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November 2021

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E174 – Starting a Freelance Career (Sam Smith, gsamsmith.com)

In today’s episode, we get to listen again to Joe and Sam’s conversation about joining WordPress. They discuss Sam’s stories during his firefighter days, how he stumbled upon WordPress and coding, and his approach on how he successfully managed his time to build his own business.  

Sam Smith is a retired Firefighter/Paramedic, an Orlando WordCamp Organizer, and a Web Developer.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:18 Welcome to the pod, Sam!  
  • 03:16 From a firefighter paramedic to a WordPress developer
  • 05:50 Stories of injuries while at work
  • 09:17 Taking little bits per day to successfully launch a business
  • 17:24 Build on relationships and have real friends in the industry
  • 24:59 What’s it like to organize a WordCamp?
  • 28:23 Getting a jump on blog impressions
  • 30:19 The Martian
  • 33:59 Find Sam online 

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: Hey, Hey, WordPress people. Welcome back to the WP MRR WordPress podcast. I’m Joe and

Sam Smith: I am Boba

Joe Howard: Fett and you’re listening to the WordPress business podcast, Boba Fett awesome character from the star wars franchise. One of my favorites kind of funny that I actually offer recording. This is our second time recording.

And the first time I screwed up. May actually went off the whole wrong character. We know about what that is crazy. Anyway, Boba Fett, one of the best, most bad-ass characters in the star wars franchise, what’s going on Bubba

Sam Smith: much, uh, refraining from disintegrating, anybody because a Darth Vader has banded that for the foreseeable future.

But once I give him Han solo, I will go back to disintegrating

Joe Howard: to my, well, yeah, there you go. You’ve got hon frozen, hopefully. So hopefully he won’t put up too much. Too much of a fight. He’s got that carbonate around him, but cool. Boba Fett. Great. And again, one of the most bad ass characters, you’re, you’re pretty bad ass too.

So I think, I think there’s an equivalent. They’re not actually bubbled FET or actually, you know, maybe you could be Boba with, I don’t know, got that helmet on. Never know we’ve got, we’ve got Sam Smith on the podcast this week. One of my favorite WordPress people. Sam, why don’t you tell people a little bit about yourself, a little bit about your history with WordPress.

Sam Smith: Um, so I am kind of a newcomer to WordPress only been doing this about two and a half years. I will say two and a half years ago, I typed into a Google search bar. What is WordPress?

Joe Howard: And we’ve all been in

Sam Smith: it since then. I’ve just been a hook line and singer I, uh, changed careers and, you know, doing this full-time.

And then, I launched my own freelance WordPress company. I’m doing custom development stuff and building sites and all that good stuff.

Joe Howard: Yeah, for sure. I’m actually glad that you, uh, you said at some point you looked up what is WordPress? We actually just published an article on WP buffs blog that focuses on that keyword in search results.

What is WordPress? So I’m glad we have some real data on at least one person act, you know, it’s not just, oh, this many people we saw doing some keyword research. This many people search this, we actually have. Now I’m talking to someone who actually searched that. So very cool. Yeah, man. And so you’re two and a half years or so into WordPress.

We’ve hung out a bunch of word camps and stuff. So we’re buds at this point. Yeah. Yeah. Heck yeah. Let’s why don’t you tell people also like previous, like what have your two and a half years, what have you been doing and WordPress for the, for the past two and a half years, you just kind of now going off doing some more freelance work.

Um, so if anybody has any projects we’re working on, they need a bad-ass developer to come in and help. We got Sam right here, but uh, what else have you been doing the.

Sam Smith: Just kind of go into word camps. Um, oh, and let me clarify the question, what am I doing in WordPress now? Or how did I kind of do that sort of transition into

Joe Howard: it?

Yeah, let’s talk about that. That, that, this is super interesting to me because the first time we met at a word camp, I think it was probably the first time I kind of heard about what you were doing before you jumped into WordPress. And it was like, whoa, I don’t really hear that kind of, uh, that kind of history from most people, but yeah, you just had a story come out and hero press about this but why don’t you tell people who may not have read that hero?


Sam Smith: Heck. Yeah. And the thing is with those here, press articles. It was like, I was trying to condense it all into like 2000 words. And I was like, man, if, if I just like, didn’t pay attention to the words, I could’ve gone for like 6,000 and go into rabbit holes and all this other stuff. But I won’t do that here.


Joe Howard: um, we’ve got all day, man. We’ve got all day. So don’t worry.

Sam Smith: This records for how long you said. Um, yeah, so two and a half years ago, I was a firefighter paramedic for a city down here in Florida. Um, was doing that for, at that point, probably six years. I ended my career at eight years. There was just some stuff I spoke briefly about it.

Yeah. And the hero press article, but, um, I was just kind of losing passion for, for that career. Also, I sustained a few injuries, back problems, dominant problems. And, uh, I was like 27 at the time. And I was like, man, I’m falling apart. Like, how am I going to do this for another 13 years? Because the typical career for firefighters 20 years, a lot of people go, um, further.

Um, but then I actually. Kind of stumbled upon HTML on a YouTube tutorial video. I didn’t even own a computer at this point. I was borrowing my wife’s back over here. This is great. And because it was like, ah, it’s a Saturday, I’m going to be bored at the station. Can I please borrow your computer? So I’m not just like sitting at the recliner doing nothing.

And so I was like, surely, surely it cannot be as easy as what I’m saying. To create a webpage. And then, so it was like H one, hello, world. Closing H one tag,

Joe Howard: I’m a coder. I did it. I was

Sam Smith: like, oh my God. So this is everything. I was like, this is everything like everything I’ve been seeing on the web until this point.

It’s just these

Joe Howard: characters. Yeah. You just type that over and over again. And then you have a beautiful website. That’s how it works.

Sam Smith: Yeah, exactly. At that. That’s when it started hitting me to where I was like, oh my God, these are. I’m seeing all these other beautiful websites and I’m like, how are people doing this?

And then I kept seeing WordPress, you know, in the, the YouTube search bar. Then finally it was like, what the heck is this thing? Nice.

Joe Howard: Nice. And so you’re like a self-taught WordPress person. I think most people are pretty self-taught and you kind of came in with the, and the transition from kind of long time as a firefighter and kind of self-taught into moving into this new area.

Yeah, pretty cool. I would love to rewind a little bit. I think a lot of. And myself included and I’m sure a lot of listeners have had injuries before. I have had lower back issues before and still a little bit here and there. But is that something that you’d still kind of deal with a little bit today?

Did you, did you use anything to help out with that? What do you think? Like, what are the things, the things that you think were most helpful for, for that kind of stuff, especially now that you’re sitting behind a desk most of the day, instead of fighting. Yeah.

Sam Smith: So I hate to say this. When I say I was lucky enough to be injured at my job, but all things considered, I was fortunate to have the times threw my back out.

It was while lifting a patient, the, uh, you know, you, you go to lift up the patient and you’re about face level with them and you just go. Oh, and you know, you have that look on their face and they’re like, what? And I was like, nothing. Don’t worry about it. Just set them back down to someone else. You just walk, bent over to the truck after.

And then another one, it was at a fire and I was taken a ladder off the truck. And, you know, I had done this hundreds of times up until this point. And then just this one time, I wasn’t paying attention to snatch the ladder off. And these things are like, I’d say 60 pounds or so the ex the full extension ladders.

And I felt a pop that was like pop. And that was when the abdominal muscle month, it was one of those things where it’s like, you know, there, there’s not much we can do for you. Kind of just take it easy, relax. And this actually happened right before my keynote talk. So I was actually out for probably a month or so before my keynote talk, gave me some time to, uh, to practice.

You know, actually, unfortunately I still deal with it today, you know, like I still get that pop every time I sneeze or cough or something like that. I just kinda brace myself

Joe Howard: a little bit. Yeah. Yeah. Back and back prompts, circus. It’s really, I know a lot of people who have them and it’s not an easy thing to recover from.

It’s almost like it’s almost like there is no. Real like certain way to go about it. Maybe everyone’s issues are a little different. I’m sure they are. I’ve got like a lumbar, like L four L five kind of lumbar spine, like somewhat slipped discom, which is very common. I mean, that’s very common in terms of people who have lower back problems.

I’ve tried a bunch of different stuff. Going to see your chiropractor has, has honestly helped. If I’m being honest in a lot of senses, I don’t chiropractor going to see a chiropractor is not something I would go for. If it wasn’t something that was like somewhat spinal, if it was like, oh, sure. Something random hurts.

Like, oh, let me align your spine. Like, that’ll help that. I’m like, yeah, maybe I don’t know. But this has actually very much helped me. So I really have good things to say about it, but. You know, strengthening my abdominals a little bit, actually like using my, but I found out like recently how to actually activate my butt muscles, like my glutes, like, oh, like these are actual muscles I should use when I’m like, you know, lifting things like, oh, you know, knowing that, learning these things from hip flexibility stuff, all this stuff really helps.

So I don’t know. I’m sure there’s some people listening out there who have dealt with this stuff. You know, maybe that stuff could be a little bit helpful. So you moved from being a firefighter. You’ve done some work in WordPress previously, and now you’re going and really doing the full time freelance thing.

We’ve actually had a few people leave reviews for WP MRR podcast and emailed in the show and asked about freelance. Stuff. I’m just kind of wanting to know a little bit more about what it’s like to go and try to be a successful freelancer. So you are a great guest for that, even though you’re at the beginning of your journey, actually, maybe even more so, because you’re the beginning of your journey.

Sometimes people like to hear people who have been doing it for 10 years and they have all this experience, but I actually think it’s really interesting to hear like what people are doing right now as kind of a beginner in the freelance space. So how have the first, I don’t know, month you’ve been, it’s been like a month or so now maybe, maybe a little bit shorter, a little longer, somewhere around there.

How has it been starting out for you?

Sam Smith: I think the most helpful thing would probably be honest because, you know, I, I would really like to be able to come on here and be able to say something that could help somebody else that’s going through the same kind of things that I went through too. You know, there’s, it feels like periods.

Like you have a period where you’re just like, there’s, there’s nothing else that I would rather do than start my own business. And then you wake up one morning and it’s like six 30 and you’re sitting there. Yeah. Did I really just tell my job that who, who is really happy with paying me money? Like they, they are totally fine with keeping me on and paying me a salary.

And I just told these people. I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to do my own thing. You get flooded with those, what ifs, you know, some anxieties where you’re just like, man, you know, I really don’t know where that next paycheck is kind of coming from. And so it really feels like that. It feels like you just come and in and out of phases and then slowly just started executing things.

So one of the big things for me was I had this huge task and list of things that I needed to get done, to be able to launch my business and. Do it properly. And so I just started taking little bits per day and I’m like, I’m going to accomplish this tiny bit a day. And I, I know I’m not the first one to try that.

I, I learned from other people that

Joe Howard: whoa, what a novel idea.

Sam Smith: And so it just, it was one of those things where I just kept adding. Maybe, I didn’t know where this was going, but you know what I’m going to act. And I kept doing it in those periods of what am I doing? Kept getting smaller. And those periods of, I couldn’t see myself doing anything, but this kept growing.

I wouldn’t say that I’m out of the woods. There’s still definitely mornings when I wake up and I’m like, eh, you’re not a business owner, buddy. You are, you are a worker bee, but just keep getting up, keep up. Yeah.

Joe Howard: Oh man. I think that’s, I think that’s really important. I mean, I have a bunch of what you just said really resonated with me as someone who, who kind of runs a semi-successful businesses at this point.

I think a lot of people say, okay, you know, whatever, whatever, but you know, people say, I think if some people see me and our business and say, You know, Joe must be really happy doing that every day because it’s so successful. Like I, if I’m being honest, like yesterday I was a little bit down on stuff for the business, because I was just like having one of those days and it doesn’t go away just because some things end up going right.

And, you know, you build something, you know, you always have those thoughts with you. And then today we actually, our first WP buffs webinars today. And again, Kaylin ran our. It was actually fantastic. And I was super, super like happy today. So these things go in waves, it always happens. And the thought of like, what am I doing?

I think that at WordCamp Miami, we were hanging out at work at Miami actually. And Chris limo was on a panel there. And one of the things he said, I forget what the exact question was. And I actually forget what his exact answer was, but the gist of the. Life’s chaos, like building a businesses, thus building a businesses, chaos.

Like this is not something that is just going to be easy. That is what it is. And the, at the end of the day, if you can control some of that chaos, you can be successful. So whether you’re just starting out and where you are right now, you know, when, when you’re five years in and you’re hyper successful freelancer, like you’ll still have a lot of these thoughts.

And so I think a lot of people can find solace in that. Yeah, for sure. So starting off, you talked about kind of doing a little bit, kind of had this list of things you had to get ready to do to like, you know, really jump into freelancing. I like to think of that as kind of like, if you can like get 1% better every day, like that’s huge.

That’s everything. One step forward every day, you know, two steps forward one day, one step backward the next day. That’s okay. You’re moving forward. Or are there some of the things like the biggest things or the biggest hurdles you’ve edited, you’ve had to handle like jumping into really try and push freelancing for, especially at this beginning, like startup grind, like part of the freelancing where those big task items you were trying to.

Sam Smith: So it’s, it’s very interesting. There was a lot of things that I realized were, um, perceived large items, you know, I’m going down the list, I’ve got a list of like a hundred things and I’m like, this is a big one. Like forming my LLC. I was like, this is going to be huge. Like I got a file with the state, like all of this other stuff.

And then the closer you get to these huge perceived tasks that you’ve got to do you realize how tiny they are or how easy it is to just push right through. You know, and it, it may be different for me. Cause I had a lot of mental blocks that I was, you know, pushing through, like I said, like, oh my gosh, LLC.

Oh my goodness. It took all of about 30 minutes to, to knock that

Joe Howard: out. Yeah. A lot of times that mental state of starting something as the hardest part, it’s like, man, this is going to take hours. Like I just don’t even want to start it. So you push it off another day and then another day. But if you actually got around to just like, just go like do it, just like, just do it it, oh, that was fast.

And that’s a lot of cases that happen.

Sam Smith: Well, and it’s interesting you say that because that’s kind of how I brought down the little pieces, because when I looked at that huge thing, I would be like, man, look at all this stuff I got to do. I should play video games. I would take

Joe Howard: off. Woo.

Sam Smith: Yup. I was like, oh yeah, that looks like a lot of work.

I’m going to go play fallout for a couple of hours. And then, um, but when I did those little pieces, I was like, no, I’ll just knock this out in 20 minutes and then go play fallout. And then. Look at that, I spent two hours on it and got a whole bunch of complish nice. But yeah, no, some of the big stuff was, uh, getting, getting a personal site launched and not being super upset with it.

I am not proud of my website at this point. Um, but you know, you need something functional. You need to be able to take in leads and, you know, get your stuff out there. Um, so I I’ve had to change that. That’s a work in progress. That’s not an. Place that you, you get to so sight, um, coming up with like booking software that was.

And see I’m a systems person coming from my year as a support tech. It was like, no, we have, you know, workflows and you do the workflow every time. And then you slowly tweak workflows and then it gets better. So when I came into like things like bringing on leads through CRM or generating invoices or something like that, I immediately started systematizing everything.

So then, you know, I have this. Follow through that. I do. Um, so that was a big one for me. And then kind of just, uh, facing the unknown where it’s like, I really don’t have any leads right now. And I don’t know where, where those are gonna come from, but. You know, I’ll just work at it until they start

Joe Howard: pouring in.

Yeah. That’s the right attitude, man. Uh, and, and we’ve talked about this, we talked about this a little bit at, in Miami, um, and a kind of a previous word camps and such, but the, uh, the fact that you’ve been doing WordPress here for a little while, and you’re starting to have a good network in the WordPress space is just like going to be super helpful for you starting as a freelancer.

Um, like if you just came into WordPress, like as a total WordPress noob and wanting to start freelancing, that’d be. Like there’ll be enormously difficult, but the fact that you can kind of lean on some of the relationships, you already have to say like, Hey, like I’m starting to freelance. Hey, you guys have like 10 hours a week of contract work that you need done.

Like, oh yeah, I can do that. How about over here? Like it helps with both financial support and as you continue to build your skillset working on different stuff. So I think that. Going to word camps, going to local meetups. Um, like building that network. I, I struggled talking about this a little bit because I don’t like traditional networking.

Like I don’t, I’m not, I don’t like go to like panned out business cards and like do speed dating to like meet a hundred people in like a hundred minutes, you know, like that kind of stuff. I don’t think it’s very effective, but there are definitely. In which like networking quote unquote is, is just kind of hanging out and talk with people.

Like that’s how we met. Right. It was like networking, quote unquote, but we just like met and was like, what’s up? What’s up? Okay, cool. We’re friends now. Like it was, it wasn’t a, like a business arrangement. It was just like, you know, you meet people. Close and friends with people. And then, Hey, like maybe some stuff there’s some synergy there to, you know, do some work together.

So yeah. WordPress community. Yeah.

Sam Smith: Funny you say that. Um, because when I was, um, growing up, my stepfather was in the local chamber of commerce and. You know, this was like, turn them away, like two thousands, like early two thousands type era. And it was heavy that where it’s like, oh yes, here’s my business card.

Let me judge your business card. And you know, if we have any prospects, we’ll, we’ll get back to you. And it was one of those where it was like, I didn’t dislike that. Please don’t take that as a knock to a chamber of

Joe Howard: commerce or, Hey everyone here, who’s who part of a chamber of commerce is like, wow, Sam, that asshole turn

Sam Smith: him off.


Joe Howard: try again next week.

Sam Smith: But no, it was one of those things where it’s like, I did personally want something different. I wanted to be able to build relationships and have friends. And you know, what, if stuff came out of it, that’s totally fine too. But the friendships were the number one, you know, the push for all of this work camp stuff.

Joe Howard: Yeah, totally. I think it’s, it can be funny too, when you do prioritize that, it’s funny how some business opportunities just can happen to fall from that. Like, you kind of realize like you actually should be like going to like make friends and be friendly with people just to like make, you know, to make new acquaintances and to do that because that’s where most of the business happenings happen to fall through.

Most people wanna work with people. They want to work with. Did I say that right? Most people want to work with people who they want to work with. Yeah. That makes sense. Right? You want to work with people who you, who you engage with are just on a personal level. I think most people would agree with that.

So if that comes first, then the rest can, can kind of drip down from that. Dude. You mentioned fallout. Are you a, are you a gamer of sorts?

Sam Smith: So I wouldn’t say that I’m a heavy gamer. Especially now that I started probably in October, November, I really started hitting the dev stuff hard. And so all of my free time was kind of getting sapped up with all that.

