Monetizing your audience

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Joining me is a former NFL player. He’s here because he realized something that I realized years ago: it is so hard to sell content online to an your audience.

Well, instead of patching together different solutions like I’ve done for a decade, he created a solution.

Drew Strojny is the founder of Memberful, membership software for independent creators, publishers, educators, podcasters, and more.

I invited him here to find out how he built it.

Drew Strojny

Drew Strojny


Drew Strojjny is the founder of Memberful, membership software for independent creators, publishers, educators, podcasters, and more.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of real entrepreneurs. Joining me is a former NFL player. And I’m a little intimidated about that. Drew not because I’m mean necessarily knob, but because I feel like I don’t know Jack about football.

Here’s what, I’m more in awe of dude, drew Strone realize something that I realized years ago, which is it fricking stinks that it’s so hard to sell your content online. I feel like the internet was created for people to sell ads, to other people, to reach their audiences. And I don’t have anything against it.

I get ad revenue. I bought ads. I think it’s fine. But I think it stinks that we didn’t develop an infrastructure for charging our audience because that’s how you get really connected to your audience. Well, I’ve dealt with this for about a decade. I’ve patched together, different solutions, and I made it work for myself and I’ve dealt with in the early days, people being really upset.

How dare you charge? I hate the phrase paywall, but it’s how dare you put up a paywall. But I did it cause I thought it was important to be connected to my audience, charge them something and understand whether they liked my stuff enough to pay for it or not. And if they don’t, that’s fine. I want to, I want to improve, but I wanna improve it for them.

Anyway, what drew decided was, you know, I’m just going to create a solution and he did drew Strone created member full. It allows you to charge for access to your WordPress site, to your podcast, to newsletters communities. It’s a way for you to have a direct relationship with your audience. And he did it back when this was just a ridiculous idea.

He worked really hard at it when it wasn’t making much money, he produced. And then he fricking sold the company to Patrion. And through all of this, I feel like outside of this, like small community of WordPress geeks, people are not talking enough about member full. And I’m excited that we’re going to get to find out how this company was launched, built, and grew, and we could do it.

Thanks to two phenomenal. Again, I’m not against sponsors. Thanks to phenomenal sponsors. The first we’ll host your website, right? It’s called HostGator. It’ll work beautifully with memorable. And the second, um, I even forget what the second sponsor we said we’re going to do is the second one is, um, you know, what, how awkward is that?

I’m just not going to do a second sponsor if I can’t, if I can’t remember it, then I’m not going to talk about it. We’ll just stick with HostGator drew. Good to have you here.

Drew: Great to be here.

Andrew. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Andrew: Drew, how much did you sell the business for?

Drew: Um, I’m actually under NDA. I can’t, um, legally tell you how much I sold the business for.

Andrew: Can we say this? You made more from selling member full than you made in your whole NFL.

Drew: Yes confidently. We can say that and I, I should put an asterisk on your, um, your opening statement there. I was not an NFL star. I was drafted into the NFL.

I did not play in, uh, You know I kind of bounced around, tried to make teams for a few years. So, um, I would, uh, I’d take issue with the star part, but I was there.

Um, I did, um, participate in and I was, you know, kind of a journeyman trying to make, make it, um, and ultimately, uh, that was a three-year kind of episode. Um, but yeah, to answer your question, um, definitely.

Andrew: You know what? That’s kind of awkward, but I’m going to use it to be open with you. I don’t even know the difference. I, to be honest with you, I went on, I saw some photos of you in football gear, and I assumed that you were playing. I saw that you were, um, I guess drafted in 2004 by the giants when you’re in it, but now fully in it.

How does that feel?

Drew: Yeah. Well, it’s tough because you, most of the, the guys that are playing, you know, when, when you were in college, you were considered a star because that’s, you know, that’s why you were drafted. You know, you’re probably one of the best players on your team. Um, but then everybody kind of gets thrown into this new pool.

And if you’re not one of those top tier guys, and it, it’s a pretty jarring, uh, transition to go kinda from like, Hey, I’m the best to do. I’m trying to make the team sort of thing. So it can be, um, psychologically jarring for sure.

Andrew: I’ve kind of had a feeling here doing this podcast for there for the last 10 years of times of, um, I’m kind of on the outside of greatness and not quite there. And in many ways, drew it’s even more frustrating than being completely disconnected. You know what I mean?

Drew: Yeah, I could see that it’s yeah. I mean?

in some ways it can be for sure. I mean, I think, um, You know, specifically, if we’re talking about the NFL specifically, you know, if you, if you, if you also think about it and self-evaluate, you have to realize that there’s, you know, there’s very few players at any time, there might be there’s around 1500 people of the entire human race that are doing it at one time that are actually like on an active roster, which is that that’s obviously an incredibly, incredibly small amount of folks.

So, um, you also have to keep some perspective and that’s helpful and not getting to beating yourself up too much about it, I guess.

Andrew: Did you beat yourself up? Did you use it? Look, I almost made it. I thought I could wheel myself into doing anything. I was I, everything that I’d done up until now almost showed me and proved to me that I could do anything. And now if I’m not out on the field yeah. Then maybe I’m more fragile than I thought.

Maybe I can’t do it.

Drew: You know, I never beat myself up, but it was, uh, you know, it.

was, it was always something where I felt like I, you know, if, if there was a few more things I maybe did, or, or if I had gotten a few more breaks, then maybe things would have, um, gone of slightly differently. But I think at the end of the day, um, I try to be rational about re you know, kind of reality.

And I don’t think there there’s a scenario where I would necessarily would have been like a superstar or anything like that. Maybe I would have played a little bit more or, you know, played for a few more years or something like that. But I don’t. Um, so I mean, at the time that, wasn’t What I was thinking about.

You know, sometimes I think about that now, you know, Hey man, maybe I could have done that differently sort of thing might cross my mind. But at the time I was just really, um, Super focused on, on trying to do it, you know, like working as hard as I could, you know, doing everything I can do. And, and it’s, uh, it’s its own grind.

Uh, and that was, that’s kinda what I, what I was focused on at the time.

Andrew: What do you take away from it that informs the way that you behave at memorable and have behaved? Did you build up memorable? Did you feel, I guess what I’m wondering is do you take away from it? The sense of I got there, I had this vision, I got there and if I could do that, then I could do anything and I could make memorable happen or was it the opposite?

Was it more like I couldn’t get as big as I wanted. And so maybe member full may not, or I’m not going to, like, I guess I’m trying to understand the psychology that drove you and maybe I’m drawing too much of a connection to the NFL.

Drew: Well, I think what it did, Andrew, is it, it actually helped humble me. I mean, when you’re, when you’re a 24 year old kid and you know, you get drafted in the NFL, you know, obviously that can go to your head and. Having to go through that process of getting cut from multiple teams, trying to try to try to make it, um, that was a very humbling process.

And I think that really helped me, um, you know, helped, helped me well building memorable because it, it kind of, it helped get my ego out of the room, so to speak earlier in the process than it, than it might’ve otherwise, if I had say gone on and done wonderful things and just kind of never had that process,

Andrew: just talking about this with my brother the other day, that the sense that invincibility and frankly, even ego I feel drives me and is driven me in a good way for a large part of my life. And when it goes away, I feel less confident. I feel a little more shaky. I second guessed myself.

