#24 List Building


In this episode of the Freedom Ocean podcast we explore the concept of list building –

  • why it’s important
  • how to build one
  • the difference between a prospect and customer list
  • the pros and cons of inline registration forms versus light boxes and much more.

We also takle a couple of listener questions – What’s so great about WordPress? AND … How do you get to the point of trusting those you outsource work to?

Products & Resources

Have you seen the Freedom Ocean Internet Marketing Products page? Everything we recommend lives here.




TIM: This is welcome back to the wonderfully giving waters of the Freedom Ocean, Australia’s most giving—there you go—giving, loved internet marketing podcast. In the other end of the line is one of Australia’s favorite internet marketers, James Schramko. How are you, mate?

JAMES: I’m really good, Timbo!

TIM: Really good?

JAMES: Really good!

TIM: What does that rank on a scale of 1 to 10? Really like 10 or…?

JAMES: Yeah! It is like it’s a 10.

TIM: Good! Beautiful! Well, it’s a good day for internet marketing!

JAMES: It’s a great day for internet marketing. And especially when it started out with no internet.

TIM: Yeah. It’s hard to do internet marketing without an internet connection! What happened?

JAMES: I woke up, had breakfast, went to my computer, and the screen said no internet.

TIM: Right.

JAMES: Checked my other screen, no internet. Checked with the kid, no internet. So I got my book, went down to the games room, pulled up a chair and a footstool, and proceeded to read my book.

TIM: Nice! Nice! And just then hoped that the internet would come back without you actually having to do anything?

JAMES: Yeah. I was pretty sure that it wasn’t my problem because I have two separate internet connections and they’re both dead.

TIM: Yeah.

JAMES: So in a normal scenario you might reset the modem, but if my modem is not working for one provider and then the modem’s not working for the other, but my computer can see the modem, then I know it’s the telephone line. And then my wife told me that there was a truck out in the street with cable—

TIM: Ah! Always a giveaway that the internet’s down locally!

JAMES: Giveaway. So I figured I would just ride this one out. Now, if I really wanted to, I could’ve just turned on my iPad or my iPhone and use the data thing over the telephone network and then tethered my phone to my computer. So I could’ve got on the internet, but you know what? I thought it was a sign that I should finish this book.

TIM: Well, you going to tell me what the book is?

JAMES: The book’s called the Bathrobe Millionaire and I was up to a pretty exciting part. And the book actually re-inspired me to approach one of my favorite business models which is the affiliate marketing model. Because I do affiliate marketing and I’m good at affiliate marketing and I’ve got lots of sites in different markets. And just reading his story again sort of excited me about my biggest affiliate marketing wins. I had some really big affiliate marketing wins and it made me want to repeat that feeling—

TIM: Is the Bathrobe Millionaire an affiliate marketer?

JAMES: He was, yes.

TIM: He was? He’s now just a bathrobe wearer?

JAMES: (laughs) Well, you know he’s got an interesting story. It starts out actually being a pretty good sort of business lesson book about being a bit contrary and not following all the hype and the silly marketing wisdom of the so-called guru’s and also academics in, you know, like marketing professors and stuff, who have got great theory—

TIM: Be careful of what you say—

JAMES: I know you used to interview an academic and I think it’s hilarious.

TIM: You know, so just so you—

JAMES: I do. I think it’s hilarious because if he’s that shit hot at marketing, wouldn’t he be sitting at home in his pajama’s making millions?

TIM: Geez, you’re harsh! Just so—

JAMES: It’s fair, isn’t it?

TIM: Just so listener’s know what we are talking about. I have another podcast called Small Business, Big Marketing, for those that don’t know. And those many listeners that who have come across into the Ocean from that, the episode that we sent out today, we went live with today, I interviewed the head of marketing at the very prestigious Monache University and he talks about brand building and so I thought for a minute there, James, I thought it was a coincidence that you were mentioning marketing processes—

JAMES: I haven’t listened to it and I’m sure he’s an awesome guy—

TIM: He actually is! And in answering your question why he isn’t at home in his bathrobe doing it himself is that he was that kind of what you’re putting out there in terms of why would you teach instead of do—

JAMES: People who are good at it do it, and people who aren’t, teach it.

