Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi! My name is Diego and two years ago I launched a blog called Markeko. I help people prepare, study and pass the Facebook Blueprint Certification exams through free study guides and paid practice questions.
Our blog generates $4K a month and has a thriving community of +11K members.
Outside of Facebook, we have the biggest and most important community of Facebook marketers who are Facebook Blueprint certified.
I do have a full-time job at another company and am currently in the process of transitioning to Markeko full time.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
“You’ve been kicked out of the group!”
I was surprised… but also it was the time I knew I had to do something about it!
Facebook announced that they were launching their Facebook Blueprint Certifications for the public back in 2017. I thought it was a good idea to get certified as I was working in the digital marketing space but couldn’t really find content or helpful guides.
There was really no big plan or idea when I first started Markeko. I stumbled upon a problem when I first took the exam and realized more and more people were going through the same.
It really started with a comment on a digital marketing Facebook group.
I was a member of the Digital Marketer group and wrote a post as I had just passed the first Blueprint Exam. I got really good feedback and a lot of comments from others who were looking into taking the Facebook Blueprint Certification Exams.
I ultimately got kicked out of the group as the free study guide had links to the website I had just built; however, it was a great way to validate my product and idea without spending money on it!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
My first product was a Google document that I shared within a digital marketing group. The document was the guide I had used to study and prepare for when I first took the Facebook Blueprint exams.
There was no real structure in the document.
No design or branding.
A ton of grammatical errors.
And it viralized within the group. More than 100 people started using it, going through the Google document and commenting on how to improve the content.
It was an “aha” moment for me.
Don’t be afraid to price your product on the high-end: I made the decision to price my product too low thinking that I was gonna get more customers.
I bought the markeko.com domain, wrote a couple of blog posts and launched a landing page where people could register and download the same document for free. I also paid $5 for a logo (that I still use!).
At the same time, I opened a Facebook Group as I realized a number of people were asking the same questions online (Quora, LinkedIn, forums and so on).
After a year or so, about 2,500 people had downloaded the guide and many were asking for “practice questions”. People within the group were constantly asking for ways to study for the exam with real questions as some were not passing the exam.
So I decided to pre-launch my first paid product. I email the user base and wrote a post on the Facebook Group “pre-launching” our “Facebook Sample Questions” at $47 discount price. I figured if more than ten people bought the sample question at pre-launch, it was worth writing the questions.
To my surprise, more than fifteen people bought the questions and that was the beginning of our monetization and keep using the same formula for pre-launching our other products:
- Develop a landing page with new product
- Pre-launch by sending an email to our database and post to our Facebook Group 20 days in advance (price product at discount)
- See if people buy the product and start working on it
- Send reminder emails of discount 10, 3 and 1 day before launch date
- Launch product if there is enough traction from our users
It always works and allows me to gauge the interest of the community in the new products without actually having one ready!
Describe the process of launching the business.
I always strive to be lean when it comes to launching a business. I find ways to minimize costs and try to bring a good enough product to market to see if there is a need and minimize the risk of losing a lot of money along the way.
When I first launched Markeko, I spent probably about $150 on it. I’ve found the following list of tools as the best growth stack you can have when you start an online business:
- $5 for a logo on Fiverr. I still use the same logo!
- $5 for the domain on Godaddy
- $120 for hosting
- Find a free WordPress template or Thrive theme
- Use a free Drip account for email marketing
- Use the free version of Zapier to integrate tools
- If launching courses, there is also a free version of Thinkific that I first used
- Open a Facebook Group to build your community and connect with them
Your website does not have to be amazing!
It needs to look good enough to start building trust with your user base. This growth stack allows you to stay lean until you start getting traction on your business.
At least that was how I started! I honestly spend about a year just generating content, understanding what our community needed and building value first, before we launched a paid product.
Was that the right launch strategy?
Would I do things the same way?
Did I wait too long to launch my first paid product?
