Joining me today is a Mixergy Premium Member who built a business based with what he learned from Mixergy interviews.
Troy Dean is a WordPress consultant who founded WP Elevation, a program that helps WordPress consultants build the businesses they need to support their lifestyles.
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About Troy Dean
Troy Dean is a co-founder of WP Elevation which is a program that helps WordPress consultants build the business they need to support their lifestyle.
Andrew: Hey there, Freedom Fighters, my name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. I’m smiling because we have to do a take-two, I never do a take-two, but the first version of this interview didn’t work out right.
And this interview, which I’m so proud to do again, is with the founder, who is a Mixergy premium member who built a business larger with what he learned from Mixergy interviewers and courses. Troy Dean is a WordPress consultant who founded WPElevation, a program that helps WordPress consultants build the businesses they need to support their lifestyles.
This interview is sponsored by Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. Later on, I’ll tell you why if you’re an entrepreneur who needs a lawyer, you should check out walkercorporatelaw.com. But I’ve got to jump into this interview with Troy. Troy, thanks for doing it!
Troy: Thank you very much for having me, Andrew, it’s a pleasure and an honor to be here.
Andrew: I’m doing this interview because I want the audience to see what’s possible with Mixergy Premium, and frankly with the interviews. If you learn them, what can you do from them? And partially because you’re running a membership site, and I’m fascinated by membership sites, and I’m proud that Mixergy is a membership site. I want to know how you did it. Do you remember the first sale that you got from your membership site?
Troy: Yeah I do, I remember it like it was yesterday. I decided to open the doors for like four days as an initial intake just to see if I could- just to see if what I was communicating was resonating with anyone. And I thought if no one buys after four days I can just close the doors and pretend it never happened and I won’t tell anyone and it’s not embarrassing, right?
So I send the e-mail out, I had the [Check-Addle] plugged in and I tested it and it’s all working, and I send the e-mail out. And of course I’m sitting there after 30 seconds waiting for someone to buy, and of course that’s ridiculous, nobody buys in 30 seconds. So I thought I’m just going to take the dog for a walk around the walk and just get out of the building and clear my head, I’m too attached for this.
I got home just in time to see the first e-mail come through. And it was Nicole, a girl here in Sydney, who I’ve kind of known. She’s been on my radar, we’ve kind of been emailing, and she was the first member. And I just remember, I was punching the sky. I don’t know if you know what the chainsaw is, but the chainsaw is this kind of move. It’s like, yes! Yes! Yes!
Andrew: Oh, yes! [Laughs]
Troy: That’s the chainsaw, right? Sports people do the chainsaw a lot. It’s like stabbing a chainsaw. Anyway, so I was dancing around the room doing that, so I thought if somebody, one person believes that we have something valuable here, than chances are more people are going to believe we have something valuable and this is going to work.
So it was a huge moment. It was a big success.
Andrew: And before that you were a WordPress consultant, what kind of consulting did you do?
Troy: So yeah, I’m still a WordPress consultant, so I consult with clients who need to use the web in some way to achieve their business objectives, whether it’s to make more sales, or if it’s to build a database or launch their own membership site, WordPress is my chosen weapon of choice if you like. So I used to be a developer, I used to be a WordPress coder. I used to write HTML, CSS, [P-Edge Panel], and that fun stuff. Then I kind of worked out that what I’m best at is solving problems. Looking a business, working out what they need, and then bringing in all of the parts to deliver a solution.
So now we have a team of designers and developers, a network of Freelancers who work with us, and my job is to work with the client, work out what problem they’re trying to solve, and then design a solution for them.
Andrew: Since that first sale, you’ve grown a lot, which is why I invited you here to do this interview. The interesting thing to me though is that you are a developer, you know WordPress really well, and still when it came time for you to say, “You know, I don’t want to sell my time, I want to sell my ideas,” you didn’t build a WordPress site that you custom coded, that you built from scratch, you used a landing page, Saas software, what’s the software they used?
Troy: I used Unbounce.
Andrew: Unbounce. Why did you use Unbounce as opposed to creating a fully functioning WordPress site. Unbounce, all they do is they let you create a quick landing page.
Troy: Yeah. Well, because, here’s the thing. So I’ve been reading a little bit of a lean startup methodology, and I worked this master class in the Mixergy program-
Andrew: [Hash] Mira. I love that guy. He doesn’t get nearly enough attention, I think, in the lean startup community as one of the teachers of the process who you can count on. So yeah, he came on to Mixergy to teach the Lean Startup Approach. Okay, so-
Troy: Yeah, so I did that course, and I emailed my business partner, we bought his book, ['Running Lane'], the e-version, and then we [build the whole box and darts]. We bought his online boot camp, we got on Skype, we had a chat with Ash. I was a huge fan with how–you know I’m a big fan of action. I’m a big fan of taking action. But here’s the thing about taking action. And don’t worry, I’ll come back to [where we were] in a minute.
But the reason people take action, I think, is that they’re not sure exactly what they’re supposed to do next, and they get scared, and they get a little bit nervous and then [back] themselves. So what Ash is really good at is saying, ‘well here’s the theory and methodology, and here’s what to do next.’ So he builds this structure around you that gives you the confidence to take the next step.
And that’s something that I’m really passionate about teaching. I’m always passionate about teaching my people and my audience the same kind of practical-
Andrew: The frame work and what to do next.
Troy: Correct, because if you know what to do next, you can put- it’s like rock climbing. If you know exactly what’s happening when you put your foot on that rock than you’ve got the confidence to take the next step, but if you’re not sure what’s there, then you don’t have the confidence.
Andrew: So what did he tell you to do next?
Troy: So Ash basically, he talked us through the rapid feedback look. What is the quickest way that you can prove your hypothesis? And my hypothesis was that we had a bunch of people in our database who are not buying our software. We have a WordPress plug-in. And we had a whole bunch of people in our database who weren’t buying the software.
And I’m okay with that, but I wanted to know why they weren’t buying the software, and I had an idea, and my theory was: they needed to grow their business to a certain point where they can justify spending money on things like spending money on things like Mixergy Premium Memberships and Premium Plugins, right? So I emailed them and they said, “Yup. We need more clients.”
So my theory was that these guys, we have enough trust with their database that they will pay us for business education. That was my theory. So I thought what is the quickest way we can prove that theory? Now Unbounce is so good at producing landing pages so quickly, that literally within an hour and a half, I threw up a landing page on the Unbounce, I plugged it into a [Vint-Bite], to sell tickets, and then I used [Zap-Here] to connect people to a webinar and go to a webinar. It was the quickest way I could do it without digging into code and without getting one of our developers to help me.
Andrew: So Unbounce does the design, Zap-Here takes the data out of Unbounce and throws it into a ton of different places including even Google Docs frankly if you want to use a spreadsheet. But you decided it’s going to go into Go To Webinar, and automatically they’re enrolled in the webinar and automatically they’re enrolled in the webinar and then Go To Webinar then starts to follow up with them and say, “Hey, remember tomorrow you have webinar. Hey, remember in an hour, I see.” So basic off the shelf software is what you use to put this whole thing together.
How did you get this audience of people who were going to listen to your pitch for this webinar?
Troy: So, over the last four years, we’ve been selling this WordPress Plugin, Video User Manuals, and we’ve been doing content marketing really, for the last five years, really, giving away- so we make some free plugins that we give away in the WordPress plugin repository, and some of our plugins there have been downloaded three million times. So we’ve been just giving away free software that-
Andrew: The WordPress plugin, though, if you put it in the WordPress repository, how do you get an e-mail address for the person who’s using it, or for that matter, even know that someone’s using it. They don’t give you that data.
