Intro: Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode 122 of How I Built It. Today my guest is Brad Touesnard, the founder and CEO of Delicious Brains, Inc. I’m a big fan of Brad and his work, and they do some fantastic stuff in the WordPress space. You probably best know them for their plugin WP Migrate DB Pro, an incredible and invaluable tool. If you are moving databases, I can’t stress enough how much time that plugin, in particular, has saved me. Doing things the manual way, versus doing things with WP Migrate DB or WP Migrate DB Pro is just so different. We talk about a lot of things, and we talked about SpinUpWP, a relatively new project of theirs. We talked about doing things on iOS. We talked about projects that they launched that then didn’t work out, and why. We talked about a whole wide range of things from development to running businesses, to helpful tools to help you be the best that you can be. So, let’s get into all of that with my interview with Brad Touesnard. Of course, first here’s 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. This episode is also sponsored by our friends at Castos. Castos is a podcast hosting platform built specifically for WordPress. They’re a Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin that lets you manage all of your episodes and podcast RSS feeds from your WordPress site, but have your files hosted on a dedicated media hosting platform. If you use WordPress, this is by far the easiest platform that I have used for podcasting. I also really love how the castoffs team takes a common sense approach to their pricing. You can create as many episodes and podcasts as you want and you don’t have to worry about how much storage you’re using or bandwidth restrictions. If you’re like me and you already have a ton of episodes from an old host, they’ve got you covered. Castos will import all of your podcast content into their platform completely Freemius of charge. It’s literally one click of a button in your WordPress dashboard. I could not believe my eyes when I saw this in action, and it’s stuff like this which is why I built my own podcasting course on top of Castos. They have put together a really special opportunity for the show today. You can get 50% off your first three months with the code BUILTIT19. Just head over to Castos.com/HowIBuiltIt to learn more.
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 Brad Touesnard, the founder and CEO of Delicious Brains and SpinUpWP. Brad, how are you today?
Brad Touesnard: I’m great. Thanks for having me.
Joe: Thanks for coming on the show. I’m glad you’re feeling better, I know you had to cancel last week. As we record this, of course, so I’m glad that you’ve gotten rid of whatever it is you had.
Brad: Yeah. I’ve been struggling with my health for the last few months, and I think I figured out that I added something to my diet a few months ago, and that’s what it is. But it’s something– I am gluten free, and so gluten will make me sick. That kind of thing. I’m not doing it because it’s trendy, or anything.
Brad: But it’s one of those things where I was eating something that says it’s gluten-free, but there’s something else in it that must be buggin’ me, because– So I’ve been dealing with that for last three months and finally figured it out, at least hopefully.
Joe: Good. I hope that you’ve gotten to the bottom of it. I always worry about that, like eating something, or something in my diet changing and then it making me feel terrible.
Brad: Yeah. You think software is complicated, but then your own body is a lot more complicated than that.
Joe: Absolutely. Again, we’ve created software, and we can understand software. That’s what we’re going to be talking about today, specifically about your new product SpinUpWP.
Joe: Cool. So, why don’t we start with who you are and what you do?
Brad: Yes. I am the founder and CEO of Delicious Brains, Inc. We have a couple of WordPress plugins, WP migrate DB Pro and WP Offload S3– Or, sorry. WP Offload Media now, because we rebranded it just a couple months ago because we’re going after– it we used to be a plugin just for offloading your media library, your WordPress media library to Amazon S3. But now we support digital open spaces, and we’re going to support– What’s it called? Google Cloud Storage, we saw all the object storage providers. So, those are our two main products, then I’ve got a team of eight behind me as well, and we’re a fully remote team. There’s four guys in the UK, there’s two in Pennsylvania and two in Ontario, and I myself I’m in Nova Scotia.
Brad: Our new newest product is called SpinUpWP, and it’s currently in beta, and it allows you to Spin Up a server that’s fully optimized for WordPress, for hosting WordPress in just 10 minutes or so. It’ll set up all the server software and configure it so that you can start adding sites to it after 10 minutes. It’s something that normally would take a few hours if you’re doing it manually, just logging into the CLI and running commands, and we have– The reason it came about too is we have a series of blog posts that one of our team wrote for our blog, and they do really well, and we get a lot of traffic to those blog posts. So that’s one of the reasons why we thought of this idea, that this would be a good idea for us.
