In this episode Josh talks with Jonathan Denwood, Owner of WP-Tonic. They discuss using online training for both internal development and external customer-facing training.

Jonathan Denwood is leading influencer in the WordPress space (with his own leading podcast in the eLearning entrepreneurship WordPress area) and a champion of the eLearning Entrepreneur who wants to build a substantial online business.

Many people who have great experience and a lot of knowledge to share in their field get caught up with choosing and implementing the technology to publish their first course. Jonathan can really help in getting people to get over this hurdle so that they can really concentrate on marketing their course to its targeted audience.

In today’s episode you will learn:

  1. What does it take to build your first successful online course?
  2. What’s the difference between using WordPress or platform like Kajabi?
  3. WordPress compared to LMS SaaS platforms: What’s the reality?
  4. What are the benefits of teaching people how to use our products better by using online courses?


Narrator:          Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                  Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business. Today, my guest is Jonathan Denwood. Jonathan’s company is WP-Tonic. We’re going to be talking about online learning programs and why you as a blue collar business might want to have one. So let’s start the conversation and bring Jonathan on.

Hey, Jonathan, how are you today?

Jonathan:          Great, Josh. Thanks for having me on your show.

Josh:                  It’s my pleasure. Here’s a question I have for you. I understand why if I’m in the information world, I would want to have an online program. I am having sort of a little bit of a hard time understanding— if I’m in a blue collar business which is brick and mortar or construction or manufacturing distribution, why would I want to have an online course?

Jonathan:          Well, number one, you got to decide what your audience is really. There’s two things that come to mind straight away. You might want a learning course for internal training, for onboarding new employees or continuing their training. But do it mostly online and making sure that your employees have enough training to increase their productivity and the use of nest to the business.

Number one is onboarding new customers especially if you’ve got a technical product and you have to spend a lot of time. You’ve got sales staff that have a degree of technical expertise and part of doing business is they have to provide a lot of training to new customers. You can do that online as well.

Josh:                  Oh, yeah that makes perfectly good sense to me. What you’re talking about here is, when I think about online learning, I think about seeing a payrolls and charging money for this stuff. The truth is your brick and mortar business, you can use online learning. It’s not necessarily something you’re doing to make money, but it’s something that support your regular business.

Jonathan:          Yeah, I’ll give you an example. I have my own podcast. About a month ago, we had a guest and he provides training for Ducati, the motorcycle company so Ducati America. They used to have in their dealership, they used to send mechanics for training and they would send it to the headquarters of Ducati or they would have meetings around the US weekends or during the week to day meetups.

Well, they still do that, but also he has organized online training for the mechanics. They have to do a pre course which they have to pass before they can do the face to face training because what they were finding was that they made it clear that the mechanics needed to have a certain level knowledge, a certain level pre-training to get the real benefits of going to this training that was organized by Ducati USA. But what they were finding was a lot of people weren’t doing the prerequisites and it was decreasing the effectiveness of the face to face training. They developed this online course and you got to pass it. It’s cut down off the wastage of time when it comes to the actual face to face training.

Josh:                  So what are you hearing you say is that we can actually save money and even probably do some support around teaching people how to use our products better by using online courses, is that correct?

Jonathan:          Exactly. Another example is you can use it as a competitive advantage. You can add it as extra value. Like if you got a bicycle shop or your got a yoga studio, you can offer lessons, yoga lessons online as an additional bonus as a competitive advantage to your local competition.

So if somebody can’t get into the yoga studio that week, they can still do some of the exercises by being able to log into membership and have some of the lessons shown to them free video. The bicycle shop, you could show how to repair certain bicycles or there’s 1,000 ways you can use online education as an extra as a competitive edge to your competition.

Josh:                  So I have a client that is in the manufacturing business. They’re developing a whole bunch of new lines or capabilities of using CBD oil. CBD is relatively new thing. It’s allowed in the States. It’s also very complicated and it seems to me that that would be a perfect thing to do a series of online trainings about what CBD is, what’s legal, what’s not legal, how do you use it. All that kind of good stuff.

Jonathan:          That’s right, Josh. It’s a perfect example.

Josh:                  So as I’ve seen you I’m thinking of saying, if you’re in a blue collar business, the value add that you can bring to clients is always knowledge. I mean, if I can add knowledge base, I have a competitive advantage over the guys who aren’t because my potential clients are going to say, “Hey, this guy knows what they’re talking about, but all the other guys over there really don’t.”

Jonathan:          Yeah, it builds credibility. It builds confidence. Let’s face it, unless you’re selling widgets or you’re in a [inaudible 00:06:13] or pork bellies or some total commodity based business. Most businesses element of knowledge is involved or as part of the buying decision, isn’t it?

Josh:                  I would even say if I’m selling pork bellies or screws or nails, there is an online learning component that could happen with that which would give me a competitive advantage over the other folks that I’m competing against.

Jonathan:          Yeah, the main thing you don’t want to compete with [inaudible 00:06:41] price, isn’t it?

