Software Social

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Colleen and Corey talk Swipe Files, marketing for SAAS founders, and shooting your shot.

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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.

Colleen: Welcome back to
software, social Colleen here.

And today I am very excited to
share that we have a special guest.

Cory Haines from swipe files is
going to be joining us today.


Thanks for being on the show.

Corey: thanks for having me really stoked.

And I was flattered that you asked me
because I'm a big fan and listener.

And so and we're friends, you know, part
of the indie hackers, San Diego crew.

And so Yeah.

I'm really.

Colleen: Awesome.

Well, let's dive right in.

I feel like a lot of people know
who you are because you've kind

of established yourself as the
marketing guy for bootstrappers.

Would you say that's accurate?

Corey: Yeah, I think so.

I think I've, I've carved a nice little
niche and that's how most people think of

me or at least, you know, when they email,
I have a little newsletter autoresponder.

And so a lot of people will be
like, well, I heard you, you know,

mentioned on the startups for the rest
of us podcast and, or saw your work

with Derek Reimer or, you know, saw
you were the growth at Baremetrics

and so I think a marketing extra
bootstrappers is very, very accurate.

Colleen: So you started at Baremetrics.

Was that your first marketing job?

Corey: I had one before that.

So I started as the first marketing
hire for a startup here in San Diego

called cordial, and actually started
as the junior marketing intern.

And then when I graduated college,
I got hired on full-time as the

first marketing hire, I call it
my crash course of marketing.

Did everything wrong and did all the
things and learn everything the hard way.

But yeah, so that was my
experience before I bare metrics.

And and so, yeah, I mean,
honestly, I haven't been in

the game for that long really.

I mean, compared to a lot
of other people but yeah.

Colleen: That actually makes me feel
really good to hear that you haven't

been in the game for very long,
because you've been so successful.

So it's nice to see you can iterate
so quickly and learn so quickly

and be so successful so quickly.

Did you just kind of fall into
Baremetrics like, how did that happen?

Corey: I was following Josh on Twitter.

And I saw that he was starting to kind
of poke around about asking people

what type of role he should hire for.

And when.

You know, what, what type of person
that role would be best fit for.

And yeah.

And then he just posted on Twitter.

And at first, actually I just
sent him an email and said, Hey,

I think I'm probably too early.

I would like to junior for this, but
here's just like a whole bunch of

ideas and, or just like a list of
stuff that I would do, basically.

He was like, are you sure
you don't want to apply?

And I was like, oh, well, if that's
an invitation, then I'll take it.

And and yeah, the rest history.

Colleen: And how long were you there?

Corey: Almost two years,
I think just like a

Colleen: Oh, that's not long at all.

For some reason I thought it was longer.


And then you became
independent after that.

Corey: Yeah after that.

So, yeah, I mean, really, it was about,
it was about two years of cordial,

about two years at Baremetrics and
now just over a year, out on my own.

And, but working with Derek, part-time
for, you know, as a sort of outsource

marketing lead for about a year now.

So coming to job hopper or a millennial
or whatever stereotype you want but

definitely not a, definitely not a
lifer by any means for any company.

Colleen: tell me about what you're
doing now with your own community.

You've been building.

Corey: Yeah.

So Swipe Files, man.

It's kind of through a lot of different
iterations and I wouldn't say pivots more.

I think iterations is a better,
better term for it, but how I

describe it to family is it's a.

Marketing community and website to
learn marketing for SAAS companies.

And then, you know what is SAAS and
how is marketing different process

company, but, you know, for people
like us, right, it's a membership site,

there's a community there's courses.

And then there's access to
me through office hours.

And I'll meet with anyone
who's a member, right.

And talk, shop, talk strategy.

Fairly soon, there will also be kind
of like a hiring aspect to it as well.

But really the gist of it
is the community courses.

It's kind of bundle
all under a membership.

Colleen: Do you remember
our first interaction?

Corey: Was It me DM-ing you about
marketing resources and offering.

Colleen: It was, and I thought you
were creepy and I blew you off.

Corey: is totally.

Yeah, totally.

I don't blame you at all.

Colleen: Like, how did that, did you
just, is that how you started it?

You just started, do you
having people on Twitter?

Corey: No, So well, I made a habit of
that I will say, but how I started with

Colleen: that's part of Your

Corey: Yeah.


That's part of my, my
stick, my personality.

I'm just like, here you go.

I don't care it drives my wife nuts
sometimes because I have like, no.

Like fear of like putting
myself out there for anything.

And so I'll just offer any information.

I'll put myself in any, insert
myself in any conversation but

how, how the course has started.

So the courses were the first kind of
iteration of swipe files, sort of like

pre swipe files, but ended up becoming
a core part of it was I was wanted to

create a course and then I started talking
about mental models and frameworks.

And I had a lot of like my same like
peers who were in the same place of

being like an individual contributor.

But weren't like any sort
of like a leadership role.

Started putting together all these
frameworks and strategies and kind

of these ways of thinking about
marketing and then hop on calls and

we talked shop and I'd be like, oh,
well, here's my notion doc, full of all

these things that I've found helpful to
think more strategically as a marketer.

And they're like, oh, this is amazing.

Like you should put this
out there and sell it.

And then like enough people said that
where I was like, okay, well I think.

Oh actually make it happen.

And then I caught the kind of caught
the bug and I had, I noticed I had

all the same conversations at bare
metrics where people are asking about.

What's working and what's not
working and asking me, you know

what do you advise that we do?

And so I started putting together
kind of my own framework for how

I thought about SAS marketing.

And I thought I should
make this a course too.

And then anytime someone would ask
about it, I would just, I made a habit

of DM-ing or emailing or commenting
on a tweet and shooting my shot.


Not trying to be salesy, but just
being like, Hey, here's something that

I created, you might find helpful or
not, but at least you'll know about it.

Colleen: That's pretty cool.

Corey: Yeah.

I mean, which is awkward sometimes.


But and sometimes it doesn't
work out because people don't

understand your intentions.

Like at first we had, which is So funny.

But but the courses have been great.

I'm actually, and these are, I think
20, 22, I'm going to rerecord them

because now it's been about two
years and I need to update them.

And that's sort of like the thing
with courses that can be hard.

But right now in the.

Creating a new one.

