I was forced to launch this blog on July 6, 2014…
Okay, maybe “forced” is the wrong word….
But I definitely never wanted to start this blog
In Summer 2014 I enrolled in a crazy program called Orbital Boot Camp, which was a 12 week program to help you launch your side-project to the public.
One of the program requirements was that I start a blog & honestly share my journey of entrepreneurship.
So that’s how this blog started…
Someone made me do it lol
In 2014, I wrote 15 blog posts…
In 2015, I wrote 18 more…
By my 33rd blog post, a lot had happened in my entrepreneurship journey…
I had turned my side-project into a company.
I had raised $300,000 from investors
I had graduated from 500 Startups’ prestigious accelerator.
As a non-technical entrepreneur, I had built my startup’s app without writing a single line of code….
And then I received an invitation to give a TEDx talk to share my story
Here’s the talk I gave on the TEDxDetroit stage…
“How to Build an App Without Code”
After I gave this talk, my email inbox went crazy!
So many non-technical entrepreneurs were emailing me asking for help launching THEIR app ideas (without writing any code)
I directed these folks to my blog where I was documenting my entire process & story…
…but people wanted MORE.
So I decided to turn my blog into a course, called Apps Without Code Bootcamp.
And the results were crazy!!
Here are all the numbers from my August 2016 Course Launch
Total Launch Revenue: $68,406
- Revenue from Bootcamp: $59,961
- Revenue from Mini-Bootcamp: $8,445
Total Bootcamp Students: 56
Average Revenue per Enrolled Student: $1,222
Size of my email list pre launch: 1,061
Size of my email list post launch: 2,351
Average Revenue per subscriber on my email list: $29
Cost of sales: $5,522
- Licensed Course material: $2,633
- Affiliate Share: $2,889
Cost of Marketing: $4,745
- Social Media Takeovers: $3,300
- Instagram Ads: $1,080
- Facebook Ads: $365
Total Profit: $58,137
% Profit Margin: 85.4%
I’d love to walk you through how I got these results, so I’m sharing all the details in this blog post.
There’s a TON to cover… and I’m not holding anything back, so I broke it up into 3 sections:
- Part 1: The Launch- Everything I did to turn my blog into a product
- Part 2: Software I used along the way– How I used software to do this as a non-technical entrepreneur
- Part 3: Things that Made a Difference & All the Epic Fails– All my dirty laundry 🙂
[Part 1: The Launch]
So the first thing you should understand is that this launch was A LOT OF WORK!
It took 30 days to promote the course.
This was me by the end of the 30 days…
In order to promote the Bootcamp, I did a bunch of “content events”.
What the heck is a “content event”, you ask?
Lol if you’ve never heard of a “content event” before, don’t worry…
I had no idea what it was a few months ago either 🙂
A content event is a limited time event where you teach people something (usually for free). And then you tell them how they can learn more at the end.
Content events can be Webinars…
Or 5-day challenges…
Anything like that…
Content events were the KEY to promoting this Bootcamp.
Seriously. They drove almost ALL the sales.
Content events work because they add some urgency and excitement to your product launch. If your cart is always open, there’s nothing special about it. But if you teach people something through a content event and then give them 4 days to buy after the event, then you’re strategically using your content event to create excitement and urgency.
Don’t underestimate THE POWER OF A CONTENT EVENT…
To promote the Bootcamp, I actually did 6 Content events over 6 weeks!
Here’s what I did…
All of these activities fall into the Jeff Walker “Launch” framework. This was actually super helpful in planning the launch.
This “Launch” book is actually one of the 3 critical books in my Non-Technical Entrepreneurs Toolkit….
Go download that!!
In the book Jeff Walks through the 4 phases of launching any online product:
- Pre-Pre Launch- This is when you agitate the market and get people interested
- Pre-Launch- This is when you teach people something through videos, blog posts, social media, etc. For me, I decided to do a 5-Day Challenge to teach people how to build their own Tinder App.
- Launch- This is when your cart is open to the public
- Downsell/ Post Launch- This is where you give people an opportunity to buy a mini version of what you were selling before (at a more affordable price). This is where I offered my Mini-Bootcamp 🙂
You can actually see pretty clearly how I used this formula for my own launch…
The Funnel 🙌
Here’s how this all went down:
Week 1 — Webinar #1
Promotion for the Bootcamp all started with a Webinar ….on “How to Build Apps Without Code.”
