Episode 343

How WordPress Pro Alex Standiford Runs an Agency, Teaches Plugin Development, and Homesteads Debt Free From His RV

Learn how WordPress pro Alex Standiford runs an agency, teaches plugin development, and homesteads debt free from his RV in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS. Alex is coming to us from his new homestead in New Mexico. He’s the creator of a WordPress plugin development course at wpdev.academy. Alex has been around the WordPress community for a long time, and he’s also an expert at AffiliateWP. 

Alex currently lives in his camper off grid, and he runs off of about 250 Watts of solar power. So it’s not enough to do much more than charge the batteries in his computers. Air conditioning is definitely not even remotely on the table with that kind of power, but Alex and his wife are still comfortable most of the time. He’s living the bootstrap lifestyle where he’s starting with literally nothing, building a driveway for their camper, and throwing some temporary solar on to make it work. Alex and his wife have plans to expand on the property and grow from where they’re currently at.

How WordPress pro Alex Standiford runs an agency, teaches plugin development, and homesteads debt free from his RV

Alex initially got into WordPress because he wanted to be remote and work from home. At the time it was because he wanted to spend more time with his son, Bennett. He was busting his butt working at an in-person job, and now that he was working from home, he was basically living the exact same lifestyle as before. The only difference is he didn’t have to commute to work. Alex felt very fortunate to have this opportunity that he can literally be anywhere in the world. That’s when he decided to make the move to become a digital nomad and move, as he was living about 30 minutes from where he was born and wanted to extend outward and travel.

The idea of distributed work and working remotely had just been so thoroughly ingrained into the DNA of WordPress, and that really spoke to Alex. He started going to WordCamps and started doing plugin development and really tapping into WordPress to eventually build his course teaching others how to develop plugins.

To learn more about Alex Standiford head to wpdev.academy, and check out his blog at AlexStandiford.com. He’s on Twitter at @AlexStandiford, so you can connect with him there as well.

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 to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by my friend, Alex Standiford. He’s coming at us from New Mexico, from his new homestead. He’s the creator of a WordPress plugin development course. You can find that over at wpdev.academy. Alex has been around the WordPress community for a long time. He’s also an expert at AffiliateWP and has done some stuff with that plugin. He’s been around the block a little bit. Welcome to the show, Alex.

Alex Standiford: Hey, thanks Chris. Glad to be here.

Chris Badgett: I feel as we were talking before the show, I’m looking into my past, there was a moment where I left Montana in 2016, and I lived in an RV with my wife and kids looking for a place to live for a year. And then even after we landed where we lived in Maine, we still based out of the RV for a long time. It’s cool to see your journey. We even went to Taos for a little while, we found, there’s this great hot spring down below this brewery on this dirt road. I can’t remember where it is. Good to see you. I’m excited to get into it with you today. Give us a report, what’s the status of the homestead

Alex Standiford: First and foremost, that brewery is actually about 15 miles from where I’m located now. I didn’t know it had a hot spring, but I did know that it’s there. I’ve only ever gone to that one in Taos proper. I will be revisiting that because it is actually a lot closer. Taos is awesome. New Mexico is awesome. We’ve just completely fallen in love with this area. At the time of this recording, we’re in late July, right? People always think that it’s super hot in New Mexico, because it’s in the Southwest. We’re 7,000 feet up here and I’m sitting outside and it’s quite comfortable. It gets a little hot when it gets above 85, but the air and the breeze is really cold and it just always feels really good.

We live in this camper right now off grid and I’ve got 250 Watts of solar, so it’s not even remotely close enough to do much more than charge my batteries. Air conditioning is definitely not even remotely on the table. Heck even if I want to run the fan on this thing, I got to turn on the generator. And even with that, we still are pretty comfortable most of the time. We have a couple of days where we get a little warm, but other than that, it’s great. I’ve really enjoyed just coming out here and just living on this land, is completely unrestricted. Bootstrapping, we’re starting with literally nothing. We’re building a driveway, we’re putting the camper on here and we’re throwing some temporary solar on to make it work. We’re getting some water delivered here and then we’re making plans on how we can expand on it and grow from here.