TIM: I’m not sure it’s that simple. I—

JAMES: I know it’s not that simple. I teach stuff too and I’m good at it as well.

TIM: Some people just love teaching.

JAMES: Yeah. That’s fair. It’s fair. But anyway, just back to the topic—

TIM: (laughs) I was looking for a fight there! (laughs)

JAMES: I’m actually sort of half-stirring you up !

TIM: (laughs) I know you are!

JAMES: But with the guy in the book, he’s very contrary and I really like that about him.

TIM: Right. Okay, so he takes it on. He takes people on. Challenges them on.

JAMES: He’s come from much the same school that I’ve come from, where you get out there, you do the business, you learn the lessons, you implement—he had some epic failures! I mean, he burnt $10 million in one year in investors funds.

TIM: Wow! That’s a lot of bathrobes!

JAMES: That’s a lot! But he went around and he made $9 million from affiliate marketing.

TIM: So he’s still a million bucks in debt?

JAMES: He’s done fine out of it., but the thing that I got inspired about is that I could really relate to when he ran paid traffic and made a huge profit. Because I’ve done that business model and I still do that business model where you spend a dollar and you make 2 or 3 or 5 dollars for it. That is exciting and you just want to do more of it. It’s kind of addictive and it made me inspired to go and pursue my lead generation sites a little bit harder.

TIM: Well, we have talked about affiliate marketing—

JAMES: That’s a good thing. So that’s my internet marketing without the internet. And the other thing I did today is completely random—

TIM: Before you go on, just hang on. Hang on, let’s get that one wrapped up. If he’s so contrarian the Bathrobe Millionaire is a bit of an obvious title, isn’t it?

JAMES: Ah it’s a shitty name! I wouldn’t choose that name at all!

TIM: Now, I get what he’s saying, but—

JAMES: I’m not hero worship him. I think he’s got his foibles.

TIM: Great word.

JAMES: It is a cheesy name. I did not buy the book because of the name. I bought it because somebody recommended it. And I can’t remember who recommended it, but whoever recommended it was someone who I trust, so I got the book purely based on that. And this is one of those books where if you can relate to the guy and if you can read between the lines, there’s a lot of hidden messages in that book. Not the ones that he’s trying to point out, it’s the ones he’s not mentioning or highlighting that are actual lessons.

TIM: How do you go about—you have a lot of books in that bookshelf of yours that I’ve just seen outside the spaceship there. How do you go about choosing books? Is it word of mouth or do you buy one in Amazon and then see what other people have read or…? How do you choose it down?

JAMES: I never look at Amazon reviews. It’s usually word of mouth and then I take it from there. If someone recommends one book, then I’ll mine out that author or related books. And usually in a book, they’ll refer other people. I’ll give you a classic example. The beginning of this year, everyone was talking about The 4-hour Body by Timothy Farris. They’re all talking about it and in that book, at the end of one of the chapters was a reference to a speech that Charlie Munger gave about his thinking models. From that reference and that speech, I read that and I really connected with Charlie Munger. He’s Warren Buffet’s right-hand man. So from there, I went and got everything by Charlie Munger. I got his almanac, I got Warren Buffet’s books; I just mined out that whole topic and that author. So I went from one book to another. So if you like something in one book, generally they give you clues as to where they got inspiration from and I follow the trail. I like to go direct to the source. I mean, because I’ve got so many books and I’ve read most of them, when people espouse their wisdom, I can almost always tell exactly where it came from, even if they don’t know the true source.

TIM: Audio books versus the hard copy, what do you like better?

JAMES: I like a real book.

TIM: So you can hold it and circle it or you’re just an old-school kind of guy?

JAMES: You won’t find me running on a treadmill with an oxygen shoved up my nostril, speed reading at 10 times speed. That is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard.

TIM: I’m not sure 10 times would be hard. I get through a bit when I double speed.

JAMES: That’s what they—you know, everyone’s talking about this, how fantastic it is. Speed reading and you know, chopping the spine off the book and scanning it and turning it into an iPad and all that. I like to grab a real book, sit in a chair and just read it! What’s so wrong with that? It’s very peaceful. Those same guys who are on the treadmill with the oxygen shoved up their nose, speed reading, then probably go and get a massage or something, right? Why not just read and relax?