Why would losing that ego help you?

Drew: I think it helps you relate. People better. So, I mean, I think we all, you know, don’t necessarily enjoy being around someone with a monster ego especially if it’s, you know, also wrapped up in self-centeredness and other things. So I think if you’re able to let go of that, you can build a better connection with others, which can help you?

build a stronger team. And when you’re building a company, um, very little of it is about you. It’s really putting together the pieces of the best people to do the individual pieces of work that need to get done to drive the company forward.

Um, and I think it’s harder to do that if you’ve, if you’ve got a big ego, because you’re going to repel people versus attract them.

Andrew: All right. Here’s where I can understand that it would have helped you, you, you decide you’re going to start your own marketing company 2008. You and I guess we’ll you dating her at the time? We did it dating Jennifer at the time,

Drew: Yes. Yes. Jennifer and I were not married yet. We were dating.

Andrew: And your idea is tabletop ads, not internet ads. What’s the tabletop ad.

Drew: Yeah. So let me back up just a tiny bit. We, we moved to Boise, Idaho, which is, um, kind of weep with football. We’ve been bouncing around to, um, lots of fun places in the country, but nowhere where we had had a lot of choice, we were sailing at that time. We liked to ski lots, or we decided to move out there and just try something totally new.

Um, and at first, when we moved out there, I did, I applied for some jobs and talk, talk to some folks. And, um, you know, I think there’s a, a double-sided thing. We go back to ego a little bit, but I wouldn’t, when I would have those conversations with say Like an interviewer, I would always come away from the interview.

And, you know, this is probably my ego coming back out, but I would say I’m not, I’m never, I’m not doing that. Like I’m going to go do something myself. Like I kind of like, I’m almost in the, like, I don’t, I’m not going to do that job.

Andrew: Like what, what’s a job where you looked at and you said, this is not me. I’m not going to spend my life doing this. Selling cars,

Drew: I don’t, I don’t even to be honest, I just remember having a few, I don’t even remember what the jobs were. I just remember that in the interviews, I felt like it was, um, it was leveling me down to the point where like, I can add so much more value than this. There’s no way I’m wasting any time doing this job, whatever it was.

Um, like in that kind of motivated me to say, I’m going to do no, I’m just going to do something out. I’m going to figure something else out. I can add more value than, than starting this

Andrew: if you’re being nice and saying I could add more value, versus what I would really feel is I’m better than this and maybe you’re trying to hold back on that feeling or am I just projecting myself onto your story?

Drew: No, I think, I think, I think that’s part of it. And, um, I think that was, you know, I you’re right. I was probably, I’m probably trying to, to be a little bit more humble about how I stated it, but yeah, I mean, at that time I just felt like, Hey, this is, I can do more than this. You know, whether you want to say this job’s beneath me or I am, I can do better than this.

Um, you know, but it just, it was, it was very apparent when I would have, after having a few of these interviews, it was almost like I was repulsed by that the whole concept of it. It was like, no, I’m I I’m doing something like this. There’s no way I’m doing that. Um,

Andrew: I get it. And that feels healthy. I’d much rather do that in a moment. Then look back 10 years later and say, why didn’t I think that I could do more than this? Why didn’t I believe in a bigger vision for myself. All right. So you said I’m not taking these jobs. There’s a different path for you. You go with your, with your girlfriend at the time and you start selling tabletop ads at restaurants.

What I picture these like those 10 type things that stick on. That’s what it is.

Drew: Yep.

So we basically, um, we were just brainstorming ideas and, uh, I’m sure not the first person that had this idea, but we, we thought it was creative. Um, and we thought, Hey look, these restaurants in town, there’s a lot of them. And there was, they have a lot of table space. They’re not using, uh, we could sell ads on that space.

And then we could find local businesses that want to get in front of, you know, restaurant goers and, um, sell the ads. And, um, so we just kinda got out there, I put on a suit and started pounding pavement and just going out there and talking to folks and, uh, you know, it was, it was a great experience. We, um, Jennifer and I put up like a big whiteboard, we would like track who was getting the most sales.

And we were like competing to see like, like who would weigh in that sort of thing. Um,

Andrew: Who would you call it?

Drew: We would just walk up, like we would just literally drive around to any business we saw and just like door to door, just knock on the door and say, Hey, is the owner here or whatever it might be. Um, and just walk in and, and try to have a conversation.

And we felt like it was a really good value proposition, um, especially for the restaurants because they didn’t, we were saying, we’re going to cover everything. We are going to print the print, them, put them up, replace them when they needed to be replaced. And you guys in the restaurant would get a cut of the revenue.

They wouldn’t have to do any work. Um, uh, so selling the ads was the tougher, was the tougher part of it. Like actually, you know, convincing a business, a local business that it would be worthwhile.

Andrew: to think of what business would be up for it. It feels like real estate businesses. It’s like a one-person operation. They might be open to it. The local car dealership has money. And so this would be nicely fitting in their budget without them even noticing it. Am I right?

Drew: Yeah, it was a, it was a very diverse mix. And we, we would try to match like if, if it was like a pizza place where a lot of families would be going in a certain area, we would try to match it with like a business that maybe is like a toy store in that, in the nearby shopping Plaza that, that might be, you know, want to get in front of those families, that sort of thing.

So we would try to try to match those things up. Um,

but I, you know, one of the things that I kept hearing, I don’t want to get ahead of things, but, you know, which is kind of a recurring theme and how we ended up with member full. But, um, whenever I would go into these conversations, this was like, you know, 2008, 2009, everyone was, or, you know, even a little bit before that everyone was asking about a website, um, and.

I had done when I was playing in the NFL, like just as a hobby in the off season during the free time I’d have, I would, I was screwing around like trying to like code websites. Cause I thought it was fun and interesting and I, for some reason really, really enjoyed it. Um, so I I’d always kind of done this as a hobby, but I never thought of it as, uh, as, as like an actual potential business.

I actually had probably been a little bit. Try to separate the two and say, Hey, that’s what I do for fun, but That’s not what I would ever do for work. Um, but everybody kept asking us whenever I would go in, everyone would ask me about like, yeah, that’s nice. I don’t really want to do that. But do you know anyone that does websites? Uh, so after hearing that over and over and over again, I finally said, well, you know, I actually do know how to do websites. So we decided to, we decided to pivot and start, um, uh, building websites for folks. Um, and starting saying yes, like, Hey, actually we do that too. Um, you know, and, and that was resonating a lot more than the, uh, than the ads.

Andrew: That’s what I meant by ego. I feel like at that point where they’re all asking you for something and you came up with a great idea, it’s a lot harder to let go of your ego and say, you’re right. You want, this will shift our business into your vision instead of my vision. And it’s, it’s much easier to say we’re the only ones doing this.

