How to Build a Niche WordPress LMS Client Services and Hosting Company with Eric Gracieta

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In this LMScast episode, Eric shares his experience with using LifterLMS for creating online courses. He also talks about the hosting issues he faced with major hosting providers and the high costs involved in upgrading plans during traffic spikes.

Eric Gracieta is owner of WP Unchained, a managed WordPress hosting service. Eric created WP Unchained to solve the hosting problems of clients. Eric’s agency is called Brockway Production.

He talks about his solution to this problem, WP Unchained, which is a “done-for-you” hosting service that looks at the site’s pain points and tries to solve them. He explains that hosting LMS and CRM websites can be more challenging as they may need more powerful servers to handle spikes in traffic and CPU utilization.

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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. State of 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 Eric Gracieta. He’s from France, he is been in WordPress for a very long time. He’s a power user of LifterLMS. His agency is called Brockway Production, and he’s built a really cool project called WP, which we’ll get into in the show. But first, welcome to the call. Eric,

Eric Gracieta: Thank you for Amy.

Chris Badgett: I love getting a chance to talk to people in the WordPress community, people who build cool things with LifterLMS. Where did your LifterLMS story begin? What, how long ago was that and what happened?

Eric Gracieta: Oh, it was like a long time ago already, like a few version back, I think. Well, I am created for a client yoga online courses. Okay. With a lot, a lot of courses. And yeah, there has been up and down mostly the done, mostly route to hosting. So yes, that’s what what we gonna talk right now, I think. But yeah, and it begins there. And after that like some I have add some issue with hosting with, for other site and everything. And so this is why I created the, the broadband chain right now.

Chris Badgett: Well, tell us, tell us about WP Unchained. What, what is it?

Eric Gracieta: Basically it’s done for you hosting solution. Not, maybe not solution, but service. Like we look at your site, what, what are your main pain issue with that and your currenting? And we try to solve that. Mm, of course we do, but. But yeah, we, I I want to solve the hosting problem of many users that use lms CRM and stuff like that on that really taking off lately on WordPress.

Chris Badgett: So what kind of problems does your hosting solve? Like why did you go to the, all the effort to make it?

Eric Gracieta: I think maybe I, I had some client with Mar like major hosting solution. Maybe we can name those. I’m not sure. Yeah,

Chris Badgett: That’s fine. That’s.

Eric Gracieta: Fine. Okay. Yeah. Okay. Like the kinta and those sort of things. And despite like spending half a thousand or thousand dollar a per month and more, sometimes there was still some issue with Don time. And, and slow, not because of services bad per se. But because of like s site and other sites like that, you, you can have use, use spike of traffic. And sometime for that you need to have a plan like is like 4,000 a month or more.

And you don’t need that like the whole month of course, just maybe during the strike, but it’s end costing a lot of money and a lot of issue with downtime when you need to reach for someone to upgrade your account and everything. So, or find your issue, so yeah, this is why I credit that. So I take care of that for them and everyone is happy, I guess.

Chris Badgett: So that is very cool. Very cool. What what makes the, you know, the, the more complex sites like the l m s websites harder to host, or they need better, you know, more unique hosting?

Eric Gracieta: Yeah, sometime it’s maybe because of limitation per they in place by the hosting providers to upsell you sometimes is that, or sometimes it is. The issue is that, yeah, you just need more poor, poor effort, powerful servers to enter energy, your spike and, and maybe this provider doesn’t provide that by default, you need to go to an like country representative or salesperson, and then we got you, like your huge, huge crowd, all that. So yeah, sometime, sometime it’s not the best to go for those type of host.

Sometime it’s really good depend on your site and your use case. For example, if you, if we deviate from LMS site, like CRM site, like that allow you to send a lot of emails in short amount of time when you monitor that, it creates a use spike of traffic and of C P U utilization and ization of the server when you send it, because you need a lot of power to send that. And you need a lot of power to handle the visits that the campaign is giving you.

