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We continue the hustle episode in an exhilarating part 2! I take you even further behind the scenes of the Learn Lettering 2.0 launch.

While I’m still not sharing exact revenue numbers yet (that’s coming in a future exhaustive case study), I do share my marketing techniques, and my crazy idea of giving away the $99 Starter Class for free, how it’s resulting in a video hosting bill in the thousands of dollars, and why I think it will be worth it.

I talk about the importance of honesty in marketing and how I’m trying something new and taking a leap. I’m sharing everything as I go so you can learn from it.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins:
  • Creating a story around a launch will build buzz.
  • The key to good marketing is being totally honest.
  • Don’t devalue your workshops by discounting—charge full price or make them free.
  • Reward your most loyal customers.
  • Once people have made a commitment, people are much more likely to make another commitment.
  • Every step along the user experience process is an opportunity to provide more value.
Show Notes
  • 04:11 Sean: The hustle never stops. We launched Learn Lettering 2.0 and this time, the launch isn’t done. As of now, I know the results from the first 24 hours. As crazy as the production was this time around, I think I put 80% of my effort into the marketing. Obviously, I can lean pretty heavily on the fact that I developed the concept of this originally. It was a reproduction, although I did add 50% more content and more business stuff.
  • 06:36 I showed up every day and wrote 30 blog posts in a row with an average of 1,500 words each—that’s 45,000 words! That was just ramping up to the launch. In addition to that, it was at least 1,000 words per lesson, so we’re talking over 100,000 words written for Learn Lettering. It was intense and I totally had my back against the wall.
  • 07:16 We had to launch this because there was no other choice (Related: e188 Why I Work Hard). It was financially coming down to the wire to pay our substantial payroll—we have seven employees now. The goal is to get seanwes to the point where residual income covers payroll. I think we’ll probably hit that in 2016, if not sooner. It remains to be seen how Learn Lettering will do.

The Free Starter Class

  • 09:24 I decided to give away the starter class. This was a marketing tactic, because I want to create a story. What helped me out in the first launch was not that I launched the lettering course—of course people were interested in lettering—but that more people were interested in a hand lettering artist making six figures in three days.
  • 09:47 That’s why I did a big launch case study (Related: e60 How Learn Lettering Made $80,000 in 24 Hours With the First $10k in 30 Minutes). I break down all the details—emails, open rates, click rates, revenue, where the revenue came from, etc. That is what went really big—the story about the launch. I’m trying to create a story to build buzz, just like I did when I said I would pay anyone $5 who didn’t find the Lambo Goal video inspiring (Related: e134 Paying My Haters).
  • 10:25 Ben: Giving something that you previously charged $99 for, people are going to see that say, “He did what?”
  • 10:40 Sean: I still don’t know the results of this. So far, it’s not what I want but it’s also really good compared to the last launch. I have high aspirations. It’s not yet what I want, but while we’re recording this, we haven’t even concluded the first 48 hour period of the launch.
  • 11:22 I expect it’ll be better at the end of the promotional period, the last chance to get the introductory rate and the $99 value Sketchnote workshop bonus. I’m teaching this Sketchnote workshop at Circles Conference this year and you can go there in person to take the workshop, but I’ll be teaching that workshop and what I learn there and turning into a course for the people who bought the Learn Lettering Master Class in the first 48 hours.
  • 11:58 With this course, I’m teaching how to make a living as a hand lettering artist and I go into each of the Trifecta—client work, products, and teaching (Related: e80 Making A Living With The Trifecta Part 1 of 3: Client Work, Part 2 of 3: Products, & Part 3 of 3: Teaching). In the 15th module of the Master Class, I go into how to make money teaching hand lettering.
  • 12:23 Ben: You’re sitting here teaching us how to teach. You would think that’s creating more competition for you.

