If you’ve ever wondered what goes into creating a fantastic affiliate program, Lindsey Miller from Liquid Web has the answers for you, starting with one simple rule: your affiliates are partners. We talk about lots of stuff like content creation and working with your partners to help them help you. We also discuss how to come up with rates. Don’t miss this episode!
- Lindsey Miller | Twitter
- Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting
- Episode 4: Cory Miller and iThemes
- This is Marketing
- Chris Lema and Managed WooCommerce Hosting
- Kolbe Personality Test
- iThemes Training
- iThemes Hosting
Check out my online courses tech stack.
Intro: Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode 123 of How I Built It. Today my guest is Lindsey Miller, the partner marketing manager of LiquidWeb. In this episode, I’m excited to get into the nitty-gritty of LiquidWeb’s partnership program. As somebody who’s part of a lot of affiliate programs and somebody who runs his own affiliate program, Lindsey’s insight is incredible, because a lot of affiliate marketing managers will say that they have a partner program. But I take a pretty hard line in that if you’re giving me a link to share, and I’m doing all the work, that is not a partnership program. You’re just paying me a commission. You are doing no work, I am doing all the work, and you’re paying me a small fee to do that work. But it is different in the case of Lindsey Miller and LiquidWeb. As a member of their partnership program, I can tell you that they work directly with their partners to write content for them, to do webinars with them, and to, in general, help them increase sales. It’s what I really like to see out of a partnership program, and if I continue my affiliate program in earnest moving forward, I am definitely going to take a lot from this episode. Lindsey has a lot of really great information for us, and I think that you will enjoy this whether you are part of a partner program or an affiliate program, or if you run your own. There’s lots of stuff to glean here. Be sure to stay until the end of the episode as I’ll be talking about the part two of how I built my tech stack from my podcast course. I’ll be talking about WooCommerce, something that LiquidWeb does very well. Without further ado, let’s get to the interview with Lindsey. Of course, that’s after a word from our sponsors.
Break: This episode is brought to you by Plesk. Do you spend too much time doing server admin work, and not enough time building websites? Plesk helps you manage servers, websites, and customers in one dashboard. Helping you do those tasks up to 10 times faster than manually coding everything. Let me tell you, I recently checked out their new and improved WordPress toolkit, and I was super impressed by how easy it was to Spin Up new WordPress sites, clone sites, and even manage multiple updates to themes and plugins. With the click of one button, I was able to update all of my WordPress sites. I was incredibly impressed by how great their WordPress toolkit is. You can learn more and try Plesk for Freemius today at Plesk.com/build.
Joe Casabona: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, “How did you build that?” Today my guest is Lindsey Miller, a good friend, and the partner marketing manager at LiquidWeb. Lindsey, how are you today?
Lindsey Miller: I’m great. Thanks for having me on, Joe.
Joe: Thanks for coming on the show. We met once, but we have seen each other several times. Most memorable for me, I think is CaboPress a couple of years ago, because I feel like we had good bonding time there.
Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely. It’s easy to bond with you, though. Who couldn’t just fall in love with you immediately?
Joe: You are going to make me blush, but it’s the same for you. You are a fantastic person. I’m very excited to have you on the show talking about affiliate programs. Why don’t we start there? With a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Lindsey: I have been around WordPress for a few years now. I was laughing, because I was at WordCamp Phoenix this last weekend, and that was my very first WordCamp in 2010. I’ve been on the periphery of WordPress for a while, and then officially as far as getting paid directly, I started two years ago making money in hosting at LiquidWeb and with WordPress. I took a much deeper dive into it than just hanging out with a bunch of cool WordPress people.
Joe: That’s fantastic. So, when you joined– Actually because I already know this and I think it’s interesting, what did you do before you got professionally into the WordPress space?
Lindsey: Thinking way back in the day, I was a political consultant mostly focused on political fundraising in the state of Oklahoma. I liked it. I didn’t set out to do that, but you know how you fall backwards into things. I think a lot of people in politics, that’s what they do, and they don’t choose that it just happens. But I did that for several years, and then I did a little bit of a stint in the nonprofit space, where we created something called The Div, teaching kids to code in Oklahoma. Then I went more into work over at iThemes and LiquidWeb. But I’ve said this– Especially the last several months as more of my past work history has come up, it was that time in politics that set me up for success in roles that I do now.
Joe: Nice. That’s perfect because I was going to ask you that. First, your primary responsibilities over at LiquidWeb is to manage affiliates or work with LiquidWeb partners?
