Episode 349

Exploring the WordPress LMS for Non Profits Niche and Community Building with Carol Stambaugh

Learn about exploring the WordPress LMS for nonprofits niche and community building with Carol Stambaugh in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS. Carol shares insights into how she got started in the nonprofit space and building websites for nonprofit businesses, along with some industry insights you may want to consider when entering the space.

Exploring the WordPress LMS for non profits niche and community building with Carol Stambaugh

Carol has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work. She started as a social worker years ago, and was the executive director of two different nonprofit organizations. What made her fall in love with the web is when she discovered the concept of a CMS. A CMS is a Content Management System, which is a way to build websites without having to write it via code, like HTML or PHP, from the ground up. This was about the time WordPress was born.

Carol began to see and understand how a website’s CMS could actually make a nonprofit’s job easier. The nonprofit could really tie itself and its functionality and some of the work that it does to a website and rely on the website to do some of the heavy lifting where website building was less accessible to nonprofits with lower budgets and without access to a developer.

As Carol got into creating sites for nonprofits and teaching them how they can do the same, she became recognized in her group of nonprofits as someone who was good at website building. And she had people fly her to different states to teach them the things that she had learned and teach them how to set their website up.

Growing a community and community marketing are two important areas to online course creation, and stability early on is important to fostering a growing community. Being overly accessible to everyone by having all different times available for meetings can actually end up with less community stability. The consistency really helps with scaling. If you’re doing live/online events that time or format can change, but having general inconsistency will often end up with high community churn.

To learn more about Carol Stambaugh be sure to head to RadiateForGood.com. She’s also on Twitter at @carolstambaugh, and her email is [email protected].

And at LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay till the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest. Her name is Carol Stambaugh. She’s from RadiateWP and radiateforgood.com. She’s a WordPress professional. She is an organizer of the Phoenix Meetup. Did I say it right?

Carol Stambaugh: It’s actually the Arizona… We call it the Arizona Meetup, but we’re mainly in Phoenix. We’ve got a fairly big group. So, yeah.

Chris Badgett: Originally, LifterLMS started in California. Thomas moved to Phoenix, we moved our office to Phoenix. It’s cool to have the Phoenix connection there. Something you may not know about me is I actually have a background in cultural and applied anthropology. I know you’re doing some stuff with native studies and nonprofit. We’re going to be talking about the intersection of WordPress and technology in general, culture, education, and really how those worlds collide and dig into it today. But first, Carol, welcome to the show.

Carol Stambaugh: Thanks so much. I’m so glad to be here. I love it.

Chris Badgett: You recently or as of this recording, before the show, we were talking about your niching into the nonprofit sector. Tell us more about radiateforgood.com. You have a big website building WordPress care plan background, but what’s up with the niching into nonprofits?

Carol Stambaugh: Well, it really is taking me back to where I started. I actually have my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work. I started as a social worker years ago, and was the executive director of two different nonprofit organizations. What made me fall in love with the web is whenever I discovered a CMS, this was in the early days of what a CMS was. This was about the time that WordPress was born. It was not WordPress that I initially fell in love with, it was one that was specifically designed for associations, because I was the executive director of an association.

But I began to see and understand how a website’s CMS could actually make a nonprofit’s job easier, and how the nonprofit could really tie itself and its functionality and some of the work that it does, and rely on the websites to do some of the heavy lifting. As I got into doing that, I became recognized in my little group of nonprofit execs, as someone who was good at this, and I had people actually fly me to different states, and teach them some of the things that I had learned, and teach them how to set their website up and do some of the similar things that I was doing.

