Episode 337

Cristian Raiber’s Story Transitioning a WordPress Agency to a Theme Business and Later to a Multi Plugin Business

Learn about Cristian Raiber’s story of transitioning a WordPress agency to a theme business and later to a multi plugin business in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS. Cristian is from WPChill.com where he sells many products, including Strong Testimonials, Download Monitor, KB Support (a knowledge base plugin), and WP Modula (an image carousel tool).

Cristian Raiber's story transitioning a WordPress agency to a theme business and later to a multi plugin business

Cristian thought he knew theme development inside and out working as an agency, since he was building themes for about five years. When he submitted his theme to the WordPress repository, he submitted another 63 updates, because that’s how many issues he could spot in his code. That’s how many things were wrong according to the WordPress guidelines. Once it got approved into the WordPress repository, he made serious money starting off on day one. With the first month at about $15K.

The WordPress team decided to change the way themes rank on the most popular page, and Cristian’s theme went from ranking top 10 to ranking top 100 at the bottom, and overnight their income dropped as well. So if you can picture those hockey stick figures you see for SaaS is going up, up, up, and then down. But by that time, they had already hired about four people. There was no talk about changing the way WordPress ranks themes. And for the next two and a half years, Cristian and his team struggled again just to be able to pay the bills.

They tried launching a lot of products, but unfortunately none were too successful. For the last few years there has been a huge race to the bottom for themes around price and feature offerings. Every new player who came to the market was offering more for less. Making it impossible to compete.

Cristian and his team at WPChill now are 100% focused on plugin development. They still maintain two theme shops from back in the day and still offer updates and support for those clients who want to continue using those themes. But focusing on niche plugin development to solve problems brought up in the community has been a way for them to stay afloat in the space and grow their business.

To learn more about Cristian Raiber and the products he offers at WPChill, be sure to head to WPChill.com.

  • Modula: Get a beautiful gallery on your WordPress site in less than 3 clicks!
  • Strong Testimonials: The #1 WordPress plugin for collecting, managing and displaying testimonials.
  • Download Monitor: The easy way to manage digital downloads in WordPress
  • KB Support: The ultimate help desk and knowledge base support tool plugin for WordPress
  • Kali Forms: The powerful & user-friendly WordPress form plugin.

You can also find Cristian on Twitter @CristianRaiber.

And at LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes hereSubscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest, his name is Cristian Raiber. He’s from WPChill.com. WPChill has many products including strong testimonials, download monitor, KB Support, which is a knowledge-based plugin, and WP Modula, which is an image carousel plugin. But before we get into all that, welcome to the show, Cristian.

Cristian Raiber: Thank you for having me. This is my first time ever on a podcast.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.

Cristian Raiber: Thank you so much for having me. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: There’s been a lot of first peoples podcasts on this show. LMScast, for example, I’m Sujay over at Brainstorm force did his first podcast appearance on the LMScast podcast. And the cool thing about that is the WordPress community is really special. It’s big, it’s distributed and people are all over the place and we’re professional online workers and remote business operators, we have customers all over the world in most cases even as agencies and stuff like that. But I wanted to dig into your WordPress story a little bit. I became a WordPress product guy out of an agency and it was extremely painful. My product stories started seven years ago. But what about you? What is your WordPress origin story? And for those of you listening, we’re recording this in the early Summer of 2021. So how’d you get started with WordPress?

Cristian Raiber: So I started off with WordPress, I think 10 or 11 years ago. Well, I personally started with WordPress back, way back when WP beginner was just a small blog, wasn’t the authority it is today. And I started off with WordPress initially by building small websites that I got ranked on Google and monetized through Google’s AdSense. I think I was like 14 or 15 back then.

Chris Badgett: So was it like the make money online? Like I’m going to [crosstalk] online business.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. I used to have a blog as well. I didn’t maintain it. So the domain expires because I was still a young kid and well, being from Romania from Europe, it was super private… It was super hard for us to actually make money online. PayPal didn’t arrive into Romania until I think maybe 2015, something like that. It’s not such a long time since we can accept PayPal payments. So I have like 10 PayPal accounts with money locked into it because I was hoping that someday I’d be able to take that money out of it, never happened. And I think I fell in love with WordPress because of its ease of use even though I was a kid back then and I struggled with understanding code because back then building a theme was not what it is today. Was way much harder to building on a simple theme and it required to understand so many different components to CSS, HTML and they weren’t as documented as they are today.

