Episode 420 All About Siren With Alex Standiford

Show Summary

Rob Cairns talks to Alex Standiford about his new affiliate marketing product Siren.

Show Highlights:

  1. What is Siren?
  2. Features of Siren.
  3. Why Use Siren?

Show Notes

Hey everybody, Rob Cairns here and in today’s podcast, I’m going to sit down with Alex Staniford and we’re going to talk about his new product, siren. How are you today, Alex?

Hey rob. I’m. Doing really good. Thanks for thanks for having me.

Yeah. The second time, we were just commiserating when we did the first record, the audio managed to go South. I was getting some bad feedback, and I decided, well, we don’t need to put the listeners and the viewers through that mess. So we’ll just fix it all real quickly. So let’s jump in. I always like to ask people in WordPress based on WordPress origin story. So would you mind sharing that again with the listeners?

Yeah, sure. So I I started using WordPress in like 2009 and I was I was using it just to run a small like. Just a small business related to photography and I was using it to. Just. Attract clients and try to get more photographers to want to work with me and things like that. But and and it kind of expanded into using WordPress for tutorials for the photo editor, GIMP and just over time I was just using it for, you know, several years. And just as I. Not more and more advanced. With it. I realized I needed a I realized that I really liked it. I liked WordPress. I liked development, I liked coding, and at the time I was a mechanical engineer and I realized I wanted to work from home. And this was like, you know, 2013, 2014, before, before. COVID happened and before the work from home movement was really a thing. So really the only option to the only one of the few communities that was doing the work from home thing the work remote thing was web developers. So yeah WordPress specifically. So I switched and became a freelance web developer, fell on my face pretty hard. Learned a lot, you know, got up, brushed off, brushed off a little bit and did it again. Made an agency at, you know, some big clients, built hundreds of WordPress plugins over. Five or six. Years when I was running that agency and. Yeah, so then here I am now building. Siren affiliates and just, you know, doing my thing.

It’s funny, you mentioned you started for photography, right? And I I listen to that because. Photography is like one of my loves when I’m not here we go, tis and I go on vacation and I’ll shoot. 100 pictures up in Niagara Falls in a day and they’ll go back six months later and they’ll shoot another hundred you. Know how it?

Yeah, they do. And they do, yeah.

Goes. It’s just one of the things I love doing is going out and taking pictures and like capturing the moment right and yeah. And it’s just one of those things I enjoy so much. So do you still do a lot of photography in? Your spare time.

I I do less than I used to. But I still. I still have a camera and I still do it a bit. What I really got into I was doing so I started with photography and then after a while I realized I was really enjoying the photo editing aspect of it. So I was doing a lot of the.

Against yet.

The bigger edits, like you know, I wouldn’t even consider this a photo anymore. Kind of edits, you know, it’s more of a, like, literally just taking multiple things and putting them together. And I had a.

What do you get for photo editing? Are you a Photoshop guy?

Lot of fun with that. I I I originally worked with Photoshop, but then I switched to GIMP because it was free and. I it took me a little bit to learn it because there was some. There was some interface quirks that it still has today that if you don’t have the muscle memory. It’s really obnoxious. But I I got I got over that hump and then I started teaching people how to do that as well. So I was teaching people. How to switch from? Photoshop to GIMP and for a while. I had some. I was, you know, pretty much if you did a search for how to use GIMP. I was, you know, the top search result and you know, getting. Lots of views on my YouTube video. It was, and it was. It was my first, like, real blog that I’ve ever ran that had any kind of real traction that was meaningful.

I love this story. I’m I’m an affinity guy right now, so I’m in with affinity, who now is owned by Adobe just for. Well. Canva bought them, which is an Adobe product. So. Here we go, right.

There we go.

Right. And the other thing I’ll throw out there for listeners, not that this is what we want to talk about, but if you’re looking for some low cost quickie tools, there’s a really cool company out there called a shampoo. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, they’re mostly on the PC. Side and they’re one of these utility companies and they have some low cost photo managers and some low cost tools for upscaling photos and downscaling. So people might want to check them out. So let’s jump into the world of affiliate marketing. First of all, why affiliate? Marketing. Before we get into the product.

Yeah, sure. So I back to my related to my origin story, right, so my original. Business that I ran was creating photo montage DVD montages that ages me, but here we are. So yeah.

You’re dating yourself again, but no kidding.

Right. But we were, I was creating DVD montages for people. So like.

We were even.

