Attendee Talks – John Sonmez, Dodd Caldwell, Matthew Paulson, Daniel Craig – MicroConf 2017

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John Sonmez – YouTube: Fame, Glory, and 50+ Email Sign Ups a Day

  • How many of you have a YouTube channel?
    • (some)
  • I have a channel
  • YouTube is a pretty good place to be if you want to grow your business
    • Surprised by how much growth
    • Actually surpassed my blog by 3x
  • I’m
    • A little bit crazy
    • Run a site called Simple Programmer – I teach software developers how to be cool
  • Results I’m seeing
    • Stats
      • 80k+ YT subs in 1.5 years
      • 6K+ new subs per month
      • $7k/mo ad revenue
      • 600k/mo video views
      • 50+ email signups per day
  • How I’m running my YT channel
    • Record 2-3 videos per day
      • iPhone
      • DSLR on desk
      • Need to be able to EASILY record, so I can do 2-3 per day
    • Every 2-3 months batch high quality videos
      • With professional videographer
    • Drop videos into Dropbox
    • And I’m done. Editor takes over:
      • Editing
      • Tagging
      • Descriptions
      • Thumbnails
      • Scheduling
    • I could never do 2-3 per day if I had to do the editing, tagging, etc
    • As hands off as possible. Some initial training for the editor, but now he just fills in everything from the videos I drop in Dropbox
    • How to get video ideas?
      • Questions people ask (constant stream of questions coming in from subscribers)
      • → editor sends a form → Zapier → Trello board
      • Books I read
        • Audible books on 3x while running!
      • Have some way to capture ideas easily. I use Draft on iOS
        • Throw video ideas into the app as they come to me
  • How do I get the results?
    • Be prolific
      • Huge difference in growth after switching to >1 video per day
    • Be polarizing
      • Don’t be afraid to tell most people to “fuck off”
      • It’ll make people angry
      • 1500+ unsubscribes per month
        • More proud of this than the subscribes!
        • Videos that actively tell people to unsubscribe get the most subscribes!
      • Get people lit up
    • Make longer videos to increase watch time
  • Tactics and tools
    • Call out to other videos of yours
      • Want people consuming as much content as possible
        • People will either love or hate my stuff
    • Call to action → Subscribe
    • VidIQ
      • Use for stats and optimizing tags
      • Use description campaign to send people to lead magnet to capture email addresses
        • Getting 50+ signups per day
  • https://store.simpleprogrammer.com

Dodd Caldwell – Raising My The Price For My SaaS App By 60% (And How It Worked)

  • Co-founder of MoonClerk
    • Target small, mostly local businesses
    • Built on top of Stripe
    • Help them accept recurring payments without any programming
  • Raising our prices by 66% (and how it worked)
  • Background
    • Launched 4 years ago
    • Started $9/mo (for up to $1k monthly volume)
  • Raised base price 66% to $15/mo (for up to $2k monthly volume)
  • Why did we raise our prices?
    • SaaS law of thirds
      • ⅓ of users don’t use app
      • ⅓ of users are “light” users
      • ⅓ of users are “normal” to “heavy” users
    • Make the headaches worth it
    • Fight customer churn with negative revenue churn
      • Not a ton we can do to lower churn any further
      • But we can increase prices to compensate
  • So we A/B tested
    • $9 vs $15 vs $19 base price
    • Initially sent 80% to the control ($9)
    • $19 was losing “bigly” so we dropped it
      • Conversion rate ~50% down
    • $9 vs $15 had about the same conversion rate
    • Increased A/B split to 50/50
    • Waited
      • About a year to get statistically significant results
    • $15 hurt conversion rate by ~7%
      • Was that worth it?
      • Pro forma spreadsheet to predict how that change would affect MRR
        • Variables:
          • Grandfathering vs immediate switch for everyone
          • Effect on churn rate
        • Estimated results in %s rather than whole numbers
  • Making a data informed decision (9 steps)
    • 1. I will have some of the data I want
    • 2. I can make educated guesses on some of the data I don’t have
    • 3. Wise counsel can help me make a better educated guess on the data I don’t have
      • Other SaaS who had increased prices — reached out to them to ask for how it affected churn
    • 4. If there is no way to make a best guess on certain data, ignore it
    • 5. Few of my decisions are irreversible
      • Can always undo it
    • 6. Reversing my decisions usually has consequences but they are rarely nuclear
    • 7. If making or reversing a decision DOES have nuclear consequences, seek more counsel
    • 8. Make decisions based on real data if I have it + best guess if I don’t
    • 9. Even if the decision I make turns out not to be the “correct” decision, I can rest assured it was the “wisest” decision at the time
      • Important as leader of a team
        • I can clearly explain “this is why we’re going down this path”
        • Can always apologize if it doesn’t work out, but team will better understand when it doesn’t work out if they can see this decision making process
  • Results
    • Started at 100% of customers in the $9 schedule
    • Today 33% of customers in the $9 schedule
    • Customer churn DECREASED by 10%
    • Grown from 2,600 paying customers to over 4,500
    • Revenue per customer grew over 40%
    • MRR nearly tripled
  • Dodd Caldwell
    [email protected]
    @doddcaldwell

