How to Run Live Online Courses with Pro Podcaster and Community Builder Adam Silver

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This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about how to run live online courses with pro podcaster and community builder Adam Silver. Adam is a WordPress educator and trainer, and he runs a small boutique agency in southern California. He is also from the Kitchen Sink WP podcast and Concierge WP. In this episode we learn about Adam’s journey, and he and Chris discuss the community building aspect of course creation. They get into the pros and cons of providing limited versus lifetime access to your users as well.

Adam is a strong member of the WordPress community. He is great at building and nurturing a community online. The community aspect of course building is often overlooked. Chris and Adam discuss the importance in building a community around your product or around an existing community online. He shares tips on producing consistent content, and he shares his experience with building a community of WordPress users in his local area.

Adam shares his story of how he got involved with WordPress in 2009. He was a photographer, and he was doing professional work for a company for nine months when he got laid off. He needed to build a new website for his photography portfolio, and he ended up using WordPress. He started to build up some basic WordPress sites for some people, and then he learned more about WordPress through a podcast. Then Adam attended a WordCamp, which is a WordPress conference where everyone involved in the WordPress community can get together and discuss ideas and get to know each other. Adam built up relationships through these conferences and other events like it, and now he has his own podcast and website concierge company.

Adam hosts Meetups with the local WordPress community he has built up. People come to his Meetups to share ideas, hire people, and network. Sometimes businesses will sponsor Adam’s Meetups in order to gain access to his audience. Keeping the authenticity of his original intentions with the group is what is most important to Adam with his local Meetups. Remaining true to your original reasons for starting a project can help ensure that your development is genuine, and that is exactly what Adam has strived to do with his local Meetups.

When creating a podcast, producing consistent content is key to success. So doing one podcast every week or every two weeks is what you may need to do. And when scheduling out your podcasts, you should write a list of 52 or 26 topics in whatever field your podcast is on, depending on your planned podcast schedule. Adam also believes that having a passion behind your podcast will help drive its success.

To learn more about Adam Silver you can check out his podcasts. You can find them at kitchensinkwp.com/itunes and getoptionspodcast/itunes. Adam’s course is called WordPress Essentials. He is on Twitter at @KitchenSinkWP and @heyadamsilver, and he’s also on Facebook. ConciergeWP is Adam’s website concierge company, so feel free to check that out as well.

You can post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’ve got a special guest today, Adam Silver. He’s from Kitchen Sink WP and Concierge WP. He’s a WordPress guy. He’s a course builder guy. He’s a community guy. He’s a podcaster. We’re going to get into all of that and kind of learn from Adam about his journey, what’s working, what’s not working.
And really, I wanted to bring Adam on the show because he is such a strong member of the WordPress community, and he’s great at building community, nurturing community, which is such a sometimes overlooked part of creating an online course or membership site or some kind of tribe or getting involved in a tribe that already exists. It’s not just about creating a product and launching it and not even thinking about the community piece at all or just focusing on building the email list. There’s so much more to it than that, and that’s one of the key things I wanted to discuss with Adam.
But first, Adam, thank you for coming on the show.
Adam Silver: My pleasure. Hey, Chris, that’s … Wow. Well, I’m … I feel like with all description, I have split personalities. That’s awesome. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, we’ll get into that.
Adam Silver: Yeah, I’m happy to be here. Happy to talk.
Chris Badgett: Thanks. Well, thanks for coming. For people who haven’t heard about you yet, if somebody comes up to you at a part and they say, “Who are you, and what’d you do,” what’s your elevator pitch? Or what’s your story, the stories?
Adam Silver: So I say, “Hi, I’m Adam Silver, but I’m not the Adam Silver from the NBA,” because that’s the most famous Adam Silver. “But I am a WordPress educator and trainer, and I run a small boutique agency here in Southern California.” That’s how I word it.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: It took me a while to figure that out, by the way. It took me about nine month to figure those words, “A WordPress educator and trainer, and I run a small boutique web agency.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome. I totally … I get that and appreciate that. When you do a lot of things and have a lot of interests and help people in a lot of different ways, it’s really hard to come up with an elevator pitch or whatever.
Adam Silver: Yeah. And otherwise, you know, I explain what I do. I do all these ten things within that, and people lose interest. And it’s not personal. It’s just like it’s too much to take in, so if you keep it short and concise, then people want to know exactly what that means, in the education, training, or the agency. Then, they can ask that question and peel back the layer. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Well, let’s get into your story a little bit in terms of community. How did you get involved with WordPress? And tell us about that journey into doing what you do today, which is you help … You put on a WordCamp. You have meetups. You go to conferences, WordPress conferences, events. I just saw you at PressNomics in Arizona.
Adam Silver: Yep.
Chris Badgett: What was your story? Like, how’d you first find that community, and how did you become so involved with it?
Adam Silver: So I got involved with WordPress 2009, late 2009, early 2010. It’s hard for me to remember exactly, but that’s pretty much … I’m pretty sure that’s right. I came into WordPress as a photographer. I was shooting corporate trade show, bellies … babies and bellies … You know, I started babies and bellies as a photographer, went to head shots and weddings, and then more corporate. And this was all based in Southern California, and then I moved to Colorado.
Then, I came back for a different job, so I kind of shut all that down to do some professional work for a company. And then, I got laid off nine months later. Based on that, I needed to build a new website, and I built it in WordPress. I messed around with Dreamweaver for about a week back in Colorado for a company I was doing some tech work for. And then, when I came back to California, I got laid off.
