In this episode, Paul Charlton shares how he helps people by creating courses and content related to web design and WordPress, with a focus on dynamic content using tools such as advanced custom fields and jet engine.
Paul Charlton is an entrepreneur and web designer with a background in education. Paul is the founder of the WPTuts YouTube channel and his website. He has over 138K subscribers on his YouTube channel. He has a passion for creating a web design, graphic design, and multimedia content.
Paul started building websites and using multimedia tools like Dreamweaver and Flash animation in his work as an adult educator. From there, he started a design business focused on web and graphic design, branding, and more.
He has a passion for helping others learn and expand their skills and has combined that with his interests in web design and WordPress to create courses and content for others. His niche is focused on dynamic content using tools such as advanced custom fields and jet engine, which allow him to build custom post types and connect custom meta fields to create a wide range of websites.
He has an honest approach to choosing the best tools for the job and believes WordPress is moving towards a more block-based system with the introduction of Guttenberg and the upcoming WordPress 5.8 release. He prefers self-hosted solutions rather than relying on third-party platforms.
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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. stay to the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMS cast. I’m joined by a special guest, Paul Charlton. He’s from WP Tuts. Check them out on YouTube. The website is WP tuts.co.uk. Welcome to the show, Paul.
Paul Charlton: How you doing, Chris? How you doing?
Chris Badgett: I’m doing good, man, I’m doing good. You are like the epitome of what I call an education entrepreneur. So you’re a course creator, a YouTuber, a WordPress power user, and really a giver, I see you give a lot to the community and you you put your heart and soul into all your content and everything like that. It’s really impressive. Let me just take us back to the beginning, how did you fall in love with building websites,
Paul Charlton: That’s gonna be going back quite some time. And if basically, if we go back to sort of dinosaur time, I cut my teeth sort of building things for myself. But I was a an on a sort of like an educator working with adult education for the best part of 10 years. And what I started that kind of journey was with your typical at things like your databases, your work process, and those kinds of skills, it quickly evolved into me being able to bring my passion into the sort of adult education arena where I was based, which meant that I could bring in web design using tools like Dreamweaver, you know, multimedia flash animation, those types of things.
So I’ve always had a passion for creating web design for creating graphical content for dealing with digital images and things. So it just meant that I could sort of take that into my educational background, and build that into something that wasn’t really being served that much at the time. Like I said, we’re talking back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth kind of thing. So you know, it was pretty slow going.
But then kind of from that point, it meant that I could sort of move on when I kind of moved out of education, I set myself up as a business partner in a design business, that we focused on web design, graphic design, company, branding, and so on. So those kinds of I kind of like had the ability to work on both sides of the coin, as it were where I could teach people how to do something in one part of my career. And then actually the doing part.
I mean, I think they say most of the time when it comes to teachers they teach they don’t do. So I’ve kind of tried to embrace both aspects of that. And that just kind of led me on then to be unable to expand my skill set, learn more about web design, learn the different tools, and eventually end up, you know, moving over into WordPress and things like that. So I’ve kind of my background has kind of had a natural progression from education to doing to now combine the two sides of things where I can actually build things for myself, build things for clients, but also hopefully help people create better websites themselves and learn, you know, expand their skill sets.
Chris Badgett: At what point did you realize that you were kind of an entrepreneur? Because it sounds like it started with you working inside of a company or an organization? Is that right? When did that entrepreneurial thing kind of bite you?
Paul Charlton: I think I’ve always kind of had that spark. I mean, even going back to when I left school, I did an apprenticeship kind of thing. I’ve always looked at ways of integrating my passions into ways of making money. And it’s just I’ve had a a fortunate kind of time where I can actually combine passions with things that do ultimately make money. So I think pretty much from a very early age, I’ve had that entrepreneurial passion to look at ways in which I can monetize the things that I actually enjoy, as opposed to just go into work for someone else, which I think if anything these days, there’s one thing I’ve highlighted in my life is that I’m not a good employee, I’m much better doing my own thing my own way and turning that into something that ultimately helps people.
I mean, that’s the one of my biggest passions is to share the knowledge as opposed to the way he used to be going back years ago, where if you had skills and knowledge, you kind of just kept those close to your chest, you didn’t share them, because you were afraid of people knowing the skills that you’d honed over, you know, however many years, but I’ve always had that sort of thing where I would rather bowl people know about it. So the industry at large kind of benefits from it, as opposed to just a very small minority of small minded individuals as it were.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. One of the wonderful things about you is you’re a little bit of a unicorn in my book and that there’s this framework, the hipster, the hacker and the hustler. So the hipster is great at design. The hacker is great at like code and functionality and figuring out like more technical stuff. And then the hustler builds businesses you seemed to be really well balanced, it’s rare to see somebody who’s kind of firing on all three cylinders. Do that just kind of happen, or did you? Do you have any thoughts on on that balance in your life?
Paul Charlton: Thank you very much for that it’s very much appreciated, I’ve been called a lot of things, the uniform is not one of them very often. I can’t say that I made a conscious effort. But one of the things that I’ve always enjoyed is, if there’s a problem, my brain just goes into, let’s go to logical mode. And let’s look at how we solve it. And I’m kind of very OCD, when it comes to that, it’s like, if there’s a problem, I have to solve it for my own peace of mind.
