Post Status Draft – Roger Rosweide on Website as a Service

Transcript

In this podcast episode, Cory Miller interviews Roger Rosweide, co-founder of WildCloud, shares his journey with WordPress and WildCloud, and introduces the concept of website as a service. He discusses how this model can provide pre-built, managed websites for a monthly subscription fee, benefiting agencies, marketers, business consultants, and individuals. Roger also explains how agencies can incorporate this model into their business and discusses pricing and packaging strategies for selling websites through WildCloud. He emphasizes the collaborative spirit of the WordPress community and the potential benefits of a WordPress website as a service for marketers. Cory and Roger also discuss the importance of businesses functioning as communities.

Top Takeaways:

  • Niche Focus and Blueprints: Agencies can benefit from creating specialized services for specific niches and using pre-built blueprints. This approach allows them to target particular industries or professions, such as therapists, and deliver tailored solutions that cater to the unique needs of those clients.
  • Community Collaboration: Building a community around the WaaS model fosters collaboration among agencies, developers, and marketers. This collaborative spirit strengthens the WordPress ecosystem by encouraging dialogue, sharing insights, and addressing challenges collectively.
  • Adapting to WordPress Changes: As WordPress evolves, particularly with the introduction of Gutenberg and other updates, agencies may face challenges in adapting their existing solutions. However, these challenges can be viewed as opportunities to enhance and innovate, pushing agencies to improve and stay competitive.
  • Business Growth Through Community: By transitioning from a customer-centric to a community-centric approach, businesses can create more value for their clients. Providing resources, best practices, and a supportive community enables businesses to grow while helping clients achieve their goals.

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Transcript

Cory Miller (00:00:02) – Everybody, welcome back to Post Status Draft podcast. Got a great interviewee today. I met a couple of months ago back at WordCamp US in Baltimore. And uh, we kind of met. I was walking down the street and I heard my name turn around and got to meet somebody I’d been slacking with, which in, uh, is Roger Rosweide did I do the R…

Roger Rosweide (00:00:27) – Nailed it, nailed it.

Cory Miller (00:00:30) – Of Wild Cloud. And we had this really great impromptu conversation. And what struck me, Roger, about that was you’re passionate about what you do and very articulate too, you’re saying things and able to say what they are and what your unique place, uh, in the ecosystem is. But, um, so I’m excited to have you on finally talk about these things publicly. Uh, Roger, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do with WordPress and Wild Cloud?

Roger Rosweide (00:00:56) – Thanks and thanks for inviting me. Absolutely. So it’s it’s much more fun to have this conversation without us drinking beer, or it would actually be a lot more fun if we, you know, had a second go at the last time we had this conversation.

Cory Miller: Yep

Roger Rosweide (00:01:12) – Yeah. But anyways, uh, I really enjoyed the conversation we had at that time. And to give people a bit of background about myself. Um, I’m Dutch, I’m from Holland. I have a company with three of my best friends, which is honestly something I would recommend anybody. Uh, sometimes they say business and friends don’t mix. I have the opposite experience. And I found myself having an agency with my friends. Or two of them, at least at that time. And, um. As you do when you have an agency, you start to focus on something that you’re really good at or what you’re really passionate about. And in our case, for some reason, we focus on gyms and restaurants. Um, and as an agency, we mostly did a lot of marketing, a lot of digital marketing for these people. I’m actually a content maker by trade. Uh, I studied fashion for some reason, uh, which I clearly do nothing with, but still and, uh, at some point we noticed that we were selling a lot of websites, and we always joked that websites are basically the free nachos that help you sell more margaritas.

Roger Rosweide (00:02:22) – And if you really want to stress that analogy, then you really do have to give away those sites for almost nothing. Because really, that’s the way that you sell margaritas, right? You stuff people with salty stuff and then you sell them drinks. So that’s, that’s basically our that was our strategy towards uh, websites. And so if you, if you want to give away a lot of websites, then you kind of have to find a way to streamline the processes in order to scale your business, because that’s ultimately what we were trying to figure out. How do you scale an agency, which I think is the most important question that all agency owners ask themselves. And it has so many constraints. Right. And so our way of removing some of those constraints was to standardize the websites that we were selling. So same theme, same plugin stack. We were always developing a plugin stack, making it more lean, more elegant. And then we wanted to find a way to automatically provision those sites after people bought us, bought something from us in our web shop.

Roger Rosweide (00:03:21) – These were all things we didn’t have yet, but we had an approximation. We had a way to basically build the same website over and over again, and then you end up with this management problem. And, uh, we were solving it, but not really. And then fate hit us in the form of the pandemic. Uh, as you can imagine, an agency focusing on restaurants and gyms has a real big problem. So we basically lost all of our customers in the course of a of a week. Um, I pride myself on proactively calling all of our customers and pausing their projects with us because I knew that they were in a pickle. So I wanted to be the good guy. And, uh, that helped us a lot. Afterwards, when they started to recover, they came back. But at that time we had zero customers anymore. So this problem that we were having, how do we scale up this business model that we have? We we now finally had time to to solve it.

Roger Rosweide (00:04:19) – And so what we started doing is looking at the way SaaS companies scale their business. And if you want to do this the right way, you have to do it in the most fundamental way, right? The first principle thinking that people say Elon Musk always does, SaaS companies grow and scale to be unicorns because of a simple reason. And that is they have multi-tenant cloud infrastructure, which basically means that you maintain a central code base and push out changes to all of your customers at once. So we’re using Zoom right now. If Zoom wants to roll out a new feature to all of its customers, it does because they use multi-tenancy to push those, push that code to all of their customers. And so we wanted to use that for ourselves and build a platform. And of the three founders we had at that time, there was only one technical one, and he was completely able to build the platform, but it just took too long. And so we asked one of our best friends to join us, and he was actually making so much money at another company that we had to find an investor that honestly, honest to God.