I found WordPress, didn’t know anything about the community. I had no idea. And I built the site, launched a new photography website because the old photography website was in Flash. It’s embarrassing to say, but it’s the truth. It had the swooshes, those color lines going through the header. I bought it, I think, at Template Monster, and that was dead. That was old.
So I found WordPress and built it in nothing. No business. The website’s not the end-all. It’s just a piece of the puzzle for anything, right? And then, as I was looking for more photography work, and I got some, I met some of the parents through my kids. And they asked me for help, so I started to help people basic one, two, three page websites in WordPress. And this was 2010 … No, probably 2011. Things were still clunky. I still didn’t really know. I’m not a pure developer, not a pure designer. I can implement things.
And then, I reached out. I guess I heard more about WordPress and the community based on a podcast. My buddy Dustin has one, Dustin Hartzler. He’s a good friend. Yeah, because I went to iTunes and I typed in WordPress podcast, and I found a couple. Some were already already gone and dead, and his was popular. I reached out. We became friends. I spent the night at his house. He lives in Ohio, works for Automatic now.
And then, slowly but surely, I attended a WordCamp, and I’m like, “Oh, I want to be a part of this group.” And it’s just a matter of just slow baby steps and building up. Building friendships is really what it came down to, and helping to me. And it was amazing to me. It really was amazing, Chris, that I attended WordCamp Orange County 2011 or ’12, and everybody was just really nice. And it was shocking to me in a sense, and I just didn’t really see it coming. I’m like, “This is awesome. These are my people.”
So that’s kind of the short version, and then the rest is history. I just put in the time and built friendships. I mean, and the way you and I met … I mean, who would’ve thunk it? We met two years ago at Cobble Press, right? And then, here we are two years later. I’m on your show.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, right.
Adam Silver: And I’ve had one of your … You know, one of your old business partners was on my show. It just takes … It’s an amazing community, so I’ve been a great proponent of it. And I started a meetup in Southern Cal, one of the meetups here. I led WordCamp LA last year, and I’m the lead organizer this year, as well.
So that’s the short version.
Chris Badgett: Well, let’s look at that a little bit in terms of the meetup.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: For those of you that don’t know, Meetup. Com is a website that just facilitates creating in-person gatherings around a particular topic.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: In the WordPress community, meetups are … They’re a pretty popular way for people to get together on, like, a monthly basis or something like that. But what … did you start the meetup?
Adam Silver: So there are, in Southern California, about ten in a general area. The one I used to go to was like downtown or in the West Side, and I lived down by the beach. It was kind of hard to get to. I got to it. It wasn’t a big deal. I had three young children … not that young anymore. So my wife was home, so I could go at night and do these things.
But it got problematic as far as scheduling. So there wasn’t one in my area, so I reached out to the other organizer, Natalie. And I said, “Hey, do you mind if I start one, like, in my area?” She didn’t care. I just didn’t want to step on toes, so I started one. And that was three and a half years ago. I worked about 350 people in the whole meetup. 30 to 40 are active.
So it’s just a matter of bringing people together, doing a presentation once a month, being consistent. You know, I remember trying to schedule it and asking the group, like, “When do you want to have it? Where do you want to have it,” you know? And then someone told me, “Adam, it’s your meetup. You pick what works for you, and people will show up or they won’t.” So my meetup is the third Thursday of each month. I have it a nonprofit building where my wife used to work, and people show up. And I feed people, so that’s the key, you know? We have a pretty good spread every meeting.
Well, my meetup, ironically, is … the day we’re recording this, it’s tomorrow. But obviously, this’ll be out way after the fact, but the third Thursday of the month. And we’re doing a burrito bar tomorrow night.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: So what do people get out … Just in general, if somebody has a course topic or learning platform topic and they’re thinking about starting a local meetup, which is a great idea to get out from behind the computer and engage with real people around a common interest, what … That’s, like, philosophically how it works, and you’re talking about what you do to make it successful and all that. But what do the people get … What do you get out of it as a leader, and what does the people get out of it?
Adam Silver: Okay.
Chris Badgett: Like, what are the main benefits?
Adam Silver: So I think some people come to it for different reasons, and Meetup is … So Meetup’s basic rules are to get … You have to meet in person. That’s kind of like their mantra. If you want to go birdwatching or do photographer or go surfing, it’s do something outside of your home or behind your computer. WordPress … And you can charge for meetups. A lot of groups do. They charge for events, because sometimes, there’s an extra cost, and actually, the cost to even run the meetup. You know, it’s 160 bucks a year. No big deal, technically.
I think people come in the meetup, in the WordPress, either needing help or wanting to give help or looking to hire somebody. So there’s a couple different purposes, and some people are unaware … You can be surprised. I’ve had people come to my meetup who have asked … been very forward that they want to sponsor the meetup, or they want to be on my podcast. They’re looking for a stage. They’re looking for access to my audience, and my audience is the meetup that I run or my podcast listeners, right? And I’m very protective of them, and I want to … I’m not going to shill and take your money, your sponsorship money, just because. That’s not how I play this game. It’s not a game. That’s not how I run my life. I want to be authentic, and I want to offer value in everything that I do.
So I’ve told people no many times. I won’t take your sponsorship money. Invest in keep showing up, unless you help us. Offer value, you know? Contribute in some capacity. So I think people’s intentions are varied.
Now, my intention, my purpose, is I like to share and teach and speak. Simple.
Chris Badgett: Right.
Adam Silver: And nobody else down here was going to do it, so I … So it was me, you know?
