Hey, welcome to the seanwes podcast!
You’re about to read an in-depth case study on the launch of my new Learn Lettering courses. However, I want to make sure you know that these are simply the accompanying notes to the ACTUAL SHOW.
I’d strongly encourage you to listen to the audio podcast for an even more in-depth look at what lead up to this. It’s much, much more than merely a reading of what you see here. It’s entirely separate, valuable content.
Play the episode:
You did read that part above where I strongly encouraged you to listen to the actual audio, right?
Ok, cool! Let’s check out the details…
The year was 2012.
I had been lettering for a few years, building a portfolio and creating a ton of work. Once my work started to garner attention, emails started coming in from people asking where to start with hand lettering. They wanted me to share tips on how to create lettering.
So I put up a tutorial on my website. It was a step-by-step tutorial showing how I came up with and executed a concept for a hand-lettered quote design.
Within a year, this was read by over 200,000 people. It took me 6 months of having this page up before I even thought to put a subscribe box on the page. I was just starting to learn more about marketing and the importance of your email list.
I put up a box that said “Subscribe to hear when I post new lettering tutorials” in June of 2013. I was getting a dozen subscribers a day for awhile, which grew to a steady 25 subscribers a day.
Announcing Learn Lettering
I knew there was interest in a thorough lettering education. 200,000 people had shown me that. It was time to step things up from the simple tutorial.
I spent the next 3 months working on a landing page that would announce Learn Lettering. 3 months on a single page. I wrote and rewrote the copy, obsessed over the design, crafted illustrations, and thought hard about the value proposition I was projecting.
By the time I was ready to announce, the list had 2,700 subscribers. I didn’t know what to expect.
Creating the Lead Magnet
I’d been reading books, articles, listening to podcasts and immersing myself in the world of marketing. I just dove in completely and consumed everything I could and applied all that I learned to this one page.
I learned about Lead Magnets. It’s the incentive for someone to subscribe. Instead of saying “Subscribe to hear” you say “Subscribe to get my free guide.” Provide immediate value.
What kind of value? Surprisingly, I learned that there is virtually no difference between giving away something valued at $5 for free and giving away something valued at $50 for free in terms of conversion. That’s not to say what you provide shouldn’t be valuable, but you shouldn’t be so caught up on making your lead magnet something too elaborate.
I repurposed the existing guide that had been publicly viewable on my website for a year and already seen by over 200,000 as a PDF guide. I used this PDF guide as my lead magnet. The subscription box at the end of this overview of Learn Lettering said “Sign up below to stay updated and get notified of the launch. You’ll receive your very own copy of my 10-Step Introductory Lettering Guide for FREE when you subscribe.
I got 2,000 new subscribers within 72 hours of putting up the new page (Relate: e033 How I Grew My List by More Than 2,000 Subscribers in 72 Hours).
I Confirmed a Market. There was Clearly Interest.
I got 2,000 subscribers within 72 hours, yes, but it hardly slowed down after that. With this new overview page that I spent 3 months creating, I was averaging 60 subscribers a day. Then 70. Then the next month, 90.
In January of 2014 it was very solidly holding at an average of 105 subscribers a day.
While the Learn Lettering page is now launched with my full class offerings, I want to share with you the previous landing page that I’m describing, so you can study it.
Here it is below, in all of it’s 6,000-pixel-tall glory:
You’ll hear a lot of marketers tell you that you have to have your subscription box “above the fold,” but I’ve yet to hear of one experiencing the kind of numbers I did.
I broke their rules, and put mine towards the very end of my extremely long coming soon page. Why does it work?
- I identified a need that many people in my audience have.
- I made a value proposition that resonated strongly, and delivered it in the form of an engaging, well-written, beautifully illustrated format.
- I pushed them over the edge with my free incentive to subscribe with something that actually provided value.
Backwards-Building the Product
What a lot of people don’t know is that while I announced Learn lettering in November or 2013, I didn’t actually create the content until 2 weeks prior to launch.