Using like the live stripe, like the burners that would like burn the picture on it and all this stuff anyway. But we would we were creating these for people and it wasn’t an inexpensive thing, so it had to be a pretty special event. In order to justify, you know, paying for this kind of thing, and we found that it was usually weddings and things like that where people would actually, you know, pay. For these.

Anniversaries. Stuff like, yeah.

That in verse right in her graduations, you know, so. And we and we realized that pretty much everywhere that we were doing this, there was a photographer, right? Like if if somebody was paying for a photographer. They would probably be interested. In paying for something that would, you know, create a montage for it. And this was before software exists to automate this, right? It wasn’t long after. That but at. The time it.

For AI if.

Wasn’t really a thing right before AI before animoto. All that anyway, so I started creating partnership programs. Even then back in like 2009, 2008 for photographers to basically resell my product. So I’ve been thinking about the idea of like affiliate marketing and partnerships.


Pretty much as long as I’ve been on the web. Fast forward a little bit. Whenever I was running my agency, I was coming up with different ways to collaborate with other people to allow them to promote and sell my product without necessarily needing to hire a full time employee. One thing that I did was I had a blog content bonus program where basically people could write. Content on my site. And it would allow them to. It credit if somebody visited and read their blog post and then later on converted.

Now that’s.

So yeah, so I was building some different different partnerships and different ways to do these things. It falls outside of what you would think of when. You think of? An affiliate program, right? But then on top of that for a few years, I actually worked at Sand Hills development. Before they got. Acquired and I was doing, I was one. Of their lead developers for. Affiliate WP. So on top of all of my personal experience in working with affiliate programs, I’ve also personally built and managed. Another one where I’ve, you know, I’ve got a lot of experience on how other people work with affiliate programs, how? You know what they value? What they don’t care about and and. Also found to not build an affiliate plugin in some ways right? Like it’s not intended to be like a a nasty savage bash or anything like that. It’s just like there’s there’s always things that you look at whenever you build something and then you look back on it and you’re like, man, if I was going to do it again, you know, I would probably avoid. That so yeah.

Yeah, and the problem, the problem is a lot of people take affiliate marketing and and I’m sorry a lot of people abuse affiliate marketing. Yeah. So they turn affiliate marketing into what I call spam marketing. Yeah. And you know where I’m going with this because you’ve been in this space and that just drives me nuts and I personally. Beyond the whole companies that I I really believe in one is web host that a friend runs, one is another. I generally I don’t do a lot of affiliate marketing and I’m guilty of it and people say I’m leaving money on the table but I put money on the table in so many ways and one of the reasons I do. To do it is I wanna be in a position to say what I want when I want, who I want and I don’t want to be in that position where I have to cowtail because some companies gonna pay me out $300.00 and I have to be nice when it really shouldn’t be. So I I made a decision in my business a long time ago. I didn’t want to play that game. What are you trying to say to the spam and the? And that whole side of things.

Yeah, so bad affiliate programs, it attracts bad affiliates, right? So if you were not managing your affiliate program and you were just letting anybody in and you’re letting them do whatever they want. However they want, you’re going to attract the worst people you’re going to attract the worst affiliates because they’re a great affiliates out there. There are people that. Actually, only sell products that they personally use and that they personally believe in, you know, a great example of this. I always think of Pat Flynn. He’s such a he’s like to me he’s just. Kind. Of this, like paragon of like what an affiliate marketer. And be and, you know he’s honest. He’s up front. He’s genuinely a good guy and he’s always very focused on helping people and he happens to make some money from his recommendations. He’s very transparent about that. And, you know, so like.


There’s great affiliates out there. You just have to run a program and make sure that you’re 1, attracting the good ones and two. More specifically, filtering out the bad ones.

I agree. So you’ve you’ve developed this new product called Siren once it’s coming up very quickly.

I know I’m freaking out. I’m so excited.

But you must be busy, but you need to be excited. Because jump up.


You jumped into a space that’s already crowded with some heavyweights already. Why siren and why even go into a space where there’s big heavyweights at this point? And what does this solve?

