How to launch to 3,000 users when starting from 0

How to launch to 3,000 users when starting from 0
Published on
October 2, 2021

Hey, remember all those posts you might've read about:

  • How it's not about "build it and they will come"
  • How better distribution can beat a better product
  • Founders who launch, but realise they spent 100% on product, and 0% on making people know they exist?

Well here's the thing: I might've found something for you. I found it for my Notion Website Builder business, at least.

  • It's repeatable
  • Works perfectly fine if you start from literal 0
  • It will get you some Twitter followers as well. I'm pretty sure you can do it enough times so that you can get to a 'foundation' of 500-1,000 followers.After a foundation of followers, you're pretty much ready to 'go viral' at any moment. That doesn't mean you will, but you're protected from posting something might've been viral, but you only had 18 followers so nobody saw it.
  • If you ever go down the SEO route, it will make your domain stronger.

It will require some grind, but here's why it's okay: you'll see direct feedback pretty fast. And the best part? If it doesn't work, just do it until you're nauseous.

β€”β€”β€”

I'm not a marketer. I'm a founder (probably just like you?) who's got tired of spending 5 or 6 digits into stuff that didn't get any users.

'Product-driven growth' is a story that didn't work for me. It works naturally for some, but so far I didn't get it.

So I was back at square 1.

The short version: how to do it

  1. Think of some groups of people that would buy what you do
  2. Make an Airtable list of resources for them (maybe validate it first?)
  3. Post a tweet where you give it away for free, if people comment

β€”β€”β€”

That's it.

"Oh no, another eBook tactic" I can hear some people say.

Stick with me though β€” if you're one of those people who don't want to do anything that remotely makes them feel like 'a marketer', I suppose this isn't for you and you haven't had enough scars on the field. Come back to this when you get to my position (spending some nice money on stuff no one uses).

For the rest of you, hi. I'll take it step by step.

Step 1: find the audiences

In my case, we're making a Notion website builder, as I mentioned above. That means we're turning people's Notion pages into websites.

What's a prime audience? Notion users β€” checked βœ….

Who else needs a website? Well... people who are interested in personal websites. Checked βœ….

But that's surface level - what about something deeper? Well, there's this growing wave of no-code (βœ…) which we can ride since... you don't need to know how to code. But it goes deeper.

Let me have a look at those who went this path before: Squarespace, Wix, Weebly.

What's really up there in their navbar dropdowns? That must bring them the most money, right? If not, somebody had to really think hard about what to put on #1, as opposed to #8 in that list (really undervalued trick that I don't see many talk about β€” the order of links in a list)

Oh, of course: blogs (βœ…), personal websites (βœ…), portfolios (βœ…), etc.

But that might be too broad β€” who knows. Who's using Notion and needs a website for a specific thing? Ah, I know: freelancers (βœ…).

Or let's say as well: info product websites. Pretty niche, but idk, so I'd love to be surprised. If you've got an info product, you might wanna sell it beyond just the Gumroad page, right?

β€”β€”β€”

So that's it, those are my audiences. People that might one day buy what my product solves.

Step 2: Make an Airtable list

I kinda cheated. I specifically said 'Airtable list' because I pretty much just didn't want to say 'make something valuable'.

I hate when I see that. Make something valuable - thanks cpt. obvious. That's like saying 'Wanna be rich? Just stop being poor'.

But if we go from specific to wide, it might make sense. So here's what we're trying to do:

Save those people time. Be a museum curator, not the artist. Put together something that is either valuable, or saves them hours of time. Anything that will attract those people, but something that will also actually help them β€” you don't wanna sell empty shit.

I'll speak about what we've done:

  • 200+ No-Code Resources: articles, podcasts, communities, etc
  • 50+ No-Code App Building apps: all the options out there worth considering. From Webflow, to the very niche stuff you might've not heard about.
  • 50+ Successful info products, and why they were successful
  • 50+ Personal website for inspiration

See where I'm going?

I needed all these things. I needed 50+ beautiful or functional personal websites, when I was doing mine. Why? Inspiration, comparison, etc etc

At this step, of course you can go the extra mile and actually make a course, or a mini-product. You'll decide the ultimate balance that all of us have to measure all the time: what I can do VS how useful I estimate it is VS how long it takes me to do that.

