The Best Value Betting Software/Finder 2020 — Punter2Pro

Tools I wish I had known about when I started coding

Hey all! I had compiled this list about two years ago, shortly after I started programming, and I found that is was helpful to a lot of folks, so I wanted to resurrect it.
While the way I do some things has changed a lot in the last couple of years, these all helped me a lot when I was just getting into web development, and hopefully they might help you too!

Chrome Extensions

Now that I am a self-proclaimed web developer, I practically live in my Chrome console. Below are some tools that allow me to spend less time there:

VS Code Extensions

Visual Studio Code is my editor of choice.
People love their text editors, and I am no exception. However, I’m willing to bet most of these extensions work for whatever editor you are using as well. Check out my favorite extensions:
EDIT: found more tools I had compiled on a per operating system basis!

Operating System Agnostic

Postman — At its most basic, this is an application that allows you to test the different endpoints of an API. You know, that good CRUD stuff. Once you dive deeper into it, you will find it is also incredibly useful for writing up test suites and much more.
Insomnia — This is an open-source alternative to Postman. It appears to have a lot of the same functionality with a slightly lower price tag for their premium packages. Between this and Postman, the choice seems to mostly be personal preference for the UX. Don’t stay up all night making a decision between the two (I had to, forgive me).
Restlet — If you don’t want to download either of the above, this is an API testing client that is available as a Chrome extension. It even allows the importing of Postman tests and several other formats.
Charles — This is a sweet web debugging proxy that allows you to view all of the information you could possibly want to see about the requests being made between your machine and the internet. It basically turns you into a hacker, allowing you to check your website for security vulnerabilities and such.
Fiddler — Basically the same tool as Charles. Personal preference seems to be the main deciding factor between the two, though both can greatly increase your debugging/troubleshooting capabilities.
Flux — If you’re reading this, chances are you probably spend a ton of time on your computer. Flux is a program that turns the blue light down on your screen as the sun sets, with the hopes of mimicking the day/night cycle and helping you sleep better. Not as good as getting time away from the screen, certainly, but it’s better than nothing!

Windows Specific

ConEmu — If you are on Windows and you would like to have multiple terminal tabs, this is an easy, free solution to your tab-related woes. Never again will you have to flip back and forth through entire windows just to look at your different error messages.-
Ditto — You know when you’re trying to copy four separate answers from Stack Overflow and you have to keep switching back and forth from your browser to your IDE? Worry no more. With the Ditto clipboard manager, you can copy-paste your way to victory.
TouchCursor — Programmers of all sorts are notorious for wanting to use the mouse as little as possible. If you find yourself in that camp, then this will be right up your alley
Cmder — I am going to forego my description of this product, as I feel the description on their website is much better — “Cmder is a software package created out of pure frustration over the absence of nice console emulators on Windows. It is based on amazing software, and spiced up with the Monokai color scheme and a custom prompt layout, looking sexy from the start.” I don’t know about you, but I am a fan of any software that describes itself as “sexy”
Directory Opus — This is basically what Windows Explorer should have been from the start. Opus allows you to dig through your poorly-organized documents almost as if they were well-organized.
Zeal — With over 200 documentation sets to search through, Zeal is an offline goldmine of documentation for the developer who loves to read documentation so much that they do it even when the internet is out. (Copy-pasted from Dash in the Mac section).

Mac Specific

Paw — A competitor to both Postman and Insomnia above, Paw is a similar piece of software that feels more like a native Mac application than the others. If you love that Mac feel, this might be the API tool for you.
Dash — With over 200 documentation sets to search through, Dash is an offline goldmine of documentation for the developer who loves to read documentation so much that they do it even when the internet is out.
Bear — Not directly coding related, but a neat piece of software for taking notes if that is something you do in your day-to-day. I can’t help but wish that this would be integrated with Paw somehow, for pun-related purposes.
Magnet — Okay. Fair warning: This one costs money. If you can afford to dish up the 99 cents, however, I think it is worth it for those tough times when you don’t have access to a second monitor. This tool allows you to easily snap different windows to separate areas of your screen so you can run multiple terminals at once and tell your mom you are a hacker. (They are not paying me for this recommendation, sadly. However, if you are the creator of Magnet and you wish to pay me, please get in touch).
EDIT 2: adding new version of Bracket Pair colorizer here and to description above https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=CoenraadS.bracket-pair-colorizer-2
EDIT 3: I've had people in dms asking about more advice/tooling. I'll definitely continue to cross post anything that makes sense to here like this post. I also try to help out on https://twitter.com/marioahoyos . I am a career switcher like many people here are and I want to help as many people make the transition as I can :)
submitted by mariohoyos to learnprogramming [link] [comments]

How to watch and listen to the Raptors reseeding games (and playoffs) inside and outside Canada: here is a list of legal resources for your reference

I've noticed a lot of redditors asking about streaming options. This is in no way a definitive guide, just an amalgamation of my knowledge regarding this topic.
Disclaimer: This is a post to share legal streaming options only. Please refrain from sharing any illegal streaming options in the comments. That is a bannable offence and Mods will take action.
Before we begin:
Here is a link to the Raptors reseeding game schedule (posted by u/MilesOfPebbles)
Here is a link to the Canadian broadcast schedule (posted by u/absolutkaos)
Contents:
If you live in Canada and want to watch the games
If you live outside Canada and want to watch the games
If you are anywhere in the world and want to listen to Raptors games over the radio
If you live in Canada and want to watch the games:
You have several options here.
  1. Cable TV: TSN and Sportsnet will broadcast every single Raptors game. Every. Single. One. Even if come playoff time the broadcast schedule isn't released yet, don't worry. They will broadcast them one-hundred percent. Both will also have some other non-Raptor games on there.
    • Note that most basic cable packages do not include the channels TSN4 and Sportsnet One. These two channels are usually airing marquee match-ups exclusively so they are necessary to purchase from your cable provider. In the case of the reseeding games. Sportsnet has already announced that all its Raptors games will be exclusive to SN1. I don't believe TSN has announced channel details yet.
  2. League Pass: This is really a last resort. You cannot watch any Raptors games live on here. Additionally, if one of Sportsnet or TSN is airing a non-Raptor game, it will be blacked out on League Pass
    • Edit: as pointed out by u/whocaresidont_ (link to comment), you can't watch blacked out games live. You can, however, watch them once they've been moved to the archives a few hours after the game (source 1, source 2)
    • You can purchase access to NBA TV via your cable provider that would also include access to a League Pass at no additional cost. With Bell, it is the "NBA League Pass with NBA TV Canada" premium sports package for $99 (access from October until end of season, I assume playoffs included) or $49.50 for January to end of season access (maybe?? You have to check with them). I'm not too sure about the price or duration with Rogers.
    • There has been some discussion regarding the use of a VPN. To avoid letting too much legal mumbo-jumbo interrupt the flow, I have moved this section to the end of the post. I highly recommend reading it if a VPN is something you are considering.
  3. Sportsnet NOW gives you access to any NBA games broadcast on all Sportsnet channels (so not all of them). You get to watch the channels on a laptop or app, with a 24-hour rewind feature. Prices are $16.67/mo for 12 months, or a monthly subscription for $19.99. You can also subscribe to Sportsnet NOW+ which gives you access to more NHL content (and same NBA content as SNNOW).
  4. TSN Direct gives you access to any NBA games broadcast on all TSN channels (again, not all games). You basically get to watch the channels on a laptop or app, no rewind feature. Prices are $4.99/day, $19.99/mo, or $99.95/6mo.
For comparison's sake, I have cable TV with Bell Fibe TV Fibe Alt TV (see edit below for more info). For $29.95/mo, I get access to TSN1, TSN2, TSN3, TSN4, TSN5, SN Ontario, East, Pacific, West and SN1. I can watch all Raptors games as well as some other non-Raptor marquee match-ups. I also have a play/pause option as well as a 1.5-hour rewind (only for the active channel). I don't have PVR cause I watch live, but I believe there's a PVR add-on available.
Edit: I also forgot to mention that with Fibe TV, I can watch on my TV, phone, iPad or laptop (web browser). And up to 2 simultaneous devices can be streaming at the same time.
Edit: To answer a couple of the questions I've been getting, I checked and turns out I have Fibe Alt TV premium. It's a TV service available as a bundle with certain Fibe Internet packages from Bell. It's much cheaper than going with the regular Fibe TV, but ultimately, you pay more because you're bundling with Internet. Also, shoutout to u/BowlbasaurKiefachu (link to comment), who used to work with Bell and has some referrals.
If you live outside Canada and want to watch the games:
Your best bet in terms of value and price would be the NBA League Pass. You have several options there. You can buy a pass that allows you to watch every single game for every single team (including playoffs); you can buy a one-team pass; you can buy single games...
Note #1: This is a blanket statement. Make sure to see what is available in your country/region and compare prices before you commit to the League Pass. Use the NBA International Broadcast Information website to find the broadcast schedule in your country/region of residence (this website does not include broadcast details regarding the scrimmage games). Beware because it is not completely up to date (some games might be missing).
Note #2: This might not apply in the US. I don't have any concrete information regarding this, but I would imagine that they blackout games too, especially the ones that are on national TV. I believe there might be other options such as cable TV, Hulu Live Sports, and YouTube TV. I don't have too much information about blackouts and the such with those services so please do your research before committing to any option.
If you are anywhere in the world and want to listen to Raptors games over the radio:
Games will be broadcast on one of three radio stations: TSN 1050, SN 590 The FAN, or 680 News. You can listen using your web browser (laptop or phone) by following the links in the previous sentence. Listening will cost you cellular data/wi-fi but the station itself is free. There will most probably be a short ad the first time you press play.
Alternatively, you can download the TuneIn Radio application on the App Store or Google Play Store and listen for free. This will also use cellular data/wi-fi. There are ads, but you can subscribe to remove them.
Note that both these options will have several seconds of delay, and are not free from interruptions (except maybe if you subscribe to TuneIn). Just so you mind your score notifications from other apps.
If you reside in the GTA, you can listen to those stations using your AM car radio or portable radio player (the AM frequency is in the title).
And there you go. This covers everything I know about this. Hopefully answers all your questions about how to watch or listen to Raptors games.

LET'S GO RAPTORS!!!!!

