Teaching People How to Use WordPress Plugins with Matt Medeiros

How I Built It
How I Built It
Teaching People How to Use WordPress Plugins with Matt Medeiros

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In this episode, Matt and I discuss how he built PluginTut, coming up with content, choosing the right tools for the job, and more!

Show Notes


Joe Casabona: Hey, everybody. Today’s episode is brought to you by two sponsors. The first is BrandBucket. Deciding on a name and securing the appropriate domain is often a struggle for entrepreneurs and startups. Endless hours are spent brainstorming names and attempting to find that perfect name. BrandBucket helps you solve that problem so you can spend your time solving more pressing ones. BrandBucket is the largest marketplace of curated creative business names with a [.com] domain. Names are pronounceable, easy to remember, catchy, and short. Best of all, they’re all guaranteed at a fixed available price so there’s no need to go through the arduous task of price negotiations. Each name also comes with a high-quality logo, ready to use as soon as you purchase. How I Built It listeners can go to brandbucket.com/howibuiltit to get started. And for a limited time, you will get a $75 and Envato marketplace gift card with the purchase of a name. 

This episode is also brought to you by Hoban cards. Hoban Cards is a tiny letterpress printing shop located in Shayla’s Washington. Evan, Ben, and Claire work hard hand feeding three antique letterpresses. They specialize in minimal custom letterpress printed calling cards, and stationary. I can personally vouch for them. I recently had cards created by Hoban cards and they are some of the finest quality I’ve ever had. They are absolutely excellent. You can go to the show notes and take a look at them. I absolutely love them. If you need calling cards or stationery for your business, head over to hobancards.com.

 And now, on with the show.

Hey everybody. Welcome to How I Built It, a podcast that asks, “How did you build that?” My guest today is Matt Medeiros of PluginTut and the Matt Report. Matt, thanks for joining me.

Matt Medeiros: Joe, it’s always a pleasure to join the radio waves with you.

Joe Casabona: Yes, absolutely. So, Matt and I have recorded quite a few episodes of his podcast PluggedIn Radio together. So we get on these recordings pretty regularly. So, today, we are going to talk all about PluginTut, and kind of how you came up with the idea, and some of the successes, and some of the pitfalls that you’ve had with that. So let’s just jump right into it. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your product, and how you came up with the idea?

Matt Medeiros: Yeah. So let’s see. It really started sort of getting into podcasting and doing YouTube. Started probably about five or, about five years ago. And that started with the Matt Report. The idea of the Matt Report, which is just an audio-only podcast. Now it used to be video, used to be YouTube.  But then it sort of spilled over to some other products that I create, that are more traditional, like plugins and themes for my company. 

And we spun up a YouTube channel specifically for the product space. And we spent a lot of time on YouTube. We spent a lot of money producing stuff with, you know, just buying like video cameras, lighting equipment, spending the time creating these shows, and really saw some good traction. Right. So, you know, the advantage to, you know, connecting with the audience on YouTube is probably fairly obvious at this point is, you know, if they like what you’re saying, and you’re teaching them something, and you’re getting right to the point, they’re going to either be a customer or at least the loyal fan to kind of spread the word. But over the years, the studio has taken a different route. Right? So now we’re just doing more traditional client services and, you know, just getting into bigger projects. So that type of client, they’re not on YouTube, like watching our fun WordPress videos anymore. 

So PluginTut is sort of taking from what we were doing over there with product reviews and WordPress tutorials. And just doing it under a sort of my own personal brand, because most folks were connecting with videos that way with me. And it’s not a topic that I want to put into the Matt Report ecosystem because that’s much more about the business, the entrepreneur journey. You know, and just having conversations with people on how to build their businesses, versus let me teach you how to use, you know, BeaverBuilder or something like that. So that’s where the idea of PluginTut was sort of was born from.

Joe Casabona: Cool. Very cool. And so you’re in a, like a fairly competitive space, right? There’s like the invited tutorials and stuff like that. I don’t know why I said it like that with like such disdain. I didn’t mean to say it like that. But I mean, there are a lot of tutorials and stuff like that, so, you know, and did you kind of do any research? It sounds like you were kind of already doing this before. But how did you want to position yourself kind of differently? I guess.

