An interview with Fed, the creator behind GummySearch and TheHiveIndex

updated on 10 February 2024
Find Fed on X here.
Find Fed on X here.

Introduction

Hey Everyone. Today, I'm pleased to have had a chance to speak with Fed. He's a creator I've followed and looked up to for a long time and I am happy he agreed to sit down with me today. In this chat, he shares some helpful strategies around products, life, and what's working as a solo dev. Fed also provides some great insights on affiliate programs, product development, and a piece of software he wishes was in the market today. Please enjoy.

Interview

Will: That's awesome! Let's talk product prioritization for a moment. What specific tools do you use to help juggle multiple projects and life? I’m a big fan of notion, a notepad, airplane mode, and Chrome Browsers under project specific emails. What helps keep you on track?

Fed: Thanks! I’ve been loving the word of mouth that GummySearch has been getting recently, it really is a powerful force & one that bootstrapped founders like myself appreciate.

For the first time in years it seems like things are “just working”. Both products are pretty consistently hitting new revenue highs, and I’m still having fun running them, so what more can you ask for?

Link to Tweet is Here
Link to Tweet is Here

Fed: I have my products under different Gsuite accounts too, which makes it nice and easy to switch.

Regarding time management, I’ve found what works for me is to dedicate a whole day at a time to a specific product. This way I can focus without too much switching cost and when I get stuck on something, it’s quite refreshing to focus on another project instead. I’m a big believer in background processing, sometimes a solution to the problem you were struggling with comes to you when you aren’t actively trying to solve it.

For prioritization, I have a monthly ritual to write down the top goals of each project. This is helpful to know what to work on, but also reflect on the past month & the meaningful progress you’ve made.

Will: In what ways have you seen your affiliate programs contribute to the growth of either business?  (feel free to share or not share any numbers you want. Can add another product or even a product that isn’t yours if you have an example).

Fed: I’m a big fan of affiliate programs, and win-win systems in general. I have a 40% affiliate program for GummySearch, and for the Hive Index I’m an affiliate for several paid communities.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been working on getting more quality affiliates for GummySearch, and it’s starting to pay off. Last month 15% of my new MRR came from affiliates.

Quite impactful for solo founders, when done right it’s like you have a marketing team working for you!

GummySearch
GummySearch

Will: What tools or platforms do you use to manage your affiliate programs? What do you like best, what needs to be improved, what do you wish existed?

Fed: I use Rewardful and like it, although it can be quite expensive for those just starting out. I think there is space in the market for a tool that you only pay for once you actually start making meaningful revenue from the program.

Will: What makes for a good affiliate relationship? Anything you try to avoid? Is there a characteristic you track in ones you know will do well?

Fed: Affiliates are set up for success when you make your offer easy to share & recommend. I find that having free tools or a free tier/trial of your SaaS makes it better for everyone. If your affiliates can share your offer without coming off as too salesy/pushy to their audience, everybody wins.

Regarding picking affiliates, I primarily focus on their audience size & type. Your product needs to be a fit for their overall brand, otherwise you won’t get much traction even if their audience is huge.

Great advice 👇

Will: What advice would you give to someone implementing an affiliate program for the first time?

Fed:

  • Your happy customers make the best affiliates, so remind folks that your affiliate program exists when they subscribe
  • Know that 98% of your affiliates won’t bring much revenue, focus on maintaining the relationship with the top 2%
  • The success of your affiliate program is directly correlated to the quality of your product
Appears it may be time to sign up?
Appears it may be time to sign up?

Will: Can you share a success story from your affiliate program?

Fed: Back when I launched my LTD, there would be months where affiliates would bring in $5k of new revenue. These affiliates would also give wonderful feedback, and have greatly helped shape the trajectory of the product.

Will: What’s a funny story, something unexpected, or a unique insight from either GummySearch / TheHiveIndex?

Fed: When I first built GummySearch, I had no idea what it would become. I actually built it as a personal tool (to help spread the word about TheHiveIndex). I’d use some python scripts to find relevant posts on Reddit where I can plug my product. Eventually, I figured maybe some other indie makers could benefit from the tool. I launched it, the first version didn’t even have a login! What happened next I couldn’t have even imagined.

I launched the product, and people started using it in completely different (and much more unique) ways than I had personally used it for. People would use it not just for social listening, but also to find common pain points to inspire business & content ideas, and do really interesting research. When I understood what was going on, I transitioned the product into being a fully-fledged Reddit research tool, and it started to look like what it is today..

A must visit for community building - TheHiveIndex
A must visit for community building - TheHiveIndex

Will: A couple years back you were a fan of Lifetime Deals. How do affiliate offers come into play here if we exclude AppSumo? Has your view changed on Lifetime Deals recently?

Fed: I ran a private LTD (without using a marketplace like AS), and affiliates were incredibly helpful to spread the word, otherwise I would have been doing it all myself. The LTD brought in $50k revenue over 2 months, and about 20% of that was from affiliates.

My view on lifetime deals hasn’t changed much, if you “do it right” a LTD promotion can be an incredible source of early revenue, validation, and feedback for your product.

Fed - practicing the preach
Fed - practicing the preach



Will: Any Fed specific insights from the affiliate communities on TheHiveIndex?

Fed: Funny enough, affiliate links don’t last long on the Hive Index. When I curate communities for the directories, I’ll also sometimes check if they have an affiliate program. When I find one, I list it and start directing traffic via their affiliate links.

Since it’s free to be listed, there are usually no complaints about my usage of the affiliate link. However when some communities see the volume of traffic and the affiliate fees they are paying, they convert to a paid listing (which gets them more traffic and ends up costing less). At this point I remove the affiliate link and just direct traffic to their standard page, as I don’t like double dipping on customers who are already paying me.

If you are skimming stop and read this 👇

Will: What’s one product you are surprised nobody has built, yet?

Fed: Here’s one related to affiliate programs, someone steal this please. Make an affiliate program that integrates tightly into your SaaS product. Folks can get their affiliate link/code from within your app, and when they refer their friends, they get their affiliate fee removed from their existing bill to your product.

Will: GummySearch surpassed 10,000 indexed communities on Reddit in January of last year. Care to share any recent numbers? How can people reading this use GummySearch to help with their affiliate program?

Fed: Interestingly enough, the number of subreddits has only increased by 5k over the past year, while user activity has doubled. This means that the subreddits that the GummySearch users are looking to analyze are concentrated in common niches.

Being a general-purpose research tool, there are many ways folks can use GummySearch related to affiliate programs. They can find affiliates, affiliate programs, and people asking for product recommendations. 

Will: What’s something that you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting out? This doesn’t have to be tech specific… nutrition, more sleep, time off, anything!

Fed: Bootstrapping startups takes time, a lot of it! It’s best to set yourself up to play the long term game. Make sure you have the runway to survive, and make long-term decisions that will pay off greatly over the years to come.

Will: What upcoming trends do you foresee occurring in SaaS in the next 5 years. Any hot takes?


Fed: It seems as if folks are getting subscription fatigue, and there is a wave of companies being created around one-time payments. I don’t think SaaS is going to go away, but we will see more and more unique pricing models that fit with the perceived value that customers get.

I’ve experimented with this quite a bit myself. Besides offering monthly/annual subscriptions, I’ve also started selling day passes for $10, for people who do their research in condensed time-periods. It’s been quite popular for some customer types.

Fed loves animals
Fed loves animals


Will: On a scale of 1 - 10, with 10 being I have to do this in the next 15 minutes. How much of a desire do you have to ride the AI wave and either build an AI product or incorporate AI into your existing products?

Fed: I think that AI should be more of a feature, rather than the main focus/branding of products. And certainly not all products need to have an AI feature. For example, I don’t feel there is any need in implementing AI in my directory site, while GummySearch is a fit for AI features and they are sprinkled all over the product.

Will: We know you like to travel and give yourself a B- when it comes to programmatic SEO. What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? (If too personal feel free to disregard!)

Fed: When I’m not coding I like to spend as much time as possible playing sports & staying active. In the past I’ve been a competitive Judo wrestler and Pole Vaulter. These days, I’m running triathlons, playing beach volleyball, and doing Muay Thai.

Will: Care to share a hint or sneak peak on any upcoming projects?

Fed: Big moves being made right now, but I can’t share them yet ;)

A great trio. Find Fed on X here.
A great trio. Find Fed on X here.

The quick 10 with Fed

Favorite Business Book: Obviously Awesome by April Dunford

A CEO you are studying: Alex Hormozi

Favorite video game as a child: Runescape

Favorite sports team: I don’t have a TV or watch sports, would rather play them myself!

Favorite movie: The Fifth Element

PC or Mac: Mac

Favorite color: Purple, the color of my stripe notifications

Favorite food: Thai

Favorite holiday: Halloween, hands down.

LinkedIn or X: X (LinkedIn is a bit too cringe these days)

Will: Fed, thank you for your time today, means a lot.

Fed: Thank you so much!!

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