Jason Resnick (rezzz.com)
Jason Resnick helps freelancers discover their niche, plan out their marketing, and build recurring revenue so that they can live the life that they want and ultimately reach the goals of why they started their own business in the first place.
Aaron: 00:01 Hi, my name is Aaron.
Micah: 00:01 And this is Micah and you are listening to the WP Square One podcast. With us today is Jason. Welcome, Jason.
Jason: 00:11 Thanks for having me guys.
Micah: 00:13 No problem. So just a quick introduction. Jason, you’ve been in the WordPress space I believe for quite awhile and you do a lot of work with clients to help them essentially improve their business, their sales, and recurring revenue as well. So tell us a little bit about what you do beyond my brief description.
Jason: 00:39 Sure, sure. Yeah. As you said, I’ve been in the WordPress space probably since about 2014, like full time. I specifically have specialized my business in, in and around will commerce and specifically the subscriptions plugin or anything that has to do with building repeat business for, for my clients. But also, I’ve since morphed that a little bit more into not only that, but also to be able to decrease the time to first purchase. So when somebody opts into like, let’s say their mailing list or a coupon or something of that nature, once they actually make that first point of contact, see if we get decreased that time to the first purchase. And that’s what I help my clients with. And I do that through both development and automation, tying those two together with some onsite personalization around the subscriber data things of that nature.
Jason: 01:45 And as I said, I’ve been doing this now for quite some time. But I started out pretty much as a theme builder, a custom plugin developer helping clients just manage their site on an everyday basis through updates and maintenance, and backups and all of those kinds of things. But I’ve since kind of moved away from that, I still have one or two clients that have been with me for a long, long time now, four plus years that I still do that for. But that’s not a big focus of what I do now.
Micah: 02:24 So, given that you are focused in on more of the e-commerce type client and optimizing their sales and conversions, what would you say is kind of like your number one thing you use to stand apart from other people who are doing similar things?
Jason: 02:42 Yeah, for me it’s, it’s really just connecting at a human level. A lot of people do the, Hey, I’m going to do a trip wire. I’m going to do coupon card abandonment, those sorts of things, which I do all of those things as well. But what I try to do is initially when somebody opts into a list, there’s try to learn exactly what they’re there for, where they opt in from make some assumptions in or around that. And then present the appropriate pitch, if you will to buy the thing that makes sense for them. So understanding really their motivation and their intent when they actually land upon a brand to then give them exactly what they’re looking for. Both, maybe just prior to when they’re looking for it, but absolutely when they are ready for it. So what I do with my clients before I do anything is really just try to understand the business, the goals of the business and their customers and what the goals are. The customers are
Aaron: 03:51 Nice. How did you how did you start like making that transition from your WordPress maintenance guy to what you do currently?
Jason: 04:06 I guess I was, I suppose it was more just asked of me from my customers, my clients. I’ve always been fascinated about e-commerce. While most developers have always run away from that sort of thing. I, I’m one of those guys I’ve always flocked to it, even before it was in the WordPress space. I mean, and I’m showing my age a little bit, but in the early two thousands I was working for consultant firms and I was writing Java, you know, writing Java EE applications built for e-commerce. Then I moved to ruby on rails and custom PHP and Magento woo commerce and all that stuff. So I’ve always flocked to it and I’ve always loved like the, the challenge of the human nature behind e-commerce because I mean, when I first started, people didn’t even want to put their credit card on a website, let alone all of the other now like small tweaks that we make around the position of a checkout button, what we have on a checkout page versus what we have on a product page to try to up-sell and things of that nature.
Jason: 05:20 So that whole behavioral level of e-commerce for me has always been very interesting and a challenging problem to solve and just who I am personally. You know, when the opportunity presented itself to me with some of my customers to be able to then essentially up-level what I was doing for them I just jumped at it. I just said, hey look this is some of the experience that I have and some of the information that I have based around the data that I can see from you, from Google analytics, from just customer behaviors, some email subscriber record data, these things that we’re collecting. Even things like HotJar and, and all of those other kinds of analytical tools that you put on a website. This is what I think we could do. And then we would do it, test it, analyze it.
Over time, I’ve changed the way I help my clients accomplish their goals. I focus on selling them solutions to their problems and this means starting with analysis. @rezzzTweet
Jason: 06:21 If it works, awesome. If it didn’t work, we went back to the drawing board and maybe try to different things. So it was more of just an evolution of, of the way in which I help my clients accomplish the goals that they want to get to. Because a lot of it was, I would get leads coming in saying that they wanted to redesign their site so, well, why are we redesigning the site? Like, while we could do that I would actually like to understand why, what’s the point? What’s not working for you? What is working for you? And most of the time it really got down for the fact that sales were slow and they thought that was the solution where that might’ve been most times was not the solution. It was more along the lines of maybe it wasn’t mobile ready at that point in time. Maybe it was slow and Pref, the performance of the site was bogged down by something, you know. So there was these other things that happened where I just analyzed and tried to serve the best solution that I possibly can to clients.
