123 – Creating WordPress courses with Joe Casabona


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Interview – Creating WordPress courses with Joe Casabona

Firstly, I have a confession to make! I got a new Mac. I know, that’s of no interest to you at all, but there is a point to this… I record the podcasts on my Mac and then file the recordings away so that I can edit the episodes together at the required time.

So I got this new Mac and copied over the files from the old Mac so that I was right back where I should be, except a few of the episodes somehow got lost upon the way. I have no idea how this happened, I used Apple’s Time Machine. Maybe I had it set up wrong, or maybe it just didn’t work as it should have. But, to cut a long story short, some of the interviews that I did got left behind, gathering digital dust.

Now, I’m the kind of guy that backs up my backups and a few weeks ago I needed to retrieve something that I knew had not been transferred over to the new Mac. I started poking about and I noticed that there were some podcast interview files that I knew I had not seen in a while.

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Needless to say, I copied those over and so over the next few weeks I’m going to be putting those out.

Joe Casabona is such an episode. You might notice that we talk a little bit about the upcoming release of Gutenberg, and so you might be thinking – hang on, that came out ages ago… QED what I said above! None of it is stale, it’s just recorded a few months back, not a few weeks back! I can only say sorry to Joe and I’ll be more careful in the future!

So what’s this episode about? It’s about all the myriad things that Joe does in the WordPress space. Like many of us he cut his teeth on simple projects and began using WordPress when it was still wet behind the ears. His first paid gig was for his church and he knew that earning money making websites was just what he wanted to do.

Fast forward and he’s worked on just about every kind of WordPress website that you could imagine, and being part of the giant Crowd Favorite agency meant that Joe’s work was with WordPress was broad and deep.

After working there for many years, Joe decided that it was time to cut himself loose and create his own products and managing his own destiny. This was about 2 years ago and since then he’s been working tirelessly creating his own courses. You can find his courses over at the Creator Courses website.

I know quite a few people who create courses for the WordPress community, and although this is a large part of what Joe does, there’s an interesting twist to his work too. You see, Joe also makes courses for other people. So let’s say that you’re a plugin developer and you know that you need some training material so that your customers know what the product is all about… Joe can do that for you, which I think is a really great niche to be in!

He’s also big into podcasting, and his How I Built It podcast is going from strength.

In 2018 Joe partnered up with Zac Gordon to launch their Gutenberg courses at the same time and not overlap the content that they were offering. You can find Joe’s Gutenberg Course here and Zac’s Courses are here.

Joe’s Gutenberg course deals with how you can assist your clients who are trying to get to grips with the new interface; so that they don’t trip up and understand the unfamiliar interface. Zac deals with more developer related things like how to create new blocks.

Again, there are some caveats about the fact that this episode is way later than it should have been, I’m not too sure that the pricing that I mention in the podcast are what they are now, and if this is the case my sincerely apologise.

Now, to emphasise the fact that Joe has a growing load of content, he’s also done a course about using Beaver Builder as well as a course about using WordPress as a platform to create a podcast – which, as we all know, is the best use of WordPress!

You can actually get 30% off the podcasting course using the offer code “wpbuilds”. Use this link to do that.

Go check it out!


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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: 00:02 Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Walmsley, Nathan Wrigley.

Nathan Wrigley: 00:21 Hello there, and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once again, this is episode 123 now in titled Creating WordPress courses with Joe Casabona. It was published on Thursday the 11th of April, 2019. My name is Nathan Wrigley from picture and word.co.uk. UK. I small web development agency based in the north of England. And I'll be joined later by Joe Casabona no David Walmsley this week because it's an interview. Just a couple of things before you begin. If you manage to get this before we do the webinars, go over to WP Builds.com. Check out the webinars page. We've got a couple coming up this week, one with more Cohen and one with a window. Dookay. Uh, my feeling is that maybe by the time that this podcast has gone out, you'll be a little bit too late, but you never know. You might be able to subscribe and join us to those.

Nathan Wrigley: 01:10 As always, go to the subscribe page, which is at wpbuild.com forward slash subscribe. There's some forms there to fill out to get onto a couple of our newsletter lists and you can subscribe to us on iTunes and Google podcasts and all of those different podcast apps and there's a Facebook group, a youtube channel and various other things that you could join us on. Essentially the whole premise is just to keep you in touch with all the things that we do. However, this one is slightly different. This is to help you out. This is forward slash deals and this is a whole load of coupon codes over time. People who've got plugins have got in touch with me and said, how about we give you our community 25 30 50% off, whatever it might be, and there's a whole bunch of plugins. So if you're in the market for some plugins, go and check out that page forward slash contribute.

Nathan Wrigley: 02:00 If you would like to join me, maybe we'll make a 15 or 20 minute video about something cool that you've made and I will put it up on our youtube channel and you know, it's just a nice way of getting, getting the wider world to know about something cool that you've done. It doesn't have to be in WordPress, but often it is. And the last one is forward slash advertise. If you want to advertise on the WP Builds podcasts, we'd be most appreciative. It certainly helps keep the lights on. We've got audio insert adverts and we've also got banner ads as well.

Nathan Wrigley: 02:31 Speaking of which the WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by the page builder framework. Do you use a page builder to create your websites or the page builder framework as a mobile responsive and lightening fast WordPress theme that works with beaver builder elements or breezy and other page builders with its endless customization options in the WordPress customizer? It's the perfect fit for you. We are agency. Go to wp-pagebuilderframework.com today, and we do sincerely thank our sponsors of the WP Builds podcasts because I was like say it helps to keep the lights on. Right. We're going to go over to the episode today with Joe Casabona. Joe is a prolific creator of content. He's got a long history working with WordPress. Goes right back to 2006 he's worked as a freelance, he's worked as part of a very large agency and now he's putting out lots of content. He's got my awful, awfully large repertoire of things that he's doing. He's making courses for other people. He's making his own courses. He's got a very, very successful podcast and so it's just a really interesting chat. Just a couple of things to mention before we begin. I have a confession to make and that is that this podcast has come out significantly later than it should have done, largely because temporarily I lost the audio file and couldn't sort of find it.

