#430 WP-Tonic Show With Special Guest Jason Resnick

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Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the WP tonic show. This is episode 430. Yes, folks, the shows are just flying by. I don’t know but I’ve got a really great guest. He’s a friend of the show in general. He’s been on our wireless show a couple of times. He’s always welcome on our round table show. And that’s Jason Resnick. Jason, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?

Jason: Sure. Thank you for having me, as you said, my name’s Jason, Rezzz online with three Z’s by the way. I’ve been running my own web development business and email marketing automation business now for nine-plus years, almost a decade by myself. Just helping my customers get more customers and create raving fans and grow their businesses. But I also in recent times, the past year and a half, I’ve been helping other developers and designers essentially do the same thing, be able to realize what their dreams were, what their aspirations were when they started their own business. So I do that through coaching and the feast community.

Jonathon: You know we’ll be talking about several sectors with Jason. He’s enormously knowledgeable and I’m sure you’re going to get some value from this discussion. I also got my great co-host, Adrian. Adrian, would you like to introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?

Adrian: Good morning everybody. My name is Adrian. I’m the CEO and founder of Groundhog. We produce sales and marketing automation tools as plugins for businesses that primarily use WordPress as their website builder of choice.

Jonathon: That’s great. And before we go into the main part of the show, I’d like to mention one of our major sponsors and that’s KINSTA Hosting. And what is KINSTA Hosting? Well, they only host WordPress websites. I personally feel they’re one of the best hosting providers in the WordPress hosting environment. They host the WP-Tonic website. They’ve been doing that from it was two years and it’s been flawless.

If I have had a minor issue, I’ll just go onto chat and I’m speaking to a dedicated professional that really knows WordPress and knows what they’re talking about. So there’s no messing about. There’s no being passed to somebody higher up in the food chain, the problems just dealt with. They host all their websites on the Google cloud platform is some of the best technology in the world. What you get from KINSTA is a great UX design backing, design, all the features that you’re looking for, staging site one-click [inaudible [00:03:03], latest versions of PHP. I could go on and on, but they got some of the latest best technology available.

As I said before, the other fact is you get some of the best support on the market, 24/7. And when you have a problem, especially if you’ve got a membership site, [inaudible [00:03:21] you’re making decent money from your website, you need good hosting. So if that sounds great, go over to kinsta.com, have a look at what they’ve got to offer and I suggest that you should sign up. And if you do that, please mention that you heard about them on the WP-Tonic podcast.

Alright Jason, I think our listener and viewers I’ve got feedback. They’d like to know a bit about the history of the person that we’re talking to. Can you give us a quick synopsis about how you got into the crazy work world of WordPress development?

Jason: Yes, obviously, I mean it’s what I’ve built my business on and it didn’t happen overnight obviously, but I started out essentially, I worked full time for consultant firm during the .com explosion. Late nineties, early two thousands and I got a taste of all different types of technologies. I was a developer; I did Java development, Ruby development, PHP development, .net, and a whole plethora.

Basically whatever the startup needed that my company put me in a seat of I had to learn it, right? And so I got a good taste of all of these various different technologies that I love or loved and hated dependent on which one it was. For me, it gave me the knowledge and experience to say which technology would fit well to provide a good solution to a business problem. When the whole thing fell in on itself because this consultant firm essentially put their eggs all in the advertising bucket all of those companies fell in on themselves. I was laid off.

They basically didn’t need, we were as big as 2,400 people and by the time I was laid off, there were only 400 people left in the company. This was over a span of two and a half years, so massive growth and massive shrinking, right all in one very short period of time. And I said I have a skill; I know how to do these things. I can make websites, so let me try. And this was in early two thousand and 18 months in, I found myself sitting at a desk at a design firm working full time again for myself. I didn’t know all of the other things, the business end of things and really just how to manage clients.

Fast forward to 2010I left the design agency world for my own business now and I struggled again because I was doing a lot of different things. I was doing Ruby on rail projects, I was doing Java development, I was doing custom PHP work, I was doing all of these various things. And at about two years into that, I said, I can’t, I’m burned out. Like, it’s no, I can’t do this anymore. I had literally just gotten engaged to my then-girlfriend at the time, now my wife.

Just a month prior I said to her, I’m going to have to go back and get a full-time job. Maybe this isn’t for me. I would just, you know, I don’t know what to do here. And she looked at me and she’s the rock in the relationship. She wants consistency. She’s not the gambler or risk-taker and she said, but that’s not what you want and we’ll figure that out. I was just like, what? Like somebody, the person that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, you just told them not to get a job.