Because if you send the campaign, nobody is clicking and visiting, then you have another issue. But if the campaign is successful, yeah, you will have a huge spike of traffic and you need to under that properly. So of course you have ging caching solution for that. But if you sell something, obviously at, at, at a moment in your campaign, people will, will eat a non cage space, for example, cart

Chris Badgett: Dashboard, studio.

Eric Gracieta: Yeah. A dashboard. A course obviously will maybe not be cashed, depend on the, on the course or, or the dashboard of your lms if they, is there a lot of anchor active element or like start and everything you want, you don’t want that to be cashed. So Yeah. In, in case of lms Yeah. When a lot of people are taking one course at the same time or hitting that dashboard, or maybe you lost an event special event.

Yeah. You need those people to, to not have a cash version of the page. So this is where you can have issue with Spike because Yes. Asked, asked a lot of people as the same server, so they will right limit you so you don’t impact like the 10,000 or they asked on the same server. Yeah. So

Chris Badgett: That makes sense. And on the, on a CRM site, are you talking about a, a WordPress site that hosts the CRM with like Groundhog or fluent crm, something like that?

Eric Gracieta: Yeah, stuff like that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Other clients that like have 400 front hundred K contacts on Wow. On the crm. So when they send the campaign, yeah, it’s pretty hard.

Chris Badgett: Neat. Yeah,

Eric Gracieta: I’ve always traffic,

Chris Badgett: I’ve always been fascinated with the WordPress CRMs are good, you know, so like if you can do it on WordPress, maybe you don’t need the male champ or the Active Campaign or the convert kit or whatever. Yeah.

Eric Gracieta: That, that was the main issue was us with this client with front K contacts, like

Chris Badgett: That would be very expensive,

Eric Gracieta: Right? Yeah. Active campaign was not an option. Like, if you are, if you already have like a hundred K, it’s like you, you don’t even have a a section for that on, on the website. It’s like call and call is mean, mean, like we will take all your money.

Chris Badgett: Oh, call for price. Yeah.

Eric Gracieta: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, for those of you out there listening and watching, go check out WP That’s really cool what you’ve done there to, you know, provide more value and serve those niche websites that are, are, they’re more complex, they’re heavier, like not all. When the website is a C R M or an L M S or an e-commerce store, you know, those websites need to do a lot. And w it is funny, like you said, when people get successful on some of the, the major popular hosts out there, the price goes up exponentially. Yeah. But does it really need to, you know, and yeah, I’m

Eric Gracieta: Not that sure. Yeah, because, because I I’m not sure that you need that, like more support or more anything. Yeah. Maybe it’s cost them a little bit more to us user and 10 K client, but you, I don’t think you need more support or more anything, because if you’re successful with the platform, you already know the platform in and in and out. So maybe you cost them even less on support and stuff like that. So I’m not sure why it’s so exponential, actually. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Well, tell us about Brockway production. When did you first, what year did you first start building websites?

Eric Gracieta: Oh, it’s almost 10 years ago, so I’m getting old, I guess. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: And was that with WordPress right away?

Eric Gracieta: Yeah. Yeah. I, I kind of created, like when I was younger with Ash, like by hand.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Eric Gracieta: Like when I was maybe 15 or something like that. And so more than 15 years ago, so and after that, yeah, I was like, hmm. It’s kind of tedious to redo everything every time. So I found like WordPress and when it was a time, like you have to choose between WordPress dr or stuff like that, and I, I dunno, WordPress like ticket or the right box for me and like seeing that 10 years later, yeah, I think I made the right choice.

Chris Badgett: I actually started with Ruple in 2007 or something like that, but yeah, I came to WordPress in 2008 and never looked back. Tell us tell us about your agency. Like what kind of projects do you do there?