Roger Rosweide (00:05:26) – That’s how we started looking for investors, because we wanted to find a way to get him in the company, and only then did we start researching what we were building exactly and how it was translating into a market opportunity. And that’s when we found out that we were doing something that nobody had done before and still hasn’t, which is introduced multi-tenancy so that other agencies can leverage it in the same way that SaaS companies are leveraging it. And, um, the first investor that we had come on board was, um, an investment vehicle by Porsche, the carmaker, and a company called Axel Springer, which is the largest media company in Europe. And that projected us, you know, into another realm, basically, but still having virtually no experience in the WordPress project. Like we as an agency, we didn’t consider ourselves WordPress-ers. Um, so fortunately, like you, we now have an have an investor that is very familiar with that. And. As an agency. I thought I had it really figured out.

Roger Rosweide (00:06:29) – And then you enter into a rule of WordPress and you kind of understand that you have to start from scratch again. Um, which has been the most fun adventure I’ve been on so far, because the WordPress community is the most welcoming and hospitable community I’ve ever been in. I’ve been in virtual reality, I’ve been in fashion, I’ve been in content making, but the whole WordPress ecosystem and making friends, um, I love that. And and the community minded of it. And the fact that we’re having this discussion under the the Post Status brand. Yeah, that’s, that’s, that makes work really fun. So, um. Hopefully that provides a bit of context about me.

Cory Miller (00:07:12) – Yeah, that’s some great background too. Um, for, you know, I was going to ask, like, how how’d you get to be a WP cloud? And you kind of said that I love this story’s where really good products come out of your own needs and what you’re seeing in the field. Um, and there’s a lot here for me to kind of come back to and ask about.

Cory Miller (00:07:33) – The first thing I wanted to mention is, I love that you you started this whole conversation with, um, I was in fashion and I go, there’s so many talented people in WordPress that code wasn’t even their background. And it brings this fresh perspective. And you can see it as, as we talk, like, how do you bring that creativity vision into the work you’re doing. So that that was super cool. I’m never surprised, but I’m kind of a little surprised sometimes to hear the diverse backgrounds people come into WordPress. Um, so you mentioned something too, um, the you’re serving gyms and restaurants, which again, physical, physical located bricks and mortar type businesses that Covid presented a monumental challenge to them. I tend to think baring not saying this about your particular experience because that’s that’s a hard thing to do to pause an agency work and go, okay, our clients are on pause right now. Um, but Covid to me pushed those bricks and mortars to go. This thing of the web we’ve kind of neglected because everything is here in this space and to diversify their strategies.

Cory Miller (00:08:41) – And I love that. I love the fact that now you got yoga studios thinking about, um, scheduling classes online and still using their HQ, their, their base of operations as a physical location, but serving even more people, and I would say making even more money. Um, real quick before I get on to website as a service. And this is my next question, really. Um, but. Anything you saw from those past clients is that that kind of trend that that kind of stands out because I love it. Pushing more of our, um, planet into, hey, digital is a great space. The web is a great space to use, maximize business, reach more customers. But any any thoughts about that that you saw from those gems and your former clients and things like that?

Roger Rosweide (00:09:29) – Well, yeah, absolutely. The, um, the gyms in particular, I think became the most creative for restaurants. It was um, well, I don’t want to underplay this, but it was a pretty straightforward decision.

Roger Rosweide (00:09:41) – Right. You have to do delivery. And obviously there are many ways you can go about that. You can go for Uber Eats, you can go for the local, uh, competition. But anyways, like the, the idea to do delivery or to do meal plans or whatnot was it already existed and it was now a bandwagon to hop onto. So I think in that sense the restaurants were able to recover the fastest. Um, but yeah, the gyms now suddenly had to start competing with personal trainers and Instagram influencers and had to come up with their own strategy to, you know, sell digital workouts. Uh, if people can’t actually go to the gym. Some people were renting out equipment to people nearby. Um, I’ve seen some really creative solutions, but, uh, I think triggered us to pursue the platform that we were building is one particular customer, which is a therapy, a physical therapy platform. So they have a website where most people go to if they search for ailments that pertain to physical therapy.

Roger Rosweide (00:10:45) – And, uh, what this website does is it’ll refer people to local, um, physical therapy, uh, businesses in their, in their area. So basically it was like this hub and then they referred other people. And then at some point they noticed that even though they were referring people, those other websites that people would land on, those specific websites weren’t always converting those people because those websites were old or they just weren’t maintained, uh, they weren’t working properly. And so obviously, this business owner was investing a lot of money in his own website, and he saw an opportunity to start offering up. You could say tiny duplicates of his own platform to these specific partners. And so that was actually the first website as a service that we’ve built for this particular customer, who is still a customer with us today, because all they wanted to do was say he wanted to have his own website clone that over and over again. And then every time he would improve something about his own website, which he was obviously spending a lot of money on.

Roger Rosweide (00:11:48) – He just wanted to push that particular improvement to all of his customers for a recurring, recurring monthly fee. And so now it almost is taking the shape of the traditional website, or rather software as a service model. But now you replace the software with website as a service model. And so we were we were trying to solve our own problem and noticing that we could solve it for a customer at the same time, which is a which is a revelation, because now we could actually get paid to build the platform that we wanted to build for ourselves, for as a, as an internal tool initially until other people started noticing. And then we needed to get our co-founder on board to build this faster. And that’s how the whole thing started. Um, but yeah, it’s it was a it was a time that I’m very happy to look back on because it, it helped us in many ways shape and, and catalyzed whatever is happening right now. But it was a time of great creativity and, uh.

