Episode 354

WordPress Pro Creates Successful Online Learning Platforms On Cloudways Hosting with LifterLMS and WooCommerce

Learn about how WordPress pro Kurt Von Ahnen creates successful online learning platforms on Cloudways hosting with LifterLMS and WooCommerce in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS.

From corporate training in a company to independent course creator with Kurt Von Ahnen from Mañana No MasChris and Kurt chat about WordPress, online courses, working with clients, and tech infrastructure. Kurt recently completed a project for a client called Inner Treasure Hunt, which can be found at InnerTreasureHunt.com. The Innter Trasure Hunt or ITH project falls into the wellness category in online education, teaching about Eastern philosophies on cycles of the moon and they host events based on new moons and full moons. So a lot of it is on development and wellness based on those moon cycles.

Cloudways is Kurt’s go-to host of choice now through the experience he’s had with them. Kurt was with a starter host for over a decade and he still has an account and some projects there. But as his projects got more involved, bigger, and more integrated, he realized that there were more opportunities for conflicts and things to go wrong. He found himself making support calls to his web host and Kurt is usually a self-helping kind of guy. When building a multisite project, he tried to do it through this other budget host and they said they could do it, but it didn’t really work. After looking at everything, he saw Cloudways had a good option that was affordable and met his minimum requirements. So he gave Cloudways the first chance with ChallengeConnection.com and had been really happy with the way that project rolled out, and has now expanded that as his recommended host to clients.

You can find out more about Kurt Von Ahnen at MananaNoMas.com. His client project that recently launched can be found at InnerTreasureHunt.com. He built that with Cloudways for hosting WordPress, LifterLMS, WooCommerce, Elementor, Groundhogg for the CRM platform and a few other niche tools. Kurt can be found by the name Manana No Mas TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. He’s everywhere and available on all those channels. We encourage you to like, subscribe, follow, on YouTube and other platforms you’re on.

And at LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. 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.

Chris Badgett:

Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett and I’m joined by a special guest, his name is Kurt Von Ahnen. He’s from Manana No Mas. Welcome to the show Kurt.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Hey Chris, it’s great to be here, man. Thanks for having me again.

Chris Badgett:

I’m excited to chat with you today because we’re going to talk about WordPress. We’re going to talk about online courses. We’re going to talk about working with clients, tech infrastructure. You recently did a project for a client called Inner Treasure Hunt, that’s innertreasurehunt.com. How would you describe this niche, it’s like alternative health and healing kind of thing, or how would you describe it?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Definitely falls into a wellness category. I default to a lot of … I’ll say Eastern philosophies or something, but they have courses on cycles of the moon and they have events based on new moons and full moons and stuff like that. So a lot of it is on development and wellness based on those cycles.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. I understand you put this site up on Cloudways. Tell us about that journey to, or what’s your history with Cloudways as a web host in the WordPress space, I keep hearing more and more about them in the LifterLMS community. What do you love about Cloudways? How did you end up with them personally as your go-to host of choice?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Yeah. Well, they are my go-to host of choice now and that’s through the experience I’ve had with them. I’ll just be blunt. I was with kind of a starter host for a long time, over a decade and I still have an account there and I still have projects there. But as my projects got more involved and bigger and more integrated, I realized that there were more opportunities for glitches and things to go wrong. I found myself making support calls and that’s not a normal thing for me, I’m kind of a self-helping kind a guy. So I was building a multisite project, a different project. I was building a multisite project and I needed, I tried to do it through this other budget host and they said they could do it, but it didn’t really work. I looked at everything.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I mean, I don’t know if I can mention names, but I looked at WP Engine and Kinston and all the normal things that you would start to go down. Right? I’m part of your mastermind group, we talk about hosting sometimes and I’m like, “I know I need a premium source.” But when I started pricing things out, I can’t help, but be frugal. I saw Cloudways had a good option to buy in that was affordable and met my minimum requirements. So I gave them the first chance with challengeconnection.com. I’ve been really happy with the way that project’s rolled out.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. So tell us about Inner Treasure Hunt. When you got into the project, it was kind of already in motion. So how did you basically take over on a project that was stalling or not working out and basically become the hero to this client?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Sometimes it’s awkward, because she’ll call me a hero when we talk on the phone or on a Zoom call.