Eric Gracieta: The agency is mainly website building, like small website l m s website. And mostly, mostly since day we do eCommerce website. So yeah, sometime LMS and eCommerce mix up together also. But yeah, mostly that, and this is why I created Prevent Chain because this is basically a service that I was provided providing for those clients without, without really creating a page from my website or an official page to describe this service or any website to describe that. It was like, okay, I have I have clients that have this need. I created a service for them, like just for them. And no, I releasing that to the world.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s awesome. What do you love about WooCommerce or what are, what are, tell us some stories from your WooCommerce experience.

Eric Gracieta: Is, that’s something I like and some I don’t like for sure with WooCommerce. What I like, it’s a really ecosystem. Like, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. Like 99% of the time. Some, someone will have come with a solution for the problem that you are facing or your client is facing. So it’s great to have that big ecosystem that I can’t find anywhere else, like in Shopify, posta shop or stuff like that.

So yeah. And it’s really open, have a lot of s to work with write a great documentation. There’s a lot to love with w performance not Ready. Yeah, it’s improving finally. But yeah, there, there is a way to improve performance, I’m sure, further with w and I think they are on the right path, do that. But yeah, pretty much loving bu and think it was like with lms, current lms, like Lift LMS work, like it work great together. So nothing much to complain. Very.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Do you work with people all over the world or are they focused in, in France or Europe or in the US or what?

Eric Gracieta: Yeah, I have, I have a lot of client around the world, like in Europe, a lot of client in America also, and some at other places, but mostly Europe and America. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: I think you said you started with LifterLMS on a yoga site what, with a lot of courses. What, what was going on there? Like what did the client want? Were they trying to go all online or they had a studio too, or what?

Eric Gracieta: No, actually they wanted to sell like yoga videos and they, yeah. And I kind of it was a, at first it was a failing project really, because the the developer before me that come to the project, like never deliver really anything concrete, and it was buggy and nothing was really working. So I come to the project like, and I was like, Hmm, not sure, like you want to sell videos like that.

People want to add to the download and everything, maybe do a online courses. So but much come with another business platform them, and they say, okay. And so we created with of the world learning experience with one courses for, and one courses for that kind of yoga Uganda and that develop into several Android courses actually.

Chris Badgett: Wow, that’s a lot of courses.

Eric Gracieta: Yeah. And with a lot of, with dedicated like teachers and everything. And yes, I kind of work really well for them, so, and they, they were selling like course by course, and after a while we say, okay, maybe sell a subscription we with that was possible with Lift our MS also. So that was great. And yeah, so from there the project was sky rocketed.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That’s really cool. What what do you like most about LifterLMS

Eric Gracieta: Sad to pick.

Chris Badgett: Or what are some things you really enjoy about it?

Eric Gracieta: One thing I really enjoy about it was like the flexibility of it. Like it work with, obviously it work with like all measure builders and you have, you don’t have to have everything in one plugin. Like you can add add-ons to the to lift LMS and only use what you want to use. So yeah, I like that.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. What other go ahead.

Eric Gracieta: No, especially on the performance side of things like <laugh>, the less you have and I think better performance you can get. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Yeah, and especially with like a hundred courses or whatever, I mean, you start, you got, it’s gotta be performant. What what other tools do you love to use

Eric Gracieta: With Lifts?

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Or just in your webs, in your l m s websites in general. What else you like to use? Woocommerce what

Eric Gracieta: Else? Commerce. I like crm. Yeah. Because where I use CRM is maybe lot of the time with, for example, Dubble Fusions.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Eric Gracieta: But I, I’m sure you know about that. Yeah. And with Dubble Fusion, like you pretty much can create a membership with needing a membership plugin. So that’s what I like about that. And it worked really great with Lift lms. It worked great with crm, and with that you can create real, a membership repro, a phone membership system. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Or do you like a particular page builder or native WordPress or what?

Eric Gracieta: I used to used building with these really, like, really like Elementor?

