How To Build Your Online Tribe in 2022!

Tom Morkes is the founder and CEO of Insurgent Publishing, author of The Art of Instigating, The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing and Collaborate, and host of the iconic podcast “In The Trenches,” where he interviews today’s most fascinating (and sometimes controversial) marketers, entrepreneurs, and authors, including Dr. Jordan Peterson, Seth Godin, and John Jantsch among many others.

Tom is a sought-after marketing and growth consultant who helped his clients reach the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists set the record for the most-funded, non-fiction publishing project in Kickstarter history, and generate millions in sales online using his referral, influencer, and affiliate marketing strategies.

Tom’s ideas on marketing and entrepreneurship have been featured in a variety of top publications, including Inc., Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and Growthhacker TV.

Tom is a West Point grad and Iraq War veteran who spent 5 years as a commissioned officer in the US Army before making the plunge into writing, publishing, and entrepreneurship. When Tom isn’t helping brands and businesses grow their profit, he spends his time with his family, working outside on his mountain homestead, and drinking just the right amount of coffee. You can get inside Tom’s brain by reading his blog at tommorkes.com.

The Main Questions of the Interview

#1 – Tom maybe you can give us a detailed outline of how you are in the areas of online marketing and entrepreneurship?

#2 – We feel there are a lot of linkages connected to how you successfully launch a bootstrap SaaS and a membership website would you agree and if this is the case what do you see as the key similarities?

#3 – What are some of the most common online marketing mistakes that you see people making on a regular basis?

#4 – Has anything lately come on your personal marketing radar that has got you excited

#5 – We think the Covid-19 bubble connected to everything online has really burst over the last few months have you got any advice for online entrepreneurs connected to the new online reality?

#6 – We all make mistakes and they are not enjoyable at the time of making them, however, we normally also learn the most from them, can you share a big business mistake you have made and what the big lesson you learned from this particular mistake?

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Episode Transcript

Length: 39:25

(00:00)

Intro: Welcome to the WP-Tonic this week in WordPress and SaaS podcast; where Jonathan Denwood interviews the leading experts in WordPress, eLearning, and online marketing to help WordPress professionals launch their own SaaS.

(00:14)

Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back, folks, to the WP-Tonic show this week in WordPress and SaaS. We have a great, and I’ve been looking forward to this discussion, we have Tom Morkes, the founder and CEO of Insurgent Publishing, and the great podcast, In The Trenches. We’re going to be discussing all things about online marketing, how to build a community, how to build an audience for your business or agency, it’s all going to be good stuff. I’m going to let Tom quickly introduce himself, so Tom, can you give us a 10, 20-second intro?

(00:53)

Tom Morkes: Yeah. I’m a West Point grad, an Iraq War veteran, after the military, I went into entrepreneurship, writing, and publishing. I started my own publishing company after writing and self-publishing my own stuff and little by little that grew into something bigger and bigger and bigger. I’ve started a couple of different kinds of companies and side projects here and there. I kind of look at myself like, I think some people describe me as a launch architect, so I’ve worked with a lot of companies, SaaS companies, coaching companies, membership companies, to help them launch and scale, kind of their platforms.

And I’m the co-founder, also, of Infostack and that’s kind of a bundle company, so we launch bundles of information products, kind of like Humble Bundle, which is in the video game space, but this is more geared toward people who want to learn specific things, who want to achieve their goals for less. So, yeah, that’s kind of the short summary.

(01:49)

Jonathan Denwood: That’s great.

(01:49)

Andrew Palmer: Cool.

(01:49)

Jonathan Denwood: And I have my great co-host, Andrew Palmer. Andrew, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the tribe?

 

 

(01:55)

Andrew Palmer: Yeah, I’m the very nervous co-founder of Bertha.ai, we’ve just done a partnership deal with yoast.com; Marieke has written a lovely blog post and it’s made our site blow up. We have just gotten that 300 free signups and a few paid signups from that little campaign, so I’m a little bit on tenterhooks watching the servers, but, yeah, I’m looking forward to this because, Tom, you don’t look old enough to be an Iraq or an ‘E’raq, as the English people would say, and ‘E’raq veteran. So, scary stuff.

