Probably just like you, the exploration for the secret ingredient to running a successful business is a tricky one.
Speaking for myself, I can tell you that I’m constantly trying to learn and dissect what some of the most successful brands are in my space.
- How did she do it?
- What does the website look like?
- Productized service or digital product?
- Smash that like button on a secret formula to generating $5m in Facebook ad sales
All of this with our blinders on. Sometimes, the real secret, is just staying in the game. Jason joined us eight years ago, right when he and his wife Kim were making the transition to full-time product sales, leaving custom client work behind.
Now, Paid Memberships Pro has over 100,000 active installs according the WordPress.org directory and his business is getting a lot more focused on…doing what works.
Has he considered convergent PMP into a hosted solution? What about outside acquisition? You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out!
This episode of the Matt report is brought to you by how to market your plug-in dot com a framework for the sleep deprive developer. If you ask yourself, how do I get more downloads for my plugin? What about more sales? Should I do this lifetime license thing? You need to pick up the book, how to market your plugin over app. How to market your plugin.com.
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This book will help you market while you’re building your plugin. Instead of treating your marketing as a last resort. I can’t tell you how many times. How many interviews I’ve had, where the developer has just fallen upon luck and chance that they have a business in front of them. People are downloading their plugin. People are buying their plugin, but they hit a certain point of plateau where they need to scale. They need to get the word out there and this book will help you do it. Check it [email protected] Thanks for supporting the show.
This episode is also brought to you by media, ron.com media ron.com Ronald Ereka he’s back. He creates WordPress plugins. In fact, one of his plugins I was searching for the other day. Totally forgot that he made it called highlight and share. He creates a highlight and share plug, and you can highlight sections of texts and share them with your network right on your WordPress website.
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Thanks for supporting the show.
Probably just like you, the exploration for the secret ingredient to running a successful business is a tricky one. Speaking for myself. I can tell you that I’m constantly trying to learn and dissect what some of the most successful brands are doing in my space. How did she do it? What does the website look like?
Product I service or digital product. Smash that like button on a secret formula to generate $5 million in Facebook ad sales.
And all of this with our blinders on. Sometimes the real secret is just staying in the game. Today’s guest first joined us eight years ago. Right? When he and his wife were making the transition to full-time product sales, leaving custom client work behind. Now paid memberships pro has over 100,000 active installs, according to the wordpress.org directory and his business is getting a lot more focused on doing what works.
Has Jason considered converting, paid memberships pro into a hosted solution. What about outside acquisition? You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out. You’re listening to the Maryport.
A podcast for the resilient digital business builders. Subscribe to the newsletter at maryport.com/subscribe or follow the podcast on apple or Spotify or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts better yet. Share this episode on your social media. We’d love more listeners around here. Okay. Let’s get into today’s episode.
hey, Jason, welcome to the program.
Hey, it’s great to be here. I’m a big fan, a big listener, and it’s good to just get to chat with you again. Um, I’m going to do this every couple of weeks.
Like there’s a thunderstorm today and I’m going to, you know, the thunder storm is gonna cancel this one too, and I’ll have to reschedule for next week.
so I last had you on eight years ago, when you were one of the founding. Interviewees of the Maryport podcast, a lot has changed. And a lot hasn’t changed. Uh, for paid memberships pro and your business. Uh, and for WordPress. Chris lemma re recently wrote a post about, uh, the future success of WordPress, which we’ll get into in a little bit and sort of how he sees hosts playing a role in the adoption of WordPress, uh, streamlining WordPress onboarding, even specific flavors of let’s say membership sites, e-commerce sites, that kind of thing.
But go back in your time machine and let me know, where were you mentally? Eight years ago with the business. And when we first interviewed.
Yeah. Um, so that, that would have been 2013, which would have been a couple of years after paid memberships pro launched. And at that point PM pro was really a loss leader for our consulting business.
So it was mostly just Kim and I, and we had a couple of contractors, um, you know, who helped out with random things. But we, you know, we had a membership plugin for WordPress and we parlayed that into, you know, 10 to $30,000, you know, gigs installing WordPress from membership sites and things like that. Um, and we were, we were doing that transition of like, Hey, how do we transition from a consultant company to a products company?
We were just starting that around 2013 and, and also like figuring out our first hire. I remember how hard, like the first hire was, um, And now it’s kind of like, you know, we’re hiring all the time. It’s like, it has to be a process where we’re constantly, like we have relatively low turnover of employees and we’ve been like, grateful for that.
