Episode 397 How to Take Great Ideas In WordPress and Run With It With Kevin Geary

Show Summary

Rob Cairns sits down and talks to Kevin Geary.

Show Highlights:

1. Kevin’s WordPress origin story.

2. How do we take great ideas and go with them?

3. Page Builders vs Blocks.

Show Notes

Hey Everybody Rob here again and today I’m here with my guest Kevin Geary, how are you today, Kevin?

Doing fantastic.

Now you have a voice for radio. Has anybody ever told you that?

Uh, a little bit here and there. I don’t like it myself, but I think that’s normal, right? People don’t like their own voice. But yeah, I think people have told me that.

Yeah, it’s like. It’s like New York thing to my own podcast after I’ve edited them. I just. I can’t admit it. There you go. How sunny Atlanta today.

We are doing well in Atlanta today. It’s actually 65 ish and it’s just nice. It’s it’s not too cold. Not too, not too warm. It’s just perfect.

Yeah, send away, send. You can send that up north. Your your Canadian friends will take it from.

Yes, yes. Will do.

In I thought we’d start off with something very simple before we jump into our main topic. Even in WordPress a while, like many of us, how’d you get into WordPress and how’d you get started with the platform?

So I’ve been building websites since I was a kid, you know, age 1213. They’re abouts, you know, doing the dreamweaver thing, doing the front page thing, doing hand coding all. That stuff’s 2004, 2005. I really wanted to get into blogging and that was, if you remember back then, it was like big at the time, right? Everything was about blogging. WordPress was very about blogging at that time. And I remember looking at a couple of different platforms. And even then, WordPress was like, if you want a blog, it’s pretty much the standard.

Very much.

And so that got me into WordPress and I’ve been using WordPress since then. Obviously branching out far beyond blogging as quickly as possible, but that’s how I got into it and I’ve been in the ecosystem ever since.

Yeah, it’s it’s funny. Many people got in the WordPress as a blogging platform, cause that’s how it started. And it’s just kind of evolved. I think the last I looked yesterday, we’re now powering about 45% of the Internet, give or take. I think that next.

Very impressive.

Year will be. Yeah, will be the year we go over 50%, it’s coming. So I. I mean, you know, it’s easy to jump on companies like automatic, commonly, but we gotta be a little grateful for what they’ve created and and where we’re at. So you know, that’s that’s great. I have to ask the question before we move forward, blogs and FSC.

Yeah, yeah.

Or page builder.

Ah, wow. We’re starting early. We’re starting early, Rob. We are. I am firmly in the camp of page builders at the current time. Specific page builders not not all page builders, but specific page builders. So I I use mainly bricks. I’m impressed with quickly which quickly does tie into the Gutenberg ecosystem and FTSE, so you know as far as like you know, just the block editor goes. I’m not super big on that yet. Not saying it’s not going to get to where it needs to get to. But you know I’m not big. On it, yet third party block systems you know generate I I like them, but I’m just. I’m a I’m a page builder environment guy right now.

Yeah, that’s a fair comment. And I I think it’s a lot of it is what you know and how you know it too. Yeah, I mean I I made a switch to cadence about. I think I’m going on 2 1/2 years down three years with Cadence. Most of listeners of this podcast know I did. I did what I tell everybody not to do. I made the changes to live site bit by bit, yes.

Dangerous even on the edge.

It was. I had over 100 blog posts of podcasts at the time, so you know there was a lot of work involved. There I think if you’re gonna go to pay the Gutenberg group, you gotta go with the watch system. I think there’s no question. Yeah. What I will say to anybody is if you want to go that route, jump on the WP engine build mode group that meets at 11:00 Eastern Time on Fridays. Because this could wipe the horn. But I think it’s evolving and I think as a designer developer you have to use what’s good for you, not what everybody else uses. So I’m in that camp too. So we all remember headway themes, how their page builder system was miles ahead, everybody else and nobody adopted it. And look what happened there, right?

Right, right. Absolutely. Yep.

