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WPMUDEV white label videos – make sure you read the small print

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So we’re always on the lookout for white label instructional videos to offer our students.

For those who don’t know, the term “white label” basically refers to a product manufactured by one company that is legally packaged and resold by other companies under different brand names.

For the online marketing niche, white label products are one of the fastest ways to offer value and content to your customers without developing all the materials and documentation yourself.

Today, we found a white label solution that we thought might have been too good to be true and our instincts were right.

We stumbled on the WordPress Video Tutorials from WPMUDEV.org. WPMU stands for WordPress Multi User (the multi-site version of WordPress) and this organization has been around for a long time.

I’m actually a fan of the company because they have built a pretty impressive business around the WordPress multi-user community.

We saw that the package they were offering seemed to have all the makings of white label gold.

Their marketing language:

  • 100% White Label re-brand as your own
  • Automatically Updated – never go out of date
  • Professional Quality by the WPMU video team
  • Fully Hosted you pay nothing
  • No advertising crisp clear, better than youtube
  • Integrated into WordPress use on pages or inside admin area

Sounds absolutely fantastic! How much does this all cost?

You scroll down past all the marketing for the site and when you get to the bottom and you see the call to action.

WPMUDEV-pricing

All this for $39.60 the first month? Sounds great to me.

Now most people are going to assume from this that the true cost of these videos and it’s a great deal.

Here’s the finely glossed over fine print. Remember that first graphic we looked at? Well they told you it was fully hosted and you “pay nothing”.

watch-for-fully-hosted

That’s not quite accurate.

While you technically “pay nothing” for the hosting, it turns out the setup and implementation of these videos is a little more sticky than the marketing would have you believe.

The Easy Part

Once you pay for the reduced price first month of membership (remember that word), you do get access to all the videos embed scripts.

First you download the embed scripts and you can size and embed that in WordPress wherever you want your WordPress training video to appear.

True to their word, the videos are polished and professional and do deliver the goods.

The Small Print

A “minor” step for installing these videos on your domains is registering each domain. You have to go to your WPMUDEV dashboard and add your domain.

Their text from the dashboard:

Support Videos API

To embed our unbranded support videos into your sites, you must first register their domains here. Otherwise the embed code will return an error message. If you need to embed the videos into an https encrypted page, you must change the urls in the embed code to begin with https:// instead of http:// for them to work.

That’s cool right? Umm not so fast.

While it’s easy to register a domain and have it work, remember that WPMUDEV.org is a membership based site. The next logical question is, what happens if I quit at any point?

Too funny.

We had fun searching for the documentation around this and it was as expected – the small print. We had to search deep for this in their terms of service.

Some of our services such as Anti-Splog, Video or Auto-upgrades require the use of an assigned API key. You may only use your API key on sites that belong to you or those of your clients. You must maintain an active subscription with WPMU DEV to make use of API services.

There it is ladies and gentlemen. Once you embed their videos and get your customers hooked on them, the true annual cost of this service is:

1 month at $39.60 + 11 months at $99/month = $1128.60

I think it’s pretty safe to say that most people would NEVER imagine that they were signing up for over a thousand dollars a year to use a video embed service. To be fair, the $99 a month does include a lot of plugins, scripts and useful WordPress stuff but STILL….

The moral of the story people is, read the fine print before you buy or subscribe.

I’d love to hear your stories about internet pricing and the perils therein. As always, use the comments below.

Onuora Amobi is VP of Marketing at Learn About The Web. He has an extensive background in both Online Marketing and Enterprise Technology solutions.

12 Comments
  • Alex Norwood

    LOL

    What do you expect? It’s a membership site? They have to make their money somewhere??

    • http://latw.wpengine.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I get that but come on dude, it’s a little sneaky. Just a tad?

    • Bill Franklin

      I know what you’re saying, but there’s an ethical way to do it. 1,100 a year vs YOU PAY NOTHING is deceiving and hurts the company long term.

    • Ted Smith

      So if you went to a store and it said, free shirt you pay nothing, only to find out after getting ready to buy the shirt it cost $100 dollars you’d be happy? They have to make money, but that doesn’t mean you throw morals and goodwill out the window.

      • Sally Black

        Perfect analogy. Regardless of whether it’s online or not, the intentions of the company should be pure. If they’re not, the company will collapse eventually.

  • Wayne S

    Thanks for putting this out there. Very shady move from them. I have no problem charging, but don’t false advertise.

  • Sally Black

    Just like those AS SEEN ON TV ads, this is a cheap shot. Sadly, it doesn’t shock me, which is why I’m always on the lookout for the fine print, especially online!

