Joe Casabona: Hey, everybody. And welcome to the first episode of this special series called WordPress Year in Review. This is the year 2020. If you listened to the trailer or introductory episode, you’ll know I started this because lots of WordCamps got canceled or went virtual, including WordCamp US. And I wanted to create content to help fill the void of those WordCamps not happening.
And part of that is giving speakers who would have otherwise spoken at WordCamps a place to at least talk about their talks. And I’m totally open to feedback. So, you know, I’m still filling things out here. So if you want to hear all the talks or at least more than just the gist that you’re about to hear, let me know. Write to me at [email protected]
and I will take your feedback under advisement.
Today, in Episode 01, we fittingly have the user track. So we’ll be hearing from three speakers: Ron Gijsel, Robert Jacobi, and myself. And we’ll be talking about opportunities to improve your WooCommerce store, That’s Ron. Automating your content, that’s Robert. And ways to contribute to WordPress that are not code, that’s me.
I also want to thank our sponsors Nexcess and GoDaddy Pro. You’ll be hearing about them later on in this episode. So without further ado, let’s get to the talks. And first up is Ron Gijzel.
Okay. I am here now with Ronald Gijsel. He is the partnership and community manager? Is that what you told me right before the pre-show? I can’t even understand my own handwriting here.
Ronald Gijsel: That is correct.
Joe Casabona: Awesome. Ronald, how are you today?
Ronald Gijsel I’m great. Thank you very much. Yeah. I think the community part is a lot less now because everything is so virtual and online. And originally when I adopted the title, I was planning to jet around the world, fisting loads of WordCamps and meeting those people. So a lot less community.
Joe Casabona: Gotcha. Yeah. That’s a, you know, that’s part of the reason for this project too. But, you are doing that for Yith themes which I always, like, get very nervous pronouncing. Yith, it’s probably just the way to go there.
Ronald Gijsel: It is. Yeah.
Joe Casabona: So yeah. So you are the partnership and community manager over at Yith. Your talk that you submitted to WordCamp US 2020 was titled ‘Identify 10 Opportunities For Every WooCommerce Store’. Now I’ll say right at the top of this show that we did a full episode together where we talked a little bit about this. So if you want to get more in depth talk, or more in-depth information about what Ronald is going to tell us about here, you can do so. There’ll be over at the show notes at [howibuilt.it] or over at [wpreview.io] if you just want to get this series.
So, Ron, you gave us a little bit of what you do. But tell us a little bit more. Who are you? What do you do over at Yith? And, you know, what do you do with WooCommerce specifically?
Ronald Gijsel Sure. So I worked for years and I’ve been for quite some time although full time only since the beginning of this year. And I look after a lot of tasks from bringing in more customers to communicating with customers and also partnerships. Especially partnerships is something I’m always really keen on because it gives me the freedom and the creativity to come up with something that works for both partners in this case. So yeah. We’re working hard with various plugin and payment companies in the WooCommerce ecosystem. But that’s, of course, it’s a long process.
Apart from that, day-to-day communication with the team, sharing my vision. And of course everything is done remotely whereas we usually intend to visit or see each other at least twice a year. So it comes up with a few challenges to keep everybody on board on the same, you know, same picture, viciousness that I see. But it’s all good. And I must say, you know, WooCommerce is popular especially because of the current situation, and, you know, for us to adapt to the new way of selling online. And providing your services has been challenging at times. But at the same time, really rewarding as well because you see… so you hear so many success stories of businesses that couldn’t barely do it and necessarily they can and realize what took me so long? Why didn’t I do this much sooner? That’s been really rewarding.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’ve seen, I think the stat in April or May was, we saw as many e-commerce stores created In the first eight weeks of the pandemic as we did over the previous 10 years. So, people are…
Ronald Gijsel: Wow! That’s amazing stuff.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, right. I’ll try to link. I’ll find that, and I’ll link that in the show notes. I read it in one of my newsletters. But a newsletter that I get, not one of my newsletters. I’m not sourcing myself. But in any case, you know, I suspect many of those stores are probably WooCommerce stores. And so, tell us a little bit about, kind of give us the synopsis of your talk and why you thought that would be good for the WordCamp US audience?