So in going back to, when I set up the business, originally, myself and a partner, there was no sort of content management systems around that I particularly liked. I mean, I didn’t like WordPress, at the time, who said like version two, maybe three at a push. So it meant that I had to find ways of creating a content management system myself, that managed, my expectations was modular. And I could actually use that with with clients, excuse me.
So it meant that I had to learn skills with Dreamweaver, with coding with PHP, and, you know, looking at ASP, and those kinds of technologies, look at rapid application development tools, you know, there was quite a few different tools that were available at the time for quickly modularizing various different parts of building a website and a content management system and those kinds of connections between the tools.
So it meant that I had a need and a passion to kind of develop something that I thought fit the niche that I wanted, which meant that that kind of gives me a good understanding of how you would combine various different tools and technologies to create something that was developed in a modular fashion. The design side of things, I mean, I’ve always come from I come from an artistic background anyway, right back to my grandfather. So design has always been something that I’ve had a bit of a passion for, I can’t say I’m brilliant at it. But I think I’ve got enough to be dangerous. And I can probably cover most things, maybe a little bit longer than some people will design to get the end result.
But ultimately, I think I kind of get there and it just, it just allowed me to take those different aspects and sort of put those together. And then with the teaching side of things, you have to have an understanding in such a way that you can impart the knowledge and the reasoning behind why you’ve done something and the tools you’ve chosen to use.
And I think that’s kind of stood me in good stead, when it comes to the different kinds of parts of a business as opposed to me just being on the cold side or me just on the design side. So it’s kind of, I think necessity has probably been the reasoning behind why I maybe approach things in the way that I haven’t picked up the skill sets that I have, I’ve got enough knowledge in those areas to be dangerous, but not enough to be considered, you know, sort of anything special, I don’t think,
Chris Badgett: Well, that’s the brilliance of it. Like I mean, even if it’s just two things, you don’t have to be the best in the world. But if you’re pretty good at both those that makes you unique. And if you’ve got three things were that’s, that’s really cool. Um, let’s talk about YouTube, it’s halfway through 2022. As we’re recording this, when did you start the channel, and right now you’re at somewhere around 120,000 subscribers.
Paul Charlton: I started it back in 2015, I think it is, I think is around 2015. But I didn’t really take that channel particularly seriously, I had three channels. One was a music production channel, which is still available. And other one was a Lightroom and Photoshop channel. And the third one was the WordPress side of things. Because they’re kind of like things that I have a passion for. And I’ve always kind of been the same saying if I’ve got a passion for it, and I learned things, I just want to tell other people about those things so they can avoid some of the stumbling blocks and the longer roads that I’ve had to sort of work my way through to get to those results.
But I kind of found probably around 2017, somewhere like that, that the WordPress one was definitely the one that was the right one to focus on for various different reasons. So it means that the other two have kind of fallen by the wayside. There’s still content and lots of evergreen content on them. But I don’t do anything with them these days. So I would say probably seriously from about 2017. And that’s where I really dug deep into bringing various different kinds of content onto the channel and looking for my niche. I mean, when anyone that does anything to do with podcasts and YouTube or anything like that, you kind of have to find your niche and find your road and what makes you you and if that resonates with a potential audience, and if it does then embrace that side of things,
Chris Badgett: What is what is your niche, would you say and YouTube and WordPress and like what is the how would you describe your niche?
Paul Charlton: Definitely dynamic content. I mean, without a shadow of a doubt, I do other things. But once I kind of focused on doing dynamic content using various different tools, that was something that really wasn’t being served at all or if it was in very, very small minority’s, so using tools like advanced custom fields and crackerbox, jet engine and those kinds of things, to take WordPress beyond what it is it really intended to do, you know, people use page builders, and they use Guttenberg and things like that. And they’ll build blogs and build websites. And that’s great. I mean, that’s kind of where it came from. But there’s so much more you can do with it.
But when you rely upon third party tools, like you know, a listing theme plugin that goes with it, you’re always confined to what they want to allow you to do was I always kind of like, I prefer to look at how can I actually build my own. So I have the flexibility, which kind of goes back to that rapid application side of things with Dreamweaver back when I was doing that kind of thing. So I kind of approached WordPress from that side. And that’s really where my channel kind of started to take off in a more niche orientated way is dynamic content and the related services and tools that kind of go with it.
Chris Badgett: Could you describe dynamic content? And some use cases for somebody that doesn’t know what that is?
Paul Charlton: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you take a sort of simple example that most of us are probably used to, which is something like a real estate website, or you know, a sort of like a property sales website. WordPress is not really geared towards building something like that. However, WordPress is used for it. And to do that, you’ve either got to use a tool that allows you to create listings, but you kind of you’re limited in what you can do there with with a tool like advanced custom fields, which is allows you to create meta fields, which are basically your title, your content, basically, every field inside WordPress is a meta field, you can create custom post types. And if you look at WordPress, your posts, your pages, WooCommerce products, all of those are custom post types.
So you just you can create your own custom post types, you can connect your own custom meta fields, so you can basically build a combination of anything. So a real estate website, you’re going to have a property, you’re going to have your agent inside your property, you’re going to have the square footage, you’re going to have an image gallery, you’re going to have the price, you know, inside your agent, you’re going to have various other things inside their contact details, and so on. And then one of the beautiful things about using tools like this is you can then connect the agent or agents to the property or properties.
