Introducing Matt Medeiros
Matt Medeiros is the host of the Mattreport.com, and you can find him in his day job over at Pagely.com.
Preferred Pronouns | He/Him
Tara: This is Hallway Chats, where we meet people who use WordPress.
Liam: We ask questions and our guests share their stories, ideas, and perspectives.
Tara: And now the conversation begins. This is Episode 125.
Tara: Welcome to Hallway Chats. I’m Tara Claeys.
Liam: And I’m Liam Dempsey. Today, we’re joined by Matt Medeiros. Matt Medeiros is the host of the Mattreport.com, and you can find him in his day job over at Pagely.com. Before I say hello to Matt, I’m just going to share that we’re going to step away from our format a little bit and do something very, very different in terms of our normal conversation. And this is really and obviously in light of the Coronavirus and all the change and chaos and headache and stress, and I suppose even positive moments that are coming out of it. So with this change in context, I’m going to go ahead and say, welcome, Matt, thanks for joining us.
Matt: Thanks for having me. I guess we have the pre-show and then we have the show. And you two go into a podcasting mode like I’ve never seen before. Your voices come down. It is just this epic experience and I’m glad to be here.
Tara: We’re really glad to have you here, Matt. You have a very long podcast history and you are well-known in the WordPress community. But I will ask you for those who don’t know you, if you can tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Matt: Yeah. I do a podcast all about WordPress entrepreneurs and business folks over at Mattreport.com. I’m doing it now for about seven years. I started an agency about a decade ago. A couple of years back, I got out of that game aand now I’m over at Pagely.com, just a managed WordPress host, and I am holding the illustrious title of account executive where I help usher people into products over at Pagely. I also host a local podcast, which I’m pretty sure we’ll talk about today, in my local market – Southcoast.fm is the URL for that – where I do literally do the same thing except for local entrepreneurs and highlight their stories and help them be heard in our local market.
Tara: That’s really interesting. I had not listened to that podcast, but I’ve read about it. And I know that you do it. And especially recently I read how you’re helping your local community in the current crisis that we’re facing. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with that concept, and also what your community is like? How difficult was it to launch this and have it become something? What’s the business community like there? Are they very connected? All those things. Tell us a little bit more about that.
Matt: The south coast of Massachusetts is conveniently wedged between an hour-ish south of Boston and about 25 minutes-ish east of Providence, Rhode Island, which is the capital of Rhode Island for folks that don’t know. And then on the sides of us are Cape Cod, which is a very prominent sort of vacation touristy spot. And then Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are literally in visual distance on a clear day from the shorelines of our beaches. So we sit in this place where there’s just a lot of traffic moving through us and away from us. New Bedford, which is the larger of the two coastal cities here was once the whaling capital of the world, and it’s actually still one of the…if not the largest fishing port in I want to say the US, and even ahead of Alaska, I think. You have to check the facts on that. But pretty large. Either one or two.
My family has been doing business in this region for forever. My background is my grandfather started one of the very first Mazda dealerships ever to be in the country back in the late 70s or early 70s. And then my family ran a car dealership ever since then all the way up until cresting over the 2000s. I think we got out of the game in 2007. My family had always had roots in the local community because of the business. And we ran the agency, my father and I, for about 10 years. And of course, tons of community interaction there. There’s no way around it.
Then once I started doing all of this internet stuff with the Matt Report, Pagely, and even the WordPress stuff in general, I needed to circle back and create something that was local-centric again. Just part of me to sort of give back to the community. And also the business community in the last few years, there was a proper business accelerator that came to town. A company named EforAll.org. And it is a nonprofit business accelerator. And there’s two cohorts every year, in spring and in winter. And then they bring in about a dozen or so people who are interested in building businesses. You could either have an idea or you could have a well thought out business plan, and you get into this cohort once you apply. They go with a 90-day sprint through this accelerator program. They learn everything soup to nuts from accounting, legal, retail, space, web, and marketing. And I’m a mentor in that program. And I connect with other business builders in that and I help them launch their business through that program.