(02:27)

Jonathan Denwood: I’m sure it’ll go fine, Andrew, having all your servers on GoDaddy. So, before we go into the main part of this, that’s an internal joke, actually, folks. Before we go into this great interview, we have a couple of messages from our sponsors. We’ll be back in a few moments, folks.

(02:51)

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(03:45)

Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back. I just want to point out that some of our sponsors have some great special offers, we also have a great list of recommended plugins and WordPress-orientated services, not only for WordPress, but if you’re a SaaS bootstrap entrepreneur; you can get all these goodies and recommendations by going over to wp-tonic/recommendations. So, Tom, let’s go straight into it. So, Tom, he gave a quick intro, but maybe we can have a deeper outline, so you just said you were an Iraqi War veteran, and then you got into the semi-crazy world of online marketing and entrepreneurship. So, how did you get into this world then, Tom?

(04:37)

Tom Morkes: It’s funny, especially looking back on it now, so this is about 10 years ago. So, I graduated West Point in 2008, went full-time active duty after that, deployed in 2009, 10, so, yeah, when you were saying how young I was, I was looking back and I was 21. I turned 21 and I was a platoon leader in Iraq at that time, so, yeah, looking back I’m like, that is pretty strange, that’s not the normal course, I guess, for a lot of guys. But after that, around 2013, I was a company commander of a headquarters company, and I was like, I’m really interested in doing something else.

The military’s great and all, it’s respectable, et cetera, but I really wanted to pursue something creative. At that time, blogging was pretty popular for those few years, and I actually started to read a lot of blogs, specifically Seth Godin’s, I don’t know if you’re familiar, but I’m sure maybe a lot of listeners might be.

(05:32)

Jonathan Denwood: Well, I actually have interviewed him.

(05:34)

Tom Morkes: Yes. So, again, I just found his blog, read all of his books, I was just like, just devoured it all. And that just led me into this, kind of into this world at the time, blogging was very popular and then podcasting was starting to come onto the scene. So, I was just kind of diving into all of this stuff and realizing, you know what, there’s something here, I have to explore it. So, I went and I started a blog, I started a podcast back in 2012, 2013, so pretty early on.

And I started self-publishing, because I was like, well, I don’t have any technical expertise, I can’t code, I don’t have any practical, really real skills; I was at that point, not a marketer, I don’t know how to do any of that stuff, but I was like, I’m just going to use this as a time to experiment and learn and see what I can do with what I have. And so, it was just kind of little by little, starting with the blog, publishing a couple of books on my own, self-publishing, figuring out then, how do I get traffic and readers and sales. That’s the next thing after you do something creative, you’re like, okay, now, where’s the money.

So, it was like, how do I actually get new customers? How do I get new readers? And then trying to solve that, and again, just little by little as that grew, it was then moving into when some people saw what I did, they were like, Hey, can you help me? So, I was like, yeah, let’s figure it out. So, I started working with other companies with other individuals and little by little worked on campaigns, and I was kind of strategic about that. A couple of times I’d work for free, just because I was like, I know if I do a good job for this guy, he’s going to make sure other people know and sure enough, that’s exactly how it went down.

(07:05)

Jonathan Denwood: Oh, that’s great. Over to you, Andrew.

(07:07)

Andrew Palmer: You’ve said that so easily, figuring out the customers that I want, figuring out the people I want to target, and you said it even with a smile on your face, the most asked question is, how do I get customers? How do I get, so just give me 20 seconds or a minute on how you figured that out, let our tribe get some of your insights into how you actually figured out what your customers were and how you got them together.

(07:36)

Tom Morkes: Yeah. The short answer, I think this may be the most practical or pragmatic for those listening is, just model what other people are doing that’s working, don’t just model somebody else, but make sure that what they’re doing is actually working. Because there are a lot of people who are doing stuff, there might even be people who are doing stuff that looks like it’s working, but it’s a different thing to understand what’s actually working. And then just, I’d look at that and I’d say, well, how do I just replicate what somebody else is doing it, but doing it in my own style my own way and then make it work.

