Howdy IH, you probably know me... I've been hanging around here for ages. Today I want to share the exact steps I took to generate $6.1k with my info product. Even though it's an info product, I think there are some potential takeaways for SaaS as well.
I had no audience, other than ~500 Twitter followers, and a handful of friends I chat with via DMs all the time.
This is meant to be inspirational and hopefully replicable for anyone with an info product, or even working on a SaaS and getting ready to launch at some point.
TLDR; at the bottom if you are strapped for time.
It seems the conversion rate went up as the day went on. Typically it flattens out or drops a bit, but my guess is that the number of comments and upvotes increased confidence and made it easier for people to buy.
My product is called Swipe. It's a collection of strategies to help startups improve conversions and sales. The inspiration for this product came from another product called Scrapbook by a fellow IHer @kacper.
Before I ever encountered Scrapbook, I partnered up with another Indie Hacker to create a conversion checklist extension. I launched it on PH and it was received fairly well, but generated zero sales (because there was no paid tier).
At the time, I thought, well this is pointless. Why did we make this with some product links with zero sales to show for it. So, I wanted a do-over. But, this time, I thought I would focus the product specifically to one audience - SaaS startups and bootstrappers who are working on SaaS.
Scrapbook encouraged me to put everything I know and did professionally for clients (in consulting capacity), into one database.
After a lot of struggle and borderline giving up, I finally had a decent version. I'd add to it over time. Then I ran into several setbacks that put the breaks on wrapping it up...
The product was created in May, but it was largely idle due to some setbacks.
#1. We had an incident where I live -- my neighbor's house burned down and 2 people died. This left me somewhat traumatized for a while as I had to run my family out of the house in the middle of the night.
#2. We had our 2nd child. Life has its ways to delay things ;) This is a good setback though, I don't regret it for one bit.
It was after this time that I joined another community called IndieLog and started picking up where I left off on Swipe (on nights and weekends).
Before launching, I made sure to apply many of the strategies from my own product on the landing page. Once the page was complete, I literally scanned my own product to see if there was anything else I could improve or add. It acted as a checklist for the landing page.
My original headline was "Hundreds of the best A/B test ideas at your fingertips". It was a terrible headline!
The purpose of a headline is to capture the reader to read further down the page. The original headline did a very poor job of this. While it made it clear WHAT I'm getting, it didn't communicate WHO it's for and WHY I should care.
I decided to continue refining the headline until I came across Headlime.io Danny's tool was great at generating the headline you see now.
While it is still unclear what exactly you are getting, the subheading connects the dots. I left the first line a bit vague on purpose -- somewhat defying the convention of aiming for crystal clarity -- because I thought it might still work.
Next, I added a subheading, a call to action, and a sample. I really liked how Scrapbook provided a sample with a locked view, so adopted this style for myself.
The subheading makes it very clear what you're getting, and the sample file connects the dots:
Unlock a database of 190 tested conversion strategies that have generated $10M in revenue.
The "$10M" part is important - it acts as initial social proof. Ideally, I'd say something like "$10,083,235 in revenue" to be as specific as possible, but once again I broke this rule because I didn't want to lie.
The clients I've worked for actually generated over $40 million in sales -- but I took it down a few notches because someone expressed to me that it felt untrue or hard to believe.
Seeing how I don't have a whole ton of social cred, I decided to take it down to 10M. No lies, just conservative presentation.
Once I had the PH banner, I put that on the page up top as additional social validation and a way of getting upvotes.
Everyone knows you need some social proof, so I included some logos of some of my clients:
The sales letter is critical for info products, especially those with a higher price tag. Most people buying my type of product would have no idea what it's worth. Heck, I didn't even know what the appropriate price should be.
I used the PAS copywriting formula to create the sales letter. Pain, Agitate, Solution.
Here are the basic principles and methodologies behind the sales letter:
"But people hate reading!".
This is true in many cases for SaaS pages, but for an info product, context is crucial. Here comes the context:
You could be paying a ton of money for an audit, or get something very accessible and affordable right now that will likely help you quite a bit.
The first version of the sale letter was terrible. I knew that first drafts are rarely good, so I re-visited the letter several times in the weeks to come.
Each time, I would trim it down by half. Yeah... you can imagine the first version was really long and very rough. I'd go through the sentences one by one and meticulously cut anything that was unnecessary or did not add any value to my message.
Just like a film editor picks and chooses what to present to the audience, I edited my letter over and over.
This doesn't mean that I am at my final revision. I'm not even a copywriter... An experienced copywriter may laugh at my letter. But, I will keep revisiting the copy and try to improve it.
