Personally, I hate it when a freelancer or company, especially in the WordPress realm, has no personality or human touch to their website or brand. It feels stiff, corporate and unwelcoming.

Nowadays, more companies are realizing this and it shows me that I’m not the only one who feels this way. The team behind Gravity Forms (the WordPress form builder I’ve used since 2013) has realized this and recently made a big push to “humanize their brand.”

I’m super excited to bring on James Giroux, their community experience manager, who shares their content marketing plan and recent endeavor to put a more human and personal touch on their brand.

While Gravity Forms is a leader in the WordPress community and a legit company, the lessons James shares and what they’ve learned applies to us as web design freelancers and small agency owners as well.

I hope this conversation gives you the motivation, encouragement and proven tactics to personalize your own brand and website!

P.S. It’s one of the quickest ways to differentiate yourself from your competition 🙂

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction
04:07 – Greetings to James
07:16 – Process of becoming a CEM
14:26 – Like a good barbeque
18:09 – Coming up with a strategy
21:37 – Adjusting to generational shift
23:41 – Using the WP tool
26:00 – A collection of “Input” fields
30:14 – Push back on conversion content
34:10 – Where is the future audience
37:16 – Be smart about content
40:06 – Build content, plan and strategize
48:30 – Growing from strength to strength
53:03 – Practice helps
58:30 – Bulk content if possible
1:03:21 – Input expectations
1:08:34 – Dealing with the haters
1:12:54 – Connecting creativity w/purpose

Welcome to Input – Podcast


Connect with James:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #148 Full Transcription

Josh 0:14
Hey, friends, welcome into the podcast. This is episode 148. And I’ve got a fun and special episode coming up for you here because in this one I had the opportunity to interview James Drew who is the community experience manager with Gravity Forms, Gravity Forms, if you’re new to WordPress, or the web design game is an incredible Form Builder. It is the form builder that I have used since I think 2013. I’ve been using it for a very long time. I love Gravity Forms, I still use them and what’s really cool.

Josh 0:47
Recently, Gravity Forms decided to quote and you’ll hear about this with James here, humanize their brand. And this is really, really important. I’m actually going to be talking about this more coming up the importance of humanizing your brand and putting a face to your business. So it doesn’t look like well, something that’s a robot or something that’s to corporate II, there’s so much power in this now it’s a lot different. When you’re a freelancer, and you have your image on your website, then a company like Gravity Forms who has a team of remote workers all over the world.

Josh 1:17
So the cool thing about this is that Gravity Forms hired James to come in and start a podcast and video show called Input. And I was actually privileged to recently be on input on episode five. So after that call, I had such a great time talking with James, I said, Hey, man, would you like to come on my show. And I’m personally really curious and interested in Gravity Forms and their approach about this idea of humanizing their brand and adding some personality to it.

Josh 1:45
So what we do in this episode is essentially talk about the content strategy that gravity had forms with creating this new show for their brand and what they’re doing with Gravity Forms to separate themselves from their competition. I found this chat to be completely and utterly fascinating. I love hearing about strategies like this for particularly bigger companies. Elegant Themes, because I’m a user of Divi. I’ve always been fascinated with how they’ve kind of added human like a human touch to their brand. And it’s one reason I’ve stuck with Divi and remained with elegant themes as my primary theme, and, or Divi as my theme. And Gravity Forms is up to the same thing.

Josh 2:22
So it was really cool hearing from James on what their strategy is, and how they’re going about interviews and community and engagement and doing this podcast to increase awareness about their brand, but also to learn and to really make some really good connections. So I think you’re going to find this fascinating as well should go without saying that if you are interested in doing some sort of interview series or podcasts for your company, your business, I highly recommend it, it really is such an amazing opportunity. And this episode will give you a lot of confidence and help you empower to do that if you’re interested.

Josh 2:56
Now, one thing that is really going to help your business completely unrelated to doing an interview series is building recurring income. And if you didn’t know, but I have a website maintenance plan course. And the new version of this course version 2.0 is out. Now I’m so excited about the new version of this course, I think it’s the best work I’ve ever done quite personally for a course. So I’m really, really excited to help you build recurring income by hook by creating a hosting and maintenance plan. If you have not yet signed up for the course and you are ready, and you are like okay, I’ve got to get some stable income coming in. Join my website maintenance plan course today.

Josh 3:29
You can go to the show notes for this episode at Josh hall.co/148. There’ll be a link there to my maintenance plan course I would love to welcome you in and help you either build your plan from the ground up or take your current plan to the next level. Just a reminder, if you are a current student, you don’t pay another dime, you have lifetime access to all the courses you you enroll in. So all you need to do is log in. And you can go through all the new lessons and new content. And again, I’m really excited to help you build a recurring income maintenance plan. Right now guys enjoy this episode with James from Gravity Forms.

Josh 4:07
James, welcome onto the podcast, man. So great to have you on.

James 4:12
Good. So glad to be here. This is awesome. Thank you for having me.

Josh 4:15
We were just talking about before we went live here, you’ve been up we’re recording at 2:30pm Eastern, but you’ve been up since 5am. You’ve had a long day because it’s actually the the kickoff of Gravity Forms, kind of new initiative to engage their audience and it’s called input. And I’m really excited to have you on because you’re the host of this show called input which is a video and podcast audio show. By the time this episode comes out, I will have been on so I was really excited to have you on my show, to kind of talk about this and to talk about this idea of how to create content with whatever that content looks like to help build community and engagement to eventually sell a product or Service cuz I know I have a lot of students that are interested in this. And we’re all not Gravity Forms like a huge plug in in the market. But no matter what it is, I’m sure the same principles apply. So all that to say super excited to have you on James, do you want to start off with just letting everybody know first where you’re based out of? And what do you do as the host of Input?

James 5:18
Sure, yeah. So I am based out of Kingston, Ontario, Canada. So that’s sort of the halfway point between the capital of Canada, which is Ottawa and the capital of Ontario, which is Toronto, the largest city in Canada. So about halfway between each and that’s on the eastern side.

Josh 5:39
Yeah, I was wondering your Eastern New York time, or if you’re a central, which would be like,

James 5:43
New York time for sure. Okay. Yeah.

Josh 5:46
Gotcha, gotcha. And when, when somebody you know, they hear about your role with input, what do you what do you tell them? Do you? I know, you are what, I guess your official title was community experience manager, right? That’s right. Yeah. What do you say you do, though?

James 6:02
Well, when people ask me, it’s a great question. And I think it’s one of the things that most excited me about one. Well, it was the thing that most excited me when I got offered the job here was they said, We want you to come in and humanize the brand. So we want you to come in and help us, you know, put some faces to who we are and what we do here at Gravity Forms. Because for many, many years, we’ve been an iconic product and iconic plug in, or many WordPress professionals, but nobody’s really known who we are as a team where our culture, our values, and what it means for us. So that was a big part of what drew me to Gravity Forms. And what drew me to this role was this opportunity to sort of like imagine for a company that’s as iconic as Gravity Forms to think well, how do you humanize a brand like that? How do you? How do you rebuild or establish that connection between product and community? So that’s a big part of what I do. And then the other side of my role is on the marketing side is coordinating and connecting with our community of third party add on developers as well.

Josh 7:16
Okay. Fascinating, man. Well, again, I love it. We talked when you interviewed me for the input show, I told you that I’ve been a Gravity Forms user since I think 2013 is when I started using it. So I’ve been I was, I guess I’m an early adopter, but I definitely used it, more of it in its infancy. And I’ve seen it, you know, go through all sorts of innovations and versions. And I still use it today. It’s my main contact form. It’s the main contact form that my agency uses. So to hear that they want to humanize the brand and add more personality and community to it. Of course, that fires me up because that’s what I’m 100% about. I didn’t know who was behind Gravity Forms, until you released the first episode with the founders, which Funny enough, we’re recording this on the the day of the launch, which is why you’re so tight.