Roger Rosweide (00:12:49) – Yeah, I mean, I heard somebody say this the other day, it’s not it’s not as if I’m fond of Covid. 

Cory Miller: Right. 

Roger Rosweide: But let’s be clear about that. Um, but it’s it it did have its merits at the time, at least.

Cory Miller (00:13:04) – Yeah. Just as I come into that, I think there are crises and things that happen that need to happen to spur us to do whatever is next. Um, so I looked at that too. I go, okay, let me find there’s a lot of negative in Covid. Obviously people die, right? But I go there’s positive in it in that it pushed some great. Cultural institutions, you know, in in positive ways, and I’m thankful for that. Um, so I want to talk about so Wild Cloud that we got the backstory kind of there what you. We did and the concept of website as a service. So really in that, that the client you just mentioned, they have like what I’ve seen on your website is blueprint a blueprint for something for a particular niche.

Cory Miller (00:13:54) – Um, and wanted to be able to deploy that to other people. Um, that is that essentially website as a service in your mind? 

Roger Rosweide (00:14:02) – Yes. The, the technical definition, I would say applies there, the business definition, which is just another way of explaining it over a different access, you could say, is that instead of paying a lump lump sum upfront and then often another sum after completion, to have an agency build an individual project a one off, you buy a pre-built, often managed website for a monthly recurring fee, and this is often a subscription. And this is something that is not specifically exclusive to WordPress. But the benefit of doing it with WordPress is that you buy a website that you can own that is not built with proprietary software. Um, but in essence, you are getting something where an agency becomes not a product, rather a project builder, but a product builder and says, we have all this experience, we have all this expertise in this specific subject could be I’m building website for hairdressers or for restaurants, but it could also be that I’m the best at building web shops for small businesses, membership websites.

Roger Rosweide (00:15:17) – We have many of those on our platform, so I’m really, really good at that. So instead of building a one off project, every time I’m building this one product that you can buy from me and you can decide if you want to customize it yourself, build your own pages, upload your own media, whatever. Or I could help you with that as well. But the idea is that you cut out 80 – 90% of the development time you get the product. Ready to go. Uh, it’s completely self-service onboarding, site provisioning happens after people make a purchase in your webshop. And then as an agency, you obviously want to be as efficient as possible in managing as many websites as possible. So the way to do that is by developing and maintaining all these sites from a single source. Uh, at least that’s our solution to it. But without getting into the details and the and the specs of the platform, the idea is that you sell people a site subscription and they get the product immediately after purchasing.

Cory Miller (00:16:17) – That’s excellent. So I love the concept. I’ve seen people try to pull this off in in some ways, and I know it’s hard. You all have got the technical infrastructure, everything behind the scenes to do this. But what I’m curious about with website as a service is, in your experience and what you’ve seen with clients and doing it yourself, what things stand out so well, let me ask this question first, I would assume, but who is the target? Type ideal client for this. You mentioned agency, but there’s probably an entrepreneur out there that doesn’t necessarily go. I don’t build website necessarily, but I know marketing or I know a specific thing. Let’s who are those people in your mind that go. This is ideal for them to take a next step in their business, whether it’s an agency or whoever else. Who are those type of peoples you envision as you build this product, continue to build this product?

Roger Rosweide (00:17:16) – It’s very good. I’m very impressed that you, um, that you’re pointing this out because.

Roger Rosweide (00:17:24) – Well, it’s not something that I expected. Uh, but yeah, you’re right. The unexpected customer of our platform is very often someone who doesn’t necessarily have as much technical skill, or at least something to confidently build a website product, but they know their audience really well. And so what we often see is they’re either marketers or they are business consultants, or they have had a management position in their specific, uh, industry. And they know for a fact that the websites that their peers usually have suck. And so WordPress is fortunately, you know, very accessible. Uh, it it it’s it requires not too much effort. So a lot of people have the idea that they can build something. And so we find them actually tinkering away on our platform. That is a pretty large part of our audience. And again, it’s not not an audience that I expected. The focus of our marketing campaigns is usually the smaller agencies. We’ve noticed that the bigger agencies. Have sometimes solved this problem simply by throwing bodies at the problem.

Roger Rosweide (00:18:34) – Um, it would be much cheaper to do it our way, but often you are set in your ways. So if you have hired 10 or 20 people to manage a lot of websites, you don’t want to, you don’t want to fire them, and I can. I completely get that. But if you have an agency or you are a freelancer, but an agency to say up to 10 to 15 employees, then most of the time it’s actually the business owner that’s on our website making the decision to explore the platform. And then still it’s a developer or somebody technical that’s actually going to use the platform. But most of the time I have sales conversations with business owners who see this as an opportunity to scale their business without having to hire more people, because that’s the whole idea. You don’t have to hire more people, but you can in fact sell more websites. And, um, so I find myself creating a lot of content, and my co-founder finds himself doing a lot of business consultancy conversations where we don’t necessarily have to focus on the technical side of things.

Roger Rosweide (00:19:35) – Often enough, these people hire other people to build a product. For them. It’s more about, all right, so how can this work for my business? How does this business model really work? And, um, it’s a it’s a shift, right? You go from project product. So it it requires different KPIs, different metrics, different, um, projections. So, um, it’s it’s exciting.

Cory Miller (00:19:57) – Yes. Because the more and more, you know, I’ve talked to bunches of agencies and they’re the majority of our membership. And you go, the one thing you all think they need and rightly so, recurring revenue. So in between the big projects and stuff like that, a lot have obviously done maintenance. Uh, and, you know, uh, not maintenance. Yeah. Maintenance and care top plans to get that recurring revenue. But I think this is interesting because if the agency looks at who they kind of gravitate toward or gravitates toward them, there’s probably some things they do in every project that stand out and why they’re being asked to do these projects.

