Episode 74 | MicroConf, WP Engine, AuditShark & HitTail
- WP Engine
- Rob’s Mixergy Interview
- Rob’s Blogcast FM Interview
- HitTail (Keyword Tool)
- Micropreneur Academy
[00:00] Rob: This is startups for the rest of us episode 74.
[00:11] Rob: Welcome to startups for the rest of us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
[00:20] Mike: And I just finished eating Tacos.
[00:23] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What is the word this week sir?
[00:29] Mike: Tacos.
[00:30] Rob: I can tell did you make them at home or did you go out?
[00:32] Mike: No my wife made them.
[00:33] Rob: Good. When you’re in Massachusetts that’s the best way to go. I’m a bit of a Tacos numb I think, being from the West Coast to the South West it’s just a whole different ball game. So hey following up with our episode last week about how to deal with a service outage you and I talked quite a bit on air about some minor issues that the academy has been having over the past month. And we finished the move to a WordPress engine. I’m so stoked about that, first of all the academy is like five times faster.
[01:00] Mike: Yeah it seems a lot faster. The speed checks to just the HTML pages are I think four times faster.
[01:07] Rob: It’s just awesome. So I’m stoked, I mean obviously we’ve only been there less than a week and so downtime is not an issue and hopefully won’t be an issue for a long time. My blog has been on there, I don’t know my blog’s been on a WordPress engine for maybe four or five months and haven’t had any downtime. But it really is that speed thing, they have the CDN built into it, a client was Client Delivery Network. So it actually makes all your assets load faster, they have caching built in there’s just a lots of cool stuff. So I’m in full disclosure I always say this I am a very very minimal investor in WordPress Engine. But so far I’m just impressed the more I move over there the more I think I want to move more sites over there because of how fast and responsive it is.
[01:49] Mike: Yeah it’s definitely noticed, I mean people when we switched over were commenting about how quick the forums were and it seems t o me like there’s been a lot more activity in the forums as well. And I think it’s related to the speed to be perfectly honest because people just didn’t want to wait before and I can’t say I blame them.
[02:04] Rob: I agree. Even if it’s subconscious like I’ve been responding more to the forums right and like I should have been responding the whole time but, it actually has drawn me back in because stuff loads so quickly it’s like an easier process. That’s it, if someone was in the academy before and they quit because it was slow definitely give us a shot again. In terms of the iTunes competition with TechZing looks like both us got a pretty big bump. I don’t know if iTunes is like re index or something but we went from, we were around 124 last time we checked and as of today we are at 147 iTunes reviews most of them are five stars which is cool. And then TechZing is at 92 and I think they were somewhere in the 80s the last time we checked.
[02:46] So still a good friendly competition, we’ve now surpassed I mean our original goal was I think 125, my original goal if you like. But it’s great I mean we have six more weeks to MicroConf. We’re still trailing, there is no competition but The Lifestyle business podcast I think is 200 and something, they’re in the low twos. Those guys are really kicking butt.
[03:08] Mike: Yeah. And I haven’t checked to see if their numbers are based on just their US subscribers or worldwide.
[03:15] Rob: Yeah. I’m not sure, I think they’d mentioned that they were using the same script we had. So I think it was international as well.
[03:20] Mike: Got it. Yeah and they would have a much larger international audience I think than we would just because of the things that they do.
[03:26] Rob: Right.
[03:27] Mike: I finally finished all of my taxes this past week. So before I was just working on all the business taxes and stuff and now personal taxes are done and I don’t know about you, those checks are just painful to write.
[03:38] Rob: Seriously it’s just like how can my bank pants drop that much you know. And then I feel like I spent the next two months just trying to generate money to kind of back filling back to where I was before writing those checks.
[03:48] Mike: Yeah. And then the worst part is that because your, I don’t know about you but I have to, I’m going ahead and paying every quarter because of the quarterly taxes and everything.
[03:56] Rob: The estimated.
[03:57] Mike: And then, yeah the estimated and then at the end of the year because the estimated taxes don’t match up with what you actually made or you brought in it’s just, I don’t know it seems like a never ending cycle.