Cristian Raiber: Right now you can go on YouTube, pull up a search on how to do CSS in WordPress and you’ll find like 10,000 people explaining it to you exactly how to do it. And I think I continued using WordPress. I had that technology blog at some point, that was fun thing to do. We got into the game of acquiring users via websites such as Dig or StumbleUpon. So Viro sites basically and I sold that one off. I think that was my biggest money I made online at that age. I think I sold it for 20K or something like that.

Chris Badgett: That’s pretty good.

Cristian Raiber: Well, for a 21 year old, it was amazing.

Chris Badgett: It is amazing. Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: It felt like 2 million, 2 million, not like[inaudible]

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: And naturally I just… At that point I knew SEO and I understood content marketing. And I started off with a dream of building my own small agency, local agency that focuses on more [inaudible]personal helps clients. And we started off with the idea of offering marketing support, marketing services actually. So that was SEO, ad words, Facebook ads, content, these kinds of things. We struggled to find clients-

Chris Badgett: Locally.

Cristian Raiber: In the space. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: It was insane. So what we did find though, was clients who wanted to have websites built for them. So one month we weren’t able to make rent or space, but we had like two or three clients lined up for development work. And I said, “Okay, I’m going to do it. I’m going to teach myself web development. I’m going to start doing it.” That’s how I learned how to do web development or WordPress starting with themes, custom themes, are not the best themes by today’s standards. They are not, they are not good products but they get the job done. And five years into this space, we were making decent money. But as you probably know, dealing with clients on a monthly basis is super painful. And we realized at that point that we have to get into building a product. We didn’t know what product to use.

Chris Badgett: What year is this are we at right here in the story?

Cristian Raiber: I think we’re at maybe 2015, 2016.

Chris Badgett: Okay.

Cristian Raiber: So I don’t know if you’re familiar with a theme that used to be super popular maybe three or four years ago. It’s called Zerif.

Chris Badgett: I’ve heard of it.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So when Zerif was getting the WordPress depository and making a lot of money, I built a product and just-

Chris Badgett: Theme?

Cristian Raiber: A theme. Yeah. A theme that was going stronger than Zerif.

Chris Badgett: Zerif for those of you listening, you’re saying Zerif had a free version on the WordPress repository [crosstalk]

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. Yeah. Which we follow the same model obviously. And what was funny is that I thought I knew theme development inside out, I was building themes for like five years, I thought I knew. I remember to this day that during the waiting period I had before, when I submitted my theme at up until it was approved on WordPress repository, I submitted another 63 updates because that’s how many issues I could spot in my code. That’s how many things… Yeah. That’s how many things were wrong according to the WordPress guidelines. Once it got approved into the WordPress repository, we made serious money starting off on day one. I think first month was like 15K and-

Chris Badgett: On your first month?

Cristian Raiber: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Wow. That’s amazing.

Cristian Raiber: What’s funny is that we weren’t expecting anything like this. We weren’t prepared for anything like this. I was the only person doing everything. I was doing… I was handling updates. I was handling feature requests, I handling support, I was hiring. I was doing everything myself, it was crazy. It was a bit difficult at that point. And we just though we made it, we were looking at the stats and we’d go, “Well, this is it. We’ve made it.” It was climbing above Zerif. And this I think lasted for about three or four months. Every month we’d see even better sales, better sales, it was amazing. And after four months, the WordPress team decided to change the way they rank themes on the popular page. It was where we were ranking and where we were getting most of our traffic from. And they made a switch that simply took us down in a second. They made the switch of night and it was-

Chris Badgett: Took you to second place or like off-

Cristian Raiber: Off.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: They took us… In a second, they took us off the grid. Our product was nowhere to be found. I think we went from ranking top 10 to ranking like top 100 at the bottom and overnight our income dropped as well. So if you can picture those hockey stick figures you see for SAS is going up, up, up, and then down platoon. But by that time, we had already managed to hire like four people. We weren’t able to predict some people, I guess. I mean, no one could see it coming. There was no talk about changing the way they rank things. And for the next two and a half years, I think we struggled again to just be able to pay the bills. We tried a lot of products, none were too successful, unfortunately. And as about two and a half years, there was this huge race to the bottom for themes, right? Price of themes.