Cory Miller (00:20:40) – And I would assume that’s that’s great fodder for an agency owner to go look at what our commonalities with clients are. Do we do we gravitate toward, uh, I’m just throwing out examples, but nonprofits or, um, e-commerce or like you said, membership sites do. We end up doing a lot of that work? And is that something that could be? Productized in the sense of a website as a service and offered for people. Um. But what what are some, you know, as that agency owner is kind of evaluating this? What kind of questions stand out to you that goes, okay, this might have some potential to be the recurring revenue website as a service and help our clients reach their goals.

Roger Rosweide (00:21:26) – So often. The a really green flag for me is if they see it as part of a larger strategy. So we’re talking agencies, right? We’re not necessarily talking people that are, uh, dead set on building an entire website as a service solution. Uh, because obviously I see those people a lot, and those are my favorite customers.

Roger Rosweide (00:21:52) – But for agencies, I would say you have your own way of building and scaling your company right now. I would never ask an agency that’s doing something that’s working to completely shift their business model towards a website as a service, but it can be an amazing addition to speak to an audience that may not be able to afford your project right now, and you can actually use a website as a service, as a lead magnet to get those people inside of your realm and actually get them to pay you for something that they are probably going to figure out themselves. And because they don’t have to spend a lot of money on you right now, they can actually focus that time and money on building their business using the product that you’ve sold to them. And so as they become more and more successful, they are now going to open up a budget to take out these sites out of its standardized, managed environments and turn it into a project that obviously you’re going to take on because you’ve already provided so much value to them.

Roger Rosweide (00:22:52) – And that is actually something that I see happening quite a bit. It’s something that obviously I’ve not come up with myself. It’s something that I see the customers of ours doing. Um, so you use it as a complementary product that is helping you land those big fishes and basically just nurturing your, your, your leads, as it were, by actually turning them into customers on a different product that you have. And, um, those are some of the signs where I see, okay, this person or these people are thinking about this in a, in a, in a way to scale the entire business and not as a, as a cool new thing or something.

Cory Miller (00:23:31) – What it’s it’s like you said, you know 10 -15 person agency might not have the resources to just hire a sysadmin, right, to manage servers. And you’ve done that work for them, but can look and go, uh, I love that you talked. Maybe they can’t afford you right now, but they could graduate to to be a custom project as their needs grow.

Cory Miller (00:23:56) – I think that’s a compelling way for an agency owner to think about the clients. Is that’s a that’s a new revenue potential for them to capture. Probably some of the leads that aren’t even, you know, they’re just not going to go wherever their project scope is, but could take them and then eventually graduate if they get into, you know, success. And I love that mindset about that.

Roger Rosweide (00:24:20) – Yeah. And then it’s um, sorry. I wanted to add to that. It’s like selling plugins and themes, right? I speak to agencies all the time, and another green flag for me is if they’ve already thought about or started privatizing some of their services. So they’ve built a feature in the past, but they’ve turned it into a product. I just spoke to an agency who does, uh, WP calorie calculator. So if you have a gym website or a I don’t know anybody in the health industry, you can calculate calories for any type of thing. And they’ve turned it into a plugin. So people using the plugin at some point may need agency services, and they turn to whoever is building the plug in.

Roger Rosweide (00:25:01) – And if you have that productized mindset then or ambition, then the website as a service model works really well for you.

Cory Miller (00:25:12) – Well, and they’ve seen the projects they’ve launched for clients and know those things that probably have commonalities that are success for them. You know, I think about websites as marketing vehicles. I mean, that’s there on the web, there presentations of what you do. But I would I would gather if an agency owner just looks at, okay, this thing we need to do every like calorie counter. That’s a great example. That’s a feature that’s probably there’s a plugin for everything in WordPress. So something that they all probably need uh, and that you’ve seen, they have some success with the, the thing that stands out for me, I think you said physical therapists, um, earlier. So we, we’ve, we’ve had a startup for to help mental health health therapists and you go, gosh, the industry is ten years behind technologically. It got a little bit of a boost with Covid, but ten years behind.

Cory Miller (00:26:10) – And, you know, honestly, a lot of them don’t have money, a lot of money. But the idea is over time, they’re going to grow their practice from just a business standpoint, be able to earn more. But there’s some simple things. So we came up with this, you know okay, what are those key needs. They just need to be found in Google. Uh, Google my business is a part of that too, because here in the United States at least, it’s based on a geographic region. But, you know, there’s there’s commonalities with those therapists that they just need, but they don’t need a 500 page website. They need a couple of things to help them with local SEO and help the client see what they’re doing and convert to potentially call it, I say convert with mental health, but, uh, to be able to make a call to schedule a first session to get the help and support they need. But those aren’t like super advanced. But our problem was we’re like, they need to be websites.

Cory Miller (00:27:05) – We’re going to teach them how to do that. But like we’re not in the business of doing that. But that would be a great example is, uh, can’t afford our services, have some needs, could potentially graduate on to do more projects um, downstream a bit.

Roger Rosweide (00:27:20) – This is an especially strong example that you’re giving here because, um, there’s basically two ways to go about this, right? You could have one website and every, um, expert or, or um, well, let’s call them an expert would have its own sub page and that would be fine. Or you could have every expert have its own website. And you, you you corrected yourself and you said convert. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad word to use, because at the end of the day, that person is also a business owner. That person needs to make a living in order to be able to provide the service. So I think capitalism and um, and helping other people go hand in hand here, but the reason why I’m pointing it out is if you want to convert your customers that are going to be searching for you or your services nearby, then you’re always going to win.

