In this LMScast episode, EZ Smith shares his WordPress and web design journey and about his popularity on Twitter.
EZ Smith is a WordPress Expert, WP Developer, and Entrepreneur. Smith provides WordPress technical consultancy, offering solutions to small agency or B2B marketing teams to improve their business.
EZ Smith discussed, he was first hesitant to sign up for Twitter and offer his knowledge because he didn’t feel prepared and thought that others in the community were more skilled. But around six months prior to the talk, he made the decision to start speaking about his expertise and experiences.
He says, he’s been interested about creating websites for a long time and wants to join the active WordPress and tech Twitter communities. He likes talking with others who share his interests and lending his knowledge to the society.
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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 State of the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.
Hello and welcome back to another episode of L M S Cast. I’m joined by a special guest. His name is, Smith, he’s the WordPress rockstar. The best place to find him, which is where I found him, is on Twitter and that’s at the WP Rockstar. Welcome to the show, ZY.
EZ Smith: Thanks Chris, man, glad to be here. Excited to to jump in today and chat it up with you, man.
Chris Badgett: I’m sure we’re gonna have a great conversation. I’m really into a couple things. Caught my radar with you. I’m really into marketing. I’m really into social media, like the real kind, where you’re like engaging with people and creating quality content and stuff. And you just exploded on what I would call WordPress Twitter or agency Twitter.
And I’m like, what’s this guy doing? Like his stuff’s getting so much engagement and the analytics and everything. I’m like, wow, this is awesome. So I saw that. And then I also noticed, I saw your style and it’s very, Chill real world. You remain po. You’re a very positive person, which I really appreciate on social media.
Yeah. But yeah, let’s rewind the clock. Where did, to me You exploded on Twitter. How did that happen, man? Okay.
EZ Smith: So an analogy I use for it is like I had a powder keg built up, so if you could run it back, I’ve been building websites for 15, almost 16 years now, professionally. Wow. And I’ve studied personal branding.
I’ve studied brand building marketing. I. I got a stack of books back here that you can’t see, but I got all the Seth Godin’s books back here and this past year I finally decided that I really to build a personal brand and actually get out there and speak. ’cause the ironic thing about it, man, is after studying marketing and branding and audience building for so many years, I never actually felt good enough or worthy enough or like it was the right time.
I always felt like I would kind of be a fly on the wall here and there. I guess probably a year before I started blowing up on Twitter, I had created an account and was just watching and I was like, oh man, I’m nervous to jump in here. I’m seeing people that I know that own some of the big agencies or some of the big product companies or founders and entrepreneurs who have done like things that I thought were far outside of my reach, and I just never quite felt ready.
And about six months ago I was finally just like, all right, screw this. I’ve gotta get going. I literally helped. I. Friends, family, some clients like coach them, push them in the direction of what to do with social media, their marketing, their branding. And I was finally just, you know what? I gotta take my own medicine.
I gotta get out here, I gotta put myself out here. otta start talking about what I know, what I’m doing, and just sharing like the honest journey of where I’m at. And that was the biggest thing, was realizing like, okay, some, somebody has got to be able to find some value and it somebody has got to be able to be.
Inspired or motivated by it in some way. And I just started talking and sharing and that’s when you started seeing it. Really. There was no massive strategy. It was really just, Hey, get on there, get active and share the story.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Your stuff has a very much like a build in public vibe, which is cool.
That’s like a, that’s a thing these days. Yep. I really resonate with what you’re saying ’cause I’ve read all the Seth Godin books and I, I started with an agency and I built a lot of other people’s brands. Yeah. When I got into Lifter, I was like, okay, I know personal brand is a really important thing for marketing.
I feel like it’s a, it’s like a, something I contribute to the business. Like we do marketing and we create content stuff, but I also donate or give my personal brand to the business and just try to be helpful to people. Yeah. And I’m curious how you found your niche, and what I mean by that is you’re obviously a website builder and a marketing person.
But sometimes like social media, like you end up figuring out your sweet spot and maybe you’re doing it just ’cause you, you just have something to say and it’s just what you wanna say and you don’t even think about that stuff. But if you think about like your niche in Twitter as an example, what is it?
Is it who’s following you? Other WordPress builders out there? Is that pretty much it?
EZ Smith: Yeah. You know what’s funny, man? That’s one of the things that held me back for the longest time, right? So I guess prob, okay, so we were talking about 75 hard before we actually started, but the stream here, About four or five years ago, I was doing more video content and just like life entrepreneurial type content on my Instagram, and it wasn’t really catching on, but I was enjoying it.
I was just documenting more of my mindset of what I was doing with my business. At the time I was running an agency, I was documenting, sharing like my health and fitness journey and just kinda like life advice as I was going through and learning and figuring things out on my own. Just sharing like some of those hard one lessons.
So when I started, when I really committed to Twitter, which was like really fall of last year in 2022, I sat down man, and I have notebooks and notepads stacked up out of frame here on this other desk. I sat down and was just writing out different stuff, like different names, different audiences. Because truthfully, 10 years from now, I don’t want to just be known for WordPress 10 years from now.
I would like to grow and be a larger, more impactful entrepreneur in different ways. But I sat down and started just like writing and running through ideas and running through strategies, and everything I kept coming back to was like, I think part of what was driving my imposter syndrome before, like we were talking about, was I didn’t feel like I knew enough about just entrepreneurship as a whole.
