The Product Business
By Scott Bolinger
The Product BusinessJan 27, 2020
Quickie - Marketing for Developers
As I became a better developer over the years, I got worse at marketing. My brain can't seem to do both of those things at once.
I put a post out on Twitter, and got some great responses that helped me a lot. Here's the thread: https://twitter.com/scottbolinger/status/1328750436031971328
In this episode I talk about the responses that I liked the most, and what I am doing with AppPresser marketing as a result.
19. Josh Pigford - Almost selling Baremetrics for $5m
Josh Pigford of Baremetrics talks to me about how he got 90% of the way to selling his business for 5 million dollars, and got ghosted at the last minute. He learned a lot through the process, and he tells all about it. You can read more details in his blog post here.
18. Cory Miller on Selling Your Business
Cory Miller started iThemes around 2008, built a very successful business in the WordPress space, and then was acquired in 2018. He opens up about what that process has been like, and what he would recommend to other entrepreneurs.
17. Bryce Adams - Quitting his job and getting 1000 customers
Bryce worked in support for WooCommerce, and had a great idea for a product. He pitched it to his employers and they didn't show any interest, so he decided to quit and go it on his own. He started Metorik 3 years ago, now he has over 1000 paying customers and a couple of employees.
16. Brian Krogsgard - Hard choices in business
Brian runs Post Status, a membership site for WordPress professionals, as well as Ledger Status, a site for blockchain and cryptocurrency education. He has faced some decline in his membership at Post Status, and he talks about why, and the hard decisions he's had to make as a result.
15. Tony Perez - What Being Acquired is Really Like
I like to hear from Tony because he plays in the big leagues, even before they were acquired they were doing 8 figures, and now they are with a multi-billion dollar company. Enjoy!
14. Pippin Williamson - From Software Success to Starting a Brewery
Pippin is the founder of Sandhills Development, creators of Easy Digital Downloads, AffiliateWP, and more. He has been in the WordPress product space for years and has had a lot of success. Recently he's been a bit MIA from the WordPress scene, so I talk to him about the brewery he started and what he's learned transitioning from software to beer.
13. Corey Haines - Head of Growth at Baremetrics
Corey talks about how they are moving the needle with growth at Baremetrics, and he also breaks down a simple 2 step process for small teams and bootstrappers to think about marketing.
1. Talk to customers. Learn what they want and need to inform both product development and marketing materials. Use their language in your tweets, website copy, etc.
2. Build in public. Sell the dream, not just screenshots. Taylor Otwell is a good example.
Corey also talks about how he uses mental models to inform his marketing efforts.
12. Chris Coyier - How css-tricks.com has changed, and monetizing Codepen.io
Chris and I talked about how people don't like to leave comments anymore, and how that has affected css-tricks.com, if at all. It used to be just him spinning up blog posts, but now he has a staff and they put much more effort into each post.
We also talk about his journey creating and monetizing codepen.io, and how that is going.
Other things we discuss include JAMstack, React, WordPress and more.
11. Dev Chat - Jason Lengstorf - Should developers learn the newest thing?
Jason Lengstorf, formerly of IBM and then GatsbyJS, is a developer who loves to learn. His YouTube channel Learn with Jason has tons of great videos on a variety of web development topics.
In this episode we talk about if learning the hot new framework is a waste of time, where front end web development is heading, and more.
10. Derrick Reimer - How to validate a product idea
Derrick is the co-founder of Drip, which was acquired by LeadPages. He started an app called Level, worked on it for a year, and it ended up failing. We talk about why it failed, his framework for validating products now, and how he is applying that to his next project StaticKit.
9. Brendan Hufford - Practical SEO Tips
Sometimes the word SEO elicits eye-rolls from those of us who have been around for a while, but this episode with Brendan Hufford is not what you might expect.
Brendan takes a different approach to SEO, he looks at a business with a holistic lens, and offers non-scammy, practical tips for improvement. This is not about guest blog posting, backlinks from infographics, or any other gimmicky nonsense. It's about how to improve what you are doing on the web.
I took away more than one useful strategy to implement in my business, including doing more product demo videos, how to find target keywords, and more.
8. Jordan Gal of CartHook - What Explosive Growth Feels Like
In this episode, we discuss how Jordan had an eCommerce store making $75k/mo, which gave him a lot of insight into making eCommerce products. He started out with a cart abandonment solution for multiple platforms (I even tried this out for Easy Digital Downloads). He actually avoided integrating with Shopify, but he had an idea to make a checkout that was customizable.
He released an MVP and he was overwhelmed with the response. Jordan talks about how they may have released too early, which reminds me of this post by Jason Cohen about why they don't build MVPs. They are now sunsetting the cart abandonment product because the checkout solution is going so well.
Jordan says Carthook's checkout solution is popular because it brings the customization of ClickFunnels to Shopify. We also discussed how his product is risky, because it's not officially working on Shopify APIs. They are not in the Shopify app store, and technically Shopify could kill their business if they wanted to.
