Episode 365

How to Outsource Copywriting, Development, and Design as a Learning Platform Creation Agency

In this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS, you will learn about how outsourcing for agencies from Michael Short of GoWP. Michael, the founder and an expert in the outsourcing industry, built GoWP with diverse expertise and resources to help companies outsource their gaps. 

So, if you are trying to create a learning platform with LifterLMS, this session would give you valuable insight into how you could outsource some of your requirements that can propel your business further. GoWP offers different outsourcing options like blogging, project managing, designing, copywriting, developing, etc. and most of their clients are entrepreneurs.

Many entrepreneurs or even solopreneurs push back on the idea of outsourcing for some time. But Short says “..as an entrepreneur, oftentimes you do have to wear a lot of hats. Most people I know that are successful aren’t doing it 100% by themselves”. Maybe you do not need a resource full-time, or the resources that are available to you are not highly skilled. But for a short time, you can get a highly skilled resource through outsourcing who can give your learning platform business a leap forward without hurting your pocket. Also, designs, presentations, and courses are key elements in building a rich learning platform. Hiring freelancing design experts can greatly help your landing page and course instructors. Students will enjoy a more polished learning experience. “There’s an old African proverb that says that if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together” – Chris Badgett.

If you want to reach out to Michael, you can email him and the email address is mentioned in the audio and video of the podcast. He is also happy to get on a call with you to discuss your strategy. Book a calendar with him at gowp.com/grow. You can learn more at gowp.com. Their support is helpful, so feel free to check out. 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 here. Please Subscribe 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 till the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:
Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest. His name is Michael Short. He’s from GoWP. That’s at gowp.com. Michael’s an entrepreneur. He’s an expert at outsourcing. We’re going to get into what’s going on at GoWP. I’ve met many of the team members there, and a lot of great people work at the company. Before we get into the main content of outsourcing, how to do it, what’s possible, welcome to the show, Michael.

Michael Short:
Thank you. Thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Chris Badgett:
I’d like to share this framework. I see a lot of overwhelmed experts, coaches, course creator, people building training based membership sites. They get really overwhelmed because they feel like they have to wear a lot of hats. It’s true that as an entrepreneur, oftentimes you do have to wear a lot of hats, especially if you’re trying to bootstrap and get traction and validate. But there comes a point where it makes sense to get some help, and people often have, that I see successful, with LifterLMS as an example, most people I know that are really successful aren’t doing it 100% by themselves.

Chris Badgett:
But basically you kind of got to wear five hats. You have to be an expert, an instructional designer, a technologist, an entrepreneur, and a community builder, and that’s just a lot. That’s a lot to do. So we’re going to jump into outsourcing today. Tell us a story of GoWP as a place to go for outsourcing, whether you’re an expert and you’re trying to get this site up, or you’re a freelancer or WordPress professional building sites for the LMS industry, and your clients keep asking you to do stuff besides what you do. How does GoWP, what do they offer to help with outsourcing?

Michael Short:
So GoWP, we have several different outsourcing options. We have dedicated developers, we have dedicated copywriters and dedicated designers, as well as dedicated project managers. So depending on where you are and what your specialty is and where you have a need, we can get in there and help you. Our developers can help you build out the platform if you’re not technical, but you know you need to have this platform built out. We have copywriters that can put the content together for you, help you put the content together for you.

Michael Short:
In fact, I’m working on something myself right now where I have a copywriter that all I did was give him kind of an outline, and he even helped me with the outline, and he was able to masterfully put together some amazing copy that I’m super excited about. So there’s a lot of ways that we can help. Obviously, throughout your training, it’s probably nice to have visuals to assist in that, make it beautiful and really spruce up your branding. So yeah, all of that really helps.

Chris Badgett:
We’ll go into each of these a little bit. Let’s talk about copywriting. I know GoWP has a blogging service. They can help you with case studies, which is, in my opinion, the most effective marketing method there is, especially in terms of just organic content marketing. Then there might be other strategic pieces of content, like a key landing page or whatever. How does somebody, what can they outsource in the world of copywriting? What if we have emails that go out, nurture campaigns, what’s on the list included in the copywriting service?