[04:07] Rob: Yeah. You’re right, in April you write not only your yearend taxes for 2011 but then you write your estimated for 2012 for that quarter. Right, that’s what you’re saying. So you actually double up on the checks in April and a substantial amount. I actually had, two years ago, funny story I didn’t have enough money to pay and so I actually sold one of my portfolio pieces one of my websites to pay part of my tax bill. It was such a bummer. Anyways I haven’t even started but I have it on my schedule to look at taxes this weekend. And then I’ll know the pain of how much I actually owe.
[04:44] Mike: I was listening to some of our really old episodes and I think it was like episode seven or eight or something like that where I had mentioned that I put up a website for my wife it was called digital art silhouette .com
[04:54] Rob: I totally remember that yeah.
[04:57] Mike: It came up for renewal and she finally said no, I’m never going to actually do anything with that so just get rid of it.
[05:03] Rob: Right yeah as Dan Anders says their GoDaddy account is the boulevard of broken dreams. That is the best way to describe it, when I log in obviously there is a bunch that I’m excited about and then there is probably 20 or 30 that I’m like, oh good Lord I never had time to build that.
[05:20] Mike: Or what was I thinking?
[05:21] Rob: Yeah, so depressing. I will go through probably every four to six months I’ll go through and just check of bunch of them and you can delete them out of your account and it just releases them back into the wild. And you really got to think about that before you do it because it essentially means someone else can come along and snag it. But I do that just to de-clutter my account. I don’t buy nearly as many domains as I used to. I bet I have only a handful that I haven’t put into play at this point but it’s a kind of an addictive habit to think of something and then jump on and want to buy the domain real quick. It’s only eight bucks.
[05:52] Mike: Well I think the other part of it is that a lot of times when you go out there and I think we’ve talked about this before you search for a domain name and there’s some registrars out there who kind of watch what those queries are and if you don’t get it within like 24 hours they will get it and they will try and sell it back to you. Basically they would put a registrar lock on for 24 hours as if you’re going to register it. And if you didn’t they would take it or keep it or whatever in the hope that you will come back.
[06:19] Rob: That’s like a conspiracy to get you to register domains.
[06:23] Mike: I know, I know. I think it’s no longer allowed by ICAN but…
[06:30] Rob: So I had a couple of interviews go live last week. I was interviewed on Mixergy for the first time. I listened to it it turned out better than it felt. For some reason I was really like stressed during the interview and I’m normally not nervous or anything. But I listened to it it was good I think it conveys kind of my story. Probably it actually talks about businesses that I’ve never talked about anywhere else. I talks about my stream of failed businesses from 99 until about 2004, 2005. Folks are interested in hearing about that we’ll it up in the show notes but I think it’s you know one of the top couple on Mixergy right now.
[07:00] And then the other one is on Blogcast FM and that’s actually more information about growing a blog. I think it’s called like How to Grow A Blog to 20,000 Subscribers or something. It’s less about the startup and more about since Blogcast FM is geared towards bloggers it’s more about that side of things. For folks who are interested they can check them out.
[07:21] Rob: So hey MicroConf, six weeks away.
[07:24] Mike: Yeah that’s a little scary.
[07:25] Rob: I know it is. So good news obviously we’re sold out which is really taken a burden off of us in terms of both the financial risk and just having to put in so much time like we did last year into marketing, constantly trying to sell tickets right up to the end. So that’s been good. But it’s still is crazy, I’d forgotten how much time this takes and I should listen to last year’s episodes but I was just talking to my wife and I said you know I’m not sure again why we do MicroConf. I totally said that last week and she was like, yeah you’re just about on time. I was like I don’t know if I’ll do it again next year because I’m right at the dip where like investing way more time, we’re not getting any payback, not even financially but in terms of like emotional payback or anything.
[08:08] And I’m on the phone with the hotel trying to get the menu, trying to get layout of the space done, getting AV stuff, trying to fill the last speaker and slide, I mean just all the stuff and there is no reward yet you know. And then of course on May 2nd right after the conference is done I’ll totally be like, hell yeah Mike I’m doing it again next year.