Yes, you read that right: I didn’t make the actual product until 2 weeks before launch.
The reasons were many, but primarily, I was focused on building the infrastructure during this time, building not only the course backend for Learn Lettering, but also an entire Community membership section of my site. All this in addition to spending 20 hours a week producing this twice-a-week podcast.
All in all, I’ve invested about $20,000 in building out website infrastructure.
Originally, I was thinking I’d just use my webcam for the videos, but then quickly realized that would not be up to seanwes quality standards. My brand means quality, and I want people to immediately know they got their money’s worth within watching 1 second of my video content.
So I spent about $2,000 on a new Canon 6D, and $1,400 on a 35mm f/1.4 lens. This was with less than 5-figures in my bank account. I’ve done nothing but invest everything I have for the past year to make the production quality on par with the depth and value of my content.
As I continued to develop my understanding of marketing principles, I applied what I learned to not only my launch, but also how I created and packaged my materials. Had I started producing the courses back in November, I would not have been able to apply all that I’d been learning.
Also, the cohesiveness of the video and camera quality would likely lack continuity and cohesiveness. It only made sense to batch produce it all at once.
Not Enough Time
In my naïveté, I allotted 1 week for the production of the courses. I erroneously wagered I could for the most part complete a course a day, while doubling up on a few of the days to complete 2 courses.
I could not have been more wrong.
Long-time listeners know I’m rigorous about my podcast release schedule. I put out two high-quality podcasts a week, and I do it consistently. Even though I wanted to take off a week to produce the courses, I would not allow myself to miss the scheduled podcasts.
So I doubled up on the recordings.
We recorded multiple shows for consecutive recording sessions to queue up 2 episodes for the week I was to take off. Very quickly into my week of production, I recognized how short I had come up in my estimations for the course production. I needed 2 weeks. I needed more than 2 weeks.
But I didn’t have more than 2 weeks.
My friend, Matt, came over to help me plan. We recorded an impromptu episode (Related: e059 Why Competitors Are Not a Threat & The Reason You Should Be Announcing Your Product Launch Ahead of Time) to give listeners at least one episode, because I was going to have to take off another week from the show.
There was no going back. I had to do this. By this point, my list had grown to over 15,000 subscribers. I’d been sending them sample videos of the course content. I’d been promising March 24th for a month now. This was it.
From March 9th to March 24th, I worked 291 hours. 17 hours a day, every day, until the day before launch, when I started at 10:00am on Sunday and worked 36 hours straight.
I’m not saying I did it right. I’m saying I did it wrong. I’m saying I would do it differently if I did it again, and I’m saying I’ll do it differently next time. The lesson I learned is to allot 3x the amount of time you think you need. I hope you learn from my mistake.
But I got it done.
Applying Everything I Know
Many people I know have a hard time deciding what to pursue, because they have too many passions (Related: e050 Weathering the Seasons of Your Passions). I believe you should pursue one thing at a time and not worry about what you’re missing out on. Focus on that one thing for now and embrace this season that you’re in.
What you’re learning will come back and benefit you in the future in ways that you would never foresee.
Over the years, I’ve invested lots of time learning skills, software, and methods for all kinds of various things.
Here’s just a sample of the things I did during the production of Learn Lettering
- Transcript Writing – I was able to write thousands of words per day because of the habits I had built up with my Early Wake, Daily Write initiative.
- Speaking – This is how I got better at speaking: I sucked at speaking when I started. I got better because I decided to suck at it until I was good instead of giving up because I sucked. I would write, then read and record myself, listen to myself, correct my words, redeliver, and do it all over again. Writing has improved my speaking, which has improved my podcasting, which has improved my writing.
- Audio – I spent many, many hours learning audio production. I used to be very into music production. I spent 30 hours of tutorials learning Ableton Live. This helped a lot when I got into podcasting and learned Logic Pro. I produced not only my own podcast music, but also the intro music for the Learn Lettering videos.
