In this episode of LMScast we discuss productizing SEO services into a course, making results focused courses, and the need for website speed with Brendan Tully. Chris and Brendan dive into ways you can optimize your site’s SEO and create educational online content that is approachable, digestible, and actionable for your students.
Brendan is an online course creator and expert with WordPress. He runs an SEO and AdWords agency, and they do in-person workshops and training. After noticing many small, local businesses were failing in the same areas of SEO, Brendan decided to make an online course to teach them how to improve their SEO.
Creating course content that is easy to understand is important for capturing engagement within an online course. Brendan gets his students taking action with his course by providing easily digestible content in the form of two to three minute videos with specific calls to action that inform the students about exactly what they should do to get a result.
Getting your students quick wins is a great way to build momentum and get people to engage with your content. Brendan shares how with teaching you need to get your students to understand what it is you’re trying to explain to them, why they need to do it, and how to do it.
The Pareto Ecommerce Blueprint is Brendan’s masterclass course on SEO for businesses. Chris took the course and found that roughly 80% of the content was perfectly suited for online course creators. Be sure to check it out at ParetoEcommerce.com.
To learn more about Brendan Tully you can find him on Twitter at @tullibo. Also be sure to check out DidgeridooDojo.com where over 10,000 people have learned how to play the didgeridoo online since 2011. And learn more about how you can speed up your WordPress website at WPSpeedFix.com.
Also head to LifterLMS.com to find out more about how you can use LifterLMS to build your own online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!
Facebook Open Graph Preview Tool
A way to optimize for this is setting an image sitewide in Yoast under Social > Facebook tab like this:
Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses, called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest, Brendan Tully, from Australia. How you doing Brendan?
Brendan Tully: I’m good, Chris. Yourself?
Chris Badgett: I’m doing very well. Thank you. You’re a course creator. You have an IT background, you have WordPress expertise, you make sites fast, and you understand SEO. I think it’s apparent to me that you’re a serial entrepreneur. You start, you’re a very creative, business-minded person with tech chops, which means there’s a lot we can get into in this episode, and I’m super excited to go down some of those roads with you.
One of the first roads, though, is just you as another course creator, a fellow course creator. I actually just finished your course, and we’ll talk about the content of it in a little bit. It’s called The Pareto eCommerce Blueprint. It teaches SEO to predominately online stores, and I got a ton of value out of it, even though like an online course is not necessarily a website selling mattresses. But a lot of the eCommerce, I would say 80% of the course was perfectly suited to the online course creator. But backing up, why did you decide to make that course?
Brendan Tully: I have an SEO and AdWords agency, and we do in person workshops and training as well. The course came, it came from that. We deal a lot with I’d say local small business, people that have eCommerce online stores attached to their business as well, and the work we’re doing for those people, it was the same thing over and over. Making the same mistakes, it was the same optimization, it was the same process.
The course was built basically out of the process we were using for them. The agency business we have deals primarily with Australian businesses, so building the course was an easy way to reach a wider audience and clone myself, and I felt like I was saying the same thing over and over again. That’s the reason why and the course phase was interesting.
I guess one thing I love about courses, and we actually have a couple of other courses businesses, one where we teach people how to play the didgeridoo online.
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s awesome.
Brendan Tully: I don’t think we mentioned that before we got on the call, but it’s like the ultimate way to clone yourself. You put this stuff out there and it just keeps working again and again. Whereas, we do the in person training workshops, while I really enjoy it, it’s really hard work and it can be really draining, you stand in front of people, you do a whole day workshop, it starts at 9:00 a.m., 9:30 in the morning, and it goes ’til 4:00 in the afternoon, and you’re just totally wiped out after it.
The course phase is interesting, in that I don’t think a lot of people frame it like that. You just clone yourself. I guess as a small business entrepreneur, you have a small team, and only 24 hours in the day. You make this video that’s out there and it just works. It’s the ultimate working in sleep kind of thing, I think.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome. I like to use the model, your service, your agency, The Search Engine Shop, is kind of like the done-for-you service, or the done-with-you consulting, but the course could be the ultimate scalable do-it-yourself program, where you’re essentially saying the same stuff. When I got into your material, immediately I started noticing things that were like, “Oh, this is a good course. This is a high quality course.” I’ll share with you what some of those are, from my opinion taking it.
