AMAs March 7, 2020

I'm Corey Haines. I head up growth for Baremetrics, created a profitable job board with no-code tools, & launched 2 online courses. AMA!

Corey Haines @coreyhaines

What's up fellow Indie Hackers! I'm Corey. I remember scouring IH a few years ago when I first discovered the world of online business. Crazy!

By day I'm the Head of Growth at Baremetrics. By night I'm the creator of a bunch of other things. Don't know if I would really call myself an "entrepreneur" but I have an itch to start and launch things.

Basically everything I do somehow involves marketing and growth, which is what I'm most passionate about, so let me tell you a bit more about the things I've done that we can use as starting points:

  • Worked with hundreds of our customers at Baremetrics to audit metrics and uncover growth opportunities
  • Up until last month when we hired our Content Marketer (s'up Dom!) I essentially handled all our marketing, sales, and growth-related projects
  • I built a job board just for marketers (heymarketers.com) with no-code tools in just three weeks that now makes me a few hundred bucks a month in profit
  • I launched my first online course (mentalmodelsformarketing.com) in 30 days and pre-sold over $3,000 before I had written a single word of the content
  • Launched my second online course (refactoringgrowth.com) 60 days later and have now grossed over $20,000 in sales (from both courses) from just a small email list

I'll be here all day Friday, March 20th to answer questions.

Ask Me Anything! I'm an open book :)

  1. 8

    Yo, @coreyhaines!

    I can see from Baremetrics' public data that you helped the company grow ~20% last year.

    Not too shabby :)

    Would love to hear a story about something "small" you did in 2019 that had a disproportionally large, positive impact on MRR growth.

    I'm pretty obsessed with the Pareto principle, i.e. 20% of the input creates 80% of the result.

    I know most significant growth is the result of hard, smart work across multiple areas, but most folks have things they did that they didn't think would move the needle that ended up blowing them away. I like to hear about them so hopefully others of us can take those ideas with a grain of salt and think about what small things we can do that will help us hockey stick it.

    Thanks for doing this, bud. And congrats on the success so far with refactoringgrowth.com :)

    1. 2

      Hey Joe!

      Not sure if this exactly categorizes as "small" but I did an upsell campaign of sorts early on when I started and had the opportunity to get on a lot of video calls with folks.

      That led to a ton of feedback about what people liked most, what was missing, areas of improvement, and for some, ultimately, why they wouldn't adopt add-on tools like Recover and Cancellation Insights.

      I packaged up all the feedback, saw the patterns, distilled it into something the team could understand and get onboard for, and then made a case for making some improvements and additions to those add-on products.

      For Cancellation Insights, it was around making it easier to get started without having to touch any code. For Recover, it was around providing more analytics, customization, and allowing customers to easily install a piece of code on their own pages to collect credit card info.

      While it definitely didn't account for 80% of the revenue growth for the year, those updates and subsequent relaunches definitely accounted for 25% of it.

  2. 6

    Hey Corey

    I'd like to know about what it's like starting as Head of Marketing at Baremetrics look like?

    What do the first 30 days look like? What's priority one? How long til you start making changes? Are you testing new Demand Gen strategies straight away? Are you re-writing copy? Do you have a clear week-by-week strategy? What is your proudest marketing moment at Baremetrics?

    Lots there, so just pick out whatever interests you most.

    And congrats on 20k (and counting) from Refactoring Growth :)

    1. 4

      Hey, @harrydry!

      Honestly, don't mean to be too self-promotional here. BUT I had Corey on our podcast and he had a great answer to what's priority one that had a big impact on me so I thought I'd share.

      I'll let @coreyhaines answer himself here too haha but his answer when we were chatting was the first thing any new marketer should do is deeply learn their product and about the customers who use it. He thought you really can't market something until you know it extremely well as well as where people are having success (or seeing pain-points).

      Loved this answer, as most new marketers jump into data, analytics or just moving forward on new marketing strategies (we're not doing Google ads? Let's set some money on fire!) before they know what they're selling. Very smart, IMO :)

      1. 2

        In that case to your last paragraph I'd argue people skip the strategy and use tactics instead. In my enterprise business experience i see the same where tactics are often considered as the strategy.

        1. 1

          (IMO) Strategy is the context and insight that directs which tactics you use. Strategy answers the "why" and then tactics answer the "what."

          Like Joe said, you're basically setting money on fire jumping straight into something new without knowing why you're doing it, other than "we haven't done it before"

      2. 1

        Awesome - will give it a listen :)

    2. 3

      Yo Harry!