Lindsey: It’s changed a little bit over the last couple of years. I first came on to start building our influencer network of WordPress and people working in WordPress, bring them on board, let them take our products for a spin, see what they thought and then go from there. You know how we do in WordPress. Creating some feel-good relationships and telling them a little bit about LiquidWeb. LiquidWeb has been around for over 20 years, so they are almost as old as I am, and they have been around for a long time. They’re the new people to the managed WordPress hosting space and managed WooCommerce hosting at that. So we had a lot of work to do, and we wanted to create good relationships and not put a lot of pressure on people to say “You have to like this, or you can’t be our friends anymore.” So I started doing that, and then in the fall, I moved over to our strategic alliances and partner team. I was on the product team, and now I’m over here working in this more streamlined role of “What are some strategic alliances and the WordPress space that we can go after and work towards to promote everybody?” Partners and affiliates are also part of that role. So, “How can I build up, not just within WordPress influencers, but people just working in the WordPress space and help both sides of that?” That’s what– A long answer, a long answer, but that’s what I do.
Joe: That’s great. That makes a lot of sense. Full disclosure, I am part of that influencer network. LiquidWeb is one of the few affiliate programs where I actively participate in because I’m not admittedly the best at affiliate marketing. Maybe that’s some stuff that we could talk about today. As we move into how you’re managing these strategic partnerships and this influencer network, how did your background in politics and working in the nonprofit space help you become better at that position?
Lindsey: When I think of affiliate marketing in my head, I always think of people using coupons and optimizing their content page and just trying to make sure that their page is at the top of Google. That’s what we think of, and I think combining more– Not nonprofit, but more my politics and then also just my knowledge of WordPress, has been why we’ve been able to be successful. Because in politics, you pay attention to a lot of people, not just the one on the stage. It’s all very relational, and you go, “OK. You may not be the one speaking today, and you may not be the one the fundraiser is for, you’re just coming here to hear that person. But oh my gosh, I just found out that you also have a very influential business and you like my candidate, therefore I’m going to pay attention to you and get to know you better.” That’s how you’re successful in politics, especially in fundraising for politics, is knowing everyone, not just a few people. Then on top of that, in WordPress, what do we do best? We help people, we’re just nice, and we’re just good, and we help them build their business. Full disclosure, and Joe, you know this, your listeners may not, but I’m married to Cory Miller, and literally, the motto of his company is “Make people’s lives awesome.” Cory and I have been together for almost ten years now. That’s my WordPress background, just being helpful, and then my politics background says, “You want to be helpful to everybody, not just to the quote unquote most important people.” So that’s how I’ve applied that to what I do now, and why I think LiquidWeb is becoming very successful in that space in WordPress.
Joe: That’s fantastic. Absolutely. I will link to Cory Miller’s episode of How I Built It. He very graciously came on in the super early days, I was like, “You want to be on my show?” He was like, “Absolutely.” I’m like, “I have no listeners.” I feel like he helped me get my start, a little bit. He was, I think, the third or fourth guest or something like that.
Lindsey: That’s awesome.
Joe: Yeah. I’ll be sure to link to that. But I think you’re absolutely right, it all comes down to good relationships. Especially today, I just finished reading Seth Godin’s “This is Marketing,” and he talks about how people want to be able to trust the products and the companies, and how just blasting ads out there is not going to develop trust. Relationships are going to develop trust.
Lindsey: Absolutely. Following through on that too, you can say this from a role of actually working with me, and it’s like I don’t want to be self-serving. I talk to someone, and I go, “What can we do together? Is there something we can do together to build up both of us? Is there some content sharing that we can do?” Good quality content, not just “Joe, please continue writing blog posts, but how amazing LiquidWeb is.” No, let’s not do that. Let’s talk about how to speed up your WooCommerce store and if part of that happens to include LiquidWeb, then fabulous. But in other ways, too. Like, “What can I do to help you meet your goals, even if they’re not directly related to mine?” Just being a good person and doing those things to help out the people who are also helping you, even if that means in different ways. I don’t know, and it always comes back to you in the end. It just all works out, I think.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. People ask me how I tie return on investment to going to WordCamps. Basically, if I meet somebody and I form a good relationship with them, and then we can help each other, that’s a return on that investment. Because I met somebody at a WordCamp that I never would have met and we were able to work together, like you said, to help each other. I think that’s fantastic. I think you characterized the WordPress community, especially very well there.