Chris Badgett: Very cool.
Adam Silver: I hope that answers your question.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, it definitely does. Yeah, I’d encourage people, if they haven’t attended a meetup or they’re thinking about starting one, that it is a good idea. I’m actually in the process right now of starting a meetup in my area where I live, on the coast of Maine. It’s called MidCoast Maine. It’s a WordPress meetup, but it’s also for people specifically … I’m not just trying to do a WordPress meetup. It’s also for educators and people who are trying to use technology and education and entrepreneurship and that kind of thing. So I’m trying to create a meetup that surrounds the issues that I’m really passionate about.
Adam Silver: So you could actually … People don’t realize this. You could actually have three groups within the same payment, by the way. You could have MidCoast Maine, and then have one for WordPress, one for educators, one for podcasting, if you want. You can break them up into three within the one payment. So people don’t realize that. So I could do another one under my one payment.
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s good to know.
Adam Silver: It’s just a little … Yeah. So people don’t know this, so I keep thinking about doing one for podcasting in the area under my main meetup, under that brand, so …
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s a great idea. Yeah. I didn’t know that you could do that.
Adam Silver: Just an FYI.
Chris Badgett: Thank you. Well, let’s talk a little bit about-
Adam Silver: See, I’m bringing value.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Well, let’s talk a little bit about conferences. And you know, you’re a pro at getting out of the building, which a lot of people struggle with. How do you decide … Like, I’ve met you at a WordPress mastermind event, a WordPress business event … My business partner Thomas works with you on a WordPress WordCamp event.
Adam Silver: Oh, right. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Like, how do you decide what to attend and lead? Like, how do you choose? Because sometimes, it can be … there’s a lot of choices. So how do you decide?
Adam Silver: So for me, I’m in a unique position that a couple years ago, my wife and I made the conscious decision that I would attend … I’ll keep this show clean, a handful of WordCamps. A bucketload. We’ll say it that way, and purpose … and with the primary purpose of me to get out to meet more people, to network.
I had a day job, and I’ve been sharing this journey also on my other podcast, so you know, on Kitchen Sink. And I had a day job for three and a half years, and it provided for us. It wasn’t a great situation. I did social media marketing for a company. It was fine. But while I did that, I taught a class in person. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. I spoke at camps and et cetera, and I did stuff, and I ran the meetups. And I really wanted to do more of that.
I love … Like, I don’t mind the social media, the job, but it was just a job. It wasn’t really … And it wasn’t just the job. It was the company I worked for I wasn’t really enthused with at the end of the day.
So we picked camps that made sense to go to where, if I could travel inexpensively enough … you know, out of pocket. And I’ve talked to Chris Lum about this, because he was on my show way back. And there’s … sometimes, there’s people discussing, like, “Oh, there’s that WordPress circuit. There’s a speaker circuit.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Well, yeah. There is a speaker circuit in any industry, for one.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: But particularly in the WordPress space, we’re all out of pocket. No one’s getting paid to speak.
Chris Badgett: Right.
Adam Silver: So now, and I remember looking at Chris that way, way back. I mean, I didn’t really give that much over … well, thought. I just overheard someone talking about it in line at a conference, and “Oh, Chris is here, and he’s in the circuit with other people.” And I’m, like, thinking so myself, so I asked him about it. He’s like, “Yeah, yeah. I’m … Sure, I speak. I go around, but we’re all out of pocket. We all pay our own way.”
And so I picked things I could … You know, I would apply to speak. If I got accepted based on the camp, I would fly out and put myself up, or I’d stay with community members. That’s also the greatest thing about WordPress community. You meet friends. I’ve traveled with people that I’ve met in person at a WordCamp.
I went to Cabo, to [inaudible 00:13:25]. I went to Costa Rica last year with my friend, Kyle Maurer, and met him at WordCamp Dayton, because he listens to my podcast. And so him and his … I talk to him every day. We have a podcast together now. We traveled together last year to Costa Rica with his wife and my wife and my family.
So I pick the camps, just, that I want to go to anyways and I want to speak at. There was a conscious decision to kind of brand me a little bit more as a subject matter expert. I guess that was my purpose, but with the long play. I’m not looking to make a quick buck. I’m looking to help community. And at the end of the day, if someone wants to hire me, great.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: You know?
Chris Badgett: Well, let’s talk about the power-
Adam Silver: And I would say … yeah, I was going to say this. But I was fortunate that I had a day job. A lot of people … it’s hard to balance. I had a day job, and I had support of my wife, so …
Chris Badgett: Yeah, those … that’s huge. That’s huge.
Well, let’s talk about …
Adam Silver: Or huge.
Chris Badgett: Let’s talk a little bit about the power of podcasting.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: I know you from Kitchen Sink WP, and then your new one with Kyle.
Adam Silver: The new one’s called Get Options Podcast.
Chris Badgett: Get Options? So you’re a prolific podcast creator.
I was also aware, because I’ve been around the WordPress for a while. And as somebody who lives in the country or more remote, not in urban areas, I rely a lot on podcasts to increase my knowledge in certain areas, WordPress being one of them. So Dustin’s podcast, a long time ago, I used to listen to about WordPress, which was great. Matt Report, all the good … There’s a lot of great WordPress podcasts out there.
But what are your … What’s your podcast portfolio now?
Adam Silver: So the two shows I have are Kitchen Sink WP.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Which I’m up to episode 169. Every Monday, it comes out. I have not missed a Monday yet, and Get Options podcast … we’re on episode 15. It also comes out on Mondays, but we’ve missed a two week stint because Kyle took a job, and he had to go do some traveling. And so you know, Kyle works for Pippin Williamson now, so … But so we do a weekly show there, too.
