About this podcast
Two SaaS founders -- one just getting off the ground, and one with an established profitable business -- invite you to join their weekly chats.
About this podcast
Two SaaS founders -- one just getting off the ground, and one with an established profitable business -- invite you to join their weekly chats.
Sympathy, Empathy, and Solving Problems
Michele's First Numbers Update
Michele Hansen 00:00 Welcome back to Software Social. This episode is sponsored by the website monitoring tool, Oh Dear. If you've listened to this podcast for any amount of time, you know that I'm passionate about customer service and listening to customers. A few months ago, we noticed something wasn't working on the Oh Dear dashboard. We reported it to them, and they fixed it almost immediately. Everybody has bugs occasionally, but not every company is so responsive to their customers, and we really appreciate that. You can sign up for a 10 day free trial with no credit card required at OhDear.app. Colleen Schnettler 00:35 So Michele, I'd love to hear about how things are going with the book. Michele Hansen 00:40 They're going. Um, so after our episode with Sean last week, I realized that I kind of, I have to launch this thing eventually, right? Colleen Schnettler 00:54 Yes. Michele Hansen 00:55 And, you know, for, you know, I mean, for months I've been hearing that advice of, you know, do a, do a presale and like, start selling it beforehand, And, and I was like, yeah, I mean, you know, I, that's the best practice. That makes sense. And then just kind of be like, but that doesn't apply to me, right? Like, I couldn't make, um. It's, you know, it's funny, because it's almost, I feel like the way people feel about when they hear about customer interviewing, they're like, that sounds really valuable and like the right thing to do, and I'm just gonna act like that doesn't apply to me. Colleen Schnettler 01:29 Yep. Michele Hansen 01:30 So that's kind of how I was, and talking to Sean really kind of got me to be like, okay, okay, fine. I should actually sit down and do this. So I got a very simple website together, and then I actually did end up launching the presale. Colleen Schnettler 01:46 Oh, congratulations. Michele Hansen 01:48 Yeah, that was super scary. Like, because the book Colleen Schnettler 01:50 I bet. Michele Hansen 01:53 And, like, random places where it says like, insert graphic here. Colleen Schnettler 02:01 So tell us how many books have you sold? Michele Hansen 02:03 Okay, yeah, so I guess I get to do, like, a numbers update for the first time. This is fun. Um, so I have sold 34 copies. Colleen Schnettler 02:15 Wow. Michele Hansen 02:16 Presale. Colleen Schnettler 02:17 That's a lot. Michele Hansen 02:18 So, and that's not including for like, you know, platform fees and whatever. Just like, you know, $29 times 34, basically. $986. Colleen Schnettler 02:32 That's amazing. Congratulations! Michele Hansen 02:35 So close to that, like, 1000 mark, which, I was talking about this with Mathias earlier, and he's kind of like, I feel like that's like a, you know, that's like, the legit threshold, is 1000. Like, and I don't know why, but it's like, yeah, it's like that feels like, that feels like the, the, like, the first big hurdle. Colleen Schnettler 02:55 I totally agree. That's wonderful news. Congratulations. Michele Hansen 03:00 You know, I expected to feel excited, or relieved, or something positive after releasing it, or the presale, at least. And I gotta tell you, like, I just feel pressure. Like, I'm really glad I didn't do this sooner. Colleen Schnettler 03:25 Really? Michele Hansen 03:27 Yeah. Because now I have, you know, at least 34 people I can't disappoint. Colleen Schnettler 03:32 Right. Michele Hansen 03:32 And I feel like, just like, the pressure to make something that is a quality product, like, I already had that pressure on myself to put something out there that I'm proud of. Colleen Schnettler 03:44 Yeah. Michele Hansen 03:46 Now I have all these other people who are expecting that, and not that anyone has emailed me and said anything to that effect, but that's how I feel. And I was thinking about this earlier. And I was like, man, like, writing and selling this book has like, brought out all of these, like, vulnerabilities and, and self-doubt and everything, like all of this stuff that I like, thought I had dealt with and then it's, like, sort of like bursting out of the cabinet, being like, hey, I'm still here. So it's, you know, I mean, I have tools to, like, deal with that, but it's been like, oh my gosh, like, I thought I had dealt with, like, I never feel this way about anything about Geocodio, like, so. Colleen Schnettler 04:33 So, this is interesting, because I, when I was feeling a similar way, many months ago, I don't actually know if I talked about it on the podcast, but I had a very high value client that I had a great relationship with that needed a file uploader, and mine wasn't quite done, and I had this moment of terror, panic, I don't know, where I was like, I shouldn't use mine because, because if I put it on my client's site, like, it has to work, right? There's no get out of jail free card, Kind of like, you've now sold this book. Like, you have to finish it. Michele Hansen 05:07 Right. It's not just like, throwing it in a PDF and then like. Colleen Schnettler 05:09 Yeah. Michele Hansen 05:10 Oh, whatever, nobody paid for it. Like, it's not a big deal. Like, it's like, no, this is, like, this is serious now. Colleen Schnettler 05:17 Yeah. And I think something that, that I'm thinking of as you're talking about this, I remember at the time, Alex Hillman had a really great tweet thread about you're not scared of failure, maybe you're secretly scared of success. Michele Hansen 05:32 Mm hmm. Colleen Schnettler 05:33 It was really interesting. Like, just when you think about, like, the psychology and all of these new insecurities coming to light for you, like, maybe you're scared of success. Michele Hansen 05:42 You know, and it's so I feel like we should have them on the podcast more, because I feel like they are, like, Amy and Alex in some way are like characters on this podcast, they're just not actually on the podcast. But like, the amount we talk about, you know, 30x500 and everything. She had, I think, I think it was her, or maybe, no, or maybe it was Dani Donovan, the woman who does the ADHD comics. But I think it was Amy, had a thread, like, couple months ago that was like, you know, people with, or maybe, I don't know if she has ADHD, so I don't know if this was her. Okay. Somebody had a thread that was like, you know, people with ADHD, like, you don't ever feel accomplished when you finish something. It's just over. And then you're on to the next thing. And it was like, yes, like, I expected to feel something when I finally got that out there, and now it instead feels like, oh, now I have to put in the graphics. Now I have to do the cover art. Like now I have to like, like, it just, it didn't, there was never this, like, moment of, like, feeling accomplished or anything like that. It just, it just rolled into the next thing. Colleen Schnettler 06:58 Interesting. I don't, I don't have that problem. Like, that doesn't happen to me. I mean, but it's interesting, I find that interesting because one of the things, for me, is when I accomplish something, even if, I feel like if I'd been in your position and I got the presales out there, I do feel that, like, internal satisfaction of hitting that goal, and that's what keeps me motivated. So, if you don't get that same kind of dopamine hit, doesn't that make the whole process kind of painful? It doesn't sound fun. Michele Hansen 07:28 Well, what I do get that from is people, like, you know, positive reinforcement from other people. Like, so I've been asking people for testimonials to put at the front of the book. And on the one hand, that terrifies me, and, and then on the other hand, when they do come in, and people are talking about how the, the book and also sort of newsletter and like, like, all this, all this stuff is all sort of meshing together, has helped them, and what it has helped them do, and how they wish they'd had it sooner and everything. Like, that makes me feel good. That makes me feel like I am delivering the, like, a product that is worth somebody paying for, and that I can be proud of seeing how it's impacted other people. But I like I, I don't really get satisfaction out of achieving things, which is really ironic, because I think about younger versions of myself and I've like, you know, I describe me in high school as an achievement robot, like. Colleen Schnettler 08:39 An achievement robot. Michele Hansen 08:41 Yeah, you know, you're, like, just taking as many AP's as you can and your life is over if you don't get in a top college. You know, that whole, that whole song and dance that turned out to be a lie, because now I work for myself. Not at all bitter about that. Anyway, um, yeah, it's but, this, so that is really, like, keeping me going or like, people tweeting out you like, hey, like, what is the book coming out? And part of me is like, oh, my God, am I gonna get them by then? But like, I've been getting a lot of really good reinforcement from people, and that, and I think that's, for me, that's been one of the really big benefits of building in public is not, not necessarily knowing that, exactly that people are going to pay for it and how much they're going to pay and having that money up front, but knowing that I'm creating something that is useful for people. Like, that is what keeps me going. Colleen Schnettler 09:31 That sounds great, too. Michele Hansen 09:33 But now I got to finish the damn thing, so. Colleen Schnettler 09:35 Yeah. Now you gotta finish it. Michele Hansen 09:37 I was saying that the release date would be June 24. I actually just had to push that back to July 2, because I just, I don't think I have enough time. Colleen Schnettler 09:44 Yeah. Michele Hansen 09:45 I do have an idea for the cover. Like, I want it to be like a terminal printout that's like, basically like installing, like, you know, like installing like empathy and like, loading scripts. Colleen Schnettler 10:00 That'll be cute. Michele Hansen 10:01 Like, sort of corny. Developers aren't the only audience for it. But I also want them to know that this is a resource that is, like, accessible to them. Colleen Schnettler 10:14 Yeah. Michele Hansen 10:15 I don't know. I have zero artistic abilities, like, I can't even, like, think visually, like, so I have so many people who are reviewing the draft right now, which is pretty amazing. Some of them are, like, super close friends of mine who are harsh editors, and I'm super grateful for that. And others are, like, people I have never even met who are so, I guess, so taken with, with the idea of the book that they're, like, helping me edit it, and I have never met them before, which is just so moving. But anyway, so someone has been giving me a lot of feedback on like, oh, like, this should be a graphic and like, this should be a graphic. And I'm like, I'm so glad you're saying that because it would have never occurred to me that that could be a graphic because I communicate in speech, and in text, and there's - Colleen Schnettler 11:01 Yeah. Michele Hansen 11:01 Not a whole lot of pictures going on. Colleen Schnettler 11:03 Yeah. Michele Hansen 11:04 So, so, yeah, I gotta kind of get all of, all that together in the next couple weeks. And like, hopefully release the, like, the print-on-demand version at the same time, but it's unclear. And then after that, I get to do the audio book, which, honestly, I'm really looking forward to, because then I just have to read the book out loud and as a podcaster, I'm like, I got that. Like, this does not involve any pictures. Like, I am good. Colleen Schnettler 11:32 No pictures required. Michele Hansen 11:33 No art skills required. Colleen Schnettler 11:36 Are you gonna hire someone to do the graphics? Have you figured that out yet? Michele Hansen 11:39 No, I've been making them in PowerPoint. Colleen Schnettler 11:42 Okay. I'm just saying there's - Michele Hansen 11:45 Really simple. Like, there's not going to be like, pictures-pictures, like. Colleen Schnettler 11:47 Okay. Michele Hansen 11:48 If it turns out this book is a huge hit and I need to do a version that actually has pictures and like, somebody doing, like, professionally doing the layout then like, yeah, I'll, I'll do that, but. Colleen Schnettler 11:59 Yeah, so. Michele Hansen 11:59 I mean, so like, more like flowcharts if anything, or like, putting something in a box so that it's, like, called out like even that kind of stuff. My brain is like, doesn't. Colleen Schnettler 12:09 Have you ever seen, there's a couple of people I've met at conferences that are developers, but they're also visual thinkers. And so they'll like, make sketch notes of someone's conference talk. Have you ever seen these? I'm going to send you some after the podcast. They're so cool. I mean, for your, for, you know, especially to hit, like, the developer audience, that would be, and that might be like version two of the book, but like, like sketch notes, or something would be super cool. Like, I could see a lot of cool opportunities here. Michele Hansen 12:37 Yeah, I tried to use something called Excalidraw, and I think my problem is like, I just don't think visually. Colleen Schnettler 12:47 Yeah. Michele Hansen 12:47 Like, I never graduated beyond stick figures. My, my efforts that were beyond stick figures are hilarious. Like actually, like, yeah. Um, so I probably should, like, should bring that in, you know. But again, I mean, the book has only made, you know, just under $1,000. So I'm not, I'm not, I don't really want to, like, go out and hire an artist for a couple $1,000 for it. Like, I don't feel like that's a reasonable- Colleen Schnettler 13:21 Not yet. Not yet. Right. I mean, that might be in the future. Yeah. I feel like that's not yet. I totally get that. Michele Hansen 13:27 Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, so that's- Colleen Schnettler 13:34 It's exciting. I'm glad we gave you that push. I mean, I kind of felt like I gave you that push when I was basically like, you're gonna have this up by the time we launch this podcast, right. I'm happy. I hope it wasn't too stressful. But I'm happy you got there. Michele Hansen 13:49 I think I needed the external deadline because- Colleen Schnettler 13:52 Yeah. Michele Hansen 13:52 And again, this is kind of one of those, for me, ADHD things. Like, I need an external deadline because if it's a deadline I've come up with then it's not happening. But like, the reason why the book was, is gonna be out by July 2 is because, like, our, well, it was gonna be June 23 because our daughter finishes school for the year on June 25. So I was like, it has to be out before she gets out of school. But then I remember that she has a week of summer camp. So I'm like, okay, I have another week. Colleen Schnettler 14:16 You have one more week. Michele Hansen 14:18 No, it has to be done before she gets out of camp because otherwise then I, you know, I won't have as much time, so. Colleen Schnettler 14:25 Yeah. Michele Hansen 14:25 External deadline. Super helpful. Yeah. How's, how's stuff in Simple File Upload world? Colleen Schnettler 14:33 So, things are good. I, you know, signups have still been consistent, but because I lost that big customer, I'm just below 1k MRR. So I haven't really seen that reflected in- Michele Hansen 14:48 Is the big customer the one that, like, wasn't using it and you couldn't get in touch with them? Colleen Schnettler 14:53 No, that person's still there, but like, I lost one person that was, like, a tier below that, which is, because I have three tiers. And so things are fine. I mean, I'm not seeing a big increase, or really any movement on the revenue because of the churn at that level, at that more expensive level. But I'm pretty excited about some of the things I'm going to be trying to do in the next couple months. My summer is crazy. So I had at first resigned myself to just not really working on Simple File Upload for a couple months. I was like, I'm just gonna let it sit. It's doing great. It requires almost no customer support. But then, Michele Hansen 15:32 I mean, a thousand dollars a month, and then it recurs is like. Colleen Schnettler 15:35 Right! It's like, I mean, okay, can we talk about how awesome this is? By the way, this is awesome. Like, after fees and stuff, after I pay my hosting fees, and my storage fees and my Heroku fees, I clear like 606, 650. Like, that's like, pretty cool. Michele Hansen 15:52 Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 15:53 It's like, I'm not so much. So I wasn't upset about this. But like, I just needed to see kind of where my life was and what I was doing. And I was like, I might just have to sit on this for a couple months because I don't have the time. But then I got an idea. So I am going to take, really what happened is I was really inspired talking to Sean last week about 30x500. I have never taken that course. But I read, like, everything Amy Hoy writes on the internet, and so I kind of feel like I get the idea behind Sales Safari, the idea being find where your customers hang out and find out what their problems are. Conceptually, it seems easy. I just haven't had time to do that. And him, he said last week that he spent 80 hours. Think about that. So he was trolling Reddit forums for 80 hours. That is a lot. Michele Hansen 16:45 I mean, I probably already do that, and there's no business purpose behind it. Colleen Schnettler 16:49 It's just no focus to it, right? So, so that's, so I really think I'm at this inflection point where what I have is working. It's doing great. I don't need to build new, more features until I know what features people need. And as we talked about, I think two weeks ago, different audiences want different features. As a solo founder, I do, with a job, I don't have the bandwidth to build all the features for everybody. Like, I'm not trying to take on CloudFlare, right. I really want to niche down and find my people and build for my people. I can't do that until I know who my people are, and I still don't really know. So, I am going to hire someone to do some of the Sales Safari research for me since I don't have time. Michele Hansen 17:42 Oh. Colleen Schnettler 17:43 Yeah. So I'm kind of pumped. And by someone I mean, my sister. She, yeah, so it's like, you talk about how, like, you love having a business with Mathias. I would love to have a business with my sister. Like, I would love for her to be able to work for me, for this to become a real company, and, you know, for us to do this together. So she is just coming off her maternity leave. She has decided not to go back to her job. So she has only a little bit of time because she doesn't have a lot of childcare, so she has, like, one day a week that she's going to work for me doing marketing research and Sales Safari, and I was to kind of trying to teach her, like, what I think is useful. We're both kind of learning as we go, neither of us really knows we're just making it up. And we're gonna do that for the summer and kind of see where it takes us. Michele Hansen 17:55 Yeah. Wow, wait, so what is her background in? Colleen Schnettler 18:35 She's an environmental consultant. Michele Hansen 18:37 Oh. Colleen Schnettler 18:40 So she actually, it's in no way relevant. But she's, so really the deal is she's a writer. So in her job as a consultant, what they do is they, they have to write these, like, epic report. So her background is really in writing. So originally, she was gonna write content for me, and she wrote me a couple pieces, but it's really hard to come in, since she doesn't have the technical background, it's, I, and my, my audience is developers, like, I need really technical content. So I don't think she's going to fit as a technical writer. But she's going to do, she's taking a class in SEO. So she's going to do, like, keyword research, and she's going to jump into the forums and Reddit and try and like, find out what people's pain points are surrounding file uploads. Michele Hansen 19:24 You know, it sounds like you guys have a good working relationship together. Colleen Schnettler 19:31 Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, all problems, this stuff that I was thinking about. All problems are people problems, right? So, if you want to control your business, and I'm just hypothesizing here, the number one most important people, but the number one most important thing is the people you work with, and I can't think of anyone else I'd rather work with. So, I think she'll figure it out, or she'll hate it and if she hates it, then she won't do it anymore. I'll find someone else. But that's kind of our plan. I'm pretty excited. Michele Hansen 20:02 Like, yeah, you, if you have someone that