BobWP has been working in the WordPress space for 13 years and podcasting for 5 years. His love of teaching and laughing carries through on his shows.
Sometimes our chats on our podcast can take a number of directions. We plan the direction a podcast will take and this episode was no different. Today, I sat back and let Angela and Brad take the lead. They talked about agency work with WooCommerce, client challenges and a lot more nuggets related to building WooCommerce sites. A Chat with Angela Bowman In episode 62, Brad and I chat with Angela about: How she bumped up her work in the eCommerce space after WooCommerce was released.Whether her clients are came with the mindset of WooCommerce or did she need to sell them on it.The importance of making sure that WooCommerce is the right choice for the client.Thoughts on the ease of use for entry-level users.Where maintenance comes in and how Angela conveys its importance to the client.Helping the client choose between WooCommerce, Shopify and other platforms.How to set clients expectations with a WooCommerce site.Hosting as another challenge when it comes to Woo stores.How clients deal with plugins and the different aspects of performance that must be monitored.What Angela thinks about page builders and WooCommerce and the integration of Gutenberg.Database maintenance and the challenges that come with that.How she chooses her clients and the importance of understanding your limits. Thanks to our sponsors Writing show notes for this talk were a challenge and there were a lot of twists and turns. So I will simply suggest that you either skim the transcript or listen to the show. There was an amazing meeting of two minds, Angela and Brad, both with tons of experience working with clients and WooCommerce. This one is really worth the listen if you do agency work or build sites for WooCommerce store owners. Connect with Angela On Twitter @askwpgirlOn Facebook at Ask WP GirlAskWPGirl.comOn Twitter @WomeninWPWomen In WP Podcast Angela’s Meetups Boulder WordPress MeetupBoulder Elementor Meetup The Conversation Yes, this is the transcript. But not in the traditional sense, transcribed word for word. We do not speak as we write. Often the flow of transcribed content is hard to follow. So I have taken it a few steps further by seriously editing, at times, the conversation and even using my editorial freedom to clarify some points. So enjoy. Transcript New Tab Download Email Bob: Hey, everybody, BobWP, and we are back with Do the Woo, episode 62. I have the infamous, the one and only author of an amazing book my guest was just raving about before we even got on this show, Brad Williams. Brad: Hey Bob, how's it going? Bob: Good. How are you doing? Brad: I'm well, thanks. You have a good Fourth of July? Light any big fireworks over by you? Bob: You know it's interesting because our beach, we're in phase three... which I won't get into that. People can go down to the beach, but it's not like the beaches you see elsewhere that are packed. It's not Florida, it's the Pacific Northwest. We live right across the scrubs from the beach, so we're not that far away. I'm not a big fan, because it takes me past my bedtime, but I just sit on the couch and I have two windows to look out and there's fireworks, They're all along the beach because they just open up about 8, 10 miles of the beach and people can go down there and just put on their own show. I mean, that's nice because I could stay in my house and watch them. I started grumbling and saying, "I want to get to sleep, people," but I did it to myself and I was in my house so nobody said anything. How about yourself, Brad? Brad: Yeah, we had a good time up in the Poconos and we have... our son is four, so we're not staying up past your bedtime, Bob. We're doing fireworks and it's still daylight out, but we blew some things up. I still have all my fingers, so that's a win in my book. Bob: Good, good. No strange videos coming on Twitter showing Brad had an accident. Brad: Not yet. Bob: All right. Bob: Well, we are going to be diving in real soon. We have a great guest. But before we do, I'd like to thank our sponsors. WooCommerce, our community sponsor. I'm going to say 4.3 is out by the time this show comes out, but there was a delay, so it may come out sometime this week,. So, it could be there, it could not, and we'll talk about it on the next show. Recapture.io, an abandoned cart and email marketing solution. It's really three in one because they will also send out review reminders. And you can get 60 days free with a special link that you'll hear about later in the show. Then, Mode Effect, they are your WooCommerce partner to help you with your site optimization and speed. The team over there says they will help you increase profits and I'm pretty sure they will if you let them dive into it, so check them out. Let's go for it. Angela Bowman. We have Angela here today. How are you doing, Angela? Angela: I'm doing great. Happy to be here. Bob: Angela, how do you Do the Woo? It's interesting, because when I look for guests sometimes, they talk about all their WooCommerce work. Other times, I find out through osmosis or some other way that, "Oh, this person does quite a bit with the WooCommerce." First of all, how was your Fourth? Let's start with that. Angela: Oh. It was great. We tried to find the eclipse in the telescope, and apparently, you really can't see that very well, so I thought I was seeing it, but it was really just the rim of the telescope going over! It was like, "Oh, that's not the eclipse." My son's like, "Look, we move it around and it goes away." We hung out. We sat in the hammock. We listened to all of the blasting going on around us, and it was just a really chill day. I actually did my taxes. I got all my taxes done. I thought that was a very patriotic day thing to do for the Fourth of July. Brad: I don't think I've ever heard of that before, but good to cross off the list. Angela: I found a lot of relief. How Does Angela Do the Woo So, how I Do the Woo, yeah... I started with... wow, when did WooCommerce come out? Bob: 2011. Angela: That's probably when I started using it, maybe 2012. So I've mostly had people come to me because they've had unique needs for their WooCommerce sites or they already have an eCommerce solution and they want to transition to Woo, so one thing that I've gotten really good at is how to customize all the WooCommerce templates, or mostly work with the hooks to make unique pages for people in their WooCommerce shops. People will install Woo, they'll look at it and they'll say, "You know, it's ugly. I need someone to make it look a lot nicer." So, I usually work with a designer who comes up with these outrageous designs, and then I dive deep into all the hooks and documentation for making those happen, a lot of which is about customizing the tabs. People are all about wanting to customize tabs, and I don't like the plug-in for doing that because it's ... I don't know, I don't think it's that efficient and it's funky. So, I just work with the hooks and use advanced custom fields to set up specific content areas that they need to have their different types of content show on the product pages or category pages, I work with a wide variety of clients, from non-profits to schools... I work with a mountaineering school here in Colorado... to physical products. I also work with a goat milk company in the Northwest. Angela: So yeah, there's a wide variety there, and I do enjoy the ecosystem a lot. Clients Looking to Use WooCommerce or Needing to Sell Them On It Brad: I'm curious. Like you said, you've been on WooCommerce and WordPress for many years now; you've taught classes online and probably even in person in Colorado there. When people come to you, are they already sold on WooCommerce, or are they just coming to you saying, "I need help. I need to get online. I need to sell, or I need to revamp my store?" I always like to hear people's thoughts on that, because there's a lot of options, more so today than ever, and WooCommerce certainly being one of them and a big part of the market. But there's always the argument that it's not the easiest, right, because just with WordPress, it can do anything you want, but you have to make it do certain things, right, and at some point, you might hit a wall of how far your skills can take you. So I'm curious, with your experience and the type of people you're working with, what's their feedback? Are they all in on Woo? Do you have to sell them? Is it an educational component, or what's that look like? Angela: I've had it go both ways. So, one of my first big WooCommerce sites was originally a Shopify site, and they had some complex discounting they wanted to do, which they couldn't do in Shopify. Woo didn't exist at the time, so they moved to a product in Colorado called OrderStorm because they were willing to customize their product to allow for this discounting, but their interface was very 1990s and really clunky and hard to work with. When they were ready to revamp their site, I knew that WooCommerce was on the scene and it had a lot of potential, so I said, "Well, why don't we do WooCommerce with dynamic pricing plug-in," and that took care of all of their complex discounting needs. Then, they wanted to integrate with Salesforce and Quickbooks, and I think when you have companies who have more complicated needs, Woo is really the solution because you don't ever have to say no to them about anything. You can make it all happen. So, that was a Shopify to WooCommerce transition. Then, I just recently had the opposite, where I had a company come to me who had been on the Shoppe plug-in. Do you remember the Shoppe plug-in? Brad: Oh yeah. Making Sure That Woo is Right for the Client Angela: Yeah, that was fun. I didn't really start liking eCommerce until WooCommerce came about, by the way, and there's good reason for that. I hated it, actually. So, they came to me, they were on Shoppe, they needed to update their look. They had a really good designer in the company. He created these great designs. I coded it all in Woo. It was not an inexpensive project, and it all looked great. I mean, the site was beautiful. They were acquired by another company, and then that company was wanting to streamline things and they moved everything over to Shopify, and the Shopify site looks great, works great. At the time that they came to me, they wanted a product customizer where people could pick different components of the product and visually see it. So we used a product customizer we found on CodeCanyon that was pretty cheap and easy to set up, and that was a big selling point for them to use Woo, was some of these unique things they wanted to do. But when they were acquired, the company that acquired them said, "These unique things aren't selling. This is a lot of work for not a lot of profit. Let's streamline everything. Let's make it a lot easier to maintain," and so they moved over to Shopify. I was so sad because we had spent so much time on their WooCommerce site, but it was really the right choice for them. I had another client come to me in Boulder, the mountaineering school... they said, "We want to use WooCommerce. We want to sell courses." I went to WooConf that year and I said, "Maybe you don't want to use WooCommerce. Maybe you want to use a third party package," so I spent all this time trying to talk them out of using WooCommerce just because I wanted to make sure. They were already sold on WooCommerce, but I needed them to prove to me that they had done their due diligence and looked at all of the other out-of-the-box packages that could meet their needs before we went into doing a bunch of customizations to create these courses, which meant that we had to create custom fields at the variation level for them to be able to track all this information and have it go to Salesforce with dates, per variation, and all these details. I'm sorry. Is this too nerdy? Brad: No, this is great. It's exactly what I'm thinking about, because you mentioned the simplicity of platforms like Shopify, and it's something that I struggle with when friends or family come up to me and say, "Hey, you know online. It's what you do. I want to launch a store. How should I do it?" I always say, "You get on Shopify." To start, if it's something new, and I hate to say it, but I feel like it's still the right answer. If you're just trying to proof a concept on something new, maybe you have a hobby that you're trying to see if there's something there, especially in today's environment when people are trying different things, maybe a career switch, maybe now they're forced to work from home and they need to do some different. They're thinking about, "Oh, this hobby, maybe I can make it a legitimate business. I need to launch a store." My concern is that they'll get so overwhelmed in the setup and integration of getting WooCommerce running that they'll actually lose focus of proving whether what they have will actually sell. So, spend the 50 bucks a month, or 30 bucks, whatever it is, for a basic Shopify; get a super-simple store online; and then prove that it works. Then when things start to grow and you're like, "Okay, this is working, this is good," then, in my opinion, that's a great time to start exploring, "Is Shopify where we should stay for the next year, two years, forever, or should we now look at something that's going to be a little bit more robust?" I think that is a challenge that WooCommerce has today and is going to continue to have, is that entry level. Not So Entry Level Friendly and Then There’s the Maintenance Angela: It's not entry-level friendly. Also, just the maintenance. I have a couple very simple WooCommerce sites that would be the kind that you just install Woo, you run through the Wizard and it adds your pages, and then we maybe have a very simple flat-rate shipping so we don't have any shipping plug-ins, and they've included tax. We don't have to worry about tax tables. But then you have the problem of templates. So, let's say you get the Woo pieces all put together and you've added your products. How does your site look? Now you've got to find a theme or have someone customize something for you. You get that all set up so it's working; then you have to maintain it and make sure that it doesn't break. So yeah, I do the same thing. I talk people out of it all the time. I just say it's a lot of responsibility once you get into all the plug-ins you're going to need. You're going to spend a minimum of $300 to $700 a year on plug-ins, and you need to weigh and balance that, plus maintenance for someone to keep this updated and have the site not break. WooCommerce or Shopify or…. Brad: Yeah, I mean, it's an absolutely fair point. I think just to put this in perspective a little bit, the market share of Shopify, I think, is actually bigger than most people realize. So obviously, WordPress dominates platforms out there, but in terms of websites that are running a content management system — and this is coming from W3Techs.com — but a website running a CMS, WordPress is number one at 63 percent. Shopify is number two at 4.3 percent, and it's ahead of Joomla, it's ahead of Drupal, it's ahead of these really robust platforms that aren't just eCommerce, that can do a lot more, just like WordPress can. But it's sitting at number two, and it has passed Joomla and is ahead of Drupal, which I think is pretty astonishing that Shopify is such a large platform now,. I think that is a very big uphill battle that WooCommerce has to figure out. I do think it is important, because yes, it is that smaller market. It is the small business, mom-and-pop shops that are going in that entry level. A massive component of online sales is that S&B side, and that's where they're struggling. Angela: Well, and it's also like this big company. I mean, this is a big company with manufacturing that transitioned to Shopify because they just realized it was more efficient for them all around. They didn't have to maintain a site and hosting and all of that. Shopify scales, and I think companies like SkyVerge and those people who are developing add-ons for Shopify, and also WooCommerce, they've been able to provide a lot of stuff for Shopify that makes it a highly competitive product. Thanks to our sponsor: This episode is brought to you by Recapture Abandoned Cart Recovery and email marketing for WooCommerce. Anyone who runs a Woo shop knows how frustrating abandoned carts are. And getting them back with Recapture is easy and setup takes less than 5 minutes. With their ready-to-use emails you can take them out of the box and start working for you right away. You’ll save time having to start from scratch.  