Interview with James Rose
A saved is a penny earned, or so they say. But perhaps we could throw the net a little wider? What about… a minute saved is a penny / dollar earned? That sounds good.
There’s one person who I think of when I think about saving time, and that person is James Rose. That’s because I know that he’s spent a whole heap of time automating just about anything that he can get his hands on. If it is possible to save some time, I suspect that James has done it.
Now, perhaps you’re thinking, well if James has spent ages saving time, then that’s just an oxymoron. Well, he’s cleverer than that! He only spends time trying to save time, when he thinks that the benefits in the longer term will justify the time-cost in the short time. Very wise.
So he speaks about why you might want to get skilled in this area. What the real benefits are and what the pitfalls are. Clearly not everything shoudl be automated; if you try to do that, you might end up with systems and processes which are a little robotic, shall we say. We don’t want to become inauthentic. This is more about saving time on tasks that literally are just a time suck, ones in which there is literally zero benefit to you or your business from pouring that time down a drain.
Now, I could learn a lot from James in this regard. For reasons that I cannot explain, I never invest the time and imagine that it’s better to do things by hand… just this one-last-time! I’m sure you’ve been there, you could invest twenty minutes to automate a process that you hate, a process that you do each week, knowing that, a year from now this automation will have saved you ten hours. But I don’t! I just do it and then forget about it!
Well, it’s that you, James is here to put you straight. Automate the things you can and leave the things that don’t feel right.
The next thing to worry about is exactly how do you automate boring, repetitive tasks. James has a Zapier Mastery course which will help you along the way. He explains how the platform works and how you can get up and running in the shortest possible time.
His bullet list of course benefits runs as follows:
- Take the pressure off
- Scale your business
- Stay focused
- Reduce human error
- Feel like a wizard – I like this one best, because honestly some of this does seem like wizardry!
We also dip into another app that you might know James from, and that is Content Snare. The team have been busy updating it and giving the UI a new lick of paint and so we talk about that and how Content Snare can be used to make the process of getting content from your clients way easier.
So, go check out the podcast and leave a comment below or in the WP Builds Facebook Group.
Mentioned in this episode
Zapier Mastery – 50% off (as on 22.06.20)
Transcript (if available)
These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the WP podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Waumsley, Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. This is episode number 185. Entitled why you should automate all the things with James Rose. It was published on Thursday, the 25th of June, 2020. My name's Nathan Wrigley. And before we start, if I could just let you know about a few things, the usual housekeeping, if you like, please head over to WP Builds.com.
That is our website where we put pretty much all of our content, but there's a few links in particular I'd like to mention. So for example, WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe allows you to subscribe to, well, two things. The first one is a newsletter telling you when we produce content like this podcast.
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The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by AB split test. Do you want to set up your AB split test in record time? Like in a couple of minutes, use your existing pages and test anything against anything else. Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything. And the best part, it works with element or Beaver builder and the WordPress block editor.
Check it out and get a free demo at absplittest.com. Okie dokie. Right? Just one final thing before we get started on Tuesday from now on for the next few weeks, I'm going to be doing a mini podcast series. It's a live podcast series with Sabrina Zayden. Now we're sort of slightly oddly calling this.
WordPress plugin startup from zero to 10,000 installs, which is a slightly tongue in cheek way of saying things, because what we're doing is we're going from a well, we're going on a journey from no experience to hopefully a little bit of experience about how to launch a plugin. Sabrina has her speed guard plugin, and I'm helping Tom Carless promotes his AB split test plugin.
And so the idea is that we go through. Each week, a few things that we've learnt on the previous week's journey were a couple of episodes in now. And the feedback has been really good. We've had some people joining us on the live, giving us their experience and the benefits of their knowledge about plugin launches already.
And we've had people chipping in some good ideas. So just to say that that's going live. It's going to be on a Tuesday, 2:00 PM. UK time. You can find email@example.com forward slash live, but come and join us. It seems to be a really interesting little project that we're running at the moment. Okay. What about today's podcast though?
So we're on to episode number 185. I'm joined by James Rose. Now James has been on the podcast a couple of times before. And at the end of this podcast, we do touch on the product that he's mentioned on previous episodes. That is content snare. He talks about how that's been updated and what. So what's been going on over there, but the main thrust of this podcast is all about automating things and making it so that you don't have to spend time doing the boring jobs.
Now, James is a real expert in this area. And as you'll find out, he's got a course about how to do all the things, automate all the things with Zapier or Zapier, depending on how you pronounce it. And he talks about why you might want to do this, how you could do this when the situation isn't appropriate and so on.
So it's a really interesting conversation. I know of no other person. Who is more an expert than James is so it's well worth a listen. I hope you enjoy it. Hello there. Welcome to the WP belts podcast. Thanks for making it to the interview. Really appreciate you sticking around. I am joined today by James or Jimmy Rose.
It doesn't really matter. We just had the discussion. Oh yeah, James.
James Rose: [00:04:49] Nathan. It is brilliant to be here. I am doing good. How about you?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:53] Yeah. Good. Interestingly, we didn't talk about this your in Australia, right? And the time we're recording this Australia is massively in the news over here for, for the, the Bush fires that are going on.
Any, any chance that you're gonna have to sort of leg it at some point during this interview,
James Rose: [00:05:09] like at what they eat tends to report in the news is that like all of Australia has on file. I shouldn't, I shouldn't laugh at all, but, cause it's obviously devastating, but it's mostly down South of where we are.
Right. So, yeah, around Melbourne and Sydney are kind of coping it pretty badly. but up in Brisbane, most of the serious fires up here, I think that from my understanding of pretty much gone, and we just have a little bit of haze occasionally, but I heard today that the hate, the smoke from those fires had made it to Chile.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:42] Wow. Okay. Yeah. Well, good luck. If, if you're involved in that hope it works out for you. But when I had to talk about bushfires, we're actually here to talk about all sorts of things. largely we're going to be focusing on something, which I am so not qualified to talk about, which, which I guess is good, that James is here.