But I do like a lot of RPGs. I’ve really liked fallout series. I know people are losing their minds over 76, but I rather

Joe Howard: enjoy. I dunno what that is.

Sam Smith: So it was a I’ll touch on this briefly, but the fallout of the fallout series a was a beautiful role playing game with, you know, so many dynamic storylines and everything with this last release, they kind of, they kind of kept that, but they made it an entirely multiplayer.

Um, experience where, you know, everybody jumps on a server and they all interact with each other. And that was such a deviation from the normal release that, you know, the game comes out with. And man, the diehards we’re losing it, but. Yeah. Funny, really funny how he went there, but

Joe Howard: I just ask, I used to, I don’t, I don’t do as much gaming anymore, but I was like a big time in high school.

Like I was like in the like land party crew, like, you know, we got like threw on like halo, like original halo and there was no online. So you got two Xboxes and you’re like hook them in through the land. Uh, and you just played on two TVs. One team of four over here, one team of four over there, man. Those are the days

Sam Smith: the best weekends.

Joe Howard: Yeah, dude. Yeah. You order some pizzas. My dad had ordered like Stromboli, every, all my high school friends are like, strombolis like every time I see them, like strombolis pizzas. Cause my dad would always order strombolis pizza and you know, you know, just be playing here again.

Sam Smith: Yeah, then it’s 4:00 AM. And you’re like, where, what, I guess we’ll we’ll sleep for a couple

Joe Howard: of hours.

I don’t know. Totally man. Cool. Well, that was, I enjoyed that tangent very much. What were we talking about? Freelance freelance ish thing.

Sam Smith: Oh yeah. And like word camps and relationships and stuff. I was surprised, you know, when we, when we were talking about friendships, as opposed to, you know, Leeds or, you know, acquaintances or whatever, it’s different when you, when you transfer into, um, you know, doing something on your own it’s D.

To think that you have people in your corner as opposed to people that are just like, oh yeah, I know Sammy is starting up a business. And the overwhelming support that I got afterward at Miami, you know, telling everybody about this launch and everything was awesome. It really did feel like, you know, like.

50 people behind me pushing me forward and helping me out and, you know, showing me where to go and where not to go. So

Joe Howard: yeah. Yeah, man, the, uh, I remember that too. It was like magical almost like we were hanging out a lot that weekend. Everyone was like stamped for this, like Stanford, that like, how do we help Sam?

Like then it was like, really, it was like, so cool, like to see that happening and that, you know, it doesn’t happen if you don’t, if you don’t, you know, aren’t there and part of the community and give to others and help others. And you know, it does help you back. It may not be immediate, but, uh, but yeah, man, that was super cool.

So like as a business owner, for me, it can be, sometimes it can be difficult to separate these things. I’m always very much trying to, to do what we talk about and really like value relationships and to value the friendships I make. And I know I do that, but as our business has grown, there have been times where I’ve had to start, like having more serious business conversations and like really like, kind of get to the point more and like, like, what are we like, what kind of partnership we’re really talking about here?

Like now we’re having these. Uh, in depth and detailed conversations. And honestly, I feel like sometimes I have more to lose now than, uh, than I did when, uh, you know, we were, you know, a small business of like three or four people right now. It’s like, I have bigger, I feel like consequences are bigger for mistakes.

So sometimes I feel like I can lose that a little bit sometimes because I feel a little bit more pressure to like sustain and grow we already have. And so sometimes I feel like I can lose a little bit of that. Like, Friendship stuff. Sometimes I feel like I’m more like, very focused on like, what’s the, like, what’s the deal here?

Or like, what’s the relation? How does this relationship benefit me? I don’t always want to, but sometimes it just, it just kind of happens. So.

Sam Smith: And do, you know, people that if you’re surrounded by with the right people, they understand that as well. You know, they’re just like, oh, Hey, yeah, there is time to cut up.

You know, uh, you know, the guy I work with Ben Meredith, I mean, it is really hard to get us focused sometimes in these meetings. Um,

Joe Howard: I can’t imagine working with Ben and it must be, oh,

Sam Smith: Yeah, it’s nothing but poking and prodding, but then there’s times where, you know, mats corralling us in and you just got to flip the switch and it’s like, yeah, we’re talking business now.

We’re not talking about the fact that it’s Ben’s birthday.

Joe Howard: Yeah, for sure. I feel like that’s a lot of, a lot of my job now is really just like putting people on the right path and like letting them go down the path. But like, I help people to find that path, so, yeah. Yeah. And spends birthday today. Do you know that it’s been.


Sam Smith: I’ve. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s Ben’s birthday today. You know, I think it, it was Ben’s birthday yesterday,

Joe Howard: too. I think I, you know what I think when this episode comes out the day it comes out well, actually any day that anybody listens to this episode, it’s actually going to be Ben’s birthday. So Ben is at Ben UNC.

On Twitter at B E N U N C. So like, feel free to wish him a happy birthday because it’s definitely his birthday today, whatever day you’re listening to this. Oh yeah.

Sam Smith: Did you see that? It was his actual birthday the other day.

Joe Howard: Oh no, it’s this other site and it’s not my birthday today. And it’s got,

Sam Smith: um, oh, who’s the actor that plays doc.

Um, he’s standing in the rain crying,

Joe Howard: cause it says it’s not as birthday. Oh my God. Pretty epic for people who, for people who are very confused right now, you got to go to work camps. You got to get some of these inside jokes. Very funny. It’s the better. I don’t know if I’ve talked to anybody on the show about WordCamp organizing before what let’s, let’s dive into that a little bit.

What’s a, you’re not lead organizer, but that’s cool. What’s a, what like, what’s your role? And what’s the planning process look like and what stage.

Sam Smith: Oh, gosh, I don’t even really know what my role is right now. Um, it was kinda like, Hey,

Joe Howard: this is not new.

Sam Smith: Yeah. Well, it’s kind of be like, uh, last year was like, um, organized Wrangler and it wasn’t, it was just, you know, like just helping out the.

Sponsor Wrangler, which is fine, you know, it was cool. I got to see, uh, the ins and outs of that. And then, um, I think they’re going to be switching it up on me. I’m kind of the gopher right now. Gotcha. So, you know, if, if an, if an email comes through or something, they can assign it to me or make a call or do it, I’m just trying to be available.

You know, if they need anything, just I’ll take it.

Joe Howard: Yeah, this seems like a lot of word camp or camp organizing. It’s like just making sure you’re being flexible enough to like a few different things. Like things gotta be handled and there’s all sorts of stuff that needs to happen. So yeah, I did a little bit of Edward campy west.

I went to contributor day and was at the, I forget what the actual, what the, what the area was. I don’t think it was like word camps. It was like community, I guess, but. I was trying to put some documentation together with a few people about like for first-time organizers actually. So I’ve actually done a little bit of that, but it actually kind of, it like got me motivated to like, maybe I want to like, do more like, cause DC has, has a lot of challenges during, in DC.

And I was like, maybe I should just like go and like be the head lead organizer of DC. And I thought less about half an hour. And that was like, Ooh. After going through all that degradation was like, oh shit, there’s a lot enormous responsibility. Like, so yeah. It’s.

Sam Smith: Yeah. You look at David Bissette every year and you’re like, man, that guy is, he’s running a million miles an hour everywhere that whole weekend.

You really try not to speak to him. Cause you know, he’s

Joe Howard: probably doing something stupid. That is true. I know. It’s like, I talked to him for 10 seconds. I’m like a cat doctor when you’re wanting, you know, do much of his time. But I actually, well, I look at David now and I’m like, maybe I should organize a word camp.

Like I’d be super fit. If I organize the word camp

Sam Smith: that you see that. That thing going around the community right now, you see a Nathan and how much weight he’s lost?

Joe Howard: No, I haven’t seen that. Nathan.

Sam Smith: Nathan Ingram. Yeah, he, um, he just posted the other day that he was, um, I think he broke the 180 mark and, um, I think, I think he was around the two 50 to 60 or something like that.

He mentions it on his Twitter. I think he was able to do it with like mostly diet. I was so freaking proud of him, man.

Joe Howard: I did see him recently. I did see him there and he looks, so you mean. I forgot that I was Nathan though. Yeah, man. I love that the community rallies around rallies around these people, because you see it on Twitter and like so many likes and retweets, and then like you see people WordCamps like amazing.

Like, you know, it’s, uh, I feel like the WordPress community is so supportive of that. Yeah.

Sam Smith: When I, um, released the, uh, the hero press article, like I lost my mind when I saw the, uh, the analytics behind, you know, like everything that took place with that. Cause I’m like a mild data nerd. I’m sitting in bed, you know, scrolling on my phone, I’m telling my wife, I’m like, look, look another a hundred impressions or whatever I was, I was stoked.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Yeah. It’s fun to see when things start taking off a little bit like, Ooh, like I’m big on.

Sam Smith: Oh, it’s funny on that real quick. So, uh, Tofor hits me up and this was like a couple of hours right after it had been released. And he didn’t tell me this when we first started, he’s like, Hey, are you in the backend of a WordPress site right now?

And I was like, yeah, I’m in the back of a client site. Why he was, he was doing this over slack. And he was like, do you see anything there? And I was like, uh, Hey, my, my stories in the new. Like this store is this on every WordPress site. And he’s like, yeah, about a third of the internet is looking at you right now.

And I was like, uh, I could like pay attention for like

Joe Howard: 20 minutes. Wait, wait, go back. What do you mean? So R is that it’s like hero, press stuff, like pushed out through WordPress dashboards everywhere.

Sam Smith: Heck. Yeah, dude, I wasn’t putting them away. Yeah. It’s um, it’s just in the news article. Like it has the feed and then underneath it, there’s, um, different articles to things and hero, press releases are.

Joe Howard: Wow. That’s dope. I didn’t know that that’s cool.

Sam Smith: Like my face melted. I was like, I’m in the back of the, how many millions of sites right now.

Joe Howard: Even if you get like 0.01% click through rates, like, oh, that’s like hundreds of doubts. A hundred thousand visitors, like, oh shit. That’s cool. Yeah. Well that man. Ah, cool.

All right. Well, we talk, we talked about some freelance stuff. We talked about, uh, community stuff. I like digging into things that people feel like they’re nerds about. I feel whenever I talk about my nerdom about, I know I can do all sorts of stuff and I’m a big, like Saifai fan. Like I love anything science and like space and all that stuff.

But you mentioned you’re a little bit of a data nerd or a analytics nerd. I think. Like kind of am, but not to the extent that I would call myself access because I don’t feel like I’m super knowledgeable in that area. Cause like Google analytics is like, I’m cool with that. Like, I don’t need anything like super fancy, but, uh, what is your nerdom look like when it comes to comes to analytics things or things?


Sam Smith: th the depth of that knowledge is probably the shallow end of the pool. The a C. The stuff, you know, like I’ve got heart, you know, the Hotjar stuff, running some data analytics stuff. And I actually, um, I subcontract for a agency in town called, uh, data-driven labs and they

Joe Howard: were actually people off.

So a webinar, uh, here, a couple. What’s

Sam Smith: that is awesome. So yeah, you know, I’ve got this wealth of knowledge at my fingertips when it comes to data stuff, you know, I got a little bit into like the data studio, you know, where you can pull in the information, the pie charts and stuff like that. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world once he showed me that.

But no, Chris and Sandy. Run data-driven labs. They actually were the ones that I think I even mentioned that in the article that they gave me my start, I was just a dude coming to meetups and they were like, Hey, uh, you want to kind of get paid for some of this, you know, on the inside. You’re kind of like, you know, I’m having a, like a freak out.

I’m sorry. I just whacked the crap out of the mic. I do that all the time. Boom. Hey, you wake. Yeah. But no, like, and on the outside you’re like completely stoic and you’re like, yeah, I think that would be a good, a good fit. You know,

Joe Howard: relationship, stay calm. I need

Sam Smith: to go to the bathroom. Actually. I just need to leave this room for just a minute.

Joe Howard: Yeah. It’s like the, in the Martian it’s, there’s that scene where the head of NASA is like, they’ve realized, you know, he’s alive on Mars and he’s tells us random engineer, like we need satellite coverage, you know, for every like rolling every three minutes and in the movie, she just says like, yeah, sure, no problem.

But in the book is she’s like, I had no idea at all how to do this, but all I could say was sure, I’ll get it done. So something I really enjoyed that. Yeah, that was a, it was really good. It was really good. Surprisingly good. Uh, and the, you know, I find a very interesting story behind actually the book that was written because it was very much crowdsourced.

It was very much. W who was the guy who wrote it, I’ll look it up. But the book itself, I mean, it has so much science and craziness in it. And it’s actually like pretty, you know, there may be places where it stretches a little bit, but overall it’s a pretty realistic telling of it. Yeah. Andy Weir is the guy who wrote it, but very much crowdsourced.

I mean, he didn’t know a lot of this stuff and he had, I believe, talked to a bunch of different people and get opinions from all these different scientists and stuff about how this would work, how that would work. It’s chemistry work. And eventually just like the guy in the movie, you know, solve one problem, solve another problem with eventually.

Shoot. And

Sam Smith: so you would definitely recommend the book then?

Joe Howard: Yeah. Oh yeah. The book’s really good. Highly recommended, even if you’ve seen the movie already, the book. Uh it’s uh, it’s one of those like vacation reads. I think I like to think of it as it’s like, I would love to have it like sitting on the beach or, uh, you know, hanging out in the wood cabin or something.

So yeah.

Sam Smith: Yeah, and I am also a fan of the, uh, the young Matthew Daymond, so,

Joe Howard: oh yeah. Very nice. Oh, cool, man. This has been real. We’re going to go in for a little while here, so maybe time to start wrapping up, but I appreciate you hopping on, man. This has been a lot of fun, always good to chat. It was funny.

Right. You know, we’re recording this podcast sometimes. I’m like, okay, I got get. Podcast mode, like I’m going to go like do podcasts. Like, I don’t know what that means, but I like got my podcast mindset or whatever, but for this one, I was like, oh, I’m just getting on and talk with Sam. Like, it feels like just a casual conversation.

So let’s finish off. Why don’t you tell people where they can find you online? I don’t know a website or Twitter, or I don’t know where you do your online.

Sam Smith: Must-have so I like to hang out on Twitter quite a bit at G Sam Smith. I can be found online@gsamsmith.com and I’m on slack. Some or you can find me, I’ll make that word.

Joe Howard: Yup. There you go with the, uh, I know you try just to get, you know, Sam smith.com or just at Sam Smith, but for some reason that, that, uh, that was a handle on that, that say were all taken

Sam Smith: up, man. I don’t

Joe Howard: understand it. Ooh. Who is a Sam Smith? I don’t know. Yeah, if you listen to any music you probably probably know already, but yeah, one of the same, I’m going to get a cease

Sam Smith: and desist letter in the mail

Joe Howard: someday.

Right? I got. Yeah, right. Cool, man. Uh, yep. G Sam smith.com. If you’re looking for some freelance help, uh, if you’re looking for some WordPress support, G Sam Smith is the place to go. He’s on Twitter. Go check him out. The last thing I always ask guests to do on the show or request of them is to ask our audience.

If they would please leave a five star review on iTunes. So you want to, like, you want to give them a little.

Sam Smith: Yeah. So, uh, I understand that you can only do five stars. If I, when you’re thinking in your mind, like I could do 20, I could do one spot, you know, just hit that five. It’ll let people know. And you don’t, I’m sure there’s a comment section you can put like, Hey.

Twenty-five or 30, but yeah, definitely leave a review. That’s how we, uh, we know you

Joe Howard: like this stuff. Yes. The good old 25 star review. I’m going to hack into iTunes and give us a 25 star review. Uh, that would be excellent. Yeah, you can, uh, give us that review. Anytime we actually have a redirect. If you just go to WP buffs.com/itunes, it brings everything up for you.

So it makes it a little bit easier. If you want to leave us a review. If you have any questions for the show, you can shoot them into us. And to me personally, just yo@wpmrr.com, I answer that inbox pretty frequently. So you can always feel free to reach me there. WP M R R video course around selling care plans.

If you’re an agency or a freelancer, like Sam, feel free to check out the video course. We have a 30% discount on there right now. So you can go ahead and check it out. Other wise, we will catch. Next week, Sam. Thanks again for hopping on. Thanks Joe.


E173 – Dominating the Enterprise Space (Mario Peshev, DevriX)

In today’s episode, we get to listen again to Joe and Mario’s conversation on the enterprise space. They discuss how a paid service should always focus on delivering prime and premium experience per user visit, pros and cons of different invoicing methods, different channels to hunt for potential clients, and the power of inbound sales.  

Mario Peshev is a global SME Business Advisor who’s been named “The next Tony Robbins” and “The best tactical strategist out there aside from Neil Patel.” His technical consultancy DevriX grew past 50 people and ranked as a top 20 WordPress agency worldwide.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 04:06 How DevriX started
  • 07:39 Focused on enterprise and high-scale projects
  • 10:07 Ensuring a huge website serves prime and premium experience per visits
  • 14:09 The money-making KPI
  • 17:12 A team of research and development team
  • 22:42 Distributing resources to keep customers happy
  • 26:26 Figure out how to contribute to the bottom line of a specific system
  • 29:12 Client invoicing methods
  • 31:30 Management and project roles within the company
  • 34:31 Inbound sales reel in most of the clients
  • 40:08 Strategic partnerships can be tricky
  • 42:11 Spaces and channels where you can find more customers
  • 44:48 Find Mario online 

Episode Resources:


E172 – Eclipsing 33% of the Web (Joost de Valk, Yoast and WordPress)

In today’s episode, we get to listen again to Joe and Joost’s conversation around SEO and WordPress. They discuss the story behind Yoast, getting involved in the WordPress community, leveraging SEO for content and marketing, and pushing WordPress into tremendous growth.

Joost is the founder of Yoast, where he’s currently the Chief Product Officer. He founded the company in 2010, after working in several different companies as a digital marketing consultant. The Yoast SEO plugin, which started as a hobby, became the main product.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 00:56 Where Yoast got its name
  • 03:48 It all started with SEO consulting
  • 06:54 Growth over the last 7 years
  • 09:50 Redesigning WordPress.org
  • 11:14 The community is the strongest aspect of WordPress
  • 16:34 WordPress’ market share in the web
  • 22:44 WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
  • 28:24 How smaller companies can push WordPress forward
  • 32:28 Find Joost online

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: Hey folks. And welcome back to the WP MRR WordPress podcast as always I’m Joe and I’m quite God. And you’re listening to the WordPress business podcast. We have a, uh, old G Jetta on the podcast. Hey, what’s going on? Well, I’m still trying to find my next

Joost de Valk: Pato on, but, uh, other than that things are quite well

Joe Howard: as long.