1,118 people signed up for the webinar
Yup, I said it…
1,118 people signed up!
Which is crazy because at the time, I only had 1,061 people on my email list!
So HOW did I get so much interest in the webinar?
Well, I ran an unconventional type of social media advertisement & I did something that very few people do…
- I DIDN’T run a Facebook ad
- I DIDN’T run a Twitter ad
- I DIDN’T do any of that stuff..
Instead, I did a “social media takeover” which is an innovative type of social media advertisement.
A “social media takeover” is when you post on SOMEONE ELSE’S social media account for a full day to teach their audience something.
So for one full day, I took over the @blavitylife Instagram channel.
My strategy was to leverage THEIR audience of 82k followers to promote MY brand & webinar
So that’s how I got over 1000 signups to my webinar…
On the night of the webinar, 348 people showed up live!
During the webinar I offered a 10% discount on my Bootcamp. The offer was available for 4 days.
I made $20,543 in revenue from the webinar.
Week 2 — The Giveaway
In week #2, I announced a giveaway.
The idea was simple: sign up for the giveaway and be entered to win a 3-month subscription to my favorite tools for building apps without code— Bubble, Zapier, and Strikingly.
The giveaway was free to enter…
PLUS I gave people extra entries for referring friends and watching short videos that taught you something about building apps without code…
Here’s an example of one of the videos: “[The Idea Formula] How I used Zapier to Test My App Idea”
In the end, 168 people signed up for the giveaway….
Which WAS NOT impressive given that most of these people were ALREADY on my list.
The giveaway was kind of a flop!
I told you I was sharing failures too 🙂
Week 3 — 5-Day Challenge
But I redeemed myself on Week 3 lol!
In week 3, I announced a 5-Day Challenge, where I taught people to build their own Tinder app in 5 days (without code).
Apparently, 5-Day Challenges are the newest craze in online marketing, so I was excited to try this
A Challenge is where you teach people something for 3-7 days. Each day there is a clear activity for the participant to do!
So here’s the structure I used for my challenge:
Day 1: Setting up the database
Day 2: Designing the login page
Day 3: Design the Dashboard page (with swipe feature)
Day 4: Logic/ Workflow so all the Buttons work
Day 5: Messaging feature & finishing up
Here’s a sneak peak of the Challenge content…
Usually Challenges are free.
But I decided to break the rules and charge $10 for my challenge.
HOWEVER….everyone who completed the challenge, got their $10 back!
To promote the challenge, I did a second social media takeover on the @blackgirlnerds Twitter account.
228 people signed up (and paid $10) for the Challenge.
I gave all those people 7 days to enroll in the Bootcamp with a 10% discount.
I made $19,238 in revenue from the Challenge.
Week 4 — Webinar #2 + Bonus #1
In week #4, the cart opened!
This week, the Bootcamp went on sale for EVERYONE… (not just people who signed up for the Challenge or attended Webinar #1)
By this time, I had made $40,000 so far…
I was starting to see the POWER OF CONTENT EVENTS…
So I added another webinar!….
Yup, I said it!
Another freakin’ webinar
This time I switched up the topic a little and talked about how to validate your app idea BEFORE you start building it.
At the end of the webinar I announced a bonus for anyone who signed up for the Bootcamp in the next 24 hours: A free App Design Masterclass… just for folks on the webinar.
Two people signed up immediately, bringing in $3,935 in revenue.
Week 5 — Live Q&A call + Bonus #2
Whew… by Week #5 I’d already made close to $45K
I was pretty pumped!!
But then things started getting quiet.
As it turns out The MIDDLE of launch week is the hardest part!
At this point, everyone is sitting on their butt, thinking “eh, I’ll decide on the last day”
So to get people off their butt, I introduced a second bonus (a free 3-month subscription to Bubble, which is the tool I use to build apps without code).
To announce the bonus, I did a Live Q&A session.
32 people showed up
The final few days of the launch produced another $13,275.
Most of those sales were made DURING the Q&A call… which was yet again, another reminder not to underestimate the POWER OF CONTENT EVENTS… particularly Live Q&As!
