How to Build a Beautifully Designed Training Based Membership Website with WordPress with Melissa Love from the Marketing Fix

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By By WordPress LMS Elearning Expert Chris Badgett and Entrepreneur & Online Marketing Business Strategy Expert Chris Badgett on Teaching, Education, WordPress Development & Online Business., By WordPress LMS Elearning Expert Chris Badgett, Online Marketing Business Strategy Expert Chris Badgett on Teaching, WordPress Development, and Online Business.. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Learn how to build a beautifully designed training based membership website with WordPress with Melissa Love from the Marketing Fix in this LMScast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Melissa shares how she got started with design when she was 13 working for her parents business, and some awesome big ideas for creating great designs she has learned throughout her career.

How to build a beautifully designed training based membership website with WordPress with Melissa Love from The Marketing Fix

The Marketing Fix is a membership site where Melissa teaches website builders and business owners how to get on top of their marketing and make the process a whole lot easier. Melissa also founded The Design Space Co where she offers pre-built starter templates for getting a jumpstart with your website building and design process.

Often when building a website, course creators will find a demo site they like, install a template, replace images, fonts, and text, and then they’ll find it doesn’t look as good as it did in the demo. Melissa shares how she builds sites by first establishing a brand guide on paper and then drawing things out visually on paper with boxes. And then she will get into the browser and build out the site from there.

In this episode Melissa shares some great design tips, including the idea that including white space can give a feeling of luxury and that stops people from being overwhelmed. When she has run split tests on sites, in many cases sites that avoid white space have a higher bounce rate because they are overwhelming.

Divi is a popular theme in the WordPress space, and it is a common thing now to see child themes built for Divi that have CSS built in for things like the fonts, colors, global styling, etc. But 10 years ago when Melissa first got started with WordPress, the concept of purchasing a child theme was unheard of, and she was the first person to actually offer a child theme for sale to Divi users who wanted a boost getting off the ground with their websites.

To learn more about Melissa Love, be sure to check out TheMarketingFix.co and TheDesignSpace.co. She has made a big impact helping other designers build careers and offer valuable products and services. So if you’re interested in learning more, Melissa also has a Facebook group called The Design Space Lounge if you’re a designer wanting training.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:

You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the #1 podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest, Melissa Love. She’s from the Design Co and her-

Melissa Love:

The Design Space.

Chris Badgett:

… oh, thank you for correcting me. The Design Space Co, and then she has a membership site called The Marketing Fix which is amazing. It’s actually, in my opinion right now, is the most beautiful LifterLMS site I’ve ever seen. We’re going to talk about it a little bit later, but Melissa is a designer. One of the reasons I wanted to bring her in front of you, the course creators and membership builders out there is … You have just such a strong design aesthetic that is so good. How did non-designers … How can you help non-designers start thinking a little bit more about design? And before you get into it I just want to say … I heard this thing once in business … There’s the hipster, the hacker, and the hustler.

Chris Badgett:

So in LifterLMS I’m like the hustler, Thomas is the hacker, and we have a team bigger than that. But, we’ve never been super strong on the hipster, which is the design part. And then I see work like Melissa does and I’m like, “This is the hipster of the design talent.” How can non-designers level up?

Melissa Love:

That’s such a good question. I think I find again and again, because I have online courses where I teach students how to build their own website. What has normally happened in the past is, and this might resonate with anyone who has ever built a website. People just install a theme and start designing. The theme looks pretty good when you light it up, and then you put your own images in. Then you maybe change some fonts to your brand font, but you don’t have a plan, so you leave some of the fonts that came with the theme.

Melissa Love:

And then before you know it, you’ve got something that’s just a bit jumbled and you’re like, “Why doesn’t it look as good as the demo?” And it’s really demoralizing. I completely understand why people do that, but when I start a project it starts on paper. We flesh out-

Chris Badgett:

Like boxes and wire frame kind of thing? What do you mean by-

Melissa Love:

Oh no, no, way before that. We come up with a brand guide, and it has every font, every size for every … For mobile, for tablet, it has what a button will look like. It will have a style title, it’ll have a rough layout, and we make this brand guide before we go anywhere near the live site.

Melissa Love:

We then turn the brand guide into [inaudible 00:02:55]. I always do a homepage wide frame, which does start off with little boxes on paper. But then, I fully design it out and illustrate it so that it’s a finished article to sign off. And only then do we start to go over work in the browser.

Chris Badgett:

That is awesome. You always have … I’m looking at The Marketing Fix right now, I’m actually logged in looking at it. And you have … There is space, things aren’t compressed. How do you think about space? It’s even in your name, The Design Space. White space as a concept, how can a non-designer start to grasp it?

Melissa Love:

Well I think a lot of people are quite scared of white space, they have a natural desire to fill it with things that look [inaudible 00:03:40]. But white space actually is … I think of it as expensive real estate, it really gives a feeling of luxury. It stops people from feeling overwhelmed, so I’m a big advocate of negative space. I’m designing on a big monitor so compared to a lot of people, to the consumer, to the end user, it will probably feel more compact. But for me, I love that feeling of space and I think people shouldn’t be afraid of it.

Melissa Love:

I see people who are very intent, “I need to stick something in that gap, so I’ll put in a design element.” I’d rather use subtle variations and section color to break the page up, but then give lots of space.

Chris Badgett:

That’s cool. I think some of the reason people get stuck in it is, they feel like if it’s not above the fold they might miss it. But your sales pitch for The Marketing Fix, once I read the headline I just want to keep going. You have tons of white space. There’s even stuff I need to get to below the fold. How do you get people to not be afraid of that, or insure that the design and copywriting is going to make people want to go deeper?