Matt Medeiros: Yeah. So,  when I was young, I always wanted to be a YouTuber. No, just kidding. What I’ve found really over the years of doing this stuff is that the audience, it really depends on your audience and how well that they can relate to you. Right? So, you know, if you’re doing tutorials and teaching people how to do stuff, and I’m doing tutorials and teaching people how to do stuff, people are going to, for the most part, find the person that they’d like to follow. They might follow both of us, in fact. There are some, you know, there’s like 10% of people who are just diehard consume all of this information. They’re willing to learn from everyone all the time. And they might subscribe to you, to both of us. Right. But a majority of them are going to stick with your voice and the way that you approach things. And the same thing with me. They’ll stick with my voice and how I approach things. So I’m not really worried about the degree of, you know, big-name competition. I mean, there’s plenty of people out there doing things, and here’s a fun story. Like I did a tutorial on just learning, like again, the pitfalls of like learning what happens when you let your voice come out. Right. So I did a quick overview video of everyone’s favorite theme called Divi. And I think you and I talked about this off-air. I mean, they’re the people that use Divi, and the people that watch that video, you know, just criticizing me and leaving me crazy comments because I criticize the product. Right. And that’s my own voice coming through like somebody who does WordPress with air quotes in the air, the right way. You know, using a product like Divi, it feels a little dirty, Right? And it doesn’t feel right to a degree. So I let that shine through a little bit and criticized the product, not even that bad, in fact. And it’s just like an outrage of comments. So, definitely see the ups and downs of letting your personality come through in YouTube or audio clips. But just knowing that look, people are still going to associate with me. And in fact, that video has brought me 75. now 75 subs to the channel. So for all the haters out there, I got literally, let’s see, there’s probably about 14, like bad comments. That’s like, what? Like four or five times the amount of subscribers from it. So, not bad.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Very nice. That’s great. And I mean, we talked about this on, I think your podcast, you know, it’s voice matters. So even if other people are saying the same thing, they’re not saying it in your voice. So that’s, I mean, that’s a good point.

Matt Medeiros: That’s correct.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Cool. So, you know, we talk a lot about a whole bunch of different things. But we don’t really talk business advice with each other, you know, like a little bit here and there. But are their people that you do like to go to for business advice or, is it mostly, and like, I think we met through Post Status or like Sink like linked up here with Post Status. So, you know, where do you go for advice? I guess?

Matt Medeiros: Number one, I have two, I will have two answers to this. Number one is, all the guests I have on my podcast is me selfishly asking the questions because I’m just generally interested to learn, you know, their types of things. And, today’s episode that went out, which is the finale of Season Three is Nathan Barry of ConvertKit. And that was just a tremendous, just a tremendous lesson for me. Right. But just the way he approached things on launching a product.

But number two, I listened to your past episodes as well in a lot of folks said that they’re part of a mastermind. I’m part of a mastermind as well, with some fairly successful WordPress product people. And, you know, we meet every other Friday, and sometimes like right now we’re doing some guests,  people come on to talk to us even though it’s the same six of us that meet every other week. Now we’re bringing on some people, some outsiders to just talk about their business and sort of being like put them on the hot seat and ask them questions. And these are people that are much more successful than we are. And sort of getting the download from them. But masterminds, mastermind is my podcast. Really?

Joe Casabona: Yeah, man. Masterminds are like, I’ll tell you what. I started this podcast for the same reason. It sounds like you have your podcast. I was asking people for advice and, about how to kind of take the direction of another project of mine. And I thought, “Man, it would be cool to like to publish these conversations. And, and so I find that our community, like the WordPress community in general, is really generous with their advice.” Cause I mean, I’m a mastermind with a couple of people. One of them is not in WordPress, but it sounds like you guys are all kind of in the same space, and you could be competitors, but you are sharing information and helping each other out.