Lindsey: Absolutely. Even talking to some friends at other hosting companies, LiquidWeb just came on as a global sponsor for WordPress this year. Super big deal, we’re so happy to finally be able to get back to the WordPress community in that way, but the first thing I did was reach out to a couple friends who work for different hosting companies and say “I know you’re traveling a lot and you happen for WordCamps, and we’re going to start, like how do you do it? Do you have a system or best practices that you would give me?” There was no hesitation. They helped me out, and they gave me some tips and advice for how to succeed and how to answer those ROI questions that they knew I was going to get from our leadership. I have definitely, even in my own role from direct competitors, been more successful in the last month just because of who we are and who we are at WordPress.
Joe: That’s fantastic. I love that. As we start to talk about this a little bit more, forging the right relationship and building out a network of influencers, what research did you do when you came onto LiquidWeb to figure out “Who should I reach out to? What should I be doing with these people? What’s an affiliate program that works for them?”
Lindsey: Have you ever heard of The Kolbe or The Kolbe A? Kolbe with a K, and it’s one of those personality tests. Have you done this before?
Joe: I have not done it, but I’ve heard of it when you put it that way. I’ll find a link and put it in the show notes.
Lindsey: Please do. It’s such an incredibly enlightening test– I shouldn’t say test. Assessment? I don’t know, what are we supposed to say, Joe? Whatever. I took it several years ago and one of the things I learned about myself which should have been obvious looking back, is on a scale of 1 to 10– Not 0 to 10, but on a scale of 1 to 10 there’s four categories, and one of those is fact finder. I am a 9 out of 10 on fact finder, which means within my personality no matter what it is– We’re choosing a new vet for our dog, or I’m picking out a pair of shoes, or I’m going into a new affiliate role at LiquidWeb. I fact find first, and my decision making has to come from research. Then I use my other skills or qualities to come up with the answer, but I lead with fact finding. If I went into all of the research that I did we would not have enough time, and you’d kick me off your podcast, but in general, I looked at other affiliates or affiliate programs in the WordPress space that I thought from my perspective were successful. I went, “What are they doing? What are they providing? What do I think would be of value if I was an affiliate?” Then I also leaned on some of my team members. We have a really– I don’t know, what would the word be? Experienced WordPress team at LiquidWeb, some quote unquote famous or infamous names, if you will. So I asked them, I said “What have you guys heard? What do you think would work? We’re talking to our friends, and I’m going to be asking them to do this, what should we provide?” I did all of those things, and I just started keeping spreadsheets and moving things over to the columns that I liked or I thought would be helpful. Then I also leaned on iThemes experience and their training programs that they’ve done, and went “Huh. What if I could apply that to not only our affiliate program but our partner program? Just say, ‘The affiliates aren’t just affiliates for the most part. They have other jobs, and affiliates are the icing on the cake of how they pay their bills.’ So, what are they doing during the day, and how can I help that business?” I talked to Joe Casabona, and I said, “Joe, what are you doing? I want you to come on board as an affiliate, but tell me about your core business.” You say, “I have this podcast that millions of people listen to, and that’s my core business, but I do some affiliate things on the side.” I can go, “OK. So how can I help you build up your listeners? What can I do to help promote the podcast?” I don’t lead with that other conversation, so those were all the types of research I did. I just started coming up with ideas for webinars, blog posts, e-books, and then they’ll talk about the marketing collateral. So, “Can I create things that you can share on social media that you don’t have to create, you like it and can do it? But it’s different enough from somebody else who is sharing it, so people don’t know that it’s coming from me.” I just started building up this huge library and researching and asking people questions, and I wish I had a definitive place where I went and took this course on affiliate marketing to give you, because wouldn’t it be nice? But I don’t, it was just leaning into friends and relationships and Google. Just looking at what was out there and picking and choosing what I liked.
