"I'm currently at a low point, exhausted with validation, the lean startup, being pulled from idea to idea and failing.
I'm most exhausted from not being able to know what my audience wants."
Alex and I got the above email in our inbox just today, but it's far from unique. Maybe you've said it yourself. Maybe you're even the person who wrote it.
Maybe it's "just business," but the failure sure as hell feels personal.
1 You have a great idea!
2 You build your great idea!
3 You ship it! It's online for everyone to try and buy!
4 You wait for the sales to roll in...
5 ...you wait for the sales to roll in...
6 You struggle to figure out why nobody is buying, and who should buy it. You hope to find a product-market fit by conducting interviews and tests and so on until... you're fit to strangle a kitten, and then...
7 Frustrated and exhausted, like the person in our opening, you give up.
You're exhausted. And what do you have to show for it? Zilch, zippo, nothing.
What should have been one of the most kickass moments in your creative career fizzled out like a sad trombone. Wah-wahhh.
It's like all your hard work, sweat, blood and tears... never existed at all.
(And that's if you even get past Step 3: Ship the damn thing.)
Makers like us... well, we all start off believing that it's all about making good things. We all want to believe that "A great product speaks for itself."
But think about it: How can a product 'speak for itself'? A product can't speak, only its customers can. And if you haven't got your first customer yet, where does that leave you?
You need sales to make sales.
Are creative people doomed to fail at business?
Are the only people able to squeeze money from creative work the cold, calculating MBA-types who exploit it?
No, not at all.
You simply haven't learned the skills to create things people want to buy. You've got the "creating things" part mastered, but it's the "people want to buy" part that's failing you.
You're inexperienced... and you've made an inexperienced person's mistakes.
...unless you do something about it.
Listen below to our alum, Jim Gay, explain how he found himself caught up in the same failure loop:
Jim started off making the same mistakes you have... until he took the initiative to level up and learn a better way. He finished and launched his book. He's gone from a cycle of automatic, newbie failure to earn over $60k on his first post-30x500 product.
He did it by learning to read his customers' minds.
Why make something, then try to figure out "Who wants it?" Why try to convince an unwilling market? Why fail fast? Why fail at all?
It's all so terribly inefficient.
"I spent about 2.5 years trying to build a SAAS application using Lean Startup ideas. I have now spent 15 months using 30x500 ideas. My total revenue from 30x500 products is 3.5 times more in half the time." - Kirk Byers, Python for Network Engineers
If you knew exactly what your customers want, you could simply... give it to them: Blog posts, emails, free goodies, launch sequences, product pitches, and finally, the product itself.
You could stop worrying, "will anyone want this?" because you know they do.
You could launch to a substantial list, a list you built, full of people who trust you, who want what you have to offer and make sales on your very first day.
You might even hear the magic words: "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!"
Then those customers, those people who bought, would finally enable your work to "speak for itself." The good news would spread.
You could skip all the heartache and thrashing. Screw "fail fast," you could skip "fail" entirely.
Really frigging awesome. Actually, even more awesome than you can imagine. Every time one of our students gets their first newsletter signup, every time they make their first sale, we ask:
"How does it feel?"
and they are always so pumped.
Then we ask,
" Would you have believed me if I told you yesterday, before this happened, how amazingly different things would look & feel on the other side?"
And they always say "No." Even when it's a small thing, like experiencing that perfect customer resonance for the first time ever:
See? You can't even imagine how wonderful and thrilling it is.
That's how awesome it feels to know exactly what you can do to make that happen the first time, and every time, again and again and again.
It feels like magic. But it's not... it's technique, applied skillfully.
Sales Safari is our specific, concrete, step-by-step process that will help you understand exactly what your customers need, want, and are ready to buy.
And it delivers scary, mind-reader-y results.
Safari will get you out there, in the wild, studying your customer in their native habitats. It gives you a systematic way to analyze their behavior, desires, needs, wants.
Then Safari will help you to deliver targeted marketing content that will push all your customers' buttons. And it'll help you design a product that will seem so perfectly tailored to your customer, they can't help but buy.
Because it's not a vague or generic technique that's floating around out there in the world... Amy invented it, we refined it, and we use it to build our own businesses (including this one).
And over the past 5 years, we have honed it to a fine and very sharp point.
We have taught Sales Safari (as part of the whole 30x500 system) to hundreds of students. Those students have gone on to gross nearly $3 million in total from their 30x500 products.
A year and a half ago, we redesigned 30x500 from the ground up. We moved to an intense, weekend-long Bootcamp format. And man, did it work! More of our students kicked ass and launched with 4- and 5-figure sales.
