Are You Making These Mistakes with Your Membership? With Melodie Moore
While there have been big leaps in membership software in the last 5 years, membership sites are still some of the hardest to create and run properly. That’s why I brought in Melodie Moore. She’s been building, maintaining, and scaling 7 & 8-figure membership sites for the past 10 years. Her team kills shiny object syndrome and creates massive success in less time by utilizing psychology, state-of-the-art tech, and effective systems. Today, you’re going to learn her process, and how to launch a successful membership.
In How I Built It Pro, members got to hear us talk about parenting, general thoughts on Twitter, and…improv?! Get this and every episode ad-free, and extended, over at https://howibuilt.it/pro
- There are 3 major mistakes content creators make that Melodie breaks down: acting too big, having to finish before you sell, and thinking a tech person is your savior. Listen to hear how to avoid them!
- Most platforms don’t think about the entire customer journey. When you’re evaluating, think about where you are in your journey.
- If you want to reduce churn, sell a course first. Once that gains traction, consider a membership.
- Melodie Moore
- Melodie on Twitter
- Melodie on Instagram
- Melodie on Facebook
- Melodie on Linkedin
- The Best Way to Build Community is Easier Than You Think with Drew Dillon
- Why You’re Leaving Money on the Table with Email Automation with Kronda Adair
- $100M Offers: Alex Hormozi
- Paid Memberships Pro
Joe Casabona: Well, there have been big leaps in membership software in the last five years. Membership sites are still some of the hardest to create and run properly. That’s why I brought in Melodie Moore. She has been building, maintaining, and scaling seven and eight-figure membership sites for the past 10 years. Her team kills shiny object syndrome and creates massive success in less time by utilizing psychology, state of the art, technology and effective systems. Today, you’re going to learn her process and how to launch a successful membership. In How I Built It Pro, members get to hear us talk about parenting, general thoughts on Twitter, and improv.
To get this and every episode ad-free and extended, you can head over to howibuilt.it/pro. Before we get into the episode, I want you to look for these top takeaways. First of all, Melodie outlines three major mistakes content creators make: acting too big, having to finish before you sell, and thinking a tech person is your savior. Then she’ll talk about how to avoid them. We talk about how most platforms don’t think about the entire customer journey and how to reduce churn.
This is such an amazing episode that came at the right time for me, and I know you’re going to love it. So without further ado, let’s get to the intro and then the interview.
Intro: Hey everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast where you get free coaching calls from successful creators. Each week you get actionable advice on how you can build a better content business to increase revenue and establish yourself as an authority. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to it.
Joe Casabona: All right, welcome, welcome to Episode 311 of How I Built It. I’m here with Melodie Moore, the CEO of Business Tech Ninjas. I’m really excited. We had an amazing pre-show conversation available to members only about Twitter and ephemeral thoughts and parenting and improv and how they all tie together. So if you’re wondering how could that possibly be? You can head over to howibuilt.it/pro.
Let’s bring in Melodie. How are you today?
Melodie Moore: I’m doing wonderful. It is warming up in Ontario now, so I’m excited about it being not-so-cold coming up.
Joe Casabona: Yes, it is like 50 degrees here right now, which is like light hoodie weather for me.
Melodie Moore: Trying to remember what that would be in Celsius?
Joe Casabona: Oh, yeah, that’s right. 10 degrees Celsius.
Melodie Moore: Ten degrees is like shorts and T-shirt weather for us.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s exactly. Our mutual friend Chris Lema—Melodie and I met CaboPress—He moved from California to Texas so he has zero tolerance for the cold. And we were in St. Louis in November for WordCamp US one year and it’s like 50 degrees and he’s wearing this big puffy winter jacket and I am wearing a long sleeve shirt but the sleeves are rolled up. And he’s like, “Are you just flexing right now?” I’m like, “A little bit. But also the sun is shining.” I would be hot in a big puffy jacket in 50 degrees sunny weather.
Melodie Moore: He just went up to Alaska too. He had like all of the things.
Joe Casabona: Awesome, awesome. Well, Melodie, I’m excited to talk to you today because first of all, I have some membership woes. I am like a web developer of 20 years who understands this stuff but sometimes you get in your own head. So the first topic I wanted to cover was around choosing the right platform, right? Because you’re in the WordPress space a bit or you’re at least doing WordPress work. I don’t know how deeply embedded in the WordPress space you are. I was deeply embedded in the WordPress space for a long time. And the question of like, should I use a hosted solution or self-hosted solution or… I forget the terms that you used, but I liked those.
Melodie Moore: I like calling them platform versus just WordPress in general.
Joe Casabona: Nice.
Melodie Moore: I guess it is hosted versus self-hosted, but I find most of our clients don’t understand that. They are like, “What do you mean?”