Melissa Love:

Not enough white space makes people anxious, and I’ve split tested it with clients who were adamant that they want less white space. We split tested it, and there’s a much higher bounce rate usually. I’ve never had it come out the other way, there’s always a higher bounce rate on the cramped feeling page.

Chris Badgett:

Oh wow, that’s awesome. So-

Melissa Love:

Yeah. You just … You can prove it scientifically. I’ll test it, I’ll take all the padding out, good luck with that.

Chris Badgett:

I love that tip for people building websites for clients. Let’s look at that for a little bit. What’s been your journey as a designer, a website builder working with clients? That’s totally a pro move to … The client is not always right, and let’s do a split test to let the data prove my point, or whatever. That means you’ve been in the industry a while, to get to that point. What has your freelancing or agency evolution been like?

Melissa Love:

Well, I started out actually at the age of 13. My parents were graphic designers and-

Chris Badgett:

Oh wow.

Melissa Love:

… computers hadn’t been invented. So my mom literally had an IBM [inaudible 00:05:52], with the golf ball fonts. Then my dad would cut that up and stick it on a board, and then take it up to be blown up at the print shop to make it into a plate. Then he would bring back the blown up thing, and then he would cut it up and rearrange it into whatever it was. If you were making a form, he would literally do it with a pen, so it was kind of old school.

Melissa Love:

I was working in the business from quite a young age, and I thought it was so dull. There was no way I was ever going to be in that business. But, I did have a really good understanding of typography and font families and hierarchies and all the terminology that someone would use in print design.

Melissa Love:

Once you can do that, you never end up not being able to do that. Because people are like, “Can you design a wedding invitation for me?” “Hey, you’re good at design. Can you do posters?” So I kind of always kept my hand in, and then I went off and did all sorts of things in the travel industry, completely different industries until I had kids. And then of course I was like, “Well, maybe I should work from home.”

Melissa Love:

I was kind of freelancing, I built myself a website, and people kept saying, “Can you do that for me?”

Melissa Love:

I was like, “Oh yeah, I’ll have a go.” It was really early … Sorry, but my pet is running around.

Chris Badgett:

It’s all good.

Melissa Love:

It was the early days of the internet, so I think I probably used something like Wix or Moonfruit to build my first sites. Then WordPress exploded and I was like, “That’s really cool.” So I built some terrible WordPress sites and then I really started to develop my skills.

Melissa Love:

I was really spending a lot of money on coding, and I was really small at that time. And getting help from people who were good at CSS and I thought, “Enough, you need to learn this properly.” So I then spent a lot of time taking courses and getting help, and just learning through trial and error what works. And that’s a good-

Chris Badgett:

What year are we at, around this point?

Melissa Love:

This is about 12 or 11 years ago I’d say, 10 years ago, I was probably just starting to get into WordPress, and starting to really grow my knowledge. But of course, there’s so much now that you kind of accumulate over a 10 year period. In terms of data testing, I’ve got clients who are adamant that they want their sites to look perfect on a specific monitor type. I’m like, “Great, let’s look at the data.” Then you grow such knowledge that you can confidently say, “This is the right thing for you. This is not the right thing for you.” So over time, it’s been quite a long haul. But, I’ve been a WordPress specialist now for years and I love it.

Chris Badgett:

So, what was your client evolution? What types of clients did you work with, do you work with?

Melissa Love:

Well, I had a really lucky break. I was designing websites for anyone, my first website was for a pet shop, my second one was for funeral directors. I was charging £295, which is about $300. I thought I was-

Chris Badgett:

I sold my first website for $300, in 2002.

Melissa Love:

I thought I’d made it. And a friend came down, who is still one of my best friends, came down for the weekend, she was a photographer. She said, “Look at my terrible website. I paid some guy in the states $5000 for this, but I hate it.”

Melissa Love:

And I was like, “God, it really is bad.” $5000, that’s insane. So I built her a quick website over the weekend we were together. She went back and said, “Right. I’m on this photography course, it’s a really prestigious training academy. There’s loads of people in my course with all with no or terrible or no websites. I’m going to go back and tell them.”

Melissa Love:

So she rang me two days later and went, “My friend wants a website from you, and I’ve told her you charge £1000.”

Melissa Love:

And I said, “Are you mad? I can’t charge someone that money, that’s crazy.”

Chris Badgett:

Right.

Melissa Love:

She was like, “End of discussion.”

Melissa Love:

So I did that website, and then she then referred me on. I’d done about 3 or 4 people, and then the owner of that training academy, I met her. She was, “Right. Would you come and be a mentor in our flagship course, and teach people about branding and design.” So then, I had a really steady stream of quite high paying clients. By this point I think I was at £3000, and I was starting to-

Chris Badgett:

What year are we at here?

Melissa Love:

This was probably about 7 years ago.

Chris Badgett:

Okay.

Melissa Love:

So I was probably just about able to get the words out, “Yes, I charge £3000.”

Chris Badgett:

Right. Were you meeting these clients in person, or picking them up through the internet and never meeting them in person, or both?

Melissa Love:

At that point I was traveling up to the other end of the country four times a year to meet these special, the intake of this special group. And I’m also a photographer, so I started to become quite a specialist in that niche.

Chris Badgett:

Photography.

Melissa Love:

… started to get asked to talk at photography conferences. Then a couple of photographers who I really admired … I’d met them at a photography convention from the states. They’re very famous, asked me to do their branding and their website, and that was a really big deal. I didn’t understand how big a deal it was, until they launched it live on CreativeLive.

