How to Build a Recurring Revenue WaaS Business with Healer, Course Creator, and WordPress Power User Sally Crewe – LMScast – LifterLMS Podcast

New Speaker:

You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest. Her name is Sally Crewe. She’s from ThePractitionerPlatform.com. We’re going to get into the wild world of WaaS. That’s W-A-A-S. I’m going to start us right there, Sally. Welcome to the show. What is a WaaS website or platform?

Sally Crewe:

Wow. Straight in. Thanks for having me, Chris. WaaS is an acronym for websites as a service. A lot of people are familiar with what SaaS is, or S-A-A-S, software as a service. WaaS is basically just taking that concept, and instead of the software being provided as a recurring revenue service, it’s a website. What we do is we basically create websites for people, but we don’t start from scratch. And the as-a-service part is to do with the fact that it’s a subscription model. Even though you get kind of an agency-level website, you’re not paying 20 grand up front, and then good luck to you. It’s a nominal setup fee, and then a monthly fee, and we stay hands-on. Because we’ve found that most people who want help with the tech stuff, they don’t just want help with the tech stuff for a couple weeks, and then suddenly they’re great at tech. They want you to hold their hand throughout the process.

Chris Badgett:

There’s a particular marketing message I really like, which is … And it just kind of comes to me in different scenarios, but it applies here, which is, “All the power of WordPress without the hassle.” Your customers on ThePractitionerPlatform.com aren’t starting with a blank WordPress website with some stock theme and a blog post on the front page. What are they starting with when they sign up for your recurring revenue package?

Sally Crewe:

They are starting with a conversation, basically. So they book a call. They talk to me. They tell me what they want. And then we decide which of our three tiers that they are suitable for. As I said, we’re focused wholly on natural health practitioners. I’m actually from that background. I’m a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and a GAPS practitioner, as well. I don’t do that anymore for work, but that’s where I come from. I saw a great need for people in those industries to get their work online and to be able to help people specifically via online courses. All of this came about because I had an online course that taught practitioners how to have an online course. Super meta.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Sally Crewe:

I used Lifter, and I basically spun up a WordPress website with Lifter in it and a couple other plugins, and put my design on it, because I come from a graphic design background originally. Originally, my course had a module that showed them how to set up a course site. It was like, “Okay. Install WordPress. Go get a domain name. Go download this plugin. Go download that plugin. Follow along.” We made the steps very, very simple to follow along. But nine out of 10 of my students through my course were like, “No. Even as simple as you’ve made it to follow along and set this up, I just don’t want to do it,” because they’re practitioners. They trained for years to be good at what they’re doing. It’s not necessarily web development. Some of them actually enjoy it. But even those people smartly recognize that they shouldn’t be spending their time digging around in WordPress, as much as they love it.

Sally Crewe:

That was me, actually. The reason I started an online course for my practitioner business at the time was … I told people it was to help more people around the world. But to be honest, it was because I really enjoyed messing around with design and WordPress. That was the most fun part of my business for me, was taking the problem that everybody else had about how to create a course, and actually doing it, and then showing people. Like I said, I realized they didn’t want to be shown.

Sally Crewe:

And so I created a bonus for my course which was called The Practitioner Platform. And the deal was, [inaudible 00:04:57] my course. Then for an extra, at the time it was $39 a month, I can basically stamp out a clone of my website, which they had been in to receive my course. So they kind of knew their way around and they knew the look and feel, and it felt friendly to them. I offered it for them just as an experiment. You can have your own version of my course, and then I’ll show you how to deliver your own beta experience course through it. That’s how it started. That was back in February 2017.

Sally Crewe:

And then I did another launch of my course later that year. The part of my email sequence that was talking about the bonuses, the bonus was, “Yeah, you get,” I think it was three months free of The Practitioner Platform, basically your own course website. And then it’s 39 a month after that. I’d say I got about 100 emails from that, which was almost half my list at the time. They were like, “Yeah. Course, shmourse. Tell me more details. How does this compare to Teachable? How does this compare to Squarespace?” I remember saying to my husband, “Whoa. We should just stop talking about my bonus. They’re obsessed with the bonus.” And of course, typical can’t see the woods for the trees entrepreneur, it takes a while for you to suddenly be in the shower one day and be like, “Oh. That’s what I should be doing.”

Sally Crewe:

So basically, that’s how it started. I realized that what they really needed help with and what my personal center of the Venn diagram of being techy, but also being a natural health practitioner. And I can’t really think what the third circle is. Oh, being into design. The middle of that Venn diagram was my happy spot. The people I wanted to help, 99% of them either don’t have any right to be anywhere near a computer, or they really, really love tech, and don’t have any right spending time on it. Or they’re just already super-established as practitioners and have a whole bunch of courses already, and they just want someone to take it off their plate. So what I do is built to be the answer to all of those problems. And also, it’s built to make sure that I spend every day of the rest of my life doing something I love, which I think is important.