As promised: the legal mumbo-jumbo. Please note that I am not a lawyer nor a law student. This is simply what an internet search turned up.
Regarding the use of a VPN to access all games with an NBA League Pass in Canada:
  1. Generally speaking, it is legal to use a VPN in Canada to protect online transactions. However, when it comes to accessing geo-blocked media, it is more of a grey area (you can read more here). Suffice it to say that:
    • There is currently no legal precedent for the persecution of an individual because s/he used a VPN to circumnavigate a geo-block. However, "Although VPNs are legal, what someone uses them for could lead them to illegal activities and jail time" (source). The likelihood of this happening is probably extremely low, but still... something to be aware of.
    • It is against the NBA League Pass Terms of Use to utilize a VPN to access geo-blocked content: "You may not attempt to circumvent technological measures employed to control access to, or the rights in, the Service, whether in conjunction with or through use of any device, software program, service or otherwise".
    • The NBA has a right to revoke your League Pass if they have evidence that you broke the Terms of Use: "upon your failure to comply with any of the terms or conditions in this Subscriber Agreement, We shall have the right to terminate your access to the Service and this Agreement immediately".
    • The NBA has been using VPN blockers (albeit with limited success) that will prevent you from using League Pass while you are connected to a VPN (source)
Edit: sentence structure and formatting
Edit 2: extra details re Bell Fibe TV (see in-text)
Edit 3: clarified details re League Pass in Canada (see in-text)
Edit 4: more details re Bell Fibe Alt TV (see in-text)
submitted by unknown_xe to torontoraptors [link] [comments]

How the hell is one supposed to choose a career? Related: Please help me choose a career.

Hello, SSC. I am using a throwaway.
This is a beast of a post. A few thoughts related to its size:
  1. Sorry
  2. Please don't read the whole thing; it's skimmable.
  3. TL;DR – lawyer, doctor, psych researcher, or (jokingly, unless…) novelist?
To make a long story short, I'm an unhappy software engineer (unhappy with my career, not with life in general), and I committed about a year ago to making a change. Since that time, I've vacillated wildly in my thinking on the various career options available (never able to fully commit), and at this point it's causing me a ton of anxiety: I've gotta choose something, but there just doesn't seem to be a clear answer. My family and partner are running out of patience, and I feel the same way: It's time to get a move on, already.
"Getting a move on" is super fucking hard, though (not to mention terrifying, given the stakes). How are you supposed to compare, on the one hand, cognitive fit (i.e. being good at your job) with, on the other hand, likelihood of being able to pursue your own lines of inquiry or expression (i.e. not feeling like a cog)? Where does money fit into all of this?
The sheer number of different paradigms for career choice seems to be evidence that nobody else really has a clear idea either:
"Do what you love."
"Do what you like the most out of medicine, law, finance, and engineering."
"Work sucks: Make money and retire."
"Working for someone else sucks: Start a business or be your own boss."
Then there are the more complicated ones, like Ikagi, or the Waitbutwhy octopus, or 80,000 Hours' five-star system.
Every different paradigm comes up with a different answer, and the same paradigm often comes up with different answers depending on things that seem like they should not be able to shift paradigms, like what mood I happen to be in at the moment.
I do have some concrete things to work with, namely that I think I've been able to pinpoint why I don't like software engineering. Three main reasons:
1 - Lack of Cognitive Fit:
On pretty much every sort of standardized test thrown at me, there will invariably be a huge imbalance between subscores (verbal = higher, math = lower), with further cleavage between the mathematics subscores (numeric = higher, spatial = lower). This comports with my general "feeling" about these things: Reading and writing are easy and enjoyable; statistics is doable and tolerable; spatial math is difficult and unpleasant.
This has manifested itself in difficulties with software engineering, which is, after all, concerned with how best to build complicated, invisible structures. My in-the-major grades in school were mediocre at best (they were high outside of my major); my work performance is middling. The overall feeling of working in software engineering is that of wading through cerebral molasses, and at no time is this feeling more acute than when I'm working with other computer people: They just get it, and I just don't get it. With all due respect to grit, conscientiousness, growth mindset, etc., I often feel like I am simply running up against the limits of my mental machinery. All fine if it's worth the fight, but...
2 - Lack of Subject-Matter Interest
CS as an academic discipline is interesting enough, but it's never "grabbed me" in the way that some other academic disciplines have. I've never found my mind wandering towards topics in CS in the same way that it often wanders towards topics in, e.g., biology, psychology, economics, literature. I would never read a book on software engineering or computer science for fun.
Why the hell did you major in it, then, you stupid, dumb idiot?
I wish I had a better answer, but it was some combination of peer pressure (the cool, ambitious kids were ALL majoring in CS in 2011 (that may still be the case now, IDK)) and a desire to be employable.
3 - Lack of Workplace Autonomy
A product manager tells you to build the thing, so you build the thing. You (sometimes) get to choose how you build the thing, but if you don't have any underlying interest in how the thing is built, the whole experience just feels like drudgery.

_________

With all that in mind, I was able to build a pretty complicated paradigm that would take an entire post by itself to explain but basically boiled down to the following: Emphasize cognitive fit, subject-matter interest, workplace autonomy, and ability to do good, while trying as best you can to hold onto some of the positive features of software engineering (tons of stability, quite good pay, not-terrible working hours).
That got me down to four main possibilities. For the sake of simplifying the discussion, let's say that remaining a software engineer isn't an option. Here they are:
Law (JD):
On the one hand:
- Super high points for cognitive fit. Rules governing human behavior mediated entirely through the English language? Lots of reading and writing? Beautiful; give me more.
- The potential (if done in a certain way) to feel like you’re “fighting for the good guys.”
- For better or worse, I “vibe” with lawyers. Even the greedy ones tend to be "words people," because “money-driven” + “good with words, sucks at math” tends to equal “lawyer." I've never met, for example, another group of people who like crossword puzzles as much as I do.
On the other hand:
- Nearly every lawyer I’ve talked to says it’s straight-up difficult to get a job where you fight for the good guys and much easier to get a job where you’re fighting for the “neutral-at-best” guys.
- At the end of the day, I’m more interested in the law and less interested in being a practicing lawyer, mostly because of the same autonomy problem in software engineering: A higher-up tells you to do the thing, so you do the thing. In an ideal world, you solve the autonomy problem by, say, working at a think tank or in academia. But I’ve gotten that beaten out of my head by the chorus of voices saying, “Don’t go to law school if you don’t want to practice.”
- Long hours and a culture of overwork lead to high stress. Varies between firms (and between firms and government), but a work-hard-play-hard culture seem to pervade the profession, and, to put it bluntly, most of the lawyers I know seem pretty fucking stressed.
- When I tell lawyers that I’m considering law school, many of them say, “Don’t do it.” People in other fields don’t say that when I tell them I’m considering their field.

Medicine (MD) or Research Medicine (MD/PhD):
On the one hand:
- High level of interest in the subject material. I self-studied AP Bio back in the day by reading the textbook cover-to-cover. When I’m reading nonfiction for fun, there’s a pretty good chance it’s bio or medicine-related. To this day, I don’t really know why I didn’t study it in college. Network effects, probably.
- I could see myself being interested in practicing psychiatry, endocrinology, sleep medicine—any field where the emphasis is more “This strange concoction of chemicals makes you feel a certain way!” than it is “The machine that synthesizes urine broke down again.”
- I put “MD/PhD” because I find the idea of being a physician-scientist more appealing than one or the other. Being able to treat actual real people and then retreating to the lab to do solitary mind work really does sound like the best of both worlds. Either way, though, the process would start with a postbacc, so I guess technically I don’t have to decide yet.
- I did a thing where I downloaded the SSC dataset and looked at all the different careers, and doctors had the highest levels of life satisfaction out of anyone (for whom I could find a coherent career field in the spreadsheet). This held even when they were in school and residency (i.e. couldn’t be entirely explained by income (although it could, I suppose, be explained by “income or the expectation of future income”)). Two main ways I can think of to explain this: 1. Being a doctor is (relatively) fulfilling and makes people happy. 2. Becoming a doctor is so difficult that only (relatively) happy and well-balanced people are able to complete the process. This might sound naïve, but my honest bet is number one. In what other profession do you get paid SO MUCH MONEY to work so intimately with other people? So many high-enjoyability, low-pay professions (teaching, social work, etc.) are basically about taking a pay cuts so that you can work closely with other people. And in medicine you don’t have to take the pay cut.
On the other hand:
- Maybe there are doctors reading this and thinking, “You naïve little twerp; do you know how hard you have to work and how good you have to be to do what you’re talking about doing? Genetic research? Neuroscience? Start honing your colonoscopy skills, bucko, because you’re going to have to pay off your loans just like the rest of us.”
- On a related note, I know a lot of lawyers but no doctors, so I have heavy doses of “realism” from the law side, but not the medicine side.
- Med school, from what I understand, is the most demanding of the professional schools. I honestly can’t say for sure that I’d be able to get through it.
- While I like reading popular books about medicine, I don't really get off on academic papers about medicine. Maybe it’s just because I don’t know the lingo yet, or maybe it’s a warning sign that my interest in the field is going to turn out to be superficial.
- It would take a long time. Between postbacc, med school, (maybe) PhD, and residency, I’m looking at another decade before I make money again. Which is fine if I enjoy the process like I think I will. But if I don’t enjoy the process, it’s going to be a long ten years.
- Less reading and writing than I’d like, although that’s partially mitigated by doing an MD/PhD rather than just a PhD. I just really want a job where I get to read and write on the daily and the quality of the writing matters a good deal. “Just do that outside of your job!” Yeah, but in practice it’s hard.

Academia (PhD in Psychology):
On the one hand:
- I like sitting down at a desk, reading about things, thinking about things, doing what it takes to get the answer to something that’s been nagging at me, and then writing about the process of finding that answer. The fundamental idea that I could get paid to do something like that is still mindblowing to me.
- Checks ALL of the boxes that bugged me about software engineering: You have a degree of autonomy, and you presumably get to work in a field that you’re interested in and that you’re a good cognitive fit for. Law stumbles a bit in the autonomy department. Medicine stumbles a bit in the cognitive fit department. This baby don’t stumble.
- To test my enthusiasm for academia, I read as many research papers as I could get my hands on from as many different fields as I could get my hands on. The result? I enjoy reading research papers. I could see myself writing them. This is a good thing, as I understand it, for a career in academia.
- In terms of which disciplines “won” (greatest level of interest), three were head and shoulders above the rest: Psych, soc, and econ. I talked to some econ PhDs, and I honestly don’t think I have the mathematical acumen for it. Between (cognitive) psych and soc, neither of them has great career prospects, so it’s a wash there, and I’m slightly more interested in psych, so I might as well just do psych.
On the other hand:
- Due to mediocre undergraduate GPA and lack of research, I’ll probably have to do a masters or a postbacc first (time and $$)
- You gotta always be scrapping for grants and funding. Nobody likes scrapping.
- For better or worse, there is a distinct “good” outcome (tenure) that I might not achieve. I know that this is a really contentious topic, and I don’t mean to get anybody riled here, but yeah: I’m gonna be gunning really hard for the outcome that allows me to teach, do research, get paid well, and be difficult to fire. And I might not get it. And that’s extremely worrisome to me. “Making it” in academia, if you have the basic chops, is probably not as unlikely or fluky as, say, making it as an actor. But it’s still unlikely (depending on your field) and still fluky! You could get an advisor you end up not gelling with, and then you’re fucked. You could pursue a line of research that nobody really cares about, and then you’re fucked. (This is what people have told me, anyway). That’s all super scary to me, and it’s definitely an argument in favor of law or medicine, which have more of a “get the degree and collect your job” feel to them.
- Arduousness: Everyone says that it’s difficult and demanding and stressful and that you have to make sacrifices. I believe them. And, while I think I’m willing to make those sacrifices, it’s one matter to say that you’re willing and another matter to actually not drop out of the program when you really feel like dropping out.
- Covid-19 is currently in the process of upending higher education. It might be fine! But the next few years are a bit of an event horizon: We don’t really know what things are going to look like on the other side. In other words, more risk.