I didn’t feel like I knew enough about personal growth or motivation, health, weight loss, all that stuff. Like i’d, I’d had my runs with that stuff, but I didn’t feel like I was enough of an expert at it. And I just went back to what I’ve always known and done, which was designing and building websites and specifically WordPress.
I focused a hundred percent on WordPress back in 2015, which was already like halfway through my career as a web designer and web developer. And like I said, I was a fly on the wall. In the Twitter, space Tech, Twitter, WordPress, Twitter, all the different little niches on there. And I just saw that it was a really vibrant community and I wanted to be part of it.
Man, I spend so much time working at home by myself. I was like, this looks like a good place to be, and it’s what I do all day every day. So why am I not part of it? So that was really the strategy was just coming to honesty with myself about what I was doing and who I was and just diving in.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I. I found that I have a lot of like thoughts on entrepreneur’s journey and marketing and info products, courses, coaching and all that stuff. But what I found with me when I went out on social media is, man, the people that follow me are WordPress people. And when I go to a WordPress conference, a lot of people know of me or have heard of a product, my product or whatever, and I’m like, it just like there it is, just, it’s just where I fit.
Yeah. And it’s just interesting, like sometimes it’s like a, like a dog, like you, you said you’re from Georgia. I took a semester off college to hike the Appalachian Trail, and I got a stray dog that started following me in the beginning in Georgia. And sometimes your dog chooses you, and I think sometimes your niche Yeah.
Chooses you. And like you’re, like you said, I’ve just been building websites for 15 years. That’s what I know. And, and there’s like infinite content there, right? Yeah.
EZ Smith: That was the biggest thing, man. Was that. Reading all these books, doing all this marketing and branding, studying it was really easy. I could sit here and whiteboard out a business or a brand that I would want to build, but it’s like it, it wasn’t me.
It might be something that I might be, like I said, aspire five. Yeah. Five or 10 years from now. Maybe I can be that guy, but it’s like right now, this is what we do. This is what I do all day, every day. So talk about it. ’cause it’s easy to talk about.
Chris Badgett: Tell, let’s look behind the scenes a little bit. Like what?
How do you have a rule of thumb for, oh, I create this many tweets a day, or not at all? No, you do seem consistent, right? I see you on the regular.
EZ Smith: I don’t know if it was just timing of algorithm changes following a couple of key people getting involved in some conversations. I would say, and I think you can probably relate to this, when you’ve been around internet entrepreneurship, marketing for a long time, you’ll learn a lot of stuff, even if you don’t sit down and officially study it.
Like in a course format, you just like osmosis, absorb this stuff. So I think I organically over the years, probably picked up on a lot of writing styles, engagement styles, strategies that are just subconscious. Subc maker. Yeah. They’re just kinda subconsciously there and they bubble up. I know I had a couple of really viral tweets that I literally sat down and just wrote off the cuff in 30 seconds.
You know, some of those gaming five or 600 followers a piece.
Chris Badgett: Let’s slow down a second. What, to me, what’s a viral tweet? What were you writing about that went viral?
EZ Smith: For me, and this would be a good example of this wasn’t a specific strategy, just to back up, like I don’t have a content calendar. I don’t have a list of topics.
I open Twitter, I engage in some conversations, and if I think of something that I wanna share, I just, I write it. I’ve scheduled maybe 10 small tweets. Obviously you can’t schedule long stuff for threads. I’ve scheduled like a couple of small things when I knew I was gonna be like crazy busy or out of town for a half day or something.
But to answer your question, vi viral for me, I don’t know, man. I probably consider it like 80 tweet over a 10 or 15,000 views, which is a lot. Which, yeah, and like I have a small account, so if you follow some of the big people that have. 50, a hundred thousand, 300,000 follow their views or their impressions on a tweet is always, they post anything, it’s gonna have 50,000 impressions.
But for me, I started getting 10, 15, 20,000 impressions when I had 300 followers. So for me, I was like, oh, that’s pretty cool. I must be hitting on something and getting some sort of reward with it, with the audience and the algorithm and the platform. So it just did more of it. But like I said, organically it wasn’t, I’m not a data analytical guy, so I’m not sitting here Dissecting the analytics and picking things apart.
I just write stuff off the cuff based on my experience, based on maybe something I see going on in the community and if it takes off, and I’ve had a couple of things, you know, by my definition, take off pretty much each month for the past probably four or five months.
Chris Badgett: Maybe a second nature to you, and you don’t even try, but you just seem like a positive guy, which I appreciate, especially in social media.
There can be a lot of negativity or complaining or finger pointing or whatever, but you just seem pretty positive. Is that, is that just who you are or like To me, I like that kind of content. Like I’m not, I like positive energy in my life in including from social media. But how do you think about that?
EZ Smith: Me too. Definitely. A lot of my mindset, I, I have my down days, man. I. I struggle with some depression and some anxiety here and there, but like in general, yeah, definitely try to be positive. Try to look on the upside of things and try to look at what’s possible. That’s been a big thing for me. I’m, I’m in my thirties now, family and kids, but I’ve always had big vision.
And big belief in that vision, even if I didn’t have any reason to believe in it at the time. So sometimes, what do you call that? It’s like a delusional optimist. So that, that, that’s been just a driving force of who I am. I think I got that predominantly from my dad growing up, just the way he raised me.
The mindset was to believe in yourself and see yourself accomplishing things that maybe other people could ever see you doing. And that, that’s been a tough thing for me is that I’ve coached friends, I’ve coached employees, people I’ve worked with, not in official capacity, but sometimes just in having conversations with people, realizing that they don’t believe in themselves.