Big conversation point for my wife and me has been sweat not debt. We’ve been trying this idea of just, you know what, this is what we can afford right now. This is what we can do right now. Let’s start there, instead of going to a bank and putting ourselves deep in debt to be able to have the home and the space that we ultimately want. It’s been a lot more rewarding than I thought it would be and obviously a lot less expensive. Hoping that we have something to show for it here in a couple of years beyond a camper and a couple of solar panels.

Chris Badgett: What caused the initial decision to hit the road? What was that inflection point like?

Alex Standiford: Well, I’ll never forget that day. I’ve always, whenever I first got into WordPress, it was entirely because I wanted to be remote. I always wanted to work from home. At the time it was because I wanted to spend more time with my kid, Bennett, my oldest one. Over time it’s evolved and I got that, I finally got that job and I worked and I busted my butt to be able to have that. Now that I have it, I’m like, I was living in this house and I was basically living exactly like I was living prior to, the only differences is I just didn’t have to commute. There was just this existential thought of I’ve been gifted and I’ve worked and I’m fortunate enough to have this, this opportunity that I can literally be anywhere in the world. If the moon had Wi-Fi and I could be on it, I can work there. Why am I 30 minutes away from where I was born? I couldn’t let that thought go.

I floated the idea. We bought this camper not to live in it, but to just use it. I floated the idea to my wife about it off and on over the course of a couple of months. One day in January of 2019, my wife, I was working and my wife came over to me and she leaned up against the door and she goes, so how serious are you about living in that camper full time? I was done working for the day because I absolutely could not concentrate on anything else, but that opportunity. Just one sentence, it was like, it’s over, it’s happening. Two weeks later we were gutting this camper and making it work for us. Three months later we were living in it. Eight months later, we were on the road and we haven’t looked back since.

Chris Badgett: Wow. That’s super cool. I think this is one of the great things about WordPress, it’s just distributed in such a way that it gives you this incredible freedom and also this just really interesting, awesome community. For example, I know, I have another LifterLMS customer who lives in Taos near you, in an earth ship. You know who I’m talking about?

Alex Standiford: There’s one, two of the houses down from here. Yeah. Very familiar.

Chris Badgett: His name is Marco Schmidt. He’s been on this podcast before, he uses LifterLMS. He does a lot of entrepreneur work in the Taos area, but this is all WordPress stuff. There’s this incredible network and incredible freedom that is created. One of the things I wanted to ask you about specifically as a WordPress developer, your course, you’re teaching WordPress plugin development, I believe it’s through teaching people how to build a beer plugin, we’ve got a custom plugin about a certain topic, beer, which I’m a big craft beer guy. That’s awesome. I just went through a hiring process at LifterLMS to hire another WordPress developer for the lifter project. It is very, very, very, very hard to find WordPress talent, which isn’t just WordPress, but all of the stuff that goes into plugins and themes and just all the stack and WordPress is changing and evolving.

If I was talking to somebody younger, earlier in their career, and they’re into this tech world, there’s just such a huge opportunity in web development and specifically around the WordPress ecosystem. Can you take us from your beginnings as a developer to teaching plugin development now through your website?

Alex Standiford: Yeah, definitely. Whenever I switched, I was a mechanical engineer for 10 years.

Chris Badgett: Doing what?

Alex Standiford: Point of purchase displays. I worked in sheet metal and a particle board and things like that. Actually you couldn’t spit without hitting a display that I had some part in, in a Best Buy for a couple of years there. Like I said, I wanted to work remote and I actually tried to do the freelancing thing as a mechanical engineer for a while. This was 2014, I think, maybe a little earlier than that. The culture wasn’t there. We as a society, globally, we just weren’t there, but WordPress was and always has been. It’s just this idea of distributed work and working remotely had just been so thoroughly ingrained into the DNA of WordPress that it’s not like, you’re not special, you don’t get special treatment or you’re not feeling like you’re being treated in some weird outsider manner because you happen to work remotely in WordPress, you’re just a part of the WordPress, that’s just what it is.