Abandoned cart emails are managed for you automatically as the email service runs outside of your store ensuring the best delivery to your customers. The easy to ready analytics reports will help you to monitor your cart recover. And what’s really cool is you can watch what is happening live on your store with Recaptures Live Cart Feed. The plugin is highly optimized so don’t worry about it slowing down your site. And their guarantee of email delivery, traffic increase loads and support make it a valuable investment compared to the free plugins out there. From what I hear, if you sign up you will be joining thousands of merchants who have already recovered over $115,000,000. Make sure and check them out and as a listener, get 60 days free with Recapture. Just go to Recapture.io/dothewoo-special And now, back to our conversation. Brad: I like what you mentioned, where you made the client prove that they had done their due diligence. I think that's a really respectful thing that you did, because I don't think that's common. I think most people would say, "Great, you want to use the platform that I can set you up with. Awesome." I look at WooCommerce, and I've said this on the show before, but I really look at all these things as different tools, right? There's a lot of options out there, whether it's WooCommerce or Shopify or even BigCommerce, which is growing, and a number of other ones, Wix, even, that are a potential fit for what the person is looking to do. So, we sit down and really analyze, like, "All right, what are you looking to do? Let's work backwards from your goals and make sure that we're putting together the best plan to hit your goals, for you to be successful, and maybe that's WooCommerce, maybe it's not." Maybe it's really tight Gutenberg integration; maybe it's not. I think you're doing a really good service for your clients by having those conversations, even if it might mean you're potentially losing some work, because if you're putting them on a platform that, ultimately, you're just shoving them in where they may not fit, then at some point, it's going to end up coming back on you and blowing up in your face because you didn't do right by your clients or by whoever you're trying to help by not actually figuring out what they need and going from there. You're just forcing a solution on them. I mean, I'm a big fan of WooCommerce. Obviously, we do a podcast about it, but I don't think it's the right fit for absolutely everything. I don't think anything is the right fit for everything in terms of online, right, even WordPress, believe it or not. Helping the Client Choose the Platform Angela: Especially if you know their competitors are using other products. What I did is I created a pretty big spreadsheet of every one of their competitors, every platform those competitors were using, the pluses and minuses of those platforms, and made them look at that with me. Brad: It would be a pretty interesting analysis. What are the competitors all using, if you remember or can even talk about it? Were they all using the same platforms or were they all different? Angela: There were a few. There was a handful of platforms that they were using. One was even using Gravity Forms. That was fascinating. I love Gravity Forms. You can rock the world with Gravity Forms. No, they were pretty sophisticated platforms, and I felt they were really viable, but this client said, "I have this one specific thing that we really want to do, and we don't believe that we can do it in these other platforms." They were actually coming off a platform that was costing them a lot of money every month, and they wanted to just run it themselves, and I was very honest with them about, "Well, this is going to cost a lot of money. You're going to pay me a lot of money. You're going to have a lot of things come up." They've been happy so far, and we even hired a team in India to do a few of the customizations for them. We did some customizations that they ended up realizing they didn't really need, and we didn't use. Clients can come up with lots of complicated problems that sometimes they don't really need to solve. I think that's been my biggest learning experience with WooCommerce, is clients want it because they can. They are making things more complicated than they need to be. Brad: I know exactly what you're talking about. Yeah, that's the problem, sometimes they over-complicate things, and I think a lot of it is just because they're not understanding the effort that goes into doing something. Again, I'm generalizing a little bit, but I see this a lot of requests without understanding the effort it takes to do something. There's an assumption like, "Okay, well, we want to do this," but they don't realize the ask is a hundred-hour custom integration because there's no other option. A lot of it is just educational, like you said,. To say, "Hey, is that really going to be worth the effort or the cost or the time? Are you really going to see a return on that?" We're always coaching clients or working with clients who say, "Where's the biggest bang for your buck? You're investing in us. We want you to be successful, because if you're successful, then we're successful, and that means there's also more work, so it's a win-win." So, rather than focus on this crazy feature that maybe nobody will use, let's focus on the areas that we know they're going to love and prove worth resources. So yeah, it's a lot of just education with your clients. Angela: You can even educate them, and they still insist that they need and must have this thing. I'd say using WooCommerce has humbled me. It's humbled me in terms of selling people on it and realizing I don't want to sell them on it. It's humbled me in terms of just the effort it takes to keep it going and not having things break, but mostly in those feature requests. They all insist on doing it, and I feel like now, in the future, I've had enough experience where I would probably push back even harder on not making the money and convincing them not to do something that they think that they must do. I might even push more people toward Shopify, honestly, even if they have hundreds of thousands of dollars of income coming in through their site. Yeah, I'd have to find out what the break point would be, price-wise, for using Shopify versus Woo. Brad: I think a fair comparison is when you look at an eCommerce setup and at the hosting. I think there's a fair comparison between a managed hosts, somebody like a WPEngine or a Pagely, where they do it all for you, right? They handle the servers. You know high-level specs, but you don't need to know all the minute details of how everything is set up. They just handle it for you, but there's a greater cost for that versus going with Amazon, AWS. It's super cheap to spin up very powerful servers, but generally speaking, you're going to have to pay a system administrator or someone that knows what they're doing to do that and to continue to maintain it. So, I look at AWS like the WooCommerce setup. It could be cheaper, it's endlessly flexible, but you have to pay someone or have a team that could manage that ongoing, so there's that cost on top of it. Or you go with something that's managed like a Shopify, and they take all the headaches out. There's no updates. They have a whole support team and staff to make sure your shop is running and working and online. It's not on you to necessarily manage that. You need to compare those. Do you want to pay more for that managed part? Maybe, but then there are also going to be some guard rails and some walls you're going to hit, like you mentioned, where you might want to do something that you can't do because it's just not possible on that platform. It's really give and take. Like you said, I think the smart move is to really look at a couple different platforms, weigh out pros and cons, map out what's important to that person in terms of their store and their features, and what are absolutely must-haves versus a wish list. Make that fair comparison and then really see where everything lands to help you make that decision, because it is a big decision. It doesn't mean you can't move off it, but again, you get a very established store migrating to a different platform. It turns into a pretty large undertaking. Plugins and Performance Angela: Yeah, and I think it's good that you mentioned the hosting environments, because that's the other thing that that has made this a very humbling experience. I've had to move a lot of people off of different hosts, including some hosts that we really do love and I've cherished for years, because WooCommerce just runs slow on their end. A lot of sites that I end up working with become resource-intensive because people can do so much with their WooCommerce site . They can run all these plug-ins and use all of this customer engagement plug-ins, and different things that grind their site to a halt. And if they don't have the right hosting resources behind it, enough memory and CPU being thrown at it, it's going to be slow. So, I've moved people over to a web host where the host doesn't have fixed pricing. They just charge per the usage of what they're using on Amazon. So, if they need more CPU, they need more memory, they're going to get it, but they're going to pay for it. I think that's the biggest education thing with clients. Just because you can install a plug-in doesn't mean you should, and just because you think you need that plug-in doesn't mean you really need it. How to talk people back from that and get them to understand the performance that that's going to take. It's mind-blowing to me, and I don't really have a good answer for it. I'd say, right now, my biggest pain point with WooCommerce is performance, because of those things. Brad: That's something we hear a lot about, and it's fair, because it's doing a lot. There's a lot going on in a eCommerce site versus just a standard content site. It's transactional, there's payments, there's inventory, there's products, there's all sorts of stuff. Performance definitely an area that people need to be aware of upfront to make sure that their setup is going to scale, at least initially, before they decide to make a bigger investment. Angela: Yeah, and you could go to a VPS and still not get the performance that you need. It's such a huge discussion, and I'd say in terms of doing WooCommerce, it's become the one area that's made me not want to have to do it. You can get deep into New Relic and start proving to them, "Hey, this one plug-in you're using is the problem". You have to a pretty extensive background to dive into some of that stuff. Brad: Yeah, I mean, I look at plug-ins like it's technical debt. If you launch a site with 50 plug-ins, they're doing 50 different things. The longer the site is running and growing, the more features that are potentially embedded. Which means they're potentially harder to get rid of. Now, to your point, you're stuck supporting those. You're stuck updating them. There's a potential that any one of them, or multiple plug-ins, can have performance or security issues. It's just more stuff you have to monitor. We build very complex sites, and people are usually surprised, and we'll have eight or 10 plug-ins, and they're really big sites. But we take a lot of the stuff that you might use a plug-in for and we don't use a plug-in. Social sharing buttons, you don't really need a plug-in for that if you know what you're doing, and then there's one less thing you have to worry about. Is this going to break when we update it? Are all Facebook Like buttons or whatever going to stop working when I click update? We just take that away. We take that potential away and we just hard code it, because it is what it is, and if it changes, we'll just change the code, but it doesn't change often. So, I would say, it's just technical debt. Everything you add into your site, every piece of code, every plug-in, your theme, everything... there is a cost, and the more complex it gets, the higher up that cost is going to go, so try to keep it as simple as you can. Thanks to our sponsor:This episode is brought to you by Mode Effect, an eCommerce agency that specializes in WooCommerce. Cody and the team at Mode Effect not only provide design and development of WooCommerce sites, but they are your partner to help you with site optimization and speed. We all know the importance of a fast loading shop. Whether it’s your customers who will likely leave a slow loading site or your customer services reps spending too much time on admin pages loading slow. At Mode Effect, they help eCommerce stores get where they need to be by optimizing for speed and increased profits. So if you tired of losing money and time, I would recommend you visit ModeEffect.com and have the professionals there get you the high profits and increased speed that you and your WooCommerce site deserve. That’s Mode Effect.com. Now let’s head on back to the show. Page Builders and WooCommerce Bob: How do you feel about... earlier, you talked about hooks and templates. That seems to be what you really enjoy getting into, so how do you feel about people integrating page-builders into WooCommerce sites, or what has been your experience? Angela: I've just started to be the organizer for the Elementor Boulder meet-up, and just started using Elementor in December. I've used page builders because I teach classes to people who want to build sites for clients, and they don't necessarily want to have to learn how to do PHP. I tried teaching people how to do templating. I tried teaching Brad Williams' book to people. In a class of 10 people, I might have one person who could run with that. I get a lot of designers and a lot of people in mid-life career transition who are very good at marketing, design, who really want to build sites for clients, and the page builders are the way to go. Personally, with my WooCommerce templates, I haven't done much with the templates at all. Because of the hooks, you don't really have to touch the templates a lot. You can do a ton of stuff with advanced custom fields and the functions file, and CSS. You don't necessarily have to be modifying the WooCommerce templates a lot. So, in terms of Elementor, that will be a new thing that I'll be getting into teaching and showing people how to use Elementor to create a custom WooCommerce product page, an archive page. But I honestly don't know how I feel about that yet. Bob: Okay, we'll look to have you back, then. Angela: Yeah! I want people to know the hook system. I want people to work with hooks, but I want people to know a lot of things that they don't want to know, so I don't know what to say about that. Gutenberg and Core Bob: What about Gutenberg and how WooCommerce is working into that? Any thoughts? Angela: I'd say that's the direction to go. I guess my general want of direction for everyone is to do things the WordPress way. So whatever WordPress is doing, that's what we should be doing, because then it's going to be maintained. It's going to go that direction more and more and you won't have to have these additional plug-ins. So, if you can rely on WordPress Core without having to layer a third party plug-in's templates on top of that, I'd say I'd want that to be the case. But I haven't gotten deep into that, either. Bob: It's all futuristic. Angela: Yeah. So far it's been just a lot of PHP, and I'm just so happy to stay right in that and not have that crux of the template builder, though I've been building a lot of really complex templates with Elementor lately and using some plug-ins that will allow you to do all those same conditionals on your fields with your advanced custom fields in Elementor. I'm doing it, and I'm scared at the same time. I'm like, "Should I be doing this? Should I have just coded this?" I don't know. The