I always wanted to create a website. My personal online space where I write. And where, potentially, people pay me for my efforts.
My current website is called durmonski.com. This is his 8th site. The old ones miserably failed.
For the past 3 years, I've published over 100 articles and over 120 book summaries on durmonski.com.
Last year, I transformed my site into a membership site. Paying members were getting access to all the book summaries published. However, things didn't work out the way I planned.
For the course of one year, I made something around $1,000 - for one year.
My strategy was the following:
Publish more book summaries. More summaries will lead to more sales and more happy customers.
It turned out that this wasn't working. After I locked half of my summaries, my traffic sunk. Besides, since this is a side hustle, plus I'm a father, I simply didn't have the time to publish more than 4 posts (a combination of free articles and summaries) to get more traffic.
A couple of months ago, I decided that I need to radically change my approach if I wanted this to become at least partially profitable.
Actually, I wanted to try one last thing before giving up on the idea completely. Yes, I was desperate because the results were stagnant, and I decided that this will be the last thing I'm going to do. If it didn't work, I promised myself that I'll ditch the project.
So what I did?
I sat down and started thinking...
After hours, days, after reading different articles, I decided that reading more is not going to lead to more results. After all, do you really need to read 100 business books to start a business? No, you don't. A lot of founders are not readers, actually.
But what all smart people have in common? What are we all doing to get better, start a business, change our habits?
That's right, they, the smart folks, think about what they want to do, first. They spend time with themselves. Imagine things. Build in their heads and then create something tangible.
Reading 10+ books per month is a vanity metric. What you should be doing is thinking and then executing.
So, after this realization, two things happened:
What I did? And what you (probably) need to do, too?
After reading an article by Josh Spector, titled Most Paid Newsletters Fail Because They Offer More Instead Of Different, I figured out that the people visiting my website, too, don't want more of the same thing. They want something different.
On my website, 30% of the content of a single book summary is free, the rest is behind a paywall. And while the layout is still the same, I'm offering something completely different.
Thankfully, the insights from above were something that emerged right when the Kernal site happened. I've shared my new idea with the community and it turned out that I wasn't mistaking.
This what I shared:
Slow Reading Club - Read Less, Think More, Do More
What if, instead of speed-read all available books and torture your fragile mind with 24/7 content consumption, you focus on one book, one topic each month.
We all read books that suggest change - about our habits, starting a business, fixing our psyche, and ourselves in general, but we rarely do anything with the information we are so quick to consume. In most cases, we read something and quickly move on to the next "big" idea.
The Slow Reading Club (the idea) will offer a monthly virtual box (in the form of a PDF) that contains reading recommendations and exercises that will prompt you to write, so you can think more and better about what's suggested in the book.
No virtual meetings
No Discord groups (at least I don't think it will be necessary)
The focus will be on thinking more and immersing yourself in one particular topic per month.
It seemed that people also thought that reading more is not that important. You should also spend time thinking.
After I got above 35 upvotes on my idea, I decided to actually build the thing.
The Thinkers Club was born!
It took me around a month to change my site and create the first Think Workbook. Then, I advertised the new club on my own newsletters and also on a couple of other newsletters.
It was a huge success - at least based on my previous experience. I got around 18 members from my own newsletter and 22+ from the ads.
The success wasn't only financial. Now, I don't have to publish 3 or 4 book summaries per month - what I previously promised to members. My obligation is to create 1 summary and 1 Think Workbook. This gives me more time to focus on creating free content that can potentially lead to more traffic.
And more importantly, my hope is restored. I now believe that I can make it even more successful.
A couple of highlights for new founders:
-- If it's not working, change things.
-- Be 100% transparent. Once I decided to change my offering, I emailed my current members about the change. I offered refunds if they are not happy. It was the right thing to do. No one requested a refund.
-- Charge more. I was charging $7 per month on my previous membership program. Now, I charge $15/mo and I'm actually thinking of changing this to $25/mo. People perceive your product as more valuable when the price is higher.
-- You can do it. Yes, it will take time, but it's possible.
Thanks for reading!