Decision Pints - Chris Shattuck

By ndadmin on 02/23/2018

In this episode we learned about Chris Shattuck - Open Source Community Influencer, Entrepreneur, and International Celebrity.  He self-started a web design and development agency, subscription product selling training on Drupal, and a number of other ventures.

Jason:             Welcome to another episode of decision pints. Today's special guests, Chris shaddock with implied by design build a module and a number of other ventures. Uh, we're, we've got locally brewed Kombucha today. And next episode I will actually have the name of who makes it. We picked it up at blue sky bagels. Thanks for joining me and talking. 

Chris:          Thank you. I've been excited to drink this. The, the past 10 minutes we've been sitting here. Yeah, Tangerine Ginger. It's pretty good. Yeah. 

Jason:              So this is a show about making things happen and the people who do it and there's so much to talk about. We'll pack it into a small segment here, but I'll start with a small story of being new to Boise, a loving open source and kind of entering into the drupal community, which is one of the best in the world. And we saw there was a meetup and so a gentleman that helped start nerdy dragon and I. Tyler said, Hey, let's go to a meet up. He asked a few questions and you're the guy on the IRC chat responding and we get to fuddruckers. And we started talking about drupal and by the end of it we just felt like your best friend, you're so welcoming and a great steward of the drupal community, but that's just one small part because come to learn, uh, as we would do seo on our site looking for drupal work, there is implied by design and we didn't know that was your company building all these great sites. 

Jason:              Then, uh, we as we're learning more about dribble there is build a module dot [inaudible], but it's not just learning about drupal, it's all these fancy features of being able to search for what you want through text and having it go right into the spot on the video. And then it's not just that we see invitations to all these social events that bring families together with their kids to play or go into watch. Good bad movie nights. And so the list goes on and on. You've got an impressive tie towards the community. And, uh, how, how did you get moving and why are you so good at connecting with people? 

Chris:          Well I think it's being an only child. Like so, like when you grow up a loan, you've got to figure out how to entertain yourself and, at some point also I figured out that I was socially inept and one of the ways to sort of combat that was trying to connect with people, you know, like I like having conversations with random folks and just just trying to, I don't know, trying to connect. So I don't know if it was being an only child, but it's also something I like. I like people, I like connecting with folks. So, you know, being part of a tech community, uh, which, you know, finding drupal, like you said, it's, it is a great community. I've even heard that from other people in other communities, but, you know, it's a, it's a great way to connect with a lot of diverse people. 

Chris:          So in the different things that I've done, like I try to incorporate elements that will allow me to continue to meet people and get exposed to like the variety of ways of being that are out there. Maybe build a module, could have a companion, build a dialogue and builds a friendship. Uh, put some great cuts that you could do that too. So this actually leads to another fun story. I had a friend who went to college with. He moves to Malta all the sudden on skype, which was new back in the day. I get this. Notice that, hey, I ran into somebody who knows you in Germany, I think it was or somewhere a holly, Sweden, maybe 16. Yeah. It was like, wow, what a small world. This is a. So obviously you are incredibly well connected. We wanted to go to drupal con and then we started doing some research and there you are sponsoring it year after year after year. 

Chris:          A really built up quite a, a, an immense guess base of friends and fans and followers in the drupal community. So let's hear a little bit more about how you got started into drupal specifically with your agency and then moving into how you discovered build a module, which is really a model of what people want to do. Build residual income from a subscription base, delivering value. And be able to pursue all these other passengers. Sure. I guess getting involved in drupal initially had to do with me like it's a common path. People come to drupal after having built something like drupal and then discovering how hard it is to maintain it and uh, and, and you know, some people get to the point where they build an open source project and they try to get people involved. And that's Kinda the point where I was at. 