And one of the things I think you, you’ve probably seen as well, when you’re in the entrepreneur space, when you’re building businesses and stuff, one of the, one of the key things is. You have to have some self-belief to be able to get through the hard times and there absolutely will be hard times. There always are in life, so being able to not always be overly optimistic, but have some sort of positive vision light to hold onto to, to get you through it.
Chris Badgett: I love that. Another mindset thing, question for you, A lot of what holds people back is fear, myself included. We all have our issues with fear. Part of building in public, like when you’re talking about what’s going on in your agency or financial numbers or clients or whatever, how did you overcome that fear of building in public and like maybe it was, it’s all kinds of things like, oh, I don’t want my client to see me talking about this, or maybe I shouldn’t talk about money publicly, or I don’t know, like, how did you get over all that?
EZ Smith: I’m still getting over it. That’s one of those weird things, right? So I grew up, Not poor, but pretty close to it. Like pretty, pretty low income family with a single father raising us. I wasn’t around like people who were, would be financially successful in like a business owner sense or professional careers, that kind of stuff.
So like I, my first taste of getting okay with the idea of making money really happened because of web design and online entrepreneurship and stuff like that. Because I started freelancing like as soon as I graduated high school and. I thought I was doing something, making 30 bucks an hour at 18 on a small little project for 10 hours.
I was like, oh my gosh, like minimum wage was like 7 25 at the time. So getting to submit an invoice for $30 an hour, I was on top of the world. And of course, it’s like the feast or famine’s, like I made $300 and I don’t think I made any money again for a couple of months, like trying to chase clients and get stuff off the Craigslist.
But so I didn’t, I was never comfortable talking about what I would consider like big money or business earnings. For the longest time, I had to wade through those waters myself and get from familiar and comfortable with it. I will say it’s a lot scarier sharing it on Twitter versus sitting down and talking to another business owner.
Mm-hmm. Or somebody who’s maybe giving you some mentorship or some guidance, getting over the fear to share it publicly on the internet. Honestly, probably. It’s something I’m still working on. You might’ve seen it. I just started sharing more like financials, revenue and revenue goals. Like more, more consistently last month about my path to 25 K a month that I’m on right now.
It’s scary as hell, man, because I didn’t want to be like the kitschy guy whose entire following is built off of piping up and selling some money dream and not actually sharing like valuable content. Because if you talk about money on Twitter, it will get views and shares and. Retweets and stuff, but I wanted there to be more substance behind it.
So as far as how you get over the fear, I’ll let you know next year, man. I’m still working on it. Okay.
Chris Badgett: Now let’s talk about the agency a little bit. I think there’s two styles. One style is to build a team and another is to be as solopreneur and stay small as possible or whatever. Which, where do you land on that spectrum?
EZ Smith: Man, I’ve been going through that a lot more here recently. I would say I’m solo, honestly not by choice right now. It is more what makes sense for this phase of the business, but it’s quickly starting to not make sense. So backstory, I had an agency with an office in 2015 and 2016 and I did a terrible job of setting like the company culture, the vision for it.
I was scared and I, and honestly just Ill experience to, to do what I was trying to do at the time and. I burned myself by making the wrong hires. The two guys I hired were fine. They just weren’t the right people to hire for my business at that time. And honestly, I wasted so much money during that period and got turned off from it that I’ve been scared to grow into a full agency since then, especially I have a good thing going as a solo guy right now.
So it’s been one of those things, like I’ve looked at it, I’ve toyed with the idea, I’ve tiptoed around it, but I haven’t. Been able to commit because I don’t want to give up what I have now to potentially chase something that might turn out the way it turned out last time. So it, it’s solo forever is not the plan.
It’s solo for now. And figuring out some way to refine it and grow in a more natural, organic way without just burning money, which is what I did in the past.
Chris Badgett: You mentioned earlier that you’ve gotten clients from Twitter. It’s one thing to go to Twitter and there’s a water cooler and hang out with your industry peers, but especially for an account like yours where you’re talking about insider agency stuff and your personal goals, how do you actually get a web design client from Twitter?
EZ Smith: So a lot of the work I do right now there, there’s two sides of the business. The side that I share the most about is like the development partnerships with other agencies. Okay. I have a small handful of other small agencies that I do white label development for, so I think they, because I’m talking so much and it is like a water of our peers, because I’m talking in there, they’re naturally in there.
So I’m, I’m doing a project right now that’s white label under N D a, but it’s for an agency that found me and reached out off of my Twitter two weeks ago. He, the guy who owns it had just been seeing my content and reached out and said, Hey, we got a project and we need help on, would you build this custom theme force?
And so we’re doing that now. Another small thing was somebody who has a couple of productized services had just posted up. They needed some help doing some through one redirects, and I just was the first person to comment on it ’cause it happened to hit my feed. So I messaged ’em. I was like, Hey man, I can knock this out for you.
And then another one was a guy who, I’m a little bit in the niche site community as well of just like content sites, bloggers, people who have monetized sites like niche affiliate sites. Yeah. Like content and ad based sites. Yeah. So a guy reached out who just bought a new content site a few weeks ago for a redesign just ’cause he had been following me.
And the best thing I think I can say for that is once again, there was no strategy. Like I’m not, ’cause I’m not putting out salesy content, there’s no strong c t A in my content. My feed is not about hiring me to build websites for you. It’s just, I think it comes back to the thing, you know, if people do business with people they know and trust and when you’re.
