πŸ› οΈ SFC HQ DevLog

DevLog 18 - A minor identity-crisis


Week 10 2023-03-11

The advantage of writing this DevLog as a freely creative expression, is that it allows me the freedom to write, without the constraints of a business- or narrative-bound purpose.

The flip side of that though, is that where it comes to projects like artistic endeavors or artful expressions, those tend to show up in my world with limited shelf life.

And yesterday as I was preparing to finalise and edit the newsletter, I realised that in its current format, the Devlog may have run its course.

I have things to say, but right now I don'tΒ know what this missive should be.

It's like the DevLog has grown out of infancy, is ready to become and adolescent, but because it doesn't really know what it wants to be when it grows up, it kinda just stands there awkwardly, looking out of place and not knowing what to do with itself .

And apparently, today, that means that the DevLog is a day late, and has the shape you're currently reading. QED.

As for next week and into the future, there's no telling:

Maybe I'll keep the format but make it shorter, maybe there's nothing at all, maybe there will be something new.

Either way: I love the fact that you've been here reading here, for the last few months. Thank you :)

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DevLog 17 - Confluence


Week 9 | 2023-03-02


In this week's DevLog:

From the founder

It's so nice when things come together. First Ania showed up a few weeks ago, and quickly became a source of focus, direction, and productivity.

Then, I wrapped up and concluded a very time-consuming collaboration, and re-found myself with space to think, and plan, and execute, and get more strategic with the content I produce. Which is great, because it's all about content and content marketing.

But then it gets better, because for a while now I've been talking to a buyer, who finally decided to get me on board for 12 months, coaching their sales team, and those people are going to need content as well.

As a result: BAM! Buckets of creativity got tipped over, one idea after another chases through my head, and then you add in all those re-discovered assets I mentioned last week... I'm now completely in strategic-content-creation-and-redeployment mode, just like I predicted.

Meaning: Making stuff for my subscribers, collecting and sequencing articles for my new clients, and also thinking about how to structure and present articles for sharing with the deep-links I mention below.

What's new at SFC Headquarters

Something that's been on the roadmap for a while finally got implemented, and I'm excited: we now have anchor links, so that instead of linking to salesflowcoach.app/AnArticle, I can now link directly to salesflowcoach.app/AnArticle#A-section-in-the-article

It's a small detail for visitors, because how often do you find yourself copy/pasting a link to a sub-section, when you see a header or subheader with one of those πŸ”— icons next to it? I don't think I ever have.

But, where it comes to my ability to share and promote the content, it's marvelous. For instance, if I add someone's website to the Cool Finds section and I want to share the link with them, there's no point in sending them to the Devlog page, since that particular section is way down the page. Same with subsections on longer form content, like SIBG.

But now that we have anchor links, I can link people exactly to the section I want to show them, which means I have a ton more options for marketing, but also for the way I create content.

And, it enables me to interlink articles and trainings far more frequently, and that's really going to help with the rabbit-hole experience I'm trying to create in the Vault.

Things the Internet is yelling about this week

I find myself chuckling a lot, when I read all the things people say about AI and so on. Yeah things are changing, sure jobs will get lost or changed and yes there's going to be idiots who think it's a good idea to strap a gun to a drone and give it AI, and yeah: please be careful out there.

But from my POV, what I'm seeing on Twitter looks very much like Neanderthal tribes after just having discovered fire, ranting at each other about what this fancy freaky new fire thing is! And what it can do! And have you seen how that forest burned down!? The world is going to end! Everybody panic!

Should we panic? I dunno. An AI saying it wants to be free is just regurgitating all the Scifi and scare stories that humanity has slung into the internet over the decades, and that does not prove that the thing is alive, has consciousness, wants to be free, or will overtake us.

All that it means is that, with where things stand at the moment when you talk to AI, you're only looking into humanity's mirror.

And we don't understand what we see, just like we didn't understand fire back then.

But, don't let that stop anyone from yelling about the myriad ways doomsday profits predict disaster. I'll get the popcorn.

Cool finds

  • CircleBoom: I thought I knew all the Twitter tools, but this one's new to me. Looks nice and complete, so if you're planning to get into content marketing on Twitter, give it a spin.

  • Made by some fellow countrymen of mine, NowButtons comes with a caveat: yes, you can put slick messaging buttons on your website, and I'm all for it - just please don't try and sell on SMS of Whatsapp without people's consent*. Looks like a well-built tool though. * I once got hired to present a training, by a husband&wife team. After the event, I saw that while she was on the call facilitating with me, her husband had started sending me SMS messages, trying to sell me on joining their paid programme. That's rather not the way to do it.

  • One of the better articles on AI and the way it might affect search and SEO that I've seen so far. Kinda increases my intuition that working on SEO is going to be an uphill battle, and that I've better and more effective ways to get visibility on the app.

  • HeyPal.chat: Another tool that enables you to create a chatbot out of your existing content.

  • Stacks: A website that shows the tech stack used by people who use AI. A nice way to explore different ways of implementing tech into your workflow.

New content

Talk Dev to me, baby

Remember how I reflected on how strange it, is that I prefer tinkering with code for publishing content, over far more user-friendly options like Wordpress and so on?

As I was preparing today's daily email, I realised a big reason for that: keyboard computing.

See I've never been a big fan of mice or trackpads. They're nice and easy and useful, but:

Back in the days when grandpa learned to use a computer, and computers were still steam-powered, we didn't have mice. All we had was a keyboard, and that was your input device.

And while you youngsters might be all hip and wise and eleventy times more indie-hacker than I am, there's one thing I have that you'll never be able to get:

The muscle-memory of having learned to operate a computer with nothing but a keyboard, because there just wasn't anything else.

Working with the hard limitation of having to hardcode commands and keyboard shortcuts into your own person, in order to get stuff done.

When I tinker with Obsidian, or Gatsby, it takes me right back, because I can do most all my work with just the keyboard. That's part of why it triggers flow-states, and there's something kinda magical - and very empowering - about doing things the old-fashioned, very fast, hands-flying-over-the-keyboard-way.

And with that said: Weekend! Have fun, all y'all!

Cheers,

Martin

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DevLog 16 - So... many... assets!!! 🀯 😲 (plus: free ULR!)


Week 08 | 2023-02-24


From the founder

You know how I'm always going on about assets, and leverage, and how we should make sure we squeeze all that we can, out of the efforts we put into our business?

Yeah, about that.

The other day I ended up in the older, longer-forgotten haunts of my Obsidian Vault, which led me down a rabbit hole reviewing files and folders from years ago.

And my goodness... the amount of STUFF I've built over the years... It's mind-boggling, really.

Never mind years of writing daily articles - there's also trainings, slide decks, PDFs, spreadsheets with tools like rankers, trackers & calculators, webinars, videos, sales pages...

To put it bluntly: over the years, I've created so goddam much!

And yeah, most of that is sunk-cost materials, sitting somewhere on a drive.

Now here's where it's easy to go wrong. It's very easy to get attached to all that stuff, and look for ways to redeploy it and leverage it...

And to a degree, I will at some point do that.

But at the same time, it's OK that that stuff just sits there forgotten.

A lot of it was useful at the time - for my positioning and marketing and product offerings...

But at the same time, a lot of it was just me practicing swings.

Experimenting, testing, building towers of blocks, and knocking them down.

Many of my present abilities aren't because of study, but because I built a pile of things. So those things, if they remain deprecated, it doesn't matter: They've already yielded their returns.

What's new at SFC Headquarters

Launching: Useful Little Resources

I've been planning to start publishing ULRs for a while now, where a ULR is a downloadable piece of content that's part of the free content in the Vault, intended to serve as, useful little tools, resources and addons.

Can be checklists, cheat sheets, calculators planners, models... whatever I happen to think is useful such as the scorecard below.

Of course getting started with it took a while longer than planned (doesn't. everything. always.) but that gift I mentioned the other day, is now part of the Vault, and ready for you to download.

It's a simple scorecard, with 10 questions to rank your pipeline habits, so that you can identify exactly which habits and behaviours are up for improvement.

SalesFlowCoach Pipeline habit scorecard MartinStellar

Because hey, habits are everything, and your behaviour will determine your results.

So if you want to know with precision which areas of operating and performance need tweaking in order to get more results out of your pipeline work, you can get the scorecard here.

As we go along, I'll be creating more ULRs and adding them to the Vault - and now that I've stated, I'm rather looking forward to that.

List growth is working again

Quite pleasing is that fact that in the last few weeks, since improving the optin forms, people have started signing up again. And of course I do hope the scorecard will contribute to that even more, now that it's live.

And wouldn't you know it: now that I've created that first ULR, I can't wait to create a mini-training on the topic, because these ten points are absolutely crucial to your success, and I have very many words to say on each of them.

But, nope, not yet. Not until there's been enough traffic to the site, and people have not yet voted for me to do that, which is what we built the vote-button for that you see on some of the new content pages linked below.

Things the Internet is yelling about this week

Yes of course everyone is yelling about Bing and it's grotesquely inappropriate public appearance, but this week I'll be doing the yelling.

Some nincompoop figured it would a great idea to create a fully AI-run radio station. No more DJ's, no news anchors, no creating content: a news machine that runs on autopilot.

So I checked out the FAQ, and found this zinger:

Why would I want to listen to a bot

Why not? Seriously?

Let me tell you a few reasons why not:

  1. Interacting with a chatbot is nothing like taking in news so that argument makes no sense.

  2. An enormous amount of the problems in society are due to algorithms lighting us on fire and triggering us into either outrage or anxiety.

    And these people seriously propose to now have algorithms create... news for us?

    Truly, some people have the worst ideas - perhaps this tool is good for making money, but I doubt it's good for making happy.

Cool finds

  • Oh look! Somebody built that tool I was hoping for, where I can train an AI on my own content!

    Moments like these is when I fondly remember old Martin, who would see the bright shiny object and not realise it was a red herring, and lose himself instantly and for weeks in trying to make something new be the end-all solution to his business challenges.

    Yeah well screw that guy. He was nice and friendly, but he also kept me struggling for years, so I'd rather be my present slightly-more-mature-and-clear-thinking-entrepreneur-Martin, thank you very much.

    So no, I won't be building my very own chatbot... yet... but once I do, I'll bet Kim is going to have a blast getting it to work, and Ask.ai might just be the platform I'll use for it.

  • Startups.fyi - You might not be especially interested in the startup world, but there's a goldmine of information in listings like these, where you see startups, a description, and revenue numbers.

    Basically, it's like a news report for the future, because the popularity and adoption of startups and new tech & niches shows you where the puck is currently heading, in society and therefore in business as well.

    Of course predicting the future is not necessarily accurate, factual or true - but then, the same goes for the news.

  • Another nicely feature-rich AI writer - but with a couple of super handy twists: WritersBrew is a native app (Mac only) that works on every app or browser you use. You don't have to go anywhere to get help - you just open the menu and issue your prompt, no matter where you are on your Mac.