But but the great thing is that now
there's like this evergreen repository

of knowledge that I can always share
with people and go back to, and I

reference that all the time too.

I'm like, okay, we're thinking
about, you know, spending up

affiliate stuff for savvy Cal, and
like, what did I say two years ago?

I'm just going to go watch my own
video or look back at my notes

and bring up the slide deck.

And so it's a good thing.

Colleen: Is swipe files,
a community and courses.

Corey: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Which is part of the
difficulty of running it.

Like anything like that has to do
with like a membership, because

it ends up being kind of this
hodgepodge combination of a whole

bunch of different things altogether.

And there isn't really like a defined.

Category for membership sites.

Like they all do it differently, Right.

So you have to do some educating about
like what it is and why you're structuring

things this way, but basically the
kind of place that I've come to is that

it's very content first, I would say,
because what ends up happening is that.

Before I sort of had to split out
from like, okay, there's a community.

And then if you want to like upgrade, then
you can do the community and the courses,

or you can buy the courses separately.

But then what happened was that people
would ask a question in the community,

for example, And I'd be like, oh, well,
I covered this in this video here.

If you just want to spend
15 minutes to watch this.

And then I don't have to like, you
know, copy and paste or recruits

to everything That I've already
gone through the work of doing.

And then I started recommending random
recommended people that they just.

From the get-go that we have the courses
and that any question they had about

the course material, or just, you know,
after knowing that anything that I would

didn't fill, or maybe some nuance to
some sort of tactic, then the community

there as sort of like a supporting pillar
to fill in all the other gaps there.

So I found it better to like lead with
the content and then the community is the

supporting factor rather than vice versa.

Rhea end up kind of like offering
of course content all the time.


Colleen: makes sense.


It's interesting.

So with simple file upload.

So I have the file uploader simple file
upload, which is a tool for developers.

And I think I may have made
a tactical mistake in that I.

Tried to hire my sister to help
me with marketing, but she doesn't

know anything about marketing and I
don't know anything about marketing.

And so we're just like, like no one knows
what, like, we don't know what we're

Corey: Blind leading the blind,


Colleen: right.

That's exactly what it is.

It almost like, I think looking back it
would have almost made more sense for her

to get a real job . And learn something
and then come try and work for me and

learn those tactics and apply them to my.

Corey: It's really, really hard.

I mean, here's the thing
too, is that you could.

I think this is true for any industry.

It's not, I'm not saying like, oh,
SAS marketing is the hardest or the

most difficult one to do, but every
industry has its own flavor and kind of

playbook of what marketing looks like.

And so you take someone from the.

The DTC e-commerce world and you in
throw them into a software company

and they will have no idea what to do
because they're like polar opposites, D

to C e-commerce is all about Instagram
and Tik TOK and paid advertising

and influencer deals essentially.


And then you get into SAS and it's like,
there's basically no paid advertising.

No, one's on Instagram or
Tech-Talk at least not yet.


But it's like, the
channels are all different.

The tactics are all different.

The playbook looks nothing to same.

And then you take that
across any other industry.

I remember actually one of my
conversations with them, I interviewed

a woman named Ashley Laveck, who
was a marketing director for a

robotics company or Vermont robotics
manufacturing company, in fact.

And she was like, yeah.

literally there are two
channels in the whole industry.

You go to events and you publish
stuff in like the magazines.

And then like, you know, the digital
versions of the those magazines.

But like, you're not gonna find anyone.

On LinkedIn.

You're not going to find anyone
on Twitter, not going to find

anyone on any other place.

There are no news forums.

There are no other things.

Those are the two, right?

So then like they really mastered the
whole kind of events, playbook, and they

really mastered the ability to work with
publishers and publish thought leadership.

It was all about sort of extracting
this really niche knowledge

from their leadership team.

And forming that into these
articles for magazines and

these sort of featured stories.

So I don't blame you.

I mean, it's really, really difficult.

You have to one, you know, adapt
to kind of the playbooks and the

tactics that are going to be most
promising for our software companies.

And then two, you have to go and
like do those things and practice

them and learning the hard way.



And it takes a lot of time and
it's frustrating too, right?

Because you have to just
sort of figure it out.

Colleen: Yes.


So I am at this point where I like many
SAS founders am convinced I'm one great

feature away from product market fit.

I was actually looking at my
signup graphs cause I'm starting

trying to do like invest.

I don't have investors, but like
advisor updates, just to keep me

kind of on track to see how I'm
growing, to see how things are going.

And I saw, I realized that I had this
huge spike in signups in September.

And I don't even know why.

So I mean, what I guess, so here
I am trying to figure out, like

I said, can I grow this thing?

I'm at like 1200 MRR, so
it's a thing it's real


But I am totally lost and confused.

What advice would you give me on how
to even find a channel that works?

How to, like you said, you
got to put in the reps.

I don't even know what that means.

What does that even

Corey: Yeah.

I mean?

this is the conundrum.

Especially when I think it's
actually, it's, it's most interesting.

And by interesting, I mean, most hard,
more, most difficult when something

has worked, but you don't know what
that thing is that worked, Right.

It's like, okay, we've gotten to
$1,200 in MRR, but you have no idea.

Maybe not, no idea, but there isn't
really, isn't like a clear indicator

of where these people came from, who
they are, how they found you, what

made them decide to sign up with your
product and set of another alternative.

What were all the things that
stopped people from upgrading,

who didn't end up going with you?

So one, just talk about the analyst
and the attribution side of things.

Despite what the blog posts might tell
you, or what people high up in, you know,

the Airbnb's and Uber's of the world.

No one has attribution figured out
whatsoever, like literally at all.

Colleen: It's

Corey: I mean,

Colleen: It's good to know.

Corey: a joke.


that's Okay.

Here's the thing.

So when I was at cordial I experienced
this the hard way the first time where

it was like, you know, you're trying to
give reports to leadership and you're

trying to test and measure and iterate.

And you know, this is like in
the the peak of sort of like

the whole growth marketing.



And that was like the era.

And That's what everyone was
talking about was like quantifiable

marketing and measurable marketing.

And I was like, dude, I don't
know what I'm doing wrong,

but I can't measure anything.

Nothing works.

I'm plugging UTM parameters.

