Solving Your Spouse's Problem: A Conversation with Jordan O'Connor, Founder of Closet Tools

We talk a lot about solving your own problems as a way to find good business ideas. But solving your spouse's problems can be a good source of ideas, too. That's what Jordan O'Connor did with his Poshmark automation software, Closet Tools.

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Colleen Schnettler  0:02  
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Welcome back to the software social podcast. I'm your host today, Colleen. Today I am super excited to have a special guest on the pod. Jordan O'Connor, the founder of closet tools is today's guest. Thanks for showing up today. Jordan, I appreciate it. 

Jordan O'Connor  0:56  
Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me. 

Colleen Schnettler  0:58  
So I specifically wanted to ask you here because your Indie hackers interviews was one of my favorites. And I'm sure you hear that a lot. Do you hear that? A lot? 

Jordan O'Connor  1:07  
I've heard it a few times. 

Colleen Schnettler  1:08  
Yeah. Yeah. So for those who have not heard your Indie hackers interview, could you tell us a little bit about what closet tools is? 

Jordan O'Connor  1:17  
Yeah, so closet tools, I started closet tools almost almost four years ago now. It's basically an automation. It's software automation for Poshmark. So Poshmark is a retail selling platform. So it started out as mostly just people selling used women's clothes, it was mostly women selling used clothes on there.

And the way they built the platform is more like social media than it is like, you know, like, you know, like what you would think of ecommerce is like a storefront or something like that. And so the way to get exposure to your closet, your profile, you have to do things like sharing and liking and commenting and all these different social engagement signals. And that's how you get exposure. That's how you get followers. That's how you get, you know, eyeballs on your stuff, so that you can sell stuff. And so that takes a ton of time. And my particular customer, which would be like a reseller, they don't really have time to be on social media all day engaging and stuff like that, like they just want to sell clothes. Most of them sell on eBay, they sell, you know, on their own storefront. So they just want to sell stuff. And so that's what causes tools does, it does a lot of those engagement things for them, it'll share their items throughout the day, it'll automatically respond to different events that happen if somebody likes an item, it'll automatically send that person an offer with a discount stuff like that. So it kind of automates a little bit of the sales process for them. So yeah,

Colleen Schnettler  2:46  
so Poshmark is like eBay, but fancy, right, like higher high end.

Jordan O'Connor  2:52  
It's no, it's definitely it's definitely I would say it's not that eBay is high end, but Poshmark scales, low end to high end, you can you know, you can find, you know, you can find like really nice purses or whatever on there and stuff. Or you can buy, you know, a $5 You know, screenprint t shirt, like you can buy, you know, anything you want on there, most of the appeal is that most of the items on there are like used. So you're getting get a discount on some item that's lightly used that you would normally pay a lot more for. So that's kind of, you know, the the corner of the market that they tackled, there's also a lot of new items on there and things like that, too. So, but yeah, the thing that's weird about it. So like you have like a closet, it literally is like like Instagram, so you have your closet, and it has like all the images of like your items and stuff that you're selling. And each post has, you know, a common section, people can like it, they can share it themselves to their followers. And when you share to your followers, your item, they're basically when you share to your followers, that item shows up in their main feed. So like you can go into the app and you can like search specifically for like, hey, I want like Nike shoes, or whatever. And then I'll just come up with Nike shoes. But if you just kind of like go into the app, and you have like the main feed, just like any social media platform, whatever people are sharing is what's going to show up there. And so if you're not constantly sharing, then you're not going to show up in that main feed, and people aren't going to randomly stumble onto your profile. But you literally have to physically click like two buttons for every item you want to share. And a lot of my customers are actual, you know that this is their business and they have 2000 3000 4000 items. And it would take them an hour or two just to go through and click click, click, click click. So it and that could be time there's been doing other things like even literally just like packaging items to sell send out and stuff like that. So So yeah, it saves them a ton of time, and it ends up making them more money in the long run just because you know it's doing things for them. So it's pretty, it's a win win. It's pretty cool.

Colleen Schnettler  4:48  
So how did you get that idea? Were you selling stuff on? Poshmark?

Jordan O'Connor  4:52  
Yeah, so my wife started selling things on Poshmark at the time. We kind of need some extra income and she was like no One of her friends actually introduced her to Poshmark. And so she jumped on and she was starting to sell stuff. But then right away, I kind of was like, Whoa, you're spending a lot of time, you know, night sharing and doing a bunch of stuff on there. I was like, and it was right around the time I was kind of learning web development, things like that. I had already knew how to code and stuff. But I had never really done much web development. And I said, Hey, I think I can write like a little script that kind of like automates that for you. Like, you just press a button, and it just rifled through and shares all of your stuff. And so that's what I did. And so that's how I made the first, you know, like, kind of the first version. And for a while, I just, um, let her and her friends use it. And they thought it was awesome there was that it was really cool. And all it was was a bookmarklet. So like in, you know, browsers, you can just embed JavaScript code right in the bookmark, and you just click it and execute it. And it just like, yeah, you went through, it wasn't smart, or anything, had no GUI or anything like that. I just did it. And they thought it was great. And they were doing well with it. And then I blogged about it on my personal blog. And over the course of like, six months, I started getting like a hand few handful of emails from people saying, like, Hey, I found this, you know, this thing that you posted, like, how do I use it? Like, how do I get it working, because I want to use it. And even still, at that time, I had no intention of like selling it, or like making a business out of it or anything like that. So it was like, I was just trying to be helpful. I was like, Yeah, sure. This is how you use it, you just let you set it up. And so yeah, it wasn't, like I said, it was like six, between like six to 10 months before I was like, Oh, I can actually probably, you know, make a front end for this actually build some more features and make it a little smarter and actually sell less so.