So all those kinds of things are dynamically generated content links, that connect up to the WordPress database. It sounds kind of complex, but the reality is once you start to step into that world and and see how these things actually combined, you can take it from being really simple to just, you know, adding a couple of extra fields into your normal WordPress posts, right, the way up to creating business listings, creating, you know, car sales websites, job listing boards, pretty much anything you can imagine, you can do that using the combination of tools that allow you to tap into custom post types and dynamic meta information and things like that. So I hope that kind of explains it in a little bit. Anyway,
Chris Badgett: Those core, I think people really look up to you too, because you have a, like an honest take of best tool for the job kind of thing. What I mean, maybe we could look at page builders, or maybe we could look more broadly at WordPress as a whole, like, how do you choose your tools? And how do you? Where’s WordPress going? Like, what do you see right now? And how is your what’s your journey been like in terms of selecting Tools and figuring out what to use? Because there’s so many options out there.
Paul Charlton: There are absolutely millions of combinations, I think, to me, it’s a case of there’s a couple of different aspects, I tend to look at tools that meet a need that I might have at a particular time. And then I’ll test out a range of tools, if it’s a viable thing to do, you know, obviously, there’s lots of costs involved in various different things. But I’ll try various different tools that kind of get a feel for where they are. And then I’ll kind of work with those and see how I can combine those with other tools.
So I mean, started off with Elementor Pro, for example, when they brought out version two that brought in dynamic information, you can do the dynamic tags, that allowed you to connect it up to advanced custom fields and some other tools like that. So that was a nice combination that opened the door and still opens the door to a lot of people that want to kind of get into that side of things, and probably would be my still be my tool of choice for a lot of different projects. But I think where we’re going with working with dynamic content and WordPress in general, as much as I may not have liked it originally, I think Guttenberg is the way that we’re having to move forward. And not specifically for Guttenberg itself but now I’m finding there’s a lot of tools are starting to embrace.
That kind of link between WordPress is database and the features you can you can use inside the database and WordPress itself. They’re now being integrated into block level tools. So for example, you’ve got things like stackable you’ve got cadence blocks, generate blocks, or if you want something that’s probably closer to a tool like elemental is quickly And the reason I kind of think that that’s the direction to go in is that they’re giving you the benefit of removal from the excessive code base that you have when it comes to working with page builders.
But they’re now getting to the point where they do have a more a more visual way of working up until now Gutenberg itself is still very limited when it comes to the connection between what you design on the one side in the in the back end of your website to what you see on the front end. And these are kind of starting to bridge that gap a little bit better, and getting closer to what a lot of people are used to, with page builders and so on.
And they’re also expanding into a lot more dynamic data, you know, relations between, like I say, you between your sort of agent and between your property, that relationship between those, and some of the more advanced features. So I think moving forward, that’s something that I think is definitely going to grow. Because there’s a lot bigger market, I think, now for Gutenberg than it probably was a couple of years ago.
But choosing tools, it really comes down to testing and finding what works well. You know, I’m in an enviable position where I can do that, you know, whether I purchased them myself, I can’t take the company to ask them, Can I test things out? Most of the time, it is a case I’ll just buy them and try them unless they’re stupid money. And find out what tools work well in combination look for a scenario and think, How can I approach that on what tools would do that job.
And then look into how viable it is to create something around that idea that concept as it were, so nothing really any different, I wouldn’t have thought to what most people are doing your your test the tools out, you’ll try a free version, if it’s available. If you like the way it works, you’ll then look at is the paid upgrade worth investing in and then kind of move on from there?
Chris Badgett: I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that what you’re saying it’s like best tool for the job, which starts for the job with the job instead of the tool because I don’t know I see and tool sometimes people get kind of tribal but the people that build the best sites are really just vetting requirements and then doing the best they can with whatever they find.
Paul Charlton: Yeah, tribalism, tribalism is something that is I think, rife in the WordPress space when it comes, especially when it comes to page builders, there seems to be a real tribalism, that once someone’s bought into that product, that all other products outside it should never be looked at. And then we discussed them talk and you kind of think, but surely, you know, that might be good for job a but Job B that might not be a good fit. And I kind of always champion, don’t limit yourself to one tech stack, you know, one set of tools. You look at the job and you think right, what’s the best solution for that job. And then you use those tools, and not try to shoehorn what you are used to working with, you know, should you hold the job into it as it were?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s, that’s really wise. Tell us about the the transition to course creation, when did that start or the idea to make some courses.
Paul Charlton: I’ve toyed with the idea of making courses for for quite some time. But talking to different content creators and course creators. One of the key things that I think when it comes to something like the tech space, which is moving very, very fast, you know, WordPress, where it is now to where it is tomorrow to where it is in a year’s time. It’s a very volatile market and a lot of ways. So the one thing that’s kind of always put me off is I don’t want to start creating a course.
Because if you’re gonna do a course properly, it’s not something that takes you a couple of weeks. It’s something that the planning, the execution, the recording, the editing, all those things will generally take me at least a couple of months. So it’s looking for for content that becomes viable, longer term evergreen content, or creating something that maybe isn’t low level, as you’re like, This is the specific thing or things that you do, it’s more going from a higher level to give people the ability to absorb a technique, and then doesn’t matter what tools they decide to use.
So I’ve been toying with it for probably probably the last four or five years, but not really knowing what direction to go in. And not really having a way of being able to validate the idea or ideas that I might not come up with until probably the last two, two and a half years when I created the Facebook group and started taking the WP dash channel on what I do and making it less about WP tats and more about me, if that makes sense not to sound egotistical.