Writing (MFA):
On the one hand:
- A cool “wild card.”
- In the “You find out you have 5 years to live, what do you do?” thought experiment, I get an MFA and write a novel every time. Writing creatively is an activity that both hits a ton of neurons AND is somehow infused with meaning for me.
- It’d be super fun.
On the other hand:
- Risk. Risk, risk, risk, risk, risk. Follow your dreams, they say. But what if my dream was to be a professional basketball player in the NBA? Should I follow that dream? To put it another way: I know that I’m a good writer, but it seems like you enter the realm of “luck not optional” when you’re seriously trying to make a living by writing books. I ballparked my odds of eventual success (defined as “I get to write without doing anything else on the side”) at 25% if I get into a top MFA program (which I probably won't anyway). That number is already scarily low to me, and it may well be generous.
- My past is littered with the carcasses of unfinished novels. I’ve managed to finish short stories, and I’ve managed to finish screenplays. The novel is the white whale. I think I could do it from within the structure of an MFA program, but who knows?
- If I don’t “make it” straight out of the MFA program, I’ll have to go back to doing something pay the bills, and that something will probably be software engineering. And then I’m back where I started: Doing software engineering for money while writing on the side. If I end up just “Doing X and writing on the side,” then I would have been better off spending my grad school golden ticket getting up to speed in an X—law, medicine, psychology—that I enjoy more than software engineering.
Where I'm at right now:
Trapped in a terrible cycle, pretty much. It goes like this:
I choose medicine, and a voice goes, “Really? Once again subjecting yourself to a career where reading and writing artfully isn’t really an integral part of the process? Doing ‘science,’ which we suspect you might not be great at doing? You should do law instead, where your mental machinery seems more suited to the process and the people seem more like ‘your people.’”
So I choose law, and a voice goes, “Really? Once again committing to a dynamic where you show up to the office and a superior throws a bunch of work at you and you do the work and go home without having pursued your own lines of inquiry or advanced human knowledge?” “I’ll be a professor,” I say. “No, you really won’t,” the voice says. “Think of all the unhappy lawyers who said they were going to be a professor or go into human rights or whatever. If you want to do research, you should get a PhD instead.”
So I choose a PhD (in psychology or sociology), and a voice goes, “Really? A non-econ social science given the state of academia right now? Do you really think there’s a nice tenure-track job waiting for you on the other side of this? If you’re gunning for the risky thing you might as well go all the way and do an MFA.”
So I choose an MFA, and a voice goes, “Really? And have to go back to software engineering in two years when you write a book and nobody gives a shit? Why subject yourself to that? If you’re going to write on the side, just be a doctor: It’s better than software engineering in terms of subject-matter interest and humanistic elements, but it offers similar stability and predictability.”
Then we’re back at doctor, and the cycle begins anew.
Since I listed pretty much every career option out there, I feel compelled to address some of the few that I left off my list.
FIRE: Just gut it out for ten more years and then retire! But the thing is, I like working—I like sitting at a desk, reading, writing, doing stuff—and I can think of nothing more enjoyable than embarking on one of the career paths that I listed above. So all I would get by FIRE-ing is more financial stability when I finally pursue one of them. WHICH AIN’T NOTHING. Believe me, I know. But I don’t think it’s worth the tradeoff of being miserable for another 10 years and starting round two close to age 40.
Become a Product Manager (PM): Okay, so you don’t like making pie. How about you supervise the people that make pie; wouldn’t that be more fun?
No, I just fucking hate pie.
***Further Wrinkles:***I applied to law school last cycle and got into a school just outside of the T14. Still on the waitlist for pretty much all of the T14 except HYS. I am what the kids call a “splitter” (high LSAT, low GPA), so I don’t have any expectations of getting into HYS, and if I do get into CCN it will probably be because Coronavirus fucks everything up and they have to let a bunch of people off the waitlist.
If I decide to not do law school this year (either because I decide to do something else or I decide that I can’t commit when I’m this unsure about things), I will be giving up something in-hand that I might not be able to get back. Which is scary.
A Final Miscellaneous Thingy:
Since I haven’t actually DONE any of this stuff yet, it would be cool if there were some sort of way to dip my toes into two of the options and see which I like better (the proof, as they say, is in the pudding). Something like a premed postbacc program that would allow you to volunteer in a psych or neuroscience lab. I don’t know if that’s a thing, though. Or maybe it is, but by doing it you just make yourself a weak candidate for BOTH med school and psych PhD programs.
Okay. Phew. If you’re still here, first of all, thank you, and second of all, sorry. Thoughts? Feel free to be super discouraging, too. “I’m a doctor, and every vibe you’re putting out says, ‘flunks out of med school.’” That’s information! That’s helpful!
Thank you again. God bless you, SSC.
Edit: Thank you all so much for your kind and thoughtful answers! Tapping out of the thread for a bit while I go eat and do work and that kinda stuff. Gonna look at and respond to all of these, though; I've just been kinda responding in a random order, but I'll get to 'em.
submitted by throe_aweigh_ to slatestarcodex [link] [comments]