Cause he is, but to talk about automations and specifically automations based around Zapier. Now I want to say Zapier. But every time I hear somebody else say it, they say Zapier
James Rose: [00:06:09] and I have no idea saying it wrong. You've got that. Absolutely. Right. Zapier,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:06:15] is it because it's a zap, right. And you don't create a zip,
James Rose: [00:06:22] correct? It's absolutely spot on. yeah, I think, I mean, the way it's spelled it does look like Zabeel, I've even heard someone stays at BA once, which is. Yes.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:06:33] Yeah. Okay. So you're a, you're a heavy user of Zapier. You w we should say that you've got. Many irons in the fire. You've got quite a few things going on.
These are a successful SAS app, which you have called contents now, which we may very well get onto, but I don't know if you've actually used Zapier in conjunction with contents now, but you should probably go and check that out. See what Jim is all about. that's content, snare.com. but we're here to talk about Zapier.
So first thing's up. When we talk about automation, obviously the idea is that, you know, you want to achieve things without actually doing any amount of work at the time the work is done, but automation requires that you do a lot of work upfront. Is it first question? Is, is it always worth it? Are there situations where do you know what just do this manually song.
Don't bother wasting time creating a zap or an automation because there's just not enough traffic in this for you.
James Rose: [00:07:29] Yeah, absolutely. just one thing quickly with automation. It's. Like not generally, let me, so it's not specific to Zappia right. Like I li I try to automate things as much as I can. And you opened by saying you're like the least qualified person, whereas, you know, beforehand, you were telling me about an app called D script, which for podcasting is basically like a whole bunch of automation, right.
It, so you're clearly doing a lot of automation. it's just. A different type, you know, you're not specifically using Zappia like there are other are other ways to automate stuff and save time without specifically that that's just where I spend a lot of my time. but, but to answer your question, Yeah.
There's definitely times where I like over-engineer the hell out of things and spend a bunch of time creating some kind of automation and it never really pays back it's time. But for the most part, I kind of see it like, investing money, you know, like if you go and put a hundred bucks in an index fund or something, you expect to pay a little back, each time and whatever, I see it the same.
With time invested with automation. So it might take me an hour to set up some kind of automation that might only save me five minutes a week, which is kind of sounds like a waste, right? If you spend an hour doing something and say five minutes, but off to 12 weeks that that's breakeven, right? You've got your time back.
And then from then on. You say five minutes a week, which still doesn't save. Like, it sounded like much, but if you do this like 20 times, you know, that's starting to add up really quick. And I like, I did the maths in my account and I think it runs nine to 10,000 tasks per month. Tasks is a, Zappia word, but, you know, it's just like for an action, it's doing something right.
and if you were, if you say maybe 30 seconds per task, that adds up to about 75 hours or something.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:20] Whoa. Okay. Right. So
James Rose: [00:09:23] yeah. Yeah. So I mean, and you know, it's taken a long time to get there. you know, you don't just magically start saving 70 hours or whatever. on the first week you're using it, but I've been using it for a few years now and yeah.
The side benefit of all these things adding up, like, sorry, the time saved adds up, but then the side benefit is that you get better at making the automations as well. So it doesn't take you an hour anymore. It takes you 10 minutes to write the same thing.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:49] Yeah. And I think this is the problem. This is where I fall off the radar.
Absolutely. Every time is in the process of setting them up, but something happens and I think I could automate this. So I go into Zapier because I. I realized that the app that I'm using has Zapier connection and therefore it should be easy. And I get partway through setting up the automation and then something happens, you know, I don't know the, the child outside falls down and grazes their knee and I never finish it.
And that, that is, that is my problem. I have, I have no experience in the platform. I've got no history of working with it. And so that. That cliff edge, where, you know, you get to the top and you you're actually experienced enough to do things in a 10th of the time. I just, haven't got to that point yet. so I'm hoping that you're going to kind of justify it, but that that's incredible.
I have to ask right before things like Zapier came along, do you, did you. Demonstrate kind of these habits. Did you always try to do these kinds of things, like time saving, labor, saving things? I don't know, like to do lists and things stapled onto the walls of your house to demonstrate how to do things more quickly.
My brother is exactly like you in that he automates absolutely everything. And I can see that. Throughout his life. He just wants everything to be efficient and he can't stand inefficiency. You know, he'll sort of take over the cooking regardless of whether you want him to, because he knows of a quicker way of achieving the same outcome.
Is that you?
James Rose: [00:11:14] yeah, to an extent, well, I don't remember when they started, but you'll love this. the fact that my previous job. You know, when I still worked for the man, quote unquote, was an automation engineer. Like this is literally everything that I've done. Like when I, I, I remember being at school and talking to the counselor and being like, I like, electrical stuff.
I like mechanical and I. Do I know what I want to do. And they were like, do you know, there's this middle ground cold, mechatronics engineering. And that basically led into a control systems, automation, Korea. So I kind of joke that using Zapier and these other automation tools is my, fix because I don't get to automate big machinery anymore.
Now it's just like pushing data around the internet, but, it's kind of the way. I get my little fix and get my kick, you know, when I fire up zap and it works and I can see it, you see everything sort of happening, without me. And like that gives, gets me super excited, which is kind of weird. I know, but I think a lot of developers can relate to that too.
You know, like if you were writing some code and like, I don't know. I mean, I've done some little happy dances around the office when I've like fixed something or written some code and it works. I dunno if you're the same.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:25] Yeah. Yeah, I totally get it. I just wondered if there was something in the, the sort of personality type, because I clearly, there's a, there's a disconnect between, you know, you actually push through and get it done and an ice somehow fall off, fall off the radar.
Okay. So why. Why have you chosen Zapier, as the, the primary method through which you do this? Is it just because like, okay, so let's take a step back. I know of three platforms which purport to do things ultimations online and connect various PSAs ups and so on. Are the ones that I know of are, I don't even know how to say this.
James Rose: [00:13:05] that one I have TTT. Yeah. That's it. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:13:09] So I F TTT, is the, is the acronym. And there's also another one, which is like my more visual based tool, which is called Integra mat. And then of course the Zapier, which is like the, I think the giant, of all three of those. Is there any particular reason to choose one over the other?