[08:25] Mike: Six weeks it’s one of those things where you look at those last six weeks and there is still a lot of work to be done before we can even start to reap those emotional rewards that you mentioned.
[08:35] Rob: Yeah.
[08:36] Mike: So speaking of MicroConf though we do have a couple of new sponsors to announce. One of the sponsors is GetHub, most people are probably familiar with them. And the other one is Wildbit. And Wildbit is going to be sponsoring Monday night and we don’t have a lot of the details worked out yet but they’re essentially going to be sponsoring the evening gathering for Monday night. And if you’ve never heard of Wildbit, they have a couple of different products that they have. One of them is called Beanstalk it’s basically a hosted version control code review and code deployment service that makes it easy for an entire team to collaborate around designs and code in their projects.
[09:08] And then the other one is Postmark and we actually use Postmark to help us send emails from the Micropreneur Academy.
[09:14] Rob: I have like four websites using it now, I love this. This is why, this is actually one of the reasons I love MicroConf. It’s that we can get sponsors that I’m really excited about. Like I’m really passionate about their service and I’m so in love with all the value it gives me.
[09:29] Mike: Right yeah. Postmark is awesome I mean it allows you to see whether or not an email is getting delivered or not. It’s basically for transactional emails. So unlike MailChimp where you’re kind of throwing things over the wall and you’re blasting out an email to an entire list of people Postmark is designed to allow you to singlehandedly see whether individual emails are being sent, you know they’re getting bounced or not etcetera. And it keeps logs of all those things whereas MailChimp or AWeber you don’t get to see all the logs behind each of the emails and whether it got sent or not or whether it got received or not.
[10:02] With Postmark you do and you get to you know see the deliverability ratings of all those different emails and it’s really nice to be able to see that stuff that you can integrate it into you know any of your different WordPress hosting or any of your other applications as well.
[10:16] Rob: Right and MailChimp is more of an end-user thing that you enter an email list then you enter an email and you click send and it sends it to all of them whereas Postmark there is really no UI, you don’t actually enter email text in there. It doesn’t do management at all it’s really just an API that you would call either from your code or from your SMTP server. When I do like my billing receipts, any notifications form HitTail, they go through it you know with the academy and a couple of other apps I have. So yeah it’s definitely increased my deliverability, one of the things I love about it is it shows every email sent. So I got an email if someone is asking you know saying, you never notified me during the trial. And I just grabbed their email address went to my Postmark admin and I searched and I could see all the emails that had been sent to them and I could view all the emails with exactly the text from all of them.
[11:01] So I told them like they must be in your spam filter here is what to look for. And I’ve just, I’ve never had logged emails so I never had that power before. And you know it’s a buck fifty for 1000 emails it’s such a no brainer like I would never go back from doing this. Well that’s cool, that’s exciting.
[11:18] Rob: Alright so this week Mike and I are going to update you on what we’ve been working on. We haven’t had an update podcast for, it’s been maybe a month or two and we’ve been working on a bunch of new stuff.
[11:30] Mike: So I don’t know I feel Iike I’m juggling half a dozen or a dozen different things at the moment and unfortunately it’s one of those situations where none of them is so unimportant that I can just kind of drop it on the floor and come back to it later. I mean all of them are I think pretty important to kind of keep at least moving a little bit. So I’ve got all the stuff dealing with MicroConf. There is all this minutiae that you have to deal with for example you know dealing with sponsors is just one side of it. But there is also things like filing to get insurance for the event, getting workers for the conference. You have to deal with getting the swags straightened out of the giveaways and door prices and things like that.
[12:06] So there is all these little things and lot of it takes manual intervention. It’s not something that you can kind of deal with later because as I said MicroConf is only six weeks away. A lot of it if is just time sensitive and there is a lot of pressure to make sure that these things are done and on time. So that’s kind of interfering with a lot of the other things that I have going on as well. I also have the AuditShark desktop edition that I have been working on which I haven’t really talked too much about that.
