262 – Online summits, attendee and speaker expectations

262 – Online summits, attendee and speaker expectations

Interview with Nathan Wrigley and Joe Casabona

So this is something new to the podcast. I recorded this episode with Joe Casabona at the tail end of 2021, and this is the first time that he and I have created content to be shared across both of our podcasts. So right at the start, if you’re a regular listener to Joe’s podcast and you get a deja vu feeling listening to the this episode… you’re not going mad! It’s the exact same recording. What I’m trying to say is that if you’ve listened to this episode over on Joe’s podcast, there’s very little point in listening to it again here!


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That being said, if this is the first time that you’ve heard this, there’s a lot of interesting ground that we cover.

The back story goes like this. I (Nathan) co-host the Page Builder Summit with my friend Anchen le Roux. We invite a range of speakers to come onto that podcast and create presentations which, it is hoped, the attendees will enjoy.

We do not pay the speakers for their contributions. We make this very clear and communicate it in advance. There’s an exchange here, but it’s not the usual one of ‘you create something and I will pay you for it’. It’s more of a ‘here is an audience you might like to present to if you’re willing’.


Joe has appeared in two of the Page Builder Summits as a speaker, and right around the second of his contributions, he published a post called ‘We Need to Talk About Speakers and Virtual Events‘. In that piece Joe put forward the idea that speakers ought to be paid for their time.

I think that it’s important at this point to make clear that Joe reached out to me to explicitly tell me that this piece was not written in response to his involvement with the Page Builder Summit; it was related to other ‘poor’ experiences he’d had with other events in which he felt that there was not the correct balance between speaker expectations and organiser requirement. It felt like the pendulum such that the speakers were being treated in an unfair way.


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I reached out to Joe and we spoke about the issues that he’d raised and we agreed to get on a call to thrash out where we both stood, and add some clarity to why we stood there.

We are certainly on different sides of the debate here, but the conversation is polite and we each hear one another out. It was not really an endeavour to change one another’s minds, more, an attempt to air our thoughts and make clear why we think the way we do.

If you’re thinking of being a speaker at an event, or you’re thinking of organising an event this could be a really interesting conversation. It might well shine a spotlight on issues that you never even considered and make both sides have more empathy, especially when the event deadlines are tight and expectations are put under stress.

Have a listen to the podcast and let me know in the comments what your thoughts are, or head to the WP Builds Facebook group to comment there. I’d also really appreciate you sharing this on your platform of choice, that would be lovely!

Mentioned in this podcast:

We Need to Talk About Speakers and Virtual Events

Faceoff: Should Speakers be Paid for Virtual Events with Nathan Wrigley

Build Something Club

Page Builder Summit

Nathan Wrigley

Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group.

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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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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, david Walmsley, Nathan wrigley.

Hello there, and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once again, very happy to have you here. This is episode number 262 entitled online summits, attendee and speaker expectations. It was published on Thursday, the 20th of January, 2021. My name's Nathan Wrigley. And I will be joined in just a moment by Joe Casabona.

This is a very unusual episode, as I will explain in due course. But before that, a little bit of a housekeeping, the usual stuff, if you've been listening to this podcast for any length of time, perhaps a few weeks, perhaps for years, and you've gained value out of it, I would really appreciate it. If you went out there and spread the word, let people know about WP Builds, probably the best URL to share is just WP Builds.com, use whatever social platform you like and just let people know.

I'd really appreciate that because obviously we would like our audience base to grow. If you would like to keep in touch with the things that we produce the best way to do that is to go to WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe or more time. WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe over there. You're going to find a page with all the different ways that you can communicate with us.

So for example, we've got a Facebook group. It's brilliant. We've got a YouTube channel, we've got a Twitter feed and there's a couple of email lists to sign up to as well. One, just to keep you abreast of the content as, and when we produce it, this the podcasts on a Thursday and also choose day when we produce our, this weekend WordPress show.

I say that it's actually live every Monday, but more about that later, but there's also another list which you can use to find out when we hear about any WordPress deals, it's all on the subscribe page. Maybe go to. And the other thing that we're trying to do is keep things well, how to describe it open source.

And so I've used an open source, Twitter clone it's called mustard on, and you can find [email protected] Yes. That is a URL WP build stops social there's about 70 people in there at the moment. So it's fairly quiet. And if you fancy joining, please just go to that website and fill out the form and we'll get you on.

As soon as we can. It's nice actually to have a quiet social network. There's less noise in there and it means that the conversations go a little bit. Okay. I think that's all the housekeeping that I needed to perform this week. Right. At the top of the podcast, I said that this one was going to be a bit unusual.

It's episode 2, 6, 2, online summits, attendee, and speaker expectations. Why is it unusual? Because it's a podcast episode recorded for two different podcasts. The guest today is Joe Casabona, or it could be me depending on whether you heard it on his channel or not, we recorded it so that we could share it on both of our podcasts.

It's actually already aired on Joe's podcast late last year, late in 2021. So if you've already heard it over there, I can just tell you apart from the introduction which I'm doing now, everything else is basically exactly the same. And so the topic is simply whether or not we should pay with. Speakers to online summits.

Now I run a summit with Angela LaRue. It's called the page builder summit. We'll be doing it again in 2022. And we do not pay financially. Our speakers. Joe has spoken at lots and lots of events in the past, including the page builder summit. And he thinks that they should be paid. And so we have that debate.

I put forward why I think the model that we have is actually pretty decent. And he says what he thinks. It's almost like it's on his podcast. One of us had to introduce the podcast at the beginning. And so Joe took the honors there, but it's a really interesting discussion. It's very polite. We don't fall out with each other.

Not non-confrontational would be a good way to describe it. I really enjoyed this episode and I'm sure you will too.

[00:04:20] Joe Casabona: Hey everybody, Joe Casabona here. I am here with Nathan Wrigley in what I would like to call a very special episode of how I built it because it's. Combined episode of how I built it. And Nathan's podcast, WP bills C a few weeks ago, I wrote an article called we need to talk about speakers and virtual events.

I didn't think about the timing of this very much, but I wrote about how I feel speakers are treated at virtual events, basically, as I was speaking at Nathan's virtual event, the page builder summit. I Nathan and I spoke and we wanted to have a conversation around. Speaking at virtual events from both the speaker's perspective and the organizers perspective.