Challenges of Maintenance and Databases It's a different world than it was in 2008. There's things that are just too easy to do and too tempting to do, and I don't know. I think I'm more curious these days in terms of WooCommerce and maintenance. What are the best practices for maintaining a WooCommerce site? Should you ever purge old clients from your users' list? Should you ever archive old orders? If you have a site that's been running on WooCommerce since 2012 and you have these tables in your database that have grown just exponentially, should we look at archiving some of that old data and purging it? Brad: Yeah, that's an interesting point. I haven't really thought about it, but it does go back to that performance concern, right? That's an area we see in WordPress. Sites that have a ton of content and have been around for a long time. There's essentially two tables, the post and the post-meta table, that just get massive, especially the post-meta table, because for every entry, there's 10 entries at minimum, and most sites have way more than that. It's actually not a bad thought. You need to be able to get to that data. You don't want to delete it because you might need it. If somebody comes back five years later and you're trying to figure out what they ordered and how you can help them, but it doesn't necessarily need to be in your primary tables. There's probably a market for that if WooCommerce isn't interested, like a third party to build something that helps you offload that, put it somewhere else where you can get to it but it's not right in your face to help with performance. Angela: Yeah. I had a client with 7,000 coupons in their WooCommerce database, and when we updated WooCommerce subscriptions and WooCommerce points and rewards plug-in, something about their existing coupons made the coupons page throw a fatal error. So we did a rollback with the points and reward plug-in and got them to delete a bunch of coupons just because I was looking at them like, "You have a lot of coupons going back six years. I think we can get rid of them now. They're all expired." Then, we didn't have the crash happen any more because it was just a few coupons in there that that was causing the problem. I do feel like when these WooCommerce sites are in the hands of business owners, they don't know anything about how to keep their sites clean. A lot of my hand-holding these days is with sites after they're set up and I didn't necessarily set it up. Maybe I re-skinned it, but now, instead of just being the themer person, I'm now their support person, their technical support person for everything that I know very little about. But I'm the only one they have to go to to figure this out. It's a lot of demand and a lot of stress on people to support a WooCommerce site, I have to say. It's very, very fun to build, very fun to theme and to set up, but a pain in the butt moving forward, particularly if you have clients who have a lot of stuff and a lot of legacy stuff. If you're going to take on Woo, you're taking on a lot of responsibility, so you want to have that real sense of partnership with who you work with and trust, and that you're on the same page with how you're going to manage the site going forward. Because anything they mess up is going to come back to you to help them with. I only have the bandwidth to maintain a certain number of WooCommerce sites, and with certain types of clients so that I know that I'm not going to have my days interrupted frequently with problems happening with the WooCommerce site. Not because anything wrong is with WooCommerce, but it's all these other plug-ins. I don't know how you feel about that, Brad, but those relationships last a long time with your clients. Choosing Your Clients. Knowing Your Limits. Brad: Yeah, it goes back to making the right recommendations, finding the right fit, not just for them, but for you. I think a lot of people forget that. I understand it's business and we're in it to make money, but if you're setting yourself up in a position to fail, you probably will, so it doesn't make sense to take on a project you're uncomfortable with, or to build out a site that you know is not going to work well in WooCommerce just because they want it. It's just going to end up in a very bad spot. You want to get good clients. You don't want the needy clients that don't respect the boundaries that you set. I understand there's emergencies that happen, and we have contingencies for that and plans for that, but all too often, you hear, "Well, we don't really need that SLA," or, "We don't need that 24/7 support." Okay, but then, when they do need it, and it's at 10:00 at night and they're wondering why we're not hopping on the line to help, well, we've had those conversations. You want to just make sure everything is very clear up front. They understand what services you're providing, especially on the support side, because there is going to be that expectation if something goes wrong at night. Are they going to call you? Is there an expectation that you're going to fix it? If there is, make sure it's written down, and make sure you're getting paid for it. Angela: Yeah, that's why I don't think I'll re-skin sites anymore, because the sites that I've helped people build from the ground up, I've chosen all the plug-ins, I've advised them on the plug-ins. They don't install a bunch of stuff. I feel comfortable in that space. I'm great. The clients who really do install all their own plug-ins... things are a little bit more out of control. Brad: They know enough to be dangerous, right? Angela: It's not like they're all horrible plug-ins. Sometimes they are and sometimes they're not, but it's like, "Wow, I just can't support you in the way that you need support," because there's too many variables here that I don't work with in my other WooCommerce projects. I only hear about them when they need new features, and I only hear about you when your site is not working properly, and that's not my fault. I'm your themer. But now, I'm going to remove myself from that role. If I can't fully support them on their site completely, I'm not even going to agree to be the person to re-skin it. It's an interesting role when you're a solopreneur. You end up wearing maybe more hats than you want to wear. So, there's a learning curve, a lot of responsibility with WooCommerce, and I think we could all be very conscious of that responsibility we're putting on ourselves and on our clients. Bob: Yeah, well, perfect words of wisdom to round out the show with, and especially since I won't ask either of you for support for my site, which has, I won't tell you how many plug-ins, but we'll just leave it at that. I'll deal with my plug-ins and moan and groan to myself if I have issues. Any announcements? I was going to say WooCommerce 4.3 may or may not be out by the time the show comes out. We'll see. Angela, anything you have going on, either personally or professionally, you want to share? Angela: Well, I am, again, the co-organizer of the Elementor Boulder meet-up. We meet the first Tuesday of every month, and that's at noon Mountain Daylight Time. You can find us on meetup.com, Elementor Boulder. We will be talking about WooCommerce templates at some point in the near future. I'm also the co-organizer for the Boulder WordPress meet-up, which is the third Tuesday of every month at 6:00 PM, and again, on meetup.com, Boulder WordPress. These are all via Zoom, and it's been great to have people from around the country participating in these. I'm teaching a class July 13th and 15th at Boulder Digital Arts on SEO. Part of the class is just basics of SEO, the rest of the class is setup in Yoast and understanding anything and everything you need to know about Yoast. So, I'm excited to be doing that. Bob: Excellent. Brad, anything? Another book coming out or anything like that? Brad: No. Well, who knows, but nothing on the horizon, so check out Professional WordPress Plug-in Development, Second Edition, it's out on Amazon. Give that a shot. It just came out just a few weeks ago, actually. So, that's all. Angela: Highly recommend. Brad: Angela is a big fan of our WordPress series, so we might be talking about the fourth edition of the other book, the original. We'll see. Nothing official yet, but we'll see. I don't know, after hearing everything you've got going on, Angela, I feel like I need more on my plate, but I don't really have much, It's summer time. Just trying to get in the sun and float in water somewhere. Bob: All righty, well, Brad, do you want to close it out for us? Brad: Absolutely. So, Angela, why don't you tell everyone where they can find you online? Website, social media, any places they could reach out and say hi? Angela: AskWPGirl.com, and then AskWPGirl everywhere,Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. I'm also a co-host of the Women in WordPress podcast, so we'd love for you to tune into that as well. That's WomeninWP.com, and on Twitter, WomeninWP. Brad: Check it out. We always love when we have fellow podcasters on the show, because then, Bob and I don't have to talk as much, which is great. This was a really good show. I want to thank our sponsors before we wrap up here. Recapture.io, they've been a sponsor for a number of episodes now, but just like the tagline says, in five minutes, you can get rid of your abandoned cart problem and boost your store's revenue by 10 percent. I don't know why you wouldn't take them up on that. So, if you're not doing any abandoned cart setup or integration, you should be, so check out Recapture.io. WooCommerce is always our community sponsor, and Mode Effect... Cody L., one of my buddies. If you're looking for some WooCommerce support, build-outs, anything like that, you can check out Mode Effect.com, and Cody L. will take care of you over there. What did I forget, Bob, anything? Bob: No, I think that's it. I think we're good to go. Again, thanks, Angela, it was great having you on and hearing about your Woo-ness. Angela: Thank you. Brad: So until next time, I'm Brad and he's Bob, and we'll see you on the next Do the Woo. 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Mary is not a veteran of WooCommerce, but has successfully used it to launch her own store and has plans to get into it even deeper. She is also on the WordPress core contributor team and has a passion for documentation. A Chat with Mary Baum In episode 61, I chat with Mary about: How she started working with WordPress and her first exposure to WooCommerce.Her biggest challenge with WooCommerce.What is happening with WooCommerce meetups and how she is involved.The top strength of and challenge with WooCommerce meetups.What the perfect world of Woo might look like in five years.Why meetups should always address the needs of beginners.The mix of in-person and virtual meetups for the future. Thanks to our sponsors Mary shares how she started with WordPress, but more even more importantly, the unique client she had for her very first WooCommerce project. She also shares a bit around her biggest challenge as someone who is still learning WooCommerce. One of the reasons I brought Mary on was that she is not a seasoned Woo user, but has plans to move deeper into Woo. We find out what that means and if it is more for her own projects or for future client work. One of Mary’s original interests came from wanting a solution for her site RacquetPress.com. She built it because of the lack of success she found on the web for tennis apparel that she liked. As she builds out her store, I ask her more about if she plans on sticking with original designs or if reselling or dropshipping are in the future for her. After that, we flip to what Mary does on the WordPress core team. She describes herself as a copy editor, which leads us into talk about documentation, including docs around WooCommerce. We round out with her thoughts on whether documentation in the tech world is improving on the web. Lastly, I ask Mary how she would respond to someone who is considering WooCommerce and coming to her for advice. Mary is obviously a fan of Woo but she does share with us a couple specifics. Connect with Mary You can find Mary on Twitter @marybaumHer tennis apparel site: RacquetPress.com The Conversation Yes, this is the transcript. But not in the traditional sense, transcribed word for word. We do not speak as we write. Often the flow of transcribed content is hard to follow. So I have taken it a few steps further by seriously editing, at times, the conversation and even using my editorial freedom to clarify some points. So enjoy. Bob: Hey, everybody. BobWP here, episode 61. I am back by myself. Well, not by myself literally, but no cohost. It's national Give Your Cohost a Day Off. I actually made up that holiday. It doesn't exist, but I've started it today. So now my cohosts can remember that. We are here with a great guest. This is a little bit of a different angle on how we normally talk about WooCommerce and we'll be getting into that. Before I do, I want to just thank my sponsors real quick. Mode Effect, your WooCommerce partner to help you with your site optimization and speed resulting in increased profits. You got to check them out. Cody over at his agency does great work. Recapture.io. An abandoned cart and email marketing solution. With abandoned carts, you've got to take care of that stuff. And of course WooCommerce, our community sponsor. Just a reminder, 4.3 release candidate two came out. And on July 7th, the release will be out. I'm assuming you all have everything set by now, but just in case you don't., a friendly little reminder. Well, let's get into the show. Today I have a special guest, Mary Baum. Hey Mary, welcome to the show. Mary: Hello, How are you? Bob: I am doing excellent. And I'm looking forward to this. And just to give a little preface to this. Mary and I talked a while back about having her on the show. She does a lot in the WordPress space, which we'll touch on as well. But as far as WooCommerce, she's gotten into it, and she wants to get into it more. So I thought it would be great to take that perspective from somebody that hasn't been immersed in it for years and years. Get a little bit of feedback, insight from her on WooCommerce. and then just how it connects with all the other dots. But before we do that. I know you have your hands in a lot of stuff. Why don't you tell us what you do right now? What keeps you busy and how does WooCommerce play into that? How Does Woo Fit Into the Mix with Mary Mary: Well, a lot of what keeps me busy these days is the WordPress Core team. And then WooCommerce is almost like my side gig. I've got into product design a bit. So I'm playing around with a couple of integrations with WooCommerce, Printful and Printify. And I'm designing because I wasn't really finding the stuff I wanted to wear for tennis. And then from an aesthetic point of view, I'm interested in exploring surface pattern design. I also have some patterns on some hosted solutions from Spoonflower for fabric to some of the other hosted places like Redbubble and Society6. And have started also doing some wall art with some of my photography. I shoot three things, basically. Landscapes, macro flora, flowers and leaves and stuff. And I shoot tennis when there are tournaments. And of course, with a background in tennis, I've shot a lot of pros portraits in my life. Bob: Okay. Because we have a lot of different angles we can take this on. Let's go back just a bit, probably more than a bit. But how did you get into WordPress? Because obviously over time that led up to WooCommerce when you were looking at your need sand you wanted to start selling you something. What's your original WordPress story? Mary Gets Into WordPress and WooCommerce Mary: My original WordPress story is kind of boring. I was in a marketing group and people were using WordPress and I had not yet learned to design with it. I had learned to build real sites with regular HTML and CSS. I started learning to code at the tender age of 47. So I turned 50 and that was also weird because I had always looked forward to turning 40, but then I wasn't counting on my forties ending. But the more interesting story is not so much how I got into WordPress. It was my first exposure to