Chris:          I was ready to try that. And then like I learned about open source a deeper and I learned that there were all these different content management systems out there. They were already way ahead of where I was. And so, I, I decided on drupal just on a recommendation from a friend and I standardized all my projects on it instead of, and moved away from the thing that I had made. And so that opened up some different opportunities. So one, uh, it'll allow me to standardize on something that other people were continually like bug fixing and updating, which was super cool. Uh, it allowed me to contribute back to it. So I was able to build modules and have other people benefit from them and that was really, I mean, that feels really good, like being able to participate to waste like that with something normally we're just consuming, right. 

Chris:          Over time, I started getting projects that were specific for drupal and the specificity meant that there were higher budgets, like people knew the landscape of what was available and they decided on this thing and uh, they were eliminated people doing it and there's been like a, a deficit of drupal developers ever since I became part of the community. So you can, you can get paid more. I'm doing drupal work rather than just doing generic quick. So, so that was encouraging me, like, uh, just continue to stay in bed and have a good reason to be embedded in drupal and then the transition and build a module on how to do with wanting to switch to a product based model from consulting because consulting, is fantastic but a, it limits your ability to go deep into something usually, unless you have like one big client. 

Chris:          So I want it to be able to go deep. Then I also wanted to increase my revenue potential and with a product you have that you have like a, a uh, potentially a more scalable method of, of getting income. So, uh, I started putting together some video tutorials, package them up in a way that had a pay wall and people started buying them, which meant there was a market for it and then I was able to continue doing that. I'm a pretty quick, like I met a point where my revenue met my expenses and then I was able to just concentrate on that full time and it's been a lot of fun. Like going deep into it. Like you said, I've had a chance to build like little components and tools to help optimize the process of learning through video. And that's been, it's been nice having that freedom to be able to focus on that. 

Jason:              Yeah, they're great videos, great education and it's the, it's the, the Rich Dad, poor dad, the common build that subscription base following exactly what you've done. So I think we all want to mimic the Chris Shattuck here, not only in being good stewards of the community, being friendly to others, but also in a structuring the business and taking your passion into something that sustains your, uh, your life economically. Uh, it's, it's great stuff. And it reminds me that, uh, we had actually been working in drupal and all of a sudden this navigator modules like, Oh, this is the best high level imaginable, and then come to find out who started that and wrote it, maintained it. So, uh, yeah, until it got removed from the database of modules due to security flaws that's still using to that far. But I might still be using it, but, 

Chris:          you know, I feel like I can take that risk. I don't want. I don't want you to be responsible for you getting hacked. 

Jason:              Yeah. It's good stuff. So as I was refreshing here, I clicked and that's just one of many modules that you've contributed to, uh, which, which is fun to see. And uh, also motivating to be a better part of the community and contribute back whether it's documentation or writing code. Uh, but yeah, great, great stuff there. And that's a fun module. So let's talk about that point where you, you saw there's a market for this because I'm, I'm my mind, I'm picturing you, you're like at a Home Office and you've got your laptop and you got your headset and you get your microphone and you're like just recording videos and hoping something good could come from this and then you find out, wow, okay, this is much better than maybe I even thought. Or what was that process like from that starting out to realizing that I need to jump in and really make this my commitment? 

Chris:          Well, I think, maybe something that made my approach a little different than maybe the majority is that I didn't start with free content. So I pre produced videos with the full intent of selling it or selling access to it. So that meant that from the beginning, like I designed the, the videos to be part of packages and uh, to be part of a website that would be accessed in a, through a subscription. Well, at the, at the, at first it was just like by this video series, and you have access to it forever or buy for $50. You get like the whole thing for forever. Right. So it transitioned eventually into a subscription model, but I didn't know how to, how to do that yet. They, it was a lot easier to have a payment system where you buy things once instead of having recurring. 