Most people don't realize how important copy is on their landing pages, the home page, product pages. It's crucial. But, sadly, a lot of people write it once and leave it at that.
I would recommend anyone reading this (assuming you already launched), to go back and look at every word you wrote. Cut out as much fluff as possible and keep only the bare necessities -- the simple, straight-to-the-point words that get to the core of your offer.
The sales letter is conversational. While it follows a formula, my goal is to keep it very casual and simple. Here are some of the copywriting rules I observed:
Ultimately, it is not about me, it's about you.
I used a tool called Hemmingway App to keep all of my writing super simple. See below:
To anchor the value, I seed the reader with the first giant cost of audit (for most bootstrappers at least) -- of $3k. This is how much an average audit cost if I provide it for you. There are companies that charge $10k, but the point is to show that this stuff sucks, and it's not cheap. BUT, a fix/bump in conversions could make a huge difference so a tiny fee for Swipe (in comparison) is worth it.
This is a technique from the Swipe file called price anchoring. We are setting the reader to see the high figure first so that the next number feels tiny in comparison. Yes, it's a bit of a manipulative mind hack, but it's perfectly honest. We are not using any deception here. The audits really are at least $3k.
Price anchoring is incredibly powerful, and you can use it to increase your own revenue quite a bit with simple changes. I have outlined this technique in the file. Specifically when dealing with pricing tables.
I sign off the sales letter with the exact value the reader is going to get if they purchase the product:
The last bit is to add personality -- to show that this is written by a human, not some unknown who knows who... I include my pic and title in a brief but courteous sign-off.
I want people to know that it is me talking to them directly. This is actually a bootstrapper's superpower -- and yet another strategy in the Swipe file ;)
Another powerful method is to include an "about" page with your story. But, I didn't have the time to craft one because I kept getting delayed with other things and I just wanted to get it out already.
Next, I included product images with bullet points describing the VALUE provided, while briefly stating the features.
It is crucial that the page use REAL product photos, not illustrations or mockups. This is yet another strategy from the Swipe file. Illustrations do a poor job of communicating what people are buying. In most cases, you want to show the real product image, video, or video interaction.
It may seem obvious, but spelling out exactly why you should buy something is not a bad idea. You can use this section to explain the full value of the product, WHO it is for, and a compelling reason to buy NOW instead of later. For Swipe, it was a combination of showing value and making it clear that there is a lifetime guarantee.
If you ever create a "why you should buy this" section, try to include the following:
I got my testimonial from an early sale not part of the launch. This is why it's a good idea not to launch early if you do not have any social proof. Keep wrestling those beasts manually until you get a customer or two or three, and then bend over backward to satisfy them in hopes that they leave you a good review. If they are ecstatic about the product, you can and should ask for a review!
Remember how we primed our reader with a large number? Heh, no pun intended.
Yeah.. so we're going to do this again because we are about to ask them to pull out their wallet! I mention the $3k audit fee as my price anchor. Again, no tricks (other than the psychological ones), just set up the next action.
You go into the store and see 100 bars of your favorite ice cream.. how likely are you to run to the freezer? Nah, you'll do your other shopping first then maybe come back to it, unless you see some nice cookies instead.
We don't want that. We want our buyer to be hungry for that bar. So, we limit it. Imagine you only see 1 bar of your favorite ice cream left. Now, what are you going to do? You're going to grab it first, like... right now!
You all know the benefits and downsides of lifetime deals -- cash upfront, no MRR. For info products, it is particularly hard to get a monthly fee unless you are selling a course that requires continuous access. I opted for a one-time fee due to subscription fatigue. Plus, I can use the cash to reinvest in the acquisition.
I wanted to give early buyers some incentive for being early so I created 3 pricing tiers - $87, $157, and $237. The discount from the final tier is meant to entice people to be first. We are creating urgency by making something more scarce. Note: I added another price tier after the promo from 157 to 187. This just adds more scarcity but keeps the promise of raising the prices.
In hindsight, I kind of wish I tried more tiers with lesser intervals kinda like Steph Smith did with her book. I feel that more tiers might increase the incentive by lowering the number of available copies even further. Imagine if I said "10 at this price", instead of 100.
Any course creator will tell you that open enrollment results in fewer sales than closed enrollment. This is because the course is available for a limited time and there is an urgency to sign up. The same is true of sales. Ecommerce does this all the time by showing only a handful of items remaining. And IT WORKS. It's psychological wizardry but it works. Yes, it's in the Swipe file in case you were wondering.
I limited Swipe to 100 per tier for the first 2 tiers. The last tier is the full price. This is to create some sense of scarcity/urgency. Again, I kind of wish I tested smaller tiers, but it is what it is!
