The Bootstrapped Founder

A blog about how to start, run, and sell a bootstrapped SaaS

No Employees
Founders Code
Solo Founder
Content
Education
Growth
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Writing

On TBF, I explain how to start, run and sell a bootstrapped business.

I believe that bootstrapping is a desirable, value- and wealth-generating way of running a company, and still many people shy away from it.

October 10, 2020 I'm writing a book, "Audience First"—in public.

A few months ago, I had the idea that I wanted to write an audience-first book about the audience-first approach to building a business.

I wrote my previous book, Zero to Sold, in a very reader-centric way, releasing individual chapters every week. I worked a lot with reader feedback from the blog, but I didn't have any particular system in place to get feedback on the book.

So this time around, there will be a system. I will have a number of alpha reader batches who will get access to very early drafts of the book, and once there is something that resembles a manuscript, beta readers will get to see the book in its almost-finished state.

Audience First will be about... what you want it to be about, kind of. Of course, the main theme will be everything to do with audiences and the audience-first approach to building businesses. But the particular details? Completely up to my audience.

So far, the chapters in the book will be about:

  • What "audience" means, and what "audience-first" is all about
  • How to find an audience to serve
  • How to analyze and compare audiences
  • How to build a following for your business (which is often called "building an audience")
  • How to become a subject matter expert and a member of your audience's tribal niche community
  • and many more

I've already collected a number of suggestions on a public content list. Interested readers have been using the email form on that page to send their questions over. It has been amazingly successful. Already, a number of new questions that I hadn't thought about are part of the journey of the book.

And that's what I wanted to happen in the first place. Immediate collaboration, from day one. Which was yesterday, when I tweeted about this. I'm enjoying this process immensely.

If you're interested in being a part of this journey as well, please check out the Audience First homepage. If anything can be improved, reach out. Everything along the way is supposed to be audience-first. And Indie Hackers are my audience. Because it's an awesome audience that I want to help and empower for a long time.

August 31, 2020 Sold 2000+ Copies of Zero to Sold in 2 Months

As incredible as this sounds, I have apparently sold 2003 books over the last 60 days. Two months ago, I released my book Zero to Sold through Twitter (and a day later, ProductHunt), and it was met with an unexpected but most welcome response from the community.

On day one, I sold 350 copies.
Within the first week, I sold 1000 copies.
Now, two months in, I have sold 2000 copies.

It's beyond my wildest expectations, and I could not be happier.

I have shared all the details in a Twitter thread, but let me boil it down here:

As of right now, I sold 2003 copies of Zero to Sold and made $16,385 in revenue.

  • Amazon: 1449 books, $10,371.10
  • Gumroad: 512 books, $5,754.86
  • Draft2Digital: 42 books, $259.04
  • IngramSpark: 37 books, $198.50

Total: 2003 books, $16,385.00 revenue

If you're interested in the full story of how I wrote and self-published the book, you can learn more on my blog and on my podcast.

If you have any questions about the journey, please let me know here! I am SO excited :D

August 7, 2020 2500+ Newsletter Subscribers

It's quite incredible. Ever since I've went all in and published my book Zero to Sold, my newsletter numbers have been climbing so much faster than ever before.

This week, I have reached 2500 subscribers.

Here is the growth chart. The Bootstrapped Founder Newsletter is at 2549 subs, with a 49.1% opening rate and 11.71% clicks (which might seem low, but I barely have any links in the newsletter itself. It's almost all content).

It's wonderful to see that every week, only a handful of people unsubscribe. Five people out of 2500? Sounds like the rest of them really enjoy my content.

I have also started to add links to non-bootstrapped stuff into my newsletters. In today's episode, there are links about Cheesemaking, Starlink, and the first signs of domesticated cats. I'm adding those things because a) they're actually super interesting and b) because I can! I love learning seemingly random yet intrinsically interesting facts. So I'm passing it on.

Anyway! Next big milestone will be 3000.

Thank you, everyone, for reading my milestones, and particularly those of you who read my newsletter every week. It is most appreciated!

