Welcome to GoWP’s Digital Agency Owners Podcast!
For our inaugural episode, we welcome Senior Account Manager at GoWP, Michael Short. Michael has over 20 years of experience in the WordPress landscape as a business owner, plugin creator, and more. Listen to hear more about what has made him successful and challenged him.
Read the transcript
[00:00:00] Morayo: On today’s episode, we have Mr. Michael Short, who is the senior account manager for go WP and we’ll be chatting with him for a little bit. My name is Morayo. I am the digital content producer for GoWP and I’m joined by the wonderful…
[00:00:20] Joanne: Joanne Torres, I am marketing manager here at GoWP and if you don’t know about GoWP we create happiness for digital agencies and help them become more profitable.
[00:00:31] Joanne: Whether that is joining invaluable calls, like our weekly happiness hour. Or listening to this podcast. If you’re looking to grow your team with a developer, a copywriter, a designer, or a project manager, I’m going to stop doing that commercial, but you can reach us. So yeah, happy to be here, Morayo. It’s our first episode. Isn’t that exciting.
[00:00:56] Joanne: It’s
[00:00:56] Morayo: very exciting. And there’ll be some, maybe some slight [00:01:00] bumps and bruises along the way, but by the end of this 20 minutes, I hope listeners will walk away with more information that will help them scale their, their own businesses and have a little happiness along the way.
[00:01:09] Morayo: Listening to you, Michael Short.
[00:01:12] Michael: Yeah. You guys would have found a better subject on your first episode, but don’t mind being the Guinea pig.
[00:01:19] Morayo: You are a man that has a lot of knowledge and background in this industry. So I thought that you could tell us a little bit about your own experience prior to coming to GoWP your experience, being an agency
[00:01:31] Morayo: owner, yourself.
[00:01:33] Michael: All right. Well, I don’t know if I have enough time, but I’ll give it a go. So I started my agency in 1999. I started off just doing print collateral, like ads in magazines, brochures, catalogs, the traditional type marketing and advertising. Because back then in 99, it was a time where we had to actually sell people why they needed a website.
[00:01:53] Michael: They always would tell me, well, I already, you know, I don’t need a website and no one’s going to ever go to it, things like that. And so I’d have [00:02:00] to, explain to him, why it was important to have one at the time. Obviously now that things have changed quite significantly and websites are the pretty much the hub of all marketing or keep track of everything.
[00:02:10] Michael: So I did that for several years, trying everything under the sun in regards to marketing, from offering, obviously. But also social media management pay-per-click as that came into the pictures, SEO. Um, yeah, we pretty much did everything tried to be all things to all people try to deliver a service, which, but what I found through that process was something that I wish I knew.
[00:02:35] Michael: Um, back then when I was first started, you know, is that it’s better to focus on, in my opinion, on, you know, One niche and definitely on one niche, but as well as like even one area of expertise. And these are just a few, instead of like trying to do everything often, if you’re doing this by yourself, you’ll find that you have to stop what you’re doing.
[00:02:56] Michael: If you’re like building a website and someone needs some social media management that you got to [00:03:00] stop that switch gears, go to social media management, stop that, switch gears, go to PPC. And it’s just, you know, all of those different things. Yeah. And you also have to keep up with all the latest technologies and all that stuff that go along with it.
[00:03:11] Michael: And so it was like an ever-changing moving target for us. And we came very, very frustrating few years back. I actually started building out what we call word for a websites as a service, WAAS and that was trying to utilize WordPress multi-site to build out a platform where customers can get logged in and then our sign up themselves and have a template site to choose from, get their business growing.
[00:03:35] Michael: And in the development of that project, I realized there was a lot of tools that were missing in the WordPress community that would allow me to be able to build a platform that was fast. Like that was my ultimate goal is to make it as much like a SAS product. Like you would go to Shopify or.
[00:03:51] Michael: Squarespace or Wix or whatever you’re doing there. I want it to have that same similar experience for my clients, but the tools weren’t available. And so [00:04:00] what I did was I actually had a team of developers. Actually. I was working with one developer, found out it was a team at the time, um, work on a plugin to integrate Pride Cart with WP Ultima, which is a plugin that helps facilitate this last product.
