I’m Laura Roeder, the former joint founder and CEO of MeetEdgar and now PaperBell.
Since I was 22, I’ve been an independent entrepreneur. I’ve always felt most at home in the small business community, and that’s why I’ve always been focused on giving other entrepreneurs the tools they need to be totally independent.
In 2009, I founded LKR Social Media, where I taught business owners how to harness the power of social media marketing and create their own online fame. I was named one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under 30 in 2011, 2013, and 2014, and I even spoke about entrepreneurship at the White House!
Here’s a Full Transcript of Our Great Interview With Laura
Intro: Welcome to the WP-tonic WordPress and SaaS podcast, Jonathan Denwood and his co-host Steven Sauder interview the leading experts in WordPress e-learning and online marketing to help WordPress professionals launch their own SAS. Take it away, guys.
Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back folks to the WP tonic show, this week in WordPress and SaaS we’ve got a fantastic guest. I know, I do say that recently often, but this is a fantastic guest. Folks. We got Laura Roeder, the joint founder, or founder of MeetEdgar, and also, a new great company, a new enterprise PaperBell. Also, I’ve got Steven, Steven has returned from his holiday in Mexico. He’s rejuvenated. Ready to ask Laura some fantastic questions. Laura really is a fantastic female entrepreneur, with a ton of knowledge. Laura, do you want to quickly introduce yourself to the WP-Tonic tribe?
Laura Roeder: Yeah, so I’m the founder of Meetedgar we’re social media scheduling and automation tool. And I recently exited that business in October of 2021. And I have another SaaS business that I’m focused on now PaperBell. Paperbell.com is a tool for coaches like life coaches, not sports coaches, to run their scheduling and their payments and client admin, and kind of run the whole back office of their business.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. And Steven, why don’t you reintroduce yourself to the tribe.
Steven Sauder: Yes. Steven Sauder from hustlefish.com. We help agencies build out their vision on the web.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. And before we go into this great interview, I’ve got a quick message from our major sponsor.
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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back. I just want to point out that, Castos has got a great offer for the tribe, plus some other great offers and recommendations, and you can get all that by going to the WP-Tonic/recommendations and you’ll find that great special offer. And like I say other recommendations on that page. So Laura, what, obviously it was a fantastic ride with Meetedgar and I watched some of your previous interviews. I think you started that around when you were 22, which is amazing.
Laura Roeder: No, no. I started working for myself when I was 22, but that was later.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. Right. Sorry about that. But I did watch a number of your interviews. So what was some, on this journey with Meetedgar what were some of the biggest, things you learned, the biggest surprises on this journey? Can you just give us one or two that comes straight into your mind?
Laura Roeder: Yeah. There’s obviously, a lot to choose from. I mean, something, I think that surprises a lot of people, a question I get a lot is wasn’t it challenging being in such a crowded market because of social media scheduling tools, we weren’t new when we launched, the established players were already there, were sometimes already heavily funded when we launched. And over the years there were just more and more every year. And there is still a lot. And I think that was a good thing in a lot of ways, a lot of people are scared to start a company in a really crowded market, but what made marketing kind of easy at Meetedgar, is that people were looking for a social media scheduling tool. People knew that they needed a tool like us
Basically, it’s like, I need a social media scheduler. I’m going to kind of look up the ones that are available and I’m going to choose one. And especially as we got more and more established over the years, as long as you can be on those lists, there are just tons of lists on the internet. Like these are what people are clicking on when they’re researching, what are the top 10 social media scheduling tools? From the beginning and over the years, we were pretty much on all of those lists. And when you are in a crowded market, it can also be a very stable market because a crowded market usually means that there’s a pretty steady demand for what you’re offering. And that’s definitely something that we found over the years is that the business was just kind of rock solid and stable because people always needed a social media scheduler. And as long as we didn’t massively screw it up, and offer people a good product, there’s always going to be a percentage of people that are going to choose ours, who are looking.
Steven Sauder: How are you able to get on that list? Because I think when you start a company, right, and you’re thinking about marketing, how do you get people to know about it? Like getting on a list, like you’re saying is an awesome thing to do, but how do you break through the market enough so that people, when they’re writing the lists or getting out ahead of it, how’d that work out for you?
