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This is the first of three episodes where I ask my co-hosts to put on the guest hat. Today I chat with Brad Williams, who was my first co-host and has been on the show since May 2018. It’s a good time to learn more about how Brad does the Woo, as well as some insights into WooCommerce and what he has learned from the builder community via the podcast.
A Chat with Brad
In episode 72, I chat with Brad about:
- Working on a podcast two years + with BobWP
- The advantages of having a co-host on your podcast
- How Brad does the Woo (aside from Do the Woo)
- Brad’s evolution with WordPress, WooCommerce and eCommerce
- What Brad considers the largest challenge when deciding whether a client should use WooCommerce
- What Brad has learned from all the shows he has done with Woo builders
- The top two Do the Woo episodes that stand out in his mind and why
- Why he decided to have his company create a handful of plugins
- How his personal story with axe throwing may be something listeners missed
- The one thing you don’t know about Brad professionally and how it has become his top advice
Connect with Brad
Yes, this is the transcript. But not in the traditional sense, transcribed word for word. We do not speak as we write. Often the flow of transcribed content is hard to follow. So I have taken it a few steps further by seriously editing, at times, the conversation and even using my editorial freedom to clarify some points. So enjoy.
Bob: Hey everyone. BobWP here, episode 72 of Do the Woo. This is where I normally welcome my wonderful cohost, but I thought for the next three episodes we'd take a different approach to this. Because you get to hear these co-hosts always asking and talking to the guests. And they share a bit here and there, but I thought, "Hmm, maybe it's time to figure out who these three co-hosts are."
You may know them well. You may not know them enough. You may wonder if you still want to know them after hearing everything we talk about. But in any case, this week, we're going to start with Brad. You know him as a wonderful co-host, and now he is sitting in the hot seat, the guest hot seat. Brad, how you doing?
Brad: Man, you're really setting us up here, Bob. I'm good. I'm a little nervous now after that intro, but I'm okay. How are you doing?
Bob: I'm doing good. I came up with this idea because yeah, it's like everybody hear's the three of you all the time. And of course you share stuff, the conversation is very natural, but I thought, "Man, maybe it's time to find out a bit more Woo-ness about our cohosts."
So first, before we even get into that, I wanted to let everyone know we're close to the relaunch of this site. Currently WooCommerce.com is our only sponsor at this point in time. We have some new community sponsors coming on here shortly, but we always like to give a shout out to WooCommerce.com.
Last week, 4.5 came out, this week there's a new version of the blocks. A lot of stuff going on over there, so do check out WooCommerce.com because they've been a great supporter and they're going to continue to be a great supporter as we move into the next phase.
I'm going to give a little backstory here. In 2016 I actually started Do the Woo podcast and I changed it to another podcast after about nine months. Then in January 2018 I decided to bring it back. It was time to bring the Do the Woo back. I missed it. And Brad was actually the very first guest, episode number one. I looked for a sucker, or a good guest I should say. Okay, there's Brad. Brad will do it.
Brad on Do the Woo for 2 years plus
And later on, about March, I started thinking, "Well, it'd be nice if I had a cohost, because I think people get bored just hearing me always talk to the guests. They'd like to get another perspective in there." And I looked back and thought, "Well, if anybody had the guts enough to come on my first show, they might have the guts enough to become a co-host."
I reached out to Brad and I said, "Hey, this is a thought I have right now. What do you think?" And surprisingly, he said, “Yes."
Brad: What was I thinking, Bob? And here we are, two years later, is it?
Bob: Yeah, so probably everybody wants to know, "How have you handled BobWP for two years?" That'd probably be the biggest question. I don't know if you even have an answer for that.
Brad: Well, you got a nice zen attitude, a very calming presence, a lot of deep breathing. Bob, you're a professional. I like hopping on your show and talking to people and interviewing people and definitely in the format that we do it, where it's more conversational and less scripted, is my favorite. It's my favorite to be a part of and my favorite to listen to. I don't like scripted podcasts or scripted shows.
There's certainly podcasts that need to be that way, but I've just never been interested in that. I like just open conversations that flow and the topic kind of goes wherever it goes. Even though you have some general guidelines or talking points, it just kind of goes organically through the conversation. And so all in all, it's been a lot of fun. You've made it very easy. You're quite the professional, Bob.