Do you believe that one has a better interface than the other? Or just, is it just because it was happier came along, you liked it and you've stuck with it. Well,
James Rose: [00:13:33] actually use all three different things. There are actually other tools as well, that I have kind of had a quick look at, but those three you mentioned are the only three that I'm actively using.
so. I have TTT is more for home automation, internet of things, kind of stuff, right? Like, and you can, you can see that pretty quickly by going through their list of apps and things they support. And there's like fridges and stuff in there. like very internet of things, type stuff, more personal. there are business apps in there, like, Trello and Google drive, and then there are a lot of stuff you can do for your business.
but it's kind of limited, right? So if this, then that is very simple. It's that, that it's in the name. It's if this, then that, if one thing happens, do this one thing and that's kind of the end, right. Whereas with Zappia you build MultiSteps ups. Where you can say, if this happens, then do this and this and this.
And if these conditions are true, also do this. Okay. You know, like you can build multi-step zaps, and with conditions in there as well. So that's a pretty big improvement. that's only on the pay plans. Integra, Matt takes that next level. and so. And funnily enough, as you step up through these different tools, the complexity also increases offline.
Earlier. You said you used Integra mat and you were just like, Holy, like, I don't know what's going on
Nathan Wrigley: [00:14:57] Right. It's pretty, it's pretty intense user interface with lots of circles connected with arrows. And
James Rose: [00:15:03] that's the easy bit. Once you start digging into the, like, behind each one of those circles, their interface becomes pretty awful.
Like it's clearly one of these, like. Built by developers for developers thing, even though they are saying it's a no code platform, you kind of have to be a developer to understand what's going on. And they've got like, iterators like we can iterate over different things that you pull out of previous steps.
And I'm like all these special objects and very code, like develop the building of automations in there. but it is. A lot more capable than Zapier in, in like the automation itself. What makes Zappia shine is the fact that it's so like, cause they been doing this for so long. They have a massive ecosystem of apps.
It's much bigger than all the other tools, right? Like, I think what they've done to win that is actually kind of, at some point they required people to build their own integrations. So like WWE content snare doesn't have a Zapier integration yet, but when it does, we will have to build that Zapier aren't going out and building the integration and they've got that economy of whatever you call it.
Like they've hit that. Tipping point, critical mass, whatever, you know, where they can ask people to build their own integrations. So now they just haven't ton of apps that can be integrated with the other versions. Just don't really have that same. Flexibility.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:16:28] Yeah, I confess, I mean, it's, it's a long time since I acquired, even, even a new startup app where there wasn't some sort of whiff of Zapier in the UI, you know, in the admin area of whatever it was.
it just seems that that's the default because that's where everybody is and I suppose weld onto them. So, yeah, that's an interesting point. The, the amount of things in there, do you know, as of the writing of this, is there, is there sort of like a, Like a number of apps in there. I'm guessing it's kind of approaching the thousands.
If nothing else, it must be.
James Rose: [00:16:59] It must be well over a thousand.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:01] Okay. So pretty immediate. I actually
James Rose: [00:17:03] don't know, but it says on their website more than 1500 apps.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:08] Yeah. and essentially anything that you've bought from, you know, an enterprise level solution I'm guessing will tie into Zappia. So anything, excuse me.
Anything from Google? Anything from, well, just about anybody, the, the question I have is. When I go into Zapier and I begin looking at my automations, as I said, I somehow can't push through. and it's, it's largely, I think, to do with the fact that I'm really unclear about what it is that I'm trying to achieve.
So what in your, in your experience are good ways to begin, you know, what would be a good. Baby steps, automation to set up. Let's say, in my case, I'm building websites for somebody. Can you think of really interesting time-saving ways that I could just start working through automations with Zapier?
James Rose: [00:17:58] Yeah. So unfortunately, interesting ways tends not to be the easy ways to get started. Like generally, basically you want to start with simple stuff. and you also kind of, there's a, I dunno, like a catch 22, like you said, you're approaching these. Without, really knowing what you want to do. And that's kind of critical.
You have to attack this, like with an idea of what you want to do, but at the same time, you don't know what's possible unless you've actually dug in and played with it before. So that is kind of a problem. but. I think it's good to just dig in there and attack some simple stuff. First, you know, the classic example is when someone fills out your contact form, add them to your CRM or your email system, right.
You know, that's the very bog standard integration that most people have, but a lot of people will have Zapier can, and that's like, they're own these app that they've got set up. you know, and that's like the first example I go through in my course as well. But like, then you can build on that and, you know, you could have some like a radio select in that form that.
Selectable services they're interested in, you know, like could be web design or ads, and then you can start building in conditions. Like if they selected, sorry, when I fill out the form, add them to your CRM. And if they selected website, web design, do something else. You know, I don't know that that's like send an email to a certain person on your team or something.
Right. So that, you know, you can build on these things, but the place I always tell people to go to start learning is literally the Zappia website. Right? So, if you go to zapier.com, there's a couple of tabs across the top. one being apps and the other is explore and apps. You can literally just search for, apps you're already using.
You know, like you, you can put in WordPress or you can put in, like if using a podcast app or Calendly, you know, you can type in Calendly or Google sheets and just all these different things that you're using. And scroll. If you go all the way to the bottom of a page, the page, for each app, there's a section describing the triggers and actions that, that.
App supports a trigger being like the thing that flies off an automation. So for example, you could say when someone books, my Calendly link, that would be a trigger, add them to a spreadsheet like out of row in a spreadsheet, that would be an action. And so you can actually just have a look through all the triggers and actions that your app that you're already using.
And you can see what's possible, you know, you can start building up a bit of an idea of like, Oh, I could, you know, when this happens in this app, I could add it over here. You know, like it's kind of hard without a specific example, but, You actually just building up this repertoire of knowledge. That is what enables you, I think, to go dig in later and actually create something a one step further than that is the explore tab in Zappia.
And this is probably a bit, maybe even easier when you first getting started, it enables you to select. Multiple apps on one screen. So you could get in there and like tick, Calendly, tick active campaign. If you're using that via emails and then like trailer, and it will actually just give you a bunch of recipes for really simple apps.
like I'm just looking at one now and it's just like create Trello cards from new rows on Google sheets. Like, I don't know if that's necessarily helpful for me, but you can just look through this like giant list of ideas that they give you and it kinda tells you what kind of stuff you can do, right?
