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92 Comments

I went from selling a $55k MRR SaaS to writing books in public. AMA!

Hello Indie Hackers!

I'm Arvid, I am the author of Zero to Sold, I'm currently writing The Embedded Entrepreneur in public, I am bootstrapping PermanentLink (because I need it for my books), and I spend 26 hours a day on Twitter 🐦.

A Zero to Sold cake(My wonderful partner @DanielleSimpson made this celebratory cake for me when I launched my first book)

I also was on the IH podcast a while back! Check out episode 140 to hear my excited voice (being on that show was a dream come true!)

If you have any questions — about anything at all — now is the time to ask them.


To make navigating the answers easier, here are the topics of the questions that already have been asked (and answered):

  1. 5

    Hi Arvid, I listen to your podcasts regularly. I like it because your advices are useful for Indiehackers. The experience is just applicable.

    I would like to know how do you discover a cost-effective marketing channel? What marketing tactics are you planning to try?

    I am asking because I am working on Shopify apps. The competition is becoming keen. And they are many copycats who shamelessly copy your ideas.

    1. 4

      I'd say "follow the customer." Find out where they already hang out, and try selling to them there.

      Usually, there are communities for all kinds of customers. Facebook groups, Subreddits, some people even keep chatting in web forums that were look like it's the 90s.

      Become a part of those communities to learn a) what your customers care about and how they like to be talked to and b) who else is already marketing to them there and how.

      You probably won't find extremely novel ways of marketing to your customers, particularly in a field such as Shopify apps that are somewhat dependant on a platform. But you can definitely become part of their communities, establish a brand as an expert in the field, and then get them excited for what you have to offer. That is precisely what The Embedded Entrepreneur is about — and that book will be launched in two weeks or so. I'm ALMOST done with it :D

  2. 4

    “A broken link is a broken promise” WOW... I like that a lot! You won my follow just for those words.

    1. 3

      Thanks, and I wish I could claim credit, but that was all Copy.ai :D All I did was select this one from a lot of amazing options.

  3. 3

    Hello Arvid,
    I personally admire you a lot, the way you interact with everyone. i was wondering how you could manage this by having that much followers in twitter. Can i know how much notifications you may get when you open it for the first time?

    1. 2

      I ALWAYS and CONSTANTLY have 20 notifications. Check out this screenshot, I just took this after not being on Twitter for like 10 minutes.

      I use the mentions tab a lot. And I consciously look for opportunities to interact with my followers. It just gives me an incredible amount of joy to chat with so many amazing founders.

      It takes a lot of time, but I believe it's worth it. I'd say I spend at least 2 full hours every day talking to people on Twitter. Usually, when I wake up, I have maybe 50 mentions. I tend to check them all out and reply to the ones that stand out to me :)

      1. 2

        Yes, I saw you replying on every mention. Twitter helped me to get connect ed with some wonderful people like you.
        Everyone is just a DM away.

        1. 1

          And that's the most wonderful thing about it. Completely agree!

  4. 3

    I launched on Feb 2, 2021. End of Feb MRR $50, March $110, April $239. Adding a $100 MRR per month feels really slow but doubling month over month is really fast. Any tips on figuring out if this is actually working and what the trajectory going forward might be? I'm in the sort of working, maybe not good enough no-mans-land.

    1. 4

      You doubled your MRR, so that indicates that there is a repeatable system. And a business IS a repeatable system of selling a workable solution to a critical problem that your customers experience.

      I think this is great, and $100 a month is much more than most founders see.

      Consider this: if you can add another $100, nothing is stopping you from improving your sales approach to finding twice the number of people. All of a sudden we're looking at $1k MRR within 6 months.

      It's finding those repeatable systems that make or break a business. If you continue to grow, there is potential. The problems only start when you can't find new customers, no matter how much you try.

  5. 3

    How do you keep motivated to work on a project and not chase the new shiny idea?

    1. 3

      I try to only work on things that I personally need — and then set up accountability systems around that. When I started my blog, I needed SOMETHING to do. I had just sold the business, and I was looking for a channel for my passion.

      So I started writing. To keep myself from just stopping, I started a newsletter. The moment I had my first subscriber, I knew that I would need to keep writing every week. Someone was relying on that. I actually wrote about this last week!

