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In today’s episode, Joe talks to Brian Casel of ProcessKit – a process-driven project management tool for businesses, automating and streamlining recurring tasks, track progress, and scale company operations with over 1000+ tools using Zapier integration.

Brian shares his experiences as a freelancer and his early days in web designing; how ProcessKit came about, its audience target focus, the challenges of growing customer base, and winning audience through guest blog posting. 

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:38 Welcome to the pod, Brian!
  • 07:15 Starting as a web designer before doing freelancing
  • 09:21 From a front end web developer to creating ProcessKit
  • 13:02 ProcessKit was developed to address company challenges
  • 16:17 Familiarizing end-user experience to improve products
  • 17:49 How’s business been like during the pandemic?
  • 20:06 Onboarding new clients is one of the challenges
  • 22:46 Client fit target for ProcessKit
  • 25:44 Add-on services depend on the business needs
  • 28:20 SaaS products need to prioritize their Zapier integration
  • 29:37 Strategies to growing customer base
  • 34:36 The value of guest blog posting
  • 38:33 Learning marketing and growing audience traffic
  • 39:33 Find Brian online!

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Hey folks, Joe Howard here, you know what would be totally awesome if you have not done so already. Please go to WP, M R r.com forward slash iTunes. If you are on a Mac or an Apple device, that’ll take your right to our iTunes page. Give us a little review. We’d love to get some more reviews for the show.

Obviously helps us get found in the iTunes store when people search for WordPress stuff, but also gives us ideas for new episodes. If you write a comment with your review and say, Hey, I liked this episode. I’d love to hear more about this topic. We’ll do more content about it. And give us motivation to do more episodes as well.

So WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes. I would personally very much appreciate it. All right. This week on the podcast, we have Brian castle with me. I’m recording this. Intro the day after I talked to Brian. So yesterday I talked with Brian, Brian is an awesome dude. He’s done so much in the WordPress space.

And also more recently outside of it has gotten more into productized services as well as really starting to branch out into pure software. His company process kit does some really cool stuff. I’ve actually forwarded it to my team to see if we want to, uh, to think about using it. And it’s super well-designed site.

Brian is, uh, someone I followed in the productized services and startup space for a long time. Now met originally at MicroComp. It was 2000. 17 2018. I can’t remember which year, but always has something super valuable in his pocket. And without further ado, please welcome Brian castle. Enjoy today’s episode.

Brian Casel: [00:01:51] WP MRR WordPress podcast is brought to you by WP buffs. WP buffs manages WordPress websites, 24 seven and powers digital growth for agencies, freelancers and WordPress professionals. Join our white label program. And by next week you could be offering 24 seven white label website support to your clients and passively growing your monthly recurring revenue.

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

Joe Howard: [00:02:31] All right. We are live this week on the WP MRR WordPress podcast.

We’ve got. Brian castle on the pod this week. Brian, we’ve known each other for a little while, man, but I don’t know if folks in the WordPress space now we were just talking offline. You used to be super into WordPress. And you said you’ve kind of slowly moved a little bit away from it. You’ve done a ton of stuff.

You’re very, well-known kind of the productized service space and doing SAS stuff. Now I’m going to let you explain it because you can explain it better than I can, but why don’t you tell folks a little bit about some of the stuff you’re working on?

Brian Casel: [00:03:00] Yeah, Joe, thanks for having me on it’s funny. Like I’m still like very connected to the WordPress.

Community and a lot of people and I use WordPress on some of my sites, but yeah, like I used to, I used to be much more in it about five, 10 years ago than I am now. And sometimes I feel a little disconnected. Like I don’t even know. With the latest, greatest stuff. Isn’t the Gutenberg, all that, um, I’m a little bit lost, but anyway.

Yeah. So I usually like to work backwards. So today I am, uh, primarily focused on building and running SAS products. The main one is called process kit. Um, which is, you know, it’s, uh, for your processes, it’s for it’s for running repeatable tasks and projects. It’s really great for agencies and productized services.

We especially focus on client onboarding and, uh, and it’s, it can also serve as like a client portal solution for, uh, for bringing clients onboard and into a service. And then running, you know, repeatable tasks with, with your team and automating a lot of that stuff too. So that that’s been the main thing that I’ve been really focused on for the last two years, but here in 2021, I’m actually these couple of months, I’m sort of taking a slight break from working on that product.

And, um, um, I’m working on a few times, any object, other SAS ideas right now, kind of smaller SAS products, but I, you know, definitely still going to be pushing on process kit this year, building out the client portal and things like that. So, so that’s what I’ve been focusing on the last couple of years in sort of in the background is I’m still running a company called audience ops.