That was the beginning for me. I actually come from the nonprofit world, then moved into WordPress, and began doing WordPress for 10 years now. We have an agency, RadiateWP that does care plans. I’ve just always felt that pull back to the nonprofit. When my business partner and I just started looking at ways we could niche in, it was just the obvious thing, because I’m already very familiar with what it’s like to be in those nonprofit shoes. We really are working more closely with nonprofits in helping to manage their websites.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. For the WordPress professionals out there, I think there’s a common misconception that there’s no money in nonprofits or one of the differences I like to think of is, a for profit business, the board or whatever is accountable to the shareholder, whereas with a nonprofit, it’s more about the mission. Just because it’s a nonprofit, it doesn’t mean there aren’t funding or resources available for the website and whatnot. But could you give us any other… If a WordPress professional is watching this and they’re trying to niche?

Carol Stambaugh: You left with the whole idea about, I believe, because I started connecting again about the whole idea of nonprofits and there’s this idea that they may not have the money. I actually want to reinforce that that’s absolutely true. There are just a different set of stakeholders and a different set of priorities, and they are mission driven and mission focused.

A nonprofit doesn’t mean I don’t make a profit, it means that their profit is turned back into what they do for the organization. That may be improving a website. It basically, it’s reinvesting the profit into the organization, whereas for profits, obviously go to someone who actually profits off of the business. You’re right, there is this feeling that a nonprofit, they don’t have money, you’re never going to work with them, or you shouldn’t work with them. On the contrary, oftentimes, because nonprofits also have a very mission driven focus, they often have resources that other small businesses don’t, for example, educational grants.

I’m working with a client right now who’s working with a federal grant to improve some education. That education means, online courses were built with Lifter. There are definitely options and opportunities. Working with nonprofits is different, because you are working a little bit more with a group of people, and you have to understand your decision makers and your stakeholders, versus a business owner or maybe one or two people.

There’s a little bit of dynamic change with that. But I’m super comfortable with that, because that’s where I come from, and I understand that world. If you’re going to work into the nonprofit world, you have to understand a little bit about how they work, you have to understand that they have bylaws, they have boards of directors, they have ways in which they work, and you have to be familiar with that. But if you get familiar with that, it’s a great group of people to work with, and I really love our nonprofits, clients. They’re just genuinely awesome to work with.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, mission driven organizations, they have a special feel to it. It’s hard for me to think of a nonprofit or a mission driven organization that doesn’t have some kind of education need. It just seems like, when there’s a mission, there’s learning happening. Even internally, within the organization, or externally with the public, or whoever they’re trying to serve or whatever.

Carol Stambaugh: Yeah. They definitely go hand in hand.

Chris Badgett: I’m fascinated by this idea of bricks turning into bits. If a nonprofit is coming out of a world for various reasons, where they’re trying to reach more scale, or use the internet more, the website can do that, in terms of messaging, and a gathering place, if you will, but what do you see it for nonprofits and learning online? What are the jobs to be done in that sector?

Carol Stambaugh: I just keep thinking about this one particular client that I’m working with, and they’re just such the perfect example. They’re a museum, and they provide a lot of education. That museum, they have field trips, so school children come into the museum on their school field trips, and they learn different things. But one of the things that the museum wants to do is have post field trip learning. They want to be able to create short little, they call them lessons, but you and I would call them a course in LMS terms.

In LMS terms, they want to create these little courses, that’s like a, now that you’re home from your field trip, share what you learned with your family. Then you’re taking the child and their field trip and what they learned there and saw in real life, and preparing an online version of that, that they can then go home, log in, show videos, show some of the things that they saw, and share that with their family. Then also go to the little lesson that has, learn more about this. Then they can learn even more, and research a little bit more about the way of life of the Native American tribe, from this river valley.

That’s what we’re looking at. It’s all very exciting, because we’re not talking about impacting just the child and the school children, it’s like taking it home, and it’s taking it home to the family. I can tell from a personal experience, the importance of having these type of things available during the middle of the pandemic last year, due to some weird things with our family situation, I pulled my son out of one school, and was homeschooling him until the beginning of the next semester.