      Back to only building things I need. I started PermanentLink because my links kept breaking. I wrote Zero to Sold because I wanted to teach, but consulting felt too tedious. I wrote The Embedded Entrepreneur because I wanted to do more research on community and problem discovery. I am part of a few other SaaS projects that are all focused on helping coders, writers, or founders. That's how I keep internal accountability: I need those things myself.

      1. 2

        Thanks for the detailed reply!

        Btw loved the indiehackers podcast too 👌

        1. 2

          Got a link for this one?

        2. 2

          Yeah that was the highlight of my Indie Hacker career :D

  6. 3

    How do you and your partner split your time between all your projects?

    1. 4

      For me, this is mostly first-come-first-serve. I have set up things in a way that I receive alerts for emergencies (like when PermanentLink has errors or when a book vanishes from a store). That way, I can play with whatever I want to during my normal hours.

      I have SOME structure, though. I usually write on Mondays and Tuesdays, deal with all kinds of SaaS projects on Wednesday, record my podcast and finish my blog post/newsletter on Thursday, and Fridays are for fun. Not that the whole week wouldn't be fun, but I found that having most of my weekly writing done early in the week is really calming.

      Danielle has her own — more structured — approach. We usually don't interact much during the workday, as we are in our own worlds most of the time. We take the time to go on a daily walk together, and we usually don't work after dinner. There is more to life than indie hacking (as crazy as this might sound).

      Personally, I have started saying no to a lot of projects, too. That keeps my week free of meetings and responsibilities, which is what I wanted in the first place: a mostly empty calendar schedule.

  7. 2

    What tool/app for writing and publishing an ebook did you use? Would you recommend it and if there are better alternatives, what are they?

    Thanks! :)

    (Sorry if you've answered this, I searched to page and couldn't see it)

    1. 1

      I wrote about my writing process for Zero to Sold, and the tools haven't changed for The Embedded Entrepreneur:

      • I use Vellum for the typesetting, layout, and exporting. It creates both the ebooks and the print template.
      • I wrote the whole book in one gigantic markdown file.
      • I converted it into a Google Doc that got imported into HelpThisBook.
      • I also had a few Word document versions that went to my proofreader.
  8. 2

    Hi Arvid, ​
    I am working on a homework app for K-2 tutors which allows them to collect responses as audio. As you see, it is a super niche. Can you suggest any websites where I can find relevant audience to brainstorm the ideas around the product.

    Thanks for this AMA!

    1. 2

      I bet K-2 tutors have a water cooler somewhere. Finding those communities might involve more than using a website: I recommend actually asking a few K-2 tutors where they hang out, join those communities, and become one of them.

      There are several tools for Facebook, Reddit, and LinkedIn group discovery. I'd still recommend asking actual people where they like to hang out — and where others like them chat about their issues and annoyances.

      I really like your niche. FeedbackPanda was an EdTech business too, and working with teachers was an incredibly enjoyable experience. So underserved, so grateful, and so focused on empowering their students!

  9. 2

    Hi, Arvid. Thanks for doing this AMA.

    I am currently working on a platform, where I will be writing a ton of blog posts and courses for other developers and entrepreneurs. I am planning on creating a community around my platform so that other people can share resources as well.

    The problem I am struggling with is where I am going to find potential readers. How would you market such a platform?

    1. 2

      Communities suffer from the "initial critical mass" problem: for network effects to kick in, you need a sizeable initial group of users. Getting those first users to join an almost empty community is hard – but not impossible.

      It might be an interesting idea to onboard whole (small) niche communities at a time. This would involve partnering up with the community leaders and admins, but I see so many communities shifting between platforms, all you need to do is convince the organizers that your platform is better than what they currently use.

  10. 2

    26 hours a day on Twitter 🐦

    Time to sell a productivity course on TikTok ❤️

    1. 1

      I think I am too cheugy for TikTok marketing at this point. 😂 (I heard that this emoji is indicating that I'm a millennial)

        1. 2

          LOL, or.. lots of love!

  11. 2

    Is it necessary to have an established audience (like your Twitter followers) to sell a business? Obviously, FP wasn't going "over the counter" at flippa.com, but curious to know because I'm interested in selling a micro SaaS that's at low-4-figures MRR in revenue.

