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Hi, I'm Troy Dean from WP Elevation, ask me anything.

May. 11, 2016

Hi Gang, I'm super excited to be here for the next 8 hours answering nay questions you have about running a WordPress consulting business, running a successful membership community website or selling courses online.

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19 votes   Flag
Amber Hinds

Hey Troy! What's the number on thing you wish you knew about making and selling online courses before you started WP Elevation?

Also what plugins do you find useful in combination with LearnDash and BuddyBoss?

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Troy Dean

Hey Amber, great question.

The number one thing I wish I knew three years ago is that community trumps content. It doesn't matter how great the content is in your online course, if there is no sense of community students feel isolated and are more likely to drop off without completing the course.

Since we build the community aspect, we are averaging 65% completion rates and a massive increase in word-of-mouth referrals.

In terms of plug-ins we find the BuddyBoss Wall (www.buddyboss.com/product/buddyboss-wall/) and the Social Learner for LearnDash solution have been epic (www.buddyboss.com/product/social-learner-learndash/)

I hope that helps.

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Amber Hinds

Thanks, Troy.

As far as getting guest content like you've done with WP Elevation, do you have any recommendations for that?

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Daniel Doherty

Hey Troy,

What's yor take on all the new top level domains. eg: .courses, .school etc

With many specific names for courses taken, is getting a generic name.courses a good idea?

or is it better to come up with one's own unique domain name like you did with wpelevation.com and be seen as an international brand vs having the .com.au that may confuse an international audience in that the course or brand is predominantly Australian?

Dan

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Troy Dean

Hey Dan,

I think for any marketing site the .com is a must have. It's just so ingrained in our behaviour and I think these new top-level domains are a bit of a gimmick for registrars to increase revenue.

Of course I could be wrong :)

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Daniel Doherty

Cool. Thanks Troy :)

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Robby McCullough

Good answer! While gimmicky, it goes both ways...

http://beaver.builders

:)

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Nathan George

Hey Troy,

I'm blogging, creating videos, posting on social media. Do you have any tips for generating more leads when you are starting out and word of mouth is too slow?

Thanks,
Nathan

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Troy Dean

Hey Nathan,

The number one best thing I have ever done to generate leads is to speak at conferences, meet ups or any other live event.

It forces you to fuel up on your knowledge to make sure you know what you are talking about and it positions you as an authority in your field.

It also forces you out of your comfort zone which is where growth happens.

I hope that helps.

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Nathan George

Ahhh the dreaded public speaking :) i also need to fuel up on my speaking skills then. Thanks Troy.

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Leif Quitevis

Hey Troy... I've enjoyed the interviews you've done for your podcast.

Who were the top 3 guests you have interviewed for your show, that have made the most impact on you personally thus far? And why?

And like you ask all your guests at the end of each show, who do you think should do the next ManageWP AMA?

Thanks!

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Troy Dean

Great question Leif,

It's really hard to pick the top three but if I had to it would be Andrew Warner from Mixergy (because he was my absolute hero and was so generous with his time – I had been listening to his podcast every week for over a year before I interviewed him so it kind of freaked me out), Cory Miller from iThemes (because I absolutely love how open and transparent he is about mindset and mental health) and the episode where I interviewed Seth Godin and Kristina Romero (frankly because it is so difficult to get Seth on a podcast and because the format was more a mini workshop and I know was extremely valuable for Kristina).

Counting only three girls out of 25 AMA's, I would have to say I think the next guest here should be Tracy Levesque from Yikes Inc (www.yikesinc.com/)

I had Tracy on my podcast and I learned a lot. She had a lot to offer and she is an instructor at the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It (www.girldevelopit.com/chapters/philadelphia).

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Leif Quitevis

Seth Godin was definitely a highlight, and good call with Tracy Levesque. I've heard her speak at WordCamp.

Great answers. Thanks!

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Amber Hinds

I also have heard Tracy speak (at Pressnomics) and really enjoyed her talk. It was one of my favorites.

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Róbey Lawrence

Hey hey.

When selecting guests for your podcast, what was your plan off attack?
Did you select them based on the topics you wanted to talk about, or were they heros of yours, or because they were well known people?
And how did you connect with them? A simple email, or did you use a Podcast Guest Template or something?

I'm planning a Video Podcast, or VodCast, or Podinar, or, you know what I mean... about WordPress in Australia, and I want to make a list of future guests.