Colleen Schnettler  6:33  
So was this your first business idea?

Jordan O'Connor  6:37  
Well, um, it was, it's my first like software business idea I had for a while before that, I was I knew I wanted to kind of break free of employment, I wanted to do my own thing. So I had already learned. I learned web development, I learn how to make websites, I learned SEO and I learned marketing, copywriting sales, I kind of like went down this like course track of just like, take a course learn a skill, do it for some people to practice it. And then I kind of like nail down all these things. Yeah, and the first product idea I had actually, it was related to my wife as well, she does art she does like water coloring and hand lettering, things like that. My idea was to make a black paper notebook. And at the time, none existed and none existed with any kind of like premium features. Any of the ones that exist over like, you know, construction paper or something like that was this like awful for artists. And, and that actually would have done really well. But I didn't really have the capital upfront to actually invest in, you know, a physical product. So I ran a Kickstarter, and I think I needed like 13k. And I got like, 11k I ran, I ran probably like, I don't know, I was like $1,500. In Facebook ads, I had a couple months where I was like doing Instagram stuff, and actually learned a ton from that. And I'm kind of glad it didn't work out. Because I feel like what I do now is a lot more. I don't know, it's just more the way I would like to do things. But I learned a ton from that. And that was kind of the first thing I didn't. So the closet tools, like the first thing that I made for my wife was kind of right on the heels of that. And so like it just kind of switched over from there. But yeah, I was trying a whole bunch of stuff even before that, what I was doing when I was doing take taking the courses and learning things as I was actually trying to make, like just do freelancing basically where like, I would learn SEO, and it's like, hey, I'll go out and like do SEO for people. But then it would always get this weird feeling where like, yeah, you know, like, especially with like SEO, like, if you compare some of the like the value that you can actually get out of it. It's like ridiculous. And I'm like, why would I do this for somebody else, I got to figure out how to do this for myself. And so that was I kind of kept doing that. And then I got to the point where I was like, Okay, I'm gonna actually do this, I'm gonna pull all my skills together and actually build something. So yeah.

Colleen Schnettler  8:55  
So I'm really curious about this. I didn't realize when you said freelancing, I just assumed you were doing it as a developer. So you like, took an SEO course. And you're like, hey, let's see if I learned something. And you freelanced as an SEO you who are an engineer, freelance as an SEO consultant. That's right. Yeah, I

Jordan O'Connor  9:14  
mean, I didn't. Yeah, I wasn't like, I was mostly just trying to get something to work. So like, I was just, you know, trying to do it. And also, I kind of just for some reason, I had this mindset of like, I need to practice this stuff. I need to actually get out there and do this stuff, if I really want to know it. So you know, I wasn't really like charging a lot or anything. Sometimes. Sometimes it was like, Hey, I just want to do this for you. And so, so yeah, it wasn't like I was trying to like establish myself as a freelancer, but it was more like, I want to try this. And if the freelance thing works, and it takes off, and this is good, then that's fine. If it doesn't, I'm going to learn these skills and I'm going to you know, use them later on kind of thing. So, but yeah, I was doing that for a while. And yeah, like I made a whole logistics trucking app. front end back end for a friend of mine, and he still uses it today for his trucking company. And so yeah, I did a whole, I did a whole bunch of stuff. Before I really got before I discovered that I wanted to make a product instead of like doing a service. And that was mostly just based on like personality, a lot of times, what would happen is I would start doing the work, and then they would have their opinions and their thoughts about how things should be. And I would be like, No, I'm kind of the expert. I think I know, I think I know what to do here. And they would, they would always contradict, and I just didn't really feel like messing with that. So I was like, the only way I'm gonna make money is if I if I can make a thing and sell it. And if people don't want it, then they don't have to pay for it. And then I don't have to deal with them, you know, in their opinions and stuff. So yeah, yeah. So that way, so I had to go on that journey too. So yeah, a lot a little a lot a little journeys. It was a Yeah, it was a couple years of just just doing stuff, just taking action, and then kind of landed on closet tools.

Colleen Schnettler  10:59  
I think that's so important. You said it was a couple years. Like I feel like we have this perception in the indie space. There's so much information. I you know, I launched my first product in February, and I feel this hard like, some guys like I made $100,000 In three months. And I'm like, What did you make? I love so I love that you I feel like a lot of your messaging from the podcast and your Twitter is you are like, hey, yeah, this thing was super successful really quickly. But I had five years of background that helped me build up the business to what it is.

