December 21st, 2020
Selling knowledge will be the biggest business trend in 2021.

And it won’t be in tech circles.

It will explode in mainstream professions like mental health, fitness, law, etc. 

In 2021, “regular” people will finally realize they have a massive opportunity to sell their specialized knowledge, and make legitimate money doing so.

Here’s why I know:

My mom is a therapist. She is 61. Her therapy practice is overloaded since COVID. 

She does 8-10 sessions per day, and now has a months-long waitlist to see her.

She is working to the bone, squeezing out every last drop of her own time and energy. 

She has no more time to give. She has raised prices, but the leads keep calling every day and the waitlist continues to grow longer.

If she could, she’d make copies of herself. If she could do that, she could help thousands of people per month, instead of hundreds.

So how can she help thousands?

That’s where info products, blog posts, courses, etc come in. It’s the only answer to helping more people.

She can create blog posts, Instagram posts, YouTube videos, podcasts, sell e-books, courses, etc around the topic of mental health.

Maybe that sounds scummy to sell this kind of thing? I used to think this in 2018, but now I don’t.

She charges $150 for an hour of her time. Why can’t she charge a similar amount for hundreds of hours of her time, in the form of written/video content?

In 2021, a lot of people like my mom will have this revelation: That helping others through content, videos, etc is far more scalable than doing it 1 on 1.

Consultants, personal trainers, therapists, doctors, lawyers, artists, photographers, interior designers, life coaches, massage therapists, motivational speakers, etc…

They will all realize they can supplement their incomes by selling their knowledge online, and they don’t need a big audience to do it.

My mom doesn’t have an audience, but she does have people banging on her door for her services. That's more than enough to make some money today.

This is the opportunity that comes with (1) being an expert at what she does and (2) her profession being thrust into the online world with COVID.

It's no longer a cool idea, but an essential step in growing her business.

So, typically, online content (like e-books) are created as a lead magnet to sell more products, sell consulting, etc.

But for my mom, it's actually the opposite! She's got so many hot leads she can't do anything with. Selling her knowledge is a real solution to her problems.

And that’s what I learned with the Lean SEO course. I wasn’t an SEO influencer. I just had a few people who knew I was doing cool things in SEO. I made a good chunk of change by sharing that knowledge in a scalable way.
December 20th, 2020
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” - Helen Keller

This is my argument for anyone in a job they don't like.

If you're staying in that job for "safety", take a step back and think about the long run. Will this job/career/industry always be "safe"?

You might be actually worse off by staying in that job, even though staying feels "safe" right now.
December 18th, 2020
In business, planning doesn’t really work.

Planning is like New Year’s resolutions. 

We set New Year’s resolutions because we want to change something.

But we don’t want to change now. We want to change later.

This is procrastination.

We like the idea of “the new us”, but we don’t like it enough to actually do the work involved and build the necessary habits. That’s why we usually fall back to our old selves on January 8.

If we really wanted these changes, we would have started yesterday.

It’s the same in business. Planning is like setting New Year’s Resolutions for your business.

It’s exciting to “make big plans”. We feel really good when we do it, and it’s fun! 

(The fact that business planning feels so fun is already a sign that it’s bad)

But just like getting a six-pack requires going to the gym and eating 1200 calories/day, reaching ambitious business goals also require a serious change to how we work every single day.

So, the better thing to do is figure out how you can change/improve your business through daily work/habits.

Break things down into their smallest tasks and work on those tasks every single day.

Get things done as quickly as possible, and try to be as complete as possible with your work.

Software teams have done exactly this with the Agile implementation framework.

Agile is anti-planning. At most, there is a one-hour meeting every two weeks with what needs to get done.

At Starter Story we also operate this way. One meeting every two weeks to get on the same page with what we’re working on. 

We break things down to the smallest possible tasks and execute on them. The faster, the better.

Things change every day, and so do we.

We have ambitious goals, clear direction, and a strong vision, but no elaborate plans to get there.

Just a place to express our ideas freely, and good systems in place to get work done, fast.
December 17th, 2020
The movement is happening.

In 2017, nobody was on Twitter.

Nobody was working on quirky side projects.

Nobody was thinking about quitting their cushy corporate jobs.

Nobody wanted to leave New York City to live like a nomad.

COVID changed all of that.

Everything is going online.

Everyone is going remote.

Everyone is planning and plotting how they can quit their shitty jobs.

People are building businesses. Starting podcasts. Selling courses. Buying bitcoin.

REGULAR people. Not weirdo-early-adopters like me.

The vaccine is almost here.

The movement is happening.

It’s so fucking exciting. 