By the time I closed the cart….
34 people had enrolled in Bootcamp and I’d done $59,961 in revenue.
Week 6 — Downsell Offer + Q&A
But I still wasn’t done!!!
Four days after the cart closed, we announced a downsell: a “Mini Bootcamp”
The Mini Bootcamp was basically just one of the full Bootcamp modules
It was perfect for people who wanted to validate their idea before jumping in headfirst.
Based on the success of my first Live Q&A, I decided to do another one.
Together, the Downsell and Second Q&A resulted in 23 more signups, for an additional $8,445 in sales.
So here’s another recap of how all the “content events” went down…
And the work paid off!
- People who attended Webinar #1 were 2x as likely to enroll in Bootcamp
- People who entered the Giveaway were 2x as likely to enroll in Bootcamp
- People who did the Challenge were 6x as likely to enroll in Bootcamp
- People who attended Webinar #2 (open cart webinar) were 10x as likely to enroll in Bootcamp
- People who attended a Live Q&A session were 13x as likely to enroll in Bootcamp
- And 58% of sales happened before the actual ‘launch”
[Part 2: Software I used along the way]
I relied on a TON of software and tools to manage the launch.
24 tools to be exact!
Honestly, some of these tools were a total waste of time. Others were useful..
Here’s a high-level list of all 24 tools…
- Gleam.io ($39/mo)
- WebinarJam ($397/year)
- Leadpages ($25/mo)
- ClickFunnels ($97/mo)
- Intercom ($53/mo for Intercom Engage)
- Asana (Free! – Premium plans start at $8.33 per member/mo)
- Zapier (Free! – Premium plans start at $20/mo)
- Bubble ($19/mo)
- Calendly (Free!)
- Google Docs (Free!)
- Canva (Free! – $12.95 per user/mo for Canva for Work)
- iMovie (Free!)
- Twitter (Free!)
- Periscope (Free!)
- Edgar ($49/mo)
- Socedo ($300/mo)
- GrowthPup ($50/mo)
- Facebook Groups (Free!)
- Instagram (Free!)
- SumoMe (Free! – Premium plans start at $29/mo)
- TryCelery (2% transaction fee + Stripe fee)
- Stripe (2.9% fee + $0.30 per card charge)
- PayPal (Free to send money, 2.9% fee + $0.30 per transaction to receive money as a merchant)
- Twenty20 ($89/mo)
One of the software tools above was particularly special!
Tool #5- Intercom 🙌
Intercom was super important for this launch because we sent a LOT of emails.
During the launch, I sent 40 emails
Yup. I said it…
40 emails in 30 days!
At first I thought this was WAY too many emails.
In fact, I thought my marketing manager’s head was going to explode just thinking about it.
But I learned a TON from this blog post by Bryan Harris.
One of the things Bryan taught me was how to segment my list by engagement:
- Highly engaged people
- Not highly engaged
Pretty simple, right?
Highly engaged people are essentially folks who have expressed interest by participating in some content events.
So although I sent 40 emails, not EVERYONE received all the emails
I communicated 1-3 times per day with highly engaged users during the launch.
And I stopped stressing about email frequency…
The decision paid off.
I got LOTS of feedback from my highly engaged audience telling me how much I was helping them with my emails!
Sending the RIGHT emails to the RIGHT people makes a difference…
We made a GIANT Google Doc and wrote all these emails in advance
I mean giant. Like 60 pages giant.
This thing was PACKED with all the copy, subject lines, images, and audience segments we used in our 40+ launch emails.
And can I just take a timeout??
HUMBLE BRAG ALERT: We actually finished all these before the launch started
It was a LOT of work. But it made managing the launch a TON easier!
In fact this was so helpful I’m going to ask you for a simple pledge…
Repeat after me:
I, ____________, do solemnly swear I will write all my launch emails in advance.
Now cut yourself a piece of cake.
Writing all our launch emails in advance meant we could schedule everything in Intercom ahead of time and have more time to breathe during the launch.
During the launch, we closely monitored our email open & click rates.
Two super important findings here:
- Open rates did decline toward the end of the launch, but we still averaged 32% on emails sent to our entire list
Here’s a chart of all our open rates over time during the launch.