Bob: Well, thank you. Thank you. Very few people say that.
Brad: I could go off and run my mouth a little bit. And it works, I guess.
Having a podcast co-host is the right way to go
Bob: Well actually, back then when I was looking at trying to decide who to ask as a co-host, very few people came to mind. And I don't know if I've just been lucky or if I always have this gut feeling, but it went so natural after you came on. I was like, "Wow, this works..." And I knew from you having been on DradCast and different things and also just knowing you for quite a while.
Brad: Yeah. Podcasting is difficult. It's hard. If you've never done it, just trust me. It's hard. The podcasts or shows that you listen to that feel effortless when the hosts that are very good at what they do, because it should come off very natural. It should come off like you've been planning for hours and tens of hours and all this prep work and it just naturally flows. And there's just a lot of great podcast hosts out there and interviewers. And that's, again, why it's popular and why people like listening to podcasts and consuming that type of media.
But the fact that it's hard, imagine doing it by yourself, like you were, Bob. I mean, you were doing it by yourself. But for the listeners, imagine not only having to run a show, but coordinate everything about it and then be the sole interviewer to guide the discussion, to come up with the questions. It's just you're juggling a lot, and especially as it's live or as the interview's live. It can be tough to kind of think of, "Oh, I've got to get my sponsor plug. I want to make sure I ask this question."
Or while the person you're interviewing is answering your question, you're already thinking about the next question, because you need to. Or where you want to take the conversation. But sometimes you can lose focus of, "Well, what did they actually just say?"
A team. Having at least two people can help alleviate some of that pressure. Can help make it flow better. We can jump in and support each other. If one topic kind of dwindles off the other one can jump in and kind of start a new topic. A lot like running a business. There's some great companies in our space run by a single person, and that seems absolutely terrifying to me. I would never want to run WebDevStudios by myself. And that's why I have a great partner in Lisa Sabin-Wilson, just like you and I on the show, and along with the other co-hosts, so.
Bob: Right. And I'm fortunate because it has gone so well. And each co-host brings in a different perspective, different background. And just to let you know, and let everybody know, this is one of the things that I've enjoyed the most about it, is I don't know how many guests have come back to me. And no matter which hosts I have had on, many times they come back and say, "Wow, thank you. I was really nervous. You made it fun. You made it comfortable."
So I think that's important. For every cohost I have, it's important that the guest feels comfortable. And fortunately, like I said, I pulled in three personalities that blend well. It does make it a fun show and people do have a good time.
Brad: Yeah. Certainly if you have not done a lot of podcasts it can be an uncomfortable spot for someone to come on. They want to come on and promote their product or their service and talk about their experiences, absolutely. But it can be intimidating just knowing that you're opening yourself up. So yeah, I think the more we can do to make this a more comfortable space, have some fun, goof around, get into some fun topics. Very quickly, it just starts to flow naturally and our guests start to open up. And we've pumped out some great episodes in interviews because of it.
Yeah, for sure. Well, I'm going to start this with basically the two questions we usually start out with, except I have to modify this first one. So I'm going to ask you, Brad, how do you do the Woo aside from Do the Woo?
How does Brad do the Woo aside from Do the Woo
Brad: Aside from this podcast? This is all I do.
So I've been around WordPress; really 2006 was my first taste of WordPress. I started my own personal blog and picked WordPress. Ended up starting a company and focused on WordPress. The rest is history. But early on, as we were building WordPress sites at WebDevStudios, we'd get requests for eCommerce functionality.
And you have to think back to the 2008, 2009 timeframe, you didn't have things like Shopify. Those turnkey, very simple online stores. Etsy, I don't think existed back then. If it did, it certainly wasn't the national or global site that it is today. So there wasn't a lot of third party, super easy for small business, medium businesses to spin up a store.
Starting with eCommerce way back
There were options. They weren't necessarily easy and as intuitive as they are today. And the same was true within WordPress itself. So we've talked about this on previous shows, but really I think the original eCommerce plugin was WPeCommerce. When I first got into WordPress, that was the only one I knew of, the only one I'd heard of, and the only one that seemed to have any kind of traction or community around it. I'm sure there were others out there, but that one was definitely clearly at the top. And it was also clearly known that it was very difficult to work with.