I suggested Airtable, but it could be anything. Airtable looks nice, but even Google Docs work. Notion, Coda β€” whatever website you've got where you wanna put your material.

It might even be a video. It could literally be a YouTube video

Step 2.1: Wall it

I don't know if you know this, but titles make up 50% of the piece of content. YouTube, blogs, etc.

That's why clickbait is a thing β€” because it's 50% of the video. The other 50% is the hours editors spend on making the thing.

In our case, the 50% will be the presenting tweet (which I'll cover in step 2.2).

In step 2.1, I'll take this chance to show you the 'stack' we use, but once again you can go your own way:

  • The content is usually an Airtable/Notion where we put up the resource.
  • We need to ask people for their email, so we put it behind Gumroad (tag @shl and @dvassallo please please please β€” I'd die to have either retweet/share this)
  • I embed this on our website, in a useful page like this one
  • I've also created a "Resources" page where I put up all the free stuff we've made. Some people referred to this as a free-candy store, so that worked well

On Gumroad, so far it looks like this:

We pretty much made 12 lists before starting, sequenced them, and we'll probably make more by the time we finish with those, if we still need a bigger list

"Wtf?? $19??? Yo?!?!?! I thought this is free?!?!?!?!?"

Yes, it is.

I'll get to that in a sec.

On the product page, I make a nice screenshot (doesn't matter that much, as this won't be circulated on Gumroad itself, I think), and I set the price to $19.

In the 'redirect URL', I put there the link to the Airtable.

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Make sure you put the correct link, meaning the 'public, share-able URL. To do that, click share:

Then click the right-hand-side option "Base", then do your thing in 'Shared base link' the section: click on 'create a shared link to the whole base' β†’ "private read-only...."

Copy that link the pink box. To test that it works, open up incognito mode β€” if you can see it, so can other people.

Put that link into Gumroad's 'Redirect URL' and you're good to go.

Then I embedded the Gumroad embeddable on our website, but you can simply send people to Gumroad and that'll work just fine.

β€”β€”

Don't bother about 'piracy' β€” who gives a shit. Some might share the URL without giving you the email address. Some will even try to sell for $$$ what you've worked for.

That's fine. That's not our mission, and it detracts us from what we're doing.

β€”β€”β€”

Now, why $19?

It's my personal preference, mainly, but also opening yourself up to serendipity.

Here's the thing: Gumroad, for some strange reason, doesn't allow you to set the price to $0. They used to, but not anymore. You can only have "$0+".

What that means is: people have an option to input what they consider a fair price. So they have to go through the cognitive load of typing in '$0'

So if you're getting something for free, you, as a user, gotta put in $0. That feels cheap β€” the list feels cheap and I feel cheap fro getting it for free, when I could 'pay to support the creator, blah blah'.

Personal opinion? Fuck that.

I've just added $19 and decided to give everybody a 100% coupon code β€” this way, it feels (as a user) like you're getting a deal. Like you're getting early access for free, when others might have to pay. And who knows?

That's what I call a jiu-jitsu: flipping something upside down to reframe it. Not a big jiu-jitsu here, but I can tell you I've gotten more love message from people, compared to what I got when they had to add in '$0 πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘':

And we've even been asked if we accept any interns right now.

The most beautiful part?

Some people want to support this:

That's right, 3 people were kind enough to want to pay the full $19, simply because they wanted to support more of this.

I can guarantee you that it's more than we would've gotten, if we were allowing people to simply type in their price. That's a few coffees, so... hey! Pretty cool! Hope you'll get some as wellβ˜•

Step 2.2: Package it

Once again: the packaging is 50%.

In our case, that's the tweet. Here's where skill, testing and persistence will pay off.

You will want to make this tweet as attractive as possible. Here's where we hit it out of the ballpark:

https://twitter.com/chddaniel/status/1436313533864562698

Here is a successful one (but not a moonshot like the previous one):

https://twitter.com/chddaniel/status/1437385606951178247 -

And here are some mediocre ones. Still hundreds of comments, but no viral effect. Still good tho!

https://twitter.com/chddaniel/status/1434887072435691522

https://twitter.com/chddaniel/status/1438155676950274053

Feel free to draw inspo from them. But what you want to keep an eye on is:

  • Is the picture attractive?