Everyone’s going digital. We’ll go analog. We’ll buck the trend. Right. It’s and so you decide, I’m going to listen to my customers. They’re asking for it. I’m going to do this thing. And then you create the, um, actually you don’t create, you just shift your agency towards that. What was the agency called? I saw the website.

It was a combination of your last name

Drew: Yeah, it was called gestural. Yeah. Gestural. Yeah. Um, and basically we just started saying yes.

Um, and, and then writing those contracts and doing small website development for local businesses. And, uh, naturally at that time, WordPress was pretty much the like premier solution for that sort of thing. So.

We, we gravitated to WordPress to build the website. So I had to get familiar with WordPress. So that’s, that’s kinda how we started, uh, down that path. But just to get back to what you said before, I think when you’re starting out and you, you have a vision,

Andrew: Okay.

Drew: at least for me personally, there’s been a real value in having the, um, I guess humbleness to say, maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe let’s try something else. And when you see something that’s books promising, like that’s kind of screaming at you in a way, like having the humbleness to say, Okay.

And the curiosity to say, Hey, I’m going to, why don’t we try that? Like, it’s okay. If the other thing didn’t work, let’s go try that. It seems like people, this is what people are telling us.

Let’s try that.

Andrew: And you know what, in retrospect, this makes sense, but it always in the moment feels bigger and less obvious. All right. And so you decide we’re going to do this now. You’re balancing both businesses, both going out and hunting for people who are going to pay you to put their ads on tabletops and at the same time selling websites, I’m imagining based on what I know about you, you were building the websites yourself, right?

Drew: Correct. Yeah. Um, and I was, yeah, I was doing all that work myself, um, and getting really familiar with WordPress. Um, we were, um, I was mostly designing my own, but sometimes we would take something off the shelf or default theme and modify it. So I was starting to, um, Get interested in that space. And the other interesting thing that we did as a kind of intermediate project before that was, there was, there was a business that we were talking to and we wanted to design a website and they were a physical therapy business in town.

And the owner had also started talking to me and telling me this other problem that he had, that he really needed something to manage his. He had a bunch of physical therapy practices across town and he really needed some software to manage it. Um, And somebody had actually come in and pitched him on a really, really expensive piece of kind of more enterprise software to do this job.

But he was just floored at how expensive it was. So after hearing him talk about it, I, you know, kind of just stepped up and said, you know what, I could build that. Or we could build that for you. So we started kind of pushing that conversation and, and, um, that, and we did, and I hired a developer to, to work with me to build the software and we built the software and we got like a more enterprisey contract.

That was huge for us at the time. Cause it meant like recurring revenue that we could rely on and it kind of helped us make a big step into dropping the advertising side of the business and moving fully into, uh, kind of this agency work. If you will.

Andrew: That was a big step. Why did you say yes to that? Instead of saying, I don’t know enough about developing software, there are bigger companies who could do this. I need to focus on my WordPress business and stay focused. That’s a big question that I wonder for myself too. I, I feel like I often stay so focused that I don’t allow new ideas in.

What was it about you that let you do that?

Drew: Well, I think it was kind of a hunger and scrappiness to, to make money. Honestly, we were, we were starting out, we were young. We didn’t have, like, we had a little bit of money set aside from football, but not much. And this was like, Hey, we were trying to make it. And this was an opportunity. And when he kind of laid out what this other vendor was going to charge for the software, you know, at, um, a 27, 28 year old kid without much money that? like, my eyeballs just got large.

And I was like, Hey, like I started putting some notes together in my head of wait a second. I could, we could build something like this. Like we could do this and, and charge half the price. Um, so I think it was, uh, just like a hunger to, to. To add value and get paid and be sustainable as a business and feel like we were making it.

Andrew: Was it also just a hunger. You needed the money. I think you told our producer, we were at this point in our lives, just struggling to make sure that we put food on the table. Is that right?

Drew: Well, I wouldn’t say that we were, we were worried that like, Hey, we were going to like that. It was the, I mean, a hunger as in like a hunger to like get better and, and, um, yeah.

Andrew: but I, but it feels like, oh, so you were at a point where the business wasn’t making enough money and when you’re not making enough money, it feels easier to say, what else is there? What could we do differently? Versus when things are progressing nicely, you don’t say, how can I shake things up?

Or how do I distract myself to make even, I guess some people do, but you tend, it’s easier when you’re, when you’re, when you haven’t figured it out to keep looking than it is, uh, when you have figured out right.

Drew: right.

I mean, at this point we were going like, you know, a three to $4,000 agency contracts, you know, here and there selling those. And like, you know, of course we were young, we were renting and not pay, you know, like we were, our expenses were ultra low, so it wasn’t like we were ever in a situation where we were particularly worried about it.

But the opportunity to say, Hey, we could take on an eight to $10,000, monthly contract of like, that was huge at the time. I, you know, like, Hey, I could, you know, I can get, you know, that, that, that was a difference maker to like, you know, that’s almost like a salary, you know,

Andrew: yeah. Do anything as a couple to keep yourself going. I remember, I think it was Richard Branson. I’d read a book about how he and his girlfriend at the time would walk through neighborhoods, dreaming of houses. They could buy together. And the sense of we could do this in the future let’s vision together, drew them, drew them to each other.

Do you do that?

Drew: We would ski a lot, um, and as kind of like a way to, to just decompress and get away from it. Um, but to be honest, we worked a lot. Um, and we were kind of just wrapped up in that. I mean, and it was, it was nonstop. Um, and, but we were both bought in, so it never felt, um, the hardest part was figuring out our roles as to what we wanted to be doing and how we could add value.

Because I think, you know, when you’re doing a business with a spouse or a girlfriend or, or significant other, you, it can be challenging, um, to figure out roles where you’re not clashing, you know? Cause you’re already, it’s a lot of time together,

Andrew: Yeah. I don’t know that I could do. I know I can’t do it. All right. And then at some point you said, we’re not going to just create these one-off sites. We’re going to create a set of themes,

Drew: right?

Andrew: was a, that was the right move at the time. There weren’t a lot of people who were creating themes. Uh, web developers and, uh, individuals who needed site or willing to pay for themes, right?

This marketplace was starting to happen. You create it. How did you sell your first team?

Drew: So, yeah, and I think it goes back to similar, less than from earlier where I, as I was working on WordPress using WordPress, I was obviously paying attention to what was going on in that space. And the whole theme business was booming. Like at that time that was, there was like, you know, WooThemes and studio pro or some of these bigger, these companies were yeah. Brian Gardner? Yeah. And I just said, Hey, this looks like a way we should be riding. Like, let’s try it. Um, so I think to start it out, we, I just, we kept the same name. It was, I think we called it like gesture themes, and I just made a theme and released it for free. And. It, it was called vigilance. It was really popular.

We got tons of comments and just like, I think it spoke to the, to the moment of how big WordPress themes were in the 2009 to 2012 timeframe. Uh, and Yeah.

so, so I just kinda, we kinda did it. And then we saw this huge response. We said, Hey, how can we, how can we make money doing this? Maybe we can sell a premium version of this theme.