[00:04:14] Michael: And once I realized that they were able to do that for that one particular. Feature that I needed. I was like, can we, can we convert that into a plugin? So, because I know that there’s others that would have, you know, the same similar need. And so they were able to do that. And once they did that, I realized like the doors are wide open.
[00:04:31] Michael: So 22 or more plugins later, we have a whole suite of plugins that I sell for people that are trying to build a WAAS. It’s still going to last over my agency. And one of the other things I always recommend is to outsource. And then that brought me to GoWP. And that’s what we do here. So yeah, that’s pretty much my
[00:04:49] Joanne: Wait, I’m still like hooked on the, why do I need a website from that? Like, it’s, it must be like such a trip to, to be in the business for [00:05:00] what, 20 year, over 20 years. And, see that whole evolve. How everything evolves from, Hey, I don’t need a website to wait. Oh no. Yeah. We need a website. Oh, this doesn’t exist.
[00:05:16] Joanne: So I need to create it and then kind of like be the entrepreneur. What are like top three things that you, that have been the biggest challenges for you in terms of adapting to the changes of technology and streamlining from there?
[00:05:31] Michael: I would definitely say the number one is once you learn the new technology, whatever it is, whether it’s new Google algorithm or whatever, you finally find a way to.
[00:05:42] Michael: Monetize your service. And then as soon as you do, they change it on you again, they pull the rug right out from under you and you have to relearn something all over again. And in addition to providing all the other services that you’re doing, if you’re trying to focus on doing not, not, if you don’t have a focus and you’re trying to solve all the problems, it just becomes, I think that’s my.[00:06:00]
[00:06:00] Michael: Has been my number one challenge also then, you know, selling that to clients because what, trying to wrap your head around it while I’m enough to not only be able to provide that service, but also to be able to sell that service and convey to a client why they need that service that becomes challenging as well.
[00:06:16] Michael: Is this like, there’s a lot of it, like the fact that the environment changes so quickly is really become something that is, you know, Yeah, it’s very frustrating at times. And so what I’ve done to combat that is I’ve focused our new services now to just do one thing. And one thing only happens to tie in with I’m going GoWP ironically.
[00:06:37] Michael: Well, not ironically, obviously. So instead of like saying that we build websites and we’ll do SEO and all that stuff, now we just say, we’re going to maintain and manage your site and make sure it stays up and running. And I utilize obviously whatever GoWP for that service. So it’s something, one of the things I also learned in this entire process is, and maybe I’m just getting old.
[00:06:58] Michael: I don’t know. It’s probably a [00:07:00] little bit of both, but. I don’t want to do anything when it comes to fulfillment, like that is not the role that I want to play. And so it makes more sense to me to put systems in place to generate more leads or more referrals or whatever that is and let another team actually do the fulfillment for me and all the capacity, whether that’s a developer that, you know, we have a dedicated developer, we have a dedicated copywriter now.
[00:07:22] Michael: All these things that. We’re we’re actually drinking the Kool-Aid that we sell, essentially with whatever GoWP. Like, I, I, I believe in the need for outsourcing. I don’t want to do it myself. I’m limited on the amount of time I have. And I probably like most agency owners that, that are solopreneurs or have a team of one or two people on our team. You find. Staying up late trying to get projects done. And you might have even your own pet projects that you want to do yourself. Like, for example, I mentioned I did my WAAS and so those sort of things keep you up to 1, 2, 3 o’clock in the morning and just repeat the next day over and over again.
[00:07:57] Michael: And realizing like in hindsight, I [00:08:00] was a fool for doing that. I should have just been outsourcing since day one being the idea guy and just, just project managing it and making sure things are getting done as I want them to get done. And when I want.
[00:08:11] Morayo: You referenced when you started your own agency in 1999, which I wasn’t born then.
[00:08:16] Morayo: So it’s nice to travel down that road with you, but I’m sorry guys.
[00:08:22] Morayo: That’s not a joke. I wasn’t even a thought then.
[00:08:27] Joanne: GenZ up in here.
[00:08:28] Morayo: Did you eventually made the discovery that I can’t do this alone? I can’t carry this weight alone. And then you, like, you know, you started to outsource one of the things that. Comes up in the conversations that I have with agency owners when I interview them for case studies or just an interaction with them is they know that.
