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Newsletter Glue & Lesley Sim: Her Journey into Software FTH: 085
Episode 8525th February 2022 • FtheHUSTLE • Kim Doyal
00:00:00 01:02:15

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Kim Doyal 0:01

Before we get into today's episode, I have a quick message for my sponsor cloudways. cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform that simplifies your web hosting experience. The platform allows businesses to focus on their growth and have complete peace of mind 24/7 support and flexibility to scale. Can we just say support is hugely important when it comes to hosting. And thanks to pod boys who are offering an exclusive discount for the Kim Doyal show listeners, visit cloudways.com and use a promo code Chem 20 to get 20% off for two months on the hosting plan of your choice. Alright guys, let's get into today's episode. Welcome to F the hustle. I'm your host, Kim Doyal. You want a life that is meaningful and exciting. In this podcast, we're going to talk about launching and growing an online business that fits your lifestyle. After the hustle is all about doing good work, building real relationships, and most importantly, creating a business that supports how you want to live your life. You don't have to sacrifice the quality of your life today to create something that sets your soul on fire. And yes, that includes making a lot of money. So we'll be talking about selling, charging what you're worth, and how earning more means helping more people. My goal is to help you find freedom and create a business on your terms. Hey, what's going on everybody? Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am your host, Kim Doyal. And I'm really excited today because not only is our guest amazing, but we're going to talk about something that I have gotten really obsessed with in the last couple of years. And that is newsletters. But first, my guest today is Leslie sim, the founder of newsletter glue. Leslie, thanks so much for joining me today.

Unknown Speaker 1:45

Thanks so much for having me, Kim. Super happy to be here.


Kim Doyal 1:48

And we'll just let everybody know, this is fun. You are recording from you're in Singapore.


Unknown Speaker 1:54

That's right.


Kim Doyal 1:55

Okay, so what time is it for you?


Unknown Speaker 1:58

Is 9:34pm


Kim Doyal 2:02

Yeah, and it's 7:34pm. This is why I love what we do, Leslie, it's like we get to connect with people all over the world. It's just, I don't know, it makes the world seem smaller and bigger kind of at the same time.


Unknown Speaker 2:13

Yeah, totally. I feel like I actually benefited from the pandemic, because now nobody's going out and meeting people. And they have to meet people like me online. So that's yeah, that's been like one cool and unexpected side effect. nice side effect of the pandemic.


Kim Doyal 2:31

It is, it's nice to see those benefits. And I mean, it just, I think it forced a lot of growth and opportunity online in general. So I think it's fantastic. Okay, so, enough about that. But I would love to know, you know, we did a live stream talking about newsletter glue, and I'll let you explain what that is. But I don't know much about your backstory, if you wouldn't mind sharing with listeners, kind of, you know, how you got into all this what you're doing prior to creating and launching newsletter glue?


Unknown Speaker 3:01

Yeah, how far would you like me to go back?


Kim Doyal 3:06

Maybe with your entrepreneurial journey, or you know, I mean, whatever you feel like sharing honestly.


Unknown Speaker 3:12

Um, so my very first job, or my very first real job after after university was in the government in the airport. And it turns out that I was very bad at that because I not like Are you familiar with the term iron rice ball? No, explains that there might be a Singaporean or Southeast Asian, but it's just kind of like a stable steady job that you know, like working in the government is known for like the work in the government, you have a stable steady job, and that's an iron rice ball. It's not going to go away. Ah, okay. Yeah, and so I didn't know it at the time. But I knew after working there for a couple of years that you know, stable, steady type jobs was super not my thing. And I just kind of got bored and wanted to do other things. And so I left the airport in the aviation industry and went into advertising, which was as far away as an iron rifle as


Kim Doyal 4:24

well, and not to mention talk about talking about a pivot. Do you mind me asking? What did you study in university?