Troy: No, but what we do is we put a little opt-in ad in the back of our plug-in, where we say, “Hey, we offer a free E-Book to WordPress developers, and it’s called, “Build a Better WordPress for Clients”, and it’s all about when you build WordPress for a client, how do you hand it over to the client, how do you manage that onboarding process with the client? Because if you’ve never seen WordPress before, there’s a bit of a learning curve, and that’s what we specialize in. Our whole business is helping developers on board their clients to using WordPress.
Andrew: Gotcha. So where most WordPress developers might create plugins and contribute it to the community and be on WordPress compository, you said , “Yes, that’s good, but it’s not good enough. I need a connection with the people who are using it, specifically with the consultants who are using it, and so I’m going to offer them something in exchange for their e-mail address. You offer them an e-book, you got their e-mail address, that’s how you built your list. How big was your list?
Troy: At that point we had about 9000 people on our list. Not huge, but we’ve been building this organically over the last four years, working on this business very, very part time. Like we would spend maybe two or three hours a week on this business, and most of the time me and my business partner were doing our own private consulting work, building sites for clients.
Andrew: Troy, let me learn something from you that would apply to someone who’s not a developer who has a plug-in that’s downloaded tons of times. What else did you use that allowed you to grow this mailing list to the point where you can reach out to them and say, “I’m offering this webinar, do you want to be a part of it?”
Troy: I spoke at word camps. I made a conscious effort to get out of the building and go and speak at events, and speak at word camps. And one of the things, and I wrote a log post about this recently on Talk Mag; one of the problems I think WordPress developers have, when they start speaking, when they start blogging, when they start doing kind of content marketing, is that we’re very passionate about what we know technically.
So, we’re very passionate about how you can use Genesis to do XYZ. And that’s fine, but the problem is, most WordPress developers, and I’m one of them, so I mean this with the upmost respect, most WordPress developers, when they start blogging and speaking at events, they all start sounding and looking the same, because they’re all saying the same thing. They’re all saying about how this plugin can do this. If I see one more presentation about how BuddyPress is good for building a social networking site, I’m going to throw myself out the window.
Troy: That presentation has been done a thousand times. What I think’s more interesting, is how does your understanding of the technology help people grow their business or solve their problems? And that’s the conversation that a lot of WordPress developers aren’t having, because they’re more comfortable talking about the technical stuff.
Andrew: But Troy, if you’re speaking on stage, how do you get the people from the stage, to give you their e-mail address . . .
Andrew: . . . so that you get them on the mailing list?
Troy: So, we do a presentation, and then, at the end of every presentation, we have our very last slide, it’s a Bitly short link, which leads people to a landing page, where they opt-in for the free eBook, that accompanies the presentation. So . . .
Andrew: I see.
Troy: . . . every . . .
Andrew: It all goes back to the eBook. There are multiple ways where you say, “If you give me your e-mail address, I will give you this eBook.”
Troy: Yeah, and the thing is, that the eBook . . . so, here’s the thing. First of all, the eBooks are really good. They’re 30 page eBooks that deep dive, go into detail about . . . and it’s free . . .
Andrew: What’s a URL? Where I could see this eBook?
Troy: That’s a really good question. So, just go to videousermenus.com, which is our plugin business, and you’ll see, on the sidebar, there are three eBooks, actually, that we give away, and they’re really good. You sign up, and you get all three, over a period of a week.
Troy: And then, we e-mail you, and say, “Hey, give us some feedback on the eBooks.” And we have this Testimonials Page, where people e-mail us all the time, and tell us how the information in the eBook has transformed their business.
Andrew: I see it, okay. All right. So, giving away the eBook allows you to grow your mailing list. That is a tactic that you took. You now have this list of people, and you said, “Instead of creating a new WordPress site, instead of creating a membership site, instead of getting carried away, I’m going to go with something that’s almost laughably simple.”
Andrew: Eventbrite, any grandmother can do Eventbrite . . .
Andrew: . . . don’t meant to put down grandmothers. Unbounce, my grandmother can use Unbounce . . .
Andrew: . . . and she’s dead!
Andrew: And Zapier, which most people need to know about, and if they do, they can use it, terrific. Everything is good. How much did you sell the tickets for?
Troy: So, we started selling early bird tickets at $97.
Troy: So, we valued the webinar at $197. We sold 50 early birds at $97, and then we released Round Two tickets at $127, and then, the Final Round at $197. And we sold a handful at $197.
Andrew: Don’t you feel embarrassed selling tickets to a webinar, when you’re a developer who sells code, who sells software?
Troy: No, it’s a really good question, and no, I don’t, because I knew there was a hunger for it. I’ve been to WordCamps, and every time I . . . usually, what happens is, Sunday night, end of the WordCamp, there’d be a bunch of us, wherever I’d go, Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne, there’d be a bunch of us sitting around, having dinner, having some drinks, talking about how it would be great if there were more business talks at WordCamps. So, I knew there was a hunger for this kind of information.
Troy: I knew that freelancers wanted to learn how to grow their business, and I knew that I’d done it. I’d grown a freelance business. I’d grown an agency. We’d done some high profile gigs. I knew that I could teach them this, and I’m really comfortable being in front of people, and talking and teaching. So, I would’ve been embarrassed if three people had bought a ticket to that webinar. That would’ve been embarrassing. But . . .
Andrew: The cool thing . . . but, I see. So, you weren’t embarrassed saying, “I’m charging for this webinar.” What would’ve been embarrassing is if you hadn’t gotten enough people to come in, and buy it. The cool thing about using a software, like GoToWebinar, is no one has to know how many people are in the room. You could [laughs] just . . .
Andrew: . . . be doing it, on your own, to one other person.
Andrew: And that person will think that she is in a room full of people.
Andrew: Right? Because you can hide the number of people who are in the room. They don’t have to see it.
Troy: And so, just on that, the first webinar I ran, which was, like, 18 months ago, this was when I was practicing doing webinars, and I had no idea what I was doing, the first webinar I ran, was to my brother and my fiance. And it was a practice webinar, and it was horrible, and the audio was dropping out, but I did that to get feedback from them. And gradually, I got better, and better, and better, until I said, “You know what? I’m going to invite some people onto this webinar, who I don’t know, and I’m going to expose myself, and see if I can do this.” So, I had practiced webinars, in the past, to get my confidence up.
But the other thing about charging for webinars, just to loop back on that point, the thing is, what I’ve learned about running free webinars, if you get 100 people registering for a free webinar, you’re going to get about 30 or 40 people actually turn up. If you get 100 people pay for a webinar, you’re going to get about 85 turn up, and they’re going to pay attention, because they want a return on their investment.
Andrew: So, how did you get so many people to pay, so that they would turn up?
Troy: So, we did a limited time, it’s classic marketing stuff, scarcity. So, there were early bird tickets available, there were only 50 available. And I didn’t think we were going to sell 50, but we sold them in 24 hours. Then we released Round Two tickets, and they were, you know, 30 of those, and then they sold. And then we released the final round of tickets, and after 48 hours it was all closed, all the tickets were sold. I sent three emails over a 48 hour period to let people know what was happening.
You know, there was a lot of thought that went into the email, there was a lot of thought that went into the landing page, and it was all about the benefits of what they were going to learn. The message was, you know, get better clients, better projects and better fees. The headline was, “Attentions WordPress Developers: Get Better Clients, Better Projects and Better Fees.” Then there was a video that I made and, you know. . .