Joe Casabona: Right. That’s the number one piece of content that every agency writes. Like, should you have self-host or do you host it? I’m like, “What’s the difference?”
Melodie Moore: And that’s a lot of my role is translating that, of translating all the text, speak to clients like, “This is what it actually means to you. This is what this choice actually breaks down to.” And I really like your story because you went you transitioned from WordPress and now you’re on what I would consider a platform. So maybe it’s good to just kind of start off like, what’s the definition, what is the difference between hosted versus self-hosted or platform versus WordPress, which are synonymous?
Joe Casabona: I think that’s great. Because I think a lot of people listening, this did move from WordPress developer-focused podcast to now it’s for creators. So creators are faced with this question all the time. Like, should I use Kajabi? Should I use Teachable? Can I sell courses with WordPress? What is this? So why don’t you tell us? What’s your definition of platform versus WordPress, or hosted versus self-hosted?
Melodie Moore: So a platform is going to be your Thinkifics, your Kajabis, your ClickFunnels, ThriveCart now has an option where you can put your courses on there. The main way to know if it’s a platform solution is, are you logging into their URL to access your content or to control settings or something along those lines? And that’s a good way of if you’re not really sure, then you’re probably on a platform if you log into one of those.
And then there are some gray areas. But then the other major one is a WordPress site. Now the WordPress site, you’re going to have to buy hosting, and you install plugins and a theme and you choose a membership site solution. And that would be your self-hosted thing on that.
Joe Casabona: Nice. I love that. Are you logging into their URL? What a clear way to understand the difference? I’ve always explained it like, are you renting an apartment or are you buying a house? That’s a classic way that I tried to define it? But maybe it’s actually more like, are you buying a prefab house or are you building a house? Maybe that. Again, that’s like metaphors that are maybe less concrete than what you’ve said, which is great.
Melodie Moore: It’s kind of like WeWork type scenario. Are you going to your WeWork office? I don’t know. There’s so many different analogies you can use for it.
Joe Casabona: Ultimately, the platform, right, you’re basically paying monthly for them to worry about everything.
Melodie Moore: In theory, that’s the dream.
Joe Casabona: In theory. In theory that is the dream. I love that you said “in theory” because it’s not really the case.
Melodie Moore: One of my favorite sayings with technology is trust but verify.
Joe Casabona: Trust but verify. I love that.
Melodie Moore: Every membership platform or membership tool has an amazing sales page. And all of the sales pages say essentially the same things if you really, really break it down. But how it matters, the detail of how they actually deliver on those items. When we were talking about payment failure as we were chatting before this. That’s one of the major downfalls that I see behind all of the services, both WordPress plugins as well as platforms, is they don’t think about the entire journey that members have that their users are going to have to do.
And we’ve been working a lot to have better analytics and better flow within membership sites. Because what we found is that every single tool we found hasn’t really thought through how members are supposed to fall through the system.
As a software developer, and you’d said something before when we were chatting, is what are they optimizing for? And most software developers are optimizing for, we want as many people to use this tool as possible. And what they do with that is they don’t say, Well, this is how you should use it. So they give you a lot of options, but they don’t cover off on the things that are really fundamentally important. Because they’re like, “Oh, we’re giving you the tool, you figure out how you use it.”
And I think that’s the major downfall I see with a lot of these tools. And that’s where we come in essentially of what we’ve done because we take clients around that. It starts to feel painful around that $400,000 or $500,000 mark. When you get to that level of your systems are failing and you don’t have such a problem with bringing in new members, it’s keeping them and then upping that lifetime customer value that your systems keep failing. It’s like, “Oh, an admin person has to go in and do this. An admin person has to do that. And that drops off and sometimes that fails.” And that’s when you really start to feel that pain and it gets especially painful around that million-dollar mark
Joe Casabona: Man, I love that. It kind of reminds me of something similar to what Drew Dillon said in Episode 299. He runs Burb. It’s a community platform and integrates directly with Circle. But he basically said like, at first, do things that don’t scale. And then like when you start to hit… I think, he said like 50 members or 50 community members. That’s the point where you probably start to feel a little bit of pain by doing things manually. And it kind of sounds like the same thing here. Because I don’t have a lot of members. Howibuilt.it/pro.
Melodie Moore: Yet.
Joe Casabona: Yet. Right. And part of it is because I wasn’t marketing it the right way and I changed the name 14 times. The thing that led me to simplify—because I was using WooCommerce and WooCommerce subscriptions and WooCommerce membership—the thing that led me to simplify was, first of all those two plugins cost a lot of money, quote-unquote, versus ConvertKit Commerce, which kind of comes with the ESP I’m already paying for.