So yes, it worked, but it was tough. You could get it working, but when you really needed to get into some customizations or to make some adjustments for the type of store you're trying to set up, that's where you'd quickly run into problems. It butted heads with a lot of other plugins.
And we have to remember, again, the plugin ecosystem wasn't what it is today. The standards aren't what they are today. Even the ability to manipulate WordPress wasn't what it is today. So you just have to remember the time and place that we're talking about here.
But that was the biggest. So we used it. We rolled out some sites with it. We definitely had some headaches and frustrations. And then the next plugin that took off and became a real direct competitor was the Shopp plugin.
And the big difference to me seemed to be that Shopp built the solution from the ground up, but they really seemed to wrap a whole business model around it. Where WPeCommerce was free and I don't even know if they had paid add ons. I think it was just free at the time. Where Shopp, I believe it was paid. Do you remember? I believe the core of Shopp was paid.
Bob: Yeah, I'm trying to remember. I never used it myself, but I remember seeing it a lot.
Brad: Yeah, but basically he had a revenue stream attached to this, with the add-ons and things like that. So he was able to have more dedicated developers. And Jonathan Davis was the primary there who started Shopp. And so that quickly rose up and we did some sites with that. And then another year or so later WooCommerce showed up. I wasn't familiar with Jigoshop until WooCommerce, but Jigoshop was out there and WooCommerce was a fork of Jigoshop.
And then WooThemes, at the time they were known for the themes. They rolled out WooCommerce and they really put some serious muscle into it. And that's when it became clear that WooCommerce was starting to take over as the preferred option. It had a good community, had a lot of really good extensions. Was very flexible to customize your stores. It went above and beyond what everything prior to it had really done.
And I think just because of the size of WooThemes at the time, they could put a whole team of people on it to really grow out that side of the house there. So it wasn't just one or two people; it was a lot of people. And that's when it became clear it was the front runner. And really the rest from there is history, because it just kept growing. Then once Automattic acquired it and it just exploded, because now Automattic has some massive funding and an extremely large team around it, you know? So it really became the default from there.
Evolving with WooCommerce and eCommerce
We've since built and launched a number of sites, including sites that do millions and millions of dollars of sales every year through WooCommerce. So definitely on the enterprise scale side with WooCommerce as well, too. So that's the evolution from the early days of what we were doing and what a lot of people in WordPress were using, to where we all just kind of gathered around WooCommerce, because it really was the best solution. And really it still is the best solution in terms of a WordPress-powered eCommerce plugin and platform.
Not knowing how much of your projects are eCommerce sites, has there been an obvious growth because of the popularity of more people wanting to sell online? Was there any particular times you felt like it bumped up significantly? Or have you just kind of gone with the flow and have it there as an availability, but don't really necessarily always push it over everything else?
I look at when our company is building a website or doing a project. We don't like to make decisions on what's going to be used until we really sit down and understand the goals of the project. I think going into a project and saying, "Okay, it's, eCommerce. We're just going to use WooCommerce," isn't doing necessarily justice for your client, right? Maybe it should be WooCommerce and there's probably a strong chance we will recommend WooCommerce, but we want to understand the goals.
Like what are they trying to accomplish? What is the uniqueness to their business or their products or their sales cycle that we need to factor in that the system needs to support? All of these questions that come up. And there's a lot when you get into eCommerce, as you can imagine, that you need to ask and talk about to determine if that is actually the best option.
In terms of WordPress, if we're leaning towards a WordPress-centric solution, then WooCommerce is our go-to. Wait, I take that back. We've done some Easy Digital Downloads as well, which we also really like. Again, it's got a very specific area that it excels at. But by and large, WooCommerce when you're selling products and things like that is our go-to. But we'll also look at external systems too, things like Shopify, BigCommerce. We used to look at Magento. We don't really look at that as much anymore.
Again, we just want to make sure we're putting the right system in place for the client based on what they're looking to accomplish. Not just saying, "You're going to be WooCommerce. Now what do you want us to build?" Like that may not be the best option. But by and large, usually it is, so.
The top thing that Brad considers when deciding whether to use WooCommerce
Hey everyone, just wanted to give you a heads up that the new Do the Woo will be launching in early October. Because of this, we currently have WooCommerce.com as our single sponsor. I would like to thank them personally for their continued support and encourage you as a builder to check out their new developer resource portal. It’s chock-full of incredible documentation. You can find it at developer.woocommerce.com. And now back to the show.
