Patrick Campbell: Value Based Pricing – Talk Recap – FemtoConf 2018

The FemtoConf 2018 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @Patticus

  • How growth is changing: What we think works doesn’t actually work. This has dire consequences for your business. 
  • We are living on another planet: 
    • 10 years ago you could build a database with a shiny UI and you were good
    • Today you face fierce competition
  • Number of competitors when you started: 
    • 5 years ago: about 3
    • 1 year ago: roughly 10
  • Sales & Marketing channels are plentiful
    • Number of sales & marketing channels utilized
      • 15 years old: 2.31
      • 1 year old: 13.22
    • competition is getting harder and harder
  • Time taken to fully onboard product in an organization: 
    • 10 years ago: 56.7 hours
    • 1 year ago: 
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC) has increased significantly by about 70% over the past 5 years
  • relative value of features is declining
    • willingness to pay has declined over time
    • Customers do not care about your features (average NPS is actually down from 33 to 10.2) 
  • What once worked is no longer working for building a business
    • Our playbook was acquire, acquire, acquire
    • Pricing (and retention) is an afterthought
  • Acquisition is now table stakes
  • Impact of improving:
    • Monetization >> Retention >> Acquisition
  • We are building the wrong product, because we don’t talk to our customers enough

How do we fix this?

  • Stop building. Stop buying ads. Stop guessing and checking. 
  • For the love of God: Talk to your customer!
  • How do we do that? 
    • There are three types of data you’re really looking to measure: 
      • Demographic data (purely for segmentation – i.e. size of team, revenue, software they are using)
      • Relative Preference Data
      • Willingness to Pay Data
    • Surveys
      • a non-compensated survey should be at most 5 questions long
      • compensated surveys maximum of 15 minutes
    • Start with a draft of your buyer personas
    • What’s our experimental design look like? 
      • Relative preference: What do people value? 
        • Don’t let them rank features on a scale of 1 to 10
        • Force them to decide on the most/least important feature
  • How much are people willing to pay? 
    • At what (monthly) price point does PRODUCT become too expensive that you’d never consider purchasing it? 
    • At what (monthly) price point does PRODUCT start to become too expensive, but you’d still consider purchasing it?
    • At what (monthly) price point is PRODUCT a really good deal?
    • At what (monthly) price point does PRODUCT become so cheap that you question the quality of it? 

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Anthony Eden – DNSimple – MicroConf Europe 2015 Talk Recap

The MicroConf Europe 2015 Talk Recaps can be found on the central “hub” page.

Twitter: @aeden


Talk Recap

  • 7 figure revenue
  • looks successful from the outside, but
    • conflict with brother/co-founder –> no longer speaking to each other
    • father passed away
    • 7 hour DDoS

lessons learned from going through the lows

  • don’t make decisions when you are upset
    • it leads to really bad decisions
    • wait a few days/weeks before making decisions
  • get a second, third, fourth opinion
    • from people you can trust
    • join a mastermind group
      • people learn about your business and can give good feedback
  • look at all the options
    • avoid tunnel vision
  • when things go awry, stay the course
    • things aren’t as bad as you think they are
    • you’re probably doing really well if you’re selling stuff online and talking to customers
    • you’ll weather the storm – not going to be the end of the world
  • Every successful business has failures on a daily basis
    • a great business is great at adapting to change and failures
    • it’s not all unicorn, roses and rainbows

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Ryan Delk – Beating the Revenue Cliff: How to Drive Ongoing Product Revenue – MicroConf Europe 2014

The MicroConf Europe 2014 Hub Page has notes on all the talks and additional information.

Twitter: @delk
Slides: here

Revenue Cliff

  • All digital products produce 90% of revenue in first 2-3 weeks
  • Applies to digital products across all genres and industries

Evergreen Content

  • Produce great content that will be great for years to come
  • Josh Kaufman does great content marketing
  • content needs to be:
    • valuable
    • free
    • shareable
    • similar

keep your content relevant

  • you need to update it every once in a while
  • e.g. Discover Meteor – $250,000 sales at 26.81% conversion rate
  • Every update to the book created a spike in sales
  • Drip email campaign
    • very long-term, regular, valuable content
    • binary outcome: They buy the book or they unsubscribe

Have Tiered Pricing

  • Have multiple price points / tiers
    • allows you to upsell and increase LTV

Cross Promotion

  • Brennan Dunn does that well with his products (Book, masterclass, SaaS)
  • Develop an ecosystem (products for the same audience)

Questions & Answers

  • Do cross promotion on email lists of partners

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Rob Walling – How to Validate Your Idea and Launch to $7k in Recurring Revenue – MicroConf Europe 2014

The MicroConf Europe 2014 Hub Page has notes on all the talks and additional information.