- Unsubscribe rates remained low (1% avg. on emails sent to the entire list) — we didn’t see the kind of backlash against 40+ emails we thought might happen
[Part 3: Epic Fails & Things That Made A Difference]
Let’s start with the fails first…
My team & I worked really hard on this launch.
We literally did 4 live events, 5 pre-recorded videos, 2 bonuses, a giveaway, and more.
One of the nice parts about having such a robust launch was that EVERYTHING wasn’t in jeopardy if ONE part of the launch flopped…
And trust me… some parts of the launch were epic fails.
- Fails: The Giveaway
Lol this was a flop! We didn’t set it up to make any sales, which was kind of dumb on our part. All the other content events allowed people to enroll in the Bootcamp somehow, through the content event, but this one didn’t give people ANY opportunity to pre-enroll. Total missed opportunity.
- Fails: Phone calls
I jumped on the phone with a lot of folks at the beginning of the launch. 40% of the folks I talked with ended up buying the Bootcamp.
Now you might say… a 40% conversion rate!?! That’s AWESOME!! You’re calling that a FAIL?!
40% IS pretty awesome. But here’s the thing: phone calls are also a HUGE time suck.
If we were going to really kill it, we had to automate the process.
- Fails: Social media takeovers
These were tricky… During the launch, I added over 1000 people to my email list! Which is great. HALF of these leads came from Social Media takeovers.
Again, you might say, DAMN! Not bad!
But at the end of the day, only 1.8% of those leads enrolled in my Bootcamp (compared to the 2.5% conversion rate from the rest of my list)
I didn’t lose money from the takeovers, but other strategies were MUCH more effective!
Things that Made a Difference
- Hiring a Launch Coach
To help us plan this all, I hired a launch coach, named Danielle Leslie. If you’re launching an online course & you need a concrete strategy, you should call her!
20% of our sales came from affiliates. These folks promoted our content events and the Bootcamp to their email lists and on social media in exchange for a cut of sales.
Marketing through affiliates was a super easy way to expand our reach— basically for free.
(We just made a little less on each sale)
We made it super easy for affiliates to send emails to their list—
We loaded a bunch of sample copy in a Google doc and shared it with the group. All they had to do was copy, paste and send.
- Content events
If you only take ONE lesson away from all this, let it be this:
CONTENT EVENTS ARE MAGICAL
95% of sales came from content events!
Content events were a super effective way for us to qualify our leads and generate a TON of excitement for the Bootcamp.
The Challenge and the Q&As were far and away the most effective
- Phone calls
I know I know… phone calls were on the fails list too.
But this one was bittersweet, because I just can’t stop thinking about that 40% conversion rate!
If anyone has any ideas on how to scale phone calls PLEASE let me know 🙂
- Building a Custom Course Platform
You might be wondering how I DELIVERED the actual course lessons AFTER people signed up…
When most people create an online class they use…
- or Udemy.com
I didn’t use any of these. Instead, I built my own custom course platform (without writing any code)…
Check it out..
- One click upsells
This was another secret weapon of the launch…
So let me tell you about it…
I made an EXTRA $6,120 by using the “one click upsell” strategy.
If you sell anything online, you gotta try this!
A “one click upsell” is when your customer buys something from you AND THEN you offer them one more (related) thing before they go. The customer doesnt have to re-enter their card information to get the upsell though! They just have to click the button & it’s instantly added to their order.
Here’s an example of an upsell we set up:
And here’s where we got fancy…
Each upsell had two parts.
Part 1 was to offer something cool
Part 2 was to offer a payment plan of that same cool thing!
We used a super amazing software program called ClickFunnels to do this.
Bringing it home
So here’s a final thought…
The $70,000 I made in this launch didn’t just magically happen
(even though those content events were pretty damn magic)
But it DID happen thanks to some CRAZY hacks, tricks and insider know-how. Being an Entrepreneur is all about trying new things & seeing what sticks.
When was the last time you took a risk & ran a crazy experiment for your business idea?
Hi there- My name is Tara Reed & I’m the founder of Kollecto. I'm a non-technical founder building software without writing any code.I’m also a first-time entrepreneur who swore I'd never become an entrepreneur…Oh well, sh*t happens! :) Follow my journey as I build a cool art startup...