Unknown Speaker 4:30

I study commerce, which is like kind of like a general business degree. So we did like marketing, accounting, finance, whole bunch of stuff. Okay. So yeah, just kind of a general degree, I guess. And then so yeah, I moved into advertising. I like that so much more. I kind of think about my time or like, I think like a good description of my time there is being able to skate skateboard in the hallways. I love it. Yeah, like advertising is super fun. I think it's like my dream job that even now like, if I had to get a full time job advertising would be one of the places that I look. I just like really liked the work. Yeah, it's fun and the people as well. Yeah. Wait, have you? Do you have? Do you have any experience in advertising?


Kim Doyal 5:21

No, no other than just 14 years. And I mean, right. Similar in terms. I mean, I've run ads, but I'm fascinated by copy and the fact that messages can there's this whole psychological bent behind it. And so and then it's how do you get creative and get it to work? I mean, it's, it's kind of it's like a science in and of itself, almost.


Unknown Speaker 5:43

Yeah. Yeah, that's like, that's always been kind of my, like, I've been super interested in that as well. And so yeah, advertising was really interesting. And I was an account executive there. So like, not a creative. And it was, like, the part that I always liked was like, being able to pull the strings. So like, I'm managing the client, but I'm also managing, you know, internally with the copywriters and the designers and trying to get, you know, get a campaign out the door. And that was super cool, because I always kind of wanted to run my own business. And I didn't know it at the time when I went into advertising. But once I started doing the job, I realized, like, Oh, this is, you know, this is really close to entrepreneurship, because it teaches you how to get things done. Every month, do you have a campaign that has to go out? You know, kind of paid for it? You know, there's like a newspaper spot waiting for your ad to go in there. You have to do it. And it's like, how do you, you know, hurt the kittens and the door? Yeah. And yeah, so it was super fun. It was a lot of hard work a lot of pressure, like, yeah, a lot of pressure, a lot of like, for em nights, a lot of figuring things out as you go, because you know, sometimes creatives will come up with crazy ideas that is on you to kind of figure out how to make happen. So yeah, I just really liked that. But the thing that I didn't like so much was, so I joined advertising at a time where digital stuff was becoming a thing. In I think 2012, back when we were still buying Yahoo ads. And so so so like, obviously, things have changed a lot since then. And it was it was like kind of becoming obvious that traditional agencies ad agencies didn't really know that much about the internet and like how things worked. And you know, even things like sales funnels and marketing funnels, which everyone knows now. Traditional agencies back then didn't know anything about and it was kind of starting to show it was it was obvious that, you know, clients were coming to agencies to ask about, can we run a digital campaign? And agencies will obviously say yes, but then they scramble after that and try to figure things out. And I, I wanted to go to where no, people actually knew what they're talking about. The digital internet world. So I left the agency life. And instead of I tried, so I tried to get a job in the States, actually. Sorry. So like, this is the long story that you never


Kim Doyal 8:44

asked. Well, I think the journey is fascinating. And it's I think it's really helpful for listeners, in my opinion to hear, it's just not a straight line for any of us to get to where we are.


Unknown Speaker 8:58

Exactly. Yeah, I like kind of like telling the story because I don't often get a tablet. And it's not the story that you'd expect. I think it's about to take a sharp turn. Yeah. So I like tried to get a digital agency job in the States because I felt that's where a lot of the cutting edge digital marketing stuff was happening. And I just couldn't. And so what I ended up doing was traveling the states. And as my three month visa was expiring, I felt okay, I'm not ready to go home yet. So I decided to go to Honduras to freedive


Kim Doyal 9:39

oh my gosh, yeah.


Unknown Speaker 9:42

And it's so ridiculous when I think about it now but I actually bought the ticket. Like for for two days out. And it was only the day before where I asked myself like, do I actually need a visa for Honduras? Like, what language do they speak there? I just kind of bought the ticket and yeah, like didn't think about any of that. So thankfully, I didn't need a visa, I would have been in trouble.


Kim Doyal 10:08

Can I ask were you traveling with anybody? Are you by yourself? I was by myself. Wow. It's amazing. Go ahead.