    1. 2

      When we sold FeedbackPanda, I had less than 400 followers on Twitter. So I don't think that played any part in the sale.

      What DID play a big part was that we had a product page for FeedbackPanda here on IndieHackers. We also had hooked up our Stripe-verified MRR to that page, and that made all the difference. People could see, in public, how we were growing steadily, month over month. Danielle gave an interview here at some point — when we were at $35k MRR — but we didn't have a big audience, by no means. We just made the information available for those who would be interested.

      And they became interested enough to reach out through email at some point. 😉

  12. 2

    Hi Arvid! I found your podcast a while back and have been hooked since!

    Currently I’m spinning my wheels in building out MVPs, I can cut down the feature set, but I spin my wheels by over-engineering everything ‘for scale’. How do you combat over engineering and just building for now, not for the future?

    1. 3

      Took me a while to learn, and I still sometimes fall prey to premature optimization.

      What helped me understand was that software is never finished, but a business can be finished if it doesn't have any customers. You can always add one more feature. But making no money will end your business.

      Involving people from the start is a helpful tool too. Get beta users into the product. Offer them a free lifetime plan if you must, but get people involved. You'll see what they need to solve their problem, how they use your "incomplete" tool, and they will be very clear about what it needs to be considered "good enough."

  13. 2

    On writing... two spaces after a full stop, or one?? 😉

    1. 2

      One. Gotta save space :P

      The good thing about professional editors is that they will deal with all those quirky things for you. My proofreader Joanna did a spectacular job, and all those stylistic decisions that I didn't even know needed to be made were managed by her.

      Work with experts.

      Now the much more interesting questions: tabs or spaces?

  14. 2

    How does your coding impact your writing? Do the 2 skills complement each other?

    1. 2

      I think so. Coding is essentially instructing machines, while writing is instructing humans. In many ways, writing for a computer isn't that much different from writing for people: you try to be understood as best you can.

      Coding certainly taught me a couple of things: brevity doesn't mean clarity. If you write a super-efficient piece of code, it can be highly unreadable by anyone else. Just because it makes sense to you (and enough sense to the machine to run it) doesn't mean it's good code. Writing is very similar: just because you condensed a thought to the bare minimum doesn't make it clear: it just makes it denser. Some readers might appreciate that, but others need more context to understand what you're trying to convey.

      Coding also taught me that I write not for myself, but for my audience. It doesn't matter it if makes sense to me: if my code is wrong, the machine doesn't understand it. If my writing is wrong, my readers will be confused. That's why I immediately threw my very first version of the manuscript into the hands of hundreds of alpha readers. They are the ones that eventually need to understand the book. They should be the ones telling me if it makes sense or not.

      1. 2

        Superb answer👏👏👏

        I feel the same, I think coding helps structure your writing better.

        I look at a blog post or a chapter as a logical flow of taking the reader from point A to point B.

        Much like I'd like information to flow in my code from point A to point B.

        The more my code is complicated, the more chances of bugs, more chances of the machine misunderstanding the instructions.

        Same can be applied to writing for humans. The simpler the journey for the reader, the easier it is for him to get your point.

        Thanks for your answer, thanks for being kind always, you're awesome🙏🙏🙏

        and thanks for giving me this massive hit of confirmation bias🤣🤣🤣

  15. 2

    Hey Arvid! Really admire your growth and especially how you approach writing a book through #buildinginpublic

    I'm planning to write a short guide for new Newsletter Creators by sharing my experiences.

    I'd love it if you can give me some advice on marketing a guide/ebook like this. It would be great if there are any other platforms to reach out to potential readers than just Twitter.

    Thanks in advance :)

    1. 2

      There are many communities out there, and Twitter is just one of them. I've been exploring this in the research phase for The Embedded Entrepreneur.

      The best place to look is the proverbial watercooler: where do your future readers hang out? Can you find other communities, like Slacks, Discord servers, web forums, Telegram groups, Facebook groups, LinkedIn Groups, Quora Spaces, Pinterest boards, Instagram channels, YouTube channels, Twitch channels, Subreddits? Find the ones that resonate with you and join them.

      You just have to find out where your newsletter creators hang out :)

      I am part of a number of writing / self-publishing communities because I AM a writer, and I build tools for writers. I am slowly building a reputation there, knowing that people will be interested in what I have to offer.