Andrew: How did you know that’s what they wanted and that that’s what they wanted, better clients was important to them?
Troy: Because, because they told me at word camps and on email conversations, people would say to me, “You know, the problem is I don’t need more clients, the problem is all the clients I’ve got, only want to spend $500 on a website, and it takes me. . . And you know, I’m really conscientious about what I do, and I’m really passionate about my work, so it takes me three weeks to do a $500 website and I’m not making any profit. And then what happens is that just leads to more $500 websites. What I need is I need to start building $5000 websites so I can make a profit.”
Andrew: Okay. That’s what they were telling you, and that’s what you said back to them in your sales page.
Andrew: Okay. How much money did you make from that few days’ sale?
Troy: 11. We did $11,500 in webinar ticket sales on that first webinar.
Andrew: How do you know what time to do your first webinar? You know, one of the issues I have is, I have a really good community in Australia that are fans of Mixergy. I always want to go out of my way to take care of them. That means, though, that I end up making it harder for people in the U.S. sometimes, making it harder for people in Europe sometimes, and it’s very tough. How do you know what time to pick for something that people are paying for?
Troy: That’s a great question. So, I’d been a member of a couple of other membership sites, and I’d seen how those guys were doing it, and I was kind of wondering why their webinars were always at 7:00 in the morning in Melbourne. And it turns out that 7:00 in the morning in Melbourne is, you know, middle of the afternoon, or late afternoon in the States, and kind of 10:00 or 11:00 at night in U.K., so that’s the time. Our webinars are run at 7:00 on a Wednesday morning every two weeks.
Andrew: 7:00 Wednesday morning, Melbourne time. I’d have to do some math later on to see what that time is.
Andrew: Okay. So you basically saw what was working for other people and you did it. You know, the interesting thing to me is I wouldn’t start by selling a webinar. I would start by creating a membership site and try to keep that basic and simple, and I’m learning that, no, selling the webinar is the way to go. You won’t get as many people, but at least you’ve got your MVP out there and you see if people are willing to pay. But what kind of impact can you have in a one hour, or even if you go overboard and do two hour webinar, what kind of impact can you get? Can you really deliver something?
Troy: So, you know, the. . . Yeah, it turn out you can.
Troy: Because here’s the thing, I hadn’t built the webinar. So we sold these tickets and then I rang my business partner and I said, “Well, looks like I’ve got to go make a webinar.” And he said, “What are you going to put in it?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know yet, but, you know, I’ll figure it out.” So I built the webinar, and the thing was, what I learned a while ago as an educator. . . I used to lecture e-business at a college here, and I’ve done a little bit of teaching over the years. I’m not a qualified teacher, but I’ve done a lot of education stuff.
What I’ve learned about education is that you basically teach a theory and then give them a template. If you teach them how to write great subject lines for an email to increase your open rate, then what you want to do is you want to give them three or four blueprints or templates or examples. Yeah?
Troy: So I can look at the theory, see your template, then they just fill in the blanks.
Troy: So that’s what I did on the webinar. We taught six kind of overarching theories about their business, and then we gave them all the templates and, you know, blueprints and downloads that they needed to actually just go and start implementing that stuff.
Andrew: I see. Dave Maxwell did that in one of the first Mixergy courses. I know that you were influenced by that. He did. Now that you mention it, he gave a theory about the headline. I don’t remember the theory about it, but then he gave a template, which I do remember. It’s how to get something that they really want without something that they’re worried will happen.
So how to get more clients without spending more time at boring networking events, you know, that kind of thing, or how to get more, even if you’re not a good salesman, even if, whatever they worry. That’s what you’re talking about. Give them a big idea and a small framework and templates.
Troy: Yep. I use that all the time. So [Dean's] cost was fantastic because doesn’t [??]. So the theory is that you need to tell people the benefit that they’re going receive by investing the time or the money that you’re asking them to invest, and you also need to show them the headache or the problem that you’re going to solve for them. So that’s the theory, and then the blueprint is how to get biggest benefit without biggest headache. That’s the blueprint, and you just swap out what’s in curly brackets, put in your benefit, your headache, and away you go.
Andrew: Okay, a quick plug and then I want to know what you did next. The plug is for Scott- I should never say quick anything, I know when I listen to a podcast and they say, “Just a quick,” I know what they’re doing is excusing it if something bad is coming up, because nobody ever says, “Just a quick…”, and follow it up with something great. “Just a quick…”, so no more with that, instead I’m just going to say, Walkercorpoatelaw.com if you need a lawyer. How many times do I talk to entrepreneurs in private who will not talk to me on camera about the trouble that they have with their partners.
I’ve had one guy, he’s been pushing me to do it, but also hesitating. He and his partner had a big issue, a big falling out. They want to teach the Mixergy community, they’re a funded company, and they’re worried about embarrassing themselves, they’re worried about embarrassing their investors, but what they’re telling me in private is that they have these issues, the only thing that helped with was that they had a good agreement. Sometimes friendship only goes so far. A good agreement will allow you to know what happens when the friendship starts to fall apart so it doesn’t really go completely into civil war.
Anyway, in order to protect yourself from that and so many other things as an entrepreneurs are going to face as you build your business, you need a lawyer who’s walked through the minefield, who knows what’s blown other people up, so they can protect you.
There’s a couple of lawyers who can do that, frankly, I’ll be honest with you, you know that. The big lawyers here in San Francisco will charge you an arm and a leg, and they’re people that have so much funding that they couldn’t give a rip about what happens to their investors funding.
Or you get an amateur guy, someone who’s just trying to make a name for himself who’s hoping that by giving you a little bit of advice, maybe you’ll go somewhere and then he can use you as a testimonial or maybe a referral, and that’s basically a person who doesn’t know what to do and that’s why he’s charging so little. Neither of those are right if you’re an entrepreneur and cares about the bottom line.
If that’s who you are, what you want is someone who has experience and is not going to charge you an arm and a leg because he has a smaller firm that doesn’t have the high overhead, and that man is Scott Edward Walker. His website is Walkercorporatelaw.com. I’m not going to even tell you, I’m not going to grab you by the lapels and tell you to go big up.
I’m going to tell you: make him part of your consideration process. Go to Walker Corporate Law, schedule an appointment, and talk to him. If you’re considering multiple lawyers, or you know somebody who is, make him one of the people you can consider and I am confident that if you do that, you will at least become a good friend of his if not one of his clients. Walkercorporatelaw.com.
All right, just a quick conversation about what’s next for you. So, this thing works out. The few thousand dollars you made from this make you feel great, make you feel validated, but Ash is not here to make you a few thousand bucks. You went in because you wanted to build a business of it, so what’s the next step that you took to make this thing into a real business?
Troy: So first of all, I just want to thank Scott Edward Walker, because if he wasn’t sponsoring you, we wouldn’t get all of this great content. And you know what happens is? I listen to hundreds of times, Andrew, every time you go through this sponsorship for Scott, the guest just pretends it doesn’t happen, and I just want to acknowledge, thank you Scott, because your sponsorship makes all of this stuff possible and we benefit from it, and it’s real, you are actually making an impact, so I just want to put that on the record.
Andrew: Thanks, I appreciate that. Thank you, Scott!
Troy: So what happened is we had 84 people attend this webinar, and it was a blast. It went for two hours, the feedback was amazing, I had people emailing me afterwards. I had one refund, by the way. I offered a full refund. We had one refund, and that was because a guy and his boss bought a ticket and they both attended the webinar without knowing, so they kind of went, “Well, you know, we both bought a ticket,” so I gave them their money back on one of the tickets.