And I have on my board behind me … nobody can see it, but in our call here, I have ideas for three other shows. None of them are WordPress related. One’s business focused and one is just more kind of a motivational focus that’s just some other interests, so …
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: So I guess … yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, why … we’re going to get into your course that you’re building right now, and your training project. But what do you get out of podcasting? I’m sure it has some similar community building benefits, and it allows you to connect and make new friends, and … But why do you do it?
Adam Silver: I find it easier to speak than I do to write 800 words weekly.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Adam Silver: Like, so, I tell people all the time, “Do what makes the most sense for you.” If you want to blog, then blog. If you want to make a video, do a video. If you want to podcast, do a podcast. And I have spoken about this at length at other conferences recently, this past six-eight months. The secret to success … consistency. Whatever you’re going to do, do it, and be consistent.
I’ve miscategorized the category in WordPress for the podcast to be picked up by the feed in iTunes, the RSS. I’ve missed it twice in 169 episodes, and I’ve heard about it. You know, people become accustomed to getting your show at a certain date and time, right? Whether they listen to it later … but some people run to my show. Some people do dishes, drive in traffic, who knows. But I’ve missed the checkbox, the podcast category, and I get a tweet or a text. “Hey, where’s the show?” So the consistency’s key.
So I really enjoy doing it. And right when I think no one’s listening, I get an email from somebody, which is really flattering. I have some people listening in Sri Lanka, Dubai … and what’s the other one? I just got another one not too long ago. Was it … I think it was Norway. So it’s out of the blue, like, “Hey, we like your show. We’re in Norway.” I’m like, “Sweet,” you know?
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: We do …
Chris Badgett: That’s really cool.
Adam Silver: It’s very cool.
Chris Badgett: And if people want to … Can you say the names of them again, and where people can find them?
Adam Silver: Yeah, so if you go to kitchensinkwp.com/itunes, you’ll get to it. And if you go to Get Options Podcast /itunes, you can also get there. You can also listen to it on the main website, as well.
And the Get Options show, just so people can know, it’s a little bit irreverent. It’s a lighter side. It’s a Q&A show. People send in questions or voicemails, and we answer them. We give options … some good, some not so good, and we try to have fun with the show. We don’t take it too seriously, but we give … Actually, that’s not true. We do take it seriously, but the first round of options may not be the best to choose from.
And we based it off of an old radio show called … Click and Clack, the car guys, Car Talk, where people would call up and say, “Hey, my 1979 Toyota Tercel makes a weird noise when I turn left. What do I do?” And one of the brothers would say, “Don’t turn left,” you know? So that kind of … We have fun that way.
And Get Options is a query in the database, that option. So that’s … so yeah.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, I just want to say that I think podcasting … that in general, the ship has not sailed.
Adam Silver: Oh, not at all.
Chris Badgett: We may be technologists here and early adopters of podcasting as a medium. When we’re driving around in our car or exercising or doing the dishes or whatever, we may have our earbuds plugged in, listening. But I’m envisioning a time in the future where podcasts are going to be even more accessible inside cars. Maybe they already are in certain ways, but people are going to start adopting it more.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: And when you go around, you want to listen to exactly what you want to listen to.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Not, like, the pop charts of information.
Adam Silver: Yeah, like, okay. I literally listen to about 30 hours a week of podcasts, ranging from one other … one or two other … I listen to Dustin’s show still. He’s a good friend. And we all … and Dustin actually is the one who challenged me to do one. “I want to do my own podcast.” He’s like, “Do it,” for about four months. He’s like, “Is it done? Is it done?” I’m like, “No.”
And we have the same topics. In essence, we’re going to overlap to some extent. We have the same … a similar style. Different format of the show, but just because I … You know, it’s something that … Not everybody’s going to like his voice or his take on things or mine. It’s also hard to podcast about a technical topic, so my show is short. His used to be a lot longer. He’s shortened it up, also. I think he realized I was right, you know? My show is about 15 minutes or less, unless I interview somebody.
But I share tip and tool of the week … I have a format to my show, so it’s pretty basic. But I think podcasting is still here to stay, and growing by far.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: It’s still a great medium. You can be very niche, you know? And the fact is, I have a pretty good following now in my niche, in the niche of WordPress. You know, I average decent numbers of downloads, but you know …
Do you know how many … Yeah, how many downloads do you have? Do you know, on your show, on this show?
Chris Badgett: I honestly have a-
Adam Silver: Do you look at analytics?
Chris Badgett: I have a complete fail on analytics. I’ve never even looked at them.
Adam Silver: So I look. I keep on track.
Chris Badgett: And again, I hear people all the time who say like, “Hey, I’ve been listening to your podcast, or I saw you on YouTube.” Like, I know it works as a way to reach people and connect. I just don’t …
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: I haven’t gotten into the analytics of it. I should.
Adam Silver: Yeah, and I’ve got [inaudible 00:20:38] sponsors, so I do know my average downloads per week. And it’s on steady growth, and that’s the thing. Nothing has zoomed me straight up, and that’s fine. It’s been slow and steady.