      Twitter is still a great platform to reach out to people on, it's very casual, and very public at the same time. You can also directly talk to your most compatible prospects. Find newsletter creators and ask where they hang out, where they learn new things, and where they share what they know.

  16. 2

    Hi Arvid

    When is the book coming out? Can't wait so have signed up to be a review reader on your site to expedite the process :)

    My questions for you is: how long did it take you to write this book from idea to planning to execution?

    1. 3

      I had the idea of writing The Embedded Entrepreneur very quickly after the feedback for Zero to Sold came in. People really liked that book, and they asked me specific questions about the whole audience discovery process that I hadn't looked at in too much detail. At the time, I was mentoring a few founders, and I helped several of them with the 5-step process that came to be the foundation of my audience discovery framework as it's laid out in The Embedded Entrepreneur.

      After I saw this process be successful, I knew I could share it with a wider audience, and I started drafting the outline of the book. Must have been in October or November 2020. Then, I felt a strong surge of impostor syndrome and didn't start writing until New years eve. On that day, I decided that I wanted the book to be done in January. So I wrote every day from Jan 1st to Jan 31st. On Feb 1st, I was done with the first draft and immediately started finding alpha readers. Every few weeks, I'd then work their comments and suggestions into the manuscript.

      After a few rounds of this, I decided that the book is "good enough" — after all, it's an audience-driven book that was collectively edited by hundreds of future readers. I got a proofreader to polish the manuscript, and I now consider it "done." I'll be releasing the book in a few weeks, after handing it out to a few review readers, just like yourself.

      Overall, it took maybe 6 months.

      1. 2

        Thanks for the insights. I really like that this book about audience building is "completed" based on your audience's real feedback -- you practice what you preach.

        Do you basically work "full time" during these 6 months or was it a case of juggling multiple projects during this timeframe?

        1. 2

          It was 50% book, 50% other things. But I was on Twitter (and still am) the whole time.

  17. 2

    Hey Arvid, I was wondering how selling Feedback Panda has changed the way that you approach creating products.

    1. 1

      I definitely focus much more on solving problems that I can personally relate to. That's why all my current products, the books and the SaaS that I have built, are focused on entrepreneurs and writers. I am both, so I "get" my target audience and deeply resonate with the pains they feel — because I feel or felt them myself.

      I'm much faster to say "no" to collaborations where I am not in that position. That is a big change. Earlier in life, I agreed quickly to cool project ideas. Now I really check if I can and want to resonate with those ideas.

      1. 2

        Great stuff. Also, nice to create products for an audience that you can relate to and enjoy conversing with I imagine. Where would be the best place to get your books (for you)?

        1. 1

          Amazon still reigns supreme when it comes to sales, due to the network effects of ranking high on their lists. But all outlets will do. Thanks for asking!

  18. 2

    No question to ask Arvid, just wanted to jump in and thank you for being so kind 😭

    1. 2

      Aww, that's sweet of you. Thank you!

  19. 2

    Thanks for doing this, Arvid!

    What do you think about the JTBD (Jobs-To-Be-Done) framework? I see a lot of potential in it but I'm not sure if it's feasible to apply it as an indie hacker. I read Tony Ulwick's book but he only talks about how a dedicated team in a big company would implement it. Any tips around this?

    1. 2

      Absolutely. JTBD is a very interesting framework to use during your problem discovery activities. It shines a clear light on the potential areas where critical problems can be found for any particular audience. It also highlights the potential competitive alternatives (not just products like yours or other SaaS services, but also hired help like interns, even automated scripts), that you'll have to consider. I wrote about JTBD and its use in this part of the business exploration process at length in Zero to Sold because it's such a helpful guide.

      Anything that illustrates the workflow of the people you're trying to serve is a solid tool in an indie hacker's arsenal. If it gives you insight into the input, the process, and the outputs, it can help you find critical problems that are worth solving.

      1. 2

        Oh, so you talk about it in your book? How great is that! My copy is actually underway and should arrive in a couple of days. Now that I learned this fact, waiting for it is even harder! :)

        1. 1

          Thanks for grabbing a copy. There are a lot of really neat frameworks out there, and I tried to pull as many as I could into the book.

