A Conversation with Joe Howard about the WPMRR Virtual Summit
Joe Howard is the founder and Chief Innovation Officer of WPBuffs, and is organizing the second WPMRR Virtual Summit.
Event Date: September 21-23
Event Website: https://wpmrr.com/
Twitter | @wpmrrsummit
Topher: Hey everyone! My name is Topher.
Cate: And I’m Cate.
Topher: And this is Hallway Chats. We’d like to take a moment to thank our sponsor Nexcess, a Liquid Web brand. Be sure to check out their new product, WP Quickstart. Web Quickstart is a fast and affordable way to build membership sites on WordPress with packages beginning at just $49. Visit Nexcess.net to get started.
Now let’s get started with Hallway Chats. Our guest today is Joe Howard. Welcome!
Joe: Thank you, Topher. Thanks, Cate. Happy to be here.
Cate: Hey! We’re really glad to have you. We know the WPMRRVS, virtual summit, is just around the corner, and we’re really glad you took a few minutes to help us tell people more about it. Well, it’s a great, exciting three days. There’s so many things about it that continue on afterwards that we’d love to be able to get this episode out so that it continues to be on people’s minds.
Topher: I have a quick question to start with. Joe, you started WP Buffs. Is WPMRR an extension of Buffs or is this a Joe Howard special?
Joe: That’s a good question because I don’t know exactly what it is. The story behind it is that at WP Buffs we do website management, and we started doing white label website management, which means we work with agencies and freelancers. And they wanted to offer 24/7 support. And so we would offer them as white label solution where they could sell our care plans and we provide all the fulfillment.
But then we also ran into some people who didn’t want to do white label support. They just wanted to do the support themselves. They’re just was like, “How do you do it? Can you tell us?” So I was like, “Oh, why don’t we do a course on teaching people how to do website management?”
Joe: So that’s how WPMRR started. It was actually an online course. You know, folks could log in… you can’t register for the course anymore. But folks who originally had access still have access to be able to log in to a little like secret login area.
So created this course for folks. It pretty much open sourced everything we did it WP Buffs. And then it was great until I realized, oh, you can’t just build a course and launch it, and then it’s evergreen. You have to keep it updated. Like we’re changing things every week at WP Buffs. So it’s like, “Do I have to update this course every week?”
Joe: So it got to the point, you know, months later, maybe about a year later where I was like, “Hmm, I don’t feel as comfortable having it up anymore because I don’t want to give people old stuff we were doing. It needs to be new. And if I’m not updating it, then let’s change it up a little bit.”
So instead of doing a course, we can keep it as the WPMRR Podcasts and we could also fold in the WPMRR community on Circle, and then the virtual summit. Which is like, okay, we can do this, once a year, big to three-day event, and that itself is the content. And a lot of that can be evergreen and people can look at the date and stuff. So that made, I think, more sense for my perspective of where I wanted to go.
So to answer your question, WPMRR kind of grew out of WP Buffs. This is kind of a separate conversation but I’ve recently transitioned out of the CEO position at WP Buffs. I’m now the CIO. Again, that’s a whole nother conversation. Nick is now the CEO of WP Buffs.
But that kind of transitions WPMRR a little bit like less under WP Buffs and a little bit more into its own thing. That’s what I’m focusing on. I want to make it a great community. I want to have great podcast content. I want to have the best possible virtual summit, which is very top of mind since it’s next week. So, yeah. I think that’s what more obviously WPMRR is.
Cate: That’s really cool. I mean, because they complement each other so nicely. But part of what I like about WPMRR and the virtual summit is that, well, it grew out of the website maintenance area. It doesn’t apply just to people looking to do website maintenance. I don’t have to want to be recreating the buffs to get so much out of the virtual summit and the community around it. You’ve really done a great job of making it fairly universal.
Joe: Cool, yeah. Thank you. I appreciate it. There’s a space for that. And obviously, like I have somewhat of a niche expertise in terms of building a productized service, growing a productized services company, running a productized services company, doing website management, all the nuances that are entailed in that. So there’s a space in the community for that.
