AMAs August 26, 2019

I’m Harry Dry. I left uni, failed with a few startups, finally got traction and left my job to work on Marketing Examples. AMA!

Harry Dry @harrydry

Jeeeez! Time flies. I remember being on this forum a couple of years ago trying to understand how to actually launch a startup and stuff haha!

Anyway, quick summary. Left uni in summer of 17' . Had no idea what I wanted to do. Ended up teaching myself how to code and 👉

I'll be here on Sunday 8th of September at 5pm UK time to answer all your questions.

Ask Me Anything!

  1. 11

    How did EmailOctopus end up sponsoring?

    1. 5

      Short story. But I'll tell the long story!

      So, I'd built a dating site for Kanye West fans which started really well, but was starting to die down. To get Kanye's attention I hired these billboards around the world hoping he would back the site. Safe to say he didn't. haha! But the whole thing made a fun story and got some attention.

      From that I was asked to talk at the Indie Hackers London meetup. And I told this story there. Video recording here.

      After the event everyone was going to the pub. And I was thinking I'd go back home, but then I thought you know what, it's been a fun event, I'll stay out. And at the pub, randomly, I started talking to @td_evans who unbeknown to me at the time was the COO of EmailOctopus.

      I'd listened to Gareth and @jonathanbull (the two founders of EmailOctopus) on the Indie Hackers Podcast themselves and I remembered their story pretty well and was actually using EmailOctopus myself at the time for the Kanye dating mailing list.

      So once Tom mentioned EmailOctopus, we had lots to talk about. In fact we also lived really close, so ended up walking back with him talking about sports and cricket.

      Anyway, we stayed in contact a little since. He kindly did an interview for the Web Developement company I was working for at the time and I think we bumped into each other at another Indie Hackers event perhaps.

      So, then flash forward 6 months I was setting up Marketing Examples and a couple of companies had asked to sponsor but I just thought it wasn't right cause I never actually used their product myself. And had no interest in it.

      So I thought to myself who would be the perfect sponsor. And I thought of EmailOctopus. After all, it's the only 3rd party Marketing Examples actually pays for (other than Heroku for hosting) — to send our biweekly email.

      I think it works well, being sponsored by a company you use yourself. It means you can be far more authentic, and honest when customers talk to you about them.

      So the moral of the story is if you want to get a sponsor take out Billbaords around the world asking Kanye West to phone you. And that sounds awful advice. But I actually, think there’s something to it.

      They say: harder you work the luckier you get. But I would also say: the more random stuff you do the luckier you get!

      You could spend weeks and weeks sending out emails trying to get a sponsor. But actually a little bit of face to face time is 100x more valuable imo.

      If I emailed Tom out the blue without first meeting face to face, and crucially building trust ... I don't think it'd would have worked out.

      1. 11

        So usually if we're sponsoring a podcast, website or running an ad cold we'll spend time diving into the metrics of the site and what the ROI would be.

        With Marketing Examples, it was different, as Harry says because of the personal aspect. At the time we began sponsoring it was pre-Product Hunt launch, with a small amount of email subscribers. On the metrics alone, it wasn't really worthwhile.

        So it was very much a bet, based on gut feel, from the confidence in Harry to make the website a success. Judging by the sign-ups we're getting it's paying off. I'd much rather support an Indie Hacker than send Google more money, so I'm glad it's been mutually beneficial for us both.

        1. 3

          This is Indie Hackering at its finest :)

  2. 8

    What is the long-term vision for Marketing Examples?

    1. 2

      Short term very focused on growth. So building the readership essentially. I'd like to build the email list and Twitter to 10k (hopefully in the next few months).
      And then I'll restock.

      Very open to people's ideas here. So any comments of what people would like are really helpful.

      Ideas in my head are:

      1. YouTube Channel / Podcast
      2. Hacker News esque upvote board for other writing
      3. Logins and forum
      4. Handbooks for each topic

      But I don't have to do any of these. Could just keep writing.

      I think the main thing is I've got to enjoy it. Otherwise I'll lose interest.

  3. 7

    How did you become such a good storyteller?

    1. 4

      Firstly, being a good story teller is a lot about about having a good story to tell in the first place. So I'd say I focus on that.

      And secondly, I think a lot comes down to patience. Let's say my first attempt writing something is a 5/10. And so is Joe Bloggs. We're both equally good writers, but the difference is Joe Bloggs puts out the 5/10 piece. And I spend the day re-writing it. And then maybe my version goes to 7/10. And then I'll show it to my brothers. And then tell me if it's good or not. Maybe they'll trim the fat a bit and then it goes up to an 8/10!

      So you only see the 8/10 work ...
      But the reality is my first draft is just as bad as everyone else's. It's just you never see it.

      For example, this story about Hacker News from my Marketing Site. I thought I had nailed it. But I showed it to my brothers and they were like, "this still needs work. It's far too long. You're making the same point over and over" So I spend the next day rewriting it.

      If I didn't have those people who tell me 100% honestly, what they think I'd be putting out subpar writing.

      And finally, the best way to make a story better is just removing the worst paragraphs. 99% of people have fluffy paragraphs which say nothing. Remove everything that doesn't add.

      And, thanks a lot Dru. Very flattering that you think I can tell a story. Appreciate that.

  4. 7

    How do you find new case studies and how do you put together the stories in such an awesome format.

    What's that process like in terms of research and all that? Has your writing gotten better since doing so many of them?

    1. 3

      Anywhere and everywhere. I'm like a police dog sniffing for drugs. Trying to get my next fix. To go into specific articles:

      Why Notion's sign-up form converts so well — When I used to work for Crowdform we were chatting about landing pages in the office. And Ewan (the boss) told everyone about Notion's sign up flow (specifically about how the header bar changes on scroll). I remember thinking it was a cool one so I stored it up for when I started the site.

      Marketing tools are damaging your SEO. And how to fix it. — Saw @davejeffery chatting about it in a Marketing Slack group. So I dm'd him and he explained it to me and gave me screenshots etc ...

      How Nike sold it's first shoes — My friend recommended me the book Shoe Dog, Phil Knight (the founder of Nike's) autobiography. Started loving the Jeff Johnson character and wrote the story about him ...

      Research process is just trawl the web for as long as it takes, until, I really understand it. And then dump everything I find in one google doc. Then open a new clean google doc and start writing in there using the big research google doc.

      And yeah, fortunately and unfortunately it has. My writing is better but my standards are higher (so it's just as hard)!

  5. 4

    How in the world did you secure such a great domain name? (marketingexamples)

    1. 2

      Haha! It cost £1080 from namecheap.

      I was going to call it Marketing Burger Van cause I thought 1k was too much.

      But was chatting to Lorenzo Green and he said Marketing Burger Van was an awful awful name. And if you spend money on a domain you'll actually have the incentive to earn it back.

  6. 3

    Marketing Examples is great. Thanks for putting it together.

    1. 1

      Very nice of you indeed Karthik. Thank you for taking the time to read!

  7. 3

    Hi Harry! How did you get the idea for Marketing Examples and what is your long term vision for it?

    1. 2

      I touched on this a little on the podcast. Instead of looking for the best idea (generally speaking) you want to look for the best idea for you

      So, I wanted something that:

      • I could work on whilst still in a job (because at the time I was).
      • I could build very quickly and monetise quickly.
      • With a high chance of success.
      • I could make use of my best skills (writing / design)

      And then the actual idea it was inspired by a lot of things:

      1. How Steve Schoger and Adam Wathan presented bite size design tips on Twitter and grew their twitter. I thought I could replicate that for Marketing. Which has worked. The Twitter is flying

      2. How @patwalls slowly but surely grew Starter Story. I saw that website when it had literally 200 users a month. So seeing how he grew a content site definitely made me think I could.

      3. Identifying a pattern that a lot of big bootstrapped sites now just started by providing useful information: Nomad List / Indie Hackers / Game Quitters - which later morph into something much bigger

      These things kinda culminated and and Marketing Examples was the result.

  8. 3

    Hey Harry, thanks for sharing.

    Are you working on your site solo? Or do you have employees and/or contractors?
    Did you need to learn more low level computer science (such as making your server optimized and handling multithreading), or did you mainly focus on business models?

    Cheers

    1. 1

      Solo.

      And I haven't actually focused on low level computer science or business models!

      I've done a few Wes Bos courses (that helped me to learn to code). Nothing more technical. And regards to business models there is no business model. I think they're a little overrated. Learn by doing. The map isn't the territory.

  9. 2

    Been following Marketing Examples and Harry since about article 5 and it really is top-notch stuff. Widely interesting whether you're in marketing or not (we all are though whether we like it or not). Amazing site.

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot Jon!

  10. 2

    If you could answer only one question, what would it be and why?

    1. 3

      I don't know. But I do know the one question in the world I want an answer to:

      Why Roger Federer, why, why, why, why, why, are you coming to the net off a short forehand at match point against Djokovic at the Wimbledon final this year. why! WHY! Sit back, play the rally, slice and dice. Draw the mistake. Don't come in on that forehand. You know what Novak's going to do. Every day of the week. He's going to punish you. Could have been 9 Wimbledon's!

      Sorry, I just still think about it

  11. 2

    Hi Harry,

    It's been very cool to watch your progression from the sideline, getting updates on Slack or during each of our Indie London meetup.

    The most impressive thing for me is that you settled for long term gains (consistently publishing one story per day and compounding the rewards) vs short-term projects (Kanye billboard campaign). Way to go imho!

    So now, what's next?

    :)

    Ghyslain

    1. 3

      I think what you touch on here has really been the large part of it's success. Publishing every day allows you to continuously, "relaunch". And get a little traffic spike for every article.

      What next? Very short term focused. I just keep on writing, get 10k email subscribers and get the twitter following to 10k and then I can get my head out the sand and think more about how to monetise it.

      I don't want to jump in too soon to a bigger idea and it flop.

      If you take your eye of the ball and think about the big fights ahead, Andy Ruiz Jnr will rush you with a one, two and you're on the canvas, and then you lose your belts and you've got to go to Saudi Arabia to get them back ...

      Thanks a lot for the support. Big fan of the London community and work you've put in.

  12. 2

    I think we can all agree that now we can call you a marketing guru since I see you everywhere nowadays 😂

    So what do you think is the #1 mistake indie hackers make while marketing?

    I'm sure you might be seeing different tactics to execute if you were working with their startup as a marketing guy. What's the most common thing they don't do?

    1. 3

      Hahaha!

      Fristly, the biggest mistake is talking too much and just actually doing anything. I've sat in meetings with 10 people and they all talk shit for about two hours about a "marketing strategy" and the upshot is they pay an agency 1k a day to post on Instagram. You need doers. People who are happy to get their hands dirty.

      Secondly, a lot of people copy companies. Ok that's all good. But the mistake is their copying them at a totally different point in their cycle.

      Essentially, you don't want to copy Nike today. You want to copy them when they were getting their very first users. You don't want to copy Wes Bos today, you want to copy him when he was first building his audience ...

      And in both situations that took a lot of manual work. So, on that point I'd say direct marketing. Using brute force is highly underrated by people starting out in marketing.

      Cut the fancy stuff. Just talk to people, tell your friends, send some emails ...

  13. 2

    Is marketing examples the end? or do you want to pursue more 'wave making' ideas like yeezy.dating? I feel that your niche is that you have crazy ideas, and that you know how to get it up and running.

    1. 1

      tbh, marketing examples is my freedom idea. the idea that gives me freedom.

      the problem is (in my opinion) if i went straight into something more adventurous and daring and it fails then i just haven't got any money and I'm back in a job again grinding.