[00:08:48] Morayo: Carrying the burden of their agency is difficult. They know that sometimes the quality of life takes a hit, whether it’s a, want to spend more time with their family, they want to focus more time on pet [00:09:00] projects. And the time isn’t there, but one of the ongoing, I guess, concerns for them is how then if they get to the point of, okay, I will outsource.
[00:09:10] Morayo: But they don’t know how to decide A:, what to outsource, what tasks to outsource and B: how to overcome the fear that by outsourcing they will negatively impact their relationship with their current clients. Went through that journey yourself. How did you, again, how did you decide what to outsource and how to maintain that relationship with your clients.
[00:09:33] Michael: Yeah, that actually is a big challenge. Trying to figure that out to me, I feel like the best thing to outsource first, and it’s going to be different for everybody because if you have strengths in one area over another, you’re more likely going to want to hang on to that thing. Although I don’t always recommend that you do.
[00:09:48] Michael: And the reason is, is that you’ll find yourself just continuing to put yourself in a position to continue to do the work. And that’s what you’re trying to avoid. For me, it was the first thing I outsourced was development. And the reason for me, it was because, [00:10:00] hey, I’m not a developer. My strengths are in design and management and just sales.
[00:10:04] Michael: And so I that’s, the last thing I actually wanted to do was the development side of things. And so, but also it was because developers, it’s not as a creative process, it’s not a creative process. Like you would think, you know, for a designer or. A copywriter, it’s more of a task oriented type of thing. So, I mean, although there’s creative decisions to make along the way, like, am I going to use this tool or that tool?
[00:10:27] Michael: And am I going to use the escort or that code or whatever, there is some sense of creativity in there. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s not, it’s more of a task oriented type of deal. So and a process oriented thing. So that would be the first thing that I would. That’s what I. The first thing I should say I did.
[00:10:41] Michael: I outsourced. And then the next thing I outsourced, I would say would be my copywriting. That’s important too. Like I can write, but I. I’m not going to do it as a profession. I can know how to edit things. And so what not, but copy is one of those things. Content you can never have enough [00:11:00] of whether it’s doing your landing page and doing the market sales strategies and things like that.
[00:11:04] Michael: Or it’s doing the articles. I know in the beginning of my career, I thought I got, I even bought a domain called shortblogs.com with the big idea of like, I’m going to have that’s my last name, short and play off of that. And there’s going to be a bunch of short, different blogs. Kind of be like a Chris Lema in the sense of, I’m just writing all the time.
[00:11:21] Michael: Not as good as him, never, ever. I’m not going to try to claim that, but just the idea of writing all the time and I started doing it and I, for me, I didn’t get the impact that I was looking for. I didn’t see any results, like any ROI out of it. And so I stopped doing it. However, If you just do it to do it, it’s not enough.
[00:11:40] Michael: Like you have to do certain strategies, have to be accompanied by another strategy. For example, like if you’re going to do the articles, you want to make sure that you’re posting that on social media consistently. You want to make, you know, you’re using it as a part of your sales strategy, whether that’s sending emails out to your prospects.
[00:11:56] Michael: And showing sharing with them, whatever article it was that you wrote that would [00:12:00] be relevant to their needs and help them in their situation. That’s that’s how I would use it now, as opposed to like, just write it and think write/build it and they will come mentality.
[00:12:14] Joanne: Morayo and I are we’re nodding our heads every time outsourcing comes up. And when you were talking about like fulfillment and all of those things that just take so much time that no one wants to do, because it’s a time hole, we were just like, you can’t see us, but we’re just like, yup, yup. Been there at some capacity where, whereas if it’s with copywriters and of course, you with, more as an agency owner experience, which I unfortunately don’t have yet, have that experience.
[00:12:50] Joanne: And needing developers and support time and maintenance and things like that. That is just like, oh, how much time do I have to spend being an [00:13:00] entrepreneur and a business owner and growing my business versus on. My website broke again. I got it. I got to spend five hours fixing that. I have no idea how much time that takes, which reflects poorly on me.
[00:13:14] Joanne: But, it has happened to me with copywriters. So like, I feel your pain and Morayo and I were just like, yep. Yes. Okay.