Micah: 07:27 Okay.
Micah: 07:28 Which I think is where a lot of people get stuck a lot of times as they tried to sell websites as opposed to solutions. So it sounds like you are definitely focused on the solutions.
Jason: 07:37 Yeah, absolutely. I mean I’d much rather take it from the perspective of saying, okay, well let’s think about this. If it may be the case that you need a redesign, but I really want to figure out if that is the ultimate solution for you. Right. And so we want to both go to the same end place, the same goal. We both want to get there and be ecstatic about that. So let’s just make sure that that’s the destination that we want to get to. And I’ll just unpack that with the client kind of just a lot of times I think especially as a designer and developer starting out, especially starting out, is that you almost kind of like whatever they come to you with is the thing that you should be doing. And most cases in my experience over the past nine years or so of doing this full time for myself, that’s not the case. That’s more of just their assumption and they’re looking to you as the expert to then professionally give the proper solution to them.
Micah: 08:48 So what what are some ways that you have been able to, I know you in helping other scale their businesses in a kind of more I guess in terms of recurring revenue, you know, people not spending as much time for not trading time for money. So what are some things that you do in your business? I know it’s a very, consulting can be a lot of times trading time for money. Do you do anything that he would say does scale doesn’t scale very well? How to, how does that work with with your consulting business?
Jason: 09:28 Yeah, I mean, how my services side of the business is built, is really on productizing everything around it, around the actual project, right? Things like the sales process, the pipeline, how lead comes into the business, how I handle that lead and converse with that lead, whether it’s through a call, which is proceeded by an application that they have to fill out. And then following how they come on as a client. The things, the client on-boarding process, the client update process, we have weekly calls. All of that stuff. The client management, essentially the client experience with me is all the same no matter who it is. While I may be working on segmentation projects or building an add on to the subscription plugin things of that nature based off of their needs. While that stuff is different, everything else is the same.
Jason: 10:30 We still have that weekly call. All the automation and everything around all of those things is the same. And then it’s the off-boarding too, right? So while my clients are 85% recurring they do cycle out, right? They, they graduate, I, I’d like to call it anyway because we’ve accomplished what we set out to do and they’re in a better place. And so when they graduate, there’s that off-boarding process, which is also the same for each and every single client. And so all of those things over time I’ve automated because they are the same kinds of clients, the same kind of projects per se, and the same kind of businesses. I’ve ironed all of those things out so that I can automate that and it just does that stuff in the background for me. I don’t need to have an admin update certain spreadsheets or certain tickets or certain this and that and the other that stuff’s all handled for me, just basically tying things together.
Micah: 11:38 So I guess my followup to that was as far as tools, do you have any favorite tools that you use that are really helpful with that?
Jason: 11:57 Shiny objects, shiny objects? Yeah, I mean, it’s weird. Like, and you know, like I said, I’m nine years into this. And I still try to simplify things as best as I possibly can. Zapier is a tool that has tied a lot of my, his as historically tied a lot of my applications together. But lately a lot of, a lot of SAS businesses integrate with major know SAAS businesses, right? So convert kit is essentially the communication tool that I use for all status updates and things of that nature. And I just build in, you know, between Pipeline and ConvertKit, my website. Those three things are essentially speaking to each other constantly. Depending on what the client’s doing, where they are in the pipeline or they are as a customer, those sorts of things. And that’s, that’s my tool box, if you will. It’s really convert kit, PipeDrive and my website. And based in an around that, that everything else kind of is something of an influx of fuel.
Aaron: 13:20 Nice. Nice. I like those. So I, I have very recently spun off my agencies web hosting into its own company. And it was, I am learning lots of automation stuff. And it’s, it’s fascinating how cool. Like it feels when something works. I mean, like my first integration between FreshBooks and a stripe and stuff like that. I was, I was like, Yay. It works. You know, it’s like, it’s such a simple ed, stupid day, but it’s nice to have those tools. I just went to the convert kit website, never heard of it. And that’s one of the things I love about interviewing people is just learning people’s tools. So is ConvertKit basically your email marketing tool?