You remember that story, so I thought you and I would do something a little different time. We talked about about a week ago. We talked about entrepreneurship and what that means and how it means and what it means to our lifestyle. Why did you jump into being an?

I was born an entrepreneur. I feel like I’ve just been an entrepreneur since day one, right? I I’ve had a couple like traditional jobs. I guess you would say. And every time I had a traditional job, I just felt like, you know, it’s it’s I. I just need to be in that position where I am like guiding things, you know, guiding my own life and guiding the the business that I’m engaged in rather than just kind of being in a seat like, you know, taking orders or. Following directions or something like that and I’ve always had. You know, a constant stream of ideas for businesses. You know, I’m that entrepreneur that, like my brain, doesn’t really shut off. And all ideas that are discussed all work their way back to business. How? How a business could be built around that idea, how that idea could be marketed. That’s just how my brain works. And so I’ve just, I’ve kind of put myself in a position to. Experiment and explore as much as possible on my own even, even though that obviously comes with great risk, it does come with great reward as well, but I don’t just I don’t see myself. Like being an employee ever.

Yeah, I get that. I’ve I’ve done the corporate thing. I spent 221 years in healthcare with one of Toronto’s biggest hospitals in an IT world. And believe me, that’s I miss the people. I don’t miss the side of what we’re talking about. I I really don’t.


I think being able to guide your own business and most entrepreneurs, and I correct me if I’m wrong, they’re lifelong learners. They like to learn stuff, they like challenges, I mean.

Love challenges, love, problem solving, love. Yeah, all of that. And. And like you said, with entrepreneurship, it is. It is especially with the entrepreneurship that we’re engaged in, which is very, very digital. We do miss the people, right? That is the side of it that we often miss because we’re just, we’re doing this, we’re on zoom. We’re looking through a a camera and a computer all the time. We’re not really surrounded by actual live human beings.

Yeah, it’s so true. I mean, I and and I don’t know about you, but I like to read and not for me is a big deal. I read your laugh. I read a book a week. Still at my age. And so I made a decision. Ohh. About 15 years ago. I was gonna give up an hour TV and I. And everybody said that won’t get you anywhere. And I said really an hour TV a night means an. Hour and a book and. And I’ve, I mean, I’ve transitioned a bit, I read hardcover books still, right, physical book. I also read in the books the Kindle Library that right now is going on 225 Kindle books, if you can believe that. So. So I like to. I like to.

Read. Yeah. And I I I do. I mean we’re we’re on computer screens all the time, right? So, yeah, people I think would expect a lot of us to use Kindles. But I love a paper book that’s like, OK, it’s not a screen, it’s not backlit. It’s just I can chill with it. It’s actually a better experience.

No, I I I would agree with you. What do you think is the most important quality in an entrepreneur since you’ve been that?

It is it is tenaciousness. I think it’s one of those situations where you know law of averages comes in at some point that if you just don’t quit, if you just don’t give up, if you don’t let circumstances beat you, you will find success. I think a lot of the entrepreneurs who. Haven’t found success or maybe went back to the corporate world. I just, you know, it’s they didn’t, they didn’t they didn’t give it long enough. You know, most of the time your first idea is not going to be the winning idea and your first iteration is not going to be the the winning iteration. And it’s sometimes a very long process of working through hard points. And Seth Godin wrote a great book called The Dip that I highly recommend. Everybody read. The dip is about that. It’s about that, like, ebb and flow. And the the dip is always there and you know you’ve got to get through that rough part to find success on the other side. So if you’re not tenacious, you’re probably not going to do well as an entrepreneur. I think if you are tenacious, you’re going to find success.

Yeah, so true. And I think a lot of entrepreneurship. You’re saying Seth Golden drew book is finding the right people in that type of mind space to help you. So for me, I’m a big Tony Robbins fan. I’ll admit that some people say he’s so past, say, but I’ve done the walk on fire routine. It’s only twice now. It’s worth every dollar of it. As far as I’m concerned, cause it’s it’s about mindset, right? And I think you can’t be an entrepreneur if you don’t have the right mindset.


