182 podcast episodes 🎙️

In today’s episode, Joe talks to Lesley Sim of Newsletter Glue, a WordPress plugin designed to help businesses or anyone connect their email service to WordPress so they can publish newsletters the way they publish blog posts. The first step is to connect the email service, write the newsletter in the block editor, and then send it. 

Lesley discusses how it becomes so much easier to send newsletters using the plugin, the current growth of the company, planning your schedule while taking care of your mental health, and how to not get sucked in any social media platform. 

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 04:33 Welcome to the pod, Lesley!
  • 06:14 Aiming to make WordPress the CMS for newsletters
  • 10:34 The plug-in is completely reliant on what happens with Gutenberg
  • 14:00 The difference between patterns and templates when dealing with Gutenberg
  • 16:25 Early adapters to the Gutenberg ecosystem
  • 18:20 Current ARR range for Newsletter Glue
  • 23:13 Future plans and current improvements in the works
  • 30:04 Stay sane and prioritize mental health
  • 35:51 Managing your daily schedule and allocating your time effectively
  • 42:08 Getting active on social media and getting sucked into it
  • 47:14 Enjoy your time on the social platform you enjoy using
  • 52:43 Find Lesley online

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Folks, Joe Howard here. I, right before we get started with this week’s episode of the podcast, a few updates for you. Uh, first of all, the WP MRR WordPress community, uh, update for this week is that Leslie, who was on this week’s episode of the podcast, uh, she’s gonna be doing an AMA, uh, like most weeks in the.

So it was really cool talking to her about, um, and it’s newsletter, uh, plugin. She’s working on a newsletter glue. If you have up questions for her after today’s episode, which I have a few that I’m mulling around in my brain right now. Um, go ahead and ask her in the comment section of the AMA space immunity.

So that’s, what’s up with the community this week. So that’s number one. Number two is the WP MRR virtual summit. Uh, shout out to our sponsors for this year’s summit. As of right now, legacy sponsors, pro blog vault green geeks WP engine week, lot, and wordpress.com. We’ve also got a few growth sponsors.

Kinston Molly, Ella mentor, paid memberships, pro SiteGround and Jetpack. Excited as always for this year’s summit. I don’t have a ton of updates right now for the summer because I’m recording this the day after I recorded Todd’s episode last week. So one thing is that we’re definitely getting all of our speaker information and sponsored details.

All that’s coming together very nicely. Um, I don’t have an admin assistant or someone really working with me except for Brian Richards, who is doing the, the, um, you know, day of, and some of the speaker prep, uh, for the event. But I’m doing all of the like Google sheets, getting stuff together and like Google sheets, keeping things organized for me.

It’s like not the most fun thing in the world to do, but I’m getting a lot of joy. Finishing those things up and seeing them really come together and feeling like we’re as organized as possible. So, um, all that’s coming together, we’ll have some speaker announcements soon, probably a few more sponsor announcements coming up as well.

So keep your eyes and ears peeled. Keep your ears peeled. Weird. Okay. Um, That’s all for announcements before today’s episode. So let’s get into the episode for today. I got to chat with Leslie SIM this week. So I kind of got to know Leslie actually in the WP MRR community she’s been involved and you know, she’s been commenting here and there introducing herself.

She’s been posting a lot in the newsletter niche space. And so I wanted to have her on the podcast chat. Really cool person. You know, those people who have conversations with and like zaps your energy, it takes your energy away. Leslie’s like the opposite. You jump off a call with her. And you’re like, wow.

I feel refreshed. I feel great. Really thoughtful person. I really got, I got to sit down and chat with her. So guts talk about a whole lot of things. We have these new spaces and WPM our community based on what stage of the business you’re at. Our conversation really applied to all three. She talked about kind of pre-launch and scratching their own itch in order to, to start this plugin and this business, uh, newsletter glue.

And then we jumped into kind of how she got her first hundred customers moving through that, like building a 10 K MRR mark. And then now she’s either at that and maybe even a little past that, but building towards, you know, that next MRR or ARR mark, uh, what she kind of has planned. Six months, what she wants to do there.

Um, so hearing her go through all those different phases and asking her questions about that, I mean, that that’s everything his podcasts about. So really excellent there. Um, the last thing we did talk about was building in public. So she is active on Twitter and she gave me a little bit of advice personally, on how to do a better job working in public, if that’s what I choose to do, and if that’s what you, as a listener or watcher want to do.

Um, so if you want to share the things you’re doing. You know, whether it’s on a hashtag WordPress Twitter, or whether it’s on Reddit or whether it’s on, I don’t know, Instagram. No, how you would, I guess, do that on Instagram, but regardless of the platform you choose, she gives some really good advice, I think on how to do that.

And all of this conversation is within this, how to do all this while prioritizing mental health, making sure you’re having fun while you’re doing it and making sure. Working herself to the bone. So cool. That’s it for the intro without further ado, please. Welcome. Leslie SIM enjoy today’s episode. All right.

We are live on the hard this week with Leslie SIM. Uh, Leslie, tell folks a little bit about you and what you do with WordPress.

Lesley Sim: [00:04:42] Hey, uh, Hey Joe, thanks for having me on. I run it. WordPress plugin called newsletter glue, and it’s a new setup publishing platform on WordPress. So you use like the Gutenberg block editor, uh, and it’s, it makes like writing newsletters the same as writing blog posts just kind of takes the hassle out of writing newsletters.

Joe Howard: [00:05:04] Yeah. Yeah. I’ve, I’m on your, your website right now, which is just a newsletter glue.com. And like the big piece that I’m seeing is like, it’s just allows you to focus on writing and not on like the tech part of writing your newsletter. And obviously it’s like a, it’s a WordPress plugin it’s built right into WordPress.

So I was trying to think about. Cause I use convert kit for my email. Like that’s what I use. So like my email putting together an email for me is totally separate than WordPress. So I’ve got to like write something in WordPress. And then if I want to send a newsletter out about that, I almost have to like duplicate my work or rewrite it as a, as a separate newsletter, which is kind of like something that could take me 15 minutes maybe to do both at once.