- Video – I also spent a lot of time learning about video. Researching codecs, frame rate, aperture, video editing software, color correction, 3-point lighting, etc.
- Illustration – I created all of the illustrations you see on the landing page.
- Animation – Back in the day I got really into animation and learning AfterEffects. It’s not something I did every day, but when it came to Learn Lettering, the knowledge I’d acquired gave me the ability to animate my own intro clip.
- Coding – I used to do freelance web design. When I started a partnership web firm, I focused more on the interface and less on the code. However, I’ve never allowed myself to get out of touch. I’m constantly pushing myself to hold a current understanding of code and its limitations. In more recent years, I’ve made an effort to expand my knowledge on PHP which has allowed me to update, improve, and modify my existing site and occasionally create really useful bits of conditional code on my own. I do like to defer to a developer who specializes, but for small minor things, I don’t have to be stuck.
All of this is done over years. I didn’t learn all of this just for Learn Lettering. I learned it in my spare time. Instead of playing video games, instead of watching TV shows, instead of browsing Reddit, instead of reading books or going out drinking, I spent every waking moment learning.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those things. They’re perfectly healthy. I’m just saying everything is a matter of priority. The information is out there. I learned everything I mentioned for free on the internet.
The internet is a vast wealth of knowledge. You can acquire 80% of master-level education in any trade on the internet for free if you really seek it and apply yourself. What paid information that makes up that last 20% is remarkably inexpensive when compared to traditional education.
I’ve aimed to make Learn Lettering this 20%.
Packaging the Courses the Smart Way
Up to this point, I had been planning on releasing all 10 courses individually with a discount on the full package.
That is, until I talked to Nathan Barry. I’ve been subscribed to Nathan’s newsletter, and the information he shares on marketing has had a significant impact.
After some months of receiving his email courses on Mastering Product Launches, I happened to notice that Nathan had actually subscribed to my Learn Lettering list.
I took the opportunity to email him and thank him for the value I’d gotten out of his material. I’d already bought his book, Authority, but I felt a personal thanks was due.
We exchanged a few more emails, which lead to me describing my launch plan and packages to him as I mentioned above.
This is where Nathan disagreed with me. Here was his reply:
1) People want to know what order they should go through the tutorials. “Any order works” is not an acceptable answer. Tell them “start here, then go here.” Even if any order works fine, people want to be told what to do. If they don’t like your order, they will skip around, but provide a default.
2) I would recommend selling it in 3 tiers.
a) Masterclass — 10 courses ($199)
b) Intermediate — 3 courses ($79)
c) Starter — 1 course ($29)
Pitch them in that order. Most expensive first. Then you can say, if you don’t have money for the full course, get the first three lessons for $79 (a slight discount). If that is still outside your budget, or you just want to try it out, you can get the starter lesson for $29. You can still mention that each lesson is worth $29 (shown by the starter course), and that by buying the complete package you are saving $90.
This changed my whole approach.
Doing Away With Piecemealed Classes
What originally was a bunch of individual courses now completely shifted in my mind to a full curriculum. All of the information in my mind rearranged itself and was put back together in a thorough, well-thought-out education.
This was pure fortune. The fact that I waited until the very end of my launch build-up to actually produce the courses paid off. I now produced the courses with this new end goal in mind. I was building a curriculum—not a series of piecemealed classes.
When I read that email above, I immediately told my wife and two other close friends who knew about all my planning, marketing, and launching that I could give him $1,000 for that email alone.
And true to my word, I did.
I also said, it goes to show the value of that information to the right person. That email means nothing to anyone, but when I read it, I said “I could give him $1,000 for that email alone.”
The day after my launch, Nathan launched his new offering, Mastering Product Launches. Go see him explain how to double your launch revenue. I purchased the $999 package without even thinking. It didn’t matter what the content was, I had already purposed to give Nathan $1,000 because of the value he had already provided me.