We're paying for all this expensive
software and like, nothing is really

making a difference even today.

So today now it's getting worse
because we have all these data

and privacy laws and regulations.

Cookies are going away.

You have apple and Google and Facebook,
all feuding over data and ownership and

what gets shared where and what and why.

And so.

Just know that it's never
going to be perfectly clear.

That's sort of a good place to
start is like, yeah, it, it's

never going to be really clear.

Now there are things that you can do to
make your life a little bit easier and

where you can start to track things.

So the first thing I always tell
everyone, because it applies to everyone,

no matter what your situation, if
you're a billion dollar ARR, you know.

HubSpot type of company, or if you're
a simple file, upload is have a

form question in the signup process.

Or even afterwards, if you can
sort of like incorporate it into

the onboarding in the products in
a I don't know, a natural way or a

functional way is ask a simple question.

How'd you hear about us and make it a
open text field, not like a dropdown

with radio buttons, or even like multiple
select, because you want people to

give to to be as specific as possible.

Or as broad as possible.

And that will kind of give you
this heartbeat and this little

cadence of just kind of these little
pieces, these little clues that

you can start to stitch together.

So we did this with savvy, Cal, and.

Colleen: Okay.

Corey: I can go through our
activity log in slack because

it all gets pushed into there.

When someone signs up and I can see how
to hear about us and I can literally

look through and see online search.

Well, that's not helpful search, not
super helpful search, but wait, actually

now I'm starting to put something
together of people are searching.

So this is kind of implying
SEO or Google, right?

How'd you hear about us?

Duck duck go.


I forgot people use
that podcast VC, right?

A lot of these are gonna
be not interesting.

But then there's going to be one
where they will link a specific

article and they'll say, Hey, you
were mentioned in this article of the

five best calendar apps for 20, 22.

I'm like, oh, I didn't
even know what that was.

The thing.

Who's the author of that.

How did they find us?

Then I go and ask them, Hey,
how'd you hear about savvy Cal

straight from the source, right?

Or am I here?

You know, Derek did a an interview
with a guy named Peter keys on his, on

his podcast and his and his YouTube,
and then we'll see directly, oh,

people, you know, they say they came
from the Peter aquiz video on YouTube.


So it might be really, really vague or it.

might be really, really specific.

And with both of those.

So you can start to kind of piece
together these clues, but also you can

start to quantify a little bit like how
many people said they came from Google

or a search and how many people say
they came from this Peter keys video,

and we know that that's not gonna be.

A holistic representation of all the
people, but from all the responses that we

have, we can start to say, you know, 20%
of people come from search, 20% came from

affiliates, 20% came from X, Y, and Z.


And now you have a little bit
more of a clearer picture.

Now that's mainly useful for when
things are working to a certain degree.


And I would say that probably is simple
file upload is, is at that degree because.

You got $1,200 MRR.

And especially with the volume
that you have, like, how many

customers do you have Right.


Colleen: Not, I mean,
that's not that many.

It's like 30 ish,

Corey: Okay, well, 30,
is still is still good.

And especially with the amount of
signups that you have, because the

interesting part is that you don't
want to just measure customers.

You want to measure all signups and there
where people are talking or coming from.

Right, So even if you have one to two
people who sign up per day, but then only

10% of those people end up converting,
you still get the attribution of all those

Colleen: How they found

Corey: right.


How they found you.

Colleen: I see what you're saying.


That makes sense.

Corey: So that's attribution, right?

Just know it's not going to be perfect.


I'll give a shout out to a splitbee.

I'm actually really impressed
with their product for kind of web

analytics and attribution tracking.

They, I have gone through a lot of tools.

I've done demos with a lot of tools.

Split we have is very simple but effective
in its bootstrapper friendly too.

It's very affordable.

So I've been impressed with them.

You set up some simple events around, you
know, completed checkout or signed up,

you know, filled out a form and then you
can start to break it down by campaign

source, content, you know, all those sorts
of things that are sort of automatically.

Upended to a URL that you can track.


Now, as far as like figuring out channels
and like, where do we go from here?

Obviously you want to double
down on things that work, right?

If you're at zero MRR,
you don't know what works.

So you have to kind of go a different
direction in which just to sort of start

from first principles of where do I
think that customers might come from?


So here's my other like big learning
from being our cordial was that we

can sit in a room and brainstorm for
hours and hours and hours and come

up with this big immaculate plan.

But if it's not based on real data from
customer research, then we're, we might

as well be throwing spaghetti at the wall.

Like there's literally there isn't,
there's no point in doing it.

In fact, we experienced
this at cordial or like

why don't we do this thing over
here, run this interesting campaign

and run these targeting targeted ads
to this group of, you know, target

personas that we've sort of made up
as the perfect profile for causal.

It turns out none of those things really
existed and they were completely useless.

And so instead if you start with
customer research and you ask

really simple questions, Who are
you and what are you looking for

and where do you hang out online?

Who you learn from?

What podcasts do you listen to you?

What newsletters do you subscribe to?

What events do you attend?

Generally, how do you find
the discover new tools?

Then you can start to piece
together of how your type of person

wants to be marketed to right?

That way.

You're not like throwing
things down their throat.

You're also not getting.

But you're also trying to match the
way that you are doing marketing

to the way that people will find
it, discover products like yours.

So I'll, I'll turn it
back on you for a second.

So I'm not just like lecturing here,
but like but how do you, I mean,

how would you describe the target
or wheezes where it's like targets,

it's like, oh, sorry about that.

The perfect customer for a simple
file upload, like who's that.

Colleen: So I think this is really
part of my struggle because although

I know this isn't the way to do it.

The net is wide, right?

If you say, who's going to use
this, everyone's going to use it.

And because everyone is going to use it,
I don't know who to target, but I do think

based on the questions, the thing about
file uploading is there's like a million

things like features you can add to that.

So based on the questions I've been
getting from users, customers, paying

customers, Interested customers.

It seems like I have two
groups of people here.

I think I have like the big data people
and they're primarily back end developers.

They want to upload 30 gig files
and they have a ton of storage

needs, but they don't really
care about like what it looks.

I mean, they care about what it
looks like, but not that much.

They're not resizing images.

They're not cropping images.

Then I've got the companies that just.

10 20,000 images.

