How We Launched A $120K/Month Audiobook Publishing Course
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
We are Christian and Rasmus Mikkelsen, also known as the Mikkelsen Twins online. We run an online education company where we help people to build an online book publishing business. The reason why we teach what seems like a random/kinda weird online business model is because it’s what changed our lives almost 3 years ago and freed us from the life path we were heading down (were in the middle of a business degree in community college and there was absolutely no hope for a truly happy and fulfilled life if we had continued to take that path in life).
It’s insane to write this and reflect on the past and now look at where we are today. 2 years ago, we were just 2 very shy, insecure identical twins (and best friends) trying to overcome our fear of speaking on camera. Now we’ve built an online education company with over 800 students (probably over 1,000 by the time you’re reading this). I can confirm we’ve helped many dozens of people to build their publishing business to where they have been able to quit their jobs for good and live a life of freedom and exploring the world. I’ve also learned the majority of people never share their success stories with us, so I’m sure 100+ of our students have accomplished the same without telling us haha!
The one and only program we sell at the moment (we will begin building program #2 in the coming months) is called Audiobook Income Academy 2.0. It’s an online training program that teaches people how to build a profitable book (and audiobook) publishing business. It includes over 30 hours of step-by-step training, an incredible online Facebook group and we host live coaching calls for all students twice a month.
Fast forward to today, our company is making over 6-figures in profit every month which is almost unbelievable for two 24-year-old (ambitious) idiots with just a laptop, wifi connection and a small team.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
We never had a moment like “Ah ha! Let’s start an online education company!”, it just naturally evolved and grew into what it is today.
But I can tell you exactly how we got here. Before we get into how we first discovered what entrepreneurship even is, I want to paint the picture of what life was like even before that.
Up until we were 21 years old, we were 2 guys just going through life on autopilot with no regard for the future. Worrying about what my next week would look like was hard enough. Then we basically “woke up” and found ourselves in a 1 bedroom apartment in Aarhus, Denmark, not showing up to our part-time job anymore and smoking pot every day. For the first time, we reflected on ourselves, what we were doing and we just felt embarrassed. We were wasting our precious time away doing absolutely nothing. I don’t want to get too into the emotions felt, but it was a rock bottom for us. Long story short, we have a private twin meeting and said to each other “this is f\cking sad, we have to change”. And because we had each other, we developed motivation and ambition to prove we weren’t useless, waste-of-space losers (but that’s exactly how we had acted).
We had all this caged up motivation, but no idea where to direct it. So we decided to enroll in community college. We already knew this wasn’t the path for us, but it was a way to direct all this energy we had inside us and a way to show our parents that we didn’t want to be lazy bums anymore. We wanted to change.
We set a goal to achieve straight A’s across the board. Everyone doubted us and I argued with people saying they weren’t supportive, but then learned it’s best just to shut up and let your actions speak instead.
We worked our asses off studying as much as we could while working jobs as well, me as a Chinese food delivery driver, and then Christian as a receptionist at a physical therapy office. Long story short, we made it happen and both got perfect straight A’s for the next 3 semesters. While I hated the classes and everything about traditional school because I didn’t actually learn anything (that’s not true actually, I learned how to become really good at memorizing!), it taught us one huge, life-changing lesson.
Shiny object syndrome is currently the biggest plague in entrepreneurship there is. Just focus on one damn thing for at least 12 months minimum without losing focus.
And that is if you fully commit yourself to something, you can do it. Now it seems so obvious, like yeah, of course, you can achieve that, but I think most people don’t believe that. And now we bring that mindset and confidence into everything we do. We still fail A LOT, but we learn from them until we finally figure it out.
At college, we finally found the confidence to create our own path. So we searched online on YouTube for all the different online business models out there. We compiled a list of about 6-7 and we each picked one. This way we could try out business models twice as fast and as soon as one of us finds success, the other twin would switch over to the better business model. Genius idea and it worked to perfection. I chose to dropship as my first business and Christian chose book publishing.
Long story short, we found the most success with book publishing and within 12 months we were making about $3,000 a month each. Just enough to quit college (1 semester shy of graduating, our parents did not agree at the time haha), quit our jobs, and start traveling.
Our first destination was Chiang Mai, Thailand. There we grew our publishing businesses further and after 3 months there, moved to Honolulu, Hawaii (our DREAM location).