It’s going to take me like an hour. Cause I got to like open a new program and got to rewrite stuff. So. That was seemed to me to be a yeah, exactly. And it’s like, it’s like, yeah, it’s all the monotonous work of. Like, it should be easy. There’s like, maybe this should be automated. And it sounds like that’s you you’re doing so that seems like a big advantage of something of a newsletter tool that’s actually within WordPress.

Lesley Sim: [00:06:11] Right? Um, yeah, so that’s, that’s basically the pain point that we try to fill, um, people who use us, you know, like, like exactly what you said, right? Like you write something on your blog post, and then you’re like, okay, now I have to publish it and let people know about it. And you know, so I head over to convert kit, which in itself is like this mental switch that you have to make is not ideal to begin with.

And then you go in there. We write everything, re upload all the images that you uploaded have to test everything, make sure that, you know, um, titles are, are right. That the links are right. All of that stuff. And then send it out all over again. And, um, it’s, it’s just a pain, I think. And I think like, so what I guess what I’m trying to do is like right now, email tends to be very isolated and like it’s in this, like only goes to inboxes and I feel like there shouldn’t be.

Like, I want to make WordPress the CMS for newsletters as well as for blog posts, if that makes sense. And so you can publish everything in this store, everything in there. And you have like a, you know, nice looking archive with a link that makes sense. You know, rather than like the crazy link that ConvertKit or MailChimp gives you, um, and it looks completely different from the rest of your site and you don’t have any SEO stuff going on there as well, and all of that stuff. So. I guess that’s kind of how we look at it.

Joe Howard: [00:07:38] Yeah. We’re having a good conversation in the newsletter space, in the WP MRR community, because people were chatting about like, should I make my newsletter open? Um, or should I like ally, like, and give people links to be able to go see previous newsletters as opposed to kind of making people have to sign up for my newsletter.

There are pros and cons. I think to both it, one of the pros Simon was saying in there was about around SEO and being able to like, you know, give links to the URL you want to and give like pages, the titles and stuff you want to. And if like I’m trying to do that and convert it, it’s like, well, Better do that.

Or like, I’m kind of out of luck, but now we have WordPress powering a newsletter thing. So yeah. WordPress can help do that. So, yeah, I think that’s a, that’s cool. Um, one thing, one new area of the WP MRR community we have is kind of this like pre-launch area. And you’re just kind of talking about this pain point.

You, you, uh, you decided to build newsletter glue around. I’d be interested to hear kind of how you stumbled upon it. Um, pain point. Was this a pain point you had? Was this something you heard from other people doing email in the WordPress space? What was the thing that made you say, like, I need to create a solution to this?

Lesley Sim: [00:08:52] Uh, I was, uh, scratching my own itch kind of a thing. So I have a, I haven’t written it in a while, but, um, I have, uh, facilities, data, and, um, this was when substation was getting more and more popular. I’m not sure if you’ve familiar stuff set. Yeah. Um, I felt like, you know, the thing that it’s so simple, right.

And like, it should exist on WordPress. Right. There should be something that just because I would press already does like 90% of what substance does along with like a thousand other things, that stuff that can’t do. Right. And so. I assume that there would be this thing, like a plugin that exists on WordPress that lets me, um, and that to me was wild. Like Y you know, it made perfect sense to me.

Joe Howard: [00:09:38] Yeah. I really liked this idea of, I think a lot of people, when they think about like starting a business, or how do I, you know, before I’m going to launch something, I need, you know, this tote. Super original idea that like no one has ever thought of before. And I think starting a business is actually a lot easier than that because you’re talking about this kind of like I saw this thing on sub stack and, or I knew about sub stack and I scratched my own itch to kind of translate that into word press.

So kind of like this, bringing this sub stack and WordPress together to create this new product is. In my mind, it’s actually in a lot of cases, the best way to build a business because you kind of have these two already proven things, right? Clearly WordPress is open source software is pretty proven. I think, you know, it’s 40 something percent of the internet.

Yeah. WordPress works and you built newsletter glue to a work. With Gutenberg or alongside Gutenberg. So how was getting Gutenberg integrated or building this tool on Gutenberg? Is it something that you, uh, you had to get up to speed on Gutenberg or did you kind of, have you known, you know, have you been working with Gutenberg ever since it came out or was that like.

Lesley Sim: [00:10:50] Um, yeah, so it’s, it’s been tricky actually. Uh, I’m not sure if you’ve, you’re familiar with like the. Idiom or something like building, trying to build a fleet as on the way down. Um, so working with  has been a bit like that, but we’re trying to build like the plane on top of the plane as it is on the way down. So that’s kind of the way it’s been.

So like, you know, um, even basic things like patterns, weren’t really a thing when we started. Um, we usable blocks, like have gone through at least three big UI UX changes, um, ever since we started. So, you know, and like they’re big things happening now with templates and foresight editing. Um, so we’re basically just kind of keeping an Eagle eye on all of the development.

Um, I’ve helped test a bunch of FSC things as well. Um, We bought it bugs. Um, you know, just like all of those things, cause like where we are completely reliant on what happens with Gutenberg. Cause that’s kind of our unique selling point and um, it’s what makes us in my mind at least, um, really good and exciting and special, but it also means that, uh, we can only go as fast as the good goods and book, project goes.

Um, Yeah. And then like, obviously, you know, all the people who hate Gutenberg are just not going to like plug in as well. And that’s fine. Like there’s still, you know, millions of people who are using the latest, uh, WordPress version. Um, and we certainly don’t have a million users, so, uh, there’s still lots of space for us to play.

Joe Howard: [00:12:43] Yeah, cool. We were actually talking a little bit offline before we started recording here about building products, not for everybody, but for a certain niche or sub-niche of people, various kind of specific target target audience. Who are going to be the like best ideal customers or clients for you. So I think building for Gutenberg.

Yeah. I mean, you’re totally right. Some, you know, some people I don’t know who is still like yeah. Classic editor, but like, I’m sure there’s some people out there who think that way now. Not everyone’s going to love Gutenberg, not everyone’s in love with Gutenberg, but Gutenberg continues to get adoption and it’s almost.