That really spoke to me. I started going to word camps and I started plugin development and really my journey from tapping into WordPress to actually building this course, ironically enough, starts and ends with a beer plugin. Whenever I first got into it, I realized that I wanted to do more than just make themes and building themes. I wanted to build plugins. I wanted to get into this, go deep and that’s all in the plugin side for me. I learned how to build a WordPress plugin. My first WordPress plugin that I built was a beer plugin, that created a custom post type and played with the metadata. I learned so much just from building that and learning how to do that, that I basically started building plugins for other people. I think between now and then I’ve built, I just pruned my GitHub repositories.

And at the time that I pruned them, I had 127 different plugins that I had built, between now and then. It started with a beer plugin. It continued with me just building a ton of different plugins for different purposes. Some of them were literally a single file with a filter in them, but a lot of them weren’t, a lot of them were custom database tables and just a ton of custom post types and different things like that. That’s how I ended up getting here. From there I started working, I got notified that Sandhills was looking to hire another person a couple of years ago. I’d always had my eye out for Sandhills, because quite literally when I started this, like I said I built that beer plugin and at the time I was actually trying to market myself toward breweries because they were really exploding at the time.

Every time I talked to somebody who knew Pippin at Sandhills, they would say, man, you got to meet Pippin, because he’s got a brewery. Right? It made sense. I’d always had envisioned that I would eventually, or always wanted to work there. It was one of those, man, if I could work some WordPress, this would be a really cool place to go. And then I heard that they had a job opportunity. I wrote an email, I gave my details and all that stuff. Just gave them one of the plugins that I built, which was a synchronization utility for Oracle’s NetSuite. Basically integrates NetSuite into WooCommerce to automatically create products using that sync relationship. Anyway, I ended up getting that job and I’ve been working at AffiliateWP for a couple of years. Just from there I learned even more and now I’m just trying to dump all that out and give it to other people in some way.

Because I think that a lot of tutorials and a lot of courses and things in WordPress right now are so focused on WordPress specifically. I don’t feel like they talk enough about fundamentals of actually using PHP and actually using JavaScript. I think that a lot of people hit this dead end with learning specifically about WordPress, because they decide that they’re going to learn WordPress instead of PHP and JavaScript and React and all these things, deeply. Right? My courses are focused on very practical advice. You build something on every course that I make. The intent is to use a wide variety of different skills and focus on not really being gentle about it. You know what I mean? My courses aren’t intended to be, most of my courses, at least as I go, I’m making more, aren’t going to be these courses where it’s just like, okay, we’re going to learn how to make a custom post type in this course.

It’s going to be, we’re going to make a custom post type and then we’re going to create a CLI command to automatically generate data. Or we’re going to use this composer package here to do this. And then we’re going to actually integrate all that into some custom blocks and all this stuff. It’s going above and beyond just making specific facets and specific features of WordPress and actually just focused on building something that’s actually production ready that you can actually when you’re done take that and say, I built this, I took this course, here’s what I’ve learned.

Chris Badgett: That’s cool. Project based learning I think is super smart. I love how your story starts with the beer plugging and it ends. It’s almost like giving back and you’re going back to where it all began. Tell us more about, if somebody wants to get into web development, I’m seeing this huge opportunity for people to become a WordPress developer like you teach and the market is just, it continues to grow, you make good money, there’s all kinds of great reasons to do it. If somebody wants to learn, what are some just getting started tips you have for them?

Alex Standiford: Well, the first thing I would suggest is that they try to build a WordPress site. You know what I mean? You may not have to do the custom work and all the custom coding and all that stuff, but just learn it, mess with it and create an installation and see if it’s something that you actually want to work with more. And then from there, if you want to dive into the coding and all that, learn PHP and then learn JavaScript and then start messing with building plugins of WordPress. I think for me, whenever I did it at the time, it was on, my first course I ever took was through Nettuts. It was Jeffrey Way, and he taught me, I learned PHP from him. And then from there I learned JavaScript through Codecademy, I think. Basically just took those pieces, I’m not talking about learning, it’s super deep and going crazy. You can learn that as you go with WordPress, but learn the fundamental, the very basics, what’s an array, what’s what’s the difference between bullying and typecasting and all these things.

