The Bootstrapped Founder

It's time to celebrate! This podcast has just reached 250 episodes, and I have a few lessons to share from along the way.

The blog post:
The podcast episode:
The video:

You'll find my weekly article on my blog:

My book Zero to Sold:
My book The Embedded Entrepreneur:
My course Find your Following:

Find me on Twitter:

This episode is sponsored by

Creators & Guests

Arvid Kahl
Empowering founders with kindness. Building in Public. Sold my SaaS FeedbackPanda for life-changing $ in 2019, now sharing my journey & what I learned.

What is The Bootstrapped Founder?

Arvid Kahl talks about starting and bootstrapping businesses, how to build an audience, and how to build in public.

Welcome to the 251st episode of The Bootstrapped Founder.

I'm Arvid Kahl and for over three years now,

I've been talking about bootstrapping and entrepreneurship

and building in public and I will never stop.

In fact, that's what I wanna talk about today.

What I have learned in now almost four years

of running this media business, The Bootstrap Founder,

how it all came to be and where it is going.

And usually, this would be the place

where I'd mention the sponsor of the show.

But instead of the regular segment,

I wanna just give a huge shout out

on this day of celebration.

That's because they've been just part of this

for a long time.

Been supporting this podcast and many, many other places,

people and things in the founder community

for many years now.

And dozens of episodes of the show

were made possible by Acquire.

And I even had Andrew Gosteki, the founder of Acquire,

on the show before they became a sponsor in the past.

It was really cool, had a wonderful conversation.

I go way back with Andrew.

And he's one of the people who was reading my work

from the day I started blogging really,

and he encouraged me to write my first book.

I have a little story here.

Andrew wrote a tweet at some point

about the things that I was writing.

I was blogging at the time

and I was sharing all these articles and he said,

"Hey, if you ever turn this into a book,

"I'm gonna be the first one to buy it."

And he has, and that tweet alone is incredibly valuable to me

because somebody that I looked up to

told me that I could do something.

And that was a special feeling.

It gave me a lot of motivation.

It pushed me towards writing

and it pushed me towards actually publishing.

And now that book has sold over, I think,

15,000 copies or something.

It's bizarre.

I never would have expected that to happen.

I also wouldn't have expected any of this to happen

for you to listen to me right now, for example,

but it's happening.

And that is because Andrew and many other people

have helped me along the way.

And Andrew in particular has built something really special

with because they are helping founders

like I was back then and kind of am right now still

selling their businesses on their own terms,

which is a big deal in this industry

that has a lot of power dynamics, right?

A lot of people trying to sell businesses

to much bigger players.

And that tends to be problematic,

but I think helps people in this.

In this particular way, and it's right up my alley too, right?

Entrepreneurship should be liberating and empowering.

And that's what Andrew did with,

having founded that business.

And he's been doing this for me and the founder community.

So thank you so much for that, Andrew,

and the fine folks at

But let's raise a toast and reflect a little

on the Bootswap founder today.

So this week I celebrated the podcast reaching 250 episodes

with my most recent interview with Amanda Gertz,

which was wonderful.

And just last week, the podcast hit 250,000 overall downloads.

And these are numbers that I never expected to reach.

And yet here I am, still enjoying creating new episodes

and interviewing people every single week.

Today, I want to reflect on the podcast's history

and its importance in building my media business.

My newsletter and my podcast and my blog,

they're pretty much three different aspects of the same goal.

Everything I do involves writing.

And writing is kind of where it started for me.

And it wasn't a conscious choice against podcasting

or making videos.

And for writing, it was just the only thing

that I could think of doing after selling my SaaS business.

I was a developer, right?

So writing things, typing, was the thing I was already doing.

And I thought writing would be the next logical step.

So I drafted a few articles.

I started the blog, the Bootstrap Founder.

And I shared my stories with the fledgling Twitter audience

that I was starting to build.

I had 400 people that were already

following me at that time.

It was not much going on there.

But over the past 2 and 1/2 years,

that content creation effort has taken various forms,

like making YouTube videos and recording podcast episodes

and writing this weekly newsletter.

And since I am a naturally lazy person,

I felt the need to establish a highly effective process,

to just be able to keep doing these things for more

than just a few weeks and get bored with them.

And after a few blog posts, I set up the newsletter.

That's the first step I took for accountability

so that I had this weekly deadline for the next article.

I needed to write one because somebody needed to read it.

At least they told me to give me the email address.

So I really put a little deadline

into every single week.

And that keeps me going.

It kept me going back then.

And now it's just, yeah, of course I'm going to write a thing.

Back then, I was like, should I write?

Should I not?

Having people wanting to read my stuff, that made it very easy.

And then when a reader told me that they were dyslexic

and had trouble reading, I started the podcast.

And eventually, I turned the camera on

just while I recorded the pod.

And that's a lot of stuff, but it all works together.

And I think that's the important part.

I made the process fun for myself.

Setting up the structure for my work

helped me find these relevant ideas and formulate my thoughts

and presenting them cohesively for my readers,

viewers, and listeners.