[00:13:23] Morayo: I, I wasn’t born then again, but I hear that in the 90s, when people agreed with the conversation, they could just say word. So if we’re not nodding for, for listeners who are just hearing audio, I’ll just say word for word, just a short word.
[00:13:43] Morayo: I’m going to get struck by lightning for lying about my age. Word words,
[00:13:50] Morayo: You get to interact. Our wonderful partners. I GoWP every single day and they, you know, they already have partnered with us. They already are utilizing our [00:14:00] services, but there is always room for many of them to scale more, to benefit their agencies. So once you have this relationship with a current good of GoWP partner, or a potential partner, how do you start the conversation about say our dedicated developers service? Since I know that that is the main area of your focus, as well as the, the copywriters, but there’s more of a history with the dedicated developer. How, how do you. Prep them make that transition and find out where their needs lie.
[00:14:29] Michael: I’ll thankfully actually GoWP has a really good marketing team where we get inbound leads and that leads tend to know already that they have that need. So we don’t sell the idea as much. As I would a cold lead to try to tell them why they need a outsource already. So they come to us already knowing that they could use the help with a outsourced developer.
[00:14:55] Michael: Um, but it’s just a matter of once I do get them on the call, it’s just finding out what is their stack? [00:15:00] What are they using now? How much time are they spending on this stuff themselves? Where can we help them? And then just hearing them out. And then seeing if we would have a developer on their staff, that’s ready to go.
[00:15:10] Michael: That would meet ADA requirements, their stack, what they’re using. And then also other timeframe. This is one of the goals that we have always is to place someone on their team. That’s going to overlap their daily hours. That way they can jump on calls with them, or just communicate with them freely, uh, during the hours that they’re working with them.
[00:15:29] Morayo: And what if they worry, you know, goodness, you know, okay. GoWP. I trust you. I trust that you know how to find developers, but I don’t have the time to spare to onboard them to, to make sure that they’re ready to go from day one. What do you say to, to those agencies?
[00:15:47] Michael: That’s that doesn’t happen too often, I, the thing with hiring an outsource partner is that you, you have to understand, it’s kind of like this. It’s very similar to hiring someone in house. So you can’t [00:16:00] just put someone’s butt in the seat and say, okay, I can’t train you. I can’t tell you anything, but you just got to figure this out and run.
[00:16:07] Michael: So you got, there’s gotta be a level of expectation. And knowing that, just like with hiring anybody new, that you’re going to have some sort of time to get them acclimated with your tool sets, get them accustomed to how your, what your expectations are and that sort of thing. And working within your processes.
[00:16:21] Michael: I mean, it just like, you know, there’s multiple ways to wash your car. There’s multiple ways to build a website. There’s no, there’s just, even though it’s going to be built in the same stack, you can build it. Like, let’s say we’re going to use Elementor or BeaverBuilder and, you know, instead of using the widget, some of them decided that they think using CSS code is a better, an HTML is a better way of utilizing the page builder, which, you know, everyone has their own way of doing.
[00:16:46] Michael: For others would be like, no, I want you to use the widget. That’s what they’re there for. So really just getting them accustomed to how you want things to be done. And then, and then, then you can sit back, you know, once you start getting, it’s going to take about a week or two to get them up to speed with the [00:17:00] way you want stuff.
[00:17:00] Michael: So I wouldn’t recommend that you come in with the idea, like you’re just going to be able to hire someone and they’re going to hit the ground running. Although they’re already developers at their core and they know what they’re doing when it comes to work dress, they still have to get like, you know, have to figure out.
[00:17:15] Morayo: So when we talk about the benefits of outsourcing and the path to successfully outsourcing other agency owners, they have to have a systems and processes in place. You have to have thought out some of the projects you have in mind for being a developer, be a copywriter. And just to make that more of a seamless transition and beneficial one.
[00:17:39] Morayo: I don’t know that we’ve touched on the, the vetting process…
[00:17:44] Michael: real quick before we move on. Cause I have a thought to what you just said. A lot of the, we do oftentimes get people thinking that they’re not quite ready, that they have to have certain things in place to make it successful. And. I mean, of course, if you come with the processes and everything’s documented that that’s going to [00:18:00] be in your advantage, but don’t think that if you’re a startup and you’re just getting your feet wet, or even if you’re a been in business for a while, and you just never got around to putting together processes, because it’s just been you and who’s going to follow your processes besides yourself.