    Graphs work, milestones/social proof attract. If not, resort for a beautiful screenshot of the list.

    But... maybe actually fuck that πŸ€·β™‚οΈ. Try it without any picture at all. I've seen posts like these do super well with no pic at all
  • Is the text promising something that's valuable? Is it a solution to a problem? Hopefully an expensive problem?
  • Optional: Do you have any social proof to share? Anything to show that you indeed are the right person to follow for this? No problem if not, this works even if you don't have leverage β€” but if you do, put it on the table
  • Go your own way: what would catch people's attention? What will make them want this? My advice is limited by what I know. Maybe you know better than me how to do this

Step 3: Post a tweet

As you've noticed already... you'll want to ask people to comment if they want it. What this does is two-fold:

  1. When people comment, the post gets more valuable in the algorithm's eyes. This is not a hack or a hole in the system. It could be that the post will not go viral. Some of mine didn't. But if it's viral-worthy, it will go. With every comment people leave, the post gets shown to more.
  2. You now know who to DM

You will want to DM them individually, so you can send them the link and whatever info you want. Here's the message I DM to people:

Hey, so the list can be found here (https://www.simple.ink/resources/successful-info-products). Ignore the $19 price - if you add β€˜_______’ at checkout (as a coupon), and it’ll be free!

P.S: I’d LOVE it if you could link the link above (http://simple.ink) anywhere 🧑 Twitter, but more so a website!!

Notice that? The P.S? That, right there, might turn out to be the most valuable thing.

If people do link your resource, that right there is a way to scale up 'backlink building', if you're into SEO. If not, the basics are: the more (good, high quality) domains link to yours, the better rating you've got for your domain.

A domain with a good rating is like the wave that rises all the ships. In our case, the ships will be any article/page/etc you make on your website. It's deeper than that, but those are the basics.

In the conclusion, I'll recap everything you're getting from this move, besides the SEO benefit I've just mentioned.

β€”β€”β€”

What happens next is: people are gonna comment β†’ I DM them.

Some people don't have their DMs turned on. For that, I just create a keyboard text shortcut (here's how to do that) so that if I type 'nodm', this pops up:

Can't DM you :( Mind DMing me so I can reply with the link?t DM you :( Mind DMing me so I can reply with the link?'

What to do in case of emergency (e.g. if it goes viral)

Here's something that I've had to learn for myself which will save you some time and wasted potential.

IF the post goes viral, you'll have a lot of DMs on your plate. Two options:

  1. You can go the manual way all the way. Just DM everybody
  2. OR: once it's got liftoff (a.k.a when you see that it's really snowballing, it's really taking off), make a tweet reply like this: https://twitter.com/chddaniel/status/1436492474315378697. In other words, give the link publicly (and the coupon code) + an ask for sharing

Here's the thing: not everybody will have seen the second one. But that's now going on by itself. So for those who do see it, that's effortless for you πŸ‘ Great success.

For those who comment afterwards β†’ just DM them. Leave nobody behind.

And for those who commented before this β†’ DM them too. Very few will be able to see the reply comment.

Advanced mode: how to get even more out of this

Stack as many of these 'combos' if you feel adventurous or if you want to go 'pro mode'.

  • Steal it for $0
  • Social proof: "I've been collecting this for X years" (if it is the case. don't lie)
  • Mention that you'll give a "$19 coupon so you'll get it for free". People will know it costs $19
  • Just go for it and ask β€” for a retweet/share as well. Say "if you want to return the favour".
  • Set up an automated email after 10-20 min, asking people to go back and retweet it. This might help a lot.
  • If it goes well, use social proof. Make a reply to the tweet saying "900 people got this already!". Or whatever number
  • Add in some FOMO: mention that you're giving it for free until tomorrow. Or X date.
  • Let people know that if they retweet + DM you, they're jumping the queue and they'll have priority (e.g. they'll get it first). I've done that here and will continue to keep doing it, because it works.
  • Haven't tried this but "tag a friend to jump the queue"?
  • Don't forget to echo your success

Twitter limits

I'm not too sure, but I think Twitter limits about 30-35 DMs per hour. You'll get a pink message box when that's the case, with Twitter telling you that the message was not sent.