Unknown Speaker 10:15

Yeah. So I went to her daughter's went to the freediving school and ended up really, really liking it. And I ended up staying there for eight months and becoming a free diving instructor and teaching people free diving. And that was my life for almost a year. And it was great. Yeah, I'm like telling you this also, because, you know, I know that you're in Costa Rica right now. And that's super close to Honduras. So like, I feel like you know what I'm talking about?


Kim Doyal 10:45

Yeah, absolutely. It's, it's to get that experience of living in another culture that lives vastly different than what you've done. It's sort of humbling and awe inspiring at the same time.


Unknown Speaker 10:58

Yes. Yeah. Super agree. It really like broadens your perspective, I think and makes you realize how much you can't assume. Because like, people are just so different over the world.


Kim Doyal 11:14

Yeah, yeah. So I go ahead, sorry.


Unknown Speaker 11:19

I did the freediving thing. And a year, a year later, I came home thinking that I was going to continue being a freediving instructor and do that across Southeast Asia and like, had this whole thing. And then my mom comes and she has this serious talk with me about my future. And she says, Oh, yeah, exactly. She was legitimately concerned that I was gonna turn into some kind of dive bomb or something, we just, you know exactly what I was becoming. So fair enough. Um, yeah. And so she had that talk. And then she successfully guilt trip me into staying at home in Singapore and trying to take a normal job. So I tried that very briefly. And it turns out that, I guess, like my sabbatical in Honduras had, I think I changed me fundamentally as a person, and I just like, couldn't do a regular job anymore. And so I quit soon after and tried to do my own thing. And it's and then there's a quick detour into craft beer, which I won't go into into too much detail about because like, this has already gone on for way longer than


Kim Doyal 12:34

but this is so fun. I do you got a quick okay, so hold on, hold on, hold on. So quick detour and craft beer in terms of like you got into making it or you went to work for a craft brewery.


Unknown Speaker 12:46

Oh, so I was a partner in a craft beer brewery. It was just like the two of us. So I was meant to do like the marketing side of things. And he was doing the brewing. And we were both kind of doing sales, like, literally door to door going knocking on restaurants and asking if they wanted to buy a beer. Wow. Yeah. So and we were like, one of my favorite gifts that we made was a mandarin ale. Mandarin Orange ale.


Kim Doyal 13:15

Oh my god, I love orange in in like wheat beers. It's so good.


Unknown Speaker 13:20

Yeah. And I remember we use, like, I took the resistors from my kitchen, and we were just like, sitting there testing oranges. And I think like that made that year, at least, like, to me feel tastes much nicer. Because, you know, we like to sit there for two hours. Just testing oranges. Yeah, but it that didn't work out. As it turns out, there's a lot more to, you know, making a craft beer business successful than just a brewery and two people. Yeah. So didn't work out. And but at the time, because we were just the two of us i i had to build a website had to like figure out, how do we, you know, do the online sales have a presence and all that stuff. And so, that kind of reignited my interest in digital marketing and websites, which if you recall, was the reason why I went to the States in the first place. And I was like, Okay, so like, because of this, we've like, built the website. I've learned all this stuff that how to use WordPress for the first time and decided, okay, maybe I can double down on this. And I started my digital marketing agency from there.


Kim Doyal 14:45

Holy moly, that is such a great story, Leslie, truly, and thank you for sharing it because it is I you know, it's crazy because when you've been doing this for a while, and you've I mean, so you really started paying attention to the digital marketing space at the ad agency. You said, which is what, like 2012 or so? Yeah. Yeah, I mean, so for almost 2022, so 10 years later, and it's still sort of like the Wild West. And I think there's a market sophistication that's happened. But there's still people starting their businesses every day online. And to hear that, it's just not a straight path. And so what brings you here? Is, I don't know, it also gives you the strength and the backbone to keep going when you start here, because none of this is easy, either.


Unknown Speaker 15:32

Yeah, exactly. Alright, so


Kim Doyal 15:35

you started a digital marketing agency? I'm sorry. Um, and did you? So you went about doing advertising for people? You were doing websites? What was what did you guys offer under the agency?