Just some things to just get yourself started, so you understand what you’re looking at. And then from there, after you’ve taken a couple courses on both of those, then get into WordPress, perhaps take my course from there or take maybe JS for WP, which is another great resource out there that does a lot of WordPress stuff like this, and just start. But for me, the best way I can think to learn is just by doing it, just build things, build a bunch of things, not just one or two plug-ins, tons, tons, and tons, and tons of things, just build stuff. I think more than anything, you’re going to learn what works and what doesn’t work just from that. I can tell you that the reason why my plugin framework uses registries, I can tell you until I’m blue in the face, why it’s awesome and why it’s great and why it’s scalable and all those solutions it solves.

But until you’ve built a plugin and you’ve created the technical debt that makes it to where you wish you had a registry, you’re never going to really care. Do it, make mistakes and just build a bunch of stuff.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. In my journey, I found three different characters in this WordPress ecosystem, and I’m stealing this from somebody else,  I can’t remember where I heard it, but they talked about the hipster, the hacker and the hustler. The hipster is like the designer type person. The hacker is kind of like you, the developer, the coder. The hustler’s a little more like me, the business entrepreneur kind of thing. When these three characters come together, they make really cool stuff. You mentioned you were doing some building themes and maybe agency work. How did you discover that, wait a second, I’m this hacker character? How did you know? I guess you were already a mechanical engineer, so you were already there. How did that happen? Your side, by the way, it looks good. You have design skills and you’re very entrepreneurial. It doesn’t mean you’re not those things, but you’re primarily a developer. Right?

Alex Standiford: Right. Yeah. I do still run an agency called DesignFrame Solutions. The way that agency fundamentally works is everything is outsourced by its very design. One of the things about that that I like, is that when work comes in, if it’s something that really excites me and I want to do it, I just do it. The stuff that comes in that I end up doing is almost always a plugin. It’s never a theme. It’s never anything like that.

Chris Badgett: So it’s what you love to do, you have the most fun doing that?

Alex Standiford: Yeah, yes. Interestingly enough, I can answer this question when I realized I was a hacker through DesignFrame and that’s why I’m bringing it up here. My agency has always, has been there and I’ve got all these great ideas and all of these implementations and things for it. But I’ve always had trouble with connecting with my customers, because they’re talking a very different language than me, right? The value proposition I’m offering them, I just, I have a lot of trouble translating it and getting it to them. But then I turn around and I can bust out 12 different blog posts in a week for WP Dev Academy, because it’s what I talk about. It’s what I think about. It’s just naturally a part of it. Right? That’s actually what made me hire, at DesignFrame, we brought in another partner who’s in marketing specifically so that she can communicate to our clients because she actually understands what they’re asking.

It’s so funny because I’ll give her ideas for content and she’ll be like, you know I think it’s cool and all that you’re excited about the merits of a registry pattern and you know 10 different ways you can use a hash in your plugin, but your customers really, what they want to know is why they should use WordPress. I’m like, I don’t want to talk about that. If you have to ask that question, you’re not ready, I don’t want to talk about this. It really just made it apparent to me that I need to just lean into this instead of trying to take what I am and where I work best and trying to shoehorn it into working on custom work. Once I realized that, it became obvious to me that I just need to get back into tutorials. because 10 years prior to this, I actually did, my first WordPress site I ever built was called gimptutorials.com. It was literally just a bunch of tutorials on the photo editor GIMP.

Chris Badgett: I remember [crosstalk].

Alex Standiford: I ran that for a while. It’s weird it just comes back full circle. I’m coming back to doing that. Working with my partner DesignFrame to take care of the content while I’m simultaneously writing courses and teaching people how to build WordPress plugins, doing all these things really well. I’m also getting really good, I’m gathering and collecting a good pool of developers who are really good at this and who I know understand how to write code in the way that DesignFrame writes code, because it writes code the way that I write code. You know what I mean? It’s-

Chris Badgett: Maybe you’re a unicorn, you’re also very entrepreneurial. You’re building the pipeline for your agency while at the same time having great designs. Maybe you just do it all.

Alex Standiford: There is a lot of synergy in what I’m doing for sure. Because I’m talking about the things I want to talk about. I’m earning these opportunities to find developers who I’m literally teaching them how my agency works. You know what I mean? Not how it works, the machinations of the business side, but the actual development process and the expectations and the standards that DesignFrame is upheld too. And then I’m also, thanks to Lifter actually, I’m able to see who’s completed the course. S0

Chris Badgett: You know who your all stars are.