But even that, like just growing and, you know, people go occasionally that, you know, we have to, as a process now, like hiring people as a process, it was like a huge deal. The biggest thing of the year, you know, in 2013. And now it’s just another process. Yeah.
Probably one of the most, uh, popular, free membership plugins that are out there.
I know there’s a lot of plugins out there that sort of skate by semi membership. You know, they’re doing like log-in and access control, but certainly not to the degree of integration, ad-ons support general reach that you have memberships a hot space. Uh, when we’ve chatted a little while ago, I was curious of how do you.
Competitively make the distinction between membership LMS. Like how do you fit yourself in the market so that you get the right customers and not the wrong ones?
So you’re arguably the most popular free memberships plugin. Um, you know, and there’s some other plugins out there that are sort of like a third degree from a membership, like they do user profiles and they’re also a membership. But a pure membership platform play that is you.
How do you make the distinction amongst the third party competitors? The ones that have kind of sorta a membership plugin. And those have like an lms like a lifter lms a full-fledged learning management system where do you make the distinction with your marketing and your messaging?
Yeah. So there’s a ton of competition. And I remember one of our first, uh, kind of big web ventures for Kim and I was a wine website, like a wine tracking website, and that was another kind of niche.
That like every week there was a new competitor and people like, what about this? What about this one here? Like, it’s just part of business, like they’re here. Um, and I feel like membership plugins are the same way. And maybe that’s just because it’s what I’m focused on. Any business is the same. Um, but yeah, there’s a lot of membership plugins and they specialize, we like to call our homepage.
We’ll say that, you know, we’re the most complete membership solution for WordPress. Um, and we really focus on. Members as like the core unit. And so you mentioned like LMS plugins, we integrate with LMS plugins. Um, you know, a lot of people who run membership sites want to also have courses. A lot of people who run core sites also want to have memberships.
And so when we’re talking to like a prospective user and trying to figure out if our solution is good for them, you know, we like to ask them like, what’s the focal point of your business? Like, if it’s. The members are the focal point of your business. Like you’re an association or just, you know, in your mind, do you think about your members as like the important component and then how do I sell them things and how do I give them lessons?
Like you might want to start with paid memberships. Pro is like the center component of your website and use like our courses add on or use an LMS that integrates with ours, you know, but focus on PM pro. And similarly, if you start with like a course and you really care about all the features that they have, like quizzes and progress, right.
Um, you know, certificates and all the things that they do really well, like that’s the most important part and you really just want to charge monthly for access to that. You could probably get by just using their membership add on. Um, and there there’s so many different ways to like build these things.
I really feel like that’s, our job is to like find ways. To cut through all the options for the customer. Cause it’s like overwhelming, they’re overwhelmed with options and they just like, just tell me what I’m supposed to use. And we’d like to be the default choice, but you know, sometimes other solutions are better than ours in cases.
So it’s really like a conversation has to happen to figure that out.
It seems like it’s balancing. Being like the core engine I’ll call it. I’ll call it the engine of a membership for somebodies WordPress website. It’s a fine balance to say that we’re the engine, but you can also use lifter or you can use our ad-ons. Maybe you can even use another membership plugin, if somebody’s crazy enough.
So, how do you balance that? Uh, that messaging to say, look, we can act as the core component, almost like the routing. Of the commerce section, maybe even the permissions and access, uh, section. Of your membership site
man, it’s tough. Like, cause we early on, so like 2013, we would have been just getting into it.
We had a plan called like do it for. Uh, so we offered for like $500 at the time, like, Hey, we’ll install, paid memberships pro for you and do like a little bit of coding. And a lot of those little bit of coding were kind of these add ons that we’ve developed like, oh, integrate with, you know, event plugin integrate with BB press.
Um, and so we, we built this footprint of integrations that kind of worked if a developer would wire it up for them. And the most popular ones were like, well, everyone keeps asking about this and they say, it’s complicated. They don’t know how to code, so we try to make it easier. And so, yeah, we kinda have that process of like, it’s a platform where a press can do anything.
Let’s kind of have a, just that does it. Then when the just becomes popular, let’s kind of streamline it into a plugin that still has some. Potentially like settings or it needs a developer to set up and then let’s try to streamline it into something more user-friendly because as you go up that scale, like, it definitely becomes more and more to develop and maintain and support.
