On this week’s episode, Brian and Lauren discuss their favorite moments and guests that have appeared on the show during Season One of StudioPress FM.
In this 25-minute episode Brian Gardner and Lauren Mancke discuss:
- Their favorite episodes of Season One
- The most downloaded shows
- Most memorable guests and topics
- What they’re looking forward to in Season Two
Listen to StudioPress FM below ...
The Show Notes
The Season One Recap of StudioPress FM
Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.
StudioPress FM is designed to help creative entrepreneurs build the foundation of a powerful digital business. Tune in weekly as StudioPress founder Brian Gardner and VP of StudioPress Lauren Mancke share their expertise on web design, strategy, and building an online platform.
Lauren Mancke: On this week’s episode, Brian and I discuss our favorite moments of Season One of StudioPress FM.
Brian Gardner: Hey, everyone. Welcome to StudioPress FM. I am your host, Brian Gardner, founder of StudioPress. Today, on this very last season episode for Season One, I am joined, as usual, with Lauren Mancke, vice president of StudioPress, mom of one, soon to be three. Looking forward to just wrapping up Season One.
Lauren Mancke: Yeah. Thank you for joining us again this week. We’re closing out Season One and we will be doing this week a little different. We have no guests. It’s just Brian and I talking about some of our favorite moments on the podcast so far.
Brian Gardner: Typically we like to go somewhat scripted, where we prepare questions for those that we’re talking to, but Lauren and I, this morning, we’re going to just completely wing it. We have just some general idea of what we want to talk about for this closing episode. It won’t be long. It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 episodes already. I know that for you it might feel a little bit longer because you started editing the first handful of them or first half of them and then we turned that over because you have more important things to be doing, but can you believe, 16 already?
Lauren Mancke: No. It’s really flown by.
Brian Gardner: I remember when I did No Sidebar, it seemed like it took just forever to edit the shows. I wasn’t structured when I set it up and it felt like it was hard to find ideas and guests and things like that. I’m almost forcing us to close the season down because we have a lot of stuff we have to do before the end of the year, but I don’t want to, because I’ve been having so much fun. It’s been great talking to the members of the community. When I sit down and try to think of who do we want to talk to next or what series we want to have, I’m loaded with all of this, these ideas, these people. There are so many people. I want to do two episodes a week, which of course isn’t realistic. There’s just so many people to talk to and so many topics to cover. For me, it’s been fun so far.
Lauren Mancke: Yeah. We’ve already got some great people lined up for next season, so it’ll be good to take a little bit of time off and get that all organized and lined up for next January.
Brian Gardner: I almost feel like we have a legit show here, where we actually follow a format and we have a good audience. We get at least a few thousand listens on every show, if not more. I don’t know. I feel really good about what we’ve done. It’s our first full-time gig together, doing the podcast thing. What do you think so far? Have you felt like this has been a successful journey?
Lauren Mancke: Yeah. I’ve really been happy with who we’ve gotten a chance to talk to and hearing everyone’s story. It’s really cool how so many people have that same sort of, they were doing something else and they found WordPress and then they built this whole thing. It’s great to hear everyone’s different take on that journey.
Brian Gardner: The good thing about WordPress and the cool fascinating thing I find is that even though we have generally that same story, we all come from just much different backgrounds. We also are in the middle of just different types of expertise, where some people come in as designers, some people come in as marketers, some people come in with a technical or programming background. You’ve got a designer who was sitting at a bored day job and then you’ve got like a technical guy who was working for the man and wanted to do his own thing. There are so many different levels of skillset and just expertise that’s being represented within the WordPress space. It’s fun to watch just how many people from how many different avenues of life are coming together in this whole open source project.
Lauren Mancke: For sure. So many different types of personalities, too. It’s not just the same type of person. You’d think all these WordPress people would be maybe slightly nerdy or whatever, but it’s not true at all. It’s so many different types of people, and they’re all really cool.
Brian Gardner: Yeah. Even within the short spurt we did here at the end with the designers, even the designers that we talked to like Bill Kenney at Focus Lab and Jason Schullermega and Megan Gray, even within just one segment of that audience, you’ve got people with different personalities and flavors. Bill works and owns a creative agency and Megan’s by herself and Jason’s doing a startup. Yes, there’s a lot of resonating stories, but even within a certain sub-niche of the WordPress designer ecosystem, there’s just so many types of different people represented. That wasn’t boring because everyone brought something unique to the conversation. Hopefully, designers and people who don’t design and do other things even were able to pick up something from that as well.
