Stephen Interview’s Jonathan Plus We Look at Our Favorite Interviews of 2021 To say that 2021 was a difficult and interesting year would be a slight understatement also when it comes to the WP-Tonic’s interview show we had some amazing guests and interviews. In this our first show of 2022 I and Steven look back at our favorite interviews in 2021.

1 – #607 WP-Tonic Show With Special Guest Rand Fishkin

2 – #593 WP-Tonic Show With Special Guest Morten Rand Hendriksen Chief Instructor At LinkedIn Learning

#3 – #585 WP-Tonic Show With Special Guest Ben Ritner Founder of Kadence Themes & Plugins

#4 – #579 WP-Tonic Show With Special Guest Adii Pienaar The Joint Founder of WooCommerce

This Week Show’s Sponsors

Castos: Castos

LaunchFlows: LaunchFlows Bertha

Interview Transcript

Intro: Welcome to the WP-tonic WordPress and SaaS podcast, Jonathan Denwood and his co-host Steven Sauder interview the leading experts in WordPress e-learning and online marketing to help WordPress professionals launch their own SAS. Take it away, guys.

Steven Sauder: Welcome back. Folks to, the WP-Tonic podcast this week in WordPress and SaaS. We’re going to learn a little bit more about WP-Tonic by talking with Jonathan Denwood the founder of WP-Tonic this podcast. Then we’re also gonna talk about some of our favorite interviews in 2021. It’s crazy that, a new year is already started 2022 is here. We’ll go for a quick break from our sponsor, and then we’ll be jumping right back in it to hear from Jonathan Denwood.

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Steven Sauder: Welcome back folks. Our major sponsor, as you heard is Castos. You can find some great and amazing deals from Castos by going to You can also learn more about all the different services and offerings that WP-Tonic has. So Jonathan diving into it here, it’s a new year, we’re starting off again. but before we dive into kind of the new year and new plans for WP-Tonic and podcasting and where things are going, I think it might be good for our listeners to kind of hear a little bit more about how you started WP-Tonic, how you founded it, kind of the origin story.

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. Because I thought we’d just take the opportunity because I don’t really like discussing myself really. I know it’s a bit surprising, isn’t it, Steven. But I don’t actually, I’m rather introverted really. So I really don’t, but I thought, I’ve been doing the podcast now, I think it might be six to seven years now. And I’ve never been really interviewed about how it started and how I got into the world of WordPress in general. So I thought we’ll take this opportunity. I sprung this on Steven actually, but he’s been very gracious. So, basically, I started, WP-Tonic around 2014, 2015, and, it was a friend of mine Bill, Bill Conrad, who was my original co-host on the show. And I met Bill at, I live in Northern Nevada, near Reno folks. I live in a small town called Carson City.

I was at, a local business meeting. I think it was a WordPress meetup group in Reno. And Bill had just moved from California to Reno and he was ex-special services, ex-army done a few tours of Afghanistan, I think he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Special Forces and he was retired and, he got into podcasting as a hobby and WordPress. We met up he suggested why didn’t I do a podcast with him about WordPress and that’s how it started, Steven. I’d been thinking about it. But I hadn’t done much about it. And then Bill said he would edit the show, and do the kind of post-production. And I thought, why not?

Steven Sauder: What was the reason for starting the podcast? He had the idea to start the podcast, but was there like a goal or objective to start talking together on a podcast about


Jonathan Denwood: No, there really wasn’t and on reflection, that was a big mistake, in some ways, but in other ways, it’s been very beneficial to me. The purpose of doing it was not that clear and podcasting had an initial enormous, I’m struggling for the right word, enormous push when it first got started. And a lot of people crowded in and then a lot of them left podcasting because the hype around it was a little bit, over-exaggerated. Big surprise, something on the web being overemphasized. Now it’s going back into real popularity again because I think people can, it’s a way of really building a real close relationship with your audience. So it’s regaining popularity through Spotify, apple. But when we started it, it was in a little bit of a decline, but I had been brought up on radio. I listened to a lot of radio when I was a child. So I kind of believed in podcasting and I just saw it as a way of promot-. And also I wanted to promote myself outside of Northern Nevada to a bigger audience really

Steven Sauder: Was, the format of the show similar to what it is now, or did you kind of play around with the format as you started and got years of experience underneath your belt?