But prior to that it was faceless. You look at my earlier videos from probably about three years ago, and they’re all just screen capture. And that makes it difficult to go and create a connection with your audience, your potential students as it were your potential customers whenever you kind of want to call them but changing that aspect of things given me the ability to be able to do the research with the potential buyers of any course or courses that I put out there has been invaluable in this helped me take an idea and see how viable it is. So probably about the last three to four years with any real sort of conviction
Chris Badgett: that What, um, it’s a challenge. I know just in teaching WordPress, if you get into tools, and all of a sudden there’s an update some changes, or you decide to use a different tool or whatever. So what how do you think about evergreen? Like, I know you have a course called the client lifecycle that’s more about building a web design business, right?
Paul Charlton: Less about building a web design business, but more about how you would approach working with clients in the real world. I spent probably the last 1415 years working with clients. And obviously during that time, I’ve stumbled across different things, I’ve sort of like come across situations that I’ve handled in one way and have a better ways to handle it and how you highlight Red Red Flag clients, you know, people that are not going to be a good fit for you and various different aspects. So to me that made a sort of logical potential course idea. I can’t say that I haven’t suffered from impostor syndrome with regards to that.
But I kind of wanted to look at it, how would you go from the point of someone contacting you as a potential client to the end of a point of delivery, but not focusing at any point on how you physically build the website? I’ve already covered that in multiple videos in this, there’s 1000s of videos up on YouTube, that’ll show you how to technically build a WordPress website and probably any niche you want.
So this was more about how do you actually handle that contact? The various different ways they’ll contact you? How do you check to see if a potential client is going to be a good fit for you? How do you handle contracts, the importance of contracts, right the way through to, we’ve now finished the website, you’ve signed the website off, what now. And that’s kind of why the client lifecycle whether it’s the name will stay, but the client lifecycle course, is more overview and showing you how and why you want to put processes into place as opposed to just be in. This is when a client comes in do X, Y, and Zed? I don’t really think for a lot of users. That’s any real use.
Chris Badgett: What about the design system? For designers? It first start with what is the design system design is one of your super skills, I think, from the outside looking in. So what was what is the design system? And how do you help them with that?
Paul Charlton: Design System. Again, this is one of those ones that is more about the principles and the processes than it is about the nitty gritty. But a design system can be something as simple as just having a sheet in front of you or digital sheet or suddenly want a website that has the colors, the typography, the font sizes, you use an any specific CSS that you might use for styling, things like drop shadows, interactions and things like that, something really, really simple.
And that’s probably what most people are, you’re used to, which isn’t technically a design system, it’s more of a style guide. But a style guide kind of is a part of a design system, which is a bigger kind of overarching sort of system, where you kind of look at things. And once you’ve kind of got those simple technical things out of the way, then design systems are going to be things like the language and terminology that may be used.
It can be the tone of voice, it can be the feeling that you try to encompass in a user when they visit the site. And if you look at things like the material Guide, which you think is this Google’s material Guide, which is freely available, and there’s ones for Shopify, and if you do just do a search for design system, Shopify design systems, you know, Google and things like that Microsoft, there are design systems out there that are hundreds and hundreds of pages and is all the iconography they use and all the different inside that and the terminologies, the language, the feelings, the emotions, and all these infants decimal amounts of different things.
And that’s what a design system can be. You can go for something as simple as just having your styles and colors and CSS and any code snippets, right the way up to having something really complex. So if you’re working on a project for yourself, you may just do something really simple, then when you come back in a year or two years time, and you think I want to make some changes, but I can’t remember what specific hex colors are used or typography and those kinds of things.
You’ve got that available to you. But it’s more useful when you’re working then with clients where you may not go back to the website for a couple of years. And then by the time you go back there, it’s a bit of a faff to go around and find out all the different things that you set up, when you could have one simple document there.
So the design system for designers course was more about if you are building websites, this is the reason why you may want to look at design systems. And you can go from something really simple, all the way up to something really more complex. Or you can just combine whatever elements you take away from it yourself to just speed up your design process to speed up your updating process. And, you know, if you’re working with teams, you’re outsourcing these things can be invaluable, but a lot of people don’t know about them or don’t use them.
Chris Badgett: Just to get some contrast, what if somebody’s like a newer website builder and they get they get into page builders and stuff and they have no concept of design system? What can go wrong?
Paul Charlton: I mean, one of the biggest things where you kind of get into problems is where you started dealing with things that are Like, when it comes to building sites, we got a range of different units that you can use, for example, you’ve got your pixels, you’ve got M’s, you’ve got rams, and a multitude of different things.
If you don’t know to start off with what’s being used, so let’s say you inherited design from someone else, you may not know what any of that means. And then when you suddenly look at it, you go, I just really have no idea what’s going on here, because I’m changing something here and it should be changing, but it’s not making a difference. And that could be down to something as simple as you’re trying to work in one value, whereas the actual site has been set up in using a different set of values. So it’s a really simple example.
But once you if you have a style guide, if you inherited that from someone else, and you can see that style guide you so your base font is this size, and then everything else is based from that using percentages, or AMS and rams, which are just values for how they work with that base value of 16 pixels, for example, using design systems can make that whole process much, much easier.
Because it means you can just say quickly look at it, you can just go Ah, right, that’s what they’re doing, I can see now that I need to change that to have the impact what I want, whereas I’d been trying to change something else, and it’s not doing what I want, really simple example. But also things like changing global colors, you know, once you kind of understand what the color system has been used, and how they interact with each other, and maybe naming conventions they’ve used for different color values, because you can use different naming conventions that are sort of globalized.