Chris Badgett:

There’s so much wisdom in that. Before we get into the marketing and the tech and how the people pulled the product out of you, tell us about the niche. When you say natural healthcare practitioner, is that the right …

Sally Crewe:

What is that? Tell us about this market. Who are they?

Sally Crewe:

They are people who typically … A lot of my clients are actually fellow NTPs, which is Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, which is what my credentials … Those are the letters I have after my name. So that’s sort of how it started. Those are the people who my course was created for. That also came about very organically. It was a Facebook conversation. “What are you guys doing to make money?” And I was like, “Oh, I just created this online course. I just had a $15,000 launch, and now I don’t have to see clients anymore.” And I’m an introvert, so staying home is great with me. I’m fine with that.

Chris Badgett:

Power to the introverts. Big introvert myself.

Sally Crewe:

Yeah. Exactly. Our time is here. So basically that’s how that started. Every question that you’re going to ask of me is going to be a thread that can be pulled that can go back to that event, which was me just saying, “Hey. This is what I’m doing.” And then suddenly this sub-thread of this Facebook post got bigger than the actual post. It was determined that I should just casually show my colleagues how to put a course website together, and just even how to do a course. Because this was back in 2016, back in the Dark Ages when online courses were much less well-known or understood than they are now.

Chris Badgett:

Wow. That is super cool. I want to go in a little bit on the part where you realize, and this happened to me, too. I’m not as much of a designer as you. But I realized I was making all this content, showing people how to do things. And then it just kept happening. People were like, “Hey. Can I just hire you to do it for me?” When did you realize? You’re like, “Oh. I’m like them, but I’m actually different”? And how did you genuinely accept that and be like, “All right”?

Sally Crewe:

It’s taken a few twists and turns, as these things do. So in the beginning, it was like, “Yeah. I’ve got this course, this website. I can show you how to do it, or I can just do it for you.” Most people said, “Do it for me.” A couple people said, “Do it for me, and then show me how to do it.” Those were the wise ones. That’s kind of how we’re trying to get people. I decided to take The Practitioner Platform full-time and sort of flip the script. So to begin with, I had an online course, and the platform was a bonus. And then I flipped it around and made the platform the main thing. I actually used the course as a bonus. So if you signed up, then you would also get access to my $1,000 course. So just, all it did was turn it inside out.

Sally Crewe:

When we started it full-time, though, it was actually built as a SaaS. And it was originally Multisite. My idea for it was that I would take WordPress and I would use a couple admin plugins to simplify. So me, the issue with WordPress is that there’s about five ways to do everything. It’s like trying to get out of IKEA on a Sunday. You click one place, and you end up down this secret passage to some other place. So I basically simplified the back end of WordPress. I set it all up to be very, very automated. We had this little robot character who actually is still with us, Beep-Boop. She’s a zen meditating robot who shows you around the website and helps you learn, basically, how to use the page builder. It was just such a fun thing to create.

Sally Crewe:

But lo and behold, most people when they got in there were like, “You made it really simple, but I just don’t want to do it. Can you build it for me?” I resisted and resisted and resisted. Around probably the autumn of last year, I decided, “Okay. Let’s just try this for grins. Let’s say if you sign up free, it will build the site for you.” And then things just took off like crazy. We were a little bit too busy for a while, so we had to say, “Okay. Well, that’s a little bit too much.” We also weren’t charging enough, so we revisited that. And then in January we said, “Okay. Let’s go with that. Let’s build it for you. But there’s a setup fee for that service, because it’s quite a high-level service.”

Sally Crewe:

It’s basically an agency service. We get on the phone with you. What I would say is it’s a productized service, meaning that there’s a formula. We have a production run every month. We start on the first Monday of the month, is project kickoff date for however many people have basically purchased tickets on that flight, as I like to think of it. And then we go through a three-week process with them which is very automated and productized, but it’s done by humans. But we have software that says, “Okay.” It goes over to the designer for two days and it comes back for an internal review with one of my managers. Sorry. That’s my mom WhatsApping me from [inaudible 00:13:05].

Chris Badgett:

It’s all good. Everybody’s on WhatsApp. Everybody’s on Zoom. Yeah.

Sally Crewe:

We went from one extreme to the other. We went totally SaaS. That was just too techy for them. Then we went totally, “We’ll do it for you.” I could have taken that into an agency, but that’s not what I want to do. I don’t want to do that. We sold so many sites, I was working 16-hour days for months. I got close to being like, “I can’t do this anymore.” So it was a health decision as well as a financial decision. Now, we’re about to kick off the first of those production runs next Monday. So the last couple weeks have been me basically building this machinery behind the scenes that’s going to be very client-focused, focused on the experience. We know that we have the tech for the actual product. We know how to build websites quickly and accurately and beautifully.