There’s a website management space so that people can talk specifically about that. It’s pretty active. But I like the idea of I want to help people build monthly recurring revenue with WordPress. I wanted it to be a little broader for folks. Because whether you’re trying to build subscription revenue doing website management, or you’re building a plugin that’s doing annual recurring revenue, or maybe you’re doing SEO as a service, and that’s just like a flat, systemized package service every month, there’s a lot of different ways to build subscription revenue.
And I think that just because I do website management, and someone else does SEO, or someone else does design work, or someone else has a SaaS, real Software as a Service, I can learn from all those people too. And it’s really helpful actually to learn from outside of your specific niche because it gives you all sorts of ideas and chemistry and things bubble up you wouldn’t have thought of before.
So I like kind of having everybody doing subscription revenue in one place because it just adds to that—what I think is a pretty dynamic space to be able to improve your subscription revenue in MRR.
Cate: I was thinking the same thing, that when I start working with people who have similar goals as me, but are doing it in different ways, I learned so much from them. Seeing things from other people’s perspectives and what they’ve learned from their own individual struggles, because not every business hits the same bumps, that every business is going to hit bumps. So think of you learning and growing and in unique ways that maybe other people in your industry aren’t necessarily because they’re not making those same connections.
Topher: I think it’s interesting that WPMRR grew out of that course about how to maintain websites. I’ve known about WPMRR, your podcast, and what you’re doing for a long time. But because of what I do in WordPress, I’ve always thought of it through the lens of a freelance web developer. How can I do that? And that’s quite different from offering a SaaS or something like that.
But then again, to a certain extent, it’s not. I mean, I build websites and they tend to be one-offs. But if I really want MRR, then I’m offering them a service, I’m continuing to maintain their website and do SEO and all that kind of stuff. It surprised me just now, I don’t know why, when you said that it was related to the Buffs business, because I don’t do that. And yet, it seems very relevant to me at the same time.
Joe: I talked with a lot of people who have started businesses, people who work at small businesses, businesses are going to differ. They’re going to have different challenges when you get into the nitty-gritty day-to-day stuff. They’re just in different industries, they have different target audiences, they do different work. A lot is different across all different businesses. So the specific challenges are going to be different.
But if you zoom out and you look at probably the three to five biggest challenges most small businesses have, you find a ton of overlap. Just like a Venn diagram where it’s like the intersection is what’s similar, and then you’re going to have the outsides which are different. But that intersection, there’s a ton in there.
I talk to a ton of people from different businesses, like hiring, and onboarding, and personnel, that’s a big challenge for a lot of people. So that’s just one area where if you were to take a hundred small businesses, at least small businesses that have done some hiring before, you’re not going to have five of them that will say hiring was kind of challenging. You probably going to have like 30, 40, 50, 60. Like it’s kind of everyone. So I’m with you, Topher.
Topher: My local mechanic is a guy with just like two employees in a small shop, and I am very often surprised by how very, very similar our issues are with our businesses: dealing with clients, dealing with people who don’t want to pay, people who are unhappy with the product they got, you know, all that stuff. I’m like, “Oh, man, we have the same job. It’s just you have a wrench and I have a keyboard.”
Joe: Totally. Yeah, yeah, it’s the same thing. It’s like, you know, we deliver a service, 9 out of 10 people really liked it, one out of 10 didn’t. Okay, how are we going to deal with that? How are we going to use it to learn? That doesn’t change across any business. No business is 100% perfect in their delivery of their product or service or whatever they’re doing.
You have to find ways to improve what you’re doing over time. And that becomes harder when you have more people on the team, when you have more complex business. So, yeah, that’s a great example, Topher of like everyone… that’s a challenge, whether big or small, for everybody. Lower churn.
Cate: So all of that has to be really complex to try to channel into a three-day conference.
Joe: You said it.
Cate: Your conference is coming up on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd of September. Just next… I’m sorry to say this. Next Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
Joe: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Cate: So how do you go about fitting all of that into three days?
Joe: Maybe I have multiple things to say about it. I had two thoughts in my head this year about how we wanted to split up the days of the conference. The way that WPMRR community is right now, it’s focused on people at different stages of their business. It’s people who are trying to hit this 10k MRR mark, which is kind of this usual, like, I can probably go full time on it if it’s $10,000 MRR. Like I can quit my full-time job and go do that thing if I wanted to. That’s a big marker for a lot of people.