Yeah. So for me, he’s a guy like Seth Godin. There’s a number of other people. Do you watch Shark Tank on TV or is that too much? Stay there for you.

I’m sorry. Who who did?

You say, do you watch Shark Tank on TV?

Oh, Shark Tank. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Shark Tank. I do, yes.

You do OK in Canada. We also have a show called Dragons. Then based on the European one same idea. So I watch both and and country.

Yeah, yeah, same concept. Yep. Which ones better?

It depends who’s on Robert Herbert. Chuck now does both shows again. He does. the US Canadian show. And from what I heard, Mark Cuban’s gonna step away from Shark Tank.

  1. Yeah, I heard.

Actually so.

Stepping away from a lot of stuff. Yeah, he’s stepping away. From a lot of stuff, including The Mavericks. Yeah, I wonder what he’s up to.

It’s a shame because I am such a Mark Cuban fan. No matter how outrageous that man is. I just thought he’s got good business sense, right? So that? Yeah. And he’s been doing Shark Tank since day one. To be honest with you, right. So people people need change so. So that’s an important quality. What do you think is the biggest mistake that entrepreneurs make today, besides being tenacious?

It’s actually a mistake that I’ve made many times in the past. I mean, it depends on where they’re at, like what stage of entrepreneurship are they at? You know, I think for most beginner entrepreneurs, the biggest mistake is they they feel like they’re really good at a skill or a or a thing. And so if they just build a business around that, they’re going to be successful. Building the actual business is a completely separate skill and set of experiences that somebody needs. That’s it has nothing to do with the actual thing you’re building the business around, right? Obviously there’s a great book written about that called the myth, but that that is for beginner entrepreneurs. The biggest mistake for entrepreneurs who have. So my past is you know, building everything from scratch from day one, basically leaving leaving my parents house with nothing and going out into the world, basically saying I’m gonna make my own way. I’m not going to go the corporate route. I’m going to build businesses, you know, going through lots of periods of just having nothing like being absolutely broke, especially when you have a family and you’re and you’re broke, right when you when you build a successful business and then you end up having a lot of money. And I’ve seen this over and over and over again. With other entrepreneurs as well, and I made the mistake a few times in. The past they decide like they’re going to go into protection mode, you know, it’s like, oh, I finally got it. I finally got the money right now. I got to make sure I protect the money. And they stop attacking, you know, and they stop going after it and they stop taking risks. Right? And so they’re not spending money on advertising the way they should. They’re not reinvesting back in the business the way that they should. They’re not pouring that money back into the make the bid the to make the business bigger. They’re trying to protect it. And the business ends up fizzling. Out or dying a slow death cuz it’s not getting the resources that it needs. Right. So I’ve just seen that kind of play out over and over again. So I would, I guess caution people in that regard, right, when you find success in business, you’ve got to double down on that triple down on that quadruple down on that and make sure you keep pouring that money back in.

Yeah, I would. I would agree with that. And you mentioned not putting the money in the marketing, that’s an interesting one. And not only do I do WordPress stuff, I do a lot of marketing consulting and one of the things that find is people don’t think aftermarket, they’re still in that building and we will come. Out it doesn’t work.

That way anymore now does not work that way.

It used to at one time, but marketing building a business is a marathon, not a Sprint, and people need to realize.

It, yeah, if you build like a just an absolutely phenomenal, you know, remarkable products, right. You probably won’t have to do nearly as much marketing. People will naturally just want to tell everybody about it, you know, but most products are not that most products are not the one big idea. That’s just hits a gigantic home run. Most businesses and products and services, right are just one of many options that people have available. Able to them. And so it comes down to how you market that the brand that you build around it the way that you communicate and obviously everything else that goes into what makes a great product and a product that stands out in one way or another from another product. But again, it’s not like and I think that’s another mistake that. Entrepreneurs have a lot as they think. I just need that home run idea. Like, no, you don’t actually need a home run idea. You just need to execute really well on a good idea and be tenacious and follow through with it and make sure your marketing is on point and your copy is on point and your sales is on point and your customer service is on point and build a great brand and just. That is a path, a proven path to success. Everybody looks for that. Like, what’s the new invention? What’s the big idea? What’s the? You don’t really need that. You just need a solid business idea and you need to execute well.