      I did a workshop for Forget The Funnel all about this here (https://forgetthefunnel.com/your-first-90-days-as-a-marketer-in-saas/) but to give you the TLDR and add some more thoughts to it...

      My first 30 days and priority was spent doing customer and product research. I spent it all doing support, creating personalized demo videos for trialing users, going through our knowledge base, and getting on the phone with customers.

      I had a pretty systematic way of collecting a lot of feedback from customers and made it a point to write down what I was thinking along the way. Questions, random thoughts, ideas, etc, I just got it all down in a Notion doc to deal with later.

      TBH I don't know how much you can or even should truly get done in your first 30 days. Making changes, testing channels, adding tactics, etc is all premature without the context of your customer, product, and also what's been done before.

      Why waste time repeating the same mistakes others have made in the past? Or relearning what others have already learned?

      So the TLDR was that my first 30 days were far from glamorous and mostly me trying to get myself up to speed as quickly as possible.

      I'd say my proudest moment at Baremetrics has been relaunching our add-on product Recover. I was really cool going through the process of trying to upsell it, to collecting feedback, making a case for product improvements, and then relaunching and seeing the monetary result. :)

      1. 2

        Yes! The way you explain it, it makes complete sense:

        all premature without the context of your customer.

        Thanks for a really detailed answer. Appreciated. And will check out that workshop.

  3. 4

    How did you grow your email list, how big is it and what type of content were you sending them?

    How did you convert subscribers into paying customers, what percentage of them bought your courses and how did you come up with the right price?

    1. 2

      Hey! Thanks for asking.

      As a marketer, I'm almost embarrassed to say this but there's literally nothing sophisticated about any of my strategies thus far.

      My email list has grown entirely from Twitter, which is really the only social network I use. It's honestly just been me posting about what I'm working on, pasting links, talking about progress, and commenting on relative threads when appropriate. You can see my twitter feed for all the examples.

      My entire list right now is about 1,200, but it's a combined list of several different projects and sites, each being a couple hundred and the largest being about 450. So it's not a big email list by any means, which worried me in the beginning when I was launching some of the projects, but what it's lacked in pure size has been made up for in quality.

      My average conversion rate from the email list is ~10%, so with a list of 400 for example, I'd generate about 40 sales.

      Interestingly, I've made almost the same exact amount from each course despite the fact that one sells for $199 and the other sells for $499. It's a classic example of the demand/supply curve in economics. Higher price = relatively lower sales and lower price = relatively higher sales.

      The email list for each course was ~300 when I launched, so Mental Models For Marketing generated about 60 sales and Refactoring Growth generated about 20 sales. So you can do the math and see that they're essentially equal amounts of revenue.

      I came up with the price for each based on:

      • What I initially thought was a fair price in my own eyes ($99 for MMFM and $250 for RG)
      • Then doubled it, because #chargemore (we also discount our own work)
      • And then considered the minimum I'd be comfortable selling each for at a 50% discount, which, in this case was the original price I had thought of.
  4. 3

    Hey!

    How did you "kick-start" your job board? Building it is always the easy part, but in order to attract offers, you need to get some traffic first? How did you get it?

    1. 1

      Yo!

      I kick-started it by doing all the work manually. I imported 100 job posts I scraped from the web and just copy-pasted. Announced on Twitter. And then launched on Product Hunt.

      Marketplaces are HARD and I don't really encourage it to anyone who can't easily get recurring, sustainable traffic somehow (SEO, Pinterest, ads, etc).

      I wrote more about it here (https://entrepreneurshandbook.co/how-i-launched-a-profitable-job-board-for-marketers-with-no-code-tools-in-3-weeks-bac437cf7920) but here's a section I wrote about it:

      Chicken or egg?
      As I mentioned before, a job board has the classic “chicken or egg” conundrum since traffic and job postings are interdependent. No job postings = no traffic. No traffic = no job postings.
      But it actually isn’t so black and white.
      Every marketplace model always starts with the supply side, whether it’s filled artificially or for real. For Uber, it was drivers. For TopTal, it was developers. For Hey Marketers, it’s job postings.
      So I began backfilling the site with open jobs from the last 3 weeks. Many employers only have a hiring window of 4–6 weeks and I figured that by the time I launched the oldest jobs would be just about to expire. One-by-one, completely manual, I entered over 100+ into the Webflow CMS. It took me a few days, and I don’t think I would’ve survived if I didn’t have Parks & Rec playing while I did it, but it got done.
      And now that the jobs were there, the site was built, and everything was functioning, the clock was now ticking.
      Every day that I don’t launch is another day that the jobs get older and less interesting. Every day that I don’t launch is also another day I wait to actually make money from this project.
      This pressure is good because it forced me to launch earlier than I expected.