And then there’s the next marker of 83,000 MRR, which is a million dollar a year business, which obviously you have to scale pretty well to be able to get to that point. But that’s where we find a lot of our folks in the community they want to get to.
What I was thinking about, in the summit this year, was do I want to have two days that are separate? Like split up like that? One starter and one advanced or something? But we decided to keep it the same as last year, in which the first day is more sales, marketing content, more how do I get the customers, attract the customers?
Cate: Sure. sure.
Joe: And then second day, once you have the customers, okay, how do I do operations? How do I systemize things well? Things like that. And we went with that because in our mind… Brian is doing something with me.
Topher: Brian Richards?
Joe: Right. It’s Brian Richards. I forget not everyone… I’m like, “Everyone knows Brian Richards. Brian Richards, for folks who don’t know, but he does WooSesh, WordSesh. We kind of fell on this. Like it’s just going to be easier for people to decide what they want to attend, and if they want to attend the whole day. It’s like, what are their challenge areas is where we want to go.
We did a feedback survey and most people just said, like, “Well, I have sales and marketing and lead generation. That’s a big challenge.” So we’re like, “Oh, well, that should just be a day so people won’t have to say like, “I want to these two sessions that day and those two sessions that day on the same topics.” Like let’s put all the topics together. So that’s how we’re doing that in terms of the day today.
We have day three this year, which is website management. Bringing in the… okay, WP Buffs does website management. We want to help this industry evolve. We want to help everybody level up.
Cate: Sure, yeah.
Joe: People who are like me five years ago, you know, they’re just starting out, give them a leg up. And we have people from all sorts of management companies. I just recorded with folks from sitecare.com, Valet, Maintainn with two Ns and WebDevStudios. So a lot of folks who are coming together to give these great talks and roundtables in that area. That’s day three. Okay, I know I’ve talked a little bit.
But the last thing I wanted to add was that we’re streaming the summit in the Circle community that we’ve built. That’s different than last year. The idea there is I wanted to mention this, because you said, “How are you supposed to fit all this stuff in three days?”
Joe: Well, from where I’m coming from, it’s actually like you’re never going to attend a three-day summit and then the fourth day, the day after, you’re like, “I did it?”
Topher: No, I know.
Joe: “I did all the stuff I was going to do.” Right? So the point of streaming into the community is that I’m hopeful that people will be in the community. They have to sign up to be a part of the community, to attend the summit. And then hopefully they can actually continue to grow their MRR over the year, not just over three days. So the summit is going to be great. It’s going to give a ton of actionable items, all the stuff you can do, all these great talks.
Okay, now, the next month, which talk are you going to implement those three end action items from? What’s your challenge area? And how can we do this together? Like that’s the whole point of that community is how can we collectively, responsibly grow a monthly recurring revenue? That’s the only impetus behind what we’re doing in the community.
And so I’m hopeful that the three days of the summit translates into weeks and months of getting at it, and doing it together and feeling like you’re not the only person struggling or having this challenge. Someone post a challenge, 10 other people are following, following. Like, I have this challenge too. Like, hey. So I’m hopeful that’ll be a value to folks who want to really hit the ground running in terms of growing subscription revenue.
Cate: I think you’ve really addressed an issue that a lot of conferences don’t cover. I go to something like this and I’m so excited about it, and I’m ready to act on it. And then I get home and the rest of real life happens, you know, and you get a little behind, or you get a little stuck, and you don’t necessarily know who to turn to, to ask for help, or you don’t have somebody kind of alongside you, helping, motivate you, or you spill coffee all over your notes, whatever it is.
I love the idea of having a community around it, where you can stay motivated at your own pace, and where the new people you know, trying to reach that initial 10,000 mark can be helped by the people who’ve already made it to the 80,000, and you’ve got the support of the people in between.
I also really think the structure of the summit plays nicely, in that regardless of what your current monthly recurring revenue is, you’re always dealing with sales and content and how to run the business itself. There’s things that will always be challenging no matter how good you get at them. Because as your business grows, it just continues to get harder. Again, it’s like having a cat. You still have to feed the cat even if you fed it yesterday.