Joe: First of all, I would never kick you off the podcast. I had to call back on that. We would break it into as many parts as we need to, but I love what you said about “Affiliates aren’t just affiliates,” that’s a little bit extra. There are professional affiliate marketers out there, but by and large–
Joe: Most people aren’t. I’m certainly not. If I just relied on affiliate marketing, we would not be living anywhere. So, I like what you said about “Tell me about your core business,” because nine times out of 10 somebody’ll reach out to me and they’ll say “Hi Joe, I read your blog. I think you’d be great for our affiliate program.” And then just a link to their affiliate program. I’m like, “I need to use your product if I’m going to be an affiliate. So, tell me about your core business.” Of course, you and LiquidWeb have been very helpful in getting this podcast off the ground and launching it, and I appreciate the places where you featured me on your blog. I’m happy to talk about your product because not only have you helped me, but when I’ve had feedback you were very quick in assessing and answering that feedback too. I think everything you said is great, and I think that’s what makes me continue to want to be an affiliate. Because I’ve signed up for a million affiliate programs and I barely promote any of them, because it’s too much time. I don’t have the collateral, I don’t know what to do, and I think you’ve done a lot of the legwork for me and you make it easier for me to promote your stuff.
Lindsey: Thank you. I think you hit it on something too that we did, and I wish I could take credit for this, but it was not me. It was Chris Lema. When I started, he goes, “I want you to make a list of every single person you know in WordPress, and then whenever you get done, I’m going to add to it. If you know them personally,” that was that the caveat, “If you know them personally reach out to them and offer them a year of free hosting. Just let them try it.” I was like, “Yeah, that’s such a good thing.” We give out a lot of free hosting. I still do to let people try the products. I’m like “How can you promote it if you don’t like it”? If it’s not a good fit for that audience, it just doesn’t make any sense. From a partner standpoint or even a strategic alliance. If we’re going together with your plugin or your own business and doing something together, I wouldn’t enter that if I didn’t know you had a good quality product that worked for the people that I would be introducing you to. So, I’m glad you said that. I think that’s another key component of bringing anyone on board, no matter what role that is. Partner affiliate or alliance. It’s just to make sure they like what we’re doing, and it’s okay not to. They have to try it.
Break: This episode is brought to you by Pantheon. Starting a new project? Looking for a better hosting platform? Pantheon is an integrated set of tools to build, launch, and run websites. Get high performance hosting for your WordPress sites, plus a comprehensive toolkit to supercharge your team and help you launch faster. On Pantheon, you get expert support from real developers, best in class security, and the most innovative technology to host and manage your websites. You can sign up a new site in minutes with a free account, and you only pay when it goes live. That is my second favorite feature to Pantheon, only to the easy ability to create dev staging and live servers, and push to GitHub. It’s very easy to set those things up on Pantheon. You can head over to Pantheon.io today to set up a free account and pay only when it goes live. Thanks so much to Pantheon for their support of this episode and this season of How I Built It.
Joe: We’ve talked about a lot of things that can funnel us into the title question, which is how did you build it? We talked about relationships and the research you did to provide content. If you feel like you might rehash a lot of the stuff you just talked about in how did you build the specific affiliate program that you have now, maybe you could also provide us some advice on if I were to start an affiliate program today. What are the things you would recommend?
Lindsey: Absolutely. I will say I am very lucky in the fact that LiquidWeb already had quite a robust program. I just got to come on board way after the fact with other people who have been doing affiliate and partner marketing for a lot longer than I have and say “You guys did a great job. Let me see how I can tweak it and make Lindsey-type improvements.” My own little special brand, if you will. If I were to talk to you about building a brand new affiliate– I don’t even like calling it “affiliate,” can be perfectly honest with you? I don’t like calling it “affiliate” at all. I would counsel you, if you will, or give the advice to never use the word “affiliate” and to use the word “partner” because that’s really what it is. Instead, you think of affiliate as you take all the things and you send money my way. I think to do it the WordPress way, quote unquote, the WordPress way is to do it like that– Partnership. It should be more of a partner community, and it should be reciprocal. So it’s not just “Here’s the links, here’s a coupon. Now go out and talk about me a whole bunch.” It really should be this, we build each other up and create something even better. Like you said, you have feedback. Can you be an affiliate for ModCloth? ModCloth has affiliates, the clothing. It’s an online clothing thing. They have affiliates. If I didn’t like the shirt I bought from them, do you think they’re going to take that feedback and change the styling of their shirts? If you built a program– If you, Joe, build a program where you have partners, and they come back to you with feedback, and then you go “You’re right, I should have done that differently on my dashboard,” and then you do it. Then they feel heard, and now it’s better for their people, and now they even get to promote that. It’s there’s no other better way of doing it. First, change what you call it. Think of it entirely differently. Change your entire mindset around what an affiliate is and look at those partnerships. Then, think about ways that you can help them. Get to know the people that come into your network. Get to know their businesses and then think of creative ways that you can help them. It’s beyond a partner directory. I’m going to ruffle some feathers, and this is when I get crazy. We do this at LiquidWeb too, and we’re like “If you become a partner, we’re going to put you in our directory” and you’re like “With the other 450 partners you have, all building WordPress?” It’s great, and there’s a link back there. There are some nice benefits, and your name is there. Don’t quote me too hard if my leadership of LiquidWeb is listening. There are more benefits to think about than just saying, “We’re going to put you on our website.” It is saying, “What are you doing? Can you come on and do a webinar?” I do one or two webinars a month, and anyone in my partner network can say “I have an idea for a webinar” and I’ll talk to them about it, and we’ll do a webinar. It works perfectly, and it helps build their business too, and not just ours. That’s my advice. Start it over and think about it different.
