Four years ago today, we took down our blog to re-imagine it. Here’s why we’re doing it again.
I was terrified.
There was no way
this was a good idea.
that we needed to be out there, doing marketing, to get customers.
And yet, here we were, about to make a decision that went against everything I believed about marketing.
It was 2013, and we were about to wipe our blog off of the internet.
“This is crazy
”, I thought.
To just stop
But doing that—and what we did in the months that followed—ended up being the best marketing decision we’ve ever made.
What Happened In April 2013
We were trying
to do content marketing at the time.
But frankly, it wasn’t working.
We threw together some list posts around a few different themes, built a cheap Tumblr blog, and put them out into the
Continue reading "I’m Taking A Break From Blogging. Here’s Why."
Figure out who your
best customers really are.
A few years ago, we were getting ready to test a big PR push to get the word out about Groove.
We put our heads together and tried to think about all of the different publications and influencers who we could reach out to that would be relevant for our market.
We spent hours putting together a spreadsheet, meticulously hunting down email addresses and crafting personalized pitches that would be sure to hit their mark.
While the test wasn’t very successful (for reasons I’ll go into in another post), we did learn one valuable lesson from the aftermath that made the entire effort worth it.
A week or two later, I sent the outreach list to a friend of mine; a founder who had successfully grown his own business by building great relationships with press outlets. If anyone could find the holes
Continue reading "Attention Startups: Stop Selling to Startups"
My favorite recent articles about growth, marketing and business life.
A few months ago, I shared a list
of the articles that I was getting incredible value from.
The response was really positive, and I’ve gotten requests—via both comments and emails—to continue sharing what I’m reading.
So today, I’m going to share 9 articles that have made a big impact on me lately.
Even if they don’t directly address issues you’re dealing with today
, I hope you’ll bookmark them like I have so that you can lean on them someday when you need them most.
1) The Four Cringe-Worthy Mistakes Too Many Startups Make with Data
By Amanda Richardson
Trends can be useful to follow, but they can also be incredibly dangerous.
When a serious pursuit—for example, data-driven growth—becomes a trend, it invariably becomes dumbed down by opportunistic “thought leaders” and companies looking to ride the trend for their
Continue reading "9 Blog Posts Your Team Should Read Today"
Most vacation policies lead to burnout and unhappy teams. Here’s another way.
Last updated: October 18, 2017
It’s almost silly to say that “hard work is important.”
It’s not just important.
Relative to just about everything else in success—strategy, tactics, networking—hard work (done smartly
) is everything
If you work hard every single day, and apply the right strategies and tactics to that hard work, you will
If you have the best strategies and tactics in the world, and don’t work very, very
hard to execute on them, you will lose.
Every. Single. Time.
Every successful person that I know—and, I’m willing to bet, that you know—got there only after a lot of hard work.
And that’s something that we can all learn from.
But something that people who have bought into the religion of hard work—even many who are successful—struggle with is balance.
Working hard, but
Continue reading "Don’t Let An “Unlimited” Vacation Policy Kill Your Startup"
Using the power of content upgrades to multiply your list-building results.
What if there was something that you could do that would quadruple
your email signup rates?
Something simple and straightforward, that wouldn’t take very much time to put together.
You’d do it, right?
Well, there is
a tactic that will accomplish this, and yet, most
blogs either don’t use it, or do it wrong.
I know, because ours used to be one of them.
For years, we left untold opportunity on the table until finally realizing the incredible power of content upgrades done right.
Today, I’ll share what we’ve learned about content upgrades, and how you can use them to multiply the results of your email subscription forms.
What Are Content Upgrades?
We’ve all seen free bonuses offered in exchange for signing up to an email list.
Ebooks, checklists, free guides… these bonuses can take many forms.
Continue reading "How We Used Content Upgrades to Increase Conversions by 400%"
Advice for founders who are
tired of bad advice.
There’s no shortage of advice for startup founders on the internet.
But sadly, most of it isn’t helpful.
The bad advice—the variety that makes up the overwhelming majority of those search results—typically falls into two categories:
- Advice so fluffy and vague (“product/marketing/support is everything”) that you don’t actually know what it means or what to do with it, or…
- Advice that sounds nice, but is simply wrong and dangerous (“embrace failure!”)
Over the last ten years, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to get advice.
Much of it was like the above, and was useless to me.
But there were a few key pieces that I’ve collected over the years that have made a dramatic
impact on our business.
No-nonsense lessons that I either picked up from people smarter than me, or learned the hard way.
It’s the advice that
Continue reading "7 No-Nonsense Pieces of Startup Advice I Wish I Got When I Started"
Yes, you can still succeed at
“But what if I can’t write well?”
It’s a fair question. And a very
We all want to succeed with content marketing, but many of us get tripped up on the first half of the term: how are we supposed to create great content if we’re not great writers?
Confession time: I’m not a great writer.
And in fact, I was a downright bad
writer when we started out with content marketing.
But, I’m going to tell you secret that most content marketers won’t share (for a number of reasons, almost all of them selfish).
Here it is: lots of successful content marketers are bad writers
Not “not great” writers.
Not “okay” writers.
I’ve seen early drafts of hyper-successful pieces of content on a number of blogs that you’d recognize, and I’ve been shocked at how poorly
Continue reading "How to Be a Great Content Marketer, Even If You’re Not a Great Writer"
How to differentiate your business when a great product isn’t enough.
If you’re selling SaaS, then you’re selling a commodity.
While that may not have been true ten years ago, today, it increasingly is.
Sure, there are exceptions; but they are few and far between.
For the overwhelming majority of us: if your product isn’t already a commodity, it will become one in the next few years.
Today, I’m going to discuss why I believe that to be true, and what you can do about it.
Why Your Product Isn’t Special
It has never
been easier and less costly to build SaaS products.
Sure, it was a big deal when the cloud made it possible to start up without needing to buy your own physical servers.
But that’s just one huge example that everyone points to.
The reality is that these sorts of technical and operational advancements happen every year,
Continue reading "If You’re Selling SaaS, Then You’re Selling a Commodity"
Pulling back the curtain on our daily standup meetings.
There are fifteen of us on our remote team
If you’ve ever tried to organize a meeting with fifteen people in the same building
, then you know what a logistical nightmare that can be.
Now, imagine that chaos, and add the fact that our fifteen people are spread across nine different time zones, from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Newport, Rhode Island.
Scheduling time together when everyone is in “work hours” is impossible.
And yet, even if you make an effort to maximize asynchronous collaboration
as much as possible, getting face-time with each other is important.
The challenge, then, is this: how do we schedule and run a daily meeting that minimizes disruption and inconvenience as much as possible?
Today, I want to share what we’ve learned in our mission to overcome that challenge.
Didn't get into Y Combinator? Here's why it doesn't matter, and what you should do.
Last Updated: August 23rd, 2017
“I’m gonna get in there.”
My friend was frustrated.
His startup had applied to Y Combinator
for the third time, and the news had just come back: they didn't get in. Again.
He wasn’t happy about it.
And I was frustrated, too. But for a different reason.
My friend is a smart guy. He’s accomplished a lot in his career, and I know he’d have a good shot at building a strong business.
But he had convinced himself that he needed
YC to succeed. And that’s what frustrates me.
There’s a lot of value in programs like Y Combinator and other top incubators. A lot of incredible companies have come out of them. And Paul Graham has probably done more for startups than almost anyone in the last decade.
Continue reading "What to Do If You Didn’t Get into Y Combinator"