I just didn’t want the baggage of another WooCommerce site. So that led me to make a rushed decision—that’s the word I was trying to think of in the pre-show—make a rushed decision to go like, “I’m just gonna simplify as much as possible. ConvertKit Commerce has a subscription, so I’ll just do that. Great.” And then as I committed to this because I didn’t properly test either. Kronda Adair was on my show, and she was like, “Yeah, you need to write down job descriptions for your software.”
Melodie Moore: That’s a clever way of looking at it.
Joe Casabona: That’s a really clever way of looking at it. Yeah. And I didn’t do that because I thought, “Well, surely there’s a way to know if members churn.” Right? I mean-
Melodie Moore: Obviously, that’s just fundamental, right?
Joe Casabona: Nathan Barry constantly talks about that, how he wants his churn rate to be zero. So surely, if they’re building a subscription product, we know what our churn rate is. And it’s not until after I sold the first couple of memberships on this new platform that I found out, No, there’s no way to tell. There’s no native way to tell.
Melodie Moore: Even with subscriptions, we’re just in the process of building out a plugin that solves for this, I mean, because in my mind I want my technology to be beautiful. And if it’s not beautiful, it doesn’t perform beautifully, if it can’t flow, then I’m going to find a different solution or I’m gonna build one.
We’re developing a WooCommerce plugin right now that, one, will give us the level of reporting that I want that I haven’t been able to see. The problem with the Woo subscriptions plugin is that it builds off of the way that… WordPress and… you’re much more the developer than I am, so correct me if I’m wrong in any of these ways. But they keep all of the subscription billings on the WordPress site and even if you’re using Stripe. However, Stripe has got really good technology on around how to manage and how to run subscriptions.
So if a cron job doesn’t run correctly on the site, our subscriptions just don’t go through. So we want to build this plugin—we’re in the process of it. It’ll be launched, I think, in the next month or two now—of just leveraging Stripe subscriptions so that we can have this way to really beautifully manage Subscriptions. Because there’s this reporting that I want to have for all of our sites that we’re doing manually right now for most of our clients, which is, it’s really quite simple in my mind. And I’m like, “Why isn’t anyone doing this?”
But at the beginning of the month, I want to know how many members I have and I want to know how many members I have at the end, and I want to know the complete story of how that happened. So new people, where did they come from, were they free trials, were they not, whatever else?
And then I want to know how people like manually canceled. And then there’s a term I came up with called Canadian canceling, which is when people get added into pain and failure and they just don’t update their credit card because they don’t want to be in your membership anymore but they’re just too polite to tell you.
And then your payment failure rate. And the payment failure rate is one of the ones that I think a lot of people miss. And you want to know what happens when you don’t pay attention to that payment failure rate?
Joe Casabona: What happens?
Melodie Moore: Well, you lose money. But the underlying reason for why is you can fix it. What we’ve seen now is because credit card fraud is going up, is that processors play around with how they’re confirming out whether that card is correct or not. ABS mismatch, we’re seeing a lot of those rules come out in Mexico and a lot overseas right now. But they’re going to come to North America as well.
So they up how they’re verifying those credit cards, which will unintentionally push up your payment failure rate. So, one, if you don’t have a really solid payment failure system, that’s a problem. Two, if you’re not keeping an eye on those… You can go in and adjust those depending on how like… We have clients that kind of earn dodgy or areas of membership, so their verifications are a lot higher versus the high ticket ones where it’s like, we know these are reasonably good people.
And if you’re paying attention to those, you can go and fix it. We’ve gone into systems that haven’t kept an eye on it, and we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars as the loss because nobody saw it, nobody looked at it, nobody questioned that, and then it’s just gotten.
So you can go back to those people. And then additionally, it could be your billing system or however you’re charging them. Sometimes it doesn’t even try to charge, but nobody’s looking at it. So it’s like really looking at what does that whole picture look like. And if you get that snapshot every month, as soon as something’s just a little bit off from your averages, Oh, we need to look at that. Okay. That’s how you really manage growth in that long term.
Joe Casabona: Wow, that’s so interesting. Because it’s not really, from the Creator standpoint, or even I as a developer, former developer I guess.
Melodie Moore: Developer in recovery?
Joe Casabona: Developer in recovery. I didn’t live in the membership space as much. So that’s not something I really thought about. So again, approaching this from the creator side, I just think, “Well, surely the developer has considered this because they’re building… You would think. And it’s so true, right?
You know, you look at a bunch of these different options… WP Simple Pay is a really simple payment gateway, not really a membership site. It’s basically just a nicer way to embed Stripe on your site. I mean, that’s like putting it really simply but that’s basically what it is. And then, like you said, WooCommerce subscriptions has its kind of weak points.