Joe: I think that’s great. First of all, I’m going to change the title of this episode when it publishes from “Building a good affiliate program” to “Building a good partnership program,” because I think you’re absolutely right. I think that the two things that have bothered me most about affiliate programs is people will e-mail me, and they’ll be like “We want a partner” and I’ll say “How?” They’ll say, “Join our affiliate program” and I’ll say “How is that a partnership? ‘Here’s a link, now promote us’ is not a partnership.” The other thing that’s always bothered me about people using the affiliate program as an out or a crutch is I’ll reach out, and I’ll say “I’m having this event,” or “I am looking for sponsors for the show, and I think you would be a really good fit.” When people come back, and they say, “I think you can make more money in our affiliate program,” I always say, “Then it would behoove you to sponsor me outright. Because now you’re saving money.”
Lindsey: That does make more sense.
Joe: Don’t get me wrong, I have a partnership program myself, but I generally don’t use it as a crutch. I try to be communicative and let them know I’ve promised them that they’ll be the first people to know what I’m working on before anybody else. If they need me, if they want to have me on for an interview or want me to provide quotes or graphics, I’m happy to do that. A lot of that is– I’ve stolen it from you. Because I see what you do and I find that super helpful, and I think my partners might find it helpful as well. I think that’s fantastic. As far as techniques or exclusivity, I’m not sure how I want to word that. But you did mention coupon codes. I say “coupon,” and I’m told I’m wrong. You offer coupon codes, and I’ve noticed landing pages. Do you find that those things are helpful to help your partners convert?
Lindsey: That’s an excellent question. I think this is where some of the traditional affiliate marketers might have a different opinion than someone like me who, to be very frank, is making it up as I go. They would say, “Absolutely. You put the coupons out there, and you create the specific landing pages that’s maximized for conversions.” There’s definitely a place for that. There is a lot of revenue that comes to LiquidWeb in these very traditional affiliate marketing roles where– Here’s a good best practice. A landing page for an affiliate should never have a chat box or a phone number listed. I know, it blew my mind too. I did not know this. Because if you think about that, you’ve now discounted the coupon for that affiliate to use, so their person’s coming. Plus, you’re paying them X amount. That’s a percentage, or it’s a flat rate, hopefully, it’s a very generous type of thing. But then also now if they’re going to chat to a salesperson, or if they call in and talk to a salesperson, that’s not only paying or taking up their time with that now double-paid person because they’re getting a discount plus an affiliate commission. But then if that salesperson closes the sale, especially in our company, they’re also allowed to get a percentage on that sale. Because that’s their job is to close sales. So if we did landing pages with chats and phone numbers, you’re almost in a way paying four different ways, and on a $99 a month plan. You have to think through some of those promotions in regards to landing pages and coupons. You can also inadvertently saturate your market with too many coupons or too many steep discounts. I like to offer them to anyone who works with me for a couple of reasons. Especially in WordPress, we feel uncomfortable with affiliate links. Because we think people believe if they’re clicking an affiliate link that maybe we have a different reason for promoting that product, rather than just liking it. I think WordPress in general, we aren’t like that. We do believe in the things that we talk about, but not everybody thinks that and we don’t want to have our motivations questioned. If I give you a coupon that says “Joe, anyone you send gets a month off, and they don’t have to click the link, they can just put in your coupon code.” You still get that affiliate commission because that’s how our system works, without you having to say “Thanks for listening to the podcast, now go click this link if you’re interested in LiquidWeb.” They can use your coupon, and it just feels a little bit cleaner. I also pretty much, straight across the board, anyone on my partner network gets the same coupon, and then we do specials. If we do an end of the year sale or a summer sale, we’ll say “All partners are getting the exact same discount to their coupon, or they get a special coupon that they can use.” That’s a nuance that has to be considered. The question was about landing pages, so I will create landing pages for anyone who feels like that is useful for their audience. Or help them create a blog post on their own site. Sometimes people will create a blog post, and I’ll help provide content where it’s appropriate, and then I help them go through and audit it and say “OK. You should put a call to action here, or you should add a link here” and try to provide value that way.
