Build a Sustainable, Profitable, Audience-Driven Business.
My name is Sean McCabe. I run a brand called seanwes.
It all started with hand lettering.
But that’s a long story (you can scroll down to read the extended version).
The short version is I spent 9,000 hours practicing a skill, got to the point where I was working with large clients, charging five-figure rates, and selling physical products with my own designs and shipping out orders every single day.
As well as this was going, the vast majority of my audience wanted to learn how to do what I did!
I launched a course teaching people how to make a living as a hand lettering artist. It made six figures in the first three days.
The next year, I did it again: Learn Lettering 2.0 also made six figures—this time in 26 hours.
I’ve gone on to teach many different courses on varying topics related to business and repeatedly achieving five and six-figure launches again and again with my systematized approach.
As much as I enjoyed design, what I’ve found I enjoy most is helping other people make a living from work that fulfills them.
I’ve made it my goal to demystify the path to building a sustainable, profitable, audience-driven business.
Here’s What I’ve Been Working On Recently
- I wrote a book called Overlap: The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Side Passion Into a Successful Business.
- I started a daily show, seanwes tv, where I share new videos with fiery inspiration on creativity and business 7 days a week. It’s currently on pause while I work on other projects, but you can view the archive.
- Every Wednesdays, I publish a new episode of the seanwes podcast on creativity and business.
- I teach a course on how to grow your business with writing: Supercharge Your Writing.
- I teach a course on how to stop trading time for money and start pricing your work on value: Value-Based Pricing.
- Every day, you can find me inside the Community where I’m helping people one-on-one when I’m not writing or streaming live shows.
- This fall, you can meet me in person at seanwes conference where I’ll be helping you grow your business.
That’s the short version of where you can find me.
Now let’s continue with the extended back story!
But first, here are few of the very best posts on seanwes.com:
Best Posts on seanwes.com
- How to Be Inspired Without Copying
- How to Show Up Every Day
- 10 Mistakes You’re Making With Clients That Cost You
- How to Overcome Self-Doubt, Get Rid of Anxiety, and Stay Focused
- 6 Ways to Develop Self-Discipline
- Behind the Scenes of a $177,803 Hand Lettering Course Launch That Made the First Six Figures in 26 Hours
- 8 Ways to Be Constantly Improving
- Getting Started With Value-Based Pricing
- 10 Steps to Launching an Online Course
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A Tale of Too Many Passions
Narrowing my focus led to the greatest increase in exposure I’d ever experienced.
Now that I’ve learned firsthand what works, I’m on a mission to teach as many people as possible how to find what they love to do and make a living from it.
I have a lot of passions. Maybe you can relate. You’re good at a lot of things, you have many skills and a plethora of interests.
So did I.
I’ve done everything from fixing and reselling PDAs on eBay as a 12-year-old, to running a profitable computer repair business with residential and commercial clients and contracts in my later teens, to running a partnership web firm, and even playing piano and guitar full time in a band.
I wanted to do everything. I did do everything.
I did logo design, user interface, animation, videography, illustration, icon design, screencasts, audio production, coding, and I shared it all.
I was good at all of it too. Not just good, but I was obsessed with being the best at whatever I did.
But there was a problem.
I wasn’t getting anywhere. My exposure wasn’t increasing, my audience wasn’t growing, and I wasn’t getting recognition for any of my work. I was working extremely hard and putting in long hours and it felt like I was just spinning my wheels.
It felt like I was running in place, going nowhere fast.
I had shiny object syndrome. I had it bad.
But how could you fault me when I so thoroughly enjoyed doing all of those things? Not only that, but I was good at every single one of them. Darn good.
Show Up Every Day for Two Years
A dormant passion of mine was hand lettering. I used to draw letters in middle school before I even knew what the word “typography” was.
I’d spend more time writing “Lesson 32” at the top of my schoolwork than I did on the actual lesson.
It wasn’t that I got bad grades (I actually got really good grades), but just that I was so obsessed with how the letters looked.
Years later, I found out lettering was a real thing, and typography a respected trade.
I started practicing.
I was obsessed.
At the time, I was in the web firm my business partner and I started. We were regularly working 10 hours a day, trying to get traction with our new firm.
After work, I spent between 6–8 hours a night, every single night, 7 days a week practicing lettering.
I did this for two years.
I shared my work publicly for two years and only a few people cared. No one really noticed.
Then they did.
When it was happening, it didn’t exactly feel like it changed overnight, but in retrospect it seems like it did.
Suddenly, after showing up every day for two years, people started to notice. People started to care.
People started asking for my work on t-shirts and prints.
I produced a run of t-shirts.
