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Made $121,326 since launching my book last July, 63% of it after launch month. AMA about long tail infoproducts!

Hey IH! I launched the Coding Career Handbook almost a year ago and since then have been focusing on long tail revenue, while keeping my day job as a Part Time Creator.

Since launch (day, month, cheatsheet) I've been consistently hitting around $1-2k a week in infoproduct revenue, with a high price point ($59 for just the book, $249 for book+community+behind the scenes), and no sales apart from Black Friday.

IH Friends like @RandallKanna have consistently encouraged me to share my "long tail" secrets, but honestly I haven't really had the time to gather my thoughts so I'm hoping for good questions to spur thoughts!

Had a good week so I'll admit this post is somewhat of a flex 😅

image

Off the top of my head these things helped extend the tail:

  • Run a Twitter. This is definitely extra work and I'm not sure how much sales it helps to drive, but having a dedicated book twitter helps me stay current in people's minds without making my main account too spammy. Being tagged on feedback is great for social proof.
  • Run a podcast. Randall and I ran a podcast that helped extend the reach of content we already worked on.
  • Run a paid community. My middle tier is a high signal/low noise Discord + Circle community focused on tech careers and part time creation. Monthly calls and meetups and daily chats helps drive word of mouth.
  • Blog. 1/4 of my book was prior blogposts that did well, so appending a shoutout to the top of the post helps drive traffic for people who want to read more.
  • Do podcasts and talks. I do at least a talk a month and it turns out podcasters like inviting book authors to chat - the caveat here is that I've had zero luck cold pitching, the talks/podcasts I did were all already warm/inbound.

I spent about 600 hours writing the book. I think creators should spend equal time marketing as they do creating. So I probably still have a ways to go, not inclusive of a planned v2 of the book this year.

Let me know what other questions you have!

  1. 4

    A well-deserved flex -- big congrats on the success.

    Happy to see you mention spending a significant amount of time on the creation. So many people in this space seem obsessed with churning stuff out more quickly, whereas I always feel that it's more important to spend whatever time is required to make the end result most valuable.

    Slightly envious of your pricing ;). I really need to look into creating some sort of bundle...

    1. 1

      thank you Rob! yeah if there's one thing I got out of this experience, I realized that most publishers are not setup to serve multi-SKU creators well - they only sell books, when really you can add so much value with a community and some courses.

      and yes thats what rubs me the wrong way about Daniel's "pump it out in 2 weeks" thing. Its of course great to make your first dollar on the internet, but no customer wants to hear how little you worked for their dollar.

      re: bundling... happy to chat if youd like to discuss ideas: swyx at swyx.io

  2. 3

    It’s the book and the community combined. You’re offering more than a book, you’re offering a sense of community and association. You’re giving devs a voice with their peers. It’s glorious. And I’m so happy for you.

    1. 1

      thank you Tessa and thank you for joining!!! 🙇‍♂️ i certainly don't know what i'm doing yet but just trying my best as a part time community manager. appreciate any advice you can offer!

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        I’ll be more strategic and look around when I’m engaging and share any tips I find! 🙌

    2. 1

      This. Community is so essential. 100%

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    Congratulations, that's awesome! What is your main distribution channel for the long-tails post "launch" month growth? Is it mainly Twitter? Does your community help with the ongoing growth?

    1. 2

      thank you! i mean i listed a few channels above, i dont check my stats so I don't know what the main contributor was, but I generally subscribe to the idea that people have to hear about you at least 3-4 times before they decide to buy your stuff so thats why I don't really bother. Just put out as much as I can given the time limits that i have, and let the cards fall where they may.

  4. 2

    Great advice @swyx. I’m at the start of a similar journey now. I decided not to do an ebook but make it a “live book” instead. Time will tell on that one..

    what advice would you give around starting and growing a community?

    I’ve chosen to screen everyone before admission. Mostly to eliminate the potential noise from marketers and grow-hackers.

    I’d appreciate your perspective on my approach given your success:
    https://labs.zerotogrowthbook.com/

    Here’s the pre-launch page on PH which goes live tomorrow: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/zero-to-growth-live-book-community

    1. 1

      i think screening is pretty smart! i chose not to screen bc it would take more work than i could afford but in an ideal world i would interview everyone as they come in so I can engage them better.

      starting and growing.. show up every day, propose relevant topics, respond promptly when someone engages, do it for a year. I'm almost at that point where the community is somewhat self sustaining

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        Good point - I might have made a rod for my own back! I really appreciate the advice.. showing up, leading with the culture and attitude I want to inspire and encourage in the community. You're totally right. Thank you!

        Congrats on getting this to where you have, your success is well earned.

        One question, if you did it again - another book, another topic maybe. What would you do differently ?