So then I surveyed everyone. I sent a Wufoo Survey out to everyone and said, “Hey, that was fun, do you want to do it again? Or do you want to do a series of webinars? Or do you want a mastermind group? Do you want to get on a Google Hangout once a week? Do you want a membership site? Do you want a forum? Do you want to go to Thailand and hang out for a week and have a Master Class? What do you want to do next? It seems like there’s an idea worth pursuing here, you guys tell me what you want and I’ll build it.”
I sent that e-mail to 84 people who were on the webinar, and 55 of them filled out this survey and sent it back, which blew me away.
Andrew: I wouldn’t have expected it. I went through and I’m done.
Troy: Right, exactly. And I thought maybe 10 people would fill in the survey. 55 people filled in the survey. And they all said- and it’s interesting, that 55 filled in the survey, I’m doing the math now – they all said, “We want a business coaching program.” We basically want- they didn’t say a membership site, they said, “We want a member’s forum, we want webinars, we want coaching calls, we want video training, we want blueprints. We want you to show us how to build our business.”
Andrew: I’m not used to customers saying specifically what they want. I’m used to them saying the problems they have. Not specifically saying I want a member’s forum. Why do they say that?
Troy: I think the thing about the WordPress community is it’s a very tight community. WordPress is open source software and the thing that blows you away about WordPress when you start building a website somewhere on WordPress is the amount of free plugins that you can get your hands on that are contributed to by thousands of developers all over the world.
How helpful people are in helping you out, right? That community spirit kind of, and it’s funny, you get all word camp and I’ve never seen people be so open and so honest about how they’re running their business and they’re helping newcomers out.
You go to a conference, an accountant’s conference, and everyone’s walking around telling you how much their hourly rate is, and the whole thing is a bit of a pissing contest. Everyone’s closed shop and they’re not actually exposing how they’re running their business and everyone’s full of it. With all due respects to accountants.
WordPress have this real openness in the community so they said we want to meet other WordPress consultants who are having the same problems. We want to talk to each other. We want to share ideas. We want training. They were really big on the fact that they wanted a community.
I basically put that in a spreadsheet and looked at everything that I wanted, and thought well this is a membership site with a community forum and webinars and coaching calls and calendar of events and training videos. So I planned it all out and spent two weeks, I went away for two weeks, and made all the sales videos, made all the welcome videos. Went through the whole process.
Andrew: Did you pay someone to do that?
Troy: No, I did it myself.
Andrew: You just did it yourself?
Troy: I did it myself.
Andrew: With a camera, and maybe a friend working it.
Troy: I did it with an iPhone on a tripod and a little Glif attachment that holds the iPhone…
Andrew: Yes it attaches to the tri-pod.
Troy: …to the tri-pod. Some lights that we had kicking around the place. I went to a friend’s farm. There was no one operating the camera. I was doing it myself. My fiancee was at the farm studying for a thesis and I was outside shooting all those videos with my own microphone. No one else there, just me doing it by myself.
Andrew: By the way, you have a really good set up. Do you have an iPhone in your pocket right now?
Andrew: No. Is it around? Let’s try an experiment. I’m going to get mine out.
Troy: It’s here. It’s right here.
Andrew: Okay. Let’s do the camera…
Andrew: …facing forward.
Andrew: Let’s see if it works. I’ll try it here for myself first. All right. No, this is the back. Okay. Hang on. All right. I want to see if we can just show-, oh that is not a good-, do you have my lights? Can you kind of see…
Troy: Oh yeah, okay. Gotcha.
Andrew: There is another light. All I have is those LCD lights. There’s my clothing behind.
Troy: Oh I see what you’re doing.
Andrew: My two computers here.
Andrew: One is spying. This is the one that I’m using for the interview. If you get a little closer. Let’s see if that works.
Andrew: Ok. Oh, all right! Those are some pretty heavy-duty lights. Right? Aren’t those…
Andrew: Those are the hot lights and you have one big one facing you.
Troy: Yeah, I’ve got one big one facing me here and I’ve got one above me here.
Andrew: Why the one above you?
Troy: It gives me some definition here…
Troy: …around here. So I’m not in shadow.
Andrew: Oh, I see. As opposed to many people have it below them; you just put it above you.
Troy: There’s a link on my website, on the WPElevation website, called “How We Produce an Episode of the Podcast”, and it actually shows my set up. I’ve also got a sit down stand up desk. I’ve got an electric desk that goes up and down.
Troy: I’ve got the road plug cast sign, by the way….
Andrew: How tall are you?
Andrew: How tall are you?
Troy: Five eleven and a half.
Andrew: Five eleven and a half. Yeah you look tall and I think also standing up here makes you look taller as opposed to sitting down.
Troy: Yeah [laughs]. It’s completely off topic, but I’m loving this.
Andrew: I know it is off topic, isn’t it? But I’m curious about it. The photo you have on twitter, for example, is the one you’re wearing the WooThemes t-shirt in, right?
Andrew: You don’t look as tall there and then every time I talk to you on camera you just look really tall.
Troy: That’s because I’m standing up, yeah.
Andrew: Hey, by the way, how did you know what topic you were going to create your original webinar about?
Troy: People were telling me the problem is I’m not charging enough. I had this conversation all the time. I had these emails every day. WordPress consultants pinging me on Skype all the time saying, hey man, I know I’m not charging enough. I’m really good at WordPress and I’m not charging enough. I’ve got too many clients not paying me enough. The projects their doing are doomed for failure because I’ve got no strategy and they haven’t though about what they’re going to do once I build the website.
I want to start working…
Andrew: But they talk to you about all kinds of problems. They say I’m not charging enough, I don’t like my clients. They could also say, I’m wasting too much time, I eat too much in the middle of the day because I work from home.
There are all these different problems that they have that you could have addressed. It seems to me that you pick the topic that is directly related to their wallets. Is that intentional?
Troy: Here’s the thing about money, right? Money doesn’t solve everything but it’s solves a hell of a lot of problems.
Andrew: And people are more willing to pay for courses and webinars and memberships sites et cetera, if the topic is more directly related to money.
Troy: The original tagline for WPElevation was, “Helping WordPress Consultants Build an Exceptional Business”.
I kind of realized that, that actually wasn’t what got me out of bed every day. What gets me out of bed every day, we have quite a few stay at home parents in our membership. Mums and dads who work from home three days a week doing some WordPress consulting and spend the rest of the time with the kids, yeah?
Troy: What gets me out of bed is when I get emails from them telling me hey I’ve just doubled my rate and got no pushback. I’ve just earned twice as much as I’ve ever earned on a website, which means I can do half the amount of projects a year make the same money and spend more time with my kids and have a better lifestyle.
Troy: That’s what gets me out of bed. Now, money affords you the lifestyle that you choose. I’m actually not interested in helping WordPress consultants make more money. I’m actually helping them, I’m interested in helping them have the lifestyle that they want…
Andrew: I see, that even why even I in my intro because of my researcher, I read the intro that my researcher helped put together. In it we describe WP Elevation as a program that helps WordPress consultants build the businesses they need to support their lifestyles.
Troy: That’s it.
Andrew: I see. It was where your passion was. Is there anything that, any truth to what I’m saying? Any validity to what I’m saying that if you deal more directly with people’s revenue they’re more likely to spend money and increase your revenue?