Showing up consistently, engaging in conversation, sharing your expertise freely. I think it over time, people come to know and trust you and that’s like the key for the business relationships in my experience.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. The, that makes sense ’cause that you’re getting other entrepreneurs, so it’s a little more water cooly.
Yeah. Core style. Can you explain, I think some people out there don’t even know about white label. Yeah. Website building. Like how does that work? For sure. And what’s the setup like?
EZ Smith: Yeah. To be honest, I didn’t realize people didn’t know what that was until recently. Okay. As I’ve talked about it, I’ve had a lot of people like, what is white label?
What does this mean effectively? It’s when you do work for somebody else, you can do it as a freelancer. You could do it as a small agency, as a consultant, where you work on behalf of their end client or their project for no credit. The same way you would if you were an employee at an agency or a business like you’re doing this stuff behind the scenes.
But you’re not claiming that work. You’re not promoting it in your portfolios. And that’s a a, the bulk of my work right now is I have one corporate marketing retainer, a small enterprise marketing retainer for a team where I’m their webmaster, and then I do a bunch of white label work for agencies. So pretty much the bulk of what I do day to day right now can’t be shared with the world.
So I have to just talk about it and try to extract the lessons and little nuggets from it. But I can’t post screenshots and URLs. I can’t share Google Analytics traffic for these sites. ’cause they’re not mine. They’re not mine to claim. So it’s a little bit of a catch 22. It’s good for business, at least up until a certain point because in my experience there’s a lot of agencies and a lot of companies that need help in this sort of capacity.
But the flip side is that if you’re trying to build a traditional agency, it doesn’t help you. ’cause you don’t get case studies, you don’t get portfolio pieces out of it. But I’ve said it before in my content, I’m in the business of building websites. I’m not trying to be a famous web designer. I’ve shifted my mindset so much over the years that I love building websites, but it is a business.
It’s a business and part of my overall lifelong journey to be an entrepreneur. So for me, it, I don’t really care if I don’t have the last 15 sites. Can’t go in a portfolio. It’s no big deal to me. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. I think, I think more. Agencies out there are like marketing agencies. Mm-hmm. But if you’re like really in the WordPress world, you think, oh, everybody’s got WordPress development and all these skills.
But a lot of agencies, I think there’s just such a huge opportunity that a lot of people who love building websites Yeah. Don’t even realize they can tap into,
EZ Smith: Dude, I ideally, I can’t take all the credit for this, but there’s a guy who reached out to me who’s a new front end developer. He did a little bit of WordPress stuff, but also just front end in general.
He reached out to me on Twitter dms and I’ve had a lot of people ask for help and I usually can’t help ’em just ’cause they don’t even, they don’t come correct enough to even take the information. I can tell they’re not ready for it and it’s just, Hey, how do you make money? And that’s too broad of a question.
But this guy came and asked a more specific, clearly thoughtful question and for some reason I was like it the right time and I had some time. So we went through some stuff, we scheduled a call and I coached him on just my approach for how I’ve built. The relationships I have with these other agencies and he went back and sent out 12 cold emails that were thoughtful and targeted and got a job right away off of those 12 emails, which is what I’ve done in the past.
It’s how I’ve built some of my long standing relationships. ’cause like you said, yes, agencies, whether they’re doing marketing, branding, creative, or even if they’re doing WordPress development, I think a pretty big opportunity to help them if you just actually show up as a person. And don’t just spam the hell out of them.
Cold email has a very bad rap around the parts of Twitter that I’m on. People hate it so bad and it’s, I get it. Not if it’s relevant. Right? Yeah. That’s the thing. I think if you show up and show people, Hey, I’m a person, not a script, not a bot, I’m a person. This is what I do. I, if you, if you need help with this, I would love to help you and opportunities come up that way.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. I think there’s also. When I did a lot of agency stuff, so many clients have such a bad experience. You’re under the shadow of every previous agency or web person that they’ve worked with before. Yeah. That just by showing up, being positive, having good communication. Adding value, being caring about their business, like it’s such, you like way up there.
EZ Smith: That’s the thing, man. If you have studied business, entrepreneurship, any of this stuff for any amount of time, you’ll hear all of that stuff you just said, and it seems so, so easy and so surface level, oh, communicate well, add value, be present, be personable. It’s hard as hell to actually do that stuff consistently, and I think a lot of people don’t.
I’ve definitely had little issues here and there that I’m not proud of over the years, but I think if you can do that stuff 85, 90% of the time, it really does set you ahead of the pack and that’s, I’ve started sharing a little more content about that on my Twitter recently of if you’re, whether you’re freelancing, building like a micro agency or like a full on agency like.
From my perspective, one of the biggest things is just being personable, being approachable, and building those actual relationships. ’cause it’s cliche, but like for real, people do business with people. So whether you’re a freelancer, a consultant, a contractor, like people are gonna have to know and trust you to do work with you or do work with your business or your agency or your brand, or whatever it may be.
Chris Badgett: Love that. I think you have a course in you. It’s already validated with that person, but it’s, I’m thinking like the white label agency system or something like that. I think there’s a tendency with, ’cause you’ve been in it 15 years, oh my gosh. WordPress Agency success, like, how do I teach that? But like that specific problem.
Oh, how to do, how to go from zero to three agency, white label agency clients is like a really compelling, focused offer.
EZ Smith: It’s funny, man, I had a, a very famous Twitter influencer hit my DMS last week. Good to get me in his program to do just that. Okay. Apparently you’re not the only one who thinks that.