Naturally, the Bootcamp still wasn't perfect. (Nothing ever is.) It was extremely demanding to run, and so it was rare and expensive. We had to try to cram everything into only two days. Our impact was limited. We had to turn away as many students as we accepted.
But our goal has always been to teach these ridiculously powerful skills to as many people as possible.
From the start, we'd planned to use the Bootcamp as live field research. To Safari the Safari.
We have spent the last 18 months intensely analyzing every Bootcamp:
What did the students do? What did they not do? Who followed through? Who didn't? Why?
We've got a lot of answers to those questions, but the most relevant one to you is:
Why, after learning the exact steps to follow, do some students fail to act?
Here's what we found:
Look at a failing student and 9 times out of 10, it'll turn out that they did nothing. Or next to nothing. They didn't Safari, they didn't drop ebombs, they didn't build their list, they didn't launch anything. They also didn't ask for help.
Why didn't they do any of the work?
Underneath all the pointless excuse-making, we have concluded, is a lurking common cause:
You need little wins, which will build a positive feedback loop, which will keep you in it for the long haul.
There will always be other things warring for your time and energy. Motivation fades.
Our goal is to help you get positively addicted to success. Instantly. We've redesigned the class – again! – to give you results as fast as the laws of physics allow.
We've ruthlessly cut everything that might stand in your way: info overload, background theory, you name it.
"If you have a pile of projects that have gone nowhere and made zero dollars, and are finally ready to actually create a business instead of a project, take 30x500 ASAP then just do what Amy and Alex tell you to do."
- Sean Fioritto, Sketching with CSS & Angular Escape Plan (case study!)
You learned, above, that no customer = no product. Customers come first. So in Step 1, you'll start building your customer base right away.
Very first thing: Find your audience and read their minds... stat!
You'll jump right into Safari. Fact: You're already surrounded by solid gold market research, and now you'll finally learn to see it. You'll become a quick study at spotting pain points... pain points you can start addressing within the very first hour.
Get yourself some of that sweet, sweet instant win.
At the end of Read Their Minds, here's what you'll be able to:
...and you'll know how to do it, because you'll have done it.
You'll also learn:
Killer. You'll be stacking up the little wins left and right. Now it's time to go for the big wins.
Your audience is growing. They're loving your ebombs. They're signing up for your mailing list. Awesome! Go you!
Now it's time to get nuance-y. Now it's time for Part 2: Build the Business.
You'll learn to analyze more complex, nuanced pain in your audience... spotting the less-obvious, even the downright hidden. You'll learn about the words, worldviews and beliefs that repel... or attract. You'll master Safari ne plus ultra.
And the reason for this is... well, you're gearing up to design a product and ask for money. The stakes are higher. The level of detail needs to be higher, too.
At the end of Build the Business, you'll be able to do:
And every element – what type of product? what will it look and feel like? what type of approach? what format will the launch content be? – will be tuned to your audience.
"Why not put all this stuff in Step 1?" you might be asking.
Simple: You don't need this stuff to start racking up little wins, readers, and subscribers. Until you've got a growing readership, list, and big ol' pile of Safari data, it's a distraction from doing. And we're all about getting you doing and winning ASAP.
When you do need it, you're ready to learn.
"Total revenue to date - $36,206.90. I literally hadn't sold a single product in my entire life ... only 4 months ago. Have I told you THANK YOU for 30x500 lately?" - Rob Williams, Workshop & Emails that Win Clients (case study!)
And once you experience how the "boring" Sales Safari gives you mind-reading superpowers, you'll never again revert to "great idea" spray & pray. You'll never again waste time building something nobody wants.
The Bootcamp required you to schedule out a full weekend...and we only did it 5 times a year. The older 30x500 was 12 structured weeks, which was like trying to jam an entire college semester of work in your free time after work.
The brand new 30x500 Pioneer program is designed from the ground up to help you work at your own pace and on your own schedule.
You'll get all the great, battle-tested systems from our very successful 30x500 Bootcamp, and tons of new tools to help you...
The 30x500 Brick Stacking Canvas connects everything in the course and gives you a birds eye view of what you have and what you're working on next. We've also used the Canvas as the core of all of our new lessons & exercises - you can watch this behind the scenes time-lapse of Amy turning the Canvas into a "recipe card" exercise.
With a new design, new lessons, new exercises, and new tools – plus more student case studies and diverse real world examples – this is really the best 30x500 we've ever offered.
This is the very first 30x500 we've done this way...ever!
Let's help each other: We'll help you kick ass, take names, and make sales at a very special price – and you'll help us help you.