Michael Short:
As a dedicated copywriter, they can do anything that you put in front of them in terms of writing. So they can do lead magnets. They can do email sequences, like you mentioned. They can do with the webpages, the training, every aspect of all of that they can do. Now we do have separate services that are specific to just, like you mentioned, case studies and are the blog post service. So if you’re not quite ready for someone that’s dedicated … Let me describe what I mean by dedicated. It means what we do is we put them on your team. You typically have two different options. You have two hours a day or four hours a day as an option to put them on your team, and they work with you Monday through Friday for that amount of time every day.

Michael Short:
You work with them inside of your tool sets, inside of your communication tools. So you’re not going through a ticketing process through us or anything like that. So you’re going to have direct access to them. We even recommend that you set them up with their own email if you’re doing client work. That way if anything gets in front of your clients, they’re not like asking, “Who’s GoWP?” But they feel like they’re a part of your team, and truly they are a part of your team once you bring them on board. So yeah, they can help you with all of those things.

Chris Badgett:
So why go through a service like GoWP instead of trying to do it on your own? Why does this service exist? It wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a need for it. What makes GoWP the way to go for this kind of thing?

Michael Short:
There’s a few advantages actually. The first I would say, first and foremost is that we really dialed in the vetting process, and being able to find quality talent. So that’s the one thing we take out through your plate that you don’t have to worry about doing. The second thing is if and when, it’s a matter of when, you’re outsourced help is going to either get sick, or need to go on vacation, or any of that sort of thing, they’re not going to be present. We are able to fill in the void with another vetted outsource provider. So that way you’re not without, and you don’t have to go and vet somebody else during that time.

Michael Short:
Also, what I’ve learned … So a little bit about me is I still manage my own agency. I also have added GoWP dedicated services on my team, one being a designer and another being a copywriter and a developer. Basically I’ve learned that you can get really top quality talent without having to sacrifice or be concerned with the idea of them getting poached by somebody else that they’re working with on the off hours that they’re not working with you, because their hours are always taken care of by us at GoWP. So they’re a full eight hours. They’ve got a full-time shift with us. So you’re not having to worry about them leaving you because they have a better opportunity somewhere else.

Chris Badgett:
Which happens a lot. I mean, I know how hard it is just in 10 years in this industry, actually longer, but in terms of getting good talent, retaining talent, and just having that dependability and longevity, where the motivations are aligned. That’s awesome. Tell us a little bit about the blogging service. So you get like a certain number of posts per month. If somebody wants to do content marketing and work on their SEO and authority, how does it work? I know a lot of experts think that they have to make all the content, but how do you effectively outsource stuff like blog content?

Michael Short:
What we do is we schedule, once you hire on the service, we will schedule an appointment with you to have the copywriter walk with you, with what your ideas are, what you’re trying to accomplish. Then based off of that, they will come up with a solution for what are the two articles that you’re going to get that month. They have the experience of, like you mentioned, SEO experience, or they know how to write things in a way that’s going to get SEO juice. You also have the H tags and stuff. So they’re well aware of the title tags and things of that nature. So really by the time they’re done, all you have to do is review and push publish. We also do newsletters as a part of that, so that you can get that out to your audience, and as well as social posts. So it’s all combined together so that you have a nice cohesive package to endorse or promote your blog posts.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. So this is a gowp.com. I want to shift gears a little bit to the developer. I see a lot of people who are an expert, or they have a company built around a certain niche of knowledge, and they’re sold on WordPress. Like they tried hosted platforms and they realized that they were a little bit stuck, and they learned about WordPress, and the extensibility, and the customizability, and the ecosystem of products and all that stuff. They’re sold, but they don’t want to actually do the tech part. They want somebody else to do it. What’s the best way … Like what can the developer do in terms of like configuring things, writing new code, to do features that don’t exist, what’s on the menu with a dedicated developer?

Michael Short:
Based on that, you would set a meeting up with me. So if you’re interested in that setup, [email protected], but what I would do on a discovery call is find out what is it that you’re trying to accomplish? What are the tools sets that you’re working with? So I can make sure I put the right developer on your team that understands like if you’re trying to do ACF, or WooCommerce, obviously LifterLMS is going to be a part of that. If you’re going to use BuddyBoss, all that kind of stuff, I’ll need to know those things. Then I would pair you with the right developer that I think will fit all your needs and requirements, but they’re able to literally build out from start to finish, assuming that you provide them with the design files. They’re not designers, they’re just developers. So if you provide them with either a PSD, a Figma sketch, XD files, something that they can work with, they can get that all dialed in for you.