Nathan Wrigley: 03:51 Anyway, I did find it and as soon as I found it, which was just the other day I've, I've put it live so apologies if a couple of things are out of date. We mentioned Gutenberg and at that point Gutenberg hadn't launched so you get an impression of how long I lost the file for. So, uh, firstly apologies to Joe. And secondly, my apologies to you lot who are listening if any of the pricing or things are looking a bit out of date, I've had a good listen through and I don't think very much is, but maybe some of the figures, the 17 nines might be 99, so I'm not entirely sure. But anyway, go and check Joe cuss up on our hour. It's a very, very interesting podcast from a prolific content creator. Hello there. Thanks for joining us on the WP Builds podcasts once again. Really, really appreciate it very much indeed today we've got an interview, we've got somebody on the line all the way from Philadelphia in the u s survey and this ladies and gentlemen is Joe Casabona. Good morning, good afternoon, whatever it is, wherever you are.

Joe Casabona: 04:51 Thank you. Good. It is good morning for me. I, I believe it's probably afternoon calling. Is that right?

Nathan Wrigley: 04:56 Yes it is. It's a sunny afternoon in beautiful North Yorkshire. And how's, how's Philadelphia? What's going on in Philadelphia? You're there for work, play. Is this where you live?

Joe Casabona: 05:07 This is, yeah. This is where I live. I a transplanted from New York a few years ago. Went to school in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And then I met my wife there and her family lives here and uh, so we moved closer to her family.

Nathan Wrigley: 05:20 Very nice. We, um, we've just been chatting before the, uh, before the call. I was actually being recorded and Joe has got quite a lot going on in his life and I'm wondering as is always the case with these things, it's probably quite a nice idea to get a bit of a background story. So how did you come to be involved in WordPress? Let's just get it that far without talking too much about the things that you're doing currently, how did you end up being a developer for WordPress?

Joe Casabona: 05:49 Yeah. Cool. So I made my first website in like 2002. I've told this story a lot, but I basically, my church came to me and they said, Joe, you're good with computers. Can you make us a website? And I'm like, I don't know how to make websites. And they said, we'll pay you. And I said, yeah, yeah. All right, I will, I can make you a website. And so they paid me 200 whole dollars, which at like 1415 is incredible. That's like most of an Xbox or like four games for the X Box. Um, and so I really enjoyed that. And I continued to make websites. And then my first year of college, which was bought like the fall of 2003 I was talking to another friend and the computer science department. And I was like, I think I'm going to build a way, like a system to manage my clients' content. I Dunno if this thing has been invented yet, but I want to do that. And he's like, have you heard of WordPress? And I'm like, I have not heard of WordPress. Um, and so he, he showed me WordPress and like it was either a really late 20, uh, 2003 or early 2004, so I've been using WordPress almost as long as it's existed. Yeah. So, uh, yeah, before like pages were even a thing. So what I would do is like, I would manage the blog portion with WordPress and then I would have just like straight PHP pages in the WordPress core folder, which is like something you're absolutely never supposed to do. But this was like 2004 so there were no standards for anything basically.

Nathan Wrigley: 07:21 And you've been using it ever since. Have you so fallen in and out of love with it or have you always been a die hard WordPress fan ever since then?

Joe Casabona: 07:29 Yeah, I've been using it since then. I think in 2006 I said, all right, a WordPress now support to pages, I will use this for all of my client's sites. So I moved over my first client, my church over to WordPress. I said, hey, you guys need a redesign. I will do it very cheaply for you. Um, just to like kind of get familiar with WordPress and, and so, uh, yeah, basically since 2006, all of my clients' websites have been used, have been using WordPress.

Nathan Wrigley: 08:03 I think it's probably fair to say that you, you know, if it's possible to do it in WordPress, you've probably come across it. That's now what, 12 years plus more like 18 years or 15 years or something like that. Using WordPress in and out each day, every day for work and for your own websites as well. And if you go over to casabona.org so that's c a s a b o n a.org, you're going to find Joe site and there's an awful lot on there. So it would seem that rather than being an out and out developer nowadays, you've kind of spread yourself and you've got fingers in many pies. For example, I'm looking at the homepage of the website and just beneath the picture of you and some of the people that you've worked with, there's um, you sort of divided, divided your life up into three areas. And I'm sure that some of our people will have heard of you doing one or two of these things. There's a video section, there's a courses section which we'll touch on quite heavily I think later, and also a podcast section. Are you doing all of these three things? making videos, making courses, making the podcasts. Are you juggling all these balls all at the same time?

Nathan Wrigley: 09:16 Yes. Wow. Yeah. Do you ever sleep?

Joe Casabona: 09:22 I, you know, I try, this is an interesting question that I asked to Pippin Williamson on my podcast and he is very keen on getting like eight hours of sleep a night. Um, I don't quite get that. And I've said I don't need it. But then I listen to like a podcast with a sleep therapist, I think it was the Joe Rogan podcast. And they're like, if you get like six or less than your brain is broken. So I've just been lying to myself saying that I'm really good on six. What you could have done in all of those skills, you got eight hours sleep. You could have had a fourth section on this website. Oh yeah, I'd be like a million, you know, I would have, I would have invented like Vimeo or something like that.