When you sign up to be a 30x500 Pioneer, you'll get:
Plus, of course, you'll get to experience how we stack the bricks alllll the way down.
When you enroll today, you'll get instant access to some warm-up material and a chat room for you to meet other Pioneers. The course itself – the lessons, exercises, and everything else – begins in mid April.
Here's what we get out of the deal: We'll benefit from your questions, your feedback, and your results. Everything you tell us (good and bad) will become part of this new and improved class.
And you get those updates for free until 2016!
And....we're sold out. Sorry!
The Pioneers program is closed! Sorry! Then next 30x500 will be available as a study-at-home product this fall. Additional coaching will only be available through alumni only resources like periodic 30x500 Masterclasses and The Forge, our alumni community of practice.
We care more about our students' success than taking their money. Easy to say, but for 5 years, we've actively turned away students who had to borrow money to take the course, students with unreasonable expectations for their financial success, students not equipped to make a product, and students who don't seem willing to do the slow work to build a business incrementally.
We're honest to the end about the level of effort, skills, and other ingredients required. Here's a list of the top reasons you would NOT want to do 30x500, including personality types and audience types that are not recommended for this course and approach.
We expect you to be honest about your best effort to apply the process that you learn. This is NOT a get rich quick program, or a startup lottery. Following the 30x500 process takes time, and effort...but it does work. Your wins might seem small at first, but if you keep going, they'll become bigger wins before you know it. You don't even need to get things perfect to get great results. In most cases, doing things 20% right will get you better results than doing nothing.
If you take the small, unsexy steps: if you follow the steps to do Safari research, take notes, and review the; you ship ebombs that help people in your audience and add them to your list; if you practice each element of the 30x500 process and still DO NOT feel like you are making progress 90 days after you begin doing the work, we will try to work with you to identify what's missing. And if that doesn't work, we'll give you a full refund.
Most of the time, if you're asking this question you're really asking one of the following:
If you've read that page and still are unsure, please email us email@example.com before signing up!
When you log in for the first time you'll see a few lessons that we've created to welcome you to the 30x500 Pioneers program: some recommended reading to help you get ready and soon, some mini-assignments to help you hit the ground running when the course officially begins in April.
You'll also be able to get an invite to the Pioneers-only "Brick Stackers Lounger" chat room in Slack, so you can meet and get to know your fellow students.
Our priority is for you to succeed, so if you have specific questions about understanding and applying the course material, we'll absolutely do our best to help! But to keep expectations clear, 30x500 Pioneers doesn't turn Alex & Amy into your private 24/7 business or life coaches. If you email us for help, we ask that you're respectful of our time and more importantly, that you're actually doing the work and not just asking questions to avoid the work. :)
Beyond the 30x500 Pioneers program, for students who are taking ACTION (even little bits of action, like shipping ebombs), additional coaching is available through alumni only resources like periodic 30x500 Masterclasses and The Forge, our alumni-only community of practice.
Nope. That’s backwards. The 30×500 process won’t help you ‘validate’ your idea — that’s a technique for the land of wishin’ and hopin’ and we don’t teach that here.
If you already have a product THAT’S ALREADY MAKING SALES, the 30×500 techniques can help you make MORE sales and grow your product empire further, by understanding your market even better, and marketing and selling more effectively. Read more here to see if 30x500 is right for you.
You'll get access to a private chat room for you to meet & connect with fellow Pioneers, but it's more of a "social space" not specifically baked into the course itself. There's a good reason for that - community only helps your progress after you're in motion.
30x500 is a formula, a simple bit of arithmetic.
Before we created 30x500 we noticed that a LOT of our very talented friends were stuck – miserable – at startup and corporate jobs they hated. They looked longingly into the world of having a product business of their own, but were faced with the chasm of how to replace their existing income.
If their income was something like – say, a healthy $180k/year salary – they could never imagine themselves building a business to replace that. Until we broke it down for them: you only need to deliver $30/month worth of value to 500 customers to gross $180k/year. That's 500 customers, on the ENTIRE INTERNET.
When you see those numbers, success as a bootstrapping solo entrepreneur starts to look so much more achievable. Hence, 30x500. Of course, both of those numbers are variables. Deliver $100/month to 150 customers, same outcome (with less support!). Introduce a second product, especially one that your existing happy customers are likely to buy, and the numbers start to...well, stack up.
That's why this little bit of math is at the heart of Stacking the Bricks to build your business.
Probably! You don't need to be a designer, developer, or writer to successfully use the concepts that we teach in 30x500. You do NOT need to have technical or programming skills. You SHOULD have the skills to create a product without outsourcing the product creation itself. Do you have those skills?
