BACK TO
How Laura Roeder built MeetEdgar on her own terms
   

How Laura Roeder built MeetEdgar on her own terms

Running a business and running a family is no easy task. But Laura Roeder has managed to excel at both.

Our interview with the founder of MeetEdgar, a leading social media scheduling tool, has some great insights on how to be a full-time parent and maintain a normal work-life balance at the same time.

In this episode, our conversation focuses on how to create a business on your terms. We’ll talk through how Laura has structured her work so that she is not dominated by “due dates” and “deadlines.”

Learn how Laura applies this idea of creating meaningful work into both her personal life and into her business.

Listen to Scale or Die on iTunes
Listen to Scale or Die on Spotify
Listen to Scale or Die on Stitcher

Subscribe to Scale or Die

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

0:00 Introduction 
1:32 What is MeetEdgar? 
2:55 How to build a business on your own terms 
8:54 Principles for creating great remote work 
20:01 Can you be a parent and still run a startup? 
25:19 The story behind launching and growing MeetEdgar
41:10 Salty Six

Full Transcript:

DR: Today, I’ve got a guest that I have been following for a couple years now.

And I ended up with her inside this SaaS founders Slack group which I got invited to by Josh Pigford of Barametrics. So, thanks for that Josh.

So today, I’ve got Laura Roeder who is the CEO and founder of MeetEdgar which is a tool and company that helps you automate and post your content to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

MeetEdgar

And basically, it kinda optimizes and helps you automate all of your social media marketing. I’ve been watching her grow for a couple years now. I like her thinking, I like her strategies. She has built a great remote team I think without raising any money though I’ll find out here in a sec.

LR: Correct.

DR: Okay, cool. And I’m really excited to kinda dig in and learn more from Laura because she’s somebody I respect and have watched grow a great company over the years. So, Laura, welcome to Scale or Die.

LR: Thank you, excited to be here.

DR: So, I gave my own little intro. But I wanna hear from you. As the founder, in your words what is MeetEdgar? How long you guys been around? And just kind of where’s the company today so we have some context?

LR: Yeah, so MeetEdgar launched in 2014 as more of a social media marketing, automation tool as you mentioned.

Mostly for very small businesses, a lot of solopreneurs, freelancers, that type of business is our core customer. Now, we’re at about five million ARR and we have a team of about 15 people. And yeah, we’re bootstrapped, profitable and proud.

DR: Very cool, I love it. And you guys are distributed all over the United States you were telling me before but you’re in the UK, right?

LR: Yes, I live in the UK.

And actually you know you introduced me as founder and CEO, but I’m actually just founder now. We do have a president that runs the day to day of the business.

MeetEdgar team

MeetEdgar’s distributed team

So, since I moved here I’ve kind of taken a step back. And the rest of the team is in the U.S. And then we have one in Canada. So, the way we work is a little different than remote teams who are worldwide.

We’re not, you can’t live anywhere, you can’t work anytime. You need to work during normal working hours because we do a lot of meetings, you know. Every department does, you know, their Monday check-in and their Friday retro.

We have a company-wide meeting every Monday. We like to work online together we’re just not physically in the same room.

DR: And so how did you come up with that? Was that because you had tried doing more asynchronous, fully distributed work and it didn’t work for you? 

LR: It is, yeah.

So, the various companies that I’ve run I’ve always been remote. And for me, that was just kind of a decision by default because I always traveled a lot.

And I didn’t live in any one place for that long. So, it just, it wasn’t a natural decision to say yeah, I’m gonna put down roots and have an office and a team here when I wasn’t there.

So, it was just sort of remote by default is how I started. And as I worked with people farther away, a person in Hawaii, a person in the Philippines I noticed all the pros and cons that you notice especially with the person in the Philippines it’s like, aw, I’d go to sleep and then I wake up in the morning and she has all this work done.

And then I can’t talk to her for my entire workday.

And it’s like, you know, a lot of people have experienced this where you sort of always feel a day behind.

I noticed that the working style I really like to talk through things with people. Like, I’m not a programmer basically is really what I’m saying, right?

I don’t like to put my head down for eight hours and not be bothered. I really like to work through things with other human beings. So, I noticed that it fit my work style really well. And I also noticed that a lot of the things that people complained about with remote working are really solved just by having a smaller timezone spread.

Like, one of the biggest problems with remote working that you often don’t hear about is that it is even more likely to be a 24/7 job, you know?

I think this is a huge problem for all types of jobs now that people are expected to be on their phones, checking in in the evening and the weekend. And we’re really clear that we did not, I did not, want a culture like that in my company.

But if some people are working when it’s 9:00 p.m. your time a lot of these companies you’re kind of expected to be like sort of on-call all the time.

And, of course, you’re gonna need to have meetings early in the morning or late at night, right? If that’s when your co-workers are on.

So, we just decided we want everyone to be able to work Monday through Friday in the normal workday. And that’s actually what we do at our company. You know, we don’t have crunch time, we don’t work on the weekend. No one is ever like texting each other off-hours.