Lauren Mancke: In WordPress, I think, when you mentioned the guests specifically, it makes me remember all the different things that make each one of those people unique. You got Bill, who is very, very good at being efficient and I love that about him. He has so many ways of doing that and that’s his focus. He can tell other people about that. Then you got Jason, who is; he’s just a family guy. That’s his passion and you can see that with everything he does and everything he talks about. Those are just fun and unique things that everyone who works on WordPress, they can be their own person and tailor their job and their company around those skillsets that they have.
The Most Downloaded Shows
Brian Gardner: You know one of the things I think for me that I found for me interesting as a metrics guy and somebody who looks into that kind of thing? There were certain episodes that I thought would have been more popular than others and vice versa. When I would go in and see the analytics and the number of downloads and so on for each one, there were a few that surprised me where I was like, “Okay, this one’s probably not going to do as well, maybe because of the audience. It isn’t such a widespread thing or an ‘interesting topic.'” Then those were the ones that got the most distribution and those that were shared the most. It’s funny how you can draw up a game plan. Nine times out of 10, things go the way you want, but then once in a while you get that one where I’m like, “Wow. That was the one I almost didn’t even suggest doing and it was the one that was in the top three or whatnot of most listened to shows.” That just goes to show, you never know.
Lauren Mancke: What were some of the more popular shows that we had this season?
Brian Gardner: You’re going to make me look that up, so I’m going to make you talk while I go look that up.
Lauren Mancke: You know, we can edit this, so we can break for a second.
Brian Gardner: I know. All right, so I was able to pull up the analytics. Sadly enough, three of the bottom four episodes were the first three, which were my story, your story, and the redesign of StudioPress. I don’t know if that’s an indicator of the fact that it was new, and not as many ears were on the show, or if people were just don’t find that interesting.
Lauren Mancke: Yeah. Let’s go with the first.
Brian Gardner: I’m going to go with that one. Top to bottom, I’m just going to spitball these out here quickly. A Beginner’s Guide to SEO That Works is the number one show. We did that with Rebecca Gill at Web Savvy. I had a feeling that that one … SEO is a topic that a lot of people want to talk about.
Lauren Mancke: I thought that was a very informative episode. Lots of good nuggets on that one.
Brian Gardner: Yeah. I actually took the show notes to that and the transcript, and wrote up my own little iteration of that. I think I talked about this back then, that I was going to try that a couple of times with these and try to use that from a curation standpoint, a re-purposing content, and so I pulled some of the best things that Rebecca had to say and wrote a blog post about that, and tried to rank for, I think it was a Beginner’s Guide to SEO or something like that. I think last time I checked, that was on page three of Google, so it kind of sort of working. Yeah, there was definitely a lot of stuff that came out of that that was good.
Number two, and this does not surprise me just because I know that Matt and some of the folks at Automattic were helping with the distribution of this, and that was the show we did, How and Why It’s Okay to Make Money with WordPress, which of course we just talked about just all of the different types of people within WordPress, so that makes sense because that would appeal to everybody.
The next one was How to Scale a Freelance Business. That, I believe, was the one that we did with Bill Erickson. Then How to Build an Online Education Business, now this is the one I was referring to earlier that I didn’t think was going to strike a chord as much, just because it seemed a little bit more of kind of a sliver segment specific to doing an online education because that’s not what we’re all in the deal here for.
We did that with Tonya Mork. That was a good one. Great information. She’s got a ton of knowledge. She’s worked 20, 30 years in her field, so she has a ton of expertise that she brings to the table, so that was one a little bit surprising.
The How to Sustain a Profitable Creative Agency came next. The Importance of Entrepreneurial Mental Health with Cory Miller. That was probably my favorite episode that we recorded just because it kind of dove a little bit more into just the personal touchy-feely stuff, which I’m a huge fan of. Again, a lot of these were within 1% to 2% of downloads, so it’s not like certain episodes crushed other episodes, but that’s a quick recap. Then of course you and I, and our whole stories, are down there at the bottom, pulling up the caboose.