A step-by-step guide of how I would build a SaaS company right now - part 3

Part 1 Part 2 Part 2.5
I was shooting for every week, but that proved harder than anticipated, I'll try to wrap this up in the next few weeks though.
This is part 3 of 5.
  1. Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay - Part 1)
  2. Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility - Part 2)
2.5 - Process, process, process - Start one, refine it, continually improve it - Part 2.5
  1. Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
  2. Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good)
  3. Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)
Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
What exactly does this mean?
All platforms that you integrate with usually do one or two things really really well, then there are features they have to have in order to connect the dots, arguably though, these features don’t get a lot of love and well, they are MVPs in the traditional sense. This is what we’re looking for. This is the sweet spot.
Side notes: This was actually just exposed with the latest Microsoft 365 update which is taking the Notion approach to collaboration - I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Google do something similar to this in the very near future.
Zoom built an entire business on this, video conferencing wasn’t new but the ease of getting started without an account or software to download combined with free time allowances made them a massive success. They also integrated very quickly with partner tools like slack.
This usually comes in a few flavors - something that checks a box and something that just wasn’t thought out workflow wise. Slack did this to both google and microsoft quite successfully.
If at any time microsoft or google wanted to compete they could have during the last 7 years it’s been a known entity, in fact it took a solid 5 before microsoft even hinted at teams. Slack gets to play nice with everyone while microsoft and google have the tough time of wanting to keep everyone in their ecosystem. It’s a tough call for them to allow outside access.
Because these companies don’t focus on these things as much as other parts of their platforms, room for improvements will start to crop up quickly. Remember that list of customers using competitors, it’s time to talk to some of them.
You can only accomplish the above if you have an established approach for your internal workings - aka alignment across the organization.
The road map process will differ based on your individual products, so instead of the products we’re going to focus on a repeatable framework that you can adapt.
Understanding how your product fits into a workflow.
Partners aren’t just tech partners, partners are often your first few clients. Pay attention to their workflows and how you can add value and become integral to their success.
Product development - the internal fight between engineers, product managers, sales, executives, and everyone else. Oh and customers, they’ll always tell you how you can make things better - it would be a modern day miracle if we listened to them more often.
Product, like marketing, is something everyone has an opinion about.
We’re going to go over how you should position your product in the market. Specifically how your solution impacts the workflow of your potential customers. When we change our approach from what features our product has and move the conversation to how our product improves, adds data, or simplifies a clients workflow success follows.
True innovation comes from understanding that all companies are looking for more data, recommendations, and automation. Hint: all these lead to reduced resources and increased revenue.
You want to know how bad this really is? Just look at common things we deal with, phone trees, spam emails, even how people organize their inbox or don’t.
Inefficiency is really all around you, when you put a magnifying glass up to it.
Sidenote here - if you ever find yourself looking for a problem or trying to better understand a workflow, write down every step you take for an entire day while working with a program. You’d be amazed by all the little things that you do and the massive room for improvement.
What is a product?
Let’s take a step back and look at the different kind of products that exist generally -
  1. Add on
  2. Stand alone
  3. Platform
  4. Suite
We’ll take these one at a time with this framework -
What are they?
Why do they exist?
Is it right for me?
What is the workflow play?
Add On
What is an add on?
An add on, plugin, app, etc they go by many names is essentially a piece of software built on top of another piece of software. It relies on the backbone of another service to deliver value. Usually using the platform’s API or existing architecture.
The program or software exists within the ecosystem of another product.
Why do they exist?
The companies that allow add-ons are “Platforms” they have a core that they maintain and spend time developing communities to build on their flexible architecture. If we were doing a timeline of how most companies grow it usually goes:
Addon / Stand Alone → Platform → Suite
We see this more and more as the sheer quantity of software options has increased.
Is it right for me?
I’d say in 2020 it should play a large role in your initial launch and outreach. There are millions of people using existing platforms to create lots of things, for B2B it’s really easy to build targeted lists of clients of those that are using these platforms. Small purpose built apps that solve for very real problems are all around us and a lot of the small ones serve very specific purposes with built in use cases. They require people to be niche by default.
Remember the zoom example from above - remove friction and you can win market share.
Literally, everyone has an add on these days. Usually a small part of their larger product.
They also make for a great marketing play as well, they are relatively simple to build, especially in the case of something like a chrome extension and allow a company to rapidly test new features and release them in small parts to existing customers to gauge interest.
What is the workflow play?
For most B2B software outside of software that is used to run the business daily, getting users to continually find value in it can be difficult. For a lot of it, it’s set it and forget it. Add-ons allow you to better incorporate your product into the customer’s workflow.
If you’re looking to improve a workflow for an existing internal process, at the very least an add on is a great way to embed your product where your customers are spending time.
Big takeaway: When you build on top of an existing platform, you get clout, you can align yourself with that platform to plan development around features that benefit the users of that platform.
It’s much easier to say I build [something specific] for people that use [plugin or CMS framework] built on top of [platform].
To be less abstract…
I build background effects packages for people using Elementor built on top of Wordpress.
Broken down - We’re now looking for people using Elementor on wordpress that are looking for background effects to add a little extra to their website.
It’s all about narrowing down who your champion partners will be - those that find the most value in these things.
We’re always looking for our advantage and positioning ourselves to grow - we do this by targeting areas that need a little more attention or things that are currently cumbersome but need a little more love.
Stand Alone
What is a stand alone product?
A stand alone product is one that provides a singular function with limited integrations that allows users to create and manage a workflow or a process from within the application.
Something like a Help Desk is a good example of a stand alone product.
These are purpose built products that don’t require any other integrations to provide value.
Why do they exist?
This is what most people think of when they say they are building a SaaS company. They are building something that solves a specific problem for other companies. Most companies fall under this category, nearly all start in this category.
Most companies also stop at this point, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Build something solid and purpose built that provides value, then expand via add ons to cater to different existing platforms and you’ve got a solid business model.
Is it right for me?
It should be, it’s pretty much required most of the time. Your app should be able to function on it’s own to provide value. Does it have to be, no. There are plenty of businesses that stay just as add ons built on top of large platforms like Salesforce.
This is a call you’re going to have to make for yourself, however these are definitely the predominant leaders.
What is the workflow play?
How does your app work with an existing business workflow? This is really the question. If you’re a stand alone app, do you work for everyone in a business? A team?
Most of the time, a product focuses on an internal team that requires them as part of their workflow. There are different entry points within a team as well.
Are you targeting executives? Directors? Managers? Lower level staff?
How your product works with each of those levels will be different because the expectations and needs of customers at these levels are all different.
Remember, you’re not selling into a company, you’re selling into a role at the company.
When we start thinking about partners as some of your first few clients, really what we’re looking for is a group of true believers that see promise in what we’re creating.
This promise has to work towards providing them more data (less guessing), make decision making easier (more clarity), and lead towards automation (no one likes doing the same things over and over).
Big takeaway -
When you’re a stand alone product you have to nail workflow. The UX/UI has to be intuitive, easy to pickup and easier to get a team behind. It just has to work. Not only that it should have a feature that is 10x better than the competition.
If you don’t have a 10x feature, it’s time to take a closer look at the workflow because it’s obviously you’re missing something.
Remember to start with data collection, move to recommendations based on the data collection, and finish with automating a task over time based on the workflow.
Platform
What is a platform product?
A product that allows people to build on top of it, Shopify, Wordpress, Slack, Salesforce (not the other parts of the suite) these are all examples of a platform product.
They started as stand alone products but then opened up their ecosystem to allow people to build on top of them.
If you have a passionate tech forward audience and customer base this is a great position to head towards, typically this moves you from being SaaS to almost a PaaS play where you charge for the ability for people to build on top of you.
These guys are also heavy weights, getting a company to move away from one of them is next to impossible. There’s just a lot of friction that goes into it. I’ve watched this from the front lines numerous times, in most cases, the effort needed to move from one platform to another isn’t worth it in the short term.
It adds complexity to an existing workflow and is immediately met with pushback the farther down the process it goes.
Why do they exist?
They exist to enable people to have a platform to build on top of - they also exist to give new companies a really focused way to find their target market.
The platform is the stepping stone towards a larger land grab towards a full suite of products. You can start to see this happening with some of the larger players as their market share for a specific focus moves them to expand into a full suite of products.
Hubspot, Salesforce, Hubspot, etc. they have all moved towards the suite play. But they all graduated from stand alone to platform to suite - it’s incredibly rare to see someone go after a platform or suite play from the start.
The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Slack going platform very soon after starting to roll out.
Is it right for me?
Depends. Platforms for two sided marketplaces seem to be the only reason that you would want to be a platform or if you built a new product from scratch. It’s ambitious, but let’s face it, there are tons of opportunities that still remain in this sector.
I think we’re just starting the process of enabling marketplaces through technology, I’d love one marketplace to search them all.
Want a good example - second hand marketplaces - no two descriptions are the same. Which makes things a nightmare to search - I’m looking at you ebay.
If I was looking for something used, I might even pay a one time fee to know the trending price, the frequency of the items posted with the preferred specs I’m looking for etc. The used market is ripe for disruption.
Imagine you were looking for a certain color combination for a used vehicle and you wanted to search across all marketplaces to find the color combo and also get data on how often one of those comes up for purchase - I think you can see where data aggregation, recommendations, and an automated process would make things easier.
Sidenote on this example - some credit unions will actually pay someone to search for your car - there’s a built in marketplace for this HUMAN driven activity already.
What is the workflow play?
To the workflow - look at complicated steps that involve multiple pieces of software where no one is doing an amazing job and you might be onto something.
There was a move back in the day to get everything in one place, then APIs happened and now you can connect just about all the tools together. There are companies that specifically focus on niche workflows though, they take longer to get started and don’t always go the platform route - you need a lot of users to make this viable - but they do exist.
So back to this workflow - look at the number of tools, their age, their representative structure - back to the car example go try doing a search for a used car on Hertz.com - actually do a search on any car site - it sucks.
Imagine combining more natural language search like Algolia to that experience - I’m betting someone could build a better data heavy engine to tackle that beast.
With anything though - clean data in makes it easier to create searches, but making sure that data is clean is tough.
So the workflow is built around two sides for a platform - how the customer - in this case the business can use the software to provide better service to the end customer. What is the internal workflow most often done that requires the most amount of human effort? Focus on simplifying that - does your software streamline this - if yes you’re on the way to becoming a platform that others would be willing to build upon all you have to do is keep the architecture up to date to handle the increased load.
Big Takeaway -
You won’t start this way, or you might not start this way, but if you do, the workflow and ease of creation is going to be the one thing that wins out, focus entirely on UX/UI and create something that is quicker, easier, better than what other people have and you’ll find success.
Platforms however are great places to look for partners. They are usually always open to partners that help expand or can introduce people to their offerings.
Suite
What is a suite product?
The granddaddy of all software plays where you build/acquire/grow individual parts of a business to integrate natively and own the entire experience in your own controlled walled garden.
G Suite, Microsoft, Salesforce, etc.
These guys buy smaller platforms and stand alone products and integrate them. Or they just build their own.
Why do they exist?
With single products like standalone and platforms eventually you run out of rapid market expansion, the quickest way to increase revenue is to sell additional products to your existing customers. It’s also a lot cheaper.
Cross selling and upselling are the leading drivers of increased revenue once you have product market fit. Add on services like advanced reporting, automation, or additional features can often unlock better functionality of existing products.
A suite makes it easy to cross sell and upsell, it goes beyond MVPs in certain areas and actually builds tools that are full fledged and integrate seamlessly and more deeply than someone building an integration from outside the system.
Is it right for me?
Never say never, but not likely. It’s aspirational but financially often doesn’t make a lot of sense. In the startup world of today, where growth is at a premium, I would never suggest any of my clients have this as an immediate goal. You need a bank account that is deeper than deep and you’re competing against incumbents that have warchests to outspend you at every turn.
The only company I can think of that has dented some of this is NextCloud. But their path to doing it was going open source and playing hard on the privacy angle pitting themselves as a google docs alternative.
What is the workflow play?
A place where you can do everything in one space. This is actually the holy grail, but it’s also the reason I’m writing this right now in a google doc before cutting and pasting it over to reddit.
Even though there are lots of options with new ones coming out daily, once you’re in an ecosystem, going outside of it usually leads to reduced efficiency. When tools are built to work together, a magical thing happens, you don’t want to try other things.
Don’t get me wrong, there are tools for literally everything out there.
But as a go to list of tools that I use everyday -
Google docs
Gmail
Trello
Slack
Most everything else is use to setup then just monitor - which is fine for normal business things, but when you strip back and look at your core of active software that you use daily there’s a 99% chance that it falls into an ecosystem and you’d likely move to a system if they offered a competitor - Microsoft Teams comes to mind.
Slack is great, don’t get me wrong, but I already pay for storage for my Google Account and it’s really really cheap on a business plan to upgrade to unlimited storage - I’m also willing to bet Google could do a better job of searching through a Slack like interface to also suggest items from other places. It’s not an if, it’s a when.
Take Away
Suites sometimes are just a combination of tools that people offer, usually parts of a platform that are built on one another - when you’re going after market share you always want to think of a core product then build things that compliment it.
The answer is not to build them all upfront, but to build them over time.
Remember again - data, recommendations, then automation.
If you have a roadmap make sure that it’s headed in this direction - it’s amazing how many companies don’t emphasize data collection and reporting early on.
This is how you build trust with an audience - show them what’s working and what’s not and make it easy to grab insights.
What does all this mean for our topic?
Today, right now in 2020, I’d focus initially on an add-on or standalone product play.
Pick a strong partner or integration in the space - find a way to compliment what they offer that will help them earn more clients or make more money. If your product can do that, a larger company will jump at the opportunity to help you out.
Trust, I know this from partnering with the big ones in consumer - Amazon, Google, Apple etc. if your product plays into or assists in their narrative there is almost always a co-marketing deal to be struck. The only caveat is you have to ensure that there is no direct conflict with the main partner. If something isn’t part of their core business you’ll be ok for a while.
In B2B this becomes even easier - everyone is looking for growth - know how the companies measure growth - hint for certain sectors it’s adding data either quantity or amount. They get paid more the more they manage or the more records.
If you can help their platforms grow you’ll win.
Your product should make your partners look great. Figure out things that can add more value or unlock more data within your partners. Most all of them allow for you to sync and move data in, use this to your advantage.
submitted by lickitysplitstyle to startups [link] [comments]