  20. 2

    Hi Arvid, thanks for sharing all your knowledge. I loved your book and listen to your weekly podcast.
    Your English speaking skills are very good and fluent for a non-native speaker. Did you put extra effort in learning this?

    1. 3

      Thank you!

      I played a LOT of World of Warcraft in the past. Years of my time at the university were full of me playing that wonderful and addictive game. I forced myself to play with English-speaking players (even though I had the option to play on German-speaking servers), which —combined with a lot of endgame content— led to me hanging out with them on Teamspeak and other voice chats a lot. That definitely helped building up the confidence to speak fluently.

      Once you try to coordinate 40 people from 20 different countries, trying to kill a virtual dragon, 3 nights a week, you start speaking English more fluently.

      What also helps is listening to a lot of podcasts and watching English movies without subtitles. While this doesn't directly impact fluency, it does impact vocabulary and conversational parsing.

      So: immerse yourself. That's what I always told myself, and it worked out pretty well for me.

  21. 2

    Thanks for doing this. I was launching few of side projects on producthunt but everything is failed. Bit of background about me I am full stack developer and love coding and brainstorming ideas.

    I am doing freelance now to support me and family.

    Now what is your advice for me in this startup world.

    1. 3

      Find a group of people you really care about and listen to them. They will be the best people to tell you what they need help with. Most of the time, we developers see a problem somewhere, and we immediately jump at building a solution — that's how our minds work, we're product-focused. Wherever we go, we see an app we can build or a script we can write.

      Breaking that habit is hard, but it will be super useful. I would recommend going at this from an audience-centric perspective: who do I want to help?

      Let's look at your four products. Two are blog-related, one is a hiring tool, and the last one an eBook generator. Can you come up with super-precise definitions of who these tools are supposed to serve?

      If not, then you may have thought in too broad of terms. "Blogger" isn't an audience, it's an occupation. "Food bloggers who create a lot of video content", "movie bloggers who are focused on sci-fi movies", or "developers who work on blog templates to sell them" — now THOSE are much more well-defined audiences. Once you have found an audience like this that you really think deserves your help and who you can see yourself serving for many years, observe them within their communities. Find out what problems they actually have. Don't think about your solution just yet. Learn about their problems by listening to their complaints and cries for help.

      Once you have found a problem that is critical, something that is commonly felt and hard to solve with the existing solutions, you're on to something. And here is where I think your Producthunt launches fell short: there are many workable solutions for eBook creation, static blogging, blog comments, or hiring. I'm not saying that any of these tools are bad, of course. I am trying to point out that they aren't specific. "A hiring tool for recruiters who hire Indian software developers for enterprise businesses in the USA" — you would definitely find a lot of companies who do exactly that and feel several pains during the process. They would actually be looking for your solution. And if you are one of the few people who really care about this, then you'd be found — and your product could make money.

      This process is going to be at the core of my upcoming book, so you'll find that in much more detail there. For now, try figuring out who you intended to serve with your 4 cool tools there, and how you might make that a more granular, more niche-focused definition.

  22. 2

    Hello Arvid! First time I'm participating in a AMA and I think it was in the right time!

    Right now I need to validate the problem I'm trying to solve and the product idea as well but I don't know how to proceed.

    How could I do that? Directly DM some potential users with some problem validation questions? Also already try to show the idea I've come up with and validate?
    At last, when is it the right time to "announce" this product idea to build an audience before launch?

    Is there any guideline or resources for me to study from(your book is on my wishlist haha)?

    I have a small number of followers so I think DM could work for validation but I guess I need to grow my audience before launch. Sorry for many questions, thanks in advance for the help :)

    1. 3

      Yeah, you definitely need to either talk or listen to people. If you know who is most likely impacted by the problem you're looking forward to solving, go into their communities and start observing. Do they talk about the problem? Do they suggest solutions to each other? Are there recommendations for tools that might help with it?

      It is in those conversations that you can start engaging with your prospects, and ask them about how they deal with it right now, and what they'd be looking forward to in a product. Building relationships with your future customers starts there, right where they already are.

      I write a lot about this process in my upcoming book, so if you can wait a few more weeks, you'll get all of this in detail.