And I always tell people … Here’s how I express a podcast to people. They say, “Hey, should I do a podcast?” I’m like, “Do you want to speak every week? Do you like to talk to people, in a sense, that are out there?” “Yes.” And I say, “What you need to do is you need to pick a topic that you could have … If your subject … you come up with 26 ideas, then it may not be the right …” And they go, “Why 26?” I go, “That’s every other week for a year.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Okay? Instead of saying, “Do 52,” 26, you know? Or even 25, and take two weeks off, if you really want. Like, okay. But right out … Like, so if your topic is gems, if you can come up with 26 things within gemstones to talk about … If they can’t, then it may not … You need to have passion behind it.
I am surprised, on a weekly basis, that I’ve done 169 episodes. You know, every week, I’m like, “Well, I’m talking about something.” I have ideas all the time, but I want to speak intelligently about them and not just be too surface-y. And still, not all my shows … I’m honest … I’ve been happy with. I’ve only scrubbed, started over probably four times in the three years that I’ve been at it where I’m like, “Oh, that sucked. Let me rewrite that. Let me just figure something out and reword all of that.” But other than that, I just let it go, because it’s not the end-all. A, it’s a podcast. B, it’s part of the bigger picture of helping the community and driving traffic and getting people interested in what I do, so …
But yeah, my long play is I still do it because I love doing it, so …
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, let’s transition into talking a little bit about your course, your big launch.
Adam Silver: Yes.
Chris Badgett: What is it, and what’s it called?
Adam Silver: So my current course is called WordPress Essentials. It used to be called something else, but I had to stop because of a cease and desist.
And I used to teach in person. For about four years, I taught it in a five week session at the adult school locally, and I loved it. I really did. But when I went solo on my own, I was paid hourly as a district employee, technically, as a teacher. You know, as an adult school teacher, and it was great. I really liked it. It was extra money, in the sense of … because I had that day job, so it really didn’t matter. And I gave a lot. All the students got a subdomain to work in, like, a sandbox. And then, they would take the class. You couldn’t hire me in those five weeks.
But then, they would eventually come around and join my meetup and then come around, maybe. Out of, let’s say, 15 students, I might get a client or two for some hourly work or for a small project. It was great, and it put me in the community. Again, another way to be in front of people, and I really like teaching the basics of WordPress, WordPress Essentials.
When I left the day job, I decided to not teach at the adult school and do it on my own, and to do it in person, still. Charge more, so … because I had to rent a space, you know? And I had to do all that, all my own marketing, and it didn’t go so well. I tried to do two or three sessions.
Originally, the class was like 84 bucks for the adult school. I was going to charge 249, which is still a pretty good deal, in my opinion. And then, when I had three people sign up, it’s not enough to pay for the rent of the space. I waited a few months, did it again at 199. Still not enough, and I did it one more time. I had two or three people, so I had to refund people. I lost money on all three tries, because I had to … the refund, PayPal kept … They kind of messed it up, so I lost probably 50 bucks on all that.
And then, I decided to transition it and make it online as a webinar, live webinar class, and it’s doing better.
Chris Badgett: So let’s talk about that. Why-
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Why not create a WordPress Essentials video course? Why do the webinar? Like, the live option?
Adam Silver: Okay. So I’ll tell you why, because my friend Cory over at A2 Hosting … he and I, we talk all the time. And he’s really smart, and he’s in marketing. And sometimes, you just don’t … It’s almost like a married couple. I wasn’t here when he was saying, “I was thinking what you were thinking, as far as put together a video, make it dripped out over a four week start and stop.” You know, just, “What’s the way? Well, what’s the best way to go? How much do I charge?”
The indecision was killing me, as well. So Cory kept saying, “Just do it online. Do it online.” I’m like, “Okay. And I have to go make the videos, record them, edit them, install it …” And I’ve used Lifter, and I mean, I’ve tested a few times. I’ve done a review on my show a couple times, as well as some other competitors. And then, well, I go, “Which platform do I use?” Because I’m friends with everybody who makes these platforms, and I’m still torn, to tell you the truth. It’s kind of funny.
So Cory was saying it, and I just wasn’t hearing it. He’s like, “No, no. Take what you have. Don’t go with the videos right now. You have people who want your class. Take it, make it shorter. Make it three weeks. Drop the price to $99, and do it as a live webinar.” I’m like, “Oh, like, do it live?” And I didn’t even think about that. I’m like, “Okay.”
So I created a quick splash page, did … And I had five signups within the first day, so there was something there.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: And because I bought into Webinar Ninja like a year ago through a special. I got it for 50 bucks lifetime. So now, it’s like 45 a month, so I was like, “Okay,” figured it out, got students. I did a first run three weeks ago, four weeks ago, coming up. So I had ten students. It was great.
There are problems, in my opinion, with it, doing it this way. It’s great because it’s live. People pay for it. You get the recordings, versus in my class, you didn’t get a recording. If you missed a class, you missed a class. Here, if you miss it or you have to leave early, you still get a recording.
The problem is the feedback loop. I really like this. You and I, right now, can see each other and hear each other.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: And in person, you have that dynamic in a classroom setting. People ask questions.
In the Webinar Ninja way, there’s a chatroom. I can see the chat window, but I can’t hear you. So I’m not sure. It’s a different … I can’t assess certain things. So there’s that aspect on the feedback loop, which I don’t like. But it is what it is.
And then, down the line, I’m still launching … and I still have to acquire new students every … so every time I want to do this. And if you can’t take a class online when I offer it, I lose a sale, right?
So I will probably transition this bit to doing a standardized course video set, you know, using an LMS. So it might be cheaper. You take it. You get the videos. You’re on your own. If you want access to me and/or the subdomain and somewhere one on one or a group call every week, it’s going to cost more. I’ll do different tiers and that kind of thing. So that’s what I’m looking at.