7. Dev Chat - Zac Gordon - Is Gatsby the future of WordPress?
6. Jack McDade of Statamic
Jack McDade is a fun guy making a fun product.
He is the founder of Statamic, a static website CMS built on top of Laravel. Building this company was not easy for Jack and the team, he says it took 6 years before he could stop doing client work. Jack has created the best branding I've seen in a bootstrapped software company. It's not just the design (which is awesome), it's the pricing, the mission, and the product.
The folks at Statamic are doing something they believe in and having fun at it, and it shows. In this episode we talk about why he built a static website CMS, what that actually means, and his journey convincing people to buy it.
5. Dev Chat - WPGraphQL and Gatsby with Jason Bahl
Jason Bahl created WPGraphQL, which is a plugin that adds a GraphQL API for WordPress sites. He created it because he worked for a large publishing company that had 250 million pageviews per month, and the WP REST API was too slow.
In this episode we talk about why you would use WPGraphQL instead of the WP REST API, how it works, and what it has to do with Gatsby. (Gatsby is a React based static site generator that also uses GraphQL.)
This is the first Dev Chat, which is a developer focused episode where we talk about code, infrastructure, and the process of building products. My normal interviews focus more on the business of selling products.
4. Brian Casel - How to Productize a Service, and Sell It For 6 Figures
In this podcast we discuss how he built it, then had to pivot as he learned about his market. It turned out restaurant owners wanted someone to build everything for them, so that became an important part of onboarding customers.
Brian is famous for talking about "productized services," he even has a course called Productize. The idea for a productized service came from his experience onboarding customers for Restaurant Engine. He ended up selling it, along with another entity called Hotel Propeller, for low six figures.
He then created Audience Ops, another productized service. His latest endeavor has been learning how to code, and he's just putting the finishing touches on a new SaaS called ProcessKit. Brian sold a few companies, including a theme company in 2015, and more recently his Content Upgrades plugin to iThemes.
We talk about that and lots more, enjoy!
3. Brad Touesnard - Taking Investor Money and Failing, Then Succeeding By Scratching Your Own Itch
Brad Touesnard founded Delicious Brains, makers of WP Migrate DB and SpinupWP.
I love asking about failures of successful people, and Brad and I got into what he did before Migrate DB was a profitable enterprise.
I first heard Brad's name from his product WP App Store, which tried to be a marketplace inside of a WordPress plugin. It failed for a number of reasons, including the fact that starting a marketplace is really hard.
What I never knew before is that he took on investment money for the project, and when it failed he decided to pivot their investment into Delicious Brains. That meant that those investors in WP App Store now owned shares in Delicious Brains, and he eventually bought out all but one.
Brad created WP Migrate DB because he had trouble migrating client sites while working at an agency. He was scratching his own itch, and he didn't really think much of it. The product gained lots of installs, and he eventually released a pro version.
In the podcast we also talk about Mergebot, a product that his team worked on for 2 years and killed before launch due to insurmountable technical issues.
I love Brad's philosophy of working on products he thinks are cool, and scratching his own itch. SpinupWP came out of this, and I think it will be a success.
We discussed funded startups vs. lifestyle businesses, 32 hour work weeks, selling your company, and more.
2. Justin Jackson - Fighting to 20k MRR with Transistor.fm
If you aren't familiar, Justin Jackson created Megamaker, Marketing for Developers, and most recently, Transistor.fm.
I love how open and honest he is.
In this podcast, he talks about why going on his own and hustling to pay his bills led to some great things, but also to depression. His course Marketing for Developers, along with his other obligations really drained him. He had to be "on" all the time, and it was exhausting. He wanted to do something new, and his pal Jon Buda was building a podcast hosting platform.
Justin loved the idea, and he was already deep in the podcasting world. He opens up about how he basically begged Jon to let him into the project. Jon eventually did, and the project became Transistor.fm.
Even though Justin had a pretty big audience for their launch, Justin recounts being about 6 months in and only having a few thousand in revenue. He felt a sense of despair because they were growing so slowly, and were still so far away from being able to pay themselves what they needed.
They are now at $20k MRR, and although this sounds like a great success, Justin says they aren't quite where they need to be yet. They use the Profit First method of taking 50% of revenue for salaries, which only amounts to $5K each. With 4 kids, a mortgage, and all the obligations of modern living, he needs more than that.
We also talk about why you should start a podcast even if no one listens. I agree, I'm having a blast with this one. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
1. Justin Ferrinman - From Massage Chair Vending Machines to E-Learning
Justin has been doing LearnDash since 2012, and he is crushing it. I was curious about how he started his company, and what he did before that.
One of my favorite moments in this episode was learning that Justin sold massage chair vending machines. His life could be very different if he stuck with that.
He also created a clever business that gave away free domain names and made money through affiliates on the back end. It brought in a few hundred bucks per month until he finally sold it for $2,000. Check the "successful exit" box!
LearnDash ended up being profitable within 48 hours, Justin talks about how he built an audience pre-launch and generated lots of buzz for his launch.
We also talk about how hiring consultants is undervalued, something many product developers don't normally do.