a regular support team member and. Dallas in 2007.

Joe Howard: Wow. Okay. So I was right when I said a long time, because this is, you know, more than 10 years is a big company now, but yeah. 40 years is a long time. Yeah. It’s a long time. So started as a support person. Well, now I have to dive into that a little bit because that’s like a whole journey into like being of the WordPress initiatives manager.

So started as support. Have you done like a few different jobs at SiteGround as the company’s grown or have you do, was it right from support in the community or the.

Hristo Pandjarov: Joint agenda support team? And then, uh, you know, one thing went to another, you know, we have a pretty, pretty awesome, uh, Evaluation and growth part for new people coming to our team.

And it was very, you know, uh, I was super enthusiastic to, to become better and better in what I was doing. Cause I was, uh, before Saigon, I remember I was a working, uh, suburban Delphia developer for, uh, for a business software. I imagined that. And meanwhile, I was, you know, assembling a computer configuration to sell hardware.

And so I have zero idea about what we’re posting is, you know, besides from my Linux experiments in so-and-so I joined, that was a very awesome learning curve. Uh, became supervisor at some point of the support team joined the so-called escalations team we have, which handle the most difficult issues with that.

And then one thing went to another, I took over the company’s SEO and slowly migrated towards the marketing. Oh, so like the Sol for siteground.com to, yeah. Only, only for sag around.com, not for any other customers for something like that, that I I’m still, I’m still doing that with a couple of, uh, with, with a couple of people that helped me with it now.

Um, I’m not, I’m not the one person for that. Um, but yeah, that’s, uh, one thing again, lent led to another. So we started going to work camps more and more in January to back down. We were the official Jumo web hosting provider too. So we went to a couple of demos. And that’s that’s how, how things started and, uh, started going to more work and started developing, uh, were prestige teams, uh, for, for our clients, uh, with, uh, we came up with our super casher, which was the first thing was that was specifically built for WordPress, you know, a caching system that purchase itself, depending on your content of data and so on.

Uh, so that started, you know, You know what cache busting plugin basically, and which is now what I believe the best performance optimization plugin for WordPress. So that’s, um, that was my, my main focus and still is one of the biggest projects I run and yeah, met so many great people, started talking at work camps about, mostly about performance insecurity. So those are my favorite topics.

Joe Howard: That’s cool. I, I, I like hearing about people who started one place and then ended up some place completely different. And especially in a big company, because I think a lot of people think about bigger companies and they think about, you know, I’m going to get lost a little bit in the, you know, want to be a cog in the wheel.

And you know, how organized is a big company really around like the paths for people to go through as a team member. Um, and it sounds like SiteGround’s really been like, uh, done that really positively for you to be able to move across. Different teams and try different things and kind of evolve as, as you’ve grown.

And you’ve evolved yourself into like, starting with support and then wanting to go, oh, I want to get in a little bit more in SEO and marketing. Well, why don’t you try that team? And then eventually like leading WordPress initiative, like that’s a huge evolution for you over 14 years. So like, and the thing that kind of stuck with me about.

What you just said, there’s a lot in there, but the, at the beginning, when you started as a support person, you know, you were saying like, you were really enthusiastic. You really wanted to learn all this new technology and all these new things. And I think that’s, I think that’s a quality that I think a lot of people think that’s important, but it.

To like move through the company like you did. And in some senses up in the ranks into like managing a team of developers and managing WordPress initiatives, like you have to be pretty hungry for knowledge. Like you always have to kind of be like knowing what’s going on in the space, being able to learn new things, understand how hosting impacts all the different other areas of WordPress.

Like there’s a lot to learn and it never stops. And so I think that enthusiasm. And I can still send it in you. Right. It’s like you still have that enthusiasm and that wanting to learn. And like that’s, I think is like something that people, if you’re thinking people are listening, like I want to move up through a company like that enthusiasms probably gotta be there or like, it’s, you know, it’s gonna be a challenge for someone to see you and be like, oh wow.

They really want to do more. Okay. Why didn’t I let them do more? So that’s what really stuck out to me.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. You gotta, you gotta be passionate about what you’re doing. I mean, um, Saigon has a great company. And probably it would it’s it was easier than in other big, big companies. I mean, we are big, but not as big as Google and Amazon, for example, you know, uh, we are like around 700 people at the moment, which is a large company, but, uh, not the, by far the biggest one out there.