Cristian Raiber: Every new player who came to the market was offering more for less. It’s impossible to compete. We have these… There are certain countries that facilitate a lower price point because the average cost of living there is still much lower than ours. So they could get by with, let’s say, 20% of what we were doing and still think that they’re making good money and to the client’s eyes all themes were equal at that point in time, especially when you’d have a theme that have first like 50 layouts and we’re just offering like the one, it’s hard to justify it’s value.

Chris Badgett: It was like a themes arms race. I remember this time period. Were you on a… I mean, you’re on the WordPress repository, are you also doing Themeforests?

Cristian Raiber: We tried Themeforest at some point, I don’t like it for a lot of reasons. One was lock-in and second was the fact that you never got access to claim data, you could never see who bought it. You could never announce new releases. It was super Locked in and the fee they took didn’t play well with me, I was just super competitive and I think Avada already hit the market. So again, it was impossible to compete with first place. And after about two and a half years of doing themes and struggling with it, I decided it’s time to shift to plugins. We spent all this time learning so much about themes. We built crazy amount of frameworks and killed. We built the first page builder on top of WordPress customizer. I don’t know if you would still remember the customizer or if you still use it, we built a page builder on top of it.

Chris Badgett: Wow.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. Yeah, it was crazy to you to get it done. We built an entire framework. We had an onboarding wizard, we did it all and we still weren’t able to compete. Asterisk was coming to market, OceanWP was getting the market, Elementor was getting ground. It was becoming more and more difficult. And I said, “Well, this is not a race I want to be in.” And we just switched to plugins, probably to Modula, which was our first plugin acquisition, I think. We acquired it for I think 10K, was making about $400 a month and I acquired it and I just let it sit for one and a half years because I didn’t know what to do with[crosstalk]

Chris Badgett: Did the developer that originally had it, did they come and work for you at all or it was just a straight-

Cristian Raiber: No.

Chris Badgett: Handoff, you got the plugin? You just took over-

Cristian Raiber: Handoff. Yeah, entire handoff, yeah. So after a huge hit that we’re [inaudible]made a lot of money in four months, we had two years of huge down where we spent all the money we made in those four months, as well as anything else that we were making monthly, just to be able to keep our employees that we wouldn’t have fired anyone. And then we spent everything we… All the profit we saved in one year, we spent to acquire a [inaudible]WP March and we just looked at it and we didn’t know what to do with it, all our knowledge was in theme. And I think I realized at some point that we can get ahead by launching a certain feature that no one else has, which is what we call the custom grid. It’s this feature that allows you to freely resize images, so you can take the image and drag it by its corner and resize it any way you want straight into your plugins backend.

Cristian Raiber: And this allows you to create galleries with multiple image ratios sitting next to each other. So it creates some sort of masonry but with… Allow you define by dragging images. So this fixed the problem for many photographers and it allowed us to carve out a small space for us in the photography niche because as you probably know, the big competition is NextGEN Gallery and [inaudible]FooGallery. These guys have been there for way, way before us and normally when users think of galleries, they just say, “Well, use NextGEN,” because that’s what they had been using for 10 years. It’s kind of legacy that we have, right? It’s this uphill battle, which is insanely difficult. They’ve had way more time on the market. They have way more experience than us with this audience. They have the deals in place. They have the team, they have everything and-

Chris Badgett: So how did you differentiate? With the custom grid?

Cristian Raiber: That’s one of the features that help us differentiate. Yeah. Another one is the automatic image optimization and CDN, unlimited CDN, we offered to any of our paying users. So-

Chris Badgett: And just to clarify here, this is one of my… It’s not really a pet peeve, I just hate seeing people do it where they’re building an LMS site, which is already a complex site and then they start uploading these giant images, which gives you a big performance hit. Are you saying that this plugin just automatically protects the user from themselves of putting way too heavy images on a webpage?