It’s like us WordPress people know Guten, like the name Gutenberg terminology, but for a lot of people, it’s just like the editor now. Right. It’s just like how WordPress works. They almost don’t even know about Gutenberg. So if you’re going to be, I mean, and all of us at some point are kind of betting on WordPress, right?

We all, if WordPress goes down to zero market share, like we’re all kind of out of a job, right. So we’re all kind of betting on WordPress and adding Gutenberg to that list. Doesn’t seem like it adds a ton of risk, right? It’s like I’m betting on WordPress. I’m betting. What powers WordPress now and what, you know, Matt Mullenweg and automatic team has bet WordPress on as well. So you’re probably pretty safe betting on that too. So is that, is that how it feels?

Lesley Sim: [00:14:00] Um, yeah, I definitely don’t see it as risky, like, oh, the Gutenberg project might feel, um, I mean like, like, like you said, right, like it’s at this point, um, the block editors, so. Ingrained inside the rest of the WordPress.

Um, and then that, you know, the WordPress project would have to feel for the block editor to go away, I think. Um, so I’m not too worried about that. Um, it’s just been tricky to kind of keep abreast of all of the changes and like, Um, stagger our roadmap with what’s happening. Like if you’re, if we’re too early, then like it’s kind of, we have to do the job of explaining, um, Gutenberg features to, to our audience at the same time as explaining our own features.

Um, so like for example, patterns, patterns is difficult to explain to someone unless they’re already familiar with Gutenberg. Um, so that’s kind of being tricky cause everyone’s like, do you mean templates? It’s like, no, we don’t really mean templates. You mean patterns? What’s the difference between patterns and templates?

What’s the difference between reasonable blocks patterns and templates and it’s like, Hmm. You know, it’s, this stuff is tricky to explain and, um, yeah, it’s, it’s a fine line that we will.

Joe Howard: [00:15:20] Yeah. It’s sometimes those difficult to explain things, or they’re a challenge because you have to explain them to people sometimes in order to like convert them into potentially a client, but it also gives you the advantage of, well, if you’re the one to educate them or you teach them the easy differences between these things, it kind of builds this trust.

And then, Hey, maybe they’ll become a customer. So it’s like a two-edged sword a little bit. Um, Cool. I’m on the website now I’m kind of like checking out pricing a little bit and it looks like you’re doing, it’s not monthly recurring revenue revenue, but it’s annually recurring revenue, which I guess is one’s a subset of the other, but you’re doing annual licenses for folks.

Going in terms of like the business and, and things on that end. Um, is this, I’m not sure exactly how old newsletter glue is. If it’s one of these 10 year old products or if it’s actually a somewhat newer. Um, but how has the whole business, the side of things going in terms of like pricing things and getting new clients to sign up.

Lesley Sim: [00:16:18] Um, Hey, sorry. I just thought of something for the previous question. Can I just add, let’s do it.

Joe Howard: [00:16:24] Go for it.

Lesley Sim: [00:16:25] Okay. That dimension also is, and like the thing that gets me really excited is like, I feel like in the next, you know, in five years time, good and boat will just be WordPress and it will be everywhere.

And everyone knows what patents are. Knows what blocks are. Knows what the block editor is, knows all the shortcuts and like that’s just normal. And what, like makes me really excited is that we are one of the early, early adopters to this new world, this new ecosystem of Gutenberg of react, um, of like blocks.

Um, and you know, I like, at least for me, like, I hope that this means that in five years, time rules still be around and we’ll be like, The old established plugin in this new world of Gutenberg in this new world of WordPress. Um, and that, that’s kind of where I hope that we’ll be and why we’ve chosen the route that we’ve chosen instead of keeping, um, doing, doing stuff the old way.

Uh, yeah. So that’s, that’s kind of the thing and that one dimension. Um, so going back to your TA AR question, um, So, so you’re asking like how, when did we start and like how business has been, is that right?

Joe Howard: [00:17:44] Yeah. Yeah. And just here, I guess a little bit more about like the, the, uh, What stage of business you are, because I think it gives people good context because some people are at, you know, just beginning of their pre-launch.

So the things we talk about, you know, people have to understand that, you know, where they are in the business, some businesses. Right. You know, I talked to Kim and paid membership pro that plugin has been around for 10 years. So like, you know, people who are just starting out shouldn’t expect to be, you know, always at the same level as like Kim and Jason over there.

Right. So. There’s a lot of context just to what stage people are at. So people who are listening they’ll, they’ll kind of be able to say like, take certain lessons from it and adjust their thinking based on that.

So, yeah. I just kind of want to know a little bit about the stage of the business. Like how many customers, clients we’re working with right now. Maybe what ARR range you’re at right now and stuff like that.

Lesley Sim: [00:18:30] Uh, yeah, so we launched the pit plugin in, uh, on black Friday. Without, without much fanfare without like anywhere near the amount of promotion that it takes to get noticed during that Friday, given that, you know, there are literally hundreds of thousands of plugins out there who are trying to promote themselves during that time.

So. It was, it was more kind of like a, you know, we can, we can keep tinkering forever or we can launch at some point. And what I did was I think I put myself on a list of black Friday discounts and I was like, okay. So like the, this has gone out, like the meeting, this has gone out, the promotions have gone out.

Um, and so like, we at least should have our pricing page up, you know, it should be possible to do a checkout at least. And so that was kind of what we aimed for. So, I guess we are seven, eight we’re in August, so eight or eight or nine months. Um, or right now, Uh, yeah, things have been going, okay. I kind of go back and forth.

Like sometimes I’ll be like, you know, uh, it’s unrealistic to expect too much in my first year. Like traction takes time. Um, it takes time for people to get to know us. It takes time for SEO. It takes time to do all of these things. Right. So like on, on good days when I have like my sense of what hat on I’m like yeah.

Things take time. Um, And then on like other days, I’m like, no, you should be so much further than we are. Um, you’ve talked to him. Like you see people on Twitter, like posting their amazing magical numbers. Um, yeah. And yeah, it’s like, you can’t help, but feel like I’m doing something wrong or I need to work harder, work faster, work smarter. Um, I’m missing a trick here. I’m missing a tactic. Like if only I did this, you know, thing that nobody has told me I should do then like sales will take off from there. Um, So, so yeah, it’s, it’s kind of hard. Um, we have, uh, almost a hundred customers now, hundred paying customers, um, which on one hand seems small, but again, if you put like my sensible hat on, I feel like most, um, plugins don’t have a hundred paying customers.

