February was a great month. I’m looking forward to sharing some of the results of what I’ve been working on, as well as a couple of new side projects that I’m excited about. First, let me give some of the highlights.
February 5th I went to the Digital Summit in Scottsdale. It was a conference that I was originally thinking was catered towards digital marketers. However, it seemed there was a good mix of digital marketers and corporate people. However, all the presentations felt like they were more catered towards corporate people. Needless to say I actually left before the end of it as I just wasn’t getting much out of it.
Joined a Mastermind
I was approached by Brian Casel, who happens to be a Co-host on a podcast I listen to religiously called Bootstrapped Web. He asked me if I would be interested and of course I jumped at the opportunity. He introduced me to Greg Hickman and Robert Williams of Workshop. We just had our first session this past week and we meet on a weekly basis now.
I have already gotten a ton of value out of just talking with like minded entrepreneurs specifically about business and so I really look forward to our Wednesday meetings.
Launching a Podcast
This is something I am extremely excited for. The aforementioned Greg Hickman and I hit it off right after being introduced and I have been having this idea to do an “startup” focused podcast for awhile. You can think of it like this blog series, but goes into more nuts and bolts about issues and challenges we are facing, experiments we are running, and more. I’ll have a separate email going out announcing this, so stay tuned.
Here’s a screenshot from my RescueTime dashboard:
So as LeadFuze continues to grow, I’m seeing more of my time spent in my Inbox. Not much I can do about that as email is ultimately how the fulfillment is made with clients for that particular business. That said, I am hiring an assistant who will help manage a lot of that and free up more of my time so I can continue to focus on sales (versus sales+fulfillment).
My 750 words per day writing system has allowed me to produce a lot of content. I have written several blog posts that have not yet been published, in addition to different email sequences, sections of my book, and more.
Here’s what was published:
- JustinMcGill.net – My Month in Review for January 2015
- Justin McGill.net – How to Start Your First Business
- JustinMcGill.net – My System for Writing 750 Words Every Day
- Workado – How to Map Your Content to a Prospect’s Buying Stage
- LeadFuze – How to Build Trust with Your Cold Emails (Example Included!)
- LeadFuze – 60 Days Since Launch, Here’s Our Revenue Report
- LeadFuze – 5 Different Ways to Use Cold Email Outreach for Growth (+ Two More Bonus Tactics)
- HubSpot (guest blog) – How to Onboard and Kickoff a New Client Relationship (+ Free Template)
My focus on guest blogging in February has paid off. I got the HubSpot post live, but in March I will have a guest post going live on Buffer, WP Curve, RainToday, and more. I’ll be sharing those links in my March review.
Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker – For anyone in need of a virtual assistant (VA), this is a great read. I discovered this through Chris’s podcast and then am trying his service. He does a great job of breaking everything down so that you can be prepared to have a VA and have it work (I’ve failed two previous times with this).
SaaS Marketing Essentials by Ryan Battles – For developers who can build a SaaS product, but then don’t know what to do, this book is for you.
Intercom on Product Management by Intercom – I made quite a few mistakes with Workado and recently made the decision to rebuild it (more on this later in this post). Before I mapped this out, I wanted to read what these guys had to say. It’s a worthwhile read if you are ever going to be managing the development process or even working with multiple developers on the same product.
I also recommend signing up for these awesome startup newsletters:
- Foundcy – Top reads curated by the Foundcy team.
- Founder Cabin – A curated list of reads compiled by Josh Pigford of Baremetrics.
- SaaS Weekly – A curated list of reads compiled by the aforementioned Hiten Shah.
Nothing new here, but I do have some changes coming in March. My About page will be revamped, I’ll be adding a section for my different projects, and also have some changes coming to my subscription process.
Since launching Workado and doing some email outreach to agencies I have had a lot of cancellations. Nearly 90% of the people that have signed up end up canceling their during their trial period. I suppose this is fairly common, but considering I currently collect credit card details upfront, that is a little high.
I have gotten consistent feedback about the need for more reporting options. In addition, it seems every new rollout breaks several other things. This is due to me having used four different developers on this project and not implementing a TDD (test-driven development) process.
I have mapped out a rebuild of the software, where we take several existing features and add Google Analytics reporting. In fact, I had originally thought of the analytics angle for a separate project, but hearing a lot of the feedback from canceled users I have decided to incorporate that into Workado. I am also planning to not require credit card up front just to test this and will be introducing a freemium model where you can manage one campaign for free forever.
I prepared the documentation and now it will take awhile for this to do for my developer.
A ton of progress is being made with LeadFuze. From a backend perspective, we now have our upload feature working to where we can take a companies list of URL’s and go through that list looking for contact info for each of them. I have been asked this a few times by prospective customers so this should come in handy.