Chris Badgett:
What does it mean in terms of their time commitment or whatever? Like a dedicated developer, how many hours a day or whatever is it?

Michael Short:
At the present moment, and we’re going through a little bit of a transition process, but at the present moment, you have two options, like I mentioned earlier, with our dedicated services. It’s pretty much the same across the board. You can choose to have someone work with you for two hours a day, five days a week, or four hours a day five days a week. Just depends on the level of amount of work that you have that you think you can keep them busy. It is month to month. So although we want you to think of it as a long term commitment, just because as with any new hire, there’s going to be some time to get someone up to speed, acclimated, with your processes, expectations and so forth. So we don’t recommend going between different developers or any of the services going between personnel to personnel frequently, just because time is money and it makes more sense to just being consistent. But other than that, it’s month to month.

Michael Short:
We also do have a five-day risk free money back guarantee. So really what that just means is that you’ll be billed the day you start, but then your payment won’t be due for until five days, just to make sure that it’s a good fit. Because ultimately at the end of the day, GoWP is more concerned about your happiness and making sure it’s a right fit for you than we are about making another deal or sale.

Chris Badgett:
Wow. That’s awesome. Just a note I want to make there. There’s something called a 10X developer. I partnered with one at LifterLMS, his name’s Thomas Levy. Not all developers are created equal. Some are much faster and more capable and less time. So the trap that I see people fall into when they try to outsource development is they tend to gravitate toward, especially if you’re earlier in your business, like the cheaper options and stuff like that. But in, I’m trying to think how many years it’s been, I’ve been at WordPress for about 14 years and the-

Michael Short:
And you’re old.

Chris Badgett:
Wow. I’m getting up there, man. But there’s a certain price point that, like you don’t want the cheapest option, and you don’t necessarily need somebody to work full-time. With a really good high quality developer, like you mentioned, there were those packages, the like two or five hours a day, whatever it is, with a high quality developer, that’s a lot of time. Most developers I know, they work in those ways, like kind of bursts of activity in a day, and those are good time blocks. You don’t want a low cost person working 12 hours a day on your project, and I can say that from a lot of experience.

Michael Short:
Right. No, I agree. I’ve had the same experience. So I would say, to be transparent and realistic, that our developers are probably mid range. They’re not going to be ones that are going to develop a plugin for you or anything like that. But they’re going to be able to take the tools that are already existing and bring them together and make them work.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. Another problem in our industry, and I’m particularly guilty of this myself, is I’m not a designer. Everybody thinks they’re a designer, or they know what … It’s visual. So people are like, “I like that. I don’t like that.” The thing is is people have different design preferences. Most people, entrepreneurs, really any business owner, online business owner or education entrepreneur, would benefit from having real design help, especially if you’re past the phase where you’ve got a little bit of financial room that you can bring in some professional help. Tell us about the design service. What do people get? What are the popular projects that people do inside of that?

Michael Short:
Absolutely. As I mentioned, I’ll speak from an experience even, and then I’ll talk about how clients have also had, you know, mention their experience with it. Like for me, I’ve gone through using services, such as Design Pickle, I had them for a year and I’ve used your designer for several months, and I like both of their services. I’m not going to down-talk any of it. But for me, it was a challenge because I always had to use their system and put a brief into their system in order to get their work done. The way we work with our dedicated service, they’re the working side of our tool set, so I don’t have to stop, write a brief and put it in the system. My copywriter, and it works out great, my copywriter actually will go ahead and write out everything and then hand it off to the designer.

Michael Short:
Of course, if I need to approve anything, he’ll pass it to me first. But he hands it off to the writer, helps our designer, helps her even come up with like what are the images that’s going to be useful in different applications. So it really the synergy is there much better than having to go into someone’s ticketing system and upload what it is that you need? I’m no longer the bottleneck having to do everything. It’s a real true business now where I have professionals working with me and for me that are able to get the job done without me having to hold their hand every step of the way. So it’s an amazing experience in that capacity when you have multiple dedicated resources working together. So same with the clients.