Chris Badgett: Well, let me ask you, how many …
Adam Silver: Yeah?
Chris Badgett: For the $99 three week course, how many webinars is it, and how long are they?
Adam Silver: Oh, so it’s three webinars.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Adam Silver: So it’s three lives on Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. Pacific to noon, two hours, up to two hours. And the two hours is twofold. One, that’s really all people can really take, you know?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: In my opinion. And two, it’s also the limitation of Webinar Ninja, so it worked out really well. Yeah, so yeah. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: So what’s the learning objective? Like, in your three week WordPress Essentials course, what are they trying … What’s the benchmark of success?
Adam Silver: I think having a really comfortable … a comfort level with the back end of WordPress, the dashboard, all the settings. How to add a post, a page, a theme, a plugin, make some customizations. Nothing with code. No CSS. No PHP, none of that. A once-over. It’s really essentials. It’s basics.
And I also do a ton of best practices, liking of things, video concepts … you know, like, not installing … not uploading videos your actual shared hosting, but using a service as I do that. So I go over that breadth of … you know, here’s what I’ve learned in the … I’ve been doing this. Even though hosts say it’s unlimited bandwidth, it’s really not. You know, you put up a video that gets a lot of plays, they’re going to shut you down, because that’s not what they want on shared hosting.
So I go over a lot of best practices, a lot of … I don’t know how else I want to word it. Just information things and resources, as well. Where to find themes, the difference between the premium/freemium model as well, so …
And then, as questions … and the e-commerce comes up all the time. Like, people say, “Hey, are you going to teach a second version of this or an advanced course?” But once you say advanced, it means ten things to ten different people … ten different things, you know what I mean, to ten different people. Because what’s advanced to you might be theme development or plug-in development or e-commerce or a gallery. It just depends, right? Or social media or analytics.
So the most popular is really e-commerce, and I’m planning on doing an e-commerce course. But again, I’m thinking about doing a low cost of entry, in-person, three hours, WooCommerce course, and then maybe convert that to an online, as well. I don’t know. It’s tough. I’m torn. I’m not sure.
You tell me. What’s better to go? How should I go about this, Chris?
Chris Badgett: Well, I’m still in the information-gathering phase.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: But I want to say that I really commend you on what you’re doing, because what I would call that in the world we operate in, with the launching an online course business … one of the things we recommend is to pilot a course. And you’re doing textbook piloting.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: You’re doing it in person. You’re trying to validate. You’re doing it live with this robust … Well, and you don’t have a great feedback loop, which we’ll talk about in a second, because of the limitations with Webinar Ninja and just the format there. But you’re doing that, and really, when you do that, then you figure out and you get all those questions back and forth, like what people actually want. What’s really working well?
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: What’s not working well? What’s missing? And then, when it … Then, you really earn the right, in some ways, to make a … Not earn the right, but confidently launch a more passive course.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: With the confidence that you know it has what it needs to give people that learning outcome. And you can still … Like, even before you go fully passive … and maybe you never will, and that’s great. You can still have a passive course with, like, a weekly ask me anything office hour group thing.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: And then, you still have that feedback loop. And you can charge more for your course, because you have that personalized medium available.
Adam Silver: Well, yeah.
Chris Badgett: And just-
Adam Silver: And the other side-
Chris Badgett: Go ahead.
Adam Silver: I mean, I could always … I could take it away form Webinar Ninja. I could put it here on Zoom, and then there’s that feedback loop. I could share me screen. There’s other services. It’s just that what I’m using works because of the registration format, because that ninja has the automatic reminders of, “Hey, this is coming up.” Those little things are there. They’re in place.
You know, like anything else, there’s no perfect solution. They’re just what works for you right now. And I know of a guy who charges a lot of money for a class. Like, $2000. It’s for podcasting. It does really well, but his is a four week class, and it starts and stops. And a lot of people … they start the class, and they stop it on purpose, because they take … They open enroll, they close enrollment, and it starts. And you can ask any questions you want in that four weeks. That way, everyone’s along on the same ride.
Now, whether or not they get their show on the air, whether or not you get your site launched, you can only do so much. But that way, if you need to make changes for the next round, you can, because WordPress changes. You know, we’re at 4.75 that came out yesterday. By the time … who knows? Maybe something changes in 4.8 that we need to update the videos for.
And to have a passive video … to me, the issue is, you know, what if something’s totally different or wrong and I have to go fix it? I don’t know. Just, it’s a personal thing that I probably need to get over to some extent.
And then, also, the questions. You don’t want … I mean, you’re right. If it’s lower cost and passive, and here’s all the content. You’re on your own, great. If you want more help and guided help or a subdomain and a sandbox to test it, that costs more, because I have to set that up.
So there’s pros and cons to all of it, right? So …
Chris Badgett: Absolutely.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: And I think that shows a lot of just keen thought into what’s going on, like, and how WordPress changes. Like, for example, about four years ago … maybe longer. I created my first WordPress course. I put it on Udemy. I never updated it, and recently, Udemy actually took it down. I’m not sure why. It might’ve been because it was outdated or something. There’s a lot of issues going on with Udemy, but like, I didn’t keep it updated. I moved on to other things, and a lot of people got a lot of value. I got up to, like, 10 thousand people in that course.
Adam Silver: Wow.
Chris Badgett: But I didn’t make that commitment to stay with it.
Adam Silver: Well, right.