Joe: Nice. I’m a big fan of your blog, I subscribe to your newsletter, and it’s one of the few newsletters were read what comes to my inbox. So, this is cool, and I kid you not, I just struggled with this sort of thing recently. Like, last week. So you’re definitely solving a problem that needs solving, which is very cool.
Brad: Have you used some of the other–? SpinUpWP is very similar to Laravel Forge and Server Pilot is another one, but they don’t cater to WordPress. Laravel Forge is specifically designed for Laravel.
Brad: Server Pilot has traditionally just been for PHP apps in general, although they’ve made some moves in the last little while to be more WordPress, and to do more for WordPress. But have you ever used either of those services?
Joe: No, I haven’t. I’ve used the local ones, like [VVV] to do it locally, but I just set up a load server because I’m trying to go to the iPad-only lifestyle. If I want to develop on the iPad, I need to connect to a VPS. So I went through the rigamarole on [inaudible] of installing Ubuntu and installing Apache, and then getting WordPress just there but without any of the bells and whistles that I normally like to have in WordPress, and no WP CLI, I didn’t install that either. So, it’s cool. This product seems like it would have saved me a couple of hours while I was sitting in the Starbucks trying to get this to work. I was high fiving myself in the Starbucks, running Unix commands from my iPad, I thought that was pretty cool.
Brad: Nice. Where did you get this idea for running everything off an iPad? Where does this come from?
Joe: I listened to a couple of podcasts, which I’ll be sure to link in the show notes. But the main one is connected from RelayFM. Those listening to Season 6, you might have heard of Mike Hurley, he kicked off this season. He’s the founder, but he’s pretty much an iPad-only, in the iPad-only lifestyle. His co-host [Federico Veticci], also iPad only. I say only, but only is a little bit of quotes, because they still do their podcast recording and editing on their Mac Minis. So, I’m trying to go iPad only when I’m travelling. I want my iPad to replace my MacBook, and then I’ll have the iMac pro to do the video editing and podcast editing.
Brad: Right. I think Curtis McHale has some blog posts about that as well, and I think I saw he posted about it.
Joe: Yes. I used his recommendations for development specifically as a starting point. I know he used Digital Ocean, [inaudible] it was running a promo when I got them, so I got like four months free or something like that. But it was basically all of the apps that he recommended. Cool. So, I like this idea. You mentioned that you were blogging about this, and this was essentially how you realized this would be a good product for you guys to develop. Can you talk about that a little bit? Because I’ve had guests on the show, like Justin Ferryman talk about how he blogged about an LMS for WordPress for two years before he built LearnDash. So, was that your market research?
Brad: It definitely helps. It’s a really good way to plant that first seed to see “What’s the uptake? How much traffic does that article get from Google?” So, we weren’t– When we published those series of blog posts we weren’t expecting anything. We were just– We have this blog, what is it called, the treadmill. The content creation treadmill where we’re committed to posting every week, so our team’s biggest problem and one of the biggest problems our team has is coming up with ideas for the blog and what to write next. So, this was just one of those instances. But it turned into a series, and then the series grew to– I think it’s eight, I think we’re up to eight articles now, and they’re pretty lengthy. So, it takes you through starting at your node or your Digital Ocean droplet or whatever it is. Firing that up and installing step by step all of the software you need to host WordPress efficiently, and at a pretty high scale actually, we’ve done some benchmarking. We have posts that benchmark how much traffic just a small VM can handle, and it’s remarkable how much traffic a cached WordPress site can handle. If you heavily cache a WordPress site, you’re just serving static pages at that point. So Engine-X can handle that without breaking a sweat. It can handle that. We’ve gotten our posts to the top of Hacker News before and stuff. It’s never– Our web servers have been fine with that. The problem would be if you’re someone like Ticketmaster or something, where you have to have the dynamic parts of your website serving a massive influx of traffic, then things get a lot more complicated. But for 99% of websites out there, hosting it on a VM, even like a two gigabyte of memory VM with one CPU core. That’s going to be plenty for even if you end up on Hacker News by chance.