Ronald Gijsel: So the toll. I mean, yes, the full version we did several months ago and the talk, and the ideas have evolved since. And I think that that’s quite a natural way. You get feedback, you learn, you educate yourself. So the talk has evolved a little bit. And I wanted to give WooCommerce store owners, but also freelancers and general WordPress the inside the way I see WooCommerce or e-commerce or commerce in this more global way. Because there are so many opportunities within the, you know, the user journey, the customer journey from the first interaction where they maybe hear or see, or click on your brand all the way to making that purchase but then beyond as well. But especially before they make that first purchase, it’s something that’s very much overlooked. Cause you look at Google Analytics and you see off at whatever 10,000 page views, 5,000 returning customers, and I’ve made a thousand sales. That’s probably pretty good going as an e-commerce rate. But, you know, that picture of that first visit to actually making that first purchase, there’s a lot more complex. And diving a little bit deeper in Google analytics and trying to give you know, the audience that view, and maybe change that view on how they do things. And especially in looking at the opportunities within that journey too, before you make the first purchase and act on that, and act on it, measure it, see what you can do to change it, to increase it.
And then, you know, when, during this buying cycle, so you know, that they are interested, we then move on to getting more value out of them whether that’s during the purchase time. So increasing order value, or very soon after making the first purchase to buy, bringing them back to the store, maybe even within minutes after making you know, pressing that pay now button, if not hours, days, and possibly weeks. But when is that an opportunity? What’s the golden, you know, timeframe when you can retarget them, whether it’s email or using some automation within your WooCommerce store using a plugin? Ask them for a review. You know, there are lots of little ideas that I want to give the audience to take with them. So that’s sort of the 10 parts that are sort of identifying. So yeah. That’s pretty much it in a very short nutshell.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And you know, like I said, we go more in-depth in our episode, but things have been updated. Let’s say you gave this talk to a room full of WordCampers, they just heard you wrap up, what’s the one or two things you hope that they take away? Maybe, the next action they take because of the talk you gave?
Ronald Gijsel: I think it’s designing to the Google Analytics. And sometimes even just to activate it. Most businesses will have enabled analytics, Google Analytics in a website or a web store, but not done anything with it. And then for them just to click around and trying to understand what it means and how you can relate that to, you know, the activity that you’ve been doing, I think that that’s a really big thing. Because that’s the first bit of insight into your business that can really help you to improve what you’re doing.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. I think that’s super important. Right. And cause we don’t need to necessarily do things in a vacuum anymore, right? Like when the web first started, it was like, you put your website up, you don’t really know who is coming to it. You know, know what they’re doing. But now we have these tools that allow us to do things like, you know, A, B test or, you know, see where we’re losing the customer, what is really resonating with them. And so I think that’s a great takeaway. Log into Google analytics. I know that you have more resources on, or more advice where you know how to really take advantage of that. So again, that’ll be In the show notes. But, if people have heard what you said and they’re like, “Yeah. I need to improve my WooCommerce store. Of course, I do.” Where can they learn more about you and this topic?
Ronald Gijsel: I think the easiest way is to find me on Twitter and just open up a line of say, “Hey. Great idea. How can I find out more?” So, @Just2Ronald. Ronald is my Twitter handle. I also do run a weekly WooCommerce meetup, London, virtual. We have people joining us (Inaudible 11:03.10] world now. And I shared a lot of information during that session. So that’s a great easy game. And of course, you know, I’m always there to reach you by email, Twitter, whatever there you can find me.
Joe Casabona: Fantastic. And for the London meetup, now you’re a GMT, is that right? Like that’s, what’s the time zone for London?
Ronald Gijsel: Yeah. Well, there’s actually a BSD of British Summer time. It’s a computer against me. But yeah. It’s every Wednesday, at one o’clock. So it’s an hour of work. It’s a lunchtime thing. And the good thing is, if you work at normal 9-5 PM after that session, you’ve passed the halfway mark of two weeks. So it’s a nice, nice break in your week.
