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Monetising Marketing Examples: Thinking out loud. Advice very welcome.

Marketing Examples is a gallery of real world marketing examples. Since it launched eight months ago I've written ~50 case studies and grown the email list and Twitter to 12.9k and 24k respectively.

Currently I make around $2500 / mo from sponsors. But I want to start offering a “product” myself. Watching an email list grow is nice, but seeing a Stripe account grow is more motivating.

Option 1 — Marketing Examples Premium

A cross between MakerPad and Know Your Team but for marketers:

  • Premium articles
  • Short guides (e.g. cold email, PPC guide, landing page ...)
  • Private community of marketers
  • Weekly calls / AMA's
  • Book summaries / Article archive ...

My thinking was having two price points, “Individuals” at $30 / mo and businesses at $200 / mo. Businesses get company wide logins and option to post jobs.

Are people willing to pay? Well, the CMO of Privvy runs a $30 /mo Patreon with around 500 members atm. Started fairly recently.

Option 2 — Marketing as a service.

Companies pay 1k — 5k / mo and we manage their content marketing: Write the articles + promote them. I use my site to pull in clients. I get quite a few emails. Just too busy to set up the infrastructure.

Inspired by Dani Mancini taking Scribly to 30k MRR.

Option 3 — Course

Refactoring UI style. My reservation is it makes me the business. GitHub can't acquire Wes Bos. Without him it stops.

Advice

Below are some questions I'm trying to answer myself. Advice very welcome:

  • Which option works best? Premium membership motivates me the most.

  • Something I read a lot is “Offer more value. Charge a higher price”. How could I do that. How would you price the premium tier? What could I offer to businesses?

  • What are the next steps? If I went with premium, I think emailing my audience and asking what they actually want is the next step.

  • What other startups are doing “Premium / Community for XYZ ...”?

  1. 6

    Content sites are tough. Usually the vast minority of subscribers aren't directly monetizable. I agree with @louisswiss about surveying your subscribers and talking to them one-on-one via Mom Test techniques as well. I wonder how many are founders, aspiring founders, full-time marketers, bystanders, etc.? And what problems are they solving by reading? Could be anything from mere curiosity or boredom, to growing their businesses.

    Personally, my favorite business model for content is still the Key Values model. It's free for readers, but instead of slapping ads on her content, the content itself is the ad. This puts everything into alignment, similar to Google ads. They match reader intent. Otherwise, readers are annoyed by your ads and so are you as the creator, because they're a distraction from your primary content rather than being your primary content. If I had to monetize IH, I would almost certainly start by exploring how to make this business model possible.

    I also like the course model. It's just taking educational content and wrapping it up into a more useful package that makes a promise to deliver tangible value to a more specific audience. I don't believe it's universally true that education means you have to build the business around your personal brand like Wes Bos et al (although that helps). There are plenty of scalable educational businesses around. You just have to start with scale in mind, building your company's brand instead of your own, creating repeatable processes, hiring and delegating, etc.

    I'm not a huge fan of option #1, which I call the "kitchen sink" model. It can work, of course. It's just relatively messy and unfocused, as you're doing so many different things, and it ends up being tough to identify what the real value is. Also, the more you're doing, the harder it is to scale, and the harder it is to focus and do any particular thing super well. It's even tough to consolidate, as there will always be some people who like each thing you're doing and complain if it goes away.

    1. 2

      Love your point about applying the Key Values model. If this ended up looking like a "pay us to review your app UI" feature, I think it'd be a really worthwhile investment for companies:

      1. Have a pro look at your onboarding (or other flows)
      2. Get exposure to a large audience, SEO juice, etc.

      I think it's important to make sure you clarify which ones are paid for in that case and be sure to apply a quality filter, but that's something I bet @harrydry could figure out!

      1. 2

        Very interesting idea. Cheers Matt.

        I think there's something here. But it gets a bit blurry. Would I be comfortable sending out a weekly case study for a paid product?! Got to work out how to maintain quality at all costs.

        Perhaps a series of “how I'd grow this” case studies might double nicely.

        1. 1

          I like that idea a lot, and I think there are probably a lot of other case studies types you could eventually move too (less is more at first, of course).

          Even if it is paid, I think I'd still be interested to read the case studies, especially if it's a young company making common mistakes that I'm probably also making.

          1. 1

            Very helpful. Cheers Matt!

    2. 2

      Thank you for such detail. Priority 1 is talking to my audience bout this. Agreed.

      • How could the Key Values approach to content work with either Indie Hackers or my own site? It seems specific to Lynne's product.

      • Option 1 is essentially a stripped back MakerPad for marketers. Other than the lack of focus what don't you like? It could be very stripped back.