Yeah. That's I think is critical because if you don't know what's possible, then it's kind of hard to know where to start. Right?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:21:43] Yeah. And so presumably the knowledge that you acquire from that is okay. I can now do something every time a Google sheet gets a new line and of course you're not therefore limited to Calendly or you're not there for limited to Trello or whatever it might be.
You just now have the knowledge that, okay, Google sheets, new line, I can do something. And now I've got to go and find out. What those triggers could be and match the two up to a, to C. So do you, do you sort of take the approach that you do that quite a lot? You know, when you buy a piece of new software and you notice it's got SAP, or do you, is that one of the things that you do sort of go straight in and figure out, okay, what are all the actions that I could perform with this new thing?
What are all the triggers that could be, could be achieved and so on? And indeed, do you not purchase SAS apps because they don't have what you need.
James Rose: [00:22:27] it depends. It depends how much, the app is like critical and like how much it actually needs to be integrated with things like not everything needs to plug in.
yeah, I often will because there are some apps that are kind of built poli, like you might. Think you're going to use an app to automate some thing and get in there and realize that it doesn't send the right data through, on a trigger and you can't actually do what you want to do. So there is a lot of times I will go and check that out while I'm on a trial.
But yeah, I mean, that is definitely a big concern for me, especially because like a, some apps have been in there for a long time and as their apps improve. Like they might add a new feature that hasn't actually found its way through to the Zapier integration yet. So just cause it has, is up your integration doesn't necessarily mean that it does everything that you want.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:23:15] Yeah. okay. So that's an interesting place to start though. Simply look, at those explore, options on the Zapier homepage and see, see the kinds of things that are possible and then maybe just play with the recipes. It was interesting. To see what this sort of economic barrier to this is. You mentioned that you typically fire off about 10,000 of these tasks.
So I presume that a trigger and an action combined together make a task. Is that right? So as an example, right? Yep. So just, just to take that a little bit further, let's say for example, that I do add a line to a Google doc, but instead of it going off and creating a Trello card, it creates a Trello card and add something to active campaign.
And it does something else. Is that still one task or three? Okay. So
James Rose: [00:24:01] it's per action, essentially or per condition that passes. So like, if you were to have a thing that said, if someone books, and their name is Bob. then add them to a spreadsheet. If someone named Sarah books, then the cost of no tasks at
Nathan Wrigley: [00:24:18] all.
James Rose: [00:24:19] so, so it's only for an action happens or a filter, which is what they call conditions pauses. I remembered, just briefly what I was going to say before, too, like once you have built, once you've built up this knowledge of what's possible, you know, you're talking about. the trigger of like adding a new row in a spreadsheet.
the fact that I know you can trigger based on that has allowed me to do different things before, right? Like, when people sign into our Facebook group or apply to a Facebook group, they put in some information and I have a script that can dump that information into a CSV file. And so immediately, because I've used Zapier, I can see that, with that.
Like, all I have to do is dump that CSV into a Google sheet and set up a Zapier to trigger based on all that daughter and not, and put them into my CRM or whatever does. I know it probably didn't describe that very well, but does that make sense?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:10] Yeah. Yeah. I totally get it. It raises all sorts of interesting questions about GDPR and stuff, which we'll get onto a little bit later, but yeah, that makes total sense.
But getting back to the point I was making prior to that, your 10,000. Zaps or tasks I should say, per month. What roughly speaking, what does that, what does that cost you?
James Rose: [00:25:30] I'm on a prorated plan. it was prorated grandfathered plan. So I got in a long time ago. I think I'm paying about 50 and the same plan now is around 120 I think.
Okay. just, just to quickly call, so I don't sound like a total a-hole. we put them into our CRM once. Like they actually set permission when they're entering the Facebook group. So I'm not like breaking GDPR stuff here, like they explicitly asked.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:57] No, but it's interesting. And we'll return to that point just because I presume you could.
should you wish to not, honor things like GDPR and you could kind of abuse this as anyone. What we'll come to that a little bit later. So yeah, roughly speaking, if I signed up in this, this, you know, the, the current pricing model that they've got, if I was to perform 10,000 tasks a month, I'll be looking at about a plan of about $120, something like that, which seems entirely fair.
The other ones, are they free? Like if this, then that and integrity, do they have a pricing plan or is it just free?
James Rose: [00:26:29] So they all have a free plan, right? So you can get started on all of them for free if, if this and that is actually free completely, but it's quite limited. Integra mats free plan is much less limited than Zappia like, you can do a lot more.
Just so, you know, though, like it, you're not going to go to 120 bucks immediately. Right. You're going to start on one of the smaller plans. yeah, probably free. I think then it starts at like, well, I'm looking now it's $18 a month is the first plan, right? so $18 33 builds annually. but that, that actually will get you started for a long time.
And by the time you're up to paying 120 bucks a month, if you're saving 75 hours, like, I think that's an easy payback.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:09] Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It sounds, sounds extraordinarily, economically viable. The, one of the things which always sort of troubled me in all of this was if I'm automating everything.
How do I know it's working? I mean, I know you can perform your presumably you can perform some sort of test at the point where you set it up and say, okay, from the data that I've supplied, we're all good. I've just filled out my gravity form and look, that person is now in active campaign. Tick done.
Forget about it. Never think about it ever again. Do you, do you have to go back and check this stuff? Does it have robust ways of saying this is failing? Something's broken. Yes,
James Rose: [00:27:45] Zappia does. I'm not so sure about like, I haven't played with integrity enough. I presume they have some arrow logging. there is some level of trust, right?
Like if it was failing and just not telling you then. I mean, there's not really much you can do about it, but Zappy is a robust enough product, that I have that level of trust now. And you can actually go into your task history, which is a page in Zapier, and you can see every task that's run. I think it's, I'm supposed to know this cause I'm a Zapier certified expert and it was on the exam.
but I think it's up to maximum three months or 10,000 tasks. Whichever is. The less. Okay. is the, your task history, and it will actually tell you any that have had an era, any that are waiting for some reason or delayed, which ones have succeeded, which ones were filtered under conditions. yeah, there's a whole lot of different sort of States.