I’m still wrapping my head around the idea of being a course creator and coach. I know we spoke briefly before the stream started, like it’s something I’m very interested in, but that’s another layer. So I told you earlier on that I felt like for the longest time I had like the imposter syndrome or like I wasn’t good enough to.
To build a personal brand. That’s one of the next layers I’m working through is yes, people are finding value and even winning projects based on the information I’m able to give them. But have I done it enough? Have I made enough money? Like I don’t even this, these are arbitrary things, but in my head it’s maybe I need to make another a hundred thousand per year by myself and then I’m good enough to start down the teaching model.
Or may maybe I need to have. 15 active white label agency partners at a time instead of just five like I have now. And it’s obviously that that’s a slippery slope of, oh, you’ll never be good enough. But that’s the next thing I’m working through. And hopefully I’ll work through it as this year goes on.
’cause I, I’d like to move into that space, but I don’t feel like I’m quite there yet. I feel like I’m close, but I need to do a little bit more. I need to refine my processes a little bit more and then I can start down that path.
Chris Badgett:I’ve been in this info product space for about 14 years and the best experts, subject matter experts, all have imposter syndrome, all are very slow to roll out.
And then when they finally do, they’re like, why didn’t I do that five years ago? Yeah. But I, yeah, I think it is just common. Just that whole thing of am I ready and you can don’t discount 15 years of experience and then also, The highest odds of success from what I’ve seen is when you help a previous version of yourself.
So what I’ve heard that a lot. Yeah. Which is where you’re at. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s just all, everything’s in alignment. Like what you do, what you talk about on social media, what products you make. You’re not just spotting a business opportunity like and chasing it.
EZ Smith: I think that’s incredibly impactful and powerful to hear.
I think one of the things from my mindset that’s weird, I’m earning a high living right now. I’m doing okay for myself money-wise with the solo thing, the way it’s set up. But right now I get paid for doing right, like pe people might come to know and trust me for my knowledge, but at the end of the day, all of the revenue and all of the income is based on fulfilling services.
So I know it’s a mindset unlock piece for me to feel worthy or good enough to get paid for my knowledge and not just for executing on services. So that’s like a shift. And maybe you’ve seen people yourself go through that or people that you work with, but it’s like that’s one of those next steps or next hurdles to get over is okay, yeah, I know people are resonating with my content or my experience or the thing, the insights and lessons I share, but it’s, am I ready to get paid for that?
Or is that just like the free stuff I’ll put out there in the ether and then I get paid at the end of the day for grinding it out? ’cause I’m having some long days right now to fulfill on this work. So it’s, can I get paid or am I good enough to get paid for what’s in here? Or just from being behind the computer building the websites.
Chris Badgett: I’ve definitely experienced that also as just a manager, as a leader sometimes. As I started managing people and stuff like that, sometimes you feel like, oh, I’m not doing enough ’cause I’m not doing as much. Yeah. But I’m spending this time thinking about like employee challenges, business structure, all this stuff.
So what I was doing is I was discounting. I felt less productive even though I was doing all this head work. Yeah. So it’s like you just not equally valuing. The doing, the management, the, the instructional design, product creator part of it.
EZ Smith: I’ll tell you why I think that is too. So I come from a very blue collar background of people who do like physical labor, like paint houses, do body work, cars.
So it’s for me, like I’ve seen some people do okay in those spaces, but it’s always been based on grinding it out more. It’s like you want to earn more overtime a fabricator, you work more hours. And so it’s hardwired and my brain and my d n a and my subconscious of, okay, if I wanna grow my business right now, I sell more web development projects and then I grind it out and more harder and just do more hours to earn more income, which is obviously a terrible long-term business model.
Like it’s not a sustainable business model. You have a ceiling on what you can possibly physically fulfill yourself. And I know that. But it’s hard to work. It’s hard to unlock and shift past that ’cause it’s just like in there subconsciously. So I’m working on it. I’m working on it.
Chris Badgett: There’s a funny inverse to that, like my first year working for myself, I think I made around $5,000 and I had a young family and it was really tough.
And like you’re saying, you made the $30 an hour, $300, then two months of famine. You weren’t. Yeah. Back then you weren’t,
EZ Smith: I was living at home, man. Yeah. I was living with my mom in Atlanta, had moved up to where she was. Yeah. So 300 bucks then and I was walking around tall and proud, but okay. 300 bucks in my pocket and a paid off car and cheap insurance.
Chris Badgett: One of, one of the frameworks I use like to do the course C stuff is, like I say, you gotta wear a five hats, which is you have to be a subject matter expert. You clearly are, you have to be a teacher, like an instructional designer. You have the ability to chunk that knowledge into usable pieces and create content and stuff.
And then you have to be a community builder, which you’ve already built a huge community on Twitter that’s in your niche. You have to be an entrepreneur, which you’re obviously good at as well. And you have to be a technologist, which you already are. So you pretty much got like everything.
EZ Smith: So you tell to get over myself and answer.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah. I think the, I think the biggest thing that I’ve also heard helps people is to make it about service and focusing outward and like just get outta your own way of like how much money you wanna make or your imposter syndrome. And be like, I see these WordPress builders struggling to get clients and have a nice lifestyle and I can really help just make it about them.
And then all, sometimes that gets all the other stuff out of the way.
EZ Smith: See that? That’s actually a big motivator for me. So one of the reasons I’ve talked about this a little bit. One of the reasons I don’t like the, like solopreneur path is ’cause I feel like it is too, honestly. Sometimes I feel like it’s too selfish as far as being able to impact and build up other people.