Josh:                  Yeah. I want to find ways that build value in what our knowledge is so I can charge more money for the products I’m selling.

Jonathan:          Yes, that’s right.

Josh:                  That’s the same thing. So my experience and work with blue collar businesses is, it is a really smart people in anything around technology scares the living heck I don’t know. So if I’m a blue collar business and I want to get into the online learning world. I think in the first eight or nine minutes, you’ve certainly convinced me that it’s a good idea. I hope we’ve convinced our listeners it’s a good idea too, but how do I go about doing it all of a sudden? It’s complicated.

Jonathan:          Well, you can call it WP-Tonic. WP- Tonic, as we call this, and we can assist you from the beginning to the end of the process. I think the one thing that could really help in this podcast is stress. One really clear thing is start off with a smaller course. Don’t think which a lot of people do when they first approached me, Josh, is to prove real value that their course has to be a literally online one piece. It has to be equivalent of 1,000 page novel.

Now, when you do your first course even with the assistance of a company like WP-Tonic, it’s going to be a little bit stressful. We can take a fair bit of the birds and provide the technology. If you want us to build the whole platform out for you, we can do that. Obviously, the video and written content, even the written content, we can provide resources to help you produce that, but the actual videos you can have to produce yourself. But the main thing that this initial course can be like eight videos or 12 videos. Those videos can be from five to 10 minutes long.

Josh:                  By the way, anything longer than 10 minutes for a video. This is my opinion, from looking at lots of online courses, your courses not going to be done because people are not going to sit in front of a computer for an hour or at least not many people will.

Jonathan:          I agree with you. It depends on the commitment on how good the instructor is, but in the science of learning and I’ve had the number of experts on my show as our bulgy. There’s only so much information that we can absorb effectively in a period of time. The other factor that helps is having quizzes, having mechanisms in built into your course that can judge if the student is actually absorb the information. There are techniques, but I do agree with you. If it’s above the certain limit, they’re just going to glaze over basically.

Josh:                  Or just don’t do it. I mean, the non-completion rate of online courses is actually pretty incredible.

Jonathan:          It is.

Josh:                  I’m guilty of it myself. Frankly, the courses I don’t complete are really start past the first video is when the welcome video goes for an hour and 25 minutes.

Jonathan:          Exactly. Another fact, Josh is working out a real good onboarding mythology. It’s a similar mythology that the startup world has developed. A combination depending on the cost of the course or the importance of the course of the provider, providing an initial phone call, developing an onboarding sequence of email, having automation that can see that the person logged in and hasn’t come back. Especially at the beginning, the more onboarding resources that you can provide, the more your turn rate, your dropout rate will reduce.

Josh:                  That certainly makes really good sense to me also. So what we’re looking at as we’re looking at importance. We’re looking at engagement. We’re looking at course construction. These are all things that you can hire outside advisors to help you with your company. Is that correct, Jonathan?

Jonathan:          That’s great. We got a team that I’ve got a great project manager and also she did a degree in information and educational training that was part of a degree. She can advise in the construction of the course. The best mythologies that the most effective learning mediums.

I’ve been building learning management systems, remote developers for over three years. We built a number of large to medium size. The way I split it is you got back facing internal training, customer training and then you got front facing which is the more getting actual people off the internet to sign up or it’s going to be part of extra value offered by a brick and mortar business.

Josh:                  So always have to ask this because it sounds to me like if I want to establish an online course and I know nothing about what I’m doing, this can be a relatively costly thing to do. Jonathan: It really swings roundabouts because fundamentally that’s what I keyed that on is keeping that first call simple. About 8 to 12, 5 to 10 minutes videos, write some scripts, maybe some quizzes. So if you require us to help you that would start around $3,000 and go up to about $10,000.

Josh:                  Okay, well let’s see how $3000 certainly affordable for anybody listening to this show and 10,000 for some people will be a real stretch. There’s your range in there as far as that goes. Now, one of the things that you said in your stuff is that I can tell by your name that you’re a WordPress man.

Jonathan:          Yes.

Josh:                  But the truth is a lot of small businesses use things besides WordPress. So if I’m using Square or Wix, or HubSpot, or things like that, can I still integrate learning site into those sites or do I need to have a WordPress site a link to out of my main site?

Jonathan:          There are some test products in the e-learning area. I think the strength of WordPress is that you can get a true customized look. You can get precisely what you’re looking for where they hosted solutions. You tend to have to adapt to what they are offering. You have to adapt your course or whatever. That’s why I’m dedicated to WordPress.

Also, WordPress over the last 18 months has changed enormously. The ability for page builders to build your own websites and maintain them using WordPress has become a lot easier. Also, WordPress has two of the best learning management system plugins. One’s called Learndash. One is called Lifterlms. They’re both superb in helping you organize your courses. So I think WordPress has a strong argument for utilizing it.

Josh:                  Is it simpler to use a WordPress plugin or is it simpler to get one of these other programs as you would use as a software as a service?

