Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I've set a big goal for myself for the next year to fulfill the whole process of creating a landing page. I'm doing this by creating micro products, which focus on solving one specific problem. The plan is to eventually bundle all these products into one massive landing page creating a machine.
All products together currently earn $1K recurring revenue each month, but my last product launch, Headlime, pulled in $16.000 dollars in 48 hours. I will focus this interview on Headlime launch, as this has been the most successful one where I put all tricks to work.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My story starts in 2015 (I was 21 back then) when I launched Landingfolio, a design gallery featuring the best landing page designs on the web. I worked as a freelance Conversion Optimization Specialist and couldn't find any good inspiration when designing landing pages for clients. This set me to create my very first personal side project.
Build something you would use yourself. If no one buys it, it's still of value to you. Also, you are the best customer and know exactly what you want.
Landingfolio quickly grew to one of the biggest inspiration websites targeting landing pages and gets around 1000 visitors per day. Inspiration websites are super hard to monetize as designers mostly come for inspiration and leave again. I've run the website for 4 years without doing much about earning money with it and mostly focussed on client work.
That is, until one year ago. I started living as a digital nomad, traveling around the world, and met loads of creative people with successful online SaaS businesses. These people inspired me a lot and I saw what I could make of Landingfolio if I would just know how to program.
So I made a tough decision. Cut down my client work to only two days a week and focus the rest of the four days (one day off) learning to program. Cue in a journey of eight months full time learning to program. I cannot learn by doing courses, so I decided to rebuild Landingfolio while learning.
In May 2020 I put the new website live and slowly sales started to come in. Landingfolio currently sits on around $300 MMR. Not a great success, but the ability to earn money online awoken a flame inside of me.
I used all the learnings from Landingfolio to create my second product, Inspireframe, which was released in June 2020. Inspireframe did even better with $2000 sales in the first week and bringing my total MMR to around $600 a month.
I tested a lot of strategies in this launch, documented them all for later use, and used them all for my latest and most successful product launch ever.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
So, here we are. Five years after creating my first online product. Launching a product and doing $16K in sales within 48 hours. I'm still shocked by it. Some would call it an overnight success, but you know different after reading the above paragraphs.
The launch of Headlime was in hindsight a well-crafted machine. I will break it down here so you can learn from it.
Headlime is a tool that generates high converting headlines for you. You simply fill in variables and my tool generates over 200 headline options for you to use in your landing page, ads, and emails.
Three years ago I and a friend wrote a book, Headline Formulas, which to this day sold over 600 copies. This basically validated the need for Headlime. I decided to turn Headline Formulas into a tool because of two simple reasons: Books are worth less than tools and it would be easy for me to launch, as I already had all sales copy ready for a new launch.
But, to make sure Headlime was really a tool people wanted I did a little extra validation.
The first validation was testing if people would actually sign up. I created a few Adwords campaigns with different headlines. This way I not only tested interest but also tested which headlines would convert best.
The winning test had a 29% Click Through Ratio and the landing page (below) converted at 13.5%. That's really impressive for an Adwords campaign.
Throughout building the product, I also tweeted a lot about the progress. This, together with the Adwords campaign, resulted in a pre-launch email list of 350 email addresses. This and the high number of book sales gave me the confidence to keep working on the project.
Describe the process of launching the business.
One month later, Headlime was finished. Now it was time to launch. Launching in the digital product world can make or break your product. It's the difference between slow and quick growth. As I wrote above, I learned a bunch from my previous product launched. This time I would make sure that I got everything right.
I started pre-launching five days before the real launch. This included sending a daily email to my waiting list. Warming them up about the upcoming launch, by explaining the product and how it would solve their copywriting problems. I also started to show parts of the products to my Twitter followers, getting them excited about what was to come.
Then Monday came, the day of my launch. Most digital products utilize Producthunt, a website was ranking the best product launches of that day. Producthunt is a massive traffic boost. Being number one is hard, but well worth the effort. So, for the launch, I decided to utilize all of my marketing channels to gain momentum. I call it the flywheel.
A quick definition of what a flywheel is: "A flywheel is a device specifically designed to store rotational energy. To change a flywheel's stored energy its rotational speed must be increased".
Flywheels need incremental energy to build up their speed. You start with a little and eventually it speeds up more and more. I use the following steps to speed up the flywheel.
It started with my group of friends who are all in the digital product world. I announced that I launched my product and linked them to my launch tweet. They liked and retweeted the Tweet and upvoted my product on Producthunt. This gave a little swing to the flywheel and made it start.