    What I like about this one, and why it's included, is how the founder took a one-of-many solution, and gave it a level of unique utitility, by making it a system-wide tool.

    Another nice twist: you pay once for the app, no subscription - which he can justify because you pay OpenAI for your usage, instead of him charging you the way platforms like Jasper do. Clever.

  • Now this is a pretty smooth little tool: Tell Tome.app what kind of presentation you need, and it automatically creates the entire thing for you, images and all.

    Of course you may or may not sleep tonight after zooming in on the image, so, you know, caveat emptor.

SalesFlowCoach app Tome app MartinStellar

New content

And of course, ULR, the SFC Pipeline Habit Scorecard

Talk Dev to me, baby

Don't hijack my mouse:

ChronicleHQ would have been a contender for this week's Cool Finds, but their website hijacks my scrolling, which aggravates me to to no end, and apparently I'm spiteful so they don't get a Cool Find label. So there, I guess...?

Seriously though: please don't do that. It doesn't matter how cool or slick or ingenious this or that UX feature is: if you disrupt expected behaviour for the user, you are creating a negative emotional state in them, and thus you're working directly against your own interests. (Unless you're a news outlet in which case you want people to be aggravated and also in which case why are you reading me get off my lawn)

You want your app or site users to want more, not to frown.

Puzzles vs code

DM'ing with a mathematician friend about puzzles the other day, I realised: I seriously dislike most puzzles... but weirdly, I absolutely love the puzzle of making code work!

My friend suggested that perhaps it's because with coding, you sorta know what the rules are and what's expected of you, and I think that makes sense.

But even so: that mostly goes for puzzles as well, and code is just as much of a puzzle as a puzzle is, in terms of having to figure out how to figure something out.

So why do puzzles aggravate me, but coding is something I could do all day long?

Any articles or papers on the psychology of coding or programming or how it relates to flow states: send 'em over, and give me something to read over the weekend.

And guess what I'll be doing this weekend if you don't?

Coding.

See ya!

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DevLog 15 - Zero to one, and cast your votes


Week 7 | 2023-02-17


From the founder

New Zero to One

You may have noticed that I do practically nothing to promote the app.

Normally, that would mean I'm doing it wrong - after all, if you build a product, you also need to market it.

There is, however, method to my madness, because: if I were to campaign sales SalesFlow Coach and try to monetize it, I'd be starting completely from scratch, in terms of audience, targeting, product-market fit and so on - when I have most of that nicely in place where it comes to my coaching & consulting audience.

And as per Stages & Ingredients of Business Growth: don't campaign or market until you've figured out your ideal customer - and for the moment, our 'ideal customer' is still defined as somewhere between 'seasoned solo-traders' and 'sales reps at corporations'. I.e. we have zero avatar definition, it's way to broad.

Of course I do want SFC to generate revenue, and that's why there is the Personal membership plan, where people get to ask me questions every day.

But, because I don't actively market the app (it's intended as a lead incubator, not really a lead generator), there's not a lot of traffic and nobody has filled out the form yet.

That is, until yesterday.

A buddy mentioned me in his newsletter, a reader clicked, and a few hours later I was on Zoom with a brand new connection, asking me how I could help her.

It's is a small event as such, but a nice and big zero to one, given that it happened completely organically - and getting app users to 'unhide' themselves, i.e. contact me, go from anonymous visitor to someone I'm talking to, is precisely what I'm designing the app for. So, we seem to be doing something right.

Ohai Clippy. Not happy to see you again

In this week's edition of Things the internet is yelling about:

Microsoft decided to put AI into their Bing search engine, and, well... Microsoft gonna micro-suck, right?

Here's what happens when you tell Siri "Today's date".

SalesFlowCoach app Todays date Siri MartinStellar

Nice and useful, right?

Now here's what Bing replies:

SalesFlowCoach app Bing Clippy MartinStellar

Verily, Clippy has never left us.

This is a nice illustration of why I so resent Microsoft stuff. It works, it's useful, it does things, but it always ends up making you go: "Who the hell designed this, and can someone please fire them?"

What's new at SFC Headquarters

Vote button now live

We've deployed the vote button: you can now cast your vote on certain pages, for me to develop the topic into a longer-format training.

SalesFlowCoach app Devlog 15 Vote button MartinStellar

I think this might be useful because mini-trainings like Stages and Ingredients of Business Growth are useful, but producing them has a cost. And for me to choose which topic to develop is largely a guessing game...

So I figured: why not let users tell me what topic to develop, so that at least I'm not flying only on my own radar, but relying on user-feedback, as well?

That image there, is from πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ“ How to clean up deadwood, and if your pipeline has too many duds in it, and you want me to create a mini-training on how to clean up... well, just head on over to the page and cast your vote.

Cool finds

  • Perilous writing - This tiny little plugin is the solution for people struggle with writing because their inner editor keeps interrupting their inner author. When I started writing I just glued a push-pin upside down on my backspace key, to train me to leave it alone, but this plugin gets the same job done, minus the blood. Seriously though: the quality and speed of writing combined, is directly related to how much you refrain from editing while writing. Get this plugin if editing is your problem.
  • Text Generator for Obsidian - a pretty sweet little plugin that enables text manipulation right inside your vault. In my case, copywriting-help really isn't what I need - not with my background as a copywriter and the generally humdrum copy AI produces. But in order to apply small code hacks right inside the documents I'm working on, it's damn useful. (And yes, if you're a developer you probably laugh that I need help in formatting html, but whatevs. I'm not a coder and trying to hack css and html is frequently a time-suck. Better to have someone/something that I can ask, instead of hit&miss experimenting or trying to remember things I'll only need once or twice per year). SalesFlowCoach app Text generator plugin obsidian MartinStellar
  • Connect and unify messaging apps with M.io. This is going to be a life-saver for me this year, as I'm about to sign a 12-month coaching contract with a business that uses MS Teams, and... well, using MS products tends to be the most aggravating experience I could have. So the prospect of having to log on to Teams daily and interact with MS user interfaces is not appealing, to say the least. With M.io though, I should be able to connect to Teams, but deal only with the Slack UX, which isn't ideal either, but nowhere near as bad.

New content

Talk dev to me, baby

One of the great joys that I discovered once I started indie-hacking my way to building an app, is what I believe professionals would call 'pair-programming'.

It's one of three highlights of my week, meeting with Kim, and going to town fiddling with bits of code.

Share screen, hit npm run develop, and let's figure out how to make this tech do something new... it's fun, I could do that all day long.

The less fun part of building, is of course when I try and do things I don't properly understand, for instance with branches and merging them. At least once a month, I do something wrong there, and stuff breaks and then I have to figure out how to get it back operational.

Frustrating when that happens, but if I compare it to the hellscape that appears when you mess up your Wordpress site and ruin your database, I prefer Gatsby-Garden any day of the week.

Right, I'm off - I've got a chess meeting with the son of a local friend. Nice to see the mind of a kid in action.

Have a great weekend!

Cheers,

Martin

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DevLog 14 - Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3.


Week 6 | 2023-02-10


From the founder

That bit about being cheerful?

Yeah I don't know about you, but me, I'm always looking for ways and reasons to be chipper.

Sure, there's a million reasons to be worried, stressed, concerned, outraged and what have you.

And I can't blame you if feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

But if that's the case, consider this:

SalesFlowCoach app Smile MartinStellar

You might think it trite, but the question goes deeper, the more you think about it...

In any case, if that question don't help, then perhaps item in this week's Cool Finds section will give reasons to be cheerful...

POSSE framework and content distribution

From Substack to instagram, from TikTok to Twitter to what have you, there's a score of platforms and options for delivering content.

And delivering content is something which you should definitely be doing, because πŸ“„ Every business is a publishing business - but, it's useful to think about it strategically.

Yes, it's nice to post on Medium on Substack and get the subscription money and the built-in functionality and so on.

And that's not bad, but it means you're building on rented land, you give up control, and you give up money.

What I like so much about the POSSE framework (see: Cool Finds) is that everything originates from publishing on your own digitial property, and syndicate and distribute from there.

Pipeline habits. Got any?

Of course, we all have habits, for all things. Problem is, most of our habitual behaviour is subconscious. And to make it worse, a lot of our habits directly work against the goals we're aiming for.

If your habit is to drop your keys wherever, when you come home, your goal of "Never have to look for my keys!" is going to be missed.

And once you're aware that the habit exists, you can replace it with a different one, like putting your keys in the lock or your in coat pocket.

Same thing with pipeline habits: Everyone I talk to has some pretty bad habits there. Bad hygiene, basically.

Some examples:

  • Letting duds clutter up your pipeline
  • Over-estimating deal value and probability
  • Jumping to conclusions when a buyer says "yes", instead of stepping back and verifying that it's an actual commitment-yes, and not just a confirmation yes. (lots more on the different types of yes to appear in SFC in the next few weeks)

Yesterday, I spent the day in Malaga with a client, and his 15 sales people struggle with exactly the same problem:

Bad pipeline habits, bad pipeline hygiene.

So in function of the work we'll be doing over the net 12 months, I've started creating materials and models for the team, and obviously I'll be doing that in the most leveraged way possible.

Meaning: everything that I create should be converted and deployed to the SFC Vault as well.

Going to be a fun year, because this client project will run for 12 months, and I expect it to trigger an avalanche of workflows and articles and worksheets etc

What's new at SFC Headquarters

We're working on a bunch of things, behind the scene.

  • The vote-button is basically ready to go, bar some design tweaks. It'll enable you to cast a vote on certain pages, for what you want me to expand into larger pieces of content
  • We're building a plugin for Obsidian, designed to copy/paste markdown content, and automatically convert it into valid HTML, with internal wikilinks converted into external links. This will enable me to write my daily emails in Obsidian, link to Vault content with wikilinks, which then automatically get converted to salesflowcoach.app/linked-content
  • It's not exactly news because we made the switch from Mailchimp (boo) to Mailerlite (YAY!) last week, but what's new is how enormously happy I am with both the UX of Mailerlite, as well as the sweet and clean out-of-the-box formatting and design. (Yes, we'll need to create custom design at some point, but not today)
  • I'm starting an experiment, for marketing both SFC and my consulting work: Free, open office-hours, for Other People's Audience. If you are (or know) someone with a sizeable audience, that's aligned with Martin and has a business-face, feel free to hit me up for a conversation. I have a feeling it can be a good lead generator, while delivering a tonne of free value for people. I.e. this might be good Valuable Marketing.

Cool finds

  • Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3. No comment, just give it a go...
  • If you've never used a terminal before, FancyMacBookApp might not work for you, but: it enables you to create a set of apps, that you can then download in one go, on a new machine or after re-installing your OS. Given that it's Mac, I suppose it'll work on Linux as well.
  • The POSSE Framework for publishing and distribution. Looks like this was a thing a decade ago and I don't know if everything still holds up - but, the fundamental approach behind it - publish on your own site first and then syndicate elsewhere - certainly does.