Jordan O'Connor  11:31  
Yeah, yeah, I think I, I don't know. Yeah, I always, um, I always like to try to optimize for long term results. And a lot of those people are just, you know, really optimized on short term results, it is like this, like, oh, I made this much in one month. But then if you talk to them six months later, they haven't made anything more, it just, they had this little spike, they went up on Product Hunt or something, and, you know, whatever. And so like, to me that, you know, with a with a wife and kids, that's not really sustainable, like you can't just have a spike, and then like, kind of live off that for you know, the rest, you know, so I had to find something that was very stable and sustainable, and then actually grow over time. And I don't, I don't really know why I had that perspective, early on, I think it might may be just a personality thing. But I think optimizing for long term and actually developing great foundational skills, and then building on that organically over time, is so much better, long term, because then you build something that is just growing, you know, on its own. And you don't really have to do too much to it to make it you know, to force things to happen to you know, make it seem like you're making a ton of money or something like that.

Colleen Schnettler  12:41  
So the skills you were talking about, like you said, you spent a lot of time in SEO, and you learned how to do Facebook ads. So he said, so So were there any other like pivotal skills, you think that really helped you see this opportunity and capitalize on it.

Jordan O'Connor  12:57  
Trying to think of the different courses that I took, I think there was really it, it was web development, SEO, and then Facebook ads, Facebook ads was unique, because it taught a lot about sales without teaching sales. It was like it was it was like, you know, because you know, a lot of Facebook ads is mostly just like copywriting expertise, because you're trying to just get something really catchy. But most it was always this weird thing. For each space. It was always interesting, because like the web development course was like you're trying to teach web developers that want to get a job. So that was like the outcome of the course. But then like SEO, it was like, we're gonna teach you SEO, so you can start an SEO agency. And then like, the Facebook ads, it was like, oh, like you can use Facebook ads to sell someone else's product and get like, you know, affiliate revenue or something like that. So the outcome was always different than what I wanted. But I picked up the skills, you know, throughout that. And so because of that, I think I was able to glean a little bit of a different perspective on it. So like with the Facebook ads, I wasn't just trying to optimize my ROI, or I guess, what would you call it Roa? You know, ad spend. So, like, I wasn't trying to do that, I was trying to learn how to make really great, you know, copy and actually sell something to somebody that just saw it for the first time. And they're like, and when they see it, they're like, Oh, this is something I need. And same thing with SEO, I wasn't trying to build a big agency, I was trying to figure out the most optimal way to do SEO correctly so that I could just get organic traffic over time. And same for web development. I was just learning how to make websites, you know, for myself to make my own business not to you know, do it for other people. So yeah, so I mean, I think those are the foundational skills I think those three and then combined with writing over time over the course of the the whole well now it's been like, you know, five years ish, six years and I've been kind of doing that So I've been writing the entire time, I used to write a lot more personally back then. But it was more rambling, it was more like, this is what I think I want to do. And I'm learning this thing. And this is you know, so it's kind of documenting the journey, but also documenting some of my thoughts and emotions around what I was doing. But I think over time, I kind of honed and honed in on a good skill of writing. And I think writing effectively, is one of the best ways to save time in the future, especially when you make a product. You know, if you write really good documentation, if you're really good at communicating via text to your customers, if you're really good at copywriting and selling on your website, then you have to do less one on one sales and saves you time so that you can do other things. So I think writing is like huge. So I think those are kind of like my bundle of skills that I at least I do. And I advocate for other people have different personalities, some people really like going and doing one on one sales, I don't really like doing that. I've never asked a single person to use Clausa tools individually, you know, like they come to my website, they see whether or not they want to have, you know, want to use it. And you know, that's it. I don't have to talk to anybody or anything like that. So. So yeah,

Colleen Schnettler  16:10  
that's really interesting. You mentioned writing. So I was at founder summit last week in Mexico City. And we had a whole workshop on writing. So tell me, do you think the thing that I think I struggle with a lot is, it's like when you have such limited time, and you have children? So you understand? What what is the best way to use that time? So tell me, do you think your personal blog helped you become a better writer and communicator and was worth the time that you put into it?