7 Best Social Media Marketing Tools 2020

Finding the right Social Media Marketing tools is a challenge. You end up learning the ins and outs of each tool before realising it isn’t working as you expected. Somehow it’s costing you more time and money than it’s saving! Trust me, I’ve been there. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the 7 best paid social media marketing tools I use on a daily basis.
Posting on social media and creating ads is one of the most time-consuming things in the beginning stages of running a social media marketing agency. Let’s put aside running the actual business for a second. You need to do the dirty work to get ahead, at least in the beginning, and that can often take up hours upon hours of your day. Then you can finally focus on the business admin, your own branding and marketing, and everything else.
I bet you’d much rather spend more time on growing your business and creating a rock solid brand! With the right tools, you can. You can become a super-efficient social media manager with plenty of time to catch up on the important stuff.
There’s a whole host of tools, apps and software developed specifically to make your life as a social media agency owner easier. I haven’t tried and tested them all, but I’ve tried and tested a lot.Here are my top picks for social media tools in 2020 that I use on a daily basis.
  1. Grammarly.
At the number 1 spot we have quite possibly the best social media marketing tools there is. No matter what field you’re in, grammatically correct writing is important, and that’s especially true for social media. You don’t want to be that person who makes a social media blunder!
Grammarly is the go-to tool for quality control when it comes to writing your posts or ads. The cost of making a spelling mistake or a grammatical error on a social media post or ad can indeed range from total embarrassment to completely destroying a brand’s reputation, or both.
If you’re the dedicated account manager for multiple social media accounts, then you’ll be writing a lot, and you may have found yourself accidentally making silly grammatical errors from time to time. We all do it, it’s human, but they can end up having some pretty dire consequences.
Get Grammarly to ensure it never happens again. Take human error out of the equation. You’ll never have to worry about making a spelling mistake, you just have to open up Grammarly and write it there. Grammarly conveniently offers a mobile app, a desktop app, a browser app and a Chrome extension!
Main Features:
Cons:
Pricing:
  1. Flick.
Flick is hands down the best hashtag generator app around, and it’s available on both mobile and desktop. It’s a true game changer. Not only does it save you plenty of time choosing the perfect hashtags for your post, it is also a one-stop-shop for Instagram analytics. If you’re looking for an app that’ll make your life easier, look no further. Flick to the rescue!There are many free hashtag generators out there – I can certainly think of a few off the top of my head. But the old adage “you get what you pay for” really rings true here. Flick allows you to generate 30 relevant hashtags (the Instagram limit) and copy them with the click of a button.Gone are the times where you unwillingly look at your phone trying to think of 30 new hashtags. This is the ultimate tool for obliterating the painstaking process of finding hashtags, and also offers some pretty cool resources as well as a sleek analytics interface inside, so you know how your hashtags are performing.
Best For:
Brand manager, viral page owner, social media manager, creator or influencer. Whatever you’re doing with your life, social media hashtags is the last thing you want to be spending your time doing. Focus on what matters. Seriously. Let Flick do the hashtag generating for you.
Main Features:
Cons:
Pricing:
This app offers 4 pricing plans all of which are billed monthly. It also offers an enticing free trial so you get to try before you buy.
  1. AdSpy.
Take the guesswork out of creating the perfect Facebook or Instagram ad. Use AdSpy to learn from your competitors ads, evaluate their performance based on the important metrics that AdSpy provides, and see what advertisers are doing when it comes to designing ad creative and writing sales-worthy text copy for social media.
AdSpy allows you to browse through a large database of social media ad archives and to see all of the high-performing social media ads in your niche. With their comprehensive search filter, you can search using a host of filters to get the nitty gritty details on current and past ads in just about any niche, and in any country! Take a look at the search queries you can choose from below.
This fantastic tool can be used for competitor analysis, for coming up with ideas, and for making sure you’re not wasting time writing an ad that will underperform. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, see what works and change it to suit your business. Why spend hours upon hours thinking of the perfect ad copy and the perfect video, image or design when you can easily become a social media advertising mogul at the click of a button?
Best For:
AdSpy is a must-have for absolutely anyone running Facebook or Instagram ads. When it comes to social media competitor analysis tools, there are few and far between. And those that are available are no match compared with AdSpy. It’s up to you as an entrepreneur to take advantage of the data that’s available, and take your advertising game to the next level. AdSpy helps you do just that.
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  1. PromoRepublic.
An all-in-one social media management tool. PromoRepublic have developed a neat piece of software that makes managing social media accounts easy. If you’re at the stage where you’re looking to scale your social media marketing agency but you need more time on your hands to do so, then PromoRepublic has got you covered. Here’s what Marilyn Heywood Page, VP of Marketing at Inciting Marketing had to say about the product:
“The back-and-forth process, when talking about a dozen different clients drove us insane. Marketing management seemed like a relentless end-to-end routine — clunky, complicated, and circular. For a single client, PromoRepublic has saved us at least two hours a week, which were previously spent on alternating processes.”
And I could not agree more. Simplifying the communication within your own agency is a surefire way to become a more efficient and cost-effective agency, and to grow. PromoRepublic will save you so much time so you can focus on priorities.
Best For:
PromoRepublic is a great bit of kit if you’re running a business or working as a freelancer. It is suitable for all small businesses and of course, social media marketing agencies especially. PromoRepublic also states on its website that multi-location brands and franchisors will benefit from its social media management tool.
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PromoRepublic are offering a 14-day free trial too!
  1. Leadpages.
I’ve classed Leadpages as one of the best social media marketing tools because it has helped me build massive email lists for our clients. Quickly host and manage landing pages for a variety of use cases. Collect valuable data by combining Leadpages with the Facebook Pixel. Generate more business by having a professional landing page for your marketing campaign.
Whether you’re at pre-marketing stage or running a social media giveaway, Leadpages is a tool you should have in your arsenal. Directing traffic to a Leadpages landing page is one of the best ways to convert users into customers, proven by a huge track record of over 40,000 businesses using Leadpages for their marketing.
Leadpages has established itself as one of the leading landing page software tools out there and it makes it easy to set up beautiful landing pages, customise them, and have them published online in a matter of minutes.
Best For:
I can safely say this tool is great for anyone looking to add a competitive edge to their marketing efforts. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, head of marketing, or an artist looking to promote your brand, you will benefit from using Leadpages.
Main Features:
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Pricing:
Leadpages offers multiple tiers of annual and yearly plans as shown above. As with most software, the most cost-effective route is to pay annually – this equates to a total of 39% discount compared with the monthly payment plan.
Right now Leadpages are offering a 14-day free trial which also comes with a free domain name if you purchase the annual subscription.
  1. Mojo.
Mojo is a video-editing app. It’s currently available for both Android and iOS devices, and you should thank your lucky stars it is! Create flashy and impressive looking video content for social media and prepare to be complimented by your client for the work you produce – I am speaking from experience here.
Mojo is by far one of the most comprehensive video editing mobile apps. It has great customer support and they’re very responsive to your requests. I say this because I requested a feature and it was in the update. You can be sure that this app has got you covered when it comes to creating cool social media content, and in particular, Instagram story content.
Best For:
This tool is perfect for content creators and social media account managers who are in charge of accounts from 1k to 1m followers – seriously. If you’re posting on social media, regularly uploading stories to Instagram, Facebook or even posting on TikTok – then this app is a no-brainer. This app is particularly effective for getting users to use the Swipe Up feature on stories.
Main Features:
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Pricing:
It offers two pricing plans – monthly or yearly. The most cost-effective plan is to purchase the app for the year.
This app also offers a free trial!
  1. Videoshop.
Videoshop is a mobile only app and was built by developers with some branding ingenuity. Just like Photoshop, as its name suggests, the app is comprehensive and feature-rich. It does a fantastic job at bringing the main features of desktop video editing software right into a powerful mobile application. Who’d have thought that was possible? It’s just what we’ve always wanted.
This app is more appropriate for you if you are always creating videos with the end goal of posting them on social media. I don’t use it so much for creating story content. I often need to cut and chop videos and add some music to them, that’s it. Using this app is so much faster than loading up Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro.
If you have ever tried to download a video editing app only to find out that it is utterly useless, and that you wasted half an hour of your valuable time, then we have shared this very common frustration. Invest your time and money into a quality product and it’ll pay for itself over within a few weeks, and that’s especially true with Videoshop.
Best For:
This app will impress even the most seasoned of video editors, content creators, and social media account managers. You simply don’t know what you’re missing until you give it a shot.
Main Features:
Cons:
Pricing:
It offers two pricing plans – monthly or yearly. The most cost-effective plan is to purchase the app for the year.
submitted by leafyshark to DigitalMarketing [link] [comments]

I reprogrammed HOTS so you can play it on a poor laptop

Since last year HOTS stopped supporting weaker PC configurations and some people were unable to play the game. For this reason I created a utility that improves the performance of the game and you can download it here.
Watch this video to see the result (you must enable CC/subtitles).Because my laptop is very slow, it wasn't capable of the video recording at the same time, so you cannot see much fps improvement, but gives you the proof that it works.
I didn’t implement all optimizations that I wanted, but I can add them if there is the interest or if the devs could provide me a better access to the renderer since not all optimizations were possible to implement from “outside” (see Devs Appendix).
At this moment, the utility can:
There are many obvious bottlenecks like high poly models and high resolutions, which decreasing directly improves the performance, but degrades also the visual quality. Switching between singlethreaded/multithreaded rendering brings a huge speed up (my laptop gets 15-25% increase) with no visual quality los, but currently this works only on some integrated Intel graphics cards (you can try your luck with any graphics card, it will be probably just slower).

Geometry quality comparison

See picture for comparison https://imgur.com/a/AgqG9Er
“0.15 Geometry quality” means that the game renders only 15% triangles of the original geometry, which is enormous reduction, while you can still clearly recognize all the characters. This is because HOTS doesn’t optimize the characters geometry for the game, but uses the same characters as for the menu and therefore all the characters have way more polygons than necessary. Fortunately I found a decimation algorithm that can reduce all the geometry with a nice quality on the background thread almost instantly, so it doesn’t even need file caching. However, it’s not perfect, as you can see some holes on Azmodan model.

Texture quality comparison

See picture for comparison https://imgur.com/a/uUwVlaJ
“0.5 Texture quality” means that the texture mip-map level is biased by 5 levels and also switching to faster point filtering, while “1.0 Texture quality” means there is no mip-map level bias (therefore original texture quality) and it also uses original filtering.

FAQ

Is this some kind of hacking? Well, technically yes, but it doesn’t go any further than any your video recording program similar to FRAPS. When FRAPS connects to your game, it searches the DirectX library in your running game process and tells the DirectX to capture the last frame of your game and displays the additional fps info. My utility connects the game the same way as FRAPS and then just tells the DirectX to decrease the quality and/or to distribute the work over multiple cores. Because of this process, some antivirus programs might complain (e.g. Symantec warns about potential threat, while AVG and Nod32 are ok with it).
Is this allowed? Modifying software in general is illegal, but this utility does NOT modify any Blizzard software nor any assets, only communicates with the DirectX. The utility doesn’t even give you any game play advantage for cheating.
Will this work with the next game patch? Yes it will. The utility really doesn’t do anything else than communicates with the DirectX library. The DirectX is always the same on all the PCs. The only way to break the utility would be, if the game significantly reworks the renderer, like switching to DX12 or Vulkan.
Will it work on Mac? No. If there is a skilled Mac graphics programmer, we can team up.
I don’t want to install any crap! You don’t have to! The whole utility is just 182KB big, you can extract it anywhere you want and if you don’t like it, just delete it! That’s it!
Now the game looks like a crap, but you can also play it on a piece of crap!

