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
- David Ly Khim is on Twitter and LinkedIn
- Omniscient Digital
- Leave an Apple podcast review or binge-watch past episodes
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.