This case study includes a 2018-approved, 80/20-style info product launch checklist that doesn’t suck. Click here to skip to that. However, I highly encourage you to reads the lessons learned from my first product launch, as they’re valuable to ANY blogger launching products! – Pete
That was how I felt before the launch of the first-ever Do You Even Blog 30-day challenge.
It was supposed to be easy.
- Brainstorm 3-4 areas I could challenge bloggers with
- Write sales funnel, collect cash
- Organize group and technical set-ups
- Implement, push challengers, give long-lasting value.
- Get testimonials for next iteration.
5 simple steps, right? Textbook product launch.
Well…here’s how it actually went down:
- Brainstorm? Check..
- Sales? Check. Made $1,600 from a 380 person email list.
- Organize challengers? Check.
- Implement? Chec…..well things are getting a bit crazy and stressful and….wait what’s happening with people…OMG how am I going to make this work crap crap.
- Explosions. The Terminator rises from the ashes joined by the shark from Jaws and a deadly Ecoli virus.
The rest of this post will help you create and launch an info product for your blog.
- Section 1 – I’ll share the valuable lessons learned from my first launch. I’ll also show the testimonials. The good and bad.
- Section 2 – We’ll walk through my launch formula,
Which will be the stupidest, simplest, most contrarian “Product Launch Formula™” you’ve ever read.
Here is the launch by the numbers:
- Email list at time of launch: 421
- Total sales: 19
- Gross revenues: $1,550
- Net Revenues: $1,144
- % Challengers who 100% completed: 0%
- % Challengers who learned something: 100%
Let’s get to it.
Section 1 – Lessons learned from my first product launch.
1 – People need to know what they’re signing up for.
On one hand, an aura of mystery is fantastic for sales.
People are naturally curious, and desire to find out “what things are about.” This includes products we buy every day. So, I included almost no details in my copy.
Enter Mistake #1.
The challenge was promoted as something to get bloggers out of their comfort zones (which it did by the way), and would challenge them to take uncomfortable steps to “grow their blog.”
But what does that even mean? Seriously.
The challengers signing up had no clue what it actually meant, but they wanted to find out. While this probably landed one or two additional sales I might not have gotten otherwise, it led to a huge problem.
Expectations varied wildly.
You do not want that from a product. You want people to know exactly what they’re buying into, so you can then deliver it to them.
“Dude you are SUPER passionate! It comes out in your videos, your posts, and your podcasts. Signing up for the challenge was less about buying a “product” and more about buying into your brand. Think about it this…
You had how many people sign up to a challenge that promised to be super challenging and fun but with no concrete details. Thats legit creating money from thin air…”
I guess it was such a broad idea of 30-day challenge and I created my own idea of what it was about.” – Testimonial
Anything else leads to confusion, difficulty, and even disappointment.
2 – Depending on your “niche-ness,” build products for a specific segment of your audience.
Errrrrr mistake #2.
You, my tribe, are bloggers.
A few of you make over $500k a year. I’ve spoken with 200-300 of you that make no extra money from your blog. That’s a huge range.
Furthermore, the 19 people engaged in this product came from…
- The personal finance niche.
- The travel niche.
- The lifestyle niche.
- The gardening niche.
- The corporate work niche.
- The parenting niche.
While I’m thrilled to touch different bloggers in different areas, this also led to a major problem: All these customers had different needs.
By not segmenting, I developed an itinerary that provided 50% value to 19 people, rather than 110% value to 5 people.
Re-read that again.
Not all bloggers are created equal, and that’s ok. Not all bloggers are where I’m at in the journey. Or where you’re at.
Make sure your products are providing the right resources for the right people at the right time.
- The right resources.
- The right people.
- The right time.
3 – People need structure in their learning process.
Check out this feedback:
“The timeline/syllabus was a little frustrating at times. I didn’t know what assignments were going to be given when and when they were due. I know it’s not school…but…it is a challenge which means deadlines to hold you accountable. Maybe publishing that at the start would help.”
If we’re honest, I did have a structured layout for delivering content in a specific timeframe. There were 2 problems though…
- I didn’t publish the structure/timeframe to the challengers.
- When people didn’t stick to the timeframe (for reasons above and below), all my “plans” were promptly thrown out the window.
About 7 days in, it was clear that my “plan” was not working, and any remaining structure wasn’t going to work.
In addition, the content jumped around a bit. It wasn’t progressional.
“The challenge seemed to dance from one thing to the next and lacked a clearly defined path of learning. I know you didnt want it to be a “course” you wanted it to be a challenge. I think the activities danced between the two.”
Online learning needs to have a structure. A logical flow that leads people from one step to the next.
It’s the best way to learn.
This was a serious flaw in my challenge, and also impacted by…
4 – The timeframe overwhelmed and stressed people
Me included by the way.