And so, it was just kind of like, and then that’s where you tap into all these little bits of knowledge and wisdom, diving into the great copywriters, the great direct response marketers, the great people who are building great platforms. So, at the time, obviously, I was in publishing, so I was curious about moving books, but books eventually moved into, Hey, can you help do what you did with these book launches? Can you do this for our SaaS platform? So, it was working with companies like Teachable, more recently Circle, and some other companies like that.

It was working with educational companies like The Growth Institute with Verne Harnish and stuff like that, so it was little by little like, Hey, can you just apply the same stuff that gets eyeballs over here and then generates the sales, can you do that for us? And what I found fundamentally was that you have to have a reason for people to come and check out what you’re doing, there’s a ton of noise online, so you have to find out some way to cut through the noise.

So, I’m always looking to say, where’s the audience? How do I get in front of that audience? How do I get an endorsement in front of that audience? So, I like to try to get, you just mentioned Yoast, how are those servers holding up, right?

(09:10)

Andrew Palmer: Yeah, pretty good.

(09:11)

Tom Morkes: Pretty good. There you go. But it’s like, to obtain.

(09:12)

Jonathan Denwood: So, it’s amazing what GoDaddy can do.

(09:14)

Tom Morkes: Right. Yeah. And that, to me, is the gold; is if you can land really good referrals, really good partnerships. So, fundamentally, I didn’t realize it was going down this rabbit hole, but a lot of what I’ve done has been built on affiliate marketing and influencer marketing, the fastest path to the customer. And then from there, of course, we can expand out the most recent company, for four years, we’ve basically been entirely partners and affiliates and we haven’t tapped into paid traffic; I pay a few boost posts here and there, but I’m not running paid traffic.

We’re not doing any content marketing, we’re not doing anything except partners and then focusing on our product and that’s it, and that’s enough of a lever, that well is so deep, I could pull that lever probably for another few years before I ever tap it and then move on to something else. Although, now we’re looking at, Hey, how do we get into content marketing? How do we get into some of this other stuff to spread the word and grow our reach more organically outside of relying on partners? But now our database, our list is big, we have cloud, all these things have started to compound because of that, but it started with partners.

(10:18)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, sure.

(10:20)

Andrew Palmer: Brilliant. It’s a tough thing to do, isn’t it? John, over to you, mate.

(10:22)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, sure. So, partnerships seem to be big; so based on your experience though, and observation, what do you see as some of the most often, or the mistakes that you observe the most that people are making in marketing, Tom? Online marketing, you know?

(10:46)

Tom Morkes: Yeah. My experience, and again, I’m not just saying what I’m seeing out there, but I would say that the problems I experience, then, are when people come to me and then hire me or they ask me questions.

(10:56)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah.

(10:56)

Tom Morkes: So, those things that I deal with, a lot of times, when people aren’t getting any kind of traction will say, quote-unquote, they have a product, they spend a lot of time investing in the product, whatever it is that they’re trying to sell, the offer. But again, they have no path to the customers; they have no path to actually getting it in front of somebody. And that, so number one is they don’t actually have a path to the customers. The second thing is whatever their offer is, a lot of times, where the stumbling block is, maybe they even have access to an audience or they could tap into an audience, but nobody pulls the trigger and nobody actually buys. It’s usually positioning. A lot of times.

It’s really subtle stuff sometimes, but it’s how you’re actually positioning it, what’s the messaging around it. Who is it for? Why do people care? Because there’s so much out there, of anything, you go into any niche, I feel, and we work in a lot of niches now, with a lot of stuff I do. So, I work in, we do some stuff in the health space, we do some stuff in the business and marketing space, some stuff in the writing and publishing space, different niches and stuff like that, have vastly different audiences. And each one you go into, you’re like, wow, it’s saturated with competition.

So, I’m always looking for an angle that’s going to be different enough to hook people in that audience and make them turn their heads toward us. If you try to do the same thing that everybody else is doing, it kind of gets boring and then it can maybe still work in a small way, but you’re not going to get those massive viral launches. You’re not going to engineer anything record-setting, which is what we’ve done for some crowdfunded campaigns and some of our launches, which was kind of engineering that virality by making it interesting for people. If that makes sense.