Website: / /
Twitter: @robwalling
Slides: here

What Is In It For You?

  • Benefits of the “Slow Launch”
  • How onboarding will make or break your business
  • The optimal path to recurring sales
  • Knowing when to move on

Part #1: The Slow Launch

  • Build your email marketing list –> notes from last year
  • Keys to the Slow Launch
    • Pick the right early customers
      • the 1st one didn’t work for Rob’s vision of Drip
      • Spent a month and built
        • Popup widget
        • Mailchimp integration
        • Email designer
        • Broadcast emails
      • Customer asked for a MAJOR feature –> “fired” the customer
      • choose new customers, repeat
      • Features for customer #1 & #2 have to work for #3, #4 and #5 as well!

    • Become a developer for hire (really custom onboarding)
    • When you have “Problem-Solution-Fit” for at least 1 customer, ask additional customers to join your beta
      • “Don’t worry about billing right now. We’ll do that when Drip provides you value and we are sure this is a long-term fit for you”
      • But manage expectation: “You will eventually be billed. ” (implied)
    • Go high touch
    • Name your price up front
    • … but don’t charge until a customer receives ample value
    • unlimited trial length

Part #2: Onboarding

  • MPA = Minimum Path to Awesome
    • Proposal software: first time someone gets a proposal accepted
  • MPA for Drip was 2 steps
    • Including the Javascript
    • Setting up the campaign
    • Big progress bar during onboarding
  • Do anything to make them complete the MPA
    • Concierge onboarding service (e.g. create drip email campaign for them – at no cost)
    • Add drip email campaign during onboarding
  • Lessons:
    • Determine your app’s MPA – take a guess at first & refine
    • Guide new users through the MPA
    • Do it again via email
    • Offer to do it for them (“concierge”)
    • All this increases trial activation from 5% to 60%
  • The Slow Launch Part #2
    • Wait until onboarding is working
    • Divide list into cohorts (10-20% each)
    • Send a launch email sequence with a time-limited discount
    • Wait [trial_lengths] days
    • Repeat
    • ==> $7,000 MRR

Part #3: Stair-Stepping

  • Step 1: Build one-time sale, single channel app
    • e.g. WordPress plugin, mobile app, Magento add-on
    • NO SaaS app
    • Traffic: SEO,, Amazon, Youtube, etc.
  • Step 2: Repeat step 1 until you own your time
    • e.g. 3 more WP plugins
    • Brings income diversification & experience
  • Step 3: Recurring sale
    • e.g. Baremetrics, Drip, Planscope, DistressedPro

Part #4: Lifetime Value (When to move on)

  • LTV = total profit you receive from a customer over his lifetime
  • LTV for HitTail when Rob bought it: $90
  • LTV for HitTail now: $140
  • LTV for $30 revenue, $7 profit
  • Simple way to calculate LTV: 
    • Average order size – cost of goods sold
    • OR
    • lowest plan * 10
  • Better way: 
    • One-time: ARPU – COGS
    • OR
    • Recurring: AMRPU / monthly churn
  • Sample Customer Acquisition Costs (CACs):
    • Content Marketing: $50 – $200
    • Facebook Ads: $50 – $300
    • Adwords: $100 – $1,500
    • Cold Calls/Emails: $250 – $2,000
  • LTV >= 2x CAC
  • You should quit if you can’t make those numbers work
  • “Free” marketing channels
    • Google / SEO
    • iOS app store
    • Android app store
    • plugin repo
    • Youtube
    • iTunes podcast directory
    • etc

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Brennan Dunn – 6 Tricks That Helped Me Triple My SaaS’ Growth Rate – MicroConf Europe 2014

The MicroConf Europe 2014 Hub Page has notes on all the talks and additional information.

Twitter: @brennandunn
Slides: here

  • I am a hacker & I like growth, but I don’t like the term “growth hacking”
  • I am a solopreneur – with a bunch of different products
    • I don’t work that much, because of my wife & kids (a.k.a. my board of directors)
    • Frequent Question: “How big is your team?”; Answer: “About a quarter of a person”

Why We Are Here

  • We are all here to grow
  • We are all here to make more money

The All Important Sales Funnel

  • e.g: Visitors –> Trials –> Activations –> Paid
  • Activation: “Somebody who is actually utilizing your product in their day-to-day workflow”
  • If you improve one step of the funnel, it improves all the other parts of the funnel TOO!