[00:18:12] Michael: Like a lot of us get in that situation. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us for outsourcing because it’s still something that you can develop along the way. You don’t have to have that ready to go. Would it be great to have? Yes, but it’s not always necessary. We do provide you with an onboarding guide was part of the kickoff, just so that you can kind of get a sense on what’s the best way to bring on somebody.
[00:18:35] Michael: And we may have you think through some of the challenges and things before you have to actually experience them yourself and how to overcome them. So, yeah.
[00:18:45] Morayo: And could we talk a little bit about those hidden benefits of working with GoWP tax benefits of hiring a developer through GoWP? Let’s talk about that shall we?
[00:18:57] Michael: There’s a, there’s several actual benefits. I actually [00:19:00] forgot about that one in particular, one of the other benefits too, with hiring us is that our developers, we, we have an internal system that we all communicate through through slack internally. Obviously we recommend that you have your own set up. So if you’re use slack, then you should also put your dev dedicated service provider, whatever it’s, whether it’s going to be a copywriter, a developer, a product management, whatever it is.
[00:19:22] Michael: Okay. We do recommend that you have that, but we have it. So like our developers, for example, all communicate inside of slack. And if they ever get stuck on a problem, this is something I think that just happened to become a benefit that we didn’t really even think about, but they, they communicate with each other asking each other, have you had this experience before?
[00:19:39] Michael: Is there something, you know, and it helps them get to the root of their problems much quicker rather than wastingyour time and spending money on them, trying to figure it out, you know, wasting time doing it themselves. So that’s, that’s one of the benefits that we have. The other benefit that I can think of is that if the developer, for one reason or another is sick or needs to go on vacation, we can also [00:20:00] fill them in with another developer of just equal quality. and standards you know, that you’re working with so that we can make that happen the same day very quickly. So you don’t have to go and try to find someone yourself and vet them again and go through the whole processes. You’re going to get a developer that’s been vetted already and has been approved by GoWP. So that’s another great benefit of working with us.
[00:20:23] Morayo: I think that’s, that’s a huge, huge something that you’re not going to find just by hiring any freelancer or anything like that. And we’re going to have that added insurance of the continuity of your, of your work I’ve been having fun.
[00:20:34] Joanne: Oh, yeah. I mean, yeah, it’s, it’s been really interesting to hear about, how young you are, Morayo. I mean, how it’s just also, for me, like, I don’t know. I always think of it. I, I keep on coming back to 1999 and I don’t mean to like age, anywhere, whatever does it, it doesn’t matter, but it’s like, for me, it was such a. It was such an important year. Maybe it’s because of matrix came [00:21:00] out because the VMA is, were amazing that your it could have been, it was maybe it was Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake wearing all denim.
[00:21:06] Morayo: It could be any of you remember, was that the first 99, the first matrix?
[00:21:14] Joanne: That was the first Matrix. Anyway, I don’t, I can, I can go tangential. It’s also the year that I started using the internet, like I was, has nine years old, but it’s so it’s fascinating to me to hear that there was already people thinking about making money and building a business and putting their businesses online. When, when I think about what the internet was at that time, it’s just like, oh, there’s a message board. I can make my own website. And of course, you know, if you have that entrepreneur mindset immediately, you’re like, oh, I can make a website for my business.
[00:21:53] Joanne: So it can be found in this gigantic directory that’s being created. And to me, that’s just it’s awesome [00:22:00] to be alive, to experience that, love that.
[00:22:03] Morayo: Like, look at yourself now. You’re like WordPress diva. Here you are. And I also want to say that I have, from a show I directed, I had, I used the dial-up sound as one of the part of my soundtrack.
[00:22:18] Morayo: I’m so going to edit that in to Joanne’s response to.
[00:22:24] Joanne: Oh, my goodness. I remember the first thing that I would do when I got home from school was like run to my diet. Cause we had a separate phone line for the internet for dial up. Cause we had dial up until like 2002. Which was, I dunno. Yeah, that sounds. Fax machines still use it. People, people
[00:22:49] Joanne: There you
[00:22:50] Joanne: go. Well, so to wrap it up, Morayo, you were saying before I came in with my[00:23:00] walk down memory, internet lane.