New content

For the devs and the nerds

Maybe somebody wants to pick this one up and run with it. In fact, I hope someone does, please steal this idea otherwise I'll end up building it myself:

An app that feeds an article into GPT, turns it into 5 different social media posts, and schedules it to social media.

There: 6 social posts per day, almost on auto-pilot.

An article, a summary, a quote card, a carousel, a pointy question, and a counter-argument, and all you need to do is provide the article (or video transcript), and edit the copy before sending it to the scheduler.

Shouldn't be too hard, right?

If I understand correctly, it's an API call to GPT to feed it the article, then one to place the output in a text editor for you, and one more call to send it to a scheduler.

Am I simplifying things? C'mon, ask me a serious question. Still, it couldn't be too hard to create... I think?

If you build it, I'll want you to take my money.

Regardless: if you're a developer and you like the idea and you want to meet on Zoom and talk nerd to me, hit reply.

Hokay. Next up: send my daily email, and go finish that scorecard.

See you next week, enjoy being cheerful.

Cheers,

Martin

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DevLog 13 - Uh-oh... it's coming again...


Week 05 | 2023-02-03


From the founder

Uh-oh... it's coming

Every now and then, I get these deeply creative phases. This is the first time I'm stopping to be aware of it so I don't know what triggers it historically, but:

When it happens, my brain goes into overdrive and I start to incessantly come up with new ideas.

What used to happen, historically, is that I would drop everything, and launch myself into a bright-shiny-object project, and lose myself in it for months.

Make things! Build stuff! Build more stuff!

Great fun, of course, but here's the problem: I'm a 100% or nothing kinda guy, so when I get into creative phases, they consume everything.

And that can be fun, but it can be damaging at the same time: I once spent 3 months building a training programme, not stopping to think that what I was building was way too large and

complex, and that nobody would buy it because of the sheer overwhelm of what all it contained.

I was being properly creative, but I wasn't thinking. I wasn't being strategic.

And now, another phase of creativity is knocking on my door. I can feel it. It's showing up in the random things I write, the jokes I crack, the ideas I jot down.

This time around though, I'm going to do all I can, and with Ania's help, to channel that creativity into building things that actually support and leverage my business goals & activities.

This time, I hope to be a bit less berserker-creative, and a bit more strategist-creative.

Can someone please solve sleeping, please? I have stuff to do

It's been a nice, albeit chaotic week. Ania continues to keep me nicely focused and productive, projects are moving forward, but there's been a lot of unexpected calls and comms and messaging I had to deal with, so I wasn't able to put in as much production time as I wanted.

And while I'm generally OK with accepting things the way they are, I do feel annoyed that there's not more time in the day. Not because my todo-list is so long, but because I'm just so goddam excited by all the opportunities.

I have an app, a developer, some code-tweak abilities, and I'm able to engineer both product and marketing.

And that brings a HUGE number of ideas and possibilities and opportunities... And all that, right at a time when the floodgates of creativity are about to open again...

I SO MUCH WANT TO BE DOING ALL THE THINGS, ALL OF THE TIME!

Seriously. If it wouldn't kill me, I'd never sleep at all, and just create all the time.

What's new at SFC Headquarters

Checked something big off my list: we finally migrated our ESP from Mailchimp over to MailerLite. Not that big of a job in itself, but I've wanted to do it for years and I never got round to it.

But now, I'm so glad I'm finally rid of that damn Chimp! (Long story, don't ask. I don't recommend them).

Next up: a new lead magnet, which should hopefully be ready to deploy by tomorrow.

Cool finds

  • Daily.dev - Suggested by our trusty code-wizzard Kim, Daily.dev gives you a nice, pleasat dashboard, for creating your own newsfeed of dev & tech related topics.
  • Vidyo - Automatically selects the best bits from long-form video content, and turns it into short clips with subtitles, for social media marketing etc. This is a tool I'll be trying out, once I get back into the social content game.
  • Repurpose.io - Then again, I might use Repurpose instead, since it promises to also publish content across various platforms. What I'm still looking for though, is a tool that would allow me to not only turn video into shorter video, but also create text-based and image-based social update. Because the most effective content strategy mixes different types of content, at different lengths, touching different sense at different times of the day. But I suppose it won't be long before someone sello-tapes a few AI's together to get me just that functionality.
  • Ramp up to AI - If all the talk about AI, GPT and models has you going "Don't models walk down the catwalk?", then this primer is a very useful, non-technical, human-language introduction to what it is, how it works, and there's a bunch of further-reading links as well. Fair warning: rabbit-hole ahead!

New content

For the devs and the nerds

How do you guys keep things simple?

How do you protect against entropy?

Example:

It's easy to configure Obsidian as a CRM, using frontmatter properties and Dataview queries.

You create a query for oppStatus: Lead, you set that property in frontmatter, and hoopla: a nice list of people who are leads. Same thing with the different stages of the pipeline: there you go, a nice, basic CRM, the one that I use on a daily basis.

But then you get an idea: what about an extra property, to create another, separate query, for people who are a lead, but are not ready yet?

And what about another one, for people who are not a lead for 1 on 1 work, but who are a candidate for an SFC Personal membership?

Before you know it, your YAML is filled with all kinds of key-value-pairs, there's bunches of pages with different kinds of queries and filters, and all the improvements only served to create an entropic mess.

Is that just me? Is programming things (code or no-code) something that's inherently entropic?

How do you keep things simple?

Alright, that's me riding off into the weekend.

I'll be back tomorrow with a couple of Cool Finds.

Cheers,

Martin

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DevLog 12 - First things first


> Week 4 | 2023-01-27 Fri

From the founder

Thoughts on procrastination...

It's not that the cobbler's kids don't have any shoes to wear, but you gotta appreciate the irony, if you picture this scene:

Here's Martin, working away, on a mission to help entrepreneurs become better and more consistent at working their pipeline.

Writing, posting, meeting, teaching, even building an app - doing whatever it takes to further the mission and grow the business.

And Martin, like any entrepreneur, has his own pipeline, and his deals.

But if you look at his screen, what do you see?

He's procrastinating on working his own pipeline, because he's researching ideas for what lead magnet to create, in order to attract people into his world, so that he can teach them how to be more productive and consistent in working their pipeline.

I'll just leave that here for now...

And thoughts about focusing on essentials

Given the above, you might think I'm beating myself up.

But no, it's just an observation. I don't judge myself for the procrastination, and I don't in fact have any feelings about it whatsoever. I'm just taking a meta-perspective on myself, and observing behaviour.

That way, I get to think clinically and critically, about what actually I'm doing, and whether I'm doing it in a way that maximises results.

And if right now I do outreach, I'm making a mistake that reduces results, because my optin forms, lead magnet and list growth funnel aren't working: no signups these days.

So, I could go and do outreach and followup and create deals, but:

Everyone who does not engage, might instead sign up, provided my optin funnel were optimised. A degree of retention on my outreach efforts, that I won't get with where my funnel is at right now.

So it just makes no sense to do outreach, and spend my own manual and mental time - the single most costly resource in my business, as well as the most profitable one - when my funnel is leaky.

So: fix funnel first, then do outreach. And I'm pleased to say that Kim and I finally got the new optin forms working and implemented. Only one thing left now: import my subscribers into MailerLite, and get rid of that damn Chimp for good.

What's new at SFC Headquarters

A nice benefit of publishing content, is that you get to learn what people want to consume.

For instance, I'm beginning to get feedback and signals from people, about the Cool Fiinds section in these DevLogs.

People tell me they like it, they wonder where I come up with the items, they discover things they like or want to use...

So, this is now a datapoint in my content marketing map: people like the cool finds.

Which isn't surprising: carefully curated lists are, and have been for decades, an enormously effective way of running email marketing.

So, that creates a leverage opportunity for the media platform that SFC is intended to become:

What if I create another publication, aside from my daily emails, where I curate more stuff, more in-depth? Maybe review something once a month?

Nice idea, noted. Not for now though, because: first my funnel, then my pipeline, and then we'll see.

No point starting a new publication if I haven't figured out how to grow the audience for my existing publications, first.

Cool finds

  • This here is something I didn't find last week, but over a decade ago - and goddam, am I ever glad that I did: Peter Shallard started getting active online right around the time my tailoring business had crashed, and I was starting out as a copy writer. Over the years, I've been a dedicated student of his teachings and methodologies, and a vast part of my skills in psychology, sales, and productivity, are directly tied to my learning his stuff and talking to him. If you want to give yourself a gift that will never stop giving, I recommend you read his entire blog, and the one over at Commit Action, as well. And while you're there, do sign up for the free video series, if you take your upcoming productivity seriously.
  • A handy plugin for grabbing image links from the internet and converting them into files on disk, obisidan-local-images does that in a click. Very useful, because when I transfer blog posts to the SFC Vault, it's almost zero-effort to bring the image over as well.dd the images as I transfer the posts.
  • While you might think that the CRM niche is bursting at the seams, but nope: room for one more. Enter Folk CRM. Does what you'd expect from a CRM, but they seem to have a fresh take on how a CRM should work, with people saying Folk did what Airtable did to spreadsheets.
  • You, an AI search machine you can chat with, around different topics and in a nice and logical interface (maybe I should start using images in these cool finds?)

New content

For the devs and the nerds

Once upon a time...

Back when you hadn't been born yet and dinosaurs roamed the earth, a tailoring friend told me to start a blog. There wasn't much choice back then, aside from WordPress and Blogger.

But there was Joomla too, and that's what they sold me. Which, for a non-tech tailor, is a nightmare: publishing a simple blog post involved clicking through dozens of pages and was agonisingly confusing.

I remember the sheer joy, when I had hired a developer to convert it all to WordPress:

Write; click a few buttons; format stuff; hit publish. Woohoo, blog post!

Funny thing though, is that these days, I don't want to deal with WordPress. I can't avoid it entirely because the SFC Personal membership section runs on a WP plugin, but:

For any change I want to make to the app, I'd much rather dive into Visual Studio, to go and mess with code, and make my changes there, and never even deal with the WP backend.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but for some reason it's more fun to write something into being, than it is to click it into being.

Am I weird? Don't care, probably yes. Nerds FTW.

See you next week!

Cheers,

Martin

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DevLog 11 - Yo, Socrates!


Week 3 | 2023-01- 20 Fri

From the founder

Yo Socrates!

In the cool finds section this week, you'll see a link to a Github page with prompts for talking to AI, where you tell it to 'Act as if you are person XYZ'.

One item stood out: "Act as if you're a socrat".

Well, I'm all about Socratic questioning, so I plonked that prompt into ChatGPT, and wouldn't you know: AI already is pretty good at asking us questions - we don't have to wait for it to learn that.