Alex Standiford: I already know who I need to reach out to whenever the time comes, if I need a new developer or somebody else to come in to do some contract work with us. We’re building out that talent pool while simultaneously earning some income and teaching people how to use this, and if they don’t want to work with us, that’s cool. Go ahead. Do whatever you want, everything I’ve written, the framework and everything that I use is all open source. You’re welcome to use it. You’re encouraged to use it. But if you want to come over here, I’ve got some gigs for you too. It’s not just that, DesignFrame also has these different partnership programs with WordPress, affiliate programs and plugin partnership programs for support and things like that.

If you happen to be on the team and you are aware of that, then you’ll be able to actually see different ways that you can work with us. I’m tapping into this market that I’ve been a part of that just fits for how I communicate and I’m using that to potentially help with DesignFrame. But if it doesn’t, I’m still earning something with it while simultaneously working with my partner and DesignFrame to actually communicate to the actual clients.

Chris Badgett: That’s really cool. You’ve built a neat system there that feeds back on itself, but it doesn’t have to, it’s every piece is valuable in itself. That’s amazing.

Alex Standiford: Right. Yeah. It’s fun.

Chris Badgett: How are some of the ways you’re finding to get students? I know WordPress there’s a lot of people on Twitter and various places, what’s working for you? You already have a big network in WordPress, you’ve been around for a while. What advice do you have or what’s working around recruiting, finding people?

Alex Standiford: Well, the first thing I did was I just asked people who I know, who are in this space that I wanted to have big followings, to basically just share it.

Chris Badgett: That’s a good lesson right there. A lot of people think there’s people that want to support you, just ask them. Right?

Alex Standiford: That’s literally it, I just got in some DMs on Twitter. I think I messaged you actually.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. I shared it out. I was like, cool. That’s awesome. I would have done it if it wasn’t Lifter or it was something, I don’t care. I’m like, dude, a WordPress person has got some, I can’t wait to help him share that out.

Alex Standiford: Heck yeah. That was the thing. I just asked a couple people, honestly. Before the course came out, I literally created a landing page on alexstandiford.com. I hadn’t even WP Dev Academy yet. And to be clear, alexstandiford.com is actually a React app, so it’s not even full blown CMS or anything. I literally created a React component that was specifically my landing page and straight up just, it was so just, this is not intended to be used for long. This is literally just, I need to get a landing page up.

Chris Badgett: You MVP it.

Alex Standiford: I MVP the crap out of this. I just did that and I sent out a thing and everybody signed up, people signed up to the email list. I got a pretty good idea. pretty strong validation that there was interest in what I was doing. I took that and I got to work, I built WP Dev Academy and moved the landing page over to that, set up a redirect, so anybody who goes to the old page goes to this new one. And then once the course was ready, I just flipped the switch over to the LifterLMS course page and sent out an email to everybody who I’d collected in the meantime. From there I got a handful of sales, made enough money for me to be able to say, okay, let’s do it again.

Chris Badgett: How long did it take you to make the course? From all right, it’s time to roll up my sleeves, I’m going to show people how to make a beer plugin. I don’t know if you had challenges around, my video’s not perfect or maybe you didn’t care. You’re like, I’m just going. How long was that, start to launch and what was the experience like in the middle?

Alex Standiford: Okay. I learned a lot from this first course. I always jokingly refer to Bob Ross whenever I think about these courses because fun fact, Bob Ross actually made three versions of every painting he did. One he did before the show. And then I think he did, I don’t remember what the other two were, but one of them was done obviously during the show. He practices and understands what he’s going to do before he does it on the show, otherwise he’d never be able to get it in in 30 minutes.

Chris Badgett: It is challenging to teach and do at the same time.

Alex Standiford: Yes, absolutely. I took that method and applied it to this course. The first thing I did was actually built a plugin. Right?

Chris Badgett: Dry run.

Alex Standiford: Yeah. Right. The dry run. I built a plugin. As you’re building it, you’re thinking about the different, oh yeah, we totally need to talk about this. Right? And you’re building the course while you’re building the plugin. And then from there I built the actual course. Well, I built the syllabus basically. And then I built the course. And then I did editing as I went along. Basically the course took about, or the plugin itself took like three or four days for me to do. I’ve already done this, again, I’ve already built a beer plugin. So I already knew the problems, I already knew the challenges. If you hear me and you hear, oh my God, he built that in a couple of days just on the side, that’s crazy. It’s not crazy. If you already thought through the problems and you already know what you’re doing, it’s just practice at that point.