Um, even like once with, you know, a hundred thousand active installs on the WordPress people, like a whole bunch of them don’t have a hundred paying customers. So, you know, in comparison we are actually doing okay. Um, so that’s, it’s a, it’s a struggle. It’s just kind of all really relative. I think.

Joe Howard: [00:21:10] Yeah, I’d have two things to say there. One is like, I often feel like one of the greatest skills entrepreneurs can have is being able to navigate that roller coaster of like one day you feel great. One day, you don’t feel great. And like doing that over a longer period of time. That’s a kind of the secret of entrepreneurship because sure.

There are certain times when actually quitting may be the best option. Like if something’s really not working and you have data to suggest that moving on to something might be the best decision. So I’m not saying like every situation just requires you to like power through and like push through. 95% of people who have been successful with something like Navid did navigate that rollercoaster and were able to not over like one magical month that, you know, maybe a few people have done that, but they’re lucky, right?

Most people have spent a year or two working on something. And they’re what seems to be overnight. Success really was a lot of just navigating that, those ups and downs and trying to figure that out. Um, the second thing is just that I think. Paying customers over your first eight months is great. Um, I’m thinking about like how many signups that is per day.

Cause I’m trying to think back to the early time of WP Boston. I remember getting an email, someone signed up someone swipe their credit card. Oh my God, this is crazy. And getting like. At first, it was like, when I, we got like one a week, I was like, oh my God, this is great. And now of course the expectations are different, right?

Like, you know, um, usually it’s like a few a day are happening right. For us, but for you and your first year to be getting like, you know, if we think about a hundred paying customers over the whole year, you know, it’s like what one out of every three or four days, but you’ve done that in eight months. So I’m thinking that’s one that one, every two to three days, I mean, that’s a really good clip to be getting paid.

Customers and hitting triple digits, I think is a really good milestone. So I’ll say congratulations to you. I think that’s a great start.

Lesley Sim: [00:22:59] Thanks.

Joe Howard: [00:23:01] Yeah, no problem. Um, so, okay. You’re at this kind of hundred paying customers right now. Um, what’s the what’s what’s next for you in terms of, um, I don’t know, turning those a hundred.

Into 200, um, or getting feedback from those first hundred in order to continue to make the product better, to make the net newsletter, glue even more valuable to your current customers. So that for our future customers, that continues to be even more valuable. Do you have kind of like a game plan of what you’re thinking about maybe for the next like six months or something?

Lesley Sim: [00:23:44] To be honest, I feel like there’s so much stuff I haven’t done that it’s just a matter of. Doing the things that I need to do. So it’s, I’m not, you know, I’m like nowhere near the stage where I’m like, oh, I need to do this AB testing thing. And then like, get this 2% change and this like part of the funnel.

And then that like, um, corresponds to this hundred K new installs or anything like that. Like I’m so far away from that. Like right now we have, uh, out of the box, install of EDD. Is it easy digital downloads. And, um, so like our accounts pages we had to use, cause it’s like, like we have not done any, like I just put the shot code into the page and like, that’s it.

Um, so like stuff like that has to improve. Um, I don’t have any email, like it’s ironic, but I don’t have any email marketing right now at all. So the only thing that goes out is. Uh, like, uh, how can I help email that? I send out an hour after a new customer, um, buys our plugin. I mean, that’s separate from like the purchase receipt and the instructions and all of that.

So like, after that comes out, then there’s like an hour later I send like an, how can I help introduce myself? Um, so people know, you know, they can talk to me directly if they need it. Um, and like, that’s it. There’s no, um, YouTube video drip campaign, where I show them how to use a plugin or any of that stuff.

Um, I don’t have that for the free plugin either. So like all of these things are like super low hanging fruit, um, that I just kind of have to go through and like get out the door. So I feel like at least for the next year, it’s going to be a lot of that. Um, you know, like content marketing, um, I’ve been trying to get that up and running.

Um, I do like. Less, I would say like 0.8 posts a month right now. Um, which is nowhere near enough, of course. And so, you know, like just trying to increase that to once a week and then like from there twice a week, uh, will be a good thing, you know, a good start. Um, so there’s, yeah, there’s just like so much stuff that I haven’t done, um, that I just need to start doing.

And it’s, it’s always a struggle because on one hand I feel like, uh, you know, it should be super easy. Right. Like a five email drip campaign and just get it out the door, out the door and start, you know, get it going. But, um, but when you’re, when you have like 50 of those super easy things that I should be able to do in five hours, it very quickly becomes overwhelming.

And, um, you know, it ends up being the case where like everything gets pushed and I just do one of those five hour tasks and like, Oh one, five hour task takes me a week instead of just one day. Um, and yeah, that’s, I think that’s just how it goes. I am not sure it’s possible to move faster than that while maintaining my sanity.

Um, if it is peace them, you know how, like, I wanna, I need, I need to learn that.

Joe Howard: [00:26:57] I think you’re, you’re smart to make sure that your, your mental health is a high priority, because it’s really easy to put that on the back burner. Um, I think the hardest thing I had to learn when growing a business was just that, and you know what, honestly, Knew this, and I always really have known this ever since I heard it for the first time.

I was like, that makes total sense. That has to be my guiding star. But for some reason I still just kind of like fail time, just like doing work that may not be the most impactful work. But the thing I usually tell other folks is like, and I actually really do try to follow myself and I’m doing better these days.

Okay. Enough preamble. Here’s the actual thing is that 20% of the work that you do is going to have 80% of the time. Right. It’s just principle. It’s like the 80 20 rule Pareto. Exactly. Yeah. I see you now. It’s so exactly. And if you can follow that, it it’s kind of two parts, right? Like one is. Obviously there’s doing the, that 20% of work, which most people can do.