Inside the Course: Workshops

  • 12:33 Sean: One of the things I talk about in there is workshops and how you should be doing workshops before you do courses, because workshops give you personal attention with people. You can find out what they’re struggling with. We talk about how to hack this online by sending a welcome email and asking people what they’re struggling with there and that works, but why not get with the actual people to get the feedback?
  • 13:03 Ben: Do you recommend doing in-person workshops, or are digital workshops ok as well?
  • 13:10 Sean: You can do digital and eventually you should, but I think you should star locally.

Don’t devalue your workshops by discounting—charge full price or make them free.

  • 13:20 Then do more workshops, make case studies, take photos, get testimonials from people, and tell them to tell their friends. You’re doing it free now and in the future you’ll be doing it for $97 a head.
  • 13:34 Ben: The wheels are turning about how I can do this with In the Boat With Ben, which is a totally different industry from lettering.
  • 13:43 Sean: Upfront you say, “I’m doing this special event. It’s going to be $97, but I’m really excited to share it. I’m going to give you this one for free.” Not $15 off, or discounting! Don’t devalue your workshops. You’re doing it for free because you want to give a bunch of value. You believe that audience is full of the type of people who will tell a friend when they receive some value. That’s the whole point—it’s a $97 class and I want you to value it at that. Full price or free.
  • 14:12 You do a workshop and they’re going to be all excited because they just got all that value for free and they’re going to tell people about it. Do another one and charge for it, write up a case study, get testimonials, and put it up online. Eventually, you’ll have this body of work—these case studies of workshops—that other people will see in different cities who will fly you out! Keep doing these workshops, expand, and eventually, digitize that. Say, “I’ve been teaching workshops for the past year, here are the results from that.”

Marketing Learn Lettering 2.0

  • 15:23 Back on the launch: I expect that once the 48 hour push is done, where I’m giving away the Sketchnote module, the results will be another 40% of sales. However, the introductory rate lasts until August 10th, 2015, because I want to give people time. What I’m doing differently this time is giving away the Starter Class for free. On Wistia, you get 200 gigabytes of bandwidth. Last night I looked at mine and it’s bad news.
  • 16:23 We upgraded the server to like three times as much ram and then I wanted to double that. It’s expensive to run the server for however long at that rate, but I knew that we could make a sale and cover that cost. I don’t want any down time for anyone. I’m using terabytes of bandwidth and we’re paying something like $0.30 a gigabyte—you can do the math—and we’re giving the Starter Class away for free!
  • 17:20 The results from the initial launch, which you’ll hear in a couple of weeks, aren’t bad at all. They’re not what I want, but I also recognize that people can get the first 14 lessons for free. Why would you not do that? If you want the whole thing, you might as well go through the free stuff first and then buy. There’s a pool of people who have gone through the free stuff or are going through the free stuff who are seriously considering buying and I need to push those people over the edge. For some reason they’re hesitating and it’s my job to convince them.
  • 18:02 That was the wild card here, I didn’t know what to expect because I’d never given away so much for free—literally $99 worth of content for free. This is the story part. I’m creating a story. I should be selling this for $99, and I’ve decided to give it away and that’s what’s caused it to explode! Everything I teach, I did it this time with this launch.
  • 18:50 Even if it meant working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8 weeks. What kills me is that people are just now hearing about this course and they follow me. I did 30 days of blog posts—unique value around what I want people to be interested in—in a row! People don’t notice announcements, they notice consistency, and even then, they still don’t. You just have to be more consistent. I posted on Instagram and other places to propel this story.

The key to good marketing is being totally honest.