Which is a productized service. We, uh, we basically power the blog content for many different, uh, software companies. We actually work with quite a few WordPress plugin companies and theme companies and, and as well as the agencies. So we do content directly for, for companies. And we also. Uh, power of the content for agencies who resell, like if you’re a website agency and you’re, and you’re doing marketing services for your clients, you can outsource to us to actually write all of those articles.

That’s a big part of what we do. Um, so I’ve been running that since 2015. I’m mostly removed from the day-to-day on that business. You know, I’ve got a really great team, you know, we onboard clients really well. We run the blog content that the team mostly handles that, um, very, very little input from me.

And that’s what has kind of freed me up in the last few years to really dive into both learning, to build SAS products and actually building and running them before all that. So in 2015, I sold my previous. A bootstrapped business, which was called restaurant engine, uh, which was entirely built on WordPress.

That was sort of like a SAS slash productized service kind of thing. It was like a website builder website service. Aimed at restaurants and hotels. And, uh, and so I worked on that for about four years and learned a ton of both about WordPress, as well as bootstrapping a business and recurring revenue MRR, right.

Onward dress. And that was around 2011 into 2015. And then kind of the couple of years before that, I, I made a living as a freelance WordPress spaced, a web designer, basically. That’s like 12, 13 years in.

Joe Howard: [00:06:16] Yeah. It’s funny hearing. People’s long stories though. And coming back to, how did they start? Well, I was a freelance WordPress freelancer, and I.

I find it. It’s nice to hear for people who are freelancing now who’ve made me want to keep freelancing, but maybe they have bigger things they want to do. There’s nothing wrong with starting with freelancing. You started freelancing and there’s always other steps you can take. There’s always other journeys you can go on and yeah.

Hearing you starting as a freelancer now you’re running software products. It’s, it’s a, it’s a cool journey. Yeah,

Brian Casel: [00:06:44] totally. It’s been, it’s been really fun. I like to talk about how, you know, you look back. On some on your own journey or you, or you hear about other people, like on their, on podcasts and things.

And it seems like it’s so planned out and everything is like so organized and strategic, and it’s not that way at all in real life. I’m sure I’m not alone where it’s like every new thing that I ended up working on. It’s like, you just stumble into it. First of all, I didn’t even know what freelancing was.

I started as a web designer at an agency in New York. Like a front front end web developer. That was my first like, quote unquote real job after school. And all of a sudden, I, and I, that was like a nine to five at a desk, in an agency. I noticed that they were hiring freelancers to come in like two days a week for like an afternoon here and there.

And I was like, wait a minute. I have the same skills as those people do. Why do I have to sit here nine to five? And they get to go do other things for half their week. Um, so that’s. That like then all of a sudden it’s like, Oh, freelancing is a thing. So I explored that and then went freelance. And then I was freelance doing web design projects for clients for a while.

And then I discovered. Companies like WooThemes and studio press and press 75. They were selling WordPress themes. And I was like, huh, I know how to design WordPress themes. Why am I doing client work when I could be selling themes? You know? And that was when the, the digital product bug of kind of started.

Um, and that, that was a side hustle for a while. And that’s when I sort of. Starting to understand, like how can I actually turn my services more into a product and prototype services and all that?

Joe Howard: [00:08:24] Yeah, for sure. I’ve as someone who does, who runs a company doing client work right now. And I, I know you from your work through audience ops.

I think that’s how I first heard about you. It was productized services company. I like services a lot. I like helping clients with work, but part of the back of my brain is always like, Maybe the next step is going more into the software space or more into the product, pure product space from product I service and kind of honestly doing maybe kind of what you did.

You, you a cut your teeth in services and productized services, and then use some of those skills to move into more pure software and product, which is cool. And actually hearing that your background. I don’t know if I knew that you started off as a. Designer or like a web designers you’d call yourself or design freelancer.

I can, I can tell from your website on process kit that it’s designed very well. Um, I don’t know if that’s all you, do you put, did you put process, get together process, kit.com together all yourself? Did you have any support from like a design, another designer or like a user experience person or were you just like, boom, boom, boom.

I know how to do this.

Brian Casel: [00:09:30] Yeah. So basically all the design stuff is my work. The parts that I tend to bring in help is more like the backend development. That’s that’s my, my weak side is, is the database development and building functionality. And I, I’ve learned to build stuff using Ruby on rails and other things, and just the only in recent years, but, you know, it’s.

One of the things I sort of love about the web industry, building, building things online is like the, the overlap and the mashing of all these different skills. Right? So basically. I really started not so much actually as a designer, but just a front end web developer. It was like HTML and CSS was, was my thing.

You know, I was dealing with like  and dating myself here a little bit, but like, Making websites work in 2005 to work in like  was my job at that agency. So I would, I would take PSDs from the designers and turn them into websites and that’s that’s and I was doing that. I’m pretty big national national brand websites for this agency.