Joe: The cats need to be fed every day.
Cate: I know, right? It’s crazy.
Joe: Honestly, this is an experiment from where I’m standing. Like I don’t know how well this is going to work. I’m the only admin right now in the community. I’m trying to make changes on a weekly basis to try and put the community in a better position to help more people responsively hit their MRR goals. And it’s hard. I don’t know exactly how to set the community up to do that. I’m going to be honest here on this podcast, I’m figuring it out, too. I’m creating this on the way as well.
But I think that I have a pretty good idea of where I want things to go. And a lot of it’s just going to be about getting more folks in there, having people be active, allowing people to easily give us feedback on things, learning from how other people are doing things, and then just continuing to mold the community and really create a community structure that’s going to be helpful for people.
Is that 10k and 83k MRR mark spaces, are those the most effective ways to help people? I think so right now. But I don’t know that 100%. It’s like I could change it next month and maybe it’s going to be more effective or less effective. But that’s also just how I do things. I’m a tinker, I’m always going to just kind of like… I’m going to wonder how something’s going to work out and then I’ll just try it. Because for the MRR community, it’s okay to try new things.
Joe: If people see things changed, and they… they see things changing, they maybe hear this podcast, they know I’m doing it because I’m trying to always take a step forward. I think that’s what’s most important for me so.
Cate: And if you don’t try things you’re never going to know. Communities are so incredibly dynamic. You want to be trying new things, and you want to be unafraid of failure. Because it just means that it wasn’t the right thing at the right time. It could work great, you know, next October, but it may not work this time. That doesn’t mean it was wrong. It just wasn’t right.
Joe: Totally. I did want to mention the choice to build on the Circle platform as well. And Cate, I want to give you a shout-out too because you helped put all that together before it launch. So shout out to Cate for sure.
Cate: Yeah, I was glad I could help.
Joe: Yeah, yeah. There’s a lot of different ways to have an online community. And there’s a lot of Facebook groups and Slack channels, that folks can have different experiences in. We didn’t want to go with Facebook because I’m just kind of anti-Facebook person. I’m sure a lot of people are. I never log into Facebook. But I have Facebook News Feed Eradicator Chrome extension. I’m just over Facebook stuff. If I am not going to be on it, then I’m not going to be able to do a good job with the community.
Cate: That is invested as you are in it too. You don’t want to hand it over to somebody else. Like you don’t want to give Facebook ownership of your group by-
Joe: Yeah, that’s a whole nother… Like, it’s closed.
Cate: Right, exactly.
Joe: And so if they decide to shut my stuff down, they don’t like what people are saying, “All these crazy WordPress people talking open source,” they could shut it down if they want to. There’s Slack as well. But I always felt like when I was in slack channels like it’s… what I like about Slack channel is I can DM anybody. I can reach out to someone or… But in terms of the conversations, I miss everything. If I’m not there, I have to hit a button to go up. It’s just like to me it’s not good like…
It’s a tool that wasn’t built for communities, per se. It was built for work communities. So that’s a little bit different thing. Circle is like Facebook, it has all the same posting and liking and commenting features, but it’s its own standalone thing.
Circle is technically a private company as well. They could shut my group down probably if they wanted to as well. I’m a big proponent of open source, but when the opportunity costs of standing up a community easily outweigh the ability to 100% own things. Like I made that decision. To me, that was an okay decision to make. So I’m still a proponent of open source stuff, I just chose not to do it in this case, because I want to put my focus on the community, not on the other pieces of managing my own open source software. So that was Circle.
What you said Cate was also… I want to bring it back to what you said a few minutes ago about you can consume information at your own pace. I really like that. I think the last 18 months or so have been really stressful for a lot of people. And I think there’s a lot of value to having an event or community where you have to show up for live events or show up for in-person things. Clearly, there’s value there. And I’m sure we’ll continue to do some of that in the community.
But I like Circle because it’s built to be asynchronous. So you can come in and you can see posts by different people. You can turn on notifications so that you get a notification inside the browser, but you don’t get emailed and you don’t get the browser, you know, push notification. You can use the search functionality, it’s excellent. If you have a challenge around hiring, just search “hiring.” Like 10 things pop down, about 10 conversations around hiring or whatever challenge people are having.