This is sort of like every other price table you see, I just wanted to repeat the most important points.
A progress bar is a good visual indicator to encourage people to take action. My coding skills are very limited so I opted for manual progress bar updates. I just set the length of the bar as a percentage of sales and adjusted it as sales came in. It wasn't 100% live, but close.
I wanted people to have a visual reference as to what the price will change to. This way they know they are getting a deal because the price will go up.
Early on I decided that I would create a custom bar for each source of traffic to offer a discount code. I know there are options for bars, but I decided to just make my own. A bit of googling around and I found some code to set a bar based on a URL variable. Then I would just add custom URLs to each place I promote -- this way I know exactly where they came from. The code used from that source would also match in the name so I know if some strategy is effective or not.
Early on, I decided that I wanted to establish an affiliate program. I hesitated, but then a helpful person said I should do it, so I did. I created the Swipe affiliate page. Swipe pays out 50% of all sales and I thought since some of my customers are probably marketing people, they may be able to sell to their clients. With no overhead, my affiliate income is pure profit.
To make people aware of the program, I added a workflow email in Gumroad. This is the email that delivered the product links but also mentioned my affiliate setup. Sure enough, this led to 2 new deals. I now have 4 affiliates and one already made some money.
I planted a Facebook pixel early on so I can eventually create lookalike audiences of people who were engaged with Swipe or purchased it. This is just a strategic long-term decision that I made very early on.
That's it for the page!
The first 6-7 sales come just from building in the open. I shared Swipe initially here on IH and got a sale the same day. You can see me posting about it here, very excited ;)
I think the biggest reason building in the open is so effective, is not that it lets you gain a few initial sales, but it allows you to build a list (if you have email harvesting in place).
Since my info product did not take all that long to create, I did not have a mailing list. But, if I were any other indie hacker here with a product that's only in the idea phase or already being built, I'd definitely have a mailing list.
My tip on building in the open: Skip the "coming soon" page. Mockup an actual demo of what your product might look like to get people excited. Set up a simple email collection box and start talking about everything you are doing.
Post on Twitter, YouTube, IndieHackers, IndieLog, whatever... just keep posting every day everything you are doing. People will naturally get curious and check out your site, and join the list.
Even if you have zero plans to monetize this audience, you can ask them to help you promote your product on ProductHunt. This extra bit of support can be incredible and will make all the difference in the launch.
About 7 hours before launch, I created a pre-launch discount of 40%. I announced it on Twitter, but to my surprise, nobody used it.
This could have something to do with my time zone (I'm in Japan), where everyone in PST and EST time zones may have been taking it easy in the evening. I really didn't give it much thought and that was a mistake on my part.
At this point, I had a sinking feeling that the launch will not go well. If nobody wanted the 40% OFF, why would anyone pay for this thing at all?!
Still, I thought since I made the announcement, I have to go through and there's not much to be done about it. A bit later I realized I shouldn't be too bummed out considering I've already had some early sales and knew the product was in high demand because people literally message me to do audits for them.
This wasn't planned, but I think this one action made the entire difference in the launch. It was spontaneous, but the most important thing I did...
I randomly decided to DM everyone I've been speaking to on Twitter and let them know that I will be launching soon and asked for their support when the time comes. Of course, everyone said yes, they would have my back. ❤️
These people are mostly indie hackers and friends I have made over time. I've chatted extensively with them prior to reaching out and we have good relationships.
I then recorded a video on IndieLog to let people know I'll be launching in 6 hours. No idea how many saw it, but I figured some exposure is better than none. A few positive comments from friends lifted my spirits.
A few of my connections reached out and made the launch even more successful.
I scheduled Swipe to go live at 12:01 AM, PST. PH resets at midnight so you want as much time as you can get.
In terms of the listing itself, I didn't do anything special, except added a video intro and the first comment.
I think indie videos are super powerful and are an underutilized tool. I get it... most of us are shy or introverts. But if you can overcome this, people will connect on a deeper level because they can see who they are buying from.
Try to be friendly and excited in your videos, show your own excitement for your product. When people see you are proud of what you are launching, they are more likely to cheer you on.
The goal of the first comment, for me, is to set up the deal and nail the points why I think people should get Swipe. I also use it to communicate the discount code. Feel free to inspect it for yourself if you need some ideas.
Before the product went live, I typed up my launch tweet, which was inspired by Jim Raptis. Jim launched his product Magic Pattern by announcing 2 free copies to everyone who likes and retweets. I thought this was a brilliant idea and set up something similar for myself.