So we tried that and it, and it worked. And we started getting revenue from that and we kind of just, just kept chipping away and then saying, adding, oh, let’s do another theme. Let’s do another theme. And we just kind of kept doing that and things were going incredibly well. Um, And we eventually decided that at one point we were making so much more.

Money from the theme business that we decided to shift entirely into that. So it’s just another example of where we completely pivoted into almost a, you know, an adjacent business, but, but very different,

Andrew: And so now it was called the theme Foundry and you had this theme business, and then the next thing you wanted to do was not have these one-off sales

Drew: right.

Andrew: become, have a membership site. I re I remember those days, I was just too, I think I was too frustrated and too embarrassed to talk about it, but I was looking for software that would work.

And here’s the part that I was embarrassed by. Everyone told me to try a member. think it was supposed to get a members founder on a long time ago to do an interview, but he wasn’t comfortable with doing it. I was curious about how well that business was doing, even though I couldn’t figure it out.

Usually with WordPress, what you do is you just install a plugin and you’re done with a member. You’d have to download it FTP over to your site. We’d have to create a new directory. You’d have to upload a member files into the directory. You’d put it all in there and all for the thing that was considered shameful at the time, which is charging your audience.

You should not have charged her audience back in, let’s say 2008, 2000, 2010, the internet was meant to be free. And so I just suffered with it and everyone kept telling me it’s not that hard. Just get it. I know what FTP is. Don’t tell me, just get it. It’s not working. You said it’s not working. I’m going to create my own.

Why? Why didn’t you say I’m smart enough. I’ve hired people to create software. I’ll just hire someone to do AML.

Drew: Yeah. So it’s funny, Andrew, we, when we decided to shift to making it subscription based, because we felt like it was a more sustainable way to sell this, to sell this product and support the product. Um, the only option, the only viable option at the time was a member. Uh, so we of course used a member, um, and I’m kind of a web designer.

I, you know, I was in a web design, user interface design and things like that. And I was, um, I was appalled by the whole experience. It was just, I would go to word camps and talk to friends and we would talk about how, like, why are we building that membership plugin? Because like a members just, we hate it.

Like we, we can’t, you know, um,

Andrew: not just feeling it on your own. You’re talking to other people who are, who hate it too, which creates this understanding that it’s not just you and your sensibility and your design eye and your need for got it. And that created this sense of, of opportunity that other people hadn’t discovered.

And by the way, I should say this to anyone who’s listening in the audience. First of all, they’re not seeing you. Um, you’re, you’re very good looking guy. You’ve got really good design eye, even your hair. I I’m so proud. I got such a good haircut. I complain about my hair a lot. I got great haircut. But you’re also like this nerd.

I I’ve gone back in time and I see the nerdiest things that you’ve done online. Like your website used to talk about the, the software tools that you use to build people’s websites. Um, you would talk about the value of FTP. You’d speak at word camps, which is why I think I first saw you in like the geekiest.

Here’s how to do PHP, this and this. Like, we’re not talking about somebody who’s, who’s out of his league where somebody who we’re talking about, someone who’s in this space who should know it. Right.

Drew: Yeah. And, um, I’ve always felt that I’ve always had an interest in website development, software development that, that whole space, but I’ve also had a, a strong interest in business generally. So I’ve studied. Um, you know, I read a lot of annual reports. I’ve read probably everything related to Warren buffet that’s ever been written.

Um, I read, um, conference call transcripts. I, I, my other area that I love studying is business. Like actually, you know, like business. So I think the, those two things were very helpful in, in getting me to a place where, you know, They helped me develop like a somewhat successful business, I guess.

Andrew: I get that. You know what? I’m happy to hear you say that because when we asked you in the pre-interview, what did you do as a kid to get a sense of whether even as a child, there was any entrepreneurial leanings you said I worked at McDonald’s. My sense was. That you are the kind of person who would read up on business ideas.

And here’s why when I was growing up and went to the Hillcrest library, there were all these books about different businesses started by somebody. And it was, there’d be these accumulation of stories that would be designed to fire up your imagination. And also in the pre-internet age to say, look, what’s done in the other side of the country, you could bring it to your side of the country and make money from it.

And one of those ideas was those placemats at diners. It was always some story about someone who discovered the placemats at diners, have all this space on the side and could make money by printing up the placemats with the menu. And on the side have like the, all these, you know what I was looking up to see what kind of ads it was like a perm ad would be on the side of your menu that told you about what bacon and eggs would cost.

I wondered if that’s where that original business idea came to you from.

Drew: It might’ve had it to be honest, if it was, subconsciously maybe from the McDonald’s days, it could be. I honestly don’t remember, but yeah, that, that very well

Andrew: were feeding your brain even as a kid by reading the types of books I’m talking about.

Drew: definitely. And I was, I was just into finding ways like business ideas are all like that, that whole world was always super exciting to me. So I was always absorbing as much as I could and learning about what was going on in the business world, what, you know, what types of businesses were successful, what was working, what wasn’t working.

Um, and I always kind of, even obviously to this day, it’s still a very, it’s very interesting to me. And, um, that’s what I like to do.

Andrew: All right. Let me take a moment. Talk about my first and only sponsor since I couldn’t remember my second spot. Um, it’s HostGator and usually in the HostGator ads drew, what I like to do is ask my guests if you had nothing but a hosting package and you had to start a new business, what would it be? And we’ve had some interesting ideas.

I want to riff a little bit with you about how, if somebody was starting right now and said, I’m going to go to HostGator. I’ll host a WordPress site and I’ll go to a member full and I’ll add onto it a membership. What could I sell? I have a couple of ideas. In fact, I’ve one direction I’d love to hear. If you have any ideas based on your experience, working with hundreds of membership sites.

Um, thousands, I guess at this point, um, one thing that I would say is everyone always thinks sell. The content without the ads. I don’t think that people are willing to pay extra, to have ads removed, except for a select group of people who are really delicate. I think what people are willing to pay for is the, the how to, and the results.

So if, uh, There’s someone who just did a pie. I’ll talk about podcasting since this is kind of interesting to me, there’s, there’s someone who just did a podcast about, um, bit cloud, which is this new Twitter, like platform that include, that includes cryptocurrency. What he’s doing is he’s talking to the people who are building the platform and the people who are on the platform.

He can take his old interviews and sell them. He can say, I’m going to cut off one of my interviews and then sell the rest of it just to my members. I don’t think that’s what, what it works, how it works. I think what he could do is. I just talked to someone who did this incredible thing. If you’re a member of mine, I will do a screen cast where I show you how to build something like him.

I just showed you how somebody did this, uh, investment fund on bid clout and look at how much money they made. If you’re a member, you’ll get to watch a video of me and him showing step-by-step how he structured the fund so that you could create something like it. Basically what I’m saying is people will not pay to eliminate ads enough.

That’s not a big market. They won’t pay for more of what you’ve got. Right. They will pay for results that they could get themselves. And that’s, that’s a simple thing to think about when you’re, when you’re selling content drew, you have more experience. I should shut up and ask you, what do you recommend?

