276 – Creating online courses fast with Wishlist Member’s new Courses add-on

Interview with Tracy Childers and Nathan Wrigley

So online courses are all the rage. We know that. Especially since Covid struck, people have been looking for ways to create extra revenue from the knowledge that they have, and well, courses are a good way to do that.

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There’s literally heaps of solutions out there, but today we’re interviewing Tracy Childers from Wishlist Member, about their new Courses Add-on.

Wishlist Member has been around for years, in fact I think that it’s right up there with a few others as one of the oldest membership site solutions for WordPress.

We talk about the history of the plugin; how it got started, why they decided to take a punt on a small but growing CMS, and how it’s been going for the last decade.

We then get into the courses add-on which allows you to create courses.

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All products need a UVP, some kind of reason to exist. If there’s nothing about your product which makes it worthwhile, then… erm… it’s not worthwhile! The courses add-on has the UVP of ‘speed’. They claim that you can have a course up and running in a matter of minutes, assuming that you’ve got all your course content created!

This will get you a well designed layout, which I suspect for most people will be sufficient. If you’re really into customisations, well, there’s options for that as well. We get into how you can customise the layouts, especially in Elementor, Gutenberg and with some widgets which are included, or coming soon.

These are the areas that we cover in the podcast:

  • Options to customise the interface? Blocks / Elements / Widgets (coming soon)
  • Templates – are there any to get us started?
  • Progress tracking – what does that look like and how does it work?
  • Course previews – way to show what a course contains
  • Quizzes
  • Gamification
  • Badges
  • Page Builder support
  • Pricing – how us the pricing structured?
  • Server load – can you run this on a modest server?
  • Any unusual uses that Tracy has come across

We don’t often get a scoop on the WP Builds podcast, but if you stay tuned to the last quarter of the podcast there certainly is one. It’s about the future of Wishlist Member and how the product is going to be run in the future and by whom. I’m not doing a spoiler alert, you’re just going to have listen to the end to find out more!

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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. So the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your hosts David Waumsley, Nathan Wrigley.

Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once again, you've reached episode number 276 entitled creating online courses fast with wishlists members. New courses. Add on it was published on Thursday, the 28th of April, 2020. My name is Nathan Wrigley. And as always a little bit of housekeeping just before we begin, I suppose the first thing I ought to mention is the fact that the page builder summit is coming around.

We're going to be doing a version four of the page builder summit. It's happening from the Twitter. To the 24th of June, 2022. Let me say those dates again, 20th to the 24th of June, 2022. And we've got the website up and running the website at the moment is just to give you an indication of the speakers who've been confirmed.

And there's some lovely ones in there. Some fresh new faces and some old friends coming back for another round as well. You can join our wait list by clicking the pink button on that website. That will allow us to keep you updated as, and when the tickets go on sale, you can find all of that. At page builder, summit.com that's page, build a summit.com and we would love to have your participation in that summit later on in.

Another thing to mention is if you enjoy the WP built podcast, please feel free to share it. Our Twitter handle is at WP Builds. Please give us a nice review on your podcast, player of choice. That always helps. And if you want to stay in touch, go to WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe. And over there, you're going to find some choices of newsletters.

I recommend that you sign up for both. One of them will tell you about deals that we find out about. And the other one will just tell you about content, which is the podcast that we create now on a Thursday. That's what you're listening to now. And also the, this week in WordPress show, if you don't know about that one, that's a really fun conversation.

It happens live. 2:00 PM UK time every Monday. And then we put it out as a podcast episode on Tuesday. So it should come into your feed if you subscribe, but we always enjoy it when people show up it's me and typically three other WordPress's live on the screen and we try to put as many of the comments that you suggest onto the screen as well, really enjoy your participation.

So that's WP Builds.com forward slash live. And the last one. WP Builds.com forward slash deals. The deals page is a bit like black Friday, but every single day of the year, it loads of money off percentages off coupon codes for plugins themes blocks, hosting the lot, go and check it out. It's all searchable and filter.

Okay. What are we talking about today? We're talking with Tracy Childers, all about wishlist member, but not the wishlist member membership plugin, which has been out for ages where instead talking about a new courses out on the course is out on, as I say is new. It's an LMS, it's a learning management system and it enables you to set up courses on your WordPress website.

The point of it is speed. Tracy makes the point over and over again that you can do things really fast. If you're happy with the layouts that they've got, then you can get up and running really quickly. In a matter of minutes, they claim also we talk about the options to customize the interface templates that they've got.

The fact that. Progress, this quizzes, gamification and page builder support there's loads going on here and slightly unusually. We've got a bit of a scoop. We never have scoops in this podcast, but may I recommend that you stick right to the end of the podcast because there's a little bit of a scoop about the future of wishlist member.

Who's going to be in charge and what the roadmap is. So I hope that you enjoy the podcast. I am joined on the podcast. By Tracy Childers. Hello Tracy.