Once I started to see the buzz start to accumulate, like we see in the WordPress world or the traditional tech world, I was like, “You know what, now’s the time to strike with a podcast,” – doing exactly what I do with the Matt Report except to my local community. Two, maybe muster up some opportunity later on in the years for any kind of opportunity, but maybe even specifically for my children. I mean, my father and my family and his family before that built a car dealership. I mean, it was always a great opportunity for me to go and work there, number one, but to meet people, give back, and make an income. And I was like, well, WordPress isn’t getting me any great seats at the local restaurants, but maybe, if I started something with a local podcast, I can give back, I can help, and maybe even build something as crazy as it sounds for my children in the future. And that was the genesis of it all.
Liam: I’ve heard you say that before on one of your many podcasts about the Southcoast.fm, giving something back for your children or building something for your children. Tell us a little bit about how the show has rolled out into the community and then, has it been embraced? Not so much what benefits have you gotten, but what benefits have the listeners or your guests gotten from being on your show? What does that local focus meant to the local community?
Matt: I think I’ve told this story before, but I remember Episode 1 went out and I was at my local coffee shop when that was still legal to go to a coffee shop. This is a couple of years back when I first started it. I walked in, and I was in line, and someone was like, “Hey, you’re the guy from that podcast?” I was like, “Wow, somebody around here is listening to the Matt Report. I can’t believe it.” So I was like, “Yeah, it was The Matt Report?” And they were like, “What is The Matt Report? They’re like, “No, don’t you do something like Southcoast?” And I was like, “This is Episode 1. How is this even happening already? This doesn’t even make sense to me.”
So it was great to sort of be in that mode where people are already starting to recognize me as a podcaster. But the big impact is a lot of people were just asking me how to do it, how to get into podcasting. Well, you know, teaching them about the return on investment and sometimes the slog that is podcasting to get to climb up that mountain. So it’s been great to be able to help and educate people and show people that podcasting isn’t out of reach. Some people think of it really tech-heavy and they have to spend a lot of money. Quite the opposite.
Again, more recently, now, especially with all this stuff, just being able to give somebody a platform to get their word out. Hard, even still in the small little pocket of South Coast Massachusetts for people to get recognized by the traditional media outlets, the newspapers, the radio stations, even they are still looking for the big buzz-worthy things and to have some kind of alternate media that somebody can reach to is hopefully fingers crossed the benefit to get some of these messages out. And now more so than ever with the stuff that’s been happening these last couple weeks.
Tara: We have a local radio station here and some friends of mine have done similar kind of format on the radio station. And then they’ve turned that into a podcast. I think radio, the station is really struggling and so podcasts have a lot more of a future than radio. But I wonder about listenership. How have you seen that grow and how have you grown it?
Matt: It’s difficult, but you just have to be grounded in some realizations. I live in a city called Fall River, and about 10 minutes down the highway is New Bedford. And that one combined, we might be 200,000. And then there’s seven, eight smaller towns around us. So this isn’t a huge space. When I look at my numbers compared to let’s say, like the Matt Report, it’s pretty much a fraction of that space. But what I’ve started to do is just measure engagement versus numbers.
So I created a local Facebook group. And this is like traditional things and we’ll talk about I guess some of the stuff today. These are like things that you hear every marketer say, start a Facebook group and start all this other stuff. The Facebook group is actually really valuable in this particular case because people still aren’t aware of podcasts and listening to podcasts and my God, how could they even find me of all people when most people are just like, “I heard Joe Rogan” has a podcast and that’s all they know. So measuring the engagements through the Facebook group, and an email list has been the real gauge that I look at success.
A lot of people are just bringing me in to speak. Earlier this morning, I did a Zoom call with that EforAll program for all of their local chapters. It’s just opening up opportunities in different ways for me. I don’t really look at the number account in this case.
Liam: That sounds like it’s pretty akin to the way that Tara and I think about Hallway Chats. That if you look at our podcast downloads it very much pale in comparison to what the Matt Report is doing. And the way we look at it is…what do we get Tara? About 100 to 150 listens per episode. And sometimes it takes a few months to get to 150. But the way we look at it is, if anyone of us showed up at a WordCamp unannounced and said, “Hey, I’m going to be in this room at one o’clock this afternoon answering some questions about my life and how I live and what I think about my experiences, and 150 people showed up, that’d be pretty impressive. We’re just talking to you if you’re afraid for talking to the digital blue-collar workers, and that we could fill a room of people who just want to hear their stories is something I think Tara and I consider real success. Even if it’s not podcasting, success in that sense.