Just make sure the name of your new pad wan is not Anik and Skywalker. As long as we can avoid an anecdote. And it turns into Darth Vader, we’re going to be all good. I

Joost de Valk: can’t make any promises there,

Joe Howard: but we’ll see you go. Yeah. The history has already told itself. I think that we have made your selection.

Um, very cool to have on the. Pod this week, not actually quite gone, Jen, but we actually have the one and only Yoast debulk. Uh, and I actually had to ask, uh, Yoast one when we jumped on, I was like, okay, the company’s called Yoast. Your name is spelled J O O S T. What’s the, is it, are those the same? Did it as your name different.

And then you had kind of a funny story behind that. Yeah. Yeah.

Joost de Valk: It’s actually a friend of mine now around Fishkin of Mars and now a spark Toro. We, when we first met 12 years ago at a conference to Stockholm, he asked me, has a, how do I pronounce your name? I like explained it to him. And he’s like, so it’s toast Twitter.

Y. He was saying that to me. And, and as he sat there, I was like, yes. And I turned around and registered geos.com and well, that’s where it started. This is what I started using the NIC for myself. And later on for the company.

Joe Howard: Very nice. That’s cool that you, uh, you, you know, ranch pretty well. Uh, I, I’m a big fan of, of ran and everything that he did.

SEO, Moz announced Burke Touro. Uh, and I’m also, uh, read his book a few months ago. It was right when it came out. Uh, and honestly couldn’t put it down. It was one of the most kind of, you know, you read a lot of stuff in the startup world.


Joost de Valk: a very good read around, actually spoke at our conference last week.

Uh, and, um, I was chatting with them. Like I read your book and then I saw that you got funding for your new company and I couldn’t reconcile. So, uh, now he has done that in quite a different way for his new company, but it’s still, it’s always funny to us because we don’t have any funding. We’ve always grown, uh, basically on our own cash.

There’s no outside investors whatsoever. So it’s my wife, myself, and, uh, uh, Omar MCU, our management team. We own the company with the four of us. And yeah, it’s, it’s weird to me to look at all those dynamics of outside investors and, and, and all these things. It feels

Joe Howard: unhealthy. Yeah, I, uh, WP boss is similarly bootstrapped.

Uh, and it’s not quite at the scale of Yoast, not yet, but, um, I am, I feel the same way. It’s, uh, you know, it’s, so it’s so important when you’re, you know, if you’re raising money to have really, really the same, not only the same kind of value structure as the people who are investing in your company, but the same idea and where the company is going and.

Even if you do have that, I think the chances are still high that, you know, you’re getting into a marriage at that point. And it’s, if there’s something that’s different thinking between the two parties, then there’s going to be trouble down the line and you can, you can avoid all that. Although maybe moving a little bit slower.

Bootstrap. And self-fund, I mean, now that we’re kind of diving into this, I have some questions I kind of want to talk about in the interview, but the, uh, now that we’re talking about this, I want to talk about this a little more. What did Yoast look like at the, at the beginning of the company, you know, 10 years ago?

Uh, if that’s accurate, it’s not

Joost de Valk: even, it’s not even 10 years ago yet. So I found the Yoast, the company in May, 2010. Basically to do consulting. I was doing SEO consulting for some of the largest brands in the world and basically started doing that on my own. So I had a, a couple of clients that, um, I could take along from my previous job, including eBay.

So I had a very safe salary based on that. Uh, but it was just me. There was no WordPress SEO plugin yet. I mean, I had some plugins, but it was all relatively small and there was certainly no money coming from that. And over time, I, um, made a lot of money on affiliate for hosting stuff and hired my first employee, um, Hughes.

Now one of our partners to help me in doing. And then in 2012 we started selling plug-ins and only early 2014, we started selling WordPress SEO premium and as a that’s five years ago.

Joe Howard: Yeah. So that’s really four or five years. The, that, uh, you’ve really started to see some, you know, more financial success.

I think that’s an important lesson for people listening. It takes, sometimes it takes time why,

Joost de Valk: and we were already growing. We weren’t doing well. I mean, we w we can seriously, could not compete. The step from being two people in 2012 to being, uh, over 100 people now is it was quite

Joe Howard: a stop. Yeah. That is fast gross growth for a bootstrap company for one that’s self-funded.

I think there are few funded companies out there that can grow that pace, but that’s a very, very big challenge for someone who, or for a company that self-funded, it’s

Joost de Valk: always a cashflow is always a challenge at the same time. It’s also like that challenge also keeps you. On your edge and the fact that there’s no unlimited amount of money, but you have to make like smart decisions about your money, because otherwise you will not be able to afford what you’re.

So you have to predict all the time, like how much of this growth that we’ve had over the last few months. It is sustained. And we’ve basically grown between 50 and 70% per year, over the last seven years. So, um, I mean, that is in many ways, ridiculous. If you look at it, uh, we’ve just been lucky in a way.

And we were, uh, we were quite quick into a market quite well. I think it’s always, it’s a bit more of a challenge when you’re completely self-funded and when there’s no external. So there, there is not, there’s never, there has really never been like a couple of million in the bank to, to feel free.

Joe Howard: Yes, it makes it a very, very different story.

Um, but cool. It’s interesting to hear her about how Yost came about and um, now kind of yourself and you’re moving in a, in a slightly new direction. Uh you’re now the marketing and communications lead for WordPress. Tell us a little bit about how that transition transpired. I just use two T words that might be a little confusing.

How did that all come about? Uh, has it been kind of a little while you’ve been thinking about this for the last year or so, or is this something that’s been more recent?

Joost de Valk: Well, so I’ve been working on like, what is SEO for WordPress and what is. Um, marketing for WordPress in general for quite a while already.

And Matt and I have been talking about that topic for three, four years. And over time we’ve been investing more and more time into a WordPress as host. So last year we had like 10 people working full-time while we’re press Corps. And I started feeling like, Hey, I want to be involved closer. My. I’ve been a fan and user of WordPress for over a decade.

I feel like I have something to add to the project that developers do not necessarily have to add because we, we had marketing, but it wasn’t really like coming into full fruition, fruition. It, I felt it needed more, more power and well, talk to Matt about that and, um, um, At a certain point, we decided like, Hey, this is, um, we should probably do this.

Um, yeah. And that’s, I mean, going into it now has also been very fun because there’s a lot of work. Uh, but there’s also been such a gigantic positive response from the community from agencies, et cetera, reaching out and offering design time and, uh, and help to, to fix things on WordPress would Oregon and more, you know, in a slightly broader spectrum.

So we’re redesigning to showcase at the moment we’ve already re rewritten like five or six pages on.org. Really old. We now have a roadmap that’s up to date. It’s like, it’s all that simple stuff that feels simple, but that I felt needed more attention than it was getting. And it’s had a positive response from everybody has been awesome.

So it’s a lot of work, but at the same time, it’s also, I feel like I’m mostly unlocking other people to do the work and yeah, it’s, it’s really cool to be able to work on that.

Joe Howard: I think that’s, uh, uh, uh, Underrated skill of a leader that they unlock the ability of other people to be able to do an awesome job, right.

Or job is leading. The marketing team has to optimize the whole team. It’s not just you doing all the work or executing on everything. You have a whole team under unit to do all that. You mentioned the roadmap, which is, which is, uh, which is pretty exciting. I’m sure. A lot of my questions I have today are coming from your blog, which is just yoast.blog, which it’s not Yoast.

Y O S T it’s. It’s your actual name? J O S t.blog. So you can check out the blog there for people who want to follow along kind of while you’re listening, but the roadmap, there’s a link to the roadmap there. . I think the first

Joost de Valk: step for us now is to get wordpress.org to be more reflective of how good a CMS WordPress is. Um, I think we’re not always doing a very good job of telling us.

And then also telling the story of which use cases where Chris is good for. So that starts with a redesign of, uh, some of the core pages on.org, kind of redesign and refilling of the showcase. Then I’d like to add, uh, an enterprise section to WordPress org to, to highlight a bit more where, how WordPress is used in the enterprise and what kind of things there are there, because I think it’s really undervalued in that area.

And then on top of that, but one of the, the longer ago implants, but that’ll take a lot of coordination is we have, we have all these work camps worldwide, and if I can make all those WordCamps reach one or more. Journalists that they can actually tell about WordPress and tell the story of both WordPress to platform and WordPress to community.

If I, if we can reach that, then we’ll suddenly have a reach that’s like very hard to beat. So I want to really involve the community a bit more in marketing, WordPress as a whole. I use all these, if you had us that we have not to just talk to ourselves, but also to talk to the wider

Joe Howard: community. Cool.

Joost de Valk: I mean, in a way we were, we owe it to ourselves to have that kind of.

And it’s also a matter of, uh, that’s something to match started last year by, by starting to grow consoles and by grow, by getting get HSCs and the hosts more involved. I think all of us have a combined, well, we, we all benefit from, from, uh, from a WordPress that grows and, and telling this story better together and using our combined resources to tell that story better is incredibly powerful.

Joe Howard: Yeah, very much agree. I think the community is, is clearly one of the strongest aspects of WordPress, um, and to continue to grow it, we’ll have to do it together. We’ve

Joost de Valk: done a relatively good job of telling people what the software could do, and don’t even think a really good job, but a relatively good job.

We’ve done a pretty shitty job of telling them the power of the community and why there’s so much more to justice. The list of features that, that they should pick WordPress. The fact that you can just start using WordPress and find developers. Whereas for a lot of butters, CMS is finding developers already is a big problem, simple stuff like that, that, that can make a whole lot of difference when someone needs to make a

Joe Howard: decision.

Yeah. Agreed. I think that, uh, you know, Christie and I talk a lot. Products in the WordPress space. And, you know, obviously like as, you know, you have to create a great product for, to, for people to want it, buy it for people to, to want to be involved in your community, under WordPress, all of that stuff. But the other side is the business development is the marketing is the communication side of things.

I mean, those things have to be strong if you want to see. That’s growth. Like you’ve seen it yellow straight, like 50% growth year over year for seven years. You know, the, if we want to continue the growth with WordPress that’s that seems like it’s going to be key

Joost de Valk: to be fair. WordPress already has the type of market share where that kind of growth is no longer possible.

Joe Howard: Right, because I don’t think 50% a year over year is going to be quite possible. If we’re going

Joost de Valk: to go from 33%, which we’re currently at to, uh, 48 in a year, I think I’ll, I’ll call it a success. I also think that’s the rather scary. No, I mean, let’s be realistic. The, the amount of time it takes for websites to switch over to under CMS is, is it’s not a year.

I think people build a website for three to five years. And so you’re not going to get like that massive amount of growth on the CMS side, switching out a plugin is relatively easy. So yeah, I think there’s a, we should aim for growth. We’ve had growth over, over the last few years. It’s not like the growth for WordPress has really slowed down, but yeah, I mean, we’ll just have to keep an eye on.

Joe Howard: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s really, it’s really important. What you said about the growth of WordPress powering the growth of all of our jobs as well. Um, at the end of the day, everybody who works in WordPress does owe it toward press, uh, to, for, you know, our financial freedom for us. I mean, it could have built

Joost de Valk: the most awesome SEO plugin for tumor and being absolutely nowhere now.

Right. I mean, I, that, that would make the market that a, that we could reach like 11 times smaller than WordPress without even a lot of my own doing at that point. So it’s like, we all have benefited from the gigantic growth of WordPress over time. Uh, and that’s also why I want to give back now and, and be involved in, in helping sustain that growth.

Joe Howard: Very cool. Speaking of Joomla, speaking of Wix and Squarespace and all the other CMS is out there, you have a very interesting post on your blog on stop. Uh, did you stop like blog that talks about some of the relative growth of some of these CMS has compared to others? Um, obviously everyone knows the defacto line.

No WordPress powers a third of the web. Um, I guess almost a third of the web just about there, but, uh,

Joost de Valk: yeah, at 33.1% now it’s like,

Joe Howard: But you talked a little bit about in this post is very, it definitely piqued my interest because I didn’t know about a lot of this relative growth. Um, and so from your calculations, you’ve kind of looked at how much growth, not just total market share each of these CMS has has, but how. Their growth has looked over the past years compared to the growth of the other CMS is around them.

Yeah. Right. Exactly. From what you’ve, uh, kind of discovered here in, in a few of your calculations, it looks like WordPress is, it looks like the open source market. Uh, or the open source market share is growing, but most of that is powered by WordPress. Um, the other kind of fast growing CMS is out there are not they’re they’re they’re closed.

So it seems like, although open source is still technically winning. A lot of people are moving to the. It just works closed systems because they want to get on, they want to build something, they just want it to work. What do you think the future looks like in terms of like, how does, how does WordPress play a role in that future is WordPress continued to be the leader and what does it have to do to remain there?


Joost de Valk: I think we’ll probably remain the leader. We, we can’t draw it at those rates anymore, simply because. Already as big as we are. And so relative growth is also a weird metric because if you’re our size, you’ll never have the relative groves on as Squarespace hat. Um,

Joe Howard: simply because like over a hundred percent growth or something for Squarespace, I think

Joost de Valk: it was a waste for weeks.

It was 150 it’s it’s high, but I mean, we can grow under 50% simple. There’s not enough web for us to do that. So it’s a flawed metric endeavor drive, but it is good to look at it to just realize like, okay, some of these guys are growing harder than you you’d think if you just look at the small numbers because the numbers are all relatively small, a Squarespace has like 1.5% market share now.

And Shopify has something like that too. That’s relatively small, but if he doesn’t look at their revenue now, And see how much money they’re making by hosting 1.5% of the top 10 million websites in the world, because that’s what all of this is based on. And that doesn’t mean that they have only 1.5% of 10 million sites.

They probably have more, but they just don’t fit into that top 10 million sites in the world because there’s a lot more than 10 million sites in the world. So in itself, that’s a flawed metric.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s probably important just to touch on for people. Cause I think a lot of people say the stat, like WordPress pouch, third of the web, technically not correct.

Or just to make sure that people know that when they’re saying that it does come from this w three score, uh, w three tech score of it’s we’re talking about the top 10 million sites. Uh, and we’re talking about market share of those sites. Yeah. Yeah.

Joost de Valk: So, uh, what they do and, uh, builds with another statistics provider does something similar.

They scraped the top 10 million sides as provided by Alexa, um, which is. Oh, it’s a, basically a flood, a flood metric, but over time it gives a good view of market share because you’re comparing it to itself. That doesn’t mean that it’s definitely the truth to be fair. I think that if we measured the entire web, our market share would probably be.

Uh, because I think we’re, we do better in smaller sites WordPress. One day, when you look at these numbers, you’re looking@wordpress.org and.com and wordpress.com probably does better in, uh, in this more, uh, section as well. So, uh, there’s not a whole lot of.com sites in that 33%. I

Joe Howard: don’t know to agree. If the 10 million to 20 million, I think you’d see higher than the 33.1% of WordPress share there.

Joost de Valk: So what does that look like? Well, in my perspective, there is a couple of things to note there. One is that Squarespace and Wix and we bleed, I got acquired by a square. They all have a lot of money to spend on. And they do things like Superbowl ads and, uh, uh pre-rolls for every bloody WordPress video on YouTube

Joe Howard: and a lot of YouTube ads for Shopify and Wix and Weebly.

And I’ve never been to their sites, but somehow they find me.

Joost de Valk: Yeah. Well, they target you based on your WordPress preference, probably so. Yeah. And they have a lot of money to burn on that stuff and we don’t, so we need to be more. But apparently that method of marketing is working because they’re growing fast.

Now all of them are burning money. I think we’re just profitable. I don’t know about Squarespace, but they all look relatively okay-ish, but, but they also look like they’re beefing up their numbers, but it will have to see over time whether they can keep that growth. But it’s good to realize that you have a couple of competitors in that top 10 of CMS in the world.

They’re spending tens of millions, if not more of marketing, uh, and uh, you have to be creative and outdo them in another way to keep up. Otherwise our growth might, uh, turn negative or, um, even slow that.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Yeah. I think that, whew, there’s a lot in there. It seems like WordPress. Yeah. I have a hard time thinking of it, you know, declining in market share, but it’s with the, with the fast growth of some of these other companies think it’s post.

I don’t think

Joost de Valk: that’s a, that’s a likely outcome. I don’t think that will we’ll quickly go to a decline, but I also, I mean, It’s one of the questions that I get asked the most. When I took this role, I was like, how are you going to look@wordpress.com versus.org, et cetera. I actually think that wordpress.com plays a role in this because it allows us to compete with Squarespace and Shopify and Wix, and I’d hope other people would build something similar on WordPress multi-site and use that wisely, et cetera.

But I think that. Uh, that allows us to compete with those SAS kind of services that people appear to be want while also maintaining the strength of that. And, uh, the fact that you can go to a full install for yourself on a, on a, uh, on its own server, et cetera. I mean, in, in the top 10 million sites, the vast majority is.org sites.

Why is that? Well, because they’re all too big to be run on. Uh, On a.com instance because they need more than that. But that’s fine. I mean, there there’s, there’s probably a lot more VIP customers in there or other like large hosting company, uh, customers in there. I know we’re in that top 10 million with yoast.com.

Uh, I can assure you that we don’t run them once in one small server is a lot more than. And I think it’s good. So it basically adds to each other and it makes sure that we have both the SAS side and a self hosted side of, uh, of this market. And we can cover

Joe Howard: that. Do you think though, that wordpress.com is the it’s going to be the main kind of tool we can, you know, that that’ll be battling against the Wix and Squarespace?

Um, I think people usually go to those for. Built out, you know, to, to, to not, not just a drag and drop functionality and the simple functionality, but just the fact that they can push something up pretty easily. And I think wordpress.com is probably more comparable than the wordpress.org. Do you think that the.com is, is what’s going to help us to continue to gain market share there?

Do you think it’s more. I think it’s

Joost de Valk: both, to be honest, I think both are still growing and I don’t know the.com numbers. So I could, I couldn’t even tell you, but I think we need both. I think we need it. Have the fact that we have both makes us stronger and, and the fact that we can add to each other. And because it powers.com and Matt spends so much of his money and people on making the product better.

I don’t think a lot of people realize how many people that really are. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s not one or two developers. It’s it’s entire teams of developers that are working constantly on making WordPress better for both the oregon.com and. That has been the investment that has sustained this ecosystem, which is also, I like there’s, there’s this dichotomy that people make from it that I just don’t think it’s true.