Chris Badgett:

Okay.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Sometimes it’s awkward, but basically she was working with another designer, not going to mention anybody by names or anything weird like that. But she would ask them for things. She would ask them for features or ask them for options or changes. Sometimes what’s common when you work with developers is you get that, “I know better than you. You’re just the customer. I’m the designer. I’m up here, you are down there.” I don’t like to communicate that way. I like to be a working partner with my clients. So she was running into obstacles and they said they couldn’t build the LMS. So they reached out to me through the Lifter experts program to build the LMS. That’s all I was going to do was a sub domain with Lifter running that LMS.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

But as I had conversation with my client, she would say, “Well, can we do this? And can we do that? And is this a possibility?” I would go, “Well, it’s WordPress. You can do anything you want to do as long as you want to pay to develop it or an existing tool that we can plug in.” Over a few calls, she said, “When I talked to you, I feel like I get a real response. When I talked to the other people, they’re just kind of mean to me.” And she said, “Would you be willing to do the whole project?” I should have been more clear, but I said, “Yeah, if they have migration files and all this … Because there was a working sample of a website. I said, “As long as they can give me migration files and it’s fairly straightforward, I don’t see any reason why we can’t migrate this over. We’ll put you on Cloudways and we’ll get this thing going for you.”

Kurt Von Ahnen:

What I got was, word documents and PNGs and stuff like that. But it was a great experience. I probably lost 25 or 30 hours working on it, because I had made a commitment to the client and then didn’t get what I needed from the other source. But in the end, It’s Manana No Mas’s motto, right? On time and under budget. So I wanted to make sure that I made good for.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. So you got it up. Well, how’d you get … Did you build it on a Cloudways sandbox or?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

So talk about your workflow there. What do you do in terms of developing a site?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I’ve got a couple of different things in my workflow that I’m realizing are different than what other developers or teams use. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. There’s a thing called suite. I built that suite as a sub-domain of Manana No Mas. So I use that as a customer portal. All of my projects get blown out with a project management kind of timeline. So this is your project and these are the 19 tasks and these are the 47 subtasks. These are when things need to be done. These are things that I’m going to do and these are things that you are going to do. I really work hard to keep my client it’s accountable to a schedule because if they miss their deadline, that means that my deadline’s going to get pushed. Right? I work really hard at that.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

So that’s part of the workflow one, is that I have a tool that enables us to share the tasks and the notes and I also track my working time in there. So they’re aware of where we’re at, we’re 50% done with this task and next week I’ll start this task. Right? So that’s part of the workflow.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

The other part of the workflow, like you indicated, was the sandbox inside Cloudways. I’ll admit when I first started using Cloudways, it took a little while for me to acclimate because I was used to something with a control panel and buying your URL and then assigning your URL and then building on your URL in a construction mode. But this works a little different. This is, here’s your sandbox and you build this whole thing and it’s kind of live, but not really live. And you can still put your construction mode in there if you want, but you build the whole thing. And then when you get ready to go, you basically point it to the URL. Right? So wherever that registrar is, you change the DNS settings and like magic, you got a website.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I really enjoyed building in that because I was able to, and I’m sure you’ve done this in the past with clients. They want to see something or they want to try something and when you have something that’s built in a sandbox like that, you can be on a Zoom call and you can share the link. You can say, “Well, here it is, this is live. This is live. This is live.” It was much more easy to share the environment with the client than say, building them a user and all this weird stuff.

