I'm Daniel. I made $404,473 selling an ebook and a video course on the internet. AMA 👇

Daniel Vassallo
79 replies
2.5 years ago I decided to quit the rat race and I left my career in big tech to go work for myself, on my own terms. Initially, I was going to focus all my attention on building a SaaS, but I quickly realized I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket. Fast forward to today, I make and sell educational info products, do some contracting (working quarter-time at Gumroad), run a SaaS business, and at the end of this month, I also plan to get into selling physical products.I made $550K+ in revenue since I started working for myself, with over $400K coming from info products. Ask me anything!


Easton Hunter
wow, you really kicked it! hope you are proud and happy now :)
Daniel Vassallo
@eastonhunter Thank you! This is the happiest I've ever been.
I've been following your journey on Twitter. I've a few questions: 1. When did you start believing this(selling digital products) could be a thing? 2. If you're doing it again with another product, what would you do differently? 3. Is it necessary to use traditional sales techniques(cold emails, calls, etc) apart from using platforms like Twitter?
Daniel Vassallo
@sanjrng 1. When I made my first $1,000 a few hours after I released my first product, I knew this was a viable income stream for me. I had no idea what the full upside was, but I had a strong gut feel that this was something I could continue doing for a living. 2. Nothing major. I made few promotion efforts that were too ambitious, that I shouldn't have attempted. For example, once I promised to review everyone's Twitter account if they bought my Twitter course, but I received so many requests at once that I didn't manage to keep up. 3. I don't think it's necessary because I didn't do any of that. But I'm sure it depends a lot on the product.
Cristian Cisa
Hello. Congratulations on those big numbers! Where do those sells come from? Did you already have an audience before making those info products? I think that making those products is the "easy" part, but getting people to know them and buy them is the real challenge. Don't get me wrong when I say easy, but I think there are lots of great info products with very little sells, how did you do that? Thanks!
Daniel Vassallo
@cristian_cisa1 Thank you! And I agree that marketing is the biggest challenge. I attribute almost all my revenue to having an audience on Twitter. I had about 11,000 Twitter followers when I released my first product (the ebook on AWS) on December 2019. That product made about $40,000 in sales in 2 weeks, and over $125,000 lifetime. I've seen many successful info product creators who had no social media audience and simply used SEO, paid ads, content marketing, their personal network, and other techniques. Unfortunately I don't have much experience with those, but it's a viable option for the right product.
Hey Daniel, been following you on Twitter for a while. Inspired us to create our own info product. What did you do to drive growth in the early days? Did sales occur instantly or did you have to lay the foundations for a while before sales took off? Thanks!
Daniel Vassallo
@hugh_dawkins Almost all my sales came organically from my Twitter account, simply by announcing them. For example, this single tweet directly made over $12,000 in the first 24 hours: https://twitter.com/dvassallo/st... ... Then I kept the momentum up by mentioning my product occasionally. After a month or two, almost all sales start coming from word of mouth (people recommending my products on their workplace's slack, private discords, on podcasts, etc). For new products, I'm also able to email my existing customers, which helps a bit as well. I have an email list of 19,000 customers now. But I still think Twitter is my best way to reach people.
Jon James
What do you know now, that you wish you'd known before you started?
Daniel Vassallo
@jondotjames tl;dr: Don't focus on one project. Do many at the same time. Long answer: That there are two very distinct types of "work": - One where the payoff follows a normal distribution (doctor, programmer, plumber, etc). - The other where the payoff follows a Pareto distribution (musician, author, startup founder, YouTuber, etc). If you want to work in the Pareto world, you can’t treat work the same as a normal job. Unlike a normal job, you can’t rely on focus and hard work to increase your odds of success, because the Pareto world is extremely competitive, random, and highly unpredictable. To make a living with the Pareto world, you must behave like a venture capitalist, a book publisher, or a film studio. You must have a portfolio of enough things such that you can expect a few payoffs to happen regularly. You can't just focus one one product and hope it works. You have to build a portfolio of small safe-to-fail bets.
Richard Fang
Amazing story! What's your biggest advice on selling educational info products? I've seen advice ranging from building out an email list to focus on building out a Twitter audience. What is yours? Thanks!
Daniel Vassallo
@richardfliu You have to find a way to make people know about you. Most people will be buying your product because it's you behind it. *You* are part of the product. Now, how do you make people know about you? It's all about going where people already hang out, and helping them. Build a name for yourself in communities where there's already thousands of people online every day. Answer everything you can for free. Then, once you start feeling you can't keep up with the questions, it's time to consider packaging everything you know into an info product. This approach solves two problems: What to make the info product about, and who to promote it to. Of course, I'm sure there are many other ways, but this is the one that worked for me (and for many others).
Dmitry Begovatov
Hey Daniel, congrats with your success. Do you know any other examples of makers like you?
Daniel Vassallo
@begovatovd1 Thank you! My friend @searchbound just tweeted a list of people who are doing business 'my way', by building a small portfolio of projects aligned to their personal interests: https://twitter.com/searchbound/...
Anna Gandrabura
Great results! What are the info products you sell and which platform do you leverage?