Bob: I'm going to just throw in one thing I hadn't thought of previously. Is there anything you find when you're making your decisions and you're looking at a WordPress site and WooCommerce fits the mold just fine. But from your perspective in the enterprise world, anything missing with WooCommerce?
Brad: Yeah. Good question. Prior to me starting WebDevStudios I was a developer and at a large eCommerce store. And I worked my way up to director of IT at that company. So my background prior to WordPress and open source was eCommerce, and it was eCommerce running a physical warehouse of products and shipping out products. We sold batteries, batteries.com. Like the most boring product you could probably sell.
Bob: Everyone needed one.
Brad: Yeah. And of course this was like 15 years ago. So everything had a battery that could be replaced. Now it's a much different world, right? Like most batteries you don't replace. You just replace your device, which is kind of weird. But it's just the evolution of technology, right? So that's my background. I understand a lot of the challenges that come with that. Like having a warehouse and having an eCommerce platform. Taking the order is great, but what happens after the order has been placed, right?
And that's where you really get into some complexities. Those order details need to go into the warehouse. They need to go into whatever system they're using to pick the order. Then the warehouse, when they pick the order and it generates a shipping label and spits out that it's shipped, it needs to go back and update the eCommerce site to tell the customer that. Like, "Hey, your order shipped. Here's a tracking number. It's on time. Blah, blah, blah." So that whole relationship between eCommerce system and warehouse is one of those things that I always flag if it comes up of that is a serious complexity that we need to dig into a little bit more.
So WooCommerce could definitely support warehouses, but it's all about what system they're using. Because WooCommerce is not going to be their warehousing system; WooCommerce is just going to interact with it, right? And then there's even more complexity. What if you have multiple warehouses, right? What if you have more than one warehouse?
Forget Amazon, because that's too big to even wrap our heads around. But if you're just a store that has maybe a west coast and east coast warehouse, are the products the same in both warehouses? Probably not. Maybe they are, maybe they're not. Maybe there's some overlap. It has to figure out what warehouse things need to go to, what things are shipping and how you're syncing inventory across multiple warehouses. And so when you start getting into complex setups like that, that's where I start the question of if WooCommerce is the best solution.
Is it doable? Yes. I mean, you can do anything with open source. But is the cost and time going to justify the outcome? Do you want to spend six figures on us building a custom solution to do exactly what you want, or would you rather use something like BigCommerce. Or even maybe a Magento that has some of this stuff built in? So the warehousing one is one that stands out.
Obviously SMB, its not usually a consideration. If they have a warehouse it's probably in their garage and they're shipping out of their garage. Or you're started getting to midsize and certainly at an enterprise level, that's a doozy. Another one's just inventory.
You know, we set up, I mentioned, that multimillion dollar system. It was for a grocery chain and you can imagine we had to track all the inventory of a grocery store. And grocery stores, just envision your local grocery store, and most people, we probably go to a decent sized grocery store. There were tens of thousands of individual products and SKU's at that store. So tens of thousands of products at a single location and the inventory is updating daily sometimes. Right? So now you're talking about how do we keep inventory in sync at that scale on a nightly basis? Then you're opening up another can of worms.
We did it in WordPress, but we really had to evaluate if that was going to be the best solution or not. In this case it was and we made it work and it worked well. But you know, certainly on the enterprise side, when you start getting intoit, there's going to be some complexities. And a lot of it's at scale, right? It's like, okay, this will work if you have a thousand products, but you have 100,000 products. That might introduce some problems. So those are the things we kind of dig into and considerations where maybe WooCommerce isn't the best solution.
Bob: Yeah. Interesting stuff.
What Brad has learned by interviewing Woo builders
I'm wanting to do a little reflection on the podcast and some of the shows we've done here. Mostly because I think it's great to have the opportunity to ask each cohost something about what you learned from each of them. Because you've interviewed different people and you may have listened to other shows or whatever. But there's things that you're going to pick up that maybe another cohost or even myself don't pick up. What do you think is one of the biggest things you've learned about the Woo builder community overall in regards to the different guests we've had on?