So I learned a lot about just figure out how to build websites, um, at a professional level, that was a huge, huge learning experience. And then, and then like, as a. As a way to be able to build more functional stuff without having a background as a programmer or developer WordPress was, was that path for me, like, you know, learning how WordPress works and being able to build plugins and build a built, built restaurant engine with the help of some contractors and stuff.

But like that was the first path. And then, you know, fast forward to more recent years, I would tend for awhile there. I was doing all the design and all the front end on my SAS product. But I would outsource to developers to build the SAS backend. And I, I tried that for a few years that I actually struggled with it.

I spent a lot of money and, and products didn’t really work out so well. And then in 2018, that’s when I that’s, when I sort of like stopped. And I was like, I have a lot of time on my hands because I’ve removed myself from the day-to-day on, on audience ops. Let me reinvest like this entire year of 2018.

To really learning how to, how to build my own products that I could, I could design the product. I could talk to customers and do a little bit of marketing, but instead of having to outsource it 100%, let me see if I could just learn how to build an app front to back. And I spent that year learning Ruby on rails.

Um, learn more about JavaScript and, and I, and I did it by the end of 2018. I started being actually able to build. Complete SAS apps. And then in 2019, I built the first working version of process kit, like all myself, but then I start starting to bring in more expert level backend developers, uh, to, to help me move faster on the product and, and clean up some of my really gross code back there.

Joe Howard: [00:12:29] So yeah. Was processed. It seems to me like process kit was. You are running audience ops and maybe your systems could have been a little tighter. Your onboarding could have been a little tighter processes, could have been a little tighter. And it seems like. From my point of view, that this was kind of like a scratch your own itch, sort of, we need something process kit sounds like it would be really helpful for us.

Oh, this is actually really helpful for everybody let’s package it, package it and actually create a product. We’ll call it process kit. Was it something you were actually building for yourself or did it just kind of come from the pinpoints you had and you kind of knew, I know a lot of people at this pain point, so I, um, let me build something like this.

It’s

Brian Casel: [00:13:12] definitely built around a lot of the same pain points that, that we had as, as a company with our operations. For sure. I mean, we, we were duct taping all the different tools together from Google docs, where, where SOP is lived and then, um, you know, standard operating procedures. And then. Tracking stuff in Trello and losing track of stuff.

And it doesn’t have quite the automation that we need for like, if the client is on this plan, then we want to handle things this way. Or if the client is on that plan, that we want the tasks to change dynamically, we want to dynamically. Set due dates and, and, and send off the right reminders and things like that.

Like a lot of that was still handled manually with our team and you know, it got it. And it’s sort of worked for the first few years, but as you start to scale a service business, as you definitely know, I mean, you, you need to have. Your operations are really buttoned up. If you’re going to really grow your team.

And, and there aren’t, you know, you can look at all the big project management tools out there, but the, the general problem with them is, is that if your agency or service is highly repeatable, which most of them are, if they start to grow, they become more and more standardized and repeatable. Those tools just aren’t re truly made for repeatability and running processes off running tasks, off of templates and things like that.

And so it wasn’t necessarily like we, like, we built the software. First for our own internal use and then released it publicly. It was definitely built as a public SAS product first. And I actually waited a while before I actually migrated audience ops onto it. I wanted to make sure it was ready for us to use, but yeah, now, now we run our client onboarding through it, or we even run our sales process through it and, and, and, and the delivery staff.

So, yeah. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:15:02] Cool. How do you find that using your own product for yourself helps you. To build it for other people. I asked because WP buffs supports WordPress websites that we do 24 seven website management. I use WP buffs for a few of my own sites. So I’m logging into support, uh, into my portal saying, Hey, could you help me with this?

Oh, I know who you are, but you know, the person that we make, but Hey, yeah. I’m the same

Brian Casel: [00:15:27] way with audience ops. Like they treat me as a client. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:15:31] Yeah. Cool. Um, but, um, I’d be interested to hear, because I don’t think everybody does that. And I speak, I do it very specifically because I want to. Continually understand what that support experience is like.

And just to kind of keep my finger on the pulse on stuff. Have you felt that using it yourself internally as a team has helped you find points where you’re like this piece is kind of confusing, we’ve got to adjust that or this, this piece doesn’t really make sense. You know, it has, it sort of has been pretty helpful.

I get feature

Brian Casel: [00:16:03] requests from my own team that I, that I wouldn’t have really known about. You know, it’s actually kind of helpful because. Like I get feature requests and support requests from just other customers on process kit. But you start to realize like there’s a lot of little, really tiny things that are like a little bit of friction here, or, Oh, it would just be a lot more, a lot faster, easier if I could just get, get access to this link from over here, instead of from over here, like there’s a lot of stuff like that, that like general customers won’t really send a support ticket for.