Jason: 14:25 It’s my, yeah, I mean it’s an email marketing platform and I use it as such, but I also do the like transactional emails to their, while it’s not really meant for that. And by transactional, I mean like every single week I send updates to my clients through that and this way that I know that it’s going to be delivered. I can see if they got you know, it allows me to tag people based on certain actions that they take or don’t take on those emails. So I use that as essentially like the, the, the point of record for every person that’s encountered my business. Whether it’s a lead, whether it’s a client, a past client, that sort of thing. And I have all triggered automations based in and around those things.
Aaron: 15:25 It’s nice. And how does that integrate with a pipe dream or are they, are they integrated or are they kind of separate drive you mean? I’m sorry. PipeDrive.
Jason: 15:34 Yeah, I mean it’s, it’s pretty tightly integrated because PipeDrive is my CRM. So if somebody comes in, if somebody just emails me, right, I’m going to then respond to them through PipeDrive and based off of custom fields that I put in to that record. It will actually send that data over into ConvertKit and trigger off a set of emails based around that. And it could be a drip fed sequence. It could be, hey, we want to book a call. It, any number of different things, but it’s all based off of what I fill out inside of PipeDrive.
Aaron: 16:16 Okay. That’s nice. Yeah. I, I tried to think like in the, in the WordPress community, there’s a ton of freelancers. And there aren’t a ton of people at least, I mean, I could be totally wrong, but I don’t think too many people are using integrations like that for you know a very small team. But it’s, it’s brilliant to do it. I’m somewhat new to it. My business partner is he’s all about automation. It’s, I mean, it makes, makes perfect sense for, for you.
“If I have to click around on a screen in the same sequence more than twice, then I’ve got to figure out a way to automate it. I want to see if the robots can do it before I have to hire somebody to do it.” @rezzzTweet
Jason: 16:49 Yeah. I mean, as a developer, I basically, the way that I look at it is two things. One, if I have to click around on a screen, the same click sequence more than twice, then I’ve got to figure out a way to automate it. And two, I want to see if the robots can do it before I have to hire somebody to do it. Right? And so that’s, it’s something that I’ve, I even had in the corporate world, right? Like I had a my direct report basically said like, I’m just going to give you work until you scream and then when you scream then I’ll give you a little bit more. Right? And so that’s Kinda how I look at automation, right? I just basically look at it from the perspective of how much can I give it and how much too can I lean on it until I can’t lean on it anymore.
Jason: 17:37 And you know, just by simplifying the toolset but is one thing, but you really do have to understand one the client and to your processes of the right. So like if you’re, if you’re essentially reinventing the wheel, if you’re building websites that are a completely different industry is completely different. You know, small business versus enterprise business and all the projects are different is going to be hard to automate a lot of what you want to do. Because, like I said, I work with a specific set of, of businesses so I can build out emails and nurture sequence and things of that nature and talk in the language that they’re going to there. They talk in and it’s gonna resonate with them and it’s going to be easy for me to kind of can up all of the other things that I do with them outside of the custom work.
Aaron: 18:35 Nice. Very cool. Well let, let’s Kinda shifting the topic here a little bit. Micah, you can interject here and say, Erin, you’re doing this wrong, but from kind of the, the whole the reason why this podcast exists is because of a, it’s called WP Square One. And the main question is, if you could go back to square one, what would you do differently? And I think you said it’ll show your age that you’ve been doing stuff since 2000, 2004, what, w whatever. It, and I’m like, well, I did something before then. So does that make me even older? Like mid May? Maybe my gray hair exists because I’m really smart, right. No, it’s just, I’ve been doing it for a long time. And I think there’s a lot of stuff that I’d probably do differently. You know, probably not waste as much time trying to figure out you know a framework, a PHP framework that wasted a year of my time. But what would you do differently if you could kind of start back either getting into WordPress or even, you know, further back when you were doing Java?
Jason: 20:05 Yeah, so I mean, I graduated college in 99 and I was, at that point in time, I was working at a fortune 100 company, basically building Java apps and applets at the time. And so all the while I knew that I wanted to work for myself. I knew that at a really early age as a teenager and that time, even back then, I didn’t know exactly what that looked like. I just knew that, hey, as an adult, if I want to take off on a Tuesday, I should be able to do that without asking for permission cause I’m an adult. Right. and that’s Kinda how I looked at it. If I was to go back to square one, as you say, I would have to say while my skills as a developer are fine, it was all of the other things, right?