Cristian Raiber: That’s a great way of putting it. Yeah, that’s pretty much what it does and it doesn’t sacrifice quality either because we’re not handling the image optimization ourselves, we are relying on a third party solution, which is ShortPixel and they’ve got a great API. We just leveraged that. And I think it’s pretty tweaked as well for our photography use cases so it doesn’t affect image quality-

Chris Badgett: Which is super important to photographers.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. Yeah. So you’re basically getting super fast low in images without sacrificing quality, which is what we all want in the end. And after ShortPixel is done with the image, we just push that to a CDN, professed CDN powered by StackPath and yeah, that’s pretty much how it works. And where we’ve been able to innovate is offering a lot more customization options. So we have a lot of customization options for our clients. And this allows you to create a really unique layout for your portfolio. This was, again, one of the bigger problems in the market and the solution would go with you, you’d end up with pretty much the same result. You just should be changing brands.

Chris Badgett: That’s cool. That’s cool. And during this time, are you still running the agency or have you made the pivot to par product 100%?

Cristian Raiber: If I were still running the agency, I think I’d be looking like 20 years older than I look today.

Chris Badgett: Well, that’s why I’m curious because themes are very different from plugin businesses and then agency life. There’s only so many horses you can ride at once. You know what I mean? So-

Cristian Raiber: Yes. Yes. Totally. No, no. It would have been impossible to also run the agency as something on a sideways, 100% focused on plugins right now. We still maintain two theme shops from back in the day, we still offer updates and support for those clients who want to continue using those themes. But every year we see the number of new sales go down and down and it’s normal because there’s so many better offerings right now in the market than what we did there for themes when we did it like five years ago, so now those teams are not competitive anymore. But luckily our plugins are doing well and that’s where I like spending most of my time anyway. So yeah, that’s the story. It has lows and highs. Right now we’re somewhere in the middle, we don’t know what’s going to come

Chris Badgett: Well, before we talk about your other products, I’m curious, I am also a big of Freemium and WordPress as a community but also WordPress is a distribution model. And in some ways what makes WordPress strong is the contributions that companies like yours and mine make to the free tools that people can use completely for free all around the world. It’s amazing.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: But what’s your advice to somebody who’s exploring the Freemium model, specifically… And if you’re watching this or listening, maybe you might… Maybe you’re not making software but there’s probably some lessons in here. What have you learned about Freemium, to do and then maybe not to do?

Cristian Raiber: Sure. Sure. Before I tell people about this, I want to mention that our products are currently being used by about half a million active users have been done a little more than 6 million times. So a bit of a usage there. So my first advice to anyone who’s looking to get into the Freemium model is don’t do the Freemium model.

Chris Badgett: Okay.

Cristian Raiber: This is my personal advice after so many years. I mean, it’s not a broken model. It’s just-

Chris Badgett: Well, it sounds like in your story with the theme, you did it and it was working and then it got shut off, right?

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. Yeah. So I think it’s still working. What I see a big problem now is that the Freemium model is being turned upside down by big hosting companies who are stepping into the market. They are willing to lose the sale on the Freemium product, as long as they get you as a client on a hosting packages, right?

Chris Badgett: What do you mean by that?

Cristian Raiber: I’ll dig deeper into that, just a sec. So for example, imagine someone from a hosting company, I won’t name them, but just think of a big hosting company in the WordPress space, just steps into the, let’s say speed optimization game. So right now, image optimization, right? Is a huge part of the whole process of speed optimization for your website. And they suddenly decide to say, “Well, these guys are charging you money for, be it ShortPixel or Imagify or whatever plugin that does image optimization you want to think of. These guys are charging you for 1,000 images, they’re charging you. I don’t how much money they are, but I’m giving you away for free. I’m also going to get you free CDN and also give you an end point you can leverage to minimize CSS, JavaScripts, Modulas to get it and whatnot. So what you have to do though is to come onto my hosting company, come host your site with us. And this might… This seems like a super good deal. I mean, you’re already paying for hosting.

Cristian Raiber: They’ve matched the price. They’re not asking for anything on top of this and you simply can’t it.[inaudible] So they’re losing the potential sale on the product, on the Freemium model but they’re getting a long time customer on their hosting package, which has a way better rate of sickness because once you’re in a host, it gets super hard to switch away from it. But with a plugin, you always have options, you can switch away from it. So this is why I think the Freemium model is no longer a viable option, unless you either create a product that will… It’s a hard balance to create a product that’s usable in the free version, not crippled, not scoped, but also incentivizes the user to actually upgrade, that’s hard balance to strike. And I think I read something about three or four years ago, it was published by someone from our Automatic that read something along the lines of, your plugin has now been accepted in the WordPress repository. I feel sorry for you.