TIM: I reckon, James, that speed reading, there are a little bit to be said about listening to audio books two times, has a little bit of a wank factor attached to it, but some of those American authors do have a bit of a droll about them. So just speed it up to normal speed. And you get through a bit, too.

JAMES: I don’t mind, you know, if that’s what you do, that’s fine. I’m a slow reader and I remember most things. I just read it slowly. I actually even speak it out loud; all the things you’re not supposed to do. And I retain it. And I’d rather read a new book than read the same one five times.

TIM: Well, James, I reckon it’s time now, mate, to talk about today’s topic, which is list building. What do you reckon?

JAMES: Let’s do it!

TIM: Alright, mate! Well, let’s be clear here because there’s many kind of aspects to list building. Just so we’re really focused and listeners know what aspect we’re talking about. What I’m imagining is that we are pathetically creating a website that’s selling some kind of information product on it, okay? And what you’re hoping for is for people to come along and if they don’t buy there and then, then to at least leave their name and email address so you can build a list of prospects. So I guess firstly, is that a good idea?

JAMES: Yes, you should definitely collect people’s details, but put it in priority. You definitely want to collect buyers details, first and foremost, in your database, or as people call it, your list. Because that is that true value of your asset. That’s really the most valuable thing that you’ve got. And then secondly you work on prospects so that you can start moving them towards being a buyer.

TIM: Okay, so we can be really clear. There’s two different lists: list of prospects and lists of buyers or customers who have bought from you.

JAMES: So what we’re talking about here is called segmentation, and this is very rarely understood. But it’s important to think of your customers in segments so that you can have the right conversation with them at the right time. And I’m not going to go detail on that. I’m just going to say be aware it’s not just one dump list. You have a buyers list and a prospect list.

TIM: Yeah, yeah. And segmentation, I mean that’s a pretty detailed topic, and one that is, you know, big marketers, big non-internet type marketers spend a lot of time doing. So we won’t go into detail on that for this episode. But let’s just talk about this concept of a list of prospects, because not everyone that comes to your site is going to buy, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could increase the odds by making sure that they’re left some contact details.

JAMES: Yeah. I want to be a bit controversial on this, though—
TIM: That’s unlike you! (laughs)

JAMES: Well, you know. I love challenging all the bullshit that’s been preached by people. You know, you hear this “takes 7 contacts” and all that sort of stuff. You heard that?

TIM: No, I haven’t. What is it?

JAMES: Well, you know it takes 7 times—

TIM: Ah, yeah, yeah! I heard that! Yeah, yeah, yeah!

JAMES: So, you know, since only 1 percent of people come to your site, then you need to grab their details with great force and thrust yourself in front of them and make sure you get…well, the reality is, I’ve been able to check on my Analytics and look up—there’s a new report that actually shows you how many different ways people came to your site and how many contacts you’ve actually had with them. And I can tell you, the stats are quite different for my sites. So don’t feel as though you have to bludgeon people over the head to get their details. The most important thing is to create great value and be a site that they actually want to come back to. That’s more important than making sure that you capture their details. It’s leaving a very good impression.

TIM: Is it fair to say, though, that sometimes when you’re creating a site, it’s almost like a mini-site where it’s there purely in order for people to see what it is you’ve got to sell and then for them to buy from it? Versus a fully-blown website that may have blogs and videos and constant—

JAMES: Yeah, I know what you’re saying. It’s sales sites. We have two main types of sites in our business. We have sales sites, which is where in the old language, people might have come to once, and they either buy or don’t buy. And then there is your blogs and your forums and people come back over and over and over again. So the thing is, though—

TIM: So with a sales site—yeah, go on.

JAMES: With my sales sites, I now know that people are coming back and they’re coming from multiple touch points. And quite often they come from 2 or 3 or 4 separate places back to the site; more than half of the traffic to my sales sites is coming back, and that’s because I started to create a good mixed source of traffic. So this is the other aspect to list building that is very rarely understood or discussed. What you do on your page is definitely going to change, depending on where people come from. The traffic source is important.

TIM: Yeah, okay. Can you just hold that thought? Because I’m interested in the fact that you just had a sales site and this fully-blown websites. What reason would people have to keep coming back to a sales site, except to kind of re-check the information before they buy?

