I'm Dickie. I bootstrapped a cohort-based course from idea to 1,400 students in 6 months. AMA 🔥

Dickie Bush
58 replies
I've built Ship 30 for 30 - a cohort-based writing course - from idea to over 1,400 students in six months. I've learned a ton along the way about marketing, scaling, building community, iterating and improving a course, and made just about every mistake there is to make. I did all this while having a full-time job! I'd love to answer any questions you have on bootstrapping demand for your course, marketing, building, scaling, and everything in-between as well as how to manage side projects. AMA 🔥


Clay Hebert
What gave you the idea for Ship 30 for 30? What prompted it?
Dickie Bush
@clayhebert Ship 30 is the writing program I wish I had when I started writing online in 2020. I had been following the class playbook of "owning your platform," with a weekly blog post and newsletter. But the feedback loops were so slow. I was spinning my wheels with too many ideas to explore but no good medium to do so. So I started writing and publishing small screenshot essays on Twitter (which helped me clear the backlog of ideas in my head faster). 10 days in, I knew I needed an accountability community to do it with me. And so I spun up a quick Typeform, tweeted out an interest question (I had ~1400 followers at the time), and the response was huge. Long story short, Ship 30 was a solution to my own problem (that it turned out quite a few others had as well).
Rohan Mendiratta
Distributing atomic essays via the image vs repurposing it in a thread. What works better for you on Twitter (since you do both) and why do you think that is the case?
Dickie Bush
@rohan_mendiratta1 I think both have their merits. Threads will get better engagement, but require a certain style of writing (lists or stories really). Atomic Essays are a good way to explore one single idea that you would ideally put in one tweet if Twitter allowed them to be that long.
Rajat Kapoor
Who has been the brightest writer you've encountered in Ship 30 for 30 from all cohorts? Reaons: I try to follow all the alumni, and do not want to miss on the greatest :)
Dickie Bush
@rajat_kapoor There have been so many! Can't choose just one (that's like picking children). We are working on creating an alumni directory that will showcase what every alumni is working on and writing about after completing the program, so stay tuned!
Andrew Tsao
What's the biggest challenge you face when building a cohort-based learning course? How do you control the the quality of each cohort?
Dickie Bush
@andrew_tsao The number one problem is the endless treadmill of improvements you *could* make when creating a course. Literally everything could be better. So finding that balance of "good enough" is a tough game. And failing to set those boundaries is a one-way ticket to burnout. Developing the skill of identifying "is this an incremental improvement or a 10x improvement?" has been both my biggest struggle and biggest point of success. Since I do this as a side project, I have no choice but to spend my time on the big things that move the needle.
Ruben Wolff
First of all, congratulations! :) How did you market and build your community for this project? Especially if you were working on a full-time job at the same time?
Dickie Bush
@rubenwolff The marketing comes almost 100% from my Twitter threads. The landing page of our website has a free 10-day email course that converts quite a bit as well. There is also some built-in viral marketing that aligns incentives between us and every writer. The better they write, the more attention they gain, and the more attention Ship 30 gets for helping them get there. Very win-win. But by far the most marketing is done via word-of-mouth from members who love the program and share how much they love it with others.
Dylan Redekop
What do you believe to be Ship 30 For 30's #1 driver of success? What would it be in one word?
Dickie Bush
@dylan_redekop Hard to choose one word. But the #1 driver of success is the shared community struggle in building a habit and skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Eugene Hauptmann
How did you get your first student?
Dickie Bush
@eugenehp The first cohort was 50 people and came from me tweeting out asking if anyone would be interested, spinning up a quick Typeform to capture emails, then inviting everyone to a Slack channel to get things off and running before I felt ready.
Eugene Hauptmann
@dickiebush Thanks, makes sense! When you invited them over to slack, with the experience you've now, what would you do differently back then, when you invited first 50 people to slack?
Wilco de Kreij
What platform do you use for the cohort-based training?
Dickie Bush
@emarky We use Podia/Zoom/Slack. But my due diligence on this was literally 0. I googled "course platform with referral program" and clicked the first one. I think course creators spend 10x too much time thinking which community platform, tool, or tactic they should use. The truth it, the tools do not matter. A good community will thrive with any tool.
Bootstrap is nice to use
Neel Adwani
How did you manage your time, having a full time job and hustling to build this course?
Dickie Bush
@neeltron I've been fortunate to be a 25-year-old without much to do on the weekend over the last year with how things have been shut down. I don't like to praise "hustle culture" but I just worked early mornings and all weekend on it for the last six months.
Charles Perry
This idea looks so good.keep it up.
William Noah
thanks dickie, For this important Course info. 6 months course is very good to learn like image editing, Graphic Design. Then its easy to give image cutout service like: https://clippingway.com/image-cu...
Alan Smith
nice ! great keep it on
Chuột Nghe Thông Minh
Điều gì đã cho bạn ý tưởng về Ship 30 for 30? Điều gì đã thúc đẩy nó?
Julie Moss
Hope I can catch up
Kelson Quan
Congratulations! Feel like I need to get on this to improve my writing!
Nico Medellin
Best advice for marketing the class?
Dickie Bush
@nico_medellin Create content that identifies and points out the problem you are solving, then position yourself as the clear solution.