They just sort of like deal with it. Whereas. If my own team is actually using process kit, they know I’m the creator and founder of it. They could send me all those little things and it’s, and it’s my own team. Who’s like, Oh, it’s really frustrating when I have to copy and paste this from over here to over here.

Like I could take that and like ship that into the product in a week. And now my team is happier and it benefited all the customers too. You know, there, there are certainly a lot of requests that just don’t make sense to add, to process kit, because from a product standpoint, but there’s a lot of little things that like, you know, because I’m more of a manager, more the founder, like I’m not the one carrying out the daily repeatable tasks myself.

So you start to realize there’s a lot of. User experience things that that can be improved that I don’t personally experience because I’m not the, on the ground user, but working with my team. Yeah. It’s easier to see that.

Joe Howard: [00:17:31] Yeah, totally. And remind me when process kit. Was officially like, launched, like when it came live.

And I asked, because I kind of wanted to talk a little bit about, um, the past a year and like how COVID has affected different businesses. Um, your business is obviously pretty digital and catered towards digital businesses, but I’d be interested to hear kind of like what the last year has looked like for process given kind of the current economy.

Given the current state, we find ourselves in.

Brian Casel: [00:17:58] Process kit. I started really working on it January of 2019, and the very first users first customers came in around June of 2019. So you know, about a little more than half a year before COVID started then in 2020, you know, it process kit was, and in many ways it still is today.

Still a very new product. It’s much further along now, but in 2020, when COVID hit. We were only about eight months into having users on process kit. So, so it was a little bit difficult to tell what the full year of 2020 really meant for process kit, because it wasn’t even the first full year of users yet.

But one thing that I found interesting, because, you know, we, we continue to add customers through COVID and 2020, but one of the interesting things was. You know, cause we work with a lot of agencies, a lot of client services and all of a sudden they became a little bit slow or they had some space in their workload because of COVID and they were like, this is a good opportunity for us to actually work on our processes and our operations and put the work into setting up process kit.

Um, I heard that from a number of folks in 2020.

Joe Howard: [00:19:13] Yeah. That’s, that’s pretty interesting. Cause I feel like in my mind right here about. COVID is happening. Maybe we lost a couple clients. We’re scrambling. We got to get on our systems and operations, like to me, I’m like, I don’t, I didn’t think, I wouldn’t think that that’s what they would kind of go after in terms of like low-hanging fruit, but it sounds like my assumption was totally wrong there.

And there are people out there maybe they’re actually already kind of running somewhat successful agencies that are maybe doing okay during COVID maybe like digital agencies that are, that are still either continuing to gain more clients or they is even more in demand now. That they’re saying, Oh, S like a system like working in, focusing on systems is going to be a key way for us to.

Cement some of this growth or for us to like, be able to continue servicing our customers even better.

Brian Casel: [00:20:05] Yeah. I mean, also just a big challenge for process get in general has been onboarding new customers to process kit, like get, getting them to look at it is it is a bunch of work to get set up on process kit.

You need to really design out your, your processes and systems. You need to get your team on board, get, get your whole team to adopt it. Right. And so. I mean, that’s a challenge that’s been there since the beginning more recently we have like a new onboarding experience with like, uh, like ready-made templates for your agency and, and, and a whole builder process that makes it a lot easier and faster, but we didn’t have that in 2020.

What happened was like, that’s usually the big objection is like, if you’re an agency and you have a lot of work going on, right. They knew that their operations weren’t as optimal, but they couldn’t really pull the trigger on signing up for process kit because it’s too much work and they have too many current active client projects to be able to do it.

Um, but then when COVID hit and they had these like little spaces in their calendar, all of a sudden they were like, Oh, actually we can, we can get around to. Improving our systems, which is something we’ve been meaning to do for a while, but now we finally have the space to do it. But, but yeah, I mean, with process kit, as a product that that’s been a big challenge in general.

And, and recently we added dislike builder and template system that just made it a lot. A lot easier, a lot faster.

Joe Howard: [00:21:29] Yeah. Cool. I can see that, that being a challenge. I think like if I’m looking at your pricing right now, it’s at least right now is recording of this episode. It’s $49 a month for three team members.

And then about 20 $19 a month or 20 bucks a month for each additional team member, if I’ve got, you know, 10 team members. That’s about 250 bucks a month, correct me if I’m wrong in my math here, but it’s for me, if that helps my onboarding be successful, the pricing $200, $50 per month, kind of a no brainer.

I’m like, yes, like. Shut up and take my money. Like how could we do this? The hard part for me, which it sounds like you’re experiencing too, is like, how do I get my team to dedicate the time to make sure that this transition happens? Well, we’re on teamwork projects right now. Okay. Well, we have good repeatable tasks there, but like they’re not perfect.