Jordan O'Connor  16:36  
I do. I do. I think, um, I think it was a combination of that. And Twitter. For me. Twitter is interesting, because a Twitter is more where I used to kind of test writing, where it's like testing for feedback on writing. And especially in regards to like context and nuance because Twitter has absolutely zero context and nuance and most tweets. So if you can write in a way that has enough context and nuance where people get it and it clicks with them, then that's effective writing, because you can write very simple, clear small statements that actually contain enough information for people to like, get something out of it. And so I think that actually was really helpful for effective writing, but then having the blog to document the journey along the way, really helped me refine my thoughts, and then also keep my thoughts in line with like, Okay, this is a long term vision, this is what I'm actually doing. This is what I'm working on, here's how I'm actually progressing towards the goal. And so I think the personal writing, yeah, is more about like staying on track. And Twitter was more about writing effectively, and, you know, writing in a way that, you know, helps people understand, you know, what you're saying better with with a limited amount of text. So, but yeah, I think, yeah, I think writing is super crucial. And I think writing is, you know, just so foundational, even for any other form of content creation, you know, it most of the things can start with effective writing, if you have an effective, you know, piece of writing, you can make a movie out of it, you can make a video out of it, you can make an image out of it, you know, you can make a podcast out of it, you know, there's a lot of different things you can make out of text. Whereas the opposite isn't exactly true. Like if you, if you have a video, it might not end up being a great text piece, you know, like, it doesn't always go the opposite direction. Like even the transcript for this podcast isn't really ultimately that valuable, like you people still have to read through an hour long of text. Whereas if you have effective writing, like you can have just one idea, and you can make a whole hour long podcast episode on that one idea. So that's why I think I think writing is really, really foundational. I think it's, I think it's great.

Colleen Schnettler  18:49  
Yeah, that makes that makes sense. So, when you started closet tools, tell me what was going on in your life at the time.

Jordan O'Connor  18:59  
Um, quite a lot. So um, when I started closet tools, I actually was getting to the point so so if we backtrack a little bit, I, I went to RMIT college up here in New York, for electrical engineering. So I graduated as an electrical engineer, and I started working and I was making decent income was like 80k years, something like that. But right around the time I got hired on I got married, and then about and then we got and then we actually quickly had our first son, which was like, not really planned, but it wasn't like the biggest deal we were like, Yeah, we plan on having kids anyways or like whatever. But it kind of financially things kind of just kept eating away. And so like once I started to start paying student loans and then like I had a kid coming and there was just like all these expenses piling up and my income wasn't really like scaling to that like it was just fixed. So like more and more things are eating away my income and I have like no spare income to do anything with My wife, we had always planned on her staying home with the kids. And you know, like, now we're doing homeschooling and things like that. So that was always the plan. So I was like, I need to figure out something here to like, actually make more money. And so when I started closet tools, that was actually the last thing I was gonna try, it was either that or like, pick up a second job somewhere, like, do something to like, kind of just expand a little bit, so that I'm not in student loan debt for the next, you know, 45 years of my life or whatever. You know, like, that's, I just didn't want that at all. And so, so yeah, so that was like, kind of going on. So I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, I had some urgency to be like, Okay, I need to make something that works. And so I think that's partially why I went with closet tools, because I knew something was working. My wife really liked it, her friends really liked it, I was getting emails about it. So like, it was like this thing, where it's like, okay, I have all these signals that like, this thing is probably gonna, at least, you know, do something I can make, that my intention was to make $1,000 a month, I was like, hey, like, if this thing makes $1,000 a month, great, like, you know, help, you know, pay some bills, you know, and I can like, catch up on some stuff. And like, maybe, you know, it, put some, you know, put some money into savings and stuff like that. So, so yeah, it was a really, really a pretty desperate point in my life. But it was, it was, I was very stubborn, though. Because I really wanted something that I wanted, I didn't really want to, I didn't really want to get a second job. I didn't want to just like make money to make money. I wanted to do something on my own terms, where like, I had the freedom and flexibility to still spend time with my kids and my wife, you know, still come home in the evenings and have, you know, the time together with my family still do things outside of work and things like that. So it was like, I was very, it was a it was a pretty like urgent time. But I also was very picky and stubborn. So like, you know, you know, somebody might say, Hey, you could have just been less stubborn, and you wouldn't have had any of those issues. But like, if I was less stubborn, then I wouldn't have what I had now. So. So I don't know. So it was a little bit of a balance of that. And I think that's partially why it took a little bit longer to get to a point where something happened, that actually worked out really well, because I had to put all those pieces together to make something that worked for me personally.

Colleen Schnettler  22:06  
Yeah. So and that that makes sense. So when you were like, What was your day to day like? So you had a full time job? You're married? You have a baby? Like, how did you do that?