Um, and we had ad-ons like our MailChimp add on early on was like more fully featured than the general MailChimp add ons that were out at the time. And we were like, Hey, let’s build this in a way that you could use it even without paid memberships. But we didn’t really market it that way. Um, but then it was kind of like, so we see this again.
And again, like people will build a plugin. That’s like one of our ad-ons, but in a general way. And it was like, it was as much work to build it for PM pro in the sense. And now I’m, you know, uh, not giving them credit for everything they have to do. And all the MailChimp solutions are kind of, you know, have surpassed our ads.
Now, but at a time it was like, oh, like we could, so it’s tempting to like, oh, we should just start an LMS business. Cause our little, you know, courseware plugin is pretty close to what they do, but we’re kind of finding our space where like for the courses plugin that we built, we built it’s launching soon.
And it’s um, you know, we tell people who want a course, like maybe you don’t need a plugin. Maybe it’s just a PDF or a page with content or a video. Like if your course is pretty straight forward, you don’t have to conflict. But the, the plug-in that we have, we’ll just add CPTs for like the basic structure of a course in the lesson and have a little bit of kind of progress tracking.
And we felt like that’s the bare minimum and we don’t want to get into anything else. So if you want anything more than that, that same plugin will just integrate with learn dash lifter, um, learn, press, and like the most popular LMS. And that way we have kind of one plug and the maintain integration with all those LMS plugins, instead of like a bunch of different integrations went off with each one.
So we’re hoping that’s easier to maintain,
I’m just going to speak as a product maker and owner in a very small scale compared to what you’re doing. But going back to my days with a conductor. I know one of the challenges is when you try to stay lightweight and you try to have like this modular approach. Like you could get into LMS, but that’s another add on.
Uh, the ad-ons and extending your core product. It can be another tricky thing because you have both, you have customers that request ad-ons Hey, it’d be great. If we worked with MailChimp convert kids, Salesforce, like all these other add ons that work. That customers are requesting. So you start looking at that as like market opportunity, and then you have the ones that you build and like, oh, wouldn’t it be great to again, have that LMS section.
Um, Is there a process that you work with internally? To reign that in. Because I know from building conductor. Creating ad-ons is a, is like, It’s another micro product that you have to support in the sustain and look longterm. For example, when we were building conductor, we were building out Genesis templates.
Um, before it became studio, press. So it was one of those things where. It was. Before, you know, it was like six months to a year to two years and like, oh God, like. This add on, hasn’t been touched. It’s no longer. Really doing what it was supposed to be doing, but we don’t really have that many people using it. Uh do you have a balance to that is there a way to work through that methodically
Yeah. Um, we try, I don’t know. Yeah, it’s a challenge. I don’t know if we handle it.
Well, a couple things that we do differently that maybe some other companies are coming around to as well. Um, but definitely like we have one big bundle. Um, like one price for everything. And so we don’t have a marketplace. Like we have more, there are third party plugins, but they’re like outside, you know, we don’t have a marketplace where we sell the third already plugins, which is a good thing and a bad thing.
So like it’s bad in the sense that having a marketplace really does encourage developers to get involved because they’re going to get paid. And I remember back in the day of like, I made a Jigoshop plug. Uh, for Braintree integration. And I think it sold like one copy per month, but like it just the fact that there was a marketplace encouraged me to kind of like generalize it and push it out there.
Whereas I wouldn’t have done that otherwise. So it encourages involvement, but what happens then is it’s really hard to manage all these different people. You don’t really have control over the add-ons that are important. And we saw companies like EDD and WooCommerce did this too, where they bought up a bunch of the most popular ones to kind of bring them in house.
So we started with that. We were like, Hey, we kind of get it. Important to us and we, we bring it in house. Um, and we just try to like tell the developer community like, oh, we’re working on, of course this plugin, you probably shouldn’t or like, you know, if you want to help, this is what it looks like. It’s all open source.
Um, the other thing we do with that with integrations is I always try to make those plugins available for free and in the.org repository. So our rule of thumb is if it’s an integration with another service or. We’re not going to charge for, we’re going to make it free and.org. And that incentivizes like both us and the other party to kind of maintain the plugin, the integration plugin, because sometimes it’s awkward.
Like if they’re selling it for $50, but you know, you’re not. And so you’re like, wait, why am I helping to maintain like the thing you make money on? But I don’t, or like, It’s open source. So I could take your code or if I really feel like you’re not doing it well, I’m going to make my own version. And so that’s awkward when like, you know, who’s plugged into you buy ours or theirs, or it doesn’t encourage us to work together.