Josh 8:06
So I did get to most of the episode, and man, it’s just so cool. It’s it’s just so freakin cool to hear from the people who are behind it. Because when you think of Gravity Forms, I don’t know what everyone who is listening is thinking. But if you’re a user, you might wonder, is this like one developer in a basement? Or is this like an agency of 75 people that is in San Francisco? Or are they scattered abroad? Who knows? So I think it’s so valuable to do that to add that personality. So really, really excited to see what this you know, ends up becoming. I’m actually curious, before we dive into, you know, the reason they wanted to do this and the strategy behind it, what is your background? And how did they end up getting in touch with you? How did this opportunity come about for you, James?

James 8:53
Oh, well, I have been in the WordPress ecosystem for about 10 years and started out running my own agency doing websites and things I actually was a brand designer or a logo designer that was sort of my first kick at things I was like, you know, I want to get out there and you know, do logos for people, but I launched my freelance business right around the time 99 designs kicked off. So instead of sort of getting those rich, you know, brand contracts that I was hoping for all of a sudden I was competing against these, these marketplaces that were doing really well and so became almost a bit of necessity to get into WordPress, right and to get into website design. And I’ve been doing it for a few years before that in some of the the jobs that I did, but in 2012 I went full time and really sort of decided to go for it and do the agency thing and the freelance thing.

James 9:55
From there after a couple of years of doing that and working with a couple different communities in the theme space. I went to press Dominic’s, which is an event in the WordPress ecosystem many people may know and met some people from Envato there and ended up, you know, just through seeing tweets going back and forth from some people hearing about a job to become the WordPress evangelist at Envato. So that was really when I went from a bit of an unknown or anonymous WordPress user, to somebody with a bit more profile and got to travel around the world. Going to conferences for WordPress, we created a number of our own conferences internally, really working with independent business owners, independent creators across a wide variety of industries, you know, video, audio, photography, all those different kind of creative industries. And just yeah, really hearing their stories, celebrating their successes, navigating being a you know, the representative of Envato, marketplace environment to a bunch of independent creators, is kind of another way to look at that is very similar to how app developers view the App Store. So you can imagine it I remember, just a little

Josh 11:15
Yeah, a little tricky to navigate my gosh, yeah. I mean, I remember being a user of it, you know, for the marketplace. Yeah.

James 11:22
Yeah. So So you know, from there after, you know, working with Envato for a number of years. Funnily enough, the same person that actually was in the Twitter conversation about the job at Envato sent me a link to the job posting for Gravity Forms, they’re looking for somebody to kind of come in and they were looking for a video first person, somebody to come in and do video, okay, because they had decided from a content point of view that that’s that was the direction they wanted to go. And my background was in interactive multimedia and graphic design. So I’ve done some video work in the past. And when I came in, and sort of at first it was, I wasn’t sure if this was the right role for me, I was like, All things sorted. Really 100% Sure. Until, until you, you meet people, but I went into my first interview, I can remember walking out of that interview, and just being like, Oh, my goodness, this is like, it was like love at first sight kind of thing, or like me and the hiring manager at the time Mark, like he and I would just hit it off, right? And it was just like it was meant to be what was was always

Josh 12:35
Just gonna say, what was the love at first sight? Was it the role was it the feeling of the people, the company at what What gave you that feeling like this is a good fit?

James 12:44
It was, you know, like, I was working at Envato. And Envato is a great company. But there are a lot of competing priorities when you’re working in a company that big. And one of the things that really intrigued me about Gravity Forms was that they had a similar community feel, and that they had a group of independent add on creators who were out there doing the same kind of thing. So that was familiar territory for me. But again, it was this whole idea of like, taking, taking these bits that I was doing, and I felt I was getting good at, you know, like, you sort of start to feel like you’re becoming not just not just, it’s not just guesswork anymore, trying to figure out what to do. But like you come into a situation go, actually, I know how to solve that problem. I’ve done that before. So there’s a bit of confidence there in that. But then it was balanced on this other side with this challenge to humanize the brand to do video to, to think about what we could do in that space to to bring the culture and the values of Gravity Forms and rocket genius into the world of WordPress, and what would that look like? And what could we do? Also, after one interview, I was like, I remember saying to my wife, I was like, This is it. I gotta take I can’t not go here. So yeah. Then a couple weeks, you know, the deal was done. And yeah.

Josh 14:12
Very cool, man. And I’m kidding. Maybe this would be a better question for them. But I’m curious if you know, was there something that happened that made them realize this is a priority? Or is this something they wanted to pursue as far as humanizing the brand?

I think Gravity Forms has been quite lucky. They’ve always been kind of like low and slow, like, good barbecue. – James

James 14:26
Yeah. So interestingly enough, I think Gravity Forms has been it’s it’s been quite lucky, in that its growth has matched WordPress growth so organically, it’s been able to just grow at the same pace. And by delivering a great product and a great user experience and a solid foundation for professionals to be able to build on. They’ve just been able to grow by being good, good citizens in the community and good citizens in the wider ecosystem. But I think they hit a point In 2019, where they realize that their approach and one of the things you’ll see actually in the first episode, they’ll talk a little bit about this is that they never wanted to be the kind of company that was aggressively growing. And so it was, they didn’t want to, you know, build it up quick and then sell it, sell it off or, or anything like that. They’ve always been kind of like low and slow, like, like good barbecue.

Josh 15:24
I love that I want a great analogy. I want my companies, I want the tools that I use just to be like a nice barbecue, low and slow and take your time. Yeah,

James 15:34
That’s it. And, and so they got to this point, I think, where they realized that, that approach or or this, the slow nature of what they were doing was actually getting the way of them being able to deliver on some of the promises and some of some of the things they wanted to do. And so they began to reach out and look for people to come in and do different things. And actually, they had had another person doing some community work and development work. And he actually decided he’s an add on developer, so he went off to go and do that. And so they had these two kind of things that they were hoping to find, filled in two different people, a video person and a community person. And because of my background, and my experience, I was able to come in and fill both of those shots. Yeah. And, and bring that experience alongside all of that. So I think that’s sort of what sealed the deal for them. Yeah.

Josh 16:31
Oh, yeah, that’s really cool. And it is funny. And the reason I’m really excited to see, you know, this show come to life and to expand not only the Gravity Forms, and the people behind it, but the users like myself and the community. But it’s interesting, because you really get a sense of who the company is like the actual people. Because, again, going back to what I said earlier, I don’t know what you think about Gravity Forms, whoever’s listening to this or watching this, but you might think it’s like, you know, some super jacked up entrepreneur who’s, you know, all gung ho and is really high stress and high strung, but they’re all like, the coolest down to earth dudes, that first interview that you posted, I’ll make sure we link that in the show notes. They’re just normal guys. Like, I would probably see them at a barbecue joint. And, you know, if I found that they were Gravity Forms, I’d sure we’d have a beer and hang out and talk for a little bit like, it really is cool to find out who is behind some of these bigger brands.

Josh 17:28
So I’m really excited to see that come to life. But here’s the kicker. Here’s the question for you to kind of kick off that content strategy. How what were the initial discussions about like what to actually do? Because you want to humanize the brand, want to add video, but then it’s like, okay, I’m sure you guys went through this, which is, alright, what avenue? Do I want to go down? Like, do we want to do blogging? Do we want to do pure, like video type series? Do we want to make a podcast? Should it be audio and video? Should it be like, a monthly video? You know, like, should it be tutorials? How I guess, what were the initial talks of what the content strategy should be? And how did you guys settle on and input?

James 18:09
That’s a great question. And I think from from my perspective, I have my own view. And happy to share a little bit of that and strategy here. So if you think about Gravity Forms, and the the ecosystem that we have, we have a core product, right, Gravity Forms itself. And we have an incredible user base around that and add ons and you know, just a whole network have of tooling there. But it’s still something that can be intimidating for new users, because of how much extensibility there is, and how much power there is even just in a core product.

James 18:51
So when you look at that, and when you look at at some, you know, growth strategies and things like that, we know that one of the most important things we have to do as a product company is continue to acquire new users, we have to figure out how to keep that, you know, network effect, or that brand value continuing to expand and grow into audiences for a number of reasons. But the way that I look at it is, you know, you want when you’re a professional, and let’s say, you know, like you’re running an agency like I do, and in my agency, I used Gravity Forms as well. You’re always thinking, what tooling am I going to install that’s going to stick with a user from the start through their growth? Yeah, right, and expand with them so that I’m not constantly going back and having to rethink tooling and rebuild things and do all that kind of stuff, right?