    • Jason Claven

      Exactly like that. Shipping and handling at the bottom for $20. They just want you to get invested in the product then spring the additional charges on you.

  • Emily W

    This is a spectacular breakdown and analysis of a company being underhanded. Thanks for sharing and exposing them for this stuff!

  • Drew J

    Thank you for the warning. I cannot stomach that there are people and companies that have no problem doing this to customers. There’s no ethics in this at all. Pathetic!

  • Matthew Laws

    Thank you for posting this public service announcement, Onuora. That’s pretty much what it is, because you’re saving people from con artists like these guys. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • http://www.hiredad.com/ Gabriel Mariscal

    Thank you for the heads up on the small print. I do see some opportunities when it comes to while label videos. They have done most of the work creating and hosting the videos now you need to market them to get the traffic. The thing to remember with white label is you are free to do with them what you want no restrictions. So branding and up-charge on your site using a plugin like CoursePress would be useful. Granted you would have to get lots of users and charge a large enough fee to offset the membership but it is possible.

Editorial

Who approved never get Hulu as an ad slogan?

I’ve seen some DUMB ad campaigns in my life but Never Get Hulu is by far the worst one I have ever seen in my life.

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Never get Hulu

I was watching the Emmys last week and then an ad came on.

It had a ton of celebrities who were serious and telling me to listen and pay attention.

They start to talk somewhat comedically about a bunch of things I should never do – never fly first class, never get a king size bed, never get a walk in closet etc etc.

At this point, there are hints of comedy creeping in…

Until the final punch line “..and most importantly Never Get Hulu”.

My wife and I are marketing professionals and immediately looked at each other thinking the same exact thing.

Who at Hulu gave the green light to this ad?

Why would you get people’s attention and use the words “Never” and your brand name in the same sentence? From a marketing perspective this seems extremely stupid.

Yes, it gets people like me writing about this and talking about it and sharing the ad. Got it.

HOWEVER, it imprints very negative keywords next to your brand name into people’s psyche’s forever.

Never Get Hulu.

I absolutely don’t get it but hey what do I know, maybe they know something I don’t so I should probably take their advice.

I DEFINITELY won’t get Hulu.

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Caching

Digital Marketing Tip – Implement Fragment Caching

Fragment caching works by identifying sections of code, which take up time and resources, and caching just those sections.

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Implement fragment caching

As far as performance goes, WordPress is brilliant for a smaller website, right out of the box. Your front-end pages load very quickly, data is retrieved from the database and saved to it very fast on the back-end.

But, when you try to add loads of content, with loads of metadata for every post, then you will start to see things slow down, considerably. This is quite common and there are plenty of ways to sort the problem out.

Use a Caching Plugin

Caching plugins are the most used tools on WordPress websites, a way of speeding things up and there are plenty to choose from.

Each plugin has its own approach but, overall, the bit that slows everything down, i.e. a page that needs to load, is placed in a temporary location for storage.

That way, when the page is requested again, it can be retrieved much quicker because the stored page is called on instead of the front-end page having to be loaded each time.

However, once this storage reaches an age which is determined beforehand it will be removed and then recached to make sure users don’t get old data.

Some of the best plugins for this are:

  • W3 Total Cache
  • W3 Super Cache
  • WP Fastest Cache

Because each has its own method of doing things, each plugin has its own set of pros and cons. Overall, the popular solutions have one common problem – they cannot cache data for a logged in user.

This might seem to be something of an oversight; after all, why cache data if your editors or your users won’t see the benefit? It might interest you to know that this has been left out intentionally and for a very good reason.

Imagine that your website has exclusive content that is only for subscribers who pay for it. If you cache the data for this content, there is a good chance that you could serve it to users who do not pay for it which allows anyone to get your content without subscribing.

So, does this mean that a website driven by membership cannot take advantage of caching? Of course, they can.

This is where fragment caching comes in.

What is Fragment Caching?

In the scenario above, we cannot cache all the content on a whole page load, but we can still use caching. Fragment caching works by identifying sections of code, which take up time and resources, and caching just those sections.

This means your unpaid subscribers don’t get to see the content reserved for those who pay.

How much time you can save will depend on how many fragments are cached but, where you have a large and complex website, the time savings will soon add up.

How do we implement fragment caching? Very easily, thanks to something called the Transients API. This is a storage method for temporary data that has an arbitrary timeframe.

Have a look at this example:

// Get an existing copy of transient data, if there is one
if ( false === ( $foo = get_transient( ‘foo_transient’ ) ) ) {
// Nothing was found or the transient has expired; regenerate it!
$foo = someExpensiveCodeOrQuery();
set_transient( ‘foo_transient’, $foo, 2*HOUR_IN_SECONDS );
}
// Use $foo somehow

On the second line, we have called a method called get_transient and this will try to pull up the cached value for foo_transient. If there is a transient and it is still in date, the cached value is returned and the code will then move to the seventh line.