[12:32] Basically I built AuditShark as more of a platform for you to pipe data results into. Well of the things that, you know the way that it’s built now is that it all web based and you install this one little piece one your server and it will pipe the results out from your environment into the cloud. Well there is a desktop edition that I’m going to be shipping for kind of a different classification of users and before what I’ve really focused on for the web version is customers who want to run AuditShark internally for their environment. So that if you want to get your audit results on a regular basis you install this in your environment and it will pipe the results into the cloud and you get your reports.
[13:11] With the desktop version, the desktop version is essentially aimed at consultants who do these audits on behalf of other people. So it solves the same basic problem but the usage scenario is completely different and the way it needs to be “deployed” is completely different as well. Because you generally can’t take a web application and put it on somebody’s laptop and have them go into an environment and use it that way. I mean it’s, there’s a lot of little things that need to change in order to make that work. But the data results all get stored in the same place, they all get piped out back to the cloud.
[13:45] Rob: And so is there a particular market that you’re going after with this or was there like an impetus to start building this?
[13:52] Mike: It’s related to the first one because I think when you and I talked a lot about AuditShark before I probably had in my head was to go after the IT auditors and I kind of focused in on them as the target market. But I think I’ve come to realize that’s probably not necessarily the case for the smaller businesses and obviously it was a mistake on my part. I’ve built the web edition essentially with that in mind and I’ve come to realize that I don’t think that that’s going to fly for smaller companies. I think that it works well for the large companies but not necessarily the smaller ones, you know the companies that are under 200 or 300 employees.
[14:28] So those companies tend to have somebody come in like once or twice a year and they’ll run an audit and or they’ll give them a package that they have to run on their systems and then they take the output of that and give it to the auditor. But that auditor is an outside consultant. So they don’t necessarily want the outside consultant running stuff in their environment. They’re more than happy to take that stuff, look at it as long as it’s tax based and then be able to run it in their environment and then give them back the results again. As long as they can look at those results and see what they’re essentially handing over.
[14:58] Rob: And so are you, do you have an outside auditor that you’re working with who has expressed interest in this or who is going to be able to use it?
[15:05] Mike: Two of them.
[15:06] Rob: Okay so they’re your customer zero and customer one. And do they know that you’re building this, have they looked at screenshots or anything, do they know what you’re building?
[15:14] Mike: Yeah. I’ve had extensive conversations.
[15:17] Rob: Awesome. So essentially so you have two “ customers”. I mean they wouldn’t be buying from you directly…
[15:23] Mike: What will happens is the consultant auditor that I’m working with his business is around going in and doing these audits. So what he would do is essentially he would go into a customer and say, I’m going to come in, I’m going to do an audit, here is how much it’s going to cost and I’m going to audit 50 of your machines. Well in order for him to audit 50 machines he has to get the licenses from me that’s going to cost $250. So he will build that into his consulting fee to the company and then I get the $250 because it’s $5 times 50 machines. And then he can go in and do those audits and he can go back and do them as many times as he wants in that 30 day window.
[16:02] And one of the things he will be able to do is he will be able to take the policies that he built inside this desktop edition, essentially build a compiler or standalone executable from it and then the customer can run that in their environment and then hand him back the results assuming that they don’t want him to do it directly. And there are cases where some customers will say yes go ahead and run this from your laptop, other customers will say no, give us the stuff that you want to run, we’ll take a look at it and then we’ll look at the output and then we’ll give you that stuff.
[16:32] So in order to get all that functioning it needs to be done in a different mechanism than the web edition. But as I said before I built the web edition more as a platform and in some ways is a proof of concept but you know it also is a functional product.
[16:47] Rob: Right. So you’re back to development, is that what you’re saying? I mean you’re basically digging into the code and building a desktop viewer is that right?
[16:53] Mike: Yeah it’s kind of a desktop version of it but you know slightly different market, solves the same basic problem and the nice part is with this desktop edition I can actually couple it with the web edition such that if you want to build a policy you can just use this little desktop edition as well. Because one of the issues that I found with the web edition is that when you’re building these policies in the cloud in order to test them it’s a real pain in the neck. It’s just not very feasible to do it that way because there’s not this constant connection between the servers that are in the cloud and the customer environment. Because the customer environment it pulls back into the cloud and says, hey do you have anything for me to do yes or no? And you know it’s a periodic basis, it may be every five minutes or something like that.