Daniel Vassallo
@annglish Thank you. My most successful product is a 1.5 hour video course on building a Twitter audience. It made $240K in sales since Apr 2020: https://dvassallo.gumroad.com/l/... My second product by revenue is a short technical ebook about AWS. It made $135K in sales since Dec 2019, which I split 50/50 with a co-author: https://dvassallo.gumroad.com/l/... I also have a small membership info product which has about $2.5K MRR and $32K in total sales, where I publish my detailed financial results every month and interact with members who are interested in the behind the scenes of my business: https://dvassallo.gumroad.com/l/... The platform I leverage is my Twitter account :)
Youri Nelson
How did you deal with content switching? Managing different products, contracting etc... was that not super taxing on your mind? Curious what were your strategies to manage the plethora of tasks.
Daniel Vassallo
@youreka I like to practice 'intensity over consistency'. (which imo, is much more in harmony with our nature.) So, I don't context switch frequently. I go all-in on something for a short while (a few days; maybe a couple of weeks) and then I rest. Then, the next thing I pick up can be something very different from the last. When people ask my about what my typical day looks like I never have a good answer because I don't have a typical day :)
Mike Ritchie
How much is your Twitter following worth to you? In other words, if you were starting at 0, how much would you pay to get it back in an instant?
Daniel Vassallo
@mike_seekwell A lot. I attribute almost all my income to it. Let's say that if you offered me $500K to shut it down, I wouldn't take it.
Wong Li Si
@mike_seekwell @dvassallo Heaps of Twitter followers. Some are afraid to rely on social media with the changing algorithms and much rather have a emailing list under their control. Any views?
Vijaykrishna Ravichandran
What ways do you suggest for people who do not have a large following to sell info products? Do we have to start with building an audience first?
Daniel Vassallo
@vijaykrishna_ravichandran I would highly recommend building an audience, but it's not the only way to do it. What's important is that you have a strategy: How will you get people to the top of the funnel? Is it going to be via paid ads, search engine results, content marketing, podcast mentions, word of mouth, etc. How can you get, say, 250 people to see your product page every day? What you choose depends a lot on your product, strengths, budget, spare time, etc.
Hi Daniel, Been following you since you went independent. Thank you for sharing your journey. Hands down one of my best follow. You recently shared about selling your wood work. Unlike your other products, this requires constant input of your time. Curious, is this you having fun or see as a small bet to hedge other bet.
Daniel Vassallo
@v1jay Thank you Vijay! — I have no objections around 'trading time for money', as long as: 1) it's somewhat leveraged (high hourly rate); 2) I have control over how much time I dedicate to it (and I can stop when I want); 3) It's something I enjoy doing. I think the woodworking business has the potential to be that. In an ideal world, I'll dedicate maybe a couple of hours a day to it, make a decent side-income ($3K+/mo), keep practicing my woodworking craft, and leverage my audience (so I don't have to compete with thousands of makers on etsy). I'm also curious to get first-hand experience with a physical product business. Maybe this eventually evolves to something else... who knows? It's just a small bet :)
Hey @dvassallo, I've been following your story/experiments and have grown to be a big fan of your work! What has been an experiment that you've learned the most from but most people didn't hear about it?
Daniel Vassallo
@thisiskp_ Hmm... I can't think of anything significant. I toy with many ideas in my head that never see the light of day. The exercise of imagining myself executing these ideas has helped me a lot in understanding my true preferences. I don't talk about these ideas publicly (I wouldn't have much to say about them anyway), but they've been a 'good stressor' to help me find what I really want to pursue and what I absolutely don't want to.
Kyleigh Smith
Hi Daniel! 1) What habits have you developed that changed your trajectory and why? 2) What habits are you currently working on building/maintaining, if any? Thanks!
Daniel Vassallo
@kyleighsmith I'm not a fan of creating habits. I mainly look for intrinsic motivation, and then the good habits follow automatically. Maybe creating good habits is useful for things like keeping my tax paperwork organized, and so on, but for creative endeavors, I never had a problem with bad habits. If I want something badly enough, the good habits emerge on their own. Maybe one "habit" that's been helpful to me is to keep plenty of idle time. It's hard to recognize good opportunities when all your time is tied up in busywork.
Levi Nunnink
I've been following you for a while on Twitter and IH. Love watching this journey. A few questions: 1. Do you do traditional investing as part of your income strategy? 2. Most of your income seems to have been from info products. How is your SaaS, Userbase doing?
Daniel Vassallo
@levinunnink 1. I don't anymore. I did a lot of investing in 2010-2019 (and made some good money from the tech bull market), but now I find investing extremely boring. In an effort to simplify my life, I closed all investment positions over the last year or so. There's already a lot of randomness in my life, and I don't want to also be worrying about the stock market. It's been a long time since I looked at the Stocks app, and it's very liberating! 2. Userbase is still there, but it's only like 2% of my income. It's only doing about $400 MRR, which is way below what I hoped. It's certainly a failed bet from a financial perspective, but that's easier said in hindsight :)
Levi Nunnink
@dvassallo Thanks, Daniel! One more question if you have time: Can you elaborate on why you're "bad for the economy"?