  5. 3

    Hey Corey 👋🏼

    It's cool to see the things you've accomplished after we met up at San Diego's first IH meetup. I'm currently pulling together an online tutorial and I'm struggling with just getting the content done and put out there. Yet, I've got at least 50 people on my waiting list (and this is with zero marketing). Any tips on how to speed up creating content for the tutorial, given your experience with releasing two online courses?

    1. 2

      Hey Caitlin! Glad to see you around these parts.

      A couple of external factors that will help motivate you to ship the content, based on my experience:

      • Make it a point to regularly email your list (1-2x/week). This way, if you have nothing to update people on, it motivates you to do something that you can update people on. There were definitely a few times where I was cramming in new stuff and trying to make progress late Thursday night because I was updating my list Fridays.
      • Do a pre-sale. I pre-sold both my courses two weeks before launch, and both were super timely because it was right in the middle of feeling the slog of content production. The pre-sale, and seeing the money roll in, was super motivating to keep going and gave me a second wind. If you're feeling at your lowest, just run a pre-sale (btw, you can do multiple pre-sales if you want to) and then watch as you magically feel motivated to start shipping again!
      • Set a public deadline. After sitting on the idea for a few months, I decided to just tweet a public deadline (https://twitter.com/coreyhainesco/status/1191402099981946881?s=20) and announce what I was working on. I also pledged to give people money if I didn't meet the deadline lol

      A couple of factors that helped with the content production system... it depends on how you're doing things but this is my experience:

      • My order of operations was (1) write everything in Notion, each page being an individual lesson (2) chop up and distribute into Google Slides (3) design the Google Slides and then (4) record using Wistia's Soapbox and presenter mode in Google Slides.
      • Forget video/audio editing (at least in the beginning). I started editing the first video to get rid ums and ahs and then after a few hours realized that there was no way I would ship it in time to meet the public deadline I had made.
      • Remember that good is always better than perfect. Content production always tempts you to want everything to be just as you imagined and to look and sound and feel exactly right. But it's never perfect. And it'll never feel exactly right. So focus on getting it out into the world and you'll thank yourself later!
  6. 3

    How much do you think your median customer earns as a result of buying your courses?

    How much does each course cost now?

    I remember almost buying your first one but the price increased after I clicked on it, so I closed the tab. At the time I had no idea who you were and hadn't spoken to anyone who had taken your courses.

    1. 2

      Yo!

      I have no idea TBH — it's impossible to tell. Not enough time has passed. I'm working on collecting testimonials now, but I anticipate that I won't hear about financial results until many months, or even years later, because that's how long it takes to grow SaaS companies. Stuff just doesn't happen overnight unfortunately.

      MentalModelsForMarketing.com currently goes for $199 and RefactoringGrowth.com currently goes for $499

      Pricing courses is tough because it's an investment on both sides. Each course took 100+ hours to produce, so if I were charging myself for producing it, it'd easily be in the tens of thousands. Putting a sticker price of a couple hundred dollars then feels like a rip off when I launch. But then seeing all the sales, and over time, the accumulation of sales, makes it an investment.

      Same with the buyer of the courses. $199 or $499 seems steep at first, but then when you're months/years down the road and still applying the same principles and information gathered from the courses to get raises, promotions, reach new revenue milestones, or go full-time on your business, it feels like you got a steal.

  7. 3

    What was your process for getting the pre-sales for your courses? What strategies worked? What didn't?

    1. 1

      Hey Rosie!

      My pre-sale strategy was pretty simple:

      • Build an email list of people interested in the course
      • Send a survey/email people about what they wanted out of it and why they were interested in it
      • Send a few emails about progress/updates on production
      • Send an email a week before the pre-sale announcing the pre-sale and priming the readers for what to expect
      • Run the pre-sale for 3 days, with one email announcing the pre-sale, one email the next day about why I was building the course, one the final day that was FAQ style, and then one at the deadline reminding them once more that this was the final chance to get the pre-sale price.

      The tools I used were:

      • Carrd/Webflow for the sites and hosting
      • Convertkit for the email list
      • Podia for the course software

      When running the pre-sale, I published the course as live in Podia with the lessons all set as draft and then created a mega-simple landing page also with Podia (because you have to send people somewhere to buy) and then created a coupon for 50% off that was included in the email. This way, when someone clicked the link, the coupon was applied and they could check-out seamlessly.