But I think that if you’re passionate about something, if you really want to learn about it, if you want to become better at what. Uh, one can progress. And in any company, even if it’s somewhere, it might be slower, difficult, more difficult than others, but you just got to figure it out. What, what makes you happy?

What what’s interesting for you and, uh, not to go every day at work, just to get, or sorry at the end of the week or month or whatever. So, yeah, I’ve been fortunate enough to. To be able to switch from doing one thing to another, because, uh, to be, to be honest, in after two, three years, the first years I was a part of the support team member, I was very fortunate to start doing something else, to do the SEO to a bit of development for WordPress, for, for, for template design and stuff like that.

Because otherwise I don’t think I would have. So happy and, uh, could have kept doing the same thing over and over again, you know? So, uh, you gotta challenge your stuff. You gotta do some progress. Otherwise, if you just stick in one place, there are people who are happy like that. But, but that’s definitely not me.

I’m always looking for the next thing to do. And so, um, that being said, like half of my team right now is. Based from made from people who have been previously working on support team. And they’re now working development. Uh, So that’s, that’s, uh, something I’m very happy about, about SiteGrounds as a company and the company culture.

And like most of, a lot of the DevOps team members, uh, have been previously admins. A lot of the admins have been previously supporting members. So there’s always this internal possibilities of growth. And there is not only one path for, for someone. Like if you want to go into development. You know, up to a different team, or if you are more into admin stuff, you can just try yourself in a different, different.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Kyle morph on a Sandhills development team just to give a talk at the WP MRR virtual summit, uh, about, I forget what the exact title was, but it’s like, um, how to develop employee or team member pathway through the company and how to create systems around that. Uh, and it was a great, it was a great talk and something, a lot of people before the summit.

We need, you know, I need more help around hiring and around like making sure my team members are happy and impactful and passionate about their work. And so that was a big part piece of the, of our summit too. Um, so cool. Um, I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about some of the WordPress initiatives that, uh, are going on.

Over at SiteGround obviously you kind of leading initiatives over there. Um, and I’m not sure if you, you know, no longer do like, you know, or Drupal stuff or outside of WordPress stuff. I think you would do some and also WordPress’s is now like a big piece of. What you do at site ground in terms of, you know, the websites you host, but, uh, what’s on the horizon for WordPress professionals.

What folks listening to this should be like looking out for, in terms of like, what is the hope the future of hosting look like when it comes to a WordPress specific site? You mentioned that cash cash thing that I think is interesting, but I’m sure there are other things as well. I’d love to, I’d love to hear some of the stuff going on. It’s like ground.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. Um, you can still host our applications with us, like Drupal, Joomla, or whatever custom stuff. Uh, we have some, uh, pretty big enterprise enterprise clients who have completely custom, um, code base, like Yoast, for example, uh, their client area and everything is like custom. It’s not a static WordPress or something else.

Uh, so, uh, WordPress is dominating the. The entire web at the moment. So it’s by far the most popular application, 3% last time, 42 points three. Yeah. It grows so fast. It’s difficult to keep up with that number, but, uh, yeah, so it’s, um, it’s the app we’re mostly focused on and, uh, we try to. We tried to build tools, services that make us make it easier for people to start something, to, to have, uh, to have a successful website and to maintain it because at the end of the day, uh, us hosting companies, uh, SiteGround in particular, what makes us more, you know, both financially and emotionally happy is to have a client that remains with us for a long time, that has a successful website.

Keeps hosting curators. And so, um, there are things that become more important, important with, uh, with time, um, performance being a very hot topic at the moment. I remember, uh, I was probably one of the first people started talking about performance and speed optimization, uh, in, in, at work camps and, uh, You know, back in 2013, 2012, you know, those years I, I still look back at some photos. It’s funny how pack, sorry.

Joe Howard: Oh man. Going back through old word camp talks. I still fat confined my first WordCamp talk and it’s like kind of painful to watch. I was like, man, that was not great. But to got better.

Hristo Pandjarov: You need to love yourself more. You know, that’s true. I keep liking mine anyway.

Uh, I, I don’t have the nerve to listen to an entire thing, but just feel screenshots that, I mean, you look good young boy, my hair was much, much, much darker back then.

