Episode 39: Your Product Business Is An Asset w/Glenn Stovall

This Episode Sponsored By:
difficult-clientsConquering Client Conflict
Paying late, not responding to emails, arguing about art direction…enough is enough. Get more respect & make more money by resolving these conflicts in your favor – more details

 

Consultant and freelance developer Glenn Stovall joins the show to talk about how he diversified into the product business. We cover the idea of products as a long-term play, the true nature of a launch, and shadow work!

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • Why a product business launch is a process, not an event
  • Why products won’t earn like services – and that’s OK
  • Adjusting from service sales to product sales
  • How pulling back on scale can help you ship
Hi there! To help Chasing Product grow, please take a moment to visit iTunes and give the show a 5-star rating. Thanks!

 Show Notes:
Dependable: Deliver Software on Time and On Budget – Glenn’s new book
Special deal on Dependable for Chasing Product listeners
Glenn on Twitter
Gumroad
Small Product Lab
30×500
Amy Hoy – creator of 30×500, previous Chasing Product guest
Spin Selling
Drip – Lightweight Marketing Automation That Doesn’t Suck
Marketing for Developers
Justin Jackson
Majestic SEO – Marketing Search Engine & Backlink Checker
Thrive Themes – Conversion-Focused WordPress themes
Editflow – editorial calendar for scheduling blog posts
Audience Ops – content marketing service & tools
Brian Casel – founder of AudienceOps, previous Chasing Product guest
Remarq – create stunning documents from Markdown in seconds
Stripe – oh, come on, you know what Stripe is!
War of Art – book about winning the inner creative battle, by Steven Pressfield
Do The Work – overcome Resistance and get out of your own way, by Steven Pressfield

Glenn didn’t start out in the product business.  Like many of us, he started out working in an agency.  After taking a 5-year long “semester off” from college, he found himself in an agency position, managing other developers.  After later making his way into his own business, Glenn spent 3 productive years freelancing before considering launching a product business.

Glenn learned about the importance of scope in the product business after participating in the Gumroad Small Product Lab.  His initial product was going to be a Saas app but he reduced the scope and launched a book instead. This product would serve as seed material when he launched Dependable a year later, providing more valuable experience and asset-building for Glenn’s product business.

We talk about the disconnect between the skills needed for service business sales and product business sales.  Glenn points out that product is a long-term game, and that it won’t earn the same money in an immediate time frame that services will.  We talk about how building a product business is like building an asset, and the fringe benefits that come from having product on the market.

Glenn shares his basic marketing stack with us, and talks about some of his go-to moves for growing his product business.  Then he caps off the interview by sharing 3 action items for his fellow founders.

Episode 37: Startup Decision-Making and ROI w/Hiten Shah


In this episode, Quick Sprout and Kiss Metrics founder Hiten Shah talks about early SEO consulting, finding the ROI in a startup, and more.

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • Why you need good distribution AND good product
  • Why innovation isn’t necessarily a priority
  • The importance of managing expectations
  • How patterns aid startup decision-making
Hi there! To help Chasing Product grow, please take a moment to visit iTunes and give the show a 5-star rating. Thanks!

 Show Notes:
Hiten.com – Hiten’s newletter
Quick Sprout – Make Better Content, co-founded by Hiten
KISS Metrics – Analytics Built to Optimize Marketing, co-founded by Hiten
Crazy Egg – Visualize where your visitors click, co-founded by Hiten
Neil Patel – Hiten’s co-founder & marketing badass
A Technique for Producing Ideas – book by James Webb Young
Conquering Client Conflict – Resolve conflicts, get more respect, make more money as a freelancer

Hiten Shah has made the transition from freelancing to products in a big way. Starting as an SEO consultant in the early 2000’s, Hiten has managed to hone his startup decision-making skills to a high degree, all while founding 3 companies, each offering a product not too far removed from the SEO consulting family tree.

“On a very high level, I’m just fascinated by the power of words & business”

In this episode, Hiten and I talk a but about keeping your freelancing business in order to better enable your product aspirations. We touch a bit on the importance of setting expectations and maintaining boundaries (which my free e-mail course happens to cover). In fact, Hiten cites his best freelancing skill that carried over into doing startups as his ability to manage expectations, calling it the most fundamental difference between success and failure. We also delve into his startup decision-making process by talking about some of the frameworks and patterns Hiten uses both when mentoring other founders and when making decisions of his own.

Hiten shares his insight on selecting the best marketing channel for your product, and why it’s necessary to have both a strong product and strong distribution rather than just one or the other. We also talk about the role of innovation in the startup decision-making process, and whether or not it’s as much of a factor now as it was 5+ years ago. He encourages founders to really think about the problem they’re solving and who has it. Hiten suggests that founders look for a direct path to ROI for their customers as early as possible.