Whereas like upfront, you know, when I reached out to integration partners, I’m like, Hey, we’re going to make it free. We’re going to make in.org. And the business model is not to sell this integration. It’s, you know, the support, both our platforms. And in some ways that’s leaving money on the table because it’s a little bit opposite of how.
The market has been, you know, how things have been in the past or what they expect. And it feels kind of right where if you’re like, Hey, I don’t use MailChimp. I use convert kit. So I’ll just buy the convert kit one, you know, I don’t have, instead of like, I’ll pay $300 and I get all of them, but I only need one, one of the ad-ons.
So, um, I guess, I mean, if it’s free, it’s free, but like, so like people are kind of trained to pay. It’s it’s such a great value. If they’re like, Hey, for $50, I solve exactly the problem you have. Like that, like that business transaction is so much better than kind of like supporting the platform and all the crazy things you might do, you know?
So it’s, so we give up the opportunity to sell something like really direct to just say, but it it’s better for the unuser and that, you know, we may we’re the incentives are in alignment for everyone to maintain that integration. Yeah. And that’s the most important we feel like at the software level is good.
Like the business will work its way out.
So I’ll pull from the hint of Chris Lemon’s article and I’ll, I’ll have that linked up in the show notes. But what is your opinion on web hosts being in the perfect position to. Well, not only own the customer, but be able to own the experience. So if they own. A web hosting customer who maybe isn’t even using WordPress right now. No.
Oh, okay. I’ve got the static site. I’ve got this other thing that I’m using. Uh, and I’m going to launch a WordPress site. I can click a button launch, a WordPress site. And what I feel is like what Chris and many other folks are leaning into in the hosting space is we’ll have these ready, built. Websites for you. So in the case of membership sites,
Uh, you know, they’ll want to click of a button and you’ll have all your membership plugins ready to go. Ready to host. Uh, without all of the fuss of going too well, folks like you or searching the directory and knowing which pieces of the puzzle they have to put together as the end user. And, um, you know, controlling that experience for, you know, for the better of the customer, it’s less stress for the customer, less head-scratching. Uh, but it could eventually take money out of your pocket from some never having to search for paid memberships pro because they clicked a button. They got. Uh you know uh, another membership plugin powering their website so your thoughts on the hosting market creating these experience for customers
I think it makes sense, you know, this kind of, uh, you know, um, what do you, bigger businesses are buying up the smart businesses and consolidation that’s happening in the space.
Makes sense, because from, uh, from my perspective, um, There’s a couple of things. One is like, as our business grows, we kind of need more middle management. We need more kind of structure. Um, you know, I, I sometimes joke like, oh, the next, you know, four hires are like, you know, like a lawyer, an accountant and an HR person.
And it’s like, not really stuff that like, you see, like, Producing in the company. Um, and so like it’s for companies of our size, it’s like, oh, instead of doing that, you know, just, you know, sell yourself a bigger company and adopt, you know, their management team. So that’s enticing, like from a business perspective.
Um, but then also like hosting, like a hosted version of a product makes a lot of sense. Um, we capture all these customers and a lot of them already have a website or they’re transitioning, but some of them don’t and it’s like kind of weird to be like, okay, well, like go build a website and then come back to me.
Um, or like, we start to like help them earlier in the process. And we’re like, you know, Hey, we could take it’s really then tempting the business opportunity of like instead of $300 a year, take like a hundred dollars a month and give them like a standard hosting package. It makes our support a little bit easier in the sense that like we know exactly.
You know how they’re set up. We kind of cancel a lot of issues. Um, but then we have all these hosts, like hosts have fake. Whenever people say, just do that. I’m like, that’s actually really hard. Like, you know, I’d have to like, You know, help support people’s email and, uh, you know, cashing on their server and like when they want to do crazy things and if they get hacked and the security, and I was like, we’d have to figure all that out.
And the host I’ve already figured that out. So it makes sense to partner with them. So that’s like our perspective. And then I think on the host side, like hosting has become commoditized. So they need things to differentiate themselves from their competition and they need kind of products. People like both the products themselves, but also I think the personnel is important too.
Like we need people who can like think from a product perspective, um, to build solutions for the end-users. Like, I think. Some of the hosts. I mean, they had some really great people inside, but they need more of those people, you know, thinking in that, that way. And I’m in alignment with, with Lama that, you know, a lot of end-users don’t, they’re not buying hosting, they’re not buying WordPress or paid memberships pro they’re like, you know, build me a, uh, you know, a trade association website or build me, you know, like a website for my business guru business, or build me a newsletter subscription website.