  • 20:04 In this story I’m crafting, I say that I don’t know if this is the worst idea I’ve had or the best idea. I legitimately don’t know. I’m paying thousands of dollars for video hosting for the stuff I’m giving away for free that I should be charging $99 for! I believe in the idea enough to try this. My goal is to get people to spread the word. Why not have a friend go through it with you? It’s free!
  • 20:47 I got 300 comments on Instagram of people tagging other people. The word is spreading. If you want to learn lettering, sure, you can buy a $19 course on or a $29 course from someone else, or you can take my valued-at-$99 free course. This isn’t a made up value—I sold hundreds of these last year. It’s a crazy idea but it’s working. Learn Lettering is the place to go if you want to learn hand learn lettering. It’s better than everything else out there and simultaneously, it’s the most expensive. It’s the least expensive thing and it’s the most expensive thing, and no matter how you slice it, it’s the most valuable.
  • 21:45 My goal is to get as many people to experience this sample material here. People are writing in and telling me they’re blown away by the production quality. People who took the 1.0 class are saying they want to go through everything again because it’s so much better. We now have a video guy, a multi-camera production, and people are telling me my confidence is better this time.
  • 22:47 It’s a lot of practice. People want the short cut and the secrets: “How do I make awesome videos like you? How do I do a daily vlog? How do I better my delivery?” You do hundreds of podcast episodes and write thousands of words a day—a million words a year. You do a daily vlog and you do hundreds of them—that’s how you get better.
  • 23:09 Ben: You go back, you read, you listen, and you get critical feedback from other people.
  • 23:21 Sean: That’s a good point, otherwise you cement bad habits. I also gave the original Master Class people the 2.0 version for free. The original Master Class at it’s highest price was $299 and I never discounted it since it came out. I constantly see people in the business, marketing, product, or course world discounting. I bought a course in the three figure range and it was a great course, I got a lot out of it, and I’ve recommended it to people, but I noticed it for free the other day on a deal site. I call the discount bin the middle finger bin.
  • 24:45 They launch, they enjoy the results, and then it goes away! Why does it go away? Because you had no marketing plan. You get into Scarcity Mindset, you want some revenue, and you discount it. You throw it into a bundle with other people—“$997 worth of value for $39!” No, it’s not. You just devalued everything in that bundle, including your own product! Your product is no longer worth what you claimed it was, it’s worth what you priced it at.
  • 25:24 Ben: It’s almost like you’re stealing money from the people you sold it at the original price to.
  • 25:32 I sold the original 1.0 Master Class for $299 and I gave them the $699 version with 50% more content for free. It’s reproduced so it’s even better, and they get 50% more for free—I just gave them $400. I have the people in the Community a free month if they wanted to stay when we relaunched it—that’s over $10,000 worth of value for free. I believe in rewarding loyalty. I don’t believe in giving a middle finger to the people who bought from you the earliest. That’s punishing them when you discount your products.

You should be rewarding your most loyal customers.

  • 26:18 I always reward my early customers. The people who buy first get the best deal and the most value. It’s never going to be cheaper. I never brought down the price of 1.0 and sales did decline. It happens. You have to inject interest and value into it to keep it alive. I never succumbed to the temptation that is discounting for short-term revenue, because I’m all about the long-game. It’s not about the success of this course, it’s about the success of this business, the meaning of this brand, and the perception people have of seanwes in the long-term.
  • 27:32 Ben Flack asks, “On the discount bin topic, I’m curious about the people who bought the $99 course for Learn Lettering 1.0. I have a feeling you did something for them but I’m interested in hearing about it.” I rewarded the Master Class people because they’re the most loyal customers.
  • 27:48 Because I repositioned the course, the 1.0 to 2.0 path isn’t very clear. The original Intermediate Class was a few modules and the new one is basically what the old Master Class was. Some people got the Intermediate class for $79 but the new Intermediate Class is eight to 10 modules, which is like the old Master Class, which was $299 before.
  • 28:13 I basically gave them their entire purchase, even the people who got it at a lower rate, credit for the highest price I ever sold any of the courses for applied to the new version. In addition to that, everything they already had access to got updated to the 2.0 content for free. They got their money back applied toward upgrading, and even if they didn’t want to, they got the new content for free, which is similar to what the Intermediate Class was prior.