Sally Crewe:

The issue was that I became the bottleneck in the company, because everything had to come through me. I do have a team, but it was still coming to me to say, “Okay. Who’s going to be the best person for this? What’s their schedule?” You might have had this experience yourself, where it suddenly became my day job was to be a manager, which is not my favorite thing to do.

Chris Badgett:

Wow. This is super cool. I love this story. When you get in front of demand, all of a sudden it’s wild.

Sally Crewe:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

I mean, like you said, people go pull the thread. And then all of a sudden, you’re in this world where you’re in demand. A quick just power user question. We’re recording this at the end of March 2020. You said you’ve been working on it the past couple weeks. How are you approaching things in these pandemic times with these healthcare practitioners? What are you working on to just help your community as best as you can during these times?

Sally Crewe:

This is top secret. But since you’ve asked, I’m going to tell you. The other thing I’ve been working on is an online practitioner community. So my brand name before The Practitioner Platform or my sort of umbrella brand is The Online Practitioner. That was the name of my course. That’s been around since 2016. I’m sort of resuscitating that brand and using Lifter and BuddyBoss, which is just perfect. We actually have, of the three plans that we sell for practitioners, we have one called Take Root that’s designed for practitioners who are wanting to take their one-on-one practice online. It has a scheduler and everything, but there’s nothing to do with courses. The next one is called Grow with the Flow. That has LifterLMS in it and the ability, and it has WP Affiliate, and basically gives you everything you’d need.

Sally Crewe:

And then we recently added one last year called Reach and Teach, which is all of that plus BuddyBoss. So people can essentially have their own membership community. A lot of practitioners are getting booted off Facebook. I’m not going to go into any conspiracy theories, but there’s a lot of them flying around. I’ve seen a lot of my colleagues and people in my niche asking the question again and again, “Okay, so-and-so’s group just got shut down. Where do we go? Where’s our new home?” I’ve been tagged in a couple of those posts, so I’m sort of being pushed onto the stage when it comes to that. So we created the Reach and Teach plan. We’ve got a bunch of happy practitioners on there, now growing their own communities.

Sally Crewe:

But I’m also like, “Hey. We got this really good tool. Why don’t I stamp out one of those sites for The Online Practitioner?” And then what I’m going to do is put my courses in there. I’m going to create a community for those guys to come and hang out and talk to each other. But it’s basically going to be a business-building community for online practitioners. And of course, the more they learn, it’s going to help them get to the point where they’re ready to sign up for The Practitioner Platform. But it’s going to be very handheld.

Sally Crewe:

My goal with all of these things that I do is to meet people where they are. I’m from Sherwood Forest Robin Hood country, so I don’t think I’m ever going to be very good at just saying, “Okay. We only work with high-end clients.” It’s just not in my DNA. So I think we’ll always have a bunch of really good free content available and stuff that … Like you do on your website, as well. If you want to get the $1 trial of Lifter and check it out, or just even use the free version of the plugin, there’s nothing to stop you from building a business, basically, for a couple dollars. I think that’s important. I don’t like the idea of anybody being held down from their business dreams because of lack of funding.

Chris Badgett:

Totally. Totally. I get that. Well, first of all, this is rapidly turning into one of my favorite episodes.

Sally Crewe:

Oh, good.

Chris Badgett:

I’m glad to find you in Sherwood Forest. Because sometimes traditional business advice is raise your prices, move upmarket, whatever. But I’m like, “Well, what about the beginner? What about these people with limited resources? What about the people in another country where the US dollar isn’t as strong? What about all these people?”

Sally Crewe:

Yeah. The way I do it and the way I actually teach my students to do is like, yes. Have that high-end offer, because there are some people there, then. That’s what our Reach and Teach is. There are people there who want you to … They want all the bells and whistles. They just always will. If they go to buy a car, they’ll always be like, “Show me the best. I only want the best.” And they haven’t even seen the model below that might be better.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. That’s like 1% of the market, right?

Sally Crewe:

Yeah. So have that for them. For the people who have the income and they literally, it makes sense to them to pay you, if the value of what they bring to their own business is $1,000 an hour, then yeah. Sure. They’d be stupid to not pay you, versus them messing around with WordPress plugins for a couple hours. So I think that’s important. But I tell people, have that sort of offer there for those people. And then they can in a way subsidize the more affordable-level stuff or even the free-level stuff. Because I think it’s real common with natural health practitioners. I mean, nobody gets into natural health as a career for the money. It’s not what you think, “Oh, I want to be rich. I’m going to be a nutritionist.” It just doesn’t work.