If no value is found, a value of false is returned and the third, fourth and fifth lines will then be executed. The result is $foo being saved under the name of foo_transient and an expiration time of two hours is added.

Fragment caching is not a method to fix everything but it can be an incredibly useful tool for reducing page loading by seconds and, as we all know where page loading times are concerned, every second counts.

Combine fragment caching with other methods of speeding up WordPress for significant gains in speed.

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Editorial

The ONE skill most digital entrepreneurs do not have

After many years of mentoring digital entrepreneurs, I find that there is constantly one core skill they do not start with…

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Writing skill entrepreneurs

Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of being a digital marketing mentor to a lot of MBA students and entrepreneurs.

I have always loved being able to help people who are just discovering what the internet can do for their businesses and how thinking asymmetrically can create growth and profits online.

In the process of mentoring a lot of these awesome people, I started to see a common trend and it profoundly affected me and has made me rethink everything about the way I teach digital business.

The internet is awesome.

It’s made it possible for an entrepreneur or a small team of people to create websites and online applications that compete against much larger businesses. This because they have mastered some skillset that is in demand and have figured out how to share it profitably with the rest of the world.

I used to believe that when entrepreneurs are starting to learn about starting an online business, they needed to learn everything about business, tools, terminology and technology.

While those are all important, there is one critical skillset that is often missed when people are learning to build digital businesses.

The ability to write properly and eloquently.

Frustrated writer

I have been stunned and shocked to see people who can master every other component of digital marketing be so intimidated by a blank screen or sheet of paper.

Lots of entrepreneurs are terrified of writing. They love building products, selling products, tinkering with website elements, landing pages and doing everything else but they are scared to actually learn how to write compelling content.

The irony is, they love consuming content from other writers!

My story

When I built one of my successful online businesses, it was based on Microsoft Windows. I realized that to really understand how to create compelling content around software, I had to learn how to write. Even about a topic I was only peripherally aware of at the time.

So I did.

I wrote over 7,000 articles in less than 8 years.

I wrote on websites, syndication sites, on financial sites, press releases, landing pages, editorials and more.

I started one article at a time and did it so much that it became second nature. I was edited by tough editors at sites like Seeking Alpha and had to rewrite content often to get it published. It was tough starting out but I learned.

Eventually, my content was so compelling that my website had 50,000 daily visitors and in 2010, I received a Microsoft MVP award for the Windows Desktop.

Build Conference Anaheim

Me at the Microsoft Build Conference in Anaheim California – 2011

My ability to write got me into conferences where I met most of the popular technology writers I had always admired. I was a member of the press pool at Microsoft events – because I learned how to write.

That business made me close to a million dollars based on my digital marketing abilities BUT at the end of the day it all came down to one thing.

The ability to write and express myself.

It’s critical.

I learned this the hard way

When I would walk entrepreneurs through digital marketing basics and eventually get their sites up and running, I would find out that they either didn’t know how to write or hated writing.

That changed the way I teach.

Now I start off with a basic digital writing and copywriting class.

Once my students are able to write somewhat decently and properly, only then do we move to keyword research, idea validation etc.

My advice to entrepreneurs starting out

If you have an idea for an online business, you should take a writing class. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a product or a service, you should learn how to write.

You should head to online resources like Udemy and search for “writing”.

Yes, you can hire a copywriter to do some things for you but the truth is, even the best copywriters can’t replace you.

Customers and clients are drawn to YOU. 

They come to your site, connect to you on social media and respond to your content because it’s YOU. This is true for every kind of business and it’s also why the most effective way to sell professional services online is with your blog.

The blog allows customers and visitors to see how you think and figure out whether your values are compatible with theirs. If they like how you think and express yourself, you’re more likely to make that sale or convert that visitor.

Also practice writing!

“I’m not a good writer!” – that’s a common refrain I hear.

No one starts out as a good writer. No one.

Some people do have natural talent but even that takes honing and practice until it’s perfected. Write one hundred articles in a month and I GUARANTEE you that the first and last article will be dramatically different.

The bottom line

The ability to express yourself is one of the most critical skills you can develop as an adult. It’s what gets you the VC money, what gets you the raise at work, the first date with a significant other and what gets your content to convert.

Learning how to write can change your life. I know this because it changed mine.

If you don’t know how to write, learn and if you’re a good writer, practice. This skill is often the difference between success and failure online.

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