It’s one in the same thing in many ways. And of course there are differences and those are fine, but we’re all using WordPress.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I agree with that. I think a lot of people have this, like what is wordpress.com and what is wordpress.org and what is the difference? And it’s confusing and. I think that that is true.

I think there’s this, there’s somewhat of a, like, what is, what, what am I, some people don’t know what they’re on, but I think for the vast majority of people, it’s just, WordPress is a publishing platform. Um, you mentioned this kind of before the show and

Joost de Valk: we see people move from.com to self hosted and then because they want stuff that they can’t do on.com yet.

Hey, that’s fine. I mean, that’s, the ecosystem allows for that and I think that’s the strength, the ecosystem you don’t have. It’s quite hard to outgrow WordPress. And I think that’s a strength. I think that a Wix and Weebly and, and Shopify will have a very hard time competing with the fact that you can’t outgrow.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that does seem to be why people would move from somewhere else, like a Wix or Shopify to a WordPress, because, well, if you can’t do something on their system that you want to do, that’s somewhat custom or that they just don’t offer, then you literally have to move if you want to do that.

Joost de Valk: Yeah. And, and, and usually in our case, it just requires a plugin that’s already doing.

Uh, so there is a vast majority of functionality that we already have that they, that they have to spend money to build where we just have like this, these 40,000 plugins in a plugin repository to offer all sorts of functionality. I think that’s the strength of WordPress. It’s what I love about WordPress, uh, is that you can basically use it to build that.

Joe Howard: Yep. I agree with that. When I heard that you were going to be the marketing communications lead to WordPress, I thought you were, I thought you were the perfect selection for a position like this. Having run a company like, you know, because if you look at, if you, if you do a search for SEO on Google and you look at all the top websites, they’re all WordPress sites.

There are no Squarespace sites or no WIC sites. Yoast as the majority, having the most market share of SEO plugins in WordPress, you know, you’re significantly responsible for a lot of that. And I think that because we’ve been so sick, WordPress has been so successful as a publishing platform, not just because of things like Gutenberg, where you can publish easily and it makes it an actual.

Writing content is not difficult, but how do you get that content out in front of people? How do you make yourself visible online? I mean, that’s just as important as the writing part. And so I think that you’ve helped us get this far in Yoast as a company has helped us get this far only in, even the last five, six years, but really over the last, even longer than that, you guys have been working on it.

So having. Having gotten us this far. I think you’re, you’re the person to help us, help us move forward. I think you have a, you, you, you, I feel like you have a very good knowledge of where we are and where we need to go. So I just wanted to throw that out there. Thanks for the

Joost de Valk: compliment. I hope to live up to it.

Joe Howard: Yeah, no pressure, no pressure at all. The last one, the last things I love to dig into a little bit is for the rest of us here, uh, for me and other listeners for the podcast, um, you know, you have a team of a hundred plus people and Yoast, um, which I guess now is, is technically your wife’s team, uh, at Yoast, but, uh, y’all’s team at Yoast.

Joost de Valk: I still work for like, so I I’m in the Yost offices right now. I have four, four out of my five days a week I spend on Yost. And one of those days I tried to spend on WordPress. That’s about the shared time it gets. Uh, that’s good to know. I didn’t know that, um, in all honesty right now is it’s one day and all of my evenings, uh, But, I mean, there’s, there’s a choice there.

I do both. So I, I’m still the chief product officer Joe’s too. And I, and there’s a lot of cool things that we’re doing at Yoast. So it’s, I just want to keep on doing that.

Joe Howard: Very cool. The question I want to answer about the company is that you guys have a hundred plus people you’ve said you’ve kind of dedicated, you know, double digit people full-time working to, to be dedicating their time to WordPress development or pushing WordPress forward, whatever area it’s.

And like, what advice would you have for people who are working at smaller companies? Um, or even. Doing solo work, uh, you know, working with them. So are working, you know, as freelancers, et cetera, how can people help to push WordPress as a whole forward? Um, without some of those bigger resources that a bigger company might have.

Joost de Valk: Um, there’s a lot of ways actually. Um, I, I would always recommend you go to a work camp that has a contributor today and start there and see which themes that you like. And there’s a lot of different teams at, uh, uh, contributor days. Basically add new people and to help you get set up to do, to do work on WordPress.

And that can be a whole lot of different things. So if you’re a developer, you can work on core, but you can also work on a team that I spent most of my time in, in the last decade called Metta, which is like the team that maintains wordpress.org itself and everything around it. And, but there’s also a design team.

There’s a marketing team. Of course there is. The docs team, that’s just writing docs. So if you don’t have a whole lot of time, but for instance, uh, you could help us move some of the docs on, onto codex to the new help hub that we’re working on. Simple stuff like that. Even moving one doc a month over from one to the other would already be like, awesome.

If I’m a hundred people do that, we’ll be done in a couple of weeks from now. So there is a lot of small jobs that need to happen. And it’s great way to meet new people and also to build yourself a backbone of people that are very knowledgeable about WordPress, so that you can reach out to them. If in your day-to-day job, you run into problems with WordPress that you can fix yourself.

I, for us, one of the reasons we spend so much time on WordPress core is because it’s just really helped us a to know where WordPress is going and to even guide some of that, but B also to, to make sure that. We can integrate better than anyone else because we notice system better than anyone else. I mean, for goods and work, we’ve built all of the API APIs that plugins need to integrate.

We built those because we needed to, of course, that’s a huge contribution to WordPress, but it’s also a contribution to us being able to maintain the quality that we wanted to with Gutenberg for our own product. So it works both.

Joe Howard: Yeah, I think that’s a very fascinating point. I think a lot of people think about a contributor day is like, okay, I have to go.

And I have to spend time and extra day to like help WordPress. And how much is it really going to help my company or help myself as a freelancer? And I think it’s actually. Just the opposite. Like I think like the more you go to contributor days, the more people you get to know, the more closely you get to know WordPress, the core contributing teams, how WordPress really works and functions.

Especially if you’re someone technical, you’re going to really understand how to build software or build plugins, uh, or run a marketing company or any, or anything. You’re going to be able to do it better because you understand the network better. You understand you, you, you know, people in the space better, you understand a little bit better how the community

Joost de Valk: you’re learning from others.

I mean, dies. I think that’s the biggest strength of all of this is if you can learn from other systems and learn from other people. And that really is very worthwhile and they don’t have to be developer for that. I mean, one of the biggest teams had a lot of these. Contributed to is, is our support team.

That answers questions in the forums that might seem very benign, but it’s like the backbone of everything that we have. So I, yeah, I really urge people to start there and then figure out, okay, which team is my, do I feel most at home in that. Can I learn most in and then start there. And then a year later you want to do something else by all means.

Go do

Joe Howard: that. Yeah. Very cool. I dig it. Yes. This has been a blast. I appreciate you. Jumping on. This has been a lot of fun and happy

Joost de Valk: to come back and.

Joe Howard: Cool. Uh, let’s see, we usually close the show out, wanting to tell people where they can find you online, Twitter or website, et cetera.

Joost de Valk: At Jayda Volcom, Twitter, J D E V a L K a R on your stock blog, uh, as in J O S t.blog.

Of course, I’m on yours.com Y O S t.com. And then, well, if you. Got all three of those that you’re probably sick of me already. So let’s stick to,

Joe Howard: you can always look out, you always know Yost from the, uh, the, their style of, uh, of, uh, cartoons and animations they’re online. So I’m on your Twitter profile right now.

And I’m like, yeah, I see this all the time. Cause it’s very distinct. I always know. Yeah.

Joost de Valk: That’s one of our illustrators does those. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very worthwhile.

Joe Howard: Yeah, very cool. I’ve been thinking about doing more custom, you know, uh, or customizing our brand a little bit more with our design style.

Uh, and one of the main drivers is you guys, cause I’m sure a lot of people see you guys are like, yes, we know he goes through the animation, but of course it takes a lot of time to put all these together and a lot of resources. But at the end of the day, if you’re at the size where it makes sense. Well, to be honest,

Joost de Valk: I think it’s the other way around.

And if I can be real quick, my third hire was a designer. My, for fire was a illustrator. Uh, so it’s the other way around building a brand is more important than anything else.

Joe Howard: And it looks like I have some more to do after I get off this call. I was listening to this podcast. Reach out to me, please.

Joost de Valk: Yeah.

Yeah. I mean, building that brand is really simple.

Joe Howard: Hey, that’s an excellent place to finish, I think for anybody listening. Cause Hey, the, you know, from someone who’s built a company of over a hundred people, uh, that the brand was central in that. So design and illustration should be a first, uh, uh, think about it sooner rather than later.

Um, cool. Yeah. The last thing I always ask guests is, uh, if you wouldn’t mind just asking your audience to give us a little five-star iTunes. That’d be awesome. If you could just kinda like, Hey, ask people to have mind doing that. Hey, if you’ve just

Joost de Valk: listened to this awesome podcast and you notice where if a five star review, right.

Go do it. Now.

Joe Howard: There you go. Uh, and uh, if, uh, If you have any questions for the show, you can feel free to email them in yo@wpmrr.com. Uh, we answer questions on the show every once in a while. So shoot those in, uh, if you have any questions for Yoast, you can shoot those to us, or you could shoot them to him on Twitter, but if you should have noticed we’ll forward them to him so he can take a look.

The. What else did I have? I have Ms. Mills. I think I’m good. We asked for reviews. We ask people to email us questions. That’s all. We’ll have another episode next Tuesday, Yost again. Thanks for jumping on love. Hearing about where we’re presses going, uh, excited for what’s next.


E171 – Inventing Inbound Marketing (David Ly Khim, HubSpot)

In today’s episode, we get to listen again to Joe and David’s conversation around content marketing strategy. They discuss the ins and outs of content marketing, the strategies that work, how to leverage SEO for organic ranking, and the challenges businesses face in terms of growth.

David Ly Khim is the head of growth at People.ai and co-founder of Omniscient Digital, a premium content marketing agency. Previously, he was at HubSpot for 6 years serving as a growth product manager and a growth marketer before that. 

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 00:59 Welcome to the pod, David!
  • 01:31 HubSpot users are WordPress users
  • 05:18 Content marketing through SEO
  • 07:22 Tips on how to drive traffic through SEO
  • 11:30 The foundation element of keyword research
  • 13:40 Start a targeted content marketing strategy with your targeted keywords
  • 17:33 What is historical optimization?
  • 23:11 Testing assumptions vs assuming that your assumptions are correct
  • 29:26 Managers set the right mood and work attitude
  • 32:02 What’s keeping David busy?
  • 34:19 The scripts in your mind that hold you back
  • 38:51 With money, some challenges get bigger
  • 41:12 Focusing on monthly recurring revenue
  • 44:03 Find David online

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: Hey, cool people. Welcome back to the WP MRR WordPress podcast. I’m Joe and I’m Darth Maul, and you’re listening to the WordPress business. The podcast we’ve got Darth Maul on the pod this week. Hopefully you’re doing okay after getting zoo lightsaber didn’t half the other day. I was, must have been pretty rough.

David Ly Khim: It’s tough afterward, but Hey, now we get to join you on this podcast. So it’s not that bad.

Joe Howard: That’s right. People who are listening to actually don’t know our podcast studio is actually at the bottom of that pitch, that Darth Maul got sliced down. So it was actually perfect. You dropped right in now. We’re recording.

So cool. So we got Darth Maul this week, also known as David. Kim David, this is like a WordPress podcast, kind of it’s I guess, for WordPress professionals, but you know, people trying to build a business for themselves, et cetera, you don’t work necessarily for a WordPress company, but you work for you work for a business that works with a lot of WordPress companies.

So why don’t you kind of give people a little bit of background about what you do?

David Ly Khim: Yeah. So my background was WordPress actually goes back maybe almost 10 years now. I’ve been building my own personal website on WordPress. I used to tink around a lot. I was one of those guys that, you know, I want my website to look a certain way, end up staying up until 4:00 AM, just going through the code and making it look perfect or at least trying to, and, you know, ever since then, I continue to recommend WordPress as the CRM that people get started with whenever they need a website.

And it’s interesting because, you know, HubSpot, while we don’t do anything directly in WordPress, you know, our website’s not built on WordPress, but a lot of our customers do use WordPress as the CMS, CMS of choice. And that makes complete sense. And a lot of our agency partners also service clients who use WordPress.

And it just made sense for us to better understand how we can serve. These users who are using a different CMS from HubSpot, but still want to continue using host bus tools. My job is to make sure that we’re giving them the best experience possible and you know, where we’ve got a long way to go. It just has been a relatively new initiative for us, but we’re learning as we go and we’re getting to speak to a lot of customers.

It’s been a good journey so far, and I think it’s going to continue being extremely interesting learning from the community.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s so cool. I remember you guys were at word camp, because we had a sponsorship booth and you guys were like four sponsorship boosts down from us. This was right. This was just after we had hired a new head of marketing Kailyn. And she was like nerding out that HubSpot had a booth there and she was like, I’m HubSpot certified.

And like these five things like amazing. She was like hanging out at your booth. And we were like, HubSpot, like. And look at this, like what, five, six months later, we’re kind of big HubSpot users, I guess. I wouldn’t say power users yet, but moving into becoming power users, we use HubSpot the whole sales CRM.

We’re pretty deep into it at this

David Ly Khim: point. It’s me really happy to hear. And you know, that that sponsorship was extremely interesting. It was how the first time we got engaged in the community and we want it to come in very lightly, you know, we’re new entrance and we want to understand a community, not, not coming in with a huge splash.

You know, we actually got some really interesting responses where some people were saying. We don’t see you guys very often here and it allowed us to start having a conversation of, Hey, we’re here. We’re trying to, we’re trying to learn. We want to meet all of you community members and understand what value we can provide.

And it was a fun time. Yeah.

Joe Howard: Very cool. WordPress is one of those funny communities that once you get into it, you realize kind of how powerful it is. Um, I think a lot of people have heard of WordPress. Oh yeah. You build websites on it. You’re obviously experienced. Tinkered with websites for years now. And then you hear these facts like, oh, like, you know, one of three major websites on the web uses WordPress.

I mean, that’s a pretty big deal. Not only just because of the real estate that, that exists on WordPress, but you know, if a third of those websites are powered by WordPress, that means a third or probably even most likely, even more since WordPress is so powerful in terms of SEO, in terms of, you know, if you want to market your site, you want your site to show up in search results, really powerful for that.

Yeah. I think people are starting to realize like we’re preps is a good place to be. And actually, if I’m being honest, I think HubSpot is even continuing to get into it earlier than a lot of people. I think WordPress is still kind of like, you know, WordPress, whatever, but we don’t see as many of, kind of like the Googles or HubSpot’s in yet.

So, but you guys kind of both have come in early, so it’s cool to see. Yeah,

David Ly Khim: it’s exciting. And it makes me happy to hear that, that, you know, we, we, we see the WordPress community is a really strong community where. A lot of folks that we can serve, you know, we’ve been told that, you know, it’d be great if HubSpot can bring some of that marketing acumen and help educate some of the community where it’s a lot of small businesses or folks who are just getting started on a new website that could use more of that SEO knowledge or content marketing knowledge.

So, yeah, I’m excited to chat with you about those things.

Joe Howard: Yeah, for sure. We run like a semi-successful business here. Um, HubSpot is pretty expensive software. And so to get into it at a high level is going to require a significant investment so far from what I’ve seen though, that investment really pays off.

It’s a big investment to be in, but it pays out on the other side in terms of. The output, it gives you, at least for us. It has. So there are good number of people in the WordPress based. So I’ve been like, yeah, we’re starting to use. HubSpot’s been really good. So hopefully we can help share the love a little bit.

Yeah. Cool. And your background, I guess, is in, you’ve done some more press stuff in the past, but also kind of content marketing as kind of an area you.

David Ly Khim: Yeah, I got started in marketing through SEO and content marketing. And through that, you know, it was kind of in a dark ages of SEO. When I started, fortunately, I didn’t get involved in too much, uh, the black hat stuff.

So I’m quite pure in that sense, but my focus has always been on content marketing in the beginning, and then it slowly evolved into more doing partnerships and product management. And it’s been interesting seeing how content has evolved, you know, as more and more companies start seeing the value of content marketing, you know, Uh, was one of the pioneers of that sort of inbound marketing

Joe Howard: move.

I think HubSpot didn’t even term inbound marketing. I think

David Ly Khim: we did our co-founders Brian and Dharmesh wrote a book on it now, businesses around the world. There’s there’s millions of blogs being public. Every day, from what I understand, and as that has happened, content marketing has become more and more difficult.

It’s harder to stand out because there’s so many people that are potentially writing about the same exact thing that you are. And I think that’s actually a great thing, you know, with competition. I mean, The bar for excellence has increased. So you can’t be mediocre content marketing. Now you need to actually have good content that’s educational or entertaining and actually provides value.

And I think that’s, that’s a really important thing to recognize that just because there’s more content. Yes, there’s a lot of really bad stuff, but it also means that marketers are forced to think about what their customers and our users are looking for even more than just trying to put out junk.

Joe Howard: Yeah, for sure.

Any advice for people. And honestly, it’s, it’s actually kind of from me, like hearing from someone at HubSpot, I love talking to people at HubSpot because y’all know so much about the content marketing and inbound marketing and whatever you want to call it all. It’s kind of a similar space, but, uh, in terms of writing, you know, good quality versus bad quality from the opinion of Google, um, because at the end of the day, if you want to appear in search results, I don’t know.

Maybe you want appear in being results or duck, duck go results. Uh, I mean, that would be fine, but you know, if you want, whatever 93% of searches done online, you probably want to show up in Google to what are the. Two or three most basic things someone can do there. They’re starting a blog. They’ve written a few articles, but they really want to push into getting into search results and do a better job.

Just driving traffic to their site. What are like the two or three things they should do to really get started in order to like, have an impact there? Um, maybe not quickly. Cause I think a lot of people have heard this SEO doesn’t just work after a month. You don’t just write an article and go to number one, but you know, maybe it’ll take six months, maybe eight months, maybe a year to really start driving traffic and leads.

But what are those few things people can really start doing now that will pay off.

David Ly Khim: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I do tend to get that question a lot. Before we get into that. It’s interesting that you bring up Bing because, uh, we’ve actually found that there are a decent number of people using being search for there to be a good return on being ads and optimizing for being.

So maybe that’s something for, for your listeners to think about it a little bit. Not to not completely write it off, but right there, there might be something there,

Joe Howard: but for. Let’s

David Ly Khim: just not publish this, but for, for content SEO, the thing that I see a lot of folks making mistakes is they try to do everything at once.

