What is Software Social?
Two indie SaaS founders—one just getting off the ground, and one with an established profitable business—invite you to join their weekly chats.
Michele: Hey, welcome back to software.
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Colleen: Good morning, Michelle.
Michele: how are you?
Colleen: I'm all right.
Colleen: Yeah, feels like a
slog and it's only January 13th.
So I am.
Uh, I don't know what it is.
I think usually everyone's exhausted.
This is normal.
Michele: so I, you know, so you send
out your January investor update, even
though you don't have investors, but it's
like, that's like the form of writing.
Um, you're talking about how you
were exhausted, uh, another company
whose investor updates, I guess.
They're talking about being exhausted.
I was talking to another
founder this morning.
They're talking about being exhausted.
Like everybody is exhausted.
Like, I feel like that
normal, like it's a new year.
Like energy like that.
Like there is none of that energy
and everyone is just exhausted.
Colleen: Honestly, I'm kind
of glad it's not just me.
Cause I was like, is there
something wrong with me?
Like I'm not usually exhausted.
That's not my Mo but man, this
month, like just trying to just
everything with the kids and school.
And it's like every day it's like,
oh, or the school is going to be open.
Oh, are we all going to get COVID today?
Like it, it just feels like
a, you know, like an anvil or
something like just waiting
Michele: Yeah, I feel like we're Mathias.
And I really talking about see you the
other day and like, We were like, we feel
this like stress to get a lot done because
it's like, it feels like a matter of time
until our family gets hit, like with,
and then we're going to lose what, like
week two, or maybe have like permanent
long-term exhaustion, like from it, like,
you know, It's just like, I just sort of
feel like w like sitting ducks, you know,
Colleen: It does.
Someone said something to me and they were
like, and they made a really good point.
They were like in 20, 21, things
were bad, but we were optimistic.
And so it's 20, 22.
And I don't think anyone's, I
Michele: We just, exhausted.
Colleen: just exhausted.
Like, I'm just, I've been thinking
about it since I sent that.
So I was not even going to send it.
I was like, you know what?
I don't even care.
I don't want to do that.
And then I was like, you know what?
I actually got some
stuff done in December.
And the, the value, I think for these
investor updates and just side note
for anyone listening, even with a new
business, I would highly recommend
finding one or two trusted friends and
sending them monthly updates because
it's so cool to be able to go back.
When you think you're making no
progress, I have this podcast, I
can go listen to it from a year ago.
Being able to track that
progress is really cool, which
is why I started doing them.
But this month I wasn't
even going to do it.
I was like, eh, I don't feel like it.
And I was like, well, you know, I'll
look back on this in six months and I'll
be like, what was, what was January?
Like what was December?
So I'm glad I did, but as you
know, the tone of that was very
much like, Hey man, I'm tired.
Like, I'm just, I'm just tired.
Michele: Yeah, I, I hear a lot of, that.
I mean, you're a pretty
like peppy, positive person.
And so hearing you say that
you're exhausted, I feel
It's really a sign that like
Colleen: Yeah, I, I kind of,
Michele: of this.
Michele: And like, Mateus is
pretty upbeat and positive too.
And he's like, oh, I'm So stressed out.
Colleen: So I, you know, and
it's this stress that you can't
dissipate in any of the healthy ways?
, one of my life goals, is
not to be the working mom.
Who's always exhausted.
I tried to optimize my life, so I
am not exhausted, but man, just the
past couple of weeks, every night,
my husband and I have just been
like, oh my gosh, we're so tired.
and can't function
It's I mean, I've been like trying
to do Sudoku at night, rather than
scrolling Twitter or whatever.
I've actually been really good about that.
Like, it was one of the habits I've been
cultivating from, um, atomic habits is
that like my phone lives in the office.
At come 6 30, 7 o'clock during, when I'm
home, my phone is like put in the office.
It's not laying around the house,
but then from like seven o'clock
onwards, Stays in the office.
And like the last couple of times, it's
like, I can't, like, I've been making
like stupid errors on like, uh, easiest
levels to docu, like, and it was just
like pan, like w where is my brain?
Like, where is my mind?
Michele: Um, but actually like,
my burnout is kind of better.