Devs Appendix

Optimizing this game without any source code is very time consuming and I decided to stop and simply ask for help either from the devs or some other hard core graphics programmers. The game is protected against debuggers and graphics profilers, so I had to write my own graphics analyzer and I discovered some spaces for optimizations without affecting the visual quality:
The game heavily suffers from uploading the data from CPU to GPU, while there are 2 x 128B constant buffers that are doing cca 300-450 uploads every frame, while more than half of these uploads are the very same data! I bet these are some material properties, that are exactly the same between different objects and therefore don't need to be uploaded multiple times, but without modifying the game I couldn't make this more efficient. I bet that the game sorts the draw calls based on the materials, but maybe it could consider also the material sorting based on the constant buffer content and not upload it if the previous material had the same one (this should cut cca 200-300 uploads to GPU per frame).
After switching to the lowest graphics settings, all my tested machines became CPU bounded. The game issues render draw calls via DX11 immediate context from the main thread, which is later blocking everything else. This gives a huge space for multithreaded optimizations. I injected the creation of the immediate context and created a deferred context instead. It might sound crazy, but since both contexts have the very same interface, this perfectly works. Additionally I had to synchronize map/unmap reads + start with write discard if you are doing writes with no overwrite to index/vertex buffer. After this, I implemented some logic that finishes and executes the deferred command lists on the background thread and that’s literally all you have to do to enable multithreaded rendering. However, the cost of the creation of the rendering commands on the deferred/immediate context should be the same, so this doesn’t give you much benefit, so why to even do that? Well simply because you can now move the execution of the command buffer to the rendering thread and better control when to wait for its finishing (immediate context blocks your main thread unpredictably, because you have no control over when the execution starts/ends). Unfortunately because of the poor driver implementations of DX11 deferred contexts the commands creation takes longer than on the immediate context (so far it seems that only the integrated Intel graphics cards do this properly and 1 player with Gtx750m also reported a significant boost). This gave me a next idea that worked on all tested PCs, but for time reasons I didn’t finish it.
To reduce the commands creation cost, I implemented my own super lightweight command buffer. Because HOTS uses only a limited subset of DX11 api and I know the game limits, I could do a lot of presumptions that the native command buffers couldn’t (DX11 function calls add ref count to resources that has cost of a cache miss and can be completly avoided + we know all buffers and how many times we write to them, which means 0 allocations during map/unmap, etc.). This approach was implemented by many game engines during DX11 era. Unfortunately there is a problem that I had to make extra copies of all map/unmap writes, which wasn’t that an issue. The real problem was during the writes with no overwrite to index/vertex buffers – in this case the map/unmap doesn’t allocate a new buffer and just uses the existing one and the game writes into it without providing me the information which part was overwritten and therefore I didn’t know which part I should copy. Since this type of writes is allowed only for index/vertex buffers, I solved this problem by checking the start/end of DrawIndexedInstanced/DrawIndexed calls (obviously only the range of indices and vertices that is drawn needs the copying). However this detection had its own problems and in the end I implemented it only on a paused replay scene and it resulted in cca 20% boost on all tested machines (obviously this depends on how much the machine is CPU bounded). However since this would be way easier to implement directly with the game source code and the DX11 deferred context worked for me already, I decided to stop the development and continue only if people demand it.
The whole implementation took around 3-4 weeks counting writing own performance GPU analyzer and blind guessing since I had no source code and couldn’t even attach the debugger. I think the multithreaded rendering and constant buffer upload reduction is something worth to implement, so if someone is into this stuff, I would be very happy assisting.

Testing configurations:

How to solve crashes:

  1. Make sure HOTS runs on your machine without the utility. If HOTS doesn't even run on it's own, nothing I can do :(
  2. If HOTS can run on it's own, but the utility doesn't even start, send me a screenshot of the windows error message to my email and I will try to fix it.
  3. If HOTS and the utility starts, but HOTS game crashes afterwards try it again. If it crashes everytime/often, use this special LowSpecHangDetect version and send me the whole content of a log folder from this special version to my email. This version is extremly slow and will look like it freezes because it generates a lot of extra info (there is no sensitive info, just HW description and callstack in a text file that you can read) and I will try to fix it.

Patch Notes

v1.6 v1.4

More questions?

For any questions, feel free to contact me at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
submitted by gamer9xxx to heroesofthestorm [link] [comments]