Cristian Raiber: And I couldn’t understand what they were trying to say at that point. And I think that I understand a lot better why that happens, the expectations of free users are equal to the expectations of paying users. If they get a plugin for free, they don’t expect it to come with no strings attached. You do not download the free product and you’re hands off you can say to the user, “Well, it’s free. We call off to support for updates. You have to do that. It’s expected of you to do that.” That costs money. A good example of this is Yoast who’s been scaling up his team for years because-

Chris Badgett: Plugin or theme?

Cristian Raiber: Plugin. Plugin, the Yoast. The team, the people behind-

Chris Badgett: Or the team. Got you.

Cristian Raiber: The team, sorry. Yeah. Sorry. Sorry, the team behind it. So they’re a good example of this because they’ve been scaling their team for such a long time because they can’t offer the same the level of support and features for the free users that they want to offer for the paid users. Basically, they’re trying to offer the same service for anyone. They don’t care if it’s paying users or if it’s not paying user. So yeah. My advise freemium model, don’t do it right now.

Chris Badgett: Isn’t the distribution good though? I mean, I started as a free Yoast user and then I’ve been paying Yoast for many, many years now.

Cristian Raiber: Yes. Yes. The Yoast had like 10 years to finesse that process to get you to pay, right?

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: And Yoast has like-

Chris Badgett: It’s huge.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. And the similar to the NextGEN story I said earlier. Everyone who’s talks about SEO and WordPress instinctively thinks of Yoast SEO, because-

Chris Badgett: I think I’ve heard this called the king maker problem. If you were there early-

Cristian Raiber: That’s the one.

Chris Badgett: That’s the thing, right?

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. Yeah. That’s the thing. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Because you know how word of mouth functions. So if you’re happy with yours so you’re going to recommend it to me, going to recommend it to your friends and I’m not going to look for another solution, I trust you and I’m going to use what you use and then I’m going to end up paying as well. So I think the better way to do this in the space right now is start off with premium from the get-go, don’t build a free version you have to maintain and support and just build a paid version for your product. This is WP Rocket has done. I think I can think of others who’ve done this, Gravity Forms does this, has been doing this for like 10 years or more and they’ve been hugely successful with their product approach.

Cristian Raiber: No one’s complaining, “Well, I don’t have a free version so I can’t test it out.” Yeah. So this is my advice to anyone who wants to start out right now. Don’t start with the freemium model unless you set your proper expectations because the market’s been routed… Has been crowded, I’m lacking the proper term here. There’s a lot more competition on the market right now for plugins for anything you want than it used to be like three or four years ago. Four years I’d have different advice but now there’s a lot of… A lot of people are stepping into these markets. And if you don’t have an acquisition channel that’s outside of wordpress.org allows you to build active installs so you can climb the rankings of wordPress.org for search terms. Then you almost don’t sell a chance to have your product ranked. And that simply eliminates the distribution the WordPress repository can actually provide in this particular case.

Chris Badgett: So there might be some just inequality there of fairness kind of thing, right?

Cristian Raiber: I think it’s still a good option-

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: But don’t use it as your main distribution channel because this is the thing that most people I think get want today. It used to be true like five or six years ago, wordpress.org was a great distribution channel. It allowed your product to be discovered. now since you’re competing with… So let’s take a quick example. If you search for image gallery on wordpress.org, I think you’re going to get at least 50 pages of results.

Chris Badgett: 50?

Cristian Raiber: 50, yeah. That’s how competitive it is, because anyone thinks building an image gallery is easy. I think this is the most difficult product we had to build. All of our product lineups we have, this one is the most difficult one. If anyone thinks the images on a website are easy, I think they’re most… One of the most difficult things to do. You can do it but you also have to do it right. And the final step… The final advice I’d give to anyone who’s willing step into… Looking to step into this market try to deanonymize users as quickly as possible-

Chris Badgett: Figure out who they are?