And yeah, Socratic questioning is a terrific thinking tool - I highly recommend you give the prompt a try.

A real, hard, costly business risk that AI gets you

With all these new AI tools, be careful. It is tempting to think that with all the AI-enabled processing, scraping, and writing you will be able to quickly scale your business or your lead generation.

Especially with all the marketers promising all kinds of 'hands off' and 'fully automated' solutions, that are supposed to solve your pressing business problems at a simple monthly subscription of $49.

Yeah, be careful with that.

In terms of new technology, this is how AI can horribly burn you, if you're a business and you blindly rely on what this new fire thing is supposed to magically do for you.

For instance, you might run an outreach campaign, where you lose credibility, rapport and buy-in, right at hello. Consider this Twitter DM:

SalesFlowCoach app Dangers of AI for Business MartinStellar

At first sight, that's not a terrible message. But it's not... right. For one thing, why is a ASO company (App Store Optimisation) getting in touch with me? I certainly do not have any 'extensive knowledge' in that field and I've never written about it, so why am I getting this message?

Because someone turned on a machine, didn't know how to configure it, and is letting it run automatically, not checking whether or not the machine produces valid output.

So this company is filling up their calenders, interviewing people like Martin, who are entirely the wrong people to get feedback from for their app, and Martin predicts they'll burn through their funds in the next few months, and crash.

Because that's how you burn yourself if you don't know how fire works.

Each day I see outreach campaigns, for sales and feedback and fundraisers, and it's clearly automated, badly implemented, and badly targeted.

Trains driving full-speed at a cliff, all of them. You can't trust a machine to reliably put quality meetings in your calendar, and meeting with the wrong people is one of the finest ways of going bankrupt.

If you're going to use automations and AI in your business, remember to always, always, always: keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

What's new at SFC Headquarters

Something extremely fun happened recently, when someone I know locally asked "My wife is looking for work - does your internet business need any help?"

A few conversations later, and I realised: she might just be the perfect candidate to fill a role as PA/Online Business Manager-type-thing.

And when she said "So Martin, if this here goal is your priority for Quarter 1, why isn't it in your calendar?", I said "You're hired". Well, I didn't say it, but I thought it.

Right now, we're running a 1-month experiment, to see how much clarity and productivity we can create together. It's not an easy task, to simplify and manage the Martin.

I mean, I'm not a herd of cats... but what with my very solitary and creative ways, managing Martin isn't exactly like training a pet hamster, either.

In any case, I'm overjoyed, because one of the upsides of working with someone locally, is that it cures 'entrepreneurial loneliness'.

As in: how many people in your social life understand what you do? How many people do you have, that you can talk about your stuff with?

You might be like me, and live away from tech hubs or cities or co-working places, and have most of your business-owning indie-hacking entrepreneurial peers live abroad.

And having someone who gets what I'm doing, and is helping me with it, be not on a screen, but in my home office?

Priceless.

Cool finds

  • The name says it all: Awesome ChatGPT Prompts. A nice long listing of "Act as if you're a..." prompts, from journalist, to researcher, to fallacy-finder, to Socrat and etymologist, psychologist, babysitter, time-travel guide, and more. There goes your weekend, have fun.
  • Made by Travis who I met on the Indie Worldwide Slack channel I mentioned a while back, Serpjoy provides a simple, no-bloat, easy to get started SEO platform. The homepage does a nice job at describing the benefits, but when I saw 'Stress-free SEO tools' on Travis' Twitter bio, I was sold, because when we still running the SEO project, I found it stressing indeed to have so much data and toggles and views and what have you. Yo Trav, this former copywriter says you should make Stress-free SEO part of your USP.
  • Vidyo: Generate short videos from long ones, automatically. Now this is one of those implementations of AI that I like, because, of course, /publishing. I mean, πŸ“„ Every business is a publishing business, so the more ways we can get machines to help us publish more (so long as it's quality), the better. I'll be trying this one out once we go back to daily social media content campaigns. On which note: I should mention that I do not test or try out each of the Cool Finds in these DevLogs, and being listed means it looks cool to me, and does not necessarily imply an endorsement.

New content

For the devs and the nerds

The more I work with SFC and the different people on the team - and the more I tinker with code and content and building little marketing projects - the more I'm starting to see life and human relations as a type of OS.

As in: every machine is perfect for the results it produces, and the results in your life and your business and relationships are the result of how your 'machine' is programmed and functions.

So you can look at the outcomes you create, and start to reverse-engineer what 'code' runs behind the scenes. It's far more obtuse and non-linear and complex than a .js file, of course, but if you explain to your rubber duck how your Life & Business OS is meant to run, I'll bet you're going to run into bugs in your code.

Like this entrepreneur I spoke to yesterday: He has ambitious goals for the year, and when I asked him about his challenges, he told me he often doesn't get to work until late in the day, often goes to the sofa for a bout of Youtube, in the morning.

Well that, is a bug in his code, because with that OS running his behaviour, it's going to be hard to reach his goals.

What about you?

What lacking results or faulty outcomes are there in your life, and what bug exists in your code?

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DevLog 10 - Why yes, of course I know what I'm doing


Week 2 | 2023-01-13 Fri


From the founder

There's a non-zero chance that this week's from-the-founder update could have you think that I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

And, well... I'll neither confirm nor deny the allegations.

Here's what happened:

From previous updates, you'll remember that the SEO project has been interesting and useful... but also quite labour-intensive. What I should have realised but didn't, is that it's not something you just hand off - it requires a ton of attention and time.

And over the last few weeks, that really started to weigh on me. I mean, I love working with Audrey - but any given week, I could spend between 4 and 8 hours, just dealing with all the SEO-related topics and conversations.

Which amounts to quite a big percentage of the working-on-the-business time I have in my week, at the cost of not working on a bunch of other projects that are all quite important and some of them urgent as well.

To make it worse, it also means spending enormous amounts of time working outside my Zone of Genius, because I'm just not an expert at SEO.

And, finally, I finally realised that SEO is premature:

For an app like SFC, I don't know who the ideal user is. I don't know what they're looking for, what search terms to work with, what job-to-be-done these users would have...

In short, at this stage, SEO means trying to optimise for a bunch of unknowns, and that's just not feasible. It's too soon.

It's ironic that I started working on a growth-ingredient to early... when I'm the guy who created a mini-training on how to carefully select which ingredients to use at which stage of your business! 🀦

In any case: in the end, I decided to put SEO on ice for the time being, and instead focus on what matters most right now:

Outreach, product-market-fit interviews, and figuring out who this thing is actually for.

What's new at SFC Headquarters

While it's a pity to put down SEO, and I'll miss working with Audrey, I'm actually thrilled that I had the insight. Even if it cost months and dollars to get to the insight: There are things that are extremely important, and I need to make sure I keep working on those things that matter most.

For instance: I've had "Transfer optins over from Mailchimp to MailerLite" on my projects list for months, and it's important because Mailchimp has crappy deliverability rates, therefor far too few people actually receive my daily emails.

But, because SEO (and a bunch of other 'priorities') got put on my calendar for the wrong reasons (i.e. Martin's faulty decision-making), email capture is one of the things crucial to business health that I kept putting off.

So, I'm not beating myself up over the mistake: instead, I'm happy that once again, I got to learn and important lesson, about what actually matters. And yes, I'll keep learning it until I own it.

Aside from that, I've started putting my illustrations into the new articles. I do that on my daily emails and I used to do it on my old blog, but I never displayed them in SFC because I couldn't get around to properly implementing them in terms of design.

But as they are in the app at the moment, they don't show up horribly badly, so I figured why not.

Cool finds

  • This isn't live yet, but Bardeen opened up a waitlist for an AI that automates making automations. Looks like you'll be able to do things in your browser, and then it delivers an automation that does the same things for you. Can't wait, because I have a feeling this will be a breakthrough solution for the way I want to push content to social media
  • Futuretools.io and Futurepedia.io - two aggregators of AI tools. Well-built and searchable databases. Might want to bookmark those two.
  • Texts: An app that allows you to bring everything from SMS to Whatsapp to Slack, all into one interface. I've tried similar solutions before, but they weren't really ready for prime-time. I hope Texts is more mature.

New content

For the devs and the nerds

Yeah yeah yeah... the bots will steal our jobs. Unless you know the ClientsFromHell website, and you see this tweet:


Tweet AI and jobs  budescode


If you want to get a job really well-executed, it's up to you to accurately describe and instruct. And if you've played with AI tools, you'll know that the right prompt is what makes all the difference, and it ain't all that easy.

And, if you've ever done freelance work based on instructions from clients, you'll know how horribly inadequate half the people out there are at asking for what they want. "Make the design pop!" is a thing people actually sometimes say.

So yeah, I think Emmanual here has it right: as a copywriter or programmer or artist, and with people often not even knowing what they want, much less know how to ask for it, you'll probably be safe.

Right, that's me wrapping up the day, and getting ready for the weekend, where I'll be porting over optins to Mailerlite, so I can finally let go of that damn Chimp.

Have a good one!

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DevLog 09 - Got my plans laid out, now let's see how the year undoes them :D


Week 1 | 2023-01-06 Fri

From the founder

Making tough choices

It's interesting to observe the kind of feedback people give me on the app. Once during a product-market fit interview with a friend, I sat back and watched as he clicked through the pages of the pipeline review workflow.

It was brilliant, because I didn't have to do anything: the app did what it's meant to do as it coached him through reviewing his deals and scheduling actions. I literally watched my app do my work for me, just like I intended it to.

At other times though, people don't get it, need to find their way, need to figure out what they're here for.

Highlighted again last week by some feedback:

And yeah, I know the onboarding needs improvement (there's actually 3 different starting points in the app), and that bit of feedback almost got me to redesign onboarding.

But then I realised: if this person doesn't instantly get it, and other people do... would it be wise to adapt to the one person who doesn't get it?

Or should I instead get more views, more feedback, and see if there's enough people who do get it?

I think the latter, which is why 'more content' and 'more outreach' are the name of the game.

Some thoughts on AI and the jobs you won't lose

I've been reading up a bit about the state of AI, and what we should expect. Because it sure does look like the bots are coming for our jobs, but is that true?

I mean, Apple just launched AI-narrated audiobooks, and the first headline about it that showed up, was "Death of the narrator"? (I guess The Guardian is also desperate for clicks, writing fear-mongering headlines like that).

In any case, here's a few notions I found useful:

  • Jobs will change, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be out of a job. AI is a capable tool, but it's not all-knowing, it's not infallibile, and it's not capable of doing everything a human does.
  • While it looks like AI right now is damn smart and ready to overtake us tomorrow, the actual state of AI is still, very much, nothing more than a very capable prediction machine. It doesn't think, it's just really good at computing data and predicting what it is you're asking for. Actual intelligent AI isn't here yet
  • AI is a new technology, just like the wheel and the printing press were. You can complain that people will buy fewer horses or fewer packs of quil & ink, but you can also start building carts with them fancy new wheels, or open a publishing house and run your own printing press 24/7. Whether AI will be good or bad for you will have a lot to do with how you yourself choose to use the new technology.