I’m not a teacher, that was not the plan. I was looking for any kind of curriculum, or online learning that I could find anywhere, that I could just keep his brain going. I just needed his brain to continue learning, and to continue seeing and doing new things. That’s another thing that this museum, and some of the stuff that you do with a nonprofit, and this community education, is that you can actually build curriculum, and you can build knowledge, and you can share knowledge that can become part of maybe a homeschool curriculum, or in my case, it was an emergency curriculum, because I didn’t have a school for my child at the time. In the middle of the pandemic, there are a lot of people like me. That’s not normal, we hope that’s not going to be a normal thing, but there are a lot of homeschool families that will embrace that kind of knowledge when it’s out there. It does, it connects that nonprofits to this family who may never walk in the door.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s really incredible. What happens inside the walls of the museum is important, but we have media. I think we’ve seen this before, a version of this story before with documentaries, perhaps, a child or the parent gets really interested in a certain type of Native American history or some science thing. Then, they start the documentary at home. The course, the lessons, the online communities, the online groups is like another version of content that’s perhaps got more features, more structure, more depth to it.

In some ways, there’s this trend in eLearning, called the flipped classroom, where if you think about your museum, as an example, as the classroom, a flipped classroom, a lot of the learning happens outside of the class, and then when people come into the actual classroom, it’s more of like a coaching and enrichment thing, but they’re mostly learning online outside of the classroom, flipping that idea of homework on its head that the learning is outside, and then on the inside, we’re just trying to support the learner and coach and things like that.

Curriculum provider is really interesting. I’ve seen some people… Because WordPress is so flexible, the tools can be bent to do different things from an expert teaching on a topic for profit to a company trying to train their employees, to a remote school trying to connect teachers and students, to a curriculum provider, that’s another major use case we see. We’ve got people who work at NASA that are creating science curriculum for kids, and they deliver that at scales into schools with LifterLMS. I’ve seen somebody do that with agricultural learning content and ecology content.

I saw another entrepreneur do it with actually entrepreneurship content, where he would license his entrepreneurship course, almost like a virtual textbook, to college professors of entrepreneurship all over the United States. This idea of being a publisher of the content, whether you’re the expert or not, like in your case, partnering with the expert, and we’re trying to digitize all this subject matter and make it approachable outside of the museum or whatever, it can open up so much scale.

It’s like that idea of B2C, business to customer. B2B, business to business, B2… Whatever. You can go all, you can go big, you can do both.

Carol Stambaugh: Well, and that’s an element we’re looking at as well. That’s one of the elements that this particular client is looking at, not just having ongoing course where a family or a child can continue, but the teacher is able to just basically pull curriculum and teach from that curriculum. One of the things that we actually we’re talking about this just very recently, there are different state standards. I am not a teacher, I’m not in education, but I guess there’s science standard number three, and math standard number, whatever.

So, a teacher designs a curriculum to meet those standards, and then what’s really cool too about Lifter is that you can use tags, and then you can do a tag to tag the different state standards on which course meets those state standards so that you can then have a great place where a teacher says, “Okay, I need science, give me some science.” Then they can go in and they can find some science, third grade standards, and then can start pulling that content and be able to deliver that content to their classroom.

That’s another thing that we’re looking at as a feature for this particular nonprofit. It’s super exciting. This is changing how teachers may teach.

Chris Badgett: I’m excited. This is one of the things that makes WordPress and an LMS special, is WordPress, a CMS or content management system has already been working on this issue for so long. You’re talking about Tags and Categories and things like this, how do we structure lots of content, the CMS has already been working on this. That LMS builds on top of that, in terms of structuring the content, the learning paths and keeping it organized from a teacher or a school or organization perspective.

Somebody once told me that, “Hey, you don’t realize it, but you don’t have an LMS, you have an LCMS.” I’m like, “What’s that?” They said, “It’s a learning content management system.” A lot of LMSs are just waiting for you to upload some content into it. But because of WordPress, you can actually create the content inside the LMS, and really get fancy with it.