They’re not even that good. Okay. Process kit may work better for us. Okay. Well, I gotta bring my. You know, customers or client success lead. And I got to bring our COO and I got to make sure our team knows about all this stuff. We have to take the time and resources to move. And that is that to me is more of a challenge.

I think, for the financial, like financially, that’d be like, yes, like where can I sign up? You know, how are you targeting in terms of like your clients you’re looking for, for process KIPP? Is it more you think. Smaller teams, people who have like maybe two to three members in there, or do you have any clients now who are kind of like, I don’t know, more enterprise level has got to go.

I don’t know, a hundred people in there.

Brian Casel: [00:22:59] Yeah. So, uh, well, so for the example of like a company with 10 full users, that that would actually be around one 80 a month, you know, cause we, we sort of have weird pricing where the base plan just covers your face three users. And then after that, it’s, it’s uh, 19 per user.

We do have companies with more than 20 people in there, but it’s, we actually found that that you’re right. Like the sweet spot is. Not super small, like not one to three people. They’re probably using like free tools or other project management tools that they haven’t felt the pain of trying to scale into, into a team it’s usually around, like between five and 10.

Five five, six, seven people. You’re starting to feel like, all right, if we’re, if we’re going to keep hiring like this, we need to really button up our systems. And then they grow into process kiddo over time after that. But, but the other thing is, is more recently, we we’ve been focusing a lot more on, on client onboarding as.

As like th that’s by far the most common use case for process kit. So agency, most agencies, the most important process that you have is like how you, how you set up a brand new customer or client for success after they’ve signed up for your service, how do you onboard them? Super smooth. And because ultimately that leads to really long client lifetime.

If you get the first month really right. And so we have like, uh, an onboarding template built in with a process already to go. And a lot of companies are sort of just using process kit, at least at first. For, for that client onboarding piece. And then maybe after that, if they have fully custom products, maybe they roll them into some other system, but more often they start with the client onboarding piece with us, get that up and running just on your next new new clients.

And then like add in like, Oh, you’re running a podcast. We can run our podcasts through process kid, or, Oh, we do a lot of employee onboarding and employee hiring and training. Let’s run them. Let’s run that process through, through process. They start to add on that. That’s generally where it’s going, especially, you know, now that we were, we had this client portal system and we also have like guest users.

So, so they can like invite clients into tasks and, and watch them through, through the milestones and things like that.

Joe Howard: [00:25:13] Yeah. Yeah. I think the, the employee onboarding was the next thing I was gonna ask about if that was a use case, because that’s the other place. We see, we need a lot of help around systemizing, just like repeatable process.

Like everyone we hire, like has to pretty much go through the same process. Maybe it depends if you’re like a full-time person or you’re working hourly, or if you’re doing, you know, a developer job or some marketing job, of course there’ll be, things have changed, but yeah. And also, you mentioned, you said the word dynamic earlier in this conversation, which I assume means there’s some sort of, you know, you can make adjustments based on the kind of person maybe who’s onboarding, Hey, this is a marketer.

I think we like this. When we add this list for the marketer, it’s going to have these extra items, but the developer is going to have these extra three items for that are more engineering focused. So at that’s an interesting use case to me, for sure.

Brian Casel: [00:26:06] Definitely employee onboarding is a big one. I mean, that’s a big one for us at audience ops too.

Yeah, so like new, new employees, there’s really two sides of that. There’s the hiring process of like dealing with candidates and interviews and narrowing down that. So we have a whole system and process for that. And then we have a separate one for new employee onboard and getting them trained up and that’s probably different for each role.

Um, but yeah, you were, you were talking about the dynamics stuff that that’s where I love to really like geek out on this stuff. And that’s, that’s also where process kid is very different from your typical project management tools. So yeah, we’ve got like automation rules built in like a lot of, if this, then that kind of rules that you can build into your tasks.

Um, we also have like liquid tags, so you could. Have these custom attributes on each of your clients. If the client has this value in there in the plan that they purchased or whatever, it may be, you know, show or hide or change the order or, or fire off this automation send off this, this, uh, we, we also have like template emails now.

So you can like send off a template email from a step in a process

Joe Howard: [00:27:15] video. I think, I dunno if you put it out on Twitter or something, or I saw it somewhere that, that, but that looked really cool.

Brian Casel: [00:27:21] Yeah, the, the other big one for us, it’s almost like maintaining a separate product is our Zapier integration.

I mean, like every, almost all of our customers are heavy Zapier users and they need their processes and stuff like hooked into their CRM or hooked into their Stripe purchasing flow or their calendar booking stuff. Like. So, so we, since the beginning we’ve been maintaining this really, it’s a, it’s like a big app that just the Zapier app, it’s like all the different things that you can do inside process kit, you could fire up.