A step-by-step guide of how I would build a SaaS company right now - part 2

This is part 2 of 5.
Part 1
LET'S DO THIS!
Big thank you to everyone that upvoted and commented on the last post.
I’m pumped, this is part 2 of 5 for those keeping track at home.
  1. Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay - Part 1)
  2. Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility)
  3. Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
  4. Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good)
  5. Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)
Early traction, everyone wants it, very few people know how to do it effectively. Hell I’ve seen it all, run all the experiments, all the tests and I can tell you from experience if you have the patience, slow, steady, and surgical is the way to grow. Especially in the beginning.
In part one we spent a lot of time asking some basic fundamental business questions. Including, an exercise in the importance of being able to niche down.
We’re going to expand on the niching down because it’s how you gain clarity and find people to align yourself with early on.
The goal of this will be to understand:
  1. How to niche down
  2. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
  3. How to position within that market
  4. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
I’ve chosen to outline these in all our steps for niching down.
You’re going to see these steps move from research to market evaluation to list building stopping just short of outreach. We’ll touch on this in part 3.
Last week I took a call where someone told me their target market is males 25-45 that like sports.
This is the most important part of your entire business. I’m serious.
Let’s rock through this together so we can get you super focused and know where and how to spend your time and money.
(The below was laid out in part 1 and was the layered niching exercise)
LEVEL 1: We’re a helpdesk product.
How to niche down
The big question is “for who”?
So you’ve picked the type of product you are building and a use case, the problem is there are lots of people like you out there and this doesn’t tell me much about your market, it’s too broad.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Because this is so broad, it’s impossible to actually target a market and without being able to do that, it’s not possible to recognize opportunities, there’s just too many of them.
How to position within that market
Competition is good and bad, but it’s always better to be a big fish in a little pond, the best way to reduce the size of your pond is to niche down as much as possible while still understanding a large enough TAM (total addressable market).
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
No wasted effort. Every idea, concept, must have a small goal attached to it.
It’s too expensive to try to be everything for everyone and when you take this approach you end up failing at doing any one thing well enough for people to switch.
Let’s build on this.
LEVEL 2: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies.
How to niche down
Pick an industry or trend that is on the rise - look towards a shift or something that relates to changes people are making in their daily routine.
In this case we picked eCommerce because it’s on track to hit over $7 Trillion worldwide this year and has steadily been increasing across all brands. So we have an industry with a large enough economic driver to let us start niching down.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
We now buy things online that we never would have thought to do so even just a few years ago. Amazon is selling Tiny Homes now, seriously, if you can buy it, odds are you can do it online. There are massive opportunities to bring goods and services to people through convenient online shopping. And with that increase they will all need a help desk platform to provide the best experience for their customers.
Customers today don’t want to speak with people, they want answers quickly and easily. It’s all about reducing friction.
How to position within that market
Narrow down within the market. eCommerce is a good starting point, there are different industries, subsets, and categories. Go narrower. Start thinking about where the friction exists in the industry and for what subsets.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
In the beginning, it’s going to be an uphill battle, picking the right trending industry will give you the best chance of success. Something that is rising up to the right in popularity is way easier to sell into than a trend that is declining.
Know your competitive landscape.
Everyone has a competitor, whether direct, partial, or mildly related. Spend a lot of time on understanding this and knowing that your product is part of a very large landscape or landscape of potential competitors. Any one of the existing partial or mildly related competitors may be building something to more directly compete with you down the road.
Practical advice
Most companies stop here and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a go to market plan or a sustainable business model.
There’s an important bit worth mentioning here as it will become a theme of this entire post.
Great products enhance workflows through features, the focus isn’t on the product but what the product enables people to do. Success in the software business is all about understanding existing workflows and simplifying the experience.
As you do this exercise to niche down ask yourself:
What does the current workflow look like?
What are they currently using?
How are they currently using it?
Where are the gaps?
What are the best practices for creating workflows?
Always seek to understand how your product works in a workflow - what role it plays, how it best optimizes - this is the data play referred to in Part 1.
What are the things that matter most to people in the eCommerce space?
That’s a lot of questions with even more answers, when you peel everything back it becomes very clear that it’s not possible to answer all of them without going deeper.
Too many people to talk to, too many industries, too much everything.
Let’s take a different approach - how I got to Shopify in the next niche down.
No successful new SaaS company today launches without an integration.
So let’s find an eCommerce platform to integrate with.
We have to look for a stable player that has an app store and is a market leader.
As a starting point, my goal is to be a help desk for ecommerce companies.
  1. I need a list of all eCommerce platforms
  2. I need to understand which help desks they already integrate with
  3. I need to understand what people like and don’t like about them
  4. I need to find out which platform is going to be the best fit for my product
There are lots of sources for this and even more articles, google and read.
If you’re looking for numbers though and data, use BuiltWith and run a search on the platforms after you have your list to figure out which is the most popular.
Ok so we have our list of eCommerce platforms, we’ve analyzed the data, made sure they tick all the boxes and we’ve run our reports and found that Shopify powers 1.2 million stores.
Let’s lock it in as our next step in niching down.
LEVEL 3: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify.
How to niche down
It’s more than just market size. Going with a market leader is always a safe bet but it also provides the most competition. Sometimes going with a smaller platform that doesn’t get all the attention is a worthwhile research project.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
There are two sides of the opportunity and this is something that I didn’t touch on in the original niching down. Shopify and BuiltWith categorize the types of stores that are on the platform, so you can niche down to a certain type of store, for example just cosmetics or just apparel.
The other side of the opportunity is putting together your list of companies currently operating in the ecosystem.
How to position within that market
Smart people are really good at collecting data and interpreting it.
Let’s get some data.
  1. Go to the shopify app store
  2. Type in “Support”
  3. Click paid on the left margin and click the “Support Category”
  4. Use something like Simple Scraper ( a great chrome plugin, no affiliation)
  5. Get your scrape on, this shows 87
  6. Time to get busy - categorize them
  7. Pick the ones most similar to your offerings
  8. Click on them, look at their reviews - all of them on shopify Scrape them
  9. Go to G2 and Capterra and look through all those reviews as well
  10. Put them all in a spreadsheet, read them all, highlight those that stand out
  11. Find the ones that are popular, others that have features people like etc.
  12. Document, and integrate the baseline features into a trello board on your product roadmap
  13. Take all the bad reviews and complaints - look for gaps that you can fill
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
So take a look above, we went from a bunch of questions to being able to do a ton of market research to do product research and understand the current market offerings and where we might be able to gain some ground and offer something people might be interested in and ARE PAYING FOR.
How do you stand out?
You need to have a workflow that is 10x better than a current competitor in the market with a strong roadmap that lays out how you intend on optimizing this workflow. Features are built to augment the workflow and simplify the work of your clients employees, less work, more data, better understanding.
Ok so we’ve narrowed it down to eCommerce and Shopify and we have a list of other products that are currently playing in the space. We’re now looking at workflow - let’s figure this bit out.
LEVEL 4: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation.
How to niche down
Add another variable - it doesn’t have to be Shipstation, but it’s a good example as for eCommerce you’re likely shipping products places. By adding another variable, we’re shrinking our population to target.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
The biggest problem for all companies these days is combining different one off services and getting them to play nicely together. Stand alone products usually outclass all in one products as stated above because the focus is better. This is generally always going to be where you can find a gap in the market as the integrating of products is an afterthought rather than something contemplated in the very beginning.
How do you decide on the technologies you want to work with?
How to position within that market
Don’t guess. Understand the workflow of an eCommerce company and how it relates to support. For instance, most support tickets relate to order status, tracking, and returns. These all involve the store, transaction, the service desk, and the shipping carrier. Look for ways to streamline the experience for the service rep - for instance if refunds require approval, build a system that allows for all those tickets to be queued up with an easy interface for approvals or different color tagging to allow for them to be easily sorted by type.
By focusing on two technologies you can start by creating a better visual collaboration between tools to improve overall experience.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Stack the deck in your favor.
Focus on where you can drive early alignment between your product offering and the audiences of your now two products. When you reach out to both companies especially the smaller ones like a Shipstation, you can collect more information about who they are catering to, volumes etc.
Most companies have a partner program - look into connecting with the lead.
When the time is right you might even get a shoutout on their social or blog or you can decide to co-publish some research report together. Lots of options.
Let’s double down on what being niche allows us to do:
  1. Know our audience
  2. Research with purpose
  3. Personalize outreach with early feelers
  4. Better understand a realistic TAM (total addressable market)
  5. Understand overlap between products
  6. Early alignment with bigger names
This whole topic is about alignment, alignment with partners, customers, and your product.
We have a list of potential customers now, but we need to segment them down further.
LEVEL 5: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus.
How to niche down
Why less than 100 skus?
This means they are small enough to try a new product. It also means you can see what works and what doesn’t work on a potentially smaller store. When you’re managing a store with more than 100 skus, things get a little complicated, it’s an arbitrary number but changing internal processes and workflows when you get to that level means that your staff is coming from a place of having used a system before that could handle the volume and trying out something newer or unproven is a tall order.
This process can be applied to anything, if your product does better project management look for people that run less than 20 projects at a time or projects that are less than 6 months, whatever it may be. We’re starting small.
Always default to the path of least resistance. Work smarter, not harder.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
I’m sure this could be automated, but in lieu of it being automated, you should start by manually figuring this out for yourself.
That list you have from BuiltWith that has urls, yeah we’re going to use that one.
Put the websites in the spreadsheet you downloaded, then create a new column and add “products” to the url - so you have the website in cell A, the word “products” in cell B then in blank cell C write “=CONCATENATE(A:B)” congratulations now you have cell C that will take you straight to the product page to see how many skus they have.
Update this hack doesn’t work on all shopify websites like I had hoped and after some research it seems like this is a bit of a struggle point for others as well.
I’m sure someone could write a script to scrape this information.
Go find an intern or hire someone to do all the lookups for you or find someone to write a script to automate the results - remember always work smart.
Run this and you’ll come up with your go to target list.
How to position within that market
The best helpdesk for stores on Shopify using shipstation with less than 100 skus - all of a sudden this starts to sound like something someone would almost search for. That’s the point.
We’re working our way down where it becomes a simple checklist if someone was searching for things.
Shopify - check
Shipstation - check
Built for smaller stores - check
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Remember you’re not building a product for everyone yet, your goal is to dominate a niche. You can always expand from there.
So we’re about half way through and we have figured out our potential partners and now we’re working on narrowing down this customer list. Before we dive in and start reaching out we need to really understand who we’re targeting and we need to start small.
Let’s narrow this down even further.
LEVEL 6: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue.
How to niche down
Why the less than $10 million in annual revenue? The only reason I would say this in the beginning is that they won’t have as much traffic and ticket volume, they make for better early clients, you can learn a lot more from their use cases and improve the product without worrying about something going wrong and a larger client really getting mad and churning. You also usually have greater access to work with their staff to improve your product.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Unless you’re currently on the front lines, you need to find some early providers of feedback that are on the front lines. In essence, this is the starting point of a community and information play.
There aren’t a lot of data points available about companies in the early stages. People always have questions and there are limited resources in the early days, even across similar companies.
(Just look at reddit there are tons of repeat answers and questions.)
Someone answering tickets all day is the last person that wants to provide feedback, as much as they would like their job made easier, they don’t have the time.
How to position within that market
“But I need a big logo to let people know that I’m real.” You don’t, not in the beginning. All you need is a few good customers that are open to lending you the feedback you need to get better. A lot of smaller brands do a good job of branding, play the long game, find brands that are growing and try to get in early - grow with them.
Logo hunting has its place but you need to find product market fit before you can really make that happen.
By now you have probably figured out that whenever possible you should automate things. The way you do this is through data collection.
Using logic, math, and a spreadsheet you can do enough to be dangerous.
Use a service to figure out what their unique traffic is, take a look at their products and assume that their cart value is around 2-4 products per order then take the conversion rates by industry - you can find these online they are openly listed.
Your sheet will look something like this:
Company, Traffic, Conversion Percentage, Order Value, Sales Percentage, Revenue
eCommerce blended average is 2.2% - go use a spreadsheet and some formulas and bam you now have the revenue numbers. We’re not looking for exacts here, but more generally a good estimate.
I’ve actually run these numbers, if the products are sold through other channels, Amazon, retail, etc, then a rough estimate would be around ~33% of the revenue will come from the ecommerce store.
Factor in a range based on the size of the brand and it’s channels this should give you a rough estimate of the revenue even if they don’t publish it.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Provide value - the most overhyped phrase but still true - the question then becomes, with something as subjective as “value” rather than just create, instead ask and create. This part is coming up, we’re almost ready to turn this on.
We’ve started to move from who are partners are to who are our potential customers. This is on purpose - my stance is that your first customers are really your partners and you should work on aligning yourself with those that are the best fit for your product.
You want your first clients to buy into your vision and invest the time to help shape it.
Ok on to the next -
LEVEL 7: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people.
How to niche down
So now we’re getting into the easier stuff - this is just a simple LinkedIn Search - small teams are usually before the real deep process point, they are also really good at providing feedback on tools that can actually help them out.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
If you have less than 5 people on a team, it’s a small enough number to target the entire team - multi prong approach to product awareness.
For customer support they are often the least paid and they have the most stressful jobs - it’s an all around shitty position to be in, so if you can provide them joy, you’re going to make fans quick. Also, they aren’t usually sold into, they are rarely asked their opinion, etc.
How to position within that market
Give them a voice. The same goes for any lower level positions as well by the way. When people are getting started in their careers they are looking to hear about the jobs people have even at the lower levels but the resources just aren’t there. Even for more senior roles, it’s hard to get a beat on what the current status is of their projects, people don’t like sharing - I still don’t know why.
We’re seeing communities around Sales popup SalesHacker, sales, Bravado etc. We don’t see as many for other roles, there is a wide open space in this. I don’t see any places for people to better understand customer support/success which is THE ONLY INBOUND TOUCHPOINT WITH CUSTOMERS POST SALE.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
This is part of the philosophy and psychology of understanding human dynamics. Find a persona that you can relate to immediately and build your product around fixing their problems, be obsessed with this.
They get paid nothing, but they’d like less tickets, how do you reduce that ticket count, how do you bring other parts of the business that they may need to have access to more prominently in your support system so they don’t have to have multiple windows open. How do you build something to maximize their efficiency?
Better yet, how do you tag someone in the CRM and flag it over to the sales system to see if they purchase more product as a result of a good interaction with support - this is how you turn a cost center into a revenue generator. This is a killer feature that I’m not aware of out of the box.
This could unlock a commission structure and reward system for what is arguably becoming a dealbreaker for most companies.
Which is a great segway to the next drill down - you should be starting to see how this all really blends together if done correctly.
LEVEL 8: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes.
How to niche down
They have to be looking to automate their process or improve their workflow. When people find a tech stack that works, oftentimes new technology doesn’t stick around very long, we’re all creatures of habit.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
You’re only looking for people that are talking about processes or a company that has something related to the pride they take with their process - you can check out BuiltWith and see a list of products they have tried over the last 18 months.
When a company is testing a bunch of different products it means they are looking for a better process. This is your sweet spot.
How to position within that market
You’ve seen me sprinkle “workflow” into this post. This is pretty much a preview of Part 3 and the importance of product design.
Your product must improve someone’s existing workflow. If it doesn’t it’s not a viable product.
There are two parts to this, does your product improve an existing workflow AND how easy can your product be inserted into that workflow?
Remember, this is their business and they need to make a transition as smoothly as possible with as little disruption as possible. This goes for any product you’re selling. Change is hard.
Understanding a company’s process really is everything.
If people aren’t looking to automate or improve their process, there’s a good chance you should change your approach immediately and work towards more of an education campaign and double down on what it would take to let people quickly switch over from an existing platform. Focus on reducing friction.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Looking for people that are interested, not those we need to educate early on.
Data migration and implementation is one of the main reasons people don’t want to switch or entertain new products. There is always a fear of lost productivity.
Everyone is looking to automate right now, but the price has to be right, and that includes not the subscription amount, but the training, the migration, the new workflows, the time to adopt, the willingness to adopt, etc.
During almost any transition, the company will be paying for two systems at the same time during that handoff. This is rough, not enough companies actually address this in a meaningful way.
The argument is that a pure SaaS play doesn’t exist or shouldn’t exist for an early stage company, there should always be a service and consulting component. Hold everyone’s hand, understand their problems and make them feel like you’re building a product just for them.
Ok we’re almost there -
LEVEL 9: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes who are currently using Zendesk.
How to niche down
Let’s spearfish.
Zendesk - great platform - but has its limits that only show up based on workflows. Zendesk will work great until you have a workflow that incorporates other tools - then it starts to struggle.
This is true of most large legacy platforms. As legacy platforms moved up market to Enterprise for revenue reasons, they usually forget about smaller teams. Instead relying on dev house partners to do customizations.
This is where industry experience really comes into play - knowing the goals of a company or team, their workflows, and where you can create a better solution for those with those workflows for things that the legacy platforms prefer to source out to their dev house partners.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Your calls can now go from generic to focused with questions that can hone in on workflows and gaps. For example, Zendesk’s UX/UI sucks for partner integrations, we’ve seen companies like Kustomer, Gorgias, and others become more popular because of a better UX/UI that supports the whole customer experience and journey. This is a fundamental switch in approach.
From one of our earlier research steps we found 87 companies that people were using for support with shopify, we have them in a spreadsheet, we then could take those and put all the competitors in builtwith to run some reports to understand market penetration (you can do this with number of reviews as well by the way if you’re lazy - don’t be lazy).
Download your list - populate your CRM - you now know what people are using, how long they’ve been using them.
Narrow down your list to the top 20 clients - yes only 20.
Even if you have 100 clients or a thousand clients at this point, this process works for every single Sales rep you have - and I’m going on a 95% chance none of them are doing this stuff. And if you tell me they are, I know from the amount of generic ass emails I get regularly spewed out to me they aren’t doing it well and I guarantee you money is being left on the table. (Topic for another day)
How to position within that market
You know what software they are using, you know their tech stack, your goal is to figure out their workflow. If you don’t know, ask. You should understand the general business workflows for the industry - again industry knowledge is required.
Engage them with conversation and find out. Base your questions on conversations you’ve had with other people in the space and be a source of information about how other people are doing it.
The above is completely able to be put into a human measurable process, one based on quality over quantity, relationships over transactions, and geared towards long term growth.
Be about the things that other platforms are not. Focus on changing the narrative from cost center to revenue generator.
The helpdesk for Shopify and Shipstation customers looking to streamline their processes and free up their support teams to become revenue generators in an organic and measurable fashion.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
It’s all about workflows, data, and automation.
Niche down, learn from the inside out, follow the trends and work on being able to tie back data to creating more revenue no matter what your product does and you’ll be able to start conversations with people actively looking to create more optimized workflows.
Focusing on a legacy product and small businesses usually allows you to find a sweet spot, they don’t find value in all the features because they won’t use them all. But they do want the more advanced features like automation and workflow help. These are usually cost prohibitive in the platform.
This is why you focus on workflow over features, you’ll never catch up with the big guys in terms of features, but there are always ways to compete on workflows, because everyone has their own independent goals around them. There aren’t standards, only best practices.
Side note - there are entire companies that are hired to implement systems like Zendesk and build integrations on top of it and it’s a market leader. The same goes for any market leader.
LEVEL 10ish: You can add location to the end of our narrowing down. A company physically local to you (at least this was the case prior to COVID-19) can allow for an in person visit which has been massive in building trust with early clients. Makes it easier to have a conversation as well.
That’s it. Go through this process, substitute your values, keep drilling down and recognize opportunity along the way. When you do it correctly you’ll see massive improvements for your initial outreach.
Emails go from:
We’re a new helpdesk company.
To:
We’re a new helpdesk company for customers that use Shopify and Shipstation. We help agile support teams that are looking to better automate their workflows. Our integrations also allows your support team’s interactions to be directly tied into future revenue generation.
___________
I can tell you from experience I’m visiting the url for the second email even if I’m not looking to make a change.
This is a good place to stop, we hit question 2 of 5 and we’re almost at the halfway point.
If you have more specific questions about this part just drop them in the comments and I'll respond to them.
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7 Best Social Media Marketing Tools 2020