Joe: Nice. Again, that goes back to how you are partnering with them. You’re not just saying, “Here, just build a page, here’s your link, whatever.” It’s “Here’s how you can make this better. I want to help you make money, and I’ll make money, and everything will be good.” That’s interesting about not having a chat bar or phone number, and it makes sense because the affiliate, or the partner, should be the person who has sold that person on the hosting. They should be the salesperson in that regard. That’s why they’re getting– I’m not just going to tweet your link and hope for the best. I’m going to write a blog post, or one of my recent episodes of Creator Toolkit talks about how you’re a good solution for e-commerce, so I’ll link that in the show notes as well. Before we move on to the plans for the future, I do want to touch on, and you mentioned a generous rate. Have you found that there’s a good rule of thumb for picking a affiliate commission that motivates your partners to go out and promote your product?
Lindsey: Yeah. I think that it’s still in flux. We had a meeting last week on iThemes hosting. We just released an iThemes hosting product last year, and we’re still trying to dial in the pricing on it. I’m learning a lot from the leadership at LiquidWeb because they’ve been around for a long time. You go “OK, so you have a $7 a month product and how much is that a year– You’re wanting to pay out $150 on that.” They’re going, “We don’t make that back until year three.” “OK, that may not be a good fit.” It’s a lot of doing the math. We say “OK, at $7 a month or maybe it’s a $12 a month product, so at $12 a month that gets closer to $150. Maybe that’s $100 for affiliates.” So some of that is just doing the math on it, some of it is looking at what your competitors do. WP Engine is– They’re friends of all of ours. I have nothing at all bad to say about them, and they set the standard. They started doing affiliate stuff a really long time ago, and they let the WordPress community know how it works. They didn’t do some of the benefits we do on the partnership side, and we can touch on that a little bit to talk about those differences. Because pretty much everything with them, as I understand it, is just straight up affiliates. We had to follow that model, and we didn’t have another choice except they’re the leader in the space. They’re still the leader in this space, and we just tried to mimic that. Our managed WordPress, our managed WooCommerce plans get a $250 flat rate. I don’t mind telling people that because anyone can find what that rate is, and then when we get into some of our smaller plans, we lower that. If it’s a $39 a month plan, it’s not as high. I find that that feels good, it makes people feel like their effort was worth it. If they write a blog post or send out one tweet and they get one commission off of that, it makes their time that they spent writing that or promoting it worth it. I love celebrating when those come in with the people who get those commissions, and it’s a really fun part of my job is to send an e-mail. Go “You got five commissions this month,” and all of us be excited about that.
Joe: That’s fantastic. Again, I’ll say that “Do the math,” that makes sense. It already sounds like for your affiliate program, and there’s some assumption that people who sign up for hosting will stay with the hosting company at least X amount of years. I’m sure that math goes into it as well, whereas, for somebody like me who’s selling an online course for maybe $100 one time, $100 dollar commission is not going to make any sense. I’ll make no money.
Lindsey: Exactly. iThemes for years on their products– Just because apparently I’m so good at telling all the things, did 25%. 25% of the sale was their commission rate. That also felt good, if people were talking about products that did cost significantly lower and weren’t necessarily a multi-year point of revenue for them, that makes sense. In our partner side, we have a couple of different benefits. I’m going to keep some of it because it’s plans for the future, but just on that financial aspect, we share– I’m going to use a hosting term, so I sound smart, but the MRR, the monthly recurring revenue. As some of our agency partners, let’s say they have 50 sites or 100, or sometimes more. They bring those over, and they add so many. I think it’s– I don’t remember, it’s some percentage. They can get upwards of 15% a month back, and it’s literally just cutting a check and sending it back to them. That’s a financial incentive. We offer a lot of other perks as well, but that’s to compare that. Whereas other hosting companies in our space do the affiliate thing. You have a couple of choices, and you’re like “OK, do I get paid one time at $250? Or do I keep my clients there and over the life of LiquidWeb making money, I also do? If I get 15% back a month on what we’re paying for hosting, then OK.” That’s a no brainer in a lot of cases.