That’s probably why I lost so much money in the past with some of the businesses I ran because I tried to pour in and nurture and develop people. ’cause I’ve always felt called to build others up. I think early in my career I’ve just. I didn’t have a lot of people that, that poured into me, and I always did desire that I had to just figure it out over some very lumpy, hard won lessons and failures.
So I’ve always wanted to be able to do that within my business or within my community. I think that’s probably why I enjoy sharing stuff is just hoping that five people read it and they’re like, holy crap, I needed that. So that, that, that’s impactful for you to hear me tell that back to me because I know that about myself and it’s a nice reminder too.
Lean back into that calling and that purpose part of it.
Chris Badgett: Again, another thing you can do is actually launch a mini course for free. That’s just an idea. Yeah. Like one time I launched, a long time ago, I started making WordPress videos, tutorials, and then I put a course on Udemy about how to build a WordPress website in a weekend.
And then fast forward four years later in my agency, there’s this guy applying to work with me. As a developer and he had said he had taken that course on Udemy and that’s what got him into WordPress. I’m like, oh, wow. I had an impact on this guy’s life. And then he was able to go to a different country to go to university and stuff, and it was just like, whoa, this.
That’s pretty cool that you can affect people in that way. Yeah.
EZ Smith: There’s not much better, man. Like I told you that I, I did that coaching call with that person to send out those 12 emails. It wasn’t an ego thing for me, but it literally made my heart feel good. I was telling my wife about it, just beaming with happiness for the dude.
I was like, I know how scary and how anxiety ridden that is to go put yourself out there and ask for work and try to build those relationships, and it’s like knowing that just a little bit of help, a little bit of guidance from what I know might’ve helped push over the hump that he was going through.
To get that first gig by doing that. Like it, that, that shit, that stuff feels amazing to, to be able to help people like that and give back.
Chris Badgett: And when you help entrepreneurs, I. They send out like a ripple of that goes of value that goes out into the world. So not only are you helping them, you’re helping their clients be more successful and who have customers.
It’s, it’s a huge impact when you serve entrepreneurs. What lemme just say another way to get unstuck with a thing is the Skittle method. Have you heard of this? Which just stands for Screw it, do it Live. So if you find yourself in like instructional design quicksand, and you’re like, oh, perfectionism and everything like that.
By running. You can call it whatever you want. You can call it like a workshop or a challenge or a course, a live course or a class or whatever. And let’s say it, it meets once a week for six weeks, and you deliver a training, you give ’em some stuff to do in between. And then you record it and that becomes the first version of your course.
That live method is helps some people get going. And it’s also really cool ’cause it has the feedback loop of real human beings on the call. Yeah. So it challenges all your assumptions of, oh, I wasn’t completely clear about this, or they have this other question. So that’s another powerful way to do it.
EZ Smith: Heck yeah, I like that man. That’s one of my favorite things. I love interacting with people. I’ve always been a people person. I don’t know if I’m technically introverted or extroverted. I know that I love talking to people and when I don’t, don’t feel good. So I guess that’s probably classical extroversion.
But doing live stuff and actually interacting with people definitely would make sense to, to work through it. So you’re talking about getting stuck in the creator quicksand. Like I said, I have stacks of notebooks here on this desk beside me and paper. So I definitely tend to do that of if I sit down to have a strategy, the strategy will be too complex.
So it’s either overthought or F it, just do it. Maybe that is more my style to just do the Skittle method than I’ll keep that in mind.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, and I’ve heard the time box helps too in just making you accountable. And I learned a method once from somebody who. He forces himself to make courses on an airplane where he has some index cards.
Yeah. And before the plane lands, so he is got four hours or three hours or whatever it is. He is gotta figure out, okay, what’s the problem? State, what’s the solution state, what are the steps? And by the end he is got like a stack of cards for the curriculum basically. Nice. And it’s also a, because the index card is small, it forces you to not expand infinitely into the quicksand.
EZ Smith: That’s genius. ’cause I usually own like full eight and a half by 11 papers or big sketchbooks and 150 pages and it just goes and goes, and goes. Do you have, let me ask you this, man, you’ve been in the info space long. I. What do you think? Like how do you determine what’s the, we use the M V P, the minimal viable product thing a lot in software websites or whatever, but like how do you apply that same sort of idea to a course regardless of the format, how you decide this is enough of a problem and I have enough of a solution to do it, that it’s actually valuable.
Chris Badgett: I think there’s two questions in there. One is like focusing the topic and like the selection, and the other is like creating the M V P version of the course. Like the Skittle method is basically an M V P. Yeah. In the sense that it’s raw. Most course creators will then take that and redo it. They’ll either run it live again with another cohort or do a more polished version without a live audience or whatever.
Yeah. And there’s also, I should say there’s two types of course creators. That you need to figure out what you want to do, which is some people make like their signature system and then they just keep making it better and better. And there’s this other type that like is more of a serial entrepreneur and they’re like, okay, I’m gonna make a course about this.
I’m gonna do a white label agency, then I’m gonna do this other problem that WordPress designers have. And they start building like a membership kind of catalog of many courses. So I would think, which way you want to go? There’s not a right or wrong answer, but going back. All of those things have either mini courses or like a signature program all have a problem at the center of ’em.
So if you put the WordPress professional are you a mind mapper? You know what it is?
EZ Smith: I know the term. I’m not sure what it is exactly.