Roger Rosweide (00:28:14) – If you have a locally optimized website and a locally optimized website is always going to perform better than a locally optimized page on a website with many other pages that are locally optimized for other regions. So if you are serious about getting your customers digitally, then you need to have your own website that is completely yours and individual, unattached to anything else where you can focus your content and your SEO on your services in your area. And so a website as a service works really well for for those people, they get a website that they don’t have to pay a large amount of money for, and then they can focus their attention on optimizing it locally. Um, that’s a it’s a great example. And it’s, uh, it’s one of the reasons why I’m personally very excited about the, um, potential of the platform we have. Most of our customers are actually in the US, but we have a lot of attention from Africa and India, Pakistan, uh, we’re actually quite big in Southeast Asia. So Thailand, Vietnam.

Roger Rosweide (00:29:25) – I’ve worked in Africa myself. I was a startup coach, uh, for a non-profit, and we were helping startups in Africa build a business that with the vision of transforming the continent. And, um, it’s where it’s where I get most of my passion from still, like helping other people and seeing all the interest that we have from Africa, where I can completely see how this is a platform where you can actually introduce a new business model that will help more people get online, as opposed to selling very expensive projects one by one. Um, yeah. It’s one. We’re still figuring out the business model in terms of the economics, because our platform is a little too expensive still, for most people, um, although it’s very affordable and I would say competitive with any other hosting platform in the Western world. But when we get there, um, that would be that’s going to be a really great day for me.

Cory Miller (00:30:20) – That. That’s awesome. And I, uh, yeah, that sparked me because I’m like, gosh, that that’s ideal.

Cory Miller (00:30:27) – Don’t have a lot of money at the moment. Need to leverage these technologies to do something. And being able to roll that out to them, I think is really fantastic. And part of the democratizing, uh, publishing mission with WordPress. Um, so I’m curious, so you’re an agency, let’s put ourselves in the agency owner. Um, what thoughts, I’m just kind of switching to the business side of this. You want to do your you’re thinking, okay, I can serve these type of people, you know, with these types of paths, blueprints, things that are going to help them market on the web. How how do you think about packaging and pricing of those? So we’re the agency owner hat for a second. I see an opportunity if we want to use therapists or some other, uh, example, how would you think about packaging and pricing those? Because, you know, the first question that was coming up for me, Roger, is you get a website up, it looks great, but there’s no content.

Cory Miller (00:31:28) – So in the terms of those services or things that you might offer, you could offer different tiers that assume, I just want the website, I’m going to go in there and flush my content out. But what are your thoughts? Have you seen clients and done it yourself that kind of stand out to you about how to think about that packaging and pricing?

Roger Rosweide (00:31:47) – So on the pricing side, um, you could see as a pretty simple. Rule of thumb. Um, I don’t remember using these. Calculations myself when I was an agency owner. But now that I am a SaaS owner, I use a completely different set of KPIs and one of them is the lifetime value of your customer, like the LTV. And if you know the LTV of your agency customer right now and you know how much you sold the project for, then you can kind of estimate how much you need to charge per month to get to that same number at the end of your LTV. So it gives you a bit of a ballpark as to the type of product that you’re going to sell, because that’s the value that you’re providing here.

Roger Rosweide (00:32:35) – Now, obviously you can make it more affordable, more accessible depending on the volume that you expect to reach. But if you’re looking to sell a lot of these sites, say, 200 or more, then probably you want to do it for a little bit less because you’re still going to make a lot of money in the process. In practice, I see a lot of our customers sell sites between. So now we’re talking to US for a moment between $100 and $300 per month. So it’s actually a pretty interesting number if you consider that you can also upsell them other features and other services. Now, in terms of packaging, most of the time I see our customers sell a pretty straightforward blog or portfolio website that does only a couple of things, and it comes with a couple of pages. You. We actually enable people to launch different designs under the same code version as we call it. So it means that you can have multiple templates that spin up multiple designs of the same product and still manage those centrally.

Roger Rosweide (00:33:38) – And then that’s tier number one. And via the API that we expose. And we actually make this stupid simple for you. You could actually upsell them add ons. So say for example, they at one point notice that they’ve bought the portfolio website, but they actually also want to include a membership. Or now they also want to sell stuff you can actually. Self-service wise. Upsell your customers to also include WooCommerce and it will activate automatically. It will pre-configured itself and then people can get started or get going with that. So you can actually you can you can stagger or build up these packages as expensive as you want. We actually have a customer that’s pretty much built its own plugin store. You could say. So it’s it. I would say it has at least 40 or 50 add ons. So the basic product is $40 per month. But if you were to order all of their add ons, it would be a couple of hundred dollars per month in this site. And it all works in a self-service type of way.

Roger Rosweide (00:34:39) – And I think that’s. Another reason why I’m so excited about this, because I’ve become such a fan of the collaborative, collaborative spirit of the WordPress community, and I’m always looking for ways to get people to collaborate even more, because I think it strengthens what we’re doing. And one of the things that I’ve noticed in my own position as as a former agency owner is I didn’t feel as involved. I didn’t feel like I had much to contribute. I was I was just selling the sites based on the plugins and themes that other people were building, and we would build our own theme, but we weren’t actually in the ecosystem, and I had no reason to reach out to certain plugin owners. But the moment you start to think of your site as a product, you become, um, focused on having everything work at scale. And so plugin builders are in connection with us, and we are in connection with the agency owners to make sure that everything still works as they scale up. And that brings together people that would normally not be.