James 19:50
Like if I can, if I can give them one tool, it’s actually going to deliver for them over and over and over again and grow with them. That I’m actually doing them a favor as as well as myself a favor because I’m not having to go in and constantly build things. Great point. So that’s the approach that exists with Gravity Forms. But in order for that to work well, and for the company to continue to grow, it needs to be able to add new users to that and do that.

James 20:17
So the content strategy for Gravity Forms calm is very much about new users and bringing them in, once they’re in, then it becomes about how do we, how do we help them, figure out what’s available to them, because you don’t know what you don’t know. And so with the size of Gravity Forms, add on ecosystem, we have this opportunity to solve way more problems than most people realize, you can do pretty well, anything with Gravity Forms, if you’re collecting any kind of data. Or if you’re looking to do any kind of automated workflow with your content or with what users are doing when they interact with your website, you can do that with Gravity Forms, or Gravity Forms, and one of the add ons that exists.

James 21:03
So you know, retention became a big part of that. So I’m getting to our strategy for for input. But you have to, you have to understand that’s the foundation, the foundation is helping Gravity Forms. So we will do and we continue to do things through our primary channels like gravity, anything Gravity Forms, branded, will be tutorial driven, and new user driven, and supporting existing users and providing them with roadmaps on how to build things to to get the result that they’re after.

James 21:37
But if you look at what’s going on with WordPress right now, we are seeing a, in my opinion, we’re seeing a generational shift between the pioneers, the founders of WordPress, and those those tinkerers knew how to get stuck into the the PHP and the code and to build it themselves to this next generation of users. And remember, WordPress is what 18, 19 years old now. So people who were born the day WordPress is born are going to college and they’re getting, you know, they’re getting ready to enter into the work world. And, and we’ve seen that shift coming because even even as a, you know, community and an open source Foundation, we’ve we’ve been anticipating this, which is why Gutenberg exists.

James 22:24
And beside editing experience exists, because in order for WordPress to continue to grow, and to continue to democratize the web and make it accessible and open for everyone, we need to make it easier for more and more people to actually use the tooling. And so this generational shift that’s happening is a move beyond the WordPress developer, the WordPress tinkerer, to somebody who really for them, it’s just a platform that they sell their merch on, or they, you know, blog out of, or they create content through, or they leverage to build relationships with their customers. And because of that, they don’t care necessarily about all the other bits, right? They just want tools that work for them. They want them to be easy to use, and they wanted them to be easier to expand and, you know, grow with their business.

They want to hear success stories. They want to know about, you know, what it means to live WordPress as a lifestyle. – James

James 23:18
So that’s really where the strategy for input comes in and why input exists the way it does, it is not necessarily targeting the core WordPress audience that you might think what it’s doing is what strategically and where my head is out with it is that I really believe that this new audience out there that is starting to use WordPress as a tool rather than as you know, that that guy who was always able to open the hood to the car and check the engine and know what’s going on, is that we have this opportunity to really take WordPress mainstream. And and when I say mainstream, what I mean is, we’re a $600 billion a year industry that is mostly engineers and professionals. Imagine what we could do if we could expand to the everyday person to those people that are out there with no desire to learn any of that, but they want to hear success stories they want to know about, you know what it means to live WordPress as a lifestyle.

Josh 24:21
So it’s interesting, really what you’re talking about there, James is target market and you’re looking at your demographics very carefully. I’m sure there was a lot of data result type of research that was you know, conducted there. And I imagine that you guys looked at your customers from when it started, maybe like the few years after which is probably when I came on board with it. Because I was I mean when I use gravity forms it was neck and neck with a few other builders I just happen to really like Gravity Forms and it stuck with me.

Josh 24:56
Same thing like you mentioned earlier, it was just such a reliable product and even though I tried other builders at some point other form builders, I always went back to Gravity Forms because it was always more reliable. It was at the best support the best add ons. And that was huge for me. But now it is interesting because we’re like phase three, it sounds like with customers. And you’re exactly right. And I’m a Divi guy, I use the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes, I think they’re similar. Being that I’ve been with them and really follow them closely. They are definitely looking at both the professionals, the experts, the developers, but also the Diyers. And the people who are fed up with Squarespace fed up with Wix wants something that they control, but is also easy to use. So I imagine that played a part in this, the width. So that’s really interesting. But my next question would be why a name that is not Gravity Forms centric. So why not? The Gravity Forms podcast? What? What’s up with input? And I’m just playing devil’s advocate, as somebody who might say, how is that related to Gravity Forms?

James 26:00
Well, it, it’s a bit of a play on words. Because if you think about what a form is, it’s a collection of input fields. So they didn’t the input was it’s loosely tied that way. But, you know, if you expand it out a little bit, and just think about, you know, input, it’s, it comes down to, I think my personality a little bit, and a lot of and I have to be honest, a lot of this is driven by me and my personality and how I think and process. But, you know, I, I always believed that stories are the most valuable thing we can share. as content creators, that story is evergreen, it’s the kind of content that lasts long beyond your time, in any role, or, or in anything that you do. And when I think about stories, I think about not just not just the surface level, but I’m always curious about what goes into actually making that happen.

James 27:04
So you think about like some of the stories that we’re going to tell on input. You know, we’re, I did a, an interview with a recording artist, right? Like a major label recording artists who’s got millions of records sold and talking to them about you know, like, so tell me how, what’s the process of getting signed? What’s, what’s it like to, to grow a fan base, right? And who does what in in the band? And what’s the band dynamic, like, like, the kinds of questions that are always skipped, when they do a face to face interview, like a TV interview, like you always get the fluff, but you never get the inner workings, right. And I’m, I’ve always been like, you know what, they don’t just go from like, somebody sitting in their garage, making music to all of a sudden, you know, debuting and having their first records on, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into that. And no matter what creative industry you’re in, no matter what industry you’re in, there are steps that we skip over when it comes to how our success or how we got places. And I think, for me, like input is digging into that you’re getting the story.

Josh 28:18
I love that man. It’s so important. And I think that is one of the best ways to humanize both the company itself and the users. And I often when I think about story marketing, and I know story brand is really popular Donald Miller’s book, and I’m a big fan of that framework. I’m a big fan of anything that is going to dive into the why in something. And that really is what story marketing is it addresses the why, instead of just the what. So for Gravity Forms, I’m sure it would be easy to have a marketing page that is like, here’s what Gravity Forms is, and here’s what it does. But what is even more powerful. And whether this is used on the same page, or completely separate is a y type story Case in point, my story.

Josh 29:01
Would it be more intriguing for somebody to see a form builder that, you know, you can see how it sets up and what kind of fields you can add in the add ons. Or if you hear Josh say, I’ve been using Gravity Forms for nine years. And it’s been like the solid rock for my business. And it’s never let me down. Personally, that is going to resonate with me so much more. So I think it’s a great point. I hope that’s just a practical example of how stories can really make marketing just so much more powerful. And I hope everyone realized this too. This applies to any type of service you’re doing, which is why it’s so important to get testimonials and case studies and bring the story out of those results. So I love that is that kind of one of the main underlying things you were focused on was like the results but not in like a data driven type of standpoint. But yeah, that story and that human type of approach when it comes to results?

James 29:56
So it’s an interesting question, and it’s one the team has been challenging me on as well, because I think it’s like, you know, like, that’s the most natural step you could think of right is that you want to have content that’s going to help you convert for your today business where I have been pushing back. And one of the things I think is important for anybody who’s in business to think about is not just your business of today, but your business of tomorrow and your business of the future. And how are you setting yourself up not not to necessarily reach your audience that you’re grabbing right now with your existing marketing? But what is the audience that you see coming up, that you need to be starting now to think about attracting? So you know, full side editing is brand new Gutenberg is still relatively new, there’s enough people out there with the classic editor, for example.