I have an eCommerce store for selling software, and I also have my own course projects. You mentioned you had a didgeridoo thing going on. I have an organic gardening permaculture thing going on. I’ve got all kinds of stuff. I was really fascinated from the software sales side, from the course sales side, but the thing you said that I noticed right away was I think you made the promise of like, “Look, it’s going to take about eight hours to get through this course and implement everything you’ve learned.” I was like, “That is so refreshing.”
Like, I literally knocked it out in two days, a couple of four hour blocks. “I’m going to learn from Brendan and start implementing.” It wasn’t like this huge commitment. It wasn’t a big ask. I mean, it was to do the work, but it was only eight hours, and most of your lessons were literally like two to three minute video, with some very specific calls to action of like, “This is what you need to do, this is how to implement it.” You had explainer text.
I’m going on a lot of things, but it was those elements that made it approachable, digestible and actionable. Where does that come from in terms of as an instructional designer? Because a lot of people think they have all this great content in their head and they’re just going to put it behind a paywall, but you immediately got me into action and getting results and getting quick wins. Where did you learn to teach like that?
Brendan Tully: Well, I mean that comes from experience standing in front of people. Because I guess there’s a few things you need people to understand. You need them to understand the what, what it is you’re trying to explain to them, why they need to do it, and then how to do it. A lot of courses that have really long videos, each module is 20 minutes long.
A lot of that is the how to, so we structured the course, they were short videos, up to five minutes long. There was a couple of longer ones for some of the modules, but the videos really talk about the what and why, and then we had long text with screenshots which were taken from a lot of our internal processes that explained the how to do it. Because a lot of stuff is better in text form, because people can follow along as they do it.
It really came from that, because a lot of people don’t want to sit there. 30 minutes is a long time to invest, 20-30 minutes is a long time to invest to watch a video. We wanted to make it about action, like all the information in the world is useless if you don’t act on it. I think Derek Sivers says that information is all we needed, we’d all be millionaires with a six pack, right?
Yeah, so I really wanted it to be action based and it actually really was based on our internal processes, our own SEO checklists. We use Process Street now, so a lot of the stuff from that course and one of our other courses just came directly from Process Street. Was massaged a little bit for public consumption, but yeah, I mean just from experience. Those two things, making it work for the team and just having that in person workshop and training experience.
Chris Badgett: What about the quick wins? As soon as somebody enrolls in a course, when their attention and excitement is the highest, you have all these little quick wins that people can do. Where did you get that trick from?
Brendan Tully: Well, that comes from an agency, ’cause traditionally the agency was an SEO agency. We started in 2008, we started doing SEO. Back then, SEO was quite easy. Things would happen quickly, whereas over the years, SEO’s got harder, takes a longer time. It’s three to six months to show results, so people need results today. If people are spending thousands of dollars a month on SEO agency services, they need to see results, so a lot of the quick wins are really best practices, just wrapped in some better language.
Simple things like in an agency, setting up a Google Maps listing, Apple Maps listing, and Bing Maps listing. They’re super quick wins and often that can double some business’ traffic overnight. It really gets you focused on you get those results straight away and a lot of those things are 20 minutes worth of work and you’re done. Within days, you start seeing results, so it’s a good way to build momentum. They’re easy, they’re digestible, and you know they’re not necessarily things you need to know a lot about to do.
It’s really just, “Hey, do this. It’s really simple. Just follow the steps. Takes 15 minutes and you’re done, and you’ll see results.” That’s why we did that. Getting into momentum, as you probably know, a lot of people buy courses and things and don’t do it. The quick wins front loaded at the start really builds that momentum and gets people excited I think, too.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, if you’re looking to up your SEO game, if you have a website that sells stuff, I recommend checking out Pareto eCommerce. That’s it? ParetoeCommerce.com. Is that right?
Brendan Tully: That’s correct, yep.
Chris Badgett: How long did it take you to make the course?
Brendan Tully: Too long.
Chris Badgett: Really? I couldn’t tell. I mean, you obviously knew the material and I was like, “He just banged this out with a good video person, like the content recording pretty quick. Or maybe it took a while, I don’t know.”
Brendan Tully: It took a while. If I was doing it again, I had a proper camera and I did the video editing myself. I think the first half I did all myself, so it was I think four hours per module most of the modules. I think there’s 5 to 10 modules per week, and four weeks worth of content, and some bonus content. It took a long time ’cause I messed around with the video myself and I was new to video editing like that.
Yeah, longer than it should, and the second half of the modules I had a video person doing it for me.