JAMES: Well, exactly that. When people go online, they research and they’re in different phases. They may be in research mode, they might be so that—firstly, they might not even know what possible solutions there are. So they’re in like that very early stage of research. They want to go in and look and actually start discovering what’s in the market. Then they move through on to the comparison, eliminating options-type phase. And then they sort of move through to the ready-to-buy, I’ve-got-my-credit-card-in-hand phase. So this is where the traffic source is going to be important. If you’re trying to bring in only buyer traffic, i.e. people who’ve got their credit card in their hand, then you have that person right at the moment where they’re going to buy. Ideally, you’re going to focus on the conversion of the sale. But if you’re bringing in traffic for that research mode buyer, where they’re not 100 percent sure what the options are, you might be doing a little bit more work on providing education and comparisons and you might want to capture details of that researcher so that you can move them closer into buying decision over time.

TIM: Okay. So tell me then, just back to where you were, different traffic sources bring people in different mindsets, so give us a couple of examples of a traffic source that brings people who are red-hot versus someone who’s just in research mode.

JAMES: Okay, red-hot is an email to your existing customer list who already knows you, they’ve already bought from you because they’re on a buyers list of some description. That traffic is high conversion traffic. You don’t need to pester them for their email address because you already have it. So then you’re just going to annoy them if you start sticking pop-ups at them and jamming opt-ins in their face. So if I would send you an email, Tim, and say “Hi Tim! It’s James here. And you bought Traffic Grab. I just want to let you know that I’ve now released Spaghetti Bowl, which is a done for you service and what we do is that our team will do the Traffic Grab process for you.” Now, you already bought the product, you know what it does, you don’t need a whole lot of education. You are either a buyer or not. If you click on that link to an order page, there’s really less input that’s going to be required for me to convince you that you need it, because you already know you have a need and you know and trust me. And you’ve already bought something from me and you don’t hate me. So that’s a different conversation than someone arriving point-blank to a page called SpaghettiBowl.com and go, “What is this?” They need a different process.

TIM: Alright. So maybe someone coming in research mode and it’s possibly come off a Google search, where they’re doing a bit of a research, some key phrases and seen what comes up.

JAMES: Ah! Well, that’s it! It depends on the key phrase. If I’m using the key phrase Spaghetti Bowl traffic servers and someone types it into Google, then they know about it. They’re looking to find that. And I’ll get very high click-throughs on that type of key phrase versus SEO servers. They’re like, well, I’ve never heard of James Schramko or Spaghetti Bowl, what is this? They’re going to need a different process.

TIM: Yup! Gotcha! Okay, now let’s go back—because we digressed, and I want to get back to list building because it’s all very well to be, you know, I have things to sell, but you still, you know, this concept of a list is fascinating me. So can we just go back to this idea of a prospect list and actually starting to build one. How? But for me, it’s the registration form in the side bar, it’s the light box that pops out, it’s the squeeze page. These kind of primary ways of getting people to sign up for something of value so you can go back to them at some point in time.

JAMES: Exactly right. It’s offering them something in exchange for their email address. And, you know, then you can choose how many fields you want to ask for, so that’s going to be different, depending on what you’re doing as well.

TIM: Because the truth that the more things you ask for, the less likely they are to sign up. Your experience?

JAMES: Well my experience shows that just asking for an email address does increase conversions. However, if people do put in their name or more details or more fields, the higher conversions from those people.

TIM: Yeah, yeah.

JAMES: So this is a little bit like the double opt-in versus the single opt-in argument. I only use double opt-in on my websites, because I’m not really interested in collecting a database people who can’t confirm that they want to receive my emails.

TIM: Yup! Okay, so for those, there is—we used to do this. Remember we used to do the phonebook? We’d hit each other over the head with the phone book if we kind of mentioned some kind of geeky term like double opt-in, James. So there’s a phonebook coming towards you right now. And just explain double opt-in, for those who don’t know.