I feel like we should probably, I should
probably just throw that pin out there
Let's talk about it.
Michele: and then we can come back
to your investor update because.
Colleen: yeah, I can talk more about it.
Michele: about that.
Um, but I like over the
holidays, like I actually took
a break, like, and I treated It.
Like I was on, you know, PTO from a
regular job, like, and just relaxed
and like, didn't try to do things.
Didn't try to squeeze work in like,
cause I have this bad habit of like,
if an email comes in and it'll take me.
10, 20 minutes to deal with it,
then I'll just do it then, because I
don't want it hanging over my head.
And, but then that leads to this feeling
where like I'm always kind of working.
And so like, even on pretty much an every
vacation for the past, you know, I mean,
do you go to your turns eight this month?
So like for the past, like eight,
but more than that, because we had
other side projects before that, like.
Like, I just always had some sort
of work to do on vacations or viewed
vacations as a time to get extra work
done because I wasn't doing day job work.
Um, and so this time I
was like, you know what?
I really need to just like, take a break.
And so we did a lot of crafts.
We played video games, we did a little bit
of organizing the house, but not too much,
like didn't force myself to be productive.
I read a couple of books, like
just like baking, like just really
relaxed for the first time in,
Colleen: Eight years,
Michele: nine yeah.
Colleen: nine years.
Now I'm saying that as, yeah, I have.
Uh, and, and also doing some reading
about, you know, uh, why I both
feel So drawn to stress, but also.
Very impacted by it.
I'm reading this book called scattered by
minds by, um, Gabor Bhate, which is a book
about the origins and healing of ADHD.
And like talking about how like, feeling
stressed out feels like a normal, like
the normal state of things for a lot
of people with ADHD, but we're actually
more sensitive than people who are.
Who are, you know, who, who are, are
the neuro-typical people, I guess.
And so the stress impacts us
more, but we keep seeking stress
because it feels normal to it.
But then we just like, just
drive ourselves into these holes.
Um, so yeah, so like I actually relaxed,
I've been doing more, you know, healing,
work, healing reading, but not too much.
I also read some novels, like, you know,
um, But I'm feeling a lot better about
all the burnout stuff, but I think I
really need to keep being conscious
about, um, trying to re I like working
at relaxing, I guess that, yeah.
You know, those kinds of things, like
not, not looking at my phone at night and
like, you know, last night it was, there's
like this contract I've been working on.
Um, and like something came in for
it and like at like nine o'clock
last night and it was like, oh, like
I just do this for like 15 minutes.
Then we're like at signature stage, I get
so close, but I was like, you know what?
Like, I can reply to them in the morning.
They're probably still gonna reply to it
tomorrow anyway, because like that, like,
like I don't have to do this right now.
Like I can sit and watch parks
and rec or do Sudoku or what.
Um, like I can relax, like giving
myself permission to relax.
Um, I'm not all the way there yet, but
it's, but it's really like, it's, it's,
it's a lot better than it was in November.
And it really, I mean, to what
we were just talking about, like,
it really helps me to know that a
lot of people go through this too.
Like I think, I think that, you know,
Bernay brown talks about like, you know,
the only feeling is it the only feeling
worse than shame is feeling alone.
And when you're going through something
tough, like whether that's burnout
or COVID burnout, exhaustion, like
stress, whatever, this is like, it
really helps knowing you're not alone.
Colleen: So how long was your vacation?
That was actually a vacation.
Michele: It was a week in the house.
We were supposed to be in the U S and
then we had to cancel it because COVID.
Michele: But, um, you know, I
think it ended up being good.
And I'm also looking forward to seeing
you in California at the end of March
It's like eight weeks or something.
Michele: come home.
It needs to be further away
to give COVID time to calm
Colleen: 10 weeks.
I know, right?
You better be here.
Michele: come on America.
You could do it.
Um, But you don't, I mean, for
like, you know, your update, it.
was like, it was really honest and it.
was really, um, you know, you were saying
you're exhausted, but like, I think
despite that, like you got a lot done and
I think you have a lot to be proud of,
Colleen: I think so like, yeah, go ahead
Michele: well, you just, just say
like, you have this list at the top.
It's like December goals and
how I executed on them, overhaul
the documentation to be more.