Jordan O'Connor  22:19  
Yeah, so I started right before my first son was born, I started getting up really early. At that time, it was actually really crazy. And I don't know, when I was younger than so like, I had some energy. Now I can't do this, but I was getting up, I was going to bed or like, you know, 1011 I was getting up to like for, like, you know, like, that's it. And so but what I would do is I would actually just work on side stuff, all morning until my day job. And so like, the earlier I could get up, the more I could spend time on that. And the reason why I did that there's a few reasons why I like getting up in the morning. I still do it actually, I get up at five every day. Yeah, there's actually a lot of reasons when you have kids. Nobody's awake. So nobody's like, you know, there's, there's not that like, you know, like, the family is like always distracting. And because they're always distracting, but there's no chance of a distraction, like people are sleeping, they're definitely sleeping, everybody always sleeps until like this time. So like, you know, there's no chance of distraction. So you can enter into work and get focused and understand that like, Okay, I have this block of time, that's, you know, undistracted. The other thing is, like, if you work in the evenings, typically you're pretty tired by the end of the day. And you're also just kind of, you're basically saving your worst amount of energy for this thing that you actually want to be doing. Whereas in the morning, you're pretty fresh, usually, I mean, as long as you just look good, you feel pretty good. You're pretty, you know, your heads, and you know, pretty, like, I'm pretty focused, you're not distracted by a bunch of things, you're not like responding to emails, or whatever your day job is and stuff. So like, to that morning time is pretty free to like, focus and do good work on whatever you want to do. And so that's what I did I for, you know, for the first couple years, I spent a couple months, you know, on each of those different kind of core skills that I learned web development, SEO, you know, Facebook ads, and things like that, you know, I would just take those first couple hours a day, whether it was like taking a course or it was doing the actual work for somebody to practice or doing the work for myself, or it was personal writing, you know, so like, it was like that. So really, I built most of everything in those couple hours every morning. And so that, that to me, like I was able to get a lot of work done in those couple hours a lot more than I was even able to get done like a day job. And so for me, that's kind of how I've modeled even causal is now like, I don't spend more than I don't know, maybe like three, probably four Max hours a day on it. You know, just because you don't really need that much time. In a day to be that productive, you know, the eight hour workday for you know, most jobs is mostly so that you have a window of time, if you want to reach out to like a customer or you want to, you know, be available for a customer to call you or like to reach out to a different company or stuff like that, like there's a window where you like you can do that. It's not actually like you need eight hours to get effective work done. I don't even think you can do Ultra focus work for eight hours, like maybe four hours max, before you're pretty burnt out. So So yeah, so that's, that's how I did it. So I say it all, you know, I used all of my creative energy in the morning to like, do that. And then I just kind of coasted at my day job. I mean, I basically, I got to the point where like, I did really well there. So I worked at Corning, and they make they make advanced optics, which one of the products you make is like a lithography stack. So it's like a stack of lenses that like Intel would use to image their processors. And it's pretty complicated. I didn't actually know anything about the optics, I wasn't an optical engineer, those guys are like nuts. So, but um, I was like in the testing department. So like, I would build systems that would test the quality of the optics. So I did like lasers, and I moved motors to like, move the lenses and stuff. So like, I got to the point where I had like really good autonomy in that position, because like I kind of had done all the things I needed to do at least one. So like most projects I was doing, I was reusing old things that I already did. So then they would still give me the same timeline on a project, they'd be like, hey, we need this piece of software and this like thing done in like a month. And I'd be like, cool, and it would only take me like a week. So then sometimes I did actually have time at work to you know, to do like causal stuff into like, you know, like, if something was broken, I could actually fix it right then. Yeah. And you know, as long as I was writing code, it looked like it was working. So like,

nobody really questioned it. So. So yeah, it was, you know, I, but I came to my management at some point. And it was like, annual review. And they're like, oh, yeah, you're doing good. Like, is there? Like, you know, is there anything that you you know, like, do you want to, like, go big? Or like, what do you what do you want to do here, I'm like, I want to be like, really low key, like, I don't want to do you know, I don't want to be the super save the company, dude. You know, like, I just want to like show up, you know, you give me my work, I'll do my work. And then I'm gonna go home to my family. So I kind of had this like, this vibe of like, almost like a little bit untouchable, where like, you could send me stuff and like, I'll do great work. But you're not going to like make me stay over time and like, do all this bunch of crazy stuff. And like, I'm going to do things at my pace. I'm going to do it, you know, so it's like a little bit of a, so he was just kind of like that. And so yeah, so I don't and I don't know, I don't know if that's actually advice to like anybody else that wants to, you know, do their own thing if that's what they should do. I have no idea. But I know for me, like energy wise, I didn't have the energy to do all that in the morning, and then go to work and then be like, you know, crazy and do a bunch of crazy stuff. So I had to balance it a little bit.

Colleen Schnettler  28:06  
Yeah, I am a morning person. So you're speaking my language here. But I have not tried 4am That's pretty intense.

Jordan O'Connor  28:13  
Yeah, don't do for now. I do five at least Yeah. So yeah. So

Colleen Schnettler  28:16  
so when you were building the business, though, so you would do like four to eight and then drive. That's back in the olden days when we the drive to work. Work like eight to five?

Jordan O'Connor  28:28  
Yep, yeah, yeah, that's what I would do. And I did it day in day out. And so I did that for close to two years before. Well, I did that. I guess I did that for like a total of three years. So I did that for like a year. And then I kind of want to start a closet tools. I worked a job for almost, it was like a year and a half that I worked at job and did closet tools at the same time. Okay, so So yeah, so yeah, yeah, that's, that's just what I did. And looking back, it was really crazy. But it Yeah, it worked. You know, so yeah.

Colleen Schnettler  29:04  
Yeah, I love your point, too, about like your project, getting your best energy in the morning, as opposed to keeping your project till you know, seven to 10pm at night kind of deal. So, it sounds like with closet tools. There was a real poll from your customers. Like you knew you were onto something because people were cold. outreaching to you.