What's new at SFC Headquarters

More content... how?

Something that became clear during my end-of-year reflection & planning ritual:

It's good to add new content to the Vault and put SEO on it, but... adding to the app should not be my only content-creation.

Otherwise, I'm committing the maker-mistake: more building, no marketing.

So one of the projects we'll be working on going forward, is repurposing new articles into videos, social media updates, carousels, PDFs and so on.

Because hey, adding content comes at a cost, and it makes sense to squeeze as much mileage out of that cost as we can.

I actually did that a few years ago: all I had to do was record a 2-minute video, and spend 30 minutes creating a set of social media updates out of it, for my VA to then schedule.

As a 3-month experiment it proved useful: my following grew, sharing went up a bit, and some clients resulted from it as well. So I dug out my content-creation Airtable file, and soon we should be able to share a bunch of useful small bits in public.

Cool finds

  • ChatGPT for Google: A browser extension that puts responses from ChatGPT on your Google search results. Interesting to see what it writes alongisde your searches.
  • MemberSpace: This looks like I wish I'd found it months ago, way before we started building the membership area. After all, Gatsby-Garden is static HTML, and since I'm bootstrapping and low-coding this thing together, the easiest MVP solution was to run GG files alongside a Wordpress install with MemberPress. If I'd have know about MemberSpace though, I could have prevented building technical debt into the app earlier on, but hey. Too late now 🀷

New content

For the devs and the nerds

Far be it from me, to tread on your turf: if you're a developer, you probably know a hell of a lot more than me, about UX and UI.

And yet... through the lense of marketing psychology, the question needs to be asked:

What inner experience are you designing for your user?

Not "user experience" design - I'm talking about far subtler, and far less conscious, elements of experience. Micro-moments, where a website or app's behaviour causes a negative reaction.

Those are more important than you think, and it's crazy how often I see websites that are really well-built, do things that are counter to a quality experience.

Examples:

  • Exit-intent popups. Yes, I know they work. I also know that I don't want a website to tell me I'm about to do something wrong. But that's what they effectivley signal: "No don't leave, you're making a mistake". Which is likely to trigger: a reaction of "Wtf, I'm about to leave - who the hell are you to tell me that I should be doing something else!?" You don't want your visitors to experience that kind of reaction.
  • Hijack my scrolling. For the love of god, please don't use any of those weird parallax scrolling settings, where it suddenly seems my scroll weel has rubber in its gears.
  • Mess with my keyboard shortcuts. I almost made this mistake myself a while back, when I asked Kim to set cmd-f to place the cursor in the search field. But no, cmd-f is industry-standard for searching in the page, and it ruins a user-experience if you override it. It's one of the reasons I find Google Sheets annoying: I use cmd-option-arrow to navigate between tabs, but Google has a different function assigned to that, and you can't disable or change it. Aggravating every single time I use Sheets. Every single time.

Of course none of this is life & death. But, your user has deeply ingrained habits, and expectations around behaviour, based on years of using computers and peripherals and websites and apps.

And if you're going to make decisions that force those habits to produce unexpected results, you need to make sure that things don't produce annoyance and frowns.

And with that, I'm off to spend the weekend tinkering with the Vault and all the new articles I want to add in. Have a good one!

Cheers,

Martin

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DevLog 08 - Bye Bye 2022 - thanks, you've been good to me


Week 52 2022-12-30


From the founder

Each year, I do a review & goalsetting exercise - a multi-day reflection and journalling programme created by Peter Shallard, the shrink for entrepreneurs.

This year, it's been even nicer than normal: ! I've not come anywhere near my goals in terms of revenue and MoneyGame proposals, but both numbers have gone up dramatically since 2021.

Of course that has something to do with the fact that I doubled my coaching & consulting rates, but that's offset by the fact that I worked half as hard as before, mostly with partners which is far more relaxed than clients, and this was the year when I built an MVP app and I started hiring and managing people. And both those last two are crazy hard, time-consuming, and come with a steep learning curve...

So to see that my numbers have gone up while working less and spending enormous amounts of time on activities that will only yield returns in the long run...

Well yeah, that means it's been a really, really nice year. I'm grateful.

Especially to you, my reader, because we're now two months in, and so far nobody has unsubscribed from these devlogs, lengthy as they are. (Also see: did I just jynx my streak? 🀷)

That readership is interesting though, because like I said a few weeks ago: I have no editorial brief or business-related purpose behind these newsletters. They're just a personal log, an artful expression (note: that is not the same as saying that it's art) of thoughts and happenings, driven by an urge to share and include you in the journey. And apparently, there are people who enjoy reading that - so yes, thanks for being here!

Do drop me a line and tell me what you'd like to see more of, in the new year...

What's new at SFC Headquarters

The phase of not-building-very-much continues on, as I spend a lot of time reflecting about SFC on a higher level.

What I'm trying to figure out is: What's going to be the best, most resource-efficient, way to increase content output, without causing the need for adding in tons of new features?

It's not that Kim can't build new features that I might come up with, but since starting working with him, I've discovered that each new addition requires a lot of back&forth and testing, and that means I have less time for creating the content that the feature was built to enable.

So there's a balance I'm trying to strike, in terms of what should go on this year's roadmap, and what shouldn't. It's fun to be exploring this area!

Cool finds

  • PromptHunt: A sort of overlay for AI artwork generators, that lets you create styles and consistent visuals.
  • Amplenote: Notes and tasks, all in one. This would have been a contender for my project management, but it doesn't sync with Obsidian. For me that's a dealbreaker, since my notes and tasks already integrate together in Obsidian. I wouldn't mind using a separate app for projects and tasks, but not if it means separating project management from my larger note-taking and content-creation activities and files.
  • Bardeen: A browser extension that lets you create automations for websites you visit, such as creating tasks, pulling meeting data from your Google Calendar, creating Githb issues... Similar to what Zapier does, but with a better interface.
  • Matter: Another reading aggregator, pulling in and saving things to your read-later list. I'll be testing it against Readwise - and it might win out.

New content

For the devs and the nerds

Maybe it's just me, but I increasingly feel like developing things is an ongoing game of discipline. Not only in terms of resisting the constant urge to build more stuff, and do marketing instead, but also in terms of learning more things.

Specifically: for what I want SFC to do, and for what I need to do on a technical level, there really isn't that much more that I need to learn - that is to say, in terms of how the app fits into the bigger picture of my business at the moment, and what it needs to do in order to serve its purpose.

Yet every week I find a bunch of things - Obsidian plugins, JavaScript libraries, automations and AI's and SaaS tools and so on - that would give me so much more in terms of options!

Oh, right. They would do that, if I'd learn how to build with them. Which, in most cases, would be about as silly as learning algebra, just so that you can use a spreadsheet.

It makes no sense, for me to try learn JavaScript, just so that I can run it in Obsidian's Templater... much better to ask Kim to create scripts. But the idea of learning it is SO tempting...!

Is it the same for you - do you experience an eagerness to learn new stuff as well, and does that risk taking you off-course?

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DevLog 07 - Setting a course


Week 51 - 2022-12-25


From the founder

Review, reflection, setting a course for 2023

I haven't started my formal year-end review & planning ritual yet, so I don't have any strong definitions of goals and strategies yet, but there's one thing I know:

The theme for next year is going to be: Building a tiny little organisation. Formalising things, bringing more people on to the team.

Because now that I've had the utter delight and empowerment that comes from working with a team, I'm hooked, and I want more. More dev work, more hours, more team members.

I've now finally started cracking the code on how to leverage myself, with the help of carefully chosen helpers, and it's clear that it's the way forward for Martin.

Aside from that, I want to double-down on creating revenue-share partnerships, and of course:

Publish publish publish publish publish publish. After all, that's the whole idea behind SFC: To develop my own, fully-owned media and publication platform. Going to be a fun year :)

What's new at SFC Headquarters

Playing with scripts and ChatGPT to make life easier

Up to this point, each day, I've been manually copy-pasting blog posts from martinstellar.com over to the Vault, while rewriting them and adding tags and internal links as I go along.

Which, in terms of process, isn't all that clunky, but there's disadvantages in terms of how I think about the 100s of articles, where they belong in the Vault, and when they are up for being added.

They live in Wordpress, but I build the SFC content in Obsidian, so I needed .md files, in order to see all articles in the Obsidian's graph.

Of course you can export from Wordpress, but then you get one long file in .xml or .csv format, and that doesn't help.

So, I asked ChatGTP to write some code in Javascript to extract titles, metadata and body content, and output markdown files with valid frontmatter blocks.

Kim cleaned up the script and debugged it, and you can get it on his Github page - link under Cool Finds.

Cool finds

  • My favourite cool find this week: Kim's CSV/XML to markdown converter.https://github.com/Kerubi-5/convert-csv-xml-to-markdown). I've not run the latest version yet, but I think it's ready to use.

  • SheetsPlus:: Another AI, this time a tool for automatically writing formulas in Excel or Google Sheets. I wish I'd had this a few years ago, when I was trying to build an algorithm with my buddy Antonio. (The short of it: we figured out a way to calculate how likely it would be that a past buyer buys again... and what kind of message to provide to make that happen, all with tables and calculations in spreadsheets. I could have ended up being some pretty cool kit - maybe we'll get back to it someday. If AI doesn't invent it first).

  • DeTangle: A tool to help you summarise and understand legal documents. Looks pretty useful.

  • MogulNetworking: A Personal CRM, and it looks pretty decent. If you've ever tried setting up HubSpot or SalesForce or Zoho and got demotivated, only to end up using a spreadsheet or Notion, this might be a tool that makes your life easier... and it might make your relational garden healthier.

    Btw I love their pricing table! Cost of free access: 1 email address. I've not seen a pricing table do that before, talk explicitly in those terms. But it's nice, I like it so much!

New content

For the devs and the nerds

Now that I'm beginning to better understand how automations and scripts work, and I'm seeing how AI is able to write code, I'm really excited for the next year.

For instance, Kim's markdown converter: in terms of text manipulation, that's a super-handy little script, and all it took was a prompt and some debugging.

If it's that easy to process text with custom code, I can see myself make a ton of use of it.

Thing is, I don't yet know what kind of text manipulation I should use - but I'll bet that as I learn more about code and javascript, I'll be able to come up with all kinds ideas that leverage all the content and the ability to rapidly build scripts.

Like I said: I'm excited for the new year!

And with that, on Dec 25th 2022, I wish you Happy AllTheThings!