you work well with, and you believe that they're capable of learning what you would need them to learn, then, you know, like, you trust them. Colleen Schnettler 20:17 Yes. Michele Hansen 20:17 And that matters. Colleen Schnettler 20:18 Yes. Yes. So yeah. So this summer, for me, is really for, for Simple File Upload, I think, is really going to be a focus on figuring out what niche to serve. I was talking to another friend, and he just got a new job, and he works for a big event management company. And he pointed out, you know, he was, he actually mentioned you, because he listened to the podcast, and he was like, these huge companies, they don't care about the little guys who are making a million dollars a year. And his point was, they don't care. So he's like, if you can carve out a niche in one of these huge industries, like, you can be incredibly successful, and like, these big guys, they don't care. Michele Hansen 20:58 No. And you know, on your sister, it might be really interesting to have her do interviews with people because she will be completely coming in with a beginner's mindset. Like, I find this is something that is difficult for people to adjust to like, like, we've talked about when, when someone says like, oh, like, could I do this? And you start thinking through, like, whether they could and how you would implement it, or you know- Colleen Schnettler 21:23 Right. Michele Hansen 21:24 Talk about what they wanted to do, and you just like, oh, of course, you wanted to do this because of this, and like, you don't even question it. But she, but she would be like, well, why do you want to upload a file in the first place? Like, Colleen Schnettler 21:33 Right. Michele Hansen 21:33 Well, how is that, how does that work? Because she's genuinely beginner. Like, I feel like, in some ways, the fact that I don't have a geography background has been an advantage for- Colleen Schnettler 21:45 Yeah. Michele Hansen 21:46 You know, for this because like, I don't come in, you know, with it, with all of these preconceived notions about why someone would want to do this. Colleen Schnettler 21:56 Yeah. Michele Hansen 21:56 So I think that can be really interesting when she gets her feet wet, and kind of a sense of what's going on, to try to talk to the customers. Colleen Schnettler 22:05 I think that's a great idea. I hope we can grow into that. I definitely think there's opportunity there. I think of her as like you, and I'm like Mathias in the power couple building of a company. So we'll see. I mean, she wants to get into mark, we kind of are going down this route, because I don't have enough time. I want to do it, I need to do it, and she wants to, really she wants to transition into a remote career that's flexible, like most parents, and she's really interested in SEO and marketing. So, I think it's gonna be a fun little adventure. I'm excited to see what she finds out. Part of this was also, I think we've talked a lot about, I have an interest in no-code. So I had a call with the Jetboost IO founder, Chris. Michele Hansen 22:51 Yeah, Chris. Colleen Schnettler 22:52 Who, I believe, you know, as well, because you're a mentor and he- Michele Hansen 22:55 Yeah, I mentor him through Earnest Capital. I literally just had a call with him the other day. Colleen Schnettler 23:02 So I had a call with him, independent of your call with him. Michele Hansen 23:06 Which we didn't know about. Colleen Schnettler 23:07 Which we did not plan, to talk about opportunities in the webflow space. And, so I think one of the first things I'm going to have my sister, well, not the first, but one of the things my sister is going to try and do this month is really see if there's a need in Webflow. The thing about Webflow is, in 2018, Webflow introduced their own file uploader. So before that, there was a huge need for it. Now, they have their own file uploader. So it might be that what I provide is no longer, you know, something people need or want. So before I go and build an integration with Webflow, I'm going to have her do some Sales Safari research. They have really active forums to kind of see what people are looking forward to see if there's opportunity there. Michele Hansen 23:54 Yeah, Chris was telling me that they have a, like, feature upload, like a feature up vote thing where people go in and request features. It's exciting. Colleen Schnettler 24:03 Yeah, I think it's gonna be great. I think, I think it'll be fun. It'll be good to have someone actually dedicated to reading Reddit and Webflow forums and Heroku forums and whatever, to try to identify, you know, the need there and in the file uploading space. And then with the SEO research, you know, I can then either write the content myself or hire someone to write technical content, depending on my time commitments, my time, you know, what I can do, so. Yeah. Yeah, I saw that. I think, you know, the interesting thing about file uploading and Webflow is they have a maximum size of 10 megs, and I, you can't do multiple file uploads at the same time. So the question is, how many people really care? Like, who really, did, are there enough people that are uploading large files, or want to do maximum, or, I'm sorry, want to do multiple file uploads at a time that it would be worth it for me to make an integration into that space. So, so, you know, she's going to kind of dive into that and see what we can find out and like, this is just gonna be a fun marketing learning time because I built this thing because I wanted to build something, as you know, and I'm really happy that I built something to scratch my own need because it's worked out really well. But I still haven't really honed in on who I can serve best, and there's lots of opportunities out there, so. Michele Hansen 25:42 There's a lot to be, I think, sort of learned and discovered here, and, and also that SEO work you can do, that, like, that can also inform the kind of feature development that you do, too, like, because there, I mean, this just happened to us the other day, like there was something that I noticed we had a couple of customers ask us how to do, and so I wrote up an article about how to do it, and then, but like, to basically do it manually. And then I just saw this morning that it's, like, our top performing growing piece of content and has like a 400% increase in clicks, and- Wow. And looking into like, oh, how might we add that? And it's like, okay, maybe we should like there's, you know, SEO isn't just for bringing in customers, but also for figuring out what, what people might want as well. Colleen Schnettler 26:38 Yeah, and you've said before, I think that SEO is your number one channel? Activation channel? Michele Hansen 26:44 Yeah. We, we don't run paid ads. We don't do any outbound sales. Like, we occasionally sponsor conferences, but that's mostly because, like, our friends run them, and it's just like, kind of- Colleen Schnettler 27:00 Yeah. Michele Hansen 27:00 To support our friends, like we're a sponsor of Longhorn PHP, the Texas PHP conference. But like, that's just because our friend runs it. Colleen Schnettler 27:12 Okay. Michele Hansen 27:13 It's not very, like, organized or intentional. It's just like, sure, like, we'll help you out. Colleen Schnettler 27:18 Now, when you do SEO, do you do, like, now you just said, like, you were talking to a customer and then you got this idea of a good page, but do you do traditional keyword research as well? Michele Hansen 27:34 Maybe? Like, we use Ahrefs. Colleen Schnettler 27:36 Yeah, I don't, okay. Michele Hansen 27:39 I don't know, I still don't know how to pronounce the name of that company. Colleen Schnettler 27:42 I know, yeah, I don't either. Michele Hansen 27:43 But yeah, Ahrefs, we use that. We used Google Search Console for a long time, which is honestly a really good tool, and it's free, because Ahrefs is, is pretty expensive. But yeah, you can do keyword research and rankings and referrers and all that kind of stuff. I don't keep a super close eye on it. Um, but yeah, whenever we're, you know, we, every so often, like every couple weeks or so we go in and look at what content is performing and what else we might need and whatnot. Colleen Schnettler 28:19 Cool. Yeah, I don't know. I really haven't done, I've done absolutely zero keyword research. So I think it's probably worth our time to put a little bit of effort into that to see what people are searching for to get a better idea of how to use those tools. Michele Hansen 28:36 Yeah, I mean, our approach is, you know, find those keywords and then write stuff that people might be searching for and show them how to do it with Geocodio, and I think I like that because I, and I think we talked about this is kind of something that I have struggled with with the book, is, like, I struggle with sounding salesy, like and writing, like conversion copy, like, it's just really something that I feel like I sound way too infomercial-y when I tried to write it. Like, you know, there are people who are really good at writing conversion copy and sounding like a natural human being when they write it, like, I mean, you know, Amy Hoy is one of those people. But I, you know, I might as well you know, be like, hocking something on the Home Shopping Network when I try to write it. So, so like writing be like, oh, you're searching for geocoding? Hello, we do geocoding. Here is how you can do it in like, like, all of these different ways you can do it and rephrasing all of those different things. And then here's where you can try it. And then here's where you can do it. And it's very, like, straightforward. That's like, maybe you need it. Maybe you don't. All of those options are fine. Not, like, buy this now or you will die. Colleen Schnettler 29:56 Yeah, I'm hoping with our keyword research and kind of, like, since I haven't done this at all, you know, with what, the marketing research she does, as you've talked about, I think a lot of that is going to inform my content and building out future landing pages. So, that's really going to be a focus for me is like, trying to get content and you know, pages out there that appeal to people. Michele Hansen 30:24 Well, I'm going to be spending the next week working on the book and you're going to be onboarding your sister and getting this research going. Sounds like we got our work cut out for us. Colleen Schnettler 30:34 It's gonna be a good week. Michele Hansen 30:37 All right. Well, I guess that'll wrap us up for now. Thank you so much for listening, and we'll talk to you next week.
Marketing an eBook
Michele Hansen 00:00Welcome back to Software Social. This episode is sponsored by the website monitoring tool, Oh Dear. We use Oh Dear to keep track of SSL certificates. If an SSL certificate is about to expire, we get an alert beforehand. We have automated processes to renew them, so we use Oh Dear as an extra level of peace of mind. You can sign up for a ten day free trial with no credit card required at OhDear.app. Michele Hansen 00:28Hey, welcome back to Software Social. So today we're doing something kind of fun. We're leaning on the social part of Software Social, and we have invited our friend, Sean Fioritto, to join us today. Sean Fioritto 00:44Hey guys. Thanks for having me. Colleen Schnettler 00:47Hi Sean. Thanks for being here. Michele Hansen 00:48So, and the reason why we asked Sean, in addition to being a great person, is that Sean wrote a book called Sketching With CSS, and as you all know, I am writing a book and figuring it out. And there is a lot of stuff I haven't figured out, especially when it comes to, like, actually selling the book. Like, I feel like that, I feel like the, writing the book is, like, I feel like I kind of got a handle on that. The whole selling the book thing, like, not so much. Um, so we thought it would be kind of helpful to have Sean come on, since like, he's done this successfully. Colleen Schnettler 021:36So Sean, I would love to start with a little bit of your background with the book. What inspired you to write it? How did you get started? Where did that idea come from? Sean Fioritto 01:50Yeah, so I wanted to quit my job. Colleen Schnettler 01:53Don't we all? Michele Hansen 01:55Honest goal. Sean Fioritto 01:56I always wanted to go on my own, be independent, run my own business. That's been a goal for a very long time. So, I tried various things, you know, in my spare time, with limited to no success for years and years before that, and I was just getting sick of, the plan was, you know, I'm like, okay, I have this job. And in my spare time, I'm gonna get something going and then, and that just wasn't working. So I was getting impatient. Anyway, I ended up signing up with Amy Hoy's 30x500 class. This was seven or eight years ago. So, I signed up for that class. Actually, wait, I'm getting my timeline a little mixed up. So, I started reading stuff by Amy Hoy. It's funny, I'd actually bought another book that she wrote, and she used her sort of process for that book. And I bought that for my, for my job earlier. And I was like, oh, this Amy Hoy person is interesting. And so I started reading her blog, and then she has these things she writes called ebombs. You guys are probably familiar with that term. But they're basically content that, it's educational content directed at her target, you know, customer, which she would call her audience. So I was just, she, at that point, she had started 30x500. I think it was actually called a Year of Hustle at that point. And so she had all this content, and I was just devouring it, because I was like, she gets me. She knows my problem, and this is awesome. So I was just reading everything that she could write, that she wrote, and, you know, finding any resource that she'd ever written about, like, what's her process, because she was talking about this mysterious process that she has, she, she would talk about it. And I was able to sort of reverse engineer part of her course, the main thing called Sales Safari. So I'm not, I'm at my job, coasting, doing a half-assed job, spending a lot of time doing Sales Safari, trying to figure out what, what product I should do. Not product, but that's not the way to think about it with Sales Safari, but trying to figure out like, what, who, what audience should I focus on? And what problems do they have, and what's the juiciest problem that makes sense for me to tackle? And then, and she would call them pains, by the way, not, not problems. So what's the juiciest pain that they have, for me, that was like, be the easiest for me to peel off, and, and work on. So I started digging, and it was like, alright, well, what audience makes sense for me? This is kind of the process, and it was like, you know, like web designers, web developers, because I was a web developer. And so like, what are the, you know, audiences that are close to audiences that I'm in is kind of ideal. So I started there, and then I just read and read and read. I probably put like, 80 hours of research time into that process. Colleen Schnettler 05:05Wow. Michele Hansen 05:06That's a lot. Sean Fioritto 05:06Of just reading and reading and reading and reading, and taking notes. And really understanding and whittling down and figuring out my audience, and figuring out, so the thinking, the benefit of that amount of time spent deliberately going through a process like that is that at some point, I became so in-tune with the audience that I could identify, and this is gonna pay off for you, Michele, this, this little story, because this feeds into like, how do you sell it. At some point, it meant that I could tell when a thing that I was, like a piece of content marketing that I was working on, was going to resonate very strongly with my audience and be worth the effort, if that makes sense. And it didn't really take much. Like, after I got done with that much amount of research, it was sort of, like, pretty trivial for me to come up with ideas for content that I could write that I knew people were gonna just eat up. And so that's, that's how I started building my, building my mailing list. And then that's how I eventually, Colleen, to your question, I came up with Sketching With CSS, which it was a solution to a pain point that I'd identified in my audience, which at that point was web designers. Colleen Schnettler 06:37How big did your mailing list grow? Sean Fioritto 06:39I have 20,000 people on my mail list. Colleen Schnettler 06:4120,000? Michele Hansen 06:42Holy guacamole. Sean Fioritto 06:46Yeah. So like I said, I got really good. No, no, no. Michele Hansen 06:51I've got like, 200 people on my mailing list, or like, 220. And like, for context, that's like, 200 more people than I ever expected to have on the mailing list, and hearing, like, 20,000 feels very far from, from 200. Sean Fioritto 07:10Yeah, well, let me say something that will hopefully be more reassuring. The, Amy and Alex, for example, they've been running 30x500, for years, and I think their mailing list is just now approximating, like 20,000 or so. And like, the, they have been making so much money with that course with a significantly smaller mailing list. And that's a really, like, high value product, too. So anyway, if it makes you feel any better, I really think they only have like, a couple 1000 people on their mailing list for a long time. And then, for me, I launched pre-sales of my book, at that point, my, I think I only had, boy, I used to, I used to have this memorized. But like, it's been so long now. But I think I only had like, it was less than 2000 I think. I think. So, and even then, I don't think you need that. I know people that have launched with much smaller lists than that, and, and it was fine. Because the people that are on your list now guarantee it, your, will be very interested in, in buying the book. You know, that'd be like a low, low barrier to entry, assuming like, your mailing list is one of the ways that you're thinking of selling the book. Michele Hansen 08:26Yeah, I guess. That's not a good answer. But like, I, I, I actually, I admit, I'm a little bit like, wary to kind of hit it too hard. Like, I would probably send out like, like, if I did a pre-sale, which I guess I should. Actually, I had someone a couple days ago, who has been reading the drafts, who actually I think is also a 30x500 student in the past, say that they wanted to, like, pre-buy the book and asked me how to do it. And I was like, that's a great question. I will figure that out. And like, so maybe do that, and then maybe one more when, like, the book comes out? Um, yeah, cuz, so I've been thinking about the newsletter as a way to draft the book because I find writing an email to be a lot easier than, like, staring at a blank cursor just, you know, blinking at me. And I guess I haven't really, like, and like, people signed up for it to read the draft of the book, so I guess I almost feel bad like, using it for sales too much. Like you know, I want to let people know that the book exists, but like, I don't want to. I don't know, does that. Sean Fioritto 09:45So, it's very considerate of you to think about that. Michele Hansen 09:52Another way of saying that another, also a way to not make any money off of this. Sean Fioritto 09:57Well, yeah, that, but also, it's kind of inconsiderate of you to not be thinking about all the people that really, really, really want to buy it and also would like to read anything that you're writing right now. Like, you're just completely leaving them out there to dry. And there are definitely people like that on your mailing list. So, they're like, there's like, some people on your mailing list are not going to be interested in your content if you're sending it too much, or, or just in general, really lightly interested in what you're writing about, or mistakenly signed up for your mailing list, which at this point, you probably don't have that problem. So like, to some extent, that's always the case, and it used to bother me a lot. I would send an email, and sales emails especially would result in bigger unsubscribes after every email, because you know, your little email tool tells you like, can, you know, so nice of it to tell you like, this many people unsubscribed after you sent this email. And it's always a big jump after like, a sales email. That used to bother me a lot. But then I started, kind of watching even my own behavior, and you probably do the same, and you probably like, look forward to some emails from some people that hit your inbox from some newsletters that you're looking forward to, and you'd very much like them to send you more. And then there's other people where you're like, well, I signed up for that, like, a couple years ago, and I just am not thinking about that anymore. And I need, like, to like, whittle down my content. So you unsubscribe. So then you become that unsubscribe number on the other end of the person sending the email, but like, you weren't annoyed, you didn't mind. It was just like, time to move