WooCommerce, which was in 2012. And I had a client who, in this day and age of the Karen, nobody wants to hear about the lousy client. And I'll preface this by saying, I'm an atheist agnostic, sort of new ager, culturally Jewish. And I have this client who says she's channeling an Archangel. And so for comedy purposes, I'm going to say, it's the Archangel who was the bad client. I'd be reading these transcripts of this and that. And I'd be like, "Well, this is nice Archangel Michael. Well, let me tell you something. On this planet, we have these things called commas when we write. And I suggest you use them." So anyway, my first exposure to WooCommerce was setting it up with a booking solution. I don't remember now which booking solution it was. In fact, I'm forgetting the names. But basically she was selling appointments. And that actually worked pretty well. And I learned to design it and I'm a Genesis person. I've been involved with Genesis and bought the pro pack in 2011. And WooCommerce, as you know, takes a similar approach to the gridding that Genesis does. And so that was not all that hard. And then my next adventure with WooCommerce. There's a guy here in St. Louis who's the exclusive servicer of prints brand stringing machines. This is a company called Tennis Machines. They've moved on to, I believe Aveda or some theme like that. I think it's the X Theme or something. But I had the site for a couple of years. And they had some things they were selling that they had inventor So I set it up there and got them going with WooCommerce. When I started reading Chris Lema's blog and he had a period where he was starting to talk about Printify and Printful and some other things. And he's always setting up a merchant store for something. Maybe he has a little less time now that he's in the middle of a move. Bit I've learned a lot over the years just from watching his videos and going to his talks. So when I see him, I try to make a big point of asking him about something that's actually of interest to him, where I'm not getting a piece of him for free. And if I have a challenge with WooCommerce itself, it's figuring out which ... Despite the Genesis plugin, that does a lot of it. And I suspect if I would read through the documentation a little bit more, I'd probably have an easier time of it. But figuring out what styles and templates really to turn on and turn off. So that I'm not constantly going between hundreds of things to target that are sometimes redundant. But there was never any question of my using anything else. And sometimes when I go on these merchandise sites and they have a Shopify integration or some other, it's like, "No, I'm going to do the WooCommerce thing. It's a no brainer." And especially now, not that I've really investigated them. But now that there are some of the plugins that I can experiment without committing to $70 or $80 a year for each one. I think that's going to be a good way to get my feet wetter. Bob: Yeah, exactly. So you're at this point where you've started with WooCommerce for yourself and we didn't really talk about RacquetPress.com, which is your tennis apparel site. And that's where you're selling stuff. And you said that you were looking to get into WooCommerce, maybe even more. What did you mean by that? Are you thinking of doing more WooCommerce projects for people? Or do you really want to wrap your brain around it and get the most out of it for your own use? Or a bit of both? What Mary Means by Doing More With Woo Mary: I think a bit of both, if I could ever learn to focus. Bob: Give yourself three more years because I think I maybe finally did. I don't know. Mary: I think you're close. Yeah. So we'll see if I can make something of the merchandise. See if I can find something that actually sells. I think that one of the difficulties at this stage in life is that there's an aesthetic in the art and merchandise world that is just perhaps not where I am. So either people who like the same things I like will eventually find their way to me. Or I'll broaden it or else I will do it just as a way of making art. And spend more of my time that I spend interacting with the world, just giving back to Core and taking on the occasional paid project. I may start booking some project work again in the first half of '21. Still making that decision. Bob: Now about RacketPress.com, you're using Woo. Is it primarily the product you're selling on there. So you're printing your own artwork on it and using a service like Printify, that's the concept. Mary: Yes. Bob: So you're not reselling, you're taking a blank slate and putting stuff on. So you obviously didn't want to become a seamstress or run a factory of people putting all this stuff together. Are you set on selling your products, using your artwork and the prints on it, versus ever looking for any other products out there you might resell? Selling Your Own Products vs. Reselling/Dropshipping Mary: I was watching some videos yesterday about a product in the drop-ship world, the whole Alibaba thing. And that doesn't really appeal because that seems hard even with nothing coming through here. And also the whole point of it for me is to sell things with ... I mean, at first the point was to sell tennis related things. And then it was to broaden out into things that come from my landscape photography or things that come from other explorations in pattern design. It's really about the art of it. Bob: Yeah. And I know some people that have gotten into drop shipping and some of them ... I mean their model was built for it and there weren't a lot of choices. But I've heard of a lot of challenges. You don't have inventory, you don't have shipping yourself. There's a lot of benefits to it, but there's a lot of other logistics that are thrown into it that can be challenging. Thanks to our sponsor:This episode is brought to you by Mode Effect, an eCommerce agency that specializes in WooCommerce. Cody and the team at Mode Effect not only provide design and development of WooCommerce sites, but they are your partner to help you with site optimization and speed. We all know the importance of a fast loading shop. Whether it’s your customers who will likely leave a slow loading site or your customer services reps spending too much time on admin pages loading slow. At Mode Effect, they help eCommerce stores get where they need to be by optimizing for speed and increased profits. So if you tired of losing money and time, I would recommend you visit ModeEffect.com and have the professionals there get you the high profits and increased speed that you and your WooCommerce site deserve. That’s Mode Effect.com. Now let’s head on back to the show. What Mary Does on the WordPress Core Team Now, previously, you had talked a little bit about working in Core. What I'd like to get is a bit more specific and exactly what you do in Core. Mary: Basically I'm the copy editor. Occasionally I'll get involved with things around tickets in the code. And I will get on a ticket and discuss some of the writing that goes on in the software, in the form of error messages. I was involved in a long discussion and negotiation about how we tell people to upgrade their version of PHP. Periods of like 20 minutes at a time over six months. So that's me. Yay. It started right after the release of 5.0. If you ever want to get involved in any part of WordPress, but particularly Core, all you need to do is download Slack and leave it open. Just leave it running and listen for the knock, knock noise. And follow the discussions and find a place where you fit in. And so it started with 5.2 and releasing the betas and stuff. I very tentatively offered suggestions about the release post. Just little places where I could take out a word here or there, fix a verb. Don't get me started on verbs. Documentation and WooCommerce Bob: How about copy around WooCommerce? Mary: Microcopy in WooCommerce, my first exposure. And it's saying things like, "It seems that your cart is empty," or "There was an error when you were attempting to ..." Various things. And I'm going, "No." Which was probably one of the best things that ever happened for my PHP. Because I was reading through all the WooCommerce files. Okay, where the hell is this? And no, we're not going to say it that way. Because I started life as an art director in an ad agency. That was what I wanted to be when I was in school. Well, first I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I wanted to be a sportscaster. But I wound up actually changing schools and learning design so that I would be an art director. And I could already write and I can never be just one thing. Well I could, but then I'd get bored and start making trouble. So I'm really better doing many things. And then my other cardinal rule, and it leads to a lot of these other copy rules, is don't talk down to people. You walk in their shoes. I took an acting seminar once in about 1987. And it was about learning to be in the character. I've never been particularly interested in acting. Frankly, it's hard enough to succeed in anything else. But you got to be the person that you're writing to. If you look at the great direct marketing writers, the Gary Halbert's and the John Carlton's of the world. That's what they'll tell you. Is you've got to know what somebody is feeling. What they're afraid of, what they want. You're never going to motivate anybody to do anything or to give you money by being the hero, or someone who knows more than they do. Bob: I agree. And I have always felt that way, even before I got into WordPress, having my own marketing company. But during those seven years of teaching beginners with WordPress. That was my gig for many years and that was it. I would sit there and yeah, I can remember what you're going through. It's empathy. We talk about it all the time, but it is. It's understanding, hey, I've been there. I get it. I know I have the patience here now to help you through it. It doesn't mean you're ignorant or stupid because you're having troubles wrapping your brain around it. You got to put yourself in their shoes. Thanks to our sponsor: This episode is brought to you by Recapture Abandoned Cart Recovery and email marketing for WooCommerce. 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Make sure and check them out and as a listener, get 60 days free with Recapture. Just go to Recapture.io/dothewoo-special And now, back to our conversation. One of the things I wanted to talk about with WooCommerce. And this is maybe an odd way of pulling in what you do with Core with WooCommerce. But as you get into WooCommerce and you get into all the different elements that you want to bring into WooCommerce. Whether it's Printify or extension. Because of what you do in core with documentation, what are you seeing in the bigger space? Especially in the WooCommerce or WordPress spaces. For example, you land on something and they're talking about WooCommerce, whether it's WooCommerce.com or somebody else writing about it with some kind of documentation. Is it more to the point where people are understanding that you need to make it easy, you need to make it simple, you need to make it concise? The same things you're working on with Core documentation now. Where Documentation is Improving on the Web Mary: Well, what I've noticed is the prevalence of video. And I think that's a great start. It doesn't work for me because I don't often have the patience to watch a five minute video to find an answer. If I were looking through an article, I can probably read the article in a fifth of the time it's going to take to watch the video. Bob: That's true about the video. I mean, I'm the same way. I'd rather read. Maybe it's just what I've always done. And you think that's helping clarify it and make it easier for people that are just getting into the different pieces of technology,. That video is accomplishing that? Mary: Well, I do see it. One of the things that I've been getting into sort of as a support to this, is I've been getting into 3D. And of course, because I am a good WordPress community member, not that I have yet to spend any money with Jonathan. But I'm learning Blender, which is an open source product. And the leader of one of the huge Blender communities is Jonathan Williamson. Pippin's twin brother. I remember years ago as we're getting ready for a WordCamp here in St. Louis, and my husband was going to volunteer, I said, "Oh, I need to warn you about something. There's two Pippins. So if you see Pippin in the hallway and Pippin in the hallway, no, you're not going crazy." Bob: Yeah, exactly. Mary: So, while I have not yet joined Jonathan's membership site, knowing that was what Jonathan did, certainly led me to Blender. And the point I'm making telling you that is I really do find video helpful with Blender. I am now riding an exercise bike in the basement. And just yesterday, I learned how to put my phone videos on the big screen. I'm going to be doing a lot more Blender video watching as I get a little bit better into shape. Bob: Yeah. There are certain times when video worked for me better. Especially if I'm trying to put something together I've struggled with stuff. And I ended up going on YouTube and somebody is showing me how to do it. So it certainly saved me a ton of time in lot of cases. What I want to do to close this out is just get your words of advice. You're at a certain point using WooCommerce and you have experience with it. If somebody came up to you and wanted to use it, what would be your words of wisdom to them? The Piece of Advice for Those Who Are Considering WooCommerce Mary: If you're not going to use one of the WooCommerce themes like Storefront, it probably is to use a Genesis theme with the Genesis WooCommerce plugin. Because I think that simplifies a lot of the templating. Or as I would say to a person who's not elbows deep in CSS and PHP most days, the layout and the gridding. And I will also be really excited when you can make a product in WooCommerce with the block editor. The same way you can do a page or a post. And I'm not sure that's there yet. And I don't know whether it's on the roadmap even. Because I think most of the ways WooCommerce uses blocks are about taking the product you've built in essentially the classic editor. And I understand why, with all the database things you have to add. Which is also a great thing about Printful and Printify is they do that for you. That whole data entry thing is just handled. Instead of on your own, you have to figure out, well, is this a variable product? Does it have sizes? Does it have colors? And so if you do print on demand, that's all taken care of, because they know what the sizes and colors are. Bob: Exactly. And I think that's the direction WooCommerce is going. So, yeah. We'll see what happens there. Well, this has been cool. It's been great being able to chat with you. I don't think we've really had much time to chat even when we're at WordCamps together. Mary: No, I don't think so. We're always busy with our groups. Bob: Well, next time we're able to do one, we'll have to find the time. Where can people connect with you? Where's the best place for people to connect with you on the web? Mary: Twitter. I live on Twitter. Bob: So what is your Twitter handle? Mary: MaryBaum, M-A-R-Y-B-A-U-M. Bob: Great. Cool. Well, everyone, that's. I think we will wrap it up. Fortunately, you don't have to have me as the only cohost for upcoming shows. My cohost will return it as long as they don't think it's an extended vacation. But before we go, I just like to thank our sponsors one more time. Recapture.io, an email marketing and a cart abandonment service. WooCommerce.com. Of course, you know who WooCommerce is because we talk about it all the time. And Mode Effect, check them out. Great for getting your WooCommerce site optimized. And of course, you can subscribe to the podcast. And do all that good stuff. Keep on top of things with Woo News on my site. Again, thank you so much for coming on the show, Mary. Mary: My great pleasure. This has been great fun. And I tell you I've been excited for like three weeks. I've been thinking, Oh, I'm going to be on Bob's podcast. Bob: That is a record, let me tell you. Thanks and have a great day. Mary: You, too.