What’s your approach… Some clients in WordPress, they may be small, and they got this one thing, but to me, a nonprofit or mission driven organization like a museum, they may have a lot of stuff. How do you help them, when you work with them, figure out, where do we start? How do we approach this big project?

Carol Stambaugh: Well, whenever we talk about that, there’s a couple of things that come to mind. The first thing that comes to mind is well, we manage. We do a lot of management. We’ve talked a lot about the LMS today, just because that’s what we’re talking about, and it’s exciting to talk with you about Lifter, and about what we’re doing. But a lot of what RadiateWP does, is we do management plans.

This LifterLMS, the LMS we’re talking about, it’s a small portion about what we’re going to do. Our management plan is really a huge part of what we do. The first thing we do, anytime we bring a client on, is we do a very comprehensive site audit. Our site audit process takes about three to four weeks, and we have about three different people who come in and touch the site audit in different ways. They look at different things. We’re looking at user interface, we’re looking at SEO, we’re looking at accessibility, we’re looking at page speed and performance. We’re looking at all of these things, and we use a really neat tool that helps us do this, but we’ve also modified this tool to really work for us.

Then once that audit is done, we deliver this really cool report that has a punch list. It’s like these are the things that need to be done right now. We need to look at page speed, we’ve got accessibility issues here. We have this list of things that we deliver, and then the person who heads up our site audits, she actually will record a video, and we’ll go through the report. She actually records the screen. Most of these videos are 20 to 25 minutes long, and she literally walks you through the report and explains out everything about the reports.

We then, from there, work with them and prioritize what’s the first thing we want to do. Then, of course, as a maintenance planner and providing maintenance plan, we also do support and so we provide support hours. During our support time, we will do some of those fixes. Sometimes our clients like to do their own fixes, especially if it’s something like alternative text. You need a lot of alternative text on your images, you can do that. You know what the images are better than we do.

Sometimes our support to them is creating a video that shows them how to do whatever it is that they need to do. We will work with the client to get those fixes done, however they want to do. If they want to do them themselves, fine, absolutely, go for it. We’re not possessive of who does them, we just want to show you what needs to be done, and we want to support you getting them done. If you’re just like, “I don’t want to do any of it, I’m too busy.” Fine, that’s what we’re here for. We can take those on, and we’ll get those fixes done for you.

That’s actually how we work as an agency, and that’s the very first thing that we do. Our first full month is we’re getting to know that site, and we’re doing that site audit, and we’re onboarding and figuring out what’s going on. That’s how we start every site, whether it’s big or small, every site is going to get one of those.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. There’s a segment of the folks that listen to this and watch in the Lifter community in general, that build LMS sites for clients. There’s so much focus on getting it off the ground, getting a new thing launched, or a total redo or whatever. But I see a lot of people asking for, how do I keep going? How do I build care plans? How do I stay with my clients longer and be a little more proactive than reactive?

I think he just gave a great framework around how to… Basically, you got to investigate, you got to find what’s needed. Then you got to adapt to the client. Some want you to do it for them and want to just hand it off. Some people want to be empowered to learn how to do it, you go both ways. Any other advice for people trying to create stable, recurring businesses around websites for clients, not just launching the site initially?

Carol Stambaugh: I think that just being really flexible with how the client wants to work is really important, and just supporting them in however way that they want to be supported. Our site audit, it’s an event, but it’s also a crux that leads to what we do… It’s like the plan for how we’re going to work with them and what they need to be doing.

I think, doing some kind of audit, and working with that. Also, whenever we bring a new client on, the first thing I say, or one of the very first things I say to a client is, “Your website will never be done. Ever. Do not ever think your website is done.” If you ever had this magical feeling that, oh, I’m going to launch my site, and then whenever we fix this, it will be done. No, it’s never going to be done ever, ever. The site audit, that could have been a perfect site audit a year ago, we now have the new Google Core Web Vitals, boom, we’ve got a new thing to look at. Your site will never be done, ever.