Nathan Wrigley: 10:03 So. So let's, let's break it down. Are you, at the moment, up until recently, you, uh, employed, uh, building websites for people with, uh, with a very famous organization, you might want to drop their name or not, I don't know. Um, but I've, little while ago you decided to jack it all in and go freelance and do everything, you know, it's, it, everything's on you. If it's, if you're not generating the revenue nobody is and nobody's putting the work in front of you. Was that a good decision and, or do you do sort of think, oh, some days I want to go back and work for the man

Joe Casabona: 10:37 There are definitely some days, right? With like a slow couple of weeks are like selling products. I've learned over this time about 15 months. Uh, that selling products is very different than like just selling client services to me. But, uh, but then like, I remember that, you know, I can knock off in the middle of the day and go hang out with my daughter. We're lucky enough to be able to hire a babysitter. Uh, and so like sometimes I'll just go downstairs and like play with her for a little while. I'm like, decompress. And, um, so I don't know if I'd be able to do that, you know, working full time for somebody especially, um, you know, so the, the agency I worked for was crowd favorite and I learned so much there. Uh, you know, you said if it's, if it could be done in WordPress, I probably have done it. Um, and, and you know, that the 10 or so years of client work I did on my own through high school and college, uh, definitely helped, but doing stuff or crowd favorite like really pushed me to the limits and I learned a ton there, then I'm just eternally grateful for.

Nathan Wrigley: 11:45 Hmm. Yeah, that's an interesting point, isn't it? The, um, that being sat down in a chair every day with difficult projects being thrown at you and here you go figure it out. That's in a sense is gonna Inspire you, compel you to learn. Whereas potentially sitting here as I do, um, as a freelance that maybe, maybe there's less compulsion and I perhaps don't learn as much as I would have done had I taken that route.

Joe Casabona: 12:14 Yeah. I mean it's really interesting and plus just, you know, they, they do work for, or they've done work for like Disney and Nat Geographic and just the enterprise level clients that, you know, maybe you need like $1 million in project insurance for which I would never have as a freelancer. Those type of projects are just a whole different animal. And, uh, so, you know, I am very grateful for the experience I got there. Uh, and I, you know, I thought I'd be in it for the long haul and then anybody who's a parent knows this. Having, uh, having your first kid changes your perspective on everything.

Nathan Wrigley: 12:49 It really does. So you just saw he did, I think he said to me earlier, 15 months or so ago that it was going to be time to time to change direction and start to do things for yourself. In that 15 months, what have you managed to, what have you managed to do and create and put out there for the, for the community at large?

Joe Casabona: 13:10 Yeah, I've been doing a ton of educational content is really what I've been focusing on. So when I left crowd favorite about 15 months ago, I had a website called WP in one month.com where I did my courses. I realized that that was just like an awful name for a million reasons. Um, like the in one month didn't make any sense in the new context, uh, that I was putting out courses and like I was locking myself into WordPress specifically. And so I rebranded in January to create our courses, which I think is a name that makes much more sense. But, uh, in, in that time I've been able to, you know, make more courses, work with other companies who want to improve their training or support videos. Uh, I've been able to grow my podcast a considerably. I think when I left Crowd Favorite and my podcast was getting probably about, uh, I dunno, maybe like a thousand or so downloads a week. And um, now, just this past Tuesday as we record this, I had a 3000 plus download day. Yeah. So, um, I'm really happy with the growth of the show.

Nathan Wrigley: 14:18 That's great. Um, so let's, let's unpick all of the great stuff that you've been doing. Maybe first of all, get getting the listeners to go over to create or courses.com spelled exactly how you would imagine. And then if you do forward slash shop, you're going to find the courses there. You have been busy, you've got, you've put together, well, you've put together seven by the looks of it and you've got one, which I think is just around the corner. The, the, the ones that perhaps are of interest to us today because they're still very fresh. We've got PHP primers and the introduction to CSS and html and those good things, but the ones that are perhaps more prescient than anything else at the moment, you've got to Gutenberg courses. One simply called an introduction to Gutenberg and then one called Gutenberg theming. Um, and I think that this is how I heard of you. I think either it was through a, um, some sort of email or something posted on another blog because I, you caught my attention with the introduction to Gutenberg costs. Everybody knows it's coming around the corner. It's contentious. Some people love it, some people hate it. You've obviously decided it's good stuff. Tell us about these courses, what you cover and so on.

Joe Casabona: 15:35 Yeah. So shortly after WordCamp US, uh, last year 2017, um, Zac Gordon reached out to me and he was like, Hey man, I'm working on the Gutenberg developer course. It would be really great if there was a user course and that seems like something that you really focus on. And so I was like, yeah, that is, I mean, that's a great idea. So we kind of launched our courses simultaneously. Uh, he launched his developer course. I think about a week later I lost, I launched my intro course and it was, Gutenberg was still very early, I guess in development. It was less than a year old in January. And I just thought, you know, WordPress 5.0 is definitely coming. Gutenberg is a thing that's going to be the way that people create content now and it would be really good to have this educational content and really help prepare. At that point it was early adopters, right? It was people who had gone to WordCamp US and had heard about Gutenberg and wanted to get a jump on it. But it also helped them start thinking about how is this going to effect me? How is this going to affect my clients or my content editors or whatever. So that course really early on was just basically a, here's how you use Gutenberg. Recently I upgraded or I updated it, I should say for the new, uh, interface with Gutenberg. And we built a site just with Gutenberg to see kind of the limitations and like what it excels at and what is limiting and then I have a whole new section for freelancers to talk about how to approach this conversation with your clients, how to plan using WordPress 5.0 and projects you're starting today or maybe projects you just recently launched a and then how to, how to make sure you know you have a checklist of all the things that you need to be testing with Gutenberg for maybe older sites that you've developed that you want to upgrade.