Cristian Raiber: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Those are your audience or your community and so-

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. That’s the other biggest pain point the freemium model has, which you don’t have access to how your clients… How your users are actually using the product. So it’s impossible to make informed decisions on what feature they use, what they don’t like, how much time they spend on doing certain actions. So try to figure out a way to do this as quickly as possible and learn as much as possible because otherwise you’re going to iterate on your own ideas. You’re going to just look at it and say, “I think this is going to be a good idea.” I think we’ve done this like 50 times in the past. I think we only got it right like 10 times out of 50. So-

Chris Badgett: That’s a good lesson. That’s a really good lesson. One of the things that makes great products is having feedback loops with your users and it is harder in WordPress. It’s not a walled garden and the software goes out into the world. It’s harder to get that feedback loop, but that’s cool. Before we talk about some of your other products, do you have any, since you have a history in themes, any kind of ideas about the future of themes or how people should think about where that’s going or you’re not… You’re more of a plugin guy now and you’re not really in it?

Cristian Raiber: Well, I have ideas in a lot of places. That’s probably one of my biggest problems, is many ideas.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Let me put it to you this way. One of the things I say to people when… Especially a new WordPress user. I help a lot of people get into WordPress for the first time. They want to build a course, they want to train their employees, they want to provide a remote learning solution for their school. So I often have to teach people the words of WordPress and I… One of the things just for beginners I say is that themes are just for design plugins or for functionality, but there’s some nuance to that. I can see you-

Cristian Raiber: There’s a lot of nuance to that. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: But where are theme going? Especially in page builder, Gutenberg, full site editing, where are we headed here?

Cristian Raiber: I think going forward, we’re going to have at least two big audiences. One of them is going to be light and focused on Gutenberg designs and this is going to facilitate a new type of designer who only has to deal with minimal CSS and JavaScript and HTML because the new way of building full site editing experience that’s coming into Gutenberg makes it so much easier than working with, let’s say Elementor or Beaver Builder or any other of the other bigger players out there. And I still think we’re going to have the, at least for the time being and probably a few years going forward, the audience of Elementor and Beaver Builder and dd and all the other ones, because they’ve already bought into this ecosystem and it’s hard to justify moving out of it.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. If you train your clients, if you train your employees, it’s hard to move quickly out of it. But I think going forward, even though I’m… I still have a love, hate relationship with Gutenberg. Sometimes I go ahead and say, “Wow, this is amazing.” And sometimes it gets so much in my way that I hate it. And I think to myself, “Well, it was so much easier before when we had the classic editor and you just wrote code in it,” because it was easier for me to just use code since I used to code as well. I think going forward Gutenberg will see a huge adoption just because, well, it’s built into WordPress and it comes on by default. And the biggest selling point here, I think for users is going to be the fact that no other page builder can compete on speed.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a comparison test, but the same layout built on Gutenberg versus Elementary is like three times faster. So there’s no way to-

Chris Badgett: Wow. Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. There’s no way to sell that to users. If you push on this pain point and you say, “Well, we’re so much faster, here’s the results.” You don’t have to do a lot of work. They just pick from themselves at three times loading speed. It’s almost noticeable with the naked eye. You just hit refresh on your browser and you see how fast, much faster it is. I don’t think Gutenberg is going to be as feature rich as Elementary. So I still think there’s space there for people to go into other solutions might not be Elementary in two years, might be something else that does this but it started off as a content writing tool, it didn’t start off as a page builder solution, Gutenberg. So it’s still lacking in many areas.

Cristian Raiber: It can do them, but not in the way that you’d expect it to do it or… So I think theme shops will have to choose a side, if they’re going to stick with the current big names out there, Elementor, Beaver Builder and keep building products for these niches hoping that they reinvest a lot of money into the market and try to steal a small percentage of[inaudible] both Elementors going into self hosted solution.

