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I sold nearly $100k of my ebook in 8 months, while growing Trends to millions in ARR. AMA!

Hey Indie Hackers!

Over the past few years, I've been so impressed by the products that Indie Hackers have built. For a long time, I would build products of my own, but always struggled to monetize them.

Couldn't be happier to be returning to do an AMA, now that I have a profitable product (my book, Doing Content Right), that is nearing $100k in sales in around 8 months (which feels just as crazy to me, as it may be to you!)

Throughout the years, I've also been working full-time, most recently at The Hustle, leading up their Trends product, which was acquired by HubSpot in February!

Happy to answer questions on any topic, but here's what I know the most about:

  • Making while working FT
  • Growth and marketing
  • Content (and doing it right! 😉)
  • Remote Work/Nomading (I spent ~4 years on the road)
  • Learning to code
  • Trends!

I'll be in and out answering questions all day, so fire away! 🚀

  1. 8

    What's a controversial belief you hold that you're surprised more people don't hold?

    1. 9

      Always coming in with the hard-hitting questions. 😉

      Lately, I've been having trouble discerning what's controversial, but I think perhaps the view that I hold strongly that I've gotten the most negative feedback about is the fact that you have way more control over your life than you think.

      Sure, things in life are unfair. Sure, we should push for better.

      But, I do think that it's your responsibility to make your life great, not someone else's. And furthermore, even if the game is still "rigged", it's far less rigged than ever before. The internet has democratized so much, such that nearly anyone, anywhere, can start something online. This shouldn't be controversial... it should be empowering!

      Let me give you an example:

      In my article, I said You Don't Need To Quit Your Job to Make. Years ago, when it trended on Hacker News, many of the comments were along the lines of "Well, that works for YOU" or "You don't know what it's like to be in X situation" or "You can do that because you work remotely, but I do not". Those comments were both correct and unhelpful. Everyone faces different kinds of hardship -- some certainly more than others. But, that doesn't mean that everyone in their unique circumstance can't work toward making their own life better... to design their lives to be best for them.

      And what a lot of people reading that post didn't know is that I, too, had to fight my way out of the path I was on before. After graduating college (which yes, I was privileged to do)...

      • I had tens of thousands in student debt (because I paid for it myself)
      • I was commuting 2h a day
      • I had parents to financially support
      • I had a job in an industry that I didn't want to stay in
      • I lived in a city that I did not want to be in

      It took time, but with time:

      • I became financially stable (paid off my loans)
      • Found a remote job that I was excited about (after applying to hundreds and working several on the side. At one point, I literally had four jobs!)
      • Became nomadic and got rid of my commute

      Choosing not to take responsibility for your life hurts one person the most: you.

      1. 2

        I want to upvote this 100x. Great answer.

        1. 1

          Thanks Nial!! 🙌 I wish more people shared our opinion!

      2. 1

        Very valuable response, and your journey is undeniably inspiring. The top line opinion is still controversial though- not everyone has easy access to democratizing forces like education or the Internet. Many struggle with abuse or addiction. Not trying to take away from your point, I just think it's important to be mindful that there are people who lack the agency to take control of their lives like you say. In any case, thanks for sharing!

        1. 1

          Thank you for the kind and thoughtful discourse! I will agree that lots of people struggle and I am not trying to diminish their experience, but I do think at the end of the day, each person is responsible for their own life. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. I have personally dealt with people in my life with severe mental illness and at the end of the day, even if others try to get them help, their lives will never improve until they have the agency to strive for that.

    2. 2

      Peter Thiel's question - nice

  2. 5

    Hi! Congrats! So did you learn to code while working FT and writing the book? How do you manage your time? (Quarantine side effect?)

    1. 2

      Thank you!

      I learned to code in 2018, so not at the same time as writing the book and not during quarantine. I had tried learning to code for years on and off, and had always failed. The only thing that finally worked for me was tracking my progress every single day and making it my #1 goal for the year. To learn more, I documented my process here in my "Year of Sponge"

      As for the book, I went through a similar process. I set a clear deadline (based on pre-orders) and made it my number one goal. I think that we can actually all accomplish a lot, if we're focused, but often we try to do too many things at once!

      You may find these articles helpful as well!

      1. 2

        Thanks a lot, inspiring stuff! Love the sponge concept! :)

  3. 5

    Hey Steph! Congrats on the success. The 100K in sales is seriously impressive.

    What was your strategy to drive sales for your ebook?

    I'm confident that I have a valuable ebook but haven't spent much time promoting it. Would love to hear how you did it. Thanks.

    1. 3

      Thank you so much!

      The first step is just creating something that people love and want to talk about. Sounds incredibly obvious, but often people skip it. Okay, assuming you're already there, here are some things that I did. You can find visual examples on slide 16 onward here:

      • Building in the open: This is talked about a lot, so I won't go into depth, but the way I like to articulate it is "opening your garage door". Don't want until launch day to build hype around your product.
      • Narrow your path to feedback: This book started as a tweet where I asked people if they would pay for it. It turns out in this case, the answer was yes. Sometimes it's no! But this helps you get feedback quickly to ensure you're on the right path. And people pre-buying helps people put their money where their mouth is.
      • Pre-sales: Speaking of pre-sales, having customers buy in early means you have a cohort of customers supporting you when you're ready to launch.
      • Delayed Product Hunt launch: The same strategy was used with Product Hunt. Many people launch right when a product is ready, but if you approach it that way, you're hoping the PH launch will generate your success, instead of the other way around. In other words, if you launch immediately, you are relying on the success of a launch, instead of your audience creating the success of your launch.
      • Affiliates: I utilized Gumroad's affiliate program and saw a ton of sales come through there. This is dependent on you having a great product that people are excited to share.
      • Lowering friction to consume: One underrated thing that I don't see enough creators do is lowering the friction for someone to consume the content. Even if they buy, if they never consume though, they will never share, become an affiliate, etc. There were several things I did to encourage consumption, including structuring like a textbook, a first-page that walked you through how to use it, and having video sessions for those that didn't have time to read. I also tacked on a community and gave readers different reading formats, like MOBI for those who prefer Kindle.
      • Help people help you: Tied to the above, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to help you. Have shareable assets within your book, whether it's highlighted quotes or infographics. The quotes that I featured in my book were tweeted about much more widely than other parts of the book.
      • Tiered pricing strategy: One of the things that has been commented on the most, is my tiered pricing strategy, which meant the price went up as more people bought. This triggered scarcity and also helped me find the right price point/discounting mechanisms later.

      It's important to note that I already had somewhat of an audience before launching (I believe ~7k followers?) and also spent years writing online before creating this. In other words, I had a group of people already listening.

      Hope this helps!

      1. 2

        Hi Steph, thank you for your insights. How did you go about identifying pre-sales customers and approaching them? Were they already your Twitter followers? Rgs, Alex

        1. 1

          In this case, I was lucky to have an audience on Twitter already! This is one of the reasons that I encourage people to build up an audience (or you could say a "funnel") first and not gate their content early on. Giving more than you take for a period time can pay dividends.

      2. 2

        very helpful, thank you!

        1. 1

          Glad you found it helpful!

  4. 4

    Congrats on the huge milestone Steph!

    If I’m looking at the graph you shared correctly, it looks like a good amount of sales come from big spikes.

    Impressively, the most recent (and largest one) comes nearly a year after publishing.

    What methods of promotion caused those spikes and how have you found new audiences to sell it to?

    1. 1

      Thanks Stew! You are correct, that a decent amount of sales. The very top single day ever was $8200, but there was five main spikes that I'll call out:

      • Pre-sales: Brought in $5-10k in pre-sales.
      • Launch: The launch itself brought in a bunch more hype, which is that second spike.
      • Post-Launch Hype: The beautiful thing about a pre-launch is that you have a bunch of people who will engage with your product at the same time. That wave of people collectively helped hype the product over the next couple weeks, creating that third spike. Trends was also kind enough to showcase the product that week.
      • Black Friday: Self-explanatory
      • Product Hunt Launch: The highest day, mentioned above. Top day was $8.2k, but all in, probably brought in $10-15k. The key here was waiting until I had an already large audience that was ready to support me in the launch, versus what most people do in hoping that the launch will bring them hype.

      I've also played around with discounting throughout the period, which has worked really nicely. Additionally, I've continued to slowly drip out learnings from the book and add to the product. For example, for the recent Product Hunt launch, I added a new audio chapter and did a bonus AMA for new and existing buyers, along with a 1:1 creator match for those that wanted to participate.