Sally Crewe:

So by default, I think my niche, my colleagues tend to be very heart-centered and giving and don’t really value what they bring to people. They have a hard time charging. I see people do really tremendous courses that help people heal really chronic conditions. I’m struggling to make them charge $500 for it, because they’re like, “Well, I’ll do that next time. But this first time, I’m just going to make it $19.” But I totally get that. You can’t force somebody to charge more than they’re comfortable with. Like I said, I don’t think it’s a case of if you don’t charge a ton, then you’re devaluing yourself. I think there’s a gray area, that that’s what you were talking about, that I do think it’s fair to have an offer for people who aren’t quite ready or in the position. It’s not just money mindset. It’s actually just real-life financial stuff.

Chris Badgett:

Totally. That’s amazing. Let’s go to the offer a little bit for The Practitioner Platform. I see some people put together a WaaS or a website as a service business, and they really position the tools that are in the stack. But when I look at this, to me it looks like the … I mean, help clarify the language I’m using. But it looks like everything a healthcare practitioner needs for their online business component from … What’s the offer?

Sally Crewe:

The offer, and we broke it down into the three phases. Because originally we just had basically the middle one, which is Grow with the Flow, which is Lifter. Basically it was originally just a course site. And then we got people coming along and saying, “I’m not ready for a course site. Do I still have to …” You know?

Chris Badgett:

So at first, you were helping them create more revenue by not just working with patients one-on-one. Take your knowledge and package it into a course and either sell it, or give it away for free, or something. Do something.

Sally Crewe:

Exactly. Yeah. The two courses I’ve done have been about that. One of them is called From Idea to Income, and that’s exactly what it’s about. It’s about running a beta experience, getting that first batch of people in, iterating, and then eventually turning around and creating a nice, slick, recorded online course. As someone who started with design, and I’m kind of a design snob. I’ll confess. I was a little irritated by seeing training for course creation that just kind of said, “Yeah. Just throw it together or drip it out by …” I think it’s really important. Even people who aren’t designers, if they see two different websites and one of them has-

Chris Badgett:

Well-designed.

Sally Crewe:

Is well-designed, has some breathing room, you can charge more. And not only that, you give people more confidence. Because if you go into someone’s actual physical shop and there’s junk everywhere and there’s stuff in the wrong place and you’re tripping over stuff, then you’re not going to go have that person work on your teeth. You’re going to be like, “Oh. This person, if they can’t …” And it’s probably a subconscious judgment that we make. Obviously, it’s not fair. There’s a lot of messy geniuses. I mean, if you wanted to move this camera a little bit this way, you probably wouldn’t think I was as neat as I look right now. But that said-

Chris Badgett:

When I go to a acupuncture office, there’s an experience in how things are laid out, and the calming, and the lighting, and the water. It’s an experience.

Sally Crewe:

It’s an ambiance. Yeah. Yeah. I’m a reiki master. I don’t like that term, but that’s the level that I’m at. I’m an empath. I perceive a lot, so I think I maybe pick up on that. But I think more people pick up on that subconscious stuff than they give themselves credit for, that someone would come home and be like, “Something different in here?” And you’d be like, “Yeah. I repainted the living room a different color.” They may not know that you’ve repainted the walls, but they would still sense it.

Sally Crewe:

And I think especially in the niche that I’m helping people in with the practitioners, people want to … Yeah. You’re basically building an online business. I like to think of it as your office, as your store, as your practice. Make it spa-like. What a lot of people say about the basic template that we start everyone with is that they like how clean and spacious it is.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Yeah. There’s a membership site built with Lifter I really like, a woman in the UK named Melissa Love built. It’s called The Marketing Fix. There’s all this space, and I’m like, “Wow.” I’m not a great designer, personally. But I’m looking at it, I’m like, “What is making this so beautiful, and there’s just room?” That’s a part of it.

Sally Crewe:

Yeah. There’s room. I don’t think you should say that about yourself, Chris. Because you and I both love some Montserrat.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Okay.

I mean, I noticed that [crosstalk 00:25:26].

Chris Badgett:

Okay. And if you don’t know what that is, it’s a font. But I didn’t choose that. I got somebody on 99designs, and they chose that.

Sally Crewe:

Well, there you go. Well then, you’re smart enough to know where to delegate. Let’s put it that way.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Well, let’s get into the technology stack. If we’re building websites as a service … Well, first question before we go into different ways to do it. It seems like some people who do WaaS businesses hide the fact that it’s WordPress, and some people don’t. Or some people, they don’t really care, whatever. Where do you stand on that? Or how does it work for you?

Sally Crewe:

Well, it’s a great question. Because originally, the first version of the WaaS, the true WaaS version which was supposed to be sort of there’s one template, and you come in, that was all white-labeled. It was super-

Chris Badgett:

So it was more like a SaaS experience that you built?