WooCommerce meetups are growing. With it comes education and support for the organizers as well as the community. Our chat with Sandi takes a deep dive into meetups and all the working parts around them. And the chat takes us even further into the Woo ecosystem and what Sandi’s vision is for WooCommerce. A Chat with Sandi Batik with LoneStar WP In episode 60, Mendel Kurland and I chat with Sandi about: Her journey to WooCommerce and why she has never looked back.What is happening with WooCommerce meetups and how she is involved.The top strength and challenge with WooCommerce meetups.What the perfect world of Woo might look like in 5 years.Why meetups must always address the beginners.The mix of in-person and virtual meetups for the future. Thanks to our sponsors As we start most of our podcasts, we ask Sandi to share her journey to WooCommerce. Her background and approach makes for an interesting insight into the space. Although she has been doing the WooCommerce meetup since 2015, we take a look at her newest endeavor as she has become part of a team to build WooCommerce meetups globally. A lot of the passion Sandi brings to the table is because she knew what she wanted to see happen both with WooCommerce and the community. Much of this came from her experienced training in quality management systems. She talks about what they are doing as a team to provide the much needed support to both meetup organizers and those who attend. Moving into the needs around meetups, wechat about the audience. WooCommerce has a wide range of users, from beginners to shop owners, developers to designers. We explore how those needs can be met and segue into Sandi’s passion for beginners and the need to find a way to help them. We round it off a discussion about WooCommerce meetups going virtual and how that will look when we are able to meet in person again. In a small The positive effect of all of this is that it opened eyes to the potential. We share what we see in our own meetups and how we feel it will play out once we are able to gather in person again. Announcements Want to start a WooCommerce meetup? Sandi is looking for is anyone who is interested in starting a WooCommerce meetup. And if you have a WordPress meetup, she would like to talk to you about doing quarterly Woo meetups. Sandi@lonestarwp.com Free Activity Logging Plugins Sandi’s developers have developed a collection of plugins that they use internally that route data from activity from activity logging plugins to third-party cloud-based log management services. You can find those here for free. Free Consulting to Speed Up Your Woo Store Mendel is offering his time freely to chat with anyone about how they can speed up their Woo sites. Find him on Twitter @ifyouwillit. WooCommerce Seattle Meetup I recently restarted the WooCommerce Seattle meetup after a hiatus. We are focused on helping beginners and users understand and get the most out of WooCommerce as well as helping others to make the decision of building their first store on Woo. You can see all my meetups here. The Conversation Yes, this is the transcript. But not in the traditional sense, transcribed word for word. We do not speak as we write. Often the flow of transcribed content is hard to follow. So I have taken it a few steps further by seriously editing, at times, the conversation and even using my editorial freedom to clarify some points. So enjoy. Bob: And we're back with Do the Woo. This is BobWP, episode six zero. That's a nice even number. And I'm here with my esteemed colleague Mendel Kurland. Mendel, how are you doing? Mendel: Bob, 60? That's incredible. This is a landmark podcast and I'm really excited for our guest today. So I'm really stoked for that. I'm having a great week, enjoying the hot weather here in Texas and I hope you're enjoying coastal life. Bob: Yeah, I am. It's been very nice, very mild weather. I don't need it hot. In the '60s is our heatwave here, and that's how I like it. So I'm good with that. Anyway, let's get into this. Yes, I definitely want to get into WooCommerce meetups. I've known Sandi online for many years, but I believe this is maybe one of the first times we've actually spoke to each other. We have Sandi Batik here today. Sandi, how are you doing? Sandi: I'm doing great. Because I'm in the great state of Texas along with Mendel. Bob: Oh, I see how it is. Okay, yeah. I see. Well, we usually start out with finding a little bit about what you do in the WooCommerce space and your journey. But before I get in to that, I'm would like to thank our sponsors. We have WooCommerce. They're our community sponsor. You know Woo. They have it all over there, so you got always end up on WooCommerce.com at some point. We have a new sponsor Mode Effect. If you're looking for an agency to get you started on eCommerce, I definitely would check it out. Cody and his team, they do a lot of eCommerce stuff but they do specialize in WooCommerce. And they don't just build it. They'll get in there and make sure they optimize it and get it to the speed you want and get the money rolling in like it should be. So it's just not, build it and you run with it. They're there to work with you. Also Recapture.io, an abandoned cart and email marketing solution. You don't like those things left in abandoned carts. I was in a store one time and I saw an abandoned cart, physically. And I thought about all the ice cream and everything was going to melt. So take that analogy. We don't want stuff left in the cart So you gotta have something to keep on top of that. How Does Sandi Do the Woo? Sandi, with that all said, how does Sandi Do the Woo? Sandi: Well, Sandi is been doing the Woo for a long time. We did our first eCommerce site way back in 1999. But we were introduced to WordPress in 2007. And we've never looked back. We actually did our first WooCommerce site in 2012. And we've been building WooCommerce ever since. I mean, it is one of our mainstays. And I also am the organizer of the WooCommerce meetup here in Austin. And we actually have been teaching Woo before there was an actual honest to God WooCommerce meetup. We were teaching Woo pretty regularly in our WordPress meetup. But a year ago, Nick, Toyin and myself decided to build a company together. And we're now building eCommerce Solutions, including Woo Stores. We're doing WordPress membership sites, custom eCommerce plugins and consultancy for eCommerce projects. So that's something that I enjoyed. And I've talked about this before. There's people who come and say, "I have an idea, and I'm going to do a store." And I look at that and I go, "You're not ready for this." We have democratized eCommerce. Which is a great and wonderful thing. However, that gives people the ability to lose money at a very rapid rate because they don't know what they're doing. Because my background is more in systems analysis, and business process management, I sometimes work with them to say, "Here's what you need to know before you start a store. Before you move, you got to do this list." So that's kind of my background. That's where I'm at right now and loving it. I love belonging to the community and I love working with the community. As An Early eCommerce Adopter, Her Journey to WooCommerce Mendel: Hey, Sandy before we get kicking off into the community conversation and the meetup conversation and all of that. I'm real curious if you can tell all of Bob's listeners a little bit about why you're so passionate about eCommerce and WooCommerce in general. You got your start in eCommerce and then you went to Woo. What got you excited about commerce and then what brought you towards WooCommerce? Why did you never look back? I think that's kind of interesting. Sandi: guess you have to go into my real background. Before I was in the web development space. I started off in my life as a project manager and I was also a systems analyst. Actually during the late '80s, I became a Deming Certified Quality Analyst. So, in that position, I worked for the Colorado Small Business Development Office for Minority and Women Business Development. My job was to help them build businesses. I wrote business plans and helped them figure out how to take their skill and make money. When you're doing it in brick and mortar, it is so hard for a young startup. But if I have an eCommerce tool and Woo is particularly facile, I can take a young business that doesn't have as much capital as it would have taken back in the '90s, or the early 2000s. And with some focus and some help, we can get them successful in a business. So why do I get excited about it? It's because I'm an old dog that loves my old tricks. I guess I love helping people build a business and I love seeing them be successful. And with Woo, I have the capability to make that happen at a very low price point. So that's it. At the end of the day, I just like doing it. Not a very deep reason. Mendel: It's good, but I think it sets the context for the next question that Bob's going to ask about meetups. Because I've known you for a little while and known that you're somebody that really enjoys helping other people and making them successful. What Sandi is Doing Around WooCommerce Meetups Bob: You talked about introducing WooCommerce and teaching WooCommerce in your WordPress meetup. And then you were able to start the WooCommerce meetup once they made that decision, and wanted to build on that. Before we dive into some real specifics around the meetups themselves, three weeks ago, we had Robert Windisch on, and he is on the team with you. And he talked more about the mentorship program behind this. Today, we want to dive more into the nitty gritty of the actual meetups. You have a love for teaching and wanting to help people. Is that what drove you into this team that you're now on? So maybe you can revisit what that team is about, and what your involvement is with this team to help build WooCommerce meetups. Sandi: One of the things I do is I collect a lot of statistics about our meetup. I collect who's there? What are they doing? What do we need? Where WooCommerce is failing? Where support is failing? And so I've probably been a noisier person saying, "We need to do this for the community." And I met Jonathan Wold when he first started. I talked to him about what I felt needed to happen. And he invited me to be on the team. I was thrilled because in my mind, my position on that team, is to be the voice, of not only the organizers that I'm working with, but the members. Because when you're an organizer, you're carrying the wants, needs and wishes of your community. And so if you're the one that's going to make the call to Woo or write the email. I mean, we've all done this. We've all said, "This is what I'm unhappy about, and I really need you to fix it." And Mendel knows I can complain, I try to be nice, but I will complain. But the issue is though, I think that my joy of being on this team is it gives me an opportunity to look at the things that I know have hurt or not hurt them. When it hurts the meetup in such a way that sometimes people gave up. And my goal is to make sure we have the tools. So organizers don't give up and members don't give up. And it takes nurturing. I'm really impressed with the team. I'm sure Robert told you. There's five other people and we are all over the world. The coolest thing about this is we meet once a week and we get to share what's working in each region. And we get to learn from each other. And I really feel like, because I was trained in quality management systems, I'm looking at this is like, "This is what we're supposed to be doing. We're finally approaching WooCommerce like it's a business, and it needs to focus on its customers." And its customers are the members of the meetup, who are trying to use it. And the developers who are trying to use it. So that's why I got excited about it. Why I'm thrilled to have been invited. Thanks to our sponsor: This episode is brought to you by Recapture Abandoned Cart Recovery and email marketing for WooCommerce. Anyone who runs a Woo shop knows how frustrating abandoned carts are. And getting them back with Recapture is easy and setup takes less than 5 minutes. With their ready-to-use emails you can take them out of the box and start working for you right away. You’ll save time having to start from scratch.  Abandoned cart emails are managed for you automatically as the email service runs outside of your store ensuring the best delivery to your customers. Their easy to ready analytics reports will help you to monitor your cart recover. And what’s really cool is you can watch what is happening live on your store with Recaptures Live Cart Feed. The plugin is highly optimized so don’t worry about it slowing down your site. And their guarantee of email delivery, traffic increase loads and support make it a valuable investment compared to the free plugins out there. From what I hear, if you sign up you will be joining thousands of merchants who have already recovered over $115,000,000. Make sure and check them out and as a listener, get 60 days free with Recapture. Just go to Recapture.io/dothewoo-special And now, back to our conversation. Meetups. What Is the Major Strength and What is Most Challenging? Bob: Let's start with the full spectrum. What do you see as the biggest strength and on the other end, what needs to really be worked on? Sandi: I think right now, the biggest strength is that it seems that WooCommerce has finally turned their eyes outward, and is looking into the community. Before it always felt like WooCommerce did what they did, then you figured out how you were going to use it. There wasn't a lot of, "Hey, let's talk to the community. Let's see what the clients need." And what I'm seeing and the thing that makes me the most happiest right now is I'm seeing a real, substantive change in how Woo is addressing needs. How Woo is meeting the meetup organizers halfway. They're really looking at how to make our lives easier, and how to give us the tools to build the community. So in my mind, the biggest positive right now is Jonathan Wold and his team, who have somehow managed to turn the eyes of Woo onto the community, in a very serious way. So that to me, that's the big one. They're listening. They're making changes. We've talked about the fact that we need the website redesign because Lord knows you can never find anything on it. But they're doing it. They're talking now about doing code freezes. The last two Thanksgivings, all of us who had eCommerce clients were dealing with the recent upgrade. So they're listening to us. To me, that's the big. I'm thrilled. One of the things I've noticed in my interviews with the organizers is we need to convince them to get out of the WordPress bubble. They talk about not getting many people at the meetups. Well, you're not going out of the bubble. You should be announcing your meetups at Chambers of Commerce, at business meetings, at other meetups. We need to go out of the bubble. So one of the things we've been talking about is how to train organizers to think outside of WordPress to bring a new market in. That is a big one. We've also talked about why some meetups have failed. Interestingly enough, most organizers are sole proprietors of small agencies. There's very few organizers that work for a big company. Most of them are on their own time, using their own dime. What that means is if they're having to develop their own training materials that you're going to need to get ready for a meetup. And then you have the four hours of a meetup and then two hours after. That's a lot of time you're asking someone to do that every month. But if we can get unified slide decks, and if we can get speakers notes, and if we can get good documentation up on that site, that means that we can get a person who wants to organize and wants to share They will have slide decks that they can pull down, teach from an existing slide deck and just add a little bit for themselves. So that gives them a tool to be an effective trainer and they can then spend time working on supporting the community. So, I think every organizer we speak to, we're getting a different list of wants and needs. And we're pulling them all together to see how we prioritize that and how we support them more quickly. What Sandi Hopes to See in the Woo World in Five Years Mendel: So Sandi, as an add-on to this question. Let's assume, Sandi Batik's world, five years from now, in the most incredible WooCommerce ecosystem, the most incredible WooCommerce community, that you could ever imagine. What does that look like to you? Where are we going? And how is that different than the way WordPress looks now? And how are these things separate? How are they combined? Because, as we all know, WooCommerce is just a plugin, right? Well, it's not just a plugin, it's much more than a plugin. But as far as WordPress is concerned, it's a subset. Right? Has to run on WordPress. So I'm curious what your Jetsons world of WooCommerce looks like in five years. Sandi: I don't know that you actually want to know that. Here's where I think is going to go on. First of all, right now, because WooCommerce is free and it's been out there, tt has 100,000 installs and 500,000 people actually working with it. It's a big dog right now. But when people say, "Well, I want to use Woo because it's free." And I said, "Yes. Woo is free the way a puppy is free. You're going to have to take it home and you're going to have to nurture it. So let's not get crazy on the free part." In my world, what I see is that, and I'm going to circle back because you're talking about WordPress itself right now. We are having to change how we do the meetups. Because if you think about the way it was in 2007 and 2008, there will be what? Be 10 guys at a coffee house, we'd all have our laptops open. And we'd have the Codex up, and we would try to figure out what to do. So as a community, we were learning this and we were contributing to the Codex. There was a sense we were building something. Okay? Now, WordPress is a mature product. There's a lot of resources out there. People aren't coming to a meetup