AMAs November 20, 2019

I'm Paul Jarvis, co-founder of Fathom Analytics and author of Company of One.

Paul Jarvis @pjrvs

I'm Paul Jarvis, co-founder of Fathom Analytics and author of Company of One.

I make software, teach courses, write books and host podcasts... and have worked for myself for 20+ years.

I'll be here at 10am PST on Thursday 28th of November, AMA!

  1. 8

    Company of One was such a big part of last summer, which was my first time being completely independent and working remotely as a freelancer before starting! Do you have any advice for independent entrepreneurs who may be young (and def naive) and have limited resources to creating something scaleable?

    1. 3

      Hi @foreverhannahle, thank you! Looks like you're doing some great work on your website.

      As far as advice, mine is skewed through the lens of what I know and have experienced in my own life (so bear with me).

      First off, question whether or not what you're creating NEEDS to be scaleable. Will more make it better? Will more make it easier for customers? Will more make it easier/better for yourself, the operator?

      Second, if you have limited resources, that's not a bad thing. Creativity thrives under constraints. That just means (basically I'm paraphrasing from my own book, hah) you start as small as possible, based on what you've got. Maybe that means you start with no-code. Maybe that means you work on it evenings/weekends, at a pace that won't burn you out. Maybe that means you have to scale back your idea/vision to get started without a lot of money or resources. I think anything is possible if you scale it back to doable, given what you're working with.

      Third, pace yourself :) Not everything that needs doing has to be done now. This last bit is also advice for myself, since I suck at following it.

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        You're a gem, @pjrvs, thank you so much. Love constraint optimization, but damn would life be easier if I just had unlimited capital to start with haha. Appreciate you!

  2. 6

    Hey Paul! Big fan of fathom and of your book!

    If you had to build an audience from scratch again how would you get started?

    1. 2

      Hey @joshuaanderton, thank you! Glad you like both :)

      If I were to start again, I'd honestly be overwhelmed, haha. Here's what I've written about previously on starting from scratch:

      I'd probably follow a similar path, 1:1 client work, learn as much as possible, then transition into products (much like I've done).

      1. 1

        Thanks Paul! Really insightful.

        Keep up the good work :)

  3. 5

    Hey Paul! Fathom fanboy here :D

    Fathom related:

    • If you were to build Fathom from scratch again, would it look exactly like v2 or would there be changes?
    • What would you like to see on Fathom in a year?
    • How do you priorize what to build next?

    General questions:

    • What's the biggest advice you'd give to someone trying to grow and audience (try to answer without using the words "provide value" :D)
    • If you could go back to when you were 17, what advice would you give yourself? (and while we're at it, what advice would you give a 17-year-old who isn't you? :))
    • What's the meaning of life, the universe and everything else?
    1. 2

      Big fan of you Miguel :) We can start a mutual admiration society and become founding members.


      • V2 is basically us rebuilding the whole thing from scratch, and doing it in a way that we both feel is the "right" way, so I wouldn't change a single thing.
      • A few more features, but not many. Currently Jack and I are working on refinements and improvements to existing features. We don't want to blindly keep adding to Fathom, since we want it to stay very a simple analytic solution. If we add "all the features", it would no longer be simple :)
      • We listen to paying customers, and then work out what problem they're trying to solve with their suggestions. Internally, we like to do a few tiny things to build momentum, then a bigger thing (like a large feature), so it's not just big feature, big feature, big feature, etc.


      • Provide value. Just kidding! :) I feel like I may not be the best person to answer this, as my own audience grew without my working at growth. I just keep writing, listening and putting out products. Some work (like Fathom), some fail, but I just keep throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing which noodles stick. My goal was never growth for my audience, it was just me doing what I think they want and seeing how they react to it.
      • Yikes! I was an idiot at 17, so you're already far better off as you are building some really epic things :) I think it should be turned around and my 41 year old self should be asking you for advice on what I should be doing!
      • 42
  4. 4

    Been subscribed to your newsletter for a few weeks and I like the Sunday readings to get some thoughts moving. Also, got Company of One on my to-read list. Awesome you're coming by IndieHackers for an AMA!

    On to the question: what would you recommend to someone starting his own RSS Reader/news aggregator?

    1. 1

      Thanks @tmartty!

      I honestly miss RSS. The web felt more decentralized back in the day of subscribing to a bunch of blogs via their feeds. I'd try to tap into that nostalgia, as well as the benefits to not letting a handful of companies control what news/info we see.

  5. 3

    @nomadhacker Not sure why your comment got hidden from the post but wanted to raise it here so you don't feel that you're being ignored.

    You were upset because the Fathom marketing site said "1M people use Fathom". The marketing text was added based on the docker page (see:, it has 1M+ downloads and has had that many for about a year. This means that, by now, there have been far more than 1M downloads. We decided to remove the text you took issue with because, if it upset you, it will surely upset other people.

    Not everyone is here to lie to you / take advantage of you, most people act in good faith. Accusing someone of "blatantly lying" about something isn't needed. It's perfectly reasonable to say "Are you sure about this?" rather than assuming ill intent.

    If you want to speak to someone over the phone and voice your concerns, let me know and I'm happy to have the chat.


  6. 3

    Now that you’ve had experience with both courses and SaaS, what would you say are the biggest similarities and differences?