Matt Medeiros: Sure. And just something that I want to add to that sort of nugget of, you know, some nugget of advice here is, you know, one of the things that cause you to bring up WordPress, and WordPress most folks are very generous with their knowledge, and their helpful advice.  A lot of folks also get caught up in reading like transparency reports. And Rob Walling who’s a past guest on the show, you know, from drip, and other email marketing automation services. In fact, you know, he talked about how he sort of doesn’t do the transparency reports anymore. Right. And it doesn’t sort of share that information because he’s actually been burned in the past with sharing too much information. And I mentioned that not as like a dangerous like a warning, but just sort of something that says that sort of even validates masterminds, even more, that you’re in a group of people that you trust. Right. So you can share that information. It’s one thing to like to help somebody out in the WordPress space. But when it comes to business, like you said, some of us can be competitors. And in fact, some of the people in my mastermind are also service providers and we’ve been on the same project, not knowing until afterward. So it’s important that you trust the people in your mastermind. That’s really what makes a mastermind work really well and making sure that people are dedicated to it as well. That’s like number two: like they have to show up every week or else it just becomes, you know, it just doesn’t fit, the validation falls through

Joe Casabona: Yeah. That, I mean, that’s so big that you trust the people that you talked to. The Rob Walling episode is a really good one. So if you guys are looking for something to listen to after this episode, definitely check that out over at the [mattreport.com]. Or is it MattReport or Mattreport.com?

Matt Medeiros: Just mattreport.com.

Joe Casabona: All right. So that’s a really excellent episode. I just listened to that the other day, actually. So awesome. And finding a group of people you trust is really important. And I’m lucky that everybody on my show has been people that either I look up to or I trust. And, so it’s, it really makes talking to people a lot easier. So now, just as a precursor to this next question, you are in the service, you do service and products. Do you do a lot of coding and stuff like that?

Matt Medeiros: Absolutely. Zero.

Joe Casabona: All right. Gotcha. But you do like, sell themes and stuff like that through another, through like Slocum Studios. Is that right?

Matt Medeiros: Yeah, that’s correct. So Slocum Studios, the agency and the services, local themes are the themes. And then the Conductor Plugin is our content builder plugin.

Joe Casabona: Gotcha. Okay. So you do know coding, you’re the brain behind it, and then you kind of contract this workout. Is that?

Matt Medeiros: Yeah. I have three full-time employees and they work as they, you know, they work on the services side of the house, a majority of the time. And then, whenever we have a breathing moment, we’ll work on the product side. A much more focused on the plugin at the moment, and not so much on the themes. Although we did recently release a theme, it was actually released almost a year ago, but it finally got approved on [.org]. So, there’s that. 

Joe Casabona: Nice. Cool. So, this is going to be a really interesting question. I’m going to, I’m very curious to hear you answer this thing. So for plugins, how did you build it? Because you have the site, you have the videos, and you do the podcasts. Like I’d be really interested. And hopefully, the listeners will too to hear what kind of tools you use to make all of that happen?

Matt Medeiros: Yeah. I do have a blog post. I started the draft when I started building it out. Because what I realized was, you know, setting a deadline like a plugin is the first sort of web property. Well, I shouldn’t say this, but recent in the last few years I’ve launched with a precise plan. And even that hasn’t gone exactly to the team. But, when I sat down with it, I said, “Look, I’m going to make this as precise as possible.” I don’t want to mess around with a theme, you know, tweaking every bit of everything that I want, how I want it to look, and all that stuff. So, what I did was I looked at my themes, and none of them are really geared towards sort of the magazine or, sort of news type of a layout. Very much of the stuff that we produce is much more small business and traditional portfolio sites. 

So what I did is I went over to Mike McAlister’s site array.is, I had him on the podcast as well, Array themes. And I picked up, I forget the name of it off the top of my head, but it was one of his latest themes, probably the one that’s just behind the one he just released. And, I use that because I really enjoyed the topography, the layout, the style of it. And I had another friend, Chris Lynn Gilly, who created the logo for me. And he’s again, another gentleman that I’ve had on the podcast before. And,  he did me a favor, hook me up with a logo for PluggedIn Radio and PluginTut. So the idea behind that was, let’s not waste time. Let’s not waste time on tweaking designs. Like, yes, I could have used my Baton theme and I could have changed the styling, but honestly, I’m in a position where I just didn’t have enough time to do that.  And nor did it really fit the, you know, fit the need. I had to take my own advice and tell somebody, “Look at this. You’re picking a theme because it should do like 90% of what you want.” If you start changing more than that 10%, you have to find another theme like you know, Crunch. So that’s what I did. 