You have been talking about image
resizing, like for A really long time.
content rollout, like, and talking
about how having Cory Hanes on
like really helped you with that
and getting that going and okay.
There's two things you didn't do, but
like, dude, you got something done
that you have been talking about doing
like the documentation you've been
talking about doing that forever.
The image resizing you've been
talking about doing that forever.
The content you've been
talking about doing that for.
Like, like you got a lot done.
Colleen: I did.
So to our listeners, as I mentioned, I
started doing these investor updates,
even though I don't have investors.
So it's just a small group of very
trusted friends, um, who also have
sasses from all levels of success.
Yeah, I got a lot done in December,
which is why when I was like,
I am too, literally Michelle,
I was like, it's January 12th.
I sent that yesterday.
I was like, I am too tired.
I didn't do anything like I'm new.
I have no January goals really.
I mean, they're teeny tiny.
So I was like, I'm not going to send it.
And then I was like, wait a second.
I did a lot in December, so
I actually did do a lot.
The documentation thing is huge.
And the image resizing, those.
I have been feeling that those
are like really critical pieces
to this piece of software.
So actually feel really good about that.
And can I tell you this too?
I told the story about how
I found this guy to write my
article on the podcast yet.
Colleen: Oh, I got to tell you the story.
So this was inspired by Corey
Haines who came on software social.
And if you heard that episode, one
of the things Corey talked about
is this idea of co marketing.
So he has this theory that if you're
marketing to developers, like you kind of
want to find influencers in the developers
sphere and co-market with those people.
So it's kind of like a partnership.
Like if you like my thing, you promote
my thing, I promote your thing.
He said, this is like a totally normal
thing to do in the marketing world.
And this had never occurred to me.
So what ended up happening
is I cold emailed two people
and I did not hear back.
Um, one had a YouTube ch whoa.
That was Michelle's water glass.
She's just getting a little aggressive.
Michele: We'll edit that out.
Colleen: So I cold emailed two people
that had rails like YouTube channels.
And I did not hear back.
And then I found this article
that I really liked, and it
was tangential to content.
I am trying to produce.
And the guy doesn't have an email address.
So I'm like internet,
internet stalking this guy.
Um, I'm like, I find his GitHub
profile, no email address.
He's like, oh, if you want to
reach me, you can get on telegram.
I don't have telegram.
I didn't even have telegram was
so I like installed telegram.
I can't use it on my computer cause
apparently I just can't figure it out.
So I have to like install
telegram on my phone.
And then I reached out to this and this
guy's like in another country, I think.
I don't know.
Um, so I reached out to this
guy on telegram and like I
did not expect to hear back.
And he wrote me this amazing article about
using node and direct uploads with S3.
And I was like, this is the coolest thing.
Like, it was just such a neat, like
that whole chain of events, like
Corey inspiring me, me not hearing
back from people then be like
randomly finding this guy who wrote
me this super high quality article.
I don't know.
It was just cool.
Michele: You really worked for.
Colleen: I did.
I feel like, especially the telegram,
because you haven't, you'd have to
take a picture like, oh, now I have
to take a picture of selfie with
my phone and put it on Telegraph.
It was a whole thing anyway.
So where I'm going with this long
story is I have many times spoken about
my challenge with content on here.
And I think I have, I have
said that I have hired someone.
I have tried people per hour.
Paid at least three people on people
per hour, and I have never been happy.
And so my new strategy is going to
be find, go to medium or dev two or
wherever people are blogging and find an
article that is tangential to the topic
I am looking for and directly contact
the person who wrote the article and
ask them to write an article for me.
Colleen: I know I'm kind of excited.
I mean, it works so well this time.
It won't always work well, but the
two people who have written for me.
Both of those people.
I'm the first person who wrote for me,
his name was drew and I found him through
a social software developer group.
I'm part of, and he had
previously written on dev too.
So I could like read his stuff
and I was like, this guy's legit.
I want him to write something for me.
So that's my new plan instead of trying
to use Fiverr people per hour Upwork.
Michele: So I actually hired some
people to write some content this week.
So maybe this will become a little sub
theme for us of us like managing content
Colleen: content, right?
Michele: like workloads.