Cause they have pictures and
avatars and that group doesn't

want to upload really big files.

They don't want their own storage,
they just want it to work and they

care a lot about what it looks like.

And so I, so that's like dish.

I just realized this yesterday
actually, while I was doing

my little adviser update.

So I actually don't know.

Which group I'm marketing to, because
right now I'm just casting this wide net

and I'm like, it's good for all people.

Corey: That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Again, with savvy Cal, it was
sort of at the same deal, I

think from most SAS products.

In fact, I should write a blog post
about this, but like, I think that It's

actually podcasts conversations are
like the best way to like come up with

new ideas for content just by the way.

Cause you learn all these
things about yourself.

You're like, oh, I didn't know.

I had an opinion about that.

Colleen: Yeah.

Corey: There's kind of
this like I don't know.

In, in marketing or at least
in software that like, you have

to have like one persona, this
is like your perfect customer.

And these are the types of
people that you sell to.

And I just don't think that's true at all.

Like most SAS companies and most SAS
products are going to have multiple uses.

This can be pretty, pretty broad.

That's especially true for a broadly
useful tool, like SavvyCal, where

it's going to be entrepreneurs and
VCs and customer success podcasters.

And you're just like, well, We're never
gonna be able to nail something, but

even for something really specific,
like file uploading, you're going to

have back end developers and you're
going to have all sorts of different

uses and that's okay because that's
what people want to do with it.

And so I think instead of like
fighting that and being like,

well, I have to just focus on one.

It's like, how do we how
do we market in a way that.

At least kind of, you can do sort of
like two different marketing programs

at the same time to these two different
types of people, or at least do

marketing in a way that appeals to
both of them and speaks to both of them

or accounts for both of their needs.

So I don't think that's a bad thing.

Colleen: So I think that at
least now, The people are

developers or almost developers.

Like I, I try to make it easy
enough to use that you can be brand

new and still be able to use it.

But generally speaking, I think that the
people I'm marketing to are developers.

Corey: Yeah.


And, and they're generally, I would
assume working with a lot of images or

on a product with a lot of images That
need to be uploaded or stored, right?

Colleen: That seems reasonable.


Some of them, I can see their
websites, which is cool.

So I have like, I've got a couple people
that have real estate, which makes sense.

Cause it's so image heavy.

Got like random businesses,
like a nail salon.

There's a guy that's
running a music business.

There's a couple people doing
art, like art archive stuff.

So those are, those are the ones.

Cause some of them, depending on
how they load it onto their site, I

can see, I can figure out what their
website is, but that's only a handful.

So those are the ones like I've,
I've noticed that I've been able to

Corey: Wow.

That's so interesting.

So it's funny because I might be, I
might be like stealing Michelle's thunder

here, but I have to go back to customer
research and talking to customers because

I feel like I'm not gonna be able.

Here's the thing I wrote down a
bunch of ideas for you and my notes

around like, okay, here's just
like places to start or just ideas.

You can go and test, but it's a
little bit throwing the speed at

the wall, but really like, what's
going to be most useful and helpful.

And I don't know if you've done
this already to a certain degree

or it might've been a while is to
do like a switch interview type of

conversation where someone signs up.

And I'm like, oh, interesting.

They're building a or they work
for like a real estate website.

I don't know.

if it's like a Zillow or or something like that.

And then you just ask them, Hey, like,
how did you, how did you find us?

And like, what are the other things?

Did you.


Do you remember like what you typed
into Google or what you searched for

in stack overflow or like, it's hard
for me cause I'm not a developer.

So I don't know, like all the normal
things that a developer would do.

But like you just try to learn like
how, what were all the steps that

led up to them finally finding you?

Because it's so interesting.


I think that like what always
fascinates me about marketing is that.

You normally just get like the end result
of someone signing up with you, but

you don't know the windy road and crazy
journey that someone is on to you and you

just happened to be at the destination.


And it's like, woo.



It's like, we happen, you know, people
want it to come here and they found us and

now they're happy to stay here and live
in simple file upload land, but they had

this crazy journey and you want to kind
of figure out like, Where did it start,

especially what was the trigger that made
them search for or consider even like,

think of maybe there's a product for this.

That's kind of a crazy
thing for file uploading.

Maybe it's a more and more common.

Developer tools or just sort of
integrating third-party products into apps

or websites, whatever people are using,
but I'm doing a switch type interview

we're trying to piece together and like
literally work backwards of, okay, so you

signed up for simplify upload, like what
was the thing you did right before that?

And that was the thing
you did right before that.

And like, can you walk me through
your decision to type in file upload?

Script in stack overflow
or whatever it looks like.


And then you're just trying
to piece together these things

that then you can map back to
marketing campaigns right around.

Maybe I create a page that
specifically tries to target

this keyword that I just learned.

People are searching for.

That leads to needing
a file uploader, right.

Or maybe it's I'm going to run ads on
stack overflow in this certain section,

because that's where people are grabbing
the script and that's what they use

before they, you know, that it breaks.

And then they're like, oh,
we need something better.

Let's go search for a product
for this or things like that.


We try to piece it
together, piece it together.

Colleen: Okay.

Question for you that,
that made me think of this.

So I dunno, I guess it was last week.

The top post on hacker news was
about CloudFlare and how their

image offering is crappy and.

So it got a ton of, I had the number
one comment on it though, which

is exciting and it's hacker news.

So it didn't, I mean, I think it drove
a couple sign-ups so I was wondering

if there's a way to reach out to the
guy who originally wrote the blog post.

Like what would you do in this situation?

Cause I was thinking like maybe I
should reach out to him and ask him

to like review simple file upload.

Or is there an opportunity here I guess
is my question because people love.

To crap on CloudFlare.

Everyone was like, oh yeah, this sucks.


Corey: yeah.

let's all boop on it

Colleen: I know I'm like,
well, I tell you what to Corey,

like I am a single developer.

So the fact that Cloudflare's
when I read his blog post, I was

like, oh my gosh, like they have,
they must have 20 developers.

How, how come they couldn't sort this out.

So I don't know.

Do you think there's anything
I could do there with content?

Corey: Yeah,


I mean, it's basically like a
little bit doing sales too, right?

Where you're like, why
don't you try this instead?