Joe: That’s great. That’s a very good insight because I think a lot of people do worry about performance. But first of all, if you’re getting the traffic that Ticketmaster is getting for your dynamic site, presumably you’re making a ton of money so you can upgrade whenever.
Brad: I would hope so.
Joe: Yeah, right? Second, it seems like Ticketmaster hasn’t even solved that problem well. So maybe that’s just a tough nut to crack.
Brad: It is, it’s a very tough nut to crack. I think optimizing– It’s still difficult to optimize database rights.
Brad: The only way to do that, that I know of effectively is called database charting. Which I’ve never done, I’ve only ever looked into but never actually done it. But the basic concept is when you need to write to the database, depending on the data that’s being written, it goes to this database server or a different database server or another database server. So the rights gets kind of filtered off into different database servers, and there’s a whole bunch of complexity that goes with that though as well.
Brad: Once you require that, you need a team you and you need a DevOps team manage that. Most people are never going to get to that stage with their website.
Joe: Right, and to maybe give a good analogy of what database charting might be, it’s almost like if I have– My daughter’s big into these YouTube videos now where people are just sorting candy into the same color buckets. So, it’s almost like that. You have a red bucket and a green bucket and a blue bucket, and you’re not just going to like dump a whole bag of M&Ms into the red bucket. It’ll be hard to find the right color, so you want to put the red M&Ms in the red bucket and the blue M&Ms in the blue bucket.
Brad: Yeah, exactly. That’s a great analogy.
Joe: Thank you. That is brought to you by my two year old watching YouTube. So, that’s cool. This very popular blog series that I’m going to link to in the show notes as well, this is going to be a show notes rich episode. What else did you do to– As you set out to develop SpinUpWP, what did that look like? Does that–? You have a big audience already, especially because of WP Migrate DB Pro. Is this basically the same audience you’re talking to, or did you set out to build a whole other audience that you wanted to market to?
Brad: We definitely leverage that audience. But actually, the first– to go back to the genesis of this project, it was an idea that we had kicking around. The member of our team, Ashley, who wrote these articles for our blog, he actually had the idea of making basically SpinUpWP, and he had actually built a prototype of it, but just abandoned it at a certain point. It wasn’t until our retreat about a year and a half ago we were in the car on the way to the airport after, at the end of the trip, and some of the guys were just talking about like “I wish there was a WordPress version of Laravel Forge. Forge is great, but it just doesn’t go that extra mile for WordPress. Several other guys in the car were agreeing with this, and I’m like “This is an idea. If you guys all need this and want this, then you are the audience. You guys are developers.” Then the more we thought about it, the more it made sense to do this, so we have these articles that are bringing in customers from Google, and there’s our marketing problem half solved. Then the next step was to get outside the company and talk to potential customers, so what I end up doing is scraping the contacts off of the comments from our blog posts. Those are all people that were interested in building their own servers using our tutorial, so they should be pretty interested in this product. We did a survey and sent it out to those people, and I think maybe some other folks from our audience, I can’t remember if we took a subset of our audience and maybe sent them the survey as well. But anyway, we got a good number of survey responses and very good positive feedback that this was a viable project to pursue. We launched our beta when was it– Probably three weeks ago now. We’ve had great uptake, and we were accepting sign-ups. So, we’re in a paid period right now, and it’s not a free beta. That’s saying a lot, that we’ve had like actual people coming in the door paying us and are still using the software, but not churning out. I’m pretty happy with where we’re at this stage. Things are good.