Well, First off, I knew I could do it better and I knew I could do it a lot better than what other people are doing. I’m seeing the approaches and all of the heavyweights right, there’s that are out there are either the original or they’re almost carbon copies of the original, right? So they didn’t really add a whole lot of innovation they basically. Just rebranded the original. Pretty much said we’re going to just do exactly what they do and offer one or two small things and pretty much compete on price, right. So if you look around on the affiliate plug in space, all of them are like we’re the easiest or we’re the. Cheapest or we’re both. I don’t want to play that game. I can. I don’t want to be the easiest affiliate program. While I do, I want to be an easy affiliate program system to use. But I’m not. I want to be. I want to reimagine what an affiliate program is. I’m expanding and going beyond that. To me, siren isn’t just. An alternative to an affiliate plugin to me, this straight up replaces it where it’s like. You know, an affiliate program is just one of many. Programs you can have. The biggest strengths to me about siren is that it it takes a multi program approach to affiliate marketing, so other plugins. And other tools, not even just plugins, right? They they will say, Oh yeah, you can have an affiliate program. Right. And that’s what they do. They give you a single affiliate program and it’s a big monolithic program that has all these different rates where every affiliate has their own rate. You can customize it as you see fit. And you can, like, do all these things. But it all happens inside of one program that works in one specific way. Siren doesn’t do that. Instead, it says hey. I’m going to give you the tools you need to create as many programs as you want and all of these programs can have a completely different set of rules. They can have a different set of rates they can and and you can add different collaborators to one or more of these. And on top of that, all of these programs can run at the same time. So if a single for a single transaction. Two or three or more than one program. In other words, as many programs as you want can apply to that transaction. So you can actually pay multiple collaborators for a single thing, multiple affiliates for a single transaction. And that’s really powerful because it allows you to create to sell things that have longer and more complicated buy buyers journeys. So like instead of saying I want to sell a $10,000 website, that’s custom, right. Good luck getting an affiliate to sell that because there’s.

Oh, good afternoon.

You know what I mean? It’s not gonna happen. Because that whole transaction doesn’t just happen with a single interaction, that’s multiple touch points, multiple interactions. An affiliate can’t do that. But what an affiliate can do is give you a lead, right? They can. They can in a single interaction, convert that person to signing up for your e-mail list. They can convert that person to schedule a call to start these conversations. They can even sell less expensive things. That are, you know, packaged up on your site, but they can’t sell that. So siren because of this multi programmer approach, one of the big use cases that comes to mind for me as a person who ran the agency was I wish I had a way to create a lead generation affiliate program that’s specifically just for leads and I pay them whenever the their lead actually. Converse into a sale right, but then on top of that I also want to have a sales program that’s focused on selling the actual conversion aspect. And by doing that, you can create two programs, one for leads and 1:00. Sales and they’re able to like organically work together. Do you know what I mean? They’re not. They don’t necessarily even know who each other are. They don’t know they don’t have. To know anything about. Each other at all, because the lead generators are bringing the leads and the conversion program is focused on taking those leads and converting them into actual sales. And then both of those people, they need each other. The salesperson needs the lead generator and the lead generator needs the conversion person to actually like finish that project. That sale and you can’t do that kind of thing with a basic affiliate plug-in, right? But you can do that with siren.

Is siren. I take it. Sirens, all WordPress space. Right or.

It is WordPress based.

Yep. So that means all your data stays inside the WordPress dashboard, right? Which means those people who are concerned about security or concerned about data or concerned about data ownership, they now have control over their data at site, fluent CRM or Groundhog CRM. It’s in the same where all the data is self-contained and you own it all. What is the? Cost of getting set up on siren for for a company, do you have any sense of costing at this point?

Yeah. So that’s that’s a bit of a can of worms since you’re this is the week before launch. So the launch price is going to be $99 a year. I however, am having a very launch pricing that’s very specific to launch, literally launch day and the day before for my e-mail. This, and I’m offering a lifetime license for $45 and a couple of other really crazy offers that I’m literally never going to do again. It’s literally just for that like launch day and the day after.

And launch day is again June.

4th June 3rd if you’re on my e-mail list, you get it. An extra you get it a day. Really. So you get the first chance to get like that, that $45.00 lifetime deal. I’m only giving out fifty of them, so.

So June, June 3rd, you need to pay attention now, which is e-mail list. There you go. You’re never gonna get a better deal and.

That’s right. Yeah, you know. No, never. Never. I I I actually, I specifically was like I have to pick a number that I will never do again. And I thought I was like, what would I do for Black Friday? And I was like, OK, it’s got to. Be less than.

That and there we go. And and I have to say you and I have never spoke before. We’ve I think we’ve texted a few times. Over the years and I’ve been wanting to get you on there on here because you’re well known in the WordPress space, so for me.