DR: I guess that’s part of serving small businesses is kind of what we found at Proof is there’s no one person that’s like: I have to have this feature at this time.

It’s like it’s distributed across, I don’t know, how many customers do you guys have?

LR: Like thousands, yeah.

DR: Yeah distributed across thousands of people. Outside of big breakages or downtime, there’s nothing that’s gonna be like we have to do this by this Friday All Hands on deck.

LR: Exactly. And that’s another way that is kind of core to how we run our company. I mean, we obviously set estimates for when we want things to happen.

But we don’t use the system of having a super hard and fast deadline because we don’t have to. You know, like, we might decide internally, okay, we’re gonna ship this on Monday. By the way, we figured out don’t ship things on Friday because then they break over the weekend and no one’s there to fix them. So, ship them on Monday.

DR: We used to get our work done like all week.

And then like Friday afternoon, we’d be like about to walk out the door. We’d be like, well, we just gotta deploy all the work form the week. And it was like the dumbest, this was like with our first couple months a software. And then, of course, the like CTO he has to call his wife and be like: I’m not coming home tonight.

And then like his Saturday’s gone. And now it’s like yeah like, yeah like you cannot do anything big on Friday.

LR: Yes, we learned the same lesson. So, we might decide okay we’re all gonna band together to get this live on Monday.

But you know what? It turns out the thing doesn’t work there’s a major problem with it — it goes live on Wednesday.

And it doesn’t matter. We haven’t made any promises to any big customer. We don’t need to stay up all night just for this arbitrary deadline that we created. Obviously, there’s a limit to this. You can’t just let things go on forever.

But I love getting rid of those arbitrary deadlines. It just makes work a lot more stressful than it needs to be.

DR: Yeah, totally. I think there’s kind of this little band of companies that, you know, I know some of the founders of and watch. And they’re kind of the pro bootstrappers and seem to be more pro remote.

Like we’re gonna be a distributed team. And those two kinda go together. And they’re passionate about that. I guess, in your mind, it’s a little bit you.

Do you think those go together for any particular reason and are you passionate about those? Or is that just more of, that’s just a by-product of how you guys wanna run your company and you’re not necessarily big on those things but they just happen to be what you guys do?

LR: No, I am passionate about both of those things.

And I guess one common thread between them is just the freedom. You know, a big reason why I’m passionate about bootstrapping is that you don’t have anyone to answer to about how you run your company.

If you want your company, for example, to go at a slower pace, right? Not grow as quickly as maybe an investor would require you to, you have that choice. And I think remote just gives the team just some possibilities that you don’t have.

We’ve had people on our team, you know, maybe they wanna go visit family. Well, they can go to stay there for a month, right? And just work during the day wherever they’re visiting and hang out with their family every evening.

You can’t do that if you have an in-person office. Also, people moving. I had no idea how often people would move cross country on our team. It happens all the time. I was not expecting it at all. You know, often because their spouse got a job somewhere else and the idea that we would have lost out on all these amazing people that had to move. I mean, you know, it’s just the reality. But I’m glad that we didn’t have that. So, yeah, I think freedom is a common thread between those two things.

DR: As a founder, typically with the founders that wanna build more freedom into their business yeah those are two great options.

Nah, I love that. I think that makes a lot of sense. I actually hadn’t thought about that.

What are some of the principles that you guys have put into place in order to do remote work well? I was reading your employee handbook earlier which is on your about page if anybody’s interested. It’s really cool.

No private slack

A section from MeetEdgar’s employee handbook

And one of them was “hey, no private Slack chats, you know?”

I get it, outside of certain sensitive topics. It’s like just put it in a channel for everyone to see it. And I thought about that with us. We get, you know, we’re all in Austin, Texas but still, we get a lot of things lost inside private Slack messages so we don’t disturb everyone else.

But I thought that was a cool example. But what about some of the other things that have worked well that make this work?

LR: Yeah, so something else that we do is embrace meetings.

You know, it’s funny because I think there’s a lot of meeting backlash because so many people have worked in companies that had so many dumb waste of time meetings.

And, you know, I think I referenced earlier we do a video All Hands meeting every Monday. 

You know, our team is still pretty small. It’s only 15 people.

But I think a lot of companies don’t have the entire team meeting together every week. And especially being remote you need to remember that it’s other humans that you work with. Just seeing those 15 faces every week and being able to hear these little snippets of what’s going on with other departments.

And of course you could just read it but it just kind of forces everyone to listen and be together at the same time.

Something that we changed recently that’s worked really well is now everyone adds to the agenda instead of just our department heads we call advocates. And it used to be advocates would give, you know, their update about their department.

So, we changed things up and now it’s divided by the customer journey. It’s like pre customer, current customer, churned customers/save offer type stuff.

And if you did work related to one of those parts of the journey you write that update in and then you just read your stuff as you go down the agenda. So, it’s just a little thing that keeps everyone more engaged?