But the important part is that all of these steps

have a fun component for me.

I couldn't do this just because I have to.

I'm not that kind of person.

I do this because it's enjoyable and I get feedback from people.

And after 250 episodes, or 251, including this one,

I've learned some important lessons.

So let's just dive into a few of them here today.

The biggest one is about validation.

And that's something that is not just for SaaS businesses.

You hear me a lot talk about validation a lot

in the context of finding problems and building solutions

and finding customers and that kind of stuff.

But validation is also a pretty massive part

of what I'm doing here with this media approach.

And one key aspect to my work is finding pre-validated topic

ideas within myself and my community.

Most of my solo episodes, like this one,

the articles that I write come from topics

that I've recently discussed or read about on social media.

I never really start with a blank slate.

Instead, I focus on what's already

being talked about in the community

and then add my unique perspective

to that conversation through that article.

This doesn't mean that I'm always chasing the latest hype


Many of the topics that I find interesting,

they just end up in this massive backlog of title ideas

and early draft articles that I have.

But for every major topic that I talk about,

I kind of know where it's coming from.

Because I literally know where it's coming from,

because I saved the tweet URL or that Hacker News discussion

link or some forum somewhere for that particular idea,

where it came from, so that I can reference and then use it

for research later when I choose to dive

into that topic for my article of the week.

And I learned this from my own early stage software business

validation efforts.

That's what I mostly talk about when it comes to validation.

The best way to find a critical problem in the wild

is to listen to people complain and help each other

and give each other recommendations out

in their communities.

And not every complaint is a reason

to start a business trying to solve it.

And not every conversation is a good topic for an article.

But looking at any such exchange as an opportunity

to contribute something, something helpful,

that will quickly surface amazing themes for me

to dive into and then share the insights that I have back

into the community.

It's a community centric and a community revolving effort

that I have when it comes to finding topics.

Another important lesson is, for me at least from all this,

that this only works when I focus on what I enjoy the most.

I talked about fun, right?

But it's also about what part of the work

is the thing that I really like.

That for me is thinking and writing.

There are parts of this whole content creation process

that just aren't as enjoyable,

like creating thumbnails for videos

or checking transcriptions for errors,

this kind of operational stuff.

So to save time and energy, I found tools and people

to help with these particular tasks.

In the content creation process,

I think there are three distinct parts.

There's ideation, contemplation, and creation.

I prefer the contemplation, the middle part.

So I use tools to speed up ideation and the creation part.

For example, AI-based tools help me draft ideas

and identify relevant community conversations.

A lot, I use them quite a bit.

There are tools like SIFT,

and that give me insights into topics that interest me

or are about the work that I'm doing.

And then there's ChatGPT

that helps me explore potential topics.

I've made a video about this,

like how I write, how my process is influenced by ChatGPT,

how I use it to effectively ask the internet questions

about a topic and kind of source different angles,

and how I use it to write in an adversarial fashion,

like how I tell ChatGPT to look at the thing

that I'm writing and see if something is missing

that somebody else would complain about.

It's really helpful.

Like tools like ChatGPT in particular

can be writing and research assistants,

and that's the important part.

They can really help you with the process.

And I use them a lot during the ideation part of my writing.

Now, for the contemplation stage, the middle part,

I also use tools, even though not as many.

I use AudioPen to record my thoughts

on that particular topic,

kind of brainstorming it into an audio form,

and the tool then condenses them into something manageable,

like an outline for drafting later.

And once I have this draft outline or an episode outline,

I turn it into a fully-fledged piece of content

for the week that I'm writing it in

by expanding my sketch of a draft

that I have there as an AI-generated list

into an actual piece of text written by me, a human.

So I still write, right?

I don't let ChatGPT write.

I just let it outline stuff for me

because I hate the results of ChatGPT's writing,

and I want to write.

That's the fun part for me.

So I leave that to myself.

And I mentioned earlier that I'm kind of somewhat lazy

when it comes to doing repetitive stuff,

but still, I'm not trying to outsource everything

at the same time.

And I've learned that I shouldn't chase that either.

I don't want to outsource certain parts,

even though other people could do it for me.

But particularly the parts of the post-production process

that themselves are potential idea generators,

I want to keep doing this.

And here's the example.

For my interviews, I still edit them myself

because the whole process of editing

can spark new ideas for me.

And even though one person of the two

in this conversation is me already,

I still find that listening to the chat

again after it happened,

during the editing process, I guess,

brings up thoughts that didn't occur during the recording.

These are thoughts that are yet again,

founded in an existing conversation

that already matters to people, the two people involved,

and hopefully the larger audience of the actual conversation.

And that is great topic validation as well,

because it comes up not just in my own mind,

it comes up in an interaction with another mind,

which lends it some kind of credibility

as a thought that is worth exploring further.

And once the interview is finally edited

and the video file is rendered

and the podcast audio is created,

I then use AI-based tools again

for writing descriptions

and highlighting parts of the interview.

To get an accurate transcript,

I use various tools, really a lot of them.

And I have people actually check them for accuracy.