If you’re reading this, you have a massive head start.
December 17th, 2020
Here's an SEO case study for a website that surfaces trending products to sell!

https://www.loom.com/share/86025ddf23b34df0aaf96b2be92ce83f

I think this could be huge, if done right, because: 

  • the intent of traffic is very high for what he is selling
  • competition seems low based on light research
  • it's data heavy (most blogs can't do this well)
  • trending products are constantly changing (if you can stay up to date, you can win)
December 16th, 2020
In 2010, I watched Social Network and idolized Mark Zuckerberg, and vilified the Winklevoss twins.

In 2020, I idolize the Winklevoss twins and vilify Mark Zuckerberg.
December 15th, 2020
It's been a week since I launched Lean SEO, my first info product, here's a look at the numbers:

  • Sales: $28,226
  • Hours spent creating: 85.5
  • Hours spent promoting: 18.5
  • Total hours: 104

Sales

My sales strategy? None. No ads, and no elaborate landing pages. 

Just:

  • emailing back and forth with people interested
  • tweeting about SEO related things
  • an email list of 150 people
  • sharing my process of creating the course itself

Preorders (with a discount) totally killed it. More than 50% of my sales were preorders.

Launch day sales were a bit weak. I think the price was too high for Twitter. However, I think there will be a nice long tail of sales. I'm still making a few sales every day. (~$500/day)

Time

I set an ambitious deadline on purpose.

I know this SEO framework like the back of my hand, so the hard part was getting it all out of my head, and making sure it was solid, digestible, and actionable.

~70% of my time was spent WRITING. And rewriting. and rewriting.

Course creation:

Most of my time was spent on course creation:

  • outline (~30 hours)
  • slides (~30 hours)
  • screencasts (~10 hours)
  • misc (~10 hours)

The rest of my time spent on promotion:

- emails (~12 hours)
- tweets (~5 hours)
- misc (~2 hours)

Here's the full time tracker.

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Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 12.48.37 PM.png 454 KB



3/ Feedback

Although it's early, I've gotten some nice feedback.

My goal with this course was to share my exact framework for how we 4x'd traffic in 6 months at starterstory.com.

It's no BS, all about taking action, and I love when people tell me that's why they like it!


Should you create a course?

100% yes. 

Especially if you're a founder/expert and have some specialized knowledge.

Why?

  • It doesn't take that long
  • A nice cash infusion for your business
  • You'll come out the other side stronger
  • It's really fun!

I walked away from the course knowing MORE about SEO than ever before.

And finishing this course made me even more confident about the Lean SEO approach, and how we're going to use it to grow Starter Story to 1M/month and beyond.

Over the years, I've been VERY skeptical about selling info products (mostly my own ego), but now, my mind is changed.

I had a boatload of fun working on Lean SEO, and found myself really excited to work on it every day.

Next steps?

-> Build out a course marketplace at starterstory.com

We've interviewed thousands of founders, why can't they also sell courses about the companies they've built?

Logistically, creating a course is quite easy. The most important thing you need: valuable, specialized knowledge!

If you have some interest in doing something similar, please let me know. We can help a bit with the audience and promotion.

Email me: [email protected]
December 15th, 2020
To be good at business, you need to be a bad consumer.
December 13th, 2020
"My greatness doesn't just come success of this record. It comes from just how I feel inside. I felt like I was the greatest in 8th grade, and I was far from having a record out. We were taught to believe in ourselves. To believe that we could do anything. You just wake up in the morning and you just feel good about life." - Kanye
December 12th, 2020
For me, being successful is a sure thing. I don’t how I will be successful, but I know with 100% certainty that I will be.

Because success does not come from luck. It comes from working hard.

And I’m not just talking about working hard on your business or career. I’m talking about working hard on your life. Working hard on your relationships, your family, your hobbies, your diet… all aspects of life!

100% of people that work hard on their life end up being successful. (Success is not just money in your bank account, obviously)

So, if you want to judge if someone will be successful, just ask “do they work hard on their life?”

Do you work hard on your life? If yes, you will be successful.
December 10th, 2020
Apologies I’m publishing this on the 10th, way too late!

November was a great month. We are taking Starter Story to new levels.

$25.8K in recognized revenue, and over $32K in gross bookings. We saw 525K visitors to the website, and we added 5.4K net new email subscribers.


Lots of stuff happened this month, but I will try to break it all down:

Black Friday / Cyber Monday

We never participated in Black Friday deals in prior years, but I wish we did. This year, all we did was two email blasts and we sold nearly 200 new memberships!

We also set up our integration with Klaviyo where we can see direct revenue results from our email campaigns:


Lean SEO Course

In last month’s report, I talked about how we’ll be exploring paid courses and infoproducts on Starter Story.