    3. 2

      Very insightful. Key Values model is rock solid and probably makes tons of money for the founder.

      What do you think about Makerpad company spotlight package? https://www.makerpad.co/spotlight

      Quite related to Key Values but I would like to hear your opinion.

      1. 1

        I'm a big fan. It's companies that have the money. This spotlight gets Makerpad to companies.

  2. 4

    Option 4 - Start with Patreon

    Keep the content free and ask your subscribers to support Marketing Examples with a small monthly subscription ($9/month).

    You have a list of 13k. With a 2,5% conversion rate that's 325x9=3k/month.

    You can do it tomorrow. And if it works you can gradually go towards option 1.

    1. 3

      Though with Patreon, you would need to offer something extra to your patrons, else they won't give you the money, and that would lead us back to option 1.

      I don't know of any Patreon creators, who have a 2,5% conversion rate, do you know any?
      For example:

      • Kurzgesagt: 11 million subscribers, 13000 patrons, 0,1% conversion rate
      • Me (but Donations): 5000 installs, 10 donations, 0,2% conversion rate

      Don't think donations/patreons is a sustainable model (without anything substantial to offer as an extra)

      1. 2

        I'm not a Patreon expert but I think it all depends on the value you can provide. This is all hypothetical of course.

        https://blog.patreon.com/figuring-out-how-much-you-might-make-on-patreon

    2. 2

      Hmm. Interesting suggestion. Maybe you're right.

      Intuitively I disagree. Because it anchors perception of what I'm creating downwards. Definitely an element of my ego talking. But I think there's some truth to it. I'm not sure down the road I want to be encouraging $9 / mo as “my price”.

      But at the same time I could be here in 4 months and done nothing and then you're definitely right.

      1. 1

        Just a data point.

        I love your content, I think it's great, and I read almost all of them in full.

        But $30/mo would probably be too high a price point for me, because as a solopreneur, I'm currently just in "passive learning" - well, lets be honest, "procrastinating mode". Once I get in active development mode I may change my mind.

        So currently, I'd definitely consider throwing you a few dollars a month over Patreon, especially if it meant not being able to access the same content otherwise, but not a hard $30/month.

        1. 1

          Cheers Chad. Firstly, thanks a lot for reading the content. I'm glad you find it useful. And it's a very helpful point you make. I'll definitely be talking to a lot of subscribers to assess the mood.

          I agree that $30 / mo would exclude a lot of people as we stand now.

          The counterpoint is that the purpose of a higher price results is to exclude. Only people really living and breathing it will pay. Then the community has might have more value.

    3. 1

      It's worth trying. Doesn't cost anything to setup

  3. 4

    Some thoughts.

    I would start with option 2, and see how you like it. It's something you can start very quickly (and respond to demand). If you love it, scale it. If you hate it, move to a product.

    Running a marketing service will also give you a lot more credibility and experience. You'll not only be a source of content on the subject, you'll be an actual expert that can prove this stuff works and will make businesses money.

    As far as options 1 and 3, option 1 sounds like a lot more work. With a course (option 3), you can technically produce a finished product and demonstrate actual value (rather than the perceived value of a community).

    But, I think it ultimately comes down to how you want to spend your time. If you want to be mingling with community members all day, do the community. You can always do both, as well.

    1. 2

      Cheers Jordan. Interesting thoughts.

      • I'd enjoy “mingling” much more than writing content marketing for companies.
      • I agree Option 1 is a lot more work. Something which perhaps looks fun now. But a year down the line I bet Steve Schoger is somewhat grateful he sold once and got out.
      • It's also more recurring than a course though. And keeps the value in the business not with me. Which is something I'm keen to do.
      1. 1

        Option 1 is a content treadmill. You'll always be pressured to create stuff even if you don't have any inspiration or motivation that week. If you can keep it up then great! But I could definitely see the potential for burnout.

        Could you elaborate on keeping value "in the business"? Are you trying to ensure that marketing examples is something that could be sold to someone else? Your twitter account and website link back to you but there's no reason why content couldn't be provided by someone else if it was high quality. Wes Bos' brand is his name so it would be hard to pass that on to someone else but you've always used marketing examples as the brand name.

        1. 1

          Very much agree with your “content treadmill” point. It's a good one. When does it all end. There's no finish line... ?

          Yeah, essentially, let's say in two years I want to become an astronaut I don't want all the value of Marketing Examples to leave with me. I want to keep me somewhat dissociated.

  4. 3

    My (suboptimal) suggestion would be to have a think about how you would most enjoy spending your days, and then take that path.