That’s what we got to look at the positive side of things, you know? And, um, yeah. Um, but, uh, and nowadays, you know, Did you work? Camp has two, three talks about performance, which is great because you know, Google push down a lot. And, um, that’s why one great example of, for example, it’s high ground. We have developed our SiteGround optimizer plugin, which, uh, takes care of everything.

The caching, uh, front-end optimizations, even things like database maintenance. Uh, image optimizations, what be new, new web formats, stuff like that. Um, so, um, it’s a very, very big plugin right now, and it has pretty much everything you need to, to have a blazing fast website. Um, another new thing we launched this year was, uh, our security plugins.

Uh, we are heavily developing the SiteGround security program, which tries to cover everything you need to have on your application in terms of security strengthening, uh, in that things like two factor authentication, custom in your ELLs to what we’ve been trying to do is make, uh, very difficult things, uh, technically difficult things easy for, for our.

And to make a technology that’s generally, you know, for bigger websites for enterprise stuff, available to people and share hosting, uh, people who don’t have teams of developers behind their backs. So, um, those are examples of things, other things we do, and they have been a great focus for.

Joe Howard: It’s interesting to see SiteGround building some of these plugins internally to pair with WordPress specific hosting and saying as, as part of doing that saying, I think that our, we think that WordPress hosting.

Requires this kind of plugin paired solution, along with hosting, in order to, to give folks using the R word, press hosting the best possible experience. I want to dive a little bit further into that because there is a different path. One could take, and I kind of see companies do co there’s kind of like two paths people could go.

There’s like, Hosting company that says we would like to pair, you know, a host or a plugin, like a security plugin. But instead of developing that internally, they go and find one that’s already in the market. That’s been a different company it’s been developed by someone else and acquire that plugin. And then maybe over the next.

Six months, year, two years, they kind of fold that into their offerings. Or maybe it’s just as easy as just pairing it with hosting. You know, you get hosting, you’ll get the plugin with the hosting. Um, maybe it actually, uh, probably at some point eventually actually folds into the hosting company as a, you know, a core piece of it.

But. The difference is that it was acquired and folded in as opposed to the approach that SiteGround has gone with, which is, it sounds like you’ve developed the security plugin internally and the performance plugin internally. What was the reason that you decided to build it internally, as opposed to maybe looking at the market and maybe acquiring a different plugin?

Because SiteGround’s a pretty successful company. I’d assume you have some funds to say, if you wanted to maybe buy another company, it would be possible. It sounds like you’ve gone to the decision to go billing and internally I’d like to, I’d love to hear a little bit about. Maybe why you think that that was the decision SiteGround went with?

Hristo Pandjarov: Well, we, we have this crafted by ourselves, you know, vision for, for the main parts of the hosting platform that have, uh, which is not wood doesn’t then just with the plugins or. Those things, you know, uh it’s uh, it’s how we approach basically our entire hosting product, you know, um, even back then we were on C panel.

Uh, it was so greatly modified. And, uh, one of the reasons to build our own hosting management tool was that it was so modified that at some point it became more of a burden to already use an already existing hosting management. Down to actually benefit out of it. So we spent years in building what is now cited.

And then we spent a couple of years migrating and, you know, improving and so on to get away from C panel and move, migrate everyone to site. So, uh, this is a, a fundamental belief that we can do some things and we can do them better than, than the people out there. Why wouldn’t I a choir, uh, performance or security plugin is a, because I really want to know that I can rely on the quality of that code.

And, um, to be, you know, to be honest, there aren’t that many good developers out there producing code that can be our standards of inside grounds because when you want something and put it in front of, you know, two, 3 million people, you have the responsibility to have it work in secure, have it properly done.

And, uh, first I don’t think. Makes sense to buy something and then have to rework big part of it. And then, um, there simply isn’t, uh, for our needs, for the way we believe things should be done. There, there aren’t any products that, um, cover everything. I dunno, it’s a bit more hassle to, to acquire a team and have to, uh, you know, put people within our workflows.

Dan started building something cars. And I don’t think, I don’t think that anytime soon, the time will come when we’ll run out of jobs. So expanding our internal development team makes a lot of sense for us. We’re always looking to hire great talent. And so far we’ve been successful with that. And that’s the reasoning because we can do it better than anyone else. That’s, that’s why we’re doing Caltech.