Laura Roeder: So this is something that I’ve done with my new company, PaperBell as well. we’re only about a year old, so it’s something that I’m doing now for whatever your niche is, go to that page one that your top term in Google and just literally go through every result. So with PaperBell one of our top terms is coaching software. So if you look at what’s on page one on Google, Captera is on page one, what’s the other one called like software app or get software or something like that. It’s a related site to Captera they’re on page one. So with those, it’s like, okay, we can advertise and we can spend really not that much money and make sure that when someone clicks that link, they’re going to see PaperBell above the fold.
And then I’ve literally just gone through the other articles. Like some of them are articles from, kind of adjacent products or communities and I’ll send them an email and introduce myself and get to know them. And once I form that relationship, I’ve said, Hey you have this post about the top software tool. It would make sense to include PaperBell in this post. If you want our team to put some copy together that matches the style of your article, we can make it really easy for you to update the next time you update it. So you’re going to have a different approach depending on what those results are, but I would literally just go through one by one and kind of brainstorm, okay. What’s my best angle for getting on each of these or each of these lists that are showing up.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s fantastic. So, they say, building a business now I’ve not to your scale of success, Laura, but I have built up a couple of previous businesses and sold them successfully. So, based on my own experience, the only harder thing than building up a business is selling it, as an emotional up and down ride. So what was the process like of selling Meetedgar was it, a pretty emotional up-and-ride affair, what are your reflections on that after a little while?
Laura Roeder: Yeah. It was way easier than building the business. So I guess I just got lucky on that one. I think building, it was a lot harder, than selling it, but also by the time I sold Edgar, I had been out the day-to-day for a few years, we had a team running it. So maybe that’s the reason it wasn’t, I wasn’t very closely emotionally attached at the time. Also, as far as a business, that’s hard to sell certainly made it easier to sell. That I wasn’t integral to the business. It allowed me to sell it and not need any kind of period where I was involved after the sale. I actually published a really detailed blog post, about how I sold my business. So, if you go to LauraRoeder.com, my name you’ll see it on my medium blog there.
Basically, I just cold emailed, a bunch of they’re kind of called micro PE companies that buy SaaS companies. I cold emailed and told them I wanted to sell my business. And, I ended up selling to Sureswift this type of company that buys they’ve bought, I think at this point over 80 kinds of smaller SaaS company companies, knew what they were doing. I mean I have high praises for them. They made the process really smooth and really easy. So for me, it was actually a great experience selling my business not too emotional luckily.
Jonathan Denwood: All right. Why did you decide to sell it?
Steven Sauder: Yeah, so I think the main trigger point for me was PaperBell getting to that product-market fit. So, as I said, I’d been out of the business for a while. I knew that I wanted to start other businesses and when PaperBell hit that point where it’s like, okay, this is people are buying this, it’s working for people it’s going to work. I just felt like it was time, to move on from Edgar. So I could focus my full attention on PaperBell.
Steven Sauder: Do you feel like you were able to transfer a lot of learning, from building Edgar to PaperBell? Or they’re in very different markets and verticals, do you feel like there was a lot of learning from scratch that you had to do?
Laura Roeder: I have been able to transfer a lot and actually, there was another business, in between that failed that I couldn’t transfer as much knowledge. And I learned a lot from that. So, before PaperBell, there was another business that we launched that was, in the dev tool space, a monitoring tool for software developers. And in that experience– I’m not a developer, it’s not an audience that I can, get on stages and speak about. And I kind of underestimated my own audience-building skills, where coaches are an audience that I’m familiar with. There’s a good amount of coaches in kind of my existing following online in our customer base for Edgar. Edgar is obviously not focused on coaches, but it’s focused on freelancers, solopreneurs, small businesses. So, coaches, and consultants are obviously a subset of that.