So I like that people can consume the information at their own pace and come on whenever they want to. And it’s easy to lurk. And you don’t have to. You don’t have to come. Not everybody wants to be the super active member.
The goal of the community is to help people responsibly grow their MRR whether they’re super active, or whether they’re quieter in the background, whether they like one post. If I can help someone in one way, or ten or a hundred, that’s the point. And I don’t need that to be… show up to my thing live. We’re going to put all the videos on YouTube. I’m not making that a secret. For free. People can go watch whenever they want to.
If you want free merch, free WPMRR merch, hey, then you need to show up for the summit. I don’t want people to show up if they don’t feel like they have to. It’s all good.
Cate: Well, it’s really nice to provide that variety though, because we all learn at different times and in different ways. And like you said, it really has been a challenging 18 months. It’s not looking like it’s going to give a whole lot easier that much sooner.
Joe: It’s like almost we had like a peek in there. Oh, maybe, but hmm, not quite.
Cate: Yeah. And so having the options to learn when you’re ready and to interact as you’re comfortable with the amount of energy you have left to give it’s just such a great value to the community. Circle does do a great job of making it really easy for people to get in and get involved, which I love. So the summit is free, correct?
Cate: So three days, free advice from people, and amazing community that you can be involved in. You said that the sessions will eventually be up on YouTube so that people can consume them there as well, which is fantastic. Anything else you want to tell us about it? That free merch, you know, if you’re there?
Joe: Yeah. I want to do some merch giveaways. Speaker lineup is great this year. It was great last year.
Topher: Yes. I was going to ask you some questions about speakers.
Joe: Go ahead, Topher.
Topher: If I can lightly pivot there. What are you looking for in a speaker? How do you choose? What makes a good WPMRR speaker? I mean, aside from being able to speak. Which people are good at having that wisdom?
Joe: I think there are multiple things that do. We’re looking for speakers this year… I had certain topics I wanted touched on. There were certain topics that we touched on last year that need a new kind of paralleled or very similar topic because they were just so popular. There were some things that we didn’t get to touch on last year that people gave in the feedback survey this year and we said, “Oh, we need to give a talk on that for sure.”
So that’s what led to really the speaker selection because we just want to provide the… We want to give the best content we can. I mean, if we’re not doing that, what’s the point? Like Erin Flynn, for example, we had Erin Flynn. She’s giving a talk on… I believe her talk is growing and scaling a freelance business.
Joe: That was a big driver because a lot of our attendees are freelancers. Right?
Joe: So it’s like an easy choice to want to do that in terms of building your monthly recurring revenue as a freelancer. I brought Kristina Romero in and she’s talking on day three. I’ll give a shout-out to Kristina also because I talked about my course before, and some people might be like, “Hey, I want that course.” Kristina Romero has a great course on care plan stuff. So go take her course. I think it’s wpcaremarket.com. So people should go check that out. If you want official course, you can sign up for it.
But she’s giving a talk on how to make your care plans and website management profitable-
Joe: …which is a big challenge area for a lot of people. You’ll look at a lot of management companies and they’re, in my opinion, really underpriced. Like why do you just have $30 a month…? That doesn’t… How would you…? How? How are you going to grow then? If you try to grow, that’s going to crush you.
But it’s a challenge for a lot of people. And it’s not just like a pricing challenge. It’s also like maybe a psychological challenge. Like, “I can’t raise my prices. Is what I do really worth $100 or 100 pounds or whatever a month?” That’s a challenge. And Kristina is talking about that. Because I’ve talked with a ton of website management folks over the years and that’s a big challenge is how do I price a productized service, specifically, website management?
So Kristina is talking about how to make your care plan work profitable, which is probably essential for all businesses. You probably want to run a profitable business. So, hopefully that kind of answered your question.
Joe: For instance, I want a good content, we got a lot of feedback from the last year, and just based on my experience of talking to people. That’s why we hence selected folks to speak on certain topics. That’s probably how we got about 80% of our speakers. And then the other 20% kind of got plugged in through either maybe folks who have been on the podcast, which is another value to running a podcast. I get to talk to all sorts of great people.
