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Business

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Feb 11, 2023

Making $25k in a month and a half with my first info product

Documenting the creation, launch, marketing, sales and everything in between of my first info product.

Evergreen Topic: Think of it as a gateway to other notes, thoughts and resources. I'll be adding to this as I learn more

Who's this for ? Content creators interested in following a fellow creator's transparent business journey on social media.


Listen to the full story on episode 7 of my podcast Make Now Think Later

Since starting to grow my following from 250 to over 200k followers across my social media platforms over the last year, I finally pulled the trigger and launched my first info product on Gumroad in this post I'm documenting how it was made, the thought process behind it, and how it's going 2 months out that I might keep up to date, we'll see.

What did it end up being?

I landed on releasing a walk-through based on this popular post

And it was one I had a lot of fun making, so seemed like a good fit.

Included is...

  • 8+ hour walk-through video broken up into digestible chapters
  • 40+ page Field Guide (PDF) that allows you to study away from the videos (something I like to do from time to time )
  • Original Character Illustration PSD file
  • The Walk-through PSD file
  • Procreate techniques video that maps to the ones shown in the walk-through using Photoshop
  • The full original recording video (no voice-over)
  • Experimental bonus 3D modelled anatomy study images

Here's the live product

Pre Launch thoughts

Goals

Things that I can control:

  • Putting out a quality product
  • It's something that my younger self would have loved to have had
  • 10x the value vs the price to build trust with my audience

Concerns

  • Is it valuable enough?
  • Is it priced optimally for both giving value to as many people as possible AND not undervaluing the content?
  • Is anyone going to even buy this?
  • How do I handle piracy?

Creating the thing

It's been daunting launching my first product, at least it feels that way.

Truth be told, I already had created something that I was about 80% done with, but I just didn’t feel like it was the right fit for my audience, maybe it’s something to release as an added extra in a future course. but for now, it'll sit on my hard drive.

But having already created something, to begin with, it sped up the creation process of this one I released.


The initial idea

I wanted to tackle this first release as an experiment my thoughts were:

  • What's something that I could test the waters enough to give me valuable feedback
  • What's not going to take the next year or so to produce?

I also wanted to find a sweet spot between a full-on deep dive course and a glorified youtube video.

The goal was to release something that answered a lot of the questions I was getting online from various posts and at the same time not have it be too 'How to.

My 'quality' north star

I've gotten a lot of great feedback over the last year or so when it came to my content, it was all pretty short-form stuff (IG carousels, reels, TikToks etc) so this was my first foray into longer-form content so my guage of 'quality' would have to be informed by me.

More importantly, my younger self. This is an idea I like to think about a lot even when creating smaller pieces of content.

I'll often ask myself: "What would my younger self get super amped about?"

This is what started to guide my decision-making around quality, and for better or worse, I let my perfectionism out of its cage for little while.

Enter the walk-through.

I'm a course and tutorial junky across many different fields from coding to art and I know that often tutorials in isolation (although super helpful when you have a solid grasp of a topic), can sometimes leave me a little stumped without any context on how I'd use these skills in the real world.

So I thought a good middle ground would be to do a complete walk through in Real-time from start to finish on one particular illustration.

Stopping along the way, explaining my thinking and doing little demos in the context of the larger illustration.

It ended up being quite a bit longer than anticipated capping out at around 8-ish hours so I needed to cut it up into manageable chapters.

Value stacking

I thought the walk-through could be cool on its own, but I had the goal of 10Xing the value, and I didn't think the walkthrough video on its own would cut it.

So it got me thinking of ways to add real value, not just adding random shit in there for the sake of it.

I started to think about how I consume information and I realised...

I like written tutorials...

For me, tackling a topic from multiple angles like video, reading and audio helps solidify concepts.

And there's nothing more annoying when I'm trying to scrub through a video to that one part that made sense, and not being able to find it.

I used to be almost exclusively a video tutorial guy with any skill I'm trying to learn (coding, sculpting, art etc).

Learning to code changed that way of thinking, for the better.

As I started to get more and more confident with understanding concepts of coding and development, it was easier to just go straight to the documentation and find the exact thing I'm struggling with, vs scrubbing through an hour-long youtube video or course.

This started to translate into my drawing, painting and character design studies.

So I began to outline a PDF covering at a high level, the topics that I mentioned in the walkthrough video.

Many, many hours later, learning InDesign and experimenting with many different layouts out popped the 40+ page 'Field Guide'

Screenshots of 'Field Manual' pages

Screenshots of 'Field Manual' pages

It includes key concepts, ideas and resources I've found helpful. This took up a bulk of the total time to create.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this was a sophisticated procrastination technique my brain played on me because I had to teach myself Adobe Indesign to make the layouts look nice and I just HAD to do custom illustrations like these.