We each grew our publishing businesses to the $7,000-$12,000 per month range which was incredible. Publishing had created our dream life for us, but we didn’t enjoy publishing itself. We also had bigger dreams and aspirations and we could see if we just kept on publishing more and more books, it wasn’t gonna get us there.
So we decided to start a YouTube channel. We always wanted to be “rich and famous” (it sounds so dumb to say now haha) but we were terrified of the camera. Overcoming that fear was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. To be honest, we never would have done it if we didn’t have each other’s support. Having a twin is an unfair advantage!
We had no idea what to make videos about, but we thought let’s just make videos talking about what we’re really good at. Book publishing. So over the next 180 days, we released a YouTube video every other day without fail. I never missed a single time. We even went to Japan for 10 days during that time, so we bulk filmed 10 videos in 3 days, edited them, and scheduled them so they’d be uploaded every other day and no one would notice we were gone.
There was NO LUCK involved when it came to YouTube. We never had a video go viral, it was just a slow and steady 5-7 new subscribers every day. After about 50 videos, we started making more videos talking just about audiobook publishing because there was no one else really doing it. We just made videos sharing everything we know until our subscribers were literally begging us to create a course about audiobook publishing. We refused for a long time but eventually gave in.
We fled to Denmark to isolate ourselves from the world so we could focus just on creating this course (while still uploading a YouTube every other day).
Then on September 8, 2018 (while at a self-publishing mastermind event in Cancun), we launched our online course, Audiobook Income Academy, and wow. What happened was unbelievable, life-changing, and just downright impressive.
We launched our course at half price ($497), made a YouTube video to our 1,200 subscribers announcing that the course is open for enrollment… And it began.
30 seconds in, we had our first-course sale. We couldn’t believe it.
Live video reaction when we launched our course and the first sale happened:
10 minutes later, 3 more people had bought. That was $2,000 in 10 minutes. Holy sh-t.
Within 2 hours, 21 more people had joined. $12,000 in 2 hours, how was this possible?!
After our 24 hour launch day discount had ended, 96 people had enrolled in our program. After processing fees and payment plans, that was $43,865.62 in pure profit in 24 hours. We didn’t spend a penny on ads (we didn’t have a clue what a Facebook ad was) and a course is a digital product, so there is no fee to create or “ship” it to customers.
I’ll never forget that day. 2 hardworking idiots that had an idea what they were doing could do that?! What else is possible?
That was 1.5 years ago as of me writing this right now. To not take forever, here’s a quick recap of everything that happened in the last 1.5 years:
Dozens of our students have had their lives changed from building a successful online publishing business that has given them the freedom to live life however they want. (you can see all the proof of student results and video testimonials here).
Rebuilt AIA 3 times.
Traveled and lived all over the world in incredible places like Bali, Hawaii, Cuba, Croatia, Japan, Australia, Komodo Island, Mexico, Spain.
I had the most incredible and unforgettable experiences. Experiences that 99.9% of people will never have in a whole lifetime.
We’re now consistently getting 10-15 new students every day into our program.
Found a girl, married her, and are expecting a boy in 2 months!!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
You’ve most likely never created an online course, but let me tell you, it is one of the most challenging, time-consuming, stress-inducing things you can do. Well, I guess if you don’t care about making something great, then it’s not that bad. But if you obsess about being the best and taking every measure to ensure your course is the very best product in the world, then it’s hard.
In this space, it’s the ones with the best product and the best student results that win. That’s us. And when you care about that much, you don’t just create a program once and then you’re done, you have to constantly remake it over and over and you learn more and become better.
We created version 1 of AIA in August 2018. 5 months later, we started making it again (thus why the name is now AIA 2.0). That 2nd build took 6 months of 2 guys working 5 hours a day (afternoons were for YouTube videos) 6 days a week. That’s 1,500 hours to create 35 hours of recorded video training.
Because first, you have to freak master the thing you’re teaching (that’s hard enough), then you have to outline all of it from A-Z, break it down to its simplest form so even a monkey could understand it. Then you have to lay it all out in presentation format in an organized way. Then film the training lessons, edit the training lessons, and create all resources needed to accompany every video.
In the fall of 2019, we created 50% of version 3 (although the name AIA 2.0 remains) and is right now in the middle of finishing the remaining of version 3.