Lauren Mancke: Nobody cares about us. I’m just kidding.
Brian Gardner: Which is why we have guests on the show.
Lauren Mancke: Yes, exactly.
Brian Gardner: Because they’re the ones people will want to listen to.
Their Favorite Episodes of Season One
Lauren Mancke: I think the Cory Miller episode was very good as far as the content. I think all three of us were tearing up on that one.
Brian Gardner: Yeah. I wish I would have seen Cory’s talk at WordCamp Denver just because, and I’m sure it’s on WordPress.tv, but that is something that I think without a doubt every single person who listens to the show struggles with in some regard. Some better than others. I’ve had my seasons of even within the last six years, after we merged the company, of really struggling, especially early on. This was before we brought in the mid-level management and brought in people like you, who came in and really helped do a lot of the stuff that I do.
I remember, I think it was within the first year, we came together as partners in Boulder. I had a meltdown and I was like, “Look, guys, I’m just completely fried.” I remember Brian Clark said to me … He says, “Just take the next month and a half off. Do nothing.” I was like, “What?” Like, “No, I’m a creative. I can’t do nothing.” It’s one of those things where it creeps in and life gets in the way and clients get in the way. Hard work and stuff like that do pay off, but the whole entrepreneurial mental health thing is something that I think far too many people don’t discuss or don’t have an …
It doesn’t even have to be talked about across the internet via a podcast. You got to have a couple of people in your life who even if it’s a Skype call … I know Cory a lot of times has tweeted things out saying, “Hey, I just got a message from a friend and it meant the world.” Just things off radar, offline. Just check in with the people, whether they are people who you work for, who work for you, or people like Jason, who are just peers within the community. That stuff matters, so I’m glad we had a chance to talk about that.
Lauren Mancke: Yeah. I think when you’re working on the internet, it’s easy to get lost in that. You’re connected to everyone, but you’re also connected to no one if you’re just in your own little bubble and you’re not really able to sit down and talk with people face to face or, like you said, even on a Skype chat or something like that, so it’s an important issue.
Brian Gardner: All right, so let’s talk about some of the other episodes. I’m just going to look down and just see. I know we talked, as I mentioned earlier, Brian and Jennifer, husband and wife team. They own their own agency and we talked a lot about … You weren’t on that episode because I think you had mom duty that day, but that was a good episode because it talked about work and family balance, which is in a way relevant to the mental health thing, where as creatives and those who do stuff online, we have access to the internet 24/7, and so it is difficult at times to balance work and home life.
I struggle with it sometimes. There are times where I literally have to just shut my laptop and tell Shelly, “Do not let me open this because I need to go play catch with Zach because that’s important, because I don’t want him growing up thinking the computer is more important than him and so on.” For you even, you’re a mom and have two more on the way, and all of that. I mean, what’s that going to look like for you next year?
Lauren Mancke: Well, I thought that episode would have been good for me to be on because I ran a creative agency with my husband, so I know a little bit about that. I even notice my son isn’t even two and a half yet and he’s already … He’ll come in and sit at my desk and say, “I’m working. I got to get on a conference call.” He picks up. He puts on the headphones and he pretends that he’s on a conference call. I’m like, “I don’t know that I want that to be my legacy with my son.” So spending more time with family is definitely a priority.
Brian Gardner: Yeah. Going back to Jason and the episode that we had with Tim, that was the one thing, over the last few years, of things that I see online that I get envious about, is the ability that some people have to do that and make that so important. By all means, I don’t shun my family. Shelly is at home all day long, so we get to talk to each other. I’m home at 3:00 o’clock when Zach comes home, so we do have our time together, but Jason, of anybody I’ve ever seen online, puts more importance on his family, his wife, especially his daughter. I can’t imagine the bond that they’re going to have throughout their life because of how much importance he placed on the balance of work versus time with them.
It’s fun and sometimes, like I said, I get envious of the fact that people are able to do that, maybe not so much as I wish I could, but yeah, it’s important too to balance that out because relationships, marriages, mother-daughters, father-sons, those types of things, in my eyes, big picture, matter way more than what we do for our jobs. Anyway, that’s the kind of thing that I think just everybody needs to hear, that it is important to balance work and life.