Chris Badgett: What are we talking, like a month, six months, a year, two years? What was it?
Brendan Tully: I think I built it over the course of two or three months, and working on it, probably spending every day of the week, half a day working on it. Too much time.
Chris Badgett: It’s still a success story, I mean, ’cause you launched and you got it going. We see way too many people just failure to launch, failure to finish. Like, lots of starting, but not as much finishing. What was the motivation and the driving force that kept you committed for the two to three months?
Brendan Tully: Well, I know the material works so yeah, it was really a case of, “Okay, I started it, we’ve got to finish it.” I guess I’d sunk so much time into it, it was like, “Well, if we don’t finish it, that’s time totally lost.” Yeah, I mean the think is, it’s stuff that we know actually works and even if we didn’t have a huge launch to people, a lot of our agency clients used the product as well. So yeah, it had an immediate target market I guess, as well.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome. You brushed over it quickly when you were talking about teaching, but in your course, earlier on you mentioned the who, what, why, how test. What does that mean for a website owner? If I’m selling something and somebody hits my website, can you just teach that lesson here on the podcast?
Brendan Tully: Yeah, there’s a couple of different ways to look at it. I mean, at the most basic level, one mistake that online stores make is they don’t tell people they … Because we’re dealing with agency clients, a lot of them are a real store, like a physical shop that you go to and they have an online store. They don’t tell people who hit the site one way or the other that they’re an online store or a retail store.
We came up with this concept, it was a way of framing that, teaching workshops. Who you are, what you do, why buy from you, and how to buy or what the next step is, or the call to action or whatever. They was really about, “Hey, if you’re an online store, tell people that they can buy online. Have a menu item at list that says, ‘Shop Online.’”
Then, if you’re a physical retail store with an online store, have a locations menu or “Visit us” or something like that. That’s what that came from. And really people need to be able to hit the website and understand that really quickly. It was like who you are, what you do, why buy from you, and how to buy or how to get in touch, or call to action.
It’s a rule that needs to be applied to the homepage, but particularly for pure eCommerce businesses, people who are actually shipping boxes, most of the people that are hitting the site, if they’re running something like Google Shopping ads, the first page they see on the site may actually be a category page or a product page.
Those pages need to tick those boxes as well, and one really good way to do that is have it, things in the menu item, or things in the header that are really clear about what you do, who you are, that sort of thing. So, that one’s really important and it’s a really quick win. If someone hits the website and they don’t realize you’re an online store, or don’t realize you’re a physical retail store, then you’re missing a huge opportunity to do business with you.
A lot of the time, eCommerce in Australia is a little bit behind the US. It’s not as mature and people really, there’s a lot of trust that you get automatically if you actually have a physical bricks and mortar store and you’re selling online. It’s a simple one, but a very powerful one, and it really helps from a conversion perspective.
Chris Badgett: Is that also the headline, like the main headline on the homepage, and the description text, and one call to action button? How do you optimize those three elements?
Brendan Tully: Yeah, it’s a lens to look at those three elements, I guess. Someone needs to be able to hit the site straight away without having to look for it, to understand those things, be able to pick them up within a few seconds, so yeah.
Chris Badgett: Since we have an SEO expert with us today, I wanted to ask a hard SEO question. It’s not to put you on the spot, but I see a lot of people ask for an SEO plugin recommendation, like Yoast SEO. In my mind, I’m always thinking, “Well, yeah that’s a great plugin, but it’s what you do with it that matters.” Like, if somebody’s starting at zero and wants to install something like Yoast, I mean, it doesn’t really do that much until you start actually filling in all the stuff.
But it can be a little overwhelming, like if you’re new to WordPress or new to websites, and marketing, and you’re like more of just a teacher trying to get online or whatever. How do you … What are the basics of getting started with an SEO plugin? What are the key places to focus on after you press install and activate?
Brendan Tully: Sure, so I’ll give you a couple. Okay, number one is fill out as many fields as you can. Go through every single panel in the plugin and everything that makes sense, like so in our agency business, we will load up a site, open up, they have Yoast installed as most people do these days, and none of the fields are completed in the plugin, like simple stuff in the Yoast plugin. There’s a social section where you fill out your business name and you put an image, your logo image, and you enter all your social properties, and YouTube and everything else, and those aren’t filled in.