Joe Howard: I get that. I think that there are a lot of there. I think there are a good number of folks doing performance plugins and doing security plugins, but the number of people doing it right now that could meet this current scale of SiteGround is probably a few and far between, you know, if you were to like a second, I was to acquire.

And put it in front of that many people, you know, those products may not just not be at the scale right now may require either refactoring or rebuilding or a change in vision to like, just to meet the standards of being able to service as many clients as you put it out in front of. So in some senses, I think it makes a lot more sense about what you’re saying in terms of, if you have the quality in house to be.

Why not do it yourself and build the best, the best and build the best possible product. Given like your circumstances SiteGround circumstances when you acquire a in it’s kind of like they weren’t building it for you. Like they weren’t building it, thinking like I’m building this to exactly match all the tech, uh, aspects that SiteGround needs. Right. You know, that’s something that has to be figured out if that, that.

Hristo Pandjarov: Actually, actually, what we’re doing right now is exactly the opposite. What everyone else has been doing. Which is always, which historically has always been a good move for us. Uh, what we’re doing right now is we’re opening the opening, the plugins we have built for Sarah ground for, for everyone else.

Like the security plugin, you can use the SiteGround security plugin at the moment on whatever hosting company wants, if they don’t block you with, uh, anything super particular, you know, just, just because it’s, SiteGround’s. Uh, you can run it on, on your posting, whatever, you know, even if you’re not hosted on site around.

So instead of acquiring something that has been built for everyone and making it available for selling around people exclusively, now we’re doing actually the opposite. We’re opening a power security plugin, and soon. Okay. That’s something that I haven’t been told anyone. Now we’re going to make the site ground optimizer plugin available for people I’d say it’s around.

So that’s, that’s, that’s just how we believe things should be done. You know, when you have something you can make it available for more people and, um, hope for the best that they use it for, for the, for the website. So.

Joe Howard: Yeah, I mean, I really like. Mentality. It matches the open source mentality. If I, we all decided to get into WordPress in the first place, you know, we liked the ability for software to be open and not closed.

I mean, it kind of leads into this conversation. Something I wanted to talk to you a little bit about, because you do have a, there’s a community aspect to your position in terms of knowing what’s going on. Just like in the WordPress space and ecosystem. The last 18 months or so there’ve been a ton of acquisitions and buying and selling of companies.

And the just last week, there were a couple of big ones, you know, learn dash was acquired, uh, as well as Sandhills development. And I don’t know why it was those two companies because there have been other companies in the past 18 months that are sold to. But for some reason last week, there was like a lot of chatter around, Hey, They’re either like hosting companies or big entities starting to acquire a lot of the bigger WordPress plugins and.

Is this really good for the community? Um, in some sense, the question about is this good for the community stems from if big hosting companies can just kind of acquire plugins and then, um, like create kind of an all in one solution so that they can kind of like continue to like, take bigger pieces of the pie and not have to worry about honestly, like not have to interact with the open source community.

Cause they ha they can just acquire things and just do them, you know, under their company. That’s a little bit of a conversation that’s starting, I think, to happen. And I’m sure it’s happened. Been happening over the last five years or so. I just haven’t quite tapped into it, but right now I’m starting to really see that become more common.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on, on that. It’s kind of a big topic and a big question, but, uh, I know. To hear a little bit more about why SiteGround is deciding to build internally as opposed to go the opposite direction and kind of what your thoughts are around hosting companies becoming so big that they can do everything as kind of more of an all in one solution and maybe not include some of the smaller companies out there. In terms of, you know, being part of the open source ecosystem.

Hristo Pandjarov: A few, few things here first. Uh, we, we wanna, we generally believe to, to, to build ourselves things that we believe are the fundaments of our far product. That doesn’t mean we, we’re not interested in acquiring a company that would be a great fit.

Uh, for our clients in terms of, you know, company culture in terms of their product. Um, now if you think about it, it’s been going on for four years, you know, it’s like for the regular WordPress users, if you think about how and what website you were able to do, you know, five, six years ago without spending a single dollar.

Right now, you can’t really build anything that’s professional that does everything people need, because you know, the, the demand of people, you know, browsing the web is higher. People don’t need just, you know, five static pages and links between them. You know, you get more functionality and every bigger boy in a has-been.