All right, so another one of my favorite episodes was when we had Shay Bocks on and talked about food blogging. That also is something that I thought would have been a little bit more less heard because of the fact that it was very niche-specific.
I think it resonated with a lot of people because people took things that she said out of the food blogging discussion we were having and those are the things that could have been easily applied to any other niches. So I think even thought it was a food blogging episode, a lot of the stuff that Shay talked about, things that we discussed, could have certainly been used across the sphere. Food blogging to me is interesting because it’s one of the … It sort of came out after real estate, which is sort of not really been that big a thing anymore, but the food blogging industry has exploded.
You know, Will, your husband likes to cook and you like to take photography and you’ve done a couple of food-oriented themes on StudioPress. I can’t believe how popular that still is and how many people still … Foodie has regained number one status on theme sales on StudioPress. With the exception of two, maybe three months over the last almost two and a half years now, it’s been number one every single month. Shay and I talk probably at least once a month just about stuff in general and she’s always like, “I’m waiting for the ship to sink.” I’m like, “Don’t.” I’m like, “Embrace the fact that …”
Shay has done something of a big lesson for all of us. If you do something that works, instead of trying to replicate that somewhere else, really hone in on that. She’s really crafted her business around the idea of food blogging and she re-branded her company, called Feast Design Company. How more relevant of a brand name than to work within the niche? That is also something I think has been fascinating for me to see, is people within our community really identify where they belong and then really attack at that point.
Lauren Mancke: Shay is also just a great person. It’s really great to see her succeed and all of her success. She’s just a wonderful, wonderful human being. I think too, also, food blogging, people … We’ve talked about focus on family. I mean, that’s a trend. People are spending more time, I think, focused on their family and eating and community and all of that, so I don’t see food blogging going anywhere any time soon.
Brian Gardner: Yeah. People always eat. There’s always going to be the internet and the will to make money. For people, not so much Shay, but the people who use Shay’s themes per se, that’s the dream, right? Living the dream, we talked about that with Jason, is to take your passion, something … In this case it’s something that you do at home, so you could literally be hanging out with your kids and working at the same time, and even having them help.
I recently redesigned a website called Simple as That Blog with Rebecca Cooper. She’s got to a really, really big website. She’s got four kids and she’s a great photographer. She does a lot of her DIY craft and recipe type of things with her kids. She uses them as props. They get dressed up and they do things. For her, it’s a really creative way to do that work-family balance thing because she includes her kids with her work, and so therefore there’s no … I don’t know. Just disconnect between the two, and so I think food blogging is just another example of where that can be done.
All right, so the episode that I actually wasn’t sure we would be able to do, mainly because I know Matt sometimes is a little bit slow on email as he should be … I’m sure he gets thousands of emails a day and from probably people way more important than me. I reached out to Matt Mullenweg to talk about WordPress and making money. He wrote back within like a day or two. I was very surprised and very pleased that he was very open to talking to us about that. It was a great episode. We talked almost an hour, I think, on that one, and probably could have kept going. The premise of that show was very obviously how to make and that it’s okay to make money with WordPress open source community. We did a couple of episodes on that. Also I remember we did one with Carrie Dils.
With Matt, we talked about just the WordPress ecosystem and different ways that we can make money with WordPress, that it’s okay to make money with WordPress, and the fact that he even endorses the fact that it’s okay to make money with WordPress because I think at this point, the community as a whole has identified that WordPress is a business in a sense. Even though there’s a free version of it, even though it’s an open source piece of software, there’s a full blown ecosystem, as we talked at the beginning of the show, just all the different ways that people use WordPress and can offer WordPress as a business, either as a service or like what we do with commoditized type things with selling themes and plug-ins and so on.
It was fun to talk to the guy, right? The guy who founded all of it. I was a little bit star struck, as I always am every time I talk to him. It’s a little bit difficult to … I don’t know. Feel like we were pulling our weight in that conversation, but what did you think about that show?
Lauren Mancke: Oh, we’re totally BFFs now, so it’s all good.