Yeah, so true does it does your personal brand matter as much as your business brand?

It depends on what kind of you know business that you’re trying to build. I don’t think everybody needs a personal brand.


I think that a lot of people can benefit from a personal brand who may not currently have one. I think a personal brand gives you a lot of different avenues and a lot of different opportunities, and it helps mitigate risk. For example, you know I have automatic CSS my my WordPress plugin, there’s frames. The add-on for that. But I also have my personal brands and I was able to make automatic CSS and frames very successful very quickly by leveraging my personal brand. And if for some reason those tools blow up tomorrow or don’t need to exist or whatever the market determines needs to happen, I can go on to the next thing leveraging my personal brands. You know, so. It’s like it’s almost like a fall back piece, but it’s also an amplification piece. And it does have downsides. You know, if you put yourself out there to build a personal brand, you’re going to get more haters and more detractors and more things like that to deal with. But, you know, I think I think that, you know, it’s. The upside is way more than the downside.

Yeah, I’m laughing at you cause I have my share of haters and detractors out there too, and they.

It’s just the Internet.

They just thought. Yeah, and and it’s even worse if you run a business and you get involved in the community, then you become even. So I have to ask you. I’m. I’m in Toronto in Toronto area and Toronto’s got an amazing entrepreneurship support community, so the city of Toronto supports it really well. We have a a big conference that they run every November, December for entrepreneurs they bring in. Top speakers from top companies. Does Ivana do anything similar?

Not that I know of. Nothing that they heavily market or communicate. I mean there, there could be something that I don’t know about, but I feel like if there was anything significant, I would probably know about it. There are a lot of, you know, like meetup.org, right, there’s there’s a lot of different meet up organizations. Or individuals have done that, but in terms of the city of Atlanta actually doing something, not that I.

There’s an opportunity for somebody to make some money. But I ours is actually run by Toronto City Hall. The city’s directly involved, and I don’t know if you know much of the makeup, but Toronto is one of the big startup communities. In North America, actually, so that also adds to that. So yeah, and.

We do have the Chamber of Commerce, obviously, but. You know, every little, every city has got a Chamber of Commerce. You can join it and they do networking events and things, but it’s not really like support or or like coaching or help. It’s more. It’s more like, you know, you go meet other entrepreneurs and maybe those entrepreneurs can help you in a way or you know it’s it’s about building relationships. But in terms of the city actually providing a ton of resources, I haven’t really found that.

How do you deal with the mental health side of being an entrepreneur and working at home?

Uhm, I I think that that is, uh, definitely one of the hardest aspects of it. And that goes back to us, it’s amplified by the fact that we’re digital entrepreneurs. So we don’t even have real people to bring into an office and talk to every day. We turn off the screen and we’re still by ourselves. And you know, I can go talk to my wife about things, but she has no idea. She has no, you know, she’s never run a business and she doesn’t know anything about the work that I do. So there’s only so much. There and then, you know, my 10 year old is not going to be much help. My 6 year old is not going to be much help nor should they be right. They’re focused on being kids. So yeah, it is very tough. Now when you’re doing well it’s not so it’s not so bad. But when you are doing when you are in a rough part or you have a big decision that you need to make it would be nice to have people to talk to. And for me it’s masterminds have been very important like I always want to be involved in some sort of professional mastermind because then I can go talk to other people who I do, that they they are in the same boat that I am in and maybe they’ve even faced this situation that I happen to be facing now and they can tell me what they did and what they have learned from it and so on. And so forth so. Masterminds I think are very important. And and then you know, just your team, not everybody has a team, but if you do have a team being able to leverage them, you know, getting on phone calls with them, talking through, getting their ideas, asking what they think of the situation, a lot of entrepreneurs I think feel like, oh, I’m the captain of the ship. And so I have to make all the decisions and I have to figure everything out. Myself, it’s like, hey, you got some teammates, you know, that are probably have some good, valuable insights. Like, let’s hear what they. To say, let them help you steer the ship right. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Of course. Entrepreneurs are very type A typically very gung ho. And so for a lot of them, you know, it might not be easy to ask. Especially employees like for guidance or suggestions or whatnot. But that is another resource that you have at your fingertips. And I do that. All the time.