Chris Badgett:

Okay.

Melissa Love:

I was driving down … We were moving house, so I was driving down to the other end of the country with my kids. I saw I had 100 missed calls, what’s going on? When I finally got back on the internet, I had 3000 inquiries. It was insane, so I had to get my CMS guy to write little scripts I could bulk reply to them all, just to say, “Oh my God, thank you for contacting me.” That was the beginning of the craziness then, I’ve never … Those two people, that photography training school and the photographers … I’m still good friends with all of these people. They’ve been kind of like my fairy godmothers. Since then, I’ve had a waiting list of six months to a year, since forever.

Chris Badgett:

What’s your team like? What kind of roles, or do you solo operate? How do you do it?

Melissa Love:

Well, I have three or four people who play a part-time role in my business. But, I’m struggling because we’re launching the membership. That’s really taken off in a big way, so I’m about to hire a full-time VA, which I’m a little bit scared of, but I desperately know I need to do it. So, I have someone who does covers on all our support tickets, because we sell WordPress themes.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Melissa Love:

She’s amazing, and that’s been a big leap forward. That’s not how I start my day anymore, by answering support tickets. I have someone who does day-to-day inquiries. And occasionally I get people … I don’t take many clients anymore, probably five or six a year. There’s a lot more I want to concentrate on now, so I radically … which is a bit scary, radically reduced my client workload.

Chris Badgett:

So it’s been clients, software, and now a membership site. That’s a lot going on. Tell me about your relationship with Divi.

Melissa Love:

So, I was a really early adopter, so I was using elegant themes before Divi. When they released Divi I was like, “What is this magic? It’s amazing!” I’d been hand coding so much stuff, which is good. It’s great to have those skills. And I started using it and I was like, “This is crazy good! This is so easy.”

Melissa Love:

And, I had been selling templates for a couple of other … for Profoto, it’s the photography visited web. And for another platform, which is kind of the drag and drop, back then it was a flash cut from [inaudible 00:12:54], it’s now kind of amazing, a complete different proposition.

Melissa Love:

And I thought, “What if you could export some kind of child theme?” I hadn’t really seen where this was a thing, so I actually wrote to Nick Roach and I said, “Nick, you don’t know who I am but this is what I do. How would you feel if I was to publicly sell, package up a child theme, write a script to install it?”

Melissa Love:

And he was like, “Yeah, go for it. That sounds great!”

Melissa Love:

So I was the first person to ever do that, to sell any kind of Disney product.

Chris Badgett:

Oh really? Wow.

Melissa Love:

Yeah. I kind of announced it in this group, in the big group full of 40,000 people. People went kind of crazy, they were like, “$150, you’re insane! I could build something like that.”

Melissa Love:

And I’m like, “Go on then.” And of course, your average person cannot build a 12 page beautiful looking website. It’s going to take them days, and I’m saying, “Look, you can press one button and you’ll have this beautiful website for $150. With all the pages and everything, all the demo content right there, and you just have to replace the images and text.”

Melissa Love:

Some people were like, “Oh, I get that. That’s amazing.”

Melissa Love:

And other people were like, “This is a scam! Who would pay for that?”

Melissa Love:

And I’m like, “Well, you’re not my customers,” so it was this crazy moment where people suddenly went, “What?!” And then six months later it exploded and there was a marketplace. But, I was the one who kind of dropped the bomb, and it was hilarious. I knew there would be some major reaction to it. But, Nick and the team were always super supportive. I’ve met them, I went to meet them the last time they had a team meeting in Europe and they’re just a really great community. And, I’ve always kept in touch with them as a community.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. The Divi community is really amazing. Help me with my math … How many child themes do you have? Are there 50? I’m on the Design Space Co right now, looking at your children’s page.

Melissa Love:

Yeah. I think we’ve got 15 for Disney, maybe.

Chris Badgett:

15, cool.

Melissa Love:

They’re heavily photography-biased, but I’ve got a couple that are less so. I do quite a lot of work on that stuff.

Chris Badgett:

Doing work for photography clients, you’re a hard core designer so you’re not intimidated. But when I design websites, if I’ve got a photography, which I had before, I know their design aesthetic and their need is going to be tough to please, basically. You’ve really got to nail it, but maybe I’m thinking about that wrong.

Melissa Love:

Well, this is what happens. When you become a specialist, and I’m a really big fan of reaching down, it’s a topic I talk about a lot when I’m teaching people. The value of that, it allows you to position yourself as the expert, and then you become the least risk choice for somebody. So that’s stage one, if you’re talking about some guy you met who happens to work in an IT Department and builds websites on the side. Or, like your brother’s cousin who builds websites, which is how a lot of people end up finding someone to build their first website.

Melissa Love:

They will have some knowledge, but actually I can phone up the Operations Director of UK’s main photo printing lab, because I know him. I can say, “Hey, I’m not happy with your API. This isn’t really working for the way I’m trying to integrate with what I’m working on.” And he’ll go, “Yeah, no problem.” So, I have an intimate knowledge of everything a photographer needs in a website.

Melissa Love:

That’s stage one. You can have that and have terrible design aesthetic, and you can hire a graphic designer to at least design the front end. But then I’ve got the point where my sites are a bit out … They’re different, and they’re beautiful. And I’ve got the point where people aren’t really wanting … They’re saying, “Do what you want to do. I want you to let your imagination run wild, because I want a site that’s really striking that stops people in their tracks.” And then that’s great, because then I have a client who is basically saying, “Do what you like. I trust you completely. Do the branding process,” then when we work together to do the layout and she’s like, “Yep, absolutely no changes, just build it.”