Sally Crewe:

It was a SaaS experience, yeah. And you know why I did that, was because there’s a lot of people in the niche I work with who’ve dabbled in WordPress.

Chris Badgett:

And they’ve had a bad experience?

Sally Crewe:

They’ve maybe tried to [crosstalk 00:26:35]. They’ve got WordPress PTSD. They just don’t want anything to do with it. In the beginning, I did kind of hide … In the very beginning, I didn’t hide it. But then when it came to be a full-time thing and we were trying to sort of SaaSify it, I did, because I didn’t want that to be a negative connotation for these people that are in my niche. When we came back around to look at what were they actually asking for us to do, which was they just want the site done. Some of them have a vision, but they still don’t want to be the one actually creating it. We sort of came out of the closet with WordPress late last year. I tell you what, my days of troubleshooting have got a lot shorter. Because trying to white-label everything and basically meaning to hide any plugin names … I think that was me trying to make it feel more like a legitimate SaaS, and feeling like I was cheating by building it on WordPress and on piggybacking on the hard work of others like yourself or other plugin makers.

Sally Crewe:

But it turns out at the end of the day that people don’t actually care what tools you use, as long as you help them with their problem. I’ve worked a little bit with a guy called James Wedmore. He has a really good quote that I always re-quote, which is basically if somebody’s drowning, if you see someone out there drowning and there’s a little rowboat you can go help them with, and you’re like, “Well, my fancy yacht’s at the … I can’t rescue. My yacht’s being washed.” They don’t care. Use the rowboat. They don’t freaking care how you save them. I sort of caught myself in that trap of wanting to …

Sally Crewe:

I didn’t want people to sign up and say, “Oh. Well, I could have built this myself, because I can see all the ingredients that you used.” I think that was the fear in the beginning. And of course, that’s not true. They’re like, “I don’t care.” They didn’t want to build it. They don’t care what ingredients you use. If you have someone fix your car, you don’t expect them to hand-tool all of the replacement parts. It’s just silly. So I don’t know why that’s really a thing. So yeah, the long answer to a short thing, been there, done that. And now we’re fully out in the open. We’re actually proud to use WordPress.

Sally Crewe:

I mean, WordPress also, this is the other side of it, in recent months with REST API and everything, it’s just become … You can build legitimate apps on WordPress now. But I don’t feel that I would ever want to, because there’s so many amazing plugins. The development cycles are so fast. I’m amazed at how quickly established WordPress plugin developers push out updates. It’s every couple weeks.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. That’s-

Sally Crewe:

So yeah, the stack is Lifter at its heart. We don’t do this on Multisite anymore. We actually got out of that recently, last year, and decided everybody needs to have their own individual website. We’re [crosstalk 00:30:07].

Chris Badgett:

So you have a hosting company that you clone a template and start from, that kind of thing?

Yeah.

Sally Crewe:

Yes. We use Cloudflare service on Vultr. We use that. We just switched over to their brand-new high-frequency service which are, if you haven’t tried them, check them-

Chris Badgett:

Who was that?

Sally Crewe:

Vultr, which is like a DigitalOcean type of company.

Sally Crewe:

They have these high-frequency servers that we just got. It was a little bit more money per server, but the hours it saved just for me when moving around the clients’ sites is worth it. And so-

Chris Badgett:

Do you give the client the hosting access? Or is that just something you hold onto as part of the service and everything?

Sally Crewe:

We use a control panel called GridPane. So that’s sort of our hosting. But we pull in our own service through there. Those guys are great. So we basically have our own hosting company. But we have people. The people at GridPane are very, very … They’re good server admins that help me out in a pinch.

Chris Badgett:

That’s Patrick Gallagher, right, over at GridPane?

Sally Crewe:

Exactly. And so yeah, so we basically have a template site that we start with, which is the middle section one, the Grow with the Flow one. And when an order comes in … Or actually, we stockpile them at this stage. But theoretically when an order comes in, we just go find that master template, clone it, cloud-

Chris Badgett:

One question there. And sorry I keep interrupting you. This is so fascinating to me. I know what people think. They’re like, “Well, when someone buys, I want it to be instant.” So how much of this is automated, versus you’re like, “Thank you for your order. Sit tight. We’ll be back in one business day,” kind of thing, or whatever? What do you do?

Sally Crewe:

It’s more like the latter. Originally, we were trying to be instant. We were trying to be like, “Yeah. We’ll just magic you up a website.” And then we realized, well, people … Then it spits out the site and they’re like, “Well, that’s not exactly how I wanted it. This one has some cows on it. But I’m about veganism.” You know what I mean?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Sally Crewe:

Or there were people who were into paleo style who were like, “Well, there’s some bread. There’s some bread on my homepage,” really upset. And I was like, “Well, it’s a picture. You can change it.”

Chris Badgett:

Right. Right.