Tara: It’s a service to them so that they can share it with their friends and family and clients and whoever they want to share it with as well. I think I want to ask you because I’ve been thinking about this since we knew we were going to be talking to you is the idea of our WordPress community being I think, rightfully prideful about our no borders global connection. We are very focused on the fact that we don’t live near each other and that we are friends with each other across the world and how much that drives our relationships in WordPress. And here we are at a time where that is still really important, but as you’re finding and as we’re finding when we have clients who are local, you know, your local connections are so important at a time of crisis. And knowing your neighbors, knowing your local businesses and helping them survive is something I don’t think as WordPress entrepreneurs we necessarily think about.
Matt: I mean, a lot of people, we sort of get…I don’t want to say we get taught this, but we absorb it, where it’s like if you’re going to build a business, don’t be doing it at your local chamber. There’s plenty of opportunities online to optimize and Google SEO and products, and digital learning. And we sort of get fed this idea of opportunity. Which isn’t wrong, it’s just a different opportunity of doing everything online. Every agency owner…I shouldn’t say every, but I know like when I was five years into building the agency, it was just like, “Man, I got to do this thing called digital products because I am so sick of talking to people. I’m so sick and tired of hand-to-hand combat. So you immediately go to, how do I remove myself from this human interaction, only to find out that building products probably takes 10 x more human interaction than you actually realize. And then it sort of just comes full circle in times like this.
My impetus for the Southcoast.fm podcast is…I mean, WordPress like I said, isn’t doing me anything in my local community. And that’s fine. Maybe some people it doesn’t matter to them. It’s just instilled in me to do something local, give back local, and how can I use my particular skill set to give back at that capacity. That’s either a challenge for some people or just second nature.
Liam: I want to ask you to go into that a bit more. You shared a video on YouTube earlier, a few days ago anyway about practical ways that folks with our skill sets, the ability to get websites online to do some kind of digital marketing. And even if we’ve never done it before, we’ve done enough of this type of stuff that we can figure out how to get a Facebook live up and running kind of thing or whatever the example might be. Can you share some of those ideas. Not to take traffic away from your own YouTube video? And certainly, we’ll share that in our show notes and in the transcript, but maybe you can just tell us a little bit about what you shared there because I thought it was particularly direct and helpful and practical.
Matt: One of the early lessons in my life was back in…I think it was high school. It might have been middle school. I think it was high school. It might even been called some kind of like entrepreneurial program. It was like a pilot program. They were trying to get students to become entrepreneurs. And it might not have been that particular label, but the point of it was you get to have the skillset and sort of document it and write about it and present it. Probably like many people listening to this, I was that IT person in the school when the teacher couldn’t figure it out. It was, like, I would help out.
This is back in the day when we used to have printers, and printer cables and installing a printer was really complex. And I remember sitting with the woman that was ahead of this program, and she was coming up with the curriculum. I was one of the test students, and she said, “Okay, well write up how to connect a printer to a computer.” And I was like, “Who doesn’t know how to do this? This is the easiest thing. You plug it in Windows, you put in some drivers.” And she was like, “Listen, these are skills that people don’t know. And you know it, it’s second nature to you, and other people don’t and you have value there.” And as crazy as it sounds, when I was in it, I couldn’t understand what she was talking about at the time.
Fast forward many, many years later, what I recently did in the local market when all of this stuff was going down, and knowing that I couldn’t just quickly get, you know, whatever 20 or even a dozen businesses lined up to do a podcast with me to get their message out, I simply took to Google Docs and I created a Google Docs form that spit out to publicly accessible Google spreadsheet. I just put it out on all my local social channels and I said, “If you’re a small business being affected by this thing, fill out this form. Drop in your business name, location, website.” And I had a couple of questions like, how is it impacting your business? Do you think it’s going to impact you financially? Do you have to send people home and work from home? Just a quick little five or six questions survey. And I just had the local business community pass it around.