Jordan O'Connor  29:24  
Mm hmm. Yeah, so um, yeah, I don't know if you want me to just elaborate that. Yeah,

Colleen Schnettler  29:30  
go for it. So

Jordan O'Connor  29:31  
basically, what happened is, I you know, I started learning the SEO stuff. So I had already kind of, you know, SEO optimized my personal blog. So when I wrote about this, you know, this topic on my personal blog, I titled it like, you know, like Poshmark automation or something like that. And I just had some instructions on how to you know, how to run this script on your own browser. And so, you know, a lot of those Poshmark related keywords were pretty easy to rank for. And my site had a little bit of a already, so it was pretty simple. But so like, because I had tapped into SEO vein, I already had that, you know, like kind of that in to be able to get people to see what I was building. And then my personal website just has my email and stuff. So like they were able to just email me or whatever. And so, but from there when I actually started closet tools, I actually went on Reddit, I went to the Poshmark subreddit. And I said, Hey, I have this free script. You can you can try it and keep it you all you have to do is sign up on this email list. And you can use this thing. And then what I want from you is I want to get feedback as to what you want built around this thing, like what other features would you want? How would you use this? You know what, you know, what things do you want to see that can help you sell more stuff? And so that's what I did. And I got around like 200 signups in like a day or two. Wow, for that free script. Yeah. And so and that was kind of the the start of everything. And so then what I did was, it was like, I did that post got the 200 signups people tried out the script. And then like a week later, I sent out an email to that list saying, like, Hey, give me some feedback. What do you want to see, and then I got a bunch of emails. And then I spent the next like, four weeks building out some of those features. And then I spent like, the majority of that time just integrating stripe, because I had no idea how to do it at the time. So I had to figure all that out. And then and then and then I lost it like a month later. And I had 10 paying customers right out of the gate. So it was like 300. MRR, like the gate basically. So yeah, so So the initial start wasn't based on SEO was based on Reddit. But I also got banned from that subreddit because they don't like the self promotion and stuff. So it was like kind of this one shot thing where I was like, I'm going for it. I'm gonna sell this thing, and it worked. So then from there, from there, I started writing content. And you know, the SEO, traffic started to take off more. And that's how I've basically built it to where it is now. So

Colleen Schnettler  32:06  
yeah, and word of mouth to probably I mean, people love to the product. It sounds like

Jordan O'Connor  32:10  
Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, yeah. So I say SEO, SEO is the only thing I had control over that, you know, did that. But certainly, yeah, word of mouth, everybody. You know, a lot of my customers have another friend that used it, and they refer to it and stuff like that. And then later later on, probably about two years, and I created a referral program, which is interesting, because like the referral program itself hasn't been like a, like a smashing success. I think it's brought in, I don't know, I think it's like 15k over, you know, a year or two, but like, the whole gross I've made like, I don't know, like 900k. So like, it's not like this huge percentage. But it did bring in a lot of word of mouth. But then also what happened is it brought in a lot of backlinks, which reinforced a lot of my SEO because when people posted their affiliate link, it just linked back to the website. So it was kind of this like a little it was more about the SEO engine for me rather than it was like, you know, the referral program. So yeah, but it also gave a reason for people to you know, talk about it, because they could get, you know, a kickback or whatever. So,

Colleen Schnettler  33:14  
right. So it sounds like that was a win win, even if it wasn't a huge, like windfall. So let's talk about what your life looks like now that you know you are successful. Your business this is not that you weren't before. I'm just saying like

Jordan O'Connor  33:29  
even that I am now I don't know. Yeah, that's what it's all relative. I guess

Colleen Schnettler  33:33  
it's it is all relative. That is true. So when you're building the business, you had these super long days. What do you do now? What is your day look like now?

Jordan O'Connor  33:42  
Yeah. So now we have three kids. We have another one on the way actually, congratulations. Yeah, thanks. Yeah. So February, that'll be you know, I'll be it'll be, it'll be interesting to see how much work I get done. But, so actually, now, like, we have a pretty strict schedule, now, we just kind of came up with it, we've over the course of like, the last year or two, we've been trying to come up with a schedule that works for both of us. And most of it centers around, like, my wife wants to feel put together and like, you know, like she has the house under control and like the kids under control and like you know, like that is gonna run smoothly. And, and but then for me, like, you know, like coming fresh out of like, you know what I was doing before I was like, oh, like I need like that whole morning to just do my best work and then like, you know, free food so but that didn't really work out for her too well, because like she would get up with the kids and the whole day was basically a mess from the start because it's like you're you get up and kids are demanding a bunch of stuff and you're just like, I don't know what I'm doing like, and so now I take the kids as soon as they wake up so I get up at five and I work for I work I kind of I don't know I go back and forth and what I use my morning time for now. And I think if I ever built a future business, I would take them out in time and do that. But now I use, I work from five to seven, and my daughter wakes up at seven, she, we have her train with a light that turns green at seven. So we have that, yeah, she would get up, like, you know, super early if she if she could. So she gets up at seven. And then so I have kids from seven to 10, I take care of breakfast, getting them dressed, and then I just kind of keep things picked up so that the house is at least, you know, in put together a little bit, and then my wife gets up around like seven or eight. But then she has time to, like, take a shower and like get breakfast, she can read, she can write, you know, she has achieved as a journal, she does like the bullet journaling. So she plans out today, you know, so like she has time to, like get put together. And that mostly like for our marriage has like been really awesome. Because it's like, it's just it, she's, she feels good. She comes into the day, the kids are already fed, they're kind of in good shape. And she comes down and it's like, okay, it's go time, like, you know, like, let's, you know, then she does school with the kids. And she you know, she takes him out to programs and stuff like that. So like, she has her, you know, a schedule and stuff that she does with them. And then so then that's when I work is like 10, like around 10am I start working. And then I go off at like three, you know, three or four. And then we kind of just tag team for the rest of the evening. So yeah, so I've worked, I actually end up getting, you know, like seven hours of working every day, so but those first two hours are kind of like free time or like personal time. Like if I have a personal project I want to work on or something like that. I'll do it during that time. So yeah,