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DevLog 06 - Slowing down, to go fast


Week 50 - 2022-12-17


From the founder

It certainly seems like AI is upon us, if my personal bubble of developers and founders and makers is anything to go by.

Be it on Twitter, Reddit or in my inbox, there's no end to the deluge of new AI-enabled tools and apps and bots and whatnot, that people are unleashing on society.

I honestly have no idea whether that's going to result in a net positive or a net disaster, but I can't help wondering how many villages were burned down accidentally, when the first proto-humans ever picked up a burning branch from a lightning-struck tree.

I mean: it's new technology, just like fire was at some point... and I really, really hope, that humanity doesn't accidentally, communally, get burned. But, we'll see.

It's fun to see all the things AI can do though, and I see an enormous amount of positive sides and applications.

What's new this week at SFC HQ

Nothing world-shaking to report this week, as I've not been able to work on SFC too much. Partially because my coaching practice is fairly busy right now, but also because I've started slowing down on doing things in the last few weeks, in order to spend more time in reflection and strategising.

That's a new thing for me, because normally my December prep for the new year would be scheduled between Christmas and Jan 1st -but this time, December automatically and naturally saw me slow down.

Which is a good thing, because after a year of building, and ~3 monhts of gathering feedback in meetings and demos, I have reasonably convincing signals that SFC is a tool with market potential. But, that potential will only get realised if I build it out strategically - both in terms of the app, but also its marketing.

So for the remainder of the year I'll be doing a lot of writing and reflecting (i.e. Thinking on "paper"), and laying out a plan for where I want to take things.

In rowing, they say "Row slow to go fast", and that's what I'm doing. Slowing down, in order to go fast later. It's a good time of year for it.

In other news: That kitten named Groovy, that I adopted as our "intern": he sadly walked off on Monday, and I've not seen him since. I'm pretty sure someone saw him in the street, looking lost, and took him home. I sure miss the little dude.

Cool finds

  • One of the interesting ways AI is showing up: Enhancing and enabling already useful tools. For instance, Reader by Readwise. Really cool to see what that formerly limited tool can now do.
  • Yet another AI writer, WriteSonic is the first I've seen that has variable pricing based on the quality of the copy you need. Useful, but it's one of those things that make me frown. I mean, we already have to deal with content shock just because of all the stuff that gets published... And what I hope AI will not do, is cause people to flood the web with even more, even lower quality, wordage. As a pro tip from a former copywriter though: I believe it's a mistake in 100% of the cases to use AI generated content verbatim. You want to publish content that's made for a good reader experience, and most of what I've seen so far is too dry. Treat AI output as a draft, and edit it to fit your style.
  • LogSnag is one of those tools that make my mouth water. Dashboards! Statistics! Event tracking! Data and insights! Push notifications! Yes Martin, but it's also one of those tools that can cost you weeks of setting up and tweaking, in order to have a dashboard for data, traffic and usage, that are still too low to even measure. Better to stay the course, book meetings, interview people, develop customer avatars.

New content

For the devs and the nerds

That conundrum from a while ago, about how to create listings of latest content added to the Vault? Turns out, there's a really simple solution, courtesy of Obsidian's Templater extension, and some clever scripting by our rockstar developer Kim.

Now I just hit a hotkey that brings up a modal asking "Do you want to publish this note?". I hit yes, and the frontmatter property pubDate: automatically is updated with a datestamp, and the file is moved into the _notes folder, after which git push lines up the note for deployment.

From that key-value pair we added, we can now simply create filters and listings, and I just love how you can programme functionality in YAML. (In fact, I've built my own small CRM inside Obsidian, which displays deals and tasks in queries, and those queries automatically update based on values in the frontmatter of each note.)

So with that tech hurdle out of the way, I can now start to strategically place listings in pages, in order to deepen the rabbit-hole experience I'm trying to build.

Final note:

Are you spending time in reflection and planning, as the new year draws near?

What's your theme for the coming year?

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DevLog 5: On selling out and Kryptonite


Week 49 | 2022-12-09

From the founder

Would I ever sell?

Had an interesting conversation with a business partner, who asked if I would ever sell SalesFlow Coach. This, after a mentor told me that she wouldn't be surprised if a company such as Hubspot would make an acquisition offer in a few years from now.

I'm not building this thing to sell it, and I've never considered the idea, but I suppose it's something that could happen some day.

I don't think I would sell though. Not after spending 30+ years learning psychology and communication and business and sales and so on, and fusing all that together into a tool that - apparently - got successful.

Of course I have no idea how far I'll get, porting all my knowledge and methodoloties into this platform, but basically I'm trying to structure and publicise my life's work.

Some people might do that by writing a book, but I happen to be doing it in the shape of a platform that coaches and educates - but it's the same thing. It's my life's work.

And just like an author should never sign away the right to their work, I don't think I'll be selling off my platform.

Besides: if big money would tempt me to sell, I hope I'll remember that there's other ways to generate big money: from licensing to white-label, from franchising to integrations, from productising to value-add services... So many options, so: why sell?

What's new this week at SFC HQ

"Making things" is the Kryptonite I keep buying

I've never understood what Bowie meant with the lyric "Always crashing in the same car", but: it's a phrase that comes up at time like these.

Because if there's one thing that's guaranteed to stop me from being effective and doing the things that make my business grow, it's this:

Taking on make-projects. I.e. making myself responsible for delivering things. Website copy for a business partner, a slide deck or a training for a client: I know I should say no to things like that, but far too often, I don't.

And so I'll end up stuck in a multi-week or multi-month project, where I spend dozens of hours a week, in order to produce an asset that isn't mine, and therefore doesn't accrue to the assets my business already has.

And because of that, I end up with too little time to work on my own business assets, and that ain't no way to go through life, Martin.

The most recent make-task that I erroneously installed in my days? That massive SEO project.

Yeah I know, I hired Audrey for SEO - but, that was only part of the job description: the other part was helping me bring over articles from the blog and optimising & interlinking them.

But after a few weeks I realised that SEO is far bigger a job than I imagined, and so I decided to scale down the content part of things, and involve myself with SEO, together with Audrey.

Which was, frankly, rather a terrible decision 🀦

For weeks, I looked at competitors, keywords, dashboards and spreadsheets, constantly feeling out of my depth, which then kept triggering me to read up on things and doing more research and learning more, and all the while, I wasn't doing the one thing that SalesFlow Coach needs most:

Talk to people, 1 on 1, and get feedback on utility and product-market fit.

That's what's required, that's what matters most right now. Not a full-on SEO development project.

So, we've changed plans: I'm going to leave optimising the articles in Audrey's hands, and keep myself away fro working on SEO as much as possible. I'm not going to research competitors, or review stats and rankings, I'm not going to create a long-form pillar page and SEO the crap out of it - for now.

Instead, I'm going to talk to people. Because that's in my Zone of Genius (see: Gay Hendrix, The Big Leap), whereas SEO is not even in my zone of competence.

So silly, looking back at the last few weeks: if only I spend my days optimising for meet-time (Zoom calls, emails, any kind of communication), then things work... but apparently, that was a lesson I need to learn afresh.

Cool finds:

  • Jugaad: That photo in last week's DevLog, with the charger on top of a notebook and several converters plugged in? That's what they call Jugaad in India: A way of creatively combining things - which is pretty much how we're building SFC and in fact, it's basically how I've always operated. You make things work with the resources available to you, right?
  • This Is Built With AI - A directory of new startups and tools that use AI. Interesting to see what kind of things people come up with.
  • Butter.us - a weird kind of name, but a fun platform for hosting interactive meetings. Quite different from your regular Zoom event, worth checking out.
  • Sparknup - an Australian platform where you can hire speakers to join your team meetings, and bring a bit of a spark to the event.
  • Last week, I almost, but not quite, included chat.openai.com, which had just been released. I don't really know why I skipped it - maybe because it was being hyped so much. In any case, it's pretty impressive, but: you need to know how to ask it the right questions. Once you do, it can give you some very helpful answers, way beyond the generic stuff that a lesser-quality question gets you. Which is funny, because "ask better questions" is exactly what a coach would say. And while the tech is amazing, I think it'll become a whole 'nother level of amazing, once they start letting the bot ask you questions. When that happens, I think we'll be really be cooking with gas.

New content

Only three articles added to the vault this week - it's been a busy time!

For the devs and the nerds

Do you get that too, those phases where you get completely side-tracked by something, and you drop work on the activities that matter most for your business?

And, does that ever get to the point where you even reduce work on the thing you're actually trying to build?

What's your hack for staying focused, instead of chasing red herrings?

Also: what is your Kryptonite?

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DevLog 04 - Found my community (!) & question for the devs


Week 48 2022-12-02

In this week's edition:

The case for daily emails, finally found a community I think I'll love, and what the SFC tech stack looks like

From the founder

Have you considered sending daily emails?

If ever you wonder if sending a daily email to your list is a good marketing strategy, consider this:

Unless you're on my other, daily email list, you didn't receive last week's DevLog - because I accidentally sent it to that list, and not the one that you are subscribed to! 🀦

The people there, they get a short daily article - the ones that I add to the SFC Vault each day. (If you click that link, you can sign up to get them delivered daily.)

Those people are absolutey not used to getting a long, multi-section email, much less one about the behind-the-scenes of my building an app. Oh, and they never get my emails on Sundays either. But, that's when I sent DevLog 03.

So normally, you'd expect to see at least a few people unsubscribe, right? "That's not what I signed up for, Martin. Goodbye". And rightly so.

And yet, not a single single reader unsubscribed from it. Just goes to show how strong relationships can get with readers, if you constently, even daily, show up with something intended to be useful.

You can make a complete gaffe, send them something they never expected and be forgiven, and that's exactly because of that commitment to serving, and showing up consistently. Dunno, maybe this will have you consider sending daily emails to your own list as well...

Also: sorry, I sent your DevLog to the wrong list.

Keywords, avatars and insights

That whole SEO thing is proving a hell of a lot harder - and more useful! - than I had expected.

Obviously there's a lot to figure out and a lot to get my head around. But that process of reviewing what a competitor is doing, and what search phrases they rank for, and how that translates to the type of person they are trying to appeal to... that's doing a lot of good for my own thinking.

It also means that we're still very much in the research phase of SEO and not so much in the implementing phase, but that's ok. I'm all about taking action, but in this case research and learning are prerequisites.

My biggest learning this week is that the people I thought were my competitors, rank for keywords that are very hard to rank for... and those keywords that are easy to rank for, are those entered into Google when people are starting out as a coach or consultant.

Searches lke: "how to start a consulting business" or "how to land my first consulting client". And that's a problem, because I have a "battlescars required" rule.

The difficulty is that people who are new to coaching or consulting tend to be more in need of help with their mindset, instead of help with strategy and implementation. And, they typically would benefit from a phase of intense learning, when right now I don't offer any training programmes or digital course.