    Each of the paths has a different core activity associated with it, so beyond making the obvious biz model bet, you're also commiting yourself to spend a certain percentage of each day on that activity. E.g. for me personally, I don't enjoy community-building, so I wouldn't pick an idea which depended on that activity, no matter how promising it looked.

    Some of your options involve hiring, customer support, dealing with problems, sales, list-building, product-building, etc etc. Surely some would make you more happy and others less happy?

    Just mentioning it since sometimes we end up making a choice which looks good on paper, forgetting that we've actually got to do the work, and then we find ourselves feeling unhappily trapped six months later.

    1. 2

      Cheers Rob. Really really solid advice. Don't think anyone else mentioned this. Thank you.

      And interesting book btw. Something I might purchase giving the fact I've got to talk to my customers more.

  5. 2

    Hey Harry, I subscribed early on and have kept subscribed. I like your content because it's accessible and actionable. For me with my own side project, I don't have the expertise to review my own landing page (I'm a developer foremost). On IH, there's usually a weekly thread to review your landing page. Having an affordable option to get that professionally done with actionable insights would be a boon for a solofounder like me. Just my thought!

    1. 1

      Firstly, thanks for the support. I'm delighted you find value in it.

      I also really like your suggestion. It's a sort of productised service. I've looked at soo many landing pages whilst doing Marketing Examples and the same stuff comes up over and over again ...

      It's also something that I could possibly scale and hire people and coach them as well. Just in terms of price points how much would you be willing to pay / do you think others willing to pay?

      Let's say you get a video response coupled with a Google Doc with specific actionable items we recommend changing and also some copywriting suggestions?

      1. 1

        Hey. I posted about this landing page feedback service a while ago. My thoughts were similar to yours- productize to make it standard, same stuff comes up over and over so you can develop your own standard framework(s) to review, and outsource as soon as possible so that you can scale.

        The missing piece for me (and wasn’t entirely serious about pursuing it but intrigued if there was a market) was existing audience + credibility. Which you have plenty of.

        Depending on who you target, it could be a lower priced front end offer to then sell consulting services.

        Anyway, there are some comments on the thread that might be useful to you https://www.indiehackers.com/post/landing-page-feedback-service-would-you-pay-6d04c6482c

  6. 2

    Option 1 all the way and you can always add 3 on at some point if you ever have the time. Or be creating content along the way that you can end up turning into a course at a later point.

    Creating content (2) you'll end up doing a lot of chasing clients and often doing work you probably won't end up really enjoying.

    1. 1

      I agree option 2 I see being a slog. My hope would be that I could hire writers and let it run in the background. Because writing the articles is something I don't want to do.

      Why I included it is purely the numbers. It's $3000 / mo (not all profit) from one client. Whereas I need around 100 premium users to make that up.

      I wonder how could I do “Option 1” but sell to companies with big money in a way that Lynne from Key Values does. High value deals.

  7. 2

    Harry, I'd love to be helpful here.

    To work out what your best monetisation options are though, I think you need to start a little bit further back.

    On a very high level...

    • who is currently getting value from your site?
    • what value are they getting? (JTBD, how is their life improved?)
    • what are other problems these people have? What else do they currently spend money/time on?
    1. 1

      Good questions:

      • 65% marketers. 20% founders. 15% misc

      • Some people implement the tips directly. A lot of people like to read because they (quite rightly) think it's helps them become a better marketer. Some people go to the site for marketing inspiration ...

      • Well there's the marketer as the individual. And then there's the marketer as part of the company.

      Individuals want to stand out, they want to get promoted, they want to do their job better. They might spend time / money watching YouTube + buying courses. Companies spend money on marketing software, SEO tools, email tools etc ... Their problem is growing their revenue.

  8. 1

    Like if you wrote a short book on how to write copy for Shopify sites, and sold it on gumroad, that would probably go like gangbusters.

    Also, @csallen should have you on the podcast! Would love to hear your story

  9. 1

    Hey Harry 👋 How is monitization going? I was literally just looking at your marketing examples site and using it for writing my own marketing copy. And I thought, this is such good content, how is he making money?

    Here's my thoughts on how you could monitize it. Some of the responses on this thread are helpful, but I think off point. It may be because you could be asking a better question. Instead of looking at options in this way (email/course/agency/community) which are very platform specific. You should be asking what is the market that will buy this content. And I believe your content is very much worth buying. Don't be led astray by the platform you select. Email subscription doesn't need to be free.

    I think people are willing to pay for content like yours, and will do so, so long as it fulfills a need for them. If you look at other content that people pay for, it's very much based around a need. For example, the Hustle has a newsletter called Trends that's like 300 dollars a year. Pretty hefty. But they have a target market that has money and they sell them on something that they need - large amounts of research on emerging markets so that the reader can launch a business and reap the benefits. Also, the alternative becomes research, which is expensive. The alternative isn't another free newsletter. What's marketing examples' alternative that people pay for?