And I said, “If you just want to share your feedback, this will help us all collectively to figure out what’s going on and how are we being impacted. And if we can share this data at the end, or throughout this, maybe somebody can reach out to help you.” It’s just a way to create an opportunity for everybody. As crazy as it sounds like to say, “find opportunity here,” but maybe somebody sees this list, they say, “I know how to help this person. I see what their pain point is. I know how to, whatever, send a bunch of orders their way somehow, some way.”
I passed it around, shot it to a couple of businesses and it got picked up by both local papers. One of them tweeted it out. Another one wrote up an article about it in the local newspaper. So we got more eyeballs on it. And it’s about 30 or 35 businesses have filled out the survey so far. But there’s been a lot of eyeballs on it. And that was the main impetus behind it. So it’s just like Google Docs. You didn’t have to build a website. It wasn’t even WordPress. Don’t tell anybody. But it was just taking two pieces of technology that are fairly commonplace and saying, “Here’s how it can help these small businesses.”
Tara: That’s great. Have you seen common threads? Have you seen connections made that way? What’s been the results so far? It’s early. I know.
Matt: Unfortunately, that’s the common thread that there’s a lot of people that I know that when you post it on social media, Instagram, Facebook, stuff like that, they’re like, “We’re going to take it. We’ll take it and submit our results and all of this stuff.” I wish there were more based on how many people have looked at it, you know, people filling out the form. But a lot of people it’s just that uncertainty. That’s the common thread. They don’t know how they’ll get through it. They don’t really know the financial impact yet because they just simply haven’t gone through it.
But I’ve been taking a few of those in the short time I had last week available and I did a little roundtable of business owners. And then I interviewed this one gentleman who owns a hair salon, talking about how he had to lay everybody off that works for him and the impact that’s had, and he was targeting April to open up but now Massachusetts said that all nonessential businesses are closed I think until April 7 or something like that. So everyone’s kind of learning this stuff along the way here. But my sort of self-charged task at hand is to hopefully just use the podcast platform to just keep telling these stories when traditional media isn’t. And it’s not that they don’t want to it’s just that they can’t get to so many people.
Liam: That’s a great use of a local platform if ever. Matt, I want to ask you a question. I watched your video last week, I think it was last week, and I reached out to a couple of my local contacts with an offer of “Hey, do you want to help with some digital marketing and some web stuff? Jump on a call on how about what we can do and I’ll set it all up for you for free.” And I got some I guess I’ll say like mental and emotional pushback. And not the sense of like, “Oh, I’m grateful.” It was more “Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.” Or “I don’t know. I don’t think I want to go there yet.” Kind of that folks not really seeing the opportunity, perhaps because if they don’t have a website yet, that’s not where their brains at, that’s not how they think, that’s not where they’re focused.
I wonder if you’ve bumped into that. I know you do a lot with entrepreneurs, but they’re going to be thinking all about web-based marketing. Do you have experience with folks who maybe aren’t website inclined? How do you help them see the light to try to help them and you know, not ram it down their throats, you know, “You have to do this.” But here’s an opportunity. Here are some simple ways that we could do this in an afternoon or over a full Saturday kind of thing?
Matt: I think a lot of people, especially right now are afraid to admit defeat. Not that people are defeated, but it’s very difficult for them to maybe even look at this as some kind of handout or some kind of trickery. Like I get something up my sleeve, like “Here’s a free website, and then next month it’s 300 bucks.” “Where did this come from?” I think there’s a little bit of that. There’s a little bit of uncertainty around just asking for that. I can say that I’ve put this out in that video, I’ve put this out on my logo baguettes, put it on my Facebook group, that call I had earlier today. There was about 25 or 30 ish people on that call as well. And I’ve gotten two emails from this offering. I suspect there’s many people that want to do it, they’re maybe just a little timid to reach out and ask for that help.
