👤 Getting 1K Subs

As a non-technical tech founder, I’ve always had to rely on a different skill set for starting a software company. I don’t have a huge following, so unlike content creators on YouTube, I lack any extensive reach when it comes to my entrepreneurial projects.

Whether you know how to code or not, perhaps you are in a similar situation, and so I want to share my methodology for starting a business (specifically software products, but it could be applied to any industry).

The premise is simple: start marketing prior to, or at the same time as, building the product.

This is the process I used when launching LearnDash, a company that I grew to over 42,000 paying users before selling. I am starting GapScout using the exact same process as I did a decade ago.

For years, I’ve been telling people to start marketing at the same time as building their product. I don’t understand why this advice doesn’t stick. Maybe because too many people have shared this tip, so it feels dated? Let me assure you that it works.

In 2012, I did this and built my email list to 1,000+ people before launch, a process that took about 10 months. It’s a modest email list size, but it helped me to be profitable and gain traction from day one.

It has been 10 months since I started a blog for GapScout (you guessed it: doing marketing at the same time as build, which is just a few weeks away from being done). And guess what? After 10 months of blogging, over 1,000 subscribers.

Here’s the thing: I’m not doing anything other than blogging, and the posts themselves are simply helpful content. Just do some really basic research on themes you want to rank for in your industry and start writing blog posts around these themes. Don't try to game the system or worry too much about how Google will rank your content. Just write blog posts:

On each page of your website, have a sign-up form/call to action for when you launch. This is obviously how people sign-up to your list. That’s all.

This methodology works for many reasons, but mainly:

  1. You get early traction. You can run special deals to start recouping costs and making money. Treat these early adopters well and they'll help spread the word.

  2. New customers will come automatically. This is the most important part. My site now gets thousands of visitors per month from my blog posts. It feeds itself now, in addition to any other marketing endeavors I add (for example, YouTube).

After launch, make sure you communicate often to keep the buzz alive about your product. Announce ever update that you do, share your excitement, and always explain how your product improves their life. Constantly emphasize this. Never stop. People need to be reminded all the time. Oh, and issue refunds promptly if that ever comes up. The easiest way to piss people off is to hijack their money.

Most of all, have fun. Don't overthink the process, enjoy the flow of everything, and be flexible as you learn along the way. Listen to customers, and they'll give you their loyalty. Don't hide behind email – use chat. Be accessible. People like to do business with people, not brands.


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