Serendipitously, a couple of weeks later, I tweeted about this new SEO approach I’ve been working on.

The feedback was so strong that I decided to create and launch the first Starter Story paid course, Lean SEO.

That just released on Tuesday and we did over $25K in sales. Here’s the full details on that.

I’m looking forward to doing more courses on Starter Story, but I won’t be the only one doing them! They’ll be taught by the thousands of founders we’ve interviewed!

Where are people converting to subscription?

This month, I sat down for a couple of hours and really dug into:

(1) when are people converting?
(2) when they convert, where are they coming from?
(3) what parts of the site are they converting on?

My biggest takeaways on these were:

(1) people rarely convert right away (that’s even more obvious with how huge BF was)
(2) email, email, email! (over half of conversions are from emails)
(3) people convert on specific features, like our ideas page, moreso than on content

I’m glad I sat down and did this. It’s given me so much clarity on what we should be focusing on, and has allowed us to make decisions that have already materially improved the business.

Often, we got lost in the chaos of running our businesses that we forget to take a look at this kind of stuff...

More scale in content

This month, we’ve put a ton of effort in scaling up our content machine. More automation. More outsourcing!

We have 2,581 business ideas in our database now. Every new business idea is an opportunity for more data, more content, and more value!

November Numbers

- Monthly revenue (accrual): $25.8K (+51%)
- Traffic: 525K visitors (+22%)
- Content published: +228 (+14%)
- New email subscribers (net): +5.4K (+23%)
- Email collection rate: 2.3% (+10%)

Plans For Future

- Raise Prices

We will raise our prices in the new year, and probably run some sort of campaign around that.

Usually, January is a really big month for us, as people want to start a new business in the new year. December is already looking good, and the vaccine is coming… Entrepreneurship is going to explode in 2021 :D

- YouTube

We’ll push forward with our project to redistribute our content to YouTube. The money from BF + the courses will help with this. 

That’s another argument for selling info products, we can take that money and pump it back into the business flywheel.

- Ambassador Program

I’ve had this idea to hire people from different countries and communities to help us grow our reach in new audiences. 

For example, one of our team members, David, is from Spain and we’ve interviewed a ton of people from his network.

It’s really a win-win because these ambassadors provide a benefit to startups (PR), they get to interview these startups (expand their network), and we get good content out of it!

- More courses

Our goal is to launch 12 courses in 2021, but I think we can do way more if we get other people to launch their own courses on Starter Story.

I built this really cool tool that turns a PowerPoint into a paid course. Soon, I hope others will do the same!

Anyone reading this that has some specialized knowledge and want to do a course? 

More scale of content

Back in January, we set a goal to hit 500k monthly users for Starter Story. It’s pretty cool to see it get there!!

We 5x’d traffic this year, and much of this is thanks to the Lean SEO framework we developed around SEO and content.

But we can’t stop there. We are still barely scratching the surface.

There is so much more opportunity. We’ll continue to scale and push the boundaries of what seemed impossible just months ago.
December 8th, 2020
Missed a couple days. The last week has been HECTIC.

But it's launched. Really proud of it!

Lean SEO.
December 4th, 2020
The faster you move forward, the less time you have to worry about the past.
December 3rd, 2020
In any big project, there is a "dip".

In the beginning of the project, I'm all excited and pumped. I feel brilliant and I'm on a roll.

Then, I start dipping. I run into some really hard stuff. I'm miserable and depressed. I don't feel brilliant. All my ideas are stupid.

Must push through, something great always comes out the other side.
December 2nd, 2020
Whenever I hear "it can't be done", I immediately think "there's the business opportunity!!".

Everyone is already telling each other: "That hard thing? it can't be done".

This prevents 95% of people from even trying.

The other 5% ignore this and at least get their hands dirty.

Most still fail, but learn in the process. These are the entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur, you have a leg up on 95% of people. The only other thing you need is hard work.

Obstacles are opportunities.
December 1st, 2020
I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck. Anymore.

This is my vibe going forward.

For most of 2019 and 2020, I was so worked up and in my own head: 

  • Worried about what people would think about me. 
  • Worried about tweeting too much. 
  • Worried about charging money for my products.
  • Worried about failing in public.
  • Worried about not being successful “enough”.
  • Worried about not one-upping my successes.

I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck. Anymore.

What I learned this year is that nobody cares. Nobody is watching me that closely.

I had a large dose of self-importance, thinking that I had to keep up some identity. This poisoned my mind and made me stubborn.

I’m going rogue now.

If they don’t like it? I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck. Anymore.
December 1st, 2020


  • In 2020, I wrote something bolder.
  • In 2022, will I make it?? Getting there.


(This is an idea from Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich? More here)