And in your case, that would actually be great because then you’re not overwhelming yourself. You’re really focusing on the work. That’s the most important. And that is if you can do that all the time, You can kind of take the other 80% of work and either put it on the back burner or if you don’t get around to it, it’s kind of like, whatever, because it’s not giving you the most impact or the most growth, whatever you’re looking for in your business.

The hard part of the Pareto principle is identifying that 20%. of work Because you can’t just be like, that’s it, that’s the 20% I have to focus on because in a lot of cases you just don’t know. So you have to like try five different things, figure out which one of those five things is the most important.

And then to do all those five things, it requires you to spend a lot of time doing it. And then you’re out of Pareto principle. Then you’re doing the 80%. So it’s a hard balance to find. But I think that almost the solution is just to actually actively and explicitly tell yourself, it’s okay to move slower.

Like, it’s cool. Like, I don’t have to do all this work today. I don’t have to do all this work this week. Like if I don’t do this work right now, like is what’s going to happen next week? Most of the time your brain will trick you into saying like, that sounds cool. Or that sounds fun. Or that sounds interesting to do, go do it right now.

But like, if you, if it’s not done by next week, like nothing really changes. You know, so that’s the hard part I think is just like telling yourself it’s okay to do this slowly. It’s okay. To work for three hours a day. Like I don’t have to do 10 hours a day. Like it’s so it’s okay to move a little slower and figure these things out more slowly.

Yeah. I’ll get there, but I’ll get there intact, as opposed to trying to rush to this magic finish line, you know, that doesn’t even really exist and sacrificing, you know, mental health or your wealth, mental wellbeing, or more time spent, you know, enjoying the journey, which is what a lot of us look back and say, like, that was fun, you know, but if you killed yourself trying to do it, it wasn’t fun.

Lesley Sim: [00:30:04] Yeah. Yeah. Totally relate to that. Um, I think like, especially because. We essentially started our business over COVID and so like staying sane and like prioritizing mental health has been such a big part of my journey at least. Um, And, and yeah, so like sometimes like exactly what you said, right? So like sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed, like instead of doing the work, which is the reason that’s making me overwhelmed, take the day off and like go for a walk or like go hang out with them, friends or go, you know, do something else.

And even though the work didn’t get done, but like I’m in a much better mental space for the next day and the next next day, That to me at least makes more sense than like guilt, guilt, tripping myself and like forcing myself to sit down for two hours or three hours and like do some work. And then, you know, you come back the next day.

You just like, feel like crap because either the work wasn’t good or like, you feel completely burnt out from forcing yourself to work the day before. Um, and yeah, so like, that’s been kind of a struggle also, cause like there’s a lot of guilt, right? Like, do I do the work or do I take a break? Both sometimes are, um, great options.

Um, so yeah. Okay. I think like protecting PR I think like the thing that, um, I’ve become obsessive about is like protecting when my brain is like high functioning. So like, so much of my time I realize is spent with like me feeling tired or me feeling super unmotivated and unenergetic or not being able to think clearly and sharply and analyze things. And I think I really only get, I don’t know, maybe five hours or less of that a week, where I’m like a hundred percent on it and like, give me any, any problem I’m gonna bust it out and it’s going to be amazing. I probably only have five hours of that a week.

so any given big problem that I can solve, has to be done within those five hours. even if, I was talking about drip campaigns early on, Like. Coming up with the strategy for the drip campaign and the first draft of the copy, like what each email should be and all that.

that’s hard. Right? It’s so easy to do it badly. but to do it well is really, really hard. PR professionals get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do, do that stuff. And so like, I have to. Do it during that five hour special period, you know, throughout the week and then like, sure, like the editing stuff can be done, you know, when I’m not a hundred percent or like the uploading it onto my email provider, it can be done when I’m not a hundred percent, but like the part where I’m creating something for the first time, like that has to be done, but I’m a hundred percent or it’s just not good. And it’s almost not worth doing, at least in my head.

Joe Howard: [00:33:12] Yeah. I, I feel the same way. I think I try to prioritize my like highest functioning work or the work that requires me to be the highest functioning for like my mornings, because I think I’m more effective during my like first couple hours of the day.

And then I totally like kind of drag off even by lunch. I’m a little bit like when like, I’m drifting off a little bit and the afternoons are a little better for, um, I guess, work that doesn’t require me to like, think so hard. I think I really like what you said about like the amount of time you’re able to focus at that highest, highest level every week.

I think honestly, it’s like pretty brave what you said. I think like five hours a week, like it’s really easy to, I’m sure you feel this to like, think about that and why can’t I just do 10 high-functioning hours? Like I could do it, like, let me just push myself into that. Or like 20, 20 a week. That’s only like half my time.

Like I could totally do that. Like, let’s do that work then. On one hand, I feel like there’s benefit to pushing yourself a little bit outside your comfort zone. You get to like learn your limits. But I think that’s where it it’s really important to like learn where you’re feeling a little bit of that burnout or a little bit of that, like, oh, overextending myself.

And to be honest with yourself, right? So many people these days, Fucking hustle culture of like, I got to work work, got to do all this, all this stuff, and it’s not, what am I getting done? Who cares? I’m working. Right. I’m getting the work done. Like that’s just kind of like bullshit, right? It’s the, it’s it pushes you into the zone of like, uh, uh, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone repeatedly or too much over the long-term actually pushes you into a total, uh, unproductivity as opposed to productivity.

Um, and being honest with yourself and being, um, Like self knowledgeable and like, oh, and like present in your work and understanding that like, this is who I am and like that’s okay. Right. Maybe that’s like what we’re all going for in life. Right. Maybe that’s totally outside of work, but that’s, to me that’s always been the hardest part is.

Being comfortable with who I am. And I do like to push myself out of my comfort zone occasionally, or for short term short term periods. But you have to like work, do the work. That’s going to be the best for you. So for like you, Leslie, your five hours are going to be solid. Maybe there are people out there that can do 10, right?

Maybe there are different people out there that can do 10. And for those people sure. They can do 10, but like you’re only going to do the work as effectively as you can. If you’re doing it true to yourself. So knowing that and being comfortable with that is super important. So I don’t know if that was a little tangent, but I think that was an important, important thought that came through my,.