Sally Crewe:

But yeah. All of my answers are going to be like, “We tried this.” The porridge was too hot. The porridge was too cold. And now, we feel like we found the correct temperature. But it’s always a work in progress. It’s never finished. But the current version feels very good. Yeah. We basically go find the master site, which is constantly being tweaked and updated. That’s all completely up to date. And then we basically create a clone of that. For the tech people, GridPane has an API with Cloudflare. So that handles the SSL certificate for us, right there.

Sally Crewe:

So to me, now we’ve got it all set up. We have the benefit of having used Multisite for years. I’m well aware of the upsides to it. The downsides for us were just because we were using an LMS, and then we’ve also added in WooCommerce for some sites. I was having nightmare premonitions about something … Just database bloat, basically. So we just stamp out-

Chris Badgett:

So each site is like its own container? Like, “This is this client. This is this client.”

There’s some-

Sally Crewe:

Every single site we work on is its own website. We only limit our servers to about 50 sites. So we’ve got nine different servers right now. Not to say that we’ve got nine times 50 customers, because we have a bunch of those … I have my own servers and my own sandbox. We’re really cognitive of how fast these sites should be, how well they load on mobile. We’ve got the delicate balance of the caching to make sure that people can update. If they’re using LifterLMS or if they’re using BuddyBoss and they’re doing forum stuff, it needs to have the caching to be fast. But it also needs to have forgivable cache that allows you to see what’s actually been posted in real time. So that’s been-

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Wow. This is super cool.

Sally Crewe:

[crosstalk 00:35:01].

Chris Badgett:

I love that you’re saying it’s a work in progress. Like, “Yeah. Sally reserves the right to change what tools she’s using or whatever.” But just maybe if you could, and we’re recording this in the tail end of March 2020. You’re using LifterLMS. What are some other plugins, themes, page builder, whatever that you’re using in your stack as of this recording that you see as kind of critical?

Sally Crewe:

Well, as of this recording, and also I would say this has been the case all along, definitely since 2019, is we use Astra Pro. We use Elementa Pro. That’s another plus to being on single sites, because that means we’re allowed to use … And we’re building the sites for the clients who are allowed to use Elementa Pro. There’s licensing considerations with all of these things. I have my own child theme of Astra Pro. So we have a child theme of our Take Root plan and Grow with the Flow plan.

Sally Crewe:

And then BuddyBoss. And for BuddyBoss, we use kind of two versions. We have a version that pulls in the Astra theming. And then we have a version for people who want the more modern look, that just purely runs the BuddyBoss theme. For those people, we purchase the license for them. Because as you know, there’s sort of a more app, Facebook-esque look to the BuddyBoss theme, which for some of our clients, love it. And others, clients, they’re like, “No. I want it to look more like my website.”

Sally Crewe:

So I do a lot of CSS Hero. Oh, I use CSS Hero, which is a plugin, as well, to change people’s … If you want that button to be a particular shade of purple and nobody can find out how to do it, send in CSS Hero. That’s one of my favorites. But that’s a tool that we use during setup. It’s not something that we train the clients to use. Elementa, I already talked about. That’s really what everything hinges on for us. And then obviously, LifterLMS. We have the, whatever is the license. Is it the Developer license or the Pro license where we have all of those add-ons?

Chris Badgett:

The Infinity Bundle?

Sally Crewe:

Infinity Bundle. Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Sally Crewe:

I couldn’t really live without a lot of those. We use Gravity Forms. We have basically the unlimited dev version of these things. And then WooCommerce. And then we have a WooCommerce Appointment Booking plugin for some people to use. We’ve just started using the Zoom API integration plugin, which is actually a free WordPress plugin which allows you to … Because a lot of my practitioner clients use Zoom. All it does is it allows them to create and launch Zoom calls from right within their WordPress site. So they can see a list of their calls. It just means that they don’t have to … I mean, I always say that I’m in the business of avoiding clicks. The less clicking around someone has to do to run their business, the better. That’s kind of what my North Star is.

Chris Badgett:

I call that, we’re in the friction removal business. That’s what I-

Sally Crewe:

Friction removal.

Chris Badgett:

That’s what I do all the time. Like, “Well, where’s the friction? I need to remove it.” Because, I mean, there’s a lot going on here. And you’re working with not a technical, internet-techy, online businessperson that’s their default. It’s all about removing friction.

Sally Crewe:

Exactly. Yeah. And we like to try and give them the power of WordPress, but the predictability and the safety and the … I’m almost like a tool Sherpa for plugins and stuff. They have the basic set of tools that we give them, and that allows them to run their business at whichever level they’re at. So the plans all align with where they’re at in the business. We used to originally have a sales page that had a list of all the plugins and all the stuff you can do with them. People were like, “I bought it, but I don’t know what it does, and I’m overwhelmed. But it has to be good. Look at all these features.”