The trust levels there, I mean, a big part of jumping into new products is do you trust the founder? And and I would say you know I this can sound salesy, but I’m gonna do it anyway. It’s it’s it’s just how it she’s been around a long time. Most of us know you most or know of you. Right? Like communicate it so.

Yeah, for sure.

Are you gonna go to any work tents to to pitch some of this or?

Yeah, I’m. I’m. Going to I’m at least going to us. I thought I’d go into some of the other ones locally, more like closer to me, but.

Canada, Canada.

No, I know I got to go to Canada. That’s that’s been one I’ve been that’s coming. Was it next month?

The ideal 11 July the 10th is contributor day in Ottawa ON so get. There am going no.

I I am I’m. I’m very seriously considering it because that’s that’s a that’s driveable for me. I could get there. I mean I’m in. I’m in northeast Ohio. So it’s, you know, it’s not a short drive, but I can. I could make it. I’ve been I’ve I’m very seriously debating on it though, because it just honestly just kind of depends on how crazy this launch is. And I I got to be honest, I’ve never. I’ve never made it this far with a product like I’ve built things that I’ve come up with ideas, but I’ve never got it to launch like this so. I’ve got a lot of help. I have a coach and I have, you know, I’m in a lot of communities and a pretty strong support group, so I’m I’ve got a lot of help to to help me succeed, but I I genuinely don’t. Know what my workload’s gonna look like? So I.

You should be. You should be really proud of yourself. Just doing it is more than a lot of people do. Yeah, I would suggest, you know, just thinking about help reaching out to is my good friend than probably you probably know more as Mr. Andrew Palmer, cofounder, Bertha and.

Just know it’s gonna. You know.

Andrews launched multiple products in the order, so he might be a good source of ice is a bug.



Alright, I will. I appreciate that.

Yeah, he’s actually coming on the show very soon to talk about why we shouldn’t do things in the WordPress space for free. Believe it or not, another one of my favorite topics. But anyway, this site, have you got a help desk system in place to handle support requests at this point?

Yeah. So I’ve set up something called. I’m using a chat program I. I kind of wrote a little bit of a rant on my on my personal blog about this subject. I OK so. I am not a fan of. Old school ticketing systems like I don’t like the idea of sending an e-mail and waiting for a response and and I also hate. Onboarding flows like I know this is. This is not necessarily super related, but like the onboarding Wizards and drive me crazy so like anyway I at launch I basically ended up like creating a page so that whenever the plugin is activated it takes you to a.


Page so you can activate your API key. And I set up chat. I’m using a chat based system and you can submit a ticket with the form the old fashioned way. If that’s really how you want to go about it. But I found that my best my favorite experiences I can think of in recent history with support. Honestly, the first thing I think about Flywheel is because I mean, at the time I was using. I will a lot. And I just love that whenever I’d be working if I needed something, I could just go to that little chat bubble, send a message, and I would get a response within 10 minutes and have it fixed. And I just loved that experience. And I really, I was thinking a lot about how I want that experience for my, for my users, the people who use siren. And so. So I created a chat bubble and I’m using a chat bubble and I also have an AI that’s trained on it on my documentation and stuff like that so that she can help her. Named Melody is a mermaid, but anyway so she can help with support a little bit faster than me. So she’ll send an initial response. But there’s also a note along with that response that says hey, just so you know. Let’s also reviews these if there’s anything inaccurate or anything like that, you know, just let me know. And also, you know, if you just want to talk to Alex, you just click that there’s a button right there that you click on and it’ll just notify me directly. Trying to create a little bit of a barrier for me to to kind of like you know, so I’m not fielding every message but.

Boy, it is so hard. I have been in and out of and I come out of an IT background where I implemented support system for the help desk. That was some. Rent and their traditional ticket based and I have been in and out of support systems for the last six years because my clients like to bark at them and they just bark and they bark and they bark. I’ve tried everything from giving them a notion board to add stuff to. To. Traditional ticket based system, the chat bots and they just walk and and I ended up. Finally, this year in January, switching to the awesome support plugin, which you’re probably familiar with and and I basically turned to my clients and said if you e-mail me directly, I’m just gonna open up a ticket in your name and it’ll get scheduled when it gets scheduled. e-mail emailing me is not gonna get your stuff done faster.

Mm-hmm. Right. No, no.

Thank you.


You’re laughing because you know this pain.

Wait. Yeah, yeah. I I went through. This with my with. My agency too, we had a ticket based system and it was the same thing. People would just e-mail me directly and I had like a I had a business partner. And they they knew that I was the developer, so they would just e-mail me instead, and it actually got to the point to where I just gave my partner access to my. Full address and if something came in, she would just field it and. Just you know.