And not only that you can actually, if one does throw an arrow, you can click on it and. It and go through every step of the zap and see what data came in and out of each step. Right. So you would be able to see the data that came from gravity forms and then see what got sent to active campaign or whatever email system you're using.
And. That might give you a clue into why it failed, right? So it's not just like, Oh, this one failed. It actually gives you all the data that it tried to send and the error that happened. So yeah, that's actually a, a lot of people don't realize task history is there let alone how, like how powerful it is.
So it's another one of those things I go over in the course. Cause it's just like, that's how you debug.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:29:18] Yeah. Okay. just, just sort of an interesting idea there. So if, for example, I fire a gravity form and it sends data, I don't know, to my WordPress website, but then also as part of the integration, it's sending stuff to Zapier and Zapier.
At that point, it's consuming that data, doing whatever it's been told to do with it, and then pushing it to wherever it's supposed to be pushed to. Ha. Have you ever had a problem with the, the first part of that chain? If you like the gravity forms, bits that I've just described failing and nothing going to Zappia.
So is up, he has got nothing to show for it. Have you ever had problems with that?
James Rose: [00:29:54] not really, unless it's like, something's been blocked somewhere like that. There may be an issue on a web server or something, but, yeah, generally, if you don't see it show up in task history, it means you've got a problem at the source.
You know, like gravity forms, isn't doing its job, or, you know, active campaign is not doing its job right. Generally that's pretty rare and something I just go to support for, for the source.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:21] Yeah. And presumably, you know, if you've got like a WordPress website, which most of the people listening to this haven't, it's likely to be something like a firewall or something like that.
yeah. So, okay. Thinking about particular apps then, and things that you found to be useful, let's, let's just run through a laundry list of two or three of the ones in your life, which you've proved to be the most effective. If you could, if you, you feel able to run down, you know, what it is that you've, set up that you thought actually.
That was gold. I'm so glad I did. Yeah. So
James Rose: [00:30:51] there's a couple, one is actually really basic in that it, there's a builtin app in Zapier called lead score by Zapier. A lead score is a little bit, it's not really the right term. It's more of lead enrichment, which is the process of looking up someone by their email address and getting some more information.
So this is like a whole industry. Of companies that basically store data on people. I don't know how that works with GDPR, but you can essentially just put in an email address and get out a bunch of stuff about like how many people work for them or work at that company where, what city that is. so like this can be valuable information in knowing like a bit more about your clients.
So for example, we, when someone signs up for content snare, we send their email over to this tool and it comes back with how many staff they have. And if it's more than 10, we know that they're in a better position to use content snare than say like a freelancer, right. Even though freelancers often use our software, Those bigger companies tend to, like make better clients sometimes.
So that is a really good flag for us. So then based on that, we have a filter in the zap that says if staff is greater than 10, then drop into my Trello. Right. So that enables me to immediately see if, because I basically live in Trello. So immediately I can tell if the, like a big client has signed up.
So there's another one, you know, you can, you could set it to bigger than a hundred stuff, for example, you know, and this is the way that I got on top of a really big client that signed up for a contest scenario. One time, like. Like a top 10 airline in the world, a really, really, really big company. And this is app fired and dropped it right in front of me.
And I was like onto them immediately and was able to give them really personalized support live while they're using the app. Cause we have an inapt chat. and I, you know, I don't know if that aided us in getting the, the, the sale, but, You know, that's pretty cool. That was able to happen.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:32:56] Yeah, that is cool.
That's really ingenious. I like that. And also speaks to the fact that there's so there's apps are happening and they feel like one directional. They feel to me like, you know, the example of that, I've just been continually using his gravity form into active campaign. But then interestingly that you're polling some other service, you're pushing it to another service and then they're giving you more information back, which then leads to another.
And all of a sudden it's like a circle. Of the, as opposed to just everything happening in one direction. Oh, that's fascinating.
James Rose: [00:33:26] Yes. So actions, your actions do give you information back, right? Like for example, if you want to expand on that at the gravity forms to active campaign, you're not just pushing it into active campaign, active campaign still responds and says, yes.
Oh, we added that contact or they were already there and we updated them. So that could give you some data to say that, Oh, this is an existing client, do something different in the rest of the zap.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:52] Okay. That's really interesting. I think that's, excuse me, if there's anything that I'm going to learn from today, it is that actually that, that it's given more information back than I, I gave it credit for and yeah, I need to pursue this a bit more and the other good ones that you're happy with.
James Rose: [00:34:07] Yeah, I'm just actually expanding on that last one. there's a thing called digest, by Zapier and it essentially builds up a list. So if I didn't want that, person to jump into my, to Trello immediately, you can add it to a digest and that just. It's an action in Zappia that just builds up a list of things, right?
And then you can say every day at 5:00 PM released that digest and it will then continue on with the zap and. This is kind of hard to describe without screenshots. But so imagine at this point it's like, I've just put five people's email addresses into a digest, and then that digest releases, I can put the whole list into my Trello so I can quickly scan through those five or however many people signed up that day.
That fit my criteria.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:54] Does that make sense? Yeah, it does. Yeah, I get it.
James Rose: [00:34:56] Yeah. So digest is awesome because you can do stuff like, I don't know all the activity that happened in my project management system. So they roll that up into a digest and email it to me at the end of the day. all the leads that signed up today, send that to me at the end of the day.
And it makes like a quickly scannable list for you to just go through. so it's like mini reports.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:15] Right. Okay. So do you, then you then like block out a few minutes of your day, just to sort of quickly scraped through that and see what's happened. And you know, if anything's shouting out at you, you can see it and take action immediately.
James Rose: [00:35:27] Well, see, I'm really bad at remembering to do stuff like that. And that's why I do it as like a notification. So I'm not scraping out my time to do it. It just pops in right in front of me. Like, I can eat, you could email yourself if you're not in Trello, but Trello for me is life. Right? Like I'm in it constantly.
So I see the notification and also see the card and I read it. Whereas, you know, some people like to email it, them to themselves or whatever, as like an end of day report end of week report, whatever. So that was kind of just an extension of that one. Do you want me to
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:57] go on with another, maybe one more that you're really interested?
Cause I did actually learn quite a lot from that one that was really intriguing. So yeah, another one probably there'll be.
