Hey PH! I’m Ramit Sethi. 12 years ago, I launched a blog on personal finance from my dorm room and ended up bootstrapping it to over 1 million readers/month and a New York Times best-selling book. Then we expanded into psychology, careers, and freelancing. Now we’re focused on helping people launch and grow their online business. We have a lot of experience in applied A/B tests, funnel design, monetization, growth, SEO, etc — all tested (lots of it counterintuitive). You can get our strategies/tactics and case studies at http://www.growthlab.com. Here’s a detailed writeup on our business, including our premium business model: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2016... You can read about us in most popular press (NYT, WSJ, Fortune, Today Show, etc). Happy to chat about what I’ve learned helping people with how to find a business idea, what we’ve learned about monetization, how we grow our traffic and how we’ve built an email list of 800,000+, and how to scale your bootstrapped business. Twitter: http://twitter.com/ramit Instagram: http://instagram.com/ramit Facebook: http://facebook.com/IWT
@philipkuklis · Co-Founder, Hubble
Hi Ramit, what's one counterintuitive thing about growing a business online that really surprised you?
@philipkuklis At the beginning, I had a million questions about tactics, like which email service provider to use, what time to host a webinar, how long email funnels should be. Looking back, I think it was critical to master those questions. But the real growth came from getting good at those, checking the box, and moving on to higher-value questions. The biggest surprise was how many of those questions deal with inner psychology: - Who are you trying to impress? Techcrunch or your customers? - You say you're willing to think long-term. Are you willing to cancel a multi-million-dollar launch because the product isn't ready? - You claim you just want a "small, intimate team" but you also say you want to have a big impact. Are you prepared to change one of those beliefs? (I used to tell myself the small/intimate thing -- I don't know why. It was just a stock phrase I said without thinking about it. Changing this belief led to growing the IWT team.) - Are you able to mentally handle people refunding products? - Can you keep the mind of a child even while your business has grown? So the big surprise was how important mastering your own psychology comes into play as you grow your business.
@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Ramit, thanks for joining us today. What are your secrets to growth and scaling an online business with limited budget available?
@ems_hodge OK, let me share a few ways we grew IWT from a dorm-room blog into a blog with 1MM+ monthly readers and ~800,000 email subscribers. 1. Start with blogging and organic search. It grows over time and has disproportionate returns. This is what I started with without knowing anything about SEO, monetization, or even an email list. Over time, we got more sophisticated at driving keywords and other inbound techniques. But the best thing was writing remarkable content that people wanted to read -- and then doing it consistently, over and over. 2. Build systems to interact with your readers. When I started, it was blog comments. Now there’s email and social media. In another answer, I mentioned why I still read every single email I get -- it’s the most amazing way to stay in touch with people who read your material. Be intentional about building those channels. Collect surveys, build a simple 5-part email funnel, ask people to write you. Almost nobody does this, and it sets you apart. 3. Learn analytics. I didn’t do this from day 1 because I had no idea how it worked. But now, people are smarter. See if you’re getting traction by channel, then double down in channels that work. As an example, we’ve tried certain promotions that totally bombed. We had one partner email our material to 1,000,000+ people -- and got 0 results! We still tried again, just to be sure. But after that, we killed that approach. (Notice that none of the above techniques cost any money.) Unconventional advice: - Don’t be afraid of writing long material. (As one of my coworkers just told me: “Based on SERP data from SEMRush, we found that longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.”) If you’re reaching (1) the right people with (2) a message they really want, they will read forever. Some of our sales pages are 75+ pages long. People read to the very end...then they buy. - Same for emails. Don’t listen to Silicon Valley advice that says nobody has any time and they just want “quick” information. We want high-quality subscribers and we expect a lot from them. - Keep it fun. Don’t turn into an analytics chaser who only chases the numbers. If you do that, you’re just another ad-tech company. Write stuff that’s fun, that’s engaging, that makes YOU enjoy it. One of my favorite posts starts by asking 650,000 people to vote on their favorite introduction to a song....and all 3 are by Boyz II Men. Hey, it made me laugh.