      Strategies that worked:

      • Sending emails before the pre-sale and priming the audience about who I was and what to expect
      • Setting a deadline and short window of time to create urgency
      • Giving a coupon for 50% off. I literally told the list "THIS IS LITERALLY THE LOWEST THE COURSE WILL EVER SELL FOR. I WILL NEVER DISCOUNT IT MORE THAN IT IS RIGHT NOW." and while I couldn't tell you how that came across to the list, it certainly seemed to have had some effect to the high conversion rate of 10%

      I didn't try much else so I couldn't comment too much on what didn't work, but I will warn against making it too complicated with different offers or upsells or CTAs. Have a singular CTA with a single product. I think for a pre-sale, it's uber important to be focused and not overwhelm people with choices.

  8. 3

    Congrats on your product launches and early success.

    For your job board, how are you pulling in the company logos, and maintaining the RTF of the postings? Or is this all done manually?

    For feedback, I would say the "Apply Now" button is misleading as it's either taking you to the listing on another page, or it's a link to an email address which does the super annoying open email client spiel.

    1. 2

      Hey Blake!

      I do most things manually for HeyMarketers.com. Or maybe we could classify it as semi-manual? You can read about the entire process here as nothing much has changed (https://entrepreneurshandbook.co/how-i-launched-a-profitable-job-board-for-marketers-with-no-code-tools-in-3-weeks-bac437cf7920)

      ... but the short version here is that Typeform gathers most of the information about the job posting (title, description, company, location, logo, etc) but then I do a bit of formatting and cleaning up in Webflow once it's in the CMS.

      I don't manage the status of the job posting either, if it's filled or not, unless the poster reaches out and tells me that it's been filled. Otherwise I just delete after ~90 days.

      And thanks for the feedback. I'm leaning towards changing the button to something more generic like "Learn More". My only reservation is that I'm trying to get the job posters as many clicks as possible and so "Apply Now" seems to get the highest intent. Appreciate the thoughts.

      1. 1

        Ah, so you have the employers already filling in the ads, that's awesome. In my case I figured I would be doing a few months of entering all the posting details that I scraped, and wouldn't have any employers on-board right away. I did one half-day of data entry and was exhausted haha.

        You may get the clicks that the employers want, but the UX for the candidates is off the mark in that regard.

        1. 1

          I actually did manually enter 100+ in the beginning to backfill so I could launch.

          And I mean, apply now isn’t technically wrong? The instructions to apply are sometimes to email, in which case an email is started.

          1. 1

            I would argue that it is technically wrong. One case is a redirect to the source page of the job posting where you then have to click "Apply Now" again, and the other opens up the computer's default email client, such as desktop Microsoft Outlook, which practically no one uses at home anymore - then I have to copy the email address so that I can enter it Gmail. So in both cases, "Apply Now" doesn't give the expected result.

            You might want to survey some users about that, I'm a nitpicker.

  9. 2

    Hi @coreyhaines
    How do you get traffic (people looking for jobs) to your job board?
    What is the volume if you don't mind sharing?

    1. 1

      Good question! Right now I get ~1,500/mo, mostly from google. I target some broad keywords like "marketing jobs" as well as some more niche ones like "product marketing manager". Most traffic goes to the homepage, but a marginal amount goes to job description templates I created.

      In early days, I did quite a bit of guest blogging, which really helped to build links and drive referral traffic.

  10. 2

    Hey Corey,
    How profitable is HeyMarketers.com and how do you feed it with jobs?

    1. 2

      Hey Toby!

      The ongoing costs are about $150. $100 for my VA, who does a lot of manual outreach to companies hiring marketers (which is how I source a lot of jobs) and then $50 for software/tools.

      I'm hoping 🤞 to be able to drive more organic job postings through SEO from a few different pages I created. But most of the jobs are sourced from myself reaching out to companies I see hiring or my VA doing that.

      Some months it makes $100-$200, and then some months it makes $500-$1000. I'm learning that there's a lot of seasonality involved and also some luck too for when more postings come in.

      1. 1

        Super helpful! I'm in the process of rebooting some job boards I have. I've already got JobsinFlutterr, but re-building JobsinXR and then launching JobsinAI, so always curious about the acquisition of jobs.