James Rose: [00:36:06] Yeah, well, I mean, this one's kind of more relevant to us too, but in the, in the podcasting space, I have one that when, someone books in to go on my podcast, it takes a bunch of the questions.
so, so I asked them. For a little bit of an outline of what they want to talk about on the show. And it actually puts their name and their email and their websites and their, those questions into a Google document, which has becomes my run sheet. Yep. so yeah, it just does some, like, you can basically replace bits of a document, with text, so like placeholders or variables within a document, which, you know, like that's a cool thing for a lot of designers, right?
They're like, you can actually create a Google documents, like an invoice or something. and then use Google cloud print to turn that into a PDF. If you like, that's another Zapier app is Google cloud print. so you can convert documents to PDF, but back on my zap, you know, like that, that document then gets dropped into my Trello.
Just before the podcast happens so I can open it up and run through the sheet.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:37:12] Good grief. There's a lot going on there. Isn't there. It sounds so. Hang on a minute. So people fill out what I'm presuming is some kind of online form, whether that's gravity form, the, you know, some kind of online form
James Rose: [00:37:22] that then gets on
Nathan Wrigley: [00:37:24] calendar.
Okay, great. So Calendly then pushes it to Zapier Zapier then. Is is told to create from variables, bits in a Google doc, which then gets pushed to Trello based upon some sort of Calendly event, the time of day that the podcast is taking place and then it pops up. Okay. Interesting. And, how do you know though with that one, how do you know that you've actually got that event?
Does it add it to Google calendar as well or something?
James Rose: [00:37:51] Yeah. So, you've got a few options, but what you can actually, so there's a delay step in Zapier, and you can use a math step to calculate how long it's got a delay for basically. And then, and then, so you just leave, it sat in that delay state. The downside of this is delay supports a maximum of a one month.
So you can, there is a workaround where you can actually just base it off Google, Google calendar instead. I actually, that's like a thing. A workaround like cover in my course is triggering zaps using a Google calendar because, Yeah. Like you kind of falls down when you're trying to schedule things more than a month inside Zapier itself.
So instead you actually cut, I have to create a Google calendar event and then trigger another zap based when that event actually happens. Yes. So that's a bit of a workaround, but it's something you have to do sometimes just because of that. Built in, I guess that downside of Zappia their maximum of a month delay.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:50] Yeah. You mentioned at the beginning that you, well, I kinda mentioned for you and you kind of, I think agreed that a propensity to, to enjoy this kind of stuff. Are there any things where you've caught? I mean, this is just a total aside. Anything's where you've, you've kind of caught yourself halfway through the creation of an automation and thought.
This is so pointless. I'm simply doing this because I'm enjoying it. You know, as in it's got no benefit, there's no way this'll kind of get triggered often enough.
James Rose: [00:39:17] So not so much anymore when I was getting started. Absolutely. But now I'm kind of intentional, you know, I know that like I'm generally going in with the idea and trying to see if I can build it.
More often than not like it's so recently, like, you know, this is kind of complex, but I built a referral system. I wanted to have a gravity form that like people could claim a coupon code and then it would auto, it would put that coupon code into our billing system. That's what one zap. And then the next zap was basically, Oh, sorry.
And it would add them to a sheet. So we knew who that coupon belonged to. Yep. A Google sheet. And then I wanted to, you know, I didn't know if this was possible and I'm just sort of working through and then create another zap that we're going to purchase is made it finds the coupon, looks up the person in that same Google sheet and applies a credit to their account.
So. I knew that I wanted to do that. Right. I wanted to create like a coupon or have people be able to claim a coupon. And then if that coupons used, give the owner a credit, like that's all I was going in with. Right. but it's, I spent maybe like, I don't know, an hour building that app. Cause I just didn't know what was possible, but because I was a teen intentional, I guess, about knowing what I wanted to build.
it wasn't really wasting time. I just got the job done. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:38] Yeah. I, I, I think that if I had been instructed to, to do that same thing, the, the hour would happily expanded up to a week that suddenly suddenly these sort of economic rationale for it. J just, just one of the things which occurs to me when you talk about this stuff is, obviously in your case, you're like a real expert with this and you've got a very high level knowledge of how it all works, but, but.
During the conversation, we've talked about all sorts of ways that it's producing data. So, you know, it's producing this digest, it's producing like a logging of errors. it's producing Google sheets for you. It's pushing stuff into different CRMs. And so D do you sort of ever get kind of overwhelmed with the, like, where.
I completely forgotten where this stuff's ending up. Like what, what Google sheet was that? Where, where does that live? How did I achieve that? You know, is there a, a notion of looking back thinking, Whoa. Okay. It was great to automate it, but now I've got just too much stuff that's happening.
James Rose: [00:41:38] Yes. absolutely.
And the way I've kind of dealt with that is naming conventions and folder structures, right? Like, I think that's every time I don't stick to my rules of those two things, I end up in exactly that state you would. Scribing, just so confused, like where the hell is a bloody sheet, but I know these they're like this, this app is pulling from, but I can't find it, you know?
Oh yeah. All the time. So, I am, I've gotten pretty diligent with creating folders in Zapier. Cause you can do that and naming my zaps the right way and actually naming the steps of the zap in the right way. Right. So like if I search for certain things, like when you do a search through your whole Zapier account, it'll actually pull up.
Like it's matching the names within each zap as well. Okay. So that makes it a lot easier to find something. You know, if I'm, if I'm working with PayPal, I'm going to search PayPal. And, then every zap that contains PayPal is going to come up, it's gonna make it a lot easier to find. and the same thing with the sheets themselves.
Cause I lose a lot of sheets in zaps and I generally try to have like a folder for Zapier sheets for different functions, for example, Different folders. You know, if it's, if it's for social media stuff, all the sheets related to that are in one folder, sheets related to project management or in another folder, et cetera.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:42:59] anybody who has a digital life longer than a month old can identify with the problem and just trying to find it anything it's, you know, we all come up with our own naming conventions, but yeah, the amount of times I don't stick to it, cause it's just quicker. Just, ah, just type something it's just easy.
Here's a question I remember several years ago. This is a lot of years ago, probably five or six Troy Dean in a Facebook post, venting on Zapier. Because some of his automation, I don't know if the system went down or the platform went down, but a ton of his stuff just failed for a period of time. And I don't know if it was like, you know, they'd set something up incorrectly or, you know, like I say, the system went down, but it feels like, you know, I use Google reader as my RSS reader and then it, then it went away.
They just pulled the plug. Zapier presumably has to be profitable. It has to be, up and running. You are you completely I'm trusting Zapier. Are there any parts of you which are sort of saying, ah, I am really in deep on this one platform. I I'm slightly concerned that it's going to be around in a decade or five years or whatever.
James Rose: [00:44:08] not really. Cause I mean, I I'm saving enough time now that it kind of makes it all worthwhile. I don't think they're going anywhere, but that you can apply the same things, anything, right? Like any tool that you're using, like Zappy is just connecting a few other tools. you know, and you could maybe make the argument that you're better off.
Using an oil in one platform, but then what if that all in one platform goes away, right? You screwed? I actually prefer to use like a master. Like I, I like to kind of Jack of all trades master of none thing, where like I like to cut, use best in class apps and connect them all with Zapier. rather than like a Jack of all trades.
One that like an all in one type platform. Yeah. So then, I mean, in what you're talking about, it's almost like spreading your risk as well. You know, like, like if one of those apps goes away, you can just find a replacement, but I know that. Yeah, sure. Zappa is happy. It could go away. But then maybe you just move it all to Integra metal, something, you know, like I feel like this is an industry that's here to stay.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:45:09] yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. Fair enough. just another sort of question in, in the era. I mean, I'm sure you're the same as me. You probably get countless emails every day where it's. Pretty clear that automation has been heavily applied to the email that you've received. You know, it's got like the, the, I don't know, the grammar seems all wrong.
The, the fact that your company just simply doesn't fit in that sentence and, you know, clumsy use of your first name and all of this kind of stuff. Do you, do you, do you have any sort of caveats about automating things that are kind of user facing? The reason I'm saying this is because it feels like.
There's a certain segment of the market, which is, which is rejecting this, you know, things, things like Bon Giorno. I forget if that's maybe bond. I can't remember how you pronounce it and DOB and all these various different apps who are making the exact opposite decision on whether you can automate various things in there.
You know, it's more about the personal touch. Do you have any sort of feelings about that? Like things to
James Rose: [00:46:06] automate. Absolutely. But like I still classify Bundoora Jora was an automation tool. so I don't, I don't see it as opposite at all. I use Bundoora and in fact I'm a big proponent of, I guess I'd call it like, automation assisted personalization, like, so for example, instead of what I used to do.
Is when certain people signed up, I would sit down at my computer, sorry. I signed up for content snare. I would sit down, I would use loom or something, you know, before loom, it was something even more like difficult, but I'd have to be at my computer and hit the learn button. I record, I talked to them and then I hit a copy of the link and I put it in an email and I send it to them.
Right. But with when someone signs up, it pops up as a notification on my phone. I clicked the notification. I record a video for 30 seconds, hit send, and it's done so everything around that is automated, but you still personalize the message. And this is like, that example before when certain clients signed up, I would, drop that into my Trello and manually reach out to them, you know?
So that, that bit wasn't automated, there was like assisted, it was automation assisted, so that it told me now go and talk to them. You can take it another step further and you could, I could have got it to create a draft Gmail. In my account, and then put, put the link to that in my Trello, for me to open up the draft, complete it and then send it to them,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:47:29] you know?
Yeah, yeah. No, that's
James Rose: [00:47:31] always ways you can still personalize.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:47:33] Yeah. I really like that. The way that you've just described that, I think you've summed that up perfectly in effect the bits that you want to be very personal. You are simply getting notifications. Okay. It's time to do the personal thing. which, which is nice.
I think that's a really nice, healthy balance. I think it's. I think it's really nice when you get those kinds of videos and something, somebody has clearly taken a personal step and actually that the people who make the effort to do that, I feel it, separating themselves. you know, you're like oceans apart from the people who simply send out the automated message because we live in an era where.
Or automation is so prevalent that getting a personal message in your case, you know, you're holding up the phone, you're getting a video. Somebody actually said my name on the video. It's pretty clear, James did this, you know, this is not AI. This is not James. AI is actual James. I think that's great.
Really nice. you said earlier that you were a certified, Zapier expert, but it goes a little bit further than that because I would, I would like you to promote your, your Zapier course. because you haven't just, come on here to, you know, to tell us all about what, what it is that you can do. You come with a Zapier mastery course as well.
So tell us a little bit about that, where we can find it, what its primary purposes who may be suitable for. Is it beginners experts? What. Yeah. So the reason
James Rose: [00:48:54] that exists, I think thanks for that, by the way, introducing it. But, the reason it exists is because literally so many people were asking me about Zapier.
Like it, it, I had some people on the local community here in Brisbane. Say like literally I will give you money to teach me Zapier. And I was like, but like, I don't think he will. I think that's a lie cause you know, and so people put their money where their mouth is. So I did like a presale pre launch, to see if people actually would and lots of people did.
So then I went, Oh crap, I better make the course. I was kind of expecting it to be like, Oh yeah, I see everyone was actually getting, I can go on and do whatever I was doing before now, but then like the, the response kinda blew me away. So now I made the course, it basically covers, it basically covers basics.
It starts with the basics and goes through to advanced. Right. So, that was always the thing in the back of my mind is like, I, in fact, I had a single person, a friend of mine who was so like, Anti-tech, we're not, anti-tech just like, doesn't really know anything about tech. I had her in my mind the entire time I was creating this course, because if I had to explain it to someone that just had no idea, how would I do this?
so that's why I start really, really basic. and then work my way through to some of the most advanced. Tactics. I know with Zapier that even like a lot of experts that I've spoken to don't know, like things just work arounds and ways to work with sheets that are generally people don't think about.
It's actually quite funny, a other, a guy, if you, if you go to where the firstname.lastname@example.org, it says Zappy a mastery, but you just click a course in the, the main header and it'll take you there. There's actually a testimonial from a guy that said, and offline, outside of that testimonial, he said he went back to the first.
he, he actually did the course twice and the second time through, he was like, Oh my God, you must've been so bored, recording these first few because now that I actually know what I'm doing and I go back, they seem so easy. And I was like, yes, you're right. Yeah. But. That was exactly what I've tried to do is take it from really, really simple and build up slowly onto the super advanced stuff.