Melissa Love:

If you can the technical trust, but then you have the design aesthetic that people want because you are known for that, then that’s the double whammy. That does take a long time to get there, I’m not … It’s taken me 10 years to get to that point.

Chris Badgett:

You don’t just pick a niche, you have to operate in it over time for a long time. That’s-

Melissa Love:

Yeah, and I do really hustle. I go and speak at five or six photography conferences a year, some are small. I go and speak to small groups and large groups. I’m not out there being a super star, but most wedding portrait photographers would possibly have heard of me. I don’t ever slack off, I’m still showing up at events and shaking hands and networking with people. I guest host here and doing podcasts, and I love that because you’ve got to market your business, right?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, marketing never sleeps. Tell us about the journey into doing course or membership sites for … Did you start by doing it for clients? How did you get into that type of platform, in building and designing those?

Melissa Love:

Oh, well I had a site that I built for someone, somebody who I still work with, who uses Lifter now. I think we used [inaudible 00:17:51], it was agony. It was ugly, this is seven or eight year ago, everything had … Or, at CSX, it was a record number of lines at CSX just making ugly lines.

Chris Badgett:

Okay.

Melissa Love:

I found it frustrating and clunky. This is before I was using Divi, so that’s why there was so much CSX. And then I got called upon to do … I ended up using a theme, an elements theme off ThemeForest for another-

Chris Badgett:

I use that one too. Was it called Academy?

Melissa Love:

Well, the site is called The Academy.

Chris Badgett:

Oh, okay. Well, there is an academy theme on ThemeForest from a long time ago. That’s how I got into it, I used that theme and that was the starting point. But go ahead.

Melissa Love:

And then I can’t remember … I think it was from my own site. When I first started selling courses, so three or four years ago I launched Site School which has subsumed now into The Marketing Fix. Because, I was selling all these themes and people were like, “Great, I love your theme but I don’t really know what I’m doing.” So I thought, “Oh, I’m going to do a course.” Which is pretty much, “This is how you customize a theme, and this is how you host it.” It was the A-Zed of how to build a website, and that was really good. I’ve had about 500-600 people through that over the last few years, and I used Lifter.

Melissa Love:

For the first iteration of it I was letting the defaults, still writing CSX. And then I got … A friend of mine, Sean Barton, who makes a lot of Divi modules and stuff, the CPT Layout Injector guy. He very kindly tweaked something, and suddenly I could start to build layouts using … So I’m a short code hacker, so you know I’m always asking the group, “Why isn’t there a short cut?” I only want to drop into a code module and then style it with Divi.

Melissa Love:

So, all the people have auto … I say the same with [inaudible 00:19:35]. Any auto-generated page that’s generated because it has a short code I’m like, “Brilliant, I can just start that wherever I like.” So, I took exactly that approach plus I was using Divi, if you’re familiar with it, they now have a theme that you can create a template for any custom post type. I was using plug-in to that, but then I was adding in … I’ve now added in advanced custom fields, so there’s really nothing I can’t build and have to have it auto-generated. I now pretty much build everything I want to, using the Divi Builder.

Melissa Love:

I’ve now got a building environment from Lifter that pleases me aesthetically, I can get there.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s awesome. Do you remember when you were starting the Site School, what you were doing? Were you looking for tools? Do you happen to remember how you found us, at LifterLMS? Or, what was it like at that time?

Melissa Love:

What I remembered finding out about it … Even then, it was a small group, which I remember joining because I had a lot of questions. I think I liked that the core, that I could play around with it for free to start with, to see I could push it to do what I wanted it to do. I was switching this client over from Landash and we quickly worked it out. Actually, he had quite a good text app. He had some budget, he didn’t mind buying WP Fusion. I don’t know what was around then. We had to build together. Anyway, it worked.

Melissa Love:

So obviously when it came to build my site I was like, “I’m going to use that.” I had a little wobble, because I hadn’t really got my head around the membership. Well, I had, I always had memberships that included lots of mini courses. But when I recently built The Marketing Fix, I just played around with it. I was thinking, “Should I go a bit more fully member-y, with Memberpress or something.” But I couldn’t see that it provided any advantage whatsoever.

Chris Badgett:

Before we get into The Marketing Fix, there’s an interesting debate, I’m just trying to think of how to frame the question. Loosely the way I think about it is, plug-ins are for functionality. LifterLMS is mostly functionality, and our design is really generic. And then hopefully themes come along, and talented people like yourself to design. In some ways it’s … Intimidating is the wrong word, but to know a really good designer like you is using our tool. I’m like, “Oh, the default design is really not that good.”

Chris Badgett:

We’re mostly the back end of functionality, the course is the reporting, the progression tracking, the user accounts, all that stuff is where we shine. But we live in a WordPress ecosystem where theme products and page builders and designers like yourself can make it beautiful, like you definitely did with The Marketing Fix. How do you think about, whether it’s LifterLMS or WooCommerce or whatever … How do you think about the different roles we all play to make a project come together successfully, from both a functionality and a design standpoint?

Melissa Love:

I think the basic theme, the basic functionality assigned to what Lifter looks like, it almost doesn’t matter anymore. Because, I found a way using custom post types and tools that work with custom post types to be in the building environment that I want, in the design environment that I want, which is in the Divi Builder.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Melissa Love:

I would say there’s probably two or three things I have to style. I have to style the login form with CSX, and the dashboard course grid. Which as you know, on numerous occasions talked about the dashboard and how it looks. But, everything else built in Divi. I’ve got-

Chris Badgett:

So you’re just using us for the functionality.