  11. 2

    Yo @coreyhaines! You’ve been consistently shipping great projects here and there, it’s awesome! How do you deal with the context switching? What’s your day-to-day looks like? Have you ever had to deal with burnout?

    1. 1

      Hey Jovian!

      Context switching is definitely tough. Obviously compartmentalizing different projects for different times and days. 9-5 M-F = job. 5-9 M, T, F, weekends = side projects.

      More recently I’ve been trying to batch similar tasks. A bunch of writing across projects. New designs across projects. Email automations across projects. Etc

      After launching Refactoring Growth, I definitely felt pretty burnt out. I kinda stopped cold turkey on working on side projects for a month and have been spending more time reading and playing video games. Now ramping up a bit more but trying to be more intentional and ruthless about what actually needs to get done.

  12. 2

    Very topical right now - would be interested to hear how corona virus is impacting your work/projects and what you are doing to make sure growth continues? I guess a lot of people are probably going to start using it as a way to push committing to new spend down the line with uncertainty around their own businesses future.. Thank you!

    1. 1

      For Baremetrics, it's been pretty business as usual despite the madness around the globe.

      While I wouldn't say that Baremetrics is "antifragile" in situations like COVID-19, we're certainly not vulnerable to it. To some degree, it probably has something to due with the fact that we're a B2B SaaS and not a B2C. Business apps provide more utility and ongoing value than a consumer app (usually). And the fact that the majority of our customer base is other SaaS. If our customer base were restaurants, for example, we'd certainly struggle, but that's not the case.

      On the personal side of things, I've definitely seen things slow down with Hey Marketers, Mental Models For Marketing, and Refactoring Growth. Hiring slows down and people hold onto their money.

      It's basically been ~0 since the outbreak happened, which is tough, but definitely makes me think about what I can do about it in the future and ways to sell regardless. Unfortunately I don't have the answers! It's pretty unprecedented. Now I plan on reading the book Antifragile 😅

  13. 2

    Would you be willing to talk with anybody 1-on-1 to help them get unstuck? I've sought a lot of advice and I feel like I've got a hard problem that nobody really knows how to navigate.

    Do you feel that your experience can be applied to any field, or is this limited to consumer-facing type projects?

    I posted a description of my situation earlier today:
    https://www.indiehackers.com/post/struggling-to-get-off-the-ground-a56be44125

    1. 2

      Hey Rob! Definitely — although I couldn't speak from personal experience about bootstrapping a SaaS. You can find my email in my IH profile.

      I'll say that from what I can gather, it seems like this is much more of a problem issue than a product issue.

      This was strongly encouraging. But there's still a disconnect between what people say, what they perceive, and what they do. Just because a product is good, doesn't mean it will sell.

      I'd encourage you to focus on the problem you're trying to solve instead of the solution you're trying to build.

      The Mom Test has been hugely valuable for me in understanding this. Rob did an AMA a while back (https://www.indiehackers.com/post/im-rob-fitzpatrick-i-wrote-the-mom-test-book-went-through-yc-s07-learned-how-to-do-sales-as-a-techie-and-live-off-full-passive-income-ama-4989966b85) and even a podcast interview with IH (https://www.indiehackers.com/podcast/154-rob-fitzpatrick-of-the-mom-test)

      If you're facing a lot of adversity to people paying for the product, I think you have to be okay with (1) building a different product that solves the same product or (2) walking away from it completely.

      @mijustin talks about when to move on (https://justinjackson.ca/moving-on) as well as what it's like to feel and ride demand (https://justinjackson.ca/surfing)

  14. 2

    Hey @coreyhaines, thanks for doing this!

    I see you have a pretty large social media following and not sure if that fed into your funnel, but how would you get people to visit your landing pages if you didn't have such an extensive audience to start with?

    1. 1

      Yo! My Twitter following definitely contributed to building my email list and driving traffic to landing pages.

      If I didn't have that, I'd...

      • Start building an audience of the people I want to serve and create for immediately
      • See if there are opportunities to drive recurring traffic to the pages through SEO (identifying relevant keywords and then creating pages/content that satisfy the searchers intent for those keywords so google ranks them high in the search results)
      • Drive cheap traffic to it through Facebook or Twitter. $100 could go a pretty long way in seeing if people are interested.
      • Build relationships with people who have large(r) audiences and then kindly and appropriately ask them to share or spread the word somehow. This could be as simple as a retweet or as sophisticated as a subtle mention in a newsletter.
  15. 2

    hey Corey! I'd love to know what were the first things you did when you arrived at Baremetrics. In particular, I'd love to know if you prepared a 1 month/3 months/6 months plan (or similar) and what it included. Cheers!