You know, it’s not just writing one blog post, if anything, they try to write 50 blog posts in a couple months. I hope that they rank where, what HubSpot and I advise even some, some clients I have on a side to do is to really know in on maybe one or two topics you want to own and host while we call this the pillar and cluster a model where you want to own a really broad topic and that topic may have topics surrounding.

And instead of trying to write a bunch about a bunch of different topics, you focused in on that main topic, and you have maybe five to 10 blog posts covering different categories within that topic. And what that does is when you link internally across those different pieces of content, let’s say right now you have 10 pieces and they’re about workouts and say, you write about body weight exercises or workout routines while.

A workout routines with no machines, workout routines in a small gym and things like that. All those are sub-topics about working out. And when you cover all those topics and interlink them together with your content architecture that shows Google that, oh, this website knows a lot about working out. And because it has these different pieces of content and within the network of content, it covers these different sub categories.

And there’s a lot of search for it. Perhaps we should rank them a bit higher and that’s the way Google sees the expertise. You know, one blog post here about one topic and another about a second topic. And another about a third topic. We’ll. Not see as much success as trying to own one entire topic in its entirety.

Joe Howard: Cool. I think that’s really good advice for people to start off with, because if you, if you’re starting off with 10 pieces of content, you don’t want to make those 10 totally disjointed pieces of content. Like really attack one. I’ll kind of give listeners a good example of something we’ve done at WP buffs.

We focus pretty significantly on producing content. And so I just like those search for WP buffs back up. And so we’ve got like all the best backup and restore plugins. That’s an article we wrote. We also wrote one on how to restore a WordPress website from a backup, like the end to end. Oh, through the whole process, we have an article here, like the ultimate WordPress, Google drive, backup tutorial.

We found a lot of people were searching for doing backups with Google drive and how I can connect my Google dress. We did a whole article on that. So this is just kind of a small example of how we’ve actually done something similar. So I’m happy to hear what you’re saying because. That means, hopefully we’re somewhat on the right path, but, uh, yeah, I mean, and the, what the reason for that is not just because we just wanted to do some content on backups.

We kind of strategically did that because we do run a, you know, a maintenance service and it’s a 24 7 support service that we do backups for people. So when people come and while I want to read about backups, maybe they’ll say backup. Are taking up a lot of my time. Why don’t I just let this company do it?

So it kind of leads through that funnel helps us rank and then hopefully helps us in that conversion funnel as well. So I think that’s important.

David Ly Khim: Exactly. And I, I, so I think the other question people, people will come up with after that is how do I know what topics to cover, right. And I’m sure you know, this where it’s a combination of, well, what is your product or service, and also what are people searching for?

So there is the foundational element of keyword research and making sure that you find the keywords that actually. To your, what you’re selling, because you can be getting hundreds of thousands of views for random keywords, but those may not lead to any sales. And that’s, that’s just looking at the wrong metric.

Right. And I’m sure this is something that you, you thought a lot about.

Joe Howard: Yeah, very much. I mean, you, you said it and I have an example of that kind of, unfortunately, but also fortunately I don’t know. So our biggest traffic driver in terms of a single article, it probably drives 20 to 25% of all of our traffic, maybe closer to 20%, but it’s an article that converts horribly.

Like it doesn’t convert anybody. And honestly, it was kind of a crappy article I read. Three years ago when somehow it ranks really well. I don’t really know exactly why it does or how it does, but it does. And it converts really badly. So it’s not good because we get all this traffic that doesn’t convert, but it’s also like, it adds to our overall traffic.

It doesn’t get us traffic. So Google does see a lot of traffic coming to a website because of it. So it’s not all. But at the same time, you want your traffic to convert because if Google sees traffic coming to you and then bouncing, it’s going to be like the site shitty. So there’s a, there’s a lot wrapped into that.

But, uh, yes, I think that’s a big, actually a mistake we made early on was just writing content that was low hanging fruit, um, which is kind of a best practice. You want to look for low competition, uh, higher volume keywords if possible. Um, even though when you’re starting off you, the volume may be low for there for your keyword phrases, but the thing people forget.

That piece of content should be pretty related to whatever your, however, your websites are making money. So for us, if we were talking about random things, uh, in the WordPress space that weren’t around speed security or backups or other things that we do, it may not have been as effective for us. So good thing to keep out for, but that’s a good piece of advice for sure.

David Ly Khim: Yeah. And I mean, it’s, I might go on a little bit of a rant, but.

Joe Howard: Yeah,

David Ly Khim: I do think that content marketing does get a bad rep, you know, and people think about how do I generate leads or sales. Now they’re thinking about, you know, cold calling or they’re thinking about running paid ads and, you know, paid ads are really easy way to see immediate return if, if you’re doing them well, but it’s not sustainable.

You’re you continue to see decreases in, uh, ROI. What actually happens is with all that data you get from running. You can actually start. Oh really targeted content marketing strategy using the keywords that you’re already targeting through paid because you can actually see which keywords are converting.

And instead of paying for those keywords, you can actually just start ranking on those keywords organically. And so it’s, it’s a little bit ironic when people say, oh, we need to keep running paid ads, but in reality, it’s not mutually exclusive. You can be doing content marketing strategies, start ranking for that.

Not have to pay for it anymore. And if you do decide to keep paying for it, you actually rank multiple times on the first page of Google. So it’s, you, you do win. If you put more effort into content marketing and you know, I’ll see company, there was a mattress company I was looking at, I like to look at the constant strategy of companies that I buy products from, because I’m just curious.

And I’m curious how these companies got so popular. There was a mattress company that I saw ranks four to phrase. How long does a sloppy. Which is great for some reason, there’s a ton of volume around that phrase, but that like, no, one’s going to buy a mattress after reading how long a slot sleeps for it, but this website’s ranking for that phrase for whatever reason.

So it’s one of those things where it’s, I’m sure it’s great that they see traffic coming in, but it’s not going to generate sales. So it’s very top of the funnel keyword to rank for which is a whole different thing to talk about for content strategy.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s funny. So we actually, so we do some keyword research for ourselves as well, and I’ve just looked up to see what we rank for, like outside of the, like what we’re trying to rank for just like random keywords are ranking for.

And WP buffs is kind of a funny company because we ranked for some like, kind of random stuff around like buff, like. Totally irrelevant to what we do, but somehow we’re still ranking on like the first page for some random buff term. And it can, there’s some, there’s some crazy stuff in there that we weren’t at all trying to rank for, but just kind of it showed up.

So I guess that happens as well, but

David Ly Khim: what’s the strangest thing you’re ranking

Joe Howard: for, um, man, you put me on the spot. I can’t even remember what it was. I just remember that it wasn’t, I think it was some like gym thing, uh, like some sort of strength training, something. But it would just, it wasn’t related to like digital stuff at all.

So that’s always kind of funny. So one thing that I kind of actually wanted to talk about now that we’re talking a little about content marketing is so we have, we obviously kind of, since inbound marketing is so important for us to drive so many of our leads and partners and website traffic and all that.

So we measure that kind of on a, usually it’s on a month to month basis, but I’m kind of digging in a little more frequently. Cause I just like to look at that stuff, but we found from. March to April, just looking at those two months, we found we actually lost, uh, traffic, um, someone significantly for the first time, really in my memory.

Um, I think we lost like five to 7% of our overall organic traffic. Uh, so I’m kind of looking in seeing what’s happening. I see there’s a big update in March. I did some digging and some research. And what I found was we actually lost some rankings in some older pieces of contents that we had, that we hadn’t really done a significant update to in awhile.

And we had gone from like, number one to number two or three for like 15 or so different articles. And we were getting good traffic from those. So over the course of all those we lost, I don’t know, it was like 20,000 unique views or something, which is significant. And so we’re putting a big plan together right now to go back instead of.

Instead of putting our resources into creating all sorts of new content in terms of written content, we’re actually steering back our resources and saying, let’s go back and redo some of this old content. Is this something you hear pretty frequently that people do, especially when they’re running blogs that have content that they wrote maybe a year or two years ago?

It’s a little bit out of date.

David Ly Khim: Unfortunately, I don’t hear it often enough. It’s. W we, of course I have a spot we made, we created a name for it. We call it historical optimization. So

Joe Howard: our


David Ly Khim: we love shading names. Um, but that that’s, that’s wonderful that you do that because our belief is more content is not necessarily better. And if a company has already started creating some sort of content, there’s plenty of opportunity to create. Generate more opportunities and optimize that content than creating new content.

So that’s, that’s something that we would like people to do more of, um, because it means that they’re likely going back and making it more valuable, updating it. So information is more relevant and that goes not just for improving for SEO purposes, but also for potential conversion. If you’re getting traffic to it, maybe you could be testing it so that you’re getting more leads from, from that blog posts or that you’re getting more.

Joe Howard: Yeah, I totally agree with that. I’ve also been thinking a lot as we’ve been going back and restoring old articles, obviously there’s kind of the primary reason. I don’t even know if I call primary. One of the reasons is we want to make sure our rankings go back up and that we Google sees us as having the most authoritative piece of content and whatever area we’re trying to rank for.

And the second, just what, like where you said, we want to keep driving leads, uh, that content, we want people to come to that content really be like, this is really great content. Um, so impressive. In fact that, um, Download this ebook, or I’m going to go sign up for this webinar or I’m gonna go listen to this podcast.

Like that’s how you, that’s how you win on the internet. But the third piece I’ve actually been focusing on a lot as I’ve been going through old content is. We run a blog that, you know, get to a 150,000 unique visitors a month. That’s a lot of people that come to our blog for advice. That’s actually really important for us to, to update our content, not just because of those two things, but because if we get.

Outdated advice to people and, you know, 10,000 people visit SparkPost and get outdated advice. That’s on us. It’s kind of our responsibility to make sure our content stays updated, kind of for like the good of the web. You know? So that’s something I think that I’ve been thinking a little bit about that I think is also true.

It’s like if you run a blog, that’s big enough. That’s getting all this content. Uh, it’s kind of your responsibility to maintain that content too. I’m not saying it’s easy to do that or that it doesn’t take resources to do that because it definitely is like, I’m putting this big plan together and it’s a lot of stuff, but it’s important, you know, to do that for the good of the good of the people and the good of the WordPress community in the WordPress space, I think.


David Ly Khim: I do love that you do that. Honestly, don’t hear that very often. And you know, it’s funny that you bring that up because that HubSpot, we, we recently started doing kind of this user experience audit across our product, across our website. And we realized that, well, there are some pieces of a product that will, we definitely want it to improve, and we’re always working to get feedback and improve that.

We also realized that the blog while. It worked in a sense that it function and there weren’t any bugs there. We found blog posts from say 2007 that were completely outdated. , we had to make the decision.

Remove this blog post because it’s completely irrelevant or do we update it? And we, depending on a blog post, whether it was ranking for certain keywords or if it was actually valuable, relevant, Some we updated some, we actually just deleted, but we’ve been going through this process that we’re calling content pruning.

Another term that we just decided to create, you know, the content can either be updated, deleted, or redirected to something more relevant. And that’s how we continue to just make sure that the quality of our blog stays good or as good as we can keep it. Besides those stray things that just happen to show up that is not linked to anywhere, which shouldn’t be happening anymore.

But yeah, I love that, you know, even as a company that, you know, probably doesn’t publish as much as HubSpot does that you continue to maintain your quality of your website. And I think more companies should do.

Joe Howard: Well, we try to do our best. I think there’s probably always a little gap in terms of what we’re actually doing and what we would like to ideally do.

But I think that’s probably always the case with most things. I don’t think you ever really get to a finish line of things. So, yeah, that’s good. That’s cool though, that you guys do that content pruning, uh, and are always looking to kind of maybe even take away content if it’s not performing well.

Probably the first, like 10 or 20 articles on our blog, you can go back and see them. Now we have not done the content pruning yet. Um, kind of because somehow for some reason I like having them up there. Like I like people being able to go back and see my old crappy posts and kind of like it’s okay. Like my stuff was crappy too.

And we started, I mean, some of this stuff is, you know, nothing, nothing I still put out is perfect, but you know, we all start somewhere. So I kind of liked that story. Um, but I do want to perform well. So maybe it’s something I want to look into. Uh, but you talked a little bit about, uh, the pruny and stuff.

The running experiments is something else that, uh, I know that you guys do a lot of at HubSpot. I always think about like Facebook. I have a friend who works at Facebook and he’s, he’s always talking about not always, but he’s, he’s talked, we’ve talked about how. People can run their own experiments.

They’re kind of however they want to, and they can gather data. Then they can show that data to someone that if they wanted to do some, uh, their own experiments, they may be able to find something interesting just because they went and did it. I don’t want to dive into the whole Facebook data conversation.

That is a whole nother episode, but, uh, I do think it’s cool that anybody is able to experiment with things and find some results. And maybe there’ll be interesting. So, uh, yeah. Is HubSpot, uh, someplace where you’re kind of able to be a little bit entrepreneurial in your. Testing out different things or looking at different ways to do

David Ly Khim: things.

Yeah, 100%. So at, at HubSpot, we are, everyone has access to whatever data they may want access to. So it’s quite easy to start digging in. Granted, not everyone has the time to do that, but people are very encouraged to look into the day. Form hypotheses ask questions on why things are the way they are. So a lot of our experiments do take place within our product itself.

Some of it is on our website, w we’ve done some content, uh, experiments as well, just try new formats and things like that. But when, whenever we run experiments, the mindset that we always have. What are my assumptions? Why do I have these assumptions? How do I prove that they’re right or wrong? And just making sure that we’re always testing those assumptions versus assuming that those assumptions are correct?

I think that’s the biggest mistake. I’m assuming that, you know, the user 100% well, which is very unlikely, the case. So one example is we had tested our sign-ups. We have, I believe it was six steps through that funnel and we thought, you know, maybe we can improve the conversion rate if we add some social proof because social proof works.

It’s a foundation of marketing foundation of human psychology. So

Joe Howard: social proof would be like putting an embedded tweet in there that someone said, oh, this person’s cool. Or even just like a review that someone.

David Ly Khim: Yeah, we, we use the review, I believe, uh, from Shopify, which is quite a reputable company. We showed some industry awards that we’ve gotten and we show some logos of different companies that do use our product.

It turns out it didn’t work for us, surprisingly. So there were, we actually found out that there might’ve been a bunch of variables in. Um, that we didn’t control for. But what we found was when we looked at the funnel as a whole, without looking at any specific segment of people signing up, adding social proof, didn’t improve the conversion rate.

And that made us wonder, well, why didn’t it improve the conversion rate? And we started asking yourself as well, what was our assumption? That social proof works. Okay. What was our assumption that the sign of flow didn’t have bugs potentially with some other assumptions that user. We’re at a point where social proof would affect your user journey.

And we looked at all those assumptions and we actually found out. You know, it doesn’t matter what we’re putting on that page users. We’re not going to improve their conversion rate or they weren’t going to complete the signup flow because it turns out that sometimes the second page didn’t load. So we found a bug and we found that through testing our assumptions, we asked what we were assuming.

And then we said, wait, is. Are there other things in the signup flow that maybe we should be looking at? So that’s just one example of, uh, we didn’t, we actually didn’t think through all their assumptions upfront, we actually had to reflect on the afterward. And then from there define other things that we wanted to look at.

And I think, you know, there’s. There tends to be a culture at many companies, I’ve learned that it’s success theater. You only show what your successes are and not what your failures failures are. And it’s, it’s hard to talk about the things that don’t work, because it feels like a waste of time. And, you know, you seem like you’re not doing your job well, but at the end of the day, if you’re not talking about those things that didn’t work, it’s hard to learn from them.

So that’s, I kind of started ranting there, but I think, you know, that culture, that culture of being humble. And just learning from your failures or things that just don’t work has is a strong piece of why our growth culture has been getting much better.

Joe Howard: Very cool. Yeah, I’m a, I’m a big fan of humility, honestly, just because I feel like I almost have to be because like, what do I really know?

Like what does anybody really know? Like, nobody really knows any, I mean, I think, right. Like if all the information that’s out there, every human being has a very, very tiny, tiny, you know, slice of knowledge of, of anything. So, uh, there’s just so much to learn that. I think that, uh, I think that’s a good mentality to have, uh, especially, uh, well, I guess I’d even say.

I feel like with one person, like with myself, I’m like, okay, like I need to be humble. That’s something I can work on. I can practice that. Uh, okay. Now you’re running a HubSpot, this business, uh, you know, a thousand. I’m not even sure how many employees, thousands of employees, how do you make it? So that there’s a whole culture of like everyone feeling humble.

How did you make sure everyone you hire is humble? How do you make sure everyone’s, uh, uh, everyone’s doing, you know, daily rituals of making sure that everyone stays humble or even continues to improve in that area. That’s difficult. So it’s cool that you have found, or that HubSpot has found a culture that not only kind of promotes that, but seems to draw on that as it’s kind of, yeah,

David Ly Khim: it’s interesting.

How, you know, when I first started working here four years ago, the thing that was most awe inspiring was that everyone you speak to would just be willing to talk to and learn from you and also teach you everyone. Always just super helpful and willing to talk to you about what they’re working on. And that was something that, you know, it was very non pretentious and it continues to be somehow, um, our leadership has managed to, you know, maintain that sort of culture where folks are continuing to learn and teach each other.

Um, so yeah, it’s a very rare company to, to get to work.

Joe Howard: Cool. I actually liked, you said that, man, because I feel like a lot of this culture stuff comes from the top down. Some people don’t like to think of like top down mentality, like the bosses telling you what to do, but I really do think that a lot of times, in terms of like determining what the culture is, you know, your manager’s going to manage you a certain.

Uh, someone’s managing them. They’re going to manage them a certain way. Like it’s going to, that sort of feeling is going to come from top down. Do you have that kind of structure in your business? So, and, and as the head of my business, I really do try very hard to implement this kind of culture. Um, so, um, I feel glad that in even at a bigger company, people feel like that’s true.

So I’m maybe I’m aimed in the right direction and try and do something right.

David Ly Khim: Present. I mean, a lot of the culture is driven by who your manager is. You know, there’s a phrase that. So people don’t leave companies, they leave their manager, right. And if you’re not, if there’s a manager who tends to always be stressed out and moves that pressure on to their direct reports, then the direct reports are just also going to be stressed out all the time and not feel comfortable or not feel supported.

And you know, that that generally doesn’t lead to a happy relations. With that team. But I mean, if I imagine if you were thinking about it and being intentional about it. Yeah. Yeah. I’m sure you don’t need to worry about that as much as many folks. And I’m always trying to work on, you know, empathy and making sure, you know, if, if I need something from someone or need help.