Melodie Moore: Don’t even get me into order statuses.
Joe Casabona: Oh, yeah. Ultimately. And this is kind of the reason I jumped WordPress ship is because the way WordPress is… My favorite thing to focus on in software engineering school was database design. I loved designing databases. And WordPress has one of the most god-awful database implementations I had ever sin.
Melodie Moore: I did not know that.
Joe Casabona: They’re like, “Let’s just make everything post meta.” And I’m like, “No, though. You’re just gonna serialize a bunch of strings?” We’ve lost creators now. I just said serialize. You’re gonna just store everything… Imagine storing all of your content in one big long text file. That’s basically how WordPress stores all the data associated with your posts. So that’s how WooCommerce does it. Because WooCommerce is owned by Automattic and they do things in the WordPress way. Maybe they have their own set of tables, but that’s kind of discouraged. It’s just a mess on the back end.
So you are backing into these. So anyway, I figured well, with ConvertKit commerce, I just want to take people’s money on a monthly basis and they probably give me everything I need. And then I learned that they don’t. Maybe they will by the time this episode comes out.
Melodie Moore: After 10 years.
Joe Casabona: Yeah.
Melodie Moore: Don’t hold your breath though. It’s probably not wise.
Joe Casabona: No. They did just roll out transactions. Because this is one of the other things, right? Not that I want to dump on. ConvertKit. I love ConvertKit obviously.
Melodie Moore: And Nathan Barry is a cool dude.
Joe Casabona: Nathan Barry’s a cool, very gracious dude.
Melodie Moore: Totally.
Joe Casabona: I was like kind of a turd to him on Twitter several years ago and he was like, really nice about it.
Melodie Moore: It makes you feel worse though.
Joe Casabona: It does make me feel so much worse. “Oh, like you’re not a jerk.” He’s super cool guy and I love ConvertKit. But you don’t get emails when someone buys a product either. They just rolled out transactions so now there’s a list of the products I’ve sold. Like I can see that. As we record this that was of like a week ago.
I get that they want to iterate quickly, but I think there are some things that we’re probably must-have features… well, that I would consider must-have features.
Melodie Moore: But you’ve got software developers doing it not guided by creators or people that are actually using it. And this is a common problem to every software, though.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah, you’re absolutely right. Not to toot my own horn here, but I feel like I’m I do a very good job of straddling both worlds. I think I’m a developer who is very good at talking to end users and stakeholders about understanding their needs. But a lot of developers are not. Or there are a lot of project managers who are not good at talking to one or the other.
So, yeah, you’re going to have that breakdown in features and then it’s up to support to submit a ticket. And some project manager should be like, Is this really that important?
Melodie Moore: Well, then we’ve got this huge way where every software is trying to be everything to everyone now too. So that list of the features that is just endless. And it does kind of come down to what are you optimizing for? Most softwares aren’t optimizing for anything. They’re optimizing for an all-in-one software which is optimizing for nothing.
I want to record this down. We are going to see the other side of this. That softwares are going to start to say, “We specialize in this. This is our thing. We don’t do anything else. You can use all of those other things.” That’s going to be the other side of this trend, and I am all for it.
Joe Casabona: Keeping this on like WordPress versus platforms, it’s probably a little bit that, right? Because like one of the big tentpole selling points of WordPress is you can do whatever you want.
Melodie Moore: Which is a blessing and a curse.
Joe Casabona: Yes, it is.
Melodie Moore: Yeah.
Joe Casabona: But platforms are probably like, How do we compete with WordPress while we let people do whatever they want within reason?
Melodie Moore: The thing I like about WordPress is that I can do whatever I want, but I can also choose the best in class thing for the specific problem I’m looking to solve. Whereas with platform, it’s kind of like when my cell phone company is like, “You can have 100 talk minutes,” and it’s like, “I don’t want to be on the phone at all.”
Joe Casabona: Yeah, right.
Melodie Moore: “Well, that’s included in your plan.” It’s like, “Well, I don’t really want that.” Like, “Well, that’s included in your plan. And you also get cable.” And it’s like, “Well, I don’t watch cable. I will watch online streaming.” That’s kind of what I think of when I think of both platforms. And also bloated themes, by the way. But that’s a separate conversation.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, for sure. I don’t want to throw shade at anybody, but there are a few bosses who are not my buddies who have just bloated themes.
Melodie Moore: It’s a crack drug. It’s the option that people really like. Well, you might want to do that someday. And I love Kronda’s thing of the job descriptions for your software. Stick to those job descriptions and you’ll keep it a lot simpler. Because oftentimes we have to come in when a business has scaled and just check out a bunch of stuff that got added in and there is no cleaning procedure on that.