Sample of illustrations only for making things look pretty

Sample of illustrations only for making things look pretty

Although it took longer and I'm pretty sure it was a form of (productive?) procrastination, I was happy with how it turned out.

And at the very least, I've made a template for future info product PDFs or books.

How can I add more value? 3D Models!

I've been dabbling with 3D sculpting more and more as of late, and It's been a real help for developing my 2D drawing because I can create and manipulate the 3D shapes at will, and then study them using 2D tools.

So I decided to 3D sculpt and model key parts of the character that this tutorial is based around. To help give some different perspectives and maybe unlock some 'aha' moments for them.

This was kind of a late-to-the-game addition, but I thought the value it could give was worth the effort.

Again, trying to add as much value as I can, not just add more 'stuff' for the sake of it.


Why a ‘buy once’ product and not a Patreon?

Patreon seems like the 'easier' thing to do right?

I've even mentioned in a couple of posts and my newsletter I'll be starting one (something I need to stop doing is announcing things before they are set in stone!) but I've had second thoughts, and here's why.

I've had a few conversations with people that have seen success with Patreon and others where it essentially became another job, running the artist ragged trying to come up with the best content they can muster for the next month's renewal date to hopefully convince the Patrons to stick around.

Now, I’m sure there are ways to better balance that delivery of high-quality content & patron ‘rewards’ ( I also kind of have an aversion to how it's framed like a 'reward' ) but personally, my goal as a business owner is to allow myself enough time to create and put out the best content possible while also building financial freedom.

Focusing on quality is #1 for me. And jumping into a subscription-based content strategy just seemed to open the door to the content quality potentially dropping based on my current schedule.

Divorcing my time/output from the amount of money I make is my ultimate goal.

That being said, it doesn't mean I'll never open up a Patreon or something like it, I'm just putting it on ice for now or until I figure out a good, high-quality content cadence.


Marketing

Speaking of high-quality content/products my basic philosophy around marketing is that successful marketing has to start with a great product.

You can have the best marketing team on the planet, but if the product is shit-house, then who's going to buy from you again?

But that can also work the opposite way.

You could have the best product on the market and no way to get it to the people that want it, and that's a disservice to both you as a business owner and the people that want what you've got.

The imposter syndrome is strong at launch

I'm pretty sure most content creators like myself (it sounds a bit wanky to call myself that tbh ) struggle with this from time to time.

Thoughts like...

  • "Why would anyone want to learn from me?"
  • "People can get information from better artists than me"

Start to creep in as the launch gets closer, and I even feel this sometimes when posting content to social media.

But I recently heard a fantastic talk by Alex Hormozi

Where a key takeaway was...

Share from a place of experience, not a place of authority, no one can take that away from you.

This resonated with me as that's the philosophy I've unconsciously been using to build my following.

I like to experiment and share my learnings, what worked and what didn't and frame pretty much everything in the context of my personal experience (like this post you're reading).

You'll never catch me saying "This is THE way to do x,y,z", It's all based on my own experience.

Keeping this in mind helps reduce that little imposter syndrome voice in my head.

It also helps while writing this very blog post about my experience on the business end of content creation.

🏴‍☠️ Using piracy to my advantage

It's inevitable, people will pirate at the very least the PDF field guide, but I'm experimenting to see if I can use that to my advantage with this page...

A 'piracy' experiment in the PDF field guide

A 'piracy' experiment in the PDF field guide

With a clear CTA 'Take me to the Booty' and showing what they're missing out on if they just stop at this PDF.

Will this get more sales? Who knows – but if people find value in the PDF it will hopefully, at the very least get my name out there.


The release strategy

I wanted the promos to be valuable and not just a 'Hey, go buy this thing I made.

I knew I wanted to do at least a couple of full-on sketch notes (IG Carousels) teasing the tutorial see it here as well as giving value, but I also needed to think about how best to reach the largest amount of people possible.

I'd also luckily build a little email list of around 3000 people that allows me not to be 100% reliant on the algorithm's whim.

IG Posts

I wanted to make an IG reel that isn't only an ad for the release, but valuable in itself. This does two things.

  1. Keeps consistency with what I put out as it still brings value to my audience
  2. Because It still brings value, it should hopefully help the algorithm with saves, shares, likes etc
  3. Utilising some form of pop culture along with the value would hopefully push it out to more people

There was one pre-release announcement post I did and another launch post.

  1. Breaking bad Jesse and Walter character sketch notes

  2. Launch sketch note carousel

The pop culture strategy seemed to work well (at least for my audience size) and it helped push it to more people.