DR: Very cool and how long have you been doing All Hands that way?

LR: That way has been a few, a few months now. I guess like 2019 basically.

And it’s worked really well. I mean, you see people on video so you can tell on people who aren’t paying attention. And the video is another thing that we do being remote. If you have a meeting, it has to be a video meeting.

Like you can’t have a call. If you’re having any sort of back and forth get on a video call, you know? Get off the text chat. And there’s just a whole layer of communication when you can see. You know you say something and the person’s like well, people are gonna be listening to this on audio. Just imagine me making a face like I am not buying what you’re saying at all. You kind of miss that nuance of your audio-only.

DR: Or I find people think I’m kind of a jerk on Slack when really I’m just like I’m just thinkin’ about somethin’ else and I fire somethin’ off. And just it’s like, you know: What did Dave mean by that?

But like nobody ever thinks that when I’m talking to them in-person. I give you so much more context that I find most communication breakdowns happen between me and other people when I’m just writing in text. And it just doesn’t work nearly as well at least for my style.

LR: No, I think that’s really common.

And I know that you know, BaseCamp has made a really big deal of you know, writing well is so important because they’re big on asynchronous work. And everyone needs to be this amazing written communicator. But, you know, most people just have a much easier time communicating either face to face or video to video. I think we’ve all been in that situation where you’re rewriting an email three times and you’re like: Oh, I’m afraid this is coming across as too pushy. I need to rephrase how I worded that. You just, you don’t have those problems when you’re talking to someone.

DR: Yeah, that’s a good point. So, why did you step back from CEO and put a president in? And what did that look like and what’s your day to day look like now?

LR: Yeah so, you know, there were a lot of combinations of business reasons and personal reasons why I made that change.

So, the person who’s president of the company, Sarah Park, she has been with Edgar since we launched even. Actually, before we launched because I hired her for the company that I was running before Edgar.

She started out as a project manager. She moved up to be the Director of Operations and she’s always been the person that I’ve worked really closely with the whole journey.

So, it was a really natural progression for her career to move into this role. And the personal reasons, you know, a lot of it was my move here to the UK. Like I said how we work, we work together live.

Basically, the U.S. starts when it’s like 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. my time and my son gets off school at 3:00 p.m. So, it’s like the exact wrong time for me to work, you know? Basically when my kid or kids, I have a baby too so my situation’s a little different now. But I don’t wanna be working when they’re home from school. I wanna be working when they’re in school. So, I just saw that working with a team in America just if I wanna do that live type of work really isn’t a fit with my life right now.

And I also just started as I thought about making this change I saw more and more how Sarah would be able to do so much better than me in a lot of ways and that’s really proven to be true. I mean, she is, so, she’s been in the role for a little less than I guess six months now as we’re recording this. The growth has been amazing. Her results have been amazing and she’s just, she’s a lot more detail-oriented than I am. She’s doing a much better job and a much more in-depth level of management.

DR: Is she more of like a natural operator than you are — that kind of personality?

LR: Definitely. We definitely have that, you know, some people call it integrator, right? Where like I’m the visionary which like you just have to say that in a sort of sarcastic way because it sounds so cheesy I think.

DR: You have to wear a black turtleneck whenever you say that and be Steve Jobs.

LR: Right, but yes, she is much better at making sure like okay are we doing what we said we were gonna do? Something that she started doing which I think other people listening might wanna model is she does this thing that’s just called: Intent versus action.

And it’s just like this simple way to track all the projects that we’re doing. Sorry, intent versus outcome, not action. What did we intend to happen and what actually happened.

And it sounds so simple when I say it like that but I know we weren’t actually tracking what do we intend to happen here? Why are we doing this? Like, put a number on it.

We’re not putting numbers on things. So, now if we’re doing like podcast interviews, right? I do these podcast interviews to promote the business. What is our intent, why do we do it?

Are we expecting traffic? If so, how much traffic? Okay, let’s compare that to how much traffic what was the outcome? What did we actually get from it? Are we looking one month later, three months later? And we don’t do this in any fancy way it’s just like a Google doc keeping track of it. And it’s made such a huge difference largely just asking, forcing us to ask that question: What is the intent here?

DR: And is the goal to kind of close the gap between what you intend to happen and what actually happens?

LR: Yes.

DR: Because I’m thinkin’ back about us now. It’s like, yeah, we don’t track that. There’s a pretty big gap. It’s like, I intended for this to change the business. It didn’t even work at all. That happens frequently. Yeah, I guess is that the goal?

LR: Yeah, there’s a few goals.

One big goal is to stop doing things that aren’t working because we found that was a real weakness that we had. And, you know, are still working on as a company.

You put something in motion you’re doing it two years later. And you’re like, wait, has this ever been worth our time? So, yeah, exactly to close that gap and make sure that things that we are choosing to spend our time on are actually getting us the outcomes that we want.