Troy: Sure. If you can show, if you can get someone results, look the lowest hanging fruit is if you can show people how to make more money then, and I know it sounds crass, but if you can show people how to put their fees up or how to make more money, then they’re more likely to pay for that information.
The problem is…
Troy: …you kind of end up in this, in this niche, where you become this person that can teach you how to make more money. That’s not what I’m interested in.
Andrew: No. It’s also, it can become a disgusting world…
Andrew: …to get there. I’m looking at your site and nothing here even says ‘more money’. I’m looking at, the top headline that says, “Become an Exceptional WordPress Consultant. What You Get: The Blueprint Training, Community Support.”
I don’t see yet reference to increasing people’s revenue. I see, okay, so maybe you get, you don’t get too close or else you get a little disgusting by that…
Andrew: …get rich quick type WordPress community.
Troy: Yeah and it’s implied. I mean we’ve got video testimonials on our website where members emailed me and said I just doubled my rate and I’m like, great can I get you on Skype and shoot a little video? They will tell me I just got a deposit check which is double more than I normally get for an entire project and I’m a stay at home mum.
So I let the members sell that message and communicate that message. I don’t want to be the one saying, “I can help you make more money.” It’s actually more than that. We help our members build remote teams. We help them scale up. We help them optimize their processes. It’s not just about putting your rates up. It’s about the whole business and where you want to be in that business. If you’re just a developer, if you want to grow a team, what kind of business do you want? What kind of lifestyle do you want?
Andrew: Okay. You then decide I’m not going to use duct tape and spit to connect everything together, I’m actually going to build a WordPress site. As I noticed earlier, the theme is an off the shelf theme, right?
Andrew: The theme is, what is it called? Forest.
Andrew: The membership software that you use is what?
Andrew: Wishlist, and for payments are you using Stripe? Let me see if I can tell.
Troy: No, we’re using 2Checkout. We live in Australia. We don’t have Stripe yet, Andrew.
Andrew: Ah, that stinks, man.
Troy: I know, we don’t have fast Internet or running water either, it’s coming.
Andrew: I’m actually really upset every time I see that the U.S. companies and I know that the Stripe isn’t doing it intentionally but, I’m upset when I see that U.S. companies have to treat international businesses and customers as third class citizens of the world and you don’t get Stripe and you don’t get. All right. So why did you pick…
Troy: Stripe’s in beta here. It’s almost here but there’s a whole bunch of legal stuff about accepting multi-currency payments in Australia that is a bit of a nightmare. So we use 2Checkout as our payment processor.
Andrew: Why 2Checkout?
Troy: Because 2Checkout will accept U.S. dollars from you, so you can pay in U.S. dollars. They will put that money into our Australian bank account as Australian dollars. We take a bit of a hit on the accounting conversion but they don’t charge us enormous fees to do that.
Andrew: I see. Okay. All right and that just plugs into Wishlist member. Any other software you use to run it?
Troy: Just a bunch of plug-ins in the back end and some, a whole bunch of custom plug-ins that were written in the membership stuff.
Andrew: What did you have to custom create?
Troy: Our customers need invoices. In Australia they need a tax invoice which shows the GST, which is like the VAT, right? So we needed to build something in the back end where they could log in as a member and I can print out the running voices in the back end. Because the invoice taken from two check out is not, hasn’t met the legal requirements here in Australia.
Second: I see, Okay. Alright. Have you come up with year or monthly…or actually is there a monthly fee? I see 1.94 on the side. No, actually, unit price is 1.97 that’s why I see 1.94. I keep hitting submit on the joint button, I keep getting it out. Okay. So you charge what, 97 bucks a month?
Second: How did you come up with 97 bucks a month?
First: So, we asked the people we surveyed, the 55 people that was on that survey, I’ve got about 5 or 6 of the month Scott, have personal conversation of the month Scott, and if we bill this, what does it look like? You tell me. And they told us what they wanted, and, more important I said: what’s the cross point? and they said: If it’s between 12 and 15 hundred a year I would buy it tomorrow. And I said: I’m going to hold you to that, I’m coming back in 2 weeks’ time. It will be $97.00 a month and I’m going to bill exactly what you told me, and I want you to sing up, and I said: I’m there. I’m waiting, I’m waiting.
Second: Just for our community, a community that they asked for and some training that they’re willing to pay 97 bucks a month.
Second: So…[??]…communities are all over the place, I get to go to word press, that’s back exchange, to go to… I can’t think about anything else right now.
First: Yes. Yes. Is time zone… [??]… And you want to learn anything about WordPress you go to YouTube and every means of video shows, all sorts of videos for the WordPress, so that’s the thing, we don’t teach code, we don’t teach you how to do anything with WordPress, yes, we have conversations about best practices and best frameworks and the best plug ins to use, but if you wane learn how to write page play scripts to develop a page with your own things well you’re in the right place, we will teach you, we teach you how to build a sustainable real business around your WordPress skills and your WordPress passion.
And here’s the thing about free, people don’t value free, because there’s no scheme of a gain, they made no investment so it doesn’t matter how it will turn out. So us are your business partner, although, you know, there’s a lot of other options, kind of memberships ads floating around the internet, like is bunch pile of innovation and they’re all about $30.00 a month. And you know, I am like, that’s too cheap man, $39.00 a month, I could pay $39.00 a month and not turn out to a revenue and not even watch the recording and not care, because is only $40.00. All right?
First: What is $100? Now I’m paying attention, I can’t afford to drop $100 every month and not doing anything with it, that’s 1,200 bucks a year. I could do more with that $1,200.00 a year, right?
Second: Okay. I’m asking questions, I think, in many ways might bring up any guilt to you had about charging, did you have any guilt about charging for content for access? Not at all?
Second: I had that guilt with [??] do you even had that?
First: No, I’ll tell you why. Because, because…Okay. So, first of all, I had people tell me you should charge for this information. I had had people email as about the e-books over the years saying: The information you give on the e-books is so good you should be charging for this. Now, so, I kind of had feeling, that people would pay for this information. Now, my own kind of…I had a whole bunch of self-limiting beliefs up to a certain point where, you know, yes I had a let self down like, who’s going to listen to me? And, you know, who’s going to pay attention? Who am I to teach them? I had all that kind of stuff. But the first revenue, was, the first revenue we ran was a way of probing will this people pay [??] money for business education.
Second: I see, and, once they paid you that money, you said: I am not just a consultant, I am not just a developer, I am a teacher, who’s valued enough by people that they paid all this money, and that where the changes all punched in the head and the air come.
First: Exactly! And the thing is they came back to me after that first revenue and said: Please do this again. And I had people said I would have paid double the price billed in that revenue, please do this again, I can’t wait for the next one. And they told me: We are happy to pay $97.00 a month to be a part of this. And the thing is, before I give it away for free, I know there are people trying to build kind of business coaching programs in this space, that are giving so much contest so many revenues away for free, and they’re hearing crickets, they are struggling to get people to pay for the revenues, because people don’t value free.
Second: Okay. You then charge… How many people get in 55?
Second: 55. That’s why you said early, 55 people answered the Wufoo form, and the survey, and then 55 people joined, is not necessarily the same 55.
First: That’s right.
Second: You’re offering a community, 55 people in a WordPress forum, doesn’t feel like enough people for a community conversation.
First: Yeah, you’re right! So, what happened is, I opened the doors for four days, and we sold 55 memberships in four days and then I kind of panicked, then I was thinking, okay, well we now to run webinars and coaching calls every month. We need to put out a calendar of events and I need to work out what I’m going to teach them, so I just started a conversation with them and said, “Okay, what do you want to learn first?”, and they told me.