Josh 30:47
And I still love the classic editor more than Gutenberg. Yeah.

James 30:51
So we still have a little bit of time where the way we we’ve continued to do it will be enough. But But for us, I think and my strategy here is to go, what’s the audience that’s coming up? What are they doing? Where where are they at? What’s something that’s going to be attractive to them? And how can I grow an audience there and build trust with them, even if I don’t have a natural connection yet, between the stories or all of that, and, and some kind of conversion to a Gravity Forms user? What’s important is that we’re doing both, right. So as I said, we still have Gravity Forms, branded channels, we have tutorials, and all different kinds of content across our blog, and our YouTube channel and social media. And input, the reason why it’s branded as it is, and the reason why it’s different, is we’re looking at the next audience in the WordPress ecosystem, or the next audience in the web, and saying, How can we be attractive to them? How can we go after them while also still being relevant? And, you know, great consumable content? For those who already love and use Gravity Forms? Yeah.

Josh 32:03
And when it comes to this next audience, the I’m gonna put my kids these days had on it, did you do any, like, actual measure, like data measured research or anything like that? Or was it more of just a common sense approach to content like, kids these days, like stories, and they like the why, and they like somebody that they’re gonna trust? Whether it’s an influencer? Or I mean, I imagine that came into play with wanting to be video and podcast. But yeah, like, how did you? I guess the question is, how did you determine, you know, who that up and coming audience is?

James 32:41
That’s a great question. And I think that data is something anyone can get, it’s not something that is reserved for big business. So no matter what size your your businesses, or even if you’re just a solo printer, or a freelancer, anything you can do to dig out some data is important. So we did a big customer survey with our existing customers, to get some demographic data to get some user data to find out who our core customer of today was. What we discovered is that a lot of them are in that developer professional space. A lot of them have been using the product for three to five years and five years plus.

Josh 33:24
I think I have this I think I remember getting that now that I just flashed back that I think I remember getting an email and I’m sure I’ve sent in like, Yeah, I’ve been using it for this long, you know?

James 33:33
Yeah. So so we knew who our today audience was very clearly because we could see that. And you’re and some of it, of course, is also gut and looking at trends and what’s going on and saying, you know, like, the way I looked at it, I was coming in and I’d done a little bit of research on my for myself on Instagram and trying to build up my own personal brand on Instagram or whatever. And I can remember looking at the WordPress world and where WordPress happened in terms of social networking, and it’s still on Twitter. Twitter is not where the audience of tomorrow is, right? They are on Instagram, they’re on tick tock. They’re on YouTube, right.

James 34:16
And so you’ve got this video first content approach versus a text, first content approach, which I think is where a lot of things are. Even audio audio only is great. But we’re starting to see this rise in podcasts, especially over the pandemic. It’s been great, I think, for the podcast industry. But we’re also seeing now a lot more podcasts going look, I’m already creating the content, why don’t I just film it, put it on YouTube, repurpose it and repurpose the same content. So and then you look at all of these channels now and everybody’s doing video. So you know, even even though Twitter doesn’t have a ton of video, you can still get video on there. And Instagram is the same with IG TV and you got? Yeah. So So I think it’s going, okay. You know we’ve, from from a data point of view, we know who our existing audiences, we know where they are, and we know how to talk to them. And to create content for them, we’re going to keep doing that to the best of our ability. But for tomorrow, we want to start looking at what can we do in the space to actually be attractive to a new audience?

Josh 35:22
Gotcha. And, of course, I’m a huge fan of the long form interviews. And I think our talk was well longer than probably what most of your episodes will be that that’s not a shocker though, for anyone who’s been listening to this podcast for a while, because I like I like to go deep. And I, I, I hate surfacey quick, mainstream media type conversations. I don’t want a five minute clip that was scripted, and outline, I want just real talk. And I think a lot of people are like me, and I’m totally finding that with this podcast. The cool thing is, when it comes to repurposing content, if you do a long form interview, you can always cut it down and repurpose it in different ways. Is that kind of what your idea is with starting with, you know, a half an hour 45 minute, whatever talk that’s both video and audio? Is your idea, James to then you know, me, I don’t know, if you have it all planned out now. Or if you’re just gonna see how it evolves, and then maybe, you know, sprinkle in a two minute video for IG TV or a video for Facebook or a video for a tick. I don’t even know I don’t use TikTok. I don’t know how that works. But it is that kind of the the idea, the approach that you have?

James 36:29
Absolutely, it’s, you know, like you said, if, if you’re if you’re making something, if you’re creating something, you’ve already done the hard work of coming up with the idea. You’ve done all the the the work of of actually recording it, and you want to give yourself as many options as possible. So you know, and it’s, it’s an opportunity, not just for the moment, right, like you think about, we’ve just launched this episode with the founders of Gravity Forms, got a 40 minute episode. And in there are a bunch of great nuggets that we can repurpose, and reuse so that that content lives on long beyond the, you know, the bump of the initial premiere of the episode. And I think that’s the value of it as well. It’s really actually being smart about how you are building content, and your content strategy as well. And thinking, not just for today, but like I plan to use this content for months and months and just pull it out when I’m going I don’t have a post today for Instagram. And let’s put that up, right. Yeah, you know, do that kind of thing.

Josh 37:32
That’s kind of one thing I’m working on with this show. Because I think your episode, let’s see, let me look at this sheet here. It’s probably good. It’ll be in the 140s. Oh, a lot of episodes to pull from now, they’re not all interviews, a lot of those are solo episodes. But I’m still able now to like I referenced them all the time. And they’ve been great legions for my courses and a lot of cases because I’m like, I am doing free master classes and trainings and more intentional funnels to courses in higher ticket items, but podcast that dives into, you know, my web design process, that’s a half an hour, it’s free. That’s a great like, Hey, check this out. This will give you a good idea for this and and what a great Legion that has become for me.

Josh 38:12
So I’m finding and I think you’ll find this too. This is a good principle for everybody. When you take the time to invest in this content, whether it’s an interview, or a solo podcast, or a tutorial on YouTube or whatever, you can absolutely refer back to it months, even years down the road. And then yeah, you can always repurpose it. And I’m actually considering maybe this probably isn’t something I personally have time for. But maybe Nathan, my editor, Nathan, I’m going to talk to you right now. And maybe have him or somebody go through and pull some of the top like like episodes and tips and make a compilation or do some things that can really highlight some of the you know that certain topics that we’ve gone over.

Josh 38:53
So there’s all I mean, look, there’s all sorts of avenues for this, it is slightly overwhelming. I guess one question I have for you, James is how do you avoid the overwhelm of what you can do with content? Because this is this is also something that is very paralyzing for people. They’re like, Okay, I’m going to start, I’m going to do it. And then they’re like, ah, what am I going to do? Like, I don’t know, should I do a YouTube channel? Should I just do social media videos, I just do a podcast, Should I do a written blog? How do you avoid, you know, all these different options? And how do you take it one step at a time when it comes to creating content?

James 39:29
Oh, I’m, I’m fairly structured that way. My wife and I, we often joke because we approach problem solving or creative creativity in the opposite way. I start out with figuring out what my end result is. And then I work back from that. And she just starts with, you know, like something and then figures it out as she goes, we both end up finishing at the same time. But how we got there is very different. I tell that just to say that that’s sort of my approach to it. Thinking through content. And it’s it may work for people who are who think like me, but may not work for others.

The first thing, the best thing you can do to avoid that paralysis is to plan out and get some content under your belt before you ever launch it. – James

James 40:06
But the best thing that I can say when it comes to that is number one. And I haven’t, you know, like, there’s lots of advice out there. So that’s why I’m pausing. You know, take this with a grain of salt. Don’t start right away. The first thing, the best thing you can do to avoid that paralysis is to plan out and get some content under your belt before you ever launch it. So to give you an example, I’ve been filming for two months, before we even launched our first episode, because what I wanted to do was get a sense of the flow of content for our channel, sort of piece together, conceptually and thematically at a high level where the content was going. And I’ve done a few things. And I’ll give you a couple of practical examples of what I’ve done.