Uh, business for the past years. And it’s been a growing business, you know, most of, you know, the race, the rise of the freemium model, you know, back back 5, 6, 7 years, most of the people, or most of the funds were free. And, and that’s it, you know, and was time mostly turned into a. Trial version of the real thing that is paid and it’s normal when you have companies making money out of it, making money out of product to become interested in interests for acquisitions, by bigger companies.

And the thing is that a lot of people who started building WordPress products, weren’t actually business minded people. So they. Th they, they made a lot of bad decisions. You have, you know, even if, uh, even if we talk about when to sell to whom to sell. And at some point, you know, when, when you have costing company with a big financial back and interest in your, in, in your business, that started probably as a free WordPress plugin that somehow turned it into a profitable.

And there were, eh, I guess it’s very tempting to, to exit and sell, sell your stuff. We’ve seen, uh, some very bad examples of how not to not to buy a plugin and ruin it. And some others which are doing better than, than before I can say really how bad it is for, for, for the community. It’s, it’s definitely, uh, not the same community that was.

Years ago in terms of the investments you have to make in order to have a website. But, um, on the other end you have. More opportunities to, to build with more tools because you know, when developers are human beings still, they want to make money. They want to eat and have fun, you know, so they have to pay their, their dinner.

And, uh, if, if you want to have a quality plugins, they have to make money out of it. So. That’s that’s how things work and a yes, not, not everything is free now. Not a lot of plugins are owned by a big companies, but then you have a lot more plugins with a lot more functionalities and thing to do. And now it’s, it’s a trade-off because you can’t, you can’t grow a plug into a fully functional solution without making a dime out of it.

Joe Howard: And. Yeah. I’m, I’m glad that you said that. Cause I think, I think for years we’ve been saying in the WordPress space, like we have, we gotta charge more. Like we have to be more, have more premium solutions so that customers pay us more so that our companies can make more money and be more profitable. And like, we can be more comfortable because I think there’s this like open source software is free.

So like your software should be cheap, like mentality. And maybe that was more prevalent, like 10 years ago. But I think. We’ve been wanting to do that for a long time. And now it seems like we’ve kind of shifted our thinking a little bit as far as I’ve seen, and that has attracted more, I think, finance into the WordPress space.

It’s like, you can’t really have it both ways. I agree with you, I think is this kind of the natural. Evolution of any space you have to pay one way or another, right?

Hristo Pandjarov: You either pay with your time and your energy and you go out there, you read the commentation, you pick up a team, pick up a number of plugins, develop something, yourself, learn how to do it, or you pay by, by giving money to someone else to do it.

And that’s completely okay. It’s it’s uh, actually WordPress has. It has made it possible for a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to join this community to make money, make a living out of making websites. If it wasn’t for WordPress, because 99% of the people who claim to be WordPress experts, even if even WordPress developers are basically installing, activating and configuring plugins in teams and.

Now, I don’t want to talk about pricing, um, how much you should charge. But again, I don’t the notion, I think it’s fading away that everything should be free. No, it should not be free. If somebody is working for you, you should pay them.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I definitely agree with that. As a services company, you pay, you get services, you get, you, you have it paid for, I think the.

Uh, yeah, this is like a really big topic we could go on, you know, we could do a three hour episode on this topic, but my argument against potential argument for the reason against why I think it, I think it’s, you know, this is not a good thing for the rescue and to use that, I think naturally open-source software.

With open source software. You’re always going to have, like, the next company is coming. Like for every company that like medium-sized company that’s acquired, like they’ll probably be like 5, 10, 50 smaller companies, like coming up behind that company saying like, okay, they were successful. As long as like the WordPress market share continues to grow.

There’s going to be enough, you know, websites out there that, you know, just because, um, you know, learn dash was just acquired. It doesn’t mean that another kind of course, company can’t come along and develop a plugin that, that maybe hits some of the pain points that a bigger company, like LearnDash, maybe it just doesn’t quite have the, uh, agility, because they’re a little bigger to hit.

Like maybe a smaller company can actually do better and maybe five smaller companies can do better. So I think there’s always going to be more space out there for that. Okay. I want to start wrapping up. But the one thing I do want to definitely talk about, uh, is I was just checking out the SiteGround blog.