You Will Not Please Everyone – That’s the Point
Switching to this full-education model and away from the individual classes didn’t make everyone happy. In fact, I got many disappointed emails, comments, and messages with people expressing their dismay at the fact that they could not pick and choose or create their own package.
However I also heard from a lot of people in my audience that they wanted a comprehensive curriculum. Something they could go through, knowing that the content and the order was well thought-out.
There are more than enough piecemeal classes out there—I know you want something exhaustive and that’s what I’m going to give you.
I had people commenting on my free full lesson videos on YouTube saying I was doing this all wrong and the pricing was bad for my business. They said I should make it cheaper. They said they’re going to find a way to download it for free at some point.
Freeloaders will be freeloaders. The end. Move on and provide value to your true customers.
Launching Learn Lettering
I didn’t start emailing this list of 15,000 until March 19. This was a mistake. If I were to do it again, I would do it differently. I should have been emailing them much sooner, and building up trust and keeping myself in the forefronts of their minds.
Fortunately, I had been doing a really good job of this on various social media platforms, but as the sales numbers will soon show, the money is in the email list.
I was honestly scared to email 15,000 people. I felt like whatever I said had better be extremely valuable and worth someone’s time if I was going to bother that many people. Because I was backwards-building and waited so long to produce the courses, I didn’t have any videos until the final two weeks prior to the launch.
I wanted my first email to provide immense value. I still think that was a smart choice, but I wish I had planned it to where I could have provided that sooner.
Here’s the email breakdown:
Free Video Tutorial from Learn Lettering, March 19
A full, 12-minute video lesson. Explained that 40+ more video lessons were coming Monday. 8 hours of video. What’s next: A full breakdown of every course and lesson included in Learn Lettering. Then: An exclusive 20% launch discount.
- Recipients: 14,638
- Open Rate: 52.3%
- Click Rate: 20.1%
- Unsubscribe Rate: 0.31%
A first look at Learn Lettering, March 21
Insanely detailed, comprehensive look at every single course, and all 50 lessons by name and run time. Also disclosed prices. Linked again to the previous free video, and promised that tomorrow I would send another free video lesson.
- Recipients: 15,113
- Open Rate: 50.7%
- Click Rate: 8.9%
- Unsubscribe Rate: 0.50%
Another Free Video Tutorial from Learn Lettering, March 22
Provided second full video lesson. Answered a lot of FAQ, including why there would not be a “create your own piecemealed package” option. Let them know that there would be a 20% discount on Monday.
- Recipients: 15,154
- Open Rate: 45.1%
- Click Rate: 13.5%
- Unsubscribe Rate: 0.36%
Learn Lettering is LIVE (+ 20% Discount), March 24
To the point. Multiple links. Learn Lettering is LIVE. Go check it out: 10 courses, 50 video lessons, 8 hours of video. Thanks for sharing.
- Recipients: 15,381
- Open Rate: 40.9%
- Click Rate: 12.4%
- Unsubscribe Rate: 0.50%
- Revenue: $45,560
Last Chance for 20% Off Learn Lettering Master Class, March 25
This was the “Last Chance, you only have 2 hours left” email, reminding them that it’s the last time there will ever be a discount. I will never discount Learn Lettering again—it’s just too valuable. Included a screenshot breakdown of the actual page’s overview of the exhaustive Master Class content.
- Recipients: 15,024 (excludes those who already purchased)
- Open Rate: 32.09%
- Click Rate: 6.1%
- Unsubscribe Rate: 0.53%
- Revenue: $14,935
24-Hour Revenue Breakdown
I was modestly projecting that of the people that would buy from me, 30% would get the Master Class and 70% would get the other offerings. I based my estimations off of this breakdown, and ad an anticipated 2% conversion on the list total.