There’s no shame in that. I think people who also build a site or create, I think it’s helpful to create an expectation to begin with, so that when the words that you use, when we build your site, and when we launch. Okay, well, that’s not the end, that’s just the beginning. When you launch your site, then the work continues to make sure that everything’s updated, to make sure that new content is added correctly. How many of us have seen a beautiful new site, that’s all great, and styled writes, and then content is added, and it’s styled all weird, and then all of a sudden, everything breaks because it wasn’t… It’s just never done. I think getting that message across to clients that your website is a living, breathing animal, and you can’t stop feeding it, and you need to always feed it if you want it to live.

Chris Badgett: Great advice there. Let’s talk about project management a little bit. You mentioned working with nonprofits. There’s more of a group decision making thing and I know, even working with for profits, maybe it’s just one person, perhaps one client that just keeping the communication together and getting forward progress, getting the content, getting the decisions, whatever needs to be made to be successful with the project. What advice do you have for keeping that relationship healthy, and especially in the context and moving forward, like continuous momentum, especially in the context of multiple stakeholders and decision makers that get involved in the process?

Carol Stambaugh: I think first of all, it’s most important to find out at the very beginning, who is in the game, and who are the decision makers in the game, and what role do they all play? Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes, agencies are pretty forthcoming with that. Then sometimes with all organizations, there are politics, or there may be a hidden stakeholder who this person’s opinion, while they are not necessarily the stakeholder, their opinion, actually is weighed very heavily, so the stakeholder listens to this person, and you don’t know that.

I think asking a lot of questions up front, who’s the decision maker? Who’s the one that makes the final decision? Who does this decision maker listen to? Who has the ear of the decision maker? Who are the people in your office that you ask advice for, that other people listen to their advice? It’s the formal decision makers and the informal decision makers and understanding. That’s not just nonprofits, that’s anything. I think that’s just general good advice. Then understanding who those are. Once you know those players, and once you understand those and see them, working with them, and keeping them all in the loop and communicate, communicate, communicate.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. What about, you mentioned taking head on the mindset that the website’s never done. It’s an organism that you continually need to feed and take care of, and adapt and evolve. What advice do you have on helping a client who may not see it that way, at first, understand that, oh, I’m not hiring a one off website here, I’m actually creating a technology partnership with this expert, with my online platform. How do you get to a solid understanding there?

Carol Stambaugh: There’s no magical cure about that. What I try my best to do is explain that there was websites back when websites began that were built with HTML, and they were static. Some of those sites are still there today, and look exactly the way they were before. Those are not really organisms, and they can live until… They will never rot, they’re just there. I explained that, because we have sites now that are way more dynamic, and that can do so many more things, we have all of these pillars that are working together.

I talk to and I try and educate my client, and I say, “We’ve got WordPress core software. We’ve got even server software like PHP that lives on the server. We’ve got themes, we’ve got plugins. We’ve got all of these little ramps or these little stages, and if one stage goes really high, but the other stages around it don’t rise with it, then the chair that was balancing on the stage will fall off, because you didn’t keep the WordPress core updated, whenever PHP did an update. All of these things will topple off. You may be very lucky, and it may go great for three years.”

But the people who are really lucky, sometimes tend to be the people who all of a sudden when it breaks, boy does it break, and it just really falls apart in a hurry. I really just trying to educate people and try to get them to imagine that three or four pillar stage, and that all of those have to continue to rise together, because if they don’t, the furniture and everything on it will just fall off and just completely go into disarray.

Chris Badgett: That’s good. Well, let’s talk about the WordPress community a little bit. You co-organize a meetup. Tell us the story of how you got involved with not just using WordPress but becoming the member of a community, going out and meeting other people in person. When I started, I was just a guy who used WordPress to build sites for clients, and then I discovered like, whoa, there’s this whole community thing. I went to some meetups, conferences, and then the rest is history. But how was it for you, and what would you have to say about the WordPress community?