So I'll bring in Nathan now. Hello?

[00:05:07] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, this is so strange because this is the first collaborative podcast I've ever done.

[00:05:13] Joe Casabona: Likewise, I this is new ground for us. Maybe we're more breaking new ground here in in 20 at the end of 2021. Good podcasts definitely timestamp themselves. Yeah,

[00:05:26] Nathan Wrigley: but it's interesting.

So this podcast is going out on two channels. It's going out on your podcast and it's also going out on my car podcast and it will basically be the exact same content. So if you have listened to it on Joe's don't come to mind and expect it to be different because it won't be, it'll be exactly the same.

Yeah.

[00:05:45] Joe Casabona: Likewise, a little bit of how the sausage gets made before we go into this, as I'm uncertain about whether I'm going to make this like a bonus episode on the feed with no sponsors added in pre and post production, or if I'm going to make it a normal episode. I'm unsure about that.

I don't

[00:06:05] Nathan Wrigley: have, I don't have that luxury cause I don't really have bonuses or anything like that. My podcast is just the same. Every Thursday it comes out and there's no variation in that. It's just a different type of podcast, be an interview. And then I have chats with David Walmsley each and every fortnight two weeks.

And so it's just going to come out how it comes out.

[00:06:26] Joe Casabona: Very nice. Cool. So that's something I'll, I will absolutely think about, but the beauty is that we're recording this without any of the bumpers or anything like that. And we'll all, we'll both do our pre production magic. But let's, let's dive in to.

The article. So again, to set the stage here, I wrote an article. It'll be in the show notes over at, over at how I built it. And WP Builds.com.com. Okay. And it's called, we need to talk about speakers and virtual events. And I, I talk about some of the things that I think have become very commonplace in virtual events that I don't think I don't think there's a lot of malice.

I just think that it's easy. It feels like it's easy to maybe take advantage of speakers. And I saw somebody, the impetus for this article was I saw somebody talk about how you can run your own virtual events. And this person was talking about basically how speakers are happy to put together the talks for free and happy to promote to their audience.

And I asked a few questions to push back on this, but I also respected the person running the event running the webinar. And I didn't want to make a scene or, you know, cause any bad blood. So I asked a couple of pushback questions, but I was unhappy with, with the answers because it very much felt like yeah, I put together the event, I get all the money and then the speakers will put together the content and promote to their audience and not really get much else from it.

Yeah. Now Nathan, before we, maybe before we take this pseudo point by point you have organized virtual events. I may be want to organize a virtual live. In the coming year or so. And so this is another reason I wrote this. I was like my speaker manifesto to hold me accountable when I start booking speakers.

But I'm certain because I know and respect to you that, that you don't try to take advantage of your speakers. And a lot of the things I mentioned here, you don't even, you weren't even doing so maybe we can start with. As, as you read this article and as you've gotten feedback from speakers, w what's your general?

Yeah.

[00:09:13] Nathan Wrigley: So from first thing I would say is that the amount of work that goes in was far in excess of what I actually imagined at the start. We on the page builder summit, we have a really low fire approach in that it's not live. There are there are live comments that is to say, you can go and watch the presentations at the, at a time, one hour, basically you've got the speaker will be in the comments, but before that basically it's just recorded video.

So there's all of those things to take into account as the sponsors, there's all of the upsells, there's the things to bundle together. And it is no exaggeration to say that it's probably five, six times more than I imagined I really did at the outset. Think. At this point mentioned that my co-host for the summit and shouldn't the Ru does a very large proportion of the work.

I, by no means if it were a Seesaw, her side would be touching the ground and I'd be dangling in the air. She's doing all of the heavy lifting. And, but I was, I really did think it would be more or less a walk in the park. I've built websites before, and I understand how these technologies work, but there's a lot more to it than that.

But also there are so many little trip wires everywhere where you feel that, okay, how should I behave here? Correct thing. What is the balance that I want to strike in terms of giving, giving good value to the users giving good value to the speakers, giving good value to the sponsors, and also at the same time in the back of your mind, the whole time.

You don't really want to say this, but you've got to say it, there has to be some recompense for the amount of work that you put it in. So at the end of the day, it has to be profitable. Now the, the, the thing that we've got does mirror, what you said that the person that you mentioned, I don't know who they are, but the idea being that we offer slots and we don't well, or at least we haven't so far, we haven't offered a call for speakers.

We actually go out and we contact the people who we believe have probably the most to offer. So we contact them one at a time based upon, whatever it is that they've been doing in the recent period. And we make the offer, which is, we would like to have you in the summit. Are you willing to do that?

And then do make we try really hard to message that really clearly. So we send emails and we have a landing page where all of the speakers can get. Read what it is that we're asking from them. And it, it divulge is the things that we would like them to do and the dates that we would like them to do it but also it tells them about the things that they can expect from us.

And the, and so we do have the model that if you would like to be on our summit with regret, we don't actually pay you for that. But again, we would like you to feel that you get something out of it. And and that, I think that was the, the fulcrum of the, of where your piece, it was the catalyst for this conversation that we're having now, because you actually sent it to me before you published it because you suspected, oh, I think Nathan might imagine that I'm actually talking about him and I don't think you.

[00:12:38] Joe Casabona: I definitely wasn't. And you know, and I think that we can both agree, that I've Al I've given candid, direct feedback. Cause I know that you always ask your speakers for feedback. And so I think anything that I, any feedback I would have for you or for any virtual event organizer who asks me for feedback should not be surprised.

It's like it's like, if your manager calls you into your office and is going to fire you it shouldn't be the first time that you're hearing about all of this negative stuff. And I feel the same way if I'm going to publish something where I'm not calling people out specifically, but offering feedback, the people that I'm I have in mind should also hear this feedback from.

[00:13:36] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, but but it centers around whether the speakers paid. And so here's a couple of bits of context. The the, the way that we run it is that we offer an upsell. So it's, it has various different, tripwires in terms of time, you can get it for this price, if you decide to buy it very quickly, and then it goes up to a different price.

If you decide that you want to buy it later on. And we sell that and we offer our speakers an opportunity to divest themselves of an affiliate system. So in other words, if they refer people to just like any product, you'd find in the WordPress space where there's an affiliate system. If people buy the, we call it the power pack.