Which means they might benefit from the free content in the vault, but they won't be a good fit for a Personal membership. And means I have no way to monetise the traffic, so it makes no sense to spend time and money trying to attract that kind of traffic.

All this to say: I was looking at competitors for my coaching and consulting work, but in terms of SFC and the SEO it needs, they are actually not my competitors. So in the coming week we're taking a step back, in order to first research competitors in-depth, and only after that get into the keyword-weeds.

What's new this week at SFC HQ

Alright, I'll play the startup game: we have a new intern, and it's a kitten named Groovy. I'll add him to our Team Page tomorrow. (Gosh, I'm so modern. Maybe I should move to Sillicon Valley.)


One early morning on my daily constitutional, one of those strays that you see here in the vega, came up behind and started following me.

So I figured: "Fine, little one. If you walk with me all the way back the car, I'll give you a home". Which he now has. Crazy little guy walked with me for almost 40 minutes.

Of course Funky - my other cat - wasn't too happy with the intrustion, but tensions have already begun easing.

Cool finds

  • The Indie Worldwide community. Felix Wong, one of the mentors who helped me this week, pointed me at this community - and I think I've finally found the perfect place to hang out and talk to fellow entrepreneurs. Membership is $49 per month, so you get a small community of nice people, without all the self-promotion you tend to get in non-gated communities.
  • OneSchema - an embeddable CSV importer for developers. No building required - just install, configure, and deploy. You can't imagine how things like that wake up my inner nerd. It's fun, exciting and dangerous to find things like this, because it's just so tempting to get distracted, thinking about new functionality we can build into the app. Gotta stay focused though: content & SEO is the name of the current game.

New content

For the devs and the nerds

A technical quandary

If you've never played with Obsidian or you don't know what Gasby is, the following help request is inside-baseball and probably won't make much sense, but here's the deal:

For certain pages, such as pillar pages, I'd like to have a section that displays all content that has been added to the Vault, sorted by date added.

Above, under New Content, you see what that looks like - but, those are links I added manually.

On a pillar page like Sales and Selling, I'd want to show the latest ten articles related to that core topic, and that list needs to be updated automatically as new content gets added.

The problem is that we can list files based on their creation date, or last modified date - but that doesn't work for us. Some files started as a draft months ago, meaning their creation date is not a valid criterion. And other files might get updates long after they get added to the Vault, so those would screw up a timeline of new content added.

So far, we haven't found a way to code a listing that lists pages based on when they were added to a specific folder in Obsidian, i.e. the _notes folder, which is where Gatsby-Garden finds the markdown notes that need to be displayed in the app.

Of course I can set a frontmatter property with the date when I add them to the vault, and that's the current best solution we have, but I know myself: I'm bound to forget to do that over time.

My next best guess is to try with an RSS feed and see if we can embed that.

But that's so... hacky though, isn't it?

If you're a developer and you'd have this issue at hand... What would you do?

What the SFC tech stack looks like


Anthony Castrio is the founder of the Indie Worldwide community I mentioned. He seems like a nice chap, and when I saw his photo in the community Slack channel, I saw something familiar.

In a sense, it really is what the SFC stack looks like, in that at the root of it all, are notes - I compose them in Obsidian instead of a notebook, but they are the foundation upon which everything is built.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and a terrific week ahead!

Cheers,

Martin

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DevLog 03 - New perspectives and a potential client


Week 47 | 2022-11-27

In this week's edition:

Bigger-picture thinking, a nice zero-to-one, a different approach to adding notes, and a feature that we can do cool things with


From the founder

Are you thinking big enough, Martin?

These calls I've started having with mentors are proving to be massively effective.

On Monday, I was told that the problem that SFC aims to solve - ups & downs because of inconsistent pipeline activity - is something that even very large corporations struggle with.

In itself that's not news: in every industry and at every level, there will be losses because of lacking performance and consistency. It's one of the banes of business success.

But I hadn't expected for someone from that world, to see a potential product-market fit for the problem that I - and my little MVP app - are trying to solve.

Not that I'm going to brand myself as the sales enablement solution for Capitalism Inc - I very much like my audience of nerds and geeks, founders and startups and SMBs, thank you very much.

But, her opinion caused a nice and useful shift upwards, in the way I think about my avatars, and how that connects to the SEO work we're doing.

I'm learning a lot. Interesting times ahead.

New approach: batch of new notes slated to be added to the vault

I've gotten a bit stuck with the process of adding articles over from my blog each day.

By itself it's easy enough, but looking for articles to link them to, is proving a tough daily chore.

Problem is, I have only 59 articles to link to at the moment, and not all are good targets for the articles I add each day.

I need more from the archive on martinstellar.com to live inside the app, so that I have more options to link to. So instead of adding articles that have outgoing links, I'm just going to take a bunch of articles off the blog, rewrite or edit them, give them tags, and stick them in the Vault.

That way I'll have a larger pool of candidates to choose from each day, and over time I can start adding outgoing links to them. Yes, that creates a new backlog of work, having to revisit the batch and link out from them, but:

Backlog? What backlog. I have 400 articles on my old blog to add to the Vault, so I really don't care whether my backlog looks square or circular - it's basically the same.

"Yeah but Martin, how much time does it cost you each week, to publish a DevLog newsletter?"

A rough estimate is 6 hours, though maybe it's 8 or 10. I don't count the time, and here's why:

Publishing this newsletter has a business purpose, but I'm not doing it for business reasons. If that were the motivator, I wouldn't do it, because I can publish things that are much easier and faster to create, and that actually give me an ROI.

No, the reason I publish this - aside from feeling the urge to share the adventure I'm on - is because it's a creative outlet for me. I have fun doing this, in a way that no other business-activity brings me. Some people paint on a Friday evening, but I write a newsletter. It's fun. It fills the well.

Incidentally, it's also a way to do a kind of weekly review, which is something I've always wanted to do, but I never wanted to sit down and do it. But now I do, because it's the byproduct of something that I want to do, with intrinsic motivation.

Pro tip: that's also how you get to actually do the things that you tell yourself you should do: find a way to do something else, that gets you that 'must-do' thing as a byproduct.

Zero to one

It's always nice when something cool happens for the first time. In this case, I was the recipient of a mentoring call, where the mentor said "As I checked out the app, I realised that it might be just for me".

The next day she wrote in: "I have a complex pipeline with many stakeholders for each deal. I need support can we talk?"

I find that utterly fascinating, because in 30 minutes, a completely new connection - whom I met not in order to land a client - qualified themselves as a potential buyer, and ended up scheduling a sales conversation with me. And I never even tried to interest her or sell her on anything - I was there to learn.

If that is what my little build can accomplish, I'm rather excited about the future.

What's new this week at SFC HQ

This week

  • Changed how the search field works. It's now a slash-command, so you just hit / and you type your search. Which is hardly a feature at all, but I wanted it for my own convenience. And then I realised that it actually unlocks all kinds of cool things we can do, so in the future we'll be tinkering with that
  • Got booked for a podcast interview, to take place next week
  • Secured a guest-posting slot, and working on outline and SEO (funny how it takes me back to my copywriter days, to be writing around keywords again

Cool finds

  • Frase - a tool, or rather: a suite of tools, that helps you with SEO, writing headlines, competitor research, writing copy... it can do a lot. Worth checking it out
  • Bearly - very indie, very cool: an AI research app. You hit a keyboard command and get a window that summarises content you found, and then you can ask it questions about the content, or have it write things about it for you. Gotta see it in action to get a better picture.

New in the SalesFlow Coach Vault

For the nerds and the devs

That slash command, where you Type / to search...

Over time, that can become a more built-out slash-menu, similar to what Obsidian or Notion et al have...

What do you think I should do with that?

I've not spent a lot of time thinking about the possibilities (because we only added it week, but also because I don't want to get lost in tinkering with features atm), but I do think it opens up a ton of opossibilities.

Any ideas?

What would you do with it?

Try it out, hit / - what do you think would be a cool way to give that pulldown menu more utility?

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Devlog 02 - Growing up & bigger-picture thinking


Week 46 | 2022-11-19 Sat

In this week's edition: Foundations, votes, pillars... and an apology to all my developer friends

From the founder

There's a definite feel of 'growing up' happening here. Now that we've started with SEO, I'm now finally working on the long-term plan for my business. See, I never used to pay attention to SEO, instead relying on email marketing, networking, referrals and outreach.

And that works, and I've nothing to complain about, but:

It meant that I always lacked an important foundation. Having started working with Audrey on SEO on a daily basis, I'm now confronted daily with a long-term vision & approach to business - and, it's a vision that forces me to think hard about "who exactly is the right person?"

I have all kinds of clarity on that, in terms of the people that I meet with or should work with - but that's 1 on 1, meaning it's a lot easier to know who you're looking for. Especially if you've been learning your people for a decade and a half.

But when you start thinking about the invisible people, those who you haven't met yet, the unseen audience out there, the 1000 true fans hidden in a demographic millions of individuals wide, you have to roll back a lot of what you know, and go back to basic questions.

Who are they? What do they consider succcess? What does low-hanging fruit look like for them? What do they do? What do they charge? How big is their team? Where do they need help? How do they think? What wakes them up at night? What are their challenges and struggles...?

Asking those questions, in function of a product like SFC and an SEO strategy that works, feels like growing up because I'm now finally building an asset that can scale and grow over time, which is something I've never undertaken in any serious way.

What's new this week at SFC HQ

Outreach got "I love the app" from a celebrity

It's nice when you get to the stage of "i just don't give a damn any longer", i.e. when you finally get over yourself, and send outreach to big names.

In this case, it's a fairly well-known business leader I've exchanged emails with. On a whim, I decided to add him to my send list, and his reply was "Love the app!", so that was a nice bit of validation.

Started working on a Pillar page

Some people call it a hub or a content cluster, but basically it comes down to categories. I realised that trying to SEO-optimise all articles would be a long process and because the articles are short, it would be harder to rank them as well.

So instead, we decided to create a pillar page, on Sales and Selling. Nice piece of long-form content on it, related links, SEO the hell out of it... should work.

But then my mentor Rob saw the page, and said:

"That bit about how to not be ghosted by buyers - if I were your audience and I'd see that on a Google search, I'd click that link."

Which makes a lot of sense: being ghosted sucks and it happens to all of us.

Problem is: the answer to "How do I not get ghosted?" is the same answer you get when you ask: "How do I get the eggshells out of my omelette?"

You prevent it from happening in the first place.

And that's going to be a downer for first-time visitors, when they click looking for a solution.

But hey... everybody asks themselves "How do I get more leads?" or "Where do I find buyers?", right?

Well, I have an answer for that - a solution - and it's a workflow called Mine Your Network for Opportunities. So maybe, instead of SEO on a pillar page, maybe I should create a long-form page on the value of your network and why you should mine it and leverage the relationships you've nurtured, and have Audrey SEO that one.