[00:04:19] Tracy Childers: Hello, Nathan. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

[00:04:22] Nathan Wrigley: You're very welcome. It occurs to me. We spoke probably, I dunno, I reckon we've done about 15 minutes before we click the record button, something like that, which we typically do just to get to know the guests and so on, but it occurred to me that I did not ask you where you are from and where you're recording from today.

So that's my first question, but I'll okay.

[00:04:41] Tracy Childers: I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and shortly after college I got married and I moved to Memphis, Tennessee. And we were here for quite a long time. And for some crazy reasons, we ended up moving to park city. Utah, which is a little ski town and with the intention that it was going to be for one year and one year only, and that one year quickly turned into four years and then we moved back to Memphis, Tennessee.

So I, I am here in Memphis.

[00:05:15] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you. That's great. We're here to talk about wishlist products. I am sure you've heard of before. If you've been in the WordPress space for any length of time this year. It feels like you've been doing this. Forever in terms of WordPress, when did you actually launch the company?

Was it you that launched the company in? It

[00:05:35] Tracy Childers: was it was back in 2008 and it was myself and a very close friend who was my business partner named Stu McLaren. And we started with one. Employee and his name was Mike Lopez and he is now our lead developer. And he's become a partial business partner of mine after Stu went on to do some other things in terms of his training business.

And so that's us. And just to put it in perspective, Nathan, you said, it seems like forever back in 2008 there was a company. Called WooThemes WooCommerce. I remember them and put it even more into perspective for everybody that's back when Katy Perry was releasing her first song and lady Gaga was coming on the scene.

So it was a long time ago, for

[00:06:35] Nathan Wrigley: sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Just to give us some context about that. It's nothing to do with the podcast in general, but was it. Thing trying to get a commercial product launched in the WordPress ecosystem at that time. Now you know that when you come to WordPress, you are talking to millions, but back then, was it less optimistic?

Was it more of a grind? More difficult?

[00:06:57] Tracy Childers: Yeah, it's a fantastic question. And I can tell, this space very well. So if you go back there. This is actually how the whole idea evolved was, interesting. I just mentioned WooThemes and back then they had a membership and if you paid to join their membership, you got a new theme every month.

And there were some other companies that were starting to follow that model. But really there were not hardly any. Premium plugins. And so our original concept is we need to be the first membership that creates a plugin, every. Because plugin there, there's only two things, right? There's themes and there's plugins, and nobody is doing this with plugins.

So naturally in order to do that, we needed to create a membership platform. And so that's where we started. Our first plugin was going to be wishlist member and that would run our business so that we could create monthly plugins. And we had no. Idea how big the demand was for a true native WordPress plugin to run a membership site.

Because back then there weren't a lot of options. Yeah.

[00:08:15] Nathan Wrigley: It was quite a bold move in many ways, launching back then, because there was no, no knowledge that, it could have been Drupal, it could have been Joomla. It could have gone in any direction. And you sunk your stuck your flag in the sand with WordPress and the rest, as they say is history.

I can't remember whether you said this a moment ago, or whether you said it prior to pressing record, but you did say that your team is now 17, so you're on really from ground. Been a let's say a profitable journey along the.

[00:08:47] Tracy Childers: Yeah, it has been. And just to be honest there's also been some real challenges, if you go back then we didn't have really much competition at all. And we were really one of the first, I'm not saying the first, but one of the first premium plugins certainly. One of the first premium membership site plugins. And so we had people that were wanting to start a membership that didn't even know WordPress.

Didn't, now it's they go WordPress and then they say, oh, okay. What. Pieces do I need, in order to do what I want with work, dress back then people were saying, I just want to run a membership site. And they were becoming familiar with WordPress from the very beginning. And so you mentioned Drupal and Joomla.

And actually it was challenging Nathan because WordPress was certainly getting their momentum, but they were not. The clear cut leader like they are today. So consequently, we wrote the original code in a way that we could eventually run it as a plugin for Drupal and Joomla and all that, because we were looking out at what we thought was the vision of where everything was going.

And little did we know that there was this visionary named Matt Mullenweg at that really had a really clear vision. And so we didn't really understand the whole WordPress game and the whole thing with GPL and as things started growing. We even got on the naughty list because we did what any software developer thought they should do.

And we obfuscated our code. And that's a little bit different than encrypting your code when you encrypt it, you have to install something that, that let it run. We just obfuscated it. Okay. So any like true developer, they could have seen what was there, but just, we wanted to be really careful with just the customers that they wouldn't break the code.

And so we thought that was. Oh, smart move. And it turns out that's not how WordPress works. So it I transitioned, I think of it as I came over from the dark side and I finally saw so the real vision of WordPress and the brilliance of it and never. Ever think about doing anything with droop or Joomla anymore?