Joe Casabona: Absolutely. And that was one of the reasons I asked, right? Because 1:00 PM is a 1:00 PM your time would be about 6 PM my time, depending on the time of year. I know as this comes out, like daylight savings time is happening. So that’s like, you know, it’s not like I have, if I wanted to attend, I wouldn’t have to like stay up until midnight or something like that.
So that’s cool. So definitely check that out. As I said, I’ll link all of those resources in the show notes over at both [howibuilt.it] and [wpreview.io]. Ronald, thanks so much for joining me today, and telling us a little bit about your talk. I really appreciate it.
Ronald Gijsel: Really a pleasure. Thanks very much for having me.
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Joe Casabona: Okay. I am here with Robert Jacobi. His talk title for WordCamp US 2020 was ‘Zap Into Automating Content. I love the idea of this because I am a big fan of Zapier and automation in general. So I’m excited to get into the main themes and takeaways for this talk. Robert, how are you?
Robert Jacobi: Excellent. Thanks so much, Joe.
Joe Casabona: Awesome. Awesome. Thank you for joining me and for telling us a little bit about your WordCamp US 2020 talk. I’m excited because now I get to learn about some of these talks that didn’t happen. And I hope the listeners are enjoying this series as well. So before we get into your actual talk, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are, and what you do.
Robert Jacobi: Sure. Thanks so much, Joe. I am a solution ambassador of day-to-day, which is a sort of a unique position I carved out for myself. I’ve run an agency for 20 years. Former president of Joomla, the second-largest source content management system in the world, still. You have Shopify, who’s taken over sort of the second-largest overall lead but, on the open-source side, it’s still as Joomla. And I’m a big believer in open source. I’ve been using it for almost 20 years and have come into the WordPress community, over the last, what? three, four years. And It’s just a great space and there’s so many activities, so much stuff. I hate using that word. I always yell at my daughter for using the stuff. But so much stuff is going on in the ecosystem, whether you’re on the hosting side, the SAAS side, and the actual content creation side.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. Absolutely. And that, so that sounds really cool. What is a solution ambassador? You said that you carved out a little bit of a niche for yourself. But is there something like anybody can do or is this like…?
Robert Jacobi: Sure. I guess anyone could do it. Over the last two decades I know a lot of businesses in the SAAS hosting agency and actual development space. And what I’ve looked to carve out is the ability, you know, with those connections, with that experience to connect the right people with each other. So there’s general open source evangelism, evangelism for specific companies and, you know, keeping people up to date with what’s going on in e-commerce. So that obviously includes WooCommerce, WordPress, agencies, and open source via my blog.
Joe Casabona: Gotcha. Very cool. And we will, of course, link to your blog and other resources in the show notes for this episode over at both [howibuilt.it]t and [wpreview.io]. If you’re interested in just this series. So let’s get into your talk. Can you tell us a little bit about your talk and why you decided to submit it to WordCamp US 2020?
Robert Jacobi: So it was really an accident of this year. I normally talk about how businesses can improve themselves with partnerships, business alliances, using SAAS tools, you know, monthly recurring revenue. All that sort of professional side of the universe. But I found myself having to generate content on a very quick basis. And a lot of it I realized could be automated. And it was driving me nuts where I was spending, you know, hours and hours putting together, you know, from, you know, soup to nuts, you know, looking for content, adding content in, you know, commenting on content and deploying that content out.
And you know, I was like, “Okay, you know, I’ve been a coder and developer many moons ago.” And I was like, there’s gotta be a way to get this stuff done. That’s reasonable and sane. And it, you know, really just works. And so that was sort of the initial journey into, you know, getting into more of an automated space.
So I, you know, I’m not trying to bury the lead. But a lot of it was really just, you know, how do I get stuff done more efficiently and more productively. And, you know, do the rest of the stuff they have to do throughout the day. And part of…Go ahead, Joe.
Joe Casabona: I was going to say, you know, I think that this is great. Cause I feel like automation is overlooked by a lot of people, and there are some simple things that you can do with automation. But I interrupted you. Please continue your thoughts.