And then I spent a considerable amount of time just setting up all of the social sites and branding all of that stuff. So just getting that logo and going through, and creating all of, you know, all of the media assets for every social network. The avatars, the cover photos, you know, the eight by 800 by 800 dimension for whatever, right? Like all of these different sites that you have to go and set your logos on to set them all up. And I use Canva for that. canva.com, it’s a sort of like an online image manipulation service, right? Or like a Photoshop online kind of thing. So they have all these templates for Facebook and Twitter, and SoundCloud and all that stuff, iTunes. So I went through and I created all of the assets for that. And I just said, “Look, what is PluginTut? It’s a home for WordPress tutorials, right?” A handcrafted WordPress tutorial is sort of my spin on it, right? You know, this isn’t a content farm of, you know, ghostwriters who come in and just whip up, you know, 37 roofing company themes which I can’t even believe there is, but there is. So this is me taking my time, doing it sort of handcrafted, and taking my time on each one.

And PluggedIn Radio, you know, the spin of look, I talked to plugin developers and had them demonstrate their product. Like just come on the rate cars, come on the air with me and say, “Here’s what my plugin does. This is who it’s best suited for. And let me show you how to use it in a sort of as much as I can, in the middle of the road, not trying to sell it, but present it.” Present it and tell us who it’s best fit for. And, you know, and putting all of that stuff together in terms of the branding is just isolating PluginTut.com for, you know, the written tutorials and youtube.com/PluginTut for just the video tutorials. Right? Of course, you connect them back, you know, you connect them to each other through posts and whatnot. But just setting up those two silos and getting right to work and starting with, you know, thinking back now, this is the beginning of July. So I was, I think I pre-drafted or drafted three pieces on or three or four blog posts on Jetpack. One gigantic 3000-word post on selecting the best plugin. And just sort of seated all this content. So that day that I launched, I was thinking to myself, “Oh Dear God. I have to now go and write all of this content.” But you know, what I used to do was actually Google docs. You know, unfortunately, I can’t find a good way to switch between my desktop and my laptop and opening up WordPress and drafting. I like to do everything in Google docs. Plus I have an editor and she goes through and sort of cleans it up and gets it sort of published ready. And that’s what I liked. And so I launched, I launched with that, and I also pre-recorded four or five episodes of PluginTut or PluggedIn Radio and get that ready to go to. Cause again, I didn’t want to be stuck thinking, “oh geez, I’ve launched. Now I have to go create this content.” Try to save myself a little bit there and get all this content ready. 

And from there, I really, you know, I just did a show on tools on blogging. I didn’t install a lot of plugins on PluginTut. It’s, you know, Jetpack, Yoast, you know, the traditional stuff. Nothing crazy that I can think of OptinMonster for, you know, for capturing the email leads and stuff like that. And you know, I don’t even know what PowerPress is for the podcast side of the house. And YouTube and just YouTube embeds, really at this point, you know, nothing crazy in terms of how I actually built the site.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. So, it’s really content-driven. And I think that’s a really great takeaway is that we’ve had a lot of developers on the show so far. We’ve had people who have like really developer-centric products. But I mean, you’ve got something out there and you’re just, you found the tools you need. I love that you didn’t spend a whole lot of time tweaking the theme, like WP in one month is a BeaverBuilder site because I didn’t want to, I was more focused on writing the content than on developing the theme, even though I can do that. Right. So, you know, the fact that you have content ready to go and you have your, you know, the reason you’re doing this, and that kind of guides you is I think really, really great advice for anybody who wants to start their own project online. 

Matt Medeiros: Honestly, you know, I would even say if you’re thinking of anything in content and growing an audience, I’d almost like you really have to focus. Because here’s a quick sort of story of what went on in my head.