(12:31)

Jonathan Denwood: It does, I just have a quick follow-through question before I throw it over to Andrew again. As you were giving your answer, you were saying small change, I think you, I can’t remember the precise wording, but you were indicating to me that small changes in copy, in positioning, can make, can we just focus on that a little bit more? So, are you saying that there is product customer fit, there is a desire for it, but just changes in the positioning of the wording can make a big difference based on your experience?

(13:21)

Tom Morkes: So, yeah, I’ll give you two examples. One is a client that’s a really simple, almost generic, you’ll hear it and you’ll be like, well, obviously, but that’s a good example, and then I’ll give you a personal example. So, one was with a client and she was in the publishing space and she had a publishing company. She wanted to get more people into her publishing company, but she also did the editing, design, the whole thing in and around helping that next level, so, effectively, a hybrid publisher, and was making sales, so, obviously, had an offer that was working, but not converting high enough.

It was effectively kind of working for those almost slave labor wages that many of us bootstrappers work when we’re first getting started, and couldn’t kind of break out of it; and had tried to do some marketing campaigns, but each one of them kind of landed her in the red. And I learned this kind of afterward, she joined my coaching program and, basically one of the first things we identified was, you have an offer that works, it converts, people are happy with it, but the messaging is blah, it couldn’t, I don’t know if it could be more generic.

And for her, I was like, let’s just take a look at the clients, so this applies to people who have customers already, let’s take a look at the clients, let’s do a client profile here, and let’s look at patterns. I try to always use pattern recognition for something and see if I can extract something useful, and with hers, 90% of her clients were women, but she wasn’t catering anything toward women. So, the very obvious thing was, Hey, whatever the next thing you do, let’s just focus it solely on women. And now she runs the Women in Publishing Summit, which has been going strong for four or five years, it’s huge in the publishing space.

And she has a massive audience and I have a whole, I did a case study throughout my podcast, to go through the nuance of it, but it was that little thing, that little positioning, I’m not saying just going, Hey, let’s focus on women or let’s just focus on men as the differentiator. Sometimes demographics matter though, and sometimes if it’s a pattern that matters, then go with it.

(15:17)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. Over to.

(15:18)

Andrew Palmer: I actually agree. I think, John, who did we have on here, that was just, the positioning, was her name Amanda or Anthia or something?

(15:26)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, I can see her, but, unfortunately. Tom, I have a memory like a sieve.

(15:35)

Andrew Palmer: Pretty cool.

(15:36)

Jonathan Denwood: So, over to you, Andrew.

(15:38)

Andrew Palmer: Well, I’m going to jump to a question actually, because I want to, so what’s come onto your personal marketing radar that has you excited? Maybe Bertha and the Yoast thing got you excited, who knows? Even though I don’t host with GoDaddy, although, I love them. You’re muted, Tom. Yeah, that’s great.

(16:03)

Tom Morkes: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. No, it’s funny, I’m kind of boring, so I look at stuff that’s coming on new and I’m very, very skeptical. I’m skeptical of a lot of new things. I’m skeptical of new platforms, because I was, from 2012, 13 until, okay, 2022. So, from 2012 to 2022, what’s happened? What have we seen come and go? So, many platforms have come and gone. I don’t know if you guys remember, what was it? There were some big ones, Periscope, Blab, we were on Blab for a while.

(16:34)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. I loved Blab.

(16:36)

Tom Morkes: Me too. We actually ran a summit on Blab and broke a Guinness world record using it, and then it was like the next year, the platform is gone. Because we were the longest live stream, it was 54 hours or something like that, we were just going for.

(16:50)

Jonathan Denwood: I thought that was one of the most regional platforms. I don’t know why somebody else doesn’t bring it back in some way, but nobodies.

(17:00)

Tom Morkes: Oh yeah. Yeah, it feels like there’s so much potential, but I don’t know the behind-the-scenes technical limitations of something like that, I couldn’t believe that for a platform like that, it held up, it did what we needed it to do, so, yeah. But all these things kind of came and went, so all of a sudden you’re like, oh, Periscope’s going to be the next new thing, this is going to be the next new thing. Okay. Then there’s TikTok, there’s whatever, there are all these things, so I’m very skeptical of platforms. What I’m not skeptical of, though, are creative joint ventures and things like that and then tapping it to new technologies and stuff like that.