We have hit revenue goals that I set for day 30 and day 60 and well on our way to hitting goal again for day 90. I am hoping to get LeadFuze to $25,000/mo in recurring revenue by the end of the year.
More importantly, I have finally decided on a couple of key markets (working on accountants right now) and it is work out well.
We are planning on moving from Node.JS to Go for better scaling. I am personally not familiar with it, but Dropbox decided to move to Go from Python eight months ago. I am hoping the move will speed up our lead finding process.
We are also going to be moving servers. At our current rate, we would probably only be able to triple in size so we need to do something now to speed up our processes.
Looking forward to launching a podcast which will go behind the scenes of the day to day to show what it’s like taking an idea and scaling it.
Live Chat Ninjas
So this is pretty interesting. I was approached by a guy from a Facebook group I am in that had this idea and launched the website. He has the ability to staff the company appropriately for very cheap as he is based in India. However, he wanted an American based Co-founder for obvious reasons.
He contacted me for this, and I felt it was a need. I had held off providing live chat on Workado and LeadFuze because I simply did not want to have to man the live chat myself or pay for someone to do it. So the idea of having it covered for less than $200/mo seems to me like a great idea.
I decided I would test the concept by firing up LeadFuze. I targeted Zopim users with BuiltWith and then loaded up those results in LeadFuze for the email sending. The theory here is that if they are already using a live chat software, then they don’t have to be sold on the value of live chat + our done-for-you service, they just have to be sold on the done-for-you part.
I set a goal of sending 1k emails and getting 3 signups to determine if this has validity. So far we are about a third of the way through the emails, but we don’t have a signup yet. We originally had pricing at $149/mo which considering we have someone being available for eight hours per day, seems like a reasonable fee. However, we had some early stage startups saying they didn’t have the traffic to justify that cost.
We heard this a few times and then decided to change our pricing based on traffic numbers and this allowed us to lower the entry price to $49/mo.
The people I have talked with all have said they think it’s a good idea, but no sign ups yet.
I have a post coming about taking on side projects like this. It will be my next post in fact, so be sure and subscribe to know when that gets published.
Finished up an e-commerce build that I was project managing. It was a two and a half month project, but it finally was completed and looks good. Lots of hiccups at the end that took some time, but now that it is done I shouldn’t have to be involved anymore. I have a project manager in place that can run things in the future.
I officially serve as an Advisor and will hold a monthly meeting with my Co-founder to make sure there’s a new focus on growth in place and that things are running efficiently. This should be the only thing I need to do going forward with Upswing.
BeStunning – This is a cool way to automate the card failures, expiration handling, and more. It sends out receipts and emails telling people to update their billing info and that gets saved into Stripe. It is free and they take a % of money saved. Your bill won’t exceed $50, unless you have a lot more customers.
Animonks – This handy service creates animated images for your blog posts. You can animate your header images (like I did in this post), or within blog post content itself. Prices start at $49/mo so it’s an affordable way to liven up your blog posts.
OptimizedPrime.co – This handy services creates content upgrades within your blog posts. I have seen slightly over a 300% increase in email signups using these content upgrades. How it works is you create the blog post, then they come up with a downloadable to use within your post. You can see an example here and here.
Podcasters Paradise – I signed up to take advantage of a special sign up offer, but I haven’t dug into this yet. Since I’m launching a new podcast, I wanted to absorb as much information as I could. This community should be a big help in getting feedback, reviews, and help. With your purchase you are granted access to the Facebook group which has been very lively.
Podcast Equipment – Getting this in was like Christmas:
I decided I was going all out because I wanted to force myself into really making this happen. So I splurged on the high end Heil PR40 and fancy accessories. The microphone itself is $327, stand is around $80, shock absorber another $120. However, I found a sweet bundle offer on BSW for all of that for $369. I needed to buy the Focusright Scarlett separately.
Had two different poker sessions in February and ended up breaking even. I played a few hours total.
Took my son to see the Harlem Globetrotters game. My long time operations guy at Upswing left for the internet marketing management position with them and they promised me free tickets so I took advantage.
It was Valentine’s Day and thankfully my wife just wanted to stay in and make it a lounge/movie day. That’s my idea of an awesome Valentine’s Day.
Her birthday is the 27th of February as well, so we had fun bowling with friends and family and then watched Ronda Rousey win her UFC fight in 14 seconds.
I have two separate trips planned in March. I leave for New York on Saturday for a week with the family. JJ is on spring break and so he’ll get to see the big city while Angela catches up with friends and family.
Then I’m going to Vegas at the end of March with a couple buddies to play some poker for a few days.
In between I’ll be working on all my various projects as well as getting some episodes recorded for the launch of the podcast!
Stay tuned for the next post coming where I’ll be discussing shiny object syndrome! Subscribe to the right to get the post and more insider notes sent to your inbox.