It sold out.
I produced another run of t-shirts.
It sold out again.
This happened five times.
Curate What You Share
Oh, I left out a very important piece of the story.
Remember earlier when I told you I was doing logo design, user interface, animation, videography, illustration, icon design, and more?
I was still doing that. Only this time, I decided to change things.
I decided to only share hand lettering.
Even though I was still doing all kinds of work for clients and my day job, I decided to only share hand lettering on my online portfolios and social media accounts.
This is where I saw the greatest inflection point of my career in terms of exposure.
I call this curating what you share. By curate I mean: selectively project a single, focused thing.
They’re Going to Put You in a Box
Why did this work?
Suddenly, people “got” what I was about. When you project a myriad of random things, people cannot process you.
The reality is that people put other people in boxes. It’s nothing personal, it’s simply that we’re cognitively limited to 150 close relationships. Beyond that, we’re unable to internalize the complexities of every unique individual.
In a world of social media noise and information overload, people are forced to simply put you in a box.
You cannot do anything about the fact that people will put you in box. What you can do is define the box they’re already going to put you in.
How do you define it?
You pick one thing and you selectively project that single, focused thing.
Watch what happens when you do this…
Teach What You Know
Around this time, I started to get a lot of inquiries from people asking how to get started with hand lettering. At first, I answered them. One by one, I replied to every single person’s questions and shared tips I had picked up.
Eventually, 5 people were emailing me a day. I decided instead of personally answering emails every day, I would make a guide.
I wrote and put up a 10-step introductory lettering guide on my website. This was before I knew anything about email lists or lead magnets. I just put it on my site as a page viewable by anyone.
Within a year, a staggering 200,000 people had read that guide.
There was clearly an interest here and room to go deeper.
I had a lot to teach. By this point in the story, I’d already pivoted to doing hand lettering full time. I was working with clients, charging 5-figure rates, and reinvesting that money into my own physical products.
But even though I was making incredible money with clients and shipping out physical products every single day, I was ignoring the elephant in the room: people who wanted to learn how to do what I did.
Use Your Unique Advantage
The guide was such a massive hit, I knew I needed to produce a course to go in depth.
I spent the next six month working 18 hours a day on client work. I worked, and worked, and worked, and saved up enough money to quit client work and live off of savings for six months.
During those six months, I did two things:
- I started backwards-building my course.
- I immersed myself in the world of marketing.
See, I had a unique advantage. Yes, I’d spent 9,000 hours practicing hand lettering, but I also came from a very unique perspective.
Where as most artists were teaching people how to draw letters, my background was in business. I knew how to work with clients, price with confidence, and write design and licensing contracts. I was doing this full time.
That’s when it hit me: I would teach people how to make a living as a hand lettering artist.
What greater disconnect is there than the one between art and business? It’s incredibly rare for artists to have good business sense. It’s equally rare for the people who have a thorough understanding of business to be good at art.
I was a master at both.
My mind was not clouded by the “starving artist” stigmas that so thoroughly pervaded the industry. I knew the value of my work and I knew how to work with clients and make money.
Meanwhile, most scarcity-minded artists were hindered by their feelings of imposter syndrome and deathly afraid of being called a “sell out” by their peers if they ever broke the mold.
I aimed to change that with my course: Learn Lettering Master Class.
This course was over 50 lessons and 8 hours of high-quality videos teaching students not only lettering techniques but the business knowledge they needed to succeed in the real world.
Six Figure Course Launch
During the six months I took off of client work, I focused on producing the Learn Lettering course and learning everything I could about marketing.
When it came time to launch, I applied everything I’d learned about marketing in that half year.
The course made six figures in the first 3 days.
This got people’s attention. When people hear that a hand lettering artist made six figures in three days, they’re very intrigued.
But was it a fluke?
The following year, I produced a new version of the course: Learn Lettering 2.0. This one had 50% more videos—75 lessons this time.
What happened when I launched?
Six figures again. Only this time, it was six figures in 26 hours.
It wasn’t a fluke.
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Podcasting Twice a Week
I’d seen the value firsthand of sharing everything I learned and teaching what I knew.
When it came to business and marketing, I decided to do the same.
I began podcasting twice a week on the seanwes podcast.
Every Wednesday and Friday for hundreds of episodes now, I’ve been sharing everything I learn and giving it away. We provide insights on client work, pricing, professionalism, content marketing, email marketing, hiring, courses, motivation, scaling, sales, perfectionism, discipline, building an audience, public speaking, writing, conferences, day jobs, the no-debt mentality, goals, failure, success, and so, so, much more.
The podcast has seven-figure downloads now.