anymore, just to learn WordPress. You've got all kinds of resources. You've got one of the best, WPBeginner. I mean, that is an absolute resource for everybody. What we have done with WordPress is we've given them the list for self service, how you learn this. What we're doing now is we're focusing more on the business of WordPress, how you use WordPress. How you actually use it in your life to make money. For me, in my ideal five years, now that we have finally gotten into WooCommerce and the plugin ecosystem, is to be on the same page. Because part of the problem with Woo, is when Woo updates, you've got the ecosystem which may or may not be online with that. So you get this thing saying, "Upgrade." And some of those people in the ecosystem won't work with this. In my perfect world, five years from now, WooCommerce will have a better conversation and integration with their plugin ecosystem so that when they upgrade the plugin, the ecosystem is ready. And when things come down the pike it is less painful. And in my other ecosystem around this is the technology. It's interesting, but it's only a tool. So my ecosystem is where we teach people how to take the tool and make money. How do I take WooCommerce and build a membership? How do I take WooCommerce and connect it to a learning management system and teach classes? How do I take it and build a business with it? So in my world, we're focusing more on the how to use it for what it was made for. Not to how to manage the technology. Now, in five years, Woo will probably be on a platform, if it's very much like any other SaaS. I'm sure there's going to be a platform version where you'll have the Woo in a box where people who don't care about technology and could just use Woo. I'm sure we'll still have the people who want to use Woo for awhile. But bottom line, where the community is going, is "How can you use this to make your life better?" Period. The technology should become inconsequential. Nobody thinks about what's going on in the computer. They just push it and it works. I think that's where we're going. Always Meet the Beginners Needs at Meetups Bob: I want to bring up the organizer side of things. This is something that I've experienced over the last 10 years. And how you're approaching it is the different levels of audience we have at these meetups. You have your beginners and people who are a bit beyond beginners. I've had people come to my WooCommerce meetup who I don't even consider beginners because they haven't touched WooCommerce or are coming to the meetup just to discover it. Then we have shop owners, we have site builders. And oddly enough, back in the days when I was involved with the WordPress Seattle meetup, they came up with dev designers, which were developer designers. We worked with how we would manage to provide content and interaction and make it good for everyone. Which was the challenge because sometimes we want to satisfy everybody and meet everybody's needs. And that's an impossibility because what we obviously are talking with a beginner, may not be that interesting to an advanced developer. How are you approaching this particular part of it as you build up these meetups? Sandi: Well, the Austin's answer when we were starting is we had a beginners meetup, an intermediate meetup and advance Dev meetup and then the WooCommerce meetup. So we broke it out. We found that our intermediate meetup was just not drawing people, and our dev meetup was... and Mendel will know what I'm talking about. It was better just to meet them at the bar and talk dev. Bob: I totally get it. Sandi: This is something I feel very strongly about. And I've told this to every organizer I've met. It is critical that you always have a beginner's meetup, for WordPress in particular. And what we do is we have a Saturday where we all do stuff just for beginners. We'll just have a special thing. We'll announce it ahead of time and we do a Saturday, "This is your beginner stuff." Here's why I'm passionate about beginners. If you don't fill the pipeline, do not complain if you don't have developers. People will say, "Well, we need more diversity at the conference." Or before you can speak at a conference you have to learn. And the only way we can do that is we have to be aggressive at our beginners level. We have to reach out to the community at our beginners level. And we need to train beginners and those beginners then will start loving WordPress and get more interested in, "How can I use this with eCommerce? How can I do that?" And then you build your pipeline of really good developers. If you teach a beginner in 2010, and you see him present at an Advanced Developers Meetup in 2015, it makes your heart happy. I mean, to see beginners that have gotten that good. So I feel passionate about what we're doing is we must. Mendel knows when we do a camp, I always hold a children's camp. And we were developing a children's WooCommerce camp with Liquid Web. They were helping me and they were going to give me the space, and we were going to do this in San Antonio. But then COVID hit and we had to cancel it. But I think it's critical that we teach youngsters. I think it's critical that we teach beginners. Thanks to our sponsor:This episode is brought to you by Mode Effect, an eCommerce agency that specializes in WooCommerce. Cody and the team at Mode Effect not only provide design and development of WooCommerce sites, but they are your partner to help you with site optimization and speed. We all know the importance of a fast loading shop. Whether it’s your customers who will likely leave a slow loading site or your customer services reps spending too much time on admin pages loading slow. At Mode Effect, they help eCommerce stores get where they need to be by optimizing for speed and increased profits. So if you tired of losing money and time, I would recommend you visit ModeEffect.com and have the professionals there get you the high profits and increased speed that you and your WooCommerce site deserve. That’s Mode Effect.com. Now let’s head on back to the show. Mendel: It's true though. There's so many people making their own way. And I've seen it. I've been using WordPress a long time, and WooCommerce a long time but been actively involved in the past six years. Even in that short amount of time I've seen people that were just getting into it, then support themselves and just be awesome after being a complete beginner and going to their first WordCamp or going to their first meetup. So, I mean, beginners are the lifeblood, right? If we don't bring them in, then the platform won't survive. Sandi: And we go hunting for our beginners. We'll actually go and make pitches. If there's a meetup that has people that are mostly what I call lifestyle coaches and things like that, they could use a little website. I will tell them, "Hey, you can build a WordPress site in this amount of time and we're going to hold this beginners class. We invite you to come, it's free." So it's that idea of going out of the bubble. One of the organizers I talked to on the West Coast said, "How do you get shop owners to your meetup?" And I said, "Well, what are you offering as far as classes?" He told me his class list and I said, "Well, if you are only offering highly technical developer kind of stuff, you're not going to get shop owners, because you're not speaking to them. And you need to advertise." Most of the classes that we give here in Austin now really center mostly around solving a business problem. We talk about the business problem and then we give you the plugin or the technology to deal with it. So questions to ask before you to start selling or what you need to know to get your shop ready for business. It has nothing to do with technology. We need to understand, "What's your business model? How are you working?" We gave classes on how to do dropship and how to use AliExpress. We talked about how to sell on Amazon. Our classes were more business focused, and those are some of the classes that I'm going to take and restructure. And we're going to throw them up on Woo, in addition to the technical classes. Because the technology's cool, but unless you're using it to make money, why are you doing it? The Mix of In-Person and Virtual Meetups in the Future Mendel: So let's talk about classes and in-person classes for a second. I can't count the amount of messages I've seen on Facebook and Twitter and news articles and things like that about COVID-19 and people either not going back to school or keeping their kids out of the classroom. How have things changed? And where are we going with virtual meetups? What are some gotchas there? Sandi: I look at COVID having an unlooked for blessing. In that, I think the virtual meetups are really helping us expand our audience. We went to virtual meetups right away. I went and I got a Zoom account for us. We always cross announce. So we announce our meetups in several places. I had a developer who pulled into the last class, he was from Egypt. I now have four or five people from the West Coast who are showing up every month. This is our third month with a virtual WooCommerce meetup. And, we're finding that people are really enjoying it. Now gotchas. There's times when you just want to stand in front of a whiteboard and draw out a schema. There's times when being in person is better. Here's what I think and I want to give great kudos to WooCommerce for. They have agreed to get a WooCommerce Zoom accounts for the WooCommerce organizers, to help facilitate the meetups. Because we don't know when people are coming back. I think how we do things is probably going to change drastically. Yes, we will get back together. We are social people. We're not going to stay in our houses forever. But I do think that we will probably, at least Austin will, keep our Zoom account even when we go into personal meetings again. Because we have our venue is downtown Austin. Parking is a pain, it's expensive and then people have to have 100% intention to come to the WooCommerce meetup. There's lots of people that now that we're online coming from Liberty Hill and the suburbs.. So I'm thinking it's actually a good thing that we were forced to think differently. I really do. At the end of the day, I think it's going to be better for the community. We're going to learn how to be more precise with our speech and how we train. Zoom is great. I mean, we can get our slides up, we can do screen shares. One of these days, I'll figure out a whiteboard. But I think we're doing okay. Everybody's going to be glad to get together because the Austin WordPress community actually likes each other. We enjoy each other, we enjoy seeing each other. We've been together as a community a long time. But aside from the social aspect of it, I think we're able to train just effectively on using Zoom. Bob: Yeah. And that as an organizer, I totally agree because I've already thought about that for down the road. This is going to be a mix of in person and online for several different reasons. And you went over a lot of them. I'm hearing from the attendees, as we're doing the meetup and we've had some discussions. A lot of them are saying, "I could never come to this meetup. Because I live here or it takes me this long. I'm an hour away. I got to deal with traffic. I got to get somebody to watch the kids." It is opening it up to a lot of people that were unable to do it. And I'm not sure how Austin is. But I know that Seattle is very sectored. People don't feel like traveling much. If you're in a certain part of South Seattle, North Seattle, East Side, Downtown, ou might as well be asking them to get on the plane and fly to Europe because to get to the different areas is such an endeavor for them. They're excited because there is that option. I think having the options down the road for both in-person and online, won't take away from either one of them. We will just be able to fill the needs for more people. Sandi: Well, I think too, in what I refer to as Metroplex cities like Houston, is massive. And there's people that are in the central part of Houston. And there's the same problem, getting there is hard. Same with the Phoenix area. So I think that we're going to see it, and I'm thrilled that WooCommerce is making the outreach to make this available to us so we can continue. I'm very happy about that. Bob: Well, I know we could talk on and on about this for a long time. In fact, I'm sure I'll be having both you and Robert back at some point because as this develops it'll be interesting to see how things go. Especially when, down the road, we are moving to a mix of in-person and online. Let's move into announcements. I know you have a couple of announcements, Sandi. Wanted: New WooCommerce Meetup Organizers Sandi: Yeah. As the organizer mentor for both Canada and the United States. I'm wanting to reach my goal which is to contact with every single WooCommerce meetup organizer, in both the States and Canada. By the end of September. I also want to reach out if you are a WordPress organizer in cities that don't have a WooCommerce meetup. I would very much like it if I could talk to you about what it would take to get you to do one WooCommerce meetup each quarter. Because like I said, we're building tools for you to make that happen. And so I really am hoping that this podcast will have others thinking about doing the move, if they haven't been an organizer and they've been thinking about it. Or they were an organizer and they went, "This is too much work." I would love it if you would contact me." I have a very simple email address. It's Sandi@lonestarwp.com. Send me your contact information and I will get back to you and figure out how we can work together to make your WooCommerce meetups better. Or if you'd like to start one, I would love it. I was very thrilled when Bob asked me to be on because I'm hoping this will help me reach out to people that have been thinking about being an organizer or have been and sort of gave it up. So that's my number one. A Free Resource of Audit and Security Plugins for WooCommerce My announcement number two is about my business, LoneStar WP. Because we're doing the meetups, people come to us with their problems. So sometimes we sit there and figure out, "How do I solve this problem? We did a set of audit and security plugins, that we use internally. And what we've done is we're just going to release them into the wild. We've taken the whole collection, just posted them up on our website, and they're there for free. So if you would like to go on to LoneStar you will find them on our resources. If you are needing an audit or security plugins that might help you, we would be happy if you'd use them. And as you use them, if you want to get back to me with improvements, I'd appreciate that. Because we always release things into the wild and let people kick it around a while and then figure out what we need to do with it. So that's my two announcements. Mendel Wants to Help Speed Up Your WooCommerce Store Bob: Cool. You got anything exciting going on Mendel? Mendel: Oh, so many exciting things. But hey, listen, I just have one today. And that is, your WooCommerce website might be slow. And if it is, I'm offering free sessions to talk about how to optimize your WooCommerce site. If it's slow, that's it. It's free. @ifyouwillit on Twitter and my email address is mendel@kurland.me. It's just out of goodness of my heart and the fact that I get paid to help people out from Nexus and LiquidWeb. So, let me know. Hit me up. And it's not like a ploy or a plot or anything like that. I'm just trying to help out. Seattle WooCommerce Meetup Bob: Cool. All right. Well, I'll make a announcement. The day this show goes out, Thursday the 25th, 2 PM PDT, we'll be doing our Seattle WooCommerce meetup online. We're focusing, as Sandy said, on beginners and users. And a lot of the people that are coming to my meetup are very new to WooCommerce. And they're just learning about it. So I will be talking about product types. Going over those as far as what you can sell with WooCommerce. Talking about extending them and then just open it up for Q&A afterwards, so it should be a fun meetup. You can find that on the meetup site. I'm going to go ahead and let the esteemed Mendel Kurland kind of close up this show then. Mendel: Bob, I can't wait to come to crash your Seattle meetup. I didn't realize you're going to be presenting. That's awesome. Thank you so much to Sandi for being here. I want to talk really quickly about some of our sponsors, and then I'll give Sandi an opportunity to share where you can find her on the web. So thank you very much to Recapture.io. They are an abandoned cart and email marketing solution. Recapture.io, go visit them. Also WooCommerce.com. You know them. You love them. It's WooCommerce at its finest, the beautiful WooCommerce plugin. And finally, Mode Effect and eCommerce agency specializing in WooCommerce. They help you optimize your speed and increase profits on your shop. So check out Mode Effect. I want to give you a second Sandi to let us know where people can find you. Maybe they can talk to you get more involved with the work that you're doing. I know you've mentioned it a couple times, but just leave it here. Sandi: So anyone who wants help starting a meetup or needs help invigorating their meetup, please call me or I guess email me. It's Sandi@lonestarwp.com. And I'm really anxious to get our WooCommerce community reinvigorated, and I'm really thrilled again with what WooCommerce is doing on. I'm thinking, as we look at that site, you're going to start seeing changes and it's going to be easier and easier to find what you need. And I'm happy. Mendel: Awesome. And as always, everybody remember to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcatcher. Sign up for the Woo news post or podcast. And, of course, become a friend of Do the Woo. Do it because it's awesome. And we like to support Bob and all the great content and guests that he has on. Sandi, thank you so much for being here. Bob, thank you for letting me be a part of it. Until next time, everybody.