So, I’ve kind of realized what I know how to do really well is content marketing, self-serve I have no idea how to do sales. I’ve never had a sales team for any of my businesses, but I can bring in volume via SEO and content marketing. Set up a product that People, buy on their own without having any kind of sales team interaction. So when I was looking at PaperBell, I recognized that it was important for me to be able to use those skills. I think we often take our own skills for granted, and we kind of don’t realize the special sauce that we have because it seems very sort of obvious and easy to us. So now I have kind of used and up-leveled, a lot of those SEO content marketing skills that I used for Edgar. That’s also the game plan for growing PaperBell.
Steven Sauder: Awesome. That’s cool. With PaperBell, how did you decide to get into helping coaches with software and stuff? It’s a very different company than Meetedgar was, like why did you choose to build, build PaperBell?
Laura Roeder: So it was actually a scratch your own itch thing. So in that kind of in-between time, after I was out of the day to day of Edgar, I was doing some business coaching and I was looking for a tool like PaperBell. Honestly, I just assumed that it was already a thing because I was like, okay, I just need something where, people can schedule, people can pay, I can do kind of some basic client management. And there are a lot of tools like that, but they’re actually not focused on online businesses. So there’s a ton in the like, salon booking space or like fitness studio, booking space. There are a lot of tools, but they think that you’re going somewhere in person or you’re going to a class where there are just some nuances about coaching.
For example, it’s very common for a coach to sell a package of six sessions and maybe you’re going to do a three payment plan for those sessions. You’d like to sign up for a few of them in the beginning. And then the other three, maybe you kind of add on over time that kind of structure there actually isn’t, and wasn’t a way to use, for example, just a scheduling tool, like Calendly, like Calendly, you can schedule one appointment and you can even put one payment link on that one appointment. But then if you’re a coach right, doing multiple payments, you have to keep doing all that manually. So I honestly just assumed there would be a tool like PaperBell out there. And I found that there wasn’t a good tool. And that’s really how I stumbled across the idea. And I knew that coaching was a very growing industry, that I think will, continue to just get larger and larger.
Steven Sauder: Yeah, so you said earlier that like, you’re, not a technical dev founder kind of person. But, the companies that you started have very technical dev kind of oriented stuff as a lot of SaaS things do. Did you hire a dev person? How did you get into the dev space where you were building a company that relied on software without being a software person?
Laura Roeder: I married one.
Steven Sauder: So, oh, smart.
Laura Roeder: That’s always my Advice
Jonathan Denwood: It does help, doesn’t it?
Laura Roeder: Marry a Software developer? Yes. Not, not everyone likes to work with their spouse. It does. It does, work well for us, but yeah, my husband, Chris is a software developer, so he’s the one who built PaperBell . He also built the whole initial version of Edgar.
Steven Sauder: Awesome. That’s cool
Jonathan Denwood: There’s a tip for you, Steven. Oh, right I think we’re going to go for our break folks. It’s been a great interview so far. We’ll be coming back in a few moments folks.
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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back. if you want to get the WP-Tonic weekly newsletter, where I comment on the latest WordPress and SaaS news of the week in a tongue in cheek way, I think semi-entertaining go over to the WP-Tonic/ newsletter, and you can sign up for that and join the tribe every week in your inbox. So, Laura, it’s a bit of a similar question to the beginning question. You started PaperBell has it been a kind of the same path as what you commented about Meetedgar about content marketing? Or has there been anything about this particular business journey that’s been a little bit different than slightly surprised you?
Laura Roeder: Yeah. I think the reason I emphasized Edgar being in an established category is PaperBell is not an established category. It’s a new category. And I do think I underestimated the difficulty of that because the way we have to market is quite different people aren’t actively looking for PaperBell , people aren’t switching from another tool. They’re either, maybe they use just a scheduling tool. But they don’t use something like PaperBell to manage their whole business together in one place. It’s a new idea for coaches. So that means that marketing is more challenging in a lot of ways. It’s more about just getting in front of our audience.