Cate: Oh, yeah.
Joe: I’ve talked to awesome people for like 45 minutes. You two know. “So, hey, I had a great conversation with that person, but it felt like we could talk for like three hours on that topic. We miss that topic. Oh, I really want to talk about… Hey.” That’s super easy plug-and-play. I know their personality, I have their email address. I know, they’re a great person. I know, maybe they want an opportunity to speak.
I don’t even have to like put an email together that’s like, “I formally ask you to…” It’s like a slack message and it’s like, “Yo, you want to give a talk to the summit?” And like, “Yeah, that sounds cool. Just let me know what I need.” And that’s easy. So that was probably how the last 15% to 20% of people got plugged in. There you go. That’s speaker section.
I will say, again, just Brian Richards and I doing the summit. And I really like the idea of doing an open call for speakers. That does require a little bit more work, and bandwidth, and energy, and probably some other folks working on the summit. So that’s why we didn’t do that this year. So we’ve done two years of kind of our outreach for speakers.
Another reason I really like doing blind acceptance is it does help a lot with diversity of speaker candidates. Of course, I always want to be pulling from a diverse pool of folks, not just like, “Who’s my network of WordPress space?” Because it’s just like most people who we know probably their network of WordPress folks is going to skew in a certain direction.
So I use websites like Underrepresented in Tech, trying to do some outreach to folks as well, in terms of just getting that as broad a diverse range of people in terms of outreach as possible. But I think the outreach is still not the ideal way to do that. So that is something I admit that next year I would love to do that.
We’ll see what happens with the 2022 summit. Maybe we’ll have more official sponsors to help us continue to step up in those areas as well. So I’m following a big Orange Heart in that capacity as I’m sure a lot of summit folks are. I talk to them a lot. And you know, folks like you Cate doing great work over there. There’s a lot of stuff y’all do over there that folks like me are like, “Hmm, yes, I would like to do exactly that, please.” So it’s always a work in progress as I’m sure it is at the Big Orange Heart too.
Cate: Yeah, yeah. I think you’ve done a great job with a small conference. It is important to keep it manageable. And while it’s great to be able to do an open call for speakers, when you’ve got a very topical oriented conference, starting with what you know and growing it, like you did for number two, and then opening up the community where you then start to create your pool of potential new speakers, and just again, continue to be seen better in the community, you’ll find more of those speakers. But it is a challenge.
Speaker selection of everything I’ve done is always a challenge. You would love to let everybody speak, you would love to have it be just completely open mic, but you also don’t want to waste people’s time by not giving them the best information you can. And so really it’s hard. And I think you’ve done a really great job of it.
Joe: Cool. I appreciate it. As you two probably know, and people who are listening to this podcast can probably hear it, I’m pretty off the cuff and informal with most things I do. So that open mics thing sounds awesome.
Cate: I know.
Joe: Maybe I’d be like, “Let’s do that.” But on the other side of things, you want things to be curated enough so that you’re guaranteed a floor of value delivery. It’s this quality… Even though it’s a free event, you don’t want to throw a bad event. You want to throw a good event. You have sponsor sponsoring the event, so it’s got to be a good event. So probably somewhere in the middle there is a good, happy medium.
But yeah, I mean, it’s funny because my podcast is super informal. I just kind of have folks on and we talk about whatever we want to talk about. Usually WordPress-related, but like, whatever. We go on a tangent for 10 minutes, like I don’t care. Hey, talk about family, hey, talk about that thing you did last week, hey, that vacation, whatever. It’s like hearing that information adds value in itself.
But the summit is a little different. It’s slightly more formal to I think bring maybe those beginners or people coming into the WordPress space just in that foundation. So that I can maybe then talk to them on the podcast in three months, and that thing I said on the podcast that like seemed off the cuff was actually super important, they’ll get that because they have that foundation knowledge, where someone who just started that little seed may not grow. And probably shouldn’t because they’re just not at that stage yet. So it’s all a work in progress. But yeah, I appreciate that.
Cate: And then again another reason to have the community alongside the event, because you can have more of those informal conversations, you can, again, get more voices involved in the conversation without ever necessarily everybody talking at the conference.