James 40:06
So the first thing I did was I said, Okay, what are what do I want to operate in seasons? Right? And I said, Yes, because I want to start date, and I want to end date. So I want to have that arc of content. And then I started thinking, Okay, well, within that, what are some things that I can do to not have it be the same thing every week? Like, how can I spice it up a little bit. And I watched a bunch of YouTube channels. And there’s one channel that I really love. It’s called Jolly. And it’s these two British guys. One, it’s a British guy who speaks Korean, and his best mate. And the two of them, they just get on, and they do really silly things. But what I love about it is they have these sub series of content.

James 41:46
So they’ve got an arc of content, you know, all around trying foods from around the world, they have another one, where they drive around in a limo in London, and introduce their friends to Korean food, right, and they have another one where they go online, and they try to buy the most random things, that’s super entertaining for me. But what they’ve done is they’ve actually created these, these amatic, sort of like sub series within their content stream, that gives enough variety for people, but also allows them to be creative as well. And so I think for me, that’s, that’s been really helpful.

James 42:19
So with with input, what we’ve tried to do is, we have a 23 Episodes Season, which is a standard season in the US North America, right, from a TV point of view, we’re aiming for half an hour, because it’s the length of a normal TV show, or a average commute from home to work. And the the themes that we we’ve got are things that we can really lean into, and we can go out and source guests and do content that actually is quite intentional. Yeah, that’s another big part of it. And, and so by doing that, we’re actually able to approach each episode with confidence. And the last thing, and I know, I’ve been talking about this for a while, so I know,

Josh 43:05
I can see a question right on the tip of my tongue.

James 43:08
It’s, you know, like, I can see the question, but this is also important is that start with one channel, and create great content for that primary channel. And then if you’re ready, or if you can, if you’ve got capacity, you can expand out from there. So we decided early on, we were going to be a video first show. So we were going to be a YouTube channel, that was our number one thing, and we knew we were going to go to Audio. Cuz we could do that literally, at the same time, when we export our video, we can just split out the audio, and do that. And there’s very little extra work on top of that.

James 43:48
And from there, then it was like, Well, if you want your YouTube channel to be successful, you’ve got to promote it. So we picked a couple of key channels that we knew would work for us. But our content was able to almost create itself, because the core of the content was the YouTube show itself. Right. And from there, we already knew what we were going to do on social media, because it was all related to whatever that episode was for the week. So in you know, introducing the guests talking about the topic, you know, whatever you’re doing a preview clip, all those kinds of it’s just it basically wrote itself. And so it made it easier as a content creator not to get bogged down in the pressure to be looking week to week. But it allows us to actually thematically look at things to write content to be strategic about our guests, and to create content that we hope will be relevant to our audience.

Josh 44:38
That’s great. A couple big points that I took out from there. One was to really plan and strategically think through launching something because this is the other problem and it kind of goes against my initial gut feeling which is just just do something, get it out there. But the problem with that is if you’re not somebody who was used to doing something consistently, you’re likely going to start and then about two months later, it’s just gonna fall flat. Or if you don’t have a most what’s most important with content is a content strategy for like continuing to create it. That’s why it doesn’t work out. That’s why so many podcasts start and then they fade or YouTube channels start and they fade.

Josh 45:19
Case in point, when I started this podcast, it was at the end of 2019. I had thought about starting this in the summer of 2018. But I knew I was still in the right in the middle of creating a lot of different courses, I was still running my agency along with it. And I knew as much as I wanted to dive into the podcast, I just, I did not have the bandwidth for it yet. I knew I was going to get there. But I also knew, I think, because I didn’t have all of the courses I wanted created. I realized at this point, I think it’s more beneficial for me to make really amazing kick ass courses. And then once I’m done with them, or far along with all my main courses, then I can go more heavy on content marketing. And that’s really mainly what I do right now.

Josh 46:05
I’m in the process of revamping courses and adding lessons and adding new ones eventually, but mainly what I do on a week to week basis as content marketing through podcasts, and I’m reinvigorating my YouTube channel. And there was another good lesson you mentioned there to Chris Watts was to just choose one channel, and then figure out the places that are going to be the best ROI. Because this was kind of the second big point that I took out from that. And that is if you try to do a YouTube show, and podcasts and tutorials and promote them on LinkedIn, and Tik Tok and Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, it’s that so much to do at once, you’re likely just going to face so much overwhelm, you’re not even going to do it.

Josh 46:45
So it’s so much better to just focus on like one channel, really grow that. And if you want to, you know, whether it’s email marketing, or one social media channel that you like best, just pick a couple channels to help promote that. That’s what I did. And I can say in full confidence, that’s what really helped me avoid the same type of overwhelm, is I actually, I started with YouTube, and I just did YouTube videos, which helped me build my authority and in my name, and, you know, get a lot of people into my courses. And then I took a little bit of a break from doing constant YouTube videos and launch the podcast. And now I have strategies for both that I’m able to do both at the same time simultaneously. And I don’t feel overwhelmed, because I have a good feel for both of them, I have my processes in place. And I can, you know, do those consistently.

Josh 47:32
So all that to say, that’s kind of the way I, you know, approach my content game. And it sounds like you’re, you know, you really took a lot of those lessons to heart. And I think that’s what a lot of people should think about with their own content is sticking with, you know, one or two channels that you’re comfortable with that you know, well, or that you’re excited about. And then just do it consistently or have a have an end date, what you mentioned there with the seasons, that’s great. And when I started my YouTube channel, one of the best things I did was I gave myself a 12 week deadline, I said, I’m going to do a new tutorial once a week for 12 weeks. So there was an end in sight. And I can’t tell you how beneficial that was for me because it ended up being a lot of work. I was new to tutorials. But at the end of that 12 weeks I accomplished it, it was a huge boost. And then I felt really comfortable to do that consistently. So I don’t know if you have any thoughts on that. But that’s definitely what I applied to the content.

James 48:30
Yeah, the other the other side to that is it helps you avoid scope creep. So when you think about your content, and what you’re doing, there are a ton of great ideas that you haven’t thought of yet, that are just waiting there for you to pick them up and do them. And it’s so tempting when you don’t have a plan or when you’re just going week to week to pivot before the right time or to jump into something and follow that that rabbit trail. You know, I was in a Congress I was in a in a meeting yesterday with my editor Dustin and he and I were chatting and and it’s it’s interesting because he’s actually seeing a bunch of these episodes. So he’s seeing the themes and these arcs of of conversation and story that are starting to peek through.

James 49:17
But he’s thrown out ideas and we’re spit-balling ideas now for season two going we already know and we’ve we’ve got confidence in season one that we’re going to be able to deliver the content that we want and do it well that we can actually start planning out and thinking about how this great new content is going to be for season two and and so it actually it frees you from having from the from the tyranny of the urgent right of thinking everything has to be done right now and your great your your greatest ideas the one that that’s your latest idea. Well that’s not necessarily true finish finished strongly idea that you had that you started with and then go on to the next one and you’ll see yourself grow I think from strength to strength.

Josh 49:56
Oh definitely.

James 49:57
Build upon.

Josh 49:58
Yeah, and it tends to get better and better. And then even from the, as the host from the standpoint of like producing stuff. It’s funny because before we went live, you were like, you know, you the anxiousness of launch day on anything is it always takes so much out of you and I let you know before went live. Luckily, that fades after, you know, for me it was about in between 20 and 30 episodes I used to get like so anxious and nervous when it was episode last day because I was like, Oh, I hope everything goes right. I hope it’s well received. Now that I’m 140. And I don’t even really I don’t really think about it does become like a muscle you just get used to. And I think that’s true for anything in life.

Josh 50:36
But once you once you build that confidence step by step, it really does, it goes through every aspect of content marketing, because suddenly, it I think it’s this is a really important point to it’s okay to feel out of your element or a little nervous or uncomfortable when you’re doing certain content marketing, because you haven’t done it yet, or you haven’t done it to that level. Like, I was nervous when I started my podcast because I got really good at doing videos and tutorials. But a conversation is a whole different ballgame. And it’s as you’re probably finding out a couple months into it. It’s extremely draining, to do a really good interview, isn’t it weird?