on. And that's usually the case. So I think people can just unsubscribe as long as it's easy. I would literally put it at the top of my emails. So like, because I would send emails very infrequently. I was not disciplined about that. And I still don't think that that's a problem. But the, but because I sent them infrequently I put at the top like, hey, you know, you signed up for this, because you probably read this thing I wrote. You weren't interested in the book, whatever, if this is not for you anymore, just unsubscribe, like, first thing. So that always made me feel better about sending emails. And also, I don't know, I think that's the right thing to do so people just know, like upfront, that you know, oh, okay, there's the easy to find unsubscribe button when they're done. And then that's fine. Michele Hansen 12:26We did that for Geocodio once, like, I want to say it was like a year or two ago, and our lists had been like, super disorganized. And like I think we had, we were sending stuff like, we send like one or two marketing emails a year from MailChimp. And then we also had Intercom, and those things didn't sync up. And so like, sometimes people would unsubscribe in intercom and then like, not be unsubscribed in MailChimp, or like vice versa. And then, since we didn't send a lot of email, we used MailChimp's pay as you go. And then they just like, shut down their page and go option a couple of years ago, even though we had a ton of credit, which was a little annoying. And, and then, so like, the next time, and I think we migrated over to Mailcoach. And so the next time we send out an email, we actually like for some reason, we were like, there's probably a lot of people on this who have meant to unsubscribe. And so at the very top of the next email, we put an unsubscribe link and we also put a link to delete their account. And like, a bunch of people did it, but then our number of people who were unsubscribing later on like, went like, way down. So it was like, ripping off the band aid basically. Sean Fioritto 13:36Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I think like, I don't know, when people unsubscribe from Geocodio, at this point, it doesn't like, break your heart anymore, I'm guessing. Right? Michele Hansen 13:45No, I mean, we're like, we're kind of like jumping into something that has been very much on my mind, but I hadn't been wanting to admit that it was there and just trying to like, pretend that it's not there, which is all the dealing with rejection around either, you know, people being mad that they were being sold to or negative reviews. And I like, you know, it sounds like you kind of have a process for, like, accepting those feelings. Sean Fioritto 14:19It used to bother me a lot. Michele Hansen 14:22Like, yeah. Sean Fioritto 14:24Yeah, it used to bother me a lot. There are two things that I hated. I hated frontpage Hacker News, and I hated getting angry emails. Michele Hansen 14:33Oh. Sean Fioritto 14:35I also got creepy, tons of creepy emails. Once you get, like, past a certain threshold and the number of subscribers you have, the creepiness factor increases. Yeah. Yeah. But the, but I got used to all of that. I just realized, like, there's just some percentage of people that are just angry right now or whatever, like, whatever they're going through. And I know that, like, I am very carefully crafting things such that the most, most of my content is not self-serving, most of it is directly a result of research that tells me that this is a problem that people are having, and now I'm helping you. So I'm like, I never feel bad about those, and then even the sales emails, I started to not feel bad about those, too, because I'm like, this is also a thing that's helping you. But that took a while to get to. I mean, honestly, it did. And it got worse when it became my only source of income, which added extra, extra feelings. But yeah, there's a lot of feelings to like, get through. And now I have just developed more of a thick skin, you know. Like, I'm not terrified of having a super popular article anymore, or, you know, stuff like that. That doesn't, that doesn't bother me anymore. I think it just came with time, just like with you and Geocodio. I mean, I'm sure you are used to like, some fluctuations of revenue, which probably bothered you a lot at the beginning, but now, not so much. I mean, I'm just, I'm guessing, but that seems, you know, I'm sure there's some things they're that you've got a thick skin about now. Michele Hansen 16:12Oh, my gosh. I mean, for years, every time a plan downgrade came through, like every time it was like a punch in the gut. Like, and yeah, I think now that I, I guess I trust the revenue more, I'm not as impacted by it. It's more like, oh, I wonder, like, why that was. Like, did their project end, or like, you know, like, what happened? But yeah, in the beginning, especially when it was first our like, when it, when it became my, like, full time income. I mean, as, as you said, like, that is really painful. Like, I'm curious, like, so you, so like, when did you start writing the book? Sean Fioritto 1705Let me think, like, like the year, or a timing, like, in terms of the timeline? Michele Hansen 17:12Whichever one you want to go with. Sean Fioritto 17:15Yeah, I can't remember the year cuz it was a while ago. It was like, eight years ago. Michele Hansen 17:19Oh, wow. Okay. So you started, Sean Fioritto 17:22I think it was 2013 is when I started. Yeah. Michele Hansen 17:24You did the, sounds like you did 30x500 first, right? Sean Fioritto 17:30Yeah, I had the, I had started writing the book before 30x500. But like I said, I was ,I was following her process already at sort of reverse engineered it. And then I felt like I just owed her the money for the, for the course. So, plus I wanted to meet her, so. Michele Hansen 17:44Yeah, so you started like, the research process basically, like, like 30x500 like, was only one part of your, like, research. Like, cuz you said you had sort of, you had figured out what her process was based on the blog posts and whatnot before you took the course. Yeah. Sean Fioritto 18:00Yeah. Michele Hansen 18:01Okay. Sean Fioritto 18:02Yeah, and at that point, I had already generated the research I needed to see, to choose Sketching With CSS as a, as a product. I pretty much had, I think I had a landing page. I hadn't done pre-sales yet, but I was, I was gearing up for that. Michele Hansen 18:17You are so organized. Colleen Schnettler 18:19Michele, do you have a landing page? Michele Hansen 18:22There is a website. Colleen Schnettler 18:24Okay, I didn't know. Michele Hansen 18:26I haven't told anyone about it because I talk about, Colleen Schnettler 18:29Your secret website. Michele Hansen 18:30I actually have two. I thought of the domain name, or like, the name for it in the shower, and then I like, immediately like, ran for the computer to see if it was available. And I actually bought two, and then I think we put, like, a book, oh my god, I just typed it wrong. Colleen Schnettler 18:55This is the part where you tell us what it is. Michele Hansen 18:57There's nothing on it, and actually, if I say it now then we have to have something on it by, Colleen Schnettler 19:01Well, there's no way to pressurize a situation than to tell us right now. Michele Hansen 19:06So okay, it is DeployEmpathy.com. Okay, okay, crap, now I have it out. I don't even know how I'm going to sell it. Okay. So um, and I think I have another one, too. But yeah, we have like, a very basic like, WordPress template on it. Like, it's not, it's not, okay. While I was trying to figure it, so like, people keep asking me like, oh, like, when's your book coming out? And I'm like, I have no idea. I have never done this before. I don't know what steps are ahead of me. So, okay, so you started writing the book while you were doing research concurrently, and then how, and you were also, Sean Fioritto 19:48Oh, sorry, there's two types of research. Michele Hansen 19:50Okay. Sean Fioritto 19:51So, we could clarify that. There was my audience research and understanding the pain that I was solving, and then there's the research about the book. I didn't have to do as much research about the book. I mean, I already, like, the type of book I ended up writing, I already had, you know, the expertise I needed to write that book. So yeah, I was, audience research was already done by the time I was writing Sketching With CSS. So I wasn't doing research like that while writing the book. Michele Hansen 20:16Okay. And then you also had the landing page up, and you started building your list while you were doing this research and writing phase. Okay, so how long did it take you from, like, the time that you had the idea for the book to when people could, like, buy and download the book, like, just like, the big picture? Like, how long did that process take you? Sean Fioritto 20:45Well, I mean, keep in mind, that ton of the work was while I was still full time working, in theory. Michele Hansen 20:56I mean, I guess I am, too, right? Like, this is not my full time thing. Sean Fioritto 21:00Yeah, but I think like, from, from, from research to launch, like, book is done, it was like, in the four to six month range. Michele Hansen 21:14Okay. Okay. So I think I started at like, the end of February with the newsletter, and it's May, so that's like, yeah. I do feel like I'm doing a little bit of, I think what we have termed Colleen does, of putzing in the code garden, rather than selling things or doing marketing or whatnot. And I am totally doing that with my manuscript, I guess you could call it. Sounds so fancy. And just like, moving commas around and like, totally procrastinating on making images for it, like totally, totally procrastinating on that. Okay, so it took you like, four to six months to get to that point. Sean Fioritto 21:59Yeah, there was a, there was a launch in between there. Michele Hansen 22:02So when was the like, so was your pre-sale your launch? Or like, how does that work? Sean Fioritto 22:08You could do lots of launches. Michele Hansen 22:11This is like, the part that is like, just sort of like, you know, in my head, it's like step one, write book, like, step two of question, question question, and step three, profit. Like that's sort of where I am right now. Sean Fioritto 22:24I feel like you're already doing most of the things that I would do. The, the one thing, so alright. So you're, you're working in public, so you're getting interest via Twitter. You're writing to your mailing list. You're doing the right thing, which is writing content for your book that, you know, is also useful to your mailing list, like, independently. Like, like getting double bang for your buck is smart when you're doing this kind of business. So you're keeping your list warm enough. People are, you're building anticipation, people are telling you you're building anticipation, because they're like, hey, when do I get to buy this book? So, you know, you're basically doing all the things. As, you know, from from my perspective, looking in, it seems like you're just accidentally or intuitively doing the right, doing the right stuff. The thing that's missing between like, what you are doing and what I did is probably, I would press pause on book writing and do specific content marketing things just to build my mailing list. Michele Hansen 23:37But I love putzing in the code garden. Sean Fioritto 23:39And I'm not, I'm not, sorry, I didn't mean to say that as like, you should do that. That's what I would, as in like, I was doing that. And I don't know, Michele Hansen 23:48And you wrote, like, a successful book and sold it, and it was your full time job for a period of time. So you're kind of here because you're good at this and because I need to be told these things. Sean Fioritto 23:59Right. Well, I'm just saying what I did. But it's, it's really ultimately you get to pick and choose what you do. The, you know, I actually happen to very much enjoy the process of coming up with content that I knew would be popular and writing it and sharing it everywhere and doing all that stuff. And also, I knew I needed to because I was going to try and make this my full time living, so I'm like, I need more people on my mailing list. So that was pretty important to me based on the goals I was trying to achieve. The, the other thing is though, like, even with a small mailing list, your book as the, a lot of book sales are gonna come from word of mouth. Like, I sort of forced the book onto the scene. But like, it's not a, the Sketching With CSS is not like a, while the marketing theme is, like, the marketing message at the time, it doesn't connect anymore because the world has moved on from that phase of web development. But like, while people could read the marketing, the landing page and connect really strongly, and, you know, be interested in the book, the book didn't really lend itself well to word of mouth, because it's not like, it was not like a, oh, you should read this, like, it's this lightweight, like reading recommendation. It's got to be, you've got to be like, ready to commit to learning a bunch of code. So it's like, there's like, a smaller group of people at any given time that are like, at that point, does that make sense? Versus your book, it's, it seems like, it's like a higher level of value, like, it's a more abstract, then like, here are the, learn this code. Here's how to type in Git commands, here's how to do that. You know, like, I was really like, down at the, like, here's what you're gonna be doing day to day in your job. And you're giving them the same message, but like, in a way that can be, that is at like, a higher level, it's maybe easier to read, you know, in your spare time. It's like a business book, has the same qualities of, like, successful business books. So, I think that you may not have to do any of the content marketing stuff that I was doing is what I'm getting at, because, like, I can already tell, I'm ready to read your book, and I'm ready to recommend it to people, because it does it solve, like, a question that people have all the time, and a problem people have, and they're like, oh, I wish I knew how to, you know, talk to my customers more effectively, or understand, you know, the types of customers that are gonna be interested my products, or what problems they're having, etc, etc, right? Customer research, that kind of thing. That is a topic of conversation that comes up a lot in my communities that I hang out in, and so, you know, your book’s gonna be like, at-hand for me to recommend. That's, that's what I suspect. That's my, that's my theory for your book. Michele Hansen 27:00Yeah, I guess, I mean, there's parts of it, definitely. Sean Fioritto 27:02It's also got a catchy name. Michele Hansen 27:04Hey, I thought of it in the shower, and then I ran to register the domain, which is exactly what you are supposed to do when you have a good idea for something right? Like, this is the process. Colleen Schnettler 27:13Definitely. Michele Hansen 27:13Like, Sean Fioritto 27:14You already had a book though, so it's different. You're like, I'm gonna write this book called Deploying Empathy. And you already, like, wrote it. So I think you're good to go. Michele Hansen 27:20Yeah, actually I didn't have a name for a while. Okay, so, so something else I have, like, a question on, which you kind of just sort of touched on with that about, like, super practical elements. So some, some of it is you can, you can definitely sit down and, and you could probably read it in a sitting or two. But then there's, there's the stuff that's more like a toolbox with all of the different scripts, which, by the way earlier, when you were saying like finding the type of content that people are really hungry for like, that, like, those scripts are the thing that people are the most excited about. The problem is, there's only like, so many sort of general scenarios. So I've basically written the main ones, but, so something I noticed with your site, which is SketchingWithCSS.com, just for everybody's reference, so you have the book plus code, which is like, your basic option for $39. And then you have one with the video package for 99. And then you have another one with more stuff for 249. And then there's one with like, all the things for your team for 499. And so, something that people have asked me for is like, like, there's the book piece, and then there's also, people want to be able to easily replicate the scripts so that they can then like, use them to build their own scripts off of it, and like, modify them and whatnot. So people have said, like, well, that could be like a Notion Template, like, bundle that it's sold with, or Google Docs or, or whatever. And so I've been like, kind of like, how do you sell the book with this like, other bundle? And like, can you also do that, like if you sell like a physical book to like, if I did it through Amazon, like, could I also sell a Notion Template bundle or something? Like, I just, I'm kind of, that sort of like, something that's on my mind is like, I'm not really sure how to approach that. And I'm wondering if you could kind of like, talk through your approach to creating like, different tiers, and what you provided at those different tears. Sean Fioritto 29:33Mm hmm. Right. So, at the time, I know, I have a more sophisticated thought process about it now, but the, when I did the initial set of tiers, it was because Nathan Barry told me that I should have three tears because it tripled his revenue. So I was like, oh, okay. Michele Hansen 29:53I mean, that's a good reason. Sean Fioritto 29:55Like, we just happened to be at the bacon biz. That was the other person that I was, I bought his book. So here's the thing I always do, I would buy people's books that way I could email them. Michele Hansen 30:08Is that a thing? Like, if you buy someone's book, like, do you have a license to email them? Sean Fioritto 30:13Well, you get one. You get one email. And as long as it's, you know, not creepy. That's, that's the main thing. But yeah. So we had a bake in this conference in real life, and then, yeah, that's what he, that's what, he told me that I was like, oh, yeah. Okay. I think Patrick McKenzie was there, too, and he said something similar. So I was like, oh, because they did a landing page tear down for me at that conference. That's right. Michele Hansen 30:36Wow. Nice. Sean Fioritto 30:37Yeah. So anyway, so I did the, I did that, because somebody told me to. And in fact, it's true. Like, if I hadn't done that, you could just see like, the way the purchases ended up that like, that absolutely almost tripled my revenue. So, Michele Hansen 30:53Oh, wow. Yeah. Sean Fioritto 30:54Which is a big deal for books, because it's not like, yeah, anyway. The, the, the way, the way you were talking about it, though, because there's another way to think about it. I was thinking about in tiers with the book, but another way to think about it is in terms of a product funnel. So your, your book could be super cheap, and it is the entry point into your product, your little product universe. Because like, you're, what you're doing is naturally, because you're literally writing a book about this, listening to your customers and understanding that they have other like, you're really understanding what their, their pain is, and you see that there's different ways that you could solve it for them, right? Those things as a product. So you could bundle that stuff into your book, you could create tiers, like I did. And maybe it does make sense, we talk about this more, but like there's, there's, there's different ways to do tiers with books that, that makes sense, that aren't exactly what I did. But also, like what you're describing is basically different courses. So let's, so, like, people that run these info product businesses, like, what you end up with is like, you've got this world of courses, and you've got this world of content. And people come in from like, search, you know, or whatever channel that you've worked on, usually it's like an SEO channel, like through your content. And then they enter your automated marketing system. And then the first thing they do is buy probably your cheapest thing, your book, and then you're moving them on to the next level into your email marketing system to get them to start looking at, you know, your course, which is like a more in-depth version of the book, or whatever. So anyway, I'm just sort of sketching out, like how, how these content marketing businesses tend to work. So you kind of end up in their little universe and then you just get bounced around all their various email automation. If you've been in anybody's like, any internet famous person's little, like, email world, you'd probably notice eventually, if you're there for long enough, like, I already got that email. And so anyway, so let's there's like a different way of looking at it. You don't have to do