You can find the latest episode here, and you can subscribe from there as well, of course.

July 8, 2020 700+ New Newsletter Subs Since Book Launch (=2265)

Since I launched my book Zero to Sold ten days ago, my blog visits and, subsequently, my newsletter signups have skyrocketed.

Before that day, I created a milestone every 100 new subscribers. Well, turns out I missed a few. Before the launch, I had just reached 1500 subscribers. The launch added over 700 new subscribers to the list, which is almost 50% growth in one week.

I am blown away.

Here are the stats: 2265 subscribers, 50%+ open rates

Of course, I will continue things just like I was before. It's just an amazing and frankly unexpected experience.

July 6, 2020 1000+ Zero to Sold Sales in 7 Days / Made ~$8,500

It has been exactly 7 days since I launched my book Zero to Sold. I launched it to my audience on Twitter last Monday, and I've been tracking and sharing sales metrics for every day in the main launch Tweet.

Here is a quick look at the numbers!

  • Books sold so far: 1004+ Books (changes every few minutes!)
  • Overall revenue for Zero to Sold so far: ~$8443,26+

These are my sales, by channel, at around 1000 books sold:

  • Amazon: ~$4,328.89

  • Gumroad: $3772.58

  • Draft2Digital: ​$109.39

  • Amazon Affiliate: ~​$232,80

  • All combined = ~ $8443,26

I have written an article about all the sales, revenue, and engagement metrics..

Please check it out!

June 30, 2020 347 sales, #1 on PH & Amazon Bestseller within 24h

The launch of my book Zero to Sold has been incredible.

Yesterday, at 2 pm CET, I launched the book on Twitter. The tweet got incredible engagement: within 28 hours, it stands at 137 Retweets and 769 Likes, with 98 comments. The reach of this tweet has been spectacular: it reports over 100.000 impressions.

For a book launch, that isn't too shabby.

I engaged with everyone who engaged with that Tweet. Took most of my time yesterday. Here are the sales results of the launch.

  • 199 units sold on Amazon (Kindle only, as Paperbacks only start counting when they're shipped)
  • 148 units sold on Gumroad (Mostly from non-Amazon countries like Russia)

That's at least 347 sales. Plus the paperbacks which I expect number somewhere between 50 and 100 orders.

With me making anywhere between $3 and $9 on royalties, depending on the country and format, I'm looking at something between $1000 and $3000 in royalties from the first 24h of launching my book.

I could not have dreamed that. In fact, I assumed that I might sell 50 copies, maybe.

Having both the Kindle and the Print-on-Demand book on Amazon from the start resulted in this little gem that I would have never expected: right now, Zero to Sold is the #1 Amazon Bestseller in the Small Business category.

Small Business Best Sellers

I am still in shocked disbelief. I never expected this to happen, not for months or years.

Earlier today, right at 00:05 PST, I launched on Product Hunt through PH's automatic scheduling. When I woke up 40 minutes later, it was 9:45 here in Germany. I tweeted about the launch, and the 6 votes it already had gathered turned into 29, catapulting me to the top spot. The book has been in the #1 spot ever since.

Other side-effects appeared on my blog. The blog itself received 5000+ visits, many of which hung around and checked out other articles and pages. One of those was my newsletter. In the 24h sale period, my newsletter grew by 8%, adding 108 new newsletter subscribers.

What can I say, I'm still in a daze. So much love, so much support, so much kindness has been expressed to me over the last 24 hours, of which I slept only 4.

I am so glad to have found the Indie Hackers community. This wouldn't have happened without every single one of you.

Now, I'll get back to chatting with people on Twitter. The ProductHunt situation is still happening :D

If you're interested in the book, please check out Zero to Sold.

June 29, 2020 Published my book Zero to Sold

After 6 months of writing every day, epic battles with my editors, and a lot of guessing how self-publishing is supposed to work, I am excited to announce that I have finally published Zero to Sold in Print, eBook, and ePDF.