So then we kept the doors shut for a couple of months, and then I re-opened the doors and they’ve been open since. And you’re right, we had a few people join in that first weekend who came in and then cancelled, because they came in and there was nothing going on on the forums, there’s no community. And I emailed them and was like, “Dude, we just started!” What do you think? You are part of the foundation-
Andrew: I wouldn’t have the guts to do that if I were starting a community. If somebody said that, I wouldn’t go, “Dude, we just started!” I would go, “Ugh. I can’t believe it! I failed this person, it’s not going to work!” You didn’t feel any of that?
Troy: Look, the first conversations that started having on the forums, some of those earliest threads are still some of the most popular. We had this guy Len from Toronto who I just loved to bits. Every time someone joins in WPElevation and they introduce themselves on the forum, he plays traffic cop. He comes into the forum and he’s like, “Okay, welcome Andrew to WPElevation, let me tell you where to start. First thing is first, you need to watch the webinar, the original webinar from May, and then you need to go read the original forums when we first started up because of all these great conversations and stuff”, he does the onboarding process for me.
Andrew: Oh, I see. So everyone is encouraged to go into the forum and say something right away.
Andrew: And it’s a well, what do you say? “Well, I’m here, and the reason I’m here is etcetera,” that kind of thing?
Troy: Yeah, so there’s a sticky post in the forum which basically says, “Read this first,” and they read and they say, “Hey, introduce yourself to the forum, tell people who you are, where you’re from, what your expectations are, what probably you’re trying to solve, and then all of the other members come in and give them a warm welcome and a warm [spot].”
Andrew: I need to do that with Truemine.com. When we sign people and they’re in there, we need to encourage them to do that. But that’s Day One. I understand also having somebody follow up. That makes a much more welcoming environment. What do you do a month in after people have introduced themselves and you want them to come back in and have a conversation with each other?
Troy: Well, there’s a few things. One thing we do- the one thing that members do really well is they share. So for example, one of the things that we talked about is helping these guys get some recurring revenue into their WordPress consulting business, and the easiest thing to do that is develop maintenance plans. So you put your clients on maintenance plans, they pay you whatever it is a month, and then for that you keep WordPress updated, update their plugins, all of that kind of stuff.
So one of our members, actually in New Zealand, he developed the Google Docs Spreadsheet on everything that’s included in a maintenance plan, all of the value, and then the [cross points], and he shared that with everyone in the community, and then he developed a pricing table for his website that he was going to use to promote it, and he shared that in the forum.
So that’s what keeps people coming back to grab those resources and contribute those resources and share those resources with the other members.
Andrew: Ah, okay, so if they can create resources than that keeps them back in. Do you do anything to incentivize them or encourage them to do?
Troy: Yep, so we’ve gamified the forums. We use the achievements plugin, so what happens is every month, I give away a coaching call for free with myself, so every month somebody gets a one-hour coaching call with Skype with me and I help them, I go deep into their business, and I help them overcome whatever challenge they’ve got. And the winner is based on how active they are on the forums, how much they’re helping other people on the forums, and how much success they’re having and how much they’re implementing what we teach them and how much they’re sharing in the forums.
So if someone chimes in and says, “Hey, I’ve just doubled my rates, and I had the courage to put my fees up and got paid more,” then we’ll award them points for having the courage to implement. If someone comes in and helps someone else with a problem, then they’ll automatically get points for helping another member. Then at the end of the month, there’s a leaderboard, and whoever’s on top of the leaderboard gets a free coaching call.
Andrew: I see it! Achievements for WordPress, it works with Buddypress, BBpress, WP-Commerce, et cetera. That’s it? It’s just a plugin?
Andrew: Alright. Fifty-five people get in there. What is the biggest problem you’ve had? I don’t want to seem like everything’s working out great for you.
Troy: [Chuckles] The biggest problem I’ve had was, initially, was engagement, like how do we keep them engaged? How do we keep them- yeah, how do we keep them engaged? And I think we solved that problem by having a monthly webinar, and a monthly coaching call, and the thing with the coaching call that I think was the real, ‘Aha!’, moment- you see, webinar is essentially an hour of training and then like twenty minutes of Q&A.
A coaching call is ten minutes of training and an hour Q&A, and I get people on going to a webinar, I uncut them, and they have a conversation with me and the whole room listens in, and we have like a mini-mastermind group on the coaching call every month, and I think that’s really helped to build the community. And that’s sort of the connect- originally they kind of joined…
Troy: Originally they’d kind of joined for the content, but they’re kind of staying because the community is there, helping each other wrangle this content and helping implement, and there are now friendships, and we now have meet-ups in Melbourne. In Melbourne, tomorrow, I’m going to a fourth meet-up. There’ll be eight of us there, sitting around, having a beer, chatting, talking…
Andrew: You’re a community.
Andrew: All right. Here’s another challenge we have here at Mixergy when we create this stuff. Sometimes I feel like people aren’t in it for the content, aren’t in it for the ideas; they’re in it because I’m going to do a webinar or something, or Go To Meeting, and we’ll all get to hang out. Right? And so, when I was testing True Mind, I can’t be the only one who’s going to be teaching it, because then they might just be into…like we started out by doing coaching calls, and just see, does it work, and it was me, and I thought, “Hey, they’re all very happy”. I thought, “Maybe it’s because they’re kind of getting to riff with me. We B.S. a little bit, you know, and they know me from the interviews, and it may not be the ideas, so then I asked Olivia. I said, “You know this process, you’ve gone through the True Mind process–you teach it!”
True Mind is about how to get out of your head, stop having this inner criticism and really just be yourself. Anyway she started teaching it, and things worked out. You have a similar issue where you’re wondering, “Are they just into hanging out with me? Is this a hang-out session, or are they into the ideas?”
Andrew: So, what do you do about that?
Troy: So, it’s really interesting. At the moment, the big challenge that I think we’ve got, and I’ve thought about this a lot, and I’ve thought about this because I’ve been listening to you a lot, and I’ve been listening to John Lee Dumas a lot, and thinking, you know, at the moment, the challenge over the next sort of 12 months is to test: Is this a Troy Dean fan club, or is this a business that actually helps people with content and training and is impactful.
So the reasons that I don’t think it’s sustainable as a Troy Dean fan club are two reasons. First of all, it can’t be too dependent on me, because if I get hit by a bus, it’s bad for the business, but it’s also bad for the members, right, because if they’re completely relying on me and hanging out with me, and something happens to me, then they stop getting value.
Andrew: Not only that, but then they’re not getting what they came in for.
Troy: So the plan, over the next six to twelve months is to start producing other hosts on the podcast, so we’ll probably start with one or two podcasts a month that’ll have a different host hosting the podcast, and then we’re already starting to bring in other guest presenters to teach the webinars, and the plan is eventually…there are kind of six parts to what we teach. The plan is to eventually have one person run each module in the business and teach those webinars and look after those coaching calls and contribute to those forum and interview those guests on the podcast.
Troy: And I’ll kind of look after one of those areas, and I’ll have other people look after the other areas.
Andrew: Okay, and you did break down everything that people need to know to build a better consulting business into six different areas: Incoming, meaning, take care of incoming leads, positioning yourself, proposals, [NT?] follow-up, delivery and referral machines, right? So now everything you teach falls within those six areas.
Andrew: I was doing some spying on you, to see where your traffic was coming from, and I discovered that LearnDash.com sends you traffic, and you said, “Not only traffic, but customers, too!”