Twitter is one of my biggest traffic boosters. I created a well-crafted launch tweet, explaining the product and its benefits and linked it to my Producthunt post. I had about 1400 followers at the time of launch, but the engagement on the tweets was enormous.
One single tweet got almost 70.000 impressions and sent 1900 people to my Producthunt launch, leading into a massive increase in engagement on the platform.
I also sent launch emails to my email subscribers (a little shy below 1000 emails) which even further drove the engagement.
The launch was an absolutely massive success, earning my $16.000 within 48 hours. I launched with a limited lifetime plan deal. Customers buying this plan would get lifetime access to Headlime and only have to pay once. This option sold out within 12 hours! I increased the price for the next limited deal and this one is still selling a few thousand dollars a day.
I think this is one of the most important parts of the launch. Scarcity really makes people buy products faster because they're afraid of losing a good deal. I also chose to launch with a lifetime deal, because I prefer to get revenue upfront.
Most people want recurring revenue as this makes money come back every month. But, I did a calculation. $89 is nine months of membership. There is a high chance that customers will cancel their subscription before that. Getting the revenue upfront also enables me to have a longer runway. $16.000 can last a long time and provides all my living expenses. This way I have many more months to focus on building my company.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The launch has been only a few days ago, but I've done a few things to keep the momentum going.
I keep on posting daily revenue updates and success stories about the launch. Lots of my following find this inspiring as they are working on products like mine too. This encourages them to do the same.
Don't be afraid. Find a like-minded group of people who do the same as you and stimulate you to do even better. You got this!
I also wrote a detailed, technical write-up of the product launch on IndieHackers. Indiehackers is a community of bootstrapping companies like me, helping each other out to create a successful company. Indiehackers have helped me tremendously in the past and this was my way of giving back to the community.
For the future, I'll be adding new features to Headlime and trying out to set up advertising the keep on finding new customers. There are many businesses that need high converting headlines, so I am pretty sure there are many more sales to follow.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The nice thing about launching products like Headlime is that they are pretty simple. All basic features are already there so there is not much to improve. Of course, there are many feature requests and I'll be implementing them in the coming weeks.
After that, I'll start working on my next product. I've set a goal for myself to create products for every part of the landing page creation process, like design, copywriting, development, and optimization. All these products will be launched separately.
Eventually, the plan is to combine all these products into one big landing page creation tool, which I can sell for a high monthly price. If I start building this all in one tool, it would take many years to finish and not get any revenue. By splitting them into smaller products, I can take revenue upfront and reinvest it into developing more products.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have a few rules I live by when it comes to my business and my work.
Build something you would use yourself. If no one buys it, it's still of value to you. Also, you are the best customer and know exactly what you want. This way, you don't have to heavily rely on user testing.
Build something you love. There are many bigger markets. I could build a product for dentists. But in the end, is that going to make me happy when I wake up? No. By creating something you love, you'll wake up every day with fresh energy.
Build in the open. Share your progress. This not only builds a following of interested customers but also gives you immediate feedback on what they want and don't want. I post all the progress I make on my Twitter.
Build and launch fast. Don't work on a product for years without ever charging someone. You will only find out no one wants to buy it when it's too late. Charge and charge early
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Notion for note-taking and product management
- Twitter for marketing and publishing my progress
- Heroku to host my products
- NodeJS, MongoDB and Digital Ocean for my backend
- Heroku and Nuxt for my frontend
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I'm an absolute massive podcast and book fan. I'm especially fond of behavioral psychology books and I am still not sure why I studied psychology. Below is a list of my favorites:
- Indie Hackers - interviews of product makers like me
- My First Million - two guys bantering about the latest products and trends
- How I Build This - amazing in-depth interviews about how the founders of big companies got started
- Reply All - All things internet. The most hilarious podcast ever and so well crafted
- Criminals - The storytelling in here is so good
- The Alchemist - I reread this book every year and give it to everyone on their birthday
- Influence - Everything you need to know about persuasiveness
- Obviously Awesome - How to position your product
- I Am Pilgrim - You won't stop reading until you finished al 1000 pages
- Ready Player One
- Man's Search of Meaning
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
You're living in the golden age of entrepreneurialism. You can learn everything online for free. You can promote your products for free. And you can basically create your product for free. Just start. Launch your product and learn from it.
Don't be afraid. Find a like-minded group of people who do the same as you and stimulate you to do even better. You got this!
Where can we go to learn more?
Follow me on Twitter and create it together with me. I frequently share progress and tips. I also linked all the products I am working on in my bio. Check it out!
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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