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Nathan Barry

Founder and Designer at ConvertKit

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 19, 2016

Discussion

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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
Hey — I’m Nathan Barry, founder of ConvertKit (an email marketing product for professional bloggers) and author of a few books on software design and marketing. My favorite topics are growing startups, designing software, blogging, and playing soccer (though I’m not very good…yet). Ask me anything! -------------- Thanks everyone for all the questions! Have a great weekend.
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Josh Pigford@shpigford · Founder of Baremetrics, maker of beards.
You’ve made all of your revenue metrics public at https://convertkit.baremetrics.com What have the pros and cons been of that?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@shpigford It's definitely picked up some attention, which has been great. It also keeps me accountable to focus on growth and keep pushing me and the team. So far I haven't felt any downsides. I'm sure we have competitors that watch it and know important numbers (like LTV), but it's a huge market so I'm not worried about that. It also helps keep us top of mind with lots of people. I hear all the time from people who say they check our Baremetrics dashboard every week! That's great attention to have.
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Brendan Hufford@brendan_hufford
@nathanbarry @shpigford Love the use of Baremetrics. What happened the week of October 18 2014 that caused such a massive spike in your revenue?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@brendanhufford @shpigford October was crazy. We did a few massive webinars. Also Pat Flynn published this article: http://www.smartpassiveincome.co...
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
A couple notes: 1. All of our revenue and stats for ConvertKit are public on Baremetrics: https://convertkit.baremetrics.com/ 2. The interesting things are that we spent two years not growing at all, and then doubled down and took it from $1,300/month to $130,000/month in 16 months. 3. If you want to try ConvertKit we have a special offer for PH of the first month free: https://app.convertkit.com/users... (expires today)
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Deyson Ortiz@deysonortiz · I help create visuals that engage
@nathanbarry Do you have an article on how you doubles down to increase sales? Thank you :)
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Dan Cumberland@dancumberland1
Hi Nathan! You're connected to so many influencers online. How have you built such a great relationships?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@dancumberland Create every day. People want to meet other people doing interesting things. Spend 90% of your time creating. Then when you reach out to chat they will be familiar with your work and see that you aren't just wasting their time. Everyone wants to help people who are already in motion.
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Pawel Janiak@cynicalgrinch · I love making tools
@nathanbarry "Everyone wants to help people who are already in motion" - ain't that the truth!
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Josh Pigford@shpigford · Founder of Baremetrics, maker of beards.
What has been the biggest adjustment going from selling digital products/courses to building & selling software?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@shpigford Working with a team. I did so much solo that it's been amazing to now have a team to rely on. If I go on vacation or can't work for a few days the business moves forward. It's amazing. It would be hard for me to go back to solo work now.
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Barrett Brooks@barrettabrooks · Writer, Marketer, Change maker
What made you decide to go full time on the ConvertKit business at a time when your teaching/publishing business was going so well? How did that change the trajectory of the company?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@barrettabrooks It was a conversation with Hiten Shah. He told me to admit that ConvertKit was a failure and shut it down... Or to take it seriously and give it the time, money and attention it deserves and build it into a real business. This was our revenue the first 20 months: And here you can see what happened after I invested in ConvertKit and started working on it full-time:
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Brendan Hufford@brendan_hufford
@barrettabrooks Cool to see you in here!
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Barrett Brooks@barrettabrooks · Writer, Marketer, Change maker
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Nathan! I'm impressed with how you've built an independent, self-funded business over the years. What inspired you to get into tech and entrepreneurship?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@rrhoover Thanks Ryan! I went through high school learning to code and reading about side projects and growing businesses. Reading about Automattic and 37signals were two of my early inspirations.
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Josh Pigford@shpigford · Founder of Baremetrics, maker of beards.
You’ve had growth that the large majority of funded startups would kill to have. What have been the biggest struggles both on the product and the business side with having growth skyrocket like it has?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@shpigford Since I don't have any experience scaling a team that was definitely a huge challenge. So far the biggest challenge has been managing cashflow and the amount of cash in the bank. Since we're totally self-funded (just $55,000) and growing quickly I'm reinvesting everything in supporting that growth. So most months we just post a profit of a couple thousand dollars. That means that our cash balance—though it grows every month—is constantly shrinking in relation to our monthly expenses. So it's been very hard to stay disciplined with expenses and keep saving money. At some point in the future we may raise a funding round to solve this problem, but not right now.
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Danielle A. Vincent@howdydanielle · General Enthusiast, Rouser of Rabble
@nathanbarry @shpigford What would be the tipping point when you consider you should raise funding? Are you trepidatious about giving up part of the company?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@daniellevincent @shpigford Good question! I like the discipline that self-funding brings. We don't waste money on anything. I also like holding the vast majority of the company. Though I'm coming around to the idea of raising a small round. Especially if it means not giving up any control and still being able to set our own path.
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Joel Runyon@joelrunyon · Founder, Impossible X
@nathanbarry @daniellevincent @shpigford what would be the benefit of raising a small round? shoring up cash reserves or something else?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@joelrunyon @daniellevincent @shpigford It would be for cash on hand. It takes a lot of time to save up a decent runway when growing and spending at our rate.