    What are the advantages (and disadvantages) now that you’re focused more on software? How has your marketing changed?

    1. 1

      Thanks @Zavzen!

      Biggest similarities is that both are a guess at first. Sure you can know your audience, know what they spend money, have a connection with them, etc. But until a way to "buy now" is available, you never truly know if things will work.

      The biggest difference is the obvious one: recurring rev (SaaS) vs single payments (courses). That requires totally different business models and marketing.

      I wouldn't say either is an advantage or disadvantage. Both are hard, both are fun, both have pros and cons :)

      As far as marketing goes, with Fathom and WPComplete, we're focused on paced releases, keeping our customers happy (so they don't churn out) and writing as much as possible about the benefits. For courses, I mainly rely on newsletters and automations.

  7. 3

    Hi Paul, big fan of Company of One and especially Fathom.

    I have two questions for you.

    1. 10AM in what timezone? post has been updated

    2. Whats your favorite canned food?

    1. 2

      Chickpeas! But I'm a vegan, so eating a lot of chickpeas is basically what I signed up for 😂

  8. 3

    Love Fathom and it's been fun to watch that grow. I'm curious what your process is for deciding what does/doesn't get added to Fathom? I'm sure you get a lot of requests from users, but how do you balance adding features and remaining focused on the core goal of simplicity?

    1. 1

      Hey @greggblanchard!

      We basically have an internal debate between Jack and I. We go over the pros/cons, we both play devils advocate on "what are the consequences of this being built?" and "what are the consequences of this NOT being built?".

      We also factor in how support/marketing/sales will changes for any given feature and how much paying customers are asking for it.

  9. 2

    Hi Paul,

    I pre-ordered and read through "Company of One" earlier this year, big fan of micropreneurism :) I had three questions:

    • How do you handle stress in a workplace environment when you are working for yourself (conflict resolution, lack of alignment, etc.)? How would you describe your coping mechanisms? Do you have any heuristics on what is workable / acceptable?

    • What are some of the best books or resources on negotiation you've engaged and applied? Is it something you have to internalize with experience or something you can read about and pre-fetch?

    • How have you learned to set boundaries between work and life? I have the problem where I keep working until 1AM some days because I don't know when to stop, and it's extremely unhealthy and unsustainable, but I don't know what to tell myself to reframe the problem in terms "feeling brain" understands.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. 1

      Hi @yingw787! Thanks :)

      • I'm the worst person to ask about managing stress as I do it poorly. Luckily my workplace is my home, where I work by myself, so there isn't many problems here. As far as coping, I'm working at meditation and doing therapy.
      • I have no books/resources on this subject, sorry. I'm open to suggestions!
      • Again, I'm bad at boundaries. Although I do try to wrap up work after 4-5 hours/day, and not think about it or worry about it, I can't always achieve that.

      Sorry, these answers feel wholly inadequate, but that's all I've got. I'm basically the worst person to ask about these things as I struggle with them as well.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the response and transparency! It's a valuable data point in my pocket :)

  10. 2

    Hey Paul, big fan of your books and newsletter. Thanks for taking the time to do an AMA!

    In your experience as a designer, how common is it to find developers that are also good designers? I am currently a developer with a keen interest in graphic design, I am wondering if I should commit to a single career path or risk spreading myself thin across development and design.

    1. 1

      Hey @Lukebrown thanks!

      Fairly uncommon. But I'm a designer, so I never look for devs who can design, since if I did that, they wouldn't need me as a partner ;)

      I also don't care if a dev can design to be honest. That's not their core skillset. If they can take a design from a designer, and apply/abstract it well, then that's a superpower.

  11. 2

    Hey Paul, really liked the book and love the idea behind Fathom!

    What software did you use when writing Company of One? What features were the most important and what was missing?

    1. 2

      Hi @hwustrack!

      I wrote my research, notes, outlines, drafts, etc (everything rough) in iAWriter because I'm a markdown nerd.

      I did the rest of the book in MS Word because I needed to share it and work on it with my publisher, editor, copyeditor, etc, and the publishing world is stuck in 1997. ;)

      I can't comment on MS Word's features, because I don't have 6 days, haha. But I like iA because there are no features or things I can play with, all I can do is write.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the reply, @pjrvs! iAWriter looks awesome.

        What do you think is keeping your publisher, editor, copyeditor, etc, on MS Word? Just inertia?

        1. 2

          "Because that's how it's always been done" and also, the folks I was working with are older are just used to that software. It's not a dig either, I'm getting older and stuck in my ways as well with what I happen to already know and use.

  12. 1

    Reading the book now man! Love it! Such an important concept.

    Are you down for an interview to feature your story and the book to my audience of 10K freelancers and agencies?!

  13. 1

    Huge fan! How are your rats?

    1. 1

      Hi @victorg, thank you! Unfortunately the lifespan or rats is quite short (2-3 yrs max), so I currently have no pet rats. The last one passed away early this year.

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    This comment was deleted a year ago.

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    This comment has been voted down. Click to show.

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      Hi there. Thanks for your great question.

      We aren't actually lying, between customers and downloads from open-source repo, over 1 million people do use our software or have at least tried it. Our audience aren't fools at all, I'm sorry you feel like this isn't the truth, but it is (or we wouldn't have it as content on our website).

      Take care.

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        This comment was deleted a year ago.

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        This comment was deleted a year ago.

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