Chris Badgett:

So when you went live with the site, what were the emotions like with the client? I mean, when somebody’s website goes live, it’s kind of a big deal, especially if it’s a business and stuff. There’s a lot of purpose and passion and meaning and stuff here too. What was it like for your client?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

You know how you have some clients where they’ve made a widget and it’s an e-commerce sore to sell some kind of a widget they’re not really emotionally attached to it. It’s like a tool, right? So the website becomes the tool. That wasn’t the case with Inner Treasure Hunt, right? Inner Treasure Hunt is a pair of ladies that are tremendous human beings with open hearts. They’re opposite sides of the spectrum as far as personality types. Right? But it’s like this, they work really well together.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

When we launched their website, we were literally talking on the phone at midnight for the day that they wanted to launch and it was their soft launch. But they were so excited to have the website go live and they were like, We want you to push the button at midnight and blah, blah.” Okay. Midnight, it is. Sure it is. They’re like, “We know nobody will be there, but it’s so exciting for us.” And then immediately it was, “Okay, I’m up on my Mac. I’m up on my PC. This is what it looks like on my phone.” It was just from midnight to one o’clock in the morning was just mayhem and excitement, can we change this? Can we change that?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

And then to be honest, WordPress is kind of a responsive working environment for mobile, but there were things that happened on the phone version where they were like, “Oh, can we change this image? Can we change this? Can we change that?” We worked in Elementor and it made it fairly simple to go, “okay, well, on the mobile version, the picture’s this big and on the PC version, it’s this big.” And we got a lot of that fixed in the first couple of days and they were really happy after that.

Chris Badgett:

That is awesome. I think as web professionals, sometimes we forget about that, how amazing and emotional it is, whether … The client doesn’t always see the tools like Cloudways or WordPress or LifterLMS or Elementor. But it’s a magical moment, nor do they really have to know how all the mechanics work. I mean, I know you have a background in mechanics, but not everybody appreciates gear and widget and belt and fluid and all this stuff.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Yeah. When I hand degree the timing on somebody’s Ducati, like an air cool V twin, right? Their butt dino feels the difference, right? They roll the throttle on and they smile and they go, “Oh my God, it’s amazing.” But they have no idea the four hours took me to move the gears and line things up and have the dial indicator stay where it’s supposed to stay. And by rights, they shouldn’t really care about that. They should care about their butt dino and how it’s connected to their throttle hand. I feel it’s that way with the customer in the web space, sometimes.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

This particular customer, remember I said, there’s two people, right? So one is the face that you see in the trainings. When you see Suteja talk, if you go visit the website, you’ll see that she does all the learnings, she’s in all the videos. She’s a really soft spoken wonderful human being. And then Paula is my client and she’s more direct in her communication, which kind of matches me really well. To your point, not everyone needs to know how every gear in widget works, but Paula has an interest. So she’s like, “Hey, can we jump on a Zoom call real quick? So you can show me how this works so that I can do it next time and not have to bother you.” Which is a really cool relationship to have with a customer, because she’s aware of the work it takes. If I say, “Hey, this is going to take three hours.” She doesn’t argue about it. She goes, “Yeah, I know it’s going to take you more than three hours. Don’t worry about it. Have at it.”

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Let’s talk about their business model a little bit. They’ve got some membership packages. As of this recording, one’s $39 a month, the annual is $29 a month. And then there’s an unlimited package for just under $2,000 as of this recording, what kind of results did they experience around the launch of this? I know there’s courses and events and membership benefits and all these different things. What happened on the initial go with the online [inaudible 00:12:21]?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I mean, I think it’s really important to mention, especially for people that are working with clients. When you have a customer that’s prepared to launch a business, things are so much smoother, easier, better advanced. Put any adjective you want on there that’s positive, right? Not only did she come to the game with at least 80% of her content ready to go-

Chris Badgett:

Already done.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

When I’m like, “Hey, you need an about us section or you need.” She’s like, “I got it. I got it.” She had it. Imagery, they had 90% of their imagery pre-done. They knew there’s different Mandalas that they used for different themes. And so they kept those themes throughout those categories. So it made it very organized and very easy to work with. So that was awesome.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