So, I’m still very hesitant on blockchain stuff, I think a lot of its just marketing speak, but this smart contract concept is very interesting for info-product creators, I think, and educators and people selling information products or any creator selling anything; the idea of the residual income that could come from people who purchase it and resell it. So, the idea of that reseller piece and then being able to capture a piece on the back-end, that kind of tech, I think is very fascinating, and I think we’ll see a proliferation of it, but again, I’m just kind of now starting to dabble in that area, so I don’t have much to report back on it yet.

(18:07)

Andrew Palmer: Well, a lot of people misunderstand blockchain, they think it’s all about money, but it isn’t, actually, and just while I’m there, because the deal that we came to with Yoast, actually started last December, from a tweet, a message from Joost himself, saying, I like Bertha, let’s chat. So, it’s taken all this while and WordCamp Europe and meetings and all this kind of stuff to see what’s going on, but Joost and Marieke are investors and they invested in a particular thing, WordProof, I think it was.

And that uses the blockchain to actually controls your copy in your, because it’s, obviously, SEO-focused, so it puts a time stamp via the blockchain on your copy to allow you to prove that that’s your copyright. Because we all have to do takedown notices, you’ve stolen my copy, just in the Facebook groups the other day, I saw that four people had their whole website cloned and other people were using their training, selling their training courses as their own, crazy. So, things like WordProof on the blockchain, very helpful.

(19:20)

Tom Morkes: It’s all the boring stuff outside of the main stuff that you hear about, with the blockchain, that’s the most interesting, it’s the smart contract stuff, it’s the instantaneous nature of it, the crypto stuff, the money piece is the scammer, high-level piece, there’s just too much, not all of it, but a lot of it is where that’s happening.

(19:37)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. But, Tom, it has very strong echos to the early days of the web really. Because I think what Andrew said, that proof of ownership is one of the strong areas and also cutting down the cost, the middlemen through transferring money from one place to the other. There are a lot of intermediaries that take their cut about the transfer of money or securities, in general, isn’t there?

So, you can see, but when it comes to what we’ve seen over the past few years around cryptocurrency, I’m definitely not as enthusiastic, to say the least, but there we go. I think it’s time for us to go for our break. We had a little bit of divergence, we got into cryptocurrency; you never know what you’re going to get on this podcast, do you, tribe? But if you’re a regular, you are used to it. We’re going to go for our break and we’ll be back in a few moments, folks.

(20:54)

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(21:29)

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(21:59)

Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back. I think I’m doing a pretty good job, I can tell by Tom’s expression that he thinks I’m doing a reasonable job; being that he’s an experienced marketer and podcaster himself. I always get a bit nervous when I get an industry expert like Tom. But before we go into the other questions, I just wanted to tell you about my newsletter. You need to sign up for the WP-Tonic Newsletter; it goes out every Sunday or Monday. It’s supposedly about the stories from the Friday show, where we go into WordPress and tech news stories, and I write an editorial that goes on a wander, but it’s highly entertaining.

To get all of this, all you have to do is go over the WP-Tonic Newsletter and sign up and it will be sent directly into your inbox. So, Tom, on we go onto this wonder of an interview. So, I think a lot of people, obviously, there are storm clouds brewing in the economy, variations have been hammered, and what I call the COVID bubble has definitely been burst. I’m a little bit puzzled why people are so surprised that there’s been a bit of a retraction and they might be a further retraction, because we’ve had a couple of years of, to say, a bubble, would be slight, so I’m a little bit puzzled, but I don’t even know why I’m puzzled.

So, what do you see happening in the next year when it comes to what I call the new online reality? Would you agree with that statement and what are your own thoughts, Tom?

(24:03)

Tom Morkes: It’s funny, I’m kind of contrarian in that sense. I think it’s interesting because I think there are these high-level things that are being engineered, right? And these shifts and changes in these economies and stuff like that. And there is, obviously, then a flow to the online and there’s all this talk about metaverse and stuff like that, again, something I’m so skeptical of all that stuff, and I’m like, okay, let’s see it, that’s fine. I know there’ll be first movers who can take advantage of those things, go for it.