So a common path for PaperBell is that they’ll find our blog post about, life coach website templates, and then they’ll opt-in for our free report. And then they’ll find out about PaperBell . So it’s still using content marketing. It’s still using SEO, but it’s, a bit of a long process and a lot more customer education, just letting them know, one that this type of software exists much less why it would be beneficial to them and, and why they might want to use it.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, sure. One of the things that come to me, I’m really interested in this. Laura is our major sponsor, Castos Craig, who’s the founder of the company. He’s got this kind of hybrid where he uses the power of WordPress and the platform, but he’s also got some of Castos’ SaaS so he combined kind of WordPress with SaaS, is that something you looked at when you were looking at this new business, maybe mixing the two a SaaS with some element of being on the kind of WordPress platform?
Laura Roeder: I mean, I’m definitely a big WordPress fan. Our marketing site is on WordPress and we were always on WordPress for our marketing with Meetedgar, but I didn’t really consider, obviously you could do PaperBell as a kind of, WordPress integration tool and we might do some kind of WordPress integration in the future. Right now we don’t have anything specific as you can embed PaperBell on your website, but we don’t have it as a specific WordPress plugin, although we could. Tying into an ecosystem like that has a lot of upsides and a lot of downsides, obviously, the upside is if you’re already on WordPress, which lots and lots of people are, makes it even more compelling. But a big challenge with Meetedgar is that we were completely beholden to our partners. our tool was to post to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, if we were to lose access to one of those, the business is kind of over, which definitely made me more gun shy about doing that kind of deep partner tie-in with the next business.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah I totally understand. But one of the attractions to WordPress is it’s open-source, isn’t it? If you were talking about some other established platform your observation would be totally logical. Well, I’m not saying your observation around WordPress isn’t logical because you strike me as a very logical person, but you’re diminishing the risk of being open source. But it’s tricky though, isn’t it? I do understand. That’s why I like Castos cause I think he’s done a fantastic him and his team have done a fantastic job of, utilizing the power of WordPress, but also at the same time, building a kind of SaaS as well and doing, that’s quite tricky over to you, Steven.
Steven Sauder: With where you have like things with PaperBell right now. You’re kind of starting or it sounds like, you like you’re finding your place in your market. You’re getting users, you’re acquiring users. as you’re thinking about growing, because it’s still a fairly young company, do you lean into like the features like we need to add more features and that’s how we get more users. Are you leaning more into the I don’t know, like the SEO like getting into this space and in front of the people and building those connections in the industry, to keep growing?
Laura Roeder: Yeah. I mean I’m hard-pressed to think of a business that can acquire more customers via adding more features because how do they know about the features you added. It’s always the big problem and it’s very tempting as a software business to focus on adding features. I think because, for your own thing, you always have that next vision of it in your head. So you’re always a bit embarrassed by what it, like. I know how I want PaperBell to look next year. So when I look at it now, I’m like, Ooh it seems a bit shotty to me because I have this, in my imagination how much better it can be. A much bigger problem is all the millions of coaches who just don’t know that we exist at all. It’s very unusual that we get someone who doesn’t want to use us because we’re missing a feature. It can happen.
For our market, most people who cancel are like I’m not really doing coaching anymore. It was something I kind of tried like. It’s very unusual that we have someone cancel because we’re missing a feature because like, again, we’re a huge upgrade from what they were doing before, which is sending a hundred emails. Like, okay, now I have to send you a proposal. Now I have to send you an invoice. Okay. Now I have to remember to send you the contract. I have to follow up with you again when it’s time to schedule the next appointment, we’re such a huge improvement over that, which is where most people are coming from that like whatever little feature I think we’re missing is not that big a deal.
So yeah, I think you always have to focus on the kind of like awareness education side rather than, sometimes, of course, you are kind of, especially if you’re being compared to head-to-head with a competitor, it certainly can happen that there’s something that you’re missing, why people aren’t choosing you, but that’s certainly not where we are right now.
Steven Sauder: Yeah. Since you are kind of like early in the market and you’re like in your saying, like the difference between, Meetedgar was like, there are tons of people. Everybody knew like what to Google this. You’re kind of like, you’re trying to do a lot of education. When you’re thinking about content and SEO stuff, do you struggle with like, people are just not Googling the words that they should be Googling?
Jonathan Denwood: They are not googling the right words.