Um, people can obviously check out SiteGround siteground.com. Although I think of different domains, depending on where you are in the world, but psych, if you searched SiteGround, you’ll find it. siteground.com is going to be the main site, but I’m on the blog right now. And I see the most recent post here from you is a, about a partnership that you have.

Uh, west ham United, uh, soccer team. Uh, so I’m a big premier league fan. I’m an Everton fan. Uh, so I’m watching every weekend and I think Westham has actually become like my second team. Uh, I love the team. I love the style. I think they finished six last year in the premier league. So six best team in England and they are now playing in Europe this year.

I think they’re actually playing this afternoon for me. So I’m going to turn on the TV and watch them. Uh, team, I don’t know who they are, but they’re playing in a big Europe, you know, the second biggest European tournament in the world. And so, uh, I wanted to talk a little bit about, well, one just cause I saw that I was like, oh, I got to ask Christo about that.

But also, um, just in terms of like, um, partnership work that SiteGround does. I mean the blog post I’m reading, it’s like a partnership with, uh, you know, I guess SiteGround’s the official hosting partner of west hand. I’m not sure if you are part of that or if that’s something that you have an insight into, but I’m sure, you know, there are a lot of companies out there that want to do more like partnership work and maybe they can’t get Westham, you know, United as their partner of choice.

But you know, SiteGround’s a bigger company. That you were obviously able to do it. I’d love to hear a little bit more insight into kind of like the why’s and how all that happened and, uh, and all that.

Hristo Pandjarov: Yeah. Uh, I was a part of the initial talks. Um, now, um, everything is handing over to demo or, uh, She’s our brand manager.

Uh, it wasn’t a vacation, but I was like, there’s no way I’m going to miss that. Talk with the west camp people. It’s really amazing for someone who has been working, I’ve done quite a lot of partnership work like, um, I consider it my, my doing our partnership with with a double B beginner with a lot of big companies.

With Westham. I was, you know, uh, stunned by the level of professionalism. Those people showed, you know, it was a very, you know, uh, even our first meeting they were so well-prepared that, you know, the word professionalism was. What’s radiating from them in every possible, in every possible aspect, uh, from, uh, researching the people you’re talking to, uh, from figuring out how we do things going through our materials, man, I was stunned.

And so the, they made a very huge impression on us, on, uh, you know, how they do things, how organized they are, how fast they are when it comes. So, and we, we kind of clicked, you know, Figure it out. It’s going to be nice to work together and partner up. And, um, you know, we’re, we’re based in Bulgaria. Um, our building main building is in Sofia.

We have offices in, uh, two other Bulgarian cities and one in Spain in Madrid. So, um, you know, as Europeans were all crazy about football, so, uh, Uh, yeah, that it happened and I think it’s going very nice.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Very cool. I see. On a blog post, you have like a, uh, a video that got posted and, and all sorts of stuff.

So, um, do you, do you. Do you know how, like it kind of came about, like, was there a first connection where it’s like someone at SiteGround knew someone at Westham or where they’d like to, they put like a, I don’t know, like a ward out there, like we’re looking for a hosting partner and then you contacted them or something.

I don’t know. I honestly, I just don’t know how these kinds of big partnerships. Sometimes come to fruition, except that’s a lot of times I know that there’s just like a network connection. Like someone knows someone somewhere else, and that can be leading to it. But I don’t know if you know the details about how this one got started.

Hristo Pandjarov: No, no, we w we didn’t have any personal, you know, personal link to, to any of them are actually, they, they approached us because they really wanted a hosting partner. So, uh, they have been going through, they did their research and they picked our ground because they were. Loved, uh, our messaging, our product.

They went through a lot of, for reviews about our company and saw that people actually enjoy our product that we have. And, you know, Sarah grounds is a very big company. I, uh, in UK, uh, we, we have a lot of clients and, um, so I guess they, they researched us and figured out where good fit for, for, for them.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s cool, man. I think that says a lot about SiteGround and I think it even speaks more wholly to, you know, sure. There’s outreach. You can do there’s networking. You can do to like create these partnerships. There are some proactive things you can do, but in a lot of cases, the best thing you can do is as the company grows and as it gets bigger, To continue to have a great product, to continue to have great services, to continue to do good in the world and put good out there in the world and have a good reputation, right?