Chris Badgett: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Cristian Raiber: So pretty much like if you want to compare it with Wix or Squarespace, it’s a self hosted solution. So for example, if they’d be able to steal like maybe 1% of the entire market WordPress has, then yeah that could be a viable solution, but otherwise I put my money on Gutenberg because there’s no way to fight-

Chris Badgett: The core.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah, the core solution, it’s impossible to fight it, even though you might have a better offering, they’re still going to beat you by being the default option that people get to use. And it’s still going to be a broken experience when you write your content in Gutenberg and then you have to switch over to something else with a different UI and build your landing page. That’s-

Chris Badgett: Right.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: That makes sense. I appreciate those thoughts. We’re coming up to the end of the show. So I want to do a lightning round through your products. And if you’re building sites for the LMS industry, schools, businesses, the expert industry, whatever you’re… Or you’re doing it yourself with WordPress, how could somebody who’s building a learning site benefit from download monitor and that’s a download-monitor.com. What does it do? And by the way, I just want to say course creators schools, they have documents and download stuff that they… It’s not all about just video lessons. So what can somebody do?

Cristian Raiber: Well, first as the name says, they can monitor that downloads. So I know you like this as well, but I like names that-

Chris Badgett: Says what’s in the box.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah, says what’s in the box. Yeah, exactly. So not only helps you monitor the way your downloads are performing so you can… You get stats on your downloads. What’s your most popular… Most downloaded product, which one’s performing the best, where is it… Where’s the traffic coming from? You can also set up different access type rules. So for example, you’d be able to let’s say if a user has downloaded this thing three times, you’d use one load for four times in a month.

Chris Badgett: Okay.

Cristian Raiber: It’s normally a tool that’s useful for people who are looking to lock downloads to find either an email collection form, opt-in form, Twitter share, Facebook share that kind of stuff or-

Chris Badgett: So like a lead magnet kind of thing?

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. It’s a hybrid solution. I mean, it was built like 10 years ago, so different needs back then but it can do all of these things and it does it well.

Chris Badgett: So check that out, download-Monitor.Com. You have knowledge based product, which is kb-support.com. A knowledge base is super helpful. Software companies get it. They end up using knowledge base too. They find themselves answering the same questions over and over again, whether it’s in pre-sales or in support, they’re like, “We need a knowledge base item about that.” It’s not a blog post. It’s not a piece of a landing page, it’s like a knowledge…. It’s its own unique type of content. What can you say about your knowledge based tool?

Cristian Raiber: I think this is one of my favorite plugins out of our toolbox. I love this plugin because it combines two of the things I haven’t seen anyone else combine, which is help desk plus knowledge base at the same time, because most of the times questions users have, have already been answered. And they’re not able to search real time before submitting a question. They’re not enabled to search to your documentation before actually submitting a question. So our plugin solves this.

Chris Badgett: Is this like… If it’s a help desk and knowledge based, does it replace a SAS solution or Help Scout or is it integrate with something like Help Scout or how should somebody think about that?

Cristian Raiber: It replaces entirely Helps Scout. And that’s one of the main reasons why I like it because we have a flat pricing structure compared to Help Scouts, which is per seat.

Chris Badgett: Trust me, I know I get to expensive Help Scout bill every month.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. That’s one of the reasons why you even acquired those plugin because we ran into the same problem last year. And it’s not like they’re not worth it, it’s just, you get to the point where paying like 2,000 or $3,000 a year, just to have access to help desk and knowledge base justice makes sense anymore. And you’re not benefiting from that SEO traffic you could get from your knowledge base because people search for that on Google before contacting you. And that traffic goes to Help Scout instead of going to you and you don’t have access to look at that traffic and see what people are doing, how you could push them to your products and get them to use them more and pay for your products. So just the end goal.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, most, most learning sites benefit from having some testimonials on there and it’s something, especially if you’re not trained in marketing or whatever, you might not realize the power of social proof or just reviews and testimonials. And in our pre-chat you mentioned something called a wall of… What’d you call it? Wall of fame. I’m like, as a marketer, I’m like, “That sounds good.” And it’s hard. I mean, to collect and do all this stuff. So what is a Strong Testimonials do and that’s at strongtestimonials.com.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. So-

Chris Badgett: Another good name by the way.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. Yeah.  I’m glad you like it. Yeah. Yeah. So it allows you to collect testimonials on your website through a simple form. Right now we’re working on adding video testimonials support. So you send users to a landing page where you’ve already placed our short code, users get one of the two options, leave a text testimonial or a video testimonial. And after they’ve sent in their testimonial, it gets saved into your media library. So you can reuse this as you want, for example, on use case you could schedule this to go out to, I don’t know, Barfly, let’s say, and post this on Twitter and Facebook and basically syndicate it everywhere you want to set a condition, so no reviews lower than four stars go out, basically. [crosstalk]

Chris Badgett: Can you put moderation on there? Like, ‘Hey, I want to read stuff before it goes live on my site?”