Or, you know, how about you look at
this, maybe this solves your problem.

I don't know if that
person was looking for.

Something in particular where
they were just kind of ranting


Colleen: he was just ranting, but
it got like a ton of comments.

People were really

Corey: so it struck a nerve,
which is really interesting.


That makes me think that there's a
lot of untapped kind of potential.

Actually, so the first thing that
I thought of when I heard of that

was you need to have a CloudFlare
images, alternative page, essentially

Colleen: Right.

That's what I'm wondering,
like a landing page or

Corey: Oh a hundred percent because
that, that, to me, that triggers that

a lot of people feel this way and
that there's probably a lot of people,

whether the tool is like a traps or a
Google search console, show it or not.

They're probably searching for,
you know, CloudFlare images,

alternative CloudFlare images versus
XYZ, other kind of alternatives.

You know, ways to improve?

I don't know, like all
the verbiage, right?

There's probably these really specific
words and phrases that they're using

to describe whatever it is that
they're going through or the problems

with CloudFlare images, whether
it's, I dunno, caching or right.

I'm not gonna make myself look stupid
and talk about a lot of things.

I don't know.


Just use big fancy words.

But Yeah.

you can create landing pages specifically
for CloudFare images or content

specifically around the things like the
ways that clutter-free images fall short.


It's trying to kind of how I'm trying to
think about it is, well, why does it suck?

Well, they don't do X,
Y, and Z and that's Okay.

Here's content piece, a exhibit
a is how to do X, Y, and Z.

With, or without Claire flare CloudFlare
images, or just like in general, here's

how you sort of think about architecting
things in this way to account for

the fact that CloudFlare image sucks.

And also if you don't want to use
that, then you can use this instead.

That's where my, my mind first went.

Of course you can always go back
to that first person, if they're

a blogger or someone who likes
to talk about this kind of stuff.


I would reach out and You have to,
you have to be able to know, you know,

read the room a little bit and know
kind of like what's, what's appropriate

and what's not in the marketing world.

We're all marketers.

So we're like very
straightforward and blunt.

It's like, you know, Hey, so
I talked about this thing.

We have this thing over here.

We think that this would be a Great

fit for you to cover as well.

And, you know, mutually beneficial kind
of you speak marketing, talk a bit, right.

And use those kinds of words.

And generally people are are open to
that, but you might want to phrase

things a little bit more subtly or
delicately depending on that person.

So you don't burn a bridge and, and,
or just they, they receive it well.

But absolutely in fact, that was given
one of the things I was gonna, I was gonna

mention was in fact, if you want to look
more into it, Rand Fishkin just wrote this

post on influence mapping, which I love.

I love this term so much.

I'm going to like use it all the time
and just like evangelize it as much

as I can, because essentially what
you're doing is you're figuring out

all the people that I want to reach.

Who do they listen to and look to for
advice, you know, who influences them.


But influence is like a very
broad kind of catch all term for

learn from, by, from listened to.

Are entertained by, right.

It's kind of like a lot of
things all in caps at one.

So influence mapping is basically
the practice of figuring out all the

people in media properties that have
the attention of your target customer.

And then how do you collaborate with
them or insert yourself with them?


So if they're a blogger, right?

Some sort of review.

Or even just like a link and another
posts of recommended tools or you

know, so we went through this first
savvy Cal productivity is one of

the big spaces that we kind of
want, like want to be a part of.


So I use spark Toro, which is Rand
Fishkin, this tool that is very aptly

appropriate for for influence mapping.

But I just typed in productivity and
I found a whole bunch of YouTubers

and podcasters and bloggers.

I'd like to talk about this stuff and
then introduce myself and said, Hey, just

wanted to kind of put ourselves on the map
or a savvy Cal or account the alternative.

I think he might like us for X, Y, and
Z, by the way, if you want to do some

sort of content collaboration, we'd
be happy to contribute in any way.

Also, we do have an affiliate program.

If you want to integrate this
into your business model, right.

And as a smart long-term partnership.

And that's very marketing and you,
cause most of these people know the

marketing game, but the same applies.

You just have to have it in a different
version for, you know, for a developer

centric tools or whatever the equivalent
is for your industry, you know, file

uploading or at building, right.

Whatever that looks like.

Colleen: Yeah.



Going back to what you said earlier
about which we all know, speaking to

customers and doing the switch interview,
that is something like every three to

six months, I try and make that happen.

And I've had a really, really low success
rate on people wanting to talk to me.

But I should try again, like I'm in
this reminds me that I should try again.

I've had a lot more people.

I think one of the good things I've
noticed is I've changed some of my

like onboarding emails from asking
questions to giving helpful advice.

Like it used to say, can you tell
me about what you're working on?

And now it says here's some
quick tips to get you started.

And so I've had more people engaging
with me over email, which I think

is a good sign, but yeah, I still
haven't had anyone really willing

to talk about how they found it.

I think my theory on this is because
file uploading is like very utilitarian.

So you just do it, right?

Like, you don't want to think about it.

You just, it works or it
doesn't, you don't care too much.

Like you just, you don't
want to spend time on it.

So that's my theory as to why a lot of
people, it's not the core of your app.

Like it's not, it's just this
ancillary thing you have to do.

So that's my personal theory on why a
lot of people don't want to like sit down

and talk to me, but I should do another
round and ask the new people that have

come on in the neck in the last couple of

Corey: Yeah, Yeah.

I was going to say maybe.

maybe after, you know, month, two or
three, they're getting value out of it.

They have obviously stuck around, they've
implemented it and now they might be, you

know, they have some more affinity for,
for you, the creator and you have also

sort of built that trust and reputation.

I was like, Yeah.

this product works.

You know, like I should return the favor.


And kind of reciprocate
this generous act and.

And you can phrase it as a, Hey, you
know, I'm a developer, you're a developer.

I build this tool that you're using.

I just want to learn more about how I
can improve it for you and sort of you

know, some similar questions about who
you are so I can, you know, better.

Modify or improve the
product for your needs.


And then you can say, I'll throw in
a $10 gift card or, you know donate

20 bucks to your favorite charity
for your time or something like that.


And then you do that with five
or six people, you know and you

have 30 customers to draw from.


And so I think the odds are in your
favor to get a couple, at least.