I introduced the idea of a “cornerstone” piece of content, which I still stand by 100%, but it was a terrible idea to introduce it in a fast-moving, challenge format.
If nothing else, the product was definitely challenging…but there is a limit to what reasonable adults can accomplish (and learn) in one month.
Combine that with…
- There was no flow.
- The timeframe wasn’t laid out to challengers.
- Challengers didn’t really know what they signed up for.
With all that, it was easy for people to fall behind in weeks 1 and 2, and they never really recovered.
“Because each prompt built on previous layers, it was easy to get behind and feel overwhelmed.”
5 – Getting people engaged is super difficult.
You just can’t make them do anything. That’d be dumb anyways.
“People were allowed to ghost… I think there were a couple people in the group that just weren’t engaged in convo. Partnering us up based upon topics and having a partner in crime may have helped.”
“I also felt like the engagement from the group wasn’t as much as I’d hoped. It ended up just being a few individuals that were active. The point of a group challenge is the group and I would have liked to get more out of that.”
Can we be honest again?
I don’t have a great answer to this problem…outside of fixing the factors that led people to get overwhelmed and drop out.
Also, more people would’ve helped. The more people in the group, the more questions could’ve been answered, the more discussion, and the less impactful “ghosting” would’ve been.
Still, creating a thriving, engaged group of people working towards the same goals is incredibly difficult.
Feedback and testimonials
Why publish these? 3 reasons:
- I like transparency in everything I do. It’s what separates me from other “how to blog” bloggers.
- It’s fun.
- I personally believe it’s good copywriting for my next product, Blogger U, which is a 10x bigger program…and attempts to fix most of the criticisms below.
“You started off bad ass. Honestly I was like SWwwwwweeeet! Then we get to the “main project”. Adam at Minafi spent 6 weeks developing and writing the post. I am not sure he talked about research, etc. However, you tried to shrink that process down to weeks.
“Schedule. Make it easy on you and your participants. Don’t make them guess when the next video is going to drop. Drop the video Sunday at 8pm and then do “office” hours to check in on the progress on Wednesday, etc. “
“Honestly, I don’t know if I feel like I got as much out of the challenge as I’d hoped. I don’t really have a good idea on how to monetize my blog going forward. There was a lot of focus on a cornerstone piece, which is fine, but as bloggers, you write anyways so not sure you needed as much time there. I would have liked to see more on how to sponsor (how to get those sponsors). What kind of things and how to price yourself. More along those lines (especially for a new blogger).”
“I was frustrated that more people didn’t participate in Slack. I know that’s not something you can control, but it was nice to bounce ideas off. When everyone participates it’s a better “we’re in this together” feeling.“
“I really appreciate the work you put into organizing a challenge. However, I had a hard time with the pitching because it just felt like I was asking people for money for nothing. I’m new and have such little traffic that I knew I wasn’t adding much value. I think something more practical like “write a post with a downloadable that adds value and get 10 subs” and maybe spend 2-3 weeks on that so everyone learns a valuable lesson and successfully implements it and gains subs organically. So I think it was pretty discouraging and easy to want to disconnect.”
“You asked for honest so here you go: you gave up about 12 days in. I know you continued to post videos but you came across as disconnected from our personal challenges and successes. I don’t think this was because you didn’t care but because you didn’t know what to do when perhaps we didn’t respond the way you expected (or how you would have).”
“The timing felt compressed, especially with the cornerstone content piece. That in itself could have been its own month from concept to creation, and then launching it. Maybe extend the time for the challenge and have interim deadlines/check ins for each?”
Whew boy. Publishing some of those is hard.
Let’s check-in with some positive stuff.
Was very helpful and much appreciated. I learned more than I could ever imagine from this challenge.
Through this course, I was forced to take the leap from wondering how to get sponsors to having two. Having a place where we could fail together and win together was so helpful growing my blog.
“I really enjoyed meeting other bloggers that weren’t in my niche. It gave me a different perspective on everything and I was able to get a lot of good feedback and suggestions. Not only was the class informative but it was also a great way to build my network.”
Being a long time “blogger” but trying to figure out what else I should do, this course got me focused on some things I wasn’t really thinking about (e.g., Email Subscribers, Types of Content, Marketing). I quickly came to the realization I have been writing and muddling along but never taking the next steps to grow my blog. Now my only problem is I have 100 ideas and take away from the course that I need some time to take action on them.”
“Pete helped me figure out what I really need to be focusing on as a new blogger. He took the time to give individualized feedback and pushed me out of my comfort zone to create cornerstone content, approach sponsors, and market my blog. I would definitely do it again!”