JAMES: Okay, well in simple terms, with the spam laws that are around, you want to be able to prove that someone asked to be sent email. Therefore, when they opt-in like they enter their details for you to send them email, your provider will first send them an email saying, “Hey, can you please confirm that you wish to receive emails from us? If you do, click on this link. If you don’t, just ignore it.” Now if they don’t confirm, they do not get added to your confirmed list and you don’t send them anything else. If they do confirm, then now you have proof that they said yes, I do want to receive these emails. And that can minimize your exposure to a claim of being a spammer. And there are quite serious laws against it.

TIM: Consequences. And there are—it’s not legislated, it’s not like mandatory that you have double opt-in, is it?

JAMES: It’s not, but it’s certainly good buffer—

TIM: It’s smart.

JAMES: For a dispute.

TIM: So there’s auto-responder softwares, which is what I’m looking at, where people’s information is going to go when they do give you their details.

JAMES: Well, you need a phonebook for that one! What they hell is an auto-responder?

TIM: (laughs) A bit of a software that allows you to send that emails or automatic emails over a period of time that you determine, that you approved it to.

JAMES: Yeah?

TIM: But you know what, so like Aweber, for example, is an example of an auto-responder software that does demand double opt-in, whereas I think something like a MailChimp …

JAMES: It doesn’t actually, Timbo. It’s a choice.

TIM: Is it?


TIM: Well, I must have always—it must be pre-selected because I’ve always—

JAMES: You tick it once, it sets the account, I believe.

TIM: Yeah. I do like double opt-in. The lists that I’m building have double opt-in on them I think Freedom Ocean’s got double opt-in, yeah?

JAMES: Yeah. Freedom Ocean is a great example for us to talk about because it is a free database. We would call it prospects. I mean, we don’t actually have customers for our podcast because no one pays for it; it’s free. So it’s more of a prospect list. However, we know that it’s only made up of people who want to be on it because when they join, they are sent a confirm request. And the only people who we send email to have confirmed. That’s why we get such a high open rate and a very high click-through rate when we send our emails. And the other thing we’ve done is that we’ve given them a strong compelling reason why they want to be on that list versus not being on the list, because we provide additional benefits for being on that database, so it’s a fair exchange.

TIM: Yeah, okay. And really, you just hit the nail on the head with, you know, giving them something of value. I think I might have mentioned before, and if I haven’t, there’s a book by Seth Godin called Permission Marketing, which is well worth a read because it’s kind of it’s this whole principle of give to get, which we’re talking about now. I reckon it’s about 10 years old. I mean, it’s not a principle that’s purely for internet marketing. It’s just a good principle. Give something, you get something. And that’s well worth a read. You know Seth Godin. You like Seth, too, don’t you?

JAMES: I do, most of it.

TIM: Yeah! I’m sure you’ll challenge him on certain points. Anyway, what I was going to say was that he also, you know, talks about if you give something of value then clearly even more people are going to sign up. And I know what you’re going to say, which is find out what is of value to them and create it once you know what’s going to really kind of flip their switch.

JAMES: Well, you can try different things and one would work better than others. So it can be all sorts of things. People might be wondering what you can possibly offer. Well, for Freedom Ocean, we offer the transcriptions of each episode, so the written pdf version and people really like them. They go and download them. We can see the stats. We know that people log in and grab the transcription, because not everyone likes to listen or can listen, or they like to read along as the sound comes through. And the other thing that we send that particular list or database, whatever you want to call it, is we do send extra things that are not published publicly, therefore we’re keeping the promise, and that’s important. You’ve got to keep the promise of whatever you sign people up for. What people do so poorly with their customer database is they literally bait and switch them. They sign them up for one reason and then send them other things. And this is rife in the internet marketing space. You might buy a product and then next thing you know, you’re being pummeled with 50 offers to buy something else that are completely unrelated to whatever you bought. So I know—

TIM: And then breaks every rule and that’s goodbye trust!

JAMES: Several people send me emails. Like I’d buy a software for my WordPress blog, next thing you know, I’m getting sent an email about why I should do local business marketing. I’m like, well, I didn’t join this list for that. I joined this list to get product updates. I do want to know if the product doesn’t work and if there’s a fix, I want to be emailed without that. I don’t want to be emailed a make money opportunity. I mean, I already know how to make money and I’ve already got my own business. So when I email these people back and say, “Have you got a list just for the product updates? Because I don’t want this other crap.” And they don’t. They’re like, well, we’ll send it to this list and we’ll send you all the other stuff as well. And that could fall under the definition of spam, if it’s unwanted and if it’s not in keeping with the purpose of that list. But I just simply unsubscribe from that. And if the product doesn’t work anymore, I just delete it and I’ll never, ever buy from that person again.