Josh 51:16
Like you wouldn’t think it, it would be that draining, but particularly when for us, it’s not just like a random conversation. This is an intentional conversation with what is hopefully an end result with this topic. It is very draining. And the good news is I can tell you this and full confidence here, James, doing this for almost two years now, it doesn’t take near as much out of me as it used to, like, I filled my schedule up the first couple months, I did my podcast, and I was like, I’m wiped, I can’t even focus on anything else. Cuz I’m done right now after this interview.

Josh 51:50
But it I say all that to say you build a muscle, and this goes with anything, it’s like building a website, the first couple times, it’s terrible, but then you do better and better the more you do it, it’s like anything you get better. And that that confidence and that, you know, quote unquote, muscle building for that really does filter through everything because suddenly you’re interviewing better without having to think too hard about it. This interview, we don’t have show notes or an outline that we’re basing this off of I just, I’m curious and I I knew the end result for this episode, which is know how to create good content that’s going to help, you know, build community and sell a service and product.

Josh 52:27
So I don’t, I don’t really need to have like a list that I see a lot of podcasters do and I think that’s okay, at first, maybe to have a you know, a direction to head to but it does get easier. Production gets, you know, you get used to the tools you get used to how you distribute it. So I just wanted to say that because I think it really is important to remember that when you start something the first couple months are going to be a little rough or a lot of work. But it does get easier and consistency becomes easier. Have you found that even a couple months in I mean, as Have you started to turn that corner yet? Or is that going to be Season Two that you’ll turn it?

James 53:03
Um, well, you know, anecdotally I can say that I’ve had, I’ve had a little bit of experience doing the video thing. A couple of years ago, I was on tour for Envato doing something we called Euro tour. And I decided that I was going to be a travel blogger throughout the whole thing. And, and then so you know, create content and post them sort of every day. I don’t know why I thought I was going to be able to do that while also traveling from city to city and doing actual physical presentations at conferences, meetups, but then I tried it but I can remember the first time I pulled out my camera in the airport in Toronto and like, you know, like doing the whole like Casey Neistat vlog thing, you know, running around being like, I have to get over this fear of being on camera, this fear of being you know, out there and and and on. So that was a good experience. And you know, by the, you know, two days, three days in I was fine. And I would just talk to the camera walking down the street. I remember doing that in Amsterdam, just whipping out the camera and walking down the street in Amsterdam and everyone’s just sort of like another one you know. Yeah.

Josh 54:15
And that’s that’s also a good point, James of just trying something out. Because yeah, while I’m a I’m a big fan of somebody committing to something there is. There’s a lot of room to just try something out to really see what you think about it. Case in point. Before I launched my podcast the earlier that year beginning of 2019 I created a little almost like mini video podcast series it was a nine part series about scaling a Divi web design business. And that was almost my trial run to like, see like okay, how do I interview Do I like this? I know it’s not going to be perfect but how I feel about this because it was both the video show and the kind of an audio type podcast.

Josh 55:01
Although it wasn’t actually a podcast, it was mainly just the video. But I say that to say I did nine episodes, interviewed people. And I found out that I actually really liked this I got even just a nine episodes, I got better and better each one and I got more comfortable. I was less nervous, I started asking better questions I stopped saying, and right and so and a crazy amount of filler words, I still work hard at that. But it definitely helped me with some of that. And and that was really the genesis of feeling confident to do this podcast. So again, just all to say there’s a lot of room for just trying something out to write to see what you think and to see if you’re good at it.

James 55:39
Well, I think yeah, that’s that’s one of the reasons why I said as well, like developing seasons, or having a start an end date, means you don’t have to commit to something indefinitely. That’s scary, right to think that, you know, like, you’ve got to do something for forever, or you you sort of commit to it and build up all that stress. I will say, one of the one of the neat things about sort of the way that I’ve been doing it is because we knew we were going to be launching on a specific day. And we had a bunch of people we already wanted to interview and stories we wanted to tell and share. We were able to do it out of sequence.

James 56:17
So the founder episode actually isn’t the first one I recorded. It’s actually maybe the fifth or sixth one that I’ve recorded. So it’ll be interesting as these other episodes air to see if people can figure out which one was the first. The first is also funny, because I recorded I had to record it twice. Because the first time we recorded it, I did it without having headphones in. And so there was this huge, like echoey reverb feedback going on to the whole thing. I felt so bad when I had to go to I go to my guest and say I’m sorry, I can’t get an extra hour of your time. Yeah, to re record this, which was actually really good. Because I was so nervous in that first one. I’m almost glad it was a throwaway episode because, you know, the second time around, I was like, Okay, no, I you know, like, I was so nervous to even talk. Right? Like, I just let them talk. I would I would interject a question. And as, as it’s gone on, I’ve started to go no, it’s okay for me to have an opinion. It’s okay for me to share my own thoughts, my own stories here. And so yeah, absolutely. As you go, you will, you will figure out after every episode or after every engagement with your content, what you liked about it, what you want to change or what you might want to try to in the next time around. Yeah, and that’s that’s a fun, creative adventure as well.

Josh 57:36
The the sequence is definitely interesting. I, my episodes jumble around pretty frequently, I don’t record one episode, and then launch it and record another one I did at first about the first 75 episodes. That’s how I did it. But more recently, because I’m so far out, I’m generally about a month and a half to two months out on podcast episodes now, which is great. It’s awesome to be at that point. Because that means I can take a month off and doing podcast interviews about one takes a while to get to that point. But it is interesting. I tried to keep them in sequential order. Now just because I’ve caught myself saying things that are out of order. And it can be a little confusing.

Josh 58:13
But it is interesting that that’s an option. You could go either way you could do things in order, or you could do things completely randomly, or and one of the best, I think most important things to remember with content now, whether it’s YouTube, WordPress, blog, podcast, whatever, is you can bulk record. And you can like you can have two days a week where you record interviews and do content, you can schedule it out, and then you can take a week or two off. I do that all the time. This is honestly why I have my week set up to where I only generally record on Tuesdays and Wednesdays sometimes Thursdays. But those are my recording days. And I’m able like if I’m a couple months ahead, I don’t have to record podcasts. Like I’m doing quite a few podcasts this week. The next like three weeks, I don’t think I have any podcast interview scheduled. So I hope that’s freeing for people to remember, just because you do a weekly show doesn’t mean that you need to actually record once a week you can you can do them in bulk and then release them whenever.

James 59:14
That’s been a huge win for me. And I think it’s interesting. You know, when when you because I’ve known that I’ve I was going to be doing this show for about five or six months before we actually sat down and started doing it. I was able to take a look at how other people were doing it. And I read a lot of you know, people like people’s stories of how they started their podcasts and how they started their YouTube channel. And I picked up I tried to consume as much as I could on the strategy, the tech the approach to content creation as I possibly could try to develop a system that would work well for me and one of the things that I saw on a show that that I was watching was They, they took two weeks and they filmed, you know, an inside an entire season for them in two weeks.

James 1:00:05
I went, Oh, that makes a ton of sense a thoroughly half an hour episodes, right, you know, maybe record for an hour, then you get eight hours in eight episodes in a day kind of thing, right or, or five if you if that’s too much. But think about that, like you could get 10 episodes done in in two days. And that’s 10 weeks of content. That’s, you know, that’s, that’s incredible. So that was really freeing for me, because my big worry, and it still is is, you know, the tyranny of the next episode, like it’s coming, you know, the next episodes coming in launch days around the corner and not wanting to get stuck in a spot where I was throwing out bad content, because I didn’t have anything else. And I was worried about, you know, like the algorithm or whatever it is about, you know, like trying to make sure I was consistent. I think that’s important. But I want to do that from a place of energy and quality as opposed to a place of desperation.

Josh 1:01:00
It’s a good point, the quality versus quantity thing is something that I struggle with big time I’ve I’ve fluctuated with the amount of podcasts I do per month. And then now that I’m implementing YouTube, I’m debating on at the end of 2021, maybe just going to one podcast a week, because right now I’m doing about six a month, on average, I like to sprinkle in some solo episodes. So I’m kind of trying to bait the bait on, you know, what’s working to make sure it is quality. And same thing with the YouTube videos i i try to stick to one a week. But I’m not going to be shy about maybe having a couple weeks off if I make a really good bigger video.