Chris Badgett: No, it’s like you draw bubbles and lines and connections on paper to connect thoughts. Like I’m doing a mind map with you right now as I come up with what I’m gonna, what I’m gonna interview you about, like what connects to what Nice.
But basically the way I learned this is you put your target, your ideal customer profile at the center, and then not even thinking about what course does easy wanna make. What are the five top problems that my avatar has for you getting CL or for a WordPress professional getting clients Big problem.
Yeah. Yeah. Managing people. Big problem. Yeah. What’s another one? Help me out here. Like contracts,
EZ Smith: terms, payments, payment processing. Yeah, so communication project management where you keep your, so business systems.
Chris Badgett: Business systems, there’s another one closing the sale. There’s another one. I’m sure there’s more.
But find the five like main problems and then you figure out like what’s the most red hot? If there’s one, what is it? And it’s probably getting clients. Clients. Always sales.
EZ Smith: Always. Yeah. Yeah. So if you don’t have any money, you can’t figure out the other stuff.
Chris Badgett: And that’s why I latched onto what you were saying earlier about, oh, this white label niche, that’s a total niche.
So it’s not just like how to get clients as an agency. It’s, there’s a unique mechanism here. Oh yeah. So there’s a guy, I don’t have his book right in front of me. His name’s Dane Maxwell. I interviewed him on the podcast. I highly recommend you check out that episode. Yeah. On l m s cast. But Dan. Kind of wild.
He has this thing called idea extraction and all this stuff. He does, he even played a song on the podcast. But anyways, one of his songs. Yeah, he’s, he took a break from helping entrepreneurs and became a musician for a while.
EZ Smith: But anyways, oh man, I’d love to see that. I have a music background, so I’d love to get checked that out.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, he’s cool. But his whole thing is like customer result mechanism is the Holy Grail business. So result, get clients, customer WordPress. A freelancer, whoever, however you want to niche that down. And then the unique mechanism is, is there. And what a lot of course creators do is they overfocus on the mechanism.
Like they don’t choose a customer avatar. You’re already focused. A lot of people are like unfocused and then they don’t pick a clear result. They’re like, oh, agency success. What does that mean? It’s too vague, too broad. So that’s, and then it’s. Chunking it down. So in order to go from zero to hero, what are the milestones we need to cross?
And then you can use something like the rule of thirds to be like, okay, if there were three sections in this course, then there were three action items in each section that needs to happen to fulfill the milestone. What would those be? And that you can, that’s like a general framework for a course template,
EZ Smith: but to go through a course on creating courses.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, you should check out our, we have a course plan challenge. It’s like a five day thing that’s, I was gonna, I was
EZ Smith: gonna go look and see what content you had about creating, we got off this call.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. But yeah, the, so yeah. Clear problem. Clear result. A unique mechanism. The unique mechanism is important.
If it’s just everything rehash, it’s there. The other thing I’ll add that’s not obvious is the support mechanism which you’d be into ’cause you like people. Yeah. There’s like synchronous asynchronous group and one-on-one. So like an example of asynchronous one-on-one is like email support. Okay.
Asynchronous group is like social media, Facebook group, private Facebook group or discord server, slack community, whatever. Synchronous would be like weekly office hours, mastermind, live group coaching call, and then private coaching call or whatever. And that’s how you’re able to charge more. It’s really about the support.
Your content and your mechanism matters. But the reason Masterclass is only $15 a month is like Steve Martin’s not gonna help you with your jokes. Yeah. But he’s got some great content. But this, there’s no support. So that’s don’t undervalue. Imagine that person you helped on Twitter. If you had like a Zoom call and there were 10 people on there, you would have a huge impact on those people.
Yeah. And they would really value it. So just brainstorm with you and the M V P thing like, There’s people who create courses that are nothing that you’ve heard of. Gumroad, I imagine. Oh yeah. So like the product is literally like A P D F and it’s a course and there’s people that have really successful stuff ’cause they have a really cool mechanism and process that works for a certain type of person.
So you can get as fancy or is not perfectionist as you want, but ideally not perfectionist. Otherwise it’ll never launch.
EZ Smith: Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Man, it took so long my, my first few. Websites were terrible. Mm-hmm. 10 or 15 websites I built were probably terrible. It took a while to, to build up the skills and the momentum and the expertise.
So I guess this is no different of just diving in and getting started without overthinking it. I like that Skittle method a lot. I’ve never heard that acronym, but yeah, the, the Twitter personality who reached out to me the other week, hi. His guy who was doing the sales call suggested a very similar thing to me, was like, just do it if, if you’re getting stuck trying to create.
The content, do it live and record it, and then that’s your first version. And I’ve never thought of that. And you just said the same thing, so maybe that’s a sign of something I should really check out.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, and like the whole signature program thing is a trap sometimes where, oh, I’m creating the ultimate system.
It’s gotta be perfect. But. If you do a mini course first, take the pressure off. Maybe even, don’t even choose what you’re saving for, like your magnum opus work and do something around another problem that isn’t the number one, but just to give yourself permission to like just get some reps in.
EZ Smith: That’s another way to think about that.
That makes sense. ’cause that’s been like the core of my advice that I’ve given family, friends, people who are trying to get going into career is to literally get the reps in that. That was one of the things I noticed a couple of people I helped over dms. Was, oh, what’s the secret to getting clients? I was like, there’s, there’s not a secret.
The secret is to start trying to get clients and to try to get clients consistently for five years, and in five years you’ll be really damn good at it. Like you have to get, the secret is to get started. That’s another example though of what I was saying at the very beginning of our talk of I know this and could easily tell somebody else exactly what to do.