Lesson 1: Reaquiring Drive-Bys

  • People need to come back to your website for them to buy your product
  • random visitor: “Google, how do I raise my rates?”
  • Avoid “One size fits all” retargeting
    • Are they looking to double their rates or searching for software? –> Address those people differently
  • Visitors to marketing site –> Retarget on display network (Interested in product)
  • Visitors to blog –> Retarget on Facebook, drive to email course signup landing page
  • Retargeting is more than just converting visitors
    • Trial users: Invitation to join the founder for 1-on-1 onboarding
    • RSVP for an upcoming webinar or mastermind
    • Videos or blog posts of success stories or usage guides
    • Product updates
    • Compliment and reinforce your trial lifecycle communication

Lesson 2: Segmentation

  • Goal: Make this a product-for-one
  • Customer: “I own a development consultancy, and we bill $10,000 a week”
    • Adjust the product to what you just learned about THAT customer:
      • Lifecycle emails: “When I ran my consultancy, I…”
      • Onboarding: Sample project with development-y tasks, rate of $10k/week
      • In-App messaging: reporting verbiage, button labels, etc.
  • Further ways to individualize
    • Listed in 3rd party integration marketplace? You have referrer data – auto-default to linking with the referring tool
    • Create specialized landing pages for each persona “I run a 20 person agency… there’s no WAY a tool that works for freelancers could help me.”
    • Level over 9000: Figure out how, why, and where they first showed up on your site, and profile/cookie them for later
  • Takeaway: a perfectly placed IF-condition can go a long way toward improving conversions

Lesson 3: Trial Scores

  • Goal: Learn & Optimize Outreach during onboarding phase
  • “What is common about people who convert to paid?” (for planscope)
    • have created a project
    • invited a client to join project
    • invited their team members
    • added 3rd party invoicing integration
    • used internal communication
  • Turn that into a score for each customer in trial (Client Happiness Index)
    • Tailor your lifecycle emails according to their Client Happiness Index
    • Your #1 is to nudge people toward converting
  • Takeaway: Write & Test your automated emails inside GMail before putting them inside a cron job

Lesson 4: Educate Everywhere

  • Goal: Focus on the customer, not the product
  • Your product is only a small part of your customer’s business
    • Educate them on topics related to their business
  • “Click this button. Now enter a rpice in here. Then, click…” VS. “Here are some tricks you can use to win this new project…”
  • Send helpful content right after events in your app.
    • e.g. send a “My help is to improve your chances of winning your proposals by 2-3x. Here are a few tips:” email right after they created their first estimate
  • Celebrate your customer’s successes – and gather some great testimonials along the way
  • Takeaway: What actions ALIGN with why someone actually wants your product?

Lesson 5: Do an Exit Interview

  • Goal: Go beyond what funnels can tell us
  • Not-so-obvious reason to collect credit card upfront: Requires people to cancel
  • Ask people why they are cancelling & how you can improve
  • Collect the responses, categorize them
    • Product reasons
    • environmental reasons
      • some won’t help you
      • but “I ran out of client work” –> you can teach them to get more business
  • Takeaway: People are at the high water mark of their emotional entanglement with your product when they cancel

Lesson 6: Ways to Increase CLTV

  • The goal of the trial is to establish product fit. When done, CHARGE.
  • Decrease churn, e.g. by offering them a discount when they are likely to churn


  • Look for repeatable quests that get you to that next level faster

Questions & Answers

  • What do your customers mean to you?
    • My customers were struggling with cashflow, it’s great to help them
    • “Raising my rates is what allowed me to finance my wedding” –> Best. Feedback. Ever.
  • Can you expand on your use of CRMs to provide 1-on-1 onboarding?
    • Push customer happiness index into, multiply by CLTV,
  • You have switched positioning from freelancers to agency. How did you adjust your content marketing?
    • There are different terms for “people who work for other businesses on a project basis”: freelancer, consultancy, consulting agency
    • Agencies don’t think advice for freelancers works for them
    • “Duplicating”/Cloning content for freelancers and agencies
  • How did you do 1-on-1 onboarding?
    • I remotely joined them on their computer, trying to work their way through the app and get confused


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Rachel Andrew – How Customers Hold the Secret to Your Success – MicroConf Europe 2014

The MicroConf Europe 2014 Hub Page has notes on all the talks and additional information.