Just to come back to like the version of do you want to do WordPress here, do you want to do platform, one of the biggest things is where are you at in your testing phase and where you’re at within your business. If you’re still fairly new and just kind of testing out your ideas, you’re better off to use the platform, frankly. Because you are going to have to invest in a WordPress site.
There’s not really a simple way to do it without investing some good money. And if you try to do it cheaply, you’re just going to hate yourself because you’re going to be hiring subpar developers who aren’t going to know what they’re doing and you’re going to spend a lot of your time just trying to manage them and trying to get the things that you need from them. And there’s no one-stop support for that, which is painful.
So just to test your ideas and like, can you get money for your idea, for your content is really good. Now, if you have a proven idea, if you have an audience, then it might be worthwhile to set something up that is a little bit more stable on WordPress because then you don’t have to re-platform down the road.
Joe Casabona: And that’s a scary thing. So I’ll just touch on this really quickly. Finding good developers, even if you are big or kind of know what you’re doing, is tough, right?
Melodie Moore: Yeah.
Joe Casabona: One of the things I still consult on… I don’t do a whole lot of web consulting anymore, I’m fully focused on podcast consulting. I want to be known for that thing, speaking of like focusing and specializing. But it just kills me when people hire bad developers. So I will still help consult on that.
I’ll say like, “I’m not going to write code, but I’ll take a look at your site and I’ll tell you where there are some problem issues.” And I’ve worked with some pretty big brands who just got sold a bag of crap from these… And I’m like, “Who’s your host?” And they’re like, “Oh, I think they resell it.” And that is always, always a red flag.
Melodie Moore: And you don’t have login to it.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. “I don’t really know. They made us move from really good host to their host.” I’ve heard people say like, “Oh they told me Pressable is not that good,” or “Oh, they told me that…” Who’s the other one? Like, “WP engine is not that good.” And I’m like, “Those two are best in class for WordPress hosting.”
Melodie Moore: It’s like, “Well, why aren’t they that good?” And if they can answer that question, then they’re probably full of something.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly.
Melodie Moore: And it’s not whipped cream.
Joe Casabona: It’s not whipped cream. No. But I do like what you said here about WordPress kind of lets you pick the best in class and then where are you at in your business. So if we’re going to stay anchored to me as an example, again, I don’t have a lot of members and my membership was also-
Melodie Moore: Yet.
Joe Casabona: Yet. Thank you. …was also tied to my online courses. Again, I shut that down. I made those courses free on YouTube now. I’m only focusing on the podcast stuff. And I thought, “Am I going to maintain a fully separate site for less than a dozen members?”
Melodie Moore: Doesn’t make sense to me.
Joe Casabona: It doesn’t make sense. So I sent the email… I assumed most of those people were going to churn anyway because the scope of the membership changed so much. I have a little automation when they churn. I put in-
Melodie Moore: You’ve duct-taped it?
Joe Casabona: Yeah. Do things that don’t scale, right? I created a custom field in ConvertKit that has their expiration date. And on that date, I say, “Hey, your membership is over. If you’d like to re-up, you have to do it through here.” I mean, knock on wood, it’s worked pretty well.
Melodie Moore: The reason why people like platforms is like, We won’t have to duct tape things together. And then you get in there and you’re like, “Oh, I want to do this thing and you have to duct tape it anyways.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. Honestly, you’re probably going to have to duct tape stuff unless you hire somebody to do a fully custom thing. Right?
Melodie Moore: Well, here’s the caveat with that. I work with our clients a lot, especially on our scaling clients, is what I call the talk off the ledge talks, where they get this great idea because as entrepreneurs, we love chaos. It’s like, “Why don’t we just change everything? This just feels a little bit too steady here.” And they’ll flag something up with my team and then my team will flag it up with me, and I’ll be like, “We should chat.”
And then we get on a call and I’m like, “Is this really something you want to do? Is there a simpler way to do it? Is this really a complexity you want to add? Is there a different way we can get this need for chaos out in a different way within your system without messing everything up?” The talk off the ledge talks.
Joe Casabona: I like that. I like that a lot. And you need it, right? I need it. I meet with a friend every week and he’s usually talking me off a ledge or keeping me on track because I get this idea, I had a thought over the weekend and I’m like, “Oh, maybe I should run with this.”
Melodie Moore: “That’s a great idea. This will be my next million dollars…”
Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly.
Melodie Moore: It’s like, “Maybe you should stay focused.”
Joe Casabona: “Maybe not.” By the way, I’m reading $100M Offers right now by Alex Hormozi.
Melodie Moore: I’ve got it right here.