There’s a lot of benefits for using things like that. And if you don’t, and you inherit something or you know, you were looking to start working with these, because you know that you’re going to be offloading this to someone else. Just having that understanding of what these different terms and how they impact upon the design and the aesthetic, and all those kinds of things moving forward. Those are all things that using a design system, even its most simple form can just alleviate a lot of stress and frustrations moving forward.
Chris Badgett: Just one more thing on that where did where do people kind of capture a design system, I mean, it could be a webpage on a website, it’s a figma file, it’s a PDF, or like where to where did these live?
Paul Charlton: They can live anywhere. I mean, if you were sort of you’re working as part of a collaborative team, that it makes sense to have some kind of centralized location. And that could be a private page on a WordPress website, it could be somewhere that you’ve got set up as part of your, your design agency, you might have a section that you can say this is login with these details, it’ll give you access to client a and inside there, there’s all the design system review. So you can quickly see what the assets that they’ve got. So there are their branding and logos, the colors, typography, units of measurement, and so on.
It’s really up to you. And it could be something as simple as just a Google Doc that you share with other people, the method that you use to combine that information is less important than actually go into the time and effort of combining that information and creating that document to start off with. So the method you use whatever works for you, as an individual, a freelancer or an agency, whatever you you kind of brand yourself as use whatever works and scale up if need be, but make it somewhere that you can share it should you need to so starting off with something like Google Docs might be a good starting point. Because it’s free, and everybody can set up a Gmail account and access a file that you might put on it.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, shifting gears, if there’s like another creator out there, like you’re really inspiring as a creator. And let’s say they’re even in the WordPress niche, I know you’re you kind of had the wisdom of a niche within a niche, like dynamic content is kind of your thing. If somebody has some other unrelated niche or and they’re there just to just inspire creators in general, how do you think about monetization and all this? Because you can get really busy like being a YouTuber, a course creator, working with clients, just having fun researching and like exploring your passion? How do you come up with a monetization plan around all this without exploding?
Paul Charlton: I think in the same way, you probably would, when it comes down to setting up any kind of business, when I moved away from being a partner in a company to set up become a freelancer. And ultimately, I mean, I really don’t work with clients that often I work with existing clients, but I don’t take new clients on. But obviously most of my work is now YouTube and things like that. So I think you should approach this in exactly the same way you would any other business is if you look at putting all of your eggs in that one basket you don’t look at how do I monetize various different streams, then you need to go back and look at that.
Because even using something as simple as a web design freelancer, there are lots of different revenue streams that you can attach to that kind of role and exactly the same whether you’re doing YouTube, and a lot of creators will will do just that there’ll be creators in the fact that they’ve got a web design agency or a freelancer but they’ll also be content creators.
You look at a lot of people that are not necessarily have the same level of viewership as a lot of the sort of the high end WordPress youtubers do you know up into sort of 250 300 1000s but I don’t think you need that. You know, if you look at some of the classy smaller creators cuz I think that’s disrespectful. But you look at some of the creators that don’t necessarily have such a broad audience as some of the higher level ones do. They are getting contacted with job requests. And that’s because they put in content sharing their knowledge, and they have a web design agency.
So I think you look at it in such a way that whatever you kind of look to do you look at what are the avenues that can potentially bring in revenue. So if you’re a web design, freelancer, we’ll stick with that analogy. You’ve got your hosting, you’ve got your domain registrations, you’ve got maintenance plans, care plans, updates, but then you can look at what content creation can you do, you know, blog entries, can create YouTube videos, even if you don’t want to go on screen and do it, you know, you can do screen capture.
Most computers these days will be able to get some software, if it’s not already part of your OS, that cost you a couple of pounds, couple of dollars. And you can start screen recording, pick up yourself a cheap, cheap USB mic, and develop that. Because there’s lots of ways in which you can combine these different avenues to all bring it into the one thing.
And the same goes with, you know, if you are an agency, and you are finding that you’re building up an audience, you don’t need a massive audience to make a life changing amount of money, you know, you can easily start to create courses, you’ve got things like Udemy, you’ve got Skillshare, you can create your own, you know, there’s plenty of different WordPress plugins, as you well know, to do with learning management systems, you know, all those kinds of things, the tools are there, and you can get started for such a little amount of money. But always look at what actually all leads back to the same thing, which is the information, the knowledge or the skills that you currently have that you can monetize, and then just go for the different avenues.
You know, for me, for example, there’s, you know, there’s YouTube, but that was monetized to start off with when you’re making five, five pounds about like $7, that’s not going to go to change the world. So you kind of have to look at what else can you do. But there are people out there with audiences as small as a couple of 1000. Or they’re making six figure sums, because they’re sharing knowledge that people want to know about. And once they have trust in them, they’ll contact them for paid work, they’ll contact and sort of want to pay for courses or ebooks or PDFs or one to one training sessions consultations. There’s 1,000,001 different ways that once you show any expertise that you can turn that skill and passion into a monetizable avenue for generating revenue. I think that answers the question. Yeah, that’s awesome.
Chris Badgett: Let’s look at marketing in particular. And, and but also, like you mentioned, you had a Facebook group, what was the decision to start that? And then how do you think about marketing?