[17:33] So if you make a change in the web if you want to try and run that in your environment you can click the button and it’s not going to fire until the machines in your environment reach out to the cloud and pull that test out.
[17:46] Rob: Right. Okay. So I think the question in my mind is how soon, how quickly can you turn this around because obviously if you have two folks you’re talking to the sooner you get something in their hands the better you’re going to show it to them and they’re going to say, well this isn’t quite what we wanted and you’re going to have to make adjustments and stuff. So what’s your time to beta?
[18:01] Mike: Oh I don’t have a time to beta.
[18:04] Rob: No time to beta, oh oh?
[18:06] Mike: No I have a list of 35 things that need to be done in order to kind of, to finish off.
[18:12] Rob: Wow.
[18:14] Mike: Yeah. They’re very specific things. Let’s say I was able to get one done per day I could have it done in seven weeks.
[18:20] Rob: Right. I’m holding you to that. Alright. So you’re back to working on it?
[18:25] Mike: Yup. And again this is more of I guess I would call it an extension of the original products…
[18:31] Rob: To pivot, yeah it’s not even a pivotal right, I think because you still at the same core product you’re putting a different UI on it and you’re looking, you’re going after a different market because you had thought about banks and now you’re more thinking about outside auditors. And if you have these two people who are, these companies who are interested in then you do have beta customers. I wouldn’t, I think pivots are a larger swing and this is really is just a marketing shift is what it feels or a market shift, I don’t know if that’s included as a pivot or not.
[19:00] Mike: I feel like it’s more of a, I probably missed the mark in terms of who would actually pay for it. So like the problem being solved I think is still essentially the same thing but I feel like I missed the mark in terms of who would actually pay for it. Somebody would pay because it’s a problem that needs to be solved it’s just I think I got it wrong when I was going after the IT directors. I really feel like it’s, because they contract with an outside company to come in. That’s what they’re doing, the reason they do it is because they want somebody with that expertise to come in and tell them what they should be looking at and what sort of things that they’re doing wrong.
[19:32] Rob: Yeah and that’s a thing in the diagrams I’ve seen of kind of a lean startup it’s “problem solution fit” is one and then “product market fit” is two and then “scale” is step three. That’s the simplified diagram. And so I mean last time we talked it was ten episodes ago I was saying I don’t even know if you have problem solution fit. But at this point if these guys are saying yes this solves a real problem for us, these consultants are I mean you haven’t built it yet but at least you can get problem solution fit or at least get it in your head even before you build anything. You should do that and it sounds like you are at that point.
[20:06] So as long as you build something that does actually solve their problem that they have then you’ll have stage one done. And then you’re right it sounds like you’ve pivoted on that stage two of finding the market. Well cool thanks for the update man yeah I was, I’m sure listeners were curious but I was also curious of what you’re working on in terms of AuditShark.
[20:25] I’ll pop in here with my HitTail update. I mentioned it briefly last week but essentially when I first acquired it I had lots of the ambitions as you naturally do and when I re launched it I had this goal that six months from re launch I would hit a certain revenue level. And so two months after re launch I was not on track to hitting that level and I realized that I started stressing out pretty hardcore about it. And I started staying up late and working until 2:00 am, you know I get up at 7:00 with the kids and then I was, my shoulders, my back started to hurt again, I mean I was just frankly working too much and stressing about it.
[21:01] I found out that there were two reasons. One was I’m doing too much. Like I had 13 things that I’m working on, literally I had wrote them out you know including my blog and newsletter and MicroConf and I was selling a house in LA. And so what I’ve done, I did two things. One I started eliminating pretty heavily from that list of 13. And so the house is now sold, I’m not going to write any new talks because I’ve been doing speaking gigs but now all my talks are written so that’s off the list. I’m putting my book on hold until after MicroConf and a few other things that I’ve basically really paired it down to just doing email, my blog and HitTail and the podcast and a couple of other things which still sounds like too much I would prefer to…
[21:42] Mike: That is a lot.