Drew: Yeah, I think you’re on the right track there, Andrew. I think ultimately it comes down to people are willing to pay, to be part of a community where they learn. So, you know, and, and that, that kind of encapsulates, encapsulates the whole thing. Like if you, if you’re interested in learning how to be a better podcaster or building a podcast business, having a space, a community space where you can interact with somebody who you really look up to, who’s had a lot of success in this space who can kind of guide you, not only with content, but interaction, whether it’s, you know, something like, uh, a private webinar or just like, Hey, we’re we get on a discord server together and we can chat through.

And there’s other people that are running into the same problems I’m running into. But if you can kind of. To me, the ads. And like you said, those are nice to haves, but that’s not how a community, you know, you really need to think of it more as community building and kind of like bringing people together around a common interest or curiosity. Um,

and that’s what gets people really excited to, to kind of like join and feel like they’re part and worth paying for.

Andrew: That’s a good point. I keep thinking about what’s the content that people would pay for. Um, but community is another thing that people would pay for. And the fact that, uh, the other community members are paying means that there’s some screening process and it means that there’s an urgency and a need to get results and to be there, um, that people are willing to pay for, by the way, it does memorable work with discord.

Can somebody sell on their WordPress site, access to a discord server? And when they stop paying their monthly fee, you remove them from

Drew: Yes. Yes. So we’ve got a dedicated discord integration that works. You literally just click a button and get connected to your discord server, set everything up and we handle all that, you know, automatically, you don’t even have to think about it.

Andrew: Oh, that’s great. All right. So listen to me, people, whether it’s any of the ideas that we’ve just helped create for you or any other ideas that you’ve got. If you want to install WordPress, go to They’ll make it really easy for you to get started. And if you use my URL, they’ll even reduce their already low price and allow you to get started in business.

And as you grow, they’ll grow with you. They have bigger and better hosting packages that will grow, uh, that grows your business grows. Here we go. Go get them. Start, go get started with it. And of course it’ll work with memorable. All right. So you decide, you know what, I’m actually going to pay somebody to build this just so you could sell your own themes.

Did you start getting a membership? Uh, did you start making enough money with the membership to pay, to hire a developer?

Drew: Yeah.

So like during that time period, like I said, 2009 through 2012, themes were just blowing up and, and the business was going incredibly well, but this was a constant problem. Uh, at least from a user experience standpoint in my mind. And it was an opportunity because there just was nothing else out there.

Um, so basically what I did is I, I hired a developer. We basically set aside a a hundred thousand dollars to say, let’s go after this opportunity. I’m going to hire a developer to work directly with me to build this software. Um, so, um, we found a developer in the United Kingdom. He was at the time still at university.

Um, we agreed to work together and we set out building what is now memorable. Um, and I basically did it moonlighting while we, you know, the theme Foundry was kind of paying the bills and that wasn’t my main focus, but then. Uh, nights, weekends, any other time that I had, I was working on a memorable,

Andrew: But this was just for you, or did you in the back of your mind from the beginning? No, we’re going to sell this to as a, as a plugin for others.

Drew: the business plan was to sell it at some point it was, but we first needed to show that we could do it and use it. And we felt like we, because we were doing decent volume and had an actual need for this sort of software, that it would be a great, um, a great way to test it out and make sure that it was something that w what we thought it was.

Um, so we spent about six to nine months building it, and then we flipped everything over and started running our actual business, that the boundary business on this, this new beta memorable software where the, you know, kind of the first customer, um, and everything worked. And we started processing lots of volume through it.

And obviously there were hiccups and, um, we needed to fix things, but, uh, It was working, uh, and, uh, that was exciting,

Andrew: I saw that I saw the site for, I think it was two years had nothing but a coming soon, enter your email address if you’re interested a page on it. And then you flip the switch. One day, I was just going through the internet archive month after month looking for this wage. And then I saw the switch and the switch was, if you want it pay us.

I think it was just 2% of your revenue. Plus you had Stripe integration pretty early on. You appreciated the value of Stripe plus whatever Stripe fees you have to pay on your own. And that was the beginning of it, right?

Drew: right? Yep. And we basically blast it out to everyone. That we are lists from the theme Foundry and everyone that I knew in the WordPress community and, and said, Hey, this is, we’re opening this up for a paid beta. If you actually want to use this, legitimately, use it for your project, get in touch. We can get you an account.

It’s going to just be that 2%. Um, And we started getting folks contacting us and signing up.

Andrew: And what it allowed people to do was they could make downloads available to their members, which is huge. Um, did you also let them tag pages as for members only.

Drew: Yeah.

so we, it was a memorable is, is like a software as a service. Uh, but then we built the WordPress plugin to interact with a member, full API, to do all the updating and like, if you want to protect pages and all that stuff. Um, so one of the key value props early on was. It would separate that kind of like business critical infrastructure from WordPress because WordPress, there was, you know, what if my word press site gets hacked?

What if my servers go down? Like I’ve got all my business information, I’ve got all my, like, this is, you know, five years worth of paying members and everything else. I can’t afford for this to just disappear or get hacked one day. Um, so we, we abstracted away all that logic so that if, but if your WordPress site got hacked, for some reason, you were fine, like everything was still running.

Your membership was running. You just get up a new WordPress site, plug it in to your, to your memorable. And it just will restart. The whole process of everyone will get put back in. You don’t have to worry about losing everything. Um, and that was, that was very appealing at the time. Um, you know, comparatively to what was out there.

Andrew: Which frankly WordPress was getting high. I remember my WordPress site got hacked so much. Viagra ads were all over the freaking place. And then I, I complained to Matt Mullenweg, which to his credit, he was not only responsive to it. He helped me figure out what to do to get through it. Chris Pearson said, give me access to your, to really, uh, different people, crispy persons, uh, Pearson said, give me your username and password, let me go and solve it.

And he fixed the problem from what I remember, but it was, it was pretty involved. It was an issue that was there’s one upside of doing it. The other upside for you drew was unlike, um, a wishlist member, which put all the code on people’s websites. They were not allowed to like obscure, obfuscate their code, because if it’s on WordPress, WordPress says, look, we’re making our code available to everyone.

If you want to create a plugin for our platform, make your code available to everyone too. They didn’t want to do that. And they were worried that if they did, then people would just copy their code and go away. You didn’t have that issue because the logic, the database, et cetera, was on your servers.

Drew: Correct? Yeah. So it was a kind of a cloud based solution where we, we hosted and owned all our own code and all that logic and everything that was going on. Uh, so we could, we didn’t have to worry about that, that whole problem of, of, uh, sharing all this and, and or it getting out in the wild and, You know, getting pirated and other things like that.

Andrew: You were also, um, I’ll eat red, getting real the base camp book, I imagine. Right. I could

Drew: I have,

Andrew: influence.

Drew: I have, yes. Yes, definitely.

Andrew: these were the people who at the time were saying, every software could go or software should go to the cloud. People are constantly upset about the airplane issue, which means, well, if your stuff is in the cloud and you’re disconnected from the internet somewhere like on an airplane, then you can’t use it.

So we don’t want to ever buy it. And they said, well, how often are people in planes? And in the future, people in planes will have internet, which of course they were write about all that. And so you’ve bought into their vision. And you said, I’m on that vision too. You created the software and still first few months, not much revenue from what I understand after launch.