      So, as far as I see it I have to make money now. then that will take the pressure off. And then the crazy ideas are back and better than ever. I can promise one at least every year till i die. So expect something around November, December time.

      Involving Donald Trump's hair. I say no more. You'll see it featured on the Jimmy Kimmel show.

      1. 1

        i look forward to it

  14. 2

    Just finished The Kanye Story. Did you always have the courage to make phone calls, send emails and put yourself out there. Or is this something you developed? If so, how?

    1. 4

      I like this question.

      I certainly wasn't born courageous. It's something I've spent a long time working on.

      Take the Billboards for example. I don' just have the courage to take out Billboards in New York, London, Wyoming etc ... and then pick up the phone and call the national press and try and get the story going. No!

      That starts 5 years previously. Sitting round the dinner table with my Grandparents and having the courage to tell a joke. And then at school, putting up m hand and getting over that fear that people think you're a a fool. And then, when you go to uni walking to a dance class yourself. Slowly you build up resistance and harden yourself to what people think about you.

      I did stand up comedy a few years ago. Not cause I thought I was funny but cause I wanted to break the fear of it. And I actually really sucked in fact. One set I did I got mocked afterwards by the MC. It was that bad. But in doing it I got over that fear a bit. It never completely goes away. Hotel California.

      Then more recently, me and my friend bought a Postbox once and put it in the town centre and invited people to write letters to their future selves (which we'd post back) And then we bought some flowers and spelt out, "Take a flower and say thank you ... " with the flowers ...

      All the time people thought we were weird.

      Courage is a muscle which you need to train.

      Jim Carey is my favourite example of this. One of the greatest movie stars of all time. But he didn't just become that person. That bright personality. He walked into the Yuk Yuk club as a fifteen year old boy and got booed of stage.

      Then the next time he did it, it's a bit less scary!

      1. 1

        "Courage is a muscle which you need to train."

        "Slowly you build up resistance and harden yourself to what people think about you."

        I keep a journal of mantras that I read every morning. These two made it in there.

        Thanks for the in depth answers. Really appreciate it!

        1. 2

          Very flattering Dru!

          What else have you got in there?

          A great example of this is talking to people on the bus. It's a really small thing. But every day I do it, it gets easier and my courage muscle gets stronger.

          1. 4

            Great question. Here are some more.

            1. "Perfect is a myth. Make a choice." — Commit to starting and iterating. You seem to embrace this in your writing process.

            2. "The best returns in life come from compound interest" — I think this applies to relationships, businesses and investments.

            3. "Trying to appeal to all leads to average" — We make too many concessions by trying to appeal to everyone.

            4. "IDK = No" — If we're uncertain, the answer should probably be no.

            5. "Focus on what you control" — It's stressful and unhelpful to dwell on things outside of our control.

            6. "You're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Including books, habits, podcasts and music" — We are what we do. Everything influences us.

            7. "Don't try to change someone's worldview. Take those that see it and take them further." — It's much harder change someone's worldview than it is to help someone who already sees it. It's easier for podcast hosts to find sponsors by looking at who's already sponsoring other podcasts. Trying to persuade a company on the potential on podcast advertising is a harder sell. The same goes for newsletters.

            8. "Don't read/watch the news. Skewed incentives." — The news is largely a war on our attention. They try to scare us into coming back and finding out what else we should be afraid of. This leads to availability bias. Some people are terrified of planes but drive to work everyday without concern. Despite the statistics. A monthly/quarterly newspaper would be cool. It would disincentivize clickbaity stories that fill slow news cycles. The Daily podcast sort of embraces this. One story a day. (This view is mostly based on large, ad-supported American media companies)

            9. "We're all driven by the fundamental desire to be appreciated" — A reminder to not underestimate the role of emotion.

            10. "Trust saves time" — Trust removes friction in the decision making process. It's worth building to save time further down the road.