      The point is to become someone reputable in your prospects existing communities, engaging with them in ways that are helpful for them and insightful for you, and validating the criticality of the problem you're looking at. One big aspect here is that you have to be ready to pivot to a different problem if it turns out that your current problem isn't critical enough for people to warrant a budget for it.

      I think cold DMs are okay, but you need to be extra careful not to come across as a predatory opportunist. If you are a name that they have already heard and seen interacting with their community, it will be a much easier conversation. Also, try to find out as much as possible about them and how they cope with their problem now. These conversations aren't sales calls. People are very sensitive to that. If they notice that you actually care about helping them, they'll be much more open to working with you on a solution (as beta testers and brainstorming companions), and maybe eventually purchase it from you.

      It all starts with joining more communities and actively observing ongoing conversations.

      1. 1

        Thank you so much for the detailed answer, Arvid! I've already learned a lot from this and I'm thinking of ways to put these advices in practice.

  23. 2

    Hi Arvid,

    thanks for the AMA. I have two questions:

    1. What business would you start at the moment as a indie maker with no big audience.
    2. I see many indie projects are lacking revenue. What do you recommend for starting a business which will break even in the first months.

    Thanks

    1. 4
      1. I would not pick the business first, but start with picking a (future) audience that I want to serve. This whole process is the first part of The Embedded Entrepreneur because it's so central to finding a validated problem, then coming up with a good solution, and THEN building a product and a business around it. If I didn't have an audience right now, I'd try to find communities that contain people that I want to serve and empower. Maybe I'd go for a particular kind of software engineers, or non-fiction authors. I'd join their Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter communities, figure out where else they hang out, join there too, and then I'd listen for what they talk about. Common complaints, asking for help, all those little traces that critical problems leave in a community. I'd then identify those problems, pick one, and start building a solution to that particular problem. That's the audience-driven approach to finding the purpose of your business.

      2. Solve a validated problem that is experienced by a validated audience. If you go "idea-first", you might find that no one wants to pay for your product because it's not helpful enough. If you go "audience-first", you'll have validated all those things before you ever wrote the first line of code: you know that there are real people out there, you know that you're solving a real problem, and you have done the research into existing budgets and how big that market opportunity is. If you have all these things (somewhat) validated, your chances of actually making money increase significantly.

  24. 2

    Hi Arvid,

    We are just about to invite our first users to our MVP. We have 50 people on our wait list who are all keen to use the product. We want to get initial feedback from a small group of users, address any critical feedback they might have, then launch our product on a paid plan.

    How does this approach sound? Do you have any advice on onboarding your first customers when the product likely has bugs, missing features and still a bit raw around the edges?

    1. 3

      As long as your customers know that they are joining a work-in-progress product, this is a great approach. Make it easy for them to report things that don't work. Have some sort of chat system, and maybe provide them with a few notes on how to best take a screenshot or maybe even do a screen recording with Loom.

      Be upfront about what you're working on, where that will go, and how it might impact their experience.

      There are a lot of people out there who love to be early adopters. They won't mind. Just make sure that communication channels are as open as possible, and reach out to them when you see (in your logs, your metrics or by using tools like Hotjar) that they're confused.

      If you quickly respond to bug reports and fix it right there and then, you will very likely find product evangelists for life. We had a few of those at FeedbackPanda, and they couldn't stop talking about our product on social media — all because I had fixed a bug they reported within 30min after they reached out. Blew their mind.

  25. 2

    Thanks for doing this @arvidkahl!

    Given the popularity of online courses (especially cohort-based courses) these days, I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about your decision to write books rather than courses and how you think about choosing the best medium for your message and audience?

    thanks!
    —Nick

    1. 2

      I wrote books because that's something that I found the easiest to do. As a non-native English speaker, I am not the most confident video person —although that might change— so I tried a more asynchronous medium, and writing was perfect for that.

      I also wanted to pack as much as possible into my first product. I had years of SaaS founder experience, and I wanted to write a manual (or at least a guide) that others could easily follow and consume one insight at a time. Had I done Zero to Sold as a course, it would maybe have been a 12+-hour video. The audiobook alone is already 11h long!

      I know that founders don't mind reading. They understand that some things need time to work, and they're willing to invest a few hours into a good book that can later serve as a reference as well. I knew that my audience would appreciate that.