Melissa Love:

100%.

Chris Badgett:

That’s cool.

Melissa Love:

That’ why … I’ve even built my own couple of short codes before you had them. There were no next lessons, so I kind of hatched the short code together for those. So I was using that inner layout, so they’re nearly all there now. The only short codes that have appeared each time resolved a design problem that I used to have to either write something into the functions php. It’s taken … Slowly, slowly, slowly, these problems have disappeared. There’s one or two little things I’ve loved. Things like beautiful grid displays, like the grid or the essential grid don’t pick up the certain custom post types.

Melissa Love:

Once things like that start to happen, if the API becomes … It won’t matter then, and that is what I loved because then I can teach people. I’ve got a theme ready to go, which is going to be coming out in Divi and Elemental and interface with free LifterLMS, so people can at least not have to code and not have to use the auto-generated interface. That sounds bad, like I’m saying it’s terrible-

Chris Badgett:

No, it’s okay.

Melissa Love:

Any time someone has to start inspecting code and they’re not a professional designer, that’s not good for me as someone who sells themes.

Chris Badgett:

Right, that’s awesome.

Melissa Love:

I will be looking for ways to avoid that scenario.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that’s great.

Melissa Love:

For someone, for the average user who is building their own website.

Chris Badgett:

You’re kind of a unicorn, in the sense that heavy design skills, but can also get into the development and PHP and all that stuff too. That’s a super valuable combination, that a lot of people pick a side. But to be holistic and to also use the products you create yourself, it just gives you an incredible advantage and skillset. How did The Marketing Fix Co come about? And first, what’s the elevator pitch of what it is?

Melissa Love:

Yeah. I noticed … So, everything has come about just from demand from my community. So, I was selling themes but then realized that people actually wanted some education on how to build a website. Then I was teaching people to build websites, and I noticed that they were really then using their website as a marketing tool. So people were really overwhelmed by all the things they felt they had to do. They had to know about Facebook and Instagram and they weren’t using email marketing. They didn’t have their Facebook pics in, all the standard things that I do with a custom client.

Melissa Love:

People were just building their sites and they looked lovely, and then that was it. You just have this pretty shop window. I kept posts, I’ve got quite a big Facebook group that I use as a driver for a lot of growth. And nobody knew any of this stuff, I was starting to do little lives in my Facebook group. People were like, “Whoa! Mind blown, I didn’t know you could do that!” So I just thought, “Do you know what? I want a fairly low cost membership, where the people feel really supported.” My innovative pitch is, one thing, once a month, we do it together. I give them all the swipe files, everything they need, then we move on together as a community. So people don’t feel overwhelmed and-

Chris Badgett:

Who is the ideal customer, how would you describe them?

Melissa Love:

My ideal customer is a creative business, probably a one-man team or a couple. A lot of them are photographers, although that is changing, I’m branching out a bit. It’s either someone who has built their own website or they’ve had it built for them and they kind of know how to use it, but they really feel like they need to get to grips with it. It will be somebody who hasn’t done a lot of reading around the subject or digital marketing or online marketing. Their main marketing plan is organically and slightly randomly posting on social media, and wondering how they can drive traffic. So, they’re not really leveraging any of the text itself, and I can help you with that.

Chris Badgett:

That is awesome. What tools did you use … What has been the stack that makes The Marketing Fix possible?

Melissa Love:

Obviously Divi, active campaign, that’s my … You’ve probably seen my colleague, KPC, around-

Chris Badgett:

Oh yeah, she’s the active campaign marketing automation person right?

Melissa Love:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. She’s amazing, in fact, our kids go to school together, so she lives literally around the corner from me. I came home from a mastermind group in Nashville, it was this high level mastermind. They say, “Never be the smartest person in the room,” I was literally the dumbest person in the room.

Chris Badgett:

I do the same thing, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I shouldn’t be here.” But I learn so much.

Melissa Love:

What does that mean? I don’t know what that means. I came back from that and I said to Kay one day, we were sitting around the kitchen table and I was like, “I need to find a really clever person who go and let everyone know about Facebook ads and email marketing.”

Melissa Love:

She was like, “You know, I reckon I can have a go at that.” She’s a teacher, she’s marking exam papers and had a background in math and computing. I was like, “Okay, have at it.” So she worked really closely with me for a year, just really honing her knowledge and beating our systems into shape. Now I can barely get any time on her diary, she’s so sought after as this world renowned expert. She’s just amazing.

Melissa Love:

So, she’s driven a lot of this integration. We tie it all together with WPFusion, and that literally makes everything work, from conditional formatting to directing lessons, to the way our active campaign rewards. When people complete lessons and courses, they’re obviously our best performing students. They drive our Facebook audiences, it’s all so deeply integrated that it’s allowed us to make massive strides, in terms of the way we advertise and the way we target people.

Chris Badgett:

So correct me if I misspeak, or if I miss anything. You said, obviously using WordPress, using Divi, you’re using LifterLMS, you’re using WPFusion, you’re using Commerce. And, you’re using active campaign on the back. You’re using Facebook groups. Is there a Facebook group that you use for marketing, or just general community, and then a smaller one of your members, right?

Melissa Love:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

Anything else in the stack? Any other key plug-ins or anything?