Lesley Sim: [00:36:00] Yeah, I agree. Like, I mean, I think, and like, even so, so like with the five hours, right? Like let’s break it down a bit. I, I realistically think that it’s like maybe three hours on one day and then two hours another day. And then like the other three days, I’m just going to be doing, you know, More mindless stuff, you know, like answering support, tickets, uh, designing, easy stuff, writing easy copy and all that stuff.

I like there’s still work being done, but like for those like special three hours and two hours, um, within the week, like three hour blocks and two hour blocks within the week. Those don’t happen all the time. And I’m on, honestly, like I’m not really convinced people can do like significant new, more like maybe I buy 10 hours.

I don’t really buy 20 hours. Um, you know, that person might be, I don’t know a drug that was something if they’re doing that much. Um.

Joe Howard: [00:36:54] Or just like they say they do 20 hours, but yeah, it’s not that offended.

Lesley Sim: [00:37:00] One other thing is like, Um, when it comes to, and I think like, so like all business owners, especially those who are in the early days still, like, I think they’ll be able to relate to this, like all the work that I do now, I’m either doing, I’m mostly doing for the first time.

And so pretty much all the work is outside my comfort zone. All the work is my best work ever, because I’ve never done the work before. Right. So like I’m redesigning the website now. I am not a designer by trade. Everything is self-taught from like reading, reading stuff on Twitter, reading blogs, um, doing courses, things like that.

And so like the, the website you see, um, on newsletter, glue.com, that’s something that I designed and it’s like the best, what I was capable of at the time. And then I’m redesigning the website now, and that’s going to be the best that I’m capable of right now. And it’s not because like, uh, oh, look at me.

I’m like so great. Or like I was particularly inspired at this time or anything like that. It’s just that, like, I’m always having to try my best because I’m not a design professional. And so, you know, this is as good as it gets. And so if you’re always pushing yourself, For every single part of the business in order to get it off the ground, then that’s way more tiring and way more mentally exhausting.

than if you’re an employee and you’re plugged into a system or a machine that’s already running and you’re told these are your responsibilities, these are the things that you have to do. You are responsible for these five things. Here are your KPIs, your goals, your targets. here’s the direction run.

and when you’re employed in doing that, you can afford to not always have to be a hundred percent on, creating new things, all of that stuff. you can actually kind of. Cost, if you want it to, I mean, there are lots of people who are like, I’m going to be a bad ass, high achieving top performing employee.

that’s great. But I’m just saying that it’s different when you’re running a business and trying to get something off the ground, like that’s your status quo? Like having to be the top achiever bad-ass is status quo out of necessity. And again, it’s not to say that I’m so great. Um, it’s, I’m just trying to say that it’s like a struggle, right?

And it’s something that. It’s part of why, like, I kind of accept that. I can’t do, you know, I think that would take an employee five hours to do like a drip campaign. It takes me a week. Cause like I’ve never had to like go in and do a drip campaign like this before. And so even though I know like the tools for it, like writing it and making it good and figuring out how to convert and all of that stuff like, oh, that’s new.

Right. And so, um, yeah, it’s, it’s hard.

Joe Howard: [00:39:56] Totally. Uh, it is definitely hard. Um, I want to finish off this conversation. I mean, we talked a little bit about just making sure our mental health is solid as we’re doing all this work, how to like effectively do our work. How do we effectively build a business? This is one of the hardest things in the world today.

But how to do it without killing ourselves to do it. Um, you do, you’re, you’re pretty active on Twitter and you do this kind of, uh, work in public model. Uh, and so I wanted to tuck talk about that a little bit, because I think it kind of touches on mental health and the, um, Cause you’re putting all this stuff out there that you’re doing me and all the pro you know, the things you’re doing.

Well, the things you’re having challenges with, like it’s all kind of out there and people could come and be like, Hey, that’s great. You know, I liked your tweet and, you know, good job or people come like, wow, you suck. Like, Hey, that’s not good. I, Hey, that’s, that’s, doesn’t feel great to see. Um, and I was doing a little bit of kind of building in public with WP MRR.

I was kind of tweeting out some of the things I was doing, changes I was seeing, uh, just updates for people so they could like, just see what it’s like to like build this circle. Because it was a nice, I just kind of thought it was a nice gesture to just do like a little thread every day. And I kind of fell off a little bit because I, I enjoyed the process of putting it out there on Twitter, but I found by putting it out there on Twitter, I had.

Beyond Twitter. And then I would see other tweets and then I would get like sucked into Twitter. And like, I don’t like being on social media as much because I like get trapped there. I’m sure a lot of people listening feel that way. They’re like an hour later, they’re like still scrolling and it’s like, what is this death scroll?

This is crazy. You know? And I like to just avoid that by like, By just not even being part of it. And so I found by tweeting in public, I was like accidentally like putting myself into Twitter, which caused me to like, go down these like Twitter rabbit holes or see what’s trending that day and like stressed me out.

Cause it’s like, I didn’t sign up for this. I just wanted to like put it out. I just wanted to like post and drop. Right. So, or post and just leave it forever. Like it’s there, people can comment. Okay, bye. But for me, it’s by forever. So you, I want to know. You were doing kind of this build in public model and what it’s been like for you and how comfortable you feel with it, what keeps you motivated to keep doing it? All that stuff.

Lesley Sim: [00:42:18] Um, so I guess the big thing is, do you, do you use any social media at all or like zero. I.

Joe Howard: [00:42:28] Okay. Let’s see. I, I have a Twitter account and I kind of use it a little bit. Um, it’s good to like know, cause like I have an Instagram, but I don’t. Yeah. I don’t use it. I don’t have it on my phone. I have an account cause I used to post, but my last photo was like three years ago or something.

I just like, literally don’t have it on my phone. Uh, I use, I don’t use LinkedIn. I have a profile that I may be at like, you know, a decade ago, but that was back when I was looking for jobs and I don’t use it for that anymore. So I literally don’t use that. Um, I do use Reddit, uh, probably actually my biggest social media thing, but I use what takes the most time. So that’s kind of like a.

Lesley Sim: [00:43:11] Like cumulative you, cause you probably pop in and out the holiday.