Josh 1:01:30
But again, the beauty about all that is you can record a lot and create a lot and as a couple weeks or a few weeks, and then that can last you for several months, potentially. So that’s a really important point. Because I think a lot of people as busy business owners think there’s no way I have time for content marketing. But this is actually something I told an old realtor client of mine. And it blew her mind. I was like, what if you wrote, you know, if you wanted to do one pie, or one blog posts every couple of weeks, what have you on a Friday, took a few hours and just wrote, you know, three or four articles will suddenly barring the distribution and some tweaking, there’s like two months of content for you right there.

Josh 1:02:15
And she was like, Oh, I didn’t think about that. So I don’t need to like every Friday, literally right? I could do it like in a bulk of time. I was like, yep, that’s exactly how I do it. And it’s a really, really freeing thought. And it’s it’s honestly comforting for me to remember that. Because it’s so easy to fall in the trap of like constant continuous content. But the fact is consistency and and the amount of time somebody gets to hear you. And if you hit them on these different channels, it really does build that trust and authority. So all really good points. I’m curious, as we’ve kind of get putting a cap on this conversation. What is the plan for, I guess, quote, unquote, measuring success of this channel? I imagine it’s not going to be about the number of views necessarily, but are you going to, you know, over the rest of 2021. And in the next year, do you foresee maybe just looking at me I’m sure that factoring into sales will be a part of it. But are you going to look at the the type of community and the responses that you’re getting? Well, what’s what’s the measuring of success look like with this channel?

James 1:03:20
I have? Maybe not, unsurprisingly, a three to five year plan for the channel. Because again, I like to plan and think and prep in advance. But you know, we don’t know yet. What audience is going to be excited about input. So another good reason for us to have a separate brand is what if it fails? What if it doesn’t work? Well then it’s easy to kill without having to kill off Gravity Forms, right? Like it doesn’t negatively impact our core product and our core brand it allowed we have this freedom to spin something up to test it out, see if it if it finds an audience and then and then burn it off if it doesn’t.

James 1:04:08
But you know, like, I’ll let you in on the strategy and and I don’t know if I should but it’s probably okay. But but you know, we don’t we don’t know yet what what the audience is going to be so so right now for I think the next six months to the to a year it’s let’s see, if we can grow an audience and how big of an audience we can grow. Can we create some stickiness with a following and cannot begin to fuel its own growth? Can it begin to grow itself organically, whether that’s through algorithms through search through recommendations through, you know, sharing across social, like, let’s see what it can do that way. And if we can get to a place where we’re confident that it can sustain itself from a growth from an audience growth point of view, then it becomes a question of okay, how then do we Like what steps we want to take to generate revenue, not generate profit, but generate revenue? Can we get it to a place where it’s generating revenue?

James 1:05:08
If we can do that, whatever that that monetization strategy looks like, right now that could be connecting it directly to Gravity Forms calm and selling, you know, products and licenses, but maybe not, maybe it’s something completely different. And so we want to be open to whatever that could be. And then from there, if we can generate revenue, then it becomes okay, how do we then make it profitable? How do we get it from, from just bringing money in to streamlining things or cutting away things or starting things that are going to actually help it go from just generating something to generating enough that it’s actually profitable and sustainable in the long run?

Josh 1:05:45
Well, the really cool thing about a podcast and a video show, and I’m not sure how far you’ve thought into this, or whether you’re expecting this, but this interview right here is an offshoot of me coming onto the show, and you interviewing me? And I don’t know, have you anticipated that. So like, you’re able to talk to my audience and audience about this, you didn’t have to run a Facebook ad to reach them, you didn’t have to do any sort of other marketing, you just came on my show.

Josh 1:06:11
That is one of the biggest benefits with doing any sort of interview or YouTube show podcast, whatever is you immediately expand your network. It’s like networking groups. And this is, this is something that I learned early on, when I joined a networking group, it wasn’t just those people who were my clients, it was who they knew. And that is the beauty about podcasts and video shows is, not only are the guests that you’re bringing on, are you going to influence and be able to, you know, to gain from but suddenly, they may want to have you on their shows, and they may want to promote input and in you best believe when my episode drops on input, I’m going to share it and then suddenly my audience is looking at it.

Josh 1:06:51
So there’s definitely a trickle down effect that is very unique with podcasts. It’s one reason I love podcasting is I’ve seen it work like this. It’s like, I’ll hear somebody will join one of my courses. They’re like, Oh, yeah, I heard you on, you know, somebody else’s show. And then that’s how I came across you. And it’s amazing. I love that because it’s like, organic, real marketing that yes, it does take time, but it’s it beats running, you know, targeted ads that can be sometimes really expensive. So I’m curious to see how that’s gonna pan out for you guys in season one and onward.

Josh 1:07:26
So I’m really excited for you, man, I again, I was kind of curious about what the end goal was, it sounds like it’s, you know, a little bit open ended with kind of seeing how it goes, which is great because you can pivot, tweak things if need be, or see how it responds the cool thing and I’m going to make a prediction for you guys. I think it’s going to be pretty big because I know when Elegant Themes when they were really promoting Divi, they launched divination, which was a story driven, user based show and I was on that it really piqued my interest with the community of Divi. I think that’s kind of what you guys will probably experience with Gravity Forms to is, you’ll get a lot of different users. And as you will know, been in the WordPress world for so long. It’s such a generous and giving type of community I could see it spreading like wildfire. So

James 1:08:15
I hope so, you know, the flipside to the good is, is you’re always nervous about, you know, the critiques and how it’s actually going to be received. I think it’s launch day for me. So funnily enough, we got a dislike on our video.

Josh 1:08:31
Oh, that’s gonna happen that I know, I saw I saw the thumbs down. So I, when I looked at that, I looked at it pretty quickly, because I was excited to see what the first couple episodes are going to be like. So I think I saw on Facebook that you guys mentioned the first episode was out. So I looked at I think there was like, you know, maybe 30 some views at the beginning and you’ve already got a thumbs down, I get the same thing if that’s one thing that I realized with YouTube in particular, it’s kind of one reason I love audio podcast, they can’t like or dislike an episode. YouTube is brutal. And you could you could make a video, and you could be the most helpful person with the most kind message and you could just have the utmost care and genuine, you know, love for somebody in the world in some douchebag is going to give it a thumbs down.

Josh 1:09:19
It just It always happens whether it’s a troll was just a sarcastic person thinking they’re being funny, whatever it is. So I don’t know, I say that to say don’t worry about that. And in fact, I learned pretty early on with my YouTube channel. If I don’t get a few haters. I’m probably doing something wrong. i You got to get a few haters in there. And then you know, okay, my channel is actually getting some traction because now there’s some people who are either putting spammy links or some sort of, you know, troll type of message. So, in a weird way, that’s actually a bit of a measure for success as the more haters you get, you’re probably getting 10 times as many people who really love it so

James 1:09:54
Well that is one thing you’ll see I I’m I’m fine with it only because the The dislike actually came before the episode premiered. So it was not even, they hadn’t even seen the episode, they were just being funny. I would not be surprised if it was somebody from Gravity Forms just being cheeky and actually do this, like just for the just for the fun of it. But now they’re not like they’re not that bad. So

Josh 1:10:19
One of my one of my mentors is Pat Flynn. And he’s a really well known entrepreneur, and he went live during COVID, every day for a year. And I would tune into some of his live streams. And it was always funny, because the minute he would go live, he’d get like two or three thumbs downs. And a couple of times people would say, like, who’s giving a thumbs down? And even Pat said, he’s like, Oh, that’s to be expected, you know, like, it’s not anything I’m worried about. Because because he’s used to, you know, he’s had to develop a lot of fixed game, which he was actually on this podcast in Episode 100. And he talked about dealing with trolls, and how to get over them to not take it personally.