If people buy the power pack and it comes through your link, and that link is good enough for the entirety of the whole time that we're promoting the summit. So basically if you refer them to us, you'll get the lead. And we. I don't want to say about names or figures. Exactly. But w we do have quite a lot of the speakers who do raise quite well.

Shall we say I don't know what reasonable or quite well is, but, we, we, we just handled actually the other day, the affiliate payouts for those, and some of them, you were, they were fairly handsome. You think that's actually not too bad now, whether or not it would compensate you for the.

Okay. Let's say that you put in five hours work. Would it compensate you for that? I don't know. Would it compensate you for 10 hours work? Would it compensate you for two hours work? Are you the kind of person who has any interest in promoting it, really hard or are you more I'll be on the summit.

I'll enjoy it. And I'm just doing it kicks there's there's things to be discussed there. Some people financially, they do quite well out of it and other people less and I, I don't know if that's, because they're just not into that kind of thing or they they just don't make use of those affiliate links, but we do try to encourage them to use those.

So whilst it's not the paid as in, we will give you $200 to be on the summit and to be in the live chat for that hour, an opportunity and we do have people who definitely do considerably better than the figure that I just said. Yeah.

[00:16:01] Joe Casabona: Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think that makes sense.

That's a reasonable point. I would say, full disclosure, I have promoted with my affiliate links to the page builder summit. And I have I have not made any money from the affiliate program, which maybe is not, it shouldn't probably, shouldn't be a surprise to you cause you know, you didn't pay me anything with the payout.

But the point I make in the article about this right, is is that's in my, from my perspective, that's essentially another job, right? That's cause now the speaker's becoming a commissions only salesperson from, from from my suspicion, from my audience. Cause again, it sounds like you've had some speakers.

Who have done well with the affiliate program? I'm going to guess that most of my audience probably found the page builder summit another way. Interesting. Either I mentioned it somewhere else or cause I was getting clicks. I was checking to make sure things were working. But so even if they, even if my talk was the thing that got them to say, buy the power pack.

They probably signed up a different way.

[00:17:34] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Cause if you think about it, your maybe it's not your main thing, but one of the big things that you have is audio. And I would imagine that in your audio, it's unlikely that you're going to read out for everybody your affiliate URL. You're probably just going to mention the event either just by its name and expect them to Google it or your just gonna.

Say that the sort of root domain, Pagebuilder summit.com in this case, just because that makes more sense. Maybe there's something in that, if you've got a if you've got a newsletter with thousands of people reading it and you put the affiliate link in there, maybe that converts much better.

And I know this cause do the audio podcast thing and it does, there is no click in and there is no click in a podcast you're there is nothing like that. And so that, that is a really good point.

[00:18:32] Joe Casabona: Yeah. And I'll certainly put the link in the show notes and I have included it in my newsletter. And, and those are things that I teach my students to do with affiliate links and such. But I think really the, I guess I would suspect that the people who do really well with this are also Very good at marketing and creating the content. And for me, that's a whole, I'm good at creating content.

No doubt. But but I have a content schedule. I guess I view the making money through affiliate sales as a whole other job, no matter what it is, right? Cause I've had people approach me and say, we can't sponsor your podcast, but we think you can make more money on the affiliate program. And when people say that to me, that's always a red flag because it says to me, we think that you're asking us for 500 bucks to sponsor your podcast.

We think you can make a thousand bucks with the affiliate program. Why wouldn't you just pay me a 500 bucks then? And it's it's so you know, because I'd have to do a little bit, I'd have to do extra and it's zero risk. The sponsor, they don't have to put up any money and they can pay me based guaranteed sales.

[00:19:58] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah, I get it. I wonder what the sort of anecdotal figure would be from you, in, in, in a dollar amount for, let's say that you, we require w we go for 30 to 45 minutes, something like that. That's what we would ask people to commit to. And then we're also asking them to commit to an hour of their time to be in the live chat.

So it's all of the thought, the execution and the time to edit that down and what have you, and then send it over to us and put together any, the bundles that we have, all of the speakers have an opportunity to. Put something into this power pack thing, and there's a bundle there so that there's some work in there, but also there's this hour of time, which may not be an income.

Mine may not be a convenient bit of time because of where we put you on the schedule. So there's all of that. So it definitely, isn't an hour. It's more like dozens of hours possibly. I wonder what the, I wonder what the figure is, is it a, is it like a specific dollar amount? Do you pay, I don't know, for want of a better word, do you pay people who have a heritage of doing this?

So let's say for example, that we got a, what is that guy called? Who seems to be Gary Vaynerchuk, who see he's that guy if he was on the summit, would we pay him the same as somebody who was doing their first ever speaking gig so on. So it's I guess there's more to it than meets the.

[00:21:24] Joe Casabona: Yeah. That's and that's a really good point, right? Some speakers command a certain amount of money for their time now. Okay. I do throw out a figure for about how long I'm delivering a good talk. It usually takes me eight to 10 hours. Right. If we extract, if we extrapolate my hourly rate at 10 hours, that's 1500 bucks.

I would never expect anybody at a virtual or live summit to pay me 1500 bucks just for speaking. Yeah. So I, I think what I'm really driving I say here, the main goal is to make sure speakers know how they're appreciated in a tangible way. Now, I will say that the personalized video that you sent me after the summit, I felt very appreciated.

So it's not that I feel underappreciated in general, I've spoken at virtual events where they paid. Essentially 200 bucks for my time to be there. And each speaker has to look at it differently, but that's reasonable to me. Because I'm putting together a talk based on something I know really well, I'm probably rehearsing it, but then I also get to sell at the end.

So, you I think that it's, it really depends for what I would love to see as a word camps come back is at least covering travel costs for speakers. Yeah. And yeah, sorry, people at the WordPress foundation will say you know, word camps are really supposed to be for the local community anyway.

So if you're traveling it's your own choice. And maybe that's true for you know, word camp, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. But like for word camp us, that's not really the case. So I think that it's really. The dollar amount. If a speaker says I charge X amount of dollars to speak then that's up to the organizer to say how badly do we want this person?