In probably the second month going into it, I did start to fall behind on creating blog posts. And I still do to some degree to the point where I was almost like, you know what, maybe I shouldn’t have built the blog first, and I should have just built the YouTube channel first. And I guess what I’m getting at here is finding what you’re naturally good at, like the one thing, like you can bang out in an afternoon. And for me, it’s just creating videos.  Because for the most part, you know, if you’re not, if you’re somebody who’s not having to edit all the time and you’re not doing a lot of outtakes or, you don’t really care about that kind of thing, creating a video for me is so much easier and faster to upload it to YouTube than to sit down and, you know, draft 600, 900 1200 words to a tutorial.

Joe Casabona: Conventionally. It’s the exact opposite for me. I can bang on a blog post in an hour and it takes me like four hours to do something like a 20-minute video or a 10-minute video. 

Matt Medeiros: Yeah. You know, to the point where I was almost like, you know, I really, maybe I should just switch it and say that you know, a PluginTut is really just a YouTube video for right now.  But I’m still hanging on, hanging on with it. 

Joe Casabona: Nice, nice. So it sounds like your kind of thinking about this transformation. You just started in July. So, you’re still kind of finding your grasp, but I’m going to combine the last two questions here. Right? How’s your product gone through any transformation since its first launch? What are your plans for the future? Cause it sounds like your plans could be the next transformation if there’s any. 

Matt Medeiros: Yeah. So I mean, one of the things that is sort of embedded in the content, and one of the things I had told myself, in the beginning, was, so the reason why I don’t do tutorials on Matt Report is because again, it’s just business, right? That’s what I want it to be. And I didn’t want folks to, I don’t want that content to be mixed up, right. Because I have a lot of opinions about WordPress. I have a lot of opinions about products, and how people do things. And I didn’t want that message or that signal to be crossed through the Matt Report. But it’s also like, I can’t avoid it. It’s like none of those things where it’s just like, my opinion always comes through. And even when I’m doing a tutorial, I’ll catch myself saying, “Well, I wish they would’ve done it. You know, I wish I would’ve done this or they would’ve worded it differently” or that kind of thing.

So what I really think I might do is in terms of transitioning the content of PluginTut is, I haven’t thought it fully through yet. But I might just preface something by saying like, there’s a lot of opinion in this piece. This might not be a tutorial. This might be my actual review. Like I didn’t really do reviews. I wanted to just teach you how to use something. And that really came to light again when I did the Divi video, and I let my emotions get a hold of me. so I might sort of spin that a little bit.

But the other thing that’s coming is maybe, just some more focused, you know, tutorials on the site, you know, more traditional courses. That again, still isn’t something that is fully fleshed out yet, but finding ways to get somebody more, just, you know, engaged with taking a tutorial, right? So a pass or fail, that kind of thing. I don’t want to do membership stuff. I’ve already done that with the Matt Report. It’s not something I’m really interested in, but what can I do to get somebody to, you know, “take a course” and just feel like they got something out of it. Even if it was just like learning how to install the plugin at its base level, they felt sort of empowered. And they can sort of tell people that now I know how to do this. So that’s something I’m exploring at this point.

Joe Casabona: Cool. That sounds awesome. And, so we kind of like a sidebar question, I guess, and, feel free to say as little, or as much as you want about this, but,  you know, the previous interviews have been with kind of product people or service people. It’s very clear how they have a profitable thing, right. I know making money blogging can be tough. Can you talk about the kind of like the challenges? You know, you don’t have to say numbers obviously, but I’m interested in how you approach going about making money with this? If you don’t mind.

Matt Medeiros: Listen. Absolutely. This is my favorite topic, right? So, you know, here’s the thing. Again, I’m going to go back to that sort of Divi scenario, because again, this is sort of my, okay. So I’ll tell you how I’m gonna monetize the block. So one: Affiliates, right? Two: Direct ad sales. Three: Maybe some kind of professional service. I don’t know what that is. Maybe something like we just chatted about. So I got these three sorts of revenue models sort of outlined. And this is my first, again, air quotes, affiliate type thing, where I’m actually using affiliate links, disclosing it, that kind of thing. But saying that it’s, I’m only supporting the products that I feel will also support the end-user. Right? So while he might not like a product again, like a Divi, I feel like the product team behind Divi, they’re not going anywhere. They’re not trying to rip anybody off. Like I see with a lot of internet marketing companies. So even though I might not use it for my own projects, I might use an affiliate link to help teach somebody how to use it, maybe the right way, and caution them, that kind of thing. Anyway, I’ve been doing that since the start. I made 43 bucks, not just off of Divi, but just off my whole collective amount of affiliate links throughout the site. 