Carol Stambaugh: I think I’m probably one of… I’m a little bit abnormal as far as how I came into the community. I left my job as… I was the executive director of a nonprofit association, and I managed to community, that’s what I did. My job was to manage an association that had over 2,000 members. I provided education for them. I was a manager of a professional meetup group, if you will. I left that job and started doing what I’m doing now, and I immediately felt the void of not having a community.

I saw WordCamp Phoenix 2011 advertise. A really funny story about that is, I actually had someone who wanted to fly me to the Virgin Islands to do some training for their organization in the Virgin Islands. But it was the same weekend as WordCamp. Phoenix, I declined the Virgin Islands trip. Completely paid trip. I declined the trip to the Virgin Islands because there was something inside and something intuitively telling me, I really want to go to this WordPress or this WordCamp. I think that there’s something there I want to meet some people. I just knew. I didn’t know what it was.

I attended WordCamp, I started meeting people, I got to learn a lot. At that point, I had maybe opened WordPress once or twice, I was doing other things. I was using a CMS that was more specific to associations. I really wasn’t familiar with WordPress, at that point. I learned a lot about WordPress, I met some people, and I was like, hey, this is pretty cool. I would love to get involved with this group of friendly folks. After WordCamp, they had their first meetup group, and they got people together. The meetup had not been meeting very consistently, they had been off and on.

They got their meetup group together, and of course, I attended, and the person who was going to take the leadership role and move on, because I need some help, can someone help? Well, here’s Carol goes, “I’ll help. I don’t know anything about WordPress, but I can help find speakers. I can help do this. I’ll set up chairs, I’ll do this, I’ll do whatever I can that has nothing to do with WordPress.” I, at this point, am an assistant organizer of the Arizona Meetup.

We had this meetup organizer, that would have been from July, until October, and October, he’s like, “Carol, I’ve got a really great opportunity to go to San Francisco, you’re now the Meetup chair.” I’m like, “What?” I was less than a year into being a WordPress professional. I was now working with it, and I was working with it pretty consistently, but I still considered myself a newbie. But what I knew about community, and this is from being in communities before, what I knew about community is the power of the community isn’t necessarily the knowledge and power of one person, it’s the power of knowing a bunch of people who know the right person.

I’m like, okay, I can do this. I don’t have to know WordPress. I just have to know people who do know WordPress. I just charged ahead, started leading the meetup, and I’m like, I’m not going to speak. I’m not an expert. I was not an expert at the time. I’m like, okay, I need someone who knows about this. Who can do it? I would just get these people in, and our community grew.

At that time, we only had one site, we now have… I think at the time, we had about 600 members, now we’re up to 2,600 members. A lot of that has to do with the explosion of WordPress as a platform, and our community has so many active volunteers. It’s not just me. We’ve got so many volunteers who put so much into it. Because of all of those volunteers, the community has just grown. I actually came to the WordPress community, almost before I came to WordPress. It’s like I came to the community and then I became more of a WordPress expert. I think I came to it a little backwards.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. This is actually one of the big themes of the show is community building, as a part of educational entrepreneurship, and it’s not just about content, it’s also people tend to learn and grow in groups. You dropped so many great things there about the power of the network and not having to have all the answers, but connect with people and find the people.

Whether it’s online or in-person meetups, or digital or in-person, what are some other community building tips you have around, creating a sense of community that’s safe, positive, tends to grow over time? Give us some community building tips, just from all your experience, in and outside of WordPress.

Carol Stambaugh: I think having a focus and knowing for sure what your community is about and what your goal is with the community.

Chris Badgett: Like a mission?

Carol Stambaugh: Yeah. If you go to arizonawp.org, you’re going to see our website, and there are a lot of people, Dave Bryan has actually been a huge contributor to our website, for that part. I wouldn’t say that we have as much a mission, we have expectations. On that page, you’re going to see that when you come to a meetup, here is what you expect to find. You expect to find a group of people who are going to welcome you. We welcome people of all abilities, of all races. We welcome everyone. We’re an inclusive community that does not, in any way, judge or discriminate. We’re welcoming of everything.