Just stop there and don't spam. You don't want to get banned, obviously. But overall, so far this is all consent-based, so that's good.

What I can recommend is switching up the message when you can - add the recipient's first name, switch the message format, etc. This way you're getting more protected from the Twitter hammer. I haven't heard of anyone doing this getting banned, but I thought it's worth sharing my 2 cents on this.

After the email list is built

I won't insist too much here, as it's all common sense: don't spam people, don't be shady, don't sell email lists, etc. My advice for making the most out of it:

  • Remember to remind people how you got their email address (e.g. Hey, I'm reaching you because I've got your contact from this valuable list I put on Twitter here [and link the tweet, so they can check and remind themselves])
  • If you're sending an email with a direct sell attempt of your product, I suggest doing it only once and mentioning ('this is the only time I'm promoting this, you won't get any other email with a sale attempt'). There's nothing people hate more (myself included) than an email sequence you can't get out of ('hEy yOu mUsT Be vErY BuSy sInCe yOu'rE NoT RePlYiNg' - fuck off)
  • If you want to build a relationship, send some more free value. Then maybe sell/ask.
  • Keep it personal. Got a list of no-coders? Present your product for no-coders: list features useful to no-coders, mention the mission, etc. Got a list of personal websites?

Let people know that adding a custom domain to your Notion page is possible for your personal website (and not that you've got Help Center templates β€” they don't care about that. You made something for them because they were looking for personal websites!

  • Just be nice and keep the fair contract: aim for a win-win. There's enough shitty marketing in the world already.

What you're getting out of this

Whow, that was a mouthful. So to conclude, if you're doing this, you'll be getting:

  • Loads of love if you put up something useful
  • Validation for whether it's worth doing something bigger than the list (could be a bigger list, could be a product). Or invalidation (that's useful as well).
  • Quick feedback if it's not useful (i.e. low number of retweets/likes)
  • Twitter followers. Maybe this will be your foundation of followers, off of which you can launch yourself.
  • Most importantly: an email list of people you can launch your product to
  • A way to start from ground 0
  • An SEO boost, if people link to those resources
  • Compound value between resources. Out of 1,700 total 'purchases', 100 at least were from people who were exploring around.

    How do I know that? I'm looking at how many downloads there were for resources that we haven't yet published, but which were on the Resources page. That's not even counting those who got stuff that was published
  • A good reputation with people, as a company. In the short-term people get to find out about you. In the long-run, you have a section on your website which may be called 'a goldmine'. That certainly does help, right?
  • Maybe some β˜• money from strangers

How to get 46.1K comments, 34.3K likes + more

To end, here's how I can take this one step further for you with more value:

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  1. I talked to this LOVELY guy called Caleb who got the following results.
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    He's walked me through what they've done well, and what they messed up. In a video, I'll walk you through what he's done + advice on how to get THAT level of success (46,100 comments? Yes pleaseeee)
  2. In the same video: Β an explanation of how I got to discover this strategy
  3. A list of 10 other successful posts like these, for inspiration (not from me, but from others) + a list of all the lists I've posted

I'd love to share these with you, if you'll want to share with me your email. It's free β€” and I'm trying to practice what IΒ preached in this article.

A bit meta, but I hope I've earned your trust so far.

Re-read the "After the email list is built" section if you've got trust issues regarding what I'll do with your email. I aim to practice what I preach.

So if you want these extra goodies, the 'Director's Cut', get it here and add 'NotionWebsiteBuilder' as a coupon for 100% free

β€” Peace out, Ch Daniel ✌️

P.S: If you've got a 'lead magnet' (apparently that's how marketing people call these?) that is SUPER GOOD, DM me and I'll put it on our Resources page. You get to keep your $$$ from people, we get to have a nicer goldmine.

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UPDATE (2Β Oct 2021):Β I've mentioned earlier backlinks. I'm stilll figuring backlinks out, but we've got these many new backlinks, from this technique explained above.