      Now, with The Embedded Entrepreneur, I went with a book because I wanted to zoom in on one particular part of Zero to Sold. It's a continuation of the Audience and Problem chapters, with more focus on practical actions.

      But in a way, it lends itself to a course format much more because of that. Who knows, maybe that will be my next thing :) The Twitter Audience-Building crowd definitely seems to be more course-focused. I decided to start with a book, but on this one, there MIGHT(!) be a course version eventually.

  26. 2

    What was the multiplier on your 55kMRR SaaS?

    1. 1

      Can't talk about that.

      But it was within the limits of what a SaaS of that size usually sells for. Every business is unique, hence the wide divergence between multipliers. We were very happy with our multiple.

  27. 2

    How do you convince pros in an industry that you have an idea that might help them make more money?

    1. 1

      By actually making them more money.

      The concierge approach (as outlined in Paul Graham's essay often works wonders to convince skeptics. You don't need to build the whole things from the start. Sometimes, doing a few things by hand can be a great experience for you and the customer: they get what they want, and you learn how to do this more efficiently.

      A great example of this is Endcrawl: @pliny just had a Google Sheet that he sent over to movie makers for their credits. They'd fill it in, he'd quickly render the credits video and send it over. Super hands-on, but mind-blowingly better than what his customers had before.

      1. 3

        Hey Arvid--nicely summarized. This idea was straight for Eric Reid's Lean Startup, where he described a food/grocery startup with a similar concierge approach.

        The rendering at this stage was automated, but it was literally Perl scripts (!) running locally on my laptop. Later on @acg threw all that out and built us a proper render engine.

        1. 1

          Yeah, those perl scripts stood out to me when you told that story.

          Also, I noticed that Nomad Land's credits ran on Endcrawl. Congratulations, you're an Oscar winner 🥳

          1. 2

            Thanks! That’s our 3rd Best Pic winning customer of the last 5 years (Moonlight was our first).

            5 of 8 best pic noms were our customers this year, too.

            1. 1

              That's a pretty solid run. You've built a wonderful thing. Product is great, business is inspirational, and you're a fantastic person as well. Consider me a fan :)

  28. 2

    Hey Arvid,

    thanks for doing this AMA and the impact you already had on me as an indie hacker 🙌 Both your podcast & ebook have been a huge influence on my own journey.

    What's your opinion on splitting time between building & selling your SaaS. I enjoy the building part much more than trying to sell others on it. While I'm talking a lot to users & existing customers, I feel like I should invest more time in converting users to customers.

    I'm interested in your take on this. How much time do you spend selling? Or do you have tips?

    1. 2

      Hey Felix!

      Coming from an engineering background, I personally always tended to build more than sell. Building is comfortable and there is very little potential of rejection.

      I'd love to say I'm splitting my time 50/50 with PermanentLink, but I am not. I am spending way too little time selling, compared to the development efforts. Gotta be honest here, I could do much more.

      I forced myself to reach out to all my non-converted trials a while ago, and it was an interesting experience. The fear of talking to people was pretty high, as they had already rejected the product. But when I got back the replies, they were all very helpful and honest in communicating their needs. The story I was telling myself in my mind was much worse than reality.

      When it comes to selling, I believe in the community approach. Become someone who people trust in their community, and have something to offer that they find useful and necessary. That way, marketing and sales activities are more conversational and relational.

      If you're having trouble spending more time doing sales, how about time-blocking an hour every day exclusively for sales activities. You're not allowed to code, all you're allowed to do is do things that improve some part of your funnel. That's how I finally got over my hesitation and reached out to all those trials: I set a date and time, and then I just executed on that.

      1. 2

        Thanks! That's already super helpful. And reassuring that even you still dread talking to people sometimes 😅 I'm following your advice on communities, it takes time but you're absolutely right - it makes it much more personal.

        Time-blocking is something I'm starting right now. Otherwise, I'll always fall back to coding. I thought about longer sprints before but maybe you're right about shorter blocks until I start to get a bit more comfortable with it.

        Reaching out to expired trials and dropped-out users is a great idea! It's not as scary as cold outreach and sounds very promising from your description.