tiers. You could just sell your book, you know, digital version, here's the hardback version, you make it cheap, and then, you know, lots of people, lots of people read it. And then you, turns out that this is still really interesting to you, you still like solving people's problems and you're like, you know what, like, I should release like, some recordings of customer interviews as like, examples or whatever, you know, and then you peel that off into a different product and you sell that, and slowly you build up this machine, basically. Also the guy to talk to would be Keith Perhac, who's in our group, too. Michele Hansen 33:51Oh, yeah, I should totally talk to Keith. Colleen Schnettler 33:53Did he write a book? Sean Fioritto 33:55Yeah, he did but also his, his job before running SegMetrics was with the internet famous person that you guys know of that ran these huge content marketing programs and had this whole product funnel thing and all this stuff that I was talking about. So Keith is like, expert on that topic. Michele Hansen 34:15I guess I don't know if I want to go that direction just now because I do, you know, I do have a job. Um, so I'm, yeah. Sean Fioritto 34:28You could just be like Amy. Michele Hansen 34:33So, I, yeah, so I guess I have to think about that, and thinking about like, like, where to price it and those bundles and whatnot. Actually, I have another super like, mechanical question. So, between the time you announced the pre-order, and when you, like, people could actually like, to like, first of all, like, what was the incentive for somebody to pre-order? And then, what was the time from like, when you announced the pre-order to when you like, people could actually get it? Like, how far in advance do you do a pre-order? And what do you like, do you have to give people something? Sean Fioritto 35:10Yeah, I can't, I actually can't remember. I can't remember, what did I do? I did a pre-order. I can't even remember if I gave him the book or not. I don't think you have to. Some people just buy it ready to go. I think I, I probably did give ‘em like, here's everything I got so far, and it's gonna change, but, you know, here's that. Here's what I've got. And, you know, whatever version, like, people don't care if it's like, not even formatted or, you know, give me everything you got. Because the people that are going to do that are ready to just devour it. And then also, some of them might be like, I'm not wanting to, I don't want it right now, but I had a discount, right? So there's like, the pre-order, it's like a little bit cheaper to buy it now. Because I knew I was going to be selling it at like, as, like, a $40 product. So the discount, I think I sold it initially for pre-orders for like, 29 bucks, or maybe less even. Yeah, maybe like 20 bucks or something like that. Michele Hansen 36:08Okay, and it's 30 now. Colleen Schnettler 36:11Yeah, it probably makes sense for you, as someone who, I'm using it and referencing it, even though it's not done, because those scripts, like you were saying, are so valuable to people. Michele Hansen 36:20Yeah, I mean, I guess, I guess I sort of like, feel like everybody already has everything. I mean, reality like, they, they don't because everything has been changed so much. But I guess I need to like, set it up, too. Like, I need to decide on a platform to use to actually sell it. Sean Fioritto 36:42Oh, I didn't do that at first. Michele Hansen 36:45Okay. So did you just use Stripe? Sean Fioritto 36:47I think I used PayPal. I was literally like, here's my email, send PayPal money there. And then I sent it to ‘em. Michele Hansen 36:55How did you deal with that and sales tax and stuff? Sean Fioritto 36:57I don't think that existed. But also I would have just ignored it. Michele Hansen 37:03Okay, yeah, I guess I'm in the EU, so I kind of can't. Sean Fioritto 37:08It's the wild west out here. Michele Hansen 37:12'Murica. Sean Fioritto 37:15No, I had a really bad tax bill the first year because I ignored all of that stuff. Michele Hansen 37:19Oh, okay, so you're not advising. This is not financial advice. Sean Fioritto 37:26I'm just saying what I did. I'm not saying you should do that. Michele Hansen 37:30This may or may not be good advice, what you are hearing, just so you know. All of this may be bad advice. Okay, so I basically, Sean Fioritto 37:39I got audited, too, actually. I forgot about that. So don't, yeah, definitely don't do that. Being audited is not as bad as it sounds, it turns out but that's, anyway, that's a different story. Michele Hansen 38:55I was, I feel like I should do a, like a talk hear, hear, and be like, well, on that massive disappointment, thank you and good evening. Um, so okay. So you know, I feel, see, I feel like I look at you and you're like, you, like, have your stuff together about selling a book. And the fact that you had all like, you had these fears about, like, getting rejected by it, and like, put all this into it, and you did it without having done it before. And, you know, made mistakes, looking back, that you are now helping me not replicate. Um, I feel, I feel a little, I feel a little better about this. And also, I guess I have a deadline now, which is five days from now to have the website functional. So, that's fun. Colleen Schnettler 38:51You're welcome. I'm here for you, Michele. Just push you over the cliff. Michele Hansen 38:56Like, copy paste content into it, right? Um, I noticed actually that Sean, like, your site has a ton of testimonials, and that's something I have been sort of tepidly starting to collect. Like, I guess I'm a little bit afraid to, like, ask people for testimonials. But I've gotten a couple. Sean Fioritto 39:17So what you do is you write them the testimonial, then you email them and you say can I use this as your testimonial? And then they say yes, and then you put it on your page. Michele Hansen 39:25That's lower friction than what I've been asking for. Um, but, but that makes sense. Sean Fioritto 39:32I mean, I would also peel out, so they said something good in an email and I'd copy it and then change it so it sounded better, and then, can I use this as a testimonial? Michele Hansen 39:39Yeah. Yeah. Sean Fioritto 39:42I mean, when I say sounds better, I mean, just like copy edit, right? Michele Hansen 39:45I mean, I guess, like, we do that with Geocodio. And I think, like, Colleen and I have talked about this how, I guess I've like, gotten over all of these fears with Geocodio, and I'm so much more confident with it. And maybe it's because it doesn't have my name, like, directly on it, or it's just been around for like seven and a half years now. Versus this, I'm like, I'm so much more unsure. Like, Sean Fioritto 40:07You haven't done this in a long time. Michele Hansen 40:08I never have written a book. Sean Fioritto 40:12Well, whatever. Like, you haven't done a launch. Because you can launch anything. You could have launched Geocodio. Michele Hansen 40:18Yeah. Sean Fioritto 40:18You could've launched it this way, too. But you just haven't done that before. And it's weird, launch is weird because launch is like, everybody, pay attention to me now. Michele Hansen 40:29Yeah, I'm just super uncomfortable with that. Sean Fioritto 40:33Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's what it feels like. But then when I realized it was, if you're doing it, right, it's not that. It feels like it, but you're not actually making it about you. It's about them. And then for like, a couple days, you know, you gotta be like, here's the product, you can buy it, and you got to be like sending more emails than you normally. Lots of people will unsubscribe. But like I said, those people are not subscribing. Some of them probably hate you, but you know, most of them are probably just unsubscribing because like, they're, turns out, they weren't interested now that they actually see what it is. They're like, oh, no, that's not what I was thinking it was, or whatever. You get used to it, like, you definitely get used to it. I did it for a couple products. And over time, I just didn't care anymore. Like, I absolutely felt like I was doing a good for people. And I know that I was because I didn't get nearly as much. I think that some of my friends who were in that space would tell me that I needed to go harder, you know, like a little more salesy than I was. But anyway, the point is, Michele Hansen 41:39The thing is, like, I'm not like, I'm not averse to marketing, I think, I mean, this is something that like, we were actually talking about the other day, like people, like technical people being averse to like, sales and marketing and like, like, I have written the book with this in mind that like, hopefully, like, people will recommend it, like, like an audience of the book is like product leaders and marketing leaders who need to teach their teams how to do this. And so like, that's an audience I'm writing for because if they then they have like, buy the book for like five people, and then if they get a new job, or promotion, or whatever, in two years, and they need to teach the team like their new team how to do it again. Um, and so like, that is like, comfortable for me. But yeah, I guess as you were saying, like, hitting the sales hard is, is a little bit uncomfortable. And I guess I will just have to deal with a couple of days of like, that being awkward and like, doing the whole, like, you know, I don't know, like home shopping network style, like, and here's this book, and you can have it for the low, low price of $29. Plus, all of these bundles. Like, Sean Fioritto 42:43So, the thing that, okay, maybe this will help you, but they would help, it helped me, is I just focus on, on the, on the people that are, on your audience, and like your copy and everything is about them. It's about you. You're using, I know you're doing this, right, so you're gonna use the word you in your copy. Like, you never use the word I in your copy, right? So everything is about them. You've done all this research, you know, them, you know, you know, the problems they're facing, you know the pains they're having. And so you could just keep talking about that, talking about that. Launch, then, is then just like, more of those types of emails, like, a higher cadence than you're used to, which is still just about them. And then you're hitting them with like, okay, and now it's here. Like, you're, the whole time you're telling them it's coming, it's coming, it's coming. And then now it's here, here's what's in it, and you're gonna have these emails that just say, here's everything that's in it, and then here's questions that people might have, email that follows up, and then hey, this is gonna end in like a certain amount of time, follow up and then you got one hour left, you know, email. So you do these, you do this sequence of emails, but like, you have to remember when you're sending those that are the most uncomfortable that some people are really, really excited, and if you don't send them that stuff, they won't buy it and they'll, they'll regret it. Like, there's some people that genuinely are very excited and super thrilled to get those emails. Michele Hansen 44:03Can I run a, I have like, a tagline, or not like, a headline I have been throwing around in my head. Can I run it past you? Sean Fioritto 44:12Yeah. For an article? Michele Hansen 44:13No, for the book, but like, so like, this would be the like, main headline on the site. Sean Fioritto 44:18Yeah, yeah. Michele Hansen 44:21Your time is too valuable to spend it building things people don't want. Sean Fioritto 44:27Perfect. I mean, it's a little wordy, but yeah, like, the concept is perfect. Michele Hansen 44:32I will work on the wordiness. Sean Fioritto 44:36I mean, it's really, it's good, though. That's perfect. Michele Hansen 44:38It's good. I guess it's good enough, right? It's good enough for me to slap a site together in the next, checks watch, five days, and, and get that going. Sean Fioritto 44:50Yeah, yeah, for sure. Like, you could roll with that as an H2 on a landing page. Easy. Yeah. That would be fine the way it is. Michele Hansen 44:57Cool. Second image of the book. All right. There's all this stuff I'll have to do, but I guess I'll just be working away at this. Sean Fioritto 45:04You know what would be fun for you? I have an archived version of like, my old initial website, if you go to, oh, it doesn't work anymore. Michele Hansen 45:15Can I look it up on Internet Archive? Or it's like, Sean Fioritto 45:19Probably you can, yeah. Yeah, it doesn't. I used to have it just up so that I could, you could go to the URL. But yeah, so you'd have to go through the Internet Archive. But I had, and I did a, I did a write up on the landing page tear down and discussed screenshots from the, from the old version. It was truly, truly awful. But I sold $7,000 worth of book through it. So, Michele Hansen 45:40Can I ask you how much you sold overall? Do you reveal that? Sean Fioritto 45:44Yeah, yeah, of course. So it's actually hard to know because the, well, because as I've revealed I'm not fantastic about keeping track of my finances, or I wasn't then, but the, the book, through its lifespan, has made about $150,000. Michele Hansen 46:06Whoa. Sean Fioritto 46:07And most of that was the first two years because I was really, really actively pushing it. And then it just sort of, like, continued to make sales in dribs and drabs, and now it makes, probably, I don't know, I think I sold $1,000 worth of it last year, which makes sense, because it's pretty out of date at this point. Michele Hansen 46:28That'd be interesting to know why people are still buying it. Sean Fioritto 46:32Well, because the concept of designing in a browser is still something that people, you know, talk about from time to time. Should designers write code, or should they be using Figma, or at the time, you know, Sketch or Photoshop, I think all my copy is about Photoshop. So, you know, so like, I think that that concept is still valid. My copy is a little dated, the, the tech inside the book is a little, little dated at this point, though, still useful. So yeah, I think that is just the, so that was one of the things that I learned for content marketing was the, so if you want something to be really like, a really big hit, and to sort of like, make the rounds on the internet, you know, just those articles, it's sometimes just like, everybody's reading. The key to those is there has to be, well, there's like three rules. But like, one of the rules is, it has to be something everybody's talking about right now. And so at the time, everyone was talking about should we design in the browser? That was a big point of conversation. I would say now, like a similar level of conversation would be people talking about how much they hate single page apps, like in the Ruby on Rails community and trying to like, get off of that, right. So like, if you wrote a book about building single page app equivalents in Hotwire or something like that, that would probably resonate really, really well with that community right now. And you'd get a lot of free buzz when it's, people are already talking about it. So that's the problem. I think that that's why, like, hardly anybody's buying it now. But still, people are talking about that. So you get like, a little bit. And then also, I have all these marketing automated things that are still running. So like, I have some content that I accidentally wrote that has a lot of Google traffic, right? Like, I didn't accidentally write it, but I accidentally, like, did some search engine optimization on it. And so I get quite a bit of traffic from those pages, and then they end up signing up for, like, my tutorial things. And then they're in my little email automation thing that I set up, and eventually they get a pitch and then they, and then they buy. So there's some trickle down of that. Michele Hansen 48:50That makes sense. So, I guess, and this will be my last question. Um, is there anything else I should know about selling a book? Sean Fioritto 49:02Yeah, you don't have to do any of the things that I said, like. Like, well I think, I think you're already like doing all the right things. I was pushing really hard to make it my business. And so that, and frankly, once it got to the point where it was my business, that was a distraction for me. It made it hard, harder for me to stay relaxed and focused on doing the things that were the best for my customers, like, once money became this, like concern. So to me, you have this advantage of like, you don't have to, you don't have to worry about that. Like, each one of the things that I did, like it feels like you should bone up a little bit on how to do a launch, though that's not too difficult. You don't have to do like, the greatest job ever, and you maybe even already know how to do that to some extent. But other than that, I don't know, like 200 people on the mailing list, probably enough already. And you'll get more as people are more and more interested. And, you know, do you have an email subscribe on any of your content at all that you've written? Michele Hansen 50:16So it's all in review, so I think it all has a subscribe link at the bottom. Sean Fioritto 50:22Perfect. Michele Hansen 50:23I think I have one on Twitter, like, on my pinned tweet is a subscription to the newsletter. Sean Fioritto 50:30Yeah, yeah. Cuz like, by the time I was doing it full time, I mean, the number of, I was doing so many other things that we didn't even talk about, for marketing, which it's like, we don't, we don't even need to go there. Because you don't, you don't need to do any of that stuff. I think you're doing everything right. And I would think carefully about, like, what your goals are with the book, and, for both you, you and for your customers, and then kind of size it right size it accordingly. And don't feel guilty about not doing all the right marketing things, because the right marketing things, just as long as you're focused on your audience and the people that are going to be reading your book, you're doing the right thing. Michele Hansen 51:13Hmm. Well, thank you for that, like, boost of encouragement. Sean Fioritto 51:19You're welcome. Michele Hansen 51:21I guess to wrap up, we should mention, by the way, that you have your own show. And you're actually getting something off the ground right now. Do you want to talk about that for a second? Sean Fioritto 51:34Yeah. So my friend Aaron Francis and I, we have a company called Hammerstone, that's at Hammerstone.dev. Our podcast is, is linked to there on the home page. We have, like you guys, it's kind of like a ride along podcast, and we just do our weekly check in we record it as a, as a podcast. And what we're working on is a drop in component for Laravel. The component allows you, allows your users to build, dynamically build queries, which they can, you could then use to display reports, etc. to them. Yeah, so that's, that's our new thing that we're working on. That's a new thing for me. I should probably have a whole other podcast and invite you on, ask you about how I should be marketing my software business. Michele Hansen 52:30So by the way, so, the podcast is really good. We finished it on a road trip a couple of months ago, and you should totally start at the beginning because, like so, so yes, like, the software part is interesting. But there's this whole other element that Aaron's wife is pregnant with multiples. And the podcast started in like, December, right? Sean Fioritto 52:52Yeah. Michele Hansen 52:53So, and she was due in April. And so there's this like, whole, like, tension of it of like, oh, my god, like, are they gonna get to launch stuff before, like, Aaron goes from being not a parent to the parent of multiple children overnight? Like, is it like, is it gonna happen? And I found myself as I was listening, I was like, oh, my god, like, like, it really added this element of suspense that I have not felt while listening to another podcast, and it made it very enjoyable. Sean Fioritto 53:24You know what's frustrating. I just realized your audience actually overlaps with the audience of my product. And I just did a horrible job of pitching it. I was like, I could just sort of half-ass explain it here. But, Michele Hansen 53:34All you Laravel people, like, just check it out. Sean Fioritto 53:37Yeah, that's good. Michele Hansen 53:40Just take my word for it. This has been really fun, Sean. Thank you so much for coming on. Sean Fioritto 53:50You're welcome. Michele Hansen 53:51I really appreciate all of your advice. And I, I don't know what you call the, the anti-advice. You know, don't ignore taxes. And encouragement and perspective, that really means a lot to me. Sean Fioritto 54:08You're welcome. Thanks for having me on. Michele Hansen 54:11This is awesome. So if you guys liked this episode, please leave us a review on iTunes. Or let us know that you listened on Twitter, and we'll talk to you next week.