Michael Short:
So as far as designers and what they’re capable of designing, I’ll aim speak to it. So Marina’s the name of the person that works with me. She’s impressed me in a couple of different ways. One of them happened to be, so we’re working on one of our websites that I mentioned to you, and we can talk about that a little bit, but she had asked me, she knows that we’re working on using Elementor, and she said, “So are we going to be using the widgets, or do you prefer to use custom CSS?” I’ve never had a designer ask me that question before. So for her to know the difference on how to design something based off of whether you’re using widgets or a custom code, was pretty impressive. I was super stoked about that.

Michael Short:
Then also she came onto the team … Prior to her coming on my team, we would use Photoshop for the majority of our designs up to that point. She came on the team, bringing Figma with her, and I love it. She has the experience in knowing how to use it. Our developers love taking what she designs and being able to use the code that comes with it and just really being able to use that tool to its fullest extent. So it’s nice to have someone on the team that’s bringing new tools and new ideas and new ways of doing things. So it’s been a great experience.

Chris Badgett:
Tell us a little about the company of GoWP. I see you folks everywhere. It appears to me that like community is a big value of the company, both networking and getting great content together from various experts on various topics. You guys do a lot of webinars and content, and I see you’re hanging out on Zoom on Thursdays or Fridays or something.

Michael Short:
Fridays, yep.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah. Just tell us about what it’s like at GoWP.

Michael Short:
It’s amazing to work at GoWP. Our tagline is creating happiness, and that’s felt throughout in the entire company as far as like how we service our clients, but also internally, it’s a great place to be, a great place to work. One of the things that, like you mentioned, we have is our Facebook group. Every Friday we have our happiness hour, and that’s where agencies get together and join us on Zoom calls. It’s free, you just join our group and you can jump on these calls with us. It’s just a great way for us to share ideas.

Michael Short:
We usually have a topic every week that, it’s things that people are challenged with. Then we also share each other’s wins at the end of the conversation. It’s just a great way to grow and scale your business because you’re able to rub on the shoulders of people that are in the trenches with you and help you get past things, if you have any challenges or whatnot. That happens at 3:00 Easters Standard Time every Friday. So if you want to join us, please do. Our Facebook group is Digital Agency Owners. So check that out, search for that. We’d love to have you.

Michael Short:
Then we just started launching, similar to you, office hours, probably took that out of your playbook. Yeah, we just launched office hours. I did my first one with Adrian Tobey from Groundhog about last week, I think it was. That went really well and we plan to do more of those, and that’s more or less going to be, not so much of a webinar type of deal, but ways we can answer questions and solve any issues that you might have.

Chris Badgett:
Is that for your customers or for the public, the office hours?

Michael Short:
Both. Yeah.

Chris Badgett:
Both.

Michael Short:
It’s for everybody. Yeah.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. If somebody’s ready to go and they’re like, “Yeah, you know what? I could use some help. I don’t want to waste time trying to find somebody and retain somebody that may not be ready for commitment.” What’s the timeline like from like, “Okay, I want a copywriter,” or, “I want a developer. I want a designer.” When we’re ready to commit, how soon could that person actually start working inside of our company or alongside of us?

Michael Short:
That really depends on your specific requirements and needs, and then who we might have available at that time. So we’re not just putting someone on your team just to put a body there in place. We want to make sure that they’re going to fit your needs and requirements. Oftentimes, it usually could happen the next day, but sometimes there might be a situation where the time zone is just not matching up. So we have to push it off a week or two, until we can finally vet someone that’s going to meet your needs. But typically this happens pretty quickly.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. I know you work with a lot of different people, but who is the most popular or ideal, most common type of client for GoWP, that goes to GoWP for outsourcing?

Michael Short:
You got some good questions, you were right. You can extend it. I would say our top ideal avatar client was going to be the agency owner, whether you’re small or even big, that can use or looking to scale your business and to do it in a way that’s cost effective. I guess I’m trying to think of the right word, but it … Where you can kind of bring someone in and let them, as you need them kind of a situation.

Michael Short:
Again, we try to make it so that you think of it as a long term thing, but we understand the ebb and flow of business and agency life. So if it’s a situation where you have to put someone on hold or basically just stop the service for a month or two and then come back, and that happens from time to times. But that’s who is going to be the small guys, the organizations that have one to 10 people is usually our sweet spot, but we can service anyone that’s teams of up to 50, if we want, just looking to add someone on their team for a project or whatever their needs are.