Those don’t need an SEO expert to fill them in, so I’d say go through and just complete as many fields as you can. The two other low hanging fruit, like a lot of people think SEO, backlinks, that’s how they link it up in their head. But there’s two really low hanging fruit quick win areas when it comes to SEO and those are meta description, and I’ll give you a link to a short video training that explains how we write meta descriptions.
One thing we do particularly for our bigger clients is meta description optimization, so the blurb that appears in the search results when your site appears. In the AdWords world, it’s well known that ad copy makes a big difference. Small changes in ad copy can double the click-through rates. If you swap the top and bottom lines on an AdWords ad around, you can get double click-through rates. That’s twice as much traffic from that same ad. You haven’t really done anything to it, you’ve tweaked a few elements.
A lot of people don’t realize, or in the SEO world it’s never really talked about. Meta descriptions are exactly the same thing as an AdWords ad, except they’re free. Actually giving some attention to your meta description, so handcrafting it, spending some time to think about it, and write it as if it’s a sales blurb, and use some of those same technologies as you would use in AdWords, can in some cases get a 50% or a 100% increase in traffic.
Now, I’ll link you up to some resources that explain how we do that. Simple things like capitalizing, putting important words like free in all caps or fast, like, “FREE FAST SHIPPING” in all caps so it stands out, and using capitals at the start of every word in that meta description.
Actually having a meta description written for every page on the website so that every page is unique, so ideally every page should have a meta description. You can template it across the site, so in Yoast, you can set a template for the meta description, for all pages and all blog posts, so if they don’t have one manually written, then it will just default to that template.
I’d say writing in the meta description, handcrafting it and writing it in a sales copy type of way. That would be one thing to do. Then, another thing to do, which is a similar thing but for the socials, so creating a custom Open Graph image for whenever you create content, ideally having a custom Open Graph image for each piece of content, but in again, in a similar way, you can set a default Open Graph image across the whole website.
I’ll link you up to a tool, a Facebook tool that will show you what your website looks like when you share it on the socials, or a page on your site looks like when you share it on socials. So, again, creating a custom imagine for the Open Graph tags will increase the click-through rate from the socials and anywhere else that that page or your site is shared, like Slack, Skype, Facebook Messenger, that sort of thing.
Those few things are not really, they’re not the hard typical SEO backlinks, but they can make a huge difference, particularly to a business that already has momentum. If you already have a traffic strategy and you’re already making sales, doing these small little things which are not really, there’s no SEO skills required, doing these small things can make a huge difference to the traffic, particularly as it’s a percentage win, so if it’s a 20% traffic win, if you already have decent traffic numbers, if you’re doing 5 or 10,000 visitors a month, those are fairly substantial. 20% increase on traffic on that, it’s fairly substantial for something that might take, the meta descriptions might take a few hours to do.
The custom Open Graph image, open up Canva and you can knock that out in those 20 minutes, so those would probably be, I think there was three there I gave you, so filling out as many fields as you understand that makes sense, meta descriptions are so important that nobody talks about really, no one in the SEO space really gives it any attention, and then Open Graph images and at a minimum, setting a default Open Graph image across the entire website.
In the Yoast plugin, I think it’s under the social menu and you’ll see there’s somewhere to, there’s a section in there, social, the Facebook tab, and then you set the image there. So, really easy stuff, no real SEO skills required, and it can make a huge difference, so yeah.
Chris Badgett: And that stuff is in Brendan’s course, and I implemented that stuff. Some of it I had just been focused on other things and I realized some of my social sharing images, like for my podcast, had my face cut off. It was just the wrong size image, it was terrible. It was a five minute fix, and now when that’s shared, it actually looks like a presentable graphic. Just to be clear, the meta descriptions like when you search something in Google, there’s big blue letters, the title, and then the meta description is the little paragraph below that.
If you don’t tell Google what to put there, it’s going to do the best it can, but you might be linking to a page on your website that just has a video on it and a button that’s super important to your business, and it’s got nothing to grab, there’s no content to grab. It literally, it’ll show a blank. But yeah, I noticed I started implementing a lot of this stuff, and I do have big traffic to our software site. I noticed an uptick in sales right away.
It was like, these easy things that I noticed like, “Oh, my gosh, there’s a trend there. There’s a little bump.” I was like, “Okay.” Talk about as a student, what makes taking a course motivating is results, and so you were giving me results quickly and I could see it. Like, I could look at my Google Analytics and see the results.
