177 – Pro WaaS a.k.a. websites as a service with Michael Short

Interview – Pro WaaS a.k.a. websites as a service with Michael Short

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So a couple of years ago the concept of WaaS (website as a service) started up, and we covered it quite a bit, we talked about WP Ultimo and did some live demos as well.

The concept is simple, you create some templates for websites, most likely in a niche that you’ve identified, and you put them up for sale. People can come to your WaaS and, with the power of WP Ultimo, they can get a site spun up that they can start using right away.

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This concept is beguiling for sure. You do some upfront work, getting the stack set up and drive traffic to your WaaS, and if all goes well, people will sign up and start using your platform and paying your for the service! Nice.

Michael Short, is the guest on the podcast today and he’s talking about how he thought that he could take this further.

You see the basic WP Ultimo set up is great and it will get you where you need to be, but we’re WordPressers and we like to tinker with things and make them different if we can… and we can!

WaaS Pro is a suit of plugins that you can use to modify your WaaS to your hearts content. There are a boatload of options that you can choose from:

  • Admin UI PRO
  • Admin UI PRO Flat
  • Site Settings PRO
  • Settings Wizard PRO
  • Guided Tours PRO
  • Site Analytics PRO
  • Stock Library PRO
  • Content Editor PRO
  • Content Editor PRO/ACF Add-on for Beaver
  • Content Editor PRO/ACF Add-on for Elementor
  • Live Editor PRO for Elementor
  • Live Editor PRO for Beaver Builder
  • Live Editor PRO for Oxygen
  • Rebrand/Control PRO for Elementor
  • Rebrand LifterLMS PRO
  • Rebrand Amelia PRO
  • Reduce Churn PRO
  • License Activator PRO
  • Project Portal PRO (Coming Soon)
  • Groundhogg Integration PRO
  • WP Ultimo: CartFlows Integration
  • WP Ultimo: ThriveCart Integration

You see I said a boat load!

Each of these plugins offers you something special to enhance your WaaS… Page Builder compatibility, payment gateway customisation, setup wizards for your customers, ways to modify the settings. The list is really extensive.

If you decide to get on the WaaS Pro train you can purchase the plugins à la carte, picking the ones that you need, or there’s the option to go all-in with an all-you-can-eat membership. Choosing the membership gets you access to all the plugins for a monthly fee, which might be a better deal if you’re using more than a few.

Now, with great complexity there’s usually a bit of a learning curve, and the same is true for setting up your WaaS, which is why Michael also offers a complete training solution for all of this called WaaS Camp. WaaS Camp will teach your everything that you need to get your WaaS business up and running. Planning your WaaS – check, publishing your WaaS – check and promoting your WaaS – check. There’s no reason why you should not be able to get up and running with this in a matter of weeks, earning some revenue whilst you sleep.

So check out the podcast and see how you can get this up and running for yourself.

All plugins are compatible with single installs of WP

Mentioned in this episode:

WP Ultimo – the software that you need for all of this to work!