Laura Roeder: Yeah, I mean that’s a huge problem because the problem for us is that they are only our market if they’re a coach, but you often don’t type in So if I’m a coach looking for a scheduling tool, I’m usually just typing in a scheduling tool. It’s a much smaller percentage that’s typing in scheduling tools for coaches or scheduling tools for a relationship coach or whatever. So yeah, that is totally a constraint for us is that the search volume that’s targeted is very small. That’s also made it much easier to rank it’s also because it’s so small, it’s much less competitive people aren’t dying to get on page one. So even being a year old, we have some solid top three spots. And the way I view it is that over time, we’ll build up a great library of resources, and then we’ll keep making them better and better.
Steven Sauder: Yeah. Do you go after those, more competitive keywords at all? Like you say like, oh, we have to get in this because nobody knows about what to Google. So we are trying to compete with some of these, Calendly, and like big dogs out there or you just stay away from it?
Laura Roeder: We try to stay just industry vertical because yeah if we’re ranking for a scheduling tool, I don’t know what percentage 95% of the people looking for that are not our market. So it’s much better if we can capture its lower volume, but if we can find all the different things that coaches are looking for if we can have a blog post that gets in front of them.
Jonathan Denwood: So, Laura, I think you touched on something that was really interested in, in your last reply is that WP-Tonic my own main business is really in building education, is focused on eLearning entrepreneurs and education establishment, building learning platforms on WordPress, but as a marketing tool, as a way of a differential from your competitors, I think deeper learning resources that aren’t solely focused on SEO is also, I see a trend that people, the more sophisticated marketer, CEO are building more educated– They’re becoming a kind of, not only are they offering their SaaS, but they’re offering free education. They’re becoming an authoritative voice in that for people to find resources around their core product. Would you agree with that? And is that something that you’ve been trying to do with your own SaaS product?
Laura Roeder: Yeah, I would say that’s something that we’re building towards, I definitely don’t think we’re there yet, but we do get a lot of feedback just for how helpful people find our blog. I would love to be in a place where we have things like free video courses for how to get more clients for your coaching business? All these kinds of core topics around the business. Cause that’s kind of our specialty. There are a lot of organizations that teach you the skill of coaching, of working, with a client one-on-one, our expertise is how do you have of a coaching business? And I absolutely foresee a future where we could be the best resource out there with lots of amazing free resources on how do you create a really great coaching business.
Jonathan Denwood: It’s not easy, isn’t it? That’s a big investment if you’re going to do it in the right way. So, so is that something that’s really on top of your list or is it one of those mediums?
Laura Roeder: I mean, I think we’re kind of For now, we’re still working through all the SEO topics because for now we still have a list of like things that people are looking for that we can write an article about and that we can rank for. So I think we will, continue to slowly move up in the rankings and then in the future, maybe invest more resources to create yeah, a great video course, for example, that’s on YouTube. We’re a bootstrap business. So the more we raise our monthly reoccurring revenue every month, the more we have to invest in projects like this.
Jonathan Denwood: Right. I think we are going to end the podcast part of the show Laura has agreed to stay on for another 10, 15 minutes. You can watch the whole of, this interview on the WP-Tonic, YouTube channel, plus the bonus content. Going to be asking Laura some more questions and, I’ll be also asking her about being part of the team. What’s that been like? Rob’s a friend of the show he regularly comes on and he and his wife are fantastic people. Going to be asking Laura a bit about that. So Laura, what’s the best way for people to find out more about you, your great company, and, some of the great insights that you shared during the podcast?
Laura Roeder: Yeah. So my company is PaperBell, P A P E R bell, B E L L.com. And you can find me on Twitter @LKR is a good place to find me.
Jonathan Denwood: Just the name is easy I’ve got a bit about these very complicated names for businesses, that’s a nice, easy one. Steven, how can people find out more about you and what you up to?Laura Roeder: Yeah head over to hustlefish.com.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. And we’ll be back next week with another great interview. Do remember to go over to the WP-Tonic YouTube channel, to watch the rest of this interview. We’ll see you next week folks Thanks, bye.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the WP-Tonic podcast, the podcast that gives you a dose of WordPress medicine twice a week.