Because a lot of things we wouldn’t put a number on because it’s really hard to do so. But we found that just a wild guess is better than nothing. And it’s like, no one’s being fired if their wild guess doesn’t match. It’s just a way for us to keep improving.

Like, maybe we thought something would get us a hundred customers and it got us two. Whereas because we wrote that hundred down we’re like oh, two is way off from a hundred. Whereas before we might be like, well, it didn’t, you know, it got us two customers. That’s better, I guess that’s better than nothing. Maybe, maybe we’ll just keep doing it.

DR: For us, that’s been affiliate promotions. And maybe there’s a different goal for affiliate promotions than what we think.

But we’re always like we want, you know, 500 customers and a thousand new trials. We always end up getting eight or five. And, again, maybe it’s a long tail but like I think in my mind that’s where like the big gap has been for us. And we look back at the campaigns we’re like this has never worked the way we’ve thought it needs to work.

LR: Yeah.

DR: We either need to recalibrate our expectations or stop doing this particular–

LR: Stop doing it, I mean. I’ve found that stop doing it is like almost, almost always the answer. Because also you make excuses like if, you know, the affiliate thing. What you really want. Let’s say what you really want is trials.

But then you’ll do it and you’ll be like well, I think, you know, I think more people are discovering us, they’re not converting to trial. But we’re getting our name out there. And you make all these excuses. But you’re, no, what we really need is trials. So, then let’s quit this and let’s do something else that would get us trials.

DR: The other thing that’s easy to do is after something’s happened to look back and diagnose it perfectly. You have perfect clarity on why that worked or why it didn’t work. Or, oh it, it’s like I still have no idea from looking back a lot of times about why that worked or what worked or what didn’t work. But we think hindsight’s totally 20/20 when I think it’s probably a lot worse than that.

LR: Well, yeah, and again that’s the intent versus outcome. It just it makes it a lot more black and white. Because it’s like it doesn’t even matter always why it doesn’t work. Of course, you know, you wanna look and see if there are lessons you can learn. But sometimes it’s like, you know what? It’s just not working. We can’t figure out why. Let’s stop doing it, let’s try something else. If we can’t think of any other way to spend our time I guess we could go back. But I just, I don’t know any startup that’s out of ideas.

DR: Yeah.

LR: You know what I mean? No one is like we can’t figure out what content to create or what to do with our product or what feature to build. We all have these super long lists of what we wanna do.

The problem is honing down. So, it’s like if it doesn’t work just try something else from your enormous list that you’ve been keeping and see how that works.

DR: Yeah, totally agree. Well, I wanna talk about some of the growth of the product but before I do that I wanna ask about shifting into being a parent while running a startup.

Because I have an 18-months old. And I’ve got another one on the way. And this is something I’ve been talking about with other founders who have young kids. And this is definitely a shift, yeah.

What’s it been like for you and how do you think about that and how do you handle that?

LR: So, it’s been an interesting part of my journey because I was pregnant when we launched Edgar.

So, I took a three-month maternity leave when the business was six months old. And, you know, we had really fast growth right from the beginning for a bootstrapped company. And we hit our first million in annual recurring revenue within the first year of the business.

So, stuff was happening, you know? While I was on that leave. So, that’s been really core to how I’ve built the business, the things I was talking about earlier of expecting people to work nine to five Monday through Friday only.

I’ve always been, you know, either pregnant or had young children while I built this business. And I saw that just the freedom and the flexibility that you need.

And I wanted to make sure that everyone on the team had that. So, I think my experience has been a lot less hustle than a lot of people’s. I just never had a time where I was like I’m staying up all night working on this business seven days a week.

I just, I didn’t do that. I just didn’t.

And you know, any business takes time and effort. But you can distribute that time and effort. It’s very strange to me when people are like oh, well, the founder, you know, has the founder has to be working hundred-hour weeks the first five years, right?

I mean, you hear this stuff all the time. It’s like okay well maybe a hundred hours of work needs to be done. You can have three people do it, you know? Why does that one person have to be doing everything? So, I just think it’s made us have a really healthy really long term point of view in the way that we’ve grown.

DR: Yeah, I used to think of, I used to think of dinnertime as like lunchtime. And this is back when I was single. And I would work until midnight.

And I just worked like all day long. And I remember back in that time I remember actually thinking this like consciously I don’t have to hustle on anything. Because I have all the time I need. I can just work forever.

And now, you know, I generally leave about five o’clock. And because I gotta get home because dinner starts. And then we’ve got an hour before bed. And it’s like if I miss that window it’s over. I’m not gonna see my son today.

And I mean I can just grind in the afternoon now. And just like bang stuff out because I actually have to. And I know there’s this hard time box deadline. So, I don’t know if I’m as productive or more productive or less productive or whatever. But I definitely feel a different sense of urgency and a different use of time then I used to have to because I can just work forever.

LR: I think it does generally make you more productive. And it also, you know, this place where I’m at now where I’m not in the day to day of the business I am relatively early there. You know — the business is five years old. A lot of people don’t get to this place so soon.