Joe: Absolutely. To that point, when you think, “We might move hosts,” now you have to think, “I’m going to lose that 15% commission and time to migrate.”
Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely.
Joe: Again, it makes sense. For a while, I would always sign up my own clients on their hosting account with my affiliate link. I would let them know too, and it wasn’t just hand wavy stuff. I was always forthcoming with that, but it was an added benefit. I was bringing a new client to a platform I was familiar with. As we wind down our interview here, what are your plans for the future of the partnership program at LiquidWeb?
Lindsey: One of the things I think I’m most excited about and able to bring in my perspective on is this partnership network, and how can we continue to be helpful. That’s what LiquidWeb said, “We’re the most helpful humans [in our scene],” is our little tagline. It works well with my personality because ultimately, that’s what I want to do. Thankfully I don’t have sales numbers stamped on my forehead, so because I don’t I’m able to say, “What can I do for our partners? What can I do for our network to help them?” One of those is– I’m not the leader of this at all, but I’m on the team that is bringing a brand new partner portal to LiquidWeb, and it’s a WordPress multi-site install. I don’t know who has built it, but I can’t believe that they’re not a super big deal on WordPress because as soon as they showed me this dashboard I was like “This is literally built in WordPress,” and it is. It’s an incredible tool, and we are so excited about it. Basically, anyone who comes into our partner network or is already there now gets access to this quote unquote partner portal. But it has webinars, training, co-branded content. It lets you sign up for the webinar that you want to go to straight from the dashboard because they’re using Gravity Forms. It’s so cool, and then we’re getting– We’re going to load that up, so you can request time with me as the partner marketing person, and we can talk about co-branding opportunities. You can request to present a webinar to the LiquidWeb community, and you can imagine how many emails that goes to, and then that recording then gets turned around and put back in the partner portal. So the possibilities with that in and of itself are so endless, and it’s incredibly well built. It’s going to be awesome, and we’re having several meetings a week on that right now as we’re fleshing out the content and the possibilities for it. I would venture to say even beyond the revenue share that we do, in and of itself, is worth looking at LiquidWeb for a partnership just because it is a very direct way to help people build their businesses.
Joe: That sounds exciting. I will definitely keep an eye out for that because it sounds– An easy one stop shop to make a partner’s job easier is always good. That’s fantastic. We’ll definitely keep an eye out for that.
Lindsey: Thank you.
Joe: As we come to the end here, I do want to ask you my favorite question, which is, do you have any trade secrets for us?
Lindsey: Any trade secrets? I think I already gave them out. I told you how much we pay for an affiliate commission, and I told you what iThemes pays for an affiliate commission, I told you about the chat box and the phone number. Apparently, I’m just an open book when I talk to you is the answer to that question. So just like any other normal conversation, if you want to know any secrets, ask Lindsey, and she tells you. You know, I don’t think so. I will say this, and I don’t think it’s too much of a trade secret, but WordPress and WooCommerce are for sure the way of the future. It is how LiquidWeb sees the future. We’re investing a lot of time and a lot of money with the global sponsorship to say “WordPress, we’re here, and we’re here to stay.” We’ve done an incredible amount of development onto WooCommerce hosting. That’s very exciting for us, and I think is an exciting time for our WordPress ecosystem. Just because we were able to come late to the game and manage WordPress in and of itself, but with the backing of this hosting company that is known around the world that has some of the highest NPS scores and definitely no hosting company comes close to where we are on customer service. We say, “OK. We get to be creative and inventive.” Not only did Chris Lema and the team on the product side say that, but our leadership, all of the most important and smartest people at LiquidWeb said, “This is it. It’s WordPress and WooCommerce.” So, I feel like that’s a little bit of a trade secret. Not only is LiquidWeb leaning into it, I think a lot of other people are too. Those of us that have been around for a long time knew it would happen, so now it’s WordPress’ time to shine if you will.
Joe: Nice. What a great trade secret, I love that. I’ll add onto that, I believe it too. Even if you asked me six months ago what one should do to set up an e-commerce store, I would have said, “If you want easy, go to Shopify. If you want custom and can pay a developer, go to WooCommerce.” Now I’m like, “Go to managed WooCommerce hosting. You’ll have a site. You’ll pay, and you’ll have a site, and you’ll be ready to go.” So that’s fantastic. Lindsey Miller, thanks so much for your time today. Where can people find you?