Colleen: I think too, maybe I know
that you get more value and obviously

know this because my co-host wrote
a book about it, but you get more

value talking to someone, but I think
developers don't like to talk to people.

So I feel like email is
a little less aggressive.


I don't know.

This is just a theory.

Maybe I'll try this out.

Maybe I'll try with email before
trying to get someone on the

Corey: I think that's a good idea.


I could totally see that
and understand that.

And even too, I feel like
there's sometimes where.

I'm definitely more of like a thinker.

And so when someone asks me a question
and I feel like I'm kind of put on the

spot I'm just drawing blanks, you know?

And so if someone's like, Hey, how'd
you, how'd you find us if I don't know

the answer to that question, like,
I'm not going to find it in this call.

And so an email sometimes it's
better for me to like, all Right.

let me like digest and
think about this for awhile.

Let it marinate.

Let me like, try to go back
and look and see You in.

And then it'll come back to me and then
I can respond in email, you know, when.

Colleen: I'm going to do this.

Corey: Yeah.


I love it.

Colleen: So would your recommendation
be then, so let's, I'll I'll then go

after the people that I've had for a
couple months, maybe do a, I like the

I'm a developer, you're a developer.

How can I make it better?

Keep it short though.


How did you find, do you
remember how you found me?

Do you remember how you
found this kind of thing?

Corey: Yeah.

w I would keep it very broad efforts.

I think the thing you want to do, and
again, Michelle would probably say

this as well, but you kind of just want
to like, get your foot in the door.

So as like a really easy to answer a
question, just one question, and then from

there, you'd be like, oh, interesting.

You know, be very like enthused
and you're trying to ask.

Two or three questions now.

And can you also tell
me about X, Y, and Z?

And then from there you're like really
digging into the nitty gritty about,

oh, so you were on stack overflow and
like, what did you search for or what

did you find or you're on Google?

Can you tell me exactly what you Googled
for and can't remember what types of

things that you researched or read or
what, which blogs that you were, that

you were looking through or maybe it's
YouTube videos or documentation, or what

other tools would you like about them?

What'd you not like about them,
but definitely it starts with that

first, very simple, very easy.

Colleen: Okay.

Yeah, I like that.

I think I'm gonna try that.

It seems like a good

Corey: I think, you know, so we were
talking at the last meetup about

developer centric tools and just
how that's like fascinating to me

because I'm not a developer and it
just feels like this foreign world

that's close to SAS, but it's not
really kind of equivalent in the same.

And personally, I feel like there's a
lot of opportunity for marketing quote

unquote, that really doesn't look like.

Because, because developing is
so utilitarian and that you're

writing code and you're just
solving things and building stuff.

Then marketing can be a lot of that.

Like teaching education, tutorial
driven content, which is like the

easiest and the best and the finest and
the most fulfilling marketing to do.

And so you find all these, I think
there's probably an opportunity to find.

Interesting nuances and phrases and
things that people are trying to solve

for that lead them to simplify upload.

And then you kind of build that.

Backlog of, I don't know, 10 to
20, or really, really, really

niche long tail pieces of content.

And those will serve you
well for a long time.


And I think that probably the hard
part about simplified upload is

that you have to catch people.

In the moment that they're looking
for something like this, depending

on the app development stage and
or what type of thing that they're

working on or even who they are.


And they are the right type of person to
be responsible for this, but if you can

catch them then you have a much higher
chance of converting them and obviously,

you know, keeping them for a long time.

Colleen: Yeah, I do think that is
an interesting point because I don't

have like a migration plan, right?

People are not migrating from
their existing solution to my.

Corey: Yeah.



Colleen: They are, I'm catching
them at the very beginning

which is very specific, right.

They have to want file
uploading right now.

Be frustrated with AWS or whatever, and
just implementing it for the first time.

Corey: one of the other things I
want to make sure I asked, because

I feel like it's a big piece of
this equation is a, it's a Heroku.

Add-on right.

And so it's, it's built on top of
a platform, which already, I would

assume that a lot of people or a
decent amount of people find you

that way, just searching for stuff
and their Roku out on marketplace or

app store or whatever they call it.

Colleen: Yep.

Corey: Maybe there's some, you know,
app store optimization opportunities

there maybe not and, or can it be built
on other platforms and marketplaces

and you can just start like copy
and paste that over and duplicate,

you know, being like another place.

Colleen: Yeah, I have.

So this is, I have big plans.

I have, I mean, it's
in a fun stage, right?

Everything is exciting.

I have all the ideas and
just none of the time.


I have big plans to try it
in some other marketplaces.

But there's a little bit, there's some
tweaks I have to make to make that happen.

Heroku is great because we get such
a high quality customer because you

already have your credit card in.

I mean, it's not like.

People like, if you are signed up with
Heroku, you have to have credit cards.

So I get really high
quality leads from Heroku.

Once I got featured in their newsletter
and that drove a ton of sign-ups.

But they, they keep a really tight
reign on what you're allowed to do.

Like they have a lot of rules.

And so you get this one marketing page.

And that's it like you get the one
page but Heroku specific marketing

in terms of like you were saying
really niche, specific pieces of

content is, is a really good idea
and something that I should get into.

Corey: I don't know.

I think the problem with being a platform
is that you don't want to play favorites.

And so you know, usually they're a little
bit like hesitant about doing too much

kind of co-marketing stuff together
with their ad-ons and stuff like that.

But if you're the only file uploader,
then they're not, you know, of course

you're gonna be their favorite.

Cause you're the only one, right.

It's like, you're your only
child is your favorite child.

And maybe, you know, they
won't be as hesitant about

doing a lot of stuff with you.

Or indoor, you can ask for links
across other content they've created,

or, you know, simple things that are
small asks that maybe aren't like,

Hey, let's do a big blog post together.

Or let's, you know, let me do a tutorial
for you over video or something like that.


Or maybe you can, and they'd be

Colleen: Ooh.

Corey: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Colleen: Okay.

So they have a page on
how to upload to AWS.

That's out of date and wrong, and
they have a big red banner up there

that says this doesn't work anymore.

In rails.

I have a blog post that does it properly.

Maybe I should just reach out to them
and be like, Hey, your stuff doesn't

Corey: oh, a hundred
percent you, you said.


Colleen: That never occurred
to me until right now.