“If I started back at square one, I’d focus more on the sales, the marketing, how to talk to clients, how to manage clients; all of that stuff I just took for granted when I worked full time because I didn’t have to do it.” @rezzzTweet
Jason: 21:02 The sales, the marketing, how to talk to clients how to manage clients, all of that stuff I just almost took for granted as I worked full time because I didn’t have to do that. And what I found was, was that in 2002 when I got laid off because of the .com bubble burst I said, hey, this is my time to try it out for myself. And within 18 months I was back sitting at somebody else’s desk at a design agency because I didn’t know all of those other things. So it was a matter of me understanding that while I’m not a sales guy at all, if I want to have a business, I have to understand sales and I have to figure out the ways in which I can sell the thing that I want to sell. Similarly with marketing and client management, working with clients, understanding clients, understanding human behavior, all of these other human aspects and business aspects and skills I didn’t have.
Jason: 22:18 So I would encourage the younger Jason to take a step back, look, look and learn from other people that do those things, which is what I essentially did between 2004 and 2010 was learn from salespeople, learn from marketing, people, learn how to run a business. So that when I did go back out on my own again, I stayed there. I didn’t want to go back again to a full time job. Cause if I did that I would’ve been like, all right, forget it. So I would, I would tell the younger Jason to understand the skill sets that you have and your strengths, but also understand your weaknesses. And if you understand your weaknesses, at least in a roundabout way for you to start out, you have to know at least the one oh one and the one oh two of those, so that then you can either level up or bring on somebody else that can do those things much better than you can.
Micah: 23:21 So once you started realizing that sales and marketing and these things were some of the gaps in your understanding, what was your strategy, I guess, for kind of fill in those gaps?
Jason: 23:41 Yeah, I mean, one, it was because, I mean, I worked for several design agencies over those six years, between 2010 and 2004. And what I saw a lot of the sales team was, was like cold calling and going to conferences and having a booth at a conference. And you know, I worked for a design firm that only dealt with the medical industry. So they would buy boots at like plastic surgery, surgery expos and Dermatology Expos and things of that nature. Trying to sell websites to these doctors and all of these medical professions and organizations. And I was just like, I’m not going to do that ever. Like it’s just not me. And I would see them on the phone all day long and all that. And what I wanted to really understand was while I saw what they were doing I wanted her to understand the underlying process of it all.
Jason: 24:39 Like how often do you touch base with the same person or do you, or what are the signals that you lean on to either back away or move forward? Right. And things of that nature. I really wanted to understand the nature of sales. And then so that I can adapt who I was as as a human being and a potential business owner at that time. How I can adapt that in, in a certain way. And a lot of what they really said was it was just human relationships, becoming friends. If you can while some of the salesman said, yeah, some of my clients, I, they go golfing together, they go out to dinner. When they go to these conferences, sometimes they don’t even go to the conference very long. They just meet up with all of the people in that local area that they’ve already known for a few years and things of that nature.
Jason: 25:33 So it was like, okay, well, you know, I have friends, I’ve done that before. Right? And so what I wound up doing was essentially looking at myself and how can I do this in a way that made sense for me as somebody that has introverted tendencies. I’m not going to do those things that I mentioned, but what can I do and how do I do it? And you know, for me, Twitter was natural. Engaging on Twitter was that quick and easy. It wasn’t, there wasn’t too much science to it. And I always looked at it as like a big cocktail party in the first place. And so what I did was once I understood the clients and who I was serving, even some of the plugins that I would use, especially in the WordPress space, I would just set alerts that would search Twitter for tweets with certain key words and usually a question mark at the end of it.
Jason: 26:35 And if when those tweets happened, I would just get pinged on my phone and it would then allow me to either into the conversation right then and there or later on at night or the next day or whatever, jump into the conversation and just kind of add to it and kind of make my name known about, Hey, this is what he does. He works in prosperous, is a subscription plugin and works a lot in woo commerce. So I’m answering these sort of things, sharing links, connecting people together, those sorts of things. And that was my sales strategy and it worked and I was getting work by just answering questions. That was kind of like the way in which while I was doing the coding and working in the business and to that to this day, that’s the only part of my business that I’ve had for nine years. That still continues to this day, that while I’m still working, that’s still running in the background and I’ll get pinged, take a look now, goes into my Slack, you know, my own private Slack channel. And then I take a look and see if it’s something that I can contribute to.
Aaron: 27:45 You got to have it in Slack. All notifications go into Slack. Right? So, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Remind me, oh my goodness, I’m trying to think. I think it was a ruby script back in like, 2006 or 2007 that went into Craigslist and I was looking for a certain like old school computer and it would send me an email if it was ever in the description or the title. You know, but that’s the kind of stuff that’s like, it’s really fun to write. And if you could sell that automation, that’s golden nowadays. Zapier does that stuff, right?