Sally Crewe:

We’ve revisited that last fall and said, “Okay. Who are we dealing with?” First of all, we’re dealing with people who are new grads. They just left nutrition school. Or they don’t have a website yet. Or they’re working. Maybe they’re established, but they don’t have a website. That’s the Take Root. That’s those people. That just gives them the ability to start basically having people book discovery calls with them and starting doing one-on-one work online.

Sally Crewe:

And then we’re like, “Okay. What’s the next group of people?” They’re the people who are ready to do a group program or an online course. And then the kings and queens at the top are the people who are ready to build their own community. But we make it modular. So if you sign up for the first one and then in a couple months you’re like, “Okay. Now I’m ready to do that course,” we just flick a few switches, activate a few plugins, add a few pages from our template library, and of course, integrate it and make sure that it matches the rest of their site.

Sally Crewe:

So it’s a combo of as automated as possible … Maybe not automated. We have sort of a stack of ingredients in our kitchen that we know are good, and we know that they work well together. And you don’t make it into the TPP plugin stable unless you play well with others. There’s been many plugins that I’ve fallen in love with and I activate them. And it’s like, “Oh. Okay. It broke everything else.”

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. I mean, there’s more friction removal. It’s like you’re vetting and you’re going with quality, lack of conflicts.

Sally Crewe:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

I have to ask, and this is maybe a surprise to some people who follow me on the internet, is I can’t write a single line of code. I’m not a developer. Whenever I have to write the HTML for a link, I have to look up that Ahref thing, which may make people laugh. But are you a developer? Do you write code? Or are you-

Sally Crewe:

No. I copy and paste code really well.

Chris Badgett:

So you’re like me, in the sense that we’re what would be considered WordPress power users. We’re not developers. But we can bring things and put them together, and maybe do a little copy-paste of some thing to make it work well. But I think that’s fascinating. This is the power of the WaaS opportunity, is you can build essentially a SaaS business without being a developer. I mean, how cool is that, right?

Sally Crewe:

Yeah. It’s great. And it’s getting easier and easier because of, like I said, the recent developments with WordPress. I know you can do this sort of headless WordPress. I don’t think I need to bother with that. But there’s a little devil on my shoulder saying, “Check it out. Check it out. That’s going to be really cool.” But I’d have to learn to sort of call it done. It’s working the way that … And you can over-mix the cake. You know what I mean?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. Over-engineer it or whatever.

Sally Crewe:

Yeah. Exactly. So I think it’s good to be that we got busy, and it forced me to stop developing. Because that’s my fun time, is like, “Oh, we could do this, or we could do that.” I did fall into the trap which a lot of people do, of just one person comes along and says, “Hey. I would really like it to do this.” And I’m like Willy Wonka, like, “Okay. Coming right up. I’ll just pull some levers over here.” And three weeks later, I’ve done it. And it’s like that one person’s happy, but it was kind of a waste of time. Nobody else needs it. Or maybe it’s not what they really need. Maybe what they thought that they wanted isn’t what they really needed.

Sally Crewe:

So all this stuff has been sort of process-ized now in our business. It’s mostly for my own, to keep me on track. It’s like, okay. If somebody has a feature request, ask them what … Zoom out. Because they don’t necessarily know what they don’t know. They might think that they need this particular thing. And you might say, “Okay. Well, would it perhaps be better to do it this way?” And they might say, “Oh, yeah. That’s way better to do it that way, and it’s simpler.”

Chris Badgett:

Wow.

Sally Crewe:

So I provide an unofficial plugin curation service, as well, which is coming back to my community. I started in my niche as a course creator, and sort of the tech person that people looked to for tech answers. “What’s the best plugin for this? What’s the best plugin for that?” I feel like I’m still getting those emails. So I thought, “Well, let’s just have a place for people to come, people who are natural health practitioners.” If they need any tech questions, hopefully we can answer them.

Chris Badgett:

That’s super helpful. I mean, we all have those people that we go to for advice in a particular niche. Yeah. Everything’s out on the internet. But the value is curation.

Sally Crewe:

Exactly.

Chris Badgett:

Saving time, saving mistakes, saving poor choices, saving overwhelm. It’s important. We need leaders like that out there. For your course and also for your customers at The Practitioner Platform, how much business opens up not limited by geography? Because typically as a healthcare practitioner, it’s your local community. But how many people took your course outside of where you live? And how many people use your WaaS outside of your immediate community?

Sally Crewe:

All over the place. We had a couple in the beta version of my Online Practitioner course that taught them how to create an online course. We had someone in Dubai. A bunch of people in Australia and New Zealand. South Africa. Sweden. So, a lot of different places. And of course that was about five years ago now, so even more so now. As much as the current period is a terrible thing that we’re all going through, it sort of makes me smile to see that Zoom has become a household word and a verb for people who didn’t know what it was before. So the stuff that we’ve been just working on in my business and productizing it kind of streamlining it, we were on track to be doing that before the coronavirus outbreak.