The Real Life Episode
Michele Hansen 00:00Welcome back to Software Social. This episode is sponsored by the website monitoring tool, Oh Dear. We recently refreshed the Geocodio website, and it was really helpful how Oh Dear alerted us to broken links and made it clear what we needed to fix. Broken links are bad for SEO, and so I really appreciate those alerts from Oh Dear. You can sign up for a 10 day free trial with no credit card required at OhDear.app. Colleen Schnettler 00:28Good morning, Michele. Michele Hansen 00:30Hey, how are you? Colleen Schnettler 00:32Good. How are things in Denmark today? Michele Hansen 00:36Well, this week was kind of a challenge, um, because on, I had a super productive writing day on Monday. So I read Kathy Sierra's Badass over the weekend. Colleen Schnettler 00:52Oh yeah, I've heard of that book. Michele Hansen 00:53I don't know, have you read that? Colleen Schnettler 00:54I have not. Michele Hansen 00:54Okay, you've read that. Oh, you have not read that. Colleen Schnettler 00:56I've not read that. Michele Hansen 00:57It's really good. So in so many ways, it's, I think of it as, like, jobs to be done for people who don't know what Jobs To Be Done is and have never heard of that. Like, it's basically like figuring out like, you're not just building a thing for the sake of it. You're building it because somebody wants to do something, and they don't buy it for the sake of it. Like, they want to do something better. And so it's, it's kind of aligned with StoryBrand in that regard. It's like, you know, your user is the hero, not the product. But it's a little bit more, um, it's, I think it's just a different perspective than StoreBrand. It's very, very practical. And it, the whole thing is kind of written like a PowerPoint. There's like, lots of like pictures and comics. Actually my seven year old, like, while I was reading it, she came over and she was like, oh, what are you reading? Like, pictures. So, you know, she wants to learn how to make a product. I'll leave that one laying around. Um, it's really good. Um, but, so I was reading it because some people had mentioned it in the interviews I did as a book that they liked. Colleen Schnettler 02:05Okay, great. Michele Hansen 02:06And yeah, and, and so I read it just sort of as like, reference material. Um, but actually, it ended up like, helping me kind of have a breakthrough with the book on Monday. Um, and so I spent like, the whole day. Uh, yeah, no, all day Tuesday, actually. I spent the whole day Tuesday writing. I didn't get any writing time on Monday, really. And then Tuesday, at like, four o'clock, I was, um, like, signing on to a Zoom, and then my computer crashed. Colleen Schnettler 02:35Oh, no. Michele Hansen 02:36Like, died, and crashed and like, gone to join the choir invisible like, is now an ex-laptop, like, just totally got like, it was just restarting itself for like, three days. And, Colleen Schnettler 02:51Oh. Michele Hansen 02:51So, it is now embarking on a lovely journey to the Czech Republic to be repaired, um, and I did not get a lot done the rest of the week, because it was like, trying to figure stuff out with using the, like, the iPad. Like, it was just, yeah. So, you know, but that's real life, right? Colleen Schnettler 03:15Yes, that is real life. So true. Michele Hansen 03:19Oh, so how's it, how's it going for you? Colleen Schnettler 03:23So I got a lot of time, I blocked out a lot of time this week to work on Simple File Upload, and it gave me great joy. Like, I have to say, you know, it's funny because people are always talking about self-care, and in the mom space, like you always see things like go get a pedicure, and I'm like, my self care is like, six hours alone with my laptop with no one to bother me. Is that weird? Michele Hansen 03:44Heck yes. Colleen Schnettler 03:45Like, I love that. So like, on Monday, such a weirdo. Michele Hansen 03:50It's so true. Like, it's so true. Like, so much of self-care is like, people just wanting to sell you stuff, and like, reality is it's sometimes it's just leave me alone. Colleen Schnettler 04:01Right? Just leave me alone. So it was, I really had a great week. I got to spend a good chunk of time implementing this feature request, which was something that I thought would be easy, and ended up taking way longer than I thought. So basically, my uploader uses the default styling that comes with drop zone, DropzoneJS, and so I got a request to allow it to be smaller, like 50 pixels by 50 pixels, which I thought would be no big deal. But it turns out once I started digging into the source, the styles are all pinned to 120 pixels by 120 pixels. So it was like, a huge thing to change this because I basically had to rip out all of the static, you know, statically defined CSS and put in, um, flexible CSS, and it was fun. I mean, it was, it was so cool because it was something I enjoy doing, um, something I don't do a lot. I think one of the huge benefits to building your own product is you get exposed to things you wouldn't do in your day job. Like, every job I've had, I have a front end guy, and I have a CSS guy, and I don't really do that very much. Um, it's not a core skill set of mind. So it was kind of fun to get to dive into it and like, learn some new stuff and, and uh, and to ship it. So that made me happy. That brought me great joy. Michele Hansen 05:27It sounds like it did, despite the, the frustration. I'm curious, why did the person need it to be 50 by 50? Colleen Schnettler 05:35Avatars. So, so many people are using it as avatars, and using it for avatars, and it's pinned to 140 by one, or 120 by 120, which is big. I mean, you look at it, and you're like uh, it's kind of big for a, um, um, a form factor. So, yeah, that's what that was for Michele Hansen 05:56So are we talking about when someone uploads a file, it's turned into that size, or the actual size of the upload, or when they put it on their site? Colleen Schnettler 06:05The actual size of the uploader to fit into, so he actually sent me his form, like, sent me a video of his form, which is really cool. So I could see exactly what he was doing. But his product, um, uses like, avatars, and so he has a small little square where he wants, he wants to enable his users to drop in an avatar, and his form was designed in such a way that that had to be a small square, and the styles I had at the time, like, couldn't support that. Michele Hansen 06:32Oh, so he wanted the uploader to be the actual size of the sort of finished image that would go up. Colleen Schnettler 06:40Yeah, a little bit more like that. Okay. Yeah, so it would, it would be more seamless. Michele Hansen 06:45Right, so it implies to his user that the image going there should be 50 by 50, because if he had a huge box, they might think that they could upload a huge image. Colleen Schnettler 06:54Yeah. So that was fun. Michele Hansen 06:56Gotcha. Colleen Schnettler 06:56I enjoyed that. I also, like, came to this epiphany, as I've been talking to people, and when I say it, everyone is gonna be like, that's so obvious. But it just occurred to me yesterday, actually, and I've been a little bit frustrated when I've been talking to people because the things people are looking for, and one are all over the map. I mean, it's, it's completely inconsistent.I haven't been able to find a lot of consistency. But what I realized is, front end developers want all of the direct uploading, and the AWS integration, and all of the magic on the back end. Backend developers do AWS all the time, so they don't really care, but they hate doing design. I don't wanna say hate, that's a strong word, but they don't really like design. So they want the pixel-perfect UI on the front end, which makes sense now why front end developers are asking me like, oh, are you gonna make a headless component? And, you know, am I gonna get my images sized perfectly? And then the backend developers are asking me for theming and things like that. So it's two different, like, it makes sense, but like, for some reason this just clicked. So I kind of need to decide, I think, like, which direction I want to go, because it seems like, like I said, the feature set is not the same, and I'm, there's only one of me, so I can't, I, yeah, of course, I'd like to build out all of these things, but I can't do that right now. Um, so I kind of need to decide which direction I want to go as I continue to build out this feature set. Michele Hansen 08:33Yeah, so I'm, I'm curious. It, it sounds like you've heard a lot of different things, uh, from people, which by the way, is like, is totally normal, especially at this point where your reach is, is pretty broad, and you don't you don't have a defined focus. It's, it's normal that you would hear a lot of different things. It doesn't mean you're doing something wrong, like, that's, that's totally expected. But it sounds like if you know you have these two broad categories with different sets of needs, have you like, like, I'm wondering how you might categorize the feedback and suggestions and, and processes you've heard about so far, into those different user types. And then, and then it would be interesting to see if, if one of those groups has a higher propensity to pay versus another or like, I mean, and it might be too broad of a group, like, like, front, like, frontend developers and backend, like, those are those are pretty broad groups, right? Um, but it might, like, like, it might be interesting, or just to think about like, whose needs do you currently serve better? Colleen Schnettler 09:44Yeah. Yeah, that's definitely, yeah, I definitely have to dive more into this, um, and think about it. I like the idea of kind of trying to, uh, kind of box the feature set based on the skill set of the user because I really liked the idea of, of who is more likely to pay for it. I mean, that seems relevant for sure, right? That's why I'm here. Michele Hansen 10:07It's always a good thing to know, right? Colleen Schnettler 10:08It's a good thing to know. Michele Hansen 10:14Did you ever get in touch with that, uh, the customer we, I think we have called the whale? The, uh, the one that was like, what was it, like, two or three hundred. Colleen Schnettler 10:22This guy is paying me 250 bucks a month, or person, I don't know, I don't want to, but um, this person is paying me 250 bucks a month, and this person has still not cancelled and it's still not using it. I don't, like, I don't know what to expect here. Michele Hansen 10:36Alright. Colleen Schnettler 10:38I keep expecting a nasty email like, I didn't know I was paying that money. But it's been like, almost six weeks now, I think. So this person has paid that bill at least once. So yeah, no idea. I got nothing. But what I have noticed, so something else we talked about last week was changing my onboarding flow. So I did change the onboarding flow. And, um, Michele Hansen 11:00Oh, you had all those people who were like, it like, wasn't clear to them that they would have to pay for the free trial, so they were, Right. Getting through to the email setup, but then bouncing, and it's like, why hold on to their emails if it's not worth anything? Colleen Schnettler 11:14Yes, yes. So, I changed that. So, now the signup link dumps you to the pricing page, and then on the pricing page, like, the wording is still kind of rough, but it basically says a credit card is required to sign up for the trial. Um, so that should help me I think get less like, kind of emails I don't need in terms of onboarding. Michele Hansen 11:38Oh, you did change that this week. Colleen Schnettler 11:40Again, I did that yesterday, so it's too soon to say if, um, what difference that'll make. Like, it might take my signups, but at this point, I mean, it's, it's funny, because like, there's so many things I want to do, and there's just one of me, one of me who has a job. So, um, I, I think I have to let this one go. I have to let the extra email addresses, like, I looked at, this morning before our podcast, and saw all the email addresses of people who bounce at sign up, and I'm like, man, like, someday I might be able to, I realize it's like 15, I mean, just from couple days, it's like 15 people. It's like, I have those email addresses, but I'm just gonna let them go because where I am right now in trying to build this, like, I just don't have the bandwidth to try and hunt down people who might never want to pay me at this point. I need to serve, I think I need to serve the people that are paying me and, like, really focus in, you know, on those, on those folks. Michele Hansen 12:37Hmm. I think we, you know, we've talked about it a couple of times how it is just you, and you are one person with a job, and a family, and everything else going on, and you have so many ideas, and I'm curious how you are keeping track of all of those different things that you want to work on. Because it, because it sounds like that, like, mental load of carrying around all of your own ideas and the feedback you're, like, that, like, that, that is a mental load. Colleen Schnettler 13:14Yeah, so right now I keep track of all of that in Notion. But you know, I've gone back and forth in Notion. I know, some people love it, and some people hate it, and like, I don't know, like, a couple years ago, maybe a year ago, I really spent a couple days getting a setup I liked and I used it really, really diligently, and then when things get really busy, that's when you should rely on your tasks, you know, on that the most. But yet, I tend to just let it go because you have so many competing priorities. So I do have a list, but do I actually look at that list? No. I mean, I just, I just am like, I should do this thing next. And then I do the thing. But I do have a list so I don't lose like, these ideas. Michele Hansen 13:59I think I, like, it might be helpful to try to like prioritize those. And also I remember when we were talking about this last time, you had to do that was like, you know, improve the landing page. And it was something that was actually like, 10 steps deep and it like, wasn't one task, and I want I wonder if that would help. Colleen Schnettler 14:21Yeah, being more specific. Um, I do. I do think that would help. I also think,, like, this thing with the, the small styles I mentioned, that ended up taking way longer than I anticipated. So, that's why, like, task management can be challenging, I think because you just, as you know, in software, you just want to have that, you just want to block out like, three days to do whatever you want to do, and it's just sometimes hard to know how long these tasks are going to take. But generally speaking, yeah, breaking them down is, is good. But like, so here's a problem I'm having. Okay, and here's a business idea for anyone listening. You know how Stripe, I know, business idea. Maybe I shouldn't share it, I should just build it. But I don't have time to build anything else. Um, so you know how Stripe provides really cool analytics, like, you log on to Stripe, and I know there's like many, many analytic platforms built on top of Stripe, but even Stripe is nice because you can log on, you can, you know, see what your churn rate is, you can see the lifetime value, you can see all this information about your customers. Heroku has none of that. Like, so I'm not even really tracking people who churn on Heroku. So if you asked me, like, how many people have signed up and then cancelled, I can't even tell you. Like, I mean, if I tried really hard, I could figure it out, but I love how when you sign on to Stripe you, like, get that dashboard right there, like, here's all your information. That would be super cool for Heroku. So, I'm at the point where I'm not even exactly sure because if you churn, I delete your account, so I have to like, go find that information. And of course, of course I say this and every software developer listening is like, yeah, that's so easy to build. Yes, it's so easy to build. So are the other 5000 things I want to do. So to me, like, I know if I was listening to this, I'd be like, well just write that. That's so easy. But um, yeah, I mean, it's such competing priorities. So like, that's something I want to know but not something I have time to build, and what I have, what do I have 20, 20ish, 25ish paying users. With such a low percentage, with such a low number of paying users, it just doesn't seem worth my time right now to really care about that. Michele Hansen 16:38I think you just hit on something really important, which is that sometimes building something is much easier than more marketing it and figuring out who needs it and why and pricing it. And, you know, building is not easy in its own right, but there there is a real, like, you're going through this challenge right now, and I mean, to me, it makes sense where that's where your comfort zone is that now you have something going but there are definitely some frustrations with that. That the prospect of going to build something else is sort of a shiny ball that jumps out at you. Colleen Schnettler 17:25Oh, totally. And I've given myself a little more permission to do that now that I have paying users, so I know that is a thing. You know, even doing these customer interviews, like, I like people. I like to talk. But before every customer interview, like, I get a little nervous, you know, because it's someone you don't know. You're basically like, cold calling someone asking them for their time and then try not to talk over them. Like, I have just found it to be a really interesting exercise to try and, and do all of those marketing activities. But like I said, this week, when I had my couple days of just coding, like, that's definitely sparks joy. That's my sparks joy place. Like, I love talking to people and meeting people, but I do find that that is harder, and requires a totally different skill set and energy level. Michele Hansen 18:13Absolutely. And, and I notice that you said you, you find yourself nervous beforehand. You said you were nervous, and, but there's different reasons for that, like, you're sort of partly afraid that, you know, they're not going to want to talk to you, sort of like a cold calling sense, but also that you're going to talk too much. Colleen Schnettler 18:33Okay, this is my thing. So I think that I'm like, if anyone who has met me in person, like, I think I'm good in-person with a one, one-on-one. Like, I think I'm good with, like, getting to know someone and like, developing a connection with someone. But I do that by echoing what you say and by like, just getting excited about whatever you're saying. And when I'm doing these customer interviews, something you and I've talked about a lot is like, don't get overly excited and be like, oh my gosh, I can't believe that, or oh, you're totally right. But I like to agree. I don't want to say I like to agree with people, but if I agree with you about whatever you're talking with, my natural inclination is to be, is to, uh, fusibly agree with you, right? That forms our bond as friends, as people, and, you know, I agree with you. And um, so what's hard for me is if you're like, oh my gosh, I hate setting up buckets on AWS. That's a good example, because that has happened. I want to be like, I know, it's the worst, like, CORS configuration. Everyone forgets that. But I'm not supposed to do that in a customer interview. So like, me just being like, oh, tell me more about why you hate setting up buckets on AWS or whatever it is, um, is a challenge. Michele Hansen 19:50Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. And, you know, I almost sometimes find myself having double tracks of thinking in my head, like, when someone says something that gets me really excited, like, um, I'll have, I'm like, oh my god, yes. So good. And then you have to be like, can you tell me more about what you find difficult about working with those buckets? Because the thing that you want to find out in the interview is not just that they think it's difficult, but why it's difficult from their perspective, and it's going to be difficult for different reasons from your perspective. And the point is not to build a shared bond over the fact that it's difficult. It's to understand their perspective on it, which may be similar to yours, but is different. But I mean, but it's also, it's normal to get excited, you know, I was, I was listening to an episode of Hidden Brain a couple of weeks ago, where the linguist Deborah Tannen was being interviewed, and she was talking about how people from different regions in the US have different conversation styles. So, people from the Northeast, which includes me, we will talk over other people as a way of showing excitement and engagement with what they're saying. Colleen Schnettler 21:06Yeah. Michele Hansen 21:06And that is a way of being involved in the conversation, versus somebody from the Midwest or from California, like, they might have to wait and pause naturally before the other person stops speaking in order to share their own perspective on it. And apparently, like, you know, I was, I was talking to someone who sort of studies cross-cultural communication, and they were saying that the way you know, so, so a Californian may interpret that how someone from New York speaks is interrupting. But somebody from Japan may interpret that the way that people from California speak is interrupting. Colleen Schnettler 21:43Right. Michele Hansen 21:44So all of these things are relative, but I think that kind of conversation style, like I especially find that, like, that, that took me years to tamp down. And I think for me, like, I didn't start tamping that down when I first started doing interviews. Like, that process happened, you know, once I moved from Boston to DC, and you know, that with people from, from the south and the Midwest more who are, who do not use that sort of excited, um, way of talking over people to show engagement. It's very, very different. Like, having people tell me that I was rude forced me to kind of reevaluate that. But of course, if I, if I talk to somebody from New York or whatever, like we're excited and talking over each other, and it's so fun and chaotic, in a way that I just can't do with someone from, you know, Washington State, for example. Colleen Schnettler 22:38Yeah, yeah, I definitely think that's true. And I definitely think it's a skill and, you know, I'm working on it and, uh, trying to learn it. But it's definitely different, like, whole different skill set and energy level than working on features, or working on code. Michele Hansen 22:55Yeah. And sometimes I find it helpful to remind myself and other people that I'm trying to teach this to is that it's helpful to try these things out in conversations with people. Like, so you might normally start relating to someone, but to try this out just, just to get used to it, but then you don't have to change your conversation style, like, in a social setting. Like, there's nothing, there's nothing that says that one style is intrinsically more valid than another. Like, just because there might be relative differences doesn't mean that one is any better and that there's anything wrong with the way you talk, but it can be helpful to try this out in a social setting at first, just so it feels a little more natural when you're talking to a customer. Colleen Schnettler 23:41Yeah, that is a great idea, and I will continue to practice. It's good to practice on your kids, because they talk a lot anyway. So I feel like, at least mine do. I've been practicing on the kids. Michele Hansen 23:56One of my favorite references from my book, actually, is the book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk, because it's technically a book on parenting, but really, there's so much more to it. And especially for people who find this is really, really counterintuitive and strange to them, I think it's probably because they were spoken to differently as a child, and this kind of way of just, you know, validating what someone is saying and, um, you know, it's, may not come may not come naturally, but, but it can be learned. Colleen Schnettler 24:34Yeah. Michele Hansen 24:34How do you try it out on your kids? I'm curious. Colleen Schnettler 24:37Like, when they tell me something I've tried, literally do it. Like they'll tell me something, I'm like, well, tell me more about like, why this was a problem with Jimmy, or why do you think, you know, like, I'm just trying to be like, cool, calm and collected, which I mean, I mostly am but I try not to get overexcited when they tell me about what their friends did or whatever. Like, oh, okay, tell me more about that. How did you feel about that? You know, stuff like that. Michele Hansen 25:02Yeah. So, before we wrap up for this week, I have to ask, how are the numbers? Colleen Schnettler 25:08So, they're flat. Um, I hit 1k. I didn't actually calculate the exact number, but I think I'm right around 1k. I didn't have any new signups this week, and, or I did, but then this is what brought up the churn discussion. I did have a new sign up, but the person on the $85 a month plan churned, which is unfortunate, um, and there's just, that's why I'm like, there's just so much I want to do. But I think right now, I think for this week, okay, all I can do is plan one thing at a, one week at a time, right. I have a long, I have a list of all the things I want to do. But in terms of staying focused, especially with my time constraints, like, this week, my goal is to get a demo on the homepage because I want to increase signups, like, that's what I want to do right now. So, um, that's my goal for this week. Like, another thing that happened was I went to go put the demo on the homepage, and, Michele Hansen 26:06It was the CodePen thing, right? Colleen Schnettler 26:07Yeah, but I want to pull it off of CodePen. It, yeah, it's on CodePen, which is fine, but I want to pull it off of CodePen and literally put a fully functioning demo, like, drop your file here and I'll alert you the URL or something. But the reason I haven't done that is because I had to write, so I had to write all these monkey patches, because I am still on Rails 6.0, which doesn't support CDN serving a file, so I'm patching through it. So I go to put it on the homepage, and then I was like, well, while I'm, you know, while I'm doing this, I should just upgrade Rails, which is, like, not an insignificant task. So then I spend quite a lot of time going through the upgrade of Rails and, and that's really, I think my struggle is I do need to upgrade Rails because as soon as I upgrade, I can pull out those monkey patches, which gives me warm fuzzies, because I don't like to patch rails if I don't have to, right. And the patches are literally, like, the pull request on Rails 6.1, so I know that they're correct. But still, I'd like to upgrade and pull them out. But, um, you know, that's, that's not insignificant. So then I start, I start upgrading, and then I'm like, oh, well, if I'm going to upgrade, I need more test coverage. So then I start writing more tests. And you see how this just snowballs right? Like, until like, I'm like, oh, wait, I literally wanted to put a thing on the web page, and here I am trying to upgrade the whole application, and like, fill out the rest of the, like, write these other tests, and, oh my gosh. I mean, it's fine. If this was all I did with my life, but I have other things to do. Michele Hansen 26:40This feels like the equivalent of like, going to put away a basket of laundry. And then you're like, well, I'm here, I should just organize the sock drawer. Colleen Schnettler 27:46Yes. Michele Hansen 27:47And then before you know it, you're actually sorting out all of the winter clothes and putting them away and making a donate pile and then bringing out the summer clothes, and then you turn around two hours later, and there is still a basket of laundry sitting on the bed. Colleen Schnettler 27:59That's literally it, Michele, that's literally what happened to me. Like it was, I was like, Colleen, stay. And it's not that I'm not focused, like, these are all good things, and it's exactly right. I'm like, well, I'm in here. So I should fix this thing. I did that with the CSS stuff, too. I was like, well, I'm in here, so I'm just going to rewrite the whole preview template because why not, like. That is my struggle. Michele Hansen 28:20It sounds like those things, though, like, those things for you are, I feel like soul-nourishing is a little bit of a stretch, but like those are, you know, they spark joy for you. Colleen Schnettler 28:33They totally do. I mean, and that's why, Michele Hansen 28:35It's very focused, like what like, like, focused kind of attention and like, total, like, flow, right? That, like, that's the word I was looking for. It sparks flow. Colleen Schnettler 28:47It totally does. And like, I am amazing at focusing. Like, I can sit down for six hours, and like, not even get up, which is not good for my body, but I mean, it, I love, now I sound like a weirdo, but like, I love that. Like I've love, like, I wasn't kidding, like, give me six hours in my laptop and no Slack and no, like, none of that. Um, because it does spark joy. I can like, I really getting these flow states. And I love like, I love doing it. So I think that is relevant because I think I have been really focused on customer interviews, which is great for my business, but kind of draining for my person. So I think spending some time, like, in that flow state is really good for me because it does spark joy. Michele Hansen 29:32You have to recharge your batteries. Colleen Schnettler 29:34Yeah, that's exactly, that's a really good way to put it. That's exactly right. Michele Hansen 29:38You gotta have like, balance, right, like, you know, I think that's one of the things about being an entrepreneur and especially as sort of a you know, small scale entrepreneur like we are, like, there's so many different things we could be doing at any time. And some of those things will spark joy, and some of those will spark the opposite of joy, and all of them are necessary. And we have to find a balance between them. And, like, I've been talking about this lately as, like the concept of reward work, which is like wok that we let ourselves do when we've gotten through the stuff that we didn't really want to do as much or it was more draining, and it sounds like this kind of, um, I think I dubbed it putzing through the code garden for you is like, and sort of just like, weeding and, you know, cleaning things up and repainting your garden shed, like, those are the things that are like the reward work for you. Colleen Schnettler 30:40Yep, totally. Michele Hansen 30:44Well, I think that's probably a good place to end today. I feel like this turned into our like, Real Life Episode, like, your numbers are flat. You had somebody churn. My laptop died, and I didn't get anything done, like. Colleen Schnettler 31:00Oh, one of those weeks. Michele Hansen 31:02Yeah, that's how it goes. Alright, well, we'll talk to you next week. Thank you so much for listening, and, um, we love when you tweet out that you're listening to it, or if anything jumped out to you, so we'll chat with you on Twitter.