Membership sites have been around for a while but have grown even more popular over the years. Curtis has been working on them for more than 10 years and spends his time with larger, customized sites, primarily using WooCommerce. A Chat with Curtis McHale from SFNdesign In episode 59, Brad Williams and I chat with Curtis about: His evolution in working with membership sites using WordPressWhen Curtis started using WooCommerce for his projectsHow teams play into his membership site projects What value clients are gaining by going virtual with membershipsLimitations with membership sites built with WordPress and/or WooCommerceThe EULA plugin, born out of clients needWhat membership site trends he has seen of recent Why he built his only plugin, Easy Restricted Content for WooCommerceWhat Curtis thinks of Gutenberg and whether his clients are using it Thanks to our sponsors We start with hearing how Curtis migrated into the WooCommerce arena and how that has played into his decade or more of creating custom membership sites for clients. Currently one of his two projects involve teams and we had to dive into that part deeper to get a better understanding of how teams play into a membership site, or how one utilizes teams. Brad then asks about the market and how people are pivoting into membership sites due to the current circumstances. And he hear how Curtis feels those clients are finding value in moving to the online space in businesses that are traditionally brick and mortar. We ask Curtis if he has found limitations with WordPress and/or WooCommerce when doing membership sites, and the answer, which is not the first time we have heard it, is around massive data. We also chat about two plugins. The first being an end-user license agreement plugin that he has used for clients, and the other, Easy Restricted Content for WooCommerce. The latter he sells and we learn how it came to be and if Curtis is planning on building and selling more plugins. We touch on what he has seen in the most recent trends around membership sites and cannot leave without asking him his thoughts on Gutenberg and if his clients are using it. Where to Find Curtis on the Web On Twitter @curtismchaleSFNdesign The Conversation Yes, this the transcript. But not in the traditional sense, transcribed word for word. We do not speak as we write. Often the flow of transcribed content is hard to follow. So I have taken it a few steps further by seriously editing, at times, the conversation and even using my editorial freedom to clarify some points. So enjoy. Brad: Welcome back to another episode of Do the Woo. Number 59, we're back Bob, five nine. Bob: Five nine, we're almost at 60. Brad: That is after 59. That's exciting. We've got a great episode today, which we'll get into in just a minute, but first I want to thank our episode sponsors. First and foremost, WooCommerce is our community sponsor. Maybe you've heard of it, maybe you haven't. If you haven't, it'd be interesting that you're listening to this podcast because that's all we talk about is WooCommerce. So thank you for that community sponsorship. Also Recapture.io, an abandoned cart and email marketing solutions. Increase those conversions because people were walking away from their shopping cart with goods in there. It's definitely something every commerce store should have. And WPActivityLog.com, a log of all the changes that happen on your site. Someone changes the content on a product, a page, who did it? It's always nice to have a log so you can kind of track when things change, what happened, and get that fixed up if need be. So definitely check that out. WPActivityLog.com. So thanks for our sponsors. So let's get right into it, Bob. We have a very special guest this week. I'm excited to dig into some WooCommerce and membership discussions. Curtis McHale. Welcome to the show, Curtis, Curtis: Thank you very much. Brad: Glad to have you here. Why don't you tell everyone who you are, what you do, how you Do the Woo. Curtis: So I am Curtis McHale. I live outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, and I've been doing membership sites for 10, 12 years now, long before there was any tools to help me do it. I was building them. Now we have better tools. It was a fun challenge. Although, I distinctly remember since I have a counseling background and taught myself programming, crying at my screen at the end of the day, because I didn't even know the right questions to ask yet. But I don't know what it was about now, but it was not fun sometimes. Brad: So, going back, you've been obviously, like you said, been doing membership sites for a long time. I'm curious how you got into WordPress. Was it just the natural evolution of a system to build websites? Was it the attraction to some membership products coming out? What did that evolution look like, for you? Curtis: I don't even remember. I remember being in counseling class, psychology classes and being bored and teaching myself HTML. And I found, I guess, the Boagworld podcast and maybe they mentioned it. So right away, I was just coming in around the transition away from tables, and I've barely ever written tables in my life. So that's not a bad thing. Brad: No, it's not. Yeah. that goes back way back, because that podcast, I used to listen to that as well. And that was actually even at the time, when I was doing the first podcast I ever did. I think you did talk about WordPress on the show. But moving on, you've been working with WordPress. Woo obviously has a lot of membership capabilities. Is Woo the first membership component used within WordPress, or did you do some things before that? Were you doing custom setups? Curtis: I built and still actually build a lot of custom setups. So the first one I really remember being like a big thing, it was for a corporate trainer at Vancouver, and he would divide up the members in the corporate teams into sub teams, and they could vote on good behavior, changing their corporate culture, and they could vote on each other and award points. And the team would accumulate points over the month, and he would destroy the teams and realign them. There was chat into a team, and file uploads and a bunch of stuff. That was like the first big one I remember building. I've just always been the kind of sure I can do that. That's how I learned to drive standard in downtown Toronto one time. Sure, I can drive standard, boss. Drove a big truck with a machine behind it through Toronto. Brad: When I bought my first manual car, I could not drive it off the lot. Had to have a friend come with me. But you figure it out, right. That's what we do. And that's probably why we're in this industry. We'd like to figure things out. Curtis: That's exactly it. Brad: Very cool. So you touched a little bit around teams. I'm curious, because I know you mentioned during pre-show that you're working on some membership site teams. Tell us a little bit about that, because I'm curious what that means, exactly. Curtis: So for teams, my one client sells access to a company, to their news, and the company signs up the employees as team members. And that's how we leverage teams. I've built systems like that multiple times before and it's difficult. I've done technically similar things for a sales company once where they could move their customers through a user flow in the backend of WooCommerce. So they could do all their sales from that end, from onboarding to support at the end. Things that are structurally similar on the backend. You're like, "Oh, that's just like the same thing." Even though someone's like, "That doesn't look the same at all." But it's really the same thing. I built multiple things like that, like groups and teams, multiple times, but even on top of teams now, there is a sort of facility inside teams to not renew a team, but I just exposed it on the front-end, and found all the filters to shut teams down, and I adjusted all the templates in WooCommerce. So you can't edit users anymore. You can't edit your address, because they occasionally have people that just want to say, "No, we don't want to deal with you anymore." Let your membership run out, you're not allowed to renew. Even down to you putting your email in to purchase, and we say, "No, no, no, no. That doesn't work, because we know you and you can't come back." And on the flip side of that when you put your email in, it says, "Hey, we know you. You should just log in and all your information we filled out." So doing some stuff like that at the same time. Brad: Yeah. So they line that up. That's pretty cool. Curtis: Yeah. Literally that one actually searches through every email address we have for the team. So if you are anywhere on the team, and the team says do not renew, you cannot renew. Brad: It's an interesting aspect of it. I know, obviously with everything going on in the pandemic, and most of us around the world are quarantined, or starting to come out of it. But the idea of online memberships has really taken off because so many businesses have had to quickly pivot specifically on things like gyms. I know a lot of gyms. Some businesses had to pivot online into kind of a membership based format of how can they still give value to their clients and customers and not lose them. How can they do it virtually? Well, the answer is a membership site, right? So I think it's a really topical discussion around how businesses can pivot, and how they can roll out these membership based sites and take what they were doing in a more physical space and move it to virtual with the type of stuff that you're building. Are you running into that now? Have you seen an increase in engagement? Are people reaching out that are trying to make that pivot? Curtis: I've had a few locally. But it's funny you say gyms, that's exactly how I've explained every time to someone who doesn't know about building this stuff. It's like your gym membership. People sign in and sign out. I've had a few, and I've helped a few local businesses just to get their inventory online. Whether that was like, I'll look at your Shopify site and just help you because I want you to stay around, right, and stuff like that. But I don't know. Generally it's a particular type of customer that finds me, and they've usually talked to two or three other people, and come to me with "Curtis, we need to import 1.5 million records." Okay. "And we need to redo 300,000 of them every month." Okay. So that's generally what I end up getting. I actually very rarely work for anyone in Canada, despite living here. So my taxes are always interesting when they're like, "Hey, where's all your GST?" And I was like, "You just owe me money." I didn't pay, I didn't charge anyone any of that, because I don't have to out of the US, or out of other countries. Their comprehensive activity logs that you can use with WooCommerce keeps you on top of what is going on with your shop managers and your team. You will be able to monitor and record when they make changes to products, order and coupons. And notably, it will help you with your store compliances. They make it easy to troubleshoot when there is something going on. In fact, you will be able to configure emails and instant SMS notifications to get alerted of critical changes. Want to go a step further? You will see who is logged in and what changes are being made in real-time. And if needed, you can mange, limit, block and even terminate any user sessions. This is perfect for membership or subscription sites as it can help you control limitations on single user access. There is a number of reports you can generate from the activity logs and you are able to use the search and filters for troubleshooting. In a nutshell, stay on top of it all. What is going on, where and when. No better way to manage your WooCommerce store. You can check them out at WPActivityLog.com and click on the activity log for WooCommerce. Now let’s head on back to the show. Brad: I'm curious what with working in WooCommerce, we know every platform is going to have pros and cons, right? This particular setup, something like WooCommerce, or WordPress in general, how customizable it is, how endlessly flexible it is, could be a good thing. It could be a bad thing. I'm curious, what type of areas or limitations you run into where you immediately identified as being an area that's going to be tough. Maybe a very costly area to work in, or maybe an area that just isn't a good fit for something like WooCommerce with memberships, or WordPress in general. Curtis: So my biggest pain point lately is I had to migrate my client's site with, I don't know, it's like 80,000 records, 48,000 images over the last number of years. And I'm like, this is going to take a long time. Even the fast ways to do it means it takes forever. Just for fun, what if I pull all this stuff into a system called Statamic, and I migrate it? Well, you just have to git pull the files, and it's done. So it still takes a while, because it's a big site, but it's like orders of magnitude faster. And that's what I hit regularly, because all of the sites I work on are fairly large scale. Lots of data records. Not necessarily lots of concurrent transactions or anything, but I usually am talking at least about 50,000 users on something, or 50,000 records, whether it's orders, or any type. So I'm always hitting those times when it takes forever. I remember hitting this a long time ago in WooCommerce. It took a query. I was like, "This doesn't work." And I went up to get a coffee and came back it worked on my computer only. Why? Because my PHP was set up to just run as long as it wanted. And it did work after 12 minutes, and it came down to searching, email addresses, and orders. That's why we couldn't do it. So the fastest way to do this client is to just not search for email addresses, and I'll submit a bug because that's really slow, and we removed the ability to search, to have fuzzy search, basically, for orders. So they just had to have some more information first because otherwise it just wouldn't work. It was either we have it or we don't. I had those regularly. Brad: Yeah. I mean, data at scale, we run into that many times, and not just WooCommerce specific, but even WordPress in general. We've worked on sites that have millions and millions of posts, tens of thousands of users, things like that. And at scale, when you start having to manipulate that data, or migrate it, or really do anything with it at scale, there's a lot of really performance considerations you need to take. I mean, we've had stores that we worked on the past that had tens of thousands of products that had to sync inventory across multiple stores nightly. So every single night, they had to run this massive job that basically recalculated all the inventory and made sure it was correct, across multiple stores from a centralized inventory management system. And that's no easy task. It's not a fast task. So I think it's something you always need to consider when they're working with. Curtis: Yeah. And I've ended up writing custom shell scripts for that, too, right. You upload your Excel file, we agree on the data format, it'll be figured out by the time you're back in the morning. And I've done that multiple times. I get to work on lots of weird old systems, too. I have ported multiple homegrown 2006 PHP, whatever, weird sites into WooCommerce and ran multiple imports because data is just everywhere in the database they have. Curtis: So figuring out how to migrate it one step, and then the next step, I've done that, again, multiple times, which is a fun problem and sometimes frustrating, because it just takes a long time to sort through the data sometimes. You might spend a day modeling the data first, and then you get to start writing the import, and then you're like, "Okay, why is it breaking in one area? Oh, they have a weird character." Like an option symbol from a Mac is in their data somewhere, and that one symbol breaks it, and you're like, "Okay, well where is this?" In the midst of whatever 60,000 products, or something. You've got to find that one product that happens to break it. Brad: If there's one thing I know about Bob, is he loves working with big data, and moving big data. Right, Bob? Just like when you clean up your site. Bob: Yeah. My big data is an old file cabinet, and they put it on a handcart and, move it around. That's about how much I move big data around. Curtis: See, that's why I bought a toolbox with file cabinets big enough, like box drawers for a file cabinet. Just have a big Husky toolbox for my files now. It's all on wheels. Bob: Yeah, that's the easiest way to move anything around for me. One of the questions I had was that you said you had just finished an end user license agreement plugin for one of your teams, and I thought it would interesting to dive into that a little bit. Could tell us about it, and then also how often you end up doing these custom plugins for your clients? Is that the case, most of the time? Curtis: So that is like my entire job, building custom weird stuff. I built the end user license agreement plugin twice. Actually, I built it once. I can't remember