Brian Gardner: You guys on HipChat or Slack together? You just ping each other with ideas and whatnot. I like to think of Matt as like the mini Richard Branson because he’s always … At this point in his life, he’s probably got tons of money and he’s out travelling around. He’s out in Bali or in Antarctica. I forget that he’s probably 30-something now or late 20s or whatever, but to me he’s always going to be a kid. I don’t know. The whole thing is a great story. Just imagine how many people, their lives have been changed by what he’s done. Mine, yours, everybody who listens to the show, everyone in our company. It’s kind of crazy if you think about that.
Lauren Mancke: Yeah. I think he’s around my age, but yeah, he’s definitely prolific and I too am a little envious of his schedule. He gets to go everywhere and do all sorts of fun, cool things.
Brian Gardner: Again, I think that goes back to the point of, if you have some crazy idea, sometimes you just need to execute it. Like, what if he never decided to fork b2 back in the day. We all have that question in our life. What if I never left my job or what if I never asked people if they would buy a WordPress theme or any of that stuff? I think the moral of the story here is that sometimes you do need to take that risk and just do that thing, as George Costanza did in Seinfeld back in the day. Do the opposite, right? Because if what you’re doing isn’t working, maybe the opposite will. That was a great episode, by the way.
Lauren Mancke: I always get tuna on toast.
Brian Gardner: Ah, there you go. Seinfeld, one of the best shows ever, if not the best show ever.
What They’re Looking Forward to in Season Two
Brian Gardner: All right, so moving forward, we are going to take break here. We ran that through our guy in charge of the podcast network and said, “Hey, we’ve got a lot of things we’re working on.” We will not be discussing any of those here on the show because they’re just fun, internal projects that will make a big splash and a big difference next year to everyone listening to the show. What are the types of things you want to do as we probably open back up in January of next year, after the holidays? Who are the types of people we want to have? Anything specific you want to see happen?
Lauren Mancke: Well, I know we have Dan from Dribbble lined up, Dan Cederholm. I’m excited about that one. He actually came up to the Northbound office a few years ago when ConvergeSE was going on. That’s a conference in Columbia, where I live. It was great to meet him and Rich, and spend time with him. It’ll be fun to have him on the show.
Brian Gardner: Now one of the things I want to do and throw out there is, we would love to hear from you guys, those who are listening to the show. At the bottom of the show notes, we’re going to put mine and Lauren’s Twitter handle. If you have any ideas or suggestions or people, if you want to nominate people, we are definitely open to hearing from the community. I know you and I are both creatives and designers, and so we err a little bit more on the side of that, in terms of show. I do want to make sure that we don’t forget our nerdy friends who are developers and programmers, and bring those types of people in as well, and talk to them because I’m sure they have a ton of wisdom to share with our audience.
I’m trying to think of who else I would want to have on the show. I know that we have a little Google doc where we keep track. I want to get outside a little bit of just the general WordPress space and just find some really big entrepreneur type people who happen to use WordPress, but it’s not their business. I know people like Paul Jarvis is a guy that I want to bring on the show, possibly Jeff Goins. From my perspective, those are a few of the people that I plan to hit up. Maybe we’ll see if we can get a guy like Chris Brogan on just to talk some sense into us all and whatnot. We’ll have to think about that over the coming weeks, who else we want to have on the show.
Lauren Mancke: Yeah. We’d love to hear from the audience, of suggestions. That’s a great idea, Brian.
Brian Gardner: Hit us up on Twitter, @laurenmancke or @bgardner. We’ll put the link in the show notes. Even if you don’t even have a suggestion for the show and just want to say, “Hi. Thanks for putting together the podcast,” we would love to hear some of that feedback as well, good or bad. Let us know. We will wrap the show up. This is our 17th episode, I believe, which still amazes me. Sorry for those who really like the show and want to hear next week. We won’t be here because that will be Thanksgiving week. Actually, you know what? This will air the day before Thanksgiving.
Nonetheless, people will be out shopping. No one wants to listen to us anyway. December is really a time for that family and stuff that we talked about. We will be back in January of 2017 with Season Two of StudioPress FM. On behalf of Lauren and I and all of us within our company who touch the StudioPress brand, we thank you very much for your support as customers, as listeners and those who spread the gospel of StudioPress. Thank you very much and we will talk to you next year.