And if we can connect with the customer at that experience, you know, It’s a, it’s a more direct sale. And part of that, like a huge part of that stack is the host and, you know, you know, they fill it with the product. So it all makes sense to me, I guess,
So just lots of competition coming at you everywhere you have other free. Plugins competing with you in the WordPress repo. Now you have potentially have web hosts coming with pre-packaged membership plugins. You have standalone membership. Software as a service solutions that are out there already.
Tons of competition. Have you ever just thought about like picking up your toys from this playground and going and building your own playground and doing the hosted route? Uh and going that maybe more traditional software as a service model with paid memberships pro
Yeah. Uh, so still now committed, like our goal is to be the default membership platform for WordPress sites. Um, like if you are going to do memberships on WordPress, like we should be in the consideration.
Like we should be one of the ones that you think about using. Um, and when, like I said, we’re not going to always be the perfect fit, but we’re good. And we’re, we’re pretty tied to WordPress. Like it is tempting, but like I said, to kind of, you know, build a hosted solution because. There’s like when you do the math in a spreadsheet, there’s kind of money there.
And then it’s kind of a simpler experience for the customers. Um, but to do that, well, we’d have to kind of joint venture with at least joint venture with a hosting company or someone who knows how to handle that. I think, um, which is like a little daunting. And like, whenever we really toy with those ideas, I feel like I’m taking my eye off the ball.
You know, it’s kind of like the, the core business we have. Is isn’t stable enough that, you know, to take all that attention away and try to like build basically competing business. Um, so we’re like really focused on WordPress and I feel like we’re like, has a spot, like definitely like the competition, you know, like Stripe itself as a competitor.
Like when we built Stripe integration, we were like probably the first membership plugins. Um, I almost said like e-commerce player. I don’t know. Like we really jumped on strike really early. Um, probably when they were like beta labeled, but we built tripe integration and like Stripe, just handle payments and subscriptions.
And like, if you wanted to cancel your subscription, we built a GUI for that. If you wanted to see your invoices, we had to gooey for that and we kind of managed everything, but now Stripe has like, um, it’s called like Stripe payments or billing. I forgot how they brand it, but it like, they have more of that UI on the stripes.
Um, and you can envision a plugin that kind of is way more bare bones than ours. Um, that just everything’s in Stripe. And like, so like a Stripe straight up Stripe, WordPress membership, plugin, um, could compete with us where people just use Stripe. They don’t even have to use a WordPress plugin, you know, they just put the button on their site.
Um, so there’s just, but anyway, yeah, there’s, there’s competition like that. And there’s other competition of like all-in-one solutions, but there’s always going to want to be a type of site, especially ones that are being built by agencies. That need more control and need more flexibility, want more ownership of their data and how things work.
One, to be able to scale up in a certain way and kind of. We’re going to just keep trying to target that user both like on the DIY side, you know, so it’s like a lot of stuff is easy to set up, you know, just out of the box and follow our instructions and our videos. Um, and then the beauty of WordPress is, is flexible and you can make it, do whatever you want.
So it’s like, ah, I got a really cool idea to integrate with this thing and I can get to the code it’s open source and we can have a developer do it. So we’re always going to be focused on that, that user and. We’re tempted and we build proof of concepts and we think about it all the time, but we’re kind of focused actually on like the WordPress experience for now.
Let’s shift gears just a little bit, instead of talking about only the challenges. Uh, assess where you are. With the success of your product. Through the lens of what you’ve done with marketing, messaging, content, social. What have you done really well there. And I’m also thinking of. I know what it’s like to operate a product, not even just with like my own stuff, but what we do at, at Casos is.
We’re always at that stage, like, man, what? Just one more, one more feature. If we just add this one more feature, we’d have X more sales or X more downloads or many more customers, and then you get that feature built in. You’re like, oh, One more feature. I just want to add. One more feature to this list.
When a lot of us should take a step back and say, look, I’ve got a solid product. I mean, you’ve been proving it now for eight plus years. Uh, maybe we should be focusing more on messaging, marketing, outreach, distribution, that kind of thing. So where are you with that? Uh mental tug of war as a owner and product create.
So, I guess like the pat myself on the back, we did do a great job of like content marketing, you know, Kim, myself, you know, Travis and other team members that helped, like, since 2013, we were just constantly blogging.