Daniel Vassallo
@levinunnink Haha, it's a bit of an inside joke on my Twitter, because many people claim that I've inspired them to quit their high-paying tech jobs to work for themselves on something that better matches their preferred lifestyle. Origin: https://twitter.com/dvassallo/st...
Thomas Wall
Hi I was referred here from my brother so I don’t have much knowledge of your background or what you do but from what I just read it’s obvious you know what you’re doing and can maybe help out someone who is completely new in marketing and monetizing an online community they were pretty much blessed with..someone like me. I created a Bob Ross oil painting for Beginners group on Facebook and my membership count sky rocketed when covid locked down everyone. I’m at 27,000 members and I want to utilize this so I can quit my day job and provide this community with our own website for showing off our work/ have a discussion forum/ an “offer up” or “Etsy” type of marketplace where members can sell their art or used equipment/ and a section to provide helpful “how to” guides for all skill level painters....the thing is I don’t know anything about anything. I have a domain, I have the 27k potential customers, and I have the ideas for the website but I don’t have the funds to hire a web developer, know how to find investors, and just use this opportunity I have to benefit not only myself but everyone else too. I know if I can get at least 20% of those members to subscribe for $1 a month I’m already fulfilling goals that I’ve never expected to be practical or possible. Any suggestions on where to start? Advice to point me in the right direction? I’d appreciate any help at all that you can provide. Thanks. Also if you want to unlock your inner artist and paint beautiful landscapes, join the group send me a DM I’ll be happy to exchange advice for advice. [bit.ly/happypaintingfb] — Thomas W.
Daniel Vassallo
@daggonsumbich Hey Thomas. My only general advice is to look at where money is being exchanged in your community and see if you can insert yourself in the middle. What are those 27,000 people buying? Courses? memberships? tools? events? meetups? etc. Try to observe what they're already accustomed to pay for, and see if you can do something like that yourself. It doesn't have to be something with a huge upside. A small win can open many other doors. Go for the low hanging fruit. Success brings with it more success.
Alexis Llontop
Excellent story. Many congratulations. 🥇🎉 I have a question, did you do it all by yourself or did you delegate work to others?
Daniel Vassallo
@alexis_llontop Thank you! I made my first info product (the ebook about AWS) with a co-author, so we split the work (and earnings) 50/50. The other info products have been just myself. For my SaaS product, I hired a part-time employee for a while, mostly because I was extremely impatient to get it done :)
Timoteo Ladmann
How do you manage your personal finances? What do you think about the FIRE movement and did it play a role in you quitting the rat race? Greetings from Argentina Daniel!
Daniel Vassallo
@timoteo_ladmann I'm not a fan of FIRE, mainly because of its distinct bimodal approach towards life: the deferring phase, and then the living phase. First of all, I believe that the discovery of our true preferences is a life-long exercise, and the most reliable way to reveal our preferences is to live them. Almost everyone I know who retired after a grueling career went into retirement unprepared, and their life went downhill fast. The 'Always Be Compounding' attitude during the deferring phase gets in the way of exercising the muscle that leads to discovering what we truly like and dislike. The other issue is about the hidden risk behind the magic $xM number. I don't think it's easy to convince our subconscious that any number is sufficient (beyond cases of extreme wealth), and our subconscious is likely right to smell a hidden risk – especially when expecting a long retirement. The 'safe 4% withdrawal rule' hasn't been proven safe, and it can never be proven. I'd imagine myself waking up every morning worrying about the stock market and an endless number of things beyond my control to verify that my assumptions are still valid. When it comes to matters of survival, the lizard part of our brain has a tendency to keep us up at night. For me, active income is the ultimate robustifier and peace of mind enabler. Every day I make $100 from something I did recently confirms to me that I'm still relevant to society. And if my active income declines one day, it forces me to adapt while I'm still exercising my income-generating skills. It's much easier to adapt in this state, rather than 10 years into retirement when I realize I'll need to top up my savings. There are certainly a few inspiring things from the FIRE movement, such as the questioning of our expectations, awareness of the hedonic treadmill, and thinking hard about what really matters. I think there's lots to gain from reading Mr Money Mustache, et al. However, I'm quite convinced that the better life strategy is one of incremental lifestyle enhancement, where we're simultaneously adding enough optionality for the future, and also arranging our life in the present to best match our preferences. More specifically, my approach is to save the minimum possible so that I can weather any storm, then spend the excess in the present. I buy insurance for catastrophic risk, and save some money for what I can't insure against. Beyond that, I spend all the excess now. And sometimes, 'spending' simply means working less (leaving money on the table).
Daria Kalinovskaya
Hello Daniel! Did you do some paid ads somewhere? What do you think outstands from a content perspective that makes people actually PAY for an info?
Daniel Vassallo
@daria_kalinovskaya I only had some success from reddit ads, and it was only temporary. I made $17K from an $11K spent on reddit ads when promoting my AWS book. I briefly tried other ad platforms but had no luck and I gave up quickly. I think there's more potential in ads if I had the time to experiment, but so far I've preferred spending my energy elsewhere.