How Wes Wages got 428 email subscribers in 3 days

Take Yourself Pro

Just over a week ago I came across a new site by my friend Wes Wages. Wes has been doing video production for years—producing work for conferences like The World Domination Summit and Pioneer Nation as well as working with clients like Marie Forleo. He's very good at what he does.

Despite great connections and reputation, Wes didn't have any kind of an audience. It was time to change that. Wes wanted to teach online video creation to the masses and his new site, weswages.com, was the platform he wanted to build.

This is the first video I saw that he put up on the site:

Excellent work that had me eager to see the next videos in the series.

Two issues

As much as I liked what Wes was doing, I saw two issues:

  1. The opt-in forms on the site weren't very compelling (“Subscribe to our mailing list!” is not a compelling offer).
  2. He wasn't using ConvertKit.

I got on the phone with Wes and made a few recommendations to grow his list more quickly. I said I thought it was quite possible to get to 500 email subscribers within a week.

My recommendations were to:

  1. Build an email course. How you package your content heavily affects perceived value. A short PDF ebook is perceived to be worth more than the same content in a blog post. The same way a video course delivered over email is perceived to be worth more than the same videos on a blog. By packaging up Wes' videos as an email course we could increase the perceived value and make it more likely to be shared.
  2. Ask directly for subscribers. When all your content is available on the blog it doesn't give a very strong incentive to subscribe. But if the content is going to be sent out by email it's obvious why you need the visitors' email address—to email them the videos.
  3. Have a promotion plan. The next problem is all too common. As teachers we put so much effort into creating amazing content, but then just put it out there and see what happens. If it doesn't take off we shrug and think, “Oh well, maybe the next post will do better.”That's a terrible way to grow your list. You're doing a huge disservice to your content. You put in a ton of time to make it great, now give it the promotion it deserves.

Getting started

Wes was sold and signed up for ConvertKit later that afternoon. Then we got to work.

A landing page and course

I spent 15 minutes and designed Wes a quick landing page based on the content he already had. Using the landing page builder in ConvertKit, combined with a photo from his Instagram page I thought it turned out pretty well:

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.51.00 AM

For the time spent, I thought it looked pretty good. The next step was to hook it up to an email course.

Once again I used the two videos Wes already had to create the first two emails of the course. I just used the preset schedule that ConvertKit has by default. This also just took a few minutes since I didn't have to make any decisions.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.31.05 AM

After that I handed it off to Wes to finish out the content. Over the weekend he wrote out the rest of the videos he was going to produce and finished the landing page copy.

He also used the ConvertKit WordPress plugin to get the landing page on his site so the URL was weswages.com/mastering-online-video.

Promotion

Product Hunt

First thing Monday morning we started promoting. I submitted the course page to Product Hunt.

From my observations you always want to get something on Product Hunt around 5:00 AM to 6:00 AM PST. Too much later than that and you miss out on being the top product of the day.

The ones that reach the top early on tend to stay at the top. If it's a popular product it can do alright submitted later in the morning, but I wouldn't bother submitting anything in the afternoon.

Social

The next step was to share it on Twitter. I posted a quick tweet and Wes did the same:

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 12.05.56 PM

Reddit

Not quite being sure which subreddit would be best, I wrote a simple post on /r/entrepreneur. It was well received, but didn't result in a lot of subscribers (just 12).

With some more research I'm sure Wes could find some more appropriate subreddits.

Hacker News

Wes posted the course to Hacker News, but it didn't really go anywhere. But it still brought in 3 email subscribers.

Direct outreach

The next step was to create a spreadsheet and start contacting people directly. It was simply a list of people who might share the link along with the current status. Had they been asked yet? Have they shared? And then it also included their unique tracking code.

Analytics

Tracking code? That's right, any good promotion effort needs solid numbers. If you ask a friend to share your landing page, do you know if it brought in new leads?

With most tools you just don't have that data. You can track by referrer, but if two people share it on Twitter their metrics will be combined (or show up as direct, which is useless).

With ConvertKit you can add ?ref=CampaignName to the end of any page that has a ConvertKit form on it. So each time you ask someone to share or submit to a new source you can get exact visits, subscribers, and conversion rate.

Here are the combined stats for all traffic to the landing page. Not a bad conversion rate!

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 1.14.49 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 1.14.40 PM

Stats broken down by campaign. As a quick explanation:

  • ph = Product Hunt
  • wesfb = Wes' Facebook Page
  • nb = Nathan Barry (my tweets)
  • r = Reddit

With these numbers you can see that Product Hunt drove the majority of the subscribers, but had one of the lower conversion rates (17%). Wes' posts had the highest conversion rate at 38% of visitors.

Timeline

Wes has had a ConvertKit account for a week now, but all the subscribers came in just three days of promotion.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 1.21.57 PM

Here's the full timeline.

  • Wednesday. Wes created his ConvertKit account.
  • Thursday. Set up landing page and course.
  • Friday through Sunday. Refining landing page copy, shooting videos.
  • Monday. Started promotion, submitted to Product Hunt, shared on social media. 184 subscribers.
  • Tuesday. Posted to Reddit, asked friends to share, continued to get subscribers from Product Hunt. 370 subscribers.
  • Wednesday. Posted to Hacker News. More tweets and social shares. 428 subscribers.

Results

A week after getting started Wes has an audience. He didn't quite hit the goal of 500 subscribers, but he's very close. As he keeps putting out great content I expect his audience to grow very quickly.

It can take months for people to get the same results that Wes got in under a week. The key ingredients are:

  1. Great content,
  2. a solid plan,
  3. and the right tool.

If you want to grow your audience quickly you should sign up for ConvertKit. We'll take good care of you.

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