Robert Jacobi: So I’m like, okay, I, you know, I have my phone. I have my desktop. I have an iPad. I’m like, “There’s a lot of technology here. And you know, how do we start taking advantage of it?” And you know, it was probably just one week and I was like, “Oh. You know what? I forgot I had that free Zapier account. And, you know, I should take a look at what else it can do. And, you know, playing with it, fiddling with it, you know, kind of goofing around, like there was some great WordPress connectivity to this. And I can create multiple types of, you know, Zapier workflows, Zaps as they call them to help facilitate, you know, building out, you know, that content calendar that everyone’s, you know, if you’re really focused on the content space, you know, getting that together. and not just like throwing it into a buffer or one of those tools. But really, you know, building out something much more meaningful that can be repurposed in multiple different ways.
Joe Casabona: Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. And you’re absolutely right about, you know, WordPress has so many because like plugins can add the Zapier web hooks. And honestly, like, I don’t want to take money out of the pockets of plugin developers. But if they, you know, if I’m looking at like a pro bundle or just like the Zapier add-on like the Zapier add-on does a lot of, you know, we’ll do basically everything I would otherwise need to do.
Robert Jacobi: Yeah. Especially when you’re connecting up to like social media, it gets sick (for lack of a better term) just sickeningly easy to do some really cool stuff. And, you know, I know we’re not sharing videos and all that kind of fun stuff, but, you know, I do almost daily launch of content that I call ‘Morning Coffee]. And a lot of that content, a hundred percent of that content is generated through a Zapier workflow. And it starts getting kind of crazy as I describe it because it’s connecting up to multiple tools that we’re all using all the time. And that was the beautiful part. I was like, “Well, okay. So I have Zapier”, but then, you know, I already have all this other stuff. I already have Google docs. I already have my WordPress site. I already have, you know, multiple different, you know, ways of connecting stuff. So I started just at the core, creating a Google sheet where I could just send content to. And what’s cool is that, you know, I’m going to insult all the Android and Windows folk, but on Apple, it’s really, really easy to build out an iA shortcut that sends a website.
And so with Zapier, I was able to create a, you know, an email address where I could just email whatever, you know, oh, Joe show was great this week. Just let me hit the send email and I could send it to a private Zapier account and it would pull out the title of the webpage. It would pull out the URL. You could grab all this content just from spending literally one second, clicking an iA short, and having that sent to Zapier. And then Zapier, of course, will do the beautiful work of sending it to a Google sheet. But in the middle of that, I can parse all the accounts and content out so I can create tons and tons of different columns for everything that’s going on and then create lookup tables. So if it’s coming from XYZ domain name, I already know that that’s going to be a specific Twitter handle, a specific Facebook name, and a specific LinkedIn profile. So I can actually, you know, as I build those lookup tables out, you know, manually at first, those become automatically populated. So I can go in and just pull out that domain name and then there’s a whole bunch of other cell or rows, columns, had a think about the way a sheet looks like, oh, you know, all these other columns that would be like, okay, mentioned, you know, this, you know, handle when you’re doing it in Twitter or this name and Facebook or this profile, yada yada, yada, pull out the title. And in that workflow, this is the best part, it emails me the entire content of what was just, you know, jumping at the start. When I start to publish, I can pick a day for everything to get dated. So I can say, you know, grab everything I need for, you know, a certain day and send that email to another Zap. That’ll send me an email back that says, this is all the content that’s going to be published. Oh. And at that point I can literally jump into my WordPress site and see in draft mode the entire set of content that I want to be published, you can do with it.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. It’s absolutely fantastic. So, hopefully, that description has convinced people that they should try automation. We’re at the 10-minute mark now, so I do want to ask you, what do you hope would be the one or two big takeaways from your WordCamp talk? People just sat through it. They heard you give the whole thing. What do you hope they do next?
Robert Jacobi: The biggest takeaway is to take one aspect of whatever your workflow is. And you know, spend, you know, that one day building it out and Zapier. It will save you weeks on end of labor throughout the year. So the simplest thing that you sit there and spend 10 minutes a day on, can be completely automated. And you’ve given yourself so much more time and less headache and worry. It’s just done.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And again, I can vouch for that. I build my newsletter in a similar way. You know, sharing on social media is a big one.