[00:11:31] Nathan Wrigley: I think it's fair to say that most of you have heard about wishlist member, if you haven't heard of wishlist member or indeed, if you just curious, because you've got a different solution, the URL speaks for itself. It is literally wish list member.com, no hyphens or anything like that.

Wishlist member.com go and check that out. If you want to look at the membership solution, we may straighten. Membership things a little bit later, but the purpose of this podcast today is to talk about something I'm going to say new. It may be that you've been grinding away at this for the last five years.

I don't know, but it's new to me. It's called wishlist courses or at least I believe it's called wishlist courses. Maybe it's wishlist member causes the URL is wishlist member.com forward slash guest, what courses. And that's what we're going to talk about today. We're going to talk about why, if you.

Some kind of learning management system need you, you want to just throw this into the cart to have a look at first things first you in your video, right at the top of the page, you go, the first pitch that you make is about the speed at which you can create courses. I don't know if that was intentional, if that is the UVP, but that was the message that I received.

Anyway. Tell us about the vision for that, because it feels like you want people to be up and run. A few minutes. Really?

[00:12:50] Tracy Childers: Yeah, really? Nathan, you said it's new. But maybe we've been working on it for five years. If you really dial back and look at the big picture we've been at it for almost 10 years.

Really? So what it is it's called wishlist member and it's the course is. If you recall earlier, and I said, we wanted to be a monthly plugin company. We actually did that and we ran a membership site and it was called wishlist insider for years and years. And part of that membership was that you got a new plugin every month.

And eventually it became a real challenge because I felt like we were turning out. Mediocre plugins and scrambling to get them done by the release date. And as soon as they were released, we had to jump to the next one. So we started creating all these plugins. And in that time there were a few that were really good and popular.

One of them was appoints, plugging. One of them was a badges plugin, and one of them was a Quizizz plugin. And so we set on top of those really the first version where we're created, eight to 10 years ago. But the courses, we were really trying to crack that nut because. It's obvious with the growth of LearnDash and tutor LMS, and all the different course or LMS plugins really.

We're living in a world where people have really good knowledge that they want to shut a share and potentially sell. And so you really need a good platform to do that on. And as I started digging into it I really became obsessed because I'm looking at all of these different things.

And even since a LMS is really one of the first ones. I think that actually was released way back in the day when it was still with themes and it wasn't truly WooCommerce and the big frustration on it was okay. I'm setting this up, but when I press go, it doesn't look like it's supposed to look.

And so that's where the speed issue came. It was like, it really shouldn't be this complicated if you have the content created already and you already have them in videos, you really should just be able to go through and type the name of the lesson. The description of the course and put a link and then basically hit publish and it should just look good right out of the box.

And so that's what we were really striving for. A wishlist member has a lot of integrations. We have a really strong integration with LearnDash tutor. Justin. Any LMS, like the top LMS is that you could think of, we, we have an integration with them. So I was even going that route. I was like, I don't think we'll ever build a true LMS and I just continue to get more and more frustrated because yeah, I could do this, but I couldn't do that.

And so finally I was like, just, we have to build our own courses. And so the course. What's the piece that really tied it all together. And so it took us almost a year in terms of actually building to really get it in. And it started, we planned on it to be a little bit small. Then what we initially released it at just because along the way we recognize, yeah, it has to do this and it has to do that.

And so it's super exciting because we're really just getting started with it because we've got a lot more ahead in terms of what we want to accomplish. Yeah.

[00:17:02] Nathan Wrigley: The, I love stories. I love the fact that, you were doing a whole bunch of stuff and there were missed steps along the way. And curiously the fact that you were releasing things perhaps on too tight of a schedule and what have you, but at least it gave you the, it gave you the background.

It gave you an insight into what people were wanting and because you had all these ad-ons, you were able to have data on. What do people actually want? What's popular. What are they using? And so on. And then out of that comes other things it's, although you look back and you might scratch your head, think why did we do it that way?

W it was know if you hadn't done it that way. Who knows? You may never have arrived. The conversation that we're having today and the product that you've got out. So the interface, I know it's tricky. Audio is always difficult for this kind of thing, but would you be able to just describe the process if I go and use the product, what am I actually doing to get a course going?

Like I said you claim that it's several minutes, which is great. What's the process to get the first lesson up on. Yeah.

[00:18:04] Tracy Childers: So let's back up just a little bit and talk about the whole we call it the courses add on, and I mentioned that there's points and badges and all that stuff. So we actually released those in modules because we recognized that not everybody.

May have a point system and not everybody wants to have badges and stuff. So we started off where you can just enable or disable any of the modules. So then, like I said, the real heart of it is the courses. And so the first thing you do is you go in and you say, I want to create a new course. And okay what's the course called and you just give it a name and then the next thing it says naturally you want to create a module and then you can type the name of the module and you can give it a description or you can put in a video there.

And then the next thing is the lessons and you create those in his same drill. So literally you click, I want to add one. What's the name? What's the video. And and then when you publish it's really all laid out in a simple interface and we designed it so that it would look the same way no matter what theme you are using and because that's where we found.

To be the biggest challenges. So that's what we're talking about within minutes. If you already have your content created, you really just gotta type in the information and click

[00:19:36] Nathan Wrigley: go, right? So you're filling out a couple of fields. You've hopefully spent a bit of time creating your super-duper course about, I dunno, whatever it might be, knitting or crocheting or something like that.

You got your videos made you come over you fill out some form fields. That's. Oh, don't even upload the video link to the video and you're done. That's great. In terms of customization, you know what WordPress is? I like, especially people who listened to a podcast like this are likely obsessed with it.

They're they're gonna look at the way that you've done it and I'm sure for most people that will be satisfactory. Yeah. Confess. I looked at it fairly closely on the website and I like it. It looks great, but there's going to be the crowd listening to this podcast going to go. Yeah. But what if I wanted to customize it?

And what have you, what if I wanted little bits of that to be slightly different? You've you talking on the website, I don't know if this is happened yet, but there's aspects of it, which you put into blocks or element or elements, or you mentioned widgets as well. Do you want to give us some insight into that?

Is it fairly easy to customize? And sure. So

[00:20:36] Tracy Childers: that's a, that's an excellent point. And here's what we recognize Nathan. Most people want to just have it be simple and look good. But we also recognize that there are a lot of people that want to get really deep down into customers. So the way that we built it is that you, these things that we talked about where you type in the name and a link and all those are all in our interface.

And now they ultimately get published on a custom post type in WordPress. And you really can go directly to that lesson. And we have a little button once you click it, you click here and you'll go into the WordPress editor and you can use any page builder to add other things on that lesson and they will show up now below your video.

So that's the first step in terms of like true customization. Yeah. We're handling most of this layout, the, what the end user sees. But if you want to, put an accordion there with your specific downloads for that lesson, you could build it out any way you want. So phase one.

Phase one also includes one single template. Phase two is going to have us giving you other templates, not themes, but templates, which are essentially the layouts of how your course. Phase three and along with phase two, we're going to have our own blocks. And in the widgets in there that you already can put these wherever you want.

Now, phase three is where you can truly use the page builder to move our elements around. And so that you could change the. The layout any way that you want. Oh, okay.

[00:22:39] Nathan Wrigley: So you'll have like element or elements, so you could drag the video to the right comments or whatever it might be to the left and whatever you want.

Put it anyway. Okay. That's interesting. It's fascinating to me. It looks. If I stare at the last five years of just everything that's to do with WordPress, I think the word that Springs to mind is templates in Gutenberg. We're calling them, patterns, but basically it's the same idea. You've got a pre-configured layout, which you can drop somewhere.

And you're good to go. It's just quick, easy repeatable. So do you have those and I don't necessarily mean in terms of layout, do you have other templates, like a typical course template where I don't know the modules get dropped in a certain order. So some way that you can scaffold the building of all the different bits.

[00:23:31] Tracy Childers: We don't have that right now, but that's what I'm talking about. That's coming and we're already working on things where you can go in and add something here and add something there. It'll take, a decent amount of time to get to where we really want to go longterm. But I'm with you. Like when you look at the last five years I guess fairly recently just become fascinated with history.

And if you go back and you just look at history, it can almost dictate what's going to happen in the future. So you can bet that I'm looking around at what everybody is doing and you're absolutely right. When you say seems like everything's going the way at the template. So we're definitely focused on that.


[00:24:14] Nathan Wrigley: You mentioned that there's a whole ton of different, I don't know what to, what words to use. I'm going to go for features. Let's go for features inside of the platform. So for example, We've got things like progress tracking, which I think we'll come back to as a first point in a moment you've got quizzes, gamification badges, and a whole load of different things, but start with progress tracking because before we hit record, you mentioned that was something which you felt from feedback from your customers was the most important bit.

That's curious to me I'm just wondering why that was the most important.

[00:24:53] Tracy Childers: Yeah, for some reason as we work, we've had thousands and thousands of customers and I actually buy all kinds of information products too. And I've, I buy almost everything, Nathan and I've, I just found that.

Myself included is did I watch this already? Or did I not? It's real simple. If that's the only thing that you're focused on is yeah, I'm just going through this and I'm going to knock the course out. But if it's a six hour course, it may take me, three weeks to get to it because I'm all.

Watching all these other things. And then I just forgot what I've watched and what I haven't. And it's I just found that it was the number one thing that people were asking about even to the extent that there was a plugin, I think it was called Debby completely. That got acquired in an acquisition.

And that was literally, it was the only thing that it did was provide a progress tracker and we were really close to building something similar to that. And it just really evolved. I was looking at that thing like five years ago. Really? Yeah. I guess if

[00:26:12] Nathan Wrigley: you're, if you're into creating courses the biggest thing that you want to do is get people from the beginning right through to the end.

That's your primary goal. And obviously it relies upon the content being any good, but the platform around it matters. As well, and if I disappear, I sit in the first four hours of your six hour course and I disappear and go off on holiday. It is really frustrating to come back and think, where was I?

In fact, so frustrating is that there's, I think there's a, quite a big chance that you'll drop off at that point because you can't really be bothered to figure out where you were so that. Does it seem yeah. Really important. Does the platform take action? If I'm enrolled as one of the people taking the course, does it figure out that I've not been around for very long and jolt me and notify me.

And certainly

[00:27:04] Tracy Childers: we don't have all of the things built into place so that you can send marketing messages. But we do have everything tie it in a way that you could set that up. So for example we've run our business with a system called infusion soft now called keep. And there's certainly so many others active campaign and all kinds of things.

But if you understand marketing automation, you can, as soon as somebody puts our complete 11. You could tie in and you could put them in a secret. And you could let them stay in that sequence for let's just say five days or three days. It really doesn't matter. And then after three days, that system could say, Hey, we noticed that you haven't logged in a while.

And so that system could do it in our system. If they finished another lesson, it would pull them out and put. So it gets into some sophisticated marketing automation for the people that really geek out on that stuff. The sky's the limit.

[00:28:11] Nathan Wrigley: You could waste the weeks of time, figure it out every possible comment.

Okay. So that's interesting you do it in that way. So you rely on the third party integrations. Yeah, that works. Okay. Let's go on to some of the other fun, little features, quizzes and gamification and badges. Let's cover off those bits. What's

[00:28:28] Tracy Childers: all that. They all tie in together, Nathan. And so just like I said, with the marketing automation with the third party system that's just for sending emails and things like that.

But as soon as you finish a lesson, you could give people points. If you finish a lesson or a module, or even an entire course, you could also assign them the badge and the whole thing with game of Cape. It's really crazy to even wrap your head around the ramifications of it. Cause when you start to understand that people will take action just so that they can have a digital badge so that they can just say, yeah, I have that badge.

It blows me away. I've done it myself. I told you earlier that I lived in park city, Utah, and Vale, the brilliant. They have their whole epic pass app on your phone. And I went out to do some crazy things on the map. Literally just so that I could have this little bad show up in my app that nobody else would even see, but I knew it was there.

[00:29:44] Nathan Wrigley: It is. It is interesting as well because it speaks to the quality of. Of the membership that you're offering, if you're not engaged in the community that you're running and the membership system that you're running, I'm guessing that those badges will probably fall by the wayside, if you're offering real value there and that badge is seen as important or the badge leads to something, it might be that you get a discount code or something.

The point is if there's enough value behind the bat, People will go for it. Won't they? And in your case, you do the veil thing and the mountain stuff because you see the value in that, even though everybody else would look and, oh, look, Tracy's got a badge. Great. But if you're in that ecosystem and you cultivate that membership system and you make it important, and those things matter, I'm guessing you can make those really.


[00:30:37] Tracy Childers: hundred percent because you hit it right on the nail, that nail right on the head, and anything is with all of those things, with the points and everything, you can also add them to a different membership level. And then when they are on that different membership level, you can do all kinds of things.

So literally in the same thing with the badges, People in the site can see your badges. We also have the points, so it has a system where you can create a leaderboard and people start to know the leaders in the community because they're the ones that have the most points, because you can assign that they get points when they comment on a post, when they do all kinds of things.

It's not just taking the course. But it's also we haven't really touched on in quizzes. Quizzes can be put into your course and then you can't maybe even go to the next bit of content until you've. That you were able to take the quiz. So it's all intertwined together.

[00:31:42] Nathan Wrigley: So you may nominally complete a module, but you can't advance to the next portion until you've proved that you can answer a series of questions, but y'all, don't have choice.

[00:31:55] Tracy Childers: We're in the middle of working on. And we were just, we just about when we initially launched the courses out on, we said quizzes was coming soon and we have released the quizzes. Yeah. But the next thing is what we call linear learning. And you can make sure that they can't go, they can't like jump around if that's the way that you wanted to control it.


[00:32:19] Nathan Wrigley: got it. So a always goes to B always goes to see until finally you get to X, Y, and while we say that, but you got the point. Yeah. Oh, that's okay. That's really interesting. And for many things, That would be a totally essential. You just don't want people scooting around and getting to the end because you just can't get to see unless you've passed three B that's good.

Yeah. Gamification is a term that I never really understand. I see aspects of it. I'm not a big user of mobile phone apps and things that necessarily do the gamification thing. Just give us an insight into what that even is. Maybe some concrete examples of what you've seen and.


[00:33:00] Tracy Childers: yeah, we already, I already gave you the one example of the epic mix app. And if I dial back, I think that gamification came on the scene, maybe roughly. 10 years ago are supposed to be where

[00:33:16] Nathan Wrigley: I'm supposed to be the first time I remember it. Yeah. I

[00:33:19] Tracy Childers: mean, it may have been around before that, but it, it just seems like that's when everybody started to really understand it.

Yeah. The whole thing. If you don't know what gamification is at all, it's hard to wrap your head around it, but ultimately it's about creating engagement and keeping people active in your course or your membership site. And a really good example of somebody who's made. I wanted to say millions, but probably billions Nathan off of gamification is Starbucks and Starbucks.

Everybody knows about the mobile app. You can order ahead and you can just pick it up, but they also let you earn points. And once you get a certain number of points, you can redeem those points for. Free coffee, free desserts. And so that's the same thing that we're doing with the points.

And it's we want you to earn these points and then we'll let you redeem them. And then where they really get it right, is that they track everything. And then they say, Hey. Tomorrow is double points day and come on in. And you're like, oh man, I haven't been there in a while. I definitely want to get the double points.

And then it's if you order this, then you will get that. And so they have just nailed it in my opinion. And there's more and more people that are following suit as well. It kind

[00:34:54] Nathan Wrigley: of, it just makes it if you do it right. And I'm guessing like with everything. Wishlist member solid product, but unless your course is good your, your, it doesn't matter what software you're using.

You got to have a good piece of content. It's the same here. The more effort you put into things like the game of vacation and try to figure out clever ways to keep leafing involved. I'm guessing that's the truth. You just have to spend time with it. Things that your community are going to want to interact with think of good prizes and things that you're going to be able to offer them.

And it may be, you double the reward on this day of the week or you do something different. That's something you're just going to have to do. You're going to double down on the effort that you put in to make your content desirable.

[00:35:39] Tracy Childers: Yeah. And I was going to say, I'll give you give away a little secret here in, and maybe it's not really a secret, but I think that most people don't know about.

When we go all the way back to 2008 and how we really got into this stuff, everybody was talking about membership sites back then, my previous software venture, everybody was talking about online video and I just knew, man, I had to have something. So I created online video, but now when you move forward with members, It really started around 2004, 2006.

People were really starting to talk about it. And that was ultimately, it was like the holy grail. Where you could build your business so that you had predictable income, you weren't always chasing a new customer. You were getting repeat customers. So then what I found is that so many people recognize, yes, I would love to have a business.

Yes. I would love to have predictable income, but then they were like, yeah, but how do I get people to trust me? To pay me. Like they don't even know me. We find that people like to buy things from people that they know and trust. And so then I was like you know what?

Ultimately the real secret is to have what we call a hybrid site so that you can sell them a course. It's not a huge. But through that course, you get to know them and then you get to start the engagement going. And then it, all of a sudden your monthly continuity membership is a no brainer where some people say it's just too hard to sell.

Other people say it's actually easy because my front end course does all the selling and it's not even really selling it. Go to the membership because they want to engage with me. And so I think that's one of the most exciting opportunities for people that are really getting into, infopreneurs or selling digital information is to have that hybrid type of.

[00:37:54] Nathan Wrigley: It feels like the course is product fits into a bigger, it's like one of the jigsaw pieces in the wider wishlist product group. Exactly. So it's just one part. And again, just before we hit record, you were talking about how. You can, I don't know. You might be able to sell the course and then fit them inside a membership or have a membership going and then be able to fit them inside the course.

So you've got a bigger structure and I could be wrong about this very well, maybe. I don't know, but it feels like most membership platforms don't do they or don't they offer the course platform parallel.

[00:38:33] Tracy Childers: If you look at the industry and you see who the leaders are certainly in the WordPress industry Chris lemma is probably who I would consider like the top of the, on it.

And, every year it goes through and he breaks down all the plugins and what things they do and what they don't. And that's actually one of his criteria. Can you create a content that can be sold in the form of a membership and courses, because, certainly if you think about some of the big, the biggest people in the industry, just courses, it's, like teachable and Thinkific stuff, and it's almost it's great because you can build something easily, as long as.

It fits exactly how they want you to build it. And so we've gone a little bit of a different direction. We want it to be easy for you, but we also want you to be able to build whatever you want, because we're talking about people use our product to build the type of sites that they would have to spend, over 10 to $20,000 to have a real, truly customized.

That did anything that they want. And we're trying to basically create a tool that says here, you could build that with wishlist member and the combination of a page builder that you like.

[00:40:07] Nathan Wrigley: It's a nerdy question I'm afraid, but I know I'm going to get asked because of the the fact that core web vitals is on the horizon welfare to Ben and garden.

It's in the background now, the the, and the audience of this podcast do like the technical questions from time to time. And so how have you found server load? There's a lot going on, we talked about. Courses and quizzes and gamification and badges and page builders, there's a lot there.

And how have you found that? And I know this isn't the SEO piece because the SEO will probably be done on the sales website that leads people toward the course website. But how, in terms of the kind of thing that you can put this on, like a $5 digital ocean droplet, or does it need to be something a bit more robust?

Is it pretty lean on the.

[00:40:56] Tracy Childers: Yeah, it's an important question for sure. And we get that a lot in to start with, I do geeking out on certain things. I had this point in my life where I thought that I wanted to be a coder and I wanted to do all this stuff myself, and then had this epiphany that.

I'm never going to be a great coder, but what I am good at is seeing what people want and then finding really great coders and tell them what we need to build. All that leads me to say is was a big concern or Hey we've talked to some people that didn't have had massive systems, with like potentially a million people.

And I was like, man, I don't know that it could handle the server load. Certainly everything in WordPress now benefits by having more processing power. But we have just kinda been a little bit obsessive of constantly making tweaks so that it could perform a little bit better here, a little bit better there because it wasn't always the top notch performance.

So once we released courses recently I was working with a real good friend of mine. Who's had a site for. Over 12 years running wishlist member a lot of people in it, Nathan and then they also have. 250 different membership levels because of the way that they control content. So you can imagine, and it was like, that thing is going to put it to the real test.

And the, these guys are real bright. He hires, he has a real high-end coder. On his side too. And he's man, I tried this and the thing just buckled. And so we started looking into it and digging in and we found oh, okay, now we have to re-engineer a little bit here. And so now even their site with thousands and thousands of numbers with you, 150 membership levels is still running very well now.

So I'm super excited about that. And just to see. Don't know could you get a $5 hosting account? We have a lot of people on WP engine and a lot of people on SiteGround and search. Digital ocean. It'll run really well on all of those.

[00:43:43] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. It's nice to, it's always nice to just get these questions out and at least know that somebody is feeling good about it.

We're heading into about 40 minutes, which is typically the sort of podcast episode length. But before we go, I'm just going to ask the, the roadmap staring into the future. Tell us about what's on the agenda for all of these different pieces in terms of the course platform and what have you, or maybe the wishlist member, wishlist products brand as a whole, what's going on in the.

[00:44:14] Tracy Childers: It's the term roadmap is a good one and we haven't always had what I would call a public roadmap. I kinda kept my eye on the whole industry and I would say, Hey, this is where I think that we need to be headed. And this is, I've seen this here and that. And then we actually realized, no, we need to have a public road.

And so I'm pretty sure it's right now it's at wishlist member.com forward slash roadmap. And that's where we say yes, we've already decided to work on. We're considering this and it also gives people the ability to share ideas. I think there's a tab that says ideas. So people submit those to us and I've really been blown away.

Nathan. I was like, wow, that's a good idea. And I don't know that I would have thought of that. And I'm also looking at all those things. Okay. How does that interact with this? And so it's very exciting. To think about what we've already accomplished, but then really recognize. And we're just getting started with this thing.

And so the future is bright and I have one other really big secret that I haven't shared with anybody else. And so hopefully I'm not letting this out too early. But as Last night. Wow. Just signed the paperwork to sell wishlist member and it's it's been a super exciting time for me.

Not because oh, I built this thing and I'm ready to go into retirement. My wife and I just recently became empty nesters. It's already a very exciting time for us in our lives.

[00:46:23] Nathan Wrigley: Do things again.

[00:46:24] Tracy Childers: Yeah, for sure. And it's not like I just sold this business to somebody that's gonna dismantle it and run it into the ground.

I sold it to a really close friend. That understands this industry inside and out. And I'm actually looking at it more in terms of a partnership because the fact that I was able to see. Too. He's put me in a position where I can let go of working on all the little things that were bogging me down and just really focus on big picture stuff so that he and I dream a bit.

And his name is Micah Mitchell. And there the company is going to be called member shipper and member shipper is the holding company for multiple brands. If you know the name, Mike Mitchell, you may recognize that he has built another product for membership sites called men barium. Yeah. So men barium is not going away.

People love min barium. It's a great product. But number shipper is a much bigger picture. Because it recognizes the whole thing and I'm just incredibly excited about. Working with him and building it all to take it to the next level. So

[00:48:06] Nathan Wrigley: I, I feel like we just got a scoop.

[00:48:09] Tracy Childers: It is. So hopefully this doesn't come out before.

Yeah. We'll have a conversation after we fit in record, just to make sure that we don't cross any boundaries there. Yeah. That's a good idea. Okay. That's really interesting. First of all, congratulations, that must obviously you wouldn't have done it unless there was a. Some happiness on the other side of that exchange of contracts.

[00:48:31] Nathan Wrigley: That's congratulate. I won't ask, but just well done, but you're obviously pleased with that. Are you sticking around?

[00:48:38] Tracy Childers: Yes. I am committed to one year. When I was a much younger guy right out of college, my father and I built a company and we sold it and I was running that company. And again, I was committed to one year.

I ended up sticking around for two years and I was just ready to get out and be in the technology field. And I've been doing. I guess you'd call it infopreneurs thing and all of this for well over 20 years now. And so the excitement is that I can stick around as long as I want to.

And the way my energy level has just been increasing over the last, few weeks and working this whole deal out, I just want to be really honest, Nathan sometimes people think, wow, that's just a glamorous thing to run a business. And, then you hear about the exciting times when people sell like good for them.

But what most people don't see is man, sometimes it's really challenging and it can take a lot out of. And when we rebuilt wishlist member, when I got it out the door, I was completely exhausted. And fortunately I was able to rebuild my energy and strength back to, to keep going and take us to the next level and get it's.

The course is out the door, but it took a lot of work to get this all out the door and now this whole thing is just giving me a huge boost of energy. So I think I'm going to be around for a lot longer than one year.

[00:50:37] Nathan Wrigley: The, this is nothing new in the WordPress space. Is it we've seen acquisition on upon acquisition in the low?

I honestly, I am, it became almost like a bit of a trope, didn't it? Oh, another WordPress acquisition, but it really. It seems that over the last few years, just about all of those have landed in the right place in that they, the product has kept going. The audience has been satisfied. Yeah. There may have been a few changes, a little, few hiccups messaging in certain particular cases that I can think of, but the fact that you're able to gain a bit of energy, the fact that you're able to hand it on to somebody who appears from everything that you've just said to have a great deal of experience in this space.

And it's, abling enabling you maybe. Take a bit of time out, take a back seat, bit more blue sky thinking on your part and all of that. We have plenty of examples to look at where that acquisition was the beginning of a new journey, not the end of the road.

[00:51:35] Tracy Childers: Definitely. Yeah. And you're absolutely correct.

There's been so many acquisitions and sometimes, there Yeah, kind of typical ones where it's, you got the big players that keep gobbling up a lot of different things. And this one seems to be a little bit different because we're seeing the vision. One of the things that was the biggest for me in terms of a whole.

Was really that the brand would continue to go on because if I just thought somebody was going to come in dismantle, I wouldn't have done it. But when you get to the right person and they really see the vision and they actually can push the vision even further than you thought was possible.

That's where the real magic happens. And so it's a good time me right now.

[00:52:32] Nathan Wrigley: Ah, what a nice way to end the podcast. Congratulations. Yeah. Hearty. Congratulations. That's brilliant. Thank you so much. I don't know whether your email address or Twitter handle will be the same by the time this come up.

Maybe you'll have a different email. I doubt it, but just in case people want to reach out to you. You can give us the website if you wish, but if you want to give us an email address or a Twitter handle, you can do that as well. Whatever. Sure.

[00:52:57] Tracy Childers: It's always a good question because people say, oh, hit me up on social media.

And I'm on LinkedIn and I'm on Facebook. I'm really not good with social media. In fact, I just started my Facebook account like two or three years ago. It. It's not the best way to reach me. The best way to reach me is probably just email me directly. If there was really something for us to talk about.

And my email address is Tracy T R a C [email protected]. Certainly our website, you mentioned earlier is wishlist member.com. And another way is if you file a support ticket, the team that was, which actually is how you reached me. Nathan, I think you created a support ticket.

I think that's where it got assigned to me. Because it was specifically, you wanted to talk to me directly, and then after that, that we made the first connection on the support system. And when I said email me directly and we all good school, I guess I

[00:54:08] Nathan Wrigley: couldn't be better. It's a, win-win, it's a complete win-win Tracy.

I've really enjoyed having you on the podcast today. Thanks for sharing all that news towards the end as well. And yeah, one last time, if you fancy going and checking out the new courses add on you're looking for wishlist member.com. Forward slash courses, Tracy children's thanks so much.

[00:54:28] Tracy Childers: Thank you so much, Nathan, one last word.

I just want to say thank you to you. Oh, and I also just the things that you have done with WP Builds and WP Tavern is like it's people like this that really make the WordPress space just continue to grow. Really want to say thank you to to you for all your hard work. And

[00:54:49] Nathan Wrigley: if I had a red emoji, I would use it at the moment.

We've got the steaming on the cheeks. Thanks so much. Cheers, Tracy. I appreciate

[00:54:57] Tracy Childers: that.

[00:54:57] Nathan Wrigley: I hope that you enjoyed that podcast. It was lovely chatting to Tracy all about wishlist member, but more specifically about the courses. If you're interested in leaving a comment, head over to WP Builds.com. Search for episode number 276, and you can leave a comment there or head over to WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook.

Join our Facebook group 3000 plus very polite word presses, and you can make some comments in. Just one little final reminder. I said it at the top of the show page builder, summit, number four, it's coming around 20th to the 24th of June. Check it out. Page builders, summit.com. Hopefully we'll see you next Thursday for a podcast episode or perhaps for the Monday, this week in WordPress.

Perhaps we'll see you then I hope so. If not, have a lovely week, stay safe. I got a fight in some cheesy music and safe bye-bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

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

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