Sally Crewe:

And so it’s almost like everything aligned. It’s like suddenly, all eyes are on this type of way to work. And practitioners themselves, we have a lot of practitioners that I know who have … Yeah, they knew about online courses. But they’re like, “Yeah. I like one-on-one work. It’s not for me.” And now they’re saying, “Okay. I got to work online. I literally, I’m being forced to do this.”

Chris Badgett:

That’s my choice. Yeah. That’s the option in front of me. And you have the time. If you can’t take patients and clients right now, I mean, that creative energy can be harnessed.

Sally Crewe:

Yeah.

Do you remember how you found LifterLMS or how you came across the brand or whatever?

Sally Crewe:

I’m a research hound.

Chris Badgett:

Okay.

Sally Crewe:

So it would have been when I was trying to figure out which LMS to use. I’ve been sniffing around the idea of a membership or a WaaS or a learning management site since about 2014. And I know, because I found notes. When I’m searching on my computer for stuff, I’ll find … And I’ll come up with an idea and I’ll search the main part. And it’ll be like there was a note from 2014. It’s like, “Oh. I already idea-ed this.”

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Sally Crewe:

So, would have been around then. I started on Lifter when I did the original version that was on Multisite. And then I found out that Lifter at that point wasn’t, or I don’t know if it still is, wasn’t Multisite-compatible. So then I had to pivot to use LearnDash, which I found was much more just not as intuitive and simple. It still had this bug where it would keep reordering new modules the wrong way. But I felt like that was the only choice that I had. And then we switched back to Lifter as soon as we could. That was actually one of the prime drivers for me for switching from Multisite to single-site. And especially the … I don’t know which upgrade it was where you added … The builder became super drag-and-drop.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Sally Crewe:

That to me was, as a content creator myself … When I do calls with people to show them around the platform, I always show them that page. Because I say, “This is going to help you get that course idea out of your head. Use this as a come in and build …” I sort of tell them how to do it. “Come in and build your skeletal course structure.” People see that. There’s two points in my calls where I can see people get it. One of them is that [crosstalk 00:49:26].

Chris Badgett:

That’s the light bulb moment. That’s awesome.

Sally Crewe:

Yeah. And the other is we use a tool called ProjectHuddle to allow people to give feedback. So when we’ve done the first draft of their site, we send them an email. They get to log into their live site and leave these little stickers on it, and leave this feedback. So I show them that that’s so that they can visualize what’s going to happen. That’s the other one where they’re like, “Ooh.”

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

Sally Crewe:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

Well, last question for you. This has been an awesome interview. I’m going to figure out how to early-release it, because I’m loving this so much. I’m actually going to steal a podcast interview question from one of my business coaches. His name’s Dan Martell. But essentially, who did you need to become as a healthcare practitioner, or more broadly, a subject matter expert, to become a WaaS entrepreneur and go through that transformation?

Sally Crewe:

Who did I need to become? I have a phrase that’s actually … I had it on a sticky on my iMac for a long time, which I wrote down. It just came to me meditating one day. Show them what’s possible. And so that’s kind of my little personal mantra, to get out of my own way and to recognize … Someone once said that in terms of the hero’s journey, I’m the reluctant hero. I just happen to do stuff. I said, “I’ll show you how to do it if you want.” So that’s never been something that I … I never wanted to be a leader or anything. But if it’s something that you’re interested in and you accidentally become an expert, the accidental expert, I think that’s something that you have to kind of step up to. It’s a disservice to you and to everybody else to not do that. So that’s who I try to be. I try to become more comfortable with being the accidental expert.

Chris Badgett:

Amazing. Well thank you, Sally, for showing us what’s possible as a WaaS entrepreneur. I love the story. Thank you for sharing it with us. Sally Crewe. Her website is ThePractitionerPlatform.com. Is there anywhere else you want to send people, or ways to connect with you?

Sally Crewe:

Yeah. The community that is a work in progress is going to be at TheOnlinePractitioner.com, as well.

Awesome.

But they’ll be interlinked with each other.

Chris Badgett:

Fantastic. Well, thank you so much. We’re going to have to do a follow-up episode in a year or something like that. But thank you so much for spending some time with us today.

Sally Crewe:

Thank you so much. Thanks for creating LifterLMS. My whole business hinges on it. So, stay awesome.

Chris Badgett:

Absolutely. Well, you’re welcome. That means a lot. It really does. I really appreciate it.

Sally Crewe:

Thank you.

Chris Badgett:

And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses. To help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life, head on over to LifterLMS.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results-getting courses on the internet.

This content was originally published here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *