How to find and grow your online audience with Arvid Kahl

Tune in on:
Apple podcast iconSpotify iconGoogle podcast icon

Arvid Kahl is an entrepreneur, software engineer, writer and all-around creator. He describes himself as ‘He Who Does Everything’ and empowers founders and creators to build sustainable businesses in public. He is also a huge part of the Twitter community.

In this episode of Creators On Air, Arvid shares how he found his audience, how to be a selfless creator and his approach to monetisation.

Follow Arvid:

🐦 Twitter
Everything Else

Episode Transcript

Akta: There's some creators who have millions of followers online, but they struggle to monetize. On the other hand, there's creators who have never gone viral, but they have six figure businesses. What's their secret? Building a business with their audience in mind. 

Arvid: The audience, to me, by definition, it's a group of people who are interested in what you have to say and what you do, what you offer, and how you can help them.

Akta: Avid empowers founders and creators to build sustainable businesses in public. He has over 100,000 Twitter followers and the new assessor with almost 10,000 readers in this episode of Creators on Air Arvid shares how he found his audience and his approach to monetization 

Arvid: an audience to me. Uh, It's usually pretty narrowly defined, right?

When, when people think about audiences, they think about themselves standing on stage, and then there's a group of people looking at them and cheering at them and then buying all their merge, right? It's kind of the, the, the traditional idea of what an audience is. But I feel an audience in the world of, um, bidirectional communication like social media and actual, like real tangible relationships with people, even in the workshop world, it's something different.

It's, it's more. It's kind of stretched over time. An audience to me, by definition, is more than what the, the original word means. It's a group of people who are interested in what you have to say and what you do, what you offer, and how you can help them. And that is both in the past, people who you already helped today, people who you're helping right now and the future, your prospective future audience members.

So I consider. Just relationships with people who might benefit from that relationship to be something incredibly important for any business, A business that is merely transactional. Like any store you go to, right? You go in, you buy, you look for things, you buy the thing you walk out. That is a transaction they want.

That is your transaction. You want, there is no relationship there. That is for, I guess, the meat space, right? The real world where you have just walk-in customers that you don't really care about. But even in our real world, we have businesses that depend on building relationships with their customers, right?

Like you have, I don't know, a, a bar, like a dive bar I guess would be that you want regulars, you want people that create an atmosphere in your business. You also want these walk-in customers, but you wanna build a relationship, or even hotels, right? People want people to return because that means that there is some kind of loyalty and you can build something together.

And in the virtual world, particularly among creators, people who have something to share, something to teach, and founders, people who want to solve somebody's problems, building a relationship based audience instead of just transaction based stuff is so much more valuable because these relationships that you build, They're not just monetary, right?

They're not just like money exchanging hands and people getting some sort of value, and then that's done. These people will recruit more people into your audience. These people will shout from the rooftops, not just about your cool product, but about you as the founder who make this happen, who had an impact on their lives, right?

That is something that is so much more valuable. In a sea where everybody is trying to just stay afloat. Cause it, there's so, so little attention and so many people talking about stuff. So having people that actually want to connect with you and then find value, not just in the product you offer, but also in the relationship with you as a creator or founder, that is so much stronger and so much more reliable.

If you think about it in business terms, that is retention, right? That's what software service businesses talk about all the time. How, not just how we, how can we get customers, but how can we retain them? Over months and years, how can we build this stronger relationship? Because there's a saying, I guess, in SaaS, in the software as a service world, that, um, it's so much easier to retain a customer than to recruit a new one.

Somebody who's been there for a year, well, it's easy to sell them the, the next month, I guess. But if you would have to recruit a a person anew every single month, obviously that is gonna cost you more. It's just, it's almost more fun to build something with people, right? To build something that is an ongoing relationship.

So that's the long-winded answer to a very short question. Something 

Akta: No, I love long-winded answers. But do you decide on what you want your audience to be at the offset, or do you. Figure that out as you go along. Like what does that process of finding your audience look 

Arvid: like first to first and then the other?

So I, I believe that an audience first, or a market first, or a customer first, prospect first, whatever you want to call it, people first approach to building a business is a particularly suited for people who want a self-funded business, who want end up like owning their own business without getting outside capital because.

When, when you start with who do I want to serve? Who do I want to empower? Who are the people that I care about in my, my personal life or my professional life? You find ways that you can help them, right? You, you see their problems. You see the things that they, they talk about on in their communities, on their forums or on their social media.

And you see which of these problems are tangible problems that you can actually potentially solve. Which of them are critical enough so they have a budget to maybe pay you for having them solved and then, You also see what existing solutions do they already use? Like what is it that they already use to try and figure these things out, which you could potentially make better if you're a software as a service business owner, you could build a.

Such a service or if you're a writer, you can write a book to, to detail all the steps of a solution. I don't know. If you're a musician, you can sing about it. There are many ways, right? There are, for whatever kind of medium you choose to solve the problem with, you'll probably find a way to do something better than what currently exists in the market, and that can only happen if you know who you're serving.

If you choose to do that after the fact, if you come up with your great idea, I'm gonna build, I don't know, Tinder for cats or something, right? Something super weird. But you have this specific product idea in mind, right? And you, you not just as a, a solution in search of a problem, it's a solution in search of a problem that is had by, or that exists in the lives of people that you're not even sure exist.

It's, it's this backward step. Like anything that you build first, where you go product first. And we see this a lot on, if you just go to Product Hunt every single day, you have these three or four amazing projects that have a gigantic audience that is just amplifying them, right? And then you go down that list and you see, okay, here's something with two up votes.

Here's an amazing software product that someone spent like a year building with two up uploads. Why? Well, because there is nobody there to support it because either they haven't thought about building an audience before launching it or nobody's interested in it. Even though this person building it may have thought this would've been a good idea.

So product first, highly risky. Great. If you have a lot of money that you can spend on experiments like this, right? If you have, yeah. BC funding couple million or something. Wonderful. Build your product ideas and disrupt the world. But if you have your own money, your savings, and you wanna make sure that the thing you're building has a chance, uh, higher than average chance of actually making some money in from the start, like revenue first, then you better figure out what actual pre people have as actual problems that have actual current solutions that are not as good as they could be.

So you start with your audience, you define it for yourself. That should take a while. It should take you a couple hours at least, or days or maybe even weeks, just being part of communities, different kinds of communities to figure out who you really want to help. Because there are a lot of communities that we all are part of, right?

We are a part of them. I guess for, for the both of us, we are in the indie hacker, software builder space, and then depending on what we like, we might be interested in certain kind of music or musicians or sports or activities, hobbies, photography, whatever. Right? All these things exist as. Defined interests that have groups of people attached.

And depending on which of these things we wanna help people with, that is the community that we should look into for the problem discovery process. And then you go through a couple steps, um, that just help you figure out like how much budget is there in this community, or how much interest is there for solutions.

Because some people really don't want solutions to their problems. They enjoy solving them. Talking about software engineers, right? One of the worst audiences to sell something to. Surprisingly as engineers because they don't really value their time that much, they would rather spend a day solving a complicated problem that ha, that has already been solved and is offered as a solution for 10 bucks a month.

People are weird in the software space, so you have to kind of figure out, is this audience. A good audience for me to actually build something to build a business in. And once you figure that out, you can always change your audience as you go. You know, kinda step side, step into another potential sub audience of that group you already have defined or something that is completely different if you see there to be more interest in that particular audience.

But I highly recommend that if you're using your own money to build a business, to figure out who you wanna help first. Search for the existing problems. Look at existing solutions, how we can make them better and go from there. That means you won't disrupt the world with your incremental approach. But it will disrupt your world if you build a business that is worth a couple million.

And that is kinda, you know, that's good enough for me. 

Akta: Yeah. But how are you actually finding out their problems once you've kind of found that audience? Like, do you actually talk to them directly? Are you sending out surveys? How do you interact with your audience to. Extract that information. 

Arvid: It's definitely, um, like a multi-pronged approach.

The, the, the easiest and most, um, I guess most compatible way for introverts like myself. I may not look or seem it like now at this moment because I talk about something I'm passionate about, but most of the time I'm quite introverted. I don't really enjoy cold calls or cold emails or just having conversations with people who don't know me, which I guess at this point is not a problem anymore.

Does matter. The idea, um, you can observe a community from inside. You can actually track the problems that people have by just listening to what they have to say. You know, if you, if you go into, let's say a subreddit, because Reddit is a, is a great community to search for problems, not necessarily to sell anything because they really hate ads and read it.

But Reddit is great because people talk honestly and openly about the issues that they have because there's. Rarely any censorship other than when it comes to, to advertising and, and to people trying to make money. But you can really get a feel for the problems of a community by just seeing what gets posted and reading every single Reddit post over a couple of weeks and taking notes, right?

Because every, every time somebody complains about something, it usually falls into one of four categories, right? It's either. Uh, just a complaint. Somebody venting just sucks, but they don't really know why it sucks, right? They just have this feeling of something is wrong here, or they have a cry for help.

They are like, I, I see this, this is my problem. I just really don't know how to solve it. So they ask, can somebody help me? Right? That's number two. Number three would be, I guess, is there. Something you recommend to solve this problem because I know there's a problem. I know it can be solved. Now what tool do I use?

Or what is the solution that you suggest? And the fourth one is like the highest one in the awareness ranking here is, is there an alternative to the existing solution to the problem that I have? So you find all four of these categories. Throughout every single conversation on Reddit or on Twitter where people complain or talk about that day, you will find this.

And once you see these categories, obviously you can, you can tell like a solution that is an alternative to where people ask for existing alternatives. That's easiest to build, right? You already know people are aware of their problem, they know that it can be solved, and they already are using something that just isn't good enough.

So you can build an iteration on top of that. Usually that's the low hanging fruit. Also means there's some competition there, but at least you know, right? At least you have the people, the problem and the solution already validated. So you just keep your ears and your eyes open and you start taking notes.

Whenever somebody complains about anything in one of these categories, you. Put an Excel sheet or a Google sheet or whatever you put a line in and says, this day this person complained about this problem. And once you see certain problems recurring right, coming up over and over again, you can do your spreadsheet magic and actually rank them, right?

You can make a graph or whatever kind of sorted table and see which of these problems occur often enough, and where do people have a budget and all of that. You, you can see that just by how people talk about that. And that is what I call the embedded exploration, like an embedded entrepreneurship. The idea of embedding yourself on a community, observing, shutting up for a bit, because you don't need to talk to people, at least not in the beginning to see what they are talking about, right?

This can be purely observational research. Then once you are at the point that you made a choice, I wanna help these people solving this particular critical problem that they seem to have a budget for, for some reason or in some way. Then you start talking to them. Then you say, well, I wonder if this could be a good solution, or, here I'm building a prototype.

You can use this for free. Just tell me how this works. Is this good enough for you? Right? You start the dialogue on an individual basis, because the good thing about tracking these things in a community like this, not only do you know. When somebody talked about a thing about a problem and what category it is in, you also have a link to that tweet or to that Reddit post, right?

You have a link to the profile of the person that actually complained about this, like they are literally in inviting you to talk to them about it, otherwise they wouldn't post. So you have the connection already. You have the topic of why they are upset, and a couple weeks later is usually a good time to ask.

Well, Did you solve this problem? Did you already figure something out? Right. Or can I keep helping you with something that I'm building? It's, it becomes conversational after a while. Doesn't have to be, but it's also easier cuz you're part of the community. Right? You know, hopefully you've contributed a little bit to the community by sharing what you know, maybe you were the person helping them.

When they cried out for help with this particular problem. So that's, that's my, that's my approach. That's what I do. That's how I come up with the ideas for the things that I write about, write books about, make courses, about topics of my podcast. All of this comes from the crying of people, the crying and wailing around of people in the communities that I'm part of.

Like I try to live what I, what I teach people here. No, I 

Akta: really like that integrated approach. I think it's very authentic. So I'm wondering, do you think. An audience size affects a creator's ability to actually build a business. 

Arvid: Yeah, definitely. Um, any, any audience of actual human beings preface.

Audience size is something that is quite easily manipulated through bots or any kind of like purchased audiences or rented audiences, whatever it might be. So a real audience as. Well, undefinable as that is because there's always a percentage, right? That is, that may not be real. Definitely helps because if you look at creators in, in the indie hacker space, like Peter Levels, for example, levels io obviously he's one of the most, uh, outstanding in terms of audience size and accomplishments, people in our community and whatever Peter launches.

Gets this baseline of attention and usage that then probably has this kind of self-fulfilling prophecy effect that it becomes at least slightly successful and that bolsters his reputation and next time around the things that the next thing he's building gets even more attention. So there's this kind of critical mass of community awareness, but it's maybe not even audience size.

Maybe audience size is just an indication of the credibility. That is underneath at all. Because if you build something from within a community and you want adoption of that thing, people will check you out before they check out your work. They will look at not only the link to the product that you offer, they will look at you and what you've done, right, who you are.

Are you trustworthy? It's the thing that you, they are giving the login credentials to, uh, not something that's not a scam. That'd be nice, right? So they, they will check you out. And if you've been a reliable contributor, if you've been building in public, sharing your journey. The chance that even a small audience will take up.

What you have to offer is extremely high, but that comes from your authenticity in the community, the contributions you've made, and the credibility and reputation you have established. So, Of course after a certain size, that is kind of built into the number. Like if I look at Peter's Twitter profile, I see like 250,000 followers.

Like even if there is like a 20% bot rate there, which is not something that he's responsible for, that's just how Twitter works. Like the higher your, your follower numbers go, the more bots will try to, uh, join your following and kind of interact. With your existing followers and all that. It's unfortunate, but you have to live with that automation.

But even if 50,000 of these people aren't real, that leaves 200,000 people, has a lot of people like that is a, a gigantic mass of people. Imagine them like in a, in a stadium or like on, on a, on a racetrack or something. That is bizarre. A number of people. And that alone signals strongly that whatever Peter is doing, Is very likely something that these people might support.

Mm-hmm. Because if they didn't, and he's been doing this for a while, they probably wouldn't follow him anymore, you know? Mm-hmm. It's not that he's a celebrity in the sense that people recognize him and follow him just for that. Like he's earned that number of followers and that. In our community at least, has such a strong signaling value that True.

It gives this initial boost to everything he does. Yeah. So yes, it helps, but you still need to be a credible and authentic human being for 

Akta: that time. Yeah. And I feel like you've done this well, so you've grown to over a hundred thousand on Twitter, which is are incredible. Were there any growth strategies that you used to do that?

Or was it purely just building in public and being authentic? 

Arvid: All of this kind of like flows into each other because my strategy was trying not to have too much of a strategy, which itself is a strategy, right? The idea that I'm, I'm trying to be authentic. Some people are so authentic that they're not authentic anymore, right?

They, they, they are pushing their authenticity to a point where it just feels edgy. And that, again, is a growth strategy. It's kind of hard to talk about this without, uh, either seeming. Um, untruthful or kind of arrogant, I guess, like, it, it always feels that whenever I, I try to even think about the strategy that I employ.

I don't even want it to be a strategy because I, I don't want, I, I am really not a fan of growth hacks, so that's gonna be a big thing. So I try to avoid anything that is a short-term. Um, when I, I don't, I don't usually run discounts or giveaways or things like this other than like two or three times a year around my birthday, the birthday of my content, and I, I guess like Friday th those days, that's when I kind of dip into that world.

But other than that, I. I just try to have people find my work organically, find me organically, find my content organically through recommendations and peers, and that's something I encourage, right? That's, that's my strategy is encouraging people to just be honest about what I offer or what they offer or what happens in our community.

I think my strategy, if I had to phrase it, Would be to empower other creators to, um, to shine a light, to use my platform to, to get more attention to others because I am aware that reciprocity exists, right? My, all my strategy is kind of built on eventual reciprocity. I help you today. I don't ask for anything.

You don't need to buy my books. You don't need to take my course. That's all fine. Like I'm, I, I built and sold a business, I'm okay. Right? But if you are interested in what I offer, here it is. I. And if you are not interested today, wonderful. Let me teach you even more so you can get to a point where this might be interesting to you.

So my, my philosophy when it comes to, to engaging people is always to, to put them first, to be kind of selfless. And that is in itself is selfish move, right? I, it's kind of the, this, um, selfless self, uh, advertising or kind of self-promotion try to be selfless, but the act of being selfless. Knowing that reciprocity exists is a selfish move.

So it's a balance of things I try to do to focus a lot of engagement, uh, to focus on a lot of engagement, to talk to people on my level that they are my peers. Like just because I have a hundred thousand followers doesn't mean I'm any way, in any way special. I just. Have a lot of attention from people and that's wonderful, but they're still founders just like myself.

They're creators just like myself. And that's kind of the approach on how I communicate is very conversational, very connection based. I wanna learn from the people that are in my Twitter feed. I also wanna teach what I know, but I know that I know very little compared to the collective knowledge of my community, right?

So I try to be a contributor to the community and I usually don't ask for anything. I ask for sponsors occasionally, right? Talking about, um, the reason I'm here, like it's using products to help me. I talk about these products because I, I know that. A wonderful tool like passionfroot will benefit from me talking about it.

And if passionfroot benefits, I benefit as a customer of the product. So I try to, you know, turn all of this into an ongoing conversation without stepping too far to, into the advertising space or the self-promotion space. But always, I'm always in all places at the same time. Yeah. And that I feel, is the authenticity that people have come to expect of me.

Yeah. There's nothing hidden. I just do it all in public. And self-promotion is part of being an entrepreneur. So I will actively self-promote to show people selflessly that self-promotion is okay. Right. So, so this, yeah. My, my strategy is to just be myself really. 

Akta: Yeah. It's a good strategy to be fair. And how are you, like, in terms of how you create content, then?

How do you make sure it's something that engages people to the extent where you can have, you know, conversations around it. Mm. And build that sense of community. 

Arvid: I source all my ideas pretty much from the conversations that I have with people. Like there's probably gonna be idea, an idea coming out of this conversation that will make it into my, my blog post in a couple weeks from now.

Yeah. Because, um, I, I know that the chance of people being interested in the things that I'm thinking about, that I'm talking about, that I have to just say something about is so much higher when it comes from an actual conversation that has had. People outside of my own head. It's really what it is. And, um, I have, I have a podcast and it used to be a podcast just of me talking about things I would source from a conversation on Twitter or hack or news or some newsletter that I read, a topic and I would just share my opinion or share what I know about it from my own experience building businesses for what is now 10 plus years, or including the, the content media business that I'm building right now.

And that was great. Then I added interviews to that where I actually interviewed people, like from my community, other people that I really admire, people, outstanding founders that I've been following for, for a decade, that I really think, wow, these are the greatest people ever. And I got to talk to them, got to ask them questions and have them share what they know and what they can teach.

And from those conversations, I source topics too. So I have my, my Wednesday. Uh, podcast episode, which is the interview. And from that I have an idea I write about and I put that out as a thought on my Friday episode of my podcast, which sparks conversations on Twitter, which then go back into, well, these are the questions I'm gonna ask the next person on my interview.

It's all this, it's kind of a feedback loop that I have established both for myself in terms of the topics that I talk about and within the community, but just like pushing topics that people already find interesting because the people who talk about them are interesting. Into the community and getting it back and forth.

So it's this kind of ongoing conversation again, it's very conversational. 

Akta: Yeah. And how have you managed to monetize this? So what your kind of current income streams as a creator. 

Arvid: Yes. So the, one of the biggest income streams currently is sponsorships from a newsletter and podcast. It's, it's pretty volatile because it, it very much feels like we're going through recession.

Like a, a year ago this was a different story. Like, uh, it was extremely easy to find sponsors. It has not been as easy anymore. But, um, yeah, I, I use passionfroot for this currently. Like, it's a process that I'm really happy about because I, I'm so glad. Yeah, well, I, I used to do all of this through Calendly and emails, so you can probably imagine chaos, just dealing, dealing with four or five different parties every single week, just trying to get, like content reliably into a shape that I could put it in my newsletter or read it as, as a.

Part of my script for my podcast, that's production time, right? You have production time that you need ahead of releasing to make all of these things happen, particularly if you have multiple formats of the same content like I do, right? I, I write on my blog. I take this as a newsletter episode. I read it into this very microphone as a podcast, and I, well, I narrate into this very camera as a YouTube video, so all of this, Kind of comes from the same source.

So if the source text isn't there, I can't do any of this. So it needs to be there a, a week before or a couple days before. And I use tools like passionfroot that help me with this. Um, and that professionalization of my process has meant that I have now a a four figure weekly revenue stream that comes from sponsorship.

Of the podcast episodes and YouTube videos and newsletter episodes and all of that. So it's, it's very much advertising or sponsorship based. Incredible sponsorship in a sense. The Yeah, it really is. It is incredible. I would've never believed that this, this is a thing that's gonna happen to me. But I mean, my newsletter has almost 10,000 subscribers.

My YouTube channel, I'm a 2000 subscribers, but I get a lot of views on my interviews because I cross-link all of these across my social media presence. And, uh, the, the blog and all of that media blog has a lot of readers. My podcast has, I, I think, 175,000 downloads altogether now. So it's kind of crazy.

Now, these numbers are something I would've never believed possible for myself to, to ever get close to, but it's happening and that attracts people who want to share what they have to offer. With my audience of boots, shepherds, and creators and founders, and I'm, I'm very diligent in checking. What it is that people offer.

So you will really never see like cringey, scam based products there. Cuz again, I'm not chasing money. It's nice to monetize it obviously, because if I teach people how to do entrepreneurship would be kind of bad taste not to attempt to show them that it is actually monetizable. Yeah, I, I'm very careful with the sponsors I take on.

And that's one angle. So you asked about all the ways I, I monetized. The other one is, uh, sales of my info products. My books sell a couple dozen copies every day through Amazon Self-publishing and that kind of stuff. Gum road. I have a lot of my, my e-books and stuff on Gum Road too. And my course Twitter course fine to following.

Which is, you know, my, the strategies that are not strategies that I, um, that, that I just put into a shape because people ask me to, again, people on Twitter told me I should do something to help them grow on Twitter. So I kind of recorded myself talking about this for four hours and 20 minutes. I tend to be verbose in case you haven't noticed yet, and that that course is on Gum Road two and, and these sales stay trickle in throughout the week as well and all of this kinda, Adds together to a revenue stream that is content-based.

I still do consulting from time to time when people want to know how to build a business, how to deal with the situation that they're in. They can always hit me up, and if I have the time I'll talk to them. So that happens too. And yeah, I, I have some affiliate links maybe that have a. Insignificant, uh, impact on my revenue stream, but they are there too.

And that's, that's really how I monetize my content empire at the moment. 

Akta: I love it. And how are you making sure that you've got sponsors lined up for, you know, all your newsletters and podcasts? Are you actively reaching out to brands or do you get a lot of brands contacting you? Or is it a bit of both?

Arvid: It's a mix, but right now, as we are in a, in a financial drought where people have a. Lot of priorities that are not just brand awareness. That used to be different, right? Brand awareness spending is something else than conversion spending. If people know that a dollar is spent is $2 made there, that's very easy for them to spend it.

But if it's a dollar spent and hopefully five years down the line, it's $10 made. Different situation, and that's the spending that has dried up a lot. So I actively reach out to people now, and I also take weeks without sponsors as something that's just part of the game. So just that is a preface. But I do a lot of outreach.

I talk to people who have sponsored before. I talk to people like actively on Twitter, sometimes I just post looking for sponsors. News slots are open. Two months from now, you know, get it while it's hot kind of stuff. And again, I'm trying to show as I am doing it in public that this is part of the journey.

That's not something you have to do behind closed doors. That is something you can do in front of the audience. It may keep some people. Wonder if, if you're selling out, you know, and you, you have people who stop following you. But that's fine with me. People who don't understand that this is part of the journey, they should probably not be in my audience.

Uh, anyway. So yeah, I do a lot of active searching and then I go through my site channels that I have people that also run podcasts with sponsors. I ask them to introduce me. Just like I do with guests, right? I have a guest on, I ask them, who else should I talk to? Can you introduce me? It's kind of how I keep building my network.

So that's a very active way, and then people reach out. Yeah. I'm, I'm in the, the link to my, my passionfroot profile is, um, well in every single email that I send, it's in, in, on my. Podcast, landing page and all of that. So it's easy for people to figure out how to be a sponsor. Yeah. And over time, you know, they trickle in.

Uh, it's, 

Akta: it's good. Yeah. And how did you decide what rates to set for sponsors and how often do you, how often do you even reflect on that? Like, how often do you think, okay, I should probably up my rates now? 

Arvid: Well, um, if I'm, if I'm going by what my, my girlfriend tells me I should up my rates all the time because I, I think she's, she's looking at me through a lens of, you have this gigantic audience, you should charge more.

And she's probably not wrong. Uh, I myself have a slightly different opinion there. I don't, uh, increase my rates all the time. I do this on a like, Yearly basis pretty much. So I just increased my, um, my consulting fee, for example, just I doubled that last week. I quintupled my course price, which a couple days ago, and that doesn't seem to have made any difference, which is interesting.

So it still sells. And so I do little experiments, but with my sponsorship fees, I'm pretty careful at the moment because if I know that, With the current fees, I cannot fill all slots at all times. Then increasing fees seems to be counter-indicated. Could be, could work, you know, could, could make it feel more, um, rare or limited.

But I'm on the side of enabling people who don't have that much money because my audience is, a lot of people in my audience are early stage founders, early stage boot step founders. So money is tight, like. In a maximum potential way, I try to enable people to get on my show. As a sponsor, even if they don't have much money.

So that's why my rates are where they are and not changing that much. Yeah. But on a yearly basis, I reevaluate. I kind of scale it along the size of my audience. Yeah. Like the amount of people. 

Akta: And with passionfroot, we have the option to hide prices so that you can negotiate with brands or have set rates.

What made you choose to have set rates versus try and negotiate with each sponsor on an individual basis? 

Arvid: Big old transparency. First approach again, like I want people to, to see what they could get and if it's for them, that's fine, and if it's not for them, at least they know that when they are at that point, it might be for them.

Because I, I, I, I can see both, both angles, right. To have the negotiation part, which would probably be something that I wouldn't enjoy because I'm, when we sold our business, I was not the one negotiating the, the exit price. Oh, oh really? Yeah. Danielle was so much better. Like she, she comes, she's Canadian, um, and she comes from like a, a family of farmers.

She has no problem stating her clear opinion, right? She's a, she's also a sizable family, a lot of siblings. She, she's tough and she, she can, uh, defend her her ground, right? She can stand her ground and defend her opinion there. I'm not that, I'm more like a, people pleasers my thing, so I probably wouldn't have negotiated that well, but.

Having set a price makes it very clear, makes it very clear cut. I guess people either buy or they don't and, uh, is not, not so much potential for me to feel embarrassed about anything. So it's kind of why, why I'm doing this. Uh, thanks for asking this. It makes me reflect if this is the perfect approach or not, but, um, I could see this being something that I would use on.

Un uncertain kinds of sponsorship. Now that you say this, I think I should have my podcast sponsorship that is in the middle of the podcast where I have like a, a mid roll read that should be a negotiated price. The pre-roll, the post-roll, these could be very clear cuz they're, you know, regular kind of formats.

But anything you want me to embed in the middle. Mm-hmm. True. I hope you don't mind me just 

Akta: brainstorming this. No, I love it. Please brainstorm in front of me. This is great. 

Arvid: That should be, that should be something that is more, that depends on the content it's embedded in, right? Yeah. What am I talking about here?

Yeah. And on the content that is actually being mentioned, like how much of my credibility that is mid narrative am I giving this particular sponsor? That could, could be something that, that I put right in there. So, yeah. I, I might change that. 

Akta: Right. No, I think that's interesting. The only reason I asked was because I've noticed that most newsletter writers seem to have set rates, but all YouTubers I know hide prices and professors negotiate.

Yeah. That's why I just thought I'd ask, because I, I'm really intrigued what the, the reasoning was. Um, I'm wondering, is it also to do with like how many slots you have as well? So like per newsletter, do you offer quite a lot of slots and what makes you decide like how much is enough? To offer it per newsletter issue or even what 

Arvid: task it is.

It is almost a, a point of comparison within the, the community that I'm in. So I have two main sponsor slot slot slots, slots per newsletter, the German coming through, and I have four classified slots at the end of a newsletter. That's pretty much what it is for the newsletter. Um, that means that of six potential slides for something to happen and six times.

Being pulled out of whatever you're reading feels like a lot or two times I guess, because the other ones are at the end. You already read the whole article before you get to the classifieds. So twice being pulled out twice by pretty sizable pieces of content. That is a lot. So, um, I feel I. Like, I, I rather should rather monetize that well, right.

That is something that people should pay a lot for because it does impact my perceived credibility to have the need to have like advertisers on in a newsletter even though it's normal. And then that price that I chose was pretty much me asking my newsletter friends, like, how much do you charge for a sizable audience, like audience, comparatively.

And I kind of took that price, um, that they had. But I guess with a growing audience, I should increase our price as well. It, it always feels like I, I don't wanna leave people behind, which is, it is a problem for me as an entrepreneur because I know the sizable part of my audience is based in, in India or Malaysia, like countries that may not have the same purchasing power as Western countries.

So charging them 250 bucks. When in reality, that's equivalent of a thousand bucks, right? Like the hedge purchasing power of a thousand bucks if they, if you converted currencies, that feels like a lot. So, um, that's kind of why I'm staying there because I, I don't want to alienate these groups of people knowing that my audience is part that too.

That demographic. It's, it's always been a big issue. And Gum Road solves this by having purchasing power parody pricing. Right. By having purchasing power adjusted prices so that somebody who buys kind of reliably or can figure out if the person actually is from India or from a place like that and they buy my product, they just pay half something for it because that means they can actually afford it.

I don't want it to be privated, so I offer it at a lower price to people of that, of that region would be kind of nice for passionfroot to offer that too, because then I could increase my prices for people who, for whom this is a seriously considerable price. Yeah. And reduce it. For people who couldn't afford it that way.

So I'm, I'm always trying to find ways to have the cake and eat it too, particularly when it comes to being globally accessible, because as a creator, creating in a language that is a, a globally understood language. It's kind of what I wanna be, right? I wanna be accessible for people in the US, in Canada, but also Malaysia and India and China and wherever, because I think entrepreneurship is such a general and a global phenomenon that nobody should be left behind just because they grow up or, or live in a country that is not the country that I am fortunate to rec reside in, which is Canada.

It's a great country. It's nice 

Akta: here. I really respect that. That's very, very thoughtful of your. Audience, um, oh, thank you. Very aligned with what, you know, what you say you do and you know, you're trying to be authentic and it really clearly shows with what you're saying now. Um, and I guess even if you didn't raise your rates, there are other ways you could kind of upsell, which is doing packages, which you've kind of already mentioned.

So what you kind of included in packages when you're selling sponsors and do you like kinda just leave it on your passionfroot page and let them kind of see that? Or do you also try to kind of. Explain it to them, like how it 

Arvid: works. Yeah. I I tend to not do that. 

Akta: I'm not surprised based on what you said.

Arvid: Yeah. And I, I don't want this to feel, and, and this is kind of harking back to the, the beginning when we talked about transactional versus relational, right? I, I don't want this to be a transaction alone. I want to build a relationship with people that then keep. You know, building this relationship with me, including the transactions that happen along the way, but not just limited to, and I have several sponsors that have been choosing my newsletter or podcast multiple times, right through Passionfroot and outside of it before I used it.

For example, my, uh, my interviews. And my regular podcast was sponsored by the people at Micro Acquire or now for over a year. Like that was they, they were there every single episode for a year and and, and then some. That is incredible. Like the trust of a brand like this that is of course perfectly aligned with what I'm doing, right?

Allowing small founders to sell their businesses. That's just exactly what I want to happen. That was so cool. And then, They rebranded, recession happened, and all of a sudden they have to focus their fi finances somewhere else. So it's, but it, it is still an ongoing relationship. Obviously. I'm still like talking to, to Andrew and all the people there.

That whole year was possible because, I did not try to force them to do anything that they didn't want to do. I just offered them the package deal and I said, Hey, you can do this for a month. You can do this for a year. Here's the price. Lock it in now, or don't. And then they did, and we had a great time.

It also severely reduced the, the workload on me because I knew what I was, you know what? Like how would I, I could fit it, it, sorry, could fit it into my narrative, right? I could fit the, the story that micro require. Has their origin, their story, the how they help people into the things that I was writing about.

I was talking about because of an existing relationship with the people. Cause I knew them. I knew not only what Microcare was doing, I knew Andrew and I, I knew people like at the business or people who went through selling their business on micro choir. It was, it was really cool to have this long-term relationship.

So anything that allows me to establish a long-term relationship like this, long story short, is, A benefit to me that outweighs the potential monetary compensation of selling them something right now. 

Akta: Yeah. And how do you maintain that relationship then even once that sponsored newsletter has been sent out?

Like are you constantly letting them know how things are done or are you talking about things Yeah. Other than your work, how, how do you maintain that 

Arvid: relationship? So I try to find brands that have founders that are publicly active, like on Twitter or other social networks to work with. And then just really have a, a founder to founder chat, like a founder to founder relationship with that person.

That the sponsorship is a wonderful thing because that helps the business and it helps my audience, right? It's a kind of win-win and it helps me. So it's a win-win situation financially. But the relationship that I actually wanna build is with the founder, right? Because Andrew Gki great example, like that man is.

Almost exclusively, almost the reason that I wrote my first book. Like I, there's a story to this, right? He was a, a fan of my work before I knew of his, like he already followed me on Twitter and he liked what I was writing back then. Just a blog that I had. I wrote a guide, like combining all my blog posts into one big thing, and he told me, Hey, if this is ever a book, Let me know I'm gonna buy it.

Oh, and that was so inspiring that I finished writing that book, released it, and now I'm a published author for some reason. Right. Crazy, crazy. That was already part of the relationship, and that was an ongoing relationship that then became a sponsor at a later point. But it was never just about the money exchanged in the sponsorship.

It was about like that guy being somebody who helps other people publicly. And we've obviously, we chat a lot. I had him on my podcast. I had him, I write about his work in my newsletter if, if there's a reason for me to do so. So this is kind of the relationship I want with my sponsors. Of course, not every sponsor will have that relationship with every creator, but if you aspire to try to build those kind of relationships, I mean, that's benefits for everybody involved, right?

Mm-hmm. Because you know what they're doing. They have cool stuff to share, I guarantee it. And you can share that with your own audience, either in your content or through a sponsorship. There's just so much potential in real relationships between 

Akta: people. Yeah. No, I love that. I love how you've got such, um, strong values that have come across in the way that you build your audience, but then also how you've been able to monetize it.

It's really refreshing to see. I'm gonna end this episode with a quickfire round, so I'm gonna ask you five questions I ask every creator that comes on air, starting with what's your favorite thing about being a creator? 

Arvid: The fact that my calendar is mostly empty. And our conversation is one of the few things that I actually have on my calendar this week.

I have a lot of control over my time and that has been one of the most joyful things in my life cuz it allows me to do other things that I wouldn't have with a full-time 

Akta: job. Yeah, I love an empty calendar. Um, what gives you the most inspiration for what you create? 

Arvid: Pretty much the people that I, I choose to serve, like, choose to serve and empower my, my, my followers, the people that I, um, follow because they are, they have interesting things to share.

My peers, right? The people who are on the same journey, the same, they have the same dream. And that keeps me dreaming and that keeps me going. 

Akta: Mm-hmm. And what's one tool that helps you as a creator? 

Arvid: I would say books, that is a tool. But yeah. Um, Twitter is probably the biggest thing, like Twitter is the, the reason that I have this constant, um, feed of things coming in and feed of things going out.

Mm-hmm. So like an active, focused, intentional social media presence. If they can be called a tool, but I'm gonna call it one, that is one. But other than that, knowledge codified into books is like, if you don't read. As a founder or as a creator, you are severely missing out. Mm-hmm. Like that is just one of the strongest, uh, and most important investments you can make in your time.

And a new 

Akta: journey. And how do you maintain a create work-life balance? 

Arvid: I try to build synergies between the things that I'm doing. That's like, and when I'm writing, I'm essentially writing, um, an article and a newsletter at the same time. And that is done also the script for a podcast and I narrate that into a camera.

So the source of everything is one thing and it has four different outlets mm-hmm. That are. Easily synergized with Right. Because the audio of that video stream is also my podcast. Mm-hmm. And the, the, the script is also the transcript for the video. So all of this kind of flows into each other. So every new thing I do to codify this into an actual process, every new thing I do has to be able to build on the existing things that are already due.

It has to synergize with them. And that saves me a lot of time, which means I have an empty calendar and I can pet my puppy all day long, can play with her in the backyard because I know. I only need to record one day a week. I only need to write one day a week. And then everything else is highly automated anyway, and I have people helping me.

I'm starting to build a team as well, so a lot of puppy play in the, in the, in the backyard as possible because I have synergistic 

Akta: processes. I, I like that. I like that's a really good system. I think I might try and take that on board myself. What's one piece of advice that you would give to other creators?

Arvid: I would say always think about how the other person benefits from this more than you potentially could. Mm-hmm. Like that's the kind of the selfless selfishness that I'm I was trying to allude to earlier. Like everything you do will come back to you. You just have to try to give as much value as you can in this moment, and then trust that the eventual reciprocity that we all have, like every person can only take so much free stuff because, Before they have to try to give something back in some way monetarily or through reputation or recommendation, whatever it might be.

That will always happen. So front load the value. Mm-hmm. Don't keep it hidden between behind, like you have to follow me to get this information or DM me or to get the link. That kind of stuff you see on Twitter all the time. Yeah. This is the totally wrong approach. Front loaded PE and leave traces for people to find you.

They will find you and they will help you. That's just how it works. 

Akta: No, that's great advice. I think we should call this episode the selfless creator. I think it's got a ring to it. That'd be nice. I love that. But no, thank you so much, avid for coming on. This has been such a fun call and I feel like I've learnt so much from you, so I really appreciate it.

Arvid: Thanks so much for having me. That was a lot of fun. 

Akta: You can find Avid on the Bootstrap Founder Podcast, YouTube channel or newsletter, or follow him on Twitter. And if you are a creator, check out Passionfroot. We help you introduce sponsorships without the hassle. I'll see you in the next one.