But if it's the if, when I'm organizing potentially my virtual event, I will come up with a number that I think is fair for most speakers. And I'll put that in the budget. And for me, it's going to be like, I'll probably try to aim for like six to eight speakers, one track on this very focused topic.

And so I think when it comes to payment, that's more, what I have in mind. I've gotten paid a hundred, I've gotten paid 200, but very, obviously I've done a bunch of. Events where I haven't gotten paid anything. Yeah, so it's not like I take this hard line, like I'm not doing it. I do the cost analysis and the benefit, like cost benefit analysis.

And I say I'm getting myself in front of some amount of primed audience that might join my membership or whatever.

[00:24:31] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it's really interesting. So in a sense, it's not like. Your saying, here's my hourly rate. I'm doing these many hours. This is, I'm putting a line in the sand here, unless you pay me this, you're not coming on.

It's more of a, it's more of a sort of gesture of Goodwill. Really. It's more of a way of saying, look, we're affirming that we appreciate you. And that we realized this probably won't cover the cost. But, but here we go. Anyway. So I'm likening it a little bit in my head to, if you show up to somebody's house and they've cooked you a meal and it's delicious and expensive, and they've obviously put time and effort into it, if you don't at least show up with a bottle of wine, you've sort misstepped.

Is that if I getting it about right there. Yes.

[00:25:17] Joe Casabona: Yeah. I think that's absolutely right. Because again I mean, if it I'm not, you obviously didn't do this, but I, I certain virtual event organizers will talk. Brag about, how much money they've made from virtual summits. And and then they also talk about how they don't pay their speakers cause their speakers are happy to help.

I think that person or people fundamentally misunderstand the relationship between the virtual event organizer and the speaker. And I know that I, it feels slightly hypocritical to me sometimes because people are coming on my podcast for free and I'm getting sponsored money from the content and they can figure out how much money I've made because my sponsor numbers are public.

But the difference I think is that I'm not requiring my guests to do any prep. That's coming. We're having a conversation you're getting in front of a new audience. I'm going to ask you to, share, share with your audience, but I'm not going to even expect it. I'm just going to hope if you want to.

And similarly for something I'm thinking about doing for my memberships in 2022 is something that the, I, this idea I got from Andrew Warner in his Mixergy membership, but are these things called master classes where they're like hour long private podcast episodes for members where you learn something tangible in an hour or less, that's going to take some prep.

And so I, I would, I have, 500 bucks set aside and I would pay each person. A hundred bucks for, and the hour of their time or whatever, there would be a partially public episode where they can talk about their services and things like that. And then the the part that I paid for would go only to my members.

And so I don't know if this is going to work. I'm mostly thinking out loud, but that's something because now I put this out there. I feel like I need to put on my mouth. But if I'm offering something that requires a little bit more prep and it's something that will add a ton of value to my membership, even if it's, maybe these experts charge $200 an hour.

And so this is half of their hourly rate, but I'm giving them something for hopefully a thing that's high value for my audience, but lower effort for them because it's something that they know so well, that's my thing. Totally untested. Yeah,

[00:28:18] Nathan Wrigley: it is curious because we do offer feedback forms for the speakers.

And again, I'm not going to connect to any names to any comments we did actually we, all I can say is not everybody. And we've, we've really focused on the payment thing and we will, we should get onto some of the other stuff in a minute, but the. Yeah. Not everybody would on the speaker side, seemingly share your your opinion because quite, quite a few of the comments that come through were, along the lines of, I loved it.

I really enjoyed it. There's a whole bunch of new people that I've met and I've got some people on my email list and people have, Becoming customers of mine and so on. So we do know it has that impact, but also I guess maybe there's a position of where you're at the time. So for example, you've been doing this for a really long time.

You are a really an expert in public speaking and putting out audible content and video content and all of that. But, but not everybody's in that same boat, which is to say that they, they might have a bit more flexibility in terms of what they're expecting out of it. And what I simply mean is, th th that just really.

That somebody has come out and said to them, actually, we've noticed that you're doing things let's say on YouTube or we've read some of your blog articles. Would you mind coming on this summit? And here's the, here's all the things that we discussed earlier. And in many cases they're just delighted.

So I'm imagining a scenario where you, Joe are, let's say approached by, oh, I don't know some major television network. And they say to you, look, Joe, you've got to, we're going to create an hour long program for you. You're going to get probably 2 million viewers, but Joe, we're not paying you.

What, what would you imagine your reaction might be?

[00:30:11] Joe Casabona: Yeah. That's a really good question and a really good way to put it. And based on a previous experience, I would say yes. Because I've, again, most of my speaking of events have been unpaid and I do the. Cost benefit analysis.

And I think I mean, even, even with the page builder summit, I think the first time I spoke because I had my beaver builder course the second time I didn't. Because I I didn't feel like my goals at the time were aligned with the audience I was getting in front of, we'll say it that way.

And then this most recent time, I had the master full site editing course and spoke about full site editing. Which another thing that we can talk about right is selling to a largely free audience. Because I think that there's other things too, that I cover there, but I would, I would say yes, in most situations, especially if it's you know, something that I know I can speak about really well.

Because that's the other thing I've been invited to two events where it's I want you to talk about this. And I'm like, I can't, I don't think I could talk about. Or it would take a lot of time for me to put a talk together about whatever the subject is.

[00:31:34] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I guess, does there literally are two sides to this coin in the sense that, if, if somebody would just love to, they're just desperate to find a new audience and they're into the stuff that we're putting content out about, then it might work for them.

And obviously, we've had a lot of discussion around what the price point might be. And in some cases that works for them. If you know that they're happy with the setup that we've got. And in other cases, like you said you may be willing to go onto a major TV network and so on, but the opposite will, of course be true.

If I, if I try to attract, I literally can't think of anybody famous right now, but name somebody famous. I don't know, some film star and I asked them to come on my podcast. I know the reaction is going to be just, not only because you're off, let's say that I could grab somebody super famous and I had a podcast about, I dunno, talent or booking, super famous people or something.

I'd still find it difficult because there's a real mismatch for where I am at in terms of my content journey and the audience numbers and the prestige that I've got and that guest, and I guess it's trying to marry those two things up and we're just trying to figure that out.

[00:32:51] Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And I'll give a perfect example, actually.