        Big thank you, Arvid 🙌

        1. 2

          Absolutely! Glad to see that you're making the effort to resist the temptations of coding :D

  29. 2

    Respected Arvid sir,

    I'm Rahul. I don't have any questions to ask🤦if I have will text you on Twitter 😂.

    Anyway, for how much did you sold Feedback Panda?? And why ?

    1. 2

      I'm not able to talk about the specific sum, but it was a life-changing amount of money. Definitely enough to stop caring about how to pay the next rent payment.

      What I can talk about is why we sold. I personally wanted to reduce my anxiety levels — being the sole technical founder in a two-person business is stressful because there is no one else to deal with tech problems. So I was under a lot of stress, and it wasn't completely fun anymore.

      In addition to that, both Danielle and I noticed that all our wealth was locked up in this single asset: the business. We were doing around $50k MRR at this point, so we knew it was a multi-million dollar business. But if one of us would have had an accident / burnout / completely lost interest, the business would crumble. So we looked into diversifying our wealth. Selling the company was a way to do that.

      We never planned on selling the business, but we had built a sellable business. I learned that from a lot of good books and podcasts: a well-run business is sellable, and a highly automated and well-documented business is a well-run business. That made people interested, and when we got an offer we just couldn't refuse, we sold.

      1. 2

        Could you elaborate further on the documentation part.. how would the buyer know this? They wouldn’t find out until an offer has been made, etc, right? Just asking cause I do a horrible job with documentation so I’m trying to get a handle on how important it is. Thanks

        1. 1

          Oh, the (aspiring) buyer will do a lot of due diligence before the offer is made. There are several exchanges of information that happen during such a deal. I actually wrote a lot about this in Zero to Sold, in the last part of the book.

          Your acquirer will want to know that the business they're buying is well-documented. This will be part of the due diligence, and likely also the actual sales agreement. It is VITAL to have this figured out early in the journey.

          I recommend reading The E-Myth and Built to Sell (both of which I reviewed on my blog). Those books will hammer home the point of what to document, why, and how.

          If you build your business to run like a franchise, where you could replace yourself as the CEO and just remain the owner of the business, then you have a sellable business.

          Automation and documentation are core components of such a business. Consider this: you don't document for yourself, you document for your future acquirer, for your first hires, AND for yourself when you're under pressure. Documentation makes processes easier, safer, and faster. They are non-monetary investments into the stability of your business.

          1. 1

            Awesome, very helpful. Thank you!

  30. 1

    What was your SaaS about?
    How did you build it? Code or No-code?
    How and from where you learnt code/no-code ?
    English is also my second language, how can I speak it fluently?

    1. 1

      FeedbackPanda was an EdTech productivity SaaS: we helped Online English teachers be more efficient. It was built as a code-based project, on an Elixir/Phoenix/Vue.js stack. I've been a developer since 2001 or so. Always liked to code, mostly self-taught.

      I've also been a fan of consuming English content and forcing myself to speak English through immersion. Search the comments here for "warcraft" and you'll find my English fluency strategy.

  31. 2

    This comment was deleted 5 months ago.

    1. 1

      Magic: The Gathering taught me the first half of my vocabulary, World of Warcraft the second. I was playing MtG just around the time the Homelands expansion came out, and I started out playing with the German cards. That quickly became boring (mostly because trading English cards was so much more financially interesting), so I switched to English cards, and engulfed myself in a world of — to a 15-year-old German — complicated vocabulary.

      I think you're onto something here. Fantasy, be it books, card games, or MMORPGs, is always an immersive activity. You HAVE to become deeply immersed in that world for it to make sense. Understanding the vocab is a prerequisite, and if you're eager to learn more about the world, learning the vocabulary becomes a natural consequence.

      Where engaging with fantasy is the internal perspective, living in a metropolis is the external one. It's not just that English is required because so many different nationalities engage with each other all the time. There is also the fact that the CONTENT of your conversations is vastly different (from a small-town community) due to the extreme diversity of the people involved. Not unlike fantasy content, which more often than not involves huge and diverse worlds filled with different people.

      I think we can bundle this advice for people who want to be more fluent in English: diversified immersion, both intellectually and interactively, is the key.

      --Liebe Grüße aus Friedrichshain ;)

      1. 1

        This comment was deleted 5 months ago.

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