I’ll tell you, the big thing was showing people gift cards on my other YouTube Plugin touch channel. I show people how to use this service called Gift Up!. I think it’s called giftupapp.com it’s almost like the Mailchimp of selling gift cards. It’s super easy. It’s a hosted service. They take a percentage of the gift cards, but in times like these, there’s a lot of restaurants that doors are shut; you can’t go in. You can get gift cards. But a lot of these people don’t have the technology in place. So I know those were the two people that reached out. As soon as I posted about this video on how to set up gift cards, people are like, “Oh my God, that’s what I need.” They don’t know that a website can do all these things, how should they?
Once you can show them some kind of tangible result like that, that’s when I got the initial two people to reach out to me. It’s just like everything else. I think that once you can show them something like that, that’s when the light bulb goes off. And for the consultants that are out there, we always talk – I’m using the collective we hear of like other consultants and people that pass on helpful tips – is we always say, be helpful, and you will get customers. Give, give, give, and you’ll get customers. And a lot of times just because things are normal, the world is normal when you’re giving that advice out, people look at that and translate that into I need to put up a blog to teach somebody something. They hear free and give and they just like, “Well, that’s a marketing opportunity.
I think in times like these, you literally has to say, “I will not charge you anything. This is not about making money. This is about knowing that if I can, quote-unquote, save five restaurants and get them some revenue in, that their workers will be feeding people who are coming in, who will eventually buy from me.” There’s a huge ripple effect in all of this. So you have to detach yourself from, how am I going to make money from this engagement kind of thing? And this is where the rubber meets the road of being truly helpful with your skill set. Not just like, “Here’s a PDF you can download and I’ll tell you the top 10 ways to optimize your WordPress site.” Those are helpful, sure when things are normal. But now it’s not normal. And whatever you can do to give that will be super appreciated I hope by the local businesses or nonprofits, you know, whatever. It doesn’t have to be just organizations, whatever. I’ve seen a lot of people do some clever things these last couple of weeks.
Tara: Yeah, I have a side group that’s people who are on…it’s called the Business of WordPress. And we’ve been chatting a lot about how we work with clients, existing clients, the people who need help, and I think most of us are working for free to some extent to help with these updates up. I was saying to Liam earlier, you know, you’re not going to say, I’m going to charge you to put a message on your website saying that you’re closing for six months, or three months or six weeks, and you have to let your stuff go. You can’t do that. And yet we also are business people ourselves. And so I’ve also seen a lot of concern on how our digital businesses, people will say, “Oh, you’re lucky you work from home already” or “you work online,” but our digital businesses rely on other businesses. When you talk about a ripple effect, it is important to support local businesses and also it’s a very hard decision to know what you’re giving away for free and what you’re charging for?
Matt: Yeah, I mean, this is a time, if any, to…if you put your normal business cap on and things are normal, it’s like whenever you have that client-consultant engagement and the client is like, “Yeah, yeah, just give me the price. Yeah, yeah, let’s just get this thing going.” Now we have to do discovery, we’re talking about pricing strategy, we talked about long term support on it. Now the tables are turned a little bit. Now you can say, “Look, here’s how I’m going to help you. There’s no going outside of this box. As long as you agree to this, this will work for you. You can put it on some very affordable hosting or whatever. If you’re a consultant that has their own server, maybe you host them for the next 60, 90 days. But there’ll be an endpoint to all of this stuff. And then at that point, maybe we can talk about transitioning. Maybe you don’t even want to make money. “Just here, take it. Take the website. I’ll put it on your own hosting. Here you go. That’s part of the arrangement.”
But now more than ever, through helping all of these folks, if you’re a digital consultant also worried about what’s going to happen to your job, hey, maybe the more you can help when these things do turn around, that big nonprofit will turn to you and say, “Hey, you did a solid or you did the community a solid, and we’ll turn to you for advice or for the next project.” And then certainly, it sort of helps educate those would-be customers, in the long run, to say, “See, you listened to me, we got it done. We didn’t fixate on which color blue your neighbor’s daughter’s cousin wanted us to use. We just went with what the theme had and we got you a contact form and you sold $300 worth of gift cards.” Whatever it is. So it’s definitely a good time to sort of slow everyone down from design by committee and let’s just get this thing to a solid platform.
Tara: Yeah, good point.
