What to Work On Next

Colleen gets her first paying customer! But what should she work on next, and which kinds of customers should she focus on?

Colleen Schnettler  0:00 
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Michele Hansen  0:43  
So as you may have just noticed, we have a sponsor now. So exciting. I mean, we, even we so we got we got reached out to you by balsalmic in October, to our official podcast email address, which I actually never checked, because I didn't expect anyone to email us and I found this email sitting there in December. And I was like, Oh my God.

Colleen Schnettler  1:10  
That's funny. I had no idea that they they did that. Yeah, I've never checked our email address either.

Michele Hansen  1:15  
We check it now.

Colleen Schnettler  1:17  
Yeah, it's really it. You know what I'm really happy it was balsamic because I do use them. And I just think it's really cool to have a sponsor. Although now my podcast about my product is making more money than my product.

Michele Hansen  1:29  
You'll get there. It's okay. I don't

Colleen Schnettler  1:32  
get there. I did have one more person sign up. stripe paid me $10 I know $10 I went That's awesome. Wait.

Michele Hansen  1:42  
We straight paid you $10? Is that the first money you've gotten for it? Yes, ma'am.

Colleen Schnettler  1:47  
It sure is.

Unknown Speaker  1:48  
That's a huge moment. Oh my gosh,

Colleen Schnettler  1:50  
it is a huge moment. It's It's exciting.

Michele Hansen  1:54  
I wish you could tape $1 bill to your terminal like

Colleen Schnettler  2:00  
I should ask like, can you like send me like $1 bill from this? tape it up on my wall.

Michele Hansen  2:07  
So this is really exciting. We're really excited to have a sponsor. But you know, this reminds me of something else, which is, it's really hard times right now in the world. Like there's, there's just no getting past that. And if you're listening to this show, you're probably interested in running a bootstrap company, or you're trying to start a side project yourself. And, and I, and I just want to say for a second how, like, yes, this is amazing. And we just got a sponsor. But I also don't want to add to this perception that sort of that I pick up sometimes it's sort of everybody else is doing well, except for oneself. Right? Like, I feel like, you know, on Twitter and everywhere else where the, the community kind of congregates. Like, we tend to share positive things more than we do. things we're struggling with. Right? Yeah. And and I've noticed in a couple of smaller communities I'm in and sort of private places. This this past couple weeks that I've seen more people saying like, Wow, it feels like everybody's killing it except for me.

Colleen Schnettler  3:16  
Yeah, I agree. I think there, there's so much when we share publicly, you know, we're protecting ourselves, and we're protecting our ego. And so we share the good things, and we don't share the challenging things. And it isn't really challenging time. And, and I agree with you, it's important to remember that things are hard. And everyone's coping with the situation differently. Like, just three days ago, I was lamenting how much I missed my full time job because it was so low stress, like it was so much easier than this. And, and you know, some of my friends were able to give me a pep talk. But I was just like, this is a terrible idea. I'm wasting my time. So So I think those emotional highs and lows are, are normal. And I think they're exacerbated right now because of external stresses.

Michele Hansen  4:01  
Absolutely. And, and so I just kind of want to say that, like, if you're finding yourself, not able to focus and are feeling like you're spinning your wheels and things aren't working, like that's okay. And you're okay. And you will be okay. And also at the same time that if you find yourself working compulsively and unable to stop working to the point of, you know, working instead of being your friends and family or things like like like that is also a trauma response in the same way that not being able to do anything is as well. And we all respond to trauma and stressors differently. And no matter how you're reacting, you're okay. And other people aren't sharing the full story of what's going on in their life. So it's not just you that struggling. Other people are too but this is not a current events podcast. It's not a mental health podcast. We're not gonna go into that too much more. But I did just want to make a note of that since I mean, like the last few weeks have been just really hard. But you do have good news, right? amidst all of this, there are somehow good things happening to which is also just mentally confusing.