Andrew: What is LearnDash, and why are they sending you traffic and customers?
Troy: So LearnDash is a learning management system for Word Press, it’s a plug-in that allows you to deliver courses. The reason we chose it at the time was that it integrated with 2Checkout, which is our payment processor, and also it has this cool little thing, which some people might think is a bit naff, but it allows you to print a certificate at the end of completing a course.
So it has courses, each course has a quiz, you get your quizzes right, and then you print a certificate. So, we launched…I realize that 97 dollars a month is a big ask from people who don’t know us, so we launched a course that you can do at a lower cost. It’s 97 dollars for the course. We usually sell it a bit cheaper than that, as a promotion. And so we build that on a sub-domain using LearnDash.
Now there was this one little quirk with LearnDash that I wanted to fix that wasn’t in core, so I kind of hacked into their code and fixed it, and then I went and contributed that little code snippet back to the LearnDash forums and said, “Hey guys, this is how I’ve solved this problem–it might be helpful”. And they actually then adapted that into the core part of the plug-in, and Justin, the guy at LearnDash, thanked me in the forums, and then reached out to me and said, “Hey, how are you using LearnDash?”, and I told him what we were doing with it, and he put our screen shot and our web site on his home page, which lots of Word Press consultants visit, because they’re looking for…
Andrew: Check out who else is using LearnDash, and you were right there.
Troy: Yeah. And so he’s one of the biggest referrers of traffic, and also conversions, like, people that visit us from LearnDash come through and join the program.
Andrew: I see, so does [SP], its software that works with your WordPress site within WordPress?
Andrew: And it allows you to move people along through a course, test them at every module, at every step and then give them a certificate.
Troy: Yes, that’s right. And if they don’t pass the quizzes, they don’t get to go on to the next lesson, so they have to pass the quizzes, they have to do them in order, they can’t skip ahead, and at the end of it they get a certificate. I had a girl email me saying, I couldn’t print my certificate for some reason, so can you please print it for me, I want to frame it and put it next to my diploma.
Andrew: I get it.
Troy: The certificate works, the people love the certificate.
Andrew: I get it, I don’t think the diploma gets them anywhere in life, I don’t know where he graduated, but unless you graduated from Harvard or somewhere important like NYU, that’s not really helping them. WOW, I had never heard about this thing and its just 99 bucks for it.
Troy: Yeah, it’s really good, there is a whole bunch of other learning aids that I did.
Andrew: I went back to archive.org to look at your personal site.
Troy: I need a drink. I need some water.
Andrew: I go back in time, I’m expecting to see this WordPress fandom, I’m expecting to see this business fandom, and guess what I see? You have a smile on your face, you probably know. This music collection. So you are not even like an entrepreneur from birth, you are more of a musician.
Troy: You were doing your homework, Yeah, entrepreneurship is kind of a new thing to me, I kind of discovered it in my early to mid-thirties and have just gradually been falling in love with it.
Andrew: I have so many tabs open right now. I am constantly looking for more information, to see underneath what’s there, now on your website as of December 3rd 2010, there is more music than anything else. Music: Run, You remind me, I can’t let you go, Coming home, Come to bed.. I see where this is going.
Troy: That’s an album I released called Mythology and Rumor.
Andrew: That’s your album. I see
Troy: I played in bands in my 20s and then when I was in my early 30s, I was just kicking it in bits and pieces, and on the side I have never made a full length record. We had put out a bunch of EPs and I’d never made a full length album so I just thought, I want to make a full length album. So I went to the studio and self-funded a little record called Mythology and Rumor that I just made for my own enjoyment. I didn’t even bother doing a launch or trying to market or sell it, I just did it for my own enjoyment like a cathartic self-indulging exercise.
Andrew: I was listening to what you were saying. I would do a launch for this, now you are talking like a marketer. I will do a launch for this, I will make it available for 48 hours to listen to the music, and now you might get to watch the concert at 7 a.m. [??] time.
Andrew: Hey I want to, tell people where to learn some of the things you have talked about, encourage them to go get some of it for themselves, and then come back and ask you about something that we are missing here because I know that there is something that we have not yet delivered. So here is the thing guys, if you are into what we are teaching here, specifically membership sites, I have a personal passion for membership sites, I created a membership site long after people told me content will never sell online because there is YouTube there is Google and everything is free, I found it that it was BS.
Of course, there is a lot of free stuff and people are going to be happy with it but when they want quality and you deliver quality, they are going to be ready for your stuff. I wasn’t fully ready to do it, like you might not be, it took me a very long time to learn how to do it right, to learn from the best. I started out with people like Linda from Linda.com and she taught me how to do it in her Mixergy interview which is available to you.
And then I went to Stu McLaren and he taught me how to do it and then I went to so many other people. If you are into membership sites, dare I say to you, there is no better resource than Mixergy where I brought in some of the top entrepreneurs in this space to do interviews about how they did it and I brought other top entrepreneurs to teach courses specifically about how to get customers on board, how to do retentions and so on. It’s all available to you in one simple package at mixergypremium.com.
You have heard Troy talk about some of the courses in there, there are many more. I am specifically focusing on membership sites because if you listened this far, I urge you to create your own membership site already, do it on your side, it’s not enough to just be a blogger.
I think it’s important to create a community of your own of people who like your stuff so much they are willing to pay for it. Because that community will hold you accountable to high quality, that community will give you feedback that the free people wouldn’t. Because frankly, if we are talking about ongoing revenue, you are going to be able to bank on that revenue, to hire people to help you build up your business and know where your company is going in the future. It’s all available for you at mixergypremium.com. I guarantee you. You will love it, go sign up right now.
Troy, I’ve centered this interview on membership sites, we have that in common. I feel like we got through a lot, we got through the plugins, WordPress, WishList. We introduced me, even, to . . . where’s that tab? There it is, to learndash.com. We talked about so much, I feel we still might’ve missed something. If you are listening in the audience right now, no, if you were listening back in your music days, and you said, “I want to create a membership site,” what would you say is missing? What is the part that someone’s who trying to follow your lead, and build a successful company would need to know, that we haven’t covered? Where are they going to make mistakes?
Troy: That’s a really good question. Okay. So, here’s the thing, before WP Elevation, I launched a membership site, that failed.
Andrew: Oh, good. Yes, okay. What did you do wrong?
Troy: [laughs] Everything.
Troy: So what I did is I launched a thing called “Online Marketing Masters,” where I was a WordPress consultant, but I also realized that a lot of my clients that I was consulting with, didn’t realize the basics of online marketing. So, I wanted to teach them what I knew about online marketing. Where I failed is, it was too broad. It was designed to appeal to everyone. I was doing free webinars, I was doing free coaching calls, to try to build an audience. And there was all sorts of different businesses, owners, in that community.
And I couldn’t target my message to them, because I didn’t understand their problem, as well as they did. And I couldn’t solve their problem, because I wasn’t inside their head. So, what happened is, when we started launching WP . . . and so, I was really frustrated. And I remember, I was running coaching calls on Wednesday nights, at that point, and it was Tuesday.
And I just thought, “You know what? I’m not going to do it. Tomorrow, I’m not going to do the coaching call. I cannot be bothered putting together the Keynote Presentation. I’m not making enough revenue out of this, I’m going to shut it down.”