Brad: Yeah, that's a good question. One. They're all crazy. No, I'm just kidding. I know a lot of developers and talk to a lot of developers, like you've mentioned I did the DradCast podcast. We talked to a lot of people and I just know people in the space. So I know a lot of very successful plugin developers, site builders, that aren't WooCommerce-specific. And I know a lot within WooCommerce, especially from talking on this show.
So I think the one thing about any kind of eCommerce, it's just there's more complexities, right? So I feel like anyone that we've had on this show that has a product or service, or specifically around WooCommerce. Those types of people like to solve, in my mind, more complex problems. And I don't know if that's why they're drawn to it necessarily, if that's just the nature of what it is. But there are more complex problems when you're working with eCommerce.
There's just more opportunities with eCommerce, because anytime you're selling a product that can help someone generate money you can charge more. There's a higher cost to that. If I can buy a plugin for 50 bucks and literally make that 50 bucks back by using whatever that feature is across a couple of sales. Like abandoned carts. We talk about abandoned cart all the time. If I can use a service or a plugin that contacts anyone that left a full cart but didn't pay, it gives them a 20% off coupon and they come back and convert. That's huge. That's huge. And it completely justifies the cost of that product or service and I'd never have a reason to cancel.
So there's a lot of really big opportunities and there's a lot of really big challenges. And I think a lot of the people we've talked too, by and large, they like to take on those challenges, regardless of how big or complex they may be or how convoluted or frustrating it may be. They'd like to take them on. It's just one thing that stood out is it seems like the people that we talk to, the people in the WooCommerce space are very, very much into solving complex challenges for their clients and for their customers, which I think is really, really cool.
Podcasting means learning new stuff all the time
Bob: That's interesting. Yeah. When I think back on that you're exactly right. One of the reasons I've done podcasts for as long as I have, especially when I'm with guests, is I'm always learning something new. And of course, with this podcast and a lot of them, I know for sure that I'm learning something new because I'm not a developer, I'm not a product builder.
And I'm guessing that there has been plenty of a-ha moments for you. That sometimes somebody will say something and you're like, "Wow. I never thought about that." Not that I'm asking you to recollect any of those, because I know I can't. I don't know if that's one of the things that you've also found talking to all these people, is no matter how much you do this stuff there's always going to be somebody bringing up something that you just go, "Wow. I never thought of it that way."
Brad: Oh yeah. For sure. It's technology in general, right? Like the technology moves extremely fast. And so if you're in the technology space, no matter what you're doing, you also have to do your best to keep up, right? Or you're going to get passed and you're going to fall behind and it's going to affect you and your company and your business?
So I think there's always opportunities to learn and to grow, especially from people that are in the trenches, that are doing this day-to-day. They're going to have seen stuff or come across stuff that I haven't, or even our company hasn't. I'm sure you hear stuff on occasion from time to time that's new to you. And you have to be always open to learning if you're going to be in the tech field, because if you're not you're in the wrong field.
I mean, like the stuff we're talking about, the stuff we're doing, some of it didn't exist even a couple of years ago. I remember when... this has been a little while now, but when responsive design first was all the rage. And this is like 2009, 10 when it was new and people were just starting to do it. And every WordCamp was starting to have someone talk about it. I was like, "That's amazing." It's like a game changer in terms of how we work with mobile and different screen sizes. And back then there weren't as many screen sizes necessarily to worry about. But now it's like, you can't even fathom how many different sizes of screens that are out there that need to work well.
And now, it's just what we do. Like everything's responsive. It's not even like, ""Oh yeah, we're going to make it responsive. Of course we're going to make it responsive. That's just what you do.
What episode or episodes have stood out for Brad and why
Bob: For sure.
Hey everyone, BobWP here and as I have been dropping hints here and there, my next iteration of Do the Woo is coming out soon. If you are a WooCommerce builder, you will want to be one of the first to know about this… I can reassure you that you are going to love it.
To get notified pre-launch, simply go to bobwp.com/V5 and sign up.
Let’s head back to our chat.
Now, all of our guests have been incredible. I mean, that's what I like about it. And we've had people that are very popular in certain ecosystems, whether it's WooCommerce or something else. And then other people that are just hardworking, plugin developers getting good product out there. Are there any one episodes that might stand out to you and why did it?
In-person chats about blocks
Brad: Yeah. You did prep me for this question, so I actually did some digging and I wanted to kind of go back and look at the different episodes I've been involved with. And a couple definitely stand out.