It’s asked in a way where it’s not trying to pressure them or anything like that. It’s always, Hey sure. You got a lot going on wondering where this is going. No, not, not being demanding or anything like that. It’s I think that’s an important thing that a lot of folks that have SWAT are quite intentional

Joe Howard: about.

Yeah, that’s cool. That’s, it’s such a, it’s such an important skill. I feel like everyone’s always like, yes, communication is important, but like really is like, it’s important to be able to know how to navigate the workspace and to be able to, to get what you need without being pushy and to be respectful of everyone.

And that part is hard. The empathy it’s just, people are complicated, right? Good versus bad. Just everyone doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone’s complicated. The human condition is complicated. And so it takes, uh, it takes a lot of brain power just to navigate that. And so, yeah, I think it’s something we can all practice a little bit.

David Ly Khim: I’ve made a joke with a friend. I made a joke where, you know, just true. Um, not that I know the truth. If everyone, if everyone could just communicate, you know, 10% better, I think the world would be a better place. You know, we’d have fewer conflicts and we’d be able to have more conversations and be less stressed out, I would think.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Yeah. Humans are kind of these naturally animals that naturally kind of crave social interaction. And so it seems funny that we don’t practice it very much. It seems like anymore. Even now we’re on video chat. You know, why didn’t I fly out to wherever you are to, to record this podcast next time we’ll do that when we do.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. Hey, you’re always welcome. Cool. Last thing we kind of have here is just kind of mindset for growth marketing business. So like I’m going to actually on, on your website rap right now. David Lee, kim.com, D a V I D. L Y K H I m.com. Anyone’s interested, we’ll put it, we’ll throw it in the show notes and all that, but, uh, it looks like you work for, and it sounds like you work for HubSpot right now for the last four years or so, but I see some other companies here buffer.

We were some other companies as well. Uh, have you kind of in your career, it seems like focused on, on content marketing more and kind of through the whole thing, or is that kind of new at HubSpot? If you’ve done similar work for some of these other companies as well? Yeah. So for

David Ly Khim: those companies there.

Freelance work. And, you know, through content marketing got the opportunity to do some posts for them. And, you know, it’s, it’s great getting to work with them because I get to work with them relatively early on before they were too big. And, you know, I got to work with Kevin at buffer directly, which in some ways it’s content marketing.

Let me connect with some really smart people. Now, you know, I continue to work with some clients on this. And advise with some non-profits or mentor younger entrepreneurs and marketers. Uh, one of the things I enjoy most is getting to speak to those who are still in school and, you know, thinking about what they’re going to do and how to get into marketing and things like that.

And it’s, it’s always refreshing to get to speak to someone who, you know, is super excited about the next stage of their career. And I enjoy being able to help point them in. Maybe, I wouldn’t say the right direction, but at least trying to shape how they’re thinking about all, then letting them know that, you know, things, things tend to work out, you know, after school and you don’t need to stress out that much.

Joe Howard: Yeah, I think you have the right mentality about that stuff. I always, I give a lot of talks at word camps or not, obviously I’m like talking on this podcast. I talked to a bunch of people who are listening right now. And I see a lot of times I have trouble giving like pure advice to people. Like you should do this, you should do X, Y, or Z, and then you’ll get a, B or C results from that.

And that’s how you do it. It’s easy. A lot of times where I’m trying to do. It’s to help people to shape their own conversation in their mind and to kind of let them find their own path. Even when I give talks, that’s like about how to do this thing. It’s not really about how to do that thing. It’s more like, this is what I did and it worked, or it didn’t work and you can try to do it this way, but I have no idea if it’ll work for you, you have a different target audience.

You’re in a different industry. You have different most of the things. Uh, so yeah, but I think, I think you’re right, man, that, uh, if you can give people. If you can put like a good conversation or like self argument in someone’s brain to get their brain chemistry, thinking like that to me, is the value, like, if I gave you something to think about that eventually in a week, you’re in the shower and you’re like, oh shit.

Like I got to do that. That’s what I got it. Like, that’s where the value is. I

David Ly Khim: think. Yeah. I also, one of the things it’s, and it’s kind of related to actually, I think it’s very much related to growth in businesses. Being able to recognize any invisible scripts. That you’re telling yourself that you may not even recognize.

So one example of this is, uh, I spoke to a young woman recently who is just about to graduate. She was talking about how she is trying to get a job at a marketing agency, but also wants to continue doing photography and all these things. And one thing I noticed, so is that she continued to kind of doubt herself or just kind of add conditionals to what she was saying.

It. Make it seem like she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to do it. And that’s a tell her, like, please pause for a second. Like, what I’m hearing from you is you want to do all these things, but after each thing you say you want to do, there’s a, but behind it and some sort of statement where you’re definitely, you can do it.

I need you to stop doing that because you’re, you have these scripts in your mind that are holding you back. And it sounds kind of fluffy, but I I’m, I do believe that words are powerful. And the words you tell yourself about your. I really powerful. And it’s one of those things that from speaking to some of my women, friends, they say, you know, we tend to doubt ourselves more.

And I feel like it’s kind of a responsibility now that since I have friends who told me that straight up, that I need to point it out when they’re doing it to themselves or to any woman that does that to themselves. And it was one of those things where it’s like, oh yeah, This young woman that I was speaking to didn’t even realize that she was saying those things.

Um, and I think changing the psychology, even for myself, I do that sometimes every now and then as well. I need to catch it or have someone else call me out on it. And I think, you know, if you don’t do that for yourself and you don’t have someone else do that for you. Easy to get in your own head.

Joe Howard: Yeah.

There’s this quote that I always kind of think of most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Um, I forget who said it. I said like, uh, I I’ll I’ll I’ll remember it. I’ll say it on another episode. Sorry, listeners, chef, listen to another episode for me to remember what this quote is, but I’ll remember who it was at some point, but the, I really feel.

What you’re saying is true. I think a lot of people, doubt themselves. And in some sense they should, because especially like starting a business, right. It’s like most businesses fail. So like, there has to be some sense of like, this may not work even, maybe, probably it won’t work, but, uh, But the confidence that people do have to have is that they have to be confident that they’re going to have to work at it for a while to get there.

Like it’s not going to happen at the snap of a fingers. And if it does happen to the top of the fingers, like you were the goddamn exception and every story you hear of someone that did a super quickly was also an. Um, and the media tends to tell the stories of these exceptions. So you hear a lot of these exceptions, so it seems normal.

Uh, but it’s not, and there’s WP buffs has grown and gotten a little bigger, you know, we’ve got 14, 15 people on the team now. So I feel like sometimes I go to word camps and people are like, oh, that’s like Joe from WP buffs. And I really, the only thing I can think of is like weird. I am, I am totally. Like special.

I have no idea how I got here. Like I got a few things, right? Like most of the people around me, like powered me to get here. Uh, and there’s no secret sauce to any of this stuff. And so when I hear people like that, like doubting themselves, or they’re at the beginning of their journey and they’re like, how am I possibly going to get there?

All I can think about is like, I still, I still feel a lot of the same way, uh, that I did when I was starting out. You know, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of, there’s always a lot of self. Uh, I don’t know if that ever necessarily goes away. It’s just how you cope with it. It’s how you think about it. It’s how you shape your, your mental state, uh, around that?

Uh, it may not just be to like, get rid of it. Like I got to not be super, not confident sometimes it’s just like, yeah, like some shit’s going to go wrong and you’re going to have to deal with it. Uh, listeners have heard me say this a few times, so they’re going to hear me get tired of me saying it one more time, but.

The stuff is just stumbling successfully. Like you’re always going to be stumbling, but you know, if you can do it successfully and you can make little stumbles, you know, uh, you know, in a hundred days you’ll take a hundred steps and that’s progress.

David Ly Khim: So that’s interesting to me, when you say that the things that were challenging when you first started.

Some of them are still challenging. And I looked you up on Google and I found some of your interviews. And you mentioned that you left the well-paid consulting job to work there on your own startup full-time, which I can imagine was extremely tough and came with it sacrifices. But I’m curious to hear from you, and I’m kind of flipping the tables here, you know, what are some of those challenges that.

You still have, now that you did have back then when you first started. Cause I think it’s valuable for people to understand that those things go don’t go away. There’s no magical milestone, I guess, from what you’re saying, that where things are completely.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s a good question, man. I think that, I think a lot of the challenges I still have that I, that I had before, that I, that I still do have today, is that like, this doesn’t get easier.

I think like a lot of people think like I’m starting off. It’s so hard. Like, but once I’m making money, like it it’ll be easier. And in some senses that’s true because there are a significant amount of problems that you can just kind of pay to get rid of. Like, I’m having trouble with this. Like, okay, I’ll just buy that software to like, fix that problem.

Or I’ll hire that person to like, do that thing that I don’t know how to do. Um, like there’s some things like that, but a lot of times the challenges, they don’t get easier with money. In fact, Bigger and they get even more like raw and you have more pressure because now we have employees. And so it’s like the business needs to run, not just for me, because I think it’s awesome, but it’s like, oh, we all think it’s awesome.

And it also powers, uh, you know, people’s mortgages. Uh, and so the, I think. I think that it’s not really about trying to make it easier. It’s just about, it’s about like sharpening, always sharpening the sword so that you can deal with the difficult stuff easier. It’s never going to get easy. Like it’s not, that’s not what it’s about.

It’s not what this journey is about. And it’s, wasn’t what this journey was about at the beginning. And it’s not now. I see anything becoming easier. Like if we were five times as big as we were right now and had five times the profit margin and at five times the revenue and all this stuff, like we just still have five times bigger problems, you know, I’m sure the problems don’t just go away at some magic points.

Like it’s always, it’s always going to be something. Um, and so I think like getting in that zone of being. Is something that I think it was a problem when I started to instill a problem now it’s I wouldn’t even say I wouldn’t, I don’t even want to call it a problem. Honestly. It’s like, I would actually call it like running a business or grow your business.

Yeah. And it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t be fine if it was, if it was easy. So I try to enjoy the challenges. It doesn’t mean they’re always fun, but a lot of them are, you know, that’s what else are we doing here? That’s that’s growing business. So, yeah. Good question. Out of

David Ly Khim: curiosity, like I can tell you’re a super humble.

And, you know, you’re very intentional. And self-aware tell me about that first moment when you were hiring someone and you thought, wow, this person is putting their livelihood in my hands. Like they are trusting that this business will run and that I can help them pay their mortgage or take care of their family with the salary that I’m paying them.

What was that feeling like?

Joe Howard: That’s a funny question. I actually don’t think I really thought about it until we had like six or seven employees. And then I was like, holy shit. Like, uh, this better keep working because now I don’t know if I had that one moment. I think that as things are growing, there’s just like, There’s just always a million things happening at once.

And so there are only certain amount of bandwidth that you have as a founder or an employee. Right. Everyone only has a certain amount of bandwidth. Uh, so I think that’s just something, I was just like, we’re moving, there’s a lot of stuff happening. I just, I got stuff to do. There’s always stuff to do. And then we ended up getting to this point and it’s, uh, it was kinda like this.

People who are self educators. A lot of people in the WordPress space are self educators. They listen to podcasts, they read blog posts. A lot of times you’ll hear something that you need to do like seven times. And on the eighth time you’ll be like, oh, like I got it. I should do that. That sounds great.

And you’re like, why didn’t I do it the first seven times? But it wasn’t because you didn’t, you did a bad thing. It was just because you weren’t at the stage yet to like to require that information or it wasn’t important that, that old stage, right? Like when you’re one person like hiring, isn’t that important.

Okay. Now I’m hiring. So now I’m listening to. And it’s digesting more in my head. I think it was kind of like that, like I just kind of like, I wasn’t at that point yet where it was a thought and then all of a sudden it was like, oh, like, okay, the pressure. I now realize there’s a little more pressure here.

Um, so, but I talked about this a lot, actually running a business. That’s more subscription-based and focused kind of on monthly revenue, uh, is a lot easier than I ever, uh, than any business I ever ran. That was, that was. Based on like building a website or one-time payment. So I do a lot of focus on monthly recurring revenue.

So, but yeah, it does feel like a little more.

David Ly Khim: Yeah. I mean, that’s awesome. You’ve grown a team too. You said 14 or 15 people. I think, you know, few businesses get to that point. I’ve yet to start my own business to get that, to that, to that level. So I’m hoping, you know, maybe I can learn a few things from you.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I, you know, a lot of people, I think they think about the number of employees and then they think that dictates like, is business successful or not? Like if I had, um, seven people is my bill. Like for some people, like, you hear like 14, you’re like, okay, twice a successful business. But like a lot of times that’s not really true.

So I, I, I’m always like with number of employees, it doesn’t really determine like your success. You could have a company of one and be making more money than we’re making. Like, there are a lot of companies like that. I just chose a different way to do things, but yeah, maybe there are a few companies that are doing a little worse than us, so maybe we’re doing.

Cool man, dude, this has been a really cool conversation. I appreciate you coming on. I always love talking about HubSpot. I was like, fuck my marketing. And I always liked talking about business philosophy and all that stuff. So David, thanks. Thanks a lot, man. Uh, why don’t we end? Why don’t you tell people where they can find you online, social media websites.

David Ly Khim: Yeah, so focusing and find me a David Lee, kim.com. That’s D a V I D L Y K H I m.com. I am on social media, not very active, but it’s at David Lee, Kim, uh, my full name as well.

Joe Howard: Very cool. Yeah, man. I’m on your website right now. You’ve got a nice looking picture up here. Looking professional, doing my best, at least.

Yeah, I dig it, man. All right. Last thing I always ask. To do is to ask our audience for a little five star iTunes review. So if you wouldn’t mind giving them a little ask right now on the air, I’d appreciate

David Ly Khim: that. Yeah, of course. I mean, to everyone listening clearly, you know, Joe is super intelligent, has a great business running really focused on educating the community and.

Just a great person to have a conversation with. I would love it. If you could give Joe a five star review on this podcast and I’m super honored to be welcome on his podcast and looking forward to speaking to

Joe Howard: you again, ah, you you’re, you’re making me blush, man. I appreciate. Yeah. People want to leave a review, make sure you leave David’s name in the comments.

Say something you liked about this episode. We’ll shoot him the comment and be like, oh David, check this out. Someone left us a nice little review with your name on it. If people go to WP, mrr.com forward slash iTunes, we’d put a little redirect in there for people. So it’ll take them right to the iTunes.

If people want to do that. If any listeners have questions, feel free to email us@yoatwpmrr.com. I man, that inbox personally. So I will get back to you with any questions, but if you have any questions you want us to answer on the show, we’re always looking for, uh, for new topics and we’d love to get some audience engagement as well.

Uh, and just answer some of those questions directly. If you are a new listener, come on in and binge some episodes. You already been Joel. Crazy shows online, spend hours a day, watching TV. Why don’t you binge something that’s going to help your business move forward. You don’t have to go back unless they listen to every episode, but go back through, pick a few that are going to be applicable to you right now.

Like I was talking about before, maybe not every episode is something you’re, you’re going to, it’s going to add value to you right now, but I’m sure there are a few in there. So go back and check those out. WP mrr.com/podcast WP. Dot com that’s WordPress, monthly recurring revenue. We just shortened that to WP mrr.com.

If you’re a WordPress agency or freelancer, feel free to check out our video course on there. Uh, WP buffs is the company I started and we do 24 7 website support. We pretty much open source that business and put it in. Uh, video of course, so that people can add a recurring revenue to their business models by just kind of selling some care plans.

So make sure you take advantage of that 30% off discount that is currently on the site. Cool man. Wrapped it up. Uh, we will hear, we will hear, you will hear from us again next Tuesday, David. Thanks again for coming on. It’s been real.


David Ly Khim: right. Thanks Joe. Talk to you soon.


E170 – Launching the Fastest Plugin by a New Company to Hit $100,000+ ARR (Vito Peleg, Atarim)

In today’s episode, we get to listen again to Joe and Vito Peleg’s conversation. They talk about managing websites through care plans, business scaling largely based on customer feedback, future plans and products in development, and Vito’s journey in the WordPress space.

Vito Peleg is the Founder and CEO of Atarim, the first and only client-facing web agency management platform designed to speed up your work, client collaboration and team management. The team tackles the 84% of the project delivery time that is not the actual build of the website.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:47 Welcome to the pod, Vito!
  • 05:26 From being a musician to a founder
  • 08:33 Emails open great opportunities to gather content
  • 13:05 Scaling a business should be based on the client’s point of view
  • 20:31 The plugin will stay on premium
  • 23:21 Features are based mainly on user feedback
  • 31:12 As an agency, you create products every day
  • 32:47 Future plans and products
  • 38:30 The team behind the company
  • 42:35 Find Vito online!

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: Yo, uh, good people. Welcome back to the WP MRR WordPress podcast. I’m Joe and I’m Rick and you’re listening to the WordPress business podcast. We have Rick from one of my favorite shows, actually a brick and mortar. He thinks we’ve got the podcast.

Vito Peleg: Amazing. Amazing. It’s great to be Joe.

Joe Howard: Yeah, man. For real, I love that you picked Rick as your favorite character.

I’ve not had someone pick from the brick and mortar university, I guess you’re a big fan of the show.

Vito Peleg: Oh, for sure. Okay. Well, first of all, I love animations, but I think that just like Rick and Morty as taking it like to the intellectual kind of. At Rome while being completely stupid, which is even better,

Joe Howard: you know?

Yeah. Yeah, totally. I always liked adult swim sort of shows and kind of shows in that genre, but I thought Rick and Morty was the first one that like nailed exactly what this kind of animation was supposed to be. Fantastic show. Yeah. Well, beloved dub dub for sure. Cool. So we’ve got Rick from Rick and Morty on the pod, uh, this week also known as a veto pen leg.

Uh, and I’m saying your last name, right? I get that. That’s perfect. All right. Cool, man. Yeah. Thanks for hopping on. .

Vito Peleg: So, well, I’ve, I’ve been working with WP buffs for a while now, actually. So, uh, mostly as an, within my agency, um, whenever we add clients that we didn’t really want.

Get on our care plans, we send them over to you guys. So that’s, that’s been the process, but now that we’re scaling down the agency, we’re transforming more and more of our clients over to. Yeah.

Joe Howard: Very nice. Appreciate the shout out. We’re always happy to work with people in the care plan area. Yeah. Cool. I know a little bit about you.

Why don’t you tell people a little bit more about the stuff you’re doing in WordPress, uh, now, currently, and also like where, where in the world you’re coming from?

Vito Peleg: Right. So, well, I live in London, but originally I’m from Tel Aviv, eh, from Israel. And, um, I actually, I basically got here by, um, signing up with a band that I had at the time.

And then we got signed with a record label here in the UK, which allowed us all to move on to here. And interestingly enough, that’s where my WordPress story also started because as we were touring and we’re building like our profile as a rock band around the world, and we were literally. From the back of a fan.

And it seems from the outside, it seems like we’re pretty successful playing, you know, in front of thousands of people and, uh, and releasing two albums worldwide. Uh, but in reality, we all dead broke. So, uh, so I started building. From the back of the van as a means to kind of generate some extra income for myself.

And when the band finally broke up, uh, basically when we turned 30 and, uh, and it wasn’t cool anymore. And that’s when, uh, I said, all right, let’s see how far I can get this thing. And I started doing the transition from a freelancer to an agency, eh, within the first year we got to six figures here in London.

And by year three we had a team of 12 guys. While managing multiple clients at the same time and scaling up an agency, uh, it, uh, it became very evident that, uh, managing customers is the biggest pain that, well, this one that we had,

Joe Howard: so I know the pay and all too well. Right?

Vito Peleg: Yeah. So we kind of, within our care, as we tried to figure out what can we do to make it a little easier for us?

And you created this really cool tool. Eh, that ended up being WP feedback, which is a communication tool for WordPress professionals. And now this is my sole focus, um, where, uh, we have hundreds and hundreds of freelancers and agencies that are already using the plugin to actually transform the way they communicate with their clients.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Very cool. Uh, I have to ask them, what was the name of your band? Right. So

Vito Peleg: it was the chase, the ACE

Joe Howard: chase. You

Vito Peleg: can find it on YouTube and on Spotify and stuff.

Joe Howard: Cool. We may sneak in a little link to a video in the show notes here, just to, just to point people in that direction. Cool, man. Yeah, the, uh, okay.

So coming from Israel, living in London, there’s a lot of, uh, a lot of talented entrepreneurs or startups coming out of, out of Israel. I think, especially out of Tel Aviv. I think the Televiv kind of. Texting and starting to grow up. I think ways is based in, I know they’re based in Israel. I think they’re based in Tel Aviv,

Vito Peleg: uh, weeks, uh, within our ecosystem as well.

You have WinCo and elemental from there and a WPML toolset, a free meal, a lot of stuff in the WordPress space.

Joe Howard: Yeah. That’s actually like a, that seems like an unusually high concentration that you can’t really ignore as a random, random sampling across the maps. Like something’s going on. And with the Israeli, is that a, they’re doing something right in this startup and WordPress scene.

Cool, man. It’s I don’t hear often the, uh, background of coming from playing in the band. Uh, there are a few people in the space. Maybe I’ve heard that I’ve done music before, but like I came from a teacher. Background. So I was a high school math teacher for a few years before doing WordPress stuff. I know Sam Smith, who’s a freelancer in the WordPress space.

He’s been on the podcast before he was a firefighter before, uh, I haven’t had a musician before, so you’re my first, my first rock star. So I’m glad that he did go on.

Vito Peleg: I don’t know if it’s, because I’m kind of drawing this to myself, being , I met a bunch of people that this was their exact journey, you know, from the BeaverBuilder guys that they, uh, you know, Justin started as a band.

It started in the band and, uh, uh, to freelancer, to an agency, to a product and Andrew for market marketplace was also a musician before we started doing like these kind of stuff. So, uh, and also mark from ward. Uh, was a musician before he, uh, he did this kind of thing. So, um, to me, to me, it seems like this is a really great, uh, uh, progression, you know, because being in a band, you basically, you need to manage a bunch of people, eh, with zero vis zero funding and, you know, zero.

And get everything going and you didn’t, you need to do everything yourself, at least at the, at the early stages. So you learn how to launch products, which is basically launching an album or launching a tour. Um, you, you gotta do your own stuff. So that’s how I started building websites. Started doing graphic designs.

You do your own t-shirts you do your own everything, right? So, uh, it was a great, great school, uh, for, uh, for building a business after.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I actually see a totally how a lot of those skillsets can come in. You know, building a business is not too different than building a band and, you know, trying to do your own marketing and sales, you know, a lot of the stuff is it just, it’s just kind of in a different space, but a lot of those are very transferable skills, you know?

So. I dig it. Cool, man. I remember when we, uh, when we met at WordCamp Europe this year, uh, you were handing out some of your pamphlets from a WP feedback, uh, and it was, uh, the ultimate WordPress survey for 2019. How does. Uh, WP business compare. It was a sampling of a ton of WordPress businesses. I actually have that right here in front of me.

So people listening, I have the actual pamphlet here. He gave me in Berlin and I remember reading through it and I was like, wow, there’s some really interesting stuff here. I wanted to touch on the care plan benchmarks, which is here on the fifth page, which is really interesting. It’s how many WordPress websites do you or your team manage?

And. It looks like the majority of people are in the, uh, kind of zero to 50 mark up to 10 is just over 150 11 through 50 is kind of between 202 50 looks like it’s about 2 25 or two 30 there, but there are only a few people. It looks like 40 people here from survey results, 40 each year, less than 1%, less than 10% managing a hundred plus sites, which to me was very.

Interesting. It’s much lower than I thought it would be with so many websites out there. There must be so many people out there who need this ongoing support that, you know, have trouble with the open source Snus of WordPress. That can be a little messy. Sometimes it was surprising to me that so few people were managing a hundred plus sites because to me it seems like they haven’t yet reached the scale.

You know, maybe a lot of people are at. Zero to 50, very few companies have moved really to push this as a kind of a primary driver of their business. Maybe it’s like a piece of the business. It sounds like for a lot of people, but not a primary piece. I don’t know what you thought about that. Or when you got this feedback results, what you thought when you were reading that.

Vito Peleg: So, first of all, we did this, uh, it was mostly. During this entire survey was a way for me to do like a bit of market research before a full launching WP feedback. And the idea was to just figure out if the problems that I’m cause that I have within my business, uh, are shared within the community or it’s.

Within my head, you know, eh, and, uh, so I asked the same, the same questions that I had and when I, when we actually analyze the results, first of all, uh, luckily, or maybe unfortunately the, this problem is real and, uh, it’s a huge, huge problem in the, in the community. And these numbers actually illustrate that.

To me. When I, when I was looking at how many WordPress websites do you, uh, do you or your team manage on an ongoing basis? The care plan, question, um, understanding that people stop at 50, it really illustrates the fact that they, uh, that are, they are struggling to break. Glass ceiling that a lot of us are experiencing, uh, within the agency model or, or when managing multiple clients, things become hectic, you know, and it’s hard to create the, the proper systems in place and to have, uh, the workflows that can, uh, that allow each one of these customers to feel like they’re the only one, if you will.

And, uh, and I think that this is what kind of stops people from, from doing it. And you would see the same numbers as we’re looking at. You know, how many websites have you built in the last three months? So the majority I’ll just at the few, um, while only a few people managed to kind of like crack the 11 plus and, you know, 11 plus doesn’t seem like a lot of websites to build in three more.

You know, if you’re a huge agency, but even that you can see that there’s only like about 10% that, uh, reached that. So 90% of building, less than 10 websites in three months. Um, so yeah, so the, these numbers were really interesting, but if you want to, if we’re already talking about this one, something that kind of drew my attention more than anything is, uh, the, the.

Eh, the next point, how you do you provide support and how do you communicate with your customers to get them to gather content and approve the designs? And the huge, huge majority is on emails. And I think that this is where the problem lies, you know, because. I think that you would agree with Joe wouldn’t when you’re managing your customers.

And that wouldn’t be buffs. I imagine, I don’t know how many, how many websites you guys are managing, but I imagine that you’re a, well, in the 100 plus say kind of a bracket, right? So imagine you’re doing this just with email. No, no way it would work. You know, you just get lost on. So, so I think that this is where the problem lies.

If people move away from thinking about this, like, eh, I’m going to communicate with customers just by email and try to find better ways of doing it. This will allow them to manage more clients without getting.

Joe Howard: Yeah, this, uh, this part was really interesting to me. I mean, it’s, it’s not just the majority, it’s like an insane majority are just collecting content from clients via email, as you scale, this becomes super difficult to maintain.

And I think this is, this is something that honestly, like we’ve, we’ve struggled with because we do a lot of our support via email. Uh, and no one’s sending us. We don’t really do. Big projects for people like we’re not doing a lot of custom dev. Most of our stuff through the care plans is kind of ongoing support and small edits and things like that.

But even then just to do everything via email is still a beast. Uh, and we’re, we’re kind of, in-between like email and. I guess what this like SAS solutions would be. Cause we have a dashboard now where, where all our clients can log in and manage all their tickets. We have inboxes for all our white label partners, so they can see all the tickets sent in by all their customers.

And that’s something we’ve actually just recently launched. So we’re definitely far from perfect in this area as well. But. I understand that what works for you right now will not most likely not work for you. Once you hit three times where you are right now, five times where you are right now, everything in the business changes.

And this is something that people can trust me on that. And I’m sure you would say the same thing as your business grows and as it evolves, that’s just what it’s doing. It’s growing and evolving and. With evolution comes change. The business is going to look very different right now than it will in a year or two years, or at a certain, you know, multiply two times, three times.

So starting to plan for how that looks in the future is really difficult. And from this data here, it seems like that is where people are getting stuck. It’s interesting to see that so many people are doing information gathering via email, and so many people are still. T zero to 50 sites and only 10% of people have built 11 plus sites.

Uh, to me, this suggests that there’s, um, that there’s like a higher level of technology needed to help with the systems and processes in order to hit a point where you can even like achieve scale. I don’t know. What do you think that.

Vito Peleg: I totally agree. But, uh, I would like to, to kind of elaborate on this point because, um, a lot of us think that technology is going to be, is going to save us, right?

Because we’re tech, we’re techies, you know, we’re all like a very technical people. And we look at technology as a way to solve our problems, or as a way to kind of systemize our processes in a way. And to some degree, that’s the right way to look at this, but. Um, most of us forget that the customer has a completely different reality two hours.

And, uh, and you know, when you’re, when it’s St Joe that now you have like a client dashboard that they can log in and see all of their tickets. And so on. We’ve tried to do that as well, you know, through the support desk. The you, every customer that sends a message to a support desk essentially gets a centralized area for them to manage their tickets, uh, straight out of the gate or for, or for almost any support desk that is out there.

Uh, but if you really look into how many people log into them, you will see that there are just like one or two very, very few people that are. Actually utilizing this dashboard and that emphasize this point that we need to look at the processes that we’re building, not only from our point of view, as the technical people and as the people that need to manage other organizations at scale.

Uh, but from the, from the, you know, from the dog Walker, from the florist point of view, from the guy that is running a bar, running a restaurant, you know, they’re working from their phone, they have. Talking to people, even though we’re, you know, most of our days is looking at a screen. A lot of our clients don’t have that same reality of that same experience.

I would even like, I even like to say that, you know, when we look at a website, we see the code, we see layouts, we see color schemes, you know, we see the matrix, right. But when the client looks at the website, they see. Uh, screen, they just see a box, you know, in front of them and expecting them to be at the level that we are and logging into all of these different places and, and, uh, uh, manage all of these different stuff.

Usually that’s where things break down, at least from my experience and this. Totally kind of, uh, confirmed that, that when people tried to use SAS and, and, uh, SAS solutions to manage them, multiple clients, the person that resisted was not the developer, but the client itself, uh, which then resolved. To what makes sense for them, which is sending emails or even, you know, picking up the phone or sending a WhatsApp messages, which is my

Joe Howard: nightmare.

Yeah. 3:00 AM WhatsApp message. Hey, my website is showing a deer database, MySQL misconnection. Eric, can you please fix it? Not ideal. Um, yeah, I think, oh yeah, man, I think you kind of nailed that the. Having trying to, uh, you know, trying to push our technology forward has become more difficult, especially as the team has grown.

And now that we’re managing more websites, it’s like every, every change we make to our systems before, like, let’s talk about before, when we were a small agency, it’s like, you know, a support company and we had, you know, two or three people, like we can make changes. And then tomorrow everything is different.

You know, we have 10 clients, whatever. Yeah. Easy. Yeah. Now we’re managing hundreds of sites. Every change that we make, even small changes have to really be run through every piece of the business. How does it work with our operations? We do white label as well. So how does it work with our direct customers?

Has it worked with white label customers? Doesn’t it to work differently? How do we tell all of our. Current customers that were doing this and that they have access to this now for making a change or they get something new. And then how do we tell all the new customers coming in? Okay. We have to implement an onboarding.

Okay. Now we have to, like, this is part of the sales process. So we have to make sure our sales team knows about all this. Oh. And then marketing. So we have to change these blog posts and then. Marketing email sequence. We have to make sure we include it there. So there’s a, it’s just so many moving pieces now that it becomes difficult to make these changes.

It’s no longer easy, but the white label piece sounds because we do white label support. This actually sounds like an interesting solution potentially for us, because we actually love dealing with white label partners who are agencies and freelancers. The most important piece, there is a communication, they speak our language.

So we’re talking with these freelancers and agencies, like they understand WordPress. And so the technology leap is not big for them. For some of our direct customers. I could definitely see them like being like, I’m not using this. Like what, what, like, no, I just, I emailed you the thing here’s no screenshots just here’s the problem.

What is it? Yeah, one liner. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Just in the subject line we actually had it. Wasn’t just what I was. That was crazy. But this seems like a great, what could be a potentially good solution for us. I speak to a lot of people who are in the WordPress space every day. So I did get

Vito Peleg: awesome. So, uh, yeah, I, I can, I can definitely see that, that as you scale and as you, and that’s kind of the, the, let’s say the disease of being of the corporate world, uh, when you become big.

You got to move slow, you know, so like giants move slow and, and, and, and that’s the a on one hand, that’s where, you know, that’s where a lot of us want to get to, but then once you become that giant, and then you’re not as agile as you were before, any change to the business and any evolution that needs to happen.

Uh, and as you said, evolution needs to happen. It’s not a matter of. Of a, a of decision it’s a matter of need, you know? So, um, so when you get to that point that it becomes a huge hassle. Yeah. Making sure that everything works together within the different departments. I couldn’t agree more. Yeah.

Joe Howard: I love that.

You said that it’s actually funny. The timing of that. I just, this morning I was talking, we were doing our sales meeting and I was telling my team the reason I, one of the reasons I pushed. It’s hard to continually improve is because that’s all there is. If you’re not moving forward, other people are catching up with you.

Other people are overtaking you. You’re not keeping the position or improving it. And so it’s why I never liked it. I tried to never put us in an uncomfortable position. I’d always like us to be comfortable. And sometimes that requires. When it feels like, oh, we finally just got comfortable. Like, why are you still like working so hard?

It’s like, this is the game. Like, this is how it works or it’s not going to work for,

Vito Peleg: I like to say that, uh, you know, comfort is the enemy of growth. So when, when you, when you all comfortable, it means that you’re stuck. But if you’re always pushing your comfort zone and trying to do more than what you can, uh, that’s when, uh, the biggest growth happened.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Uh, yeah, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m on WP feedback.co right now. So people are interested in like seeing what this is all about. WP feedback.co is where you should go. Uh, if you put.com, you may not go there. so it seems like. Right now and correct me if I’m wrong. Is there a, uh, free plugin that people can go and grab and test and play around with?

And then there may be a premium version as well? Or is it, how does that work

Vito Peleg: premium? We started with a 3d model and we’re going to stay like this for, for a long time from now. The idea is basically because. I have a huge vision for this and having like a free plugin from day one creates more of a hassle than a than benefit.

But more than that, the plugin is just way too valuable to be free. Uh, we are seeing within our users, we’re saving three hours per week per team member. So in a company like mine, It’s not only allowed me to save a few minutes here or there, it allowed me to reduce employees, you know, like literally remove payrolls from the, from the monthly kind of a cost more than that.

In terms of completing projects, we’re seeing an average of reducing two weeks per project from the completion time, just by giving the customer basically a way that to interact with that. In a way that makes sense for them. Uh, but, but also gives us all of the information that we need without bothering them.

So we’re basically killing off all of the back and forth that usually happens within client, between clients. So for example, Joe, you must know that pretty much 30% of your emails is a question going back to the client, asking which browser are you on? Which screen are you on? You know, these. Random goal, where, where is the problem?

You know, that’s the, that’s the thing. If, if, uh, and this happened a lot within my support team, if you don’t feel comfortable asking this question, then the support guy goes into the website and spends half an hour, 40 minutes trying to figure out what the hell the client is talking about, you know, and all of this adds up really, really fast when you’re managing multiple clients.

So we just completely canceled. It just doesn’t happen anymore.

Joe Howard: I love your description of the, the, the plugin itself, because it’s very clear to me that you’ve taken the time to get feedback and talk to people and do the research like via WP feedback to know exactly what people’s issues are, because you’re pretty much saying, like, you’re almost taking the words out of my mouth.

I mean, most of our, most of the emails we send or clarify certain things, and it becomes this game of trying to, we want to try and minimize the amount of email we’re sending. Um, not just because we don’t want to send email to customers, but because we want to be as efficient as possible. Uh, and so sending an email back to the client, they send something back three hours later that increases our resolution time by three hours.

And it doesn’t really help anybody. The client gets a slower resolution. We have to spend more time. Everybody loses in that situation. So we’re always looking for ways to like, how do we, what are the big wins we can do to increase efficiency? And this seems like a tool that could help us to, to cut out if you’re, you know, if you use that 30% as an example, cut out, you know, 25 or 30% and be a lot more.

Vito Peleg: Yeah, for sure. And the reason why, why I kind of, so it’s true that I did the research for this and, you know, especially being WP feedback that it’s like, it’s in, it’s in the name. So it’d be kind of weird for me to not listen or, or, or do that kind of like the work that involves around that. So I did do that and this is what the survey was about initially, uh, with 600 WordPress professionals, just figuring out how they do it so that we can.

Before we even created the product. And, but even now, as we’re, as we were out on the market and within our Facebook group, and, you know, we have a public roadmap and 90% of all of the new features that we’re creating are literally based on user requests. So they tell us what, what they want and. I like to say that I love the product, but I’m not in love with it so people can tell me what they need.

And if it makes sense to more than a few people, then it’s going to happen and it’s going to happen fast. But even more than that, like the coolest thing. And I, and you said that before Joe working with other people, like you, you know, working with, uh, the white label, uh, customers. I am the customer for this plugin, you know, like I had these problems myself for a couple of years before, and I tried everything, nothing worked, you know?

So that’s why we just ended up doing something on our own.

Joe Howard: Yeah, for sure. I love that expression. I love, I love the plugin, but I’m not in love with it. Everyone’s business. I mentioned it before, but everyone’s business is going to look way different in two, three years than it does today. So it’s important to love what you do and to love your product.

Most important thing is to love providing as much value as to people as possible. And as you continue to do that, your, your product is going to continue to change. But the constant hopefully improvement is that it should always be improving in the area of adding more value to people. So as long as you can do that, you can stay in.

You can, you can continue to love it. Being too connected to exactly what it is today.

Vito Peleg: I agree. And I think that it’s important to have, like, it is about it to have like a north star, you know, something that just frames the entire thing in one sentence or something that you can look forward to. And then, um, and then consider every request or wherever we kind of like, eh, a pivotal kind of moment.

Uh, around that north star and for philosophy, the mission is to become the way WordPress professionals talk to clients. So it’s a pretty broad statement and that’s on purpose because there’s, we want to consider every part of that journey. Every. Can we have this, uh, a relationship that, that us freelancers and agencies have with their customers.

So that’s why, you know, we started with the front end aspect of clicking anything and you get that feedback. But then we went down to the backend and did that over there, which is the first time that anyone managed to do this, uh, in the backend to educate clients on how the WordPress dashboard works and all of these kinds of stuff.

But then it’s going to continue with the cloud platform that we’re going to launch in the upcoming. And where you can manage all of the website from one place. So everything is being fed into one centralized hub and, uh, and even, you know, within our agency, um, we did like, uh, the first pilot of building a website was to create the site map.

So the architecture of the website, so that we can agree that these are going to be the pages. These are the custom post types that we’re creating and so on. So, so again, this is a feature that we’re working on as part of. Taking care of, of our north style becoming the way we’re professionals, Dr. Client.

My goal is that you never have the old phone ring, you know, and you never get an email directly from a customer. It will always be through us.

Joe Howard: Yeah, love that. So that’s the thing that first drew me to be like, wow, this thing’s really cool. It was the, a on page being able to click a certain thing and send feedback directly to.

Um, so we use this tool called Hotjar, which you may have heard that before we use it on WP mrr.com actually. So people can click and give feedback and it sends us an email saying, are they happy with this certain visual thing or not? Uh, but that’s only for us, like you add a site to Hotjar and it’s like for marketing purposes to like, get a little feedback.

This is. For, you know, agencies and freelancers to use across different clients sites. Uh, and I’m just looking at the screenshot here on the homepage. It’s, you know, that gives you the, uh, resolution of the screen, the Brentwood browser it’s on, uh, you know, IP address stuff. You know, if your what’s the priority of the ticket, is this a high priority thing, low, medium critical.

And then it also has like a status as well. So you can have it be in progress, pending review, complete, which I think is a really cool way to get feedback from people in like, uh, I’m on my website now. Well, the old way, doing things like I like open an email and like, you know, sending a thing and then do all that.

But here it’s just like, I’m on it. I click this thing, I clicked three buttons and then it’s sent, uh, which is better for the customer and better for us because we have all the details we need to not have to spend hours troubleshooting, trying to figure out was this on opera or is this on I E like, no, it gives us all that information immediately.

So both sides went through.

Vito Peleg: Yeah. And we had this kind of experience with, uh, so we had this one of the biggest triggers for, for me saying, like, screw this, we got to build this thing, you know, because it was running in my mind for a little while. Eh, it just made sense because the best, the best way to communicate with clients as I kind of experienced it is to actually have the client standing next to you and pointing at the screen and telling you.

No, this needs to be there. We need to change this in this area. I need this text to be changed to that, you know, literally with his finger on the screen. But then what usually happens is that when they’re standing next to you very fast, their hand lands on your hand and they’re start to move the mouse, you know, and they’re breathing down your neck and, uh, you know, creativity is at its core.

You know, so it is effective in terms of getting feedback, but it’s really annoying for everyone, for, for the developers and the designers to have the client just sitting here wasting time. So we tried to get the best of both worlds by having that, that experience of, I just going to click anything and give that feedback.

But even more than that, you know, like, We need it. We need clarity when we’re, when we’re solving a problem. You know, so for example, we got it started saying that was the first, that was one of the things that triggered this. We had a website, a WooCommerce website with about 5,000 products on it. Right.

And then the client sent a one line of message. He’s in his own shop. You know, we as like a physical shop as well, and some customer came to him and said, I want it to all do this product, but I couldn’t find an add to cart button. Who got that message. I got that message straight away. The add to cart button is not there to fix it.

You go to the website, you look at it and you obviously see that the add to cart button is there on every product that we looked at. So you go back to the client that you, you did a screenshot, then you tell them, but we see that it’s here. So can you explain which page you’re talking about? What exactly are you seeing?

You know, Anyway an hour and a half later, we figured that it was just a one product that ran out of stock. And the theme just removed the add to cart button automatically, you know? So no one would have realized that unless we’ve done this one and a half hours of going through hundreds of products to figure out.

What, what the hell they’re talking about on there. So that that’s kind of the, as opposed. And like you said, in terms of the process, as opposed to just getting that email, you click that button, it takes you to that exact page scores down to where the problem is pops that open that message. And there it is, you can see.

Everything. So just that kind of example is like, alright, we gotta do this thing. Go for

Joe Howard: it. Cool, man. Yeah. The saving time is a business owner, his best friend. So if you can save time and save money for people, uh, you’ll probably be able to sell a product or service. Yeah. I mean, I’m on the website right now.

It’s a pretty dope looking website is, uh, I wanted to ask if, uh, is this your first. Product in the WordPress space you’ve created or have you done other plugins and stuff before? Right.

Vito Peleg: So as an agency, you create products every day. You know, that’s how I like to look at this. And, and, uh, and I tried to learn from the 200 plus websites that we’ve built over the years.

And look at them as each one of them is a product that we launched to the world. Even though they’re not really ours, we created them and we put them out there and in a lot of cases, we also have to market them. So that really helped us in, uh, in, uh, creating the approach for this one, because we saw what worked, what didn’t work for a lot.

A lot of our clients, uh, we saw. Often they fail. And, uh, we made sure that we’re not going to do these mistakes with ours in terms of actual plugin. We did a few of them, but again, it was just as a commissioned project. You know, it was like a integration for something with WooCommerce or with gravity forms, all of these kinds of stuff.

Uh, but, but this is the first time that we created a. A software that we’re taking them to the market on our own. And this is an idea that we came up with and we kind of got to fruition. Yeah.

Joe Howard: Cool man.

Vito Peleg: Oh, it’s kind of a cool thing that, eh, we are the first blogging in the history of WordPress by a new company to reach six figures on.

The month as well. So that was a huge, a kind of a, even a shock for me, uh, cause we weren’t expecting that to happen so quickly. Uh, but also it proved to me that this problem is real, you know, when people actually need this distinct.

Joe Howard: For sure. I’m, uh, I’m interested to know kind of what some of the next steps for WP feedback.

I don’t know if you have a roadmap or if that’s like a public thing or just internal, but is there anything kind of public out there that you have kind of in store in terms of like, what’s next in terms of. Feature releases are just kind of what the next evolution of the product looks like. Yes.

Vito Peleg: So first of all, we’re releasing updates every single week.

So that’s part of our rapid iteration process. And again, with feedback being at the top of our kind of a game. And we listened to people. Every bug fix that comes over our comes our way within a week. It’s going to be part of the plugin. So we’re iterating on a really, really rapid pace compared to any other plugin that I’ve seen after 12 years in WordPress.

And that has been the case since they won every single week, we’re doing new features and new, uh, bug fixes. There is a public roadmap, uh, which is you can even see that on WP feedback.com for slash. Uh, this is going to take, you took like a Trello board where you can see what’s going on there. This is where people actually upvote a certain tasks, or they can add their own things themselves, uh, to tell us what they need in order for us to build that in terms of the, so these are things that are happening every day.

And, uh, you know, I don’t know when this podcast is going to be out, but, uh, whatever I’m going to say, that’s going to be launched next week. Loudly it’s been launched a while ago by this time. So, uh, so I’m not going to talk to him about the small bits and pieces that happen every week. But the big steps is first of all, our cloud app, which is meant to be launched in three months from today, you know, from where we were recording this, uh, this podcast, which is going to be a centralized hub for all of the websites.

So as soon as you install the plugin on a website, Boom. It already appears within your dashboard and you can have all of these conversations in one place, manage your own team within it. And that’s going to take us into the Rome of competing with a support desk and project management system. So there’s going to be like a Kanban view of all your tasks, you know?

We are using teamwork. So every time there is a new task that comes in, even with WP feedback, it shoots it automatically through Zapier, into teamwork. And it’s just listed in there, but there’s still no like a two way communication between the two applications, because you know which one is different.

And also, you know, you have your teamwork and then you have that for the project and then you have something else for support. And I don’t like that concept of having fragmented process. And fragmented kind of communications basically. So I think that there is a need for one place to manage everything in one go.

And, you know, within that dashboard, you’re going to have the project management style kind of Trello board or Kanban kind of view, as well as a view that looks pretty much like a support desk and where you can manage tickets on the go. And, but also the. Uh, visual like drag and drop canvas of creating site maps that you can share with customers.

You can discuss them even before we start the project. And the cool thing that I like to think about that is because we’re integrated into the database, using the plugin. We have freedom to do all kinds of incredible things, eh, within the WordPress project. So for example, that sitemap imagined that you drag around.

Put the pages, eh, you put the pages and you put the posts that you want to, to show that you want to have just on a, on a clear canvas, like you’re mapping like a funnel, for example, that you click one button on all of these pages and posts were created. Boom, it’s already in there with the hierarchy, with the categories, everything in one place already generated right into the client’s website.

So even that is saving you the need of clicking that copy on. But with pages every time, the next step with, for that will be to incorporate all kinds of, uh, uh, allowing you to, to incorporate like, uh, templates that you have. So if you already know which page you’re going to create, why would you need to import the template onto there and so on?

You know, so again, we’re looking at. Broad mission the way we’re principals talk to clients. And this is, uh, this is our mission and this is what’s going to happen in the next couple of years. And, and Joe, I think that you’ve been, you’ve been in the ecosystem for a long time, long enough to see the world before page builders.

Right. And, you know, before we had the ACF or before we add tool set and all of these kinds of tools, It just, it seems logical. It doesn’t seem logical right now to go and build a page from scratch and HTML and CSS because you have these tools. So that’s, that’s kind of my vision because I’ve seen this evolution in the ecosystem.

I believe that in. This is just how it’s going to be. You know, it’s not going to be a different way. It’ll seem stupid to talk by email.

Joe Howard: Yeah, I totally hear that. I have this concept of, there are all these hosting companies doing fully managed WordPress hosting, but to me, the next evolution of that is just fully managed WordPress.

And I think, honestly, it incorporates things like your tool as well to help people achieve that goal fully managed WordPress hosting. Isn’t I think a step in the right direction. What’s the next step of that? Well, it’s just like, people don’t want to go somewhere for hosting and then like get website edits and have, you know, a team do this.

And that, that should all kind of be bundled into one. Uh, so, um, I’m with you in terms of like, thinking about what the next steps are and feeling like what we’re doing today, which I feel it’s always the case in five years, you always think five years, like what were we doing five years ago? But yeah, this will be a big jump.

I think so. Cool, man. Uh, I guess last question as we kind of wrap this up the team around WPP. Is this still the same team you have? The agency is a different team. Is it really just, you, do you have kind of a team or a small team kind of helping with the marketing and sales and then another kind of more product and technical team?

Like what is the, what are those building blocks look like in terms of building that business?

Vito Peleg: So, um, I took the entire, like the entire team that we had with the agency has now pivoted to working on this. So we still have our care plan clients. We’re not doing any new projects. We still have a. Eh, a little more than 30 customers on care plans, the ones that we didn’t pass on to you guys.

Yeah. And so, uh, so cause that’s just running, you know, so there’s the w it didn’t make much sense to just, uh, drop this straight away. Also. We’re pretty young, you know, it’s just been literally two months since we launched this product. So, uh, so there’s still time to kind of get to the point where we’re just doing this.

And I did change the team a little bit, so I didn’t need so many designers as I did before, because. We’re not, we’re not building sites and we’re not designing on an ongoing basis. So instead of that, so I scaled down the design team and I brought in a few more people who are on the development side so that we can accelerate this thing and provide support.

Support is really, really important for us to maintain a higher really high level. And again, I think that after managing customers through care plan, Um, if you get that experience of, you know yeah. After, after talking to a guy that that has no idea about what a website is, uh, helping workers professionals is a walk in the park.

Right. So, so that’s kind of a, that’s kind of. Both and how it’s structured in terms of marketing. I kind of like to do most of it, myself at Jerome is by my side is like my right hand guy here. And he’s doing a lot of the stuff with me to make sure that this is happening properly or executed properly. Uh, but what I really like is that now instead of fragmenting my focus around multiple clients and multiple kind of, uh, uh, projects, now I have the opportunity to just do something.

Do one thing. Right. You know, so, uh, you know, I’m going for it. You know, I, I like, I enjoy the process of marketing this to our community. I enjoy the fact that I am the target audience, so I don’t need to kind of figure it out so much, you know, just think of what makes sense to me and what I want or what would work properly for my team as well as myself and just.

That way, you know, what I feel is a little too spammy, if you will. And you know, doing that survey is a good example. We saw at word camp, a lot of people are just going around, handing out flyers, you know, but I wanted to provide value because I don’t, I don’t know. You know, just have a lack of, I’m not going to say the names, but I gathered a few flyers from other companies just to see what not to do.

Yeah. And so, uh, so I, I wanted to just make sure that whatever we’re doing, we’re just doing this with the community in heart and, uh, and yeah, as much valuable.

Joe Howard: Yeah, very cool, man. I think to, to wrap it up, I think a good example of, you know, going to a word camp and instead of trying to necessarily, you know, sell, sell, sell, and be a little bit spammy, you go and try to provide as much value as possible and hand out these, you know, really awesome, uh, hand printed flyers of this big survey that you did, you know, you come and find you, we run into each other, you know, I’ve had a couple drinks at the bar and I see this thing.

I’m like, wow, this is amazing. You know, next thing you know, you’re here on the podcast. After this call, I’m actually going to connect you with our COO Nick. And I’m going to have you make sure you do a demo for him so we can see if this is something that we want to implement. So, uh, this is so, so it does work

Vito Peleg: for Samsung.

That was my age and agenda here, you know?

Joe Howard: Exactly. And there’s always a little something, you know,

Vito Peleg: so this was like a full-on podcast to demo for the, for Joe. Yeah.

Joe Howard: Cool, man. Well, I appreciate you. I appreciate you hopping on man. This has been a lot of fun. Uh, I always ask people, uh, who are guests here just to give out, uh, however people can find you online website, social media handles all that stuff.

Vito Peleg: Sure. So you can look at, just type in WP feedback dot O and that’s the main website. You can check out all of the details on there. More than that. Join our community on Facebook because that’s where the action really is. And you can see what other ones. That would be feedback community on Facebook. And if you want to reach out to me, find me on LinkedIn.

I have a huge network of WordPress professionals and I, I read all of the messages and I, uh, eh, answer to all of them, myself. So, yeah, I’m on LinkedIn. If you want to reach out.

Joe Howard: Very cool. I just joined the Facebook group. So, uh, I’m pending right now. So if you could, you know, go and give me a little, a thumbs up, please come in and enjoy myself.

Cool. Last but not least. I always ask our guests, our guests to ask our audience and people listening for a little five star iTunes review for this podcast. So if you wouldn’t mind giving them a little task, I’d appreciate it.

Vito Peleg: Uh, so w w I kind of, I lost it because I’m fooling you here.

Joe Howard: That’s the only reason to, to, to do that. So, yeah, just, if you could ask people for a little review for this show on iTunes, you can just give a last,

Vito Peleg: okay. So, uh, so this show is incredible and I’ll tell you why you need to review this, but more than that, just listen to it. Um, care plans have completely transformed my.

And the, uh, having this ongoing process within your organization is going to reduce so much stress from your day to day, knowing that there is this cushion or bread and butter at the end of every month. So whatever, whatever you guys are doing, whatever that would be Buffalo. And specifically Joe, with this podcast go and support this, give us five stars.

I’m going to do it right after this call as well, myself. And, um, and yeah, this is really commendable because I think that this is something that the community didn’t really talk about two years ago, and now it’s becoming more and more kind of apparent that, uh, eh, that MRR and, uh, and care plans in particular are the way to ease the way to go.

Um, when you want to create a sustainable business,

Joe Howard: Well nailed that one. If you’re leaving a five star iTunes review, make sure in the comments you leave Vito’s name or something about this episode, something you learn so that we can forward him a screenshot and say, oh, look at this. What is this? What a great episode we had, you can go to WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes that forwards right to the iTunes page.

Make it nice and easy for people. If you are a new listener of the. Uh, you are prep, probably binged, a bunch of shows in the past. Uh, you’ve been on Netflix. You’ve been on Hulu. Why not binge a little bit on this podcast? Uh, do some binging that’ll help your business move forward. We’ve got a bunch of old episodes you can go in and listen to.

So feel free to go and pick a few to either download on your player of choice or just on the website. WP mrr.com/podcast. Uh, give them a listen. Uh, if you have questions for the show. Uh, you can email us. We like to try and answer as many questions on the show as possible. Uh, you can shoot those to yo@wpmrr.com.

I man, that inbox personally. So, uh, you will get a reply from me. It may not be super fast, but you know, I’m on there every couple of days or so. You’ll get a reply from me eventually. Uh, WP mrr.com. We just talked to veto. Who’s done a lot of work in the care plan space. Uh, if you’re an agency or a freelancer looking to integrate care plans into your existing systems, WP MRR is a video course where we pretty much open-sourced everything we do at WP buffs.

So if you want to, uh, try and scale care plants to the next level, uh, if you want to be in this, uh, WP feedback survey next year and be one of the website. Or be one of the companies that does a hundred plus, uh, manages a hundred plus sites, uh, then the WP MRR courses for you feel free to take advantage of the current 75% off.

We’re doing there as well. Make sure you check it out. Uh, other than that, I think we are good to go. Uh, we will catch y’all again next Tuesday, Vito. Thanks again for being non-management.

Vito Peleg: My pleasure. I’m writing the review right now.

Joe Howard: He’s running a, Vito’s doing it. So I appreciate it, man. We’ll give you a shout out next episode, but thanks again for being on.


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