if it was RCP, Restrict Content Pro, or for Easy Digital Downloads, but one of Pippin's plugins. I could look it up, and I used that same base again to build for WooCommerce. And again specifically for teams in both instances. So I think it was Restrict Content Pro, where at least in WooCommerce, when we issue a new end user license agreement, it updates on the post, and automatically puts the old one in draft. And we log on the post by user ID and email address who signed it. Each team will get a record. So if the team has signed it, because a team manager did, then they'll get a record there that says the team assigned it, and then users can go in. And if a user is on a team that hasn't signed it, it gives them some UI feedback that says, basically, go talk to Bob, it's his fault, and you need to go get him to sign it. And I think we even did an email form in there so they can just click a button and email the person. I think that's what we did for that one. So that's multiple times I've built that. So if you don't have your user license signed, then it blocks you, and just takes you to the hey, sign that user license page, and no one on your team can go anywhere. Brad: It's one of those necessarily annoying things that just has to exist, but everybody hates it. The thing that nobody reads, but they accept. Curtis: Yeah. And the first one I built was for a chiropractic training site. Basically it said, you're learning stuff online so make sure you have more practice. It's not our fault if you break somebody. Brad: Yeah. I mean, if you have any type of a service, we're all familiar with it on our phones, and our computers. When you update, you always have to accept the new licensing agreement and terms. We're like, great. Let me on my phone. I'll take it. But that's pretty cool. What are some other types of sites you've building out with a focus on membership? And what kind of trends in your field. Having done this for so long, what type of industries or even people that have been drawn into memberships? What are you seeing out there? Curtis: I think that people are taking it a little more seriously. I've worked for mainly one client for almost a year, because I only work and do development about 50% of my time, and the rest of my time I write and do other stuff, and they like working with me. That's not true. I work with one other client who runs the biggest motorcycle shop in Malaysia. Big enough that occasionally it's in YouTube videos, we'd be like, Oh, you worked for that site. I'm totally following you now, because they know it. I don't know. I can't read half their content, because it's a language I don't speak. I think people are taking it more seriously. Probably two years ago now, I built a custom eCommerce bookings and accommodations set up for an SAT training company. And they just were coming into it, taking it very seriously from the beginning, and their budget was definitely the smaller end compared to the one client I'm working with now. But they just took it professionally and seriously. When we talked about feature A, we looked at it from a business value perspective, and not, I want new shiny things. There was two or three of their ideas, and I'm like, "I don't think that's a good one." And I explained why. And they said, "Oh, okay, you're right. That is a bad idea." So we didn't do it. And that's been nice, because that's just generally how I think about things. Will I get X number of dollars of value out of whatever I purchase? And if the answer's yes, I'll buy it. Sometimes to my wife's chagrin, because I'm like, "But I got the value. How fun." Brad: Yeah, if you could talk to my wife about that too, that'd would be great. "I have fun. It's worth it. The value is there." Curtis: We're both runners and outdoor people, too. So I think sometimes our biggest fight is you got a new sleeping bag, when do I get one? Or, new running shoes. You have three pairs of running shoes, but mine were on sale. Bob: One of the things I wanted to ask you about was on your site, you have the one plugin that you sell Easy Restricted Content for WooCommerce. Brad and I have talked with a lot of people that sell plugins, and also do service work, and often the plugin came out of service work. It was something that was born with a need. Wondering if that's the case for this plugin. , So first touch on this particular plugin, how it came to be, and then are there plans for future plugins, or do you prefer the customization work with clients, and doing it that way? Curtis: So that plugin totally came from building something, a very simple membership site, multiple times for people. Actually, I built it on my site and was probably the very first iteration, and basically if you bought product A, you could see content B. That's it. There was no special account stuff. It was like, yes, you have access. You bought the book, so you get access to the forum with the book, or something like that. You get access to the LearnDash course that goes with it. And I used that for a couple clients, and it just got refined. Eventually I just bundled it into a plugin. I changed nothing on it between two clients. And it supports forums. It supports LearnDash, mainly because I was using LearnDash, to be honest. I wondered if I can make it use LearnDash, and after not touching the plugin for six months, I got it working on LearnDash in like 35 minutes. I was like, well, I guess I did a good job. It was fairly easy to run a few filters on it. Do I want to be in the plugin space? I hate having appointments. I don't want people to monopolize my time at all. So I'm probably terrible at support. So the answer is probably no. I don't ultimately want to be in the plugin space. I've had people approach me. I mean, WooCommerce has asked me like, "Oh, would you put your plugin on our site?" And I said, "Nah." They're like, "Oh, you'll sell more." I was like, "Yeah, no." Just not going to. It drives some business to me. People find it and they say, "Oh, this is great. It's super simple. Like I don't have to configure all these other 9,000 options. I just say whatever content, and there's a dropdown to say you have to have own this product to have it, and that's it." And yeah, I have thought about releasing the end user license agreement plugin because I've got it in two versions. It's very little change between one and the other. I just changed some of the filters for WooCommerce to move it over to the other one. So I think if I had to build it a third time, I'd be able to get a fairly well abstracted and unit tested plugin that would let me sell it. And again, unit tested, so when I do something, I don't break stuff, hopefully. Brad: Something to be said for plugins that do one thing well, especially as the market's evolved so much in the past five, six, eight years. There's so many plugins out there that are just, the core of what they do is still there, but then they do all these other things that you really don't care about. And it just makes you nervous come update time, and I'm sure we can name a few of those, but I think there will always be a market for stuff like that, regardless of who dominates that particular need. And I think there will always be a market for those simple solutions that just work well, and just continue to work. Curtis: Yeah. And it's not like a big income driver for me at all, really. I sell it. Oh, I don't know. I probably sell one or two a month. That's it. There's some renewals. I don't do anything to make sure I drive home renewals, or anything. People are like, "I didn't renew two years ago." And I was like, well, there's really not an update that it pertains to you. So you probably shouldn't bother. And like, "Really?" It's like, "Yeah." But they're like, "Oh, I stopped using the plugin three years ago, but I see I paid for it a bunch." "I'll just refund the last few years." "Really?" "Yeah." Like I'd be annoyed. It's nice to be able to do that, and to have people take it so nonchalantly in general. I'm a pretty chill person. I broke my site on Friday,. It's pizza night, and I just went for pizza, went and had a big run. I fixed it Sunday, but the site was down for days. Whatever. Not a big deal. Thanks to our sponsor: This episode is brought to you by Recapture Abandoned Cart Recovery and email marketing for WooCommerce. Anyone who runs a Woo shop knows how frustrating abandoned carts are. 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Just go to Recapture.io/dothewoo-special And now, back to our conversation. Brad: I'm curious, how is Gutenberg and the block editor? Are you integrating that? Or you like it, you hate it. What are your thoughts? Curtis: I have not had a single client want to use it in any fashion. Now, as I was running on the weekend, I was listening to the episode with Matt Mullenweg, and he was talking about it being the future, and I remember sitting there thinking not one client, whether it's an old client who has a legacy site, or a new client, who's coming to me and we talk about it and they're like, no, I don't want that at all. Not one client at all. So I have actually never built a block. I do a bad job of learning something when I don't have to learn it to do something. I just kind of peruse things. Its like I just wasted like an hour not really learning anything when I could have been doing something else. So I will dig into it, and learn it when I need to. And so far, no clients. I've even recommended it to clients where we had some short codes, and they were going to really do a big revamp. I'm like, "You know what? We just should just build this into blocks." And they're like, "Nope, we don't want that." It's like, "Really? Did you look at it?" They're like, "We've looked at it. We never want those." Okay, when it came out, I was not stoked about it. Now, I would recommend it. I think it's probably the future. If you want to continue building sites, you need to learn it, and I will learn it at some point, but not yet. And I don't do a lot of, I always call it front-end to work. I don't do a lot of that. I do a lot of deeper server side stuff. So blocks feel a little bit out of my comfort zone as well, to be true. I do very little JavaScript work in general, mostly PHP and server side scripting of things. Bob: I'm curious about that. When you talk to the clients, and you you bring up blocks, are most of them already using WordPress? Do you think it's a transition they don't want to do? Or is it people that have never used WordPress, and here is A and here is B,, Which would you rather do? Curtis: Yeah. So I know for my one site, for the motorcycle site, we've been working together for, I don't even know 10 years, maybe? And he's just like, "No, I don't want to do this. I know this, I've trained all my staff on what we have. I just want to use..." Even actually this morning. I was like, "Hey, this would be a time to transition for blocks for this plugin." He's like, "Nope." Okay. Nope, just put the short code in. And so I wrote the short code into a couple of spots that he needed it, and let him set the ID that the shortcode needs for each page. So another big client that I've had for a while, they had just come in, and they had just started a WordPress, and I was like, "Hey, you should probably look at blocks. I think this will be easier long term." And they looked at it, and they were like, "No, that's not for us." And I'm not sure if any of their team had used it before. The one person I deal with is technically savvy enough that as we moved into Git, I gave her a basic Git branching and merging so she could update plugins on WPEngine, and within a week, after few fixes by me, she had it. She can do this. They're technically savvy enough to do these things, but they just didn't want it. So I don't know. I run my SFN design site on WordPress, but I don't run my personal site at Curtis McHale on WordPress anymore, because I just, I didn't want to. That's it. Brad: Yeah. I mean, I think I look at Gutenberg, at least today, as a tool, It's like how I look at different technologies. I don't feel, in my opinion, it needs to be forced on a project where a client that doesn't need it or want it. I think it's an option that makes sense for a lot of people out there., especially if they're looking to do really beautiful, long-form articles, and things like marketing sites. It can be really great fo things like that. But I don't look at it as a tool that needs to be used by everybody, because I think it can be intimidating. Honestly, most people are just very apprehensive to change. They're used to something working and looking a certain way, and it could be WordPress. It could be Twitter. Anytime Twitter changes, or Facebook changes, or whatever changes. WordPress has Gutenberg UI comes out, everybody complains. Everybody. You know what I mean? And then about a year or two later, it's just what it is. Everybody's just used to it. So there's that initial gut reaction of I don't want to do that. It's different. But I also don't believe it should be forced on people, either, because I do think there are plenty of cases where it's overkill and doesn't make sense, and it's too much. Just keep it easy. I don't take the all-in approach like some people do. Bob: Alrighty. Well, I don't know if we have any announcements, anything going on, anybody doing anything. I'm not really, I don't have any exciting plans either personally or professionally in the next week, besides just my daily stuff. Anything going on with you, Curtis? Curtis: Like you, we just celebrated our anniversary. Although our kids are little enough that we could go nowhere, and do nothing. So we just hung out with the kids because we can't have a babysitter right now. I went for a run. My wife went for a run. I took my kid biking. We had sushi. That was our 17th anniversary. Bob: Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Congrats on the nice, mellow anniversary. Curtis: Yeah, and I think we just told the kids, "Go to sleep." And made the joke about Samuel L. Jackson's Go the F to Sleep book multiple times. Brad: That's a great book. Curtis: It is. It is. Bob: Brad, anything going on? Brad: Yeah. I'll give you a little self plug. My new book's out. Maybe you heard of it, Bob, Professional WordPress Plugin Development, Second Edition. Nine years after the first, never thought I'd see the light of day, and I'm looking at a copy of it right now. So pretty excited to have that out. Curtis: Well, like you said online, you need to raise your monitor, right? Brad: I know. That is the most expensive monitor stand I own are the five books I've written sitting under it. It was a good one. I liked that book specifically because there was nothing like it back then nine years ago. And I've had so many people come up and tell me that it made an impact on their WordPress development, their career, their business, or even in their own sites. Curtis: I'd pull it off my shelf and just be like, what about users again? And just kind of flip through. Oh yeah. Okay. Here's the big things I need to remember, and then stick it back. Brad: I still do it, because I forget. I don't code as much these days, so I like the ebook, and you can search real quick and say, how do I add a menu? What's that function again? What's the parameters? Curtis: I promise you that experienced developers only know how to Google faster than you do. Brad: That's right. Curtis: That's all they know how to do. And how to look at the answer and be like, yes, no, maybe Brad: That's all we do. We're just better looking things up. But check it out. It's on Amazon. It's out now. Give it a read, and let us know your thoughts, feedback, love to hear from it. But pretty excited. I got my first copy this week. Bob: All right. Excellent. Well, where can people find you on the web, Curtis? Where's the best place for them to connect with you? Curtis: I am CurtisMcHale everywhere, on Twitter, my personal site. If you need membership work, it's at SFNdesign.ca, and if anyone can actually figure out what SFN means, I will even figure out a discount for your membership work. I've mentioned it maybe twice in the last 10 years in different podcasts. Brad: I assume San Francisco but then I realize where you're at. I'm like, "That doesn't really make any sense." Curtis: No. I'll tell you all off air after, if you really want to know. Bob: Yeah. Okay, We'll keep the secret. Alrighty. Appreciate you taking time. It's great hearing about what you're doing, and yeah, keep those membership sites going for sure. Curtis: Thanks for having me. Bob: And everyone, make sure you check out our sponsors. A quick shout out again. WooCommerce.com, Recapture.io, and WPActivityLog.com. All three of them can help you with your Woo store. You can always sign up for the podcast on your favorite app. Check out the Woo news I put out each week, either through a post or a podcast, and become a friend of Do the Woo, and that'll do it for this week. Until next week, Do the Woo.
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Creator Details

Birthdate
May 25th, 1957
Episode Count
388
Podcast Count
14
Total Airtime
6 days, 21 hours