Roger Rosweide (00:35:45) – In the same conversation. Um, you’re trying to figure out if your LMS plugin is still going to work well with your SEO plugin as you sell 200 of them. And, uh, and that makes for a very interesting conversation. Or you’re trying to stylize the WP admin in such a way that it’s much easier for your non-technical customers to use, and you want to know how that works with the licensing. And so more and more, we see the agencies becoming aware that they’re actually in the WordPress community and starting to reach out to people for us, connecting them with us, and then sparking this conversation. And, um. Yeah. That’s it. It basically introduces a new frontier to WordPress, which is something that I’m very passionate about. So right now, most people think of WordPress as a CMS that you can use to build websites. And. Over time, we’re introducing this new frontier where you can start thinking about WordPress as an OS, where you build SaaS products using the technology that’s available to you.

Roger Rosweide (00:36:54) – And, um. It lets developers and and semi technical people build stuff with WordPress with the same skills that they weren’t able to build before, and I think that strengthens and fortifies the project.

Cory Miller (00:37:10) – Um, yeah, absolutely. Um, I was thinking about some of the specific agencies, and they might not even be web development agencies, but they’re adjacent. So marketing agencies that do SEO or, you know, my wife runs a content marketing agency. And, um, you know, one of the things that she deals with quite often are websites to just don’t have the technical foundation right, and tuned. And so she ends up doing more of that work and working with partners on that work, because flat out, they just don’t have the technical underpinning to really, you know, they don’t have a fast vehicle for what they need. And so, you know, I think about these agencies that do SEO, um, content marketing, whatever that is, you know, two in this is like, well, if you early on in ithemes, I remember talking to a guy, he was using one of our themes and he was like, I don’t want to do web development, but I have to because they don’t have great websites to even do the marketing that I do for them.

Cory Miller (00:38:15) – So I think that’s another broader than just we have majority our web development type agencies at Post Status. But you know adjacent is they’re using WordPress probably, you know logging in and using. And the other thought was, you know, since I’ve been in WordPress about 15 or 16 years now, um, I’ve kind of bemoaned the fact that WordPress is the DIY solution, has gotten extremely competitive in the space, and there’s really, really good solutions out there. Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and this is an opportunity to kind of recapture some of that because they all have all the you just go on maybe one of those, uh, their templates that they use and look at the categories and you go, there’s opportunities in those categories to do it well with one space catered to their needs. Um, that could be part of that, recapturing some of that ground or holding steady that ground, maybe even growing it. Um, if agencies looked at that too and go, there’s probably so many, like you said that can’t afford us.

Cory Miller (00:39:16) – But down here and kind of, you know, it’s a way to get WordPress out, grow WordPress on that.

Roger Rosweide (00:39:22) – You’re giving great examples. And, um, I’m, I’m very pleased with, with how you’re taking this idea and then creating all these different scenarios and they all fit, uh, the best. The biggest compliment I’ve had so far is, um, an agency from Houston, Texas, and they were actually losing customers to Shopify, which was the exact same problem that we were having. I found myself, uh, in arguments with potential customers that were saying, why should I hire you if I could build it myself on Shopify and I thought to myself, uh, that sounds like a great idea. You could definitely pick out a template. I’d love to see you actually build out the pages and make it all work seamlessly, and then maintain it as well. But still, you know, you find yourself in that argument because that’s the limited, um, uh, comprehension that people have at that point, which is totally fine.

Roger Rosweide (00:40:18) – It’s not your job. They had the same problem, and they started building a website as a service that was basically competing with Shopify. And the compliment that they gave to me was we were actually able to retain our customers and so beat Shopify by building a solution. And that is something that I, um, for all its benefits and its glory, is something that people need to understand about WordPress, is that it’s it isn’t a solution for the end user. It isn’t it. It’s the start of a solution for somebody who’s building the website, which often enough are not the same people, the end user and the people and the person building it or the company building it aren’t the same. So there’s always going to be this gap in knowledge. And so whatever you deliver to the end user has to be an actually fully functioning solution in the way that you pick up an iPhone and know how it works. And and WordPress isn’t that. But that doesn’t say that whatever you build does can be completely sophisticated.

Roger Rosweide (00:41:22) – I’ve seen the most beautiful websites and we’ve all known we can all name the examples. Um. So in the right hands, whatever you build with WordPress can be a work of art. And if you think about it in a product based mindset, the way that SaaS people now think about how the user experience and the customer journey should work. Um, you can build something that is for people ready to take off the shelf and start using for themselves. And, um. And to get back to one of your points, the the majority of the sites that we actually built in our agency weren’t complete corporate websites for restaurants and gyms. They’re actually the landing pages for the marketing campaigns that we ran. We did. We didn’t want to sell them a complete website overhaul that was also too big of a project for most of them. So what we did is we built a sales funnel that was actually converting using websites that we were building for them, and we were managing all these different landing pages. So you’re completely right.

Roger Rosweide (00:42:27) – You don’t have to build a website as a service with a product that replaces somebody’s website. You can also use it to help your marketing campaigns by building landing pages and whatnot, or build the membership, uh, sites that people can attach to their main site. It doesn’t have to replace everything else.

Cory Miller (00:42:48) – I didn’t even think about landing pages in microsites. So, you know a company out there. I’m sorry, I’m in ideation phase, but I go company out there. It’s got a big site. Let’s say they’re on Magento or something else, right? That’s big. Maybe even WordPress. But they go, they can’t do much with that main website. But the marketing team needs to deploy strategies that take forever, or they’re complex over here. Not not even appropriate to do in marketing. It could roll out landing pages. Like you said, I think about Clickfunnels is used prolifically within marketing standards, but it’s it’s kind of a locked in program. Um, and they do great work, don’t get me wrong.