Paul Charlton: The Facebook group was something that I looked into probably a couple of years ago and and thought I’m really missing a trick here. You know, a lot of people ask the same questions. There’s a lot of the same faces that are popping up in the comments and stuff like that on on YouTube, and different places on on Twitter and stuff. So you can make it well, it would make so much more sense. Instead of having to answer the same question in maybe three or four different platforms to put something together where to start off with, I can be involved in and help out. But then if it grows, then everybody starts to help everybody else out, you know, in the same way the forums used to do it before and you different methods of doing it.
So I set that that up. And that is organically grown, we’re just about to hit 10,000 sort of members on the it’s a very active group. But it has a lot of really good things. It has the fact that there’s a great community inside there that help each other out, which means that I don’t have to be the person that tries to answer everything. Because there’s only so much that I know that needs so much time I’ve got to be able to invest in learning and answering questions.
There’s so many great people on there that are giving their time to answer questions help and have fun. And that’s been amazing. So that was one of the most important things I think I did. But it also gave me a really great place for me to do marketing, by market. And I don’t mean, you know, buy this product or buy that product marketing, to me is more a case of it’s a two way thing.
It’s where I ask people, What do they want? What are they looking for what’s not being served right now, is the value in you creating either a tutorial for free, or a paid course or something like that, I can get feedback in the space of 24 hours from my demographic target market. And I can find out the proof of whether that’s something to pursue, or Sunday to think okay, we’ll just leave that where it is. And that’s pretty much the only marketing I do, obviously, email marketing, but that’s I think that’s still tied to the Facebook group tied to the YouTube channel, and giving things away for free on the website, like like checklists and things that help people and bringing value to that side of things.
When it comes to like paid advertising and so on. I’ve never really been that interested in doing it because you can spend an awful lot of money and I know you can sort of you can really hone and fine tune exactly where you go with this. But I would much rather keep a smaller audience of people that I know are exactly the people that I want to work with, then go down that shedding money out for Facebook ads for YouTube advertising. So with that in the future, maybe. But I don’t really have aspirations at this point in time to becoming a global power when it comes to online education. You know,
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Just for a data point there, how long did it take you to get to 10,000 members in your group?
Paul Charlton: Probably about three years, which seems like a long time. But again, I would much rather have a group of people that are passionate about what we talk about. And it’s biggest, it’s more of a community. That’s the nice thing about there’s a lot of people in there that are commenting in the Facebook, they’re commenting on the YouTube videos, they’re involved in the live streams, you see them on Twitter, they message me and email me and things like that.
And it’s nice to kind of feel that there’s a lot of people that come back and forth there because they enjoy the atmosphere and the vibe, as it were, of the group and the people that are there. And you can see this different people have made genuine friendships, when you go into the live stream, and you see the same names and faces that are in that group, welcome each other and it’s little conversations going on, but the sight of what you’re actually talking about and for me, that’s that’s something that I think is massively important.
I kind of work on that 1000 true fans sort of analogy where I would much rather have 1000 people that really enjoy what I do what I produced, and those kinds of things, then have a million people of most of which couldn’t care less. It’s just because of vanity figures that and I think that’s kind of a bit of a fool’s errand. Yeah, it
Chris Badgett: sounds like, I mean, that’s a healthy indicator of a strong niche community, people talk to each other, and it’s not about the size. What about your approach to team? If Am I correct in assuming you’re, you’re you like to run a tight ship? That’s not like this big company? Or do you have tons of team members supporting?
Paul Charlton: You? Know, there’s me, it’s just me.
Chris Badgett: And is that me? Is that a conscious choice? Like, I just want to do my thing? And like, Are you like a strong solopreneur? Like, it’s, I just want to do it that style? Or do you have intention to, to like grow a big team or something like that.
Paul Charlton: I don’t have intention to grow a big team. At this point in time, I don’t think managing people is a strength that I have. So at this point, I can manage what I’m doing, however, set. That being said, My ideal scenario is not just me, but my partner as well, I wanted to be a family thing. She’s great in design and she’s great in sort of marketing and promotion, and things like that. And that’s where I see the business in the next two years is that my partner comes on board that she’s an integral part of the business. And if at that point, then it makes sense to look for outsourcing for video editing, or you know, things like that.
There are so many sort of like software service applications and things out there that you can literally automate a big chunk of what I need to do like translations, and so on. I don’t feel the need at this point in time. But that’s not to say that in the future, I wouldn’t. I just, I think maybe my OCD aspect is a little bit sort of finding people that have the same passion for what you do as you do is a very difficult thing to do. So relinquishing that kind of control to somewhere that maybe I wouldn’t have that same kind of passion. I’m a little hesitant at this point in time. But that’s never to say that it won’t happen in the future, just immediate plans. That’s not something I’m looking to do right now.
Chris Badgett: Any hard lessons like on your journey here as a creator, as an education entrepreneur, that if you could go back in time, I mean, it You sound really positive, and everything’s a learning experience. But is there any like lesson you learned that, that your if you could go back, you’d care not to repeat.
Paul Charlton: I can’t say this isn’t a not to repeat side of things. But I think there’s one thing that I kind of, I have to take away from, from the YouTube side of things, because that’s kind of that that to me is the sort of the the seed that allows these other things to kind of grow is that I would have niched down earlier, because to start off with you look at what other channels are doing, and it’s very easy to go out, just emulate what they do, because they’re having success. And the reality is, people don’t necessarily buy into their channels because of the content they buy into them because of the people that are involved.