Lindsey: I talk the most on Twitter @lindseymillerwp. You can learn more about LiquidWeb at LiquidWeb.com. There’s a ton of things, so go [slash me as WordPress], and LinkedIn. I’ve been doing a lot on LinkedIn as well. You can find me, and I’m [LinkedIn/LindseyAnnMiller]. Those are my places.
Joe: All right, I will be sure to link those and everything we talked about in the show notes over at HowIBuilt.it, hosted by LiquidWeb. Lindsey, thanks so much for joining me today. I appreciate it.
Lindsey: It was so much fun. Anytime you need me to come on and tell more secrets, and I’m happy to.
Outro: Thanks so much to Lindsey for joining me today. I always enjoy talking to her. I consider her a very good friend, as well as a wonderful person to get insight from on marketing and affiliate programs. Her background is super interesting, as you heard, and her trade secret about WordPress and WooCommerce for sure being the future– LiquidWeb is putting their money where their mouth is there. Of course, they put a lot of effort into their customer service, which shows, absolutely. My question of the week for you is, “How has Lindsey’s advice affected the way that you approach either your partnership program or the way that you’re going to approach joining partnership programs in the future?” Let me know by e-mailing me, Joe@HowIBuilt.it or on Twitter @jcasabona. I want to thank my sponsors for this episode, Plesk and Pantheon. They have both sponsored the entire season, and without their support, I wouldn’t be able to put forth such a quality show with amazing guests. So, thanks again to them. Definitely check them out. If you liked this episode, be sure to share it with a friend. Maybe you know somebody who’s struggling with affiliate programs, and this is the stuff that they need to hear. Go ahead and share this episode with them. The link directly to this episode is HowIBuilt.it/123, so you could share that URL with them. You’ll also find all of the show notes we talked about over there.
Miniseries: So, let’s continue the conversation about how I built my podcasting course. Specifically for these last two episodes, I’ve talked about how I’ve built the tech stack of Creator Courses. I got deep into the LMS, the learning management system, last week. This week I want to talk specifically about WooCommerce because WooCommerce provides a huge part of the functionality. I chose WooCommerce because I wanted to have a full on e-commerce platform with a shop and a shopping cart. LearnDash does support the ability to sell courses one off and even group registrations with some extensions, but I liked WooCommerce because it gave me the flexibility beyond selling just courses. Maybe I want to sell e-books or other educational material, and maybe I want to have tiered plans where there’s a basic course, an advanced course, and a master course. Instead of creating three separate products, I can create one product. It also integrates fully with LearnDash, so I don’t need to worry about trying to bridge the gap and making them work. But aside from the LearnDash integration, it integrates with so many other tools, and some of the tools that I’m using require LearnDash. Things like [Metoric], which is fantastic for reporting. It’s absolutely incredible reporting, much better than what you get in stock WooCommerce, so I use that around tax time, and I use that to see the lifelong value of my customers, and so much more. I also use Gilt for abandoned cart emails. Gilt will see when somebody adds a product to their cart, if they know the email address– Which they’ll try to capture as early as possible– If the person does not finish the transaction I can send a series of emails to those people to try to get them to come back and make the purchase. Abandoned cart emails can recover up to 25% of abandoned carts, so that’s a considerable amount of income depending on what you’re selling. Finally, I’m using AffiliateWP For my own affiliate program, we just spent the whole episode listening and learning about affiliate programs and partnership programs, and I’m using AffiliateWP For my affiliate program. That integrates nicely with WooCommerce. It helps me make fans out of my students. I’ve since created a new policy where you have to be a student to join the affiliate program because you need to be able to vouch for the quality of the course. I don’t just want you signing up to make money off of my courses and adding it in a big long list of courses you should take, and I want people to vouch for my product. AffiliateWP works well with WooCommerce for that. So, that’s the whole tech stack. I forget if I mentioned the theme last week now, but I’m using Academy Pro, which is a Genesis child theme. It gives me some flexibility over that, and I recently did a whole talk on this so I will include a link to that talk, the slides, and some of the resources over in the show notes at HowIBuilt.it/123. But that is it for the tech stack, so next week I’m going to talk a little bit about my plans for the future, both of the website and of this course. If you’re thinking “You’ve dispersed this story over a series of weeks and I don’t have a clear picture,” like maybe you want to hear it all together, don’t worry. After the season ends, I’ll be releasing a bonus episode where I tell this story all together. So, these are just maybe little teasers for that bonus episode. Anyway, I want to sincerely thank you for listening. Until next time, get out there and build something.