And the method works is like, when we get a question, like we’re like, oh, let’s answer that question and make a blog post where we answer it and put it out on the website. Um, and there was good tips in that area where like, you know, We would always try to generalize the questions, like solve a very specific problem, but yet don’t say like, you know, doing X, Y, Z with paid memberships pro it’s just doing XYZ.
Um, yeah, it kind of increases the range of people who like one of our best performance. Blog posts is like how to name your membership level. And so if you’re not using WordPress or paid members for anything, you just started trying to figure out, do I call them my tribe or my peeps? Or like, you know, like Kim did a bunch of research on like what the most common words are and kind of ways to brainstorm it.
Um, so that, I mean, that post gets like, I don’t know, like a few dozen, a hundred visits a day. And so it’s posted like that, that kind of drove traffic. And we, we played the long game with developers in terms of like, I remember talking with agencies and developers, like our solution is the best you should use it.
And they’re like, yeah, sure. And then like a year later at a, at a conference, like you’re still not using our plugin. And it’s like, oh yeah. I mean, to do that. And after a while, you’re like, we’ve kind of, we’ve kind of survived into our success, you know, but marketing could be better. Like we were focused on it.
We’re focused kind of on a lot of stuff, but marketing general, we just hired like, uh, Patrick Rolin to help out with marketing and we’re hitting, you know, we’re going off to a good start. I’m trying to figure out. And there’s lots of little things like. We, you know, we struggle with like who our audiences, because like we’re a platform and it’s like, who uses your website or your, your software?
And they’re like all kinds of people. And you’re like, you know, the marketers and the business people say like, well, just focus on one, you know? And it’s like, well, how do I do that while also keeping them, you know, a platform because WordPress did that. Well, automatic did that with WordPress and WooCommerce did that, but full commerce, like they, you know, I was like, we want to still keep a platform.
But there are things we could do. Cause I was sitting here just thinking about like, we really are like probably like the easiest way to just charge for access to a post page or category with WordPress and like our homepage we’ll get into the technical stuff and the, you know, the kind of important stuff.
And I was like, oh, there’s a customer that just wants to charge $5 for access to a page. And like our homepage doesn’t sell that really well to that customer. So we’re figuring it out, both like. How do we take our levels and make them products and know who to target audience of all those products are and kind of sell that better.
How do we, we also like there’s kinds of all this data collected and we’re going to do like, um, you know, tagging and kit or we’re, we’re switching to convert kit, but MailChimp has tags and other ones too, where it’s kind of like, Hey, if you read this blog post, if you kind of click this button on our site, if you read this email, okay, we can guess that, like, you don’t even have a WordPress site yet.
And we should just send you our affiliate link for liquid web, um, you know, or something like that. They were like, you know, oh, you’re, you’re importing from something else. So let’s kind of show you. Our tools for importing from our competition and stuff like that. Um, so kind of gathering more data so that we can send more specifically targeted messages, uh, is something that we’re working on and that that’ll probably help us get to the next level in terms of competing with the other membership.
How much do you look at the success of your customers? Uh, membership sites. And how does that weigh into the overall success of paid memberships pro. And again, I’ll preface this with a couple of things. So at Casos, one of the things I’m always challenged with was, well, if you don’t. If you never create a podcast and then you’ll never be successful with a podcast because you haven’t found the time to commit to the podcast. So I can’t help you be successful as a podcaster. If you can’t.
Manage, uh, the time commitment you, you need to put into creating at least one episode a month. I recently spoke to Dave Rodenbach, recaptured.io, sort of the same thing. If his customers aren’t selling. Uh, product through their e-commerce store, largely in his world. If you don’t have a good product or you don’t have a good price or a good experience, and you’re not going to buy in, how can we reclaim and help you reclaim sales? If you’re not selling any product?
How do you measure that in the marketing world of membership sites, digital products, digital access to content. Um, that seems even. Harder of a uh, of a challenge because of the just the wide breadth of that marketplace
Yeah. I mean, that is an issue. I know, um, you know, we get like churn stats and we share some of them and I forget exactly where it is, but it’s. W I think we retain like 60% of people who sign up pay this year, or six only 60% will pay next year.
And people will be like, oh, SAS industry standards or something is like higher. Um, and it’s like, so we’ve got to, we got to do better. There’s stuff we could do better, but I’m like, how many of those just are not in business anymore? Like, you know, like you can’t get that customer. Like they don’t, they’re not making money anymore.