So like we had this idea for a long time
to hire existing users, to write tutorials
about the stuff they're already doing with
. So like, you know, if they're integrating
it into like Metta base or air table or.
You know, whatever, um, like writing
a step-by-step tutorial about that,
which has been a, um, a pretty good.
SEO strategy for us.
It's just step-by-step
tutorials in general.
Um, but we just like, don't have time to
write them about all the different tools.
And so we send out an email in December,
um, saying like, Hey, does anyone
want to write articles about stuff?
And you know, we'll pay you
and like, let us know what you
would want to write about So.
Um, I'm actually like signing agreements
with like a handful of people kind of
as a test and sort of like, you know,
I've said I'll hire them for like one
article and we'll see how it goes.
I think it's really important to
us that to what you said, um, Like
that there's quality work and people
like get our product and what we do.
And so That's kind of our, I
like my theory with us is that
if we hire existing users, then.
That's already a certain
level of screening.
Like they, like, if they've used
our API before, there's a level of
like technical understanding there.
Of course it doesn't mean they can write,
but like if they've raised their hand and
said they can right then I don't know.
So we'll see how it goes.
Colleen: That's cool though.
I like that idea too.
That's a great idea.
Michele: I mean, of course we have you
know, tens of thousands of users to draw
from, which is not a luxury that you had.
So we're kind of taking two
very different approaches to.
Content production here.
Colleen: that's cool though.
I think, I mean, that sounds
like a great way to go about it.
I mean, one fear I have is like, if people
ask us, like for further details on how to
do something, Uh, yeah, we don't actually
use super base, so I'm not quite like,
So I guess that's it.
But that's like a future.
That's a problem for, for, for
future Michelle and Mathias.
Not right now.
So, but she is something else for your
like January goals that you talked about.
Like you said, you have really
small goals, but I feel like your.
I feel like you're kind of underselling
that because like your one, like your top
goal was launch a free plan on Heroku.
And I'm just going to read this.
I went to do this the other
night and realize I write wrote
all the code three months ago.
I do this a lot, get 95% of the
way done and then have to shift
my focus to something else.
So this should theoretically
be a very small step.
Also a friendly reminder to myself
that I get something 95% done.
I should finish it.
I'm usually working at night
and I'm tired when I finished.
So I think, great.
I'll do a final review in the
morning, but of course the morning
comes in my day job takes precedence
and the context gets lost,
Michele: which I think is
like, so yeah, so common.
Like I remember how that.
happening with us when we were working,
it's actually like as a side project.
So you're just constantly pulled over to
other things, but like, But like, first
I want to say that that's not like may.
So maybe it's a small thing.
Work-wise because you only have 5% left
in it, but like value wise, like I think
you're under selling the amount of value
that could create for the business.
And only thinking about it in terms of
the time that you'll like, that feels very
Colleen: I see what you're
Michele: in terms of the amount of time
left on it, versus the amount of value.
It will create for the business.
Colleen: Yeah, you're right.
I didn't, I
Michele: Like it's not a small thing.
Colleen: It's not a small thing, so
no, it's not a small thing at all.
I think, you know, Corey and
Chris, um, friends of ours have a
podcast called default alive and
they were talking about something.
Corey, who, a marketing guy
who was on this podcast talks
about is he was talking about.
Sometimes you just need more
people at the top of the funnel.
He was like, he works with a lot of
people who want to optimize for what
they already have, and that's great.
You should optimize your articles
or whatever, but he was also like,
sometimes you just need more, like you
need more top of the funnel, which I
didn't even know what that meant before.
But now that means for people who
are new people who are trying.
And so you're right.
I did not think about it that
way until you bring it up, it's
theoretically a small push from a
technical perspective, but it could be
really big from a value perspective.
I still think, yeah, go ahead.
Michele: no, just like thinking
about your exhaustion, like if
you've got something to do, that's
like a small lift of work-wise, but
like a huge value to the business.
Like that's like, that's a great thing
to get done because I could really give
you just, you know, it's not going to
solve all the worries in your life, but
like little bit of a boost, you know?
Colleen: yeah, what I'd really
like to do, um, is do like,
and I'm not going to do it yet.
Cause I want to do one experiment.