Hi Ramit! Investing question. If you have already maxed your IRA. And also have a 401k (with no match), and a taxable investment account. Which would you prioritize investing in? 401k (no match) or taxable account?
Psychology of Pricing for B2B - When should a B2B business reveal price and should it be specific or a range? You qualify subscribers and send them through an extensive email funnel before they ever see the price of a product. Our business (MH) does company team building at avg. of $139 per person for groups of 10+, but there is a range of services so it can be $99 to $189+ The leads are usually an HR manager or another admin person who has a specific budget in mind (clients ranging from small law office up to Google, KPMG, etc.) #1 question is "how much does it cost?" and #2 is "whats included?" Generally they are looking to book within a month or so. Our goal is to convert more deals at higher margins. Options: #1 put $139 avg. on the landing page, to deter folks with budgets that are well below our range and to anchor high, we've tested and this reduced the quantity of leads, #2: put a range on the landing page, e.g., $99 to $139+ to accommodate folks w/ a lower budget that sales team can then upsell, #3, either specific price or range in the auto email we send right away before lead talks w/ sales team, #4, nowhere, custom on the call w/ sales rep, #5, test all of these (difficult w/ the custom product and variety of clients). Resource recommendations?
@michael_alexis The typical Silicon Valley answer is "test it." I want to go deeper. 1. Is this worth spending time on? Run a simple model to ask if getting this "right" is going to grow the business any substantial amount. If not, move on. (We once had a product that we were tinkering with. Then we stepped back and said, "If we grow this product 10x, will it make a difference?" And the answer was no. We shut the product down.) Most things in business are not worth spending time (and I question whether a $40 difference will truly make a big difference in the overall annual revenue -- more on that in a second). The more advanced your business gets, the more frequently you should say "no." 2. Who is the customer you're trying to target? You say you want to close more deals at higher margins, but also that when you added a higher price on the sales page, you decreased quantity. Most would say "You can't have your cake and eat it too," but you can -- you just have to go at it in 2 ways: (1) Get more qualified leads to the site, and (2) use the higher price to qualify them. 3. To go deeper on getting higher-margin customers in higher quantities. This is possible, but it involves more than just an A/B test on the landing page. It involves re-engineering your marketing from the ground up: - Where are you finding these leads? You will likely have to find other acquisition sources (and lots of them, since most will be worthless). This is the single-most important thing you can do: Focus on lead quality. - What's your value proposition? This is huge. If you're comparing yourself to a movie, people won't want to pay. Be very mindful of how you benchmark yourself. This is why, in our Zero To Launch course, we talk about the difference between selling an "ebook" and a "course." Very, very different in subtle ways. - Don't make it weird: There's nothing weird about paying a premium price for the premium experience they're getting. Be sure to do your customer research and understand the true hopes, fears, and dreams. If I'm an HR director in NYC taking my team out, the last thing I want is to look stupid or feel embarrassed. That's why people pay for nice/mediocre restaurants -- safety/security and the knowledge they're going to be taken care of. Decide on your USP and be unapologetic about your price. - Be thoughtful about your copy and images. Are you showing one person in your pictures, or a team? Do they have wine in their hand or is the boss present and everyone is serious? Your copy matters, too. If you do all these things effectively, price will be a mere triviality. The best part is, your true customers WANT you to do this! And they're delighted to pay more. It's also the reason we're able to charge 10x-100x our competition, and our students join multiple courses. Hope this helps.
Hi Ramit, After creating more than 10 successful info-products about many topics (last one about cooking) and organizing Forefront, your first big live event, what's next for IWT?