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Brad: I like that the takeaway here is that you blogged about this thing you need, you also have a team of people who for all intents and purposes are dogfooding your own product. Then you worked with part of your own audience, and I think people have a hard time, myself included, leveraging or building an audience to leverage. So, I liked the things that you said, and they’re scraping the contact info from the comments. I like that a lot. People are commenting on these tutorial style posts, probably asking questions, trying to do stuff. You’re telling them how to do it, they have problems with that, and then you’re like “I have a solution to your problem.” That’s very online course-esque.
Brad: Right, exactly.
Joe: Where you teach an online course, and then you say “I just taught you how to do it, but if you just want me to do it for you can pay me to do it for you too.”.
Brad: Yeah, exactly.
Joe: So, let’s get to the title question which is, how did you build it? I’m particularly interested about this from the standpoint of you’re building a tool that is designed to work with all sorts of VPSs. It’s not like this is a thing that can sit on top of [inaudible] or sit up on top of Digital Ocean. What did the compatibility look like? What did the development stack look like? You can get super nerdy here if it was super developer-y, I would love to hear that.
Brad: I can’t get too technical anymore. I’m still a developer, I can still write code, but the reality is that I’m not. It’s my team that’s writing the code nowadays, and I’m just making sure that everything stays on track and the trains run on time. But yeah, we built it using Laravel, so that was the framework we’re using, so we’re still on PHP. I think we started working with Google Cloud because of a previous product we built that we ended up shutting down. That was built on AWS and used auto-scaling and elastic beanstalk, and all that business. Our team was not big fans of that tech stack, it was cumbersome to use, and just janky is the way they described it. So we decided to use Google instead to see if their stack was any better, and although it seemed a little bit better it still wasn’t– It wasn’t what we were expecting. We felt that it was a bit cumbersome to use, and the other thing is that our app we don’t think we need auto-scaling. We probably won’t need it for a long time, if ever. We decided to go with good old Digital Ocean droplets, so we have just one droplet running our app server, and then we have multiple worker servers to perform the tasks that are being requested from the app. So for example, if you want to create a new site on your server, that gets queued to a worker server, and then the worker server does the SSA chain into your server and performs the tasks that need to be performed. Then you get a nice app, and it still shows a nice print out display of the commands getting executed and all that stuff.
Joe: Cool. So, just to just a backup for a minute there, this is not like a thing that I download and install on like some fresh version of Ubuntu, this is all run– This is a SaaS, right? Like a login and I say “I want to Spin Up a WordPress over here.”
Brad: You got it. It’s a SaaS app, so you sign up online and plugin your Digital Ocean key. You go to Digital Ocean, create a new API key, plug it in and then you can choose what size droplet you want from our UI. The alternative to that, so right now just in beta period, we support that one provider at the moment. But we support every provider, because we have a second option which is custom server. So if it has an IP address and it’s got a fresh Ubuntu 18 install on it, then it’ll work with SpinUpWP.
Brad: So as long as we can get to it and it’s running the software we expect, it should work. That includes like a local VM. If you have a local VM with an IP address, you could potentially point SpinUpWP at it, and it should be good to go.
Joe: I was going to say, it sounds like it could work for that.
Brad: Yeah. I’ve never tried that, we haven’t tried it yet, but I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work. Like I said, if it has an IP address and we can connect to it, it should work.
Joe: Yeah. For those listening now, I presume by the time this comes out somebody will have tried it, but if somebody hasn’t you can be the intrepid user who gives it a go.
Brad: That’s right.
Brad: If you do, please let us know about that. We’d love to hear about it because it’s always interesting to hear from people who are using your product in atypical ways. If you always get that from people, like you have this vision of how the majority of your customers are going to use your product, so you’re building for that. Then every once in a while a customer comes along who’s using it some for some crazy setup, and you’re just like “Yeah that’s something I could never have imagined.”
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. I can– I’ve developed some software in the past, but nothing commercially really. But even when I first launched my online courses, I got two pieces of feedback. One was that you need PayPal, and I was like “I’ll just do Stripe because it’s easier,” but people love having PayPal as an option. The other was like somebody said, “How come I have to take your course in order?” And I’m like, why would you want to take my course out of order? Like, aren’t you trying to learn something? But they just wanted to learn some specific aspect of Beaver Builder. Apparently, that’s a common use case, so it’s is very interesting. It is like you said, it’s very interesting to hear stuff like that.