The tricky part about the course creation phase of an online education company is that you are working harder than you ever have before and you’re not getting paid a penny extra for it. When you get to month 3 and 4 and you’ve cut out all other nice things in life to create it, it gets really draining. You have to constantly remind yourself that the hard work will pay, but that won’t happen until the program is done and it has to be done in a great way the entire way through. As much as you want to, in the end, you can’t cut corners or else all the hard work you already put in will go to waste.
This is exactly where V3 of AIA was created in Mallorca, Spain. Christian sitting on the right and me sitting to the left of him. The daily routine you see on the table is how we structured our day.
Describe the process of launching the business.
For the first 2 years, 90% of our customers came from our YouTube videos. Without our YouTube channel, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Not even close. It’s funny because we had no idea what we were doing back then, we were just pumping out YouTube videos by the dozens and because we did that - 1) Hundreds of new people discover us every day (without us paying a penny) just by searching for online business videos on YouTube and 2) We have 200 videos on YouTube for people to watch meaning they can binge-watch our videos and “fall in love with us” without us having to do any more work. We did the work once when we created the video, now it’s all automated.
Now that we have such a strong foundation of videos, we don’t make nearly as many as we used to. As much as we want to, we just can’t spend dozens of hours every week producing videos anymore so now we post around 3 videos a month which is a nice, easy to handle number for us.
Stop giving in to all the short term gratifications that make you feel good now because they are hurting your future.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Oh jeez, well this is the secret. I don’t know if I can just share this in the open for everyone to see haha. I’m kidding and being dead serious at the same time.
First, if you want to grow any business to 7 figures, 8 figures, and beyond, it has to be scalable. You can evolve over time to a scalable model, but most businesses as they are, it would be completely impossible for them to scale to a 7 figure and beyond level. For most businesses, even if you gave them 10,000 people that want to buy what you’re selling right now, it would break. So you need to evolve to a scalable business model and automate as much as you can. In 2020, you can automate almost everything.
For you have to build the foundations of your business so if you magically got 10,000 customers, you could happily satisfy them all. We’ve always sold digital products and that’s the big beauty of it. Whether 1 person buys, or 10,000,000 we just send an email with login details to the program and boom, the product has been created and delivered in an instant. That’s what makes a course specifically so scalable.
Then you need a funnel that is going to convert people from “I have no idea who you are or what you do” to “Please I really want to buy what you’re selling”. And again, this has to all happen in an automated way without us lifting a finger. The setup and creation are incredibly hard, but once it's done, you don’t have to touch it.
Once you have that, then it’s finally time to focus on getting traffic. Organic traffic is great and has been a huge reason for our success, but it just cannot be compared to paid traffic. Paid traffic is in a completely different league of its own.
We have spent 2 years creating 200 YouTube videos and get us about 100 new people to discover us every single day. The great part about it is it was for the most part free to do. And that’s why organic traffic is the best way to get started. You’re not risking any money, only your time. But as you progress, your time becomes much more valuable than money because time cannot be scaled.
Now when it comes to paid traffic, we are currently getting about 10,000 new people to discover us every single day. Now our paid traffic makes up literally 99% of our traffic. This is why we don’t focus on creating many YouTube videos anymore.
And we have structured our funnel so that all the ads we ever run are run to the exact same page every time with no exception. That page is an opt-in page for a webinar, then they watch the webinar and we offer them to join our program at the end if they would like. That’s it.
The paid traffic sources we use are YouTube ads to a cold audience and then retargeting them with Facebook ads along with a 7-day email sequence and email broadcasts 3 times a week forever.
The screenshot below is inside our Google ads dashboard over the last 30 days. The first column is how much we’ve spent on advertising costs, the middle columns are some not-so-important-for-this-case metrics and the final column is revenue generated from these Google ads.
Like I said earlier, there are no costs to ship or produce the product. Advertising costs are 90% of our expenses.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We’ve never been doing better. We had been in the 30k-40k per month range for over a year, focusing only on building the foundations, an automated funnel, and making the best f*cking course we can. That is what has allowed us to now scale our business by literally 1,000% in a matter of months. Well, it took years, but from the outside, it seems sudden and out of the blue. It’s not.
We recently hired our first 2 full-time employees who have been a godsend for us. I can't believe we waited this long haha. For a long time, it was really hard to give over control of parts of the business to someone, but now that we have people we trust, it’s a game-changer. This would not be possible without them.