Twitter: @rachelandrew
Slides: here
Additional Material: here – Getting Started

  • 4-year old daughter, during DotCom crisis
  • Lots of friends turned up for work in the morning and the company was gone
  • started own company as a Perl troubleshooter (!)
  • later turned business into a consultancy
  • turned bits of the consultancy into products
    • CMS framework licensed along with development services
    • license cost $4,800
    • average cost per site built $10,000

Moving on to Perch

  • downloadable self-hosted CMS software, licensed per site
  • Recurring revenue because designers build multiple sites on perch. Average 2.8 licenses/customer
  • Motivation behind Perch
    • need to have tool that would make small jobs profitable
    • drop-in CMS for tiny sites
    • started as internal tool, quickly turned into standalone product (“Scratch your own itch”)
  • “We had no idea what we were doing”
  • version 1
    • built over 4 weekends
    • sold for $55 on launch
    • “profitable” in 24 hours

Keeping Your Customers Front and Center

The “Missing Features at Launch don’t Matter to Anyone but You

  • Solve a complete problem for your customers
  • Sell your solution to that problem
  • Existing customers enjoy getting new features after they paid – FREE STUFF!

Scratch Your Own Itch but be Aware that You are not Your Ideal Customer

  • Version 1 was the product we wanted & needed
  • Our first customers were our friends & peers (People like us)
  • Second wave of customers had different requirements
  • ==> Version 2 was the product that our real customers needed

Lesson 3: The Happy Majority will be Silent

  • Provide great customer support
  • there are many terrible ways to configure PHP web hosting – we know all of them
  • The more people CAN do with your product, the more they WANT to do (more feature requests)
  • June to October 2014
    • 38% of people who bought also raised a thread in the forums
  • Your best customers may never speak to you
    • Find out who they are & get in touch.
    • Ask for feedback
    • surveys can prompt customers to give feedback
    • Happy, Silent Majority will answer with “Please don’t change anything”
    • Ask for feedback BEFORE you change features
      • Helps you not to break things for existing customers
      • when it feels like “everyone” is asking for features, it’s often just a few noisy people
      • Make sure you don’t break your product for the happy majority because of a few noisy people

Lesson 4: Your Customers can Show You how to Sell Your Product

  • We love:
    • Storing structured data
    • Templates defining a schema
    • Speed & efficiency of the template engine
  • Our customers love:
    • not having to know PHP
    • that the CMS doesn’t mess with their markup
    • that the end client doesn’t need handholding to edit the site
    • that they can use any Bootstrap template or jQuery plugin
  • The fact that great code makes that possible is NOT a selling code, the side-effects are!
  • “The things your customers tell you they love should be your headlines”

Lesson 5: We’re NOT Looking for Features, we’re Solving Problems

  • Customer: “Can you add a setting for this?” (Blog post: Checkboxes that kill your product)
    • Ask back: “What problem are you trying to solve?”
    • As the product owner you need to get from specific to the general use case
    • Collect use cases from support, from feature requests, from the way you see people use your product
  • New features keep your existing customers happy and sticking with you as their needs are met

Lesson 6: Expecting new features to mean more sales is a mistake

Lesson 7: You can Learn a lot from the “misuse” of Your Features

  • Perch has blog module
    • customers didn’t use it as a blog, but as a portfolio, gallery etc
    • “Why are they doing that?”
    • They used it because it allowed them to CATEGORIZE!
  • Pave the cowpaths
    • See what users are already doing
    • Don’t penalize them for making that choice
    • Find ways to help them do the thing they want to do in a better way

Lesson 8: Great Support can be Your best Feature & Your most Effective Marketing

  • Keep your clients (and their clients!) happy
  • Help people to do things they couldn’t do before they started using your product
  • “One customer well taken care of is more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising”
  • Care about your first run experience (Minimum path to awesome)

Lesson 9: The Influencers are Fickle

  • ideal perch customer
    • freelancer or agency building lots of sites
    • understands that time is money
    • prefers running a solid business over constantly learning new things
    • often does fixed price website builds
  • the “influencers”
    • well-known in the web industry
    • can charge a premium for their work
    • can treat each project as a “special snowflake”
    • have time in higher budgets to try new things
    • have a need to learn new things in order to be able to talk about them in their influencer role
  • ==> We don’t chase the influencers
  • Don’t rely on influencers for marketing; treat attention from them as a bonus

Lesson 10: You are NEVER Done

  • We are so lucky
    • We can live off our product
  • We are so tired
    • We’ll answer support requests from the beach
    • We’ll add new features occasionally
  • We swapped 10 clients per year for 1000s of customers
  • We are supporting our customers every day of every year and have been doing for over 5 years
  • With no exit plan, we are never done. We need to learn how to make this work well.