Drew: Correct. And just on that point of funnily, we almost built memorable as a downloadable product, kind of like a wishlist member. And we, we had started down the pathway to actually started building it. And I think I just had a strong inclination that this was not the way that software was going to be built in the future.

And we were making a big mistake by going in that direction. So we basically, I had the, the developer that I hired, he was a specialized in PHP and I hired him because we were going to build it as a downloadable product. Right. I had this strong inclination. This is not the future of what we like, what software is going to be.

Um, so I said, let’s build it on Ruby on rails. He had never used Ruby on rails before. And so he had to, like, he went on a crash course to learn Ruby on rails. He actually got pretty excited about it because it was new and exciting, any, any, any liked it. And so we, we just kinda like jumped in. Um, but it was, I guess we almost made a big mistake.

Uh, if we had made a downloadable product, I don’t think it would have been successful.

Andrew: Who is this? This is Matt Gemmel

Drew: Uh, yeah. His name was Matt button. actually. Uh, yeah,

Andrew: Okay. And so, oh yeah. Now I see him on a different sites talking about, so you decide to do this. Why do you think that there weren’t enough sales in the early days?

Drew: so, like I said, we, we started slow or like you said, we started slow, um, I don’t have a good answer to why there weren’t a lot of goods. I mean, maybe we weren’t doing a great job of marketing. Um, but the thing that we, it was, it was consistent, Andrew, it wasn’t, it was slow, but consistent in the way that I’ve always thought about building businesses, which has been to our detriment at times is to do it in a very bootstrapped way.

So always like putting like profitability first, uh, which is obviously not the fastest way to build a business, but it’s still a, uh, it’s a more conservative way to build a business. But that was kind of very much how I thought about things. So to me, it was how can we get this to profitability so that we can continue investing in it.

And then, then what’s the next step from there? Um, so we, it was, I wasn’t expecting. Uh, things to take off and grow really quickly. I was, I was more being conservative of like, how can we, how Can we bootstrap bootstrap this into a profitable business?

Andrew: Can I put two theories out there too. I really disagree with me. If, if, uh, if, if that’s how you feel, one of them is I think that creating a membership site is a lot more challenging, both emotionally and intellectually than other than it than it should be. So for example, you have to first be willing to charge your customers, which is a hard thing to do compared to let’s get some code off of Google.

I’ll put it up on my site and then I’ll complain that I’m not making enough from advertising from Google. Right? It’s easier to do that, to figure out what am I going to sell to sell to your customers? There’s a lot of marketing copy. It’s a lot of creative, creative copy to figure out what to do. It’s a pretty hard thing to add to a business, right?

Drew: Absolutely it’s to do it. Right. It requires a lot of upfront work and planning. And I think that that it’s not something where it’s like, Hey, I’m just gonna, you know, start a Twitter account and start tweeting or something like it, there’s a lot more foresight that goes into it. And, you know, honestly, Andrew, I think the other thing was that it was, we were a bit early.

Um, I think we, we got lucky with this wave that came along starting in 2000 13, 14, 15, I would say where, um, Google and Facebook started kind of like moving into the ad market in a big way. And they totally changed how everybody was thinking about this because before people had kind of relied on. Piece together ad driven solutions.

And they were making a living using that and Google and Facebook kind of just cruised in and blew that whole ecosystem up. And that created this separate wave where everybody was suddenly looking for like, Hey, I need a new way to do this because that, that just fell apart. And we were lucky that we were, we were in that space already.

We were a little bit early to that space, but then when it started to become a thing and people, it started really taking off, we were able to kind of accelerate into that opportunity.

Andrew: I think that, um, When I was talking earlier about how it’s not enough to say as a member, if you’re creating membership content, I’m just going to offer more of what I’m currently offering for free to paid members. don’t think that’s the best solution, but you know what, now that I think about it in this context, maybe that’s the easiest thing to suggest to people to get started with, to say, if you’re doing the podcast three days a week at a fourth one for members only if you’re writing email newsletters have one a week, that’s just for members only.

And frankly, that’s what sub stack has done. They’ve essentially said, just offer your stuff for free. And then when you’re ready to charge for some of it, you can charge. I don’t think that’s ideal, but maybe I’m overthinking it by saying that’s not the right way. Just maybe that is the way to get started.


Drew: definitely think that is a way to get started. Uh, it’s always easier. And from our experience, if you’ve got the audience and you take the time to plan something, That adds some value to that audience and you put some thought into it. You’re almost certainly going to do really well with membership. Um, but even just taking a first step, like you mentioned, if you’ve, if you’ve taken the time to build an audience and you’ve doing, you know, four free posts a week and you decide to start doing one paid one, um, you know, that’s, that’s a great way to kind of test the waters and, and, and see, you know, start, start building that, and then you can kind of add value as it goes sort of thing.

Andrew: All right. The second thing I’m going to say is how are you doing on time? I know we’re going to go a little over, are you okay with it?

Drew: I’m good. Yep.

Andrew: All right. You know, I’ve gone through your archives. I’ve gone through all kinds of stuff in the past. I think the other reason is you are much more likely to respond to a comment on your site than to respond to a con controversy on the general internet.

I’ve gone back 5, 6, 8 years. You’ll write a blog post. Somebody will write a two sentence, sentence, nothing. And there’s a comment from drew. Thank you. Like you’re much more engaged with your world and much less in like the Chris Pearson versus Matt Mullenweg argument, much less engaged in the future of membership.

And why should we run ads? Like that’s not you, am I right? You’re quieter that way.

Drew: Yes. And I think it’s partly how I choose to live my life from a, like what I put my focus and my time and my energy into. And I’ve always been someone who cares about putting that focus and time and energy into what I’m working on and what, what I can influence versus getting wrapped up in a, too much, an outside world, outside drama, outside news, All those types of things that can conflict suck lots of energy, create lots of anxiety, uh, all of those, all of those things.

So I’ve kind of been very intentional about, um, Sticking to my knitting, if you will.

Andrew: All right. And so then the one thing that, or not one, the one thing, one of the things that you had going for you was you didn’t need this to be the big payoff. You were just going to build your theme business at the theme, Foundry, sell your own membership, and then over time allow people to, um, To discover member full to sign up.

And so you told our producer, I think it was the first couple of years, you know, first three years you said it was a slog from 2012 to 2015 revenue was 5,000 a month, but we had the theme fi Foundry. So there was no pressure on you to do that. And then again, going through the internet archive, I saw you experiment with different pricing.

What if we charge a monthly fee plus a percentage of sales? What if we have enterprise that’s a hundred dollars a month plus 1% of sales. What if we, right. You’re experimenting. You’re trying of all these different experiments, marketing, pricing, anything. What helped, what was it that helped you get the most growth?

Drew: Yeah. To be honest, it, her, I think what really helped us was That shift in the market more than like we have recourse we’re experimenting with the pricing, but I don’t think that was a, I don’t think that was a major driver and what ultimately helped us have a lot accelerate our growth. Basically it was, I think it was that kind of step change in the market where the whole situation changed.