When the tweet went live, I pinned it. At the end of the day, this tweet had 6,798 impressions, and 204 link clicks.
I also made this tweet into a live update thread. Throughout the launch, I kept updating the tweet. But before all of this, I tagged many of the people who have helped me along the way or inspired me to finish Swipe.
The tagged tweets were not a tactical decision -- I simply wanted to thank all of these people, although I suspect some of this had an impact on people seeing the first tweet and possibly engaging with it.
Here is how the launch tweet performed, courtesy of ilo:
Another indie hacker I chatted up recently and would consider a friend @jeffsvicarovich made a lot of good suggestions. He told me I should post to FB groups, StartupSchool. He also recommended I post to various groups here on IH. And I did!
Jeff was super cool and his valuable advice helped a ton! Jeff ended up following the launch, liking, tweeting, commenting, and generally being super supportive. It's incredible if you ever get a chance to meet people like him who will go out of their way to help you! Another reason to take networking seriously.
Here is the first post: "Swipe has launched on Product Hunt!" that I made in the PH group.
The 2nd post would come later after I gained some initial traction.
I made a few posts in a few Facebook and Slack groups, but the engagement was very low. I'm talking a few comments. If you are part of any active groups, I'd definitely mention there, but for me, this was a non-starter. I did get a few helpful upvotes from one of the slack groups I'm in.
Launching in the PST time zone meant I had to stay up at night. My launch started at 4PM my time. From 4PM to 4AM the next morning, I monitored people's comments and tried to reply to them as quickly as possible. I monitored PH, Twitter, FB groups, Slack groups. I also tried to reply to the two posts I made here, though they did not get too much action -- but I think generated a sale or two!
I think engaging with people is critical because it keeps giving you exposure as the algos prefer active posts. On PH, my product did not have more upvotes than some below me, but it had more engagement and I think this helped the ranking.
Many of us know it's important to keep tweeting your live thread to keep gaining traction. I probably didn't do as good of a job as some. It's a bit hard to keep tweeting without feeling spammy, but there are ways to do it. Feel free to inspect my thread, or better yet -- inspect those of more successful launches.
Types of things I tweeted:
That's about it. In hindsight, I should have shared some more of the strategies from my product -- even the free ones I already openly gave in the sample file. Just discuss them in more detail. Had I done that, I may have had much higher engagement and ultimately a lot more revenue. But hey... life is full of lessons!
My initial goal was to sell 100 copies. I am very close to that. Just 21 left in the current tier. I will keep hustling until I get to 100 sales. I've got a cold outreach strategy that I want to continue exploring.
Since I planted an FB pixel early on, I will start creating lookalike audiences for people who bought Swipe. This should help with the ad conversions. I'm not sure if my sample size will be enough just yet, so I might broaden the audience to highly engaged people instead.
After Swipe reaches 100 sales, I will make the decision to focus on Swipe Ecommerce - my other product, or Swipe Growth (yet another product).
My ultimate goal is to have a suite of "Swipes" and a number of other products. I want to build out a product empire and work on a few central sources to promote them.
One of my growth strategies is to do many mini-launches on PH (starting with Growth Insider next), which all link to the site/newsletter. The site will act as the main hub. All of the newsletter content will push people to the site.
I hope to broaden my reach with the newsletter (a tall order for now..) but that's the goal.
Working on Swipe gave me a few micro-SaaS ideas. I even shared a few on my Startup Ideas podcast. Whether I pursue them or not is left to be determined. I like both the idea of a product empire and of the micro-SaaS. Coding is my biggest challenge so we'll see what happens. One thing is for sure, I need to act quickly.
Swipe is now an open product. You can keep updated on the total sales by going here: https://www.swipe.page/open
The launch would not go as well as it has had it not been for everyone who helped me along the way. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! 🙏🙇🙏🙇
Some of the people who made the launch successful by liking / tweeting or purchasing swipe, I owe it all to them: @damon, @txu, David Miranda, @mister_bruce, @dagorenouf, Chris Lu, @sachaarbonel, Paul van Oijen, Darren Shaw, @dr, @notlhw, Rohan Gilkes, @Brauhaus, @muazzim, @kevinpeters_, @jeffsvicarovich, @storycreator, @nickverhaege, @andreboso, @MattHa, @dmraptis, @utsav, @Janel, @pauldmet, @sagunsh, @Ramy, @RikNieu, @bennoland, @jovian, @dannypostmaa, @mattcrail, @darrenrogan, Dev Basu, @v3nom, Daniel Eitam
Sorry if I missed anyone, probably just couldn't find your real name or username here.
If you guys have any questions, let me know and I'll do my best to answer, or DM me on twitter any time.