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Eric Gracieta: Less than less this day because there are a lot of bugs issues and I raise like GI busy issues with some of measure bug that I, I had with Elementor, and maybe it takes sometimes two years, six months or whatever to fix them. So I tend to look at other builder. Right now I’m not like, decided if I want to permanently switch, but I like, for example, let test one break dance.

Chris Badgett: Break dance.

Eric Gracieta: Yeah. I like this one. I, I don’t choose that for client yet, but I’m starting to use it to get a feel of it. And I think I like it more and more, but yeah, final Elementor, maybe I’d switch to something else. I’m not sure. But yeah, I think, yeah, yeah, that is better than Elementor right now. It’s like maybe a turning point maybe. So this days, days lot of good solution coming up, so yeah, like D and WordPress like 15 years ago maybe. Right now there is a lot of competition and I think it’s good.

Chris Badgett: What for the other WordPress agency people out there what advice do you have for getting clients? So if you’ve been doing this for 10 years,

Eric Gracieta: You’ve

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Figured out how to build a business. Like how do you get clients or, and make your business profitable?

Eric Gracieta: Actually I finding the first client was like, really hard.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Eric Gracieta: And I guess take really good care of your client and they will recommend you because I, this day, obviously we are doing a podcast right now, and maybe I celebr doing some business, I don’t know. But mostly right now all my new client are a recommendation from existing clients. So yeah, I tend to take great care of my client and they are pretty, they really want to recommend me to their friend and other partner businesses. Yeah,

Chris Badgett: That’s great. Word of mouth. Yeah, it does spread. Like people talk to people, so take, take good care of your

Eric Gracieta: People, and people tend to want to ro to recommend something to their friend, or, or Yeah, if they, I don’t know. It’s, it’s like, do you know someone? And they are pretty proud to say, yeah, I’m never a guy.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. So be that guy that’s, that the, that they like. what do you remember when you were first shopping for an l m s, why you chose Lifter or, you know, there’s several WordPress LMSs, and I know. You know, you’re WP Unchained can also work with Learn Dash, but, and then when you first came on to Lifter, why why did you, why did you make that decision? Do you remember?

Eric Gracieta: I think like there were, there were a free tribe and I just try it and like it, so I say, okay, let’s go. And no, I asked a lot of clients and I tested a lot of lms, like yeah, Ronda and Ls like that, and they are great more. They are, yeah. I think in some case maybe you can choose one over the other, and it’s like, maybe you have, you have to really try to know what maybe which one is better for you, and one thing is great, then you can try lift medicine for free.

And yeah, it’s a great entry point actually. So, and after that, yeah your, your site is successful and so maybe you take an island because you want to add a tell bit more and another addon and yeah, you get like, you get the foot on the door, I think and yes, there was no like reason, like it was more performing or it was more something like just you give me the opportunity to try it for free. So I I took it.

Chris Badgett:

There you go. That’s awesome. Who is a perfect fit customer for WP

Eric Gracieta: Perfect fit would be someone with successful lms good. Like with someone with a EZ that a lot of hurdle and obviously someones that have a lot of contacts in their friends CRM, autonomy or whatever, crm, whatever CRM they use, because yeah, like builder CRM are like popping auto everywhere on WordPress. So if you have a, yeah, a lot of contact on your cm, you will face like issues for sure at some point or another, like the websites ring down or, or going or totally going down because you have to many requests or the database or, or engines or whatever issue can happen there.

Mostly if we look at and everything mostly it’s concurrent users because they limit you on the number of it’s maybe it’s a bit technical on p p workers, you have to them. And so yeah, with a limited amount of p p workers, you have a little, a limited amount of concurrent user you can serve at the same time. So if you have a lot of traffic and cash traffic, because cash traffic is itself like very, very fast and yeah, you, I think you are good potential customer because those company will charge a lot for like thousands sometimes of the from, yeah, I talk about a lot about price because I know, but yeah. 

