Portfolio of products vs. focus on one with Dan Rowden

Dan Rowden and I share our experiences running multiple products simultaneously vs focusing on one.
“You're not going to learn what it's like to run a SaaS business unless you try to launch a SaaS business.” - Dan Rowden

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Dan Rowden
Dan's company, ilo.so
Dan on Twitter: @dr

Brian Casel:
Brian’s company, ZipMessage
Brian on Twitter: @casjam

Thanks to ZipMessage

ZipMessage (today’s sponsor) is the video messaging tool that replaces live calls with asynchronous conversations.  Use it free or tune into the episode for an exclusive coupon for Open Threads listeners.

Quotes from this episode:

Quote 01:

Brian Casel: It's obvious that the debate that comes up around this, right? Like, well, what if you were to focus full-time on one and just not do anything on the others? Right. And I mean, where do you stand on that right now?

Dan Rowden: Um, most of the time I find it very difficult to pick one side and then stick with it because when if he if he's stick to the do multiple verdict side, then you might be missing out on the potential of taking one much further than you can when you're working on four or five things at once. Whereas if he if you do, then go to one project which one do you pick?

Dan Rowden: Because I'm in a position where I have multiple projects, I would have to pick one. It's not like I'm starting from zero and just starting one. So I then have to like take the chance on one of them. And kind of leave the others to kind of just do nothing for a bit. And maybe I'd pick their own project.

Dan Rowden: Maybe I'd let the other ones die off by accident when they could have actually kind of just stayed on. Like, there are a lot of pros and cons to both sides. Personally, I like working on different projects and I like being able to switch between things because each of my projects I started because I wanted them to exist and because I see a value in them existing and I like working on them as problems and as markets.

Dan Rowden: So know to like pick yellow or pick cove and just do that would be a shame to me really. At the end of the day that might not work on the other ones.

Quote 02:

Dan Rowden: I think I tweeted about this recently. Is that, like my big project hasn't started yet and sometimes feels like whatever I'm working on now is just kind of those small kinds of getting me to somewhere else? And that maybe, maybe the one big project is in the future somewhere which is kind of a weird way to think about,

Brian Casel: I mean, the work you're working on because...

Dan Rowden: because right now this is like my everything. It supports my family. And it's what I do every day to think of it and to think of it as just like a temporary kind of stepping stone to something else. Yeah. Strange to think sometimes.

Brian Casel: But that's what it is, though, really. That's what it is. I mean, especially in like the first half of the career, it's you're not going to learn what it's like to run a SaaS business unless you try to launch a SaaS business. Right. And chances are the first couple of ideas are not either not going to work at all. Or they might work a little bit, but they're not going to grow fast. That's, you know. And then there are exceptions where it does grow a lot. As I remember my very, very first product was selling WordPress themes. This was in 2008 - 2009, and I remember thinking because at the time I was just a freelance web designer doing WordPress sites for clients.

I was like, who? Who knows if I'll be able to sell even one of this WordPress? Yeah. But I know that if I spend the next three or four months, building out my own custom "theme shop", I'm going to learn a ton about what it's like to try to build and sell a digital product on the Internet. And I did. And then it was like the most amazing thing to be able to sell a $50 WordPress theme. Like And the same thing I did Restaurant Engine, which was like a SaaS for four restaurant websites. It's like, I have no personal connection to the restaurant industry, but it was the first time, like taking like trying to see what it's like to, to build a staff.

Brian Casel: Right. And then and then eventually I was even able to sell that business. And then I got to learn what it's like to sell a business. Yeah. And these are just building blocks that you can build on and opt and you know, the other thing, I don't know if you've experienced this in any of you in deciding what new projects to start up, but for me, it's always been every single new idea is a reaction to the previous one.

Quote 03:

Brian Casel: But aside from launching a new product, maybe on product and on Twitter and on indie hackers and stuff like that, and then aside from launching new features into a product maybe sharing that out, what else do you generally do from a marketing standpoint? And do you think about any projects around like let's see if we can double MRR in this product by doing some project?

Do you ever think about that?

Dan Rowden: No, not typically. Um, uh, yeah. Marketing is, is hard. Um, I rely on Twitter a lot for reaching new people, especially with your because it's a, it's a product of you have built like a referral affiliate system into that to get users to bring in new users. Um, you know, has a blog that I write on. I should write on more which brings in these in a lot of traffic.

Um, I have a few good keywords, especially Twitter spaces. Analytics seems to be doing quite well with bringing in new people for that Um, yeah. Like, I mean, I don't tend to be able to come up with like marketing kind of to what the word would be like campaigns or just like special events or like things like that. It's more like generic just kind of churning out content making sure the marketing site gets picked up in search engines, making sure that people that are using the product talk about it to other people.

Portfolio of products vs. focus on one with Dan Rowden
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