Cory Miller (00:43:32) – But you go as a marketer, I want to be able roll something out, you know, a Microsoft landing page, which is you don’t want a WordPress install sitting over here that you forget about. I’ve done plenty of that. But through OWASp top platform, you’re those updates and things are getting worked on. Or one click type things. You can roll those out for people to do landing page, microsites, whatever it is. I think that’s a compelling I hadn’t I hadn’t thought about that until you mentioned landing pages.

Roger Rosweide (00:44:00) – I’ll give you another one. This is my favorite use case of the moment. It’s, um, one of the big issues that we have in the Netherlands, and I’m sure it’s the same in the US is employer branding. Everybody’s looking for employees. Where do you get them? Where do you actually hire the right talent? And, um, if you have a franchise business or a multi-location multi-brand business and there’s one headquarters that’s trying to do employer branding, it is a hell trying to do it over multiple websites for multiple locations, trying to get franchisees to adhere to design guidelines.

Roger Rosweide (00:44:36) – It’s it’s bananas. So. Using a website as a service. Any marketer can build any employer branding site and attach that as a subdomain to the main domain of each specific location. Standardizing the code and the content, so you can actually push out any type of design that you want the site to look like, so that it completely adheres to any type of employer branding that you came up with. But then give each location owner its own module where they can write, you know, the the actual applications. So that’s the only thing that they have access to. All the other stuff is centrally maintained by a marketer who is now able to sell services that are super technical in nature, sounding, but not really because it’s very easy to build. It’s only WordPress. You don’t have to code anything for this. I can show you how it works and you can. You can multiply your fees by because you’re now selling a product on top of your service, something that people are going to pay for on a monthly basis.

Roger Rosweide (00:45:45) – And so this works really well for any large business with multiple locations. And at the end of the day, you’re not solving the problem of people not having a website. You’re solving the problem of people not knowing how to do employer branding. So again, you’re using it in a much larger strategy.

Cory Miller (00:46:03) – Yeah, I love that. Okay, so we’ve talked quite a bit about, uh, WordPress website as a service. I think it’s awesome. Some, some criteria for an agency owner to evaluate, like, hey, this could be something we could add on that could be could help us with deal flow, prospective customers graduating those customers as their needs. They show some success and their business grows. I want to turn the page for a second. And just to ask, um, you’ve been doing this for a while now, a long time. What, uh, what are you seeing on the web? Web and then overall and, uh, and we can get down to WordPress, but I’m just kind of curious.

Cory Miller (00:46:47) – I’d like to ask everybody this, like, what are you seeing out there? Um, on a more meta perspective of the web and then WordPress.

Roger Rosweide (00:46:58) – So, um, what I’m about to say has two sides to it. On the one hand, you have a lot of people that are currently a little worried about the new features that are coming out of updates of WordPress, right? As as Gutenberg grows and improves, people are worried that it’s going to interfere with features that they’ve built in their products. And my answer to that is it is definitely an existential problem, but it’s also an opportunity to raise the bar because now you have to work harder and improve more. And it’s you wouldn’t believe it if I told you. But when the calculator was introduced, people were afraid that their children would now be become dumber because they didn’t have to make these calculations in their head anymore. But we all know the results. Math actually became much more complicated as a result of it, and now we have much more complicated math that younger children are learning.

Roger Rosweide (00:47:58) – Similarly, I see the development of this in the context of WordPress. But then on the other hand, we also we as a as, as a, as fans of the open source project, are also facing an existential threat threat because platforms like Shopify, Wix and Squarespace are outperforming us most of the time because it’s a much easier to use and understand platform. And I get it. It’s it’s a it’s a problem that I’m facing as well. How do we get our platform as easy to use and as easy to start onboarding to as possible? And it’s definitely a challenge. And they’ve got billions of dollars to solve that problem. So what’s the solution? I think the solution is not to compete with them head on. It’s to do the David and Goliath thing. It’s understand that where we excel is in the niche. We can build products specifically for people, or use cases or niches that serve that audience in a way that a larger corporation would never be able to do. It’s why you go to a boutique shop around the corner and not always do a department store, because the owner there knows you and can give you a personal style.

Roger Rosweide (00:49:12) – I have no idea where I came up with the fashion example, but I guess it fits this conversation.

Cory Miller (00:49:17) – I like it.

Roger Rosweide (00:49:18) – Playing to your strengths and then conquering the niche is such cliché advice, right? I mean, you. I’m in the VC startup world. Um, I speak to a lot of investors, uh, as part of my job, and it’s one of those platitudes that they all use, right? Conquer your niche and then dominate your ecosystem. And. I think that is the strategy to not only compete with the larger platforms, but also to solve the existential problem of the bar being raised for all the WordPress product companies in our little community. And it’s it’s a strategy that works for both these problems. And it’s actually pretty straightforward.

Cory Miller (00:50:05) – Um, in serving better. So one size fits all, you know, kind of solution. You look at some of those platforms and then being able to cater, I like that boutique and department store example by the way. Anything else that you’re seeing where I ask you what cool things you’re excited about that you’re doing right?

Roger Rosweide (00:50:26) – I guess those are my biggest, um. Uh, talking points in the sense that I think it is. I don’t think it’s a word of caution. It’s a word of comfort. Um, that if you focus on the thing that you love to do the most, you’ll find that it’s often very much towards a specific use case or a specific, uh, person that you’re trying to build something for. Uh, we all have those customers that we’ve enjoyed the most, and they have a specific set of requirements that you’d love to work on. The problems that they have are the ones you want to solve. And, um, I think that’s what made this ecosystem strong in the first place. And I think that’s just where we need to get back on focusing on. And at some point in time, companies try to be everything for everyone. Uh, you see this a lot in the acquisition strategy of hosting companies. I think it’s. Not the best strategy to start buying plugins, therefore cannibalizing on their existing marketing channels.