Cristian Raiber: It’s built in. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: It’s built in. It has a built-in. So what’s… Biggest strength right now is that it allows obviously to pull in reviews for your business from multiple places, such as Google my business, Yelp, TripAdvisor and even your WooCommerce, it pulls them in into our database and then it allows you to create what we call the wall of fame, where you have all these testimonials mixed and matched together. So you can create an actual page that automatically loads even more testimonies as you scroll down so it fills infinite and it just… It’s your social proof, right? It’s an automatic tool… Almost an automatic tool that continuously enhances your wall of fame and it allows you to syndicate content out on your social networks. It’s almost automatic. So it’s a great way to build more credibility for your business.

Chris Badgett: That;s great. And for those of you who are unsure about this just look at Amazon, do you ever read an Amazon review before you buy a product? Like the five stars, the one star? I mean, of course you do. This thing is really important.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: One more-

Cristian Raiber: It’s what most people actually read.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, and what you want to see is the five stars and the four stars and the one star, that’s what people really want to see and then they can gauge there and if it’s authentic, if it’s just pulling in, obviously from TripAdvisor or whatever, you know it’s the real deal, which is great.

Cristian Raiber: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about Kali Forms real quick. So that’s K-A-L-I Forms.com.

Cristian Raiber: So this is a form split in right now which is built on top of react. So it has… There’s no other… “Well, I think gravity Forms is now built on react as well, but at the time we did it, no one else did it. So it was like the fastest form plugin on the market both front-end, back-end. And I don’t know if you know this, but a big problem in the WordPress space with form makers is that once you want to build a long form with a lot of conditionals, so think of 100 fields-

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Cristian Raiber: Most plugins slow down or crash entirely.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. So it’ll scale.

Cristian Raiber: It was scaled well, yeah, it scales perfectly. And our next… The way we were positioning Kali Forms going into the future, this is still a work in progress is mostly a tool for marketers. It’s going to be a wave to help marketers understand what problems their users are facing at that specific stage in their funnel. So I think this is called profiling. This is called user profiling. So you can basically ask them questions based on the stage they’re at in your funnel and then at the end you can build those answers together, put them together and you get a picture of who your ideal buyer is.

Chris Badgett: And there you go, again, opening up the feedback loop. This is how a WordPress companies build great products is they’re in touch. So you’re even building that methodology that you use into your tool, which is super cool.

Cristian Raiber: Yes.

Chris Badgett: Cristian Raiber he’s from WPChill.com. If you go to WPChill.com, you’ll see all the products we mentioned today, which included download, monitor, Strong Testimonials, KB Support, Kali Forums and WP Modula. Thanks for coming on the show, Cristian, and thanks for sharing your WordPress story. It’s fun to connect with other people innovating in the WordPress space and I love where you’re going and I wanted to bring you on here because a lot of the people that listen to this or watch these videos on YouTube are looking for a solution. Everything you’ve mentioned here is relevant to an LMS website. So I wanted to get people in front of great products like you have. So he’s at WPChill.com, any final words for the people?

Cristian Raiber: Thank you for having me. Thank you for listening through this episode. I don’t know if you could tell, I think you could, but I had, I was… I’m nervous because this is my first podcast ever. So I’m sorry if that that was super obvious. I’ll do better on my next podcast, I promise. But other than that, feel free to hit me up with any questions you might have. I’m active on Twitter. You can hit me up on Wpetula.com. I think we have an email address there that’s public. I answer those emails personally. So anytime you want, just reach out to me either via our contact form panel websites just ask for Cristian and they’ll step in and answer any questions you might have or feel free to Google me and you can find me easily.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Cristian. Thanks for coming on the show. We’ll have to do this again-

Cristian Raiber: That’s for having me. Yes, please.

Chris Badgett: All right. Cheers man. And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to LifterLMS.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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