    A potential problem with your content is that people don't need marketing examples consistently. They need it when they want to write better marketing content. Which could be rare. So selling to entrepreneurs/indiehackers may be tricky. Unless you can sell them on the ongoing benefits of writing good copy. Like everyday life situations for example how to write better feature releases, job listings, investor updates, slide decks etc. This could be a sort of "how important is copy in your everyday situation" either micro consulting or selling a book.

    But again, selling to indiehackers is maybe not a good market because they have no money. Although selling to aspiring indiehackers could be worth it.

    Selling to marketers how to write better marketing copy could be a better approach. As these people are consistently looking for ways to improve their marketing content. So this may be a better way to sell educational content.

    Take more of a needs based approach would be my suggestion.

    As well as scale there is also compounding. So you started this blog that you can now use a a launching pad for something else. How can this something else lead to the next thing? Maybe it's a series of books.

    1. 1

      really helpful - thank you for the detail. appreciated :)

  10. 1

    I think you gotta go with your heart and what makes you excited. For any of these options to be successful seems like at least 3-4 months of really hard work - gotta have the excitement and passion.

    Option 3 seems like it would be the fastest to significant revenue with the least work.

    Option 2 sounds tough because it's outside your wheelhouse, it seems to require skills like outsourcing, sales, etc where there might be a learning curve. (not that you couldn't learn it)

    Option 1 seems like the one you're most excited about.

    1. 1

      Cheers man. Simple points well made. Thank you

  11. 1

    I would argue that MakerPad's success stems from its exclusivity. If I want to use no-code tools effectively so I can start my business, I need to buy MakerPad's product (pro plan).

    Do you think you're able to do the same thing for marketing? Seems much more difficult.

    You may not like it, but the best option is probably a Refactoring UI style course. You have clout with Marketing Examples, you can convert that into the "best marketing guide for bootstrappers", and charge similar prices.

    Best of luck, I am a huge fan of your content :)

    1. 1

      Interesting point re MakerPad. Thanks Kevin.

      Right now it's an unknown.

      And I think your “best option” is definitely the safest bet. I've copied a lot of Steve and Adam's formula getting to the point I'm in. Makes sense to finish the job ...

      My reservation is I like the quality of what I'm putting out to be damn good and a course which I'm happy with could is a long way away. I'd guess 4 months of solid work on it ...

  12. 1

    I would be interested in option 1. However I would price it a little lower (obviously biased).

    1. 1

      Cheers for the feedback Skip. Really appreciate it. I'm going to talk to subscribers on mass and assess the mood.

      It's a balance between getting the price right (so that people pay) but also having it high enough that people are actually invested.

      For example if the price was $10 / mo I'm not sure the price is high enough for people to actually invest into it.

      1. 1

        That does make sense. And I would probably still pay it.

        I would especially love a community/forum for members.

  13. 1

    You've given away a ton of value for free and most people would like to pay you back some way.
    Glen Allsop from ViperChill gave away incredible insights for years and finally launched the SEOBlueprint.com course and no one batted an eye to buy the $599 course. He can still utilize his list for further products.

    To sum it up, a highly detailed and valuable marketing course for a $XXX amount of money can be a good start. It will give you the cash flow now and the time to figure out other product/service ideas.

    1. 2

      Firstly, thank you sir. Really appreciate it.

      And interesting idea. I'm actually in Glen's SEO Blueprint group and definately learnt from the way he launched it. Did you find his course valuable?

      1. 1

        I use Glen's course as a reference mostly, and love getting the updates whenever he discovers something new.

        1. 1

          Same! The fb group ads value. Although I don't think Facebook is the best place for a thriving community.

  14. 1

    loved your product & various times i have interacted with your twitter account now comes to premium part keep content free but upsell the premium mail list which have some exclusive content & kind of workflows, so that they can integrate in their business directly, kind of templates

    THANKS
    Twitter - Raunk978

    1. 1

      Appreciate the feedback thank you. A lot of the content will remain free. Will think about the template ideas. Cheers

  15. 1

    What not building a saas yourself? Working on marketing examples taught you how companies grow and scale their businesses. There must be something they are struggling with. Identify it, create a solution and start selling it. You've got the sales channel ready. Would more then happy to help with the product.

    1. 1

      Cheers Konrad - It's an interesting suggestion and something I nearly added as the 4th option. I think there's definitely something there.

      My reservation is about me playing to my strengths. I'm a good writer. I'm an average developer. Appreciate the offer of help. If any ideas come your way please let me know :)

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