Questions & Answer

  • Up- & Downsides of building a business with your significant other:
    • You don’t stop thinking/talking about your product
    • If things aren’t going well it is doubly stressful (business + personal – i.e. financial problems)
  • Can you tell us more about your 24 hours to profitability?
    • We built a landing page, told our friends
    • got mentions on Twitter
    • –> 500 people on launch list
    • costs were really low
  • Was it a conscious decision to NOT grow the company more?
    • Never wanted to be a manager of people (again)
    • Purposely didn’t take more work with consultancy
    • With Perch we wanted to learn how things work before we hired
    • We need to grow now, we need PHP experts to bounce ideas with
  • Why have you not done a SaaS model?
    • we want to have a SaaS option in the future (less server configurations)
    • We didn’t want to provide hosting (low-margin) in the beginning
  • How are you going to grow exceptional customer support?
    • Hard, because our support is highly technical
    • Train people by installing perch for new customers
  • How do you resist urge to implement every feature request?
    • Drew will see interesting code challenges, Rachel is more pragmatic
    • Keep complexity down, don’t add features that add complexity
    • Keep Perch simple and do complex things in new product (Perch Runway)
  • How did you grow business after the initial “friends and peers” phase? What’s your best marketing strategy?
    • Word of mouth
    • Content marketing
    • Speaking at conferences
  • What did you do to keep yourself motivated?
    • Go for long runs
    • Listen to podcasts
    • Set achievable goals

Social Share Toolbar – Monthly Income Report August 2014

I wondered for a long time whether I wanted to share my income publicly. I have done it in the past – either on the podcast I am co-hosting or in the Micropreneur Academy. But these places are either a closed community (the Academy) or no one really listens to them anyways (my podcast 🙂 ). Publishing it on the blog for the world to see, and for Google to index, is a whole different ball game.

But people like Pat Flynn, Matthew Woodward and Josh Pigford as well as companies like Moz and Buffer convinced me to do this.

I write this report for people like myself: People who are building a product and are struggling with the first steps of the journey. Not with the technology, but with actually bringing it to market and growing it.
I write it for reactions like this one from Nathan Powell:

Hey Christoph.
It’s so nice to read about a “normal” launch.
Encouraging even. Keep it up, and here’s to 2022!

In short: I write this report for YOU. I want to encourage you to travel this (hard & stony) road. It’s immensely fun.

What is Covered in This Report

I will only cover what I make from LinksSpy; if you want to know what LinksSpy is, then here’s an article on how I started. This means, that I do not include money earned from consulting/freelancing nor what I make in my day job.

I will try to provide detailed information on my expenses as well, but my systems for accounting are lacking in precision (read: “I suck at keeping track of all the invoices”). So the numbers could be off by a bit.

Looking Back – The History of LinksSpy

I launched (and started billing customers) in May 2014 after a long private beta. I started out with 10 customers and $190 in Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) after a few days.

In the months after that I saw slight improvements from new signups. I don’t get many visitors to the website (yet), so there isn’t much volume going into the funnel.

In June my revenue went up to $235 from 13 customers. Than it was $255 from 15 customers in July. On August 1st it was down to $235 again – this time from 16 customers (I lost one customer with $40 MRR, but gained 2 customers at $10/mo each).

The Numbers

Revenue in August

August has been the most successful month so far in terms of MRR growth: I more than doubled MRR to $489 from 21 customers. I’ll talk about how I did this in a bit, but first focus on the numbers.

In total I collected about $478 in payments from my customers.
My Stripe account is in Euros (€) and I used today’s (14.09.2014) exchange rate to calculate the dollar amount – so this is a bit off.


Due to the way LinksSpy is set up my costs are really low. It was one of my design goals to keep most things running on Heroku‘s free tier. This is partly because I’m really cheap and – more importantly – because I didn’t know how well LinksSpy would do and I was afraid of catastrophic failure.