I don’t think I would have done things differently, but I do think I waited too long in launching my first product. I thought I needed to have a huge user base and tons of traffic on my blog before I could start monetizing my blog.
Don’t wait and think you need a huge audience to start monetizing your blog or online business.
And you don’t! If there is one thing I learned is that you don’t need thousands of users to start. You just need a few early adopters to polish your product and validate that your business models work and can scale.
So start early and don’t be afraid to launch products fast! Even if they are not perfect. Remember, at first you are validating your idea and can perfect your products over time. The market or your community will tell you what they need! Not the other way around.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Even though we teach people how to run Facebook ads, I decided to do things differently.
And focus on the things most people don’t do!
It took some time to work but paid off as most of our traffic, conversion and sales, come from three specific efforts I focused from the beginning:
- I became the #1 writer on the “Facebook Blueprint” topic within Quora
- I rank #1 for specific words around “Facebook Blueprint Exams” on Google and Youtube
- I have the biggest community of “Facebook Blueprint Experts” through our Facebook Group
The best part of all of this is… that it allows us to spend zero dollars on marketing as they all help us in different ways to convert to our products.
The Facebook Group has been fundamental in our growth and building credibility within our community. One of the most difficult aspects of selling content online is the “credibility” factor. For me, growing our #MarkekoTribe has been fundamental in growing our business.
Even though we have a low monthly revenue, we also have minimal expenses and a profit margin of +60%. I personally find this amazing as I don’t do this full time and spend roughly 3-4 hours a week on managing the business.
I do have an assistant that helps me run the day-to-day of the business but keep in mind that I live in Guatemala so costs are really low. Fiverr is also a must for any entrepreneur You can find amazing designers and social media content creators for really cheap! I freelance all of my design needs there and also allows me to minimize costs.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are currently growing our blog and product offerings. I am slowly focusing more and more of my time in Markeko and growing the business. It really started as a hobby and think am at a time to make it my full time.
We currently have a growing community of +10K members and have a goal to increase our sales from $4K monthly revenue to $10K by 1Q of next year.
I have three different practice questions for Facebook Blueprint Exams on my blog and plan to launch paid study guides and additional sample questions to continue growing our product offering.
I have also decided to expand our content into WhatsApp Business. I believe messaging will be a big digital marketing channel in the near future and think small businesses will need help in growing and selling through Whatsapp.
The plan is to move and do this full time eventually next year.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
You don’t need perfection to launch your product: Just be open to iterate and pivot your product as quickly as possible. The best way to validate your product is to put it out there and get customer’s feedback.
Don’t be afraid to price your product on the high-end: I made the decision to price my product too low thinking that I was gonna get more customers; however, I ended up realizing that people tend to use and perceive value more on high-end digital products.
Start monetizing as early as possible: Don’t wait and think you need a huge audience to start monetizing your blog or online business. This will give help you with cash flow and cover basic costs for running your business.
Marry the market not your product or idea: Make sure you understand what the market needs and develop a product with a need. Don’t spend too much time on your idea thinking that it must work. The market will help you decide what product to focus on and launch.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Here is a full list of tall the tools I currently use in my business:
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Though one and this might come as a surprise as this blog or person is not super well known but an amazing content creator:
Daniel Daines-Hutt at Inbound Ascension
I had read about SEO before through Backlinko but I don’t think there is a better content creator out there than Daniel. His blog posts taught me how to become a better writer, structure my blog posts in a way to capture leads and improve my efforts to build value through my content.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Traction is better than perfection. You can think and plan all you want, but there is no better way to learn about what the market wants and what products to launch than getting out there.
Don’t worry about making mistakes along the way. Learn from those mistakes and make sure you pivot your idea with what the market needs!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Currently, we are not looking to hire anyone as we freelance all of our projects through Fiverr. If you are a great designer and think you can help us improve our branding, shoot me an email!
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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