In and out both ways with

Joe Howard: [00:27:54] Zapier. Yeah. Yeah. We’re big Zapier users and it feels it’s a nice way to you connect software to really nice, any easy way to make SIF software talk to each other. But sometimes it still feels a little bit like it’s like a, it’s still a little bit messy sometimes with like all this stuff, talking all this stuff.

Um, so it’s a good, obviously a very good solution. I know for a fact that there are teams out there that are like the Zapier integration to maintain and manage that is like kind of a beast. Yeah, it

Brian Casel: [00:28:23] is. It’s definitely a beast, um, from a development standpoint, but I’ll say this, like, I mean, I think that more, more SAS need to, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t say like all SAS need a Zapier integration, but I feel like a lot more SAS products need to prioritize there’s Zapier integration because zap Zapier itself has become so huge that like it’s become like a must have.

Feature when, when a customer is evaluating a SAS, if it doesn’t have a Zapier integration or it’s a really poorly done one, like I know for me, I’m probably not going to use it because I I’ll feel limited. And, and all my integrations run through Zapier. It just opens the door to not only so many integrations, but it’s, um, like people start to prefer Zapier integrations over the direct integrations, because it’s just easier to manage them all in one place, you know?

Joe Howard: [00:29:17] Yeah, exactly. Like we have twenties app, your integrations running right now. I get an email every week or so it’s like, Oh, you’ve had like, Twenty-five hundred zaps go in the past week or something. So I would, I would, I would personally, as a business owner, prefer to continue managing it there because it’s just easier for me.

It’s in one place, I’d be interested to hear about how you attracted new customers at process kit. I’m always interested in kind of what lead acquisition looks like and just how you grow your customer base. I sometimes like to like take little guesses at things and I feel like I want to. I want to make a little guests and then I want to let you tell me if I’m right or wrong.

So the places I see growth for process kit one, you’ve done a lot of. You’ve been around the block. Right? You were like one of those guys. I remember when I went to Microsoft and I was like, Oh my God, it’s Brian castle. Like, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but that was you, you know, it still is you. Um, so you probably have like an email list and a somewhat of a following of people around, you know, I get your emails that are very helpful for when I’m working on stuff.

I’m doing hiring onboarding. Oh, I read Brian’s email about that. So maybe some of those people who’ve been following you for a while. They want to try the new thing you’re doing. So that may be one customer acquisition channel. Another may be he actually, through Zapier, you have Matt, you spend all this time and resources managing Zapier integration, but to have integrations with all sorts of other stuff, maybe if you have an integration with like a Calendly, well, Calendly clients may find you through that integration and say, Oh, process kit.

Let me try that. So that’s actually kind of a marketing channel itself. I don’t know if that’s helped you drive customers. Maybe you just have some more traditional marketing that you’re doing. Maybe you’re doing some content stuff. You’re doing some Google ads or some social ads, or, you know, pick your poison when it comes to lead acquisition.

But want to know if any of that, any of that was right there all semi right. Or if they’re all wrong. Yeah.

Brian Casel: [00:31:14] Semi right. Uh, good, good guesses here. Um, let’s see. So. My audience, uh, yeah, I’ve been sort of slowly building, uh, a bit of an audience over the last several years. Um, I I’m on a podcast. I I’ve been talking to, uh, and, and most of my audience are agencies and productized service people.

A lot of WordPress, a lot of web design people are in my audience. Just sort of like naturally from the type of work that I’ve done, that that’s who I tend to connect with. Um, so that having the audience thing has helped. When the, when the product is brand new, it definitely helps gain momentum. Some, some very, very early momentum with, with very early users and customers that like, if you don’t have any audience at all, that’s usually the hardest part.

But if you do, um, it can help just get those very first. Users or even just get feedback.

Joe Howard: [00:32:08] Yeah. It’s like your friends and family,

Brian Casel: [00:32:10] you know? Yeah. It’s just because the feedback is the most important thing. Like, is there like just showing, showing a potential thing to someone else? Like, is there something here or is this just all in my own head?

Like the sooner that you can do that, the better, and if you have access to a group of people, um, and you already have that rapport, that, that definitely helps. Um, but actually long-term. It’s not as big as most. It’s not as big of a factor as most people would assume. When, when you see folks who have a large audience, especially for SAS products, it, it definitely helps, but it doesn’t guarantee that that you’ll be able to grow the customer base.

Um, and, and, and in some cases, you know, it, it can. Attract not ideal fit customers. Sometimes they just buy because they follow you, but they’re not really experiencing the pain that the product really solves. Other cases. They’re, they’re perfect fits because the product was sort of designed for agencies.