Jonathan Denwood: It was all over the place. You could it’s a little bit now, but the basic, I think with Steven’s help and with my other show at the time we were just doing a weekly one show. Now, we do two shows a week. And, Steven is my co-host for the main interview, which is the show that I started with Bill. It’s rather when I initially started with Bill Steven, it really was literally all over the place. Obviously, the sound quality Bill was a bit, I call him the sound Nazi. He used to spend hours on editing to a level which in my opinion, was a bit over the top, but he’s very focused. But, if you listen to some of the early ones, it was a bit of a struggle to keep Bill, under control, really. I think he would admit, sometimes that he is a little bit hard to control Steven.

Steven Sauder: Did you have guests on the show and interview them or was it you and bill kind of going back and forth, just talking about WordPress and what was new and what was going on?

Jonathan Denwood: It was a mixture. But we mostly had guests. One of the early one was Matt Medeiros. He came on the show, literally, the show was pretty rough. I think all these early shows are still up on the WP-Tonic website and on, ITunes. So if you want to embarrass me listeners and viewers, please go listen and comment. That would cause me maximum embarrassment. So I’m sure you’re up for it tribe. But, no Matt Medeiros came on. I think it was the fourth or fifth show and he was the first person from the– I’d done some outreach and, got very mixed response, who is this Geiser? That was my task in the show to do all the outreach, get the guest, Bill did the editing. And, yeah, he came on the show and he looked rather puzzled about the whole thing but he was very generous and I still got a soft spot for Matt because yeah he didn’t really have to come on the show.

Steven Sauder: How did you start, reaching out to people? Like, were they people that, like, did you already have a connection with Matt or a relationship or did you just start saying, oh, this person would be interesting. I’d like to talk to him?

Jonathan Denwood: No, I didn’t know anybody. I did some outreach that was when I decided to do the round table show. But no, when it came to the interview show, I didn’t know anybody. So literally it was just people in the WordPress community that come on my radar and I keep a list of people and think, post podcast videos that they’ve done that and they seem interesting. And, I think it’s a little bit more focused now, but, for quite a period of time, Steven, it was just people that I thought were interesting that I used to, and I just used to invite ’em and they either said, yes, no or maybe, and the maybe, is a no really isn’t It? 

Steven Sauder: That’s cool. Was it hard to like, I don’t know if like courage is maybe the right word. I don’t know. Like to just start reaching out to people. I think like there are probably a lot of people that are like, oh, I would like to start a podcast or, I wanna start interviewing people that I find interesting, but getting started is always a big hurdle. I think one of those big hurdles is just maybe like self-doubt or not having enough courage to like shoot emails out and just kind of dive in and start doing and being willing to do, maybe some shows that aren’t so great. Like the early days are always hard you’re figuring out.

Jonathan Denwood: Well that’s most of my shows, I’m not including you, though Steven.

Steven Sauder: But was that hard, was that hard for you to, get started, or was that something that you didn’t really struggle with at all? 
Jonathan Denwood:
I just got on with it really, I think if you approach people in a respectful- don’t make your outreach email, like war and peace. Also if it’s somebody that’s really busy, putting in a link to a video that they’ve recently done and making it reasonably clear that you listened to some of their content. And I think that goes down well, because a lot of these people have a lot of people approach them. There are some people that are very sniffy though, so that’s just them. Most people are very responsive if you do the outreach and are respectful and you show that you have listened to some of their content. I would be just the same. I don’t really respond to people that just, can we post a blog post on your website to use your SEO? no, you can’t really cause it’s taken me years to build up that website, but on the other end, if they, said, well, would you like to come on our podcast and we’ve listened to you? I probably would respond to that. Is that making any sense, Steven? 

Steven Sauder: Yeah. Yeah. For sure when you first started out and I guess even now, and you have all these different guests on, right. Like from all different places, from all different perspectives and point of view, do you feel a need to be like, objective about WordPress and just kind of looking at it from a, I don’t know, like an objective utility sort of standpoint, or do you think it’s better to look at WordPress from like an opinionated, like thoughts and feelings, kind of angle versus just, more I know straight educational

Jonathan Denwood: Me, not opinionated, never, never Steven.

Steven Sauder:  I Guess, I guess that’s my nice way of asking, was the show as opinionated as it is now, back in the early days?