TIM: James, talk to me then about—so we’ve covered registration forms. Another virgin—(laughs) oh, there’s a faux pas! Another version is what I was meant to say—of the registration form is—I was thinking Virgin Blue, guys, you know? Okay? Another version is the light box, the pop-up. We use it on Freedom Ocean. From what I’m seeing in the stats that come through, it’s almost a 50/50 split between people signing up through the light box and signing up through the registration form, instead of—is that your experience with other sites that you have? And what do you think a light box is?

JAMES: Love light boxes. They work way better than in-line forms, which is the description we would have for what’s sitting in the page. So for typical blog site, where you have an in-line form like that form on the side there, they might see something like 3 to 5 percent sign up, because a lot of the traffic is repeat traffic. A light box will quite often bump that up to 10, 11, 12, 15, 18 percent if you have a good one. And you can still put images and benefits and headlines and a compelling call to action in it. I saw this happen years and years ago, and the guy that does it best is called Jerome Mercola. And that’s where I believe Aweber probably got the idea from, because shortly after he showed it at an underground conference 4, maybe, yeah 4 years ago, they rolled out that feature. And I use it on many of my websites. And we use it on Freedom Ocean as well. And the light box does outperform the in-line form.

TIM: But I guess it all comes down—I mean, some people say they’re really annoying, but you know, nicely presented with good quality information and a compelling offer, annoyance turns to “Ah, yeah, I’ll get a bit of that.”

JAMES: Well, you know, you’re going to have to put yourself out there, I think.

TIM: Correct!

JAMES: Annoying, sure! If you want annoying, go to Mercolo’s health blog and you will not be able to read the content unless you join his list. And there’s a few other sites that are like that. And it is highly, highly effective. He has a database, I’m guessing, it’d be in the millions now. And so he’d be annoyingly wealthy.

TIM: (laughs) Yeah!

JAMES: Once it appears once it probably stops showing.

TIM: I’m conscious of time, James. And we did so cover off quickly a couple of listeners questions. There’s plenty more, I’m sure. We could talk about list building, and in fact, you know, building that list of customers too, once people have bought from you. So should we save that for another episode?

JAMES: (laughs) We should recap what we’ve talked about.

TIM: Go for it!

JAMES: Right! Bottom line is it’s a good idea to get customers details, especially people who have bought something from you, so that you can make them additional offers and increase your profit easily, because emails are still very high converting compared to other traffic sources. Secondly, if you’ve got something nice that you can give value to your customer in exchange for email address, by all means do that and start building the relationship. Thirdly, make sure that you keep it within the relevance of why they’ve joined that list. Keep your promise. If you sign up for a particular thing, be clear about it. So on my newsletter, I actually say, “Grab my free report and get updates whenever I release a new podcast.” So now I’ve given permission to myself to email them updates for podcast. If I didn’t, I would get complaints. And you can use a combination of in-line forms or light boxes, whatever works for you, but test it. That’s the basic thing and be aware that you’re going to require different offers for different traffic sources. And I think we should definitely cover our list segmentation and automation and rules and migration of lists and stuff, because that’s really where all the money is made. Once you’ve got the database, what do you do with it? That’s where the money’s made.

TIM: Yeah. So true! So true! The creation—

JAMES: Email marketing is a whole topic.

TIM: The creation of a list in itself is really just a means to an end.

JAMES: We’re just about on the thousand prospect list with our own Freedom Ocean thing, which we started from scratch, and it’s a perfect case study for quality list building.

TIM: Correct. Alright, mate, that’s a good summary. Now, a couple of listener questions, which we will keep the answers relatively short too. But the first one comes from Clota. And I met Clota recently at a talk that I gave in Melbourne, a couple of weeks ago. Clota says, it’s actually a question about Joomla. She says, “I have an internet marketing question. After searching and searching, though hey, you’re the fountain of all knowledge. “You being Freedom Ocean and probably you, James. “I know we all love WordPress. However, I have been unable to convince once of my clients to move into WordPress, so I need a good Joomla person.” And she goes on and asks whether we can recommend someone. Well, not really in terms of recommending a good Joomla person, but we do love WordPress. So I’m going to flip that question a little bit and say, James, what is so damn good about WordPress?