Corey: I love it.


I mean, so I'll tell you two
kind of secret about a lot

of this co-marketing stuff.

I call it permissionless co-marketing
because what you want to do is first, you

want to involve them in a lot of stuff
that you're doing and give them shout

outs and basically do marketing for them.

And that you're, you know, generously
mentioned them online essentially.


But then too, you want to find gaps
in whatever that they're doing.

And then just offer to fill
that gap even proactively.

And so this is a perfect
example where you're like,

Hey, this thing is out of date.

I have content right now that
fills this, you know, I'd be

happy to provide it for you.

We did this with a lot of you know, blog
posts, kind of guest writing for savvy.

Where I will do keyword
research for the blog that.

we want to write for and be like, Hey, I
see you're not writing for this keyword.

It's got X amount of search volume.

I'm not sure if it's like in
the pipeline yet, but we'd be

happy to write this for you.

And we will pay for the freelance writer.

We will Do all the research.

I'm a marketer.

I know what I'm doing.

And and we'd be happy
to publish this for you.

And also, you know, we'll make a small.

Casual mention of savvy Cal, but this'll
be your content a hundred percent.

You can do whatever you want with it.

People always say yes, yes.

To that because it's free content.

Right, right.

Why are they say no vice versa as well?

When someone asks me like,
Hey, can we write for SABIC?

I'll be like, sure.

Here's a list of keywords
that we're targeting.

Pick one of these that you
think you can write best, write

up an outline and a draft.

Make sure you.

mentioned savvy cow, and we'd
be happy to publish that.

Colleen: So when you write for
other people, do you also cross

post that on the savvy cow blog
or is it just their content?

And it has a backlink to savvy cow.

Corey: I don't think There's
a right or wrong way to do it.

We don't personally one of the reasons
being that we kind of recycle some of

the same content across multiple partners
and usually those people don't want.

I don't want you.

to also publish that content.

They want it to be like, There's


That way, like you're promoting
them and their content, not like

your version of that same content.

So that way they get more out of it.

So Yeah.

normally we don't like cross posts back
to the savvy cut blogs, just because

it makes them feel better about it.

And they want to kinda that one.

Colleen: Cool.


That's neat.

Corey: Yeah.

That's what I

Colleen: Any other good ideas,

Corey: lots, lots and lots and lots.


How long do you have, right.

Colleen: How much longer we've
already run over, but it's fine.

Corey: You know, I was thinking,
let me just look at my notes here

just about other high-low stuff.

I think, you know, so when I wrote
down that idea of influence mapping,

I was thinking about Yeah, popular
programmers bloggers in the space.

I know that there's a lot of like
developer influencer type people

who are just like out on their own
creating tutorials and you know,

there's like the rails cast guy and
there's a lot of YouTubers who are

developers, this bloggers who are
developers I personally liked that.

Cause it's kinda like a grassroots
thing where like, Hey, you know, can

I pay you as even like do a review
and or you have this content over

here that talks about this thing.

Would you mind just dropping a link to.

Simplify upload because
it does this really well.

You know, if you don't,
that's totally fine.

Like that might be like the
second acts that you want to do.

But I think that working with a
lot of these type of like developer

creators is a really interesting idea.

It's like a grassroots kind of thing.

Cause they're going to be doing content
and marketing for you essentially.

You get to reap the benefits of it.

Maybe like developer
relations type of stuff.

If you do want to expand to
other platforms getting to know

them kind of budding it up.

And again, I don't know if this is
like super applicable, cause I know

there's not a lot of nuance on developer
world, but it just made me think of

like as a new category of person who.

Is in charge of creating content,
but isn't like a marketer and they're

looking to partner with people who
are building on top of their platform.

Usually it starts maybe we think
like maybe that's a good fit.

And, and just other
developer tools as well.

It's talking about that
permission to this com marketing.

If, you know, if you're talking with
your customers, you're also asking

about like, what else is in their stack.

If there are other Heroku add-ons,
if there are other, you know, small

ish kind of companies you know, cause
you can't do mark co-marketing with.



Like maybe you can, but
like probably not, right.


Colleen: probably not,

Corey: So like, you know, peer
companies who are also in the, in

their stack, like it's probably not.

coincidence that you're
all being used together.


Or that you just happened to be
like another thing bolted on.

So you can do that kind of
permissionless co-marketing with them.

Find ways to collaborate,
create content for them.

You create content or they
create content for you.

And, or you can say, Hey, let's
go on this together with Heroku

and create a piece on this.

And then we'll both get a shout out here.

And maybe that's an easier ask, but
I'm, I'm really about a lot of the like

partnerships co-marketing like creator
partnership kind of stuff too with

like influence mapping and whatnot.

Colleen: Oh, yeah.

I love this idea and I'm kind of.

It hasn't occurred to me
before, to be honest with you.

Because when I, when I want to learn
how to do something new, I go to one

of the, you know, one of the YouTubers
I follow and I'll watch this video.

If I can't figure it out from the
guides or I've read the guides,

I'm like, this is how you do it.

I go watch someone's video on it.

Or junior developers, how do
they know what to do there?

Their senior people tell them what to do.

I mean, there's.

That's absolutely the way, like, it
feels so obvious actually, now that

you've just said it that's a hundred
percent, it just literally never occurred

to me to reach out to these people and
be like, Hey, and they might all say

no, like that's bad for my reputation.

I don't from a products, which is
fine, but I haven't even asked.


Corey: where you can say, you know, like
one of the entry-level like asks you

can make is, you know, maybe not like a
simple file upload review, but more even

just like ways to improve their content.


if they're already talking about
something related to CloudFlare images,

you can do let's just say, for example,
You might mention some other thing,

you know, some other issues or kind of
like workarounds and nuances that you

found helpful based on your experience
or even what you've learned from other

people and be like, oh, just by the
way, here's some other things in here.

And also.

Here's like this, I don't know,
like open source piece of code

that I created, that was like the
impetus for simple file upload.

If you just want to drop a link and, or,
you know one of the other things is that

you can say you're happy to provide a
quote or like contribute to the content.

And then it's going to be, you
know, Coleen from simple file

upload said, and now you get a
link back to simple file upload.

Even if what you're talking about,
isn't even remotely connected

to image uploading right up.