The other thing I’m going to say is as a learning project, pardon me, they had an established community in place. They had already been doing onsite courses and lessons and things like that prior to the site. And then when COVID hit, same as many of us, they experienced, “Hey, we have to do business differently.” Right? They were able to adjust and swing in a way that, that kind of poured that community over to this project. So while I can’t give you, they’re my client, I can’t share with you direct numbers. I can say I was personally, I was shocked at the success they had out of the gate. Lots of sales. I would say within the first month, 25 to 30 memberships of varying degrees and levels. I don’t want to butcher the name of it, but you guys have like a zero to 10 or a zero to the-

Chris Badgett:

The enroll summit?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

The enroll summit. Yeah. It’s kind to like getting these things over the hump and getting traffic into them can be a challenge. This particular client came to the game with a community, with a plan and she hired everybody out. She had an SEO specialist taking care of SEO. She had a designer that worked with some of the colors and did some kind of color studies and stuff. I built the site, but it was, they gave me the palette, right? So they gave me the logos and they gave me the videos and they gave me the content. So while the site looks good and it works good and it feels good, it was a team effort. She did a really good job of putting the right professionals in the right slots.

Chris Badgett:

That was one of the first things I noticed when I first saw this site, I was like, “Oh, wow, this is a gorgeous site.”

Kurt Von Ahnen:

You’re like, “Good, better than I thought he was.” But I could tell a lot of this, it was their images. They already had a design aesthetic, certain product images and very important images for what they’re doing.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

There was a certain fluidity in the process where we would get on Zoom together and she would be, “I don’t like the button style. I don’t like that button style. I want this to be … Pardon me. I got over COVID a couple weeks ago, but it’s still a cough. Right?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I want this in all caps. I want this in caps in lowercase. I want … And then one thing I thought was really odd about the other design company was they had developed their whole sample website on a font that the client didn’t want. So that … She’s really big on spacing and curing. When you look at this website, you’ll see that there’s some very deliberate spaces and adjustments in vertical and horizontal spacing. She’s very focused on this part of design. So when somebody to the table and develop something with the wrong font, well, that throws the spacing off for everything. So all of that page, by page, by painful page had to be custom adjusted to meet the client’s requests as we built it out.

Chris Badgett:

What would you say is in the … This is a online learning site, what’s in the stack here in terms of courses, events, memberships. How does the product suite come together for this client?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

This project, I had a lot of influence on the stack. Because once, once she said, “Can you do the project?” Then I was kind of like, “I’ll do the project, but instead of a sub-domain, let’s do everything under one URL.” Right.

Chris Badgett:

Make it easier.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Yeah. Let’s keep everything together. And then when we had discussions about, “Hey, we want a CRM.” And I was like, “What CRM are you using?” Right. And then, so I’m waiting for a MailChimp or ActiveCampaign or Constant Contact. You’re waiting for whatever the answer is. Well, they didn’t have one yet. So part of my regular stack is Groundhogg. I love Groundhogg. So I was like, “Okay. Well then we’re going to use Groundhogg.” And it was like, “I was able to … Okay, this is what we’re going to do.” I knew that they wanted to sell hard goods as well. So we put in WooCommerce right away. We did the WooCommerce integrations with Lifter, we settled all that stuff up. Tested everything to make sure that it worked. I’m really big on testing before release. Everything was pretty flawless.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

When you put things together with a known stack, I’m really big on this. Chris, I love your product. I love LifterLMS. You know how much I love lifter LMS. So Cloudways, LifterLMS, Groundhogg. If I can avoid WooCommerce, I will. But if they’re selling products, obviously WooCommerce.

Chris Badgett:

I think they had some handbags, the mandala handbags. So these are true. This is what WooCommerce is built for.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Well, and they do all of it. I think Printify is the company that they’re hooked up with for fulfillment.