Valuable, Usable, Viable, Feasible
Michele Hansen 00:00Welcome back to Software Social. This episode is sponsored by Oh Dear, the website monitoring app. As an Oh Dear customer myself, I particularly like how easy it is to make SLA reports with Oh Dear. They're professional and sleek, and they make it easier for us to service enterprise customers. And I actually requested this feature myself last year, and I'm so delighted with how open to suggestions they are. You can sign up for a free 10 day trial with no credit card required at OhDear.app. Colleen Schnettler 00:32So Michele, how has your week been? Michele Hansen 00:34It's good. It's good. You know, I was, I was doing some writing this morning, which is funny, I've realized it's, like, my reward work. Like, you know, when I get through all the other stuff, like it's like, oh, like, now I have some writing time. And, Colleen Schnettler 00:47That's amazing because I remember being in high school and, like, English, like whenever I had to write a paper, it was literally my least favorite thing to do. So I find that fascinating that, for you, writing is your reward work. Michele Hansen 00:59I, five paragraph essays are, I don't think anyone looks forward to writing those. Like, this is very different than, than that. Um, but so I was, I was writing and I started thinking about this framework that I know we've talked about, and it occurred to me that I have a very tangible example of that. Colleen Schnettler 01:20Which framework? StoryBrand, or something else? Michele Hansen 01:22No, so it's a Marty Cagan framework. Colleen Schnettler 01:25Okay. Michele Hansen 01:26So, but I'm gonna, I'm gonna back up first. So, there's this misconception, I think that people sometimes have or fear about customer research that if they start listening to their customers, then they have to do everything the customers ask them for. And they're basically, like, giving up control over the vision of the product to the customer. Colleen Schnettler 01:47Okay. Michele Hansen 01:48And that's not true, right? Like, you'll always have to weigh it against, um, what makes sense for you to do. And so, there's this one framework that I particularly like that was developed by Marty Cagan, who is kind of, like, the the product guru, like, he's the head of this consultancy called the Silicon Valley Product Group. Like, he is like the product guy, and in order for a product to be successful, he says how it needs to be valuable, viable, usable, and feasible. Colleen Schnettler 02:26Wow, valuable, viable, usable, feasible. Michele Hansen 02:30So let's, let's break it down a little bit. So first, it has to be valuable for the customer. Like, it has to be something that is, you know, accomplishes something for them and helps them do something, right. Because if it's something that doesn't help them do something that they would want to do, then they wouldn't use it. Like, the example I kind of think of for this is what was that startup that would, like, squeeze a bag of pureed fruit for you? Like Juicero, or, like, it was some, like, they raised like billions of dollars or whatever, for, like, a smoothie machine, and everyone is like, why? Like, not really very valuable to people. Colleen Schnettler 03:04Right. Okay. Michele Hansen 03:05I'm sure they had wonderful ideas, and they were great people. It has to be viable, which means it has to be, like, commercially viable, like people have to be willing to pay for it. So like, I could make something that's super awesome and useful, but if no one is willing to pay for it, then it's not a viable product, right? Like, if I'm solving a problem that no one experiences painfully enough to, to pay someone to solve it, then it's not going to work out. Colleen Schnettler 03:30Okay. Michele Hansen 03:30It has to be usable, which may be the easiest of all these words, to understand that, like, they have to be able to figure out how to use it. So, Colleen Schnettler 03:39Okay. Michele Hansen 03:39You may have heard this in the context of usability testing, which is basically, like, if I make a website that you can do something on, but you can't actually figure out how to do that, and it's confusing, then it doesn't matter if what the product does is something that's valuable to you. If you can't figure out how to do it, you're going to move on to something else. Colleen Schnettler 03:57Right. Michele Hansen 03:57And then the last one is it has to be feasible, like, it has to be possible for you to produce this product. So, So this would be the equivalent of being, me being like, Colleen, I really need a spaceship. And you being like, that's awesome. I can see that's valuable for you. Maybe you have the ability to pay for that. I don't, but you know, let's go with it. I can build it in a way that, that you can use it. You know, you're an engineer, right? Any kind of engineer can build any kind of thing, right? Colleen Schnettler 04:05Oh, okay. Sure. Michele Hansen 04:25Yeah. Like, you could build a bridge. No, I'm, I'm, for all the certified engineers out there, I'm aware that they're not all transferable. But it wouldn't be feasible for you to build that. Colleen Schnettler 04:37Right. Michele Hansen 04:38So, so this framework of valuable, viable, usable and feasible is something that I always keep in mind when we're getting feedback from people because you don't necessarily act on every single problem and every piece of advice that you hear, and, like, and that's okay. Colleen Schnettler 04:55Yeah, okay. Michele Hansen 04:56And so, a specific example of this that relates to the book and to something we have been talking about quite a bit is consulting and whether I should do consulting related to the book. Colleen Schnettler 05:10Right. Michele Hansen 05:10It's something we've talked about, and I've gotten quite a few requests from people about. And, you know, as I thought about it, okay, so clearly, this would be valuable for people. Like they, they feel like they need help getting started with understanding their customers. They seem to be willing to pay for it. I don't know what that would be, like, I, granted I haven't told anyone, like, cool, here's, you know, an invoice for, I don't know, $500 for a 30 minute conversation, or whatever it is people charge. But like, people seem to be willing to pay for this, and they've told me that they pay other people for this. So there's clearly an ability and desire to pay there. And then usable, like, I feel like I would be able to deliver it in a way that would make it useful for them. But it's not feasible. Colleen Schnettler 05:56Why not? Michele Hansen 05:56Time zones. Colleen Schnettler 05:59Oh. Michele Hansen 06:00And also the fact that I already have a business that I need to keep going. So I, like, I already have a pressure on my time in that regard. But I basically only have one hour of decent overlap with the US, which is from, Colleen Schnettler 06:15One hour? Michele Hansen 06:16From nine to 10am Eastern. Colleen Schnettler 06:19Wow, because what time is 9 to 10am Eastern in Denmark. Michele Hansen 06:22So that's 3pm. So our daughter gets out of school at 3. So, Colleen Schnettler 06:26Yeah. Michele Hansen 06:26Making anything else work requires a huge amount of schedule gymnastics for me. And I already have customers that I need to have, you know, calls with anyway. Like, and, and so if I were to do consulting, then I would have to say that I could, like, do it for everybody except North America, which totally doesn't make sense because, you know, if you assume that the audience for this podcast is a pretty good overlap with the people who might want me to consult for them, that'd be like, 80% of the audience would not be eligible, and people might find that a bit off-putting, or frustrating. But like, I mean, I just can't do it. Like I can, you know, 8am Eastern is a great time for me, because that's 2pm here, but like, that's, that's a bit early for, for business conversations. And most of the time, like, if I have to have a call with California, like, it ends up being at 9 o'clock my time. And, Colleen Schnettler 07:21Yeah, that's rough. Michele Hansen 07:22Even 9am is a bit early. Like, I've worked in companies that, like, had like, a basically an official, like, no meetings before 10, but really not before 11 rule. Like, if you got a 9am meeting, I was like God, like why are you punishing them? So it's just, it's not feasible for me. So, Colleen Schnettler 07:42Okay. Michele Hansen 07:42Maybe it will be in, you know, 15 years when I don't have a child at home, and I can, you know, just blow through dinner time, like, and work and like, honestly, it's probably not gonna be good for my work-life balance, like, but it's, it's simply not feasible. Colleen Schnettler 07:59Is this something you want to do? Or is this just a, like, convenient reason not to do it because you already don't want to do it? Michele Hansen 08:07I was trying to dive into like, why the thought of it was even, like, immediate, no in my head. Colleen Schnettler 08:14Right. Okay. Michele Hansen 08:15And I think that was kind of, and like, the reason was like, I don't have time for that. And then it's like, Colleen Schnettler 08:20Yeah. Michele Hansen 08:21But I do, like, I, I have time to work already, so why wouldn't that fit into my existing work time? And it's because it wouldn't happen during the work time. Now, I could be like, oh, I'll just consult for people in the UK, but like, I, like, most of my network is in the US anyway. So, and I think it's just easier just to say no to everything. But again, as we kind of talked about, like, I could always do this 5 or 10 years from now. And people have asked me about courses too, which is easier to make work across time zones, but I'm not really a natural teacher. So I admit that that, like, that kind of scares me because I feel like I would not only have to learn, like, how to create a course. But I would have to learn like, how to teach, which is, you know, a skill set that people to go to school for for four to six years to learn. Like it's not a, it's not an insignificant thing to learn how to do. Colleen Schnettler 09:21Yeah, well, you already have a lot of demands on your time. So, I don't know that adding consulting would be good for you even if you were in the US. Michele Hansen 09:29Yeah, that's true. I mean, you actually used to have a course, right? Or you were starting one, or? Colleen Schnettler 09:34Haha, yeah. So one of my many, many business ideas. I was going to do a course, and holy cow, it was so much more work than I anticipated. So I decided not to do it, and that was a good decision. Michele Hansen 09:52I think when we first met you were, like, getting that course going. Colleen Schnettler 09:58Yeah, I think I did a couple videos. I mean, my, my idea had been to do Ruby on Rails course for beginners and try to, like, incorporate some more advanced topics, so like an advanced beginner course. But, and I know some people have a lot of success with courses, but you know, I started doing it, and it was just like, because I was trying to do a video course. It was a tremendous amount of work, and I found that I, this, this was years ago, too, right? This was a couple years ago, and I didn't have any audience or network so to speak of, and I think to be successful with a course, a couple of things have to happen. You either have to have the right course at the right time, so you're releasing a course on something that is new and hot, and everyone wants to learn about, or I think you have to have a really well-established network and audience, and I had neither of those things at that time. And, and also, you know, people talk about being on, like, the content treadmill, so the thing about if your business, if your primary business is a subscription video service, or, you know, subscription courses, like, you have to constantly be producing content, and that wasn't really something that I wanted to do either. So yeah, the course was just, the video course was just so much work, like, the editing and the trying not to talk over myself, and the, oh, my goodness. So it wasn't a good fit for me. Not saying it wouldn't be a good fit for you in the future. I mean, there's tons of opportunity there. Michele Hansen 11:33I'm curious, how long did you work on that course from like, when you had the idea to when you ended up giving up on it? Colleen Schnettler 11:41I don't remember. So, I started with a couple intro videos, and I mean, we're talking like 10, 15 minute videos, and they would take me hours. That was the first problem. And then I actually was going to do it with a friend who has a really successful Ruby on Rails template. So he and I recorded, I mean, Michele, we must've recorded 10 hours of video. Michele Hansen 12:03Wow. Colleen Schnettler 12:03Yeah. I mean, we have, I still have it. So yeah, for the Rails listeners, it's the guy who developed Bullet Train. And Bullet Train is like a really opinionated, Ruby on Rails, SaaS kind of template builder to start with. And he's been doing this a lot longer than I have, and so I really was fascinated in terms of like, there's some more advanced concepts that you never really get in the material that's out there. And a big one he feels really strongly about is domain modeling, and like, how to do your domain modeling. And this is a thing, I found that as a developer, like, there's tons of entry level courses, and as soon as you get past entry level, it gets harder. Like, when you get to the point where you can't Google the answer for what you're trying to figure out, there isn't a lot. It's more about, like, learning and problem solving, and there aren't a lot of courses or examples or things that can, like, draw you in to these more advanced concepts. So, Andrew and I had talked about doing a course, like, kind of teaching people about domain modeling, which was really cool, because I really love the way he's done it in Bullet Train. And I've worked on a lot of different apps, and typically, it's kind of a mess, right? Like, because you don't, you don't really think big term. I mean, things grow and things, and things evolve, and that's the nature of software, whereas Andrew's, the way he tries to handle it is it's top down, like you know, you don't think you're going to need teams and users, and, you know, join tables, but you should start there. Michele Hansen 13:36We thought that. Retrofitting that later is painful to the point where we haven't, like, fully, like, we, like, have done it, and we need to do more of it. And it's, oh god, just retrofitting, like, user access controls like that is, that's like one of those things, if I can fly back to me eight years ago when we were building this, it's like, just build that in from the beginning. People are gonna want a billing user. They're gonna, you know. Colleen Schnettler 14:06Right, that's literally exactly what, what it was about. It was about that, because when you start you don't care, right? Or you don't think about it, because you're like, I, I don't need to get that complicated. But if you start from the beginning with that framework, when you're where you guys are, it's so much easier to retrofit in all that stuff because it's already there. Anyway, now that I'm talking about it, I'm getting excited about it again. Michele Hansen 14:27I can tell. Like, you really do see a void for this. But I think, like, I think it's important to bring up though, because you, like, you tried a bunch of stuff before you found something that's kind of working, right. Like I mean, we like we launched stuff that didn't work. Like, I think people kind of you know, you listen to like podcasts like this or whatnot, and you're like, wow, like, this person has everything figured out and they're just amazing, and there's something about them that like makes them what they make successful or whatever, and I'm like, no dude, like we've had stuff that failed. Like, that's normal. Like, Colleen Schnettler 15:04Yeah. Michele Hansen 15:04I don't think there's anybody out there who has launched something successfully and not had 10 other things behind it that were either total duds or like just completely, you know, never got off the ground or were soundly rejected, or panned on Reddit, which one of ours was. But anyway, speaking of remotely successful products, Colleen, is it time for our weekly numbers update on Simple File Upload? Colleen Schnettler 15:35Your weekly update for Simple File Upload. Yes, so this week, I crossed the 1000 MRR mark. Michele Hansen 15:42We have totally buried the lead. Colleen Schnettler 15:47I know right. Michele Hansen 15:47Oh my god! Colleen Schnettler 15:49I'm super, I mean, it was really exciting. Michele Hansen 15:53Oh, my gosh, yes. Colleen Schnettler 15:55Yeah. So that really makes it feel like a real business, if you will. I mean, $1,000 that's like real money. Michele Hansen 16:02That is real money. Colleen Schnettler 16:04Yeah, like, even after I pay all my you know, I do have the, the hosting fees, and the, Heroku takes a cut. But yeah, it's really exciting. Michele Hansen 16:13Wait. So I think last time we, like, really dove into the numbers on it. Your costs of what, you know, what we would sort of call in business jargon the cost of goods sold, which is like, you know, servers and everything that you have to pay for in order to make the app run, that was like $200 a month, and you thought it would be pretty, like consistent. Colleen Schnettler 16:41Yeah. Michele Hansen 16:42Are you, is that still true? Colleen Schnettler 16:44Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's still true. Now I do, so it's, that's, that's probably an estimate of all the, the fees and like you said, server hosting storage. And then Heroku takes 30%, because I'm in their marketplace, much like the App Store. I know, it really hurts, like, you're just like, oh, ouch. But, I know, but you know what, I mean, I still will bang the drum, or whatever that phrase is on this, for ,launching this in a marketplace was just such a good idea because if I look at the users I have coming from the open internet, versus the users I have coming from Heroku, like, far and above, the majority of my paid users are coming from Heroku. Michele Hansen 17:27So, so if your cost of goods sold is $200 a month, and for purposes of this, we're pulling out that processing or like, you know, sort of marketplace fee, which is 30%, so then basically your margin is like, $500 a month. Does that sound right? Colleen Schnettler 17:47Yes. Michele Hansen 17:48Wow. Colleen Schnettler 17:49Yeah. Michele Hansen 17:50That's pretty good. Colleen Schnettler 17:52I know, I was pretty excited. Um, yeah. So it's, it's good. Michele Hansen 17:58That's really interesting for when, you know, if you're able to get to a point, eventually, where you're selling outside of Heroku, like, that, you know, if we were to assume an 80% margin like that, that's pretty good. That's where a lot of software businesses are. So it's, I mean, it sounds like your, your fundamentals are pointing in the right direction. Colleen Schnettler 18:22Yeah, I think, I mean, we've talked a lot about, I think last week I was a little frustrated because I still can't really identify my ideal customer, or people who are even using it. But I think one of the huge benefits of being in this marketplace is people are signing up. So the more people I get signing up, the more chances I have that someone will actually, that I'll be able to talk to people and kind of figure out my value proposition. I'm finding a lot of people, a lot more people are finding me on the internet. So I'm getting a lot more signups that bounce when they see you have to have a credit card upfront. But I mean, on the, on the plus side, that means there's clearly a demand for this. This is clearly a thing people want because a lot of people are signing up. Now, will a lot of people pay for it is always the, the, you know, the thing you're trying to figure out, but I'm seeing quite a lot of people putting in their email address, putting in their email addresses on my non-Heroku site. Michele Hansen 19:23How, like, upfront does your non-Heroku site make it that people have to put in a credit card for the free trial? Colleen Schnettler 19:30So the way it works right now is you sign up and then, then you go to the pricing page. And then you click the button to say sign up for this plan, and then you have to put a credit card in. Michele Hansen 19:42But like, on the landing page itself, does it make it clear that a credit card is required for the trial? Colleen Schnettler 19:48No. Michele Hansen 19:50You should probably do that. Colleen Schnettler 19:52Yeah, I thought about that. But I was looking at other people's landing pages and no one really, like, that doesn't seem to be a thing people do. Cuz it feels, like, where would you put it? In like, small print under free, free trial? Free 7 day trial, credit card required for sign up? Michele Hansen 20:07Yeah, I, you know, something that I noticed with that is that when somebody has a free trial and no credit card is required, they always say that. Colleen Schnettler 20:17Right, no credit card required, right. But when they do require a credit card, they don't say anything. Michele Hansen 20:23Yeah. And that, that tells me something. Now, Colleen Schnettler 20:27Yeah, no one wants to pay, Michele Hansen 20:28A lot of big companies like, they'll you know, if you, if you are a