Joe Casabona: Oh, nice. So that’s giving me even more ideas. And I’m really hoping at the end of this… I’m on like step five of six right now or step four of six. I really hope by step six I have one core idea. Because that’s the thing. He says, The Grand Slam Offer is take one thing.
Melodie Moore: So I think what he doesn’t talk about too much in that, though, is you got to test a bunch of offers. He does actually touch on it. You just try a bunch of things. And I love the quote from Western Churchill, which is “success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Of like, take your offer, try the offer, if it doesn’t work, okay, tweak it, tweak it, tweak it.” One of the things that Alex says a lot is I just don’t stop.
Joe Casabona: Yeah.
Melodie Moore: I like that because there’s so much that puts entrepreneurship up on a pedestal and a lot of entrepreneurship is you just don’t stop. You just keep trying and you keep trying. And a lot of the times it’s not going to work and you just keep going.
And when we’re thinking about designing technical systems and technical infrastructure, it’s like, how can we make it simple enough that it supports that functionality where we can keep iterating as quickly as possible to get to those successes and then double down on those successes?
Versus if you have these really inflexible systems, you have to rebuild everything in order to test your ideas. So we build out systems so that they are very flexible so that you can just keep iterating over and over again.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, I love that. I’m feeling that magic right now with my Podcast Liftoff Playbook.
Melodie Moore: Oh, Podcast Liftoff Playbook. Sounds great.
Joe Casabona: It’s like the Netflix of launching podcast videos. Full disclosure, they are a former sponsor of the show, but Paid Memberships Pro is the membership plugin I’m using there.
Melodie Moore: I love them.
Joe Casabona: If I had properly assigned jobs to all of my different little projects, more often than not, I would probably use that. Because you can disable and enable just the right amount of features. I’m tech-savvy and they give you code snippets for a lot of stuff that you want to try without bloating the actual plugin too much. I really like that. It’s been a very joyful experience for me managing that on the back end.
Melodie Moore: And they think about marketing a lot when they’re thinking about their plugin. The way they’ve designed it is very thoughtful.
Joe Casabona: Yes.
Melodie Moore: They’ve been around for a long time too. It shows the longevity. I like meeting the founders of plugin to get a kind of sense of like, what’s their personality? Because their personalities will play out in the plugin.
Joe Casabona: Yeah.
Melodie Moore: It’s weird, but it’s a part of them in some way.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I know Jason and Kim. We actually live like an hour from each other.
Melodie Moore: I didn’t know that.
Joe Casabona: Fun fact: Jason was the first guest on this podcast and he was my first friend at a WordCamp. I went to WordCamp Philly 2011. It was on my birthday.
Melodie Moore: 2011, wow.
Joe Casabona: My first WordCamp ever was WordCamp New York 2008 I think. But yeah, WordCamp Philly 2011. It was on my birthday and people at the afterparty found out and bought me a copious amount of drinks. And I don’t drink that much. I never drank that much.
Melodie Moore: Except for that night.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. So Jason very graciously drove me back to my hotel. And I’m like, “Oh, we’re going to be friends.” We’re still friends to this day.
Melodie Moore: He probably saved your life that night.
Joe Casabona: He very likely did. And I’m like, “This is so nice, man.” I’m a nice guy and I’m more nice when I’m intoxicated. I’m forever grateful. I think I bought him lunch at the next WordCamp that I saw him at.
Melodie Moore: Both of them are very, very gracious humans. I enjoy being around them.
Joe Casabona: They’re really great people. Whenever I hear ill will about them, I generally assume that I’m not getting the whole story. That’s generally panned out to be true. That’s neither here nor there. That’s very gossipy.
We’ve been talking for a while. We’re coming up on the end. So I guess let’s put a bow on the platform versus WordPress. Where are you in your business? You probably want to use a platform if you’re at the beginning of your testing stuff. I’m trying to think of the right way to word this. Because you don’t want to switch platforms too much, but you also don’t want to feel locked into a platform that’s not working for you. Right?
Melodie Moore: Mm-hmm.
Joe Casabona: So I guess what is maybe one or two tips…? I wish I asked you this beforehand so you had more time to think about it. Because I think about this a lot and I don’t know. What’s a good way to switch platforms without churning too many people over?
Melodie Moore: Have your subscriptions live somewhere that’s not connected to any platform. So one of the things that we’re looking at with this new plugin is that the subscriptions live on Stripe. So as long as it’s connected to Stripe, you can reconnect it to anywhere.
But if you’re using ConvertKit, you’re going to have to transfer all of the subscriptions over like any sort of solution like that. So know that if you start your subscriptions that that’s going to be the biggest pain point. A lot of the times when people are starting, we recommend you sell a course first and then go to that one times… See if you can sell that one-time thing first, get some traction, get some movement from that. And then once you have some money, then you can reinvest and maybe choose the platform or the solution that’s really going to work for you going forward.