      There are tons of other ways that I could market this (and probably will!), but what I've found surprising is that at least half of the life-time sales have come from long-tail sales over the last 8 months. Over the period since the book officially launched, I've only seen 9 days with no sales, out of 225 days. Meaning 96% of days there are sales! I think it really speaks to the incredible ability of great content doing the work for you.

  5. 4

    Congrats Steph! Love to see it. How'd you manage to write such a good book whilst holding down a full time job?!

    1. 3

      Thanks Harry!

      I always like to remind people that the book was actually 5+ years in the making (learning and distilling the expertise) when I answer this question. I think I originally heard of the Jack Kerouac's book written in three weeks and an interview where he's asked “How long did it take you to write ‘On The Road’”, to which Jack replies, “Three weeks”. But when Allen asks, “How long were you on the road for?”, Jack says, “Seven years”. In other words, Kerouac spent seven years and three weeks writing that book.

      Now, with that said, actually putting this thing on paper in a short period was all about deadlines and weight behind the deadline (pre-orders). With the pressure of people waiting for this thing, I was more incentivized than ever to make it great and that just meant spending every extra hour that I had on this thing. It was my only goal outside of my full-time job for those couple months. I wish I had a more elegant answer, but it really just looked like a lot of nights working until 3AM!

      Also, Parkinson's Law is a strong force, so I try my best to contain my projects in discrete timelines.

      You might also find these articles helpful!

      1. 2

        i love that jack kerouac answer...

        interesting. thanks for such detail. and i think i need some more deadlines!

        1. 1

          I think it's all about recognizing what your unique brain is good at or not, and then setting up an environment that plays to your strengths and minimizes your pitfalls. I could work on most projects endlessly, so deadlines are a must! Come to think of it, I've never actually launched any of my projects without a deadline.

  6. 3

    What's preventing more (small) remote companies from going async?

    I enjoyed the book. Loved that there were corresponding video sessions to skim through too after reading, too.

    1. 2

      Thanks so much!

      And I love the question. I think the reason that companies are slow to go more async is just because of habits. We're used to certain ways of working and it takes time for the optimal to beat out the habitual. I even find myself doing this... having the reaction to ask someone to jump on a call, instead of documenting through an asynchronous loom.

      I think this also stems from the fact that people want to do things right away. Synchronous is more immediate, while asynchronous may feel slower in the short-term, it's much more effective and robust in the long-term.

      So really, what it comes down to is training people within your organizations to lean towards async and the habitual behaviour will come with time.

  7. 3

    Hi Steph. I bought Doing Content Right when it was just $50… great to see the success you have had.

    My questions:

    1. If you were to start a NoCode Agency, how would you do it? How would collect your first paying clients? Would you learn NoCode platforms like Webflow or outsource it? Very curious to see how and what you’d do with the idea of starting a NoCode Agency.

    2. What tips do you have on creating a paid newsletter? I have some solid newsletter niche ideas that can be VERY successful but I’m having trouble on getting started. The niche? Engineering leadership advice, targeted at EMs and heads of engineering. Can you help me? I know this can be successful. Any advice, reference links would be greatly appreciated.

    3. What trend(s) do you think we will see appear and/or continue to gain momentum in the next 5 years?

    1. 1

      Hey! Thanks so much for buying DCR. 🤗

      1. Interesting question! As someone who's never worked with a no-code agency, I will first say that my experience in this space is limited. I use no-code tools myself, but have never hired someone to work on a no-code project. One thing that comes to mind is that no-code is typically a replacement for code, so that creators can actually build themselves, so I do wonder how much demand there is to hire someone for this work. If I were you, I would do keyword research first to see if this is something that people are searching for. Are there other agencies selling these services? If so, how are they acquiring customers? You can use some of the same tactics in DCR, where you use browser plugins to see where they're advertising.

      I would likely focus a no-code agency less on "we do Webflow" and moreso on the outcomes that people are truly looking for. For example: "We build marketplaces" or "We build white-labeled communities".

      1. I'm going to direct you to the distribution and SEO sections of DCR, since you're a customer! Additionally, I would encourage you to visit the part of Chapter 2, re: paid or free. If you don't currently have an audience, I would encourage you to focus on free content, since it's incredible hard to grow a paid publication if you don't already have an audience. Even with Trends, we benefited greatly from the Hustle daily email. Most successful paid newsletters started free or had a free arm to it. It sounds like your content, if done well, would be easy to get trending on Hacker News, Lobsters, Reddit, and similar sites targeting technical audiences. You'll want to ensure that your free content is optimized to convert folks to your newsletter, which you can read more about in the modal section of the book!

      2. You'll have to subscribe to Trends to find out! JK. There are so many, but I'm really "bullish" on biotech. I think that the wave of software that we saw in the last few decades will happen next with biotechnology, especially with some of the unlocks like Alpha Fold. I also think that there are going to be some pretty interesting secondary trends from remote work, including a change in the global taxation system and nomad visas, or products that help people stay healthy and happy while working remotely. If you're trying to capitalize on the remote work trend, please don't start the next Zoom. :)

  8. 2

    Nice work, lander looks great

  9. 2

    Congratulation Steph.

    I purchased it in the early days when you announced it in NLC. And still struggling to read it.

    I resigned from the job, so I will read it in May hopefully.

    1. 1

      Thank you, Falak! I hope that you get a chance to read it. If you're struggling to read the content, I encourage you to also take a look through the video sessions. 😊

  10. 2

    Could you please share some advices to plan content and build an audience?

    1. 3

      Hi Emma! I must start by saying that this is a really broad question, but I'll try my best to answer it.

      If you're looking to write online, my advice is always to first find identify what your differentiator is. There is SO much content out there today, so you need to find a way to stand out. Most people try to stand out by writing about something that no one is today, which is really hard to do and normally signals that it's actually something that people don't care about.

      Instead, I encourage people to find something that they know super well and to focus on doing that at least 1% better than what already exists out there today. You should be able to articulate what you're doing better in an adjective. Are you funnier? More deeply researched? Contrarian? Simple? More visual? Etc

      This is true for newsletters, blogs, Twitter accounts, Youtube videos, etc. There has to be a reason that someone cares about your content, relative to the crowd.

      If you're looking for a process for writing content, this also heavily depends on what you're creating and for what purpose, but I share my personal process here.

      1. 1

        Thank you for your detail sharing. This helps a lot - I am moving with the same process, however things move so slowly. It takes me three years to write one chapter despite of quickly having an outline early.

        Would you mind if I asked you more about how you get inspiration? Do you often go to any online writing community? If yes, please share.

  11. 2

    That's huge. Congrats. I was on your landing page, You should probably update this part "$100. But you can use the code LAUNCH until April 16 for 50% off."

    P.S. Really liked your exit intent pop-up offer.

    1. 1

      Thank you so much! The landing page is updated now. :)

  12. 2

    Hey Steph, congratulations! Amazing work. Quick suggestion: why not post the book link in your post (seeing how much traction it's getting!). I've always been intrigued by people who write books, given that it's kind of like a one-time thing where you publish, sell and then the interest fizzles out after a while.

    Would you consider helping others build a community for a fee?

    1. 1

      Hi Sheran! The book is linked in the description, but if you're asking why it's not in the post title, you're not allowed to include links in there.

      But even past that, I'm not trying to squeeze every bit of revenue out of this product. In fact, I've found that even with basically no marketing, people have found the product on their own through word of mouth. 8 months after launch and I still rarely have a day where there are no sales (there have been 9/225 days without sales), meaning 96% of days continue to generate long-tail revenue!

      I've done contract work in the past, but really trying to limit doing any recently, so that I can focus on my own projects!

  13. 2

    What are the trends you are currently seeing?

    Disregard the obvious: Crypto, NFTs, Remote work, GPT-3, DALL-E, etc...

    Trends that no one is talking about, only a few smart ones are building on it.

    1. 2

      Haha great question. There are SO many opportunities outside of the classic suggestions.

      I will quickly comment on remote work because it's a space I love, but if people are building in this space, please don't be the 1000th person to say they can build the next Zoom! There are so many other opportunities, like WFH benefits, WFH fitness (ex: Cubii or under-desk treadmills), fractional real estate, nomad visas, corporate gifting, and more.

      Okay, now that I've got that out of my system 😅 ... here are some other major trends that I think are incredibly interesting. Note: I kept super niche ideas out of here, since fewer people would find them interesting, but also... finding ideas that absolutely no one is talking about can often mean that it's not actually something worth pursuing. I find that finding popular trends, but looking to the fringes of that trend is actually where you can both ride the wave and not run into so much competition.

      • Sleep. Meditation took off over the last decade and it's sleep's turn. The CDC calls the number of sleep disorders a public health epidemic. There's opportunity in so many spaces here, from info sites to weighted blankets, premium PJs, enterprise sleep programs, popular sleep drugs with expired patents, lucid dreaming courses, etc.
      • Genomics: With recent breakthroughs in things like AlphaFold, biotech is going to be a crazy industry over the next decade. People are already selling DIY CRISPR kits and I'm interested to see where this thing goes.
      • Esports: Another maybe obvious trend, but the opportunity to capitalize is way more diverse than most people realize. Ranging from gamer tourism and trade shows, gaming wearables and equipment and their resale markets, white-labeling merchandise, influencer marketplaces, etc.

      Some other trends that we've written about in Trends, that I personally find interesting: browser extensions, non-alcoholic booze, a renewed interest in more economic 3D printing, super high-margin products like perfume, dried flowers and plants, logistics and cold chain tech, hard kombucha, and basically anything in the pet or elder care industries.

      1. 2

        Damn, you never disappoint. Great trends.

        In a few years, you'll be ranking on Google for Remote Work like Li Jin for Passion Economy if you keep sneaking in Remote Work haha.

        Didn't know about Cubii but looks fun.

        Listened to MFM last week with Elaine Zelby & they did talk about something like sleeping for adults like the Snoo. They also talked about Tempo which is a nice AI gym that analyzes if you're doing a proper workout or not.

        I think about AR/VR a lot & Elon Musk's Neuralink in trends going up the next decade.

        Interesting in hearing your thoughts about Browser Extensions? Don't know if you've published an extension but it's not that fun process. Definitely is underutilized as a channel but an annoying process indeed.

        When you say Chrome extension, I don't think you mean a standalone extension but a full-fledged app like Grammarly or Toucan 😜

        Also, what do you think about Chrome extensions vs extensions for every other browser? Is it worth it to build for other browsers, judging by the market share is heavily skewed towards Chrome?

        1. 1

          Haha thank you! I also think AR/VR will have a renaissance, due to affordability of the devices. This is a similar trend to 3D printing, where something was overhyped, died down for a while, and will re-emerge now that it's economic.

          Browser Extensions are just underutilized business models. Think about how many unicorn mobile apps there are. Now think of how many unicorn browser extensions there are. Only a few: Loom, Grammarly, Honey, and maybe a handful of others. From what I understand, creating a great browser extension is surprisingly hard, but that also forms a moat for those that do.

          Chrome makes the most sense to focus on because it has a majority of the market share. Most of these apps start there and then end up creating extensions for the other browsers as well.

  14. 2

    Where are you nomading? What places you liked the most and why?

    1. 1

      Hey! Due to the pandemic, I've temporarily stopped nomading and been in California for the last year, with a couple trips to Mexico. ☀️

      I hope to return back to Asia later this year though, as that is by far my favourite region to be as a nomad. In particular, I love Canggu, Chiang Mai, and Kyoto. Overall, if you're just starting as a nomad, I'd encourage you to start in places with a lot of other nomads/infastructure, which you can always get a sense of on NomadList. Even though it can be fun to go off the beaten path, having a strong community really makes or breaks the nomad experience long-term. Plus, many of the most popular spots are popular for a reason: low cost of living, good weather, good internet, good food, easy transportation (often walking or scootering), etc.

      You can also find some of my recommendations here.

  15. 2

    hey Steph, first off massive congratulations!
    $100K is no small feat regardless of what you sell 🎉

    My question: when it comes to content what differentiates GREAT companies from not so great ones?

    1. 2

      Hey Manuel! Thanks so much! 🥳

      Hmm this is an interesting question. I think the difference between great companies and the content they create vs the latter, really comes down to two things:

      1. They are writing about something the world actually needs
      2. They know that thing so damn well, that they can be significantly differentiated in how they write about that thing.

      Sometimes companies do one thing or the other, but rarely do I see them kick ass at both. For example, Barstool is fits the bill. Why? They write about something there is a lot of demand for (sports news) and they are funnier than anyone in the business.

      Not many companies can actually articulate how they're writing about something better, even though that's what really wins a reader over AND how people tell their friends about something.

      Another example: people don't read The Hustle because they write about business and tech news. It's because they think it's again, funnier and more digestible, than the other options out there.

      Now, the differentiator doesn't always have to be humor. It can be depth. It can be wacky. It can be more concise. The list goes on.

      But ultimately, that's what really separates the good from the great in not just content, but any company. They have a clear, tangible edge relative to anything else in their respective market. And that edge is not what they do, but how they do it.

  16. 2

    Hey Steph!

    Incredible results! 100K is such a magical milestone and you can be proud. I loved reading about you working full-time whilst also building several side projects. Having done it myself, it's always awesome to see others succeed in it aswell. :)

    My question is off-topic:
    I saw on your profile that you participated in a 24h startup challenge, which was live-streamed. Where can I watch this stream? I'd love to get some insight into how others go about building a startup.

    Cheers!

    1. 2

      Hey Brent! Thank you so much. 😊

      Yes! You can watch the end of the stream here, or watch most of it in my Twitch highlights. I will warn you... it's quite long and boring, since I never put together a time lapse version. I think @levelsio has recorded a few time lapses that would probably be much more interesting!

  17. 2

    Do you miss the nomad life? I was just in Canggu and know quite a few of the Indie Hackers there hung out with you (in 2019, I think?) - I've been on the road since 2015 and was wondering how you're finding it being back in the States and etc

    Thanks for doing this AMA :-)

    1. 1

      Hey Amar!

      I definitely miss the nomadic life. I don't miss the constant travel that I did early on, but I miss the complete flexibility and places like Canggu that I started to form more of a base in! My goal for years has been to just build up a couple bases around the world, one of them being Canggu. Hoping to spend some more time there later this year.

      I'm not originally from the States, so it's all relatively new to me and I happened to get here a week before lockdowns. The pandemic has made is much harder to build community where I am, but I'm hopeful now that things are re-opening!

  18. 2

    What were the most insightful mistakes/failures in your journey up to this point?

    1. 1

      Hey Felix! Good question. I'm still learning a ton, but here's are few mistakes I've made:

      • Getting too wrapped up in other creators' work or progress. There will always be someone further along than you. Remember that jealously is more of a reflection of your progress than another person's. As much as possible, compete against yourself.
      • Focusing too much on launches. Sites like Product Hunt are great, but they're also great at deceiving you into thinking that something has real legs. Some things that shoot to the top of PH are fun and they don't need to be any more than that.
      • Focusing on WAY too many things. I still struggle with this and have written about it in my end of year review here.
      • Not charging for things sooner. You don't need to monetize everything (and shouldn't), but if you want to charge for something, get the validation immediately before you start building. And always charge more! Both of these were really instrumental with the recent book.
      • Finally, optimizing too much for the short-term can be really problematic, because the long-game wins. Overnight successes are more rare than you think.
      1. 1

        Thank s for the great answer. Will directly head over to your end of year review to learn about your struggle with diverted attention.

  19. 2

    What career decision do you think has had the biggest impact on your success?

    1. 1

      Ooo I love this question!

      There's a couple different ways to interpret this. For example, I could answer it in terms of what's contributed to my (small) following or what's driven revenue of my products. However, I'm going to answer this as it relates to what I think drove the most significant long-term change in my life.

      To that question, my answer is my transition from consulting to a job on the growth team at Toptal. Here's why:

      • Leaving consulting was also leaving a life behind. I had a boss that liked me and tried to convince me to stay. A well-enough paying job. And most importantly, a pretty clear trajectory. Deciding to throw that away was my first real "gamble" in life. My first roll of the dice. In pursuing that path, I also didn't realize that I was opening myself up to so many more opportunities and so many more risks that I would later take. I think that learning to take smart risks is something that you have to learn over time.
      • I got my first dose of a flexible life. It took several months, but I then understood what it was like to truly design my days. And by designing my days, I designed my months and my years. And what a lot of people don't realize is that the autonomy to design your life also gives you the motivation to improve.
      • That was also my first entry into working with technology. I started to see what could be built. It was during my time at Toptal that I learned to code. And to this day, I have never learned more about marketing and growth, than in those first 6 months on that team.
  20. 2

    Congratulations on your success.