Thus, I only pay $9/mo for the hobbyist database plan and $20/mo for the SSL endpoint.

Other expenses:

  • $20.48 in Stripe fees
  • $49 for Drip
  • $166.65 for 3 blog articles written by my content marketing genius
  • $20 for design work for a blog article I wrote

If I didn’t miss anything (which I probably did), the total costs were $435.13.


For the time being, I don’t plan on making any profit from LinksSpy. I want to focus on growing it as fast and as big as possible, thus I’m re-investing everything back into LinksSpy.

However, I didn’t spend all the moneyz in August and so I made a small profit of $42.87. Rest assured that I will find a way to spend that money in September 🙂

My Takeaways

So what caused this steep increase in MRR?
The single biggest factor was/is that i doubled my prices for NEW signups – I grandfathered all my existing customers in at their old rates.
Yeah, you read that right: I DOUBLED prices. Insane – isn’t it?

That – of course – wasn’t my idea, but rather Patrick McKenzie’s idea of “Charge.More.”. I think it was at MicroConf Las Vegas in 2013 where he laid out a simple enough rule: “Double your prices; watch conversion rate; repeat until conversion rate drops significantly”

That rule is REALLY easy. It makes sense intuitively: As long as people sign up with (more or less) the same frequency, they are seeing the value in your product.
The only problem with this is: You have to overcome internal objections to actually double prices. It is hard; You have all the worries in your head that people will hate you for it.

Fact is: No one will hate you for it. Most people won’t even realize that you doubled prices. Plus, you can always just go back to your old pricing, if the need arises.

Another contributing factor is that I randomly threw money at the problem: I invested $100 in StumbleUpon and $50 in Twitter advertisements.
Of course I didn’t set up ANY analytics AND/OR tracking (that’s for cowards, obviously), so I don’t know which (whether?) of the two ads brought in customers. Well, there’s always room for improvement – in this case there is a LOT.

Overall, I think that the biggest factor was that I finally focused on marketing, instead of coding away on LinksSpy.

Progress in August

Despite being away on holiday for two weeks in August, I managed to finish quite a few things:

  • moved the LinksSpy blog to and the application to
  • I finished writing a really cool blog post about the costs of paid links – I’ll talk more about the impact of that in my September report
  • numerous small improvements in the application itself – among them lifecycle emails. E.g. users who entered their email address, but didn’t enter credit card details (i.e. they churned during signup) now get an email the following day which reminds them to finish the signup process

What to Focus on Next Month

I’ll try and focus more on marketing again. After all, that’s what will get me new customers. Despite all my vows to do more, I still suck at actually doing it.


August was an incredible month for me. It really fueled my motivation for LinksSpy. That said, you can see for yourself from the numbers above that I am no where near making a living off of LinksSpy.
It is easy to loose motivation when you compare yourself to the likes of Brennan Dunn, Nathan Barry, Patrick McKenzie, Mike Taber et al., but if I look at things with a bit of realism, I feel like I’m not doing that bad after all.

Oh.. and my goal of making enough money out of LinksSpy by 2022 suddenly became a lot more realistic 😉

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How I Made The World A Little Bit Better In 2013

I planned on going for a more general title like “This Was My Year 2013”, but then Brennan Dunn went forward with a very audacious “How I Changed The World In 2013“.

I’m in no-way even close to what Brennan achieved with his business, so I won’t be as bold. But I feel like I made the world a little bit better in 2013 – and here’s why.

The Things That Went Well

I am still happily married

I know this doesn’t seem like a lot and it is not an achievement in the eyes of most readers. But it means the world to me.

My wife and I have been a couple for close to ten years now and have been married for over six. For me this is the single most important thing that “happened” in 2013.

I Worked For Moz

This was probably the highlight of my year. I spent five month in Seattle to work for Moz as an intern (for legal reasons).

Being able to work and life in a different culture was an eye-opening experience. The way Americans think about gender/racial equality is quite different from the way Germans see it. The way our economies work in respect to hiring/firing, paid sick leave and other social benefits is totally different.

For instance, Moz received an award for what they call “paid-paid vacation” – you get $3,000/year if you go on vacation.
It took me a while to realize, but about 46% of all employees in Germany get “Urlaubsgeld” – which is the very same thing.
Now, don’t get me wrong! Moz is – considering only pay & benefits – by far the best employer I’ve found in the US so far and they deserve getting this award. If you take into account the people and the culture at Moz they easily surpass most companies in Germany. I just want to say (again speaking only benefits) that the most generous US company is sub-par for German/European standards.