And always, we finish the show with 3 action items that you can implement right away in your own business.

Episode 32: Designing for Startups w/Jane Portman

This Episode Sponsored By:
90-Day Product Goal Framework
Are you tired of failing to meet long term goals as a product creator? Now there’s a system to help keep you on track and on task as you launch your own products – more details


In this episode, Jane Portman of UIBreakfast.com talks about how she helps founders level-up their UI game, shares how she leveled-up her consultancy, and gives good advice to those of us looking to launch a web app.

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • The importance of launching to the right audience
  • Why design templates are actually OK
  • The challenges of managing a team
  • The 2 design stages every Saas app goes through
Hi there! To help Chasing Product grow, please take a moment to visit iTunes and give the show a 5-star rating. Thanks!

 Show Notes:
@uibreakfast – Jane on Twitter
The UI Audit – A book by Jane
Mastering App Presentation – another book by Jane
Fundamental UI Design E-Course – authored by Jane, offered by InVision
Authority
Joanna Wiebe – creator of Airstory
Amy Hoy – creator of 30×500
Rob Walling – GetDrip and HitTail
Egghead.io
Brennan Dunn
MicroConf

At age 16, Jane was a typical student, interested in math & physics. After winning a scholarship and becoming an exchange student in South Carolina, Jane studied design and never looked back. Upon returning to Russia, she started working in an agency. Over the next 8 years she honed her skills while working up from Junior Designer to Creative Director and eventually began to freelance, designing for startups. She shares a bit about why perfectionism is more tolerable in agency life than startup life.

Jane shares the reason why she left the agency, and what made her decide to “conquer the US market” as a freelancer designing for startups. She also talks about some of limitations she encountered working as a freelancer on oDesk, and the three things she did to “level-up” her work:

1) Changed title to “consultant”
2) Wrote a book
3) Set a minimum rate of $95/hour

To build authority, she launched first book to start attracting clients. She interviewed her “personal stars” for the book, to start making contacts. Jane talks about launching to a small list, and what the very valuable primary payoff of that first book was (hint” it wasn’t the money).

“Being not-pretty is not a big obstacle to making money online. Seriously.”

To arrive at her current positioning as a UI/UX consultant designing for startups, Jane used the Sales Safari technique, which was intensive but very productive. Jane found that Founders don’t always prioritize design, they have so many other things to worry about.

We talk a bit about The UI Audit, Janes third book and she tells us how this book served to scalably distill her consulting knowledge and spare her personal time. She also explains how this fits into a “product ladder” model.

Not every founder is able to prioritize design, for reasons on finance or exigency. It’s not something that most founders can do themselves, either. Jane found that her client work was primarily related to designing for startups – specifically, bootstrapped Saas founders. It’s a perfect nice for her because it’s between a big corporation and VC-funded founders. Jane says she fell in love with the community at MicroConf. We talk about the two features Jane looks for in an ideal client.

Jane & I talk a bit about the proper role of using templated designs when designing for startups, and when/how/why to invest in a proper designer.

Jane talks about the skills required to know when it’s time to seek expert help, when it’s time to hire team members, and when it’s time to re-evaluate and fire them – “You never regret that you fired someone too early, but you sure regret that you fired someone too late.”

Episode 2: Delegating Your Bootstrapped Product Efforts w/Ruben Gamez

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Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch joins me on this second episode.  We discuss his journey from freelancer to day job and on to product. We learn what Ruben did right from the very start.  We also learn what practices he’s developed over time.  There’s also some frank talk about the importance of delegating.

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • giving yourself time to develop your domain expertise, be it design or development
  • what it takes to become good at delegating and outsourcing, and what you gain from it
  • respecting your own value, and asking for the money
  • the most important thing Ruben gained after acquiring a competitor
  • how to pick the right writers for your content marketing efforts
  • why “marketing first” was the right approach for Bidsketch

And more, including how Ruben would do pricing differently, and why he avoided letting his personal identity get too deeply imprinted as the public face of his company (here’s a hint: can your business stand on its own if you’re not there?).  

The theme of letting go & delegating comes up throughout this episode.  It’s a practice that benefits Bidsketch as a bootstrapped product startup, and Ruben clearly feels strongly about it.

Bidsketch – Ruben’s bootstrapped product; create professional client proposals in minutes
The Business of SoftwareEric Sink‘s book that inspired an entire generation of bootstrappers
Patrick McKenzie – author of many fantastic and educational marketing blog posts over at Kalzumeus
Peldi’s blog – founder of Balsamiq, all-around nice guy and fantastic marketer