Jason: 28:32 Yeah, I started it. Zapier wasn’t there, so like you, I had to write a script for it and I did the same thing on Craigslist as well because what I noticed was at that time when I, when I first started out, I would look at Craigslist for jobs and I would notice bigger brands, but their brand, would pull their ads off real quick. And my thesis was that they pull it off because somebody sees that logo, they go to apply and then after they get a number of applicants, they’re just going to pull it down because they’re just going to pick out of the 50 or 100 or 150 applicants that they just got within the one day. So I wanted to be first, I don’t need to be first in line. So like you, I just wrote a script that went out, look for certain things, certain search terms and things of that nature.
Jason: 29:19 And I wound up landing jobs like from Canon, Sony, Gander Mountain, all from Craigslist, you know, and that helped me in my business. You know, at the very initial stages to get those logos. Now while those logos are nice, I can’t, they’re not even close to the type of client that I work with today. But I mean there was another way in which I said, hey, I would like to work with these bigger brands. They seem like they get good projects and they were WordPress based projects. And so let me see if I can land a few of these. And so I did, there’s nothing wrong with that. So beaten people to the punch, man. So, exactly right. Exactly right. Like if you snooze, you lose sort of thing. Yup. Yeah. Well I don’t know. Mikey, you got anything my friend? Yeah.
Micah: 30:13 The one thing we haven’t touched on is the fact that Jason, you do, you have two podcasts. So as we’re kind of winding down we’d like to make sure we give you plenty of time to market yourself here as well. But tell us a little bit about your two podcasts, what those are about, where they can be found and some of that information.
Jason: 30:36 Sure. So two podcasts. One is live in the feast, which is a seasonal based podcast helping developers and designers get over the hurdles that I and other people have had in the past. This season is season six right now. And we’re all talking about pricing. Every season has a theme to it. So we talked pricing, we talked about marketing, getting clients niching down, and then each episode is basically a deep dive into that. Oh, it could be a strategy, it could be a story where there’s an actual takeaway that you can walk away from listening to the podcast on. And like I said, that’s a seasonal podcast. So there’s about 10 to 12 episodes per season. And then I break for about a month figure out who I’m going to bring on next season and things of that nature.
Jason: 31:30 And then I have asked Rez, which that’s a short form podcast. It’s about five or seven minutes. And that was a fun experiment that turned into a full year of every single day podcasting where I, I’m a notorious experiment there when it comes to my business and various platforms. And podcasting for me is, you know, well, I mean, we’re talking to our podcast right now. So for me, that’s my medium of choice. I’d much rather go on a podcast or have a podcast or bring somebody on my podcast and have a conversation than write a blog post. So what I wound up doing was because I was getting asked a lot of questions via Twitter, email, at meetups, whatever and I just kept answering the same things over and over and over again. And so I said, well, what if I just add, answer these questions in audio form and make it as a podcast?
Jason: 32:30 And so I started out on anchor this is now over a year ago. Just answering a question and that I would get, and then that link exists somewhere that I can refer the next person too. So I did that and I turned it into a podcast because like a real podcast I guess if you will as much as a real podcast is, but basically I took it off an anchor, put it on my website and you can find all the episodes there and all the questions categorized as such around pricing, client management, sales, marketing, all of those kinds of things where I just answer question and you get an answer. So they’re fun to do. I love podcasts and as I said, it’s live in the feast where you can go to dot com slash podcast or you ask reds and you can go to dot com slash ask and this season, which I’m launching actually in a couple of weeks, middle of August for ask Rez, I’m changing the format slightly, so I’m going to still do the traditional ask Rez kind of episode.
Jason: 33:41 But then I’m going to do another episode. We’re going to bring on an expert to answer questions like tax and legal and those things that I’m just not going to answer cause I’m not qualified to answer them. But I get asked them anyway. And the other kind of episode that I’m gonna do is a one on one coaching session. So those will, those one on one coaching sessions will be 10 or 15 minutes at length, so there’ll be a little bit longer. But yeah, it’s just basically trying to help anybody that’s figuring it out themselves and trying to be there to help in any sort of way that I can give back. Because for me, that’s, I built my business in and around the Internet and the great community that, you know, especially in the WordPress space. If I can give back in some way that that’s fueled in my fire and that’s what I want to do.
Micah: 34:34 And just so people aren’t confused when they type in rezzz.com. It’s three Zs, right? Rezzz.com is the website and Rezzz on Twitter as well. Yep. So cool. So any other contact information that you want to throw out there or is that it?
Jason: 34:59 That’s about it. I’m always open to a conversation and, yeah, hit me up on Twitter. That’s the best way to get it. Yeah, thanks for having me guys. I appreciate it. It’s fun.
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