Getting People to Share

  • 29:21 Sean: I was expected redacted sales for the Master and Intermediate Classes. I’m saying “redacted” because you won’t get to hear the real numbers until a future episode. In the whole launch period of two weeks, I expected 2,000 people to get the Starter Class. Over 2,000 people got the Starter Class in the first 12 hours. We’re at 2,776 now 27 hours into the launch.
  • 32:06 Even if they have a $0 purchase for the free Starter Class, they get a confirmation page that says, “Thank you for your order,” but I realized that’s an opportunity.

Every step along the user experience process is an opportunity to provide more value.

  • 32:24 What is someone feeling right now? What are they doing? Where can we enact the Rule of Reciprocity? Have we just given, now what can we ask? If we haven’t given, what can we give? If someone signs up for your email list, they immediately get a page and what does that page say? I say, “Check your email and confirm your subscription.” They confirm and get a confirmation page. Here is where most people have, “Thanks! You’re subscribed!” but you’re missing out on an opportunity. I use that opportunity to provide more value.
  • 33:17 On this page, I say, “You may be interested in these things,” and put links to more value. Keep people engaged. In the case of the Starter Class, I just gave them $99 for free, and that confirmation page is an opportunity. I previously I had a confirmation page that said, “I’m going to send you an email with your order receipt. To get started, click here.”
  • 33:46 I replaced that with, “I’m going to send you an email with your order receipt and instructions on how to get access to your videos. I’m so excited to share this awesome value with you! I know you’re going to get a ton out of it. I can’t wait for you to go through the lessons. In the meantime, why not share the excitement?” It’s getting them excited! They see someone tweet about Learn Lettering, but they don’t have $447 to invest but they’ll get the Starter Class.
  • 34:42 They’re feeling hyped right now, so I’ve got a quote on this confirmation page that says, “I just signed up for the Learn Lettering class by @seanwes. So excited!” and a link to Then below that, I have a green call-to-action button that says, “Click to tweet.” As soon as I saved this, within seconds there was a tweet. You can search Learn Lettering and look at my mentions. Every few minutes people were tweeting this. It’s going to slow down after the launch some, but every few seconds or minutes someone is getting this.
  • 38:18 Before we launched this, I think the average was 100 signups on the email list, but since I’ve been doing these daily blog posts for 30 days and since we announced Learn Lettering 2.0, there have been hundreds of signups a day. That’s when someone goes to the landing page and thinks, “This sounds interesting enough for me to give up my email address.” Now, you can’t sign up for the email list, because now it’s a giving page. It’s not an asking page anymore—I’m giving the Starter Class. The way you sign up is by “purchasing” it.
  • 39:06 Originally I was wondering if there was an easy way someone could just put in their email, click a button, and an account is auto generated to create a password for them, but then I realized I don’t want to make it easy. Here’s why: I want this to feel premium. You’re getting access to $99 worth of stuff when you sign up so it should feel premium.
  • 39:34 Secondly, I’m spending thousands of dollars in video hosting bills to give this away to people, so it’s ok if there’s a little bit of a hurdle and they have to click more than once to get access. I also want to condition people to go through my checkout process. Think about it: thousands of people have gone through my checkout process and created an account now.
  • 40:04 Ben: You’ve already removed the hurdle for them to make the next step. They don’t have to do anymore work. There’s probably just an ‘upgrade’ button. They go through this checkout process, so it’s already something they’ve commited to doing.

Once people have made a commitment, they are much more likely to make another commitment.

  • 40:58 Sean: We’re intrinsically motivated to see out our commitments. Even if we don’t always follow through with stuff, we desire to be people who follow through with what we say we’re going to do. If you have a micro-commitment to something, you’re much more likely to continue that and see it through. That’s why there’s popup modals that say, “Download this,” and then it asks for an email. There are studies that show that does really well because it’s less of a hurdle to click a button, but once they have that micro-yes, then 50% of them will follow through.