Yeah, it makes a difference. I agree with you on the masterminds, I mean, I’ve even got a private slack group with five people in that just bounce ideas off each other. Every day the thing I do is I use a mental health professional. Once a month I check in I’m I’m a big fan of a A guy by name of Doctor John Deloney. He’s on the Ramsey network. He does.

Yeah, absolutely, yeah. Yeah, I know you.

A a part. Heard him. I’ve got all his books. He’s got three. His latest book is called Living. A non anxious life. I just finished it, actually. So he’s like amazing because he doesn’t preach at people. He works with people and helps them sort out their problems. And he’s such amazing. That way that helps. He’s got a podcast that puts out three days a week, and it almost never miss, so, you know, things like that you gotta do. And you gotta remember, the head is as important as the arm or the shoulder or the knee. Right. So.

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it’s if if you don’t have anybody to talk to, if you are constantly mentally and emotionally burned out, you’re going to get physically burned out much faster. You’re going to end up making decisions that you probably shouldn’t make, you know, a lot of things can go can go wrong. So for sure, people need to build that support network.

How do you feel about? The WordPress community and and that type.

I mean generally positive. I went to word camp us. I think that the best part of word camp US and that was my first word camp that I’ve ever been to. Even though I’ve been using it since 2004, 2005. It’s the first time I’ve been to a word camp, but the the people there were the best part. You know, like some, maybe some people go for talks, you know, I went for both because I didn’t know I was like, but coming away from it, I felt like, yeah, it was the people that were the best part of word can. And I think there’s a lot of good visionaries in the WordPress ecosystem. There’s a lot of people doing great work in the WordPress ecosystem. I don’t always agree with the, you know, leadership of of WordPress and the direction that some aspects of WordPress have gone. But I do feel like the community in general is a very, very good strong.

Yeah. What I’ll tell you is I didn’t get to work us this year. I have been before. Yeah, Toronto has not had a word camp since 2019, and I was trying to think back to pre pandemic and saying the last word camp I went to, I think I saw one talk in two days and spent. Only time in the holy track. Yes. Yeah. Just talking to people, catching up with old friends, catching up with old colleagues. You know, that kind of conversation. And I think that’s the reason to go to a work camp is everything else is fluff. It’s the people.

For sure.

Yeah. And you know, that was my, I guess, criticism of of my biggest criticism of word camp is I feel like it should be both. I feel like, you know, the talks should be really good and really valuable. And the people and the networking and the relationships and all of that. I went and felt like the talks weren’t great, but thankfully there was the people. You know, like I I do wish that it would be both right. And, you know, I I came away with it thinking like, it felt to me like the talks were heavily curated. Like, maybe there were probably some talks that were submitted, some topics that were submitted that would have been much better, that for whatever reason didn’t get selected. I was miffed that there were zero talks on business 0, not one, not a single one, you know? And. And so it’s like. If we’re thinking about the future of WordPress, obviously there’s many, many, many people who use WordPress as a staple in their agency and their freelance business. We’ve got plug-in developers building businesses, we’ve got. So how are we going to have a a whole US conference and not have a single talk on business? Just doesn’t really make any sense to me. So those kind of things were disappointing. But again, it was, you know, the people being being amazing made. For it.