Josh 1:10:58
So yeah, didn’t mean for this conversation to go there. But I definitely am interested in doing a whole conversation on dealing with trolls or a whole episode about that, because I’ve definitely had to learn to get some thick skin and just not respond. Sometimes I just had to tell myself, Josh, don’t respond. It’s not worth it. Let it go and keep on creating good content. So good stuff, James. Well, awesome, man. Well, hey, I’m so pumped for you. I was going to ask where you’d like people to go. I don’t that’s probably not a shocker. But you know, input is is the channel? Do you want them to go to a certain website? Do you want them to go to View to where would you like my ons to go to find out more about the show?

James 1:11:36
I mean, you can find Input. If you search really hard on Apple, and Spotify and YouTube, so probably the best place to go is just welcome to input.com. And across all the socials at Welcome to input. So we try to keep it really simple that way and make it easy for people to find it.

Josh 1:11:54
Beautiful. Yeah, we’ll link that in the show notes. Just last question for I’m curious, what are you most excited about with this whole endeavor? Is it like a personal growth thing that you enjoy? What what are you personally super excited about it? Or is it just seeing it come to life after months and months of work and in planning?

When I was getting started, I was brainstorming, like what this content would be, initially the idea of connecting creativity with purpose. – James

James 1:12:15
You know, I have to give a bunch of props to Gravity Forms, because they did not put a lot of limits or restrictions on me and my thinking about this, like, you know, you can get started relatively cost effectively, but I wanted to go big. And the amount of money that they poured into me and into this, to make it possible has been huge. But even more than that. One of the like, it was interesting, when when I was getting started, I was brainstorming, like what this content would be, initially the idea of connecting creativity with purpose, that’s our tagline for input, that was actually a separate show, that was going to be my own personal thing.

James 1:13:02
And, and I can remember I walked into a meeting with with my manager, Mark, and I were, you know, just doing our one on ones like we normally do. And at the end of it, we’re talking about concept for the show and what it might be and where it could go. And I said, you know, I just want you to know, I’ve got this idea to do these stories, you know, that are both inside and outside the WordPress ecosystem. And like, my personal mission is to connect creativity with purpose. But if I could do this, with the blessing of Gravity Forms, how I like that, that would just be amazing. You just let that mean, you said why not? Yeah, right.

Josh 1:13:44
Cool.

James 1:13:44
And why not? And that was really the birth of input, because all of a sudden, it was like, you know, like, I think we all do this, we put barriers in front of ourselves, like, although never go for that, or oh, you know, this could never happen or that they might, you know, like even asking for, for the kind of lighting that I wanted to get for the studio or the microphone, I want to get, oh, that’s just going to be too much. But what I have found with Gravity Forms is that they’re so supportive of letting they’re like they hire and they trust their team. Right, they hire well. And then they trust their team to do things and and for me, it was like, like, every time I put that barrier in front of myself, you know, I talk it out with my managers nervous but it’s just ask, and they’ve, they’ve been amazing.

James 1:14:32
And so for me to have their blessing to do that. What I’m most satisfied about is what the audience will get is authentically me and authentically Gravity Forms and that marriage of the of our cultures together. There’s me through and through and because of that I’m that much more passionate about it. I’m that much more energized. You know, I will Work a Saturday like I did a couple weeks ago to build a website in a day so that I could have an RSS feed right? Like, I will do that because this is as much me as it is Gravity Forms and. And so that’s yeah, that’s what’s what I’m most excited about with this is being able to see that come to life and come to fruition.

Josh 1:15:18
That’s awesome, man.

James 1:15:20
Yeah,

Josh 1:15:20
I meant to ask you this. I was gonna ask you this after we we signed off, but I’ll just keep it rolling here. How are you planning are how have you got guests? Because that’s a whole different strategy as well. I know when people think about doing interviews, it’s Metasys. Earlier, but yeah, the the question is like, what’s the strategy for getting guests? Do you have a certain strategy? Or is it been more organic or user base? What does that look like?

James 1:15:46
Yeah, so again, because we start from a position of planning, or I start from a position of planning, I already know the topic. So because I know the topic of every episode for the 23 episodes in our season, I already can it for me, that’s really helpful in narrowing down the type of guests that I might go after. So but sometime, but it’s different. So I’ve had my episodes, I still have some blank spots. So if you are somebody who’s in the agency space, and you want to be on the show, you can go to welcome to input com and sign up. But but the strategy has been start with my network, start with people I know.

James 1:16:26
And I was really surprised about the kind of people that I knew, like I had published authors in my network, I had radio broadcasters, I had TV hosts, I had, you know, agency executives, I had amazing freelance content creators in my network. And so I started there and then filled in all the slots, I could and then as we started doing interviews, all of a sudden, my guess would start saying, Oh, actually, I know so and so yeah, you should let me introduce you to them, because that they would be a great fit. And I think as I shared the vision for what input is, with every guest, as they come on, I was take a few minutes just to sort of talk about what the show is about. They, you know, like, they’ve been really eager to introduce me to people. So that’s, that’s how I got Steven Christian, the lead singer of, you know, Amberlynn to come on, because he was a contact with another guests. And it’s like, Whoa,

Josh 1:17:22
I just probably back in high school man. Amberlynn.

James 1:17:24
Wow, tell me about it.

Josh 1:17:26
It was like what like, this is this is from like, my history, like, I like

James 1:17:31
That it got me through my 20s Kind of. That’s funny, you know, like, it’s so interesting, like, how that’s happened. So part of it is that, but my big challenge, and I think this is a challenge of the pandemic, this is a challenge of where the world is at right now is that my personal network is not nearly as diverse as I wish it would, could be or is, and so that the kinds of voices are the voices that rise to the top or the voices that are the most likely to promote themselves or, or be promoted. And often they look and sound like me, and, and so for me that the biggest challenge has been trying to find voices from underrepresented groups. And really make sure like, we get lots of women involved, and lots of people of color, and people with different backgrounds and abilities to come in and tell their stories and be part of it. So that for me right now is the hunt. That’s the hard part is finding diverse voices to be on the show. The rest of it’s fairly easy, like I could fill it up with, you know, white guys till the cows come home. But I want to show that’s more representative of who we are, as, you know, a community of people as a world. So

Josh 1:18:51
Yeah, well, the organic thing about all that no matter, you know, what the what the diversity looks like, like once you get one guess again, it’s like the networking effect, they likely know a ton of other people. And then that’s it. That’s how you get opened up to so many amazing people. I know. Trying to think back the way I got on the show, I didn’t ask to request to be on the show. I talked to gravity forms about getting a special affiliate page done for my audience. And then I forget who I talked to was like, You know what they were like, you have a really cool channel going on here. You should talk to James. He’s doing a show for Gravity Forms like a YouTube type show. And I was like, perfect, let’s do it.

Josh 1:19:28
So it is so interesting, the different ways you can get connected. But I think your point of having a more strategic approach for certain types of guests, you know, whether it’s story driven, and the thing, the reality is, too, you don’t want the same type of stories over and over, which can happen in the in the WordPress realm. So I think that’s really cool. It’s interesting. Let me look real quick at the schedule. Let’s see, we’ll be so just a few episodes before you. I had an entrepreneur who I think Walter is in his maybe 70s. So to have him on the show and he is a guy of Color, like a very different type of guest for my show. But wow, did he give some of the most amazing business advice for my audience as somebody who’s gone through decades of entrepreneurialship, which is really cool.

Josh 1:20:13
So it is really cool to see, you know, a whole different set of stories come to live in. The reality is everyone does have a different story. So even if there are similarities, I think the fact that you keep it real, and you dive into those deep topics, that’s when it gets less surfacey. And more real. So yeah, man. Well, I’m super pumped. Well, to avoid this becoming a two hour conversation, James, I know you’re worn out. You’re beat understandably so after a huge launch day, but I’m super pumped for input. We’ll have all these links in the show notes. Thanks so much for your time today, man. And I’m really looking forward to seeing how this thing shapes up for you guys.

James 1:20:47
Thank you, and thank you for having me.

Josh 1:20:49
Awesome, James. Cheers, man.

 

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