Topher: I have one more question and then we should wrap it up. Your first summit was after the pandemic started? Is that correct?
Joe: September of 2000? I’m like, “What year is it?” Yes, same time last year was 2020 summit. So correct.
Topher: What I’m getting at is, is that why it’s virtual? Will we see an in-person WPMRR summit at some point?
Joe: I’ve talked with people about this. I would love to do something in person in the future. I’ve been to PressNomics before, which is the Pagely conference. I mean, it’s thrown by Pagely, but they have sponsors, they raise a lot of money. It’s like the PressNomics is the economics of WordPress. And I loved that event.
That was probably one of the best WordPress events, WordCamp or not, that I’ve ever been to because it was totally my bag. It was like, “WordPress economic.” “Boom, where do I sign up?” So I loved that event. But that’s also a lot of event management. Like if I think virtual event is to manage…
Topher: It’s an entirely different kind of event.
Joe: Oh, my. Yeah, Topher. Whoa. I don’t think I really have the chutzpah to want to do something that formal. Although I think it adds tremendous value, and I think it would be somewhat fun to do. I like the idea of doing maybe more of… Chris Lema had this event called BeachPress. It’s not CaboPress. CaboPress is a little bit more…
Topher: Yeah, I’ve been.
Joe: There you go. Were we there the same year, Topher?
Joe: It was 2019.
Joe: Okay. CaboPress is like a little bit more of, I don’t know, business networking sort of event.
Joe: But BeachPress was literally Chris being like, “I got this like 20 room Airbnb, you know, an hour outside of San Diego. Sign up, grab a flight, come and co work and hang out.” That event was equally awesome in some ways because it was so informal and we got together for like an hour a day just to kind of like talk about stuff.
Some people gave some short talks about stuff, but mostly it was just chillin’ and co-working and letting it organically happen. “Hey, you want to go work on that thing?” “Sure.” Hey, you have this challenge?” “Oh, doesn’t that person do something similar? Oh, I should go talk to that person.” Or like, “Hey…”
I like that event because, one, I think it adds tremendous value just to be surround… you know, you’ve heard that conversation. You become like the people you surround yourself with.
Joe: Well, it was just kind of like that. You can do it informally, it doesn’t have to be formal. And two, I just have to find an Airbnb and kind of just put the word out there in my community. We’ve got – what? 300, 350 people in the community right now. Maybe in a year from now we’ll have 1,000 or 3000 or 5,000, then 20 people may show up from that.
I don’t think too much to expect in terms of conversion, but that to me would be a success. Like if I could do an event like that, that sounds like more of maybe my style. I think it helps and adds value and would be fun, and would also be easy to plan. Pretty easy and not a ton of work. Shout out to Pagely folks who do PressNomics. It was fantastic event. Just like, man, like, whoa, a lot of hours to put in, a lot of work for me.
Cate: And you know, it’s important to have those different events that have different feel to them. PressNomics was great. I love PressNomics. It’s like not everybody goes to Disney World on vacation. People like different feeling, different atmospheres. And so it just adds to the richness, the diversity of the whole community by having a variety of different events.
Joe: Agreed. And I think everyone can throw whatever event they want to, and you’ll probably find a subset of WordPress folks who are into that. It’s like-
Topher: And another subset who aren’t.
Joe: That’s the essence of creating something that’s so targeted is that you’re going to have folks who really love it and enjoy it, and you’re going to have folks who are like, “No, that’s not for me.” And it’s an advantage to be that little bit… not attracting some people because it means you’re targeting people well.
Cate: Yeah, absolutely.
Joe: It’s like Burning Man, 70,000, 80,000 people go to the middle of the desert for 10 days. And it’s the highlight of their year. For a lot of folks it’s highlight of their life. They plan their life around it. And for some people, they’re like, “What? No, not my thing.”
Topher: I know people who would rather die than go.
Joe: Totally, totally. But that’s part of why it’s so successful. There’s like 1% of people who were like, “Oh, yeah, that is everything.” And there are probably like 5% or 10% of people who were like, “I’d go try that. I would go for a year. And then who knows? Maybe I’ll go the next year, or maybe it was just a one-time thing.” And then there’s probably like 80% of people who will never go. And that’s cool.