Yeah, it’s funny. I you drive that parallel and in Toronto we have what’s called pod camps. So pod camps are the same as word camps for podcasters. And ours is in February last year, I spoke at Pod Camp willing. I’ll speak this year at Pod Camp, and I was trying to think back. And I said last year. And some more thoughts at Pop camp in two days and I saw my last work camp. It was just the nature of the talks, the. The the topics that they curated, the differences between the type of talks and the type of people, and I still had lots of time to talk to people. So yeah, I think it says a lot. So yeah, what are you working on in your business these days besides this?


What am I not working on? It feels like feels like I’m I’m if it feels like I’m behind.

OK, sure.

I’m doing a lot of. I mean I my business is built around content marketing, right? So I’m always churning out content and videos. And so for me right now, it’s just getting through the. Blog and also thinking about the direction I want my content to take in 2024 like I’m at a a situation right now where the last two years I’ve spent heavily niched down in terms of the content that I create. You know primarily for bricks builder, which is a very niche builder. Before that it was oxygen. Which is a very niche builder, yeah.

Very much so.

Yeah, quickly as a very niche builder. And what we’ve done in these small niches is like, I mean the the growth and the scale of the businesses just blows the size of the ecosystem out of the water. And So what that tells me is when we open the door to the rest of the WordPress ecosystem, which. That’s my goal in 2024. Start to branch out and start to become known in the wider WordPress space, not just in these niche builder. The sky is the limit and I feel like just the floodgates are going to open at that point. And so I’m just figuring out right now how best to attack that transition because I don’t want to abandon the people that I’ve been creating content for. Right, bricks, users. But at the same time I I have to start dabbling more in Gutenberg and the block editor and the possibilities with that and WordPress in general. And you know, there’s been talks of potentially developing a page builder of our own. In fact, we’ve gotten hundreds of requests for that because of the way that I teach and the, the, the, you know, the practices that I teach, it’s kind of a natural segue into that. And I’ve got some really big ideas for what a builder. Would look like that is very, very different from the page builders that are currently available for WordPress. So you know, I I have a very approachable idea in terms of that, but it’s just getting all of our priorities straight and figuring out exactly how we want to attack things. You know, that’s, that’s where we’re at right now. I love teaching. I’m I’m it’s just kind of like entrepreneurship is like I’m a natural entrepreneur. I just teach. That’s what I do. And I I teach to learn. Like I teach to make myself better. But I also teach because I just love helping others. You know, I love the fact that people will tell me constantly, like I have the inner circle. Where we talk about building a better agency and building a better freelance business and helping people with a lot of the early stage stuff that they have trouble with with regard to their pricing and their Sol’s and proposals and getting business and landing bigger clients and. I’m to the point now where people are telling me constantly, like, you know, before I started getting your content in the inner circle like I had never done a website for more than $1500 and I just closed the deal at $15,000 and like and that’s actually changing, literally changing their life, changing their financial. Future and outlook and outcomes and some of these people are in developing countries where, like you couldn’t even fathom this kind of money before. And you know, they’re they’re now making it happen. And that that like? You know, it’s great that we all do videos on like, hey, the next greatest WordPress, this and that. But like that those stories like behind the scenes and by the way, you know, the leadership at WordPress, Matt and such. You know, they want to talk about how WordPress impacts people, right. They want to tell these kinds of stories but for some reason we don’t really hear a lot of these stories like there’s so many of them out there that we could be telling.

No question.

I think that that needs to be a bigger focus of of things, but that that’s why I love teaching, because you can actually literally change people’s lives in this in.

It’s it takes special people to be teachers that have lots of them in my life that have taught kids or taught universities, I like to do seminars for that exact reason because I like sharing knowledge. If it helps somebody and makes them better than I’ve done my job. I mean, there’s no, it’s no question on that one. If somebody wants to talk, entrepreneurship, your products or anything, where’s the best website and best way to get in touch with you, Kevin?

Gearygeary.co, that is like my central hub. So you can just go there and it will take you to all the different things.

Yeah. Thank you very much for your time and have yourself an amazing day, my friend.

Thank you. You too.


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