Peter Holland is a popular YouTuber. He has over 2 million subscribers on YouTube. He makes his living off of YouTube and his videos are highly produced. These are not like things that I'm filming with my, for one, my 4k camera which is already really good. Like my camera looks better than most people's camera.

He's got like multiple shots. And if you look at his behind the scenes stuff, it's like a final cut with like hundreds of tracks or logic with hundreds of tracks. And he makes his living off of YouTube. I reached out and I said, Hey, do you want to come on my podcast? And basically what his assistant said was normally we wouldn't, but Peter's launching a new creators academy.

And so it was beneficial for him to come on the show, right? Yeah. Yeah. So that's like an Andrew Warner talks about this too, in his book. Stop asking questions. You know, you want to look for these moments where it might be beneficial. John Warrillow is just on my podcast. He's like a best-selling author.

So, you know, he's just trying to get out to a wider audience and he didn't directly promote anything, but, he did set up a page specifically for my show where people could opt into learning more about subscription-based businesses. You know, I think it, it does depend. And so if I think this is an opportunity for me to get people on my list, or this is an opportunity for me add members.

And, and I will fully recognize that maybe I'm doing it wrong, right? Because again, most of the times I speak it's at free events, like word camps. And I have another point on this in a second, but most people aren't converting, right? They're coming for the free content. They don't want to pay for The paid content.

And, and I know that you've got people getting the power pack for a bunch of reasons or another, and I've heard, I've seen really good feedback about the power pack too. But in general, the people I'm getting in front of have not been willing to even buy the master full site editing course, which I thought would have been an easy.

Convert. Yeah.

[00:35:27] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I guess there's a, yeah, I guess it's a question of expectations, isn't it? And maybe, yeah, maybe it's a question of men messaging about those things prior. And we do actually try, I don't know how we compare because in all honesty, Joe, I don't really I've never been involved in running any other events.

And so I can't really have a direct comparison. Oh, over here we did it this way. And over here we did it this way, but I feel that it on the messaging side of things, I feel like we do quite well, in terms of his here's what needs to be delivered. Here's how it can be done all the up emails you the, the information about where you need to be and when we would like things and so on and so forth.

I think we do okay with that. And again, the reason I think that is because feedback from speakers who say, actually it was really well organized. I was on another summit just the other week. And it was it was like two different worlds. Yeah, but I dunno that there's definitely work to be done, but yeah.

[00:36:31] Joe Casabona: And, and it's tough. And I certainly, with yours I knew where I needed to be in when I needed to be there. What, what I do think right is in the, and I can't say it's specifically the WordPress space, but word camps have never been paid and like proudly. So like, even if you look at other events in the WordPress space, like there've been copy websites where it's obviously you don't get paid to speak at WordPress events.

And those organizers were given feedback that it's it's not obvious and you really should pay your speakers. So like they changed the wording. But I do think it's a mindset, especially in the WordPress space that, oh you just don't get paid to speak at events. But that's the mindset I'm trying to change piece.

Because I do think that if a speaker is delivering high value to for-profit event and you know, I don't know how many of the speaking events end up being for-profit, but yeah, I, I I just think that the people involved should be paid. If we look at an event apart, they pay their speakers and coach their speakers like their speakers are compensated very well because it's a high value, also high dollar event.

So, you know, I think that's maybe another aspect of it. Maybe if I speak at more. Events where the attendees have to pay. Maybe I'm more likely to get paid. Yeah,

[00:38:20] Nathan Wrigley: I guess maybe we'll wrap up the sort of payment side of things, but I guess we, we message clearly that, it is free and you're very, it's okay.

You can just decline at that point. And but you, you know what you're getting yourself in for, but that was really curious. You just said about the what did it, what did you say it was called an event apart? I confess, I don't know about that one. They actually coach the speakers. Do they, how does that work?

Do they send you a video about what the video ought to be like or how you ought to, I dunno, is it like the dress code or the type of audience they're going to be in front of? And yeah,

[00:38:59] Joe Casabona: so I'm not a hundred percent on the details. These are just things I gleaned from attending those events.

But yeah, from what I understand, they encourage you to rehearse and review the slides and design the slides so that everybody delivers. Th, they coach you to start with a story. Cause that's the best way to start off a talk and things like that. So like, yeah, they give you pointers and feedback on your talk.

And I will say I spoke at a TEDx event in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and it was the same. Now this was free. This was not paid cause Ted famously doesn't pay their speakers either. It's the prestige of speaking in a tenement or a TEDx, which they also are very keen on, on distinguishing. I can't say I spoke at a Ted event.

I spoke at a Ted X event. But yeah, I had to actually rehearse the talk twice in front of the organizers. Wow. And you they gave feedback and coaching and cause they want you to memorize the talk to, and it's usually not slides. So you know, the, I think that Yeah. And, and and event a part is like 1500 bucks to attend.

And in person. So that's, again, that's a high dollar event. They're curating their speakers. There's I think six, five or six over the course of two days. I'm sorry. There's five or six each day for two days. So you know, different from a free virtual event that has multiple tracks and a five day event.

And so I guess I'm just thinking about speakers in the virtual space or speakers in the WordPress space. I have been conditioned to think about speaking a certain way, but they don't need to be, I asked somebody to come up. I asked a YouTuber to come on my podcast and she was like, I charged 200 bucks.

And I was like, okay, when I am ready, I said, when I am ready to invest that in, in guests, I will reach back out. And I'm circling back to that. I might be ready to do that now, but that was totally unexpected. But in the YouTube space, yeah, I'm, you're going to pay me if I'm a big. You're going to pay me to make an appearance either on your channel or on your podcast.

[00:41:24] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. The eight is really curious. All of that. There's so many different things. I'm just going to like bullet point some of the things that you mentioned in your article cause some of them are really not what we've strayed into, which is quite, there's still quite a lot to talk about. So you mentioned how you can coach people to be able to deliver a good talk.

I guess if you're in the Ted X or the Ted thing, or I'm guessing an event apart as well, you are literally doing it live you're on stage. They can't possibly afford for you to be a train wreck because you've got to have exercised the demons of nerves before you stand up there for the very first time.

Ah, I actually am no good at public speaking. You need to have proven to yourself that's key, that you're capable of that. I was slightly different everything's video. So you get a million tries at it. If you really want a million trust. It's curious, actually we, several presentations we got submitted and then poll.

Quite close to the deadlines. And in some cases after the deadlines, because the speaker decided they want it to change a portion of it. And there's no way of doing that apart from just pulling the video and redoing it, or at least re-editing it, in some cases. So that does happen sometimes, but we don't, we don't get into the mire of here's.

Here's how we want you to deliver it. We simply say, look, it's a, it's a WordPress thing. This'll be what the audience makeup is. They would probably appreciate if you're talking about a page builder that, if you're doing something technical, show them the screen, allow them to, have time to dwell on it.

The nice thing about video of course, is that you can just pause it. You can rewind it if you didn't catch something the first time. And so you can deliver that. Technical expertise that, whereas in a Ted talk it's narrative mainly isn't it, you're just running through some facts and hoping that some of them will stick.

But with this, you can literally go back. How did he do that? How did she do that? How did, how was that done? I'm just going to go and, okay. All right. Okay. Rewind, pause, rewind, pause, and so on. But we, that, that is the sort of level of the coaching that we do. Go, into the whole let's coach you how to create the video.

We just have almost the expectation that you will, if you've signed up for the event, figure out how to use Camtasia or whatever app that you're going to do that with.

[00:43:47] Joe Casabona: Yeah. Yeah. And, to, to your point, I think again, you're very forthcoming about the expectations in the beginning.

I knew before I signed up what I was signing up for. But you I've also, I, I've been to events where the talk was a train wreck And so now virtual events I mean virtual events too, but I'm talking about in-person events, right? Where I think the best thing I've ever seen, one of the best things I've ever seen a word camp do was it was WordCamp DC, 2017.

They basically allowed, they asked some of the more experienced speakers, myself included if they wanted to coach newer speakers. So I was paired with a speaker and I worked with her to go over her talk and start with a story. And then she rehearsed it for me. And I was happy to volunteer my time there because I.

I like helping people do that. And I was asked and and they did a great job delivering the talk. It was two women who worked at this government organization. And so I would love, love, love to see, I think more of that as far as helping speakers deliver a good talk, I think most PE speakers probably don't know.

For example, start with a story, right? Yeah. Most people say hi, my name is Joe. I'm a blah, blah, blah. And today I'm going to talk to you about the exact title of my talk and okay. Those are things that we either already know or don't care. You did awesome.

[00:45:23] Nathan Wrigley: You told us about Orson Welles. I did.

[00:45:25] Joe Casabona: I did. And you know what, and I put a lot of time into thinking about the story I could tell that was, I want to find one that's analogous to the overall point. I'm trying to make. That was a nice and one this gripping. Thank you. I, yeah, I, I like to play, I haven't told that one before. It usually I can pull from like Disney or star wars.

But I don't know. I dunno how the Orson Welles story jumped out. It was good.

[00:45:51] Nathan Wrigley: Directly related to what came next. It wasn't tenuous at all. Anyway, the point there is, I totally remembered it. I knew I didn't want to go and watch that again for the purpose of this, for this.

Thank

[00:46:03] Joe Casabona: you. And, and similarly, the first time I ever saw Chris lemme speak, and he's the one who like, made it really clear to me that I should start with a story. So like I had the benefit. A good speaker teaching me. The first time I ever saw him speak was at PressNomics too. And he opened with a story about Reggie Jackson, which I'm a huge Yankees fan.

Reggie Jackson basically powered the Yankees through there has 77 and 78 world series wins Mr. October. And he's talking about how the Yankees brought in this star and he was amazing and he brought the Yankees world series, but then he goes to LA and he doesn't do the same thing for them.

And it's more or less when you're building a team, you gotta build a team that works well together. You can't just bring in a superstar and accept that and expect them to fix the team. And then he talks about how to put together a good team for your agency. So like the story hooks. And then you're listening to him the rest of the time

[00:47:10] Nathan Wrigley: he got you.

The first couple of words you

[00:47:13] Joe Casabona: talking about Reggie J and

[00:47:14] Nathan Wrigley: that's it, the guy next to you was like, nah, Reggie Jackson. Again, I hate the why always about Reggie Jackson, but that's really interesting. The here's another right, totally just changing the direction of this completely. Imagine that you're doing this for the first time.

And you mentioned that you're going to be doing this for the first time in a minute. One thing that is interesting about the WordPress space is that there's a very limited pool of kind of sponsors and things and sponsorship, as you will find out, I'm sure is a really big component. We're lucky in the WordPress space, a know who the sponsors are, the who are available.

There's a handful. There's not a handful. There's more than a handful, but you could list off. I'm sure if I gave you a pen and a paper and said, write down 20 sponsors who you're going to approach for your next event. I bet you could do it without a moment's thought. And also, I bet that you will get favorable results from them because our w we're, we've got this lovely little insular community and it's easy, but if you're doing something for the first time and you're putting on an event like this, or some sort of summit, and you're not, you don't really have that set of companies that you can call on because it's something much more generic.

Let's say that you're doing something. Oh, I honestly don't know. Let's say about a hundred dogs or something like that. Yeah.

[00:48:38] Joe Casabona: I can give you I'm thinking about doing a podcasters summit, specifically, a summit to help podcasters make money. And I don't have nearly the connections I have in the podcasting space that they do in the workplace.

Yeah.

[00:48:55] Nathan Wrigley: So this immediately throws into question like the weather, whether or not it's worth it. In other words, do you put on this event as a loss leader, do you at the outset say, okay, I'm going to sync. 50 hours, a hundred hours of my time into it. Plus I'm going to be willing to spend X amount of money because the I'm not expecting too many people to buy any upsell that I've got, or I'm not really expecting to get to gain much in terms of sponsorship, because I think this is a real thing.

You, you and I, we're both very lucky. You are going to obviously have to expand your parameters a little bit in terms of the podcasting thing. And you're going to have to find new sponsors and that will be a fascinating journey. But if you were to do that inside the WordPress space, you would probably find it easier.

But I do think that people who are doing this for the first time and it's almost like summits have become the thing right there, the really suddenly a thing. So loads of probably a lot of emails and messaging flying to people who might be sponsors and they've got to sift out the ones that they're interested in.

So really what I'm trying to say there is that it might be a struggle for somebody who's never done this before to make it worthwhile and that you might have to just figure out, okay, I'm going to lose money on this first one and just hope that it works out on the next one or figure out I'm not going to make any money.

I'm not going to do it.

[00:50:23] Joe Casabona: Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly. You I think you see the same thing in the podcast space to a much smaller scale because the costs aren't as great. But you know, people start a podcast and they're like, how am I, how's this thing gonna make money. And so you're absolutely right going in.

If you're going to plan a virtual summit, this is why I haven't just gone off and done one. Cause I technically, I absolutely know how to do it. It's about the positioning. Who am I going to get? What's the benefit for me? What's the benefit for people speaking. And so if, for example, and again, part of the reason I wrote this as to hold myself accountable, but also a lot more people are holding virtual summits.

And if you're listening to some of the people who are teaching about virtual summits, they're gonna basically talk about how the speakers can be unpaid labor for you, where they bring the content, they bring the audience and they sell for you. And I don't think that is a fair assessment. Again, I don't think this is something that you do, but I don't think that's a fair way to treat the speaker.

I think the speakers one and only job, whether you're going to pay the speaker or not the only expectation that bit should be put upon the speaker. It's to deliver a good talk because you are a person, let's say I am organizing the event. If I'm not paying my speakers and I'm prom, and then my promise should be to bring the audience you're giving me the content.

I'm going to put you in front of eyeballs, that you can then sell to those eyeballs or wallets, sell to your eyeballs. A super weird thing to say. So, you know, I don't think that the speaker is also the marketing team or the sales team. I

[00:52:19] Nathan Wrigley: think it would be really fascinating to, let's say a year from now and you've managed to do your first event.

It'd be really interesting to read. This podcast again, in light of the things that you've learned, and it may be that you've hit a bunch of different trip wires that you totally didn't anticipate in the feedback, in areas where you thought I've nailed that people come back and say, Joe, what were you thinking?

And in other areas where you think, oh, I'm a bit nervous about this. People have come and said that was stellar, really enjoyed that, but absolutely fascinating to see if any anything's changed on the tail end of doing this event, because what I can guarantee is you'll get a lot.

Cause I know you, and I think that you're incredibly you know, you don't just wing it, you plan and you prepare and you execute, but there's, you're gonna mess something up that's guaranteed. And it'd be interesting to see what those things are.

[00:53:19] Joe Casabona: I think that's a great idea. Cause first of all I think anybody who knows me knows I'm absolutely willing to admit when I'm wrong, but this could also.

This could also be a you know, how people who don't have kids talk about what kind of people parents should be. And then you have kids and you're like I obviously didn't know what I was talking to him about. So it could be one of those situations, right? Where I'm like, I'm talking about the things that I think virtual event organizers should.

And then I'm like, oh, now I'm like $10,000 in the hole. Cause I didn't know what I was doing. Yeah,

[00:53:57] Nathan Wrigley: that I can just more or less guarantee that you won't probably find yourself in that position, there'll be little things where some expected unexpected email comes in and somebody's really ticked off about some aspect of the way it's run because we can get a couple of those.

And they're really curious to read because for the one that comes through that's negative, we might have three or four that are entirely the opposite and you can't please everybody all the time. It's just the way it goes. So tried our best. We continue to refine our process. You'll figure out your own process.

And and it'd be interesting to see if at the end of it, you think should have done that

[00:54:37] Joe Casabona: differently. Yeah. Yeah. And certainly I will. And I think, I know, I know a bunch of virtual event organizers. I know you Brian Richards is a close personal friend of mine I'll. B talking to him probably as well, but yeah, I think you're, I think you're absolutely right.

And you know, this is definitely this article again, I want to say it is definitely more from a speaker's perspective. And you know, as far as the idea of the ideal customer avatar right. As if you're talking to a specific person, I was definitely talking to one, one to three specific persons.

Yes. About the way I've heard them talk about their speakers. And again, I don't think that, I don't think that you think of your speakers as free labor. And obviously you run a huge event, right? It's it feels like 24. By five. It feels

[00:55:43] Nathan Wrigley: that way. I think we had two speakers on this time and just try to start off and report yes.

Plus about five different panels. And then we had co-working sessions and put it this way. When you get to the end of the week, you are ready for that beer.

[00:55:57] Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And so I think my approach would be different. It would be a single day. It'll probably be six to eight speakers.

And I already have my goals. I have my KPIs in mind for what would make this a win for me. But you know, I think that every virtual event organizer obviously needs to do that. And when it comes to speaking speakers do need to think about what makes it a win for them as well. So notice in the article, we talked mostly about paying speakers, but I leave that until last.

Because I know that not every event organizer will be able to pay their speakers. But I hopefully the thesis that comes through is if you're asking the speaker to speak, enable them to give the best talk possible. And I, you I started off with a story about if you've ever been asked for a favor, right?

Oh, can you help me move? Oh on your way over, can you pick up coffee? Oh, now can you drive me to the realtor so I can get the key,

[00:57:16] Nathan Wrigley: right.

[00:57:17] Joe Casabona: Yeah. Yeah. So I don't even ask people to pick me up from the airport anymore. I'm like, I'm an adult. And so, you I think that if you're a speaker, no, make sure that you're aligned.

Cause I think my problem has just been like, yeah, I'll speak here. Hopefully I'll get people to my mailing list or hopefully I'll get people signing up for, buying my course, but that generally doesn't work out. And that's, that's on me. I think that ultimately we should make sure the speaker delivers a good talk because that's going to be best for the speaker.

That's going to be best for the event organizer because you're enabling that. Or you're curating really good. That you're going to want people that people will come back to later. Yeah.

[00:58:08] Nathan Wrigley: I love stuff like this. This is just so interesting, because you, you write this article by, as you've described it, pure coincidence.

It matches the timing of when our stomach came out and then we ended up having an email exchange about it. And we're like, we should do a podcast about this. Cause this is fascinating. You've got this opinion on this side and I might have a different opinion. I've, I think this has been really interesting.

I've really enjoyed it. I've definitely got some key pointers to take away because you've expanded on what's in the article. I would just have to see how things go in the future. I CA I can't honestly make any promises because I don't know how it will.

[00:58:49] Joe Casabona: Oh. And I w I mean, even if we do rough numbers let's say that you had 40 speakers and then panels let's just say you had 50 people that you had to pay, at 200 bucks, you're looking at. Let's see, that's 10 grand. So so, I, I, again, I think that a token of, and again, I think a token of appreciation is the important thing here. And not, not expecting too much of your speakers. Again, I never felt pressure to join or use the affiliate program.

I never felt pressure from you to share it on social media. Cause this is the other thing, I've gotten pitches from people who are like, and you have to share this on your social media, you have to do a dedicated newsletter. And I'm like, that's

[00:59:43] Nathan Wrigley: in the actual oh yeah. Oh really? Oh

[00:59:47] Joe Casabona: yeah. Oh gosh.

Maybe we should've started with this. I'd just buried the lead. There are event organizers out there who will say, if you're going to speak at this event, you're also going to have to. Three newsletters where you promote the event. One of them is going to be dedicated to your talk at the event. And I'm basically like, I'm not doing any of that check up.

I have no idea. Aaron Flynn would be a good person to ask because she has definitely seen this more. That's

[01:00:13] Nathan Wrigley: fascinating. Okay. All right. I'm getting a real window now into yeah, we should, but let's press stop and we'll start again. No, let's not. That's really interesting. Okay. Okay. I'm getting a window, more of an insight into the person on the other side, who might behave differently.

Okay.

[01:00:32] Joe Casabona: Man, I don't usually do cold opens, but maybe I'll just cut this part and put it at the beginning so that people, so it sets the tone, at least for the people listening.

[01:00:41] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Honestly, absolutely fascinating. Janell. We've been talking for 57 minutes and it feels

[01:00:48] Joe Casabona: I know we like we covered so much ground and it doesn't feel, it doesn't feel like we've been talking this long, but we I think we should probably wrap this up.

Maybe we can each in at least American style debate format, maybe we can each get one minute to make our final points. Does that work for you?

[01:01:08] Nathan Wrigley: I'll go for that. I can't promise it will be any good, but I'll do my best. All

[01:01:13] Joe Casabona: Do you want to go first or second? All right. I will make my final point then.

Obviously, organizing any event virtual or in-person is really hard. A lot of work goes to it and there absolutely needs to be a cost benefit and a time benefit for the organizers. I don't think that an organizer should put themselves in the whole trying to do things. Pay the speaker, but if you're going to ask somebody to speak, especially for free, then you should also be respectful of the time that they are donating to you to put on a good event.

And if you are, if you're asking somebody to speak at your event, then you should enable your speaker to do that one job as best as possible, because it is going to be the best for your event. And it's going to be the most beneficial to the speaker as well. Okay,

[01:02:05] Nathan Wrigley: nice. I would just say, yeah, if you are thinking about being a speaker at these events and you feel pressured in the same way that Joe just described, that there's all sorts of things that they want you to do then that, that to me, doesn't sit very right.

And I hope that we don't try to do that. We have a model where we invite people, we ask them and we make it very clear. I hope that the model is. Please provide a video and be available for one hour. We offer you ways of making that worth your while financially, but it may just be that the, the requirement for you is not financial.

It may be that you would simply like to contribute to the summit, or it may be that you feel that it would be nice to get in front of a new audience or be a part of something different for a change and B be discovered and make some content and push yourself in that direction. So if that's the case kind where we sit.

We haven't as yet done the paying for the speakers, but we do try to make it profitable in a variety of different ways. And we try to be thoughtful and kind, and not try to take advantage. And if any of the speakers who are listening, feel that I've missed step there. Please let me know. But hopefully the page builder summit will carry on.

[01:03:26] Joe Casabona: Awesome. Nathan, this has been, gosh, I should probably do more podcast episodes like this, because this was a lot of fun.

[01:03:35] Nathan Wrigley: Absolutely the same. Yeah. That's brilliant. A nice kind of adversarial, but quite polite debate. That was lovely. I enjoyed that a lot.

[01:03:43] Joe Casabona: Thank you. Yeah. Last a reasonable discourse. I don't think we see enough of that in the world these days as far too much

[01:03:50] Nathan Wrigley: coming down the pipes these days.

Yeah, I enjoyed that tremendously. Thank you.

[01:03:55] Joe Casabona: Awesome. Nathan, from my feed if people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?

[01:04:00] Nathan Wrigley: At WP Builds.com? I do have a Twitter handle. It's at WP Builds, but I have no idea how to use Twitter. So probably just go to the.com and right back at your, where do we find you, Joe?

[01:04:13] Joe Casabona: Yeah, you can find this show and all of the show notes [email protected] And if you want to give me your reasonable. Discourse polite opinions. I'm on Twitter and most social networks at J Casabona.

[01:04:29] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you very much, indeed. Okay. I hope that you enjoyed that podcast. Like I said, at the top, a little bit of a different one, it was recorded for both Joe and the WP Builds podcasts.

So very strange. We have both we're taking the lead and both trying to ask the questions, but maybe you've got some clarity out of this. Maybe you're an attendee of these events. Maybe you're an event organizer, or you're thinking about speaking or have spoken. And this crystallizes in your head, your expectations in terms of being paid, is it enough to have a new and fresh audience with which you've never been acquainted before?

Or do you feel that getting financial reward is an expectation, which is what. I would love to hear your thoughts. Go to the WP Builds.com website. You're looking for episode two six to leave a comment there or go to our Facebook group. WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook. And you could leave a comment there.

I think this episode deserves some commentary, but it was very nice chatting to Joe Casabona on this episode. Okay. We will be back next week. Next Thursday will be the dates for the podcast episode. It'll be one between David Walmsley and I we're doing our WordPress business bootcamp. And hopefully you're enjoying that so far.

Also we'll be back every Monday life for the, this week in WordPress show, you can find [email protected] forward slash live 2:00 PM UK time, every Monday, myself and some notable WordPress guests will be live on the call talking about the WordPress news from the previous week. And then we released that on Tuesday.

So there's a lot going on. I hope that you have a nice safe week. Hopefully at some point we'll communicate with each other. That would be really nice. But before then here comes some dreadful, cheesy music, and I will say, stay safe. Have a good week. Bye for now.

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