            11. "This too shall pass" — A stoic concept. "There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality."

            12. "Don't argue. Bet" — This is a good forcing function to find out whether we're discussing something that can be determined or whether we're having an argument of faith. Betting also nudges us to talk about how confident we are about something. I'll give you better odds on your money if I'm confident. (You get $50 if you're correct. I get $10 if I'm correct.) We behave differently with skin in the game.

            13. "Feedback is a gift" — You improve much faster by welcoming feedback.

            14. "The journey is the reward. Hedonistic adaptation." — We eventually get used to any rewards/accomplishments. Lottery winners return to their baseline happiness levels. Love the process because that's where 99% of time will be spent.

            Thanks for asking this question Harry. It forced to me confront why I believe some of these things. Hope you're able to take something away from it.

            1. 2

              Well, that was sick. Thanks for taking the time to put these together . I certainly did. My favourites were:

              • "We're all driven by the fundamental desire to be appreciated"
              • "The journey is the reward. Hedonistic adaptation."
              • "Don't read/watch the news"

              I might start this as well. Need to sort things out. My first one would be:

              • You are going to die
              1. 1

                I love that one.

                It's not in my mantra journal but "Momento Mori" has been the screensaver on my phone for years. It's easy to forget.

                Serves as a reminder to not delay decisions or stay in bad relationships. The clock is ticking.

                1. 2

                  yeah, memento mori. exactly the same thing!

                  i want to get a tattoo on my wrist with it.
                  or perhaps "What would a dead harry do"

                  "You got two lives. And your second one begins when you realise you've only got one!"

                  whens the tactical marketing playbook coming out?

                  1. 1

                    Why not a face tat? 😊

                    I'm releasing the marketing playbook chapter-by-chapter each week. (Inspired by Tyler Tringas' Micro-SaaS)

                    The first 5 chapters are already out.

                    Btw. Love your story-based approach to marketing examples. And really enjoyed the latest case study on how you manage to get a crazy high opt-in rate. I got some solid takeaways and bookmarked it to revisit later.

                    1. 2

                      Haha! Sweet. Just signed up.

                      Will give a read on the train back later. One chapter approach is nice. Give's you that continual relaunch.

  15. 2

    Harry, how did you decide that Marketing Examples had enough traction to focus on it full time?

    1. 2

      Pretty simple answer really: the morning I found out I got EmailOctopus agreeing to sponsor I spoke to my bosses at Crowdform about ten minutes later.

      Impatience with actions. Patience with results is a good maxim to follow.

      Also, what's the worst that can happen? It doesn't work and I have to go back into employment. I can deal with that. So why not take the risk.

  16. 1

    Hi Harry,
    I am new to IH. But I have an idea for a product concept that I feel pretty good about. I want to do a market research for this concept. I don't know what questions to ask my target market? I did some search and came up with stuff like - Would you use this product if it were there? What do you think/ feel about the concept? I just don't know if those are the right or exhaustive list of questions. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

    1. 1

      Hi. So it's all very contextual.

      Perosonally I'm not a big fan of market research. The only real validation is someone paying you money. Loads of people say stuff. If you could show them your mvp you'd get far better feedback. What's the idea?

      1. 1

        Thanks Harry for your response. as far as the idea goes, it's still in my head. Need some time before I can share. Once again, appreciate your response.

  17. 1

    Are you making enough money with marketing examples to support yourself? Or do you still live at home?

    Love your work and kindness!

    1. 3

      Thanks a lot Nadav.

      I currently make £667 / mo. I had some money saved from my previous job so I'm good for the minute. I moved out of my parents house about a year ago and live in London with my brother.

      I'm aware the money situation needs to improve. I'm sure it will over time. I've been more focused on growth than on making any more money.

      One plus is that I've had a lot of offers of work from Marketing Examples. It's gave me the flexibility to do some consulting on the odd day if I need to bump up the money. Thanks for your support.

  18. 1

    Do you ever question wether what you're doing is actually bringing value to the market you're in?

    1. 4

      Good question. I've never thought about that until now.

      Hmmm. And now I've thought about it the answer is no, I don't question it. An example. I've wrote about:

      And in each instance I can remember specific emails / messages from people saying they copied the strategy and they've seen results ... So, perhaps without those emails I would be thinking that I'm screaming into a void a bit. But no, I get enough praise from people to make me think I'm helping out a bit.

      I honestly think reading every article on Marketing Examples (by the time I'm done) will become 100x more valuable than reading the books they give you for a Business or Marketing degree.

  19. 1

    I just read the Kanye dating site story - hilarious, smart, funny - and really great read.

    I've checked out Marketing Examples as well a while back - really well done.

    Great job, you're killing it. I'll be following your work.

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot John. Lovely message. Thoroughly appreciated!

  20. 1

    What are your future marketing plans for Marketing Examples? Any new channels you're excited to try out in the future, or will you stick with the ones you've got?

    1. 2

      Twitter Ads

      Been experimenting with Twitter Ads since we spoke. Targeting @julian's audience. I trust they're a smart bunch. And this tweet is coming in at 0.17p a follower. Which is awesome. I tried a while ago and it was like £2 / follower. That tweet already having social proof (likes + RT's), as well as it being dense seems to be the difference.

      Handbooks

      I want to bundle my examples around each topic together. For instance, cold emails and launch as a free handbook on Product Hunt. Benefitting from that Product Hunt spike again and again ... for not huge amounts of extra work.

      Would also look at running some other channel ads for a handbook.

      YouTube

      Also keen to set up a YouTube channel. I think I'll do one video about cold emails more out of curiosity of how many views it could get.

      85% same old. Worst 15% out. Fresh 15% in. On repeat.

      Any ideas of your own please let me know!

  21. 1

    If you had a side-kick in real life. What skills would they have? (real life skills like sales, marketing, design, programming etc)

    1. 4

      Oooo, A sidekick. Interesting.

      I cover (albeit quite averagely) : Marketing, Design, Development, Writing ...

      I'd love a sidekick who could do just promote all the case studies for me. That stuff is a grind. About 4/5 hours sharing them round each time.

      I'd also love a sidekick to just chat easy decisions through with. Being alone I often am indecisive over small decisions. Questioning myself too much maybe...

  22. 1

    How do you plan to further monetise Marketing Examples? Are you looking for more sponsorships or other methods?

    1. 1

      Good question Nathan. We'll see how far sponsorship takes us for now. I'm on a three month term with EmailOctopus so we'll see what happens in a month or so.

      It sounds odd. But honestly I've just got my head down trying to get to 10k email list and twitter. From there I'll get my head out the sand and look around, and focus more on the money.

      But for now, I don't want to move too soon on the monetisation front. I respect the audience, so it's got to be the right time. Probably the worst answer I've wrote. Will be interesting to check back in a 5 months and see where we are here!

  23. 1

    What happened after you got off the phone with Kanye?

    1. 2

      Well, i never spoke to Kanye. I spoke to the CFO of Yeezy. He ended up losing his job so the relationship kind of ended.

      I just walked back home. I think I treated myself to a croissant from Tesco. I can't remember too well. The call was a good moment though.

  24. 1

    What other ideas have you tried /considered before committing to Marketing Examples?

    1. 1

      Tried and failed selling canvas prints.
      Tried and failed making websites for musicians.
      Tried making a dating site. Then tried making a dating app.

      I talk a bit about why they didn't work on this talk

  25. 1

    What is your favorite story that came out of working on Marketing Examples, or one of your failed startups?

    1. 1

      The story about how Nike sold their first shoes

      Every time you see a pair of Nike's remember that it started with Phil Knight, driving to local track meets, selling them out of the boot of his car to local runners.

      One by One

  26. 1

    Harry, what is your favorite part about launching and scaling your own company?

    1. 2

      it breathes life into me