Liam: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s important to also just to realize that generosity can hurt. And that’s okay. And there are times for us to be generous. We have an abundance now, but in six months, will we have abundance? Who knows. In three months, will we have abundance? Who knows? But that doesn’t prevent us from giving. And I think the gift with no expectations in return, not even if I help 10 people, maybe somebody helped me back, I think the returns on that are difficult to quantify. Certainly, in a business way, they’re probably nearly impossible. But I don’t have any examples in my entire life of having really the few times I’ve given truly generously of ever having been stung or left dry, buy that and maybe that person never paid me back. But somebody down the road did in some kind of unexpected karma-ish way. In this time and age, I think we do have to be careful about counting the ways in which we’re generous. We need to take care of our loved ones and our families, but we can do so in ways that might amaze wholesale for creative and generous.
Matt: Yeah. Something that I’ve been sort of talking about is keeping the marketing going. I know a lot of people might feel weird, especially a lot of down and out small businesses right now. And that is, keep talking to people, keep posting on Instagram or whatever you’re doing because you do want to, you want to stay as much as you can top of mind for when we turn around from all this stuff.
Liam: Now we are coming up to just about the very end of our 30 minutes together. That’s our typical recording time. This is a unique recording time so we don’t need to stick to that 30 minutes. But be before I wrap it all up, I just want to ask if there’s anything that we haven’t covered, that we haven’t asked you about, that you haven’t had a chance to share that you think would be particularly relevant really particularly with an eye towards either digital blue-collar worker or the local community. Now may be a great time to do so.
Matt: I mean, I feel like you know that that point about just like giving and not looking at it from just a monetary transaction is very important for folks. But control it. Like you said, you know, from our side if you were just give giving away, give, give, give WordPress sites, eventually, it’s not going to be sustainable for you mentally. Nevermind just monetarily. I’d say that If you’re in your local market, definitely turn to local and focus in on what you can do.
I’m naturally a salesperson. I’m naturally okay knocking on somebody’s email box and saying, “Hey, check this thing out.” It is exactly what I did with the survey. I know a bunch of people that are local reporters at both newspapers and I said, “Hey, this is simple.” It’s just like, “Hey, this might be of interest to you, this kind of unique thing that’s going on here.” And sharing that with them. I’ve reached out to all the chambers and local committees or business groups that, “Hey, I’m available for a Zoom call. If you just want me to show people, want me to show your group how to do a particular thing online via podcasting or web, I’m available. Obviously no fee, and I’ll talk to you for 45 minutes” or whatever it is that they might need particular help with. And that will be hopefully for the digital blue-collar, some of the currency that you’ll be able to trade in when this is all done.
Tara: Thank you for sharing that. I think a mantra that I like to think about often is, this is what I can offer. Thinking about what is in your wheelhouse to offer, what you are able to offer at this moment in time and assess that and offer it. And you genuinely offer, “this is what I can offer.” That’s the most that you can do. So we appreciate your offering to joining us.
Matt: One last real quick. Yoga studios. I know so many like small…not even yoga studios, but like small boutique fitness instructors and small little places. And I’ve seen a lot of them turn to just doing live streams and stuff like that. Maybe use a plugin like LifterLMS and build like a little membership lesson thing for folks. That one might be a little difficult but there’s opportunity there to use and leverage WordPress, leverage your skillset. Have a little template thing, and really light up somebody’s opportunity for their business.
Tara: Yeah, for sure. For sure. Matt, thanks so much. It’s been a comfort I’ll say to have you here joining us and talking about how we can be better citizens in our local communities. Really do appreciate that.
Matt: Thanks for having me. It was great to talk.
Tara: We wish you well. Take care.
Liam: Thanks, Matt. We’ll see you online at the Mattreport.com and on Southcoast.fm. Thanks for taking the time to be with us, Matt.
Liam: Thanks for listening to the show. We sure hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Tara: If you like what we’re doing here – meeting new people in our WordPress community – we invite you to tell others about it. We’re on iTunes and at hallwaychats.com.
Liam: Better yet, ask your WordPress friends and colleagues to join us on the show. Encourage them to complete the “Be on the show” form on our site, to tell us about themselves.