You talk about phone number a bunch. I wanted to get into that. I’m a big fan of the phone number. For me, I use a tool called Calendly, where I don’t put my phone number out there but I make it super easy for people to schedule calls with me or my team. Sales calls, basically. But it’s basically like I’m not hiding behind a website, and sometimes when I talk to people they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I’m talking to you. Usually I can’t get ahold of people at these companies, and blabbity blah.” It’s like a huge trust factor. Can you talk about the phone number issue and your take on it?
Brendan Tully: Yeah. I mean, what we see, particularly ’cause we deal with so many … Or, we deal with a lot of local businesses, but in the eCommerce space a lot of people want to hide behind, they want the passive income dream. They want to wake up and have an inbox full of money basically. They don’t want to talk on the phone but what we’ve found is just by having the phone number in the header of the site, and we actually put the phone number in the title tag and the meta descriptions of our eCommerce sites, just by having it there engenders trust.
So, people need three things to buy from you. When people are buying, they need to check these three boxes, and if you can’t check these three boxes, then they won’t buy from you. They need demand or desire, they need to want what you’re selling. They need a way to pay for it, so whether or not they have the money or they can put it on credit card or you offer finance, and then they need trust. Trust in you, the company, the products and services you’re selling.
Having the phone number there is an easy way to shortcut that trust element. They don’t necessarily need to talk to you, but they need to have that feeling that if something goes wrong, they can pick up the phone and call you. Having the phone number there is powerful and then if it’s a 1800 number, we see a lot of small business owners put their mobile cell number on the site, and that makes it look small.
Whereas, if you have a free call number, an 800 number, in Australia it’s a 1800 number, it makes you look bigger and more serious. It whispers things to the visitor and you don’t necessarily, these people aren’t necessarily going to be getting a lot of extra phone calls from it, but they are converting more. So, these things were hard 5 or 10 years ago. It was really tough to get phone numbers and mess around with it, but today, so we use Twilio and we use CallRail as our two call tools.
It’s easy to push these numbers around, you can push them to a voicemail which then sends to email. You don’t actually have to be answering the phone, you can call people back. We use Calendly as well to book appointments. We use answering services. There’s ways to leverage the power of phone numbers without having that, “Oh, I’m always having to answer my phone” or, “This number’s redirecting to my cell” or, “I don’t have someone there 24/7 to answer it.”
I think the phone number’s really powerful. There’s a turning point on the web right now, like from my perspective, that we’ve gone through this era where people look at analytics tools and they just see numbers. They don’t see the people behind those numbers. I think we’re at this tipping point where the businesses that think of their visitors as real people who have lives, fears, desires, whatever, and treating them like real people, I think those businesses long term are going to win. I think the phone number is an easy way to connect with people, it’s the shortest way to get to a sale. Someone’s got a question, they pick up the phone and call you. “Yep, question’s answered. I’ll buy something.” I love phone numbers.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, don’t be scared of the phone. That would be my advice. On that note, I notice you use chat and I’m known on Twitter at least as a Drift super fan.
Brendan Tully: I use Drift as well.
Chris Badgett: Is chat just the same thing as the phone number? Allowing people to directly connect with people and not wait for emails and stuff?
Brendan Tully: Yeah, I think so, right? It’s a shortcut again, like it’s the easiest way. Those people need questions answered, people need to know things before they buy, so it’s an easy way to solve that problem. I love Drift as well, so we’ve used so many Drift tools over the years, and I don’t know why Drift feels so good, but it’s just easy to use on the frontend, and on the backend, it has an app. Like a lot of the Drift chats come through to my phone as well, and the team can deal with it. I don’t know, it’s just a fantastic app. I think the base plan is free as well, which makes it even better.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, Drift is super cool. I was actually chatting to somebody on my team who helps with sales, and as we were talking, somebody from a university had questions about our largest package, which is a $3000 annual plan. She was like, “Hold on a second, I’m getting these questions about” what we call the infinity bundle developer license, which is a big software kit.
She just handled those through Drift, and then I watched in my Slack, and boom, the eCommerce light went on. I was like, “Yeah, the tool, that’s what people want.” Especially in sales, when they have questions, they don’t want to wait.
Brendan Tully: Yep, exactly. People are ready to buy. 3% of any market’s ready to buy right now, so you get the roadblocks out of the way, right? I’m a huge fan of Drift.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s a super tool. Among your many other talents, you’re also a documentary film star. I saw you on the-
Brendan Tully: Jesus.