Chris Badgett: I’ve seen it too where people end up on, like, they start, you know, and then they grow and all of a sudden they’re on like this giant $4,000 a month or some really expensive for their WooCommerce Yeah. Or their LifterLMS.

Eric Gracieta: Yeah. They don’t even have dedicated resources. That’s the worst about them. They’re still, like, when they’re on a thousand plan or thousand dollar month plant, they, they’re not even the only one on their server. There are like maybe 10 people, a hundred people on the same server than them. So yeah, not that great, in my opinion. So this is why with revenge China tend to change that. Like you get your own server, so nobody if wanna you, you think it’s not share nobody, but you can crush your server. Obviously we don’t, but Yeah, and you get dedicated resource, you don’t get like if we get some may, maybe let me get some example, but yeah, for example, king Star, you get 40 gigabyte, this, this space for 200 plan. I think it’s like not a lot really.

Like I have customer like with a database like that is 20 gigabyte, so already it’s argon and maybe your image and everything is like, you really pass that, so you get to go, I and I in the plan just because I put like limitation on art drive disc. And just because they want you to go, I where when you get toed server, like maybe you have a, you have a terabyte and vme drive, and so you are good really, what is that?

So you don’t have any limitation that you have to worry about, like constantly like, oh no, I can’t add too many image because it would take too much hard drive or Yeah, also like the limit limitation on visitors on visit per month and everything. And if you do the math, actually it’s kind of abuse that it’s not very, it’s, it’s, it’s fake limitation because there will not cut you off if people like it’s 250 K visit a month because if you, if you try to do a mass about it, so it’s like obviously they have no way to count that.

And if you do the math, like tw 250 K, if you divide that by the number of day and the number of hour and the number of minutes, it’s like zero, 0.5 visitor per minute, it’s like it, you, you, you see that. It’s like they have limitations there and there to upsell you at some point. So it’s unclear what what you get ready with that.

I, this is what I feel. So when I provide like a, a server to a client, it’s, this is really clear what they get. Like you get this server that has like this C P U Ram hard drive and everything, so they know what they get and they, they get, and obviously the goal here is that I monitor everything every day. So if so with for example, king start re everything, you will eat this limitation and something will go wrong.

And obviously it’s, it’s not really good for business because while you’re sorting that you may be losing orders potential subscription and everything like that. So what the time to do is, okay, like we eat I monitor racing, and once we get above a certain level, I get back to this client and say, okay you had used PI there we eat like maybe 70% of your capabilities. Do you want us to maybe upgrade to more or for server, like get preemptive with the flag that and not like, okay, there is an issue. What can we do right now? Preempt, do preemptive maintenance and upgrades so you don’t lose any business because of issues like that.

Chris Badgett: That is awesome. Awesome. WP Check it out. Eric, thanks for coming on the show and thank you for sharing your passion for WordPress and high quality hosting and scaling. You know, allowing professionals who have a serious website on WordPress to be able to scale with a peace of mind and to sleep at night and at a fair price. That’s

Eric Gracieta: All very, yeah. You say, you say better than me. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: I’m a marketer man. But yeah, you yeah, I, I love what you’ve built here at WP Unchained. So if you’re listening to this and your site is kind of becoming, your business is turning professional, you’re getting more and more concurrent users and you’re just scaling, you have lots of stuff going on, orders are increasing, you want to get on a high quality host like WP Is there any way else people can connect with you, Eric, and any final words for the people out there?

Eric Gracieta: Yes, they can hit me on Facebook also, and I think this is where we first chatted together a long time ago, but yeah. Okay. They can email on Facebook and yeah, best, but I think the best way is if they go to the re that io and obviously they have a question or anything, there is a quick form at the bottom of the page, say, just hit me up there and I will answer all your question. Whatever we go for something or not, I’m happy to help.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thank you Eric, for coming on the show.

Eric Gracieta: Yeah. Thank you again for being me.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. And for everybody out there, go check out WP 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 [email protected] slash gift. Go to Keep keep taking action and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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