Chris:          Because what year is this? Just would've been like 2000, two or three. Wow. Okay. Going back that far. Yeah. There you're like no. 18. No, no, like, I'm, I'm, I'm skipping a decade. Maybe 2012. Okay. I always go into the who is like, when did I start this? And then it go. Who has built a module that comes out? Okay. It was around them, you know, I never quite remember.  But maybe like seven years ago. So, I went into it expecting to it to be a product. And so when I put it out there, put the word out there like, Hey, I have this thing. The only way to get to it was through, through paying for it after watching a few initial free videos and so, so I could tell quick like whether people would pay for it because either they did or they didn't. 

Chris:          Rather than having to gauge on free content like what people's interests with the. And so some people actually bought it and they didn't ask for their money back, which I, I was just waiting like everyday. I was just like, surely they've watched the video by now and they're done. You know, they're like, oh, this guy is very stinky if you weren't thinking this is the best though. I know. They like when I go back I'm like, oh my gosh, these are the worst. Right? Like you'll go back to like your early decision client videos and you'll say, oh my gosh, I can't believe but, but, but you have enough good parts of it that I think that it will be successful. I think people will enjoy watching it. They will enjoy watching you. You'll have enough good pieces, but over time you will refine it and you'll get to the point where it's like, you know, closer to flawless. 

Chris:          But that takes time. It takes feedback and, you know, whatever. So the, that, that transition was about seeing people buy it and thinking, okay, I've got 30 videos now that cover this, you know, small chunk of subject matter. What would happen if I had a couple of hundred that covered way more, uh, and had the engine of a word of mouth and stuff to start to build it. And so, uh, based on just this, the few purchases I'd had, I thought in the back of the Napkin calculation it looked like, ah, maybe I could sustain myself this way. You know, like I ended up, it ended up doing a lot better than I thought it would. But I, I suspected from the beginning that I could, I could do, okay, at least. 

Jason:              Yeah, no, the quality is outstanding, really are great videos and very, ah, covering a lot of audiences. So there's a developer audience of, Hey, the drupal eight, and here's the new stuff to learn and building a module. There's the femur and designer and site administrator and it seems like you've just communicated exactly what each role needs to hear in the way that they need to hear to efficiently get ramped up on drupal. It's such a massive amount of content. I'm just impressive the encyclopedia that you've got inside of you alone, what you produced with the videos. 

Chris:          Less having an encyclopedia. It's more like, what did I just read? I will make videos on them that, you know, like I don't, I go back to my own videos too to relearn stuff as I need to, you know, how, how do I, how do I structure a theming hook or you know, how do I do this thing in drupal eight because I don't remember. I go back to my videos or they show up in search engines in like I watched them as if I had never seen them before, you know, they're not in here. That's kind of the beauty of like writing stuff down, right? You, you have that for forever and other people get to share that knowledge too. 

Jason:              Yeah. Well that's a good product when the creator uses it himself. So moving forward and, and the, the chapters ahead, what, what's next for you? 

Chris:          Yeah. Well, uh, so I've been on a bit of a sabbatical. I'm like, I kind of reached a point with build a module where it, it was a, I don't know, I, I needed, I think you experienced this when you dive into a startup, uh, any business where you're kind of full on a, at some point you realize that there's a whole lot of your life that you haven't really been paying attention to every day, eight hours or more you're spent dedicated on this thing and do that allows you to funnel your energy and build something. You know, hopefully great over time, but it means that the rest of your life, all of the things that you were designed for, you know, a lot of them take a backseat. So I've been trying to spend some time trying to pay attention to what things might have gone by the wayside or haven't gotten attention. What things there are out there that, that maybe I could, I could leverage the skills that I've built through doing build a module and being a contractor with implied by design to, to focus on another subject matter that maybe is more relevant 

Jason:              or necessary for the world. Right. Like, I don't know because I just haven't, I haven't paid attention. I've been doing other things. Being able to go on a sabbatical sure is great. We look forward to seeing what your next steps are and staying in touch and appreciate you coming on here. Telling us a little bit about your story and, uh, enjoying, uh, a little bit of the Tangerine and Ginger Kombucha. Thank you, Jason. Thank you everybody.

Decision Pints - Chris Shattuck