But, to me, again, back in 2012, I was like, online is the way to go; it’s just so obvious to me, there were so many opportunities and people just seemed to be missing these opportunities; I couldn’t believe more people weren’t doing it or being more aggressive about it. And then in the last couple of years, you see this big shift online, where people are moving online. I am now of the mindset where I think, okay, there’s still a lot of growth, still a lot of opportunity in going online, but I actually think going offline, strategically, there are some opportunities there that people are missing because of that push online.

So, I’m kind of in this in-between, if that makes sense, kind of a Barbell strategy, Nassim Taleb, anti-fragile, that’s kind of how I think about things. So, I think the potential downside is people move everything online, and what will happen is, while we’ll just experience the last two years, what a government or what governments can do to physical-based businesses, we have yet to see what they can do to online-based businesses; they haven’t gotten their hands wet there yet. And all of a sudden, if you move fully online and that’s all you have, that might be, again, I’m an anti-fragile kind of guy, I like to have a few things spinning at a time or have a backup plan.

So, for me, I’m just very hesitant to move too fully into that; if somebody had a brick and mortar business, yeah, have something online, but that doesn’t mean to necessarily get rid of the brick and mortar business completely. I think there are very strange things afoot over these next couple of years and what will transpire.

(26:07)

Andrew Palmer: Well, I totally agree with you, but unfortunately the brick-and-mortar businesses that I have interests in our restaurants and we’re suffering from a dearth of staff, it’s not anything else, we still have the traffic; we did 50 people the other day at a private party and Sunday was phenomenal with 50 people. I went off to Goodwood Festival of Speed, and let them get on with it, but one of them is a pizza place, so we managed during the pandemic to completely transfer to online ordering through the various channels, including our own website.

And I think what you’re saying is right, if you see an offline opportunity, a property investment, for instance, or buying some land and then selling that, doing a JV with a developer, I think you could be in both worlds as well. So, if you have some money to invest in a bit of land, you could buy land in America for hardly anything, in the UK, you can still get some good deals. But the point of the pandemic was that everybody went online straight away; we were inundated as a web agency, we were inundated with people saying, I want to do this, Jonathan was inundated with people wanting a learning management system.

There was a guy that uses LMS that was a child entertainer building balloons, building animals out of balloons; so he went off and did a learning management system of building balloons online and made a quarter of a million dollars in a weekend, by selling a course of how to build these things. So, as you said, there are opportunities out there.

(27:45)

Jonathan Denwood: I’m going to copy the course tomorrow and transfer my business model. There we go. I always knew the money was in balloons, there we go. But it’s interesting though because just to recap what you were saying, Tom, is that, I’m totally online, my whole business is based online; I have actually two businesses, but I am totally online. But you’re saying, if you are from the traditional one, what I think you’re saying is, if you can, you are advising, don’t totally pin all of your hopes online, try and have a more balanced look over, if you think, would that be a fair synopsis?

(28:35)

Tom Morkes: Yeah. And I don’t have a brick and mortar, so I want to be clear about that, I’m not necessarily advising on that piece. I just see these broad sweeps and when it’s like, all of a sudden these businesses get shut down or real estate kind of plummets in the commercial space, I’m like, somebody at a high level is taking advantage of this opportunity right now, and there’s a reason. And you have to be able to look three to five years out or maybe more, so it’s just one of those things where I just look at that and say, there are all these strange red flags happening.

I think certain things are kind of obvious, which is the nature of having, I don’t think you need commercial space to have your online business, I think you can do it remotely. I’m fully remote. That was the other thing, I’ve been remote since 2000, since I started this, the opportunity for remote was so obvious, to me, right from the get-go, so now, more things are moving remotely, that’s becoming pretty obvious. Now, there are still cases for that, to have a commercial space for a virtual business in a sense, but for a lot of bootstrappers, freelancers, things like that, or small teams, just take advantage of that.