I built the plugin and then I started recording. I’m on Linux, so I’m using OBS and I’m using KdenLive for my video editing. Before this interview, I was actually sitting in my truck because that was my first spot. I was literally just getting up every morning. I was in Eagle Nest, New Mexico. We were parked with our camper and I would just, every morning I get up at five and I would go over to my truck and I would start it up and I would just start recording until the sun came up enough for it to get into the truck and it got hot. And then I would stop for the day. Recording wasn’t too bad. The thing that tripped me up the most honestly was the editing, that just takes forever to do. I actually was doing them in batches. I would record the video and then I would edit.

The reason why I was doing them like that instead of recording everything and then editing everything was, at first it was because of just logistics [inaudible], so many hours. I need to stop and switch over to be able to actually keep it moving. I realized after doing a couple of lessons, that it was better that way, because I was learning as I was going, what I needed to record next. If something went wrong or something didn’t happen as expected, I was able to catch it early enough that it wasn’t a real pain for me to have to go back, because you remember I’m building this plugin as I go. If I recorded everything and then I found out in editing that I skipped a step or I forgot something in lesson four, my plugin is done, I don’t really have that context to go back to it.

Now, I will next time be using Git, to actually at the end of each lesson, I’m just going to save a different tag so that I can go back to that version of history. I did not do that with this first course. That was fun. The editing was just slow and meticulous. I think I put more time into editing than I did anything else in this process. My next course, I actually hired somebody to help me do the editing.

Chris Badgett: Where’d you find that person?

Alex Standiford: Twitter. Because everything I do is through Twitter at this point. That’s just where the WordPress people are.

Chris Badgett: Nice. Yeah. That makes sense. Same thing, every time I’m doing something, I’m like gosh, I could do it so much better the next time, but that’s just the life of somebody who values continuous improvement and is learning and teaching while doing is challenging. You find these interesting workflows of, okay, I’m going to do these sections and bring it all the way through the process and then move on or do the ability to back trace through GitHub or whatever. I could totally see that needing to come up. Because not only are you creating and teaching, you’re in a completely different head space when you’re editing, you can’t do all that simultaneously, so you definitely learn a lot as you go, which is awesome. Well tell us about building your site, the WP Dev Academy. What brought you to Lifter as the tool to do that with?

There’s a lot of membership plugins and there’s other LMS stuff. I would say hosted solutions, but you’re such a WordPress guy, those aren’t even on the table, forget about those things. Why’d you choose Lifter for this? What’s the story there?

Alex Standiford: Well one of my clients a few years back used Lifter to build their site. That was my first exposure to the concept of an LMS at all. It was cool, it was feature rich and it had everything I needed at the time. I already wrote some code for it, so I already knew what to expect. I went with it. I went with that for this. It’s crazy because it’s been really good because it has more, there’s been features that I didn’t know I needed until it was too late. It literally just has them. That’s been super nice. The voucher system comes to mind. After I released the course, one of the first things I was asked was, hey, I’d like to buy your course company-wide, is there a way for me to do that? I was like, maybe. I shot your support team an email and they were like, yeah, you can do that with vouchers. I was like, oh yeah, that makes sense. Okay, cool. That’s one less plugin I had to build.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That’s what it’s like for us. We’re so in the trenches with customers, we’re really a user focused company, and how we drive our roadmap that, as soon as you started talking about that, I can think about five years ago, somebody like you being like, hey, how do I get a company in here? I’m like, well, we got to solve that, so then we developed the voucher system and then we have something called groups for that. I take that as the biggest compliment, when a piece of software is one step ahead of you and it’s like, we solve problems you don’t know you have yet. That’s one of the biggest compliments, so I appreciate that.

Alex Standiford: I also just appreciated that I’m usually more of a modular person where this plugin does one very specific-

Chris Badgett: Component?