Jonathan Denwood: I don’t think it is that opinion, to be honest, especially our show that we do together I’m not here to make the lives of our interviewees hard. They’re our guests, aren’t they really? The Friday show. Yeah. It’s opinionated, I don’t want it to become a snooze fest. The WordPress community has a lot of strengths, but it’s based on snooze festing, bum licking, and passive-aggressiveness, basically, that is the WordPress community for you. People that will never respond to any outreach you do to ’em. Cause they basically don’t like you. So I don’t bother asking them to come on the show. Cause I know they will never come on, but that’s WordPress for you. Isn’t it?

Steven Sauder: There’s that great opinionism that I was looking for.

Jonathan Denwood: Well, don’t you think it’s the truth?

Jonathan Denwood: You would, you would introduce politics wouldn’t you use Steven? But I think I’m, reasonably difficult to pin on what my views are really because I see myself as a kind of socialist, libertarian, and Christian socialist. And I think there are terms that most Americans really don’t really understand. And also there’s a little bit of contradiction here,  mixing libertarian with socialism together. It might sense to me because I believe in, an equal society with equal opportunities for everybody and equality under the law. but I also believe that, we don’t make laws just for the sake of making them you end up with somewhere like Singapore, where if you drop some chewing, you can be arrested and put in a prison in Singapore. So it’s a lovely place, but I wouldn’t personally want to live in Singapore. I think we got to the time of our break Steven.

Steven Sauder: I was waiting, for you to finish your thought there. So, we’re gonna go on our mid-show break here. And when we come back, we’ll try to pin Jonathan down on where he’s gonna go in this New Year and what we can expect from WP-Tonic and the WP-Tonic to podcast

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Steven Sauder: All right, coming back, quick note, please join us on the WP-Tonic mastermind, Facebook group, where you can find out what we’re all about. And, you can also find the link to the show notes there. So, Jonathan, it’s a new year. Oftentimes people start, thinking through things that they, new goals, new ideas, kind of where they want to take things in directions and stuff. So, how about you, like what have you been thinking through this year, and kind of going into 2022, like, do you have any ideas for where you wanna take the podcast, or your website or services

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, I think when the podcast, I think we’ve really found with your help, Steven we’ve found, a more sustainable and, it’s very easy to get into a, I’ve forgotten the term there, just to get into a rhythm and lose enthusiasm. So I’ve always been about kind of reinventing the show. I think it’s under the WP-tonic, but I kind of given both shows a different main title. This is this week in WordPress and tech and the Friday show is this, oh, sorry. This week in WordPress and SaaS and the Friday show is this week in WordPress and tech. And I think that really sums you up because and I think you agreed when we discussed this, that the interview show, we were still gonna have people from the WordPress community experts that can help with your business, an agency, a freelancer, a WordPress power user, but also get business owners from the world of SaaS. I see the two things they were seen as very separate and they are still very two separate communities and I have a certain, or I’ve tried and I need to increase it.

I’ve tried to get myself involved in the world of micro-conference with Rob Rowlin and he’s grown, which are SaaSes but bootstrapped based business owners. So I’ve tried to get into Rob and Rob has agreed every quarters to come on the round table show and him and his wife are just great people. And they’ve both been on our interview show. And I don’t really, they are two kind of separate tribes, but I increasingly see them. I really see WordPress being more, a plugin, but extra service is being offered as a SaaS. So I see this diversion, either you are plugin or you are a SaaS, I see that breaking down to some extent, what do you think about that, Steven?

Steven Sauder: Yeah it’s a really interesting world in WordPress right now, especially as it feels like the, difference between a plugin and services is oftentimes mixed. There are a lot more plugins that require subscription-type-based modeling that include like more, support. I was just talking to someone about a, real estate plugin they do like IDX, configuration work. So essentially just taking all the properties from- 
Jonathan Denwood:
I only know, cause I run another business in that area and then do a podcast in that area. So it’s, something I know very little about

Steven Sauder: Podcasts all over it. Yeah. What’s interesting was once you purchased, their plugin, it came with a free setup. So like you purchased this $500 plugin, right. And then they set it up for you. It’s like this end-to-end sort of system where it’s not just here’s the code, install it, but they included the whole service thing. And then you can, re-op every year to keep that service going and stuff. having a plugin with a service backend now we’re also seeing a lot of people, creating services and kind of coming at it from the opposite direction where they’re more of just a service-oriented company and they help you figure out what plugins you should need or want or install to get done.