    1. 1

      Manuel!

      I did a workshop for Forget The Funnel all about this here (https://forgetthefunnel.com/your-first-90-days-as-a-marketer-in-saas/) but I'll add some more thoughts here since it's a long video.

      My first 30 days and priority was spent doing customer and product research. I spent it all doing support, creating personalized demo videos for trialing users, going through our knowledge base, and getting on the phone with customers.

      30-60 days were spent distilling all the information, insights, and feedback into something that made sense.

      60-90 days were spent drafting a plan and figuring out how to turn the newfound information and ideas into something actionable.

      What's been particularly challenging is prioritizing. I think I've foolishly spread myself too thin and maybe half-assed some things instead whole-assing one or two things. It was a bit frantic in my first 6 months just figuring out how to move the needle and trying a bunch of stuff. Webinars, upsells, email outreach, content marketing, etc.

      This is the system I really like now that I think translates nicely to others. After doing the work of customer and product research and then distilling it into some insights and ideas, you can spend your time:

      • Gathering: Get every idea recorded somewhere. Look at what competitors do. What companies in other industries do. Brainstorm. Go crazy. Just make a gigantic list of every idea imaginable.
      • Ranking: Start assigning some parameters and values to these ideas. I like ICE: Impact, Confidence, Effort. I think it pretty nicely sums up marketing. Giving each idea a value between 1-5 for each parameter (ICE) will allow you to sort the ideas highest to lowest.
      • Outlining: Before you get to work, make an outline of your first 10 ideas so you truly know and can communicate what it is you'll be working on. This also allows you to change or verify the values you gave it earlier with ICE. We answer the questions "WHY" and "WHAT" at Baremetrics and I really like it.
      • Working: Start testing, experimenting, moving top down from the best and most interesting ideas to the "lesser" ideas. Make sure you know how much to put in each idea and give each one a fair shot with 100% of your focus.
      • Studying: Learn what worked, what didn't work, and what you'd do differently. Eventually, it turns into a Stop/Start/Continue exercise of trimming out underperforming ideas, starting new ideas, and reinvesting into high performing ideas.

      You'll end up with a running list of what works, what didn't work, and what you'll try in the future :)

      1. 1

        I love this, thanks Corey!

  16. 2

    Following along here! I'm interested how you manage to turn pure thoughts in to profit (your courses). How do you stand out in a (course) market that is very much saturated. How do you market it?

    1. 2

      Man, I really wish it was as simple as turning pure thought into profit!

      The reality is that it's a lot of learning, work, and then more learning.

      Thankfully, I've been reading books and listening to podcasts and modeling after other "successful" people for several years now so I've ingrained a few best practices as well as learned to avoid a few pitfalls.

      What's magical about courses is that it's just words on the internet. And people will pay good money for those words because those words will help them in a valuable way.

      Definitely a lot of courses out there so you have to think about what you can offer that's unique and that others care about. The good news is that you only have to be one step ahead of the people you teach in order to be able to teach them.

      What do you care about? What do others come to you for advice about? What do you know that others don't? How have you been helping people for free that you can turn into a paid product?

      Those are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself to help sort out where to start with creating a course.

  17. 2

    What would you say is the most important thing an indie hacker can do to improve potential for growth?

    1. 2

      Unfortunately I don't think it's ever one thing.

      Many people see growth as a mysterious concoction of growth hacks, luck, and a big budget.

      But it's not. Not even close.

      Getting customers and growing revenue is very possible without any of the aforementioned above.

      In my time consulting with hundreds of SaaS companies, reading all the blog posts and books, and listening to every podcast I can get my ears on, I've realized that growth mainly consists of five interdependent factors: market, product, model, messaging & positioning, and channels.

      What I mean by interdependent is that each of these factors relies on the other. In other words, you can't be successful with just one or two, you ideally need them all.

      While no business is going to nail all five perfectly, it certainly makes it easier the closer you get.

      • "We just haven't found the right users yet... we need to go up market" —* these are people that rely too heavily on finding the right market.
      • "We haven't found product/market fit... after that we expect hockey-stick growth"* — these are people that rely too much on their product and engineering.
      • "We need to move to a freemium model... then we move people into paid plans and get expansion revenue"* — these are people that rely too heavily on their model.

      ...you get the idea.

      This is actually good news. You don't have to stumble on the secret growth hack that makes your product go viral. You don't have to wait for all those features to be built. You don't have to wait for the budget to invest in advertising channels.