Alex Standiford: Yeah, component I mean. Don’t get me started on my house. But I really liked that Lifter just does all of it. I didn’t have to worry about the e-commerce side. I didn’t have to worry about the membership custom post site, the courses, and all the different ways I can use it. It’s been really good. I tend to think of pretty weird ways to go about doing things sometimes. I have yet to find something that I can’t just do with Lifter. Literally in the settings, not even with a filter or a small plugin or something like that, it’s just like, no, we already do that. You got it. You’re good. I’m borderline gushing here, but I can’t possibly say how great it’s been. It’s an awesome plugin. You guys really did good.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thanks for that. That’s a hat tip to the team. There’s a lot of people that make the magic at Lifter happen. Appreciate that. We market it as an all in one solution, which you can’t really say in WordPress, because is anything really all in one? Because you have themes and hosting, all these other component plugins that you ended up adding.

Alex Standiford: It’s a fun game, so you try to do an affiliate program.

Chris Badgett: AffiliateWP, by the way, I love that. It’s just such a great solution. I’m the same way, I use things in different ways. I’ve used AffiliateWP to create an internal sales commission tracking program that has nothing to do with Affiliate, but I made it work for that. It’s a great tool. And one of those problems I didn’t know I needed solved with AffiliateWP is, what if this affiliate who’s not really a pro affiliate links us up, but then they don’t put their affiliate link in there, but it comes from their site, and you’re like, oh yeah, we just do that in those [crosstalk]. That’s cool. That’s that same kind of compliment there. Well, what’s the future of WP Dev Academy or what you’re up to? Where are you trying to go? Because in WordPress, people change fast, they evolve fast and then sometimes they just doubled down and just dig in on where they are. Where are you going?

Alex Standiford: I’m digging.

Chris Badgett: You’re really digging in New Mexico.

Alex Standiford: Yeah. God, no kidding. Let me start up. The course right now, like I said, I built one course and then I kept on getting people asking me about if there’s going to be a membership option instead of buying the course, which of course Lifter, again, one step ahead of me, it was already done. I debated on it for a little bit and I sat down, I took some notes and I realized, I only have one course, so the value proposition for having a membership based site isn’t super strong right now, because I don’t have a deep, I don’t have a litany of courses for you to choose from. I had to think about how could I turn this into a membership site and give people that value now, right? How can I get people to do that?

Because that’s my goal, I really want to get to the point where it’s a membership site, where the courses are all handled through that. What I did was, at this time now, I’ve committed to building four more courses over the year. I’m sorry, three more courses, not four, three. I’m drafting up, every time I finish a course, the next thing that I do is I create a page that only premium members can access, that allows them to basically vote on which course I make next. All the content and everything that happens, at this point you would be buying in early, not because I have a deep well of courses, but because you want to have a say in what content is coming. That’s been nice because I’m simultaneously getting really good ideas, and also giving a sense that they are a part of this, a part of this community.

We also set up a Discord community on Discord. There’s some private channels in there that are premium only for discussions about next courses and things like that. That’s kind of the direction that it’s heading in. The last couple of weeks I’ve been focused hard on just writing a ton of blog content, just trying to get myself as far ahead as I can on the calendar, so that I can actually sit down and write the course without having to worry about the blog drying up in the process. That’s where I’m at right now, is just content, tons and tons of content. I have other ideas on different ways to show content in different networks and all these things. That’s just the goal, is to just create the go-to resource for learning how to become a WordPress developer.

Chris Badgett: That is awesome. Couple of unsolicited ideas just from seeing a lot of course creators, and maybe you’re doing some of this, I see some people take one or two of their best lessons in a course and put them for free on YouTube as a lead generation thing, it just builds a natural funnel. And then you mentioned getting into membership something I’ve seen people do, it’s really easy to over commit with a membership. It’s been like a recurring monthly membership where you’re like, all right, I’m going to release a new course every month. But even just, I’ve seen people have success doing, you mentioned community with Discord, but doing a weekly office hour mastermind call, where you don’t have to prepare, all you need to do is show up on Zoom or whatever and just be a resource for people as a membership. Maybe you already have that, I don’t know, but that’s-

Alex Standiford: No, I don’t. But I have lobbies. It’s just, I haven’t structured it enough yet, but yeah, that’s a great idea.