Chris Badgett:

Okay.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

So it’s notebooks and handbags-

Chris Badgett:

Wall hangings.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Wall hangings, tapestries, all that stuff. Yeah. And then developing all that out and being able to sort it by category and sort it by graphic and sort it by messaging, was really important to her. We were able to do that through the WooCommerce tagging system.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

And then Groundhogg has been phenomenal on not so much sales funnel stuff. I don’t want people to get confused and think Groundhogg is only for emails and sales funnels, right? We use it as kind of an onboarding process tool. So when someone joins the website, there are the engagements that LifterLMS does automatically in the background. You can tweak those and adjust those as people probably already know. But in Groundhogg, tagged together with WooCommerce, we’re able to tag people based on what they bought. And then we add them to a message string that’s like, “Hey, thank you for buying this purse. Did you know that we also have courses?” Da, da, da, and yeah, it’s kind of a sales funnel, but it’s really like an onboarding, right? Or, “Hey, thanks for signing up for our three free courses. In case there was any confusion, this is your username. This is your password. This is how you log in. This is how you access the courses.” It goes through, and they also have events with this particular project.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

So they do announcements through Groundhogg for all the events. So you’re three days away from the event. You’re two days away from the event. The event’s going to be in an hour. Here’s the Zoom link that you can get to. We also did a Zoom integration. But to my knowledge, I think my client is still doing Zoom away from the site, instead of actually hosting the zoom within the site. [crosstalk 00:20:10]

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Yeah. I believe they’re also doing gift cards or gift memberships.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Oh, that was a nightmare.

Chris Badgett:

Okay.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

So I know that there’s people out there that probably love WooCommerce and I’m going to run the risk of upsetting somebody that you probably have a partnership with. But when you sign up for WooCommerce, it would be great if WooCommerce was like, “Here’s the beginner package and here’s the expert package with access to all of our junk.” That would be amazing if that worked that way, but it doesn’t. It’s like, “Here’s WooCommerce. And then if you want to do this, that’s a hundred bucks. If you want to do this, that’s 50 bucks. If you want to do this, that’s a hundred bucks.”

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Of course, we bought subscriptions and we bought memberships. And then we tried a couple of gift card solutions that you can plug in to WooCommerce, but they didn’t do exactly what the client wanted.

Chris Badgett:

It’s hard with a membership site. It’s not giving somebody a bag of coffee or something. It’s a little more complex when there’s users and enrollments and all these things.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

It had to have the recurring attached to the subscription thing. WooCommerce has that subscription gift that I think they call it subscription gifting. It’s every time I look for it online, it’s a challenge to find the page I’m looking for because what I’m trying to troubleshoot a problem on it. But it’s in there, WooCommerce has a subscription giftings option. So this site is actually using two versions of the gift card. One is for subscriptions, and then we have another gift option where a user can gift another user or a new person, anything, any dollar amount. So it’s really nice. It’s at the holidays, if someone says, “Well, I want to buy a $15 gift card for.” They can do that. Or they can buy a recurring subscription through the WooCommerce engine.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. So the size live is functioning. It’s got all these different kind of products and experiences going on. I believe you have like a maintenance situation with a client. You didn’t just leave the project after it launched and been like, “Thanks. It was great.” They wanted you to stick around. Could you tell us about what you’ve learned in terms of structuring as some kind of maintenance package or how it’s ended up working out as a WordPress professional?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Yeah. I think this is important for people, especially when you’re working with clients and especially when you’re working with licensed products and stuff like that, right? Support comes from one channel or another and you have to know what you’re working with it and be upfront. In our situation. I support this whole project. So-

Chris Badgett:

So you’re the IT person for the business. It’s not, just [crosstalk 00:22:50]. You’re the IT guy.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I sign in every week. I make sure that if there’s any updates, they get done. I make sure if there’s any backups that need done before an update, if it’s a major update, I make sure there’s a backup and then the update,. When you get the message from Lifter or Groundhogg or WooCommerce that a database needs updated, I make sure that that happens. A really unique situation with this particular client, we have a no reply, right? No reply at innertreasurehunt.com email address that comes to me. So instead of it, going to her and bogging her down with spam and offers to take care of her SEO from India, or God knows what would come through the way website. All of it goes through me. I filter it. If it’s a direct customer concern about a forgotten password or something like that, I’ll take care of that directly and I’ll copy her in on the response. But if it’s a business related, like a real email from a real business venture, I’ll forward that to her. And then she’s not getting bombarded with the spam and the nonsense.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