And this is all cleanup after the fact, right?

We have ideation, contemplation, and creation.

This is the creation plus cleanup part.

So I enjoy the thinking, the structuring,

and the drafting parts of my work.

And I don't really use many tools for executing these tasks.

Preparing, yes.

Executing, no.

And the act of writing is probably the most important to me

because after all, it's at the core of everything I do.

Every week I spend at least one full day doing this,

most of the time, way more than just a day.

And consistently enjoying this part of my work

is one of the reasons why I continue doing it.

Now, almost four years every single week.

That is the consistency that comes from things

that you enjoy, or that I enjoy at least.

And finally, learning that I can see very clearly

in my metrics, one significant change in my podcast,

the history of the podcast, was starting to interview people

from my audience and from the group of people

that I look up to.

And it took me a while.

After 160, 161 episodes or so, this shift

brought so many new perspectives into the podcast itself

and just helped grow it in terms of viewers

and monetization opportunities.

Really noticeable.

If you look at the actual chart, it is fairly flat,

still growing, and then I add people to the mix,

and then it just explodes.

And I still liked the 160 episodes I did before.

Solo shows are great, and they allow creators like myself

to leave traces of our ambition in the world

for other people to find.

But as a solo creator, all the audience growth is driven by you.

But when guests share your episodes with their audiences,

it introduces new people to me, the conversation,

and my prior work every single week,

just by the mere fact that other people are involved.

And this effect was immediate.

I immediately saw that in my metrics.

And I immediately also saw this in how people interacted

with my work in public.

So yeah, involving others in conversations

makes it easier to grow an audience over time,

because new guests bring new listeners with them.

I mean, this is pretty obvious, but I

thought I could just do a solo show, and that's fine.

And it probably would have been.

But the moment I talked to other people,

not just because I wanted to increase my metrics,

by the way, I was not a growth effort.

It was just really me being kind of lonely in my office,

and I wanted to chat with people.

Well, and I did.

And it has really impacted the podcast.

And it spices up the variety of topics that the show is about,

and then I get to think about too, right?

New people, new ideas, new angles.

And when you do that every week for a few years,

you find ways to make it interesting every time.

You become better at having conversations.

And I certainly started feeling more confident

after a few episodes, and I know that I

can go into a conversation like this feeling relaxed

and prepared.

And yeah, let's talk about preparation a little bit.

Having a consistent pace and release schedule,

which is a framework, allows me to prepare for weeks

when I don't feel like working by pre-recording interviews

and articles.

There are weeks when I'm like, I can't really do it this week,

or I have something to do.

And by preparing for that, by doing stuff ahead of time,

it really makes a dent.

Sometimes there's also a week where

I have to kind of quickly act on something,

and then having the preparation, the experience

of being prepared in that moment makes it much easier too.

I can go to an ad hoc interview in like 15 minutes from now,

and I would still be able to have a really nice conversation

with that person, because I know how to talk to people,

because I've done it many, many times at this point.

And it's not just about the interview parts.

It's also about the things that I mentioned earlier, right?

I have this backlog of ideas.

The fact that I have over 50 articles pre-drafted somewhere

in a database, ready to go when I need one, that just

makes me sleep very calmly at night.

And I know I can record an interview in an hour

and edit it in two, and then I'm done.

I'll never run out of interesting people to talk to,

or interesting ideas to talk about.

So I feel that experience of having done it for four years

now makes it very easy to do it again tomorrow.

And that's what a consistent process

and the experience of doing it a few hundred times

can do for you.

So yeah, let's talk about where all of this is going to go.

Because 250 episodes is a lot.

And with 250 podcast episodes in particular under my belt,

well, I hope to continue for at least another 250 episodes,

and maybe more.

There are people out there, like Rob Walling

with Startups for the Rest of Us is a great example.

Now at episode 600 something, that's substantial.

And that's where I want to go as well.

Rob is a big name in the community.

He's been present for decades at this point.

And that's what I want to be too.

I want to be somebody that people can reliably

find new and interesting things from.

There's so many more things to share,

and so many more people to empower.

I think I have a pretty full couple of years,

at least till the end of the decade.

And I want to say thank you to everyone who's really

read or viewed or listened to anything I've said.

Obviously to the sponsors who supported my podcast,

and the guests who shared their expertise,

and every single one who's interacted with me

along the way.

Your support is greatly appreciated.

I never thought this would ever happen to me.

And now that it has, I am extremely grateful

for everyone supporting me.

It's really, really nice.

So here's to reaching the next milestone

of 500 episodes together.


And that's it for today.

Thank you so much for listening

to the Bootstrapped Founder podcast.

You can find me on Twitter at @arvidkahl,


You find my books on my Twitter course there too.

And if you want to support me and this show,

now that we are 250 episodes in,

please subscribe to my YouTube channel,

get the podcast and the player of choice.

And most importantly, please leave a five star rating

and a review by going to

This will really, really help the show.

It will put it in front of more people

because the algorithm puts it there.

And I would really appreciate that.

So thank you very much for listening

and have a wonderful day.

Bye bye.