Here's the book page on my blog.

The book is now available from Amazon and Gumroad.

If you've read my free guide with the same name before, you will love the book. It takes the compendium and turns it into a cohesive, fully-fledged book.

It all started with a couple of blog posts that evolved into a list of articles, which then turned into the compendium. When I released that, people asked me to turn it into a book. I guess I didn't have much of a choice ;)

So, what is Zero to Sold, the book?

It's 105,000 words, 498 pages, condensed and no-fluff advice on building a bootstrapped business. I don't claim to know everything, but I share everything I know. And nothing more.

The book goes from ideation to acquisition, from the Preparation Stage to Survival to Stability to Growth. Wherever you are on your entrepreneurial journey bootstrapping a business, you will find something that will give you perspective.

That's because I wrote the book for myself 5 years ago, when I first started looking into Indie Hackers and the Twitter bootstrapping community, finding myself overwhelmed. I would have loved to have a guide at that point, so I wrote one.

Things that I'm working on now:

  • I'm doing a lot of marketing, reaching out to people
  • I'm making notes when people point out issues within the book, typos, errors, technical and logistical issues with the purchase
  • I'm considering creating an audiobook version. Not sure if I should narrate it (which I'd love, but it may not turn out too good) or get a professional narrator

If you have any feedback on the book, this post, or anything else, please let me know.

Today is a great day. Engagement on Twitter is through the roof!

I love this community! 🥰

June 27, 2020 10,000 all-time Podcast Downloads

Just 37 episodes into The Bootstrapped Founder podcast, I have just now crossed the 10,000 listens.

It seems that releasing at least one new episode a week without fail since February 5th is paying off.

Here is what I've done recently to improve the podcast:

  • I've added music. There is an intro, an outro, and some kind of music that plays whenever I read the sponsored messages
  • I've started asking for questions on Twitter. On Monday or Tuesday, I will ask a question related to the topic of the show, and I note down the questions I get on Twitter. Then, I respond to them in the second half of the show.
  • I try to keep each show between 20 and 30 minutes.
  • After I am done with the editing, I make 5-7 short videos using the Headliner app. Those videos look like this and are super useful, as they can be played right within Twitter. I schedule one per weekday, and link the podcast episode with each.

And that's it. To another 10k! :)

Here is a gigantic screenshot with all my podcast stats

And here is the podcast.

June 24, 2020 1500 Email Subscribers

I'm happy to report that the Bootstrapped Founder Newsletter has now reached over 1500 subscribers, with only 10 unsubscribed over the last week.

I am still impressed with an opening rate twice the industry average, and barely anyone canceling. It's great to see that my consistent posting on Twitter and here on IndieHackers seems to continuously attract new readers to my weekly half-essay-half-link-list publication.

Here are the stats: 1500 Subs,50,47% open rate, 12,92% click rate.

In one of the next episodes, I will announce the official launch of my book, Zero to Sold. I can't wait to see how many of my readers will engage with the book that has been half a year in the making.

June 1, 2020 1400 Email Subscribers

In less than two weeks, another 100 subscribers joined the Bootstrapped Founder Newsletter.

Here are the stats: 1401 Subs, 51.24% open rate, 13.64% click rate.

Honestly, I haven't done much for growth other than the usual: I release an article every week, I recorded and publish a podcast episode, and I am very active on Twitter.

My last few weeks have been busy working with my editor on the book version of Zero to Sold, my bootstrapping guide. I'm looking forward to sharing that with my list once the book is all done, which I expect to happen at the end of June.

I added an email capture (with a free couple of chapters from the book) to the Zero to Sold page. That one has 53 subscribers. As I am not promoting that anywhere actively, those subscribers trickle in slowly.

Slow and steady is the theme for my audience. It seems to work pretty well, and I am in no rush. Here to stay :)

On TBF, I explain how to start, run and sell a bootstrapped business.

I believe that bootstrapping is a desirable, value- and wealth-generating way of running a company, and still many people shy away from it.