On the other hand, it seems to me that it is way harder to get hired in Germany – especially if you lack the proper diplomas. In the US (at least in tech) interviewing processes are geared towards testing how well you fit the job you’re being interviewed for – in Germany it is a lot more about having a university diploma or a “duale Ausbildung” (a typically 3-year education consisting of vocational school and training on the job).

Overall hiring seems to happen a lot faster in the US and it happens for jobs as well. Of course most people are at-will employees – a concept that completely shocked me and I still have a hard time understanding how millions of people handle the stress.

Learning those differences was worth the trip itself, but I also got to work with the amazing people at Moz. I’ve spent a good amount of time outside of work with great people from Moz and became friends with some of them. And it also taught me, that I have a lot to learn in terms of intercultural competence.

Here are some pictures I took while in the US for your entertainment

I attended MicroConf and MicroConf Europe

One of the benefits of spending five months in the US was that I was able to attend MicroConf. Spending three days around such smart and driven people was incredible and it helped me against my own procrastination.

While there I started taking notes of all the MicroConf talks on a hunch. I am still amazed by the success this was.

Success is relative here, the best I ever got was about 500 visitors on a single day. It has now settled to about 500 uniques a month. I am quite sure most of you easily have more than that.

Taking notes made me kind of instant-famous in the crowd and it increased my luck surface area substantially. Good things that happened to me, that I attribute to my taking notes:

  • a made a lot of good friends (Dave Collins, Brennan Dunn, Oliver Grahl and many others)
  • I got invited into a Mastermind group with really amazing people (including one of the speakers)
  • I joined a chat room with a lot of MicroConf and BaconBizConf attendees (all of them very smart, with a lot of great business ideas, and very inspiring)
  • I had dinner with Joanna Wiebe & Lance Jones of, Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch and a few other folks after MicroConf
  • lots of incoming links, tweets, and visitors 🙂

MicroConf Europe

Subsequently, I attended MicroConf Europe, took notes and organized an attendee dinner with about 80 attendees. Organizing the dinner was a really good idea. I had a lot of good talks during the conference, because I organized that dinner.

Take-away: Go to a conference, but don’t just sit there passively. Get active, get involved. Take notes, organize a dinner, do whatever. Just do something!

Micropreneur Meetup Munich

In late 2013 I founded a local meetup group for micropreneurs here in Munich. It’s great to have like-minded people around you to talk about stuff every once in a while. We had one initial meeting in November and the next one is scheduled for January 3rd.
If you live close by, please join us 🙂

I started making money on TerminRetter

I started working on TerminRetter back in 2012. Then I tried my hand at marketing it. I still have to figure out how to do this properly. My attempt at print magazine advertising failed utterly. As did my direct mail campaign.

I have no real idea why those campaigns didn’t work. I have some assumptions, but no clear idea. Maybe I should have kept at it for longer to learn more and make it work. Coming to think about it, I probably should have.

However, I still managed to find customers. It has been a struggle, but it feels awesome to know that you are delivering value to someone and make the world a little bit better for them.

Graduating From University

Attending University has been my day-to-day business for the last 4 years. I can happily say that this is over. I graduated with a Master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science.

Being finished with this is a big relief. I did (very) well, but at the same time I didn’t like it one bit.

It feels great being done with this. Plus I now have one of those diplomas that employers care sooo much in Germany – Yay!

The Things That Didn’t Go So Well

Not Living Healthily

This is something I am battling with all the time – and loosing most of the time. I wish it were easier for me to exercise regularly, but sadly it isn’t.

I gained about 10 kilos while I was in the USA. After my return to Germany I started exercising more regularly (boy is hard to run with all that extra weight) and lost 6 kilos so far. Slower than I hoped for, but it’s a start.

Maybe I should form a new year’s resolution around this 😉

Struggling With Marketing

Honestly, marketing is still a mystery to me. I’ve spent a lot of time in 2013 reading about marketing and I tried my luck with implementing some of that knowledge. It helped very little.

I seem to understand the concepts (customer development, copy writing, collecting & nurturing leads). The execution is the really hard part of it. There are so many details that I don’t fully understand (e.g. which questions to ask best during customer development).

For TerminRetter it seems like I picked a really tough market (i.e. Germany) – or so a lot of people who sell both international and on the domestic market tell me.