Brad: PayPal is funny because it’s a love-hate relationship. People love it because they feel secure using it, and there’s all kinds of reasons why they love it. Then everyone who accepts PayPal hates it, on the other hand.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely.
Brad: Same with credit cards too though. People who use them, love them But the people who have to take them and get dinged all the fees, not such a big fan. I tried because I know that because I’m a business person I try to use debit whenever I go out to eat or whatever because I know that the local businesses are getting dinged every time.
Joe: That’s a good point.
Brad: Most people don’t know that, though. Most people have no idea that their credit card is charging the person that they’re using it with 2-3% of the bill, and they have no idea.
Brad: It’s like this dirty little secret the credit card companies have that somehow has remained outside the public sphere.
Joe: Yeah. That’s so funny. I never thought that people don’t know that, but they must, and credit card companies make money come and go, and they make money off people who can’t pay their credit card on time, and then they make money off the people who are using the credit card to make money.
Brad: They make more money every which way.
Joe: Yeah. What a racket. With PayPal, I thought it was interesting to hear that there are a lot of freelancers who use PayPal as like fun money, like funny money. It’s not real, and it’s not real to them. I thought that was interesting because that’s not how I manage my money at all. As soon as I get, as soon as I have money and PayPal that is outside my refund window, it is in my account, and I use my American Express card to pay for all of my business expenses. I don’t know, to each their own, but that was also a weird use case to me.
Brad: Right. Are you going to Word Camp Europe in June?
Joe: I am. Well, at this moment I’m not. As we record this. But it’s–
Brad: Sorry, I put you on the spot there.
Joe: Yeah, no problem. It’s in Germany this year?
Brad: Yes. The reason I brought it up is because it’s very apropos. So, apparently I’ve been told– I’ve never been to Germany yet, but we’re going to be doing our company retreat in Berlin before Word Camp Europe. Apparently, Germans, a lot of German businesses, do not accept credit cards. You have to go there with cash. You do, is what I’ve been told. But I have it under good authority that’s true, and I think that is one of the main reasons. That the German businesses are– They don’t accept the fees that the credit card companies require.
Joe: Yeah, I can understand it. I try to consider cost of goods, so I want to make it easy for anybody to give me money. But I totally understand it. If I do end up going, it’s like right around my anniversary, so maybe I can convince my wife it’ll be like an anniversary trip for us.
Brad: That’s a great idea.
Joe: Absolutely. But I try to work the fee into cost of goods sold, but I am Italian, so I always have cash on me anyway. That is– That’s a New York Italian stereotype, at least.
Brad: Is that right?
Joe: Yeah. Cool. So, we’re coming up on time. We’ve covered a lot of ground, and I’m curious to hear, this is a new product. We’ve talked about launch and stuff like that, but what are your plans for the future? As we record this, you’re still pretty much in beta, but it seems to be going well. Do you have a roadmap of sorts?
Brad: We do. We’re still in beta, and we’ll probably be in beta for another couple months at least, and the main reason for that is we’ve got a couple additional features we want to build before we officially launch to you our greater a wider audience. Those features are teams, support for teams. Currently, you can sign up, and you have your own personal account, but you can’t invite anybody to collaborate with you on servers and share access to servers or anything like that. That’s an important feature that we’re going to add. Backups, even more important. We currently– You could always set up something yourself.