And then the other thing is, for me, it’s more like, I guess the Barbell strategy is, well, I don’t have a brick and mortar business, but maybe I can get into real estate, I can get into other physical-based things and have that as kind of the Barbell strategy, the anti-fragile strategy to say, okay, I have my business, it’s virtual, it’s online. But then I have these other physical things, I don’t want to lose sight of that; I think this whole trend toward the metaverse almost seems like a giant setup, it’s a ruse. I’d be cautious of that, I’m going to invest all of this money into these digital assets.

(30:11)

Jonathan Denwood: Well, Tom, what could go wrong if I’m running everything? What could go wrong in the metaverse?

(30:24)

Andrew Palmer: I just want to interrupt quietly on the metaverse. I read this morning, that there are three hundred startups with millions of dollars in the bank from VCs that are just concentrating on the metaverse and they’re, literally, going like that, finger in the air, give us 20 million or 30 million or a hundred million dollars and we’ll explore the metaverse. We’ve no idea what we’re going to do, but we’re technically a debt, but we need some finance to be able to do that, and we need about 50 really qualified people to give us their million-dollar.

(30:55)

Tom Morkes: It’s just like the early part of the tech boom, it was like, all of a sudden, because there is a ton of money out there, an insane amount of money that wants to be put into places right now. And so, yeah, listen, if you’re one of those people who are like, I’m going to take advantage of this money that people are dishing out to fund this enterprise, go for it. I’m just more thinking, I guess, more on the consumer side of the small-level side, I’d be real cautious about moving into those spaces, sticking more with maybe hard-assets or digital-assets, but using kind of the traditional place right now, the traditional, quote-unquote, they’ve been traditional for maybe 10 or 20 years.

Not very traditional, but the stuff that definitely generates revenue, that is consistent, that you can kind of, you have more control over; this kind of metaverse stuff, we don’t know where it’s going to go. NFTs, you see this whole boom and then bust, almost, with NFTs, and that’s what I’m skeptical of, are these things. And there’s still a ton of money to be made in there, that’s the whole strange part of all of this, I say all of this like, I don’t know, maybe what I’m saying is buyer beware.

(32:00)

Jonathan Denwood: I think I understand exactly what you’re positioning, because the metaverse, it’s a bit like the blockchain, I definitely think it’s a future technology that will find its place. But at the present moment, I think what Andrew was trying to point out, it’s a high risk, high return scenario, you know?

(32:25)

Tom Morkes: Yeah.

(32:26)

Jonathan Denwood: You have to know what you’re getting involved in. It’s a bit like Jason Calacanis, I butchered his surname from this week in startups. He’s an amazing person; I’ve never had an individual with that I have such extreme, mixed feelings. I find him very insightful or I find him a self-righteous prick, but he was pointing out in one of these recent podcasts; that a lot of these big idea things, they’re high risk, they’re investments that you have to be prepared to sit on for 10 years plus, you know?

(33:13)

Tom Morkes: Or it’s that the kind of nature of it where it’s like, you have to get in fast, get the money quickly and then get out kind of thing before it goes boom. But again, I feel that’s not my personality, that’s not my style, there are entrepreneurs who are great at that, who can go in and exploit something or do something and make a bunch of money before the whole thing crashes. You have to be a first-mover kind of thing in that, but again, the nature is the same, high-risk, high-reward or very high-risk, high reward though, too.

So, I agree, there are almost, again, there are these diverging paths. One is, do I quickly go in, and try to make a buck before the whole thing shifts. I just feel the stuff is shifting so quickly in the last few years, to build something on even a technology right now is very strange because even the underlying technology of things is shifting very quickly.

(34:04)

Jonathan Denwood: Tell us about that. That’s WordPress.

(34:08)

Andrew Palmer: We have WordPress doing that. But just on the metaverse thing; was it some guy who bought a house in the metaverse next door to Snoop Dogg’s for 200 grand and then sold it the next day for 650 grand, because the guy wanted to live in the metaverse next to Snoop Dogg. He’s just like, what’s that about? The issue, I think, is that we have a real, we don’t want to get too political here, but we have a real 1% going on in the world and we have people with far too much money and they just have no clue what to do with it. So, do you know what I’ll do? I’ll buy a six-bedroom mansion in the metaverse for 650 grand because I can, it’s weird.