Our current plan for the rest of the year is to finish building V3 of our program (which is already 100x better than the 2nd best program in our niche) and then finally start creating a brand new high ticket program. Very, very excited about that. That’s where we will dive deep and reveal all the secrets about what I’ve briefly covered here.
We are also moving away from the personal brand called Mikkelsen Twins and changing into a company called PublishingLife.com. The website is currently being built, but perhaps it’s ready by the time you read this.
We’re just not interested in building a personal brand. We can accomplish 100x more as a company and that’s what we’ll do.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
So many things, I can’t even think of it all right now. I’ll make a list of what I think are the most important characteristics to succeed in business:
- Caring about your customer and truly doing your best to help them
- Obsessing about having the best product
- Relentless. I will not stop until I get what I want. When you act like that, success becomes inevitable.
- Hire for character, train for skill.
And here’s the final one, this is the big daddy of them all… Education.
Christian and I are obsessed with education and getting smarter and learning every single day. You know how if you watch someone interview a billionaire and at the end of the interview, they always ask “what’s the secret to success?” And they would always say the same thing…
Every time I heard that I would scream to myself “shut up and give me some real advice!”. But now I understand it so so perfectly. What they mean is education. That can come in the form of a book or youtube videos, audiobooks, coaching, online courses, etc.
It's all education. My preferred format is online courses and that’s another reason why we sell ours so passionately. Because online courses have completely changed my life. It sounds kinda silly, but they are truly the reason we’ve come this far. Really really good education about what matters (most of the school doesn’t teach you what really matters, in my opinion).
Last week we paid $10,000 to join an online course. In the last year, we’ve joined 2 other courses for $5,000 each, and probably 4 others for $1000. These investments have made 1000x more than what we paid for them.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The #1 necessary can’t live without software for us and others in our industry are ClickFunnels. Another really important software we use is Hyros for accurate ad tracking, Helpscout for customer support, Basecamp for project management. We also use a platform called Kajabi to host our online course but we do plan to move that over to a private hosting platform in the future.
In terms of social media, we barely use it. YouTube, of course, that’s the big one. I feel like people care so much about gaining followers on Instagram but it's so irrelevant in my opinion. We didn’t use it for 6 months and our business progressed more than ever because we were instead focusing on things that actually matter like creating the best training program possible.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
This is an easy one. Sam Ovens. He has dozens of hours of videos on YouTube, just listen to every single one of them and thank me later.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
First of all, only go down the route of building an online education company if you’re willing to dedicate your life to it. This is not a side hustle haha. You become your business, it’s everything which is why you have to love it. If you don’t love what you do, it’ll never work.
Here are a few of the biggest mistakes I see people make:
Giving up too soon. Shiny object syndrome is currently the biggest plague in entrepreneurship there is. Just focus on one damn thing for at least 12 months minimum without losing focus. People start, they don’t see success as fast as they were hoping, then they blame it on the business model and move on. Be patient.
Bad habits. Before doing anything, improve your productivity habits. Have a daily routine, lock your phone away when you work, etc. Really foundational stuff but it’s life-changing if you actually implement it.
Failure is a good thing. The most successful people are the ones that failed the most times. It pains me when I see people frozen in fear that they’re going to fail. Yes, you are definitely going to fail so get used it to now. The difference is successful people look at their failures, see where they went wrong, and then try again. And they keep on trying again until it works. It’s just so simple…
Long term mindset. Stop giving in to all the short term gratifications that make you feel good now because they are hurting your future. Constantly delay the gratification and keep delaying, keep delaying and you will eventually catch up and start to enjoy the fruits of all the good long term decisions you made in the past. 2021 will come, 2025 will come, 2040 will come! Make decisions now where you’ll say “thank you so much 2020 me for doing that”. I hope that makes sense.
Have perspective. The pain of doing vs the pain of not doing. The pain of working hard now is pretty high but the pain of not working hard now and therefore having a miserable future where you’re not happy, you’re not fulfilled and you’re not able to take care of the people you love is 1000x worse. Unimaginably high.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes, we’re actually hiring for 2 positions at the moment. One is “customer manager” and the other is “publishing coach”. You must have experience in customer support or have built and successful publishing businesses to be eligible to apply.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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