And there are a lot of really good agencies in my audience. So that is one, one chunk of, of the, of the marketing comes from that. Those sorts of channels, content and SEO is the other one that we’re pretty focused on now and have been since last fall, like five or six months. Um, that’s starting to. To show some results and growing just organic traffic people searching for it.

Uh, Zapier, you mentioned is interesting just having the Zapier app integration alone, actually doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of bringing in traffic or users. I’ve seen a couple of people trickle in because they search for like process in, in Zapier and we came up, but, but I did just recently last month, have I wrote a guest article for Zapier’s blog?

Um, and that brought in a lot of people. Um, so you know, they, they blast that email out to like their whole list of like a crazy number, no number of people. So actually right now this year, that’s something that I want to do more of is get, get more, um, guest appearances, usually guest articles or podcasts with.

Relevant audiences that just align. And I mean, obviously Zapier, like I said, like all of our customers are already Zapier users, so, so that audience really resonated pretty well. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:34:31] Yeah. That’s cool. I’d like to dig into that even a little more. I think. Cause I think. People think about guest posting or posting a guest article on a blog.

They think of it as maybe something that is beneficial for SEO. Maybe you get a few links back to your site. That’s kind of more like 2005 SEO, I think. Right. But there’s enormous value in writing a super, super high quality guest post somewhere. That is perfect for your ideal customer, so that you’re adding a ton of value to people.

And it, it adds value everywhere. Like a guest post quote unquote does not have to be something spammy or negative it’s because it actually a lot of value in it. I think that’s really cool. Zapier is obviously a huge. Blog. I mean a huge company. I assume they have a huge blog and a lot of visibility and a lot of email addresses.

They can send this out to how did you get hooked into being able to do that blog post? Was it, did you kind of contact someone at Zapier? Did they know about you already because of your Zapier integration with someone, maybe part of zap you’re already in your audience. And then they were like, Hey, you want to write a guest post?

I’d love to know like how you got the intro there, how you got in there.

Brian Casel: [00:35:39] In this case, I did get pretty lucky. Uh, somebody like a former employee of Zapier, wasn’t my audience. And then just, he, uh, introduced me to the blog editor at Zapier. But you know, I can’t broadcast this as if it’s like a strategy that anybody can use, but there are many blogs out there, including Zapier who actively seek guests.

Contributors. I think they have a page on their site somewhere where you can submit a form and give a pitch. My advice, no matter who you are doing outreach to, it doesn’t matter how small or big the publication is. You know, you have to come up with a pitch that, you know, will resonate with their audience.

Don’t worry so much about your own. Yeah. First of all, choose the right publications based on some audience overlap there, but understand what types of content really. Serve that audience really well. And so I actually wrote an article all about the automations side of client onboarding, right? Because obviously Zapier audience, they care about hooking up.

Right. Pretty cool automation. So

Joe Howard: [00:36:42] yeah, we do some guest posting to Debbie. People are across different kinds of WordPress blogs. We’re very cognizant of writing articles in the right places for the right people with great topics for those specific. Audiences, but also like being super, super easy to work with from like the editor’s point of view or whoever is actually publishing it.

Like every guest posts we write, like one of the checklist items we have in our list is like, make sure we have a good number of links in the guest posts out to other blog posts on their blog. Because, you know what they’re going to want to do a little SEO. Okay. Why don’t we just do that? When we write the blog posts people, does everybody do that?

Most people don’t do that. I think that gives us the leg up in terms of wow. They already linked to that other blog post says, okay, cool. I don’t even have to do that as the editor. Cool. I like these guys. Maybe I’ll do another guest post with them. We’ll like link out to their core products. Like we’ve done some, you know, a couple of guest posts or a few guest posts on like a torque mag that IO, which is the WP engine, um, kind of.

Publication. We always link out to WP engine. When we talk about hosting, we just link out to WP engine because they’re obviously going to do that, right? Like they want to talk about their hosting. So we just do it for them and to do that kind of work for them. Maybe we also do a little bit of, we don’t do this a ton, but we’ll do like a little bit of SEO research to be like, Oh, this top, like when we’re pitching a topic or we think this topic would be good.

Look, it gets this many searches. You haven’t written about it before. Maybe that’s the place you’d want to compete in. We do a lot of SEO too. So it’s also got to be a thing we don’t particularly want or need to compete in. So there’s a lot of nuance there, but anyway, for guest posting, I think some of those strategies are also would be cool.

Hey, if your people are using process kit for guest posting, add that to your a checklist item, make sure you do some of those things. Yeah, totally. And

Brian Casel: [00:38:31] I mean, to be honest, I’m still trying to learn about marketing and just growing traffic and customers in general. I feel like it’s a topic that I’ve been trying to learn for 10 plus years.