Finding the right Social Media Marketing tools is a challenge. You end up learning the ins and outs of each tool before realising it isn’t working as you expected. Somehow it’s costing you more time and money than it’s saving! Trust me, I’ve been there. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the 7 best paid social media marketing tools I use on a daily basis.
Posting on social media and creating ads is one of the most time-consuming things in the beginning stages of running a social media marketing agency. Let’s put aside running the actual business for a second. You need to do the dirty work to get ahead, at least in the beginning, and that can often take up hours upon hours of your day. Then you can finally focus on the business admin, your own branding and marketing, and everything else.
I bet you’d much rather spend more time on growing your business and creating a rock solid brand! With the right tools, you can. You can become a super-efficient social media manager with plenty of time to catch up on the important stuff.
There’s a whole host of tools, apps and software developed specifically to make your life as a social media agency owner easier. I haven’t tried and tested them all, but I’ve tried and tested a lot.
Here are my top picks for social media tools in 2020 that I use on a daily basis.
  1. Grammarly.
At the number 1 spot we have quite possibly the best social media marketing tools there is. No matter what field you’re in, grammatically correct writing is important, and that’s especially true for social media. You don’t want to be that person who makes a social media blunder!
Grammarly is the go-to tool for quality control when it comes to writing your posts or ads. The cost of making a spelling mistake or a grammatical error on a social media post or ad can indeed range from total embarrassment to completely destroying a brand’s reputation, or both.
If you’re the dedicated account manager for multiple social media accounts, then you’ll be writing a lot, and you may have found yourself accidentally making silly grammatical errors from time to time. We all do it, it’s human, but they can end up having some pretty dire consequences.
Get Grammarly to ensure it never happens again. Take human error out of the equation. You’ll never have to worry about making a spelling mistake, you just have to open up Grammarly and write it there. Grammarly conveniently offers a mobile app, a desktop app, a browser app and a Chrome extension!
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  1. Flick.
Flick is hands down the best hashtag generator app around, and it’s available on both mobile and desktop. It’s a true game changer. Not only does it save you plenty of time choosing the perfect hashtags for your post, it is also a one-stop-shop for Instagram analytics. If you’re looking for an app that’ll make your life easier, look no further. Flick to the rescue!There are many free hashtag generators out there – I can certainly think of a few off the top of my head. But the old adage “you get what you pay for” really rings true here. Flick allows you to generate 30 relevant hashtags (the Instagram limit) and copy them with the click of a button.Gone are the times where you unwillingly look at your phone trying to think of 30 new hashtags. This is the ultimate tool for obliterating the painstaking process of finding hashtags, and also offers some pretty cool resources as well as a sleek analytics interface inside, so you know how your hashtags are performing.
Best For:
Brand manager, viral page owner, social media manager, creator or influencer. Whatever you’re doing with your life, social media hashtags is the last thing you want to be spending your time doing. Focus on what matters. Seriously. Let Flick do the hashtag generating for you.
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This app offers 4 pricing plans all of which are billed monthly. It also offers an enticing free trial so you get to try before you buy.
  1. AdSpy.
Take the guesswork out of creating the perfect Facebook or Instagram ad. Use AdSpy to learn from your competitors ads, evaluate their performance based on the important metrics that AdSpy provides, and see what advertisers are doing when it comes to designing ad creative and writing sales-worthy text copy for social media.
AdSpy allows you to browse through a large database of social media ad archives and to see all of the high-performing social media ads in your niche. With their comprehensive search filter, you can search using a host of filters to get the nitty gritty details on current and past ads in just about any niche, and in any country! Take a look at the search queries you can choose from below.
This fantastic tool can be used for competitor analysis, for coming up with ideas, and for making sure you’re not wasting time writing an ad that will underperform. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, see what works and change it to suit your business. Why spend hours upon hours thinking of the perfect ad copy and the perfect video, image or design when you can easily become a social media advertising mogul at the click of a button?
Best For:
AdSpy is a must-have for absolutely anyone running Facebook or Instagram ads. When it comes to social media competitor analysis tools, there are few and far between. And those that are available are no match compared with AdSpy. It’s up to you as an entrepreneur to take advantage of the data that’s available, and take your advertising game to the next level. AdSpy helps you do just that.
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  1. PromoRepublic.
An all-in-one social media management tool. PromoRepublic have developed a neat piece of software that makes managing social media accounts easy. If you’re at the stage where you’re looking to scale your social media marketing agency but you need more time on your hands to do so, then PromoRepublic has got you covered. Here’s what Marilyn Heywood Page, VP of Marketing at Inciting Marketing had to say about the product:
“The back-and-forth process, when talking about a dozen different clients drove us insane. Marketing management seemed like a relentless end-to-end routine — clunky, complicated, and circular. For a single client, PromoRepublic has saved us at least two hours a week, which were previously spent on alternating processes.”
And I could not agree more. Simplifying the communication within your own agency is a surefire way to become a more efficient and cost-effective agency, and to grow. PromoRepublic will save you so much time so you can focus on priorities.
Best For:
PromoRepublic is a great bit of kit if you’re running a business or working as a freelancer. It is suitable for all small businesses and of course, social media marketing agencies especially. PromoRepublic also states on its website that multi-location brands and franchisors will benefit from its social media management tool.
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PromoRepublic are offering a 14-day free trial too!
  1. Leadpages.
I’ve classed Leadpages as one of the best social media marketing tools because it has helped me build massive email lists for our clients. Quickly host and manage landing pages for a variety of use cases. Collect valuable data by combining Leadpages with the Facebook Pixel. Generate more business by having a professional landing page for your marketing campaign.
Whether you’re at pre-marketing stage or running a social media giveaway, Leadpages is a tool you should have in your arsenal. Directing traffic to a Leadpages landing page is one of the best ways to convert users into customers, proven by a huge track record of over 40,000 businesses using Leadpages for their marketing.
Leadpages has established itself as one of the leading landing page software tools out there and it makes it easy to set up beautiful landing pages, customise them, and have them published online in a matter of minutes.
Best For:
I can safely say this tool is great for anyone looking to add a competitive edge to their marketing efforts. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, head of marketing, or an artist looking to promote your brand, you will benefit from using Leadpages.
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Leadpages offers multiple tiers of annual and yearly plans as shown above. As with most software, the most cost-effective route is to pay annually – this equates to a total of 39% discount compared with the monthly payment plan.
Right now Leadpages are offering a 14-day free trial which also comes with a free domain name if you purchase the annual subscription.
  1. Mojo.
Mojo is a video-editing app. It’s currently available for both Android and iOS devices, and you should thank your lucky stars it is! Create flashy and impressive looking video content for social media and prepare to be complimented by your client for the work you produce – I am speaking from experience here.
Mojo is by far one of the most comprehensive video editing mobile apps. It has great customer support and they’re very responsive to your requests. I say this because I requested a feature and it was in the update. You can be sure that this app has got you covered when it comes to creating cool social media content, and in particular, Instagram story content.
Best For:
This tool is perfect for content creators and social media account managers who are in charge of accounts from 1k to 1m followers – seriously. If you’re posting on social media, regularly uploading stories to Instagram, Facebook or even posting on TikTok – then this app is a no-brainer. This app is particularly effective for getting users to use the Swipe Up feature on stories.
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It offers two pricing plans – monthly or yearly. The most cost-effective plan is to purchase the app for the year.
This app also offers a free trial!
  1. Videoshop.
Videoshop is a mobile only app and was built by developers with some branding ingenuity. Just like Photoshop, as its name suggests, the app is comprehensive and feature-rich. It does a fantastic job at bringing the main features of desktop video editing software right into a powerful mobile application. Who’d have thought that was possible? It’s just what we’ve always wanted.
This app is more appropriate for you if you are always creating videos with the end goal of posting them on social media. I don’t use it so much for creating story content. I often need to cut and chop videos and add some music to them, that’s it. Using this app is so much faster than loading up Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro.
If you have ever tried to download a video editing app only to find out that it is utterly useless, and that you wasted half an hour of your valuable time, then we have shared this very common frustration. Invest your time and money into a quality product and it’ll pay for itself over within a few weeks, and that’s especially true with Videoshop.
Best For:
This app will impress even the most seasoned of video editors, content creators, and social media account managers. You simply don’t know what you’re missing until you give it a shot.
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It offers two pricing plans – monthly or yearly. The most cost-effective plan is to purchase the app for the year.
submitted by leafyshark to socialmedia [link] [comments]

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