Joe Howard: [00:43:16] Probably. And it’s, it’s the thing that’s like, to be honest, I started using Reddit because I was like six months ago or something that this like game stop thing was happening. And I was like, this would be an interesting thing to be a part of.

So I like bought some game stop, stop game, stop stock. And then I had to join Reddit because I wanted to just. See, when this thing was happening, that was supposed to like, be this big thing and like still hasn’t yet. That’s a whole nother story. Maybe I get into another episode, but that kind of drew me into Reddit a little bit.

And then I found, I was like, oh, this is like this cool, weird, like slice to the internet that I didn’t even know existed. And I kind of got drawn into a little bit, so yeah, I probably like an hour a day, honestly. Like all my phone, just kinda like checking stuff out, uh, seeing what these crazy popular, sorry.

Lesley Sim: [00:44:03] Anyway, so that’s kind of my status, not so much, like do, do what I am. I.

Joe Howard: [00:44:11] I’ve watched YouTube every once in a while. Um, I’m actually on YouTube right now during this playing some low-fat hip hop in the background of this, which I do all day every day. Yeah. So I’m actually, I actually on YouTube a lot, but it’s almost 95% of it’s in the background just to have some like ambient music. Yeah. So, okay. So the reason I ask is like, gives me so many, so much that, um.

Lesley Sim: [00:44:37] Yeah, so the reason I ask is because. Um, I feel like most people are on at least one or two social media or like video watching platforms or something like that. Like every single day. And they spend like, at least an hour, like an hour or two, you know, like if you combine Netflix plus Reddit, plus YouTube, plus all these things together, you’re spending an hour or two a day.

Right. And so, um, when I started using Twitter more, I basically stopped using Instagram. Cause like, it just happened that I had that. Hour or two mental space that I used to dedicate to Instagram. Like not, not knowingly, but like, that’s kind of, you know, if I add at all the minus scrolling that I did on Instagram, so I basically stopped and then just did it on Twitter instead.

Um, so I guess, like, that’s kind of how I find time for it. Um, you know, Yeah, I guess when I’m working and I want to take a break off, like just completed something that I’ll take a screenshot and I’ll just post it on Twitter and see, you know, while I’m there, like I’ll scroll a bit and see what people are talking about and respond a bit.

Um, and that’s like, I dunno, 20 minutes, half an hour. Um, So that’s, that’s kind of how I do, and that’s kind of how I make space for it. Um, I find like most people who say they don’t have time for Twitter, it’s because they’re, you know, doing Reddit or they’re doing some YouTube and those are all things that, you know, they’re just like kind of interchangeable things that you make time for in between the rest of your day. Um, so I guess that’s kinda how I think about.

Joe Howard: [00:46:16] Yeah, I totally agree with that. It’s kind of the same. I feel like when people say like, I don’t have time to do anything. And most of the time you can just say, well, if you didn’t watch, like if you didn’t have access to Netflix, like, would you have time?

Nancy’s usually, yes. Right? It’s like, oh, if you watch like three episodes of a show everyday, okay. That’s like an hour and a half. You’d get back. Um, going back to our previous conversation, I think it’s probably important to take time off. And it’s important to have time where you just are, can just, you know, we’ll watch a Netflix show.

That is a mindless show that that’s fine. Maybe it’s about like, okay, if you take half an hour of your Netflix time every day and put it towards work. Okay. That’s like two and a half hours a week. So like, I, you know, you can make these small shifts to make time. So I, but I think, uh, what you said makes total sense.

It’s just like you have this. Block of time. That’s like your social time. And if you want to like, spend it more on one, you just take away from another and it keeps that block intact for the most part, but it focuses it more on your, on your posting.

Lesley Sim: [00:47:14] And I think this comes, this goes to another thing that I’m big on, which is like, Enjoying your time on the social media account or the social media platform that you’re spending the time on and like trying to grow.

So for example, if you didn’t like spending time on Twitter, then don’t like, I think if you don’t enjoy your time debt, then it. Just not a good use of your time. I think, especially if it’s talking about social media stuff. Right? So like, if, for example, you found that you’ve enjoyed Reddit so much more than, you know, there’s a huge WordPress community on Reddit, right?

There’s like loads of clients you could be getting on Reddit, you could be answering subreddits all day. Like that is in my mind, like, just as bad is this, the subreddit on for WordPress is like 120,000 people. It gets like a hundred posts or something. You know, like fuck Twitter and like focus on Reddit, you know, like, like that’s kind of how I view it.

Um, and just because, especially like, if you already are there, you’re spending time in it, you’re going to know how to talk about things the right way. So like, I always feel really, really uncomfortable responding to stuff on Reddit, even if it’s something that like, I know my product will be the perfect fit for it.

Like, I’m so scared of, you know, getting downvoted getting hate, hated on and all of that stuff, because I don’t spend enough time on Reddit to know how to respond to their right way. I don’t have like the, you know, a good amount of karma if that’s even what you call it. I don’t know any of that stuff. And you know, and it’s like probably the same.

I don’t post it all on Reddit either. I’m total lurker. You should start. Right. Cause like you get more of the vibe of, you know, how it works. And like, same for Twitter. I think like, if you don’t spend enough time in the platform, you, you definitely come across as awkward and it shows that you don’t spend enough time on the platform.

Um, and like the way you respond to people, it’s like not natural. You just, just something kind of like performative and icky about it. Um, and that like always shows. Um, and but yeah, like if you, if you’re on there all the time, you’re chatting with people all the time, then you can. You have like the right cadence, you have the right level of like formality, um, you know, the right words to use.

And I think all of that kind of plays into, um, your success in the platform and how much you enjoy it. And it’s like a virtuous cycle. So, so yeah, to me, it like all comes back to making sure you enjoy the platform that you’re committing to grow your business on. Um, and yeah, any platform you can, like if I wanted to spend my time in LinkedIn, Grow newsletter glue via LinkedIn.

I’m not so sure that I can do it. It’s just whether or not I enjoyed that platform or not. Um, and yeah, so that’s kind of how I view building a public, like anyone who who’s like I’m my, my goal is to get 10 K followers on this platform and I’m going to like grow it. And I’m going to like, um, do sales and you know, all of these things and like to the hack, to the hack, to the hack, like those guys are going to hate using Twitter and.