Matthew Paulson – How a Washed-Up Personal Finance Blogger Became a Publishing Tycoon Using Automated Content

  • Between 3-5 million page views per month using automated content
  • Began in 2007
    • Ran a network of personal finance blogs (American Consumer News)
    • Did pretty well
  • Made $130k in 2010
    • Content quality wasn’t too high
  • Google Panda update
    • Half of traffic disappeared overnight
    • Business became a shadow of its former glory
    • Needed to reinvent the business for the future
  • American Banking News
    • Had some traction from publishing news
    • Was still doing pretty well because it didn’t get its traffic from Google
      • MSN Money, etc. 300-400 page views per article they published
    • Problem: shelf life was short
    • Realised we could write really short, easy articles
      • TextExpander to write articles really quickly
      • Publishing ~50 of these short stories in a couple of hours each morning
    • Figured out… can use software to do this. Can automate the whole thing.
      • AnalystRatingsNetwork
      • Little form → script (pulled in e.g. stock price) → short article
      • Now over 25 templates for different types of articles
      • ~1MM page views per month
    • Didn’t want to stop there
      • Took same technology, built free daily newsletter
      • Collected email addresses
      • ~10k subscribers after 6 months
      • Getting great feedback
      • Opportunity for subscription?
        • Emailed list, asked what they liked/disliked
        • Made a premium version, $15/mo, better features, sent earlier
        • 100 people signed up initially
          • Not huge
      • Now called MarketBeat
    • Now have a third tier as well
    • Built out relationships in the market
    • Grown the business since, but same model: publishing 2,000 articles per day using this automated system
    • 2016
      • $2.75MM revenue, $2.16MM profit, 37.5MM unique visitors, 445k email subscribers
  • 5 strategies that are working right now
    • Web Push Notifications
      • (in-browser notifications even when they’re not on your site)
      • ~50k people opted in to this
      • Can use for cart abandonment
      • Or new blog posts
      • Or to sell (& advertisers pay to sell here too)
      • Tools: OneSignal, PushClick
    • “Nine word emails”
      • Email that worked the best: “Are you still interested in helping out with the ______? If you would like to help out, here’s the link:”
      • Works because it’s short
    • Google AMP & Facebook Instant Articles
      • ampproject.org
      • Google favoring these in search results
      • Made all our sites AMP friendly
      • ~100k AMP page views per week
      • Highly recommend to anyone using news-style content
    • Structured data
      • Schema.org markup
      • (“Position 0” ranking on Google)
      • Question data in the markup (e.g. “what is Apple’s stock price today?”)
    • Session replays
      • Most of us don’t know how users interact with our web site
      • Session recording software (ClickJar, HitTail, …) see where people are clicking / getting stuck
  • Matthew Paulson
    www.mattpaulson.com
    [email protected]

Daniel Craig – Why the IRS Loves Your SaaS Business (And How to Keep It That Way)

  • Daniel Craig
    • Run Bloom SaaS accounting
  • SaaS approaching 30% of application spend
  • Reason #1: Tax revenue
    • IRS loves revenue
    • ASC 606 – the new revenue recognition standard
      • If you get your revenue in Jan and deliver your product over the next 12 months, you have to “earn” that revenue over the whole 12 months
      • Affects how you report your revenue
      • Recognized revenue vs deferred revenue
      • Effective January 1, 2018 (public companies) 2019 (private companies)
      • Only applies to companies filing on an accrual basis
    • BloomAccounting.io/microconf
  • Reason #2: Job creating
    • Section 199 deduction
      • To promote manufacturing in the US
      • SaaS sometimes counts
      • Can deduct 9% of qualifying manufacturing REVENUE from tax bill
      • Talk to your CPA about this
      • Qualify if: sell an on-premise version of the same software / have a competitor who does with a “substantially identical” product
  • Financial management: goal is to maximize profit
    • “Making sure we have enough money in the bank”
    • “Budgeting revenue and expenses”
    • What’s missing from all of these:
      • Any real focus on PROFIT
      • Treats profit as “whatever’s left” instead of thinking of profit first
    • Financial management is the discipline of predetermining your profitability.
  • Books:
    • Simple Numbers (Greg Crabtree)
    • Profit First (Mike Michalowicz)
  • Keys:
    • 1. Pay yourself a market based wage
      • What if you don’t have the cash to do it?
      • 90% of entrepreneurs underpay themselves
      • Ask yourself: how much would I get paid if I quit and went to get a job?
      • Instead of $20k salary
      • $80k investment (which includes $60k sweat equity investment)
    • 2. Define “done”
      • How much will it cost me to get to 20% profitability?
        • When developing a new product, or a new feature set
        • Important to calculate this if you’re putting an undefined amount of time into an undefined result
    • 3. Enjoy regular profit distributions
      • “Profit protects you from your ego.” (Jason Fried)
  • BloomAccounting.io/microconf

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