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The Spark: Rocketship Podcast’s Matt Goldman Shares the Book that Helped Him Bootstrap His Startup

Behind every great innovator is a great book
by Caitlin Schiller | Jun 24 2015
In our contributor series, The Spark, we ask founders and leaders in their fields to share one outstanding read that inspired them on their journey.


Each week the Rocketship podcast interviews successful entrepreneurs—from ex-fratire writer, Tucker Max, to Crazy Egg’s Content Marketing beacon, Neil Patel—about strategy, growth, and more. After having founded two companies and launched Rocketship, which is becoming more beloved by the day, Matt Goldman has some growth experience of his own to share, too.

In addition to co-captaining Rocketship, Matt is CEO of HookFeed, customer management software for Stripe that lets users delve into various riddles for the ages, such as “which of our customers are the most valuable?” and “what’s our trial-to-paid-conversion rate?”


Some questions you can answer with HookFeed

Although HookFeed and Rocketship are to be his current focus, but Matt’s journey into entrepreneurship predates both.

The story starts in 2012 when he founded Small HQ with HookFeed partner, Joelle Steiniger. Their dream was to become a successful product company. Getting there, however, requires some significant ramping up—and that means having the money to do it. He and Joelle were funding with their own savings, taking on a client project here and there, but it just wasn’t cutting it. The duo’s projects hadn’t launched yet, so weren’t profitable, and their runway was quickly running out.

Luckily, that’s when Matt found the book that fundamentally changed how he priced Small HQ’s work.

Extending the runway

“Before pitching a large client project, I read Brennan Dunn’s Double Your Freelancing Rate,” Matt recalls. “It was the first business book that I really connected with. The gist of Dunn’s book is “CHARGE MORE,” but there is much more practical advice inside.”

As the title suggests, that practical advice is especially plangent for freelancers. Anybody who’s ever worked solo knows that working up that first project quote for a new client is harrowing. Regardless of how confident you might feel in your product and your work, the moment you pitch is the scariest because you’re claiming in hard, cold monetary units what you think your work is worth.

Double Your Freelancing Rate gave me the confidence to announce my rate for the project, not the hours, and stick to it when we entered negotiations. DYFR is my favorite business book because it’s a direct injection of confidence into the freelancer’s bloodstream.”

One of the chief ways that Dunn councils to build a case for whatever rate you quote is to quantify the financial upside for the client:

Quantifying The Financial Upside

When we have an understanding of why a project has been commissioned and what the business implications are for both its success and failure, we now want to quantify exactly what those implications mean for the business.

It’s one thing to tell a prospective client, “We’ve agreed that not doing this project will cost each of your employees a few hours a week in lost productivity.” Or, “You’re losing sales because hardly anyone who visits your website contacts you.”

But it’s entirely different to say, “Over the next year alone, recovering 5 hours a week per employee of productivity will save you around $300,000 in payroll overhead.” Or, “If we can get you two more leads a month, that will add $5,000 brand in new business each month to your revenue.”

Why We Quantify

Quantifying what the financial upside is for a business communicates two powerful concepts to your clients:

  1. You’ve done your homework. You’ve spent the time to understand and calculate exactly what this project means to their business.
  2. You can anchor this upside against your costs. We’ll use basic psychology to communicate “spend $1 and get $2 back” when putting together our proposals. I very rarely see anyone outside of enterprise solutions consulting doing this. Most freelancers, as we’ve discussed, are singularly focused on their craft — what are we doing, and how will we do it?

Using this idea from the book, the first project Matt landed after reading Dunn’s book ended up being priced at about six times Small HQ’s normal rate. What’s more, that engagement became an ongoing contract that helped fund Small HQ until they reached profitability with their products. Even better, that relationship continues through to today.

“By getting real about what our services are worth, we cut stress, got to work on the projects we love, and were able to get a product company off the ground with as little distraction as possible.”

HookFeed & Rocketship: Lessons in claiming your worth


What Matt gleaned from reading Double Your Freelancing Rate may speak specifically to freelancers, but its lessons have also benefited both of his current ventures.

Pricing, he explains, permeates every aspect of a business, and when you’re just starting out with a new business model, undervaluing your work is a common trap.

“It’s easy to find reasons that you’re not good enough compared to others, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the value you can deliver to whoever is paying you for your product or service. That’s it.”

Matt and Joelle no longer work with clients, but instead focus exclusively on their products—products to which they’ve applied Dunn’s lessons when figuring out pricing.

“What we learned from Dunn’s book encourages us to charge more whenever we change pricing for HookFeed. It encouraged us to charge more for our podcast sponsorships as well.”

The #1 reason Matt recommends Double Your Freelancing Rate

The greatest gift we have on this earth just might be time, and the only way we can really honor it is through choice. Matt’s credo is that a gift so precious shouldn’t be wasted on projects and people who don’t respect it.

“The worst thing budding freelancers can do is charge $300 a website and pump them out to unappreciative clients,” Matt explains. “The best thing they can do is get a confidence boost to start charging tens of thousands for the right clients who can get more than that amount of value out of the arrangement.”

Learn more about what Matt and Joelle are up to at HookFeed here, listen to heaps of amazing Rocketship podcasts, and check out Double Your Freelancing Rate here.

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