In six months, a year, they’re just going to disappear. Even if they manage to grow their account to 10 K or whatever. Um, and it’s just cause like they didn’t actually enjoy the platform or get that much personal joy or value out of it. Um, so I don’t recommend anyone do it that way. Like just, just have fun.

Like, you know, if you’re into Reddit, like. Look at whatever we’re set vegetarian too as well. I don’t just spend time on WordPress, right. Like through the Viet stuff. Um, and it’s the same with my Twitter. So like, one of the things that I did was I, I read like, like illustrations and stuff like that. And so I follow a lot of illustrators on Twitter, which is like, so not what Twitter is really for.

Like, that’s more like Instagram type stuff, but cause I don’t look at Instagram anymore, so I like want it to bring art into my Twitter feed. And so I’ve just seen. Following a bunch of illustrators on, on Twitter. And it like makes my account so much nicer to look at and like brings me joy. Um, and I feel like that’s, again, that’s just a better way to build in public.

Then, then like post your MRR and like, hope that it gets viral and shared and all that.

Joe Howard: [00:51:29] Yeah. Yeah. I like the bit weird, I think is one of the more underrated best pieces of advice I’ve heard because like we’re all human and we’re all weird in our own different ways. And I talked about this a little bit before, but like getting to know yourself and being comfortable with yourself and embracing who you are and embracing that weirdness is like so much of a.

You know, become happier and live happier lives. And we’ve done that. I think so. And of course it’s still a journey for everyone, you know, maybe no one has a hundred percent found that weirdness, but to be able to embrace that a little bit and, um, you know, follow who you want to follow, Hey, I want more art in my feed.

Let’s go more art in my feed. I can, I can tell it clearly you’re into the art cause your, your picture, your profile picture is a awesome animated photo on, uh, on your Twitter account. So. Yeah, I think that’s a good place to, to wrap up is, uh, is keep it weird and that’s liking what you’re doing and liking what you’re up to on the day to day is gonna like, mean you’re still working on it in a hundred days, or maybe in two years, it’ll give you the time it takes to actually like break through.

If you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re never gonna, never going to keep doing it. So, uh, I think that’s, uh, it’s under. Under told advice, but one of the most important things. So let’s wrap up a little bit. Why don’t you tell folks, Leslie, where, where can they find you online? Where can they find newsletter glue? All that jazz.

Lesley Sim: [00:52:47] Yeah. Thanks. Thanks, Joel. It’s been great talking. Uh, you can find newsletter group@newsletterglue.com. Uh, and on Twitter, we are at newsletter glue. So very simple. Everything’s the same. And if you want to follow me directly, I am on Twitter. A lot, um, at Lesley and a cigar pizza. So that’s L E S L E Y. And the score pizza. Yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:53:14] Yeah, she’s got the emoji pizza emoji and the name. She got his cool animated photo on Twitter. She’s Leslie you’re posting, uh, regularly, uh, just, uh, work in public, uh, model. So you’re really kind of putting out there, the things you’re working on. I saw you tweet out some like notion notes, uh, some, some notes that you’re putting in a notion getting some feedback.

Um, so I think it’s cool. It’d be cool to follow you, especially for folks one who want to give you feedback, interact with you on Twitter, but also who just want an example of what it’s like to be. Working in public, you know, you’re having fun doing it. You’re putting out valuable stuff and you’re, you’re doing it to benefit yourself and to benefit anybody who wants to follow you and see what’s going on there.

So, yeah, feel free to give her a follow on Twitter. Leslie, last thing I like to ask our guests to do is to ask our listeners here for a little apple podcast review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking folks to leave us a review, I’d appreciate it.

Lesley Sim: [00:54:06] Okay. What do I. WP MRR podcast. Is that, what does she call it?

Joe Howard: [00:54:12] Oh, there you go. Yup.

Lesley Sim: [00:54:14] All right. Um, everybody listen to the WP MRR podcast and when you’re done listening, go to apple podcasts and leave a review because it’s awesome. And Joe’s awesome. And you should do it because you’re a good fit.

Joe Howard: [00:54:30] Uh, one of the best, uh, asks I’ve heard. Thank you, Leslie. Um, WP mrr.com forward slash review redirects you right there.

If you are on an apple or Mac, um, device, uh, if you want to not just listen to us here on the podcast, but you will. Interact with us. You want to build your MRR. You want to do it responsibly. Um, head over to community dot WP, mrr.com. Leslie, as a community member there, I’m obviously in there, um, we’re working to help everybody responsibly grow their, their monthly recurring revenue, annual recurring revenue.

So feel free to create an account, uh, at community dot WP, mrr.com. Um, Leslie is also going to be doing an AMA, uh, soon. So, uh, if you have more questions for her, uh, about, uh, writing a newsletter, what it’s like to grow your plugin, how to get your first hundred customers without, you know, breaking your back, you know, you’ve done it super successfully.

Leslie, so we’ll have some questions answered in your AMA. Uh, when this news, when this episode.

Lesley Sim: [00:55:27] Also happy to answer questions about writing newsletters, getting your first hundred or your first thousand subscribers, how do you do a paid news? How’d you do a membership with a new center and all the new set of stuff asked me lots of questions about that.

Joe Howard: [00:55:41] Yeah, we’ll definitely ask questions about that in AME. I may have to have you back on Leslie, so we can have a podcast episode about that. Cause that sounds great. Um, WP MRR, virtual summit coming up September 21st through 23rd. If you register for the community, you will also automatically be registered for the summit because we’re going to be live streaming it right in the.

Channel or the summit space right in the community. Um, so to register, just register for the community super easy. Um, if you are a new, less listener for us here on the podcast, feel free to go and binge some older episodes. We’ve got 150 ish episodes. Just go to WP mrr.com forward slash podcast. We’ve got a search bar.

You’re having a challenge with something and go search right in the search bar. Find an episode that’s going to apply to you and help you with that challenge area you’re having as well. Uh, all right, cool. That is it. For this week on the podcast, we will be in your ear buds again next Tuesday, Leslie.

Thanks for again for being entrepreneurial.

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