I sent everyone an e-mail saying, “I’m really sorry. This is not sustainable, I can’t keep doing it, it’s over. I’m not taking any more money from you, have fun. Actually, you can keep everything I’ve given you, but we’re not moving forward.” And I had a quite a few people say, “I’m really disappointed, I was really enjoying it.” And I’m, like, “I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is.” And then, I realized that I had this audience of people that I already had a relationship with, and already trusted me, in the WordPress database.
So, the lesson for me was, and this is my mantra now, is work out who it is you serve the best, and then, go about serving them better than anyone else. And I worked out that WordPress consultants and developers are the guys that I love the most, and they’re the ones that I understand the most, and they’re the ones that I serve the best, so, that is now my focus.
Andrew: I get that, that the more focused you are, the more helpful you can be. And I’ve made that mistake with Mixergy, and slowly, we are getting more and more narrow with our focus, and I wish I had learned that a long time ago, too. It’s not enough to just say “startups,” it’s not enough to just say, “Help.” You have to be much clearer about what size startups, where do you want help, and so on, and we’re doing that.
Troy: Yeah, and you have this . . . when you talk about niche marketing or narrowing your focus, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to focus on an industry. But you have this thing, where, you are “Home of the Ambitious Upstart,” which is great, because I identify as an ambitious upstart. I’m ambitious with a startup, but I’ve also got a little bit of attitude. I’m also a little bit of a “Screw you, man. I can do this.” That’s why I love Richard Branson, the “Screw it, let’s do it,” scene.
Troy: I feel at home, when I’m listening to Andrew Warner, Home of the Ambitious Upstart. I feel like I’m in the right place, yeah?
Andrew: I know what you mean. I do feel that upstart mindset, so much, especially . . . so, I moved to San Francisco recently. There are people here who have it made. They don’t need a Mixergy interview, their father-in- laws are now at a place, where the Internet is old enough that, if your father-in-laws made it, he can open up doors for you. It’s almost like the garment industry was years ago.
Andrew: Those guys don’t need Mixergy. They just need to go to dinner at their father-in-law’s house.
Troy: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Andrew: I was going to say, I’m not talking about anyone specifically, but I am. I’m talking about some specific people.
Andrew: See, I still have that, that upstart chip on my shoulder frustration.
Andrew: How much revenue are you making right now?
Troy: My business partner and I, decided we don’t publicly disclose out revenue, but I can tell you, we’re a six figure business, I’m happy to tell you that much. And we have an office here, in Melbourne, and we have an office in Sydney. And we have staff in Melbourne, and we have three staff in the Philippines, and we have more staff with . . .
Andrew: How old’s the business?
Troy: Well, we’ve been going full-time for about 18 months. Before that, my business partner and I were just kicking it out part-time, for a few years.
Andrew: How long did it take you guys to hit a 100,000 in revenue?
Troy: So, we did that pretty quickly, actually. We were doing that, when we were just doing it part-time. We were spending maybe four hours a week on it. And I’d say we probably got there, within the first couple of years. That was just selling the $24 a month plug-in.
Andrew: Oh, I mean, with the membership site. How many members do you have?
Troy: Ah, the membership site. Okay, so we’ve got 150 members at the moment, and they’re a mixture of gold and platinum. So we have a handful of platinum members. Basically they get one-on-one coaching their self on Skype once a month.
Andrew: So what’s platinum?
Troy: Platinum’s 500 a month.
Andrew: Five hundred a month. So at a minimum you’re making 15,000 a month with just this part of the business.
Andrew: Okay, but you have platinum members which increases it even more. I say 15,000 because that’s rightly 100 bucks per.
Andrew: Is that a little awkward that I may have brought that up?
Andrew: Is that awkward? No, it doesn’t.
Troy: No, not at all. So here’s the thing about . . . We spoke about this. Here’s the thing about revenue is I’m glad I asked you this when I interviewed you which we’re actually putting it up on our podcast tomorrow. I always thought that talking about revenue was a bit of a gimmick, and I know a lot of people . . .
Andrew: It is.
Troy: . . . publish their monthly revenue reports. I’m kind of like ah, I think there’s something more important than revenues because, first of all, I think there’s something more important than revenues is profit. But, second of all, I think what’s more important than revenues is sustainability, profit, and sustainable growth. I kind of think at the moment there’s lots of startups being really transparent and open about publishing their monthly revenue reports, and for me it feels a little bit gimmicky.
That’s why my business partner and I have decided that we don’t disclose our revenue.
Andrew: I feel it’s more than a gimmick though. In some ways it’s really helpful, and in other ways it feels like we’re charging you to get rich by charging you and showing how to get rich.
Andrew: That’s the part that feels a little bit off.
Andrew: I started off by asking about revenue because my focus was on tech startups specifically, the kinds of companies I ran where people didn’t talk about revenue. I had a chip on my shoulder that I had revenue, I had profits, and they didn’t. But they were getting headlines, and I wanted to kind of turn things around, but once I step outside of that world it does become dangerous talking about revenue.
If I talk to you about your membership site that you’re teaching and I get into revenue, first of all, info products are all an issue. Second, get rich quick is an issue. Info products that teach people how to make money potentially feel like get rich quick.
If I ask you how much money you’re making, we’re essentially getting into that territory where you might as well be leaning on a limousine as we’re doing this interview, you know?
Troy: That’s right.
Andrew: So you’re absolutely right, and I appreciate you saying that. Yes.
Troy: I also understand the point that you made that there’s no point in you having people on this show to teach if you can’t validate that I’ve got some kind of success. So there’s plenty of funded companies around not producing invoices. So I think what’s important to know is that we’re bootstrapped, we don’t owe a cent, we’ve never borrowed money. We’ve been cash positive from day one in the membership site.
So the first weekend we launched we had 55 members. If you want to put this into some kind of context, 55 members meant that we had a $60,000 a year business in those four days. We were great. We just added 60 grand in those four days, and it’s grown organically since then.
We have other strings of income, of course. We have our consulting work that we still do. We have the plating business, and our growth is good.
Andrew: Did you ever feel that you’ve got to get out of the consulting business? That you’re only doing it so that you can understand what your customers are going through. Come on, I’m done with this thing.
Troy: Yeah, so the good thing about the consulting business now is that I can kind of pick and choose what projects that I want to work on and they’re good projects. There’ll profitable and also I would kind of feel like a fraud teaching how to be a consultant if I wasn’t still doing it. So as long as I’m teaching it I’ll still be doing it.
Andrew: All right. This has been a great conversation, a great interview. Thank you for doing this. Thank you all for being a part of it. As always, if you got anything of value from this, fine a way to say thank you to
Troy. I’m telling you this not because I get any benefit. There’s no affiliate commission. I’m telling you to thank you, but as a guy who suggested this now for years, what I have found is Troy might get a few customers from this. I don’t know, many people have. Then he’ll feel good about it. Some people in the past have said, “Andrew, I feel so good about all of the revenue I get, can I give you a commission?” I can’t take commissions.
Then what do they do with all of this good feeling that they have? What they do is they say, “Oh, this stuff from Andrew’s community says thank you. I’d better take good care of him so Andrew can have me back on. And then maybe I can repay him for all of the money that I’m making from the interview” or repay him because he’s making me a good guy. I don’t know what it is.
So all of the positivity that comes to me goes to you. I promise you that you should be thanking my guest because that is the setup that we have over here. It comes back to you in different ways. Troy, I’m going to say it right now. I’m going to give people a lesson. I’m going to show them how to do it. Here’s how it is. Ready, guys? Thank you and thank you all for being a part of it.
Andrew: Thank you guys for being a part of the Mixergy community. Thank you, Troy.
Troy: Thanks, Andrew.
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