I get it.

But yeah, and it was. I mean, I don’t know if there there may have been like a a gender component there too, because she she’s a woman. And sometimes people are like that and it’s stupid. I hate it, but. And and she was convinced it was. That was at least a part of it. And I I was like I, you know, I don’t know. I I’m going to take your word for it and I’m just going to give you access to my e-mail address and but it was the same thing like so so we would receive an e-mail and she would look at it and she would. Just be like. She would literally just forward it. To support and that would be that. The another thing that I did with the support system is I set it up so that. You have to opt in for it. It’s not a, it’s not a default thing because I I didn’t. Sometimes the WordPress community especially gets a little antsy about the idea of things phoning home. Do you know what I mean? So I didn’t want to. I didn’t want.


Uh. Without their permission do this, but whenever you activate there’s a check box that says yes, I would like to have the support chat with siren directly in my plugin. So whenever you’re working with siren, if you activate that, if you ever run into an issue, there’s a little link in the footer that you click on and it’ll. Pop up the chat and you can. Just talk directly. With me in there. And what’s cool about it is it will also. Allow me with. Their again, with their permission as we’re chatting. If they just want to share their screen with me, they can do it directly in the chat, right? So they can just so. It it, it bypasses a lot of that extra. I don’t know how how much you’ve had to work with support with WordPress plugins, but like. There’s usually quite a there’s a bit of a process where it’s like you have to. Give them like. Create a user name and give them access and do all the stuff unless the plugin has a backdoor or something like that. But.

And then and then go away and wait two days and yeah.

Exactly. It’s such a process. So. So I found that this plug.

Yeah, yeah.

Then. And that this not this plugin but this chat box that I’ve got it allows me to do screen shares and allows them to share share screenshots and I can even again with the permission take control of that specific window so. I’m I’m not sure how that’s going to all play into it, but I have a feeling my hope is that it will allow me to help people and support them faster and more directly without them needing to create an account and wait all that time and do all this stuff. My hope is that. I want to create that experience that I had with these hosting companies like Flywheel and WP engine where if I have a problem I send a message to the bubble and they fix my problem. Then I keep going. I’m in a flow. I want to keep that flow. I don’t want it to be disrupted. I surely don’t want to wait. And my goal siren is to make that happen.

Always everything. What was everything in support I deal with? From a company for managing my e-mail called fast mail and they don’t do chat support, but they do e-mail support and I have to tell you the one thing Fastmail has down is her fault, and that I don’t care how it’s done. It’s just how does it flow and interact with the consumer and the and that’s the important thing. As we’re going to wrap up three quick takeaways, be all on the the special offer you’re gonna put out there on June. The 4th why Siri?

I would say I mean it kind of fits into what you were saying earlier. Like for me, of course, Siren has them. I can sit here and talk about all the features I could talk about the multi program approach. I can talk about all these different advanced things you’re going to be able to do now that you can do now and that you’ll be able to do in the future with LMS integrations and all the things that I have planned for this plugin. But more than anything to the WordPress community, for me it’s. Trust me, if you trust me and you know that I am capable of doing this and you know that I’m going to knock your socks off because I know I will. And I think that. You know, this is one of. Those things where like. I’m not just some big company, this is me. This is my plug in. This is my baby. I’ve worked on this thing since August. I’ve thought about this offering and this solution since 2009. I’ve I’ve literally thought about everything about this and for me, why siren is literally just because. I want you to succeed and I know how. To make that happen.

And if it were me and that code sentiments, I would trust. Now it’s any day of the week. So if that’s an issue, as I say, he’s well known in the community. Look at look at Siren’s House is approachable. He’s easy to get a hold of them. Slack works.


There’s a multitude of ways in this community to find people and. I wish.

I’m pretty much on all of.

Them yeah, we’re chill. The luck with the launch, Alex. I hope it goes well. Somebody wants to get a hold of you directly. How’s the best way? Slack or any other?

You know they can message me on X. And they can message me on any of the select communities. You can also just e-mail me at Alex at Standifer dot US I pretty much. You know, I check all of that stuff throughout the day, pretty much all the time, almost to a fault if I’m honest. But you know, I’m very approachable. I’m always. I’m always looking to answer questions and talk and. And you know connect so.

I wish you all the luck with the launch and let’s hope it’s a great one.

Alex it. Thanks, rob. I appreciate it. Thank you.

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