waas.pro – all the things that you need to create your own WaaS

waas.camp – teaches you how to create a successful WaaS

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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: [00:00:00] Welcome to the WP podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your hosts, David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there, and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once again, this is episode number 177 entitled pro was AKA a websites as a service with a Michael Short. It was published on Thursday the 30th of April, 2020 my name's Nathan Wrigley and I'd like to welcome you. Formerly to WP Builds.com we are a WordPress specific network and we've got absolutely loads of content pushed out each and every week, and I'd like to mention a little bit of it now if that's okay.
Head over to WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe, and over on that page you're going to find a whole heap of ways of keeping in touch with all the stuff that we do at WP Builds. There's a couple of emails that you can sign up for, one to tell you about the content that we produce. We call that the newsletter.
And the other one is a WP Builds deals update. And if you subscribe to that one each and every time a deal comes out, we will alert you about it. There's also options on there to sign up on your favorite podcast player so that you don't miss any of the episodes. And join our Facebook group of two and a half thousand word pressers, and there's things like our messenger chat, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel and so on.
So that's WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe. Another thing to mention would be WP Builds.com forward slash. Deals. This is a deals page, which is up 365 days of the year. It's filterable and searchable, and none of the deals so far have expired. They've just come onto the page and the page has grown and grown, so there's.
Massive amounts of notable WordPress plugins. I do thank all of the plugin and theme developers for their support, and we've added one this week, which is completely to do with this podcast. Michael Short, who runs was pro, has enabled us to give you 20% off, and the best way to find out about that is go to WP Builds.com forward slash deals.
Click the yellow search and filter button and type in WaaS and you will see whilst pro comes up, 20% off, and you've got a coupon code on there, but there's absolutely loads of stuff on that page as well. So that's WP Builds.com forward slash deals. Well, it just keeps coming. WP Builds.com forward slash a win because Michael Short, not only has he given us a 20% off coupon, he's also given us five licenses.
To his was pro plugins. So this is a suite of plugins. There's absolutely loads of them, and they enabled you to make more of your websites as a service offering. So for example, we've got a plugin called site settings, pro settings wizards. Pro site analytics, pro stock, library pro, there's absolutely loads, some of them specific to BeaverBuilder, some to elemental.
And really the best thing to do would be go over to WP Builds.com forward slash a win. And you can go over there and enter a competition. It's one of these viral competition things. It's powered by ruffle press. And the more times that you enter, the more interactions you have. So for example, if you visit our Facebook page and sign up to our newsletter, you get.
Additional points and points mean prizes, and Michael's giving away five of those licenses. Currently, there's about 20 days left on that competition, but go and enter, share it across the universe, and you'll get a greater chance of winning. So that's WP Builds.com forward slash win and WP Builds.com forward slash.
Advertise. If like Michael, you are in the boat of creating WordPress products. Well. The WP Builds podcast might be a great place because we have a WordPress specific audience. Just like no doubt you are. Okay. So that's all of my housekeeping out of the way. Let's get on with the actual podcast. Okay. As I said at the top, we're talking to Michael Short today.
Michael has an absolute ton of offerings out there online. He has a service called pro, and he has another service called was camp. Now was, if you've been living under a rock stands for, it's an acronym standing for website as a service, and the intention is that you find a niche, you find an area where you.
Feel that you can contribute and you offer that up as a service. And the idea is that you construct sort of templated websites, which people can come along and buy into. There's loads of plugins out there, most notably WP Ultimo or has been on the podcast on several occasions talking about that. And this makes it possible for you to streamline this whole.
Things so that people can go to your website and purchase a template. So they like the look of a particular website. They buy it and it's now their website, which they can run. Now, WP Ultimo has a great deal of functionality in it, but Michael with his was pro has decided that he's going to extend that and he's got
Absolutely loads of different extensions that I mentioned earlier. You can win them in the competition, but there's absolutely loads of them. There's probably about 20 or so, which extend the functionality. They are capabilities for page builders. They've got settings, wizards, and all sorts of things.
Payment gateways added in and so on and so forth. So his service really extends that. But. Also thrown into that. He's got this wire's camp offering, which enables you to learn how to set up your website as a service professionally and quickly and so on. And so he's on the podcast talking about all of that today.
There's a lot of ground that we cover and I hope that you enjoy it. Hello. Hello. Thank you for listening to the WP Builds podcast. Once more, and thanks for getting to the interview section we have today, Michael Short, all the way from North America. How you doing, Michael?
Michael Short: [00:05:57] I'm doing great. Thanks. Thanks for having me.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:59] Yeah. If you've not heard of Michael before, I'm just going to hand over the floor to you because you'll probably do a far better job at explaining what it is that you bring to WordPress than I will. So, first of all, Michael, just tell us what your background is with WordPress and what it is that you are talking about today.
Michael Short: [00:06:18] Yeah. So I've been in the marketing and advertising agency business for the over 20 years. This year actually marked the 20 year Mark. and in that process we come to a point where we started creating plugins this last year and a half. And so now we are creating plugins for a little known concept called websites as a service and the business name that we'd run our plugins right.
It's called pro. We also have a Facebook group with some live active members that are all in the process of trying to either build their last are come up with ideas for a class or promote their last. So yeah, that's what we do
Nathan Wrigley: [00:06:54] now. It always seems to make the podcasts like this. Very often the URLs are distributed towards the end.
It kind of makes sense to me if we're going to talk about your products and services. Do you want to just. Not the URLs outright at the beginning so that we can, so that people can pause, go and check out what it is that we're talking about, kind of a look at the products and whatnot, and then come back and press play again.
Michael Short: [00:07:16] Yeah, sounds good. So we have last pro.com last dashboard.com is the URL and you can go check those out. Will also have the Facebook group. If you go there to Facebook. That can't afford slash groups where slash why stock developer. Dot network now, and you can find this there as well.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:32] Okay, so Wes w a S is an accurate acronym for now.
I never know if it's a website as a service or if it's WordPress as a service. I suppose ultimately it means the same thing. This kind of blew up last year. I remember talking a lot about this, especially around a product called WP Ultimo, and it felt. Literally 12 months ago, more or less to the day that this thing was going to be huge in the year of 2019 and then it kind of went a little bit more quiet than I was expecting.
I was expecting it to just go ballistic. Have you got any thoughts on that? It was, it made, did I just miss out on that tidal wave of, of popularity or did it kind of not, not culminate in the way that that I thought it would.
Michael Short: [00:08:19] Yeah. You totally missed out. Everyone's doing it. No, I think, I think it's just a matter of getting more awareness.
I don't know that enough people are aware of it. I think there's a lot of interest. The group that we have is got close to 2,500 people now. and it's. It's pretty active. So there is quite a bit of activity and things going on around the space. However, I don't think that there's enough people, like there's no numbers, like elementary groups or anythings like that where you have mass adoption or mass awareness.
But I do believe 2020 is probably really going to be the, honestly, I think even 2021 is really going to be the breakout year 2020. I think we still have to spend some time, generating more awareness around this concept. and, and I'd love to share more of that concept with you guys.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:03] Okay. So let's go, let's, let's rewind right to the very beginning about what this is and what exactly can be accomplished with a West.
So let's, let's first of all work out what it is. So website is a service, WordPress as a service, whatever you want to call it. what, what even is that.
Michael Short: [00:09:20] Well, I would argue it's actually bigger than WordPress. I think it's websites. And the reason being is that there are platforms out there that do follow this business model, such as Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace.
All of them have their own website as a service platform. And so the idea is to have a way to scale your business on a much. A quicker, grander scale, then you could do with a traditional business agency business model. So rather than building outside singly, one by one, you're creating a system, much like Wix, much like Squarespace that a customer can go in, go to your landing page and see all your templates.
Pick a plan which left plan level they want, pick a template and get all signed up on their own without much of your involvement at all if you do it properly. So that's really what the whole concept is. And that's what got me excited. Because if you think about it, you literally can sign up a hundred people in a day or more.
I, I'm just using a random number there and really have very little effect on your business and if you built it right, so like you're not going to have very many. travel tickets or anything like that. If you have a nice side West, and that's what our tool is to help you create some,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:10:25] okay. Yeah. The, the, the audience that we have, like all audiences, you know, it comes and goes, there's flux.
And so it may be that a lot of people have, have heard this kind of talk before, but if not, just to, just to make it absolutely clear, we are, we're using WordPress and we're using a variety of plugins and possibly themes as well to enable. To enable it such that you can have a multisite install of WordPress, set it up with kind of payment gateways and theme options and clients that you find can go to your page, inspect the kind of site that they want to purchase, pay then access their own installation of WordPress, modify it as they see fit, click save, and in effect, you've.
You've built them a website, but you haven't really interacted with them. And I suppose that's the key point you are, you're cutting yourself out of the, of, of the need to build it for them. They're able to do this by leveraging the tools that you've thrown into your words, your WordPress, multi-site.
Michael Short: [00:11:27] I would say yes, but that's in a perfect world.
And from experience, we've actually found something a little bit different than that. We do find that, if you have a setup. If you have a required set up as part of your process, that tends to have less churn at the end, like less people will cancel with you. in our own experience, we have our own lasts.
This is how it, we got into this in the first place. And what we've found is that, if, if we give them all the keys to the kingdom and expect them to build the site out themselves. They tend to not get around to it. They just get the like little overwhelmed, no matter how easy the page builders are, how easy we feel it is to go in there and make edits.
A customers, that's not their business. They don't, they're not web developers in the most part. I mean, obviously there's some companies that have marketing departments, but in general, the smaller companies just, just, you know, they're focused on what they do best. And so, I would, I would. Actually recommend.
I think, you know, when I stated that originally, like you can scale a hundred people without much involvement. That's the most ideal scenario. However, I don't know the, how practical that is because, people like to still have that interaction with somebody and they get them set up quickly. It's just an opportunity, I think for more than anything, it's an opportunity to get your foot in their door and to offer other services as well.
So there's like so many opportunities here with the website as a service. for example, you know, right now the majority of our customer base is probably going to be developers and agencies. However, I think in the future, once we get the tools dialed in, right, I think it can open the door up to just about any type of business that has a following.
Like if you are, like I came across a lady, for example, who is in the knitting. Industry and she teaches peep. She has a blog and has hundreds of thousands of followers following her on how to do knitting and stuff. And she has an audience. She's coming out with courses, all of these things. But I think having a in place for her to offer her, her audience would be a great thing for her to do.
And another another income source. So.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:13:22] Yeah, it kind of feels like the w we say niche in the UK. Really, we don't pronounce it niche song. I'm going to say niche. and I'll try to remember it that way, but if I go straight back into niche, apologies, it kinda feels like having, having a niche. Is is where this belongs somewhere.
So you mentioned knitting, but I suppose that the niche could be anything. You know, you might be into selling automobiles or you might be into cleaning products or whatever. But the thing is, is that the way this is going, we're not trying to offer some sort of generic website tool like Squarespace. It's available for everybody because I presume that just doesn't work, that the more, the more niche a niche you go,
Michael Short: [00:14:03] the better.
Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, everyone has their own strategies, but then what we'd definitely recommend is to pick a niche niche, or however you want to say it. Yeah. because you're, you can't really compete on the level of price when it comes to with Wix or go daddy. I mean, and be successful. I mean, you can compete, you can give it away for free, but you're not going to be successful with it.
So, you know, the things that we. We can actually bring to the table, like go daddy has his beef example on their customer support. There's 24, seven. I don't know many people that can offer that kind of support on a smaller scale. and so where we have them beat as being able to identify a specific niche and then cater to that niche and understand what their actual needs are and build out a product that they can easily pick up and get implemented quickly.
Whereas. Go daddy, they're going to have to go in there and I'm just picking on go daddy. There's so many other ones. but any one of those other platforms, you're going to have to go in there. Now they do have templates where various niches, however, I don't feel personally that they're going to be as dialed in as what one can do with their own West.
Like if you are specifically focusing on a niche or an audience, you can definitely add features, a feature set or a feature stack that will. Cater specifically to their needs. And I think when you identify with their needs or identify what their issues and show how you solve them, you're going to have much more success than trying to be everything to everyone because you ended up being nothing to everyone at that point.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:23] That's a good point. So using your products and what have you, you mentioned this lady who has knitting and what, have you got any examples of other niches that are being successfully used at the moment?
Michael Short: [00:15:35] Yeah, one of the most popular niches inside of our last group. It happens to be churches and it seems to be a lot of people are liking to target churches.
I don't, yeah, very interesting. I'm not a, not from that space. I'm not sure why, but that seems to be one that a lot of people, maybe they just feel like that's a good place for them to develop relationships and they feel close to, I don't know. I can come up with a lot of different scenarios of why that might be better
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:57] if it's because they need to update it every week.
You know, every, every song day, something new happens. Right? And you've got to keep the, keep the congregation, aware of what's going on. I don't know if that's, again,
Michael Short: [00:16:08] that's true. And that's a good point. And one of the things too is like, as you pick a niche, like you want to find a niche that does have to get on their site, act on regular basis.
I mean, there's a book called hook where it talks about building out feature sets in whatever product that you're trying to do to get them hooked on coming back. Just like, you know, something like Facebook. Does he get his hook and it becomes a habit. And then if they're in. If they have that habit, then they're less likely to cancel with you.
And ultimately the goal is to have little to no churn. So you just want to keep stacking on top of your, your client base.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:16:36] yeah. So, sorry, churches and
Michael Short: [00:16:38] NITSA. Yeah. Nadine is probably a very small one. ours, first example is in the auto care industry. when you pick a niche, one of the things we recommend is you pick it with whatever you have, experiencing.
And so we had a lot of customers in our agency that were. In the automotive space. And so this really helped us niche down, actually building out a West, because as an agency, you can, I mean, you know how to build a website is a website in theory, right? You can build, if you can build a website for a church, you can probably build it for a car store down the street or whatever.
Like it's just, it is what it is now with, with a wax, like, it makes you really think about that specific niche that you're targeting and then also niching down. I mean, it has a lot of benefits to it. I mean, you. You know how to target who your target audience is so that you're not spinning your wheels going after and knocking on everybody's door.
You're knocking only on the doors that are most likely to buy your product, your service.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:31] Yeah, that's a good point. And obviously the, the, the, the materials that you create and the, the way you present yourself will be very much more aligned to what those people want to hear. And you'll adopt the correct language and the correct terminology and acronyms over the, over the, over the period of time that you're doing it.
Yeah. Really good point. I mean, obviously everybody that's listening to this. Some way, shape, or form has got experience with WordPress. So let, let's, let's go a little bit more technical for a moment. What, what are the, what are the tools that we are deploying apart from WordPress, with multi-site, let's say, switched on, for want of a better way of describing it.
One of the, one of the recommended tools that you're using and recommending outside of the ones that you make.
Michael Short: [00:18:12] Yeah, of course. I was actually gonna make a suggestion on the first one that you should get is WP Ultimo. Okay. and that one basically allows you to set up plan subscriptions, all that stuff, that templates and stuff like that within your multisite environment.
And so it does all of the management for you. and then from there you can start adding on features and stuff to just make that experience better. And that's where we come in. And many of our plugins, if not all of our plugins, actually integrate with WP Altima. That's kind of the core thing. Now, there was a plugin by WP M U dev that they've recently abandoned this year as well.
It's called ProSites. they, they, if you guys are not familiar with Adobe and new dev, they were the pioneers in this space and they really set . Got it going there. Focuses less on it, even though, you know, I talked to the guys over the weekend about the color last camp. That's what we're at workout. And and so they still do it, but it's not their focus like it once was.
so anyway, yeah, I would, I would say that the best tool you need to get right out the gate is going to be done with the Altima.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:19:13] We've had a, we've had a Reno on a couple of times. who's the developer? I just found out that he's moved to Spain just the other day. Yeah. That's interesting. Anyway, a complete aside.
So, so that takes care of the, sort of the nuts and the bolts of, offering subscriptions, setting up all the templates, and basically it does all of the, the stuff that you will need. and then maybe is that where your, your stuff steps in.
Michael Short: [00:19:36] Yeah, so as we were building out our own West, we started where we very first started actually was we want it to be able to have, in the process of signing up for a website, we wanted to create a way for our customers to be able to offer our customers order bumps, upsells, and down sells.
In that process. And so we found Thrivecart at that time. And we created our first plugin. we created our, obviously for our own specific needs, cause that's what we want it. And then we, that simultaneously we built out the, started building out the Facebook group and thought, you know, if we, if we have this need, then someone else might have that need.
And so it was a pretty good success. A lot of people were interested in, ended up getting it from us. And as we, realized that this was something that we could do. Like we can actually. Scratch our own edge and start building tools and plugins out of to, you know, fulfill our needs. the, the ball is snowball that just started going and now we have about 20 different plugins that you can, that, that helps in that facilitate that process.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:20:30] Yeah. You've been on a rapid click this clip this year. I mean 20 from, I mean, literally this time last year, maybe there was the thrive one, but that was the first one. And then you've built out 19 or so more. That's, that's impressive. That's really impressive.
Michael Short: [00:20:45] We're coming out with two more this week actually.
So, yeah, and we're actually, we're, we have a really big project where in the works on, I don't want to divulge too much of it, but I'm super excited about where the West. Is going, where we're taking it and what it means to just everybody. I think it's going to actually, in my opinion, it's going to change, revolutionize the way even agencies do, you know, manage their, their customers with their websites.
So it's good.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:21:10] So people, people listening to this or who have, let's say you've got experience with WP Ultimo and you realize what multisite can do and, and so on. Yeah. W what, what is it specifically that you, that you are providing on top of what WP ultimate can do it? Now I know that, that you've got these 20 different things, but just to, just to give an idea of it, it feels almost like it's a plugin architecture within a plugin architecture, if you know what I mean.
You've got the WordPress plugin ecosystem, and then you've kind of built a Wes plugin. Ecosystem almost way you, you take presumably headaches that came up as you, as you would play more and more with Watson and then tried to solve them. What are some of the, the ones that you've got that are most popular, that are most interesting for us to talk about that are easiest to explain?
Michael Short: [00:21:55] Yeah. Let me tell you about the basic ones at first, what aren't, what we were trying to solve. so the issue we were trying to solve first was that. We found that when customers that are not web developers, they're just doing their thing and whatever business they're in, they get to, to WordPress. And there's three different areas that they can make changes to their website.
And I think that's a bit confusing for them. They have the customizer, they have the dashboard, and they had the front end page editor. And so if someone that doesn't know anything about websites. Says, I want to change my logo. You know, how would they know to go to the customizer to do that? They see it on the front end of their website.
Why can't they just click on there and change their logo out? And so, so those are some of the things that we saw was an issue. So what we tried to do is bring the three of them into the dashboard. So we took the, the items from the customizer and worked integrated with multiple themes and brought there.
Basically the features that they have inside the customizer and brought him to the dashboard and the plugin we call site settings pro. And we also added a couple of other features inside of that that you would expect in insight settings like such as your company name, social accounts. I don't know.
Google. Open graph stuff, things like that, that you would expect to be able to fill out inside of a settings area. And then we provide a short code that you would put on your templates, and when they fill that information out, it automatically populates their website. So that was one of the things that we took care of.
Then also on the front end side, we, the front end editor, we tried to bring that into the dashboard, which I can honestly say it wasn't as successful as I, my original idea was. Just in the nature, not necessarily that people didn't buy it, but just in how it function. But we did end up finding, so we, we create a plugin called content editor pro.
The concept was you're going to be able to add all your content within inside the dashboard itself and not have to use the page editor. Since it wasn't very, it wasn't a visual editor, it's just not something that people would find interest in working in, but it does serve another purpose. And that is that you can actually.
If you use content editor pro, you can switch templates without losing your custom content that you created on your site. So if your customer got a template, they started modifying it, putting pictures, attacks, all that kind of stuff in there, their own. And then they say, you know what, I like this template a year down the road.
I want to change it out. Well, they would have to like copy that stuff over into a word doc or something and then change the template because typically what happens is you'll, your new site, when you switch templates will take on all the content from the original, from the template itself, and then overwrite anything you had.
Continental or pro actually eliminates that. So, so yeah, those are the core ones. And then, you know, if you want to talk about interesting ones outside of that, we created a, an integration with West. With, I'm sorry, with West, with the Groundhog, we call it last credits pro for Groundhog. And the concept there was that if you're using Groundhog, if you're not familiar with that as a CRM WordPress plugin, that allows you to basically create your own active campaign type thing, or MailChimp within your WordPress and star, inside of a West.
One of the. Troubling things. Are there things that, you know, the issues that we came up with with using Groundhog was that if you have credits and you allow your customers to access these credits, to send out emails, to send out, text messages, those sort of things. any one customer, there was no way to manage how many, how many crates, any one customer wouldn't be able to use.
And so any one customer can go through all your, like go through your funds quickly. And so we've managed to create a, a system that actually allows you to manage the amount of credits based off the WP ultimate plans. So if you want to offer X amount of credits in plan a andX amount of credits more and B and so forth, you could do that with that plugin.
So it's a pretty cool plugin.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:20] Yeah. I suppose the, I suppose the thing to really consider here is that you are, you're trying to, trying to create a solution whereby inexperienced users, people who are not really that familiar with WordPress, have a, have a sort of seamless experience whereby they're not necessarily having to phone you up all the time and say, how do I do this?
How do I do that? How do I do the other thing? because that is. Presumably the audience, the audience is not experienced WordPress's it's about you as the WordPress professional. Setting this stuff up, making sure that it's as watertight as possible, and then letting your clients go on it. And the more that you can automate it and make it straightforward, the better it will be for your business.
Michael Short: [00:26:00] absolutely. Yeah. For example, let me take, for example, another plugin and we have is called guided tours pro. When they sign up, they go through a guided tour just like you would see on many SAS products, and so we get a lot of our ideas from the Sask community or the SAS PR related products, because you know they have it right.
They dialed it in. We create a one call, reduce churn. Like if someone goes to cancel instead of just saying by, you know, like saying nothing to them, we actually send them through a feedback loop of asking them, how can we have been served? You better. What can we do to improve our services? And so at least if nothing, if you can't save that relationship, at least you can get some feedback to improve your.
Your services. So there's like, we really want to help make this entire platform network system, function the best it possibly can. And that's why we're, we're creating the tools that make that possible.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:26:46] Is the, is the intention to, to hide WordPress altogether? In other words. Are you, is the ambition to just literally obliterate all reference to it or do you, are there options to, to keep the WordPress, I don't know who the, the WordPress admin UI or the WordPress logo hovering there in the top left hand corner of the, of the admin area or do you, do you just switch all that stuff off?
Michael Short: [00:27:09] You know, everyone has their own preferences. I definitely, the majority of our plugins now, if you actually go to our site, are related to rebranding. They're different different plugins and stuff within. In fact, the two that I mentioned we're going to come out with are two new rebranding plugins, one for, fluent forums and the other one for their other plugin called jet.
And I'm sorry, jet Ninja tables. And so the idea though is that when you go to Wix or you go to Squarespace, you're not seeing. A form builder made by somebody else. You're not seeing, I'm an admin for a different solution. Like you're seeing a nice one single unified, consistent branding across their entire network.
And so I feel that that's important. When you create a such a system like you, it's not because you're trying to hide the tools that you know, help make your your system great. It's because you just want to give your customers nothing. You don't want to distract them basically from. You know what they need to do, which is just work on their website.
Like what is a, like we have a rebrand for a million for examples, and they don't need to know what Emilia is. They don't need to like try to figure that one out. They just go and do what they need to do with that to them and move on. So
Nathan Wrigley: [00:28:15] I was going to ask, because you've got these dependencies for all these plugins, so you mentioned Amelia, you mentioned, fluent farms and so on and so forth.
Obviously you're to some extent then if you are. If the, the branding of those things has been removed, you are dependent upon those, those plugin authors, playing by the rules, if you like, and not suddenly up, not overnight, updating their plugins such that suddenly what was hidden is no longer hidden.
and you've gotta chase your tail. Figure out how to, you know, whatever class they've changed or whatever thing that you've done to, to, to modify it, if you have experience with that or problems with that in the past, things just not working out as as anticipated and the client saying, hang on a minute.
What's this? I don't recognize this.
Michael Short: [00:28:56] Yeah. And you know, we have had some of that. It's not, it's not as prevalent as you might think. the one that we chase our tail the most on is probably going to be our rebranding for Elementor. They, they tend to change a lot of things often, which is good. I, I support that.
I think that's a great thing that we use elementary. We love it. Now, I mentioned elementary, and I know we're talking about Wes, and as of now of this recording, they, in their terms and conditions, they don't allow for the ability to use their. Pro plugin inside of a DIY multisite environment. Now you can use it in multisite.
You just can't use it in something where you don't have some sort of manual process involved or like, you know, being able to set a process, I should say. So. Just want to make that known. we did talk to the guys there over the weekend at WordCamp, and it sounds like they just have a misunderstanding of what West is all about.
They were thinking maybe we're handing off a plug in details and letting customers just take it and run with it. And that's not the case at all. So hopefully now that they're a little bit more informed, they might get reconsider and we can. Honestly say that element juror can come into the space. Okay.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:01] That's interesting. There's other options, I presume, you know, Beaver builder,
Michael Short: [00:30:05] oxygen or whatever it
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:06] might be.
Michael Short: [00:30:06] Yeah. Breezy even has their own lasts, plan. So I, yeah, so there's definitely other options, but I just say that, cause you asked about the, the rebranding, that's the only one we rebrand that we chase our tail on.
So I just want to bring that up.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:18] with the, with the sort of, the, the way that everything looks. you've got all these sort of different options and what have you, should we just sort of go through them? maybe not all of them, one at a time, but it kind of feels to me like you've got, you've done so much work.
It would be a shame to only mentioned two or three of them. So do you want to sort of pick a few more that you're proud of and that you think would be significant.
Michael Short: [00:30:38] Yeah. So there's a couple of that. I'm proud of all of them. Not that the same, but there's a couple that really stand out to me. And that first one is going to be admin, UI pro.
We have two versions of it. Basically it just re re lets you rebrand the entire admin experience, to your brand. So it's, it's pretty awesome. There's a lot of features in there. You can change things out in the navigation, the order you can add. Headlines. I mean, there's so many cool things you can do, even at a space where you can put an image, you can take that area out.
I mean, it's really, you can literally make it either one of those plugins. You can make it have a, the dark mode look, I mean, you can change every single aspect of your admin look. So it's really cool. One, another one, our series set of ones that I'm really proud of and enjoy, is the live editor pros.
Those are, those actually work. We created those mainly because. We wanted to work with that content editor pro that I told you about, where basically the front end editor needs to be super simple to use. and then that makes those, whatever changes you make inside of live editor gets automatically input it into our content editor pro so that they can make changes to their templates without losing their content.
So it gives them a very visual, easy to. Change, plugin, much like the Wallace in line, I'll give him credit. We got the idea from that plug in itself, and then we created one for elementary. We created one for oxygen and we ended up having to create one for Beaver. And I don't really advertise this one.
We say, I give, I give Bradley, you know, drops in. I don't, I don't want to step on toes and stuff. But we had a created just because of the content editor pro situation and we wanted to make sure, you know, we had to have some sort of control over that. So yeah, that's, that's what we've created. What I'm really excited about those ones, a lot of people.
Tend to love that and see what else we owe. Licensed activator pro, one of the challenges with multi-site is that there's some plugins and themes out there that require you to. Enter the licenses individually on each new sub site. And so license activator pro solves that issue for any plugins that have been brought to our attention, we make sure we get that integrated in there.
So if you're listening to this and you've found, and you're using multisite and you think of a plugin, let us know and we'll add that in there as well. We're constantly. Updating, not only are we constantly making more plugins, but we're doing a lot behind the scenes. I'm making sure things still stay. We stay on top of that and integrations continue to get made and things like that.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:32:53] Yeah. I suppose one of those, one of the, one of the questions that somebody would want to know before they committed to let you know, let's say, the, the West pro community and the West pro net network. Product is that your setup is sustainable and that it's profitable and you know that they get two years down the line and, and all of a sudden your plugins stop working.
How, forgive me, I hate asking questions like that, but, you know, easy. Is it a business that is, is receiving growth and, you know, it's, it's profitable and you're here for the long haul.
Michael Short: [00:33:24] Absolutely. We are definitely here for the long haul. It's definitely growing. And I think as I mentioned to you prior to jump in and make going live, you know, this, this year, 2020 is really going to be all about awareness, creating more awareness around the West.
So even as of now, to answer your question, yes, it's successful, it's sustainable. It's going to be, it's a great thing. but I think it's going to be so much bit bigger and better. It coming in 2020, 20, 21 I think is just helping, doing more things like this and getting on podcasts and whatnot, and just creating awareness and letting people know that this is even possible.
I don't know that many people are even aware that they can create such a system that they can help scale their business. You know, quickly. I know there's things like out there on, various hosts. Where you can duplicate sites and things like that. And that's, that's a good, efficient process. But I think this takes it to the next level.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:11] Yeah. Do you, are there any sort of limitations to this? And what I mean by that is, if you, if you, let's say that you've taken the approach that each site needs to be fairly unique and you'd like to build them all out one at a time, and, and you know, somebody comes along and you think, you think to yourself, okay, they're, maybe they're better on my, yeah.
The West product cause they've got a smaller budget and so on and so forth. Can can you decouple it from the West and turn it into a irregular install of WordPress so that you've got the ultimate ability? Would there be ever any need to do it that way or can, can this all be done within the, you know, the multisite setup.