Like people think about SiteGround they think about, you know, great support. They think about this podcast listened to the three still on it. Wow. Pretty still is awesome. You know, they associate good things to SiteGround and. Well, eventually come back to help you. When people are looking up, your company are doing the research across companies, you know, they consider SiteGround across with other companies.

Well, second has a lot of great things to offer. And so while focusing on, you know, whatever traditional PR or outbound marketing or network can be important in some cases, You know, it’s also, it’s a good lesson, I think, to not forget.

Hristo Pandjarov: What is the most important core values? What we believe is the most important is to have consistency of the quality and to keep doing this, uh, to keep having good product, uh, in, uh, with time, you know, we’ve seen, you know, the, there are new hosting companies that just pop up.

Now, and then, uh, it’s easy for them to come up with the new stuff they don’t have. They don’t have to upgrade their new, their existing clients just because they don’t have existing clients. So you take, what’s the latest in greatest, uh, stack. You put it in production, new start making signups, but then you get your, then you get your clients, then you have to support those clients.

And then things. This is where things become difficult. And, uh, SiteGround has been doing this since 2004 and, uh, that’s a lot, a long time. So, uh, being able to consistently provide with a quality product is, uh, what I believe is our greatest success, because it’s not about having a very good hosting company for a year. And then. Just break under the pressure of your.

Joe Howard: Are you so thanks so much for jumping on, man. It was nice to have you on the pod. It was really nice just to catch up with you. It’s good to see you. It’s good to, good, to just have a chance to chat for a few minutes. So let’s start wrapping up. And once you tell folks where they can find you online, where they can find SiteGround online, all that jazz, social media, whatever.

Hristo Pandjarov: Well, basically we’re on every social media that you can think of. So we have official proposals. Um, for, um, frequent, uh, the WordPress speed up groups in, uh, Facebook SiteGround users group. Uh, and I’m not so much on Twitter, honestly, these days, but I’m mostly on the, on the advanced WordPress groups and, uh, the bigger Facebook groups there. Uh,

Joe Howard: Yeah. Nice. Cool man. And freestyle also told me he he’s a cool to do an AMA, uh, in the WP MRR community. So he’ll be in the WPR community as well. So if anybody listening, uh, is a member of that, uh, you can find him, uh, there as well. And if you’re not a member, why or why not go ahead and get signed up.

Um, cool. Last but not least Festo. I always ask our guests to the show to ask our listeners for a little, uh, apple podcast review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking folks to leave us a little review at, uh, Okay. Awesome. Uh, yeah, you should totally do that. Uh, a review, uh, reviews and, uh, um, giving back to, to, to content like that is very important for people who do it.

Uh, it takes very little of your time, but it means a lot to, to people behind the scenes because you know, mostly people who are not happy tend to live reviews. So build a different sense. I live a good one. So we can have nice things. There you go. That’s true. I know it’s either like people who really like it or like, don’t like it very much.

So we don’t have too many people. I don’t think who don’t like it. I w I don’t think, I think our lowest star review is a four-star review and that’s only because I asked someone like, Hey, like a perfect five star review, kind of looks a little fake. Could someone leave us a four-star view? So we can have like 4.9 instead of 5.0, and I can’t remember who it was, but one of my friends was like, oh, okay.

Four stars. But not five stars yet. So yeah, pretty stuff. Thanks so much for that. Ask if people want to leave a review for the show, you can go to WP mrr.com forward slash review redirects. You write to, uh, the place in apple podcasts to leave a review. If you’re on a apple device or a Mac, uh, if you are a new listener to the show, uh, feel free to check out some older episodes.

You’ve got like 160 plus older episodes. Uh, just go to WP, M R r.com forward slash podcast, and just use the search bar there. If you have any topics that are current challenge, or you just want to binge some old episodes, feel free to go through some old ones, uh, and use the search bar to search for some keywords, uh, and listen to.

And an episode that will help you level up your business. If you get a little tired of listening to me every week and you want to be more active and growing your MRR, we have a whole community around a responsibly growing our monthly recurring revenue and hitting MRR. Stones together. Um, so just check out community dot WP, mrr.com.

We’ve got a nice asynchronous community they’re built on circle. So feel free to join us there. That is all for this week on the WP MRR WordPress podcast, we will be in your, in your earbuds again. Uh, next Tuesday, Krzysztof. Thanks again for being on man. It’s been real.

It’s for Kerry was fun. All right. Bye buddy.

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