Roger Rosweide (00:51:31) – Um, and if we. We’re to stay in our lane a little bit more, but still focus on collaboration. I think we can actually get a much. You can have a smaller piece of a much larger pie, and I think that’s much more fun than when you’re trying to be a big fish in a small pond. Um, just a just to mix my metaphors here a little bit.

Cory Miller (00:51:55) – I love it. That’s a that’s a really good, uh, perspective shift for me, too, is, uh, I kind of been around the one size fits all and then conquered the niche excel in. That is definitely where it’s at. Like, we, you know, we we wear clothing that, you know, over time, you want to you want to buy one that fits you perfectly and does what you needed to do. And so people will see searches out, as you know, the world gets more competitive for sure. Those needs raise. So that’s a great word. What are you excited about that you’re doing it uh Wild Cloud.

Cory Miller (00:52:32) – What do you got going on? What’s on your. 

Roger Rosweide (00:52:34) – Yeah, it’s something.That we spoke of before we went on air. It’s, uh, we’re building our own community. Obviously not in the same sense as the Post Status community. And it’s definitely not anything, uh, similar, but one of the one of the challenges that we face as a new company is, uh, how do we get how do we explain this new technology to people? And what we’ve noticed is that, obviously, we’re always going to be going to be improving our UI and our customer journey, but there’s also a large desire for community. Yesterday, I sent out an email to, uh, our our contact list asking for help building this new community, testing the tools that we want to include in it. And I’ve been getting dozens and dozens of replies from people that want to help and contribute all day. I’m actually completely overwhelmed. Um, and I actually didn’t expect it at all. So again, today is a day that’s that’s for me, largely themed around building a community.

Roger Rosweide (00:53:37) – And you can tell in this whole conversation and it’s something that excites me a lot because I love to talk to people, and I love to hear about what they want to do and how they how they plan on adding value for other people and, um, grouping that and bringing people together. I’ll admit, I’m also pretty nervous because the stakes have been raised. Now that we’ve seen so many people that want to contribute, I feel like there’s a much larger responsibility for us now. It’s not something that we can just launch and then figure out as we go. So I expect to have a busy December because we planned to launch this in January. Um, but yeah, that’s, uh, it’s definitely something exciting.

Cory Miller (00:54:14) – That’s excellent to hear. I know we talked about it before, but, you know, with what what was transformational for our, our business at iThemes was when we switched from customer to community and realizing people come to a business, uh, to buy a product, but they’re trying to get something done bigger in their life.

Cory Miller (00:54:34) – And I love that you all are. And if you resource them and you build fans and we want raving fans about what we do, and the other side is people are getting help. And I think you’re you’re modeling something that these prospective clients for your service can do too. So you have a bunch of mental health therapists, you know, that you’re servicing with a website. Uh, what we did at All Counseling continue to do. That’s the startup that we had for to help therapists is should teach a marketing, teach them things that they can basically do to kind of grow their practice. So I always think business works better as a community. It’s not necessarily one size fits all, but I love that because you’re tapping into, um, the aspirations and serving them. And that’s, you know, businesses as publishers, it’s kind of businesses, community leaders. And, uh, so I love that you’re doing that. I can’t wait for it to come out. Um, because I think you’ve got a vibrant community sitting there that wants to learn, okay, we’re doing this.

Cory Miller (00:55:34) – We’re having some success. We don’t feel like we’re competing to get these other people here. Let’s share some things that are best practices to help us really ultimately serve our customers and grow our grow our business. So I love what you’re doing that.

Roger Rosweide (00:55:47) – Thanks. And I really want to get this opportunity to, um, repeat what I said when we met at WordCamp US. I am a huge fan of Post Status. It is one of those products that delivers much, much more than what you’re paying for. And, um, it is definitely the the place where I always go to to find friends, uh, reconnect with friends, follow up with people that I’ve met at WordCamps everywhere. And, um, it’s it’s one of those places where it kind of just organizes itself. I almost feel like ..

Cory Miller: it does. It does. 

Roger Rosweide: But at the same time, you’re also putting a lot of effort into the website, into the community, into the podcast. It’s a it’s an amazing way to, uh, to present yourself and hopefully find a new few friends after this recording.

Roger Rosweide (00:56:38) – Um, yeah, man, thanks for what you’re doing. I really appreciate it. And we’re modeling what we’re doing after this example. So I hope you you find that as a compliment.

Cory Miller (00:56:46) – Oh, of course. Well, thank you for that. And it is reflective of the people in and have done it like Slack is, is crazy. And, uh, but people are using that to network and partner and, and then support each other. And I think that’s a in the spirit of WordPress. So I appreciate you saying that. Well, Roger, thanks so much for the time. Um, this has been really intriguing, uh, conversation. I think it’s an opportunity for agencies to grow and expand their business to be one more stable, that recurring revenue that could come if they can find those niches that they serve the past, the blueprints that they they offer and use a great platform like Wild Cloud to, uh, to to do that without having to hire, you know, all the technical type things that they might need for something like that.

Cory Miller (00:57:34) – You’re taking out a great part of that and offering it as a service product.

Roger Rosweide (00:57:38) – Great ambassador. I really appreciate the way you’re able to, uh, vocalize everything here. It’s great.

Cory Miller (00:57:45) – Awesome. You guys make it easy. Thanks, everybody for listening in today. Go check out WildCloud.com and I hope you get to meet Roger soon. He’s a great conversation to have and a friend that you want to have in your circle. So thanks Roger again. 

Roger Rosweide: Thanks.

This article, Post Status Draft – Roger Rosweide on Website as a Service, was published at Post Status — the community for WordPress professionals.

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