Chris Badgett: And a software like WordPress … I mean, the interface looks different. It’s changed so much. It’s not … I mean, it was a good piece of content at the time, but it’s kind of run its shelf life.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: And I think that the … I’d like to invert or take the opposite approach sometimes on the passive income, make something that’s evergreen, make money while you sleep concept that doing … I’m actually not a big fan of lifetime access.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: Because I like the cohort approach, and to travel with a group of students and build a learning community that’s like, everybody’s at the same place. That’s a really cool way to approach it, and really valuable.
Adam Silver: But here’s the question, though.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: For yourself and for people listening, how do you balance the fact that … Look, I have to launch every … I’m launching every three weeks a new session, versus … And that’s a hard way to show consistent income. It’s going to vary, because you … I don’t know. I’m not at a point yet where yes, I have a following, and yes, it’s growing.
Like, this next set of classes, the students I have … I don’t know anybody in this next set. The first set, I knew almost everybody. It was weird. Some people took the class again. They wanted a refresher. Some people were referrals based on the meetups and the community. They were supporting me, which is great. This next set of 15 students … Right now, I don’t know any of them, which is pretty cool.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Some are far. Someone’s … I think one’s back in … I think Rhode Island. I think they signed up this morning. I think it was Rhode Island.
But I’m almost tempted on having an offering of a membership site, because a membership site is value, as well, as long as you’re adding content and adding extra questions and making a forum. Then, people are paying 10, 15, 20 bucks a month, right? And you know what that value is. Every month, you can see it, and you can some turnover and some attrition, right? But I … that concept idea from a business perspective better, but from a perspective of … I guess it goes back now with … We didn’t even touch on that whole impostor syndrome. Like, “Well, people are going to pay to be in my membership course?” I don’t know. So I don’t know.
Chris Badgett: I think they will. I mean, they already are.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: And I mean, to me, $99 with direct access live calls actually sounds a little on the cheaper side.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: But like, pricing is a big thing. So if you want to get into recurring monthly revenue, which you definitely want as an entrepreneur and a person who has bills to pay, you can do that. But you have to provide recurring value, so …
Adam Silver: Right. Right.
Chris Badgett: But having a … Like, I love positioning things where, “Okay. Here’s the lower end offer. Here’s the higher end offer, and here’s …” You know, so that you can meet the market wherever they are.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: So for like, somebody who just wants to dip their toes in the water, maybe the membership is a good idea. But they don’t get any live access, or maybe that’s a place where past people who went through the webinar series could just keep as long as it was useful to stay up to speed and stay current and reference, like … Well, let me go back to that lesson about this. Or maybe Adam’s updated the video on this, because the users screen looks different, or something like that.
Adam Silver: Yeah. Yeah, and I was just like-
Chris Badgett: And you do it all. I mean, you have a podcast. You have a community. You have Concierge WP, where you provide service. And then, you have education. So as long as you’re surrounding your … the same customer, just at different stages or kind of the same community …
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: There’s no reason not to have all these different offers and figure out what works.
Adam Silver: Right. You know, and I’m pretty … I made the decision … I think it was nine months ago. No, not quite, but seven months ago, about a month or two after I left the day job, on the branding of how … what I was doing. Because if I was talking to somebody at a conference, I had a business card with me for Kitchen Sink. But they were asking me about maintenance and updates and/or development. I’d give them my Kitchen Sink card. I’d go, “But email me here.” And so, it’s confusing.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: And my parent company name was Silver Lining Productions. That’s my d/b/a, my LLC. It was very confusing, you know? So I made the conscious decision to say, “Okay. These are the two brands. This is how I divvy it out.” Some of my billing, like, comes from an SLP account because of my taxes and stuff, and clients don’t care about that. That’s fine. You know, I use FreshBooks. It’s not a big deal.
But now, I’m very clear that Concierge WP is development, maintenance, that type of work for money. Nothing … technically, nothing is there given away at the moment. You know, no blog, even. Actually, that site’s going to get updated as well. It’s missing some information. Kitchen Sink is all about community education, and I do it … And I teach a class under that brand. So classes will be under that brand for money. So yeah, you know?
But you’re right. It’s a matter of having … I like to be involved in all three of those things and the podcast, and then the podcast helps spread the word as well. I could see the podcast in … that it could go under the brand of Concierge. It could become … I could change it, but at this point, why? You know …
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, you can also … like, in terms of monthly revenue you can systematize your marketing.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: So then, if you knew …
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: Even though it’s cohort-based and like, it’s not feast or famine, “Oh, got to go round up, like, 9, 10, 15 new students,” maybe you can figure out some kind of advertising model, whether that’s content-based or paid or whatever that works for you that’s really dependable.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: So that you can kind of confidently know, “Next month, I’m going to … there’s going to be another crew, and it’s going to be okay.” Or maybe you work on the issue of like, “Well, how do I scale it up so that I can still provide the same level of service to like 50 students at a time?”
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: You know, focus on it different ways.
Adam Silver: That’s an issue on the … like, on the Webinar Ninja stuff, I can have up to 100 in the class. But I wouldn’t be able to handle 100 students with Q&A. There’s no way. I think 20-25 would be the cap. I mean, right now, it’s open. I mean, if I had that many, I would probably just have a second session. Like, I would just do … I don’t know. I’d figure it out.
Chris Badgett: Or you could hire-
Adam Silver: I think that’s a good problem to have.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, or you could hire, like-
Adam Silver: Yeah, I’ve seen those monitor the room, the chat, and obviously say, “Look, I can’t answer everyone’s question. We’ll get back to you,” and I put it … Because every class gets its own class website.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: And every student gets their own sites. On the class website would go … All the Q&A would go there. I would just take the next day and do that, and it’d be great. I have no problem doing that.