(34:53)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, true. So, just to finish up the podcast, it’s an unpleasant truth, Tom, but we learn the most from our biggest mistakes, well, I feel. So, I don’t know if you’re prepared, is there any kind of real big business mistake that you’d like to share with the tribe that you made, that with reflection you learned a lot and maybe you can share with the tribe, what you learned from that big mistake?

(35:24)

Tom Morkes: I don’t know if I have a big mistake, I think I just have a lot of small mistakes. And a lot of small mistakes kind of got me to where I am, so I don’t really have regrets about them. I have made mistakes of doing collaborations or partnerships with people before I really could trust them; or getting burned by partners or clients in the past, but I don’t know, I was new to this stuff; I was new to these things. Spending a lot of time and energy on certain projects that I was for sure on, but again, kind of coming back to that original point, what’s the path to the customer, and then can I validate it quickly?

These little mistakes, I look at them as little mistakes, because at the time they might have hurt me when I was just bootstrapping, but they were small enough on a scale that they didn’t burn me completely, I wasn’t out for the count. It was more like I got knocked down, but I was able to get back up and go to the next one. So, I don’t have a huge failure mistake yet, knock on wood, hopefully

(36:28)

Jonathan Denwood: No, your answer, actually I really liked your answer, Tom, actually.

(36:33)

Andrew Palmer: Well, I think we’ve all; I’ve certainly been burned by business partners. I’ve been burned by family. And when money gets involved, you have to be very, very careful of where you draw the line about who’s in control of the cash, now I don’t do anything where I’m not 51% [gelled – 00:36:49] or it’s as simple as that. I’ve been burnt so many times, it’s just crazy, and you wonder why, you say, well, is it me? And you kind of go, no, they just see a lot of money and carrying on and they go, right, I’ll have that; I’ll build a swimming pool with it and I won’t tell him. And it’s really weird.

(37:11)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, a little tip, tribe, with family; if you lend money to family.

(37:16)

Andrew Palmer: Don’t expect it back.

(37:17)

Jonathan Denwood: Don’t expect it back. If you do get it back, that’s really fantastic, but don’t delude yourself that anytime soon that you are going to get it back, just do it out of your own conviction and don’t expect it to come back. That’s all I have to say to you. I love you, tribe. So, we’re going to wrap up the podcast part of the show, Tom’s really been kind and agreed to do a little bit of bonus; we’re going to delve into the digital world a little bit deeper.

To join us on the bonus content and to watch the whole interview, all you have to do is go over to the WP-Tonic YouTube channel and watch it all, and please subscribe to the channel, it really does help the podcast, the channel, and the tribe in general. So, Tom, what’s the best way for people to find out more about you and your views and ideas, I suppose it’s the podcast, is it?

(38:13)

Tom Morkes: Yeah. Or I’d say go to tommorkes.com, T O M M O R K E S.com. I still have a newsletter, and tons of free and pay-what-you-want resources. And then there’s the podcast, In The Trenches with Tom Morkes, which is, yeah.

(38:27)

Jonathan Denwood: I highly recommend it, tribe, go over there; all of the links will be in the supporting show notes. So, go over there and find them so you don’t have to do a hunt, tribe. So, Andrew, what’s the best way to find out more about you?

(38:43)

Andrew Palmer: Give me a call. No. At Arnie Palmer on Twitter, thisisandrewpalmer.com, and Bertha.ai, so that’s where I am at the moment support us during our Yoast marketing partnership and try out Bertha.ai, it’s great.

(39:03)

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. That’s for sure. We’ll see you next week with another great guest like Tom. We’ll see you soon, folks. Bye.

(39:10)

Outro: Hey, thanks for listening, we really do appreciate it. Why not visit the mastermind Facebook group and also to keep up with the latest news, click wp-tonic.com/newsletter. We’ll see you next time.

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#707 WP-Tonic This Week in WordPress & SaaS Tom Morkes founder and CEO of Insurgent Publishing & The Podcast “In The Trenches.” was last modified: by