Melissa Love:

We use Zoom to run our member webinars, and that’s really great. They’re not really integrated with anything. I thought about embedding it. My people here, my other clients do hang out on Facebook because they are lone workers, and they like the community aspect of … I visually like the way, because when I’m teaching it’s quite visual, Facebook groups for me are better than on-site forums. But, I’m about to build a site for a friend who … It’ll be with Lifter. What I’m looking for … She doesn’t know anything about it yet, but she needs a serious Facebook forum. I know the new integration coming up, I can’t remember what it’s called. But-

Chris Badgett:

Groups?

Melissa Love:

No, there’s a new integration you’re about to launch.

Chris Badgett:

Oh, BuddyBoss.

Melissa Love:

Yes.

Chris Badgett:

It’s not us, it’s another company. They make BuddyBoss, which is a social network for WordPress that has LifterLMS integration. It’s really beautiful, it’s a nice social network for your WordPress website.

Melissa Love:

Yeah. That’s going to be for something like 25,000 members, so I’m really going to push it with that next build, I think, to see if I can really push a high volume site.

Chris Badgett:

Well, I’ve seen LifterLMS being used on 40,000 member sites. Lifter can hang in there and-

Melissa Love:

Yeah. Is that David Momo?

Chris Badgett:

Not that one. I mean there’s more, there’s another one. I’m aware of him but I didn’t know his numbers or whatever. What do you use for hosting? I’m just curious. Or, maybe you use a couple different ones.

Melissa Love:

No, I’m with SiteGround at the moment.

Chris Badgett:

SiteGround, awesome. Well, I wanted to get into the stack. Obviously, The Marketing Fix Co has beautiful design, but what I loved the most about it … And this is really the brilliance of Melissa Love, you’ve said it in different ways which is, you put the customer at the center of your business not your product. So when your customers needed training on how to use your child themes and whatnot, you created training. So you keep surrounding your ideal customer with things to support them and help them achieve their goals.

Chris Badgett:

So when I look inside your membership site, you have courses, library, fixes, calendar, and perks. Can you go over the stack of what all those things are, and why you chose them?

Melissa Love:

Well I’ve got to admit, I’ve had some really good help. In terms of, I belong to a couple of memberships myself, which have … One of them is The Membership Academy, by the Membership Guys, and I-

Chris Badgett:

They’re great, they’re fantastic.

Melissa Love:

… amazing. So, I went to the live event last November, no last September. I was kind of [inaudible 00:32:09], because I’ve got a few clients that I was building membership sites for. Thinking, “Yeah, that’s not for me. I’m happy teaching my open cart evergreen courses.” And I left after that weekend going, “I’m starting a membership site.”

Chris Badgett:

So they inspired you to pull the trigger.

Melissa Love:

All right, this isn’t what … I’d been feeling for a while that I wanted to roll up all my courses into a membership, but I didn’t quite know how to do it. But that weekend at their event I kept meeting people. Every time you went for a coffee break you’d meet some amazing person. I’d say, “What do you do?”

Melissa Love:

They’d go, “Oh, I teach people how to win ultimate frisbee.”

Melissa Love:

And I’d be like, “Really? How many members have you got?”

Melissa Love:

“Oh, 800.”

Melissa Love:

You’d be doing the math going, “That’s amazing.”

Chris Badgett:

Well you like niches right?

Melissa Love:

Yeah. So it was a room full of people who were really niche experts, who were making great money and were really passionate about what they did, and had these amazing communities. I knew that my community, I wanted to transform it and really make it more inspirational. So I kind of went away from that thinking, so I do a membership. I joined another membership which has been really instrumental, which I love, called Atomic, and that is Andrew and Pete, who are brilliant marketers.

Melissa Love:

The best of both of those dashboards, I shamelessly stole ideas. I love to subscribe to the Atomic calendar. Both of them had a Members Perks area. The dashboard that I’ve come up is how I would want a dashboard would to be, but I wanted a library of files so if you need to get something done and you do a monthly training with us, you just go to the library and you can download the template.

Chris Badgett:

This is cool. I just want to park on that, and this is just another way of you surrounding your customer with support. I think I noticed in there, there was Canva templates, for making an e-book, or whatever.

Melissa Love:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

So you keep solving what David [inaudible 00:33:53] from WPN calls the most annoying problem on the internet. Which is, you buy something and then you have a blank screen, so you’re accelerating the path. What other kind of files are in there?

Melissa Love:

So, there’s Canva templates, there are things like … There’s a Divi layout. You know when you go to the link in your Instagram bio and people use LinkTree?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Melissa Love:

That’s really glitchy, so I’ve made a special little Divi layout, instead of LinkTree which you can just … So things like that, that are annoying little problems that you actually don’t quite know how to tackle, I’ve said, “Here, have this.” So whenever we do a training, and we do our live training … Yesterday we had a training on email marketing and people were saying, “Yeah, but what I really need is a video showing me how to connect to gravity forms and [inaudible 00:34:43] and 17 hats. How do I make all of those three things work with gravity forms?”

Melissa Love:

I was like, “Fine. Today I’m making a video on that, and that will go into the library.” I might then put in the library put a snippet on how to style your gravity form, a CSX snippet. So that’s the kind of thing we will put into the library, just if there’s any problem, any friction, that’s stopping my community moving forward, getting the job done and moving forward, that’s what goes into the library. These little things which make life a lot easier.

Chris Badgett:

How do you think about the difference between courses and these trainings or webinars that you do, both yourself or with outside experts?

Melissa Love:

So yeah, we have the core courses and … This is interesting actually, I would actually love to have the fixes. I’ve actually created them in monthly trainings, I’ve created a custom post type for them, because I could find a way to lay them out the way … If I’d done them as courses, I couldn’t find a way to lay them out, it was visually how I needed them to be. So at some point I’m hoping there will be a way to do that, and I can then convert those custom post types actually to courses.