Chris Badgett: I saw you on Your Own Way Out. Your friend Tom Libelt, who was a guest on this episode, great podcast about course marketing, go check that out. But he filmed a documentary with another guy, and you are in it. You were one of the people on there, which was kind of from my perspective, it was a snapshot in time looking at the digital nomad movement. I think that might have been filmed around the Dynamite Circle meetups. Could be wrong.
Brendan Tully: Yeah, I think it was 2015. Maybe 2014, but yeah, it was filmed, a lot of it was filmed in Bangkok I think, around a conference, yeah.
Chris Badgett: I’ve had an agency like before I got into software, doing website stuff, I took it on the road, I lived in Costa Rica for a while. I have kids and I’m a little bit more settled now, but I’ve seen the digital nomad movement change. I really enjoyed watching that. I thought the interview series was great with that snapshot in time and I think you said 2015. How has the digital nomad world changed? Here we are in 2018, three years later, what’s different?
One of the things you’ve already mentioned was that the passive income, there’s a little bit more if you want it to really work these days, you’ve got to engage, or you need to build systems and processes to have real human beings connect with each other. It’s not about building a perfect marketing, automating, high conversion machine. There’s just some humanity in it, like how’s the industry evolving? How is that movement evolving?
Brendan Tully: Yeah, I think, so I spent several years traveling and living overseas. I guess I started in 2013 traveling, and I spent a lot of time in Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand. I think back then it felt a bit special and like we were doing something different and it was unique and back then you wouldn’t tell customers where you were, because if you’re in Thailand, you’re on holidays and you weren’t serious about business or work or whatever.
But I think now it’s just nothing. Corporate workers work remotely, they work at home, they work from anywhere. And smartphones are a big part of that, but I don’t think being able to work on the move, or work and travel or whatever way you want to frame it is a big deal. The remote work movement is a massive deal now. Like, it just didn’t exist a few years ago, but you look at sites like I think it’s RemoteOk by Pieter Levels. It’s just every day, there’s 10 or 20 really high level jobs on there for remote work.
It’s not just someone with a laptop and a backpack right now like it used to be, like hustling together 1000 bucks a month so they can do the travel and work thing. It’s I think a genuine way of working now, and I think the traditional office doesn’t work like it used to.
You don’t necessarily have to be a digital nomad and travel the world. You have kids, a lot of people in corporate jobs now work … My sister works two days from home and she has a proper corporate kind of job. I think it was very special before and it was unique, but I think it’s just how people work now. I think the mainstream have caught up to what was people that were leading this path.
I don’t think there’s particularly anything special about the digital nomad space, apart from it has a special name where it’s really just remote work. That’s what the mainstream is calling it, I think.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Those are some good thoughts. One of your other projects is called WP Speed Fix. What was the genesis of that? I’m assuming by the name, it’s a service that helps people dramatically speed up their WordPress websites.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. We do WordPress speed optimization. It started just as one of those services that we offer agency clients. It was just something we were doing as part of SEO. We have a post on our website that ranks really high now for things related to WordPress speed optimization. I started getting questions about it, then we created the Gravity forms, we split it out into its own service. It was a Gravity form, if you wanted this service you could buy it, and our team would just fix slow websites.
And now it’s its own fully fledged business, so we split it out into its own brand and own website 6 or 12 months ago, and now it has a life of its own. I mean, WordPress speed is huge. WordPress powers 30-40% of the web, and out of the box it isn’t particularly fast. Speed is an important factor. There’s all these numbers that are thrown around that are about one second slower is 1% conversion rate. I don’t know how true any of those are, but at the end of the day, if a website’s slow to load, people quickly lose interest and click away.
Speed is key. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll sell more if you have a faster website, but you’re probably losing sales right now if your site is slow. It’s an interesting project. We have a technical team, our developers are quite technical, so it’s an easy thing for our team to do.
Chris Badgett: It’s an implementation service with a specific promise?
Brendan Tully: Yep, yep. We have three levels of service right now. The base one, we have the site loading in under three seconds. Of all of the sites we get are taking 10 to 20 seconds to load, and they have huge images, and the sites are 10 or 20 megs, so they’re just super slow. The guys do a baseline level of best practices, speed stuff, on the base plan, and then on the high plans, they really get in there and fine tune it and get it loading as fast as possible.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I just want to highlight, ’cause now you said it twice, it started in an agency, you had an agency, a problem that you were helping your agency clients. You wrote a blog post about it, demand was like, signals were up, people were contacting you about this WordPress speed up post that you wrote. Then you made a Gravity form to validate the idea and probably did the high touch concierge deal. Then later, once that was successful, you built a team and a process around it and just kept scaling it out. Ultimately carving it out into its own brand. I mean, that’s amazing. To me, that sounds like the right way to do things.