[00:23:02] Morayo: I’m glad that you did it. It was moving and it reminded me why every agency needs to have a dedicated developer to take them into the future further, further away from our days of dial-up.
[00:23:16] Michael: Just because that’s the way that’s gonna allow you to grow your at scale, your business.
[00:23:22] Michael: That’s the only way. And if you read rich dad, poor dad, he’s talks about there’s two ways to. To get rich, you can do it on other people’s time and other people’s money. So borrowing from banks and leveraging that or leveraging people’s time. So outsourcing is going to be key, whether, and I say outsource this call it hiring outsourcing is just a way of doing it.
[00:23:39] Michael: That has a lot of benefits to it. When, from the taxes that we talked about,
[00:23:42] Morayo: So Michael
[00:23:44] Michael: final thoughts. Yeah. So my final thoughts and overarching idea is that you should do three things as agency owner. If you haven’t done them already, first thing I think you should do is niche down, both on services and or industry. if you partner with a good company, then they’re going to have. [00:24:00] Accelerate benefits like we talked about. So those are my last thoughts I would say. And if you’re looking and ready for, as much as possible.
[00:24:09] Michael: I don’t know what that was, but you want to productize whatever you have so that there for you to sell and your services, instead of having to go back and forth and proposals and changes and all this stuff, just say, this is the price. This is the box you get in. And a great example is go that we’d be looking at our, in the, one of our services in this all productized, it’s all a set prices.
[00:24:27] Michael: Doesn’t change. Fluctuate based off of different needs, it’s all the same thing for everybody. And then the last thing I would do is what we’ve been talking about, and that is outsource, outsource, everything that you possibly can. exploring these options, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. My email is Mike@gowp.com pretty easy to remember.
[00:24:48] Joanne: You can outsource up to 90% of the things you can’t outsource, client relationships, you can’t outsource that. One-to-one like you don’t [00:25:00] outsource sales. Don’t do that. If you’re going to outsource something outsource. The devs, your content creation, but things that are directly connected to your brand.
[00:25:13] Joanne: Um, and I’m not challenging you on what you said, Michael is just adding to what you said, but yeah, things that aren’t directly linked to your brand that are client facing. I think it’s best practice, not to outsource that and keep that at part as the core. You want to keep that as, as close to your everyday operations as possible and correct me if I’m wrong, please.
[00:25:39] Michael: And that’s going to be our story until we start hiring a sales rep stouts, or so once we do that, then don’t listen to it to answer
[00:25:50] Michael: making a joke. I had to leave you with that. Yeah.
[00:25:54] Morayo: Well, Michael, thank you so much for being willing to be our Guinea pig. The [00:26:00] inaugural episode of go WP to get to see owners podcasts. We’d like to thank everyone who is listening. I was going to say who’s joined us today, but they could be listening in perpetuity to our podcasts.
[00:26:11] Morayo: So, thank you
[00:26:12] Joanne: 100%. Michael, thank you so much for, for joining us today. I wouldn’t say you’re a Guinea pig. I’m just going to, I consider you as our first, you know, the first of many, the very first one, the, the, the credit, the cutter of the ribbon, the cutter of the ribbon and this inaugural episode.
[00:26:33] Morayo: Sacrificial lamb.
[00:26:34] Michael: As long as I can cut the ribbon. This one? Yeah. We’ll
[00:26:38] Joanne: I’ll give you a gigantic digital pair of scissors. No, but thank you so much. Everyone who has listened, I really hope this is the first one of many. Don’t forget to like and subscribe and you can get this wherever you get your podcasts. And just a quick reminder, I’ve.
[00:26:56] Joanne: I’m pretty sure we’ve mentioned this a couple of times, but I’m going to mention it again. [00:27:00] At GoWP, we’re just a company that’s creating happiness for digital agencies, and we just want to help you become more profitable, whether it’s, you know, listening to podcasts, whether it’s joining our weekly happiness hours. You can grow your team with us with a dedicated developer copywriter, designer, project manager. We got you covered. And yeah. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll
[00:27:26] Morayo: I feel happier already.
[00:27:28] Joanne: I got nothing else to add,
[00:27:30] Morayo: and this is where we put the outro music…