So I made it. I tweeted the other day, like as a joke, you know, follow me as I try to 10 X that journey just to pay for insurance. You know, that’s the life of sort of a content marketing entrepreneur.

The other thing is direct ad sales. And I think that this is an area in the WordPress industry that is going to get real interesting real soon, in terms of competitiveness and who’s really, you know, scoring the bigger bucks. I’m already into the five, well into the five figures of sponsorship for a PluginTut and PluggedIn Radio. I just got my second sort of flagship content partner,  yesterday,  plugging eyes,  by web studios. So securing folks that I know that provides a great, number one: have a great product. Number two: they can back it up in terms of support and coding. And number three: that I know will be around for a little while.  and number four: that they’re actually people that are out in the community. Helping the WordPress community is very important. Because this is my, to me Anyway, I look at ad spots as, again, my voice saying, I recommend this product. Like if all of a sudden, E-cigarettes wanted to sponsor my show, I’d probably say no, like I have, you know, I don’t care really how much money you were giving me. I have no [Crosstalk 27:06.00]  like that.

Joe Casabona: Right. And it’s your reputation, right? And your word is your word is gold as far as people who listen to you. And you don’t want to diminish that.

Matt Medeiros: Yeah. That’s correct. So, you know, those are the three areas that I’m pursuing in terms of monetization. Again, sort of affiliate sales, direct ad sales and sponsorships.

And then kind of looking for a professional service, maybe more towards the, you know, the plugin developers or product developers that are out there. I don’t know exactly what that is yet, but it might, you know, coming sooner or later.

Joe Casabona: Nice. That’s awesome. And I think again, that’s really sound advice for anybody who wants to get into the content side of things. Because that stuff is by no way easy. I’m doing the same thing for this podcast and WP in One Month. And you just kind of grind it out. And you know, if people, if your sponsors trust you as a person and the stuff that you’re putting out, then, then it’ll do well for you. I think. So We’re coming up at the end of time. So we’re going to wrap up with my favorite question and the one that always takes people by surprise because it’s not in the regular numbered list. And that is, do you have any trade secrets for us?

Matt Medeiros: Let’s see. Trade secrets. Well, I can tell you that one piece of advice, you know, especially if you’re looking to connect with other people in the WordPress space. And even maybe get into content marketing or, content monetization services is number one: It’s going to take time. Number two: you have to do a phenomenal job. Not every piece of content has to be phenomenal, but you do have to show up consistently. And that’s really the key to it. And direct sales and marketing is the key to any business.

And I don’t care how many systems or automation you put in place or keywords you buy up, or Facebook ads you invest in. Sales is the lifeline of the business and you have to be confident enough to go out there and make those sales, and connect with people. And what’s the worst they can say is “No.” Right.

Joe Casabona: Exactly. That’s man, that’s such great advice. Absolutely.

Matt Medeiros: I guess my trade secret was I grew up in car sales, so I’m not afraid to ask people.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. I mean that’s something I just learned recently, like, just ask. If they say no, they say no. And maybe you put a like in, you know, you gave them an earworm and they’ll think about it later and be like, “Hey, that is a good podcast here. That is a good blog.” You know, I would like to support that blog. So, that is, I mean, that is excellent. Excellent advice. So, cool. Matt, thank you very much for joining me. 

If you want to find more of Matt online, you can go to mattreport.com or plugintut.com or any place else they can find you. Lots of other places.

Matt Medeiros: I think if you just search for Matt Medeiros on  Google, you will find me, there is an ex VP of Dell and Cisco systems. And I sometimes actually get his emails and, you know, yeah. I’ve got some pretty good offers from fortune 500 companies before. 

Joe Casabona: Nice. Well, that’s very nice for you, probably surprising for them. But, anyway, thanks to everybody for listening. Thanks to our sponsor’s BrandBucket and Hoban cards.

And until next week. Get out there, and build something.

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