JAMES: Well, it’s used by a huge portion of websites on the internet. Google loves it. It’s easy to find people to work on it. It’s quite awesome to use; it’s just well-supported. You know, there’s big sites that use it as well, I think like the Wall Street Journal, for example. Or the New York Times. One of those uses WordPress. And I think Yahoo might even be basing some of their sites on them. But it’s just a great solution and widely accepted and the way that it structures things works well. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution, though. If you have an e-commerce store or a forum or a directory listing, you probably won’t be using WordPress. But it’s just a good out-of-the-box open-source solution.

The big problem for small businesses and I guess people try to put in their own websites together is they get sucked into custom solutions that are possible for anyone else to work on or they have some license so they can’t take the code or whatever. You want to work off open source if you possibly can, for your own flexibility. So that’s why—I mean, I set up an entire business just around custom WordPress development. There will be times where other solutions are good and Joomla, by all accounts, is a very powerful, robust solution as well, which is I think, possibly even based on a derivative of the original WordPress.

TIM: Yeah, I hear about good things about Joomla too, except that it’s a bit complicated to use. And for mine, from the very start, when I started, you know, wanting to interact with websites that I own, as opposed to handing that over to a web developer, WordPress is just so beautifully simple and has a set of clients, you know, when you’re in the back-end of WordPress, you know, it’s quite familiar because it looks a little bit like Microsoft Word in the sense that the toolbar is very similar and a lot of the actions that you perform are a bit like Microsoft Word. So there’s that wonderful, familiarity. And, you know, even outside of the toolbar where you create your content, the dashboard of WordPress is beautiful. It’s simple too where you know where to create a page, you know where to create a post, the plugins are numerous; it’s just really user-friendly. So maybe what Clota needs to do is use some of that information and go back and convince them that WordPress is the way to go. That said, if it’s as you say, if it’s in—

JAMES: Oh, I don’t know about that. I don’t think they need it. There’s a couple of aspects to this., but firstly, you’ve got to decide if that’s the right client for you. You know in that great book, Built To Sell, it’ll say don’t customize stuff. If you’ve got to sway outside of your normal product zone to deal with a customer, you’re probably better off to sack the customer and say, “Hey, by all means use Joomla. We’re just not the right people for you because we focus on WordPress,” and move on to the next WordPress customer, because it’s going to be a million times easier. That’s my first bit of advice. And so don’t try and convince the customer to move to WordPress if they’re dead-set on Joomla. Just move to a different customer.

TIM: (laughs) Too true! Going back to a previous episode, the power of no.

JAMES: That’s so much easier. Filters.

TIM: Alright. The next question is coming from another long-time listener, Heather Smith, who I know listens to both Small Business, Big Marketing and Freedom Ocean. Heather says, it’s a question about outsourcing, James. And she says she thanks us for our podcast and she says, “I’ve been out-tasking or outsourcing for some time now. One of the issues that I run into that I don’t think you’ve touched on was if, for example,” she says, “the person is creating a website for you. You need to hand over a lot of passwords. I have been visiting e.g….” oh, she’s got a lot of examples here. She’s been visiting, for example, Mail Chimp, changing the password to the person I’m out-tasking to, going back in, changing it, giving them the password and then changing it back once the work has been done. Other than true blue trust, do you have any other suggestions? Yeah, well it sort of comes back to just trusting, isn’t it? I mean, I have some filters in place that allows you to determine whether a person is trustworthy before you employ them. Not different to offline employment, isn’t it?

JAMES: Yeah, I would say hire people that you trust absolutely and trust them. There’s many ways you can find out if they’re not doing the right thing. And they’re extremely subtle too, that they may or may not be aware of. But you can use tools like Pass Pack. It’s so much easier and our mate Steve-O put me on to this one.

TIM: What’s Pass Pack?