Nathan Wrigley: 17:33 I really like the, the angle of interfacing with clients and teaching them because for me that seems to be one of the big pain points that every, the those who were critical of Gutenberg express the concern that it's going to upset clients or at least it's going to be a time suck for developers to reexplain to their clients. How you now Moscow about creating content and it's going to happen from one day to the next, you know, in, you know, on the day before it's released. We'll all be doing it the old way on the day after it was released, we'll, we'll be doing it the new eight unless we've opted out and so on. So you've got content in there that you could literally sit your clients down in front of and say, here, watch this.

Joe Casabona: 18:17 Yeah, that's, that's exactly right. Like the whole first, maybe two thirds of the course is exactly that. Um, where, uh, you know, the client can watch the videos and have a good understanding of how WordPress works.

Nathan Wrigley: 18:33 Sorry. No, please carry on.

Joe Casabona: 18:35 Oh, and that's, I mean, that's exactly why I did it. I taught at the university level, so I really love teaching. Uh, when I was at Crowd Favorite, I was generally the, the closer on the project who would come in and, and show clients how to use their websites because I was familiar with the development side, but I could also explain things without being too technical. And so I really loved that and I know that there is a void that needs to be filled. You know, there are really good teachers and they are really good developers. Uh, and then in the middle, there needs to be people who can do both. And I'm very happy to be lucky enough to do that.

Nathan Wrigley: 19:13 It's not, it's not a skill sometimes, which, which people have, is it, you know, the, the spend the day sitting in front of the computer and that is their strength and the idea of going out and trying to explain this stuff to clients, especially if you've got a large, you know, a portfolio of hundreds of clients, that's a catastrophic nightmare waiting to happen. So the idea that in your, an introduction to Gutenburg course, so there's a, there's bits of it that you can watch and take from, from it, but you can also hand this over to the client and say, look, this is what it's going to look like. This is what you need to skill up, skill on. This is how you're going to do it from now on. That's fantastic. I really hadn't occurred to me that anybody had put that together in a course. So I'm glad that you have.

Joe Casabona: 19:57 Well, uh, yeah. Thank you very much. I learned, uh, you know, I got my master's in software engineering and so I've sat with the very computer sciencey types and I learned from them that, uh, I am prob, I'm not the best developer out there, but somebody said, you know, you might not be the best developer, but you're certainly a lot more personable than maybe the best of the best developers. Uh, so I'm very happy to be in that medium because I'm very extroverted. I love talking to people and so I'll let my developer skills take a hit if it means I get to be more social.

Nathan Wrigley: 20:33 I like the way you phrase that. Yeah, that's great. You've also got a Gutenberg theming course on there. Do you want to tell us about the, well, why would we need a Gutenberg theme in course? What's in there? What good is, have you thought about that? We, uh, that we know about.

Joe Casabona: 20:48 Yeah. So Zac and I, again, we're talking and he has the very developer. He course, I have the intro course, but he really talks about building blocks and building stuff for Gutenberg. But there's this middle area where we're telling people, yeah, your themes need to be ready, but we're not showing them how their themes need to be ready. So Zac and I teamed up for this course and keep focused on different parts of it or preparing your theme and making sure everything's enabled properly. Getting custom color palettes and block templates. And I focused on a lot of the front end stuff because I'm probably a better front end developer and then a back end developer. And so I say, you know, I show you how to take the Default Gutenberg blocks and then style them to make them look the way you want and your approach and naming conventions. And so it's basically a, here's what you need to do to make sure your theme is ready for Gutenberg in a lesson. Like a checklist. He way in more of a, here are the exact things that you need to do and think about.

Nathan Wrigley: 21:51 Right, right. And that's available as of right now on the website, those two courses can be found for $79 a piece. There's a whole bunch of other nice stuff on that one that I want to talk about just for a quick moment because when you've got it on sale, there's two that you've gone on sale. I don't know how long it will be on sale, but hopefully still by the time you get to this is the beaver builder one. You've got an up and running with beaver builder customer. Very, very big proponent and fan of beaver builder. Why did you, why that one? Why that page builder as opposed to let's say the, the, the rivals?

Joe Casabona: 22:26 Yeah, so again, I have Crowds Favorite to thank for that. I met the beaver builder guys through crowd favorite, the first WordCamp US in Philly and we were using it for one of our projects and I really liked it and I ended up having to train one of our clients on how to use it. And I thought, man, this is great. So I talked to the beaver builder guys about, Hey, I, you know, there wasn't really a course out there yet or you know, maybe it was just like very early on that that course material and training material was just starting to get made. I had them are, they generously sponsored an hour long webinar on how to use it was called up and running with beaver builder. Um, and uh, or like maybe it goes zero to website. Uh, it was some catchy name and it was an hour long and I gave them the raw video for them to use however they wanted since they sponsored. And they said that that video was their number one training documentation there, number one piece of training material for a long time. And that video on my youtube channel has I think like 25,000, which is like, yeah, like far and away the most popular one. That's what I thought. Well, I should make a course out of this. And so that's exactly what I did. I made a course a came out by the next WordCamp US Philly. So like it was the first product I released and like I'm getting notifications that money's just like coming in while I was sitting in a bar. It was incredible.

Nathan Wrigley: 23:56 No, I'll have another drink. Yeah, exactly. No extra rounds on me. Yeah. And then you've got, um, you've got a completely different side to your life. So, you know, you've got the developer side, but then you've also a little bit like me in this sense, you've got a, a very, very popular podcast, as you've just mentioned, but you've also got a course about podcasting. And I know that this conversation does come up a lot. You know, the purpose of podcasting, why businesses should do it, why individuals should do it. Um, what approach are you taking with the builder podcast website with WordPress? Is it that the sort of technical stuff, or do you go into why you should do it? What kind of microphone you should have, what the setup is, or is it more about, you know, what the moving parts are within WordPress that you need to get going? Which plugins, which themes and so on?

Joe Casabona: 24:43 It's definitely about the moving parts. Uh, Pat Flynn has a great course on like the why of it all. And I can't compete with Pat Flynn, Pat Flynn, well, I don't want to cause he does things very well, but I went to a podcast movement 2018 it was very luckily in Philadelphia, so basically my backyard and they had a great black Friday deal. So I picked up the ticket and I was like, you know, I'll take the train into the city and all attend. And I noticed there that people were much more interested in the fact that I was a web developer. So they weren't like, oh, what's your podcast about? They're like, you're a develop, like you're a WordPress guy. Uh, let's talk. Because making a website for my podcast was the hardest thing. So I thought, man, a lot of people seem to have this problem. And I never thought it was a problem because I've been using WordPress for forever. Yes. So it's a piece of cake. Yeah, exactly. I was like, Oh yeah, you know, I know the plugin to use. I learned that I should use an audio host. So I use Libsyn when I started my show, Libsyn was the popular one. And um, I guess it probably still is a lot of podcasts use that. But, and then I put all the parts together and I refined it over time. But I'm talking to you, you know, there was one person in particular that I'm like, I need to make this course specifically for him. He had a wix site, which is like, no problem if you're really comfortable with Wix, but he didn't have direct show URLs. So I was explaining to him kind of like the importance of a canonical URL that you can link to on social media to drive traffic to your website. And then if they want to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or whatever, they can do that. And I thought, man, this is, this really isn't easy. You need to pick hosting. Where do you buy the domain, what plugin and what theme do you use? So, uh, so I've decided, yeah, I'm going to make this exact course. You have your podcast and you're ready to go. And you know you want to use WordPress but you don't know where to start for that.

Nathan Wrigley: 26:53 And this is around the corner, um, in the sense that it's on sale. Presale we should say. So instead of $99 when it comes out, it's 67 at the moment. Again, caveat, I don't know if that will be true on the day that this podcast goes out, but nevertheless, when are you, when are you planning, what, what month of the year? 2018 are you hoping to push it out the door?

Joe Casabona: 27:15 I'm hoping to get it out the door by the end of September. So as we record this, I have about a week to get it all done and dusted and um, and, and I'm working with uh, Craig you at from a cast dose and we're going to do a launch webinar the first week in October. So I mean it definitely needs to be done by then.

Nathan Wrigley: 27:36 Yup. Wow. Yeah, that'll be, that's a good line in the sand.

Joe Casabona: 27:41 Yeah, absolutely. And just to make sure that your listeners in case this does come out after them, just in case to make sure they do get to take advantage of the sale price. I will make a coupon code WP Builds for, it's about 30% off of the price.

Nathan Wrigley: 27:56 Oh cool. That's very cool. Yeah. That 30% would just about be exactly right. That's really kind. Thank you very much. I must write that down somewhere. Otherwise I'll forget. Um, and yeah. Great. I mean, do you enjoy this, you know, making the courses, you've obviously been doing an awful lot of it. Do you enjoy that as much as you ever did writing code and actually wrangling with WordPress? Do you actually enjoy sort of sitting there typing out the text, giving it, designing the course, putting it together, editing, re-editing doing the videos and all of that?

Joe Casabona: 28:27 I think at this point I still like coding a little bit better, but I've been doing that for, you know, half of my life. So with writing code, I can basically plop myself down in front of a computer and within 10 minutes just write code, you know, or like maybe I'll write some stuff on a whiteboard first and go, okay, now I start the cognitive load for me too. Or maybe the, the inertia for me to get started doing a course is a lot greater because there, there's the outline. I can bang out an outline pretty quickly, but like there's the outline, there's the scripts in the instances where I am reading off of a script, there's planning all of the interactions or things like, um, uh, how am I going to show this on the screen? And then there's the, the editing part of it and creating the artwork. So I've been thinking of ways that I can automate certain processes or outsource certain things. Like I certainly don't need to create the artwork. Uh, somebody more talented than me can do that. The only thing that I really need to do is lend my voice and my teaching style. So, uh, I really enjoy the teaching part of it. Uh, but the, the overall cognitive load is, uh, it takes me a little bit longer at this point.

Nathan Wrigley: 29:48 I've got a couple of friends who do online courses. That is, they're living on it. It doesn't see, it sounds, it sounds like a dream, you know, when you listen to them and you see the finished product and niche. Yeah. I must've just all come together. So he's a man, it's hard work, really hard work if you want to do it well.

Joe Casabona: 30:04 Yeah, that's exactly right. So, you know, I was talking to somebody and they're like, yeah, I'll, I'll do like a quick online course. Um, maybe before I go on a podcast or before I speak at a conference, it will be like a six video talking head thing. And so I tried that and I was just like, this isn't, I can't do it as well as this person does that, uh, because, well, first of all, he's much smarter than me. And so he, uh, he has a lot more experienced than I do. And so he can, he can talk like that. But for me, the production value is really important. So I, I did the talking head video and I was like, oh well, like the lighting wasn't right or like the something was weird in the background there. I didn't really like the way I did that. I, I really wanted to get like a good, like, uh, take. So if he's a lot more like, um, you know, like Michael Bay and the directing style where it's like we shot it, we got it. I'm a lot more like, well, I don't want to say Stanley Kubrick, but Stanley Kubrick famously, you know, did takes until they got it. They got it perfect side. Right? Yeah. So, you know, and but in that same, you know, in that same analogy, Michael Bay is making a lot more money than Stanley Kubrick.

Nathan Wrigley: 31:24 So does that trait of you of yourself, does it, does it sometimes I know you where you're on your 12th take of something, which you probably nearly got right the second time, but not 100% and you're just thinking, oh, just let it go. It was good enough.

Joe Casabona: 31:41 Yeah. And, and sometimes it will, sometimes I will do that. I'll be like, all right, it's, it's good enough. It's almost like a few, I did drama club when I was in high school and Grammar School. Uh, which when I say it, it's probably super obvious to people. Yeah, that makes sense that he did that. Um, but it's, it's, it's like for getting aligned on stage. As long as you don't go, oh, I forgot my line, no one's going to know. So yeah, it does. It does annoy me a little bit sometimes. And this, the same thing happens with writing code. I'll be like, I'll just do it the shortcut way and then I'll start doing it the shortcut way. And I'd be like, I can't in good conscious do it the wrong way. Like I know the right way to do it. So I usually end up back anyway.

Nathan Wrigley: 32:24 Yeah, you can tell, to be honest with you, as a, as a consumer of these courses and things, you can, it's very quick. It doesn't take very long to work out if somebody is sweated the details and thought about it and it kind of just lends a certain confidence to the whole thing. Doesn't it if it looks like the editing and the lighting and the uh, I everything, the way that the slight fade in and go out and all of that kind of stuff. If it looks brilliant, I just, I'm drawn to it in a way where the ones that are a bit more ad hoc on a bit bit less well developed should we say, I kind of tend to to put those down a bit more quickly and go and find something else to watch. And it's the same on youtube, you know, when I'm watching kind of tutorials, having said all of that, I am so not like that myself. When we, when we record these podcast episodes, like I said to you, basically, the only thing that's going to stop me from finishing this recording as if one of us dies. Um, and I, I don't do a great deal of editing. I kind of like chopped the beginning off and chopped the end off and that, that works and it seems to work for, for me and my style. But man, this takes even doing it that way takes a long time. So, I can't imagine how long it's taking you to put these courses together. Speaking of, um, putting things together, if we go over to yet another part of your life, which is, I love this, I really, really love this and I would commend this to anybody who hasn't managed to find a podcast that they like, uh, present company excepted the, um, we've got how I built it now. That is how I built all as one word. Dot. It. I'm guessing it's an Italian thing. Um, and this is just such a cool podcast, episode 94. Oh, coincidentally that's where we're at as well. Um, yeah, I think, I think yours is much better though. Tell us about what got, what on Earth made you do this? What's it about? Just fill in the holes.

Joe Casabona: 34:25 Yeah, so I thought of the idea just to inform this conversation. I bought this domain probably a week after I got back from my honeymoon where we went to Italy. And so we were very familiar with the.it domains. And I thought, man, how I built that, it would be a really cool domain and it existed like it was available for purchase and I thought I should start a podcast. And I thought it would be a good way to cross sell my courses at first. So I had a beaver builder course, maybe I would have the beaver builder guys on the show. They would talk about how they built beaver builder. And at the end of the show I'd say you just learned how beaver builder was built. Now go learn how to make stuff with beaver builder [email protected], creative courses.com and then I got sponsored very quickly, like somebody reached out and they're like, hey, can you add this link to your website? And I was like, no, but if you want to sponsor my podcast, it'll be 99 bucks. And he's like, sure. And I'm like, sure. You just said yes to that. That's crazy. Uh, so basically from, from the first episode or the second episode, I was sponsored and I didn't feel right taking people's money to promote their products while also making a big part of the show cross promoting my own stuff. So I decided, all right, this will just be a straight interview show. I really liked it because I was still at my, uh, the, I was still a crowd favorite, but it was a remote position. And so I really enjoyed interacting with people the way that you don't really get to do when a remote job on a daily basis. And part of the reason that I started it was I was gearing up to launch to kind of relaunch my online courses and I was asking other people, hey, how do you do that? You know, what's, what's the best way? I was having long conversations with Shawn Hesketh from WP when I won and I was like, these conversations should be public. There are so valuable to me. So it was kind of very selfish. I was like, I want to know, I'm going to ask these people and then I'm going to make it public. Um, and yeah, that's been, that's been going strong for two years. I launched in July of 2016 with like episode zero, uh, an unfortunate coincidence or maybe it was fortunate because it shows that my idea has legs. A NPR launched a very similarly named podcast in September of that same, yeah. Yeah. So, uh, you know, I think, I think they proud of that. You know, it's not like they saw mine and they were like, we should do this. But they're very similarly named and, and a very similar premise. So at the very least, and you know, I know I've got that going for me, that they came up with the same idea.

Nathan Wrigley: 37:24 What's, what's out of scope for this or probably easier to say what's in scope, who, who do you have on and what are the criteria? What must these people have done to get themselves on your pocket? Because it's a such a broad, broad collection of people that you've interviewed over the, over the last couple of years.

Joe Casabona: 37:41 Yeah. So at first it was basically only WordPress people. I thought, I'm just going to interview, you know, this is my network. I know a lot of well known people here that said like episode six, I think I got Chris Coyier from CSS tricks and code pen. He was like super generous with his time. He, I was just like, Hey, do you want to be on my show? And he was like, yeah, let's do it. Like tomorrow. I'm like, you're awesome. So the criteria has gotten less strict over time where it was, I'm going to talk to web developers and now it's more like if you have a thing that you built that you're willing to talk about. So, um, early on in, in this most recent season, I talked to Brad Dowdy. Uh, he is the host of the pen addict podcast and he also has a store called Naco where he built physical products. And I thought, man, this is really interesting. Like, I don't know about making physical products. So I basically, if you can answer my four or five questions, who are you and what do you, do you know, what's, what was the thing that you built? What research did you do? How did you build it and what are your plans for the future? If you can answer those questions in any way, you're good for my show.