marketing person who is incentivized for email signups, then yeah, you're gonna want to hide the fact that a credit card is required because that's how you hit your metrics. But also, the incentive should be redesigned in that case. But I think it's worth at least having that somewhere on the landing page, because as you said, then people are bouncing, and so there's no point in you having this pile of email addresses from people who aren't going to pay for it unless you want it to try to monetize them some other way. But that doesn't really seem to be like something you want to do, and also with, like GDPR, and CCPA and all of those privacy acronyms, like, it could be, you know, a liability for you. Colleen Schnettler 21:21Yeah, I was thinking about it, because I've seen so many signups recently. So I think that's a, but I, the reason I didn't put it was because I've never seen it. And I was like, is that a huge turnoff to be like, credit card required for signup. But I agree, I'm not doing anything with those email addresses. I mean, in the future, maybe I can remove it and try a different kind of, you know, when I have more time or a little bit bigger, and maybe try to learn more about those people. But at this point, it doesn't do any good, like, I'm not keeping their email addresses or anything. So I'm just seeing that there's a lot of traffic. Michele Hansen 21:54I wonder how, so I signed up for Savvy Cow recently, speaking of all of my timezone issues, like, I had to make this little redirect basically, so that when people request to have a meeting with me, if the browser detects their timezone, and then it sends them to the calendar based on their timezone, because like, I'll only do those 9pm calls for you know, people on the west coast, for example. But, so I signed up for for Savvy Cow, and they have a 7 day free trial with a credit card required, and now I'm looking at their website to see how clear that was, because I remember that, like, I knew that it would be required, and like, that, they would just automatically charge me after that point. And I'm actually looking at their landing page. Oh, okay, actually, it just, it just, just say get started for free. Colleen Schnettler 22:48See, no, no one says that. Michele Hansen 22:50But maybe they, like, maybe isn't an automatic, maybe it was an email they sent me instead that, um, oh, okay. Okay, so here's how it works. So it says what you can, zero cost to create an account, but then once you're ready to start sharing your calendar links, then the one week free trial starts, and then that has automatic billing. Colleen Schnettler 23:12Where did you get that, in an email? Michele Hansen 23:14It's on their pricing page. Colleen Schnettler 23:16Okay, I'll look at that. That's probably a good idea. I like that, like, yeah, it's, it's free to create an account. But if you actually want to upload files, Michele Hansen 23:23Sure, you can give us your email address, but if you want to do anything, but I think that, you know that, that makes sense for like a product. Like this, where like, there, there is some amount of stuff that might need to happen before you actually use the products, like, people might need to have internal discussions or like, you know, with this, like, you have to kind of set it up, and there's also this positive effect, where, if you've done all of this work to get it set up, then you are more bought in to the product. Like, this is the approach that TurboTax uses. Like, I don't know, if you notice that they, Colleen Schnettler 23:55I know, I know. Michele Hansen 23:55They don't, they'll be like, well, it's free to file, but then it's you know, 19 or 29 or whatever. Colleen Schnettler 24:00It's free to do your taxes, Michele Hansen 24:01Whatever, but to actually file your state one, or to have us automatically send it to the IRS or whatever it is, like, Colleen Schnettler 24:08Yeah. Michele Hansen 24:09Then you have to pay for it. And all the people listening in other countries, like especially anyone in Denmark, where you can just file your taxes online, like for free and like, you know, you don't have Intuit, with this massive lobbying budget, making it complicated. Yeah, I mean, so so there's definitely some benefits to that kind of model, and I think as long as what you do, just like, making it really clear what that like, make it clear what's going to happen to people. Colleen Schnettler 24:41Yeah, I like the idea of putting it on the pricing page because I don't want it on my landing page because that's gonna look bad. But like, if you click sign up for a free trial, I like having another pricing page because again, it doesn't do anyone any good for, I don't care about your email address if you're not interested, and you are annoyed because you fill out the welcome to my thing form, and then you have to enter a credit card, and you felt you know, you didn't know. So, I, um, I like this idea. I think it's a good idea. Michele Hansen 25:06Yeah, I think, so your call to action, it says try it now, sign up for a free 30 day trial. Colleen Schnettler 25:13Yeah. Michele Hansen 25:14And I also wonder if, you know, changing out from like, sign up to be like, you know, start free trial or whatnot, like, because I think people really do grok the difference between free trial versus free tier. And, and I saw that when I scrolled all the way down, there's a free 30 day trial, but I don't actually see that above the fold on your site. And so I wonder if making it clear that it's free trial would help with that. Colleen Schnettler 25:46Okay. I like, I like changing it to start, start your trial or something. Michele Hansen 25:50Yeah. Because they're actually, there's no button either, like, right below the header. There's like, there should be a button there that's like, start your free trial. Colleen Schnettler 25:59Oh. Michele Hansen 26:00There's no call to action button. Colleen Schnettler 26:02Wait, below the header. Michele Hansen 26:04So it says add File Uploading to your app in minutes, like, integrate file uploads in your website, no service required, blah, blah, blah. Like, where's the button? Give me a button. Colleen Schnettler 26:15Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. Michele Hansen 26:17But hey, while I'm looking at SimpleFileUpload.com, for anyone who is listening, there is a testimonial there.Yay. Colleen Schnettler 26:26Yay, I did. I got a testimonial up. Michele Hansen 26:31And it looks awesome. Colleen Schnettler 26:33Yeah. So I'm happy about that. Yeah, you're right. There should be a call to action button right here. Michele Hansen 26:39Tell me what to do, Colleen. Colleen Schnettler 26:41Oh, my gosh. See, this is, like, the stuff I don't know about. You're absolutely right. Michele Hansen 26:44Tell me to sign up. Colleen Schnettler 26:45Tell me to sign up, start trial now. Nice. Okay, I like it. Good point. Michele Hansen 26:52And I guess, yeah, you just want to like work on that wording because like, as you know, the Savvy Cow example, like, the trial doesn't start until you actually do something. And so it's like, does the trial start like, right from the time they sign up? Or just, you know, wherever you can, like, make it clear what's going to happen to people. Colleen Schnettler 27:09Yeah, so I think, so right now, if you click on sign up, it takes you to a nice signup page. But then after you hit the signup page, it takes you to the pricing page. I wonder if I should switch those since I'm going to require a credit card, and instead of taking you to the signup page before the pricing page, sign up, pricing page, which explains that you have to, you know, pay, not pay I'm sorry, that you have to enter your credit card and then a start trial button. Michele Hansen 27:45Okay, so I'm actually going through it right now. Colleen Schnettler 27:48Yeah, okay. Michele Hansen 27:49Um, so let's do it live. Okay. Colleen Schnettler 27:54Usability testing live with Michele. Michele Hansen 27:57F it will do it live. Okay. So, select your plan, try it out with a 30 day free trial, up, upgrade or cancel at any time. Okay. Colleen Schnettler 28:06So if you go back, though, if you start from the homepage, okay, if you go to Home. So go to home. Michele Hansen 28:10Home. And then sign up. Colleen Schnettler 28:12Sign up. Michele Hansen 28:13Yeah. So then it's just like a login screen. Colleen Schnettler 28:16Right. Michele Hansen 28:17Yeah, I wonder maybe, maybe you would, you could also experiment with when you click sign up, taking people to this pricing page, and then when they click start trial, then they create an account, and then they add a credit card and everything. Colleen Schnettler 28:35Yeah, I tend to wonder if that's a better workflow because again, I don't need to collect or want to collect information for people who don't want to put their credit card down. Michele Hansen 28:45Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 28:47So I think I'll do that. I like that. I like that idea. Yeah, and then they can go, if signup would take them to pricing, and then under where it says select your panel have something like, it's gonna be a seven day trial, but I'll fix that, try it out with a seven day trial credit. I mean, it sounds so bad, credit card required when you are ready to use the service or something. I don't know. I'll figure that out. Michele Hansen 29:07And I also noticed you have a 30 day money back guarantee. So a 30 day free trial, Colleen Schnettler 29:12Oh my gosh. Michele Hansen 29:12And a 30 day money back guarantee? No. Colleen Schnettler 29:15Okay. I do, but I shouldn't. Michele Hansen 29:17Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 29:17Cuz this is like, I need to change that. Oh, my gosh, it's so funny that you said that. Because basically, like, this, the framework for the SaaS is built off of the Bullet Train app, which I mentioned earlier that Andrew and I were going to make a course for, and this is just, like, their default wording. And I literally, like forgot to take it out. Michele Hansen 29:39Okay. Colleen Schnettler 29:40So I don't want to do that. I just, no one has asked for their money back. So that's good. Michele Hansen 29:44That's also a liability for you, so. Colleen Schnettler 29:47Yeah, no, I need to get, where did you see that? Michele Hansen 29:49When I clicked on start trial from the pricing page. Colleen Schnettler 29:53Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Yeah, I need to change that. Michele Hansen 29:57Well, it sounds like you now have a lot of work on your plate. So, Colleen Schnettler 30:02Yeah. Michele Hansen 30:03I guess I should let you go. Colleen Schnettler 30:05Plenty of things to do. Yeah. Great. This is good, though. This is good. I haven't really thought through that onboarding workflow in a long time. So, I'm glad we took a look at it. Michele Hansen 30:15Awesome. Well, I guess that'll wrap us up for this week. Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, please tweet about it or write us an iTunes review. That means a lot to us and, yeah, we'll talk to you next week.
Real Internet Money
Colleen Schnettler 00:00This week's episode of the Software Social Podcast is brought to you by Hopscotch Product Tours. Hopscotch Product Tours allows you to improve user onboarding with helpful product tours that guide your users to success. Also reduce frustration by helping users learn how to use your product without the need for demo calls, visit Hopscotch.club today and start delighting your users with Hopscotch Product Tours. Michele Hansen 00:28Hey, Colleen. Colleen Schnettler 00:29Hey, Michele. Michele Hansen 00:31How you doing? Colleen Schnettler 00:32I'm doing pretty well. I had a pretty uplifting week over here in the Simple File Upload world. Michele Hansen 00:38You know what? That's good to hear. Because I feel like last week you were, we talked about how you were kind of feeling like you were in the void. Colleen Schnettler 00:44I totally was. And, you know, I still feel that but I'm trying to, two things happen that changed my perspective. One, I got another check from Heroku. So that always helps. That doesn't hurt. And I'm kind of just trying to focus on my mindset as I approach this business. I have to say the check from Heroku because unlike Stripe, where you just get paid randomly when people, you know, when people pay, you only get paid once a month. So I've been telling you I have $800 MRR for like three weeks, and I haven't seen that money. So I just saw that money yesterday. So that was pretty exciting. Michele Hansen 01:21Nice Colleen Schnettler 01:22Yeah, I think I remember telling you my very first check. I got like I had enough leftover to buy a bagel. Michele Hansen 01:28Yes. The bagel, the $20 bagel. Colleen Schnettler 01:30The $20 bagel. Well, this time it was it was quite a bit more so I could could have bought quite a few bagels. So that was pretty exciting. Michele Hansen 01:37And I saw you tweeted out earlier this week that the Stripe payouts, I was just like payout, payout, payout. Colleen Schnettler 01:45I think what must happen is like people must have signed up, there were, like, four or five people who signed up like one day apart. And so the all of their invoices hit like right after each other. So I like signed on to my email every day, and it was like payout payout payout. It was awesome. It's very exciting. It was a lot of excitedness in terms of actually seeing the fruits of my labor on this product this week. So that was fun. Michele Hansen 02:10Yay. Internet money. Colleen Schnettler 02:12Yay, internet money. Michele Hansen 02:13So where is your MRR at now? So I just checked and I'm at $975. I know. What? Oh my god, you're almost at the $1,000 MRR mark, and it's been, like, three months. Yeah, I guess it's, yeah, three, oh my god. Like, Colleen Schnettler 02:35Yeah. Michele Hansen 02:36That's, that's not common. Like, just for everybody else kind of like, listening like that is, that is very uncommon. Like, you're you're not like ending up on $1,000 after three months like Coleen like that's, that's normal. Like, I think it took us like six months, and even then that was kind of fast for a little project. Dude, 975. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 02:57That's real money. It's real. That's why my last check. Because if you look at my checks from Heroku, and once again, I only get those once a month. It's not like Stripe. It was like the first one was like 150. The second one was like 250. This last one was like $570. I was like, that's like, real money. Like I could do something with that money. That's cool. Yeah, so, so from a monetary perspective, it's going great. I think I, I was struggling a lot. And I still am kind of struggling because I don't have a good feedback loop. I have been kind of unsure what to do next, and how to push the product forward. And it's funny because I like I think mid last week, I was just in a funk. And I was like, You know what, I'm just gonna build it the way I want to build it. I'm gonna develop all these features. I don't care what anyone tells me. Like, I'm just gonna do what I want to do. And you know, of course, everyone I talked to is like, that's a terrible idea. And the best way someone phrased it to me, they were like, what if you do go and you spend a couple months and you build all these features you feel like you need, you're still not going to know who your customer is. Like, I was complaining because I don't know who my customer is. And she was like, even if you spend this time to build that out, you'll be three months down the road, and you still won't know who your customer is. So have you made any progress? And I was like, oh, that's a good way to put it. So, I did a few interviews this week, which was really great. I'm really gonna take a pause on any kind of development work, and just talk to people. I mean, talk talk, talk. Michele Hansen 03:01Colleen. Colleen Schnettler 03:02I know, I know. Michele Hansen 03:04You're done putzing around in the code garden and like, you're out there in the town square. Colleen Schnettler 03:29I'm convinced. Like, between the, I mean, I probably five different people had to tell me this. But like you guys have convinced me that I just need to talk to more people. I just need, I don't know. Like, if you ask me who my ideal customer was, like, is, or who this provides value to, I can't identify that person, and casting a net of all developers is way too broad and too vague. So, that's really what I am focused on. In the next couple months, I think another thing is I need to calm down a little bit and slow down and be a little bit more patient. Michele Hansen 05:21You said that you could go off and build something for three months, and it sounds like this person you were talking to, kind of helped you realize basically, like, you wouldn't know who you were building for and why you were building it and how they needed any of that to work. Colleen Schnettler 05:39Yeah. And I think that's exactly the thing. So, so this week has been great. I spoke to three consultants, I have another one today, and I'm trying to get to five consultants, which I'm sure I can find one more person. Here's the thing, Michele, they all want different things. Michele Hansen 05:56Oh. Colleen Schnettler 05:57So, unless I have the team and the budget of a CloudFlare, I can't build one product that fits the needs for all of these three different people. Michele Hansen 06:09You know what this sounds like? Colleen Schnettler 06:10No. Michele Hansen 06:11It sounds like the very beginning of a research loop to me. Colleen Schnettler 06:15What's a research loop? Michele Hansen 06:16Okay, so it's basically this idea that, like, you do a group of like, five interviews, and then you sort of analyze that and say, okay, of all of these different problems I've had, or rather, I've heard, which ones both sound, people are already paying for them to be solved, and they're unhappy with the way that they're being solved or in, they can also be paying in terms of significant amounts of time, like that counts. And then which of these problems do you think are relatively both feasible for you to solve, like, it would be possible for you to build something, and could also be like, commercially viable for you to sell, like, people would be willing to pay enough that would justify the time that goes into it. So basically kind of analyzing what you've heard so far, based on you know, how, how well those needs are already met, or, or not met? Colleen Schnettler 07:07Yeah. Michele Hansen 07:08What they're already willing to pay for. And then, and then doing another round, focusing on those sort of top priority problems to figure out where you should go next. Like, it's completely normal that you would talk to five people and hear five different things. That doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong, if anything, that's really exciting. Colleen Schnettler 07:30Oh, that made me excited. I felt like crap. Now, I don't know what to do. Michele Hansen 07:35Oh, yeah, that makes sense. And you do it kind of like a pyramid, basically. You start out with a really wide scope in the beginning because you're casting a really wide net, like, you're just talking to all software consultants, which is a pretty broad, big net. And then you just sort of narrow it down based on where your capabilities are, and where people are willing to pay for stuff, and they're not happy with what they're currently doing. Colleen Schnettler 08:02Yeah. Okay. So that was, that was really good. You're right. It's good to hear the details of what people struggle with, what their pain points are, how frequently they have those pain points. But yeah, I was only three interviews. So nothing magical came to light, like, oh, if I just did this one thing, I would have the product everyone wants, like, there was nothing like that. Everyone was building or wanted to build kind of a specialized solution for their needs. So, I guess the answer is just continue to talk to more people in that situation. Michele Hansen 08:38Yeah, and, you know, also making it flexible, too. Like, if you genuinely hear that everybody wants something different, then, you know, making it so that they can customize it to their own needs is another route you could go on. But, I mean, it does not surprise me at all that you would not be hearing commonalities after just three people. Colleen Schnettler 08:58Yeah. Yeah. Michele Hansen 09:00That's totally normal. Colleen Schnettler 09:02Yeah. So, I think, I mean, before I start, like, what, I really want to go build an integration for this thing, or build an integration for that thing, but I think before I do any of that, like I said, I'm, you know, this is, there's no finish line here, right? Like this is this is my life, like, this is what I want to do. Even if I sold my company, I'd want to build another company. So I'm just trying to be a little bit patient and take my time and really figure out who the customer is and, you know, learn, learn about what they need and figure out how I can customize this product to their needs. Michele Hansen 09:44It sounds like that, for you, like, that is almost the opposite of your instinct. Like your instinct is to go and build for three months. Colleen Schnettler 09:57I mean, that's what I want to do. Like, let's be clear. Like I love people, but this process of like, finding people and like the, the whole, the whole logistics of it, you