And I was just like, okay. So if she has the belief or faith in me to do this, then I’ve got to figure it out myself. And so I really just analyze my business from top to bottom, people who I worked with, personalities and all that. What I found was, what the problem that I was solving for my clients was giving them a solution. At that time it was really just being able to manage a website, not being the whole ecosystem every single day, maybe once a week, twice a month, those sorts of things.

But be able to make it super simple for them and be able to be flexible and robust enough to customize it to fit the business that they need. And so while I was rolling my own CMS is in Ruby on rails and all the rest of it, I landed on WordPress and I planted my flag and said, WordPress Woo-commerce at the time because I was doing a lot of e-commerce work.

I just said, hey, I’m just going to go all in. Anybody else wants anything else; I’m just going to say no to. So I went all-in on WordPress. I leveraged Woo Commerce, which lucky for me, I picked the right one at the time because, at that time they had, all of them were out there, WP commerce. It’s a whole bunch of other ones out there. But I just said Woo Commerce and WordPress.

And that was the first time I really specialize in my business and I saw the burnout go away. The stress goes away. The decisions for me to take on or not take on clients became almost easier at that point because while I could do those other things I just said no because I was able to then define the solution to help my customers or my leads be able to realize the goals that they wanted.

Jonathon: Over to you.

Adrian: So a big part of your transition you’d say, from moving into just kind of like the Jack of all trades kind of deal where you’re just basically taken whatever comes your way. The big transition into establishing somewhere where you’re happy and you feel fulfilled in what you do is really planting that flag somewhere. So would you say that’s right?

Jason: Yes, absolutely. The thing is, we all as creative professionals, whether you’re a designer or developer, we want to please everybody. That’s how I felt. I’ve experienced that just in talking with all of these people over the past 15, 20 plus years. So for us to say, yes, this project is not quite a fit for me but yes I could still do it right. Like I could do it and I got to put it a value to it and I can put a price on it and things of that nature. That’s not how you run a business.

Just because you can do it, it’s not something that you should be doing. And so I just figured out that what I do for my clients, and this was through communication with my existing client, that’s how I figured out exactly what I do. And why they liked to be with me and why they like to stay on and actually pay their monthly fee. I learned that and I just turned that back around and said, if I’m doing this for other people, then there are other people in the market that also need this and I can help them too.

Adrian: Right. So for someone who’s probably, because I can’t tell you the amount of times that I’ve run into the exact same situation, someone comes up to me and they want all this stuff. And in the back of our minds, we’re thinking maybe that’s not the best idea. I don’t really want to do that. It would be easier to just do it this way. But that person is like; they’ve got the horse blindfold on. What are those things called Jonathan?

Jason: Blinders.

Adrian: They’re called blinder and they had the blinders on and they can’t see any other way forward. How do you deal with that? Because you know, obviously as the one who’s actually getting the check at the end of the day and we’re looking at our rent bill and like that has to be paid. How do you circumvent that? Is there, is there a strategy that you have in order to communicate with the people that come to you with those requests or do you just basically just draw a line and say listen, that’s not something I’m willing to do?

Jason: Yes. For me, it’s all about what the problem is. So I always take it a step back. If they come at me with certain technology like you’re saying the solution for me I have to approach it like a doctor. Yes. You may show up and you say, I have poison ivy on my arm because I was out gardening over the weekend, now I have this rash. Okay, doctors going to take that and that’s a symptom. But the doctors are still going to do some analysis and diagnostics to figure out if it is poison ivy or something worse or something less, right.

And so that’s what essentially my sales process is. It’s really just to take that as a symptom of their problem. And I dive deeper into their problem. What is it about this technology, why does this project matter now? Why is it important now and not six months from now or six months prior? So I just dive in and I changed the conversation from the tech that they’re looking at to what the bigger picture is. And it’s usually not anything related to the technology. We just have to really be a little bit more in control of the conversation, if you will, at those initial stages for those people that really do have those blinders on.

Then it gets to a point where they just keep circling back, even though I’m asking them all these other questions and they keep circling back to the technology. Well for me that’s a red flag number one, right.

Adrian: It’s fair enough.

Jason: I have two red flags. I’ve learned over the years, if there are two red flags, we don’t do any work together. So if that red flag there is a signal to me, then I just say, look, there are way more cost-effective options than me out there that could implement this for you. It’s just like, I mean, I say to them you could do that. You’re just looking for somebody to go into your account or write some code or whatever it is that you want to do. Why are we having this conversation?