And, uh, and every year it just seems to be like, There’s so much more to learn and, you know, I’m always just interested to hear about the processes and, and especially as I’m like delegating a lot of this work out to a team, you know, what, what kinds of like repeatable stuff can I, can I reliably give to other people to do that, that I know will result in increased traffics.

I’m always interested to hear that kind of stuff.

Joe Howard: [00:39:08] Yeah. Yeah. Agreed. Cool. Well, Brian, thanks again for being on, man. I appreciate you coming on the show. Why don’t you tell folks where they can find your stuff online? YouTube is like so much stuff on it. I know you’re focused on product or excuse me, process kit, but you know, I know you’re on social.

You do the podcast too. Let’s run through the list of the stuff you’re doing on and talk about and mention the podcast for sure. Cause I’m a listener and I think other people would dig it. Yeah. Cool. So,

Brian Casel: [00:39:31] uh, I mean, we, we’ve been talking about process kit. That’s obviously over a process kit.com and. On social media, I’m mostly, really only active on Twitter and I’m, uh, cast jam on Twitter.

That’s the best way to sort of reach me directly. Uh, the podcasts that I do with my buddy Jordan gal, uh, that’s called bootstrapped web, uh, where he, and I just sort of get on the mic. And I won’t say it’s every week because we get a little bit lazy and busy and we’d, I can’t

Joe Howard: [00:39:58] publish every week. I have some weeks where I’m looking for a new episode and I’m like, damn, they didn’t record on this week.

I know.

Brian Casel: [00:40:04] Yeah, sorry, we’ve got another gap week this week. So, so there’s that one. And then the other one is productized podcast, which is more like this, more like an interview show. But again, I, I sort of go through seasons on, on that one. Yeah. And I mean, on, on Twitter is where I really talk about, about what I’m currently working on.

I’ve got a couple of new SAS products for like remote teams are really one that I’m working on right now for remote video sharing and stuff. That’s rolling out pretty soon. But that’s also where I share a lot. I do. I try to work in public a lot on Twitter. So, you know, sharing little videos of features that I’m currently designing in the user interface or sharing other ideas.

Um,

Joe Howard: [00:40:43] yeah, it’s fine. Yeah, I’m a, I’m on your Twitter. Right now. And I see it a tweet, recent tweet, liking how interfaces coming along and you have this nice little . There you go. Just tweeted that this morning. So, you know, if people are looking for a Twitter follow I’d suggest Brian, not just because quote unquote, you should follow him on Twitter, but like he really does work in public and you can see a lot of really cool examples.

So if you’re on Twitter, make sure you give him a follow.

Brian Casel: [00:41:09] Hey iTunes, you got to go there and you got to put, you got to give it five stars. Star reviews are unacceptable. WP MRR needs five star reviews. And, uh, yeah, you should go ahead and do that. I highly recommend it. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:41:23] If you leave a review on iTunes, WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes, we’ll redirect you right there.

If you’re on an Apple or Mac device, you can leave a five star review or any review without a comment. That’s cool. If you just want to leave a review, but if you had a comment, I can shoot a nice screenshot to Brian saying like, Hey, look what someone learned on this episode. Thanks for that review. So that’s nice.

And also it helps us to know what episodes we should do more on. Someone took a couple of minutes to go leave a review for this episode. I’m sorry. When you listener, take a few minutes or leave a review for this. Uh, I’ll know, I should have Brian on again, or Hey. We should go into more depth about some of the topics I talked about Brian today.

So that’s really helpful for content creation first. So we can give you stuff you want to listen to.

Brian Casel: [00:42:04] It’s really good that you actually asked for comments back from, from listeners. That’s something that always like we don’t do do that much on our podcast. And I’m always like wondering, like, are people even listening to this and, and then I’ll be at a conference and I run into people and like they know everything about my life and I don’t know anything about them.

And it’s. It’s kind of interesting.

Joe Howard: [00:42:27] Yeah. If you are, if you are a new listener to the show, go ahead and check out some old episodes. Why are you going and bingeing on Netflix, ESPN plus or Disney? Plus, those are pretty good, but why don’t you go bend something? That’ll help you move your business forward.

We’ve got 130 plus old episodes in the bank and use the search bar on WP mrr.com forward slash podcast. If you have questions for us at the show. Feel free to shoot them to us@yoatwpmrr.com. I will get back to you eventually. I promise. Or you can just hit me up on Twitter at Joseph H. Howard. I’d like to talk about what’s going on hashtag WordPress, Twitter verse every once in a while.

So hit me up there and maybe you’ll get into the next episode. Uh, cool. That’s it. For this week on the podcast, we will be in your podcast players again. Next Tuesday, Brian. Thanks again for being on man. It’s been real. Yeah. Thanks Joe. This was fun.

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