      Here's the TLDR of what I talk about in refactoringgrowth.com:

      • Market: Who exactly is your customer? How many of them are there? What kind of money do they spend on products like yours? How have they tried to solve their problem in the past? What are they trying to achieve?
      • Product: How can you build something they want? How big of a pain is it? How frequently does it occur? What makes your solution unique? What's your competitive advantage?
      • Model: How will you engage, convert, and monetize customers? How will you get them in the door and price it? How do customers want to engage with you?
      • Messaging & Positioning: Why are you the best solution for them? How should people think about your product? What's a story that'll resonate with them?
        Channels: Where can you find and communicate with your customers? What do you start with? How do customers want to be sold to?

      So to improve your potential for growth, nail these five things. I know that's four more than you were expecting 😉🤷‍♂️

      1. 2

        Mm, this is great. As a solo dev/designer I've approached my projects from my experience, front end dev, and focussed on the product. With this approach I think some of those other points have been neglected, for me specifically a more thorough understanding of the target market and appropriate channels. This sometimes feels like a slightly overwhelming amount of work for a solo founder! Thanks for the response 👍

  18. 2

    You should also mention that you're our fearless leader of the San Diego Indie Hackers meetup!! :)

    Since you're indie hacking on the side of your full-time job, how did you work that out with your employer?

    1. 2

      Yo Chris!

      Yes, too many things to mention 😅

      Baremetrics has a friendly policy on side projects. We all have them and encourage them. As long as they're not interfering or competing with Baremetrics, it's all good.

      Fortunately, I didn't have to "work it out" as it was already an existing policy and part of the culture.

    2. 2

      I used to work in California and tons of my colleagues had side hustles and were open about it with everyone in the company.

    3. 1

      In California, employers generally can't stop you as long as your side hustle is on your own time with your own resources.

    4. 1

      Oh, did someone say San Diego? :wave: Where's the link to this meetup?!

      1. 2

        Hi Blake! Here's the link: https://meetingplace.io/indie-hackers-of-sd

        We try to meet up once a month, would love to have you join!

  19. 1

    Where do I get a VA for $150? Is that full time?

    1. 1

      He’s my nephew and he does about 2 hrs of work a week 😁

  20. 1

    Hey @coreyhaines! Picked up some golden nuggets from this thread!

    As an early stage pre-market fit startup (https://cartloop.io) how would you prioritize marketing channels / strategies without spreading too thin?

    We're juggling between content marketing, building a network, cold outreach to ideal users, paid ads (FB, Google). Since we don't have enough data to compare channels we can't confidently pick a main channel.

    1. 2

      Yeah you’ll probably want to explore just 1-2 as your main channels and then experiment periodically with more later. Honestly this is really true for most startups always. You can’t do all the things.

      Sales will undoubtedly have to be part of it at that stage. You want to get feedback, beta testers, and people who can help form the development of the product. And all those things are conducive to sales. Check out salesforfounders.com

      Seeing that it’s an e-commerce app, I’d focus on Shopify ASO and even running ads in there, since they have that now.

      SEO is (IMO) the most ideal channel because it’s free, recurring traffic from people with high search intent. If you can manage to rank highly for a few keywords related to the product, that could be a driver of a lot of signups.

      Any co-marketing you can do with complementary tools will help you get in front of their customer base. Blog posts, webinars, podcast appearances, etc. Not scalable but it’s a targeted audience for sure.

      1. 1

        Spot on, this makes sense! Wasn't sure about pushing sales, but will double down on that for sure. Thanks for your time!

  21. 1

    Awesome things @coreyhaines

    It would be nice if we could connect and chat for 15 minutes about something I am doing on aside. I think you can be of a great help :)

    1. 1

      Find my email in my IH profile or DM me on Twitter :)

  22. 1

    Hi,
    can you tell us how exactly you managed to presell your courses - before writing a single word of content? What would you advise those who don't have a huge list of subscribers?
    Thanks!

    1. 1

      Hey there! I’d say if you don’t have an email list, start building one immediately. Email is where the sale conversions happen.