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Judas Borbón@judasborbon · Web Developer
What kind of research or validation you do before deciding to build a product?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@judasborbon I get on the phone with people I think might want it. Then I ask for their money.
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Ling So@ling_so · CEO, Eat2healthyweight.com
@nathanbarry @judasborbon You asked for money before building your product??? How??
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Mike Smith@mrmikesmith · Helping and learning
Ok. I 'll steal the Peter Thiel question: What's something that you believe to be true but almost nobody agrees with you on?
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Shae@afroniquely · Visual Design Strategist
Will ConvertKit offer extensive video tutorials? I know quite a few people who wanted to see in-depth walkthroughs on using full HTML emails with your system. Are there any good HTML email examples you can provide that uses the ConvertKit system?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@afroniquely We're trying! We record a new video for the knowledgebase almost every day. It just takes a while to build out the library. Though I'm very opinionated about HTML emails: http://nathanbarry.com/email-tem...
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John Meese@johnrmeese · Dean of Platform University
@nathanbarry @afroniquely I've also got a video course coming launching March 1st called ConvertKit Mastery, which has extensive video tutorials: http://meese.tips/convertkit
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@johnrmeese @afroniquely Buy this. John is one of our favorite customers.
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Zameer Ansari@xameeramir · @nordible previous @nerdspal @nistencorp
@nathanbarry How do you came up with the idea of ConvertKit? I mean that one or maybe two :) things which made you think - oh, I need to build this.
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@xameeramir I was a blogger making a full-time living from books and courses (http://nathanbarry.com/webapps/). I kept learning email marketing best practices, but they were near impossible to implement in MailChimp. With my background in UX design I knew I could build a better experience for people like me. 3 years later we have 2,500 customers, but it's been a very long road to get here.
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Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What does a typical work day look like for you?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@jakecrump With a growing team (14 now, 10 of whom I hired in the last 3 months) I spend far more time in meetings and planning than I did before. I try to make sure to get in an hour of customer support, an hour of coding/design, and an hour of writing each day. Then everything else is random and sporadic.
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@jakecrump I should add that with two little boys (1.5 and 4) I have very little routine in my day. So you won't find me with any morning meditation rituals or anything like that.
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Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
@nathanbarry @jakecrump Love that you still set aside time for coding/design and writing. To me this seems essential for the long-term success of your product.
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Matt Ragland@mattragland · Customer Success at ConvertKit
What is an example of how you "set convertkit apart" in a crowded email space?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@mattragland Focusing on professional bloggers. Despite having the largest email lists no one has been focused on them. All the bigger companies want to go after small/medium businesses, because that's the biggest market and they can get funding for it. So the bloggers get neglected. So we can take care of this small subset better than any other product. Which gets us incredible traction and a raving fan base. It also helps that bloggers reach more people than anyone else. So when they decide to start referring their friends they do it in huge numbers.
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Ling So@ling_so · CEO, Eat2healthyweight.com
What are the top 3 decisions or actions for your success?
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Ray Pryor@raypryor3 · PrettySmart Marketing
How can I create my own AMA session like this? :-)
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Chase Reeves@chase_reeves · Co-Founder, Fizzle
What happens when we die?
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Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
What's your strategy for eclipsing Infusionsoft?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@tomstocklein Actually take care of customers. ;) In all seriousness, I think that with the narrow focus of professional bloggers we can gain a huge amount of traction and referrals. We'll also keep the product focused rather than just trying to bolt on every feature because someone asked for it.
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Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
@nathanbarry That's awesome. @patflynn wrote a great piece on why he switched over to you guys after having used both AWeber and Infusionsoft. http://goo.gl/OcxDes
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Brendan Hufford@brendan_hufford
@nathanbarry That's so cool. Totally reminds me of Basecamp.
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Vinish Garg@vingar · Co-founder @mystippi @ContentHug
We are working on a B2B (customer survey space). We are planning a beta launch to offer xx days free access to get first customers' feedback. Ultimately, it will be a SaaS model. How do we convert "non-paying customers" to "paying customers"? Any pointers to useful talks or deck will also be appreciated.
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@vingar I like to get money from customers as early as possible. I find that when people say they like an idea or that they would buy something they aren't to be trusted. The only thing you can trust as feedback and validation is cash. So rather than giving it to early customers for free, I'd try to work out a deal where they pay a discounted rate for the beta and more access to you and your team.
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Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Nathan! What are the three most important things a new blogger should pay attention so when starting out?
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Nathan Barry@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
@ems_hodge 1. Find a niche that you can write about for a long time. Being generic is a sure way to never have your voice heard. 2. Use your own voice. Don't write generic tutorials. I should be able to recognize your writing without your name being attached to it. 3. Write epic shit. https://fizzle.co/sparkline/writ...