Nathan Wrigley: 38:55 Uh, just think it's such a great remit for a show, you know, because it could be anything in the future, you know, it could be pharmaceuticals or buildings or lit, you know, sprockets. You should have evil Melissa. Okay. Yeah. How did I build the Falcon heavy, you know, it's just great. And do you, um, is this a nice part of your week? Do you enjoy sitting down and preparing this sort of stuff? Do you do a lot of preparation or does it, does the conversation sort of organically flow and you just find out what they're doing is you're talking to them?

Joe Casabona: 39:30 Yeah, I, I love that part of my week. It's probably my favorite part of my week. I do a little bit of research to get guests to make sure I know kind of who they are. Like I, cause like if you listen to like some early episodes, I'm like, so you're like the CEO and they're like, no. And I'm like, great, I should've known that. Or like I would never ask them how to pronounce their name before the show. So there's like a run of episodes where I'm like, ah, your name is Niels, totally offend.

Nathan Wrigley: 40:06 I did actually ask you how to pronounce your name off. I've learned that one. Yeah.

Joe Casabona: 40:11 Yeah. So totally. I do that now. And then the other thing that I never really did was at the end of the show ask like how can people find you? Uh, which like, I mean that's just a really good question to ask. So the process has changed over time. But yeah, I do some prep work. I don't do like deep research because I like I personally like when I'm surprised by something on the show because then I get real excited about it. Yeah,

Nathan Wrigley: 40:34 Absolutely. I completely agree that that knowledge, because this podcast has got a very, you know, it's got a ring fence, there's a very small selection of people who we have on and we all know what they're doing. Um, I can quickly find out what they're up to and you know, usually it's a plugin so I can go and find it, whereas your stuff so broad, I would love that. Um, that moment of, Oh really? Oh, what, how did, tell me more, you know, get really excited and interested. This, this would be, I want to do your podcast, I want you to do at the end of this podcast is say I'm fed up with doing this podcast. Nathan, here it is. You just said that'd be great. It's not going to happen. Um, so yeah, this is something you should go and check out, ladies and gentlemen, how I built.it. And obviously these sort of skills that you've got of doing podcasts and what have you. I've kind of led to a third thing. You know, you're, uh, you write code, you've worked in WordPress for years and you're a very confident public speaker and now do this increasingly popular podcasts, but you also sort of, you're a bit of a hired gun for, um, for making videos for people. This, this might be of interest to some of our listeners. Should they, should they have a product or a service that they want somebody like Joe to, to make a video for? Tell us about this.

Joe Casabona: 41:53 So I noticed, I mean, in programming I have noticed a few things that are probably stereotypically developer. He, uh, one is testing. So I hate testing my code because to me it's the equivalent of like, I just built this amazing chair and now I'm going to slam it into the wall to see if it breaks. So I, you know, I will write code and then I'll test a few things. And if it works, great. And of course I, I test it more thoroughly. But I hate that part of development because you're actively trying to break something. And the other part is documentation. Yes. Uh, and you know, you just spent all this time writing this code and you're maybe not documenting as you go. So you have to go back and go like, what did I do this? How did I do that? And I think the, I think training kind of falls into the documentation realm. I built this, I know how to use it so other people will know how to use it. Uh, it's, it's a, it's a bias that we all have. And the reason I started doing these kind of videos for hire to train people on how to use a product is because I'm coming in, I'm most likely don't know how to use your product. So I'm learning how to use your product and taking notes on the things that were hard for me to figure out. I'm asking you questions about the product. So now your getting insight from somebody on the harder parts of the product. But I'm also a developer so I know how to speak your language. So I think it's, it's a good QA phase and then I make these videos on exactly how to use your product service plugin that you can then put in the support area or up on Youtube for free. And theoretically, uh, and, and the folks that I've done this for, uh, can, uh, kind of testify to this, uh, it cuts down on basic support requests. So you pay me some money to make these videos and you are easing up, uh, you're, you're freeing up time for your support team or if you are the support team, you're freeing up your own time.

Nathan Wrigley: 44:14 I think it's an incredibly cool idea. Um, again, uh, I wish I'd thought of it. I think actually, Joe, I want to be you. Uh, secretly. That's what I'm, that's I think w got that out of this episode. I would actually like be you. Um, because this is such a great idea. Yeah. So if you've got a product or a service gave Joe, go to Joe's websites, um, I'm guessing there's a process where you, you talk it through and you know, they send you some documentation and a, and a version of whatever it is you're trying to explain and then you just put it together in a succinct, nice, beautifully, beautifully created way with Nice audio and simple steps. Looks Great. It's the sort of thing that you, you see all the time on youtube. It's very, very nicely done. Congratulations.

Joe Casabona: 45:03 Thank you very much. Yeah, really good. Yeah. I will say one thing I really liked doing with this is I, uh, we always have to have a concept going into the video. So all of my courses are kind of like this. They're very learn by doing. It's not just this is how you do this and this is how you do this. It's, we're going to like Formidable Forms. We're going to take permittable forms and we're going to build a jobs board using from formidable forums. Yeah, good point. We highlight all of the important parts of the plugin and then at the end you have built something tangible. So you probably, you remember it a bit more.