So I think about it like I think about email unsubscribes. Like, I think people think like, “I don’t want anybody to unsubscribe from email.” But it’s like every time you send an email out, probably like… it’s actually good for people unsubscribe because it means the people who don’t want to get the email aren’t getting it. And that’s okay. You didn’t fail, you didn’t do anything wrong. You just use that information to see maybe who it was, why did they unsubscribe? Why did they subscribe in the first place? Why? If they don’t want it, then that’ll help you learn and get better and target the people you want better. So a tangent there for a little bit.
Cate: Oh, but it was a good tangent. I really liked it. But thank you so much for coming on and telling us about virtual summit and all the things that went into creating it, and for taking time that you don’t have out of your busy schedule.
Joe: No, problem. It’s all good. It’s all good. I’ll give a shout-out to y’all doing Hallway Chats and HeroPress. But hallway chat specifically, I was looking back at what episodes… I’ve been on the podcast before.
Cate: I think it was five.
Joe: I was on Episode 6.
Cate: Six. Okay.
Joe: I was on Episode 6 of the podcast way back in the day with Tara and Liam. And I remember when they announced like, “We’re stepping down from Hallway Chats. We’re handing it over to Cate and Topher,” I was like, “Boom.” Because a lot of you know, whatever. I know this wasn’t like a traditional acquisition or anything, but it was like a lot of those you’re like, “Oh, man. (at least I am) I’m like, “They could have kept going.” But this was one of the ones I was very excited about. So I was like, “Oh, Cate and Topher, awesome. This is the perfect people. I couldn’t choose two better people to take this over.” I’m a big listener and it’s always cool to be on podcast I listen to anyway.
Topher: Thank you very much.
Joe: Thanks for having me on. And congrats again on doing this whole thing. It’s awesome.
Topher: Thank you very much.
Cate: Yeah, it’s been a busy building summer but we’re excited to get back to regular episodes again. Hopefully, this is the kickoff for that. So wpmrr.com is where they can register for both the community and the virtual summit, and their package deal for free?
Joe: For free.
Cate: And it’s next Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, September 21st, 22nd, and 23rd.
Cate: Wow, that’s crazy. I’m not ready for it to be that deep.
Joe: I know. It’s like I’m still trying to deal with 2020, it’s already 2022? I will say it is an asynchronous event and we’re posting the videos afterwards. So if you want to attend live… it’s going to be a good time. Don’t get me wrong. But if you just want to get the notification of like when the videos go live or when things are going to be posted or updates, you should also register because you’ll just get all the updates. And then you can attend if you want to attend live when you get those notifications or you can just receive the email when the videos go live and you can watch them the week after, the month after, next year, whenever you want.
Joe: 2026 with WPMRR 2021 Virtual Summit.
Cate: That’s right. That’s fantastic. Well, thanks again, Joe, for giving us some of your afternoon. We wish you all the best with the summit. Can’t wait to see it. Can’t wait to join the community and be a part of it. Because who doesn’t want monthly recurring revenue? I mean, I like money. It helps me. They exchange chickens at the grocery store.
Joe: Take my chicken, please.
Cate: Yeah, exactly.
Topher: All right. And after that moment of silence, we’re going to cut it. So that was the end.
Cate: Wait, didn’t you want to do the outro?
Topher: Oh, I always do it afterwards.
Cate: Oh, well, I knew that. So I guess we’re good.
Topher: Joe doesn’t need to be part of it.
Cate: Well, he might have wanted to hear it. It’s really exciting. It’s not as exciting.
Topher: Okay, I’ll do it.
Cate: No, no, no, no, no, no.
Joe: Oh, let’s do it.
Topher: No, I’ll do it because then the audio will match. Okay, here we go. This has been an episode of Hallway Chats, a part of the HeroPress Network. Your hosts were Cate and Topher DeRosia. We’d like to thank Sophia DeRosia for the music and Nexcess for hosting our network. If you liked the episode, please subscribe and mention us on social media.
Topher: And that was my radio voice.
Cate: You’re so professional sounding.
Joe: Ooh, You nailed it, man. You crushed it.