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Troy Dean

Great question Robey (and it was cool to hang out at WordCamp on the weekend),

I selected my podcast guests based on who I wanted to learn from and who I thought could bring an audience to the podcast as well.

I reached out via email and followed up by LinkedIn or Twitter if I didn't hear back. The simple email template was personalised and started off by offering to promote my guest (or their book or software) to my audience. This usually gets attention.

Then I make it really easy for them to say yes.

Perhaps it's easier if I just share the email template we use...

================
Subject: We want to promote you!

Hi xxxx

I’m emailing on behalf of Troy Dean at WP Elevation because we’d like to promote you to our database of 25,000 WordPress consultants.

We are big fans of [Insert book or company name here] and are sure our audience will love hearing from you.

Troy would like to do this by interviewing you for our podcast which has previously featured Shane from Modern Tribe, Joost de Valk, Vlad from ManageWP, Derek Sivers from CD Baby, Justin Cutroni from Google Analytics and Rand Fishkin from MOZ.

You can see it in action here: www.wpelevation.com/2014/05/episode-34-thomas-griffin/

If you are keen I will send through some questions in advance. The interview should take about 45 minutes.

I’ve attached a link to Troy’s Schedule Once calendar where you can book in a time that suits you…

www.meetme.so/wpelevation-podcast
================

I hope that helps.

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Róbey Lawrence

Yeah, cool to hang out!

Awesome, yep that's totally helpful. Thanks a bunch!

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Robby McCullough

Hey Troy!

As I understand it, you guys recently shifted WPE from a community with a collection of tutorials to an ongoing course format. Is that accurate? How did that go for you? What were some of the challenges or unexpected elements of that change?

Thanks! :)

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Troy Dean

Hey Robby,

Thanks for stopping by. Yes, that is an accurate description indeed. WP Elevation became a little bit like a vending machine where you could login and choose whatever you wanted, however, it became a little overwhelming.

There was also no sense of urgency or community as if you are going through a course with your fellow classmates.

Since we change the format to a six-week, drip fed course the sense of community has exploded and our student completion rate is over 65%, which we know is far greater than the average 10% that most online courses achieve.

One of the biggest challenges was the sheer volume of conversation going on in our forums and Facebook group. This was pretty difficult to keep up with initially but we managed to get a handle on it. Grytics has played a big part in helping us manage the Facebook group (and it's built on top of WordPress) grytics.com

Overall, this has been the best decision we've made in our business.

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Gin McInneny

Hi Troy,

Just one question....

Who is your favorite employee and why?

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Troy Dean

He he he.

Well now that would be telling wouldn't it?

I love you all.

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Daniel Doherty

Hi Troy,

Say one has a blog post and it's about 2 years old. The old content is by no means anywhere near the new niche we're carving for ourselves.

Do we remove the old stuff or just let people notice the change and they can read about the change in the About us or Our Story section of the website?

Thanks,

Dan

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Troy Dean

I believe all content is good for attracting visitors to your website however if the nature of your business has changed you can always add an update to a blog post that may no longer reflect your views.

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Nemanja Aleksic

Hi Troy,

Thanks for accepting the AMA invitation!

1) A lot of WordPress developers are struggling with getting paid adequately. How should they determine the right price for their service?
2) WordPress maintenance service: do you think it's better to white label/hide the tools you use (e.g. ManageWP), or keep things transparent?
3) What's the biggest challenge you're facing when running a podcast?
4) Your biggest failure?
5) Did you ever have to fight off a giant animal in Australia, or is it all just Internet hype?

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Troy Dean

Great questions Nemanja, let me try and answer them one at a time.

1) The problem most of us have when we start out is that we charge an hourly rate or we undervalue our skills because WordPress is free open source software and we think that is what the client is paying for. If you ask the right questions of your client you will uncover why they need a website and either what goal they are trying to achieve or what problem the website will help them solve. Through this discussion, you should be able to determine the value the website will bring to their business. My preferred pricing model is value-based pricing per project. Remember, as WordPress developers and consultants we have a special skill set that our clients do not possess, and that is why they are paying us.

Of course, the next question is how do you find clients to pay the kind of fees you are demanding. There is no easy answer or shortcut to this question and the truth is it takes time to establish yourself as the go-to person, authority in your niche, or trusted expert. The best way to accelerate this process is to publish helpful content that is targeted toward your ideal client and speak at meet ups, conferences or other live events. Or interview other influences on your blog or podcast if life events are not your thing.