And all of a sudden there was an intense interest in membership as like, you know, and that, that we were naturally already there and already working hard to build a solution in that space. So it, it, it, I think that was the most helpful.

Andrew: That the world came around to your worldview and it’s hard to express enough how anti charging people were. They felt that it was a violation of the trust that they had with online creators, for the creators to charge. But also there was some intellectual ism coming into play, where there was these phrases about the internet wants to be free.

And I forget the books that were really popular expressing that. And the combination of the two pushed us more and more towards an advertising first economy, which is where Facebook thrived and that’s, that was their world. And then people started to dip their toes and let’s charge the audience started have results.

And I think even earlier, People who didn’t have big audiences, but we’re creating solid content for them found that the better way to make money in the early days was advert was, excuse me, was membership or charging for content. And when that happened, then there was a shift. Then there was this belief I can, I don’t have to go out for advertising.

I don’t have to have even thousands of people or hundreds of thousands, which is what you might need for a good ad business. I could have a few people,

Drew: Yeah. And I think the internet has uniquely enabled that it just took a while. The world to wake up to that opportunity and that you take, you know, all of humanity that’s online and, and then you, then you take your niche and you only need to capture a very, very, very, very small part of that audience. And you could, for a lot of people replace a full-time job at the New York times or wherever it may be and the internet, I mean, it makes that possible.

And I think, I think it just took awhile for people to really wake up to the, to the reality of that.

Andrew: So the first, I feel like the first stage of the internet was no ads, no nothing, no revenue. In fact, if there was any monetization, people are angry. Then banner ads came in, advertising became the second wave of payments on the internet. This then we’re now in the third way of dealing with money on the internet, which is we could charge charging is not only acceptable.

It’s probably healthier for the customer, for the audience, for the whole industry than advertising. Tell me what you think of this next way of this is what I think the next one is probably going to be not consumers, but investors. Imagine if drew, instead of me charging for access to my community, say $25 a month.

I say, if you invest in the, I dunno, the Andrew Warner community coin buy a hundred dollars worth of. You get access to the community. At some point you might actually graduated from the community because you’re not in the startup space anymore, but you still have one of my coins. And if you, if it’s more valuable than what you paid for it, instead of paying a hundred dollars, instead of charging someone else, a hundred dollars for it, maybe you charge $500 for it because the thing has grown five times.

Good for you. Yeah. Now made $400 from this coin. You’ve made a good investment in Andrew Warner’s community. You’ve gotten five X, your return. And I, Andrew, maybe as the person who, who minted the coin gets 10% of it, of the upside. So that for me, there’s an interest in seeing all my investors do better, but they also have an interest in not just consuming the product, but investing in it.

If they add more content to the community, if they respond to people’s help requests, if they bring in more, more people to talk and the right people into the community, it’s going to increase their value. What do you think of that as like the next step?

Drew: I think it’s interesting. I think, um, it’s almost like,

Andrew: Hmm,

Drew: Hey, I’m going to start my membership business, but I’m going to sell shares in that business to members. So I’m almost like making it a, a community effort. I mean, I think I’m not good at predicting the future. I guess I’m good at, I feel like I have, I can be pretty good at seeing the, uh, when something is happening.

I, um, I think it’s definitely an interesting concept of this kind of like not only support, but invest in and be part of the journey together. Uh, I think that definitely is like going even a step further into the kind of like, let’s make this a community where we’re all vested in the city. Uh, interest.

So I think there’s, uh, definitely potential there.

Andrew: Um, I’m curious about that. It feels like there’s something to this and I’m just constantly hunting to see what there, what there could be and how I could be a part of that. All right. Let’s talk about Patrion. How did the deal come across to you? How did you end up selling to them?

Drew: Yeah. So we were, they reached out to me in early 2018. And at that time, like, like I mentioned, the things were slower from like 12 to 15, but then from the 15 to 18 time period, uh, you know, the stuff really started accelerating again. I think the market started accelerating and we started seeing like really pretty phenomenal growth.

And so the business at that time was doing incredibly well. And like I mentioned earlier, Our approach to business has always been, how can we build something that’s profitable? And then how can we like, what’s our next step? So like, how can we get, uh, start making $2,000 a month? How can we start making 5,000?

How can we start making 10,000? And we would always say, Hey, if we can, if we can, if we can just get to say $10,000 a month in revenue will be set forever. We never have to worry about anything. Um, and then, but then once you get there, you kind of have this kind of the, this human, psychological condition where you’re like, okay, well, what if we could get to 15,000?

So we kind of taken this very like, uh, methodical approach to, to, to all this. But, so, so at the time we weren’t, we weren’t even thinking about anything related to an acquisition. So patriotic kind of reached out and said, Hey, We know we’re in the same space. We’d love to just kind of catch up and chat. So, so we had a few phone calls, um, and then, uh, they said, Hey, it’d be great if you’d come out to California and kind of like meet the team, um, you know, It wasn’t, they weren’t insinuating at that time.

Like, Hey, we’re, we’re making an offer to buy your company or anything. They just said, Hey, it’d be great if you could come out. And, um, so I went out to San Francisco, I met Jack, I met, I met the team impressed with, um, kind of the, the mission that they were on and how aligned it was with what we were doing and, and how I thought about membership and creators and, you know, kind of connecting those two things.

So, you know, after that trip, then they kind of started, uh, Saying, Hey, would you be interested in maybe selling my referral? And I said, well, you know, I haven’t really thought about it, but I guess it depends on what you’d be willing to pay for memorable. And so we kind of started down that route. Um, and you know, the whole thing was actually pretty quick, especially, you know, hearing from other folks how long these things can kind of take, but, um, the deal closed in June.

So we were, we basically that whole process, um, really didn’t start until maybe March where they were kind of like, Hey, would you be interested in this? And we were able to close a deal in June. Um, so yeah. Is that helpful? Yeah.

Andrew: It is. And so I actually looked at the tech crunch article, announcing the deal. They said you only had seven people on the team.

Drew: Yeah. And, uh, yeah, we, we were small. Um, and actually we might’ve even had, that might be high if I try and I’m trying to think, I think we might’ve only had four at the time. Um, but it was a situation where again, we were kind of taking it slow as far as like, we, we weren’t going to, we didn’t want to lose money.

We weren’t going to hire people until we, we could afford to hire people in a very profitable way. Um, so that was kind of a, a consequence of how we were approaching the business, that the number of folks that we had on, on board at that time,

Andrew: The other thing, tell me if I’m understanding this right. You also don’t want to build the whole tools from the ground up. You’re not recreating WordPress. You’re also not recreating MailChimp. You’re saying. Use whatever content, uh, software you want. Well, not whatever, but use the most popular ones. We will help you give access to members.

So you’re not recreating the community software. You’re saying you could use discord, you can use, I think a WordPress theme, a WordPress, a chat, um, you don’t do end to end. So if I want to create an email newsletter and charge for it, if I understand you, right. I bring my own, my own software in. Right. And then you just, you just let people pay.

