December 28th, 2020
Starter Story: 5M monthly visitors and $100K monthly revenue by December 2021.
December 27th, 2020
Spoiler alert.

In the final scene of Pixar’s Soul, Joe gets a second chance at life.

When Joe is asked about how he is going to spend his second life, he says:

“I don’t know, but I’m going to live every minute of it.”

He smells the air, then smiles. Then the film ends.


It is the most powerful ending of any film I’ve ever seen. It’s not corny or preachy, either.

I watched Soul for the second time in two nightss, and this time I cried even harder. As the film closed out, I curled into a ball and wept.

There are so many messages to unpack from this film:

  • Finding our “purpose” in life is not what will bring us happiness
  • We become lost when we obsess over something that disconnects us from our lives, even if that something seems “good” (like music, business, etc)
  • We are lucky to have a purpose at all, many people don’t. But we are not ‘better’ than them for this.
  • Sometimes, all we need to do is just tell someone how we really feel (when Joe finally tells his mother why he loves music).
  • It’s not the destination, it’s the journey (when Joe realizes playing with Dorothea doesn’t feel any different)
  • Happiness comes from helping others (helping his student not quit)
  • Happiness comes from enjoying the small parts of life, like pizza, getting a haircut, and human interaction on the subway
  • We are so caught up in our ambitions that we forget to ask our barber about their ambitions. We forget to listen.

I’ll keep watching this film, and writing about it. I can’t think of another film that has impacted me more.
December 26th, 2020
The best movie I've seen in years. Pixar's best. It's one of those movies that leaves you thinking for days.







December 25th, 2020
Today, on Christmas, my online businesses generated $1,355. 

No big sale. No promotion. And I didn't even work today.

Last year on Christmas, we generated $83 (which ain't bad btw!). 

But one year later, we're doing 10x. I also checked traffic, and email subs, and those have pretty much 10x'd as well!

I just think it's crazy that we can have a great day of business on Christmas, of all days, which is usually one of the slowest days of the year...

I'm not trying to say this to brag, but I just feel accomplished because this is the result of an insane amount of hard work and focus this year (and some serious changes we had to make to get here).

I'm putting together my year-end post right now, and I can't wait to talk more about all this. Coming soon!
December 25th, 2020
It's funny how hard I work, yet I’ll probably make 10x more money on Bitcoin than I will on my own businesses.

With obv 100x or even 1000x less work.
December 24th, 2020
When an artist releases something that's highly anticipated, and everyone hates it right away, don't write it off.

It could be that the artist took risks and didn't create something that would just please critics and fans.

Just needs a bit of time.

For example, 808s & Heartbreak by Kanye West. When that came out, many of his "old fans" hated the album. But in hindsight, that album is revolutionary. It spawned a new generation of artists: Drake, Cudi, Weeknd, Lil Uzi Vert.

When I go back and listen to that album, it's timeless. It's amazing. Even though I hated it at the time.
December 23rd, 2020
For most of 2020, I was afraid to tweet.

I had this mentality that “tweeting was wasteful and not worth my time”, but in reality that was a defense mechanism against my fear of rejection.

In this case, it was the rejection of my ideas and my work. I worried they would be criticized, or worse, not even recognized.

As I gained a (small) following over the years, this has seemed to get worse.

I would tweet less and less. I only wanted to tweet when I had *something absolutely epic* to share…

But again, this was actually self-doubt.

I worried that my “normal” life and everyday things weren’t interesting enough, and that I had bigger expectations of what was “tweet-worthy”.

This is wrong. I should have just kept sharing normal, authentic stuff.

Back when I was just starting out, I followed Pieter Levels religiously. Whenever he tweeted, I ate that shit up because of how authentic he was.

Pieter continues to just share interesting little things that happen in his business & daily life.

That’s the point of Twitter. 

Just share cool shit when it happens.

Just share your real thoughts when they happen.

Just stop giving a fuck anymore, about likes, engagement, etiquette, optimizing, etc.

That’s when Twitter becomes fun, and valuable, and when you build connections and friendships and business opportunities.

December 23rd, 2020
Just because someone has an important title at a big company doesn’t mean they are actually good at what they do.

In my own experience, even at fairly big companies, there are only a few people that actually know what they’re doing and have an impact...

In engineering, there are typically just a couple of engineers who (1) know the codebase super well and (2) are capable enough to move fast.

In design, there’s usually just one “mind” who sets the tone for design at the company.

In product, there’s often just one product manager that is so good, that they are driving the entire ship for the entire company’s core product.

This is for a reason. The more people you put on making a decision to solving a problem, the longer it takes to solve.

If you throw 10 designers into a room to make a collective decision, they’ll argue about color palettes for a month.

It doesn’t mean that other people are not working and adding value, I just don’t think I’d consider them to be experts and I certainly wouldn’t take advice from them for my own business.

So next time you hear about a fancy expert who did XYZ at BIG_NAME_COMPANY, remember this. There’s a good chance they were just a butt in a seat.

--

Update:

https://twitter.com/thepatwalls/status/1341751279643553793

Someone just told me about Price's Law. Very cool!
December 22nd, 2020
Adding a simple table of contents can do absolute wonders in SEO.

And it takes about 5 minutes to do:

Just make each element an anchor link:



These anchor links will actually get picked up by Google and inserted into the search results:

This gives users more incentive to click on your search result.


If you use the right keywords, Google should start ranking you for some of the "longtail" searches *within* your blog post:



This blog post now gets 150+ pageviews per day, and has grown consistently over time:



December 22nd, 2020
This morning I woke up at 3AM. Couldn’t sleep.

But now I’m working. What’s cool about running your own business is you can do that.

You can work until 3AM, or you can wake up at 3AM and start working.

I don’t have any meetings this week, and I don’t have to “be up and on Slack” at a certain time.

Back when I had a regular job, I would get so stressed about my sleep problems. I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, and I would sit and think about how I wasn’t going to get enough sleep.

I realize that this is a bit privileged because I don’t have kids... But even if I did have kids, I’d still be able to wake up early and get solid work done and then have time for the kids.

47.1% of people choose to own their own time. These are also the kind of people that also want to be able to wake up at 3AM, not have any bullshit meetings, and live life on their own terms.

You can’t put a price on that.
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.

.
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.