They’re not, you know, no matter what you’re going to do, like, you know, their business failed. Um, so that’s definitely an issue. There’s a couple of things we could do is like one is like help them. So one thing that’s exciting is an update that’s coming out for paid memberships pro, which like almost every other e-commerce related WordPress plugin did is how we integrate with Stripe in particular called Stripe connect so that our Stripe account is kind of linked to theirs.
Um, so that when we get a percentage of the, you know, it’s like a half a percent or something of what comes through, um, we’re launching this and, um, so. That aligns you with your customers. So it’s like, oh, the more money they make, the more money we make. And it’s kind of exciting once it gets to scale is that, oh, we can just like put out a seminar for free that helps people do better and be more successful with their business because it’s going to benefit us in the end.
Um, so that’s exciting. The other thing we try to do is, um, potentially focus on customers where that’s less of an issue. Like I never got into the, what do they call it? Kind of like the entrepreneur or the kind of like hustle porn or, um, You know, like I’m not a fan of selling in that way where it’s like, I know you don’t have a business now, but you know, it’s really easy.
And like, you can have a business. I think if you, yeah. I mean, I like to joke about, so some of those, like here’s a car I bought my mom. Um, but yeah. So I think like not marketing to them is like a first step. And instead, like there’s, especially in the membership space, like there’s associations that like, yeah, we have 5,000 members.
We’ve had 5,000 members every year for the past 20 years. Like never changes and like, we’re just going online. So it’s kind of like, you can find those businesses that are already successful. Um, and I was just saying this to him. Another, like a presentation for like GoDaddy’s a webinars series that was targeted at agencies.
And I think for consulting, it’s important to like, I mean, if someone wants to give you money to build a website from scratch that may or may not work, like take their money, set their expectations and try to do a good job. But if you focus on customers that, you know, already have a business already have, um, you know, some kind of a relationship with a potential customer, like to have a mailing list or, you know, um, You know, so, so we will try to focus our marketing on those marketing, on those kinds of customers that already have a business that’s working, um, which should help that.
Like it’s when sometimes when I’m. Uh, when people are. Are are, are complaining and griping because something’s difficult about setting up a website, which I, I tell you, I relate to you by the way.
Cause it’s like, I do this for a living. I wrote a book on WordPress, but like I was helping a friend every once in a while. I don’t do it for paid, but I’ll help friends set up websites sometimes. And I’ll just be surprised at how hard it is for me. It’s hard for me. It takes a lot of time. But when people gripe about the effort that’s involved, I’m like, did you realize like you’re starting a business and it’s not easy.
Like, I don’t know where you got, like, just wait until you, you have your own angry customers or like. Other stuff, you know, you got to deal with taxes and all the random stuff and in part of business. ,
Speaking of business, not being easy recently talked about this on the WP minute podcast. Uh, WP engine did a report that the WordPress economy is like $600 billion. Uh, right around that, that mark. Lots of talk recently with acquisitions, um, you know, smaller developers picking up even smaller developer plugins, hosting companies like nexus purchasing every plug and that they can get their hands on. I’m sure this is not.
Done, uh, automatic acquiring, um, Day one journal, like so much acquisition happening. In this space. Have you ever thought that? Well, maybe we can build a bigger business with PMP. If we went that route, we were able to go. To nexus and joined them with a membership plugin or wp engine that kind of thing what are the cards hold for acquisitions or investments in that space
Uh, yeah, we have thought about like acquiring, um, other plugins products and, you know, it’s kind of sparing some of that potentially is that the programmers are in demand. Um, and so. It feels, uh, like I feel bad about it, but I see some products that are, yeah, I’ve actually, I see products that people are side projects that people are doing.
And I have a saying that like when they get to a thousand dollars a month, Sometimes it’s really tough. And they’re like, this isn’t enough. You know, I think I’m going to stop. And I’m always like, no, a thousand dollars a month. Like you’re halfway to $10,000 a month. Like you’re not halfway to $2,000 a month.
Like all that work you did to like collect any money whatsoever and build up to a thousand. Like usually if you have a product that’s going to fit like your, at the time, it took you to get to a thousand dollars a month. You’re going to get the $10,000. Um, so that’s me like pumping up other entrepreneurs and trying to push them at the same time.
I’m like, man, if it doesn’t work out that guy’s really sharp. And like, if he he’s, he’s, he’s kind of shown that he can think product minded and build something. And like, if he can’t make enough money to make a living, like, Hey, let me like give you a salary and kind of give you a job, you know, and you can build cool stuff for us.