Hint: if you're currently paid to perform a skill, you can create a product.
If you're not sure, read this first.
And if you're still not sure if 30x500 is for you, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us!
You won't find any US centric concepts in 30x500. All of the Sales Safari work you'll be doing you can do from anywhere, on audiences from anywhere. That's the beauty of using the internet.
And since 30x500 Pioneers is something you can do on your own time, you don't have to worry about time zones. Even the "live" events will be recorded for watching when it's easy for you.
We have success stories from all over the world, and 30x500 Pioneers are enrolled from everywhere you can imagine.
Some countries DO have specific needs for their software (especially once money starts changing hands), but we don't focus much on tools because they're such a TINY part of the process. Any tool we recommend, however, almost certainly has an international-friendly equivalent.
If you're concerned about language issues - specific to the course or the exercises – or if you're still not sure if 30x500 is for you, email us at email@example.com and ask us!
Forever! Once you're enrolled, you'll have continued access to the 30x500 video lessons, PDF workbooks, and exercises. By enrolling in 30x500 Pioneers, you'll also get any updates/improvements we make to the course material through January 2016.
Naturally, the more time you invest, the more and better results you'll get in less time. Duh :)
But we've structured 30x500 so that your results build over time. This means that you don't need to feel like "I need to do this for X amount of time" before getting results.
With that said, we generally suggest that you need 40-50+ hours of safari research before you have enough data to notice patterns that are product-worthy. But it's more important to set a pace that you can keep up so you achieve the results than to "rush" the 40-50 hours and do a poor job.
Part of what you'll learn is to redefine what a "product" actually is. Within the first couple of hours of 30x500 lessons, you'll have learned enough to start shipping ebombs, which are really just tiny, free products.
Your first PAID product will take more work, but the timeline is entirely dependent on your willingness to apply the steps (remember, 9 out of 10 failures in our class are the result of not doing ANY steps).
If you're motivated and focused on your audience, it's entirely possible for you to get results faster. But we're not here to tell you when you can or can't launch. Your results are entirely based on the work you put in: doing Sales Safari, shipping ebombs, backwards planning, and actually launching.
The timing and outcome of "Step 1 - Read Their Minds" is for you to start doing Sales Safari and shipping ebombs. You won't just be doing it once, you'll be doing it a LOT.
By the time you'll have Safari'd and ebomb'd your way to gather enough data and built enough of an audience to be ready for "Step 2 - Build a Business", the material will be ready on your doorstep :)
We're going to be adding new content to 30x500 Pioneers in two main "waves": First, at our kickoff in April (exact date TBD), where we'll unveil the foundation material you need to start Reading Their Minds.
The second wave will come in June, featuring all new material to help you continue to build your business, step by step, and prepare for your first launch. The second wave will also include improvements to the Read Their Minds section. Any new material we add between that wave and January 2016 will also be yours for free.
We've been doing Q&A's in our Bootcamps for 2 years, and have learned several ways to keep those Q&A sessions focused in two ways:
We've never NOT answered all of the questions on a Q&A list with these techniques, it's surprisingly efficient and a lot of fun! Also, since we'll be answering questions via Google Hangout, the entire session will be recorded so you can watch/listen again anytime.
I'm sure we have answers for you - just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2010, we have taught nearly 1000 students from around the world how to build and launch a product busines. In the last 2 years alone, our students have collectively earned over $2 Million. We keep our skills sharp and practice what we preach outside of 30x500:
Amy quit her last (very cushy) job in 2007, opened up a consultancy for Fortune 100 companies, and then threw that all out the window to start a product biz after procrastinating for years. Freckle has earned over $1.6MM in it's lifetime, and her tech ebooks & workshops have earned >$200k.
Her hard-earned lessons in bootstrapping - delivered with her trademark bullshit-free honesty - has helped countless people get off their butts and ship.
Alex founded Indy Hall in 2006 while he was still a freelance web developer, and has grown it into one of the world's first, and longest running coworking spaces. Since, he's midwifed many products and businesses including his most recent, a discussion list for tight-knit communities called GroupBuzz.
Many credit Alex with their starts, citing his non-nonsense credo "JFDI" (just effing do it) as a source of inspiration to stop with the excuses and, well, JFDI.
We also organize an annual sold-out conference in Philadelphia for the product bootstrapper community called BaconBizConf.
Come meet a communty of your peers at the next event!
As a thank you, here are 4 hand-picked articles to get your brain-juices flowing:
If you read and use them, we'd love to hear from you. -Amy & Alex