[21:43] Rob: I know and…
[21:44] Mike: And I thought my list was long.
[21:45] Rob: But I cannot, I really want to do the podcast, I enjoy the podcast. You and I have to do MicroConf. At this point right we’re committed. But I do I can’t just abandon the blog either. So there are these things that I have commitments to.
[21:56] Mike: The nice thing about MicroConf though is that in six weeks it’s essentially over. After MicroConf comes and goes that essentially drops completely off your list, I mean that’s a done deal it’s not like it’s product launch where you’ve got ongoing marketing efforts afterwards.
[22:11] Rob: No and I totally agree and that’s actually why looking at this goal that I had it was July 9th that I’d hit this number I’m just like what was I thinking. You know it’s that whole eyes bigger than your stomach thing of not looking realistically at everything I had planned because MicroConf alone is a couple of months of part time work. I mean it’s two to three months of several hours a week and that it just bites into that schedule. So yeah I was checking some of my time logs and I think I put in like seven hours on HitTail two weeks ago because I traveled to LessConf, I wrote a talk for, I mean it’s just stupid to think that I could possibly grow it to where I want to be in that amount of time.
[22:46] HitTail is growing like revenue is growing. It’s just not increasing as fast as the initial goal that I had set. And it was really causing me some anxiety of doubting whether I was going to be able to pull it off. And so that’s what I did I mean I basically I talked to my wife and she said write out everything you’re doing and once I saw that list it was just like this is unbelievable, how you can fool yourself basically into thinking that you can do more than is realistic.
[23:09] And so that’s where I’m at. So one thing is I started hacking and slashing and I went from 13 and I think I’m down to about seven or eight. The other thing is I just backed off that revenue target and I’m going to push that, I still want to hit that revenue target but I’m probably going to push it another at least four months beyond July and I may push it all the way to the end of the year. And the interesting thing is the only thing is, the only reason I set that goal initially was to motivate me right, was so I had something to shoot for because I really don’t need, I don’t need the money from HitTail to live, I don’t need to do it.
[23:40] And so I wanted to have something to motivate me and it was actually it had become a de motivating factor because I was kind of honed in on it, tunnel vision on this thing.
[23:49] Mike: And I’ve done this before myself I think that you set a goal for yourself and then you start to mentally realize that there is just no way that you’re going to meet that. SO you almost think of excuses to do other things.
[24:01] Rob: Yeah it’s like I didn’t want to face the music you know. And again the music is like it’s not like public, it’s not like I committed in public, I mean HitTail is going at X by July 9th , it was totally an internal thing like three people in the world know the number. So it really has not consequence and yet mentally in my head this was hanging over me. I was feeling stressed out and anxious and I was like, why am I feeling this? I haven’t felt this in years. Right like I typically aside from doing MicroConf stuff it’s like right before a talk or something my life is pretty relaxed I don’t have a boss and I have hard deadlines for the most part.
[24:33] And so I was like, why am I feeling so weird about this? And it’s because I had set up this weird deadline that was intended to do good and it was actually negatively impacting me. I mean one of the big problems was I travelled to Atlanta to speak at LessConf and then I wrote this other talk. So like two weeks were almost chewed up entirely and then as soon as all that ended and I started relaxing like this I like had my first big milestone in a long time where I kind of had some major projects I was working on with regards to HitTail like getting the blog set up, getting blogger set up to start blogging on it using our suggestions, boom that’s done.
[25:06] Like as of today she’s starting and I’m super stoked about that. It kind of feels good to push the reset, do a reality check and say, what is going to make me more productive? Stressing about this thing all the time or working on this as much as I can and trying to hit my milestone. So I mean today was actually a really good day I got the whole blogging thing set up. I’ve started mapping out the next feature and these things have been on this list for like five weeks, I really haven’t made much progress and that’s why I was getting frustrated. All of a sudden you know once I get over this mental hurdle essentially this will break it loose pretty quick and a developer that I was hiring on oDesk and kind of vetting just came through with some stuff and so today he’ll be starting on the next thing.