When you’re working with clients, you have the flexibility to fit the need. The client wants, you know what I mean? It doesn’t have to be cookie cutter.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. I’m clicking around the site now and it’s fast and snappy. I see you have a podcast coming soon, so you’re going to have to figure out podcasting soon. By the way, I just want to make a recommendation there for Casto. It’s a great podcasting platform and they have a great WordPress plugin that goes with it and they’re getting ready to develop or by the time this is out, it will already be out. They have a private podcast feature that integrates directly with LifterLMS. So if you want to have a private podcast that only your active members can see or course students can see. But anyways, the sites fast, can you tell us anything else about just launching this thing on Cloudways and now we’re several months into the business. How’s it going from a platform stability standpoint?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I will tell you, I probably have too much confidence in these companies. I’m just being blunt. I travel sometimes to consult with a different path in my business and I’ll check out. Do I check my emails and stuff? Absolutely. But I’m not glued to a dashboard every 10 minutes waiting for something to fail. Right?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Clients on the other hand can be like, “Oh my goodness, you’re going to leave for two days. Who’s going to take care of me if this thing goes blank?” So having that conversation ahead of time and making sure that there’s an option or a security blanket for them, I think is huge. In this particular case, we’ve got a secondary developer that’s kind of on call that helps with things. So that works out really well. Gives them a sense of security and confidence.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I can tell you that as far as putting this on cloud ways and launching this thing, there hasn’t been a single glitch. There hasn’t been a single outage. There hasn’t been … We had a glitch with WooCommerce. I had a glitch with Groundhogg and to Adrian’s credit and the people at Groundhogg, they literally updated the plugin in less than 24 hours and fixed the problem. So it wasn’t just a problem with Inner Treasure Hunt. It was an issue that Groundhogg had and was aware of. And they were like, “Well, crap. We’re going to fix this. And we’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready.” In less than 24 hours, the plugin was updated and our problem was gone. I was super impressed. I thought that was awesome.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

We’re having an issue right now, just to be honest with you, if an existing client, if an existing user tries to buy a gift subscription for another user, they’re getting an error. They’re saying, “Well, you’re already enrolled. So you can’t buy another one.” You need to take this out of your box. That might be a Lifter thing. That might be a WooCommerce thing. But I decided to initiate a sport ticket with WooCommerce. I’m waiting to see if they have something in their integration that recognizes that and can let the charge go through, even though there’s an existing enrollment.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Of course, the quick work around is, and that’s what’s cool about working on the internet, is problem solving. The easiest thing is, “Hey, you can still buy a gift subscription, just use an email. That’s not associated with the website.” Everybody’s got more than one email address.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Right? So if you’re using [email protected] as your membership email, well, then you can be [email protected] to buy a gift membership for somebody and it would go right through.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. It’s an all too common story I hear, in my agency time I heard the story a lot where somebody had a bad experience with another agency, developer, freelancer, and they feel a little burned. You kind of got to earn their trust. Sometimes you’re as a WordPress professional, you have to regain trust just for somebody in the space who helps people with websites because they’ve have had bad experiences in the past. You’ve obviously with this client and then a lot of your other work that I see you do, you’re the opposite. You build trust, you deliver, you add more value. You keep your promises. You care about the client. You work through problems.