Colleen Schnettler  5:21  
Yes, so I, you know, I just did mention that emotional swing I had this week, I was like, this was a terrible idea. But, um, things my signups have been pretty steady. And I did get one more customer who has signed up, put a credit card down outside of Heroku. So that makes four or five now. And I have 89 Heroku users. So anticipate being ready to start charging in the Heroku marketplace in a couple weeks. Since I'm averaging. so far. It's been about Yeah, it's pretty exciting. Like I think we're super excited. So of those 89 people or teams, I 40 have actually uploaded files. So for me, what makes it sticky is using it right. So considering how easy it is to sign up, I'm not upset. I feel like that's actually a pretty good number. I'm trying to take each week and focus on one technical thing and one marketing thing.

Unknown Speaker  6:18  
So

Colleen Schnettler  6:20  
because I'm just really struggling with like, I feel like we talked about this every week now that I've launched something is how to prioritize my time, I have to actually figure out what to charge because I'm going to be charging people. Hopefully in two weeks,

Michele Hansen  6:31  
you said you had to the stripe signups for those people who added their credit cards, but they don't have they haven't incurred a charge yet.

Colleen Schnettler  6:38  
No, they had I mean, it's $10. But some one of my friends recommended I changed, I changed the price significantly. His argument was that I'm not really a commodity, I'm acting like a commodity when I talk to you when I think of it in my head. But I'm not really a commodity, because I'm not just providing storage, I'm providing all of this architecture, around storage to help you deal with your files. Like I'm not just reselling AWS buckets, there is someone who does this, by the way. It's you know, and his point was my closest competitor is charging $89. So I should have he his suggestion was just charge 75% of that. Interesting. Yeah, it was an interesting thing. I think that I mean, and you know, I don't know a lot about pricing, but what i what i have heard, and what I've read is that, you know, it's probably easy, if I start out way too high, I can always come down. But if I start out way too low, and I realize I'm I'm incurring a lot more charges than I realize it's going to be harder, not impossible, but it's going to be harder to scale up. So I just need a starting point. And you know, I think I can adjust it. So I kind of been thinking about how I want to do that. Yeah, and I got to sort that out.

Michele Hansen  7:51  
So I was think about this the other day, you said you only have one close competitor, and they they don't even really do like fully do the same things that you do.

Colleen Schnettler  8:04  
Well, since this is this is becoming a, this is this thing I am building is becoming different than what I had intended. And I thought of you because I keep explaining myself by saying, Well, I didn't intend for people to use it with images, I intended them. You know, I intended for them to use it with, you know, all the other files on the internet. But what I have learned from the 40 people that are actually using it is people are predominantly using it with images. So I am slowly rebuilding this, this other service that a lot of rails developers use is called cloudinary. And they're a great company, but they provide this like huge architecture ecosystem, that's just kind of a lot to figure out. If you just want you know, minimal, you know, if you just if you just need a couple files here and there, like using their services, kind of exhausting. But I'm slowly it feels like I'm slowly rebuilding their service, because what I'm finding is people are using it for images. So I just I think and that makes me a little nervous because I'm not trying to compete with you know, this company that is $60 billion a year or something, maybe it's million, a lot of a lot of dollars a year in business. So I don't know. Okay, now I'm kind of off topic, but but I've been trying to think about, like, what who is my market? Who am I trying to serve here? Because I am more and more approaching a similar, you know, a similar service to what they offer. So like, how do I distinguish myself from them? And who can I serve that they are not serving? Like I said, they're predominantly as I understand, like, they hit a lot of rails developers. So you know, maybe once I move to other marketplaces, I'll have more opportunity. And maybe this is all a terrible idea. It's not a terrible idea. This is how I got to like, Oh, this was a terrible idea.