So I’ve not limited how many students I take at the moment, because I’m not a … I don’t have that bridge to cross just yet, so … I wish.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, one of the other things I’d-
Adam Silver: Yeah, I was going to say … I’ll wait.
Chris Badgett: One of the other things I just want to acknowledge about your platform is the extreme focus on the beginning. You know, a lot of us get into this technobabble … Like, we get too far away from the beginner, and you’re talking about … You’re not talking about becoming a programmer or developer or a high end graphic designer. You’re talking about a WordPress implementer, which is, to this day, all that I am. I have …
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: I make a WordPress software product. I have developers on my team. I have designers on my team, but at the end of the day, my relationship with WordPress is as an implementer, so I’m a lot more like the users of my product than people who build the product or whatever.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: Which allows us to kind of … It helps stay in touch with the needs of the regular WordPress implementer, which you can still do an incredible amount with.
Adam Silver: These days, a lot more can be done with just that knowledge. I have a friend of mine, Serena. She is a fan. I don’t know. I met her through WordCamp LA or the meetup, and she tries to pitch me all over town to the General Assembly, to different places to teach and speak.
And I told her one day … I said, “You know, Serena, I’m not the best developer or designer.” She goes, “Oh, no, I know.” I’m like, “What?” And then, she’s … I go … You know, she says, “Oh, no, they’re designers and they’re developers, but you’re a really good teacher. You can break down both those concepts to what people understand, and you’re funny.” So I’m like, “Thanks.” And I have that shtick. You know that.
And but I do a pretty good job with that. That’s my thing. I like helping the people that are starting out, and I get it. Because I think if you’re a pure developer, you might be just too smart for the room. If you’re a pure designer, you might be too ethereal, too much based on white space versus dark space versus font and layout. And again, people need a solution. They need to know the basics of WordPress.
And yes, there’s tons of videos out there on YouTube, on Udemy, and for free. But people keep coming to me because I’ve done most of that research already, I guess. And I keep doing it. I like doing it. So they want to … Some people still want that shortcut, and that shortcut is finding a resource, right? And if they’re paying $99 … you know, when I do early registration, it’s 79. But it’s 100 bucks to get three weeks’ worth of content. It’s six hours of content. It’s still a pretty good deal.
So that’s the thing. People don’t want to … They don’t know who to trust. They don’t know who to go to.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. And I just want to highlight that point, and it’s not just in the technology space. You could be in the health and fitness space. You could be doing cooking.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: You could be doing cooking courses or weightlifting or train for your first marathon, or you could do language learning, all kinds of courses. Nothing frustrates a beginner like not having somebody who’s funny, who’s not too ethereal and not too advanced that they can’t relate, trying to teach them the material.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: So I just want to highlight that point and just acknowledge that, like, how powerful that is. And oftentimes, from an economic standpoint, the beginner’s market in a lot of niches is quite massive.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: So once you figure it out-
Adam Silver: And there’s plenty of space for other people to do the same thing. I mean, that’s why you have … The old joke is, you have gas stations on four corners.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Because people are going different directions. People are at different places in learning. So just because I have a show about podcasts … Dustin has a joke. So my show has been around for three years. Dustin’s like six on the podcasting aspect and the education and whatnot. There used to be three to four more. Those are gone. Seven more have replaced those now, so now, there’s a whole bunch of WordPress shows.
Okay. That’s great, because we all have different voices and different takes on things, right? Everything goes with learning, and something goes with styles and location of the content. Like, how are you implementing it? And just the experience of doing it. So my experience is this, and now I do this. And I’ve changed my opinion on X or Y. You know, I used to be a firm believer of a certain theme. I am no longer using that theme. I actually changed. I never saw the change coming and did not see it happening, but that company went under, kind of. So I changed with the times, and I’m honest about it.
That’s the thing, also. I am not out to say, “Take my class and learn how to make a million dollars using WordPress.” Nope, not in my [inaudible 00:43:31]. I’m here. Take my class, or join my meetup. Learn what you need when you need to know it, so it’s at time learning, and ask questions. And if I can help, great. I’m probably the least … I’m … How do I word it? I’m not the best at selling my own self, I guess. I don’t know. Does that make sense?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, the best selling is just a great experience.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: A great product.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: People who get results after taking your product.
Adam Silver: Right. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: That’s the best sort of form of selling, so …
Adam Silver: Think of it that way, yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, Adam, I want to thank you for coming on the show and honor you for all that you’ve done for the WordPress community.
Adam Silver: Sure.
Chris Badgett: And all the … and just all that you’re up to. And thank you for sharing your personal with us. If people-
Adam Silver: My pleasure.
Chris Badgett: If people want to find you, what are the best places to go again?
Adam Silver: Kitchensinkwp.com is one place, and that’s where I share the weekly podcast. And the other place, really, would be Twitter. I have a Kitchen Sink account there, as well, Kitchen Sink WP on Twitter, or Hey Adam Silver. I’m a big fan of Twitter. I’m on Facebook, but Twitter is easier to get a hold of me there, so …
Chris Badgett: Awesome.
Adam Silver: There you go.
Chris Badgett: Well, thank you for coming on the show.
Adam Silver: Thanks for having me.
Chris Badgett: And we’ll have to do one in another year or some and see how the teaching has evolved and do it again. So thank you.
Adam Silver: Sounds good. Thanks, Chris.

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