Michael Short: [00:34:46] Well, there's two. There's two ways to answer that. So yes, there is a way to pull a site outside of a multisite network. but I think what's even more important to talk about is the, the fact that, you're building a system like Wix or Squarespace, you're, they're never pulling anything out of there.
They're renting that space. So my suggestion would be that you don't make that possible. In fact. With our rebranding plugins, we try to hide the fact that it's WordPress. It's kind of a double edged sword to that cause obviously when people know it's WordPress, it's something that they're familiar with.
They notice this is a sustainable platform. And, and that, you know, they, they have a lot of options. But then at the same time, that's also a negative because now that if they're that familiar with WordPress, they know they have a lot of options or should have a lot of options. And you really don't want to be stacking your, your, with a bunch of plugins that are not.
That are not useful for your entire network of audience or customers. So you know, when someone finds out it's a WordPress, like, well, then that means, you know, can I use this plug in? I found that I heard about this other plug in. Can I add it to my site? And the short answer should be no, because. Yeah. So,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:48] yeah.
That's interesting. So you lock it down, you just make that your business model. Say what you get is what you get. You know, you can't go to a, you can't go to Squarespace and say, but I want it to do this. Well, it doesn't, don't do that. And I'm sorry. okay. Yeah, that's fair enough. Are there any kind of dependencies that, that you need to be thinking about before you launch into this?
So obviously we mentioned that WP Ultimo, ma is like the bedrock of it. You've got to get that. So you need to, you need to acquire a copy of that. Beyond that, anything else.
Michael Short: [00:36:17] No, I think everything else is optional, right? All of our plugins are optional. yeah, I would say Devon ultimate was the only real thing that you have to have in order to, to build it out the way you should build it out.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:36:28] and I remember one of the things, cause I played with this a little while ago, and one of the things that was difficult back in. Well, probably November, 2018 was the whole service set up. That was a bit of a, that was fraught with difficulty, largely because of the, the idea of getting SSL certificates to sort of populate themselves automatically and all of that.
have those challenges been overcome? Are there certain, are there certain hosting companies who play nice with this setup? Or can anybody now go to any kind of hosting and it'll just work.
Michael Short: [00:36:59] I wouldn't say you can go to any kind of hosting. However, I can say that there has been several, hosting companies that have adopted this.
I can speak to class was one of the first ones. Then, great pain got on board. I know cloud weighs is actually working on it now. I was talking to them. They're really anxious to get that ability, I think. I think everyone has seen the writing on the wall that this is. Maybe it's not there yet, but this is going to be the future of digital marketing and for agencies that have managed websites for part of their services.
so there's a lot that want to get involved. So I would say, yeah, there you can't go to just anybody. But there are several that are. Directly connected with dopey. Ultimately there's like hooks and stuff that they have to connect with Arendo to get set up to make sure that they plays well with their hosting.
So not anyone can just go and do it, and you actually have to have a tie in with the plug in itself. So I run those constantly, adding new ones, new hosts to that. So is,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:37:52] yep. So, okay, so be a little bit circumspect as you approach this, think carefully about it. Go and read some documentation around the WPL to plugin.
just to check that your hosting environment works, because I mean, it'll, it'll work on any hosting environment, but the SSL certificate and the . The population of that can be slightly more difficult. So go check that out. You were mentioning on the, on the, before we start press record, you were mentioning that one of the things that you want to achieve in the coming year is just awareness that Wes is a thing.
it felt like that was going to be organic, but now it perhaps needs a bit of a push. And you were talking about the fact that you're going to spend quite a lot of the next year putting documentation together and, Courses and so on. Do you want to try to leap into that and tell us what you're doing to make it so that this is easier than it would have been this time last year?
Michael Short: [00:38:40] Absolutely. So one of the biggest challenges that we found inside the group that I've found is that people will get in the group and they get aware of the entire concept and the business model. And then they'll say, okay, I know I need WP Ultimo nine. I see that I could use your plugins. but where do I start?
How do I start? You know? And so. Instead of turning them away are, it seemed to me that they, we needed to provide them with some sort of training. And so we're actually on black Friday going to be launching our last camp was what we're calling it in camp with standing for courses and membership plugins.
And basically we're going to walk them, walk you through the three different areas that we feel are most important in creating a lesson. The first step is being, is planning. And so we have plans. So basically picking your niche, how do you pick a niche. you know, all the, you know, all the things that you need to consider, like how you pick a host and that kind of stuff that we just talked about.
And then the second one is going to be publishing what are actually taking the tools and putting it together and showing you how to actually do it. So you can see step by step, by the time you're done with our training, you'll be able to have an active working Wes. And then lastly is just as important as building it, you need to be able to promote it.
And so just the three piece published plan. Planned, publish and promote. And so how do you get your last out into the marketplace so that you're successful? And we've talked cover all of that and we have a bunch of bonuses in there and we have a lot of things going on. And also we have inside a West camp, we'll have the, all of our plugins, like a deep dive into each of our plugins to put it out in the public space didn't make a lot of sense because just people that are not using our plugins wouldn't necessarily want to watch those kinds of videos.
But, In Santo West camp, you'll be able to know exactly how to use every one of our plugins, not just what they're supposed to do, but exactly how to implement them.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:17] And you say, you say that's going to be coming out on black Friday, we, this podcast, we'll probably hit the hit the public button after black Friday, but that's okay.
It's not okay. The, the principle though is the same. Is it a a one time thing or are you going to be, is that a subscription service so that you keep up to date with everything
Michael Short: [00:40:32] or. Yeah, so it's going to be one point. Oh, so it will be kind of, I don't know if you know of, I'm sure you probably have heard them, maybe Jeff Walker from product launch formula, so it'll probably be similar to his business model in terms of how he comes out with new.
New training once every other, you know, several years or whatever, it'll be the same thing. So you'll continue to get the ad-ons until it's completely refreshed and revamped, and then we'll have a small fee to get you into the next version. But yeah, you'll have access to it, lifetime access to it. But as far as keeping updated y'all, there'll be, it's like a small fee.
Nothing big.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:41:08] Okay. Thanks. One of the, one of the things that I'd be interested in is putting a dollar amount of an absolute bare minimum dollar amount on what, what would it cost for me to set up a, a Wes with, with very few bells and whistles. And then we can talk about your individual plugins and what your pricing is and so on.
But. What, what would be the, the annual cost split over 12. So, so let's say a monthly cost for, having a West on running. So I think, I think probably I'm talking, WP Ultimo licensed copy, hosting. and, and probably that's it at the beginning.
Michael Short: [00:41:42] Yeah, I'm looking at the ultimate pricing as of today.
Cause I, we did talk and he's looks to be changing his pricing model here shortly. so he's got a four 99 one time lifetime thing. I think that is actually going to go away. I'm like, I don't want to speak on his behalf, but I believe that's what he said. But then he's got a $250 one for a year, so. It ranges from $99 to $250, depending on what add ons you want to have, and then you're going to have your hosting.
so you can multi-site, you can host on pretty much anything, but obviously I think you need to be aware that you want to have some minimal. requirements, like you want to make sure that you have enough space on the server and that kind of thing for growth. So you don't want to just use like a shared server.
You want to make sure you have a dedicated service, certain things like that you want to take into account and just be smart about it. Inside of our training, we talk about all that kind of stuff. so as far as pricing, like we have a host, we partnered with great pain. We have something called host, and we charge 50 bucks a month for the hosting.
So that gives you an idea for, to have set up one last and then you can have a randos thing if you paid two 50 a year for his top plan. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:42:44] When it's like 70 bucks a year, 70 bucks a month, aren't you really? If you go with your hosting solution plus a window, roughly two $20 a month, something like that.
so you're in two digits. You're not creeping up into three digit. That's, you know, you don't have to, you know, have to take in too many subscriptions before it does more than breakeven. Yeah,
Michael Short: [00:43:05] absolutely. Absolutely.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:43:07] Yeah. That's really nice. So what about the pricing of your, Of actual ma, you know, your products, on the, on the home page of West pro, if you scroll down, I would say about halfway you'll see a whole bunch of tiles and there they are all listed and there's a sort of learn more button in each case, which takes you to give you more information about it.
But it might be nice to run through what your sort of pricing per purp per plugin is.
Michael Short: [00:43:33] Yeah. The majority of our, excuse me, the majority of our plugins are about $97 each. And, some of them are less. I mean, if they're branding just rebranding something, then that's going to be less. But, the core plugins are going to be $97 each.
Now what we've done is we realized that we don't want to keep our customers from beating. And with the access or plug ins, our goal is to put them all in your hands. And so we created a pro membership so that it's only $97 a month and you get access to over 20 of our premium plugins, or you get access to all of them with, which is over 20, at this point.
And so we just felt that that was a good way to get these all of our plugins into our customer's hands without them having to pick and choose which ones they think they might want. Because unless you have actual access to them, you really don't know what they can do for you until you start actually getting in there.
You're like, wow, this one I think. And even think about that problem and now you solved it, you know? And so I want to make sure that we get them in your hands. So
Nathan Wrigley: [00:44:25] cycle, what's the PR, the PR, the sort of the bundle where you got everything.
Michael Short: [00:44:30] Yeah, the bundle you get, everything is kind of the pro membership.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:44:32] Okay. And I can actually see that right at the bottom and beneath all the tiles. you've got the option to, to look at the pro membership, which is kind of like everything all rolled up and man alive. Like honestly, this time last year, it was one, maybe two things, but it just, it just to give you some sort of insight.
Yeah. So we've, we've mentioned like the admin UI where you can change the admin settings and so on and, and the settings wizard and the guided tours and what have you. But the site analytics, there's a stock library plugin. We mentioned the content editor plugin, but you can have that in a, in a Beaver builder or an elemental flavor, live editing for elemental Beaver and oxygen rebranding.
For elemental lifter LMS, if you want to throw that in as well. I can see that being really interesting. Emilia, which is a booking plugin. You mentioned the reduced churn and your licensed one. You've got the, Oh, the Groundhog WPL. Timo cart flows thrive. So cart flows is a way to, kind of incentivize people from not.
How to describe it. You know, it's your commerce. woo. WooCommerce plus, shall we say. And then thrive comp. Thrivecart is a, a S a SAS. E commerce. Yeah. Solution. So that's quite a lot in there.
Michael Short: [00:45:43] Yeah, yeah, quite a bit. And we have more common . It's exciting.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:45:46] It's really exciting. So maybe 20, 20, 2021 will be the year of West.
Do you want to, just before we close out, do you want to give us your, your, you know, your email address or your Twitter handle in case anybody's interest has been peaked so that they can get direct to you?
Michael Short: [00:46:00] Yeah, so the best way to reach us actually, so that you have access to me and my entire team would be on our Facebook page.
Also the group, but if you want to specifically reach out to us, if we go either to our website down the bottom right hand corner, you can reach out there that actually connects to our Facebook. I messenger and that's the best way to reach out to us. But if you want to email us, you can do that at MPO, at last pro.com.
and then our phone numbers on the website as well, somewhere probably down to bottom.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:46:25] Yeah. Thank you. So, yeah, Michael Short, hopefully the, the time is nigh for, you know, for Wes, in the year 20, 20. Good luck with that and I hope, I hope it proves to be profitable.
Michael Short: [00:46:37] Thank you. Thank you very much and thanks for having me.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:46:39] Thanks for listening to the WP Builds podcast. Again, that was a really interesting discussion. The idea of a websites as a service or was seems to be growing in popularity. You do plenty of work up front, set up the template, set up the stack of things like WP Ultimo and was pro plugins, and you've got a nice business, which hopefully should run itself to some extent.
Really interesting topic. Indeed. Don't forget, however, the WP Builds.com forward slash deals and you can get 20% off with the offer code on that. Page and WP Builds.com forward slash a win. If you're listening to this at some point in May, 2020 then you've got a chance of winning a one of five plugins that Michael is giving away from his was pro website.
Okay. Don't forget, we'll do another podcast next week. We'll be back on Monday for the weekly WordPress news. Two things on a Monday, I'll produce my auditory diatribe of the weekly WordPress news, and then at 2:00 PM UK time, we will have our weekly WordPress news live with some notable guests from the WordPress community.
You can find [email protected] forward slash live. Okay. Here comes some unbelievably cheesy music. Possibly the cheesiest this year, so far, have a nice week. .

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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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