One, even though it didn't necessarily air the way we wanted it to air, the one with Darren stood out. He was at WordCampUS and Bob and I were there in person. And we spoke with Darren Eithier who is a software engineer at WooCommerce. So we're able to interview him in person. But we had to re-record because of some issues with the audio.
Just the fact that we were able to be there in person, even if it it had to be redone. It still it was a great episode. And it was interesting because that's when we first started talking about how WooCommerce team was looking to make the shopping cart and checkout process more block-based, using Gutenberg Blocks, which is one of the bigger initiatives to you use Gutenberg outside the editor that I've come across. And outside of the traditional editor, which I thought was super cool. So that one stands out.
The content marketing side of eCommerce
Another one that stands out as well, was all the marketing talk we had with Tavleen Kaur from WooFunnels. We talk about complexities with eCommerce, but the majority of eCommerce stores and stores running WooCommerce aren't that complex, right? Like you have product. you're going to ship it using some type of USPS or FedEx or whatever. You set up a payment gateway and, ta-da, you have a store. People can buy stuff, right?
So the real challenge comes, once you have a store how do you get people to come and buy stuff? And a lot of times we're talking about the store and different plugins that you can integrate, do this. But I think that was a really valuable conversation because we really focused on, "Okay, you have a store. Great. Now let's talk about marketing. Let's talk about sales funnels. Let's talk about abandoned cart."
Let's talk about all these different things that you can do to get people to come to your site, to see your product and, once they're there, to actually help convert them. Because that is the hardest part of an eCommerce store. Great. I have a product now, how do I get people to buy it? And that is the million dollar question that will never be answered, but there's a lot of little things you could do that gets you closer to answering that question.
And we cover a lot of really valuable nuggets of info just in the short 30, 45 minute interview that we did. That one stands out too. Because I don't think you hear a lot about that on shows like ours. They're talking about eCommerce. People just think about the store. Great. Get the store working is obviously important, but once it's working how do you get people to buy your product? And I have friends ask me this all the time. Like, "Here's my eCommerce store. What can I do to get more sales?"
And I'm like, "That's the million dollar question. If I could answer that and say, 'Do this, and you'll make a million dollars,' I'd be charging you a lot of money for that answer." So it's a good one. If anyone has not listened to it, it was episode 55.
Bob: Okay, cool. Yeah, that was a really good episode.
The decision to roll your own plugins
One question that occurred to me, or we talked to a lot of people that have built plugins and we've seen a constant theme in that usually, because a lot of them have agencies, and a need grew out of that. Now, your team has built some plugins as well. What made you decide to build the plugins?
Brad: Yeah. I mean, early on that's exactly how we released our first. I think I released maybe a couple of plugins early on, just messing around and trying to understand the process. But yeah, early on we definitely built some plugins for clients with the intention of releasing them. And with the client's full buy-in on that. So basically got funded to build the plugin for the client for a specific need.
Since we thought the plugins would also be valuable to other people, we released them to the public for free. And then the win for the client is if we're going to have a plugin out there with our name on it we're going to make sure it continues to work. Right. I don't want to plug it out there with my company's name on it that blows up your site. So that's the big benefit to them and they get credit and stuff for funding it and stuff like that. So that's how we got a number of plugins out there early on.
Most of them have done okay. Our real big plugin is Custom Post Type UI. That's the behemoth. That's, I don't know, the last time I checked like 800,000 active users, 800,000 plus. So whatever that means. But somewhere between a hundred and 900,000 active users. Five, six million downloads, you know? So that's been fun too, because obviously having that big of a user base definitely opens up some more challenges. You got to be even more careful when you release an update that it doesn't break hundreds of thousands of websites. But it's been cool to see that one grow over the years.
Bob: Yeah. Cool.
Well, I want to close this out with you sharing something, it can be personal or professional, that you don't think most of our listeners know about you.
Brad: I got one of each. I got one personal and one professional.
Something about Brad personally that you don’t know
So on the personal side, probably nobody knows this, but I actually won an ax throw in championship when I was like 17. Can you believe that? And this is before they had these ax throwing venues. This is before all that. This is in the '90s. And my dad goes to these historical reenactments, they're called rendezvous. It's like pre-1840 fur trapper, Indians. There's teepees and people basically live like they did back then for a week or two. And they have muzzle loader competitions. You shoot the old muzzleloader, the black powder in a musket. And then they have what they call hawks, but it's an ax throwing competitions.