So I, yeah, I’ve kind of had that thought, um, of like, oh, like, Product people, if it’s not working out their side gig, like when they look for, you know, a salary job, like, Hey, we get like a really smart developer that proves that they can ship. Um, and so I think there’s some of that mindset at every scale, you know, I’m sure like, you know, something, some of the size of automatic would just by people or by business for the people behind it, you know?
Um, and that’s part of liquid, but like I said, hosting companies want product people, um, and people who can handle that to kind of, you know, maintain things. Um, and then. If you ask me, like any business idea, like, have you considered, like, it’s almost funny, like, yeah. I consider everything, man. Like I love the staff.
I probably have a spreadsheet that models it. And like, I’m like, I’m always talking and like, um, you know, like I can’t wait to get back to like the conference circuit and like, you know, having drinks with Chris lemma late at night. Cooking up schemes of, you know, like, I feel like at one point I said, like, I was like, oh, can I just like sell my company to, and then work on machine learning.
I was like nerding out about machine learning. And he was like, I have an idea for a machine learning thing. And it was like, yeah. So like, have I talked to Chris Lama about like quitting my job and like doing machine learning stuff for him? Like that happened once. Um, yeah, but we haven’t really ever been serious about it.
I did take a month earlier in this year where I was like, Hey, I’m going to have kind of informal talks, you know, with different people that just see. What might happen. And I was like, I gave myself a deadline of a month and made that clear. Um, and at the end of the month where like, no, like the current plan of like, you know, hire really great people, kind of get them handover the responsibilities that Kim and I have so that we don’t have to spend as much time on kind of like maintaining what we have and we can push out a new directions.
Like I like being my own boss. I like having control and I think we still fit and we it’s good to have independent businesses in the WordPress space. Um, Yeah, but like, I mean, this space is valuable and all these companies are valuable. So it’s, it’s kind of exciting from that sentence.
I mean, you know, a market is really growing booming even is when you see. I saw recently a small product that was announced in January of this year. So 2021. Um, already being sold. I mean, it has a nice website, has a nice name, nice brand. You know, it looks good, but it probably has less than a hundred customers. If that may be, I don’t know, unless it’s really doing much better than I thought it would be.
Already for sale. And like in the back of my mind, I already know that somebody’s going to buy that. Uh, there was, uh, on startups or the rest of us. Uh, Rob walling. Had I think he tweeted something or somebody sent him an email. I forget where it was, but somebody who was doing like 80,000 ARR in their business sold for one point something million.
And it’s almost like if you’re a product maker, developer, this is almost like your way in. You know, to get acquired. So it’s like, it’s almost like the absolute best sort of resume. So if you can build like a micro product, get some traction and then turn to a business that you would actually like to work for. And there is some synergy between your little product and their big product. You could even sell that to them.
As like a signing bonus, almost like here, I’ve already proven this. And I’ve got a customer base that comes with me and I can develop it for you. Uh it’s an interesting world for the small product creator uh at the end of the
Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, it’s analogous to like how not, you know, Programmers and people who can build products on demand, like people who can, you know, build engaging podcasts are in demand. And there’s like a big gap between like building it and then making money for it and, you know, running a business.
I mean, I’m spoiled that, like I have Kim as a partner who is like COO of the company and like get stuff done and can handle, you know, a lot of the, the business end and the accounting and stuff like that. And like, we get help for a bunch of individual things, but it’s like, if I was like, just me by myself as like, I’m, I’m a pretty creative person.
I can like build stuff and think strategically and stuff, but like actually like keeping the business running and not falling apart, I would have been lost like years ago without someone like him. So. Um, it’s hard. Yeah. To make that leap from building something cool that people can use to like making enough money on it, to make it your data.
But it’s still really hard to make a compelling podcast. So I’m with you like people and there’s demand like, you know yeah. Instead of finding something and hoping they can build a podcast, you know, the resumes they’ve already, you know, shipped a podcast.
Jason Coleman everybody. Jason, where can folks find you to say thanks.
Yeah. So I’m on Twitter, Jason underscore Coleman. Um, and my blog is the real Jason coleman.com. And yeah, we got a courses out on that’s shipping in a week or two, and we have a big, like a 2.6 update, the paid memberships pro, which is wrapping up some, some features and, um, uh, it’s got better Stripe integration, you know, that’s going to be good there.
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