Drew: Correct. So we’re kind of where. For people that care about having like a more decentralized approach where they have their own Stripe account, they have their own MailChimp account. Uh, they have their own discord server and they have all these tools and we kind of glue them together and make it really easy and focus on the membership portion.

So like really reliable renewals, great.

membership management experience, uh, making sure that all those connections are really solid and reliable, um, amazing customer service so that if you ever have any kind of issue where I’ll actually jump in and help you with it, you know, I know Andrew you’ve dealt with this, but I mean, if you, sometimes, if you had a, kind of an old, clunky WordPress plugin and you’re, you’re trying to get help, it can be, you know, you’d be pulling your hair out, trying to like, w I want someone to fix this for me.

And I don’t, I can like, we’re actually, you know, we’re maintaining the software so we can jump in and, and, um, and get hands on and help people, which is when, when it’s your livelihood and, and your, your business. It’s that, that, that really matters.

Andrew: no, you guys are really good from the beginning throughout history of your company, your existence, maybe online, drew your customers, get a lot of attention. You readers get a lot of attention, but I would even say to this day, You, and  still, don’t go out and talk and become part of the conversation. I’ll give you an example of where, where that comes into play.

How many people are talking about sub stack? It became a thing in 2020 and to the early part of 2021, there is no drew going out there and saying, this is great for the creator economy. Do the whole BS. I’m not going to put them down, but at the same time, some creators, especially the bigger players, want to be able to own their audiences and charge what they want and be able to switch from one email provider to the other based on deliverability and not count on any one person.

This makes sense for people in the early days, maybe when they don’t have a lot of customers, but guess what? Eventually they’re going to have a lot of customers and paying 10% to sub stack is going to be too painful. You’re not out there saying the whole thing. Apple in Spotify, early part of 2021 this year, both announced that people could pay.

Podcast creators for their subscription. I only know because I know memorable that you allow the same thing to happen on your platform across these different podcasting apps. People don’t have to limit themselves to apple. They could toss out the apple phone and switch over to another device and be perfectly okay on Samsung with their membership.

But you’re not part of that conversation. There is no, like we got to get out there. We got to tell people that this is, this is what it is. It’s more like there’s a customer who has a problem in installing our plugin. And it’s great for your customers. It just makes me feel like, ah, I wish you would fight and tell the world about this and how it exists and stand up for the creators who need to know that there are more options to need to feel.

Maybe it’s still me feeling like people don’t know that they should be charging online for content. And I want more people to know it. What do you think about that? All that fair analysis.

Drew: a hundred percent fair. And I think you’re, you’re, you’re spot on Andrew. I think this is just, you know, my personal failing of not being great. Like, you know, you mentioned it early in the conversation, but it, it doesn’t fit that sort of, uh, Doesn’t fit me. So I’ve kind of neglected that in the business. Um, but we’re changing that, um, we’ve, we’ve hired a head of marketing.

Her name is Tiffany. She’s amazing. And, and we’re going to go after all of those things that you were just talking about, Andrew, and we’re going to work on, uh, get our voice out there. We’re going to, um, we’re going to push in cause I know it’s, it is super important, but what you’re describing is more of a personal failure of mine that it, you know, because it didn’t fit with my personality of how I like to build a product and the things that I like to focus on, I pretty much neglected that part of the business for a very long time.

Um, which as you know, you know, marketing is, is, is an important part of any business.

Andrew: There’s some people who just have a flare for it and have nothing underneath it. I won’t, I won’t start naming them because they’re going to be pains in the neck about following up. And I’d rather be yours on your side where the is great, where there’s more attention there and less to marketing. But I can’t believe  is on your platform.

Benedict. Devin’s either the two biggest names of like in tech of here, the confidence here’s what can be done. How many times are they mentioned? How many times did Jason Calacanis talked out about a M sub stacks, future being shaky because eventually these people grow and become so big that they don’t want to pay a 10% fee.

They don’t want to be locked in. You’ve got the solution. Anyway, I’m not doing this to, to, um, I’m not doing this to be hurtful. I’m not even doing this to shake, shake your business. I’m doing this because partially I, I want an internet where people are more willing to pay for content than take it for free.

Um, and where my audience is more comfortable selling content. Then, then, um, just accepting that they can’t do it or doing it for free or doing it for the likes or doing it for whatever. Um, and also if I ask a question this way, I get a better sense of my guests. And I think I’m understanding how member fill became what it is today and what your vision is for the future of it.

Drew: Yeah. And I think the important thing to point out Andrew is like, we’re focused on is giving you choice and ownership. And that, I mean, you know, that like with everything going on with platforms, you know, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, like if you’re going to build a business around you yourself, or a brand for the next decade or decades, like, do you want to have more ownership of that?

Or do you want to have, do you want to kind of just hand that problem over and all of that control over to one of these big brands? And I think people are starting to realize that like, Hey, these big brands, the Twitters, the Facebooks, they’re grateful. Acquisition building an audience, connecting to an audience, but you need a place to bring that audience home, where you have, where you control.

It’s not controlled by one of these platforms, but it’s like, Hey, this is, this is my home on the internet. You might have heard about me on Twitter. You might’ve heard about me on Facebook, but ultimately, you know, you can come home to this space that I’m building in this community where that you can be part of it.

If, if you’re, you know, really excited about what we’re doing.

Andrew: It also allows you to create your bundle. I like where Apple’s going. I like where Spotify is going, where they’re allowing podcasters like me to sell on their platforms. They’ll collect payment. They’ll give us the money. They’ll take the big fee. Um, actually Spotify won’t take a fee, but obviously if they’re working through apple and they’re going to have to kick back to apple, which means I would have to give up some of my money.

But what it doesn’t allow you to do is create a bundle. How many times do we listen to podcasts? Where we say, I do want to talk to the host and ask him something. I do want to have a direct connection to other people who heard this to say, Hey, did he just say that thing that I just think he said, I want to have more of this complete package.

And I feel that’s what member full allows people to do. All right. We’ve learned a lot here. I think, um, I think that there’s still even frankly, more for me to understand about, about the member full business. Um, I’m happy and appreciate that you were willing to come on and do this interview. I don’t see a lot of interviews with, with you.

I’ve had to go back. As I said to, you’ve done good writing about yourself. You’ve been open, you’ve talked about like your, your blogger from the early days of blogging, where there’s an explanation of why you’re doing something of how you got, where you are, and that’s helpful for me, but I don’t see a lot of interviews with you.

I know you’re not super eager to be out there and get the camera on you and the mic. And I appreciate that you did this, um, and gave me this interview.

Drew: Yeah, thank you, Andrew. It was great to be on. And, and, uh, you know, I was, when I heard that it was a possibility I got, I got really excited because I’ve listened to your stuff before and I’ve always been kind of, uh, I’ve admired what you’ve done and, and, um, I, I was really excited about the opportunity. So, so thank you for thinking of that and, and having me on.

Andrew: Thanks for doing it for everyone else. Who’s out there. Go check out member full there at  dot com. And of course my sponsor is HostGator. If you need a website hosted, go to, and they’ll hook you up with a great price, great service that will scale with you. Thanks drew,

Drew: Thanks, Andrew.

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