5 Lessons Learned from a SaaS Home Run

Laura Roeder is known for putting together agile companies that put the customer first — including her current hit, Edgar, a SaaS (software as a service) product that hit a million dollars in revenue in its first year in business.
She excels at “keeping it simple” — maybe because she ran ultra-successful online education companies for five years. She turned around and put those lessons into a software business — and she’s crushing it.
Laura leapt out on her own as a freelancer at 22, without giving it a lot of thought. As she laughingly put it in her Unemployable interview with Brian Clark, it was:
“… probably the worst way to do it.”
You can find that interview here: From Freelance Designer to SaaS Superstar
She hadn’t done any prep, she hadn’t lined up any clients … she didn’t even know what a proposal was.
Lesson #1: You learn by doing
While I don’t particularly recommend that approach for most of us, it underlies a key principle of starting a business:
You learn the real lessons by doing.
(If you’re looking for a lower-risk way to learn those lessons, the “side hustle” — a part-time business you can run in your spare time — is a fantastic middle road.)
Educating yourself is important — and you can find lots of techniques and strategies here on Copyblogger and our sister site, Digital Commerce Institute.
But education is the initial, back-of-the-envelope sketch. It’s when you actually start building a project, product, and business that you

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Cracking the Abundance Code: Sonia’s in a New Documentary!

Some people believe in a magical “secret” that will grant them anything so long as they wish hard enough.
I do not believe in this.
But I do know that good luck is partly a matter of perception — and it can be optimized.
My friend Julie Cairns has filmed a new documentary about business, mindset, self-reliance, and — yes — abundance, and it’s called The Abundance Code. And I’m in the film!
Many months ago, Julie and I sat down together (virtually … she lives thousands of miles from me, in Australia) and talked for about six hours about living a meaningful life and developing businesses on our own terms.
That footage was winnowed down and combined with conversations from 16 other folks into a 90-minute film on the theme of creating more abundance in your life.
You can check out the film (it’s premiering on the web for free) at TheAbundanceCode.com.
You can also snag some of my thoughts on luck, business, and living with purpose over on my podcast episode about the film. You can find that here:
Up All Night to Get Lucky: Sonia’s in a Documentary!
I don’t believe that abundance and good fortune belong only to those who are already fortunate. And in fact, the ideas that Julie and I talked about are particularly applicable for people who are too often left out or marginalized in “traditional” workplaces.
I hope you’ll check out the film — and use some of the ideas you find there

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The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Facebook Ads

Let me start with the bad news: with Facebook, images matter more than copy.  
Images are everything in Facebook ads.
Consumer Acquisition found that images are so important, they’re responsible for some 75 to 90% of an ad’s performance. Because of this, Consumer Acquisition recommends that – before you think about optimizing your ad copy – you first test 10 to 15 images, keeping the copy the same across all variations.
In fact, copy is so pitifully unimportant in Facebook ads (compared to how important it is everywhere else, especially

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Mad Marketing 98: Why Truly Knowing Your Customer is Everything

    Hey folks, it’s podcast time again! And in this episode of Mad Marketing, we’ll be discussing the following: Thoughts on my new documentary series, #TheBalance, as well as comments from you, the viewers about the show I dive into the time we put into making each episode, what I’ve learned in the process…
The post Mad Marketing 98: Why Truly Knowing Your Customer is Everything appeared first on The Sales Lion by Marcus Sheridan.

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5 Stress-Free Steps for Pricing Your Services

Why does pricing our services provoke such fear and dread?
Even when we’re certain that we provide an exceptional service and charge what we’re worth, we still worry that clients will view our prices as unreasonable.
Of course, we don’t want to underprice our services, either.
Where does this leave us?
Most of the time, it leaves us paralyzed and stuck. So when it comes time to actually give a prospective client a price estimate, we often just take a wild guess.
That’s a huge mistake.
To help you calculate your service prices accurately, I’m going to share a step-by-step method for setting your project rates.
Let’s get started.
Step #1: Perform research and determine your hourly rate
The first step in figuring out your rate is researching the project and asking yourself critical questions (examples below). These questions help you clarify all the details of the project.
You’ll also use the information you gather to determine your hourly rate, and that’s the starting point for the entire process.
At Copyblogger, we highly recommend quoting a project rate, rather than an hourly rate — it protects you and the client.
When you carefully consider your project price, you’ll be able to work comfortably until the project is completed — and you won’t be penalized if you finish faster than anticipated.
And because freelance services are notoriously variable in cost, your client will appreciate knowing their fixed cost going into a new project.
Why, then, do you need to determine your hourly rate if you’re going

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Rainmaker Rewind: Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn. Here’s Everything You Need to Know

This week on Rainmaker Rewind, Sean Jackson, Jabez LeBret, and Mica Gadhia have a conversation about the recent acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft for $26.2 billion.
In this up-to-the-minute episode, you’ll hear The Missing Link team share their thoughts about this announcement and what it means for you.
And as always, don’t miss out on other great episodes that were featured on Rainmaker FM.