“Pete provides a wide variety of tools and strategies to network within your blogging community and create amazing content. Because of this challenge, I am creating my first sponsored post and officially got paid to be a blogger for the first time. My blog traffic grew consistently all month and my confidence for turning my blog into a legitimate business is at an all time high.
“I know for a fact that this challenge encouraged me to push my boundaries and do things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Not only has my blog grown, but I’ve grown as an individual/blogger.”
As a newer blogger, this course helped me to develop a solid plan for creating useful content for my (hopefully) future readers. I also feel much more confident about pitching sponsors and collaborators.
Section 2 – An 80/20 Info Product Launch Checklist that doesn’t suck.
Tell me if you’ve seen these:
Or better yet, these:
Bloggers do not need a 17-point product launch formula with 31 email sequences to successfully launch a product to their tribe.
Here’s the real “secret” – Launching any product can be as simple as you want it to be.
Stop listening to what gurus tell you (including me and this post). The whole point of owning a business is that YOU get to run it how YOU see fit.
It’s taken me years to realize this:
This is my blog. My business. I get to launch products the way I want. I’ll include negative testimonials on my sales page if I dang-well want to.
So going back…I didn’t WANT
- a crazy launch formula.
- to bug the crap out of my email subscribers.
- to spend 6 hours time planning, automating, and executing a 17 point sales funnel.
Before we get to the info product launch checklist, here’s what the entire launch formula looked like for the 30-day Challenge:
- Teasers (2 email mentions, 2 podcast mentions, a few tweets)
- Carts open, 1 product-only email to segmented group (15 people)
- 1 mention in regular email to entire list
- 1 ”last chance” email with only 13 words to entire list
- 1-on-1 emails [important]
- 2-3 select affiliates
NOTE: Check out how many emails I sent total: Five. Now, check out how many emails contained only content relating to sales: One. That’s my formula. It probably won’t work for you, and that’s a good thing. It worked for me.
The point of the rest of this post is help YOU find out YOUR secret sauce info product launch ?.
1 – Teasers
This I stole from the legendary Jason Zook, and is thus:
Tease your product long before you launch, but give people an opportunity to express an opportunity.
Note the word “long.”
The longer you can start teasing an upcoming release, the more intriguing the product in the eyes of your followers.
One month before launch, I tweeted “If I did a 30-day blogging challenge next month, who’d be interested?” 1-2 people messaged me, and I asked for their emails.
Next, I inserted “teasers” in 2 more emails throughout that month, essentially doing the same thing: dripping out tidbits of information and asking if people were interested. Interested folks came 2 or 3 at a time.
By the time I launched, I had a segmented email list of 15 people. 11 of these 15 people bought in the first 24 hours of the launch.
Here’s how that went…
2 – Emails
Have you ever been annoyed when a blogger you follow launches a product you’re not interested in…and it comes with a barrage of 21 emails over 7-10 days?
Many times, these emails contain no content outside of sales pitches.
Well, good news and bad news:
- Bad news – the law of numbers usually favors this type of “SALES LUANCH FORMULA EMAILS WOOOOO” strategy.
- Good news – If you don’t want to be that salesperson, you don’t have to be.
I sent 2 total sales emails (I.e. emails that ONLY contains sales pitches). The first was only sent to 15 people, and the second was only 13 words (cause I’m weird)
Here’s the 1st sales email I sent to the 15 people that had expressed interested from my teasers:
From there, I included the 30-day challenge pitch in one “regular” email blast to my entire subscriber list.
(Non-email: I also queued up 5-10 tweets and Facebook posts throughout the month, that sent people directly to the sales page. These converted at 0%, likely due to my following still being quite small at this stage, and my most engaging fans already bought on day one.)
Now, this is important…
In Robert Cialdini’s Influence (great but dense book about phycology and sales), he discusses in great length concrete tactics marketers can use to pressure people to hit the buy button.
One of these relates to placing time limits on purchases, creating a sense of urgency (see below for more info) For bloggers, this usually results in 3-4 emails in the last 36 hours of a sale/launch.
It’s annoying, and if people are not absolutely amped to buy your product the weekend it opens, the product might not be good enough. Or your sales copy needs work, or both.
I sent one email to my entire list on the last day of the launch, and I attempted to do it in a clever way that would….
- possibly convert anyone who had forgot to buy
- amuse those not interested in the product (keeping them engaged with my brand even though they have no desire to buy the product)
[Remember: I created a nice little “DYEB-style” info product launch checklist for you! You can grab it here]
3 – 1-on-1 emails [important]
This was my secret sauce: (First, I used ConvertKit to ‘tag’ my followers who were interested, but this strategy can be done with any and all ESPs)
- I “tagged” (made note of) people who were interested in the product (I did this by tagging people that clicked the sales page links in my emails)
- I emailed these folks individually, asking if they had any questions I could answer.