Actually, my accountant told me because I own a hundred percent of the business. And we were, you know, just talking about different tax things. And he’s like how I pay myself.

He’s like well I do have to tell you if you’re not in the day to day of the business but you own a hundred percent of it that’s a red flag for the IRS.

Because that’s a really unusual situation. And it made me feel sort of proud. Actually, I’m like oh okay I’ve gotten you know, I’ve gotten to a place where a lot of business owners don’t get. But it’s always been my mindset from day one because when we launched, right?

I knew I wanted to take, I’d have to take some sort of leave. I ask a lot of female founders what their advice was. And they all told me, you know, plan to take more time you can always come back sooner. You know you don’t know if you’re gonna have health problems if your children are gonna have health problems.

So, I’m like, I’m just gonna plan to be off a whole three months. And that’s what I ended up doing. I was totally off. So, obviously, that infrastructure had to be there right from the beginning where not everything was dependent on me. And there are business model choices like you said.

Having thousands of customers instead of two is generally a much, you know, less founder dependent model because if you have two big enterprise customers the founder usually is doing the sales and the personal relationship with them. They’ll call, you know. I’m here for you, call me anytime day or night.

Although, again, that doesn’t have to be the founder. Like maybe someone has to do that. But that doesn’t mean it has to be the person who started the business.

DR: Very cool. It seems like you’ve got good integration between decisions you’re making personally but also with your business. And they work together well. And there’s not, I mean, I’m sure there is some conflict there but not a massive amount of conflict. You’ve kind of set yourself up to succeed there.

LR: Yeah, I think that’s accurate because I think, you know, the whole point of doing your own thing is to have the life that you want, right?

I mean, whether or not you work for yourself that’s what we all want, to enjoy our lives. So, why would I not set up my business in a way that allows me to enjoy my life?

DR: Yeah, very cool. Okay, cool, so I wanna talk about launching and growing Edgar. And, by the way, do you call it Edgar or do you call it MeetEdgar?

LR: You can call it either.

DR: Because, you know, I know how it is. I mean, we’re Proof but our domain is UseProof and so, almost everybody calls us UseProof and I’m like, it’s Proof. But I’m doing the same thing to you.

LR: No, no, no so, we had the same thing.

We launched as Edgar. And so, you might wanna follow this. So, we actually switched to MeetEdgar as our official name and logo and stuff because same for you MeetEdgar if you Google us you get us a hundred percent of the time if you just Google Edgar you also get Edgar Allen Poe and there’s also a federal agency called Edgar. And you can get some other stuff too. So, we actually purposefully, people were calling us MeetEdgar because of our domain. And we’re like, okay, we’ll just make it MeetEdgar and then everyone will know it’s us.

DR: Yeah, yeah okay, cool, cool. Okay but I think before you launched you were already running like a social media marketing training business for a handful of years. Which is a similar kinda story to us.

Did that give you a huge leg up to launch the software out of an existing business that was solving the same pain in the same space?

LR: Yes. Huge leg up. I always like to give that context because again, we did grow pretty quickly for a bootstrapped business but we were not starting from zero, you know?

I’d been running a social media training business for five years already when we launched. So, I had been growing my audience and my reputation.

And my backlinks, you know, just like everything in that space. So, we did, like we didn’t have huge numbers from the first month. When you look at our first year it is just like doubling every month. It’s like the first month we literally had like 15 then we had 30 and then we had 50 and then a hundred and then 200 and 400.

So, it’s not like we launched with thousands of people but it did allow us to grow very quickly in that first year. But then it was sort of exhausted too. I mean, it’s not like that list went on forever.

I mean, there are some things like that I do get to keep leveraging like I built a Twitter audience during that time that now I still have. You know, I didn’t build an Instagram audience during that time because Instagram wasn’t around. So, that’s not something that I have. But like it’s not like I’m still most of our customers the vast majority of our customers now don’t know me don’t, know my old business.

DR: Yeah, so give you a leg up. I mean, I found for us because, you know, Proof is kinda the same. We had been a digital marketing agency and then we were training people on Facebook Ads and conversion optimization and all that.

And then we launched this tool. Yeah, we got the initial wave but I think for us it was just the fact that we deeply knew the space we were trying to build software for. And that has compounded, you know, even after the initial launch fades away it’s that we knew that. So, I guess people like listening or watching maybe you don’t have that audience.

So, what’s the space that you already have deep ownership over and deep knowledge over that you can go solve that pain that much quicker? I’m sure that was the same for you. Did you create it to solve the pain that you were already experiencing?

LR: Yeah, I mean, it was very much like literally building a tool that just I personally not even my audience wanted but just that I wanted as a user.

I just really want a social media tool that does this. And yeah you’re right, you know, something that I have now is that I feel a hundred percent confident that I very deeply understand our customer.

Image result for kendra scott

Kendra Scott, Source: Inc

And I recently met with Kendra Scott who’s an entrepreneur that I really admire.