So that’s, that’s really fantastic. Robert, thank you so much for joining me. If people want to learn more about how you’re automating or maybe they want to get some of that ‘Morning Coffee’, where can people find you?
Robert Jacobi: They can find me easily at robertjacobi.com.
Joe Casabona: Fantastic. I will be sure to link that and multiple resources that we talked about over in the show notes. Robert, thanks so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.
Robert Jacobi: Thanks so much, Joe. Really appreciate it.
Joe Casabona: All right. And the third speaker on the user track is me. And I’m doing this because I really hoped that somebody would apply and talk about this. And honestly, Yulash Brooke is going to be talking in general about this in a few weeks. But that’s part of a greater conversation. And so I gave this talk last year, or…Oh, let me say I was supposed to give this talk last year at WordCamp US about contributing to WordPress by giving a rock-solid talk. And I picked that because I think a lot of people believe that the best and only way to contribute to WordPress is by coding. Right. But you don’t have to code. And so this talk it’s available on YouTube. I’ll link it, but I want to highlight here just some of the things I talked about.
So, you know, there’s a lot of people that work behind the scenes contributing to WordPress. All of the WordCamp and WordPress meetup organizers, for example, our contributors, the designers, and the polyglots. And that anybody who talks, speaks at a WordCamp, that’s really the centerpiece of my talk because you can contribute by basically sharing what you know. And in that talk, I give a few tips on how to give a good talk.
So, the overview is basically if you go to [make.wordpress.org], you can find lots of ways to contribute that are not just coding. You know, again, you can speak at a WordCamp, you can design, you can be part of the accessibility team or the mobile team, you can do documentation. Good documentation is so important. And having contributors help with that makes the WordPress community better. You can test themes and plugins. You can be on the TV team which reviews and approves every video submitted. So, or you can be on the CLI team, which is that ‘developery’ though. So, you know, it’s important to think about that. I did mention the CLI team, but that’s kind of ‘developery’. It’s not coding for core though. The core team is a different team. Or you can be on the marketing team, which I think is interesting. So there are lots of ways to contribute to WordPress. I like talking the best if that’s not obvious. And so my talk basically covers how you can contribute, why you might want to contribute, and then how to give a good talk. Again, I’ll link that in the show notes for this episode. But, I did want to point that out. And so with that, that’s the end of the user track.
I hope you liked it. There were some great tips. There were some great tips from Ron Gijsel, about what you can do for your WooCommerce shop, and even more. I think that’s even more timely now because lots of businesses are moving online, or if they haven’t moved online already. And for those that have moved online, there are optimizations that can be made to improve your sales and things like that. So, I think that Ron’s talk is great. And you can actually, there is a longer How I Built It Episode, where he talks about all of that stuff. So, that was great.
And then, Rob Jacobi, Robert Jacobi talks about Zap into automating content. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without automation and without Zapier in particular. There are a lot of things that I did manually that I now do with Zapier. So we get out a bit about that obviously. We’re at the end of the episode So you heard that conversation. But, really great stuff. And then how you can contribute to WordPress. That’s a talk that I was supposed to give last year that I didn’t get to give because my flight was delayed.
So that was it for this episode of WordPress Year in Review, or maybe this is a series. This is the first episode. So I’m feeling my way around if this should be its own feed along with a sub feed of How I Built It. But either way, you can find everything we talked about over at [wpreview.io].
I want to thank GoDaddy Pro and Nexcess for their support by becoming sponsors of the entire project. And I want to thank the community members who contributed their hard-earned money to crowdfund the last third. So essentially I had two sponsors, and I wanted to make a certain amount of money. And the community came through and funded the project at a level that allows me to dedicate a certain amount of time to it. So thank you to everybody who has financially backed WordPress in your interview. I really, really appreciate it.
Next time, we’re going to have the business track. So we’ll be hearing from Laura Byrne-Cristiano,, Patrick Rauland, and Chris Ford, all about different ways that you can improve your WordPress business or your business in general. Specifically in a global pandemic. So stay tuned for that.
Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.