Chris Badgett: I’m literally getting ready to run one of those in a 10 minutes from now that I’ve been running for four, five years now or whatever. It’s one of those things where in my experience, not everybody who could use it, uses it, but there’s some people who will come in at the beginning and then they get oriented and they’re good. And then there’s some people that just come and they become regulars for a long time. It adds more value. And then I’ve seen in these communities people start connecting with each other, starting businesses partnerships and other things, it’s pretty neat. Wow, well, Alex, let’s land the plane around a note about family and entrepreneurship and this lifestyle choice to not go into debt and to really bootstrap in the truest sense of the term, as all these things come together for you. If somebody is inspired by that idea, what advice would you have for somebody to take that leap of faith and take the road less traveled if you will?

Alex Standiford: Well, I think that my wife talked about this a little bit in a blog post that she published on Casual Weirdness, which is another blog. It’s our blog focused on this, casualweirdness.life. She talked about how something that we hear a lot is, I respect the hell out of what you’re doing, they’ll say that. I really respect it. I think it’s awesome that you’re doing this.

Chris Badgett: But I can never do that.

Alex Standiford: I could never do that. Yeah. They’ll justify it in their head, that you can’t do it, that it’s too hard, that you need a bathroom that’s bigger than my bedroom, and you don’t, you’re wrong. You’re just wrong. I’m sorry. I guess the biggest thing for me, one of the first things we did that made me realize how wrong we were about that, was when we were first working to move into this camper, we were still like, okay, seems a little crazy, I don’t know if we can do this or not. Was whenever we took the cabinet space in this camper and we converted into bins, that gave us an approximation of what our space would be in the camper. And we went into our kitchen and we said, okay, these four bins have to hold everything in this kitchen basically.

We started putting stuff in there. You realize that everything that’s left is like the expired mayonnaise in the fridge, or the very specific spice that you bought three years ago for that one recipe, that one time, that you literally never did again. Just things like that. We accumulate stuff in big spaces. If you’re in a smaller space, you don’t get to do that. People whenever they say I can never do that, what I hear is, I can’t commit to keeping myself to that standard. Right? I would argue that it’s easier now, now that we’ve done it for a while, cleaning up this camper is a 15 minute process. I guess I would say that, start by visualizing your spaces and just really think about what it’s like. Whenever we transitioned into this, not only did I do that with the kitchen, but I stopped working in my office.

I actually just made myself work in the living room where everybody else was, because it’s basically what I do in here. Right? It sucked, not going to even beat around the bush, it sucked. That was one of those moments where I was like, I don’t know if I can do this. But then I realized that if I get some earplugs and some noise canceling headphones, and I face myself to a wall, the rapture could happen and I would have no idea. I apply that same thing here. You figure out solutions to those problems as you go, you’re not going to always be super comfortable. In fact, most of the time you’re not. I literally sleep on a Japanese mattress with a foam pad on it, because we have to be able to fold it up and convert it.

I’m not going to pretend that it’s a comfortable luxurious life, but if you’re like me and you believe that there’s a better way than to spend $40,000 on a solar system, whenever I’m over here spending $150 on enough to be able to power my camper, and you believe that there’s a way to stop using so much plastic and stop using so much energy and just stop using everything. I would like very much for you to just look at what we do and see that it is possible and it can be done. We’re just people, we’re not anything special. We’re just people who woke up one day and said, I think I could live in a camper and you probably can too.

Chris Badgett: That is awesome. That’s Alex Standiford, he’s from wpdev.academy. And the blog, is that on your name site, which is?

Alex Standiford: Yeah. If you go to alexstandiford.com, you’ll be able to see links to, I link to Casual Weirdness, I linked to DesignFrame. I link to wpdev.academy. My personal site has basically turned into a syndication [inaudible] this point.

Chris Badgett: What’s Twitter URL? I love following you on Twitter and seeing what you guys are up to. What is that?

Alex Standiford: It’s @AlexStandiford. All one word.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing your story today. If you’re looking to get into WordPress plugin development, you’ve got to check out Alex’s course. Thanks for coming on the show and thanks for inspiring the people with what you’re up to and wish you all the best in your homestead and enjoy the journey.

Alex Standiford: Thanks, man. I really appreciate it.

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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