[25:42] And so really it does feel like it was this dip then and my hope is that over the past like seven days it really has, it feels like a lot of things have started to break through. So, optimistic about the future.
[25:53] Mike: Yeah there is definitely a lot of things on my list that I’m hoping will start to clear off a little bit. I mean one of the other things that I’ve got going on is I think I had mentioned my forum software a while back and I’ve had a developer who’s been working on that and he’s actually pretty close to finishing it. He says at the end of this week I think he’s actually going to be next week. But I think that by the end of next week I’ll probably be able to re launch it and see what happens from there. And then hopefully that whole project will taper off a little bit and I can focus a lot less on it.
[26:22] Rob: Right, well development is wrapping up right and then marketing is going to start.
[26:25] Mike: Yeah, yeah. The sales website is actually the part that I’ve taken on so I’ve been working on that while he’s been working on all the code for it. And then I’m in the middle of doing sort of an infrastructure upgrade as well because I’ve got my Windows server. It’s still running Windows 2003, I’d like to upgrade that and put it on Windows 2008 and kind of upgrade the hardware because the hardware hasn’t been upgraded in a couple of years at this point. So I’m still paying the same amount for a piece of hardware that if I were to get a new subscription or a new service it would be much better hardware.
[26:56] Rob: Does that matter at this point, like is it slow?
[26:59] Mike: It is. It’s at a webhost it’s a one and one, I’m looking at Rackspace right now I actually just signed up for them and I’m going to be moving some things over there and seeing how things work and if it works out then I’ll pretty much move everything off of that box.
[27:13] Rob: Right. Actually that was part of my dip with HitTail it’s that we were trying to do some stuff with the database, we’re clearing some data out and it was, it’s a long story but it basically cost a bunch of money because it’s a metered sand depending on how many disc operations you do. And so I was asking what our options were and they were saying getting a dedicated box. And so that would mean basically all the work of reinstalling and reinstalling the OS, configuring the IIS, getting all the code moved, everything configured I was going to have to redo all that, and moving the database again.
[27:43] It was within the same data center this time so it wouldn’t be the end of the world but we basically spent, we spent weeks doing that before and I was so frustrated hearing that it was another reason that I was feeling depressed. We’re not going to do that we found a way around it but all this infrastructure stuff it just feels like such a waste of time to me. Customers don’t care and don’t know and so it’s frustrating because it does not move the business forward one bit. It’s not a new feature and it’s not a new marketing approach, this stuff kills me. So this is probably my last, aside from my taxes and paperwork, infrastructure stuff and dealing with hosting stuff is by far my least favorite part of what we do.
[28:18] Mike: Yeah if it were just a performance issue I probably would just kind of let it go for the time being. But this server is close to four years old at this point and at the time Windows 2008 was out. So I had the option and I said no. In retrospect maybe that was a mistake but a lot of the stuff that I had running on it at the time, it actually didn’t even have the option to run on 2008 so it wasn’t really a mistake, I just didn’t have another choice.
[28:43] But at this point some of the new stuff that’s going on it has problems running because it is Windows 2003. So I almost don’t have a choice but to upgrade a least some of it. I mean so one of my options is to just get a new server and not bother touching the old one and migrating anything. That’s something I actually may do I may just pay them the $60 a month and just kind of let got for a while but eventually I’m going to have to bit the bullet and move stuff off of it.
[29:07] Rob: Oh yeah and is there any way you can, because I would think about outsourcing that. That would be my first thing like unless it’s super complicated to set up and it’s going to really require you to get involved if it’s just moving websites and databases and it’s fairly straight forward I would absolutely find like an admin or even a developer to help with that if you think it’s possible.
[29:24] Mike: It probably is but the problem is I want it done quickly. I mean if I’d started three, six months ago it probably would have been different but I literally just found out this past week that that server was going to have problems running this new code. So I just have time at this point.
[29:41] Rob: Okay well I don’t have any other updates, did you have anything else you wanted to mention?