She has a huge, huge, huge jewelry business. And her advice to me was making sure that I was talking to customers more. Since the nature of the online business I don’t get to talk to customers every day.

So, I did a little thing where I did 30 calls in 30 days. I talked to 30 of our customers on the phone. And I loved getting to know people and getting to know their stories and it was super fun. And I actually did not learn that many new things. But like in a good way. The things they didn’t like about the software were the things I knew they didn’t like about the software. The things they asked for were the things I knew that people were asking for. The way they were using it like I knew how they were using it. So, it was actually a good confirmation of okay I haven’t gotten out of touch, I do know this audience really well.

DR: That’s really cool that is good to hear that the whole social media world hadn’t changed while you stepped back a little bit and was consistent.

LR: Right. Because I’m still in it. Like I mean I am still an Edgar customer you know what I mean? I still use our software I’m still among this online community all the time.

DR: Yep, yep. So, you launch, you know, it starts to pick up.

What have been some of the big drivers of growth over the last five years? Have there been a few that stand out as this really worked well or this had a huge impact?

LR: You know what’s really hard is there is so little concrete anything to point to. I don’t know if that’s like, I think that’s both incredibly frustrating and incredibly encouraging.

Most people come to us via word of mouth but not in any way that we can track. Like not through an affiliate link, not through a special link, not through like they wrote their friends name. We just know anecdotally talking to people that they usually will say: Well, my friend was using Edgar and posted a link to it or told me to us it or whatever.

And like we have made so many changes to our marketing, you know, the makeup of our team, the content that we create, the frequency of the content.

Honestly, it’s what we’ve done right and what has worked is just been super consistent with content marketing every day for years and years, you know?

And by every day I don’t mean necessarily blogging every day. We’ve blogged like once or twice a week. But doing the blog post every week, sending out the email newsletter every week. Obviously social media, doing social media every day, promoting the business on podcasts and other things like that.

Like I wish I could tell you like oh we started using animated GIFs and then like everything. Everything took off. Or, you know, we started a podcast and after that one podcast, everything changed.

We have never had one thing that has given us a big spike like that. It’s just the collective doing the content marketing basics doing the social media marketing basics. And I’m afraid that someones gonna listen and be like:

Well, that wasn’t helpful at all. But actually, 99% of companies are not consistent with the basics that I see. If you look at most companies it’s like: Oh, we stopped blogging for six months. Like we stopped doing social media for a year. Like we haven’t emailed our list in three months because we forgot to do it. So, I think if you’re listening you should be encouraged like oh, maybe this could be easier than I think.

DR: Yeah, like it’s at first it sounds kind of not helpful but actually it’s like the most helpful because I don’t have to wait for like Entrepreneur to feature me. 

Or, you know? It’s like I don’t have to wait for one of these big things because sometimes you hear the stories where they’re like, yeah, it all changed when this — when I got this advisor. It’s like well, I can’t get a hold of them. Or when I got their thing.

LR: Right.

DR: It’s like all I’ve got today is like the ability to do things I have right in front of me. And for you, I guess it’s just been kind of success by a thousand cuts and just showing up every day.

LR: It really has and I think, I think we all know things that we should be doing better, right?

I mean, your website is such an obvious example. Like, ask any founder to pull up their own Website.

Like no one is like: I love our Website.

Everyone’s like: Oh, we do a really bad job of describing ourselves here. And our pricing table’s really confusing. And everyone can point to things on their own website that they don’t like. Change those things. Every day, every week split test a page and prove a page. If you know you should be emailing more, send the emails.

You don’t have to think of anything novel and amazing. You have a list of things you know you should be doing. The most effective thing you can do is figure out how to get yourself, your team into gear to actually do those things every single week.

DR: What is your most successful marketing funnel look like? Is that kinda people finding Edgar and coming to the home page and then just like your sign up trial?

Do you have another one that works really well? Can you kinda can describe what the acquisition channel looks like?

LR: So, god it’s so boring. I’m literally sitting here trying to think about how to make it sound more interesting.

DR: No, no, don’t, don’t, don’t, no. Just please describe it more. I like bored, I like simple, I like boring. Though if it’s boring describe that and why you think that works for you guys.

LR: So, we are big on email collection. So, our homepage has always done email collection in some way shape or form. So, it used to be that we did request an invitation. And we did that type of flow. That worked really, really well for email collection.

MeetEdgar

The landing page you see after submitting your email on MeetEdgar’s homepage.

The downside to that is that it is a bit of a barrier to people being able to purchase easily because we would only give them purchase links in the email. You couldn’t just like go to our website and buy since you had to receive your invitation first.

And it would annoy people.

So, we stopped doing that but not because it wasn’t super effective and we could go back to that at some point. So, what we have on our homepage today, which is on my list that like something that we could do a lot better. We’ve sort of taken some cues from E-commerce because whenever you go to an E-commerce site it’s always a coupon code, right?