Michele Hansen  9:52  
Why did I do this? That's a perfectly normal thought to have many, many times. Like, I mean, that's a thought I have pretty much Every time I, when I go hiking, and then it you know, afterwards I'm like always, like, that was so great, but like, you know, it's getting dark and you still have three miles to go and you're like, why did I think this was a good idea? That's what building a product is like. So these people who are signing up with you, you said that cloudinary is also focusing on rails developers, these rails developers are signing up with you instead, have you been able to, like grok from them? Why they are signing up with you and not cloudinary?

Colleen Schnettler  10:36  
I have not. And I need to figure that out. That is actually not you know, now that you say that, that is such an obvious thing to try and figure out my, okay, I know I talk a lot on the show, but my hypothesis, and you're always like, Go ask the customer stuff.

Michele Hansen  10:50  
Yeah, it's okay to have hypotheses, I have them all the time, but you have to go test them. That's it's the first step in the process.

Colleen Schnettler  10:56  
So when I think back to why I wanted to build this, as opposed to using cloudinary, it was because there are two things and this may have even changed. But cloudberries focus is not on their upload widget. As far as I can tell, their focus is more on on, you know, the whole ecosystem surrounding handling your images, but not really how you get your images into the store. So they have a widget, but the UI, I think the UI of it is really icky. icky, that's a terrible word. I think the UI that is it's not what I wanted, and the setup, just like I mean, they must have 1000 pages of documentation, because they provide this amazing set of features, but just trying to I set it up on this client's website. And you know, just the setup took hours. So my hypothesis, which I have to test is that people sign up with me, because of the five minutes setup, they set it up, they don't have to do anything else, it is super fast. So if I think of how I can compete with them, I got to pick a different market. It's easy, and it's simple, I don't want to offer 5000 features like they have right like I want to keep my feature set tight. And I want to you know, I also they don't they at least they didn't allow you to have multiple widgets on a page and the product I was working on needed, like multiple widgets on a page. So so there's like little things like that, but I think distinguish, but I think the biggest factor is the ease of setup.

Michele Hansen  12:23  
And so you mentioned they're focusing on like a tight set of features. And on, you know, eight, it sounds like you really want to focus on on a type of customer that is not very well served by them. And, and that's such a critical thing to figure out. Because, you know, if you were to go and just like look at their site, and literally just build a copy of their service, that would probably be a failure, because you're not building the insights of why people don't just use them why they aren't willing to go through that process and put up with that price for it. And so and so I'm curious, like, like, do you feel like you have gotten more commonalities in what people are telling you about why they're using the service. Last time we talked, you had kind of all these different things, and you had people from different functions with with different purposes, and some people within companies and and some people with consultants and front end developers and back end like and like this whole like mix of people. And I'm curious if you've started to hear similarities in your conversations with customers,

Colleen Schnettler  13:37  
in terms of their industries, or in terms of what they're doing

Michele Hansen  13:40  
in terms of the activity that they're trying to do. So like putting this in those the jobs to be done terms, which very much looks at rather than looking at customers by function or industry and you know, looking at things like market size, and all that kind of thing. You instead look at customers by process similarities and people who are trying to accomplish similar things or who are going through similar sets of steps in order to reach their end points. And so I'm curious if you've seen any similarities in those steps? Well, I

Colleen Schnettler  14:13  
think instalment, this is not exactly what you mean, what I'm seeing, which again, I didn't really anticipate, I probably should have though was most people are using it for images, and they're using some people the image collection is a primary goal of the service and the other like it's a secondary goal.

Michele Hansen  14:33  
I think you need to be a little more gentle with yourself and forgiving that you did not first see this coming. I think that's totally normal. And that means that you're that means you're learning and that's valuable. And you know, I think this sometimes there's this perception and sometimes this is how products are built that people just gather in a conference room and decide everything it needs to do and that's everything the customer is going to want and You know, then you spend a year and a half building it. And that's it. But I think that you're learning, right like that, that's, that's valuable. You took what you were struggling with. And now you're learning what other people need to do this with. And so that's, that's exciting. It's a weird feeling. But that's totally okay, that you're learning that people are using it for something else than you had originally pictured.