Which kind of leads me to the second point, which is for the first probably four to five years of the WP dash channel. It was faceless. You know, it was literally, I wasn’t on the thumbnails. I wasn’t in the videos or anything at all. So I made a conscious effort to change that. And that is where I started to see more growth. And the sort of third thing that I wish I’d done earlier, is actually have an opinion.
Because even though I had an opinion on various different things I’ve talked about, I’ve tended to keep those things out of the videos. Whereas the one thing I find out is people want to know what your opinion is, they might disagree with it, they might think you’re talking rubbish. But they still like to know that you have an opinion and have a talking point in the comment section in the live streams, wherever you’re doing, that can kind of come across and say what their point of view is.
Those are kinds of things that I wish I had done earlier. So if anybody is thinking of getting into this side of things, seriously, consider how you position your brand, whether your brand is you, or whether you want your brand to be faceless. And if it’s faceless, there’s a set of challenges that kind of come with that. And if I’d known that earlier, and I’d had the confidence to not care so much about going on the camera, I would have done that much earlier. Yeah, those are probably the key things that I take away from where I am right now. And what I wish I’d done earlier in my career with it.
Chris Badgett: All right, that’s awesome. And last kind of series of questions, just rapid fire about as a YouTuber and as a creator. And I’m sure some of the answers are, it depends. But how many videos per week do you do? Or would you recommend, in general, if somebody’s gonna get serious about YouTube?
Paul Charlton: It depends on sorry, hit straightaway. I think I think it really comes down to the content that you create. If longer form content makes sense, then spend the time to create one good quality longer form content video per week, if you can, if it takes longer, that’s fine if you’re already on your journey, but traction is only going to come when you have a consistency. If you’re creating shorter form content, that I would say bare minimum of two, ideally, three, if you can go above that. But try to set yourself realistic goals that you can maintain longer term, don’t do something you think I start with five videos a week. And I’m going to do that for the next year.
Because the reality is once you get to week three, and four and five, and your ideas are running a little bit low, and your motivation is very low, because you get three views on your video, you will very quickly wish you hadn’t gone down that route. So think seriously longer term, what it is you’re trying to achieve.
And then plan your video shedule. Around that longer form content can be less because potential for longer watch time, shorter form content quicker to sort of process and batch it if you can get as many as you can nd even if it’s just the record inside, you can edit editing is something you can do when you’re sat there watching TV. But the record inside of it is something that takes your full concentration to do so try to batch that if you can, and then edit at your leisure.
Chris Badgett: It looks like you do both long form like hour plus and more short form like 10 to 20 minutes kind of stuff. What is the ideal length? Or how do you think about those two different formats like what makes the big epic video versus the 15 minute one,
Paul Charlton: It really comes down to whether I want to do something as simple as demonstrate a tool or feature or some aspect of something that I like, they’ll tend to be shorter form, whereas the ones that I generally call more masterclass ones, which are the more in depth, multi tool kinds of tutorials, they just naturally lend themselves to be in longer format. I will be honest, I don’t generally tend to worry too much about the length or the duration of the videos these days. It’s not something I plan to make a long video a short video, sometimes I sit down with an idea, I start recording the idea after sort of a just outlining what I want to do. And they run for an hour, an hour and a half.
It’s rare, but they can do. I think it just you got to look at the topic, can you do justice to whatever it is you’re trying to create in 10 minutes. And if you can try to do it in 10 minutes. But if all you’re gonna do is make assumptions of knowledge skirt over really key things, because one of the things you’ll find, when it comes to creating more complex tutorials, is you can not to emphasize one key point that has a massive knock on effect. And someone misses that and then they get three quarters worth of the tutorial.
And something doesn’t work because they didn’t catch something that was really vital back at the beginning of it because you didn’t emphasize that point enough. So do justice to what it is you’re trying to do. But don’t necessarily worry so much about the duration. If you like the short form content and your content fits into that into manageable bite sized pieces go with it if longer form is what you need to do that.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. And how how do you approach video editing? Do you try to like are you like one of these guys? It’s like 10x the amount of video time to edit it or do you try to do it like as fast as possible and you’re okay with a margin of mistakes and hums and ahhs and all that. Yeah, just tell us about your editing standards or process.
Paul Charlton: Let’s go back to my OCD is it I changed over from Windows and PCs to Apple about two years ago, primarily when the new sort of M one Max came out, because they were getting, you know, sort of really solid reviews when it comes to working with Final Cut Pro. And I always found that when I was working with the Adobe suite with premiere on a PC, it was really painful to work with when you want to put any graphics and zooms, and just little things that I think make educational content so much easier to understand.
Moved over to the MAC, which means that I’m now totally 100% Apple Final Cut Pro is just just flies through the editing side of things. So I tend to find now that I probably spend less time editing that I did three to four years ago. But my editing is much better than it was that time ago. Because I could just sort of focus on creating something I do cut out pretty much all the the arms and the arms. Although if I’m honest, there’s not that many in there.
Because I’m kind of used to doing this. Now I’ve been doing it for so long and teaching, you kind of move away from that same thing. So, you know, pause is the when you click on something on screen, you have to wait for door, but I cut all those bits and pieces out. And I record multicam. So in other words, I record the screen recording, and I record the camera that you can kind of see right now. And then I can use that together, combine it link the time lines up together. And then I can just switch back and forth, which allows me to hide cuts, without any real problem.