Chris Badgett:
I love that idea. You can scale up and, like you said, hopefully it’s a long term thing, but if you have to scale down, that’s no biggie. That’s really attractive actually. The other part of that is the, some people call it like fractional employment. Like, “I need somebody, but I don’t need somebody full-time.” So yes, you can get a fractional person that you can scale up with or scale down with as needed, that’s high quality, that comes from a trusted resource and is not on the side also trying to grow their business and find new clients. So they’re more focused. I’m really starting to see the sweet spot here. I knew what you guys did, but I’m seeing it with more clarity.

Michael Short:
[inaudible 00:21:16].

Chris Badgett:
As a former agency owner myself, I got up to 17 people. A lot of that time I was probably around 12 people or something like that, and your clients keep asking you for stuff. Like for us, we were a web development agency, but we got asked all the time for input on writing, and the client would have trouble with content. Like, “We should just make the content. There’s the copywriting, but we don’t have a copywriter.” I totally get that.

Michael Short:
You don’t want to go find someone just for that one project. Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but to have a relationship with someone that knows what they’re doing … I mean, we have amazing copywriters. We have amazing designers. We have amazing developers. Everyone is truly, I’m not even just … I can take my sales hat off and say it as a customer, like we really do have some amazing talent and it’s exciting to see and be able to help other agencies grow and scale their business as well. It’s exciting to grow and scale my own business. It’s a real unique opportunity that we provide that I think is hard to find anywhere else, to be honest.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah. That’s awesome. What are just some tips if somebody is going to outsource GoWP to make sure they set their relationship up for success? I mean, you’re getting somebody and you’re getting a good person to help out, but what should the business owner, the agency owner, or the person do to just set that relationship up to go well? I’m sure it probably depends based on what the service is, but any just words of wisdom to how to outsource effectively and have a strong relationship?

Michael Short:
I would say it’s pretty important to have a project management tool. I know for like even in my own agency, the majority of it, I’ve gone up and down with having different employees also like you. But majority of my time has been with just two of us. So to have a project management tool is almost overkill in a lot of ways. I mean, we can just keep tasks via email or whatever. But as you grow your business, you start to realize how important a project management tool is. So as you start having outsource partners that are coming in, that maybe they’re not overlapping in your time zone, and that’s something we do try to make sure that we are able to find someone that’s in your time zone.

Michael Short:
But there are rare instances where our availability is not there in the time zone that’s most preferred. But because of our talent, they’re able to work on their own without having to have you present at all given time during their shifts. But I would say project management tool is important. Also a communication tool, something like Slack. I know we use that here at GoWP. We also use Slack. I use Slack in my agency. That’s very helpful to have those quick communications.

Michael Short:
Then like I mentioned, setting them up with an email, welcoming them to your team as like a true team member. I think that’s very important to make them feel like they’re a part of your team, helping them understand what your brand is all about, what you represent, what you’re trying to convey, and how they should approach every project. And if they are going to communicate with your clients, what that looks like, what … So you want to give them the most tools that they can have to be successful, set them up for success. It’s what I would recommend.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. Well, you’ve got me all excited about outsourcing. If you’re watching this on YouTube or you’re listening on the podcast, or you’re watching the live stream, there’s an old African proverb that says that if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together. I think a lot of people put off outsourcing longer than they should. I’m guilty of that. You hang on too long when you could just ask for some help. So that’s Michael Short. He’s from gowp.com. Go check that out, go join their Facebook group. Any final words for the people or other ways to connect, Michael?

Michael Short:
Yeah. So if you want to reach out to me, it’s mike at gowp.com. Also, if you want to set up a strategy call with me, I love having the calls. There are no obligations and no strings attached. It’s just a chance to just talk about how outsourcing might fit into your agency or your, if you’re a solopreneur and just doing freelance work, then that’s fine too. See if it’s a good fit for you, or even just ask questions on how to get there. I can help you with that as well. You can do that by going to gowp.com/grow and booking an appointment, and that will be with me and I’d love to help you out.

Chris Badgett:
Michael, thanks for coming back on the show. I really appreciate it.

Michael Short:
Thank you.

Chris Badgett:
Thanks for shining your light on GoWP and the opportunity there. It’s very valuable to get some help. So thanks for coming on the show, and everybody, go check out gowp.com.

Michael Short:
Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Chris Badgett:
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. 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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