JAMES: Pass Pack is you basically just load up all your passwords to that and then you give your outsourcer the access to a Pass Pack login. So they can use that and then you can change the Pass Pack login if you no longer have that outsourcer.

TIM: Right. Okay.

JAMES: And I think it may obfuscate. I don’t use it because—

TIM: What did you say? It may what?

JAMES: Obfuscate. That means hide. It might hide the passwords.

TIM: Wow! That is—I can honestly say, in my 44 years on this Earth, I’ve never heard that word!

JAMES: (laughs) It’s a code thing, I think. It’s like cloaking. You can obfuscate links.

TIM: Right. Okay.

JAMES: That’s where I first saw it.

TIM: I believe you.

JAMES: Now, I don’t use it because of a trust issue. I use it because it simplifies things so that my team leader can load all of our sites up to Pass Pack and then the team members can just cruise along to each site and it just fills out the passwords for them.

TIM: Cool!

JAMES: So it’s a time saver for us. I trust my team implicitly. I’ve the best team on the face of the planet. How do I know they’re working on my stuff? Because it’s still there when I’m Skyping it at 2 in the morning, they’re still asking me questions. They’re unbelievable! And I’ve also met them face to face and they have the passwords for just about everything. And it slows you down if you’re too strict with your passwords and you’re too overly-cautious. The best way for someone to rip you off is if you don’t trust them. They’ll definitely detect that you don’t trust them and now you’re actually giving them almost justification to rip you off because they want to prove you right.

TIM: Yeah! And just to close on that question, the other thing too is, you know, start small so, you know, well two parts to it actually.

JAMES: Incremental trust.

TIM: What’s that?

JAMES: Incremental trust.

TIM: Incremental trust.

JAMES: And that if you think you should never give your passwords too and I believe there’s two things you shouldn’t give up as the business owner, that’s the checkbook and marketing strategy. If you keep those two things, you’ll be under control. And I’ve learnt these lessons from a nine-figure a year business.

TIM: Yeah. Too true, mate! Too true! Let’s leave it at that.

JAMES: I’m the only one that has access to PayPal—

TIM: And the marketing strategy.

JAMES: And I’m the only one who decides on the ultimate marketing strategy. That’s not something you can delegate or give up because, you know, it’s your business, you take control of that. But my team have access to my auto-responder accounts, my shopping cart, they can see how much money we make, they have the hosting. The only one they don’t have is the domain registrar, because I prefer to do that myself. I really couldn’t afford to lose a domain because I have literally, well and truly over a million dollars worth of domains and so that I would consider them like a prime asset and they don’t need to be poking around in there.

TIM: No.

JAMES: I’ve got an account manager for that. So in other words, my other outsourcer is already in the company who manages my domains.

TIM: James, any last little tidbits you’d like to share before we sign off?

JAMES: Remember to play.

TIM: Aha! Have fun! Nice idea.

JAMES: That’s what it’s all about.

TIM: It’s a nice idea.

JAMES: People take it so seriously.

TIM: In fact, I think the next show, we will do—you’ll going to be somewhere else in the world, so out of the cave, the spaceship, true?


TIM: Okay. Where that will be? We don’t know.

JAMES: Well, you won’t even believe it if I told you.

TIM: (laughs) What are you doing? A virgin galactic trip to the moon or something, are you?

JAMES: Well, it involves 10 plane flights, let’s put it that way.

TIM: Nice! Alright, well keep your powder dry, mate. You can reveal your location on our next show. Until then, thanks for listening. See you!



  1. Hi guys I just thought I’d add to the conversation about WordPress and Joomla. I have been using Joomla for 5 years and WordPress for about 4 I think. I still use Joomla quite a bit but I tend to favour WordPress as I work mainly with small businesses. Here is a guest post I wrote a few months back about how they have both changed in the time I have been using them which I think is a good starting point in explaining why to choose WordPress. http://weblogtoolscollection.com/archives/2011/08/05/how-wordpress-beat-joomla/

    Keep the great episodes coming!

  2. Loved the show… Looking forward to your next show on email marketing

  3. Great point at the 25 minute mark about respecting your buyers.

    I too hate it when I purchase a software product and end up getting spammed with totally unrelated offers vs. additional info. on how to succeed with what I’ve purchased. This seems like such a simple customer service/retention strategy.

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