- Master Class Purchases: 30%
- List Conversion: 2%
- “Flop” Revenue: $20,000
- Likely Revenue: $35,000
- Hopeful Revenue: $50,000
Actual 24-Hour Revenue
- Master Class Purchases: 85%
- Total List Conversion: 2%
- Opened Email Conversion: 4%
- Total Revenue From List: $60,495
- Total Non-List Revenue: $20,917
- Grand Total: $81,412
- 12:00pm: Launch
- 12:30pm: $10,000
- 1:30pm: $20,000
- 3:30pm: $30,000
- 6:00pm: $40,000
- 9:00pm: $50,000
- 6:00am: $60,000
- 12:00pm: $81,412
Talking Real Numbers
Growing up, I never got the impression that it was ever appropriate to talk about what you make. Annual salaries were a personal thing, and asking about someone else’s finances would be considered an intrusion if not an outright taboo.
But on my podcast, I get real with you. I get vulnerable. I am completely transparent and candid about the details, because I want you to know that making a living doing what you love is possible. I want you to know that this is real, I’m a real person, and you can do this. I want to help you do this.
So I decided to throw my inhibitions to the wind and share freely. I’ve shared with the podcast listeners freely up to this point about how hard I was working, and how much I was investing, and the long-time listeners deserve to see the pay-off.
My post-launch plan this year has been to write my book, The Overlap Technique. It’s a calculated guide to doing what you love vocationally without the cliches. It’s calculated steps to pursuing your passion and making a living at it.
Here’s the kicker: I’m giving it away for FREE. Why? Because I can. My whole plan for writing this book and giving it away has been based on the Learn Lettering launch going well. I don’t need to make money from the book, so I’m not going to try to profit monetarily from it.
I want to help you. I want you to know that this is possible. I’ve been saying this since before I had the money. Only now is the tip of the iceberg surfacing enough to lend credence to my words. The people I want to help with The Overlap Technique are people who are struggling when it comes to pursuing their passion. I sent out a newsletter asking what your biggest challenge is, and I got a lot of responses.
Here’s just a few of the MANY responses I received:
- What if I’m a Jack of all trades master of none?
- Will my debt make it impossible?
- How do I overcome fear?
- What if I don’t have a day job?
- I’m 40 and I have a family—is it too late?
- How do I manage my time?
- What if I don’t have any money to invest?
- Can I be sure I’m really passionate about this?
- How do I go about monetizing?
- Where do I even start?
- What’s a good daily structure for staying focused?
- How do you balance pursuing passion & family?
- I’m scared to put myself out there—what will people think of me?
These are fantastic. I can’t wait to really go deep in the book and address each of them with some practical steps. These go a long way towards clearly defining the problems and challenges.
If you’d like to receive my book for FREE when it launches, go here:
If this is your first time visiting, welcome! I hope you also listened to the actual podcast episode at the top of this page. This case study is entirely separate from the actual show we did. They are complimentary, but very diversified in content! I’d encourage you to give it a listen.
Also, if you’re interested in getting insight into the mindset I had before the money, I just put up an accompanying blog post that contains a newsletter email I wrote two months ago. It’s called:
Given that I wrote it a couple months back, and I’m now sitting on $93,587 as I write this, I think you’ll find it to be a rather unique insight.
The seanwes podcast
Lastly, you’re here reading the shownotes of one of the seanwes podcast episodes—1 of 60 total episodes, in fact. If you want an even greater behind-the-scenes look of what lead up to the success of this launch, there’s 59 other episodes for you to go through.
If you’re more of the forward-looking person, I’d strongly encourage you to subscribe to the newsletter below. I’m extremely dedicated to putting out 2, high-quality podcasts a week, and you’ll get the episodes, shownotes, and links in your inbox every Wednesday and Friday.
I hope you join me.
Show Note Links
- Learn Lettering
- Have you ever thought about what you’d do with an extra $100,000? (newsletter I wrote 2 months ago)
- 033: How I Grew My List by More Than 2,000 Subscribers in 72 Hours (podcast)
- 056: Eliminating Scarcity Mindset & Recalibrating Your Perspective (podcast)