Unknown Speaker 15:47

Yeah, just kind of, it was just me and team of freelancers. So we're kind of doing anything people wanted, basically. So like, we built websites, we did some content marketing, I did a bunch of videos as well. Yeah, just kind of, you know, everything that whatever we could find whatever what we could find, I guess. And then it got to 2019. And I was kind of getting burnt out. We had a really successful year, but it was, you know, I think I worked probably seven days a week for 50 out of 52 weeks. Or just, you know, just Yeah, I was just kind of done. And so what I ended up doing was scaling down. So we were kind of at, you know, when you're working seven days a week, it it's that kind of point where you either commit and hire more people, or you let go have a bunch of clients and scale down. And I decided that I would scale down. So I let go a bunch of clients, and looked at building a plugin. Instead, I just, you know, I already tried freediving I tried advertising, I tried to like, you know, the one thing at that point I hadn't tried it was software. And it was something that I was always interested in. And I'm not a developer. So, you know, I never thought that I'd be able to do a software business because I couldn't build anything. Then I realized, you know, I could partner up with someone. So I looked at the indie hackers forum, and looked for someone look, you know, a technical person looking for a business co founder, and I found my co founder admin, he had built a membership plugin, and was looking for someone to help market it. And so that's kind of how we started working together. And I think, you know, part of the story already, the membership plugin didn't work out. But we built a feature inside the membership plugin that would allow you to send blog posts out as new status to subscribers. And I really liked that specific feature. And so even though the membership plugin didn't work out, we decided to pivot and build out a business around that send post to subscribers feature. And that was how new sets of glue was born. And oh, my goodness, oh, sorry.


Kim Doyal 18:22

That is I love it. Leslie, what a fantastic story. So you are a certainly tenacious and be you sound fearless. But is it more that there's this sort of drive in you to just keep going and find that thing? I mean, a lot of people would have given up.


Unknown Speaker 18:42

So I think like, my answer now, is quite different from the answer I would have given you a decade ago, Manson now is I think, like, my family, I come from, like a pretty good family background, like we have, you know, I feel like secure. And so coming from that, you know, we weren't like, hard up for money or anything like that. And so that given me a lot more opportunity to take risks. I think, I can't speak for everyone, obviously, but like, I know, a bunch of my friends, for example, who growing up, they always felt that they had to get a stable job and, you know, become a lawyer doctor, because they didn't, they had like they had to scrape by when they were children. And so like, those, those friends would find it much harder to take risks and go do silly things like freediving. Whereas, I think like, I had the luxury of doing that. And as I saw, like, you know, my parents they're, you know, they're not like filthy rich or anything but like, just being able to come from a stable background and like, not have to worry too much that just really helped. So can Yeah, I think it's like a huge pot.


Kim Doyal 20:06

Sorry. It's just, I think, yeah. Yeah. I think also that it sounds like even though your mom had a sort of up here, if you've heard the phrase like a come to Jesus moment about, yeah, getting a job right that. Okay. But I mean, you know, my parents very traditional jobs too. And it was like, Well, I mean, they were supportive as I was getting started with this, but it was like, maybe, and I was like, Look, I'll walk away from my house before I go back to a job job again, I just knew it wasn't ever. I wasn't supposed to do that. But at the same time, so where you had some financial security, and I think that's huge. And I think that's very honest. And thanks for sharing that because it does make it a lot easier to take some risks. But it also sounds like to a certain extent, your parents, your family, supported your curiosity a little bit as well. I mean, it took you let's say, California to or the United States to Honduras to diving for your mom to finally go. Why don't we have a little chit chat?


Unknown Speaker 21:08

Yeah. Yeah, okay, enough. Yeah, I think I think I but I'm also a middle child. So I think I like got get away with a lot of stuff that my siblings wouldn't be able to get away with. Yeah, so I play under the under the radar a lot. And, yeah,


Kim Doyal 21:29

that's totally funny. I'm a middle child,...