They always have a pop-up with coupon code. So, we’re like, okay, let’s do that for us. So, if you go to our homepage now you get a coupon code for your first month free. That’s the offer on the homepage which could be highlighted much more and explained much better. So, that’s something we’re improving. And you get emails with the coupon code, you know?

DR: I think the CTA was into your email. Or no it was sign-up for our newsletter and get 30 days free. Is that kind of the way you’re framing it?

LR: Yes, which I think that’s no good. It should just be like get your coupon code in all caps. I think that would work much better.

But yes that’s what we have right now. And yeah we just send you like, we do an email newsletter every week where we link to our blog posts and other stuff that we’re doing. And then we just keep reminding you about the coupon code.

We also do other one-off offers with deadlines. So, we’re not trial focused. Like sometimes we’ll run different promotions for a free trial.

But free trial we’ve always had a lot of trouble with. We’re a very, very high setup tool. And I think that’s a little bit in conflict with a free trial because I think you’re in poke around mindset when you do a free trial. You can’t really poke around with Edgar. You have to be like, I have decided to have Edgar send out all my content. And I have to load my content into Edgar.

So, I think that’s my theory as to why free trials haven’t performed super well for us although, you know, they’re not a total dud it’s something that’s in our mix.

And, of course on the business side, it’s always great to get get a credit card. Everybody loves a credit card. So, yeah, I think doing that coupon code for the first 30 days free or sometimes we play around with different offers on like paid advertising. That’s like our main flow. And the way people find us is content marketing. I mean, we do some paid advertising on Facebook or on AdWords. But that really is a tiny thing.

Like last month our budget was like $6,000 for paid acquisition. So, it’s not huge.

DR: You serve kind of a volatile market in that small businesses, you know, solopreneurs can kinda come and go. They can just put the business on pause for the summer because they’re takin’ the summer off with their family.

LR: Yeah.

DR: What does churn look like? And how have you kind of tried to solve that problem over the last five years?

LR: Yeah, so our churn is definitely, you know, what people would call high. I’ll say that it’s been in the, you know, four to eight percent range. It’s actually not high for a small business. But for whatever reason whenever you read about churn on the Internet it’s always like one percent is too high.

DR: Oh I know, I read those things and I’m like: What? And then it’s like, you know, their serving like enterprise or something.

LR: Also there’s a lot of ways people get creative with churn math. I mean, a free trial is one of the biggest ones, right? Free trials don’t count as churn, it’s quite the loophole. So, if most of your people are coming in through free trial your churn is gonna look a lot better, right? Because those people aren’t gonna sign up and cancel. They’re just never gonna sign up in the first place. Where for us they’ll become a customer.

DR: I was reading an investor report. I think maybe it was for Zendesk or somebody. And they’d actually taken, they’d taken all of their like lowest two plans out of their churn as well. And kinda said, this is an acquisition channel. Which again as long as you tell the story its fine. But it’s like they had just removed the high churn gears and said ah no that’s part of the trial on ramp.

LR: Right.

LR: Wow.

LR: Yeah I read one that said anyone who churns after three months.

DR: Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.

LR: A churn is only after three months. I’m like, well yeah our churn would look great if we didn’t include the first three months, you know?

Again that’s just the beauty of being bootstrapped. We have no reason not to be honest with ourselves, you know? It only helps us to look at our real churn. We have no one to paint a beautiful picture with made up churn numbers.

You know, things that have worked well for us for churn onboarding is huge. Like playing around with different ways to do onboarding within the app has actually made a noticeable difference in our churn. We have moved more and more towards making decisions for people. So, this was something that we hadn’t figured out when we launched.

It’s like I think a lot of tools have this conflict of…

Do you give people like the one template and tell them turn it on? Or do you give people these much more complex options that allow them to do a lot more with the tool?

And it’s always hard because you have different types of customers that want one or the other. And we have definitely found that the more we just like make decisions and do things for people or don’t give them decisions it makes their lives so much easier. And it makes them so much more likely to actually use the software.

Because as I mentioned we’re high setup, if you set us up you stick with us, right? If you see the value you stick with us. If you don’t set us up there’s only so many months that you’re gonna pay for us obviously when we’re not doing anything for you. So, I mean that setup is everything.

DR: One tool we’ve been checkin’ out for that is called: Appcues which basically allows you to add all the tooltips and the onboarding and the custom stuff without having to have an engineer do all that inside your app.

And so our marketing team and actually success teams have been like setting that up. So, they walk through it and there are checklists and you can say, you know, highlight the button, start here and then do here and all the product walkthroughs.

And I think we saw I think it was a 73% increase in people setting up their first notification if they saw an Appcues flow as opposed to and we were A/B testing as opposed to one that didn’t.

So anyway, so I think for, you know, yours is a lot higher setup than us. You know, that might be a helpful tool for you guys. And they were one of the other guests on Scale or Die in season two.

LR: Awesome.