Colleen: Yeah.


I got it.


This is super exciting.

Corey: I'm glad

Colleen: I'm like really
looking forward to this now.

Corey: I'm glad The
marketing guys is useful.

Colleen: The marketing guys always useful.

We just learned that too late, right?

Like as developers we're like, oh
yeah, we have to think about this

and put time and energy into this.

Corey: It's a lot of work.

It's a lot of work.

I don't know if you've kind of like split
your time, but I just started reading

through It's I'm going to blank on it now,
but it was like the original person who

said, if you're a solo founder, you should
be splitting your time, 50 50 between

marketing and developing even early on.

And I can't imagine how hard that must be.

I kind of can't have swipe files
because I'm creating content and

I'm tweeting and emailing and
do all this other stuff as well.

But they're two very
different things, right?

It's you market your product
and you build your product and

they're just completely different.

They're usually like very unrelated.


So I get it.

it's hard.

Really, really

Colleen: It's it's hard.

And I think also it's
a side project, right?

Like I still have a, you know, a day job.


Corey: So it was like
10% building product.

10% marketing.

Colleen: that's what it feels like.

And yeah.

So, and I do think me, not just
me, every other developer who has

a SAS, we're so convinced we're
one great feature away from like,

you know, Just incredible success.

And so I do think that's, that's part
of the problem is just finding that

balance and putting the mental energy
into like, thinking about marketing

and making the marketing happen.


Learning and, and doing
it and all that stuff.

Cause it's a new skillset to Alex
Hillman has like one of my favorite blog

posts about this, which is why so many
people who do 35 by 500 fail, not fail.

That's maybe not the word, but
don't launch a product because

you take these developers who
are really good at one skillset.

And then you ask them
to basically start over.

Right in this marketing and
they're like, they freak out cause

you've become such an expert, like
starting over is just exhausting.

Corey: You're like, Hey, all these
things you've learned over the last 20

years, Don't use any of those now, and
this is how you're going to succeed.

I'm like cool.


Colleen: do any of that.

Corey: Yeah.

And the file or the you know, the next
feature kind of fallacy is very common.

And I just want to mention that.

just really quick, because I'm
not saying that this is what

you're doing necessarily, but.

It's easy to fall into that trap
because you feel like once I add this

feature, then I will feel better and
more motivated to, to do the marketing,

but there's always an X feature.


And so That's kind of like the catch 22 is
that once you have this done, then there's

the next thing that you think about it.

Someone asks you about, and then
you kind of go back into that state.

And even then I think that what a lot
of people whether they consciously

realize it or not, they think.

If they build a great product, then people
will talk about it and mentioned it.

And like, there'll be this crazy word
of mouth phenomenon that happens where

just like everyone knows about you.

All of a sudden, everyone
wants to use you.

Everyone's praising you for
building such an amazing product.


And this is like the least
charitable interpretation of this.

But to me, that just screams, like you
want everyone else to do your dirty work.

Like you just want everyone
to do the marketing for you.

You want all your customers
to market for you.

You want everyone to just
be like, wow, Coleen.

He made such an amazing app.

I have to mention you in
all my blog posts now.

And I have to give you
a Twitter, shout out.

It's like they don't owe you anything.

They don't have to mention
you or talk to you.

Like that's on you to reach out
to them and say, let me teach.

Let me tell You.

about my product.

Well, let's find a mutually
beneficial way to work together.


And so again, I'm not like putting
that on you, but I'm just saying.

Colleen: No, no, you're totally right.

I want everyone to do the work.

I like everything you said
is also true about me.

Corey: Right.

You're like, why is no
one talking about this?

This is the amazing thing that I
built and that's true, but you can't

expect them to do all that for it.

You have to build the hype.

You have to get people excited.

You have to educate, you have to put in
the work to naturally let that happen

over time, because eventually it does.

That's called brand.


You have a great brand.

People talking about either recommend
you you don't have to do a lot of

marketing quote unquote, because you're
just known as someone in the industry

and other work that you've done years
past is still working for you today.

We have to put in That work to earn that
brand and to reap the benefits later.

Colleen: That might be my most
favorite thing you have said all

Corey: Wow.


Colleen: that was just yes.

Cause that felt so on-point not
just for me, but for all the

people in my situation, like
it felt so point and so true.

And sometimes we just need to remember
that, like, yeah, you got to do the work.

This is, this is, this
is what we're doing here.

Corey: It's true.

I wish it wasn't that way.

And I think also part of that might
be colored by the fact that I think

maybe 10 years ago the internet
was in a place where everything

was new and novel and interesting.

And it was like every, so I just
started listening to a new podcast

called launched and the feature.

Mobile app developers.

And there were just talking about
how hard marketing is today.

Because 10 years ago, anyone who
launched the app got like a ton

of press coverage out of nowhere.

It was like everyone in their mind.

You launch an app.

And like all of a sudden you're
on the front of tech crunch.

This new app does X, Y, and Z.

And people were just like,
their minds were blown about

how cool mobile apps were.

And he was like, now I have to
like beg and plead and sacrifice

my firstborn in order for fricking
journalists to cover my app.

And it's so competitive.

It's so noisy.

Things have changed maybe 10 years ago,
it was easy to just like put something

out there and people talked about it and
they loved it and it just went viral.

And there's all these people
who are hungry for things.

Talk about like your app today.

Just isn't that way.

Which sucks.

But it also means that there's
more opportunity because you know

that all of your competitors and
all the other people out there

probably aren't putting in the work.

So now you have an advantage over.

Colleen: Yeah.



It has been absolutely
a joy to have you on.

Corey: Super fun.

Colleen: very much, I
very much appreciated.

And for you giving me all this
great advice and chatting about

marketing for SAS founders.

Corey: I'm the SAS marketing guy.

So this is literally what I do for fun.

And I can't help myself, but
to nerd out and that's like,

literally that's such dependent.

You have me because even
going back to metrics, Right.

I'm like, Hey, I'm not gonna apply.

But like, here's all these ideas for you.

And I just, I do that all the time.

I literally can't all myself.

So it's a pleasure and a.

Colleen: That's going to wrap
up this week's episode of

the software social podcast.

You can find us on Twitter
at software, soul pod.

Thanks for listening.