The Missing Link. The Missing Link team explores Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn and how it affects each of us: Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn. Here’s Everything You Need to Know …
The Digital Entrepreneur. Pamela Wilson joins Jerod Morris to discuss what she’s learned through her extensive experience creating and running successful membership communities: Practical Advice on Turning the Challenges of Building Membership Communities Into Opportunities
Confessions of a Pink-haired Marketer. Sonia Simone answers the age-old question: Is it okay to swear in our content marketing? Should You Swear on Your Blog?
Hack the Entrepreneur Jon Nastor interviews leader, speaker, “Marxist-capitalist,” and smart entrepreneur Simon Biltcliffe: Money is the Outcome of Success (Not the Cause)
The Showrunner. Jerod Morris and Jon Nastor discuss a few simple ways to capture inspiration before it escapes: How to Never (Ever) Forget an Important Idea Again
The Writer Files. Kelton Reid rounds out the second part of last week’s interview with Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: How Bestselling Debut Novelist Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney Writes: Part Two
Youpreneur. Tune in to this episode to hear Chris Ducker’s batching strategy and his tips on how to

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The Content Junkyard (and Why So Many Articles Fail)

On May 22, 1919, a New York hotel owner named Raymond Orteig announced a prize.
The Orteig Prize, as it came to be known, was the whopping sum of $25,000 (about $340,000 in 2015). It was to be given to the first allied aviators who flew nonstop from New York to Paris or vice versa. 
Six aviators died in the pursuit of that prize.
Then an American air mail pilot named Charles Lindbergh took up the challenge. On May 20, 1927, he took off from Roosevelt Field in New York and landed in Paris 33.5 hours later. Many before him had tried to fly the route in stages. Lindbergh’s feat was that he did it alone and without stopping. 
I’m going to explain why it’s not a good idea to follow the Lindbergh method when you write articles.
The 4 main writing stages
As writers, we see the vast expanse of an article in front of us, and we assume it’s possible to write the article from start to finish. But one of the biggest reasons why we struggle with writing is that we don’t break down the article-writing process into stages.
So, what stages do you need to go through to write an article?
Consider these four stages:

Outline your content
Craft a fascinating introduction
Communicate your core message
Edit and proofread

Let’s explore each one.
1. Outline your content
Animators first create rough sketches and storyboards. Chefs assemble recipes and ingredients. Athletic stars perform warm-up routines before they get to the stadium. 
Many writers simply sit down to

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Copywriting Roulette, or Toward a Theory of Copywriters as Therapists

“Is this gonna work?” Publish. “Nope.”
“Is this gonna work?” Publish. “Nope.”
“Maybe this will.”
And so it continues.
Copy Roulette: the marketing game where startups rely almost entirely on swipe files, plug-and-play templates and step-by-step page structures to grow their businesses. You know you’ve played it before. You see a course packed with “proven templates,” and you buy it for those alone. Then, of course, you use the templates and – surprise! – they don’t work because a) they aren’t right for your audience and product, b) they’ve been used repeatedly by everyone else

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What It’s Really Like to Start an Ultra-Successful Company: Meet Moz’s Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin is known for founding an incredibly successful company — while keeping an unwavering commitment to his core values.
You may have noticed, if you look around at the general business landscape, that a lot of successful founders are a bit cocky. They tend to overestimate the role of their own genius in their success — and underestimate the hard work of their teams and the luck that went into that success.
(And no, for the curious, I’m not counting Rainmaker Digital founder Brian Clark in that group.)
Rand Fishkin isn’t like most founders.
For example, founders of successful businesses typically play certain cards close to the chest. They’re highly selective about what they reveal about their businesses. And there are some strong business reasons for doing that.
Rand, on the other hand, is radically transparent about the good stuff and the bad in his business.
“Transparency is synonymous with Rand Fishkin, in a fantastic way.” – Brian Clark
Sometimes that transparency has come at a price. But it’s one of Rand’s deepest core values, as well as a foundational value for his business. And while his commitment to extreme transparency has closed some doors … it’s also opened some amazing ones.
Moz’s long, winding path to “overnight success”
Like so many stories of explosive growth, the company now known as Moz started out on a rather winding path.
The company started life as SEOMoz, a side project for Rand while he taught himself SEO. Eventually it became a full-time consulting

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