@angeliti Thanks for asking! We’re always working on new products in our product lab -- often years before they’re released publicly. So keep an eye out. I’m glad you mentioned Forefront (forefrontevent.com). This was a huge new event we threw last year, our first major event with 500 people in Manhattan and Daymond John speaking. 2017 will be even bigger. I think it’s awesome to be able to connect ambitious people with each other where they can pursue a rich life without feeling weird. Btw, one of the best pieces of feedback we got was, “Back home, I’m the weird guy who reads self development. I feel at home with the people here.” And we’re doubling down on online business on GrowthLab.com, where we’ll be sharing new case studies, A/B tests, email funnels, copywriting techniques, and our students’ stories. Hope this helps! Thanks for following along.
@theessentialman · The Essential Man
What are some things you thought were stupid, useless, or pointless in your 20s that you found was actually important to your business' success now?
@theessentialman I used to undervalue the importance of symbolic things. Like taking a bottle of wine to a friend's place for a party ("He already has enough alcohol" -- that's not the point). Or decorating my apartment ("It's fine, I'm just going to take it down in a couple years anyway") or dressing better ("she should like me for who I am"). Now I think those are incredibly important, even though they're subtle. You may not recognize the reason you know you're in a high-end store now (it's the subtle candles, the floor, the clothes that the employees are wearing), but you know you're not in Wal-Mart. And it matters. One other thing I want to mention: COLLEGE. It's really popular for people to say "Don't bother with college, get a real-world education." I loved college and think it was one of the most valuable things I ever did. Not only can you choose your own curriculum, you learn the skills of discipline, building relationships, navigating bureaucracy. No, I don't remember the quiz I took in 2003 on statistics, but I still use the skills I learned in college every day.
@valencia_roner · Product & Services Mgr | Program Manager
@ramit @theessentialman Excellent point. As a regional Product and Services Manager, I have teams that work in many small towns in addition to a few big ones. In my case, by dropping in to say "Hello" and share the progress of the work of my teams in the area is so casual, yet, so appreciated. As a result, the local community serves as my best advocate for our product offerings, leading our team to exceed production goals consistenly for the past three years. It demonstrates a level of respect and cultural competence as well as a quality of marketing money can't buy.
I have $5000 with me which I'd like to invest and grow quickly. What possible options do I have in today's market? Where do I begin?
@403ish If your goal is quick cash, I can't help. And if you're concerned about "today's market," you're asking the wrong question -- you should be focusing on long-term gains. Start by getting your personal finances automated. It's systematic, boring -- and it works. Then you earn the right to focus on the sexier, more fun areas, like creating an online business.
@ramit I agree. I should not say quickly but rather gradually and over time. I know short term gains only happen with luck and being in right place and right time. I have been through some of those before. But now I am definitely looking for long term. By personal finances, you mean what you have described in your book right? Any suggestions on how to look in the right places to start online businesses?
Hi Ramit, Do you really read ALL the e-mails from your readers or you have someone filter the important ones for you? Why didn't you decide to delegate that part of your business?
@angeliti I read every email. Even the customer service ones. The emails are absolutely amazing. People respond differently to surveys or social media than emails (emails are much more intimate -- especially if you have a relationship with that person). For example, I've asked a question on twitter where 100% of people gave one answer, but in email, they gave the opposite answer. The email answers were politically incorrect -- but true. I love the emails (1) for pure entertainment value -- you should see the stories I get, and (2) to learn about what people are really thinking and what's going on in their lives. It keeps me at the cutting edge of knowing exactly what's going on in a huge amount of people's lives. I respond to quite a few, but I can't respond to all of them any more -- that's one thing I've had to change as the business has grown. Interestingly, the hardest part about this was changing my identity from "The guy who responds to every single email he gets" to "The guy who reads every email." I may have to change that in the future, too.
What your thoughts on yoga, meditation and mindfulness? is it included in any of your teachings/courses? thanks
@jatin_jt I think yoga and meditation are great for people who find value from them. But I don't. It's great to test and try new approaches. But you don't need yoga, meditation, a vision board, or green-juice smoothies to be successful. Find what works for you and do it every single day.