know, it's a lot. It takes a lot out of your day, I found that I'm a little nervous before I talk to them. it's a lot of emotional energy to like contain my own excitement, while I'm talking to them. And listen, like, that takes quite a bit of concentration as a beginner. Michele Hansen 10:24It takes concentration for me. It takes emotional energy for me. I mean, this is why I have this rule for myself that I don't do more than two in a day because the amount of energy that's required to sort of just, you know, I picture myself like this sponge that is just there to absorb whatever the other person says. Like, that requires a lot of energy, and, you know, a couple weeks ago, when I was first starting to interview all of my readers about my book, and my very meta interviews about customer interviews, I did six in one day, out of enthusiasm for this and, and at the end of that I was like, I heard so many amazing things. But I was also like, okay, now I remember why I've had two per day rule. Colleen Schnettler 11:10Yeah. Yeah, so I think that's kind of, uh, definitely goes against my instincts to slow down and try and identify my customer. But I think the point that I want to build all these things, but until I know who I'm going to be serving, I don't even know what is important to build, and I can't know what is important to build, until I talk to people who need this product, who I, to identify them and talk to them. So that's going to, that's going to mean that I need to be a little more aggressive in finding people. I can't just like, I mean, I put a thing on Twitter, and I found five people, but I was only looking for five people. Like, I want more than I want a lot of people. So I think I'm going to try some of those strategies, you know, go on Reddit, and the strategies you write about in your book, actually. If you'd like to, I mean, you talk about this in your book, I reference your book, even though it's not done, like I haven't, I'm looking at it all the time, just so you know. Michele Hansen 12:06You know, one thing I want to note is that doing development work and customer research work, like, they're not an either, or. It doesn't have to be this switch, where you're only doing one at a time. Like I think, you know, the best cases are when this kind of research is just integrated into what you're already doing. And, you know, it does take time and focus, and like, context switching is difficult so you couldn't, you know, just like, you know, write code for like half an hour and then interview someone then right? Like, you can't sort of just switch back and forth super easily, but integrating it into your process. And maybe it's not that you, you know, don't go out and build these features for three months in a cave, or also that you don't go out and just talk to people for three months. It's that you do you know, both, you know, it's like, in the same way that, that people often ask me whether they should talk to people or whether they should look at analytics, and I'm like, porque no los dos? Like, do it at the same time. Colleen Schnettler 13:07Yeah. Michele Hansen 13:08Like, you could, you know, like, for example, I remember you talking about something you came out of the interview with Drew where you wanted to pull the code pen forward on the marketing side? Colleen Schnettler 13:17Yes. Michele Hansen 13:18Has that happened? Colleen Schnettler 13:20No. Michele Hansen 13:21Oh, I don't mean to, like call you out or anything. It's like, you know, there's like, Colleen Schnettler 13:25Developer calling me out on my own podcast, Michele. Michele Hansen 13:28I'm sorry. Like, there's development work you can do, Colleen Schnettler 13:32Yeah. Michele Hansen 13:33That you'll find in these things as you go. Colleen Schnettler 13:35Yeah. And I think that's, that's really the key. And that, that's will keep me in like a happy psychological state, too, because I'll get to, I'll get to do a little code, I'll get to talk to a little people. I get to do a little code, I'll get to talk to a little people. So I think, I think that you're absolutely right. Like that is a good path forward. I think, I guess what I'm trying to sort out, so when I built this thing I built it like to do one very specific thing, right? Like, it was designed to help you get public files from your users onto your site, and I was actually making, I was using it for brochures. We were doing real estate brochures, and people have started using it and all kinds of different ways, and that's been really instructive. So, even that piece of information is interesting, and a good thing to learn. So, yeah, so I think it's just keeping an open mind and making those kinds of changes that are kind of obvious, like, the code pen more accessible as I go forward. That's kind of, kind of my plan. Oh, and I wanted to say, so what I've been doing, I think I read this in your book, too, is I've been recording, obviously, with their permission and then dropping it in Otter.ai to get a transcript, and it's so awesome because now I can just read. It takes me five minutes to read instead of watching the 30 minute video, and I have the information, like, right there at my fingertips. I love that. Michele Hansen 15:07It's awesome. Yeah, and Otter makes it so easy to do a transcript. It's actually what we use for this podcast. I should totally like, reach out to them and see if they'll sponsor us or something. Colleen Schnettler 15:19I have a paid subscription. Michele Hansen 15:21Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 15:21Because I was like, this is so worth it. Like, it's so cool. Michele Hansen 15:24Yeah, then you could just, like, Colleen Schnettler 15:25That's been, Michele Hansen 15:25Print it out and highlight. Colleen Schnettler 15:27Yeah, well, that's been such a great way to collate the data, because I was like, okay, if I want to get serious about this and talk to, you know, 15, 20 people, what, am I going to go back and watch all those interviews? I really don't want to. So, that's been a really cool way to get the data. I'm, like, pumped about that. And so, yeah. Michele Hansen 15:46Yeah, if we were doing this, like in a sort of serious, like corporate, you know, company setting, what you would do is actually like, take all of those transcripts, and then clip out like, specific key phrases and key words, and sentences where someone is really clearly describing their different use case and then, I mean, I feel like there's this sort of this meme about how much like, UX people love post it notes, and like rearranging post it notes on boards. And, like, those, you know, all of those quotes basically end up as post it notes where you're making a timeline of the user's journey through trying to do something, and you're evaluating it on functional social and emotional levels. And like, everyone in the team is like placing post it notes in all of these different areas from all the different interviews. Like you might have one color that you use for a particular customer or a particular interview, for example. It's super time intensive. It's also really fun, and yes, it brings amazing results, but even if you're not doing that, like, even the fact of getting the transcript made, going, reading through it, pulling out the key phrases, and then just, kind of, knowing where to find that information yourself, or like, jotting that down on a card, or whatever that is, wherever you're keeping information so you know what to go back and reference later can be really helpful. Colleen Schnettler 17:03Yeah, yeah, I'm pumped to go in this customer interview journey, I think I'm going to approach it the way you kind of describe where, of course, I'm not going to not touch the code, like there's going to be, there's going to be both, I'm gonna do them in parallel. But I really want to kind of identify who, who it is I can provide the most value to, and I want to be specific about it. So, Michele Hansen 17:22Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 17:23That's kind of my goal going forward. And that's going to take a while. I think that's the other thing I have to remember is like, that's not going to happen in a week. That's going to take me a little while. So, Michele Hansen 17:33I mean, in some ways, it's never over. And I don't know if that really, I don't know if that helps you. Like, I don't know if that's something I should tell you now, but like, you know, I'm a firm believer that research should be just part of your ongoing workflow and sort of building this bank of customer understanding that is a living, breathing organism. And it's not that we do a research project for a month and then build stuff for three months, then do a research project. Like, it's just always happening. Colleen Schnettler 18:00Yeah. Yeah. So speaking of all the wonderful info I got from your book while I was doing these customer interviews, how is the book going? Michele Hansen 18:09It's good, it's good. I feel like we're, we're getting into the more serious editing phase. I'm kind of, Colleen Schnettler 18:17Didn't you have a picture this morning of like, the book on your desk with a bunch of pens on Twitter? Michele Hansen 18:21Oh, yeah, I did, I printed it out, and I started reading it, like, as as a book and editing it, and I have four different colors of pens for my editing. And I used to do editing and print layout professionally, and I've sort of volunteer edited other people's books before. Colleen Schnettler 18:40So random. Michele Hansen 18:41So yeah, no, it was like, stuff I did when I was in college. So, um, so, so yeah, I'm really pumped, because actually, this is a phase of it that I feel like I understand the best. And I know, like I have seen where, you know, there was one book that I helped edit that went on to win a major like, international prize and like, I didn't have anything to do with that, but like it, I saw what that book was in its early stages, and so I know that like, the fact that I'm tearing this to shreds right now is like a normal part of the process, like, and even really amazing books, like they everything starts out in a rough shape. I'm really appreciating how different writing a book is from writing a newsletter, like, how much of a gulf there is between that. Colleen Schnettler 19:27Yeah. Michele Hansen 19:28Um, but, but I'm having fun. I feel like I have torn like the introduction absolutely to shreds. I mean, I had like four introductory chapters, and like, I think that was too many. Like, I was really burying the lead. So it's good. You know, I've brought in friends who are outside of our little bubble in tech to help me edit who were people that I know who will be harsh and honest with me, and they trust that I'm not going to be offended, and so I'm so grateful to have their help. And I've interviewed about 25 ish people now as part of it. So it's, it's going along. It's good. Colleen Schnettler 20:11That's awesome. I'm excited. And I also heard, and by heard, I mean, you told me, that you took your live chat widget off of your website. Michele Hansen 20:22I'm so excited. Colleen Schnettler 20:23Talk to me about that. Michele Hansen 20:24Okay, so this, so, this is something that has been building for a while, and for a long time, not not just since we moved here, but for a long time, the pings of live chat have been really stressful for us. Colleen Schnettler 20:43I imagine. Michele Hansen 20:44Yeah. And even, like, when we were in the US, like, we were on eastern time, and we would stop working around 4:30 or 5 on any given day, and we would still be getting requests, you know, through eight o'clock at the minimum, because of the West Coast, if not later, because of Hawaii and Alaska. And so we were sort of used to getting pinged from customer support at all hours of the day. It was not necessarily that there's a volume problem, because, so we have this idea that every support ticket only happens once. Colleen Schnettler 21:18I think you've mentioned that. Michele Hansen 21:19So this is kind of this principle that we operate on that whenever somebody, whether it's a bug or somebody is confused about something, like, if there's any way that we can make something clearer, or fix something, or basically prevent that ticket from ever happening again, we do that. So nothing gets closed until it's fixed. And, and so we operate on that principle, and that has really reduced our support volume over the years. But also, but still throughout that, and I think especially being on a European timezone serving North American customers like, that gets really difficult because you know, our daughter gets out of school at three o'clock, and then our customers wake up at three o'clock, and then it's just, like, it's just chaos, and having live chat specifically, like, people don't know when they can expect to get a live response versus when they have to wait. And I have experimented with so many different versions of copy on the little live chat widget, and none of them really seem to communicate that it's, like, it may not actually be live. Colleen Schnettler 22:30Okay. Michele Hansen 22:31And then on the flip side, some other people assume it's a robot and like, don't even use it. Colleen Schnettler 22:35Yeah, that's me. But keep going. Michele Hansen 22:37I've seen that come up in usability testing, like, when I've had people screen share, and go through our site. So um, you know, a couple months ago, I was telling this to some founder friends, and what, what came out of it was basically, you know, live chat was really important for our growth, especially in the early days, like, I'm thinking like, like, 2016, 17, 18, especially when we're going full time. And, but the things that you do to grow are not necessarily the things you have to do to maintain and be a stable business, right? You know, we're growing. Like, we grew 56% last year, even though we didn't really try to, but growth is not what we optimize for. We optimize for stability. And so those things that we did in the early days to grow, like, could use different tactics now, and where the live chat kind of stresses us out and doesn't work for our family, but also like, it creates this expectation mismanagement with our customers. And people are still getting a reply directly from the founders, and just this morning, somebody emailed us, and then we got back to them an hour later. And then the response we got back was, "Wow, I'm so amazed that you were able to give me a helpful answer so quickly." And like, that was an hour versus immediate, and they still had that, like, positive reaction. So, we just did this the other day, we'll see how it goes. But, but I'm kind of nervous, excited, relieved all the same. Colleen Schnettler 24:14So you still have the widget, it just says, Michele Hansen 24:18No, we got rid of the widget. We removed the widget. So there's no widget at all? Yeah, I mean, it's still, like, popping up in random places. So we were like, going through the codebase and trying to find all the different places we have that launcher. But, no, but we're still using intercom and the platform, like, so all the email is still coming into intercom, but we don't have the live chat bubble in the corner, and we don't have any prompts that say, you know, contact us if you have a billing question. Like, if you click on Contact Us, it doesn't pull up intercom chat widget. It instead creates an email. Colleen Schnettler 24:50Okay, so if I am on your site, and I want to contact you, I now have to scroll to the bottom to the footer, or wherever, click contact us, and that'll pop up in my email so I can email you? Michele Hansen 25:00It's in the header. And, Colleen Schnettler 25:01Okay, but, Michele Hansen 25:02And then it's, Colleen Schnettler 25:02Okay. Michele Hansen 25:03It lists all the different emails. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 25:06Now tell me about some concerns you have about making this. Michele Hansen 25:09I think I, like, a concern I have is that, you know, people will be upset, right, that they may have expected an immediate response before. But, you know, at the same time, like, most of our long term customers, like, they email us anyway. And actually, most of them have our personal emails, and like, they don't expect an immediate response. You know, our, when I was talking to those friends a couple of months ago, they were like, "You guys are providing way too high of a quality of customer service. Like, I know that you guys pride yourselves on it. Like, even doing the customer support as the founders yourselves is so far beyond what most companies do, nevermind doing it live 24/7." Like, they're like, that's that, that doesn't make sense. And like, you guys can be, you know, be gentle with yourselves, basically. Um, you know, people have been like, "Why don't you just hire someone?" And the problem with it is that because we have solved all of the easy support problems, like, the ones we do get are fairly complicated. And if someone else were to take this over, they would need to be a support engineer, who, you know, is capable of debugging people's problems, but also like, able to negotiate contracts and do billing issues and like, like, they would need to somehow be a clone of the two of us. And it doesn't really seem reasonable. So, so yeah, I think, and again, it's, it's not the volume, that it's the problem, it was really that cadence. It's when someone is, you know, chatting and saying, "Hi, are you there?" Colleen Schnettler 26:47Right. Michele Hansen 26:48Is the API working? My API key, my API key is, you know, it's doing this like, and it's like, and it's like, every, like one like, ping every minute versus someone sending us an email that's like, hey, like, so we're trying to use it earlier, and then this is what happens, and here's the error message. Like, people tend to be much more verbose and email. So, Colleen Schnettler 27:05Yes. Michele Hansen 27:06I'm nervous. But we'll see, we'll see how it goes. I think that this is, you know, an adjustment that we need to make. Colleen Schnettler 27:13I don't think anyone will care. I think you will get absolutely no, I think this is all upside for you. I mean, it's gonna be so good for your quality of life. I don't, I literally don't think anyone's gonna care. I mean, I think you're gonna find that it doesn't have any impact on your business. Michele Hansen 27:29We'll see. We'll see. But, you know, we're kind of operating under that idea that the things that we needed to do to grow, are not necessarily the same things that you do to, when you have a stable, secure business. Colleen Schnettler 27:43Yeah. Michele Hansen 27:44Yeah. Which is kind of weird, like, also in the software world, cuz I feel like, you know, we talk about this all the time, that if you're trying to build a, you know, sort of, quote, unquote, like, Calm company, right, like, you're not going down the unicorn route. Like, like most of the advice and growth tactics, and everything out, like, business advice is geared towards those companies that want to be huge, and less so towards us little one, two person companies. Like, the things that make sense for us, or, you know, we have a totally different set of incentives and resources and constraints and goals. Like, all those things are so different, that the fact that we're all in software is, is almost sort of beside the point. Colleen Schnettler 28:29It is complete, it is wild, isn't it? Like how different the tactics are. Michele Hansen 28:34Like we have more in common with a small retail business, but we also don't fit in with them because we're not a physical business. Like, it's like, I don't know, small SaaS. We're like, we're just a weird breed, man. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 28:50Well, I hope it I hope it alleviate some of that pressure and stress. I imagine, especially with the timezone issues since you guys have moved, that's got to be just challenging. Michele Hansen 29:02Yeah, my friends who also, you know, run SaaS's out of Europe with North American customers, like, I have talked to them a little bit about this and they're like, yeah, yeah, it's, it's, it's tough. It's really tough. Colleen Schnettler 29:18Yeah, definitely. Awesome. Well, I'm, I'm glad. I think, I feel like, this is gonna work for you. Michele Hansen 29:25We'll see. Maybe in six months we'll be like, oh my god, we don't have any new customers and everybody cancelled because we don't have the chat thing, but I hope not. Colleen Schnettler 29:33I mean, honestly, and I know you said they, they come in two groups, but I just assumed there will not be a person on the other side of the chat widget. So, if I hit your chat widget, I just assume I'm going to send you an email. You know what I mean? I think you'll be fine. Michele Hansen 29:47Yeah, I think people have totally different expectations. And what we have tried to communicate is that we're not making it harder to contact us, like we're not, you know, offshoring our support. Like, you can still go to the header and click, like, contact. You can still email us, like, it's still the two founders doing the support. It's just one of the tools we use for that is going away. Colleen Schnettler 30:13Yeah, cool. I can't wait to hear an update on how that goes. All right. Well, I guess that'll wrap us up for this week. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please tweet about it. 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