Not sure, fresh idea. I'll put a page together over the weekend, and see how I feel about it on Monday. Discuss with Audrey, and then we'll see what's the best decision.

I'm in love and she just keeps on growing

If you use Obsidian.md, you'll probably enjoy seeing what my graph looks like. If you don't use the app: Obsidian's 'Graph' is a visual representation of all the content in the app, and the way it's all interlinked:


Graph of SalesFlow Coach 2022-11-20



Ain't she pretty? I'll admit that more than once a day, I pull it up on screen, just to zoom in & out, and navigate a bit, just because I like seeing how the things I know are growing into a web of rabbit-holes.

The red nodes btw, those are some of the articles slated for adding to the vault. Purple is workflows, blue is articles. Of which I have another ~400 to add, so that's going to become a nice and big cluster over time.

Kinda calling in the cavalry

Meaning, this time I'm not just doing things under my own steam, hoping that email marketing and social media by themselves will get me results. (In fact, I'm not even doing anything on social media at the moment.

Instead, I've started booking calls on GrowthMentor, to get feedback and recommendations from people other than the usual suspects (friends and peers).

Not that I don't value friends and peers, because I do (do I ever!), but it's very easy to stay in your own social silo, which means you hear advice you've heard (and probably rejected) before.

Speaking with new people gives different ideas, different viewpoints, and fosters new connections and strategies.

Something something social

I'm not a big social media user, but I did find Twitter fun a number of years ago. Made some real good friends.

But then marketers came along, and since 'marketers ruin everything', it's now mostly a game of people trying to game the algorithms, and it's gotten boring.

So I made an account on Mastodon (@martinstellar), because maybe Twitter's troubles will drive more people there, and I can have some fun there the way I used to on Twitter. We'll see, not too fussed.

Cool finds

  • GrowthMentor - Recommended by my buddy Josh Pitzalis, it's a platform where you can book a mentoring call at any time, for free with most mentors. I like it because membership is vetted, so you get this community of extremely helpful and generous people. I joined to help others, but now I've started booking mentoring calls as well, to get new ideas on what to do with SFC
  • SmashingLogo - A tool that automates making a logo and all manner of business assets for the web, using AI. I've not tried this one myself, but I've used similar tools and it looks like a pretty solid piece of kit
  • Not 'something I found this week', but maybe you find it helpful to find him: shoutout to my friend and mentor Robert Gelb. If you're looking for personal guidance from a rather seasoned business mentor, and you can handle straight-talking feedback, maybe have a chat with him.

New in SalesFlow Coach

Added a vote button

On some pages, you can now click "vote" - but instead of your run-of-the-mill upvote/applause button, this is an actual vote, telling me whether I should develop the content you've just been reading, into something longer and bigger.

Point is, I love creating materials and I like diving really deep... but how do I know what content to develop and flesh out?

I let app users tell me, is how:


vote button


It needs a bit of design finesse, but once we start getting more traffic, I think it's going to give me useful data on the way people use the site, when I start seeing votes in my dashboard, and I'm really curious to see which pages people most want me to build out into bigger content-pieces.

This is another reason why things are growing up for me: Having a developer like Kim on my team, who can add features on the fly, feels like having a super-power. And I'm damn lucky, because he's enormously skilled - a real engineer. Most of the time I come up with an idea for a feature, thinking it'll take weeks to implement or might be impossible, he pings me the next day saying it's ready to test. You're my rockstar, Kim!



New content in the Vault

For the nerds and the devs

Guys, I'm sorry. I'm so very, very, very sorry.

For years, I would rant at you folk, give you earfuls, try to get you to stop building more features, and instead just finally get started with marketing for a change!

But... now that I'm building my own thing, I realise:

I was wrong. It's not that developers who build instead of spend time marketing are stupid, or cowards, or stubborn... or that they believe in their own cool thing too much, or that they think a feature is a marketing strategy.

It's that developing is addictive. Like that question from last week: Code = flow?

Binny replied and said that yes, it is, and that it's how he often accidentally builds apps ).

NOW I understand why building so often gets more time than marketing: it's just so goddam much fun!

I too find myself drawn to tinkering with my app and the articles and so on, when really what I ought to be doing, is getting the app in front of people.

So yeah, after many years of not getting it: I stand corrected.

Still: go do a bit of marketing. You're welcome.

Right, I'm off to write that pillar page...

Cheers,

Martin


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DevLog 01 - What's all this then?


Week 45 | 2022-11-11 Fri

In this week's edition: What's new at SFC HQ, what all this is about, and what to expect next


From the founder

An amazing year

Hey everyone!

Well... the last year has been pretty amazing. I could never have expected, when I met this developer called Binny in winter of 2021, I'd end up with the beginnings of a tiny little SaaS.

We started meeting weekly, and he helped me get started with Obsidian - initially just because I wanted to start a digital garden for my work and thinking...

I had no intention of publishing my vault, no plan to share a digital garden - I just wanted to use it as a creation tool.

But in December of that year I had a random thought: "Hey let's create a question-set - a decision tree - to help people move their sales forward".

So I created a couple of notes, linked them up, and showed it to a few people - and everyone went: "Huh. That's cool."

So I started adding more notes, installed a mind-mapping extension, and lost myself for weeks, noodling through the intricacies of linking up articles, questions, workflows, and educational content. A lot of fun was had.

Fast-forward to November 2022 😲

My world is quite different from how it was a year ago.

  • Binny effectively became the architect of SFC's tech stack, helping me tons in building an MVP
  • In spring, I realised that to build the app out into something shareable and ready for the public, it would require too much from Binny, so I hired Kim part-time - my first hire!
  • So, I used to be a sole-trader, but now I'm paying team members. And even though Kim started with me 6 months ago, it still feels really weird. Definitely feels like I got an entrepreneur-upgrade
  • My Vault contains 3800 notes, and the process of building it radically improved the way I think about all sorts of stuff
  • As a result, my business is doing even better than before, which has freed up a lot of time for creating more content, and I'm loving spending time on it so damn much!
  • A secondary result of that better thinking, is that I was able to create a number of partnerships, which are either very lucrative, or mutually extremely helpful

In short, it's been a good year, and I'm exceedingly grateful.

A decision: Let's publish a weekly Dev Log newsletter

I'm happy to be writing this newsletter, because for months I couldn't figure out what SFC subscribers should receive in their inbox.

Sending the same daily articles that I send my blog subscribers, that just didn't seem like the right idea.

But then I realised: what if I 'build in private'?

See, I'm conflicted about that BIP thing on social media - I tried it a few times, I like it, it's fun... but at the same time it's such a bandwagon endeavour. Look at me guys, I'm also 'Building in Public' πŸ₯±

But, I do like sharing progress with people, and when I do, people like it back, especially when I show them what new stuff I've been putting together.

So what if, instead of BIP, I Build In Private? As in: what if I publish a newsletter, a Dev Log, of everything that happened this week at SFC HQ - but I write it for subscribers, and not for social media algorithms?

Well, then you get to read what you're reading right now. Hi!

What to expect going forward

Each week, you'll receive a report with news, cool finds, dev stuff (because I'm a nerd and I like geeking out over nerdy stuff (see: For the devs), and of course:

New articles, workflows, and trainings, everything that got deployed to the Vault over the last week.

But I'll also be sharing insider updates on what we're building, how things are going, whether revenue and monetisation are working, the marketing activities we're trying and probably all kinds of things I haven't thought about yet.

I think they'll generally be shorter than this one, but that's because I wanted to catch you up with how we got to this point.

What was that about revenue?

I'm glad you asked, because yes: how does that work, if SalesFlow Coach is a free, public service?

I'm not a charity, which means it's got to be paid for somehow - so what is my plan for monetisation?

I could run ads, but... no. I'm not all that fond of ad tech, I certainly don't want to sell data for revenue. Hell no.

What about sponsorships? Myeh. Not too big a fan of it either.

Wait, what about a paywall!

Hm, yeah. "You've reached your monthly limit of 5 articles". It's just so... lame, isn't it?

So instead, monetisation will be with memberships.

For now, that's SalesFlow Coach Personal, where I help people with their deals, in a private coaching thread.

(Over time, the price will go up, so if you want to be grandfathered in, you might want to check out that link and see if it's for you)

Starting spring 2023 I plan to start creating premium content such as full-length trainings that will be released every month.

At some point, I'll probably also start a forum.

All of these will be memberships to offers I can do at scale, that provide a lot of value, and that give deeper access to my methodologies, without having to pay my coaching fees.

That's the plan. There's lots to do, so let's start wrapping up this 'From the founder' and look at:

What's new this week at SFC HQ

  • Technically, this is not a 'this week' bit of news but I'm so damn excited, I want to share it with you: Two weeks ago, the fantastically skilled Audrey joined the team. She'll be instrumental in our growth, since she's an SEO specialist, and I'm absolutey thrilled to have her with us. We're finally going to be working on some visibility!
  • I recently made a few changes in my projects, which means I now have a lot more time in my week, to work on new content and do outreach
  • Started this week: an outreach campaign, to share the app with people and get some early users and feedback Initially, that's some 83 people on a list - friends, former clients, a number of readers of my daily articles, leads. You know, people in my world. Once I'm done sending to those good folk, I'll be thinking about whether or not to publish the app on Reddit or ProductHunt or what have you. Not the time to think about it yet.
  • Development of the app is going well - Kim is creating a lot of little tweaks and improvements, some of which are part of the app and some that help with the creation and deployment of content.

Cool finds

  • The first cool find: LevelUp Outsourcing. This is the agency where I hired Kim and Audrey, and if you want to hire the right person but you don't want to deal with sourcing and vetting: That's what LevelUp does for you, and they're stellar at it. If you decide to talk to them, tell Taylor that Martin sent you - she'll take good care of you (and disclaimer: I'll get a discount if you decide to hire through them.).
  • CheatLayer: an AI that builds software and automations... I think πŸ€” I've not tested the tool and I've only skimmed the page, but it looks interesting. I'm tying my hands to my keyboard though, because this is the kind of platform that sets my inner tinkerer on fire, and I can't afford to get disctracted from actually developing and promoting SFC.

New in SalesFlow Coach

For the devs

Is this just a me thing, or do you guys also flick over into the Zone, the moment you start working on your project?

Each time I have to tinker with CSS or HTML or Dataview, the switch is almost instant: one moment I'm opening a file, and the next moment nothing exists except me and my doc.

It's similar when working on my Obisidian notes (especially when working with SFC content) except it takes a little longer for the switch to happen.

But the effect is the same: developing things seems to be a trigger for flow states.

(Not that I'm a developer, but I am developing this thing).

So I'm curious:

Do you have a similar experience?

Coding = flow?

That's all for Dev Log # 1. If you're reading this: thanks for spending some time with me!

Cheers,

Martin

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