Here’s a rough template:
“Hey John! I know you’ve seen the 30-day challenge I’m running next month, and I just thought I’d ask if you had any questions about it? Pete”
This worked WONDERS, and I will do this strategy for every product I launch in the future. It doesn’t scale, but it does get sales, and also builds a ton of trust with those individuals!
[Pro Tip: Send a personalized 20-30 second video to each person. You can do this for free with a “live event” YouTube hangout (make the video unlisted of course). Or even better, use whatever webcam software you have at the lowest video settings, and just attached the small file size video to the email. Or just be lazy and use CloudApp like me.]
4 – Affiliate marketing for info product launches
You could go off the rails here.
You could choose fancy affiliate software for your courses/ebooks, etc, email 1,000 people and make them affiliates, build 10-page swipe files for them….
…Or you could do what I did. The lazy affiliate launch formula:
- Choose the simplest, easiest, cheapest software you can
- Email 5 friends who have similar audiences (Hey, you are out there building relationships with bloggers right??)
- Onboard those who say yes, and give them their link, along with the dates of the launch.
No swipe files for me. Not for this product at least.
I used Gumroad ($10/mo) for the processing/sales of the product. They have a simple affiliate system.
I sent notes to Michelle, Bobby, Jeff, Silas and Grace, and Sarah, onboarded 3 of them, and sent them their affiliate links. Got 3 sales I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and also a few new fans as a side-effect 🙂
Things I did with my affiliates…that I WOULDN’T recommend:
- I wouldn’t pitch affiliates last minute. You should start collecting affiliate weeks and months in advance.
- I would create a simple swipe file. You should at least have ONE Google Doc or something with tweets, an image or two. It IS helpful.
- I would’ve started on Teachable sooner. Gumroad is awesome, but online learning needs an LMS. Blogger U is now on Teachable.
General strategies, and the info product launch checklist.
While I consider my own strategy to be that of a “lazy blogger,” beginner bloggers would definitely benefit from knowing some general tactics for successful launching an online product.
Below are number of solid tips for launching an info product
1 – Use Cialdini’s phycology tactics for urgency
As mentioned earlier, psychology can be used to persuade buyers to take action. These might include…
- Creating urgency by limiting the supply of products
- Creating urgency by limited the time which the product is sold for (i.e. sales close tonight at midnight!”)
- Social proof (keep reading for this one)
2 – Sound excited about your product.
People don’t buy based on the product, they buy based on you.
If your fans don’t trust you, they’re never going to give you money.
Therefore, YOU have to be 1,000% convinced in your own bone marrow that your product is awesome. Customers need to see that passion in your eyes, hear it in your voice, and see it in your sales copy.
Let your excitement flow out of you. People buy based on you.
3 – Deliver good product
Y’all already know this though right…. Don’t sell crappy products for starters.
If you can create stuff that really helps people, it’ll be a lot easier to sell (from point #2 above).
4 – Use emotion, then logic.
Emotion first, logic second. Here’s why:
People buy based on emotion first. A “UGH I realllllly want this.” type of feeling. We’ve all felt that draw to a product before.
If you can invoke that feeling from a prospect, you only need one more thing: a logical reason they should buy.
- A blogger lands on Blogger U
- “Oh man I saw this last week. I’d really love to try that program. But $399 is a good chunk of change. It’d probably be worth it, but still. That’s an investment.”
- *Pete releases a 30-day money-back guarantee, as well as $57 off coupon code using BLOGBLOGGY at checkout.
- “Ohhhhh ok. I’m in.”
- *blogger purchases
(P.S. That code still works.) Invoke an emotional decision to buy, backed up by logical reasons they should buy now.
5 – DO send sales emails to your email list
Please don’t think because of my “lazy” formula you shouldn’t send sales emails. You should, for two reasons:
- You have to inform people about your product somehow.
- If you’re going to be selling products in the future in your business, your followers need to realize you’re running a business.
If you’re scared of people unsubscribing from your list because you send a sales email, don’t be. They will unsubscribe. That’s a good thing.
They weren’t going to buy from you anyways.
6 – Use social proof. A lot of it.
You can read more about social proof here.
My go-to method for any sales page would be a testimonial.
Testimonials are fantastic for giving that “oh, well this other, 3rd part, objective person really enjoyed this product.” It creates legitimacy.
Ain’t got no testimonials? Use accomplishments.
If you’ve done anything impressive in your career that’s relevant, share it. Example:
- If you’re selling a Facebook Ads course.
- You should include the fact that you’ve spent over $250,000 on Facebook ads in the past 5 years, for over 30 clients.
Social proof creates legitimacy. Use it.
Here’s a simple info product launch checklist.
Are you amped up to go create and launch your own products now?
I hope so. The accompanying PDF is a little checklist for those launching any products in connection with their blog.