Colleen Schnettler  15:26  
And what I'm seeing too, and I think there's, like, have a mental block here, too, is, this product is not going to be particularly unique, right? It's not like, like, going to be some cool new hotness that no one has thought of, it's gonna be another like way to handle files. That's okay.

Michele Hansen  15:40  
That's a common thing. Oh, it's just developers needs to do all the time. And if you can save them from wading through 1000s of pages of documentation, and let them do it in five minutes. People appreciate that. But I

Unknown Speaker  15:54  
want to be special. Michelle?

Michele Hansen  15:56  
Look, I'm not doing a cloud AI internet of things take over the world service here either. Okay. Like, not all of us can take over the world. And quite frankly, many of us don't want to, it's perfectly okay to have a boring business that a business will reliably pay for every month and have it be something that gets you blank stares at cocktail parties, or cocktails, or whatever it is we have now. Right? It's okay to be boring.

Colleen Schnettler  16:32  
Yeah, and I think so I think for me, you know, I think for me, it's really with this product, if I'm going to make this work, because there as I get more and more into the image space, there are more and more competitors. And so I think if I'm going to make this work, I have to there's some things I can do. But I have to find the right audience. And I don't know who that's gonna be yet, but I think that's gonna be some trial and error.

Michele Hansen  16:59  
Keep talking to people, you have people coming to you, which is amazing.

Colleen Schnettler  17:05  
Yeah, it's good. And I have a couple, like just a handful of people who are really into it. And we're like, constantly chatting with me about feature requests. And, and so those people are fun. I really enjoy that back and forth of how they're using it and how it's helpful for them. And things like that.

Michele Hansen  17:21  
So you said earlier that you have about 80 users right now is that 80 total signups or 80, people who are actively using it. So I know for Heroku, there's like this rule that you have to have, you have 100 100 people who are actively using it, in order to be allowed out of the, you know, the little protective garden and be able to sell it.

Colleen Schnettler  17:47  
So it's 89. And so I only have to get 11 more people. But those

Michele Hansen  17:51  
are all those people are actively using it, or they're installed or what would

Colleen Schnettler  17:56  
they have installed it, they have gone through the process

Michele Hansen  17:58  
of installing metric that Heroku cares about. Right, okay.

Colleen Schnettler  18:06  
And so this other thing, so I spent a lot of time this week. So I think we talked about a while ago, when someone installs it, they have to make it to the second step, single sign on in order to get like all the good stuff. And I spent a lot of time this week wrapping up the Heroku platform partner platforms API, because using that API, I can actually get their email address before they hit single sign on. But it's like, it takes like four API calls. It's ridiculous. But the cool thing I discovered when I was playing around with this API, I can also get their website. Oh, so tell. Yeah, so tell me if this is cool or creepy. So I was thinking of like, one of the things I should do is I could do my goal will be like maybe five to 10 people a week, I'll like hit the API, I'll get their website. And I'll actually like, check out their website, see how they're using it, and then send them a personalized email about like, Hey, I saw you're using it this way. And, you know, I was, you know, as, like details. Is that awesome? I think that's brilliant. Is that really?

Michele Hansen  19:08  
Yeah, I think so. Like, you know, if somebody is using a corporate email address, and it's the, that's the website, where they're using it,

Colleen Schnettler  19:16  
it's nothing like secret like this is a

Michele Hansen  19:18  
web I think that's cool. Like, you know, I mean, being like, hey, like, I checked out your site, like I would love to hear more about how this fits into your process and what you're trying to accomplish.

Colleen Schnettler  19:28  
So when I target those people, should I target the P i? You tell me what you think that I'll be back? Should I target the people who are already actively using it? Or should I target the people who are not actively using it? I mean, what do you think? Or just go through them all?