[29:44] Mike: I have one other project that I have actually been given the green light to go ahead and start implementing. A lot of the consulting that I have been doing or have done over the past several years is with a couple of very specific software products. The company that I’ve been doing a lot of subcontracting through, essentially just gave me the green light to build an online tutorial website where people can come in essentially pay a subscription to be a membership of a website very similar to the Micropreneur.
[30:14] Rob: This sounds familiar. It’s kind of the same concept yeah.
[30:18] Mike: But the thing is throughout all the consulting I have done I repeat myself every single time and it’s so incredibly frustrating to have to go over the same things over and over. So you know the concept I came up with and I essentially pitched it to him is I said, look this is what I want to do I want to build something where I essentially say it once, I record it, put it in a video or screencast and charge these customers to come to the website and they can get a monthly or yearly subscription or whatever.
[30:45] And it will basically teach them all the things that they need to know and serve as a reference library for them so that if they have a question about something then they can just come here. And essentially what I’ll be doing is I’m going to cross sell some of their stuff and they’re actually going to cross sell my video library as well. So I think it will work out pretty well I mean I don’t have a timeline for getting that done. I’ve already talked to somebody about doing all the audio and video editing and everything else for me.
[31:13] So more or less it’s a matter of me just sitting down and building my lab up again so that I can record these screencasts and then recording them and then sending them over to the editor and then post them on the website.
[31:24] Rob: Well I mean that’s the beauty right, it’s at this point we have infrastructure in terms of people who can edit this stuff, you have knowledge of, probably how to set this up, are you going to build it on WordPress with the plug-in or are you going to go for some other app…
[31:35] Mike: I haven’t decided. Yeah it’s a tough call just because of you know some of the issues we’ve had in the past with some of the plug-ins and keeping them up to date and everything else. It’s a pain point and I know that there are other options out there like Ning is one option that I’ve kind of contemplated. I think I want a little bit more fine tune control over what the content is.
[31:57] Rob: I think you do too. Because I think Ning is more of a social network. It’s, I guess it’s a membership site but yeah it’s more of a social networking and I don’t think that’s what you’re going for here.
[32:04] Mike: No it’s not.
[32:06] Rob: I can’t imagine building the academy on Ning, it would be a very different experience.
[32:12] Mike: So I’m thinking I’ll probably end up coding it either myself or outsourcing the development of that to somebody. But I don’t think that the infrastructure needs to be fairly extensive for it. I mean basically it’s going to be one or two pages or three pages for kind of the sales website area and then there’s going to be a bunch of video links that are embedded into it that once you get through that pay wall and you log in that will be it.
[32:34] Rob: Right. I don’t think you should code it by hand. I mean you can do the research but even knowing what I know at this point I would say that WordPress with a plug-in is going to be your best bet. You know we use WishList in the academy we have run into issues with it. But I think one of the reasons is I first installed it was like just out of beta and then we upgraded for three years now. It’s a very young product and I think that we’ve had problems because there is a lot of data in there and it’s, I mean just upgrading over three years really tends to leave some legacy crap in there. So my guess is with a fresh WordPress install and a fresh WishList plug-in or an A member plug-in you would be much better off than trying to write it yourself.
[33:11] Mike: I think I can get away without those because I think that the number of subscribers that we have in the academy is significantly higher than the number of subscribers that I expect to be on this but the price point is different. So the price point will be higher and I could probably justify having somebody just go in and create accounts and manage that stuff by hand at least until I figure out what to do with it. And then it’ll help me get it out the door quicker. Because the vast majority of my time is going to be spend building these videos.
[33:39] They’re not going to be long videos either, I mean they’re only going to be two to three minutes apiece. But I just have to build a lot of them.
[33:47] Rob: Alright well, I think that about wraps us up for this week. We have a few listener questions on deck and we’ll probably cover them in the episode 75 next week.
[33:55] Mike: Sounds good. If you have a question or comment you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or you can MP3 it and email in a text format to questionsatstartupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. If you enjoyed this podcast please consider writing a review on iTunes by searching for startups. We’re trying to get to 250 and you can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com. A full transcript to this website is available at our website startupsfortherestofus.com. Thanks for listening we will see you next time.