You know, so there’s this little tricks that you can use, if you are editing and you don’t like those jump cuts, where you go from being like looking at it to look it over there and saying something weird. You know, there’s lots of little tricks that you find. So I would probably say, if I looked at the video I did this morning, which is a 15 minute video, I probably spent an hour editing it. So if you kind of use that it’s about four times the runtime versus the editing time in general. But I can kind of fly through this pretty quickly. You know, with that side of things, I’ve got a pretty streamlined way of approaching it.
Chris Badgett: And what’s your approach to comments? Like? Is that some you get YouTube comments you get into that daily? Or how do you think about comments?
Paul Charlton: I’ve got only 750 videos on the channel. And one of the things that YouTube doesn’t really do is he doesn’t keep you up to date with all the comments you can, as you can imagine, with videos like that, if you say there’s one comment per video, there’s 750 comments coming in every single day. But the reality is YouTube probably pulls up 25 or 30. And generally they’re on your, your top videos or your new videos. So I look at them. And if I think there’s something that needs to be answered, I’ll try my best to answer them.
But the fact of the matter is, there’s only so much that you can kind of do while still trying to create content, research, edit videos, you know, all those kinds of things. So I do try to get involved with most of the time, if people are asking questions, like, you know, how do I build a website using so and so it’s like, you’re better off going to the Facebook group? Because chances are, you’re gonna get a better answer in there. If I can answer it, I will. But I think as your channel grows, you invariably have less time to be able to answer questions and comments, but I try to answer some as often as possible if I can.
Chris Badgett: All right, last YouTuber question for you, Paul. You have an awesome looking studio. How do you not necessarily all the specifics of the tech and the gear? But obviously you kind of have like your Creator sanctuary of productivity? How do you think about your production space where you make your content and your videos?
Paul Charlton: Well, up until probably the end of last year, I was sort of shooting things inside the room in the house, you know, much the same as probably most anybody that’s sort of creating YouTube content, especially at the beginning, where you don’t have a dedicated space as it were. So that was great. But the problem was a lot of that was to do with natural light, you’re in the house, just like you got a dog there and you baby, it’s like all these things kind of lead to how the hell can I get a quiet environment to be able to record something, so it wasn’t conducive in the slightest, but it had served well for 600 Odd videos, so I can’t complain about it.
So it just means that when I had the opportunity, when we found out that we were going to have a baby, my first thing after the sort of celebrations and stuff was like, right, I need to find some other way now. And it’s a choice of either going out and renting space, which I again have no control over and I’m limited to what I could do or how can I actually get space in in our house in you know what we own kind of thing.
So as it was this is basically my garage three quarters converted into a studio had totally sound proofed inside here, you know, so it means that I can now literally just walk in, switch the camera, everything on to the computer in bits and pieces, and I could be recording a video in the space of five minutes and I’m ready to go straight away. But that’s an enviable position to be in, you know, and it was it was sort of necessity meant that I had to find a solution. But, you know, sometimes you don’t have that that luxury veil to do something like that.But what I would always say to anybody that’s either looking to get into doing this or they’re already doing and kind of morons, make the best of what you’ve got.
There are tools that they like, for example, this room, even though it’s not particularly big, there is an echo, which you can probably hear on the live stream on what we’re doing right now. But if you listen to the videos, you don’t get any of that, because there are tools out there that allow you to get rid of any of that kind of reverb and echo and things. And it’s like, you want to make yourself look and sound better, you don’t need to spend huge amounts of money, there are tools out there to do just that.
So my audio sounds better on the camera wise, you can pick yourself up, you can use your phone, you know, use it use an iPhone, for example, or an Android phone, they’ve got amazing cameras on this set that up, you can get noise reduction, you don’t need expensive gear, you can be up and running. For literally buy yourself a little lavalier mic that plugs into the bottom of your phone, use natural light and use your photo to it you can be up and running, you know, without any real problem, that they have to be the best videos in the world.
Now, if you’re giving good information and good knowledge, and your audio is clear, nobody cares. Really, they don’t use some of the best performing videos, I’ve had other ones that I’ve literally set things up quickly, and just run the video off and not given any thought to it. And they’ve performed brilliantly. So as long as your audio is clear, and you’re explaining or you’re giving information as valuable to someone or people, the rest of it doesn’t matter. You know, it doesn’t just I’m lucky that I’m in a position that I could build something like this and now I have a dedicated space to do it. But this has become my job. So I need somewhere that I can, you know, hopefully look good, sounds good and allows me to operate as effective as I possibly can be. So I think that as the question
Chris Badgett: does love it. That’s Paul Charlton. Go find him at WP tuts on YouTube and the website is WP tuts.co.uk anywhere else for the people to connect with you or final words for the people out there.
Paul Charlton: I mean, if you want to connect with me, I mean the easiest thing to do with this there’s Twitter, which is WP tetes literally just go on to you on to Google and just type in WP tats and other than the theme, which I didn’t design, pretty much everything else you’ll find on there is going to be me. But if you are interested in finding out more, join the Facebook group. Just do a search on there for WP tetes and get involved that fantastic community and you can find out more about what I do. You can get involved in answering any kind of questions about future content courses, training material, anything like that. There’s lots of places to get in touch.
Chris Badgett: Thanks for coming on the show. Paul would really appreciate it.
Paul Charlton: Absolutely. My pleasure. Thanks for asking me.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMS 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 For slash gift go to lifterlms.com forward slash gift. Keep learning. Keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.