Joe Casabona: Gosh, my friends, you just got… that was worth the price of admission right there. I know it’s a free podcast, but still that is just great, great advice. Because I think there’s two competing thoughts as we record this towards the beginning of 2023. I need a subscription model to make my business survive from the business point of view. But from the consumer point of view, it really feels like there’s subscription fatigue. So if you’re going to offer a subscription, it needs to be really compelling.
Melodie Moore: And when you’re first starting, you don’t have enough experience to really know what your people want. And the natural progression is that so the one-time thing and then give them a couple months free of the subscription you’re going to launch in 3 to 6 months.
The natural inclination is if you solve their problem beautifully within that one-time fee, they’re going to ask for more. So the other important thing is, talk to your people. Build out automation, keep your people close, especially when you’re first starting, and just keep it, “How can I help? What’s going on? Where are you trying to get to?” And just really keep that conversation going and build out your systems around that.
There’s a natural flow and momentum. If people just listened more and start trying to tell people what they think they need and just ask the question and listened more to what they actually want and didn’t ask, “Oh, so how do you fix that?” No. If they knew how they’d fix their problem, they would do it. They want you to fix their problem, which is-
Joe Casabona: I didn’t call a hot water heater guy… A little behind-the-scenes stuff. Melodie and I had to move this because our hot water heater went. I didn’t call the hot water heater guy because I knew how to fix my hot water heater.
Melodie Moore: No.
Joe Casabona: I was like, “You do it.” I said, “I tried to check the pilot light, but I couldn’t find it.” And he goes, “This is an electric water heater, so you don’t have a pilot light.” I’m like, “Great.” So you can basically charge me any amount of money and I’ll have no idea if it’s there or not. Perfect.
Melodie Moore: This is a great analogy for technology, too.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, for sure. But I love that. Talk to your people. Also, Episode 300 I did the top ten lessons I’ve learned over 300 episodes of How I Built It. Number two is talk to your people, like talk to your customers.
Melodie Moore: So basic but-
Joe Casabona: Same lesson. You need to.
Melodie Moore: Talk and listen.
Joe Casabona: Yes, talk and listen. Yes.
Melodie Moore: Ask the question and listen.
Joe Casabona: Don’t get them to confirm what you think.
Melodie Moore: No. Confirmation bias.
Joe Casabona: Learn what they need. Love that. As we come up on time here, there are two things that you wrote in the show notes document that I would love to get your perspective on. Maybe we can do a little lightning round right now.
Melodie Moore: Okay, cool. Let’s do it.
Joe Casabona: Three major mistakes content creators make and how you can avoid them. I don’t know if that’s lightning-round material.
Melodie Moore: I’ll make it lightning round. I’ll just give the high level. The number one thing is you act like a big business before you’re really there of I want to do upsells and down sales and there’ll be three different versions of my offer. Keep it as simple as you possibly can.
There’s a tool that I got from a company that I’m working with called Visionary CEO, and they do this practice where it’s like, Write down your offer on one side of the simplest form, and then on the right side of your page, all the ways you can complicate it.
Joe Casabona: And I love that.
Melodie Moore: It’s a way for you to be able to keep track of all the things that you can do in the future, but really just focus on what that core is. Because the number one thing that’s going to lead you to failure is just not selling. You can solve all your other problems. But if you do not have money coming in, if you’re not solving the problem of your people, then nothing else really matters. So keep it as simple as possible when you start.
Joe Casabona: I love it. This is not built for lightning rounds. But the way that I’ve been putting it in my head, which is one of my goals for this year is stop answering questions people aren’t asking.
Melodie Moore: Oh, that’s good.
Joe Casabona: That’s how I keep myself tethered to keeping it simple. “Oh, well, I could do this.” And what if it doesn’t scale? No. You know what? Set up a product in whatever, the easiest payment process you know how to use, see if people buy it. Set up a presale page, see if people buy it.
Melodie Moore: Mm-hmm. Which leads to actually my second one of you need to have it finished before you try to sell it. And I’ve seen a number of successful sites start from we’re going to… This is what I’m offering. We’re gonna do five or four live Zoom calls. And those live Zoom calls then become your recorded content that you create for your course of sell it before you have it. It also puts the fire under your butt to create your content.
Joe Casabona: Yes. And it tells you if no one wants it, right?
Melodie Moore: Yeah.
Joe Casabona: I pre-sold a course that I thought was going to just be killer. Four people bought it. And I was like, “You know what? You’re all getting refunds. Sorry, nobody wants this.”