Colleen Schnettler  36:41  
that sounds wonderful. So what I'm trying to get out here, Jordan, this is the real question. Were the two to three years of the 12 to 15 hours a day worth it to live the life you're living now.

Jordan O'Connor  36:57  
Yeah. Oh, yeah. 100%. And I think the interesting thing is, I don't think I would have been able to do it now. It would, it would have been really hard. Right? Like, like, back then, you know, when I first started, we had no kids, but then like, we had one kid. But like, you know, even before they start walking and stuff, they're not really like that much work, you know, it's only when they become toddlers is when Okay, somebody's got to be hands on all the time with at least the kids. Yeah. So. So I had your head, that window of opportunity were like, Okay, I have, you know, I can do this, I can put on a lot of hours. Whereas now, I probably couldn't even put in that many hours without some serious strain on, you know, like the marriage and just like our health and things like that. But yeah, I mean, I think it was worth it, I think, um, you know, you kind of have, you know, those those choices in life, it's like, whether you're going to go for it, and you're going to do the thing, or you're just going to sit back and let life happen to you. And so I was like, Hey, I'm going to I'm going to go for it. I'm going to get control of you know, my finances and control over my time and control over my future. And so I did what I had to do to get there, you know, some people start in a different place, and it's easier for them. So people start in a way worse place, and it's a lot harder for them. So yeah, but yeah, I think I think ultimately, it was worth it for sure.

Colleen Schnettler  38:15  
So you kind of made a joke earlier, like 30 seconds ago, when I said you're objectively successful. So I have met a lot of people like who are, are making quite a lot of money with their side projects, not side projects with their businesses. And you know, I've talked to people who are making, you know, $50,000 a month who still feel like they need to push, push, push, because it's not good enough. Where do you fall in that spectrum?

Jordan O'Connor  38:38  
Um, I'm definitely not pushing, I'm not pushing very hard at all. Um, I think, I don't know, I think most of most of my focus right now is on minimizing everything else. So that I can maintain this lifestyle, basically forever, because like, right now, honestly, if anything changed, it would only be for the worse, like, this is kind of like almost as good as it gets. I have like, almost unlimited free time, I get to work on something I want to work on. You know, like my family is well provided for, like, we can kind of schedule our day, however we want it. So those are like, like, there's really no downside. So mostly for me, it's like, okay, like, how can we, you know, get rid of, you know, some of this lingering debt quicker? How can we pay off the house quicker? You know, how can we make sure that you know, like, we're investing and actually growing our wealth, you know, in the background, while we're, you know, in while I'm working so that in the future, you know, if you know, this whole thing blows up, I have, you know, some options and things like that. So, I think for me, that's more of my focus rather than like trying to like, you know, scale closet tools and maximize it and, you know, make a ton of money. You know, I think ultimately, you know, I, I could just go that route and do that. But I think when I have the you know, the three young kids we have a five year old a three year old and One year old. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. So like when they're all young, you know, I want to be there with them. Yeah, I think once they get a little older, you know, they can get a little more autonomous, you know, they kind of can entertain themselves, you know, they have things they want to do. And they can go do that. But for now, like, they're super young, like, I don't, you know, I want to be there I want to be hands on. So I don't want to be like, you know, business dad that was never home, you know, like, off doing his thing. You know, I'd rather I'd rather have a balance of like, okay, like, yeah, I make a decent amount of money. But I also get to spend a lot of time with my kids. So like, why would I try to change that balance, you know, to, you know, for the worse, so. So yeah.

Colleen Schnettler  40:37  
Yeah, that makes that makes total sense. And that's awesome. You're able to do that. Right. I mean, that's, that's amazing. So, yeah,

Jordan O'Connor  40:45  
that's pretty fortunate.

Colleen Schnettler  40:46  
Another question I had for you, I either saw this on indie hackers or Twitter, but you had, it was something like never take other people's advice when you are trying to build a business. Do you remember that?