Nathan Wrigley: 45:41 Hmm. Yeah. That's it. That's exactly how you get to learn something isn't it? Is use it for a specific purpose and then you've, you know, then you can teach it to other people. Yeah. Perfect. Do you see yourself moving, um, it's, it feels like your, the path that you've taken is leading you towards being a content creator over time. You know, I could be wrong about that and maybe you're doing more website work and we've had time to discuss, but do you feel that in five, 10 years' time, this will be your thing, making videos, making podcasts and so on? That will be what you do for a living?

Joe Casabona: 46:16 Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's really interesting because if you had asked me like five years ago, I'd be like, I'm going to always develop. But, uh, there's, I mean, first of all, just the technology changes so quickly and a lot of older developers especially have aversion to learning that new thing. And I'm in my thirties and I'm like, do I have to learn? React? Like I just learned angular, like aren't they kind of the same? So, but content, you know, there's the idea of creating new content and teaching people new things always excites me in the classroom. You know, when I teach in a classroom, seeing people figure something out is, uh, is one of my favorite things. Or seeing them not get it and, and then me trying to have to figure out a different way to say it is again, one of my favorite things, I love teaching and content creation helps me do that.

Nathan Wrigley: 47:21 Do you ever do something like webinars and things where you've got a direct line almost like being on the phone, if you know what I mean, where you, you can teach it at the same time as getting the feedback. Because I often think that about making these courses, you've, you've put your heart and soul into it and you never quite know whether people got to the end of it or whether people finished all the videos or what they thought of them. Do you ever do that kind of stuff? Webinars and live events? I don't mean events where you show up in person. I mean kind of online live stuff.

Joe Casabona: 47:52 Yeah, I tried, I tried to do webinar. I'm doing webinars for other people right now. So like I have an eye themes one scheduled, I have the Castos one scheduled and I very regularly think about doing my own. And what I'm trying to do now is build my audience so that I have a good number of people to come to the webinars. And I know that some people will say like, well if you do a Webinar you will build your audience. But I think that doing them for other people helps me kind of piggyback off of their audiences and get people, see who I am and maybe they sign up for my mailing list and, and then I can start doing regular webinars. I did do a coaching program around this time last year. Uh, it was kind of a Beta. I was trying something out and I had a couple of students and we would meet live for an hour once a week. Over six weeks. And I really liked that because I would go over something with them and then they would have time to ask questions. Uh, so I'm trying to figure out how to do that again. Uh, and, and basically trying to develop demand for it. So maybe I'll do like a coaching program course where part of the courses we meet weekly. So you watch a video and then you come to the Webinar and we can talk through some things. And, and I'm, I'm kind of working that out and I think 2019 will be the year that I launch. I launch it again kind of new and improved.

Nathan Wrigley: 49:26 So many amazingly clever things that can be done on the Internet. So many interesting ways of delivering content and communicating with people, you know, forums, Facebook groups, webinars, everything. And it is just, it's trying to get a grip on what you are most comfortable with and what your audience respond to. But it seems to me you are utterly prodigious, you know, like we said earlier, how much sleep do you get? Um, I am deeply in awe of all the amazing stuff that you've put out, whether it's videos or your podcast, because I know how long this podcast take, you know, and you, you're doing an awful lot of that stuff as well. Um, and you've, you know, you've got all your courses that you're creating. Amazing, utterly amazing. Um, thanks for coming on. Joe. I am going to take a leaf out of your book. I do this every week anyway. This is your moment. You have, as long as you like to plug yourself or just describe yourself or give us your Twitter handle, tell us about something you want to promote, whatever. Go for it, Joe.

Joe Casabona: 50:27 Cool. Well first of all, thank you for having me on the show. I'm glad the video's not on because, uh, when people compliment me a lot, I, I blush and so I'm glad you didn't have to see that. Uh, if, if you want to learn more about me, casabona.org is, is the best place. I've got links to my custom video courses and then my own courses and the podcast, uh, reach out and say hello on Twitter. I am J Casabona, that's j, c a, s a, b o n, a, on Twitter and Instagram and most social networks. And I, I'm usually, I have tweet like tweet Bot up in a separate screen, uh, which is probably a hit on my productivity but if you want to say nine on sale. Yeah, exactly. So, uh, that's, that's the best place to come and say hi. Okay.

Nathan Wrigley: 51:13 Oh well I really hope that some of you guys listening to this, cause that's always my hope is that people listen to these, these podcast episodes and then they go and do something that other find a plug in or they find a theme or they go and look at a course or something, go on and make the effort, reach out to Joe. He just really seems like the kind of guy you should, we should all be getting to know a bit better. Thank you for coming on and thanks to everybody for tuning in to the podcast yet again. Really do appreciate it. Uh, go to WP Builds.com. Click on all the buttons underneath the podcast player. That would help us a great deal. Everybody keeps saying get iTunes review. So I'm saying to you, go on, give us iTunes reviews, um, and make, make sure all the styles are colored in a bright color as opposed to being empty. That would be really helpful and yeah, thanks to Joe for coming on this week.

Nathan Wrigley: 52:02 Okay. I hope you enjoyed that episode of the WP Builds podcast. You've got to know Joe Casabona on or a little bit and about all the courses he does. Check out the show notes, there's some links and you can get a discount if you follow those links.

Nathan Wrigley: 52:16 The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by WP and UP. One in four of us will be directly affected by mental health related illness. WP and UP supports and promotes positive mental health within the WordPress community. This is achieved through mentorship, events, training and counseling. Please help enable WP and UP by visiting WP and UP.org forward slash give together. We can hashtag press forward.

Nathan Wrigley: 52:49 Okay. Join us next Monday when we have got our regular WordPress weekly news. There are a couple of webinars this week. I hope you manage to make those, but if you don't, hopefully we'll see you back here next Thursday. I will fade in some cheesy music and say, bye bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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