And Gabriel, the guy in the testimonial said he never used Zapier. And two days afterwards, he built an 18 step zap that saves him an hour a day. So that was really,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:51:24] that is good. Proper testimonial. Isn't it. so what format does it take? Are we watching a bunch of videos with you on the screen and you sharing your screen and so on?
And how many, how long does the course take to roughly take to complete.
James Rose: [00:51:39] It's yes, just videos and me, there's a Facebook group that goes along with it. and you know, occasionally I share other stuff in there. but yeah, for now, I mean, I plan on building on this, but right now I think it's about 52 videos or something maybe.
Four hours or three hours. I actually can't remember now I should know, but I don't. It's okay.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:51:58] there's plenty in there. And roughly speaking, what's the, at the time of recording this video, obviously we won't commit you to anything. What's the, what's the investment required to, to get this in your, in your bag.
James Rose: [00:52:09] It's currently three 99 us, but you know what? because this isn't going out live, I guess I can create a coupon.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:52:16] Okay.
James Rose: [00:52:17] Yeah, why not? WP Builds, right?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:52:22] Don't have to commit yourself to the amount that's.
James Rose: [00:52:24] Oh, well go a hundred bucks off. Okay. Down to two 99, I just got
Nathan Wrigley: [00:52:30] to make sure, okay. I'll either edit a bit out or just keep it in and then how nice you are.
So two 99, if you use the coupon code WP Builds. I promise that was completely unsolicited. Very nice. Thank you very much. And you can find that just to be very clear, although I'll drop it into the show notes, James, Rose's sort of personal website. If you like, is Jimmy rose.me? J I double M Y R O S e.me, and the course can be found in the main menu at the top, or if you want to be old school forward slash Zapier hyphen mastery, and that will get you there.
And you can see James right at the top in a video, and, you know, you click on the button, gets up your mastery and taken over to the car. That's great. the other thing very briefly is, I'd like you to talk. About content snare, your other main project. What, what does it do? Cause I know that it's a super fit for our audience.
James Rose: [00:53:21] Yeah. In fact, I think I've been on the podcast many moons ago to talk about snap, but it's only
Nathan Wrigley: [00:53:28] recently hasn't it. It's been gone through a huge UI overhaul and we're on V2 now.
James Rose: [00:53:34] Yes. yeah, I think I was on your podcast back in 2017. Okay.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:53:38] It's right at the
James Rose: [00:53:40] time ago. Yeah. but yeah, a big version to overhaul.
so for people that don't know, it's a, it's a platform to make it easier to get content from clients. So it's typically used by digital agencies, to collect website content or marketing content, even things like website questionnaires. Creative briefs like I'm seeing new uses for it every day.
I'm almost saying it's, it's a platform to collect information from anyone because people are using it for all kinds of stuff. I've been, I've been content snared by our own tool for speaker information before an event.
That's how I felt like I'd made it when I got
Nathan Wrigley: [00:54:15] somebody actually used it on you.
James Rose: [00:54:17] Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, it's kind of us, it's all, but the biggest use for it is website content. And the idea is to make one central place to collect everything, you know, rather than trying to do it through documents and here and there and everywhere and, shared folders and these email trails that ends up.
Massive and you version control kind of gets out of whack. they send the wrong files, so it's kind of just one place for it all the way you can constrain what they put in. And then it automatically reminds them on a schedule to actually follow up, like to put the content in. So you're not having to do that.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:54:53] Yeah. And let's be honest. We all know that that is a real actual definite problem. You know, James is not making this up in the hopes that you go out and buy a use the SAP SAS app. We actually need this good grief. The amount of times, the amount of times, the amount of time I waste. Yeah. So in a sense, it's automation for that.
James Rose: [00:55:13] yeah. Go check it out. Specific automation.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:55:15] Yeah. Content snare.com. yeah. Good grief. We're on 53 minutes, James. Wow. We sort of leave for about 30 to 40 and we've totally, we've totally overreached. So, I'm going to no, no, no, no. It's I was really, really interested, you know, I, this is an area, although I haven't had it as one of my new year's resolutions, if you like, it is an area that I feel I'm going to need to get better at because of various things that are happening in my life this year.
So, I'll probably be knocking on your door at some point. I'm going to hand the floor to you. Whatever you like Facebook groups, Twitter URLs, regular URLs, anything you want to mention? go for it.
James Rose: [00:55:53] Oh, gosh. I mean, it really is just go to the Jimmy rose.me. If you cook the YouTube link, I hope it's there somewhere.
If you searched with Jimmy rice on, on YouTube, you'll find me. That's kind of the main way I'm communicating with people now is sort of automation, videos, and that kind of thing. If you do want to get me on Twitter, it's underscore Jamie Rose and on Instagram, it's get Jimmy Rose. The story behind that don't ask.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:56:18] Okay. I won't ask
James Rose: [00:56:19] him that face.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:56:21] James James, James. Thank you so much. I realize it's probably ridiculously late. O'clock where you are. Thanks for joining us on WP belts today. I really appreciate it.
James Rose: [00:56:31] And then it's been a pleasure and I hope that was helpful. Well, I hope
Nathan Wrigley: [00:56:34] that you enjoyed that. It was an absolute pleasure chatting to James about that stuff.
It's an area that I've got real interest in, but somehow I haven't really managed to, to get to the excellent Heights that James had. So hopefully some real interesting content in there and things that you can actually implement. I certainly hope so. The WPU builds podcast was brought to you today by AB split test.
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You can check it email@example.com. Right. We produce a lot of content each and every week. The next thing you're going to hear will be a podcast on Monday. It's the WP Builds weekly WordPress news that comes out of 7:00 AM. UK time also will be live at 2:00 PM UK time to discuss that news, I'll be joined by some notable WordPress guests.
And as I said, at the top of the show, I'll be joined on Tuesday. Live. By Sabrina's I'd done so that we can talk about how to increase the reach of our plugins. I'm going to fade in some cheesy music and say, bye for now.