DR: Yeah. Sweet, well, we’ve kinda gotta finish up here. We’ve gone so long this has been awesome though. I feel like I love just kinda hearing how you are running the company and what you are doing to grow.

The Salty Six

I always wrap up with what I call The Salty Six. Which is six rapid-fire questions to get to know you better. Some personal, some business but I just wanna hear more about you. So, you ready?

LR: Ready.

DR: All right question number one of The Salty Six.

Outside of work what do you do for fun?

LR: Stare at my children.

DR: Blocks and trains. So, just hang with your kids?

LR: Yeah, I don’t have any hobbies. Actually, my husband likes to make fun of me because I literally don’t have any. Some people say reading is a hobby. But I’m like that’s just like a thing you do in this life. I do read a lot of books. So, I hang out with my kids and I read.

DR: Cool.

Do you have a morning routine? And if so what is it?

LR: I think a morning routine is a hilarious question for people with young children. So, no, I try to get my children like fed and clothed.

DR: Wake up, survive go to bed.

LR: Yes, yeah, exactly.

DR: Totally agree.

Okay, how do you focus during the day?

LR: Step away from the screen, you know? I think is always the best way to focus. And you find yourself kind of messing around, kinda not sure what you should be doing next. Literally just moving your body away from the computer screen is very helpful.

DR: Do you, so I guess like what hours do you work if your team is all in the U.S. and you’re there?

LR: So, right now I usually work one to five. Although that’s often more like two 2:30 to five.

DR: Cool, okay and I guess your team is kind of half on during that and half not.

LR: Yeah, yeah. So, the problem is our president is on the west coast. So, she has to start at eight to get that one hour of overlap with me. But yeah I would like I mentioned my hours are still not exactly what I want. That’s still after school time. I am with my kids in the morning right now. I only work part-time so it works out. So yeah I’ll probably move even more away from that.

DR: Gotcha. Okay, number four.

What’s a book that has impacted you deeply in the last few years?

Image result for the one things

Source: Amazon

LR: I will choose The One Thing. I think that’s a great book by Gary Keller. And what’s the other author called, the other one?

DR: Jay Papasan.

LR: Yeah, Jay Papasan, Austin people. Yeah, that book, it’s funny because it’s one of those books that you’re like one you coulda just had the index card you didn’t really need the whole book. And two you already knew it.

But it’s still very, very worth reading because it’s just that, they have a great podcast too. But yeah it’s just that idea of: Is this the most important thing that I can be doing with my time right now? And I think that is the practice. If you can make your business successful if you can just keep focusing on the next most important task.

DR: Yep, okay number five.

What’s the best purchase you’ve made recently under $150?

LR: Oh, well I’ll go with my Little Miss Mischief cup because I really like to drink a lot of water while I work and like I need a straw cup. But I live in the UK and they don’t have giant cups. I want a Big Gulp of water. At home, I do the 40-ounce Hydro Flask but it’s too heavy–

Image result for little miss characters

The mr men / little miss characters

DR: They don’t have Big Gulps in the UK?

LR: Do not have Big Gulps. So, I went to so many stores. And this cup is not that big. I wanted a big cup with a straw. And this was the biggest I could find. And it’s got Little Miss, oh she’s Little Miss Naughty actually. It’s got Little Miss Naughty on it, so I’m all right.

DR: Who is Little Miss Naughty? It’s like a little purple grape?

LR: Yeah, you know like the Mr. Men books.

DR: I don’t know what that is.

LR: Some people are gonna know. So, yeah she looks like a little grape. Now I have to drink out of this ridiculous Little Miss Naughty cup while I do interviews.

DR: All right, I like it. Okay and number six.

What’s a trait or characteristic that you have that has led to the success that you have today?

LR: Confidence, yeah. My husband likes to be like: You have too much confidence. Because I’m always very optimistic that things are going to go well. But yeah I think it takes a lot of confidence because you have to constantly bet on yourself. You have to constantly be like: I am gonna do this even though so many people fail at doing it because I have this crazy hope that it will work out well.

DR: Yeah, I tie confidence with just being naive. I’m glad I was naive enough to not know how hard all of this was gonna be. And confident enough and optimistic enough to actually go into it.

LR: Yes, they’re complementary traits.

DR: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Okay, very cool comments. I don’t know if I’ve heard that one yet from anybody. So, I love that. Well, very cool Laura. Well, this has been awesome. Thanks so much for showing us kinda behind the scenes about how you are running Edgar.

And love what you are doing, super cool company. I like that you’re building a company on your own terms and your own way and just showing up every day. And that’s created a massive amount of success for you. So, if people wanna follow you, see you, look you up, you know, where should they go?

LR: Yeah, so MeetEdgar is meetedgar.com, MeetEdgar on the social medias. You can find me on Twitter @LKR or sometimes I blog at my name LauraRoeder.com.

DR: Very cool, a’ight well thanks so much Laura. Great havin’ you on.

LR: Thank ya.

New call-to-action
This interview has been edited and condensed.