Michele Hansen  19:43  
I think you could do both like and you know, there's the the already signed up and using it email could be something along the lines of, Hey, I noticed you've, you know, you started using this service. I would love to hear about what you're working on and how simple file upload fits into Your process and what your overall project look looks like. And then the people who are getting started, and I noticed you just signed up, I love to hear more about what you're planning to use it for, and why you've chosen to use this over alternatives or what other alternatives you're considering to try to do whatever it is you're trying to do. Because I think that question of why are people choosing you over alternatives will tell you so much about your audience and what your product should focus on?

Colleen Schnettler  20:30  
I'm a little afraid if I asked them, they're gonna ditch me and go pick someone else.

Michele Hansen  20:35  
That's okay. I mean, that's it, that's it,

Colleen Schnettler  20:37  
they're gonna be like, Oh, I didn't even know about this other service. I'm out of here.

Michele Hansen  20:41  
You know, I mean, that's, you know, that's the the fear of you, you go to the prom, and your date sees everyone else there. And it's like, why the hell am I with you. And I think as most of us can attest, that doesn't actually happen. You know, people might be doing a, you know, ai process to evaluate vendors. And if they're doing that, and they'll tell you that, and they'll tell you, which other vendors they're looking at, and how they're comparing them. That is a goldmine of information. Like, that's really valuable, like the reasons why they choose somebody else, like, the thing is, is somebody says, Well, we want with this other service, because they do X, Y, and Z, and you don't do that, that could, like with that information, you have a choice with what you do with that, you can either decide to go copy those features, or you can decide, you know what, this doesn't sound like a customer. That's right for me, like, it sounds like they're doing trying to do something that for whatever reason, is not something that's within your your wheelhouse, or, you know, the, you know, if they tell you that they went with another provider, because they're SOC two compliant, then that's not like, that's like, okay, that I wasn't going to get that customer anyway. But if they tell you, it's because of some simple difference in the feature, then that's something that's very actionable. You know, unfortunately, for you right now, there are, you know, product based reasons why people, especially like teams, and, you know, operational people within a company will choose a product. And then there are also, you know, procurement and operational reasons why they will choose something else that have little to do with the actual features of the product. And I think it's really critical to try to distinguish between those, because some of them are actionable for you, at the moment, and some of them may not be and are just kind of things to just file away for later. But getting some detail on that can be really helpful.

Colleen Schnettler  22:40  
Yeah, I mean, more information, I think, at this stage is, is good, yes, as much

Michele Hansen  22:45  
information you can get from your customers like, and that's why it's so key to get them on the phone and get them comfortable talking to you. Because people will be more open. Talking on the phone. And I specifically say talking on the phone, even though it may be over zoom, because if you can, when you're doing the calls with customers, schedule them as a call, not as a video chat. First of all, most people are so tired of video chat at this point. But I find that people are more willing to be open with you when you're like disembodied voice and they can't see your face, then they then they are in video. Now there are some cases where you know, you need to walk through something with someone or you need to see their screen or, which is also really helpful. When I when I'm scheduling things, I purposefully mentioned that it's going to be audio only. And I find you know if you can get your customer rambling about what they're trying to do, like that's a dream scenario, like, you know, yeah, get as much information as you can and and take notes and find some way to make that information usable in the future, even if it's just throwing it into a Google Doc. So you can control a search it later on for keywords.

Colleen Schnettler  24:01  
Okay, yeah, that's, that's a great idea. So, yeah, so I'm really just trying to prioritize what to do next. I'm trying to do one marketing and one technical task a week. But I'm finding like, especially in this early stage, there's a lot of technical work like I was having the server timeout issues because of the way I'm processing thumbnails. So I had to deal with that this week.