But it’s hard to hold up a mirror to yourself and let that same advice come back to you. It’s easier to give it out ’cause you really do know it, but it’s like it’s harder to take your own medicine.
Chris Badgett: A hundred percent. A hundred percent easy. I, I just checked the time. I’m like, holy cow. Where about last 30 minutes go, but we’re getting near the end.
What? Tell us about your world and what your plans are. You’ve got a great Twitter account. I see you have a newsletter. Yeah. What, where, what’s your vision for what you wanna do? Even if it’s not entirely done yet, or, yeah.
EZ Smith: In process, like I said, man, I’m definitely still working through it. I know I cannot work solo by myself on the fulfillment side forever.
So one of the big things I’m trying to go through now is literally figuring out the economics of my business model. ’cause right now the economics of my business model, when you do white label work for other agencies, you have to be priced pretty competitively because they’re not. The bulk of the budget is going to them as the agency.
So you’re doing just a small piece of the work. So your pricing model is more in line with a really good freelancer or contractor. It’s not, you don’t have as high of margins as operating a traditional agency yourself. So I’m trying to figure out the economics, how it’s scalable. If I need to pivot a little bit, if I need to.
I refine it somehow because I do want to build a team, a small team. I do want to build a business that has value outside of me. I’ve, I feel like I’ve proven many times over my career now, the value of myself as an individual, but the entrepreneur drive in me is to build a business that has value apart from me.
Like I’m, I wanna take everything I know and pour it into the business, but at some point in time, I want to be able to be. Away from it and the business to still be valuable to our customers, our clients, our members. You know how, however, the model is, I want the business to be able to deliver value and to be worth something aside from me, because right now, obviously in the solo kind of setup, as I just do more and more fulfillment, I’m spending a lot of time trying to build my personal brand up this year.
And then I’m spending a lot of time just doing what I’ve always been doing, which is building the websites, be behind closed doors. So like I want to build something that has value apart from me and be able to pour into and invest and mentor people to help them as well, which I feel like being an entrepreneur is one of the best ways to do that.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I had a business coach, his name was Dan Martel, and he said, build the machine that builds the machine. Yeah.
EZ Smith: Is is because I’ve read E-Myth Built to Sell all over. Like I said, I’ve been studying this stuff forever, man. You’re talking about. Signature Systems. I’ve gone through some productized service.
I’ve worked with Sam Sheer from Testimonial Hero, so like I’ve got all of this stuff bouncing around in here.
Chris Badgett: It’s just, it’s called The Experts Curse. You have it. It’s, oh, man. Yeah, and you’ve probably heard that term before as well.
EZ Smith: It like, I’m at the point where I don’t want any more information. I need to just shut everything off and go to work.
But yeah. That’s awesome. That’s legitimate. Potentially one day sellable business. And then on the personal side, man, I’ve got a bunch of projects that I’d like to build. My schedule keeps getting away from it, but I’ve got a lot of personal projects I’d like to build that are for our community of WordPress and web professionals, some different communities and sites and platforms that I think would really be helpful for the community and fun for me to do something that’s not for clients, but for the community.
So hopefully I’ll be able to carve out some time to get started on those this year.
Chris Badgett: Do you do any annual planning?
EZ Smith: Yes, and yes and no. I did some annual planning at the beginning of this year. The end of last year. Yeah. It didn’t really stick.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. There’s another course on the LifterLMS Academy site that it’s free.
That is, it’s an annual planning system that I, I learned the technique, most of that technique, and it, it goes further out. It’s like a, what’s your 10 year vision, your three year mission? And it all rolls down, but into a document template. And I found when I implemented that, it’s, I just started getting, of course things change and come up and everything, but it really helped me like, Get more on track or whatever.
So maybe check that out.
EZ Smith: I’d like to, man. Yeah, de definitely send me that link or I’ll go looking for it, but I’m trying to, I’m a creative person by nature, like you can’t see it. I’ve got guitar in the background here and do a lot of songwriting, so it’s easy for me to get excited about all these different ideas and tangents.
So being able to pull it back down and focus on one for a long period of time is, is what I’m working on this year.
Chris Badgett: If you haven’t heard it already. Another thing just to put a feather in your hat is that your vibe attracts your tribe. Yeah. I’ve read a lot of the same books as you, and so that’s why we’re resonating on it.
Oh, I like this guy on Twitter. Here we are in a conversation. There’s a guy, John Tendo, who’s watching the live stream who wants to connect with you, it’s yeah, like just being you. Yeah. Is all is you’re there. So that, and that can, if you want to do courses and other stuff, like you already have, your vibe is already attracting these people.
Appreciate that man. You’re already further down the road than you think is what say. Yeah. Appreciate that a lot Chris. Easy. Thanks for coming on. Absolutely, man. Thanks for having me. For those of you watching or listening, go follow Easy on Twitter at the WP Rockstar. Any final words for the people?
EZ Smith: Yeah, man. Just to put in the reps, have some vision and some belief, and don’t quit. That’s the biggest thing, man. I’ve been at it for a long time, so the biggest secret is to stay in the game and you’ll eventually have some wins.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Thanks for coming on the show. Easy. We’ll have to check in maybe a couple of years down the road.
Do another episode. Thanks for coming.
EZ Smith: Thanks Chris. Appreciate you, man
Chris Badgett: Have a great day. And that’s a wrap for this episode of L M S Cast. 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 slash gift.
Go to LifterLMS.com/gift. Keep learning. Keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.