I basically try to get them to tell me no, right. Usually when that happens, nine times out of 10, I would say, I don’t know. They get a little almost taken aback because I’m actually telling them to get lost in a way, right. Like I’m telling them, I’m not a good match for you, so maybe we shouldn’t even be having this conversation. I don’t want to waste your time. A lot of times that’s really the context of that conversation initially is really to get the overarching picture of why we’re even engaged in the first place and the importance of the project overall.

Adrian: Right, brilliant. Jonathan.

Jonathon: I don’t know if I can agree with this [inaudible [00:13:59] your get your point of view on this Jason. But any kind of medium to large projects where the client is not prepared to pay for pre-investigation, priory discovery, obviously they get a free half-hour to one-hour consultation for me. But then if it’s a medium to large project and they haven’t developed good enough documentation or give a clue or already understand the full scope of the project. I required them to actually pay for pre-discovery and every time I’ve had a client that’s not prepared to do it and then I’ve decided to take them on, they’ve been a nightmare client. It’s been a terrible project, would you agree with that, Jason?

Jason: Absolutely. For me, any time I go away from the process that I have defined and my process has been defined iteratively over the past nine-plus years. Anytime I go away from that, the project isn’t as successful as it could be. It could either be a complete disaster or it’s just we’re not as happy as we could be, right. And it’s just because I sidestepped one thing are shortcutted it. I said you don’t need to fill out that form. I have a good enough idea of what your project looks like or like yourself.

I need those discoveries, scoping paid engagements sometimes because the client can’t scope it out for me. I have a half-hour sales call and I tell them upfront saying, if we can’t figure out what that scope of work is on that sales call, then this is what it looks like next. It’s going to cost X dollars. This is a discovery period. We’re going to dive deep and I’m going to need a bunch of stuff from you, so that they know that even before going into the sales call. So I’m really communicative move upfront with a lot of things. Like I asked the budget upfront whether they’re honest or not on it, but I at least I want to frame a lot of these things.

If I circumvent that initial paid discovery thing like yourself, it never ends well. Like it’s just not a good fit most times. Sometimes it’s the other way, I take on a client, and it’s a smaller project. I probably should have done a paid discovery initially because as we’re working on the project, even though it’s a smaller project there are other things that just happen, right? It’s like a bowl of spaghetti and you just keep pulling that one thread out. I’m like, oh my God, where is this all coming from? So it works both ways.

Adrian: It’s almost like a, go ahead.

Jonathon: I’m just going to go for a break actually Adrian. We are at about the 15, 16-minute marks. So, folks, we’re going to go for our break. We’re coming back. We’re going to have another great session with Jason. Obviously, I’m going to ask Jason about his consultancy an out. I think he’s got some courses that he has. I’m going to delve with Adrian’s help on that side. We’ll be back in a few moments.

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Jonathon: That first session with quite did it. Listener and viewers Jason is a great guest. I’m going to pass the [inaudible [00:17:58]. I think he had something to say in the first half and you interrupted him.

Adrian: No worries. I was just, does a follow up to what Jason said, there’s almost like a psychological trigger that when you have that process lined out. Even if it’s smaller or even if maybe they don’t think that the process fits their personal case. Making them go through the process keeps you in control of the conversation. And as long as you, the developer, the implementer and the creators stay in control of the conversation it just becomes so much easier to deliver on the deliverables that were agreed upon ahead of time.

Simply because psychologically the customer is aware of that, you know, even if they’re not like consciously aware, there’s that just that psychological thing that’s like, listen, we’re going through my process and you’ve been going through it this far and that’s just not going to change. I just wanted to add that into the tail end of that because that’s been my experience with the agency work as well. I just wanted to add that point because I thought it might be valuable.

Jonathon: That’s great, so Jason just to finish off a conversation in the first half. I’ve also had the opposite side where I’ve had clients approach me with a very detailed document of scope. And it’s obvious that the just [inaudible [00:19:15] searching. They just, however, they’ve made a decision with somebody, they either with a nonprofit government entity and they’re having, to get so many quotes or they’re looking for the cheapest. How do you deal with the opposite side where you have a very detailed scope document but you get the feeling that they’re not serious about engaging you?

Jason: I don’t answer RFPs, that’s it.

Jonathon: As simple as that.

Jason: If it’s an RFP, it’s somebody defined the scope, I don’t have any context of that so I can’t give you a proposal on that. I can’t give you a timeline, I can’t give you a cost, I can’t give you any of the details to even scope out what the functionality is going to be. So I’ve just decided that for me it’s a time-waster.

Jonathon: Yes, they’ve never worked out for me either. I totally agree with you. But it’s hard, isn’t it? Especially if it looks interesting, but you’ve got to be disciplined doesn’t you Jason.