Jonathan:          It depends on you what you’re talking about. There’s about half a dozen SaaS competitors to WordPress and its solutions. A couple of that I think I lead as a Kajabi and Teachable. Now Teachable is the more simpler platform of those two, but what it can do is cut down as well.

So if you’re looking for a very basic course, teachable of the SaaS products is probably the one to look at. In the monthly running costs, it won’t be as cheap as WordPress, but if you’re just looking for a very, very simple solution out of teachable. When it comes Kajabi— Kajabi is a kind of Swiss Army knife.

It has a lot of functionality, but exactly they’re advertising. They try and make out that it’s easy to set up, it isn’t. It’s just as complicated in some ways or even more complicated than a basic WordPress setup.

Josh:                  So can you run us through? Okay, I’ve decided I want to do a course I’m happy to use WordPress, its fine with me. What are the things I need to do before I do a course?

Jonathan:          Well, really depends if it’s going to be for internal use.

Josh:                  This will be for customers or potential customers as a marketing tool. It’s going to be a really simple course no more than four or five little modules in there. No more than eight or 10 minutes per video for the module. But one of the pieces you need to do to set up something like that as a marketing piece because I actually think that’s a really good use for an online course with a traditional brick and mortar business.

Jonathan:          It’s a really good question. It depends if we got audience already there.

Josh:                  Let’s assume we have access to an audience in building the audience for the course is not the issue. It’s just putting the course together, getting it ready to go in launching it on my website.

Jonathan:          So you want to like the outline document. Basically, you want to outline what the modules are going to be. What’s going to be in each module? You want to aim for a quick victory for the people that take the course in the first two videos.

Josh:                  By the way, that’s a really good point. In fact, we’re seeing in me, I would want to try to get a quick win the first three minutes of the first module.

Jonathan:          Well, if you can do that, that’s great. But normally, you have to provide some onboarding introductory video about how they’re going to be utilized in the course even the most simplified interface. It really depends on what your target audience, but there probably is going to have to be some onboarding introductory video just dealing with the mechanics of taking the course. But if that doesn’t apply, I agree with you, the quicker than you can get them a small victory or see the use of business of taking the course the better. That will reduce what we have discussed early on which is, people dropping out basically.

Josh:                  That makes perfectly good sense to me.

Jonathan:          You need to write out the written material is going to be underneath the video before the video, is it going to be a downloadable PDF? Are you going to have some quizzes after each video? You need to plan it out. The more you do the pre planning— also, I would suggest the more you get the videos actually done your written materials actually done before we actually start building the theme out, the better the smoother this is going out. Actually trying to produce content at the same time you’re trying to build out a website and a project is a way to increase the stress quite considerably.

Josh:                  Well, if I’m outsourcing building the website then I can do the content while somebody else is building the website.

Jonathan:          I find normally gets a little bit bogged down if they do that because they need to be part of the build that to some extent. Also, they’re trying to produce the content. The other great thing that in just going for short course initially, is that people tend to dismiss how much they can learn from the first group of students. Because they might want your experience in a particular industry or a particular sector. How many years you’ve been involved in it?

You’re going to make some kind of educated guesses about the student’s real needs once and requirements. Well, you’re going to be surprised about how much experience you got. Those first students, you’re going to learn a lot from that first batch of students about what their real requirements, their real pain points are. You’re probably going to have to change the course materials and some of the videos and some of your educated assumptions after that first batch of students.

Josh:                  It makes perfectly good sense. Hey, Jonathan I hate to cut off the conversation in the middle of it, but we’re going to have to because we’re out of time.

Jonathan:          It’s quick, isn’t it?

Josh:                  Yeah, it does. It always goes really fast. I’m going to bet people are going to be interested in finding you. How would they go about doing that?

Jonathan:          Well, I’m really easy to content. I try and be as available as possible. If you go to the WP- Tonic website, right on the front page, there’s a video of me and then there’s a button to book a free consultation. You click it and you’re taken to a page where you can choose a day in time that works for you. You can have a free 30 minute discussion with me and I will be as helpful as I can. You’ve got any questions or you’re looking for advice. We can go through everything for 30 minutes, Josh.

Josh:                  Cool. Now, web address again for folks who are interested.

Jonathan:          It’s

Josh:                  I also have an offer for you. We have this tool called the Four Boxes of Financial Independence. The reason I developed this tool was really pretty simple as that my experience with privately held businesses is that all of us are usually concerned about being able to afford retirement. If I asked you when you’re going to retire, you’re likely to tell me five years from now and you’ll get stuck on what I call permafive which means is always five years away.

Now, I have this little tool which you can take about seven minutes, a little quiz. You put in some financial information about yourself. It’s going to tell you whether you’re on the road towards financial independence or not. If not, you’re going to find out where your weaknesses are. They get is really easy.

Just go to and you hit the Get Started button. In less than 10 minutes, you’ll find out where the year on the road towards financial independence. This is Josh Patrick with Jonathan Denwood. You’re at the sustainable business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:          You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at, or you can send Josh an email at

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

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