Chris Badgett:

Are you saying because it’s a hour long training, versus these short step-by-step courses? They’re a little different, is that what you mean?

Melissa Love:

No. It’s because I … They are one off trainings, but a good example is, yesterday in the run up to prepping for yesterday, I realized that in an hour I couldn’t actually cover everything I needed to do. So, we had a training called The VIP Require Experience yesterday, it was … How do you, when someone selects your contact forum, what happens after that in a 14-21 day period, to make you famous to them? To make them trust you as an expert? To be the person they want to book with? So, how do you convert them from [inaudible 00:36:27] price driven person to a fan who wants to book you?

Melissa Love:

So some of it was automation, some of it is personal marketing touches, some of it … It’s all sorts of things. And I thought, “We can cover the discussion in an hour, but I can’t cover everything.” I physically need to show them how to set up a re-targeting ad for Facebook, some of it’s very detailed. So what I’ve done is, the monthly training goes into the library as a monthly training. I’ve quickly busted out a mini course in Lifter, which now appears in the courses area, and that’s got all the steps one-by-one.

Chris Badgett:

Nice. How do you use your calendar? You have a calendar in there, and I guess you have live trainings going. You have a lot for people to keep track of, is that … Why was the calendar born? I love it, I think it’s super cool. And what tools are you using for that?

Melissa Love:

Well, I went through a lot of testing here. First of all, I had a plug-in event, I think it was. And then I tried the events calendar. But, I needed one where you could subscribe to all events with one click, and that was the only thing … None of them could subscribe to individual events, but I needed people to see on there, whatever calendar tool they use, Google Calendar or iCal, all the events. We have a monthly training, we repeat that training the next day in the evenings, for people who are in a different time zone. I just play it, but then I come on at the beginning and the end to live host it and answer questions.

Melissa Love:

We also in the other two weeks when we don’t have live training, we do a live Q&A, it’s kind of like a mastermind hot seat. You bring any problem to the table and we all dive in together on Zoom and try and solve it. So, I needed people to not miss events and eventually I found a subscription site, I think it’s $7 a month, it’s called Tawdufy. It’s the embedded Tawkufy calendar which … and it had to sync with my Google calendar. So, if I had to schedule guest experts and stuff. Oh, that was like a whole day of research to get that, and I also needed it to look nice, which is always my #1.

Chris Badgett:

I love your approach, it’s not like, “It’s time for me to go shopping for tools.” You always have this job to be done or friction or pain to get out of the way, or to help your target customers speed up or accelerate. It’s a different approach that’s very refreshing and not as common as you might think. What about the perks? Are these pro, special discounts that you’ve negotiated with other tools that they need to be successful in your program, that kind of thing?

Melissa Love:

Yeah. That’s going all the time. I can’t teach everything, I’m not a marketing expert about everything, so I bring in experts. As our expert sales, I’ve got a Facebook ads person. When pay comes in, I’ve got an Instagram person. When they come in they can put a perk in the library, which is as it should be. Then common tools-

Chris Badgett:

So there’s a benefit to them coming to teach for free kind of thing? Like, they’re getting exposure and they get a link with people that are going to be interested in them.

Melissa Love:

Not everyone teaches for free, there’s some things there that I wouldn’t have gotten for free. So yeah, it’s perks you can’t get somewhere else, you can only get them if you’re a member.

Chris Badgett:

That is super cool. What would you say has been the impact of LifterLMS on your life and your business?

Melissa Love:

Well, this is really phenomenally … Teaching and leading a community has been a huge shift away. It really makes sense, all the things I do, it makes sense of all the things I do. The themes, the how-to, and now the community and the marketing, it all seems to fit together in a really nice hole. I couldn’t have done it without a tool like LifterLMS. If that didn’t exist, I’m sure I would have hacked together something similar. But actually I really look for … Oh, let me try and stop that phone from ringing.

Chris Badgett:

Sure, no problem.

Melissa Love:

So one thing that I really look for in a community is, that it’s friendly and inclusive. So, I have met everyone on the Divi team in person. The ShowIt team I know, the [inaudible 00:40:29] team I’ve met in person. I go out of my way to make friends with people whose tools I am a heavy user of. So, I couldn’t see that personal touch in of the other communities, and I could in yours, and that was what really attracted me to it. I thought, “Actually, this is a community that listens.” Chris listens, he’s there in a pinch, he’s very present. That’s how I run my community, so that was, for me, the deciding factor.

Chris Badgett:

Wow, that’s great to hear. Thank you for that. Maybe we will meet in person in Portugal at work camp.

Melissa Love:

Yeah, that would be amazing.

Chris Badgett:

That would be cool. What’s next? You’ve got The Marketing Fix, and that’s … How is this project going to evolve? Are you just going to keep adding value, keep bringing in experts? Is there something else you’ve got planned after this? What’s happening in the next 1-3 years, if you know?

Melissa Love:

Yeah. I’ve got a little … I always have a master plan. But obviously I want a greater membership, and I have a figure in mind which I think would be kind of a good balance. Obviously, we can keep adding value with every month that passes. So, there’s always something new. Allison who is coming in to do Facebook ads, in six months time I’m going to want her back again, because a lot will have changed.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Melissa Love:

The membership is something that people … I want them to be a member forever, because things are always changing, there’s always new value, the library is going to grow. And our community … You’ve been in our group now, and it’s just so lovely. People are really open about what they share, it feels like a really safe environment. And people have told me … I’m not starting to … When I go to conferences and things, this is my next big thing. I’ve been meeting quite a few members in person, and we do lots of fun things like Member of the Month and they get a gift. I want to do more of that.