Jason: Yes, and that’s why I say I don’t do RFPs. If somebody says, I have an RFP for you, or there is that detailed scope, I say, that’s good. So whoever you gave you that go with them. That’s it.

Jonathon: I think that’s excellent advice. Now you’ve gone into the coaching area am I correct? You say running some courses, is that correct or I’ve got that completely wrong?

Jason: Yes, It’s a sort of a course, if you will. I look at it more of like an Academy really, because what happens is and it wasn’t something that I had planned. It was more of just, I kept getting asked a lot of different questions and people were asking do you do coaching? Do you have anything that tells us how to do the things that you do?

A lot of it came off of the back of, in 2014, 2015 people were asking, how are you charging what you charge per month and when those folks like WP curve charging $69? So I said, well, I’m not WP Curve and I’m not doing support and backup. I don’t do any of that stuff so it’s different. There was a mindset where I had planted my flag in the WordPress space. But then people started aligning me to those spaces because I was doing recurring contracts, predictable income, and those sorts of things.

Whereas people were either doing maintenance or they were doing large projects that were just one-offs. So I was fitting myself kind of in-between and people were just asking how I was doing that. Once I got enough people asking about this thing, I said, well, maybe there’s a way in which I can help people in a more formalized way. So I wound up building out feast and that’s the coaching and community platform. There are lessons, there are resources, and there are 70 plus lessons and resources inside there.

We do monthly roundup calls where I facilitate the community coming on, much like what we’re doing here. We just kind of talk and go over client situations and scenarios and what tool are you using for this? And those sorts of things but also, I know that everybody’s business is a unique snowflake, even though it’s really not.

The thing is when you find yourself online, there’s a problem that you are looking to solve at that point in time, right. And so when somebody comes into Feast, we have an initial call, right? 15 minutes, a half-hour, where I build out a custom syllabus. Yes, they can go to step one and go all the way through, but I could get them the quick win right away. So some of them–

Jonathon: That’s fascinating, so you have some building goals. In your library, your resources that you build up, you then can say go to that part. Go to those parts, go to that and that will give you the quickest resources problem. That’s fascinating I loved that.

Jason: Because people come in, they have a problem with formalizing their sales pipeline. So I have several lessons on that. Some people want to know how to do cold and warm outreach right away, so I have lessons on that. It’s basically Feast all of the resources and technology and methods that I’ve used to build my business. So as people hear and learn a little bit more about what I do and they want to do it because that’s what people were asking so I decided to formalize it. I put a framework around all of this.

I built feast in the way that I wish I had a decade ago. And I’ve been a part of many different courses online and you kind of just buy it and you have to fend for yourself. You’re not even sure if anybody else’s in this thing. And I wondered if you stumbled upon some archives somewhere, right? But also, how can I best help and serve somebody that now is investing in their business so that they get the quick win, right?

Like if you’re struggling with your sales pipeline, you don’t want to hear about how do I get the client on board? How do I do like to go through all of these things? Who better than me to build up that custom syllabus? And so that’s what somebody comes into Feast. That’s why I say it’s more of an Academy or the university much more so than just a course.

Jonathon: Yes. I just got a comment on that before for I refer over to Adrian. I think you’ve, that’s a great insight that you do this kind of initial onboarding call. And I think the three main areas that we cover here are WordPress e-learning, learning management systems and marketing automization. A lot of people just totally just want to automate everything but the automization should really be there to give you the bind with so you can do some personalization. What you’ve just said is so insightful, I feel, over to you Adrian.

Adrian: So I’m, I’m actually just looking at your Epic sales page rezzz.com with three Z’s forward slash feast. I just want you to clarify a little bit of terminology for me. So you talked a lot about on this page about quote-unquote predictable income. Now we have many different revenue models. We have recurring revenue; we have big one-off project revenue. Okay. Define for us predictable income that if someone were to go through your course, what does that mean to them?

Jason: It means building a sustainable revenue stream into your business. That could be recurring; it could be one-off projects that you can then spark word of mouth recommendations. The thing that I’ve always found and through conversations as well as my own business, that if you ask any service-based business what their biggest lead gen is, they’re going to say word of mouth.

And then you say, okay, so what are you doing to spark that? Nothing, it’s just happenstance, it just happens. I’ve built systems in my business that spark the inspiration for those word of mouth referrals. It sparks inspiration for testimonials, those sorts of things. And so a lot of that is how I’ve built predictable income into my business because I know that by doing these sorts of things that I’m going to get a certain number of leads into my business every single month that comes from that.

 

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