Jonathan Denwood: I think, a, I’ve gotta make clear, they are our major sponsors the show, but Craig and he and Matt Medeiros works for Craig. But Castos to me is a perfect model  of what can be achieved. Cuz Craig bought that plugin, simply podcast, which was one of the main, if you wanted the player, a nice looking player on your WordPress website, that’s what you started off with. Plus he offered editing and he had another side of his business, which was pure service orientated. If you are looking to have your episodes edited, but now it’s become a hybrid. He still offers the plugin. He still offers these high-end editing services and consultation, but now they’ve got the whole hosting your podcasts on the Castro platform. So to me, Castos itself has a very interesting business model. And I’ve seen more WordPress entrepreneurs and business owners looking at that hybrid model, Steven. 

Steven Sauder: Yeah. It’s, an interesting way to grow and expand. And as the WordPress ecosystem keeps getting bigger and bigger, I see that more, more, 

Jonathan Denwood: I think, the other thing you touched on is I think the other thing I’ve observed in the past three years, and especially since the pandemic is that you are saying it’s such a big community. Well, you gotta understand. When I first entered the WordPress community, it was really fundamentally just dominated when it came to media, through a small group of people that had, Chris Luma is the perfect example of this that had built up a large following based on them going to a lot of word camps.  And speaking at a lot of word camps. Brian Clark and, the two Brians when it came to studio press. And it was a long time ago since I last interviewed, Brian Clark formally of studio press, but he was a little bit different because he had a very large community outside of WordPress. Through, building up a large community through content copywriting. And he’s a through that and copy blogger. He had built his own tribe outside. 

Most of the WordPress media people, there was only about 12, maybe 20 of them in total that had a lot of influence and domination. And they had built it by going to a lot of word camps and utilizing their weekends to do that. Chris Luma is a perfect example of that, but now it’s become much more internationalized. You’ve got the big coding shops like Astra, fluent, that are based in the Indian subcontinent and Eastern Europe. It’s a much more internationalized and, which is good in one way, but also means, when I first got in, you actually could meet people that you thought are well above you out a word camp and go up to ’em and have a conversation with ’em. So, which had its good points and its bad points. Cuz if, there was a lot of passive and it’s still there in this older, environment, this feeling there’s a lot, cause it was a much small the community and it’s like a family, there’s some family members you can’t have a real butt on his bus, up with him cuz they’re stuck with you for life. But on the other hand, you don’t particularly like a mover. 

Jonathan Denwood: well it just amazes me because there’s I know we’re getting close to having to wrap up the podcast part of the show, but what I don’t, what it amazes you, but it amazes me that there are plugins that come on my radar that got 10, 20, 40, 50, a hundred thousand active users paying or for their free plugin if they got that model. And I’ve never even heard of the plugin, I’ve never even heard of the coding shop. I’ve never heard of them. And it still, that still regularly happens are you the same Steven?

Steven Sauder: Yeah, for sure. I can’t remember the name of the plugin. I can’t remember it now, but it just happened to me last week where I was looking for a solution to something and came across this plugin. I was like, oh, I’ve never heard about this. I wonder if there are any reviews and there are like a hundred reviews and thousands of downloads. And it’s like, how didn’t I know about this, but it’s a world that’s growing and getting bigger and faster all the time. I think that’s all the time we have for the podcast. So we’re gonna hop into bonus content here. But before we do that, please consider signing up to the weekly WP-Tonic newsletter, which you can find in the episode show notes. And Jonathan, how can people find out, more about you?

Jonathan Denwood: Well, just go to the WP-Tonic, website join us on the WP-Tonic Facebook group page. It’s the mastermind WordPress group page, join us there. I try and post new stuff and so does Spencer and a couple of the other people from the round table group. It’s growing slowly, but we are determined to keep it going, and leave any comments, questions that you want on there. And also join us on the WP to YouTube channel. Subscribe to that’s got a lot of videos. I produce a lot of new content for the WP-Tonic YouTube channel. You’ll find these, interviews on there, but a host of other useful content, back over to you, Steven.

Steven Sauder: Perfect. Thanks for that. If you wanna listen to the bonus content, head over to YouTube or the WP-Tonic mastermind Facebook group. See you guys there.

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