Brad: We don’t have any backup feature built into the platform yet. So, that’s something we want to have for launch before we make a big push to let everyone know about the product. Then the other thing that happened was when we launched the beta, and we discovered something that was completely in our blind spot that we did not anticipate at all. That is having multiple SFDP users per server is very important to people, is what we’ve discovered. Which it seems so obvious now in retrospect because you can imagine someone– A freelancer or an agency using our platform to host their client’s sites. They would want their clients to be able to SFDP to the server and upload files, or what have you. That’s obviously something that we should provide, but we just completely blanked on that. I think maybe it’s because we were looking at Forge and how Forge had things set up, and they don’t– Forge doesn’t have that. They don’t have multiple users where you can log into each site and upload files to each site. They’re for one app per server situation, but Server Pilot is more setup that way. They’re set up for multiple– I think they do for each site that you install, they create a new user on the system, and that user has SFDP access and they can upload files to each site, is the way that they do it. So a lot of the customers that were on Server Pilot that were on our interest list, they immediately noticed that we didn’t have that feature. So we’re in the process of building that at the moment. Glad we did the beta because it’s the perfect time. It’s a pretty major change to our architecture to be able to support that, so it’s good to be able to do that during a beta instead of after launching to people. Once we get those three things out of the way, it’s launch time. Probably the first– Definitely the first half of next year, hopefully, the first quarter of next year.
Brad: We’ll be trumpeting.
Joe: Cool. That sounds great. The idea of doing a beta program, it sounds like it’s paying dividends for you. I think people wonder, “Why not just launch?” Or whatever, and I think you have a very good use case for why not. “Why do a beta program?” Especially cause I think people who are doing the betas are probably going to be a little bit more vocal than the run of the mill user, there are people who are more willing to give feedback and saying it’s a beta puts that upfront. Like, “This is a work in progress. We’re going to take care of you as our beta users,” or whatever.
Brad: We mix the two paradigms. So there’s the free beta, a lot of people do that, they tend to have free beta. But then you don’t get to test whether or not people are willing to pay for you, so what we did is we just did a deep discount. Your first three months you get half price for three months, your first three months half price if you sign up for our beta, and then we go from there. At least then we know people are willing to trade dollars for this solution, and that it’s not just a bunch of freeloaders getting on board.
Joe: Absolutely. Also if someone’s paying for it, they’re more likely to use it. I’ve signed up for betas that were free and never used it because I wasn’t committed.
Brad: Exactly. A previous product we launched we did a free beta, and that’s what we ended up with. Just opened a bunch of people on it silently and just not giving any feedback. So, that’s a good point. That’s another reason why we chose to do a paid beta this time.
Joe: Cool. That’s a great piece of advice for anybody who’s looking to launch a product. Do a paid beta if you can. Obviously everything in development, it depends, but if you’re weighing free versus paid I think we have a few good pros for paid. As we wrap up here, I do want to ask you my favorite question, which is, do you have any trade secrets for us?
Brad: Trade secrets? I keep going back to mailing lists because I think they’re so undervalued. I’m just starting a mailing list. First of all, you need to provide something of value to start your mailing list. In our case, for example, we did the tutorial to set up and host WordPress yourself. So we had those articles, and then as you get down towards the bottom, it would pop up and say “Are you interested in more articles like this,” or whatever. You have to provide something useful, so write an article that does well, but then capture email addresses. You have to build that email list, and then you can launch something. I am guilty of building hobby projects in the past just because I love to build them, and that’s fine. But once you get serious about wanting to start a business, you have to build an audience before you build the product, because there is no point of having a product and then hoping that people are just going to show up because they won’t, of course.
Joe: Yeah. That’s excellent advice. That’s the advice I would give two years ago me, as I was launching my online courses because I was just like “I’ll build it. It’s a $50 course, and people will buy it.” Nobody will buy it. Nobody trusts me, and I don’t have anybody to market to, so yeah. Two years ago I would take that advice in a heartbeat.
Brad: As an exercise, think about all the businesses locally that you visit and stuff, and imagine if they had an email list and how that might affect your purchasing decisions with them in the future. Right. So, if it’s a pizza place maybe you would order pizza more often if every week you got an email that said “12-inch pizzas are on sale this week,” or whatever. But there’s so much emphasis, especially local businesses I find, to focus on social media and they ignore email entirely. But there’s so much noise on social media that no one’s paying attention, so the opportunity lies in email. That’s where people are paying attention.
Joe: Absolutely. Imagine trying to have a conversation with the baseball stadium versus the people next to you on the train going to the baseball stadium, or something like that. There’s just so much going on, whereas if you’re sitting next to somebody on the train, you have a better connection. I love that. Cool. Brad, I appreciate you taking the time. Where can people find you?