      Here’s what I said earlier about my pre-sale strategy:

      My pre-sale strategy was pretty simple:
      Build an email list of people interested in the course
      Send a survey/email people about what they wanted out of it and why they were interested in it
      Send a few emails about progress/updates on production
      Send an email a week before the pre-sale announcing the pre-sale and priming the readers for what to expect
      Run the pre-sale for 3 days, with one email announcing the pre-sale, one email the next day about why I was building the course, one the final day that was FAQ style, and then one at the deadline reminding them once more that this was the final chance to get the pre-sale price.
      The tools I used were:
      Carrd/Webflow for the sites and hosting
      Convertkit for the email list
      Podia for the course software
      When running the pre-sale, I published the course as live in Podia with the lessons all set as draft and then created a mega-simple landing page also with Podia (because you have to send people somewhere to buy) and then created a coupon for 50% off that was included in the email. This way, when someone clicked the link, the coupon was applied and they could check-out seamlessly.
      Strategies that worked:
      Sending emails before the pre-sale and priming the audience about who I was and what to expect
      Setting a deadline and short window of time to create urgency
      Giving a coupon for 50% off. I literally told the list "THIS IS LITERALLY THE LOWEST THE COURSE WILL EVER SELL FOR. I WILL NEVER DISCOUNT IT MORE THAN IT IS RIGHT NOW." and while I couldn't tell you how that came across to the list, it certainly seemed to have had some effect to the high conversion rate of 10%

      1. 1

        Thanks for your response!
        But I'm stuck in step 1 "Build an email list of people interested in the course". If I don't have a list, and nobody knows me, how I would find people and make them give me their emails?

        1. 1

          I'd...

          • Start building an audience of the people I want to serve and create for immediately
          • See if there are opportunities to drive recurring traffic to the pages through SEO (identifying relevant keywords and then creating pages/content that satisfy the searchers intent for those keywords so google ranks them high in the search results)
          • Drive cheap traffic to it through Facebook or Twitter. $100 could go a pretty long way in seeing if people are interested.
          • Build relationships with people who have large(r) audiences and then kindly and appropriately ask them to share or spread the word somehow. This could be as simple as a retweet or as sophisticated as a subtle mention in a newsletter.
          • Contribute and participate in online communities.

          Basically, be helpful on the Internet and the audience will follow (literally)

          1. 1

            That makes sense, thanks!

  23. 1

    Big up @coreyhaines and keep up the good job! if given passportlist.co, how will you grow it quick just like the way you did in Barametrics?

    1. 1

      Nothing has been quick about Baremetrics growth, beyond maybe when Josh launched and got to $5,000 in MRR in 3 months.

      It's what we call "The Long Slow SaaS Ramp of Death".

      That said, I have no idea how to grow that site. There's tons of information that's needed to answer that question, but here's a start and how I'd think about it:

      • Market: Who exactly is your customer? How many of them are there? What kind of money do they spend on products like yours? How have they tried to solve their problem in the past? What are they trying to achieve?
      • Product: How can you build something they want? How big of a pain is it? How frequently does it occur? What makes your solution unique? What's your competitive advantage?
      • Model: How will you engage, convert, and monetize customers? How will you get them in the door and price it? How do customers want to engage with you?
      • Messaging & Positioning: Why are you the best solution for them? How should people think about your product? What's a story that'll resonate with them?
      • Channels: Where can you find and communicate with your customers? What do you start with? How do customers want to be sold to?
  24. 1

    yo @coreyhaines,

    how is your quest with the Baremetric's affiliate program going, any progress so far?

      1. 2

        Any tips for an affiliate program for a SaaS?

        We're looking at adding one very soon.

        1. 1

          I can’t speak from personal experience yet, but here’s how I went about it:

          • Know who you’ll recruit as affiliates: For Baremetrics, it makes the most sense for agencies and consultants helping startups grow. Not customers. But you have to specifically target people who’s interests are aligned with you.
          • Create an enticing offer. I (personally) know that I’m much more attracted and incentivized to programs with ongoing payments for the lifetime of the customer. So we chose 20% for life (so long as they’re a customer)
          • Have a plan to recruit and support affiliates. This is a marketing campaign in and of itself. We’ll be reaching out to a large list of agencies and consultants we know, creating guides and information for them, partnering with them for their marketing, and sending a monthly affiliates newsletter.

          I really love the guys at getrewardful.com so if you go with them, tell them I sent you 😉

      2. 1

        really? i have to speed things up at my end hahahahahaha

        i mean we already have it, i am trying to figure out how to scale (hate the word) it

        1. 1

          Marketing to people you want to market your product is not trivial!

  25. 1

    Hi Corey,

    How is content marketing for no-code tools different than content marketing in the developer space?

    1. 1

      I'm not sure I understand your question. Could you rephrase it or elaborate a bit?

  26. 1

    This comment was deleted 7 months ago.

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