Have you ever wondered how much personal brand affects software sales? Check out this is great episode with Rob Walling. In our interview he reveals a ton of tactics for outsourcing your development on oDesk, finding a good idea for your business, and marketing your product effectively. If you’ve ever wanted to start and launch your own software products as a solo-founder, this episode is full of practical advice you can use. Rob is the founder of HitTail, and co-founder of Startups for the Rest of Us and the Micropreneur Academy.


  • How to outsource your work: techniques for oDesk:
    • Browse the listings: look how boring most of the tasks are!
    • Post an interesting job description
    • Build relationships, and treat the people you hire well
  • What makes a good idea, in terms of building a business?
    • Build something people want, solves a problem (problem-solution fit). Rob recommends Steve Blank’s customer development approach: contact people, tell them what your product does, how much you’ll charge, and ask them if they’ll pay for it. Rob
    • And you can find that market fairly easily: if you can’t communicate to them easily, you don’t have a business
  • What is the actual genesis of a good idea?
    • You can solve your own problem: but make sure you validate it with 10 other people. Also, think about how you’re going to market it to “people like yourself”. “Scratching your own issue isn’t enough”, says Rob, “you have to solve a problem and have a market.”
    • You can also find a market that you find interesting, and where you have some sort of traction in. Then you can look for problems to solve. With Drip, Rob chose it because he really likes working with the entrepreneur market.
  • What are the characteristics of a good market? (and a bad market)
    • “There are no bad markets,” says Robs, “some markets are just harder to communicate to than others.”
    • Rob likes markets that are online, that talk to each other (virality), and open to trying new things. (For example: Realtors and lawyers are not as open to trying new things)
    • Ability and willingness to pay: don’t create an app for college students or school teachers! There’s a lack of an ability to pay.
  • Which is better: B2B or B2C?
    • “I prefer B2B because businesses purchase based on value”, says Rob, “if you can save them money or make them money, you can justify your price. Consumers don’t value their time as much.”
    • Should you go after hobby markets? Rob thinks they can work for info-products and mobile apps, but not SaaS apps.
    • “Consumers are harder to support” – Rob
  • How to market your product:
    • Personal brand: “Personal brand has very little to do with B2B sales,” comments Rob, “in terms of HitTail’s growth, most of it has come from other channels.” He says that books, conferences, and training courses can benefit from a strong personal brand. You have to have an interesting perspective: this is often formed by what you’ve achieved (personally). What projects and products have you launched? “The earlier you can be laser focused on a certain audience, the faster you’ll build a following. Rob started focusing on solo-founders, who were bootstrapping.
    • Content marketing: this is building info graphics, writing viral blog posts that get shared: it’s socially driven. It can be really effective: The problem with this approach is that it’s time-intensive and can be expensive. Look for long-tail search terms: these are low competition phrases, that can still attract a significant amount of traffic. This is why Rob bought HitTail: it surfaces those long-tail keywords for you. Rob currently has his Product Manager do a lot of writing for him, he outsources other things (like the infographic). Rob outsources as much as possible. “Be sure to measure”, says Rob, put out a lot of content and then look at the ROI for each.
    • SEO: this is finding keywords, and writing good content that matches those keywords. “This isn’t just ranking in Google; it includes ranking in Amazon, in YouTube, in the iPhone app store, ranking in WordPress theme directory. It’s really hard to contract out SEO. “What has always worked is writing good content,” says Rob, “start with keywords that people are going to be searching for, blog about it, and then get links to those posts. It is a lot of work.” There’s not as much opportunity to game Google.
    • Advertising: It’s hard to get right, but it can really grow your customer base. “You really want to have a customer lifetime value over $150 to even look at advertising”, says Rob. Click advertising has gotten really expensive (especially on Google Adwords). New opportunities: Facebook ads, depending on your market BuySellAds, Reddit ads, LinkedIn (you need a higher lifetime value for it), and StumbleUpon ads. Rob manages all of his advertising campaigns in Google Analytics – use the Google URL Builder to identify which campaign you’re running.

Show notes


Software by Rob


13 pre-launch marketing strategies

Google URL Builder



Startups for the Rest of Us

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