We focus on educating on WordPress, that is what we do. To be a part of our community, you agree to participate in these expectations, and these expectations says if you come, you also agree that you will open your arms to other people, that you will not be judgmental, and that you will be accepting of all people, no matter who they are, and what level they come into the meetup group that you too will accept them where they are.

That’s pretty clear on our websites. As organizers, we talk a lot about that. There have been some unfortunate situations, although not a lot, where they may… Not bullying, but just maybe not the best types of interactions, and those are met pretty directly. It’s like, we don’t use those types of terms, or this is not an appropriate setting for this.

We address that head on, and we say, “Hey, take a look at the website. This is how our community works.” We have the set of expectations. All of our leaders embody that and follow that set of expectations, and then just set the tone. We’ve been very lucky because we’ve got that tone in place, that we haven’t had too many problems of people coming up and disrupting our, I guess… What am I trying to say? It’s our culture, our culture of helpfulness and our culture of inclusiveness.

Chris Badgett: Any tips on growing a community or community marketing or just having… If part of the mission is we would like this to get bigger, any tips there?

Carol Stambaugh: I think being stable, stability. There was early on, I think one of the problems that our meetup did, back in 2011, they didn’t have very consistent times, they said, “Well, some people can work better on Tuesday. So, on some months, we’ll have it on Tuesday and other months we’ll do it on Thursday because other people like Thursdays.”

They were trying overly to be, I guess, accessible to everyone in having all of these different times. It was actually my predecessor who made this decision, and I kept with it, that’s like, no, second Thursday of the month, every month, 6:30 PM at this location, it doesn’t change. The consistency really helps because whenever we were going to be there and we were always there, then there was a little bit of, okay, yeah, they’re always there on this day.

I think that consistency helped to grow and then as some of our satellites… That was our original group, and then now of course, we’ve got several different groups. They kept the same thing. Okay, this group meets on this day, every second Tuesday of the month at this location every… They have kept the consistency. I think consistency really does help the group grow.

It may seem like it’s hard at first because it’s a curve, it’s going to curve up. It may not look like you are growing at first, but then all of a sudden, you’ll be filling up the room because people know that you’re always there. Then, of course, having good presenters, and also having a time, and a shared space for people to interact.

We build in networking time. Whenever we have our agenda, we will do introductions, and we actually will start our program, do introductions, and then we break a little bit and say, okay, network a little bit, because we’ve just done introductions, and people have just said, who they are and what they enjoy doing. Then the people may go, “I want to talk to them because they do this.” We give that space within the meetup for them to network with each other.

Then another thing that we do within our meetup is, every single meetup, we have an idea swap, and it’s just a 10 minute, share your best tip that you’ve learned, doesn’t have to be WordPress, but oftentimes it is, and share your biggest frustration that you would love a lead on, on how to solve it. It’s super quick, it’s lightning. It’s lightning ideas swap, as fast as you can. That idea swap gets a lot of ideas flowing and generation, and then also after idea swap at the end of the meetup, sometimes we have to just literally kick people out, because they’re still talking. I think that’s the key to growing your group.

Chris Badgett: Wow, those were some solid tips right there. I’m taking home the introduction and get out of the way for a little bit. Because it’s not just about the speaker and the main event, it’s the community, right?

Carol Stambaugh: Right.

Chris Badgett: That’s a super solid insight. That’s Carol Stambaugh from radiateforgood.com. Any other final words for the listener or any other ways to connect with you?

Carol Stambaugh: I’m available, obviously I’m on Twitter at @carolstambaugh and my email is [email protected] I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this podcast. It’s been a great conversation. I’ve loved it. Thank you so much for the invitation.

Chris Badgett: Well, thank you, Carol. We’ll have to do this again sometime.

Carol Stambaugh: Thanks.

Chris Badgett: That’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. I’ve got a gift for you, over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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