But I really, I mean, if you look at
the way, you know, Nick was on from
Bonzai, like if you look at bond size
pricing or paper trails pricing, or
century's pricing, or any of these Heroku
ad-ons, they have all of these tiers.
So usually it's a free tier.
That is like a $12 tier.
Then it's like a $25 tier.
Start at 35.
So I think eventually my goal would be
free tier like $18 tier before like a
tier in between, between free and 35.
Um, that's a lot that I'm not definitely
not going to do right now, because
again, that's, that's a big lift.
That's a lot more, but, um, I think I've,
I've um, what's the word psychologically
or subconsciously been dragging my feet
on the free tier a little bit, because.
I'm a frayed.
I don't know if afraid is the right word.
I am curious, interested to
see if I suddenly am like,
have a delusion of requests.
Like as soon as you have a free tier,
you're going to get all kinds of feature
requests and this request, and it's hard
to filter those in terms of who would
actually pay for this and who wouldn't.
Michele: I mean, we have tens of
thousands of free users and we don't
You do tens of thousands.
We have a lot of users Colleen
Colleen: I forget.
I mean, it's cause you're
Colleen: dude, it's so funny.
Someone once said something about
your business on another podcast
and they were like, oh yeah, they
probably do 10 to 20 K a month.
And you were like, uh, not exactly.
Michele: And we were by like, Oh,
I guess we've been like really good about
not being like, you know, ostentatious.
Also that's wildly inaccurate.
So maybe we should like that's.
I was like around the time I was
like, okay, I guess in the book, I
actually have to, like, I have to say
something so that people know it's like
Michele: know, I kind of
know what I'm talking about.
Like maybe, um,
Colleen: I think honestly, I don't know.
I haven't launched the free tier.
I have no excuse.
The code is literally done.
I need to take two hours.
The thing is like I wrote my
own email sequence and until
it's, so it's like, it's.
I'm laughing because it's a little
ridiculous, but so if you are on a free
tier and you have really low storage,
like 20 megs for most people, 20 megs
is going to be like five to six images.
Like it's not a lot.
So I wrote my own email sequence, which
is like, oh, if you've hit, what did I do?
10% or no, I think I did.
Like, if you put 50% of
your storage, send an email.
If you hit 70% of your store, Send
an email if you had 90%, but if I've
emailed you in the last three days,
don't send another email or something.
So I came up in my head with
no, no external influences.
So it's probably a little
ridiculous of this email sequence.
How frequently I'm going to email you
as you approach your storage limit.
I think I did 50, 70, 90, but if
you hit 50% and then you hit 70% and
it's within a day, I don't send you
another email because that's annoying.
But if you hit 90%, I always send you.
Something like that.
Anyway, I did something like that.
And so I have to like check that I'm
not, extraneously sending people emails
and I have some specs around it, like
some automated testing around it, but
I want to walk through it a few times
to make sure it's not ridiculous.
Michele: Would it make it easier
for you to just send people
an email when they hit 90?
So then when they get the email.
Why didn't you say that?
Three months ago?
Michele: I'm sorry.
I only say that because we have, so
we have our unlimited plan, right.
Which is like our not rate limited
plan where people get, they, they
basically get their own dedicated server.
We're like a weird SAS where we have.
Um, and, um, and then people, but like
if people, So people could process like
5 million lookups a day on a single
instance, but then, and so we added this
dashboard like last, like a year ago now.
Where they can see the
like instance health.
And then if they get to 90%
capacity, it sends them an email.
That's like, Hey.
You're in danger of overloading,
your instance, like consider
adding an additional instance.
Michele: and it only fires at 90.
Colleen: If they overload their
instance, you automatically upgrade
them or do they just host and they're
Then they, then they,
just slow themselves down.
Colleen: so you just
like rate, limit the API,
Michele: no, no, it's just that they, they
just start overloading their server base.
Colleen: so then their apple at work.
Michele: sort of a, like don't
accidentally DDoSs yourself,
you know, either cool it or add
resources in more professional.
Colleen: I'm a poor professional.
So this is what I've been
trying to figure out.
So talking to customers, one of
the things people really like about
my service versus an AWS is as you
know, AWS just automatically charges
you more like your, your app never
goes down, they just roll you.