IG Story

I've found a pattern with IG stories where if the first of the chain of stories doesn't 'hit' then the reach of subsequent stories is abysmal.

And often times what 'hits' is a colourful rendering or painting.

I have to be strategic around what I post as the first story so as to prompt a 'next story' action where I'll have my CTA's

The plan for the stories is as follows

  • Initial release announcement, and a high-level rundown of what's included with 'save the date' and 'Live stream' CTA's (with notification feature)
  • 2 days out from launch story
  • 1 day out from launch story
  • Launch day story + reminder about the live stream ()
  • 1 day after launch (reminder about PDF)
  • 2 days after launch (reminder about PDF)

Email

I've gathered emails in 2 ways...

  • Convert kit (where I share my bi-weekly newsletter)
  • Gumroad page (people that just signed up to be notified about anything)

Both audiences are different in what they expect from me, and I was concerned about the newsletter email list getting annoyed with promotional emails, so I was very clear about the end date that the promotional stuff will stop to respect the trust they've given me with their email.

Now, I respect that you’ve trusted me with your email, so I want to let you know that there will be 2 more promotional emails, over the next two days.

If you’ve purchased it, you shouldn’t get any more promo emails.  But if you haven’t or are not interested, you’ll probably see those two emails come through, so just ignore them and I’ll be back to regular newsletters shortly.

The launch emails were as follows...

There was no real fancy email automation or funnel, I wanted to keep it simple for this first launch so as not to overcomplicate things or delay the launch because 'I didn't have the right email sequence'.

I was also happy with the relatively small number of unsubscribes.

The numbers

  • $25k USD in sales in 1 month 1/2
  • $12k USD in sales in the first 2 days

Front-loaded income

Now, this is something to take into account with once-off products vs subscriptions. They can be, at least in this case, pretty front-loaded sales-wise.

Take a look at this graph...

There's the big ol' spike near the launch, and then it dramatically drops down and stabilises.

There are pros and cons to this, but with not having any other products with different payment structures (e.g. subscription) there's not much insight I can give, other than the sales of this product launch were heavily front-loaded.

Growing the acquisition channels

Notice these little sales spikes?

Those are the days when I post content to IG, Twitter and Tiktok.

Now, to have this product and future products become more sustainable in the future and have less of the sales be reliant on my direct input, I'm going to need to diversify my acquisition channels.

My plan moving forward is to sink more energy into:

  1. This blog (thank you for stopping by, by the way)
  2. Youtube

While also keeping up the growth on the other social channels.

Why youtube?

It's the second biggest search engine in the world. And this allows my content to be discoverable long after the initial posting of it, unline IG, TikTok and Twitter.

I think there's also something to be said about the impact that longer-form content has on an audience, you get an opportunity to build more trust, and share a little more about yourself.

Why the blog?

It'll feed into the number one search engine in the world. And if SEO is done correctly, and my content is of high enough quality, then the plan is for this blog to consistently bring in more new eyeballs which could potentially mean more sales if I've proven/given enough value upfront.

The benefit of having a following first

Because I've been fortunate enough to gain a bit of a following on IG, Twitter and TikTok, I can then tastefully promote my Youtube, and Blog which will hopefully help them both grow a little faster.

Well, that's the plan anyway.

Pricing Strategy

Magnetic Middle Pricing Strategy - Alex Hormozi

Go go page

If you have three price points, small, medium, large, where you move the middle will dictate how many of them you sell.

Even if you keep the small and the large at the same price.

For example, let's say that we've got $5 and $10 as these things. If I put the middle very, very close to the top, the top one will look like a steel compared to the middle cause it's only 10% more, and I might get a lot more stuff.

And so if I wanted to sell more larges, I would push the medium right next to it and make it seem like a no brain. Upsell psychologically. On the flip side, if I wanted to sell more of the middle one, I would expand the distance between the large and the middle, and so that this one would look like the more reasonable option compared to the premium price.

You should always have a very expensive thing to sell because you can drive more sales to the middle, while also allowing people who want to spend the money to go buy the super expensive.


Ending thoughts...

So, that's my experience with my first product launch.

Was it a success?

Well, there are no other real case studies to measure off and it's not...life-changing money.

BUT, with this first product being an experiment and my first 'toe in the water' of selling info products, it's given me the data and confidence I need to keep pushing forward and to continue to grow this thing.

So objectively, I'd say it's a success.

My hope with documenting this process is fellow content creators like yourself (I still have issues with that label) can both learn from my experience and build your own audience, products hopefully turn it into a viable income stream. All while doing what you love.

Hope you got something out of this one

Cheers, Ben ✌️

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