2) When I first started out I used a white label everything and as I have matured as a consultant and I have more belief in what I offer I have become less inclined to try and white label everything because I feel more secure in the value that I offer my clients. I think our tendency to white label everything when we start out is because we think if our clients know all the tools we use they can just do it themselves, when the reality is even if they knew how to do what we do they don't have time to do it and that is why they have hired us as a web consultant.

3) The biggest challenge when running a podcast is continuity. The first podcast I started failed because I did not have systems or a team in place to help me with the editing and after six episodes (including one with Vladimir) I decided to shut it down. The second time around I made sure my processes were in place and had a team to help me book guests and do the editing and we successfully published 105 episodes.

4) I spoke about this at WordCamp Sunshine Coast over the weekend and I'm happy to answer this question again here. I don't believe in failure. Failure by definition is the "nonperformance of something due, required or expected." So if you have an expectation and something does not work out as you expected to then we have been conditioned to consider this a failure. Then, of course, we are inundated with cliches such as "as long as you learn from your failures they are not failures they are mistakes." Turning a failure into a learning (or a negative into a positive) requires an enormous amount of mental and emotional energy and frankly, I am far too sensitive and fragile to repeat this process on a daily basis. So I have spent the last several years un-brainwashing myself and re-engineering my mindset so that now my only expectation is when I wake up every day and go to work on my business I am going to learn something. That way, everything that happens on a daily basis will meet my expectations and I'm in a constant state of curiosity and learning. Some may say that I am arguing semantics but I think the distinction is important because it keeps me in a constant positive frame of mind. Of course, I still get frustrated and scream into a pillow every now and then but 95% of the time I am in a positive, curious and optimistic state because I generally look forward to learning about the world, the human condition and myself.

5) It is all just Internet hype unless you live in the Bush of course where you will encounter large spiders and snakes. I do, however, enjoy eating Kangaroo.

I hope that answers your questions.

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Arttia Creative

Am I too late to post a question. In the UK, so timings are different here?

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Troy Dean

Fire away - I'll answer any questions.

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Arttia Creative

Hi Troy,
There are many strategies for getting more.. more visitors... more clients... all focus on quantity.
My question - I'm not looking for more clients/more work - I want fewer but very high quality clients/projects.
What is the best way to connect with larger organisations, marketing directors, top level influencers who need a really high performing website and the highest quality creatives?
Thanks in advance.

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Dan Frydman

Hi Troy

Following up on Nemanja's question where you talk about value-based pricing. Some questions on that:

1. How do you introduce a different pricing model to a prospective client? At what point in the process do you start to talk about it?

2. How do you introduce it to a legacy client who only knows your hour / day based pricing?

3. What do you base value based pricing on? Increased turnover, increased profit?

4. What percentages would you say are reasonable to start off with?

Lots of WP businesses can move towards more discovery to open up more about what the business needs, but then the traditional mindset is still locked in (brainwashed) to time based pricing. What are the first steps to reversing that brainwashing process?

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Troy Dean

Great question Dan.

1. I talk about pricing before I meet with a client on my website enquiry form. That way they know how I charge and there are no surprises.

2. The same way WooThemes changed their pricing model. Be transparent about needing to be sustainable and profitable - because running a profitable business means you can continue to serve your clients - and then be prepared to take some heat. You'll find out who values you and who doesn't.

3. Whatever is important to the client. I've priced projects before on helping a business owner get back overseas to visit his family, reduce staff hours on the phone answering FAQ's (no kidding) and of course, increased leads and sales.

4. I'm not sure I understand the percentage question. I don't charge a percentage of the value the client is going to receive. I charge what I need to be profitable and I explore the value with the client to make sure it is clear they are getting a return on their investment.

I once had a large enterprise client ask me what my hourly rate is and after repeatedly stating I didn't have an hourly rate, he admitted that he needed to put an hourly rate in his proposal to his boss to get approval. So I said "Okay, my hourly rate is $150. My developer's hourly rate is $120. My designer's is $90 and my project manager's is $75. So if you hire me and my team for an hour you'll be paying $435." He then asked, "well if I'm paying your designer and developer and project manager, why do I need to pay you as well?", and I answered "because you can't access them without me, that's the value I bring to the project. I've spent years finding good people and building good processes and streamlining our workflows and researching technology so you get a great result first time."

I hope that answers your questions.

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Magdalena Joniak

It's so good to have somebody to talk to with problems. I will definitely write to you soon!

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Anna Rodziejczak

Too bad it's finished already. Maybe you will do this again Troy?

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