Melodie Moore: It’s the age-old Addison quote of I have 100 ways not to build a light bulb. If no one buys it, you don’t make that like a failure. Make it like, “Well, now I know what they don’t want.”
Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I love that.
Melodie Moore: And then makes it so that you can find what it is that you do want. Three is that, and this could be number one, no technology, no person, no business provider is going to solve all your problems. You are going to have to deal with the tech. And you need to carve out time and understand that. You might not have to spend all of your time on it, but understand that you need to spend some time getting to know your tech, especially when you’re starting out of to be able to speak intelligently about what it is that you’re running.
The successful business owners that we know delved in at least to a certain degree when they were starting enough that they knew the right questions to ask. They didn’t need to be experts in it. But if you just try to hand it off and just get somebody else to take care of it, you are going to get taken advantage of, and people will not do what they say they’re going to do. Not because they’re bad people, but because sometimes they just don’t know any better, too.
Joe Casabona: I love that. I love that. I don’t know if they still do this, but Automattic for a while made all of their new hires work for two weeks in customer support.
Melodie Moore: I hope they still do because it’s a really good experience.
Joe Casabona: It feels like something that’s definitely part of the fabric of their company. I mean, Matt Mullenweg says, I mean… he says that he’ll jump in to support sometimes.
Melodie Moore: That’d be crazy.
Joe Casabona: I know, right? They post screenshots on Twitter sometimes and be like, “Look, I’m doing support.” And I’m like, “Is this for show or are you actually…” It’s weird if it’s just for show.
Melodie Moore: He strikes me as somebody that wouldn’t do it just for show.
Joe Casabona: No, I’m sure he actually does it. So anyway. So that’s cool. I love that. The mistakes. Acting like a big business before you are or before you’re there. The number two mistake is that you feel like you need to have a finished product before you sell it.
And number three is that no tech or provider is going to solve all of your problems. So you need to have some level of understanding. Again, going back to the House analogy, you know, there’s like one of the boards rotted out on my deck and I’m like, All right, well, I understand what I need and I know that… I can’t just have somebody here telling me all of the things that I need to do for my house. That would be wild. So I need to understand at least what my house needs to mitigate those things.
Melodie Moore: What I try to do in all of my content is to develop content that is like the “what you need to know” version of content. So, you don’t need to know everything about this. But if you’re going to be dealing with this, if you’re going to be managing this, this is what you need to know about this. So you don’t need to get your PhD in it.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, I love that. And then the last thing, the dirty little lie that will slow you down, cause you stress, and take away from creating content.
Melodie Moore: It’s going to be perfect at some point in time.
Joe Casabona: It’s going to be perfect at some point in time. Love that.
Melodie Moore: It doesn’t matter. Every business… you just get different problems, you get bigger problems as you scale. You get bigger and different problems. You know, I hate the cliché but enjoy the process. Again, success is going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm. And enjoy the process.
And in order to be able to do that, set yourself realistic goals, not goals that are done by coaches. A coach is going to say, “You should scale to 2 million or 20 million this year because it makes their $40,000 coaching program make sense.” But know where you’re coming from. Set realistic, easy goals for yourself when you’re starting that are achievable so that way you can enjoy the process. Because it is a process. I got an email from a client today. Twenty five years in business, it’s the first time he’s taking a week off with unplugging.
Joe Casabona: Wow. That’s amazing. I love that. I want to tell the story, but I want to end it on that note. So, Melodie, this has been amazing. If people want to learn more about you, and they should, where can they find you?
Melodie Moore: You can find us at businesstechninjas.com. I post quite regularly on Instagram stories as well. And then we’re getting up in the YouTube, the YouTubes, as to the older people call it now. And I do a lot of video content around that with the what you need to know, trying to keep it short, sweet. Like what do you actually need to know, not a ten-minute video that gives you a PhD in WordPress.
Joe Casabona: Nice. I love that. I will link to all of that and everything we talked about over on howibuilt.it/311. That is going to be where the show notes are. You can also sign up for How I Built It Pro there to get the pre-show. That is members-only.
Melodie Moore: You should definitely do that.
Joe Casabona: You should definitely do that. Because you’ll also get it ad free. You know that big long ad break you heard in the middle. You can skip that if you just pay five bucks a month or 50 bucks a year.
Melodie Moore: Think of the time you’re going to save with that too.
Melodie Moore: It’s been a smash. I wish we could be on here for hours.
Joe Casabona: Likewise. But it’s very nice for both of us right now. I’m going to go outside at least.
Melodie Moore: I think I might take my dog for a walk.
Joe Casabona: Nice. Very nice. Thank you so much for listening. Thanks to our sponsors, Gap Scout, LearnDash, and Groundhogg. Until next time, get out there and build something.