Michele Hansen  24:21  
There's always technical work. I don't

Colleen Schnettler  24:23  
want to get too sucked into that to the point where I forget that I need people to sign up. Right. So that's always the balancing act. I think as developers too, you're so tempted to work on all the technical things and just push the marketing things aside. And when I looked at my day, when I when I looked at my week to review for this podcast, it was mostly technical and like one tiny marketing thing. So next week, I want to hopefully flip that a little bit and do more marketing. I am trying to decide like kind of what I should do next. I'm thinking more documentation. I was thinking Maybe I shouldn't make them put a credit card in maybe for the for to sign up. I was thinking, what else was I thinking? I was thinking I should go on another marketplace, like I'm all over the place with what to do next. Any suggestions?

Michele Hansen  25:15  
Have you had people bring problems or issues to you that could be solved by more documentation?

Colleen Schnettler  25:22  
No, but you can't really access the good documentation until you have signed up. So I Hi, I am someone myself, before I sign up for something, I want to read all your documentation, because I want to know if it's gonna work for me, before I go through the signup process. So on my main website, I don't have any documentation, you have to actually sign up and go on to your customized dashboard to get like the good the good information.

Michele Hansen  25:48  
Yeah, I'm looking at this right now. And I'm seeing that and our documentation page is consistently one of our top entry pages.

Colleen Schnettler  25:57  
Okay, I think that should probably I think, again, I know, we talked about this when I did documentation last time, but you know, you tend to kind of draw you I tend to kind of drag my feet on it because it feels monotonous. But I added this feature for someone and I'm not even documenting it anywhere. So no one else can use. It sounds like that's no good. So I think for this week, like my goal will be to shore up some documentation.

Michele Hansen  26:21  
Yeah, I think that's great. And you the other things you talked about around not reclaiming your credit card or changing the pricing level. Those are really important things big, big things that that. I mean, people will test all the time. It sounds like this documentation thing is something very concrete, that you can get out there easily. And where you're saying that it's more difficult to gear yourself up for doing marketing work. I think that makes a lot of sense to start there. Because it feels like something you can easily like check off the list and it feels done.

Colleen Schnettler  27:01  
Yes. And it's not that I don't like the marketing work. I think what I really want to learn through this process is how to do market like part of this, you know, a lot of people who in you know, while while I was getting my pep talks, a lot of people mentioned that maybe this isn't a great idea. But most people who are successful eventually, it's because their emotion. So for me personally, being in motion is better than sitting around reading about other people being absolutely, yeah, yeah. So the marketing stuff I do want to learn, but I've gotta be honest, like, it's all new to me. And I'm just kind of tired.

Unknown Speaker  27:39  
Yeah.

Michele Hansen  27:40  
Tired learning, like so as we talked about, like earlier, when the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It's hard to, to focus on like growing and learning and finding the mental space for that when things are not stable is very difficult. And, you know, I find it tough, sometimes you just need to focus on things that are tasks and like that you can just bang out tasks, like that's what I find a lot of myself doing, right, because like, like I had to plan some very deep work projects for the next couple of months. And because of locked down in school closures, I've I've had to shelve all of those. And so I'm just doing those small task type things. But that's still productive work. It's you know, the the technical work you're doing is still helpful. As long as you're not kind of going down. Wild Goose chases of things that are very tangental to what you're trying to do.

Colleen Schnettler  28:49  
Yeah, yeah. And that's why I think the documentation this week is a great goal for me, because it is very, very needed and very kind of easy, you know, it'll take a chunk of time, but I know how to do it, I can just do it and check it off. And see if that moves the needle on signups.

Michele Hansen  29:07  
It'll take some time to show but that's really it's a really interesting insight that you like noticing your own behavior when you are looking at a service yourself and making mental notes of Okay, what am I doing here? What are the different things that I'm considering? What are the different behaviors I'm doing like the firt? You know, the first thing I'm going to look at the documentation. And then using that to improve your own product, like being able to sort of sit on your own shoulder and observe yourself and then use that information for your own product is a really valuable mind shift.

Colleen Schnettler  29:44  
Yeah, totally.

Michele Hansen  29:46  
That's gonna wrap up this week of software social will talk to you next week.


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