You know, if you a hit, you know,
they don't really have limits.
I mean, there's ways you can set
limits, but the default is we're
not limiting anything, but we're
going to charge you more, which
is why people get surprised AWS.
Colleen: Two people have told
me that what they like about my
service is they will never have a
surprise bill, but the problem is.
I want to give them ample time to
upgrade if they need to, because
if they go over their limit, like
their user cannot upload files.
Like I sh I mean, you know, I
have a little grace period, but.
So I'm just, I guess the reason
I was doing all those emails was
so they would be like, oh, okay.
I'm at 50%.
I should put this in the back of my mind.
Cause if they hit a hundred
percent, um, they won't be able
to upload any more files and maybe
Michele: always hitting 50,
it's not like it's never
Colleen: it's useless.
Michele: item for them.
And Then if they hit 90 and
then it's like, okay, I need
to do something about that.
And then they don't do something about it.
And then their user can upload files.
Then that is a, that, that is
what, what do they call it.
I forgot the word for it, but it's
basically, oh, scream test, right?
Like if then their user reaches out
Colleen: Never heard that
Michele: Oh yeah.
So yeah, people use scream tests in the
context of like, you know, if somebody
is like not paying you, for example, then
you just like shut off their API access.
Like as a screen test.
to see if like they're paying
Colleen: they care.
I love it.
Michele: so like, So then it's so if
their customer reaches out and says,
Hey, like your thing, isn't working.
Like I need to like go upgrade that plan.
And I just got that email
saying we were at 90%.
Let me go do that.
Like to me, like if they're regularly
using, you know, I don't know, five
out of the 10, for example, let's
say they're, they're regularly using
10 out of the 20 minutes that they
get or whatever the numbers are.
And that's just how much they regularly.
They regularly use the same
amount that happens to be 50%.
Like they're going to get this email all
the time and it's just going to be noise.
And like, we, like, I mean, we all,
I feel like we all get way Too many
alerts and notifications and like, you
know, just like pings from like all
the various monitoring services and
stuff to the point where like, it's,
there's like a lot of fatigue that goes
on with what's actually important and.
Colleen: I love
Michele: err, on the side of only sending
an alert, if it's like actually important.
No, this is really great.
I spent, you know, I mean, of
course there's a sunk cost fallacy.
Like I spent all
Michele: they don't pay you like,
you know, email the shit out of
them, but like for this, like,
Colleen: no, this is great.
Cause you're at you're right.
There's a lot of noise.
And I had, like I said, I built this
whole sequence, which is ridiculous.
I'm like, oh,
Michele: then you have to test it and
Well that's why I haven't
launched the free plan.
Cause I was like, I need to walk
Michele: Is this.
email was holding you up.
Colleen: Yeah, this is
what's holding me up.
You've saved the day,
Colleen: like this is
literally the only thing.
Michele: Oh my God.
Colleen: Oh my goodness.
This is like the most wow.
Value call ever.
kill the emails.
And then if people are like, Hey,
I would like a heads up in advance.
Like that's a problem for future Coleen.
Future Coleen can build a future
to send out an email at 50%.
But I, that is not a like
table-stakes feature, I think.
This is literally everything
else is ready to go.
This is so good.
I'm feeling so energized
Michele: Just go comments
it out and then deploy.
Well, I mean test, you
know, work stuff, but yeah,
Colleen: Oh my goodness.
I love it.
Michele: the code you have
to write as some comments.
Oh, so good.
This is, I feel like I'm
Michele: Well, I mean, This is a high
note, so I feel like we just
have to end here last week.
I feel like we started out
today, like really low and now
we're ending, like we're really
Colleen: I know.
Michele: running a small
SAS is a rollercoaster man.
Colleen: Oh, isn't it.
Michele: All right.
Michele: talk to you next week.
Hopefully next time I talk to you,
it's going to be like out and good.
Colleen: Yeah, jeez.
Let's wrap it up.
Thank you for listening to this
week's episode of software social.
I hope you enjoyed it.
Please reach out to us on the internet.
We'd love to hear what you think.
Michele: you can tweet at us.
You don't have to stalk us and find us on.
Colleen: Thank you for listening.