We’ve had people write us and say they’ve been able to quit their day job, charge more with clients, start their product business, and even some who have moved across the world as a result of what they learned in the seanwes podcast.
“It’s life-changing,” we often hear.
Many of those life-changing conversations were happening in email. People would write in to thank us for the show and we’d end up having incredible conversations over email.
But no one else was able to benefit from these conversations!
I knew we needed a centralized place to share these discussions. I knew we needed to create a place where podcast listeners across the globe of like mind could come together.
Enter: the Community.
The Community is the hub of seanwes. It’s where the magic happens.
- There are live shows streamed every single day in the Community.
- The people here are serious about growing their business.
- You’ve never experienced a more abundant mindset than the one shared by the members of the Community.
- Every hour of the day, every timezone across the world, there are people online who are eager to provide quality feedback.
- Our custom-built chat system makes for a Community experience unlike any you’ve ever seen.
- With our mobile app, you can listen to live streams and access the chat on the go at any time.
But it wasn’t always like this!
The Community began in 2013 as a forum. It was simply a place where listeners could connect with each other and go in depth on the topics we discussed in the podcast.
I knew I wanted the quality of conversation to stay high, so I put a price on membership. Since then, the Community has remained a paid subscription.
Unlike other membership sites, I never discount the price or offer free or $1 trials. As a result, the quality of people inside the Community is unmatched. Only the serious are here. It has never been about numbers for me, but about the depth of engagement.
On the fence about joining the @seanwes Community? I just earned $16.4k return in one month based entirely on conversations I had in there.
— Joe Allen (@joeallenpro) April 2, 2016
In the early days, we figured we might as well stream the show live to the Community members as a perk of their membership.
Of course, if people were listening live, they’d probably want a way to chat with each other.
We couldn’t have predicted the impact of the chat.
At the time, we were using a basic chat plugin. It worked alright until it didn’t. Because it was poorly built and not optimized for scale, it would slow the site to a crawl and eventually crash if too many people were on it at once.
I decided to hire one of the members to build a bespoke chat system just for the Community.
$50,000 and half a year later, we have what I believe to be one of the most incredible chat systems for a community ever built.
We’re now nearing our second year of development on this chat system and I ended up inviting the developer to join the seanwes team full time.
You can hear more about the story here (it’s a long story), but we now have one of the most immersive community experiences you’ve ever seen.
After a pivotal conversation, seanwes became something bigger than just myself.
The company, seanwes (origin story), was originally representing only myself. I realize though, after I’d spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over years of 18-hour days building this infrastructure, that what I’d built was able to do much more than just serve my own projects.
I opened up the platform to a select group of close friends and Community members and we now have a number of podcasts on the seanwes network.
All podcasts on the seanwes network are 100% sponsor-free and supported by the Community.
Meetups & Conference
In 2015, we hosted a number of seanwes meetups in major cities like New York City, Dallas, and San Francisco.
Dozens if not hundreds of people in total came out to the meetups. Many were Community members and others were podcast listeners.
These meetups were such a success, we decided to take things to the next level in 2016 with the inaugural seanwes conference in Austin, Texas.
I’m Writing a Book in a Month
Though I’ve written millions of words and recorded hundreds of podcasts, videos, and courses, it took until 2016 to write my first book.
I took off July of 2016 to write Overlap, and I shared daily journal entry and live video recap of the writing process each day.
Daily Journal Entries:
- Writing a Book in a Month
- Day 1 – Getting Started Is the Hardest Part
- Day 2 – The Second Hardest Day
- Day 3 – It Really Does Get Easier
- Day 4 – Nope, It’s Just One Book
- Day 5 – Writing a 100,000-Word Book in 15 Days?
- Day 6 – Don’t Break the Chain
- Day 7 – Writing Comes Easy When...
- Day 8 – How to Make Money
- Day 9 – A Deadline and a Reward
- Day 10 – It’s Starting to Feel Like My Life
- Day 11 – Tracking Time Usage
- Day 12 – Writing a Book Twice as Fast
- Day 13 – Don’t Squander the Early Morning
- Day 15 – I Finished the Book!
Learn more about the book: OverlapBook.com
Overlap: Getting from the life you have to the life you want.
- Find what you’re actually passionate about.
- Sustainably make money from work you enjoy doing.
- Get more time in a day.
- Increase your focus and get twice the amount of work done.
- Maintain the habit of waking up early so you can own the day.
- Get your family on board with your goal even if they’re scared.
- Get out of scarcity mindset and create an abundant life.
- Produce multiple streams of income.
- Build an audience and make a name for yourself.
- Give to others and leave a lasting impact.
Thanks for reading!