That being said, I feel like I am getting better at this with every time I try something. This may take me longer than other stuff to learn, but I’m hell-bend on mastering it.


I am easily distracted. I spent countless hours reading articles on the web (Hey there, Hacker News, thanks for keeping me from being productive!)

I like to play World of Tanks or watch TV series (Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Falling Skies, Under the Dome).

If I were a better man, I would stop doing all that and focus on moonlighting my business. Alas, I am not.

Plans for 2014


I’ve already started slow launching my new SaaS product I shifted the focus away from TerminRetter because I feel like it is easier to sell to an international audience.

So far the results are pretty decent and I have over 250 subscribers on my email list (10x what I ever got on TerminRetter mailing list).
The beta testers I onboarded seem to be happy with the results they got out of LinksSpy so far, but they also showed me a few features that are still missing.
I’ll have to iron that out before I can launch it – and I have to put more effort into the marketing side of things.

Attend MicroConf Europe

Due to me being busy with the day-job I probably won’t make it to MicroConf in Las Vegas, but I plan on going to MicroConf Europe (if they do it again and it takes place over the weekend).
If I do, expect to see some notes on the talks somewhere on this blog 😉

On The Job Training

In 2014 I will be very busy with my day-job, because I have to undergo a lot of training courses year-round. We’ll see how that goes, but I am looking forward to all the new things I learn.


Last year was amazing. There were a TON of great things that happened in my life (and some not so great things). I hope that 2014 will be similar in this regard.

So long have a Happy New Year 2014!

PS: What are your plans for 2014? Let me know in the comments, maybe there’s a good plan that I can steal implement as well 🙂

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Patrick McKenzie (Patio11) Newsletter Archive

Patrick McKenzie (Patio11) is giving out great advice in his newsletters (You probably knew that part already). But did you ever end up in the situation where you thought “Damn it! Patrick wrote about that topic a while back.. now where is that newsletter?”. Yet  you couldn’t find the right one in your inbox or maybe you lost all of them because your HDD crashed.

Well, I surely did. But since I can view all the newsletter on the web, I’ll start an archive for all the greatness that is Patrick’s newsletter.

Thanks to Matthew Lehner for letting me know there is already an archive page online. I’ll keep mine up so you guys have a small summary for each email

Main Newsletter

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Google +1 Korrelation mit Suchergebnissen

Diese Woche gab es einen extrem interessanten Artikel im Moz Blog mit dem Thema "Amazing Correlation Between Google +1s and Higher Search Rankings" in dem Cyrus aufzeigt, warum es (aus SEO-Sicht) deutlich besser ist ein +1 auf Google+ zu bekommen als z.B. ein Facebook Like oder einen ReTweet auf Twitter.

Die Ergebnisse der Ranking-Factors-Untersuchung

Vor etwa einem Monat hat Moz die Ergebnisse der jüngsten Ranking-Factors-Untersuchung bekannt gegeben.

Auffallend war damals schon, dass die Anzahl an Google +1 stärker mit der Reihenfolge in den Suchergebnissen (SERP für Search Engine Results Page) korreliert als jede andere (nicht-abgeleitete) Metrik.

Korrelation ist nicht Kausation aber es ist schon sehr auffällig, wenn die Korrelation höher ist als z.B. die Anzahl verschiedener Webseiten, die auf den Content verlinken.

Die Frage ist also: "Beeinflussen Google +1 direkt die Suchergebnisse?"

Warum Google +1 anders ist als andere soziale Signale

Im Gegensatz zu Facebook Likes und Twitter Mentions hat ein Google +1 zwei entscheidende Vorteile:

  1. Es wird fast sofort von Google in die Suchergebnisse aufgenommen. Das ist einer der Gründe, warum Google sein eigenes soziales Netzwerk hat: Dadurch hat die Suchmaschine sofort direkten Zugriff auf Veröffentlichungen in einem sozialen Netzwerk und wird nicht abgeschirmt (wie z.B. bei Facebook)
  2. Links in Google+ haben einen positiven SEO-Einfluss. Im Gegensatz zu Links auf Twitter (die allesamt nofollow sind) geben Links in Google+ den Link Juice weiter.


Ich würde auf jeden Fall empfehlen den Artikel von Cyrus komplett zu lesen. Eines ist aber ziemlich sicher: Google +1 lohnen sich für den Inhaber einer Webseite mehr als Twitter Mentions oder Facebook Likes.

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