    I'm working on my idea for a product but I have doubts due to Imposter Syndrome. Did you experience this, if so, any advice?

    1. 1

      Absolutely, I experience imposter syndrome. In fact, I think it's a healthy emotion and natural for creators, so long as it doesn't stop you from creating.

      In fact, a similar question was asked in a previous Q&A that I did with Indie Hackers, and my answer remains the same:

      I definitely get hit with Imposter Syndrome. All the time. There's a few things that have helped me keep on pushing forward:

      1. Recognizing that no one really "knows what they're doing". Imposter Syndrome is rooted in this idea that all these people know what they're doing, and we don't. I still often feel like I have no clue what way is up or down, but it's been comforting to realize that a majority of people are the same. I originally learned this when I graduated uni and felt like I was entering the "big bad world" where I would quickly find that everyone was much more experienced/smart/capable than I. I was lucky to be in a position where I was thrown into situations where I'd be working with VPs of large Fortune 500 companies. And in those meetings, I realized these people are also flying by the seat of their pants! That was really mindblowing for me. Since then, I’ve noticed it’s not just the VPs, but pretty much everyone. The key difference between people who seem like they know what they’re doing and those who don’t, is the former take some sort of action.
      2. The digital world is architected to show everyone at their best. You only share your 9s and 10s, not your 2s or 3s. So recognizing that what you see online isn't an accurate representation of people's happiness and success is reassuring.
      3. The more I do, instead of dwelling on the concept of doing, the more I find myself almost subconsciously proving to myself that maybe I'm not such an imposter. So sometimes when I find myself overwhelmed or insecure, I just remind myself: "One step in front of another. Keep moving. You'll get there."

      And finally, I'll leave you with my personal favourite quote from Steve Jobs...

      "When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world.

      Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.

      That's a very limited life.

      Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

      Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.”

  21. 2

    Hooray, good for you @stephsmith! Congrats!

  22. 2

    Hey, Steph.

    Love everything you're doing. What do you think is the best for a total rookie to dive into SEO?

    Is your book a good gateway for an absolute beginner?

    1. 1

      Hey Joshua! Thank you. 🤗

      The SEO chapter of the book is the longest and obviously, I'm biased, but IMO it's the best place for a beginner to get started. Most of the stuff on the web overcomplicates SEO and makes it difficult for someone to get started. I've had several people let me know that since reading the book, they've been able to build up their domain authority and the organic traffic they're directing to their blogs.

      If you're looking for a free resource, Ahrefs Academy is another good place to start!

      1. 1

        BTW, if you're looking for a specific thing that most "noobs" get wrong, it's understanding search intent. Without understanding intent, you can waste a lot of time and resources targeting keywords that you will never rank for!

  23. 2

    Congratulations, this is awesome!!

  24. 2

    This comment was deleted a month ago.

    1. 2

      Hi there! Thank you so much! SO glad that you bought DCR and found it valuable.

      Interesting question. I agree with pretty much everything you said. People are able to adjust the offering slightly, such that the perceived value shifts the product from book to course, allowing you to price more highly. They're also able to do this because they don't need the publisher... they have an audience already listening.

      To answer your question about James Clear, I think this depends on your goals. I'm assuming that pre-book, James was already quite wealthy. His goal, therefore, may have not been to maximize the earnings on that product. Instead, it may have actually been to further establish himself as a thought leader. When you look at it that way, mission accomplished! Now, I don't know if that was actually his goal, but the idea here is that we all have different motives as creators and going with a traditional publisher still can bring value, but perhaps just less so than in the past.

      If a publisher came to me for DCR I would likely turn it down. Even though Atomic Habits is actionable, it is more widely applicable than DCR. In the future, should I read a more widely applicable book, I would consider pairing with a publisher, likely to focus on the goal of building a brand (similar to James), instead of netting a huge payday. In fact, some books can be viewed as "loss leaders" in that they may not pay off so greatly in terms of direct ROI, but can bring you immense future opportunities.

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