Melissa Love:

So my next thing will be some version of the Multi-fix Live. There will be a live event later this year.

Chris Badgett:

Like a small mastermind retreat? Or, it’s a value ad to what you’ve already got going that’s included, or whatever?

Melissa Love:

I’m going to ask the membership and they’re going to tell me what they want, then I’ll do. That’s what I do, I always see what they want.

Chris Badgett:

That is brilliant.

Melissa Love:

I think we’ll be open to … I’m looking … In my head I’m looking at two days, one day that’s open to non-members too and I’ll bring in some speakers. Then a second day, which is members only mastermind, limited number of places.

Chris Badgett:

That’s cool.

Melissa Love:

I don’t know, I need to survey the community and do what they want.

Chris Badgett:

I love that. It’s not about pushing product, it’s about listening and pulling, and hearing where the friction is and what they want. Who else are your influences? If somebody wants to level up on design, what are some resources that have had a bid impact on you? Maybe books or just people to follow on YouTube or whatever?

Melissa Love:

Well in the early years, there were a lot of design blogs I followed. My big one was Spin Graphics, Chris Spooner.

Chris Badgett:

Okay.

Melissa Love:

He was a huge influence of mine. I remember quite early on I reached out to him and said, “Listen, I’m thinking about launching things. As someone who has monetized what they do successfully,” I remember reading his about page and it said, “I’m not taking on any new clients because I’m busy running Spoon Graphics.” And I was like, “Oh my god, you can make money off the internet.” I was like, “This is a thing, you don’t have to just work with clients.” So that really kick started me, I’ve been following so many of his tutorials.

Melissa Love:

That day when I was going to launch something, I reached out to him and he replied. He was so kind and said, “Look, do this, here’s my advice,” blah, blah, blah. I remember I met him at a design conference about two years ago, I was like, “Oh my god, I’m such a massive fan!”

Melissa Love:

He was like, “But I know who you are.” He was like, “You’re an internet entrepreneur now, you did it!”

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome.

Melissa Love:

Such a big … It was like meeting a rock star, so a couple of people like him really influenced me. He’s got impeccable design skills as a graphic designer, but he also runs Line 24, he’s a coder as well. So I was like, “This is amazing! You can be both!”

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Well, I’m going to … We’re going to do a quick lightening round, just for fun. So short, punchy answers. What advice do you have for people who are making a featured image for their course?

Melissa Love:

Be consistent. I just moved on to big square images. I don’t know if that’s the kind of-

Chris Badgett:

No that’s it, that’s what I’m looking for.

Melissa Love:

Okay.

Chris Badgett:

What … You know, a lot of people who create courses in membership sites work from home. As a designer, if you’re listening to this podcast episode I’d encourage you to come on over to the YouTube version, LifterLMS YouTube channel. I can see your office, it’s beautiful. How can we design our workspace to be more inspiring, less stressful and more creative?

Melissa Love:

If you can, try and make a little space your own. For a long time I was working in a spare bedroom, and it never … And one day I went away and my husband kindly moved me into a very tiny room in the house, which previously was some kind of storage cupboard. But it was all painted white and it was really beautiful, it was my little space where I could close the door behind. So if you can find it, carve out a little space somewhere, even if it’s just a corner of a room. Maybe put up a screen and paint a square of the floor. I love coming into my office, and these days I’ve got a whole big room and it’s lovely. But, I started small in a tiny corner, but I always made that corner my own.

Chris Badgett:

What role do words and copywriting play in design?

Melissa Love:

Oh, massive. In fact, I work really closely with a copywriter and she does her best work when she can see a layout from me, so she can infer the personality of the design.

Chris Badgett:

Does the copy come before the design process, or they kind of work together, how does it work?

Melissa Love:

They very much work together. We were just chatting about that the other day, because the client I’m working with today, she got the copies through. And I know that my copywriter, Kat, was saying, “Yeah, but I need a bit more. I’d like to see where I’m on scale with this.” I’ve now just sent through the first draft. She’s like, “My mind’s on fire, I’ve got it!” So she can now do the second iteration, because she can see the personality of the design. I know that’s not helpful because not everyone works with a copywriter, but we both do our best work when we’re working in rounds together at the same time.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Well Melissa Love, she’s at The Marketing Fix.co. She’s also at The Design Space.co. Thank you for being a shining example of somebody using LifterLMS. And really, you’re the reason we do what we do but more importantly, your customer or your learner is who I see ourself serving. You’re making a bid impact and you’re helping other designers, which is a beautiful thing. You’re helping people build careers and be able to create these valuable products and services, so it’s a beautiful thing. Any final words for the people, or any other ways people can connect with you?

Melissa Love:

Yeah, I’ve got a Facebook group called The Design Space Lounge. If you are a designer wanting some … I’ve got a ton of training for you guys. There’s another Facebook group called Grow Your Web Design Business with Melissa Love. Just come into a couple of my free groups, there’s so much, there’s so many Facebook lives we’ve done. We have guest experts into all of those groups, design experts. Just come and connect with me online, follow me on Instagram. I’ve got so much free content I can give to you, which I happily will do.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Well thank you so much Melissa, we really appreciate it.

Melissa Love:

Oh, it’s a pleasure. I’ll see you soon. I’m looking forward to releasing a Lifter theme soon, so no doubt we’ll be chatting lots.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that sounds great.

Chris Badgett:

And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the #1 tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to LifterLMS.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results-getting courses on the internet.

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213 episodes