        1. 1

          thank you :)

          if i did it again, i'd make a short book - like, 100 pages, price it at $9, art design the heck out of it because everyone judges a book by its cover and illustrations. i made the mistake of aiming for the high end when i did my pricing and product.

          when you do a book, you can either go for money or go for reach. i naively went for money. better play is to make first book for reach, so that everyone is HUGELY IMPRESSED, then second book for money.

          btw, if you want to join our creators community, we do regular chats like this in our private discord: https://www.learninpublic.org/?c=PPP30#buy

          1. 1

            Hey @swyx is the community only for developers or the private discord is a separate community for more general creators?

            I've been reflect on what you said here since you posted it yesterday. Asking myself am I going for money or reach.. I'm not sure I made a clear enough choice, and now you've left me wondering if I could have positioned it better to start with. I'm feeling more self-reflective after an uneventful PH launch today I think :/

            The LIVE book is getting big in scope already and aiming to cover a lot of ground. So I think you're right to frame it this way. I should consider splitting it up and do the first book (or volume/section) more for reach.

            Reach and free don't necessarily go together for me though - being free can mean less people read it and value it less too.

            hmmm.. This could make a lot of sense actually... write a smaller book on getting started the righy way with an online store - researching/validating markets + products plus getting yourself organised and laying the foundation for growth. I need to think this over more.

            Anyway, thanks for prompting this reflection :)

            BTW I read the term 'mastermind' on the learningpublic.org site, it sounded familiar and thanks to you linking to Wikipedia I remembered reading it in Napolean Hill's book. I like the term - maybe enough to use it instead of "cohort" :P

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    How to grow my twitter audience? What are strategies or tips would you give to 0 follower account.

    1. 1

      The cold start problem is tough! If you want to see how i started out, search for my tweets from 2017.

      My advice: Pick Up What Others Put Down: https://www.swyx.io/puwtpd/ I also have a chapter on Developer Twitter if you want to build a dev audience.

  6. 2

    This is awesome! Congrats -- How do you identify your niche and gauge their interest?

    1. 1

      thank you emma :)

      blog a lot and see what works 🤷‍♂️ a blogpost = mvp of a book

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    Congrats for the success.

    Just one question, how did you grow your Coding_Career twitter? did you have a large audience already in your regular twitter that you managed to engage in your new twitter account, or how did you do it?

    1. 1

      i think i had about 15 or 16k followers when i launched that twitter, its middle sized? idk.

      for Coding_Career i think just tweeting focused threads like this one https://twitter.com/Coding_Career/status/1395415855303852033 worked. I have more dev twitter advice in the book :)

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    How did you finally settle on those price points?

    1. 2

      hey! yeah so pricing is a weird one - I approached it as a shock therapy exercise since I didn't need the money. You know how @patio11 and @csallen are always telling people to raise prices? i took that as far as I thought I could for a book:

      • Started with presale of $19 and then randomly promised that my presale price was 50% off launch...
      • That means my launch price was $39... and i wanted to make the launch look like a good deal so I said it was 30% off the final price...
      • That made the final book $59 and I had to put in the work to make sure it was worth that...
      • Then I followed @jhooks' advice to do 1x 2x 5x three tier pricing.
      • Wanted to make the middle tier a nobrainer so I put the community at $40 which is super cheap compared to the book
      • then threw all the value add I could think of into the 5x. goal here was to try to sell a 3-figure thing to internet strangers for the first time... job accomplished.

      Higher prices can always be discounted in future... much harder to raise them. I also have something worth more to offer, when for example, i do a talk at a conference and they want to raffle off something.

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          thank you haha. i know pricing is a pain point for a lot of people so i tried to give full detail.

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    1. Do you have a newsletter?
    2. I want to launch a book without building a community. I mean, I'm building an audience (twitter/newsletter/blog) but not a community (like a telegram channel or whatever). Would it be reasonable to make a separate twitter for a ...book?

    I want to write a book about UI/UX. Kind of refactoringUI but a bit different.

    1. 1
      1. I have a personal newsletter, but decided not to do a separate book newsletter. I probably lost a lot of potential sales that way (bc its a way to extend the relationship if people are noncommittal), but it felt like extra work that I wouldn't enjoy. I'm more of a twitter native.
      2. I dont actually think most people should make a separate twitter. I only do it so as to shard my content because it is important that my main twitter not become too self promotional. If you are just starting out building an audience, just build one, not two.
  10. 1

    Thanks for sharing! I love that you're so honest about not sure which channel contributes to the success and that you don't really track in detail.

    I feel like so many people are looking for the success formula but the truth is ... every entrepreneur has to navigate through unknowns and keep trying new things. Often success comes from a combination of things over a long period of time, so it is really hard to pin down to one formula.

    The secret sauce I can see here is just to keep creating value and being helpful :) Such an inspiration!!

  11. 1

    Amazing and super glad to see you've been successful with this. Super motivating, now I have a bunch of other links to read...

    I still don't know how you manage to have so much time to do all this!

      1. 1

        Finally got to sign up! :)

        Looking forward to checking it all out. If I want to upgrade at a later time (I did the mid-tier), can I?

        1. 1

          hey just saw this.. yup! glad you joined us!

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