Jordan O'Connor  40:57  
Um, yeah, I can I can align with that. If I said that. I think you did. It definitely. Sounds like something I would have said. Yeah, I think um, yeah, advice is always so contextual. You know, like, even my advice right now. Like, like I was talking about, like, when, you know, I told my boss, like, Hey, I don't want to be the go to guy. Like, I don't know, if that's the right advice for somebody, maybe that's maybe they need to go hard. You know, maybe they're super lazy, and they need to go harder, or something like that. You know, for me, I was a good employee that wanted to take a little bit of a break, you know, so like, yeah, you know, but you know, so like, you know, people have different, you know, financial situations, they have different family situations that have different health situations, even have different personalities, like I was talking about earlier, where like, some people really want to do like one on one sales, and they really like talking to people and they really like, you know, like, being outgoing and stuff. Like, I don't really like that. So I have to build something totally different. That aligns with me. So like, I run a totally email based business, I don't actually do any calls with anybody. And if you want customer support, you email me like, that's it. Like, I don't have a phone number or anything like that. Yeah. So but for other people, like, you know, they want to be on the phone all day, they want to talk to people, you know, they want to do stuff like that. So, so yeah, I think a lot of a lot of business advice is very, very contextual. And I think until you actually dive in and figure out what works for you, then you're not really going to know what the best advice is, or what advice actually sticks. Because I think, even to a lot of advice, you know, people mean, well, and it does really work for them. But just because it works for them doesn't actually mean it's going to work for you, too. You know, and so like for me early on, like when, when I was taking those courses, you know, a lot of those people were pitching, you know, the the freelancing in the agency style stuff. And so like, I tried it, but like, it didn't work for me, like I was awful at it, like I was terrible at that part of stuff, like I had the great skills, but like dealing with people and like, you know, all that stuff. terrible at it. So like, I was like, I can't make this work, I have to do something different. And so that's how I, you know, got on the, and actually, it was interesting indie hackers launched. I'm trying to think it was about like, a few months before I launched closet tools. It was like, right around that time. So it's actually pretty fortunate because it was cool to, you know, see a group of people kind of doing the same thing that I was wanting to do. You gave me a little bit of confidence to kind of do that. So yeah. But anyways, yeah. So that I think that advice is is I think it most advice is, I don't know, it's mostly worthless. I do think it's interesting to hear people's stories. And as long as they give enough context, like I try to give a lot of context about like, my family, and like, what my financial situation was like, because like, that's the stuff that really matters. Because like, anyway, anybody could be like, oh, yeah, like, learn these skills, and then build a business and you'll make a ton of money. But like, you know, if you don't have the means to actually do that, then how are you? You know, how can you even, you know, attempt to do that? And so yeah, so I think if you can give them enough context, I think some advice can be helpful, or at least helpful enough to where they can be like, Oh, that doesn't even apply to me. You know, like, I you know, like, for me, I see a lot of advice from people that have like, no kids, and they don't like they're not married, they have no kids. And it's like, this doesn't even like you can't do that. Right. Like, I can't do that at all. So yeah, so I think that's important, for sure.

Colleen Schnettler  44:18  
So what's next for you?

Jordan O'Connor  44:21  
Um, I don't really know, I'm trying to figure it out. I think, um, I never saw clauses was as a long term thing, but it's sticking around a lot longer than I thought it was actually gonna stick around. So just kind of hanging out there. You know, I still actually I still build and continue to grow with it, you know, I still, you know, add features to it. And I still do marketing and things like that. But I don't know, I think I think I like I enjoy writing a lot. So I would like to do some sort of writing thing. I am writing a, an SEO sales book called rank to sell. So I'm working on that. Not that I think that that's going to be like my full time thing like Oh, I'm an author now. Because I think, you know, my code is pretty valuable, too. So, um, so yeah, I mean, some kind of hybrid of writing and code. In the future. I'm definitely on board with building more simple SAS products I have no, you know, I would like to do that, even in the same niche, you know, I can serve the same customer set with some different types of tools. And so, there's a lot of different platforms that these retailers sell on. So. So yeah, I mean, honestly, it's just kind of iterative stuff. It's not like anything like, oh, you know, I'm, you know, switching my whole life over to like something else. It's mostly like, hey, like, I'm here. How can I, you know, how can I invest a little more? How can I, you know, add a little more, you know, financial stability, a little more income, or, you know, another product or something, just something a little bit more iterative. And just kind of, like, keep the thing going, basically, it's kind of that's, that's mostly what it is. So, I've been thinking a lot lately about, like, some kind of business that I can get my kids involved in, but I haven't really come up with anything yet. I think it would be super cool to like, have them, you know, work on something with me, but I don't know. That's, that's honestly, that's kind of the dream for me is like, that would be cool. You know, but I don't know. I don't know what that is yet.

Colleen Schnettler  46:09  
Yeah, that would be cool. Wonderful. Well, Jordan, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your story with us. And, you know, teaching us about some of the things that helped you grow closet tools. I really appreciate having you.

Jordan O'Connor  46:26  
Yeah, sure. Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Colleen Schnettler  46:29  
And that will wrap up this week's episode of the software social podcast. Thank you so much for listening. You can find us on Twitter at software social pod

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