I tried for years from when I was probably 12 or 13. Every year I was in this competition. Every year I'd get fourth, third, maybe a second place finish. And then when I was 17, the cutoff because once I turned 18 I had to go to the adult bracket and forget it. Those guys were really, really good. So it was my last opportunity and I won the gold.
Bob: Oh, wow.
Brad: And it's literally they would put a playing card in the middle of a cutoff tree stomp or something that they put sideways. You'd throw the ax into it. And it looked like a stoplight. It had three dots. And based on that, if you cut the paper it was like a point, but if you cut like one dot, it was two. But if you cut all three, I want to say it was four. Then if you cut it literally in half, it was like five points. And I did it. I cut a couple in half. I did really good and I won. And then I retired, because I wasn't going to go to the adult bracket. So that was it. That was the last time I competed throwing axes.
Bob: I was going to say, how did that skill workout for you in life? Did you use a later?
Brad: I mean, if there's some kind of apocalypse and I have to run around with a hatchet, maybe it'll come back to me like riding a bike. But I haven't really done it seriously in a long, long time.
A professional experience and secret revealed
On the professional side, well, this is a little advice I give people. I don't know if I've told this story or not and I'll keep it short. But essentially back when I was in the Marine Corps and I was just trying to get some experience building websites on the side, there was a morning radio show. I was in North Carolina and they were based in the Carolinas and they had a coming soon website for months. Like this was a brand new show that just started.
So one morning I got up early, at like six in the morning, and I called them. And I finally got through and they picked up and said, "Hey, what do you want to talk about?"
And I was like, "I want to build your website. Do you have a website? Because you've had this coming soon page up for how long? I will build your website for free." And they were all about it. I ended up building the website and launching it for them and did it completely free. And they just kept plugging me on the radio every morning. And I think I had a link back to our WebDevStudios at the time, which wasn't even an officially formed company. It was just a domain that I own. And that started bringing in some work very early on.
And the point of the story I like to tell people is sometimes you just have to go for it and you just have to ask. And the worst thing they can say is no, or we already have a website, or whatever. I did it just to get some publicity around the company and what we were doing. Did it for free and got a portfolio piece. And that was very early on, like 2000, 2001 timeframe. So before WebDev was really official.
I think it's a good story because people can realize that there might be some opportunities in their life if they're really trying to get into this where they can just say, "Hey, let me launch a site for you. You need a site or your site's terrible. Let me redo it for free." Just to get some experience. Get a portfolio piece. Maybe get a referral that they can help you out, because you helped build their site and that get sthe ball rolling.
Bob: Yeah. Cool story. Alrighty. Well, this has been fun putting you in the hot seat. I like it. It's something that I could get very used to, but we won't get too used to it.
Brad: Well, we may turn the ties on you one of these days, Bob.
Bob: Oh, God. Gang up on me, huh? Well, that'll be fun. Something to look forward to.
Anyway. Most people know where to connect with you, but for those few that haven't connected with you where can they find you?
Where to find Brad
Brad: So the company's WebDevStudios. You can always reach out if you have a project or something you'd like to talk about. I'm pretty active on Twitter, @willaimsba. So hit me up on Twitter. Y.
I mean, I really geek out on this stuff. I enjoy it. I'm always happy to help people. I think that's the open source mentality of this community, we're all in this together. And you know, a lot of people helped me get to where I'm at and I've always tried to give back however I can. So if I can help you out, reach out. Let's chat.
Bob: Very cool. Well, first I want to thank you. I've been fortunate, very fortunate, to have you as a co-host and looking forward to this next phase of Do the Woo and continuing it.
Brad: Yeah, likewise.
Bob: I want to thank you for, as I said, taking the hot seat. This has been fun.
Brad: This has been great. Thanks for having me, Bob.
Bob: All right, everyone. Well, make sure you visit WooCommerce.com, our community sponsor. They're always doing something over there. And again, we so appreciate their support. Looking forward to this next phase with them as well. Until next time, we'll see you next week where we will be speaking with co-host Mendel Kurland. So take care, everyone.
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