Sometimes people start with, they start, they try to do that in reverse. Like, “Okay, I’ve got this great offer. I’m going to carve out its own brand, I’m going to build a beautiful website and a team, and then I’m going to put it up for sale,” where you kind of did the bootstrapper model. Any comments on that?
Brendan Tully: Not really. I mean, looking back it was kind of easy and it was obvious. It was just something to that evolved over time. It was like, “People are asking about it. We can help you if you want. You pay us to help you, we’ll fix it.” It just evolved organically, so it just felt like … I think sometimes when it feels like it’s too easy, that’s probably the path you should follow. I’ve had a few things in life like that, that almost like I’d say in some of my conversations with people, I’d say, “It feels like a rort. It’s too easy.” It’s just people want the service, we do it well, they buy it, everybody’s happy. It feels like effortless in a way.
Chris Badgett: Can you talk about the transition from you validating the idea to developing a process and hiring a team around it? How do you bridge that gap?
Brendan Tully: It’s a lot of, “Should I do it? Should I not do it?” And then one day I just get fed up with it, and it’s happened a few times and I’m like, “All right, I’ll spend the weekend just dealing with it and let’s just throw some time at it.” To build it out into its own brand was maybe 40 hours, 50 hours of my time, sitting down, messing around with our guys, tweaking the process. We used Process Street and Zendesk and Zapier to tie it all together.
Chris Badgett: What is Process Street do? I’m just not familiar with that. Is it like a [crosstalk 00:35:04]-
Brendan Tully: Oh, Process Street is amazing. It’s like Drift. It’s one of those game changer pieces of software. It’s a checklist, it’s like an SOP and checklist in one. You have a template, it has the process to do stuff that is also a checklist, and it’s similar to how an info product would be laid out. You’d have modules and has a video and text explanation, and it has checkboxes.
We use that for all of our processes, ’cause we’re dealing with technical things that I’m mostly the same. 95% of the time, it is the same process. The work might vary slightly, but we walk through the same steps. I don’t think we’d be able to run the business now without Process Street. I think things would just fall apart, because everything comes back to the process, and then if something doesn’t work, we just go and tweak the Process Street checklist for it.
Because it’s based on a template system, then every future checklist that’s built on that process has that improvement. That’s been a key for like building out the team and having people be able to do these technical things and training and things like that. Internally, we actually use our own training products, and then each one pretty much has a Process Street mirror of that, the work we need to do is in Process Street. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s definitely worth having a look, especially if you do anything, even stuff like we have a Process Street for publishing our podcast and publishing content and things like that, ’cause it’s just, every time something goes wrong, we come back to the checklist in Process Street.
Chris Badgett: Does your team take any part in updating the processes, or does that … Who updates it? Do you update it? Do they update it? Does everybody update it?
Brendan Tully: The team, depending what it is, we might talk about the update, we might talk about something we have to change. The guys might edit things, or update things, and especially things like screenshots. Software changes all the time, so we need to tweak screenshots or tweak the way we’re doing it, or might be some gaps in there. I’ll do it or the team will do it.
We have a daily standup call, so we have a 10-15 minute call every day where everyone talks about what they’re doing for the day, and if there’s some gaps or problems that arise from that, then people will dig into it. Someone will update it. It’s not necessarily me, but yeah.
Chris Badgett: That is awesome. Well Brendan Tully, ladies and gentleman, thanks for coming on the show. Pareto eCommerce, if you want to up your SEO game, and not just hear a bunch of good ideas and theory, but get moving into action and get results quickly, I highly recommend Brendan’s course. Pareto eCommerce. If you want to speed up your WordPress website, I guarantee you listening out there, you have a WordPress website, and it’s probably slower than you think. Try that website outside of the 4G/LTE network or whatever, and website speed can get really bad and amplified.
Speed problems when you’re on mobile, or in countries, if you have an international business, not everybody has great internet, or people in rural areas. It’s a really important thing to look at. That’s over at WPSpeedFix.com. Brendan, thanks for coming on the show and sharing your story with us. I really appreciate it.
Brendan Tully: Thanks man.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMSCast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses. To help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life, head on over to LifterLMS.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.