Tell us about yourself and what you're working on.
Hello, I'm Patrick, and I'm a law graduate who decided to learn programming after graduating. This led to exploring online business and what was possible in this arena.
Publishing Push helps authors and publishers to obtain reviews and PR coverage. We target relevant bloggers and reviews to secure coverage for authors and their books.
I have bootstrapped the company from $0 to $6000 per month in revenue. This has been consistent for over 3 years.
What motivated you to get started with Publishing Push? What were your initial goals? And how'd you come up with the idea?
Publishing Push was the result of a consulting gig. I was hired to help a publishing house. It went very well, and Publishing Push was born. It has, of course, evolved dramatically since its conception.
My primary objective from the start was to build a business I could run from anywhere. The next goal after that was to remove myself from the business through automation and employees.
What did it take to get Publishing Push off the ground? How has it evolved over time?
I used consulting revenue to bootstrap the business. I offered general marketing consultancy to a variety of businesses. Initially we focused on social media for authors but through feedback our offering evolved.
We realized that authors needed reviews as social proof and that this was key to selling books. The second thing they needed was PR so people could discover their books.
After getting some great feedback from our customers we added self-publishing services to our offering. We now provide proofreading, editing, cover design, formatting, etc. Everything to take an author from word document to published book in print and digital formats.
The biggest issue I had building the business was time. PR is a very time-intensive task. In order to make the business scalable, I had to automate sections of this work flow. I used Python and Google Drive to build an automated PR outreach tool. It allowed me to send personalized pitch emails in bulk and track everything. There was a course on ProgrammingForMarketers.com which inspired the first version. It has again evolved since then and been refined.
What marketing strategies have you used? How have you attracted authors and grown your business?
The initial launch and early customers came through Google Adwords. The CPA was high, but it allowed me to test the concept. Within the first week I had a couple of clients. The second week we secured even more. Google Adwords was a great launching tool.
Over time the CPA went up due to increased competition on the keywords. From there, I began experimenting with Twitter. Until about a year ago, Twitter was the best source of leads for us. Authors are on Twitter in the millions. We would engage with relevant accounts, follow authors, like relevant posts, tweet questions, and hold Q&A's. We even ran some Twitter ads, although we actually received better ROI from the organic work.
At one stage, 80% of our leads were coming from Twitter. I had automated most of this work so the ROI was enormous. Twitter has since become incredibly crowded and we have looked elsewhere for results.
A key takeaway is that when something works double down on it. Pour all your effort into where you are getting the best results. Especially when you are a small, bootstrapped company. Leads and sales are your oxygen.
To pick up the slack when Twitter's effectiveness dropped, I focused on content marketing. The benefits from content marketing are enormous. You become a thought leader which is vital. Providing great value means people build a connection with your company. You then also receive all the SEO benefits that come with great content that people share.
Spreading this content is key. Post it on social media, forums, communities, Facebook groups, and ask other bloggers to link to it and place it in their resource pages.
I could talk about marketing and automating this for hours. The key points are to experiment and then double down on what works.
What's the story behind your business model and revenue? Is there a software component to what you do, or is it all consulting work?
We sell PR packages and we sell publishing packages. The PR packages are run through software. This tracks everything for us and automates the time-consuming elements of the work. Invoicing is handled through a company called Crunch.co.uk, and I have someone who manages this.
Today we make on average $6000 per month. The revenue is all package-based, so there's some fluctuation.
Recurring revenue is something I have tried to add. Customers do purchase PR packages for several months, but we would like to offer a service that recurs monthly. Currently I am testing a few new services with our customers.
In addition, more competitors have entered the market so we need to focus on value and staying ahead of competitors.
What are the biggest lessons you've learned so far? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
My mistake was not outsourcing soon enough. Once I did that I was able to grow the business.
Also, I sincerely recommend taking a programming course. It has not only allowed me to build this business, but it also improved my problem solving skills.
What's been most helpful to you on your journey? What do you think your biggest advantages have been?
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Feriss changed how I approach business. It planted the seed for a business that ran without my daily input.
Another excellent book is Built to Sell by John Warrillow. It essentially tells the story of a company owner who runs a consulting firm and can't sell it because he is too involved in the business. It explains how he turns it around. Changed my thinking entirely!
This project all began after a referral. I was consulting for all manner of companies and happened to be referred to a publishing house. The key is to be in the game. Eventually an opportunity arises.
What's your advice for aspiring indie hackers?
The major mistake I see others making is not outsourcing and automating soon enough. I made that mistake. As soon as I addressed that everything became easier. It can be tough, especially when you're bootstrapped, to spend money on workers, software, or other tools, but it has to be done.
My biggest piece of advice is just to do. I tried a number of ideas, and eventually one stuck. Just do ;)
Where can we go to learn more?
Having automated one business, I now plan to help others do the same.