Brad: I’m on the Twitters @bradt, DeliciousBrains.com is our website, and I blog there occasionally. That’s about it, nowadays.
Joe: Awesome. I will link that and everything else we talked about today in the show notes. It’s like I said, this is going to be a very show notes rich episode, so be sure to head over to HowIBuilt.it to get those. Brad, thanks again so much for joining me. I appreciate it.
Brad: Thanks, Joe. My pleasure.
Outro: Thanks so much to Brad for joining me today. I loved his trade secret about mailing lists, and it’s something that I have been hearing since the very first few episodes of this podcast. Your mailing list is invaluable, and I have found that to be true. I have put some great advice into motion lately with my mailing list, and I have seen it grow considerably as I start to launch more of my own courses. I’m going to see exactly if this strategy pays off, but I am confident it will because I’m reaching the right people. So, my question of the week for you is “What are you doing with your mailing list? Do you have one? Do you need to build it better? What’s your strategy?” Let me know by emailing me, Joe@Casabona.org or via Twitter @jcasabona. I want to thank my sponsors for today, Castos, Plesk and Pantheon. Their support means the world to me, and I deeply appreciate it. If you liked this episode, be sure to give it a rating and review on Apple Podcast. It truly helps people discover us, and I feel as we’re reaching the end of season 6 here that the show has grown considerably thanks in part to you, the listeners, giving ratings and reviews and sharing the episodes that you like. So, I deeply appreciate that.
Miniseries: With that, we’ll end the normal episode, and we’ll continue talking about how I’m building out my podcast course. Over the last two episodes, I talked about building the course itself, and in the next two episodes, I want to talk about building the tech stack. So, I went through a couple of iterations of the tech stack. My core sites started off as WPInOneMonth.com, and I intended to do actual in-person courses and in-person workshops, and I was living in Scranton, Pennsylvania at the time. I didn’t have access to a big community of people, and I certainly didn’t have the reach that I had online, so that model didn’t work out for me. But as a result, the first iteration of my online teaching website was really an events manager, and then as I decided to move more towards online courses, I looked at a few different tools like Sensei, which is an LMS that sits on top of WooCommerce. AI thought that would be a good route because I wanted to use WooCommerce and I figured “Why not have something that tightly integrates with WooCommerce?” But as I started to use Sensei, and this was a few years ago now, I realized that it didn’t do a lot of the things I wanted it to do. That’s when Justin Ferryman from LearnDash reached out. So, for the LMS I’m using LearnDash, and I’m a big fan of that. It does everything I need it to do and more, and it integrates with a whole bunch of other tools. In the next episode, I’ll talk more about the e-commerce side of things, but I am still using WooCommerce for a number of reasons. The high-level overview of the tech stack, of CreatorCourses.com, now is, LearnDash WooCommerce for e-commerce, Affiliate WP For the affiliate program, and bbPress for the forums to build that community aspect. The theme is Academy Pro. So, I will link in the show notes for this episode of a place where I list out all these tools, but that’s the general tech stack. People buy the courses through WooCommerce, and they automatically get registered. When they’re registered, I use an extension of LearnDash called LD Notifications to automatically email them. Inside of LearnDash I build out each course, each course has lessons and topics, and I try to keep the courses like I said in an earlier episode pretty focused. I try to keep them around an hour and a half or two hours if I can. But LearnDash helps me with that, and every course has a video component, and the videos are hosted by Vimeo. So, Vimeo Pro specifically, because I can lock down the videos to a specific URL so they can only be embedded in specific places, which is nice. That’s very important to me. So, that’s the general tech stack of Creator Courses. Now in the next episode, I’ll talk specifically about WooCommerce and everything that WooCommerce has to offer me and why I’m using it. But LearnDash, WooCommerce, bbPress and Affiliate WP, and then Academy Pro by StudioPress for the theme. That’s it for this episode. Thanks so much for listening, and until next time get out there and build something.