Chris Badgett:

What advice do you have for a WordPress professional who’s looking to have a better go at this agency life and do great work, make decent money, have clients that pay over and over again. Like you said, you kind of landed and expanded. Next thing you do, you’re doing the whole site and you’re around after the launch. What advice do you have to really … This is just something I’ve seen you do. I know you’re also a lifelong learner and a student of leadership and relationships and things like that. But how does somebody get to this level of what I call being a trusted advisor versus just being a web professional?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

First off, thanks for the kind words.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I mean, truly. I wasn’t always like this, Chris. I wasn’t. I mean, I think back to when I was in my twenties and thirties and everything was about me and I took everything personal. If somebody snapped at me or made some kind of a demand, I’m as instantly in defense mode, right? How am I going to justify myself and why are they wrong? As I got older, I really mellowed out a little bit. I think a little bit of humility came over me and it was like, “You know what? You don’t know what someone else’s day is really like.” When someone … In fact, when I was in the car industry and people would yell at me in the service drive, I used to get upset. But then as I got older, I realized, and one of my favorite lines was, I’d let them vent. I’d let them yell and scream. At the end, I’d say, “Look, I don’t know who you’re really angry with today. I’m just here to help you fix your truck. So what’s the next step that we can take to help you fix this?”

Kurt Von Ahnen:

The response was amazing, because it immediately deflated people and they realized, “Well, why am I yelling at this dude? He didn’t break my truck.” And it’s like that with the internet. If a customer’s upset with you or if a customer’s dissatisfied or … Trust me, me and the client on this project had a couple of meetings where she was like, “This isn’t what I expected. I thought you were going to do better than this.” I was like, “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way. But let’s take a look at what’s been done. Let’s take a look at our path and let’s see where we’re at for the projection to finish on time. Let’s make sure that we’re going to get there together as a team. Let’s make this happen.”

Chris Badgett:

Which I don’t want to understand the value of that move. Instead of being defensive, you’re like, “All right, let’s dig in here.”

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Yeah. Hey, I totally acknowledge this. Like, “Let’s have a realistic conversation about it and figure out what our options are and how we can move forward. Not dwell on what went wrong, or what expectation may have been dropped.” And every now and then you need to reset expectations. Every now and then you need to go, “Hey, at the end of the day, I’m just some dude working in my garage.”

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I used to have a really cool office. I remember 11 years, Facebook sent me a reminder that said, “11 years ago, you moved into your office.” That was the message I got yesterday. I saw that picture and I was like, “Man, I used to have a nice office.” But it’s just one of those, when you talk about communication and leadership and I think everyone’s called to a certain degree of leadership. I think we lose focus on that. If you don’t recognize that you’re in charge, pardon me, you’re in charge of your interactions and your communications and the outcome of those, if you lose focus or, or sight of that, then you fall. You make yourself the victim of a circumstance rather than taking ownership of it.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. That’s Kurt Von Ahnen. He’s from manananomas.com. We’ve been looking at a recent project he launched called innertreasurehunt.com. He built that with Cloudways for hosting WordPress, LifterLMS, WooCommerce Groundhogg for the CRM platform and some other niche tools. He’s an Elementor user. Thanks for coming on the show and sharing your experience with us, Kurt. I really appreciate it. Thanks for being a shining example of providing good service as a web professional, as a WordPress professional. Because for a lot of people, they’re not ready to just grab software and go. They need help. Most people do. From multiple companies, integrating all these parts to achieve a vision and I’m really proud to see what you’ve done here. You’ve done an amazing job.

Chris Badgett:

Any final words for the people and anywhere else they can find you online?

Kurt Von Ahnen:

Well, Manana No Mas was a name that came when my business was in New Mexico and I kept it, because if you Google Manana No Mas, I’m the first 50 pages on Google. So I can’t change names. I’m stuck with this name till I die. So I’m easy to find, Manana No Mas TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. It’s everywhere and I’m available on all those channels. So I encourage you to like, subscribe, follow, especially on YouTube, because I only have 56 followers there. But I just like sharing. I really do. I like adding value to people and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next five to 10 years brings.

Chris Badgett:

Awesome. Well, thanks sir.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

I’m going to apologize if you hear the dogs barking, but apparently we’re having a drop off here with our critter sitter business and the dogs have gone crazy.

Chris Badgett:

It’s all good. I can hear them faintly. It’s not super loud, but I can. I’m sure it sounds like they got something going on. Well, thanks for coming on the show. We really appreciate it.

Kurt Von Ahnen:

No worries. Thanks. I love being here.

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. I’ll see you in the next episode.

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